Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Time to Weep.....

Today was rough......I was hoping it was going to be a FULL day of school...no distractions....no fluffing off...tons of laundry to do.....bedding to wash, and then in the afternoon.....a baseball game for one boy and a practice for the other. It would have been a packed day no matter what.....

But then I got a call from my mom.

And things flip flopped.

She had called to say that my Auntie Kay had fallen the night before causing a Huge hematoma in her head...leading to brain surgery last night and now she was in the NeuroICU in a light coma. Sounds bad right? It's worse when you know the back story....

My dad comes from a rather large family of 12 brothers and sisters. (Amazingly my grandmother had more like 18 pregnancies...but only 12 of the babies survived!)

So my dad is one of the younger brothers. This means that I have always been surrounded by TONS of family....by the time I came along there were aunties and uncles old enough to be MY grandparents- and they had kids and grandkids like crazy!
Because my grandmother died when I was barely in Jr. High, these aunts and uncles acted more like my grandparents. Here are a few of the local siblings back in 2003.
That's my dad in the back row...the one with the hair ;)

My Auntie Kay is the one with the glasses....

Well, by the time I reached adulthood, the twelve siblings had wittled down to nine or so....not including their spouses- who mean JUST as much as the actual siblings!....but the consistent deaths started happening about 4 years ago. First my Auntie Grace died (she's not in the picture above)....she lived out the end of her life near Redding. So I would see her infrequently....but she was always the same....a Stinker! Her expression in the picture below is SO classic! She liked hard liquor and playing cards. She was something else....I remember her always cackling....that's right cackling!....she had that smoker-cough/laugh and she'd cackle at ANYTHING.....I loved that sound. She was a tiny bitty thing even before she 'shrunk' with old age. (I think I outgrew her hand-me-down shoes in like 5th grade! I doubt she was more than 4 foot-10in!) But she and and my Uncle Tony had a beautiful, devoted marriage with a huge wonderful brood of their own. (He died last year or so-completely lost without her)

So after Auntie Grace, we lost my Aunt Sarah.

She was known as Midge....because she was So tiny. She was hilariously fiesty and her husband reminded me of Clark Gable....they were a stunning couple! Here she is at my Aunt Grace's funeral in 2006:

The next sibling to die was Uncle Al. He was a gem. He dressed up as Santa each Christmas Eve....that was his legacy....the generations of cousins he had placed upon his knee and posed with for pictures. He left a HUGE collection of Santa statues when he died. I'll never forget how he used to greet me with, "Well, hello gorgeous....!" It always made me blush.....but he really was the most personable and gentle Uncle....ever- a real charmer....but So sincere. The best part was we shared a love for the Lord, and he wasn't ashamed to talk about God or his faith. I'm sure that played a large part in the peace with which he accepted his death. I really miss him. He's the one with the suspenders and the black hat......that was his comfy look ;)

So there are six siblings left (one Uncle lives in Oregon and rarely makes it down for photo ops)

So back to my Auntie Kay, as you can imagine, at this point in time we're all getting used to mourning....but it doesn't make the process any easier.

As in all families, you find yourself closer to some family more than others. Whether by proximity, or pure adoration, we saw a lot of my Auntie Kay and Uncle Dick. They were the ones you would find at my parents house atleast once a week, just stopping by for a chat. Uncle Dick was a huge burly guy who gave GREAT BIG BEAR HUGS! Here he is with Auntie Grace.....do you see the squish in her face-he'd smother you with his hugs! (when I see this picture....I can FEEL his arms :)

So this was Uncle Dick. The self-proclaimed 'Oakie' of the family. He bonded with Jarrod in all their 'white boy' glory! In recent years he suffered from Alzheimer's and became very shaky.......But he'd still hug me with all his might and tell me I was beautiful (are you sensing a pattern in how to win me over??)

Maybe a year ago, he fell down and suffered injuries which he needed to undergo physical therapy for.......Because of his sheer size (over 6ft tall) .....he was required to check into a convalesent home. This broke his spirit.
He gave up because he hated it there SO much. He died a couple months ago.

In the meantime, his bride, Kathy....my Auntie Kay.....was suffering from her own ailments. One surgery lead to another and she was in and out of the hospital with infections. She once told my dad that she was holding out for my Uncle Dick. Then when he passed away we wondered if she had the will to go on.....

Recently, she started suffering from dizzy spells, and test after test showed nothing.....then her kidneys weren't working properly....and she was checked into a hospital again. During that time she was told she would need to check into a convalesent home to rehabilitate and regain her strength. That's where she was last night........

Checking into a convalesent home....horrified at the thought that THIS is what her husband had to go through. Terrified to be alone. Stubborn as all get up, and determined to prove she was still able, she refused her wheel chair and insisted on standing with her walker. As she stood there she apparently lost her balance, and just fell over. With the force of her whole body she hit her head on the hospital bed next to her. At this point, the surgery to relieve the mass of blood in her head was sucessful. However, all of that pressure caused a stroke. We don't know yet, how or if she can recover from this.

So that flip flopped day I was talking about.....it was spent crying tears of sadness, for the long lives that grind to a halt in various ways. For the lack of freedom and dignity that aging necessitates....for the pain and suffering my family is enduring as they stand together to rally around another sister. It's hard to watch.

And my Auntie Kay would hate the tears. She likes happy thoughts.....She is another giggler....she loves being 'babied' and she milks her cuteness. She used to be SO crafty with ceramics, paints, dolls, etc, until arthritis crooked her fingers. In recent years, she never met a casino she wasn't willing to drive HOURS for....but mostly she loves her family- especially her grandaughters. And she has always been SO sweet to my babies....here she's holding our girl.

So tonight I'm reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:4
There is "a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance...."
I visited Auntie Kay briefly in the hospital today. I long for her to heal, but I hurt for her to go through the process. Her life has been full and joyous, fun and love-filled! I can't imagine going from pure independence, living with your husband for decades and then suddenly finding yourself lost in a vortex of hospitals. I think God uses old age, not to punish us, but to teach those around us to cherish life.
So there will still be time to laugh...and moments to dance. And I'll do it for all those who have gone before me. Knowing they lived passionately, and sweetly, fiestily and sillily. But above all they lived for family.
May it be so with me Lord.
Tonight I pray for Auntie Kay.....for rest in her body. Peace in her soul. And for love to cradle her very heart. Our every breathe is in your hands, God.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Well-intentioned laurel resting

Remember how I was loving spring??

That was before I had an allergy attack!

On Friday, we headed out to a farm co-op...one of those crazy homeschooling gigs....and I was picking weeds with the kids...in the middle of mustard fields....and well.........now I'm all stuffed up! I've felt my sinuses being attacked for three days now....and I'm SUPER sleepy.

That sounds like allergies right?

If not, I've got a cold, or I'm pregnant-(ha, don't worry, that's the least likely option!) ....but either way I'm miserable, fuzzy headed...and SO not in the mood to blog....especially when my hubby keeps getting called out of town to work for DAYS at a time.....

I know....cue the violins......

all of that aside,..............this post really DOES have a point.....

The point is that even when I have the BEST intentions I'm a flubber.
I intend to be a good blogger and keep up relationships, etc. But it just didn't happen this week.

A prime example of my ball dropping abilities:

Here's a project my sister and I collaborated on years ago.....

I had this small ambition to paint the nursing mother's room at our church. It's a tiny cave-like room with a 2-way mirror looking into the sanctuary.....and only enough room for a love seat, 5 or 6 chairs, and a changing table.

White walls added NOTHING to the ambiance of the place......so I thought I'd take some paint and work a little magic ala Thomas Kinkade......well, let me tell YOU.....he doesn't rack in the big bucks for NOTHING! He makes it look SO easy! Psssshaw!

We toiled and toiled, and ended up with half a room full of flowers and various garden scenery...but nothing like what was in my head. I actually forgot to take pictures of the bottom half of the room....that's where all the action is.....

I meant to go back there to finish the job one day....to make sure the entire bottom quarter of the walls was covered in flowers (right now there are probably only 25 or so individual flower bushes)....but low and behold....I started having kids...and poof...there went my free time! Well, it's better than white walls....but this little section always reminds me of how flawed I can be in my thinking:

The goal was to have birds with their eggs, and other small animals with their young....this IS a nursing mom's room after all! But I goofed. So did you spot my mistake yet?

Look closer....have you ever seen a baby butterfly? It's very rare......and in MOST cases IMPOSSIBLE! For as we ALL know, butterflies start off as caterpillars and they break out from their cocoon as full fledged adults! Ah, yes, this little section of the wall humbles me each time I see it........such the reminder that even good intentions don't guarantee a perfect return on your work.

And we're not here to be perfect. Well intentioned....yes. Flawed and humble, yes.

Gracious and undeserving....oh heck yeah!

So I just thought I'd say.....thanks for your patience with me......

now tell me what is YOUR greatest flaw?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

Normally I don't post personal pictures here but that one was too much to resist....family pics go on the family blog....and well, you need an invite to go THERE....just ask....it's a simple process really.....one application filled out in triplicate, 2 IDs required, it's all standard procedure really....but then you have to swear allegiance to our family by screaming our last name in public 5 times.....

hee hee. Ok, FINE, I jest, but you DO need an invite ;)

Now that I got all that nasty business stuff out of the way I just wanted to say that I LOVE spring!

Spring, spring, SPRING...and all of the promise it brings:

cajun corn salad for lunch and walks after dinner,

hikes in the woods and the love-doves returning,

outdoor bbqs and long nights with friends,

beach time and boogie boarding,

open windows and fresh breezes,

swimming like fish and

cleaning! (...yes even cleaning sounds better in the spring!)

I love the feeling of freedom that all this 'newness' brings. I hope for better attitudes (from me AND my kids) and so much more change in our home. It's funny....whenever we travel with the kids we remember how FUN it is to JUST be together: Anywhere, anyhow. And so we always come home dreaming of the NEXT place we'd like to go. It's all just 'talk' for now. But spring is full of planning and daydreaming.....

....And saying goodbye to all the deadness. I feel like stinkin Snow White welcoming all this life around me.....Oh, yeah, you might even find me twirling in a skirt or something ;)
I'm SO happy to see all the green blooming around my yard.....even if half of it is in the weeds. ......I guess happy IS a strong word to use here, but I do LOVE planting AFTER I've weeded ;) does that count?? Anyways....did I mention NO MORE dead things? YAY!

What are your happy thoughts for spring?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ever have one of THOSE moments?

I was down to my last bag.....just one tiny carry-on to unload......I had 75% of the wash done and put away. I was feeling pretty smug....

And ALL day long I've reveled in my 'clean' house....the house I worked SO hard to straighten up before we left....so I could come home and let our bags explode all over the place....and I could rest knowing the disaster was only surface deep.

I had dreaded picking up our dog, but we all missed her so much....most of her that is...except her hair. I missed Foxy Loxy but for most of today.....she wasn't just Foxy.....she was the dog that sheds......a LOT......coarse, white, wig-sized piles of hair EVERYWHERE.

Dog hair that congregates into balls of fur.....poofballs that fly ahead of my every step as I walk down the wood floored hallway. White strands of hair that hang like a cloud whenever she shakes or is pet lovingly. Ah yes, the fur. The fur that left over a week ago and stayed at Marmar's house while we were in Maui. The same hair that caused them to vaccuum 3 extra times during Foxy's visit.

Oh yes, you've heard of it, the dog hair that has me obsessed with every thing that is dropped on the floor.....because I end up having to pick out each hair when it doesn't come out in the wash. white, solid, javelin-like strands that poke out from our clothes as they hang dry. Argh, dog hair.

I know, I know, Foxy Loxy has as much a right to share this house as the rest of us....I just wish she'd learn how to sweep so she could pitch in!

I say all of that because I really HAD revelled in our clean floors ALL day LONG.....and the above statements were my topic of choice......but then we brought her home, our dear Foxy Loxy. And I gave up the fight, resolved to sweep and mop and vacuum again tomorrow.......no worries, no wrinkles right? As long as it's on MY terms right?

So our sweet pup rested with the kids, content to be home and share her dog hair with us.

And I wrestled the final contents out of a beach bag we'd taken to Maui. I continued unloading towels, cover-up shirts, and misc. sunscren supplies. I stacked the supplies on the counter and tossed the laundry 5 ft away to a hamper near the garage door. Lazy? Sure, but efficient under the circumstances.

And all the circumstances were good....for now!

That is.....until I found it.....a pocket of sand.....I should have remembered how much collects in our suits while we're boogie boarding.

I didn't just find it....I THREW it across the room. One lonely tankini, chalk full of Maui granules. And I heard it.....ALL of it.....the sounds of a million pieces of the island scattering across my 'clean' floor. SO I'm off to sweep......it's not about the dog hair now ;)

I love to end my nights with irony and housework....it helps me sleep.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Facts

Psst....I'm back .....
and already I'm online..........but with a mission......to make this St. Patty's Day fun for my kids!

And on my quest I'm loving the random factoids I've found, for instance:

I never knew that St Patrick used a shamrock to explain the Trinity........
Or that people want to Kiss the Blarney Stone to receive the gift of gab....or eloquence.

I knew there was a Saint involved....but really.....who actually knew he had anything to do with 'converting' people?? Not me, no sirey Patrick!

I just thought it was all about Leprechaun's and green food.
Well huh, ya learn something new every day!

Can I work Green Eggs and Ham into my lesson plan or is that pushing it??
Well I'm off to cut out some shamrocks! Happy Day to ya!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Writer's Workshop.... This Old Truck Limerick

This week's writing worshop had us delving back into our poetry notebooks. MamaKat assigned a LIMERICK as one of her writing prompts.
Seeing as I enjoyed that last acrostic I thought I could tackle this one too!

The directions I used to write this poem are listed down below. Don't laugh at me, I know...I am lame enough to go to ehow.com! But I can't be the ONLY one who had to look up the process!

A truck that is broken and rusty

On a bed that is no longer trusty

Will you throw it away?

Or let kids up to play

On this ride that is old and crusty?

To write your own limerick:
  1. Prepare to write five lines of verse. If you're stumped, try starting off your limerick with the traditional 'There once was a ...'
  2. Create the following stress pattern in lines one, two and five: da-DA da-da-DA da-da-DA da. For example, "There ONCE was a FEL-low named JER-ry...." You can omit the last unstressed syllable if you prefer.
  3. Create the following stress pattern in lines three and four: da-DA da-da-DA da. For example, "Per-PLEXED our dear PO-et." As before, you have the option of omitting the last syllable.
  4. Make sure your limerick's rhyme scheme is a-a-b-b-a. In other words, the first, second and fifth lines all rhyme with one another; the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other.
  5. Exploit puns and wordplay.