A Bat Dream

Over the past year, I’ve posted some notes and stories on Facebook that I’d like to save. Since I now have a blog, I decided to save those stories on here so I have them all in one place.

This story is from last summer about Annalise missing her cousin so so bad. It is the perfect story to post today for two reasons:

1) Today (March 10) is my mom’s birthday. And I’m pretty sure there is no one she loves more than her 5 (+1 on the way +2 in Heaven) grandkids. Except maybe my dad. But grandkids are a close second. Closer on some days than others… am I right, dad? All kidding aside, mom always loves a good grandkid story, and this story is about 3 of them. So, happy birthday, mom!

2) Annalise has really been missing her cousin Ellia lately. Just this morning, she was carrying around pictures of her and talking about when she’ll get to finally see her again. We really miss that girl. So so bad. And her mommy and daddy and sister. We are hoping to get to see them soon. And when we do, there will undoubtedly be stories of antics from FOUR hilarious kids – 5 if my other sis and fam get to visit, too. Until then, most of the stories will be of our two. But that’s okay, because even on sad-and-missing-my-sisters days, these two bring joy in a thousand different ways.

So here it is… “A Bat Dream” – June, 2011

Jacob has a giant blue blow-up bat that is as tall as Leesie. (No, I would not purchase such a ridiculously tempting sister-beating tool for him, but a nice boy gave it to him at the Raspberry Festival after Jacob tried to steal it about a dozen times. Thank you, “nice” boy.) Anyway, it is the only thing in the house that is the exact same height as Annalise, it is easily transportable, and it is the perfect squeezable toy for ginormous hugs from a girl of the same height.

So, naturally, Annalise took possession of the bat and named it “Ellia.” The real Ellia is Annalise’s same-age cousin who is a missionary kid living in Indonesia.

Annalise misses her dearly, and since Ellia left, Leesie has played with an invisible playmate she named “Pretend Ellia.”

Blue-bat Ellia has replaced Pretend Ellia. Finally, Ellia exists in a physical form… just one of a giant blow-up bat.

Having a physical replacement-Ellia seems to be much more fun for Annalise than an invisible-Ellia. First off, inflatable-bat-Ellia can give hugs. Well, not really give hugs, but hugs are definitely easier than with invisible-Ellia. Annalise squeezes the bat tightly and says, “I LOVE you, Ellia!” Then she kisses it, talks about being friends forever, and tells the blue inflatable how much she has missed her. And although she used to dance with Pretend Ellia, I now know where to look when she says, “Mom, watch Ellia spin!” So yes, inflatable-Ellia has been a step-up, (or I should say an upswing.)

But it has also been a problem. Mainly because Jacob also knows exactly where Ellia is now, too.

Sometimes, Jacob gets a hold of “Ellia” and beats people with it… I mean her. Or, he whacks the end of the bat on the ground. Both generate blood-curdling screams from his older sister about him hurting Ellia’s head. Never mind my head. Or arm. Or whatever it is Jacob can reach at the moment with the 3+ foot tall bat.

Other times, usually when Annalise has just set Ellia down for a moment, Jacob grabs her and runs as fast as he can out of the room with a big goofy grin on his face. This is usually a very comical site, as inflatable Ellia is much bigger than Jacob, and he doesn’t run very well when he isn’t holding anything in his hands. And of course, Annalise is right at his heels yelling, “JACOB!!!  PUT!  ELLIA!  DOWN!  NOW!!!!!!!” This usually makes his goofy smile even bigger, and sometimes even triggers a giggle. I’m thinking we’re in real trouble here…

But the biggest problem with inflatable Ellia is not that Jacob can run off with her, tormenting his big sister. No, I’m certain the biggest problem is yet to come. At the moment, Annalise spends nearly all her waking hours at home telling Ellia what to do. And at the moment, “Ellia” is nothing but compliant.

“Ellia, you sit here. I will sit here.” Ellia does.

“Ellia, lay down and take a nap.” Ellia does. And for as long as Annalise desires.

“Ellia, you sleep on the bottom bunk, I’ll sleep on the top, okay?” No arguments from Ellia. Not even about the choice of blanket or pillow.

Next year sometime, the real Ellia – the one that Annalise misses so badly that she actually carries around a giant inflatable toy to give her some sense of her presence – will be here. And I’m thinking she won’t be quite as accommodating to each and every one of Leesie’s demands. In fact, I’m thinking she may have a few demands of her own, as she is also a strong little three-year-old much like her cousin. (Right, Auntie Ko-Ko?)

I’m just so curious how this meeting will go, when both strong little girls at last get to be together to play – with a playmate who has her own strong opinions. Not to mention, there will be two (three, counting Riley!) younger siblings together to torment their older siblings as a team. And from what I know of Jacob and what I’ve heard about mischievous Alyssa, I’m thinking the combination of Jacob+Alyssa will be more than 1+1=2.

Whatever happens, I am so looking forward to the time when we can all be together and cousins can play and make memories like the ones I have of growing up with my own cousins. They are some of my greatest memories.

Although a giant bat may not argue much, real cousins definitely have more interesting things to say, and you don’t have to carry them everywhere you want them to go. But most importantly, they can return ginormous hugs with their own arms. That is a moment I dream of for both my kids, and for me. Auntie Holly loves you so much, real-Ellia. And your mommy, daddy, and sister too!

The REAL Ellia and Annalise running to meet for one of their ginormous hugs. Early Spring, 2010. I can’t wait to see this again…

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Baby Steps

Want to make me bawl like a baby?  Hurt my family.  Make fun of a kid.  Tell me a sad story of heartache.

Or apparently, give my daughter a haircut.

That’s right, folks. We did it. We took our girl for her first ever hair cut.

She was born with a full mop…

and we’ve let it grow…

and grow…

   

and grow…

   

and GROW!

   

Until it was so long, that she was in danger of Auntie Ko-Ko putting her hair in a bun.

~ Side-story: My little sis, Kylie, once had hair as long as Annalise when she was young. She liked it in a bun for bath-time. One night, she forgot to have someone pin it up and was about to step in the tub when she remembered. Running into the living room buck naked, she asked someone to put her hair in a bun. My older sis, Korie (11 1/2 years Kylie’s senior) volunteered. As Kylie backed her little naked body up to Korie, Korie grabbed her hair and stuck it right between Kylie’s butt-cheeks and said, “There. It’s in a bun.” Kylie didn’t find it funny. Korie found it hilarious.

Korie may live in Indonesia, but I still think it’s best to avoid bun-length hair. ~

For Leesie, as it is for all of us, some hair days were better than others…

   
So with her hair approaching “bun length” and with more frequent bad hair days recently, we thought it might be time to get it chopped.

I probably should have taken her in when she told Auntie Nee that her hair falls in her potty when she goes. (I don’t really think it did.)

Or maybe I should have scheduled the appointment 4 months ago after the Target fiasco. Long story short: Me, 2 kids, 1 dirty public restroom, 1 full cart of yet-to-be-purchased household necessities left in the clothing section as I run with said 2 kids to the potty for an “emergency” and end up with 1 girl’s long hair in the toilet as she bent down to pull her pants back up. I saw it coming. I hollered. Then gagged as she pulled wet hair back out. It could have been prevented if I had a free hand. But I happened to be busy frantically putting Jacob on my shoulders to stop him from reaching in the little secret garbage box in the stall, then frantically pulling him back down and covering his mouth after he tried to look over the stall at the nice lady next door. “Peek! I see you!”

In any case, I postponed the haircut because I wasn’t sure I could go through with it. Those baby curls at the bottom of her long beautiful hair would be gone. They’ve been there 4 years, 4 months, and 17 days. No – even longer, since her hair was growing well before she was born.

So today, when we decided to finally do it, I was nervous. She was nervous. She couldn’t eat breakfast because her “tummy felt funny.” I couldn’t eat breakfast because I was crying. She brought bear-bear to hold. I just held tissues.

  

“How much do you want cut?” the hairdresser asked.

Not much. Baby steps. I don’t want her to grow up. I’m not ready for this. “Oh, just an inch or two. We still want it long.”

  

Matt says it doesn’t look much different. I am happy about that. Maybe next time we can go shorter. Or not. We’ll see. For now, I’m just trying to figure out how to survive her growing up when I couldn’t even keep it together at the hair salon.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did keep one lock of baby curls. I’ll have to keep them in her baby book. She certainly isn’t a baby anymore. I love you, my big girl!

  

Tested

I was so gung-ho about a blog. I was excited, motivated, and had lots of things I wanted to write about. But then this week happened.

I will not go into details, but basically, this has been one of THE most challenging weeks I can remember: spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, parentally, vehicularly, worldly, and teacherly. And I’m certain I’m missing some other -ly in there. I can really only think of 2 or 3  weeks in my adult life that were harder. I am drained. Completely emptied. I have not felt joyful.

Talk about testing my “Lift my eyes to the hills” challenge. Finding my joy? Ummm…. we won’t go there.

So I’ve decided I need to write. Because I need to focus on the moments that did bring joy – even if there weren’t many and they were short lived. And as I am spending a lot of my week trying to remember where my help comes from – because I’ve needed that help sooo much – I also need to be thankful to Him who is the giver of all good things. So here are this week’s “good things” in no particular order:

1. My husband. Wow. What a rock he has been. I am so grateful.

2. Jacob. Oh man. I could go on and on about the joy this kid brings. But one of my favorites recently is when he gets super protective and tells off someone who touches me. Daddy, the chiropractor, you name it. He scowls. And with his furrowed brow, he says, “No do dat!” or “You no kiss my Mama!” (That second one was to daddy, just to be clear.) I also love when he bursts into song then pauses and says, “I singing, Mama! I singing! Sing too!”

3.  An unexpected visit at some family/church family/friends’ house. We laughed, were entertained by Jacob’s singing, and enjoyed our time immensely. Up until the last 5 minutes when  “Parentally Hard Act I” took place. But such is life.

4. Mom home from Indonesia! Phew! 3 cheers for being able to talk on the phone with my mom when I want to! (Which is daily. Sorry, Matt.)

5.  Our pastor’s wife bringing Jacob up front during church to help her make an announcement about the nursery expanding. I’m pretty sure he knows when he’s doing it, but he completely melted my heart when he waved and said, “Hi, Mommy!” Because in all the whole congregation, I’m the one he’d want to go to.

6.  Celebrating my brother-in-law’s birthday. Because Tom is a cool guy and, well, chocolate cake is always good. But more importantly, it was nice to visit with Matt’s family. We haven’t done that in a while. And we got to see Matt’s mom’s new business. She is the new owner of Curves in Lynden. The remodel is astounding! It actually makes me want to work out. (If you haven’t seen it, you should like it on Facebook and check out the before/after pics!)

7. Valentine’s Day dinner. Not the whole day. Just the dinner. Well, the evening following the dinner was nice too. We just won’t discuss the earlier part of the day. It had something to do with “Parentally Hard Act II: And You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse.” But the dinner… pink heart-shaped pancakes (Leesie’s fav) and sausage (Jacob’s fav – and pretty much the only protein he likes) made for a pleasant meal with the people I love. No arguing about how many more bites needed to be eaten. No asking for something else to eat. No “I no like it. It YUCKY.” from Jacob. Ah. Peace.

8. Dinner was followed by my favorite moment of the week – singing with my girl. We rehearsed in the car all week and surprised daddy with a duet – her idea. If singing with an adorable and joyful girl  – a song about God’s faithfulness and love – doesn’t cheer you up, then what will? Am I right?

9. In one of my toughest moments – this time at work – my partner and friend showed up, on her day off, to help me get through it. She stepped in to the teacher role so I could step out. She brought Valentines to share. And she prayed for the hurt.  How wonderful to be cared for and to have a work partner be so kind-hearted. And what a blessing that she loves Jesus, too.

10. My students’ faces as they excitedly gave me my Valentine’s gifts and cards: Lindor truffles in a heart box, a single red rose, a stuffed dog, a note pad “because teachers like note pads and that kind of stuff,” a few hand-made cards, and a smashed homemade pink-frosted cookie from an adorable boy with a huge smile. There were other things as well. And each face was full of joy in the giving.

11. The Ferndale Levy Passed!!! WAHOO! I will have a job next year. Probably.

12. Twice today I received a text from someone I love. Each person said some encouraging words and ended the text with “Peace be with you.”  How much I needed that peace. I am so grateful for the love of family, friends, and Jesus. It is enough.

Peace be with YOU.

Oh yes. Some of you have asked how to follow the blog. (If you choose to, I promise they will not be as heavy-hearted. Lots of laughter to come from the kids.) But if you want to, click “Follow”  on the right side of this page.