Gathering my thoughts and trying to hold it together

Outside my window:  The roses are taking a little breather. Daylilies have faded. Lavender is in bloom. And my brand new hydrangeas are hanging on—we’ve been diligent at watering.


Listening to: Waiting room noises. Mary Beth is getting a couple of cortisone shots under Xray guidance this afternoon.


Clothing myself in: Capris, a t-shirt, and these fabulous shoes for the third or fourth season.


Thinking and thinking: The upside of stress and how to get good at it. I watched the Ted talk  and now I’m reading the book. Very, very interesting. Maybe even lifechanging.



“Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.... Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.” 

--Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts


Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: It’s summer! Wheee! I’m truly committed to making this a slow summer.  Eileen's Slow Summer Series has some fun inspiration in that regard. 


Creating By Hand:  Making plans to create a quilt for Paddy’s Range Room in the fall. Blue and Orange without being tacky…


 Photo credit: Kristin Foss

Photo credit: Kristin Foss


Learning lessons in: Resilience. Almost from the moment they left, we have been preparing for Michael’s and Kristin’s visit home. It was to be the first time most of us met baby Lilly. My husband and I recognized that as our kids have gotten older, our house is being asked to be used differently. Christian came home to live after graduation while he works on a documentary project. Patrick comes and goes and almost always brings someone with him. And now, Michael brings his wife and babies from across the country to spend a week or two at a time.


To make space for this kind of living, we gutted our basement. Longtime readers will remember that the basement has long been a black hole dumping ground. Not any more. We invested time, treasure, and thought into making the basement a soft place to land and a welcome retreat for little ones and big ones alike.


I loved the project, loved thinking about this touch or that, this detail and that, all to make it work for them.


They arrived in the middle of the night, after flying from California. Even though it was after 1:00, we were up and ready to show them the surprise. I’ll admit, it felt a little like HGTV.


Then, less than 48 hours into the trip, the first child fell ill—wicked, wicked gastrointestinal virus. From that day until they pulled away 10 days later, at least two people would be sick at a time. Really sick.

We didn’t go to the Farmer’s Market

We didn’t go to the pool.

We didn’t go to see Finding Dory.

Dance recitals were missed.

We didn't sew a stitch.

We only played in the sprinkler once.

I held the baby exactly 3 times and two of those she was crying inconsolably.

We did 32 loads of laundry in 5 days.

We didn’t garden together.

We didn’t collaborate creatively on some Internet projects we’ve been dreaming.

My father couldn't come to celebrate Father's Day and meet the baby because we were worried he'd get sick.

We didn’t have a baptism.

My family has learned a lot about disappointment, loss, and grief in the last couple of years. This trip was the carrot we held out to them. “Sure, they’re moving away, but they’ll visit. And we’ll make those visits so special. Let’s make a paper chain to count down the days. Let’s make a list of all the things we’ll do. All the things that matter to you.”

Someone burned that list.

The takeaway? Life is hard. When my bigger kids were little, I did everything in my power to shield them from the hard. I wanted a happy, idyllic childhood for them. Mostly, we succeeded. When there were just a few and when they were young, we could retain enough control that—with a little luck—we mostly kept things happy.

But that’s not very realistic. In hindsight, it’s probably not the best training for real life, either. It’s not such a bad thing to learn when you’re little that all is not going to go your way and some things will be very, very disappointing. I’m trying to see the blessing of the teachable moment we’ve been presented with these later children.

I’m trying really hard to model resilience.

And then, I get in the car, away from where anyone can hear, and call a friend or two and wail a little. I’m so grateful for those two women who have cradled my sad heart and sifted all the chaff and still love me.

Because sometimes, I just get super tired of trying…

Encouraging learning in: The value of long, lazy, unplanned summer days, especially where reading very thick books is concerned. More on that tomorrow.

Keeping house:  Kristin pointed out to me that if we wanted to create a place where a tired young family could rest and retreat, we did well. As miserable as it was, it happened in a beautiful, comfortable place. That’s a blessing

Crafting in the kitchen: As a family, we’ve been working really hard at improved nutrition lately. I’ve made good use of Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app to remind me where I want to emphasize. Dr. Greger’s strategy is altogether vegan. I read his entire book, How Not to Die, in an effort to address some health concerns that have crept up here recently. It’s a super interesting, incredibly well-researched book.

I’m not holding anyone to strict veganism, but I am working towards it for myself. I’m making breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone, including my husband, every day. I’m seeing meat as more of a condiment—an afterthought, really—in veggie-centric world.  Mike has the app, too, and he’s teaching me a thing or too about how to sneak those bean servings in and how it’s possible to be consistent, even while traveling. Packing lunches for him has taken on a life of its own as I play with different “bowl” combinations and do lots and lots of research on some favorite apps and in favorite cookbooks.

To be fit and happy:  Mary Beth says she’s going to run a half marathon at the end of September. So is my friend Nicole. Please let me remind you that I’m sitting in a waiting room while Mary Beth gets the same old foot injury treated again. I’m dubious about her half marathon plans. I thought about registering, too. I really do want to run that far, just to know I did it. But I also wrestle almost daily with the tension that comes with the unpredictability of having this many people under my care and trying to fit into an outside schedule. So, if I registered for that half marathon, I’d worry every time someone got sick and I missed my training day and through the schedule off. Further, I’d worry about what unpredictable thing would happen on race day. Also, I’m not really interested in racing. I want the challenge of the goal for personal reasons, not for the competition. And I want the Tshirt and the sticker for my car. It seems stupid for me to pay $100 and take on all the stress of the unknown just so I can run in a crowd (I dislike running in crowds) and get the shirt and sticker rights.  So, I’m telling you all right now: sometime this fall, I will be fit enough to run 13 miles. When I do that, I plan to buy myself a shirt and magnet for my car to celebrate;-).

Giving thanks: for a beautiful hour at the park with Sarah and Lucy and Kristin and Lilly.

Loving the moments: when everyone is feeling better at last and all the laundry has been washed, dried and put away.

Living the Liturgy: Yeah. It was a whole lot of “Lord, make haste to help me” recently.

Planning for the week ahead: We’re cleaning up around here. I have two boys taking driving tests this week. Nick has a lowkey tournament in Leesburg on Saturday that will likely take me past the Trinity House Café. And maybe I’ll hit the Leesburg Famer’s Market, too. Maybe. I’m kind of hesitant to make a single plan…