Monday, April 29, 2013

A Visit With My Sister

My sister is in town visiting.  She goes home early tomorrow, taking her three small children and all the delicious noise and chaos and laughter and sunshine with her.  It has been so great having her here, full of adventures and bodily fluids and games and tears and everything you'd expect when you shove six kids under the age of five together and tell them to have fun.  Five of the children are girls, and her son Daniel is the one lone boy child.  The ages are: Hallie, 5. Jill, 4. Hanna, 3. Daniel, 2. Heather, 1. Alice, 2 months.

And so we play and run and jump and squeal and there is so much energy bouncing off the walls of my home these past days that I think it will still be vibrating long after she's gone. And spring is finally starting to rouse herself and put on a show.  I saw my first flower blooms yesterday, as well as a first glimpse of flowering trees.  When she got here it was snowing and raining and so freezing cold that we all huddled inside my house and looked around the room at each other solemnly, wondering who would  be the next to dash for the toilet.  A few days of that, and then the sun popped out and began dancing through the sky, touching a bud here and a bud there, whispering gently, so gently, "now! it is time to wake up, now!"

We burst out the doors and into the sunshine, shedding layers of winter clothing, our pale skin pleading for vitamin d.  Most of the kids went straight for the sandbox and happily wiled away the hours watching the tiny particles sift through their fingers.  And then Daniel threw a huge rock at Hallie and she screamed and cried for a long, long, long time.

Most of the adults sort of ignored it, Hallie is going through a phase right now of not really understanding the difference between "big" hurts and "little" hurts, and I have told her a hundred times that if she screams so much when Hanna scratches her, I won't be able to recognize when she gets an "actual" hurt, so she needs to save the big crying for big hurts.  Finally she convinced me to actually go look at the size of the rock thrown, and I did, and I thought, "man, how did he even lift that thing?" But one thing I've learned about little tiny boys with sunshine in their hair, and blueberries for eyes, and apple pie cheeks is that they are strong.  Strong little men these boy children are.  It's fun having a boy child around.

And, that's really all I have to say.  Um, my sister showed me how to make picture collages, so there's those, and alrighty then.  Have a nice day.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Absolute Randomness

Yesterday Hanna was singing a song that was originally from Phineas and Ferb.  The line is supposed to say something like "There's a bully shaped hole in my heart." Which, when you think about it, is random enough on its own. But then Hanna went and changed it up a little.

"A booty shaped hole in my heart."

And then Hallie got my camera again, and took some shots.

And then I got to eat some of my sister's delicious guacamole for lunch and it made me very happy.

Alright... is that enough pictures of guacamole now?  Good, good.

I ran a 5k on Saturday with some of my friends. When I say "with" I mean that we hung out at the starting line together, and then they all took off and I lumbered along behind. When it comes to races I'm really more like the tortoise than the hare, even though I've never caught any hares sleeping.  I did get my best 5k time ever though, so there's that to feel good about.  I give full credit to Tony Horton and the p90x team and Alison and Nicole for keeping me at it.  Also, it was really cold that morning.

I think that's good for now.  Have yourself a great Wednesday, you hear?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Her Life

I have a friend whose life looks so quiet.  She has three children, and still she always seems calm and relaxed.  Her children are well behaved and sweet.  I have never seen her in a hurry, or disorganized, or at a loss, or confused, or realizing that she forgot something again, or frustrated, or out of sorts.  She breathes slowly and evenly and her world revolves peacefully around the sun, each day passing smoothly from morning to night and back again.

I see these things in her, and I take what I see and I imagine her life, my imagination painting a vividly beautiful picture of what her life is like when I don't see.

There are never dirty clothes in her hampers or dishes in her sink.  There are never crumbs in her carpet or fingerprints on the windows.  There are never tangles in her kids' hair or cavities in their teeth.  She never shouts at them, and in my imagination I am not sure if that is because she has endless patience, or because her children are unfailingly obedient.  I guess probably both.  They always eat what she makes for dinner, and they like it.  Their rooms are always clean and she never feels like she is drowning in stuff stuff stuff, wondering as she sinks what all of it is for, anyway?

And I know, even as I daydream about the serenity of her life that it is not true.  And I wish I had some great lesson that I have learned about it all.  I wish I had some profound or uplifting words to end this with, to make all of us whose lives are filled with chaos and noise feel better, or something.  But I don't.  I want to curl up like a cat in the warm sunshine and take a nap.

But I guess what I really want is for things to be clean and tidy and to never forget anything again.

And what I really want more than either of those things is a tiny girl named Heather, a middle sized girl named Hanna, and a big girl named Hallie.  Three little girls with blonde hair and Devin's eyes.  Three little girls who run and jump and scream and fight and kick and say "yuck" before they even see what is on the plate.  I want them.  And I suppose since they are the source of most of the chaos in my life, I'll take a deep breath, close my eyes and picture the beach, and keep going.

I'll keep going and I will try to remember to laugh when it is crazy, when I've forgotten something important, when I've failed at something I tried, when I wasn't patient, or didn't understand.

As I'm writing this, I begin to have a suspicion that when they all grow up and leave me alone in this home, I will hate the quiet.

And maybe I've learned something here after all.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Acquaintable: Updated


Am I right?

That one special person.

Know what I mean?

Yeah, the one person in the whole world who makes you feel as cozy as your favorite sweatshirt from college.  The one who still, after all this time excites you like fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Some of you are nodding your head, you know who I'm talking about.  Some of you are staring wistfully off into space because you are still searching for that person.

Maybe you'll meet them today.  It could happen!  Or maybe tomorrow, or next week, but sometime you will wake up one morning not knowing that it will be the day you meet him. (or her.)

Maybe you daydream about where you'll meet.  At the grocery store?  The library?  At a party for a friend?  You make up the story that you'll tell people someday when they ask how you met.  Sometimes you make it funny, sometimes you make it romantic, sometimes you blow it up big like a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

And maybe sometimes in the middle of all of that hoping and wishing and praying and dreaming you worry, you doubt that it will ever happen.  And sometimes you wonder if you need to help fate along a little you know? Destiny's got a lot to do, and it seems like fate does for those who do.

But what can you do?  You want it to happen organically, naturally, so that it feels right.  You don't want to be telling your girlfriends that you have a big date and they ask where you met him and you say, "oh... yeah, well he hit on me in a group chat room on soulmateconnectionloversforlife dot com and I liked his profile so I'm gonna give it a shot."  And they all stare at you sort of awkwardly and you wonder how it got to this point?

Wouldn't it be so much nicer if there were a website where you could go to be introduced to all of the single friends of your friends, so that when you tell people how you know him, you can say, "Oh, he's an old friend of so and so."  Wouldn't that be fantastic?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

In The House

Here's what it looks like, around here, lately.

Devin has started riding his bike to work in the morning.  He wakes up even earlier, does his 5 mile run, gets ready for work, takes care of whichever of the girls is awake, and then heads out the door by 7:30 to bike the four miles to work.  Then he works hard all day, thoughts of tenure clinging to him like dandruff, or something, and then he bikes the four miles back home again.  He opens the door, never knowing quite what he is going to find: happy family, dinner on the table, wife smiling, girls smiling, house clean.  Or, the all too often alternative: screaming children, crying children, whining children, no dinner, but plenty of messes to go around, the wife hiding in the bathroom because sometimes I do that when it is chaos and he comes home and I think "ah, backup has arrived.  I'll just lock myself in here for a minute. Or ten."  Then we put all girls in bed, he works some more, or he works out, or he goes out visiting the people who need him, and then he falls into bed exhausted.

Hallie has started piano lessons.  She sits up so tall and straight at the piano bench, her legs dangling slowly a foot off the ground.  She has four songs to practice this week.  She asks me just about every day if we can go pick out her new backpack for kindergarten yet.  Not yet, I tell her every day.  But sometime soon I am going to have to say, "Yes! Let's go pick your new backpack."  And then I will have to figure out how to get four girls out the door so early in the morning every day.  Hallie has to be at her school by 7:45.  Pray for me.

Hanna's feet grew two and a half shoe sizes over the winter.  Devin and I couldn't figure out why she never really wanted to run, and why she was always falling down.  All the time falling down. Then I went to get them some new shoes for spring and the lady measured her feet and by golly, I was stuffing her feet into shoes that were way too small.  She had a hard time giving them up, even so, but I finally won that battle and she is running around again lickety split.

Heather started walking about a week and a half ago.  She is adorably, gracefully wobbly and unsure, with her arms straight out in front of her for balance in what I lovingly call "The Zombie".  She has twelve teeth now, I think she got her first two teeth around 6 or 7 months, so she busted out about one tooth a month.  She is very expressive with her one word, "na-na" when she uses it together with her pointing finger.  We know what she wants, almost every time.  "Na-na!"  (usually it means she wants something to drink. But don't be fooled, sometimes it means "I want that toy Hallie has.  I want that bread Daddy is eating.  I want to pull off mommy's glasses." You know, your basic all purpose word.

As for me, it's pretty much the same old thing, over and over every day whatever that means.  I finished three quilt tops and gave them to a local hospital for the Linus Project, so that felt good in my soul, you know?  I have been working on my goals for my thirtieth year, and have been practicing the piano right alongside Hallie. (Well, probably twice as much as she does.)  It's coming along.  I signed up to run a 5k this weekend.  And nights I hang out with two of my girls and Tony Horton.  You know Tony?  I hate him, but I love him.

This is Tony on Yoga Night.  Yoga is my favorite.  Tonight is Plyometrics.  Not my favorite.

And... that about sums it up for around here lately.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Rainbow Connection

Some time ago a person that I have loved and respected and admired my whole life admitted something.  There are things people can tell you that roll off your skin like water on a duck, and there are some things people tell you that puncture your skin and stick deeply into you like a needle searching for your most vulnerable spot.

He told me that he no longer believed in God.

My belief in God, and my assumption in his shared belief, were so foundational to me that I never even questioned it,  like chocolate and peanut butter.  Why even bother to question it?  But this person did ask me to question my faith.  He wanted me to take a long searching look at what I believed, and why, and to face it head on and see if it held up to all of its promises and expectations.

At first I just shrugged my shoulders, I believed what I believed and I knew what I knew and I wasn't going to go on a soul shaking, faith finding mission when I was comfortable with my faith and knew what it was.  And yet I continued to think about it: How do I know what I know?  Where does it come from, and why don't I question it?  How is it that I am so confident in it?

That was when I began searching.  I looked inside myself and outside, I laid awake nights staring into the dark, sometimes with tears streaming down my cheeks.  I read and prayed and read and thought and read some more.

Then one day as I was driving home from a long day of running errands with three small bodies trailing along behind me or wandering off into other aisles, I found it.  I think it was hard for me to find inside myself because it is so, so, so simple.  I marveled at the simplicity of it.

I found it tucked away, folded deep in the very most inner parts of me, layered with all of the other trinkets that adorn my soul like fine jewelry - making me sparkle in the way that is me, just me, completely and wholly me.  My favorite color and food and song and the faces that I love and the places that I love, the things that make me laugh and the things that make me weep.  It is linked in unbreakable chains with all of those other things that I know about myself.  And even though I keep it buried so securely inside me it could never be blasted out with the strongest dynamite or cut out with the most precise scalpel, I also carry it close to the surface, as close as answering what my favorite color is.  Purple.

That's where I pull my faith from, from the place where I keep all of the things that I know are most true about myself, the things that I never question or doubt.  Bacon.  Tulips.  Devin.  My mom.

I feel it wash over me, moments of deep spirituality that to an outside observer look like nothing more than a girl sitting at a stoplight crying to Celene Dion.

It is when I am standing in front of a room of 30 children, talking about God's love, and all of a sudden instead of their bright faces I see my dad's dad, and my mom's mom, and soft sweet Tabitha, and I know that they are waiting patiently for me.

It is when I see the first tulip of spring struggling to rise out of the cold dirt and that green sprout gives me the strength to apologize.  To forgive.  To try again. And again. And again.  And what power does a tulip have, in speaking to my spirit, my soul, if I don't believe in something bigger than me or the tulip?

It is when I am listening to Kermit the Frog sing "Rainbow Connection", and I am trying to sing past the catch in my throat as I smile at my girls, loving them more in that moment than I have ever loved them before.

I don't know what faith means to you, dear friend who is reading this.  I don't know what God means to you.  But at the request of someone I love, I have a better and deeper understanding of what He means to me.

As a final conclusion, I have decided that even if all of these things that we call reality are just a construct of my body, nothing more than chemical signals sent from my tongue to my brain that tell me that the sensation of chocolate melting on the taste buds is desirable, then so be it.

I recognize and understand my world from what my fingers touch, my ears hear, my eyes see, and my heart feels.  I have to trust the information I get from my fingers, and my ears, and my eyes.  And I am going to trust what my heart feels.