Saturday, August 19, 2017

Back to School Nesting

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I was hit this past week with some sort of a panicky nesting type of instinct.The same illogical, tightening worry I’ve experienced near the end of most of my pregnancies that suggests that big changes ahead mean I will never again have the time or ability to do anything productive. Ever. (And therefore must immediately do all the productive things  . . . I’ve never actually cared about doing before.)

This was unfortunate for my children. I see that. While their friends were likely swimming, hiking, and overall . . . enjoying life; they spent their last week of summer break scrubbing out window-wells, washing the screens and windows that haven’t been cleaned in two years, and vacuuming out our giant van. Have you ever really cleaned a window-well? Particularly one that has had chickens and ducks living in it? That one was under the deck so you couldn’t stand up properly in it, and it was, in short, horrifying. It was mucky and dark and full of webs and . . . I had no idea how many spiders reside in window wells. (If you aren’t already aware of how many live in your own window wells, . . . or of how big they are, I encourage you to remain in that state of ignorance.) Luckily (for the rest of us), Goldie took the worst of it (of her own free will). She’d started out as miserable as the rest of us, but after a time, began claiming things about having become one with the spiders and about feeling welcome in their lairs. She even volunteered to take over Daisy’s portion of the terrifying ordeal.

But, perhaps now going to school will feel a relief? Or maybe, they’ve developed great strength of character they could otherwise not have? (In truth everyone was pretty willing and those old sayings about hard work – the unity and satisfaction it brings –  do seem to be rooted in fact. It didn’t feel like an awful week. Except for that part in the window well. That did feel awful.)

And we did take a lovely walk on the evening of Mike and Mette’s shared birthday. (Wherein we found wild plums. Wild plums? Yes. That’s what they were. Maybe someone planted them once? And abandoned them? Or they just spontaneously generated? The plums were near grape size because the trees had clearly never ever been pruned and were desperately trying to ripen eight billion plums, but they were good [if a little unripe] and a fun find.)

(Also, in this first picture, Jesse isn’t looking for berries or flowers or plums, rather, the perfect bundle of burs to stick to the backs of his siblings.)

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Sunday attire is always interesting. We all start the day in church clothes – dresses and ties and the like. Then some people end up in their dressy clothes all day, and some people change into “play clothes”, and some people wear their church clothes long enough that it’s uncertain if they should put on an entire new outfit when they do switch out of them so they just put on pajamas, or they just keep on church pants and too-short white undershirts. We are always quite a hodge-podge by Sunday evening.

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The best way to get a photo of Abe in his natural state . . . is from a safe distance and slightly undercover.

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And we also had a visit from one of our most beloved friends from WA. Arianne. I served (alongside Arianne’s mom, who I equally love, in the Young Women’s organization in our church when we lived up there). She was a tiny, little Beehive at the time and is now a tiny, little, almost-full-fledged Pharmacist! In any case, we’ve stayed in touch and, I believe I can safely say, share a mutual complete adoration (which she has kindly extended to my children and they to her). She cut and washed peaches at our command, celebrated Penny’s pumpkin cookies, talked cameras and photography with me (even braving a few of her precious film shots on my mobile kids), and did a smashing job of properly appreciating every single thing the kids saw fit to show her. She’d never ever (we were all convinced) heard anything more glorious than their writings; or seen anything more fantastic than their lunch boxes, or been more impressed by any creations. (No “pangolin made from a plastic soda bottle” has ever, in the history of the world, been more appreciated.) We love her. And it is a lovely, heaven-is-involved feeling to have people in your life who so easily might not have been – had you purchased another house or taken another job – who it is an impossibility to imagine . . . might not have been-ing.

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And . . . we gave up on weeding a month or so ago (despite all my grand plans for how we would keep our ridiculous amount of unruly flower beds . . . ruly). So that was some work . . . they didn’t do. (Though they enjoyed the flowers that have bloomed wherever our chickens have scattered their seeds [it’s a great way of transplanting!].)

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(Surely that’s just what Hans was enjoying as he gazed out the window in those above two photos.)

In any case, it’s back to school with the lot of them. For good or bad our summer has been spent as it has been spent.

The end.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Onward and Upward Then . . .

Oh all right. I don't want them to go back. My kids. To school. I can't bear it. Sand bags start piling themselves on my chest when I think about it.

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"Just two more weeks," I say. And then I have to change the subject of my thoughts. (I had a severe asthma attack for several days one time. Like sucking air through a heavy pile of thick quilts. Thinking and focus on every single inhale. A vice tight around my torso. I don't want to give myself the mental equivalent.)

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But it isn't school really.

I don't think anyway. (After all only three months ago I felt an opposite anxiousness. Hesitant to tackle summer. Afraid to give up routine and familiar.)

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It's more . . . the incredible discomfort of ending something that just started. Or maybe of starting something new. It's a hundred things I still want to do. It's comfort and known . . . leaving. Again. And it's life insisting upon change. Always. Right when I find a rhythm.

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"There are good things," I remind myself. "School means crisp air, and Abe heading up to the stadium to watch Friday night's football game, and putting corn stalks and pumpkins on the porch. It means quiet afternoons with babies napping and older kids at school. . . ."

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And I am excited about all of those things. But every new thing always scares and overwhelms me for a minute anyway. New babies. New church callings. Even learning new things. It all tosses me to the wind a bit -- leaving me feeling scattered and unsure until I've grasped all the fly-away parts of me and tucked them tightly back together.

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And yet. As I've typed this . . . a small flutter of gratitude has begun to creep in. Wholly unexpected. Another voice speaking reason in opposition to my fears. "You know you need this, right? Change. Stretching. You know it's good. How God must love you to keep life from becoming too stagnant. To organize your earth experience with time – passing and stretching on ahead. To keep you reaching and trying and figuring. What enormous luck that things don't sit the same; that there is always something new in front of you. New challenges. New joys. How exciting that you keep having experiences and opportunities that allow you to work, and trust, and discover things that were previously unknown." Huh. It's the funniest thing. I really didn't anticipate this feeling. Suddenly there’s . . . hope. And even anticipation where I only felt dull panic. Sort of a President Kimball "give me this mountain feeling". Mild of course. I can't yet claim to ever fully want hard (despite the good that follows). But . . . bring this change. Yes. Suddenly I can say that (when I couldn't five minutes ago). Bring this new season. Bring adapting and taking apart and rebuilding. Now? Now is lovely. But also . . . go ahead and give me the things that are ahead. I feel slightly in awe over the idea that though I don’t even know what those things are . . . they are mine! And they are waiting for me.

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