Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Fort





"Oh, and I let the kids build a fort in the living room," Craig says, "just so you know." Flopped across the bed, leaned on an elbow, he's come to wake me. Encircling the kids in morning work, he'd let me sleep.

"Oh," I say. "Did they do their jobs?"

"Yeah, it sounded like they were doing them."

"Did you check."

"No, not yet."







Fort-land. It envelopes the living room, anesthetizes the mind, slackens responsibility. We wade out into tent-land. A trunk and a flock of stools hold up roofs of quilts. Chores fade and disappear, that mountain range of dishes far, far off in the distance.

"Um, why is the sink full of dishes?" I say. "Did you empty the dishwasher?"

"Yeah."

"Why didn't you put the dishes in?"

"I don't know."

"Oh."

"Five minutes," Craig says.







Tincel town collapses into the spare parts of living room life. Stools and quilts, a stack of books that held up a wall, the children scamper the planets of their universe back into innocuous life. Chores spring up and gain momentum. The cogs of life creak forward.

"Whose job is the sunroom?" I croak. I peak around the kitchen corner, an espresso basket of coffee in one hand.

"I got it," Jack says. "When I saw your face make expression when you looked in the sunroom," he says, "I thought, I'll just pick that up." He shakes his head, guileless, matter-of-fact.

"I appreciate that," I say.







"Yeah," he nods. Half out of the kitchen, arms laden with more books, he swaggers, carefree.

That night before bed, I find a blue sticky note in my bathroom.

Dear Momma,
     I love you more than ever now.
     Do we have a plan for tomorrow?
     Can I build a fort after breakfast?
     We will clean it up when we are done.
     When you wake up can I make harvest rolls?
     I love you.
     Good night.
                              Love,
                              Jane

Fort-land springs up, a new day dawning and collapses into the work of the day. A miraculous ebb and flow of pleasure pulses like a heartbeat.









Gratitude:

5612. For the first time since Betsy was born, this week gested at routine.

5613. Craig hides a chocolate bar by the toaster for me to find.

5614. Jack starts wrestling practice, pizza waiting for him at home the first night.

5615. Chocolate croissants.







5616. We navigate irritation and tranquility like troughs and peaks of the wide open sea. Peace and resolve settle over us all.

5617. We season lentils with new spices, gourmet.

5618. Cerissa sends over cookie dough balls with the peanut flour I bought.

5619. I listen to Tim Keller preach on the Lord's prayer. Adoration. Prayer takes flight.



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bedtime

Photo credit: Urban Rose




"I've been really liking First and Second Peter," Jane says. She flops an argyle rice bag into the microwave and closes the door.

"Really?" I say. "About the persecuted church?" Opposite my girl, I lean an elbow on the counter, a plate of peach pie balanced in my hand. I cut the triangle tip off the pie and eat it.

"Yeah," she says. She turns the microwave dial to three minutes, presses start. "I mean, I like listening to Revelation too. I'm just not sure I want to hear about bowls of wrath being poured out and then wake up sweating," she says.

I laugh. She grins. "When you're listening tonight, pick your favorite part, and then tell me about it in the morning," I say.

"Okay," she drawls. "I will." She blinks in time with a slow nod. I eat another mouthful of pie, peach almond filling warm and effusive. Bedtime, it's a three-step watlz with Jane and me.

I ask her in the morning, "So what was your favorite part?"

"Hmm, I can't remember," she says. "I knew before I fell asleep, but now I forgot."

"Oh. Well, listen again tonight," I say.







Then it's bedtime again and the liturgy of jammies and toothpaste. I change the baby. Jane pokes her head in.

"I remember my favorite part," she says, First and Second Peter ambling in the background.

"Oh, what is it?"

"Ahhm, hmmm, I just forgot. Wait," she stares up and to the right, "hmm." I watch her, undivided attention bunching up like a scarf encircling us. "Oh yeah," she says. "It's the part where it says if you are praying, you never have to be afraid."

"Oh," I say. "I like that. I don't remember that part." We nod. An umbilical cord of connection pulses for a moment. "That's really good," I say.

And with that a whole universe folds up like a paper crane between us. Bedtime ensues. Children tumble into bed.

Later, in mind's eye, that paper crane, I pull it out to trace again the folds of love.

If you are praying, you never have to be afraid.





Gratitude:

5603. Spices, the gift of spices. We restock the shelves of flavor.







5604. Jane finishes her stay as kitchen manager. Craig and I agree: we will miss all the pie.

5605. We experience again the special love of family and friends bringing us food and caring for our children.







5606. Betsy eats and sleeps like a champ.

5607. Craig and Jane brine and cook a 25 lb. turkey for the postpartum recovery.







5608. Joey samples my most expensive make-up with an electric toothbrush and a bottle of lotion. It's a total loss. Craig buys me new mascara so I don't have to go out.

5609. He runs all manner of errands, even those with the most exacting detail. Sometimes he comes home with chocolate.







5610. Mom makes our weekly talk date happen nary missing a beat.

5611. We pass the 15 year anniversary of our wedding engagement. Now more than ever, I'm convinced Craig can handle anything with strength and ease. We all lean into him.



Photo credit: Urban Rose

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Baby Betsy

Betsy Kate. 

On time. 

And perfect.























A new life.

Our gratitude overflows.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Messages

Photo credit: Urban Rose.




"Momma, Momma," Myra says.

I look up from pools of honey toast. "Hmm?"

"Did you know this looks BORING to me," she says. She gestures to a picture dictionary of the human body.

"What do you think BORING means?" I say.

"I don't know."

"Oh."

Wednesday, we read the BORING book. A careful perusal and she still mixes up brains and guts. They look the same.


***


Photo credit: Urban Rose.




Thursday breakfast. Tappity-tap-tap, tap-tap, Jane clatters the blinds. Tap-tap, tap, tap. Tap-ta-tap-tap --  ten-year-old intensity bound up in tappity-tap fingers.

"Jane," I finally unleash, "I can't bear that sound."

"I was seeing how long I could bear it," she says. We grin. Of course.


***


Photo credit: Urban Rose.




Friday nap time. Myra rouses Joe. "Joey, are you scared?" she says.

"Yeah," he says in post-sleep grog.

"You don't have to be scared 'cause Jesus is with you," she sing-songs.

He grunts the usual wake-up greeting, blankie over face.


***


Photo credit: Urban Rose.




Saturday haircuts. "I got a haircut," Joe wallops through the kitchen dressed in superhero skivvies. "I got a haircut, and I washed my haircut off with soap," he says.

"Joe, Joe," I say as I set dinner's burrito buffet. "Joe go tell Daddy. I love you," I whisper in his ear. He hugs my knees and gallops to the living room.

He trots a circle then flops on the couch. "Dad," he says, "Mom LIKES me." A brief pause, message delivered, he rolls to the ground, perpetual motion in flight. Landing half tritt-trot, he rolls on.

Message delivered: Mom LIKES me. Yup. The week distills and coalesces down to one single thought: Mom LIKES me. Our world pulls together like the laces of a shoe cinching up for flight.





Gratitude:

5594. Chocolate and hair ponies and grocery necessities all in one trip.

5595. Craig fixes a sink faucet, a shower faucet, and orders parts for another faucet fix. I never have to hire a plumber

5596. My dad replaces the cord on our space heater.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.




5597. Craig washes the car, then rallies the troops to clean out the inside.

5598. I commission Jane to be my kitchen manager for the two weeks after the baby is born.

5599. I knit another baby sweater in cream and mint green.

5600. We donate extra stuff to Goodwill and tidy up the sunroom.

5601. Everyone waits for the new baby.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Football

Photo credit: Urban Rose.




"Mom, I don't know if you feel the same way about football as I do," Jane quips from the back seat.

"Yeah?" I say.

"I mean, I like the idea of football, but I sort of get tired of watching the same thing over and over," she says.

I laugh, signal right, and ease into the far lane.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.




"I would kind of rather just get and update every time they score a point," she says.

"I know just what you mean," I say. Blue reflections of sky spread across the road, I whiz through a puddle. It sprays the front windshield.

"Dad's like, you have to see this great play," she says. "And I'm sort of like, hmm."

I nod, a giggle laced through my thoughts. Another right hand turn, then a left, and we pull up the driveway, home.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.




"Come on," I say. "Someone unbuckle Joey."

We pile out of the car, into the house, and sidle up to watch the football game. I pop huge bounding bowls of popcorn, and we laugh, and we cheer. And camaraderie springs up there between us. All that tackling and straining toward victory, and something better than football happens. We hold on to it like an invisible thread pulling us together.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.






Gratitude:

5586. Craig travels on a five day retreat with his team from work. Friday comes, and with it, him safely home.

5587. I knit away on a baby blanket, these restless hands busy and productive.

5588. The children surround me while Craig is gone.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.




5589. "I love this book," Myra says. "It's my best-friend-book."

5590. "Good job, Barry-Bear," Joe says and squeeezes Barry. "You're a good helper," he says.

5591. "Are lollipops fruit?" Lu wants to know. "Myra says they ARE."

5592. "How has your eye been feeling?" I ask Lucy. "I don't know," she says and looks at her palm, "I haven't been feeling it."

5593. Another week closes. Another week begins. The count down continues: we pass week 38.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Morning Time

Photo credit: Urban Rose.  




"Why were you pounding on the piano?" I croak.

Joe and Myra promenade around the end of my bed. "We were wanting to sing songs," Myra says.

"Yeah," Joe chimes, "we was. We was."

"Oh," I say.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.




They trip-trop out of the room like puppets on a string then parade back through, Joe in underwear, Myra in a sweatshirt and pink rain boots.

"I'm making eggs for me and you, me and you," Joe says. He points to me and him and me and him.

"We're making MUSTARD eggs," Myra says. "But I might need you to crack the eggs."

"Oh," I say. "Better get dressed. Joe go put some pants on."




Photo credit: Urban Rose.




He wriggles into pants, stretches and contorts and finally has Myra snap the front. We make eggs. Myra dribbles on the burner. The eggs stick to the pan. We put lots of fancy salt on them.

"Want to pray together?" Myra says.

"Yeah," I say. And then we eat.

"I'm getting to be a little bit like a pig," Myra says "'cause I'm eating all these eggs." They look orange with salt. She has them cut in tiny triangles. Joe cuts haphazardly. Wet crumbs litter the floor. I make pools of honey on my toast.

"Mmmm. Put your dishes in the dishwasher," I say. "Here, bring me that rag. I'll wipe your spot."

They graze over oranges and bananas. I knit. Myra putters Joe over the hardwoods in a baby rocking chair: their car. He whirls his arms for the engine.

Then I tell them to clean up. The morning unfurls with the rhythm of a gently rocking sea.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.






Gratitude:

5579. Pomegranates, fresh and fat.

5580. New stitch markers for my knitting. I knit Gramma's old gull pattern no problem.

5581. Craig takes me on a date to a place I haven't been to in 15 years.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.




5582. Gramma's old sewing machine comes home freshly serviced. I begin sewing and sewing. We set up three sewing stations for the three of us sew-ers.

5583. Craig takes the kids to the farm.

5584. We count down the days: 20 days until baby due.

5585. And we pray to come up with a name for this little babe.



Photo credit: Urban Rose.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Myra

Photo credit to Urban Rose.   




"Whaaaaaahhh," Myra bellows from the far end of the house. "Whaaaah." All that red hair sprung up in curls, pink sweater and blue skirt, she bawls over a bowl of oatmeal.

Pulled from bed like velcro unsnapping, I pad down the hallway.

"Her ear hurts," Craig says.

"Oh," I say, "I think I gave the last of that purple medicine to Cerissa." I squint my eyes, raise my eyebrows. "Here let me see if I can find something."

"Whhah," she whimpers.




Photo credit to Urban Rose.   




I rifle through the medicine stash, cypher active ingredients. "Here, let me cut this in half," I say. Serrated knife on tiny red pill, I split it in half. I pinch the crumbs between finger and thumb.

Jane, Jack, and Lu stare at Myra.

"Now open your mouth; this is tiny. I don't want to spill any," I say.

"Ok. Can I have some water?"

"Yeah." She opens. I dispense, just missing quivery red lip. "Here get her some water."

"I think maybe I should leave her," Craig says.

"Do what you have to," I say.

We stare at Myra, full bowl of oatmeal pristine and untouched, the clock nine minutes past when they should've left. She gulps the water, sits up straight.




Photo credit to Urban Rose.   




"I'm all better now," she says. Eyes still red with tears, she blinks. Everyone blinks back at her.

"Oh," I say.

"Oh," Craig laughs. "Well," he pauses. She blink-blinks back at him. "Ok, go get in the car."

She bounds down the hall like a jackrabbit, skitters out the front door, just behind Jane, Jack, and Lu.

Everyone wants to volunteer with Craig. Miraculous recoveries ensue.




Photo credit to Urban Rose.   






Gratitude:

5573. I hire Jack to prepare the baby room, and he delivers.

5574. Craig moves the big pieces of furniture with him.

5575. Lucy and I sew pinwheels together. Jane joins us. I start some dresden plates.

5576. Mom and I visit over fabric shopping.

5577. We call in the New Year with cousins and siblings, pinochle and popcorn, laughter and mirth.

5578. We wheedle away days of rest. Down by the fire, audiobook unspooling, projects open and unfolding on every lap, vacation ensconces us.




Photo credit to Urban Rose.