Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If you ever needed proof that I'm a little neurotic...

I don't consider myself a control freak (No, really! Stop laughing, Mom!), but I think everyone has their trigger points. Some of us, like myself, have really stupid trigger points. Example:

People, this is the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night. The missing leg to the anatomy puzzle, the missing rod from Lucy's Goldieblox set, the missing magnetic octopus from the fishing game, the missing wooden knife from the play food cutting set, the "pencil" for the Magnatab, the missing ball for the top of the stacking rings...I could go on, but I won't. I know they're just toys, but I can't seem to let it go. All these missing things dance around in my head during the wee hours of the night like psychotic sugarplums, slowing eating away at my sanity. Okay, that was a little dramatic. However, I will confess that we are currently keeping an extra couch, partly because I can't get rid of it until I'm certain beyond a reasonable doubt that there are no toy fugitives lurking within. I have been known to spend my time after the kids are in bed armed with a flashlight, crusading on my hands and knees for the great cause of completed toy sets. It makes me feel rather noble, really.

Most of the time, the missing pieces turn up in due course. I have a checklist that I follow when searching for missing odds and ends:

1. Under the couch cushions
2. Under the couch
3. Behind the overstuffed chair
4. Under the china hutch
5. In my car (that's a terrifying prospect in and of itself)
6. In the girls' beds
7. In my bed
8. In the subwoofer (no, I'm not kidding)

This list has saved me time and time again, and every time I find a missing bit that I've been looking for, I do a happy-mama dance and sleep a little better at night, secure in the knowledge that I have helped humanity in some small way. Or, that I've somehow fed my growing obsession with order and completeness. Same difference, right?

But here's the weird part: how am I supposed to feel when the missing pieces show up on their own? What am I supposed to do when I've been turning the furniture upside down looking for the missing leg to the anatomy puzzle, and I walk out to this:

It kind of seems like it was waiting for me, doesn't it?

What's weirder (is that a word?) is when the missing piece somehow magically appears and puts itself back in its place, and no one seems to know how it got there.

Tonight, I'm happy to say that New York is back on the map, the Magnatab is usable again, Goldie can again build her spinning machine, and all is right with the toy world. But one thing will keep me awake tonight [cue: dramatic music]: where did that leg come from? 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Serious Business of School

By some crazy fluke, I ended up having no commitments today until mid-afternoon. Now, if you know me, you know that this is as rare as a Dutch person dancing: it almost never happens, and it's always a cause for celebration (and photos). My short people and I celebrated by doing school...hard-core. And I have for your viewing pleasure, photographic evidence of how seriously we take school:

Lucy clearly has her sights set on the goal of learning - you can practically see her holding aloft her lamp of knowledge.

I am a hard taskmistress - can't you tell? They have their backs to the camera, but if you could see their faces, you would see their little freckled brows furrowed in concentration. 

But see, I did have a plan in all this spontaneity. I had a grand science experiment planned; I won't give it all away, but it involved magnets and a plastic bag and salad oil and iron filaments extracted from the sandy river bank. It was going to be awesome, until this happened:

Lucy made it most of the way down the ramp (ostensibly chasing Hannah so that she wouldn't fall, guffaw), but gravity caught up with her, and therefore, I had to catch up with her. Unbeknownst to me, our beloved horseshoe magnet (read: experiment lynchpin) migrated out of my purse on my hasty trip down the ramp, and I didn't realize it until some lovely passerby had claimed it for his or her own. Boo. See here, sir or madam, this is what Julia thinks of people who steal:

 So, when we finally made it to the river and I realized that my science experiment had gone awry, I was forced to come up with a plan B. So, I took the box of Teddy Grahams (don't judge!) that I had brought for snacktime, gave the bag to my tribe (who claimed they were dying of starvation), and filled the box with sand so that we could perform our science experiment at home. I know...moment of brilliance. I've never been so thankful for Teddy Grahams. And then it was back to the serious business at hand: getting as dirty and wet as possible.

Nose to the grindstone.

After a long meander along the riverbank, we made it back to the car relatively unscathed, and managed to get home in time for lunch (the full box of Teddy Grahams merely whet their palate). But here's the punchline: I reached into my purse to unpack our precious science cargo, picked up the box...and saw a steady trickle of sand running out of one corner. Whoops.

This should have been a bummer of a morning - a lost magnet, an alarming amount of sand in the bottom of my purse, a science experiment temporarily foiled, and a pair of yellow toddler pants that will probably never recover. But really, it was a jewel, and here was the crowning moment: when Lucy found the ziploc bag on the side of the path (missing its magnet), she had a moment of sadness, but then brightened up and started using the bag to gather red and orange leaves to take home. This was huge. Let me tell you, the Lucy of six months ago would have let that pilfered magnet ruin her day. That, my friends, is character development, and it's (one reason) why I signed up for this gig in the first place. And I'll tell you another thing: I needed to see that, and I needed to write about it tonight, because it's been a bummer of an evening, and I've been sitting here letting a handful of little things ruin my day, instead of asking the Lord to open my eyes to everything that He wants me to learn, to everything that He wants me to gather from this and take home. Lucy's not the only student here...and that's (one reason) why I signed up for this gig in the first place.

"Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy."
Psalm 96:12 (NLT)