I just checked in on the girls as I put Jon-boy down, his body already limp in sleep. The girls are out cold, Clare hidden in a huddle under blankets up on her bunk--you wouldn't know she was there if it weren't her norm, and Ev flat on her back with one hand cupped protectively around her favorite baby-doll who's lying on her chest. It's Clare's turn to pick the music tonight, and of course it's her "favorite," so I walked in on Michael Card singing, "Let the children come, don't dare drive them away. Let the children come. Hear the holy, foolish things they say...." Beautiful, true words that echo Jesus' love for us and for little children.
It's been a marvelous day! We've been looking forward to it for a long time: A Day Out With Thomas is at Greenfield Village, and we had tickets! My friend LH, the one who got me roller skating again, has a pass to Greenfield Village that allowed us to get in with her and her kids. We only needed to buy one day pass as a result (and of course, we splurged and bought tickets for the Thomas train ride--three only, though--we only splurge so far!). Ev's third birthday is coming up, so it was a great way to have a special celebration.
I've loved Greenfield Village ever since we moved here when I was in fourth grade. My family had a membership for a few years when we were growing up, so I have many memories of checking out the Wright Brothers' store, Thomas Edison's lab, the Salt Box House, Noah Webster's house, etc. Over the past couple years we've had a few chances to go with our family, and though the kids have been a little young to thoroughly enjoy all the history, they get their kick out of riding on horse-drawn omnibuses, watering gardens, and most of all, riding the carousel.... The fact that Thomas the Train was there today was simply icing on the cake.
It's amazing to see how much they're growing up, too, because today for the first time, the girls (Clare particularly) really wanted learn about things. We thought we'd be heading out the gate as soon as we got to nap time, but the time came and went, and all three kids were still happy and raring to go, and wanting to look at everything. We visited the roundhouse and discussed railways and steam engines;
we traipsed through an old cider mill and Henry Ford's soybean lab (Clare wanted Kraig to read all the signs to her); we went to the working farm and listened to the mother sheep bleating (LOUDLY!) as their new lambs went in for a drink, and checked out the farmhouse kitchen where the ladies were making a hard money cake.
Despite the highlight of Thomas, and the fact that when we got home this evening the girls wanted to watch our two Thomas videos (because they hadn't had enough), I do think their favorite part of Greenfield Village is the carousel. And really, who can resist the excitement of choosing a brightly colored horse (or frog, pig, cat, or rooster...) and whirling around in circles, rising up and down to the music? They went on it three times today (and that's not their record!). Every time we've been there as a family we've gone to the carousel, and as a result I have special memories of taking Keren on it two summers ago. She, too, loved it--grinning like mad as we spun around. I wonder what she thought of the combo of music, color and wind?
I have pictures of Kraig standing between Keren and Clare, hand out to keep Keren secure on her mount. Today, I watched from the sidelines and saw Kraig standing solid and straight between two charges, balanced securely like an old sea hand on a ship in high seas. It was still a beautiful picture, even though now it's Clare and Ev and he doesn't have to reach out a hand to hold them.
On our first ride this morning, there was a mother with her son who had special needs. I recognized them as ones Kraig had pointed out to me after the train ride. They had been on the same ride as him and the girls, and when they were getting off he was able to help her with maneuvering, as they weren't in the section with the wheelchair lift. "There are a lot of special needs kids here," he said. "It's so cool that there are places like this where they can come." Anyway, I spotted the mom with her son--she stood beside him, holding him securely on his horse. He leaned forward, arms looped loosely around the pole, his mouth slightly gaped. But as the music played, and the carousel whirled, I saw him grin. And I saw his mom grin--and her eyes never left his face as she drank in his joy. And his joy gave her joy...and it gave me joy to see it, even though the tears that poured down my face, because I understood her so completely, and I wished I could be there once more, even for a moment....
I was thinking about that again this evening when the girls were down and I was nursing Jon-boy in the quiet of the living room. Suddenly I heard a chiming sound and I looked out the window to see that the wind had caught hold of the cardinal wind-chime we picked up for our garden. Keren's teachers at Old Village were the ones who put me onto it last month; they'd gotten one for the kids in the classroom, and it's a cardinal because of Keren. It's become a standing symbol for her teachers and me that a cardinal is a reminder of Keren, and that God is watching out for us, too. Long story, and it would be a tangent to tell now, so I'll leave it at that for now. But yeah, the cardinal wind-chime, all flamboyant red and joyful in sound played its music just then. Another little reminder that God had made this whole day exceedingly special, bringing together memories of the past and new-formed ones, carrying us one step further toward the future.