Friday, March 25, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

Tonight is the last night of our Spring Break vacation in Colorado. I didn't realize it had been four years since we had last come out to visit my sister and see the mountains. It doesn't take long for everything to feel familiar to me, but I forget my family hasn't been here as often as I have. The kids were much younger the last time we were here and didn't share many of my memories.

So we made some new ones.

While the weather has been volatile, it still beats Chicago hands down where our home town has suffered an average of 32 degrees this week. The sun shines bright and often in Colorado and it has been a welcome relief on the colder days (40's) and downright balmy on the warmer ones (60's). Until this week, we hadn't worn shorts since last September and we have the pasty legs to prove it.

If you've never been to Colorado I highly recommend you visit. You begin to realize the semantics of words like "majestic" when you see the mountain terrain. And for those with faith, you see God revealed in His creation in ways you may never have known before.

We started the week out with a trip to Colorado Springs - hit the Air Force Academy for the first time in over 15 years and returned to the Garden of the Gods (although my kids call it the Garden of the One True God). My sister generously took the kids for several days and booked a cabin in Estes Park for Dan and I as a belated 20th anniversary present.

It was glorious.

We spent our first night having a quick meal at a Mexican restaurant on an open rooftop. We walked around the charming little town with all it's shops and had dinner in the famous Stanley Hotel our second night. On the third day my sister brought the kids up and we knocked around town some more and played games by the fire. Our final day there we drove around Rocky Mountain National Park and stopped to hike a bit at Sprague Lake and Bear Lake.

I had forgotten the last time we were here it was summer.

There was a LOT of snow in the mountains. Bear Lake was completely frozen. Soooo...we sort of let Ryan walk across the whole thing. I should have disclosed first that it was after we watched several adults do it and many people were right next to him the whole time. The girls made it quite a ways as well. That's one of those stories you tell the grandparents well after everyone is safely back on firm ground.

Our last day we hung out at the Denver Zoo and it was a perfect day - almost 60 degrees with all the animals out and a lot less walking than Brookfield.

Tomorrow we start the long road trip back. My prayer is that when we get back home we can maintain some of the slower pace, outdoor fun, and appreciation for God's creative power.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweetheart Dance

Saturday night my husband took a young lady out for dinner and dancing. The young lady was my 11 year old daughter and the dance was the annual Girl Scouts Sweetheart Dance. We use to call it the Daddy-Daughter dance, but we've realized over the years that not every girl is fortunate enough to attend with her dad. This is their 5th consecutive year going.

It's also their last.

Maggie leaves the grade school that hosts the dance at the end of this school year. The last dance of the night was only for 6th grade girls and their dads - it was set to U2's "The Sweetest Thing." It's a good thing I wasn't there or I'd have been bawling my eyes out.

I've heard people tell me my whole life - you blink and it's over - they grow up so quick - don't miss these moments, etc. And now I'm the one telling the new moms the same things.

Ryan always adds a little levity to the situation though. When he asked where they were going for dinner, Maggie told him Olive Garden. And Ryan said, "Olive Garden?! I LOVE that place! No matter what you order they ask you if you want cheese on it!!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011


We went to our second wake in as many weeks tonight. A neighbors father passed away after a quick battle with a rare disease. Her kids are about the same ages as ours and we've lived two doors away for over a decade now. Her father would often come over with his big black pick-up truck and all the neighborhood kids would climb in the back and hide under moving blanks to jump out and surprise him. He always played along.

After watching some of their cousins say "good-bye" to their grandmother when my sister--in-law's mom passed a couple of weeks ago and now their school friends do the same with their grandpa my kids are beginning to realize the same thing may happen to them sooner rather than later.

We've been so blessed to have both sets of grandparents still living, each within ten minutes of our house and active in our kids lives. But it's dawning on all of us now we won't have them here forever.

Each time we hear about someone dying Maggie seems to re-mourn the loved ones who passed during her lifetime. Mostly Great Aunts and Uncles. Of course my knee-jerk reaction is to make her feel better about it but I'm beginning to realize there's value in letting her grieve for those we miss.

I'm increasingly aware of these opportunities to preach the Gospel to her and to myself.

This life is so short. The older I get the faster it goes.

What an equally sobering and comforting thought it is to know this life does not begin to compare with what our heavenly Father has in store for those who love Him.