Monday, September 25, 2017

Follow The Gourd

You feel it too, right? The season is changing. Summer is saying goodbye, and Fall is putting on its shoes to come on out and run around. I always feel it first in my hands. They start to ache with arthritis, and I drop things like my plate or my purse or my coffee (TRAGIC) because I can't grip very well until everything equalizes. I LOVE Fall, but during the transition, I feel a little...uneasy in the pit of my stomach, and I don't think I'm the only one. It's hard to sit in the discomfort and just be. I feel a greater push to over-explain and justify my every move. I worry and over-think. It's an anxious feeling. In the end though, I remember this saying that my mother kept on her window for years: "Worry does not relieve tomorrow of its troubles. It robs today of its joy." (or something to that effect. That's how I always remember it) I know that the in-between time will pass and this bummer of a feeling will burn itself out. I'll stop wanting to stay in bed all day and avoid everyone I know.

Some of my weirdness is this change in my approach to life. I've got more time on my hands with this new policy of NOT saying "yes" to everything that comes my way. That's bizarre, man. My kids are rolling around in it though, and that's pretty great.

We got their school pictures today. I laughed a lot at the unbrushed teeth and the darling-who-would-not-look-at-the-camera, but I'm sending them out to the relatives anyhow, because, as a smart mom at our school said, "Well, that's how my kids looked that day, so...". They chose the backgrounds themselves, and I told them how great they look, because how sweet are these?

Fall in Oregon is glorious. The rumors are true, of course. It rains here, so don't move out this way if you're allergic to water or clouds or greenery. To me, it is so stunning though. I grew up in the Great Plains of the Midwest - those Amber Waves of Grain, man. I think that has an awesome grace and beauty all its own. When you look out and you can watch the wind do its work on the prairie all the way to the horizon - well, it's really something. Living here is so different though. I can see Mt. Hood from my yard on a clear day. I live an hour from the actual OCEAN, which is bananas. The seasons are long and they linger very sweetly. It's so, so green. Also, I happen to love the rain.

We are making deliberate promises to the kids lately. Specific plans with them, doing things that are important TO THEM and making sure those promises are honored. We always visit the same pumpkin patch every year. James will be unavailable on the weekend we usually go, so we made a point of going early, to be absolutely sure this family event happened.

I look at this precious face, and the fact that she still comes to get me in the middle of the night, because her hand is asleep isn't irritating. It's a tiny piece of a childhood that is moving quickly. It's a marker of her trust in me, the hand-waker-upper. Someday, she'll learn not to lie on it, and she won't come get me anymore. Then, it will be my turn to wake HER up, because turnabout is fair play. (haha)

And this one, who is smiling and laughing more readily and naturally again, without reservation. I've over thought and over analyzed and worried. I think he'll be alright.

My babies. Not babies.

And then there's this one. I can't stop laughing, and that's the best thing.

Follow the gourd, man. Summer is over. Feel that transition, because Fall is here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

And We're Back

It seems trite to keep writing about my own life when there's so much going on in the world - all these big things, crashing and booming and clanging. There's so much, and it's so important, and my tiny corner with its tiny concerns doesn't really matter. I know that. I just keep thinking that we're all of us trying though - trying to understand, trying to be heard or maybe to listen, trying to raise our children to be better than we are, trying to be love.

I'm usually pretty sunshiny on my blog, but life's not always like that, is it? Children grow and deal with the things children deal with. We age and tumble down the ol' highway, blundering along and figuring it all out through trial and error. I'm almost 40. I don't feel a day over 17. But hey, here we are.

I spent this summer diving deep, friends. I skidded into summer feeling like a burnt cinder. Totally, completely spent. Emptied out. Made it by the skin of my teeth. You get the idea. I have a great number of passions, and I take on a lot of projects. I run best on a higher gear, and I know that about myself, but I have a very bad habit of thinking I can take on more than is physically possible for one person, and once I've committed to do something (or fifteen somethings), I don't ever feel able to back out. I just keep saying "yes" and pushing and pushing until I'm all burned up. Sometimes it works out, and everything gets done. All the plates keep spinning and I don't worry that I've disappointed anyone. Brave face. Ta-dahhhh!

But sometimes I start dropping plates.

My J-bird had a horrible year at school last year. It was just awful. There was real, true, serious, no-joke bullying happening - verbal, emotional, and physical. It went on for months. He was deeply miserable and getting desperate. Do you know how fast even a confident child can be ground to powder at that age? Well, I'll tell you: pretty fast. And you want to know the absolute worst, most terrible thing? I didn't know. He didn't tell me, because he was scared to get his bully in trouble. His teacher said he was fine. And I was so busy spinning plates, that I DIDN'T SEE HOW BAD IT WAS.

Mom Guilt 101: Hello darkness, my old friend....

My kids don't face a ton of adversity. They are deeply loved. They're safe and protected. I'm not sorry about that. I understand that bad things WILL happen to them, but I was foolish enough to believe my child was safe at his school in his fourth grade classroom. He wasn't. That's a heartache, and it's a heavy one.

So we spent the summer together. We didn't travel. We didn't do anything intense. We made a list of the fun things they wanted to do, and we did them. We spent time with friends. We did a lot of art projects and baking and gardening. We worked on our relationships and on honesty. There was a lot of talking, because I won't lie to you, my son was angry at the beginning - not at me, but because of what happened. He needed some time to depressurize, and as he did, he told me all the details of his year. Then I was angry. We are all glad it's over.

I spent a lot of time in thought about all my plates, about my need to please and to say yes so people will like me. My children will only be children for such a short time. If I'm not more careful to guard our time together, if I continue to treat that so cavalierly, I'm going to miss some important stuff.

So I'm setting aside some pieces of my life - things I love, things I'm good at, things I'm passionate about. Back into the cupboard they go for a while. Oh, not everything - I still have my work and some time for music and art and friends, but there isn't time for every single thing. There just isn't. Not right now. I'm delegating. I'm working on saying no - not my strong suit - even when it makes my heart hurt. I'm working on letting go of the horrible angst I feel when someone is disappointed or even angry with me for not coming through for them, because I've got to focus on my family.

I am deeply flawed, and I make a lot of mistakes, but I always want to learn and to conduct myself with integrity. As my children head into a new school year, my son is smiling and laughing without reservation again, my daughter is more delightful and ferocious than ever, and I have pared down my priorities and opened my eyes. I believe it is possible to balance being a whole person with being a good mom. I'm aiming to try.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

"And Most Of All, We'd Like To Thank Our Parents, Without Whom None Of Us Would Be Here..."

 Man, I love graduations. All that hope and nostalgia. Chapters ending and beginning. Pages turning. Doors and windows. I love the Pomp and Circumstance, the earnestness, the speeches, the long lists of names followed by uproarious cheering from various sections of the gym - and that part at the end where everyone exhales together and the kids all throw their caps in the air. Yeah. That part's the best.

Today, I attended the graduation ceremony for the Forest Grove High School class of 2017. I knew 6 graduating seniors today, so I did a lot of whooping and hollering and weeping and cheering and waving and clapping and fuzzy-long-distance-photo taking. It was so great.

Ruby gave a fantastic speech!

I couldn't track down everyone for photos after, but I caught a few.

Ellie and Ruby!!

Congratulations to Ruby, Ellie, Helen, Lily, Mira, Hiram, and ALL of the Vikings who graduated today! And thank you Nancy, Bob and family for inviting me to sit with you during the ceremony. What a day!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It Is Too Much. Let Me Sum Up

 May is kicking my butt, guys. A lot of great stuff - some not so great stuff. Here's the run down:

At the end of April, we celebrated my darling James's 39th birthday! I've rhapsodized over this man so many times, but it bears repeating what a thrill it is to know that the fella I lucked onto at 22 really is the one and only one for me. He's a partner in every way. He's a phenomenal dad. I love him so.

He was out of town on his actual birthday, so the kids and I spent the week decorating the house and getting surprises and presents ready for him. The J-bird and Miss V pooled their money to get him something really special...which they put in the bottom of a gift bag under some socks and underwear (family joke). He loved it.

After that, my good friend, Robert and I put on a benefit concert we'd been working on. It was something we'd been mulling over for a while, and it really turned out well. We raised a good amount of money for two great local organizations, and we felt pretty great about the music we made.

(photo from Kristy Haines)

After THAT, my parents came to visit from Kansas!! We had so much fun. They hadn't been out this way in a few years, so it was great to show them all the changes we've made to the house and to spend time with them in the place we love so much. We took them to some of our favorite places, introduced (or re-introduced) them to a lot of our people, and just enjoyed their company so much.

My children's choir performed in church. Twice.

My pastor wrote a book, and I organized a book release party for her.

Unfortunately, my little J-bird has had a rough go of it lately. Two weeks ago, he slammed his finger in the car door. He did a pretty thorough job of destroying it, breaking the bone and destroying the nail and nail bed. The whole thing required surgery to repair.

Just when things were calming down, and he'd finished up the course of antibiotics prescribed in the ER (because it was an open fracture), his lips and tongue swelled up suddenly and alarmingly, and we ended up back in the ER. As it turns out, my sweet boy is allergic to amoxicillin. He's spent the last five days covered in hives and taking medicine around the clock to try to calm them down. NO FUN.

On the bright side, his finger is healing! He got a cool, new, smaller splint, and he's in great spirits. Things are looking up.

 We even got to go on his class field trip - a nice, muddy hike out at Stub Stewart State Park.

Miss V, on the other hand, is having a wonderful month! She's winding up her first year in school. She received a friendship bracelet from a buddy at school today. She loves science and math and art, and she currently thinks fart jokes are the funniest thing ever. *sigh* Oh, to be seven.

Somewhere in the midst of all of that, I also turned 39. I don't usually make a huge deal about my birthday. James, on the other hand, makes me feel special no matter what, and he always, unfailingly makes my birthday really nice. This year was no exception. His theme for the gifts he bought me was wonderful.  For a major bonus this year, my friend, Kristy made me an entire birthday day in Portland. We had bacon and whiskey and listened to records and played was so sweet and personal and kind - just like her. Then, to top it all off, I got to meet Amy on my way home for supper. It was a great day, and I really needed the break!!

So, you know, it's been a heckuva month. Birthdays, a concert, two trips to the ER, a surgery, a scary allergic reaction, a wonderful visit from family, time with friends, very little sleep...

And here we are. Still rolling along. Hoping June is a little less intense.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Coffee Table Change-up

 I've had the same coffee table in my living room for the last twelve years. It's a perfectly beautiful coffee table, and I like it just fine. There are even two matching side tables, which are also perfectly beautiful. I'm just bored, bored, bored with them. I've been slowly, but surely changing the look of my living room over the last few years, and "perfectly beautiful" doesn't really fit anymore. Also, I just wanted a change. The first big pieces to go were the side tables. I replaced them with funky pieces that I scrounged and fixed up or that my friend, Amy found when she was working at the ReStore. Then, a beat up old table showed up (also at the ReStore), and I decided it was going to be the one for me.

Here's the one I've had forever:

And here's the one I bought.

Storage is at a premium in my house, and this one has drawers and a hinged compartment in the top. Sweet!

It was in rough shape, but that was fine with me. I planned to alter it anyway, and I wanted to change the top completely, so I started sanding it down. As the thick stain came off the sides, I liked the way it looked, half sanded, so I took a chance and left it that way.  In person, it looks like an old, beat up shop cabinet. I sanded the top down completely, painted some chevron stripes on (I know they're "out" now, but I like what I like), sanded that down, added some natural stain and poly over the top, and that was done. I took the flower backs off the drawer pulls to simplify those, and I added casters to the bottom, so it's easier to move.

It fits perfectly in the room, and it looks great with the new paint on the walls. I'm happy with the change.

Now to sell the old ones and clear out some space! Spring is here, and I'm the mood to purge and clean!