The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read on Child Safety

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Sorry about that title.

This article probably won’t help you much when it comes to child safety.

Because, frankly, for the past seven years, I have learned one important lesson from the internet and the news: children die out there.

There are the obvious fears that we face as parents: cancer, drowning, strangulation, suffocation, choking, car accidents, being ran over, accidental shootings, targeted shootings…

but in case we weren’t scared enough already, there’s also all of the obscure stuff out there that makes the rounds on Facebook and 24-hour news channels like wildfire: secondary drowning, sandhole collapsesbrain-eating amoebas in pond water, etc., etc., etc.

Every possible way in which a child was harmed or has died is cataloged and published and shared and you’re sitting there zoned out in front of your computer reading about it like a slumped-over toad (because isn’t that what we all look like while we’re on the computer?), but on the inside this scream of hysteria is building in your throatal regions because your greatest fear – losing this little piece of you that you love so fiercely – is being described in another harrowing tale, and even worse, in a new horrible way that you never even dreamed of!!!

Seriously?

A sandhole collapse on the beach?

The water and the sharks weren’t scary enough?

Or the pedophiles?

Now we’re dealing with sand, too?!

Please, please, PLEASE don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of being prepared, and I am so grateful to the brave mothers who shared their stories to inform us of potential dangers that might threaten our children.

But you know what I don’t love?

Adding fear to my fear.

Adding worry to my worry.

Adding terrifying tableaux to my suitcase of worst-case scenarios.

I had so many of those already.

And now, I’m not only a wreck as I watch my kids swim, paranoid that I won’t see the nearly undetectable signs of drowning

now I’m watching them for hours afterward to make sure they are not secondarily drowning… 

and my mama-sized panic is compounding and I’m thinking crazy little somethings like this...

You know, Rebekah got some water in her nose and choked for a while. I read that the symptoms of secondary drowning are lethargy and sluggishness. But…my kids just swam for seven hours and now they’re all sacked out like corpses in the living room…what if she is drowning right now??? Should I wake her up? I know I’m being crazy. But…what if I’m wrong and its too late?!..

Sometimes, when I’m not panicking in the midst of all these potential dangers, toils and snares, I can’t help but reminisce about my carefree childhood in Oklahoma where my best friend and I could go meandering down our remote gravel road, sticking our feet in the creek, playing alone in the barn, going swimming in the pond…

you know what?

My kids don’t know that life.

Because, six years ago, two girls were shot and killed while meandering down an Oklahoma country road very similar to the one that I used to frequent.

Gravel roads haven’t looked safe since.

And there are snakes in the creek.

And there could be deadly amoebas in the pond.

And there could be sex offenders near the barn.

And that’s just the beginning.

They can’t drink out of the waterhose. That’s toxic.

If the baby falls asleep in his carseat, we should wake him up after we bring him inside because nine babies died from sleeping in carseats this year (by the way, why is this article all over Facebook right now when it was written in 2006?!).

Oh! And speaking of Baby Shepherd, OH MY GOSH, there is a balloon next to him and it must be popped and discarded of because if a baby even touches a balloon, they could inhale it and choke to death!!!

And sorry, this is off the subject a bit, but did you know that having a child blow out the candles on a birthday cake is a great carrier for germs?

(not to mention their hair could catch on fire).

God?

I’m freaking out here.

Again, I sincerely don’t want to be misunderstood: my point is not that it is bad to be informed.

Information is good.

Warnings are great.

Education is a gift.

And you’d better believe that if something tragic happened to my child that I could help others to avoid, I would do everything I could to get the word out.

My point has nothing to do with the information, really…

and everything to do with what we DO with the information.

How do we respond when we read these warnings?

Do they make us paranoid?

Do they chew up our bellies with fear?

Do they cause us to imagine the worst?

Do they make us feel helpless?

These kinds of responses are red flags, and they are scarier than pond water, because they belie a problem that is deeply rooted within us, a problem that is as old as time and feels impossible to shake…

We don’t trust God.

We want to BE God.

And, deep down, we hope that if we do this and avoid that and plan for this that nothing bad will happen to our children, ever.

All of which point to a most unbiblical conclusion…

we think that the only hope for our children is us.

And that is how the simple act of reading internet articles can be a diving board that catapults us into very dangerous waters; cataloging every possible death trap and fearing every single worst-case scenario, we subconsciously trample upon every word the Bible says about God’s sovereignty, about His goodness, about His will, and about His calling.

Through our fear and helplessness, we discard the scriptures that we so vocally uphold, saying aloud “Yes, Lord! You are so good and ‘I surrender all’ and ‘have thine own way’ and all those Christiany things I’m supposed to say” while our hearts are kind of screaming “YOU AREN’T BIG ENOUGH, GOD, AND YOU DON’T CARE ENOUGH”.

If you think that sounds like an exaggeration, consider how the article about secondary drowning receives our rapt attention while God-breathed texts like Romans 8 gather dust on our bedside table…

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Did you hear that?

This is just one tiny excerpt from a book that is TEEMING with hope.

Hope for me.

Hope for my kids.

And while those ancient words may not contain step-by-step instructions for keeping my kids alive, they provide so much more, a bountiful feast of peace and truth for my fearful soul…

a wellspring of beautiful principles that my starving and terrified heart devours.

God is in control.

God is good.

God does everything for my good.

God created my kids.

God loves my kids more than I do.

God has a plan for me that will bring Him glory.

Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

I am in Christ, and my children can be trusted to Him.

There are greater things to fear than death.

Granted, the Bible makes no promise that all of my safety- and wellness-centered prayers for my children will be answered; in fact, most passages of comfort in the Word were written to a people who were enduring suffering like many of us have never seen.

It is inevitable: every person dies and no one is exempt from pain and sadness.

But when I read the Word, it helps me to breathe.

It realigns my heart with a truth that I cannot inwardly deny.

It stamps a purpose and a hope upon even my worst-case scenarios.

And it reminds me that this life isn’t even the one I’m supposed to be living for, anyway, and that, if God would be so gracious, I have eternity to spend with each of my most-beloved children.

Eternity!

So yes, let’s read and share all the articles and take the precautions as we slather on the suncreen and zip up the sleepsacks and fasten the safety helmets and cut up the grapes and mince the hot dogs and AVOID ALL WATER, PERIOD…

but let’s also stop living as if there is no God.

After all, there is really nothing more toxic, hazardous, poisonous or dangerous than that.

 ~

Want to keep up with Mrs. Gore’s Diary? Find us on facebook! I promise not to share scary articles there. :)

Refusing to Blink: savoring the season of childhood

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If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.

“Enjoy every minute.”

“They’ll be grown before you know it.”

“It goes by so fast.”

In my pre-motherhood days, I thought these were just the sentimental musings of people who were either being dramatic or who couldn’t think of anything else to say and so they just made the token grandparent statements they’d heard other people make.

At one time, it even frustrated me. After being encouraged yet again not to get in a tizzy about dishes and housekeeping because I’d have plenty of time for those things when the kids grew up, I thought to myself “Lady, I am cherishing my children, okay, but I can’t just sit and look at them all day long! At some point, I HAVE to do the dishes…”

But that was just my hormones talking; if I was being more honest with myself and less prideful, I knew what she meant and that her intentions were only to help me.

And now?

Well…now, I’m the one making these statements.

Because, while I’m far from being a grandparent, I totally “get” it.

Babies don’t keep” isn’t some figurative thought that sounds good in a poem.

It is literal.

Childhood is literally short.

A year used to be the amount of time it took me to get from one Christmas to the next.

Now, it means that my infant has gone through at least three sizes of clothing and has grown teeth, a personality and the ability to communicate.

It means that my toddler has gone from eating markers to making works of art with them.

It means that my preschooler has gone from talking super cute to talking super normal, perfectly pronouncing “r’s” and “l’s” and correctly using pronouns.

It means that my 1st grader has gone from sincerely asking if we could go to Little Bear’s house for a visit to requesting anything other than “Little Bear” when we turn on the television.

A year in a child’s life might be 365 days, but those 365 days are crammed full of growing and shifting and changing.

And what about four years?

Four years used to measure the amount of time it took to get through high school.

Now, four years means I can go from a world completely immersed in “all things baby” to a world completely devoid of cribs, playpens, highchairs, bottles, diapers, onesies, and strollers.

If that thought is one part wonderful, it is three parts terrible!

So you see what I mean?

The cliches make perfect sense…

blink, and you really might miss it.

And that’s why I am feeling this urgency in my spirit, one that is reorienting my goals to cradle this season of my life like it will be over tomorrow, because…

it will.

I can see it everytime I look at Gideon’s big-kid front teeth…

everytime Rebekah laughs at a joke that I thought would be over her head…

everytime Betsie sings a song and gets the lyrics right…

everytime Shepherd eats a more solid food than he ate the day before…

everytime I look at a picture from last year and feel the floor drop out from under my feet because they’ve changed SO much and I didn’t even see it happen.

Motherhood, itself, is so full of change and growth and bewilderment, and it can be exceedingly difficult to grasp these things in the moment; young pups like us are sadly gifted at getting everything flipped upside down.

We have to shuttle the kids around like this because we have to get “this” done because “this” is so important.

We have to feel the burden of the mess and the clutter and we can’t rest until it is cleaned up!

We need to get this project – that we voluntarily invented – completed NOW. Today. Without delay. Before we run out of time!

But I’m looking around at my life, and the only thing that truly has a deadline around here are these four little humans that are getting taller every minute.

If childhood is literally short, there comes with it an expiration date.

A ticking clock.

And I have lots of stuff to squeeze in before the buzzer goes off…

Nursery rhymes. I want to read them every day until we can recite them in our sleep.

Silly songs and lullabies. I used to dream of the day when I could enjoy my favorite vintage kid songs with my children, but now that I’m in the midst of the perfect season, I’m too busy sometimes to even pull up the playlists.

Looking at the stars. Night after night, the sun goes down and a masterpiece lights up the sky, and all I want to do is put them to bed and watch a stupid TV show.

Cuddles. I want to curl up to them as often as they want me to, and then for ten minutes more.

Flower picking.

Flower smelling.

Rainy puddles.

Forts and flashlights.

Cookie baking.

Dress-up.

Puzzles.

Swings and slides.

Jokes and riddles.

Toys.

Coloring.

Painting.

Creating.

Playing catch.

Playing chase.

Teaching.

Pretending.

Tucking them in.

I want to feast on ALL of it while my table is brimming with childhood.

And I want to read to them every day until my throat hurts.

My house…my plans…my dreams…my projects…my money-making endeavors…

Lord willing, they’ll all still be here when the “blink” is over, and I can pursue them until my face is rosy.

But for now, I have some advice to heed.

“Don’t blink or you’ll miss it”?

I refuse to blink.

~

I am so honored to be among the “freshly pressed” with this blog post! Thank you for all of the kind words, reblogs and likes. As I am “refusing to blink” and can spare no extra time with my back to these precious kids of mine, I am unable to respond to comments during this season of my life. But your words are dear to me. Thank you so much!

 

Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party, Part 3 – The Battle

Well, we’ve finally come to the end of this series featuring my 6-year old son’s “army” or “war” party, and I have to thank you all for sticking with me as I have revisited and celebrated this super-fun and special day in my family’s life…

you are literally the best. (said in my best Chris Traeger voice).

So as I told you before, I had the party part of this party down – the menu, the decorations, the vibe – they all came together quite nicely (and thankfully, with little expense). And I knew we were going to have a “war”…

in fact, if you’ll remember, that was how I sold this party to my son in the first place. And I had made  a big, big deal about it. We talked about it nearly every day.

But secretly…I was stumped.

How in the world were we going to actually have this so-called war? With a group of Preschoolers, Kindergarteners and an 8-year old, no less…

So I did what any self-respecting female would do.

I dumped this part of the party on my unsuspecting husband, nonchalantly mentioning that I needed help with this one teensy little bit of the planning.

He accepted the challenge…

but then stalled for weeks.

Secretly, he was stumped, too.

And then, in a stroke of last-minute genius, he called me up with a full list of party game ideas for me to choose from (including the paper airplane activity we also did), and the minute he mentioned the following idea, I knew he had struck gold:

Operation: Rescue Abigail

(Abigail is Gideon’s eldest cousin and beloved friend)

Two teams: bad guys and good guys.

Adults on each team to help the kids.

One prisoner in distress.

Bad guy weapons: big marshmallows dipped in all-purpose flour.

Mission: rescue Abigail (or other prisoner) from the bad guys. If you get hit with a marshmallow (which leaves a huge flour mark on your clothes), you  have to run to the field hospital and get bandaged. Then you can return to the battle.

Could we all just give a round of applause to Mr. Gore for coming up with this awesome game? We played 2 or 3 rounds of it, and it was too. much. fun. Kids this age (at least in my house) love nothing more than tying people up and saving them, playing “doctor”, pretending to be good guys defeating bad guys…my husband somehow incorporated all of Gideon’s favorite pastimes into one awesome party game that made his little 6-year old heart soar. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

For older kids, a capture-the-flag type game would have been ideal, but this game perfectly suited our younger crowd. If you are planning a “war” or “army” party of your own, and have any more questions about the details of this game, please do so in the comments section. I will make sure to get back with you as soon as I get the chance.

Now how about some pictures?…

Gid was in character long before the party began…

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Ready for battle, Katerbelle? Yes, SIR!

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Mr. Gore led the kids in a few pre-battle drills to start off, lining them up…

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and leading them in a rousing rendition of “I’m in the Lord’s Army”. This was a CHRISTIAN war party, mind you…

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Attention!

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jumping jacks…

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Let’s do this thing.

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Our pretty nurses had the hospital ready to go, eager to come to the aid of the wounded once the game commenced…

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First prisoner: Abigail. And the fact that we played several variations of this game with different prisoners was because this fun-loving girl wasn’t content to just be a prisoner. She wanted in on the battle action, too! Her Daddy – the baddest of the bad guys – led her to a tree in the nearby woods to tie her up.

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I now present to you…

Operation: Rescue Abigail, starring Mr. Gore – the goodest of the good guys – and his army of tiny soldiers!!!

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they’ve been spotted and attacked! Run to the hospital! Quick!

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our nurses sprang into action, doing their best to get the soldiers back to the front as soon as possible, giving each soldier a bandage and a candy pill…

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but, with a little teamwork and perseverance, they did it! Good prevailed, and Abigail was rescued.

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and the “good guys” felt like macho superstars.

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Next battle…

Operation: Rescue the Birthday Boy. Mr. Gore was probably very glad to add a quick-as-lighting 8-year old to his team. He rallied his troops, gave them a few tips, and the 2nd battle began…

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(sidenote: can anyone spot my Daddy in the next picture? This is why people use camouflage. It actually works!)

 

 

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and lickety-split, Gideon was saved.

Then, in the scariest and most melodramatic battle of the night (our soldiers and nurses were taking dramatic liberties with the game by this time), our two hospital nurses were taken prisoner by the scariest bad guy in the woods…

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Things got ugly for our soldiers during this battle…

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but our field nurses were so brave and helpful in the face of duty…

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reviving our soldiers on the spot so they could return to battle and save the hospital nurses!

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which they did, right as dusk set in. The hospital nurses were a bit shaken up, but a quick stay at the hospital fixed them right up…

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and I am happy to report that, by the end of all of our battles, every soldier was still accounted for, though they all looked a little more ragged than they had before…

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Our rescue operations…and thus, the biggest part of my son’s party…had been a huge success.

~

A few more notes on our war party:

1. It dawned upon me and Amy both (sometimes we share a brain!) that an activity like this doesn’t have to be saved for a birthday party. This was just a super fun night for all the kids and families involved, and it would have been even easier to throw together if we hadn’t been trying to do birthday cake and presents and spend as much time as possible with the birthday boy. You could do this with so many different themes: spy games, princes and princesses, cowboys and outlaws…the possibilities are extensive. Then, on birthday party days, you could just kick back with your family, have a cake and a few gifts and call it a night. I’ll be mulling this over…

2. I also wanted to tell you that, by the end of the battles, all the kids were congregated at the hospital, playing their little hearts out. It looked like an ant hill. Which means that I will probably be setting up the hospital sometime soon for a fun play day. I’ll share more on that in the future!

3. Thank you again for indulging me for this week-long series and for all the sweet words you’ve shared. I love your comments and encouragement so much and thank God for you, always.

And good news – I have some VERY unbirthday blog posts coming up next week – stay tuned!

~

To read about all the ideas and products that went into this party, click here.

My Night with the Emporer

I’m going through this year’s pictures and came across a funny story I forgot to tell you…

~

It was past 1:00 a.m. and I was sitting up late in bed, reading what I am sure was the latest ground-breaking historical Christian fiction book on the market, when I heard Baby Betsie crying. My gracious husband – who, unlike me, does NOT sleep like a giant, inanimate boulder from the Rocky Mountains – usually handles the middle-of-the-night stuff, and so I was happy to hop up and handle this situation for him while he slept.

I ran up the stairs and tiptoed through our large, dark nursery, and, arriving at Betsie’s crib, gave her her pacifier and was covering her back up when I heard a sound behind me.

Turning around, I couldn’t believe what I saw…

I blinked.

I squinted.

I blinked three more times.

Yes, this was really happening…

A robed figure, unaware that I was in the room, was rising from the twin bed by the window. Standing up next to his bed, he pulled his hood up over his head, and bending down, quietly retrieved his lightsaber from the floor beside him. Standing back up, lightsaber held high, he shuffled noiselessly out of the room.

And I, snapping out of my open-mouthed, fascinated gaze, took off like a flash of lightning, and, running past him, fled down the stairs and to the office to retrieve my camera. By the time I made it back to the stairs, he was sitting there near the bottom, apparently waiting for me.

“Can I take your picture?” I whispered, in the dark.

He nodded, keeping his head down.

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Then he stood up…

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and shuffled into our bed, where we all spent the rest of the night snuggled close together, him, me, his Papa, and his lightsaber.

It was the first time I’ve ever slept with Emperor Palpatine…or anyone from Star Wars, for that matter.

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It wasn’t as creepy as I thought it would be.

But one thing is sure. If it weren’t for these pictures, I would be certain this had all been a dream…

A Storybook Halloween – Part Two

…Continued from “A Storybook Halloween“…

~

So as I was saying, Granny was just sitting in bed waiting for someone to come visit her, as sick people are prone to do…

but she most certainly wasn’t expecting a wolf.

a BIG…BAD…WOLF!!!

“Oh dear me!” Granny cried.

and she sprang from her bed in terror.

For even those who are very old and very sick can become quite spry and hasty when there is a wolf at their heels.

But alas, she was no match for a fast and hungry wolf.

He caught her, and tied her up in the closet to save her for his dessert…

and Little Red Riding Hood would be his supper.

He put on a hat and shawl and crawled into bed, for he had a sneaky plan: to trick Red Riding Hood into thinking that he was her Granny, and not, in fact…

a mean. sly. horrid. cruel. dastardly WOLF.

Just as he curled up under Granny’s covers, Little Red Riding Hood arrived.

“Hello, dear Granny!” she sang with a smile…

and walking up to Granny’s bedside, she presented the basket of goodies that her Mother had sent.

But when she looked at Granny, she thought something seemed a little…strange.

“Granny…what big eyes you have today…” she said.

“Well, the better to see you with my beautiful dear!” replied Granny.

“And what big ears you have!” said Red Riding Hood.

“Oh, well, the better to hear you with, silly!” replied the wolf, growing more nervous – and hungrier – by the minute.

“And…what big teeth you have!” said Red Riding Hood, leaning in closer to figure out what in the world was wrong with her Granny.

The Wolf knew his time was up.

In his vicious wolf voice, he lunged forward and growled, “the better to EAT you with, my dear!”

I’m afraid it all would have been over for Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny if something quite extraordinary had not happened next.

A most handsome woodsman who was out hunting for his supper happened to walk by at that very moment and heard the Wolf’s growl and the little girl’s shriek.

He burst through the front door and presented something even sharper than the Wolf’s teeth…

a sturdy and trusty axe!

The Wolf tried to weasle his way out of the Woodsman’s grasp and ran as fast as his feet would fly…

but just as Granny was no match for the Wolf…

the Wolf was NO match for the handsome, manly, ruddy (and married) Woodsman.

With his own trickery, he was tied up and sat waiting for his deserved death…

while Little Red Riding Hood and the Woodsman laughed at his foiled plan.

And what happened to Little Red Riding Hood and the rest of the characters after this fateful day?

They lived happily ever after, just as they should have.

Except, of course, for the Wolf, who was made into a batch of hamburgers, providing a very fine supper for Little Red Riding Hood’s family right after this picture was taken.

The. End.

~

Costume details and outtakes coming up tomorrow!

~

This telling of Little Red Riding Hood and all photos are property of Mrs. Gore’s Diary and Benjamin Grey Photography. 

Halloween Magic

Well, its finally here…

The day of our year that most inspires our imagination.

The day where it is perfectly alright to eat candy for breakfast, lunch, supper and dessert.

The day when my kids actually look normal and have minions of other costumed children to blend in with.

Happy Halloween, everybody!!!

Thinking back over all of our past celebrations has left me a bit sentimental tonight, and I have a gut feeling that someday, I’ll painfully miss these days of playing dress-up with my kids. I have a deep affection for all holidays, but Halloween is truly special with its beautiful Fall backdrop and its cozy warmth and whimsy. And there is something so fulfilling about helping the innocent dreams of my children come true as I scour the internet and our closets to find costumes that will best help them look like their favorite characters.

This year is sure to be a special memory for all of us, and I’ll share more about that in the days and weeks to come…

But for now, I’d like to share with you the most special moment of last year’s Halloween. We had been busy, busy, busy, getting dressed in our pioneer costumes, meeting up with Jerry and Amy and the girls, taking lots of photographs, loading up into our covered wagon, trick-or-treating all over town, and I had been quite wrapped up in just keeping the festivities moving and keeping the children happy. We were at our last stop of the evening, a hustling and bustling Trunk-or-Treat at our town’s Assembly of God church, and we were stopping at each car to get candy, saying “hello!” and “how do you do?!” to townspeople we hadn’t seen in months, and the air was just positively thick with celebration and Halloweenish goodwill. That’s when I happened to look down and take notice of Miss Sunday, my fair-haired little Indian maiden.

She had reached up and taken my hand, and I noticed that her confident and bossy aura had been replaced by one that was subdued and watchful, and just for a couple breaths of a moment, I had the joy of seeing on her face one of the most beautiful facets of childhood. She was in awe. She was overwhelmed. She had slowed down in her running and gunning and had taken time to look around her and feel the wonder that a night of merriment with one’s family can bring. Halloween had captured her for a moment, and what I saw on her face and felt in her touch took me back to my own childhood, and the many similar moments I experienced growing up in our free and bountiful country. Moments so big and so over-the-top that the only thing I knew to do was sidle up close to my Mama and grab her hand, anchoring myself to what was normal and safe, even as my heart and my imagination were captured by what I saw taking place around me…

Trick-or-treating.

A hugely lit Christmas tree.

Musicians or actors on a stage.

Fireworks.

Sunday worship.

My heart would catch within me, and I would study the people and the scenery around me, trying to understand the mysteries of life and why we were doing what we were doing, sometimes unsure of how I felt about it, but mostly…happy. Especially with Mama by my side.

I can’t believe I’m the Mama now.

I can’t believe how wonderful it feels to anchor my little ones on their biggest days.

I can’t believe Halloween – and all the days in between – is even more magical now than it was then.

Life is beautiful. Enjoy celebrating it today!

And I’d love to hear from you…what are you dressing up as? What are your plans? Any special memories or funny stories to share?

A Boy Called Peter

The pants of his Peter Pan costume were hitting far above the ankle.

The shirt was getting more difficult to slip over his head.

And Gideon began to cry…

“Mom, I just really don’t want to grow up anymore.”

“What’s the matter, Gid?” I asked, concerned by this sudden outburst.

“I mean, I want to be 6 on my next birthday, but not any more grown. That’s as grown as I want to be!” he wailed.

And that’s when it hit me.

The Peter Pan costume.

“Gid…” I said, about to cry, myself. “You know we can get you a new Peter Pan costume, right?”

~

He first wore that costume almost 3 years ago…

It was Halloween 2009, and Peter Pan was an obvious choice, for the classic Disney movie had seemingly been the theme of our year – we had watched it countless times. And when we weren’t watching it, we were playing pirates or flying through the house or seeing mermaids in the lake…

{This was, by the way, fitting rather nicely into my master plan, for Peter Pan is one of those clutch-to-my-chest stories that had defined my childhood, my adolescence, my young adulthood…and I was determined to find a way to keep it around}.

Gideon’s cousin Abigail dressed the part of Wendy, her sister Anna represented Tinkerbell, and the happy trio had the best time traipsing and flitting around town with their Halloween treat bags on their arms that perfect October night. (and I’ll give you a dollar if you can guess who dressed as Cap’n Hook – more on that when October gets here!)

But just because Halloween was over the next morning did not mean that Gideon was going to put his costume up in the attic for keepsake memories, or even in the closet for other days…

He lived in it.

He ate in it.

He slept in it.

He wore it…

All. the. time.

And just like his childish hero, he had many wonderful adventures in this special costume.

One day, when he was about 4 years old, he was invited to accompany my husband and our friend, Zac, to a local sporting goods store to buy supplies for the church softball team.

When Mr. Gore came to pick him up from our house in the church van, Gideon was, not surprisingly, dressed as Peter Pan from head to toe, his little foam sword tucked snugly into his Peter Pan belt.

If you think Mr. Gore was embarrassed to be accompanied on an outing with a miniature Peter Pan, you’d be wrong, for in truth, my husband is the one who has taught me to lighten up and let our kids wear what they will (on most days). Thus, he met our son with a huge smile, and complimented him right away. Gideon…er, Peter…ran straight to his arms, excited to be included with the big boys on this fun trip to “town”.

As he turned to wave good-bye to me, that little green hat with a brown feather sticking up in the air, my heart constricted, and I took a mental snapshot of my little lost boy. “If Peter Pan had been this loved by his mother,” I thought, “he never would have stayed in Neverland all those years…”

Off they flew to the sporting goods store, and everything was reportedly ticking along quite nicely…

until Mr. Gore was checking out at the cash register, waiting for the cashier to ring up and bag the many items that needed to be purchased for the softball team.

During the long wait, Gideon had apparently wandered over to take a look at the clothing section behind him…

and the room suddenly exploded with noise.

Turning quickly around, Mr. Gore watched in amazement as clothing rack after clothing rack fell slowly over in domino fashion, one right after another, seven racks in all.

Boom!…

Boom!…

Boom, boom, boom, boom!…

BOOM!

The “dust” settled, clothes lying everywhere, and there in the clearing stood none other than our Peter Pan, his sword raised defensively in his right hand, his eyes as round as saucers.

Where was his pixie dust when he needed it?! For I am quite sure he would have flown the coop if he could have.

As Mr. Gore recounted the hilarity to me when he returned home, I gasped “How did it happen?!”

“We’re not really sure…” he admitted.

“Well what did you do? What did the cashier do?!” I asked, my hand over my mouth.

“We just stood there for a few seconds, and started laughing.” he replied.

As my husband helped the young cashier clean up the mess, he continued to apologize profusely.

“Dude…don’t worry about it man, ” the cashier assured him, “when am I ever going to get to tell a story like this again?…’everything fell over, and there in the middle of it was…Peter Pan.’

It was an epic moment in Mr. Gore’s life, in Zac’s life, in Gideon’s life, and in mine…even though I was not there to witness it firsthand.

Gideon is 5 years old now, and still occasionally squeezes into his beloved costume, a new (and permanent) Wendy-bird by his side:

He won’t stay little forever and he will certainly outgrow that costume in the months to come…

but I pray his adventures never stop.