We had a good, quiet weekend here. James and I are really trying to steward the weekends well, to leave wide open spaces for rest and renewal. It doesn’t always happen, of course, but on the whole, our weekends look very different than they used to. For the longest time, the weekends for us were almost crazier than the weekdays- so many errands that had to be run, games and other obligations. We would hit Sunday night pretty exhausted and barely ready to begin again on Monday. Over the course of about a year, that has shifted profoundly. Now we rarely have anything that must be done come Saturday morning- the errands have all been run, the shopping completed. Occasionally there is a house project or two- fixing a child’s bed, or, as it was this weekend, helping Lorelei make a new fleece blanket for her bed. She and Grandma and I worked on it together while Grandpa and Daddy and the younger ones ran off to the park to play. We have time for fellowship with friends, unhurried. We have time to poke about.
Our poking about this weekend brought with it a wonderful gift. Our Isaiah wants to begin cello lessons next year. Ben is also interested in beginning an instrument in earnest. I wanted to invest time over the next six to eight months in teaching them music theory- how to read music, what the scales were, etc. It is much easier to teach this with a piano or keyboard at your side, as you can quickly show in sound the abstract idea written on the paper. I’ve been looking for almost six months at keyboards and the like, very much despairing, as most all of the good, useful, quality electric keyboards were far out of our budget. I didn’t even bother to look at pianos, as they were very, very far out of our budget. I’d eye Craigslist occasionally for both, but even there, I struck out.
Come this weekend, my husband wants to poke about the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, hoping to find some lumber for a home project he is interested in. As we walk in the front door, what do I behold but a Baldwin upright Baby Grand? I walk over and finger the keys, finding it surprisingly nearly in tune, a rare, rare occasion in the land of thrift. So often when you do find pianos like this they are severely damaged and desperately out of tune- so far out of tune that it is almost useless to purchase them because the cost of repair will far exceed the actual out of pocket price. My heart leapt up, but I dared not to hope, because surely, anyone worth their salt would price such a quality label piano properly tuned and undamaged appropriately. My husband and I eyed each other expectantly, but neither of us quite wanted to flip the tag over and dispel the magic. James finally reached out and did so, only to discover that this piano had been priced for mere pennies. Needless to say, we are now proud owners of a good piano, and it will be tuned and put into service next week. Such a sweet and amazing answer to prayer, provided for us at just the right time and for a price that we could afford even in the midst of all our other medical obligations. We will all happily eat a few more meals of beans and rice than normal for the honor of this newest member of the family joining our crew.
Sometimes we go on a long wander on the weekends, as was the case this weekend. When we lived in the mountains, we would often pick a direction and see where it would take us, eating along the way and exploring. We can’t really do that anymore with the Celiacs in the mix- in that, yes, we can take picnic lunches with us, and we do, but no longer can we stop at delightful little wayside places along the way and find donut and pie shops and bakeries (which was where we used to stop on trips like these). There’s also not much wandering you can do ’round here, as you’ll land in the water just about any direction you head. So we wandered up towards Williamsburg and across to Jamestown, eventually taking the ferry over the James River and driving back through the lowlands of Surry, where so many of the empty fields were flooded from all the tremendous rain we’ve been having. The sunset was so beautiful.
Ellianna grew interested in painting for the first time this weekend, too. The materials are always available and she has often watched as the other kids have worked, but we never could get her to try herself. She was content to watch. Not so this time. She asked, out of the blue, if she could paint, and not only did she do so, we couldn’t get her to stop! Only dinner finally brought the creative frenzy to an end. She filled page after page with watercolor and absolutely had a blast. It was so much fun to watch.
It was also funny and a bit sweet to watch her approach the piano. She was a bit afraid of it when it first came home, covering her ears and definitely regarding it with some apprehension. As the weekend wore on she would edge ever closer to it, until she finally began to ‘pet’ the piano’s closed keyboard. I asked her if she would like to play and she gave me one of those mixed messages- her eyes were saying yes and she had a half smile but she shook her head no. Trusting my mama instincts, I brought the chair over and set her in the seat, and showed her that she needed to touch the keys gently. She stuck one little finger out and hit a key, bringing forth a sound, and she looked up with surprise and then began to giggle in that way that toddlers do, and then she was off. She began to touch more keys, and I walked away. Soon she came and found me and told me that she needed her piano book so that she could ‘practice’. I put the beginners book in front of her, and she would study it intently (in the way that toddlers do), touch a few keys, and then flip the page and play again. “I am playing Jingle Bells, mama!” I always seem to forget how beautiful and wonderful this stage can be, distracting as it is when the self-same toddler is struggling to express her wants and needs and being feisty and testing limits. But man this is the age when the whole world and its wonders open to them and it such a thing to behold. And how blessed am I to join in this adventure again? It will be the last time I pass this way, and so I find myself treasuring these moments in a way I didn’t before.