Saturday, August 23, 2008

We're not "Carnies". We prefer the term "Circus Folk"

I've said it before, my home feels like a circus most husband and I transient shift workers, coming and going at all hours. Loading and unloading our children into the roller coaster we call a minivan. Anyone who has experienced my driving can attest to the roller coaster comparison...although I guess roller coasters would be more of a carnival or fair thing, than circus-y...but we do have hyper children screaming, and whining for treats, so I guess a carnival isn't too far off either. But still, the circus is the best way I can think of to describe my household. So I was thinking I could take this metaphor a bit farther and introduce you to my family, although my profile has already touched on it.
My wonderful much as I want to tell you all he's the ring-master, if I had to pick a single title...I think that I picture him more as the strong man. He is the head of the household, but he's a fairly quiet, shy guy, so the title of ring-master seems a little off. But, "Strong Man", that seems perfect. He's great at opening jars and lifting heavy objects, and physically he's the strongest man in the house...but it's much more than physical strength. He's a strong, solid, stable man, which suits my drama queen personality quite well. He's so strong, that having him beside me makes me stronger.
Luke always talks non-stop. If he has nothing better to talk about he just starts a play-by-play of what's going on. That would make him a pretty good announcer, except that I think that in circuses, that job belongs to the ring-master, (which I'm sure he thinks he is). Although lately if you asked him what he is he'll tell you he's the snake charmer, but that's just because he is into a snake phase. But I think he's best suited to being a clown. Dressing up, being funny...yeah, that's long as he's a clown who can talk. He's already so interested when I put on my make-up, so I'd better watch out. He would have to work on overcoming his shyness to be a clown out in public somewhere, but in our circus home, he's a total clown.
There's no humming and hawing over Toby...he's an acrobat. No piece of furniture too high, no high flying move too risky. Unfortunately, he performs without a net. Energizer bunny meets chimpanzee meets mountain goat. Baby-proofing has nothin' on this kid. We're lucky that so far that his only permanent damage is a chipped tooth. Want something guaranteed to make Toby smile no matter how miserable he is?... fling him around, or hold him up by his ankles, or any move like that. If we had a giant cannon, he'd be climbing in it right now.

Nobody knows what kind of dog Rita is. She was found as a starving stray puppy. She's not ferocious, and can withstand being a participant (sometimes willing, sometimes not so much) in both Luke and Toby's performances with surprising poise and patience. She has tiger-like stripes and sometimes has a wild look in her eyes. If she wants something (like breakfast or a trip to the dog park)

she starts growling and howling, although neither could even give the illusion of an untamed beast. But she's our only animal act, so you can enjoy her act, or picket outside our home for having an animal act...although the only animal cruelty here is from Luke wanting to pet her too often, or when Toby tries to ride her like a horse (but to the activists from all the animal groups out there, we stop them as soon as we see it, so please don't start picketing).
ME (a.k.a. TANYA)
I try to stay on top of plucking the odd chin hair I find growing, because I do fear becoming the bearded lady both figuratively and literally. However, I do realize that once most kids become teenagers they begin to gawk at their mother's uncool, "freakish" ways. That and not knowing how hard or fast menopause will hit, I could potentially be the bearded lady in a decade or so, both figuratively AND literally, once the boys' hormones kick in, and mine peter out. Until then, I choose to keep my tweezers handy and enjoy my children always believing that I know everything...or at least something.
Some days in this house I feel like a concession stand worker, trying to "sell" the boys that banana that is fast developing spots..."Bananas heeeerrreee! Get your bananas heeerrreee!", but I can't charge the outrageous prices which makes me more like the cafeteria lady than a concession stand worker.

I guess I'd be best described as the juggling act. No, I can't juggle flaming batons, swords or even bowling pins, but I try to juggle my family and work, and for me that's plenty hard to do.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What I did (and didn't) say to the crowd at the church.

My grandfather died on Monday. He was a month shy of 89 years, and had been pretty much slowly dying with congestive heart failure since his heart attack in 2004, so it was neither surprising nor terrible that he passed away. I'm sad to lose him, but he was a wonderful Christian man who has been ready to die for quite some time now, so I know he's happy. As both my grandparents are/were especially proud of their grandchildren, we were asked to do something at his funeral, which was yesterday. It was a beautiful funeral, but I laid awake in bed for many hours last night thinking of what else I could have said, that would make people understand how wonderful he was. And it bothered me until I thought I could use this blog for therapeutic purposes. For those of you expecting a smile from a lighthearted blog, you'd better skip this one today. So all eight of us grandchildren, ages ranging from 34 to 6, got up to the stage as a group, my brother went first talking about how when our other grandfather was dying in the hospital, my Papa (that's the one who just died) spent hours talking and praying with my Grandpa bringing him back to Jesus, whom he had left so many years before, and because of him, they are both in Heaven today. One cousin talked about how Papa could fix anything and how he was the reason that my cousin wanted to have a job where he could work with his hands. Another cousin talked about the wonderful times at the lake and my grandfather water skiing at 75 years of age. Someone read a poem, someone played a piano solo, and a couple we too distraught or too young to speak, but we all went up together. I mentioned sitting in my grandparents' basement listening to him play Red River Valley on the accordion. We always loved when he'd pull out the accordion, which he taught himself to play, because that meant my grandma would let us sneak sugar cubes out of the china cabinet to suck on while he played. Lucky for my teeth he didn't play too often. Now I can't hear Red River Valley played without thinking it sounds better on the accordion, or without getting a sugar craving. I didn't tell the congregation of how embarrassed I was one day when my Papa and I walked up to the nearby mall for some groceries and he noticed an old cot in the dumpster. After we had brought the groceries home the two of us rode bikes back, and he pulled the cot out and we brought it home. I was probably about 8 then, and was mortified that my grandfather was a garbage-picker, and even more worried that someone might see us. But, I was sure proud that Christmas when my brother got a red metal hockey net built stronger than anything you could buy, probably even in the NHL, and my grandfather told everyone how we brought the cot home together, and then downplayed the fact that he was the one who transformed an old cot into a hockey net.
I had so many fond memories as we would often stay with my grandparents' when we'd come into the city, but probably the most important was the Godly example they set. From a young child I remember sitting at the breakfast table, everything ready to eat, waiting for my grandfather to finish reading devotions. I remember hating the wait which seemed like forever on the mornings that my grandmother served cracklings (which is like tiny bits of pork fried in lard until they're crispy then strained out to get the dripping lard off and scooped up with bits of bread...I know amazing my grandfather made it to 88 eating like that). As I got older I'd try to listen a little more to the devotions, sometimes more successfully than others, but it taught me the importance of spending time with the Bible instead of letting it go dusty on a shelf. My grandparents both lived as Christian examples, but I told the congregation that the best Christian example was the love my Papa demonstrated for his grandchildren. He not only loved us unconditionally, he treasured us. And it didn't matter what we did or where we went, he was always so happy to see us. And he was so proud of all of us. When I was in Junior High I flew out for a week to meet them in Arizona where they spent part of the winter, and all week he walked about bursting with pride about his granddaughter in for a visit. In recent years, whenever I'd visit him at the care home, or the hospital, anyone who walked in the room would be subjected to "this is my granddaughter Tanya, she's a nurse", and many of them had obviously heard about me from him before I arrived. He bragged about all his grandchildren that way, because he was so filled with love for us, that it overflowed. And no matter how long it had been since we'd been to see him we were always welcomed with an "I'm so glad you came". I can't think of a better example of how God feels about us, and that God not only loves you, He treasures you.