Sunday, April 22, 2018

These Times





"Wasn't that neat seeing a fast-forward video of a dandelion last night?" I say.  Fresh up the front drive, morning run in our wake, Jane and I visit, sun soft on our cheeks.

"Yeah," she says. It was." She pauses as if "was" were large and round. "Though I have to admit," she says, "to having a chronic dislike of dandelions."

"Hah," I say. "I know what you mean." And like that we are through the front door, the house quiet for encircling nine, warm light skittering across the hardwood floors. The morning turned past noon, I herald everyone in.

"We have to leave by 1:00," I say. Everyone pulls hard on the oars of time to row, row us all ready and set to leave.

"Joe's hair needs a little bit of guidance," Jane calls, hand cupped around her mouth, eyebrows and cheeks drawn up in bow. I snicker, but swept in the twirl-wind of gathering seven children into the car and off to Toastmasters, I forget about Joe's masterful hair.

"Oh," I say when the speech teacher pauses and admires the high-in-front doo. "That's self-made hair," I say.

"Yep," he says. A masterpiece.









Gratitude:

6543. We take a vacation to the ocean. So much family surrounding us, twenty-seven of us, we savor the relationships, roam the beach, and play and make worship together. Magnificent. We store up the memories like special treasures.







6544. Our greenhouse plants continue to grow-grow-grow into lush specimens.

6545. We settle into the comfort and routines of home like the chorus a song sung a hundred times. We determine to enjoy it as much as the sea, each thing in its time.



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Chess





"Look, I can take two of your pieces," Joe says. A leisure Sunday afternoon, Joe and I play chess. The big brown table a fortress beneath us, I lean, lean an elbow out to the middle.

"Huh," I say my bishop and rook now both kitty-corner to his pawn. "I guess your right," I say.

"Only gonna be able to move one of them," he says.

"Huh," I say. A little bit of knowledge and suddenly strategy arises from nothing. The awakening of the mind is such a grand affair. And in this case it cost me my bishop. Brilliant.









Gratitude:

6533. Resurrection Day came again with all the celebration and humility that it brings.







6534. Joe turned SIX. I relish his generous spirit.

6535. Coleslaw, the best coleslaw, the world over -- red cabbage, sweet onion, fists of basil, and lemon avocado mayo dressing. We eat it with pulled pork. Then the pulled pork runs out so we start eating it on nachos. Then the nachos run out so it's just chips and still transcendent.







6536. Fresh groceries, the kind that fill up a paper sack and they have to double bag it. Lemons and cabbage and basil and mustard and ginger ale and cheddar and oranges and a mechanical pencil and lead. Perfection.

6537. The children have another art lesson and continue to progress in their artwork.

6538. The older four kids join a Toastmasters club. The first meeting leaves them chattering with excitement.







6539. Two beautiful baby wraps come to live at our house.

6540. I make elderberry syrup and turmeric golden milk from scratch.

6541. Craig and I squeeze in a date. We arrive at the movie theatre to find the film started 30 minutes ago. We have a mid-afternoon lunch together instead.

6542. The days gradually grow warmer if still wet. Signs of spring appear. Tiny green cotyledons poke through the ground and begin the new cycle of gardening. The yearly liturgy of seasons lulls us with it's familiar face.



Sunday, March 25, 2018

Eraser





"Hey, what is this?" I say. I pluck a white cube-ish eraser, pea-sized from a pile in Lucy's pencil box.

"Oh," Jack says, nose, for the moment, no longer in his math book.

"What?" I say. "What is it?"

"I think that's the eraser that Lucy put in the vice," he says.

"What?" I say.

"She thought it would just compact and then go back, but it broke into a million of pieces."

"Ahhhhh," I say. "Huh." And so it is, another mystery solved. I nod, then shake my head. "Makes sense," I say. Sense, that pile of eraser pieces, saved in a pencil box, that's usually how it finds me too. And good Lord, who knew it would crush like that?









Gratitude:

6526. The children recover from a bout of croup.

6527. Jack and Joe continue to learn endurance, preserving, and resilience through wrestling.

6528. Chicken soup with rice made from scratch.

6529. News of dear friends pregnant.

6530. I pass notes with a dear friend from decades past.







6531. The greenhouse plants continue to get stronger and bigger.

6532. We visit long over Sunday dinner and enjoy the voices of all the children.



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hand-Me-Downs





"Whelp," I say, "I think we are on at least step seven of organizing the hand-me-downs." The words leave my mouth pearled together in a long looping sigh.

The living room a castle of bins, clothes bundled and ordered by age and gender, I sink into the couch. We save meticulously, sometimes too much. A tower of donation items holds down the entryway. Bins on one side, bins on the other, it feels like parting the sea.

"Hmm," Jack says, "step seven of seven hundred." He grins. I shake my head, then nod.

"So true," I say. We laugh and laugh. So many hours wrangling organization out of so much blessing. It's harder than it sounds. I wonder what step eight will be.









Gratitude:

6522. Jack adds humor to our days, leafed in, gentle and without expectation of the hilarity that ensues.







6523. Jack and Lucy bake ginger snaps.

6524. A dear friend sends me a wrap to try with chunky fringe.







6524. The kids continue to work hard practicing art lessons.

6523. I learn again the good fruits of forcing myself to do dreaded tasks. Strength, peace, and tidiness appear, guests adored.

6524. The children continue to watch me flounder and then step into strength. So humbling. And yet so good.







6525. I sigh another tired sigh, contentment close on its heels. Sleep, the reward of the weary, I measure its goodness.



Monday, March 12, 2018

Ten Minure Timer





"Ten minute timer," Craig says. He patrols the hallway, rounding up bedtime stragglers for evening prayer. "Jane, you didn't make it," he says.

"No," she says, "I'm ready!" She blubbers around a toothbrush corralled in her cheek. "I'm alllllllmost ready."

"No," he shakes his head, "you're not done."

"But," she wrinkles her forehead, raises her shoulders. Sigh, "Ok."

"She didn't make the timer," Craig calls around the corner to me ten steps later, a bale of laundry now blooming from the dryer into his arms.

"I ALMOST did," Jane says.

"But you didn't," he shakes his head.

"It's because I linger and talk and relish relationships more than just the task." Her face sings.

"Sounds like Mom," Myra lilts. Sprawled on the floor, she passes puffs of post-documentary popcorn to George.

"But," I say, the big popcorn basin in my lap, hulls between my teeth, "what we want you to understand, Jane, is that you need to hurry and get the task done so you CAN get out here and enjoy the relationships."

"Oh," she says.

Oh, that. Finish the task to make room for margin. This is an art I am still learning, and in good company.









Gratitude:

6515. A new ruler, a teeny tiny triangle one, like a mini-drafting one with a pencil clip on the side.

6516. Friends invite us to dinner and serve oxtail. Bonanza! And there is so much affection and fellowship in the evening, we stay way, way, way to late but enjoy the camaraderie so much.

6517. Dad's birthday lands on Saturday-pancake-breakfast and in all its maple syrup and whip cream bounty we celebrate. Joe and Myra surprise us by eating 10 pancakes each. Best of all, we linger in stories and laugher.







6518. We celebrate the life of Great-Grammie, 102 years. Family gathered, we remember the irreplaceable riches of a life well lived.

6519. Jack tears out two shrubs and a fence for us, the beginning of another new garden.

6520. The children tend to their 1000+ baby plants.

6521. I land this Sunday more tired than I've been in a very long time. Sleep is such a gift. I can't wait to open it tonight.



Monday, February 26, 2018

Sample





"You guys can have the fish sticks sample if you want," I say.

The Costco hustle, Jane, Jack, and I round the back corner. A bag of carrots slides into two bags of celery, the cart barely holding down all four wheels, a bonanza of samples on all the end-caps in sight. I never say yes to samples, but just the three of us, well, ok.

"Oh, OK," they chime. We sidle through line. Without meaning to I calculate the varying sizes of fish stick chunks and, like the three-year-old version of myself, hope they get a big one. All the while I replay in my mind parmesan-and-coconut-milk, parmesan-and-coconut-milk, the last two shopping things.

"Here, have a chimichanga too," I say, one fat sample left, a blob of cheese dripping out a triangle corner. And I scan-scan-scan. Where is the parmesan? I whisper, the sample all but forgotten. I pause and chew the corner of my mouth. Hmm, there. I nudge the cart and pause, Jack in the way, then turn to navigate the other way.

"That was the the most wonderful thing," the sample lady says. And for the surprise and joy in her eyes, I stop and stare, smile blooming over my face.

"Oh," I say riding the wake of bright-hearted happiness. And as I blink-blink the five ticks it takes to make a smile I replay Jack to my left, a glad, "Jane, do want to split it?" and her, "Sure," and the unrehearsed bite that left more than half, the seamless pass-off, the, "Thanks, Jack," and the casualness of kindness as if it were normal.

"Wonderful," she says again.

"Yes," I say, slowed, humbled. I watch her face as we turn to go. "Have a great day," I say. She nods a affection between us, two strangers, but family for a moment.









Gratitude:

6507. We rearrange the house to make more room for projects and play. Less stuff means more elbow room. It's perfect.

6508. I continue my routine of weekly soup making. Gallons and gallons of soup ensue.







6509. Jack surprises me Sunday morning with the biggest loaf or challah bread I've ever seen. "I'll plan lunch," he says.

6510. Lucy makes stoneware cornbread browned to crisp golden brown perfection.







6511. We get gifted tickets to a Gonzaga girls' basketball game. We relish it complete with enthusiastic screaming to punctuate a close game and victory.

6512. Mom and I run errands together and share the burdens of life.

6513. Craig's mom gifts the girls with sweaters that Great-Grammie made. What a collection she had.

6514. The full week still a jumble in my mind, so much shoe-hored in and seven pairs of eyes blink-blinking at us, we take it in, offer our best, and lean full-hearted into the provision and goodness of God. Peace ensues.



Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dinner Guests





"Every time we have people over it's like we clean, clean, clean and organize and everything just spills out into a huge mess," I say.

"Yeah," Jack says.

From the passenger seat, he nods, sunlight skittering off the suburban hood into our eyes, the both of us picturing a blooming spectacle of crumpled laundry, toys and miscellaneous paper, pencils, pennies, socks, and sand pulled from the closets and beneath the beds, a fragile castle of organization toppled out the doorway, down the hall and yawning into the living room.

"It's like we pulllllllll eeeeeeeverything out and it's this gigantic mess and then we bring it up, up, up to a higher level," I say.

"Yup," he says.

"And then we just do it again next time," I say.

"Until one day we are just dusting the furniture before people come," he says.

"Hah," I say, "YES," the mirth of that faraway moment, gut splitting hilarity spilled across the front seat. "Yes," I say, the new Jerusalem of entertaining. Once again the bond of work shared draws us closer.









Gratitude:

6498. Dear friends come and surround us with fellowship. Everyone settles into the gentle pace of serving food, mouthfuls of soup swallowed between pulling oceans of conversation, reclining and the leisure of many elbows around a small table. All the while, the tidiness of a home cared for disappears, shrunk down to the simple goodness of air.

6499. A dear friend turns 30. A surprise party, all the children help, prepare cards, decorate. Such nourishing work, our hands made stronger, our friendships deeper.

6500. Thrifting provides new sweaters with tiny holes we sew up and a set of small mason jars, glasses for the children.







6501. Jack flips pancakes for the whole crew Saturday morning so for once Craig can lean an elbow on the island and visit with the children over pancake breakfast.

6502. We stay long after church to play with friends and visit. The goodness of life passes between us.

6503. A simple exchange and we finally have the perfect teapot, the kind that can manage a tiny trickle of water into a pour-over coffee stand.

6504. The children continue to practice their art lessons.







6505. A dear weaver from the US shows me great kindness. I take note of how kindness gives birth to kindness, the momentum always to become how we've been treated, every act a pebble in a pond.

6506. Sunday unfolds as if it were many hours longer that the usual 24 with children slipping into bed early and the week taking flight on the quiet wings of rest.