Thursday, February 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Reese!

We are celebrating Reese's 4th birthday today. That means that the last Leap Year was the year he was born--and he was just one day shy of being a Leap Year baby. My actual due date was February 29th, and I giggled to myself all during my pregnancy whenever I told someone I was due on Leap Day and their response was, "When is that?"

When Cole was nearing his second birthday, Justin and I decided that maybe it was time to have another baby. Cole himself had been such a surprise, born just 9 months and 11 days after our wedding, and it had taken quite a bit of finesse to scramble around and reorganize our life as newlyweds to prepare for a new little life. Now, nearly two years later, we were settling into our routines and thought it was time for Cole to have a sibling.

That first month, I didn't get pregnant, and I remember feeling devestated. Certainly babies were not things that could really be "planned"! The timing was obviously out of our hands, and we wondered if this time, we would be forced to wait.

But no--the second month came along, and we discovered--elatedly--that a baby was on its way. Now, when I think back and remember my disappointment that first month, I feel almost panicked, realizing that if we had conceived right away, we wouldn't have gotten REESE!

Here's some fun Reese-filled trivia for you.

*Reese is the only one of my boys that is a Pisces, like me. If it hadn't have been a Leap Year, my due date would have been March 1st--which is the same due date my mother had when she was expecting me. That's a little weird.

*Reese was my shortest labor and my largest baby--nearly ten pounds--a fun combination that enticed me to try an epidural the third time around.

*Reese has the fairest skin of the boys (white like his mama) and looks the most like the Baer side. Cole told me once (when he was 3 and Reese was a baby) that only he and Daddy could go in the restaurant, because they were dark, and Reese and I needed to stay in the car because we were white. I was speechless!

*Reese began speaking actual words at the astonishing age of 7 1/2 months, but he didn't walk until after his first birthday. I think he figured that there was no where worth going, since Mom was usually where the food was. At just over a year, he could put away an entire Costco hot dog and would ask for more. By eighteen months, his confessed favorite food was "meat". He could eat steak with the best of them! I would take him to playdates and all of the other kids would play so hard that we couldn't get them to eat....and Reese would eat so much that we couldn't get him to play. Ah yes, a boy after his Mama's own heart....

*Before the age of two, Reese had discovered two of his favorite things were drawing and building Legos. Not the big, bulky, toddler Legos--the real deal, folks. He would sit before a pile of pieces and create the most wonderful machines, spaceships, monsters. And the thing is: they would actually LOOK like what they were, and have functional parts. I still can't build anything worth beans out of Legos, unless I have a pattern I'm following. And as for the drawings--he would scribble something on his paper, study it for a few minutes, then suddenly gasp, and yell, "IT'S A.....(fill in the blank)!" He would proceed to fill in the details to finish out the whale, or carrot, or whatever. His creativity unlocked something inside of Cole, who up until that time would never try something unless he knew he could do it perfectly. Cole had always refused to pick up a crayon or marker because he recognized that he didn't know how to draw a car, or a hat, or a dog. So he wouldn't try. Watching Reese create out of nothing, and find such joy in it, finally gave Cole a desire to try without worry of failure. To this day, two of their favorite things to do together are draw and play with Legos.

*As a toddler, Reese also had a habit for creating more-succinct names for things (in my opinion) than their actual names. My two favorites to this day are "Hawkyboarding" for skateboarding (in honor of the revered Tony Hawk), and "Suicycles" for motorcycles.

Reese's birth was unique. He came quickly when no one even knew we were in the hospital. My grandfather had just died a few days prior, and his memorial service was planned for the 28th--the day Reese was born. When I suspected I was in labor, I didn't bother calling our families, because I knew they would be unable to make the trip to the hospital due to their obligations at the service. By the time we arrived at the Childbirth Center, in the wee hours of the morning, we discovered that delivery was imminent. I still remember phoning my parents, waking them with my call, trying to explain to them that Baby was HERE! I finally had to hold the phone up to my crying newborn before they would believe me.

Reese's birthday is sacred to me because I can't celebrate the birth of my son without remembering my grandfather. I think of them both whenever I hear Jack Johnson's song "If I Could", about the baby that was born just as his friend lay dying. The lyrics say, "one goes out, one comes in"....

So Happy Birthday, Reese: We are richer for having you in our lives. And Papa, we are thinking of you too, and someday we will introduce you to this wonderful boy!


Monday, February 25, 2008

They're Here, They're Here!

My Christmas present was delivered today,
courtesy of the US Postal Service...

Five baby chicks, each of them just 2 days old.

Justin says if we want to name them, we should choose Foodie names, like Fryer and Drumstick, to remind us of their eventual purpose. I don't know that Cole really understands, because he wants to name one of them "Wheat"!

These sweet little ladies are the perfect end to my year, as God has been teaching me great things lately about the sanctity of life.

Last winter, He led me through a journey of ancient Old Testament scriptures concerning food and ritual. I was astonished to see such abundance of life in passages I had read so blindly for years. I saw the beauty of God's protection in scriptures about restriction; I found freedom in the celebration of Sabbath.

And then, unbeknownst to me, as I was praising God for loving me as a parent and giving me safe boundaries, he was creating another child within me, yet again expanding the limits of my little tent....

Teaching me ever more about trusting His timing, and having faith in the goodness of His gifts.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." --jeremiah 29:11

On a basic level, I am thankful for the food these chicks will provide. On a deeper level, although I am not looking forward to explaining their death to my boys, I am thankful for the opportunity to share that experience with my children. I hope that they begin to see, as I have, that sometimes One has to die, for us to truly live....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More About Slavery

Upon further reflection, I am remembering several occasions over the past several months when Cole has found me cleaning something arbitrary (Reuben's closet, the clothes pile in my room)and has asked, "Do you think I should pay you for that, Mom?"

(Don't worry. I always say "no".)

Do they really think I am this household's working slave? Or is it just that I do housework so infrequently, that they think they better provide immediate incentive, to "encourage" me to keep going?

Modern Day Slavery

Quote of the Day:

"Mom, you are a SLAVE, because you work so hard, and you always have to wait for us." ---Reese, age 3

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Heard Around The House

Cole: "I lost one of my legos and now I'm waiting for Jesus to find it."

Reese: "When can we go on a plane again?" (They've never even been to the airport)

Justin: "If you keep acting nasty like that, I'm going to send you inside with your mother!"

And my all time favorite, spoken by Reese with maracas hanging around his neck down to his waist, bumping against him as he hops down the stairs: "Look, Cole: FEEDERS!"

Friday, February 15, 2008

la, la la

My funny valentine...

Did you have a nice day yesterday? I cooked all day...heart-shaped blueberry pancakes for the boys for breakfast (thanks Jill for the idea!) and all the fixings for Valentines dinner. Whew! The payoff was worth it when Justin finally got home and we could all sit down to one of our family's favorite meals: Guiness-braised corned beef, garlic smashed red potatoes, green beans and challah....and double chocolate torte souffle with raspberry orange sauce. Yum!
The highlights of the day were watching a Little House DVD in the afternoon with Cole while we braided the challah together, and curling up as a family on the couch after dinner to watch some of Planet Earth--my valentine's surprise for Justin. And watching "Big Love" with Jus after the boys went to bed. We just shake our heads. Justin says, "All those wives! Too complicated!"

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Numbers, Chaos and Family

Greetings to all Bloggers and Blog readers, Justin here (I am the other adult part of this crazy, amazing family). I want to add a few words to this sacred place. I do so with blessings from my wife and with a desire to give a father perspective of our family life adventure.

With the appearance of every son, the social dynamic changes slightly. When Reese first appeared, Cole, for the first time, had to share mommy and daddy. His world became much bigger and he faced new emotions; boredom and loneliness. He also started to recognize the joy that came when you had just one parent all to yourself for an afternoon. When Reuben materialized, Reese was less than excited. He tried to express his frustration with all the crying and fussing of the new baby by punching and screaming. He soon realized life was much easier when he played with his older, verbal, active brother. Even now, on a bad day, Reese will punch or yell at Reuben when he doesn't do what Reese wants him to do (Kim and I could get jobs as Professional Conflict Resolution Consultants with the experience we have). Cole is a great helper and with every new addition he rises to the challenge. He sees the conflicts between R&R and tries to break them up peacefully by luring one away from the other. He will make breakfast for himself or for the others. He will retrieve anything you need at just about any time you need it. I am deeply proud of him. I am honored and humbled to see the powerful heart of a servant in one so young.

Hang with me, I'm going to get brainy now, but my point comes back to the heart. One of the core classes I took in college for my major was called Perspectives of Psychology. The class was one of my favorites. All we did was sit in a dark classroom and theorize about what outside factors affect human psychology. My professor was about 4'10” and looked like Albert Einstein. The only thing we talked about the whole quarter was Chaos Theory (I get amped just thinking about it again). We found that multiples of 2 were everywhere in the world. In chemistry most natural elements are stable in multiples of 2. In physics two equal and opposite forces create a state of stability (Binary star systems, muscle control, gravity). In biology, survival takes two (reproduction, symbiotic relationship, predator/prey). We then applied that trend to family and relationships. A marriage is a strong unit (2). Add baby (2+1=3), life becomes a bit unstable and difficult (At this point dad does not know what to do, he has no one to interface with, mom and baby have linked up in a bond of 2 and he is a floating 1). Add another baby (3+1=4), stability returns (dad has a child to link up with now, and mom has baby). This trend is evident in relationships too. A one-on-one talk is easier than a three person discussion, yet add one more and you have a double date.

All that nerdiness to explain the peace and stability baby Sean has created (4 boys IS easier than 3). The most change happened for Reuben with this new addition. He is not mommies baby anymore. Kim and Sean = 2, Cole and Reese have been two for a while, and Reuben has found his dad now. I take Cole and Reese to the park, hiking, to the store, etc. So for Reuben to hook up with me he had to start doing “big-boy” things. It amazes me to see him respond naturally to the change in family dynamic.

On the day of Christmas Eve the boys were getting wild. The weather was nasty and I had a wild hare to go for a hike. I knew it would be short but at least we would get out. This time, for the first time, we took Reuben. The four of us bundled up, I grabbed the baby backpack and we were off. The streets were alive with rain and rivers. Cole and Reese were wet up to their knees and elbows before we even hit the trail. I tried to put Reuben in the baby backpack. I knew it wasn't going to work when the top edge came up to his waist (it was supposed to be at his chest). I took it off and left it in the car (this was shaping up to be even shorter of a hike than I first thought). Reuben would not let me hold him the whole trip. He climbed up the slippery, muddy banks with the rest of us and when he fell into the puddles he would say, “O-tay, O-tay, O-tay!” which meant, “I'm OK, I don't need help, lets keep going!” I could see his determination to be one of the big boys and not hold us back. It was as if he felt like he was pledging for our fraternity of men and if he gave up we would not accept (absolutely not true in this situation, but you could see his intentional effort not to be a liability to us). Reese was the first to want be carried and to go home. Reuben showed his true grit and walked without help back to the car.

In January I took the boys up to Mt. Baker to go sledding. Again, Reuben was able to go to the mountain for the first time with the big boys. As before he proved he could hang with the young bucks. He didn't like sledding but he would throw snowballs at anyone who would go down the hill. Reese bit his tongue eating snow in the first ten minutes we were there and wanted to go home. I love my Reese!
To Reuben: You have shown great valor in your journey toward manhood. I now pronounce you one of the Big-Boy Philips Men. The road is long and full of challenge, but you will not be given more than you can handle. Welcome my son.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday Confessions

....or, Things I Need To Get Off My Chest:

* It is 2pm and I only just got out of my jammies

* I bribed the boys with money this morning to get them to make their beds

* I'm pretty sure that spot on Reuben's pants is poo that leaked through his diaper, and though I changed his diaper, I didn't change his pants

* I asked Justin to get pizza for lunch so that I wouldn't have to do more dishes

* I made the kids drink water with their pizza, while I drank Pepsi in front of them

* The last entry in my checkbook is from before Sean was born

* I haven't yet written my baby thank-you cards, delivered some of my Christmas packages, or put away the wrapping paper

* I bribe Reuben with chocolate chips or mini-marshmallows to get him to use the potty

* Reese is so in need of a bath that when I ran my hand through his hair this morning, it stayed in the position I left it.....


It is the weekend (hooray, hooray) and tomorrow is Sabbath (hooray, hooray) and we are all buzzing about the games we will play, the walks we will take, the lounging we will do....

What bliss! This is what grace is, to me!