Thursday, April 28, 2011

W is for Weather

I was born in Oregon.  My mother told me that the year I was born it rained nearly all spring and summer.  Apparently this has affected me my entire life be cause I absolutely love rainy weather, and I pretty much dispise sunshine.  You know that Disney movie with the wizard who has a duel with that nasty witch?  At the end of the duel he infects her with a virus that means she needs sunlight.  At the close of the scene she is shrieking about hating nice, bright, healthy sunshine.  That's pretty much me without the warts and scraggly hair.  Well, OK most days without the scraggly hair...I am a mom after all!  And honestly with skin like mine the only thing the sun gets me is burns with a promise of skin cancer later on so yuck yuck in my opinion.

I don't think my birth year has everything to do with my love of the rain and fog.  My parents hunted deer every year and once my brother was old enough took us with them.  We spent hours trailing my parents or grandfather through the deep forest.  It seemed to me then that it rained every day we were out, and those times are some of my best childhood memories.  Our entire family was together, we got to play and explore, and we also got to spend time with our Grandfather Tucker, who we only saw during hunting season.  All in the rain...the glorious rain.

Fog rolling in off the ocean.

 My Aiden boy watching the sea and fog.

I don't love just rain, I also love fog, sleet, hail, and just enough snow to close the schools so my kids can stay home and play with me.  The only good thing about summertime is my kids get to stay home with me then too!  Sadly, though they like to spend a lot of time outside, dragging me with them into the hateful sunshine.

 Samantha crouched under my coat in the hail.

The kids place bowls outside to catch the hail.  I sprinkle it with sugar and they eat it.

I think the first rain of fall is my favorite.  By the end of summer I am almost sick with longing for the rain to return.  As the storm builds up it feels like the trees are holding their breath, fluttering their leaves in anticipation of their first drink in months (or weeks depending on the year).  The grass and even the earth seem to cry out for the rain to come.  The pitiless sun has beat down, cracked the earth, dried up the flowers, shriveled the trees...everything waits.  And then the rain pours down.  Not dainty sprinkles like in the spring, or drizzles like most of winter, but wonderful, lovely sheets of water plummeting from the sky to being life back to everything.

My kids seem to have inherited my love of the rain.  They play outside in it, dance in it, and then run inside for hot baths and cocoa.

I let Seri outside to play on the porch one rainy day.  She went straight to the water falling off the roof and played in it.

Tucker at the beach in his jammies in the rain.  He loves the rain too..once he asked me some questions about raindrops.
Do raindrops get afraid of heights?
Do raindrops ever want to stay clouds?
What if a raindrop wants to be itself and not join in a puddle?
Can raindrops have thoughts?

I guess its a good thing that I love the rain.  I've met people who live here and love the sun, and they spend a lot of months unhappy, where as I am never more happy than when the sky is grey and drizzly.  What kind of weather is your favorite?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

X is for X-acto knife

I have never been a crafty person.  My hands are not crafty. This was something of a problem for me considering who my parents were. 

My father grew up in what he called an Okie Stomp.  Everyone was dirt poor, and made everything stretch to the last bit of usefulness.  As a result he could weld, build a house including electrical and plumbing, make about anything out of wood, build cars from the tires up, fix toys to bikes to watches and everything in between.  He was also artistic.  His wooden boxes and tables and toys are gorgeous, his wood stoves delightful, his stained glass intricate, his photography sublime, his painting...well he wasn't so good at that but he had fun.

My mother was the true artist in the household.  Her oil paintings were good enough for her to sell many of them.  She can sew or mend anything and is also a quilter.  She can knit, bake and grow plants and trees of every type.  She can also hunt, fish, gut and preserve her own catch, and play a mean game of cards, but that's another blog.

As my brother and I grew up my parents taught us whatever we wanted to learn.  I can change a tire and my brother can sew on a button equally.  It soon became apparent, however, that while he was able to learn many things about making stuff, I lacked the same artistic spirit that lived in my parents.

What is it that makes an artist?  I'm not sure.  My parents and my brother are all artists in their own fields, whilst I am...well I'm just not.  Oh I can sew, and quilt, and paint if its something simple.  I can cook food people will eat, and shape wood into something useful.  But everything I make lacks that inner spark that turns a jewelry box into something people are proud to display in their homes, or bake a cake people are still talking about 10 years later.  Or so I thought for a long time....and I should note that my feelings of inadequacy are entirely my own.  Both my parents were always encouraging my brother and I to try things and praising our efforts.

What does this have to do with x-acto knives do you ask?  X-acto knives are used in scrapbooking!  And that is my art.  It turns out I did have that creative spark, it just wasn't where I expected it to be (as often as this happens you'd think I'd stop looking for things and let Deity show me instead!).  I've been scrapping since two tiny little girls came in to my life 13 years ago.  My best friends baby Ally, and my hubby's baby Samantha.  Yes, the Samantha I am now proud to call my own daughter.

As it turns out trying to be proficient in the same areas as my parents wasn't such a good choice.  My talents and skills lay elsewhere.  I'm just glad that I stumbled on to something that made me feel creative and fulfilled, instead of continuing to struggle feeling second rate.  As much as I want to I will never build a car, or paint a gorgeous sun set.  But I can take pictures of both and make a wonderful page, and tell a neat story, and leave that as my legacy to my children.

What are you good at?  What creative spark have you nurtured today? 

Be Blessed Friends -=)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Y is for Yippie!

When I was little my mother used to call me her sunshine.  I was, apparently, a bright, happy, singing, joyful presence dancing around the house.  Then I hit puberty.  It sucked.  That's pretty much all I have to say about that!  Then I grew up a bit more became an adult, had a son, and I was a happyish person, but I don't think anyone would have classified me as a sunshine.  Somewhere I lost that lightness of spirit I had had as a child.

Then a lot of bad things and poor choices landed me in the middle of a new life.  And suddenly I saw everything as a negative.   If a bad thing happened to me, my attitude was SSDD (same shit different day).  If a good thing happened to me my attitude was its not gonna last.

As I struggled slowly out of that mind set I realized that just not hating everything isn't enough.  The bible puts joy on the same level as peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.  The ancient Egyptians said Make today a happy day, Wear garlands of lowers and lotus, Forget your troubles, Dream of happiness. 

What does joy mean?  I think joy is appreciating what is around us.  I think it is not taking people and places for granted.  And mostly I think it is being open to the positive energy that swirls around us all the time.

What does being joyful look like? I think being joyful is a state of mind.  I don't think you need to sing or dance, although if you feel moved to do that you should!  I think joy can also be a quiet thing.  The touch of a lovers hand, the feel of your baby's hair, the feeling that sweeps through your being at the sight of a beautiful landscape or the sound of a wonderful song.

If you lose your joy how do you find it again?  For me it was being around those who are joyful, reconnecting with my Deity, counting my blessings, and spending time with my children.  That feeling of pure happiness is so easy to see in the face of a laughing child.

 I have an old friend who is dying of cancer.  His name is Aaron and he has a blog about his experiences.  One thing he repeats often is Choose Joy.  Following his struggles has amazed and humbled me on so many levels.  Reading his blog has reminded me that every day is precious, every person is a gift, every day we should choose joy for the benefit of ourselves and those around us.

What is it about joy that is so important to the human soul?  I believe if we are truly joyful it puts us in a state of being where we can hear Deity, where our heart is open to the lessons and experiences being offered to us.  Living our life with joy thanks Deity for putting us here in this time and place and for reasons we might not understand but accept and believe are the best thing for us.

In my morning prayers I make a concerted effort to choose joy.  I remind myself to see the positive, the beauty, the hand of Deity in all things.  Sometimes life isn't a bowl of cherries, but choosing joy sure makes it seem that way.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Z is for Zipper

So I decided to try this post the alphabet thingy (ya I'm a follower) but being me (it's a weird place, but I'm good with it) I decided to go backwards.  So starting with Z....and then I realized that Z might not be the easiest word to blog. 

I could go with zebra...but what do you write about a zebra?  It's like a stripey horse with a bad attitude and a weird tail.  Then I thought maybe I could write about the zephyr...but its pouring down rain here so I'm not in that kind of mood.  Zimbabwe...never been there. Zircon...too cheap.  And then I remembered something that happened back when the Tuckerling was a baby, and involved a zipper!  Oh happy day!  A relevant Z word!

Back then I was a brand new Mommy.  I had had a lot of experience with other peoples children, but this was MY new bundle of joy.  Oh sure it leaked from every orifice, made more poop than my fathers cows on a daily basis, made loud noises without any discernible way to make it stop, and demanded feedings until my boobs bled, but I loved this little mite with all my heart and soul.  I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) so getting my own child was a long dreamed of miracle. I wanted everything for my little precious bundle to be absolutely perfect!  I had read all the books on parenting my budget allowed me to buy.  I had taken two 12 week parenting classes.  We had a timer, a schedule, a chart showing diapers and what was in them, lists of appropriate wake time activities, and enough plans to choke a mule.

I have to pause here and comment that I still have all of those charts, and they even show which breast I used to nurse him every time.  Even more funny is that we (my ex-hubby and I) thought we were perfectly normal, but that's another blog altogether.  OK back to zippers.

After having my little son some weeks the new and shiny had begun to wear off.  Weeks of sleepless nights and untold stress from trying to keep everything perfect had dulled my senses to about the same as those of a life long drug addict.  One day after changing the fifteenth poopy diaper that hour (only a slight exaggeration I assure you) I went to zip up Tuckers little blue sleeper and he started shrieking.  I instantly began checking him all over and found that I had zipped a piece of his tummy skin into the zipper!  Oh the horror!  I had damaged his perfect little belly!!  He didn't even bleed, and only cried a few minutes, but I was horrified and devastated.  Would my precious still love me?  Would he be traumatized forever and unable to wear anything with a zipper for the rest of his life?  Would he ever trust me again, and more importantly would I ever trust myself?

With the benefit of hindsight (and regular sleep!) I can see how silly all of that was.  Tucker ate, didn't sleep, and pooped as normal.  He wears clothes with zippers all of the time, and seems to still trust me as his beloved Mammo.  But as I look back at that time I scarcely recognize myself.  I was so uptight its amazing Tucker came out as liberated and spontaneous as he is. The thing that strikes me most is that even though my brain knew I couldn't control everything and make Tuckers life perfect, I was still going around beating myself up and trying to make it happen.  Not only that but I castigated myself over the slightest mishap. Eventually Tucker started sleeping and I rejoined humanity.  Looking back I can chalk most of it up to new parent sickness (that's what I call all the weird behaviors first time parents sometimes do), but I think there was also a deeper problem with me. It took the death of my beloved father, and several other harsh reality smacks from Deity before I began to see that my attempts to control everything were making me (and everyone around me) miserable. 

Six years after Tucker was born another miracle occurred and I had Seraphyn, this time without benefit of fertility drugs and embarrassing questions and probes.  This was totally unplanned, unexpected, and shocking on more than one level, but I had learned some valuable lessons by this point.  All the charts and planning in the world can't account for everything, sometimes unexpected things happen and you have to be flexible enough to handle them.  I welcomed this late in life surprise with gratitude and amazement.  OK, and a little annoyance that Deity chose to send her AFTER I got rid of the last of my baby stuff!   My parenting experience with Saso has been completely different, much more organic and relaxed, and while I wouldn't say she's a happier child than Tucker was I would defiantly say that I'm a much happier Mommy.  My mother used to say that the Mom sets the tone of the household, and I think she was right.  I just thank Deity for sending me the lessons and teachers I needed to make my house a much more relaxed and peaceful place.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Barns and Babies

Yesterday I took Sauce and Yoshi and went to go visit my second mom Linda.  I met Linda when I was in my early teens.  I had loved horses my entire life, and here was a woman who had an entire barn two sizes!!   As time went on I spent more and more time at Linda's barn.  She gave me riding lessons on her insane Arabians and I went with her all over several states showing the miniature horses.  After a while of trying to keep Seri out of Linda's things in the house she suggested we take Seri out to the barn. I somewhat reluctantly agreed.

I love horses, I also love the  barn, but I even more love my tiny daughter all in one piece!  Still, I clambered in the golf cart for the tearing ride up the path to the barn with Seri shrieking in glee as Grandma Linda swerved madly from side to side (also shrieking in glee).

We entered the barn and the magical reaction happened.  I could feel the stress flee my body and smile spread over my face, I was home!  And then I realized Seri had made a bee line for the nearest stall.  Instantly I went in to full protective Mom mode.  "Seri be careful, Seri don't touch, Seri get away from there, Seri don't put that in your mouth, etc, etc, etc."  Finally Linda laid a gentle but firm hand on my arm.  "Nance why don't you just let her explore a little?  She'll be OK."

As I stared at my wonderful friend I realized I had become my own worst nightmare.  I was acting like the typical interfering parent, not letting my child have a little freedom to experience something new and wonderful.  Linda has no children of her own, but I have come to respect her knowledge of human nature and her ability to cut to the heart of an issue and have practical advice.  If she said Seri would be OK I trusted her enough to realize Seri really would be OK.

So I buttoned my lip and told Seri to "run, be free" (something an old friend used to say that I always thought was cute) and Seri headed out to explore this wonderful new environment.  She examined the stalls, she pet the horses, she tried a little horse food, she tasted the water in the horse buckets (my favorite memory is Linda hanging on to the door of the stall laughing her ass off at the expression on Spudsy's face...he could not believe this small creature was drinking his water), she licked the dog when he licked her, she climbed up, up, and up the sawdust pile and slide down again over and over, she took a chew on a salt lick, and found Grandma's secret stash of soda (and batted her eyes until she got one too), she found lead lines of various colors make excellent boas or belts and stallion chains can be turned inside out to make bracelets or crowns.  After two hours following her around and watching her I carried a filthy, exhausted toddler back out to the golf cart for another tearing ride down the hill.  As I kissed Linda goodbye I reflected on what a wonderful time we had had together.

I don't know when I turned in to a hovering, annoying, interfering Mom.  I always tried to keep my kids safe, but I also always tried to let them explore and experience and be themselves.  Maybe it's because I'm older, maybe it's because Seri appears so delicate and dainty (which she manifestly isn't), or maybe I've just forgotten to relax and let go and see things through the eyes of my children.  I'm grateful Linda reminded me of who I used to be, I'm grateful I have such a wonderful person and place to share with my children, and I'm most of all grateful to be a Mom.  Be blessed my friends!