Mar 27, 2012

The Secret Of Life.....

I suppose that there as many 'secrets of life' as there are people, but for me it is learning to live in the moment.  One thing about getting older is you feel you have seen or heard about pretty much everything before, and you also know that most of the time, people will live through it and life will go on.  

I find it quite wonderful to be the one to say "There, there, dear, these things happen", rather than to be the one bawling and squalling and at the mercy of all the hormones running mercilessly through your body, along with the tears that seem to be your constant companion throughout your 20's and 30's.  I remember it as being just exhausting, even before I had children.  I must say, I do not miss it.   I find it quite hilarious to remember what I thought I needed to shield my mother and grandmother's from when I was younger.  As if they hadn't walked down that same road at least once and probably several times before.  What a waste!  It is the blessing and the curse of youth that one can be so self absorbed and completely unaware that it has all happened a million times before.  Well, they will learn.  A lot of it will happen to them, and they will live to tell the tale.  Not to anyone who will want to hear it, alas, but then that is what blogging is for.

This is what makes me glad to just be here, now, most of the time.  It was the lesson I learned while my mother was preparing to leave this earth.  When you find out that you ( or a loved one) have terminal cancer, and it's the worst thing you could possibly imagine, and you try to wrap your mind around that, you might think you would lose your mind.  You might wish you would lost your mind!  But no, you wake up in the morning and the world goes on.  You slowly come to realize that what is needed now is not frantic activity, but simple appreciation of the fact that you are alive today and look outside!  See what God has given you this day!  Feel the soft breezes, listen to the birds, the beauty of snow in sunlight can be mesmerizing.  It should be mesmerizing.  Whatever is going on in the world is going to continue, but so will the soft breezes, the birds, the snow and the sunlight.  This was my lesson and it became my mission for the rest of what remains of my life.  The trick is to appreciate what you have right now.  Spend time with quiet, and let yourself listen to God.  You might be surprised how much He will talk if you will just be quiet and listen to Him.  Talk about having seen it all before, you may have no idea....

I am back to regular life now that Abigail is gone this week.  My house is decidedly quiet with just two teenage boys, who keep looking around and letting the dogs in, as if it just seems wrong without someone to snuggle up with you.  It is wrong.  The dogs are in heaven.

I was thinking of all this last week, since I was on vacation with a 3 year old, I even took a vacation from the news.  I turned my back on it.  Was not speaking to it.  Did not care what happened.  You want to know why?  Because several times when I lost myself in such trivial details as cutting an orange into an even and perfect 8 slices, the sweetest little girl would come up and kind of melt into me, and say "Mimi?"

"Yes, my angel baby?"

" I luff you", she would reply, and I would lean down and swoop her up into my arms and I would rock her. She loves to rock, always has, and she likes Down In The Valley best, which I love also because I actually know all the words to several verses.  It is also incredibly easy to make up words if you forget, and they never know any different.  (wink wink)

And while I rocked her, (which I did a lot) I told her that even if she got big enough someday that I could not rock her anymore, she would never be too old to lay her head on my shoulder and tell me everything she  was glad or sad or mad about.  That she would never be alone.  That God was always with her even when she seemed to be all alone, and that there were so many people who loved her, even if they couldn't be with her all the time.

When we went to the park and she wondered where "all the people" were, (she is used to city living, poor thing, and seemed to be wondering where everybody was no matter where we went) and I caught myself worrying about whether today would be the day when Iran would finally achieve nuclear missiles and attack Israel once and for all, I looked down and saw this:
And made myself be here, now.

Instead of worrying about what my children's lives would be like ( they will only rent houses, never own, may possibly be led down the path of socialism and live like slaves, never be able to feed their children) I listened to laughter as I watched this:

And this:
And this:

When I told her she could pick all the yellow flowers out of the yard (dandelions), bless her soul, she filled up a whole little bucket!  She kept saying "These flowers are for the people!"  and I told myself that this was an extension of 'the people' she kept looking for everywhere and NOT some kind of socialist indoctrination delivered via some state funded daycare.  It's ok, her mother doesn't take her to daycare anymore.  She is running a daycare out of her home so that she can stay home with her children and I am so very glad to see the younger generation re-claiming the right to raise their own children.  They might have to fight for that right before long, but they are pretty tough and I have faith that they can win.
I told her we might be eating those before long and we laughed!  They all bloomed again the next day and she thought it was a miracle.  Who am I to say it wasn't?  Every day is a new day and so far the world is still here and there are children all around who would just LOVE to tell you some things if you will only listen.

I think it's the only way to save the world, not to mention America, which is kind of tied to the train tracks right now, not that I think you should let the stress get to you.  Breathe, just keep breathing and listening.   It is not rocket science, it just takes some time, which is still free so far.  Knock on wood.  We have to keep working at it one good deed at a time.  Is there a child unattended around your area?  Get to know them, you know some stuff, they can help you weed, rake, or burn leaves.  They just love to burn stuff!  They also like knowing there are nice adults around who listen to them, even when they don't think they have anything to say.  You will see their world through their eyes.  You will probably be amazed.

As I rocked, or picked flowers, or pushed her on the swing, I thought of the movie Finding Nemo.  Remember the part where they find the turtle and find out about the Gulf Stream?  They can't see it, but once they are in it, they can get where they are going much faster and easier.  You can't see it, but it's right there, and once you get in it you know it.  That is the secret of life, letting yourself be in it, having faith that it is there, right beside you, and all you have to do is let yourself find it, and it will carry you forward, to exactly where you are supposed to be.  It might not be where you thought you were going, but it will make you the person you are supposed to be.  With any luck, you will find it rocking a baby, but picking all the yellow flowers is good too.  Never forget to count your blessings, it's a great way of keeping things in perspective.  Spend quiet time listening, even if it's only to birds or the breeze.  

Just some advise from an old lady who doesn't know anything.  Wink wink.

Mar 21, 2012

Apron Strings

Last night I got my beloved Abigail Lea for 3 days and nights.  Immediately upon entering the house she caught sight of her apron and pronounced that it was hers.  I agreed.  She asked me to put it on her.  I did.  She wore it all night and then insisted on sleeping in it.  I thought this would be too confining, but danged if she didn't sleep in it and it was the first thing she thought about when she woke up.  Three year olds are amazing.  I happened upon this apron at the Salvation Army one Saturday and picked it up for 50 cents.  The ones I had were way too long for her, but this one was perfect and will be for several years, until she grows into mine. :)  You hardly see aprons anymore, so you have to pick them up when you find them!

She has the cutest little boots, which luckily coordinate quite well:
These boots, in addition to the apron ran down the water in the gutter for awhile this morning while Mimi was unconcerned about what time it was or whether anyone was getting dirty.

I took vacation for this and I needed it.  For three days I do not have to deal with government agencies or bill collectors illegally calling businesses in search of, well, who knows what.  Instead, I get to be Mimi for the next three days and do stuff like this:

Other than getting the boys to school on time and roughly feeding kids at least a couple of times a day, all I have to do is stuff like this:
And keep the apron clean, naturally.  Today it has already been washed twice.  The first time I told her to put it in the dirty clothes I discovered later that in Abigail's mind that is the dryer.  I found a couple of half-dry towels in the clean laundry basket TWICE before I figured out that she equated "dirty clothes" with dryer.  LOL  It made a certain kind of sense.
This was my view for most of the day.  We also made a pink lemonade cake with the same kind of icing, which was a big hit, and homemade pizza for supper.

From such simple things come peace and happiness for me.  A three year old child is old enough to give you a very good picture of what you are to them.  I think you have to get older before you realize that one of the best things you can ever be to a child is THE SAME.  

I think what Abigail loves here so much is that everything is always the same.  She will point to the sink and tell me that I used to give her baths there.  Which I most certainly did. She marvels at how small she must have been there, as she admits to not remembering it.   Then she says "I not a baby now, but I used to be."  Yes.  She is now a girl big enough for her own apron to catch soap suds, flying cake mixes, and tears.  She knows so much already and I know she is going to know so much more.  The most important thing to me is that she already knows where everything is in this house, what will happen here, and what will never happen here.

I will probably get in trouble from her mother, but tonight she was weaving some incredibly detailed story about how bad guys were after us and we had to hide. She wanted me to get up off the couch and go hide somewhere and this sounded like a lot of trouble to me.  So I told her there would be no hiding from bad guys in this house, pulled out an imaginary gun and shot the bad guys instead.  She thought that was a fine idea.  And honestly, I have to agree:  it does make a lot of sense.   Then she gave me a high five and told me we were the TEAM and we had WON.  Dang straight!!

Today I spent most of the day chasing apron strings.  Tomorrow, if it doesn't rain, we have a date with a pond and some horses.  Whether she will be wearing apron strings remains to be seen, but if she is I am sure it will come in handy.

Mar 12, 2012

What makes a good weekend?

It's pretty hard to ruin a weekend if you work.  Even if you don't work, and are a student, weekend's always rock, am I right?  Last weekend it was just me and the boys and the dogs, and we had a really great one.

Maybe it's the age I am, but a "good" weekend to me does not involve going anywhere.  Unless you just want to and have no time frame to have to stay within and no pressure to be anywhere by a certain time.  We get enough of that during the workweek, don't we?  I do.  My weekends are strictly my own, and the best ones often involve doing a whole lot of nothing.  I think we all need a lot more nothing in our lives.  The definition of nothing is not actually nothing, of course.  My definition is loosely what used to be considered "normal life" in an apparently isolated period that occurred during the 70's, for the most part.  During this time, at least it was my impression, "doing nothing" included taking care of your house, your yard, your children, and your soul all in one fell swoop.  This was before everyone started signing up their children for various and sundry classes, or sports teams, by the age of 3.  This was back when it was a long time until dark, no matter what time it was, because you didn't have anything to do until then but "play".  Your mother would call you in for supper, not on a cell phone, but by simply stepping outside and calling your name loudly, probably followed by "sup-per" and you would hear it, wherever you were, and you would go home.  Just like that.  No discussion, excuses or compromises, you just went home for supper when your mother called your name.  It was a brilliant system, dependent only upon the same people being in the same neighborhood from year to year.

What did we do?  Not much.  It has been beautiful here, after the winter that wasn't.  Friday night the twins wanted 2 other boys to spend the night.  I said sure and they did and the next day I was naturally the first one up.  I had this whole plan, what I have come to think of as "the usual" in mind.  "The usual" consists of dusting, laundry, sweeping, occasionally turning mattresses, raking leaves, drudgery, mostly, but normal life depends upon it.

I walked outside and it was----beautiful.  The first nice day we had had in recent memory that I would be able to actually see it, so I just sat there and made myself sit in the sun and enjoy the beautiful weather.  Then I went inside and started the washer on laundry, made coffee, and did a few dishes as the coffee dripped.  I felt my spirits rise, and it wasn't just the smell of coffee.

For some reason I just love being the only one up in the mornings.  I think it gives me a false but comforting sense of being in control, and with everyone wondering when the world is going to end these days (I'm not the only one, surely?) I try to cherish every moment of it, false or otherwise.  I made biscuits.  Real biscuits.  Easy as pie but I never take the time to do it anymore.  I made angel biscuits, that include yeast and light kneading, just because kneading bread comforts and calms me.  If you have never kneaded bread, you should give it a whirl.  If you have, you know exactly what I am talking about.  I was euphoric, and "the usual" was already seeming like a good thing to avoid on this day.

So I made biscuits, grabbed my coffee, threw the laundry that was in the washer into the dryer, grabbed my book and headed outside.  Glorious!  

When the boys got up I had biscuits ready and they even helped clean up.  A little.  Enough, because it was glorious outside and who wanted to be in the house?  Not us.  They spent the day trooping between all of our houses and the creek.  I spent it sitting in the sun letting the warmth seep into my bones and not feeling the least bit guilty.  The dogs spent it lolling in the sun on their backs and keeping me company as I did NOT rake leaves in the yard.

I threw a bag of chicken breasts in the crock pot with a jar of bbq sauce and some brown sugar and vinegar and planned on scalloped potatoes and steamed cauliflower, broccoli and carrots that evening, which during the week I never feel that I have time to do.  The entire house smelled wonderful all afternoon.

About the time the birds started chirping and the sun was getting very low in the sky, I went out and here came the boys trooping up the street.  They were sunburned and muddy, slightly in both cases.  They also were euphoric, not just because they hadn't dusted or vacuumed that day, but because they had spent most of the day on the creek.  

The creek is about a block and a half from my house.  They love to go down there and fish.  How much fishing gets done is anybodies guess, but they are 14 and old enough for such manly pursuits.  On this day they had decided they were an Indian tribe and everyone had picked an Indian name, known only to the others.  They had caught frogs, quite a few of them, and then built a fire on the sandbar in the creek and sharpened sticks to cook the frog legs with, and then dined upon what nature and their own wits had provided.  They were incredibly satisfied with themselves, as was their mother.

We had our incredible supper and went to bed happy.

The next day was the dreaded time change.  It was also raining.  I made coffee and decided not to get out of my pajamas for the entire day.  When they finally got up, the twins concurred.  We spent the day reading, watching movies and taking naps.  They also played video games, and I didn't care.  I felt I had been away from work for longer than two days.  That is priceless.

We can't go back to the days when we had more time.  We can try, but the world won't cooperate.  What we can do is take our time when we get the chance and make the very most of it.  Sometimes making the very most of it means doing very little, or only the bare minimum of what we usually hold ourselves responsible for.  We should not be so hard on ourselves.  A little time outside in the sun listening to the birds and the breeze and just breathing is not just good, but I think essential to our lives.

Make sure you make the most of the time you have while you have it.  It goes very quickly and you don't want all your memories to be of waiting in line for one thing or another.  Don't forget to make some memories at home.  They are the ones that will resonate the loudest.