Enjoying a special ‘back-to-school’ meal
Our “baby” started kindergarten this week! It’s been said that time waits for no one and she is living proof.
The miracle of her birth on March 6, 2005 will forever glow bright in my mind. As Dr. Christa Andrews-Fike placed Lydia in Jan’s arms for the first time, our hearts were streamed with appreciative and blissful emotions. And indeed as we counted her sweet little fingers and toes, we absorbed the purest of human contentment.
As a father I have had the deluxe privilege of spending a tremendous amount of time with our daughter-and for that, I will forever be grateful. Perhaps it was the fact that I was an older father and knew in my heart that her eyes and smile could bring me pleasure like nothing else in this world. I felt vigilant about sharing with her the many blessings and pleasures this world has shown and given me. Her very first night at home included the singing of one of my favorite hymns “Day by Day” and it was followed with “I the Lord of Sea and Sky,” “A New Commandment,” and “Hallelujah.” I wanted her to know early on that hymns can be a great comfort to us on weary, as well as joyful, days. Before long, I would hear that little voice calling, “Daddy come and sing Day by Day to me.” The comprehension of a child is amazing and should not be underestimated. Today, she knows this hymn by heart, where I know forever it will remain.
Another one of the great refreshments of this world is art. Early on I started sharing with Lydia the beauty of a ladybug on a green leaf, wheat blowing in the wind, and the joy of a sliver of paint on a weathered screen door. Next to her bed hangs a full-sized Degas reproduction of ballet dancers. We have chatted many hours about this painting and have stroked into her mind the greatness of this impressionist. What delight came to me as she named her little green and orange teddy bear Degas! In her play purse I often find my miniature Degas book!
She was a week old before I took her into the kitchen and perched her car seat on the counter. I shared that one of her early duties would be learning to crack eggs-then, of course to separate and, in time, peel them. Today she has passed the egg test, so I rarely have a chance to crack, separate or peel them on my own. Those little fingers work well, and her voice often says “Now Daddy, I can do this on my own!” This is also the same little voice that often brings a spoon to sample and then says, “Oh yes, that does have good flavor!”
Lydia is now very aware of the four seasons. What a wonderful and intricate device the seasons provide for learning. She wonders why snow falls, why lilacs only bloom in spring, why some grass is greener than others, and how come trees take their clothes off in the fall! We have shared many walks to Ellery Park-first with the baby pram, next was the stroller, soon came little steps, then her tricycle that she insisted we ride “beyond Baillie’s house,” which is three blocks west of ours! How quickly we transitioned to the bike-first, of course, with those little training wheels carefully balancing her.
At the end of day I find myself often standing in the doorway of her bedroom. The soft glow from her Noah’s Arc nightlight spilling across her tawny hair and cuddling one of Mommy’s nightgowns in her hand-a practice she learned early on when Mommy had to be away at nights. She rests in pure contentment as the fragrance of mommy reassures her senses. Often Lydia and Mommy fall asleep together- knowing that this moment is to be enjoyed because, before long, it will be reclaimed by busy lives.
This summer Lydia has enjoyed recycling many of Jan’s pumps. You can see her playing dress up and frolicking up and down our sidewalk in them. One of her very favorite pairs of Jan’s shoes are multi-colored ones of yellow, blue, purple, and orange. Recently, she insisted on wearing them to a restaurant. We entered at the same time as an elderly lady who was also coming in, and she said, “Now there’s a girl after my own heart. She is living life to its fullest.”
Our “baby” is now five years old and has already started her first day of kindergarten. She was excited and certainly enjoyed meeting her teacher, Mrs. Bartsch, at a recent open house. Mrs. Bartsch greeted Lydia with a smile and ushered her into her cheery room to show Lydia her spot at the table. Each child’s birthday is displayed on a paper cupcake, books abound-along with a colorful rug and even a Polka-dotted curtain valance. For a moment, I stood there as a sprinkle of moisture welled up in my eyes, and I realized I have no regrets of time well spent and joys we have shared. Her world will now be wider, and she more vulnerable. However, the early influences of her parents, hymns, art, nature, cooking, and even wearing flashy pumps, will only add to the magic of her education.
We decided in our home that we needed to have a special “first day of school meal.” It was a no-brainer! Lydia loves roast beef, gravy, and mashed potatoes. I first witnessed delicious roast beef cooked in an electric kettle by my mother-in-law, Delores Thompson, of Ray. Her roasts turn out just marvelous! In the heat of summer when you want delicious roast beef, you can achieve it without heating up the kitchen with the full oven.
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