bye old year

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In 2016 I learned my own limits.  The hard way.

My body went kind of went haywire.  It took a lot of tears and a really good doctor and months of a strict hormone and supplement regimen to get back to “normal.”

We are no longer fostering toddlers.  And I have the deepest respect for foster parents.

I am trying to “bloom where I’m planted”, so to speak, in these last few years that my kids are still home/homeschooling before college.  I can feel God transitioning me into something–teaching me much needed lessons.  I have been clinging to this notion that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.  Because the temptation is to crawl under the sheets and think that I am equipped for nothing, but that is simply not the way it goes when your boss is the creator of the universe.

Praise Him!

Praise Him for lessons! For wisdom! For His infinite mercy and love!

Always.  Praise Him.

crying kids and apples

 

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We have cool friends who just take the initiative and do stuff, and without them we would be inert.  They took us to an orchard high on a mountain in western North Carolina yesterday.  The best part was just being with our friends, but the orchard was nice too.  The thing is, and what these pictures do not convey, is the amount of people there.  I estimate a thousand.  Just swarming the orchard, baskets in hand.  Lines at the fried apple donuts section, lines inside the barn to pay for their apples, apple cider, apple pies, apple butter, apple jelly, apple everything.

The animals, who no doubt love the feed people give them from the little gumball-machine feeders, were just standing far back from the fence in the middle of their field like yeah no.

I passed a lot of moms and dads reading their small children the riot act because their wee kids wouldn’t cooperate amidst the 1000 people on this hot September day.  The ambient sound everywhere was something like, “…or so help me I will…”

I think what was going on, judging from the matchymatchy outfits on the tiny human siblings, was that they were to be props in an idyllic Fall orchard photo shoot, and they would’ve been better off taking a nap.  One lady had a kid who was trying to break free from the wagon she was supposed to be sitting in, and the person I assume was her mother was grabbing her with one arm while the wagon full of siblings was rolling down an incline, and that little girl wasn’t budging, and the mom was spitting threats at her, and the wagon was still going, and I thought maybe the mom, combined with the weight of the wagon, was going to rip that little girl’s arm off.  Other matching children squirmed as their parents shoved apples into their hands and commanded things like, “Look up at the tree! But smile! Look up at the tree and smile!”  or, “Sit still! Turn around! Quit crying! Smile!” or, “Look at that apple you’re holding!  Can you smile at the apple? You like apples, don’t you?”

But from the way a lot of those little kids were acting, I seriously doubt they’ve ever eaten an apple.

It was fascinating.

And also I got miniature honey bears, so.

wherein I blather on about our first foster placement, and stuff

P1000214They don’t like that page; it hits a little too close to home for them.

They’re pre-schoolers.  We’re forty.  We’re getting a good workout.  I have sat on the floor more in the last week than I have in the last ten years combined.  Every surface in my house is sticky, like every single surface.  There are diapers and wipes stashed in nearly every room.  I wash hands and faces all day long.  I am grateful for my Dog of the Year for licking up the food off the floors so that I don’t have to sweep.  I am grateful to my two teenagers for watching the small humans while I run to pee.  I am grateful to my husband for running after-work errands because I just can’t.  I love my church family for giving us so much clothing on such short notice, and my family for being like well come on in–the more the merrier!  I nearly cried for joy twice this week over the kind staff at the community center who allowed them to come right in to the childcare while I went and ran.  Probably my fastest mile time yet, I’m so not kidding, because I was burning off pure potty training angst.

They ask about/for their parents a lot.  We talk to Jesus about them.  I ask Jesus to watch over their parents and keep them safe and help them to be not sick.  And I love Jesus and I trust Him, but under my breath I’m like, Seriously, Jesus, you better help their parents get their stuff together and let these little people see their mom and dad again because if they keep asking You, and then nothing happens, their hearts are going to break, and so is mine.

My dad had pockets of sheer tragedy throughout his young life, and he said the kids asking for their parents and not understanding what’s going on brings back some difficult memories for him.  My dad is tough as nails, and his voice cracked, and I knew he meant what he said.  That night I sat next to the toddler bed with the older one and prayed over him and cried, because, see, it’s like he is my dad.  And it’s like I get the chance to go back in time and hold my little dad and rub his back and take care of him and keep him safe, but also I am seeing what my little dad must have gone through and then I see his life zooming forward to now–wife, kids, grandkids…  I don’t know.  I don’t know what I’m saying.

My fourteen-year-old is off to camp tomorrow.  My sixteen-year-old is days away from seventeen, and so wise for his age.  He gives me parenting advice.  That I actually use.  I want to spend time with every one of my eleven nieces and nephews because, dang it, they will not stop growing and their personalities are exquisite, but I don’t have time.  Elusive time.  I have to settle for a brief conversation here, a quick exchange there, and then a few weeks or months later I’ll see them again and they’ve grown another inch.

This blog post has a bittersweet tone, no?

Bittersweet times.

But sweet.

No

Spring1

I walked out on my back porch tonight.  My hands were full of stuff I needed to take upstairs–my gym bag, some dirty kitchen towels, a jacket.  I went outside to pluck some withered petunias off a plant and toss them in the yard with my free hand.  The blooms are so beautiful until, suddenly, shriveled-umbilical-cord-looking-things.  And then bumblebees seemed to be humming in a wide arc around my head, and the sound of the creek running so peacefully drifted up from the slight ravine behind the house.  The chickens were there, ten feet away, making their lazy last evening sounds before darkness chased them to roost.  The sun was going down behind my neighbors’ trees, and everything, even my own hand held out in the light, took on a warm peachy glow, and it was just one of those moments. Where time nearly stops.  I heard this snippet on the radio lately.  A man said that if you’re happy in life, great, because, Christian, this is the worst it’s ever going to get.  Like this–this Earth in its splendor–is nothing compared to Heaven.  And I just cannot even comprehend.  But it’s true.

I’ve decided I want a Great American Summer, with baseball games and reading and blackberry picking and cobblers and inner-tubing in the mountains and much lazing.  I think I can manage to pull it off; the key–and no easy feat– will be this:

“No.”

Do you know how that goes?

The desperate e-mails and the puppy dog eyes and the conniving and bustling (though I love them) friends and relatives?

“No.”

I’ll only get one Summer 2016, and it needs to be a break, not something I’ll need to recuperate from.

a break from Tennessee

The So Cal trip was perfect.

The flowers were indeed gorgeous.

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And we picked strawberries, and ate and ate them.

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And we walked around an aircraft carrier.

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And I wonder whose bunk this was.

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And the beach.

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And the sun and the palm trees, and beautiful, wonderful friends who I miss already.

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swans, elephants…lice

So there’s a mini crib in our room now.  Love that fabric.  Love that crib sheet tutorial.

Mini CribIt’s a little surreal.  Zeke is 16, Millie is 14.   Baby stuff has been gone for a loooong time, and now we’re getting it all back again.  My husband and I were putting the crib together, and I kept asking him if he was OK.  He says he is.  He’s pretty cool.  I read that there’s this super lice now.  Like lice with super powers.  I told my husband about this.  I’m like, “And we’re a fuchsia state.  That’s bad.  We could have the super lice come ridin into our house on a kid.”  He’s like, “Yeah, probably.”  Like I said, he’s pretty cool.

Today I got up early and taught a barre class, and I was nervous.  But everybody was really nice and smiled at me and I like that.  And my friend Amy, who teaches killer tabata, got up early (5:30) and drove over to the studio just to see if I was OK and to encourage me.  That’s a friend.  I thank God for my friends.

My quads ache.

Today I hope to just make stuff.

I’m the worst embroiderer ever, but I just keep on.  I did a swan…

Swan Embroidery(I like swans)

Swan Shelf…which now needs to be a wee quilt.  So I’ll do that.

And I really want to embroider an elephant.  I like elephants too.

Bye.

tiny dresses for tiny humans

I can’t believe these wee things would actually fit a human.  They’re just so tiny!

LittleGeraniumDress2LittleGeraniumDress1I had the fabric scraps…

and the pattern was free…

and there sat my sewing machine…

I like looking at flowers on fabric and all, but I’m ready to look at flowers outside.  Lenten roses, primroses, forsythia, daffodils, Redbud blossoms…

Oh! I’m going to San Diego!  Soon!  And our friends are going to take us to see ranunculus (ranunculi??) outside.  That’s crazy.  I always see ranunculus in seed catalogs (which I’m getting daily right now–you?), but as much as I love them I know they’d face certain death here.

Stay warm.  Stay hopeful.

inside

I don’t know why I should be like What?! about the snow on the ground this morning, but I am ready for Spring.

P1000066(1)I have some tulips inside.  I’ll let them grow up in a bubble, never telling them of the fate that has befallen their cousins in my neighbor’s flower bed this morning.

P1000062When people ask me what I’m up to, I’m like Oh just trying to stay warm, and they probably think I’m being cliche and vague, but that’s actually a very accurate description of what I’m doing.  My sister makes fun of me because I always have a coat on, like always.  I’m 39, and I’ve decided I need one of those old lady house coats.  You know, the really long ugly ones, with the zipper?  Hang on, I’ll find one….  OK, this.

My husband would leave me.

But at least all this trying-to-stay-warm weather has given me time to work on some projects.

P1000067I’ve been a knitting foo this winter.  Some sort of nesting instinct.  In case some younguns do show up.

P1000064New quilt time, yay!

P1000071(1)Need to beef up my stash, though.

My son has been turning wood like crazy lately.  The stars are completely aligned in Ezekiel’s favor, because he inherited his great-grandfather’s lathe and we live down the road from Jeffries, which is like the awesomest store in the world.  Seriously.  People come from all over to shop at this place–aisles upon aisles of the most beautiful wood specimens I’ve ever laid eyes upon.

P1000070(1)I’ve been begging Zeke to make me stuff, but he’s blowing me off.

I need a boxelder bowl.

Stay warm!

You Are My Bucket List

A fun thing to do is:

Wait until you’re almost forty, with two kids–teenagers, and start talking to your husband about having more kids.  Remind him how he always said, “Wait until the kids are a little older,” and then say, “The kids are older.”  Start asking him if he likes certain baby names.  Pray that God will help you understand the strange unfulfilled nagging in your heart, and help you understand why you dream of little kids with big, sad, questioning eyes.  Pray that your dreams will step out of your head at night and tiptoe across the pillows and then step down into your husband’s head, so that he can see them too.  Wait.  Tear up a little bit when your husband calls from work and says, “I found a toddler bed on Craigslist for a good deal.  Want to go get it tonight?”

Actual things we have in our house now, that we didn’t a year ago:

P1000055that toddler bed, monkey, banana quilt

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P1000045(1)preschool books

P1000043all sorts of wee knitted and sewn stuff

Don’t know where all this will lead.  Just know God is leading me, leading me.  Leading us.  I told my friend last year that I hated that spot on every doctor form that says Mother’s occupation, because I don’t have one.  But I do.  I’m a mom.  I take care of kids.  And I love it.  And I thought for a moment that it all had to come to an end when my kids are grown, but that’s not true.

It is cold and there is snow on the ground, and we are only allowed to miss one session of our foster parenting classes, and a year ago I would not have imagined that tonight my husband and I would be asking God to please help us be able to get down off this mountain tomorrow and make it to class.

A few weeks ago my husband and I were out and about doing errands and we began talking about what we should do for our twentieth anniversary at the end of this year.  I ended up lamenting the fact that we never go anywhere.  (I turn into a person of extremes in arguments.)  At our next stop, I was walking through a store and saw a sign that said You are my bucket list.  And then I was snaking back through the store to where my husband was like, “I looooove youuuuu.  I just want youuuuu.  Only youuuu.  I don’t need to travel.”

It’s true.  This is my bucket list.  This life.  Wherever it leads, it’s mine.

i guess not really about yellow

I’m using a different camera/lens now, and trying it out.  It will take me awhile to get the hang of it all.  I just spoke to my husband on the phone.  His mind is full of software specs and deadlines and algorithms, and he’s driving from one place to another, and he asked me what I’ve been up to today, and I’m like, “Really important stuff, just like your stuff.”

But I was just taking pictures of yellow things.

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…and his friends…

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Sometimes I feel like God is going to find me out and suddenly take notice of me, here, taking pictures of yellow things in my house on this rutty mountain, knitting and sewing and learnin the kids whilst my good good man works so hard to provide, and be like, “Um, no.  You’re fired.”

So I just say “thank you”, to Him, and to him, as sincerely and as often as I can, and my heart still does that skippy thing in the late afternoon when I hear the rumble of his truck crunching down that last stretch of road to our house, and then the big creaky door opens and there are those blue eyes, and the briefcase gets chucked onto the boot bench, and his arms open up to give me a hug, and he’ll tell me things I can’t tell you–things that are just mine, sorry, and

wow

this was just supposed to be about yellow things.