A Grandmother’s Hands

Buckling your little shoe
Making toast and jam for you
Caressing your chubby face
Folded neatly, saying grace
Lifting you onto her lap
Tucking you in for an afternoon nap
Helping you plant a tiny seed
Bandaging a scraped up knee
Gently brushing wispy hair
Serenely snuggling in the rocking chair
Wrinkled, sun spotted, capable,
     Carriers from above
Calloused, experienced, soothing
      Reminders of His unending love
A grandmother’s hands
     work hard and create fun
A grandmother’s hands
     a life well done.

Dedicated to my children’s grandma Joyce

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The weekend…


Saturday morning dawned sunshiney full of potential. After going to the bank for Kevin, dropping Brielle off to spend some time with her aunt, getting gas and coffee, we arrived at our first service project. Our church was doing scads of projects all over town, ranging from planting flowers to welcoming refugees to packing food boxes, over 500 members of our church were doing our best to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We opted to help with a free car wash. Luckily, we didn’t have any customers at first and they needed someone to volunteer their vehicle to get the ball rolling.

Um. ME!! We live on a gravel road and haven’t had rain for two weeks. Pretty sure my van could use a wash again by now–but it was a huge blessing to have it washed. I got to talk to some friends I don’t see often enough too. As we were leaving, Aviana said that it was the most fun she had in her whole life!

Next we met up with some other friends to put together birth kits for moms in Papua New Guinea. 1 in 7 moms in rural Papua New Guinea dies in childbirth. Today. In 2012. Can you imagine?! A friend found out about Bloggers for Birth Kits and organized our meet up. It was another fabulous opportunity to hang with friends and  serve others.

Photo credit to a friend

Then it was time for lunch at the farmer’s market. We were all pretty wilted by this time so I only bought 4 quarts of strawberries. We talked with our hooping friend and headed home.

On the way, I realized I really wanted to implement some of the ideas my landscaper friend suggested, so I hooked into The Green Thumbers and bought some plants. They are so awesome there–the manager walked me around helping me find what I wanted, offering tips and suggestions all the while and carried them to the front for me, and then someone loaded them into my van. Jessica loves being spoiled.

When I got home, I got the baby down for his nap, started unloading the mountains of stuff that had somehow accumulated in the van since the last time I cleaned out the van (which I think may have been the day before!), and decided to try and find my phone since I had forgotten to take it with me.

I found it.
I checked my messages.
My aunt had called.
My mom was in the ER!
She was in severe respiratory distress and after having gone to urgent care, was transferred by ambulance to the hospital!

I didn’t even know which hospital and all my calls to both my dad and mom wouldn’t go through.

I called Kevin and continued to try and stay busy (and around here there is always work for willing hands. Hint, Hint). After what seemed a really long, long wait, I finally got a call from my dad telling me where they were and asking me to come down to hospital. I called my SIL asking her to bring Brielle home and if she would stay with the other kids and asked Kevin to call his mom to see if she would maybe come over after work or even get off work early to help, so he could continue to get the crop in.

My mom was in bad shape. She couldn’t get her breath at all even after being on oxygen and a breathing treatment or two. Just the exertion of moving to the edge of the bed and trying to stand would send her into spasms of coughing and panic and not being able to breathe. Then she couldn’t get control of her breathing again for an eternity.

She was admitted to the Pulmonary Unit and I stayed with my parents the whole time. I was so thankful that my children were taken care of so I could be a support to them.  My mom had even felt earlier in the day like “it’s a good thing I’m right with God because if it’s my time to go, I’m ready.” I cannot imagine losing my mom right now. She’s only 58 and I still need her. My dad left about 8 as he was exhausted from all the stress.

I stayed at the hospital until my aunt arrived after an 8 hour drive around 11. I was so tired driving home (we are about 30ish minutes away) I thought I would have to pull over and take a cat nap, but I made it.

My MIL had taken the children to her house so I got to sleep in until 8 this morning. Kevin wanted to go up to the hospital with me, so I messed around looking for a lost library book, we planted my plants and then headed up. She had had one more “episode” this morning but was doing really well. My dad went to church so we all just kept company until Aunt Barb and Kevin took off early afternoon. Kevin went back to work and Aunt Barb had a graduation to attend.  I stayed until she was discharged. She has several prescriptions including a nebulizer.

What concerns me is if she has another episode while my dad is at work and why they never really figured out WHY this was happening. Of course it’s awesome she doesn’t have to stay in the hospital and I’m thankful she is doing better. It bothers me that they ruled out the big stuff (pneumonia), but didn’t find a trigger for this episode. It’s as if they feel like, ‘well, we’ve got her on some drugs and she’s pretty much fine now, so it’s good enough.’ What about making some lifestyle changes? What about alternatives to more medications? What about things we can do to not let it get like this again? Not even a consideration, apparently.

Kevin was almost done planting corn today when he had yet another breakdown. Stupid first year with a new planter anyway. So we’re four measly acres away from being done! We still have almost all the beans to do (I use the term “we” very loosely–kind of like “we’re pregnant”) but that isn’t as critical…

I’m tired and energized at the same time. How is that even possible? I need to get my booty to bed though, another big day of loving and living and learning tomorrow!

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Happiness Factor

Sunny morning spent with friends. Prayers, tears, lots of laughter (even some snorting), chatting, affirming. Wonderful food. Filling my tummy, my head and my heart (not necessarily in that order).

I was so fulfilled this morning. Kevin and one of the other dads took our kids on a playdate manly outing, while the mamas enjoyed one another’s company and celebrated the impending adoption (after 3 long years) of one of our dear friends.

Plus I feel GOOD. Not totally bounding out of bed bright eyed and bushy tailed good –but who are we kidding?–I don’t think I’ve done that since my age got into double digits.

Even eggs are happier when they look good.

The month of February was plagued with so much illness and pain that I didn’t really enjoy myself or my life. I’m ashamed to say that my joy was hard to come by, and still, even though I try to give thanks in all circumstances and rejoice in the Lord, my happiness seems largely dependent on my circumstances. I am better than I used to be, and with God’s grace and strength, I am going to keep getting better.

What boys do on a playdate manly outing

Regardless, I’m so thankful that today’s happiness factor is

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A Tribute to a Father

His harvest may be over, But in my heart it’s not Because I still can see him In my every waking thought
I can see him at the counter Drinking his cup of coffee, eating a slice of pie I can see him walking out the door Grabbing one more donut, kissing Mom good-bye I can see him in his coveralls In his boots and cap I can see him in the recliner The paper in his lap
I can see him in the tractor Driving in the field, plowing up the land I can see him at the lake Standing on the dock, fishing pole in hand
I can hear him in the church Greeting friends and chatting, singing hymns with abundant cheer I can hear him in the cattleyard Hollering at a stubborn steer
I can hear him with the grandbabies Playing in the sandbox, playing a game I can hear him chuckling and laughing Loving being Grandpa Loving when they say his name I can hear him in the kitchen A phrase he always used to say “There’s always tomorrow. And if there is no tomorrow It doesn’t matter anyway.”
There are no more tomorrows

For this great man is gone

But always in our hearts His memory will live on

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Birthday Party 2010

I had so much fun planning this party. I thought the girls could be fairy princesses and the boys could be Peter Pan. I learned a lot more about geometry making these hats than I ever did in school.

Most of the party goers.
My man and little Pan.
We set up the yard into several play and activity stations. Aunt Barb helped keep things flowing at the Fairy House Painting station.

Amelia and other moms helped at the Fairy Floats station. I wasn’t sure that our homemade bubble solutions were going to work, but leaving them over night was the key. They turned out great and this very well could have been deemed most popular station.

Of course, all the backyard games were a big hit as well:


the homemade teeter-totter

the tire swing

and of course, hooping.

We had a Make a Flower Friend station…

Uncle Corydon was in charge of the Face Painting station. He did a superb job.

We grilled out burgers and hot dogs and had all the trimmings, accompanied by way too many flies–one of those farm drawbacks.

We had cakes–I made the white ones and the all the icing, (I still have icing leftover should you want to come over for a spoonful :-)) Amelia made the chocolate, and my dad made strawbaby, chocolate AND vanilla ice cream.

The white cakes were really not white cakes–thanks to Whisk Kid’s blog and my friend Wendy tipping me off to it.
These were so fun and easy to make; I felt like Willy Wonka the whole evening. Plus I think I should be getting bragging rights because, technically, I made TWELVE cakes that night.
And, they were delicious. I’m confident, if given the chance, I could have eaten an entire one, over the course of a few days, all by myself.

Special thanks to my brother’s girlfriend Kate for being my roving photographer. I was able to enjoy the party so much more since I wasn’t always thinking about “getting the shot”.

I think some of these pictures were also my sister’s, so thanks to her too! And many many thanks to all our family and friends who came and helped so graciously and made our party the super fun time it was!

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Family Hoop

For my dad’s big 60th birthday on Sunday, I made a manly meal of meat and potatoes, and the traditional strawberry rhubarb pie.

Family legend has it that his mom went into labor while picking strawberries and she didn’t go to the hospital until she finished the patch. I’d love to hear that birth story–too bad it’s more than likely lost to the ages.

After dinner we went outside to break out the hoops. (More accurately, the hoop. Kevin needs to make more for all :-))

Leroy (my dad) totally rocked the hoop.

The littles wanted in on the action.

The littlest’s method was to have someone spin the hoop around him. And, alternatively, to put the hoop on the ground, and spin in circles inside of it.

My mom’s skills were admirable.

And then here’s me.

Good times with the Farm Fresh Fam.

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There are no words.

I really don’t know what to say.

Should I talk about going to the farmer’s market this morning and the hilarity of my girls eating a ginormous caramel apple, so big it required two sticks and corn-on-the-cob style eating? How the caramel covered all 20 of their fingers and both noses and all four cheeks? How I am so completely enchanted by childhood and the exuberent way my children attack life?

Should I talk about how mightily I enjoyed watching my twenty-two month old splashing in the buff in the wading pool? How adorable he was, doggedly filling his bucket and pouring out the water, over and over and over? How I sniggered to myself when he tried to put his boy parts into the garden hose?

Should I talk about the books I’ve been reading lately, or the 10¢ copies of old Real Simple magazine I’m enjoying from time to time when I have a spare minute?

Or about the super delicious strawberry shortcake we had for lunch today, with strawberries plucked this very day?

Or about how I planted two tomato plants and dug out some thistles and got very very tired?

Or about how beyond thrilled I am for my dear friend who is on her way to Bulgaria to bring home her new daughter, a daughter we’ve been praying for for years?

Or should I talk about how my sister and brother-in-law are moving far far away today and taking my children’s only cousins with them? How I’m completely woebegone that our and their relationships will never be the same? How I’m at the same time trying with all my heart to cheer them on, as they face this new endeavor and start a new chapter in their lives, even though it hurts like anything that it won’t include us?

Or should I talk about our trip to St. Louis and Springfield? How terrific it was to have pretty well behaved children on the long drives? How fun it was to see my brother? The enjoyment of going to the zoo? The pleasure of hearing Cadrian squeal his thirlled squeal every. single. time we went into our hotel lobby and saw the fountain?

How I relished spending time with my aunt Barb, just talking? Watching her cross-stitch with my daughter? How I luxuriated in someone taking such a loving, unqualified interest in me and my kids?

How I was entertained by my uncle Phil who knows so much about anything? How I learned about all the plans he has for their property? How I got all excited to try Square Foot Gardening, like he is? How inspired I am by all the remodeling projects he’s doing to their house? How amusing it was to watch my children interact with him? How much I’ve learned from him?

Or should I talk about the shock and the pain of arriving at their house for our farewell luncheon to find out my uncle had died? Died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 54? The man who was a fixture in our lives, in my aunt’s life? The man who she’d been with since she was 14? The man who had already survived so much?

I don’t know what to say.

There are no words.

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The Great Robber

I mourn the man I never knew.
I mourn the man my children will never know.

Who are you really? You never let us see.
You hide behind small talk and
the television and
smiles that never really reach your eyes.

You used to run the business.
Now you sit.
You used to be in charge.
Now you get lost.
You used to make money.
Now you can’t make a sandwich.
You used to care about the details.
Now you need cared for.

I see you more now than ever.
And yet I see less of you.

I wish I could have known you when
you were the man you were then.
I wish I could have seen what she saw
in who you used to be.
I wish it were different.
dedicated to our loved ones whose golden years were stolen by Alzheimer’s Disease.

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