Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Cup of Cocoa With Caiden

Have you ever noticed how after knowing a person for a while, you sometimes stop trying to get to know them?  That happens to me sometimes, especially with my family.  I've known my kids since birth and I see them every day so sometimes I simply assume I know everything I need to know.  But really, they have new thoughts and feelings every moment about which I will have no idea unless I ask.  Thank God for prayer, because without it, how would I ever make it as a parent?!  I think I would shrivel up with anxiety and stress.  There is so much I can miss out on and fail in.  But because of the promises in God's word I can rest.  Promises about how if I lack wisdom, I can ask God for it and He will liberally give me wisdom and not reproach me for asking.  Consequently, I am always asking Him for wisdom for how to steward over my kids and how to love them well; how to know them and understand their needs; how to use my time wisely and how to invest in them.  I don't always succeed, but there is grace for that as well and I know that God will complete the work He has started in my kids, regardless of my own shortcomings as a parent.

Today I realized that Caiden and I had an hour to ourselves while Elliott had basketball practice after school.  I considered all the things I could get done and all the errands I could run in that time, dragging Caiden along with me since she doesn't mind those sorts of things.  But I really felt prompted to lay aside my tasks and devote one small hour to some down time with just my little daughter and me.

So Caiden and I had an impromptu date at a little cafe near school.  We each got a hot chocolate (Caiden was delighted to discover the term "hot cocoa" today.  She's a language nerd.) and Caiden picked out a giant ginger cookie for us to split.  I really had to insist on the splitting part.  Caiden and I had a whole discussion on the way over to the cafe about what kind of treat we would get.  I suggested splitting a cookie and Caiden countered that suggestion with the idea of us each getting our own in case we couldn't agree on a flavor.  I told her that it is kind of nice to share something together, so she suggested we each get our own cookie and then split both cookies in half and share them.  In the end we got just one cookie and the flavor was fine for both of us. Mom 1, Caiden 0.

After we ordered, I let Caiden pick a spot to sit and she chose a table for 4 and I guiltily agreed since she's so cute and the shop didn't look too busy.  As soon as we sat down, the cafe filled up right along with my guilty conscience, but Caiden didn't notice and I didn't tell her that we were hogging up more room than we needed.  I noticed they had sugar cubes there, so I got one for her to try, remembering when my dad had let me try one once as a little girl when we had brought them as a snack to our horses.  Sadly, Caiden was not a fan of the sugar cube.  She also didn't like the homemade whipped cream in her cocoa so I scooped it out with a spoon and put it on the cookie plate.  After she had painstakingly drunk every last drop of hot chocolate by slurping it off of her spoon (this took roughly 35 minutes), she proceeded to eat the whipped cream by taking little swipes of it off the plate with her finger and licking it.  Meanwhile, I just let her talk.  

"We had science today.  I didn't tell you about that, but we have science sometimes."  

There were a few things that came up in conversation that she "hadn't told me about" before.  I gather, from these little comments, that Caiden really likes me to know what's happening in her life.  Sometimes at home she will be sitting on the toilet, or on her way to the toilet, and just randomly tell me some little tidbit of information that is completely pulled out of the sky, but is also some important detail she suddenly remembered to tell me.

As I sat in the coffee shop with my little six year old--who was a little unkempt, a little bit jumbled, and slightly ornery--I just kept praying that God would take this small hour and this little investment of my time (that yielded no immediate earth-shattering results) and multiply its yield.  In general, as a mom, I am just trusting Him to take my labor and cause there to be fruit.  Because labor as I might, I can never make anything actually grow--only God can make things grow.  So, I'll invest my time, I'll give up a little hour here, a few moments there, a listening ear, a focused gaze, I'll try to stop what I'm doing and turn my ear to my little ones when they seek my attention and then I'll trust God to make all of those little moments pay off.  And as I go, I pray, pray, pray for wisdom!

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." --James 1:5

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." --I Corinthians 3:7

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Time I Learned Caiden's Secret Identity

I have a daughter with a secret identity who leads a double life--she's only six years old.

Caiden is a mysterious six year old.  She also is extremely indecisive, which is why we make her pick out her clothes for school the night before.  Last night, she picked out her clothes and explained to me why she was choosing certain items. The outfit was khaki pants, a green baseball-type tee with glitter and the number 10 across the chest, and her Nike Air Jordans.  She told me there was going to be a running contest at school the next day so that's why she picked the shirt.  She kept talking about this running contest and I kept asking questions trying to figure out what was going on.

"We have to run around the WHOLE playground!" she told me.

In the morning, she got ready for school and we talked about it some more.  All she wanted for breakfast was an apple so on the way to school I made sure to remind her, "Make sure to eat school breakfast so you can have energy for the race!  Good luck!"  And then, just to tease her I asked, "Are you going to get 10th place? Because of your shirt?"  She smiled and got out of the car.

I was very curious about this race, so when I picked her up after school I asked her how it went and how she did.  I was worried she might be disappointed.

"I won!" she cried.  "I won 1st place!"

"What??" I asked.  I was completely shocked.  Caiden has not really exhibited much of an athletic personality so far.  And she hates things that have a winner and a loser.  She usually refuses to participate in things like that...  "Who did you race against?" I demanded.

We went back and forth for a few seconds until she explained, "I won the race.  And I am also the one who made up the race.  I raced everyone who was running around on the playground."

"Did they know they were racing you?"


So, it turns out that this whole time for the past day and half, our whole family has been involved in supporting Caiden for a school race that never even existed! HAHAHA!  This is exactly Caiden.  Caiden, who, I just found out at my recent "parent-teacher conference", has been secretly going by the nickname "Katie" at school.  "I asked her if it was okay and she said, 'yes'," her teacher responded when I corrected her by saying,

"You know her name is Caiden, right?"

After my conference, I asked Caiden if it was true that she was okay being called Katie and she said yes.

"Why?" I asked.

"I just prefer it." she answered nonchalantly.

"You PREFER it???"  I spit out.

" school." she replied simply.

These are the times I feel like Caiden has a secret life that I know nothing about.  Every once in a while she will throw me a bone and let me in on her hidden world, but randomly and when I least expect it.  I always have to be on the lookout for when she's dropping breadcrumbs or I'll miss out on the path that leads to knowledge.  Knowledge of the inner workings of Caiden's brain.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Have a City Love

When I was seventeen and Dave was seventeen, we met at church summer camp through a shared friend.  We immediately bonded over a mutual affection for the movie, Newsies, and love for the great city of New York, in which the movie was set.  Having spent at least half of the next hour talking about Newsies and New York, David vowed that we would meet up in New York City one day to enjoy it together--I was a little dubious... However, due to unforeseen events later that year, we did just that!  David came to New York City with his church and my little sister and I took the train from Connecticut, into the city for the day.  We spent eight glorious hours together exploring the city, hand in hand.  Two years after that we were wed.

For our honeymoon, we explored the great city of London together for ten glorious days.  We came home with London in our hearts, smiles on our faces, and lots of new shoes in our suitcases, but much to Dave's mom's chagrin, no pictures whatsoever of anything touristy one might hope to see in London.

With the way things started--travel wise--it should be no surprise that we had high hopes for traveling together to many other great cities in the future...  But as our anniversary rolled around each year, we schemed and planned... only to end up enjoying each others company on a picnic date somewhere nearby, dinner at a restaurant, or a day together in nearby San Francisco (which counts as a city, by the way, but we live near it, so its not quite the same).

Finally, as year nine crawled slowly toward year ten, David put his foot down and said, "This money is earmarked for our ten year anniversary and this year we're gonna go somewhere." I was little dubious.

Despite my dubiosity (I just made up another word), or lack of faith, our ten year anniversary rolled around and we found ourselves on a plane bound for Portland, Oregon! Another city to explore together and (thanks to Allison for babysitting) six glorious days to do it.

Now that we are twenty-nine and thirty years old, ten years into our marriage, and parents to two lovely children, I find traveling and exploring with David even more enjoyable than before.  I am so thankful for such a friend and constant companion and look forward to visiting many more cities together in years to come...  Hopefully before our twentieth year of marriage.

There were so many interesting things to see in Portland, I couldn't stop taking pictures! Ten years ago, in London, we didn't have "camera phones" and we didn't have cellphones at all twelve years ago in New York.  My, how times have changed!  This year--thanks to the iPhone--we have plenty of pictures to share with Dave's mom and to share with you, as well... 

It looks like we got home just in time, because Caiden had already put up missing person parent posters!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Kids' Club

When I was little, we were constantly creating secret clubs and forts.  My siblings and I were always looking for loose floor boards, false walls, and secret passageways (I still do!) so when my brother discovered the attic crawlspace above his room, we were all suddenly thrust into kid-club heaven.  My brother called a meeting in his room, showed us the hidden space, and told us we had to have a secret club name.  We might have called it the Black Widows Club, but there's a chance my memory is a little rusty.  Oh man--we were so excited to have this huge space with so much potential.  We started scheming and planning and that dirty, rickety, old crawl space seemed like heaven above was shining into it.  That was... until Dad came home and couldn't find any of us anywhere except for our baby brother who was sleeping in his crib. It must have been a great secret club, because my dad was ready to call the cops to help find us and we all got in big trouble for hiding up there.  Needless to say, our club suffered an early demise.  We never went into that attic again.

Caiden and Elliott have similar club aspirations.  We host a Friday night church gathering at our house and Elliott and Caiden have created "Kids' Club" to compliment the adult discussion time.  They are always planning, scheming, purchasing for, and touting Kids' Club.  They have name tags, schedules, rules, folders for everybody, and possibly prizes.  They even made a Kids' Club flag...  Our upstairs neighbors, who are teachers, recently moved out and during the packing stages they put a tupperware tub outside which the kids promptly raided for "Kids' Club" supplies.  The kids assured me that the supplies were "up for grabs," but when Dad came home we discovered that those supplies were not, in fact, up for grabs--oops.  It felt like the "Black Widows' Club" fiasco all over again!  Despite the minor setback, Kids' Club is still alive and kicking, unlike my own Black Widows' Club of yore.

Though, the sad thing is: kids rarely come to Friday night church.  Its tragic.  But kind of funny, too.  Elliott and Caiden are "the leaders" in this perpetual anticipation of a club that can only begin when they get members.  It never happens, but its always a dream.

In the meantime, we take our 2-kid-club on little adventures of their own and encourage them to bring the flag along...  Kids' Club for life!

Luckily, Dad knows how to make a swing on the top of a mountain with a bike chain, cinching strap and a piece of wood, so we're all good!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Caiden Turns Six

The littlest lady in the family turned six this month!  We really enjoyed celebrating her little life with her.  She didn't want a big party this year, so she decided to do something special get frozen yogurt with one of her friend's on Saturday instead.

For her birthday dinner she wanted curry. Specifically, she wanted a restaurant called House of Curries here in Berkeley--mostly because she wanted naan and free chai. 

Since we were having a family birthday dinner, we decided to call the whole family which happens to be our church family, and many of them showed up at House of Curries to eat dinner with us and celebrate Caiden's life.  We are so blessed to know Caiden and so thankful that we can enjoy her with each other.

She had a fun day!  One of her classmates really wanted to pick her flowers for her birthday, but he ran out of time, so he made his mother promise him to go get flowers and bring them to Caiden by the end of the day.  Another friend gifted Caiden a little dixie cup filled with collected rocks, a bead, and drizzled with water.  Caiden loved it!  Still another friend's mom sewed the cutest little stuffed elephant for Caiden to cuddle with.  They were all perfect gifts.  Lots of church family and blood family gave her gifts, too.  She was totally blessed with gifts.

My favorite part of Caiden's birthday, however, was seeing her pass out cake to each of her classmates... every single one of them--on her own--before serving herself.  And then again at dinner, she served each party guest a slice a cake.  I loved seeing Jesus' servant heart in my little six year old.  That's the best kind of aging: maturing in Christ.  I still can't believe she's six years old!!!