Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Blessed mess

Yesterday was my usual, though hardly unremarkable, day with Brooklynn.

At 10-months-old she can now easily pull herself up to stand and 'cruise' while holding onto the furniture. At my coaxing she will take a few, tiny little steps toward me all by herself, only to wobble and fall down on her thickly diapered bum, and then look at me with a big grin.

Watching her I was reminded of a book I read a couple of years ago called This Blessed Mess, by Patricia Livingston.  It's a marvelous book that came to me at a time in my life when everything was at loose ends. Life hit me broadside and in the midst of it, in one of those moments of grace, I found this book -- or perhaps it found me.

The author, like me, was pondering one of the big questions that so many parents face --  how is that when you think you're doing everything "right," life can so quickly fall into chaos?  Sometimes the disorder is just the pandemonium of everyday life with kids and sometimes it's a bigger turmoil.

When that discord involves our children growing up and venturing out it's so hard to let them go it alone. Patricia Livingston illustrates that not only is it possible, but we often have no choice but to let our loved ones go it alone.  Meanwhile, we are on the other side, cheering them on and praying our hearts out. Just like when they are toddlers taking their first steps. It doesn't do any good to stand behind them and move their legs to show them the motion. And it really doesn't work to stay beside them and take a hand. As anyone who has tried to walk with a teetering tot will tell you, it tends to throw them off balance, with the free arm reaching across their body to grab hold of you. But instead if you stay in front of them, give them some distance and encourage them to walk towards you, eventually they will figure it out and their small steps become big strides.

As I'm writing this, I'm reminded that letting my kids figure things out for themselves is a lesson that I have to keep relearning.  I have to trust that Dan and I gave them a good foundation and that we can still offer advice and direction -- when we're asked.  (Okay, and sometimes sneak it in when they don't know enough to ask.)  But for the most part, they have to figure it out for themselves -- the parenting, the budgeting, and how to work together on all of it.

We keep the door open.  The lure of food always works, so Monday nights are family dinners when they all come over, the living room is strewn with toys, the table is laden with a home cooked meal -- or pizza, depending on my mood and energy level. And there, in the midst of all that blessed bedlam, we listen as they try to figure out teething, interest rates, budgets, jobs, and cars that are compatible with car seats.

And when they pack up the diaper bags, the babies, some leftovers and head out the door, we find our respective seats in our comfy chairs, and sometimes wish we could start all over and raise our family once again. But mostly we're just really thankful for our peace and quiet, and being just the two of us.

Life is chaotic, the storms come and go.  Somehow we find the strength to get through.  Sometimes we don't know how we manage to get through.  After our crew left last night, Dan and I looked at one another and without saying a word we knew what the other was thinking.  How did we ever do it?

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Favorites and Family

It's been such a nice week, with all of my favorites involving people in my life. I'm sure blessed that way. Linking up with Susanne and FFF. . .

1. It started when I was able to get a last minute appointment with my dermatologist's office. Most appointments take weeks to set up, at least to see the doctor that I prefer. I got in the day I called and, while he was in the office, I worked with his PA and her assistant, who were both capable and professional and showed concern. More and more I'm surprised by how young some of these practitioners are. They don't look a day over 18. Geez.

2. Yesterday, I visited my Aunt Mary to wish her a happy birthday.  She is my mother's sister and her house is warm and familiar like Mom's was. Aunt Mary is a natural-born storyteller and I always feel a more optimistic about life in general after I see her.  She can find humor in any situation and I love hearing her stories about our family.

3. Last night I got to spend an evening with my auntie Ann, my dad's sister.  Dan and I went to dinner with her and then later Dan was patient (and carried the doggy bags) while we did some shopping.

4. Dan made breakfast this morning -- my favorite meal of the day! Scrambled eggs with English muffins and orange juice. A great start to the weekend.

5. Two of my favorite bloggers are back. Jen at A Good Cup of Coffee always has great menu ideas that I've been stealing from her Pinterest account while she took a blogging break:)  And Ann Marie, who happens to be my cousin -- just realized my favorites are filled with family this week -- is back at Frog Hollow Farm.  You really should stop in and see her, she has a wonderful place that feels like an English cottage.

How was your week?  Enjoy the weekend, friends!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Carry on

Hard to believe it's been over a week since I've written here. I guess I'm not surprised, because life has been so doggone busy, but I'm really hoping to get back to blogging more regular, at least that was one of my intentions for the new year. Try, try again. Here's what's been keeping me away from the backyard fence.

Football.  Can't believe it, I'm am so not a football fan.  But DH is, and since I've once again taken up a favorite winter sport*, it allows me to sit and watch games with him.  And oh my, has it been exciting! Even for a non-fan, I couldn't help but get caught up in it this weekend.  Now, the Broncos are continuing on to play next weekend, so we'll still be at it.

*Winter sport aka knitting.  I have an obsessive personality which keeps me up reading until all hours.  And there's always 'just one more row' to knit.

Reading.  I just finished Paula D'arcy's Sacred Threshold for a book discussion. Lovely, lovely book about the nature of of love and learning to love honestly and purely.  I'm currently working my way through Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett, for a book club meeting on Wednesday.  I ordered it from the library over Christmas, but then a certain little baby made his appearance a couple of days later, so the book came in and was sent back.  I borrowed a friend's copy and I'm just starting it.  I should be reading right this minute.

Organizing desks.  At home and at work.  And, in one of those weird coincidences, the printer went out at work the same week as the one at home.  How weird is that?

Add to that some baking and babysitting and the usual household chores, and the week pretty much slipped through my fingers.  But it's all good stuff.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Counting blessings

Happy to be linking up with Susanne's Friday Fave Five!

1.  Today was the first day in a long time that I didn't have anything on my calendar.  It was snowy and cold all day. I stayed inside, worked on some photo albums and desk work, drank lots of coffee and basked in the company of a certain Springer Spaniel.  She seemed happy to have some companionship for the day.

2. I'm excited to find some new recipes to make with the new toys and cookbooks I got for Christmas.

3. In my last post, I wrote about the Winter Project Link Party at Thistlebear. (Here's my project,  called the Trellis Scarf and here's the link.)  I'm thankful to find other people who share a love for textiles and share their ideas.

4.  New glasses (haha)!!  Same prescription, but nice and crisp and scratch-free lenses.  Hello, world, I can see you!

5.  Best of all, seeing our new little grandson, Sawyer.  I wrote about his arrival here, and every time I see him, I fall in love with him all over again.

How was your week?  Happy weekend to all!

Winter Project Link Party

I don't join in on many blog parties and I'm not sure why.  But I came across this one at Thistlebear. Don't you just love that blog name?  It belongs to Jennifer and it's all about things I love -- homemaking, cooking, sewing and yarn.

The Winter Project Link Party is for bloggers who want to share sewing, knitting and crochet projects that they're working on.  Because second to actually working on a project is the enjoyment we textile lovers get from seeing the beautiful things others are making and getting new ideas.

This is a scarf that I started just before Christmas.  I'm about two-thirds of the way through with it. It's called the Trellis Scarf and here's the link.  It looks complicated, but it truly is not.  I couldn't do it if it was.

Now that the winter has settled in, I'm dragging out my yarn basket and even bought some new yarn at a shop recently 'discovered,' to make some hats for some little people in my life.

How about you? Do you have a favorite indoor 'winter sport?'

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A word for 2016

"A day late and a dollar short," is something my mother used to say. I'm feeling that way about the new year. Today is already the 5th, and now I'm ready to begin it. The day after Christmas, the wreath on our front door, dry and brittle from the western exposure, came down. Out went the gingerbread village that had a thin layer of dust coating its sugary rooftops. However, other than those two things, I wasn't ready to let go of Christmas. It was a lovely time this year, with our grandchildren to bring back the magic of the season.

I especially loved our tree this year, as did Brooklynn. We would sit in the overstuffed chair next to it and I'd watched her fall asleep, mesmerized by the lights and glistening ornaments. Finally, yesterday I was ready to let go. She played with her toys on the floor, fingering each one with curiosity and wonder, and I took the decorations off the tree, handling them carefully and wrapping them in tissue to be stored away until next year. By the end of the day, the house was bare of decorations, the tree was ready for Dan and Luke to haul downstairs after supper. A dusting and vacuuming and the house will be back to normal by the end of today.

In thinking about my word for the year, I started by reflecting on last year's word -- Courage.  It was a good word that helped me grow in a number of areas.  No, I didn't go ziplining, but I stated up front that I wasn't after that kind of bravery.  It was more about trusting myself to accomplish a few goals, and having the courage to let go of some things, too.

This year, I was having a hard time coming up with a word, feeling stuck on one that I wanted to work on, but I felt I was trying too hard to make it fit.  And then, just this morning, a completely different word came to me as I was reading a morning devotional.  Funny how that happens, as soon as the new word fell into my lap, I released my grip on the other. 

My word for the year is Clarity.  Thoreau said that, "in the long run, we only hit what we aim at."  I want to be intentional about starting each day with a prayer that my eyes and ears will be open to what I'm supposed to see and hear.  I'll need clarity for the first step in making my other goals come to fruition. 

Dan has a saying that I love, when he describes my habit of starting a project in the middle, just to get something going.  "Ready, fire, aim. . . " he says.  It makes me laugh, but it's so true at times.  In 2016, I'm going to work on getting seeing things more clearly before I go firing off.

Happy New Year everyone.