08-15-18 The Hurt Toes

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I was looking down at my book when Big E started whimpering from the pool. Within seconds he was full out crying. My eyes shot up and I saw him standing on the steps at the edge of the pool, tears streaming down his face. I stood up and he came running towards me, dripping and cold, throwing his arms around me.

“What’s wrong? What happened?” I asked as he continued to weep, drenching my clothes and dripping on my book. He couldn’t answer. C walked up behind him and I asked her, but she couldn’t answer either.

When he started to regain his composure, Big E told me that he had scraped his foot on the side of the pool as he was jumping in. He hobbled over to a lounge chair and sat down. Sure enough there were multiple scrapes along his toes, and his one toe nail looked damaged. As he noticed the blood coming from his cuts he began to scream even louder.

I grabbed his towel and wrapped his foot in it to stop the bleeding. Within a minute the bleeding had stopped, but the pain had not. He squeezed my finger as each new wave hit him until finally he started to calm down.

As C turned her attention back to the pool, and I began to read again, Big E propped himself in his chair and looked around. I glanced at him over my pages and watched him wince. He’d check his toes. He’d talk to me. He’d sit in silence.

After awhile he started to get bored. I told him he could get back in the water and he looked shocked. “But it will hurt!!’ he exclaimed. “Maybe,” was my reply. “And if it does, just get out again. It stopped bleeding awhile ago.”

Timidly he got off of his chair and dipped his toes in the water. He let out a squeal and hurried back to his retreat. “It hurts!!!”

“You know, if you don’t think about it, it won’t hurt so bad.”

He looked at me in amazement.

“If you don’t focus on your pain, you might not even notice it.” I watched him think this over. After a few moments he stood up and said, “I’m going to try again, but I’m not going to think about my toes.”

Sure enough, within three minutes he was splashing around the pool without a care in the world. No more complaints, only smiles and laughter.

That’s life isn’t it? It’s the choice we make daily. When we can’t take our eyes off the things that hurt us, they are the only things we can see. But if we look past them, choose to temporarily forget them, and live beyond them, they lose all the power they once held over us.

 

08-14-18 This is the “Why.”

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There are many reasons why we moved, but this is one of the most important ones.

This evening after work, Tim texted me to let me know he was on his way home. I texted back that we were at the pool and that I was sure the kids would love if he could drop by. A little while later he pulled in at the pool without the kids noticing. When he walked through the door, one by one, the kids started squealing “Daddy!!” and threw themselves into his arms.

This guy doesn’t get enough credit for the hard work and sacrifice he has done for our family. He gets up before sunrise, works long days, and comes home exhausted, but excited to spend time with his family. For about four years, his days included at least three hours on the road each day to get to and from work. His life was a whirlwind of traffic, work, and a blur of sleep. It was hard on us, but it was especially hard on him as it meant he missed a lot at home.

He’s now only 25 minutes from work, which means he is home a great deal more. We even drop by to visit him at the shop sometimes just to surprise him and say hello.

This evening I came into our room to see him and Baby E curled up on our bed, flipping through the fungi book. I watched and smiled as Baby E asked about each one, repeated the things his daddy said, and posed questions to be answered. He was eating up every minute. I think they both were.

Moments like that remind me we made the right decision. Hands down.

08-13-18 The View From The Floor

This is where I find myself most evenings, long after the kids have fallen asleep and the house has slipped into silence. I choose a music playlist or a show to watch, stretch, and I start to run. In the first few weeks I walked a lot, peppering my time with short bursts of running, but now it’s nearly half and half. At the end of my run, after I cool down, I lay on the floor next to the treadmill, stare at the ceiling and listen to my heart beating and my lungs breathing.

Six weeks ago I would lose my breathe climbing the steep and uneven stairs to my third floor office, a chore I had done for the better part of ten years. Tonight I went eight miles on the treadmill in 74 min 18 sec. There’s room for improvement, but I’m proud of my progress.

08-12-18 The Crayfish

I heard the sounds drifting down the stairs as Tim was putting the kids to bed. I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and a smile crept across my face. They were singing my favorite hymn. Of all the hymns that I have ever sung in church, it’s the one that resonates the most with me.

Come Thou Fount 
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here by Thy great help I’ve come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in the blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy wondrous grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
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This afternoon we decided to take the kids to the creek to splash around for awhile. They had never been there with Tim and he had been wanting to take them. It was raining for most of the afternoon, but as it began to let up we pulled into the parking lot. Because of the weather, there weren’t many people out. We did manage to come within ten feet of a deer eating in the woods, we came within sight of a large heron, and we ran across a very large (dead) cray fish, (which honestly looks more like a lobster!)

08-11-18 Pie

I had a rough day today, but when I got home this evening and walked in the door my mother told me she had made me a cherry pie, my favorite kind. Moms are pretty special like that, taking care of you when they don’t even realize they are doing it, and clearly my mom is one of the best!

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08-10-18 Officially Homeschoolers!!

Big news in our house this evening. The kids are officially ‘registered’ for homeschooling this year. It was a very simple process of filling out a form and providing information about the subjects they will be studying. The kids and I dropped our notice of intent off this morning and the superintendents office.

Such an auspicious day deserved a celebration! Knowing how much they enjoyed swimming on our vacation, I decided to take them to the pool for the day. When we bought our house we got a complimentary pass to a nearby pool for the season, but today was our first time actually going.

The place was perfect. They had two pools- one for the little kids and then of course, the regular one. The kids spread their time equally between the pools. We got there around 2pm and left at 6, more because we were hungry than the kids were actually finished swimming. Since the pool will be closing in a few weeks we will be trying to make multiple trips over there in the weeks to come!

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08-09-18 The Lego Day

Weeks go my sister in law and I purchased a Groupon for an exhibit at a museum near her house that was going to be displaying large Lego sculptures and today we redeemed it. There were 13 huge lego statues spread out over a large historic estate. We got to walk through beautiful gardens and paths as we wandered around looking at each one. It was hard to narrow down which one was their favorite because they were all very cool! I think mine might have been the peacock.

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08-08-18 Adventures with water shoes!

Today seemed like a perfect day to try out our new water shoes. The kids and I headed to a nearby creek (one we had visited before but didn’t get to explore) and we put on our shoes. Within moments we were wading our way down the stream. The water was moving pretty fast, but it never came up too high and we could always see the bottom. We saw some Appalachian Brook Cray Fish, some Damsel Flies (which we learned yesterday were not the same as dragon flies), some water spiders, small fish, and of course some fungi. We probably traveled about 200 yards down the stream and only headed back because the water was getting too deep. It’s been so hot lately that the frigid waters of the creek were a welcome respite!

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08-07-18 Flowers and Fungi

This morning we met up with friends from church at a local pick your own flower place. It was such unique idea. They provided large cups, water, and clippers and you got the chance to wander down the rows of beautiful flowers and pick what you wanted. You paid for the size cup you filled. Big E did most of the choosing of the flowers while C got to handle the clippers. Baby E informed us of every bug he saw.

Afterwards we sat and had a snack and devotion and the kids played tag. They really enjoyed their time there and Baby E has even made a new friend (which is no small task for him!!)

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I’m pretty sure I have mentioned before but Baby E is obsessed with mushrooms. We can’t take a walk without him stopping, pointing, and squealing “FUNGI!!!” at every mushroom he sees. This afternoon I dropped by the library and picked up a 400+ page book all about the mushrooms of North America. With over 1000 pictures of fungi I knew he would be thrilled. So this evening while my mom was reading Curious George to the big kids, Baby E and I curled up on the couch with our mushroom book, flipping through it, pointing at all the pictures, and trying to pronounce all of their scientific names. Just a normal evening with a three year old right?!?

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08-06-18 The Reason

There’s a reason our annual pilgrimage is so important to us.

It isn’t for a swim in the lake.

As fun as the gator is, it’s not worth the hours in the car.

The farm is beautiful, but that’s not it either.

The reason we go is because of Tim’s grandparents.

I never knew either of my grandfathers (though I met one of them a couple of times when I was very young), let alone any of my great-grandparents.

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My twenties gifted me with an unwelcome case of PTSD which manifested itself in anxiety and panic attacks which stemmed from living just down the street from the World Trade Center on 9-11 during my college days.

I learned early on that my symptoms were triggered when I was in an unfamiliar place. Going to a mall or restaurant was hard. I eyed every exit. I scrutinized everyone around me. I heard every noise, saw every movement. I was waiting for it to happen again.

As the years progressed, my world got smaller and smaller. It got easier to turn down offers to hang out. I liked my little house. I was comfortable with my routine. I knew where I was ‘safe.’ But even I knew I couldn’t stay there, so I began to fight it tooth and nail. I would try to do things and fail. I would end up a blubbering mess in my bed convinced my brain would never heal.

When Tim and I got engaged he wanted to take me to his family reunion to see his grandparents. (I had met them before, and had even visited their farm when we were younger, but not in a ‘family’ capacity.) I agreed to go, only to back out at the last minute. I couldn’t do it. It was too far. It was too unfamiliar.

When we got married, he asked me to go again and goodness I tried. We got in the car and we hadn’t even gone an hour when I was vomiting on the side of the road, begging to go home. He turned us around and dropped me off and went without me.

I felt like a failure. I had disappointed my husband and myself. I knew by the look on his face that while he wasn’t mad at me, he was incredibly sad.

The year C was born, Tim didn’t go to visit his grandparents. It was too close to my due date so he stayed home. Holding C in my arms, I vowed to myself I would keep trying for her. I would not let my illness define her upbringing.

Much to everyone’s surprise (mine included) the following summer we visited them three times. I can’t tell you what it felt like to pull into their driveway and see them. They hugged me. They welcomed me. Immediately I felt at home. It had been a goal for so long and when I finally conquered it, that place became my happy place and I absolutely fell in love with them. Every year since then we have made it a point to take time to visit. We try to go up a few extra days before the reunion in order to get more time with them. We love watching our children interact with them. Last year I watched as their great grandfather taught them how to put up their tent. I’ve seen Baby E fall asleep in great grandma’s arms. I love listening to the all the family stories. Without them ever knowing it, they were a huge part of my healing process and I am so grateful for them.

So this year I was so excited that 22 of their 26 great grandchildren were able to make it to the reunion. (They even have a great-great grandson, but he was not able to attend.) Watching all the kids crowd around for this picture was such a wonderful moment. What a blessing indeed!