"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Friday, September 20, 2013

factual friday

I had a neighbor once who had this beautifully manicured yard. I never could figure out why his was the first to green in spring and the last to go when the flakes began to fall. It was perfect. Mower stripes in a crisscrossed pattern. Never a weed. That color emerald that makes you sigh with love inside.

Mine had voles. Some weird cross between a mole and a ... I don't know what .. but they left ugly burn spots in my lawn. Newel made it his mission to clear the pestilence. I'd stifle a laugh when he'd come marching through my kitchen with a BB gun under one arm and a bagged critter headed to the garage trash like a proud nine year old.

He was outnumbered. Those dead spots presented with trails between them and the destruction worsened.

We set out rat poisoning in our stacked rock wall ... until one day, our only little boy at the time waltzed in from the yard with blue teeth from some "yucky tic tacs" he'd found.

I glared across the street, certain that neighbor held the key of all keys to landscape aesthetics.

On a walk one day, I passed by with my stroller and he was out watering. We exchanged greetings and I had to ask his secret.

He laughed and took me right over to see patches of burned grass, trails, and bald earth of his own. From a distance, it just seemed his challenges were less, different, or non-existent.

As a young mother with children clinging to my legs, I thought mothers laughing with their teenage children who responded to "reason" .. had it made. As a mother of unreasonable teenage children, I look at empty nest mothers and think their singular responsibilities must be a cake walk ... until I hear about the heartache of worry for adult children, grandchildren and the difficulties of caring for an aging parent from my own mother.

The grass always looks greener, I suppose, and that's not meant to be depressing.

The simple truth is ... every stage is hard.

My mother shared a personal experience in raising a teenage boy once. He was in a wrong place at a wrong time and called her for help. She instantly hit her knees in prayer then grabbed her car keys running. She said her heart pleaded out to heaven for an answer, any answer, but her mind screamed louder still, "Why can't this be easier!!!"

Driving along, she said clear as if a voice spoke cutting through the noise of her brain, she heard, "If I'd made it easy would you try so hard."

She felt the heat of the refiners fire.

As a mother, my grass hasn't felt so green lately. Burn spots have been cropping up. And instead of one burn spot to fret over at a time, the trails seem to run between seven of them. The more I shoot the voles, the more I feel outnumbered. I marveled last night at a time when I'd burst into tears over trying to prepare a simple dinner for a husband heading home from a hard day of work as a whiny toddler weighed on my leg and an infant bawled his colicky lungs out from a baby seat.

Boo boos were fixed with bandaids and bedtime stories ... and an occasional trip to the ER ;) ... But I still felt it was hard.

The ones I try to fix nowadays are hard too, only different ... and influential .. and character building.

And, there are things about this stage of life that are easier than those were then, too.

But, as my brain swirls and whirls, wishing for the grass to be greener. Maybe even looking across the way wondering why there aren't holes in someone else's yard. Or even hoping that in the future of motherhood there may be a stage that just doesn't have quite so many holes in it ... I hear a voice that says, "If I made it easy would you try so hard?"

Which brings me to my grateful knees for guidance as a gardener of no great measure.

Monday, September 9, 2013

fresh starts, parent's retreat and the artwork of heaven

School began.

It was a rush from that county fair madness straight in. 

Man, O man, am I grateful for self sufficient and patient kids. I'm not so hot at back to school shopping for backpacks, supplies or clothing. I wasn't blessed with 28 hour days ... though, I've often wished.

I watched them consolidate their lists and pass down backpacks and share out of each other's closets to appear "new" on the first day because their mediocre mom just didn't have the time.

After that first day of school ... because it always seems they come home with extra classroom needs ... Celia piled them all in the car and took off with my debit card, their supply lists and budgetary instructions.

It was a little slice of heaven. And aside from the box of Poptarts and six pack of rootbeer that tried to fly under the radar meant to pad a big boy's new high school locker ;) ... they did a darn good job.

Don't those faces look excited to be up early in the a.m?

I don't know why I didn't get Grant's. He's flying solo in the elementary shift this year and we get some real one on one. It's nice.


Before he and Eliza were even out of bed, I was lapping up some first day pancakes and time with this sweetness. She's absolutely scrumptious in the morning. After she's been changed, that is.

First week down, Newel surprised me with arrangements for an over night trip to the mountains in Vail, not very far away. We wrote out complete scheduled instructions for Celia to care for everyone and still keep the house standing.

Boy, did that girl do a fine job.

I'm sure the promised pay for the new school clothes she was wanting helped.

Newel and I spent the weekend chatting on and on about parenting tactics, concerns with children, goals, hopes, and ways to boost our game to help our kids succeed in life and make our home run more smoothly.

And then I made him pose for pictures like this .. which are not his fave ;)

We took in the magnificence of the outdoors and soaked in just a little more summer.

And had more discussions about the beauty of God's plan and the placement of families in it.

We couldn't resist eating handfuls of these wild raspberries growing off trail.

But did resist eating these berries that look like yogurt covered raisins.

I wish I could describe the smell of this clover field. As if I'd stuck my head in a honey jar and breathed deeply.

A breath of fresh air I was so grateful to have and refill with rejuvenated purpose.

And then we returned ready to tackle the beginnings of a new year head on and hopefully add some of our own brush strokes to heaven's artistry.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

douglas county fair 2013

I say it every year. 

We really are a little less country and a little more rock and roll.

But 4-H and the opportunities that being a part of that community and our county fair present, are priceless. I'm pretty sure the years have taught my kids that they don't want to grow up to be farmers. It's a hard life full of hard work. Hopefully, however, they've learned to value hard work and the product of it.

It helps too, when you walk away clean sweep winners with $5075.00 to split for a summer's worth of work.

And who wouldn't want to be immortalized forever on the side of the fairground's barns??

It's impossible to fully appreciate the entire experience with out a little video help ;)

And on a musical selection note ... I heard this song on the radio and was utterly repelled by the lyrics. That is, until I heard a cleaned version one day going to and from the fair grounds covered in dirt, shavings, and chicken mess.

I nearly died laughing putting it into a different perspective; the blurred lines of loving the animals we rely on as a food source.

Love it or hate it .... here we go ...


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

before the real labor begins

We had a little taste of school last week but what I love about Labor Day, is that last summer hurrah.

It's been a long time since we've gone camping as a whole family. There were plenty of camping chair claim tiffs, games with only one winner, chore back talking, possessive tent space rumbles ... and that might be why it's been awhile.

But how do you hold on to the moments that the camera can't justify?

Like big boy excitement over masses of wild growing raspberries. Christian literally sat down in a patch, picking and double fisting those gems.

Or that we are easily entertained by a fallen log as a natural see-saw.

Laughing at Newel's obsession over hanging a tarp to keep the afternoon rains off of us. Those kids grumbled at the compulsive rehanging .. over.. and over ... and over again .. but we will always remember the only thing their dad has ever had to "over think and over engineer". That's rare.

Naptime and bed time resistance and the discovery of zippers. 

And sisters who will carry us while we sleep.

Ways to pass the rainy afternoons .. under our subpar-ly hung tarp ;)

Making certain no one starved for three days. I had a ball researching no cook recipes, desserts-beyond-smores, and honing my dutch oven skillz. Note to self for the future: Pre-chopping, labeling everything, pre-cooking meats, freezing for long term storage, was the perfect way to go. The chili, the skewers, BBq chicken pizzas, were awesome.

As were the desserts ...

Hikes with a passenger over eager to share snacks.

Hiking illegally off trail and telling stories about fairies and goblins dancing magic in the dark silence of the back country woods.

Some of us wearing the same clothes every single day even though we brought plenty of changes.

Stuff our dad likes to teach at an early age.

Eliza and her danger whistle. We told her to keep it on and blow it if she was lost or saw a bear .. you know .. if she was in danger.

Then she spent the entire weekend blowing it at every bee in her vicinity.

Cuz of the danger. Of course.

Warning: Charlotte alert just too cute for words.

But mostly, sitting around the campfire at night, telling scary stories, singing songs, playing word games, sharing haunted occurrences in our own house (some of us were really excited about that little bit), lingering just a bit longer, flashlights in the dark to and from the bathroom ... it all adds up to an amazing adventure.

Once the dirt washes off.