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Get Ready!

Yesterday was a lovely Easter. Up early as usual and put together some little plastic easter eggs with jelly beans and hid them around the living room. After breakfast the kids got to run around and find them and eat a bunch of candy and the ears off of their chocolate bunnies.  Then we went outside and put up the swingset. It looked gorgeous outside, with a clear blue sky and the snow finally off the ground. Problem was it was about 42 degrees. So we had hats and mittens and coats on while putting it up, but the kids hardly seemed to notice. After a couple of hours of raking I finally worked up enough of a sweat to take my hat off.

To top off the day I bought tickets online to fly out to WA next week! Can’t beat the prices right now, that’s for sure! I don’t know if anything will pan out with the job out there, but it made sense to not wait another four months to figure it out when we’ve been planning this trip for so long. And besides that, unless I travel out there and back before EM’s 2nd birthday, I’d have to buy another ticket for her. This way she gets to sit on my lap for 8 hours and I don’t have to pay another $240.

So on to the adventure! First thing to do: go buy a portable DVD player and some new kid movies!

Looks like I will be putting all 3 kids together on the hide-a-bed and I’ll get the den all to myself. Which means I’ll get the computer all to myself! he he he! If this trip is anything like past trips I’ll be on wordpress at all hours of the night blogging about my crazy family and the things I’ve learned.  Honestly, though, I think I scare them as much as they scare me.

I need to get my butt to the gym and hit the tanning bed a few times, but I also want to spend as much time as possible with DH before I leave. There has been so much going on and his trip to WA and then he was sick for so long, and even now spends every chance he can catching up on his sleep. We need a night out. Or a night in, with kids who go to bed on time and actually sleep.  Saturday morning DH and I were up before 4 and after having our coffee we actually went and curled up on the couch together and fell back to sleep for 2 hours.  It was sweet. And so rare.

So about Easter: why is it that we celebrate Christmas but not Easter? Isn’t that kind of hypocritical? It’s one of those things that is frowned upon by the church and most conservative Adventists do not celebrate Easter. Is it because of the Ham? ha ha. Or just because it’s always on a Sunday and we don’t want to look like we’re keeping Sunday as a Holy Day – ever! I know that Easter is a pagan holiday that was relabeled and part of the concession of the church back in the days of early Christianity, but that is the same story to be told of Christmas. Yet Christmas is acceptable and Easter is not.  Sure, it has some questionable icons attached to it – like bunnies and eggs, obvious relics of the original pagan roots in the celebration of the goddess of fertility.  Christmas has Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and the giving of gifts to one another to overshadow it’s real meaning.

When I was growing up I only asked about this once or twice. In general, I think what you don’t grow up with you don’t miss. I never felt I was missing out on anything when it came to Easter or Halloween. I think when I was younger I once made the comparison of Easter to Christmas and I think the basic reasoning for not moving into the celebration of Easter at that point was something like, “Why start now when we know it is rooted in a pagan holy day?”. That was around the time that the conservative movement in our church began to push for the removal of the Christmas tree in our church and many families decided to no longer participate in Christmas based on its origins. We were one of those families.  That was a miserable year. Especially for my mom. In a typical year, she begins playing Christmas music in, oh, September or so. Whenever the first snow on the mountains is seen. That year there was no Christmas music, no Christmas cookies, and no Christmas tree.  There was no spark in my mother’s eyes, no laughter on Christmas eve.

About 9 o’clock that night it finally dawned on me that there really was going to be no Christmas that year. I wondered if this was how it was going to be from here on out. And then, on a spur of the moment decision, since my dad already had the week off, he decided to take us all to Arizona to visit my grandparents. Hallelujah! Laughter rang out, tears flowed, and the car was packed in an hour. My mother was a woman on a mission, and we left before midnight.

We managed to sneak in a trip to Disneyland that week, too, and that was a lot of fun! It was the only Christmas present we got! That was back in the day before car seat laws were so strict. Good thing, too. According to today’s laws, I would have been in a booster seat until sometime toward the end of 6th grade, when I finally hit 60 lbs. On the ride to California, I spent a good deal of time riding in a bed on top of the suitcases in the back window of the minivan. Ah, the good old days!

So, where was I? I do have a habit of being sidetracked, don’t I?

Oh yeah, I was going to express my intense gratitude that I will NOT have to spend my 30th b-day with my mom. I’m sure the cookout with the entire extended family and the fruit punch and weird tasting birthday cake and the slide show of the “highlights” of my last 30 years would be fun and all. Or maybe just incredibly depressing. Not sure the alternative is really that much better. I can’t remember the last time I got a birthday present from DH. Or Mother’s Day gift, or Anniversary gift, for that matter. Gift giving is SO not his love language, bless his heart *said through clenched teeth, of course*.  Most likely I will spend it like every other birthday, baking myself a cheesecake and cooking my own dinner, trying to convince the kids that it really would be okay to treat Momma special for one day out of the year and waiting for Dh to come home from work.

I’m hoping that just for ONE day when I’m out west that I can leave the kids and every one else behind and spend the afternoon alone, hiking through the woods aimlessly with a little backpack and a fishing pole.

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Small Updates and Short Story

Well, we haven’t heard back from the one company that flew Dh out for and who then tried to cancel the interview. The other company that he applied to has contacted us to let us know they’ve filled the position. It’s looking grim and I’m trying to wrap my mind around the door being closed and another long winter here starting in about 6 months or so.

Another new development in our household lately is the refrigerator finally kicking the bucket.  A few months ago it was freezing all of my produce despite my best efforts to get it adjusted correctly. Then came a short time when it was just right. Now it won’t get cold at all. Thankfully I still have our old fridge in the back room and have been able to move most of my salvageable food stuffs into that one. Really starting to feel like a pioneer woman here, with no dishwasher, no dryer, no refrigerator, a wood stove, and snow that won’t quit!  I think I understand a little better why women pushed so hard and sacrificed so much for the right to vote, the right to equal wages, and threw off the social stigmas that went with working outside the home. Before all of these appliances that speed up the daily duties, so much time and energy was spent just surviving that there was no time or energy left to expand thoughts, learn new things, or read books.  I went on a laundry strike for two days because I’m so sick of the constant line of laundry through the living room that makes me move furniture around to accommodate it and makes me feel like the house is constantly dirty or disorganized.  And then I ran out of clean socks. I’m not even going to try to dissect why I still don’t have a new dryer or a fixed dryer.

And on to the story:

Yesterday I went to get groceries. Three kids in an extra-long-beep-beep-bus-driver shopping cart is always the highlight of the week. I was just hoping to get in there, get out, and get home in time to put them all down for normal naps since the two older kids are still having a very hard time going to sleep. That started when DH flew out to WA and hasn’t let up since.

Right after I parked I saw a lady take her extra long cart to the cart corral so I sped over there and grabbed it and loaded the kids right from the car to the bus.. I mean cart. Inside we went straight for the produce. We picked out lots of apples and oranges, then turned the corner to the next aisle. As I cautiously made my way forward, trying to steer clear of other carts and be conscious of how much room I need to maneuver, I found that an elderly gentleman was steering his cart closer and closer to mine. Before I knew it, I had been cornered. I couldn’t push past him, turn to go around him, or back up since there were people behind me. He didn’t seem the least bit perturbed by the rush around him, or the annoyance of the other people trying to get through. I watched and waited while he let go of his cart and shuffled past his basket, past my basket, and stopped next to my kids. He looked at them with a warm smile and then at me.

“Is there room for one more?”, he asked with a grin.

“Well, not so much!”, I laughed, “Got my hands pretty full!”

His eyes took on a serious tone and he looked at me for a few moments. He looked back at my kids, then to me and said, “But these are the BEST years of your life. I got three like that of my own in the cemetery, and now all I have to look at every day are just four walls.”

At that, he looked back at the kids and talked to them for a few minutes about the apples and oranges in the cart, then headed back to his cart. As he slowly pulled his cart from in front of mine and pushed past me, I reached out and squeezed his arm. He looked at me like he was grateful for the small bit of human touch, then pushed his cart on, muttering, “…best years of your life…” I fought back tears as I finished going down the rows of produce. His words had touched me, and I had to struggle to maintain some bit of composure while in public.

It was several minutes later that I realized how he had touched my life and I began to realize that I could have done more to return the favor. I left the produce section and began to drive my bus toward the entrance and checkout lines where he had seemed to be heading. I walked all along the row but didn’t see him. I was rather sad when I reached the other side of the store, but turned and headed toward the back of the store to finish the circle. And there he was by the plants and gardening supplies. This time I cornered him and began talking to him again.

And there we spent the next half an hour, clogging up traffic patterns and chatting away the time. I tried to invite him for dinner. I tried to invite ourselves to his house some Sabbath afternoon in case he couldn’t drive himself that far.  But he seemed content to just visit there in the aisles of Meijers.

I hope I made a difference, gave him something to remember fondly, or just brightened his day.

After the shopping was finally finished and I headed to check out, I soon found that he was there in line behind me. There were so few things in his cart, I thought of adding his to mine and paying for them. Except that as the last few things of mine were being rung up, I discovered my wallet was missing. Oh yes, I had my purse, with everything in it BUT my wallet. The cashier put my order on hold and I left my cart with all the groceries bagged up in it there beside her till while I dragged my very reluctant kids back out to the car to search for the missing wallet. ELA just could not understand why we were leaving all of those things there, especially since it was well past lunch time and they were all getting tired and hungry! Thankfully, the wallet was there and so back in we went, paid for our groceries, and headed back out to the car. A few apples later and all was right again with the world for the hungry kiddos. My thoughts, however, were still on the dear old man named Albert, shuffling around in the grocery store, no longer with a family of his own.  I have much to be grateful for.

Just Hangin’ Out

That’s exactly what DH said to me this morning when I called just before 9, when his interview was supposed to start. He was just “hangin’ out” at his in-laws. I’m sure that’s what every guy wants to do with a few precious days off from work. At that point it just seemed so absurd that it became laughable.

It’s been a rough day. I have talked to DH several times and just keep trying to sound like I’m taking it all in stride, that we’ll be okay. That I’LL be okay even if nothing happens out there besides a lovely little visit to the in-laws! In between, though, I’ve been just trying to slow down the rush of frustration and sometimes it falls apart for a few minutes before I can get it back together again.

Ah. All there is to do is just sit and wait. Turns out, in a long and complicated story that almost feels too full of BS to be true, they’ve rescheduled the interview (of sorts) for 1:30 PDT  (right now, in other words).  So now it is my turn to just hang out and wait. I’ve said the prayers, I’ve fretted and I’ve done my best to be calm and supportive to DH and not add to his burden or worry.

So I got up off my chair and began working on those darn chores that have to be done. EVERY DAY! lol. It’s not so bad as I make it out to be. I do enjoy it. And it goes quickly now without having to haul water!

Stolen kitty has returned, fat as ever. I do wish she’d come in and be a respectable house kitty. She’d make a nice one, friendly and all, and would have saved me from having to poison the 3 (!!!) mice that took up residence in this old farmhouse this winter. I have a sneaking suspicion that there is another mouse, already deceased, somewhere in a heating duct or something. It’s not pleasant. And probably more information than you wanted to know.

Moving on then. Rayne is feisier than ever, looking for reasons to kick Reb or Bear, even though he’s minding his own business in his own pen. Fancy is still up to her usual antics switching pens at random and showing up one day in Bear’s pen and the next morning in her own. I keep wanting to get brave and just sit on one of them, but now that Baron’s gone I don’t know which one would give me the least trouble, really. Besides that, the last time I sat on a horse since giving birth to 3 children was down right painful. Just to sit there. Forget trying to survive a walk, or.. good lord, a TROT. Ouch. It felt like my pelvis was BROKEN. Maybe now that it’s been almost 2 years all those joints would actually work properly and not have any of that looseness required for birthing those big noggins left over.

It’s really windy today, from the southeast, no less, and the hay is full of alfalfa, so it has a lot of fluff and blows away very easily. By the time I’d carried Fancy’s out to her I was covered in hay. Or, rather, I was FULL of hay. By the time I got back to the house I felt as though someone had been stuffing handfuls of hay down my shirt. And upon further examination, I found that I Looked like that was the case, too!  It’s amazing how tiny little pieces of hay can make their way through several layers of clothes to lodge inside of a bra.

The bunnies seem to be really enjoying the alfalfa. Fancy must be sharing her hut with a nice fat family judging by the signs of it. Hotdog’s gonna have a lovely time this spring hunting them down.

There are only about 2 dozen bales left in the loft, it’s getting pretty bare now, but I think we’ve got arrangements to get 50 more or so to last us through April. I slowed down as I went through the motions in the tack room today and just listened to the sound of my boots on the wooden planks of the floor. I love the way the sound echoes around, the way the boards are rounded and smooth at the edges. The old windows and the cobwebs call to me and remind me that the dreams of girlhood still live there. I didn’t get to grow up with horses and barns, tack rooms and haylofts. But in so many ways, R’s memories are my own. They exist for me somewhere in a bubble of time not really lived. They’ve mixed together, her memories and mine, and have been cut from the fabric of our friendship and pasted over old wounds. The wounds inflicted on each of us separately in such different ways, that might have separated us by such variance in experience, have instead been made over into a solid, warm quilt of crazy stripes and log cabins and migrating geese. It’s real in a world where most people think reality is what they see on a tv show. Selective, maybe yes, but I believe done with God’s blessing. She was sent to my life by His hand. For then to show us the better sides of ourselves. For now, to hold each other up through life’s unrelenting roller coasters, celebrate the new, and grieve together for the old. For the future, who knows? I believe He still has reasons beyond our grasp, to be seen just when needed most.

Well, I did get sidetracked from the boring sentiments about the rest of the critters floating around here, but that’s okay. Mostly I just needed to write right now, and I kinda like where it went 🙂

tucked away in the barn.

tucked away in the barn.

Ironic

Don’t you think? A little too ironic. Yep. I have a bit of a need to listen to some Alanis tonight.

How on earth does a company go from calling ONE WEEK ago, requesting an interview just over a week later, pay for plane tickets, rental car, hotel, whatever necessary – to calling the DAY before the interview (obviously when the candidate has already flown across the country to be there first thing next day) to try to cancel it???

Seriously.

How does this work?  How does a company change its mind on a dime like that?

I wish I were kidding. This really sucks. They’ve decided that while they still want to fill the  position, they now want to wait until July to do so. DH replied that since they already had flown him out on their dime they ought to go ahead with the interview and keep the info on file for later. The secretary was going to call him back to confirm or cancel, but as of the last time I talked to DH, that call hadn’t been received, and it was after 5 pm PDT. His interview is scheduled for 9 am. TOMORROW.

This weekend has been like a pressure cooker. I knew I had a lot of buildup of emotional tension that needed to be let out sometime, but the business of life with 3 kids and the constancy of necessary things have kept me from thinking about it all very much. I’ve also avoided talking to, well, pretty much everybody. It’s easier to just think of DH as being off on a business trip instead of with my family that I haven’t seen in almost a year.

So I spent this afternoon being caught off guard with moments of feeling overwhelmed and emotional at the slightest thing, like bursting out in tears watching Bolt with the kids. And then we talked to DH just before bedtime and he told me that news, and as soon as I got off the phone I ran to the bathroom and threw up.  I hate throwing up when it’s not intentional! HATE it! But I did feel better..

And immediately afterwards it was back to the business of putting the kids in bed and saying goodnight and tucking blankets and listening to prayers. Life doesn’t stop. Ever. Snow keeps on falling, critters still need to be fed, children still need all the tiny little things done that mothers do. Day after day after day.

I guess in some ways I expected the other shoe to drop.   Here’s where the irony comes in: We just got our tax return late last week. It is going to pay off a couple of bills and help us either make a trip out west to visit the family, or to move out if there were to be a job offer worth moving for. But EM turns 2 in 5 weeks. If we were to travel after her birthday, we have to have another plane ticket. So that means if  we were to wait another couple of weeks to purchase tickets for a 2 week visit that will cost us another few hundred dollars. But now it looks like this may be resolved in a matter of months instead of weeks, and everything is sort of up in the air. And honestly, I don’t feel like moving in any direction at all for a while. I just want to get my husband home, sit down for a week or so, steal a weekend away by ourselves and relax. And maybe sometime in that period of just SITTING, we will be able to stop this whirlwind long enough to hear what God is trying to tell us. What direction He might be pointing us in. Right now it just feels like He’s in on some April Fools’ Day joke.

Long Day

Started off with a bang this morning with the alarm going off at 2:30 and a very obnoxious bright light turning on over my head. D&B arrived within 10 minutes and we were pretty much all set to go! Everything had been packed the night before, so mostly it was just a matter of getting our brains to thaw out enough to function properly before operating a motor vehicle.

Stopped for coffee in town just after 3 am and as we paid we were told to “Have a good night!”  I laughed as we walked out to the car, telling DH, “You know you are up way too early when you are still being wished a good night!”  Still didn’t seem all that out of the ordinary for us. Yesterday morning I was up at 3:30 and we’re typically up at 4:30 or earlier even on the weekends.

The drive went quickly and we were at the GR airport just after 5. We did the curbside drop-off but I ran in to use the restroom before we said goodbye so I wouldn’t have to stop somewhere back up the road. I got a lot of strange looks as I quickly tried to locate the ladies’ room and it took me a while to figure out that it does look kind of odd to see someone rushing through the airport at 5 am with no purse, no luggage, no other people, etc. And then once I realized, I couldn’t help but have this sort of suppressed smile that I’m sure looked more like a smirk. If I would have just said the word “bomb” out of the side of my mouth my day could have gone awry in a hurry!

We said our goodbyes and I kissed him with his newly prickly chin and promised to be praying for him. It seems so very odd to be sending him out there without me. If someone had told me a year ago this is what I would do today, I would have laughed and never thought twice about it. That’s how it is with most things in our lives, though, isn’t it?

I was back in the north country before 8 and stopped for gas and ran in to walmart for some frozen pizza, eggos, and bananas. You know, the staples for a weekend of single parenting! Back in town I stopped at the car wash and vaccuumed out the back of the car before going over to D&B’s to pick up the kids and put the car seats back in my car. I’m sure I could have fed a flock of song birds for a month on the crumbs back there!

Ate breakfast with the family over there and took a quick 30 min. cat nap while the kids watched the backyardigans and then loaded up the carseats, the kids, and the myriad of blankets, cups, diapers, stuffed animals, and mismatched clothing that came with them.

At home I unloaded the car and put everything away, took EM up for a nap, and cleaned the kitchen. After lunch I sent J and ELA up for their naps then tried to occupy EM with books while I went outside and brought in several armloads of firewood since we’re supposed to get snow this weekend. Fed the dogs, and then out to feed the horses. Stolen kitty has been missing for about a week now. Gave everybody their hay and grain, carried Fancy’s out to her stall and then had to go lift the fence for her to walk under to get back into her pen. She won’t stay in the fence, but she doesn’t wander too far and I just have to make sure the fence is unplugged before I go help her get back in! Crazy girl. Getting shocked doesn’t deter the old lady one bit.

After that I came back in and tried to get EM to lay down on the chair beside me so I could catch a few zzz’s. What she really wanted to do was sit on top of me and bounce around all giggly like. So I watched some of this new Netflix I have called 1900 House. DH would be impressed with the renovation they did to the house to make it authentic. It was entertaining, I think. You know, the part that my fuzzy brain caught anyway.

Was talking on the phone with my mom and wondering where DH was since he should have been on the ground for 2 hours or so at the time of the phone call, when I went upstairs to get ELA up from her nap. I was hoping to possibly put EM down for a second nap, but not a chance. The shock of the smell and sight of a poopy 3 year old standing on her bed all gross like never fades no matter how many times you see it. Out of desperation I always seem to stand there saying, “Why?  Why?” And the reply never fails to strike on that last nerve, “…because!”

I managed to get her downstairs without getting yucky myself somehow, and stood her there in the living room assessing the situation. Finally, because I am so very much at my wits’ end with her, I find I can do nothing but sink to my knees and pray (out loud) for the strength to get through the next 15 minutes without losing it and becoming a very bad mommy. And for some reason, my kids think this is HILARIOUS. Raucus laughter erupts from them and for once that actually helps me get through the moment. 30 disposable wipes later ELA is ready to get into the bathtub.

I love the inventor of disposable wipes.

I stuck EM in the bath tub too and then ran upstairs to remove whatever was poopy from the bedroom. 2 minutes later I came back downstairs to find a tiny little naked rear end streaking through the house! Apparently the little one was done with the bath. I stuck her back in there and dunked her around enough to get her clean and soaped up, then went through the chore of washing her hair. She’s her Daddy’s girl and doesn’t really like water all that much. Every time I wash her hair and rinse it she thinks I’m trying to drown her. It doesn’t matter which way I do it, it’s always the same story. After that I got her out, dried her off, brushed her hair under protest, and dressed her in her jammies. Then I ran back upstairs to clean and disinfect the surfaces and spray the carpet in the girls’ bedroom. Yes, it really did require all of that.

Funny how I can clean my kid’s poop from who knows where all I’ve cleaned it from without gagging one bit, but if I see my little lap dog puke on the kitchen floor I am guaranteed a few good dry heaves. Sorry. I know that’s way too much information, but I’m getting a little tired as I sit here and write this!

As I come back down after the second cleaning trip upstairs, I see the second little girl streaking around all dripping wet and have to send her back into the tub to finish cleaning up. After she is clean and dried and dressed in her jammies I sat down and set about the task of combing through the rat’s nest she has grown over the last 24 hours. How she manages to do that I’ll never know. Finally I threw the little hotdog into the old bathwater and scrubbed him up with some of that leftover baby shampoo. He gives me a look that says, “yep, the degradation is now complete.” when I finish him up with some pretty smelling conditioner. Oh well. He gets to sleep upstairs all weekend. He’ll get over it.

DH finally called and said he’d made it after having to switch planes in Minneapolis from the one with the bum engine to a new one that had to be fueled up and prepped for passengers and all the luggage switched over. Apparently they were taxiing when they realized the engine was out and had to go back to the terminal. I’m so glad they found that out BEFORE they took off. Took some of my stress off to hear his voice and know he was on the ground safely.

Dinner came next, which made me deliriously glad I had a few frozen pizzas to throw in the oven! I washed dishes while that baked, then we picked up the living room and vaccuumed while it cooled off. After dinner was cleaned up I swept and scrubbed counters, then put away a bunch of folded laundry before worship. Bedtime was nice and peaceful and now it is nice and quiet up there. No worrysome noises! I put up one last load of wash on the living room line to dry overnight so I can wash those poopy things as soon as possible, and stoked up the fire because it was starting to snow.

I’m enjoying my Fernando Ortega cd and the Lilac Blossoms candle, but I think it’s now time to go to bed. It truly has been a LONG day.

So much can change in a week

I am sitting here kinda woozy like this morning. Monday brought a much anticipated (thought not always genuinely expected) phone call from one of the two companies DH submitted a resume to out in WA. They want him to come interview NEXT WEEK!  After the initial shock wore off, we started hunting around for plane tickets. Of course, on that short notice the tickets available were hideously expensive. Even if we were to drive to Indy and fly from there, it would be much more than what we could reasonably spend on a ticket for me to accompany him.

Hmm… accompany him… that reminds me of a song from one of Dad’s famous CDs that used to blare through the Berrien house on Sunday mornings. Hmm…not Rod Stewart, not the Eagles, who was it?

Anywho. Right. See?! My brain is mush these days!

So, in an effort to be wise and practical, we decided he’d fly out this Friday and spend the weekend with the family out there before his Tuesday interview. I get to stay home for now. I hated to make that decision, but it is the only reasonable thing to do. And yes, I can be reasonable now and then. We’ll be reimbursed for his ticket, but spending the $800 or so for me to go with him would go a long ways toward making the move if he gets the job, or a long ways towards making a nice leisurely trip out west if that falls through.

It’s kind of nerve wracking to think that he must be on the short list of possible new hires. If they weren’t fairly certain they’d like what he brings, they wouldn’t be so jumpy on the on-site interview, right? They didn’t even do a PHONE interview with him first, which is what they typically do. Wow. I can hardly wrap my mind around how quickly this is going from a distant dream to a real (and…. likely?) possibility. It’s very exciting to think of new possibilities and new adventures. Especially for my kids. I know that living near my familywill bring with it a whole gamut of complications and trials, defining boundaries that have never been necessary before, and communication issues galore. I’ve never lived there as an adult. It will in some ways be a steep learning curve!

And as for packing? Good grief. I have no idea how we have managed to accumulate so much stuff in the last 7 1/2 years, but it is astounding. Most of it will stay here. Cheap, mismatched furniture can be found out there as easily as here, so there’s no point in moving it 3000 miles. The piano will stay. It belongs here, and a smaller one can be found out there. The evil, hideous (but comfy!) 35 year old couch the devil will be sitting on while the earth burns around him will NOT be making the trip west.

Anyway, the task of paring down and pitching out is very difficult for me. I have a lot of things. I LIKE my things. My things are my friends. Well, okay, maybe not quite attatched to that extent, but you get the picture. It’s kind of like that song, “The Song Remembers When”. Except you have to change it to My Things Remember When.

I don’t have the best memory. I remember faces and experiences and feelings, all relative to the relationships going on at the time. I don’t remember names, specifics, dates (in general) and verbal conversations. I’m much better at remembering things that were written down than things that were said. When I find an old note written by a friend, or pick up a trinket from my childhood jewelry box, I remember the occasion, the time, where I lived, and those types of details that I otherwise wouldn’t.

Oh, and then there are those things that were given to me by so-and-so (ahem.. Bev) for Christmas 6 years ago that is still in the back of my closet for absolutely no other reason than it was a gift so I can’t get rid of it. Maybe if I went through and got rid of all that Guilt stuff I’d have enough room to keep and pack my Things.

So there you have it! Big changes may be in store, we’ll be continuing to pray and wait for God’s direction here.

Free Bird

So I was listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd last night in the car as I ran to the store. Yep, I’m not sure how exactly it was that I got sucked into that, but there I was, wondering how I’d made it almost the whole first 30 years of my life without hearing Free Bird. I mean, those songs are what defined “the South” for a generation. And then that generation grew up and wrote country songs, and I’m pretty sure the bulk of what we hear on the radio now has been shaped in some way by those guys. I love it!

I couldn’t help but laugh when listening to that made me think of Jason, standing there next to his car in his Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt, and how my life has paralleled his in ways I never expected. You know one of the reasons I gave him was that I didn’t want to move out to the midwest? I couldn’t picture living my life in Kentucky. I wanted to live in the great mountains of the west, maybe even the wilds of Alaska. Now I’d be so thrilled to live in Kentucky I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

Poor guy. I’m sure he thought the biggest reason was that my mother didn’t approve. Really, I should have known better than to leave him alone with her for longer than 2 minutes. I should have warned him under no circumstances was he to show his drawings of dragons for his allegory to my mother. How could he have known she’d have a coronary and come unglued?  How much worse for him that the all American, handsome, 6 ft. tall, helpful to a fault brother of my best friend showed up that same weekend and managed to pack my entire apartment into the minivan to my mother’s everlasting delight in less than 3 hours.

Ah, well. The truth was that Jason was a great friend. We got along famously and had a great time together on that level. We all had some great adventures, dancing by the side of the road, walking to the water tower for morning worship, various flying trips to Barnes & Nobles, watching his movie at the Inn.  Whenever I hear Big Girls Don’t Cry I think of him because in some ways our friendship felt like it had that childish quality of being innocent play mates. If only he hadn’t wanted to marry me, we’d probably still be friends. lol! I know that sounds simplistic and maybe unfeeling, but it’s true. I do wish I could go back and be honest with him and tell him the real reasons I couldn’t ever marry him instead of skirting the issue like I did.

But that was once upon a time, many years ago.

Sunday night I was finally able to go for a walk. It was almost surreal! I tied on my tennis shoes and walked down the slushy driveway and stepped out onto the pavement of the road for the first time in months. I walked up past the maple trees to the end of the road and turned toward B&R’s house. The sun was at my back and I watched my shadow walk in front of me as I went, tendrils of hair swirling around me in the warm breeze. I turned around at the end of our field and retraced my steps back to the corner, taking deep breaths as I went. I crossed back in front of our house and down the dip to the river. I was in such a nice rhythm I didn’t stop on the first bridge and almost didn’t stop on the second. But the pause there at the river is the highlight of my walks. It is the sound of the rushing water, tumbling over the rocks, sweeping along the branches leaning their arms down to get a drink, the whisper in the woods.

Eventually I pulled myself away and finished walking up to the stop sign and turned around again. Back over the bridges I went, this time drinking in the smell of the evergreens on the island. It’s like heaven to me. It reaches way down into my soul and touches the old, good memories of childhood in me and reminds me of times and things I haven’t thought of in a long time. It reminds me of pieces of myself I’ve forgotten.

As I drew closer to my own driveway again I stopped suddenly at the edge of my yard as 5 gorgeous fat robins fluttered up into the branches of the walnut tree. I watched them for a while and waiting until they were comfortable enough with me to return to their hunt for edibles on the big patches of bare ground now visible. It was a happy sight, and the walk was, in a word, restorative.

Perfect

Friday was a pleasant day. The kind of day you get into a slow and steady pace instead of rushing around at the end of it playing catch-up. I still found myself fixing dinner, Sabbath dinner, and dessert all at once, though, as the evening light began to wane. And as I had all of these things going at once, there was suddenly this moment.

I was standing at the counter, with the smell of onions frying on the stove mixing with the wonderful scent of the fresh air cold and sweet seeping in through the screen door, when three little children ran in, circling the table with their golden laughter.  They swirled around each other like little tornadoes through the kitchen, curls bouncing, shoes clomping, and I wanted to just push the pause button and take it in for a few minutes.

The moment was so fleeting, though. Because the saying really is true: the days drag on and the years fly by. The food on the stove needed my attention and the children simply refuse to be “paused” no matter how hard I try. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was that touched my soul right then, maybe just the simple combination of things, maybe a moment of deja-vu of all those girlhood dreams, but I know I’ll hold on to that moment for years.

Change Comes Quietly

I noticed on a bright sunny day earlier this week that there were certiain tell-tale twinges of color on the trees outside. I couldn’t believe my eyes! This was in the midst of days that blew cold wind howling around the eaves and dumped snow on us while the temps dipped down below zero.  How did the trees know that spring was coming?

I couldn’t even tell spring was coming. I mean, mentally, there is that knowledge that it is March and logically winter won’t last till July. Some days it really does seem like winter has decided to become permanent this year, though.

I took some pictures of the branches of the Silver Maple tree out in the yard for proof. For myself. To remind me that life begins with little whispers of breath unseen. Like the life of a child begins by the tiniest of cells dividing, with little changes every day until finally it is ready to sustain life on its own, so change comes by the smallest things, over time.

I used to think that the big changes in life came by big decisions agonized over through sleepless nights. Now I see that life altering change more often comes by those tiny moments that daily shape our days. It’s beautiful and frightening all at the same time.

Love can come by those little whispers, over time, by the daily choices we make to choose loving actions, loving thoughts.

Babies come after 40 weeks of tiny bits of growth and change in an unseen world.

Faith can be built, changed, wrought from small daily prayers to a God willing and wanting to come in and change your heart.

And by the same turn, those very things can be lost by those little changes that happen every day, for good or for bad.

Love can be lost, damaged, hearts scarred by those seemingly small choices daily made to be unloving, unkind, inconsiderate.

A child’s character is formed by each and every little decision made that brings influences into their world. In many ways, J is a little puzzle with pieces put together by the choices his father and I have made.

And of course, we know that faith can wane by the daily act of neglect.

It was, for me, a little object lesson found in my own backyard, and reminded me to be diligent in my daily choices that seem so small, but that really have impact on the bigger picture and can have even eternal consequences.

Signs of life on the Silver Maple

Signs of life on the Silver Maple

For the Birds

Yesterday we had a bird in the house. It was terribly exciting for the kids. Not so much for me.

It was in the front room at first, fluttering away at the plastic over the windows. We were sitting in the living room doing school when the commotion started. It took me a while to figure out what the sound was, and then I had to peel back the plastic over the doorway to get in there and take a look around. That room has been insulated, but the old insulation has been piled up in the corner, the trim is in a pile along the wall, plus the blue couch, the old treadmill, orange chair, and the wooden toybox are all spending their winter in there. In other words, there were plenty of places for a sneaky old Starling to hide from me as I tried to catch him.

I had to draw the line at digging through the old insulation to catch it, and kept waiting for it to come back out and attack the plastic window out in the open by the blue couch. Then I’d rush back in with a blanket and try to corner him or trap him. Eventually I did corner him. In the wrong place.  Just when I thought I had him for sure, he ducked under the doorway and went into the office. Great. The piles of paperwork, boxes of files, two desks, and a Dora kitchen will make it SO much easier to catch a bird.

I opened the door to the office to try and get him to come out into the house, but he wanted nothing to do with that. The house got colder by the minute! That is the COLD side of the house that we shut off and ignore for the winter months and it acts as a buffer to the cold northwest wind.

Eventually the Starling got tired and I cornered it and caught it. The kids were ecstatic! I opened the door and tossed him up while the kids watched with their noses pressed against the kitchen windows. That was our excitement for the day! We went back to school work and learning our letters and I tried to answer the question, “How did the bird get in the house, Mom?”  lol! Good question, son. Good question.  I guess that’s a hazard (one of many) of living in a very old farmhouse and being surrounded by very pesky and persistent Starlings.

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