I dusted your baby book today, Jasper.
That's further proof that this blog is my shortcut to memory preservation. Here I add a photo and write a few words about what you're up to these days. I have real intentions of printing these entries and adding them to your book someday. Just you wait. It will be a font and style inspired by Pinterest and it will turn out 28% as cool as the original idea. You'll love it, I promise.
You stayed home in Yack-Attack Land with your dad this morning - the poor guy caught it! I had a speedy version of the flu on Friday and felt just good enough to lead worship, but not good enough to serve communion bread. I awoke still achey, wishing I could pull the covers over my head and be selfish for the day.
Not a chance. Not on a Sunday morning and not with several inches of snow on the ground outside! It was crisp, quiet, and beautiful. I relish Sunday mornings there is snow to brush off my car because the street is silent. Everyone else is tucked away inside. No one on this block needs to be somewhere quite yet. I imagine them drinking hot cocoa and reading the paper - that it's up to me to make a path and report back about plows and life further down Lake Street.
I returned mid-afternoon to find neighbors out shoveling and building snowmen. I was tired, but giddy searching for my snow pants and your bunting while you finished napping. Then your aunt, uncle, and canine-cousin joined us for a sleigh ride around Longfellow. You were the Prince all bundled and starry-eyed.
Remember that I spent much of my childhood in California, Jasper. When we moved back to the Midwest, I had to convince myself to like winter. I had to nod and smile through stories about the 1991 Halloween blizzard that I'd missed. (A major ballad for Minnesotans from my generation.) I had to learn to ski and layer clothing and deal with all this darkness.
I was successful in tricking myself into loving this season. So today I desperately wished to impart a love for winter on you. As your nose turned red and your cheeks collected snowflakes, I watched your smile widen. It filled me with joy to see you that happy.
Your face glowed when we came back inside, too. You ran around in circles jabbering to Dad about your time in the snow. You rubbed your hat hair and guzzled water. You collected a few books and cozied up to me on the couch with a smile, still wide.
But what else about this season?
This winter you are starting to say more words - bus, truck, light, and duck just this week.
You can put all the animal pieces in your sound puzzle by yourself. Then you give me a high five.
We have a new bedtime routine thanks to your Big Boy Bed. You sleep with 85 stuffed animals, 12 trucks, an ab roller, 2 nuks, and your blanket. (Whatever, man.)
You are open to more foods and I continue to be grateful for your love of fruits and vegetables. I've always been a big snacker, but you know how to make braided pretzel sticks fun.
You nap for less than 3 hours now, but still relish that time alone in your room every afternoon. (What are you doing in there?)
You color a lot - and you are trying to hold your crayons like me.
You dance with fury and passion. There is a house band playing in your head and heart every morning at 7:30am. (I dedicate your poops to that band. It really gets things moving.)
You are wildly affectionate. Hugs, cuddles, and kisses. When I ask for "loving", you wander over and nestle your head into my neck. You always relax for a minute and exhale with a soft, "mmm" sound. Thanks to this ritual, I will never forget your gentleness and sweet smell in the midst of rowdy, busy toddlerhood.
You like seeing pictures of "Baby Jasper". Sometimes I grab you and (using my best Julia Child voice) say, "When Jasper was a little baby, I used to cuddle him and sing Rockabye Baby..." I rock you back and forth like a newborn, your long legs dangling and kicking beyond my reach. You squeal and make cooing noises, happily giving into the snugglefest.
You are funny. You are sarcastic and silly and sassy. You make lots of faces and crack yourself up.
You are also quite bossy and moody. You are a toddler and you don't let me forget that very often. Everything's a big deal and emotionally urgent. (You act like me at age 13, which was not my finest year.)
Today I preached from Joel. Some Jews have returned from exile and home isn't the way it used to be. And so God calls them home again. Give me your hearts, not your clothing. I want full custody, not weekend visits. Return to me and things will change - not the locusts or the sadness or the chaos. That remains and is real. But things will be different because I will be right there. I will ask you what you're longing for. I will wait there while you wonder. And I will listen when you dare to answer.
This is a good text for the season of Advent. It gets me thinking about what I'm longing for.
I'm wondering about that now that the house is dark. My boys are in bed. The street is quiet again. Peace surrounds me and, though the aches are still there, and I realize that I'm longing for more of this.
Sleigh rides and red noses.
My son growing to love the beauty of winter layers.
A place to return home in the midst of things that ache.