Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

(Temporary Backup) Jonah’s baptism


It’s been 10 months, and probably two inches since Jonah was baptized. I put the photos into this post about 3 months later, and here they’ve sat,  gathering dust. 

So here I sit, tapping this out on my phone while listening to Ellie’s cello lesson, then I need to drop her off at a WiFi hotspot in town for her online class before taking Tessa to have a reluctant and painful baby tooth pulled. Thankfully, she is anticipating not feeling well enough to go to piano lesson so we can skip that (no, not thankfully. Of course, I’m not glad for her pain). Then to pick up Ellie and hurry home to feed dad and get dinner started, and finally off to presidency meeting followed by youth activity,  my third trip into town today. Yeah, I guess there’s a reason I don’t get a lot of time to write.  I don’t get important things like recording our lives, because we are too busy living. 

Sadly, I don’t remember much about the day of Jonah’s baptism. We had new friends from Jackson, old friends from Rancho, and some of our family. I do remember taking Jonah out for a prayer in the woods, and how sweet he was. I remember him asking me why Jesus cares so much about us getting baptized. We talked for a long time, and he pretty much gave me the answer to his own question. 

I know many people wouldn’t understand the reason behind people in our faith being baptized beginning at the age of eight. We believe as children age and mature they are able to understand the roll of Christ in their lives and begin to be accountable for their choices at around the age of 8 years. That testimony will of course grow over time in small steps. The choice to be baptized, though encouraged by family, is the individual’s first step of devotion on a lifelong path of decipleship. 

On our walk that morning, I asked Jonah if he really wanted to be baptized. He said, “Well, I have to now because everyone is already coming.”

“No, you don’t.” I told him. “This is between you and your Heavenly Father, and if you don’t feel ready, we don’t have to do this today. I want you to always remember that this is your choice.”  He thought about it for a few moments rather seriously, then said he would like to continue.  

I do remember how serious he was that day. He was very focused. He listened to every word spoken. It was sweet. 

The rest of the day was busy the way family days are busy. Food and laughter and joking around. But my favorite part of the day, besides witnessing his baptism, was my morning in the woods with Jonah. 






Besties!




Are we having fun yet?


Guy and his choir


My cute man-boy




 

I’m so grateful for pictures. They do so much to fill in the blanks in my memory. It’s like they wake up and come out of hiding. But, by waiting so long to write, these darn pictures also make me see how much they’ve grown!

Monday, April 15, 2019

As Fun as a Needle in Yer' Neck!


So autoimmune disease
is like this:

Your body is a house.

Your immune system is a bodyguard 
set outside the door to keep you and your house safe.

One day the bodyguard opens the door, steps in with a baseball bat, and starts
 bashing the crap out of your tchotchkes and thingamabobbles. 
  Then he bonks you on the head for good measure. 

Sadly, Western Medicine's approach is:

Get a broom and dustpan and sweep up behind the bodyguard, 
replace the Ming vase with a coke bottle, 
and slap a bandage on your head.

They do not, however, try to kick out the bodyguard.

The cycle is expected to continue until the house is destroyed and you have hamburger for brains. 
Then you get moved to a cheap apartment.

All that is to say that the basic approach is to treat the symptoms, replace the hormones that the damaged organ is not able to make, and wait
 for more damage and eventual destruction. 

It's not how I do things.
I study. I research. I experiment. 
My goal is to find a way
 to reform the bodyguard. 
Maybe even get him back on my side. 

*****
This is how it’s been:
GP, Rheumatology, Head and Neck, Dermatology, Allergy, Optomology and Opthomology have all sent me on to the next guy. It’s autoimmune hot-potato
(and, by the way, each one have said “There is no research to support diet changes, but if it makes you "feel better", go ahead.” And by feel better, they don’t mean physically). 

I had been told by other autoimmune folks not to hope for much from an endocrinology appointment. 
 I kept my expectations low. 

After the usual “where does it hurt?” chit-chat, Dr. P did an ultrasound of my thyroid. The growths were only slightly suspicious to her, though she admitted that cancer tended to have vague borders, which my growth (she said there was only one) had. She told me a biopsy was up to me, or we could wait and see. 

Hmmmm... wait 6 months and see if it’s cancer, or find out now.... 
what to chooooose....

Now, please!

Oh, wait, she meant NOW now. 
No appointment for a month from today. 
Now. 

I hoped up on the table, she sprayed my neck with utterly useless numbing spray, 
and then sunk a needle into my throat (the answer is 
YES.IT.HURT.LIKE.BLUE.BLAZES!  Thanks for asking).   
And if one stick in the neck was good, four was even better.

Guy said he could see the needle on the ultrasound as she dug all around in my neck with it each time. Apparently it is a little unpleasant to watch.
Of course, I was sorry to have been such a nuisance to him. 
On my end, it felt like my throat had mice with ice cleats on running around inside it.

She bandaged up my neck. 
I was miffed that after all that, 
she gave me a Barbie doll bandaid. 
It was kinda’ insulting, frankly.

She then gave me a prescription. Traditionally I avoid meds when possible, but new research has indicated that even if my thyroid levels are in the safe zone, they might be too low for me personally. So if a small amount of  medication could help my symptoms, I was willing). 

But my favorite part of the appointment was when she encouraged me to modify my diet. 

WHAT?! A doctor that believes you can influence your health by improving your diet? I pretty much almost hugged her!

She made a few suggestions. I smiled at Guy. I told her what I have been doing the past 2 months (more on that later). She was surprised and the strictness of my food protocol, but was all in favor. 

We chatted about a medical industry that is driven by pharmaceutical companies who finance studies intended to promote dependence on the drugs they manufacture. Of course, there aren’t many studies on diet!  No drug company wants you to see food as medicine.  Grocery stores don't require prescriptions.

*****
So that was last week. 
And lucky you, you don’t even have to wait as long as I did for the results. 

Negative. 
Yay for no cancer! That’s twice in two months.

I guess, for that, I will forgive them their puny bandaid. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Lesson in Daffodils




I have always loved daffodils.  In fact, I planted them in the tiny yard of our little apartment back in Santa Rosa, and dozens more in both the front and back of the Rancho house.  I wanted to bring them with me when we moved, but it seemed silly to dig up the yard.   But I knew how much the love I had given to my yard would be appreciated by the next owners of our little house.  So I left behind my daffodils, irises, crocus, lilacs, wisteria, callas, African daisies, and roses to be loved in their new life by their new people.

About three months after we moved from Rancho, we were invited back to neighbor Betty's house to go swimming.  When we got to her back yard, I couldn't help but glance through the chain link fence between her yard and that of my old house, only to see that all of it, every flower, every plant, was either dead or dying.  Even my hearty lavender was nearly gone.

.......Yes!  Of course I was devastated!!!  I should have rescued every last bulb and branch!

But we live here now.  Here, where the deer will eat anything.  Anything, that is, but daffodils.  I don't know why, but they won't touch them.  And there are, kindly left behind by the previous owner, several patches of daffodils throughout our new property.  Soon after we moved in I decided I would add to them, but missed the planting season last year.  So this fall I bought a big bag of bulbs, and marked my calendar for the perfect day to plant them; October 5th.  There was no special reason except that the almanac showed it to be ideal.  Funny, though, now that I think of it, it is both the day Guy and I got engaged and the day we lost one of the babies.  Isn't it strange how after so many years -a day of such joy, and later a day of such pain- it would become just a day; a nice day for planting flowers.

But buying those bulbs in the middle of September might have been the last thing I did before the shingles hit.  I postponed the bulb planting, thinking, soon... soon... But when the shingles morphed and Hashimoto's showed up, the bulbs were set aside.

Aside, but I could feel them begging to be planted.  I know bulbs need to be cold all winter to bloom well, so that wasn't a problem.  They were certainly cold enough in their resting spot by the stairs.  But they wouldn't last forever out there.

I have been, in the interim,  going to doctors about once a week and getting lots of tests run.  The GP sent me to the rheumatologist and the allergist.  The allergist sent me to the dermatologist.  The optometrist sent me to the ophthalmologist who is sending me to the oculoplastic surgeon.  Everyone is giving me creams and drops and ointments, which is just a barrel of monkeys.  The big, superdy-duper important appointment, the one with the endocrinologist, is finally just days away.  That is the one where (we hope, though we have been told we shouldn't bother hoping) there may be some answers and treatments for the Hashimoto's.  My thyroid ultrasound showed two large growths, so that is what I am most interested in resolving (read between the lines... checking for cancer).  And all the while the damage to my thyroid has played out in the typical symptoms... the exhaustion, sleepiness, pain, dry eyes and hair loss, for me, are dominant out of the dozens of symptoms of the disease.

So there they sit... the daffodil bulbs, with all of their potential for life and beauty, packed in tight behind a mesh net bag.  They have become a symbol for what is going on for me.  All that I want to do but can't, all that I desire to create and accomplish, bound up and restrained.

I went outside a few days ago to help Adam find a part to the leaf blower.  We searched the usual spots (put away. why would it be put away?) and then I went for the less obvious spots (the ones where lazy children dump things.  I know, why didn't I check there first?).

Well, I didn't find the part, but I did find the bulbs. And the instant I saw them I burst with a joyous laugh...



They didn't care that they weren't planted... no soil, no pot!  They didn't even mind the tight mesh bag pressing them from all sides.  There, peaking  -no, reaching!- out of the blue mesh, were two dozen green stalks.  They had found their way out of the bulbs, out of the bag, and into the light, reaching skyward.

I can't tell you what those amazing little bulbs have done for me.

I'm still very tired and often in pain.  I sleep a lot, and when I am not sleeping, I'm counting the hours and minutes till my next nap.  I'm not painting or making pots or much else.  I do school with the kids, and drive here and there, and then collapse on the couch in the sunny window, trying to warm up.  But ever since seeing those daffodils reaching out of their bindings, I have felt a little freer, a little more cheerful, and a little less weighted down.  I know that this is going to be a long process and maybe get much worse before it gets better, but I think the lesson in the daffodils, for me, is to take my rest but not give up.  It might be hard, and it won't be like it was before, but I will still be able to make, and do, and be something beautiful.


The other day I asked my husband for a blessing, a special prayer for health and comfort.  After it was done, a friend who was there suggested that maybe someone out there who is going through a similar struggle would benefit from my sharing my journey here.  

I hope you all won't mind.



Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Insta-Date



Natalie has been extra snugly lately.  I don't know exactly what has triggered it.  I certainly don't mind.  I love it that this tiny peanut still wants to read together, sing together, sit on my lap; the whole thing.  What makes it even more fun is that she is still so tiny she fits like a little toddler in my arms.


The other day we found ourselves alone together, a rare event in the lives of a homeschooling family.  I usually have the whole gypsy circus in tow.  


Nano realized it only a few minutes after I did. 
 "Mom!  It's just us!  What if we had a date?!"


Back in Sac, Guy and I used to take turns taking the kids on dates. 
 But with our new life in the woods, we haven't been able to make it work.  
The kids have missed it.  

I gotta be honest, I had thought about the fact that we were alone, and that it might be an opportunity to go on a date, but I hadn't said it out loud because I had things to do.  Errands and crap.  Looking back, I don't even remember what was so important that it would have kept me from her.

 Nano was right.  It was time for a date.  I had been carrying her gift card in my wallet for a couple of months, a present long overdue to be used.  It was just enough for a kid's meal and a cone for the cutie pie, and she boasted loudly to the other customers that this was her first time at this particular burger joint, her first kid's meal, and wow, look at that, a toy!!!

It was fun to listen to her babble along.  That little pip has a lot to say!  We giggled and talked about ponies and her new favorite color (light blue and purple next to each other).  And she reminded me what a delight it is to be with her alone.

I am glad that she tells me what she needs.  
I can be forgetful, and I don't want to miss this.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Sisters ~ Lost Post #1


These two girls are 

black and white
sweet and salty
cool turquoise and warm lavender

They fought over what color they would paint their room for weeks.  
Finally, I took the decision away

"Grey.  End of story."

Maybe I can help them find the neutral ground in their relationship.

*****
 Whenever they fight, 
I tell my girls they need to understand something...
(here is my lecture, in case you need to use it sometime):

"Your sister is the best friend you will ever have.  You will have a million friends in your life, but most will disappear in 5 years.  If you are lucky, you will still have one or two of those friends when you are an adult*see note. But your sister is the friend that God hand picked for you.  She will be at your wedding, and your births, and she will be there for every important event in your life, for the REST of your life.  You need to cherish your relationship with her.  Protect it and take care of it.  
(blah blah blah, ten more minutes of similar content)"

I worry, though.  I really believe what I am saying.  And I know that some sibling relationships develop deep wounds in childhood and teen years that leave scars.  Big ones.  But then there are some siblings that have sweet and amazing relationships, and I can only assume those seeds sprouted in childhood, as well.

I want that for my kids (the seed thing, not the scar thing).

The grey space where they both can Be.
Together, but unique
Supportive, with boundaries
Helpful, but not codependent
Individuals, but never alone.



 



*Remember in the lecture when I said that bit about only having one or two lifetime friends?
That might have been a fib, but only because I have been soooo blessed in my life with many dear and amazing life-long friendships.  True soul sisters.  But I don't think that is how it is for most people, and I never take that blessing for granted.

*****
This post, and perhaps a dozen others, were begun and never finished since I have been sick and overwhelmingly busy in the past year.  I was going to let them go, but then I realized that since this blog is really for my family, it doesn't matter when I post them, only that I do.  So this is the first of many Lost Posts that I will publish.   

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Here Comes the Bride


When I met Melissa, little Jessica was just a toddler.  She was the smartest little child I had ever met.  She was a chubby-cheeked, whispy haired, toe-head with deep brown eyes and an ever deeper voice, who started learning to talk at just nine months old.  Serious and funny, she was always wiser than her years. 

Melissa was at two of my kids births in person (and two by phone... yes, she listened as I bellowed my babies out).  And I was at two of hers. We cooked, cleaned, walked, and nursed babies together. We spent some part of every day together for years. When I look back at many of my favorite memories, Melissa is quietly there, bringing joy. 

Sixteen years ago, after years of being neighbors with Melissa’s family in the same apartment complex, we moved.  Not just our family, but Melissa's too.  We moved away the same week, planned that way so that we didn't have to be “the ones left behind”. 

Over the years we have kept in touch.  It took us a while to negotiate our relationship via phone.  Up until that time, our phone calls went like this:

"Hey."
"Hey."
"Can you com'mere?"
"Be right there."

But we figured it out.  Now, 16 years later, we don't get to talk as often as we'd like, but when it came to Jessie getting married, it was simple.  Guy said it best...

"It's Melissa. You have to go."


I got to Salt Lake on a Thursday afternoon.  What a joy to see my sweet Melissa, and Jess surprised me by joining her at the airport.  We got our nails done (a first for me, and probably last if all manicurists are that masochistic!), and the next day we made food!  Lots of food!!!


A few hundred little caprese skewers, bazillion sandwich pinwheels, a million fruit cubes and cake squares later, and we were somewhat ready for the nuptials. 



The next morning I got the privilege of escorting the lovely bride-to-be to the temple with her proud mama.



Melissa looked so lovely. Again, Guy said it best... “She never ages!”



Jessie’s only sign of nerves hit in the car, but were short lived. My favorite mental picture from the day was seeing her and her sweetie walking hand in hand up to the temple. 



The ceremony was lovely, of course, but I missed sitting in the Temple with my own sweetie.  Temple weddings are a very simple affair.  There are only a couple of dozen family and close friends in the small sealing room, so it feels very tender and intimate.  I love seeing the bride and groom walk in holding hands.  The sealer who performs the marriage usually gives a short bit of council to the young couple, and it always brings home the beauty and purpose of marriage.  After the exchange of promises while kneeling across the altar from each other, the couple then shares a sweet kiss over the altar, and are pronounced husband and wife for time and all eternity. 

The ceremony only lasts about 20 minutes, but it is sweet and reverent.  At the end, well wishers pass by the new husband and wife in turn,  whispering their quiet congratulations.  I had managed to hold back my tears until that moment, but couldn't help it once I looked into that sweet girl's gorgeous brown eyes.  The years folded in on themselves, and I could see how short a lifetime must be in God’s eyes. She whispered how glad she was that I had come.  I felt so grateful.



From that point on, the day was the flurry that most wedding days are.  There were a million pictures in subzero temperatures (it feels that way when you are out there long enough. It was Utah, after all). 



And suddenly I saw the scene, not from the generation getting married, but from the parent generation. When did we get so old? 








I loved that I got to be THAT person for my sweet Melissa.  The one who watches from the side and makes sure her bra strap isn't showing, no lipstick on the teeth, that her hair is blowing the right way... the one that will remember how beautiful she looks to tell her about later,  when we are two old ladies, a million years (or five minutes) from now.



An amazing thing happened for me that day.  I had been so worried about my health getting in the way of what we needed to accomplish for the reception.  After all that Melissa has meant to me in my life, I wanted to be everything she needed me to be on her special day.  Before the trip I had changed my diet to follow the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), and had done great until the day prior.  The diet is a lot of work (more on that next time), so I decided not to worry about my food that day, and just eat what was available, praying that I would still be okay.

The amazing thing was that for the first time in months, I felt awesome.  So awesome.  I was quick on my feet and had tons of energy.  I lasted all day, and right into the night.  I spent the reception chasing Melissa back out of the kitchen, chatting with long-missed friends (the McKays, also old friends from the apartments, and my Soul Buddy Ellen from Sac, who now lives in Utah), and cutting watermelon and such.  I seriously felt better than I had since before the shingles hit back in September.



It didn't last, I will admit, but it gave me hope for better days ahead.  The next day my flu symptoms hit again, and I spent the day in Melissa's recliner nibbling leftover wedding food and visiting with my dear friend until it was time to go to the airport.  By a sweet coincidence, Jessica and hubby Brayden's flight to the Bahamas was leaving just ten minutes after mine, so we got to take her to the airport with us.  It was the perfect ending to my stay (I mean, for me.  I think she was focused on other things).

God answers prayers, even silly ones for a little extra energy. 

Isn’t that wonderful of him?

Friday, March 1, 2019

Luggage



Febrary 21, 2019

I’m in an airplane somewhere over The Rocky Mountains. I’m in the middle seat, sandwiched between a very polite teenager, a rarity in any state, and a guy who has Wi-Fi when nobody else seems to. Out the window the mountains are blanketed in snow so thick it looks like clouds.  My luggage wasn't all that heavy, but I checked it anyway, to avoid the overhear storage situation.

 I’m headed to Utah.

My dear friend, Melissa, waits for me at the airport on the other side. Her daughter, Jessica, is getting married in two days. It’s so hard to believe. Cliché I know, but I remember when she was in diapers (Jessica, of course, not Melissa), and Melissa remembers me before I ever had any kids at all.

She called me when I was sitting in the airport. She apologized for the changes the years have brought on; a few wrinkles, maybe a few extra pounds. Funny,  I was worrying about the same thing, but I told her I’d given up on looking cute anymore. We both knew I was lying.

It’s the first time I’ve traveled by myself in a long time. This time, I’m packing more than just luggage. Last week I received a diagnosis for Hashimoto’s disease. My immune system has been steadily attacking my thyroid gland for a couple of decades now. But things eventually got bad enough, and I finally got sick enough for someone to pay attention. The evidence was there all along, but now we have the tests to prove it.  I've also tested positive on two different Lupus tests, but apparently Lupus is a little trickier to diagnose. More tests next month, then Sjogren's tests after that.  Fingers crossed for more answers. 

Right on the heals of Shingles, a breast cancer scare, and a lovely knee injury, I have been plunged head first into the world of autoimmune disease.  I'm studying, researching, and experimenting with diet protocols to see if there will be relief beyond pharmaceuticals. So far 3 doctors have informed me that changing what I eat will not help (side tangent: that's what they used to say about diabetes, heart disease, and celiacs).  I'm not willing to accept that I can't have an impact in this.

So for now, I can't lift my smallish suitcase up to the overhead because my right arm isn't working too well.  After the shingles in the fall, it started to hurt all the time, and I can't lift anything heavier than a glass of water if my arm is extended.  I fight constant flu symptoms that come and go all day long, and rage at night.  And just for chuckles, a rash has shown up around my eyes in the last few weeks.

Anyway, I hope I’ll be able to be help to Melissa. I know I won’t quite be the powerhouse I was back when she and I used to have all-day cooking marathons, house cleaning trades, laundry-folding gab sessions, and toddler birthday parties to plan.  But I really, really want to be there for her.

Because this is no little birthday party.  
This is a big deal. 

This is Jessica’s wedding.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

When God Clears Your Calender


Hmmm...
Where to begin?

I’m told often by a few people who love me that there is (and has been) a lot of stress in my life. They have worried for my health. 

And perhaps it's true. I may have overloaded myself a bit; may have been swimming in a chemical sea of adrenaline and cortisol.  There's the 7:30 am retrieval of Ellie from scripture study class in town.  Ellie and Tessa combined have 8 classes, plus music lessons in far flung fields, and with Jonah, all three have horseback riding on Fridays;  I teach 3 art classes, and have a hefty calling at church and extra assignments.  We make, on average, 10 trips to town every week. And that's just school.

In mid-September, around the last time I posted here, the stress bucket sort of spilled over in the speckled spectacle of shingles; with it's searing skin, electrical shocks, flu symptoms, and aching muscles.  It carried on for three months on my entire right side, from scalp to knee.  

As shingles is triggered by stress, I would have to acknowledge the flow that filled the pail in the first place.  Guy reminded me that August saw a breast biopsy, wherein the machine broke down, leaving me locked in the clamp for two and a half hours, tools deeply embedded, tears flowing. With the happy news of a negative diagnosis, no one mentions the two challenging months of healing.

Or before that, the year of roller-coastering with non-bloggable kid drama and trauma, of negotiating our new world in the woods, of figuring out life as caregivers, and before that, all the business of fixing up and selling one house while buying another. 

Yah. I guess folks have been right. Life has loaded my plate. Or I did.
Or both.

After the shingles hit, the doctor said I needed to lighten my load.  With homeschooling there have been so many classes and commitments.  We are running all the time.  I thought about what I could cut.

Then an ache came.  It was in my wrist and thumb joint, and then migrated to the elbow.  Now it's from the shoulder down.  The jolts if pain from the shingles had finally began to fade, but for some reason the flu symptoms had gotten worse.  One day at church, I reached my hand out to receive my weekly high-five from my favorite 4 year old, Dean.  His little smack felt like a hot explosion in my hand that went on hurting for a half hour.  

I finally caved in and went to the doctor
 (I mean, Dean is a tough kid, but he's, like, 3 feet tall)  
13 blood tests.
A rheumatology visit
One positive.

A possibly-false-positive.  Because an agitated immune system can trigger a false positive.  More tests would follow after two months, just to give the shingles time to re-roof.

So far no improvement.

So I trimmed to our schedules a little.  We dropped a couple of classes for next semester, but I just really couldn't see how I could cut any more.  Not right now. 

I thought.

It rained on Sunday.  After church we ran to the van to stay dry.  My knee sort of buckled and gave out.  I hit the concrete hard.  Something exploded behind my knee.  

*****

And it turns out that there is nothing in my schedule
 that cannot be cut. 

The good news is: no broken bones, and the ligaments, tendons and ACL all seem to be intact, though badly bruised and swollen.  Crutches, ice, elevate, recheck in two weeks.

 And after years of asking,
 I finally got a referral to an endocrinologist...

*****

...and an opportunity 
to simplify.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Her worst nightmare



Natalie is terrified
of the public restroom. 
 It's getting a little better as she grows older, but 

THIS

THIS throne here, 
is her worst nightmare.

She would rather hold it
or pee on a tree
or in her pants
or make the 3 hour drive home with a full bladder
than sit on an auto-flush commode.

She starts worrying about it before we even hit the restroom door, outlining her escape plan.  Once we open the stall and she sees the little black box on the pipe, with its evil glowing red light, she simply states,
 "OOOOOHHH no.  
I am NOT going in THERE."

And there is a good reason. 


The light-up loo can't tell that she's there.  
She is so tiny, that after she climbs up, she has to lean forward to hang on and not fall in.  The laser thinks she left, and 
"SPLOOOOSH!"
the beast tries to swallow her alive.

She is so terrified her eyes bulge, she stiffens and screams, and then shakes all over for a good five minutes.  It's fight or flight, only she can't fly.  She would probably leap off the thing if she weren't in mid-stream.  I have tried to cover the sensor with my hand, but I usually end up triggering it and then she blames me, not the mean ol' john.  

So bathroom visits are a little stressful, for all of us.
Mercifully, there are some less worrisome water closets out there. When Nano sees a good old-fashioned porcelain privy with a shiny chrome handle, she croons,
"OOOOOH, yah, baby!  This is a good one!"
 in the voice of the Studio C "Oh Yah" lady.

I have to admit, after seeing what she goes through, I am a bit relieved myself.
No pun intended.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Fallen Fringe



There really is magic all around our woods. The music of the forest air is strange and melodic.  The dappled sunlight dances off of the fawny backs of dear and their babes.  Almost daily Jonah and Nano find lovely sparkling stones, cool, bendy sticks and blushing feathers on the ground.  Everywhere I go, I find myself scanning around my feet for the pretty plumes.  But on a walk to the lookout a few weeks ago, we stumbled upon the scene of foul play (forgive me, but really, how could I not?!).  It was little Natalie, her eyes so near the ground, who noticed the vermilion vestiges scattered on the forest floor.  A veritable explosion of plucked pinions.  She stopped, gathering them in her tiny hands, then toted them all the way to the lookout and back.  Treasures carried by a princess, most certainly.

A few days later she searched diligently in our Birds Of North America book, comparing each quaffed quill to those in the pages, to no avail.  My best guess had been the Black Headed Grosbeak, but the book said, No mama, you are wrong.  So we wrote a pleading petition to an ornithologist; sent pictures - the works.  

In one short day we received our response.  And the results are...

The Northern Flicker Woodpecker.

The kind and very informative email came with a most unfortunate post script.  We were instructed to return the feathers to the forest.  Apparently, anti-poaching laws state that one may not keep any foundling feathers, because it cannot be proven that they were not procured by nefarious means.  You can't just look at a feather and tell if it simply fell from the sky, or was plucked from an assassinated avian.

We can apply for a permit, like real live scientists,
 to be able to catalog and keep our coral calami (I know that one was a stretch.  Calamus is just the quill part of the feather, but ya' know, I needed a feather related C word).  

In the mean time they must go back out to nature.

Do you think our back porch
 is close enough to the forest?







Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Last Of Firsts

I’m all about finding the cloud on the outside of the silver lining. It’s what I do. Call me Eeyore. 

So I can’t help but notice when yet another “first” has blasted through my heart, scrambling my mama-emotions, and left me in a sad little sentimental heap, as it becomes a “last”. My baby, my last baby, my darling little girl, my little miracle child, is not my baby anymore.

I tried to deny it when she ditched diapers because, let’s face it, she still pees the bed, and pull ups ain’t cheap. I tried to brush it aside when those back molars came in and she begrudgingly accepted the fact that I had to call “closing time” on nursing (she was the only one I sincerely worried I would still be nursing on her spring-break visits from college). I diligently ignored her growing vocabulary, exploding creativity, and generally off-the-charts sassafras, because of her tiny size. I mean, after all, I’m still pulling size 3 clothes out of her drawers, and her butt could fit on a graham cracker.

But there’s no denying it now. Because babies don’t go to kindergarten. Nope, kinder is for big girls.

Natalie’s first day of school was, according to her (and flippantly matter-of-factly, I might add), “Great!”.  She did her chores, worked on her ABCs (because her sister was determined she should be very schooly), and compared feathers we found in the yard to our bird identification book. She was read to, drew pictures of the beach, watched a program about flying fish, had lovely snacks, and jumped on the trampoline for PE.

Frankly, it was no different from any other day in this house. But in her world, it was the first day of kindergarten, and she’ll remember it forever.

And so will her mother. Because it was MY very last First Day of School.









Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Freedom - A Photo Album

I won't get on any soapbox here, but with all the talk about immigration from both sides of the fence (or wall, as it were), my heart has been feeling tender.  I don't like my heart to feel tender when I write posts. because I am likely to say something out of deep emotion that triggers someone that I love to comment in defense of some toe I have stepped on.  

This isn't about that.  It's just about my heart.

I feel so grateful each fourth since 2013 when Natalie's and my life (lives? how do you say that?) were saved by amazing doctors and nurses, by prayer, by faith, by science and the time period and place we were lucky enough to be born in.

I'm grateful on the fourth because the month after Nano was born, on the fourth, I walked to see the fireworks with my family (though I had to get a ride back home).  I was still only halfway through the ordeal with my bloodclots, which would return twice more, and my pelvic veins were completely blocked, but I could walk, I had my leg, I had my baby, and I had my life.

I'm grateful because on the following fourth, I ran in my first ever 5K.  I came in 14 million and twelfth.  I was awesome.  Moms pushing double-strollers were passing me, but I did it.

The next two years blurred into that blissful place of New Normal; not what they once were, but certainly not what they could have been.

And this year, as I sat with my family, a new feeling of gratitude arrived.  I am grateful that my children are safe and protected in this place I am blessed to live.  They have food security and all the simple things in life that make the difference between peace and worry, even if those things are humble at times.  They are as safe as I can make them from a world that would take them and hurt them; that would take away their childhoods and replace them with fear and trauma and distrust forever.

I am so grateful to live here.  With all it's flaws and struggles to get it right for EVERYONE, which I hope we will ever be working towards, I can acknowledge the good while holding hope for a less troubled future for this country that I love.

We are blessed.

*****



My little peanut, always full of her own kind of fireworks!




Hmmm, something just doesn't quite look right here...





There, that's better!



We call this his "Flynn Ryder" (look it up).



This is the year she has changed the most.






He usually shys away from my camera, 
but so far, not from the offer to snuggle.



Snuggles for everyone!



It's getting dark! 
The fireworks take forever to start when you are five.



But once they do, you can almost touch them!



Natalie danced to the music the ENTIRE time. 
She started out plugging her ears, but by the end,
 she was more fun to watch than the fireworks!

*****

In Amador county, the Fourth is so fun they start on the third! 
That leaves the Fourth for family time and play, the whole day.


We always reach out to Dr. F 
on the Fourth because it is also his birthday
(though I spelled his name wrong, whoops!). 
One more reason to be grateful!



Tessa and Big Ellie fought over Erin's Baby Ellie all evening.



Bill and Syndi Dyer bring a spark of joy with them 
(which is good, because it's the only sparking we can have in the woods!)



Dad joined us, and where dad is, there is Penny!  So fun to have him here.
And Erin was joined later by her hubby, who we seldom get to see
 as he works protecting our state from wildfire.  More gratitude.



This could be a Normal Rockwell painting!



Jonah planned a water balloon fight, and everyone loved it.



After it was over, there was a water-balloon-picking-up-contest. 
 The winner got a baggie of nickles!  Congrats Aeron!
(best dollar I ever spent!)



As is our family tradition, we watched The Music Man once the sun went down, only this time we did it projected on the garage on a sheet.  Those who could stay had a ball.



 It was chilly, so everyone bundled up for the show.
This was the only picture I got of Bonnie and Peter... and the Uhri's evaded my camera this time as well.  I need to be a better photographer next time. Ethan now lives in Sacramento and decided to hang out there for the Fourth.  My kids they is growin' up!

Can't wait till next year!