Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Animals on the Trek

We spent the first night of the trek at a farm.  The people who owned the farm were gracious enough to let 100 people invade their property, put up tents, and make a general raucous.  As I walked down their long driveway to where we were congregated, I couldn't help but notice some of their animals.  I particularly like goats, ever since living in the Netherlands. 

I spent some time sitting with the goats.  I liked those animals at the farm.  The animal I did not like was the rooster, and I think I could be happy for the rest of my life if I never hear a rooster again.

You know I always thought that roosters crow in the morning, to celebrate the coming of the sun.  Our schedule said to get up at 5:55 am, eat breakfast, take down our tents, repack our handcarts with whatever we had used for the night, and then begin walking.  So when the rooster crowed the first time, even though it was clearly still completely dark outside, I thought that meant it was only a matter of time before I had to get up, and even though I felt exhausted I began preparing myself mentally.  You'll have to get up soon, and be cheerful.  You can do it."  But no one else was stirring, so I fell back asleep. For about half an hour, when the rooster crowed again. And so it went, him crowing, me thinking I had to get up soon, falling back asleep, and then him crowing again.  Until I finally started to go a little crazy and checked the time. It was 4:00 in the morning. I think he had started crowing sometime after 2 am.  And continued. all. night. long.  The rooster may easily be my least favorite animal.

Or wait, that may be coyotes.  Before the rooster started crowing, when I still thought I might get a good nights' sleep, I lay there with my head snug on my pillow and began drifting off into the peaceful world of slumber when my quiet was shattered by something eerie and bonechilling.  Have you ever heard coyotes at night?  It is not the beautifully haunting sound of wolves you might be imagining.  It sounds wild and fierce and makes you want to cry a little at your own vulnerability.  We heard them both nights and nothing on the trek was as horrible as the sound they made at night.

One of the boys on the trek wandered off the trail, and near into some farmers' farmland.  I scolded him to get back on the road, and he said, "but don't you hear it?" so I stopped and listened, and there was the tiniest, faintest, pitifullest meowing you ever heard.  He continued toward it and out of the  bushes came the sweetest, prettiest, tiniest little Calico cat imaginable.  Some of my girls later somehow captured it and one of them swore she was going to take it home for a pet.  She was fairly warned that it was a wild cat, probably had worms, and would need a lot of care for being so young.  We saw some other wild cats on our trip, but none so young or sweet as that one.

There were a few horses on the trek as well, for the trail guide to ride, and for other various reasons.  At one point the horse and rider came up alongside me, and I continued walking not worrying too much about the large beast at my side, until he slowly began edging  me off the road.  That was a moment of excitement until the rider noticed and began edging him away from me again.

AND while I don't think I got any mosquito bites, I got some sort of tiny little bites all around  my ankles.  Chiggers?  I pray not, but what else could it be?

Tune in soon to hear about more of my trek experience.

What I Just Did

I just went on a Pioneer Reenactment Trek.  It was a youth conference for the youth in my church, ages 14 to 18 to have an opportunity to experience some of what it was like for the Pioneers who walked across the country from Illinois to Utah.  The plan for our trek was to go to Winter Quarters Temple, Visitor Center, and cemetery the first day, get our handcarts ready, camp, then begin pulling early the next morning.  The first day we were to walk 15 miles, and 10 the second.  That was the plan.  That's what I did last week.

I wanted to record some of the experiences while they are still fresh in my memory, and I kept thinking I would write it in my actual journal - but let's face it, now that I'm used to typing on a keyboard, writing things out by hand just feels tiring.  Call me lazy, but I walked 15 miles last week, so whatever.

I wasn't sure at first how to organize my thoughts and feelings about the trek, but after some consideration I have decided to write about it topically.  So I believe I will have a post for: animals, weather, food, pain, clothing, and maybe some others that I haven't thought of yet, but that's probably it. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Simple Brown Carpet.

I knew when Devin told me he had a conference in Indianapolis that I was going to make him take me with him, and that I would make him go to Richmond to see my family there.  Growing up we moved frequently, and my grandparent's house in Richmond always felt like a safe haven.  We returned there year after year, sometimes staying an entire summer.  It did not feel like vacation, it did not feel like a second home, it felt like the place I belonged most in the world.  I had a library card to the local library.

But since this conference in Indy that Devin had, I had not been back there for two years. Not since my grandmother's funeral.  On my agenda for this long awaited trip was to visit with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandpa, and to go out to the house where my grandpa and grandma lived.  That house, in the place that owned my heart, was home base.

I thought I would be fine going over there, helping my grandpa sort through odds and ends, and just wandering through memories.  I drove, and as I drove I could feel myself in the backseat seeing the scenery fly by as I had as a child.  Left turn on New Garden.  Past the tiny church. Past the cemetary.  Over the little bridge.  Past the house where the man keeps kangaroos. Left turn. Check mailbox after mailbox until! The big blue house appears, surrounded by what must have been countless hours of labor in a yard full of love.  I was fine through all of that.

I got out of the car, and looked around. I saw where my grandpa had built the trolley. I saw the pond that used to have ducks. I saw the front pasture and the back pasture where I used to ride with my grandpa on the riding mower. I saw the garden where I used to sit, weeding in the sun, trying desperately to think of an excuse to go help grandma in the kitchen instead.  I saw the place where the swing set was, and the trampoline.  I saw the old barn where we had to go to the bathroom one summer when we had overloaded the toilets.  I was fine through all of that.

We walked to the door, and the first thing I saw as the door opened was the carpet.  Simple brown carpet.  And for a while, as my eyes teared over, that was the last thing I could see.  Why carpet?  Of all things that held memories in this place, why the silly brown carpet?

That brown carpet holds the  memories of countless dreams as I napped on it while my cousins raced cars and played cards around me.  It held the images of a thousand movies watched while lying on its floor, surrounded by family, munching popcorn as we smiled at the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  That carpet held my knees for a thousand family prayers, after which I would get up and kiss my grandma on the cheek, and give my grandpa a big hug.

I think what hit me hardest about the carpet though, was its very stability. It's consistency, its constant just being thereness.  The duck pond came and went, the trampoline wasn't up every year, I seldom actually went in the barn, and there was always some new adventure to be had at Grandma and Grandpa's. But that carpet, it never changed.  And in my childhood, and into my teenage years, when I was uncertain who I was or where I belonged, when I sat on that carpet I knew exactly who I was, and I loved being exactly where I was.
Thank you Grandma, for those perfect childhood summers, for your simple brown carpet, for always loving me.  I am glad that I know exactly where you are, and I can meet you there someday.  What I would like to know is do they have brown carpets in heaven?

Monday, June 20, 2011

One Of These.

 I so want one of these.

A nap, that is.

AND a love sack.

AND (not pictured) a brownie.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Requisite Father Post.

I have known
three fathers
in my life.

The father of my youth
watched me grow
and taught me to value truth.
I am older now
and so, I suppose, is he.
I see my baby sitting on his knee.

The Father of my soul
watches me grow
He knows that
returning to live with Him
is my Earthly goal.

The father of my babies
is the man I chose.
He’ll teach them about God
and about honesty,
and that is why I love
my Mr. Rose.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Head Over Heels

Back in September I wrote a post about how I had fallen in love with this guy.  Over Memorial Day Weekend I finally got to meet him!

I took his picture in an effort to preserve the special moment forever.

I think the ONLY thing that is clear here is that I have a long way to go before I can use photography as a means of preserving memories.  Apparently it is not one of my natural talents.  You'll just have to take my word for it then that the moment was magical, and that he is a definite cutie.

Oh, but you know what, there is one fly in my ointment. The one small kink in my plan to marry him off to Hanna and reign forevermore as MOTHER IN LAW is this little princess.  (That's Kristy's sister Kelly's baby.)  She's a worthy contender, which you would be able to tell if I could take a picture that wasn't blurry.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hm Hmm Good

 Hanna loves chocolate pudding.  Hallie loves to laugh at the chocolate mess on Hanna's face. I didn't have the heart to break it to Hallie.

But I do love the irony, ya know?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Do you know how hard it is to say goodbye to these faces?

But how can you help yourself when it's been two and a half years since you've seen THESE faces?

It was so good to see you guys!

And thanks to good friends in Lincoln who made it possible for me to leave...

Saturday, June 4, 2011


When Hallie was just a baby I was often panicked about whether or not I was a good parent, and if I would be a good parent as she got older and the parenting issues became more complicated and with longer lasting implications.

My heart fell into my feet yesterday, and I stared at Hallie willing myself not to cry, not to overreact, but to think the moment through slowly and figure out an appropriate response as she stood there and stared at me, perhaps not realizing the bombshell she had just dropped on me.

She's just over three years old.  We were getting ready to go to the lake to play with some friends we were meeting there.  She was so excited, and had been running around the house all morning practicing swimming like a turtle.  She even taught Hanna how to do it.  I got out their swimsuits and put them on, because I wanted to make sure that we had suits that fit, this being the first time we've gone swimming this season.  Hallie was bouncing off the walls full of exuberant toddler energy.  Satisfied that the suits fit well, I left to go take care of other things, packing towels and sunblock and a picnic lunch.  She's just over three years old.  Did I already say that?

Hallie found me, and had a sad look on her face. "I need a new swimsuit." She told me. "Why?" I asked her.  "Because this one makes my belly look big."

I just stared at her. Does she mean that? Does she know what she is saying, or is she just parroting something she has heard other people say? (Me? Have I said that?)  I took a deep breath, told myself to relax, and said, "Hallie, your tummy is beautiful."

"No, mommy. This swimsuit makes it look too big. I need a new one." She said, as she compulsively ran her hands up and down her precious toddler belly.  Again, I just stared at her. What is the appropriate response here?  Part of me was sort of glad that we were having this conversation when she was three, because if she had been thirteen I have a feeling she would have been talking about it to her girlfriends and not to me, and what would they say?  It scares me...

I said, "Hallie, I think that your tummy is perfect. I think it is beautiful, and I think... I think... I think I am going to have to put some kisses on it now." And I leaned in and blew raspberries and kisses all over it, tickling and hugging her at the same time.  It worked of course, and she was off like a rocket, giggling and squealing.  But she came back a minute later.  "Is your tummy big, Mommy?"  I looked down at mine. Sure it was bigger than I wished it was. But I thought about the response I had given her about her tummy, and it made me think of what my mom would say to me if she were here.  'Your tummy is perfect. I think it is beautiful."  So I was being honest when I told her that I thought my tummy looked just fine.  And I'm going to try really, really hard to remember that when I look in the mirror.  For her sake, and mine.

And part of me still worries, and wonders. Was that the correct response? Should I have done differently? What will I do if/when she faces these worries again later, when she might really mean it?