Category Archives: Family

Why Easter?

good friday
When we were walking to school at the beginning of the week, Little O looked up at me and said, “Why is Easter your favorite, mom? Shouldn’t it be, like, your birthday is your favorite – for you, I mean?”

I answered with geeky enthusiasm, “Because…JESUS!”  And he rolled his eyes in the way that a child rolls his eyes at an embarrassing mom and continued his trudge towards school.

He’s not the first one to ask me.  Even if the short answer is true, I could expand a little.

Grace is one of my favorite ideas, favorite thoughts, favorite words – it sounds even better than forgiveness.  It’s a guiding light for me in daily encounters and big huge decisions. How could I give grace? receive grace? Easter is the ultimate story of grace; God suffering for us so that we may never know separation from him.  I grew up with parents who knew grace and gave grace.  No one listened to a sermon of my father’s without hearing they were loved. By Jesus.  Forgiven. By Jesus.  All your sins are washed away….so when I get a day to celebrate GRACE ETERNAL, I’m gonna take it!

To be fair, I also had an (un)healthy dose of guilt in my childhood.  I was keenly aware of my sinful nature;  how I messed up and could try harder.  However, I also  knew in my little childhood heart that I was saved, loved, accepted, and forgiven. I always wanted to do better -for my mom, for my dad, for God.  In a way that is oftentimes harder to fathom as an adult (death is closer after all), I also knew that I would live forever.  As a young girl, I knew in my bones I’d have eternity with the Lord. More importantly, I thought that was AMAZING. Sometimes I drew doodles of heaven… and they looked a little bit like Wet ‘N Wild.  Water Slides forever!

I was also a dramatic, sensitive little soul… and the ritual of Lent and Holy Week, well, this little actress ate it up with a spoon.  Giving something up for 40 whole days. Taking Communion on Thursday.  Weeping in the Dark on Friday as the altar is cleared and the book slams shut.  Every year I got so mad again – why did they have to do that to my Jesus?

But EASTER?  Oh, Easter.  Every Easter our church was FULL.  Even as we were growing – Easter was one that everyone showed up for – they brought their families, their neighbors.  If they came once a year, they came on Easter.  My Father, who was always a good preacher, took it up five or ten notches on Easter -because he knew this was his ONE Sunday with most of these people… it better be good.

“He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!”

And the music… oh, the music.  The music was so joyous, so happy!  After a Friday night of moan/singing that old spiritual, ‘Were you There’ – we get to wake up and sing “ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!” On Sunday morning? Count me in.  Sign me up.  Roll away the Stone!  After 40 days of thinking and praying and being somber, it is time for a festival!

Easter is shiny and new. Lilies covered the altar.  Sometimes there were musicians, a brass ensemble, to remind us ‘Christ the Lord is Risen Today’.  I always had a new Spring dress.  Some years I got up in the dark to join Dad for the Sunrise service…. The sky is always pretty at sunrise, but on Easter morning in Florida… it is truly celestial.  Easter was all dressed up in the best of ways- flowers, brass instruments, fresh floral fabric and Sunshine.

The rest of the day was colored glad.  My Dad would be in a fantastic mood – the culmination of a week of church.  His good cheer was contagious and we would have a big dinner and just be together as a family.  

I have wonderful Easter memories.  

Sometimes we need a holiday that is religious.  I know that social media and capitalism are pushing us to celebrate and spend on many lesser days through the year. National Donut Day, anyone?  Easter, to me, still feels spiritual. I take my spirituality quite seriously even if I’m not always the most reverent. I might be the most difficult person to sit next to at church. I’ve been to so many services in my lifetime – sometimes I just have to pull your hair or write on your bulletin or whisper a ridiculous story just to entertain myself. I might do a responsive reading in an accent or change the lyrics to your favorite song. Even my irreverence is dwarfed by the spirituality of Easter.  I understand celebrating the onset of Spring (moreso now that I live in the Midwest), but if you’re not celebrating resurrection -why call it Easter?  Chicks and Bunnies and Chocolate are cute… but, Alleluia! That’s trans-formative.

Why Easter? It is more than lilies, than music, than ritual and my nostalgia for childhood.  It’s the celebration of second, third, and fourth Chances. Whatever happened is done.  You are loved just as you are.  It is rebirth. It is renewal. It is redemption.  It is a reminder that today is but a bump on a road that winds forever. It is everything.


Each Snowflake

The past four years of the bird’s life have been full of learning experiences.  Maybe that is part of being in your thirties.  It might just be life, no matter your age.  But the bird hasn’t been so in tune with it until now, until these years.  She is keenly aware that time passes whether or not you respect it.  That is motherhood, probably.

Watching your child grow forces you to acknowledge those four seasons going by over and over again.  The tiny lines appearing on your forehead and neck are a subtle reminder that you wont actually be ‘forever young’.

God chooses interesting moments to express his power.  The bird is not in control of all things.  The timing in this Universe isn’t up to any individual.  If the Parakeet could have programmed her life at this point – it might look a little different and a lot the same.  She loves her family.  She loves their urban life.  She loves their community of friends.  She loves working for herself and the varied routines of each day.  She would have had another child.  She’d be performing more. Maybe she’d take a few more fabulous vacations and decorate her house in a more stylish manner.  Some things people can change. Others they can’t. Or they shouldn’t.

Like her son, though, the Parakeet is growing up.  She is speaking her mind more each year, each month even.  She is asking for what she needs and saying no to things that don’t feed her.  She walked away from an obligation today and it felt great.  She is writing.  She is singing.  She is making plans.  She is appreciating small moments.  She’ll walk to school and pick up Little O today.  This way he can walk back in the fresh-fallen snow he’s been waiting for so long.  So long in his four-year-old world.  She’ll bring him snow pants and he’ll make a snow angel.  Her Florida-raised self will attempt to help him with a snowman.  They will be cold.  They will shiver.  They will laugh.  She will take pictures.  She will notice the moments.

Snow-flakes are important.  They mark the time as much as any clock. Maybe more so.  Lord, let the days be productive, but let no one miss the moments.

Pick Me! Pick Me!

The Huz had a very busy start to the year at work.  So, the Parakeet and Little O found themselves together most of the first half of this month.  They like each other – so it’s all right.

They planned a few activities,  Little O went back to school, and they also did plenty of fun things at home.

Hearing of his Dad’s overtime, O often wanted to play “work”.  He put on the Huz’ Union button from last year and set to making some scenery.  Happy to participate in theater of all kinds, the Parakeet was ready to help.  Because they had recently read Goldilocks and the Three Bears at school, Little O wanted to make that play.  (they also had a field trip to the Chicago Symphony where the story was told with music – super cool).  Little O was methodical about this work.

He wanted a table, chairs, and beds for the whole Bear Family.  They found 3 different size chairs.  They used 3 different pillows for beds, and then there was the issue of porridge.  Little O found some cardboard from their over-crowded back porch.  The Parakeet taped it together for him, but the issue of how to make the bowls was perplexing.  Little O thought and then said, “I have an idea!” He described to the parakeet how he wanted holes cut in the top of the table.  She did it.  Then, he drew three bowls of porridge with tabs at the bottom of each one on another piece of card board.  He asked her to cut those out and then he slid them into the holes on the table – not bad problem solving for a four-year old.

As he took a bath that night, the Parakeet told him, “Little O, I had so much fun playing with you today.”
“yeah, but you didn’t like when I got bossy with Parcheesi”
“No, I didn’t like that. But I loved making scenery with you. I thought it was super smart and creative how you decided to make those porridge bowls stick into the table”
“I wasn’t sure how we would make that and you figured it out.  I just think you’re a cool kid”
He smiled, “O”
“I’m really glad I got you for my son”
“but you picked me, Mom”
“I didn’t get to pick you, but I tell you what — God must think I’m pretty special that he decided to give me you.”
He smiled again, “And God must have thought GB was pretty special to give you to her”
The Parakeet smiled back at him.  Little O must think she is pretty cool, too.


This Day.
It’s only 2:30.  Little O woke up at 6AM.  He is standing next to his mother’s bed and remembering two promises, “It’s a play-mommy day, right?”
The Parakeet nods half-asleep.
“We’re making cupcakes and going to the playground, right?”
The Parakeet smiles, “That’s right bud.Good Memory!”  She high-fives him and rolls out of bed.
The huz says good-bye to them both and heads to the shop.  The bird and the O eat a quick breakfast and are making cupcakes by 7:15.  There isn’t enough sugar, and with a little convincing, the O walks with the Parakeet to a local convenience store that happens to be open before 8 to buy a bag of sugar.  They have to walk to a second one two blocks past the first.
When Little O tries to protest, “How could that store not be open?” The Parakeet quiets him with a “Well, most people are trying to sleep”
They return home and finish their chocolate cupcakes before 9:00.  As they bake O fills the sink to play with dishes and the Keet talks to her own mother on the phone.
After that it’s a bike ride to a lesser-visited playground, a chance run-in with a little girl from his pre-school.  They play together for an hour just fabulously.  They meet O’s old babysitter and the bird’s dear friend for more conversation and walking and playground-climbing.
Little O and the Parakeet make ham sandwiches and eat them in the backyard.
They make pink frosting and their chocolate cupcakes are ready for tomorrow’s baby shower.  Little O eats ‘just one’ and covers his in sprinkles left from Christmas.
He plays quietly by himself while she calls the Huz to check-in and reads one chapter of a book to herself.
She reads him a Dr. Suess favorite and he settles in for a nap.
It’s just 2PM and the day has been so full.  She cleans the baking dishes and sweeps the kitchen floor with a calm feeling that’s hard to explain.  As she tosses the crumbs into the trash, she realizes she is so happy, so grateful.  What a Saturday.  And only half-way done.

9. WOW.

The Parakeet is fairly certain she has done an anniversary post for the last 5ish years.
So – even though blogging is sporadic lately – there has to be an Anniversary post.  It’s starting to be that the Bird doesn’t want to say her age anymore – when does that happen? Apparently when you’ve been married nine years and you have a three-year old and it’s 2011 and you just sit down some days and go “What is happening? Slow down!”
Last year’s anniversary found them sailing the carribean and indulging in the most luxurious of ways.  This year, they walked themselves over to a local BYOB and had the most delicious French-Mexican cuisine.  Maybe the fact that those two types of food are so hard to imagine together is the reason they are so great.
By a strange twist of fate (well more like a missed Amtrak) the Huz’ sister was in town so she got babysitter duty and they called off their generous neighbor.  It was very rainy after a strange string of really warm October days.  They walked through Winnemac Park and commented again on how grateful they were to have it just one block from home – such a lovely respite in the city – little trails and trees of changing colors – they talked and held hands and chose a wine carefully.  It was simple and romantic.
If the Parakeet had to describe the past year of their marriage, she might go to those two words.  The Huz and the Parakeet have done a lot of growing recently.  After a few years of stress beginning businesses and parenthood, the past year was one of rekindled love and gratitude.  They are making more time for each other, listening harder, complimenting more, sacrificing more – growing up.
Getting married early doesn’t make you any more mature.  It just means you have someone with whom you are sharing those early pains of adulthood.  They talked a lot last night about what it meant to go through most of their twenties married.  It meant for the experimenting, the searching, the playing, and the failing – they had partners. For the scrapes and the starting over and the dreaming and the planning, they have had each other.  Nine years later, it is like a big welcoming hug to know they have accepted each others growth, even encouraged it and ideally become better people.  This isn’t the last ‘nine year cycle’ to be sure, but it was the first and it’s an accomplishment.

Happy Anniversary, kids! You’re not so young anymore.

(and yes, this picture had to be scanned)

Free – the Second Half

Little O remembers clearly the Truck Cake from his second birthday.  In fact, on GB’s birthday this year – he suggested we make her a truck cake.  While the Parakeet wasn’t even sure she could do that again – she was very certain she could not MAIL a ‘truck’ cake to Florida. So instead they sent her a nice video text.
Anyway, this year Little O was very clear he would like a “train” cake and he wanted it to have “lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of cars”.  Well, the Parakeet became a bit fixated on making sure this happened for him.  In fact, she googled ‘train cake’ and wouldn’t you know that Betty Crocker has a nice little video on just how to make one?  Since the Parakeet had specific instructions that there be “lots and lots and lots of cars” – she went the cupcake route with a cake engine.
The night before “THOMAS!!!” the Parakeet made a LOT of cake batter.  She filled a loaf pan (or two) and two cupcake tins.  She planned to send the “cars” to playgroup with O on Monday for his bday celebration there.  When the cakes were finally done near 10PM or something ridiculous – she let them cool a bit and wrapped the little guys’ presents sent from far-away relatives.  About 10:45 or so, she went to the kitchen ready to assemble the most beautiful cake engine.  She tipped out the loaf cake only for half of it to remain stuck to the pan! She was crushed and frustrated.  When would there be time to make another cake??!
She crawled into bed with the Huz (who has passed out much earlier after a long week) and bemoaned the birthday celebration, “I just want him to have such a good time and love it all”.  The Huz mumbled something along the lines of “He’s three. Of course he’ll love it. Get some sleep.”

SO…..It was after the Thomas outing while the O-ster napped when the Keet got back to the Cake business.  She salvaged what she could and made a smaller engine.  She frosted the cup cakes with different colors and threw candy all over that thing.  It looked like a Sugar Explosion on rails.
Then she put all his presents on the table.  The Huz napped too – because he was in a bad mood from Thomas rain and traffic.  When he got up, he got Little O’s bike from the basement and put it in the living room covered with a beach towel.
The O woke up from his nap and discovered “Cake! Presents! A bike!” He was totally beside himself.  His godmother B and her friend C both came over to join in on the Birthday dinner and present mania.
Little O opened each present as if he had never seen anything more amazing in his life! He kept saying ” I wonder what it could be….” as he pulled the wrapping paper.  He got LOTS of pieces for his train set – that was just too much.  It was all quite adorable.
The ‘grown-ups’ had fajitas and cake and beer and smiled at the O.  The O had cake and tortillas and maybe a couple pieces of cheese and talked a mile a minute playing with everything at once.  A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, INDEED.

Easter 11

The Bird has to tell you about Easter – like every year – it is still her favorite. This was no exception.  It felt low-key and easy.  Mimi sent O a cute Easter outfit.  GB sent enough goodies to fill his basket.  The Keet and Huz recently reconnected with some dear, old friends who came over for Easter dinner (and brought half the food).  It really was relaxed and lovely.

Little O dyed eggs this year.  It felt nearly cliche to be so excited watching him get so excited.  He didn’t know the egg was going to come out of the cup a whole different color! So genuine and so sweet.

He woke up bright and early and was excited to see “new stuff” on the living room floor in his Easter basket.  The Keet and Huz rolled out of bed to watch him look at each thing.  By 8AM, the Keet had to take him outside where he could use his new shovel and gardening tools and look for bugs and worms with his new magnifying glass.  Church wasn’t until 11.

Service was lovely.  They decided to try and keep O in the pews through the children’s message.  He loved the processional and was mostly quiet.  He did ask to go potty  – of course.  The Huz left with him and as they came back into church, Pastor had moved into the central aisle.  O came trotting in and yelled “I’m back!”  Pastor acknowledged, “good to see you, O” and everything continued on – oh JEEZ – I think you know whose kid this is!  The Huz and Keet had been telling him that Jesus came on Easter until he got too scared that Jesus was going to be in his room or something and the explaining got too confusing for all involved.

After his nap, we had a lovely dinner with friends who were way too indulgent and helpful with the two-year old.  He had his Easter Egg Hunt party of one in the backyard.  Hilarious! 4 adults cheering him on with each discovery – might have to find him some competition next year.
The food was scrumptious.  They all went to bed early and full, the perfect way to end any Holiday.