God is hammering home the "little things" lesson. Friday morning was not a good morning with the kids. I was fighting valiantly for my attitude and some semblance of order in my home and was still contemplating putting the kids up for adoption before lunch time. But in God's perfect timing, I only had to maintain my sanity until 3 p.m. because that was the magical hour when I dropped all four kids and our dog off at our friend's house to have 24 blissful hours with just my husband. (HUGE shout-out to Bucky and Britta for taking our crew). I was so discombobulated from the crazy morning that I forgot to bring several key items on my list of things to pack, primarily the reward certificate (thanks Dad and Marcy!) that we needed to check into our hotel. OOPS. Thankfully Curt was able to retrieve the certificate from his email and print it at the hotel. Little things.
We dined at a lovely little restaurant called Park Kitchen. Located on Park Avenue in the Pearl District of Portland, it is cozy, narrow and intimate with maybe seven tables and an open kitchen so the clients can watch the chefs work. The menu is also small with only four seasonal entree' choices. We felt the stress melt away as we munched chickpea fries with squash ketchup and savored our fall-themed, piping hot meals. I forgot how romantic it is to hold hands across a candle-lit table and pour out your soul to the person you love. Little things.
We pried ourselves away from our table and headed out for a walk in the Pearl District. It's been rainy, gray and cold all week, but God chose to give us the most beautiful fall night on record for our date. We walked and talked. Laughed and held hands. Little things.
We stumbled upon a fun consignment store, browsing the racks and shoppers for the biggest show of eccentricity. We walked through Anthropologie, my new favorite store even though I can't afford one thing in it. I loved that Curt didn't roll his eyes or drag his feet over window shopping, something we never do with the kids. Little things.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites on the corner of 4th and Park which is not the epicenter of everything hip and chic in Portland. But we loved the building, originally constructed in 1912 as the Multnomah Hotel, and the location. One block from Burnside, Voodoo Doughnuts, and a couple homeless shelters, it was also surrounded by ethnic restaurants, old stores and crazy beautiful buildings. We took the long way walking back to our hotel and soaked in the culture and diversity surroundings us in both the buildings and the people we passed on the street. Little things.
We slept in and rolled out of bed to go for a leisurely run on the riverfront "esplanade" (a fancy way of saying sidewalk). I can count on one hand the number of times Curt and I have been able to run together. Little things.
Our hotel hosted a complimentary happy hour and breakfast buffet. We expected cereal and some stale muffins for breakfast and were blown away with the delicious food that awaited. Made-to-order omelets with fresh ingredients, pancakes, bacon, sausage, juice, coffee, fruit, cereal, pastries, oatmeal.... I think we tried one of everything and it was all delicious. Little things.
We read our Bibles in blissful silence in our posh hotel suite. I'm not sure why I was surprised when my devotional reading for the day was about little things. I'm not kidding. The author talked about how raising kids who love Jesus and impact God's kingdom positively requires a bazillion little decisions every day to plant seeds of Godliness in their lives. The little things we do often don't have immediate results, but eventually those little seeds produce growth. I was so blessed by God's affirmation to me to keep pressing on in mothering, especially in the little things.
After we checked out of our hotel, we hit the Saturday Market. Row after row after row of vendors hawking hats, mittens, shawls, clothes, jewelry, pottery, incense, hand-carved bowls, bags and myriads of other items. We walked up and down the rows and glanced through every booth, because we could. One vendor we found made rings out of vintage buttons that were beautiful and unique. Another vendor made rings from discarded silverware and from keys of vintage typewriters. We couldn't resist and bought a J ring to remember our weekend. Little things.
The weather was gray and drizzly, but it seemed fitting for the Portland Saturday Market in late October. We bought lunch from two separate food carts and ate outside serenaded by a Mexican street band. We watched people dance in the street and enjoyed the sharp contrast between the cold drizzle and the piping hot food we were enjoying. Our last stop was at Pure Cafe' for "organic coffee." For the record, it didn't taste any different to me, but the cafe' was in a really cool old building and the ambiance added to the experience.
We were much more relaxed and laid back when we pulled into the Buchstaber's driveway to gather our brood. 24 hours of alone time left us both satisfied and deeply fulfilled. A crazy scent of incense and ethnic foods lingers on my sweatshirt, a fun reminder of an amazing day. I love my husband for a million little reasons and I thank God for a chance to spend the last 24 hours reflecting on a whole bunch of them.