Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sandwiched Valentines

We have several friends who find themselves part of the Sandwich Generation, caring for their growing children while also caring for aging parents. While we are fortunate enough to have healthy parents so have not yet joined this group, yesterday did find us in a different sort of sandwich - smack dab in the middle of those who are able to effectively and romantically share Valentine's Day while we plod along with life as usual.

Before I go on, let me add that I am in no way bemoaning this fact; I am instead ecstatic to be able to witness both young love and mature love, both branching out from a godly foundation. And I am more than happy to sit back and remember the good old days, while watching love blossom and mature right in front of my eyes.

The day started with a beautiful note from my parents, accompanied by this picture of the first Valentine's they ever exchanged as a dating couple, in 1964. (Andrew admitted to reading this email just after learning about Thoreau who died in 1862 so he read this and first thought, "Wow, they were alive during Thoreau's lifetime," just before realizing the error of his thought process.)

They spoke of having weathered a lot in the years together but know that their love has weathered every sunshine-y day as well as every stormy day. "We love each other more for all the events that have happened in our lives. We thank God for what we have because of our union, two great children, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and of course our 8 and almost 9 grandchildren." Sorry, Mom and Dad, I know I didn't ask your permission to share your message, but in a day when divorce is the norm, and when we continue to watch many of our own peers struggle in their marriages and relationships, we are thankful for the legacy you have set for us.

Then my day consisted of thoroughly cleaning the family room (aka. the basement) for a special dinner that was being planned by my eldest. I unscrewed most of the lightbulbs to create mood lighting (to which HopeAnne later asked, "Why do you want it dark?" I said she should ask Andrew, which she did. His reply? "Go ask your mother."), added some candles and brought in a table complete with tablecloth and fancy cloth napkins (I had to specify that they were fancy because we use cloth napkins every day but these are the hodge-podge, found at the Salvation Army variety for which I am loath to scrub out stains or iron so we use as-is). Then I got the bread dough ready for stromboli and prepared other foods for the happy couple. I will add that as soon as he arrived home from school, the originator of this plan did help out to the best of his ability. He also enlisted the help of his enthusiastic younger sisters who were dressed in their Sunday best for their role as servers in the newly-developed restaurant.

Actually, the four younger siblings had all been enlisted to help for the evening. In addition to the servers, Isaac was employed as chef,

and Shoun as waiter. Don't worry, they were all sufficiently paid for their service, each receiving his or her own favorite candy: Gum, Tic-Tacs, Skittles, and Airheads.

When the couple arrived, with girlfriend blindfolded and asking, "Are we at Cracker Barrel?" the natives were giddy with happiness to be put to work. They also enjoyed the added task of making restaurant noises with their plates and silverware, just to keep up the facade for a little longer. Once seated, the couple used their dinner bell to call the help to their table. Shoun showed up in a suit and tie and asked if he could bring them something to drink. Then two little waitresses came down and served them while Isaac played kitchen cook. Can't ask for better chaperones, I mean waitstaff, than that.

I must give my husband some credit here. We did go out to eat, sandwiched between taxiing our beloved daughter to and from a rehearsal. And after a nice, relaxing dinner together (and stop at Bruster's, of course), we came home to find the four youngest in bed but this note: Eden at 5:25 tonight screamed, copied me, annoyed me, gave me the angry eyebrows, 5:30 screamed bloody murder. See, now you know why we have to live vicariously through my parents and our children.

I believe that at this time I should also sing the praises of my second oldest who spent the day handing out rocks with notes. His orchestra teacher was one of the happy recipients and shared this photo with us.

Thank you, Jesse, Andrew and Maggie, Mom and Dad, for sharing your day with us. You reminded us of Valentine's Days in the past (when we were childless and free) and that there will come a day in the future (far in the future) when we, too, will have an empty nest.

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