Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quote of the day: I love

The other night, sitting around the little Tinkerbell dinner table, seated on her tiny Tinkerbell chair, my mini-Melía was singing. The song was simple--almost too simple to write about.

"I love Brielle! I love Ashlyn! I love Mommy! I love Daddy!"

But if that's not worth writing about, what is?
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Quote of the day - Everything Valentime's

Ashlyn: We're going to celebrate Valentime's Day! Are people going to come over to our house? We need everything Valentime's day!

(I think she thinks this is a majorly celebrated holiday like Christmas. We do celebrate, but to her chagrin, there are no pipers piping or pear-tree-perching partridges here on any sort of twelve days of Valentine's.)

Daddy: You know what we need on Valentine's Day, Ashie?

Ashlyn: What?

Daddy: (attacking her cheeks) Kisses and hugs!

Ashlyn: (with wriggling protest) No, we need other sharing. And caring. And not fighting.

Blessing be upon whomever brainwashed this into her--even if it was the Care Bears. The kisses and hugs are nice, but this Valentine's day, what we need even more are the love gifts that my Ashie asked for--in this Bennie family, and in the human family.

So here's to having "everything Valentime's" that we need. Sharing, caring and peace to all of you!


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Quote of the day - But we can't see him

It snowed a ton last night. It was beautiful enough that after church, the girls violated their tradition of wailing in protest when our answer to, "Where are we going now?" is "Home."

(It's a happy home, really. Mostly. It's just that, not unlike their Mommy, they really like to go and do. And go and do some more.)

But "home" was an acceptable answer today, because there was half a foot of snow to come home to, the first since Christmas Day. It took an hour to track down the snow suits, get the mittens on, find Ashlyn's left boot, take them both off and put socks on, and get out in the fluffy white stuff.

We made a snow man, sat and dined on snow from the porch table, buried a doll inside the snow man to hide it from a bloodthirsty King Herod, and then buried the twins themselves. They stayed buried up to the neck until Ashlyn assured us that Herod was no longer a threat. "Jesus killed him," she said.

"No, Jesus did not kill Herod," I told her.

"Why?" asked Melía.

"That's not how Jesus rolls. He doesn't do the killing thing. He does the loving thing."

"Oh," said Melía.

Maybe it was connected or maybe it wasn't, but some time later, Ashlyn observed this:

"Jesus can see us, but we can't see him. That's magic."

"That's right, Ashie," I said.

"That's not magic," Brielle said. She is quite the demythologizer these days.

But magic or no, Ashlyn was on to something significant, I think. I find fault with myself or with God for my failure to see what I think my eyes of faith should. Maybe it's enough just to be seen.

When you tell my dad, "It's good to see you," he's going to tell you, "It's good to be seen." And he's right.

What if I settled down comfortably into the knowledge that whatever I see or don't see, God sees me? What if that paradox moved from my pile of annoyances to my temple of cherished mysteries?

What if it is magic?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quote of the day - No you're not

She'd had pancakes sprinkled with chocolate chips for breakfast. And now she was laying into the continental breakfast the church had served up: hot chocolate and chocolate doughnuts. (Ever eager to contribute to a child's joy in the Lord--and to parents' prayer life--those church folk are.)

Both breakfasts had left her with chocolate on her delightfully round cheeks, which are tempting enough to chomp into even without such sweet frosting.

"You have chocolate cheeks, Ashie Lulu! I'm going to BITE those chocolate cheeks!" I growled with ferocity and opened my mouth like a lion.

"No, you're not." She regarded my gaping jaw placidly. "Because you love me."

Alas, she's right.

But love or no love, those Ashie-cheeks can be so dang tempting.....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quote of the day - I already am

Ashlyn sings and dances for an audience of none.



This Saturday morning she was singing for no one in particular, there in the echo-friendly entryway of the house our friends were brave enough to share with us for a night.

The tune was epic in length, but spinning over the tile beside the staircase, she flung out this phrase that stuck to my heart:

"Jesus, help me to be a princess. Even though I already am...."

That's what I'm talking about.

Royalty by birth, with humility enough to ask for what she boldly knows is already hers. Guts enough to seek help being her truest, her princess self. Hunger for majesty, thirst for nobility.

And yet satisfied.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Quote of the day - It's a train station

About three days a week, I run out of my office as the bell rings, hoping to beat my 3,000 students out of the parking lot so I can pick up Brielle before 3:00, when I have to start paying for after care. After I've hugged her, celebrated homeward-bound kindergarten artifacts, and talked her into sitting in her car seat, I pull out to the edge of the street and hope the sight of moving traffic scares her into buckling her car seat more than my nagging did.

On a good day, she reads me one of her little picture-guided books on the way and I get to hear about what she's learned, and maybe even a song.

At the twins' preschool, I take Brielle in and we wade through four-year-olds who've just woken from a nap. I find and squeeze Melía, who helps me find the hiding Ashlyn, who's dressed in some sort of costume. Melía joins Ashlyn in her hiding spot. I tickle them both till they come out. I goad Ashlyn to lose the dress-up gear.

It's snack time now. While waiting for them to eat, I collect artwork from one cubby, blankets and sweaters from another, peanut-butter-scented princess boxes from the lunch rack. And with any luck, two children.

With lots of luck, I emerge with all three.

We work our way down the hall, girls stopping to see what the babies are doing, reminisce about bygone days in younger classes, beg for ice from the ice machine. One gets out to the car, another decides she needs to go potty. They all get outside, and Daddy remembers he didn't sign them out. Back inside, another decides she's ready for a pitstop too. Daddy wonders what happened to his nap time.

It's usually a good 90 minutes between my quitting time and the delicious moment when all four of us are crammed into the battered green Accord.

To make things interesting today, between Brielle's kindergarten and the twins' preschool, I had to swing by Rachelle's work to snag a third carseat. Walking toward Mommy's building, Brielle eyed a set of temporary mobile home offices on a construction site.

"Are those choo-choo trains? Is this a train station?"

"No, but they do look kind of like trains. Those are mobile homes, Brielle. The call them 'mobile' because they are moveable. 'Mobile' comes from the same word as 'move.' Mobile, move, mobile, move. Auntie's house is a mobile home, but it is double-wide. See how skinny those mobile homes are? They are single wide. Do you know why they make them so skinny? That's so they can fit on the back of a truck and drive them on the roads to wherever they need them. Cool, huh?"

Brielle had listened politely to my lecture on manufactured housing nomenclature, etymology and transport. And she had one conclusion:

"I think this is a train station."