Saturday, December 4, 2021

Twas the first week of Christmas....

Kate and I hid away on small business Saturday while Greg yelled at the OSU/Michigan game. He needed no witnesses but Makenna and Noah showed up anyway to raid the fridge and declared the house "a freaking palace" because we had so much to eat. They are adulting. But we finally located lights for the tree and finished the decorating once it was safe to return. 

Noah poured over my everyplate recipes and was pumped when I gifted them to him with a binder for safe keeping. He is planning to impress the guys at the firehouse and Makenna is signing up for the delivery service too. I have all the recipes on the app so the hard copies will be better suited for Noah anyway. 

The cat misses the dog. His energy is entertaining but unusual as he insists on being the center of attention for the first time in his life. I too miss the dog and the quietness of the house is taking some adjusting. Who knew I'd almost miss the mess as well? We keep telling ourselves this is not an ideal season to add a furry family member but my heart pulls toward the old souls in shelters who deserve a happy ending. But whereas I love old dogs, my budget does not. Those old guys are pretty expensive and as much as I like our vet, keeping them in business isn't my first priority. 

One morning this week I escorted kindergarten students off the bus as they sang Jingle Bells. They were bouncing as they excitedly declared they'd had a sing along on the bus all morning. The last little guy in that cluster turned and looked at me with the most serious expression on his face, "it was awful." 

My shirt says, "you can't wait until life's not hard anymore before you decide to be happy." I love the message and the story behind it. If so inclined, look up Nightbird and the golden buzzer to decide for yourself. 

Thursday morning Kate text several messages about the school shooting in Michigan. She was processing. Makenna was texting that work comp has decided they aren't paying Noah after first insisting he must follow doctor's orders and not return to work until the dislocated finger has healed. Obviously they are stressed. Erin had an appointment that determined additional testing is needed. I desperately want peace for her. Lauren emotionally resigned from a toxic job and the middle school called me to get Ty who had vomited after lunch. I think the on-going chaos is simply the way it goes when one has so many kids. But there were redeeming moments that same day too. A co-worker jumped in to cover for me as I abruptly left. Ty felt great in between episodes and enjoyed a gorgeous sunny afternoon outside with his basketball and separately, his bow. We got homework and housework finished before we would usually get home from school so I had an hour on my swing while talking on the phone with a friend. This might be what the gurus call Balance. Perhaps.

Friday I had the most needed massage of my life and can't wait to return in January to continue working on the hip that keeps me awake at night. I had suspected it was a muscle and nerve issue and the intensity of the massage all but confirmed. This aging is happening a bit earlier than I expected. And then I sat on my swing while Makenna and Noah visited and both Kate and Ty flipped on the air track. Pip joined us for some fresh air while it was near seventy degrees. I waived making dinner to continue resting. It was a perfect ending to a long week.

Saturday, November 27, 2021


Makenna was honored at a banquet for the school district last week. She won Support Staff Person of the Year for her building.

Not all assistants are created equally. 

Greg made friends with a little guy at church who sits in front of us. He is a year old and very busy. He knows he has a fan club in all of us as we all wave and pass communion cups back and forth to entertain him until his mom gives up and takes him to the nursery. This Sunday, he was pushing himself out of his dad's arms, reaching for Greg. His dad grinned about how much Colton loves men and makes friends wherever they go. After service, the little guy went running up to Greg with his arms raised and Greg no longer resisted scooping him up. Everyone giggled as his shocked mom tried to take him back and he refused to let her. Greg made a little friend and he is pretty cute. We are guessing he knows a Pops when he sees one. 

Ty had a friend from school over on Sunday and despite the drizzle and cool temperatures, they played basketball and rode scooters throughout the neighborhood between video games. It was nice to finally meet the boy whose name is always mentioned in stories from school.

Ty then had a neighbor's son over for the first time since covid began and it was delightful to hear the laughter pick up right where it left off so long ago. Ty wore a Spiderman costume I didn't know he still owned and I realized how much I've missed that phase. The glimpse back to his boyhood wonder made me smile.

Erin has been selected through her internship to help pen an article for the Mayo clinic. It will be published in 2022. She is taking on the CDC and their latest screening recommendations for women's health. Sister is on fire. Despite the pain of the last few years, she is using those experiences to influence change for others. It goes without saying, we are incredibly proud of her. 

Jasper, the "mini" bernadoodle loves Ty. 

The expression on Kate's face while looking at Brennen cracks me up. I think it's the hair. Maybe. They have a bond that includes silent communication so one never knows what they are really up to when they are together. 

Greg, Kate, Ty and I went to Theresa's for Thanksgiving while Makenna and Erin went to brunch and wrote papers together. Our more intimate gathering was quiet without all our adult daughters. But Theresa makes a great hostess. All her special details were not only lovely, they were appreciated. 

This Thanksgiving was not what I would have chosen or how I would have planned but it is the Thanksgiving I was given. The small gathering missing all my adult children was beautiful in it's own way. 2021 has taught me many painful lessons of leaning into what is rather than lamenting what was supposed to be. My initial instinct was to grab a bag of salad in my sweatpants this year but instead chose family- the part I could celebrate with as the gift for which I am truly grateful. My missing people were still in touch, yet so many are missing theirs forever this side of heaven. I know first hand how difficult these holidays can be when the grief is so raw, getting out of bed is almost more than one can muster the strength to do. All my usual tactics of caring fully for the needs of others have fallen short in recent months. Eventually my own grief needs addressed. 

I just know that as I kissed Becky goodbye in January and missed her funeral in February because I was holding firm onto my daughter who was shocked by the pain of losing so much to cancer that I remembered how Becky's family skipped Thanksgiving the year prior to keep her safe and how desperately I wanted to scream but you don't know. You don't know. This may be her last and you forfeited it in the name of a guarantee you are never given. Each precious day is a gift- even if we are only given nine and each one is spent in a NICU under the buzz and glow of machines assisting in allowing those nine precious days. 

This year has been one of tremendous loss and pain and to be honest, I haven't fully accepted the lot of it. It's simply too much. But in the mornings when 3am means I'm on my second cup of tea, elbow deep in journals, exploring how God works in all my broken places, He allows me to see my intensity is quite literally too much for some. It's okay. I will use these seasons of pain, sorrow and righteous anger to heal. My prayer is I do so as gracefully as one can in the midst of chaos.

So this Thanksgiving wasn't what I imagined for myself or so many others I love, but it was the day I spent reflecting the beauty of growth and love created in the broken places.  And that's not nothing.

Kate requested Christmas decor Friday. I reluctantly agreed. Then we needed lights. Of course we did. None of our local stores had them and I'd rather lose my right arm than tackle Black Friday in town so the trees are naked. Oh well. And then she insisted the pets needed a photoshoot. She amuses me. And apparently I am easily manipulated into silly joy. PS. Pip, the hedgehog pooped and peed on me. We are not friends. He cares exactly 0%. 

Aunt Theresa sent super fun hot cocoa balls home with the kids Thursday. Baby Yoda marshmallow? How cute is that?

We redeemed the decorating fail with cookies, cocoa and Elf as a family. Ty and Kate know most of the lines and laughed clear through. It was good.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Leaves, Laughter and Sleep

Our son-in-law fell and dislocated his finger running through a firehouse in a nun costume for a game of tag I have failed to fully understand but have fallen over laughing, none the less. Greg, on the other hand, as a safety director sees no humor in a workers compensation claim and OSHA recordable incident because boys were behaving like idiots. Poor Noah has some face to save at both our house and at work in the coming weeks. 

Kate's old gymnastics coach has contacted us about restarting classes in January and would like Kate to assist her coaching kids. She is looking forward to resuming some time on the mat after a three year hiatus due to the knee tumor and second concussion. My fingers are crossed helmets are considered reasonable in the gym these days.

Ty laughed at himself as he emerged for the day. Apparently he had just spent fifteen minutes looking for the clothes he'd laid out the night prior. He was already wearing them. This was on the heels of another morning he freaked out he forgot to wear a shirt under his jacket as we pulled into the school parking lot. He was panicked and stressed because we didn't have time to circle back. After we were parked, he laughed, "um, I found my shirt. I'm wearing it after all." He is not a morning person. 

On the way home from school one day this week, Ty asked, "Mom, do deaf people think we are screaming when we yawn?" I couldn't stop laughing long enough to answer him. Fortunately he also got to giggling and wasn't offended by my reaction. Welcome to the brain of the boy who ponders a lot of things, none of them academic. 

A leaf fight broke out on the playground Friday and miraculously, no one was injured. It was pure joy listening to the squeals as they ran, tossing leaves in the air and at one another. I think I prefer leaf fights to snowball fights. No dryer required. 

I confessed I usually go to bed before 8pm most Friday nights and was met with two teachers who readily agreed they do as well. This school gig is rewarding but oh so exhausting. Me too, Ava. Me too.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Love and Loss

Austin handed Lauren a flashlight and picked up a toy hammer and said, "okay, now we are ready to go wake up Ty" 😳

Kate was identified as a close contact just before the wedding so we were missing her during the ceremony and reception. She was as upset as I was. And whereas I think the contact tracing in schools needs to be eliminated, once we knew about her possible exposure,  we couldn't risk being the ones taking it to a group of people. 
This poem was tied into the wedding ceremony and it struck me. Yes, the world is at least fifty percent terrible but we each have the choice to create joy.

My week was a brutal mix of gratitude for my family while grieving for my friend. We attended a wedding the day she lost her husband. I am frustrated by OSHA guidelines and CDC policies aimed at preventing the less than 2% likelihood of catastrophic consequences while simultaneously mourning one in that category. There is no normal and life is a precarious balance of living fully but safely. I don't even know what that means anymore. How does one in the company of a super happy three year old keep the tears at bay for boys without their father? And yet somehow, I mostly managed. And took some private time away when I no longer could. 

The weekend was a whirlwind of activity. We squeezed in a quick meal together Sunday evening before Noah went to work and the kids loaded the car for their middle of the night drive home. 

Lauren and Austin were asked to be in another wedding in June. I'm grateful for the ladies who grew up running in and out of my house. Their weddings are bringing my girl home periodically. I will always crave more. 

Thursday Kate accompanied me to Dayton to attend the memorial. The service once again reminded me we have a choice. We can wallow in sadness or we can be thankful for the gift of the time we had. I'm working on it. This, I'm afraid will be a lifelong journey because watching others grieve breaks my heart.