Now that Roo is almost three we have been slowly phasing out her pacifier. Otherwise known as a bippie. Not just any bippie, either. Her “good bippie”. Not to be confused with her “bad bippie” or her “new bippie”. She only gets to have it during sleep time. But occasionally I have found her hidden behind a door or behind the bed sneaking a few sucks. While I watch her unnoticed, she sucks it a couple seconds then puts it back up on my dresser. Crack baby.
I’ve seen those beautiful trees on Pinterest. The ones with burlap wrapped artfully around a 12 foot tall tree. Ones all sparkly with silver and teal. Ones aglow with thousands of lights and beads. Or the ones that appeal most to me. Rustic ones. Real pines. But rather than kick my kids out of the living room while I decorate the tree to my liking, we make it a whole family affair. Homemade ornaments. Minion ornaments. Gaudy ornaments. Ornaments that are falling apart that they just can’t bear to part with this year, maybe next year, or not. I hear squeals as ornaments are unpacked, and we relive the memories that come with each one. Everyone claimed a territory on the tree for hanging their personal ornaments. They tried to defend and outline their borders with strands of gold beads. However, when my tree began to resemble the board game, Axis and Allies, I drew the line. But there are still branches bending under the weight of 14 ornaments because children will insist they all hang together. And to be honest, I can relate. The first thing I do when I go to my parent’s house around the holidays, is find my ballerina ornament and make sure it is hanging in the “right spot”. Right next to my sister’s ballerina ornament. Then I check to make sure our angel ornaments are also hanging together. We have spent warm, cozy evenings singing carols by the light of the tree. And everyone is assured that their ornaments are just as cozy on the tree, hanging right where they should be.
This year we celebrated our Thanksgiving feast at a friend’s house surrounded by warm candlelight, loud laughter, tantalizing scents, secret smiles, nursing babies, steaming foods. It was such a blessed year, one day of thanks seems so trivial. Health. How often we take it for granted. Our children are so healthy and strong and happy. Money. How often we complain we don’t have enough. But the abundance in our home is almost grotesque. We have so much we forget what we have. Food. Irritated at the chore of making dinner each night? Um, how fortunate we are to have a stocked pantry and freezers. Friends. We are all flawed. We are all on a journey. But how sweet to travel this road of life with beloved friends by our side. Thank you, Jesus, for your abundant Goodness in our life.
We’ve had some big prayers answered around here lately. How assuring to know that there’s no need to worry, no need to fret. We do need to plan. We need to be faithful. But, ultimately, our days are in His hands. I don’t know about you. But that makes me sleep soundly at night. Well, at least for an hour at a time between nursing sessions. But that’s another post for another day. And no, wood chips are not the only thing I pray about!
This last week we were visiting my parents in Northern Illinois and we decided to take the kids downtown. It turned out to be a beautiful fall day in the city. We visited the Shedd aquarium and saw dolphins, whales, penguins, sharks, rays, and more. I love how everyone was totally into it. I didn’t spot one rolled eye, bored expression or sigh the entire day. This is where real learning happens. Watching. Witnessing. Observing. Questioning. Feeling. Listening. The kids got to pet a 40-year-old sturgeon. We saw huge white whales swim by gracefully. And the manta rays and sting rays! How cool are they??!! We saw the aquatic equivalent to the big city. A coral reef, teeming with life and activity. A hustling, bustling traffic jam of living things right in the middle of a huge “countryside” of virtually empty ocean space. One of my favorites was seeing little eels poking their heads out of the sand. It looked almost cartoonish. After the aquarium, we took advantage of the beautiful warm weather and walked to Millenium park. Pictures at the “bean” are always fun. The kids got to see Buckingham Fountain for the first time, although it was not filled with water so late in the year. Then we walked across the highway to the Maggie Daly park. What a treasure! This beautiful park, filled with fun slides, swings, towers, and bridges, right in the middle of the city! My kids can never get enough of climbing, jumping, running, racing, yes, falling. Many of the cautious city-dwellers cast an anxious eye as my kids climbed up the bridge supports and scaled the tower walls. Many of my kids had never been to Chicago before and it was a fantastic day filled with new experiences!
The key to being relaxed and at peace is acknowledging and embracing our insufficiencies. I cannot do it all. I am not expected to do it all. I am only called to be faithful. Day by day. I cannot create faith in my children. I cannot guarantee their success or happiness. I can only do what I am called to do. Love them. Discipline them. Teach them. Nurture their wonder. Delight in them. Faithfully. Day by day. Whew! I’m glad the future does not rest on my shoulders. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
We were disappointed that, due to construction, we couldn’t go to the top of the Arch. But it was breathtaking to see, nonetheless. Jack was scared to even go close to it. He pulled back and kept insisting, “I don’t want to go up!”. It’s nearly impossible to get a good picture, especially because it was almost dark and the flash kept wrecking the shots. But this one is pretty good. We’ll just have to make another visit after the construction is finished!
When I was 11, my grandparents took me on a trip down to Florida, over to New Orleans and back up to the mid-west. One of the most memorable moments of that trip, besides Cafe du Monde, was Lambert’s Home of the Throwed Rolls. I knew my kids would love the novelty of throwing anything, but especially food, and especially in a restaurant. So we made a point to stop by on our way to Kansas City. Our table was laden with good, Southern food. Peas and Macaroni. Ribs and fried chicken. Potatoes and gravy. And rolls. I think my kids kept eating them, just so the waiter would keep throwing them.