To give my sister a well deserved break, I took her 3 youngest kids for the weekend. The oldest girl (OG) is 12. Then is the middle girl (MG) who is 4. The youngest is a boy (YB) and he is 2 and a half. It’s been a weekend to remember and we’ve had a great time so far!
None of them have been my house to sleep over so this was an adventure to say the least. YB and MG are very dependent on OG who does a lot to take care of them. I wanted all of them to have a good time of course so what did I do? I ran them ragged! LOL!
I picked them up yesterday afternoon and after a lunch at McDonalds and a half hour playing on the outdoor playground, we jumped in the car to visit my Auntie. AB hasn’t seen the children in what seems like forever so when I knocked on her door I made sure to let her know who we all were. She was very excited to see us. AB gave us a tour of the grounds (again) and showed us how to feed the fish in the pond. We also got a tour of her church (again). MG and YB were very interested in Jesus and “His Mommy” so we made sure to pay a visit to each.
After a rough night of crying themselves to sleep because they “missed Mommy” and were basically exhausted from the busyness of the day, we all awoke to a glorious blue sky and sunshiney day. After pancakes and the requisite dousing of syrup, teeth were brushed and play clothes donned for a trip to the park. Animal Planet was hosting a free children’s event in one of the big parks in our area and I thought what a cool idea it would be to go and meet the celebrities and see animals. Was I ever wrong!! The crowd was insane, there were leashed dogs of all size, shape, and temperament everywhere, and the lines to see anything were so long it would have taken 90 minutes of waiting. Not to mention MG and YB don’t like crowds! Huh! So Aunt Philippa (that’s moi) brainstormed the idea of going to the Zoo! Yeah!
Off we went and boy am I every glad we did. Since everyone was at the Animal Planet Expo, NO ONE was at the Zoo. Woooooo-Hoooooo! We had a splendid time seeing all the different animals.
Originally uploaded by philippaalan.
We had a lovely lunch which we all ate in a matter of seconds due to ravishing hunger! We then finished seeing the animals we missed the first go ‘round. Then we went to the Nature Store where Aunt Philippa bought everyone a fabulous stuff animal. (The prices were just too good to be true.) The urchins wanted to buy their Mommy a present, so we did; a statue of wolves in the wild. (Grammie, if you’re reading this, don’t spill the beans!!)
After dinner, which the urchins inhaled, we went to Vespers. BG goes to church with Pop-Pop regularly. MG goes with them sometimes, but she is afraid of crowds and doesn’t want anyone looking at her. (Sigh…kids.) And YB has never been to church except when he was baptized as a newborn. Not knowing what to expect behavior wise, I of course, gave them quick church etiquette lessons, which consisted of: (1) no talking, whisper only, (2) you must listen to Aunt Philippa, (3) if you scream or cry we’ll be stepping outside for a little “chat.” Well, it took a bit to entice MG into the sanctuary, but she went. We sat in the last pew. They’ve never been in an Orthodox church before, so the icons grabbed their attention right away. MG kept saying things like, “Where’s Jesus’ Mommy?”, “I see Jesus!! Look!!”, “Jesus is a baby over there!” And then MG asked me, “Why is that man talking to the bush?” pointing to one of the icons painted on the wall to the left of the iconostasis. I told her the story of Moses and the burning bush. Ah yes, icons, stories in picture for those who can’t read! Windows into heaven.
And best of all, on the wall behind us was a huge mural of all the North American Saints. When MG turned around, she waved and smiled at them all and whispered, “Hello.” She didn’t buy into the idea that you could “talk” to them because they were just pictures, but hey…one step at a time, ya know?! They did well for the 40 minutes of Vespers.
Tomorrow we go to Divine Liturgy. I’ll let you know how it goes!