Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Brother

We visited Tim today, Rachel and I. He has a new wheelchair that he seems to like, but we walked him out to the car, each of us holding one of his hands. I brought my camera along, just to torment him a little. Ha ha!

It was a nice day for a ride.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Loud Crying

It's time to go to sleep, but first a blog post...

It's been a good week full of small children and snuggles. School is finally out and schedules at the daycare are in flux. Late this morning after I delivered lunch to our preschool classroom, I heard loud wailing. Since I had several minutes of downtime, I decided to investigate.

Most of the three year old children sat at the table awaiting lunch, but one small child sat on the floor crying loudly. I sat down next to him and pulled him onto my lap. He did not resist, but continued to howl. I simply sat and held him. I can't remember if I rocked or said anything. He never tried to get away, he just cried until he was done. When the noise stopped I asked if he was hungry. He nodded his little blond head, so I helped him up, told him I loved him, and he found his place at the table with his friends.

Sometimes a little person just needs time and permission to cry it out and know he is still loved. Even big people need moments like that.

(Old photos of the grandkids. Good crying pictures. Poor, Number Six. LOL)

Monday, June 24, 2019

That Weekend

It was a different kind of weekend. Saturday morning began with a quick trip to Target. Hannah, Number Nine, and me. We had a baby shower to attend at 11 am and hadn't yet purchased gifts. (She's apparently a "Last Minute Martha" like her mother...) We combined our gifts into one bag, popped the child back into the car, and made it to the shower with time to spare.

After the baby shower I made a trip to Lowes and bought some sealer, a big paintbrush, and a brush and scraper. Once I googled how to get the metal seal off the can, I set to work brushing the sealer on. Number Nine helped. Sealing the picnic table was easy. No rotted wood or old paint to deal with. When the table and benches were finished, I went out back to tackle the first woodshed. (There are two-ish.) I scraped and scrubbed loose paint. Number Nine helped. I found him a little brush too. What a dirty job! I was grateful only the south side needed prepping.

On Sunday after church I went back to Lowes. This time in search of some barn red paint. I found the perfect shade, had it mixed up, and headed for home. Since the paint had just been mixed at the store, I got right to work. The woodshed is looking spiffy. I only tipped the paint can over once, and I only dripped a few spots on my feet. After all the painting I was whooped, so I took a nap before going for a walk with my sister Rachel.

Oh, and I sealed the deck too.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Dwoup Hugs and Power Struggles

Once upon a time, scattered throughout my day, were so many little things to write about and remember. There were random photographs of children, flowers, and animals. Now, most days, my camera stays home in my bedroom waiting for a special outing, but my eyes, ears, and heart still take in so much more than I am able to capture in written words or fleeting photos.

Yesterday morning I bent down to hug a couple of my four and five year old friends and was suddenly enveloped in what one small child termed "a dwoup hug." So many of these little ones are starving for attention. I only wish I had the time and permission to lavish upon them what they so desperately crave. I want to fill my own home with hungry little people, go for long walks, read books, and hold them in my arms until they are satisfied and ask to get down. Maybe one day...

The four and five year olds are not the only ones to clamor about my legs looking for love. I was also ambushed by a throng of three year olds, a tribe of twos, and several toddlers. Our babies, most of them, also look for a smiling face and a pair of willing arms. My sweet friend "Swearin' Maren" just wants to know I love her, Mylah Bean looks for snuggles, and little Adam beams when I look his way, smile, and say his name. They are a special bunch.

I thought the stress level at the daycare would diminish after our audits were over and in the past, but the wife owner is tightening the reins on any small freedoms we might have.She is reaching into our kitchens (the other center and ours) to make sure everything we serve is identical. Not just the same general meal, but exactly the same. No more using Rotini to make "curly lasagna," it has to be regular lasagna noodles, not served in bowls, but cut into squares and served on a plate. I now have a list of ingredients to be used in my meatloaf (I have never put oats into meatloaf in my life...), and the sunflower butter sandwiches shall no longer be served with jelly. I am beginning to wonder whether or not she cares if these small children actually eat. :0(

I could look for a different job closer to home, but the fact that my little friends look for me keeps me going back. Besides, I am comfortable with my coworkers and I love my boss. She holds things together the best she can and takes the brunt of the "beatings" bequeathed by the Powers That Be. It's not at all a miserable place. I still love my job, but I just might have to buy my own Rotini and sneak it in the back door...

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Simply Complicated

I didn't sleep much Tuesday night. The Naughties have a new home and I was worried their new owner would let them out too soon. My mind is was so full of stressors that it had to pick one to dwell on, so it picked my cats. Last night I couldn't stand it anymore and asked my favorite daughter in law to check on them for me. She made a phone call and then sent me a text. "He said they are doing well. Going out and then coming back for attention. He gave them flea meds and they are eating and drinking just fine and are happy." I am relieved but I still miss them.

After my mostly sleepless night Tuesday, I realized while at work yesterday morning, that I have a multitude of things to throw me off kilter. Simply realizing was helpful. An untimely death, an inability to be with family in their grief, Father's Day, the sale of the house, our son's birthday, our anniversary, finality,... and then the cats. Not being able to sleep shouldn't have been surprising. Once I recognized the pile-up, I understood why I was feeling overwhelmed with worry over the cats. It really wasn't just them, but the entire package.

I slept much better last night, and I also had a call from the faraway Cabinetmaker. I hadn't heard from him in almost a week and sometimes that can be hard too. It's a simply complicated life I live.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I Went Home

I left work at 5 pm this afternoon. As I walked down the parking lot to my car, I considered my options... Go back to the pottery studio where I'd been last night and found the wheels all occupied by a class, or go home. After very little deliberation I went home.

I hadn't been home long when my son Joe sent me a text. He was looking for a paper I'd signed and had notarized for him this afternoon. He decided to ride over on his bike. We ate honeydew melon on the back porch with Number Nine, and finally decided to make a couple grilled cheese sandwiches. He made his way out the door before the sun dropped too low in the sky and while riding a bicycle was still relatively safe. I was grateful for his visit.

My heart is hurting. I will be okay, just admitting that there is pain to be dealt with. So many unanswered questions and uncertainties. The other day someone reminded me that my kids are watching to see how I handle this situation. I find it curious how we so often think we have the answers to other people's problems, until we are the one in the storm. I am learning that life often comes without obvious answers. Through it all God is good. Where would we be without Him?

 Whatever will I do with all these little figures I've collected?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Rocks and Hard Places

For a long time now I've found myself in the spot they call "between a rock and a hard place." It's an agonizing place to be. Life has produced situations I'd rather not face, but escaping is not possible. The only choice I have is to walk through the trial and pray that He is with me, with us, because He is our only hope no matter what the future holds.

Our beautiful farm has been sold. Our things have been moved out, divided between here and wherever. Everything is gone except The Naughties, who were nowhere to be found when they were supposed to be moved yesterday. Even a can of tuna fish couldn't coax them out of hiding. I'm kind of hoping they get to stay there. I have nightmares of them trying to get back home and ... well, not making it, and that makes me really sad because I love those silly cats.

Nothing much has really changed, it's just official. My days aren't going to suddenly look different. I'll still be getting up early, going to work, and coming home to my little attic room at night. I am healing deep inside, but I still desperately need the hand of God leading and guiding me and I find reading scripture hard. Very hard. Even so I know He hasn't left my side. He hasn't left either one of us, and He loves our kids more than either one of us could ever imagine.

God is in the business of healing and sometimes He uses "rocks and hard places" to get us where He wants us to be. When there is nowhere to turn, the only thing to do is "Look Up" and when I do, He is always there looking back at me.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Barn Collective

I'm a tad late, but it's still Sunday so I'm jumping into the game with a few pictures I took on our outing yesterday. We were hungry by the time we left the pottery festival in East Avon, so on our way across the road I asked the police officer directing traffic where to find Tom Wahl's. He said it was just down the road. We passed some cool barns along the way, so I had my camera ready on the way back. I had to pull over a few times.

A painted quilt on white. It's a massive barn with some great trees. Route 5&20 in Avon.

Just down the road a few hundred feet is a barn with a great silo. I'd have missed it altogether had it not caught my eye when I was driving the opposite direction.

Is that a terrific, vine-covered silo or what? I love the vines, and I love the conical roof as well. You don't see many quite like that. I think it is very cool.

And finally, slightly obscured by the trees, is an old barn struggling for each breath. Full of holes, exposed to the elements, yet standing bravely.

There doesn't appear to be much holding the old girl together... I wonder where her barn boards have gone? Are they lost in the weeds? Or are they displayed in a craft sale somewhere on Etsy? Who knows?

It's cold out there today. I hope Tom has put the coffee on.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Bits and Pieces

* It's late, it's raining, and I should be sound asleep. But I am not.

* Today was a busy day. A nine am. appointment, a drive to Avon with my sister... we went to the pottery festival... a walk about the Shoppes on the Ridge, and a stop at Nate and Sabrina's place to see the baby. After I dropped Rachel off at home, I stopped in Old Navy to see if Hannah was working, and then ran in Wegmans to find a card for my Texas family. So hard to decide when nothing feels or sounds adequate.

* I got an official looking letter in the mail and have mixed emotions. Life is continually changing and we adjust as we go. I am still adjusting.

* Tomorrow is Father's Day. I have no plans other than going to church. I'll probably spend more time than usual thinking about my dad. There won't be a picnic. The Cabinetmaker is somewhere in the southwest. Maybe Albuquerque.

* On Thursday evening I had the rare privilege of a face to face visit with my friend Heather who was in town for a few minutes. I am seriously considering a weekend trip to New Jersey in the not too distant future. Maybe sometime this summer.

* I booked a flight to Minnesota in September. I've been invited to a wedding. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

He is Faithful Still

Be still, for God is still... faithful.

In times of intense loss it can be almost impossible to believe that God is faithful... and yet He is. I have searched my blog for the past several days, looking for that photograph of my daughter Bethany and her cousin Jonathan washing dishes in our kitchen sink. At the time he'd never done dishes by hand. We joked that she was teaching him, but inside I know washing dishes by hand isn't really all that difficult. Still, it is a fun memory.

The Cabinetmaker left for Texas today. He didn't make it in time for the service, but he will get there. I asked him last night to take his sister a hug from me. Today I sent her a text, but it isn't the same as being there to literally wrap my arms around her. Or them.  Not being there is hard.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Still (Part 2)

Be still, for He is still... God. 

The women's conference... It turned out to be great. And today I found myself missing the women I spent my time with. Brenda is a longtime friend, Carol is a longtime, but distant, acquaintance, and Nicole used to sit behind us at Calvary Webster, but I don't think we ever really talked, and here I am missing them. We rode down together, shared a dorm room, sat together at meals, and talked late into the night on Friday. We connected, and now it seems strange to be apart.

I'm healing a little at a time deep on the inside. I'm learning to be me, without feeling strange doing it. It's different and interesting feeling comfortable in my own skin. I'd been afraid someone at the conference would shake that feeling away, but I didn't find that to be true. I didn't come away unchallenged, but I didn't come unglued either. God always knows exactly what I need and when I need it. He's kind of cool that way.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Joy and Sorrow

Yesterday morning the world was blessed by the arrival of our newest grandson, Logan Andrew. He weighed a whopping five pounds and made a quick entry. ... or is that exit? Either way it took all of two pushes and there he was. Of course I was in Pennsylvania then. Today I went to meet the little guy who is having a little trouble regulating his glucose levels. He was wrapped up like a bean burrito and looking like a china doll. Oh, so tiny!

Last evening we received the devastating news of our Texas nephew's sudden passing. Life is far too short already, and to lose someone so young and full of life only makes the loss all the more excruciating. Prayers for his family are much appreciated. Tonight I wish all the more that Texas was not so very far away...

The Barn Collective

I traveled with friends this weekend through the beautiful countryside of central NY down Route 81 and into Pennsylvania. We were on a Mission to reach Clarks Summit, PA. We did not have (or take time) to dawdle along the way.

We passed multiple farms with picturesque barns, but my camera was tucked safely in my suitcase and inaccessible. (It wouldn't have mattered if it had been in my lap.) No, I wasn't ready with the camera, but my eyes were open, at least a portion of the time. (In all honesty, they were closed most of the way home.) As we drove along a barn not 100 feet from the highway caught my attention. I mentally logged its location. (Preble, NY)

Thank you Google Maps for bringing us these images.

The Barn Collective

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Still (Part One)

I am home again. I spent the last few days on a women's retreat in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. The weather was fantastic, the food abundant, and the fellowship sweet. God showed up in incredible ways and He is awesome.

I went to the retreat somewhat reluctantly, and with hidden fears and trepidation. It's not exactly unfamiliar territory, this stepping into a large gathering of Christian women, but recent life events are altering my perspective on an assorted variety of viewpoints. It was this shift vantage points and what I have known to be taught in the past that left me feeling insecure and uncertain, but God had already paved the way because it is just like Him to have a plan and put it in motion.

There were tears and there were tender touches. I came home full and blessed. God has proven once again, although He need not, that He is good.

And guess what?! Number Twelve made his sneaky arrival just this morning. We've got an even dozen!

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

A Hundred Years From Now

Within My Power 
by Dr. Forest E. Witcraft 
 "A hundred years from now
 it will not matter what my bank account was, 
the sort of house I lived in, 
or the kind of car I drove. 
But the world may be different, 
because I was important in the life of a child."

Permit me, for a moment, to change this little excerpt from Mr. Witcraft with some words of my own...

A hundred years from now
It will not matter if the table was perfectly set,
with a spoon, fork, and knife for everyone,
or if the bread was served from a plate,
or the milk was 1 % or whole.
But the world may be different,
because I was important in the life of a child.

I don't know why we let ourselves be controlled like this, or even whether it is the state or the owner who is driving us all nuts, but I can not wait until this crazy kitchen audit is over and the pressure subsides. I'm feeding 40-50 kids out of a kitchen meant for a family of six. I don't know how in the world they think I can keep up. Maybe if I had a 20 minute cycle commercial dishwasher I could at least keep up with all the dishes this craziness generates.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Looking For Communion

Trying to do the right thing, even with little nudges and bits of encouragement from On High, is incredibly difficult. It's no wonder those with deep, dark, family secrets sweep them into a neat pile and hide them under a rug or in forgotten corner of a dark closet.

I know there are people who know me well and love me deeply, but those closest to me, the ones who know the secrets, are also hurting. They aren't the ones who can get me through this time, even though I desperately want to lean on them for support. Maybe they think I am okay because I've always been okay, except I haven't... It's just that I used to have their presence to keep me going.

The walls of the abyss are steep. I'm not at the bottom, but there are days when the top feels very far away and impossible to reach. At work I long for a carefree, outside with a friend kind of day, but on the weekends I find myself needing the love and attention of the little ones who ask for hugs, grab onto my legs, and inquire about lunch. Once those were my own little people, but today my own feel entirely out of reach. I have to be okay with them being grown up and having lives of their own, but I am still missing them.

I should have waited another five or ten minutes to come home from church. By then the car in the driveway would have been gone, and I wouldn't have had to see them going out again, just as I was coming in. I don't fault them, we're just on different schedules. Perhaps God has it designed that way for a reason... actually, I know He does, I just haven't figured out why.

Somewhere in my town, or close to it, is another grieving mom looking for a friend to spend a weekend with. She could even be one of my longtime friends, and we just haven't reconnected yet. The Cabinet Maker is lonely too. I know that. I honestly don't mind spending time with him, but we both need to feel emotionally safe when we do.

One day I'll have crossed this valley to the other side. Then I'll be grateful for the pain of the journey and the growth that comes with it. I know will be okay, even though there are moments in the valley when I doubt that truth. In a dark moment last night, this picture showed up on my Facebook newsfeed. A little reminder from the Father who loves me (and a friend who also struggles).

Saturday, June 01, 2019

The Barn Collective

An old, apple farm, barn collection. I kind of wonder if the cinder block structures ever had board walls... or maybe they were late additions to the farm... It's a beautiful little piece of property. Just imagine a few children running through the grass, a dog or two barking, and Mom out on the ride on mower trying to help Dad keep up with the place. Maybe there could be a flock of chickens running about with a nasty rooster to chase strangers... or Mom when she goes to let them out of the coop for the day... Maybe there's an old tractor tire swing out back and a couple of Naughty cats lazing about.. and on long, holiday weekends plenty of parking for friends and family come for a barbecue in the yard... Yeah. That sounds good.

The Barn Collective

Hunks and Chunks

* The abscess under my arm looked hideous yesterday. Red, swollen, and sore. I knew I should see a doctor, but didn't dare chance the worthless cost share to cover the expenses. Last night my sweet daughter Bethany offered to try and help with some essential oils, which she slathered on the soles of my feet, and a spoonful of colloidal silver. Already weepy, the abscess leaked on my shirt all through the night and, though still ugly, actually looked better this morning. A little after noon I made a visit to Urgent Care, on my new insurance, and was prescribed two different antibiotics (to be on the safe side), while they culture the infection. And I should see my doctor next week... maybe.

* The doctor... I already said my past health coverage was garbage. I've already gotten a bill for the x-rays of my back, and now I have a notice from the cost share that they did not cover one of my previous doctor visits. Go figure, it's the one they approved. I may need to call them on this. I should have cancelled in the end of April and I'd have had May's payment to send the doctor if and when I get the bill. Ugh.

* I don't know what is going on between the Cabinet Maker and me. I thought we were friends when we went to Dave's at the Apple Blossom Festival a few weeks ago... Not sure what happened after that. I've tried to do everything in my control to remain friends. I'm not seething in anger, wishing terrible things, or conniving ways to make life difficult for him. There is not another man in my life and I am not running from the issues at hand. This is a boundary crossing, not a matter of forgiveness. I'm not trying to be selfish, in fact I'm trying very hard not to be. I have paperwork to be notarized, one for him to sign and a passel for me, but he and I can't seem to get where we need to be at the same time. I get that this is impossibly difficult, it is for me too. I just want to get beyond it and establish a new normal.

* The garage is still full of things to be sorted. I was already overwhelmed when I went out there late this afternoon and found myself crying, "Lord, I can't do this alone!" I almost closed the garage door and walked away, but I turned around and decided to take a few pieces of furniture and a couple of boxes up into the garage attic. It's at least a step toward clearing some space and every step forward brings me a little closer to the goal.