Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pelted with Milestones (Repost)

Last night, Ethan and I were on the front porch when we saw a little ball of fluff fall into the soft net of ivy below our kittywillow tree. I knew immediately that our baby cardinal had just launched from its nest.

We had been watching the nest for weeks, observing the parents as they swooped around, heightening their guard when humans or other intruders entered the perimeter (which we had to do frequently, since the nest is right by our driveway).

Today, however, was a milestone for our neighboring bird family. Their little one had outgrown the nest and ventured out alone--albeit just a few feet below--to assert a newfound independence.

Coincidentally (or is it?), May is also the month of many human milestones. Graduation announcements from preschools to universities have continually pinged newspapers, calendars, and mailboxes. It's the season for learning to fly.

I empathized with Daddy Cardinal as he fluttered around, trying to figure out how to get the little one back in the nest, using his smoke-detector chirps to announce possible danger, the little one answering with squawks to identify his location. I knew that Daddy Bird was feeling a worrisome knot in his stomach, twisting just below the swells of pride that filled his heart--the two forces together wreaking havoc in the mind of a parent (of any species).

Just this week our family has been pelted with our own set of milestones. A few days ago, we matched my fifteen-year-old son's savings to buy his first vehicle: a 1981 American CJ-7 with a dented hood and a reputation for stalling. It's his pride and joy. And my new source of concern. But despite my chirps, I know he'll soon be driving it. Alone.

Then, on the same day the little cardinal pounced from his nest, my little redhead finished his last day of preschool, outgrowing his own nest of loving teachers and sweet friends that had nurtured him for the past three years. In two short months, he'll be venturing into strange, new surroundings, full of uncertainty and opportunity. All the while, mother bird will be here chirping and fluttering helplessly about.

God, in his wisdom, gave parents no control over the advancement of time. (Honestly, would we have it any other way?) And while we can do our best to nurture and shield our little (and not-so-little) ones, we can only stand helplessly by and be pelted by their milestones.

This morning, writing from the front porch, I notice a calm has settled over Daddy Cardinal. Still flitting around the young bird with concern, Dad has conceded to bringing the little one's breakfast down to the ivy. The alarming chirps have subsided, and moments ago, with a fed and quiet child, I even saw Daddy in a maple tree high above singing a much more relaxed song.

As for me, I smiled and sighed knowingly as I read my key verse for today. Coincidentally (or is it?), "He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection" (Psalm 91:4 NLT).

For a little while at least, I'll relax a bit, knowing that my little ones--as well as I--can always run for protection in the wings that shield the world.

What milestones are you facing today? Let's celebrate them together.

Update: Ethan has just finished first grade, and Michael is just a short summer away from a senior. It doesn't get any easier, my friends. And yet, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Tip: Skip the Bowl

Yes, I realize that I'm a writer and should be blogging about writerly things. But first and foremost, I'm a mother to two hungry boys.

So here's the tip: skip the bowl. 

This morning, when "I'm hungry!" rang out from the back bedroom, I knew I had to scurry. I had a client call coming and a list of things to do before that. So, I grabbed a package of just-add-milk muffins and a measuring cup.

(If you're a just-add-flour-baking-soda-baking-powder kind of cook--and occasionally I am--this won't help. :)

First measure the milk (or whatever is to be measured) in a two-cup measuring cup. (For larger batters, like pancakes, I use a graduated pitcher.) Then add the mix directly into the measuring cup. A two-cup measuring cup is perfect for the half-dozen muffin mix. After you mix the batter in the measuring cup, you simply pour directly from the cup. 

Rocket science? No. But does it save dishes, time, and water? Yes. Plus, it pours much more neatly from the spout than it does from a bowl or tablespoon.

I'm no Martha Stewart. But I try to streamline where I can.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Come Bearing Gifts

Just a few of Jamie's priceless gifts . . .
I had the most delightful lunch with a friend today. 

Jamie Chavez worked at Thomas Nelson when I started there as an intern. Then (fast-forward several years) when we both found ourselves bearing the title of "Freelancer," we decided it would be a good idea to whine and cheer and brainstorm over lunch on a regular basis. Plus, we both live in the same college town.

But that's pretty much where the similarities end.

She's a baby-booming Democrat. (Need I say "staunch"?) I'm a Gen-X Republican. She has an empty nest. I'm still feeding birds. She's a Mac. I'm a PC. She's always on time. I'm always, well, not.

We have lively discussions.

And we each bring our gifts. She, the gifts of experience, realism, discipline, drive, determination. Me? Well, she would have to speak to that, but I think I bring optimism, a laugh, and a differing perspective.

Today, Jamie and I exchanged tangible gifts. In times of economic difficulty, it may seem frivolous to conduct such an act when there's not so much as a birthday to celebrate. Or, one may argue, it's the very reason why we should dig deep and bring more. Feast or famine, when we take time to consider it, we'll find that we all have our gifts to share--be they of the tangible or the more valuable intangible variety.

To Jamie, I brought garden-fresh radishes and treats I had picked up in her home 'country' of California (as a thank-you, more than anything, for her CA travel advice). And for me it was a gorgeous bouquet of "foraged" (as she calls it) items from her back yard: mint and roses, lemon verbena and rosemary.

We all have priceless gifts to bring to the table. And they don't have to cost a thing.

What gifts can you offer to a friend--or even a stranger--today? 

Whatever it is, don't hesitate. I assure you: your reward will always be greater than the cost.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Undercover Mommy Winner!

Well, folks, you've decided. And the Facebook Undercover Mommy Contest winner is Leanne Wright

Leanne is Mommy to three-year-old Maddie, who must take dozens of pills and medical treatments each day in her battle with Cystic Fibrosis. And that's on her healthy days. As part of her battle, Maddie is also hospitalized at least twice a year.

Thank You, God, for Leanne. Please give Leanne and sweet Maddie divine strength.

Leanne and Maddie will receive a signed copy of Thank You, God, for Mommy.

I hope all of you awesome mommies . . . and kids with mommies . . . and grownups with mommies had a wonderful Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Caught Being Awesome!

As part of my Undercover Mommy contest, I caught this Mommy (Natalie) being awesome at the post office with the beautiful Chloe. Besides dressing her absolutely adorably for the rain and being super patient on a yucky day, Mommy told Chloe that she was "awesome" and asked for a high-five when little Chloe knowingly walked away from "a stranger."

Thank You, God, for Natalie (and Chloe too)!

(I later discovered that Natalie was a British voiceover talent. Check her out!)

You can catch a mommy being awesome too! Just post her story on my Facebook page, and the mommy with the most Likes wins an autographed copy of Thank You, God, for Mommy!