The 6 a.m. shout out is always hard to recover from. But now that Isaac is back to sleep (?!!) I can steal some moments away and reflect on the autumn that was. I've been trying to think of a theme to tie the last few months together, and roller coasters seem appropriate. Here's why:
(1) Anna. Our trip to California this fall was FANTASTIC. As readers (or even casual observers) know, the logistics of this trip were stressing me out. Stress is nothing if not motivating, and I'm happy to say that all my planning paid off. We visited Disneyland for two days, Legoland for one day (thanks to the generosity of my sister-in-law; that place is expensive), and the beach and family on in-between days.
I love Disneyland. It still feels magical to me, and I like that it hasn't changed a bit since I was there almost two decades ago. Almost. The park was all decked out for the holidays, and rides like It's a Small World and the Haunted Mansion were appropriately attired. Very nice.
What surprised me about Anna's experience was that she preferred the roller coasters to the princess experiences. She went on every roller coaster in D.L. and Legoland, barely meeting the height requirements for some. True, we did stand in line for 45 minutes to meet Aurora and Snow White, but it wasn't the focal point.
*sniff* My girl is growing up!
(2) Holidays and Hurricanes. Our fun alternated with some less thrilling adventures. Hurricane Sandy, for example. Luckily, our corner of Maryland escaped the brunt of the storm, so we were only out of power for less than a day. Not knowing this ahead of time, our pre-storm preparations assumed the worst. Since this was our first hurricane, preparations took a lot of forethought and planning. Read: major time suck. They also closed the schools for a few days, so entertaining kiddos became a challenge as well. They sure enjoyed having the power out, I have to say. It was a real adventure.
Halloween, shortly after, was great. People really do it up around here. Many sit outside their homes in costume to give out candy, giving a community feel to the event. Anna (Pink Panther) and Isaac (Darth Vader) stayed out collecting candy for about 1.5 hours. They could have gone longer, but Jon (and then I) became chilly.
Thanksgiving weekend alternated between visiting with friends old and new, and recovering from the California vacation. And then December came with it's own oscillations. There is always the joy of decorating and baking and wrapping presents and watching those classic Christmas specials. Anna and I even strung a few lines of popcorn. But this year there have been some low points, too. For example, the viruses are all brand new and have been hitting us hard. This past week we couldn't get Anna's asthma under control, and ended up in the ER. She's on an inhaled steroid now, and will be as long as we live here.
As Dickens says, this is also the time of year when "want is felt most keenly." Our "want" is the familiarity of family and friends. Not a day goes by when the kids don't ask for their old home and/or family and/or friends. Happily, Jon's parents will arrive on Christmas Day and stay with us for awhile. That will be a great present.
(3) Stay or go? This is the question occupying the background of our thoughts. Now that the busy autumn is behind us, the shock of actually being here has settled in, bringing with it the tension of uncertainty. I do not doubt that we should be here, and my devotions constantly remind me that the future is in the hands of God and I do not need to worry about it. And I'm not worried, really. It's more.... unsettled-ness. I'd like to know where we stand. And I'm spending entirely too much energy neither liking Maryland too much (lest we leave) nor too little (lest we stay). What I actually need to do is take each day as it comes and learn to lean on Him. This is an opportunity to be reminded about where my strength actually comes from. Where it needs to come from. "Rejoicing in weakness" is not a Christian cliche (despite the frequency with which this term can be thrown around), but an opportunity I don't want to miss.
So there is a small snap shot of our autumn. The sun is now up, and it's Jon's birthday! I shall head upstairs to make French toast, grab some more coffee, and check everyone's eyes. (Pink eye broke out during Anna's Christmas party, which Isaac and I also attended. There was a brief period yesterday evening when Jon noticed my eyes were quite red. Turned out they were just very tired.)