Tuesday, February 28, 2017

sweet dreams and flying machines

This is not today. It's going to be 76 degrees here in Collierville today.  My daffodils are in full bloom and my Grandma's irises aren't far behind. But, it is one of my favorite pictures of this house. The snow is misleading, it hardly ever snows much here.  I love this house. It is my favorite of all our houses. It has been full of kids and cousins. The woods were a little bit haunted (as all the best woods are), and the park was a little bit dangerous (as all the best parks are). I brought sweet Charlie home to this house and Tommy and Johnny have started to become men they will be in this house. We've had broken bones and broken hearts and mended so very many hurts. We grew taller and stronger. We learned so much about who we were and who we want to be. For me, it's a house of dreams and magic. It was home. And very soon it will be someone's house. Someone else's magic and dreams and if they're very lucky, someone else's home. We are off on a new adventure. In a few weeks I will bundle all these boys onto a one way flight to Corning, New York. It's a beautiful little town in the wine country of western New York state. It is just my kind of place. My heart is still here though and hearts don't always move right away, just because you bought them an airplane ticket. To this lovely town, thank you for being a soft place for us to land, thank you for everything you taught us about love and friendship and life. Thank you for being so full of people who have become beloved. Thank you for teaching us that sometimes a new adventure is the best thing you've ever done and giving us the courage to do it again.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

the things I learned

Last year was not my favorite year. I am not fond of chaos and upheaval. 2014 had included a new baby in house long since free of diapers, a promotion, and family moving nearby. All good things. All chaotic and anxious-making. I was all ready for 2015 to be a year in which we just floated, a year when nothing interesting happened. There were to be no life changing events. I know, because I had a plan, as I often do, and it included no such nonsense. And then tax day. We had filed the night before since we had to pay, we had waited until the last possible second. I went to yoga that morning to wind down my stress level after all of that mess. On the second to last pose of the class my sweaty foot slipped on the wood floor and all my carefully laid plans went to hell. Such a ridiculous, silly thing brought my house of cards crashing down. You all know this story. Seven weeks in bed, supported by my amazing family and friends who took over and ran my life while I watched from my exile. That was followed by a lonely summer of baby steps with the physical therapist. Slowly, slowly I tried to find myself again. But lots of things weren't the same. Relationships and routines and my own sense of balance  (physical and emotional) all needed healing And then one day, my Mom went to the doctor for a stomach ache and 48 hours later was admitted to the hospital to start her chemo treatments. 1543 miles is a long ways to be when your mom has cancer. We talked and still talk almost every day. She's getting better. She lost all her hair but she got rid of the cancer in the meantime. She's got a few more weeks of radiation and she's all done. Lately she and I have been talking about moving forward. Finding one's way back to oneself. Or a new self, because, it turns out, we truly are defined by our struggles. The years when I coast through are not the years that I will continue to ponder for the rest of my life. They aren't the years that I continue to learn from long after they are over. We are greatly blessed. I had great medical care, health insurance, money to pay the bills, and people who love us unconditionally. My mom lives near one of the top cancer treatment hospitals in the county, her type of cancer is curable and her body handled a really aggressive treatment remarkably well and my dad was there to take care of her. This will not be my hardest year. It isn't even my hardest year to date but it is a year with ripples that I'm still feeling and I'm hoping that this year, I can coast a little while I'm thinking about all the lessons I'm still learning.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

counting by cicadas

It is a cicada summer this year. Every night at about 8 or so the quiet woods behind our home are suddenly filled with the distinct sounds of cicadas calling to one another from the trees. It is an unmistakable sound. It's a sound that I have come to associate with those dog days toward the end of the summer, those last halcyon days before school begins again and life returns to a more predictable, responsible pace. I have always loved those days. Every summer there are cicadas, but this year is the end of a 17-year life cycle so there are many more than usual and the deafening clamor coming from our woods are a testament to their numbers.

I remember the last cicada summer. It was the summer of 1996. I spent that summer in St. George, working a little and playing a lot. At end of July just when the cicadas were picking up steam, I met a boy. Once I met him, I thought him to be the funniest, most interesting person I had ever known. I still do. It shouldn't have worked. We were far too young and poor. We had so much school ahead of both of us. We really were still children. But. I only wanted to be with him. So I fell in love with the great love of my life to music of the cicadas. The next summer, when I married him, there weren't so many, but there's always a few in July and they played at our backyard wedding.

While those cicadas were sleeping we have traveled far. In our now 16 years of marriage we have lived in 12 homes, in 5 states and in 2 countries. Between us we earned 4 degrees. We climbed mountains, we rafted rivers, we ran races. We failed, we succeeded, we kept trying. We fought, we made up, we decided we could not do without one another. We had babies of our own, babies who will stay with us only a little longer than a cicada sleeps. And that's the thing we learn from the cicadas. On the surface that 17 years seems so very long, such long time to be sleeping, but now, I can see all the water that has flowed under the bridge during their nap and it doesn't seem like enough time. So much of my life and flown by in these last 17 years. We have grown and changed and come so very far. I can't stop wondering and dreaming about where we will be when the baby cicadas from tonight wake up.
Photography courtesy Erin Dahl Photography

Sunday, May 19, 2013

trust fall

      Remember when you were a scout or in youth group or what ever and you did the trust fall? You stand on a table, close your eyes and fall into the waiting arms of your team. You can't see. You can't see that they will catch you. You hope and you believe, but you can't be sure until you fall. This week we fell.

      Johnny fell quite literally. Off of a piece of playground equipment that he has jumped off a million times. Onto a safe, padded surface. The result was this.

     I was a little ways away, looking in the wrong direction when I heard him crying. I turned to see him running towards me and knew from 20 feet away that it was quite broken. Little arms are not supposed to be that shape. I was standing there with a group of parents from his preschool class, my friends. They all took a breath and then moved. One dad ran to his car to get a towel to immobilize him, another mom made a phone call to the neighbor whose child I had also brought to the park to let her know I wouldn't be able to bring her child home and a third mom helped us to the car and insisted on driving my car to the hospital so that I could make the necessary calls in route and sit in the back to hold his hand. I'm relatively sure that we were in the car and on our way within 2 minutes.
     We went to nearest ER.  My friend parked the car and waited in the waiting room to help Ty find us when he arrived. She then drove Ty's truck home so we wouldn't have to worry about it. She did this all with minimum fuss. The doctor and the nurses at our local ER could not have been more gentle and sweet with my little guy. They got him pain meds almost as soon as we were in a room. They talked to him and reassured us. They found a portable X-ray  machine so that he wouldn't have to be moved anymore than necessary. They took one look at the x-ray and informed us that we needed to head over to the children's hospital, by ambulance. Johnny was thrilled (by now the meds were kicking in) and the ambulance crew was delightful. The nurse sat in the back with him and downloaded his favorite songs to her phone on the fly. She laughed at his jokes and was generally delightful. The paramedic driving took the easiest route to avoid bumps and jostles, even though it took a little longer. He even flashed the lights, just for Johnny.
     The staff at the children's hospital was just as lovely. They had all sorts of little tricks to distract him from the pain and to keep him comfy. It was a very long evening. They went back and forth about surgery or reduction and all the concerns with both but all the while made sure that Johnny was cared for.
     Johnny showed us his true mettle that day. I always joke about the fact that he is undaunted by any challenge. Once again, he was his cheerful little self. He had stopped crying by the time we started the car to leave, granted I think he was in a little bit of shock. Once we got to the hospital and got a little pain medicine in him, he perked right up. Even though he must've still been dealing with quite a bit of discomfort, he did not complain once. He wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything all day long because they were considering surgery and he was perfectly pleasant about it. He told his knock, knock jokes to the nurses and was polite and patient for hours and hours. I am so very proud of him.
     They finally decided on reduction under sedation. Depending on how the the bones set in the next few days, surgery is still an option but possibly avoidable. Once he was sedated I had to step out. I couldn't watch. They casted the arm in a cut- cast up to his shoulder and after another hour of waiting for him to recover from sedation, we finally were able to head home. He had broken his arm at 1:00 PM, it was now 11:45 PM.
     For those of you who are unaware, he also had a sinus surgery last Thursday during which stints were placed into his sinus cavities. He had a second surgery to remove them scheduled for Friday morning. The doctors decided to go ahead with the surgery due to the risk of complications and infection if they were left in longer than necessary. At 8:00 AM the next morning, he and I were at the surgery center to get that taken care of. All went well and we gratefully headed home, ready for a well-deserved rest.

    So that's the story, but here's the lesson. All through that day I received texts, and messages and phone calls of support.  I haven't had to cook all weekend because of friends who keep bringing dinner. People have brought little treats for Johnny. They have filled in at my church job without complaint since we won't be there this weekend. They have helped me get my other son to and from where he needed to be. They caught us when we fell.  I know that this will all be fine, even now I am spending much of my time pulling Johnny off of things that he has climbed one- handed. In the long run it will be a terrible inconvenience and not much more, but in the moment it was overwhelming and to feel like I wasn't in it alone, that I had a team, a village who loved my child and supported our family was invaluable. I cannot thank you all enough. Thank you for catching us. Thank you for being my village.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

discuss amongst yourselves

It's Election Day! I love Election Day. I always vote. Always. I hate the politicking and the contention leading up to today. I hate the facebook posts and commercials and the arguing, but I love that we get to have the discussion. I love that I don't have to agree with my friends or my church or my government. I love that I get to decide what's important to me and my family. My guy may or may not win, but in the end, it's the process that matters. I am so very thankful to have a voice in that process. Please get out there and vote today, even if you're voting for the other guy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

i heart ents

Remember the big tree creature guys from the Lord of the Rings books? No? What kind of geek are you? Really, You should be ashamed. Anyhoo, they were these giant walking, talking trees and I've always loved them. When we moved into our house here in Tennessee on of my favorite things about it was the old growth forests all around. Great big, giant trees. Trees that have been here since before people were. The kind that meet over the top of the road to make a tunnel of green. Something about big, old trees feels like calm and peace. Also, few things are as delightful as speeding down one of those roads in the fall, listening to great music and watching the rainbow leaves fly all around me. It always feels a little like a movie.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

why yes, this is backdated, thanks for asking

So. Every November for several years I have been a really good blogger, for at least that month. Every November I do a daily thankful post, until this November when it was all of the sudden the sixth before I even noticed. Shoot. Then I remembered that Blogger will let you date a post whenever you want to and I decided that it wasn't too late, I could still salvage this year's thankful posts. So plan on several today and then one a day for the rest of the month because this is a thing I can do, a thing I want to do. Today I am thankful for second chances and adjustable date stamps.

Friday, October 19, 2012

so that i may see

What follows is the epic tale of how I obtained a Tennessee drivers' license and of the pitfalls and lessons learned along the way.

It all began on a Sunday afternoon when, while driving home from church, I found myself bathed in sudden and unwelcome blue lights. The very polite officer informed me that one of my brake lights was out and asked to see my license. I handed him my Kansas license. I hadn't gotten around to driving to the DMV 40 minutes out of town yet to switch it out and, since it was valid until May, I wasn't too worried about it. He nicely informed me that since I legally only had 30 days to switch it over I needed to get on that and he wrote some stuff down which everyone knows means it's all official. Thus began my Journey.

Attempt #1- The state of Tennessee requires three proofs of name and four proofs of address. This is stated very clearly on their website so when Ty and I headed out that morning we had a substantial pile of paper with us. I had followed the list meticulously. Ty's paperwork was accepted without question, he looked into the eye machine, got his picture taken and Voila, he was licensed to drive in the Volunteer state. Turns out though, that if you are a woman who took her husband's name when you got married 15 years ago, your birth certificate doesn't count. Even when they have lots and lots of other pieces of paper that state your current legal name. Your out-of-state license doesn't work either. Only a marriage certificate or a passport (both easier to obtain than this license) will do. And so I left empty-handed and a little irritated.

Attempt #2- This time I was ready. The stack of paper was even larger, and though the clerk doubted the veracity of my car title he could not prove that is was anything but authentic. He grudgingly sent me to the eye machine lady. As soon as I looked into that machine, I knew something wasn't right. The whole bottom half of the machine was fuzzy. I told her I was concerned that it wasn't working properly, My concerns were summarily dismissed and I was again turned away, this time with the instruction that I had to get a note from my eye doctor stating that despite what the faulty machine said, I could see properly.

The Eye Doctor- I walked into my very first real eye appointment in about 20 years full of confidence. Full. When I'd had my eyes checked in high school, I'd had perfect vision, absolutely perfect. It was like my very own super power. Over the years I continued to be able to see stuff and so I didn't worry. I had taken lots of DMV eye tests and passed them all. I was confident that the eye doctor would be on my side in this whole debacle. I was again disappointed. Apparently having babies breaks your eyes and this is why I was spending all my time worrying about squint wrinkles. I also found out that I have a super rare  (.03% of women) form of color blindness (apparently blues and purples look just slightly different to me than they do to you) and so now I can't be a fighter pilot. I left with both glasses and contacts, sighing loudly all the way to the car.

Attempt #3- This time I approached the dreaded building with my heart in my throat. What if they turned me away again? What else could go wrong? What is my Kansas license expired and I still didn't have one in Tennessee? How could I look the eye lady in the face after insisting that her machine was broken when it clearly was not? Taking the eye exam again was excruciating. What if I still failed? Then what? It was possibly the most terrifying 2 minutes of my life. When they took my picture, I couldn't quite believe it was happening. Then, when they handed me the finished license, I just stood there, dumbfounded. Surely, this couldn't be all? But it was and once you have a license in Tennessee you just renew online. As long as I pay attention, I won't ever, ever have to go back to the DMV again.

And so the journey ends, the treasure finally acquired, I have lost some things (fighter pilot potential) and gained others (voting rights in my home state) and I find that I am simply grateful to be at the conclusion of this particular path.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

pulling rabbits out of hats since 2004

This afternoon I was kind of like a superhero. For reals. I had 75 minutes. 75 minutes to accomplish a list of things so much longer than would fit. In that 75 minutes I accomplished the following: I got Tommy a new suit, 2 shirts, 2 ties, church socks and shoes, all while saving an additional 30%. I outfitted both boys for soccer including new shoes, new socks, shinguards and balls, all in two different sizes. I also stopped by the party store and procured a giant bunch of balloons (not pre-ordered) for Tommy's birthday tomorrow. I picked up the the piano book and was 5 minutes early to get Tommy from school. Not impressed yet? I did it all with my 5 year old in tow. Ta-da! Seriously. Ta. Da.

Friday, August 31, 2012

the thing about laundry

I have this plan. It's such a great plan. I want to do one load of laundry every day. Simple, no? I put it in when I first get up and then sometime during the day take the ten minutes to put it away. Voila! No more mountains of laundry that require me to download a full movie to the ipad to even consider being able to fold and put it all away. I am usually so good at this sort of plan. I never, NEVER go to bed with anything but a sparkling kitchen, and if I leave the house without beds made and dishes done in the morning something has gone horribly wrong with the routine and I will feel anxious about it all day.  Possibly this is not a 100% healthy attitude towards this whole thing but I figure everyone has their thing and mine is a very productive thing to have, so, raspberry. Anyhoo, it's seems like this whole laundry thing should be so easy to incorporate into my already sort of regimented schedule, and it is, for like two days and then it all falls apart. And now it's Friday and I have an enormous pile of clean laundry on my bedroom floor waiting for me to choose the appropriate movie. Next week for sure. I have a plan. For reals this time. Please feel free to ask me how I'm doing on this, because seriously, the amount of time I am spending thinking about it is just preposterous. Next week I will tell you all about how I have to get up waaay earlier and how hate that but I will do it anyway because I have this thing about laundry and beds and stuff. I also vacuum in straight lines but that's a whole other story.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Lately I'm glad. Glad, glad, glad. I'm so glad about the sunshine. I could lie in a lounge chair soaking it up all day long. It's just so bright and wonderful. I'm glad about the torrential rainstorms we have once or twice a week. They are drenching and loud and filled with flashes of lightning. Perfect, perfect storms. My flowers are so pleased. These long-legged, tow-headed boys that run through the kitchen at top speed whilst yelling at the tops of their lungs all day long have made me so very glad lately. They are clever and funny and sweet and healthy and just delightful. I am so glad to have found teachers and schools that 'get' them, that help them find their greatness. I am so glad that I can bend in unusual ways and lift heavy things and run really far and feel great when I'm finished, what a lucky, lucky thing. I am so glad to live with and build a life with this perfect man for me. We laugh every day. Lots. I am glad to be surrounded by lovely people. There is this neverending stream of delightful people in my life. People who make me laugh, who have my back, who hold my hand, who support my heart.

Glad, glad, glad.

Monday, August 6, 2012

here we go again

this is why we can't have nice things

I am pretty careful with social media. I don't often post about religion or politics on facebook or twitter, very seldom do I even mention these things on my personal blog. They are private and personal things. I am happy to discuss them with you if you can play nice, but I don't really want to argue my position with some guy I only know because he was in my tenth grade geography class. He's not interested in why I believe what I do, he just wants to tell me I'm wrong whilst being condescending and that's a very different sort of discussion. I get it. We don't all agree on stuff. Any stuff. And sometimes, we feel really, really strongly about said stuff. I totally get that too. I'm right there with you. I feel really strongly about some stuff. What I don't understand is exactly when our society lost the ability to behave like adults. When did the fact that someone disagrees with you become a personal insult? When did it become acceptable to screech at each other like harpies on national television? When did being hateful and mean become an acceptable way to express your views? I don't understand what happened to civil discourse. Emphasis on the civil. I am embarrassed and appalled by the behavior of almost every single person who supposedly represents me, irregardless of political party. It has become the standard to be proud of the fact that everyone refuses to compromise on anything. Which means absolutely nothing ever gets done. None of us should be expecting to get our way all the time. That's not how democracy is supposed to work and it's why ours isn't working. We have to compromise to move forward. We have to give each other the benefit of the doubt, to assume that even when we disagree about the best way to do things, that what we all want is to create a safe, healthy, prosperous place full of opportunity for everyone. There is no perfect way forward, and we will stumble, but if we don't learn to work together we will stagnate and that, I would argue, is far, far worse.