Another birthday!! Bless you, ErinLee!!

My ErinLee, elder daughter by 363 days turned 26 today!  I texted her at 12:05 a.m., PDT, her time, which, and yes, I was up, was 2:05 a.m., here in Wisconsin.  I was working and reminiscing about the birth of my first child, 26 years ago.  She was so tiny, just 5lb, 13 oz, at birth and  5 lb, 8 oz, when we left the hospital. It was absolutely love beyond compare.  Who knew?  Y’all who are mothers reading this would know, but I was rocked by the depth of emotion.

I knew she was going to be Erin Lee – she changed the spelling and I like it, but I knew way before she was born.  In fact, I embroidered her name in gold floss on the Christmas stocking I started in the summer.  I also sewed her first Christmas dress, red velvet and white satin, again, before she was born and those were the days before we had whatever the test is that tells the baby’s sex, unless you had a difficult pregnancy, which I did not.  My doctor kept telling me there was a 50/50 chance and you should have seen his face when I showed him her Christmas stocking.  I knew.

She’s a joy, talented, funny, beautiful and I’ve always been amazed at how she sees the world, through artist’s eyes, so unlike myself.  I began this post hours ago, thinking about my child,  took a break for  a special lunch with my 11 yr-old niece, Reno; we called ErinLee.  Then ErinLee called me and we had a wonderful hour-long visit; now I’m back to choosing some photos to insert here along with the birthday song.  So my darlin’ daughter, and yes, she does speak French, réalisez vos rêves.

Quintessential ErinLee playing in the leaves!

ErinLee and MummaLee at Bagley Rapids 10.09

City Kid ErinLee at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago '09

Joyeux anniversaire!!!         Je t’aime, votre, maman!

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I’m so cold you should put on a sweater

Memories…  My girls and I have been talking about memories, fun things, funny sayings.  The title of this post is an example of a line that makes us smile.  I’m known for always being cold, well before any surgeries or health challenges – I’m just cold-blooded.  The girls would say with eyes rolling, “Mom’s cold, we have to put on a sweater.”  That’s a favorite.

The other day I saw a saying about dancing in the rain.  Reminded me of my girls.  In a text to  ErinLee, I shared the line and reminisced about how she loved to play in the rain.  She reminded me of the time she went  into the backyard to play in the rain in her underwear and accidentally locked herself out.  Big smile at that memory 🙂

There are so many.  Last year at this time I was posting a Countdown, counting down the days until I was in warmer climes with my Meghan for Christmas.   This year I haven’t been counting down until today, when Meghan reminded me that it’s only five days till we’re together.  Five crazy busy days during which I’ll clean my house – another whole set of memories from my own childhood, carried  into my children’s  lives and  into the present day.  Thanks, Mom –  a story in itself.  I will take two final exams, and as promised back in August, finish the dreaded algebra.  Not to mention laundry, packing, paperwork, banking,  a Merry Christmas hug for my favorite Auntie Arlene before I go, so many things to finish.

It won’t be long now.  Temperature here in the North Woods is heading toward a wind chill of 20 below tonight. So as I get back to the business of finishing a semester and  preparing to be away for a couple weeks, I’m telling you, I’m so cold, y’all get those sweaters on, you hear?

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… But Keep the Old …

According to one Web site I found, the title words, which I’m sure many of you know, are supposed to be part of a traditional Girl Scout song.  Other sites described it as a children’s song and I sang it as a child in music class as a round.

The theme being on my mind as I prepare to meet  for four days with old friends, many going back 40 years, one of them over 40 years and one, yes, we were babies together 54 years ago.

This is a group that knows one another well – shared jokes, stories, heartbreak and triumph.  Four days of good company, good food, good friends, a shared history and new memories being made.  Catching up on children, grandchildren, parents, etc, lots of stories will be told and much laughter shared.  As I’ve said repeatedly, history is important.  It tells us from whence we came and tradition is the glue that binds us together

So I’m off – fishing gear ready, a fabulous salsa and chips to contribute, and cannot forget the camera 🙂  I’ll be back with another year of memories to cherish.   Au revoir!!

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Smiling at this Lenten Memory

Who knew when deciding to embark on the next 30 days to leaving the Shoulds and an Illegitimate Ruler behind that it would coincide beautifully with Lent?  Well, Someone knew and ya gotta love how these things work out 🙂  So my Lenten journey it will be.

I’ve never been one to “give something up for Lent.”  Why?  Because I was raised in a traditional Protestant denomination and we didn’t do that.  As an adult I did, however, observe Lent in some way.  The one that sticks out  in my mind ALWAYS was the year I decided to switch to a Lent focus for our breakfast devotional time, more than a decade ago.

Those were still the days of getting children out the door to school each morning.  They were growing up, though, not little girls any more – both freshman that year (longer story) – two different schools, different start times, one requiring me to drive  12+ miles one way.   But we continued breakfast together every day – cereal, oatmeal, french toast, whatever, served on the breakfast counter with juice and supplements and a quick devotional to send us all out the out the door wrapped in peace and love against a cruel world.

The year in question I chose to switch to a Lent focus by reading portions of one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado.  Max has great books for everything but my favorites for Lent are  Six Hours One Friday, No Wonder They Call Him Savior, He Still Moves Stones, Applause of Heaven.  My thought was to use a small portion of one of the books each morning, but that was not so well received.  One of my daughters began to protest about the extra time it would take, and we all know time in the morning can be at a premium.    One thing led to another and in short order our morning sharing time was not so pretty.  I was hanging on to my right as the mother to insist.  My daughter was hanging on to her position as a young teenage girl.  So sparks began to fly, with the other daughter caught in the crossfire.  So much for sending my children out into the cruel world wrapped in peace and love each morning.

My good friend, Marlee, veteran Bible study partner and (at that time) mom of teenage daughters a few years ahead of mine, was a great resource.  So I went to her with my dilemma and lo and behold, the advice was not what I was anticipating.  She was supposed to tell me that I was absolutely right in my right to insist and that I should stand firm.  Didn’t happen.  What I got was the advice that perhaps the time had come to release my daughter’s relationship with the Lord to my daughter and the Lord.  What??  I’m her mother!!  It’s not time yet and I’ll decide!!  Think maybe I had challenges with the “Shoulds” way back then 🙂

I had to do something and gave sincere thought to Marlee’s suggestion, took it in prayer, and went to separate breakfast times and back to the original plan of a brief teen-centric devotion and less strain in the morning.  I don’t remember how long we continued the routine of devotion in the morning, but I believe through most of high school.  One of those rites of passage, but a treasured memory in this mother’s heart.  AND I just took a moment from writing this post and called Marlee.  We had a brief conversation, chuckled together at the memories and made arrangements to get together soon.  And Lent 2009 begins in a few days….

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Gaining Ground

I’m still playing catch-up from the weekend misfortunes, but at least I’m playing.  I definitely had an attitude challenge going and thankfully,  have moved through it.  My house is almost normal, though my ears are tuned to the on/off cycles of the furnace and I”m less than completely unpacked.  But my truck is running and I was able to get groceries and sand from the pile kept by the city for ice emergencies such as we had.  Hard to imagine that clearing away ice is a topic of local news, but it is.  I heard that cities nearby are going to begin sending out workers to chop/scrape ice from the sidewalks and homeowners will be charged $80 for the service.  That’s winter where I live.

I don’t have sidewalks.  I have a fairly long driveway that empties into a circle around which the house, garage, shed, barn, etc, are grouped, a fairly large area to attack with traditional methods like sidewalk salt and/or sand and a manual ice chipper.  So I mixed salt into the 32-gallon trash barrel full of sand and spread it strategically, hoping that a slight rise in temperature would facilitate some melting.  The weatherman said it wouldn’t happen today, but how often is the guy right?  Today, of course, when I have to make sure that my students and their parents can get in and out of the driveway and the house safely.

Being a generally positive positive person and no longer dwelling in self-pity, I looked for the humor.   Today that was visualizing myself trying to carry a bucket of salt/sand from back steps to garage – remember it’s an out-building -while utilizing ski poles to stay upright – how many hands did I say I have?  But at least the ski poles were handy, already out on the back porch as part of seasonal decor and they did, indeed, aid in keeping me on my feet and a brown salt/sand path now runs from the house to the garage making safe passage  more likely.

As for getting the truck started, thanks to the wood stove out in the garage and numerous trips to stoke it with kindling and all the paper I’ve been meaning to burn, bundled and booted against negative wind chills,  I produced enough heat to thaw the lines of the truck and on one of those trips to stoke the fire I decided to just give it another try.  Singing like a child at the top of my lungs – another reason to live in the country fairly far removed from neighbors – “I am trusting Thee to guide me, Thou alone shalt lead, every day and hour supplying all my need,”   I turned the key in the ignition and, voilà, the truck started.

To quote my father once again, “There you have it.”  When feeling sad, defeated, low, I resort to music and prayer, sometimes together via old favorite hymns, or playing my piano.   Try it, sing like no one can hear you, unless you have a beautiful voice – then sing so everyone can.

And remember, you cannot – it’s not physically possible – you cannot be singing  praises out loud and dwelling in despair in your mind.    The brain doesn’t work that way – we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

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Countdown 9 Days, part two

So the last time we were together, the three of us, was eight months ago – EIGHT MONTHS!  There was a time that I didn’t go eight HOURS without hugging them and now it’s eight months and will be more since we shared a group – all three of us – hug.   I do not allow myself to dwell on that because I don’t believe in wallowing in the “depths of despair,” those emotional danger zones that really are not productive or good for one’s emotional health.  I have a photo on my computer desktop -one without me in it, just the girls – so I see those faces all day long and it warms my heart.  We speak on the phone often, sometimes daily and we e-mail back and forth.  We’ve moved onto a new level of relationship, one with me as a mother of adult children.  Though referred to by friends and family as “the girls” they are girls by gender, but at 23 and 24, most definitely young women.  And I am so proud of the young women they’ve become.

Sometimes they need advice – just this week, “Talk to me, mother, while I pick out a vacuum cleaner.  Which one do you think I should get?”  A new experience for me – shopping via cell phones a thousand miles apart.  Then a crate for the new dog, “he’s about up to my knee, maybe as long as ….”  That was definitely a new experience.  Can’t wait to meet the new dog and see how he fits in the crate – nine days to go 🙂

Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us that there is a time for everything, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.  In the five years since coming to the Homestead, I’ve wept, laughed, mourned and danced.  Now, I believe, I’m coming into my time – my time on the Lord’s timeline  – not day-in-day-out mom responsible for a household, family, etc., but time to give back, time to share, time to mentor, time to utilize the gifts with which I’ve been blessed.  And I would say it is my time to dance.  Adieu….

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COUNTDOWN 9 Days part one

Countdown to …?  I’m counting down till I get on a plane and fly to a warmer climate for Christmas and  nine days of holiday.  That would be exciting any time, but most special now because I’m spending my holiday with one of my daughters.  It’s a gift from the girls together, very precious to me, yet bittersweet as this is the first Christmas in my 24 years as a mother that I will not be with BOTH of my daughters for Christmas.

This is about change, about letting go, about growing up and growing older, ideally growing wiser.  It’s about accepting life as it is, expressed so beautifully in The Serenity Prayer, about putting those we love into the loving arms of Jesus and leaving them there; it’s about trust – the opposite of worry.    It’s about what is today called the Empty Nest Syndrome – I wonder if my grandmother, raising her ten children here at Her Father’s Homestead thought about an empty nest?  I’m reasonably certain she wouldn’t have identified it as a “syndrome” of any sort, but part of the the circle of life, if anything.

last time we were together

The three of us together on my birthday eight months ago

There’s a lot of food for thought or food for writing in that brief paragraph above and we’ll be delving into those subjects as we count down the days.  For today, look at a favorite photo or two, remember the happy time and smile a thankful prayer for the memories.  Are we not uniquely  and wonderfully created?                                       à plus tard …….

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SNOW DAY!!!!

There was a time when the words Snow Day brought a great deal of excitement.  An unexpected gift, a free day, no school, put on your snow-pants – remember those? – and head outside to make snow angels, a snowman or just play in the snow.  Funny how things change as we get older …..

When my children were in school, Snow Day took on a different meaning – more of a Now What? kind of meaning.  Now I was encouraging my girls to get out and play or ice-skate in the backyard, then come in to a roaring fire and hot chocolate.  Dry the wet clothes, shovel off the deck and front sidewalk, haul in the wood and build the fire, make that hot chocolate, a bit more work than being the kid.

These days the meaning is a bit different.  Out in the country, on my own, no ice rink in the back yard right now,(though that will change as the Homestead project evolves), while undoubtedly beautiful, getting this much snow means a fair amount of work.  The mere process of getting dressed to head out there takes several minutes.  Then there’s the inevitable mess – wet boots and wet dogs need to be cleaned up after, puddles on the floor, scarves and coat snow-covered and dripping from getting hit with the snow you’re trying to blow away.

And today’s point?  There could be several, but I’ll go back to the concept of “perception is reality,” talked about in a previous post.  My perception tonight is much different than it was at noon when I had an hour to move enough snow for a student to get in the door.  When I was out just a little while ago with my dogs everything is white and beautiful.  My perception at this point in  life is much different than when I was a child in snow-pants.  The group I facilitate, Celebrate Recovery, uses a song called White as Snow (words and music by Leon Olguin), and it’s a wonderful song.  My perception these days being much different than when I was young, I so appreciate the idea that through a relationship with Jesus, I’m made white as snow – despite anything in the past, all the mistakes, all the errors in judgment, you name it, I’ve been made white as snow and you know what?  It’s BEAUTIFUL and it can happen for you, too!   Till next time ….

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