Tuesday, June 28, 2011

But really, we are okay.

Listen, here's the thing. You should never allow yourself to think, "Wow--we're all pretty healthy right now, no one's been sick in awhile!" Because then YOU ARE DOOMED. Everyone will start throwing up everywhere or get fevers and your house will fall down around your ears. All because you got cocky. Nice work, You.

Okay, not really. I'm not a superstitious person. But that's what this past week has felt like. I was thinking how nice it was that we'd all been healthy this winter. Then Grace got sick, then she got better, then she got sick. Then I got sick and Grace was still sick. Then Grace started to feel better and Ava got sick. Then I still felt bad and Ava was like, meh, and then Nate got sick. (This was all in about 72 hours' time.) And now, the kids are pretty much okay, I am feeling better but still sort of lousy, and Grace might have conjunctivitis.

God, save me from conjunctivitis! No, really. Please?

I have become a wraith-like figure that roams from room to room of the house, obsessively disinfecting doorknobs and remote controls. Sometimes, on moonlit nights, you can hear me rummaging for cough medicine and spraying disinfectant on the refrigerator door handle. And the control pad of the microwave! For goodness' sake, don't forget to disinfect the microwave or you will all surely die.

In fact, let's all just stop touching things that other people will eventually touch. Can we agree to do that? All you're doing is spreading contagion and you should stop.

I am losing it just a little. Trying to give eye drops to a vengeful 2 year old will do that to a person.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Growing Pains (Minus Kirk Cameron)

Lately, I've had the realization that Ava and Nate are really getting older. Now, I know that's obvious--but what I mean is, the way we parent them is needing to change a little bit. At 5 1/2 and 7 1/2, they are asking lots of questions, and I can tell they are trying to figure out how the world works. I guess what I'm saying is, for their earliest years we've shielded them from certain realities, and now I can tell that it's time to walk them through some of those things.

Ava has had a few bad dreams lately. About once a week, she comes to our room in the middle of the night, crawls in bed with me for a bit, and then lets me tuck her back in. She never seems terribly upset, so I tried not to make a big deal of it. One morning, though, I asked her if she remembered what her dream had been about. She nodded her head. She told me she'd dreamed that someone had come to our house and stolen Grace. Another time, she dreamed that Jason and I had died. Her dreams are no longer about monsters and boogeymen, but about real-world scenarios. At first, I wondered if she'd been watching something on TV or reading something that made her afraid, but I think it's that she's getting older--she's realizing that, you know? Stuff happens. And although I know it's necessary for her to mature, it sure is painful to watch.

My Nate is quite a thinker, it seems. On one hand, he is a whirling dervish of a boy: perpetually dirty fingernails, kicking the soccer ball in the house, pushing all his sisters' buttons. On the other, I can tell that he is really thinking about things. Observing, watching Jason and I, listening to what we say and how we say it. (Sheesh--no pressure, right?)

A few nights ago, I was tucking him in bed. After I finished singing him our goodnight song, (which he rolls his eyes at but secretly loves), he looked up at me. "Mom?" he said, "Why do some parents die?" Yikes. Now, can I be honest? My favorite TV show was coming on right at that moment, and I was rushing the whole bedtime thing. So I was sorely tempted to just divert the question and get back to the living room! But I stifled that urge.

You see, when a 3 year old Nate or Ava would ask questions like that, Jason or I were always quick to assure them that they are safe, that Mom and Dad are here to protect them, that God loves them and is their ultimate Protector. I just never felt like they could grasp the nuance that, yes, bad stuff can happen, but that we shouldn't be afraid. So we mostly glossed over it at that stage. Maybe that wasn't wise, but it just seemed to make sense to me.

I mean, really--do any of us ever feel like we know what we're doing in this whole parenting thing? I don't. But now, Nate is older. He gets that things go wrong, sometimes very wrong. So I said, "Well, buddy sometimes really sad things can happen. Most people live a long time, but sometimes there can be bad accidents or very serious sickness and people can die. Sometimes even parents can die. And it's really hard to understand why that happens."

He nodded, like he'd already considered all that, and then said, "But God loves us, and you guys are pastors, so things like that won't happen to us." He wasn't upset, just reflective. And my heart broke a little, cause isn't that what we all do? Try to find a reason, any reason, why "it won't happen to me"? Now, to a younger Nate, I might have deflected that and just reassured him that God did indeed love us. (And then try to leave his room in a hurry!) But this time, I knew he needed more. So I said, "Well, God does love us--so much more than we can know. But that doesn't mean that bad things can't happen. Just cause Daddy and I are pastors doesn't mean that we are any different than anyone else--God sees us all the same."

Then I leaned in a little and looked at him closely. "The thing is, Natey--we all have to learn that God loves us enough to help us when bad things happen, even if He lets that bad thing happen to us." I would so much rather tell him that Jason and I will never die, that his life will run a smooth course--and when he was smaller, I pretty much let him believe that. But it's time, little by little, to help him understand that life is uncertain sometimes.

And that kind of stinks.

Now, I said all this and kind of held my breath to see what he'd say. But--and isn't this true with kids?--what you think is going to be this amazing, teachable moment goes out with a whimper instead of the bang you were hoping for! As I was saying all that, he was listening. Then he says, "Mom?"

"Yeah, buddy?"

"Can I get a new bookshelf in my room?" And...on to the next thing! Or maybe that was code for "Let's talk about something else now." Which honestly, I was perfectly happy to do!

We are doing the best we can, and Lord, I hope it's good enough.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Frontier

I tried a new aerobics class today. I usually wait until I have a friend with me before I try a new class, that way if I lose consciousness then at least someone in there will know who my next of kin is. But I've been exercising regularly for awhile now, and I thought I could handle it.

I should've known better. The class had "Attack" in the title, and I'm more of a pacifist when it comes to life and exercise. The instructor kept shouting that she was going easy on us today, which made me think that the "normal" class must be some kind of advanced Navy SEAL training. I survived and everything--I mean, I'm not blogging from the afterlife, but it was tough. It was sports-inspired, high impact aerobics. And given that I've never tried speed skating on the ice, it wasn't very easy for me to simulate it in running shoes. Also, I am lousy at push ups. And when we were mimicking ski jumps--jumping with both knees up as high as we could get 'em, and then leaping from side to side--I thought, I'm going to die in here and I never even started the dishwasher this morning. So much left undone.

Anyway, I think my growing familiarity with Zumba has made me a little flippant. Cause this class was a whole nother level, y'all. When the hour was finished, my face was a brilliant shade of red. I think it should be a paint color. We could call it "Aerobics Newbie Red". What do you think? It's a red just a shade lighter than "Cardiac Explosion". It pairs nicely with neutral furnishings.

Of course, I'll go back. But this time I'm either making a friend come with me, or I'm gonna write Jason's mobile number on the back of my shirt with a Sharpie. "If asphyxiated or crying like a little girl, call this number."

Friday, June 17, 2011


Ava has been rocking the side ponytail look lately. She's got it goin' on. I guess it's what all the 7-8 year olds are doing. Do you think the 34 year olds could do it too? Cause it just looks so cute on her!

Oh Lord, am I already becoming one of those moms who wanna dress like their daughters? THAT'S not sad.

But have I tried it, in the privacy of my own bathroom? Tilting my head in the mirror and swishing my hair back and forth? Maybe. The world may never know for sure.

Other things that simply can't be verified: if I imagine myself performing live the songs I listen to at the gym (the crowd goes wild, duh), or if I pretend to be talking on my phone to avoid those Dead Sea Scrub and mineral makeup people at the mall. Also, if I unintentionally walk in rhythm to the beat of songs played over the loudspeaker in stores. Sashay, sashay.

These are all pure conjecture.

Anyway: side ponytails. Should we all give them a go? Who's with me, guys?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grace is 2! And also Come See This.

You guys, Grace turned 2 on Friday! Todd and Donna--some good friends of ours-- were visiting from Auckland last week. They just so happened to also be visiting us the week Gracie was born. That week two years ago, Donna kept our house clean and full of homemade soup, chicken wings, fresh salsa and pecan shortbread cookies. Friday morning--2 years to the day later--we all went into the city to Darling Harbour, and walked around the Chinese Gardens there. Grace had fun yelling at the koi fish and making me think she was going to fall off the little stone bridges. (I'll tell you another time why koi fish totally gross me out. I got all squicky.)

Shhh! Don't tell the big kids. They were at school and they don't think anything fun can happen without them.

Monday night we took our friends into the city for dinner and to see Vivid Sydney, a light show that was going on through downtown. We had dinner at a German Pub, which ended up being really fun. These three old guys in leiderhosen were playing and singing to a noisy crowd of tourists and we had a ball. And ate lots of schnitzel and giant pretzels.

Then I did something that is probably wrong. Okay, it's mostly definitely wrong. But I was giddy and hopped up on Diet Coke and carbohydrates. Anyway, the guy at the table behind us was rocking the most fantastic frosted, feathered, hairsprayed blonde mullet EVER. My friend Donna and I were snickering about it and then I decided I needed a picture of it. NEEDED. It was a need, okay?

I have a history of this. So does my sister. Which means it's genetic, which means I blame my parents. Yay! Anyway--
"You're beautiful, baby. Don't ever change."

Now do you see why I needed? And you know what's funny? Right after I made Jason sneakily snap that photo on my iPhone, 1987 called and asked for its hair back. Also:
Side view! This look don't come easy, folks.

Then Donna pointed out that the Hair looked a lot like the guys in Duran Duran--remember Simon?
Then we started singing "Hungry Like the Wolf" and chair-dancing, and I almost wet myself from laughing.

Maybe you just had to be there? But I'm pretty sure it was the Funniest Thing Ever.

Then we all sang Edelweiss with the band, which topped off the evening perfectly.

That's what I've got. Birthdays, pretzels, and awesome mullets, in that order. But how are you?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Keeping options open

For the first time this year, Ava and Nate seemed to take a real interest in the fact that it was our anniversary. I'm not sure why--we hadn't really made a big deal of it. But about 4-5 days prior, Ava started counting down, and they would both hide out and work on cards for us.

They asked what "anniversary" meant and why it's celebrated. We talked about how long we have been married, they asked how many years we had been married when they were each born--that kind of stuff.

Last Saturday, we were driving home from the park. From the back Nate called out, "Dad? Why did you marry Amy?" (I thought it was really funny that he chose in that instance to use my name--he never does that.)

"Well," Jason said, "I fell in love with her, and I thought she was the most wonderful woman I'd ever met. And she is!" (Nice one, babe! Plus 10 points.)

Silence from the back of the car. Nate thinks for a few seconds. Then he asks, "But who was your second choice?"

I'm really not sure how to take that one.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bad Idea

Last Saturday, we got home from the park and put Grace down for her nap. Ava and Nate went into their rooms for rest time. (Rest time=best time) I had some lunch and was reading in our sitting room. The sun was shining in through the window, and I was getting all warm and sleepy feeling. I was contemplating whether or not I should stretch out on the couch to snooze or if I should go upstairs to my bedroom. One of the tough decisions of life.

At that point, I heard a car race by on the street. I've mentioned before, our house is set up on a steep hillside. Beyond our driveway, which is cut into the hill, is a 10 meter drop--straight to the street below. And on the other side of our street--opposite all the houses--is a ravine. A steep drop, about 60 feet or so. I could hear this car, with a really loud engine, roaring by down there on the road. Going way, way too fast on our neighbourhood street. My first thought was what any mother's would be: If they wake up my kid, I will be majorly ticked.

About 30 seconds later, I could hear the car coming back. Obviously they had gone up the street, turned around and were racing back the other direction. I was sitting in a chair right next to a sliding glass door that leads onto our front porch. As I heard the car coming closer, I stood up and looked out the window--I wanted to see who was disturbing my tranquility.

The instant I stood and the car came into view, I watched it swerve out of control and slam into the guardrail. It then bounced and spun away from the guardrail and came to rest in the street. All within 2-3 seconds. Right in front of our house. The crash was incredibly loud. "Oh no!" I ran into the kitchen and out onto our balcony, Jason following behind me.

The car was so messed up, I thought for sure we were going to be calling an ambulance. But within seconds of me running onto our balcony, two teenage boys spilled out of the front seats. The passenger was shouting at the driver, using all sorts of descriptive adjectives. And some nouns thrown in there too. Let's just say that the passenger didn't think too highly of the driver, or his mother in that moment.

Jason ran down our driveway into the street, and one of our neighbours was already making his way down there. The two boys (that's really what they were) weren't hurt, which I still can't believe. The car was old and had no airbags. And see the tree by the car? When it hit the guardrail, the car uprooted this small tree and dragged it into the road as well.

Our friends and neighbours on the other side, Jules and Andy, had also come outside when they heard the crash. We stood on our balconies and remarked to each other that those boys looked awfully young to be driving. And there were no P plates on their car. Note to my non-Aussie readers: You see, here in Australia, a driver has to have a provisional license before they get their full drivers license. There are two levels of the "P" license--a red P and a green P. Any driver with a provisional license has to display the P near their license plates, on the front and the back of the car.

It takes a couple years to get your full license, and looking at these boys--we knew there was no way they were old enough to have it yet. Jason walked back up our driveway to get a broom--there was a lot of broken glass in the road that needed to be swept up. When he came up, he told us what we'd already been wondering about. The driver was only 16, had no license at all, and the car was unregistered and uninsured. Yowza.

The passenger told Jason that this wasn't the first time the driver had taken the car out, and that the car belonged to his dad. He seemed to think that the dad was aware the kid drove it from time to time.

Yeah. Well, I don't think he'll be driving that anymore. Okay, so the driver calls his dad. We could hear him on the phone right below us. Before he called dad, he was full of bravado, swearing and spitting on the ground. But when he got on the phone, I could hear his voice breaking. See that silver car up there in the first photo? That's his dad. That car pulled up and stopped, and for quite awhile no one got out. "Who do you think that is?" I asked Andy. "I think it must be the dad," he said. "But why isn't he getting out of the car?" Andy said, "If it was me, and that was my kid, I think I'd need a barrier between us for a little while."

Eventually the dad got out and looked at the car. He talked to his kid, but not much. The next question in my mind was, is someone going to call the police? Our neighbour--the one that was down there sweeping up the glass, was acquainted with the driver's family. I think he intended to just talk to the dad.

But someone called the cops--we later found out it was someone on a neighboring street who heard the crash. Man, when that cop car pulled up, I can only imagine what that kid and his dad must've thought. It's one thing to drive recklessly and total a car. But to drive recklessly and total a car when you have no license and your car is unregistered and uninsured? That is a world of hurt, right there.

There they are, talking to the two kids. Dad got back in the car for that part.

It's funny how becoming a parent changes your perspective. Along with shaking my head over the accident and how boneheaded those kids were, I also couldn't help but think, Geez. What's to stop my kids from doing the same thing one day? I mean, no parent brings their newbown home from the hospital and goes, "Right! When this baby's a teenager, he is going to make a total dumbass decision, endangering himself and others! Let's get right on that!" So, when Ava and Nate were done with rest time, I marched them out onto the balcony. "The boy who drove that car did a very dangerous and careless thing," I told them. "He's very lucky he didn't get hurt. He thought he could handle that car and drive fast, but he couldn't. I want you to remember this--one day you'll be driving a car and you'll need to be so careful." Ha! Jason was like, "Do you think they'll even remember that?" They won't be driving for another ten years, but I couldn't help trying to turn it into a teachable moment. They were like, "Uhh, okay Mom." But I felt better.

So, that was our Saturday afternoon! Never a dull moment, here in the 'hood. Hope you are well, and accident-free.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Light it up, baby!

Look at those two crazy kids. Ah, to be young and in love.

Today is our 12th anniversary. I can remember lots of things, of course, about our wedding day. I remember how my bouquet weighed like 25 lbs, and that Jason had to help me hold it at the altar. I remember how our "getaway car" stalled right after we left the reception, and Jason had to help the driver push it to our B&B. I remember how pretty much all of our favorite people in the whole world were in one place for about 48 hours. And most of all, I remember being so thrilled to be getting married to Jason. He is a catch-and-a-half, seriously.

I know what you're thinking--"But Amy, you don't look old enough to be married for 12 years!" Oh, wow, thank you. You're so kind. And totally right, of course.

We had our church service today and then had lunch with an engaged couple to begin their pre-marital counselling. (That's appropriate, isn't it?) Soon, we'll head into the city for the evening. There's a light festival on called Vivid Sydney that we're gonna go check out. Look at this:
There's several different light displays around town, and something with fireballs. I thought that was pretty sweet of them to do all that for our anniversary. Should be fun!

How's your weekend been? Next time I'll tell you about how some teenage boys caused quite a ruckus in our 'hood yesterday. They really are crazy kids.