Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgivings Past

I've been reluctant to write about this.  I don't quite know what to say, or how to say it.  Words are not enough.

But I should at least say why I've been quiet here, and I have some thoughts to share, perhaps for my own benefit of recording them.

Nathan's sweet mother went to her heavenly home this past Sunday.  It was peaceful, and she is released from the terrible suffering she has been through.  But we miss her, as happy as we are for her, and I'm sure we'll only come to miss her more and more as time goes by.  And we hurt for the rest of the family who is missing her, too.

There's been so much bustle and stress with her care-- less for us than for those who live near her, but Nathan was there for several days last week, and was with her when she passed from death to life.  And now... now it feels like we should pause, or something.  Wait a little.  But life is here, and we are living it, and it pulls us to the daily things.  We try to focus on the comfort of the eternal perspective of this (which I can't be thankful for enough), but in my selfishness, I think a lot about the temporal.

So here it is, the day before Thanksgiving.  We do have plans for some dear friends to come and spend the day with us over a somewhat simplified Thanksgiving dinner.  I somehow feel like we shouldn't do it.  But we do have much to be thankful for, and in this life we need the reminders.

I have so many things to do, not only to get ready for tomorrow, but to prepare to drive to Minnesota for the funeral early next week.  Nathan has been so busy working on the funeral arrangements, and has two sermons to write for church services this week.

Instead of working steadily at my list, I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor with a largish cup of tea, thinking about Thanksgivings past.

For maybe the last five (six?) years --I can't even recall exactly how many-- we've spend Thanksgiving with Nathan's mom and dad.  Two, three, four years ago today we were filled with anticipation of their visit-- cleaning, cooking, waiting, Jonah asking "When, when, when?"  With our distance from family, it was always such a treat to actually get to spend a holiday with family.  We loved having them here, talking and talking and laughing and playing. Some other mutual friends (the same who are coming tomorrow) and their children always joined us for a big happy houseful.   Nathan's mom would help me cook the big dinner-- she'd give input on the turkey, mix stuffing, peel pounds of potatoes.  Oh, the piles of dishes she cheerfully washed.  And the whole time we'd be talking about anything and everything.  If no one else was around, our conversations quickly went very deep.  Those conversations were the highlight of my relationship with her-- her wisdom and insight seemed boundless to me.

Even two years ago, when she was mysteriously having so much trouble walking and standing, she sat on a chair and peeled potatoes into a pot on the floor.  She lamented her inability to stand at the sink and wash dishes and said she felt so useless.  She could hold the baby (Evan) for me, but only sitting, and of course, he wanted to be walked.  She didn't really mind his crying, though.  She couldn't tolerate idleness and only wanted to be helpful.    I told her to just keep visiting with me.  I was so happy just for the company. She played games with Jonah and sang songs to Evan. She had a fall while she was here that time, and they went home a day early so she could heal up at home and I tried to choke down the sickening feeling that she'd never come again.

Last year she couldn't make the trip so we went there.  I made lots of food ahead of time and cooked the dinner there, which we enjoyed with Nathan's parents and his brother's family.  It was fun, a little stressful with a one-month old baby, and a little sad to me, too.  She couldn't hold Andrew, but she smooched his little cheeks and sat near him and sang to him.  My babies won't have these memories, but I will, and I'll tell them.

And this year.  This year, I'm reluctantly preparing a quick Thanksgiving dinner without her, trying to prayerfully pull up all the thankfulness in me, and getting ready to go bid her goodbye until we meet again in heaven.

It's kind of a sad time. But a happy-sad time.  See?  Words just don't work.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Middle Man

He's pretty good at being a brother.

If a little brother asks...

...he'll even share his oatmeal.

He knows how to be a little striped-jammie comrade-at-arms...

...and how to be a fellow warrior.

With his own unique sense of style.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I think something bit me today.

Something crafty.

It's been a long time since I've felt even remotely creative.  Perhaps it's a signal of a (hopefully soon) return of energy after weeks and weeks of first-trimester fog (uh, yeah, it's been that long. I guess I did kinda procrastinate telling you all here...).  Maybe I'll start to feel human again soon.  Maybe.  But for now, I was glad of a little inspiration today.

I've been feeling like every day is exactly the same as the day before.  We've been cooped up in the house with all the yucky weather we've had lately and the days are getting monotonous.  I've had a lot of back pain that is really keeping me down, so that doesn't help.  But today, I politely told my back to "shut it", strapped the baby on in his carrier, and we headed out into the wind and sun for an expedition.  (I'm paying for it now, for sure, but oh well.)  We had a great time collecting leaves and pine cones and other bits and planning what we would do with them.  Andrew had fun trying to shed as many articles of clothing as he could and throw them on the ground as we walked along.  "Haha!" I'm sure he chuckles to himself, "Got those wretched mittens off!"

We returned, tired and chilled, with a fun assortment of natural treasures.

We had lunch, put the baby to bed, and set to work.

The results lifted our spirits considerably.

(And why is one piece of window trim not painted, you ask?  Hm.  How strange.)

I was even inspired to do a few other little fall decorations.

The pumpkins and squash that Jonah grew in the garden this year...

The bittersweet I found growing high in the staghorn sumac in the farm field across the road....

I just love the crazy curls of bittersweet vines.

Jonah was so excited about pinecones.  They were tightly closed when we found them, but I've been noticing them opening up big and wide all afternoon in the warmth of the house.

It's so nice to have a few pretty spots in my house right now.  Considering that within 10 minutes of breakfast every day the house looks like this:

...pretty spots are essential to me.

We clean up, and we clean up, and we clean up, but it's like bailing the ocean, let me tell ya.

And because I chose to do fun projects today instead of cleanupcleanupcleanup, it's quite a bit worse.

It seems like every day, I get to pick:  Tasks Essential to Staying Alive, or Something Fun and Different.

I usually have no choice but Tasks Essential to Staying Alive.  But some days, I decide we'll do without and get to something fun.

On his way home from Minnesota, Nathan bought me a 15 pound box of fresh cranberries in Warrens, WI, evidently the Cranberry Capital of the World.  And oh, cranberries are fun!  I've been doing all kinds of yummy things with them.  A couple days ago, Evan helped me make and can a big batch of my "famous" spicy cranberry sauce.

I add all sorts of yummy things --most notably jalapeno peppers-- and it's always delicious, if maybe a little different every year for lack of an official recipe.

And I forgot to take a photo of the end product, but I can tell you that it is a gorgeous color.  Now I won't have to make it at Thanksgiving, and I have extra jars for gifts.

Oh, I told Jonah I was NOT going to carve his pumpkin for him.  Then I amended that to "I will not GUT your pumpkin" and I did the actual carving after he designed the face, because I just couldn't bring myself to turn him loose with a sharp knife.  Maybe next year...

He did a good job scooping out the innards and cleaning everything up, and he ended up with a cute "jackety lantern" as he calls it.  We don't celebrate Halloween, but I just can't deny him the essential childhood pleasure.

So.  This post is to prove that I'm not a complete bump on a log, but I'm pretty close to it.  Is it spring yet?