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My Mom’s China

27 Dec

This year 2013 has been a very eventful time. Our lives have recently best been explained by the following scripture found in the Old Testament of the bible.
No matter what belief system you embrace, this passage reflects what is on my heart.

Ecclesiastes 3
New International Version (NIV)
A Time for Everything

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

What does this have to do with china?
When going through tough times, it is common to take a look at what is really important in your life.
Cleaning out my china cabinet, I took down my favorite china, Burleigh Blue Calico by Staffordshire. It is made in England and is only available in limited pieces
I inherited an incomplete collection of this china when my mom passed away over twenty years ago.
I have children still at home, pondering this thought I stacked all of the blue china on the counter and carefully washed each piece.
When I was done, I took a deep breath and rearranged the mish mosh of classic pottery plates (also cobalt blue) to accommodate the new additions in the day-to-day dish cabinet.
Was I really ready to incorporate these precious, beautiful hard to replace pieces into our daily lives?
Would I cry or get angry if one was broken?
After a time I have come to realize that the risk is worth the joy of seeing the bright, cobalt calico print on our dining room table. We did have our first and second casualties; dinner plate and teacup.
We are now looking for a stone tumbler, precious broken bits saved in a Ziploc bag are now awaiting their rebirth.
Beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder, whether something or someone retains value when broken has to do with the patience and hopeful scrutiny of the bearer.
I am thankful to have this exquisite reminder of my Mom every time we use these plates, fond memories of times shared together.
As my family and I anticipate the return home of my eldest son and his wife, I look forward to a time of new hope, dreams and future deposits of this memory bank called Life.

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Sigh, No Cherry Pie!

27 Feb

This year the holiday that was bombed…Valentine’s Day. Our family celebrates loving each other on Valentine’s Day by giving simply, things that we should do more often. We don’t need a holiday to tell a loved one that you, do indeed love them! 

After setting down to check for emails, I noticed the Facebook tab was flashing. My son and daughter in law, I always look forward to hearing from them. We are nine hours apart and it is challenging enough to remember what time of day it is on the other side of the world! My son wanted us to sign into Skype, this is a step by step process. The computer I am fortunate enough to be using is over 12 years old! An ongoing chuckle that is constantly being acknowledged by all who hear, is that the computer is held together by the breath of God!

In order to sign into Skype, I must close each and every window, save every file…backup again. Once I have accomplished this, I can click onto the Skype logo on my desktop. Hitting that button is rather like wondering if the 3 year old fireworks you found carefully stored in a box in the bottom of the closet will still catch and spark! Evidently some video driver is going corrupt and I am told it cannot be fixed, as a result sometimes the image is similar to a Brite Lite screen with fuzzy picture behind and bright pixel dots on the screen!

We are in luck today! The breath is strong today and I am thankful to be able to see my son and daughter in law. It has been since June that we saw them last. They came home to get married in a whirlwind leave and then they were gone. I can tell by looking at his face that he has news to share. We had been looking forward to them PCS’ing back to the states. (PCS=change of station/transfer to a different base). Not only had that just been swatted out of the sky, now he was deploying…for the third time.

We listened mostly and tried to keep the conversation going. There is always an awkwardness, when sharing bad news. My youngest son as soon as we signed off, went to his room and sat on his bed. He did not eat lunch, snacks or dinner. He did not want to talk, nor play, nor watch television. After a couple of hours passed, I walked past his room and he was doing school online. That night he tossed and turned, he kept getting up and came out hugging me from the back of the couch. “Mom, I miss my brother! My heart hurts.”

His sister didn’t comment and went about the rest of the day staying busy. Turning thirteen soon, I have noticed that she tends to be more independent. I knew when she wanted to talk, I would be available to listen. She went with my husband to run errands and they came home with beautiful flowers for me to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Brilliantly colored and variantly petaled Primroses that smell sweet like the promise of Spring! While I was making dinner, my daughter came in and started helping me without being asked, prepping food and putting away dishes.

I knew this was her way of demonstrating her love and concern about the talk we had that morning with her big brother. She brought up the disappointment of not having them here for her birthday, games and 4th of July. No camping or finally being able to celebrate a birthday with her big brother after 5 years and worst of all…still, NO Cherry Pie!!!

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Just a Bench…

22 Feb

We were given a cement waiting bench, we put it out by the tire swing so the children waiting for a turn would have a place to sit.
Little did we realize that this bench would come to represent more than just a place to sit.
Before little sister and brother came along, my oldest son and his friends would sit out there and scheme together. One day they talked about how they would create jumps for their BMX bikes. Another day it was used for a napping spot. Countless coats, hats, plates, books and Army men have utilized it.
Our cat likes to sit upon it and watch the goats out in the pasture.
The dog watches whomever sits there and offers to share their sandwich.
I sat at that bench after I lost my dream horse that I had shared the previous 16 years with. After the sun slipped away, the fog slowly crept along the ground and came to swirl around in front of me. I know I sat out there until I could feel the cold penetrate every joint in my body, I guess I needed to feel something, even if it was painful!
Over the years Z Waiting Bench has been well used and appreciated.
Last year someone was just downright mean and took it upon themselves to break the edges off and this exposed the iron rebar running through the rectangle of cement that gives a sitting place.
After thorough interrogation of the vast range of children that were at Z Farm that weekend, we came to the conclusion that the NOBODY Gremlin that causes socks to be lost, dishes to be dirtied and other various household items and farm tools to be misplaced had gotten bored causing mischief in the usual way.
In life I am finding that it is not always possible to find out the truth in all situations, no matter how much it is desired!
Instead of focusing on the havoc that was wreaked, think of the opportunity to recreate beauty from ashes.
There were a few very surprised children when I told them that no longer could we comfortably sit upon Z Waiting Bench.
After being queried by the suspected offending party about this, I calmly stated that safety came first and I was really sorry that one had ruined it for many. Hearing complaints, blames and whines we removed the seat and placed it on the ground.
Well, that’s not fair! Protest after protest from all was heard and acknowledged. I replied “Life is not fair and we just have to make do with what we have. I want you to remember that decisions you make really do affect others, contrary to what society tells you!”
I have two bags of cement, broken pottery and china pieces stored in the garage waiting for the warmth of Spring.
Collecting materials so we can implement plans to create a new and improved cement seat for this bench.
We want to have this done before my daughter in law comes to visit when my eldest son leaves for his next deployment of 9 months.
So many have come to Z Farm, shared, helped, been ministered to and moved on in their lives.
We are continually blessed by longtime family friends who come to visit. Sharing a meal together, we listen as they recall that some of the most pleasant memories of times spent on Z Farm included work, with me as the Sargeant Taskmaster! This resulted in tears, I laughed so hard! They reveled in their stories of youthful antics, mind you they are only in their early 20’s now.
One young man, now in the Marines. Another getting his life together and working steady. Both had fond memories of doing chores, eating well and sitting on Z Waiting Bench, while times passed.
Why not just go out and buy another? What is the point in replacing it? I am not giving into the societal norm throwaway mentality.
You cannot always just “go buy a new one!”
As I think forward to hands and minds joining together in the solution, it will create new memories.
It has been almost five years since my son left home, progressing towards his third deployment and still living abroad.
I cannot explain why it is so important to me, but I need to show that broken things are worth fixing, valuable. Maybe this will help things to seem normal, like before.
He remembers Z Waiting Bench and knows it will be here for him…waiting once again.
waiting bench

Driving the sexy beast…

20 Feb

I saw this comment on my son and daughter in laws’ Facebook page. He posted a photo of his 1985 Mustang. He has invested a lot into that car and not only monetarily, emotionally as well.
Our family jokes that this car will forever be sought out by our local law enforcement. They are constantly seeking to find out when my son will be home on leave. I am sure they would like to just pull him aside and chat him up…right?
After I wrote the blog about driving your car, I had an opportunity to drive your car again. As I searched for a CD, (no I haven’t figured out how to download music into the 2nd cell phone yet. It took me 2 months to program the first one, excuse me if i am not jumping to do it all over again!) I find a CD that just looking at causes a fresh wave of missing you. It is a CD that you recorded for me and you wrote “Mom’s mix, love you MOm” on it. Recalling what prompted the creating of this music, I smile. You were 15 and making it known that you liked to listen to Other music now. I did not necessarily share the love of your genre of music, yet wanted to enjoy time with you. So, we compromised and you put a few songs you liked, then a few songs I liked and so forth.
Currently skipping through the rather loud choices, I settled upon a song called Seize the Day. I listened to that and when I came home, I time warped and expected you to walk out of your bedroom with your jet black hair, eyeliner and skinny jeans.
Now, I can’t get that song out of my head! I looked the lyrics up online and reading them realized why that song was stuck in my head.
I notice that the green light is on your FB this morning and I greet you and send you the lyrics to the song. I am so caught by surprise when you tell me that you were cleaning the house to the same song, it sounds like within the same time frame as when I listened to it.
This may just seem like coincidence, take into account that we live over 12,000 miles apart!
Little reminders in life, no matter how far apart we are in actual mileage , our hearts do not acknowledge this distance!
Enjoy your time in Europe, praying for safety in your next deployment and don’t worry..We will keep your car pristine…for the next leave when you “drive the sexy beast!”
Mayday ahah 246

Next installment of parenthood…

20 Feb

My youngest daughter went to a friends on Sunday nite. She and her friend had fun and took and posted pictures of their antics.
Oh my, I guess I am not ready for my little girl to get the attention that she doesn’t even know is starting to happen already!
I have to state that raising boys is a lot easier than girls. I think i can make this statement as we have 2 boys in the family and 3 if you include my husband!
Since we live and operate a small family farm,whenever one member is gone, the others have to pick up the slack. Or, sometimes Mom just likes the solitude and does all of the chores.
It is amazing that I can get all of the chores done right now, since we are not milking yet in an hour. If I take my time and play with the critters like I usually do, make that 1 1/2 hrs.
When I have many hands, they do not always make light work!
Our two youngest children ages 10 and 12 help out with chores in the evenings during the week. We quite often have our 11-year-old nephew out on Saturday nights and to add to the crew the grandchildren will come out for the weekend as well.
With so many helping hands, one would expect chores to fly. Well, they do breeze by and right off into the spring swirl of wind!
My daughter being the eldest in the group, likes to take charge and of course the others resist, not realizing that resistance is futile.
I have to brag, my children have gained enough life experience on the farm , from expectant animals to watching for illness or injury.
We have had a crazy schedule and while we were rushing to do the chores, amidst a chatter cloud of resentment I sighted a silver thread.
We sat down and had a Mom-children talk. I asked my daughter if she remembered the animal rescue & anti-horse slaughter research she had just completed for school? She gave me a funny look and answered “yes, why”? I laid my proverbial cards right out on the table. I entered into the arena of conversation by informing them that we had our very own rescue horse, Silver. Did they really think that we could find her a better home than she already has? How many animals had been sent to their horrifying deaths and suffering being neglected by owners who carelessly cast them aside when they encountered difficulty in keeping them or they were no longer interested?
Had this 26-year-old mare not been ridden by them and most of their friends? Did she not deserve to be retired with love, respect and small amount of sacrifice financially from our farm to show her honor she had earned?
This dramatically changed the whole attitude of complaint during chore times. Instead of being resentful, the children now take pride in the fact that we have our own “old girl”! Even though our old girl has sought after bloodline in the Arabian breed, so many animals have glutted the market that papered, young, old, pregnant, trained, healthy are trucked to slaughter destined to be put to death for the sake of the almighty dollar.
I overheard all of the kids and some friends added to the mix talking about our various animals and the work involved. My daughter stated, yeah, we have had Silver for quite a long time and we are giving her a good life now! That made my heart soar!
This last month consisted of 2 full weeks of illness from the children, dealing with having a tooth pulled, a goat doeling with a broken leg, testing for school and the flu added to life on Z Farm.
It makes everything worthwhile to hear the children’s laughter, see them outside enjoying the property and animals we have been blessed with.
Why do the eye rolls, sighs and complaints always seem to occur when I am on my last nerve? I think it is part of the divine plan to keep me humble, for I am constantly reminded to partake of the joy of the little things…as much as I dread this next installment of parenthood…I give thanks for the children and their remembering to stop and notice the raindrops capturing the early morning light and glistening like rare gems, or the spicy fragrance of the fresh rainsApple blossoms.

Up at 3 am…

16 Feb

Our grandchildren are spending the weekend with us. We are trying to have them come at least once a month to visit and help on the farm.
We do not have the usual family dynamics. My children range from 29, 22, 12 and 10 years old. My grandchildren are 7 & 11. We also have my nephew age 11 who comes usually every Saturday night to stay over so he can visit and go to church on Sunday with us.
My brother lives in a studio behind us and is developmentally disabled. He has been living with us for almost 10 years and prior to that he had taken to being on the streets when my mom passed away.
Does reading that make you feel busy?
I have realized that there are a lot of families who have full plates, some with life dripping over the sides and some with stuff stuck to the plates!
I was sound asleep when my husband lovingly nudges me awake and says “hon, hon, your grand-daughter wanted you to know she is up puking”. Did she really ask for me? Is it just me or do most guys not deal with bodily fluids? Argh, I slowly creak out of bed and pad my little feet down to the bathroom. Poor little thing is trying to hold her hair back and not get the yuk on her. I rummage around and find her a hair tie, pulling her hair back into it. Next, I wrap a flannel sheet around her, get her a water bottle to rinse her mouth and ask her if she thinks her tummy is done protesting? She shakes her head no, so i hug her and tell her I will come back.
Hmmm, what to do to pass the time? Check my emails! This was probably not the wisest thing to do at 3 in the morning for most, however I am incredibly brave because I continually fight the no sleep minions.
I check mail and then pull up my bloggers page and enter titles into 3 more pages for ideas then go back to her.
She is huddled into the warmth of the flannel and tells me she is ready to go back to bed now. Rinse mouth, make sure jammies are in the clear of the vile vomit, wash face and hands, brush hair and we go to my daughter’s room. I make a bed for her on the floor with a soft comforter and fluffy pillow, flannel blanket, fuzzy blanket, tuck up to the chin and night-nights.
Now that she is seemingly doing better, I should be able to go back to bed. Houston, we have a problem! I am Wide awake!
I log onto Facebook to see if my daughter in law is online, my son and daughter in law are currently living in Germany and there is a 9 hour time difference. I am disappointed, no such luck this early morning.
Well, after reading this you will know how I deal with the insomnia issues! I have a routine when I wake up in the wee hours of the morning; bathroom, check on each child covering them up if needed and praying over each, giving thanks and uplifting them to the Creator. Stoke the fire, get a drink of water and back to bed.
I have been struggling with restlessness for a while now. I finally realized that my brain just does not want to turn off, so now when I wake and sleep is elusive…I pray and then I blog! Usually it is just long enough to type in some new titles and save them. I have found this is a wonderful mental cataloging that assists me with sorting the skeins of thought rolled up in my grey matter!
Well now that it is after 4 am and the fire died out, sigh, I think I will try going back to bed.
Our hardwood floors, though freshly vacuumed are chilly with no fire and I could not find my slippers in the dark!
Thank you for listening.

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A Dragonfly in October..

15 Feb

Lab and dragonfly

When I was reminiscing about this, the weather was cold, dreary, raining like cats and dogs. Our old dog Rowdy was wanting to go out and seeing the downpour hesitating, not wanting to venture forth into the deluge.
As I was calling him to go out with me, I realized that he at almost 11 years is an elderly dog.
This saddens me, he has evolved into such a great family friend, snuggler, protector of all.
When we got him, we had a black Lab named Roly. He was my eldest son’s first dog. We were able to go to the farm where he was born and usually you pick out the puppy, well this puppy chose my son. He was the largest and no one had wanted him because he was so calm. After the littermates excitedly jumped, wagged and licked everyone in sight, he quietly came over and set his muzzle on my son’s shoe. He looked up and then started nuzzling the shoelaces, progressing to normal puppy behavior by chewing the laces.
We went and visited the farm a couple more times and when he was 7 weeks old he went home with us.
That pup became my son’s new best friend, they shared food, toys and he was so insistent that eventually he let him sleep on his bunk!
Over the years, he was loyal and loving. He was a gentle giant at over 100 pounds and did not have to bark aggressively, he was just there and that usually made anyone think twice.
I had to travel out-of-state for a business trip and left my husband in charge of farm and children. At the time I ran a preschool/daycare out of our home and I had someone fill in while I was gone.
We talked by phone every night and at the end of the week, I was ready to come home. I missed my family and farm life.
No one had mentioned that Roly, now 10 years had been laying around more than usual. When I came in the door, Rowdy was there bouncing and carrying his toy. Roly was nowhere in sight, not like him!
I walked over to his bed and he slowly glanced up at me, I could tell he did not feel well.
Shortly after arriving home, I was in the car with Roly traveling the 40 minutes into town to the veterinarian.
After running tests, they determined that Roly had been exposed to Salmon and his body was in toxic shock. He came home on fluids and all kinds of pills to help him battle this sickness. Rowdy received a preventative dose of medicine just in case he was exposed.
Evidently because he was an older dog and given that he had probably been sick for 3-5 days, he was not able to fight.
After two days, the whites of his eyes told me it was time. They were lemon yellow and confirmed that his organs were shutting down.
We lifted him, bed and all into the van of a friend and again drove the 40 minutes into town.
The vet kindly came out to the van and in the last act of love and kindness we ended his fight. He had such a heart that the vet said he would of suffered for days.
I held him as his spirit slipped away his eyes never leaving my face.
We wrapped him in his favorite blanket and left for home.
I was so distraught, I came into the house to change clothes and calm down for a little bit before going back out to where we were going to bury him.
Rowdy kept snuffling me and it seemed he was wondering where his canine companion was.
I must tell you that it was October and an unusually warm day, almost like spring, not fall.
When I met my family and friends at the van, they told me that an incredible thing had happened. After opening the hatch door of the van where Roly was lying, a huge Black Dragonfly had flown out.
They were so surprised that they jumped back and stood in awe, it flew all around the van and circled around each person there. As I came, it had disappeared.
Of course when they told me about this, I started crying again.
“**It is said in some Native American Beliefs that Dragonflies are also held as a symbol of renewal after a time of great hardship.”**

I knew this was his spirit, it had to be and I had missed it!
I pulled myself together and just as we started to lift his massive body out of the van, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
The Black dragonfly was magnificent, after circling up and down my whole body, he landed briefly on my arm.
I was mesmerized by the intricate iridescence traced on his wings and how his head was focused on me.
As suddenly as he appeared, he was gone!
Although I was sad at missing my long time friend, I now was encouraged. I had been blessed at witnessing a very rare sighting of transition, this grew into a spark of hope.
Day after day I continued to search for a glimpse of the Dragonfly again, I wanted to feel in my heart the same joy I was blessed with when it appeared to us in our dark time.
Now, as I realize I my young pup is now dealing with the changes life gives us, I will rejoice that he is with us for hopefully many more years.

I will never forget the Dragonfly in October…

“**Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1604680