Friday, July 30, 2010

Yard sale

I wonder how many other moms have ever cried on the way to the bank the eve of a yard sale. Yesterday the girls asked me if they could play with a toy before I sell it. I wondered what kind of thoughts are going through their minds, at the same time amused that toys previously forgotten suddenly gain new favor with a fifty-cent sticker on it. Remembering the hopscotch I bought Lanie when she was three that we played over and over, and the cute little winter snow bibs and coat that made Erin look so bloated she couldn't move. I know it's just stuff: the baby gates, the crib, the highchair and strollers. All of it, stuff. Yet somehow it seems the memories behind them are getting packed up as well now that visual triggers are being sold.

A friend told me she felt quite the same as she packed up her parents' things for charity after her father had died and her mother moved to a smaller home. 

Not looking too closely at what's piled all around me, lest I am tempted to assign too much sentimental value. I ruthlessly stuck cheap prices on things to move it out. Downsizing our lives, and reassessing our now. Hoping for traffic, and endless coffee cups.

Monday, July 26, 2010

One thousand gifts (892-904)

892. A white flowering Crepe Myrtle.
893. Restless Lanie and a moonlit walk hand in hand.
894. Night sounds.
895. Deep sleep.
896. Watching Erin jump, jump, jump and move, move, move at Vacation Bible School this week.
897. Fingerprints to wipe off walls ... sort of wishing I could leave them there.
898.Walking wounded.
899. Gabriel.

900. Shane--and how he went looking for Gabriel to bring him home for dinner.
901. An evening meal with a lovely family from the co-op.
902. A painted office.
903. A nearly cleared calendar for the week to get our attitudes readjusted and routines reestablished.
904. Worship in the last row, on a crowded Sunday morning.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Strong, silent type

Shane's been working overtime around the house. He recently finished adding trim around the windows. Today he painted my office a color called Toasted Marshmallow, which looks nothing like it sounds. As he put the furniture back, he stubbed his big toe on the desk. I saw him sitting on a chair in the kitchen.

"You done?" I asked.

"I stubbed my toe," he said. I made a wince face. "It bent the toenail back half way down. It's bleeding."

He never made a sound. If it had been me, you'd have heard it!

Office freshly painted and windows trimmed.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


My kids were a wreck yesterday from a week of VBS, fights in the backseat over songs and singing. I wondered what possessed me to go to the store at the (almost) dinner hour, for this task, with the kids.

I grabbed some color samples at The Home Depot. Shane insists on painting this weekend, and if I don't pick the colors, he will. The girls and I were about to leave the store when an old man approached us. High fives to the kids. He said he had fourteen sisters. He was one of twenty-two. I wondered why he sought me out.

"I bet it was fun with such a large family." I didn't know what to say, not having a large family and not coming from a large family. I wondered why he was still walking near me. Why was he sticking with me? And I sort of wanted to get on with this day's end, but inside me I knew I had to stop. I knew he wanted me to stop. He smiled faintly.

"It was nice growing up. But it is hard when they start dying. A lot of people never think of that part of a large family." His eyes filled with tears.

He turned to the kids. High fives again to the girls. Peek-a-boo with Erin. He asked their names. He told us his: Gabriel--he made a trumpeting motion, made a sound like a horn. And he told me so much more: that he'll be turning eighty this year, and he moved here (to the states) in the 1950s when he was twenty-five, and how everyone in his family said he was so lucky--but he didn't feel lucky, and he's got daughters and four grandsons.

And his wife died recently.
He's depressed.
He wants to die--and he told me so, plainly.

We stood there together wiping tears from our eyes. People passed by. I saw a friend of a friend there. She looked at us quizzically. A man I've lived next door to for eight years walked by ... he was buying light bulbs. Yet in fifteen minutes, I connected more deeply with and knew more about Gabriel than the other two. I looked deeply into his tearful eyes. Held tightly to his hand. Hugged him.

He thanked me for listening. I held his hand tighter still, "I will never forget you, Gabriel."

I can't stop thinking about him or how his almost eighty-year journey brought him to a day where we'd meet at The Home Depot and he'd tell me about his broken heart. And I wonder if I will ever see him again.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Week end

Finishing up the last day of VBS with the kids. Erin was a scene stealer at last night's family performance--even jumping out of her seat out of turn to dance and sing with an older group of kids on the stage area. Jump, jump, jump; move, move, move! She had a blast this year.

I thought I'd have a lot more to show for myself for having gained several extra hours of mom time this week while the kids were away. So far, I haven't touched any of the yard sale stuff for next weekend's sale (yeah, finally picked a date!). But I did get in some reading and tidying and talking.

And writing. Over at 66 Books today. 

As for Super Surprise Friday, I've had to put that on hold. Our days really have had some form of excitement or fun involved--and sometimes too much of a good thing doesn't cultivate a thankful heart.
This weekend, painting, cleaning, dinner hosting and a birthday party.

Monday, July 19, 2010

One thousand gifts (878-891)

A weekend of surrender, I think.

878. Choosing humility.
879. Words that judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
880. Cleaning bathroom tiles.
881. Risks.
882. Great teachers--people I admire for their character and example. Mentors, all.
883. Coffee.
884. Tears.
885. The computer technician in Manila who got me back online.
886. Flip flops.
887. A phone call from my sister Tracey.
888. Reese's Magic Shell.
889. Unscheduled days.
890. Kristine.
891. Peace, and the pursuit of it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chicken nuggets and French fries

One night over complaints I received from the kids because of the dinner I made, I said, "There's no way we can go on a fun vacation if you're not trying new foods. I can't eat chicken nuggets and French fries for a week!"

My mind ever searching to find ways to get my kids to eat new things, I devised our own 12-step plan. For every new food serving a child eats, it's one step closer to a fun vacation. I traced each child's foot and made twelve steps for each one on construction paper. And every time one has tried a new food, I write the name of the food on the respective child's "step."

So far, we have been quite successful. Every night, I try to make sure there's a new food to sample and I put a veggie plate of sliced, raw veggies for the kids to help themselves (and fill bellies if they aren't interested in the night's dinner). And I also try to rotate these meals so that new foods tried can be eaten again.

"You might as well start trying new foods. Joe's not going to have chicken nuggets and French fries at his wedding," I said as both encouragement and warning.

We went to Massachusetts for Joe and Laura's wedding last weekend. I wondered how my kids would respond to the dinner being served: family style dishes of sauteed squashes, pastas, beef, and potatoes. But as each server placed plates in front of the guests, child places were skipped. Minutes later, the servers returned with special plates for the kids in attendance. Their menu: chicken nuggets and French fries.

I could only laugh.

I'm sure Lanie wrote that one down in her thankful journal!

Monday, July 12, 2010

One thousand gifts (847-877)


An achy back that went away.
A sunny day road trip up the coast.
A wedding day.
A little girl who gave away a silly band to her brother the morning of his wedding day.
And the brother who wore the band while he said his vows.

Chicken fingers children's dinners. 
Safe travels.
A cozy inn, a bedroom fireplace, and the faded scent of wood smoke.

Musicians in Boston Commons who carry around child-size violins--the kind man who shared his love of music with Lanie.
Candlelight on tables.

A baby kitten.
Foam Pit

Summer showers and storefront awnings.
Brick walkways through city streets.
Sprinkles on donuts.
The friendly redhead who made my frappuccino.
Backseat car-ride naps.

Oh yeah, and Panera on the back roads home.
The smell of home.
A clean kitchen.
A card game with the kiddos.
Dusky bedtime cuddles.

Swan Pond

Big pizza

Lakes scattered along the highway.

Displays of honor

Family trees


Privilege seating

Thank you, God.

Monday, July 5, 2010

One thousand gifts (832-846)

832. Asparagus.
833. Self-control. And the many opportunities to practice it.
834. Trimmed windows.
835. Good books.
836. Weeds to pull.
837. Purple stained fingertips from blueberry picking.
838. A country drive and the smell of home fires burning on a chilly day.
839. Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
840. Windows open around the dinner table.
841. Party invitations.
842. Plum cakes.
843. Blackened street feet of children running through the neighborhood barefoot.
844. Giggles from a three year old while washing her street feet in the sink.
845. Paper prayer rock with a child's name written across it ... and the sensitive heart of a seven year old.
844. A clean office space.
845. Facebook chats.
846. Freedom.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Any given Friday

Fridays start quietly. A big cup of Hazelnut decaf with enough milk added to make it quickly drinkable. Followed by a cup of full-force caffeine. Twilight morning is a jewel of my time ... summer birdsong, breaking rays, sweet coffee, and quiet soul. Not long after I press publish, I sit and think on words when Bolt lands on the foyer in front of the office. A tattered baby blanket follows. Little feet thump and thump down each step, and a cuddlebug finds her way into my waiting arms for morning hugs and kisses.

I love Fridays.

Writing today over at 66 Books.