Saturday, April 29, 2006
Variety is the Spice of Life!

About a year ago I, for some reason, tried to start a blog. No idea where I heard about it, why it interested me. Who the heck remembers what they did, or why they did it a year ago?! When your kids are young you're forgetful because you're so sleep deprived. When you're older you forget just because... Anyway, my effort to blog didn't work too slick and I set it aside. Two weeks ago our pastor announced our church website had a blogsite on it. I went in and left a post telling him when we got home my husband asked me "what's blog?" Our church blog is newsy. My daughter, Sarah has been mentioning a sweet friend of hers who has a blogsite, and I took a look at it. I found myself going in daily, seeing what Leslie at 'Haply Thinking' was up to. She's in the middle of a big move across the world and I could really relate to that. Her blog is truly delightful to follow.

Looking around Haply Thinking, I saw a list of other blogs to check out. One was my daughter's name - Sarah. So I clicked on it. She'd never mentioned it to me (we mention most things to each other on a daily basis!) so I assumed it was NOT her. I clicked on the bloglink and read a post by this 'Sarah'. One comment, "Thank the Lord" rang like a bell. I've heard her say it how many times, and knew it had to be her. I found myself fascinated to see that she'd been writing this blog for several weeks. She'd written a deep post on her blog, In The Midst of It, on Ragamuffin Gospel; a writing that showed we'd paid for a college degree for her! She'd also written a number of posts about her life as a very pregnant mother of two little boys. I was just amazed that she'd been doing this for weeks without a word said. And she's very funny! THIS truly surprised me. Maybe it's just her life that is so funny? Or maybe she just needs a day away from motherhood?

So I posted a comment to 'In the Midst of It', and got the response "who ratted me out?" Apparently she was doing this low-key. I tried again to start my own blog. It keeps a promise I made to my mother to spend some time writing this year. So she jumped in. My mom is quite the writer, and has a sometimes hysterical / sometimes very deep view of life. When she gets the hang of it, Philippians 4 is bound to be a daily treat. All of this intrigued my over-achieving sister, Barb. She's now A Chelsea Morning, and her blog will be full of her experiences with her 6 month old grandson and her little dog. I just found out today her husband is not to be outdone; he's starting his own blog, Curmudgeon's Corner! Curmudgeon (which I had to look up in the dictionary and I'm a generally good speller) means a surly, ill-mannered, bad-tempered person; cantankerous fellow. I don't have his web address yet, but when I do, I plan to go there daily - sounds like it will be hysterical to follow the musings of a "surly, ill-mannered, bad-tempered person, a cantankerous fellow"! How can anyone miss seeing how much fun blogging is?

Variety is truly the spice of life; since we can't just kill each other, we might as well enjoy the ride!

Note: daughter, Sarah and Grayson on left (In the Midst of It); sister, Barb (A Chelsea morning) on right.


  posted at 10:59 PM

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Third Time's A Special Charm

Our oldest daughter, Sarah is having her third child sometime in May. The first two children are near-perfect little boys, but boys they are. Caiden is almost 5 and Grayson is not quite 2. Sarah, In the Midst Of It, has already paid the plumber a hefty bill to remove lincoln logs from the toilet, ditto to leggos from the vacuum cleaner (twice), she's memorized the name of every dinosaur who ever walked the planet. She's discussed the rule of "no reptiles ever!" She's explained - boys wrestle - girls don't. She's already bought enough jeans and tennis shoes to outfit a team of some sort. She's seeing the need to explain that certain bodily functions are not dinner-discussion appropriate, nor entertainment for visiting uncles, even if said uncles think certain bodily functions are hysterical. Especially done in unison. She's bought tool sets, trucks, cars, fire engines, and Easter baskets that look like basketballs.

What she hasn't done is buy much pink. We found out on Christmas day that this baby, this final baby, is a girl. We saw her 3-D ultrasound so we truly saw her. Her cheeks and her little closed eyes. We declared January "Pink Month." Every other day in January I sent her something pink - pink gum, pink hair bows, pink tights, pink blankets, pink bonnets, pink earrings and bracelet. I literally went on pink shopping trips. All in my efforts to convince her this baby was indeed special. Because it's a girl.

Fearing a third baby would have nothing special about it in the eyes of our family, Sarah has chosen to keep the name top-secret. Only a few chosen ones know. I'm not one of them. I, who gave birth to Sarah. I've decided that's a compliment - it's obviously important for her to feel I find this baby very special. I've chosen to feel special by being left out!

Caiden and I talk on the phone at least once a week; this week when we spoke I asked him, "So, what are you doing today?" He very innocently said, "Baby ........" then I heard a blood-curdling scream. "Noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" He was instantly removed from the phone, and the secret was safe. I really just thought Grayson was somewhere in the house, doing something awful, being a boy.

Not only are we thrilled for all a little girl will bring to the mix of grandchildren, it will clean out the basement. Who on earth ever decided to call it "empty-nest" when kids move out was clueless. The kids move, the nest stays full. Full of scrapbooks, old toys, books, uniforms, graduation gowns, wedding gowns. With two grandsons I've long ago mailed the baby blankets, booties, onesies that are left from Sarah's babyhood. I've even given Caiden and Grayson some of Sarah's younger brother's toys, in an effort to clear out. I've mailed the special books, piggy banks, etc. What's still around are 50 barbies and their500 outfits, cheerleader outfits, prom dresses with shoes to match, old jewelry that once meant she was "grown up", love notes, yearbooks, and a wedding gown. Now that we have a girl on the way, I'm ready to buy boxes and call UPS! Watch out - Barbies comin' to ya!

It's likely, when we do find out the name of this little girl, we'll think it's strange, then someday wonder how she could have ever been named anything else. No doubt we will think she's truly special. Not because of her name. Not because she's a girl. Just because. By the way, if you happen to know my daughter personally, and she's confided in you this baby's name, I'm willing to pay big-time to find out what the name is. Post a comment and where to mail the check!


  posted at 3:48 PM

Monday, April 24, 2006
Remember to Celebrate

Today, April 23, is the 2nd anniversary of the death of my oldest brother, Jerry. Two years ago, late into the night the phone rang. My father spoke - "Jerry committed suicide." Not, "Jerry died." Suicide is a different thing. Very different I suspect. It's been a full two years, ups and downs, prescriptions, journaling, long emails back and forth with my mother and sister. I wouldn't want to go through parts of these past two years again, but I am thankful for the journey and where it's taken me. Thankful for what I've learned.

Mostly Ive been struck by how quickly the time has gone by. Struck by the fact that life goes on. No matter how difficult the events that parade through our lives, life goes on.

My brother told us he feared homelessness was the next step for him, and he just could not face that. Living became too difficult. His choice to leave this life made our lives difficult, healing difficult. Each of my family members has chosen to deal with losing him in their own way, at their own pace.

We've had two babies born since then, a brother has gotten his electrical license, a niece has graduated from college, a son married, two more babies are about to be born, another college graduation is around the corner, a family member has been brave enough to go into rehab for alcohol and is fighting her battle.

I want losing my brother to make a permanent difference in my life. So I've deliberately made some changes: I drive mostly in the slow lane. There is rarely a hurry, and I'm more patient with the impatient drivers. I treasure my friendships so much more. I phone my father more, email my sister and mother almost daily. I talk to my kids whenever they call. I make sure I talk to our four year old grandson at least once a week, about whatever he wants to talk about. I notice sunrises, take the dog out on the deck to look at the stars almost every single night before I go to bed. I truly stop and smell the flowers on the trail I walk, stop in at the local coffeehouse more often. I send checks to several local charities, besides our church, which maybe won't have eternal significance but will keep a puppy fed and warm, and research a few horrible diseases. I give every single time I hear the Salvation Army bell ringer. I send a check to our local homeless shelter. I throw my change in the McDonalds House bin. I get more sleep, eat more ice cream. I sing aloud in the car and sometimes raise my hands listening to praise music in the car. (People sometimes wave back!)

I spend a bit more money just for fun, buy a few more trendy outfits, plant more flowers in our yard, kiss my husband every single night when he comes home, and I take more time to listen to his day. I eat bacon. I say no to more things that I dont really want to do, and spend less time with people who are "drainers" rather than "chargers". I read more fiction. I enjoy shopping more and give more gifts. I've started meeting with a woman who lost her mother to suicide about a year ago. (A listening ear is often the best gift we can give someone.) I've become more spontaneous (my friends are surprised by this and comment on it!)

When I see my brother Jerry's photo come up on my computer slide show I'm always struck by the waste of his life. That he gave up after getting too tired to fight the battle anymore. He will never see the soft pink and yellow sunrise in the eastern sky that I see almost every morning when I go out to get the paper. He won't see that the azaleas are just about to open. He won't enjoy walking a dog, letting him take the time to smell the 99 other dogs who walked there before him. He won't enjoy hearing his friends gut-laugh.

I can't go back and do the things I wish I'd done; have the conversations I wish we'd had. But I can honor his life by enjoying the one I have been given. That's how I've decided to honor April 23. I will remember to celebrate.


  posted at 1:00 AM

Sunday, April 23, 2006
A closer hug goodbye
My husband, Don is visiting his 93 year old mother at her asst. living facility in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Talking on the phone tonight, he recounted the day's events. He's able to stay in one of the upstairs apts when he visits her to make spending time together easier. Today consisted of mundane things - breakfast at her regular table in the dining room, back to her apt to read the paper; a short nap for her. Lunch in the dining room again. Another nap. Later in the day his only brother, who lives in the area, came over for a visit. They spent time chatting, then moved on to more serious topics - living wills, finances, possible visits with grandchildren she hasnt seen in a long time. (This conversation was initiated by her, and makes us wonder if she is aware of time slipping through her fingers. Is she sensing it's time for these conversations?) Another short nap. Dinner in the same dining room, then the two of them went back to her apt. for one last visit squeezed into the day.

He told me that at the end of the evening (8 pm), when she was worn out from these mundane activities, she hugged him goodnight. He said she hugged him more closely, and for longer and there was a different look in her eyes. He said she was very sad (she's always sad as their visit draws to an end), moreso than usual. Looking in her eyes, he could see this different look and it made him sad also. Moreso than usual.

I, on the other hand, spent the weekend with girlfriends celebrating a 50th birthday. We giggled, laughed, ate fattening food, and crammed as much as possible into our 30 hour get-away. One of my girlfriends was looking for her reading glasses, which had been misplaced. She shared with us remembering when her mother-in-law was alive and would often look for her reading glasses. My friend remembered impatience with her, how much time was spent looking for the glasses, and now that she's at that stage in life she wishes she could go back and apologize for the impatience that was never verbally expressed, but felt none-the-less.

My husband sharing "saying goodnight" to his mother reminded me of so many visits, years ago, to Colorado. We'd load the 3 kids up in the minivan and drive 1000 miles each way to spend 8-10 days with his older parents. At the end of the visit I'd be more than ready to get back in the car and drive home. I'd dread him having to tell his mother goodbye - seeing the sadness in her face was difficult and made me feel guilty for being anxious to get back to our life across the country.

Now our 3 grown children and grandchildren live 1200 miles away from us, and we see them every few months at best. As each visit begin to draw to a close I find myself dreading the last day; having to say goodbye to them again. Hugging them closely. Tonight, hearing my husband tell me about "a closer hug goodbye" and a different look, I wish I could apologize to my mother-in-law for impatience that was never verbally expressed, but felt none-the-less.


  posted at 11:50 PM

Priceless friends

I've just returned from my first true "Girlfriend Get-away" weekend. My closest friends and I took Robin away overnight to a friend's mountain condo. Robin thought we were going to a special place for a Saturday afternoon extended lunch to celebrate her upcoming 50th birthday. Most of the rest of the group has already experienced this milestone. Robin had a surprise baby at age 39 so unlike the rest of the group her nest still has one in it who has yet to fly away. She has expressed to most of us how hard it is to see our lives at this stage when she's still in the middle of raising children. (Dont we often cling to what we have now, but also strain after what's just ahead? We so easily forget we can't grab the next thing unless we release our grip on what's in our hand now. Once released, we can't have back what was in our hand either.)

The five of us spent weeks planning all the details - how to cover for her while she was gone, line up a sub for Sunday School, get her asthma inhaler and contact solution; order a birthday cake, line up girl movies, enough makeup to make her presentable, buy new pjs to celebrate the weekend, fun lingerie to take home to her husband to make up for her weekend away, etc. Saturday morning we were finally off, a car full of giddy girls in older women's bodies. An hour into our drive Robin realized we'd "missed" the turnoff for the restaurant. Such fun to see the look on her face when she realized she'd been kidnapped for the weekend. Nancy, the last of our group of 6, was ready for us at her condo in the "mountains" of Pennsylvania.

We spent only 30 hours away, but managed to fit in 3 movies, ate the entire birthday cake, plus all the snacks we'd picked up from the Dollar Store (you know that wasnt health food!). Late into the night we sat in the hottub under the stars, enjoying this sharing of lives. I'm the only grandmother of the group (4 ahead so far!), one is a single mom recovering from a difficult divorce, most of us have grown children graduating from college this year, and Robin who has children out of college, in college, and a 10 year old.

We stayed up late into the night, piled up in bunk beds, talking in the dark as if we were all in our teens. Waking up this morning nobody even got up to deal with morning dailies, but rather started right in on fun/deep/serious/hysterical conversation that only 6 women can have. Breakfast was provided by the most domestic in our group (the single mom!). As we sat down to share the meal, Robin quickly volunteered to pray. To sit at this table, all of us with bed hair and bags under our eyes, and hear Robin's voice break over her thankfulness for God's gift of GOOD friends was a gift to us all.

I sat and looked at this group of women - each of us with challenges, hurts, joys, concerns, weight issues, financial strains. Our differences faded this weekend, and we celebrated the sameness of our lives - and the fact that God had put us together - women who will be friends for life. I found myself praying God would provide friends like these for my daughters and daughter-in-law. Priceless friends who will be there to laugh, cry, share, and support the daily journey.


  posted at 9:27 PM

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    About Me

    Girl Raised in the South

    I have a deep, abiding love for full octane coffee, sewing, knitting, quilting, reading, cooking, gardening, God and my family - not in that order.

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