Wednesday, March 28, 2012

100 Years

Our church is in the midst of a yearlong celebration to commemorate its 100th birthday.  While our family has only been official members of St. Johns for little over a year, we feel very much a part of this community of faith that has a deep rooted history in our fair city.  Numerous celebrations and festivities have either taken place since January or are scheduled to occur over the next nine months, including a very special worship service.

A few weeks ago, our parish deviated from its normal rite of service for a special bi-centennial worship.  Our current prayer books and hymnals remained in their places in the pews while we followed along in our bulletins with language and instructions (for lack of a better word) taken directly from the 1912 prayer book.  It was simply astounding.  From an aesthetic perspective, it was fun to see some of the women of the church arrive in 1912 garb, or with proper head coverings as was required from that era.  (I for one didn’t get the memo – and attended the service gasp with my head uncovered.)

Once I got past the old language (consisting of a lot of ‘thou’s and thine’s) I was able to settle into a very unique, very meaningful, very purposeful worship.  I really liked it.  At one point, while we were reciting a prayer in unison as a congregation, I looked up to the beams and rafters overhead, to the stained glass windows on each side of me, to the worn and in some places dented wood of the pew at my fingertips, and was overwhelmed by a sense of closeness.  A feeling of awe and wonder came over me as I considered the sheer number of fellow Christians who had stood in the exact same place, worshiping the same Lord.  I felt a sudden closeness - to my fellow parishioners, yes, but also a deeper connection to the church itself.  I wondered how many thousands of prayers those rafters and beams and wooden pews had heard over the last century?  How many hymns and songs of praise?  I wondered how long had it been since those supporting structures had heard these same prayers in the same prose and tense as we were saying at that moment in time?  My mind further trailed to wonder how many times had this space been adorned with festivity for weddings and baptisms, holy days and ordinations, and how many times the wooden bench behind me and kneeler beneath had supported those in sorrow? 

It was overwhelming and strangely powerful to be a part of that service – yet somehow peaceful – all at the same time.

I pray that this small church nestled in the heart of the Shandon neighborhood will continue to grow and thrive over the next century, and beyond.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Catching Up

How many posts have I started - or should have started - with the title above?  Entirely too many.  And it's a shame.  I really enjoy writing.  Unfortunately, writing and blogging have become a guilty pleasure, as it has become a rarity to actually sit down and write.  While there is a list of things a mile that I should be doing right now - I'm trying my best to not think about it - to take a few moments to journal some of the goings-ons of the Party - lest I forget in my fog of busy-ness...

So. In no particular order ...

A little bit about Anna - my girl never ceases to amaze me.  She remains whip smart, sassy and stubborn as they come, bossy as can be, but continues to show me the loving and nurturing side of her little heart.  She still seems to live in the imaginary world - which tends to be the root of our problems.  I finally convinced her to explain where she is when it seems she has wandered off to that special place in her brain - the place where her lips move in whispers and her eyes glaze over like a freakishly scary kid.  The answer?  To play Barbies in her head.  That made no sense to me - so when I pressed the issue of what she meant by playing Barbies in her head - she explained that she thinks about a Barbie movie - except the girls do what she wants them to do - and wear the clothes she wants them to wear - basically coming to life for her.  Excellent.  She continues to astound me with her art - I need to scan or photograph some of it so I can share it with you.  I'd wager a bet that you wouldn't think her work is from a seven-year old - but rather one much greater in age and instruction.

My big girl - all dressed up for her daddy.

A little bit about James - this boy is a hot mess.  I love him desperately, and every day we share is filled with more giggles and silliness from his crazy personality.  He finds humor in everything, and laughs with his whole heart.  I've said it before - but I'll say it again - he lives life 110%.  If ever there was a child who 'sucks out the marrow of life,' James is it.   He seems to have caught his sister's artistic bug - and produces drawings and paintings that are simply amazing.  And he's really coming along with his letters and numbers, and just the other day started sounding out words in an effort to start reading.  Along with his energy and ability to live life fully comes the down side of sometimes too much energy.  It's hard because he can sit still to do a project or draw a picture with no problem - but other times he can't to save his life.  The biggest challenge right now, though, is his clothing.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I'm so over dressing that child.  About six months ago he started having serious issues with anything that he considered tight.  Any pant leg or arm that touched his skin - he couldn't stand.  And tags in collars?  That would send him to a fit of hysterics.  I wish I could say it's gotten better - if anything it's gotten worse.  Every morning he gets dressed is a struggle.  Every night after bath is a struggle.  I told him just this morning I was going to send him off to Borneo or some other tropical island so he could live naked in the jungle.  (Which really upset him - because he is VERY shy about taking his clothes off in front of anyone other than his family - and the thought of living naked was beyond his capability of reason.)

I wonder, though, if some of his issues with clothing stems from the fact that a lot of his clothes are indeed too tight.  The poor boy went from a scrawny size 3T (as a four year old last year) to a size 6-7 right now.  He's exploded in height and weight.  It's insane.  So we're forever trying to keep up with his growing size.  Perhaps some of his issue with things touching his body come from a general feeling of discomfort at suddenly being so much bigger?  I don't know.  All I know is dressing the boy is a t-total nightmare.

I've struggled tremendously with his fifth birthday.  It's such a rite of passage in my world - the closing of the pre-school era - the steps taken toward kindergarten and public school.  I know I'm like every other mother who has ever raised a child when I say the age old words 'where did the time go?'  But for James, out of my three children, I feel that awe the most.  Of my three blessings, I've always felt the most distant, the most disengaged from James, from the day he turned 5 1/2 weeks old.  The day of my mother's stroke.  I was in such a fog for the first two years of his life - torn between trying to be a mother while trying to be a daughter in the absence of my own mother and best friend - that I honestly don't remember a whole lot about his babyhood.  And that's a terrible thing to admit.  But the truth is, I don't remember his first steps, I don't remember his first taste of baby food, and I don't remember his first word.  I rest well at night knowing that he had a happy life as an infant and toddler (how else could he be the insanely happy boy he has become) but I lose sleep over knowing that I missed it.  Yes, I was there in body - and I have pictures of myself standing next to him with a big smile to prove it - but clearly I wasn't there in mind or spirit.  I can see that by the vacant look in my eyes.

The thing is, this whole time I've been telling myself 'there's always more time.'  That there will be time to volunteer at his school and help with chaperoning class trips.  That there will be time to be alone with him to really experience his joy and exuberance for life.  And now that he's turned five - and is off to 'big kid' school in the fall - I feel that time slipping away.  And that makes me sad - very, very sad.
My Supermen

And Jack - my sweet, sweet Jack.  This little guy is the object of my affection.  I tell him all the time that he is so sweet, I could eat him up with a spoon.  He loves to cuddle and snuggle and give kisses - and as long as he's got Airplane Blanket and Pat the Bunny by his side - he's ready to take on the world.  He's still at that golden age of nearly-three where he wants to please - wants to help - wants to do right.  Oh, he'll challenge his brother and sister - and is learning the art of provoking - but really, he just wants to be happy.  We've not yet hit the major independent streak (that always comes) where he protests authority and does exactly the opposite of what we want him to do.  (And I'm not deluding myself - I know it's just around the corner.) So I'm doing my best to savor every drop of his sweetness - until he turns into the three-year old monster who tests the limits of my patience.  He loves to help in the kitchen - and is still the first one to come running when he hears the clink of measuring cups and spoons - pulling his chair up to the counter to 'help  you mama' with whatever it is I'm making.  (He doesn't discriminate - he's happy just to be by my side.)

I'm thrilled beyond measure to say that he's 100% potty trained - and has been so for months (including night time.)  Don't ask me how that happened - I can't tell you.  He just seemed to be ready and did it - and I'm thankful it's over.  But, like many mama's I know, the passing of diapers for big-boy-briefs is a tiny bit bittersweet.  (But not that bittersweet - I can't say I'm missing purchasing diapers and wipes and having to change them.)

And a little bit about me - to be totally honest - I'm struggling.  Struggling with my day-to-day life - trying to keep the kids and their activities and their homework in check while balancing with my career and professional organizations and volunteering and church.  Daily I feel like I've failed - when I've succumbed to the stress and pressure and barked at my sweet children to just hurry up and put on shoes and get in the car.  I hate the rushing - rushing to get to school, rushing to get to work, rushing to get to church.  I hate the yelling and barking to get in their seats and buckle in.  I hate the constant push to be somewhere - and like a good friend pointed out on her blog - I wonder what is so important about that somewhere.  The other day I somehow got sucked into a documentary about the Amish people (while I was folding an enormous load of laundry) and thought to myself 'you know - it might not be so bad to be Amish - I bet I would be really good at that.'  Is it sad that I'm craving a simple life - where I don't have to be responsible for cities who do stupid things and end up violating state and federal laws - where I don't feel guilty for not doing enough to support my community's civic organizations - where I don't feel the pressure to make sure my kids are in the right activities and engaging their brains enough - where they have more time to play and be a kid without being shuttled off to daycare or preschool or ballet or soccer or whatever place we're going?

Someday it will get easier - different, I'm told - but on some level easier.  Right?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Supehero James

James turned five on February 19.  It boggles my mind that the sweet little baby I remember from his birth day is now a true little boy - heading off to kindergarten in the fall and bringing to a close his early childhood.  What better way to celebrate than with a party of superhero proportions.

 I started the party theme with a superfun superhero invite (gotta love photoshop)

 My first attempt at fondant.  Not too shabby ... I don't think I'd sell any cakes, but
James liked it - and that's what counts.

 Sweets table

 Superhero Lollipops - a thank you for the superheros for their hard work

Superhero Sugar Cookies

Table Settings (kids got to take home the cup + silly straw)

Whats a party without Hot Tamales?

Superhero Capes + Masks
The kids had to earn their cape and mask by completing super-special
superhero training.

They had to run like the Flash...

Leap over tall buildings like Superman...

Swing on a web and climb the side of a building like Spiderman...

And Fly like Superman.

And what superhero party would not be complete without a true villan who appeared
to try to steal away the birthday boy's fun?

Thus The Riddler made an appearance.
(Thanks to a good friend, a bottle of orange hairspray, a bit of research on You Tube, and a
bribe of a snazzy bottle of bourbon.)

The Riddler told all sorts of silly riddles - that the kids didn't understand - but laughed at
like hyenas.

Then they were tasked with their superhero training (to be able
to fight the villan and all.)

James was first to 'fly.'

And climb the side of a building.

And leap/crush small buildings.

Anna followed suit.

Such a prissy girl when she runs!

And even the littlest superheros got in on the action...

Working hard to jump over those buildings.

After donning their superhero cape - the kids had to then dispose of the kryptonite
that the Riddler threw at them (following a barrage of more corny riddles.)  And to do so they needed
to wear special kryptonite-proof gloves and use special kryptonite-disposing tongs.

It was very hard work.

And after that training - they all received their superhero masks - and special
web slingers (silly string) that they would use to capture the Riddler, should he make another appearance.

Which he did - and was appropriately covered in Spider webs.

Until Daddy came and handcuffed the Riddler - and led him off to the appropriate authorities.

But not before posing for a final shot...

Superhero James Defeats The Riddler!

Then it was time to eat - Wonder Dogs, Veggie Shooters, Fruit Cups, and Energy Boosting Chips,
followed by birthday cake and cookies.

And a rousing 'Happy Birthday' to our little superhero.

Happy Birthday my sweet Superhero James!
You truly make my life more fantastic and silly than I ever thought possible!

Note - many of the party ideas came from One Charming Party's superhero party.  Tons of great ideas - that made for a truly Super party!