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Finding Joy: Biscotti, Books and Babies

We’re finding joy in cozier pursuits as of late.  Feeling the European vibe Friday morning, I put the boys to work shelling pistachios.  Cookie #2 of our challenge… chocolate pistachio biscotti.  Being a biscotti novice, I was intrigued.  Originating in Italy, biscotti is the plural form of the Latin word biscotto, meaning “twice-baked.”  Biscotti was originally made in this manner to be stored for long periods of time.  However, these days, the dry element they boast makes them best served as a duo.  A perfect complement to a hot cup of coffee, tea, or a chilled glass of milk.  Dunkable Oreos for adults.

I figured I would be doing most of the pistachio shelling and de-skinning, but Jamison was a pistachio shelling machine.  I felt like maybe I should give him a nickel per pistachio for his efforts, but luckily there was the occasional reward of a wayward pistachio landing in his mouth vs. the bowl.  Hard-won victories for these vibrant green beauties.

In addition to cookies, we’ve been frolicking with mother goose & flirting with Christina Rossetti.  Jack and I are reading Childcraft’s Poems Of Early Childhood and I’m not sure who is enjoying it more.  Okay, it’s probably me, but I muse how lucky I am to be reading poetry to my almost 4-year-old and he hasn’t bolted yet.  I admit I do try my best to read each poem in my most energetic, exciting voice possible.  Between Humpty Dumpty and Wee Willie Winkie some masterful editors tucked in treasures from Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson and Eugene Field.  Copyrighted in 1954, not only is the book a treasure trove of classic nursery rhymes and poetry, but it overflows with gorgeous illustrations from some of the most notable early to mid-20th century illustrators including Milo Winter, Willy Pogany, Eloise Wilkin & Janet Laura Scott.  If you need art for a play room or nursery, check it out, done, done and done.

Woven in beautifully with fanciful and other-worldly illustrations are words of humor, heart, reverence and simple pleasures.  Wonder and appreciation abound about spiders, trees, rainbows and the rustling wind.  It reinforces the innate presence of a child’s imagination before doubt or creative limits have severed the possible from the impossible.  This fragile and brief window of time feels like a delicate egg in my hand.  I cautiously cradle it for fear of breaking its very penetrable shell.  The joy found in imaginative children’s books is a good reminder for me to let reality sit in the waiting room for a spell yet.  First, I’ll let curiosity and creativity in, followed by confidence, and then bolstered by reassurance.  One poem we especially enjoyed:

On The Hill by Mildred Bowers Armstrong

The hill was paved with buttercups
And roofed with birch and pine,
And far below, beyond the town,
I saw the river shine.

The sky was just above the trees
Where anyone could look.
The wind was turning pages
In a cloudland picture book.

Angelo Patri writes a sweet and moving introduction to the book.  “All the good we have done, all the progress we have made and some of the failures, all the beauty, all the poetry, all the magic of life are set down in the little black marks that trail across the white pages of books… Make no mistake about it, a child needs the spiritual refuge that books afford.  With a touch of his hand he can open a door that leads to the pleasant place where actuality gives place to dream and hope and inspired faith.  Once a child becomes absorbed in his book he feels safe and secure with the world closed out… A good book inspires a child to follow some path to its end where he finds happiness and a sweet content.”  Books are such an emotional refuge for so many.

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about what if anything I should get Jack involved in this summer.  And the resounding answer I keep coming back to is nothing.  There is so much pressure these days to have your child signed up for so many very involved sports and activities at such a young age, I want to let all that sit in the waiting room of our children’s lives as well, for just a little bit longer.  I want one more summer of playing outside with the hose and going for walks and picking up feathers and pine cones.  I want the boys to climb trees and eat ice cream and run around.  I want them to frolic with Dr. Seuss and flirt with Christina Rossetti.  I want them to have picnics under big oak trees and rides on big tractors.  Right now, I say no to all the rest.

Last week, I got to do something really special.  I got to lay eyes on a beautiful baby girl just moments after she was born.  A planned C-section for my sweet friend Amy.  On route to the hospital, I nervously slammed my entire travel mug of coffee, while I navigated the slick roads and Mack trucks that rushed by me, slapping my windshield with dark slush and snow.  I was honored to be a part of Amy’s official baby welcoming crew.

Amy and I joked the night before that we couldn’t find time to meet for coffee, but major surgery and baby snuggling, well we take those commitments seriously.  But that’s how it is with our closest friends.  No matter how long it’s been since we last got together, all the important stuff is still the same, the rest is just details.

The C-section was scheduled for 8:00am.  Two emergency C-sections bumped Amy until a little after 1:00pm.

Bella Savannah was born a little before 2:00pm.  And as all gifts so fresh from God, she was perfect – healthy and sweet, with long dark hair.  And mama did just fine, too.  So brave.  Thank you Amy for asking me to be a part of Bella’s birth day.  It was an honor to help welcome Bella and hold your baby girl in my arms, if only for a few moments.  She is gorgeous, just like her mama.

The days of late feel weighted and full.  My head rushes a bit when I let myself acknowledge the gangly legs that hang down to my knees belong to my once baby, now little boy.  It feels good to be in a place where there is little to wish away.  I don’t long for school to be out or to lay down my pen on that last exam.  I don’t want 5 o’clock or Friday to come any quicker than Monday morning.  It’s all good, but mostly the days are a gift to remind myself of.  And to steal a phrase from super-mama Kelle Hampton, “last babies are frosting.”  Bella Savannah, you are the sweet and brilliant icing atop Amy’s already vibrant blessings.  You are so special and so loved.

Have a joyful week friends!




Love!! ♥♥♥♥♥♥

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