Blue Mounds

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These are the last days of summer of 2009 and I am trying to savor every last drop. Soon this green grass will turn brown and prickly, it will be covered (unannounced) with at least 7inches of snow, ice and dirt. The flowers in my garden will wither and drop and my vegetables will cry and scream as the frost burns their skin. My red tomatoes will fill with defrosted water and plump in the October crisp. My mint and basil will turn brown with frost burn and I will have no more fresh noodle-sauce which I treasure every summer. Basil and tomato is the taste of summer!

Today we ran, skipped and shouted in the Blue Mounds national park. I missed Washington but savored summer in Wisconsin. My kids are outdoor fishes who swim in the trees and paddle with acorns. They calm the beetles with their shiny, iridescent shells and they make friends out of sticks and leaves. I want more for them. I want the forrest as their playground. Blackberries are morsels. They ingest, digest and excrete every purple berry. Rocks, bugs and sticks are fascinating. Dirt is lovely and moss is a jacket to wear or a washcloth to rub on pale skin.

We camped, ate, sank, laughed, drank, smelled and left full of earth. We smell of fire and sweat. Stinky and lovely. Bliss and barefoot. This is the end. A new season of harvest and a time of plenty comes. Snow, frost, death, and cold. Welcome!

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the end of a season

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Rustle of wind in the leafy trees

Wine and an outdoor fire at the end of the day

Wild Salmon from the Atlantic

Smelly, dirty children with blueberry stains around their mouths and sweat stuck to their skin

Husband with a tall and broad frame moving next to boy as he rides his bike without training wheels

Girl with clumps of summer in her hair playing la la with her favorite friends, her fingers!

Furthermore: Fatty Bombalatty

Apple tree which dumps a dozen apples on our sidewalk for the kids to pick up and eat two months out of the year

Sunshine that melts into your skin. Warm. Indulgent!

Lavendar from my garden. Garden. Garden. Tomatoes, purple and red peppers, eggplant, strawberries, onions, cosmos, roses, squash, pumpkin, carrots, beets, zucchini, mint, basil, rosemary, cantaloupe, raspberries, cabbage, nasturtium…. Accomplishment!

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Line drying

Picnic Table dinners

Windows open at night. Underwear for pajamas. Bare feet. Flip flops.

Sweat

Tan skin

Freckles

Fire flies

The fear of impending winter and more snow than is necessary….

Life is sunny and open windows. Neighbors are seen and heard. Crickets lull us to sleep and flowers fill their air with essence. It’s summer! The end of summer.

This may be the last one here for us!

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Consider the lilies

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this habit of worry. I am a planner, a person who loves to be in control (in great ways and not so great ways) who has life a bit mapped out and sees a function and flow in advance when it comes to making plans. I like that about myself; I work hard, I get ‘er done, and I feel great when I’m creating or moving a plan into action. I do, however, see pitfalls up ahead (even virtual ones, ones that have never occurred and may never occur) so I will often think, rethink and think again about how to solve said problem. This is a great quality which I’ve come to realize and appreciate but one that will send my mind into a tail spin faster than you can say, “neurosis”.

There I go into the world of my mind, shut inside with my thoughts and the dilemmas that I must solve. This has been a problem lately now that I’m with my kids all day and they require constant engagement and interaction. They need me to talk, listen and pay attention. If I’m shut in my thoughts I almost can’t even hear them talking to me. It takes about six times for my son to ask me the same question before I realize he’s speaking to me.

 

I find myself staring at the lego in my hand, thinking through my dilemmas, praying, pondering and, yes, worrying. I have the fixed stare on the navy blue lego while my son is making engine sounds with his flying rocket. Then I snap back into the real world and I’m at my kitchen table, holding a lego and realizing that I’ve been out for quite some time.

I’m wondering how to live life as a person who is true to my design, who loves closure and problem solving all while giving my worry up to the heavens until it’s time to actually deal with it. I appreciate the symbolism of holding your hands in front of you and releasing something above, but that’s never worked for me. I can’t get passed how dorky I feel holding air cupped neatly in my hands as if I would be taking an imaginary drink from them and then holding them above my head as an act of submission and faith.

 

I need a different strategy. One that works with who I am! Why didn’t God give us magic wands with a glass encasing that reads, “Break in case of emergency”? Then we could wave them around to solve our problems to life’s little dilemmas. Maybe we could be issued three at the age of 21 and that’s all we get. I’m sure I know the answer to my own question and I am eternally grateful that neurotic narcissists do not own such a wand. However,  little ol’ me is in need of a wand, some answers and a bit of clarity so that I can be like the flowers of the field or the birds of the air; living in abandonment (or are they just animals that don’t know any better?). Nonetheless, they seem to hold a secret that I wish I possessed. Maybe I’m just in need of practicing faith and peace.

Once upon a time, there lived a coconut eating dinosaur….

This is how the boy began a narrative tonight. He told me five stories tonight (most of it is a ploy to avoid then inevitable, sleep!) but they were actually quite good. He told me about a dinosaur that went to the forest and got thirsty then hungry, so he climbed up a tree and ate some coconuts. He told me around five different tales tonight and I absolutely loved it, so much so that I allowed an extra 20 minutes of story telling (I’m actually never really on time with bed. I just wanted to be done with wee ones for the evening). I  couldn’t get enough. I found myself delighting in Oliver in a way that I have longed to delight in him.

He’s my challenging one! We often clash. Either we are so alike or so different, I can’t decide. Either way my buttons are all pushed each and every day since he turned three. He was my first. I have loved him with a love so strong that when I found out I was pregnant with Chloe I was concerned that I wouldn’t love another baby as much as I adored him. Then he turned three and I asked the daily question, “what happened to my sweet son? I want him back!!!”

I sit at a dilemma in life wondering if I work on character in my child or just nurture the hell out of him. It’s easy to ask, “what would Jesus do?” and then come up with an easy answer but to me there is so much going on in a child and in every individual family that each dynamic holds a unique answer. Would he work on his character so that he is an amazing adult with love and compassion in his heart? Or would he nurture with intense compassion so that he grows to know, in the marrow of his soul, that he is beloved? I believe the answer is…. wait for it….. YES! A complete and honest, yes. Jesus would!

My thorn has been finding the moment in which I nurture or I bring correction and guidance. I am deeply committed to my children therefore I want to provide a path in which they can walk in politeness, a good attitude, creativity, self esteem and all that jazz. Yet I also want to accept that they are children with huge immaturities and imperfections and at times they just need me to accept them in their moments of ever increasing emotional meltdowns, stiff necked bossiness, and grating negativity. These are my worst and most shameful moments as a parent; I am a perfectionist and would rather we administer the ‘proper emotion for the proper occasion’. I have expectations and I see a vision in my head of how it ‘ought’ to be. The way I think it ‘ought’ to be isn’t wrong either. It’s playful, creative, silly, fun, sloppy, unplanned and unscripted. It’s childlike. I have envisioned the responsibility of having small children to be an inquisitive and creative endeavor where you hold your child’s hand through questions and curiosities that life begs us to discover. Yet this is not always how it is when you have little humans with their own, God given, personality and agenda. Our story has caused me to re-evaluate my own ideals and expectations. It’s sometimes been abrasive, idealistic (Oliver is a perfectionist), over emotional, hyperactive with no outlet to diffuse and riddled with unharnessed emotions. All this to say, I have had to adjust in order to bend my expectations to my children’s realities.

Tonight I saw a glimpse of a happy boy that lives in his wildest dreams but shies away from showing others his inner genius. He told me story after story as he extracted precious minutes to avoid the ever necessary ‘bed time’. I found myself enjoying and delighting in his mentally exposing dramatization of a dinosaur named, “Chookie” that lives in the forest where coconuts grow and he eats them after he climbs up a tree and plays with his friends. This was a big step for the boy to relay the images that he sees in his brain and verbalize them into fanciful and colorful descriptives. I loved every minute of it!

I realize we won’t always have moments like tonight. Tomorrow we will wake up and find something new to cry about. We will say or hear the words, “Sweetie, calm down” over two dozen times and I will find a way to breath through a frustration that threatens to steal my patience. But tonight we laughed and clapped at the end of every story where dinosaurs were friendly and ships come to take us to little islands in the middle of the ocean.

Sweet dreams, my wonderful! You are loved!

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