Shhhhhhhh…they’re sleeping

We are in the throes of Winter. And I LOVE it! We live in the part of the Midwest that is usually just too far South for the real snows but too far North for the icy weather.

Most of the time. But this year, we are enjoying what I like to call Real Winter.

You know, cold temps, frozen precip, MEASURABLE snowfall???

And I really do love it. Being a girl from the North (Wisconsin and North Dakota) married to a guy from Alaska, somehow our variable weather here in Missouri does not generate much of a Winter.

Generally speaking.

But this year is looking a whole lot better for those of us who are partial to the white, fluffy stuff.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, we enjoyed a single snowfall of over 12 inches. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

My sweet husband, who has a modified version of shoveling (let’s just say I am a bit more thorough and particular), agreed that since we were expecting so much snowfall, it might actually be worth shoveling the ENTIRE driveway and front porch midway through the storm, as opposed to merely removing a walking path to the street…

I know. Seriously. Why would anyone need more than a single, narrow path to the street when your driveway slopes 45º toward the house…

Maybe to GET THE CAR  OUT OF THE GARAGE and UP THE HILL???

But I digress…he had to fully shovel twice, and still the snow came down. The weight of the snow would not have been safe to shovel for people like him who are blessed with a tiny, metal screen-like straw inserted to hold the major coronary artery open…you know, shoveling and heart attacks and all that.

Midway through the snowfall,  after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

Midway through the snowfall,
after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

A greater portion of the day was spent cooking and watching the snow fall and hearing absolutely nothing.

Our massive Newfoundland/Lab/Chow mix dog, Joe Bear, did not want to come inside. Or STAY inside. Between the snow and the smells from the kitchen, he made numerous trips in and out to check on the progress.

Joe Bear: Why'd you make me come inside???

Joe Bear: Why’d you make me come inside???

But the next morning, the beauty of the fallen snow was an amazing sight. And the winds that followed the snowfall made the landscape look as though a sculptor had been at work. A divine Sculptor, indeed.

Wind carved drifting

Wind carved drifting

Ripples in the snow

Ripples in the snow

Our entire world was covered in a very thick blanket of white. St. Louis was totally shut down. Most schools did not reopen until Friday, using many snow days with that single snowfall. Buses could not make it through the streets and most side streets in many municipalities went without benefit of a snowplow for days.

But I was very nearly entranced by the beauty of the snow.

And the ice crystals on the windows.

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

More crystal formations on the glass

More crystal formations on the glass

It had been so long since I had seen that kind of beauty. I just stood at my door and looked out the window. Little Froglegs came and stood with me. Just looking silently.

Then he said softly, “Nana, I am so sorry all your flowers died.”

I was surprised. Here I was, reveling in the beauty of my covered yard, under that fluffy blanket of snow, and my little tender hearted guy was sad about my dead flowers.

“Oh, it’s all right, buddy. It’s like a picture. You know how Jesus died for us on the cross, but then He came back to life and now He lives in heaven? My garden will come back to life in the Spring,” I explained.

Froglegs was quiet for several minutes, just looking out the door with me. Then he said, “I understand, Nana. I really do! I get it!”

In spite of the frigid temperature outside, my heart was warm standing there with my Froglegs. It was a beautiful moment to share. And the reminder of the Spring yet to come. My garden will enjoy the benefit of that blanket of snow, and Froglegs will have a memory of that important lesson learned from that big snowstorm of 2014.

My Winter Paradise

My Winter Paradise

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Boxing, Fencing, Star Wars and Froglegs

My daughter is the proud mother of three children. She is a single mom with an incredibly tough job on her hands. When you have to be both parents, sometimes life can be a little tricky. Especially if you have boys. Or girls. Or both.

Froglegs is almost seven. He has learned all kinds of cool things in first grade. And we do our best to broaden his horizons. You know…expose him to other cultures and foods and sports and anything else we can cram into his head.

He is generally very excited to learn things. Especially if it involves weapons or things that could BECOME weapons.

This morning I heard a tap on my bedroom door. I was still trying to grab a few more minutes of peaceful slumber.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me. Froglegs.”

I invited him to come in and cuddle with me for a few minutes. He chose Papa’s side of the bed (Papa was already up and leaving for work.)

I noticed that Froglegs had on his new boxing gloves. Hmmm…Must have been his way of protecting me in Papa’s absence. He went right to sleep and I finally got up and got my day started.

Now, you must remember that Froglegs has a “thing” for Mario. Also for Star Wars. And recently, he went airborne trying to slamdunk a basketball.

the boy can jump

Football is not high on our list of encouraged sports (even though I am a die-hard Packers fan) because of the risk of injury. But he has starred in soccer and baseball already, and well…he rides a bike and a skateboard…

But we were all a little surprised when he announced that he wanted to learn to FENCE. Seriously, how does he even KNOW about fencing??? That surpasses all of our previous deposits of other-culture-important-to-know experiences.

This afternoon, Froglegs had a conversation with his mom. Oh to have been a fly on the wall!!!

“So When I’m 10 I can fence?”

His mother replied, “Yes, but you know you’ll be using real swords. But they train you so you don’t kill anybody…”

Twenty seconds of silence. Something was ticking and blinking in that boy’s head.

” Whoa! Wait, so you don’t use a light saber to fence? Whoa!!! I will play basketball instead.”

So, the boy learned an important lesson today. Fencing is no good without light sabers. But maybe we should let him watch Zorro…

Parenting…realitatem ferit suspendisse…

You know “those” kids who learn everything easily? How “they” make parenting look like anyone could do it and have a genius for a child?

You know “those” parents with that child who learns everything so easily, and somehow these parents act like they have that whole parenting thing down? And how they readily spout off their “knowledge” learned through their “vast experience” as a parent (usually of one child)? I can see your eyes as they roll with eyebrows raised…you know who “they” are.

Then these parents have a second child. Or a third one. I can hear you snickering, and I see those nodding heads…;)

Eventually these parents have to come to terms with the fact that their parenting skills are actually seriously lacking. They no longer are the “go to” parents for those parenting dilemmas afflicting their friends. And, in all honesty, they never should have been the “go to” parents…You know who they are…I can hear you guffawing…

These once-masterful parents begin to question their parenting history. Maybe their memories were clouded by some hormonal overload that made everything appear to be rosey and right.

Or it could have been that in their sleep-deprived state they created faux happy memories?

Did you know that in early parenting, the revisionist tendencies are often used as a coping mechanism for survival? Are you aware that an actual psychological disorder has been identified that explains these suffering parents? Seriously. It’s called–realitatem ferit suspendisse, translated–reality strikes parenting.

I confess that I once suffered from that disease…many, MANY years ago. Thankfully, I received the early cure when our second child joined us.

You know how they say the cure is worse than the disease? Well, I would disagree with that only because at least you have the blessing of the child as a part of both the disease and the cure.

Now my third grandchild, Curly Top, is giving all of us a run for our money. Considering that she is remarkably like her mother (our second child) …well, let’s just say that nothing surprises me too much any more.

don’t all princesses play soccer while dressed in their gowns?

who? Me???

As you already know, if you’ve been following this blog for awhile, Curly Top has had some “issues” reconciling that she is a GIRL.

Yes, she has two older brothers. Yes, she knows that brothers are boys. Yes, there are certain anatomical distinctions between boys and girls. Fortunately for all of us, she has reached a point of realization that she is a GIRL.

Unfortunately, she seems to think she is a girl D-O-G. (And it doesn’t help that her brother, Dancing Eyes, just hooked her up with a leash…)

Today, the crazy child-dog laid a good-sized pile on the driveway and covered it up with grass. I am still too shocked to even try to make sense of it.

But considering all the things I DON’T write about, I am beginning to sincerely doubt that Curly Top is going to make it to her third birthday…And I am investigating a newly identified disorder–realitatem ferit avis–reality strikes grandparents.

 

 

 

Dancing Eyes, Prepare to Meet Your Maker…

Remember that blog post about finally finishing my first crochet project? The one that took about 8 years to complete?

Remember how I stated I was already beginning my next project, that it was for an as yet unborn baby? And that it would be completed WITHOUT FAIL before the baby’s due date?

I bought the most beautiful, silky yarn. Probably too silky for my level of expertise (or lack thereof)…but it was so pretty and soft, and seemed just perfect for a newborn.

Isn’t it so pretty and silky?

I jumped in right away…I wanted to get it finished before Thanksgiving so I could start some other projects, and I didn’t want it to be sitting around wondering its ultimate fate. You know, like the 8 year afghan…

The problem I discovered with this yarn was how slippery it was to crochet…stitch after stitch, and it never looked like I was making any progress. I was 4 skeins into the project yesterday. That’s roughly three weeks of work…with me steadily working each day. I had to buy more yarn because I could tell it would never be enough to cover a baby.

Pretty, but doesn’t look very big, does it?

So yesterday I sat on the couch…crocheting away. Dancing Eyes was cutting paper. How he manages to scale cabinets is truly amazing…all in search of scissors. I looked up to see him cutting paper in front of me. I took the scissors and put them in my basket and continued with my project.

About five minutes later, I had to turn it around for the next row…GASP!!!

There was a HOLE about 4 inches in diameter…loops laying on the floor. Apparently Dancing Eyes had managed to snip the loops while cutting his paper and neither one of us knew it had happened.

I was ready to send the little guy up to meet his Heavenly Father right on the spot. The hole was such that it would be no easy repair, even for someone who is experienced. Trust me when I say that I do NOT have the requisite skills for undertaking that repair. I considered that justifiable homicide might be in order.

Yes, I do still love him 🙂

My Facebook friends offered their condolences and suggestions. Some were a little concerned for the fate of the perp…Not to worry…

After dinner, I was researching methods of repairing holes in crochet…and I decided that even if I couldn’t make a neat patch, I would just finish it off, practice stitches on it and use it here for the little babies I watch every day.

Not a very pretty repair, is it?

While I was working on the hole, Dancing Eyes came over and watched me.

“I’m sorry I made the hole in the blanket,” he said in his little happy but somber voice.

“I forgive you,” I replied.

“I forgive you too, Nana.”

Now I was a little confused about this, so I asked, “You forgive me for what?”

“I forgive you for being sad about the blanket,” was his very honest reply.

Hmmmm, that was interesting to think about. Me being sad was hard for him and probably made him feel even worse.

I was thinking about the attribute of mercy. There were so many references regarding God’s mercy toward us on Sunday morning, and here it was Monday evening and I was in a situation that was requiring mercy. Instead of judgment, there was mercy and forgiveness for my little buddy.

Extending that mercy didn’t mean that I “forgot” about the hole and all that work down the drain. It also didn’t mean that the hole never happened. What it meant is that my little Dancing Eyes did not have to bear the penalty of making that hole. I did not punish him or “send him to meet his Maker.”

In a more perfect example, God didn’t and doesn’t hold me in judgment for my sins but extends His mercy to me. How hard could it be for me to share that same mercy with my little guy?

But God goes so much further in His mercy…He says that my sins have been cast into the depths of the sea. That He no longer remembers my sin, nor holds it against me. His mercy is COMPLETE. Full. And FREE to me. It was at great price for His Son, Jesus. A sacrifice that cannot be measured in human terms.

Buried in the deepest sea,
Yes that’s good enough for me!

He has extended to us all that magnificent gift of mercy…not giving what is deserved. He has also blessed us even further with His gifts of grace and love. Undeserved blessings, so freely given to all who would believe. Forgiveness. Life. Peace. All these flow outward from His original sacrificial gift of mercy.

That baby quilt will mean an awful lot more to me now with its patched hole than a perfectly crocheted blanket ever could. Like the scars that my Savior still carries in His body, that patch will be a reminder of mercy, love and grace.

Have YOU experienced that peace that results from God’s gift of mercy for you?

Ephesians 2:4-9

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

Yes…He Thinks He Can Fly

(Please note: I decided to tweak the original post and re-blog it. 🙂

After over 32 years of marriage, I think I know my husband better than anybody else. But, like most married people, we find that the longer we are together, the more intimately we know each other. That can lead to some VERY interesting learning experiences.

My husband is 6’4″–I am 5’4″. He is thin, I am not. He played basketball, and you must totally believe me when I tell you I did not.

There are those similarities–we both wear glasses, we both have hardware holding the bones together in our left feet. (I know, what are the odds? So did his father…freaky!) We love music.

Even our professions are the same–we “teach”–he teaches high school Spanish and I teach potty training, drinking from a cup, how to share, blah blah blah. We both love what we do.

Where we truly differ is in the gravitational pull and how it affects our sleep.

A few years ago, I was awakened by heavy breathing. Most married people may not find that particularly curious…but I had just been clunked on the head. Nathan was thrashing around–totally asleep.

I started to worry, thinking he was ill or having a seizure or something, so like any good wife, I woke him up. It took some doing, but he finally came around only to tell me that I had interrupted his lay up shot.

Excuse me? Yes, he was making the game winning lay up in a basketball game. It must have been a championship game, because he had never played so well.

After assuring me that he was all right, I tried to get back to sleep, but his dream had made me a bit introspective. I couldn’t remember the last time I even remembered a dream.

As a child, I recall having vivid dreams. I could never sleep with my arm hanging over the side of the bed (still can’t) because I would dream ‘awful snake’ dreams.

I had a recurring funny dream about germs running all over the bathroom and attacking my toothbrush. Those germs looked like really crazy, transparent stick figures with several appendages. Apparently germs made a significant impact on my psyche.

But recently, I had not had any dreams that I could even recall. Hmmmm…what could that mean?

My husband has developed some health issues in the last few years, so I pay closer attention to his sleep patterns now.

He had another one of those “active” episodes the other night. As I tried to analyze his sleeping behavior, many thoughts were tripping all over themselves, trying to get to the front of the line.

I thought…it must be his heart…or maybe that neurological problem is acting up…

So I watched him in the darkness. I listened to his breathing and even took his pulse…of course, his pulse was racing. And he was muttering something I could not make out. I had to waken him.

I shook his shoulder…then I tried nudging him with my elbow…finally I rubbed his chest a little and he woke up.

“I can fly. Let me get back to sleep. I am flying and teaching and it is really cool,” he said, breathlessly. And I sincerely mean, he was out of breath.

“Are you sure you are all right?” I asked him.

“Yes. I just need to get back to this dream.” So he went to sleep, continued his “flight” and I just stayed wide awake.

He thinks he’s superman. My husband actually thinks he can fly.

Now, I do agree that he is a very talented and special man, but this flying was taking us to a whole new level, even for him. And I am not trying to play with my words, either!

I didn’t know if he would remember the dream in the morning. But he remembered his dream very vividly.

FYI–In real life, he teaches pre-school Sunday School. He explained that in this dream he was teaching his Sunday School class, but for some reason was unable to get their full attention, so he began to fly upward, heavenward. The higher he flew, the more the children listened.

(Honestly, wouldn’t you listen if your teacher started to fly?) He must have taught the lesson of his life while flying above those children. I couldn’t begin to tell you the lesson content…I was just trying to reconcile the concept of flying…

I have thought about his dream at length and it has caused me to think a little bit more deeply than just the humorous side of this story.

My husband has had a motto for his life since before we even met–a personal code of sorts. It was as if he carried a balance around in his pocket and whatever the “thing” was, it was put on one side of the balance. The other side of the balance always was the same: Will this count for eternity?

That personal code was what drew me to him when we first met–he had an eternal purpose for his life and he lived (and still lives) every single day with the same question: Will this count for eternity?

I find it comforting and reassuring somehow that even in his subconscious state, he continues living by his code.

I’ll Fly Away

Some glad morning when this life is over,
I’ll fly away.
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O Glory,
I’ll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I’ll fly away.

When the shadows of this life have flown,
I’ll fly away.
Like a bird thrown, driven by the storm,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O Glory,
I’ll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I’ll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away.
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O Glory,
I’ll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I’ll fly away.

Finally!

My daughter taught me to crochet about eight years ago. At the time, we lived in a condo, with a really pretty cottage-country bedroom. The quilt on the bed was very nice, one of those mass produced supposed to look handmade patchwork quilts.

It actually was quilted, pieced and all, just not that unique, but I really liked it. So I decided what we really needed to add the finishing touch to a really sweet room was an afghan laying at the foot of the bed.

So my NellyBelle taught me how to single crochet. If you read my last blog post you will remember my past as a perfectionist. When I began the afghan, I didn’t understand that the tighter the stitches, the harder it would be, the longer it would take and the more yarn it would need to fit my queen-sized bed.

And the first several rows of stitches have no spaces between them. NO AIR and NO LIGHT. Perfect if you live in Antarctica. I do not. I live in the swanky, humid, confused weather-patterned Midwest.

See those lovely, perfectionist stitches?
Clearly PRE-grandchildren…;)

We moved out of the condo. The lovely quilt became the guest room quilt and eventually fell apart. I experimented with many new color schemes, and eventually found the afghan in all its unfinished mess. I did a few rows and eased up on the stitches. It went a little faster, but I just couldn’t quite get the hang of the whole turning part. Or how to knot the skeins together when one ran out.

Starting to loosen up a little by this point…

I realized at some point that I really didn’t have time to finish it, so it got buried in a closet somewhere. Life has a funny way of forcing the readjusting of priorities and projects. No more of that Urgent-Important, Urgent-Unimportant, Not Urgent-Important or Not Urgent-Not Important quadrant stuff for making good use of time. Not in Nana Land, anyway.

NellyBelle has since married, finished her residency, had a baby, bought a house and made her own toys for her little guy. My afghan was still a sorry mess.

Meanwhile, Superman and I decided to dedicate a room to my sewing and crafting and dreaming and writing. While emptying out the entire room and closet, Superman found the incomplete afghan project. I decided it was way past due on finishing this thing. I had too much time invested in the crazy thing to just throw it away, and I wanted to at least finish it and be done. I attacked that afghan with gusto.

I loosened up on the stitches, and it actually made the afghan “feel” better–not so hot or heavy. I considered turning it into a dress, but realized I would be one long lasting hot flash, and the world is just not ready for that. Talk about global warming! (Now that I think about it, I think that global warming could almost certainly be attributed to how much longer women are living and how many hot flashes we are all contributing to the atmosphere. Maybe the scientists could come up with a healthy solution for that??? Like, TODAY?!?!?!)

Digressing…anyway, in the last three weeks, I have tackled the turning problems and the loose stitches, and how to join the yarn AND made up a finishing edge that doesn’t look bad. All things considered. I don’t know if it is even a legitimate stitch, but if it wasn’t before, it is NOW!

Don’t you just love the way I tripled the stitches to edge the thing?

So now I have an orange/brown/blue/cream bedroom. My living room is grey/green/blue/cream and the afghan is lavender/periwinkle/green/dk green/cream. Hmmmmm…

I think I am ready to start a SMALLER project now…

Don’t tell her, but I am giving it to my mom. She thought it was so pretty when she saw me working on it, and it will be just perfect for her when she gets a little chilly. I even made sure the loosened stitches wouldn’t let the toes sneak through. And my dad? Well, he can’t appreciate the colors but I would imagine she will share it with him too…

Contrasting the old on the right with the new on the left…sigh…so glad it is finally finished!

The Promise

As I sit out on the deck today, I am being reminded of God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises.

It’s not as though I deny that life can be excruciatingly difficult and tragic. I have seen and lived through enough heartaches and sorrows to have a basis on which I might question God…

But, I also have lived through the heartaches and sorrows only to know that as I walked through those dark and agonizing valleys, I was never alone. Even when I was physically alone, even feeling abandoned, I really wasn’t.

When my husband and I began the process of adopting two of our children, we had to go through an abandonment procedure, whereby our two children were officially “abandoned” by their biological parents. There is no easy way to deal with the emotions of this process…the laws of the country through which we were adopting required the publication of our children’s “datos” and “fotografías” in the major newspapers over a three week period.

That was a scary time for us, as we already had custody of our children, and we knew that there was the possibility of having someone step forward and claim them legally, even if they couldn’t prove their biological claims to our children.

For my happy-go-lucky husband, he lost that aspect during the entire adoption process. It was excruciating to have custody of these children for two years, knowing that they could still be taken away.

I remember asking anyone who would listen to please pray for us. Please pray for our adoptions to go through. Every time the government suspended international adoptions, we felt a sense of panic try to overtake our confidence in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to us.

Eventually, we received approved adoption decrees for our children. Children who had been placed for adoption for different reasons. Children who would never be able to know their biological roots. That is hardcore abandonment, people. And there is no easy way to explain that away, no matter how heart-wrenching their biological parents’ situations happened to be.

Adoptees handle their feelings about adoption uniquely. Some truly struggle with the idea that they were somehow unwanted. Others are filled with grief for the circumstances that made it impossible for them to remain in their biological family. There are obviously commonalities that many experience, but just like everyone else, the situations are as individual as the kids.

But one thing is consistently true for each one of us…when you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never, ever be abandoned. He has promised to never leave or forsake His children. No matter how awful life can get, if you are His child you will not go through your sorrows alone. He promised.