this past weekend was my favorite sort: one part blustery wind, three parts sun, some stripey-sock dancing and the making of things. there may or may not have been a child who dedicated the whole of his day to Disregarding The Parental Units, but such is our current modus operandi, and it doesn't quite ruffle up our feathers like before.
the learning curve's been steep these last eight months, and it comes at such a funny time: i've been mothering a passel of kidlets for years and thought i'd had things pretty well managed. but now we've this crash course in Forbearance and Creative Thinking and it's stretching me spaghetti-thin and most everything about it is hard and unglamorous, but i suspect it's also spiking personal growth in places that could stand some blossoming.
also, my prayer life has taken on new fervor.
before we brought our youngest into our family, i'd gripped this notion that raising up children is a fairly straight-forward enterprise: you're kind and consistent, you love them up tall, you communicate expectations, you help them meet Jesus and you teach them to value each other. water and weed and let God do his growing thing, and presto: a bushel of upstanding citizens. but our smallest boy is teaching us that we can do our part as parents, we can love him and give him opportunities to cooperate and the tools to make healthy choices, but the actual choosing and cooperating is largely up to him. (and God. and those miracles up His sleeve.)
which means that some days i proffer cooperative chances from sunup to sundown, and he flatly rejects every single one (plus usually a bunch of chances i didn't even extend). no question, these are exhausting times. but they don't have to be defeating.
and last night just as he was on the cusp of sleep, i slipped in and kissed his temple and sniffed him up good, all that honeyed soap and skin. he smells like my kid. it's a mighty nice smell. and i'm thinking that given enough time and chances, there will come a day when i'll walk into a room and he'll catch that scent of mom.
the useful thing about grief is how it shucks our decorum clean off and drops us on each other's doorsteps, these shelled, skinny, honest things. i was thinking about this last week, how vulnerable and themselves everyone was at the funeral, and also how i've somehow won the family lottery because even when--or really especially when--they're laid bare, i am awfully fond of these people.
brother nate (it's a hobby of mine to make him sound vaguely franciscan) shouldered my bags to the car, and he'd been up to that sort of business all week: working in the background of every scene, quietly carrying and assisting and arranging travel details. he's a good one, that nate.
and then there's my cousin's wife, who made sure no one cried alone. my mom and aunt and uncles, transparent and generous in their sadness. my aunt kay, whose laugh jumpstarts the rest of us. cousin keith, who preached that funeral with so much hope. the mister's parents, logging a good five hours on the road to show up and hug us.
they're so much goodness that i don't even the tiniest bit deserve, but i am totally not giving them back. :)
[i do not know why i have grass pictures for you today, other than it was frosty out, and with all that pretty light, and my back lawn was speaking to me. these things happen.]
also speaking to me: the easiest fruit dip ever. we were recently gifted with a couple jars of nutella, which is already Beautiful Stuff in its own right, but if you introduce your glob of nutella to your glob of greek yogurt and let them mingle a bit, you arrive at a marginally healthier take on Wonderful.
and that is pretty much all i've got for you right now. 'tis true, i'm hosting a tropical storm of weighty, swirly stuff in this heart-o-mine, but mostly it's half baked and too early to share. but soon.
have a beautiful thursday, my dears. thanks for sticking with me.
yesterday i woke to news that my grandma had died. we knew this was coming and knew she welcomed release from the struggle of failing lungs, knew she was looking forward to Jesus somethin' fierce. but there's a certain ache in being the left-behinds, and so we sob into bed sheets and showers and hold close the hope of all things made new.
she was the last of my grandparents, and i suppose it's common to have them gone by 35, but still somehow it feels too soon to me.
[my brothers and me with g&g neuenschwander, 1985. i have no explanation for the giant-ness of my head.]
my grandma was a quintessential farm wife: sturdy, resilient, warm. capable. she knew her way around a sweet roll and a sewing machine. she remembered everyone's favorite pie. she was quick to laugh at herself, worked hard and expected the same from us, brought my brothers and me the tiny eggs from the chicken house, loved to read.
she was funny and opinionated and i miss her already.
on the flip side, my gorgeous little niece arrived last week. kinsley katherine. pretty sure i could inhale her warm squeaky babyness for all the rest of ever.
and this is neither here nor there, but i was downright floored by the valentine box my zee just constructed. the kiddos make these boxes to collect valentines at school, and usually they consult my creative expertise, but zee is very eleven and Full Of His Own Ideas.
his initial plan was to hollow out a log, but as we're not exactly big on wood hewing skills in our family, i thought this route could end badly. so his second plan was to scrape pieces of bark and moss from our woodpile out back and glue them to an oatmeal container. i wasn't exactly encouraging (i believe my exact words were i'm not sure how well that's going to work), but luckily he is not easily dissuaded, because take a gander at this:
i know, right? that thing is beautiful. he should never listen to me again. except for mostly he should, but clearly not that time.
anyhow, the silver lining to losing grandma is my parents and brothers will fly in from oahu tomorrow. i think the last time we have all been together (in our full-bloomed craziness) is four years back. it'll be good to have them near again.
thankful today for:
206. rhubarb pie 207. family 208. friends who help you pick out ties 209. cheryl, who cries with me 210. girl scout cookies 211. mom owens, who bolsters with words and prayer (and the milano cookies don't hurt either) 212. the way a solid night's sleep can change my vision 213. peace enough for this day
mondays are for laundry, pre-k homeschool, menu planning and groceries. hammering jewelry, big kid homework, softie dolls, library, post office, dinner.
it helps if the sky is streaming sun, and if you have a child within earshot drumming up songs as he stamps snails on his rectangle of paper ('i wanna be...dora. i wanna be...sponge bob. i wanna be...ice cream. i wanna be...sunday school. i wanna be...aunt kindra. i wanna be...lowercase q.')
our weekend was a mixed bag: you had your stare-downs, your excellent company, your occasional one-child mutiny. plus also you had this:
indoor s'mores. the name pretty much explains everything. (recipe here, and you kind of have to squeeze your eyes shut so you don't see the boatloads of butter that take part in these gorgeous fellows. it's alarming. and delicious.)
number 19, ms jennifer shults, you are my girl. (and thank you all for your bolstering comments...elle seems to have taken to her new 'do, and little em's pleased as punch with his burgeoning reading skills.)
and all this talk of hope got me thinking how this mothering business plays tricks on your heart. i can go to bed frayed and spent and convinced my child will still be screaming his tonsils out forty years down the line, but then today comes. and i wake and tell God in the shower how much i need him, and ask for the energy to be on my boy's side one more time.
and He supplies. and i am. and grace pours over the whole fractured mess till i can't make out a single split or seam.
continuing the list of thankfuls:
-honey soap -lori, darcy, mom, crystal, lisa, shannan, aunty c and so many of you who are praying for strength and miracles -towels worn soft -skeletal trees -expectancy -guava jam -and an almost-here niece (hurrah!)
so much to share with y'all this week. first off, my boy is reading. this kiddo is big on smarts, and he's honestly been ready to tackle simple phonetic books for a few months now. i held off till last week, sensing this would fall squarely into the category of i don't so much feel like doing that, so i'm going to sit here and be cute and helpless until someone else does it for me. we did this plan for two long days and then he decided to give it a whirl and read the whole book in one go.
he's brilliant and exhausting and i'm wildly proud of him.
also, this here kid got a haircut.
the story goes like so: once upon a time there was a girl who begged for her hair to be cut all the way up to here, except that when her mom finally caved, the girl moaned all weekend about how she didn't actually want it that short and also she looks like a boy and i can't seriously expect her to show her face in school attached to this haircut.
i told her a story back: it will grow. the end.
also also, our dear friends mike and erika, who sweated next to us in that ethiopian courtroom all the way back last may, are finally, finally, beautifully bringing home their sons. oh how we've ached for this day. and binyam is home and shonda's been cleared to go get her boy and my heart is so swollen it's about to kick out all those other internal organs just for room.
meanwhile, i've been stocking my etsy shop with softies and art prints and a few new jewelry pieces, and it hit me that it's been eleventy billion years since i've done a giveaway.
which brings me to the next item on our docket: a giveaway. i am awfully fond of this latest piece, a tiny little circle of hope, hammered and polished and paired with a pearl. here's the 411 on this guy: during the past couple months, no matter how the day prior ended, we've risen each morning with this irrepressible bloom of hope. and though the mister and i clearly still have moments of weariness and frustration, we're working to make our kids feel safe and loved because this is our part to do, our offering. and no matter how it all shakes out down the road, we'll wake up and do it again.
vaclav havel said it well: hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. it is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
so, could you use a reminder to choose hope? or do you know someone who could stand to know you're hoping alongside them? leave me a note in the comments below and i'll drop your name in to win this necklace.
entries close sunday at midnight (2/5).
and whether or not you win this guy, here's a boon for y'all who read my drivel blog: 20% off any purchase from my shop, now through sunday. use code 70PIGGIES when you check out.