Mom Needs Grace

Musings on the life redeemed & purpose redefined

Another Arizona July 27, 2011

Filed under: Better life,sisters — dayna @ 11:55 pm

One of the best parts about this glorious state is the sheer scope of her variety.

Last month, our little family was blessed to be able to escape the pre-monsoon Tucson heat and turn a work trip into a mini family vacation in the other Arizona.

Up north, where the temperatures are about 30 degrees cooler and they have some of these tall things…

and these…

(She called them “porcupines” for the first couple of days.)

One especially ambitious day, the little girls and I started our morning at a nearby campus coffee shop that had me drooling.

Can’t miss that schnidling of cinnamon-y deliciousness on this pensive face 🙂

Those hipster students and highly intellectual professors didn’t quite know what hit them with our mischievous but joyful mom-and-kid trio.

Next we headed up a lovely winding dirt road to The Arboretum.

We were in awe of the natural beauty, but the ladies had the most fun in this…

… the tree ring maze.

There was wandering. And much climbing.

And later…

…blissful vacation exhaustion. A day to cherish.


little fears July 19, 2011

Filed under: Faith,Motherhood — dayna @ 1:00 am

Yesterday, we were females facing fears.

The little girls and I went to the community pool in the mid-morning. As a mom outnumbered, I kept them mostly in the shallow end. We waded, paddled, and floated as the clouds gathered. The sky became increasingly threatening and finally after a few impressive lightning flashes, we reluctantly packed up and headed home.

The torrential downpour hit as we drove the short two minutes home.  Unable to resist the monsoon “lakes” growing in our street and front yard, the big girl pulled on her  rain-boots and jumped with all her might. Not much cuter than a little girl in a swimsuit and galoshes, is there? :)The tiny one and I found ourselves joining her with glee.

Then there was the rinsing, drying, and snacking.

I snuggled the little one and tried to put her down for her nap. I slipped out of her door and headed to grab the video monitor to make sure she didn’t have one of her breath-holding spells. (I’ll elaborate on those fears someday, promise). As I passed by the living room, I noticed the front door swung wide open.

Where was the big sister?!

In spite of our builder’s idiotic placement of the dead-bolt right above the door handle, our 3.5 year old is usually so good about this. She knows to check before answering a knock or door bell. She knows that she is not supposed to open this door without permission. And yet there it was- open wide.

My breath escaped me as I ran to find her… in the front yard picking up mesquite beans. I think I uttered a “What are you doing?!”  as I scooped her up and set her inside the door. I thought my expression said it all as I told her I would be right back after I checked on the breath-holding baby.

I resettled the little one and returned to find my big girl clearly not grasping the gravity of what had just happened. I started lecturing, searching for something that would get her attention here. Suddenly, I thought of her forceful imagination.  I suggested “Let’s pretend something!” We re-enacted the scary (to-me) situation. She opened the door and strolled out, innocent as a little lamb.

Moments later I snatched her- a bad guy taking her far away from her family.

Her eyes were wide as I set her down, and her lower lip started to tremble as we talked about how scary this was and how much we all would miss each other. We embraced, cried, and theorized about doors, danger, and what else could happen. Both visibly shaken by the topics and tactics, we found comfort in our routine of story-reading while the little one napped.

Later that evening there was yet another fearful encounter. As we did our nightly lap around the cul-de-sac, I looked ahead to see a prancing foot about to step on an enormous hairy tarantula. Yup, these scary looking beasts really come out after a summer rain. They are huge and  supposedly harmless, but they seriously look like fake Halloween decorations- functional fangs and all. Of course I scream, grab the big girl (again) and turn, only to see the spider headed straight for the tiny one now sitting in the middle of a driveway! Tossing my surprised firstborn to the side, I scoop up the baby. The traumatized spider scuttles under a car. Two little bewildered faces stare up at their clearly crazy mama.

They never even saw the tarantula. Biology lesson missed.

We head back to the house, me cracking Little Miss Muffet jokes all the way in an attempt to reassure them that I am not completely off my rocker.

But later that night, the real fears set in. While the babies are tucked in bed, mommy fears creep. Sinister whispers of doubt and what-ifs.

Were we safe enough in the pool? And how about that breath-holding, oh the breath-holding…? Were my runaway stranger-danger tactics excessive? Cruel even? When she just “wanted to see if it had stopped raining, mommy!” Did I scare her too much? Was it too little? Did either (or both) of them feel tossed aside during the spider incident? Am I a worthy mom? On and on…

In the wee hours I mull. And speculate. And strategize on how to raise reasonable healthy humans. Little people who are safely obedient, but not afraid to experience the great big world.

And yes, we will be getting that security door sooner rather than later.

But there is no security door for their hearts. Or mine. We’re just doing the best we can. And learning as we go.

What to do with those fears?

Then I notice that it’s after midnight so I check my phone for the new “call” I have been getting daily lately. It started with the little Jesus Calling devotional book that seemed so on target each day. And then my friend found an app for that.

I click on the day 7/19 and there it is. He called it…

“Bring Me all your feelings, even the ones you wish you didn’t have…Blazing missiles of fear fly at you day and night… affirm your trust in Me, regardless of how you feel…Do not hide from your fear or pretend it isn’t there… Bring your anxieties out into the Light of My Presence, where we can deal with them together. Concentrate on trusting Me, and fearfulness will gradually lose its foothold within you.”

There is freedom from fear.

“Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 12:2


vigilance (some serious stuff) July 15, 2011

Filed under: Better life — dayna @ 12:00 pm

It happens more often than I would like to say. The girls are in their seats at the kitchen table. I turn my back for what seems like seconds. I may hear a strange sound, or just happen to turn around at the right moment to catch the little one with red-rimmed teary eyes nearly bulging out. My ambitious little big-biter is choking!

Usually she sputters, coughs, and works it out, although I have had to intervene more than a few times. It always feels so scary. And I am always struck by that fact that I wouldn’t have heard anything.

That sickening silence.

That very silence is one of the things that stays with me about drownings. Unlike many accidents or threatening events, a drowning is a silence unnoticed for sometimes mere seconds too long.

Those of us who work in the pediatric intensive care unit see far too many drownings and near drownings every single year. Just the night before last, I saw yet another close call reported on the local news. And really, even one is too many, isn’t it?

The other thing that I know always strikes my co-workers and I, is that many of these incidents occur in the midst of large groups of people. They are at a pool party, on a field trip, in summer camp, at a community pool. With so many people around, it can still happen so quickly. So quietly.

Now, we PICU mamas may be excessively anxious when our kids are near a pond, a water feature, or in the tub. We definitely can’t be much fun at a pool party.

We just see these tragedies happen to wonderful, responsible families all too often.

About two years ago, one of my favorite writers, Darcie (Of Such the Spot) shared about her family’s experience in this incredibly honest and compelling post. Seriously, even if you’ve never read anything I have linked to: READ THIS post.

I’ll wait.

And now, ever the woman of admirable action, Becca of (Our Crazy Boys) is hosting a local CPR event tomorrow to help make a difference. I know that I am late in telling you about this particular event, but I just didn’t want to miss the opportunity to lift my voice to the chorus urging:

Be vigilant around water and kids. Make sure someone is watching each child. Learn CPR. You really never know when you may be in a position to save a life.

Feel free to contact me if you would like to find a CPR class in your area. I know Becca would be happy to help as well.

Now to (sort of) lighten up…

At least, take a minute to laugh and learn with this funny but educational video:

*Warning: this video is for adults in more ways than one:) A little sex appeal helps to make the information memorable, and “hands only” CPR is currently recommended for adults. Rescue breathing  is still generally indicated for young children because their collapse is usually secondary to a respiratory failure.

For more information and listings of classes near you, here is the American Heart Association website .

I would love to hear from you. I’m off to hug my babies just a little too tight…


A Fourth more fair…

Filed under: History lessons — dayna @ 12:00 am

So I’m here mulling over the summer which seems to be strangely slipping away. Our school district starts classes up really early, so we tend to do mental “fall” while many long hot Arizona summer days still stretch out before us.

How was your Fourth of July? I’ve got to say, ours was just kind of “ho-hum”. Only ‘kind of’ because thankfully nothing is really “ho-hum” with little people aged 3.5 and 1.5, right? 🙂

I love where I live, don’t get me wrong. This desert place really does sing to my soul. But around that certain holiday every single year, I find myself surprised at my fierce yearning for my old hometown.

You see, my hometown went all out for the Fourth of July. I know I didn’t fully appreciate it in my youth, but now that I have kids of my own, I view it differently. I want to teach about the significance of Independence Day and share in the excitement that points to our nation’s unique origin. I know that the community celebrations and all day festivities there would really help emphasize the day (plus they are a lot of fun!).

It’s not that people out here aren’t patriotic. They really are. They love this country for all the freedom, diversity, and independence she affords.

It’s not Tucson’s fault. There are just some daunting obstacles to that traditional “day and night in the park” experience that I grew up with. There is the geographic metropolitan sprawl, the relative lack of large grassy gathering areas, the slightly more shallow revolutionary roots, and oh yeah- the threat of wildfire that often (rightfully so) warrants cancellation of the fireworks.

This year, I happened to be off work and was determined to show the girls a good time. We loaded our little camp chairs and headed to the convention center to watch the fireworks show on “A- mountain.” After about two hours of trying to keep them safe and nourished in an (expensive) parking lot with many moving vehicles, we did “ooh and ahh” at some far away pyrotechnics. But sadly, the big girl’s sequined crown and sparkly band-aid were the most festive things around.

So I remember Frederick’s Fourth, kicking off in the morning with a 5K fun run. The bands playing all day. The bathtub races in the lake. The face-painting, street vendors, pies, barbecue and chili cook offs. The old streets (some pre-dating the original day) sporting fresh red, white, and blue flags and decorations.

Nostalgia has me thinking of backyard get-togethers. Grandparents and toddlers, teenagers and their parents. I drool remembering large picnic tables covered in newsprint. People gathered around- bashing and picking sweet little Maryland blue crabs. Scents of Old Bay seasoning, swilling beer, and buttery corn on the cob. Kids squealing as they dive on slip and slides, eat watermelon, and rinse off in sprinklers.

And then as the sun dips lower, the people converge downtown with blankets and chairs to claim a prize viewing spot. Together, they enjoy the fireworks show set to the patriotic tunes played by a big brass band.

I remember it all as so magical. It wasn’t perfect, but it was community. I’m dreaming of a year when I share that town with my kids. Hope the reality holds up…

In the meantime, I would love to hear your local recommendations. Maybe we just haven’t found the right spot here in the Old Pueblo… where do you go?


(A little bit) about a bear July 8, 2011

Filed under: reads — dayna @ 7:00 am

I know. I know. I was certain I would manage to crank out a bunch of those posts this week.

But it’s been bit of a struggle and not the one I am willing to have right now. Again, there were a few tough spots and some glorious moments.

The refreshing, awe-inspiring, washing-clean monsoons have started here in the desert. Heavy heat gives way to crackling electricity, gives way to quenching drenching. Aaah!

Change and growth are everywhere. In the sky, in the plants, in the people.

The taller pixie skips and asks important theological questions. And pushes boundaries with a sly smile.

The tiny pixie slow-twirls, flirts shamelessly, and “counts” softly to herself. And won’t let anyone else fasten any of her straps- never mind the finger pinching…

Can’t you just feel the volume of material available? Inspiring and overwhelming all at the same time.

So today, naturally, I’m just going to…

give away a book!

I think it must be a coping mechanism for me. And you get to reap the benefits. It’s win-win, right?

How about some Little Bear? We just love that fuzzy guy.

I have sweet summer memories of reading and re-reading Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear stories at my grandparents’ house on the Chesapeake Bay. Windows and doors thrown open. Faintly hearing the lapping surf. Snuggled under a blue fake velvet blanket.

I read of Little Bear’s wardroble dilemmas solved by his clever mama. I read about his delicate birthday soup shared with animal friends. And (my personal favorite), I read about his trips to the moon where he was treated to a “spare” lunch by a mother bear whose own little bear had, (lo and behold!) taken a trip to earth.

And now I get to delight in these books with girls of my own. We love these books for their simple innocence and fanciful ideas. Maurice Sendak’s legendary illustrations help to tell the stories of a close little family and community. Like Frances‘, the parents are tender, wise, and imaginative in helping little bear explore and learn.

So far we have only checked out the original Little Bear (renewed three times), and A Kiss For Little Bear. I’m sure we will get to the rest eventually…

Have you read any Little Bear or other books by Else Holmelund Minarik? Which would you like to read?

Leave me a comment by Sunday, July 17th and you can win a Little Bear book or a $5 Amazon gift card. Take your pick!

I’ve also got to mention that Nick Jr’s Little Bear cartoon is pretty true to the books with the same sweet lessons and enchantment.


hello out there July 2, 2011

Filed under: Better life,Blogging,Motherhood,sisters — dayna @ 12:31 pm

Hello? Hello? Had you given up on me? I sure hope not.

I am well aware that this bloggish space has been languishing for a couple of…

…weeks!?  Has it really been that long?

I guess our household has been all caught up in summer-ness. Less structure somehow sometimes feels like more busy-ness.

I’ll admit, there may have been a few rough patches and some aches and pains keeping me away. But mostly, it has been the fun mini road-trips and unexpected transitions.

Not that I haven’t had anything to write about. Trust me. I’ve still got my lists. I just can’t seem to crack the computer open as often as I’d like.

Hopefully in the next week, at least a few of these posts will march themselves on to completion.

For now, I’ll leave you with a shot of our Thursday morning.

It was our first “at-home-all-day” day in way too long. ( Our little family just needs these sorts of days. Does yours?)

Happiness is…

Playdough on the kitchen island. Playdough on the kitchen floor. Playdough on favorite pajamas. (Yup, still in ’em).

If you could only hear the Jack Johnson flowing in the background and enjoy the smells of butter and coffee wafting through the kitchen- then you would truly get a feel for the bliss.

All day the little girls and I were belting out and clapping to  “This is the day! This is the day…”

(In the spirit of disclosure: there may have been a second pot of coffee brewed that morning. I confess that I seem to be a much “funner” mom when adequately caffeinated. How about you?)