Our Family

Our Family
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my hearts trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. ~ Psalm 28:7

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rendered speechless

Recently, Chris and I have found some awesome documentaries on the Wii Netflix channel. Now, before I continue, I promise this story gets much more interesting than your current image of the two of us entering middle age, watching documentaries as we wistfully remember the good ole days. Wait for it.....

As I was saying, we've somehow managed to reclaim some time after the kids go to bed, and with the garbage they put on cable, we've resorted to Netflix. So far, so good. So good, in fact, we've had a ton of opportunities to teach the kids some history (tons of National Geographic stories offered) as well as some really cool science. We just watched March of the Penguins, which, while it was an awesome program, did have some emotional highs throughout. You can probably guess here...Nature, predators, cute little penguin chicks....Kevin actually said, as he watched the penguins dive back into the ice "like bullets going super fast" that he wanted to BE a penguin. Until the momma penguin was eaten by a leopard seal. That changed his mind fast. He and Ryan went to bed, whimpering, and I had to remind them "I am not a penguin Momma and there is no seal that wants to eat me".   They seemed content enough once they remembered, indeed, I am not a penguin. 

Strike one for the brainstorm we parents have to expose our kids to educational documentaries.

We started to watch a really cool program last night, Man on Wire. It's about a (nutty) Frenchman who is a wire walker (like the tightrope dudes in the circus).  Back in 1974 (the 1900's, according to my kids....hmmmm, they are accurate, I guess, in saying that, but really? Does it have to sound so ancient?) this particular nutty Frenchman Philippe Petit decided, after crossing various other too high buildings,
he MUST cross a wire between the twin towers. (Yes, he actually said  he MUST.)

Now, I will digress a moment. In order to fully appreciate this story you must understand a few things about Chris and me.
  • First, we are adamantly against cable TV. Just ask our families. They've grumbled through years of us only having rabbit ears and then basic cable, which we HAD to get for internet service.
  • Two, we aren't that well versed in entertainment media; this simply means we have no idea which teen singer is dating who, which reality show just sent someone with a rose to live on a deserted island, or what movie was up for whatever is the newest, grandest award.
  • Three, we are,in fact, kinda dull and nerdy book types. (He's MUCH more of a nerd that me....he IS a science geek, you know! The title sterility assurance manager/microbiologist just kind implies "science nerd"!) 
  • Four:  We do love a good movie. One of our favorite date/family time things to do is watching a movie together. We thought we hit the jackpot with our newest delve in documentaries.

And now, back to "Man on Wire" and the "wait for it" moment I promised you.

So, today, at dinner, Chris and I were talking about this program, and Steph pipes in, "Hey, we learned about this guy at my old school. He walked across the two tallest buildings on a wire."  She was intrigued, and wanted to know what the show was like. We told her (and the others, who were now listening intently, the idea of getting to watch TV on school night seeming to be pretty appealing) that we only watched 1/2 of it, and were planning to watch the rest tonight. She (and the rest of them) were excited, so we said, sure, why not!

When it comes to movies, we are always checking out whether things are OK for our kids to watch (http://www.pluggedin.com/ is one of our fave sights, but also use http://www.imdb.com/ ). However, we had already started watching this true life story, and hadn't seen/heard anything we would shy from. We did consider our sanity in allowing Kevin to watch anything that could encourage his Evel Knievel spirit, but we pushed those thoughts aside. (I'm sure this will come back to bite us later...look for it in a later post, no doubt!)

The nutty Frenchman and his crew were entertaining at times, as they plotted how they would actually accomplish this task. There was some dialogue in French which = BORED kids. But there was some cool wire walking scenes on top of buildings and bridges=FASCINATED kids. Success, right? They was a lot of talk of the science (at least from their dad) about how this wire walking event would have to take into account wind, humidity , blah blah, blah.....(I never really cared much for the science behind the man!).

And then, one of his crew mentioned pot. As in, the kind one smokes before he assists his friend in walking across a wire suspended between the Twin Towers. Not something any of the kids picked up on, but still something that made Chris and I less than comfortable. We cruised by this one, but we are now at strike two for the brainstorm thing.

Wait for it. There's a tad bit more.

So, we get to the climactic scene of the wire walking event. The kids are amazed. Thrilled. Flabbergasted. So are we. This guy takes 45 minutes, makes 8 back and forth walks, lies down, kneels down. CRAZY! AND our kids get to see the twin towers. Not images of towers marred by airplanes sticking in their side, with flumes of smoke pouring forth. Those tower images are all they really seem to know. Especially since Steph was born two months after 9/11. Lots of memorabilia from her birth year include those photos. Instead, they are seeing these gleaming newly built towers, they saw the construction process outlines in the film, the saw the final building, they saw the nutty Frenchman walk atop those most amazing buildings. We were all talking at once as we saw the Frenchman finish his task and be arrested for his nuttiness (see, there is even a lesson here. Kevin, don't break the rules!)

That "wait for it " moment enters right now.

The nutty Frenchman is next seen talking to reporters and then, a split second later, as he describes a young woman who was so intrigued by his feat, the black and white scene cuts to a young man and young woman in fast forward motion, like an old time silent film.....TAKING OFF THEIR CLOTHES!!!!! HOLY CROW!!!! WHAT JUST HAPPENED HERE?!?!?!?

Strike three.....and the "worst parent of the year award goes to...."

Our girls are cracking up as "those two people are getting naked and having a pillow fight" Chris hurdles a kid or two and pole vaults the recliner to turn off the TV. But not before the initial image of two figures disrobing are burnt onto the blasted 52 inches of LCD screen in our living room!!!!!!!

Do we react or try NOT to react, so as to defuse the situation. Folks, we were watching a documentary, full of facts and nutty french people performing dangerous daredevil stunts, never expecting this little blip on the scene. OF COURSE WE REACTED!!!  Shock and awe, people. Shock and awe. I was laughing and crying at the same time. In disbelief. They took a good thing, and had to add that? FOR WHAT PURPOSE? Just to make other parents out there become Olympian gymnasts before their kids see that 5 seconds of unnecessary skin???

The kids are now in bed, and we are both still shaking our heads. Really? They HAD to go that route? It was an hour and a half program, and at 1hour and 24 minutes we had a grenade thrown at us. Tune in tomorrow for the cleanup. I'm sure there's bound to be some repercussions from this one. UGH.

Unfortunately, after the fact, I see that there was a rating on this....apparently it wasn't just a standard old documentary type thing...it was actually a movie. Rated PG 13. Sigh. .

So, I guess the moral of the story is, if you are coming to the Justi house, we suggest you bring a book. Cuz, that there TV, well, she's worn out her use, and it looks like we're gonna have to put her down.

Still in shock,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oh, The Way They Grow!

First born girl, Steph

Second little lady, Melanie
Most recently, I've had the pleasure (said in a slightly sarcastic tone) of seeing the difference between my boys and girls become glaringly obvious. Despite the fact that we are technically years from the teen turmoils of having young women in the house, our sweet little ladies have been really having some trouble reigning in their emotions. As a girl myself (yes, I must admit, I too am a girl.....) I can understand their plight, their drama, their emotions and their tears. Of course, the issues the girls have versus the ones that send me to my emotional breaking point are strikingly different, since, according to them, even though I'm a girl, I'm a MUCH OLDER girl . Whatever (as I ignore the obvious knock on my age). In the end, we're all still girls.

That's why my boys have been giving me such a burst of fresh (non-estrogen tainted) air recently.  Overlooking the basic need for the two of them to CONSTANTLY be in motion, usually involving wrestling one another in some shape or form, the boys have been on the up swing of the parenting pendulum. (Hey, I'm just beyond thankful that there even IS an upswing to that pendulum!).

First born boy, Ryan
For some reason, thank you Lord, there is balance in our world as the boys are my newest best buds, my biggest admirers. The girls, at the moment, are all about dad, their biggest superhero. And you're not getting any complaints here. I'm glad he can be their "number one". It's great. And besides, the girls are surely aware that I'm (as a girl myself, remember) fully equipped at knowing when the tears flow, sometimes, just sometimes, those tears have an ulterior motive. Enter Dad and that age old cliche' about wrapping around little fingers. This is definitely where being a girl/Mom plays to my advantage: I know more than they think I do about how we girls work! 

Second son, and baby, Kevin
 The boys, of course, well, they still look to Dad as hero, too. And they wrestle their little brains out with him. So once the robust energy is spent, I get the leftover snuggles, the tender moments, the sweet expressions of love from my 5 year old and 4 year old. I get the full day with the littlest one, unaware of the world's influences yet. I get almost the whole day with my sweet 1/2 day kindergartner, who is always so eager to be home at lunchtime with Mom and little brother. I get the book reading, the song singing, the quiet resting time with them.

And I as write this, something becomes very clear.

I realize, with a little angst, with some wistfulness, that some of my brood is growing up. That my mothering needs look differently right now with my girls, as they are in the midst of elementary school learning, friends, and struggles to test the waters of new independence. I realize that my boys are still so little. And I realize that as time marches on, or maybe more appropriately, steam rolls right over me, what I know about mothering is changing ever so slightly. I'm no longer a mom to toddlers and infant; in fact, I'm barely a mom of pre-schoolers anymore....right about here, mybreathing accelerates, my anxiety level raises a notch....

The littlest of littles as new baby arrives over 4 years ago

4 little kids growing big, see the show, watch them grow

I realize that it was just a few years ago that my little girls were MUCH MORE little than they are now. And that each day, they continue to grow up. And my boys are on that same path of growing away from "little". Suddenly, I'm overcome with the need to reach out and wrap my arms so tightly around them all, to make sure that they are just within my arms reach at all times. And then the more rational (translation: sane) side of me takes over. THIS. IS. MY. JOB. TO. LET. THEM. GO. AND. LET. THEM. GROW. (A slight whimper/whine at this point....but whyyyyy is it so hard??) And then, gently, my whiney cries are answered softly by the echoes in my heart: these children are on loan to me; they are mine for a short time.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
~Matthew 19:14

So I stop to remember what God has called me to do, and I humbly ask His help in letting me know what my changing role of mothering my growing children looks like.  I stop to remind myself that as the girls change and grow, that so must I change and grow. I don't want to be left in the dust, that's for sure! But I will honestly tell you, these moments of childhood with the boys, these moments where I still have them in my arms so much of the day; these moments will be more focused, more treasured. I'm excited to embrace what this new stage of parenting holds for us. (Yes, even the tearful, emotionally turbulent years of parenting two girls!) But, for the moment,  I will hold onto the NOW for as long as I can! I will make it a point to find ways to mother my growing girls (and yes, that will mean squeezing in even more snuggles; let's face it, we ALL need snuggles!) I will look back with love and sweetness at the passing of being a mom to tiny little babies, and I will look forward with joy and excitement to being a mom to tiny little, ever growing children, who will, someday, *gasp*, grow into teens and even adults~ And maybe, they, too, will be blessed with the struggles and challenges of watching their own children grow...

And, in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, I leave you with this thought:
Dr Seuss Image Dr Seuss Clipart Cat in the Hat
“Don’t cry because it’s over.
Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss