When you travel to China to adopt your children, you start eating in restaurants with them right away. Unless you want to live off of ramen noodles in your hotel room, you don’t have another choice.
Maybe that’s why, even though we have had moments of poor restaurant behavior, eating out with our children doesn’t intimidate me.
Still, when we were invited to a surprise 70th birthday party at Volt in Frederick, Md., I was a little unsure what we would encounter. We had never been to Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant, but a quick look at its website made me fairly confident it wasn’t the kind of place that catered to children.
So, as we headed out the door, I grabbed a few Matchbox cars, a stack of paper, and some crayons.
When we arrived at Volt, the staff sent all the children—and there were several—into a garden adjacent to the restaurant.
The children ran laps through the grass. The waiters served them glasses of pomegranate lemonade.
They offered us sweetbread and crab balls and pureed cauliflower on bent spoons.
After we all yelled, “Surprise!” and shocked the birthday girl, we found seats inside at a table near my parents and my sister and her husband and my niece. We also happened to be right near the kitchen where the chefs were preparing the food. Built-in entertainment!
Then the multi-course meal began. It was amazing.
The waiters brought out rolls, and Daniel ate roll after roll after roll. I hadn’t realized how many he had eaten until a waiter arrived with a new bowl of butter for our 5-year-old.
Salads arrived and disappeared.
Buttered noodles came for the children.
Halibut came for us.
“Did she say hali-butt?” our boys giggled. Then they saw that it was fish.
“You can have my noodles, Mama,” Daniel told me, pushing his plate toward me. Then he and his brother ate most of our fish.
Then came steaks in a pistachio reduction (I think) with peas and mushrooms—and chicken fingers and fries for our children.
And then came dessert, which was extraordinary, especially since we watched them use a propane torch to make it. There was Guinness Stout ice cream for us and Chocolate Cola ice cream for the boys.
That was before the two kinds of cake arrived.
Through it all, our boys sampled and nibbled and ate with gusto.
There was, of course, also a great deal of waiting between courses. After all, this was not fast food. We were at the restaurant for four and a half hours. The wait staff could not have been more attentive to us and our children, showing them how a crumber works, carefully moving their drawings aside to remove dirty dishes, and treating our boys with the same friendly respect they gave us.
To fill the time, we made the most of our Matchbox cars, which Daniel shared with his 7-month-old cousin.
And we used every piece of paper I had.
We drew pictures and created mazes.
We played Hangman.
John and Leo played a game I believe is called Boxes, where you try to connect dots with lines to make boxes.
Then Leo started building paper structures.
We played several competitive rounds of “I Spy.”
And I may have sent Daniel to “check on Grandpa” a few times when he was too antsy to stay in his seat another minute.
Our niece did amazingly well, especially considering it was her first trip to a restaurant. I’m not sure how her parents will manage her expectations in the future.
And it's a good thing someone besides Daniel took photos to show that she was there with all of us.
What did I learn? Blank paper offers endless entertainment. It pays to have children who love to eat. And our children have greater stamina than I had realized—especially when their grandparents are there to help.
Oh, and I can’t tell you much about the halibut. But the chicken fingers were excellent.
Check out a Catholic Review restaurant review of Volt here.
May 31, 2015 11:32
By Rita Buettner
Today I was vacuuming the living room—an event so rare it would probably have deserved its own blog—when I heard our younger son come up behind me.
“Mama,” he yelled over the roar of the vacuum. “I cut my hair!”
I turned around and looked at his jagged bangs.
“What? I said. “You’re not supposed to cut your own hair!”
He hesitated. “Well, you said we needed haircuts.”
There was no arguing that point. Now he needed one more than ever.
We went to the bathroom, where he showed me the scissors he had found.
I was actually shocked to find that he had cut his hair directly over the wastebasket.
I tried to trim his hair to straighten it and realized I was just making it worse. So I gave up. We talked about why we have barbers cut our hair and not doing things without asking—not a new conversation for anyone with a 5-year-old who doesn’t understand why he can’t get his motorcycle license tomorrow.
Although I was worried about his using scissors behind my back, I wasn’t that upset about the haircut. He’s 5. He’s not pursuing a modeling career. And hair grows back.
As for me, I’ve learned my lesson. I’m never vacuuming the living room again.
May 31, 2015 09:47
By Rita Buettner
Our peonies are blooming! In my second spring as an owner of a peony bush, I knew to watch for the ants crawling over the flowers before they bloomed.
Who would ever think to put wax that ants love to eat over flower bulbs? Isn’t it amazing to watch the ants nibble away at the wax so the exquisite flowers can emerge?
O God, how great Thou art.
The other day our boys were eating blue popsicles, and I was thinking, food just shouldn’t be blue. Even blueberries aren’t blue.
“What do blue popsicles taste like?” I asked them, watching them slurp and lick away.
Daniel, who’s 5, stopped to think for a moment.
“Saturday,” he said.
No wonder they love them.
Earlier this week I received an email about a meeting outside my office. The organizer said that if she didn’t hear from me about food preferences, she would order me a bologna sandwich and milk.
The idea of eating a bologna sandwich for lunch made me a little queasy, but I am also a firm believer in never asking for what you’re not offered. If someone says, “May I pour you a drink?” you don’t say, “Yes, I’ll have a root beer float with a splash of vanilla.” You don’t want to hurt the host’s feelings. You accept what is presented.
In this case it might also be a quirk of their office. Some have pool tables. Some have beanbag chairs. Maybe their thing was bologna for lunch. So I didn’t reply with a food request. I just went to the meeting.
When I arrived, the organizer said, “You didn’t tell us what you wanted for lunch, so we didn’t know what to get.”
So they guessed. They ordered me a turkey wrap and an iced tea. And that’s no bologna.
When I got home, John was especially interested in my photos. I had forgotten that he spent some time there as a child when his family would visit their friend who was a brother there.
Next time I go I need to be better prepared—or I need to take John along.
The other night I had an anxiety dream where John had reorganized the silverware drawer in our kitchen.
I have no idea why that would be distressing to me. I should welcome any sort of organizing in my life—especially in our household.
Normally my anxiety dreams focus on my teeth falling out. One of my friends dreams that a tornado is approaching or that she isn’t prepared for a final exam. Another friend dreams that she is in a public restroom and there are toilets but no walls separating them.
Do you have a standard anxiety dream? Or have you had one that is really unusual?
You might think that because my blog appears here on The Catholic Review’s website that I frequently spend time at their office. But I have been there only four times, including yesterday. Two of my fellow bloggers and I went to the office for a tour and meeting.
This is the sign that greeted me as I waited to be buzzed in.
You’re curious, right? So here you go: a behind-the-scenes view of The Catholic Review, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. I could call it an exclusive, but there’s a good chance that Patti and Robyn were taking notes or photos, too.
In the bullpen (that's George Matysek trying not to be distracted on deadline)
Managing Editor Paul McMullen keeps a row of jackets near his desk, just in case.
Hanging with my friend and fellow blogger Patti Murphy Dohn
Yes, they have their own glassware.
Daniel’s caterpillar—the one we think is a gypsy moth—is still going strong. Meanwhile, I ordered monarch butterfly caterpillars and they are living in a plastic container in our kitchen.
We are waiting for them to form their chrysalides. This is one of the coolest science projects we have done, but it is also a little disturbing to me how quickly they are growing.
I’ll be sure to update you on our—or their—progress.
~ A Bonus Take ~
May 28, 2015 11:38
By Rita Buettner
Lately I have been thinking about why I blog.
I write to reflect. I write to remember. I write to connect.
I also write because I love words. Words help me make sense of the many thoughts I have swirling through my mind. Words bring order to the mostly wonderful chaos of my life. Words can bring tears and laughter. They can transport you to a different place or give you a new perspective. Words build a bridge from me to you—and sometimes back again.
I also write because sitting down to think and type in the quiet of the evening helps me focus on what matters most: my faith and my family. It helps me appreciate all I have been given. It forces me to recognize the many ways I am falling short as a wife and mother—and celebrate a few successes, too. In a way, this blog is my personal Examen.
I don’t always write openly about my love for Jesus, my deep affection for our Catholic faith, the wonder of being connected within a communion of saints, the miracle of receiving the Eucharist, how humbled I am that John and I are able to share our faith with our children. Maybe I should write more intentionally about what I believe. Still, even when I don’t talk about faith, I feel it is in the background, a little whispering wind, perhaps, or a ray of light.
When you look at a tree you know that it didn’t just appear one day. It takes sunshine and rain and fertile soil and time and maybe even caring people to make it grow. God offers me the foundation that makes it possible for me to see the world through this lens, to embrace each day with joy and hope. And He helps me reach deep within myself to find words.
As Mother Teresa said—and my friend Erica shared at a blogging conference a few weeks ago—“I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”
Oh, to be God’s pencil.
Many nights, as I’m trying to write, I have to tuck our younger son back in bed every few minutes. He always has a reason for getting up. He’s scared of a shadow. He wants to take a toy to bed. The hall is too bright. The hall is too dark. He needs another hug. He’s hungry. He’s thirsty. He’s giggling. He forgot to tell me what his friend said on the playground. He wants to call Grandma—again.
Tonight I realized that I am so much like our little boy. God places me somewhere and I try to wriggle out of it. He says it’s time to sleep and I tell Him I have something better to do. He offers me what I need and I complain. I want a toy. Not that toy! I want it dark. Not that dark!
Again and again, God tucks me in, knowing His plan is better than mine, but also knowing that I have free will—and might make the same bad decision again and again.
My faith is far, far from perfect. I am no better a person or a Christian or a Catholic than anyone else. I don’t write here because I am trying to teach you how to live your life. I’m still trying to learn how to live mine.
And I’m so honored we are on this journey—separately and together.
I’m participating in The Credo Project. If you want to learn more about the Catholic Church, please feel free to reach out here or by email at email@example.com. I am no expert, but I’m more than happy to chat.
Joining The Koala Mom and many other great bloggers for the Bloggers Fete!
May 27, 2015 11:08
By Rita Buettner
For years John has been wanting to launch model rockets with our children. He has many memories of building and launching them with friends and family, and he was excited to share that with our boys.
So when John announced that he and the boys were going to build an Estes rocket together, I wasn’t sure our children were ready, but I had the sense to stay out of their way.
They are, after all, 7 and 5. And we weren’t launching a space shuttle. We have also launched hundreds of stomp rockets and a baking soda and vinegar rocket.
So John picked a park and I read the sign carefully at the entrance. There was nothing about model rockets. We were good to go.
As John set up the launch site, the boys took their roles seriously, not touching anything that was off limits and quivering with excitement.
“Maybe it will go all the way to Venus!” said Daniel, always an optimist.
When everything was set, we started the countdown.
Launch Number One
The first rocket, a U.S. Army rocket, went soaring into the sky. It went so high that I lost track of it in the sunlight. Then it came floating down. We had to cover some ground to retrieve it, but we met some great people along the way who chatted with us about the rocket. We were a bit of a spectacle.
Launch Number Two
It was exquisite. The Metalizer, which John and the boys had just built, soared into the sky, but not too high. We could follow it all the way up and all the way down. The parachute should have opened more, but it looked great to me. See what you think.
Launch Number Three
The U.S. Army rocket shot straight into the air. But then we had a mechanical failure. It separated and the nosecone and parachute floated away from the rest of the rocket, which came tumbling back to earth.
Daniel and I ran to follow the parachute, but it fell into a tree, far out of reach. A crowd of children gathered, all offering to climb the tree or throw their bicycle helmets up to knock it down. Suddenly we had this wonderful group of helpful friends.
“That’s OK,” I said. “It’s really high up there, and it would be dangerous to climb those skinny limbs. They aren’t strong enough.”
We went back to tell Leo and John that the nosecone was gone. Some of us may have been disappointed—it was a really cool rocket—but scientists don’t cry over lost equipment or failed experiments. We had had a good run. We packed up and got ready to go.
As we were walking out, I glanced over at the tree where the parachute was. A man had found an incredibly long stick and was shaking the tree branch. The parachute fell, and some of our new friends scooped it up and ran proudly to give it to us.
We went over to thank the man, who was wearing a Washington Nationals cap and enjoying a day at the park with his family.
“I haven’t launched a rocket since high school,” he told us. I marveled at how helpful everyone was, and how our rocket launching seemed to have united everyone in the park that day. Then we were on our way.
So, no, our rocket did not go all the way to Venus. But you wouldn’t know that if you talked to our sons. They are so very proud.
Almost as proud as their Baba. He’s already talking about their next launch.
May 26, 2015 11:20
By Rita Buettner
Whenever our boys see a minivan that is the same make, model, and color as ours, they yell out, “Look! There’s our cousin!” I am totally on board with the idea that our minivan might have cousins on the road.
Somehow, though, even though they have been doing this for a while, about half the time I get excited thinking they are actually seeing one of our human relatives. But they never are.
Yesterday I went on a field trip to the zoo with Daniel’s Pre-K class. Many schools postponed or canceled their zoo trips when we were dealing with unrest in Baltimore a few weeks ago, so I was especially happy we were able to go.
It was rainy and cold and we didn’t actually see many animals. But it was still a fantastic trip. I loved spending that special time with Daniel and seeing him with his friends. I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to know many of the other parents—maybe I was less social when Leo was in preschool?—so I really enjoyed the day.
The only negative was that Daniel slipped on a wet metal cover on the ground and fell flat on his back. He is not a child who cries often, but—even though he is fine—it must have really hurt.
Back at home we told his father and brother about all the animals we had seen and the new penguin exhibit.
“We should go back to the zoo together,” I said. And I turned to Leo. “What would you want to see?”
Leo grinned and said, “I’d want to see (Daniel) fall on his fanny.”
Then they both went into gales of laughter. Hmm. I'm not sure I'll be rushing to make our next trip to the zoo.
It’s the Feast of St. Rita of Cascia! Do you think it’s coincidental that just yesterday I ran across a Coke bottle with my name on it? Or is this just The Week of Rita and I'm just learning it at the end of the week?
During our neighborhood yard sale our boys ran a lemonade and cookie stand. I was working at Loyola University Maryland’s Commencement during most of the sale, so when I came back, I asked how sales had gone. The boys shared their stories and told me how much money they had made.
“Wow,” I said. “That’s great!”
Don’t tell them, but I spent far more on cups and ingredients than they pulled in.
But they did have a wonderful time.
Back at Thanksgiving we earned a free turkey from our grocery store, so Daniel and I picked out one that was exactly the right weight to be free, and we brought it home and put it in the freezer.
For months I have talked about cooking it, but I always forgot to thaw it in time to cook it over the weekend. And, to be honest, I have never had much luck roasting chickens, so I wasn’t sure how I’d do with a turkey.
I mentioned it to my mother and she said my father would love to cook it.
So on Mother’s Day I delivered a frozen turkey to my parents’ house and the next Sunday we dined at my parents’ house. It was delicious.
That night when I called to thank my mother, she said, “You should have come over earlier so you could have learned how to cook a turkey.”
“Actually,” I said, “I know how to cook a turkey now. You drop it off at someone’s house to thaw and show up a week later for dinner.”
No basting required.
Today was field day at Leo’s school. I was excited to volunteer because even though last year I felt like a failure as a volunteer, I love how excited our first grader is to see me at his school. I wonder how long he will look forward to Mama's being there.
I helped with the snack. I chopped up watermelon and kept a close eye on the freezie pops—which Leo says were one of the best parts of the day. As someone who never liked field day as a student myself, I can appreciate that.
I was not the best watermelon chopper there—one of the volunteers produced these gorgeous perfectly shaped pieces—but I am fairly sure they’ll have me back again next year.
Afterward Leo and I went out to lunch at a bagel place. He ordered one of his favorites: a chocolate chip bagel with smoked salmon on it, a bag of crab chips, and an apple juice.
Salty, spicy, and sweet. That’s our boy.
This past week was full of all kinds of culinary excitement as we made a trip to the St. Pius X Carnival and also to a hibachi grill, where the chef made an onion volcano and tossed shrimp into people’s mouths—though not ours since we aren’t that coordinated.
But the most exciting culinary moment of the week happened one morning at breakfast when I handed the boys ladles to eat their chicken noodle soup.
Who needs a flamethrower in the kitchen when you have ladles on hand?
May 22, 2015 03:53
By Rita Buettner
As Daniel and I walked into Leo’s after-school program to pick him up, I could hear a band warming up in the next room. I just wanted to find Leo and his backpack and get home.
“Mama,” he said, “there’s a concert tonight at school, and I want to go.”
“We saw it today and it’s so funny. They say something about underwear and then this boy talks about fish. And the band plays Spider-Man and it sounds like the Spider-Man song!”
My son was asking to go to a concert? My son? And he really, really wanted to go? I spotted a mom I knew and asked her what time it started.
We had about 20 minutes.
John was working late, so the boys and I were on our own. I had planned on a fairly quiet evening at home, but we could just barely pull this concert off. Maybe.
“OK,” I said. “We can go. We will have to run and get dinner very fast and you will have to eat in the car. Then we will go to the concert. We will have to sit still and not make too much noise and then we will go home at the end.”
Leo agreed to everything. Daniel was a little less enthusiastic—he wanted to go home to see his caterpillars, which were coming in today’s mail—but the concert was a one-night feature. Besides, it was educational. And it’s good to be spontaneous once in a while.
Minutes later we had all downed dinner and were walking through the school door. We found seats and the performance began. It was everything Leo had said it would be. He and his little brother were riveted through the band performance. Then the spring musical started and Leo laughed and laughed and laughed at the funny lines.
Even with all the proud parents and grandparents who were there, the actors could not have had a more appreciative member of the audience.
Daniel started getting wriggly and impatient toward the end, and I may or may not have bribed him by promising him he could have a sugar cube at home.
“Fifty-five sugar cubes,” he whispered.
That might have been the funniest line of the night—well, except for that joke about the fish.
I'm so glad Leo wanted to change our plans.
May 20, 2015 11:44
By Rita Buettner
I find conversations about personality so fascinating. Trying to understand people’s personalities—particularly our children’s—excites me. So when I found out that Connie Rossini, who blogs at Contemplative Homeschool, was publishing a book about raising a choleric child, I was very curious about it.
Although neither of our children falls into this category, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Connie’s book and considering some of the concrete suggestions she has for integrating faith into your family’s life.
Connie kindly agreed to answer some questions about her book, which was published May 15.
How would you briefly explain to someone how to identify whether their child is a choleric child?
Ask yourself two questions:
1) Does my child react quickly to stimuli, or does he take time to reflect before reacting?
2) Do his impressions last, or does he quickly put them behind him?
A choleric reacts quickly and holds onto his impressions.
What are a choleric child’s greatest challenges and strengths?
Spiritually speaking, his greatest challenge is pride, followed by quick anger. He struggles with being compassionate. The choleric needs to feel in control of his life and agenda. When he doesn't, he gets depressed, argumentative, or violent. He often manipulates others into doing what he wants by the force of his personality. Power struggles can be a constant challenge with a choleric child.
His greatest strength is his determination, followed by his noble ideals. If he chooses worthwhile goals, he can easily succeed in reaching them. He never gives up. He loves a challenge and always tries to outdo others—especially siblings.
How has recognizing your children’s different temperaments helped you in your parenting?
Homeschoolers often try to individualize their children's education. I am now able to individualize their character studies too. Understanding my kids' temperaments helps me see what underlies their behavior, good or bad, so I can help them grow up as God intended, rather than trying to make them a miniature copy of myself. Now I am much less likely to ascribe bad motives to my children. I have more sympathy for their outlook. In some ways, learning about the temperaments is like visiting a foreign country. There are whole different ways of seeing the world that we may never have thought of before. It's really eye-opening. On a more practical level, I am finding parenting tactics that actually work!
How has recognizing the different temperaments helped you in your own self-awareness—both as a parent and as a spouse, perhaps?
The more I talk to other parents, the more I see how different parents are too! Not every parent is bothered by the same things that bother me. I am constantly learning more about myself and why I act the way I do. Just yesterday I was able to help my husband understand his boss, who shares my temperament. I better understand my parents and why they parent the way they do. I don't expect unrealistic things of my husband. Every relationship can be enriched through knowledge of the temperaments.
How has that helped you in your faith journey?
After writing Trusting God with St. Therese, I began to see that many of my trust issues stemmed from my strong secondary temperament, which is melancholic. I thought, if God can help me overcome my melancholic challenges in such a powerful way, why not my phlegmatic challenges too, since I am primarily phlegmatic? That's what I'm working on now. I have a constant difficulty doing my duty--especially housework. But faithfulness to that duty should form the basis of my vocation as wife and mother. If I want to be holy, I must be obedient here. That's my focus this year. I've made a few small advances, but I have a long way to go.
I loved how you said, “St. Paul was probably a choleric-melancholic. He was determined, principled, and hard working.” And then you said, “St. Therese’s little way of spiritual childhood may seem too emotion-based to him, although Therese herself was probably melancholic.” It’s so wonderful to think how people of all different temperaments can achieve heaven. Did you find it helpful to think of the saints and their temperaments when approaching your children with their different temperaments?
I think the saints who share each child's temperament can be great role models for them. They show us how each temperament can glorify God. I find I can understand a saint's spirituality much better once I understand his or her temperament. And I know that holiness is possible for each of my children, but it will look different for each.
“We are a team working together. And there is nothing a choleric likes better than to know someone is on his team! Yes, it is his team, not mine. He benefits. He aims at becoming the best he can be. And though I am a coach, he is the star player. He is in control. Only he can make the decision to change. Sometimes I make suggestions, and he rejects them. I don’t insist. Instead, I ask if he can think of a better way to achieve the same end.” I love this parenting approach. Is that something you try only with your choleric child or with all your children?
I do ask for input from each of my children. We meet once a week one on one to discuss temperament issues and I try to give them as much control of this area as I can. But some temperaments like to have clearer direction from those in authority. Phlegmatics like to know the rules so that they don't disrupt things. Melancholics like to know the rules because they want to live out the ideal. So those temperaments won't be as concerned with setting their own standards.
I enjoyed your mantra for your choleric child: “If you don’t think before you speak, you’ll have to think after you speak.” I would think that would work well with children of all temperaments—and maybe some adults too.
It certainly would work well for sanguines too. Introverts naturally tend to think before speaking, but we all make mistakes in this area sometimes. Extroverts need to consciously work on being more reflective.
How did you come upon the Examen as an effective prayer to pray with children? How young were your children when you started praying it with them?
Actually, even though I include that in my book, it's one of the areas I haven't worked on with my own kids yet. I spent 17 years as a Discalced Carmelite, so I have naturally focused on more Carmelite prayer methods with them. We started doing guided meditations as part of our homeschool curriculum in kindergarten. My older two (11 and almost 13) are just beginning to do their own meditations on Sacred Scripture. I want to give them some more practice in that before I introduce the Examen Prayer as an alternative. I would like them to be able to choose from various forms of mental prayer, but I don't want to overwhelm them with too much. (That's probably my phlegmatic temperament working, because I get overwhelmed easily. My choleric child might be able to handle it just fine.)
You offer a number of lesson plans and concrete ideas for integrating spirituality into a child’s life. Are those pieces you have used in your own family and developed over time?
Yes, 90 percent of the suggestions in my book we have actually tried in our home. The rest I hope to do soon.
Why did you decide to write the book? Is this the book you were looking for years ago when you first started to recognize that you were raising a choleric child?
Absolutely! This is the book I would have loved to have 5 or 7 years ago. It would have saved me lots of frustration. I used to really worry about my choleric son. Now I'm very hopeful for his future.
What are you hoping your readers will take from the book?
I think the quote about being a team sums up my book. So often the choleric and his parents see each other as adversaries, when they should be partners. I want to relieve some of parents' fears and give them specific skills to overcome power struggles and to set their child on the road toward holiness. I want their choleric children to be aware of their God-given strengths and weaknesses, so that when they reach adulthood they can be the person God designed them to be.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers about your book?
This is the first in what I hope to be a four-part series. So if your readers have children of different temperaments, they can expect to receive some help soon too.
How can my readers find the book?
May 17, 2015 10:25
By Rita Buettner
It’s 5-15-15! As a special treat, today you can read these takes backwards or forwards and they will make just as much sense either way!
If the weather cooperates this weekend, we’re having a community yard sale. Our boys have decided to set up a lemonade stand and sell lemonade, orange juice, iced tea, and cookies. We don’t do anything halfway here. I think I’ve talked them into just selling lemonade and cookies, but I have a feeling I am responsible for the cookie baking.
When life gives you a cookie-baking assignment from your entrepreneurial sons, you’d better make cookies. Or...well...how terrible would it be to buy some from the store instead?
I thought it was so cute that Daniel had made a caterpillar his pet until John went online and identified it as a gypsy moth. Gypsy moths are the ones that make the bags on the tree branches and kill the trees. Now I don’t know what to root for. I don’t want to set this caterpillar free where it can wreak havoc on trees. My 5-year-old adores it. What are my moral responsibilities?
In better news, we have a family of baby bunnies living under our deck. I haven’t managed to get a decent photo of them, so I’m treating you to a picture of our boys looking at a bunny in my parents’ yard. If you look really closely, you can imagine that there’s a bunny there—and there is. But he's way back there.
The best part about having the baby bunnies is seeing them nibbling on our grass every morning.
The next best part is how the boys try to persuade the bunnies to come out.
“We’re going inside now,” one will say loudly. “We won’t be out here. So you can come out now, little bunnies!”
Somehow it never works. I think the bunnies know they aren’t being entirely honest. But it’s still cute.
How do bedtime prayers go at your house? Some days I think we should pray when everyone is less tired and more focused. But for now we pray together and we encourage the children to list a few intentions, either things they are thankful for or requests for blessings for people they know.
Every once in a while we get a long list going.
The other night Daniel said, “God, bless all the plants and trees and the animals, and all the people on earth, and all the people in heaven, and the aliens too, even the bad aliens because we hope they can be good.”
Not too shabby. He hit on redemption, the communion of saints, and extraterrestrial life—all in one prayer.
The boys grew out of their bicycles—yes, both at the same time—so we had to get new ones. They are determined to learn to ride them without training wheels. I am mostly hoping they learn not to steer into each other and to face forward when driving forward. I have a feeling they’ll lose the training wheels first.
Watching children learn to ride bikes can be nerve wracking, but our little bicycle riders are also so full of joy. I do love to watch them ride—especially when they aren’t falling off.
We’re on a Scrabble kick here, and I’m just fine with that. Scrabble is one of my favorite games, and I’m excited to share it with Leo now that he is learning to spell longer and longer words. We aren’t playing by any rules, though, because it is more fun just to see what we can spell.
Then Leo hit three triple word scores with one phrase.
I really don’t know what to do when someone lands 702 points in one turn. Let’s just say I am a very gracious loser.
One game we are playing by the rules is flashlight tag. Have you played? You play outside in the dark and the tagger has a flashlight. When you get hit by the light, you are the tagger. We played for a while last night, and it was terrific.
For Mother's Day John and the boys took me to pick out a hanging basket and a crab whirligig.
It was a lovely day.
I asked Leo whether I could share a picture of the Mother’s Day card he made for me. He said I could post the inside of the card if I shared the cover first. But the cover has a drawing of an Angry Birds Transformer who is vomiting, among other things. So I’ll spare you that. And that means I can’t show you the whole inside where he answers questions about why God made mothers. So I’ll just tell you one of my favorite parts.
One line says, “What ingredients are mothers made of?” and his answer is, “Cells.”
That’s our boy.
This sketch of Leo was created by one of his teachers. Isn’t she talented?
Read more quick takes at our wonderful hostess Kelly’s blog.
May 14, 2015 11:47
By Rita Buettner
As I walked onto the preschool playground Friday afternoon, I could see that Daniel had something to show me.
He came running over with a red bucket.
“Mama!” he yelled. “Come see my baby caterpillar!”
I oohed and aahed over it, of course. I had to pet it, which I didn't really mind, but I also had to pet the worms his friend had found, which I did mind.
“He’s very excited about his caterpillar,” Daniel’s teacher said. “He wants to bring it home. Is that OK?”
I looked down at Daniel and the caterpillar in the bucket. How could I say no? Why would I?
His teacher found a cup to hold it and we were on our way.
I tried to look online to figure out what kind it is, but the photos of lots and lots of caterpillars were making my skin crawl, so I gave up.
As we drove home, Daniel talked about how the caterpillar would sleep by his bed and eat leaves and what else do you think he eats, Mama, because I don’t know, and I’m sure he’s hungry and oh he’s just so, so cute, and I can't wait to show him to Baba and don’t you think he’s so cute?
The caterpillar is very cute. That’s why his name is Cutie—or was last time I checked. None of Daniel’s animals keep the same name for long. And the photos really are not doing his new pet justice, though I do think the caterpillar is cutest when Daniel is telling you how cute he is.
He (she?) is living in a little bug cage on our back porch. The boys are feeding it leaves and talking to it and wondering what else they can do to make it comfortable.
I have been advocating for freedom, but Daniel desperately wants to see the caterpillar become a moth or a butterfly. I’m wondering how quickly that might happen. Probably not soon enough.
For now, though, Daniel is just so proud to be a pet owner.
And, considering that he had been hoping for a cheetah or an owl, I think Mama and Baba got off pretty easy this time.
May 09, 2015 11:33
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By Rita Buettner