Tuesday, September 29, 2009

as per request

...more from the "they said it" file. (This is for you, Colleen.)

Jon: Today was another beautiful day.
Dexter: Yeah. No dragons or crocodiles.

[Sometimes when my kids try to repeat stuff they hear me say it comes out pretty funny. Here are 2 examples from today.]

Me (singing along to a song in the car): What can you do with a sentimental heart...
Dexter (from the backseat, trying to sing along): Cinnamon uh...

Nate: Where are we going?
Me: We're going to play with our friends at Lowman Beach Park.
Nate: Dexter, we're going to play at Newman Peach Park!

Dexter the Crocodile attacks Daddy.

Dexter the Crocodile attacks Mommy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

they said it

We have a small lamp connected to a timer in the boys' room. The timer is set for the lamp to turn on around 7:30 AM, and the boys know that they are not allowed to get out of bed until the light turns on, except (for Nate) to go to the bathroom and come right back to bed. (By the way, I fully credit this system for my sanity and recommend it to all those with small people living in their homes.) So the other morning around 7 we heard Nate get up to go to the bathroom and as he left the room he called back to his brother, "Dexter, I'll be right back. Don't do any drama while I'm gone!!"


Nate was sitting in time out yesterday and was not happy about it. You could tell he was trying to show us how mad he was, doing his best angry noises, kicking his legs, the whole bit. Then, in an apparent effort to say something really truly awful to express his frustration (think Samir's road rage in Scene 1 of Office Space), he spit out what I can only assume is the worst string of bad words he could muster: "Grrrrr... Pizza in the mud!"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

on acting out

In her book, Beyond Deserving (which I will mostly likely never stop referencing and one day get around to reviewing), Dorothy Martyn talks about the human impulse to "keep subterranean matters from coming to the surface by 'doing something' instead of becoming aware of those matters and thereby subjecting oneself to feeling or knowing something painful or unpleasant." In other words, we get in trouble when we substitute doing for knowing or feeling.. My poem below was influenced, in part, by this idea.


I've thought and lived as if it doesn't matter

which things will last
of what is past
or if I crash

A carelessness with means to shock or shatter

the fragile bloom
of inner room
or would-be tomb

I find within me scattered.
To act was then to hide from seeing, knowing

afraid to cease
aware that peace
called for release

Now ache of muscles underused a sign of growing

a chosen resting
slow digesting

I find within me flowing.

theology, heresy, and the 4-year-old mind

After what must have been some deep thought and reflection, Nate announced at the dinner table:

God is strong enough to lift up the whole church.

(Here there was a brief pause, during which I imagined my son's bright future in ecclesial theology.) Then he finished his thought:

And so is Goliath!

OK, so he's 4.

Friday, September 18, 2009

for the record

The blessing and bane of blogging is that you only have to show the face you want the world to see. Yes, sometimes my kids and I smell roses and laugh and play in swimming pools. Sometimes the verbs are love, kiss, sing, share, and enjoy.

But for the sake of honesty, I feel that I must balance my last post with a few other verbs that regularly come into play in the messy beautiful life of a real family like mine.








yesterday in verbs

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

i think i am real

In her book, Beyond Deserving: Children, Parents & Responsibility Revisited (which I plan to review here soon), theologian and child psychotherapist Dorothy Martyn makes a striking comparison between great poetry and the words of children. Both tell us something true and important, but we can easily miss it if we don't take the time to see beyond the face-value of the words.

This came from 4-year-old Nate yesterday, out of the blue:

Sometimes I think bad things and I cry in my bed.


Because I think I am real when I do that.

But then I open my eyes, and I am in my room, and I don't cry anymore.

music recommendation: live under lights and wires

I had so much fun writing about Derek Webb's new album earlier this month (and hearing your responses) that I just might make music reviews a regular part of this blog. And it only makes sense to go from reviewing Webb's album right into a review (and enthusiastic recommendation) of his wife's latest project.

Sandra McCracken and her husband (Webb) invited a few lucky Belmont College students into their living room last December. They treated the students to an acoustic set of 14 songs drawn from McCracken's ten-year career as a singer-songwriter, and the resulting product (Live Under Lights and Wires) is an astoundingly beautiful live record. You know an album is good if it can make you feel like you are sitting in a Nashville living room when in fact you are having metal screws implanted in your gums (oral surgery yesterday - it went well, thanks for asking). And this one can.

Hard to choose, but these are a few of my favorite tracks:

Halfway -- McCracken was almost 8 months pregnant with her second child when this album was recorded, and I think this song might be about loving Baby #2.

The Tie That Binds -- Not like it's hard or anything, but this song makes me cry almost every time I hear it. It makes me think of my sweet nephew Asher and his first few months of life, but it also reminds me that although each of us shares the "curse that no man can escape," we also share a hope in "the winds that carry us home."

No More Tears -- So after I'm done crying over The Tie That Binds, I listen to this track about being done crying. This is probably the song that resonates most profoundly with me on a personal level. Maybe because it puts into words what I want (but often feel unable) to say.

You can download a 6-song sampler of this album for free (if you tell 5 friends) from Noise Trade, a website that Webb started to encourage what he calls "fair-trade music." Artists can sign up and post their music for free, fans can pay what they want for the music or tell 5 friends about it and download it for free. Webb's philosophy is that "a great record is its own best marketing tool," and that getting music out there for people to hear it is good for artists, fans, and the industry as a whole.

To summarize, if you have ever wished you were sitting in Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken's living room (or maybe you're not as creepy as me, but you still appreciate songs that tell stories, lovely harmonies, acoustic guitars, and the occasional banjo), follow the links above to download your free sampler. And then come back and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

they said it

[In the car today.]

Dexter: Nate, you fly?
Nate: No, I'm not a bird. I don't have wings.
Dexter: Oh.
Nate: Hey, I know! When I grow up I can be a bird! Everyone can be a bird when they grow up.
Dexter: Me bird! Mommy bird!
Nate: Yeah. When we grow up we can be birds and then we can fly anywhere we want.

[a minute later.]

Nate: Mommy, when am I gonna grow up?

Nate wanted to take a picture of me flying like a bird too.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

maybe it just grew

There is a tree in our backyard, I think it is in the pine family. I am pretty terrible at estimating heights, but I'd say it's maybe a billion feet tall. This afternoon it swayed in the light breeze and let sunbeams dodge in and among its tallest branches; I lay on the grass and watched and wondered.

Why did that tree grow from a tiny seed to a towering giant? How many seeds fell to the ground that season but never germinated, or took root, or grew beyond the sapling stage? What made this one special?

Maybe someone carefully tended the seed and the sapling. Or maybe the seed fell in a particularly fertile patch of earth. Or maybe there was a series of mild winters when the tree was young, giving it strong roots in its early life.

Or maybe it just grew because some seeds grow, and it was one of those seeds.

Why do we become what we are? It is easy to think and behave as though we make it happen. And without a doubt, our choices do shape who we become. But what shapes our choices? What (or who) makes us grow, and why, and how?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

two for two

My second baby turns two today. Dexter brings so much joy to my life I can hardly stand it. He absolutely cracks me up every day - the kid is a riot. And he gives the best hugs, partially because he is so pudgy and round it just makes him fun to hug. But also because he is willing to stop and lay his head on my shoulder and rest there. He is not in a hurry. It stops me in my tracks every day and reminds me to slow down to give and receive love.

Happy birthday, sweet Dex. We love you!

Thanks for the Thomas jammies Nana!

Monday, September 7, 2009

third of september

I took the boys and their buddies down to Seahurst Park so we could all put our toes in the tide pools one last time before Fall blows in.

We watched the leaves and sticks on their slow sail along the creek toward the Puget Sound.

We climbed over logs and bent down in the shallows to stare at seaweed and barnacles.

We squatted in the damp sand and tried to throw all the rocks we could reach, and the ones we found under those too. Dark and heavy clouds gathered behind Vashon Island (it would be a rainy afternoon), but the sky above us was blue and the breeze was leftover from August.

I watched until I got so full I had to bum a few snapshots off a stranger, handing her camera back with my business card and hoping she'd do as she promised.

She did, and I'm grateful.

Friday, September 4, 2009

music review: stockholm syndrome

I have been a Derek Webb fan since Caedmon's Call sold copies of My Calm//Your Storm for $7 at their half-full shows (and yes, Travis, that DOES make me awesome). I like him as a musician, a vocalist, a storyteller, a preacher, and a poet. I have enjoyed watching his music change and grow with him, from angst-ridden single-guy CCM songs to goofy bluegrass to the electronic experiment of his new release, Stockholm Syndrome.

Even though I am admittedly predisposed to be a fan of whatever Webb does, it took a few listens before Stockholm Syndrome began to grow on me. The electronic-pop sound of the album is a departure from Webb's acoustic-driven norm, and the lyrics demand far more than just a casual listen. But after hitting the repeat button a few dozen times to give myself a fighting chance at understanding both the music and the words, I can say that I think this album is phenomenal.

I can understand why this album, and even Webb himself, have been criticized heavily by conservative Christian media. He is not doing what most Christian artists do, in that he is not writing songs with a clear "here is what I believe about God" message. Instead, he is simply holding up a mirror. Based on the criticisms I have read, it seems that people either miss the point because they hear it as Webb's personal testimony and judge him a heretic, or else they get the point and just don't want to hear it.

A few highlights:

*Heaven - This sweet, lilting melody will make you hum along and smile until you listen to the words. (Again, this is not to be interpreted as "Derek Webb thinks this is what heaven will be like." Use your noggins.)

*I Love/Hate You - One critic interpreted this song as being directed at Webb's wife, but I have to disagree. Based on the EP Webb and his wife made together about their relationship, this song is not about them. Rather, I find it to be a frighteningly familiar picture of what it looks like to worship anything (whether religion, philosophy, or personality) other than God. Another great track, What You Give Up To Get It, has a similar message and is lyrically engaging.

*Jena & Jimmy - An allegorical commentary on one of Webb's favorite topics - the intersection of church and politics. This is a clever song with a catchy 80's pop hook that sticks in your head for days.

And I guess I can't really review this album without mentioning the song that has gotten the most hype: a blistering assesment of the conservative Christian subculture's response to homosexuals (What Matters More, listen here). The song has a cuss word (which, as my husband loves to say, is not a cuss word to everyone - to some people it is just a fact of life) which caused Webb's label to balk at releasing the album. They reached a compromise - the label released the album without the song, while Webb released the full album himself on his website - but not before Webb used the ordeal to launch a gimmicky and somewhat annoying marketing campaign. All that to say, I think it's a good song and the cuss word does not get me worked up. The message isn't exactly ground-breaking, but it is still one that hasn't been heard or listened to enough so, as the Aussies say, good on ya Derek.

My favorite words of the album are the last ones. It is almost as if Webb is anticipating the critics who say he should be more hopeful (and there were those) by reminding us that, although the scene is bleak when we look in the mirror, we're not done.

In the end it will all be alright / That's what the wise men tell us / So if it's not alright / Then it's not the end, oh my friends / There's hope for everyone.