Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Letting Go

My dad's hands are cold, the skin blotching pink and white, and I want to take them in mine and rub them until the color comes back and the cold leaves.  His thin legs look like they need to be gently stretched and take a short walk.  I'd like to give him a cold chocolate shake to sip on and moisten his dry mouth.  His eyelids are heavy - I'm sure he just needs a nice afternoon nap.  The skin on his feet is stretched thin and dry, crying out for a little foot rub with smooth lotion.  There are thing that beg to be done - I need to get on them and go.

I'm his daughter, a caregiver, a mother.  It's my job to soothe and set right and heal and nurture.  But now, as I sit by his bedside, all I can do is listen to his raspy breathing.  He's not long for this world and there isn't anything I can do to change that.  I have to let go.

I let go of my role as caregiver.  I let go of my role as chief information-gatherer.  I let go of my role as worrier supreme.  I let go of the reins I've struggled with for so long, and hand them over to God. Hand Dad over, hand my heart over.  It's hard, but I'm learning to let go. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day

We started the day by whipping up seven servings of breakfast, three Valentine boxes, nearly 100 valentines, and an emergency trip to the orthodontist to fix a broken bracket.  After the last kids straggled out the door, I took a deep breath, then a nap.  But wait, there was no time for a nap!

I scurried up to the high school in time to find Eddie before he went into his next class.  Or rather, he found me.  He saw the car through the window and came out to see what was going on.  I opened the door and asked him if he wanted to play hooky for the day.  His face lit up and he jumped in the car.  I wanted to take him out to lunch for his birthday, but the next couple of weeks will be so crazy.  This day was the closest we could get to his actual birthday, but a surprise day off school is fun anytime, isn't it?

We went home so he could have second breakfast. Then we packed up a few Valentine's Day things for our older kids and set off to do deliveries.  A bouquet of carnations and a bottle of sparkling apple cider for our first boy and his wife; a matching bunch of carnations for the next boy and his fiancee, another carnation taped to the apartment door of the third boy.  The carnations are our little Valentine's Day tradition, started by their dad over 25 years ago.  That was the how I first started falling in love with him.

After that was done, we hit the bookstore for a good browse and difficult selection.  We want all the books!  We had time for lunch in the food court before heading back to school for a calculus test.  He had the test, not me.  That's the stuff of my nightmares!

It was a busy, full day, filled with family and love.  Oh, and sugar.  But that's not a happy part of the day, so we son't go into that!  And that's how Valentine's Day should be.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Flu Deodorant - a New Recipe

We all got the flu a few weeks ago.  Thankfully, I have a family full of strong, robust children (and husband), and they are all doing much better. Some of them didn't even get sick.  Some were only sick for two or three days.  And then, me.  Still sick.  I have this nasty cough and I'm still so, so tired.

I got up this morning at the usual way-too-early-in-my-opinion hour, had a nice discussion over breakfast with my high school boys, snuggled my elementary boys, helped the girl brush her hair, and got them all off to school on time.  I'm trying to do all the mom stuff, but it just wears me out.  So I went back to bed.  And I stayed there.

A couple of hours later, my phone decided to go bananas with texts (Trent's dad had surgery this morning, and his family is great to keep each other posted).  But I was stubborn and wanted to stay in bed.  I was still tired!  So I stayed and stayed, read Facebook, scrolled Instagram, got caught up on the news, perused a few favorite blogs...

And finally, when I felt like the laziest human being that wasn't walking the earth and doing productive things, I got up.  I should get dressed, but I'm out of deodorant and I can't possibly pull on a shirt that will get stinky.  So I stayed in my house dress and wandered into the kitchen for breakfast.  I think it was past noon.  I had a nice bowl of granola and bananas because my nice husband made a batch of granola and I found the jar.  I picked out all the rock-hard raisins and sat down in the sunshiny spot at the table.  Felt nice to go so slowly.

I got my phone and looked up natural deodorant recipes while I chewed.  I can't use the store-bought ones because I'm too sensitive to all the chemicals they put in them.  Fortunately, deodorant is one of the simplest recipes ever, so even I can make it.  One little batch lasts me for months, and keeps me smelling like a daisy.  Except that I'm not sure off the top of my head what exactly a daisy smells like.

I got out the coconut oil, the non-organic corn starch, and the baking soda.  See, I told you it was an easy recipe!  I use this one from Wellness Mama.   I'm getting going on this day, I tell ya.  And then I proceeded to carefully spoon that good powdery stuff into my bowl of granola.

Maybe I should go back to bed after all.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wanted: a Better Narrator

When I was a little girl, I read a lot.  I mean, A LOT.  I read every book in my parent's library - multiple times.  I read the "A" encyclopedia dozens of times - because that was the only volume we had.  I practically lived in the school library.  My grandmother was an elementary school teacher and I remember spending many hot, sticky summer days in her cool basement, reading books from her bookshelves.  Maybe that's I walked around with a narrator.

My narrator lived in my head, and gave me a play-by-play of everything going on.  When I walked through the kitchen, the narrator explained that "she glided effortlessly across the cool linoleum, her eyes flitting around the sunbeams slanting in through the southern window."  It made life a lot more interesting to have a narrator, I'll tell you that.

My narrator also told me that one day, when I was walking around singing, a talent scout would hear me, marvel at my pure, clear voice, and make me a star.  I don't remember that actually happening, though I imagined it many times.  Maybe my narrator was better at telling stories than predicting the future.

As I think about picking up my writing here, I wonder what happened to my narrator.  She's gone.  Maybe my life is interesting enough?  No, I doubt it.  Maybe I just don't listen to her, or maybe I haven't listened for so long that she doesn't bother saying anything anymore.

I think I'd better find her, or get myself a new one.  I need that spark of imagination as I go through my days.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

I Missed This!

The kids were giving me a hard time about the pictures in our living room.  Specifically, our family pictures.  We have a larger picture of the whole family, surrounded by smaller individual pictures.  What?  They are the faces of the people I love most in the world!  I see no problem with them.  But Mom, they protested, the pictures are more than 5 years old.

They are?  I looked at them again, harder this time.  Yes, the twins were adorably chubby in their toddlerhood.  There were cute little boy faces of David and Eddie grinning at me.  Those two boys have lost their round cheeks and are in high school now.  The pictures were taken in our backyard - two houses ago.  It was a different time for our family, when they all lived at home and things seemed to move a trifle slower.

Maybe I'm a little bit nostalgic for that time when I made dinner for ten people every night.  I liked having them all home, with me.  It's easy to forget the hard parts and just remember the happy smiles that hang on my living room wall.  I know I should get some new, more current pictures.  I just don't want to forget these ones.

I realized that I remember the happy parts of those times because I wrote about them.  I don't have to write about all the parts, but whatever I do write is what I remember.  And not writing for the past few years has meant that I'm not remembering.  Big swaths of our lives have happened, ended, and are now being forgotten.  That makes me sad.  Especially now that they are growing up and leaving home at a frighteningly fast speed, I want to hang on to the happy things a little bit tighter.  I need to fill my mother-heart with all the good of today, and be able to remember it tomorrow.

And so I'll start writing again.  My family is worth it.  Our memories are worth it.  All the good we can add to the world by just pointing it out is worth it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June Tidbits

I've found a whole-foods friendly treat that makes my mouth hop-up-and-down happy: fried or grilled pineapple!  Don't need any oil, just slap some fresh pineapple slices in a hot non-stick pan and wait until the edges are brown and toasty and caramelized.  Don't burn your tongue but you will want to because it's horrible having to wait until they cool off enough to eat safely.

Georgie and I were talking about one of his little friends who lives nearby.  They have a multi-racial family (white parents with kids in various shades of black and brown) and are some of the nicest people you'd ever meet.  I mentioned that the kids were all adopted, and Georgie turned to me with dinner-plate eyes.  "What??  How can you tell??"

Freddie and Georgie have taken to wrestling.  Or maybe it's ninja mixed with parkour.  And a little bit of hip hop dancing with vocal sound effects.  It often ends in one or the other getting hurt, and sometimes both.  I have been trying to teach them to be more aware of when it stops being play and starts getting hurtful.  The other day, they were doing karate-type moves in my room, kicking their legs out at each other in all odd angles.  Georgie suddenly stopped and demanded, "Fred!  Are we having fun?"  Without missing a single awkward kick, Freddie responded, "Um... probably."

David got a construction job for the summer.  He literally digs ditches.  And other spots where big machinery is too bulky.  He is getting tan (very appealing farmer's tan) and strong.  And he makes double minimum wage!  For a seventeen-year-old, that is better than fast food any day.  We'll see how he likes it when the weather gets blazing hot.

Eddie has been working for $25 a day at a local cub scout camp.  It's not an awful lot of money, but a fifteen-year old has a hard time finding a regular job, so it's a good thing.  He is in charge of "aeronautics" so they fold and fly paper airplanes.  I think we have about seven hundred and thirty paper airplanes in various states of abandoned around out house right now.  Many of them are in a cardboard box in the kitchen that we call the airport.  We trip over it daily.

We got the end-of-the-year report cards, and all the children did very well.  The only less-than-super grade was one of Angel's.  It was in the "can find the main point" section.  Er... that's true.  To her, ALL the details are important, and she has to tell me about EVERY little bit of things.  Sometimes it takes her longer to tell me about a happening than it took to actually transpire.  She is the sweetest little chatterbox you ever did see, though.  That she can even talk is one of my biggest blessings after her fall and brain injury.  I am grateful for her.

With Alec married, and Ben and Chris both away at college, I feel like our home is nearly empty.  Someone asked me the other day, "How many kids do you have at home now?"  I mournfully responded, "Only five."  Only five!  How ridiculous that must sound to most people!  But there is a little spot in my heart where each of my children go, and I love seeing them and  hearing what they have been up to.  "Only five" does come with a smaller food bill, though...

Hope your summer is going well and delightful!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Hope of America Award

Today my body is demanding a rest day,  and I am happy to oblige.  This afternoon,  I'll be doing finances on the computer (wrapped up in two warm blankets and snuggled into the couch), but I spent much of the morning binge-reading some of my favorite blogs. I haven't done it for a while,  so there's a lot of catch-up to do.  Darn. 

http://www.nieniedialogues.com/2017/05/ollie-hope-of-america.html As I read about how proud one mother was of her 6th grade son because he was awarded the Hope of America Award, something warmed in the back of my brain. I got that award, too - when I was an awkward 6th grader.

I've always wondered why. I even wanted to contact my elementary school principal and ask him why, out of all the other much more talented and smart and cute and self-assured girls in the sixth grade, why did he pick me?  

The last few years of elementary school were rough. I had one or two friends at most. I was growing and gangly-tall, felt so different from all the other kids, and bounced a ball by myself at lunch recess, softly singing "Only the Lonely Can Play."  I wasn't good at socializing, I was pretty bad at jumping rope, and I hated dodge ball.  In the classroom, I alternated between cocky-smart and burying my head in my arms on my desk and hoping no one would see me.  What on earth did Mr. Nichols see in that little girl?

I looked it up. I found out the award is given under the direction of the Kiwanis Club to one girl and boy in each elementary school.  Usually they are chosen for their academic work,  good citizenship, and leadership. Another article cited the children's "positive influence on others" as a criteria. 

My beloved elementary school principal passed away a few years ago,  so I'll never be able to ask him my questions. I still wonder.  But for today, I can still work on being a positive influence on others. I can make my own little corner of the world a better place.  If we all did that, there would be plenty of hope for America.