Our boys are planning to build an igloo or a fort or a snowman today because we are enjoying about 20 inches of snow—our biggest storm of the year so far. By saying “so far,” I am not implying that I am hoping for another. I just don’t want to call it the biggest one and be proven wrong.
Daniel and I went to the store together the day before the storm. Knowing we might lose our power again, I bought bottled water, canned goods, and paper plates and paper cups. I hate having dirty dishes when we lose power.
Our 4-year-old had other priorities.
“But what if we need chocolate donuts?” he said. I couldn’t argue with him. So we walked right past the milk and toilet paper and came home with snacking essentials. And he was right. The chocolate donuts and the popcorn have come in handy.
We have a new friend. A stranger from down the street used his snow blower to clear our sidewalk and driveway and refused to accept any compensation—other than a cup of hot chocolate. God bless neighborly neighbors.
Every year around Valentine’s Day Loyola University Maryland offers a vow renewal Mass where alumni come back to renew their wedding vows. I’m not a graduate and neither is John, but I work there, and the priest celebrating the Mass is a friend and colleague. He invited us to go—and he promised me a short homily for the boys. John proposed to me on Valentine’s Day 10 years ago, so it is a special day for us.
It was a lovely Mass. And I was surprised how emotional I was as we renewed our vows. Somehow “for better or for worse” is even more meaningful when you know the joys and the challenges you can face together as a couple.
As we were voicing again the commitment we first made 10 years ago this September, I glanced over at Daniel, our son who had happily dressed himself in a button-down shirt, tie, and carefully selected socks.
As we say our vows, he was standing in the pew, swinging a board book about a garbage truck called I Stink from his clip-on tie, which was not on his neck. In fact he was using it as a pendulum, and I was a little worried that it would hit someone.
I don’t remember anything that interesting happening when we first said our vows a decade ago. What a wonderful journey we are enjoying together.
Speaking of better and worse, one good result of last week’s miserable ice storm was a clean refrigerator. I hated throwing out all our food that had gone bad, but it was clear that was what we had to do when power was finally restored. John cleaned the whole refrigerator and this week we started anew with fresh groceries.
I just wish we had known how long the power was going to be out. I could have taken the food to my parents’ house or thrown a party for everyone I know or even stored it out on our porch.
The other day I happened to go to Pinterest and absent-mindedly typed in “Ninjago valentines.”
The next thing I knew, I was staring at a Tootsie Pop decorated as a ninja, and reading the instructions.
So one night I sat down and started cutting streamers up and winding them around Tootsie Pops. It was more difficult than I thought it would be, and the first one took me 10 minutes. But I knew I had to get faster at it. And I did. The second one took just under 10 minutes. It was tedious, but I knew the boys would love them—and they did.
Still, when Leo saw me working on them, he was shocked and started quoting his kindergarten teacher.
“Mama!” he said. “You can’t glue streamers that way!”
Apparently I was doing it completely wrong.
Here’s what I learned this week: No matter how hard it might have been to make the valentines, the greater challenge was persuading my son to sit down and write his classmates’ names—his teacher’s requirement. But with a little coaxing and a lot of patience, we got them done—even the one for the classmate with the 11-letter first name.
I bought John an ordinary Valentine’s Day card. Then my colleague Anne, who is a graphic designer, gave me a beautiful card she designed.
The Chinese characters on the front say “one day, three autumns,” a Chinese idiom that means to miss someone so much that one day apart feels as if three years have passed.
Otherwise, I just have a few Kit-Kat bars—or kitty cat bars, as Daniel calls them—but we did renew our vows. That seems significant.
Daniel and I hadn’t been to my nephew Georgie’s grave in a few weeks, so we stopped by this week before the snow came. Daniel helped me choose a heart balloon and a bunch of flowers, and we said our traditional “Glory Be” and talked to Georgie for a few minutes.
As we drove away, Daniel asked a few questions about Georgie and heaven.
“How is heaven big enough for all of the people?” he asked. We talked about how God can do anything and how amazing heaven is—and will be for us. I don’t remember thinking much about heaven as a child. Our boys talk about it a lot.
I wish Georgie were here for them to play with and get to know on earth, but I’m glad Georgie is very alive to them even though he is in heaven. It’s comforting knowing that he is watching and waiting for us.
I hope you have a beautiful Valentine’s Day surrounded by those you love.
Read more quick takes at Jen’s Conversion Diary.