Monday, March 31, 2008

Purging and Planning

With spring here, I always get that urge to purge and plan. I make lists. LOTS of lists. Thanks to my handy notebook, most of the list are at least in one place now. The Hubs loves it when he comes into our home office and sees a multitude of post-its scattered around the desk. In moments of desperation, he throws them out. And then, of course, I need them. Not until that moment, though. Odd.

So, I am beginning to write some lists.

There's the list of clothing items the kids will need for spring/summer. (whenever that decides to show up)

The list of what I'd like to grow in our garden this year. Last year was our first family vegetable garden. We had one squash plant that took over the little plot like a disease. We had SO much squash. I had planted green and red peppers, zucchini, and later, tomatoes. All were no match for the conquering yellow vegetable plant. So this year, hopefully with a little more planning, a better chosen spot, and NO squash plants, we should have a nice garden that will hopefully be a fun activity for the kids and I, and a way to enjoy some fresh, homegrown veggies!

The list of items we would like to use our refund/G.Bush cash for.

The list of things that could be done over time in every room in our house. We have made a decision that we need to move. If the housing market wasn't in a pothole right now, we'd probably give it a try. But time is on our side and we don't need to move, but for schools/long-term we should probably make, hopefully, our last move for long time. I actually like moving. Each time we've done it, we purge unwanted items and it has always been to a good situation. Plus, I get to make lists.

So, I'm off to purge and plan. Wish me luck!

The Meeting

This morning I told the kids we would start our Spring Break with a meeting. We needed to plan out what we wanted to do for the week. Just like a business. We were to meet in the office in 5 minutes.

We all convened.

Josh was dressed for the occasion.

Attached to his long-sleeve skateboarder Tee.....his clip-on tie.

Unfortunately, he wouldn't let me take a picture. He said it would be embarrassing. Doesn't he know that's half my job? To take embarrassing photos of him, so that one day, we can weed through the potential girlfriends by showing them these moments of cuteness? That my goal at that time will be to see how red his young man cheeks can get as I grandly show off his little boy cheeks?

Anyway. I'll see if I can convince him to get a shot later. For now, this moment is saved in narrative form only.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Ok, one fun one before I go.

We were staying in a hotel this past week. All of us. In one room. Sleeping. The Lord is good, and we all slept really well. Although I did enjoy sleeping in my own room last night listening to only one person breathing through the night.

It was 4:30 am Tuesday and I hear coughing, crying and then...ugg.

Owen threw up. When babies throw up you remember the utter out-of-control feeling of being sick. They don't know what's happening and have no idea if it will happen again. So I'm trying to get the poor guy cleaned up (it wasn't a lot), and changed. I am amazed that no one else is even stirring. Especially the Hubs. I "nudge" him and tell him what has happened, and I need him to replace Owen's bedding. He stumbles awake and reaches for his glasses to find his way around.

Instantly he is thinking..."Whoa, it is so dark in here."

He had his sunglasses on.

I laughed so hard. LATER.

Ps. Owen was fine for the rest of the night and the trip. My thought was he coughed to hard on some phlegm. In case you wanted to know!


It was a different kind of Easter.

But not for my Hubs' family.

You see, they used to visit each other over Easter. The Hubs' family would make the same trip we did down south to warmer weather and sunnier skies, to celebrate the day that makes our faith so powerful. So many of the stories of previous visits were shared, and many of them were around the Easter holiday.

We had heard that Grandpa Leon was not doing well, but he held on until the Tuesday before Easter. My mother-in-law had been to our house watching our kids for the day. We tentatively made Easter dinner plans, knowing they could easily be changed with news of Grandpa. So that night as we heard what had happened, we knew we would be there for Easter.

I don't think you need to be a rocket scientist to see the connection here.

Maybe just a believer.


This trip was a flood of many different kinds.

On the way we saw actual floods covering vast amounts of open fields, already deep rivers turned to wide swamps, and forest of trees that looked as if they were planted in the middle of a lake. It was strange to see that much water displaced in areas where green (or hopefully soon-to-be-green) grass should have been.

At the funeral there were floods of tears. Not just for dear Grandpa Leon, but for any loss that anyone there had felt, seen or remembered. I know I cried not just for him, but for the memory of my own grandparents, previously gone to their own heavenly reward. Voices sharing stories and memories choked up with the realization they had to use the past tense now for describing this kind man. It was beautifully sung words and poetic letters that brought many of us tears, smiling and crying at the same time. I think that funerals easily bring our own mortality to the surface and we secretly wonder if anyone will have such nice things to say about us when we're gone. I can cry just because another person begins to cry. It's almost involuntary. It's as if their pain becomes mine and as apparent as the tears welling in their eyes.

Another flood I had continually during this trip was memories of my own family vacations when I was young. It was amazing how just getting up at 3 am brought a flood of recollections of drowsy walks to the jam-packed family car, in pj's, hoping it was warm enough to find a comfy spot so you could easily fall back to sleep. I think kids can sleep just about anywhere if they're tired enough. But I remember laying awake with my eyes closed many times, too. But it wasn't just that. I remembered my parents trying to get us to look out the window at the many views of passing land, animal and historical monuments. We would roll our eyes and get back to whatever else we had found to occupy ourselves at the time. Josh and Ellie were already giving us the same reactions as we went along. I found myself saying some of the same phrases my dad would literally shout as we almost missed another important sight that, if you took his tone seriously, would probably think it was the last time it would ever been sen on Earth. I remembered finding odd games to play in the car, including our favorite..."Pester Whoever Was Sitting Next To You." We'd have to draw imaginary lines using the seat seams to show where the other "player" couldn't cross, hoping to make the illusion of being separate. We'd stop at random parks or playgrounds to let out some pent-up energy before hopping back in the family car to do it all over again. But the best flood of new memories came when I'd look back at my children and see them happily occupied, knowing I'd have at least a few minutes of conversation with the Hubs in our semi-private front seats, whispering about our hopes and dreams, reflecting on what a great time we were having, waiting until we were needed in the back seats. We asked "what was your favorite thing?" about a million times. I didn't realize until this trip why my parents asked us that. It was so we would remember. Calling up the day's events, pouring over details of the day's happenings, made us remember. Some floods are good, I guess.


We spent about 12 hours each way to get from our dreary, cloudy home state to the beautiful, sunny, already showing signs of spring, state of Georgia. We got up around 3 am both trips, deposited our barely awake children into their car seats, and off we went. Owen was in a "new" car seat, one that was borrowed from my sister-in-law so we won't have to buy a new one before Ellie is big enough for a booster. This seat was like a cuddly egg surrounding him. He was reclined and comfy. Relaxed and cozy. For hours.

When he was born, a good friend of ours gave us a hand knit blanket. It is this great big cozy blanket knit from soft yarn in sweet boy colors of blue and green. The blanket's weave is such that little kiddos fingers can poke through and grab a hold of it's lovely softness. I caught this shot (a bit blurred, sorry) of some chubby little toes peeking through as we traveled along.

Our happy traveler

The Mailman

Whether rain, snow, sleet or sun. The Hubs is my mailman. He always takes the toughest part of the drive...early morning (and I mean early a.m.)...or the pouring rain...or the sloppy snow. We encountered all. Yes, friends. All of these on our way home from our trip yesterday. My mailman delivered us safely and with a smile on his face, and maybe a crick in his neck, to our home. Thank you dear Hubs. Just the sight of Owen literally rolling with joy to be in his own home space again was enough thanks from him, I'm sure.

My next several posts will most likely be thoughts and reflections from our recent trip to see my Hubs dear grandpa laid to rest in the sunny state of Georgia. It was an amazing time with family and it almost felt like a vacation.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Gambler

Josh brought home a beautiful rainbow with a glittering pot of gold at the end. On a small piece of paper at the other end of the rainbow it read:

"What would you do if you found a pot of gold?"

Josh's answer: "I'd put it on a horse."

Let's hope he means so he could make a fast getaway.

Unless of course it wins...that could pay for college...hmmm.

Heaven bound

Dear friends,

 My Hubs' grandfather passed away last night.

It was a blessing to be sure.  The gentle man was 93 years old.  I don't have many recent pictures and didn't know him as well because they live far away.  I think I saw him maybe five times throughout our marriage.  But his memory and life are a testament to those who knew him. Check out this and this, written by his granddaughter, my sister-in-law.  They are poetic, very well-written homages to this man who lived many a story, that we loved to hear.  

We are glad to know this soul is in heaven now.  I'll be taking a bloggy break as we spend time with family.  

Happy Easter, in advance.  Thank the Lord for the knowledge that this life is not final, that because of His greatest gift, we can have hope for an eternal life.  

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Ok dear friends, I need ideas.  Substitutions actually.  Just wondering if you have any good exchanges for these frequent visitors to our family table:

  • Pancake syrup  (I know fruit is an option, but personally, that is not a fave of mine...still willing to try...)
  • "Catalina" salad dressing.  The kids love to dip just about everything in this, but it's first ingredient is that high fructose corn syrup.  Sprays work for salads, but is there a dressing that doesn't contain something more man-made than God-created?
  • Lemonade.  I know there's nothing inherently wrong with this one, but light is pretty expensive, has that aspart.eme thing, and we went through a LOT of this last summer.  They love their milk, but I'm looking for another drink option.
  • Any good "dessert" ideas?  We usually don't have dessert after dinner, but the kids love  a treat after bath nights, and so we've slowly worked our way through Hallow.een candy (eek, I know.) They like cookies, (who doesn't?), but is there another sweet treat that isn't going to sugar them up too much?  (this might be asking too much!)

Thanks in advance y'all!

Friday, March 14, 2008

And reintroducing....


Yes, it's at least 60 degrees outside. We've been out for at least one walk and anticipate another once Josh gets home! HELLO SPRING!

Got to go....can't be inside on a day like this!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Late Night Devotions

The other night Owen was up several times. We finally gave him a little tylen.ol to see if that would help whatever was ailing him. I didn't want to put him down right away, so I sat with him for a while. His room holds entirely way too much furniture, but there is space for a wonderful glider that my sister-in-law sweetly lent us after Owen was born. So I curled my little boy on my shoulder, under his favorite blanket and just rocked with him. I couldn't remember the last time we did that. He has always been such a good sleeper, and being baby #3, the dude was quickly encouraged to fall asleep on his own.

So I sat and rocked with him, listening to him breathe heavily through his pacifier. I thought of how that sound reassures me each night as I check on him and the other kids before I go to bed. (Josh is a quiet breather, Ellie is louder and Owen takes the cake as the loudest).

My thoughts were interrupted as Owen maneuvered himself to a more comfy spot on my shoulder. It made me think of how we often are sick with our sins and look for that comfortable spot in our Father's arms. We struggle to try and find a way to get rest on our own. We look for other places to find peace. And yet, when we finally allow our Father's arm to enfold us and draw us close...that is when we truly find rest. I love that mental picture of God's strong arms encircling us, helping us find that comfy spot, even if we are still sick or in pain, there is peace. I closed my eyes and pictured the Lord drawing Owen and me close to Him in that moment. Owen looked up at me once while he was finding his comfy spot. He saw me there, just waiting for him to find his deeper sleep. His head gently fell back to my shoulder and his breathing became more soft and rhythmic. I almost didn't want to let him go.

Thank you Lord, for being the Peace that passes all Understanding, Our Rescuer, and Our Father.

And the ears have it...

Ellie has an ear infection. After about two weeks with a cough and cold, I guess I'm not surprised. Both her and Owen have been duking it out with the big bad cold for a while. They have been sleeping well, so I was thinking things were on the up and up. Today, right before nap time, Ellie started whimpering and saying her ear hurt. Then she looks at me and says, "I want to go to bed." Yup. Definitely something wrong here. After a call to the doc, with her crying in the background, we got an appointment for 3:15. We picked Josh up early from school and all headed to the doctor's office. We waited for 45 minutes. Reading that now, I think, wow, that was a long time. But, it actually wasn't that bad. We played games to pass the time, like I Spy, Three Clues (a family fave), and a new one...Mommy's the Doctor and finds something serious...your tickle spots! I'm pretty sure no one was going to miss that we were waiting. We were kinda loud. But a fun kinda loud. And I had a great time playing with the kids. Even if it was in a 4x6 room. With three kids. And the heat on. On a 60 degree day. So, were praying Ellie sleeps well tonight with a little help from the pharmacy and the Lord's healing hands. It was a good day.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Alpha and Omega Boys - Part Eight - The End

It was spring again, a year and a half since Allen and Owen had been born. The grandchildren now played in patch of grass where the pool had once been. Adele caught a quick pained look from Ed’s wife as their son, now equipped with an amazing prosthetic leg, stumbled a bit on an uneven clump of dirt. She knew it would take many more visits and time’s all healing power, but this visit was a step in the right direction. It had been quiet around the farmhouse this week because the boys didn’t come and stay for the weekend like they had since they went to live with John and his wife last winter. Adele knew it was getting harder to bring the boys and they were missing out on events with the new friends they were making at their new home. She could see the end coming soon.

She and Gracie had settled into a quiet and comfortable routine of reading, checking with the new farm manager, and weekly chores. When it was especially quiet she allowed herself to think of the boys. She missed the way they would peek over the rails of their cribs in the morning. A crooked smile on a face dimpled from sleeping on the waffle-patterned blanket. The cuddles over fuzzy books, their chubby bodies trying to squeeze between the couch and the toy box to reach a hidden toy. It was one face that Owen made that occasionally brought Adele to tears. His little mouth made an “O” and he would look up at her or over to his brother with a wide eyes and a glint of wonder. The way they would watch a butterfly flit from flower to flower before eager trying to grab it and make friends. Allen loved the cat’s tails and often could be found on his stomach lying behind a resting cat, gently amusing himself with it’s movements.

Adele caught little Allen’s eye as John’s wife regaled a story that involved the boys, a permanent marker and the dryer. Her eyes lit up like only a mother’s could as she went on about her search for marker remover and how they still laugh about the look on John’s face when he got home. Oh, the trouble these boys will get in once they realized they outnumber her, she laughed.

The enjoyable afternoon was filled with sharing parenting secrets, school updates on the older ones, and goodies that everyone brought to share. Everything tastes better in country, they all said over and over again. In the end, hugs were reciprocated, one more pitch was made for Adele to get a cell phone, and the day ended with plans for the next family get together when the watermelons were ripe. As Adele waved them down the bumpy drive, she glanced at the pull-off where the boys had been born. Gracie had recently planted two bushes just into the grass where the car once had parked. Even from where Adele was standing she could see they were just beginning to show the small red flowers that would bloom into late summer.

* * *
Copyright Party of Five. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of all content, text, or image in any form in strictly prohibited without prior written consent.

* * *
Dear friends,
I hope you enjoyed reading this short story. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, but never had a good plot to unravel. As this is a work in progress I'd love to her your thoughts and suggestions. Feel free to email me if you don't want to comment here. Here's a couple of questions I was thinking about:

*Does the theme of how certain events in our lives can be the beginning or the end of something come through clearly...for more than just Adele's character?

*I put a lot of detail into the background story on Adele and Gracie. There is little to no information about the girl. Does that sit well with you as a reader? My intent was to make it easier for the reader to "forget" about her. Does that help or hurt?

*As the story went on, some of the parts are not as detailed. Did you notice? Does it seem like there is some information left out? Or is this space for assumptions/time passing ok?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fun with Sunglasses

Today is Movie Day at Josh's school. The kids' get to dress up as their favorite movie characters. Josh chose a rock star. (??) Anyway, he had us cracking up at his rock star moves (think big swinging arm circles on an air guitar) and his rock star attitude.

"Seriously? I gotta go..." ARE a rock star!

Oh...and of course Ellie got into the fun...

Seriously, I'm taking this show on the road!

Just for Fun Friday

"Do I get any cake?"

All wrapped up

For the Hubs birthday we didn't open any presents. So we did the next best thing. We opened a cake.

Ps. Like all Christmas trees that have one "good side," this cake has one, too. Unfortunately, the side you see is not the better side. Oh well, it'll be fully "unwrapped" in about 1.5 days!

The Alpha and Omega Boys - Part Six and Seven

Later, Adele was hard on herself and her actions surrounding the events after the boys were born. She had taken care of the girl as best she could with the limited supplies she found in the car and in her own gardening apron. She remembered walking with the amazingly quiet boys, wrapped in a couple of towels from the trunk. She smiled down at them and thought of the story they would have to tell someday. Looking back, she played several alternative options in her head. She should have driven the red car to the house. She could have looked for the boy who had run off. She would have asked the girl if she had anyone Adele could call to come get her. Anything. Anything but leave the resting girl in the blood soaked car.

Adele was gently cleaning the boys in the kitchen sink when she heard the squeals of the tires. The car was leaving. The boy must have been nearby, afraid and waiting for Adele to leave. As the car sped off, Adele tried to imagine what words they spoke to each other as they decided to abandon these little boys. She felt helpless, angry and confused. Her quick phone call to 911 brought ambulances, police and curious neighbors. As the paramedics applied medical care to the now sleeping babies, Adele informed them about the red car and the girl who had given birth to these precious boys just minutes before. They would look into it, they said. There were many questions to be answered, but in the end, the officers informed her that in these kinds of cases, the mother doesn’t always want to be found.

The days and the weeks that followed were a blur of meetings with social workers, police officers and concerned phone calls. Adele knew that these boys had been born on her street for a reason. She was meant to be there. The girl had asked her to help. And now she knew what it was that she needed to do to help. She needed to give these dear boys a family.

Part Seven

The walk back from the mailbox was filled with the boys’ bubbling sounds. Reaching hands stretched up to the sky as they weaved their way back up the drive. The sound of car tires crunching on the gravel at the end of the drive made Adele quickly turn her head into the sun. It wasn’t until recently that the sounds of car approaching didn’t send her heart and thoughts to the return of the boys’ mother. The search by social workers and the police led nowhere and soon Adele was able to file official adoption papers based on abandonment. She felt that they would now be with her forever. But her dreams betrayed her and often she woke, not from the boys’ noises in the night, but of an obscure vision of one or both of the twins being taken from her.

The glare of the warm sun kept Adele from recognizing the car right away. The four-door sedan with Illinois plates pulled up next to the house just as Adele came around her flowerbeds.

“Hello, Mom.”

It was John and his wife. Adele felt odd emotions. Confusion. Excitement. Protectiveness. John’s tall frame was draped in city clothes that looked a bit out of place against the backdrop of the dingy old trailer next to the garage. His sheepish smile brought her back to the days when he used to walk the yard exploring for his version of treasure. She could tell he was sorry he hadn’t called by the tilt of his head and the shrug of his shoulders. Adele’s heart opened and she knew it was good he was here.

Inside, Gracie heated a pot of coffee for them and the guarded small talk quickly changed from the weather, the farm, John’s job, and Gracie’s family, to the boys. Adele shared stories of the boys’ first weeks at the farmhouse. She and Gracie laughed like those sharing a private joke, as they told stories of their first baths, buying diapers again, and discovering all the new accessories for babies these days.

The one question Adele had for John was soon answered by the way John’s wife easily fell into a game of peek-a-boo with the boys. They had come for a family.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Alpha and Omega Boys - Part Four and Five

The rundown red four-door car showed up on the pull-off along her country road at least once a week. At first Adele didn’t pay much attention to it. But soon curiosity snuck up on her like one of the barn cats, and she found she was intrigued by the goings-on of the red car. She would watch out the front picture window to get a glimpse of that red car. Not too many cars passed on her road that she didn’t know. Market trucks came and went on Thursdays carrying vegetables grown on the farm. Mail arrived each day in the early afternoon. Ladies from her church came every other Wednesday for cards and coffee. Neighbors’ cars would pass and honk, even if no one was outside or visibly around. The reoccurring honks sent a hello and let the Baker’s know someone was thinking of them and noticed they were still there. As the years went by, more families built their homes on nearby plots of inexpensive land and their cars went by early morning and late afternoon for work and school. Those cars didn’t often honk, but Adele always waved anyway. So when the unfamiliar red car began showing up, Adele felt a right to know who and what was going on with that car.

She finally decided that the car contained a young girl and boy, probably late teens. They were definitely doing some kind of smoking, Adele concluded. What kind exactly, she wasn’t sure. She could tell that it was a newer, attractive car and they were well dressed. They were loud occasionally; music and laughter flowed out of the open windows. Adele considered going out to them several times and asking them to leave. Each time she pictured a confrontation that ended with her feeling old and the kids laughing and maybe even bringing more of their friends the next time. She imagined them making fun of her old lady ways and in the end, she figured they weren’t doing anyone any harm. Oddly, if they didn’t show up for a few days, she wondered where they were, or if they had found better spot to conduct their foolishness. Soon school would begin, she told herself, and then she was sure they would stop coming.

Then one day toward the end of the summer, there were more than just happy noises coming from the red car.

Adele heard yelling, even some screaming. Someone sounded hurt or in pain. Adele quickly rounded the farmhouse from where she had been weeding the flowerbeds. Her heart began to race as she came closer to the car.

As her steps brought her across the field and nearer to the red car, she began to see that it was the girl who seemed to be in pain and that the boy was pacing, grabbing his curly hair and talking to himself. The girl squirmed in the back seat. Adele approached them, her hands wringing the gardening apron around her waist.

“Excuse me, can I help you?”

The boy whipped his head around in Adele’s direction. She saw that he was young, younger than she had imagined. His brown curly hair was now matted with sweat from his pacing and the summer humidity.

“She’s…she was fine…and then…we didn’t think...she just started grabbing her stomach…I…I don’t know…if her parents….oh man…I…I gotta go.” With that he ran off in the direction of the grove of trees by the cemetery.

A whimper from the girl brought Adele’s attention back to the car. Adele stepped gingerly around the red car’s back door, which was open to the grass along the pull-off. Adele peeked through the open door. The girl was sitting against the other back door. Her legs were spread awkwardly across the seat and floor. She was cringing, her face red and sweaty. That’s when Adele made a startling discovery. The girl was pregnant.

Part Five

Adele just stared. She lost track of where she was. She stepped back. She looked around. It was about ten o’clock. No one would be by for at least a couple of hours. The Nelson’s usually went by at lunchtime on their way…

A scream from the girl jarred Adele back to the moment. Her instinct was to move closer, and she did. Quick exchanges between clenched teeth filled in some of the details about what and why this was happening.

Adele began to think and act quickly. Scanning the car for anything soft and warm, she gently talked to the girl. Adele began talking about her own children and their births. How James, and Ed came early and she barely made it to the hospital. The others were equally hurried trips to the local hospital with Mr. Baker waving a white handkerchief out the window, because that was what he thought he was supposed to do. She spoke of how the girls, Ella and Jenny, took longer to deliver once they got there and she worried she’d lose her energy before they needed to make their entrance. John had been the most beautiful experience of them all. It was a calm, quick birth and she enjoyed it mostly knowing it was going to be her last baby. Adele told the girl how John and his wife had been trying to have their own for almost four years now, with no luck. She began to talk of God’s will. Then the girl looked Adele straight into her eyes.

“Please. Help me."

Adele found a few things that might be helpful to help the young girl with this inevitable event that was definitely happening right here in this nice, new car. And then she spoke clearly.
“Of course, dear. That’s why I’m here.”

The next few minutes were a bit of a fog as the girl bore down and in a swift miracle delivered a beautiful baby boy. Adele was laughing, smiling and trying to show the girl her new, small and crying gift. But she wasn’t looking. In fact, it seemed she was still pushing.

Adele looked down.

Another head was crowning.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Honey, I need a bucket!

It has long been a joke in our home that our on the main floor is about as quiet as an airplane landing. In your backyard. On bubble wrap.

It is actually more of a waterfall-type sound. Not a calming trickle. More like Niagra Falls.

So when I heard these words...."HONEY, I need a bucket." after a loud crash in the bathroom last week, my heart did a little cartwheel.

There was the dear Hubs once again in need of my help.

He had lifted the cap on the back of to see if he could find out why it had been running so much lately. Slippery little bugger took a digger right on top of the tank. One long crack later, water was quickly dripping out onto the floor behind the comm.ode. It needed to be replaced.

Thankfully, the Hubs has family and a nearby friend who were able to help him decide on the perfect, quiet, kind of that would call our house home.

Even though the installation of this amazingly quiet priv.y put off the purchase of another essential item (some day I will have my storm door!), it is SO worth it. We can talk in the next room and not wonder who just made a visit to the john. I envision having friends over again (is this getting a bit dramatic, now?). All in all, although I did not initially share in the Hubs excitement over replacing our resident airstrip, I now am grateful for a little bit of peace and quiet... at least in one room. From an inanimate object.

PS. Only because I'm pretty sure ya'll will laugh me off the blogosphere for posting a picture of our grand new throne, I refrain from showing you an actual photo. But I can say that after an earlier posting, many good comments from friends, and a bit of scavenging through our house, we did put up some great pictures in our that really make a difference. So with a new comm.ode and pictures on the walls, that is kinda nice place to be. Now if we can only get Ellie to think so....

Happy Birthday, Hubs

My Dearest C,

To say that I am grateful for the fact that the Lord gave you life on this day, 37 years ago, is a bit of an understatement. You are my best friend, the father of our beautiful children, and the one person who I want to be with me when I'm old and cranky. (I hear is that different from now?? hehe.) The gray hairs adorning the face I love are only signs that we have made it through some tough times. Marriage, jobs, children, money and the woes of the daily routine are the things that can wear us down. But you. You find the joy in dreams of vacations, future plans, or even just a night out without the kiddos. You encourage me to be a better person, better mother and to just plain have fun with life everyday. I wish I could give you more opportunities to get out in the world and explore like your heart wishes...and for your patience, I am even more grateful. I love to be your cheerleader when you do get down and can picture so many times when you were the one holding me up when things were tough. It's amazing, but I still feel this way about you! There are so many reasons that I could list about how wonderful it is to have you in my life, but I think I'll save those for just our time today. (You know, that two minutes between kids' bedtime and the time we pass out from our crazy day?)

I love you dear Hubs, and I hope you have a great birthday where you hear and see from all of us how much we appreciate you and how special you are!

Love always,

Ps. It seems so funny to be writing a letter to you now. Remember those days of living apart in college? We wrote letters all the time!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Alpha and Omega Boys - Part Three

Adele continued to weave through the potholes by memory as she gazed across the field to her old house. It had been closed up last fall when Adele finally convinced Gracie to move into the farmhouse. Gracie, her husband and their son lived there for quite a few years after Adele had moved back into the farmhouse. It felt fitting for Gracie to live there as she and her husband had been coming to help at the farm for almost thirty years.

At nineteen years young, Gracie had arrived at the Baker’s Indiana farm with her new husband, fresh excitement and ready to work for the summer before moving on to the next farm that needed them, most likely farther south. They followed that routine for several years before the Baker’s asked if they would stay over into the fall and winter months.

The makeshift shacks that the farm workers usually stayed in wouldn’t suffice for the colder months, as many didn’t have any heating or cooling systems. Running water and clean toilets were maintained by the Baker’s, and many of the workers didn’t mind the fresh farm air flowing in the windows of the temporary homes. Some worked hard, others had to be asked to leave before the season was done because they weren’t working well enough or getting along with the other workers.

Adele and her growing family had just moved into their new house on the east end of the field, and so Gracie and her husband got the trailer. During the colder months, they helped keep up with the barns and update the machinery. They worked hard during that time, too, having grown to care for the Baker’s like a part of their own family. One fall, Gracie invited some of her relatives to come and see their new home in the States. The parties were loud and joyful, filled with children, music and interesting foods. The Baker’s were only able to let them stay awhile in the worker’s shacks, but Gracie’s family didn’t mind. They talked about that week for years afterwards.

Gracie had one son. He was a strong boy and her husband was proud of him. The boy inherited his father’s knack for mechanics and was often found “fixing” something from the barn’s piles of forgotten machinery. The boy was able to attend the local public school and easily received a scholarship to a nearby college. The day he left for college, Gracie and her husband wept. He was the first from their family to even go to college. He lasted two years, but soon found his real passion in mechanics. After leaving school, his family’s work ethic was seen as he worked days and went to trade school at night, quickly making a name for himself in a city about an hour away. The boy opened his own shop and named it “Gracie’s Gears” out of respect for his family. He took some ribbing for it, but knew that if it weren’t for his family’s life choices, he would have never had such an amazing opportunity.

Then just last fall, Gracie’s husband died after a sudden heart attack, Adele and Gracie had grown to be very close over the years and now, with their husbands passing in similar ways, they found even more comfort in each other’s friendship. Adele asked many times if Gracie would like to move into the farmhouse but Gracie needed to stay at the ranch house for a while yet. It wasn’t until the boys came to live there when Gracie changed her mind.

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Just a quick one...the kiddos have been saying tons of funny stuff, I've just not been writing them down!

Me: Ok, Elle, what rhymes with log?
Ellie: (thinking...thinking...) BLOG!!

(Oh dear. Out of the mouths of babes.)

Check out more goodies at Mary's.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Alpha and Omega Boys - Part Two

Copyright Party of Five. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of all content, text, or image in any form in strictly prohibited without prior written consent.

The driveway was a pocked as a young boy’s face. Some of the potholes had been worn into craters by the trucks carrying the vegetables to market. Tire ruts rounded into the grass showed where drivers had found a path to avoid the deeper holes. Driving the road was more evasive driving than some of those TV shows she and Gracie watched in the evenings after the boys had settled down for the night.

The family’s and the farm’s mailbox sat on the end of the driveway. The one was open permanently because someone broke the door off once and it was never replaced. Being a country road, they never really feared someone taking their mail. “Let them have it,” Mr. Baker used to rant, “It’s all bills and junk anyway!” Adele giggled to herself at the memory of her dear husband sitting at the kitchen table raving about what the world had become. He always did it with a glint in his eyes, not too serious, yet he still felt the need to spout and show his authority on the subject. Her eyes smiled back as they peeked over cups of midday coffee. Those looks let him know she respected him for his knowledge, but also knew he was just short of talking himself out of his pants.

Their marriage had begun at a young age. They’d met at a friend’s high school graduation party and found each other that night. One quick year later they couldn’t wait any longer. He was working the family farm; she had a job at a local grocery store. They had all they needed and true love to boot. His family farm had an empty trailer next to the farmhouse garage. The plan was to live there, and build their own house at the east end of the field across from the farmhouse next to a young grove of trees that the country church was growing to surround their cemetery. The church was at least a mile away, but the Bakers were kind enough to sell them the land for cheap.

Within a couple of months, Adele was pregnant with their oldest, a son. Life had begun. Four more healthy and bouncing babies came along over a short span of time and by the time Adele was thirty their family was complete. The trailer was soon too small and her husband’s dream to build them a house finally came true after their third child. The growing family moved across the field from the farmhouse into their own three-bedroom ranch with a basement. As she walked through their new home for the first time, Adele felt it was the biggest kitchen she’d ever seen. It was open to a large eating area that would make it easy to make dinner, watch kids doing their homework, and still have room for the littlest ones to play in the cabinets.
Their children grew up as country kids, spending their days outdoors, investigating the earth and their family land. Dirt was often found under their nails on a daily basis. But not for long, and certainly not on Sunday. Adele was of the belief that you could tell if a child was well cared for if they had clean fingernails. So nail cleaning was a daily ritual her children would often tease her about even after they had grown. Each child had a job around the house and helped out with farm work as well. As soon as school started they took the long bus ride to the Christian school. The Baker’s church saw the family’s desire to send them to the school and the strain it caused them as a farming family, and each year Adele’s tuition bills stayed the same, even after all five kids were attending.

As Adele remembered those days at the house, she felt every mother’s thoughts…the days were short, but at times the hours were long. The kids played, her devoted husband worked, and she did her share to keep the costs down. Hang the laundry. Can fruits and vegetables grown on the farm. Cut coupons. Make their daily bread. Making bread was her favorite thing to do. She made sourdough the best. The kids, and later, her grandkids, would cut thick slices, toast them, add butter, and the sugar/cinnamon mix Adele put in a shaker. Adele felt the most proud when she watched her children eat the bread she had made for them. Their slow chews and occasional sounds of satisfaction were thanks enough. Her mother-in-law had always told her that to be a farmer’s wife you needed courage and contentment. She found those words came to her often, even now as the twin boys babbled at the bouncy road.

Adele had always enjoyed children. As she watched her own children become parents, her sense of awe at how children discover their world was source of pure joy. When they visited she would make grand meals and teach them games. “Grandma’s Game” was the popular card game, similar to gin rummy, but invented one lazy afternoon on the picnic table under the shade of an old oak tree. Now, there weren’t too many visits from her grown children and their kids. She’d tried luring them with a promise of paving the pocked drive to keep their shiny modern sedans and SUV’s safer instead of snaking their way down the drive. By that time, Adele and her husband had moved back into the farmhouse after her in-laws had passed. Mr. Baker’s mom had gone first, and his dad soon followed. Many said he died of a broken and lonely heart after seeing his wife suffer through her long sickness. He once told Adele he had seen his wife’s sprirt in the hallway one night, and she had told him she was ok, and just patiently waiting for him to join her.

Even though she never admitted it out loud, Adele knew it was just too hard for her children and their families to be at the farm. The memory of that horrible spring afternoon still gave her own stomach and ache that would stop a person in their steps.

Adele’s whole family had come out for a picnic at the farmhouse for “April birthdays.” Several of the family members had been born in the month of April and it was always a good excuse to head out to the country, be together as a family and see spring arrive with the bright purple heads of the crocus blossoms. The grandchildren ran the length of the farm grounds, exploring barns, most still in use, and filling their young lungs with the country air. That day one of the boys had found a way through the fence surrounding the old inground swimming pool. The pool was the one luxury the Baker’s had added to their home. It was next to the farmhouse, but around the corner from where the adults had taken seats outside. The boy fell into the empty pool. The damage to one of his legs combined with an infection from some bacteria growing on the cracked concrete bottom gave the doctors little options but to amputate the little boy’s left leg.

The next week Adele’s husband and some of the farm help filled the pool with dirt and rocks. Within a year no one would even know a pool had even existed on that spot. The sadness that everyone felt, or maybe even a little guilt, kept Adele’s children from ever coming back to the farm. It was now a “dangerous” place.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Alpha and Omega Boys - Part One

Copyright Party of Five. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of all content, text, or image in any form in strictly prohibited without prior written consent.


The smaller of the two boys pulled up on her pant leg, a feat only recently learned. He smiled up at her as she dried her hands, wrinkled not just from soapy water, and grabbed him up. As she lifted him up her eyes met little baby eyes that weren’t hers, but still looked for that sense of belonging. The other boy, who was bigger in size but not yet as skilled, padded across the floor with his pudgy little hands. He weaved under and around the wood legs of the old farm kitchen table that used to seat as many as seven at a time. Soon he found one of the sturdy chairs and tried to climb the bottom rung as he’d seen his twin brother do many times before. After a few failed attempts, he crawled across the floor to her.

“Well, I can’t lift ya both,” she chided the pudgy little faces. “Let’s all go into the front room and play by the davenport.” Like a little parade they left the avocado kitchen while the smallest’s legs kicked at her hips. The other followed dutifully behind into the sun-soaked front room that was just big enough for one small couch pushed against the wall. The corner held a makeshift toy box created from the vegetable crates from the barn. She gently placed the two brothers near each other and splayed an array of toys she had gotten from a generous neighbor whose grandkids had outgrown them.

Quickly, she remembered the late afternoon time and announced, “Mail time!” The boys’ eyes found hers and the recognition of the impending long walk to the mailbox brought a flurry of excited whines and crawling legs toward the entryway door. There was joyful rocking, wiggling and movements that only a baby could make to show how happy they were to be going for their daily walk. One at a time, with the help of patience beyond their years, she was able to get them into the double stroller she had picked up at a garage sale soon after she had known the boys would be staying with her as long as the Lord gave her life.

As they began the bumpy ride to the mailbox, she remembered the day she knew they could be hers. The boys were 2 months old.

“Mrs. Baker, you know your…um…age…is a concern for us. We need to think long term for these boys. Because of the special conditions surrounding their birth…and the …situation, we need to make sure they have as normal of a home life during these critical developing months. Plus, think of the stress on you because of there are two of them.”

Adele was kind but firm.

“Son, I‘ve raised five children, run a farm on my own for the ten years since Mr. Baker passed, and watched a grandchild lose his leg. Plus, I have Gracie to help me. To be honest, these boys will either be the beginning or end of my life now, but they need me and I’m ready to take them home now.”

That was the moment she named them. Allen and Owen. A bit on the corny side to be sure, but she was almost 70, she was allowed a little corny.

68 cents of happiness

I spent 68 cents on happiness today.

Josh had "volunteered" to go to the store with me today. Saturdays are not my first choice for the weekly grocery run, but with an extra day of work for me this week, necessity won out. Josh said he would go, but only if he could have some gum while we were there. I asked if we had some in the van and he said yes. Off we went. Moments into the ride, we discover there is no gum in the van. Uh oh.

Josh has always been a fairly easy going kid. With the right heads-up he could adjust to most surprises. As his mom, I've figured this out and try to keep him up-to-date. Oddly enough, life does not always fit into my plan, and then Josh reacts. His latest reactions are more of a tired, moan with eyes on the verge of tears. At times, there will be falling on the floor actions and a whole lotta drama for a six-year-old boy.


This AWOL gum was a problem. As soon as we got there, I bought one pack of gum. The blue kind, his choice, a good one. And then forty-five minutes of happy shopping ensued. If only life was always so simple.