Monday, February 16, 2009

Loose teeth!

The tooth fairy is very generous at our house. Now, I have heard of other houses where she is more generous but at our house the going rate for a baby tooth is $2. I think this is a little extravagant but my children are thrilled whenever they discover another loose tooth. This is their main source of income. We do not give out regular allowances, and we've never given our children their own spending money just because. Basically, the children have only their loose teeth to depend on for regular revenue.
Recently our older son, who is seven, discovered one of his front teeth was very loose. I can not tell you the excitement this caused. He started immediately counting the money in his mind and planning a trip to the store. I looked forward, with anticipation, to the cute little jack-o-lantern smile I knew was coming. Unfortunately, the tooth, though quite wiggly, was taking its time in coming out. One night, he attempted to help it along with a string and a door. I'm not kidding, he really tied a string to his tooth and slammed the door. Unfortunately the string slipped off the tooth and it remained (somewhat) firmly imbedded in the gumline. He, then, attempted to pull it using pliers. This too failed. For weeks he has been trying to dislodge the tooth, which is literally hanging by a thread. In the meantime, both his sisters also discovered loose teeth in their mouths. His older sister lost hers within about two days of its first wiggle and claimed her $2 the next morning. His younger sister lost hers the very next night and discovered $2 under her pillow as well. The tooth fairy was probably considering taking on another job just to keep up with the expenses at the Burke household. Still, our son's tooth hung there limply in its place. He wiggled, he waggled, he twisted, he pushed for weeks! He started to resemble a famous red-neck tow truck from a popular children's movie with his tooth sticking out at an odd angle when he smiled. Then this afternoon he told me another tooth was loose as well. "Great," I said, "that means the first one will come out. I'm sure you won't have two loose at once."
I was right. Just this evening, after being sent to bed, he came out of his room bleeding profusely from the mouth and announced, "I lost my tooth!" Yea!!!! The time had finally come! The money for him, a jack-o-lantern smile to replace the "Mater" grin I was so sick of! Our joy was immense! We cleaned up the blood and got him tucked back in bed and I asked, before he went to sleep, to see his new hole-y smile. He happily obliged. And when he did I saw a beautiful gaping hole... right next to that horrible, loose, wiggly snaggle tooth! UGH! I can't believe it! It is still hanging on while all the other teeth in this house seem to be falling like dominoes!
Nevertheless, he will get his money, he does have a "Halloween" smile.... and the tooth fairy will undoubtedly start checking, in the hopes that some day she will be able to collect the "Mater tooth" as well!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A peas-full dinner at home

I feel so silly actually sitting at my computer typing a blog about this...but it is precisely because it is so silly that I feel I should do it. This is one of those crazy things that I am sure I will forget after my children are grown.....
Just last week, while I was in the midst of going over my daughter's math lesson with her, my youngest son started crying and ran into our classroom, obviously very disturbed about something. My older son followed him in explaining the problem, "He just stuck a bead up his nose!" Now, the problem was fairly easy to solve. I held his opposite nostril closed and told him to blow-- the little plastic bead popped right out into my hand. I have had experience with this type of thing before! I only wondered, this time, why his older brother had stood there and watched without stepping in to stop him.
I wondered about this because of my first experience with foreign objects lodged in the nose of one of my children. It happened one night at dinner. I had only three children at the time, the oldest being about 4 1/2 years old, the youngest only about 3 months old. My son, who was the only boy at the time, was not quite 2 years old. Now on this particular evening I was feeling very proud of what a phenomenal mother I was. (This should have been my first clue that something was going to go wrong. God almost always finds a way to knock me off my pedestal whenever I attempt to hoist myself up onto one.) Tim was working that evening and I was alone with the three children, all under the age of 5. Despite being on my own, I had prepared a nice, healthy dinner and we were all sitting down to the table to eat together (the baby was in her little seat on the counter next to us). This is where I was feeling so good about what a great mother I was. Somehow, however, I missed what my son was doing right next to me at the table. It wasn’t until halfway through the meal that I somehow discovered that he had a pea up his nose. I was a little distraught and unsure what to do but I got the tweezers from the bathroom and removed the pea, only to discover there was another one behind it and then another behind that. After removing the peas we finished our dinner and it was a little while later that he blew another pea out and then another. At this point I was completely incredulous! How many peas had he shoved in there?!?!? I got out a flashlight and looked up his little nose. I could not tell if there was anything left in there or not. I gathered him and his sisters up and went to the neighbor’s house to see if they could tell better than me. They also examined his nose with a flashlight but came to the same conclusion I had. There might be more in there but we couldn’t tell for sure. Thank goodness for wonderful neighbor’s- they kept the girls for me while I took my son to the pediatric urgent care center to have his nose examined for stray peas. This was not a pleasant experience for a two year old but I had hoped it would teach him a lesson. I had thought all these years that it had until the fateful day last week when he watched his little brother shove a bead up his nose and did not warn him of the possible dangers!
So what is the point of this story? Only that we as parents must endure a lot of craziness in life as we raise our children. That life will never be predictable with children around. And, most of all, that we should never feel we've mastered the job of parenting because just when we do-they'll catch us off guard and prove us wrong again and again!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quest for comfort

I would like to started each day filled with joy and gratitude. After all, God has blessed me with a wonderful life. In reality, when I wake in the morning, instead of jumping out of bed and thanking God for another new day, I burrow deeper into my covers. My first thoughts are of staying in bed, all snuggled up on my fluffy pillow, in my cozy p.j.'s. In fact, the only thing that can coax me out of my nice warm bed is the thought of a nice warm shower. I enjoy my showers, with the steamy water and the quiet time to myself, almost as much as the comfort of my bed. I would linger longer in the shower if not for all the nice warm breakfast options that I know await me in the kitchen. I make the most of my morning routine. Even though I wish morning would come an hour or two later, I make sure my day starts with all my favorite things. Lately, I have realized that it is not only my morning routine that revolves around my desire for ease and luxury. It is my whole day.
In fact, my entire life seems to be this great quest for my own personal comfort. In our society, this is not considered a bad thing. It is what life is supposed to be about in America! Tim and I bought our house, we pay all our bills- why should I not enjoy all the luxuries life has to offer? It certainly is tempting to do so, and so very easy to justify. Unfortunately, my life of indulgence is not making me happier. I lack that joy and gratitude I know I could have. Is it because I don't get that extra hour of sleep I so desperately want? Is it because I sometimes have to cut my showers short to break up fights, or make oatmeal for the kids? Or, is it because many days I am so focused on pleasing myself that I have completely lost touch with serving God. Of course, that is why I am not constantly flooded with gratitude for all the blessings in my life! I don't even recognize them because I am so busy selfishly searching for more, more, more. I am afraid this is the American way, and I am a product of the culture I have grown up in. It is so much harder to live in the counter-cultural way that Christianity asks of us. It seems so hard to focus on God and serving Him through serving others. I want to do better but it is a struggle to deny my selfish desires. Though I truly want to do better, I doubt I will wake up tomorrow and bound out of bed to make a big fancy breakfast for my family or greet the neighbors with a plate of piping hot muffins. At the very least though, I need to endeavor to start the day praying. Praying that God will strengthen me and guide me so that I may grow in virtue and worry more about pleasing Him than myself.


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