Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Puddle Jumping

Things I want to remember from Friday, June 7, 2013:

(It only took me two weeks to upload the photos. Sheesh.)


Calvin gleefully splashing in puddles in the driveway in his bare feet after a thunderstorm

His brothers coming up behind him and holding up their shorts as they ran through the puddles so they wouldn't get their clothes wet!

Jacob so proud of making it back up the hill on his bike (still with training wheels) without having to get off to push

Ethan swimming so proudly with his bright green puddlejumpers on

Getting caught in the rain at the swimming pool -- a nice, warm summer rain. Except for the thunder.

Calvin delighting in the water so much that when we have to leave due to inclement weather he screams "Baby pool!" over and over until he finally realizes that everyone else has to leave, too.

How kind Ethan was to the little toddler girl in the pool

Jacob being so attentive to his youngest brother Calvin when they were playing outside and how he watched out for him so he didn't go in the street

Getting frustrated and then almost immediately apologizing. I wish I hadn't yelled so much -- it was never, ever ever necessary.

Splitting two hot dogs and drinks at Costco between the four of us, with leftovers. Not to mention the free samples.

Jacob getting so excited about his history book that he read ahead to the next chapter. Also, he asked to take the math placement test that we did together the day before again (!)

Two out of three boys asleep before their Daddy even cames home from work. They slept until almost 7 the next morning.

Taking Jacob out by himself to go shopping for cards and presents for some friends' parties. His love language must be picking out gifts for others.

Ethan's creative attempts to make a fishing boat out of Legos -- complete with an oar and outboard motor.

Taking pictures on the front porch steps (before breakfast!) of the boys' Lego creations to get the best light

Discovering the new running jokes on Arrested Development season 4 with Gaines (after the boys were all in bed, of course)

And....I saved the best for last:Purchasing our neighbor's swing set for a song and setting it up in the backyard.

Summer bliss!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A New Beginning

Back in May, we discovered a haphazard nest in one of the eaves of our carport. Gaines climbed a ladder to inspect it and found a handful of eggs. Once they hatched, he began taking pictures to document the baby birds we hoped to watch grow and develop and fly away.

Then we noticed something odd -- one of these things is not like the other:

Do you see it, there in the back? One bird's a little taller, larger, with a different colored beak. An uglybird.

A cowbird, technically. He took over our nest of wrens. We're not sure what happened exactly, but we figured he hatched early and duped the parents into bringing him food. Lousy parasite.

A few weeks later, he's all that's left:

Look at that plump, smug, pompous sass of a bird, taking up the entire nest. Probably smothered the poor little wrens, eliminating his adoptive siblings and eating them out of house and home. I hope it wasn't literal. We never did see him fly away; we just noticed one day that the nest was empty.

Now, in June, the mother and father wren have returned to clean out the nest and start fresh. Thankfully, they often lay two sets of eggs in a season. They are fragile things, those incubators of life. We pray these new little ones survive to find freedom.

Much like those parent wrens, my efforts at writing over the past several years have been getting smothered. I've been paying too much attention to everyone else's words and failing to produce any lasting ones of my own. (The cowbird in my analogy is the "save" button. Hundreds of drafts that may never see the light.) Of course, I've also felt another kind of uglybird smothering me: the heavy, feathered weight of grief. It's still there, but lifted slightly. I can breathe again.

And so, this summer, I'm clearing out and starting over. (You may have noticed I christened our humble blog with a new template.) It's still the same nest, just slightly neater, with a fresh covering of twigs.

I read a post recently that encouraged me to do something, one thing, anything well. Yes, I love my children well. I may not discipline them well or teach them well or feed them well or pray for them as well or as often as I would like. I've come to realize I will never be the perfect "me" in my head that can memorize an entire chapter of Scripture, have a house full of clean floors, prepare nine servings of vegetables, read five books aloud, bake homemade sandwich bread, and put away seventeen freshly folded piles of laundry all on the same day. But I can write about the imperfect me. The one that spills and slips, yells, crashes, and yes,  even reads and sings and lets my children paint.

They are fragile things, these children and these words that incubate our life. I hope to tend them well, to post often and much, first thing, before those other birds catch my attention with their pretty feathers. Also, to keep away any uglybirds.

Here's to a new beginning.