finn the pirate

Every night before bed, Finn gets a story, and he often picks the subject. Many times of late, the requested story has been something along the lines of "Finn, the bad pirate" or "Finn, the scary pirate." Those adjectives are needed, by the way, because of my tendency to "tame" the pirates or sharks or other scary characters into someone who actually helps people or is really nice underneath or whatever else I can come up with as I struggle to stay awake. (Really, have you ever tried telling a story while you are falling asleep? Some crazy stuff comes out, let me tell you ... )
Pirates as subject matter are, in a way, a compromise to begin with--sometime last year, after Finn started preschool and got introduced to superheroes and guns, he developed that very normal boy fascination with fighting. And while I respect his need to work out issues around power and helplessness and control and even just the thrill of making a loud noise, I'm certainly not comfortable with the way that much of commercial culture deals with these things. Pirates, though, feel a bit tamer to me--at least the swash-buckling, romanticized pirates of lore, with treasure maps and a parrot on the shoulder. I'm conveniently ignoring the all-too-real pirates of today with machine guns.
So Finn was determined to be a pirate this year for Halloween. When he also requested that Willa be his parrot, and started talking about making a treasure box to hold the candy, and maybe even turning the wagon into a boat, I couldn't resist. And once we had his costume all together (just pulled out of our closets and dress-up bin), I saw something that made me appreciate anew the benefits of Halloween, and even of dressing up as a "scary" character. He put on his fringed, torn up pants and shirt, his boots and a scarf for a belt, and brandished his homemade wooden sword, and a transformation took place. He walked with a bit of a swagger, he started talking tough, he grew muscles and inches and confidence.
The pirate stories I tell are still all about redemption. No matter how bad or scary they start out, I'm always going to find a way to turn things upside down, or at least introduce a little complexity. And here's the best part--this story-telling practice is changing me too, reminding me every night that no matter how bad or scary a situation or a person looks, God can always change things. My job is just to stay awake.


birthday fun

A little one has had a birthday around here, and we celebrated in fine, low-key style. Finn heard a story this fall (from Sparkle Stories, an audio story subscription we've fallen in love with) about a brother working on a gift for his sister, and ever since he's been excited about making something himself for Willa. He was full of big ideas (talking robots, for one) but we managed to guide those ideas into something doable--furniture for her new doll house--and with some helpful parental prep, he was able to do it.
Together, we made a pumpkin cake, opened a few presents, restrained an excited big brother from helping too too much, and made a fire for the eating of said cake.

      Afterwards we went to the park for some exploration along the creek, until the little miss came within inches of being knocked out and we realized we were right in the path of the frisbee golf course--an all-too-appropriate situation for her birthday, seeing as her life has been a series of falls, accidents, and near-misses.
      Along with her birthday has come an explosion of language--"self", "mine" and "no" are daily hourly heard, but so are "fun!" (generally after some daring and dangerous activity that send Matt or I running) and "chat" --what she likes to do when papa comes home. She keeps us all laughing, that girl, and we all live to hear her deep belly laugh. Sweet Willa, we love you so. Happy Birthday.