60 Years

60years-3

These are photos from Grandma and Grandpa’s 60th Anniversary celebration.60years-10

It’s hard to find words to describe the weekend, because it was a whirlwind and poignant and emotional.

60years-11There were many people present to celebrate their long-standing relationship, including Grandma’s sisters from Quebec, family from San Diego, my family from WA, neighbors, friends, and so many relatives.

60years-14At some point I looked around and realized, truly comprehended, the fact that none of the people gathered would be present without the love story, life story of Paul and Paulette. What beautiful, tangible fruits of my grandparent’s labors. The stories we told, the memories we share, are products of their loves, their sacrifices, the results of their good times and bad times.

60years-13I can’t possibly know their relationship the way my Dad does, or his siblings, or even my cousins who have lived so close for so long. But as Grandpa fades into the shadows of dementia, there are memories of them I want to preserve, and this weekend was one of them.

60years-4Grandpa sits, confused, but mostly happy. For now, it is a good kind of dementia. Not the angry, violent kind that I have seen in others. Every time I pass by, he says, “How’d you get so pretty?” or “Wow, you are something to look at!” If I’m carrying Dom he reaches over to pinch his fluffy leg or rosy cheek, “Who’s this handsome guy? Yours?! I don’t believe it.” Two or three minutes later it’s the same, loving conversation.

He saves the hard parts of dementia, the annoyance, the confusion, the incomprehension, for my grandma. She is his anchor to a reality that is fading. In a way, she reminds him that there is something missing. And, since she is his anchor, she is pulled the hardest as the ship of his comprehension tries to set sail. So, there is this subtle undercurrent of understanding that this may very well be the last time we are all together in this particular place, in this house, which is big enough for all of us, but too big for the two of them.

60years-12Grandma tries to switch between the French of her sisters and the English of everyone else. At some point Mom, Dad, Dom and I are sitting on the front porch and she joins us. She very enthusiastically thanks us for coming and tells us what a joy it is to see us, but in French. “Grandma! You have to speak English,” I say with a laugh. She laughs too, and says it again. In French. My dad chuckles, pretends to speak French “Baguette, oui, oui. Je voudrais allez…Bonjour!” She laughs and tries again. The French flows smoothly. The switch just won’t flip. Before long we are all laughing till our cheeks hurt and tears stream down my face. It is a beautiful moment of levity.

60years-6Grandma walks in for The Surprise!!, and is slightly confused. The banner says “Happy Anniversary!” which means happy birthday in the language she’s been speaking all day. “Who’s birthday is it?” she asks.

60years-5Grandpa says, “Who’s turning 60?”. We all laugh, and once everyone understands, we raise toasting glasses to the happy couple.

60years-15Ashley has made a beautiful cake, complete with their original cake topper. Just stunning.

60years-16Later in the evening, they hold hands and cut it, in much the same way I imagine they did 60 years ago.

60years-19Bryan has compiled photos and footage and modern videos that bridge the time-distance between their courtship and their youngest great grandchild.60years

60years-18As night settles, we all watch the compilation, projected larger than life against a sheet. The old film from their wedding looks like something straight out of a turn of the century documentary.

60years-9Watching grandma watch her younger self is a sort of paradox, a kind of time travel, a testament to how quickly time passes.

60years-7I see grandpa retreat from the craziness, sit in his chair in front of the TV and tap his fingers back and forth, mumbling. Mumbling a prayer, “Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you.” Five words. Five fingers. Tap, tap tap tap tap. And while he prays, life and love and laughter surround him.

In a way, each laugh, each smile, is a prayer of its own. A prayer of thanksgiving.

Thanking Grandpa, thanking Grandma, for saying yes so long ago.

60years-17Or, for some, maybe not so long ago.

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Friday Musings

Mary over at The Domestic Apologist shot me a cyber high-five:Liebster-Award2

It goes something like this: Hey, I like you and I like your blog. Here’s a Liebster Award and 10 questions that you should answer about yourself.

An easy post to write. I mean, who doesn’t like expounding upon themselves? Introspection starts…. now!

1. Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Taking a dish to another home?
Um…I have no idea. I’m sure there are other people who know details like this far in advance. I, however, am not one of them. In fact, Andy and I had a conversation about this very thing just last night:
“Hey Love, what are we doing for Thanksgiving?”
“I don’t know.”
“Me neither.”
“Ok. Well, glad that’s settled.”

2. Are your kids sufficiently revved up for Halloween, AND, when do you buy your Halloween candy? 
The girls are…divided. Every day they change their minds as to their desired costumes, although for Mo we’ve narrowed it down to “Elsa-dinosaur-flower-ballerina”. So, that should be interesting. Candy is purchased in a panic the day before/of Halloween. See #1 for how great a holiday planner I am.

3. Costumes or saint getups for your kids this year? 
Costumes! Although if I somehow magically catechize my kids well enough that they choose to be a saint of some sort, I’m sure I will take a bazillion photos and post them proudly here. Maybe we should host an All-Saints Party. That’s a thing, right?

4. Everyone loves fall. Is there anything about autumn that bugs you?
Ha! I don’t love fall *gasp. I am solar powered, so as soon as our earth’s axis tilts us away from the sun, I fight the urge to fly south. So, what bugs me? EVERYTHING: getting colder, leaves to rake, less sunshine, less sunshine, less sunshine, split tomatoes, rain, grey…ug. Maybe my question should be, what do I like about fall? Um…I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

5. What recent meme really cracked you up?
I’m cheating, a little, and posting two.
First, Corey and I, in a fit of sleep deprivation watched this gif about a hundred times. Eric Chavez’s “hey hey hey!” face gets better and better with each watch.

Eric-Chavez-throws-ball-at-Cody-Eppley

The second is a favorite ’round here, and one that most any parent can relate to:
poop_0I’ve seen Andy laugh so hard at this he cried. He was also sleep deprived at the time. I’m starting to notice a sleep pattern ’round here…

6. With what kind of intensity are you following the Synod?
I’m mostly just waiting till the official translation of the final draft comes out. That means I’ve ignored most media outlets for the last forever and half my facebook feed.

7. On weekend mornings, do you cook a special breakfast at your house?
Waffles and scrambled eggs courtesy of our own chickens. Mmm mmm mmm. Nuff said.

8.  Pick one current pop song. Expound upon your love or hate of it. 
Current? Pop? What is this magical dance music that you speak of? There is something other than Wee Sing and the Frozen sound track in the audible universe?

Send auditory help. Stat.

9. If you had one for eternity: kettle corn or movie theatre popcorn?
Choose one? Ooh, but that splits up the salty-then-sweet spiral of waistline death that I love so much. Um, does the Sate Fair come with the kettle corn, and a Movie Theater come with the classic popcorn? If so, I choose kettle. I love me some 4-H.

10. Predict the Superbowl champion. Or, recount your man’s elation or misery at the outcome of last year’s Bowl. 
Mary, you picked some tough questions. And this one, perhaps the toughest of all. Because, see, we don’t do football in this house *another gasp! (She doesn’t like fall or watch football? Is she even American?!) For the sake of my sister Jessie and her fanatical boyfriend Scott, I will, however, say: Seahawks. They made it pretty far last year…right?

….

Speaking of my sisters, I’m passing this highfive on to both of them whom I love (Jessie is here and Corey is here); to Bonnie, where I lurk; and to Abbie, who I long to see back in Vancouver. I know some of you haven’t blogged in a while, so feel free to answer on whichever online platform you prefer.

Ready ladies? Start your engines:
1. What is pizza (that one is from Mo)?
2. What is your greatest accomplishment from the last week?
3. Digital or analog planner? Analog over here.
4. What are you snacking on today?
5. Favorite article of clothing? Why?
6. Who paid you a recent compliment? What was it? You’re beautiful. There now you can’t back out of the question. Mwahahahaha!
7. Where would you go on a dream vacation? What would you do? Who would be there?
8. Let’s talk superpowers: Which one would you like to have and which one do you already command? We all have one. Andy’s is perfectly guessing which tupperware to use for leftovers. It’s an engineer thing, I think. 
9. What’s one thing you own that doesn’t match your personality? For example, I own a chainsaw. I don’t think people think of me as a chainsaw kind of lady…
10. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Any holiday, any tradition. I’m interested to see how my sisters answer this one…

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All the Cute, All the Time

softitude-4“Mo, braid?” -Lu

I have many memories braiding my sisters’ hair and still love it when one of them runs a comb or fingers through my own.

softitude-6So it begins with these two.

softitude-5Let’s just hope it doesn’t quickly evolve into hair pulling…

softitudeDom is sitting up fairly well.

softitude-2We call this his Fortress of Softitude.

softitude-3Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I’m surrounded by this level of cuteness every single day. The camera helps to remind me.

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Charlie’s Return

Some of you may remember my praying mantis quasi-nightmare: a full nest of praying mantises hatching, unnoticed, in the middle of my kitchen. They were quickly ushered outside, and a couple of them were named.

Like Charlie,

Bugs-5Who could forget Charlie?

charlie-7Well, he may very well have grown up and come back, searching for Corey to rekindle their friendship.

charlie-2What he found was two very curious girls. charlie-3 charlie charlie-5

And one cat, desiring to eat him.charlie-6

The bug days of summer are dwindling. Today, in fact, is the last sunny day in the extended forecast. Nothing but grey and rain for the next…

FOREVER.

Ok, a bit of an exaggeration. But definitely for a little while.

Guess I better get outside.

charlie-4Charlie’s waiting.

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Flicking the Demons off My Shoulders

A tiny demon stands on each of my shoulders, whispering distress into my ear, directly to my brain. To my soul. They’re not the cartoon, red-hued, pitch fork toting, maniacally laughing demons of imagination.

They’re more real than that.

On my left is a pioneer woman. Not The Pioneer Woman (love that lady). Think Dust Bowl. Think wind-burned, chapped-hands, faded calico, prairie woman, with a hungry baby or two, faces hidden in her skirts.

On my right is a small, orphaned child. He works in a garbage dump, digging through the refuse for bits and pieces he can sell, hands riddled with scars and feet tender with open sores.

Now, they could be angels, right? Reminding me, when needed, to be grateful for what I have. Grateful for modern appliances and Western medicine.

But, I am certain they are not.

Because they whisper to me when I am already fearful. When I am already low. When I already doubt and grieve and cry and despair.

They lean in and say,

“How dare you? How dare you sit there, overwhelmed by your laundry and your dishes and your chores? Look at my chapped hands! Use a washboard, make your own soap, afford only 2 changes of clothes and then you can feel sorry for yourself!”

“How dare you?! How dare you sit there in your mommy-guilt, obsessing over discipline failures, preschool choices and her non-balanced lunch? I don’t go to school! I don’t have parents! I don’t eat! Find something worth your time to worry about!”

And I sink. I sink lower and lower into the grey, into the mucky darkness, until I am paralyzed. I can’t move, for disturbing the demons. I’m so afraid to wake them. Wake their insidious ire.

Nothing I do will ever satisfy them. Nothing I do is good enough, hard enough, gentle enough…worthy of their admiration. Worthy of their praise.

And I wake up. I realize I don’t want that. I don’t want the love of demons.

They are of fear, and fear is not of God.

Fear is not of God.

That becomes my mantra, over and over.

Over,

and over,

and over.

Until it is my battle cry.

Fear is not of God!

And I flick. Flick the demons off my shoulders. It is a tiny movement, but heavy and hard. So very hard.

Only as they spiral away do I see their true form. Their evil form. The stuff of nightmares. And I am happy to be free.

Not free of guilt. Not free of worry and sadness and hard times.

But free of the whispers…

And free of the fear.

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6 Months Old

Dom 6moHappy very first half-birthday, son of mine!

Round here you’re known by many names: Dom, Dom-dom, Baby Dom, Baby Brother, Baby Bwathah, Dominic, Giant Baby… and recently I’ve come to think of you as my Gentle Giant. There’s no getting around it, you are one Big Baby.

At this point, I’m squeezing you into 12-18 month clothes. Your 18 month jammies zip up your thighs like they’re a second skin. Good thing skinny jeans are in right now…

Dom 6mo-3But apart from your size, I’m really reveling in the “gentle” part of your personality. You are such a content baby. You’ve cut two teeth, and I only realized because of an extra nighttime wake up….once. (Other mamas with teething babies who hate me right now, it’s ok. I get it.)

Dom 6mo-2Your daddy and I often use the words “clutch” and “pro” to describe you, because seriously, you’ve made the transition from 2 kiddos to 3 kiddos, ridiculously easy. You eat, sleep, and smile.

Sometimes all of those things at the same time.

Dom 6mo-4Your sisters abso-freaking-lutely love you. I have never seen two little humans so quick to dote and love on another. The second you cry (which you sometimes do..ok, rarely), they are immediately by your side, cooing, patting your tummy, saying things like “Who’s a handsome little man?” and “It’s ok baby. You’re ok. You’re just fine.”

And you are.

And so are we.

Thank you, Little Man, for making our lives so full of joy and love and calm. Dom 6mo-5

The ease with which you joined our family has helped me love you more today than I ever thought possible.

Just imagine what the next 6 months will bring…

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Forever

DSC_4790She and I rose at the same time, moving to the couch for a long snuggle. Waking up together. Bodies still warm from the covers.

“Mommy, can you hold me forever,” she asked, looking at me with those big blue eyes.

“Forever, my Love? Of course.”

“But what about when I’m a gahwown up? You can’t hold me when I’m a gahwown up.”

“If you need me, I will still hold you when you’re a grown up. Absolutely.”

“Ok, Mommy.” She snuggled in deeper. We lingered on the couch, cuddling for another long moment.

And for some reason, I felt like crying.

No. Sobbing. Right there… Into her long blonde hair.

I want to hold her forever. I want to wake up slowly every morning, sleepy head nestled on my shoulder. I want every worry, every trial, every pain to be solved by a long cuddle on the couch. The mother of all hugs.

I know I can’t hold her forever. But I want to.

And I don’t think that feeling will ever go away.

Not even when she’s a gahwown up.

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Recent Goodness

DSC_4821Oh my word.

I have the most beautiful family and the most amazing friends.

This time, the end of summer, is filled with so much love. And SO MANY PHOTOS! I just had to share a few:

DSC_4530 DSC_4547 DSC_4571 DSC_4485 DSC_4791 IMG_3766 DSC_4864 DSC_4811 DSC_4439

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First Day and Forgiveness

DSC_4110Oh my Love Bug. Another first day of school!

Remember last year?

I was a mess.

I was this year too, but for different reasons.

DSC_4133Corey recently introduced me to the gem of a movie Tucker and Darrel vs Evil, and as Alan Tudyk’s character, Tucker, would say, “Officer, we’ve had doozy of a day.”

Except, change that to week.

But that’s a different post.

DSC_4146This is about you, my brave, beautiful 4 year old.

Last night, I was frantically searching stores for a new backpack (procrastination much?), and there was only one backpack left. Tinkerbell. Not princess. Not the one you wanted. Not the one you had been asking for since your birthday.

I failed.

I drove home at 10pm, mentally berating myself for not shopping earlier, for not preparing a special breakfast, extra special snack, nor having actually read everything you needed to turn in on the first day. I spent more time last night finishing up Creighton stuff than preparing you for school the next day, and I’m pretty sure I yelled at you before you went to bed, threatening something ridiculous like, “If you ask about your backpack one more time, you don’t get a backpack!” (because that’s a punishment I can follow through on…not).

After returning with your backpack, I fell into bed, spent about 30 seconds thinking about all the first day of school cuteness I saw on Pinterest and facebook, and went to sleep feeling like the worst mother on the planet (and angry at your Daddy, because I was a hot mess… I make sense like that).

This morning, I woke up early, said a loving goodbye to your dad before he made the trek up to Tacoma (because sleep cures passive-agressiveness), and thought about you. How you’ve grown and changed so much in the last year.DSC_2454

You woke up and asked with giant, innocent eyes, “Where’s my backpack Mommy?”. You ran to the couch to pick it up with reverent, soft hands, and before I could even start to apologize that it wasn’t pink or princess-y, you leapt from the couch to tackle me with a giant hug, “Thank you Mommy! Thank you so much! I love it! I love you!”

And I let out a breath I didn’t even know I was holding. Tension, I hadn’t noticed, released from my shoulders. That’s the power of love. The power of forgiveness. Especially forgiveness freely given.

I didn’t know it, and you certainly couldn’t have, but I needed your love, your forgiveness at that moment.

My insecurities about being a mom bubble right up to the surface when life gets crazy. It’s easy to forget that more than pancakes, more than princesses, more than preschool… you love me.

Thanks for the reminder, Love Bug.

I love you too.

-Mommy

DSC_4123Lulu doesn’t go to preschool yet, but that sure wasn’t going to stop her from trying… backpack, binki and all.

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Sisters

DSC_3991Mo (who is currently under the weather), “You know what Mommy? When I played with my sister, I got better.”

Insert a big smile, and lots of giggling from the kitchen.

Amen, Little One. Siblings can always make you feel better.

Sisters especially. IMG_1717

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