and laughter too…

I couldn’t resist also sharing these shots of a boy and his dad that I was able to capture last week at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. The pure joy and love that radiates from their faces makes me smile every time I look at them.

DSC05208 DSC05207 DSC05203 DSC05202 DSC05194 DSC05191And then these of me and my oldest boy, who is growing up so quickly. But even when you are a great big boy you can’t escape your momma’s lovin’.DSC05251 DSC05254 DSC05270 These boys, they make me laugh and cry, and yes sometimes (umm, often times) they bring me to my knees. But they and their daddy know how to make me laugh. Beauty and laughter…these are food for my soul, gifts straight from Heaven.

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nourishment for the soul

After the long Chicago winter, which has seemed unwilling to release it’s grasp on our region these past weeks, as hard as Spring tries to come, we are finally seeing real warmth and growth outside. Last week we made a trip to the Chicago Botanic Gardens to drink in some of the beauty of colors and blooms and nourish our souls in nature.

DSC05099Who thought lettuce could be so beautiful!

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Someone was a little hungry. This container was overflowing with lettuce and green onions and flowers.DSC05125 DSC05132DSC05152 DSC05154 DSC05165 DSC05168 DSC05179

A somewhat unsuccessful attempt at a family portrait…someone was a little cranky by this point!DSC05162It started drizzling toward the end of our time, but the lighting was amazing and the colors just popped! Afternoons spent in the gardens help me breath just a bit deeper and my soul feels lighter. So thankful for these hours well spent!

At the Zoo…a Party for the Planet

DSC03586 DSC03589 DSC03601 DSC03609 DSC03610 DSC03629 DSC03632 DSC03642 DSC03653 DSC03655 DSC03663 DSC03672 DSC03673Last Sunday was a beautiful day, if a bit chilly, and so we decided to head for the zoo for their annual “Party for the Planet” for Earth Day. We actually didn’t see many animals (just some wild children – see the tiger and “Sonic the Hedgehog” above) since the zoo had a huge amount of flooding from the week before. Many of the animals were off exhibit and several of the houses were closed. But we still enjoyed ourselves. The boys especially loved the face painting and the chance to build animal houses. I enjoyed the flowers and the smiles on my boys faces. We are all looking forward to more outside time this summer and many more trips to the zoo!

Keeping Christmas

On Friday after Thanksgiving we were at some friends’ house watching The Muppets Christmas Carol, one of my two most favorite Christmas movies. They use the term “keeping Christmas” in that movie. And it reminds me that we have to choose to celebrate some years. This is one of those years, the first in my life actually, where I would rather not put up decorations. I don’t want to listen to Christmas music. Mainly because our American way of celebrating Christmas feels rather about everyone being happy and pretty and nice. In the face of grief, sorrow and the mess of life that feels so harsh and hard to embrace.

Yet when I think about and read the story of Jesus’ birth, the event that I am celebrating, it’s with a sense of overwhelming relief I read Jesus safe born to Mary, like gulping down a huge cold glass of water after a hot, long, arduous journey, or like being able to finally breath because we were not sure if help was really coming and how could we be really saved? Finally, the Messiah is here. Finally the Redeemer has come and it’s bad, getting worse all the time. But he’s here, a baby, and so we celebrate because HE didn’t die at birth. He wasn’t killed by Harod’s soldiers, not now, not yet. But his parents fled, moved, prompted by the angels.

I’m choosing to keep Christmas this year. The meaning is still there, to be celebrated. But some of the trappings…they are more valued by my sons than by me. And that’s ok because their enthusiasm makes me smile, like the younger boy running around saying “it’s Christmas! It’s Christmas!” and the older one so excited to decorate the tree.

Tonight we carried on a tradition, creating houses built of sugar…a sugary mess ripe with melt downs and a tired momma. But thankfully NOT at my house. They do this every year at the preschool and its the only reason we even have a candy house because I don’t know that I could handle this at my house!

Notice the sugar coma in the eyes? It was coming on quick at this point so I figured I’d better at least snap a few pictures. But we did manage to get two candy houses built and since I was going it alone I count that a success! I am ever so grateful that we won’t be doing that again until next year!!

So we’ll do some of these fun things. But we will also spend quiet moments thinking about and talking about the infant King. As we mourn the fact that our baby is not here with us, as we remember her life, we will also remember with joy, the birth of another baby, who came to die, whose mother watched Him die, for us.

Sometimes you just have to have some fun…

So tonight we had some fun dressing up. Of course the boys have been at it all week.

Spiderman and the White Ninja have had the run of the place. Tonight Dad put in an appearance as Clay Matthews.

And then there was this Crazy Yarn Lady running around as well.

Spidey got tired and went home. So instead we had a second little Packer who wanted to be like Daddy.

We did our trick-or-treating at the high school last night. They both had fun with parties at school today. And then tonight was dinner out at Smashburger (yummo!) and BOGO at Caribou. The boys traded their candy for a new toy, which is our tradition…keep us from having to fight over the candy in the coming days and makes it still totally fun for them!

And the festivities are just beginning around here. Someone is turning six (!!!) next week. With a party this weekend and breakfast in bed already ordered for next Thursday, we’ve got our work cut out for us. This guy is just growing up so fast! Love him so!