We’re home. Leila is taking a break from the car seat and sleeping in the pack-and-play. She was a good traveler, and that made the trip go as smoothly as traveling with a 3-1/2 month-old can go. As the parents of said child, we were grateful. Some of Leila’s new tricks include “standing,” and spinning around (on her back) while playing on her exercise gym. She is just a cute as ever, and won over many hearts in northwest Iowa and South Dakota.
A few highlights from the trip…
As I anticipated our travels, I was most nervous about when, where, and how I would feed Leila and give her some necessary wiggle time along the way. By far, our favorite stop, and most random, was “Krista’s Kitchen.” It was our first day on the road, and it was fast becoming our lunch time, and Leila’s lunch time. We searched the Garmin (still LOVE that thing!!) for food options, and we chose a cafe/diner option in Portage, Wisconsin, but as quickly as we chose that, we began to see billboards advertising Krista’s Kitchen. The signs drew us in, and while we actually did drive by the Garmin-specified diner, we kept on going until we reached the nearby Krista’s Kitchen. We were so pleased with our decision, breathing a sigh of relief practically as soon as we walked in the door.
It was a small town spot, filled with kindness and good food. We arrived just as the major lunch rush had passed, but it was still happily bustling, and the sun was pouring lavishly through the windows. Each and every person we talked to was helpful and courteous. The food was simple and delicious. JP believes that they have the best quiche (Lorraine) that he’s ever eaten, and I had the California Turkey Sandwich with 5 Seed Bread. Yum. Double yum, actually. After I finished eating, Leila was very ready to eat. I was able to sit in a discreet corner and nurse the baby while JP ate, and not only did no one seem bothered by it, but one of the servers actually gave me a thumbs up! We highly recommend this cute little place if ever you’re passing though (or live nearby).
Most of our other highlights involved renewing and enjoying relationships with churches and individuals in Iowa and South Dakota. It was busy. JP went to college out in Orange City, IA and has many connections in and throughout that area because of college and numerous churches that support us in the region as well. Leila and I got to meet whole bunches of people that only Daddy has ever known. Leila was a star wherever we went. JP is a remarkably good story teller and preacher, but people love smiley babies, and since our Leila is very generous with her smiles, JP had to get used to sharing the spotlight. Not that he really minded showing her off!!
A few years ago, I read Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris, which I really enjoyed. It was a book that helped me to discover how important “Place” is in my life. Perhaps I’ll write more about that another day. For now, I mention the book because our drive from Orange City to Platte, South Dakota brought it to mind. In particular, there is a chapter called “Sea Change” that I especially enjoyed. I’d like to share an excerpt from that chapter…
In journeying on the inland ocean of the Plains, the great void at the heart of North America, I’ve discovered that time and distance, those inconveniences that modern life with its increasingly sophisticated computer technologies seeks to erase, have a reality and a terrifying beauty all their own.
Like all who choose life in the slow lane- sailors, monks, farmers- I partake of a contemplative reality. Living close to such an expanse of land I find I have little incentive to move fast, little need of instant information. I have learned to trust the processes that take time, to value change that is not sudden or ill-considered but grows out of the ground of experience. Such change is properly defined as conversion, a word that at its root connotes, not a change of essence but of perspective, as turning round; turning back to or returning; turning one’s attention to.
Our drive was long and quiet and “Plainly” beautiful. It was good for my soul. I’m into slowness of life, and for a number of years I’ve been trying to harness slowness. I haven’t had much luck, but then I guess maybe the slow life can’t easily be harnessed by someone with one foot in the fast life. Norris goes on to say that to be a good citizen of the Plains life, one has to choose that life consciously. I would completely agree with her. I’m sure I’ll continue to yearn for life in the slow lane, and perhaps that it where it has to begin anyway, with a yearning. I’ll continue to work toward this slowness, of course. It will always be my choice. It is how I’m wired, and I’ve begun to realize that it will partly always be my responsibility to help other people in the fast arena of life to remember that there is another option. I did that at Hope College, and now I think I will do it for my husband and my kid(s) and the people in and around our life… …There’s lots more to say about all of this, but I would imagine that most of you have other things that you need to move on to 😉 so I will save the rest for another day. Just chew on that excerpt for awhile.