Saturday, February 19, 2011


John put pencil to PSAT this fall. He blacked in bubbles concerning interests and majors. He scrawled address and now the owls come. They drop beakfuls of college literature into our mailbox. John outgrew watching for the owls a long while back. He was happy to leave that to Claire and Faith and Charlie. Most of our mail is his these days so again he watches. Charlie and Faith and Claire are not happy with his meddling.

John has a routine. Count the envelopes. Slit them open. Separate response cards from letters. Read the letters. Return letters to envelopes. Drop by websites of interest for a visit. Share gleanings from the daily dozen with me. "Mom, Bill Watterson went to Kenyon... Mom, I kind of like the University of Rochester. I can design my own major. There are no specified requirements." For a boy who thinks, lives outside the box, this has appeal. "Maybe I'll major in English or Mathematics. Maybe both."

We're in the midst of a shift in this life we dance. I pause on a toe, wait to see where he leads. Offer counsel, bite my tongue. I have a front row seat to new confidence, diligence, expanding horizons. From here the view is heart stopping. And it is fine.

A recent school day. Do all boys tackle every lesson in a clump??

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Doll Baby

In September I went to a local fair with a fellow mama, I with my five mediums and she with her four littles. She coughed a bit through the art exhibits and the animal displays, and in November a surgeon slipped scalpel between ribs into lung. The cough is cancer. Body and life sliced open; sewn back together, different than they were. Grace pours down and friends, family pour in to pick up the pieces...laundry pieces, meal pieces, soul pieces. My family gets a piece too.

A red-headed toddler comes to us early on Monday mornings while his daddy works and his mama mends. We get to keep him until dinner time and we savor the moments. His father hands him to me when I am in my pajamas and some days I hand him back still in my pajamas and I remember, This is how it is with little ones.

The Doll Baby comes, takes charge, teaches my children lessons they've forgotten. Twelve years we had babies in the house and they who just were babies, who have spent a lifetime surrounded by babies, don't know a thing about taking care of one. Mondays are our best school days! We learn life. Babies put everything in their mouths. Most of the time this is okay. It's baby school. That's how they learn. Move the dog food out of reach, though. One animal cracker at a time. Pull the diaper tabs tight. Runny noses usher in new molars. Grab another tissue.

The Doll Baby can EAT! Everybody helps with the feeding.

Even Charlie, who was meant to be a big brother. Charlie, who still has a bit to learn about feeding babies.

See? I don't think the Doll Baby has ever been this messy in his life. He kept squeezing his sweet potato hands together, looking at them, then looking questions at me. What is up with these hands?

Peek-a-Boo is more fun when played with a herd.

There he is!

Cardboard Tube Cannon, a most fun game. The Doll Baby stuffs a ball into a cardboard tube. Claire squeezes the tube and the ball shoots over his head. Children neglect school books to watch this game. Again! Again! Finally the Doll Baby flops down on the carpet, ball in hand, two fingers in his mouth. Whew! What a workout! I scoop him up, kiss soft cheeks and tuck him in for the afternoon. He closes his eyes, breathes sweet baby breaths. I stand by the crib. Time slows. Babies do that, you know. Slow time. It's a wonder.

A mama gets cancer, God pours grace and in the fire there is joy.

- If you are a pray-er, please pray with us for the Doll Baby and his family. His mama still has some months to go in getting through to the healing side of this story.