Monday, September 24, 2007

The Toybox Story

"An old toybox with peeling paint, faded decals, and little sections of splintered wood sat in a garage wondering what was his intended fate in this new location. He had recently been "uprooted" from the quiet corner of a dark basement, where he had been resting for years. Questions flooded his mind. Where was he? Where were the children with toys for him to hold? Was he once again going to be relegated to a lonely corner gathering dust and spiders or could there possibly be some excitement on the horizon? As these thoughts wound their way through his brain he began to reflect on the journey of his life to this point in time.
It all began some thirty years ago when a mother asked her father to build a toy box for her three children. Since the father, a farmer by trade, was gifted with his hands and woodworking was an evening hobby he quickly set to work on this act of love for his grandchildren. He located a suitable pattern, cut out the sections from pine, then carefully assembled the pieces adding small wheels to the "undercarriage" to make moving the toybox around a room a breeze. His job was done. With pride he gave the toybox to his daughter, who set out to give it a coat of paint and a bit of character with decals and lettering. Once the paint was dry the toybox was ready for use.
Through the years this toybox held John Deere tractors and plows, cabbage patch dolls, legos by the hundreds, "My Little Pony" ponies, Chewbaca & various other Star Wars figures, as well as "dried up" play dough, broken crayons, and whatever else happened to be on the floor when mother said to "pick up the room". The toybox fondly remembers those days, knowing he was a valuable part of the family. But children don't stay young forever and there came a day when the toybox was ignored having been replaced by school books, a computer, and car keys.
Now, after years of being in storage, he finds himself in an unfamiliar place. Why would he be sitting in a garage beside an electric sander, paint cans and tiny brushes? It isn't long before the mother, who originally requested his "construction", a bit older but with the same smile, sits down beside him and begins to tenderly smooth out his rough exterior. Could he be needed again? Is it possible there are once more children in the house?
After several days of sanding, painting, and stenciling, the toy box is ready to take his place in the room of the mother's grandson! The words which have been stenciled onto the exterior of the toy box are character traits the mother prays will be stamped into the heart her grandson: love, hope, faith, believe, and joy. Contentment fills the heart of the toy box as he once again feels a useful member of the family!"

Now, this tale, although a bit silly, does remind me of the importance of family legacy. We all pass down things to our children. My father exemplified love, hope, faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that, not the toy box, is his true legacy to his great-grandson! Thank-you, Dad!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Swaddling - pure "wrap"ture?

To swaddle or not to swaddle, that is the question Rebecca and I face every night. For those of you who don't know what I am talking about let me give you a brief explanation. Swaddling is a process of tightly wrapping your baby in a large receiving blanket with his arms "cemented" along his sides. Only his little head is outside of the blanket and he resembles a little cocoon. Christian was swaddled in the hospital right after he was born. The nurses had obviously mastered this technique, which is not as easy as it appears.
It is suppose to be the cornerstone of calming by giving nurturing touch, stopping flailing arms, and focusing your babie's attention on sleep. For me, swaddling was a new concept but I understand it has been an ancient mothering "art" practiced all over the world for centuries. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Jesus were all swaddled as babies. In Tibet, babies have always been swaddled tightly in blankets. Traditionally, the wrapping was secured with rope and the baby was tied to the side of a yak to be carried as the family hiked through the valleys. I doubt if Rebecca and I will do much hiking with Christian. Besides, yaks are hard to find around here!
Swaddling went "out of fashion" in the 1700s when scientists proved that unwrapped infants didn't pluck their eyes out or dislocate their arms therefore they concluded swaddling was a waste of time. It was also an era of new freedoms and swaddling was viewed as a "baby prison".

Well, swaddling has made a big comeback and all birthing classes now tout it as one of the most important skills to master. Rebecca and I found it easier said than done. We practiced with dolls in the birthing classes BUT dolls don't wiggle, roll, scream, or flail their arms. Every night as we attempt this procedure Christian loudly voices his displeasure. Sometimes we wait until he is asleep and sneak in the process hoping he doesn't wake up "mid swaddle". I had to sew bigger swaddle blankets than the ones purchased from the stores because Christian was always "unwrapped" before his first feeding. For a little guy he is strong and wants out of the package! Yet, when we try to put him to sleep with his arms free he jerks awake after only a short rest. This nightly "battle" would look rather comical viewed from above: two grown women unable to successfully swaddle one squirming 6 pounder. When he is finally encased in flannel he does calm down, relax, and appear to feel comforted, but the jury is still out as to whether or not this will become a nightly routine.
Do you ever think that as God's children we often resist His swaddling? He wants to comfort us, surrounding us with his love and protection yet we would rather do our own thing, flailing our arms in rebellion. Isaiah 66:13 says, "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you." In Psalm 32:10 we read: "The Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him." I want Christian to trust me enough to know that I am swaddling him for his comfort. The question I ask myself is do I trust God enough to let him swaddle me according to His will and not mine?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

"Duties" of a live-in Grandmother

I am sure many of you are wondering what I do all day, now that I have retired from teaching and stepped into the shoes of a grandmother. Following is a sampling of a typical day living in North Carolina.
My morning begins with a "wake-up" lick from Ruthie, the yorkshire terrier, followed by a trip outside to accommodate her "needs".

Next I begin making coffee for my sleepy eyed daughter, who has been up nursing Christian a large portion of the night. I set the table for a hearty breakfast while she cuddles her son as well as her "jealous puppy".

The morning hours are occupied with such activities as bath time and laundry.

While baby and mommy nap, Grandma bakes bread and cookies, sure to please everyone, including Branden & Brooke who live around the block and frequently visit to hold their nephew.

After lunch Grandma takes a break to read Christian to sleep. Yes, I believe in reading even before they can understand the words!

The day is generally not complete without errands to run and baby things to buy. Christian's newborn sleepers were too big! We had to locate "just born" clothing for our little guy as well as more baby wipes and diapers. How many times a day can a six pound infant "fill" his pants? MANY!

In the afternoon I work on some aspect of the nursery. The letters are up and now onto the curtains and the toy box.

As the day winds down I get my evening hug and am rewarded with a smile! (Most babies don't smile at 2 weeks old but of course Christian is a prodigy!)

The day ends as I climb into bed and prepare to share it with Ruthie. Yes, living with Rebecca means having to sleep with the dog, at least part of the night! Oh well, I'd sleep with a snake, I think, if it meant I could spend more time with my grandson!!

I am loving the "Grandmother Journey"!