Tuesday, December 20, 2011

gingerbread generations (with additional pictures)

I love my mom.

I love that when she's around it's like I twist back the lens of my perception and really look at my kids, not just "look after them" but look at them. Instead of  "watching" them, all my mommy senses tuned in to anticipate all their needs and wants, but just to watch them be who they are. (I also get to literally take my camera in hand and capture everything)
That's a gift my mom's presence gives me. To see my kids. 

She's so good with them. And man they love her. 

That's another thing I get to see--my kids love. I know they love me, but sometimes I'm so caught up in "rearing" them, analyzing my every word, reaction and tone, hoping that the sum total of them all will be enough to instill all the virtues and values, character traits and personal strengths I hope for them, so busy with the assumption I'm suppose to be "moulding", I forget to see who they already are. To see how much love they possess in their little souls. There willingness to let us grown-ups be "special" to them.

Tonight I saw McKye's openness. 
How he'd repeat every word "Gran-ma" said, copying her tones, even her slightest exasperations. 
I saw him be so aware, and so quick to take it all in, even if he had no idea what it meant. 
I saw him have confidence. 
He'd wait for some instruction but he wasn't afraid to try, or scarred he'd do it wrong. 
He wanted the gum-balls all on top so thats' where he put them. 

I saw his joy and his freshness. I've loved watching hims unravel and figure out Christmas this year. 

His little mind taking note of and recognizing  with such exuberance"Christmas trees!", "Santa" and "Baby Jesus!"
His whole existence right now is like one big discovery after another.

I saw Levi, also so aware, so ready to be a part. 
No limits (no idea of "I'm too little to climb up that chair") 
I see his eagerness to reach out and touch the world and figure it out by his own little experience. 

Willing to climb right in to life.

How do we develop so much trepidation and doubt? When do we cease to explore existence, and cling to the known, familiar and already understood instead?
(these kits are just too easy, even though the icing tastes horrendous,
and the gingerbread is definitely more "building material" then "edible",
I couldn't resist the train one!

I loved watching McKye's "baby" hands with my moms (that remind me of my grandmas now)-- generations of fingers sticky with icing. 
I liked thinking about McKye seeing my hands one day against his own kids pudgy wrists and them reminding him of his grandma's hands.

And in the end we had a gingerbread train, 
which was really a less important bi-product of the night of togetherness. 
I loved that we got to share that with my mom. 
Loved that I could stand back and take pictures (which always helps me really see things)

Our structural design may have not taken into account the weight of McKye's gumdrop placement.
Love the oooey-gooey imperfection-perfection of it all.

"Ooooooooo!" Levi's official critique.

This picture makes me miss my grandma. Makes me miss her for my mom too. I was only eight when she passed away, and perhaps because my memories of her are so young, so little, the intensity of my love for her always surprises me. Then I realize, sometimes love just is big to begin with.
Because as nice as moments like these are, and as grateful as I am for them, there is something more.
My grandma is part of me. The pieces of her that became pieces of my mom and are now pieces of me.

That my very existence depends on her existing first. I'm having such hard time describing what I feel to be true. Their is a connection beyond the time we spend, beyond the traits we share, beyond DNA or aging hands. I feel that a lot of my love for my grandma has developed with her on the other side, but close. A type of closeness that isn't tangible or even really thought about, it just is. Maybe the same way a child takes for granted their mothers nearness.

I almost wonder if her passing, allowed her to be with me more, than if we'd had to schedule visits, arranging to share the same physical spaces to "get together".

My mom didn't love these pictures of herself.
Thought she looked old. Maybe that's why I love them.
 I see her becoming the softness my childhood mind feels in my memories of my grandma.

I remember my mom with her harder, quicker hands, so competent they were mesmerizing. Her adult abilities my childhood aspirations. Her hair dark like mine, before her mothering began.

Now as my own grey hairs arrive along with my children, surfacing under the dark, it's like generational de-ja-vu.

Aren't I the child in the bed? 
Isn't that McKye in the dress?

And before I know it I'll be the grandma.
And one day, I'll leave the quiet of my empty nest and come into the loud-bustel of the young homes of my own grown children.
And maybe I'll help them make a gingerbread house.
And maybe they'll take out a camera and really see their kids because I am there to show them the marvelouness amidst the constancy.

And maybe I'll feel a similar surge of gratitude as I do now, for the threads of life that bind us together, so tightly we start to forget where we stop and others begin, and see just love all blurred together.

(my aunty was kind enough to send me this picture of my grandma in her dark-haired days, Christmas '58...my mom is holding the pink dolly)
Another one my aunt sent. Which was really fun...I have all my oms picture of us kids memorized, it was interesting to see one I'd never seen before. Wow, Mckye looks like me! 
My fav gingerbread house picture Aaron 2008 (Those look like Levi's hands!)


                              *     *       *       *      *
She laughed again. "You know, some things don't matter that much...

the whole problem with people is--"

"They don't now what matters and what doesn't," I said, filling in her sentence and feeling proud of myself for doing so.

"I was gonna say, The problem is they know what matters, but they don't choose it...

The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters."

(The Secret Life of Bees,  by Sue Monk Kidd, pg 147) 

Monday, December 19, 2011

My original Santa "baby"

Well shoot, I was gonna post this before Family Home Evening night, for all my Lethbridge friends.
You've probably all heard of it anyway. When Ben came hoe wanted to go see the house with lights set to music I admit, I wondered if a few youtube videos of the same concept might be just as good. But it was super fun to see live!
I get a tad excited (trying to get the kids into it, ya know)
 I didn't realize Ben was doing a video...haha.

And to make it even better... look who the proceeds go to:

It was SUCH a nice outing with the kiddos. And it got even better when my friend introduced me to the new love of my life: Candy cane white hot chocolate!
How come candy canes are so gross, until they get smashed up and sprinkled on top of stuff, then they're just delicious!?!

Then on Sunday we had a beautiful all music Christmas Sacrament meeting at church. 
I somehow neglected to grab a program and had no idea when the three numbers I was participating in were...oppsies. Between that and trying to hand off kids, it's was a little christmas miracle I managed to stay on beat to conduct one number and remembered what the piano accompaniment sounded like for another.  My favoriste was singing with Benny though. They were looking for people who sing, and I tattled on him. I could listen to him sing forever...my eternal bonus! We were in a quartet of O Holy Night.  (Which is the song my sister-in-law just happens to sing like an absolute angel...so it was nice to get a chance at it.) Thanks Benny.

My favorite line? (that almost got me emotional every time we practiced)
"In all out trials, born to be our Friend."

Then we whisked off to the Chinook Autism Society Christmas Party 
and Sensory-Sensitive Santa.

It took me a moment when I saw "Santa" to realize it was my friend Desiree, who's little boy Cameron is also in Aaron's class and on the spectrum too. I love her. And I love that she loves Aaron. Just like I love Cam.  A "get it" friend.
 Such a blessing.

Been a while since I sat on Santa's lap.

Christina Spooner, our CAS president,
& amazing advocate mom!

Seeing how BIG Aaron was on Santa's lap made me thing back to his first Christmas. My little Aaron.

So from the ol' Bretzke scrapbooks (back from the days when I actually scrapbooked) here's soem gooders...


That tubby-tub and BIG hands, reminds me so much of Levi right now!

Can't believe my baby is my kindergartener! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

REality check (this may hafta become a regular thing!)

If you are still in the process of raising children be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled, will disappear all too soon, and that you will, to your surprise, miss them, profoundly.” 

― Thomas S. Monson 
( I choose this picture cuz he seemed to be teasing!)

Will I? 

Will I really? 

Cuz somedays  "all too soon", can't come soon enough.

I know intellectually that our children's childhood is fleeting and that we're suppose to cherish it, but somedays the constant mess threatens to put me over the edge.

Ben said today, "I think if I was a stay at home mom I'd get depressed...in like 2 days."

I guess in a round about way that was a compliment? I did appreciated the validation.  But I also smiled at him and said, "You'd be okay. You find nice mommy blogs to make you feel better."

So here's post to make you all feel better.

Cuz our reality today included:

Aaron being fed spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar for dinner (and the saddest part being, I was really excited about it, cuz he's been even stricter on his "acceptable foods" as of late)

And Levi finding said jar, yup that's him up to his elbows, when he'd already been changed into fresh jammies.

My lovely post on the "joy" of our hands on nativity...
I do love it, BUT it also means I find this every 3 minutes:

Cuz I really did need one more thing to pick up regularly.

My flames-less candles I was so in love with, ended up like this

Everything that gets thrown in the garbage, keeps magically "reappearing". Thanks Levi.

And even though this looks fun Daddy...come Monday morning when the kids wanna slide down the stairs on my couch cushions all day long....let's just say sometimes the weekend fun just isn't very "sustainable."

Ahhh reality. 
This week I listened to a interview with Virginia Hinckley Pearce...there was a part on mothering I just loved. (There's no official transcript, so this is my best, listen and type)

Q: [Tell us about your philosophy in those years a as a busy mom?]

A. Mothering was a hard start for me, frankly.
It really was, I had some things in my head about "if you work hard things work". I had a colicky baby and I would really really hard and it didn't get better.  I would work hard all day long and nothing happened. It was confusing for me It was a confusing start. Frankly when the twins came along, it was a break threw for me, because I all the suden realized that I couldn't manage, I couldn't make things happen the way I wanted to make them happen . I couldn't control things. and with three little children that young, I looked at myself and said "Oh let's redefine what success is here."

I just didn't know what success looked like anymore. Number one, if I can keep these children alive....keep them alive and keep them fed and take care of them when they're sick that's gonna be "success".

Q. What would you, what do you tell your own daughters about these really exhausting years?

"I don't think you can tell anybody anything, I think it's an experience were meant to have and we're meant to grapple with. 

And I think it's a wonderful experience for a couple. We've read lately how hard children on a marriage, we haven't heard what they do for a marriage either. It's were you really learn to take care of each other. and where you really come to the bottom of both your reserves and you know how to go to the Lord together....it's how you figure it out together, surely it strains a marriage but it builds a marriage too"

I really appreciated that. 
Because I feel like so many days Ben and I just look at each other like: Okay we KNOW this is the most important thing, but we're just tired! We need to do this better, but can we just put them to bed and try harder tomorrow????

It's s easy to say "go"---go watch a show, go play with your toys, go to bed. It's so much better to say, "come"---come sit with me come read with me, come work with me.

Somedays I feel like I have all the parenting principles, all the doctrine, all the whys floating in my head, but that doesn't help my kids one bit. It's not enough to know my kids need hugs, I hafta hug 'em. 

So back to Pres. Monson:

To you who are parents, I say, show love to your children. You know you love them, but make certain they know it as well. They are so precious. Let them know. Call upon our Heavenly Father for help as you care for their needs each day and as you deal with the challenges which inevitably come with parenthood. You need more than your own wisdom in rearing them.” 
― Thomas S. Monson

More than our own wisdom. More than our own strength. 
To do this, to do it well, we need the Lord.