Apr 30, 2013

The Faith of a Child....

Do you remember the movie The Santa Claus, with Tim Allen?  It was my favorite Santa Clause movie of all time.  What I loved about it was that anything that had to do with Santa Clause just happened.  It was magic.  Whether you believed it or not, whether you tried to figure out how it could be, none of this mattered at all.  It just happened.  It was magic.  You could count on it even if you could not for the life of you figure out "how" or "why".  You had to move with it and deal with it anyway, because it was going to happen, due to it being magic.
It was a great lesson in faith, to me.  When it comes to God, and faith, it doesn't matter whether you believe it or not, or whether you can figure out the "how" or the "why".  It just happens.  Because it's God.  Faith is counting on it anyway.
It is nothing more than having the faith of a child, which we have all mastered by the time we are a year old.  Why do we have to make it more complicated than that?  That would just be a waste of time.
"For one who believes, no explanation is necessary.  For one who does not believe, no explanation is adequate."  Who said that?  I forget, but it's still the truth anyway.
Children just believe, without worrying about the details.  We should take a lesson from them.
For me, wi-fi is a good example of this.  To me, it's just magic.  I cannot for the life of me figure out how it works, but it does.  It's just like magic to me.
Here is a recent slice of an evening spent with my favorite "widdle big kid", Abigail Lea, that brought this all back to me.

Abigail and I outside looking at the moon.  
Our voices floating down the street, where I hope we are not disturbing those already in bed. 
 Looking at the moon.
I mention how amazing the universe is and how God made it all.
Which brings her to a question that has been rolling around in her head for awhile.

"Hey, where is God at?  He has to be somewhere...."

*skips a straight line where the driveway meets the lawn, leans down and looks inside the jonquil leaves, alternately bringing her hands up like a pirouette,  then swinging them down so that one brushes along the leaves of the jonquils, feet moving continuously, landing daintily, coming down so assuredly, dancing a straight line that leaves me amazed*

"He's everywhere, all the time," I reply.

"Is He here?  In front of me?  I can't see him."

*Waves her hands in the air,as if she can conjure up God in front of her, (perhaps she can).  Looks down, ruffles the jonquil leaves, looks up, spins around, stops because we are at the end of the drive, turns around looking at the sky.  Giggles.*

"Of course not, silly, He's not a human, like us, He's a spirit, you have to feel him in your heart.  Can't you feel how much He loves you?"

*She closes her eyes, lifts her arms up over head, and says "Yes!  I can!  He loves me more than the moon and the stars!"

The same as her mother and I.  Go figure.

*starts the skip back, now with the other hand brushing the jonquil leaves, dancing all the way.  I can almost hear the angel wings around us. She is a sprite dancing, 

a fairy flitting,

 perfectly magic, 

all things good and pure, 

happy, beloved, safe*

We stop at the end of the porch.  She turns around, waves.

"Good night, moon, good night, stars."

She dances ahead, leading me, her faithful companion, in for the night.

We have our routines.

  It's time for bed, and (more) prayers.

Right before she drifts off to sleep, though yawns, she assures me that of all little girls who have loved me, she loves me best, and always will.

I tell her that's just how God loves us, always.

Apr 27, 2013

Rosie Posie Girl.....

So Rosie is now 7 months old, sitting up and happiest in the middle of all the action.

I kiss you back!  I mark you with my bodily fluids! Muahahhahahahah!

She has the funniest way of looking up at you when you hold her, as if she is checking to see whether she knows you or not.  She knows me, and once she realizes it's me she grins all over herself. Then I give her 1,000 kisses all over her neck as fast as I can.  She likes it!

Yes, I let you kiss by kissy cheeks, nice lady who doesn't think I should be put down.

I had a little trouble during the time I had both girls by myself.  The angel showed up unexpectedly to cut some limbs for me, bringing his two dogs. His two dogs are the mother and brother to my own, so I had two small children, two big children of my own, an angel with a chainsaw and 4 dogs running in, around, and through the house for awhile.  Remember when I said I'd relaxed about how clean, or unclean, my home is all the time now?  Well, it's here to stay.  At one point I was holding the baby, sitting at my kitchen table, and one dog or another would come in and either stay or go back out, Abigail was having the time of her life with her "big boys" in the backyard, and I thought, "this is all right!"

It all worked out fine and then I couldn't get Miss Rosie Posie to go to sleep.  She wasn't cranky or anything, she just wouldn't go to sleep and I couldn't put her down and Abigail was only going to be entranced in a movie for so long.  So I strapped that baby in the car and drove around for about 20 minutes. When we got home she was almost out, but she had this thing she does where she leans forward.  What she is leaning toward  I do not know, but she's going to have a great set of abs at the very least.  I rocked her a little more and she let go completely.  I laid her down in the cradle and then I went in announced that she was asleep for the night and Abigail and I did the happy dance.  It came right back to me, just like riding a bike.  That gave us time to watch a movie together, which we do in bed, eating popcorn and drinking juice or tea.  She always announces that she doesn't get to do this at her house because "mommy doesn't like messes".  I tell her it takes a long time to get over hating messes and her mommy isn't nearly old enough for that yet. ;)

The next morning Rose and I were up early, getting along just fine when she gave me *that look* sitting beside me in the corner of the couch.  I know *that look* and so I picked her up.  It must be very hard to poop when you are sitting on a couch, don't you think?  Sitting on anything, actually.  Once I picked her up it really got to going faster.  We were in it together, I felt her pain, I told her she wasn't alone.

Soon I felt the dreaded blow out diaper leaking through her back, onto my arm, and then on my front, onto my chest.  It kept right on coming faster than I could find anything to absorb it. I started for the bathroom and it started dripping off my elbow!   Frantically I rolled my robe up to try and contain the hot, pungent mess as I raced down the hall to the bathroom.  Down went the baby onto the bathmat!  Off came any and all clothes that either of us were wearing, I rolled it all into a huge ball with nothing showing on the outside, and into the shower we went!

I had told her mother the day before that I would probably just take her into the shower with me.  Her mother said she didn't know if she would like that because she had never been in the shower before.

I am here to report that she liked it just fine.  Whether this is because she was covered in hot, stinking, radioactive teething baby poop or because we had bonded and she had decided she could trust me, I couldn't say.  Probably a little of both.  She didn't make any sounds when she was pooping and she didn't make any sounds in the shower. She seemed to be in her happy place, in fact.  I cleansed her off, talking to her the whole time.  I said I didn't know WHO had pooped in her pants but they better never do that again!  I rinsed and then I lathered up and then I rinsed her again and she seemed to enjoy it!

I washed her off, heart in my mouth, remembering the different holds, turning her, alternating the holds, and then sat her in the back, out of the spray where she had a ball trying to grab the shower curtain while I washed myself.  I don't know why I was so afraid, I've taken MANY showers with many babies, and never come close to dropping one yet.  I think it's just that I've lived long enough to learn that it can be dangerous to be over-confident.  Not to worry, though. I still got it!

After that it was just a short time until we had to go meet their mom.  I was both looking forward to, and dreading that.

Abigail said her legs were hurting and she needed to stay with me a lot longer.  No, she couldn't get up.   She couldn't feel her legs.  I dressed her like I used to "when she was a baby" and let those two little girls spend as much lazy time as possible in Mimi's bed.

My new favorite sight.

The others babies that love my bed.

This is how she looks when I kiss her head.  I am behind her doing just that here.  This child saved me in a way.  She came along just as I was about to lay on the couch forever and let it all slide.  For her I got up, and my small part of this world has been so much better, ever since.

When we met their mom, she was impressed that Rosie tracked me with her eyes.  What can I say? She's a sound judge of character and she knows who loves her.  After that blow out diaper, there really could not be any doubt.  Only she and I know just how awful it really was.  When I got home and looked at the sweet little pink sleeper imprinted with rosebuds that was soaking in the sink, the stain went from one ankle to the armpit on the other side.  It was EPIC!  Epic in a horrible but memory-setting way!

Only you know and I know, my Rosie Posie girl. ;)  Well, and now the internets.  I beg your pardon in advance, for when you are 11 and can read and get mad at me for this.  

I also had a great idea.  I've always read in books about taking out stains with club soda.  I had never tried it, but I did have some Ginger Ale from making awesome waffles, and I figured I would soak the acidic stain in the greatest antacid known to man.  IT WORKED!  The stain came out.  I was so excited I called her mother who said "Oh, she's about to outgrow that size anyway."

Took the wind right out of my sails, I tell ya, but still, at least now I know.  And now you know too!

It took me a week to catch up on my rest and everything that *must* be done around the house, but it was so worth it.

Until we meet again, my sweet girls.  Next time I promise to schedule a lazy morning in there. Some things you have to make time for, and some things just can't be hurried, especially when you can't feel your legs.

Apr 21, 2013

Welcome to Blogland, Patty Miller!

This is a post to welcome a new blog to the land and to my blog list.

Please check out my dear friend's new blog at

She has been a beacon throughout my entire adult life. She was my first boss, and remains one of my idols.

I don't even know who I would be without her.

After not talking for years, as mother's tend to do when their babies are "growing out from under them" (her words, spoken circa 2004 or thereabouts), I called her up out of the blue and the depths of a depression that was just seeming to lift.
I was astounded to learn that she had 
1) retired  (WHAT?!)

2) survived breast cancer (WHAT????!!!!!)

3) felt called by God to do something more for Him than running production facilities, so she became a part time minister at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Moberly.  (OH!)

She's that kind of woman.  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.....there is simply nothing that she can't handle.  She is human, though, and now ready to broadcast her awesomeness to the world.  At least the parts that have the internets.

Needless to say, we had a lot to catch up on.

She's 10 feet tall and bullet proof, in my opinion.  She will deny this.  It's part of her awesomeness!

Her husband's just as good and I have loved her boys since they were practically babies!  SOB!

Can't wait to see what she does next!  Check her out and get in on all the good stuff!


Apr 17, 2013

Iheartradio, we need to talk.....

One of the things I have done to take back control over my life is limit what I listen to in my daily life.  I turned off the news years ago but was still surrounded with some very strange stuff that also made me crazy on the radio.  So I started being very careful about where I keep my dial tuned.  It has improved my life dramatically.  Actually, that's an understatement.

One of my favorite things in this battle is It's a free music service, where you give them a general idea of what you like and they just keep throwing stuff at you to judge whether you like it or not. If you like it, it plays again. If you don't like it, it never plays again.  I mean never.  The best part, though, is that there are no commercials or idiot DJ's to make you crazy.  In case those things have that affect on you, that is.

Everything was going really good until I decided to "make" a station called Orleans, after the soft rock group you may or may not remember.  Whether you remember them or not, I'm sure you know the song Still The One.  This is a basic idea of what I was looking for.  I guess because they were popular in the 70's, the powers that be go by the genre and the time period to throw more stuff at you.  If you are picky about your music, this may make you crazy anyway.

I had always known was picky about music, but I like so many different kinds that I doubted this would be much of a problem.  Always the optimist, that's me.  Not really, just seeing if you are paying attention. So I "made" my Orleans station and it threw out the Bee Gees, Bob Seger, Gordon Lightfoot, Van Morrison, Carole King, the list goes on, but all were good with me. I "liked" them all.  THEN it started throwing Linda Rondstat at me.  I down arrowed her.  The first time I didn't think much about it.  But it kept throwing more at me.  I down arrowed them ALL and I realized a couple of things.

1)  I am not a Linda Rondstat fan.  I never knew this before.  She can sing, don't get me wrong. She has a great voice and great control. It's just that her songs........well, her songs get on my nerves.  All of them.  You have to be in a certain mood for almost all of them.  They are all so intense, they wear me out.   Take You're No Good, for instance, please! Been there, done that, done WITH that, quite your whining, Linda, suck it up and move forward like the rest of us have. Probably your friends and family knew it all along!   I guess I'm just never in those kinds of moods anymore. I lack the energy and have learned that this, too, shall pass.  But Iheartradio did not seem to be getting the hint.  It's not about the songs, it's about the artist, and I am here to tell you, Iheartradio, I am not a fan of Linda, so you can quit putting both herself and I through this embarrassing rejection.  Enough already!

Which leads us to:
2) that there were only about 3 women who were even singing (successfully) at that time.   Besides Linda (cringe) and Carole King (give her to me all day long) they started throwing Melissa Manchester at me. Now, I had actually forgotten all about Melissa, who also can sing very well, but does not "do" it for me. Never did, never will.  I may have forgotten about her, but I can say that I never even knew she sang so many songs!  I was exhausted before I got them all down arrowed, and in desperation I just "made" another station.   It turned out pretty much the way you would expect.  Some good, a whole lot of bad (at least to me), and a few that I had forgotten about.  You might be saying "Couldn't they have thrown in some Heart?" Good idea, just a few years too early.  

The worst thing is that never, NEVER do they play some of the best songs that an artist ever did, if they were not commercially successful.  Take Jackson Browne, for instance. I "made" a Jackson Browne station, but do you think Sky Blue and Black ever came up?  Maybe Fountain of Sorrow?   NO! Know what did?  Lawyers In Love! GIVE ME A BREAK IHEARTRADIO!!! I KNOW YOU ARE JUST A BUNCH OF KIDS GOING OFF TOP 40 LISTS AND HAVE NO IDEA WHO HE EVEN IS!!

So, now that I have outed Iheartradio, and every other music program I have tried, I will give you some advice: ITUNES, baby!  Go to Itunes, find your music, and it is there for you forever. You can make playlists or play it anyway you want, all day long.  Yes, you have to pay for it, but only once and it is WORTH it!  You can also make any kind of CD you want once you have the music.  My boys have memorized their favorite CD's of mine, whose titles are "Trip To The Zoo" or "Summer 2010" or "Mellow" or "STRAIGHT UP ROCK" or, more sensibly "The Mills Brothers".  OK, not the Mills Brothers.  If you are below the age of 50 I doubt you even know who the Mills Brothers are and I will tell you that they won't be found on Itunes.  They are probably a bunch of kids also.  You have to go to Youtube for The Mills Brothers, but it's free and they are a classic.

What I will say for Iheartradio is that it's a nice change, if you work in a metal building and all your radio will pull in is the local station that is nothing but Top 40 (or perhaps 20) syndication.  That crap about drove me to riot in the streets before I took control and got back in charge of what my head was filled with.  The twins still want to listen to that station, and any time I turn it on, they automatically start singing along, no matter what song is playing, like Pavlovian dogs.  It's kind of scary.

I still felt kind of bad about it until I heard a commercial, when the twins were in the car, by a very deep voice telling us all about the wonders of testosterone enhancement.  I don't know who might need testosterone enhancement, probably older men?  But I was terrified that it might seem like a great choice for teenage boys.......  That was it for me. I know things are tough all over, but when you have to stoop to accepting money to run commercials like that (and I do feel for you, my brothers, but perhaps you could consider you programming?  Good programming could lead to better advertisers?  Just a thought.), you are on your own.  I am done mindlessly driving along while my blood pressure rises listening to bad music and worse life choices presented as if they are sane, which they are not, to people who don't even have enough sense to turn the station.  All this zombie talk is not about nothing, you know.  They are real, just not in the way they are being portrayed by the entertainment industry to part you from your hard earned dollars.   And they are everywhere!

I am frequently tuned into American Family Radio (AFR), found in this area at 91.5, which is Christian based talk radio.  There is no music here, but it's a really good source if you want to know what is actually going on in the world as opposed to who won on American Idol last night, which seems to be being discussed on *some* radio stations as if it were actually news.  Perhaps, to some of America, it is.  If you would like to give it a try you might want to prepare yourself beforehand, depending on where you usually get your news.  In any case, I can pretty much guarantee that you will be aware of things at least 2 weeks before the so-called "press" mentions them, if ever.  Oh, and your children will never hear anything you wish they wouldn't. I promise!  At night they often have sermons that just last about 30 minutes.

One evening, I turned it on as I was making my piles of bills to go through, and I just sent up a prayer that consisted simply of "Lord, you know my needs".  I sent that prayer at the same instant I turned on the radio, which was turned to AFR, and I immediately heard a deep voice with a Texas twang say "and stay tuned for our next segment on What To Do When Thinking About The Future Is Making You Depressed".  I laughed out loud and looked up and was floored because that was exactly what my "need" was at that moment!  Sometimes I feel like He doesn't answer prayers, but this time there really could be no doubt.  I was so very glad that I had heard that instead of a song about some kind of sexual practice or other!

That is how low the bar has fallen, folks.  If you haven't faced that yet, I suggest you listen closely to what is constantly playing in the background of your world.  It's the background of your life.  Choose freely but choose wisely.  Especially if you have kids.

UPDATE: The Epic Weekend

I will have words to go with this soon......and more pictures.  Bad pictures, but pictures.  Photographer needed.  Faint of heart need not apply.

UPDATE:  Last weekend my bonus daughter came with my two pretend grand babies.  It was so nice having them!  One of the things that meant to most to me was when she asked the boys about their homework.  Then she made them drag it out, asked for their notes, and fired up her laptop to try to figure out how in the world they were supposed to get the answers for Algebra.  She's going to be a teacher and you should have seen her in teacher mode.  Her cute little outfit with a pretty scarf around her neck, her 7 month old nestled beside her, teenage boys surrounding her as she takes supervision.  The teenage boys who have watched her grow as a mother and no longer tell her that they don't have to mind her, because she is not their mother.  One of them tried that once and she came right back at them, telling them that she was A mother and they better get ready right then because THEIR mother had told her to pick them up. It's so rewarding to see kids become adults in all the phases.  And funny! 

It did my heart good, and as everyone was occupied,  Abigail and I went to feed some  horses at a friend's house.  We fed the horses and then Abigail started skipping along, following a cat. This led us clear around the pond with frequent heart stopping moments (for us older girls) as  the cat, followed closely by Abigail darted into timber on one side or to the edge of the pond on the other. 

This friend happened to be the one that had a boy within 4 months of The Rock Star and a girl six weeks before I had The Beautiful Redhead, so we are old partners in child rearing and supervision.  Even split custody, come to think of it.  Her children were the sweet things that ate the cold spaghetti on my birthday that year I was in such a horrible mood.

So you will forgive us if we were surprised at how one small 4 year old and a cat could exhaust us by the time we were only half way round the pond!
It's one of the mysteries our lives.

Abigail skipped and hopped and started to climb trees that had thorns all over them.  We meandered.  I had forgotten how nice it is to meander around, with no real plan and no time frame.  But before long we were meandering and she started darting around.  Much faster.  We had to pick up the pace substantially and it reminded me of an old Mills Brothers song, The Jones Boy.  I know it's a song about being in love, but it has just the right pace to illustrate our journey, which was turning into a rather longer one that we had bargained for.  She tried to climb through the fence because she wanted to go see the troll that my friend told her lived in the "tunnel" under the highway that was within sight from the pond bank.

That's when we decided to distract her by letting her throw stuff in the pond.  She started with grasses, worked her way up to sticks and had to be stopped when she started in on logs.  We stopped her mainly because we didn't want to have to jump in the pond.  We knew we could save her if she went in, it wasn't that. It was just that it was cold and we didn't want to have to deal with the dirty clothes, or any screaming that might be involved.  Small children can scream in an octave that paralyses me and I believe could break glass.  I noticed that little Rosie already has a delighted, very high octave sound that almost brings me to my knees.  As I get older I cannot hear my brakes squeal, apparently, but this sound comes through loud and clear.  God, could I trade this?  I would much rather be able to hear my brakes squeal and not hear this sound. Please?  I'm willing to give up something, it's an even trade, isn't it?

At this point we were marveling aloud at how this could stress us out so bad.
We decided it was because she wasn't ours.
It seems like more responsibility, somehow, crazy as that sounds when I say it out loud!  Back when the kids were our own we would have just figured on the dirty laundry, and them learning on their own to stay away from the edge of the pond.  It was just a part of our lives, then.  

We decided being older had it's advantages.

Once she saw some fish, we decided we should catch one.
This was looking good to us, also, I admit, since it would mean that we could corral her on the dock, not to mention rest for awhile.

Abigail is just at the age where every time she says something she acts it out.  Her eyes sparkle and she gets very animated and she puts her little (getting knuckles instead of dimples, no) hands up and uses them to enhance her story.  She has special effects!  If it's a happy story she ends it frequently by throwing her hands up, jumping, and twirling around. She also dances all the time now.  It's a combination of ballet and interpretive dance, it looks like.

 She was fascinated by the worms, leery of the hook, and just as impatient as her Mimi when it came time to wait for the fish to bite.  This is all part of my ongoing "nurture vs. nature" observation, ahem.
I want to take this moment to publicly claim the right, for both of us old gals, of Abigail's first fish.  It seemed to be, and I forgot to ask her mom later,  but we got pictures and I am claiming it.  We worked hard for this and we are good!  We didn't even let the line out, just dangled it far enough into the water so that we could see the fish bite.

It took us several tries and even more worms, at that, but Abigail was going to catch a fish if I had to hook it under the belly.  It was her destiny, with a little help from her Mimi.
One eventually bit enough for us to catch it the right way and I would give ANYTHING if we had pictures of  not just her face, but us old gals, too, because we were all SO HAPPY!  Abigail was laughing hysterically with her little fists right up by her face.  She could hardly contain herself.  Same went for us!
We showed her the fish.  It was a perch.  We showed her how to hold it, how it could hurt her, and even how it would flop around if you dropped it.  We didn't do that on purpose, it just happened and we made it part of the lesson.  We are good at that. ;)
She wanted to keep it and eat it for breakfast!  Well, it was just a baby, and we shouldn't have kept it at all, but the fish was put in a baggie so Abigail could show it off.
Our adventure was ended, but our memories were made.  Even somewhat documented!
Next morning it took me 3 tries before I remembered everything when I was packing them up to take them back to their mom.
I thought I was ready and Abigail said "Where's my fish?  Is it up there?"
I sighed, asked forgiveness in advance from her sweet mother, and went back for the fish.
Her mother was dismayed to see that we had remembered it, but took it like a champ.
The next day I got a text from her:  "Btw we left that fish in the car by accident and it stunk bad when we realized what the horrible smell was!! Lmao"
What a woman. She already has learned that some of the best memories are the ones that smell the worst!

I will do a part 2 for this about Rosie and  our time when we had to get up and go home and Abigail said her legs hurt, refused to get up, and said she needed to stay here for a long time until she was better.
I so love that child.  Can you tell? 
And the baby?  The one we named Adriana and call Rosie Posie?  We got some time alone too!  It was delicious!

Apr 12, 2013


I feel just like Erma Bombeck.

After cleaning the house in preparation to have two adorable little girls for a couple of nights, I had also cleaned out the refrigerator.  

Into the trash went the leftovers from a ham we had at Easter (mostly just the bone, which I will never give to the dogs because I'm afraid they will choke and die).  Into bed went I without taking out the trash.  I just totally forgot, as did both the boys.

When I got up this morning the dogs had rooted through the trash, as dogs will do when we forget and leave it out, and all that was left of the leftover ham was a bunch of tin foil pieces.

And we were running late as it was.

So we made a general "sweep" of the house and did not find any evidence of the bone.

The dogs treat bones completely differently.  Shadow destroys and devours every single bit.  Jack just gnaws on his and spends most of his time trying to keep it safe from Shadow.  This is all futile on Jack's part, as Shadow pretty much runs the show around here.  No one cares enough to argue with her.  Frankly, I want to be Shadow.  She is one of my heroes.

Whether the bone is hidden in some special secret place or has been devoured and might kill them remains unknown.

So when my girls get here tonight, I guess we will just consider this the Easter egg hunt we didn't have?  Oh yeah!  Let's go with that!  While we're at it, let's go with hoping there is no prize to be found!  And that the dogs don't die, of course!

You know, people are always telling me they don't know how I do it.  I don't know either, I just do it.  I have done things that I never dreamed I would do, I have done things I hope I never have to do again, and I have done many, many things that I couldn't even have dreamed up, should I have had the chance.   If there is some way of getting out of doing it, please contact me at once.


Apr 11, 2013

The "birthday" thing...or, Peace At Last

Birthdays.  How they change, one might even say "evolve", as we grow older......

Take my seventh birthday,  I remember this year in particular because I had gotten the idea (possibly from learning to read with Dick and Jane) that you got lots of presents at birthday parties.  LOTS!!  This year I did not consider the amount of presents I got "enough" and expressed my disappointment to my mother.  She quickly informed me that I was ungrateful and threatened to take away some of them immediately, which made me cry, which made her swat my bottom, which made us both have to take an exceedingly long time in the bathroom.  This made people curious, who then stared at me when I got out, (or so I was convinced), which upset me, which made my mother think I was pouting, which led to another "talking to", in which she did not swat me.  She verbally shamed me instead, teaching me two good lessons: Always be grateful and control your face because no telling what you will have people thinking..  One of these I have mastered.  
Not the last one.  
In any case, the day of my birth was already fraught with possible disappointments and control issues for me from that day forward.

The years between then and now have flown.  No, really.  Except for the years when I had small children, and I don't even remember those at all, so I'm not sure they even count.  If I don't remember them and there are no pictures to prove they happened  (because who, other than the mom, ever takes a picture?), they don't count, right? 

I remember my 38th, during which my mother was deathly sick with cancer, and I was in a very dark place.  Along came my birthday, (like I needed THAT!) and I was in a really, really bad mood.  I mean, dark, people, and I don't think I had said anything mean, but when I am in a dark mood I don't have to say anything.  People just know.  This year the only people around were my children and my best friend's children, who were almost exactly to the day the same age as The Rock Star and The Beautiful Redhead.  Such a dark mood was I in that I fixed spaghetti for supper (of course I had to fix supper) and I was in such a bad mood and not paying good attention that I served those children spaghetti with cold sauce that I had poured into the pan but never warmed up.  I did not know the difference until I sat down to eat, last (of course), and looked around at those precious kids who either loved me so much, or were so scared that I was going to kill them, that they had quietly and quickly downed that spaghetti, with COLD SAUCE, and were not going to say one word about it!  It made me feel so good (because they were such good kids!) and so bad (because I was such a horrible, scary, bad cooking biotch!) that I cried.  After I cried, which I should have just gotten out of the way and saved us all time, then we all laughed, once they knew it was safe for that kind of thing again, and I was so very sorry because I had temporarily forgotten the hard learned lessons of 7: to always be grateful and control my face!  And I vowed that I would never forget it again.

The next year I did much better.  Partly because it was my first birthday without my mother, partly because I had long ago gotten over the "birthday" thing, and partly because my 12 year old daughter, who did not cook, had made me an angel food cake.  I was so surprised and touched that I cried.   I asked her if she had gotten a box mix to do it and she said "I could have gotten a mix??????"  She has always been so wonderful like that, although she has never seemed to know it.  It's part of her charm, but mostly I was just so touched that she had thought about it and stepped in so that at least one year I did not have to make my own cake.  I do not like angel food cake, actually, and she didn't know that either, but if you don't think I ate that cake you would be greatly mistaken.  That was a good one. It's all I remember about that birthday, and it is enough.

A lot of birthday memories involving tears.  Tears of disappointment, anger, gratefulness, laughter.

Last week I celebrated my 48th.  I've gotten over wishing no one knew and I've gotten good at graciously accepting congratulations.  I gave up on wishes years ago, but this year I actually celebrated it for the first time in a very long time.

Sometime last winter I started feeling better.  Better than what?  Better than a tired, sad, jaded, cynical woman who would rather be hibernating.  I don't know if it's a hormonal change or just the end of deep grieving, and I suppose it doesn't make any difference.

Lately, I have been able to go out with friends and actually enjoy doing whatever we have done without wishing I could just go home after about 20 minutes.  This is like a miracle!

Just the other day it dawned on my that my wardrobe is comprised of dark, somber colors, as are most of the furnishings of my house.  There is a good reason for my clothes to be dominated by black, because I have wisely given up the struggle to eliminate black dog hair.  I've simply embraced it because it takes less energy that way.  Besides, I like black!  Black is always appropriate, it makes me look more streamlined, and it goes with everything.  I bought a new couch, which is black, but that's all right, not only because of the dog hair but because it matches my curtains.  Yes, they are black, but not all of them.  I have tan ones on the insides.  Black and tan.....not the color scheme of a happy person.

On Easter, I was marveling at feeling so alive and not viciously angry, and I had the strongest urge to put a pastel table clothe on the table and decorate.  This hadn't happened to me for at least 10 years.  Maybe 15?  I looked at my tablecloths and I have 2 in a burnt orange, 1 in what we called "maroon" in the 80's, and a plaid one in tones of maroon and burnt orange run through with a little gold.  I also have a green and white checked one which has been ruined by numerous painting jobs by the kids over the years, so I couldn't really count that one.

There I stood in my kitchen, in a good mood that had lasted more than 15 minutes, for the first time in many years, looking around and realizing that in the last 10 years I have literally been in mourning, and that I was not feeling that way anymore.   Even more than that, I hadn't been feeling that way for a while.....this lightening of mood seemed to be sticking around.  This, too, was like a miracle.

I mean, you guys, it was like a miracle!  All I could think was that maybe 48 wouldn't be so bad.  It felt like I had woken up from a deep sleep.  I had not been in a deep sleep, literally, but I was emerging from the fog (link included if "fog" is not another color here--technology is not my friend)  of grief that I had been in for so long.  Lately it has felt like the sun is shining through.  Lately I have gotten up and enjoyed days instead of just slogging through them so I could go back to bed.  Lately I have actually smiled for real instead of just doing it so people would go away and leave me alone.  Lately I have felt more like myself again.  When I first started to notice it, I thought it was fluke, but it's not going away.  It's lasted long enough now that I am cautiously optimistic that it is not a phase.

What I think is that, living through these times, like dealing with cancer, comes terror, resolution, and finally, a kind of peace.  The worst thing you could ever imagine has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen.  You know this, and you still are, still you, still here.   Is it not a miracle that you can wake up every day and thank God for that, even after you've had the worst news you could ever hope to hear?  Is it not an act of faith to keep slogging through the days, even if you are only pretending?  Is it not a miracle if, after slogging through many years, one day you feel alive again?

We have moved, as a country, to a place I never thought we would.  I don't like it, and I fight it every day.  But still I go on, singing with the radio, smiling real smiles, hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.  Of course I'm prepared for the worst, you don't get to be 48 without learning that it never hurts to be jaded and cynical!  Otherwise you would just be an idiot, or a celebrity.  I will also admit that I have gotten old enough to take the attitude that whatever happens, I will not be the one to have to deal with it for that many more years, let alone pay for it.  On my worst days I symbolically tell younger generations "Good luck with that!" and laugh, because I fell for that crap too, when I was their age.  But only on the worst days, which are farther and farther apart.

These days I am mostly calm.  It is a calmness born of 10 years in the fog of grief and in the rain of constant disappointment, complete with dreary, mostly black props, and the knowledge that as long as there is still breath in my body, come what may, I have to keep going until my job is done. These 10 years may have seemed boring to those looking in from the outside, but in here it has been time well spent deciding what I really think, wrestling demons to the ground (then jumping up and throwing my hands in the sign for touchdown!)  and working on my faith.  I have never been alone for one second and the work has paid off: I feel peaceful and clear eyed, and ready, come what may.  I don't doubt that the hard times are getting closer daily, but I just show up to serve and let God take care of the rest.

And that, my friends, is my plan for the future, however much of it remains to me.   But I am definitely getting a pastel table clothe, too.  Life is too short to live surrounded with dreary props.  Don'tchathink?