Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Christopher Robin's Repertoir

During my months of feeling ill, Christopher Robin acquired several new skills:

1. He learned how to empty the dishwasher. Yes he did. Three years old. He up and decided one morning that he wanted to empty the dishwasher, and since I had no motivation or desire to do it myself, I gave him permission, and watched him a little skeptically from my reclining position on the couch. I expected he'd put some of the easier dishes away and leave the rest for me. But he eagerly dragged a barstool to the counter, loaded our heavy dinner plates onto the counter, climbed up, and put them where they belonged in the high cupboard. He reached down from his perch on the counter to take our glasses, one by one, from the top rack of the dishwasher and put them ("Carefully! carefully, buddy!") in the high cupboard as well. He had to ask me where a few miscillaneous items belonged, but most of the job he did entirely without aid. I was amazed. And thrilled. He emptied the dishwasher for me in that manner many a morning I did not feel inclined to do it myself. The thrill has worn off now, and the chore is mine once again, but since I'm feeling better, I'm okay with that. Still, in a year or two I know I can assign the job to him and know he's fully capable of doing it himself.

2. He learned to help his little brother down from his high chair. Peanut Butter has a dangerous habit of climbing out of his high chair and hanging off the side when he's finished eating. From that position he fusses loudly for me to help him the rest of the way down. It was a habit I tried very hard to break him of, but I was not consistent enough, or firm enough, or something, because he never gave it up, and now it's a regular habit. Soon he'll graduate to a shorter, safer high chair that doesn't pretend to keep him in one spot, but is open for him to climb in and out of on his own. Anyway, a couple of days my nausea, which usually just made me feel lousy and unmotivated, knocked me off my feet so powerfully that I couldn't even drag myself around. One morning we got home from a visit to our library and I collapsed in a chair feeling dizzy and faint and horribly sick. I must've put Peanut Butter in the high chair for a snack before I collapsed, because I remember him deciding he was done, and I lay in the chair unable to move. "Christopher Robin, can you help Peanut Butter down?" I asked him desperately. He thought for a minute, then ran over to one of our kitchen chairs, pushed it under Peanut Butter's dangling feet, and Peanut Butter climbed down on his own. Yes. I have a smart one. Since then he has often helped Peanut Butter down from his high chair in that same way. Also, as an aside to all the concerned adults reading this blog, I did call for help on those occasions. One time My Hero came home from work early to help, and another time my mom came and took the boys to her house for the rest of the day and all the next and let me just sleep, sleep, sleep.

3. He learned how to be sympathetic. My months of nausea kicked off with a family flu season right before Christmas. Christopher Robin hasn't been one to vomit much, but he did several times with this one, and so did Peanut Butter, then My Hero, and finally, early Christmas morning, I woke up with the dreaded virus. So Christopher Robin was familiar with the vomiting over the toilet process when I was dealing with morning sickness all through January, and he would stand beside me as I threw up and pat my back and say, "Oh, sweetheart..." in a dear, sweet voice. It truly was a comfort. And neither boy seemed to mind the grossness or the smell...they'd watch with curiosity whenever I allowed them to.
Can good come from a time of misery and dullness? Yes. Yes, it can.

Friday, March 7, 2008


It has's here! The magical time called "the second trimester." I really wasn't sure this pregnancy would bring a happy second trimester. But I have felt normal for over a week, not counting the second day after I tried not taking my medication... I'm still downing half a vitamin B6 tablet, half a sleeping pill, because that combination mysteriously combats nausea, but I wouldn't be surprised if in a week or two, when I dare try again to do without them, my nausea will be gone. I can't describe the relief, satisfaction, and pleasure that comes with feeling good after months of not. Today I washed the floors, vacuumed, did three loads of laundry, played 3 games of UNO with my three year old Christopher Robin, read two books to him, played hide and seek with both little boys, fed them breakfast, snack, and lunch, was cheerful and involved with them, getting their "help" with all the tasks I was doing, and now they're napping, the house is tidy, and after I put them down for a nap I went outside with our new mailbox and the power drill, took the old mailbox off the post, and screwed the new mailbox on. Then shoveled even WIDER around the mailbox to be as sure as I possibly could that the plowman could see our box clearly and not smash it this time, and since I didn't hear any noise on the monitor to indicate that my dear little ones were waking up, I also shoveled a path through our 6 feet of snow to the utility box for our faithful meter reader and a path to our oil pipe for the next oil tank replenishment (a job we've been woefully neglectful of this winter, much to the chagrin of the good people who have to wade through unshoveled snow just to do their jobs.) And lo, the boys are still sleeping.

All this crowing about such a happy, productive day is probably throwing a jynx on this afternoon, where all will undoubtedly crumble into disorder and chaos. But after months of those things, such a morning is almost beyond belief. I just have to brag a little. (=

And to think, it's not even spring. Though it is quite warm outside. 43 degrees. Not exactly swimsuit weather, but I didn't need a hat and scarf while I was shoveling...I might have even done with a lighter jacket. I'm thinking about taking the little guys outside to enjoy the warmth this afternoon. They have a great time outside in the snow with their shovels when the weather's warm enough. I heard a rumor that six more storms are progressing my way, but I don't care. Spring is coming, no matter how much more snow comes ahead of it. I don't even care that spring this year will consist of flooding and mud. Well, I do a little, but that will pass, too. Good health brings bountiful optimism.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I'm not sure where to pick up after such a long absence. These last few months have been long and hard and discouraging, but I'm beginning to feel stirrings of hope.

Our pastor spoke today about presenting our lives as living sacrifices to God, that being our true act of worship. I was so grateful for those words. They admonished me and gave me direction. I feel as though these past few months have been wasted, just survived. I didn't want it to be that way, but I didn't know how to spend them well, since most of the time I just felt awful, and was waiting for the next normal moment to try to catch up on some of the things I'd let slide for so long. Like dishes, laundry, cleaning. I feel as though I'm learning how to live life well, except for when I'm sick. Then I find it hard to take my eyes off myself and my misery long enough to offer true worship to God, gratitude for all He's given. Partly because I feel like such a failure that I'd rather do a crossword puzzle than think about my life and how I'm living it. Dismally. Just surviving. Dreaming of spring and longing for days of energy and health and joy.

We spent a week in Florida, My Hero, my two boys, and I, and it was a break from the monotony, from the unclean house and the chaos created by two boys whose mama isn't keeping up with them. I felt good most of the time, and the warm breezes and gentle sun were healing, and the relaxed time of living with friends and enjoying their company and being part of their world for a week was refreshing. We came home to a driveway shoveled and plowed by family and friends, and supper on the table from my grandparents. We keep getting snow and more snow, but no matter what, "We're nearer to spring than we were in September."

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Oliver Herford

Eventually the white blanket, no matter how thick, covering our garden beds will have to melt, and after the flooding has eased and the mud has dried, we'll have green grass to walk in and sit in and play in, warm, fresh air drifting through the stale rooms of our house, and the sounds of spring making music in our hearts. Who can feel nauseous when the world is so?

Truthfully, I am feeling better, though not well enough to go off my medication. I tried not taking it the day after I returned home from Florida, but clearly, it makes an enormous difference in how I'm feeling, so I'll keep on it for now. Yesterday I felt nearly normal all day, and made progress catching up on cleaning, and my spirits lifted. My aspirations soar so much higher than I'm capable of really doing, though. I dream of the kind of spring cleaning I'd like to do in every room of the house, but honestly, that would be difficult to accomplish in the best of health with two little boys to care for and life carrying on in its usual way.

I want to think less about me and my troubles, and more about Jesus. What makes Him pleased, what He expects of me, what He's given me to do or be today. That's what it means to be a living sacrifice. That's how I can worship Him. Not by trying to be someone I've made up in my own mind, not even by trying to be perfect and do everything right, but by being His, bending my ear to hear what He's telling me, being ready to follow Him in anything He asks, even if it doesn't match what I think I should be doing.