Inflating a pool, deflating my pride

You hear a lot of voices while you’re inflating the kiddie pool in the high noon sun. Most of them are saying,

You are a moron.

Why aren’t the kids helping you?

Was that a wasp?

You are still a moron.

 

You might even appreciate the irony for a moment, inflating the kiddie pool while standing on the surface of the burning sun, that you paid for a hot yoga class that morning, HAHAH, which is basically the same thing, HAHA, in terms of working out in a sauna and breathing hard. The only difference is that in hota yoga your outfit was cuter and at the end the instructor placed an ice cold towel on your head as she whispered, “Namaste….”

Then there’s always this one voice that seems to intone not in your head but in your heart and it says,

Don’t be mad about this. Don’t be mad about any of this. Don’t feel sorry for yourself for one second. This thing you’re doing for your kids–

That voice gets interrupted for a second because you just bumped your head on the beach umbrella you were trying to drill into the ground near the sad-looking kiddie pool so that the littles will have some shade.

I know you just hit your head, says the voice, and I know how that feels. But be tenderhearted anyway.

You go in the house and tell the kids you want to share something with them. They look slightly alarmed because you are all sweaty and, “Mom, we were watching Teen Titans–”

“You guys, so I got the pool all ready for you,”

“Yeah, thanks, Mama,” they pat my shoulder just to maybe tamp down the crazy I might unleash on them at any moment.

“So you know, as I was out there and I was sweating and getting injured just to do something nice for you guys, I was thinking about someone who suffered a lot doing nice things for me,

“Jesus?” they say.

“Yeah. And how I don’t always say thank you. So that was just a reminder of how even Mommy needs to say thank you to Jesus more.”

All I have is the Gospel. Again and again I’m fooled by pride that I’m the one making big things happen. But all I have is Jesus and the grace he floods me with, the air that he pours into my lungs each day, which I offer in trickles and spits and poorly inflated pools to the little ones who are on lease to me. All glory is his. Namaste, Peace be with you, and Amen.

2016-04-25 07.36.05

Continue Reading

Six

Dear Little Man,

2016-05-18 10.48.54

Since you’ve been reminding us of your forthcoming birthday several million times a day for the last ten months, I cannot say it came out of nowhere. You woke me up this morning reminding me, in case I had forgotten in my dream, that today was the day. You were ready for your presents now, Mama.

This is you. You are always in a position to celebrate. There is no milestone, no holy day of obligation, no bank holiday that you are not ready to fete. You are poised to party at all times. You carve up a dance floor something fierce and have yet to meet a birthday cake you won’t destroy.

2016-05-18 10.49.132016-05-18 10.49.142016-05-18 10.49.29

This past year you’ve gotten big into Mario Brothers and all games in analog, spanking the competition in Memory, When Pigs Fly, Monopoly, Connect Four. I can’t tell which way you’re going to go in school, what subjects you really gravitate toward, but you seem to like storytelling which you definitely come by honestly, Son.

You still cannot swim. This does not keep you from cannonballing off the high dive at the pool, lifejacket strapped on.

All of this paints a picture of you as a rambunctious punk, but I have to say that you are one of the more tenderhearted lads I’ve met. You wept when you discovered that your beloved Hot Chocolate the Stuffed Reindeer had gone missing in the wild. Fortunately, we bought a duplicate on e-bay and when it arrived, you held it and rolled on the floor clutching it, like it was a soldier come home from the battlefield. You have since carried him everywhere and even if I attempt to move Hot Choc, you are quick to grab the deer close once more.

You stopped saying “Lemolade” this past year which made me a little sad, but you were explaining the different ups in baseball yesterday, referring to them as when you’re “batting” and “glove-ing” and I told you about hitting versus fielding but I secretly hoped you would continue on with glove-ing.

Your favorite person of all time is still Big Sis. Your happiest place is wherever you can be playing with her, copying her move, which drives her up the wall. In other words, you are a fully-vested Little Brother.

I’m excited for this summer and the year of growth, which is a very boring grown-up thing to say on a little dude’s birthday. If we ask you what you’re excited about in your sixth year of life, you would likely say you are excited to see the Angry Birds movie, go to the beach this summer and work on becoming an eventual ninja. I mean, Duh.

We love you, Little Man x 6.

2016-05-18 10.49.46

Love, Mama

Continue Reading

Charleston with Kids

chaswkids

One of our FamiLee goals is to take our children to see all the major cities in the South. We are covering some good ground but Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are still relatively unconquered for us. One of the things that strikes a tourist about the American Southeast is how well-preserved many structures are, largely because the weather is more gentle than, say, Boston where colonial homes have weathered Nor-easter after decades of Nor’easters. The exception to this preservation is the many buildings that suffered fires which were incredibly common–even into this past century.

Our recent visit to Charleston, SC took us on the requisite carriage tour where we learned about the importance of the fire insurance medallion. I’ll spare you the history lesson but Baby Girl was fascinated with how volunteer fire squads would totally leave a building to burn to ashes if it didn’t have this emblem near the front door, indicating that it wasn’t insured. Baby Girl talked about it at length, the whole phenomenon of that, and it gave me hope that maybe our daughter would grow up to understand the travesty of racial profiling, to resist the temptation to judge others’ based on their income or insuredness, to be a real pillar of justice. Meanwhile, Little Man was downright indignant that he had missed seeing The Medallion. He was obsessed for the rest of the carriage ride with seeing a bona fide medallion, like it was a gold coin in Mario he kept bypassing, and his life, virtual or otherwise, would perish without.

Kids, man.

But we love them and we like to travel with them and explore new terrain with them. Here are some pointers I can offer if you venture with kidlets to Charleston, the belle of South Carolina:

ModCloth

Accommodations:
Our favorite lodging situation is always AirBNB, especially as having separate bedrooms is really nice now that our kids are getting older. We stayed on James Island at a fantastic home that I highly recommend. It had 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, games, DVDs, a beautiful fenced backyard with deck + grille, and the host was very cool. Here’s a code for $20 off your first AirBnB stay anywhere.

2016-03-06 16.22.38

2016-03-07 11.03.04

Attractions:
Loverpants calls the beach “Nature’s Babysitter” because our kids could dig in sand and troll for seashells for almost as long as you could binge-watch a whole season of “Fuller House.” Although we were only in the Charleston area for about 48 hours, we made visiting Folly Beach a priority. We walked the boardwalk and hit the beach in the evenings and our last morning there. Even though it was too cold to swim, I recommend bringing the standard beach pail and shovel accoutrements if you’re ever near sand and have kids who need to be thoroughly worn out in order to hit the pillow in peace each night.
Untitled

Exploring King St. with one of my besties Ashley
2016-03-07 12.03.47
2016-03-06 18.39.34
2016-03-06 18.35.06
Untitled

As mentioned, we took a carriage ride through the Battery district in downtown Charleston. Lovely thing, that. The carriage tourism is highly regulated and I’m told all the companies charge the same and give roughly the same tour depending on what lottery ball the driver draws. This blogger explains the system better than I could. Tours cost $25/adult and $15/child. There are always coupons, if you are inclined.

2016-03-07 15.16.59
2016-03-07 15.57.41

King St., College of Charleston, and Rainbow Row were all destinations that we tried to check off our list, with intermittent reminders that whining was prohibited in Charleston and that using public restrooms that were not trees was encouraged. Hashtag five year-olds out in the wild.
2016-03-07 12.39.27
2016-03-07 11.58.55
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

Food
We generally try to bring our breakie with us (instant coffees, bagels, Clif bars) when we travel because waking up hungry and uncaffeinated and tending to the needs of littles who are hangry is not a winning way to start the vacation day. We kept lunch casual in Charleston (may I recommend Freshii on King St.) and had the best sorbet/gelato/coffee at this place down by the water. I’m serious. It was so fresh and so good.
Untitled

We had two unexpectedly great dinners on Folly Beach. The first was at the ‘Wich Doctor who carried Maine Root Beer which was my first sign that this place didn’t mess around. Some fusion menu items that you wouldn’t expect from a beach cafe, and the sweet potato pizza was just really good. Our second dinner was at Rita’s, which looks every bit tourist trap but is actually a good family eatery. Kids’ meals were served on frisbees as plates. Hard to beat.
Untitled

Pizza-holding photo-bombing at ‘Wich Doctor

2016-03-06 19.18.57

This place was nice, too, and they have a laptop-free policy 😉
Untitled
Please subscribe to our seasonal lovemail if you’d like more updates such as these in our Seeing the South with Kids series.
Untitled
Untitled

Continue Reading