Troopers Rescue a Birthday

Nothing hurts worse as a parent than to see your child hurt, whatever age they are.

watchingI wrote a post several years ago about how one of our sons invited some friends from school for a Christmas party. He’d never had a party of any kind, so we laid out some plans for what to eat, and I got the house ready, finished up our holiday decorating and ordered food from the BBQ place. The day before the party,  he came home looking dejected and announced that all the kids but one had canceled, so the party was off. He had gotten up the courage to do  it, kids had committed and then dropped out, one by one.

He emailed the one friend still planning to come to tell him it was off, but his friend said, bless his heart, “Hang on, wait, don’t cancel!” He got several others to come with him, and the party was saved. The kids had a great time, and our son will always have that memory of the get together. I was so grateful that all was not spoiled, thanks to the kindness of one boy.

A little guy, aged 10, in Arkansas had a birthday party planned by his mother, and 21 kids were invited. The excitement over things like this is off the charts for children that age. But the few who said they would come never showed that day. Just thinking of the child watching  and hoping, only to be disappointed, brings me to tears.

Then some state troopers heard about it, showed up a few days later and gave this little boy a birthday to remember! Here’s the story.

Thank you, kind troopers, for taking time out from your work to do this for a child. This is America at its best, and humanity at its finest. How we need more people like this to show kindness. It can have an impact that lasts a lifetime.

A Beautiful Morning

SunriseIt’s 6:15am  and having been awake for an hour already, I shuffle back to the bedroom to make the bed. Tom is somewhere zooming down the interstate to work already. It looks like sunshine today according to the forecast.

I pull up the bedding on one side and make my way to the other side. Suddenly,  the comforter is thrown back, startling me. A small, rosy face appears and a girly laugh rings out.

“Surprised you, didn’t I?”

It’s Emmy, my early bird, up already on this Monday school morning. She’s all warm and sweet in her pink penguin nightgown, hair in frowzled disarray.

Our early rising buys us time to  play a bit. We discuss and experiment to find out which toe is most ticklish, which, of course, leads to lots of giggling. Em then talks about her bike and how excited she is to practice after school, so she can ride with her daddy on the bike trail near our house.

Emmy retrieves her navy school tights from the drawer to get dressed and laments the discovery of a small hole in one foot. “It’ll do for today, but who knows what it’ll look like tonight,” she says, rolling her eyes dramatically. For some reason, that makes us both laugh.

Face washed and her hair affixed with a bright pink clip,  we go to see about breakfast. She has recently discovered the delicacy of toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, so I assure her that is on the menu.

An egg goes into the pan, a jumbo one, and she comments on the enormous hen that must have laid the egg. She eats a banana and drinks orange juice from a pink straw. Then the much anticipated cinnamon toast.

“This is very RICH,” she says, licking the sweetness from her lips.

She tells me they are learning a song in choir called, “Whistle a Happy Tune” and sings a few snatches for me. She says that she isn’t sure when they’re singing it but promises to tell me when they let her know.

She asks if she could have spaghetti and meatballs in a thermos today instead of a sandwich. I remember we have a can of such and agree that it sounds like a good Monday lunch. Preparations are made.

On this third day of spring, I note that the sun is already coming through my kitchen windows that face to the east.   There’s a feeling of hope in the air. Thanks to my new hearing aids, I hear the birds twittering in the towering pine out the window. They feel it, too.

We head out the door, and it is determined that Em has too much to carry into school by herself today, so I promise to come in with her to carry her heavy backpack. For some reason, this makes her very happy.

We are the first to arrive as we often are.  Both of us are early birds today. Inside the classroom, she shows me her desk which has been moved, I am told. I admire it all and help her get her things hung up.

Finally, I tell her good-bye and start for the door, but she runs and throws her arms around me. My little girl and late in life project, my unexpected blessing and head lifter.  As I leave, one of her friends comes down the hall all smiles. I feel a rush of gratitude for the little Christian school she attends and the excellent people who make the environment such a positive place to learn.

The chilly, fresh air hits my face as I make my way back to the car.

What a beautiful morning, I think. A beautiful, lovely morning.

And I am thankful to God for it.

 

 

 

 

Islands of Calm

More than anything else, home should be peaceful. Children thrive in a place where they can hear the sound of their own thoughts and ideas and just be together with loved ones. This scene in the painting below (I found it at Homespun Wife, who found it somewhere else) shows that kind of quiet of contentment, without the scream of news or entertainment media telling everyone who they should be and what they should think.

I can’t stand television and radio anymore. My hearing loss is one reason. Before my newest hearing aids, it was getting to the point where I couldn’t hear it anyway over the incessant ringing. With my hearing aids, everything is borderline too loud, so the sound of radio and TV is jarring and shrill. I get tired of it almost immediately.

I like quiet where I can think and where I can write or read. When I showed Tom this image, he said, “I doubt that very many homes look like that anymore.” I think he’s right. But nothing prevents us from creating islands of calm and togetherness  in our homes. Give technology the boot evenings. Children love to draw or look at books if you give them the tools., and they love to show you what they are creating Just being together to talk is my favorite way to spend time with Tom, even when there are long pauses. In a world of insane hyperactivity and meaningless noise, it is a healing thing for all of us.

P.S. To the unknown painter of this, thank you. What a gift to people to be able to portray scenes of homey and lovely things that we can relate to. Contemporary and postmodern art fails to connect with the everyday person and is now reserved for elitists who claim to derive meaning from the incomprehensible and ugly.  They are welcome to it.  I’m grateful to those who use their artistic talents to create things that are meaningful and uplifting.  The need for that is greater than ever.

cozytogether

Keep on the Sunny Side!

After we have prayed and asked for Divine help, after we’ve asked whether there’s anything we can do in a bad situation, we have to walk towards the sun (Son!) and carry on.

I have always loved this little song. Keeping on the “sunny side” doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge and do what we can when evil is staring us in the face or someone else in the face, but ultimately, we can’t let evil overcome good. With social media putting every societal and personal evil on graphic and horrific display, it’s a choice to not be enthralled by the dark side of life, and to stay firmly on the sunny side instead.

Many of us with children to raise in our dark times are even more acutely aware of this need. Yes, there are many frightening and horrible things on the landscape, but where we can, we are called to create a safe place where our families can still see and feel warmth, love and beauty that God provides each day.

Our little girl, Emmy,  adores this song. I have to repeat it several times when I play it, because she dances around with her dolls when I do.

Daddy’s Girl

It’s not in the big events that the fabric of a child’s life is woven.

It’s the little things that make it—the bedtime stories, the little chats, the drawings admired by a caring parent, the silly inside jokes, the loving teasing, the moments together snatched in a busy day.

All of those threads combine to make the beautiful whole fabric of a happy childhood.

Em is reading so well now. Last night she read The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward to her daddy. Just a few minutes together, but minutes wrapped in love that she will always remember.

EmmyTom

That Time of Year

Shakespeare’s words about autumn  were chilly, rather than warm, but it’s the beautiful and warm part of fall that I like to write about. I’ve already made apple crisp, pumpkin pie and my annual autumn spice cake (recipe below), and if I don’t stop, I’ll add five pounds from my culinary salute to the autumnal equinox.

Emmy, our sole little chick still in the nest, is looking forward to a trip to the orchard for apple picking and pumpkin buying. My sister-in-law put all of our family photos from a Sterilite bin into 8, sorted photo boxes. Looking through them the other day, I saw multiple photos of various years’ trips to the orchard/pumpkin farm with our five other children. Now we will soon have three grandchildren to enjoy the same.The speed of the passage of time continues to amaze.

EPSON MFP image

Sammy, Charlie and baby Will back in the fall of 1997 in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Tom has planted two trees in our new yard. He chose birch trees, as he has at three other homes we have had. He always puts in a Schlueter tree. It’s a family tradition.

Speaking of tradition,  every autumn for years, I have put out my two Dollar Store acorn people. Last year, I looked all over, but couldn’t find them in their usual place. Sadly, they never made an appearance. I looked at the Dollar Store to find replacements, but there was nothing even similar to the little figurines I had. During our move this summer, I was happy to find my two little acorn people shoved back in our hutch in the dining room, and they are now back out on display along with my pumpkin spice candles.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~ George Eliot

acornpeople

Emmy is now happily in first grade, and I am deeply thankful to have her in a Christian school close by, the primary reason for our move. I see her copy work for school come home with hymns and verses to write. The other night, she was writing out this hymn:

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It struck me again how wonderful it is to have a little academy where that name of Jesus, reviled spit upon all over the world, is still revered and loved.

I am loving the cool, crisp mornings and still warm afternoons, the fresh air, and the deep blue skies of a Wisconsin autumn. The world is in turmoil, the ground under our feet sometimes trembling, but this little blue planet still has beauty, because God, the Creator of all of it,  is in his heaven, and He holds all things in his hand.

I came across some beautiful fall barn photos in Country Living magazine online. If you’d like to see some breathtakingly colorful photos in the country, here you go at this link!

Also, I make an annual practice on this blog of posting the recipe to my autumn spice cake that I initially found in a cookbook from the First Baptist Church of Cook, Minnesota. Those Swedish ladies really knew their baking! So here it is, my favorite spice cake recipe, 2015!

Happy Autumn!

MimiSam2

Little Mary and Sammy, back in 2001 at Nieman’s Orchard in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

A Little Fiesta

Our youngest turned six years old yesterday. Emily had the “fiesta” she requested with a taco feast. We are thankful for all the smiles and hugs and laughter this little surprise daughter has brought our family, and thankful that God preserved her life and mine six years ago. Her two little nephews, Peter and Max, were there with our son Sam, his wife Laura, brother Jonathan, sister Mary and Aunt Kris to celebrate with pink cupcakes. A good time was had by all.❤

One of the traits I so love in Emily is her interest and love for other people. She sees a neighbor’s car pull up the street and runs to meet them. “I have to say hello to them!”

We met one of our neighbors through Emily’s friendliness.  We had been on a ‘wave only’ basis with the people for years when this summer, Emily went over and introduced herself and met the family dog. We began chatting out in the yard. “Why didn’t we do this before,” I wondered. We sometimes assume people aren’t interested in meeting us. Emily doesn’t have any such qualms, and I am glad. She brings sunshine and concern to those she meets. You really can learn a lot from children sometimes. A friend from afar sent her a doll with a bathtub and a fully packed doll diaper bag. She is hauling it all out this morning and requesting a doll bathing session for her new friend with fully washable hair. Fun ahead!

Emsfiesta

Emfiesta2

emfiesta3

One More Walk

walking“We need to take a last walk here before we leave,” Emmy said this morning. We’ve sold our current house, and the moving truck will be here in a few days to move our things to the new place.

It will be bittersweet walking with my little daughter on our old route one last time. We know about every tree and yard and house along the way from memory. Emily has grown up on that route, having accompanied me on the walk before she was even born. Then it was in the stroller, then running and playing the route as a preschooler, then a kindergartner and now, nearly a first grader on the brink of her sixth birthday.

I’ve watched the sunshine in her brown hair that has the gold highlights, seen her limbs get longer and longer and lose their chubbiness. I’ve listened to her questions about the world and God and flowers and birds along that route. Walks are great conversation times with children. You have the privilege of introducing them to the larger world. Those are precious memories to me that are locked away in the bank vault that all mothers have in their hearts.

We tentatively walked near our new house the other day. It will take a while to feel like it’s home. The houses and yards are unfamiliar, and there aren’t sidewalks like there are in our old neighborhood. There is the paved trail to the south of our house where people bike and walk. We’re going to have to explore that. Along the avenue before you turn into our new subdivision there is sidewalk that runs north for quite a ways. The nature preserve to the west of the avenue makes it feel like you are suddenly in the country. I liked that a lot when I drove past.

I met a walking neighbor in her late 70’s. She walks five miles a day. We have met several neighbors who are original home builders/owners in the neighborhood and had a wonderful chat with several the other evening after they approached us while we were working in our yard. New friends are already being made.

I was in the back by my flowers inside my picket fence the other evening when I suddenly heard a high piping voice of a child calling out in excitement.

“Grammy, Grammy!”

It was little Peter, my grandson, and his baby brother Max standing on the other side of my gate, waiting to be let in. Grammy and Grandpa’s new yard.

New adventures are calling, and there are new memories to be made!

“Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment in life.” ~ Unknown

P.S. Tom’s friend who has a big garden came over the other night and told us what we had in our new flower garden and front mound. The previous owner was an avid gardener who clearly knew much about flowers and bushes. He made suggestions about what to pull and what to leave, and with my sister-in-law and her husband’s help this week, the place looks wonderful. They removed some of the dying plants that had been neglected too long and did some pruning back of bushes and roses. Tom, Kris and Mike cut back the beautiful magnolia tree in the front so the light comes into the front of the house now. It’s all coming along, one step at a time.

Dancing Shoes

ballet shoesAs a child I read Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes, a lovely story about three little orphan girls. It also made me want to dance. I couldn’t take ballet lessons, so I got a library book home on the various basic steps for ballet dancers and in my room, I practiced the positions in the book, pretending my dresser was my barre. Not having a leotard, I used my bathing suit and pretended.

Dance was not something that the evangelical and fundamentalist world accepted. It was considered fleshly/sinful and dangerous. Classical ballet was included in that definition. Rumors swirled about a female member of a local fundamentalist church who had the audacity to want to open a dance studio. It was a sort of dark blot on her name, a possible sign of fleshly leanings.  “A dancing foot and a praying knee don’t grow on the same limb,” was a favorite quote, darkly intoned, from Billy Sunday, the itinerant evangelist of years ago. But what about that anyway?

It always seemed to me then and it still seems to me now  that if we really believe what we claim to believe as Christians, we have good reason for a physical expression of joy and freedom. What appealed to me about the ballet as a child was that feeling of a fresh wind lifting my spirit watching the grace and beauty of dancers. I studied the photographs of the great ballerinas in my library books. They looked like they were floating on air at times. I wished I could do that.

The performing arts are a gift to us as humans. I remember watching Swan Lake in the audience years later (with my Tom playing in the orchestra pit) and seeing the corps of dancers all in a lovely line in their bright costumes. I felt tears come to my eyes. The stamp of God was so clear to me in the order and beauty, the grace, and the gorgeous music.  What a talented creation He made!

I think the same thing every time I see various cultural dance displays. I love watching Irish dancers in their beautiful outfits. I watched a display of Asian dancers in their bright costumes the other night in a video. It is fascinating to watch African dance and hear the various rhythms and sounds of all parts of the world. Each culture’s dance unique and interesting in its own way. Humans were made with this desire. It’s hard-wired into us.

One of my all time favorite memories is from an evening with Tom’s aunt and her husband who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with loved ones and friends. There was a little polka band there in the church hall that night. I watched this delightful couple, still so in love after all that time, dancing together. It was a happy scene full or God-given joy with family surrounding them.

Life can be full of sorrow and discouragement and grief. There’s a time for mourning. But there is also a time for joy. If we don’t try to find a few moments for joy, if we don’t teach our children to shut off the news for a moment and turn on some joyful music, we’re pathetic examples to them them. Life is hard. Very hard. But even at dark moments you have to stop and say, “Thanks, Lord. I am still alive and I’m still alive inside! I’m grateful for every day I have.”

Emmy likes to twirl and whirl to music. I love it when she does that. I always think, Be joyful, little girl, and let the wings in your spirit lift you high in the air. Don’t let anybody ever take those wings away.  No matter what.

IMG9

Thanks for the Children

jesus_with_children4I picked my daughter up from school last week. As she got into her booster seat in the car she said, “I had a GREAT day!” When asked why, she said, “I had a cupcake today!”

I made a big deal out of it, “WHAT? A cupcake? How did that happen?” That child then did something that just got me. She giggled. It was that unbelievably dear sound moms sometimes hear, like music bubbling up. “It was a teacher’s birthday. There was chocolate frosting.” The simplest thing in the world made her so happy.

I have to give thanks to God today for children. At times they can be exhausting, and they are work intensive, but their innocence and delight in the smallest things makes life bearable to me. That music of Emmy’s laugh reminded me of the Lord Jesus with the children on his lap, the ones his disciples tried to shoo away from him. He took them in his arms instead and blessed them. I think he probably heard a giggle. The cultures that are aborting children by the millions are aborting away all of that music, all of that hope and all of that God-given life. How evil. How foolish.

“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” ~ Matthew 18:2-6