It's been a week of reflection. There is an empty spot in Mom's room where her hospital bed was. We took it to the local loan closet about a week ago. I was ready to let it go, but am feeling a bit melancholy just the same. I'm not quite sure how to sort through Mom's things. Thankfully, she didn't leave massive amounts of belongings because I already don't know how to "dispose" (that sounds like such a cruel word) of what is left. I've never divided an estate, never sold off possessions. Mostly I stand staring at things and wonder what to do, as if hanging on to things will keep a little bit of my parents here.
Slides and pictures
I had three quiet days this week, one of which I spent away from home. The other two found me attempting to sort through some of my own junk collections, turning Mom's room into a kind of catch-all. I've found that sometimes it isn't the letting go that is so hard, but where to send the stuff I'm letting go of.
Do I want to put the effort into selling things? Is there a greater benefit in donating? Do I hold a "Great Give Away" with a donation jar toward Hannah's summer mission trip to Grenada?
The truth is that everything feels like a part of Mom and Dad... and I want to hold on to them as long as I can.
I can't even remember where they went but I don't think it was far from home, at least not outside of New York state. Maybe the Adirondack Mountains... maybe the Thousand Islands... They were young, happy, and looking forward to starting a life together. Their marriage would last for fifty-six years, bring them five children and thirteen grandchildren. The picture doesn't seem so very long ago...
On this dark and dreary winter-ish day, I met my beautiful daughters for lunch. Beth called at the tail end of my Bible study and we agreed to meet at Panera Bread around noon. While I waited for the rest of my party to arrive, I met the eyes of a woman across the room, someone I have seen only once in the past 30 some years. (Facebook is great for catching up with old friends and being able to recognize them decades later.) Mairead and I gave each other a quick hug and I said hello to her husband before he left to pick up their lunches, and then I went back to my waiting.
Tonight I'm missing my parents, both of them. I hunted down my CD of Dad singing hymns and popped it into the computer. It can make me teary, but is comforting at the same time. "God Be With You Till We Meet Again," he sings, and I remember how comforting all those songs were four years ago. Life sure was a lot easier when I was a kid...
I could tell you how I accomplished some long put off tasks today...
Or how we had a brief taste of summer this weekend...
I might let you know that I slipped back into drinking coffee these past few days...
Or that I've gone two whole days gluten-free.. or at least eating far less gluten...
I washed my windows today with those pretty little Norwex microfiber cloths my daughter sells. Hannah cleaned my screens with the bathroom scrub mitt, which I rarely use on my tub anyway. My arms and hands are sore, but my windows are sparking.
I'm having a short vacation from small children and hoping to accomplish much in the few days without them. So far, so good.
Not long ago a close friend celebrated a milestone birthday. Reaching milestones often leaves us thinking and my friend commented on wanting to make a difference in the world in the time that remains. They asked how I thought best to do that and, I must admit, I wasn't quite sure how to answer. It's not that I don't have any ideas, it's just that I wasn't sure how to answer this particular individual.
I'm reading Max Lucado's "A Love Worth Giving" for the second time in less than a year. Deep inside I believe love is the answer to making a difference. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12) It's what made the difference in my family when I was growing up. My parents loved us, they loved their friends and neighbors, and they loved our friends. Fifty years later the children who played with my brothers as little boys would recall how "special" my parents made them feel. One person after another at my dad's memorial service would tell me "Your dad always made me feel special." There were similar stories when it came to Mom.
Loving people isn't always easy, but love always comes on the very top of the list of things God calls us to. "Without love," He says, "we are nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2) and not only that, we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. 'For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall loveyourneighbor as yourself.”' (Galatians 5:14) It's a tall order, but I still believe it's what makes the difference.
I knew I should have jumped in the shower this morning, but I stayed in bed an extra ten minutes instead. A little before 9 am my "across the street" neighbor knocked on the door with a small white dog in her arms. Sofie had escaped. (Visitor number one, Mrs. C.)
Bethany came around nine with a small grandson who stayed here while his big brother made a visit to the doctor's office. (Visitors two and three) Two hours later Beth took Cat to the vet and Josh stayed to play. (Visitor number four)
My Aunt Margie hadn't been over in a couple of weeks so I wasn't surprised to see her mid morning. She came in for a cup of tea and told me about her visit to Florida. (She was visitor five.)
Not long after lunch a black jeep pulled into the driveway. (Visitor number six) I went outside to greet our old friend Adam and give him a hug. (I told you he was one of my "dropper-inner" friends.) I made a fresh pot of coffee and we had a very nice visit. I
This week I had ten children pass through my doors. Half of them were grandchildren. I had lunch with a couple of friends on Tuesday, and tea and coffee with a couple more today. It's been a rather full and happy kind of week. Next week is spring break. I wonder what I'll do then?
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was to close all the bedroom doors and throw a super ball down the tile hallway. It ricocheted off doors, walls, and the floor while I tried to follow its path with my eyes. Eventually, the bouncing became less erratic and more predictable. As the ball lost energy and moved slower, the bounces became more frequent but less intense. That's when I would pick it up again and give it another toss. I'm not sure if there is any correlation between ricocheting super balls and the thoughts inside my mind, but there are times when it feels like I have a brain full of super balls.
Yesterday we had a couple unplanned visitors for a few afternoon hours. These little ones had already spent a restless night with other friends, following an accident at home, and the friends needed a few hours rest before picking up the task again. It wasn't hard to love these little people for the afternoon. What was hard was knowing their other sister and mommy were at the hospital waiting to see if sister was okay go home. Please pray for our little friend N. who has a cast from her waist down and is pretty much immobilized. We thank God that she is alright. Things could have turned out so much worse.
Today brought the first really warm and comfortable temperatures of the season. We took the kids outside and while they played, we raked out flower gardens. What do you know! There are actually flowers growing. Maybe I will have tulips and daffodils in a few weeks.
M is for Manatea. (I know, you think I spelled manatee wrong, but this is a very special manatee and that is why we spell it "manatea".)
I'm not a big loose-leaf tea drinker, but I do have some on hand and some of it is pretty tasty. Yesterday I decided to try out the Manatea my sis in law sent me a while back. You fill him up with loose-leaf tea, hang him on the side of your tea cup, and then he "leaks" into your cup. :0)
Apparently, according to the box, this guy's name is "Fred" (or at least I'd like to think so...). Fred the Manatea didn't seem to mind his boiling water bath yesterday afternoon and brewed me a very nice cup of tea. Now if only I had a cup that looked like a hot tub or swimming pool.
It's hard to keep up with blogging when my mind is weighed down with so many things. While writing provided a great sense of relief during my father's illness and subsequent passing, other life stresses are not so easily shared in a public forum, nor should they be. There are days when I'm just too tired or distracted to write, and there are other days when I sit and try but my efforts prove fruitless.
Today, after my Bible study in Webster, I met two friends for lunch. Shelly knew Nan would be meeting me, but Nan did not know Shelly was coming. It was a fun surprise and we had a nice time sitting and chatting over lunch. We lingered long enough at Panera Bread that one of the workers came by and offered to take our plates. The three of us decided that it was so much fun that we should do it again. It was a great stress reliever even if only for a few hours.
Sadly, I did not grab my camera on my way out of the house to prayer. I didn't grab my purse either, but did remember that before we got to the end of the road. Didn't think we should turn around twice (once for a camera) or we might never have gotten to church.
PS. My favorite neighbors have just put their house up for sale. This is a very sad thing for all of us.
My "weekend" starts on Monday and I get one day to recover before jumping into the week again. I lost a little bit of sleep over the weekend due to a small overnight guest. (He gets up at the crack of dawn and sometimes well before dawn even thinks of cracking...) Let's just say there was very little rest for the weary between Friday night and Saturday morning, and I will be grateful hereafter for nights of "mostly" uninterrupted sleep. The small child was taken into our room at about 2:30 am and didn't go back to sleep until round about 4 am. I think I got and hour or an hour and a half before he realized it was 6 am and sat up again awaiting the rising of the sun.
I managed catch a few winks when I crashed on the couch Saturday morning and a few more Z's while the little ones watched Toy Story Saturday afternoon. (A very few...) I fought sleep in church this morning while Vinnie, who was, of course, up at the crack of dawn, dozed on my lap. He slept through all the announcements, the offering, a hymn or two, and the scripture reading, along with a long prayer, and woke up just in time to go out for junior church. I thought to drop him off and come back for the sermon, but he was not about to be left. I decided not to fight it and stayed with him rather than make everyone miserable should he attempt a coup. It's a good thing I love him so much. :0)
Today My Darling had a birthday (Sorry, it wasn't yesterday, yesterday was just the day we tried to pull the food together.) He's just a little older than he was last year. It's just too bad he didn't start counting backward when I did. He's gotten way to mature for my childish antics and scarcely knows what to do with me anymore. Good thing I have grandchildren!
The photos are from last year on this day. Today we had a cold rain which refilled the puddles that had just disappeared. I don't believe there is a lake in my backyard, but to be honest, I never really checked.
It was a busy day with another houseful of children and tomorrow promises more of the same. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I will be making a valiant attempt to put together some kid of birthday party/lunch for My Darling. Should be quite the feat, but I do believe Bethany is coming over to lend a hand (and bring another small child). Funny to think how I did this all by myself when I had my own houseful of children.
I'm still looking for warm weather but purposing not to dwell on the fact that it hasn't shown up yet. We'll know spring has truly arrived when the grass turns green. Guess we need a little more rain and sunshine for that to happen.
My living room is often strewn with cars, blocks, and books, but the children aren't the only ones who get out toys and leave them on the floor. Once in a while Sofie decides to play too. She is especially interested in Beanie Babies.
She was probably hoping for a good game of "Fetch" but lost interest when I started taking photos.
She's overdue for a haircut, way overdue. Her hairdresser closed up shop due to lack of clientele. Sad because she was close, affordable, and did a great job. *sigh* I've either got to go back to butchering her hair myself, or finding her a new stylist.
Okay, so it wasn't actually Easter eggs I was looking for in the grass, but it was a hunt. I was hunting dog poop, picking it up with an ash shovel, and dropping it into a plastic bag lined bucket. The hunt is getting harder every year and I'm beginning to wonder why I haven't kept up with this during production. Not only are my eyes not seeing as well as they used to, but the grass is dead and brown, the yard is full of sticks and scattered leaves, and some of the "piles" are more like pancakes. Dog poop really does show up much better on top of snow...
I've come up with a new "law". I call it "Mom's first rule of dog ownership" and it goes like this: "Where there is dog poop, someone will step in it. Sometimes it will be Mom." It was bad enough that I stepped upon a terd on my first morning venture into the yard, but when I went back out to "find" some more, I managed to get some on the bottom of my other shoe. And I was looking for it! If it's nice out tomorrow, I just may employ some younger, sharper, and "closer to the ground" eyes to help me get the yard cleaned up. And then, I'll need to find an old toothbrush to clean up our shoes. I think maybe I know where My Darling keeps his. :0)
Look what I have in my garden!!! In spite of the snowstorm that dropped five or six inches of wet, heavy snow on us between Saturday night and Sunday morning, we have flowers. I came home from a day out to find my snowdrops had miraculously popped out of the ground. My friend says, "their circadian rhythm was humming under the snow." She says it's "magic". I had to look it up. Circadian rhythms occur as a plant entrains to synchronize with the light cycle of its surrounding environment. Wikipedia
Sounds cool to me. I'm just happy to see that spring is actually beginning to show its pretty face.
It was almost noon when I curled up on the couch, Oreo on the back of the cushion behind me. Not wanting to get up for a blanker, I dropped on of the decorative pillows atop my legs and closed my eyes. forty-five minutes later my sleep was disturbed by a ringing phone. (Isn't that always the way?) I didn't recognize the area code and decided not to answer, and whoever was on the other end opted not to leave a message.
This afternoon, Rachel and I headed out to visit our brother Tim. He was in good spirits this week. He didn't cry and didn't hit himself. He enjoyed his Frosty without having to worry about it being turned into a shake of another flavor. I enjoyed the ride and company while attempting to stay awake in the back seat, warmed by the sunshine and still feeling sleepy.
While we were out, Rachel gave me a few minutes to run into the credit union where I do my banking. I made a deposit into my account and then had a question for the teller. My mom's health insurance company issued a refund check for her last month's payment but it is written to "The Estate of..." Of course, since there has been no reason for Mom's will to go into probate, there is no account set up for her "estate". Tomorrow I shall make a second attempt, will in hand with my name as executor, and see if I can do it then. If not, I will need to send it back to the insurance company with a request that it be written to me. Silly little things that make life more complicated than necessary. I can't wait until all of this is settled and done.
By the way, a nice little cup of "mostly decaf" coffee on my return home, has done a very nice job of getting me through the evening with my eyes open.
My sister will be coming to take me out this afternoon. We are going to visit our brother again and take him out for a ride.
Yesterday's snow was sparkling like diamonds in the sunlight this morning. We are all looking for flowers by the end of March, not a snowstorm, but I still have to admit, there is something beautiful about sparkling snow. (Click on the photo and you will see what I mean.)
I am feeling utter fatigue this morning. Although the sun is bright and it's not yet noon, I think I shall curl up on the couch for a minute or two and see if I can catch a few winks of sleep. Perhaps after a nap I will be feeling better able to function.
"You're breaking my heart." It was "somewhat" cute the first time, but manipulative just the same, and then her brother decided to try it out too. Children sure do have a vast array of tactics to play on the heartstrings of the adults in their lives. Just try to discipline a rambunctious youngster and he or she is sure to come up with a creative attempt to coerce you otherwise. Tearful pleas, negotiating, and angry threats. I've heard them all.
I learned much in the raising of my own children. I made plenty of mistakes, some of them out of sheer frustration, others out of complete exhaustion. I've found a simple "time out" chair to be quite effective (it doesn't leave welts...) as well as said child being left to cry it out, if my nerves (and those of others present) can handle it. One small child told me not so long ago, "I'll cry." I was unmoved and so he said, "I'll cry and get mad." I assured him the tactic would be ineffective and he didn't bother to try either one.
Disciplining children in crisis is hard. They are tired, they are frustrated and angry, and they are hurting emotionally. On top of that, they are little and naturally naughty. Consistency is of utmost importance and yet so hard to implement. I'm still searching for what works, especially for one soon to be four year old with a desperately hurting heart and bad attitude.
It was dark and dreary. Rain threatened. I grabbed several pairs of small mittens, a few extra hats, and my camera. We packed four small children into the van and headed toward Webster. One quick stop at Target on the way, to buy Cheerios for hungry birds and a bottle of Ibuprofen for My Darling. I left Hannah in the van with the kids and the radio. All was well.
While I traversed the aisles of Target my car battery was draining. I had turned the engine off and left not only the radio playing, but the lights on. Good thing for that cheap cell phone. I put in a call to Bethany who was out running errands with my favorite son in law and not far away. God worked out the details once again. I had pulled straight through the parking space and had the nose of my van facing the outer aisle, my daughter and her husband had a pair of jumper cables with them, and I had just bought snacks. I was blessed to be rescued. (Talk about Not-so-random-acts-of-kindness...)
When we finally arrived down at the bay, we discov- ered a huge pile of bread had been left in the parking lot. It wasn't quite the feeding frenzy I had imagined, but the kids still had fun. They tossed some bread to a few swans, poked at some dead fish, and climbed on rocks.
Even the seagulls were all but absent today. They normally fly overhead, squawk, fight, and multiply in rank as we toss them tidbits. That was not to be this morning. Thankfully, no one appeared bitterly disappointed that the birds weren't hungry.
Hannah and Bethany made a new game instead and tossed handfuls of Cheerios at each other and into the wind while Jakie popped handfuls into his mouth. The wind down by the lake was cold and fierce. Each child donned a hat upon getting out of the van and several small children opted for mittens after running about the beach for a bit. Even Hannah found a winter coat and knit hat necessary.
It was probably ten degrees warmer up at Bethany's house just above the bay, and a lot less windy!
Today we had a bit of noise... and running... and fighting... and crying. We watched Chip and Dale, who I keep referring to as Tom and Jerry, and we made macaroni and cheese. There were blocks and cars, graham crackers and Smarties, and silly games. In some ways I felt unproductive, especially after yesterday's cleaning episode (no deep cleaning today), but I think we managed to tread water and stay afloat.
The kids are still very pleased with their "fixed up" room and I even let them play up there for a little bit. I think tomorrow we may just venture down to Irondequoit Bay and feed the birds before the outlet bridge comes out for the summer. I've not taken the kids out much, so this will be a trial run. I hope the weather cooperates. The forecast is sending mixed signals. Rain, but warm. I think maybe we'll give it a go, after all, we're waterproof and I have a few umbrellas.
Winter just keeps hanging on, but I did see a few flowers sprouting in the garden just outside my back door. Maybe we will see snowdrops and daffodils this year after all.And, after feeding the birds all winter, I saw a pair of cardinals this morning. How cool is that?
Nervous energy necessitated a project of some kind, so I took on one of the upstairs bedrooms that had been long neglected. Ben has been moving stuff out of his room for several weeks now. (He has an apartment.) There isn't much left that belongs to him except a few boxes of random stuff. His dresser is gone and his nightstand left Sunday. I figured it was a good time to drag my vacuum cleaner upstairs and help Dave by getting the room in order.
It didn't take too long to toss out some trash and throw a few odds and ends into the laundry basket. I picked up a few stray pieces of trash and vacuumed up a bit of dust. New sheets went onto Ben's old bed on one end of the room for Dave and Dave's old mattress and box springs were freshened up for a couple of small children. We moved the dresser full of kid clothes into the room where some of those boxes used to be and a shelf for Dave's things in the other side. A little nightstand was moved in from out in "Hannah's Place" and the runner rug that Aunt Margie gave me last week fit between the bed and the wall perfectly. I even moved a few toys in to make it more inviting, and when the kids came tonight they cheered. Their daddy smiled. He likes it too.
I may be bending the rules this weeK, but you can't have caKe without the K and so this is my picK for this weeK. I had a birthday and thought perhaps I had missed out on chocolate caKe, but my daughter showed up with one at an impromptu birthday party on Sunday afternoon. How did she know chocolate was my favorite caKe?
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.5
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.7
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8
Love never fails. I Corinthians 13:1-8a
I am a mere ten years away from the age my grandpa was when I made my appearance in this world. I almost arrived on his birthday, which was just two days after mine, but I chose Palm Sunday 1964 instead. We shared thirty-five birthdays before he passed on at the age of 95, and I still miss him, especially when our birthdays come around. It's hard to believe he'd be one hundred ten years old by now. Time goes faster all the time, and now I am sounding like those "old" people I once knew.
Time. It takes away those we love and makes heaven all the sweeter.
Feeling helpless once again. Grown up kids have grown up problems. Those problems make us tired, mostly because we don't know what to do, and turn us to prayer. Different child, different problem, same helpless feeling.
It's been a wild weekend and in the midst of it all I had a birthday. I have successfully managed my way back to forty. Birthdays are more fun now that I've been counting backward for five years. Not sure how I'll handle it next time, but 39 sounds like a good age to end up.
Saturday morning I got up early and met my sister Priscilla for a pancake breakfast and maple sugaring demonstration at a "nearby" nature center. Hannah went along and we took our little friend Vinnie who stayed with us for the weekend. There is nothing quite so yummy on pancakes than real maple syrup.
Late in the afternoon James took me out to a movie and dinner. We saw "God's Not Dead" and ate a nice little Chinese restaurant. I thought that was it for the birthday celebration, but this afternoon my kids and sisters showed up for a party. The chocolate cake that was missing yesterday miraculously appeared with Bethany making my birthday complete.
This evening we took our small friend back home to his grandma. The house is quiet and the toys are temporarily put away...
The flower pot was full today. In all nine children passed through my doors today. Three were grandchildren, two were school bus kids, and one came late in the day to spend the weekend. In spite of a puking episode (or two), and the time when Hannah was peed on, it was a pretty good day. There is still something about a houseful of little people that is very satisfying, if not exhausting.
There were toys scattered from one end of the house to the other (the sweet child with the pink shirt is a dumper...) from eight o'clock in the morning until mid-afternoon, but we just stepped over and around them. Play food and dishes, Beanie Babies, Fisher-Price people, and books came out to play.
We fed breakfasts, lunches, and one supper. We didn't bother trying to spell names with crackers today, it was enough to search the cupboards for lunch items. Macaroni and cheese, sliced apples, and peanut butter crackers filled the bill.
A few children took naps today, but not all of them. Hannah, who was supposed to babysit tonight, had her plans changed when one small girl's tummy decided to be uncooperative. Cleaning up a yucky mess is no one's favorite job, but if I think of it as another "Babysitter Test" it somehow becomes a little more tolerable.
I just can't think of anything to write about this week, at least nothing I want to share...
Okay, so now I am really late in posting, but now I have a word and photo for the letter J. We fed the kids Scrabble Cheezits for lunch today. J is for "Joshua" and it would have been for "Jakie" too, except that we couldn't find a second J. We changed Jakie's name to Scotty for lunch and he didn't even mind a bit.
We had six kids and all but one were my grand- children. I think we did pretty good spelling names with crackers even if we did have to stretch the truth a little. (Hannah called Jake "Scotty" before he was born so it was kind of truthful.)
I am a work in the hands of the Master Potter. I pray that His fingerprints are all over me as I walk through this life. This is my journey. Thank you, Jesus, for not giving up on me.
I am mom to seven, Grammy to six beautiful grandchildren, and tender of a shrinking "flower garden."