Me’s Nathanael, Right?

Continuing a new tradition that I began with my daughters’ birthdays last summer, today, on the birthdate of my son, I am sharing lessons I have learned from my middle child.

I’ve spent the day thinking about Nathanael as I sorted through photos and created a sketch for him. These times are precious to me, for the memories they stir and the joy that they bring. This is part of Nate’s story.

I found out I was expecting my second child while having a pre-surgery consultation. Nausea, tiredness and a lack of appetite had sent me to my doctor, who suspected gallbladder issues. Before doing x-rays, he asked if there was any possibility that I might be pregnant.

My answer was no. I was still nursing my one year daughter. I didn’t think I could get pregnant while nursing. I am grateful the doctor decided to do a pregnancy test, just to be sure. I’ll never forget the mischievous smile on his face when he brought the results of the test back into the exam room. Not only was I pregnant…I was already three months along!

What a short pregnancy it seemed to be. And this baby appeared to be in a hurry to get started on his life journey. Six months later, on an icy day much like today, Nathanael Gregory Moore was born, after a brief labor that resulted in me barely making it to the hospital, and his attending doctor not making it at all. A young intern, who had never delivered a baby before, literally caught my son as he rushed into the world.

The things this child, this boy, has taught me. He was wiry and strong as an infant. And he decided what he wanted to do and when he wanted to do it. Nate showed amazing coordination. He sat up and walked early, and climbed everything. Ever curious, ever studying people and situations from every angle, he expressed his unique perspectives about life from an early age.

My son became interested in music and art while still a toddler. A toy trumpet and a small keyboard satisfied him for a while. By age four he could pick out tunes on his keyboard, accurately reproducing songs he had just heard. We bought a full sized piano so Nathanael could begin formal music lessons at age eight. He taught me that ability is a gift, but practice and determination expands that gift into something more. For years he played the piano, performing in recitals with college students, scared sometimes to be before an audience, but always willing to give his best efforts.

Through his sketches and artwork he taught me about fresh perspectives. Nate often drew pictures from unusual angles, or created clever drawings of people in costumes. His sketching ability increased until he could draw anything he saw. He’s a gifted artist today.

Nathanael learned best by doing. When I decided to homeschool my children, my son taught me valuable lessons about how children learn differently, and that it was more important that the curriculum fit the child rather than making the child fit the curriculum. Because of my son, I tossed all our textbooks, six weeks into our first school year, and started over. I realized my first grade son didn’t learn in the same way as his visual learner older sister or his younger sister who was more auditory. He needed a hands on approach.

I switched to a way of teaching known as unit studies and Nate and his sisters flourished. He used his musical and artistic abilities as part of his learning style. When he studied Beethoven, he dressed up as the composer and learned to play his music. He stood beside his desk to read, or circled the room, instead of sitting for hours. And when he heard the wail of a siren, he would run outside to watch the police car rush by. For by age eight, this child of mine already knew what his career path was.

Nathanael wanted to be a police officer. And in making this choice, he has taught me some of my greatest life lessons. Many children want to be police officers or fire fighters. They outgrow those early desires and move on to other careers. Not my son. His early tendency to know what he wanted and go after it played out in full force here. He never wavered from that desire. He moved from playing cops, and building the front half of a police car in his room, to becoming a Police Explorer at age 14, to graduating from the university and the police academy with degrees in criminal justice and law enforcement. He has been serving his community for years now, first as a patrolman, then as a trainer, and now as a sergeant. By his example, Nate has taught me about determination, about following your path and your heart, and about perseverance.

As I’ve thought about my son today, and the extraordinary man he has become, I considered what symbol would represent his life. He is a police officer, as he intended to be. He is also a musician, an artist, a wonderful husband and a fun and attentive dad. He loves his family, his career and his community.

If I got a tattoo that represented my son and his life, what would I choose? The symbol that immediately came to mind was the super hero’s cape. Nate’s daughter used to introduce herself to people, when she was three years old, in this way: “I’m Aubrey. I’m a princess. That’s my dad. He’s a hero.” Wise words from a toddler.

I looked up the symbolism for the cape. It represents a noble heart, helping others, rescuing others, and having gifts and abilities on display. The cape signifies virtue, being set apart, mysteriousness and yes, heroism. A blue cape in particular symbolizes empowered protection.

Those words ring true for my son. He doesn’t wear a cape, but he embodies those characteristics. And he does have super powers. He can’t laser through solid doors with his eyes. But he has a laser sharp focus that sees far ahead and guides his determined steps. He knows what he wants…and he goes the distance to reach his goals.

I sketched out a cape, and colored it in with my pencils…blue of course, police officer blue. As I considered which quote to use with my drawing, two came to mind. One was from Christopher Reeve, the actor who played Superman, which seemed appropriate. The other one that snagged my heart was from the animated film, Hercules. Both characters wore a cape. Which quote to use? These choices are important to me. I asked the Divine. Listen to I Can Go the Distance, the Divine whispered back.

This song is from the Hercules movie. I listened. I knew which quote to use. Part of the lyrics say, “This is where I am meant to be. I will find my way, I can go the distance. I’ll be there someday, if I can be strong. I know every mile will be worth my while. When I go the distance I’ll be right where I belong.”

That’s Nate. He’s been on this journey since the day he was born. When he was a toddler, sitting in his highchair one morning, he listened intently as I explained to Elissa how our family members were all connected. After I finished detailing how everyone was related…grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and siblings…he piped up, “And me’s Nathanael, right?” He was figuring out who he was and where he belonged. He has gone the distance. He is right where he belongs, which is exactly where he wants to be.

Nathanael, my middle child, my son, the one who set his course and followed it, the hero who serves and protects, happy birthday. I love you!

Journey 16: Family Friday

family dinner quote

If I described today’s journey in one word, it would be FAMILY. A week ago today, I had a birthday. I got to see a few family members throughout that day and Greg and I enjoyed Keltic Knot at the Woodshed in Carthage, a real treat for me. With the varied schedules among my adult children and their kids, it was a whole week before we could gather for a meal. Today was a Family Friday.

I spent a portion of the day with two family members who are very dear to me. Harry and I accomplished so much today and enjoyed chatting in between our many errands. Those interesting talks in the car as we drove to various appointments were priceless. Such an amazing young man. I got to love on Jeff too, giving him a hug and sharing lunch together. Jeff is a sweetheart. A grown man with a boy’s heart and enthusiasm, his way of looking at life and enjoying the moment teaches me to do the same. When Harry and I returned late this afternoon from our last appointment, Jeff greeted us and wanted to know where we had been. I loved how he studied us, determining whether we had been off having fun without him, even after Harry assured him we had NOT been having fun. Harry is so compassionate and so very good with his uncle. Watching them together warms my heart.

family dinner Jeff, Mindy and Harry

Because I failed to snap a pic this afternoon, “borrowing” one of Mindy’s fb pics.           
Harry, Jeff, Mindy

This evening I joined all of my children and all of my grandchildren for dinner at El Vaquero on Main Street in Joplin. This is a rare enough occurrence, having everyone present, that it qualifies as a high celebration! Greg, my mom and stepdad, and my sister Linda made us a lively party of 16. That created a bit of a dilemma for the staff at my favorite Mexican food restaurant as they sought to seat us. They found two oversized booths close together and we divided up. Greg joined the adult children and their spouses and significant other, and I gathered the grandchildren to me, along with Linda, Mom and Walter. We declared our table the fun table, and indeed, it was! (Although hearing laughter ringing out from table 2, I did peek over and they appeared to be having a grand time as well!)

family dinner side one

family dinner side two

Table One: Jonathan, Joey, Cindy, Aubrey, Linda

Walter, Mom, Dayan, Oliver

I have five grandchildren, ages 15, 9, 8, 7, and 6. Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, who is the youngest, and the only girl. They are each unique and gifted and precious in their own ways and I enjoyed talking to all of them and listening to their stories. Dayan could easily have joined the adult table, but I’m so glad he sat with us. The conversation was animated, and not just because of the kids. Linda and Mom joined right in. Poor Walter rarely got a word in, but he smiled and he won the cool hat award.  And I learned a new tech tip. Dayan taught me how to use the pano button in my iPhone for taking wide angle pictures.

I am so grateful for my family. Grateful for Harry and Jeff. Grateful for Elissa, Josh, Dayan and Jonathan….Nathanael, Megan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey…Adriel and Nate. Grateful for Greg, Mom, Walter and Linda. Each juggled their schedule around or made some effort to be present with me today and this evening. I couldn’t ask for a better family. I couldn’t feel more loved!

family dinner table two side one e

family dinner table two side two

Table Two: Greg, Elissa, Adriel, Nate

Josh, Megan, Nathanael

Day 359: Christmas 2014

christmas 2014 logo

I love Christmas time….the magic of the season, the deeply spiritual meanings, the time spent with family…all bring joy and peace to my heart. This year, in keeping with the theme of new experiences, we had a different type of Christmas.

Oh, we gathered together as a family, and as always, we had a wonderful, cheerful time. For the first time ever, one of my children was not present. She had the opportunity to spend Christmas in Georgia, with her dear friend Nate and his family. And I’m so glad Adriel, who loves tradition, stepped out of her comfort zone, and accepted their invitation. We gathered at her house anyway, Nathanael and Megan, Elissa and Josh with sons Dayan and Jonathan, and my sister Linda. I’m pet sitting for my daughter while she is away and she gave us permission to celebrate in her home, as we have the last couple of years. We had a non-traditional Christmas dinner. Greg picked up a variety of smoked meats from Rib Crib and we had appropriate sides such as baked beans, mustard potato salad, rolls, a veggie tray with ranch dressing, deviled eggs (thanks Megan!) and a relish tray. The meal was finished off with Dutch Apple pie and pecan pie.

christmas 2014 adriel and nate

Nate and Adriel in Georgia

Just as I was missing Adriel, Elissa had the brilliant idea to Facetime her and Nate. We spent a hilarious 10 minutes talking to Adriel and Nate as they peered into the phone. We all waved and chattered and the phone got passed around so we could wish our absent family members a Merry Christmas! I love that technology can keep us closer and I’m so grateful for the ability to see people as we talk, who are miles and miles away. We missed Aubrey, Joey and Oliver, who were spending the evening with their other parents. I’m so glad I got to see them last night and spend a few minutes with them.

christmas 2014 elissa talking to adriel

Elissa on Facetime call with Adriel

After opening presents, which I won’t speak of, since Adriel and Nate have not received theirs yet, we chatted for a while, laughing over stories. Dayan’s recent hilarity at his high school musical is probably the family’s top funny story for the year. Nate shared a recent tale about Aubrey, complete with a picture to illustrate it. I love that our family laughs so much together. I love that we can be so easy and relaxed with each other. Love flows as richly as conversation and storytelling and laughter. I am deeply blessed.

christmas 2014 megan and linda christmas 2014 the guys

Megan and Linda                              Josh, Nathanael, and Dayan

Greg surprised me with special gifts that relate to my word for next year. He gave me a box of chocolate covered cherries, which I have always loved, and have nothing to do with next year. And he gave me a hand lettered sign with the word “journee” on it. He was concerned that I would think he didn’t know how to spell “journey”. I knew immediately the significance of the word. Journee is the Old French word from which we derive our word journey. It literally means “a day’s travel”. This word is from the Latin diumum meaning “daily portion”. I love that. More about my word, theme and symbol for next year on January 1, however, I am thrilled with the sign. He also gave me a gift card to Books A Million with the Dr. Seuss quote, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”  Again, an acknowledgement of my path for next year. I am grateful!

christmas 2014 jonathan e


(forgive the poor quality of my iPhone pic!)

When I was a child, the day after Christmas was the saddest day of the year for me. A whole year to wait until Christmas rolled around again. I no longer feel sad after the holidays. I keep the spirit of Christmas alive in my heart all year. Each day brings its own gifts and blessings, mine to receive. I am content with the journey, and Christmas will arrive again, at the perfect time.

christmas 2014 gifts

Oh, the places I will go, indeed!

Day 41: Nate’s Birthday Celebration at Longhorn Steakhouse


Today’s first was all about celebrating! My son, Nathanael, turned 33 today. My family is all about honoring the one who is having a birthday, so 13 of us gathered to eat a leisurely dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse. This was another first for me. Longhorn Steakhouse has been in Joplin more than a year and I’ve been overdue for a visit. What a happy reason for combining two firsts.

People say that kids grow up so fast. It is true. How can it be that this handsome young man, who is a parent now himself, is the little boy who used to climb everything, preferred to hop and run rather than walk, and once headed outside wearing only a loin cloth he had made himself? Imaginative and creative, this boy could make anything out of cardboard, hot glue and paint, sketch a picture of anything he saw, and play the piano and guitar. I turned around a couple of times, it seems, and the boy had become the man.

Nate’s desire, from the age of eight, was to be a police officer. That can put fear in a mother’s heart. And yet his father and I encouraged him to pursue his dream, and he did. He has been a police officer for 9 years, and a fine, outstanding officer he is. I’m proud of his accomplishments and at peace with his chosen profession. I look forward to joining him on patrol soon, and sharing about that in a future blog post.

We had a wonderful dinner this evening at Longhorn Steakhouse. The food was great, the conversations flowed easily around the long table, and laughter rang out often. Celebration is one of the highest forms of gratitude. We had much to be grateful for tonight. Happy birthday, Son! Long life, joy and happiness be yours.