Saved by a note.

My seven year old hands me another handwritten note.  It is the third or fourth one I’ve received today.

Eden tries to pass it off to me while I’m smack in the middle of dinner preparations.  “Honey, why don’t you put that down over there and I’ll look at it a little later?” I gesture toward the kitchen island with my head since my hands are full of pots and spoons.

I mean to look at Eden’s note sooner rather than later, but time has not been on my side today.  There were too many things shoved into my afternoon: rescheduled chemistry classes, craft projects, swimming lessons, birthday parties.  The list feels endless.

By the time we make it back home, it is well past everyone’s bedtime.  We are tired, a little cranky, and ready for bed.  There’s a rush to get through our nighttime routine before anyone (especially me) breaks down.

As I shepherd everyone through the pajama donning and teeth brushing process I wonder if anyone realizes everything I’ve done today.  Does anyone even understand what skill it takes to complete the size of the to-do list I had?  Does anyone even appreciate it?

This is the after-bedtime let-down when exhaustion creeps in and colors my perception of the entire day.  Most days I can head it off at the pass, so to speak, but other days it taints everything I’ve accomplished making me feel unappreciated and underutilized.

As I send everyone up to their beds, wallowing in the self-righteous martyrdom of knowing there are still miles to go before I can sleep, Eden turns to me and asks, “Did you read that note, Momma?  The one I wrote you during dinner?”

Guilt makes me internally wince and I answer with false brightness, “I’m going to do that right now, okay?”  And my answer seems to satisfy my daughter because she smiles and goes to bed.

I find her half-folded note in the middle of dirty supper dishes and uncorrected school books on the kitchen island.  It is written on a scratch piece of paper, the back of some auto repair receipt.  On it she has made a complete, detailed list of every errand and activity that were on our schedule for the day and how each thing makes her so happy.

The most important and touching line comes at the end of the note.  “I’m glad you can do this all.”

This seven year old validation immediately soothes every ruffled and unappreciated feather I have.  Gratitude and humility inflate my shriveled, tired heart.

“I’m glad you can do this all.”

And for the first time this day, I too, am incredibly and immensely glad that I can do this all.  I’m grateful for the blessings of carpools and errands, for the gifts of dirty dishes and unfolded laundry, for the grace of swimming lessons and art projects.

I say it, to myself, one more time as I begin to tidy the kitchen, “I’m so very, very glad I can do this all.”

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Posted in just everyday life, The Little Girl | 4 Comments

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Yesterday, our next door neighbors asked if we were okay with their outdoor Christmas decorations.  They had one of those giant, blown up snowmen, complete with the lights and motor attached to keep it constantly inflated.  The thing is huge, practically two stories tall, and the only place to put it is right between our two houses.

I looked at my neighbor and said, “Are you crazy?  That snowman is GORGEOUS!  The kids are going to love it!”  And they do, as do I.  The thing is so freakin’ merry and bright that my soul lightens up each time I see it.  Additionally, since part of it falls into our yard, I can pretend that we have outdoor decorations up, since all my promises of naked lovin’ have not convinced my husband to put up any lights this year.

As you can see, everyone has their undecorated crosses to bear in this holiday season, me included.

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I love Christmas decorations with all my heart.  (Except for tinsel.  Tinsel’s just a mess, like long strands of glitter that get everywhere.) The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days because my husband lugs all the boxes holding our Christmas stuff down from the attic.  (See, he is a really good man, despite his hatred of putting up outdoor lights.)

My kids are very exact about where things go.  Tradition is king, over here at Bunkersdown.  There is no mixing it up or trying new things at my house.  The phrase you hear most while we’re decorating for Christmas (besides the “Mom!  He pushed/poked/passed gas on me!”) is “But this is where we ALWAYS put it!”

This year, my mother downsized in preparation for moving, and my sisters and I inherited most of her Christmas decorations.  So, for the first time in forever, things were rearranged as we made room for our new Christmas items.  Some bitter and tough negotiations went down, but I eventually got everything where I wanted it.  I simply had to remind my offspring of who actually makes the mortgage payments on the house each month.  (Which is my husband, not me as the non-flow monetary member of this relationship, but they don’t know that.)

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In the past, the kids and I have made several of our decorations.  My favorite are the paper strip trees which have all been framed and have a special spot in our library.  But I really love the Christmas card ornaments that we made last year too.  (They involve canning lids, so how could I not adore these things?)

After some lovely and necessary Pinterest browsing, I have plans for some new projects this year.  In particular there is a reindeer garland that I’m dying to make, even though it involves copious amounts of cutting- which, you know is not my strength.  But my heart is set on having a reindeer garland, so I’m going to have to do it.  I’ll keep you informed on how it goes.

It is most definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas around these parts, Gentle Reader, and I absolutely love it.  The lights, wreathes, garlands, ornaments, and Advent Calendars (but never, EVER the tinsel) are everywhere.

How do the Holidays look at your house?

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Posted in Holidays | 9 Comments

Stepping on Horcruxes.

Gentle Reader, I am alive.

A few of you have expressed concern at my longer than normal silence (which did make me feel loved, unless you are all a bunch of stalkers and then I feel alarmed.)  But I am here to say I am alive and mostly intact.

The Thanksgiving holidays happened (lovely food, lovely family, lovely friends), not to mention homeschooling has been as intense and time consuming as ever (die pre-algebra, die.)

To add to my somewhat hectic schedule I managed over the weekend to break the two smallest toes on one of my feet.  In my defense, I am pretty sure the computer table was out to get me and consciously moved as I walked past.  Deliberate acts of furniture terrorism are never pretty, but this seemed particularly malicious.

My two sweet little toes, that I never realized were so crucial to walking, are black and purple all over.  My oldest daughter, Trinity, claims they look as if they have suffered from a dark curse, much like Dumbledore’s arm in The Half-Blood Prince (my favorite of all the Harry Potter novels.)  So, I’ve just been telling people that I stepped on a Horcrux.  It’s easier than trying to explain the fascist political theories of terrorist furniture and their agenda against people walking properly.

I do apologize, though, for all the silence lately.  I had toyed with the idea of, perhaps, giving up the blogging gig altogether.  I rationalized to myself that my schedule is too busy and that few people would really notice if I left the internet.  But then I realized that I like writing.  I honestly, promisedly enjoy writing things that make people laugh or chronicling the small moments in life.

I also realized that everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day, not a minute more or less.  Time is the great equalizer, forcing all of us to prioritize our lives to fit within the same parameters.  As a mother, especially a homeschooling one, my life will always be a careful balancing act of avoiding the Horcruxes that litter my path.  But, if I give up doing all the things I love in my artful dodging and grooving through life, then was it really a life after all?

So I made a turkey day resolution (which are much cooler than New Year’s resolutions, just so you know.  Tryptophan epiphanies rock.) to start making time for more of the things I enjoy- especially writing on the ol’ blog.  Hopefully, that translates to more posts, more often.  At least, that’s the goal.

So until next time, my internet peeps, cherish your baby toes and try to enjoy your life as you sidestep any obstacles (especially vindictive desks) in your path.

Talk to you soon.

 

 

Posted in Blogging, just everyday life | 8 Comments

Signs that winter is imminent.

The signs are all around us, Gentle Reader.  Winter is coming!  (Say this in your best Game of Thrones voice.)

Here’s how we know winter is almost here at Bunkersdown.

1-  The heater clicks on every morning now.

2-  The first snow of the year has fallen (and turned every individual under 12 years of age into a hyperactive nut-ball that dances around gleefully while shouting, “Christmas is almost HERE!”)

3-  The chickens have a “burning” desire to electrocute themselves with their fancy heated waterer.  (Just stop pecking at the cord ladies.  Seriously.  Electrical currents do not taste good.)

4-  All I want to wear are sweaters and pants with elastic waistbands.

5-  I have received written and illustrated Christmas lists from two of my children.  The third has given me a verbal catalog of appropriate gifts because writing them down is “way too babyish” since he is practically a man at 13 years old.)

6-  Turkeys are on sale everywhere you go.  (It really is the most magical time of the year.)

7-  We keep getting emails from retail stores informing us that we can have a “Secret, sneak-peek at thousands of Black Friday deals!”  Here’s a newsflash people:  if you send the same email to millions of customers it is officially no longer a “secret, sneak-peek,” it is an advertisement.  I’m on to your schemes.

8-  Three words:  Easy eggnog access.

9-  The first (and second) bags of Candy Cane Hershey Kisses have been purchased (and consumed.)

10- I begin considering hibernation on the couch with a stack of library books and a cozy blanket as a viable career option.

11- The world easily becomes divided into two types of people:  those who listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving and the Grinches who do not.

12- Oatmeal.  So.  Much.  Oatmeal.  (For the humans in this house and the chickens in the backyard.)

13- Florida residents have started boasting on Facebook about their weather forecasts.

14- My husband has started making empty threats about not climbing unto the roof this year to put up Christmas lights.  (Oh honey, you’re adorable, really.)

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Are you seeing these signs, Gentle Reader, where you live?  Do you have any others that tell you winter’s practically on our doorstep?  Share in the comments.

Posted in lists | 6 Comments

Flashback Friday: Candy corn is the worst.

I’ve been missing my sweet Daddy today. It’s been three and a half years since he passed and when I think about all the things he hasn’t been able to participate in or be a part of, it makes me cry. fam 070 It used to be that my grief was like a giant tidal wave full of anger and sadness, that would crash over me, recede slightly as if to marshal its forces, and then fall upon me again and again, rhythmic and predictable in its fierce tenacity.

Now my grief is more like a sudden tornado that comes from no where:  efficiently amassing destruction inside my heart so effortlessly and quickly it steals my breath away.  Then it disappears and you would never know it had been there if not for the emotional carnage left in its wake.

For the record?  Both ways of experiencing grief suck.  However, the grief tornado is slightly more bearable and leaves me somewhat capable of being able to function and go about my daily life.

I have found that the end of fall is the time of year when the grief tornado strikes more often.  Perhaps it’s all the barrenness outside as the plants die and trees lose their leaves.  Perhaps it is the increased darkness and gloom. I’m not quite sure and it doesn’t really matter.  All that does seem to matter is that my Dad is not here to see my kids in their costumes at Halloween or taste my homemade applesauce or buy bags and bags of candy corn from the grocery store to feed his candy corn addiction.

You would never know, if you were to pass me in the Halloween candy aisle, that inside I was a little girl who just wanted her daddy so badly because he could always make everything better.  You would only see a middle-aged woman whose cart was taking up far too much room, fingering a plastic bag of candy corn with a little sad smile on her face.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -John Watson

Posted in flashback Fridays, My Dad | 4 Comments

You can’t drive a car without knowing the truth about Santa.

The new swimming season is in full swing.  That means I am spending a good portion of my day sitting on a hard bench as my three children take turns swimming laps and practicing dives.

Tonight, Eden  is in the stands besides me.  My seven year old has recently made a new friend with one of the other little girls who sits on the sidelines,   which is great.  Eden makes friends extremely carefully, at an almost glacial pace, so it is a relief to see her get on so quickly and well with someone.

Eden is waiting for her new friend and busy setting up her toys along the long bench to create either some sort Barbie bungalow or a My Little Pony pasture o’dreams for tonight’s entertainment.  But then she stops what she is doing and looks at me with worry on her face.

“Ellie next door says there is no Santa, Mom, and that there is no tooth fairy.  She says the parents do all the work.”

For the last few months, our third grade neighbor has been on a mission to destroy my daughter’s belief in Santa.  I take a moment and imagine wringing the neck of this particular little girl, after all dead men tell no tales, but Eden is watching and waiting for me to somehow shore up her faith in these mythical creatures.

“Well,” I start slowly, careful to keep all murderous thoughts out of my facial expression, “That is quite a claim.”

Eden nods her head miserably and whispers, “I think…I think that maybe she might be right, but I just don’t know what is true or not anymore.”

There is silence for a moment.  In the background I can hear the middle school coach shout something to the kids in the pool about streamlining their position.

I don’t know quite what to say.  Eden is no longer looking for reassurance, she wants the truth about Santa.  Basically, my youngest child, my baby is asking for permission to grow up.

I stare at her fearful but expectant face and try to formulate the kindest explanation possible, one that won’t leave her disillusioned or bitter.  Not for the first time this evening, I mentally curse that my husband is not here to do this job in my place.

“Well,” I begin again, “It seems to me that you have two choices.  You can either go on having faith in Santa, no matter what Ellie says or you can tell me that you want to know the truth.”

Eden, her voice wavering slightly but with a thread of steel in her answer says quickly, “I want the truth.”

“Well,” (apparently tonight I am incapable of beginning any conversation with a different word) “A long time ago there really was a good man who was very kind and loved to do things for other people.  He was very, very good at giving others things that they needed or wanted.

So after he died, many people wanted a way to remember him and his kindness, so they began secretly giving presents like he did.  And giving presents feels really, really good.  More and more people started doing this and being part of the secret.

The secret grew and grew so that now, on Christmas Eve, parents and grandparents and big brothers and sisters everywhere leave out presents for little boys and girls.  That way we can all remember St. Nicholas and the best present of all, Jesus.”

Eden’s face looks like she is three seconds away from crying.  I feel exactly the same inside.  Growing up is hard and watching someone you love grow up is even harder.

“So Santa really was real, once.  I was right to believe in him.  Right?”  Eden questions me, unsure.

I pull her close to me and hug her tight.  I whisper into her hair, “You were absolutely right to believe in him.  Absolutely.”

My daughter hugs me back quickly but then stands on her own.  “Now I know the secret, so I can help you know,” she tells me proudly.

I nod my head, “You will be a great help.  And the best way you can help is by keeping the secret.  Don’t ruin the surprise for someone else.” I’m thinking ahead to this Christmas, “Like your cousins.  Aunt Jen doesn’t want them to know the secret quite yet.”

Eden nods solemnly, feeling pleased and grown up at being in on the secret.  “I won’t say a single word!” she promises and I know she’ll keep her word.  “But if they’re sixteen and they still don’t know the truth about Santa, I’m going to tell them then.  You can’t drive a car without knowing the truth about Santa.”

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Wise words, wise words indeed.

“Just Write.”

Posted in just everyday life, The Little Girl | 6 Comments

Apologetic explanations and some catching up.

Oh Gentle Reader, it was never my intention to become a random once-a-week blogger, really.  However, this fall has been the craziest, most intense, and busiest time I’ve  ever experienced.  Teaching pre-algebra, introduction to chemistry, and one exceptionally curious second grader have taken its toll any free time I imagined I had.

Add to that my husband’s new insane work schedule, our out of town visitors last week, the arrival of some of my favorite HGTV shows on Netflix, and all the apples in Indiana that have suddenly become ripe and ready for applesauce, and my life has turned completely and utterly upside down.

Now that November is almost here I am slowly figuring out a routine and schedule.  Deep breathing techniques keep my blood pressure lower when my children are particularly stubborn.  I can now face the fact, without cringing or self-flagellation, that not everything on my to-do list will get done daily.  Some things simply have to wait until tomorrow and nobody will die (least of all me) when that happens.  Finally, I have found myself saying “No” more often to things, which initially left me feeling like a failure, but I have come to believe it is actually a sign of strength.

Who knows?  In a couple weeks I might actually know what I’m doing.  Stranger things have happened.

Here are some of the highlights of the past few weeks that I haven’t had time to share with you Gentle Reader.

*Eden has developed the amazing ability to draw stick figures that look very much like Amish farmers.  She has left a plethora of these stern and sturdy, yet slightly whimsical designs throughout the house with little notes like “Dad, this cat needs some love” on them.  I’m convinced its some of her best work to date.

*Trinity has begun reading some of the books that I read when I was her age, books I have pleaded with her to try, books she has consistently turned her nose up to until recently.  Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, Caroline Cooney, and Ellen Conford are finally getting the respect from my eleven year old that they deserve.

*I was forced to turn on the heat in the house this past week when the temperatures dipped low.  The first day the furnace kicks on is one of my favorite days of the year.  The grumbling mechanical sounds abruptly turning on and off combined with that slight smell of something burnt in the air firmly announce that colder weather is here better than any other sign of fall.  It makes me want to bundle up in sweaters and thick socks and drink apple cider.

*Will has been moved up to a more technical and demanding section of his swim team.  He now swims two hours a day, four days a week, and comes home so exhausted that he is sweetly docile and obedient.  My son simply has no energy to fight with me in the evenings or hide out in the bathroom reading ’til all hours of the night.  It’s like Christmas come early on swimming days.

*The chickens have been quite disapproving of the colder temperatures and rain that we have been receiving here in Indiana.  Like feathered divas, they demand oatmeal each morning and loudly grouse to themselves as they delicately avoid the muddy puddles in their yard.

I was forced to give them a stern talking to last week when two of them decided to become backyard bullies and block the way into the nesting boxes for the others.  One of the  poor girls stood there with her legs practically crossed, trying to hold in her egg, until I chased away the meanies.  Non-stop rain can really turn my hens into first class shrews.

*Finally, I have uncovered a solemn truth:  an Amazon delivery in the morning can make the rest of the day feel much brighter and better.  I’m convinced that the mere Amazon logo possesses great physical and spiritual healing. Thank heavens for the rare but greatly anticipated days when the checkbook is indulgent and long desired books can be purchased.

So Gentle Reader, has anything been happening in your life lately?  Share below in the comments.

 

Posted in stream of conscious chats | 4 Comments