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(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

This month has gone by in a blur! Buying another car, Sherman’s dad falling and needing surgery again, our daughter applying (and getting accepted) to the drawing program at college, traveling by car to Oklahoma to help with a wedding, attending that wedding, our son rehearsing for a play next week, both kids on break from college this week, and the Thanksgiving celebration with family. Here we are already on the last day of November, facing the arrival of both December and the Advent season tomorrow. Yikes.

Boy, am I glad that in our home we get to celebrate the quiet Advent season before it’s really Christmas. No Black Friday (Black Thanksgiving??!!) shopping for us, unless we must count that trip to the art store to find supplies for our daughter’s future projects.

The mild weather here has helped me stay in an autumnal mood. Didn’t want to go back inside after my run on Tuesday so instead I continued to “earn” my sunshine by performing (really) late season weeding. Thanksgiving Day we made sure to get out on the path with our dogs before we needed to prepare dinner items—and we weren’t the only ones since the paths were filled with families and their pups. Today we tried out another new path close to the rehab center where we visit Sherman’s father.

Nope, I’m not going to buy into the Christmas rush yet. After our crazy-busy November, I’m especially glad for the rest I can find in being an Advent person who believes that good is worth the wait.

Oh yes, I need a little Advent to remember just exactly Who it is for Whom I wait.


(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

My husband and I don’t often do trendy. And if we do do trendy, it’s certainly not to impress folks but because the trendy item/experience calls to us personally.

In fact, the last time we were riding the wave of trendy came in 1998 when we bought our Honda CR-V just in its second year of production. We weren’t big SUV people but active people who liked to hike, ski, and bike with kids and dog in tow. That smaller SUV was designed for people like us with its easy driving and parking as well as its mess-friendly (that means it takes a lot to change the looks!) upholstery. Our goal was to invest in a car we could drive for at least ten years. Five years beyond that goal, with our daughter driving it in college, we’re still trendy because the older CR-Vs are common among the younger set—they’re a reliable car a parent can trust yet not so much to make them seem uncool.

The CR-V is our favorite car among all our aging cars. Yes, you know we are not trendy when you find out we also drive a 1994 Toyota 4Runner and a 2000 Mercury Sable. (And that doesn’t even include the 1976 Mobile Traveler RV that is so old that they don’t make the right size tires for it anymore.) Many people’s bicycles are worth as much or much more than any of our vehicles. We got the 4Runner because we needed a vehicle we can use to plow a parking lot and we inherited the Sable—aka the Grandma-mobile—when my mom stopped driving at the end of 2007.

Given that the Mobile Traveler is really not a good choice for running errands and commuting—especially since we spent almost two years trying to figure out how to replace two flat tires—we were having more and more transportation challenges within our household. Though definitely more economical to continue as we had, it had become stressful enough that getting another car made sense, especially if I were to jump into the commuting scene.

Sherman has harbored a wish for years to get a Mini Cooper—me, I’ve harbored a wish not to drive the Grandma-mobile and to have a car that was easy to park. (Hey, I was setting my sights low.) Last month he renewed his Internet hunting obsession for Minis. Finally I told him he better go test drive one—what if he finally found the Mini of his dreams then found out he hated driving Minis?

It was a dark and stormy night when he first drove the car—and, yet, he liked it. So much so that he wanted to know if I wanted to return with him. A few days later the salesperson called him to see what he thought—it was approaching month end, a time when dealerships seem keener to book deals. Month end came and went because we wanted to drive the car in the daylight together. Plus, the dealership has a one-price/no haggle policy—which might explain why the price had dropped in the new month.

On a bright and sunny November day, my husband, son, and I took turns at the controls while we squeezed into a much smaller car than we have ever owned with a very nervous finance guy who was filling in for the salesperson. My male counterparts took turns peeling back our ears on the hilly roads and highways—I just wanted to figure out how to operate the turn signal. (Our daughter missed the driving fun, but arrived home in time for the mind-numbing experience of completing the paperwork. At least we were still in the system because of our CR-V purchase.)

There was really nothing wrong with the vehicle—heck, even pre-owned and with just under 30,000 miles on the odometer, it was a whole decade newer than our newest used vehicle. I’m still not convinced I am up to the added financial commitment of maintaining another vehicle, but it certainly is nice not to have to strategize about who has what car when—plus, the car is so dang cute!

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Though it seems that most males disdain driving “cute” cars, all the guys we met at the dealership and as well as those in my family (as well as my daughter, of course) get kind of excited about how it drives. Maybe even I like being able to pop up a hill or jump into traffic—finally—after a couple decades’ absence from driving a “zippy” car.
(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Of course, who buys a two-door car (our guys have nicknamed “Clown Car” for just how it appears when the four of us climb out of it) right before a long road trip when we need to pack for a 10-day stay and have promised to bring 40 tablecloths and two boxes of Mason jars? Good thing the kids flew in for the wedding or they’d have experienced western Kansas while clinging to that low-slung roof!

We’re happy to report our little car drove really well and achieved commendable gas mileage through a whole lot of wind. We managed to take out our mini-van driving relatives (so much for their mid-life crises—four grandkids in car seats has pushed their small car dreams back a few years) for spins and were very willing to volunteer to drive out to run errands. Plus, we got a whole lot of entertainment out of doing so, even on those occasions when we crammed all four of our family members in it.

This is the start of a whole new trend for us, anyway. And, somehow we just can’t stop smiling—no matter which one of us is at the controls—when we drive that car—well, as long as no one minds that everyone else is popping his/her space cushion. What’s not to love about a car that lets you touch each rider on the shoulder—without leaning at all? Oh yeah, though we’re driving in style, the car I call “Coco” is always going to be a clown car when all of us are cruising in it.

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

We are back from our working vacation—working because there’s always plenty to do when you are around four boys ages six and under—and trying to get ready for a wedding. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun because we did and not just at our nephew’s wedding. Still, this week following we’ve been exceptionally sleepy as we return to our own space and our much quieter lives. That’s OK, though, because some activities are so full of joy and hope that they’re well worth all the work.

Life itself is work, but that work is so much more enjoyable in relationship with others. And in a life well-lived, marriage and family are not just work but play, too.

Those marriage and family relations are the reasons why Sherman and I packed our new car to the brim, spending ten days away and traveling half a day across the Great Plains each way. Though our kids had college and work obligations, we made sure they had plane tickets to bring them to and from the festivities for the weekend. Family matters—and we wouldn’t want to miss celebrating the ceremony that added one more member into our ever-expanding circle.

My brother Scott and I grew up together in Nebraska with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Family to us meant moving between the relative quiet of spending time with our only child father’s parents to the crazy hubbub of our mother’s family filled with all ages of relatives, but either way, it always meant devoting time to family.

Around 29 years ago I struck out for Colorado and a couple years later Scott left for Oklahoma, with our parents following to a different location in Colorado 18 years ago. Though Scott and I formed new family connections in our adopted hometowns, we have always remained connected to one another and to the rest of our extended families.

The time our own little family spent in Oklahoma was just one long demonstration of how people care for one another within their circles. Scott and his wife Lori have full-time care for her son’s four boys. This is just one, but very major way, Scott fulfills his wedding vows to his wife of 26 years. Her people are now his people. Lori’s extended family members, especially her mother, help them care for the boys, as Lori and Scott have helped with their niece and nephews. And by virtue of my relationship to Scott, her people are my people, too, just as they are my husband’s people. Sometimes we make our families and sometimes they choose us through others already in our original families.

When we weren’t chasing four boys—or being chased by them—we, as in the extended family we, were preparing for the joyous night when our nephew Chris would publicly declare his commitment to his future wife Mona and when we would formally welcome her into the family to which she has already shown so much dedication.

Whether it was putting together centerpieces with Laura, mother of the bride, “rubbing” the ribs with the groom’s uncle, shopping at Sam’s Club, guiding the three-year-old and almost two-year-old into carrying water bottles, setting up and setting out direction signs, placing tablecloths, ordering potato salad, taking a kid out of the ceremony when disruptive, silk-screening designs, settling a child who needed to sleep, taking kids overnight, or cleaning up—just a few activities from a much longer list—family came together to labor in love.

So it came to pass that on a windy November night with an almost-full moon rising, we met with more family and friends in a grove of pines illuminated by twinkling lights to watch the magic of a man and a woman declaring—in front of God, family, and friends—to share one another’s love, along with all the joy, burdens, and work that will follow.

True love is a verb and I am so honored to be one of the many who labored to ensure that the new Mr. and Mrs. Lange felt surrounded by such a large circle of people who love them as they began their own family circle within the fuller circles of extended family.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Over the moon: modifier Very happy; delighted (1936+)

Kipfer, Barbara Ann., and Robert L. Chapman. Dictionary of American Slang. 4th ed. New York: Collins, 2007

Just over twenty-five years ago we celebrated our wedding day, but my brother Scott attended alone and was a nervous wreck because his wife Lori was at home waiting to give birth to their child. Well, my brother made it home and we made it back from our honeymoon trip before Christover Scott Lange came into the world ten days later. My parents were—as my mom would have said—over the moon about the blessings of that month. Family was everything to them.

This month that not-so-little boy gets married—and boy would my parents really be over the moon about his bride. If heavenly help has anything to do with meeting The One, then I think they must be behind this match. Dad was a dedicated pharmacist but his passion in life was drama. In fact, he started dating my mother after she did his make-up for a performance. And Mom was a musician through and through, teaching, directing, and accompanying other musicians throughout her life.

Although Scott and I were raised doing something of everything—music and athletics—Chris focused on sports. Now, my mom had been an athlete and my father was a rabid fan of watching athletics, but they seemed a little wistful that Chris didn’t really share their artistic sides, too.

Chris went on to play football in college where he studied science. This particular college had a January inter-term class that culminated with a trip to England and Scotland. As a senior, Chris set off to learn something about Scotland, a country that had long fascinated him, and ended up meeting the woman of his dreams—a college classmate who likely would have been just the woman his grandparents would have wished for him. She is an intelligent, beautiful, kind-hearted, hard-working, and feisty Christian woman who is not only an actor, but also a talented singer.

The day Chris and Mona began dating each other was the day my brother and I were sitting by our mother’s side as she worked to transition to Heaven and back to our father’s side. Coincidence? I think not.

Weddings and births bring others into our families, ensuring that a particular family, such as ours, will continue to go forward long beyond the time when we who live today are gone from this side of Life.

We are over the moon that Chris is bringing Mona into our family. And, somewhere in Heaven I imagine my parents are still over the moon that this particular event came to be as it did with this particular person.

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