Jaimie/Jamie–Lost and Found

This year has been full of surprises and reminders. Many so sweet and wonderful. Others are reminders of very painful periods in my life.

It is interesting to confront pain that is so very old. Pain that still has the power to hurt and ache. Not that physical pain, but the soulful pain of real loss and sorrow.

I don’t know how you deal with your heartbreaks and heartaches. Depending on the source of the pain, you may squash it down, or roll around in it or allow it to overwhelm you to the point of breaking you.

I have struggled with so many types of sorrow through the years. Probably one of the longest running painful things was seeing my daughter going through her own pain and grief as the consequence of misplaced hope and trust. Defiance that led her to a very dark period in her life, that defiance could do nothing less than envelope my husband and me, as well.

Lessons learned are like the new growth in the Spring…dead seeds sprouting and bringing forth new life. THAT is the period we live in with our daughter these days, and it is such a wonderful place to be living right now.

I don’t borrow tomorrow’s sorrows or joys, but I truly try to live THIS day savoring the joys that God grants each day. But even as long-running as the struggles with our daughter, there is a sorrow that life could not remedy for me.

As a young wife and mother, barely into my twenties, I saw my hopes and dreams dashed to pieces. Much like Humpty Dumpty, there was no one who could put my broken pieces back together. I suffered a massively destructive ectopic tubal pregnancy. With that loss, we didn’t just lose a little life, but all those hopes and dreams that parents have for their children. Gone was that little baby. Gone were all the birthdays and first teeth and first steps and first days of school…

And gone was my ability to bear any more children. So many people, well-meaning but ignorant, said things that honestly just didn’t help. That I had a child already did not erase my pain at losing another child. It also didn’t fill the void of a large family I had dreamed of having. It didn’t fill that empty place in the pit of my heart or replace the yearning for another baby. No one, no matter who they were, could guarantee that a miracle child would just come if I relaxed. And those comments came from well-meaning people. Others were just heartless.

When I think about the pain of those months and early years, it still cuts me in a place nothing else has ever touched. Thirty years later, that pain lingers.

There have been occasions when I have allowed myself to ask the what ifs. To wonder what my life would have been like if our little baby had lived. If I could have borne more children, how many would I have had? What would they have been like? Who would they take after? What if…

We named that little one Jaimie. Not knowing if that baby was a boy or a girl, we chose a name that carried the desire we had had…in French, Je t’aime means I love you. We wanted to have a name that conveyed our love for that child. It was the best name we could think of that worked. Jaimie.

Later, we adopted two children. Such blessings to all of us. We struggled through difficult adoptions and then the naturalization procedure. So much red tape, but so worth it. But our family size was limited to what we could afford in paper work, so our family was then complete. Dad, mom, two daughters and a son.

You wonder why I am bringing this up now, at Thanksgiving?

Well, let me tell you about the miracle we have found this year. It will have to be the Cliff Notes version because the story is almost 50 years old.

I had an uncle named Jimmy. He died when I was twelve. So almost 42 years ago, my mother’s younger brother died and that closed a chapter of her life story. Uncle Jimmy was a bit of a rascal…some would say that he was more than just a bit of one. My mom tells a lot of stories about their years growing up. And she has scars that accompany a lot of those stories.

My mom says that her brothers and sisters used to make fun of her for being the only white sheep in the family. That should give you a bit of understanding about the life she knew growing up. As my mother got older and the internet became readily available, she started looking for information. There were some large gaps in her genealogy and she had an incredible inner need to answer the questions about her ancestors so that she could know who she really was…in many ways like our daughter wishing she knew about her birth family because she just wants to know more about who she is and where she came from.

My mother researched cemeteries, public libraries, churches and any place that she could to find more records. She published her findings on Ancestry.com and went to family reunions with other branches of the family she had never met. Over the course of many years, she got a lot of answers to those questions that had been her own struggle for such a long time.

When she developed breast cancer, the research sort of stopped. Her chemo treatments were terrible, but she went through it with grace and strength. I am still amazed at the way she battled back. The after effects have been lingering. Maybe if she had been younger, her body would have rallied back. But she remained very weak. Of course, aging coupled with the chemo effects have taken their toll.

But she eventually began plugging away more slowly at her research. And then, her younger sister, Delilah, died suddenly. It was a terrible loss that I can’t even begin to describe. But out of that loss has come an incredible surprise.

Remember Uncle Jimmy? Well, while he was stationed overseas in England, he apparently had a son. And this son had been looking for his father’s family for years. He had hired private investigators and done all he could to track down his U.S. family. But with a last name like Johnson…well, there are a lot of Johnsons out there.

But this cousin, who I didn’t know existed, was researching while my mother was researching. And he stumbled across Aunt Dee’s obituary. And guess what that obituary contained? ALL THE NAMES OF THE FAMILY MEMBERS, along with their spouses’ names! AND the cities where they all lived.

In this year, I have “met” (not face to face yet) my cousin–JAMIE. It has been such a blessing to get to know him. To talk with him and hear him tell his stories, in that wonderful English accent. To find this out, so many years later, words fail me. Jamie is five years younger than I am. He doesn’t know about my little Jaimie. (Well, he will now…).

I cannot tell you how much joy finding him has meant to the whole family. My mother is just overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed. It is a blessing that goes beyond the superficial. It hits you down deep, in that tenderest place that holds your most painful and most wonderful thoughts.

That his name is Jamie. Well, all I can say is that I love him and am grateful that God has given me an answer that I wasn’t even looking for. It is very much like having something that was lost returned to you. He is not my Jaimie. But he is Jamie–so loved and such an answer to prayer, on both sides of the Atlantic. And the astonishing thing is that he and one of my daughters resemble each other very much. I just cannot adequately put this all into a short blog post. Trust me. There has to be a book out of this somewhere.

But for now, can I just share from my very thankful heart, my prayer for you all to have a very happy Thanksgiving. Treasure the blessings and recognize them for what they are. Blessings so undeserved, yet so treasured.

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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…

Hmmm, I’m Thankful…I Think

The plumber is here.

Yes, it’s the day before Thanksgiving. And the plumber is here, plunging the toilet.

The toilet gets a lot of use here, with all the people who are supposedly potty-trained.

It also gets a lot of secret deposits…you know the kind…toys, rags, sticks, combs, brushes, little people figures…

Somehow each child finds it necessary to explore the limits of the toilet’s functionality. And it is Curly Top who seems to give the poor plumbing a run for its money…pun is clearly intended.

So the plumber is here.

But since I LOVE my little granddaughter so much, I don’t begrudge her sending whatever it was for a swim, even if it meant we all had to practice the skills required to use a plunger. So I reaffirmed my love for her.

Yes…YOU!

 

“I love you, Curly Top,” said most tenderly and with great affection.

She looked at me and spit her gum on the floor.

“You little rascal!” I responded, as I tried to grab the gum off the floor.

She beat me to it, grabbing it and plopping it back in her mouth.

“Spit it out! Spit it out!” I demanded.

She worked her gums as fast as she could and SWALLOWED IT! The little rat!!!

I couldn’t believe it. Her mom and I just stood there in amazement. We couldn’t believe what we had just seen. Then we burst out laughing.

And now, I just hope she doesn’t need her own pipes cleaned by the plumber!

The kid not even three…we are in deep trouble. But…yes, I am thankful!

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.

 

 

 

Politics and My Mom

My mom is a very funny lady. I don’t mean a comic…she tells jokes, but sometimes forgets part of the joke…and that is pretty funny all by itself.

My mom used to be addicted to politics. She knew everyone, good and bad, including which reporters could be trusted and which ones were hacks. I think televisions with the picture in a picture were invented for her…C-Span 1 on one channel with C-Span 2 in the little box…

Back when she was a political junkie, she had the radio playing a political program, the tv had something else on, and if I am not mistaken, she also had a transistor radio playing another program…that was back when politics were a little more humorous than they have been in recent years. She has since been rehabilitated and has been released from the “half-way” house for recovering political addiction.

We had dinner together tonight. Just my parents and me. It was great. No little people to talk over, no sports discussions (except the physics behind certain putts  that my dad was describing…scientists…). Just a daughter with her mom and dad.

The conversation was random. We discussed family, Hurricane Sandy and all its devastation, our favorite little people and their silly sayings, and of course the clothes we will be sporting at my nephew’s wedding in about a month.

As I was leaving, we somehow started discussing those annoying political phone polls. I commented that I had not received a SINGLE CALL…apparently if you get your number via a hot spot mobile number you don’t get called???

Anyway, my mother began sharing about a recent polling telephone call that she had answered. It wasn’t with one of those machine robot modern scary mechanisms that somehow know you have answered the phone and orders you to push different buttons to answer.

THIS time it was a L I V E  P E R S O N!!! She was very polite to the man on the other end of the conversation. Knowing my mother, I would expect nothing less. Once she had successfully answered all of his questions, she said she had her own question for him. (Oh I wish I could have videotaped the guy on the other end…)

My mother asked, “If you were to die tonight and stand before God, what reason would you give Him for letting you into Heaven?”

Silence. Followed by more silence. And then he said, “I honestly don’t have an answer for that.”

My mother proceeded to explain to the man that Jesus had died on the cross in full payment for all sin. That the man’s ticket was his for the taking, so to speak, if he believed in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the only satisfactory payment for sin. No works. No being good enough. Only through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus for sin.

The call came to a close. I have no idea what decision the man made. I can almost assure you, however, that the man has been thinking about “that lady” with her question. And I really pray that he considers his own answer very carefully.

Whoever wins this election will have an opportunity to do things. Important things that impact lives. But none of those decisions, regardless of who the victor is, will be as important as the answer that the man will make regarding his eternal destiny.

No one can make that decision for anyone but himself.

Romans 5:8

 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:15-18

That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes in Him is not condemned; but He that believes not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Ephesians 2:1-9

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…following the course of this world…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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…he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

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!

Cleaning Out the Closet…

Since my sweet husband has been away, I decided to use the time wisely by organizing his drawers and closet. You see, when he is HERE, he has this problem when the purging begins…

So I started with the easy part…the closet.

Let me just start off by saying in my defense that in my past, I was a confirmed perfectionist with very particular ways of folding, hanging, sorting, washing, line drying, organizing…You know, my way is the right way and there is no other way…

My husband is not color blind. He can see all colors.  My FATHER is color blind. He cannot see red, green, brown…or mixtures of these colors. So my FATHER has a legitimate reason if something is mismatched. My mother found socks with snaps so they don’t get separated in the drawer. Brown and tan in one drawer, blue and black in another drawer. You know, I learned my organizational skills from HER.

Nathan believes that if something is blue it always goes with anything else that is blue. All greens can be worn together. And he believes that since the rainbow doesn’t clash, neither do his clothes.

When he comes home at the end of the day and I realize that he went to work with mismatched clothes, he is always so surprised if I don’t think the combination worked. I ask him, “Have I ever put that combination together?”

And his response is always the same, “I thought I would try something new…”

That is now forbidden.

I asked him if he would like his shirts matched up with pants to help figure out what works…He wasn’t sure he could manage that. Really??? (I should note that when we first got married, he only wore navy or brown pants, no patterns, textures or variations. You wouldn’t believe how hard I had to work to get tan and gray added…)

So…back to the closet. I put all of his button shirts by color from white to black, left to right. Then his cold weather casual shirts and his light weight shirts. All following the same color pattern. His pants separate the current season of shirts from the warm season shirts. After all, we have been known to have sudden warm ups in the middle of Winter.

I like the order of the colors as they transition from light to dark. I like knowing that with the second button fastened I won’t have to worry about wrinkled shirts lying on the floor…I like knowing that with a quick glance it will be easy to put clean clothing away because it is so organized.

RIGHT. After all these years, I am still the only one who cares about the clothes being in any sort of order, the only one who actually thinks about where the clothes SHOULD be hung…the only one that recognizes that there actually IS a pattern…

And I also continue to be that slow learner that refuses to just give up and admit it’s hopeless…

And tomorrow, I will tell you all about the lessons learned from the sock drawers…