Endless Gifts – Easter 2021

a move and a home of our own: woods, stream, birdsong, slanted light, flowers, freedom, sunroom, beveled glass, granite that glints gold, bunk beds, basement, plans, joy, peace, happiness

a doctor visit and perfect blood pressure! all my dread- for naught and the sheer silly joy of it all

the David Austin 2021 Rose Guide open before me and my delight at discovering roses that thrive in some shade; my roses from last year, thriving here- I can’t wait for the delicate, fragrant beauties and, to my utter joy, my wee peony rising alongside the discovery of a mature peony pushing up, right here, in the front garden! and then- the day we planted the lilacs and discovered we were planting them right next to a mature lilac already here! Will there be fragrant bouquets of peony blooms in my future?

a visit from my sister and all the healing in every conversation

the white tulips she brought me- they filled my eye with beauty and my mind with joy(why? their thick, smooth cluster of white petals and the beautiful memories white tulips elicit for me), now they are planted outside my house, still blooming: I carried a spilling armful of white tulips at my wedding twenty-two years ago

a photo day for Asher- my senior- and the redemption of it all

mammoth peanut butter cups and Easter morning Empty Tombs

Neighborhood walks with Joshua, and one weekend, with my sister: there are flowering trees and endless variety; there is a glorious view and fields and trees and beauty

walking the property and every week seeing signs of new life: all the wonder and surprise of

every planting. What do we have here? So many things that flood my heart.

the brash delight of 84 Charing Cross Road and then the heartbreak of the ending and the fact that I can text my oldest in the wee hours of the night, and share the experience of it all, and he totally understands

My journaling Bible and Growth Roots Journal and books to study and learn from and suck the marrow!

(note the Mary Oliver book is not my devotional; it is a beloved volume I read from during Morning Time with my girls; I absolutely adore it; it does startle me awake; sing to my heart; put words to inchoate longings, ideas, ideals, and thoughts; and is otherwise an absolutely delightful pleasure and song for the soul)

sending baskets to my boys (the secret delight)

the bright flame of my wee firepit and the tall flicker from the candlesticks: my new love for beeswax: its mellow, golden, fragrant beauty

a date to Home Depot and he surprises me with burgers

Morning Pages, and Coffee, and Bible Time, and Prayer, and

the rowing machine

an Easter playlist and a current favorites playlist and a cleaning the kitchen playlist and a rowing playlist (Spotify)

filling the baskets and filling for cousins and somehow it soothes the ache in my heart that is unrelenting emptiness where my college boys belong

the realization that I am back, and I am okay

end tables with delicate bronze birds and slender leaves

my very own “white way of delight”

He’s 21 – in about one hour (technically a few more if I’m going to actual hour of birth). And we got to see him, and I got to squeeze him. I don’t really have words for the yearning in my heart at this stage of my life and how I have to firmly plant myself back in the present, every day, all the time- just as I did when they were all little, because everything is changing all the time- and all I have is this day. How can I live well within it? And more than that—- MORE than that: how can I love well? Yes, let me love well.

This one, well, he’ll be a senior in college next year. My, that went fast.

the white petals are down, a scattering of delicate beauty adorning walkways with

tender fragility; how I adore them. And I feel like a princess as I traverse over their cascade. And, there are violets, nested and peeking, and glowing

purple in soft clusters of loveliness. I long to gather them to myself- but like the pansy,

I can’t quite grasp their beauty. My fingers are too awkward, too big, for their gentle, slight loveliness. They must be left to glow where they are, and I, to stop and

croon in delight. Trying, however imperfectly, to soak the particular beauty into myself.

a mug of hot, sweet cocoa at the end of a long, hard day, and it helps, and instead of feeling guilty over its sweetness, I will enjoy it and let that warm trickle of goodness soothe me all the way to my toes- which is needed. I need it, and I’m grateful. Thank You, Lord.

Somehow, I made it. And tomorrow, I begin again. Always.

Always, we begin again.

{Endless Gifts}

Endless Gifts… from Autumn

{because it’s worth it to post; it’s worth it to remember; because all the words take me right back to that moment and remind me of who I am, and I need that}

It’s November, and I am reading Gratefulnesse, and Over the River and Through the Woods, and Alms in Autumn to my children. And I know it is in the faithful living that the true beauty and depth is found. I am singing Praise to the Lord, the Almighty– which somehow always seems to me to be the quintessential November hymn of Thanksgiving.

I haven’t been able to collect my Endless Gifts as I have wanted or hoped. I had a bumpy go of it in the months prior. It took a lot to adjust to the new school year and then there were some other matters that took urgent place and captured my attention.

I found a list tucked in my draft from late summer, and it is worth posting here:

finding out what brings the unstoppable smile, the grin lifting the corners of the mouth, the sheer delight and for all, grateful:

I learn to name them...

Pilot G2 gel pens, black (0.7 or 1.0)

Soft cover black moleskine journals, 8 1/2 by 11

this small, delicious journal

my mini bluetooth speaker

the golden flicker of candlelight and the way fragrance wraps round me

listening silence: I explore this through different resources, resonating; it centers me in a way so so deeply needed.

the unexpected beauty and pleasure from a diaphanous, flowery dress found on clearance; it falls around me like a benediction- and I can’t stop the grin

Powersheets and stickers and washi tape; and I learn the way of change, and I learn that habits of hope come from the inside, little by little. The sheets serve as unearthing, but moreso, as acknowledgement.

the kindle app on my phone

the deep soul sigh and restoration I feel deep in almost any L.M Montgomery book

the cut flower garden

Plum paper custom notebooks to curate a life

the Saturday morning he (12 year old son)  brought me one of the best coffees I have ever had, all sweet frothy goodness

a recognition of beauty, along with gentle explorations and readings, and the why for its worth and meaning to me

a son landed at home for fall semester college, bittersweet, “ugly beautiful,” “hard good”: not what he wanted, but we will make the best, the most, of it.

gifts for friends: gifts of beauty and grace

his good success learning to 3-D model

And, I am here now– again, and I am counting:

Outside church in a field with golden October light, and twirling leaves; and warm November sun, and beauty to rest my eyes upon; I breathe deep the freshness

Monday read aloud with Ama for my little girls (and I reflect about how this makes my top ten list, really my top five list, of favorite things from the Covid quarantine days)

Time at my brother’s in October and with my parents and my high school children all spread out on desks in many different rooms, getting it done- and the complete autumnal glory from every window.

Asher, finally able to sit for the SAT, in October

The first college acceptance letter and Honors invitation

writing projects, going forward

a dress full of flowers that swirls to my feet and the utter pleasure it brings me and the bright sunlit day I wore it out

a three minute makeup routine

a book of poems by Mary Oliver

a cleaned out and organized garage; a flower bed garden prepared for the long sleep of winter

small prints by Grandma Moses (from the wonderful Bennington Museum in Vermont) sticky tacked up at eye level on the wall at my desk; intricate, beautiful, detailed, and a reminder that God can do anything at any time, and a reminder to do the real living now with my whole heart; a reminder that there is a story yet to be told. The images represent beauty, hope, vocation, and calling to me.

the way I felt driving home from the doctor’s office with a good report

Endless gifts fall semester 2020

Here

We are just past one month in a new home of our own, and daily I truly awake, astonished and grateful. Profoundly grateful.

We moved throughout one of the snowiest Februarys we have had in seven years, and it was hard- and I wondered at the timing of it all. And now, as I am here, watching spring unfold over a landscape new to me and inexplicably dear, all I can do is marvel and soak. Soak the beauty, the freshness, the grace, the bird song, the surprise of this house, these grounds. The neighborhood, the tender comfort of each and every room, the delicate, intentional beauty, the mature landscaping daily revealing new delights.

So many times, I think of these posts, these pages. This blog which is the journey of my heart; the narrative of our life; the unfolding gold thread of grace. My children sorrow over the lack of posts, and I ponder how to get back into this space.

And, I think I just have to begin. Begin imperfectly. Begin right out of the gate. Begin where I am and move forward. And so I am going to. Now.

I have an Endless Gifts post from November/ the fall, and it is full of goodness and memories I want to treasure and remember. I am going to post it shortly even though it is months past. It was a busy stretch of months with a house hunt and house buying process and a move (in the midst of tax season) and more. And, as often happens to me, I go under and have to find myself and rise back up.

And, so I shall.

The Things They Say

At the table, one high schooler on my left; the other on my right.

I am in the midst of the ultimate multi-tasking– supporting a research paper on one side and a history DBQ essay on the other. 


I lean in to the son on my right, providing instruction, providing support. Getting ready to teach one more time that a certain precision with commas is needed when listing items in a series.


“You need a comma right here…”

I point at the screen and as I get ready to instruct…


He utters loudly, “What’s that…the “Harvard” comma?” 


I laugh out loud. I laugh hard and long. Welcome relief ripples over us, lifting some of the weight of these sweat-inducing English sessions at the table.

“Oxford,” I say. “It’s the Oxford comma, my boy.”


This household still holds TIGHTLY and forever to the Oxford comma, by the way.


The “Harvard” Comma…

The Things They Say

Ebenezer Stones

When my babies were little, I tucked them up under my chin and sang hymns to them. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, a beloved favorite that reflects God’s faithfulness and the remembrances of His goodness in the life of a believer, is a family favorite. The hymn speaks of the Ebenezer stone which is a monument the believer raises to remember God’s faithfulness during a certain, specific time. Ebenezer stones are precious witnesses and treasures and reminders of God’s very present help in times of trouble, trial, and also during times of great joy and celebration.

*******************************************************************************************************

A few weeks ago, I glanced across the dinner table to watch the candlelight catch the dimples in my oldest daughter’s face. I listened as she engaged in robust dialogue with her father in response to his own good-natured remarks. The contrast from just a year ago was striking, and my heart was glad. I read a note she wrote shortly after that in which she emphatically stated that her favorite subjects are math and French. And, for that, I almost cried. It feels too hard to try to encapsulate all that this means to me- (and really, to her) but I will just say that there have been many nights in the past years when her only remark at the dinner table might have been, “I don’t know” and two years ago, we had a professional tell us that she would gladly write a waiver to excuse her from ever having to take a foreign language (because she thought she wouldn’t be able to learn it),and that last year we had a math tutor at a co-op who so thoroughly rattled her confidence in her (very strong) math ability that she felt like a complete and total failure. And, at that time, I did cry, and I raged, and I felt so very frustrated- the way I think perhaps all parents feel who suffer with their exceptional child. My daughter’s broad smile, and winking dimples, and happy eyes are an Ebenezer stone for my heart; as is her 95% in a very thorough, rigorous French class that includes reading, writing, and speaking; and likewise, her 95% in Geometry- a class I felt so much trepidation for, and yet, here she is… sailing through smoothly. Everyone who knows her knows her personal work ethic. She puts her head down and gets it done. It can take hours, because for her, it is hard. And yet, I am also watching her writing, and her expression, and her understanding, and her ability in all subjects grow and expand. In some ways, it is the true physical realization of that adage: “she is coming out of her shell.” I am so delighted to see her bloom. And grateful. So grateful.

******************************************************************************************

How do I encapsulate the beauty of another daughter’s mind? Her unique view of the world and creative perception? I sent this one out to the flowers that have been an unending source of joy to us since May on what I knew was one of their last days before succumbing to a freeze. I thought perhaps she could bring a few last blooms in to the house. I missed their true last day, and they had already been hit and begun to blacken though there were some valiant blooms remaining. She back in with empty arms and with a look of sorrow on her face and said, “I think it’s their last day. I just want to stay outside by them all day.” And in her expression, and in her voice, I knew her heart longed and sorrowed for the flowers. She is the one who named the very first perfect bloom: Princess. And, Princess, it was with its perfect tight coral petals and slender rough green stem.

Tonight, I glanced across rooms and found her tucked up with a book, a chapter book. Occasionally giving impassioned and outraged remarks to character antics, she was deep in and understanding every word. She impresses me. That image will be forever pressed upon my mind. Just one year ago, she could barely read three letter words known as consonant-vowel-consonant. Letters were just decorations to adorn a page in unique and unusual patterns and order. She couldn’t hear the difference between certain sounds and some, she couldn’t even pronounce. Today, she is reading a chapter book with ease. She easily manipulates sounds and she knows the alphabet; it is no longer a mystery. And, today, I continue to marvel at the gentle effectiveness of the special program designed for dyslexia I use to teach her Language Arts and am so grateful for it. Sometimes her language gets all tangled up, and she can’t articulate the impassioned thoughts and ideas that swirl in her mind and heart. Each day, patiently, and step-by-step, we work together. An intuitive, she understands with her heart. The explicit teaching brings understanding to the whole of her mind.

*******************************************************************************************

I finished the Comprehensive Record ( which is a g’normous portfolio for college applications) for my third senior. I feel the deep soul sigh even now. The relief.

Grateful that is done and so much about that document (and related paperwork) is an Ebenezer stone, too. And that portfolio is a lot of remembering, reflecting, documenting, and compiling with integrity, for the good of my student. Graduation means a lot to me; it means a lot to my student. It is its own Ebenezer stone.

Homeschooling is a long journey in faithfulness, and I am still learning so much, each week of every year. Even now.

There is a lot about the senior year that is hard for me. I have always felt that it is its own birthing. Birthing hurts. It is hard work. It is its own kind of glory both for the mother and the child. All the long years I labor over the education and formation of my child to the ultimate culmination of this launching moment. And I treasure this year as I build into the future with a precious young adult (my son will be eighteen in 20 days) who will be a beloved friend in the future, who is a beloved, wise, funny, friend now- who brings perspective, balance, and insight to my life. The future is bright.

This moment, I am taking a deep breath in the pause of a hard task, and a good one, complete.

*********************************************************************************************************

I have other, unspoken Ebenezer stones that I cherish and hold to my heart and gaze upon them. I see the gold light glinting, even now. The memories are hallowed and set apart as holy. And, I remember. I remember, and I know that every deep heart cry to God matters.

*********************************************************************************************************

Come, Thou Fount is all about God’s faithfulness. To know myself held in God’s faithfulness is a gift, but more than that, it is a transformative reality.

Can you call to mind an Ebenezer stone? How has God been faithful in your life? In your day? He is with you. He is with me. To let myself be led gently is priceless beyond measure, and to know myself loved and fully known is peace. To not be afraid of the hard or dismayed at the need to endure is a lesson I am still learning.

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Gluten Free Orange Cranberry Spice Muffins

These wonderful muffins are perfect for fall!

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

4 Eggs

1/3 Cup Maple Syrup

1/3 Cup Orange Juice

2 tsp Orange Zest (optional)

1/4 Cup Oil

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla

2 Cups Blanched Almond Flour

1/3 Cup Arrowroot Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

2/3 Cup Dried Cranberries

Directions:

Mix Dry Ingredients thoroughly.

Mix Wet Separately from dry.

Combine all ingredients, gently.

Fill 12 Muffin Cups and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

The Things They Say

It is the end of a long day. Little girls have been assigned to “room-time”- time when they must play alone for 30 minutes, totally away from each other. Just prior, I gave a somewhat rousing speech when oldest daughter staunchly refused to give on what seemed a small issue (to me) toward her youngest sister.

Littlest girl has been sent to her (shared) bedroom, where oldest daughter reigns supreme as Queen day in and day out.

I am in the kitchen, desperately cobbling a cup of tea together and then headed to the table for more schoolwork with that very daughter.

Suddenly, out of the falling darkness filling the evening kitchen, I hear:

“I feel like we are Jo and Amy and any minute something bad is going to happen!” This pronouncement is boldly proclaimed through the downstairs.

I pause, tea cup in hand.

{I realize after the remark} Daughter has just returned from her bedroom to the downstairs; apparently she observed small sister amongst the tokens and treasures of the room and was compelled to make her pronouncement.

“Jo and Amy? From Little Women?” I query.

“Yes!” said daughter pronounces.

“Who is Jo and who is Amy?” I ask, just trying to get the analogy straight in my head {exactly WHICH sisters is she talking about??).

“I’m Jo; Norah’s Amy!” she states emphatically, with a bit of a harried look about her and a certain look in her eye.

Of course.

Is Norah really getting into her treasure as Amy did to Jo? I ponder for a nanosecond and then!

I shriek and clutch my tea cup to my chest.

Yes, indeed, I did.

Because my daughter {my oldest! daughter} has just made a literary analogy- the perfect literary analogy!!!

And it must go down in the annals of our family history. Never to be forgotten.

More than anything- the moment reigns supreme

in my heart.

My mind.

Utterly, unequivocally delighted.

My little women.

A literary home makes a literary culture, and that is an endless gift and treasure forever.

The Things They Say.

Endless Gifts June into July 2020 # 111-150

I seem to have lost my kept draft where I jotted grace gifts bit by bit- and so now, I must begin again. So fitting for lessons I am personally learning. To begin again.

111. talks with Todd where I unearth some of the deep and find myself free and steady

112. Morning Pages and {sometimes} Evening Pages, and despite my endless questioning, I do see the progress, the purpose, and most of all, the way I’m held together while I pull so much apart.

113. The virtual Black Barn through Paper and String and kindreds and gardens and books and poetry and prayer and beauty found there.

114. David Austin roses, and how I can’t wait to cup my very own; there is joy in the anticipation as I feast on the beauty found elsewhere

115. The {upgraded and brand new} monitor now successfully working on the erg. I will soon venture for my first row; it does feel like a voyage. I am nervous; how many meters am I actually rowing? Oh well. On, on. {since I wrote this, I have rowed thousands of meters (and kept a record of them) and been drenched in sweat; the monitor pushes us  forward!}

116. Work with my darlings around the property; plantings, and mulch, and weeding, and trimming, and even washing. I do enjoy watching their interactions.

117. Two new needed beds for children, set up and settled

118. The Misfit box full of so much goodness: cilantro! cherry tomatoes, kale, squash, cauliflower, lemons, the best apples they ever tasted, and more.

119. hot, sweet coffee, foamy and good

120. the music teachers who keep showing up amidst technology blips and the sometimes strange time warp of these days

121. my son involved with his school’s (which was my school’s) IV- and all that actually means for me down in my soul. Chapter Camp{ish}.

122. They way they are still able to connect with their college people, and the friendships they build

123. Friendship for my rising high school senior that is good and true

124. The go ahead for foreign langauge and French classes, and we both sigh relief; and I see her almost hidden happiness. She can do this.

125. The way they chortle their wonder when they find peonies on Minecraft

126. We lost Todd’s grandfather. Todd made it safely to PA and back in a day, to be a presence, and honor the man who held such a huge role in his life for so many years. He refused any of the rest of us going, and I know there might be plans for a Memorial Mass at some unknown point in the future. The lack of closure brings tears to my eyes. I think about Easter and how we heard his voice as joined the Zoom call with Grammy via phone. How lovely it is to hear his signature laugh and jokes still in my head. Death is an abyss I do not understand, and this has always been true for me.

127. Black 8 1/2 by 11 Journals and little 5 by 8 inch ones, too

128. An SAT date on the calendar {again}

129. Six of my people, finished with their 2019/2020 school year (mostly)

130. Fresh squeezed lemonade on ice, while on the porch, with the Maryland sky; and all the spring greening and the breeze wafting through; the air sweet, the neighborhood, quiet.

131. Their faces over the porch rail, and the head scarves for my little girls, so darling! Most of all their friendship and quick conversation and sweet plans for summer. We cannot wait.

132. The slow way I am learning to be free; but free, I will be.

133. The clean, clean kitchen and my hands still wrinkled and tight from being deep in hot water and soap

134. The peonies, Shasta daisy, coreopsis, carnations. zinnias, vincas, pepper plants, and {future} roses that make up my at-home cultivation. Somehow, calling out the names one by one endears each living treasure to my heart even more. And I remember her. I remember dear Sharon who spoke each plant’s name as though it was a dear and kindred friend. Her gardens were (and are) magical. The columbine, forever pressed upon my mind. One day, I will have columbine, too.

135. Working in the sunlit kitchen alongside Nathanael, making platters of veggies and salad; while he washes dishes, and we enjoy the companionship of music we both love.

136. a drive with Todd to pickup Walmart groceries (possibly our new normal) and good conversation

137. a cozy desk set-up with beloved books, candles, journals, Bible time resources, my own chair, and more. Every day grateful for its beautiful, inviting space.

138. Tall, slim golden candles on twin birthday cakes sprinkled with gold stars and bedecked with my very own first attempt at home-made marshmallow fondant. Roses and stars (and hearts).

139. Time in the grass at eventide to watch them catch fireflies, and she catches a wee one and holds it gently. How far she’s come.

140. Summer Mummers and a swim afternoon at Courtney’s: my mind filled with beautiful images and joy.

141.  a little desk set-up for my girl, giving her space where she could see no space and she has her own flowers and computer setup and a rapidly growing collection of darling knitted creations.

142. a sudden jolting awareness of an injury that requires extreme measures to heal (no dancing for weeks, physical therapy); it is a gift because it is a pause. It is a gift because it is protective. It is a gift because it allows me to dig deeper into the quiet, still depths I need and crave and am driven toward so desperately.

143. All the pizazz Asher brings to whatever he does: a watermelon carved expertly and “presented” appealingly on platters for small sisters’ birthday dinner- only the latest. He can jazz up anything, I do believe. And, O! how I love it.

144. The way the struggle to count gifts reveals my lack of Presence in my life; my lack of attention and calls me back to that place where I can see once more.

145. Callouses on both hands, and we sit side-by-side and compare our “rower hands.” We callous in different places, and he says: “It’s just how it is; if you row, you get callouses.” Matter-of-fact and accepting and he even wears gloves. I run my finger over the hard roughness, tracing the somewhat tender outline. Somehow, I have one on my thumb. Well, I’m glad I don’t need silky smooth palms. I’ve got three good ones on one hand and four on the other. And they mean I’m showing up. I’m showing up, and I’m not stopping, even when it’s hard, even when I have to fight for it, even when I don’t want to, and even when, as others have shared with me, it feels awful- because sometimes, it really does.

146. Picture book challenge, and I try hard to gather my little girls every day as we endeavor to read every picture book in our house. And, — it is my favorite time of day. Flopped on the bed, ensconced by pillows and wee, small silky heads. And I get to share my favorites, and they get to find their favorites, and I act on something that is deeply important to my heart. So far, they treasure Miss Fannie’s Hat and, so do I. So, do I.

147. I give up my beloved desk for a week, and when I am back at it, with my candle lit, and music soaring forth, I breathe a little deeper. Grateful for this space.

148. A birthday trip for my girl and the way friends wrapped us round with beauty, comraderie, brave faces behind masks. A magical table under the arms of trees with truly the most delicious lunch I could ever imagine. Chipotle, potato waffles, lilies, and fans to ward off the hot sun. Her playlist and our car talks. I love inviting my teens to share their music with me. It is a window into the heart and such a way to build relationship. I have always known music’s power. Step-by-step, I learn them this way, too.

149. Several (!) walks around a North Wales neighborhood, WITHOUT a brace, WITHOUT having to stop, WITHOUT my back cramping. It was like a miracle; it is forever an Endless Gift. Remember, and keep getting on that rowing machine- even when it’s hard; even when it feels awful; even when I have to fight for the time. It works. I told a son I don’t row because I like it; I row for life.

150. Endless Gifts in pictures: June into July 2020:

The Father Daughter dance that didn’t happen, but the great picture memory forever; birthday with Lanie; twins birthday; we love to find hearts in the world- chip heart; fabulous birthday cake for my parents; Joshua’s Lembas bread; Abi’s sweet desk setup; Abi at PT for the first time; Zinnias and Nathanael; Micah and the wee girls getting ready for MaryLu’s visit; small girls who took the photo with the ray of shining light; my arms full: God fills arms with babies, with beauty, with love, with life, with zinnias!!!; twins’ birthday cakes; heart pancake; young man strolls in in my 1992 track and field shirt, and it becomes him; Maryland sky;  June Mummers bonfire; bracelet heart; Abi and I, girl trip 2020.

 

The days slip away; I struggle to attend. I fight battles in my mind. I fight sorrow in my heart. I traverse an ocean of fear and uncertainty. I try to be brave. I try to navigate with whatever adept skill I can summon.

I count gifts, and I’m grateful.

I say to my children: who do I love? who do I love? and shyly, sweetly, bashfully at times, they say: me, me, me. Yes, darlings, you. You forever. And you, and you, and you.

{and you}

When I can’t find my way, when I am gone under: under criticism, disapproval, misunderstanding, harsh judging, under anxiety, abandon, apathy, and hurt: the Way finds me. It is good to be found and to know myself, in the candle-lit, quiet time where I am free.

-Rebecca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes from Quarantine #7

img_20200713_210909171

It’s been a long while since I have written here, and it is no accident that this post states #7 when #6 can’t be found. Notes from Quarantine #6 rests in my drafts where it will stay for now.

Today, I wrote to a friend. It was the first time I have written personally in, what I recognized, has been a really long time. And, with a sudden unveiling, I realized how utterly fatigued I am with the long enduring uncertainty of the pandemic.

img_20200706_194616665

I am fatigued. Today, I missed two virtual appointments. The appointments were lessons for different children. Teachers are often changing schedules; I can’t keep up. One I re-scheduled on the spot; the other, an hour or so later (utterly forgotten until I was contacted). I set loud reminders on my phone that blare at me to help me remember. It helps.

img_20200704_220819752

As I was writing my friend, I revealed how long everything is taking me. It is taking me days to reply to emails, to make appointments, to make decisions. Everything is complicated, and showing up on a screen is sometimes hard, too.  I dread it. I don’t want to see the doctor through my computer camera; I don’t want to have to sign the COVID-19 release form for the dentist certifying the appointment is essential. It’s not. I don’t want to take the bunny to the vet or figure out physical therapy for my daughter during COVID-19. I am wearied of virtual music lessons. I can’t attend church.  We have all become masters of camera angle, zoom backgrounds, and interacting on devices. This is my reality in 2020

img_20200714_092954579

And today, it is July 14th, which- in 2020- is actually the day before the tax deadline. So that means I have been experiencing a “second” tax season for a few weeks. Todd was quick to minimize it- saying that this year’s tax season was not “bad” around April 15th. No, it wasn’t- but it was still overtime and every weekend and all kinds of uncertainty with new and changing legislation and business loans. It was intense phone calls and uncertainty. It was long and drawn out and here we are again. Tomorrow, D-day. Lord, bring us through.

img_20200714_092915575_hdr

The children feel it. One commented that he wasn’t the only one to have a tax season birthday this year. And, it was true. He voiced what I had been feeling but hadn’t spoken to anyone. We celebrate wholeheartedly anyway. Just like always. And every year, as everyone grows, it does get easier.

img_20200714_092851644_hdr

In Maryland, so far, {mostly} we are holding steady. This means we are and have been opening up cautiously and until today, really, I don’t think there was much of an increase of cases.  As I wrote to my friend, I was sharing all the things we are doing as far as pandemic protocol, and I realized how strange it was to write it out, how “normal” it felt, and how much is a part of our routine(s). Shoes at the door, showers, masks, Germ-X, wipes, and more.

img_20200713_174149230

I watch carefully around the country; I watch carefully, the world. I put my phone aside; I stop checking news. I huddle in close to write, read, pray, and row.  We all take Vitamin D. I try to get out to the garden; the zinnias are blooming. They bring daily joy. I buy more needed face masks- two we were given have already been worn out with all the wash and wear. I strip clorox wipes into halves, into thirds, as I use them, to make the container last.

img_20200710_170336320

Sometime back in March or April, I spoke to another dear friend on the phone. She told me her household was just taking it one day at a time. They were getting through day by day. Her words instantly settled me and brought a calm. She didn’t have to figure out childcare for a month from now or how she would manage her full-time job at home for weeks on end. She just had to live the day at hand, and so she did.

img_20200707_181542708

And so do I, and it is a monumental comfort when things feel impossibly unsettled and vague (college move-in dates, fall semester, community college class for a senior, the SAT {will it happen, will it be safe? what happens if it doesn’t for my homeschooled senior who has no standardized test score?}, college admission season, children’s activities, and so much more with no clear answers.) I don’t know when my sons will move-in to college, or even if they actually will, but I can wake up and attend to tomorrow- and there is peace in that reality, for sure.

img_20200706_194605453

2020. Tax season in July. An unpredictable pandemic. Day by day, even though I have a long delay, I do manage to mostly get the things done.

How are things for you?

~Rebecca

 

Notes from Quarantine #5

Week of May 18th- 24th.

We are no longer shelter at home, but are now safer at home.

img_20200518_154738639

img_20200525_162450168

Fields of buttercups at our local park

img_20200516_181325321

May 19th, 2020- Our oldest son went back to work full-time at the local grocery store. It was a venture into new territory, and I struggled with many aspects of this path. I admit to being somewhat comforted when he came home and told of all the coworkers he knows from different spheres of his life when he was in high school (former co-op and christian school team-mates, etc). Lots of young people working there right now. Thus far, all is well.  I also felt relieved when I learned they are checking temperatures daily, have plastic shields put up, and of course, everyone is masking. It is a different world at this time.  We (our family) seem to have a solid protocol established for handling everything.

A few of our other older children/young adults settled into their summer job which is childcare for family.

May 20, 2020- I social distanced (– note this was the first time I had seen any person not my own immediate family “in the flesh” since my brother stood on my porch with masks in his hands) on the deck with one of my dearest friends and got sunburnt to a crisp- after which I then shed like a snake for days, to my great disturbance. We talked non-stop for two and a half hours. I just soaked her in. My friend, in the flesh. I think about when I can see her again, and I wonder what value I bring to her life. She brings so much to mine. Our children basically stood or sat in a social distanced circle for those hours and visted, too. They were heckled a bit, just a bit, by Todd who came out wielding some kind of yard stick to measure social distance. We have all been alone for too long!! That same day, Asher took his last AP exam online. He is almost done with what has felt like(perhaps, with what has been) the longest spring semester ever. Almost done.

img_20200521_150530980

May 21,2020. I had a bonafide quarantine meltdown.

I think it was the perfect storm of everything comprising together to render me a ball of circumstantial distress. I had a mighty (weeks long) battle to get a routine prescription refilled, aggravated by quarantine confusion.

I rallied; I made {angry} phone calls; I made decisions.

I let some people in to the hard and the ugly- Always a good first step for me.  By the next day, the prescription was at my door. Thank goodness.  The melt-down day was a very bad day.

Over these same days, the rowing machine was broken apart all over my bedroom floor- and getting fixed, and I faced the reality that it might not be usable for a week. Then, I decided to just have Asher just put it back with the parts we had. It worked.  By Thursday, I was back on the machine. I realized how truly mechanical Asher is- especially when later in the week, he also helped Todd fix the lawn mower. We had hours of good conversation while he was working painstakingly on the erg, too. So, there’s that.

My week was so off, I only attended one music lesson out of the 7 I “should” have. Thankful for the big kids who stood in for my place for those other lessons. Grateful.

May 22: Todd’s wonderful 94 year old grandfather died after an undetermined illness. PopPop John was married to Grammy Helen for 73 years; my mind falters at the numbers. We walk the journey of this loss during the pandemic, and the way it is shaping memorials, visits, and saying goodbye. It is a yawning chasm made more so by uncertainty.

May 23, 2020. Micah moved out of his dorm, finally. He made the trip with Todd, and they had to follow multiple protocols and restrictions and directions to get it done. I could see the peace and relief and closure resting on him when he finally returned with the rest of his life that he had left when he left for Spring Break. A dear friend of his was also moving out of her housing in the time block after him. She shared that it almost felt like the apocalypse: rooms left just as they were as if people would be back any minute, only they wouldn’t, while other rooms were completely emptied and cleared out- standing in the doorway clad in a mask while campus appeared abandoned (so empty of people). Such an interesting and strange time. Her description touched me and brought me sorrow, too. Micah reflected about how confident they all were that they would be back when they initially left. But, of course, they wouldn’t. And then they couldn’t get their things for an extended period of time due to Pennsylvania’s guidelines with the shutdown. There is relief to truly bring spring semester 2020 to a close.

img_20200523_111021743

Quarantine hair!!

That same Saturday, I also visited with a neighbor on my porch for hours, too. We sat social distanced apart and talked about doctors and medicine and COVID and dance and homeschool and so much more.  Our daughters visited in the yard.

I find myself awkward as I try to navigate what is acceptable and what is not; when to wear a mask and when not; and so on.  It is difficult to know, except of course, when shopping in the grocery store or any kind of store for that matter.

img_20200524_183127875

On Sunday, we worked in the garden. I had a peony dream in my heart, especially once I truly learned the plants can be grown in large pots. My dream compelled me to take what is one of my yearly traditions: shopping for flowers in May. I wasn’t sure if it would happen this year; I usually go with Nathanael. But, go we did, masks and all. It was the first time I had driven a car since March. True story. I came home with three peony plants and potting soil.

img_20200524_142604659

Todd, Micah, Jonah, and Josh rebuilt our garden plot to get ready for zinnias; Nathanael made chili with Abi’s assistance; Asher helped fix the mower and mow the grass; I potted peonies and wrangled with one of my garden pots. It was a good, full day, and the reward of the work is sweet.

output (5)

Abi took an outside dance class in a parking lot on Sunday, too- her first one. The dancers were spaced six feet apart (or more) on yoga mats.

I speak to my sister on the phone on Sunday, and I share how I feel like I can’t commit to anything for next year, almost anything at all. She feels the same. We had to pull out of a major comittment for Abi by not signing next year’s contract; I know it was the right decision and I feel so much peace, but it still falls around us strangely like a scarf that doesn’t belong.

img_20200516_181417068

Pippin explores the outside-world!

On Monday (today- Memorial Day), we took a short family walk at a nearby park.  We didn’t walk the designated way on the trail because we started at a part where the tiny little sign was not visible. We had no idea. It all seemed okay, though. There were not many people there at all. No one wore masks. I could only walk half the loop because of my knee. It stinks, but I decided we will continue to make these trips to the parks around here over the summer and I will just do the shorter walk while everyone else can go longer. The spectre of surgery looms over me.

img_20200525_162455526

Perhaps it is true that life is picking up again in new and different ways. Nothing feels normal and everything is different as we stretch out into these new spaces and wonder how it will ultimately shape itself. The virus looms; its ultimate impact and wave of crisis unknown. What will be?