And Then There was 2020

Is it Tuesday? Or Wednesday? 24th? 26th?
Who would know? The days have all run together in a big, long, heap of a week.
Friday?! Praise Jesus.

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It wasn’t long ago I was wishing for time to slow down.
It wasn’t long ago I was wishing to stay home more.
It wasn’t long ago I bemoaned all the running to and fro.
And lo, it hath happened!

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Yes, we are staying at home, but no I don’t feel like I have any extra time. I am now Mom and school teacher, plus all the usual, and I have been made aware of how very much I love school teachers. God bless you people!

One thing I have figured out though, at the end of a stressful day of teaching, a teacher gets to send the students home to the parents.
What does a home school mom do with them when a stressful day of school is over?
Just switch from Mom-teaching to original “Mooooommm-ing.”

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But we will survive.
And not just survive, but live and thrive and use this time for good.
Who am I if I cannot bring glory to God in everything?

We are prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings on sand.
Charles Spurgeon.

Prior to quarantine, we spent our time…

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Deep in the throes of remodeling.
If you haven’t remodeled any part of your house, just sit still and quietly trust me that it is no picnic. It.never.ends. The end.

We added a room to the back of the house that is now the living room, the old living room was then turned into the dining room and next, we proceeded to rip out the kitchen and move it to the garage while a new kitchen is being installed, all the while, none of these rooms are completely finished, but we live in them all. Wow, that sounds nice and simple written in one long run-on sentence. Divide that into days and weeks and months and it will be about right.

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Oh, and we are also finishing three rooms above the garage.
I thought I would be painting for years. Stiiiiiiiiiiillllllllll not done.

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But once again, there are worse things.
I have all the luxuries, except a dishwasher, and for that inconvenience, I have children. (insert mucho laughter here)
They have always been spoiled with a dishwasher so this is actually very good for all of us. It brings back many memories of washing dishes when I was a kid.
Mom, I’m sorry I made this process so painful for you.

Other things that happened…

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For a boy, having the kitchen in the garage is almost a dream come true. You grab food, back the car out, shoot some hoops, bike a circle around the island for an orange, and then rollerblade right over past the cookie box. Next, you bribe your sister into a round of 4-square, then race her on the scooter, all the while you are still in the garage where Mom liked to send you for her peace of mind, but now she has to be out here with you!

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One little girl turned seven.
Tell me how?
(Here you may insert all the sappy Mom thoughts
about her baby growing up so quickly)
She was almost sick on her birthday and then home from school sick the two days following.

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Madison whipped up some macrons one day.
They had caramel in the middle.
I won’t ever tell how many I ate.

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She made a birthday cake for a fish-loving little boy.
All the fish were chocolate and quite edible.

She has been battling Lyme and a few other autoimmune diseases and hasn’t been baking as much she would like this winter.

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Reagan and her team won 2nd place in their division at Ohio Valley Bible Quizzing.
She worked long and hard for it and now knows 7 chapters in John.

— — — — — —
We took a week and celebrated Spring Break in FL.
Only to come home and be on permanent break from school.

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It was a good week.
The kids love to go feed Aunt Sandy’s neighbor Donkey.

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We played Frisbee at the beach one night, or some of us did and some of us just watched. A lady watching offered to take our photo. Okay, so maybe it was after she watched this mom’s feeble attempts to take a family selfie.

I am enjoying this stage of life. They are all still at home, all able to fend for themselves, and we have so much fun together.

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When you are seven this is called having the world by the tail.

— — — — — —
3-4-20
And in the middle of all of this, Eric and I celebrate 20 years of being married.
The day we got married, 20 years seemed a long, long way off into the future.
I’m not sure how it got here so fast, but it sure didn’t seem like 20 years.

Indeed, I have much to be grateful for.

The Birthday

Once upon a month or more ago, I had a birthday.  Since it was a monumental birthday of sorts, my family decided a celebration was in order. We rented a house in Hocking Hills and had a grand weekend together.

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We hiked a little on Friday and some more on Saturday. Now, don’t imagine some kind of backpack mountain type hiking, no, that is not what I would choose for a birthday. This was fun and easy hiking, just my speed, one where the grandmas and kids could keep up well. In the name of honesty, we were probably pulling the reigns back on the kids most of the time.

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The scenery was so beautiful. There were so many things for boys to climb on, peer over and try out. There were also too many moments for the moms to gasp a little and reach to pull them farther from the edge.

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“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” —Jane Howard

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There was so much to do around the house that the kids stayed busy all the time we were there, which is always a good thing. It was also fun to sit and hash all the things with loud talking and big opinions. And eating too, of course, yes, we ate very well.

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My handcrafted birthday gift from my brother.
It is still sitting here looking at me today. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to use it yet. I don’t want to ruin it but I also wouldn’t mind keeping all of my fingertips attached.

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Yes, it was hot, why do you ask? Every square inch of shade was gobbled up.

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And in the end, I felt like Max!
After each place we went, another group would go back to the house. I decided I might be oldish, but I’m not quitting yet. I hiked them all except the last one. Only the men and two of the boys went to the last place and let me tell you, it felt pretty good to go home and collapse for a siesta.

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Some clowns showed up for a jolly good time to celebrate the birthday girls.

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This was our first weekend to go somewhere and do something like this without Tris. We talked about him often, discussed what he would have been doing, and thought about him all the time. It was bittersweet. I’m glad we are still a family, we still love doing things together, but we’ll always and forever be missing one.

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And at the last minute, when everything was packed up to go home, we thought about the ice cream still in the freezer. Grandpa says you should never wast ice cream, so they all got a spoon and dug in.

Life ebbs and flows, people around you come and go, but family is forever.

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” – Anonymous

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island (MAK-in-aw) sits in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Most of the island is covered with trails, woods, and in them, you will find the limestone Arch Rock formation. Fort Mackinac was built in 1780 on a bluff overlooking the lake and was the site of 2 major battles in the war of 1812. In the 1950’s tourism took over but much of the island has undergone historical preservation including the village and Grand Hotel. The 8.3-mile island is accessible only by plane or boat and bans almost all vehicles with the exception of ambulance and fire. Transportation on the island is primarily by horse and carriage or bicycle.

In August we set off on a little family vacation with the first destination being Mackinac Island. We spent the night by the lake and took a ferry over in the morning. Our ferry crossed under the Mackinac Bridge on the 20-minute ride to the island. We were on the top deck of the ferry and of course that was much loved by Dakota.

The island is beautiful and well worth your time to visit! We all loved our day spent there and would have gladly gone back for the 2nd day of exploring.
There was something intriguing about all the shops, bikes, horses, and carriages in the little village.

If you didn’t want to walk, you could rent a carriage or a bike to get around.

The fort overlooking the village.
All the houses are quaint and beautifully cared for. Most of the houses in the village were for tourist lodging and the locals live up on top of the island.

The Grand Hotel.
We took a ride on one of these to get to the top of the island to do some exploring.

Our trusty guide always knew where to go and what to do next.

Probably the most beautiful spot on the island was all the way through the woods at the Arch Rock. The rock was so unique but the view over the water was amazing.

We spent some time at the fort and learned a lot of new things, most of which I have already forgotten, unlike my husband and children.

From the fort looking down over the village.

We had a small cooler along with snacks and water bottles so we took a little siesta on the lawn. Of course, the 2 that had previously been tired of walking were suddenly filled with energy and wanted to go for a walk around the lawn. I could have sat for a long time and just watched everything happening.

One of our drivers said there are 17 fudge shops on the island. There is only one doctor and he specializes in fudge overdoses. The driver also said if you would rather not buy the overpriced fudge, just stop at each one and have a sample.

We rented bikes to ride around the island. Due to all the horses, there were always road apples and piddles to dodge. We were warned not to step in any “water” because it had not rained for a while and therefore it was a piddle, not a puddle.

It was a beautiful 8.3-mile ride around the island and took us approximately 1.5 hours, probably because I made them stop all the time for another picture. Eventually, I got the hang of using my camera while biking, but I was better off not being close to anyone when I tried that.

The lake was clear and warm. The kids wanted to swim so very badly.

Everywhere you looked, every time you turned around, there was something beautiful.

Hours later we were happy and tired but not quite ready to leave.
Pack up your family and go for a visit to the island sometime.
You will love it.

Quote of the day: “We didn’t really waste (spend) much money today. We just rode the ferry, the carriages, the bikes and walked around.”

Of Spring, Vaction, and Grief

Winter seems to be struggling to allow Spring take over. Like a post I saw, “Winter keeps sticking its head back in the door and yelling, “And one more thing…”
I am not a fan of being cold, but what can I say? “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”  He’s taking it away today and hopefully soon it will start warming, but for now, we are surviving this “Sprinter.”

Winter D

I feel like I’ve been struggling too. Winter blues kind of had/has a grip on me and I can’t seem to shake them. I have a myriad of things that are calling my name but I can’t seem to accomplish any of them. Painting. Sewing. Spring cleaning. << whaaat is that?

Confession: That last one, Spring cleaning, my house doesn’t even know what that is anymore.  It seriously does me no good to clean the entire house from top to bottom. By the time I get done with one end, the other end is hosting eight-legged creatures building new webs. It works better to do one room at a time and stretch it out over the entire year. At least I always have at least one clean room this way. maybe. kinda.
So there ya have it. I don’t Spring clean.

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We attended a few Florida sunsets for Spring Break. It was nice to feel warmth when you stepped out the door. Warm being a relative term while we were there. To the Northerners, it was warm but to the natives, it felt coo-oold.

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Life at the beach has changed. It used to be awful. Little kids crying and rubbing sand in their eyes. Carrying a ton of things in while urging a toddler to keep moving. Digging holes in the sand, carrying water, building a castle only to watch them smash it. Someone usually cried from lack of sleep, someone was cold, someone was hot. Food, food, food to drag along, well that one still remains, but for the most part, going to the beach is a lot easier then it used to be.

We take as little as possible. I unload the vehicle and by the time each kid has something to carry, there is very little left for me. Granted, this time we did have my sister and her little tribe along, but it still went very smoothly and I could tolerate a few hours sitting there. I am not a beach lover in case you wondered.

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The days we weren’t at the beach, this guy spent hours here. Toward the end of the week, the weather cooled considerably, but that didn’t stop him. One morning he was swimming and the air temperature was 59 degrees. The water was pretty warm and he claimed as long as he didn’t get out to jump, he was fine. But he still kept getting out to jump…

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It felt so good to spend time with these two ladies in Florida. Yes, we did all the usual kid-care, meal stuff, and laundry while on vacation, but still, to stay in the same house and spend a week together was just good. I value times like this so much.

It wasn’t that we were all there and he was the only one missing, there were others back at home, but still, we all missed Tristan fiercely that week. He would have loved to hear what all was happening, he would have probably been calling in the morning before we were out of bed and just been a big part of the trip, even from home.  It’s time like these that realize you will spend the rest of your life living with this grief. Yes, it changes, it ebbs and flows with different feels, but it will always be there.

My first choice would have been to live life not knowing what this feels like. Since that is not an option, I am glad to carry this weight, to live with this grief, because feeling this means I was privileged to know and love him. I would not trade the years I spent with him to live without this grief.

Grief-love

Live your life so you will long be remembered with love.

Things I Learned on Vacation

Vacation [vāˈkāSH(ə)n] noun: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.

  • There is no such thing as the word ‘rest’ for the Mom while on vacation.

Everyone still needs all the things they needed before. Everyone still says “mom” and many more times than need be. All we did was leave the house and drive many hours to keep doing most of the things we did here.

  • While on vacation the father of the tribe does more than he is given credit for.

When he gets sick and spends a day in bed and another day recovering, you quickly realize how much weight he pulls.

  • Watching your kids learn about history is fun.

I am not a big history lover like their Father. He could stand in a museum and read for hours. I, on the other hand, get all twitching and itchy after 10 minutes of reading. The kids were highly intrigued with the Titanic and came away with lots of new information.
They were especially interested in this Captian and his story.

  • Cell phone addiction is a serious problem and some people are in need of rehab.

We spent a few days at an indoor water park and the kids loved it. I mainly spent my time people watching and standing in the shallow water keeping an eye on Kennedy.
I knew that people are addicted to their phones, but this took it to a whole new level. Seriously, people could not put their phones away to swim! They had them around their necks in a waterproof case or just carried them in their hand while they swam. (or tried to swim) Some of the parents carried theirs but for the most part, it was the teenagers and a few younger kids.
I overheard a conversation and I assumed it was a mom and her son. She was trying to get him to put his phone in her bag while he went into the water. He had all the attitude in the world as stated that he would not be putting his phone down for anything, not even swimming. As I said, rehab!

  • One little boy can do a lot of damage to some wings.
  • It takes a lotta, lotta food to feed this tribe when you eat out!
  • Little things can create great arguments.
    Like pushing the elevator buttons.
  • When the youngest of the clan calls from the backseat of the van and says she doesn’t feel good … you better MOVE! Now! Enough said on that subject.

  • Although it might not bother me in the least,
    fear of heights is a very real thing for some people.

This fear was much to the amusement of the other person on the lift with her.
We took the tram and then the lift to the top of the mountain. One of the girls had a much harder time than the other one. I’m all like, “Just close your eyes and don’t look around.” I was informed that doesn’t work because your mind is still working.

  • You know Spring has arrived when little flowers appear in little hands.
    (and you can’t resist those eyes.)
  • TN has some wicked pollen and northern people get attacked quite viciously.
  • I should probably not move to an area with a high tourist count. I would have to forever and always be repenting for swearing in traffic.

  • You take yourself (and your brain) along on vacation.

There is nothing like leaving it all behind, forgetting and not thinking about stuff. I sat in the big rocking chair on the back porch of the cabin with a coffee cup and contemplated life for a long time. The good, the bad and the ugly that has come my way.

Life keeps moving, changing, the words of my story keep flowing, page after page. There are pages written that bring laughter, when I can smile and say, “God is good!”

But when the paragraphs of fiery trials are written, what is my response? Do I want to rip that page out of my story and scream “No! Why?” Do I constantly want to grab the pen and reword it to suit me?

I can ask “Why?” all day long, but generally, there is no answer to that question. Instead, I often hear three quiet words from Him, “For My glory!” When the pages with trials are being written, am I looking for ways to bring glory to God in the midst of it or am I fighting, kicking and still asking why?

Am I allowing Him to write my story for His glory?
I cannot change what happened, but I can control my response.
It’s ugly, I don’t like this part of the story, but am I willing to say,
“Use me, for your glory!”

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