an egg-stravaganza…

It felt good to get away, if even for just two days and just down the long prairie road.  First stop was the Cal-gary Olympic Park where Sammi got her first taste of ski-patrolling (as she calls it due to a Backyardigans episode set in Canada with songs about Mounties and such)

a lesson in snowplow…

and this is what the other kiddos did at the slope (well, they did jump around in the snow a bit too)…

Then we went to our hotel that had two water slides at the pool.  Robb and Sammi had a blast while Sela tried to put on a brave face and be a sport even though she’d rather just play in the hot tub.  And Ethan got woken up by a false fire alarm.  We woke up on Saturday and all headed right back to the slides where Robb, Sammi, me and Ethan had a  great time on the slides and Sela put on that face again.

Then we lunched at a place that Robb heard of called the “Tubby Dog”…and it was exactly how it sounded.  Hot dogs with anything on it.  like peanut butter and jelly with some captain crunch…

or banana with chocolate and some fruit loops…

ok, it was pretty gross but the idea was fun.  then we went to the egg-stravaganza at the zoo…

awana grand prix…

Robb left for the week and I was left with a small wooden car, wheels to attach and some paint.  Mistake #1.

It was time for the Awana grand prix…the end of the year event for Sammi’s first year as a spark.  She seemed little concerned about the car zooming down the track as aesthetics and so I concerned myself with the same thing.  Mistake #2

We looked good.  So, we showed up, registered our pink #6 car, weighed in (which left me gluing some washers to the bottom because that wasn’t something I even considered), finished inspection and went to finally test drive the car on the track before parking it for judging and racing.

And it was a stall…the car wouldn’t even move.  hmmm…mistake #3,4,5 and 6.  Apparently I wasn’t supposed to glue the wheels in but even if I hadn’t I had hammered them in bowed so that they didn’t even fit into the track.  Luckily a grandfather, whom was probably capable of building cars like this at age 18 months, saw the failed test drive and took pity.  He walked over, picked up the car and immediately started the examination and realignment.

It was tedious enough to have all the other cars test-drove and parked.  They were waiting on the pink Sammi and this grandfather that I wished I could appropriately throw my arms around with a bear hug.  This girl just remarked her concern over whether one of the jewels would fall off during the run, seemingly oblivious to the fact that her car may never see the bottom of the track.  I think I did bear hug her.

and this is just cute…

This is her heat. The boy in blue to the right wound up winning fastest car and there’s Sammi standing there so optimistically…

And here we are again in the final heat for those cars in the running…for the slowest car award…

And Sammi still smiling…perhaps she’s hopeful that at least she’ll win something…and she did.

Whew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dire questions…

If you look, all you can see is a neighborhood, with cookie-stamped houses, manicured lawns with trees not big enough to shade yet, complete with a perfect asphalt trail around the perimeter for those who need a view without a destination.

But I see fields spreading in every direction with maybe one farm in the distance.  On that same corner stands a large white house with a wrap-around porch complete with rockers, a large oak with a swing in the front telling the story of a farmer’s family from long ago.  Except when I knew it, as a little girl, it housed people who needed a home…and care.  The physically incapable and the mentally challenged…I can still see some of their faces.

For much of my young life, we visited Holly House once a month where my mother and a few of her friends celebrated birthdays with cupcakes, ran several bingo games but mostly talked and embraced, building relationships.  There was never a question of whether we should accompany her…we always did.  And there was never a question of whether we were expected to do the same.  I passed out cupcakes, I rolled the wire ball and called out numbers (on a lucky night) and talked and embraced.

This was my mother’s gift.  It was never clear whether she chose certain people to love or if they found her.  It was just a never-ending flow.  As near as last month I found a box of Tupperware at my father’s house given to me and my sister during childhood by Faye, my mother’s mentally ill friend.  My mother was patient and steadfast, never tiring.  She visited, served, shared her home and many meals with many that most would overlook.

…and I grew up thinking it normal.

What will my kids believe is normal?  What does their Holly House look like?

6-year-old Samara Mae…

The first name on our baby list was Grace…then a few others…Samara was about fourth in line.  It made it because its meaning, “guarded by God” is meaningful and precious and we loved the nickname, Sammi.  But it wasn’t a strong contender…until we saw you, just shy of ten pounds and hair we could braid.  And suddenly there was no other choice.  You embodied Samara…and still do.

While my biggest child, Ethan, at over two, still sits contentedly in his crib without even a thought yet of climbing out…you had jumped over that hurdle shortly after turning one.  You have energy and a physicality that you seem unable to bridle.

In my foolish moments I have questioned God about why you were my first-born…why he didn’t allow me to get some motherhood cultivation under my belt first.  I see many of my own weaknesses in you which at times makes me shudder but also provides a clearly seen roadmap to the holes or sometimes caverns I have found myself in.   And to avoid a “blind leading the blind” situation I am propelled into strengthening myself in order to do just that…and that, even to this point, has been painful. You have pulled me into the Throne of Grace drug by heels enough to have now learned to run ahead so that there is a precursory prostration of myself beforehand.  You have taught me prayer.

But do not for one moment let my sanctification confuse you about my love for you.  I see you.  I see your strengths and your heart.  I see your struggle to understand what it means to be a leader.  I see your spirit that keeps a small record of wrongs…forgiving and giving.  I see your sense of justice and your ability to come alongside others.  The way you seem unable to bend to others’ wishes and desires for you that in Godly character will allow you to step out and do incredible and unexpected things.

You are quick in mind…like your dad.  And if printed books last another decade, I know that you will be the one who will spend cherished time in a bookstore, perusing and reading with me.  But I will go anywhere with you.  I will be the first to buy one of your decorated cakes, believe in one of your inventions or read one of the books you have authored…wherever your dreams or vision lead.

Know who you are in God.  Find your adventure with God.  Take nothing less.

ny, ny

This was day two of wonderful birthday surprises…

It was an early start off for tea at the wonderland of all girlie wonderlands…American Girl Doll Store…

we got Sophia’s hair done at the salon…

and it’s usually at this point that my husband is wondering why there is a recession in all the rest of the country except within this store and remarking that he wished he would have thought of all this.  So this time I just thought it for him.

Then, after meandering through the brisk but beautiful day in the city,

we arrived at the highlight for everyone…A Broadway Show:: THE LION KING.  I was about Sammi’s age when I saw my first, “Annie”.  It was huge for me and I have fond memories growing up seeing all of these musicals on the best stages in the world.  I was thrilled to share this with her and she was just as enraptured.

Once again…love.