On Snails and Heaven

Naomi has been a handful today.  She’s tired, waaaay over-sugared, and fairly under-napped as well, since Malachi just HAD to go get his light-saber rightthisminute and forgot she was asleep.  We went to an evening church service tonight. After church the kids ran around in vicious circles screaming and playing and knocking stuff over and sticking their hands in my water (Just, why?) until I was dun-dun-DONE and we left. Titust cried all the way home (poor, sleepy baby). When we got home and it was time to go inside, Naomi was dawdling and then turned around to look at the snail on the sidewalk.

There’s this awkward commercial (here it is) where the guy opens with, “Has anyone else been experiencing a snail infestation?” and I always yell, “Yes! ME!” because every time it rains we get tons of them all over our walkway. It was raining on the way home from church so when we got home – snails. Everywhere, snails.

Naomi: turns around
Jeremy: Naomi, don’t step on the snail!
Naomi: crunch
Me: Naomi! Daddy said no! You killed the snail! It was alive and now it’s dead.

Yes, I actually said that. I shouldn’t have – but I was mad and tired and stressed out and really, really ready for bedtime.  Naomi sauntered proudly into the house with quite the unfazed smirk on her face and I started the “Jackets off! Shoes off! Someone get the baby his paci!” routine when I looked up and noticed Malachi’s lip was quivering.

“What’s the matter, buddy.”

“I’m sad because Naomi stepped on the snail!”

And then he burst into tears.

You guys: this was heartbreaking. 99% of the time if my kids are crying it’s because they’ve been hurt or they’ve been punished. They are little, they haven’t experienced any kind of death yet, and it’s rare that true, genuine, innocent sadness happens. But here it was, sitting in my lap (barely fitting), crying on my shoulder because his sister killed the snail.  After a few minutes he asked me,

 

“But why did Nani kill it?”

“I’m not sure, buddy.”

At this point I notice that Naomi is staring out the window, refusing to look at Malachi and I, completely expressionless. It scares me a little how she can detach herself from things. I turn her face towards me.

“Naomi, you need to tell Malachi you’re sorry.”

Two big tears roll out of Naomi’s eyes, and she quivers, “I’m sorry, Malachi.”  I pull her into my arms and let her cry.

Me: “Naomi, I forgive you.  This is why Daddy told you no, and why you should listen when we say no. He was trying to save the snail and to save you from being sad about the snail.”

Malachi:  “But I’m sad Nani killed the snail.”

Me: “I know, buddy.  It’s sad when something dies.  But you know what?  Jesus tells us that every time a leaf falls, or a bird sings, or a snail dies, He sees it and He cares.  Because He made the world and He loves it.”

Malachi: “How will the snail get un-dead, Mama?”

Me: “Well, it won’t, buddy.  It’s dead now.  But it’s ok – there’s lots of other snails.  God made a lot of snails.”

Malachi: “But I want ALL of the snails to be alive!”

Me: “I know, buddy.  But if snails never died the whole world would be full of snails!  Sometimes animals die to make room for new animals.”

Malachi: “But if Jesus loves the snail, why did He let it die?”

Me: deep breath… “Well buddy, even when Jesus loves something, He still sometimes lets it die. Everything that is alive dies sometime.  Animals die.  People die one day.  Flowers die.  It’s how the world works.”

Malachi: “But isn’t Jesus really sad about the snail?  That Nani killed His snail He made?”

Me: “I’m sure Jesus is sad that the snail died.  But you know what?  He’s more sad that you are sad, and that you are sad, Nani.  He cares a lot more about you than about the snail.”

Malachi: “But how can Jesus love Nani if she was bad and killed the snail?”

Me: “Malachi, have you ever done something bad?”

Malachi: “Yes.”

Me: “And did I still love you?”

Malachi: “Yes.”

Me: “Well, Jesus loves us, even when we do something bad, he still loves us so, so, so, so much.  And Nani, just like I forgive you and Malachi forgives you, Jesus forgives you, too! And he wants you to be happy.”

Naomi: “But it was an accident, Mama.”

Me: “No, you didn’t step on him by accident. You stepped on him on purpose. But you probably didn’t mean to kill him, did you?”

Naomi: “No.”

Me: “Why did you step on him, Naomi?”

Naomi: “I wanted him to move out of the way.”

Me: “Well, next time why don’t you just step over the snails, ok?”

Naomi: “Ok.”

At this point both kids are in my lap, with one arm around me and one arm around each other, having completely forgiven but still sad.

Me: “You know what, guys? We don’t have to be sad anymore. One day when go to Heaven, nothing will ever die, and nothing will ever be sad! Because Jesus will be there.”

Malachi: “But what if there’s snails in Heaven and what if Nani steps on them there?”

Me: “Well, God won’t let that happen because sad things don’t happen there. And we can pray tonight that he will bring us a new snail friend tomorrow!”

Malachi: “But what if Nani steps on the snails tomorrow?!?!”

Me: “Are you going to step on them, Naomi?”

Naomi: “NO! I’m not.”

Me: “That’s good!  See, Malachi?  It’ll be ok.”

This whole time Jeremy was putting a crying, over-tired baby down for bed, so we finally went upstairs and got ready for bed. Naomi went potty all by herself without any prompting (this is HUGE) and that helped everyone feel happier and gave me a good reason to act (and be) super, super proud of her. We read our bedtime story with both kids cuddled up together in Naomi’s bed. When we prayed, we thanked Jesus for dying on the cross and rising again so we could live with Him forever. We asked him to take care of our snail in Heaven and send us a new snail friend. Malachi got a little teary again because that boy is MADE of sensitivity and Naomi got excited that she gets to put another sticker on the chart for going potty.  All ended well.

I know more things were said that I left out – something about the snail turning into dirt to grow food for new snails to eat (which Malachi quickly interpreted as cannabalism #backpedal). And most of what I said was directed at both kids equally – Naomi listened intently to Malachi’s questions and my answers.  Now I can hear them snoring through the monitors and hopefully soaking up all the sleep their bodies need.

For children, disobediance seldom leads to true remorse or repentance, but when her actions gave pain to those around her Naomi’s heart truly grieved over and repented of her sin.  If Malachi wasn’t so sensitive, the whole thing would have blown over.  If I wasn’t so stressed, they probably would never have known that the snail actually died. And even though it was sad, sitting on my living room carpet cuddling with my teary babies and talking gently about Heaven and forgiveness and the cycle of death and new life was such a gift.  He makes all things good.  He makes all things new.

Happy Easter.

 

Kid Convos

Update for the handful of you who don’t know me in real life (*winkwink*): We are 14 weeks along with our third!

Conversation with Naomi yesterday
Me: Do you want the new baby to be a girl or a boy?
Naomi: Boy baby.
Me: Are you sure? What if it’s a girl?
Naomi: BOY BABY!
Me: What should we name the baby?
Naomi: Scout.
Me: What should we feed the baby?
Naomi: Hmmm….water.
Me: How about milk?
Naomi: No, water.
Me: Where should the baby sleep:
Naomi: My bathroom.
Me: What should we give the baby to play with?
Naomi: Loveys.
Me: Loveys are a great idea!
Naomi: My loveys! Give new baby my loveys!
Me: ….heart melt….

Conversation with Malachi today
Me: Do you want a boy so you can have a baby brother or another baby sister?
Malachi: Another baby sister.
Me: What should we name the baby?
Malachi: Santa!

ultra

She doesn’t know she’s big.

The girl was tiny – really tiny.  She looked like a walking baby doll.  She was obviously much older than her size would lead me to believe and when I asked her mom, yep – 16 months in 9-month clothes.  She was beautiful and just so precious.  Malachi was tiny like that, too, and it was the best.  He wore newborn clothes for 4 months, and I carried him around in his infant seat until he was 14 months old.  In a sense you really do get to keep them “babies” for longer.

My daughter, however, is the opposite. 22 months younger than her brother but four pounds heavier.  She is not even 2 but comfortably wearing 3T shirts because of her adorable, enormous potbelly. We are asked frequently if they are twins.  She is stronger than my son.

stuck on a see-saw

And she’s fearless.  She climbs things, jumps off things, and is utterly independent. I let her climb ladders and slide down big slides and learn by doing because she won’t have it any other way and she has plenty of padding to cushion her falls.  Which are frequent.  When Malachi is too timid to try something she goes first and barely notices when he follows her because she’s already off to do it again.  She’s a natural leader who doesn’t even know she’s being followed – she’s just being herself.

She’s heavy, and she’s squirmy.  You carry her for 5 minutes and you are exhausted.  When Malachi hides from scary cartoon characters, she laughs.  She talks in sentences and already knows half her letters and can count to 13 (minus “7”).  She has entire songs memorized.

Two months ago she got a toddler bed for Christmas and she was really excited. She layed in it to watch TV and we set it up in her room that night.  And the poor thing was terrified.  She didn’t know what to do with herself and felt so insecure. Every time I heard her get out of bed she was picking up another toy to put in the bed with her – her popcorn push toy, her Elsa doll, 6 books.  If I told her to go back to sleep she burst into tears.  The next two nights I had to lay with her until she fell asleep and she still wimpered and sniffled.  We switched back to the crib after that, and I dealt with my Mommy guilt for a week.  I was so surprised by her reaction – my girl who leaps from couches, laughs at the guarddogs in our neighborhood, and watches the Frozen ice monster without fear just did not know what to do with herself in a bed with no walls.

pre-freakout

I adore her hugs and cuddles, but carrying her around is so hard.  She’s so big, and so advanced, and so mature, and I have to constantly remind myself, “She doesn’t know she’s big.”  She may not look like a baby doll, but she’s still a baby, at least for a few more days.  Even though she can do things other kids her age can’t do, reach things, open heavy doors, climb on the big kid playground, balance on a tire swing, she still crys when she bonks her head, or when she can’t play with big kid toys, or when Mommy can’t carry her anymore.  She is Malachi’s best friend but she doesn’t understand pretend, so when he tells her that he’s a crocodile and he’s going to bite her, she runs to me for protection.  And I have to say to myself and to my son, again and again, “She doesn’t know she’s big.”

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Your kids don’t either.  They don’t know they are mature for their age, or strong, or heavy.  They know they are your baby and you are their protection.  And in the moments when they are frustrating, or tiring, or needier than you’ve seen them in weeks, remember that most of the world still looms over their heads like so many giants, and most obstacles are still too big for them to hurdle.  You are the one who gets on their level, picks them up, and carries them home.

She doesn’t know she is big, so I won’t forget that she’s little.  She is, afterall, still my baby.

My best friend on my hip

When I was little there was a short span of time when the majority of my life was just my mom and me. I don’t have a lot of specific memories of that time, but I remember feeling happy and content. From the time I was very young until this very day I have considered my mom my best friend – truly my best friend in every sense of the word.

me and mom

I always wanted boys growing up – lots of boys. I think boys are easier, I play better with boys, I relate better to boys, their clothes are cuter, I had a lot of practice with my brothers, and I saw myself in Jo March. But despite all this little-boy-loving, I knew I wanted at least one girl, so we could be best friends.

I knew Naomi was a girl from the moment I found out I was pregnant, and before the ultrasound tech confirmed it I had already seen it on the screen. My pregnancy, like every pregnancy, was both painstakingly slow and surprisingly fast. Her due date was February 22 and on the 20th at 7:00 p.m. I started having very regular, mild, painless contractions and I went to bed early just in case. I woke up 10 hours later feeling immediate disappointment followed by an immediate painless contraction followed by immediate excitement. I sent my husband to work, straightened the house, spent extra time with Malachi, downloaded a contraction-tracking app, put my son down for a nap, mopped the floors, did some yoga, called the nurse to find out if I needed to go to the hospital for painless contractions that were only 2 minutes apart, felt like an idiot when I showed up wondering if I was in labor to find out I was 6 cm. dilated, and 2 hours later there was the most precious, most sweet baby girl you’ve ever seen.

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I was in shock at both how fast and how easy my labor was – and then I was in shock at how fast and how easy my second child was. Having a second child is so different from the first. Nursing came quickly and naturally. I recognized her different cries the first time I heard them. I watched a movie while still in the hospital with her because I didn’t have any problems and didn’t need the nurses. I laughed – laughed – when we drove away from the hospital with both our children crying buckets.

I also put her in the swing a lot, instead of carrying her around constantly. I had another child to tend to. I let her sleep in her crib instead of my arms so that I could play with her (very distraught) brother. I cuddled her and sang to her but we didn’t read as many stories or take as many pictures. I lived each moment because each was so precious and so fast – but I didn’t document as many of them. I was very content in this. Whereas Malachi’s first year felt like a series of highest highs and lowest lows, Naomi’s first year was steady, happy, and calm. Part of me hadn’t realized how very difficult it would be to get alone time with my new baby. She was happy, observant, cuddly, and sleepy. She was easy. I loved every minute with her, but those minutes flew by.

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Now there are times I’d like to play or read or go somewhere just the two of us, but it’s not always possible. Naomi doesn’t care – she sits on my hip and watches what I do. Follows her brother around from her perch in the Ergo on my chest. Follows me around clapping and bouncing from room to room. She’d rather play with my kitchen tools than toys, nap than go to story-time, and sit on my lap and look at iPod photos than read a book. She loves time with just Mommy but given the choice she almost always follows Malachi anyway. She tends to tag along with me on errands and follow me while I do grown-up things. It would be nice to have more “baby” time with her. But then I remembered that the friendship I developed with my mom was built on grocery-store trips, dinner prep, and me following her everywhere no matter how mundane it was. I would rather have helped her clean the bathroom than watch TV without her. We talk nonstop and have 4 conversations at once. We yell at each other and laugh 15 seconds later. We take one car when it’s inconvenient just so we can ride together.

Naomi loves to go with me to the grocery store. She follows me when I’m cleaning the house. She jabbers all the time and I jabber right back. We get on each others nerves and I think it’s hilarious. And even though I sometimes feel guilty when I throw her on my hip and bring her with me to the kitchen instead of going to her room with her to play, she always settles contentedly and smiles at me and I realize – this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Happy (belated) first birthday to my sweet baby doll. I love how adaptable and content you are. I love your silly giggle. I love how you scrunch up your nose and whine when you aren’t happy. I love the way you bounce up and down when Noddy comes on TV. I love your rolly-polly belly that pops out of your ever-creeping shirts. I love that you are still nursing. I love the way you say “Nigh-nigh” when you are tired. I love your head of hair. I love when you give me hugs. I love how you rush to the door when Daddy comes home. I love how you think it’s funny to suck on my finger. I love how you adore your brother. I love the way you sometimes yell for no reason. I love that you smile so big every time you sneeze. I love how you fake cough to get attention. I love the way you sleep. I love how tough you are. I love that you are a dare-devil. I love how much you eat. I love the way you grin when you put on hats. I just love you. And I always will.

102_4048Happy birthday.

 

Dry Cereal and Alcohol and Quality Television and Run-On Sentences and Run-On Blog Titles

You know you’ve had a long day when you are eating dry Cheerios and drinking champagne before the kids are even in bed. Malachi also has a habit of taking a sip of any drink he sees sitting around, no matter whose it is or how old it is or how long its been sitting in the hot car or whether or not it’s fermented.

“Nummy Mommy soda!”
“All done, Malachi! No more Mommy soda! That’s yucky!”
“No, nummy Mommy soda! More Mommy soda!”
“How about a lollipop?”
“Yay, yahyeepop yay! Hahahahaha ta-da!”

The younger me that swore she’d never bribe her children or sit on the couch and watch TV while they clambered over her feet begging for attention “just” because she was tired (so selfish) would maybe be horrified but hopefully she’d just be amused and assume it was a rare occurrence. Which really, it is, kind of, mostly.

My two-year-old’s new favorite game is called “Smack the baby on the head over and over until Mommy reaches me and throws me in timeout” followed closely by “Push her over onto the floor and laugh.” And said baby is cutting four teeth.

So.

Here’s your violin, please play me a song, because no other mother has ever had it as rough as me.

But it is the Christmas season and my house is all decorated, and every time I pulled a new decoration out of the box Malachi would gasp and whisper “Wow!” in the most perfect wonder-filled kid-voice ever. He likes to spit on my Christmas carousel because it’s the only way he knows how to blow and he wants to get it to spin “me-self!” with out any help from me. And every time he passes one (and I have a LOT), he announces “Nutcwackah!” Naomi is teething and stuffy which = finally letting me rock her to sleep again and actually cuddling with me for more than .5 seconds at a time and I love it soooooo much.

And even though I’m sitting here eating dry Chex (YOLO!) and watching Dirty Dancing for the thirty-somethingth time (I really wish that was an exaggeration) and then subsequently being appalled at the trashy commercials on VH1 (shocker) because apparently I have higher expectations of a channel that would air Dirty Dancing on a regular basis and I don’t know how I was planning on finishing that sentence, but it’s gone on long enough, don’t you think? Anyways, life is good. Good enough that I’ve been living it the past couple weeks instead of blogging about it

But Imma blog it up now. Buckle your seat belts for an overload of drama because if anyone can create enough drama to dedicate an entire online diary to, it’s a stay-at-home-mom. And no, I won’t stop blogging about my kids ever ever because, you know…

Nobody puts baby in a corner.

Not even the possibility of a chemical burn can dampen my mood

Just typed out two whole paragraphs, went back and fell asleep trying to re-read them, and then deleted them. You’re welcome.

Yesterday was awesome. Aside from the fact that Naomi quite literally pooped 8 times, all on my shift, and that during one of these times when I was about to change her I heard a bloodcurdling scream from the bathroom that turned out to be the reaction of my poor son who had just sprayed Daddy’s cologne into his eye. Yes I rinsed it, yes I panicked, yes I called the doctor to make sure I didn’t need to take him to the ER, check check check. He was fine five minutes later and I still feel like crap for leaving him unattended with his footstool but “lesson learned” and all that yada and also his hair smelled fantastic all day so there’s that.

Anywho, both kids slept straight through the night the night before and they both took spectacular naps – Malachi had zero night terrors and woke up happy for the first time in a week and Naomi actually took two full-length naps in one day so I guess she finally got around to reading Babywise and praise be. But it wasn’t the great sleeping or amount of alone-time that made me happy. Having the kids sleep in gave me time to start my day with the Lord, which makes absolutely the BIGGEST difference in my day of anything. The great naps gave me time to focus on my to-do list – and actually finish it. Guys, I crossed off every item! That alone makes me giddy not to mention the fact that stuff actually got done. And the finishing the to-do list made my stress level go down to the point of nonexistence. When Malachi got up we baked cookies and he dumped the flour and sugar into the bowl and kept saying “yum, chocolate!” when he licked the beaters before the chocolate was even in it. And Naomi and I played peek-a-book and patty-cake and fake-laugh. Dinner got started, finished, and eaten on time. Jeremy came home from work and I wasn’t frantically pretending I didn’t desperately need to just hand him a kid and go pee alone for the first time all day. I randomly organized something which always makes me happy. It was just a good day.

At the end of the day I realized that this was the kind of day I envisioned when I thought about being a stay-at-home-mom. Not that I expected perfection or perfect sleepers or whatever, but just the ability to approach my day and its tasks and joys and scares and opportunities with peace. And even when Naomi woke up crying with inexplicable gas at 10 and I had to hold her writhing self for 45 minutes, it was ok. I was ok.

Also, this happened:

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I’m not sure what it would look like for me to be able to have this kind of day every day. Not the sleeping and cookie-baking per se, although that would sure be nice. But just the lack of stress. Feeling productive. Having the home be peaceful when Jeremy gets home. I’m trying to identify a few of the things that made this happen:

  • I stayed on top of my chores. For a while I’ve tried to do a chore a day and I schedule it out, but for some reason I just never keep up with it. This week I kept up with it. Not only was it surprisingly easy to do, but it made me feel so much better about myself and my home when I did.
  • I did my devotions first thing. Always a goal, not always accomplished. But so long as I don’t have a child asleep in my bed and I’m not sick I don’t really have an excuse.
  • I didn’t allow myself to sit down at the computer until my list was done. Um, yeah. It’s kind of embarrassing how big of a difference this made. Not that I waste hours and hours online every day, but sitting down “just for a minute” interrupts my focus and my momentum and I practically have to start over whenever I get up.
  • The kids slept really, really well. Here’s hoping.
  • The kids behaved really, really well. Here’s praying.

Today Jeremy is home because it’s Saturday and of course Malachi is ecstatic about that. We’ve run errands and wrestled and cuddled and it’s been fantastic and I’m just really, really hoping this continues but even if tomorrow brings screaming, sleepless nights and endless time-outs and more scum than I can scrub, at least it’s been nice to have a little bit of a break.

Why do I keep punishing you with these?

From the time I set my breakfast down on the table this morning to the time I actually finished it, this is what happened:  Set breakfast on table, start feeding Naomi who is swallowing it faster than I can refill the spoon, argue with Malachi about eating more than 4 Cheerios for breakfast, feed Naomi some more, give Naomi some finger foods to try to buy a minute to wolf down some toast, take Malachi to the potty to pee, come back to the table and resituate Malachi, give Naomi another bite, take my first bite of now cold toast, get up and get Malachi’s fork off the floor, finish feeding Naomi, start feeding Malachi making “choo-choo” noises because it’s the only way he will eat, randomly stuff a bite in between Malachi’s bites, get up and lunge for Malachi’s dropped vitamin before the dog eats it  (I think she might have licked it a little but Malachi will never know), finish eating, get Naomi cleaned up and down from her chair, get Malachi cleaned up and down from his chair, take first sip of coffee, take vitamins.

All the while I was praying that the UPS man wouldn’t come first thing in the morning because I was not at all decent.

Lunch was slightly more organized – by the time I finished my leftovers they were no cooler than lukewarm so that’s something. Malachi let me know it was naptime by beginning to randomly kick and hit his sister. When I yelled at him for smacking her I looked over and realized she was cracking up and thought the whole thing was hilarious. I put Malachi down at 1:30 and then let Naomi crawl around in peace for a minute or 30. Then I looked up to see her crawl into her carseat from behind, wrangle her way all the way in, nearly slam her head on the ground rocking it, fart really loud, then somehow climb out without injuring herself.

I put Naomi down for her nap at 2:00 and sat down to read some e-mail when I heard Malachi’s door open and shut super fast. I marched in to discover him wide awake and beaming with the light on. When I sternly told him to go back to bed he responded with the requisite “See Daddy home!” which means “I want Daddy to come home so I can see him (because you are a horrible mother)!” – parenthesis mine.

Just another day in the Dillinger funhouse.