Lucas’ second birthday is just around the corner (really? already?) And I’ve known for some time that I really wanted to get him a play kitchen for his big birthday present. He has several sets of plastic food and loves to play with them, so I knew he’d love a kitchen!
Pinterest is a giant hole of “wouldn’t it be nice if I made…” and play kitchens are the pinnacle. I got it in my head that, with my design savvy and my husband’s architecture/carpentry skills, building a play kitchen out of an old entertainment center would be a breeze, not to mention cheaper and more awesome than a store-bought version.
We were right about one thing, it is more awesome. But mostly because we know how hard it was to make.
Hello kitchen! (oooooh. ahhhhh.)
Now for the process. We started with an old 80’s style entertainment center made of MDF, that I picked up from a warehouse in Irving for $35. So far so good.
We sanded, primed, and painted the original piece, plus two boards we picked up for the refrigerator and oven doors.
The next weekend we added the sink and a piece of pegboard to the back to make the whole thing more sturdy, and add a masculine touch to the kitchen.
For the sink, I grabbed an aluminum dog bowl from the local pet shop (and now Lucas begs me to go back to visit the mice).
The faucet was harder to come by, since I didn’t want to pay full price for a non-functioning faucet. I ended up driving out to Denton to the Habitat for Humanity ReSale store and found a used bathroom faucet with handles for $15.
Our third weekend was all about installation. Hinges and handles may sound easy, but apparently we didn’t think to take the hinge size into account when we measured our boards, so it took a little extra engineering (and a few tears).
I used some wooden plaques from Hobby Lobby for the burners - just gave them a coat of black chalkboard paint. Damien installed the white knobs with screws (and a little hot glue) so they turn, but can’t be pulled off.
We finished this past Sunday night and Lucas was THRILLED to finally be able to play with this project that had captured our attention. Monday morning he dutifully put all of his food in the refrigerator, then in the oven, then back in the fridge. I think this is going to be a well-loved toy and worth our blood, sweat and tears.
In conclusion, you should buy a play kitchen. Don’t believe Pinterest. ;)
Things I say to Lucas that I am sure God says to me:
"Go on in, I know it’s dark, I’ll turn on the light."
"You need to listen and obey the first time. I want you to be safe."
"Please eat this. You need food to grow strong."
In some areas, I think I may be a spiritual toddler - content to eat good food sporadically and obey when it is convenient. Parenting has a way of refining parts of my soul that I had forgotten about. Thanks, Lucas.
"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” - Ephesians 4:11-14
I thought I would have more time with my baby, but he has disappeared. In his place is a little boy. I used to smell your head and soak in every bit of baby-fresh scent, but now you smell like the outside - sweaty and warm and full of spring sunlight.
Nothing is slow with you. You run everywhere (except when you remember my pleas to use your walking feet) and eat food by the handfuls. Even your mind is quick, repeating the sounds and motions on which you will build your life’s language. Mama, meh-uk (milk), mieee (miles), moh (more). I treasure every word.
At the park, you tower over the other one-year-olds. As a sweet Chinese mother put it, you are a “Big Boy!” - much bigger than her petite daughter your same age. Your long limbs reach shelves and drawers I thought would be safe for six more months, but keep growing little one. I don’t mind.
I love our daily adventures. Most often you are content to accompany me to the grocery store, pointing out the bananas and oranges and milk, or on a stroll around a new part of our big city. And when I remember that you are now a little boy, we stop and find a grassy field with lots of rocks and sticks to collect.
You seem to have an opinion about everything already. I wonder where that came from? You make good use of the word “no” and have no qualms about letting me know when something displeases you. But you also laugh at almost everything Dada and I do to entertain you - your joy is completely contagious.
I can’t wait to find out more about you. What are you thinking about? What do you dream? What do you want to study and explore? Here’s to the upcoming 18-month milestone. We are in this together.
I love you,
I reserve the right to lose my faith in humanity.
I must also confess that I even put my faith there in the first place. As a member of humanity I should know better. I am all too familiar with the selfishness, bitterness, anger and even hatred present in my own flesh. And while I have also seen beauty, goodness and love on this earth, I am quick to forget that the source is not, and never was humanity. History has proven time and again that, left to our own devices, humans are deeply misaligned and ever on the verge of self-destruction.
And yet there is faith. Hope. Love. Broader and deeper and thicker and stronger than anything humanity could ever offer. I cannot and will not lose faith in the Creator of all good things. The Redeemer of brokenness. The Sacrifice for depravity. The Comforter of sorrow. The Truth in the midst of confusion.
And I will not lose faith in His bride - the Church gathered together under the wings of Christ, empowered to bring the Kingdom to a wandering humanity. Called out by the Spirit to represent His Kingdom in a way that can only make sense in the framework of a holy, just and loving Lord.
All other ground is shifting sand.
It has been roughly three weeks since I’ve officially been a home maker (other variations on this title include house wife, stay-at-home-mom, or Senior Household Success Manager). The transition has been strange as I am flooded with gratefulness over the opportunity to stay home with Lucas all day long, but somehow really missing the structure and community of my familiar corporate world. In an office environment I was task driven, efficient, and decisive. Now that I am at home, I know those patterns still exist in my personality, but somehow I find myself struggling to do chores in a rational order or decide which day to visit the library. The lure of doing nothing seems so fresh and idyllic it is hard to ignore, but still there is a deep nagging for accomplishment.
What did you get done today, Mary?
Well, pretty much the same as yesterday - I fed Lucas, played with him, did some chores, ran some errands and spent too much time looking up recipes on Pinterest. You?
I am looking forward to the time where I either become the most awesome, efficient, achieving home maker ever, or stretch my definition of contentedness to include laying on the carpet while Lucas stacks books on top of me.
Most likely the latter. Add bookshelf to that list of titles.
Before I got pregnant, gave birth, and started raising my child, I had all sorts of theories and ideas. One year later and I am having a good laugh at myself and hoping for more wisdom in the coming years. Here are some of my lessons learned.
1. Letting him “Cry It Out” may seem cruel at 2 months, but it is completely logical for a squirmy, flailing 12 month old.
2. No processed foods is a lovely ideal, but then your child discovers cheese crackers and well, who makes their own cheese crackers?
3. Fantasies about a collection of all wooden and organic cotton toys have been replaced by a living room of battery sucking, noise-making, plastic contraptions.
4. Several hours of nap time on Saturdays to do household chores really means an hour of sitting on the couch thinking about all the things that need to be done, 15 minutes of checking twitter, 15 minutes of looking a photos of your child, and then 45 minutes of scrambling to get a load of laundry done.
5. “Sanitary” no longer means free of germs, it just means you put the binky in your mouth first after it fell on the floor.
All in all, I am very grateful for my husband and friends who have graciously laughed with me and encouraged me as I’ve figured a lot of things out along the way. Here’s to another year of growing along with Lucas.
Just before I married my exotic husband (Jamaican by nationality, Cuban/Indian/Scottish by heritage) we would have long conversations about what our multi-ethnic children would look like. I prayed that my children would never get my propensity for sunburns or my straight-as-a-stick hair. These prayers seem to have been answered with Lucas and his tan complexion and head full of curls.
I have adored every ounce of these curls, living vicariously through each one. But in practicality, I never thought much about how no one in my family has curly hair and I have no idea how to take care of it.
"How to care for a baby boy with curly hair"
(Yes, Drew. I always write long-tail search queries.)
Apparently I have been doing it all wrong.
1. Don’t brush curly hair. (Oops.)
2. Don’t shampoo curly hair every day. (Oops again.)
3. Don’t rub curly hair with a towel. (Did that too.)
Apparently I am supposed to use specially formulated detangler and a wide-tooth comb and trim it often and all sorts of other things that I never thought of. You mean to tell me his hair won’t just form perfect ringlets each morning? Like other things I have prayed for, curls also take some effort. Worth it? Yes.
Let me start by saying breastfeeding has been the most rewarding and most challenging thing I have ever done. I know there are mothers who are not able to breastfeed and so my experience continues to be layered with a grateful heart - but I need to recount it all, good and bad alike.
Even before I was pregnant I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I figured my boobs had to eventually serve their utilitarian purpose. Plus I’d heard the research and rationally it made sense - my body made milk for my baby that was healthy and free, so I should use it.
And then I found out that Lucas (sooner than I had imagined) would be on his way. I read articles, took classes, talked to other moms, and committed myself to breastfeed my darling boy for at least his first year of life. At this point I also decided to keep working full time after a brief maternity leave. I’ve always been a determined type of person (you can confirm that with my parents), so this act was more or less simply something I would set my mind to accomplish. It can’t be that difficult, right? Baby? Working? Breastfeeding? I felt the swell of generations of feminists behind me - this is what they worked for, right? We are women. We can do it all and have it all. Maybe.
When Lucas was born he very quickly fed and fed well. I was relieved beyond measure that he was able to nurse, and nothing satisfied me more knowing that I was able to produce sustenance for my son. Of course, there was the first night home where we both slept through his first night feed and I was certain I had caused permanent damage to my baby by letting him go more than three hours without eating. We both survived.
Knowing I had to go back to work after nine weeks, we set a schedule. Every three hours, night and day, Lucas ate and grew. As he got older we moved to every four hours during the day and once at night. Our routine was precious to me, and I honestly did not mind the two am wake-up call. It was our special time - peaceful and serene.
Then maternity leave ended and my 8-5 corporate job was looming in the foreground. I had practiced with my portable electric pump, I found a place at my office that didn’t have glass walls (not as easy as you’d think), and Lucas was willing to take a bottle. We were set.
[Now this is where I pause and profusely thank my mother who quit her job as a nurse to stay home and watch Lucas so I could go back to work full-time, and also my father who works from home and entertains his grandson at every break.]
Working complicated our perfect little routine. Night feeds lost their luster knowing that I had to get up early, and pumping in a tiny changing room every afternoon was certainly not as glamorous as I’d imagined. Lucas also decided that he much preferred to eat from my left boob. My right boob, feeling pretty rejected, went on strike and produced a fraction of its original milk. But we pressed on.
The small frozen supply of expressed milk I created over maternity leave quickly vanished and my days are now counted in ounces. Three ounces here, four ounces there, staying up an extra hour to pump just an ounce more. Lunch hours are spent driving to feed Lucas then rushing back to work. I cherish the ability to see Lucas during my work day, but at the back of my mind is a batch of worries. Can I make enough milk for the day? What about tomorrow? What if I spill some? (Don’t cry over spilled milk…unless you spent 20 minutes pumping it from your body.) And of course, will Lucas ever agree to eat from right boob (aka the bad boob)? Whatever the answers, we are still set to make it a few more months. As tiring as it may be, breastfeeding still seems to be the best option and I am thankful it is even possible, thanks to grace and the good boob.
My dear little Lucas,
Today you turned nine months old. You have now been with us in our home the same amount of time you grew inside of me. This time has gone by so quickly, but especially the last two months - you have gone from learning to sit on your own, to crawling, to pulling yourself up in your crib. Watching you stand and wave and smile and laugh is the best thing I could ask for and I all I want to do is pause every moment and find a way (beyond photos) to capture it.
You are becoming an individual before my eyes and I am simultaneously amazed and frightened. I pray I will have the wisdom to guide your heart and show you the beauty and goodness we have been given, that you will know the faithfulness of God and learn to respond in faithfulness, and that your dad and I will encourage you to bear a bright light in a dark world.
You already bring us so much joy, sweet boy. Every curl and coo melts our hearts and we can not even dream of what our life would be without you. You are worth every late night and every missed social event. We cannot wait to see what comes in the next nine months, but I am very sure it will be a grand and marvelous adventure.
I loves you,
To all of the single women out there frantically refining a list of future husband characteristics, may I please present Exhibit A. After a year of marriage, I have found that the following may be more crucial than the more obvious list of traits I have gathered in the past.
- He sings the theme song to Love Boat while changing the baby’s diaper
- He does the dishes without being asked
- He never yells, even when you do something dumb
- He laughs at/with you when you do something dumb
- He makes your family like his own
- He waits to have breakfast with you every morning
- He waters your plants so no one knows about your black thumb
- He is ok when you fall asleep on the couch during a movie
- He gets up early each morning to pray and ask for wisdom
- He artfully arranges the food on plates when he makes dinner
- He hangs his clothes in rainbow order
- He doesn’t mind when you change your mind once…or more than once
Sometimes you just don’t think about what is really important until it is right in front of you. Happy Anniversary, Damien.