Archives for category: Cortland Paige

My kids were being pretty annoying in the car last week. Cortland has figured out Harper’s annoyance triggers, not that Harper hides them super well, but, in no time at all, Cort has become an expert in exploiting her sister’s weaknesses. Here is how it went: We were driving home from gymnastics and Cortland started saying, “I’m five! I’m five!”. Harper, who actually is five, became quickly agitated and started yelling, “You’re not five! You’re TWO! YOU’RE TWO!!” As any other parent can attest, Harper’s tantrum reaction only served to encourage Cortland’s insistence of being five. “MOM! Are you listening to her? She’s saying she’s five! She’s NOT five! She’s NOT! She’s two! She’s saying she’s FIVE!” Tears. Balled up fists. Screaming. Kicking my seat in frustration.

That's right. These angels.   Photo by Brighten Photography

That’s right. These angels.
Photo by Brighten Photography

I could not believe how ridiculous the scene had become. I talked Harper down eventually and somehow was able to reason with her. We talked about how I am the final authority on how old Cortland is. I was there when she started being a person. She wouldn’t be here without me. Just because Cortland says she’s five doesn’t make her five. She is completely, totally, and helplessly obligated to the same system of time and counting and aging that we are all tied to. She doesn’t get to skip ahead or fall behind. Maybe she wants to be five, but she is two. Maybe she says she is five, but she is two. Maybe she even really believes she is five. Know what? She’s still two. I am the final authority on this topic. I know the real truth, despite what anybody says. So, Harper, trust that what is truth will continue to be.

The whole conversation stuck in my thoughts later for quite some time. I noted that her behavior is not far from lots of adults I know, at times even me. We throw (super annoying) adult sized tantrums (typically on social media) when our feathers get ruffled over something another mere man says or decides. We who are in Christ should know by now that God is our final authority. He knows the truth. He was there when this all started and we wouldn’t be here without him. A man saying he’s a woman does not make him a woman. Legislation going into effect governs the law of the land; it does not govern the law written on our hearts. We look ridiculous with balled up fists, screaming, red-faced, kicking the back of God’s seat, “Did you hear that?! Do you hear what they’re saying?? It’s not true! It’s NOT TRUE!”

Maybe you’re not a tantrum thrower (and thank you), but you feel anxiety mounting when you hear unsettling news, whether it’s national news or a disagreeable set of views from someone close to you. Don’t stop after the first verse of John 14, but that’s what I’ll include right here. From Jesus: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.” I have to include verses 16 and 17 because they’re so interesting: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” My takeaway here? If I’m getting all up in arms or letting worry nag at me and trouble my heart, I’m showing a lack of faith in God’s sovereignty and a fundamental distrust that Jesus is who he says he is.

Once more: We who are in Christ should know by now that God is our final authority. Not the President. Not the Courts. Not strangers, not friends, not family, not even our emotions with all their twists and turns. If you don’t know what’s real and what’s not, ask the One who is Truth to reveal it to you. You will waste a lot of time finding out the Truth if you’re sifting through talk shows and blogs and articles and newsfeeds. Just go straight to the source. God knows the real truth, despite what anybody else says. So, friends, trust that what has always been truth, is yet truth, and will continue to be.

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I just read Matt Walsh’s latest blog post, in which he writes a letter to his young daughter to tell her that she’s beautiful; and to warn her that culture will try to tell her otherwise so that it can make money off of her. That is all completely true. To be clear, I would NEVER pick a fight with Matt Walsh because A) He would debate me into a hole, and B) Although he can be quite abrasive, I respect his honesty. I don’t disagree with his message (or the TONS of other writers on this subject) about making sure girls know that the Hollywood standard of beauty is skewed, fake, empty and gross. I do tell my girls they’re beautiful and I talk a lot about finding beauty in our differences. They’re too young to have observed much pressure to be “perfect” via magazines, commercials, etc. I imagine it will be a heartbreaking process to watch them go through when they’re older and wiser; I hope Matt (my husband Matt, that is) and I are guided by God’s hand as we walk with them through that.

I get it. Important things for women to know TRUTH about: Real beauty (IE: inner beauty, lovely character, pure hearts), modesty (IE: bikinis, short shorts, cleavage), dangers of vanity (IE: needless plastic surgery, too much makeup, overspending on stuff), and pressure (IE: purity, dating, not being taken advantage of). YES. Teach the truth about these things. They’re real and important and hold value to women and girls.

Let me just ask a serious question, though: Is this ALL we think being a female boils down to?

Because these are the themes I see impressed on girls over and over again. My frustration is this: We say we need to tell girls that they’re bigger and better than the way they look and then we only talk about the way they look. Even if we’re saying “love yourself as you are” when we talk about bodies (which is positive), we are totally neglecting the depth and complexity and wealth of wonderful that comprises a woman (which is a CRYING SHAME).

This is maybe the easiest way for me to express this: I want my girls to know that WHO they are is powerful. They can lead others because of their ideas, their skills, their words, their brains. They can serve others because they are kind, compassionate, empathetic, selfless, joyful, healthy, and hard-working. And they can shine a light on God because they can do all these things FOR HIS GLORY. Their faces and bodies are only the vessel through which they do all of these ACTUALLY IMPORTANT things.

You know the Dove ads and that recent Always commercial? Oh man. So good. So real. I bawl like a baby because I see exactly where the women in our culture have wandered in our perception of who we are as a gender. I LOVE how the young girls in that Always ad are FREE and they’re happy and they’re confident. It’s so sad that, as we grow, we learn that we’re judged for just about everything we are and so we shrink into tiny, intimidated robot people. Confined little boxes that squelch LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY. We aren’t meant to live like that, friends!

You’re BIGGER and BETTER than your body or face. You have more to offer than that. Parents, teachers, ministers: Let’s all stop concentrating solely on the physical and superficial when we talk about girls and start emphasizing the real, complex, magical traits that make us who we are. Stop discussing whether or not wearing makeup makes us “holy” and start talking about the ways we are improving our families, schools, friends, and communities. Please stop harping about clothes and promote bigger ideas about what we should be PURSUING instead of the shorts and swimsuits we should be avoiding. I want my girls to FIRST RUN TOWARD the good things instead of always RUNNING AWAY from bad things. If the only thing I do is warn them that the world is going to judge the way they look, I’m not only minimizing their complete, whole, AMAZING person-hood, I’m pointing them in the wrong direction of where I hope they end up; they’ll forever be running scared instead of running their race of FAITH.

I’m telling you, these two…they’re the BEST! I hope they never grow up. But, when they inevitably do, I hope they understand that they have SO MUCH to share with the world around them and that their flesh is simply their working resource with which to do it.

Harper on the 4th of July

Harper on the 4th of July

Cortland's first lake experience

Cortland’s first lake experience

This girl was getting after her blackberries last night, as you can see from her purple-stained face. But don’t let that sweet little smile fool you!

She likes blackberries. And eating in general.

She likes blackberries. Well, and eating in general.

Cortland is so spicy lately. If you’ve spent any time around Cortland, you know her face is rather expressive. When she was really small, she mostly showed us happy, smiley faces. Now that she’s older, she has added several more faces to her arsenal, and a big chunk of them are meant to display displeasure.

Offended face Cortland

Offended face Cortland

And the things she tries to get away with! Examples:

She looks me in the eye and bites me as I’m feeding her (if you know what I mean), watching my face and waiting for the inevitable “OUCH!”. Then she’ll furrow her brow and duck-face her lips, whining at me like she’s offended that I reacted to her heartless chomp. I have to stroke her cheek and comfort her to get her to go back to eating. Yesterday, while we were at a store, she kept angry screaming. Not crying-screaming. Super high-pitched shrieks to broadcast to fellow shoppers that her mean mom wasn’t letting her chew on the cardboard box of an item we weren’t buying. You should hear how many times a day, “No, mam!” is said in her direction (and often followed up by Harper piping in, “See, Mom? I told ya Tortland was a naughty baby!”).

Maybe I’m passing spicy on through the milk because I’m definitely more reactive and irritable after my second child than I was after Harper (who was the most chill baby E.V.E.R.). Cortland has been sleeping through the night since her second month, but the last two weeks she’s been waking up between 3am and 4am. I’m thinking (hoping) she’s cutting teeth or growth-spurting…something that will come and go quickly. Anyway, I am cranky (terribly cranky) when I haven’t had enough sleep. I went to bed last night at 10:30 and C woke up at 11:30. So I fed her. And then Harper woke me up at 2:30am to help her in the bathroom. And then, right on schedule, C woke up again at 4:00. I pitched such a fit when I heard her at 4am. First, I let her cry for about 20 minutes before getting afraid that she’d wake H. When I decided to finally go get her, I scooped up the blankets off my lap and threw them back down on the bed with an exasperated, “humph!”. I stomped so angrily out of the room that Matt actually got up in a hurry to slow me down and monitor me. I brought the baby back to our bed, where she proceeded to bite me THREE times without remorse. Sheeeeeeeshhhh.

Upside-down Cortland

Upside-down Cortland

And then she’s as much sweet as she is sour and I forgive all her antics. She’s a wild one, though. An envelope pusher, if you will. It is obvious she knows when she’s about to do something she knows she shouldn’t; she does it anyway. While looking me in the eye. Lord, have mercy. The flip side of her expressiveness is that she’s so spirited and happy most of the time. She’s the most friendly, “conversational” baby I’ve ever seen. And she gives hugs on purpose…out of love. As in, she’ll give me a big, thankful hug when I rescue her from her bed. Or she’ll give Matt a big squeeze with a gappy-toothed grin when he gets home from work. She howls laughing at all of Harper’s jokes and funny faces in the backseat. Awh, and look at those sweet, soft curls. Sugar and spice, that one.

Curly Cue Cortland

Curly Cue Cortland

Blinking contest

Staring contest

Ode to Grandad. Here is what the last 12ish hours have looked like since the granddaughters arrived into town. Grandad is clearly smitten and the two of them are clearly aware of the situation (case in point: Harper had ice cream for lunch).

Grandad giving valuable advice.

Grandad giving valuable advice.

Playing Christmas tunes

Playing Christmas tunes

I bought my first thing of rice cakes a couple of weeks ago. Holy cow. I’ve never eaten something that could so easily pass as an inedible object. It’s Styrofoam, guys. I actually googled the manufacturer of the product to make sure there weren’t any pending class action lawsuits accusing the company of actually just selling packing peanuts, lightly salted and then delicately formed into perfect circles. I couldn’t find any real dirt, just other people freaking out about how tasteless these “cakes” are (and, yeah…the word “cake” certainly implies you’ll be at least marginally satisfied). At any rate, after the first bite, I lathered on a nice, thick layer of peanut butter, followed by a honey drizzle. Much better. Both girls tried them (and without any flavor enhancers like PB or honey) – chomp them down like cupcakes.

That's rice cake shrapnel on her face, by the way - not a rogue tooth.

That’s rice cake shrapnel in her mouth, by the way – not a rogue tooth.

She’s trying to be all cute and convincing that rice cakes are actually good.

Then Harper served us tea to wash the cakes down.

Then Harper served us tea to wash the cakes down.

Cracking each other up.

Cracking each other up.

Stop worrying about your life – your food and clothes and all the other things that cloud your vision. The birds don’t fret about where their food will come from. The birds aren’t anxious about where they’ll sleep. All the things they need, God has made available to them. And you? If God cares so much for the birds, won’t He make sure His children are taken care of? You can’t improve your situation by worrying, so stop…always ALWAYS seek God’s kingdom first – and His righteousness. When you do, you’ll never want for anything else.

Paraphrased from Matthew 6.25-34

Harper made a birdhouse to help us remember that if God’s eye is on the sparrow, He certainly watches over us.

Harper making her birdhouse nice and colorful.

Harper making her birdhouse nice and colorful.

Cortland wanted in on the action.

Cortland wanted in on the action.

Stray paint

Stray paint on a pretty face.

Baby Wrestling

Harper announcing the contenders.

Harper announcing the contenders.

Ms. Kristee explaining the rules of the match.

Ms. Kristee explaining the rules of the match.

Someone is enjoying this more than the other.

Someone is enjoying this more than the other.

The knockout

The knockout.

Don’t worry, they’re still friends. He totally let her win. Everett is a gentleman like that. We are one lucky bunch to have friends like Jody, Kristee and Rett within walking distance of our home! Life as a stay-at-home mom sure got more fun when they moved into the neighborhood and started meeting us for park/walks/play dates during the day!

One other picture. The activity for our Advent theme tonight was a voice-guided, blindfolded obstacle course.

Cheating? I think so...

Cheating? I think so…