— 1 —
Before Leo started kindergarten, I figured he wouldn’t like homework. I thought he’d resent that his little brother didn’t have any, and that he had to do homework instead of playing with his parents.
I was wrong.
His little brother begs for his own homework, and I have to create projects so he can sit at the table and work next to Leo—who is perfectly content to do his math and his letters and his cutting and pasting.
As it turns out, the person who likes the homework least—because it eats up our family time and because our little boy is so tired at the end of a long day—is Mama.
— 2 —
Some nights Daniel creeps into our room in the early-morning hours to ask, “Can I sleep in Mama-Baba’s bed?” The answer is always no.
The other night John and I woke up and Daniel was standing in our bedroom doorway.
“Sorry. I forgot to close the door,” he said. Then he slammed the door and trotted off to bed.
You have to love the dramatic exit of a 3-year-old.
— 3 —
We bought a carpet for the dining room. I won’t bore you with the story of how my mother and I tracked down this remnant at a great price and happily carted it home.
The truth is that the rug itself is nothing compared to what was inside it: a monster-sized, super-sturdy cardboard roll. I placed it on our back porch through the rains of last weekend, and then when the grass was dry again I introduced the roll to the boys.
They immediately saw the possibilities. It’s a tree. It’s a pipe. It’s something you can carry by sticking a light saber down either end. It’s a cannon at Fort McHenry.
Now I just wish I had saved it for Christmas morning.
— 4 —
Earlier this week we recognized International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, and it was on my mind for most of the day. I had done an interview for Loyola magazine months ago and run out of time to write it, but that day I felt I had to make it a priority. It’s an interview with a mother who found out her son had Trisomy 18, which meant he wouldn’t likely live long after birth, and she delivered him, stillborn, at 32 weeks.
Through her family journey this woman—Sandy Buck—realized how few resources were in place to help parents facing negative prenatal diagnoses, and so she and a friend started an organization, Be Not Afraid, that offers that support. They celebrate life in amazing ways, helping parents find beauty and joy and hope in what could be a desolate, terribly sad time.
“One thing that we have seen over and over is that at the births, even when the baby dies, they are joyful. The families are prepared and they’ve done a lot of honoring of the life beforehand,” she told me. “It’s a sad event, but because they’re prepared, it’s not devastating.”
Hearing her story gave me a new perspective.
— 5 —
As we were driving home the other night Leo said, “We’re almost home!”
At that moment I realized that if we were still living in our old house, we would still have at least another 45 minutes to drive.
“Isn’t it great?” I said. “We had to sell our house and spend time living at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a while, and then we had to move into our new house, but now we’re there, and we have more play time and more time as a family. So it was worth it, right?”
“Yeah,” Leo said enthusiastically. And I beamed, thinking of how hard John and I worked to improve our life as a family—and how blessed we are that everything fell into place so easily.
Then Leo spoke up again.
“Mama,” he said, “What does ‘worth it’ mean?”
— 6 —
Whenever Daniel sees someone jogging, he says, “Mama, is that a bank robber?” After all, why would anyone run down the street if he or she hadn’t just robbed a bank.
Sometimes I can understand why he asks this question, but a few weeks ago it was a 20-something girl with a blond ponytail and a pink halter top.
Maybe we don’t spend enough time with people who run even when they’re not running from the law.
— 7 —
I’ve finally dug most of my pans out of the moving boxes, so I’m back to cooking. One night Leo and Daniel were going on and on about how great Mama’s spaghetti was, and I was just letting them shower me with praise.
“This meal is so good,” said Leo, “that it’s probably better than what my foster mother cooked for me in China!”
I was a little surprised, but also happy that he mentioned her.
It was then that I realized we didn’t know whether she was a good cook—though we are able to tell Leo some of his favorite foods from when he was a toddler in China.
The next day I emailed the only person I know who might be able to tell us about Leo’s foster mother’s cooking, and she confirmed that Leo’s foster mother likely is a good cook since the children in her care always thrived. So I reported back to Leo. But I didn’t tell him that I bet she’d never dream of using jarred sauce.
What a gift to have connections to people who love our little boys on the other side of the world.
By the way…
Did you see the fake spam comment one of my readers left on my blog about spam? I laugh every time I read it.
Read more quick takes at Jen’s Conversion Diary.