Friday, September 28, 2007

Walk like a man, talk like a man

I'm once again struck by how fast my babies are growing up. Jake just had a bath and was curled up on my lap under a blanket, and the scent of his squeaky clean little body made breathe deeply and smile. I told him I wanted him to use the same baby shampoo and sit on my lap until he graduates from high school. He said "okay" and then I told him that in a few years he'd be saying, "stop sniffing me Mom, I'm too big to sit on your lap, you're such a nerd." Then he brought me back to the present when he said "You're such a nerve, mom. You're a big nerve."

Jake is old enough now that he rarely mispronounces a word, but when he does, it never fails to crack me up. Ty of course has many words that are not quite perfect, but he's learning fast. I'm going to miss baby talk. Here's some of my favorite Jake-isms and Ty-talk.

wipe-kin = napkin
Beedits = Felix
Fewix = Beedits = Felix
Tih-tat = Tic Tac (aka Ty's reason for living)
aminal = every 3 year olds' version of animal
cimanin = cinnamon according to Jake and Emeril Lagasse
ownz = orange
Mohness = "doggy Alcorn" = Moses (Alcorn's dalmation)
meemac = music
nonny = laundry (most with permanent ownz tih-tat stains)
hot = everything Ty's not allowed to touch, regardless of temperature
abbies = owies, ie. what happens when Ty touches anything hot (this time temperature applies)
WOW, can't believe I forgot my favorite one: Ty calls bread "fred." And just FYI, zucchini fred rules.

Well I may be a nerve, but at least I've got 2 little boys who always make me laugh. Don't grow up too fast, okay?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Honesty 101

Honesty 101 is now in session. The reason I haven't posted in a while is because I haven't had anything amusing to post. I enjoy making people laugh, and having people think I'm clever, and I'll admit that I haven't been very clever lately. I've had boring days, and busy days and a run of really bad days. I've admitted and apologized to my husband and kids and my girls Bible study that I've just been in a bad mood and can't seem to shake it.

Jake and I have been reading Dr. Seuss' Hop on Pop. There's a line that pretty much sums up my life right now: "Dad is sad. Very very sad. He had a bad day, what a day dad had." ("Ang" or "mom" doesn't really rhyme as well as "dad," but it sure seems to fit).

I've been wallowing in my small little problems. Rolling my eyes (and wiping tears from them) when yet another minor catastrophe bombards my day. I feel like nobody notices or cares quite enough about the woes of Ang's world, and so I talk about them all day long to be sure everyone is listening.

"Angela Marie Stump!"

"Yes, Lord?"

"I'm listening, and I'm not sure I like what I hear. You want recognition for each diaper you change and pity for your circumstances from a stranger? What about your eternal reward? Is my 'well done' not enough for you?"

Hmmm. Right. Needed a little perspective, didn't I. Well, I found it with the help of the Bible's promises, and a short story someone forwarded to me. I'm condensing it, but here's the part that got me:

The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip! and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought this for you."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. 2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Thank you, Lord for giving my soul a little food. I'm ready to shake the mood. I'm losing the 'tude. It's all good, dude.

You get the point.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Got to love Costco

One tank of gas finding a parking spot, $40. A lifetime supply of Easy Mac, $6.99. Ty's body weight in Goldfish crackers...priceless.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Have it your way

First of all, before I get to my exciting life, let me say CONGRATULATIONS to friends Faith and Bryan on the birth of baby Luke on Sunday morning! Look at some adorable pictures of Luke and big sis Peyton on their blog. I can't wait to meet him! Way to go Faithy. I know you thought he'd never get here!

Now to my exciting life. Oh wait, there's nothing exciting to say. Life is returning to normal around here because Dan is back in the grind. But I do have some random cute pictures. Oh, I know what I'll do to entertain you...

Do you remember those "choose your own adventure" books? They're even doing movies these days with alternate endings on the DVD's. How about you choose which caption would go best under each of these pictures:

A. Jake loves his sunglasses.
B. Jake loves being naked.
C. The combination of the two just makes the kid giddy.
D. Skillful photography makes this picture wedding-slide-show appropriate.

A. Ty is refusing to let us help him eat.
B.Ty should be taking baths at least 3 times daily.
C.Ty read once that mac and cheese smeared in your hair once every few days has been shown to reduce the occurrence of split ends.

A. Felix has made himself at home these last few days. Last night he took advantage of the quiet after the kids went to bed to catch a snooze in the loving arms of Elmo.
B. I've agreed to assist the biology community in documenting the natural habitat of the puggle species. It appears they are attracted to the color red, and enjoy taking long naps in front of particularly large televisions.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Daniel John

On September 1, 1980 my life was forever blessed by the birth of a tiny baby. I'm pretty sure I wasn't even conceived yet, but I'm also pretty sure God had me in mind when little Danny J. Stump was born to John and Ann. This tiny baby didn't stay very tiny for long, and soon he was obsessing over sports stats like Jake obsesses over cars. He collected zillions of baseball cards that are still in our attic and at his parents house ("guaranteed money in the bank some day"). He was the man in middle school, ruling the basketball court, football field and track.

And then one day he met a pretty girl. They became fast friends and that friendship slowly grew. She watched him play basketball in high school, and break his hand playing football his senior year, and she realized how much she cared about him. They went to the winter formal together and held hands. They got married one summer day, and the pretty girl thought she couldn't love him any more than she did at that moment. But then they started to share their lives together and she realized how blessed she really was. They hardly ever fought, and even though his mom had spoiled him (love you, Ann!), he still remembered to do the dishes every once in a while, and always took out the trash.

Then they had a baby, and the girl knew by looking at Dan's face that he would be an incredible father. She was right. He has the perfect mixture of what a dad should be...wrestling with his boys, disciplining them in love, and never letting them go to bed without kisses from daddy.

He is a fantastic teacher, whose students love him and proved by their scores on the state test that they learned a ton from him. He is an awesome role model for the junior high guys that he coaches in football and basketball. I'm excited to bring our boys to his games again this year. They're so proud of daddy, as am I.

Thank you Ann, for giving birth to your little boy who turned into my big man. You and John did an incredible job of raising him, and I am truly grateful.

And thank you Dan, for loving me and our babies more than you love ESPN in high def on your 50 inch plasma. We love you, too. Happy birthday, dude.