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Sep 11, 2014

The Power and Presence of Love

Sitting in downtown traffic on my way home from work Monday evening, I saw an old man running down Broad Street with a bunch of roses in his hands.

He had a big beautiful smile
on his wrinkled weathered face.

Slightly behind and beside him was a man I recognized from work directing the smiling fellow: right hand on the old man's sloped shoulder, left pointing down Broad Street toward Fourth.  He too wore a smile, the same wonderful smile the old man wore. 

I watched as they parted ways and wished each other well.  The old man, clutching his bouquet of red roses, jogged across Fourth Street and joined a small crowd of people at another crosswalk.  Frowning faces buried in their iPhones, the group nearly missed this sweet man so full of joy, so alive with anticipation of a special moment, so present.  A reunion of some kind maybe?  A surprise date with his wife?  Dinner with a grandchild?  Birth of a great-grandchild?  The obvious rush of love this old man had for whomever he was meeting was almost lost in the sea of distracted worn down people of this city. 

But then he put his hand on the shoulder of the young man standing next to him, who started defensively until he met the old guy's eyes.  And wouldn't you know that young guy started smiling too.  I don't think he could help himself.  Soon everyone else in this little gathering of world-weary pedestrians shifted their collective focus from their phones to this smiling happy old man.  Smiles began tugging at the corners of their mouths as they looked around apprehensively at each other. Their unease quickly melted away replaced by laughter, followed by the shaking of hands and the well-wishing slapping of shoulders...

Strangers to each other.  But every man recognizes the goodness of love when they see it.  And that old man was oozing it.

His smile, his excitement, his touch, his love - it changed these people for a moment. 
Connected them.  Elevated them. 

It was a precious moment caught accidently while stuck in traffic.  A reminder to be present in all things, because I'll never know when another opportunity to be connected or elevated by someone...or an opportunity for me to connect or elevate someone else might arise if I don't take the time look around. 

Sep 3, 2014

Lena's 5!

My sweet, spirited, stubborn, independent, smart, nurturing, funny little girl turned 5 last week. 

I can't think about it too much or I'll start crying again. 

Too late...

We celebrated her actual birthday with a few of her favorite things: First was a trip to Starbucks for chocolate milk and a scone.  Then we headed to Half Price Books where she found a couple of books she couldn't live without.  After we had browsed for awhile, she started looking for books her brother might like.  I told her that today was her special day and that I wasn't planning on buying books for Sam.  She looked down at the two books she had found for herself and said she would put one back so we could get a book for Sam too.  Well, my heart just broke for her love for her brother, so of course I got her both of her books and one for Sammy.  I love that my kids always think of each other.
Then I dropped her off at Rich's office for lunch and an afternoon with Daddy (while I attended her parents-only preschool orientation).  The Fashion Meets Music Festival was gearing up downtown, so there were street vendors and rides everywhere, which she thought was awesome!  I think it worked out to be a very special day for her. 


That night I cooked her requested meal for dinner and she opened a couple of presents.  A low key but special day. 

We talked about doing more of the low key special birthdays and less of the big 20 person parties from now on; reserving the bigger parties for milestone birthdays.  The parties are so much fun and special in their own way, but they just seem a little overkill to keep doing every year.

Let's be real...some of our motivation is selfish.  It's a lot of extra work and expense for Rich and I to throw these parties.  But most of our motivation is the expectation of excess.  It seems extreme for our kids to get so much for their birthdays when so many kids get nothing.  It seems out of balance with what we're trying to teach our kids about the world and their place in it.  We want them to know that they're special and unique and loved and cherished, especially on their birthdays.  We just think there are better ways to do that than grooming inflated expectations.

But this year was a milestone for Lena - 5 years old!!  So we had her big birthday party this weekend with her friends and family.  She chose to have another beach themed birthday party (same as last year), so out came the beach balls and limbo pole and swimming pools and hula skirts.  Good times.


It was storming most of the day, so the majority of this beach party was indoors.  No matter.  Rich played Marco Polo, limbo and a giant beach ball game with the kids in the basement, then upstairs for sand pudding, beachy snacks and presents.

As the party was wrapping up, the rain stopped long enough for the kids to move outside, so they got to splish splash (just like the invitation promised) after all! 

My sweet girl.  Slow's moving too fast.