I’m the proudest aunt of Madeleine, Noah, Pierce and George. Here are some images from my little brother’s family visit several weeks ago.
I’m the proudest aunt of Madeleine, Noah, Pierce and George. Here are some images from my little brother’s family visit several weeks ago.
Showing Dad *exactly* what she wants for Christmas. Which is only six days away. And I’m pretty sure we’re celebrating it a day early. But whatevs.
Sometimes I marvel at the way God gifts us differently. Looking at a million pictures of longed-for presents would not be my cup of tea, and yet my husband stands there patiently, listening to his daughter’s interests and kindly scrolls backwards and forwards at her whim. When I want to speed up, he is fine with slowing down. Thank the Lord for this man! And this girl. I’m blessed with these two!
I remember talking with my tablemates at Horn Creek Camp (good old PYA!) about what table manners they had been taught growing up. A few funny things came to my attention, like the fact that some kids heard that you could reach across the table as long as one of your feet was on the ground. I knew that one was, uh, so. not. true.
Fast forward to yesterday when I reached for a cookie sheet and spied plastic IKEA placemats purchased last year. I’ve never used them with Livia, but just glimpsing them made me ask this question on Facebook:
I’m curious about my generation & younger… Are you all teaching your kids table manners—from how to eat/talk appropriately at the table to how to set a table? Were you explicitly taught these things as a kid? Have you ever been in a situation where you really didn’t know how to conduct yourself at a dinner?
I felt an immediate need to write a disclaimer like, “PARENTS OF LITTLE CHILDREN, I AM NOT JUDGING YOU.” But I held back because there was no judgement intended in my fairly straightforward question. It’s okay to ask questions—truly we don’t need to hold each others’ hands, right? But now I’m going to say it for real. Sweet parents of small children, you are not judged. I know you’re working so hard to feed your kid three square meals and a million snacks a day. I know you’re tired. Stop reading now if you’d like.
My mom probably deserves 100% of the credit for teaching us Lawton kids table manners. I’m sure dad reinforced her teaching and certainly wanted us to be polite and respectful at the table, but all the lessons taught came from mom. (This is the part where I write that my childhood memories are a giant blur. I remember very random things, mostly feelings—but my brothers tend to remember more specifics so they are free to add to the conversation here.) We ate at the dinner table almost exclusively. My mom and dad fed us healthy food and we didn’t always like it. Okay, so we were kind of terrible. I’m sure dinnertime wasn’t always pleasant when you served kids who didn’t like spaghetti. But we were sure as heck taught table manners. Mouths closed. Ask to be excused before leaving. No reaching, but ask for dishes to be passed. We knew where the silverware all went and how to set the table. The more fancy stuff came later, but because we had good training as smaller children, fine dining never really seemed daunting.
I am not as good a teacher as my mom.
We don’t always eat at the dinner table. There are only three of us and we have a LOT of together time. I don’t always make my child set the table because, let’s face it, it’s faster if I do it. I have more training to do—my 12 year old is not quite ready for the world yet (imagine that). But I want her to be ready when she leaves our home. I want her to feel comfortable eating appropriately on a date as well as in her boss’s home someday. I’d like her to wait for the hostess to sit before diving into any meal or dessert. I want her to know how to signal to the wait staff that she has finished her meal, and I’d like for her to establish her own dinner times with confidence in a home of her own someday.
In the bigger picture, I see table etiquette as a small part of my job as a mom. There are a million things I’m trying to instill in my daughter and I’m praying much of it sticks.
Today was my dad’s last day at Chick-fil-A as he’s moving back into a position in his chosen field. Though based on the comments I’ve received from friends and strangers alike, you may have thought hospitality was his field! Anyone who has been around Dad in a hospital environment or church nursery knows that he’s the Chief Baby Whisperer. He’ll grab your baby and willingly walk the halls while you worship or run to the restroom or, say, eat your chicken sandwich in peace for a minute. It’s been a joy to watch my dad’s smile light up the restaurant and I’ve heard time and time again that he’s shown grace to parents and children alike within that space. I’ve heard of his sweet care for a little one with Down’s Syndrome and of his humility in cleaning up those common-yet-unfortunate playplace pee accidents. Many of my girlfriends have met and hugged my dad at Chick-fil-A and another friend, upon meeting my mom and learning the Mayor was my dad, looked at me and said, “Now you completely make sense!” (which was perhaps the greatest compliment I’ve ever received).
So as David Lawton moves back to the realm of nursing, we all suspect that his care and hospitality will simply move locations. I’ve learned so many things from my dad, but perhaps most important is knowing that his heart, which loves God first, reflects that love to others wherever he serves. May God bless this new journey, Dad! We’re proud of you.
Two or three nights a month spirits are poured and cards are played in our basement. I love having these guys (and sometimes girls) over and I love watching Jeremy’s use his gifts of hospitality.
Week Two of Liv-goes-to-middle-school is winding down and Week One of Bec-goes-to-grad-school is almost in the books, too. There is a new normal in the Tredway household, and no matter how fantastic the new normal is, it always takes some getting used to.
Livia and I are are getting up earlier than ever to make it to her first bell and this requires some advance planning. Lunch made, clothes laid out, alarm clocks obeyed, backpack packed, etc. The early start time means I am free to work earlier as well, though my new student status is still being explored and placed into a manageable routine. I’m used to moving quickly and I don’t sit still often in my usual tasks as photographer, writer, household manager and church volunteer. I have a to-do list and it often involves calling, emailing, arranging details all while throwing laundry in the wash or running to Target for toilet paper. Academic work is something else. Large passages of text need to be consumed. Hours of lectures need to be heard and, most importantly, understood. Notes should be taken and classroom involvement—even in the online context of my coursework—is necessary. I’m still figuring out how to accomplish this new role, and sometimes how to marry it with my other tasks.
I’ll tell you what I’ve learned today: doubling a banana bread recipe AND listening to a lecture (and taking notes) is potentially disastrous. I ran to jot down a note and then looked at the bag of flour, all neatly rolled up and waiting to be placed back in the pantry and simply couldn’t remember if I had doubled it or not. I leaned on my years of experience of baking and decided the batter would let me know, only…it didn’t. I couldn’t tell! So basically I put two pans in the oven and waited to see if I ended up with banana bread or some version of banana pudding that only I would eat.
Here’s to a new chapter of life, a new adventure of studying the Life and Letters of Paul (via Covenant Theological Seminary)—and doing it, Lord willing, with excellence.
I’ve often thought that God made babies so darn cute so that their parents continue to take good care of them. I’ll never forget holding our first foster baby from 3-6:00am one night, her giant brown eyes following me in the dark, and my two competing thoughts were, “WHY AREN’T YOU ASLEEP?” and “Gosh darn it, you are SO CUTE.” The world tends to adore babies, and when you’re up in the night for three hours straight with a newborn, those compliments you receive on social media might be the only thing keeping you going. Well, that and coffee. But babies grow. The compliments fade. And eventually you have a kid with gawky teeth who is taking awkward school pictures that even retake day can’t fix. Everyone loves a baby, but not so much the elementary kid whose has teeth five times too large for his mouth. Mama, Grandma and your BFF still love that one.
I don’t get asked childrearing questions very often anymore and I think it’s because I have one child who is now 12. Oh, and maybe it’s because I do a lot of my living alongside someone who blogs about parenting. She’s a professional question-answerer so that makes sense. A lot of my parenting experience, however, is hidden and no one can see it. I did the math recently and realized that if God had answered many of my desires for children with “yes’s” rather than “no’s” Jeremy and I would have six children. One privately adopted, one biological, and the final four adopted from foster care. For sure we still have those six in our hearts, with only the first one being the child God has given us to raise for good.
Our plans, as hopeful as they were, didn’t turn into our reality. I’m still coming to terms with this truth. I allow little daggers to enter my heart, to pierce those old desires and entice me to “what if’s” and “if only’s.” I let the memes and defensive lines from large families hurt my soul. I wanted to be one of those large families. I read about people who have more children because they value sibling relationships greatly, and I struggle to not to be filled with regret. As capable as I am, providing a sibling for Livia was not something I could arrange. I hear jokes about only children, about how spoiled they are, and allow these asides to fill me with irritation. I didn’t plan on one, I want to shout. I had hoped for more.
There was Livia. And a baby miscarried. And a very temporary foster daughter. Two foster sons gone home by a judge’s changed orders. And a beloved foster baby reunified with his beautiful family. Six total.
But that’s only the six that reside most deeply in our hearts. There were more.
There was the baby boy we got incredibly close to adopting, only to have his parents choose the other couple. There was the teenager we prayed over, raised in absolutely horrific conditions who, in the end, required much more than we could give. There was the toddler we spent the day with a small town nearby, the one we bought a stuffed animal for and fed Runza fries to, the one given to another family within 24 hours of coming to live with us permanently. There was the three year old girl who needed a family, the one who the state placed elsewhere with no reason whatsoever given to us. And in between those cases there were calls upon calls with hours upon hours of waiting for information, prayers of all kinds being raised up for wisdom and perfect timing.
So when I read a meme supporting large families or see beautiful pictures of siblings loving one another, I think of our story and have to draw a conclusion. Here is the one I’ve settled on:
God has created my family. And he is pleased to give me one child.
One daughter. One twelve year old now in middle school. No siblings older than her, and no siblings younger. But this is our one, and she is enough. I felt God asking me that question, the question of, “What will satisfy you?”
“Will another child make you content?”
“Why is one not enough?”
“When will you be satisfied?”
In my tears and sadness I had to admit that one is enough. ONE IS ENOUGH. Though I’ve been a mother to many and will carry them forever in my heart, one is what he’s given to me to care for daily and that. is. enough.
We all have different stories and no two stories are the same. No one’s story can be read entirely via a Facebook status or a picture on Instagram. We all have hurts and we all have joys, and to compare our stories will never bring us satisfaction. At the end of the day I cling to God’s promises and the knowledge I have of his character. He is good, he provides for ALL my needs, he is never asleep on the job, and I will only find my hope and joy in him. Not in babies, as cute as they are, and not in big kids in all their awkward glory. No job can complete my spirit, no spouse is perfect like God, no amount of travel or fine dining or hobbies or education can ever fill up my heart. It’s a real challenge to keep my eyes on the Lord and trust him, but that’s the goal, that’s MY goal, and He is where my soul will always be refreshed.
**Note: Each image above represents one of the other children God has given Jeremy and me, for short periods of time. I carried a baby in my womb to the Grand Canyon upon our visit to Arizona. I remember getting carsick as we drove mountain paths and more than once I chose vegetables over french fries even though that was not my norm. I now feel incredibly grateful for such an eventful short pregnancy as I recall the little life I carried at that time.
The black and white image shows Livia with her first foster sister. What a joy she was even as I was stretched by sleeplessness! The second photo shows Jeremy and one of the little boys we had the privilege to love for five weeks. We anticipated a much longer journey with them, and I believe this image was captured the night before they went home. It was a stunning departure. The final image shows Livia and me on a train ride with our last foster baby. This little guy had lots of people in his life who adored him and we got to walk through that experience with his family, which was a privilege all its own. I still count his reunification as a huge joy.
No one looks smart with their tongue hanging outside their mouth. Oddly enough, this little thing grazed the back deck like a cow. Mmmmm, fresh snow!
The snow is absolutely beautiful. And I am more than happy to observe it from the inside of our warm, cozy house. Our front and back windows make it seem like God took some sort of sprayer and went nuts with it last night; from the west and the east, our house has been plastered with white. Under the patio covering even, the chairs and fire pit have become wintery versions of their chipper summer selves.
Today we are content to stay safe indoors and have delightful plans of reading books and perhaps making cookies. Jeremy, however, walked down the hall to the office and logged in per his usual routine. We’ll share some cookies with him.