Chicago Weekend With My Almost Teenager

Miss Maddie turns 13 tomorrow.  13 is a big deal in our family, partly because we have never had our own teenager before, and partly because in our culture, becoming a teenager is sort of a really big deal.

To celebrate this special birthday, Maddie and I made a trip to Chicago and stayed at a nice motel right downtown. (Paid for by Rob’s frequent flyer miles-Yay!) She had a little birthday money to spend, so we hit Watertower Place and a few other shops. She loves to shop, but I do have to say she knows how to stretch her money as far as possible.  I love that about Maddie.

Throughout our time together, we also went through the Passport to Purity book and CD’s. It is a great resource for tweens just crossing over the line from tween to teen.  We talked about boys, dating, God, and girl stuff.  We had some really great conversations, all highly confidential, and I promised I would not blog, tweet, or Facebook about them.  I totally respect her privacy, but some of our funnier conversations would have been great blogging material.  🙂

As some of you know, I am a HUGE Insagram fan.  If you don’t know what that is, Instagram is an iPhone photo application that allows you to edit and upload your iPhone photos into a really brilliantly creative community of fellow amateur photographers (and some not-so amateur).  Well, I found out that Instagram Chicago was doing a photo walk only a few miles from where we were staying, and Maddie and I went.  Maddie is also a huge Instagram fan, and takes some pretty amazing photos.  It was so much fun meeting fellow Instagram friends that I have been following for awhile.  Most of the pics you see above are from our photo walk through Lincoln Park in Chicago.

We had a great time together, and  I know lots of memories were made.  It was exhausting, but a huge investment into Maddie’s teenage years.


5th Grade Field Trip Fun

Whitney is in her last few weeks of elementary school. I really can not believe how quickly her elementary school years have flown by. Just “yesterday” I was putting her downstairs on the couch with a warm bottle of milk for her rest time. It was her favorite place to hang out at the time, and she watched the same movie every day for a year.  Occasionally she got bored during her rest time and cut a few holes in the couch with scissors. I remember it felt like such a big deal at the time, but now it is just a funny memory. Her excuse was that her hand “slipped” and it was all a very tragic accident.

Another time, she accidentally drew a gigantic smiley face on our wood floor with a Sharpie. Again, huge big deal at the time, now just a funny memory.

All the parents who have babies just learning to toddle or are starting school for the first year, or are marking any of these milestones, I encourage you to live each second with them as deeply as fully as you can. The time you have with your babies goes so, so fast. They won’t always want you to tuck them in at night, make them a warm bottle, or cut holes in your couch on accident.

I spent a long day yesterday with Whitney’s 5th grade class travelling to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. We had such a great time. I knew it would be a long day when I signed up, but I was determined to have a great attitude and do all I could to make it a great day for Whit. On the way there, she said to me, “Mom, it’s good we are having some one-on-one time today. We really need it.” Throughout the day, she expressed to me about five times how glad she was that I came along. She was so overwhelmed with happiness at one point, she kissed me full on the mouth in front of her friends.

Spending that day with Whit was such a rewarding experience for her and for me. I am so glad we have so many great memories from her 5th grade field trip to share together.
Hold on to your babies parents. Grandparents, hold on to your grand-babies. You won’t ever have the chance to live this day again.

Photos with brittani in chicago


One of the amazing things we got to do a few weeks ago on our Spring Break mini-vacation to Chicago was a family photo shoot with the ever-fabulous BrittaniRenee. She is a wonderful family friend, and I have to say, this was the most fun photo shoot we have ever done as a family.  The girls were cooperative (littlest is a huge ham, but normally detests standing still for photos).  They really did great.  It was freezing in the shade, but we made them take their coats off to show off our matching gray sweaters with colorful t-shirts underneath.  They were so funny–jumping up and down, huffing and puffing to keep warm.  We were lucky enough to stumble past the Hershey’s store on Michigan Ave. to get some much needed hot cocoa.

The photos you see are just sneak previews of a bunch of really neat ones to come.  I can’t decide on a favorite, although the one above may be inching up toward the top of my list. It was taken at the Fourth Presbyterian church directly across from Water Tower Place. I used to go sit in that courtyard and pray when I lived in the city. It was a quiet place, one of the only quiet places I could find, and I loved it.  I did a whole lot of thinking and writing there, so it was pretty special to take our family there to get some pictures!

If you need a photographer, Brittani is amazing. For real!

StreetFam2 This is one of the last pics we took that day. I had to hold Belle because she wouldn’t quit pinching Maddie.  Shhh…don’t tell her I told you so. 




Dot and Pete and The Global Neighborhood

Dot and Pete

Say what you will, but I think social media is a wonderful thing indeed.  It's today's Global Neighborhood. 

Growing up, I was the 9th grandchild on my Dad's side, the first girl in the Lanting family for something like a hundred years.  You can only imagine how excited my Grandmother was to finally have a little doll baby to dress up and put lace, ruffles, and bows on. 

Sadly, just a few days before I was born, my Grandfather had a heart attack and almost died.  It wasn't looking good, so my Grandma did what she knew she should.  She called the elders of her church to come and pray for Grandpa to be healed.  Her church didn't come.  They didn't believe in healing or something like that, so Grandma asked my parents if the elders of their church would come and pray that he wouldn't die, but live.  They came and prayed for him, and he lived another 10 years.

I am so grateful that I got to know my Grandpa.  He was a peaceful and gentle man, full of compassion and caring.  My Grandma spent the next 10 years caring for him, as his health was never the same.  I remember her giving and giving to him and everyone else around her and never once complaining.

I spent lots of time with my Grandma, and we were very, very close.  She died about a year after Whitney was born, and I am so glad she got to meet at least two of my kids.

Back to social media being a Global Neighborhood…

The stories my Grandma, Grandpa, Dad, and Uncles tell us all about the neighborhood they lived in near Chicago called Roseland, are filled with hilarious tales of wonderful characters, woven with lots of love.  Everyone disciplined everyone else’s kids, ate meals together, went to church together.  No one was alone and everyone was loved.  My Grandma used to drag me to "Roseland Reunions" for years.  It drove me nuts, but I was always amazed at how these people treated each other like family even though they weren’t.

My Dad made some connections with some of these old "family members" through Facebook a few weeks ago, and one of them dug up this old photo of my Grandparents none of us has ever seen.  Seeing this photo is like finding buried treasure for me.  I love how happy and healthy my Grandparents look.  It is how I picture them now that they are in Heaven together.  My Grandma missed my Grandpa so much after he died.  She told me all the time how glad she was that she would see him "soon".  I can't wait to see them someday soon.  The hope we have for Heaven is a very good thing indeed.