It's been a bit of a long week here. Despite the fact that I'm only thirty-one (I promise!) I've been dealing with some really excruciating back pain, which means that I haven't been able to adventure and play with my boys much--or even pick them up, unless it's absolutely necessary. Honestly, it's been a real bummer, and something of a kick in the pants because it is forcing me to lay down and be still when I don't want to (can you hear my whining as you read this?). By yesterday afternoon, we all needed a fun pick-me-up and a few laughs. So we made edible finger paint.
This idea came from a wonderful blog called Makes and Takes that is all about easy crafts and food prep for kiddos. The mom behind it is a teacher, and she offers all sorts of ingenious tips about making activities for children extra engaging and fun. This particular project is case in point. Although finger painting is (theoretically) a great activity for little ones, it is off limits for us because my young goat-child would eat it...all. But this paint is made out of yogurt! So we explored color and had an afternoon snack at the same time. Which means that this project also gets points for efficiency. Bam.
Big Brother and I started the project by making the "paint" while Little Brother was napping.
We mixed food coloring with vanilla yogurt, although the original calls for plain.
I wouldn't do that again--effectively, I taught my children that paint tastes really, really good.
And ultimately, Big Brother was so enamored with the taste that he abandoned his artwork and started shoveling the paint into his mouth.
But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.
To prevent a sure disaster, Big Brother and I moved the project outside before we woke Little Brother. I laid out plain white paper for both boys, and after bringing the sweet little man on the scene, I demonstrated using fingers to decorate the paper. (Side note: a friend suggested this weekend that we dress him up as Bam Bam for Halloween--does anyone still know about the Flintstones? Big Brother is going to be Spiderman and I'm not sure that a spiderlike superhero and a prehistoric whirling dervish can really hang together--what do you think?). Here's what Little Brother did first:
And you know what? I was FINE with that. Because it was yogurt. And nevermind the fourteen drops of green food coloring that I put into it, because I planned for this. Right?
Big Brother, to his credit, really did start with individual colors. It's just that I forgot to give him water to wash his hands between bowls, and that he kept getting distracted by slurping the vanilla goodness off of his fingers. For all of you moms who are wondering whether this color made a second appearance (if my meaning isn't obvious, don't think about it), it did. Yuck. Moving on...
Little Brother, ironically, didn't eat so much. He was more curious--studious even.
But he had no interest in the paper.
Once Big Brother had succeeded in making brown yogurt soup on his paper, he moved on to "living art." I gave him an eyebrow, and he said, "But I just want to give him a hug." I'm starting to realize that I missed a lot by being an only child.
And so our experiment with edible finger paint devolved into sheer yogurt madness. Baby Goat wandered off to spread his paint love to the front porch furniture, and I abandoned the camera to save him from sidewalk chalk ingestion. Then, in a move that sealed my fate as a boy mom forever, I turned the hose on my yogurt covered children and washed them from head to toe. They squealed and I laughed, and I thought to myself, "what a peaceful, happy afternoon this is. Thank you, Lord, for giving me joy in the mundane, messy moments."
And THEN it all crashed. Dripping water, but clean, Big Brother went back for a last mouthful of paint. I didn't notice because I was trying to get Little Brother to walk into the house (remember that I'm trying to avoid picking him up) and was therefore thrilled when Big Brother helped me out by sprinting into the house and towards the bathtub. Then I found the paint on the light switch, the floor, the shower curtain...and my calm started to unravel.
I didn't show it at first. I took deep breaths as Little Brother fought me on the changing table and screamed about going into his play yard while I bathed his hero. Deep breaths turned to firm instructions while I was making dinner, long sighs, shaking my head. Then when I realized that Jim wasn't going to be home on time, my comments turned more biting. When I finally unstrapped Little Brother from his high chair, he tried to throw himself over the arm rail, and that's when I yelled. On the world's terms, it wasn't so bad--isn't this every mother's late afternoon reality? The nasty part was what was going on inside: anger, even resentment of my children for threatening my control over the afternoon, the house, and the atmosphere of our home.
I've mentioned this before, I think. I cling to control like a golden calf. I want control over my circumstances, my children, my appearance, what others think of me, my performance...the list could go on, and on, and on. One way of saying it is that I made a "law" for myself long ago that I had to maintain the reins in my life to ensure that everything would work out exactly how I wanted. Having babies, of course, called my control into question--in fact, my children reject my control over them every day. But I still reach for it, and what's worse, I still punish them with my anger because they stand in the way of something God never intended me to have.
After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Galatians 3:3
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
It is such good news that God's love is not connected to following the rules. As I look at these pictures and am reminded of the curdled, clumpy, brownish mess in my heart, these verses help me breathe. I want to throw off the chains and bask in the reality that He is pleased with me just because of Jesus. And to love my kids just one iota more like that than I did yesterday. Help me, Lord.