Saturday, February 23, 2008

Welcome to the family, Zoë!

I am long overdue in welcoming Zoë, the newest extended member of our family. Aunt Callie adopted her baby last July, adding yet another girl to our mix. Brooklyn and Talia are super excited to have a cousin to play with, and Grandma and Grandpa are thrilled to have yet another excuse to use the baby gates.

From the photos, you’ll probably notice the loving bond between Talia and Zoë. Talia made quick friends with her pug cous’ by willingly sharing her food. This wouldn’t be that bad except that she’d often finish it off after Zoë took a lick or too! We quickly discovered that the two have lots in common—such as drooling, chewing on everything, and eating scraps off the floor. They even like to go for rides in the same luggage carrier.

As for Brooklyn, once she got past her concern that Zoë was going to eat her, she discovered that a pug can be tons of fun to drag around the house on a leash. Fortunately, Zoë was very accommodating. At any rate, welcome to the family!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sharing and Caring

About 2:30 am last night, a three year-old bundle quietly slipped into our bed, hoping to go unnoticed. I groaned, rolled over, and started to explain how this was Mommy and Daddy's bed. All of a sudden Brooklyn started to sob uncontrollably. Between cries she said, "But Mom, we have to share!" Even in the midst of my grogginess, I couldn't help but grin and roll my eyes at her logic. If anyone has any suggestions on how to explain the difference to a three year-old, please share (no pun intended).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Birthday to ... Me! (And You Too.)

This semester I am having a fabulous time teaching an intermediate reading course at the University of Illinois's Intensive English Institute. While I have students from Peru, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and Japan, the majority of my students are Korean. Yesterday, in celebration of the lunar New Year, my Korean students fixed dinner for their teachers and classmates.

I watched in fascination as my students worked together to prepare duk guk, a traditional Korean rice cake soup. While I certainly enjoyed it, Talia LOVED it and spooned up every last drop. She finally got impatient and picked up the bowl to lap up the rest! I read online that Koreans prepare duk guk because it is so easy to eat and can be enjoyed by young and old. Talia's certainly proven that to be true.

It wasn't until after I finished my meal that my students explained duk guk's role in the New Year's celebration. Apparently everyone turns a year older after eating this traditional soup. So without realizing it, I became thirty in a moment!

In many ways, this was a pretty painless way to reach the black milestone of three decades. Instead of fretting for the next six months about my impending loss of youth in September, I got it over with early. No procrastination for me!

So here's the question...if I had eaten two bowls of soup, would I be thirty-one? And since Talia devoured three bowls, is she already four? I know kids grow up fast, but wowzers....time flies. :)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Laughable Love at Home

Over the past few weeks, our church choir has been practicing “Love at Home.” During rehearsal today, the lyrics struck me as rather ironic.

There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home.

As I thought back on our day, I wondered what could be considered more beautiful—Brooklyn’s bright orange drawing on the carpet, or Talia’s chocolate-colored poop smeared on the white canvas of her Daddy’s Sunday shirt.

There is joy in every sound, when there’s love at home.

I wonder which sounds those refer to—the percussive rhythm of Cheerios crunching on the floor (Talia dumped out the entire bag over breakfast this morning), or the lyrical moans of Brooklyn whining terribly about how much it hurts before the brush even makes contact with her scalp.

Peace and plenty here abide,

Peace… peace… Well, we have plenty of peas scattered among the Cheerios, along with a random puzzle piece, but peace seems elusive, particularly at mealtime... and playtime… and bathtime… and diaper-changing time…

Smiling sweet on every side

Let’s just say that with half of the family on antibiotics, we do more sniffling than smiling lately.

Obviously, whoever composed these lyrics must not have had small children at home. I don’t know about your family, but roses definitely don’t bloom beneath our feet! Still, one thing is very true--the time really does glide, even if it isn’t as softly and sweetly as the song suggests. I suppose the best we can do for the moment is still love each other, despite the raw imperfections of reality, and allow for the rose-colored glasses of memory to take care of the rest.