Wednesday, September 17, 2014

OBoyX2014

There's some things I just won't ever be able to do.
Thoracic surgery, walk on the moon, graduate level mathematics, thinly slice an onion, just to name a few.
But one of my worst skills lies in my inability to choose a few favorite pictures to post for a blog.
I've spent hours reliving our wonderful seven ocean-front days through sunny and glowing images and every time I whittle the pile down I realize I've only added 15 more to the end.
Even the blurry, out of focus, salt spray on my lens, sand in my eye pictures somehow capture everything that makes us so in love with being at the beach.
And so this post has probably a dozen pictures too many, but I gave fair warning.
Our oceanfront week started cloudy, gray, stormy, and cold. It made for perfect relaxing, walks on a wind blown beach, pictures of crashing white capped waves, and napping to the sound of water.
But in between rainstorms and thunderheads, the sun would appear and little boys would attack the beach and pool with fury.
I've come to the conclusion that the oceanfront really is one of my boys' natural habitats.
They slept outside when they needed to, ate outside and didn't mind the extra sand in between their fruit snacks, played long and hard and used up energy that would otherwise go towards sledding down our stairs.
This vacation week was full of milestones and emerging personalities for the boys.
Harrison learned to swim! The kid is a fish and I stood in awe as my big guy kicked off across the pool with no help, thrashing, or any resemblance to a drowning victim.
He was a legitimate swimmer and we were pretty proud. He also became an expert boogy-boarder, body surfer, and an army men beach war general.
Jefferson inched further into the surf this year conquering the panicked feeling of undertows and unidentified objects under ones feet.
He also took up boogy-boarding, army men sand battles, beach napping, and keeping the look-out for great white sharks.
Wilson, in true Wilson fashion, decided the ocean needed to be put in its place. He was out to tame the sea and establish who was boss.
It didn't matter how many times he was rolled over, pounded in the surf, salt water up his nose, or flipped head over heels, he came up laughing, sputtering, and turned to head back into the tide.
Which brings me back to my love for every single picture my camera captured.
To me, every single frame is a precious gift of time held in place of little boys who are growing fast.
The beach pictures each year are showing babies growing to boys, who are growing to men. 
And so that's why twenty-one pictures fill this post. And to show that I have a little self-control by not posting thirty. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Static Noise of Parenthood

"You blink, you'll miss it. They'll be grown and gone."
I probably hear it ten times a day from well meaning strangers. And every time I feel my heart squeeze in the thought of my boys heading into the world as men with facial hair, deep voices, and dreams to conquer and achieve.
The precious little time I actually have with these guys sometimes gets overlooked amidst the piles of dirty laundry, the broken dishes, and marker on the walls.
But then when I look at my oldest man and realize he's 5 going on 15, I panic. Am I teaching him everything I should?
Am I going to wake up to an adult and realize I totally overlooked something I wish I had done, taught, instructed, instilled?
Have I read enough parenting books, taken enough parenting Bible studies, talked to enough experienced parents?
 The answer? Probably too many. 
Articles and blogs say "teach to share...don't make them share too much...obey with a happy heart...don't make them obey without freedom to express their feelings...feed them non-gmo and organic...let them eat childhood classics..."
And all the resources, ideas, opinions, and studies are just noise. I'm not an expert. Only five years into this parenthood thing, I'm quite the novice; but I've learned this - glean what you may from all sources, but there's only one that calms this momma's heart, brings peace to the unknown, and finds no greater joy...
...To daily ask God for wisdom. He'll give it.
 One day I'm sure I'll look back and wish I had done something different, but I'll never regret the time I've spent praying, growing, and chasing after God alongside these little men. 
The time will fly, it already is. So thankful the Creator who knitted them in secret will freely give wisdom to guide them into manhood.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blanket Security

When Harrison was born he quickly adopted a soft blanket with an airplane print as his security. It went with him everywhere.
He didn't sleep, eat, ride in the car, go to the grocery store, church, doctor, grandparents' houses, or the playground without clutching his "airplane". I quickly heeded the advice of more experienced mothers to buy multiple of these blankets so I could switch them out for a wash.
I was so afraid I was going to damage my child emotionally if he ever discovered the existence of the other "airplanes." I mean, for his development to continue on a normal track we couldn't risk the stress he surely would experience if he knew his one security was, in fact, several.
Matt and I went through great lengths, acrobatic displays, ninja skills, and heart stopping "close calls" to keep Harrison from discovering the truth lest his whole baby world be shaken. And then baby two came...
...who also chose a silky blue blanket for his security. We looked high and low but we could not find an identical second to switch out for cleaning or "just in case" moments. I panicked at the thought of Jefferson now facing horrible childhood trauma since his mother could only find a close match.
But he didn't bat and eye, never cared, nor seemed to notice when he had the solid or the pattern security "blue blanket". Both boys soon discovered the existence of multiple "securities" and neither succumbed to emotional damages.
By the time Jefferson was coming up on 2 years old, he knew when his preferred solid blue one was getting a wash and would wait it out patiently, then switch them himself when the dryer buzzed. I was in awe, or shock, or maybe just weaning off the "panic over everything with your first child and panic a little less with the second" syndrome.
So by the time baby 3 came along and he too chose a fuzzy blue blanket to call his own I was pre-stocked with several choices and ready for the secret switching and hiding them in laundry piles from my blanket sniffing hound dog baby.
But I only lasted a few months. With the other guys turning out well adjusted and not suffering from any stress disorders I realized maybe I was the one looking emotionally stressed going through great lengths to keep multiple security identities hidden.
Now Wilson has three fuzzy blue blankets. He keeps one with him at all times, but the other two are stacked in his dresser and he knows right where to find them. I've walked in to see him nestled inside all three at once with not one ounce of, "you've destroyed everything I was ever sure about" syndrome. Now I just laugh at the memories from the past five years of our heart pounding adventures to keep blanket identities secret and wonder what we currently do that we'll laugh at five years from now.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Baseball at Three

I'm gonna see Baseball. It's a real game, but not the big one in Washington D.C..
I'm gonna bring my glove because if I catch one of the balls I get to keep it forebber.
I'm gonna play baseball! I'm gonna be the best baseball man ebber!
I don't yike hotdogs at baseballs games, I yike peanuts at baseball games. I see the infield, and the outfield...hey they're on the same field!
When can we sing, "Take Me Out To Baseball" song? 
I'm gonna wear a red and blue jersey when I'm a man baseball an and I'm gonna be the best one in the whole world!
I'm gonna have my name on the big tv and I'm gonna hit the ball realwy hard! Over the wall! I'll be Jefferson Clark, #1!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The "D" Word

I'm going to jump back into what I started. It needs to be discussed, talked about, taught, and practiced. Why? Because we're at war. A real war, with real lives, with real consequences. We lose that mindset through weeknight sitcoms, educational pursuits, losing ten pounds, and checking social media. 

The distractions stealthily pile in around us until we are lulled into a day-in-day-out mode of operation. Subtly, our marriages suffer, our children suffer, our relationship with God suffers, as we are none the wiser. 
And the war wages as we catch up with Netflix and tell the kids to go play somewhere else. 
Please tell me a war, any war, any battle, skirmish, minor altercation that ended well if one could not identify their enemy? How in the world does any military hope to be victorious unless they can correctly, quickly, and assuredly identify their enemy. The various sides throughout history up until present study their enemy, to learn habits, schedules, fighting styles, techniques, weapons, location, movement, and communication patterns. 

How can we, the Church, hope to engage in the daily battle if we don't acknowledge our enemy? The "d" word has become a word thrown out along with hardback hymnals and alter calls in the new church era. I'm not saying the Church can't stay current, just don't get stuck in it. 

Our kids, tomorrow's soldiers, need to know their enemy, his tactics, his schemes, his style of attack. How can they be on their guard if the devil is never mentioned? As if talking about him might usher evil to our door. No. Identify him. Expose him. And train to fight his attacks.
My boys are not unaware of who the devil is. We openly talk about their, our, my enemy. He's seeking to devour, to steal, kill, and destroy and I want these soldiers to be on their guard, not taken off by the wolf in sheep's clothing. 

We talk about his attack plans, his subtle ways that may not look like the enemy at first. They may be disguised and leave us curious and questioning. We discuss his plans to confuse, distract, divide, and devour. And we discuss our strategy, our weapons, our Savior, and His ultimate battle plan. 

The boys are young and we arm them only with what they are strong enough to carry for this present time, but my five year old can rebuke the devil in the dark hours of the night when nightmares creep stealthily in to rob him of peace. My three year old loves prayer walks and prays over neighbors and strangers knowing the power behind his Savior's name, "Jesus."
My five year old even came to us this morning, "One day," he said, "I know someone might say something to make me wonder if God really is real. If what I believe is true. And I'll know, it's a sneak attack. Satan is using the questions to make me get hurt, but he can't hurt me! I have God in my heart and he's more powerful and I just have to say, 'get away from me Satan!', and ask God to help me stay strong." 

I cover this might little man and his little brothers in prayer that they will always stay keen to their enemy. 

Church, teach your children who their enemy is. Train in battle, be on the alert. And recognize one of the devil's most stealthy attacks, distraction. Put down your phones, remote controls, iPads, and Kindles. Pick up your "Sword" and teach your children to fight. 

"So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith." 1 Peter 5:6-9

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jones Point

Are y'all ready for this shocker? This family loves water.
If you've been reading this blog as long as say, last week, you'll know we were made for sea and sun.
So keeping my hydromaniacs satisfied in between oceanfront excursions means searching out adventures as close to water's edge as possible.
And a combination of reading blogs and getting lost has found us some pretty neat adventures along the Potomac.
Recently I've employed google maps and just wander a 50 mile radius looking for any pristine spot waiting to by stomped and muddied by three powerballs.
This week's map hit was Jones Point Park; never heard of it? It's ok, most of DC hasn't either and it's ok with me if it stays that way.
Tucked in the lower corner of Old Town Alexandria, is a hidden spot of history and water front exploring.
It boasts one of the only remaining riverine lighthouses in the country and the only one on the Chesapeake Bay.
Apparently this was a happening place back in the late 1800's but it was blissfully peaceful and solitary for us...
...until my boys got there that is. But I read that at one point the lightkeeper in the early 1900's had his wife and 11 children living in that little house so that made the noises my guys were making seems little quieter.
But even with their antics, scraped knees, and climbing...on everything...the boys appreciated the spot for what it was. I've never seen them so still with so much waterfront play waiting to be had.
In fact they asked passing kayakers if they knew if the lighthouse for sale so we could buy it. But I have a feeling, with our water love, we'll be back, soon.