You’re Wight Dere

(***Note: Now that the weather is getting colder, I expect I’ll be posting with more frequency. Between the weather and our daughters just handing me posts, it is difficult to not share some of these little moments. Of joy and otherwise…hehe.)

Listening to my 3-year-old discover the English language is one of the joys I have in life. The letters “r”, “l”, and the “th” sound are three difficulties at this point. Just listening to her attempt to say “parallel lava lamps” causes me to giggle.

A few weekends ago we took the girls to Chicago. One afternoon we took them right downtown. It may have been the last good afternoon of the season. We were very blessed to enjoy great weather. I couldn’t wait to get our 3-year-old to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as “the bean”. This great reflective work of art is an attraction. And on a nearly cloudless day it is even more impressive.

I didn’t realize getting from the parking ramp to “the bean” was to become a feat of endurance. For the first time we were going to have our 3-year-old walk instead of ride. That meant, in a time of poor judgement on my part, she would be walking the 8 block walk from the ramp to the park. Then walk through the park with us and walk back to the parking ramp. She started whining at the half block mark and I knew my patience would be tested on this trip. Seriously, a half block and she was already complaining about being (insert complaint here: I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m sweating) that’s right sweating one half block into the walk. After a rest at block 4 things did get better.

If you haven’t walked on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago on a nice afternoon you may not realize it can get rather crowded. My wife is not a fan of crowds. Because of this I watched our 3-year-old even closer than I expected. Not only because of the crowd of strangers, but also just to make sure she wasn’t going to show signs of claustrophobia or problems handling crowds. The good news is she did great in a large group.

When we got to “the bean” I took the 3-year-old around it and underneath it. Those pics are fun to take as well.

While underneath I asked her how she was doing? I also asked if she was frightened. (Lately she has said, “I’m scared” a lot so I just wanted to be sure she was fine. I was just making sure.) Her answer, “Nope.” When I asked why she wasn’t afraid she pointed right at the reflection on “the bean”, “Because you’re wight dere.”

To translate, “Because you’re right there.” It does a heart good to know she felt safe because I’m near.

My mind went right to our faith. What if we could always see God, “wight dere”? How much better would we feel? How different would we act?

It amazes me how sometimes a small sentence from a 3-year-old can get a mind going.

“Do not fear: I am with you;
do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Or, to quote the chorus of the David Haas song “You Are Mine” I had stuck in my head the rest of the afternoon:

“Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine”


The Difference Between a House and a Home

The next couple of posts will revolve around a little time away from our house as a family.  We were able to take the girls out of the small town we live in to Chicago.  Oh the things you can learn when you travel with anyone, much less when you travel with family.

We are also trying to sell our current house.  To prepare our 3-year-old for an impending move I’ve talked with her about the difference between a house and a home.  I never realized how the talk about the difference changed her thought process in such a beautiful way.  The concept is as simple as I could put it.  Any building you can live in is a “house”, but a home is where we all are (mom, dad, and the girls).  I was using the description to show how wherever we live is our home as long as we are together.  My hope was this would make a new house transition a little easier.

When we arrived in the Chicago area the first step was getting everyone into our hotel room.  Then, my little quirk, I walked out and filled the ice bucket.  I did that alone.  When I came back to the room our 3-year-old said rather loud, “WELCOME HOME!!!”  It felt like I was away for hours and not the couple of minutes it took to fill an ice bucket.

My wife, unknowingly, corrected her, “We’re in a hotel room, not home.”  Our 3-year-old wasn’t phased.  (Which was a surprise too.)  Instead she waited until she could catch me all alone and whispered, as if we were sharing a secret, “Mom doesn’t know?  You need to tell her when we are all together we are home.”

Cute on it’s own, right?  But then she took it the next step.  You see we stayed at the same hotel I stayed at on and off for over a year working on a project.  She knew this was the hotel I stayed at because we made a big deal about staying where daddy stays when he goes to Chicago.  That was when she said something I never expected.

“You stay here a lot.  But it wasn’t OUR home until we came here with you.”  Then I got a huge hug.

I guess she hugged too tight.  Because she caused a few tears to sneak out of my eyes.

She really got the message.  I don’t think I did until that moment.

Milestones: What Do They Mean?

It’s been a week of certain milestones. Sometimes it is hard to put together what they all mean.

Having a new baby in the home means you are always looking for those certain milestones: first time they pick their head up, first smile, first laugh, first time they ask for the car…ok, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. But I am leaning, milestones are big for parents. For sappy folks like me, those firsts have an even deeper meaning. I am one of those people who are all about history and milestones.

Milestones aren’t just firsts. This week, on my way to work, the car I drive passed a milestone. 100,000 miles. And I have driven almost all of them. I have nearly been in that vehicle for the entire 100,000 too. (No wonder my behind feels like it does.) This is the third vehicle I have driven over 100,000 miles in. I have to think, that at this point in my life I’m approaching probably 500,000 miles driven.

I come from a long line of truck drivers. So for them to read 500,000 miles driven is something I am sure would invoke laughter. For me, it is a moment to pause and think of the places I have had the opportunity to drive, the people I have been blessed to travel with, even the items I have had to transport.

First the people. Working the job I have worked for almost 20 years, I’ve been pretty blessed with great travel companions. Discussions that weren’t limited to just work, the also revolved around faith, humor, and life. In fact, I sit here thinking of the discusions I have had with people on those long drives that I heard this from a travel companion, “You would make a great dad.” Oh, boy, I guess I finally have to live up to that one. The one item I have to mention here is that without laughter, I am certain I wouldn’t do the job that I do. And if there is one thing I have to say about travel, it has always included laughter.

Items I’ve had to travel with are another part of this milestone that makes me take a pause. A few of the larger items, literally as well as figuratively, include an industrial air conditioner. Loading it into my vehicle took three guys and scraped the daylights out of my back bumper. Three guys to lift it into place and one hard press of the brakes at 70 miles and hour to remind me that I should be a more careful driver or they would have found me squished against the windshield by an industrial A/C. (One of those warnings: “Danger, Will Robinson!” rang through my head that day.). A moment that brought me to prayer.

Yet the second most sacred item I have transported was a monstrance that was blessed by Pope John Paul II. This was after he had already passed and I needed to get it from Green Bay back to Kaukauna. That was a trip where praying seemed like the right thing to do.

The most sacred item. Well, forgive this sentimental dad, but as long as I live I will never forget driving Maggie and Sue home from the hospital. The entire family in the car. And I’m pretty sure we all three had tears in our eyes. Now whether that was pain, hunger, or (in my case) such unbelieveable happiness, is unclear. It is one drive I will never forget.

So what do milestones mean? Are they merely hurdles through ife? Are they moments to stop and take pause to reflect? Or are they just another bump in the road? I guess it depends upon what they represent and how long it takes to get to them.

Sure it is a milestone when the first bottle of wine is pressed and corked. Yet it isn’t as important a milestone as when the wine has matured to the proper age and tastes absolutely perfect.