Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Hodge-Podge of Answers
I'm answering a mish-mash of questions here. I'll save the last group - raising kids, that'll take a bit more gathering of thoughts. I do remember the experience - you never forget!

My daughter Sarah asked if I could be anything BESIDES a wife and mother, what would it be? I thought she meant IN ADDITION TO, but she meant INSTEAD. So my answer to her was 'no clue'. I could have said 'have lots more money', 'less stretch marks and saggy/baggy figure', 'nicer wardrobe', 'cleaner house'. No way would I trade one for the other. God is sovereign, and if He'd chosen for us to not have children, I assume He would have worked in other ways to chisel off those things about me that stunk, and given me purpose in other ways. I'm more thankful for the gift of children than any other gift He's ever given me, after salvation. Especially now that they're grown and turned out nice, but that's a different question for a different day. :-)

I told her if I got to choose IN ADDITION TO, what didn't I do that I wish I could have, I would have gotten a degree in either Literature / Writing or Art, and taught at the Jr. College level in one of those classes. I think I would have loved being Prof. Bev.

Summerjoy (no link) asked my sister, Barb and I - how do we get so much done in a day? Barb and I are very different personalities, but have the same heart for our home. She's more calm and serene, focused on one thing at a time. I run around like a chicken with her head cut off much of the time. So - #1 - I don't have children at home anymore! When I did, I got done what was necessary, but I didn't have all these hobbies, I didn't lead Bible study, I didn't repaint every room in the house over and over. I raised kids. On not enough sleep. So if you're still raising kids, wait ten years and it'll change. #2 - I'd define myself as practical, rather than perfectionist. I do what is necessary, with a bit of zest thrown in, but I'm not going to fuss over dotting every 'i' of anything. Good enough is good enough.

I've used a lot of systems, and love the one I've currently come up with - just invented it myself. Every Sunday I take 6 large index cards. Get out my calendar. Write on each card "Out and About", "Do", "Phone" and "Menu", put the date at the top, and on each card write down any appointments that day under "Out and About". Saturday and Sunday share a card since I try not to load up the weekend. Then I take the projects for the week and divide them amongst the cards, under "Do". If I'm going to be out and about much of the day, under "Menu" it's automatically a crockpot meal, or something super simple. Phone calls are divided between days when I'll be home. Every single Friday is 'paper day' at my house, bills are every other week, but anything that involves deskwork is done on Friday. The normal flow of my calendar includes MOPS every other Monday and Landon every one, Bible study on Tuesdays, quilting on Wednedays, knitting on Thursday evenings - that shakes out the week so I can see which days to add more or less to. I can slip the card in my pocket or purse when I leave home, I don't have to jot errands on another piece of paper that'll get lost. At the end of the day whatever didn't get accomplished is jotted on another day's card. I lump errands into a few times a week rather than every day, and put them in order of where they are around town. I take "white" days now and then, when I just don't schedule anything. If you are raising children, that may not be possible, but even half of a 'white day' can keep you going. I've heard, 'fail to plan and you plan to fail', so I'm big on planning.

We generally eat dinner around 8 pm, now that kids are gone. After dinner I knit or read. Lights out at 11:30 pm, and start it all over at 6:30 am. I sleep in as late as I want Saturdays and Sundays usually. You can't get a lot done without sleep. So if you're in a stage of life where that's not possible, trim down the expectations.

Mer, Life at 7000 Feet, asked what is my favorite thing about Colorado, where I moved when I was 13. When we go back, the mountains of course are wonderful, and we love seeing the whole front range out the window of the car. But hands down, the blue sky is my favorite thing. You might have a whale of a snowstorm one day, and the next will be sunny with skies that are as blue as can be. We don't get that very often here in Pennsylvania. I also love how much my husband loves Colorado - he's a native.

Michelle's Family Life asked, if we spent a day together,what would it include - a bookstore, a coffeeshop that had great pastries, and maybe a consignment or antique store. You learn a lot about someone seeing what thrills them in those types of stores. What they read, what they love. And you get to talk the whole time. I'm a pretty simple girl I think.

Beck , at Frog and Toad are Still Friends, asked what one thing she should visit in my town. I've lived here almost 13 years, a record for me. My #2 favorite place is The Farmhouse, an old house where everyone used to go to pay their utility bills, it's had many lives, and now it's a christian-owned coffee shop. Three rooms, the service is slow because each coffee is made as you order it. There's a fire going in the winter, you can get scones or they'll heat up brought-in quiche, a few books for sale, but you never feel you have to hurry there. I'm in the Farmhouse almost weekly, it's the #1 choice of my girlfriends for a place to visit. But my #1 choice - our trail. An old railroad bed that years ago some wonderful group of people worked to get it turned into a trail that is open to bikes, strollers, joggers, rollerblades, and the walkers. It actually runs for miles and miles now, connecting towns, but our part is around seven miles long, surrounded on each side by tall trees. In the spring it's fabulous to walk and see / smell the buds coming out, or early spring flowers begin to pop out. Birds building nests, and mothers with their children on bikes or in strollers, happy to get outside again. In the summer The Farmhouse (which is situated right on the trail) opens a lemonaide stand where you can grab something cold as you walk by. Kids out of school for summer, dogs fresh out of spring obedience class pulling their owners, a great place to be. Fall - the leaves begin to turn, and cover the trail, and you need to put on a sweatshirt for the more shaded part of the trail. If you walk far enough you come to the horse farm. Sometimes if you stand at the fence the young colts come up to you for a quick nuzzle. Winter - if the trail isn't covered in ice and snow you bundle up, pull on your boots, and the quiet is amazing. Walking along the trail in the winter, seeing the sky through the bare limbs, if you pass anyone you just sort of nod, not wanting to break the silence you went there to find. If the snow gets out of control, then I hear cross-country skiers or snowshoers venture out, but that's the kind of weather that keeps me on the sofa, with a book or knitting. So the trail - Beck, if you come see me, we'll take a walk on trail. Then pop into the Farmhouse for a mocha latte or chai tea. I'd absolutely love that and think you would too.

Laura, Org Junkie, what is my favorite thing / product of all time? Right up there is my Chi (flat iron) for my hair - saves me tons of time. Tivo - we couldn't watch TV without it, and I've grown to really enjoy TV in the evening with my DH. But hands down, the Internet. When we moved into the house I remember asking the man up the street, what's 'the internet' and he showed me live footage of a street corner in Germany. I'm in touch through email with my kids, my mother, my sister, friends around the country because of it. I can find anything on google, order from Ebay or Amazon at least weekly. A recipe for dinner with whatever's on hand. Someone has been diagnosed with something I'm not familiar with, what other books has an author written? I think the internet is just amazing and it has changed the way we live, for good for the most part. I also love my digital camera, my laptop, flavored creamer and the heated seats in my car.

Susan (no link) shared: "You've mentioned a few times recently that you had a brother who died. My brother died in a car accident a few months ago. How did you get through that time? I am extremely grateful for my life and family, but I also feel like a big piece of my life is missing. I would appreciate any advice you can offer as someone who has been through that." Susan, I'm sorry for your hurt, and hope my words will be of some help and comfort. I'd start by saying you feel like a big part of your life is missing because it is. My brother is the only immediate family member I've lost, I didn't know what to expect. My biggest concern at the time was for my mother. No parent should have to bury a child, and because the circumstances were so awful, I worried for her. I thought it was harder because we had to deal with not only his death, but his suicide - two almost separate events. A lot of sadness, but also anger, guilt, etc. Yet any death will have it's own unique hurts to deal with. I can only imagine that you and your family have wrestled with why God allowed the accident, what if this, what if that. I sat in on some grief sessions at our church, people there had suffered different losses. But they all hurt, and the one who had lost a child didn't seem more or less grieved than the elderly woman who had lost her husband of over 50 years. Hurt just hurts. Grief doesn't run a set path - you don't work through step 1 and move on to step 2. Sometimes you're fine, sometimes it blindsides you. Sometimes you're angry, then you move to regret, then the sense of loss, then back to anger. It's been almost four years, and sometimes I'll see someone who reminds me of him, maybe even just one facial feature. Or I'll hear a voice in a restaurant and look up, surprised it's someone else and not him. Sometimes I still think it's all a mistake and he's going to show up. He loved iron skillets and every time I make cornbread I'm sad over the loss of his life. So I don't know 'how long it takes' but obviously more than four years. I don't expect it ever becomes completely okay.

What did I do that helped? I read a fabulous book, "Surviving the Death of a Sibling, Living Through Grief When an Adult Brother or Sister Dies", by T. J. Wray. I read the daylights out of it, underlined, highlighted, and journaled as I read. It helped me work through a lot of the pain. I talked to others about him, how I felt, and gave my mother opportunities to talk also. Talking is good. It helps us process. We have a group at our church called Grief Share, it runs twice a year, and the room is always full. The woman who runs it lost a five year old boy to leukemia, so she's good at working with them. You may have something like that in your area. I'd also encourage you to allow yourself all the time you need, to feel however you feel. To feel one way today, and completely different another. Find a way to commemorate his life - whether it's making his favorite dessert on certain occasions, supporting a cause he felt strongly about, aiding someone who struggles with something he struggled with. I recognize the day he died by making a difference in the life of others who struggled with what he did. On his birthday, I try to celebrate what he loved - barbeque, dogs, the outdoors, antiques. God already knows how you feel, if you're mad or sad or not even sure how to feel. Tell him. Don't hold back, because there's healing in it. Just don't keep it inside.

And last of this batch - DJ at Chocoholic Life asked if I will blog in Texas? I would assume so. I asked the realtor when we visited Lake Palestine if they had good internet access around the lake, and he assured me he runs his realty business through his computer. I'd guess the move will put a break in there, but once the boxes and the laptop are unpacked I'll be back at it. With all new stories of the next stage of life.

Thanks for all the fun questions - for even caring to ask. I still have about 5 or 6 questions on raising kids that I'm going to somewhat lump together, and then Susie, I have not forgotten about those three recipes - have them jotted down and will do a separate post on them. I haven't posted a recipe in a coon's age!


  posted at 9:56 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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