Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday, Friday!

There are days at work when I rush to keep up with all that needs to be done. Today was not one of those days. Today I was ahead of the game and actually ran out of things to do well before lunch time. If it hadn't been Friday, I might have baked a banana bread. (Oh wait! I did that on Wednesday.)

After my nap, I mean lunch break, I was sent to the older toddler class. I helped a few little ones with shoes and socks and then headed outside with five little ones, one crying because she wanted me to carry her. (Ah, Sophia! I do love you!) We met another toddler teacher and five more little people out on the playground where most of mine ran off for the swings. One small child stayed behind, preferring to sit on my lap as she was not feeling well. (It was not Sophia...)

We herded wayward children back toward the group, plucked one off the picnic table repeatedly, and admonished them to "share," "wait your turn," and "be nice." Several took turns sitting on my knees and telling me stories. They are used to me bringing their meals and passing out hugs, but I rarely get to spend a significant amount of time looking after them anymore. Last summer a number of them were in our baby room and I took them for a walk every day...

The toddlers ate their banana bread snack outside and we eventually headed back in so another group could use the playground. They washed their hands, used the potty, and sat down for a cup of cool water. One of the teachers had a bottle of Pepsi on the counter and as she took a drink, our little friend Carissa looked up at her and said, "Are you drinking a beer?" Ha ha! Oh, I miss those little people!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sweet Honesty...

For as long as I can remember, it has been terribly difficult for me to be completely honest with others when I think my honesty will hurt them. The truth is, dishonesty always hurts someone. Sometimes that someone is the other person, but very often it is me.

I've cultivated the habit of smoothing things over, steadying the boat, and trying not to make waves. I've justified it by calling it kindness, peace keeping, or even self-sacrifice. Perhaps in truth, I sought to make myself look better by "rescuing" others with lies and half truths. It was never done maliciously, but it was still done, and it was done to soothe my own discomfort. If I am to look deep inside for my own "defects of character," this is what I find.

Mom used to write out the little acronym for Joy as "Jesus first, Others next, Yourself last." I took it to heart, but didn't understand that failing to look out for myself and take care of Martha would result in not being able to give the best of myself to anyone. Scripture admonishes us to"love others as you love yourself," implying not that we neglect to care for ourselves, but that we realize we are not more important than our neighbors. We are all created equal and equally loved by our Creator.

I failed to "guard my heart" (another scripture admonition) and ended up with deep wounds and lasting scars, but then again, Jesus has wounds and scars too. Wounds and scars are teachers. They are tender and tough, physical and spiritual. Visible reminders of lessons learned on this journey through life. I recently said, "Complete and total forgiveness comes hard." I was speaking of forgiving others, particularly those who have wounded me or those I love deeply, but it applies to forgiving myself too. If I continue to live in regret over past decisions, then I haven't granted myself true forgiveness, even though Jesus has...

The sun is shining a little brighter every day. The trees are farther apart than they were in the dark forest, and the path more visible. I might not know what is over the next hill or around the next bend, but I know I'm not alone. It's a beautiful journey, even on a dark day. I might not be there yet, but forgiveness is coming.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

You Can't Make Old Friends

Tommy- Tommy was our neighbor and lived kitty-corner behind our house. We made friends through the board fence that separated our back yards. I think we were three. I remember talking to him through the fence and he was allowed to climb over, or crawl under and join me on my swing set. One day Tommy and his family moved away. I never saw him again and all I have of this memory are a few slide pictures.

Al- Summer of 1969. I was five years old when Al's family moved in down the street. Since I was allowed to ride my tricycle on the side of the quiet neighborhood street, I went out to meet these new friends. Al and I would spend many days that summer "baking" mud pies (To this day he claims they were the best ever!) We picked flowers, and rode tricycles in his back yard. When September came, my new friend and I shared a bus stop and a kindergarten class, while our mothers shared coffee and conversation. After second grade he moved away to Canada before returning two years later. He says we're still best friends.

Joey- I was eight years old and out walking the family dog when I met a brown haired girl who asked my name. When I answered, she replied, "My brother loves you." Thus began the story of Martha and Joey. Joey and I spent the fall and winter playing outside at the playground, the edge of our woods, and walking to and from his house. On cold winter days we walked the ice of the frozen creek and wrote "Joey+Martha" in the snowy banks. In the spring we caught garter snakes, played with his little sister., and then he moved away too. I missed him terribly.

One day a letter without a return address arrived in the mail. My mother searched out an address from one of the neighbors and a long distance relationship began. I was nine and he was eight and a half. There were letters ( a few), and an occasional phone call, for the next eight years. I saw him twice during our family vacation south in October of 1978. He played football for his high school and I was smitten once again. Ah, childhood sweethearts/teenage love... (I have no photos of us together, just a last winter's picture of the creek we walked as third graders.)

Chip- It was the summer of 1979 when I met Al's cousin Chip. Someone new and exciting in the neighborhood for the summer. We played Hide and Go Seek in the corn field, Frisbee in the street, and rode double on my bike all the way to the village. My parents would eventually become his legal guardians and by early 1981, I was pregnant with our first child. We were seventeen. In June we were married and soon after moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico with the help of his older sister. By December we were back in NY state with our 2 1/2  month old son. In January the long awaited but dreaded letter from Joey arrived. (Did I say they were few and far between?) I wrote back knowing I would never hear from him again. I grieved the loss for years, but the relationship had always been more dreams and fantasy rather than reality Eventually I tucked all those dreams into a little orange box along with his letters, and covered it with a white top with a puppy dog glued on top, and left it in my childhood. Chip went back to his given name of James and we went on to build a life together, including our seven beautiful children, and ten (soon to be eleven) grandchildren.

It's been a good life with hard moments. I'm thankful that God is still here guiding me, teaching me, holding my hand, and carrying me when I can't go on. He is good and He knows all.

Good Grief!

Grieving is good when it brings healing, but prolonged grief only brings prolonged pain.

Most days I am okay, good even, but there are moments when grief sneaks up and overwhelms me. The hardest part is grieving alone, never really knowing how to process the pain and knowing that my own pain brings pain to those I love. It's a pain that I know needs release, but is often bottled up and tightly capped.

In my heart of hearts I know there is One who understands my every pain and sorrow. He has carried me through life, been my Provider and Sustainer, and one day He will carry me through to the other side where there is no more pain and every tear is wiped away by His gentle hands.

It's been a dreary day, dark and rainy. I got out of work early with no plan for how to spend my extra time. I probably need a plan for those times.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Church in the Tent

It was a unique kind of summer. A major reconstruction project at church made it necessary to relocate Sunday meetings, so half of the congregations met in the gym, while the remainder gathered under a big tent in the church courtyard. It was a little like a circus, but not really.

The first Sunday was May 20. We were told to take out our phones and snap a picture, and so here I am with my sister Rachel back in May. First Sunday in the tent and it looks like we're wearing our jean jackets. It must have been a little chilly that morning. 

Yesterday was the nineteenth and final Sunday in the tent. Once again we took out our cell phones to record the momentous occasion. We're wearing our jean jackets again but this time I've got a sweatshirt underneath as well. (It was freezing at the 9 am service!) I like the second picture. It looks like Church in the Tent was good to me.

We're moving back inside this coming Sunday morning. It's time, but I'm going to miss Church in the Tent. It was good.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Barn Collective

A muddled menagerie...

Last one standing

Corrugated Community

For Sale

The weather's changing. Soon the Master Painter will yield his golden brush and our world will glow with autumn's splendor.

Come visit Tom's Barn Collective.

Friday, September 21, 2018

An Early Morning

There are a lot of folks out there who get up at 5 am every day, but I don't. My alarm goes off (the first time) at 6:03 am. I typically push the snooze button a few times and roll out of bed at 6:18 am. Yes, I do this on a regular basis. This morning though, I got up when the alarm went off at 5:02 am.

I reached for the light, turned the switch and found myself in total darkness. I got up and tried the lamp on the dresser. It was still dark. I peered into the dark downstairs, wondered how I would manage a shower in utter blackness (the bathroom doesn't even have a window) and checked my memory for where in the world I might have left a candle. Then I remembered seeing a bit of light in the dark downstairs. I looked again, and yes! The nightlight in the laundry room was glowing. I must have hit the master switch to the upstairs on my way to or from the bathroom in the middle of the night. I was relieved to know the bathroom would be well lit. I was also relieved that my alarm clock runs on a battery. I got to work early. No, I mean like ten minutes before I had to be there, and then I almost punched in late.

Rather than start y day passing out breakfast, my morning chores included welcoming our littlest ones. Just "The Triplets" this morning. They arrived one at a time. First R., then P, and finally D. They aren't really triplets and they aren't related at all, but they are very close in age and development. We played, I changed diapers, and they all had breakfast. When the 9 am baby teacher arrived I headed for the kitchen and cooked up some hamburger pie. When the lunch dishes were washed and the kitchen was clean, I got to go home. But I went to visit my friend Deb first.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

More Bits and Pieces

* The week is flying by.

*  My people went on vacation this week. Packed up their little guy and a bunch of camping supplies and headed off to the Adirondack Mountains. They celebrated their third wedding anniversary on Tuesday. Can't believe it! I stayed home alone, but I haven't had time to be lonely. Ive been too tired. Ha ha!

* I'm going in to work an hour early tomorrow. I've already reset my alarm so I don't forget. And yes, it is turned on. (I just checked.) If all goes according to plan, I'll get out an hour early too. We'll see how that goes...

* I'm slowly amassing a collection of potential Christmas gifts. Clearance sales are pretty nifty. And addicting. I need to round out my purchases before the gift-buying season hits full force. Maybe some stuff for preteen boys...

* It feels like fall today.

* I still haven't taken any vacation days this year. I'm not sure whether to save them and use the money toward my roof loan, or to use them up.

* I'm still learning and growing every day. It doesn't always feel like it, but I am just the same.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Sometimes I have a bit of time to sit at work.It is at those times that I grab a piece of paper and some kind of writing utensil. Friday's sit with our three year old class during rest time produced this drawing. I think I connected with my dad in a whole new way. Ha ha! I was thinking about him as I drew and it shows in the result.

September gives and takes. Change is in the air, and there is very often an element that feels bittersweet. Sweet and sad, fresh and fragile... September has brought life, and whisked life away. It brings bright sunshine, blue skies, and a new spark of energy, and also the warning of the winter to come.  Half summer, half autumn, totally beautiful.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Bits and Pieces

* Sorting. Today I was sorting. Sort of. It feels more like I was packing and moving, but what I moved will need to be sorted through again later. I only moved it from one house to another. He says he can't keep up with the house physically or financially, so he's fixing it up to sell...  I'm feeling numb today.

* I saw a few grandchildren and played "Stick People Wars" with the eldest. I lost. He obliterated every guy I drew.

* Kids ask questions I don't have the answers for... "Why don't you want to live here with Grandpa anymore?"  I can't even answer adults, much less children who love and adore their grandfather. I told him it was a long and complicated story. He's nine and confused. I'm confused sometimes and I know why. He'd never understand that there are moments when I desperately want to go home or that boundary issues create terribly complex problems. I don't have a good way to answer him. No way to tell him the truth without inflicting wounds. Instead he will continue to misunderstand my reasons. I pray one day he will trust I didn't do this maliciously or with ill intent.

*My attic bedroom, which was totally upended while we did the roof project and enlarged the back dormer, is slowly getting back to normal. My bed has been returned to its previous location, my dresser put back in its spot, and the wooden crates that hold and display my treasures have been hauled back out of the storage side of the attic.

*I hear funny things at work. Sometimes it is the children talking, and sometimes it's the teachers talking to the children. I laughed out loud in the kitchen on Friday but can't for the life of me remember what the teacher said to the little one. I remember who the child was, but that's about it. I'm going to need to write these things down.

* The weekend is half over. It was a productive day and that is good. Tomorrow my sister and I will go visit our brother. Maybe we will stop along the way for an ice cream. I want one with sprinkles. Please.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Clothesline Art Festival

Saturday was busy. It wasn't until I sat down a few hours into the afternoon that a Facebook post reminded me of the Clothesline Art Festival in the city of Rochester.It wasn't written specifically to me, but it could have been.

"I’m in Rochester, NY today at the Memorial Art Gallery Clothesline Festival . Booth number 634, 10am- 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Stop by and say hello!"

I'd been just down the bock an hour or two earlier and now my daughter's kindergarten BFF was letting Facebook know she was in town with her pottery...

We didn't make it back to Rochester on Saturday, but we did find our way up there on Sunday afternoon. It was a good outing for the two of us. We meandered through the Memorial Art Gallery grounds and checked out the booths as we made our way toward Hannah's.

Childhood friendships leave such sweet memories. I am blessed once again to watch this daughter reconnect with this special long ago friend. Of course, we each took home a bit of pottery, "for a kindergarten discount". Bethany bought a lidded dish, to keep her butter in, and I chose a little ring dish. I'm starting my collection slowly.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Car Keys Gone AWOL

It was one of those mornings where I seemed to be doing all the usual things, but the clock was ticking faster than normal. I finally hurried out the door with my bags and breakfast only to find my car doors locked and my car key AWOL...

I used the code to open the garage door since the house was locked and the garage was my only way back inside. "My keys must be in my jacket pocket," I thought. I unfolded the stairs to my attic bedroom, climbed up, and looked around for my jacket. It wasn't there. I'd left it on the hook at the bottom of the stairs. Down I went. I folded the steps up again, put my jacket on, and reached into the pocket. My keys weren't there.

I turned a circle or two, checked all my pockets again, and racked my brain. My jeans! I'd changed my jeans! I unfolded the steps once again, climbed up, and found yesterday's trousers. There was the key. Down the steps I went, folding them up as I reached the bottom, and headed out the door to  my waiting bags, breakfast, and still locked car.

I left home later than ever before, drove a tad faster than usual, and arrived at work with a minute to spare because our time clock runs slow. I think it's to keep us from clocking out too soon at the end of the day.

And then... my little friend Parker deposited a portion of his Neocate filled stomach (he has allergies) onto my fresh clean shirt. I was plastered. Ha ha! But I still love him.

(I have no pictures of cars, keys, stairs, or work babies, so you get a few more pictures from my dance through the sunflowers.)

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Overcast, But Sunny Just the Same

Today was full but fun.

* I met with the therapist this morning. I always leave thinking. That is good.

* Met my friend Laura for breakfast. It was relaxing. We ate bacon, eggs, and toast with homemade raspberry jam.

* I decided to visit the local sunflower field even though I think $7 is too much for a wagon ride and the opportunity to take pictures. Cutting one's own flowers was extra. Pshh. (I secretly loved wandering about with my camera.

* Checked the shelves at the pottery studio for some of my finished (and unfinished) work. Had a woman ask, "Are you Martha?" and thought I might be in for a repeat of Friday morning... but she said she often picks up my work thinking it's her own until she reads my name on the bottom which looks very similar to her own handwriting.

* Stopped at Schutt's Apple Mill to grab a few fried cakes before the local population gets in a fried cake frenzy.

* Went grocery shopping with the lovely Bethany. It was very nice to be out with her. I miss hanging out with my kids.

* Back home I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, washed my bedroom floor, folded my clean laundry, and played with sunflower photos.

It was a good day.

Friday, September 07, 2018

I'll Meet You for Coffee

I slept terrible last night. There is a plethora of possible causes, but I'm not precisely sure which one was the root. Maybe my tangled up covers and achy back. At any rate, I slept little and stumbled out of bed thinking this might be a day when I actually needed a cup of coffee. I left home a little earlier than usual, early enough to stop along the way. I opted for the Dunkin Donuts closest to work. There was a long line of cars snaking all the way around the building. I mistakenly thought running inside might be faster than waiting in the drive-thru line...

The line inside was relatively short, but the people inside were ordering multiple boxes of Munchkins and fancy sandwiches. There were three people ahead of me. Behind me was a gentleman, and behind him a woman. The woman suddenly leaned forward and reached toward me. "I want to introduce myself," she said. "I'm Marcia. I know your daughter in law Leta..." My mind did a little spinning, "and I read your blog." (This has happened before. Once. About six and a half years ago.)

Marcia and I had a quick conversation. She seemed very nice and I'm glad she reached out to me. I was telling my favorite daughter in law about it this evening when she randomly stopped over to pick up an item my son had left here on Saturday. "It was appointed!" Leta said with a smile, and she told me how much she likes Marcia and how she thought we'd get along great. I asked her what Marcia's last name was but she didn't know. "She's in my phone as Marcia the Nanny," she told me. (Marcia nannies at a house that Leta cleans.)

I'm pretty sure I was well behaved while waiting in line at Dunkin, even though I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get to order my "medium coffee, half decaf, with cream and sugar", but I left wondering how many other people see me out in public and recognize me from my blog. It's kind of funny and a little intimidating all at the same time. Ha ha! And just now I'm wondering if I said please and thank you when I placed my order...

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Loving Me

Is it possible to love and see oneself as God sees? Could I ever become so childlike as to lose focus on my flaws and foibles? Our babies don't worry about such things as chunky thighs and double chins. They aren't embarrassed at crying in public or food on their shirts. They don't look in the mirror and think, "Ugh, I need to lose a few pounds!" They don't find fault with bulging backsides, bald noggins, or toothless grins... But us (me)? I look in the mirror and see all the imperfections that others rarely notice. I see the crooked smile, the pudgy nose, and puffy eyes. I cringe at the protruding belly and varicose veins... and I forget that God looks down and see me as His beloved child. He loves me right where I am, just how I am. Lord, help me to love me too.

It's been a long few years of growing. I can say that I am more comfortable in my own skin than I have been in a very long time. I see the imperfections, but they don't consume my thoughts. I'm learning to take better care of myself, to cut myself some slack, and realize that I am who God created me to be. I'm not perfect because He creates us perfectly imperfect. And that is perfectly okay! Ha ha!

Monday, September 03, 2018

Happy Birthday, Number Eight!

Eight is three! We had a nice little birthday celebration on the eve of her third birthday. She had a Mickey Mouse cake and got some really cool presents. Her mommy found her a Unicorn Princess dress! How cool is that?

Sunday, September 02, 2018

The Barn Collective

I had my camera along today as we drove the country roads with our brother, but I wasn't very much into stopping. We'd been on our ride, bought him the customary "small, chocolate Frosty, please", and returned him to the house. We were on our way home when a train passing blocked our way. Rather than wait, we continued on, down an unfamiliar road. I think we shall have to venture this direction again to see what becomes of this old, and apparently much loved structure.

I hope Tom's got the sprinkler running today. It's hot out there!


Friday, August 31

 I had enough time to snuggle an under the weather toddler late this morning so the assistant toddler teacher could get lunch on the table for the others. That won't happen every day. I must remember to appreciate these special moments. ( I also snuggled an ailing baby this afternoon. He was the only one in the room so I let him sleep in my arms for 20 minutes before I put him in his crib.)

 Saturday, September 1

 I made a Lowes run for contractor's bags and a door knob this morning. On the way out of the store was a small child and his father. I did a double take and then called out, "Evan!" He turned around and I said to the daddy, "Is that Evan?" He said 'yes' but was looking very suspicious. (I wouldn't get very far trying to grab a four year old and running off with him... 😄) The daddy wanted to know how I knew Evan, and I said, "From daycare." So he looked at Evan and asked him if he knew me? Ha ha! The child affirmed our relationship, smiled at me, and gave me the biggest, longest hug ever! :D And then I saw them again in the store along with Mommy and big brother. (I love hugs!)
These little people fill my heart and my days. Work is good for me.

And this weekend there were grandchildren. Just a few. They fill my heart too.