Friday, July 15

Flower Show

My friend Melanie has a lovely yard, and she puts a great deal of effort and time into it. My daughters love to play in her yard, and help her plant and prune and pick. Because she knows this, she recommended my girls to Cynthia, the woman organizing a Junior Summer Garden Club.

The girls were uncertain at first, but now they love it. And today was the "flower show" for the regular Garden Club, and the girls were invited. We had never been to a flower show, and were unsure what to expect.

It was lovely. So many lovely things! There were prizes and ribbons in every category, and it was fun to pick a favorite, only to find the judges agreed with our taste. Even my oldest girl - who declined to be part of the Junior Garden Club - enjoyed it, and found herself scheming as to what she could enter for next year. Cynthia was pleased as punch to have them there, and to introduce some of her "juniors" to the members of the "senior" Garden Club members.

I am grateful for the pleasant diversion of an afternoon flower show. I am grateful for Cynthia, and all the effort she puts into teaching these eager youngsters about flowers and gardening and cultivating. I am grateful for interesting and wholesome activities that involve us in the community, and provide us opportunities to meet new people and try new things. I am grateful for Melanie, who thought of us in the first place.

What are you blessed with today?

Thursday, July 14

Good Shoes

Sometimes I tease my husband that to him, life is a Tetris Game: the way he puts away his clothes, how he organizes grocery items when we shop, the way he packs a moving truck when he's helping a is all done in the most efficient way possible, with no empty spaces anywhere. Just like Tetris.

It's the same way with his schedule. There are no empty spaces. Every block of time is scheduled and accounted for. He is a really busy guy. 

Last night, he was getting ready to walk out the door for the Young Men's activity at Church when his phone rang. Someone had referred him (and his talents) to someone else, and this someone else was hoping he could stop by and advise and loan his expertise. My husband pulled out his schedule, and found a flexible moment, and promised to stop by.

I listened to this exchange, and found myself wondering what I could do to help him out. There is so much he does that I cannot do, even if I wanted to (yeah, I can't go tell this random person how to integrate a cantilevered entry pavilion into the existing brick facade of their building). But I can pick up some of his regularly scheduled stuff here at home.

I balance the checkbook and pay the bills. This used to be his task, but I picked it up to cut him some slack. My oldest son and I do the trash and the recycling, also a former husband duty. I try to iron his shirts for him (not very consistently, but I do try). I'm even a pretty decent Executive Assistant and Social Secretary when he's in a pinch.

Last evening, none of those things was going to help him. So I decided to mow the lawn for him. That may not sound like a big contribution, but here, it actually is. We have a big lawn, and a little push-mower. He insists he likes mowing, it is mental downtime for him, and doesn't encourage me to do it on his behalf. In the five years we've lived here, I've mowed twice. 

But when he can't get to it for two weeks and counting, it just becomes one more thing to add to the pile of Responsibility and Stewardship.

And we live in a town that will measure your lawn if it gets too shaggy and possibly send you a letter telling you to mow your lawn or the city will do it for you and send you a bill. I kid you not. This makes my husband a little antsy about the height of our grass.

So, while he was gone to the youth activity, I strapped on my good shoes, and went out to mow the lawn. All the little children followed me out of the house to watch the spectacle of Mommy mowing. When the baby decided she couldn't be happy any longer, my nine-year-old spelled me on the mower. Between us, we got 2/3rds of the lawn neat and trimmed before my husband got home. 

I must say, it was not easy. I do not find mowing to be "enjoyable mental downtime." It makes me hot and tired and sweaty and gives me a headache. I am a round woman and our yard is mostly a hill, and I have little children who follow around like loyal puppies, which is not a safe or good thing when there is a lawn mower involved. None of these things makes mowing fun or easy for me. But I wanted to give my husband back an an hour and a half of his life, so I kept going.

I am grateful for good shoes. My hands hurt, and my legs hurt, and my head hurt, but my feet were just fine, and that is saying a lot. I am glad that, even though it's July, the evening was mild, and a cooling and balmy breeze was blowing; it made everything bearable. I probably would not have dared to mow without such favorable weather. 

I am grateful to my daughters who kept an eye on the baby so I could keep going as long as possible, and for the little girls who fetched me water and moved big sticks and toys out of my way. I am particularly grateful that there was extra gas in the gas can, so I didn't have to quit and drive to the gas station to refuel. I am sheepishly glad that, even though I am round and fairly sedentary, I can still be useful and push myself when I want (or need to). Mostly, I am grateful for a husband who works so hard and so diligently to provide for me and our children, and who gives so much service to our friends and family and in our community. I wouldn't have him any other way.

What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, July 13

High School Memories

Today is the birthday of one of my closest high school friends. I could go on and on about the hi-jinks and inside jokes and drama and good times we had. It's really fun for me to think back, and to tell my children stories of the silly and enjoyable things we did.

One tradition we had was to go to the greeting card shop (or aisle), and read greeting cards. We each tried to find the funniest or quirkiest or most original card to show the other. And then we would buy it. And save it, in case we ever found the perfect moment (or person) to use it for.

I haven't seen my friend since her 2006. We keep tabs on each other via the Interned (we shamelessly stalk each other on facebook!) and Christmas cards. But I miss her. She has a cute little boy I have never met; I've had two more children since we last saw each other.

I meant to get her an amazing and quirky card and mail it off, but I never did take the time on the greeting card aisle to hunt one down. It's strange for me, when I think about how much a part of each others lives we were, and how little we are involved now. How does that happen? Life moves on, but looking back over the years doesn't feel like it's been that long.

I am grateful for high school memories. Of course, it was high school, so it wasn't all good times and inside jokes and hi-jinks. But that's what I remember most. And I am grateful for my friends, who have kept tabs on me through the years. Even though we aren't involved in the tiny little details of each other's day-to-day lives (what belt matches with these shoes? do you think he noticed me? did you study for chemistry?), we are still connected. I am grateful for that part of me, and my life, to remember and to share. I am grateful for those connections.

What are you blessed with today?

(Happy Birthday, Tiffany!)

Tuesday, July 12


Even though it's a Tuesday - and not a Friday - my husband took me out tonight. We didn't do anything special, we just left the children and left the house, and did something not relating to parenting or housekeeping/homemaking for an hour or so.

This was highly irregular. It was also highly enjoyable.

Summer is so jam-packed busy! Everyone seems to be going thirteen directions at once, and we're no exceptions. Sometimes I feel like my husband (who is my favorite person on the planet, no contest) and I are just ships passing in the night, exchanging signals across the bow. So, to take a break in the middle of the week to reconnect was heavenly.

I am grateful for irregular moments like that. Spontaneity is my native tongue, and Advanced Planning and Scheduled are my second languages...I'm not fluent, and I miss the comfort of my native speech. I am grateful for a husband who will ignore my protests about unfinished laundry and untidy rooms, and take me out for some adult interaction to firm up my brain that is slowly turning to mommy mush. Oh, and you must know how grateful I am for a gift certificate that let us eat out with out totally throwing off our precariously balanced budget. Definitely grateful for that!

What are you blessed with today?

Monday, July 11

Skipping Rocks

Tonight was Family Home Evening. We're not as diligent about planning FHE out in advance as we could be, but I don't let myself be bothered by it much, because at least we're having a Family Home Evening, right?

It wasn't part of any master plan, but we ended up taking all seven of our children out to a local lake to walk around the dam and watch the sun set and ... well, be together. I thought of a nice little devotional, but that didn't end up happening.

What did end up happening was this: my husband and all of my children (except the baby) skipped rocks. Lots of rocks. Their daddy took the time with each one - who didn't know already - to show them how to select a good skipping stone, and proper form for holding and throwing and skipping. It's sort of a shame that all the best skipping rocks end up at the bottom of a lake.

Some were great skippers, and some were plop-ker-plunkers, but no one cared. Even my toddler was in on the action, heaving every rock he could lift into the lake and exclaiming, "Boom,  bam, baby!" and "I win!" The children also scampered about, finding treasures of all sorts - rocks with cool shapes, or interesting colors, or crystals, driftwood, huge lily pads, cattails...the bounty of treasures was endless.

Who knew that skipping rocks was something everyone from age 37 to age 2 could enjoy? We had an endless supply of usable rocks, it seemed. The daylight was gone long before the rocks (or the enthusiasm) waned.

I am grateful for skipping rocks. I am grateful for a beautiful, balmy evening out of doors with my family, doing simple and enjoyable things. I am grateful for my husband, who is actually good at skipping rocks, because if it were up to me, we would all be plop-ker-plunkers, and that's not nearly as appealing. I am grateful for my family. They are my world. We only have so much time together before they all go their separate ways and start their own lives elsewhere. These small moments are precious to me.

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, July 10


I am one of the teachers in the Nursery at Church. This means I spend two hours with a room full of sweet, energetic, budding persons ages 18 months to 3 years. We sing, and play with toys, and build castles with blocks, and color pictures, and learn a (very short, very simple) lesson, and eat snacks.

Sometimes there are tears ("I want my mommy!"), sometimes there are ownership issues ("I had that car!"), sometimes there are pressing emergencies ("I have to go potty!").

Usually, it all goes well. But today, I was on my own. My fellow teacher was out of town. So it was just me. And seven little children of questionable communication skills.

It could have been a horrid, miserable two hours. But it wasn't. I'm not saying it was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, but it was surprisingly disaster-free. There were a few tense moments, but no one was damaged or offended, or even mildly traumatized.

I am grateful for a disaster-free Nursery day. I am glad for the extra help that came when I needed it (potty emergency!), and for the inspiration to keep conflict and drama at bay. I am grateful for the new little boy in our class, and for the two girls who keep it from being all about cars and bombs and explosions all the time. I will be really grateful when the other Nursery teacher gets back from Summer Vacation.

What are you blessed with today?