Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Day Eli's Heart Broke -- and Mine Melted

I don't pretend to be this awesome mother. I know I am not. I know that I daily fail my children. And I'm not saying (writing) that for you to say "Oh, are a great mom." Because, Inter-webs, I'm not. My kids are the best gift I've ever been allowed to have. And at night, when I check on Eli after he's fallen asleep (when he's on his best behavior), I pray that tomorrow, I won't lose my temper or my patience. I pray that the computer doesn't take attention from me that should be for him. I pray that I can show him Jesus in how I love him. Because that's why I'm a mom -- so this precious young boy will grow up to show others how awesome his Savior is and personify love to others.

The other day, Eli said something to me that encouraged me as his mother...I mean after he pushed a child and made him cry...wait for it.

So, we were at a McDonald's play land (don't worry, snobs...we just had ice cream as a mid-afternoon snack) and Eli was playing in the super sanitary play structure (where healthy immune systems go to die), along with his cousins and another little boy (who we didn't know). At one point, stranger boy apparently set up camp at the entrance to the slide, thus preventing any one else from going down the slide. I hear Eli politely ask stranger boy to move so that he and his cousins could go down the slide. And ask again...and again. Each time a little (lot) less politely. Finally, the boy emerged crying. Followed by Eli avoiding eye contact.

Turns out Eli pushed the little boy down the slide so that he would stop blocking the entrance. I don't think Eli pushed him hard, but the boy was crying and it was due to my son. So, I told Eli to apologize, I apologized, gave Eli a stern lecture on not pushing/hitting and sat him in time out. The grandmother of the boy told me that stranger boy was overly tired and it wasn't a big deal, but I was still disappointed.

As we were we leaving, and I was buckling Eli into his seat, he looked at me and very seriously said, "Mom, my heart is just breaking. It really hurts."

Ohmygosh...he's having a heart quickly can I drive him to the hospital? (I irrationally thought).

I asked him why, to which he replied, "My heart is breaking, which means Jesus is probably hurting, too. And if Jesus is hurting, that means God is hurting. I didn't mean to hurt that boy's feelings. My heart is hurting because I hurt his feelings."

And then, as my heart was melting on to the McDonald's parking lot, he said, "I guess it's a good thing Jesus forgives us when we do things like that."

I gave him a kiss and told him he had a good heart and that both Jesus and I were proud of him.

I hope that was some sort of parenting win (through the grace of God).

I know that I am so in love with that kid.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Last week my ever generous grandfather flew us all out to California to celebrate his 85th birthday with him. His wife asked if I would say something at his party. After staring at a blank computer screen for what seemed like eleventy thousand years and rummaging through the spiderwebbed attic of my brain for something deserving of how much my grandpa means to me, I came up with this. It, by no means, does justice to the wonderful man that is my grandfather, but I hope it conveys at least a glimmer of how wonderful I think this man is.

I remember reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I was little. And in that book, Charlie’s grandparents lived with him. They took up residency in a bed in Charlie’s living room. I remember thinking how cool it would have been to have my grandparents living in my house like Charlie did. I mean not in a bed all hours of the day…that would have been awkward when my parents had company over. But you know, like they had their own room in my house. I could come home from school and there they’d be. My grandma would be cooking or trimming her rose bushes and my grandpa would be watching his 49ers or fixing something or playing the organ that would have also been in my house if they lived there, because my grandpa could play the organ like no one’s business. Alas, Roald Dahl did not write my life and they never did live with us.  But, I consider the relationship I had with them a very close second to what Charlie experienced. 

My grandparents were such an integral part of my life. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood involve them. Holidays, summer vacations, band concerts, plays, my engagement, my wedding, my baby news. I knew I could count on them always. They were there cheering me on and celebrating with me.

And now, I consider it an honor and a blessing to be here today to help cheer on and celebrate with my grandpa.  My grandfather has been a steadfast presence in life. His generosity knows no bounds. He possesses strength and calm that both comforts and encourages. He is knowledgeable and wise. He has an air of cool and suave that rivals any member of the rat pack.  He challenged me to be fearless. He taught me to dive into the deep end (both literally and metaphorically), he let me drive his car when I was still a few years from 16. He took me on adventures through beautiful country. He played dolls with me (and even made me my own, gorgeous doll house), he read with me, he listened with a smile as I played, what I can only assume, a painful rendition of hot cross buns on my flute. He encouraged me to sing.  He took pictures and video and laughed until he cried with me. He is a giant among men, and I am humbled that I get to share in who he is…that I get to be his granddaughter.

I’ll end with this. My husband always pokes fun at me because I am constantly taking pictures. He tells me that I should enjoy the moment and not worry about being behind a camera trying to capture it to remember later. So, I try to take memory snapshots.  These are moments so precious that I know a camera would not be able to truly capture the pure emotion of the experience.  One of these moments was when my grandpa held my son (his great grandson) for the first time. It was a bittersweet moment,  as my grandma was not able to share in the experience. But sitting next to my grandpa as he held my son is a moment in my life I will carry with me until I take my last breath. It was a moment of pure happiness during an otherwise tragic time in the Rick family.  It was the moment I looked at my grandfather’s quiet strength and resilience and knew that we would carry on and continue to take adventures and make memories.

So today, I wish you a happy 85 years, my dear grandpa. Thank you for being an ever present member of my cheering section.  You are more wonderful to me than you’ll ever know, and I love you beyond forever. Happy birthday. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Whitney Elizabeth - Year Two

"and though she be but little
she is fierce."

First off, let me say that I know you will be referencing this letter twenty years from now as you discuss with your therapist your mother's penchant for letting you down. Your brother had a letter every month from mom, but Whitney was forgotten, cast aside, forced to eat scraps whilst made to sleep in the ashes by the fire to keep warm at night. 

Okay. So I dropped the ball on your letters. But let me assuage your feelings of neglect. 1.) The amount of guilt I carry with me because of this causes me a diagnosable amount of anxiety, so there's that; 2.) I'm going to tell you something that I have revealed to no one: I still don't know how to juggle two kids. It's been two years and I still scream into a pillow weekly; so when I DO get a moment to myself, I binge watch Netflix to give my brain a break; 3) You don't sleep well. I'm sorry...that's a gross understatement...YOU ARE THE MOST HORRIBLE SLEEPER EVER TO LIVE...EVER!!! Your night time regimen rivals what I assume Beyonce goes through every night. You.are.a.diva. I am required to rock you for a MINIMUM of 30 minutes, and that's a good night. Then, when I do put you down in your crib, you wake up and cry unless I feign sleeping next to you on the blow up mattress that has taken up permanent residency in your room. Then, when I'm sure you've crossed into REM sleep, I sneak, Catherine Zeta-Jones-from-Entrapment-style out of your room. "Mom, just let me cry." Okay. Well, that goes on for several hours and usually involves you pooping your pants. So, my sleep has been robbed by both my obsession with teenage dramas on Netflix and your inability to sleep well. I know. I know. Your poor sleep patterns are a direct result of poor parenting. But, I'm tired. 

Anyway. I'm sorry, my precious girl. The thought that you may someday look back at letters I've written you and feel slighted makes my heart ache.  Because, you are precious to me. 

So, your second year.

I know I have said this about your brother, but one of my biggest life worries is that I would have serious children. And when you first meet people or are in a crowd, you are serious. I mean, you gotta keep your guard up...we do live in Jackson. But when you're comfortable, you are a regular Gilda Radner. You're a master of physical comedy. You go all out. You fall down, you use props, there's usually a costume change, you add music, there are silly voices. You are a master. And I applaud it.  I laugh constantly with you, and I hope that you nurture this ability to laugh and have fun. This world is a serious place and it can depress a gal. Don't ever stop laughing (eesh...sounds like a super lame country song). Also, don't listen to country music.

We've had some bumps and scrapes this year...all of which seemed to happen in one month. In May, you got two fingers slammed in a door, you ate Vicks Vapo Rub, and you fell into a stagnant pond after which I was convinced you had contracted a rare, water-borne bacteria that would leave you dead in a week. It did not happen. And I don't want you to think that I just let you wander around by yourself. "What, Whitney? Oh, she's in the basement playing with matches and turpentine." None of that. I was literally feet away from you when all three of these events occurred. Finger in door, I went into the other room to get my keys. BAM! Vicks Vapo Rub, I walked into your brother's room to grab something for you. BAM! Pond, I was millimeters away from you. BAM! I know you are going to break a bone before you get into kindergarten...and then the guilt will multiply exponentially.

On the lighter side, you love to dance. It is the most wonderful thing to watch...ever. Better than that sea lion who has rhythm. You bounce up and down, sway side to side, put your hands in the air, there are props. No genre of music is beneath you. Pop, R&B, Christian Rap...all is fair game. And you're not shy about it. Walking around the grocery store listening to smooth jazz. You don't care. A lot of times there doesn't even have to be music; you'll just start dancing. It is an immediate mood booster. 

You also are a definite nurturer. I'm amazed by how you and your brother have gravitated toward things that seem to represent your gender. Honestly, I haven't been shoving dolls in your face and making you watch Toddler in Tiaras (you totally flip to TLC on your own). You've had ample access to cars and trucks and dry wall...manly things. But you have preferred pushing your doll around in a stroller and "changing her diaper" and carrying her around. You like shoes and pink and purses and nail polish. You are a lover. You hug, you snuggle, you give kisses. You are not shy with your affection (unless I take your "pappy" (pacifier) away, then you're ready to throw down). It does my soul good to watch you want to take care of and comfort people. 

You are an incredible human being. You're fearless (unless I leave you in church nursery); you're gentle; you're hilarious; you're assertive; you're smart; you're beautiful. I pray that you will continue to grow into a confident, capable, loving, independent young woman. I pray that you will be centered on Christ in every aspect of your life. You are special, my love. I count being your (and Eli's) mama as my life's greatest achievement. I will never be able to tell you enough how much I love you. 

Happy two years, my Whitney Elizabeth. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Whitney Parker -- A Year in Pictures

October 2012
  • First Birthday
  • Walking 
  • Princess Leia for Halloween
  • Still nursing

November 2012

  • Endured torture of 10 ... TEN teeth coming in during one month
  • Nursing has slowed way down to occasional snacking
  • No more baby food

December 2013

  • Would live on scrambled eggs and milk
  • Nursing has stopped
  • Says "Mama" and "Dada"

January 2013

  • Playing on your own
  • Obsessed with your pacifier
  • Stopped sleeping through the night
February 2013
  • Taken on role as resident comedian
  • Can sign "more" and "all done"
  • Still not sleeping through the night - Air mattress has taken up permanent residency in your room for mom or dad

March 2013

  • Exercises with Mommy
  • Obsessed with shoes
  • Still not sleeping through the night
April 2013
  • Wearing a cape pretty much every day
  • Obsessed with Eli (who also wears a cape)
  • Met your cousin Livia for first time
  • Still not sleeping through the night
  • Love being outside
May 2013
  • Love getting in the dirt
  • Ate Vicks Vapo Rub (you were fine)
  • First trip to Urgent Care for potential broken finger after getting it slammed in the door.
  • Fell into a stagnant, gross pond at the park...mother's anxiety level reaching breaking points
  • Hate being left in nursery at church
  • Still not sleeping through the night

(yeah I added two...because you're adorable)

June 2013
  • Love accessorizing 
  • Love being in the water
  • Starting to become sassy
  • Talking a lot more
  • Daddy took a new job, which means we get to see him more
  • Still not sleeping through the night

July 2013
  • Favorite word is "No"
  • Fireworks -- nailed it...loved it!
  • Love being outside to the point of annoyance
  • Fell in love with Lucy (grandma and papa's dog) while she stayed with us
  • Face painted with Jello and then dropped a deuce in after-jello tubby
  • Still not...wait for it...sleeping through the night

August 2013
  • Loves to dance -- often when there is no music
  • Loves taking care of your "babies" doll; cannot go to sleep without your baby
  • Becoming more defiant/temper tantrumy 
  • Still not sleeping through the night
September 2013
  • Two...TWO trips to Grandma and Papa Parkers' house
  • First night away from mommy 
  • Don't want anyone BUT mommy
  • Hair's long enough to do pigtails!!!
  • Still not sleeping through the night

October 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Decade in the Making

All kings, and all their favourites,
All glory of honours, beauties, wits,
The Sun itself, which makes times, as they pass,
Is elder by a year, now, than it was 
When thou and I first one another saw:
All other things to their destruction draw,
Only our love hath no decay;
This, no tomorrow hath, nor yesterday,
Running it never runs from us away,
But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.
                       John Donne

Dear Ben,

As you know, I love me a good celebration. Birthdays, anniversaries, the end of an iconic TV series. And a milestone celebration...the bigger, the better is my motto. So, here we are at the 10 year anniversary of the day of our betrothal. 10 YEARS!!! A DECADE!!  To that end, I have been trying to come up with some momentous gesture to demonstrate my love, like holding a boombox over my head outside our bedroom window (but you wouldn't get that reference because you're not a sucker for a good 80's romcom).  Then I thought about hiring a sky writer.  But I make $0.00 a year and those fools are expensive.  I don't scrapbook (you're welcome). And I could try to quilt your likeness, but I'm pretty sure someone would end up dead. So, I'll write something about you...about us.

I don't know if you remember this, but the day we met is forever etched in my memory.  It was the meeting that RomComs are made of. And not RomComs starring now-disgraced former child actors, but the RomComs that star an academy award winning actress who's going back to her roots for her fans. I was rocking an androgynous hairdo and probably a pair of overalls that I thought were in fashion but were, in harsh reality, absolutely not. I was with a fellow incoming freshman (who by all rights, should have a Barbie made in her likeness) and you (a sophomore) were with a female friend (who was equally gorgeous).  You both were doing some sort of welcoming thing for student development at our now beloved alma mater.  Anyway, your friend was actually a mutual friend of mine, as well.  She introduced you to me and my beauty queen friend. I thought you were muy guapo, however I think you thought I was confused about my sexuality.  You seemed as interested in me as one would be about an imminent colonoscopy. I quickly determined you to be a conceited, beautiful man and wrote you off as someone with whom I had NOTHING in common. I mean if you could not appreciate my Lillith Fair do, then you were obviously out of the loop.  Me and my overalls would just converse it up with someone else. Preferably, a Sarah McLachlan fan.

A few weeks later another mutual friend of ours stopped me on my way to class to inform me that she knew the man I was going to marry. Intrigued, I asked if his name rhymed with Shmohn Shmamos. She revealed that my destined groom was  you. Whilst I still thought you to be a beautiful, evenly tanned individual, your initial dismissal of me earned you a thumbs down. Obviously a defense mechanism, right?

Our paths crossed from time to time as we lived in the same dorm building; however we exchanged nary a glance. I did secretly send God props for creating such a beautiful specimen of a man, but I would not even say hi to you. Take that, person who didn't know I existed.

Then, our paths were FORCED to cross every Monday and Wednesday morning the second semester of my freshman year, as I was asked to join our school's chapel band as a back up singer (eat your heart out, one of the Supremes). A band of which you were also a the suave acoustic guitar player.

Again, I feigned no knowledge of your existence and cursed the heavens when I walked out of practice one day to see you getting in your sporty looking car. Gah! Good looks, musically gifted and good taste in cars?

I prayed you had a flatulence problem or backne.

Enter sophomore year (mine) and you and I started to become friends...I think it was around our Death, Grief and Loss class? You know, something uplifting. I started to think of you as a (gasp) friend. We were both dating other people (your girlfriend looked like a print ad for Revlon), so, I really had no romantic notions about you. I still firmly believed you didn't find me attractive, and whilst I still thought you were God's gift to firm jawlines, I believed I wasn't your type.

Enter my junior year. December 2001, I received a call from your friend, Ben asking me out on a date for you. He said he was setting you up on a blind date and he thought I would be a good fit for you. I giddily agreed to meet up with you at his house. The whole walk over, I imagined the look of disappointment on your face when you realized that Ben picked me for you. When you opened the door, I think I said something like, "sorry." But you seemed happy to see me. "He must be self-medicating," I thought. But you were happy to see me, and we had a great time.

 And we went out again and again and again and then I fell in love with you.

In fact, I fell in love with the following things about you (in no particular order):

I fell in love with your perfect smile; I fell in love with your sense of humor; I fell in love with how much you loved Jesus and your family; I fell in love with how smart you were; I fell in love with your fart jokes; I fell in love with your eyelashes that you would later try to convince me earned you a role in a commercial for mascara; I fell in love with your mellifluous voice; I fell in love with your guitar skills; I fell in love with how you made it a point to visit your grandparents at least once a week; I fell in love with your forever love of the Detroit Tigers; I fell in love with your weird taste in Ernest movies; I fell in love with your penchant for adult contemporary Christian music.

And you fell in love with me, too...ahthankyouvevymuch.

Enter my senior year.  You were working for a small Bible college in Grand Rapids and we were weathering the somewhat long distance relationship.

And then Jesus smiled on me when on November 17, 2002, you popped a c.d. into our friends' "new stereo," and I heard your voice singing to a melody you wrote asking me to be your wife. I think I said something like, "shut up." I'm so eloquent.

And I knew, I was the luckiest.

August 9, 2003, I met you at the end of an aisle, held your hand and made the most important promise of my life.

And here we are ten years later. And the list of things I love about you has grown exponentially. I could write all of them down, but it may break the Internets.

But I will say this -- I love that here we are ten years later and you still make me want to be a better version of myself. Ten years later and I have discovered that the man I married is the MOST incredible father to our beautiful children. Ten years later and you still make me laugh. Ten years later and you're the person I can't wait to see.

We have been through a lot, including loss, new jobs, new homes, pregnancy hormones, pregnancy gas, the Twilight series, new friends, clogged toilets, SEVERAL cars, disappointment, my penchant for big sunglasses, illness, two Detroit Tigers World Series appearances, trips to various destinations, breakdowns over cheeseburgers, the births of our children, my loss of bladder control, and so much more.

And I cannot wait to add to our decades long story.

You are my favorite, and I will love you beyond forever.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sometimes I Write Stuff

So, when people haven't written on their blogs in some time they feel the need to apologize and make promises that a myriad of brilliant posts are forthcoming (and you know what, Thoreau used the preposition "of" after, you grammar snobs can just untwist your underpanties). However, by this point no one is reading this blog anymore. So, sorry, Internets...I'm sure you've missed my brilliance.  What? You couldn't care less? That's cool.

So, my point in making a writing re-commitment is three-fold (that's a fancy way of saying there are three reasons).
1.) I miss it.
2.) The nagging thought that one day, most of Whitney's therapy sessions will deal with the fact that her horrible mother wrote posts to her treasured older brother, but hers are sparse and isn't that just HORRIBLE? What kind of mother would show favoritism that way. She's totally going to buy a motorcycle just to spite me AND listen to smooth jazz.
3.) I'm not good at much, and I think I am a decent writer. And if you disagree, then go away, fool.

So, why the long absence you didn't ask? Well, navigating the terrain of Mom With Two Kids has been challenging. I've actually had a REALLY hard time with it. I have had a hard time with learning to manage my time and sleep training my youngest and making sure our house doesn't get condemned due to all the grossness and our archaic computer that moved with the speed and agility of a dead sloth and not working outside the home and realizing I have no marketable skills and then came Pinterest with all it's annoying reminders that I'm, in fact, not creative nor a DIYer and there's the knowledge that Beyonce and I will probably never meet.

I wish I knew Beyonce.

So, I haven't wanted to write because it would have ended up being all dark and whiny and Thoreau-y (two Thoreau mentions in one post...I'm so smart). Also, by the time I DO get Whitney to sleep at night, all I want to do is eat carbs and watch reruns of witty comedies.

But, I've read a couple books lately that have inspired me to write.  Because, honestly, I'm not making a bookcase out of some old milk crates I found down at the docks, thankyouverymuchPinterest, and I just finished watching all three seasons of Arrested Development on Netflix and I'm trying not to eat after 9:00...okay 10:00...okay 11:00 and we have a new fancy computational machine AND I read this recently:

I think God gives us each a gift or two so that we have something special to offer others. But sometimes we make the mistake of assuming the things we're good at are common to everyone. ... I think sometimes we get confused and believe that our gift must bring us money or success or fame...The only thing a gift needs to do is bring you joy. ... We are each an island, but he [God] gives us gifts to use as bridges into each other's lives.  -Glennon Doyle Melton

I've tried to embrace baking and crafting and athletic endeavors (stop laughing) and DIYing and basket weaving; but, Internets, these things do not bring me joy (I'm looking at you, basket weaving). And quite frankly, they usually cause me to break out in a severe case of the back sweats (I'm looking at you, hot glue gun that I forgot to unplug that one time.) I enjoy writing. I enjoy writing humorously. Maybe I'll make a bridge to someone else through my funny writing, because I'm definitely not doing it sitting on my bony bum watching reruns of Golden Girls (well done, TV Land). 

And maybe Beyonce will be on the other end of that bridge.