The Letter

Chloe at 3, already a little thinker…

I have had Bronchitis for a couple of weeks and am also getting over some kind of Flu bug (‘Tis the season!) but thankfully I am finding bits and pieces of energy here and there and I’m still able to take the girls to dance lessons (barely) and make meals – aka: ordering a pizza. ;) Yesterday I needed to think through some things and when I need to think, I clean. I organize everything. It is a wonderful form of therapy or maybe I’m just crazy. But I was stopped in my frantic cleaning frenzy tracks when I found a letter I hadn’t seen before that was stuffed with a million other school papers in the craft bin. This is it, word for word – including all the sweet misspelled words:

“Dear Mom,                                    Nov. 9, 2012

I love you. Do you like pink? I can’t wait to have desert. What is it gonna be? What about cake like red velvet? Or vinilla. or Strawberry. You make my life easier. Do you like Ombama? I think you are beautiful! do you where lipstick? Cause you look good without it.

your dauter,

Chloe”

I laughed at how much my girls think about sweets and then immediately got tears in my eyes. Okay, I bawled. You see, my oldest baby girl and I have been going through quite a struggle lately. She is 8 going on 16 and I am at a loss for how to parent her behavior and bold independence that tends to show itself in hurtful ways towards me. We butt heads often and sometimes it truly feels like we are miles apart from each other. We have arguments weekly about her clothes, how much she hates math and isn’t doing homework ever again, friend drama and her hair. Don’t get me started on the hair dilemma. One week bows are “babyish” and she won’t let me do her hair and the next week, she’s mad at me because I don’t put bows in her hair! WHAT?!! But I found this letter that was written for me and the words, “You make my life easier” and I saw her, again. She is still a little girl who needs a mommy, a mommy who understands and is there for her  – even on the days that make us both crazy. I am learning to have more patience and this letter helped me put things in perspective. I hope I never forget how powerful words can be.

Last week Chloe came home from school and asked if she could use one of my typewriters because she had an idea for a children’s book and wanted it to be typed out. Growing up with me for a mother has definitely rubbed off on her! A child in 2012 asking for a typewriter… seriously! So, of course I got out the girls computer yesterday that hadn’t been set up since we moved and typed a little note to her on the blank screen. I told her I loved her and couldn’t wait to read what she writes. When she got home I showed her the “surprise” and you would have thought I had given her a pony. At bedtime, I couldn’t pry her away from typing out her book. I think I have a little writer on my hands. I hope this common love we share of books and writing will keep us connected even through the growing pains that we are enduring right now and the many more that are sure to come.

Getting too big for me to hold!

“I would have given anything to keep her little. They outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them.” Jodi Piccoult

Categories: Mommy Musings, Writing

The “End” of the Book

As a writer, avid reader, and a lover of literature my heart has been quite torn with all the new gadgets that are slowly taking the place of a simple book made of paper and ink – one in which you actually have to turn the pages. I love technology but this replacement of my beloved books has taken me by surprise. I definitely love having thousands and thousands of books at my fingertips…all I have to do is “click” and in seconds a book is delivered wirelessly to my Kindle. For a voracious reader that is one tantalizing aspect of the Kindle. I believe e-readers are an amazing use of technology. However, my heart sinks when I see bookstores going bankrupt and closing their doors.

The small family owned book stores were the first to go. I started noticing this even as far back as the early 2000’s when the internet made books quickly accessible to purchase for cheap prices online. The latest bankruptcy from Borders and the rumors that Barnes and Noble is not far behind causes me to have an awful sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am not only in mourning for the growing loss of “real” books, but my fear is that libraries are next on the list.

I recently found my copy of ‘Fahrenheit 451′ and I am reading it for the first time in over ten years. I worry that our society will one day get to the point where books and knowledge are not valued. There are some shocking similarities between our society and the one in Montag’s city – and it’s frightening. We might be a long way from book-burning, but by replacing books with technology it is not hard to see that we could get there faster than we think.

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” -Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“Books will soon be obsolete in the public schools. Scholars will be instructed through the eye.”- Thomas Edison (1913)

When I heard about the Kindle several years ago, I was excited and couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. My husband surprised me with a Kindle that year for my birthday. I think he thought it would fix our problem of books falling out of every nook and cranny in our home. Ha! Not so much. Although I love my Kindle, nothing will ever replace a real book to me. As my daughter says, “Books feel and smell good!” It’s true. Maybe I’m crazy but am I the only one who fans through the pages of a new book just to smell it? Granted, my antique books don’t always have the same effect. But there really is something beautifully human and real about diving head first into a new book – holding it your hands, turning the pages, and joining with the characters on their journey from the beginning, riveting paragraph to the last gripping, ending sentence.

I grew up as a child of the 80’s – and a lot has changed since those days – but going to the library was something I did a few times a week. I have so many memories of riding my bike to the library, finding a comfy seat in a corner, and losing myself in ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.’ I rented Alfred Hitchcock and Shirley Temple VHS movies and fell in love with Cary Grant while dreaming about being as beautiful as Grace Kelly. I learned the Dewey Decimal System and scanned the library card catalog. I read biographies about Virginia Woolf and Ronald Reagan and was inspired by history. I spent hours hearing the poetic words of Emily Dickinson and William Wordsworth roll off my tongue and bring me comfort and solace. I dove into encyclopedia and picture books with a hunger to learn about the world. My local library in Farmers Branch, Texas was like a second home for me as a child. It held boundless, beautiful treasures that were just waiting for me to open.

I guess this is why I have been taking my girls to the library weekly before they could even walk and now that both of my girls know how to read, we go even more – especially in the summer. We pick out books, sit in a corner, and read to our hearts content. We also check out so many books, movies, and CDs that about once a month, inevitably, a book will get mixed up with our own and we will scurry around every room looking for the lost friend. We go to sleepy time story hour in our PJ’s, author book signings, and my personal favorite – the library book sale! My girls have met Peter Rabbit, Maisy, Curious George, Max and Ruby, and many other book characters. I hope that my girls will look back at these days spent at the library with fondness and remember that one special moment when they, too, fell in love with literature.

“He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, as in all fortunes.” -Barrow

The last few trips to the library I have noticed a shifting in the library scene. There is a large computer area and work station set up in the middle of our library as well as quaint little areas for people to bring their laptops and hang out while sipping their lattes. There have been a few times when it feels like we are the only ones in the library getting books…everyone else is on a laptop or using the library for their computers. While this isn’t surprising, it worries me that in the not so distant future, libraries – like bookstores – will be empty.

I guess I will always love old objects. I am a collector of strange things and one of them is the relic known as the typewriter. I currently have six of them and that is only because my obsession has outgrown our space and I am on a typewriter buying freeze…for now. As well as being unbelievably heavy, they also take up quite a bit of room and there are only so many places to put a typewriter in your decor. I spent the most money on one that is in perfect working order and I have romantic, albeit unrealistic, dreams of someday typing out a book on its beautiful clanking keys.

I want a red one

I have this typewriter and it weighs 100 pounds give or take…

Perfection

But for the moment, I can’t imagine not having my Macbook with me for the writing and editing process. I have gotten used to my first world comforts. I love technology, but I also love the amazing inventions that brought us to that technology. This era of knowledge at our fingertips, and technology surpassing now-outdated technology, feels excessive to a degree. There are some days where I just want to go back in time to a simpler life. A time with paper and ink, corded phones, and hand written letters. I am growing weary of the constant whir of the internet, blaring cell phones, and the constant need for wi-fi. I worry about what technology will do to books and other lovely things. These are the days that I know I just need to go to the library, grab my favorite book, find a comfy spot, and get lost for a moment. For the time being, I can still do this. And I will read my paperback books as often as I can until our technologically obsessed world finds another wonderful thing to deem as “obsolete”.

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” Joseph Brodsky

“All the computer can give you is a manuscript. People don’t want to read manuscripts. They want to read books. Books smell good. They look good. You can press it to your bosom. You can carry it in your pocket.”
― Ray Bradbury

Categories: Random Thoughts, Writing

Sweet Surprise

Several months ago my girls discovered a show on TLC (aka – Netflix) called “DC Cupcakes.”

They are a little obsessed with this show lately – as in, they have to watch at least one episode a day. It’s a reality show about two sisters who quit their corporate jobs to follow their dreams and start a cupcake business called Georgetown Cupcake. Their cupcakes look ahhhmazing and business is booming. In every episode there are hoards of people waiting in line to buy cupcakes. I am the kind of person who believes that nothing is important enough to wait in long lines for…BUT, cupcakes? Maybe. Definitely maybe. Okay, yes. Always. As long as I can have some coffee while I’m waiting.

My six-year-old is a major foodie and in addition to watching this show she also loves watching cooking shows and anything that has to do with food in general. It’s kinda cute but sometimes I worry what will happen when her metabolism slows down. :/ But in the meantime she cooks with me, salivates while watching cupcake shows and eats us out of house and home.

When Ryan found out on a recent episode that Georgetown Cupcakes over-nights their delicious cupcakes anywhere in the US, he decided to surprise the girls with a dozen cupcakes. I got to have fun picking out some of the unique flavors and picked out Toffee Crunch for myself. Here are some of the yum-yums…

The cupcakes came today and the minute Cammie saw the box she started screaming, “DC CUPCAKES!! THAT IS FROM DC CUPCAKES!!”

The girls recognized the box and knew what was inside. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

This was the one Cammie chose for her first one:

(photo credit – DC Cupcakes)

Chloe chose Red Velvet

(photo credit – DC Cupcakes)

…equally mouth-watering.

I don’t think I have to tell you that the girls LOVED this special surprise. I think these pictures and especially the video will speak for itself as to how much they enjoyed the cupcakes that were flown in from their favorite show, just for them!

Thank You, Daddy!

First Bite

Cupcakes!!

Last Bite

This video was taken right after Cammie had finished her cupcake…if you can’t tell she is screaming, “I just had a DC Cupcake!!!”

Here is the link to their website if you would like to have a little bite of heaven shipped to you –  Georgetown Cupcake. You are welcome.

 

Categories: Mommy Musings, Writing

Thankfulness Journal

A little over a year ago I read a book that changed my life. Click here to read more about the book – One Thousand Gifts – A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.

(photo credit http://onethousandgifts.com/)

After going though multiple difficulties, the author starts a “thankfulness journal” that leads her on a journey of discovery with her Creator. Shortly after finishing the book I felt compelled to start a thankfulness journal of my own. When I read One Thousand Gifts I was battling a nameless disease that kept getting worse. I had constant debilitating pain and was crushed with a fatigue so severe, it would keep me in bed for days at a time. I was also wrestling with God and had even stopped praying for healing. I didn’t understand why He wouldn’t heal me or at least give me a doctor that cared. In the very least, I just wanted an accurate diagnosis. I wanted others to know my pain was real and there really was something wrong with my body. I wanted answers and I hated what was happening to me. I had to let go of doing things I loved due to my illness and because of that, I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was empty and hurting, vulnerable and hopeless…I felt abandoned.

“Losses do that. One life-loss can infect the whole of a life. Like a rash that wears through our days, our sight becomes peppered with black voids. Now everywhere we look, we only see all that isn’t: holes, lack, deficiency…It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us.” ~One Thousand Gifts

I started writing in my journal every morning and as the days passed, God began to press in close. As I wrote out my gratitude, He started whispering words of comfort and hope to my heart. Pretty soon, it became a habit in my life and once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. My thankfulness overflowed. I found myself even thanking God for my disease ridden body and for the hidden gift it gave – a beautiful humility and dependence on Him like I had never experienced before and a slower pace of life, one in which I had more time to enjoy the little things and find Him in unexpected places.

“When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?” ~One Thousand Gifts

Within days of starting my thankfulness journal I found a doctor who was able to give me a diagnosis. A tick-born bacteria was to blame for my symptoms. I began treatment that has helped significantly. I still struggle daily with this chronic illness -whose presence may never fully leave my life, but I have found joy in the journey – as cliché as that might sound.

“The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” ~One Thousand Gifts

Keeping this thankfulness journal has changed my outlook. In spite of painful circumstances, there is always something (thousands of things) to be thankful for. I am blessed and undeserving of so many wonderful gifts and each day that I write out my thankfulness, I discover even more gifts. So, I thought I would share some of the pages from my thankfulness journal. Happy Thanksgiving! May we all be aware of how beautiful life is – not only in this season of Thanksgiving, but in every single moment.

In case you can’t see them, I typed out the pages below and in doing so just realized that “Coffee” and “Books” are both written twice. You might learn a lot about yourself if you start keeping a thankfulness journal! :)

Vivid memories

Typewriters

Stories

Nature hunting with Chloe

Birds singing

Praise music in my head when I wake up

Restful sleep

Security of family

Big bows in sweet blond hair

Carousels

Antique shops

Time with Ryan when we can actually finish a conversation!

Little pubs with good beer and yummy food

God’s grace!

Health

Chick-flicks

Cammie’s laugh

Chloe’s smile

Ryan’s back rubs

Hot coffee on chilly mornings

Grown up conversation

Clean laundry

Quilts

Snuggling with my girls

Books

My girls laughter

Hot coffee with cinnamon sprinkles on top and time to finish a cup

Caring friends

Music

The way a song can move my spirit

Anticipation of a journey

A clean home

My books

Cooper’s nuzzles

Little arms around my neck

Packing for a vacation

Melting butter on toast

Lazy mornings

The Crossing

Friends

Sweet prayers from little voices

Big hugs from little arms

Little feet that don’t stop growing – new shoes

Fairy tales

Movies

Weekends

Family days

Minds that are quick to learn

Warm showers

Pictures to remember favorite moments

Hands that are able

Legs that can walk and run

Eyes that can see God’s beautiful world and the faces of my loved ones

“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.” ~One Thousand Gifts

Categories: My Journey With Lyme, Spiritual Reflections, Writing

Living With A Stranger

“In Alzheimer’s the mind dies first: names, dates, places – the interior scrapbook of an entire life – fade into mists of non-recognition.” Mark Clark

At the end of my Junior year in college I was working two jobs while taking 21 college credit hours. It was difficult to put myself through school and try and feed myself at the same time but it was doable thanks to the Anderson Aldi, Ramen noodles and of course, my parents. Throughout my college career I had to take a few semesters off so that I could afford to finish school. So, when I saw a job posting for live-in care for an elderly woman I jumped at the chance. I thought this opportunity might make finishing my Senior year a little more manageable – in the very least, it would be better financially. 

I had recently gone through a tragic ordeal of losing someone very special to me and I was suffering from depression and had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But I was headstrong and stubborn. Instead of taking time off, I pushed through. School had been important to me since I was young and my goal of getting a college diploma was in full view. A live-in opportunity looked much more appealing than serving rude customers who never tipped more than two bucks at the local “Texas Roadhouse”, so I decided to call the number. A few days later I  had an informal interview at a Wendy’s with the woman’s son. He explained that his family was divided on how to best care for their mother because she was physically healthy and wanted to stay in her home but she had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Her sons wanted someone to live with her and make sure she took her medications, ate healthy, drove her to her hair appointments, etc. I would get paid but I could also live in the apartment that was connected to her house for free. They thought this would be a good compromise because they didn’t want her to be alone and I thought it would be perfect for me because I would be far off campus which meant I had a great excuse to be a hermit which is what I needed at that time. I was excited that I could finish my academics off strong while helping someone else out at the same time. It was a win-win. 

When I first met Dorothy, she thought I was one of her grandchildren. She hugged me like I was family and talked to me like she had known me my entire life. I could tell right away that it wasn’t just a grandmotherly love that she showed to me, it was the disease. Looking into her eyes, I could see that she wasn’t really looking at me. Something was blocking her from being able to recognize anyone. There was a misty haze that seemed to blanket her face. After meeting with Dorothy’s family and being questioned for a couple of hours, they seemed to be in agreement and I was hired. 

Sweet Dorothy

It seems hard to believe now, why anyone would hire a college girl to be almost completely responsible for another human being. That’s a lot of faith to have in a stranger. But I was honored to take care of Dorothy. I loved her like my own family. As I moved my few belongings into the one bedroom, one bath apartment, I didn’t realize the weight of emotions the year would bring. At the time it just made sense to live with Dorothy. For that year, we needed each other. 

In front of my apartment at Dorothy’s

I quickly got adjusted to my new class schedule, taking the last of my literature courses and writing what seemed to be a million papers while I planned breaks and lunches around when Dorothy would need me. I came home in between classes to check on her or make her a sandwich. I would always announce myself before walking into her house. It was very important that I constantly remind her who I was and why I was there. Most of the time, she would forget after a few minutes but I would remind her again because she would get confused or worried. We would sit down at her 1970’s kitchen table, eat and chat. 

Every Sunday I took her to her hair appointments and then to lunch. I called it her “beauty queen” mornings. She seemed to like the drive and getting out of the house. After Ryan and I started dating, he would come up from St. Louis to visit on Saturdays and help me out with Dorothy. She liked riding in his new car with the sunroof down on the way there and there were times when I thought I saw her eyes light up a little bit. It was good to see glimpses of the woman she must have been before this terrifying disease took over her life. It was the highlight of my week to get some help and a wonderful reprieve from my “cave” living. She loved when I would play my guitar and sing and we would have long conversations about nothing. She would come in and make sure I was doing her laundry correctly and that I wasn’t using too much fabric softener. I would come back at bedtime and make sure she took her teeth out and brushed them. This weird routine of ours was a comfort to me. I liked being needed. I loved keeping busy and taking care of this woman who was starting to feel like a grandmother to me. I needed her company as much as she needed my watchful eye.

Most of the time she liked to sit in her comfy chair in the living room holding her crossword puzzle. She gazed at it like she knew she was supposed to be doing something but she couldn’t remember how to do it. She would sit like this for hours, staring at the page of words – her mind unable to even piece together a complete thought. She would often talk to herself in the mirror as if it was another person staring back at her. She didn’t recognize her own image. She would refer to the person in the mirror by another woman’s name and she did everything with her reflection. “We”  need to go get our hair done or “we” just got finished getting ready for bed. It was almost as if she knew she recognized the person in the mirror but she wasn’t certain who it was – a long-lost friend, someone she trusted, a part of someone she once was? She wanted to remember the person in the mirror but this was the closest she could get and so her reflection became her best friend.

As the days went by, I started to realize things were getting worse. I walked in from classes one day to find her putting something blue in a bowl. I quickly grabbed it from her hands and told her in a voice usually reserved for babies and toddlers, that it wasn’t food and she shouldn’t eat it. She apparently had gotten into the dishwashing detergent from under the sink. I wasn’t sure if she had eaten it or not but I called her doctor anyway. She was fine but it scared me to think that a disease could attack your mind so terribly that not only do you forget who you are as well as the people you love, but you stop being able to feed or take care of yourself. It was awful to watch another human being have to go through such torture. After several months, Dorothy began to have hallucinations. She would talk with “people” and then get violent and shout at me to leave. I would find her huddled in a corner of her room, terrified and crying because she “saw men” in her home. I would feebly attempt to comfort her but I never felt like I could chase the demons far enough away. She was different after the hallucinations started.

It became increasingly hard to live with someone who didn’t live in my world anymore. As she descended into a dark place, so did I. My depression grew and I became increasingly more anti-social. I started to feel the pain of both of our worlds much too heavily.  

There is a night that burns very vividly in my memory. I came in for my usual nighttime check and she was standing at the window by her front door. She was lost in her world and didn’t see or hear me. I called out her name and it startled her. She looked through me with milky blue eyes full of tears. I asked her what was wrong and she softly said, “They aren’t coming home.” I questioned who she was waiting for and she answered in a voice that trembled with hurt, “my family.” As we talked I realized she had been waiting all day for her husband and her children to get home from work and school. Her mind was making her live fifty years in the past but her body was there, with me in 2002. She didn’t understand why her family wasn’t coming. She felt abandoned and lonely. It made my heart ache to watch her fight a constant battle with her mind. I thought about what it must be like to wake up everyday and not know who you are, to only have scattered memories that cannot be trusted and to wonder who this stranger is who keeps coming and going. She was completely alone in this world – not physically but mentally. Her family loved her and wanted the best for her but she no longer knew who they were. It’s one of the most helpless feelings I’ve ever experienced. 

Before my time living with Dorothy I had zero experience with Alzheimer’s and I definitely didn’t have any nursing credentials that would have caused anyone to want to hire me for something like this. But somehow, I was blessed to be a part of the last days of a woman’s life and it changed me forever. The day I said goodbye to her was difficult. She had no idea why a strange young woman was giving her a gift with tears in her eyes. She had no idea that I had lived with her for a year and took care of her personal and private needs. She had no memories of sitting in her living room while I played songs for her that made her smile. She didn’t know who I was from a stranger on the street but I hugged her anyway and told her I loved her. I thanked her for letting me stay in her home and for teaching me about selflessness and the value of life. As I drove out of her driveway for the last time and she waved to me from the screen door, I hoped in some corner of her mind she did know me and she remembered. 

Several months after graduation I got a letter from her family informing me that Dorothy had passed. I think about her often and the effect she had on my life. I learned how important our memories are and how deep our need for human connection really is. I fear what would happen if I was separated from my loved ones by such a deep chasm…a disease that has no cure. What are we without our memories? What good are our bodies if we aren’t really here in this world anymore? Sometimes I feel that it wouldn’t be living to be alive but dead on the inside. Dorothy’s body was here, but her memories were scattered. I have never feared death but after living with Dorothy, I now have a fear of not dying – of not remembering my life. I cherish every moment all the more. 

“You know, people get frustrated because their loved ones have Alzheimer’s.  Oh, he doesn’t recognize me anymore. How can I recognize this person if they don’t recognize me? They’re not the same person.
Well, they are the same person but they’ve got a brain disease. And it’s not their fault that they have this disease.”
-Ronald Reagan

Categories: Memories

The Reader

“I think it’s the books that you read when you’re young that live with you forever.”  J.K. Rowling

Last night I put my Mom “hat” away and let Chloe read at the table during dinner. I love how she loves to read so much that she can’t put her book down. I am probably too lenient when it comes to this kind of thing but she got a new book from the library at school and she wanted to finish it…before bedtime. I know the feeling well and instead of telling her to put it down, I took pictures and let her read to her heart’s content.

“Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.”  C.S. Lewis

Later that evening we curled up on separate chairs in the living room and read together. She did finish her book before bedtime…she is so my girl. But it was hard for me to finish my book because I could see her face in the background and I couldn’t help but stop and just watch her read. Have you ever watched someone read who devours the words off the page as if they are feeding a hunger that is never truly satisfied? It is beautiful to watch. My little literature lover reads with her whole being. When she reads, it shows up all over her face. She mouths the words and expresses each emotion the characters are going through. I can immediately tell if she is reading a sad part or if is an exciting plot twist because her face reveals the story. She wears her books like clothing…they are on her at all times. There is always at least one partially read book in her backpack when she steps on the bus in the morning and a finished one in hand when she gets home. When she re-tells her favorite books you can tell that they are beloved treasures and the characters are her closest friends. I love having a child who loves to read as much as I do and who appreciates words and the beauty of language. If passing down my love for literature and the joy in seeking knowledge was the only thing I did right as a parent, it would be enough for me.

 “The dearest ones of time, the strongest friends of the soul–BOOKS.”  Emily Dickinson

So many books, so little time…

“Reading stays with you until the very end – after Narnia is gone, Lord Voldemort is dead and Alice is awake.”  Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Mommy Musings, Writing

One of these days…

“That it will never come again, that is what makes life so sweet.” Emily Dickinson

This baby is turning six on Saturday. People always told me to enjoy my girls when they were babies because it “goes so fast”, but when I was a busy mommy of two girls in diapers that kind of advice usually went in one ear and out the other. The baby and preschool ages seemed never-ending, but they did end.

I know that in spite of not really realizing just how fast the time would leave me, I cherished almost every day with my girls and I know I have loved them so much it feels like my heart will burst out of my chest…even in the really hard moments of parenting. I’m so thankful that God provided in such a way so that I could stay at home with my girls and have many sweet memories that I will remember forever. It is a huge blessing that I don’t take for granted, even for a second.

I love-love-love this girl.

I apologize if this post is super sweet and sappy, but I’m okay with that. Six is kind of a big deal. How I wish she didn’t have to grow up. I love her more with each day and I would keep her home with me for the rest of her life if I could. But I won’t be able to and that’s just how it goes.

Because one of these days she will not want to cuddle with me. One of these days she will not need me like she needs me now. One of these days I won’t be able to protect her from getting hurt and her heart will get broken. One of these days she will go to college or travel the world and be far away from me. One of these days she might meet a boy and fall in love. One of these days he will ask for her hand. One of these days she might have babies of her own…one of these days.

But today is not one of those days. Today I can hold her as much as I want. Today she still needs me to tie her shoes and do her hair. Today I get to kiss her little cheeks and hold her hand. Today she still wants me to play puzzles and color. Today she wants me to rock her and sing her favorite songs. Today she is still my baby.

Last night I was awakened to little hands wrapping around my arms as she scooted under the covers, her head lying next to mine. I pulled her in close and we fell back to sleep. Today, I am thankful for this time I get to have with this sweet girl who I get to call my own for a bit longer. Happy 6th, my baby love!

Categories: Mommy Musings, Spiritual Reflections, Writing

The Stinky Basement Mystery of 2007

Every year when I put away the Halloween decorations that are scattered haphazardly around the house, I can’t help but think of a chilly October day in 2007 that has lived in infamy in our little family. Our home at that time had a very large partially finished basement. For months that year, there had been a weird odor coming from the basement but we could never figure out what it was. I finally gave up trying to locate the source of the smell and just tried to avoid the basement as much as possible. (I don’t recommend doing this, however.)

A couple of weeks before Halloween, with my three year-old wanting to “help” and my one year-old that never let me put her down, I  decided to go dig in the basement for the Halloween decor and feebly try to concoct some sort of fall wonderment in our home for my little girls. It took me quite awhile to locate the Rubbermaid tub labeled, “Halloween/Fall Decor.” That sounds like I’m really organized and my house is sooo put together doesn’t it? Just wait.

I grabbed the big tub (that smelled odd in hindsight) and headed upstairs. As I peeled back the lid that was already partially open, I was hit with the most foul smell I have ever smelled in my life. After gagging and dry heaving, I noticed that mold and things I didn’t recognize were growing on everything inside the bin. I had visions of mice and rat carcasses but there weren’t any signs of dead (or living) animals. Thank you, Jesus! I was already horrified enough. I very hesitantly picked up each item one by one and inspected them for the cause of this awful smell.

After inspecting a few items, I found a paper bag covered with more mold than anything else in the bin. I opened it and discovered what looked to be the remains of a pumpkin. All that was left (whatever it was) was green, brown and liquified. My mind instantly jumped to the previous Halloween when my oldest had painted a small pumpkin at a friend’s Halloween party. We displayed it proudly in our living room for a couple of weeks. In my haste to clean up Halloween and get out Christmas stuff the previous year, I must have absent-mindedly stuck her pumpkin in with the decor instead of throwing it away. The mystery of the never-ending basement stench was solved and I went on a massive cleaning spree that day. I didn’t find any more rotten pumpkins but every fall I have an overwhelming urge to go through our storage bins.

Today, as I was putting away the remains of the Halloween decor I thought about my infamous mishap. There has to be a lesson in that story somewhere, but all I could think of was this, “Don’t be in such a hurry that you end up smelling rotten pumpkins for a year.” I know some deeper spiritual truth could be pulled from this unfortunate tale but I can’t think of anything so here is your weekly dose of practical “wisdom”…when you put away your Halloween or fall decor, remember the year of the rotten pumpkin and make sure that each item you put away is actually supposed to be in storage and not in the trash!

Categories: Memories, Mommy Musings, Writing