Archive | April 2013

Oo-ooh, that smell


Here’s the song reference.

I was going a little crazy running around this morning, and I managed to lose track of Mr. Man for a few minutes.  At some point, I heard the door to the upstairs bathroom close, then the heavy thuds of a three-year-old boy doing two-footed jumps down the stairs.  When I heard the door to the boys’ room open and close, I figured he had brushed his teeth, then headed downstairs to play with the spiffy food playsets he received for his birthday.

Until it was time to round up the tribe for a quick run to the grocery store, I really didn’t think any more about his foray into the bathroom.  When I went downstairs to retrieve him and see if he might be aromatic, I was quite surprised that, in addition to the unmistakable odor of a pull-up in need of changing, he was surrounded by an oddly floral scent, which emanated most strongly from his Chuck E Cheese t-shirt.

As I went about cleaning up his odoriferous bum, I had a little chat with my oldest son.

“Mr. Man, why do you smell like flowers?”
“Bugaboo likes flowers.”
“Yes, she does.  Mr. Man, did you spray yourself with something?”
“Yes.  I spray pee pee in my diaper.”
“Mr. Man, honey, did you spray something on your shirt?”
“Yes, I spray something on my Chuck E Cheese shirt.”
“Did you borrow Bugaboo’s perfume?”
“No, I not borrow Bugaboo’s perfume.”
“Where were you when you sprayed something on your Chuck E Cheese shirt?”
“I spray something on my shirt in the bafroom.”
“Was it the upstairs bathroom or the downstairs bathroom, sweetie?”
“It was the upstairs bafroom.”
“Do you remember what color it was?”
“It was BLUE!!!!”
“Very good, then.  Mr. Man, if you want to spray anything you find in the bathroom, please come get Mommy first, so I can tell you if it’s good to spray on you.  If it’s not something good to spray on you, I will help you find something that is good to spray on you.”
“Okay, Mommy.  Are we ready to rock and roll?”
“We will be soon.  I need you to put your shoes on and put your play foods away, okay?”
“Okay, Mommy.  Then we can rock and roll!”

After lifting the big fellow down from the changing table, I ran up the stairs and flung open the door to the upstairs bath.  Quickly perusing the contents of the vanity top, I ascertained that there were, in fact, three bottles of blue liquid thereupon.  One was mouthwash, one was ordinary Windex, and one was the Windex touch-up cleaner that’s become my best cleaning buddy of late.  I’d been cleaning the bathroom yesterday and completely forgot to lock them back up under the sink.  From the floral smell, I could eliminate the possibility that he’d been into the mouthwash, and experimental sniffs of the other two bottles revealed that he had, in fact, scented his shirt with the touch-up stuff.

I managed not to break the bathroom mirror when I banged my head against it.

After securing the cleaning supplies, I headed back down the steps to have a little more of a chat with Mr. Man.

“Hey, buddy.  Have you picked up all of your play food?”
“I looking for one more piece of the cake.  Baby Guy hid it again.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Man.  Here, I’ll help you look.  By the way, can you show me where you sprayed the blue stuff?”
“I spray it HERE!”  He pointed vigorously to Chuck E’s ears.
“Did you spray it anywhere else?”
“Nooooo.”
“Did you get any of it on your face or in your mouth, sweetie?”
“No, Mommy.  Is destinkifier.  Mr. Man put the destinkifier in his armkits, like Daddy.  Destinkifier is NOT TASTY.”

I managed to choke out a request that he change his shirt before I had to flee the room to keep from laughing in front of him.

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your bright and inquisitive blessings, who look to us for examples of how they should behave.  Thank you for the moments of great humor that result when their imitations are imperfect, and for the twin graces of laughter and gentle redirection.  Please help us gently lead them in the ways they should go, and guard our tongues against the examples we would not have them follow.  Kindle in their hearts a desire for Your wisdom above all else, and until they have attained it, Lord, please give me the presence of mind to lock up all of the cleaning supplies.  Thank You for Your providence, that led Mr. Man to put it on his shirt instead of on his face or in his mouth.

You can go your own way


Here’s the song reference.

After the dinner dishes had been cleared away this evening, Manie and I were pleasantly surprised to discover that the girls had, in fact, cleaned their room satisfactorily.  We sat and read stories with the girls for a while, until I remembered a box of wooden toy cars I had stashed in the back of one of the kitchen counters.  While the girls were drinking their milk, I quietly put their art kits and the box of cars on the table; upon further thought, I put Manie’s out as well.

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No one needed a second invitation to gather for an art project.  I puttered around the house for a few minutes before I joined the rest of the car-coloring crew, who had quickly decided that markers were the proper tool for painting wooden cars past bedtime.

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We had to moderate a minor disagreement between Bugaboo and Beanie.  Bugaboo has developed a habit which we are trying to redirect, which involves insisting that anyone who is not using her preferred colors is not exercising creativity correctly.  That’s an overly diplomatic way to say she tells Beanie that Beanie is “coloring wrong,” which upsets Beanie to no end, and leads to an exchange that goes something like this:

Bugaboo:  “Beanie, you’re coloring that all wrong.”
Beanie:  “No, I’m not.  Mommy, she’s telling me I’m coloring wrong.  I don’t want to use her colors.”
Bugaboo:  “You should be using this color instead of that one.  And then you’re going to say yours is more beautifuller than mine.”
Beanie:  “No, I don’t like that color, and mine IS more beautiful than yours, because I picked the colors myself.”

Tonight, I interjected as soon as Bugaboo started to tell Beanie how to color her cars.  Beanie had delightedly informed us that she was making a rainbow car, and Bugaboo piped up, “You ALWAYS do rainbow stuff.  You should do it . . .”

“Bugaboo, let her be, please.  If she wants to make rainbow cars, she can make rainbow cars.”
“But, Mommy, then she’ll want everything to be rainbows.”
“That’s okay, Bugaboo.  You do yours your way, she’ll do hers her way, and Daddy and I will each do ours, our way.”
“But she . . .”
“Bugaboo.  What colors do YOU want YOUR cars to be?  I’m putting a blue and yellow flower on mine.”
“I can’t decide what color to use.”
“Well, take a minute to look at all the colors you have there.  Which one do you think is the prettiest?”

Beanie proceeded to color one rainbow car and one black one, Bugaboo created a pretty good variety of designs, including one car she reversed to look like a pickup truck, and Manie and I had a good time coloring cars with our daughters.  We chatted as we worked, one of those aimless and meandering conversations that ranges from whether apples or bananas taste better with pancakes to whether, if Manie was a superhero, he would be Iron Man or the Incredible Hulk.  When he explained to Bugaboo and Beanie that he probably would not fit into Iron Man’s suit, Beanie chimed in with, “That’s because you’re big and chubby, Daddy, so you’d be better as the Hulk.  Could you fit in his clothes?”

If he could have stopped laughing long enough, he might have answered her.

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for all the colors, and for four little blessings whose eyes can see every one of them.  Thank you for their desire to add color and light to the world, to re-create Your promise by painting rainbows everywhere.  Please grant us the grace to diligently teach them that we love each other even when we disagree, and while one of us may draw flowers and another butterflies, the love of You and Your law unites us.  Help us teach them to always speak the truth boldly, but to do so tenderly and with the intent to help, not harm.

If you want to, you can cream on me


Here’s the (utterly inappropriate) song reference.

Whipped cream, the kind that comes in a can, is a very big deal to the kids on my husband’s side of the family.  I remember one of the first family dinners I attended featured a dessert that involved the yummy stuff, and Niece, who was not quite four years old at the time, rushed over to Zio to get a little “spruff” (Italian for froth) sprayed directly into her mouth.  Having received the coveted treat, she scampered off, giggling, only to return for another helping a few minutes later.

Niece was greatly delighted when Bugaboo reached an age where she was permitted to have a little whipped cream of her own.  Whenever there is dinner at Deedaw’s, and whipped cream is present, there appears a line of little opened mouths (and one no longer so little, as Niece is now thirteen), anxiously awaiting their spray.  The smaller they are, the messier this enterprise becomes, but it is always conducted with great good humor and no small amount of laughter from the children and adults alike.

Deedaw decided to come over to our house for dinner this evening, and, in spite of my usual insistence that she didn’t need to bring anything but her beautiful self, she arrived bearing a bag with the makings of strawberry shortcakes.  We had a chuckle as we realized that, given the family sweet tooth, there was a pretty strong possibility that all four members of the tribe would find some way to finagle not only one of the chocolate-filled, chocolate-frosted cupcakes we’d baked that afternoon, but also a decent helping of sugared strawberries and spruff.

It was one of those rare and blessed evenings where not one child decided to argue about the necessity of eating everything on his or her plate, and thus, when the dishes were cleared away, everyone was deemed eligible for dessert.  Out came the pan of cupcakes, the angel food cake, the tub of sugared strawberries, and, wonder of wonders, the tall metal can of whipped cream.  Before Manie could even get the cap off the can, he was surrounded by what looked like a convention of the world’s largest, featherless baby birds, all vocalizing wordlessly their desires for the contents of said can.

In deference to Deedaw, we did make an effort to ascertain who wanted which type of dessert before we went wild with the spruff.  Since Deedaw had expressed a preference for strawberry shortcake, we made sure she had a plate properly piled with cake, berries, and whipped cream before we risked touching the nozzle to any tiny mouths.  As they waited, Baby Guy, Mr. Man, and Beanie tucked into cupcakes, while Bugaboo daintily nibbled at some berries and cake.

Baby Guy’s manual dexterity still has considerable room for improvement, but, at almost 22 months of age, he has concluded that the absolute best part of any cake is the frosting.  If there is frosting inside and outside (as is the case with filled cupcakes), so much the better, and every fleck of frosting must needs be enjoyed by as many of his five senses as possible.

april 2013 003

And why, yes, we did have spaghetti for dinner.

He also managed to score a couple of strawberries to accompany his chocolate, all the while madly flailing his chubby little arms, trying to attract the attention of the holder of the whipped cream can — in this instance, Manie.  He finally succeeding in convincing Manie to circumnavigate the kitchen table (no mean feat when there are seven people seated thereat), and opened his mouth wide in anticipation.  He actually got a couple of mouthfuls, because we were trying to get a good picture.  Fortunate son.  Of course, Manie being the fair-minded Dad that he is, he made it a point to even up the whipped cream distribution after the camera had been put away.

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who derive great joy from the simplest of things when delivered by loving hearts and loving hands.  Thank You for the opportunity for Manie to bottle the very last batch of Nonno’s wine with Bugaboo, just as he and his brother bottled it with Nonno when they were little children.  Please help us teach Your blessings that Your bounty is endless, and that it is far better to exult in a can of whipped cream and the company of family than to complain about those worldly goods or experiences we wish we had.  We would show them the joy in our humble, everyday life, Lord; please inflame our hearts with the grace to revel in Your bounty, instead of wishing we had the bounty of another.  Grant, we pray, that we may always find joy and a stronger faith in the little things.

She can see clearly now


Here’s the song reference.

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Very early this morning, our phone rang with sad, although not unexpected, news.  Great-Grandma, after 97 years on this earth, had left us, and there was an urgent need for someone to get over to Deedaw’s house, so that she would not be alone when her sister called with the sorrowful tidings.  Manie quickly bolted out of bed and threw on the nearest available clothes.  While he was washing his face, a sleepy-eyed Bugaboo wandered out into the hallway to ascertain the cause of the commotion.  Upon being informed, she declared that she would like to help comfort her Deedaw, and actually managed to get dressed while Manie was still tying his shoes.

I made a couple of phone calls in the short interlude before the rest of the tribe awoke.  Beanie was our next riser; she shambled out to the kitchen and inquired as to the availability of hard-boiled eggs.  While the eggs were cooking, and after she had consumed enough juice to brighten her eyes a bit, I snuggled her in my lap and told her Great-Grandma was gone.

Beanie blinked slowly, then cocked her head to the side before slowly asking, “So that means Deedaw lost her husband AND her mommy?”

“Yes, sweetheart.  And she’s sad.”

“I would be sad.  I am sad for Deedaw.  I love Deedaw.”

“I know you do, noodle.  Daddy and Bugaboo and Zio and Nephew are with her now to make sure she has lots of hugs and kisses.  We’ll go over there, too, but a little later.”

“Okay.”

april 2013 001

I called Deedaw a few minutes later, just to say, “I love you,” and see if there was anything I could do from across the river.  She demurred, but said she’d be very happy to see the rest of the tribe once everyone was feeling civilized.  As we were saying goodbye, Beanie stretched out her hand for the phone, and I asked Deedaw if she had a quick moment to talk to her youngest granddaughter.

Beanie took the phone and said her good mornings, then calmly stated, “You lost your mommy.”

Deedaw said that indeed, she had, and that Great-Grandma had gone to Heaven.

Beanie replied.  “Yes.  I’m happy for her.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the blessing of Your faithful servant, Dorothy, without whom our little family would not exist.  Thank You for welcoming her to a joyful eternity and a beautiful reunion with her husband, Daniel, and for releasing her from all suffering and pain.  Thank You for the quiet childish wisdom of her namesake, Beanie, who so perfectly clarified our faith when she explained that she was sad for her Deedaw and happy for her Great-Grandma.  As we bear each other’s burdens in the days and months to come, please grant us the grace to see Your love in all the gifts You send, and to recognize them AS gifts, even when it’s hard to see them through worldly eyes.  Please, Lord, bestow upon us the wisdom to use this time to teach Your blessings how to persevere, how to show compassion, how to say “I love you” without using those words or giving material goods.  Keep us mindful of Your assurance that those who mourn are blessed, and let us love one another as You have loved us.

Giving the best of his love


Here’s the song reference.

When we were expecting Bugaboo, we received a great deal of advice from many corners regarding Bo, who is now the elder canine statesman of the house.  Bo was almost insanely protective of me for quite a long time, and, while he had mellowed significantly by the time we were planning our eldest daughter’s arrival (he was 6 1/2 at that time), there was concern from most of the family that he would be displeased about, and perhaps aggressive towards, a new baby person.  I must confess that while we gently dismissed those concerns, Manie and I were just a smidge worried about Bo’s reaction.  Sheila (a border collie/schnauzer mix who left us at the ripe old age of 15 1/2 two days before Christmas of 2008) and Gretchen (a thoroughly enormous Plott hound who died shortly before her 8th birthday in 2011) had always been the very pictures of gentleness towards children, but Bo had a history of being skittish around them.

I don’t think we’d been home from the hospital more than ten minutes before we were able to discern what Bo and Jackie’s relationship would be.  She had managed to poop on the car ride home, so I whisked her into her new bedroom and set about changing her diaper.  Bo bolted past Manie, put his front feet up on the changing table, and, after giving her tiny toes a very gentle sniff, proceeded to bestow upon said toes the tiniest, most delicate puppy kisses I have ever seen a 75 pound dog give.   He has been her constant companion and guardian since that moment.

Bo has had a couple of strokes in the past year, and, at nearly 12 1/2, he walks gingerly and slowly.  He’s relinquished watchdog duties to the younger (and twice as big) Smudgie, although he still makes it a point to let Smudgie know who the alpha dog is from time to time.  He sleeps heavily, and has so few teeth left that we had to switch him over to soft food about a year ago.

Nonetheless, Bugaboo faithfully makes time to pet her oldest friend every day, to sit by him and speak gently to him.  She and Beanie actually have had many altercations over whose turn it is to feed him his “crinkly bags” in the evening, and he knows that if he’s prowling for table scraps, the best seat in the house, for him, is under Bugaboo’s chair.  He doesn’t play much these days, but he sighs contentedly when she brings out handfuls of Transformers, fairies, and toy animals and plays sitting next to him on the floor, and grouches at Mr. Man and Baby Guy if they try to make off with any of her toys.

One of the daily rituals at our house is the afternoon nap.  I am generally awake at 5:00 a.m., and generally don’t get to sleep until sometime after 11:00 p.m., so after lunch, I desperately need to lay down for half an hour (or an hour, or on some blessed and wonderful days, an hour and a half) so I can finish the rest of the day upright.  The boys sleep in their cribs, I stretch out on the living room sofa, and the girls have a daily dispute over which of them will get to sleep on the loveseat.  If there’s something intriguing on television, whoever doesn’t end up on the loveseat usually curls up with pillows and blankets on the floor.  On those days, Bo usually sleeps on the floor of the girls room, which has very soft carpet, while Smudgie sprawls between the floor-sleeper and the loveseat-lounger.

Today, Maryland was playing in the NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament, an event I deemed worthy of a little extra TV time.  Bugaboo lost the loveseat lottery today, and thus was, somewhat unhappily, piled up with her stuffed penguins, pillow, and blankets in the middle of the living room rug.  Beanie quickly fell asleep while I was still explaining to Bugaboo that if she found her accommodations unsatisfactory, she has a perfectly good bed in which she could nap.  Finally, she settled in, and Smudgie deemed it safe to stretch out between the couch and Bugaboo’s head, where he stood a decent chance of getting his paws patted.

I thought I heard Bo’s heavy, halting tread coming up the stairs as I drifted off to my own nap, and figured that when I awoke, he’d be sawing logs in the girls’ bedroom.  When I awoke, this is what I saw.

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There are moments when the tears fall before I realize they’re there, and it took me a moment to comprehend that there was nothing wrong with the camera’s focus.  I watched them silently for about fifteen minutes before Bugaboo awoke, pausing to hug Bo before she headed for the bathroom.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for blessing our family with furry members, who have loved us as tenderly as we have loved them, sometimes more so.  Thank You for the many lessons You have taught us through their lives, from the wonder of watching puppies grow to the devotion of caring for a dog who has grown frail with age or illness.  Please help us teach Your blessings that while You created mankind to rule over the beasts, we are to do so with great gentleness and love, and recall that You made Your covenant with all living creatures after the Flood.  We would keep ourselves, and Your blessings, ever mindful that the trust our dogs place in us must be met with the love You show us, that we should look to You as the example of a good and loving master, Who safeguards His charges faithfully and with tenderness meets all our needs.  Please grant that we may love as unreservedly and forgive as readily as the dogs You have sent to guard and teach us.

I’m gonna reach out and grab ya


Here’s the song reference.

Today was a catching up on housework sort of day, which meant that, other than meals and a quick run to the grocery store, all of the tiny people had the day to do more or less as they pleased.  I could have drafted them into service, but, honestly, I wasn’t all that delighted with the thought of tripping over them as I carried laundry upstairs and down, and, as their laundry folding skills still need a lot of work, the thought of having them help me fold ten loads of the stuff was unappealing as well.

The girls and I did manage to rummage through a box of craft supplies before the boys arose, and Bugaboo and Beanie then passed a pleasant hour making beaded bracelets. They each cheerfully bestowed one upon me, and I wore them throughout the day, to their very great delight.  More lovely than the colorful beads, though, was Beanie’s proclamation as she stretched the elasticized cord over my wrist, “Mommy, now you have something beautiful just like you!”

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I love my job.

Later in the day, as I was making sauce and meatballs for a pasta-and-meatballs dinner, Baby Guy meandered into the kitchen.  His vocabulary has exploded over the past couple of months.  His favorite word is “really,”  which he utters in an appropriately plaintive tone whenever one of his siblings does something that runs contrary to his wee toddler desires.

His favorite phrase, however, has been the subject of much merriment at our house.  You see, Baby Guy is WILDLY ticklish on nearly every part of his chubby little anatomy.  This works out well, as he is a ridiculously happy little fellow, who loves to laugh.  When he is bored or a bit blue, he will wander up to the nearest person and inquire, with a hopeful smile, “tickle tickle tickle?”

When our youngest tramped into the kitchen, I was rather busily trying to convince some exuberantly simmering sauce to remain in its pot while trimming the stems off several bunches of broccoli.  Generally, adding a curious toddler to any situation that involves boiling liquids and sharp knives is a recipe for disaster.  We are most blessed in that Baby Guy’s preferred method of observation, when it comes to culinary activities, is the stand up on one of the kitchen chairs and peer over the back.  This is likely because he’s been around a couple of times when some hot oil has become overly excited, causing Mommy just jump around holding a wet paper towel to her face and saying words that cause his sisters and brother to get into a great deal of trouble when they repeat them later.  The boy is wise beyond his years.  But I digress.

Having successfully tamed the wild sauce, I turned to play a little peekaboo with Baby Guy over the back of the chair upon which he stood.  With a mischievous little grin, he clambered down from the chair, stumped two steps backwards, held his little arms out towards me, and cheerfully asked, “tickle tickle tickle?”

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I wiggled my fingers at him.  He shrieked out a barrage of joyful giggles, retreated two more steps, then took a tentative step back towards me, still smiling broadly.  I wiggled my fingers again, and got the same hilarious result.  We kept it up until he finally backed into the refrigerator and plumped down heavily on his well-padded little bum, whereupon he literally fell over laughing. I nearly did, too.

All the while, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man were happily playing with the play food sets Mr. Man received for his birthday.  It’s rare that I have a few moments to play with Baby Guy (or any of them, really) alone.  They’re gifts.

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You, for little blessings who rejoice in the days You have made, who constantly remind us that joy is a choice that is pleasing to You.  Thank You for the moments when we laugh at the simplest of things, and for Your constant reminders that happiness does not come from any created thing, but from You, the Creator.

Lord, we humbly ask that as you welcome Hope into Heaven today after her hours of life here on earth, that you comfort her parents, Todd and Laura, her brother Nathanael, and all those who wait in joyful hope to meet her at the end of their own days.  Please enfold those who mourn with Your peace, fill them with Your grace, and send Your love to them through the embraces of all those who love them.

A love supreme


Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo awoke while I was in the shower this morning.  When I emerged from our bedroom, still shaking a couple of stray drops of water from my ears, Manie greeted me with somewhat of a mysterious smile.

“Wait until you see what Bugaboo just did.”

Our oldest daughter sprinted down the short hallway towards me, clutching a piece of newsprint handwriting paper in her wee hand.  She thrust it at me with a gigantic grin, exclaiming as she did so, “Look, Mommy, I did this all by myself!  I just wanted to write something, so I wrote this!”

There, glowing blue against the grey paper, were the words to the Sign of the Cross prayer.

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I should point out that penmanship lessons with Bugaboo have been compared to wrestling greased anacondas in the Amazon River.  For several seconds, my jaw opened and closed, but my vocal cords were unable to cooperate with its motion.  Bugaboo stood there, the joy on her face starting to fade to uncertainty, so I resorted to the simple expedient of sweeping her and her paper up in my arms and hugging her tightly.  When I regained the ability to speak, I whispered into her hair, “I am so, so proud of you, sweetheart, and God is too, because you thought of Him.”

She has never before asked for a piece of paper and a writing instrument to simply write down what was on her mind.  Manie confirmed that this was, in fact, what had happened, and that he had not helped her in any way — he thought she was writing one of her pretend letters, which are generally composed of wavy lines running across the page, narrated as she scrawls.   He was as thunderstruck as I was when he saw what she had done.

Manie left for work, and we passed a pleasant hour before the rest of the tribe awoke.  I praised her more for deciding to create her own handwriting practice, and then yet more for choosing a prayer for her practice passage.  As she left the table to tiptoe into her room for a fairy doll retrieval mission, she casually said, “You keep telling me that if we put God first, everything else will fall into place.  So I had God be the first thing I did this morning, and now I’m happy. I should do something for God first every morning so all my mornings will be happy.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for blessing us with Bugaboo, who sees through all the complexities adults try to impose on faith and reduces it to what it true, right, and simple:  that You commanded us to first love You with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. If we begin each day with You, Lord, the day’s petty annoyances and even heavy trials are bearable, because we have started by remembering that You are with us always and in all things.  Please, Lord, grant me the grace of a prayerful heart, and as we train up Your blessings in the ways they should go, keep us ever mindful that if we put love for You first, while we may be odd in the eyes of the world, we will be doing Your work whithersoever we go.

S-O-D-A, soooda


Here’s the song reference.  If you’re not familiar with Weird Al Yankovic’s work, you might want to give it a listen.

I keep a very small stock of diet soda downstairs for when Grandma visits; she enjoys a properly iced glass of the stuff with her dinner, and I enjoy taking care of those small things that make my mother smile.  The cans stay in their little box in the basement until the night before her arrival, at which time a suitable quantity of fizzy beverage is placed in the upstairs refrigerator.  After Grandma’s last visit, we procured a new box, and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, it waited near the stack of boxes of old books, quietly gathering the yellow-green pollen that invariably accumulates on everything in the basement when the tribe forgets to shut the door.

After a quick foray to the park this morning, we came home to make puppy puppets out of discarded oven mitts; our theme for this week is dogs, which has led to many Clifford stories being read and many dog-related art projects being concocted (incidentally, if you are a FiOS subscriber, there is a lovely little short about guide dogs on MagRack).  While the glue was drying on their masterpieces, Bugaboo and Beanie decided that a little more time exploring the great outdoors was in order, and that playing with Smudgie would be a good pastime for “dog week.”  Mr. Man and Baby Guy quickly followed heir big sisters, which gave me a chance to scrub the stray glue off the table and put some cheese rolls in the oven for lunch.

Once the kitchen table no longer presented a health hazard and the oven timer shrilled its cranky tones at me, I called out the kitchen window that there was, in fact, food to be had, and that wise children would quickly come devour it.  Bugaboo and Beanie raced each other up the steps, alternating complaints about who might have made physical contact with whom on their way up.  Mr. Man followed a moment later, his eyes brightening when he saw the big bowl of sliced apples next to the platter of cheese rolls.  As our three eldest impatiently surveyed the luncheon offerings, I inquired of them, “Where’s Baby Guy?”

“He’s still outside.  At least, I think he is, ” Bugaboo offered helpfully.

“Yeah, he’s ousside, ” confirmed Mr. Man.  Beanie was too enthralled by the mere presence of food to respond.

“Okay, guys.  You know the deal.  We eat together, so I need you to wait while I go get Baby Guy.”

Beanie’s wordless wail of protest followed me down the stairs and out the back door.  Sure enough, there was Baby Guy, hands covered in the potting soil from the pots on the patio table where the girls are trying to grow beets.  Laughing, I scooped him up with a quick, “Food, dude!” and headed back to the house.  As he nestled his head against my shoulder, as he is wont to do, I caught a whiff of something sweet — just as I tripped over the empty soda can.

Once inside, I looked for the box of diet sodas.  Sure enough, the tab on the end had been ripped open, and the box now stood empty, the pollen from the flap collecting in a grimly green blob next to it.  Sighing, I carried Baby Guy into the bathroom to wash his wee hands, managed to avoid looking like a refugee from a wet t-shirt contest, then tickled him upstairs and into his high chair.

We prayed grace over our lunch, and I held my curiosity until the last morsel had been eaten.  My working theory was that Mr. Man, who is fascinated by canned sodas and takes particular pride in presenting them to anyone who visits our home, had probably emptied out the box and put most of the soda in the downstairs refrigerator.  He’s done such things before.  What he had never done was actually open one of the cans.

As the three non-highchair-dwellers were putting their dishes in the sink, I inquired, “Mr. Man, did you take Grandma’s sodas out of the box?”

“Yesh, Mommy.”

“Mr. Man, did you open the sodas?”

He looked aghast at the very suggestion, and Bugaboo helpfully volunteered, “No, Mommy, I did that. I wanted to give the beets a drink of soda.  Beets are sweet and so is soda, so I thought they might enjoy some.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, who revel in all the wonders of Your creation.  Thank You for their loving hearts that cherish all life, for their tender care of our beloved Bo in what are likely his last weeks, for their fervent desire to bring forth new life from dirt and seeds.  Help me, Lord, to nurture their love of the truth, that willingness to admit their own fault even when it would be expedient to let another take the blame.  Please grant me the wisdom to teach them the right way to make connections – that while two things may be sweet individually, combining them leads to a big mess and a dead seed.  We would raise Your blessings to be good stewards of Your creation, Lord, and to worship You through their care for it.