Jordan made a recent discovery on the school bus.

“Yes, I stuck my tongue on something and it didn’t hurt at first, but then I wiped my thumb on the metal and did it again and my tongue stuck and it hurt.” Jordan explained.

His sister, Maddi, added an important detail, “Jordan’s tongue was bleeding.”

“A little bit,” Jordan interrupted, working hard to minimize one of those life-defining, childhood, Christmas Story experiences that are tried once and then never again repeated.

We are learning many new things this brand new year. Some things tried and true. Other lessons that can only come from new beginnings.

Like acceptance. With four children in the house, learning how to share bathrooms and bedrooms require patience. With my new step-guinea pig, Tater, I am learning a whole new definition of tolerance. Growing up without pets, Mr. Tater Tot is a stretch for me. Steve and the kids, however, think Tater is great fun and love leaving the house saying, "Later Tater." I must admit I have been  amused at my children's recent prayers for Tater's little guinea pig friends that are eaten in Peru as a delicacy.

Like forgiveness. Nothing in life is perfect. Neither me or you or new marriages or old ones. I have been married two weeks and have found several occasions for saying, "I'm sorry, I don't blame you, I understand, Please clarify what you mean." Blending families is a process. Living with another adult after doing life solo for five years is another rhythm to rehearse. Combining closests, sorting stuff and merging different ways of doing things has its rough edges. Change, even when it is wonderful and wanted is still a challenge. Forgiveness means compassion.

Like love. Finding and loving the quirky things about all of these new people in our lives is a bonus to having a big family. I'm enamored by these two new girls (ages 8 and 10) that have doubled our family's population. They write notes to Santa that include questions like, "Santa, are you on a diet? Are you lactose intolerant? Do you like nuts in your cookies? Were you Santa your WHOLE life…and we mean your WHOLE life?" Last night we watched, "Cheaper by the Dozen Part 2" with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, a story about a family with twelve kids. Our kids asked Steve and I if we could adopt eight more. I think my eyes bugged out just like guinea pig Tater's constant expression. Four is enough for now.

Each part of family life is a discovery. One about each other, our kids, our spouse. And with most frequency, one about ourselves.

Maddi and Tater

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