Thursday, March 7, 2013

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

"The boy" turned five, and it came as no surprise to anyone who's had a conversation with him in the past year that he wanted a superhero birthday party! He's fairly obsessed with all things superhero, and his absolutely favorite is Spiderman.

Will had a great actual birthday (Matt stayed home from work, we went to an indoor play park where he ran into a buddy, and then we celebrated with the family at Aunt Pammie's). But his birthday party was like watching his dreams come true. We had superhero training at an indoor play park, but in reality, it was he and his buddies, playing their hearts out being as rough as they could be and then topping it off with cake, lemonade, and sno-cones! Of course, Mr. glass half-empty nearly had a meltdown because his party was "too short," but at least I knew that he had the time of his life! The highlight of the party was when his friends made a tunnel and he rode a motorized bike through the tunnel of friends chanting his name! A fast car, superheroes, and other guys to play with...Will's dreams coming true!

I'm so proud of my big, healthy, strong boy. We went for his five year old check up last week, and he weighed 56 pounds, and was 48 inches tall. He's only a little more off the chart in height than weight. Our doctor said he's the size of the average 7 1/2 year old and as healthy as a horse.

Of course, I'm proud of more than his size. I am proud of who he is. It's strange because Will is the child that I understand the least in some ways because he's a boy, and yet, in other ways, I understand him well because he and I share so many personality traits. I'm sure sharing those traits is what results in many of my fervent prayers for my boy. 

I know how he is struggles with perfectionism. How it devastates him when he feels like he's failed. I understand how strong his sense of justice is and how much he wants to fight against what he perceives as injustice. I know how sometimes he doesn't feel confident even when he should. I get how routine and structure help him feel secure and how change can leave him spinning out of control.

I don't quite understand, but I'm learning a lot about how he feels driven to use his body physically - to run, to jump, to climb, and, above all, to wrestle. I don't quite get how he doesn't understand that he outweighs all three of his sisters, the youngest two by twenty-five and thirty pounds, or why he doesn't understand that he can't be aggressive with them without me having to break out the ice packs! I don't quite understand why in a female-dominated mind game, he winds up head-butting a sister or cousin into the middle of next week. I sometimes forget that while is body is nearly eight, (much closer to Sophie's age), his heart and mind, just turned five (much closer to Lillie's age). There's quite a bit that is still a mystery to me about mothering a boy, but I'm committed to learning more each day.

My family and friends would say that out of all of my children, I am the most oversensitive about and overprotective of Will. They are probably right. You see, I watch people miss who Will really is all the time. Some see a big, over-aggressive bully. Some see a whiny, over-sensitive boy in a house full of girls. Some people don't stop to notice him at all. Because I share some of his more "challenging" personality traits and because I have taken the time to study his other personality traits, I see an amazing strong and true little boy, one of the deepest-thinking people I've ever known.

Will's strength doesn't lie in his 56 pounds, or 48 inches, or even in his ability to take a hit without seeming to notice. Will's strength is actually rooted in his depth. I can't say that Will asks nearly as many questions as Lillie does and certainly not as many as Sophie did, but when that boy does ask a question, rarely can I answer it without having to stop and ponder. From the trinity and forgiveness to dusk and arachnids, he just doesn't bother with the trivial. And he isn't satisfied with a pat answer, he won't stop asking follow ups until he understands. Understanding is crucial for Will. And that understanding is where his strength is growing.

I love that Will loves Spiderman. I love it because he's something of a Peter Parker, not the kid that is charming and winsome and everyone wants to be around. Not the kid that is super-creative and everything comes easily to. Maybe not the kid that everyone picks out as the natural born leader. But not unlike Peter, from deep places, Will is growing strong and he is passionate about truth. I just can't wait to see how the Lord is going to use him.

"With great power comes great responsibility" is a phrase I learned reading a Spiderman book to Will. It's reminiscent of another phase my parents taught me from another book, "To whom much is given, much is required." Will is a powerful boy, in body, mind, and spirit, and I'm encouraged by how he is growing in his responsibility. He's been given many gifts, and one of the greatest gifts I've been given is parenting him. My prayer is that I will do all that is required of me to help Will grow into a real hero, a strong man with deep roots who is passionate about truth that can only be found in the One who created him.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

These Moments

I really want to blog more. I don't know if I can because I am tired. Really more than tired - exhausted to the bone in a way I'm not sure I knew was possible. (For me having a little baby is a walk in the park compared to having a toddler!) But, I want to blog anyway because there is absolutely no way I will remember many of these moments if I don't record them.

I know that to do that I will have to set my standards even lower. I already don't edit my posts (even though I am paid for my editing skills...) because I realized long ago that I could either write and post, still rather infrequently, or write, edit, and post twice a year! Anyway, I want to remember these moments because, crazy as they are, they are wonderful, beautiful and sacred to me.

So, here are my snowbirds playing in the March 2 "blizzard" of 2013! :) Will's comment was, "I feel so sorry for the Africans because they just don't get to play in snow like this." Indeed, I think the "Africans" are the only group of people jealous of our snow! Our snowbirds had more fun than I would have thought possible in this dusting, and I'm pretty sure it was the first time Lulu registered what snow was!

Matt took the kids for errands after our snow play, and I marveled at how grateful one could be for a couple of hours to do laundry alone. I really never dreamed I could be that happy about an untold number of laundry loads and The West Wing coming to netflix.

But all good things must come to an end, and my plan for Matt to bring Lulu home for a nap while I kept working turned in to me attempting to keep working while holding an over-tired baby! I was so frustrated because I had been praying for motivation in our house (it's in the worst shape it's even been in), and I finally had momentum, only to get stopped dead in my tracks. I'm all about "excuse my messy house, making memories," and "messy house, happy children," etc, but at some point, you realize you are making memories naked because you haven't done laundry. I mean, my children get read to, rocked, tickled, cuddled, etc., but I really don't want them to get taken away because our home is labeled a bio-hazard, and we're approaching that tipping point.

Anyway, I was then in a fabulous mood, and dinner was less than picture-perfect. We are working on training the kids in taking more responsibility in the house, and I may have been less than gentle in some of my training techniques. Not the order-restoring, life-giving afternoon I had planned. Anyway, because I want my children to remember me making chocolate chip cookies rather than yelling, I made a super-fast trip to the store for some forgotten ingredients so I could bake chocolate chip cookies after I yelled. I'm hoping they remember the cookies and not the yelling. Both are part of our reality right now, and I'm committed to treasuring these moments.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Birthday Princess

Oh my Lillie Pie! You are three years old. I can hardly believe it, as in so many ways, you still seem like my little Baby Mine. But as much as you still love being held and you delight in being rocked and sung to, you really growing up. Three finds you testing the limits a bit, seeing if throwing a fit might get you what you’re hoping for, and I’m trying my best to firmly show you that isn’t the way you should go. Some days are better than others. Three seems to be toughest age for the Roden kiddos (at least the toughest from 8 and under), but like with almost everything in life, three seems a little easier with you. I’m sure a little of it is that we’ve navigated these waters with two other children, and we know a bit more about which battles to pick and which to let go, but I really think the main difference is you.

Lillie, you are without a doubt the kindest, most loving child I’ve ever known. You greet each day with absolute wonder and excitement, and your joy is contagious and life giving. When you were only two weeks old, we found out that Tato had cancer, and you brought so much happiness and hope to our family, and to me particularly in such tough time in our lives. You were literally encouraging others before you could talk! I’ve always prayed that you would be full of hope and to bring hope to others. I can’t count the ways in which the Lord has answered this prayer in you.
I could not have imagined a more appropriate place to celebrate your birthday than the happiest place on earth, and this year, we celebrated your third year of life in Cinderella’s Castle right in the middle of the Magic Kingdom! You make so many ordinary moments magical, and it was so fun to give you a truly magical birthday! I don’t think I will ever forget the sheer delight all over your face as you were crowned by your daddy, met beautiful princesses, or saw your lovely Cinderella cake! You are just the kind of child that truly finds joy in the little things, so the big things leave you nearly breathless! It was a fairy tale birthday for a little girl who has the demeanor of a fairy tale princess! I would say you were too good to be true, if I didn’t get to witness the occasional three-year-old fits that remind me you are real.

Lillie, I am so very grateful to be your mama. I’m grateful that mine are the arms you reach up to each day, that it’s my face you shower with kisses throughout the day, that it’s my lap you love to cozy up in for stories, and that it’s my voice you ask to sing you to sleep. I’m grateful for every way that you are growing up into a young lady and for every way that you are clinging to staying my little baby. I thank our gracious heavenly Father for choosing you for me and me for you. I pray that your life continues to overflow with hope – that you continue to bring hope to other people through your kindness and happy heart. Lillie, your heart, your spirit, your outlook on life, these are gifts from the Lord that few possess, but ones that I’m praying he will use in you for His great purpose.

I love you as big as the sky, Lillie Pie!


Friday, December 21, 2012

First Birthday Gifts

My Precious Lulu,
     You turned one! And I have to say it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. In fact, it was really a wonderful day. A small part of me was dreading your first birthday because I know you are my last my baby. I know this is our last first birthday party, our last first bite of cake, our very last year of firsts. But though I leave our last "first" year behind, it's hard to look at it as leaving when really I'm running headlong into more adventures with a baby girl that I know so much more about than I did one year ago. And in addition to the many first birthday gifts you received at your party, I count the many things I've learned about you as God's gifts to me.

I know that you, Lucie White Roden are a born communicator. I've known it for a while now. Like I knew Sophie was full of passion and creativity. Like I knew Will was an incredibly deep thinker. Like I knew Lillie was full of kindness and joy. I know that you are a communicator. Before your birthday, you were saying, "What is that,?" "Thank you," not to mention, "Mama, Dada," and even "Will!" But it's not just the actual words. You have been able to let us know what you want, how you feel about something, or who needs to stop doing what he or she is doing! Not only are you great at letting me know what you mean, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you understand me. We just about have our own private language. Very rarely, am I at a loss for what you want, and of all the babies in  our family, I feel sure that you understand me when I talk to you. I am so thankful for your communication gifts and for the understanding that we share.

I also know that you are a climber. We've never had a climber. I can't say this is my favorite gift. I can say that I am thankful that in addition to being a climber, you seem to have a great sense of balance. This balance has already come in handy in you climbing the stairs repeatedly, climbing on top of the playroom table, and getting out of your high chair and crawling across the kitchen table. From the rocking chair in your room to a cardboard box to a steep flight of stairs, you are not afraid to tackle a climb.

I also know that you have two favorite playthings - pencils and rocking chairs. You aren't that interested in baby toys (though do enjoy some of your siblings' toys), but you love nothing better than a Ticonderoga yellow #2 pencil. You love to pretend to write, and you will fight to the finish if someone takes a pencil away. I've learned to give you an unsharpened or very dull pencil rather than suffer the meltdown. Not only do you love a pencil, but you also adore a rocking chair. You love to rock and sing "Rock, rock, rock, rock." Now, you will often move from rocking to standing and seeing how far you can lean over without falling, but not before having yourself a nice rocking session. Usually when you've finished with your daredevil antics, you rock again for good measure. With your love of pencils and rocking chairs, you're a bit like a little old lady in a baby's body! And since I've always been an old lady myself, you being a bit of an old soul is definitely a gift to me.

I also know that you totally hold your own in our family. Of course, with the personalities of your sisters and brother, I was concerned that you might get lost in the shuffle. And when I learned that you are pretty naturally content, I was concerned that you might get passed over because of "squeakier wheels." I should not have been concerned. You march your sisters and brother and know exactly how to get what you want from just about every member of our family! Whether it's my undivided attention, a pencil from Sophie, a toy from Will, or a game of "pass the baby" from Aunt Tori and Uncle Derek, you pick your battles, but makes sure you win what you pick. That, my dear one, is a priceless gift in our family!

This year I've gotten to spend nearly every moment (waking or otherwise) with you. I know you inside and out, and the appropriate response to this year can't be sadness, but it must be gratitude. I am so incredibly thankful that I've been able to get to know you, my amazing, unexpected gift of God's grace. Oh, my precious baby Lucie. I love you more than I know how to say. I am thankful for every moment I get to spend with you. I am thankful for every way that you are like your siblings, and I am thankful for every way that you are unlike any other baby in our family. I absolutely can't wait to know more about you as you grow. I am so very thankful that I am your mama and you are my Lulu. I am thankful for all the gifts that you have brought to our lives. I love you as big as the sky!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Because Sophie's Fingers Are So Tightly Crossed

Sophie is hoping and praying to win the new American Girl doll, Caroline Abbott! She really wants Caroline and Marie-Grace, and she knows it is "inappropriate" to ask for two American Girl dolls for Christmas (I actually agree...), so she has her fingers and toes crossed to win Caroline in a contest and then ask for Marie-Grace!

So, we've entered a contest at Barnes and Noble, and now we are entering one here:

Keep your fingers and toes crossed for Sophie! :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Zero and holding

Oh, sweet Lulu,

    You are almost 11 months old! This is the last month I will have a baby who, as Sophie says,  is "zero!" Tonight I put you down in the nursery (that you share with Lillie) for the very first time! You are in your small baby bed, but very soon we are moving you into the pink crib! I have new bedding and everything! All that's left is to find a "big girl" bed for Lillie Pie! 

    I know you will probably wind up in bed with me before midnight, but I must admit I'm a little sad that you aren't waiting in my room for me. It was awfully sweet though singing to both you and Lillie after I'd rocked her, nursing you while letting her choose lullabies. I loved saying to her, "Lulu is right here with you," and whispering to you, "your big sister is right here." I think you two girlies are going to be great friends and major partners in crime!

     Not only are you big buddies with Lillie Pie, but you are also crazy about your big brother! You and Will have special time together most mornings, and he always reminds you that he will give you his bot as "soon as the milk is all gone!" If you are fussy, he sings you the lowest version of You Are My Sunshine that has ever been sung, and he goes on and on about what a precious baby you are! 

     Sophie also takes amazing care of you. She can amuse you to no end, and you get lots of time with just her on Tuesdays and Thursdays when Will and Lillie are at preschool. You love to learn right along with us, and you hold a pencil like it's the most natural thing in the world. It has to be one of your very favorite playthings! Sophie is truly a great big sister, and you seem to know that she is looking out for you! 

     You are absolutely dying to talk! You say "yeah" to lots of questions, and you have said "mama" when you've wanted me to pick you up, but even more interesting is your babble! You are so ready to join the steady stream of conversation around the Roden house! I am so excited to hear your thoughts on all the craziness in our life! 

       You are a fast crawler, and you can climb stairs as quick as a flash! Baby gates have once again become as necessary as my morning coffee! I discovered you could climb stairs several weeks ago when I ran upstairs to grab socks, a bow, or one of the bazillion items I forget to lay out each morning, and I came down to find you at least five or six steps up! I wanted to scream, but I was afraid I'd startle you and you would fall, so I prayed with every step down, but seconds seemed like hours until I scooped you up and put out the bottom-of-the-steps gate!

      You are still a fantastic eater, and you seem to enjoy a good meal as much as your mama! :) You can drain a pouch of food in seconds, and you love my homemade oatmeal. Daddy gave you your first french fry at Chick-Fil-A (without permission with me, I might add:)) and just the other day, MeeMaw gave you your first pizza (also, without permission!) You absolutely loved pizza, and you may be a fan of Italian food because you ate your weight in homemade lasagna that Joy made for Aunt Pammie's birthday! 

      You've had a lot of fun "firsts" lately, and for the next month, we are going to soak up every last minute of you being "zero," and celebrate every last "first" including your first trip to a pumpkin patch, your first Halloween, and finally, your first birthday! Spending my days with you is one of the greatest blessings of my life, and I am so incredibly thankful to our Father that he gave you to me! I love you as big as the sky my Lulu!



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Watch Me Grow Up!

    You have changed so much the past few months! At eight months, you started crawling, but nice and easy, just a little here and a little there. Until you decided to take off. It seemed like you went from slowly winding up on a different side of the living room from where I'd sat you down to truly speed-racing down our long hallway! At the same time, you've gone from happily eating whatever veggie I offer to total frustration that you can't completely feed yourself! You've gone from sitting happily in the middle of the bed with your siblings in the morning to diving for the edge while Daddy and I nearly fall all over ourselves trying to keep you safe! I've whispered in your ear, begging you to slow down, not to grow too fast, but I don't think you are listening. I think the problem may be that your siblings are yelling in your face to follow them, to run and frolic, to get into mischief and mayhem, to grow up alongside them.


Not only have you learned to speed crawl, but you have also learned to raise both your arms when we yell "touchdown Bama!" You aren't very cooperative about doing it for pictures, but I don't mind because it is the most adorable thing I've ever seen. You love to plunder through everything, as much as Lillie ever did - if not more - (and way more than Will and Sophie)! I can't even begin to think about what all you have eaten off our floors, but I'm afraid that some days the amount of crumbs you consume rivals the amount you eat at the table! You still love music, and Daddy swears you are the most rhythmic child we've ever had. You can just about keep a steady beat, and you love to bang on the toy piano and drums. Your favorite thing is for daddy to keep a beat for you to dance to!

     Your aren't just growing physically, but you personality is growing too! You still seem to be our most laid-back baby, but we have discovered that you do have a temper! You aren't easily angered, but if you get riled up, look out! You don't plan on taking any mess off your siblings, that's for sure! You aren't the easiest child to make smile or laugh, but if someone is willing to work for it, you have the funniest gummy smile I've ever seen and sweetest snicker I've ever heard! I recently heard you described as "the  one that just stares at you!," Now I do think you sometimes stare at some people and wonder if they have a brain in their heads, but other than wanting to slap the idiot who said that about you, I also realized how you have the kind of personality that not everyone appreciates. You are not the bubbly, vivacious type (don't worry, no one in our family other than Daddy and Lillie are...), but you seem to have a seriousness, a thoughtfulness, and an inquisitiveness that I am so very proud of. And you do way more than stare for anyone who actually watches and sees! 

     I'm always a little bit sad to watch my babies grow up, but you approaching a year is especially bittersweet for me because you are my last little one. I've been known to sing to Taylor's Swift's "Never Grow Up" to all of you, and Will and Lillie both seem to delight in coming up ever-so-sweetly to me, giving me a little love, and saying, "Mama, watch me grow up!" before breaking into peels of laughter as I beg them not to! I think you have caught on to their wiley ways because you seem intent on transforming before my eyes!

And as much as part of me wants to stop you or to at least slow you down, another part of me realizes how blessed I am to witness your growth. I am spending my days with you and whether it's watching Sophie really begin to take responsibility as she looks out for you, or Will absolutely fawn over his "dumplin" in his deep voice, or Lillie truly beginning to develop a friendship with you, I am watching growth in each of you. As I take quiet walks with you in the morning or have a girls' days with you and Patti-Grams at Trader Joes every other week, or as I rock you to sleep each night, I am privileged to be witness to the tiny changes in you each day. Watching my children grow is a dream come true for me, the Lord fulfilling one of the greatest desires of my heart, and I am so thankful to Him that He is allowing me to watch you grow up.