Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Aunt B. and The Pie

The week after our family went to the orchard with the Bergets Atticus went to a different orchard with his kindergarten class -- His first field trip! He came home with a bag of apples and asked to make an apple pie for his dad. Now I am not a good crust maker -- I don't care much for any kind of pie and so I, selfishly, have not worked at this culinary skill. My sister happened to have come by on one of her surprise visits and cheerfully announced, "Well, I can make a crust. I'll make a pie with you, Atticus!" Atticus was elated. So after his brothers and sister went down for afternoon naps, he and Bekah made a pie. It was so sweet of my sister and so fun for Atticus. And as the pie was baking, the younger ones emerged from their naps, and Bekah took the dough scraps and helped Dietrich and Lincoln make jelly pop-tarts so they could have some cooking fun too! (And where was I during all this -- mostly sitting at the dining room table, watching, and happily [guilt-free] sewing!!!)

I did stop to help peel apples -- I have peeled many, many apples having had a small orchard on our farm growing up. I can still peel an entire apple without breaking the peeling -- one curly corkscrew (I am too proud of this skill). I tried to teach Atticus but his hands are just not quite big enough yet. He chose the short, choppy, stab method into the sink. Not pretty, but it works -- eventually.

First Race

Inspired by our friend Anne Ryerson, we decided to sign Atticus and Dietrich up for their first official race: The TCT Medtronic Half Mile over at the capitol building in St.Paul. For a few weeks I would practice with them, keeping them running while ignoring their whines and whimpers and lethargic, tragic-comic protests of weakness, tiredness, hunger, injury, and my cruelty in making them do such a ludicrous exercise in futility. It was awesome. I fear for their future life success. I even spent a few conversations with them reading from the Bible about not running aimlessly ("beating the air" as Paul says) and running with purpose to "win the prize" -- trying to explain how running and finishing a race is like living life with Christ as our goal, as our happy thought to pull us through to then end, to throw off all hindrances and fight through the tiredness and the pain for a worthwhile end. (I'm pretty sure they heard nothing I said, but for a few days afterwards they thought running around beating the air was fun.)
Well, the day before, we picked up their t-shirts and running numbers from Atticus' school. We drove over to St.Paul on a beautiful clear, chilly Saturday morning to see the capitol building for (my) first time and meet up with the collected groups of elementary students out on the front lawn. We waited a long time...first for the starting line-up, then a longer time in a massive crowd of young runners and their parents. It was quite surreal with music pumped out over speakers, a radio announcer interviewing little kids, parents chatting, kids antsy, confused, and for my boys -- wrestling and fighting with each other while I broke up their fights 527 times. Finally we started off. Atticus did great -- no complaining, taking off ahead of us, looking back, running back to be with us, and then shooting ahead again -- in a casual, I-love-people-and-crowds-and-this-is-so-fun-I-am-totally-a-Johannsen-down-to-my-toes kind of way. Dietrich, well...yeah...Dietrich. Dietrich began complaining quietly to me, then he stopped "running" entirely as I encouraged him on. He began whining loudly. He started crying. Then he started weeping and yelling and, truly, truly, growling. Growling in a threatening, death-throes sort of way. Kid-runners made space for him. Parents stared. I just focused on my son. "Well, you can sit on the curb here and I will come back and get you. You will be safe." But he wouldn't stop -- not running, not wailing and growling. So I held his hand and we ran the half mile -- the entire half mile with his head thrown back growling threats and doom and death. And the respectable part of me was mortified. And the mother part of me was sorry for my poor boy and worried about his character and how I should help him become stronger. And the observer part of me, the part of me watching this scene from the crowd on the side of the street, started laughing. Yes, I started laughing, trying to hide it at first (so as not to incense further my furious child), but then I was laughing so hard, I was wheezing and crying and shaking. It was so ridiculous, and so exactly how I approach so much of living life. My poor kid. He is me. Except that he is 3 years old and he is a male which means he has even more rage and doesn't hide things very well yet. But we made it to the finish line. Volunteers at the end were holding armfuls of pretty gold medals hanging from bright yellow ribbons -- one for every kid who finished the race. One kind, silver-haired lady offered one to the still angry, weeping Dietrich -- He looked at her, looked at me, and yelled right into my face "No! No! I don't want one! I didn't finish the race!" I apologized to the lady, and took Dietrich aside to discipline him for his rudeness to her and to me. Then I told him, "Deke, you did finish the race -- not with the right attitude, not with the right heart, but you did finish the race. Would you like a medal? He glaringly but quietly took it from my hand. Then I took his hand and we went to find Atticus and Brad and the little ones. By the time we found them on the sidelines, Dietrich had magically transformed into smiles and lightness -- cheerfully showing Brad his award and proudly declaring how strong he was and how he has finished the race and made his feet to keep going all the way to the end, and so on, all the way to the car and home. I have no idea what he actually learned this day, but I am thankful he finished. Proud that Atticus cheerfully ran the entire course, and praying hard for wisdom through the emotions and growls of many more important races to come.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

More of This, Please.

Why can't there be more of this and less cleaning up disasters, administering discipline, breaking up fights, arbitrating disputes, and feeling utterly over-whelmed and parent-suck--errific?  The latter things often make me forget that sublime moments of the above even happen. Let me remember, and please help the other stuff reap good fruit in my children. Please, God.

The Girl "Next" Door

This is Atticus and Gigi (our neighbor) walking to the school bus.

Orchard Time!

So it is the season for visiting an orchard with the kids. This is our third annual visit with the Bergets -- Hooray! We went back to Erma Krumbees South of the city. I felt pretty subdued and weird the Sunday afternoon we left...but the trees were beautiful and the kids seemed to really enjoy it. We also drove down "Baptist Style" (i.e. Women in one car, Men in the other) so all of us grown-ups had some great conversations there and back and were really able to "catch up" with one another.



This picture is for Leah -- yep, he requested I photograph this pose once again. What?


See the little boy in the background?

He came up and sat right next to Thea Belle and stared at her for 5 minutes until his mom made him move on...It was hilarious.

We came up with a questionable game that involved seeing how far you could whip an apple with one's mouth and a whole lotta body-torque.