Hugs

We are fortunate to have dear friends with children very close in age to ours. The oldest two could not be more different in personality, but they are most definitely friends. Recently, they all came to visit and the high energy level in both of our families carried us through four fun Chicago days.

Our friends brought with them a whole lot of love and below is a little slide show of our little people on day four, sharing the biggest hug ever. And then another one. 

Click the image if the slideshow is not advancing. 

Cafe Bustelo & a tbsp of sugar

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Last year, this time, I met Kerri and her two young red headed boys at our park on a city cleaning day. The leaf blower man loudly cleared debris from each nook and crevice of the play structure, while we attempted to play. Judah was only 3 mo. old and napping in my Ka'Tan wrap. This was a memorable day because we learned how to make new friends.

Kerri was tall with gorgeous long highlighted hair and I was sure she couldn't be American. Her oldest boy was 4 and walked along with David up and down a half-moon cinderblock wall as we waited on the leaf blower man. Her youngest sat snuggly in his stroller. Kerri initiated conversation with me and I discovered that she was new to RP. They had just relocated from the East Coast for her husband's job. Our conversation carried on for the next hour as her oldest patiently directed David around the big kids play structure. I so enjoyed talking to Kerri, and before we parted she invited us over to play. Our first invitation to have a play date with new friends!!

Heading over to Kerri's apt for the first time, I reassured David that our destination contained lots of new toys and his new buddy. Upon entering Kerri's beautiful home, my hopes were confirmed - amazing toys and David's friend was ready to give a tour. Kerri and I chatted about our families, her husband's job at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, and I felt like I had known this woman for years. We discussed this shared familiarity, how we were thankful to have found one another. However, I was most thankful for Kerri's example of reaching out and inviting new friendship in. I'm not sure she even realized all that meant to me. She had come at a time where I was navigating the loss of close friendships and anticipating winter.

In the Spring, Kerri and her precious family ended up moving back to the East Coast for her husband's job. We didn't get enough time playing with them before they left, due to our youngest boys, their nap schedules and runny noses. However, I think of Kerri often, and it warms my heart to think about the possibilities of relationships in our futures. Kerri's family did not claim any specific belief in faith, but God definitely used her in my life to remind me that He provides. I didn't have to reach out to find her friendship, she reached out to me.

Sometimes it's easy to forget about people who are in our lives for short seasons. And sometimes, little events bring the memories back. I remember now why I knew of Cafe Bustelo, beyond that my bud Kelly shares her daily pot with me often - It's the coffee Kerri poured me on our first play date. Still more memorable was the heaping tablespoon of sugar I was offered to sweeten it! She had asked me if I took sugar, to which I replied, 'Oh yes.' And apparently that translates into a heaping tablespoon. Cafe Bustelo is so intense that one must have a heaping tablespoon of sugar to sweeten. And thus, I'm thinking of my dear friend and praying for her two boys as I enjoy yet another cup (and tbsp of sugar).

A Teacher's Touch

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About two years ago, a very important teacher stepped into our lives - for the sake of her privacy, we'll name her Mrs. Sweet. She's courageous in every way and has set a powerful precedence for toddler behavior in our little church childcare room. The first Sunday I left David in her care, I was amazed and inspired by the way she crouched down to communicate with the little man. She praised the way he set down toys and immediately guided him with gentle words when he revved up to throw one. When it looks like David is going to runaway with his emotions, Mrs. Sweet suggests a new fun thing to do or play. 

This past weekend, we got a chance to go to our favorite frozen custard place with Mrs. Sweet and her husband. By now, David's grown very fond of her and will run when she suggests or take her hand to cross the street. I absolutely love saying to David, 'Mrs.Sweet is coming!' because he gets shyly excited. Very endearing to see my sons grow attached to people I also love.

At the custard place, I sat back a bit and observed Mrs. Sweet interacting with David. She was so kind and David became such an important person in their conversations. His getting up from the table didn't ruin our conversation and turn in into discipline. Instead, Mrs. Sweet got up and took him to have a closer look at candy and we picked up when they returned.

I'm reminded as I write how my Albanian missionary friend said that my children are a key part of my life and how I show God's love to others. That's exactly how Mrs. Sweet treats David, like he's a key part of our outing.

This past year, I've set to really 'train' David in obedience to me and Tripp. This has required a lot of communication, consistency, teaching, outlasting, and bootie spanks. After a while, Tripp and I feel that all we do is reprimand David. Our tones (everyone's) start to intensify until someone is yelling and sadly, that's Tripp and myself by most bed-times. It's become increasingly harder to train without loosing self-control and heaping past frustration on to accidental spilled milk. And we're only on training child #1!

Watching Mrs. Sweet, who has raised children and teaches many daily, literally changes me from the inside out. David and I have had one of our best weeks, and I just wonder if it's because of the custard date. Which brings an interesting conclusion - I am a variable! My changed attitude and heart somehow effected my interaction with David enough that he also acted differently. I also need training. Or maybe just simply, a teacher's touch.

The difference a sister makes

I never used to refer to my girlfriends as 'sisters' until I met Clare Weaver. She would always sign emails, 'love you Sister!' And I always felt so touched that she referred to me as a sister. Having a younger sister, the title denotes a world of responsibilities and commitments. I often have the feeling about my sister that we'll make it through thick and thin. Through the good times and through the bad, no matter what - we will be sisters.

When Clare called me 'Sister,' it actually changed my entire perspective on friendship. Clare is intuitively helpful and caring. So redefining friendship as 'sisterhood' included service and self sacrifice. I can name many dear sisters in my life, near and far. 

Clare got married two weeks ago, Saturday, April 26th, and it was a wonderful time celebrating my dear sister with fellow members of our family.

Talk about sisters, I love these women.

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Just take I-88/80 forever

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And you'll end up in the McCreary's driveway! Over the weekend of November 10th, we made our annual visit out to one of our favorite families of 4: Mark, Katheryn, Miriam & Baby Leah. Since we last saw one another back in March, we've carried, delivered and nourished new additions to each of our families. Baby Leah and Baby Judah were born two weeks apart and Katheryn's empathy was a life line. The McCreary's are like family, and though this visit should have been chaotic and draining, it was refreshing, relaxing and filling.