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Love’s reminders

‘Tis the season to be swept away on a wave of annoyances. I’m prone to agonizing over minutiae, anyway, and I don’t think anyone could or does fault me for the things that often aggravate me these days—the kids’ health, various family matters, work, school… you name it, there’s stress attached. And whether it’s a “good” reason to get upset or not, the fact remains that I fret. Endlessly.

I want to take care of everyone. That’s what I do. I want to soothe the savage hormone beast, make school a happy place again, and hear Otto talk about work without a multitude of heavy sighs. I want my parents to smile and my friends to relax. Is it really so much to ask that I be omniscient and omnipotent and that I be able to fix everything for everyone??

(Uh, don’t answer that.) (more…)

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Love is full of surprises

We got up at an unholy hour yesterday and hit the road early enough to miss the traffic, which meant we’d already been on the road for hours when we stopped for breakfast. Our last Cracker Barrel meal for the foreseeable future, and not a moment too soon. My arteries were starting to congeal. (That’s just my opinion, of course. The children’s opinion on Cracker Barrel is something like “HOORAY FOR SHOT-SIZED BOTTLES OF MAPLE SYRUP! CAN I CHUG IT?”)

Back here at the ranch, we began the post-vacation madness, the part where you wish you could take a vacation from your vacation. Actually, I was prepared for it to be much more drudgery than it turned out to be; in short order the camper had been emptied, four loads of laundry were complete, the garden was watered (two hours later, it rained, of course), the pool was clean, and the children were playing Mario Kart with glee, just as the good Lord intended.

I expected yesterday to be a grim march of chores, and instead it was downright pleasant, with everyone helping, and little bits of fun along the way. (more…)

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Love breaks through

This winter has been pretty bleak, so far.

It’s the usual stuff as well as some genuinely difficult circumstances—most staunchly filed under Matters Largely UnbloggableTM—and while the bottom line is that we are all fine, I respectfully submit that T.S. Eliot got it all wrong. April is not the cruelest month, January is. Hands down.

One of the things I’m discovering, finally, after coming-up-on-two-years worth of remarriage, is that blending a family is not a linear process. It’s more like the Electric Slide gone haywire, with steps forward and back and then—surprise!—sideways at an unpredictable pace. If you’re not in tip-top shape it will sap you of your energy and your belief in a happy ending, sometimes. And when things are difficult and everyone’s got a cough that just won’t go away, nobody feels much like dancing. (more…)

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Tis the season. . .

… for everyone to LOSE THEIR FREAKIN’ MINDS.

Seriously, I don’t know what it is about December—whether the twinkling lights, much like certain over-the-top animated programs, cause people’s brains to short-circuit, or if all of that GOODWILL and CHEER is just destined to backfire, or WHAT—but this is the time of year when otherwise reasonable people just up and go NUTS.

And I don’t want to cast aspersions, really, I don’t. But I’m pretty sure this is NOT what Jesus had in mind. (Then again, Jesus strikes me as the sort who would find the birthday hoopla unnecessary. Though a national wash-a-stranger’s-feet-and-donate-to-charity day seems unlikely to gain the same sort of popularity.)

Anyway. This insanity has struck many near and dear to me. OF COURSE. (more…)

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Love is a conduit

I had something else planned, for today, but then I read Karen’s post and realized there was something different I needed to say.

Once upon a time I was a Stephen Minister, and at a certain point during my tenure as a single mom, it was one of the things that needed to be cut from my schedule to help preserve my sanity. I really regretted having to step down—it was and is something I feel strongly about—but there is only so much time in the day, you know? And I was heeding some excellent advice from a friend, too, at the time: You cannot help others if you haven’t helped yourself. My translation was something more along the lines of “You can’t be useful to someone else if you haven’t gotten any sleep,” but yeah, that.

And with our church-hopping here in Georgia, I still have not returned to the program. (more…)

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Even love can use some training

You name me a discipline method—other than corporal punishment—and I have tried it. I have punished for being bad and I have praised for being good and I have tied allowance to behavior and I have set marble jars on the counter (good deeds put marbles in, transgressions take marbles out) and I have overreacted and underreacted and just plain REACTED over and over again.

And any parenting book I could write, at this point, with ten-and-a-half years of experience under my belt would read like this: “Pray. Then buy rum. The end.”

This is to say that I think my kids are going to turn out alright in the end, but more through dumb luck and sheer perseverance than through any sort of remarkable parenting on my part. And particularly when it comes to my oldest, I am fond of observing that all of the behaviors which will make her a FABULOUS ADULT are the ones that make her a TRYING CHILD. (more…)

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Getting what we deserve

One of the things that inevitably happens when you spend time with a friend who’s known you for a long time is that you talk about the past, right? It happens to all of us. And it’s inevitable that when I spend time with Kira, we cannot help but marvel about what a long, strange trip it’s been.

When we first started talking, four years ago, we were both in a place of grim determination, I think. I know I was. It was emphatically NOT a place where we’d overcome adversity and knew that a better life was coming. It was more of a place where we’d overcome adversity and we were just hoping that it wouldn’t always be quite so HARD, all of the time. We were okay, I guess (some days we were more okay than others), but it would be a stretch to say that we were HAPPY. We were… MANAGING. Some days we were even HOPEFUL. But comparing life back then with life now is less apples and oranges and more moldy bread crusts vs. a ten-foot-high chocolate fountain. A CALORIE-FREE chocolate fountain. (more…)

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Love keeps growing

We’re just past the halfway point of the kids’ first week away this summer, and truthfully, the days are passing at a tolerable pace. It helps to have a major catastrophe to tend to, I guess, to take my mind off of other things. LUCKY ME!

Oh, I kid. The whole computer failure and subsequent retreat into the fetal position has only occupied a tiny (gigantic) sliver of my time. Actually, I’ve been quite busy with my little container garden out on the deck. And that’s because I love to garden! Oh, wait. Actually, I think it’s because some sort of mystery bug is eating through my banana pepper plants. I spend a lot of time out there trying to find the culprits, and shaking my fist at the sky, and watering, and pinching the basil, and just generally fussing over my plants because my children aren’t here to fuss at. Don’t judge me. If all YOU had was lemon verbena, you’d spend more time with it, too. (more…)

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Love blooms in its own time

Things have been a tiny bit tense around here lately; I don’t suppose you’ve noticed. To say we’ve all been a little stressed out would not be inaccurate. And while I can’t speak for the kids, obviously, I know that I personally feel a lot more angst when my children are having trouble getting over a hump and I can’t seem to help them.

Both of them are struggling right now with different things. I am left feeling like what I do is never enough and that if only I could find THAT THING that would fix it all, we could all heave a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, THAT THING is completely beyond my grasp; whether because it’s imaginary or because I’m a moron, well… sometimes it’s hard to know. Nevertheless, some days life feels more like a struggle than a journey. And some days I wonder if hoping for change is foolhardy. (more…)

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The one where I realize: I’m happy

Joshilyn arrived yesterday afternoon with Sam and Maisy in tow, and Monkey and Sam were LITERALLY engrossed in a discussion of the finer points of various Pokemon beasties before the door had even shut behind them. For a couple of glorious hours, Joss and I got to sit and relax and chat while Chickadee dressed Maisy in a variety of her outgrown clothing and generally led her around like a wee and precious pet lamb, and the boys bounced off the walls upstairs (where we could hear them but not be overly disturbed by them).

I dished up dinner earlyish (Chris’ most excellent chicken curry with sweet potatoes and coconut rice, which if you have not tried you must go make RIGHT NOW because it is THAT GOOD) and the children regaled us with riddles as we ate, then we left the children and their pajamas and a movie with a sitter, and headed out to Borders.

Joss gave a great appearance, as usual, and as usual I had to restrain from blurting out to anyone I saw there, “She’s my friend! Isn’t she awesome?” Heh. (more…)

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