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.

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.

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

P1000048dolls

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 got out my Christmas stuff the weekend after Thanksgiving, and where I have historically been so excited to decorate and begin celebrating advent, I just felt kind of pooped this year.  It took a few days.  Maybe it’s that the kids are all teenagerish now, and hanging out in their room, or at various functions, and I felt kind of lonely hanging the ornaments one by one, all by myself.

At one point I hollered to my daughter, “Hey! Do you like having a Christmas tree?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Well then come help me decorate it!”

So she did.  Tree sparkling.  Color wheel rollin’.

P1070677Aw, my mom.

P1070682I got myself some choir children salt and pepper shakers.

They make me happy.  They remind me of something, but I don’t know what–something from my childhood.  But I didn’t know any choir children, and I wasn’t a choir child.  Our church didn’t even have a choir.

P1070700Things I’ve been doing: physics, catapults, grading tests and lab reports

Getting CPR/first aid/AED certified.

Reading a little of this and that

Watching this

Playing this

Baking these

And unfortunately eating those

And so doing more of this

 

What stuff have you been doing/reading/watching/playing/eating/sweating to?

 

 

 

Navarre

 

yellowflag

sortofflyingfish

dolphin

dragonfly

usonpier

waterspout

Our day:

Lalala lovely day pretty yellow flag big fluffy clouds.

People buying fish for bait and everybody has them but we don’t know what kind they are because we’re tourists, and oooo it’s like Sharknado hahaha can I take a picture of your fish on it’s hook there? Uh, sure, I guess.  Is it alive? Is it dead? I don’t know, but it’s in the sky.  And a dragonfly.  We have dragonflies in TN, but not against a sea green background we don’t.

And a dolphin or maybe it’s a porpoise?  I want to hold it.

Look, there we are, our reflections, in the water.

Then very worried man, very worried, on the beach like, “There is a tornado.” And we moved so fast, we were like booking it across the sand, and I actually thought we might die this day.  My daughter asked, “Why are all those people still just sitting there on the beach?”  And I said, “I don’t know, but that’s their choice.”  Even though I thought they were all making very, very poor choices.  All those innocent children.

And then we were like spinning out of the parking lot speeding past people going toward the tornado, and people standing around.  I was all like these people are idiots!!

But then my husband’s phone somehow told him it was a waterspout.  That waterspouts dissipate quickly once over land, and it did, it did dissipate, in front of our very eyes.

We were out of breath.  We were so wet and sandy, cause, you know, you don’t take the time to rinse or dry off when a tornado is coming.

People were probably either like:

Why is that minivan streaking out of here like that?

or

[laughing hysterically]

 

the finest of afternoons

mushrooms

My mom told me once that (someone had told her) our minds seek harmony.

I think that’s true.  Balance, balance, balance.  One can never rest for danger of tipping the scales in one destructive direction or another, not truly, not completely…not here.

But there are moments, for me at least, when I can relax and breathe and everything feels fine, just fine.

Yesterday afternoon was fine, walking around a friend’s garden, seeing her point out Japanese varieties of this and that, and her wee tea tree, and nasturtiums, and then her vintage Shasta camper.

And this afternoon was fine.  Walking through the woods with another friend and her little boy and little girl, and my not-so-little-anymore girl, all the while collecting mushrooms and exploring these tiny secret worlds of color in decaying trees and poking their way up through packed-down leaves.  The color and beauty and sheer exquisiteness take my breath away.

Beautiful people, beautiful places, and beautiful, wonderful things.

 

recital day

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Yesterday was recital day.  I’ll bet there were more hair buns yesterday on Earth than any other day of the year.   My daughter was lovely, lovely.

I’ve watched this for so many years now that I know how it’s all gonna go.  For two weeks before she is wired.  She moves constantly.  Always sort of rehearsing.  She can’t sleep.  And the gaggle of girls at the studio are all giggles and whispers and tears and hugs and jumping up and down and spinning and stretching and pointing their toes and sighing and massaging their muscles and snapping fingers and humming portions of songs.

It’s a hyper buzzing.

Then recital.

Then the crash.  Sleeping.  Sadness that another year is over.  For some dancers, this was their last recital.  Ever.

I hope they find a way to continue dancing, somehow.

The younger girls will miss the ones going off to college.  The older girls have been so kind to the younger ones; they will miss them too.

I love dance as a form of expression.  I love when a dancer moves beyond performing, then beyond entertaining, then into expressing.

I imagine someone could keep a lot of emotions all bottled up and locked away, but find a way to share them through dance.

 

This has been a sort of hard week.  Teenager stuff.  Imperfect parent stuff.  Learning stuff.  Don’t really know what God is trying to do, but I think I can safely assume He’s always in the process of making me more like Him.  Which is an honor.  I think I am learning how to pray more specifically for my kids–how to fight for them through prayer.

My husband got me this little sign.  I put it in my kitchen, and I love it so much.

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pack doggie, litter pointer, etc

P1070137The kids and I and some friends hiked today.  We were a bit premature for a profusion of wildflowers, which seems to have been delayed a week or so because of the crazy weather we’ve had.  Still beautiful, though.

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That little guy was my favorite part.  Here he comes with his people up the trail, tail wagging, surefooted.  A little pack doggie!  I want one!

My nieces and nephews from Illinois have been visiting.  They’re just the cutest kids ever.  We went on a little nature walk the other day and they were just bursting with things to tell me.  My nephew really really wanted me to know that a radio station in Chicago talks about facts sometimes, and a very interesting fact is that like half of all waste disposal workers eat the trash they collect.

His next younger sister collected rocks in a little pouch in her shirt the entire way, then informed me when we got home that they were all for me!  For our house.  So now I have a little cairn on display.  And I have to leave it on display because she checks on it.  And they’re actually moving here permanently soon, so I’m thinking I’ll have a pile of rocks on my shelf forlikeever.

And the youngest, she found a long piece of pampas grass on the walk.  She says, “Aunt Shannon, do you know what this is?”

“Mmmmm……” I was trying to remember the name, I forgot pampas.

“It’s a litter pointer.”

“Oh.”

“See, watch.”  She extended it, as if knighting, and pointed to some litter.  “Litter.”

And then she used her litter pointer to point out, oh, one hundred pieces of litter on the walk, so that by the time we got back home I felt a bit disgusted about living on an apparent landfill-type situation that I hadn’t previously noticed.

And they like to talk to me and ask me questions because I’m a sucker.  Like, “Aunt Shannon, what’s that?”

“Uhhh, that?”  I point to clarify.

“Mmmhmm.”

“A door?”

“Ohhhhh.”

And then, “Aunt Shannon, what’s that?”

“A towel?”

“Ohhhhhhh.”

After several minutes of this I realize hey I’ve been to their house and they’re really smart kids, and they have lots of doors and towels.

But I don’t know how to stop.

I like the sound of their little voices, and talking to them.

I like being an aunt.  Being an aunt is way different than being a mom.

I don’t know why, but it just is.