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.





Flying in Spring

robin“I’m a cardinal today,” says Emily, folding her small arms into pretend wings and hopping down the sidewalk.  At the corner she proffers her “wing” for me to hold as we cross.

“Let’s fly, Mama,” she says as we reach the other side.

We fly along the street for a while, and  in her imagination we are flying high overhead all of the trees and houses, looking down on the neighborhood from our vantage point.

“Were you a mermaid when you were little, Mama?” The questions she asks never cease to amuse, like the question about whether actual monkeys are used in the making of monkey bread.

“No, Emmy, I was never a mermaid.” I try for a moment to figure out where that question came from and remember Tom sketching a scene for her the other night. “I want some mermaids on the rocks, please.” Her daddy draws great pictures, and he complied.

She is skipping now in front of me, her legs getting longer and longer as kindergarten approaches in August. Overnight she is this amazingly articulate child, bursting with ideas and questions. She likes words, and I use as many evocative ones with her as possible in conversation. She will ask, “What does that mean?” I tell her. If a child uses a word a few times, they own the word in their vocabulary treasure chest. They learn what they hear.

She is sad that the robins on the grass all fly away. She’s determined she will hold one in her hands and speculates that they must be very light and soft. I tell her that they are only for watching, not holding, and she’s disappointed.

Later she makes sand pies at her sand table on the porch and talks to herself. I wonder what she’s thinking about as she shapes the sand into all kinds of delicacies. She loves helping me and loads dishes into the dishwasher, folds laundry and sets the table, all the while keeping up a stream of conversation. All of her stuffed animals are “she”, even her stuffed rooster from the farm set. I explain that roosters are daddy chickens. “Well, this one is a lady rooster,” she says firmly. Stumped at that, I decide to play along, but continually forget and refer to the rooster as “he.” I am corrected promptly.

A friend sent her the entire treasury of Beatrix Potter on CD. She can say whole stories from there by heart, spoken with a slight British accent like the story reader. It reminds me of when William at age 3, having overheard his older brother reciting some soliloquies from Shakespeare, surprised me at lunch one day by brandishing a fish stick from his plate and shouting, “Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition! By that sin fell the angels!”

Children are so interesting. Individuals that perpetually cause surprise (and shock at times!)

Emmy wants to start on violin. She has handled Will’s small fiddle and wants to play it. I think we may start with piano, however, and go from there. Sometimes children really do know what they want and the exciting part is helping them find out who they are and what they love. When they do find their passion, we often can only step back and coach and cheer them on as they grow into the people God intended them to be.

Emmy’s daddy just came home this Saturday afternoon. I can hear her in deep conversation. Any moment now, I will hear Tom laugh. It happens every time. The Emmy Effect.








View from the Swing

swings1After the long, cold winter, getting to go to the park this week with Emily has been a blessing. Finally, the wind doesn’t have the harsh chill, and the dirty snow piles are mostly gone. The play equipment at the park had been hosed down from the winter sludge, and all was in good shape when we arrived.

Yesterday, the sun was warm on our heads in the mid-50 temperatures. Up here in Wisconsin, that is a virtual heat wave. Emily exhausted herself running and sliding and swinging and spinning on the merry-go-round. Today we went back to the park, as I have vowed that, unless there is intolerable weather, we are getting out to the park daily.

There were more clouds today when we went, and the wind was not quite as warm, but the air was fresh and invigorating. Emily wore a hat against the chilly breeze which sent last year’s leaves flying every so often. Hardly any children were there today. A grandfather watched his grandson run around, and then a dad arrived with two little boys on pedal bikes. Em and I sat on the swings in a leisurely fashion. Or, I should say, I sat on the swing and Em flopped on her tummy on the swing next to me, going back and forth, back and forth, her thoughts in some far away place.

My own thoughts swirled like the old leaves in the wind. Our second youngest, Will, is ready for college in August. Wasn’t I just at the park with him? Where did all the time go? Our baby, Emily, will be five in July at her next birthday. She’s looking taller and lankier all the time and asks questions about “habitats” for animals (yes, she uses that word), about “migration”, “hibernation” and how a butterfly uses his “proboscis” to suck nectar from flowers. She watches science DVD’s for children and has a keen interest in anything in nature. I thought about the challenge of educating yet another child in this world that seems to have gone mad. One day at a time, one step at a time, one hour at a time, Ingrid.

Em’s ready for reading instruction, as she is already trying to teach herself. She narrated a story to her dad so he could write it down for her. I thought about how each child is unique in interests and gifting. It is fascinating to watch yet another child-person unfold.

Em does not have another child to play with at home normally, but as we were swinging aimlessly, a little girl in a white Hello Kitty hat arrived with her daddy. Emily jumped off the swing and went over to meet her. The darling child liked my daughter, and they ran around in the wind, arms out, soaring high over the park as airplanes in their imaginations. They played hide and seek under the slides and then played tag, seemingly never stopping in their running.

The sun finally went under completely and the wind suddenly felt downright cold. Emily ran over to her little friend and threw her arms around her for a good-bye hug. The dad’s face broke out in a smile, as did mine, at the two little girls, so briefly enjoying a few minutes of childhood together and parting in cheery goodwill.

As we drove away, the bare branches of the trees bent in the wind, waving their own good-byes.

Joy Blips

031Every so often at the Hope Blog, I post “joy blips” — little things that bring a smile to my face  and heart, things that happen in the course of an ordinary day.

Here are a few blips on my life radar.

Emily told me this morning, “I love your more than a cricket can squeak!” That made me smile!

The woman in the red car in front of me at the coffee shop drive-through paid for my coffee this morning.  I got to the window and the lady said, “Your coffee is already paid for!” It’s the second time this has happened to me in the last few months. I returned the favor to someone a few weeks ago. Just a little joy blip, hopefully, on that woman’s radar, too.

Tom had an unexpected night off from the six-week long music job he’s playing. He whisked me away last night, and we had a sandwich and conversation without one, single interruption from anybody in a nearly deserted Arby’s, at a table in the corner. I was reminded once again of how thankful I am for Tom.

School is nearly out! No more taxi mom every morning. Preschool is out, Will is going to be done after 3 days of exams next week. That is a very happy thought.

We have the Crazy Season coming up on a different front, however, but it’s a happy one. We have the most amazing number of birthdays, holidays and anniversaries coming up, it’s nearly unbelievable. We’re doing 2 double parties to celebrate. Sam and Will’s birthdays come first, then Peter’s first birthday party and Tom’s all in one. So we are a partying bunch here for several weeks. Sanity doesn’t resume until after September. And our second grandbaby is to arrive that month, so there will be 2 in September soon!

We are going to shop today for a basket of pink geraniums. I have a black thumb, meaning that I am not very good at keeping plants alive. Emily, however, has asked if she could have some flowers to take care of this summer. She has a small, personal watering can and would like to have some flowers. I figured that geraniums are hardy enough to survive us. Maybe Emily will have a green thumb and flowers will thrive. There was a frost warning last night in our area (unbelievably), but I think geraniums will be OK now that June is almost here.

Here’s joy from Jesus. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” ~ John 10:10

Do you have any joy blips today? Life is mostly made up of many small things, and in these small things we can usually find something to smile about!

Spring is Really Here!

It must have been my lilac post a few weeks back. Burning with spring fever, I posted the photos a few days before snow hit. Then, like magic, summer arrived. Not spring, summer! We had days and days of sunny 70’s and 80’s as much of the rest of the country also saw record breaking temps.

There’s something a little creepy about 80’s in March in Wisconsin, but who was complaining? Well, that is until the viruses went the rounds. Extreme temperature changes always seem to bring them on. Things are a little more seasonal this week in temps, although today we brushed the 60’s again. The flowering crab trees have bloomed, tulips and daffs are up, the green buds are out and will soon be leaves. Hopefully, we won’t have a repeat of the April snowstorm that broke records here in the area one year. Then there was the snow incident in May one time when trees came down from the weight of the snow on the leaves! But we won’t talk about that.

We’re enjoying spring break here. It’s nice to have a respite from the school run, and Will is taking full advantage of sleeping late. He wore himself out the last few weeks of school and then exams. With organ and piano study, forensics and lots of homework, he works hard, so I’m letting him rest up. It’s nice to hear strains of Bach and Brahms from the piano during the day with him home.

Summer will be here before we know it. Emily’s pleas to go outside are already a familiar sound. She wears her hats every day and her new sunglasses, so she’s ready for the rays. The days are getting longer. What a lovely time of year!

A Salute to March

There is a poem by Wordsworth that is much quoted because it is much loved. I had one of my sons learn it when he was a young home school student, and he wrote it in nice script in his poetry journal along with a pencil sketch of a daffodil. A few months later, he accompanied my husband on a trip to France. It was March, and they drove through the countryside from Calais to Normandy. When Sam returned home, he told me, “Mom, you know that Wordsworth poem I learned? I saw fields of daffodils, just like he described…”  In light of my yearning for spring and in gratitude that March (however cold, it’s still March and not December) is finally here, I’m posting Wordsworth’s famous poem.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

–William Wordsworth