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Dec 31, 2013

2013 - Some Perspective

- downside up -

I was going to sit down and plan this post out... you know, rehearse and edit a smidge before I deemed it ready to go... but it's drawing close to the time we trek down the road to our friends/neighbors to snack and play and struggle to stay up until midnight... so there is just this.

I have been away from this space for some time now.  I haven't even been reading the blogs I "follow"... but in the meantime, a lot has happened - some externally, some internally.  I'll attempt to sum up here.

In 2013, I let go of...
a fear of not trying hard enough.  At least in some respects.  I think I had an idea that it wasn't right to give up on a job, that I needed to know what the next step would be before I could move on.  But... I quit.  I allowed myself to think I had given it all I had and still wasn't happy with it. And, thanks to a slew of gracious and good-natured family and friends, I did not become homeless and I didn't starve.  Odd jobs popped up left and right, which lead into a nannying stint for two months, which brings us to...

I learned... (bullets behoove us here)
  • not to trust a toddler when they say they're potty-trained "enough" to use the toilet on their own
  • how to walk away when a child is crying instead of napping (I'm not evil... I just learned the hard way the fine line between actual need and manipulation)
  • that the job search process is grueling, and long, and ridiculous, and long... and I had it good
  • toddlers say the funniest things
  • I really do like the healthcare field
  • that I have the most peace when I let go of the reins... or the handlebars... or the helm; choose your metaphor
  • I really like my sweets mixed with spices - chai, for example, or salt with chocolate... or chilies with chocolate
  • to be more comfortable with "30"... and with myself

I loved...
  • the appreciation of little people.  I was the bearer of food and hilarity and comfort, and I was appreciated for it.  Such a simple exchange, and overall, a fun one
  • seeing my family come together in hard times
  • renewing my love for reading
  • being more aware of what matters most
  • witnessing the love of friends getting married
  • new connections and friends

I'm looking forward to a new calendar year, bringing with me the perspectives and experience gained thus far.

Best wishes to you all for a wonderful 2014.

Apr 21, 2013

Thoughts | Pauses We Don't Choose & Saying Goodbye

{california, may 2012}

It's been awhile since I've written in this space.  I wanted these thoughts to percolate and permeate and penetrate before I shared them... I also wanted them to be just right.  However, if we hold off doing/saying/being things until they're perfect, we'll never do/say/be.  I need to remember this more.  

Hopefully the following lines will help you understand why I chose to "hole up" for a while... there are some "pauses" in life that we don't choose, but they can be altogether good for the soul... thanks for your patience.

The Process of Saying Goodbye

Is an end a pinpoint?  A period to finish a sentence?  Or it is something longer - like the grand finale at the fireworks show, or the sun setting so slow it seems to be moving through a substance much more viscous than the backdrop of the air we breathe?

Four years ago this past 7th of April, we started to say goodbye.  Her unexpected death would take a little piece of him too, for though he was already showing signs of dementia, he knew she was gone... her absence in that old farmhouse practically shouted.  Even his mostly-deaf ears could hear.  Sixty-one years with someone... a part of you has to die too... how could it not?  So many memories that, even if he forgot some, which he was apt to do at 87, there'd always be something there to remember about her.

We kept him at home for the next seven months.  He cried less for her and more for the things he was losing.  He said goodbye to the freedom of driving, to being able to walk to the cow-yard out back, read the headlines of the newspaper, to being able to walk around the house without help... everyday things we take for granted - and thus, we said goodbye to some of the familiar things we knew about him - the way he talked to his cows, his trips to Pennsylvania, talking about football and the news...

Then pneumonia came to visit and he went to the hospital and stayed.  And stayed and stayed.  We said goodbye to him walking altogether, and slowly, very slowly along the way, to him recognizing us on each visit.  He got transferred to a nursing home and would be there for over three years.  Along the way, we grew to be familiar with less and less communication: it was a good day when he'd light up upon seeing you walk in the room, when he'd say "good!" when he got his beloved Tootsie Pops, or he pushed back with those still-active farmer muscles when you'd exercise his arms/dance them around.

Then, those last few weeks this March, we said goodbye to much communication at all - more pneumonia took away phrases and "stories" and left raspy sounds of pain and confusion.  He could still squeeze your hand, but most days was too tired to even get to the chocolate part of the Tootsie Pop - highly abnormal.  He was transferred back and forth from the hospital to the nursing home several times that last week, and we knew that time of a final goodbye could be coming soon.  One month ago tomorrow, on a Friday night, my brother and his wife met my mom and I at the nursing home.  When we left, B said, "Sleep good buddy".  I didn't physically say goodbye.  No one did.  But we wore that heavy thought as we drove home that night because the possibility was so real. 

When the call came shortly after we arrived home, it was still surprising.  There were tears - some sad, some of relief.  Several days later, when the bugle sounded out taps, there were more tears.  There lie what he left behind - the body of a father, grandfather, uncle, farmer, soldier, believer... and Tootsie Pop aficionado.  Witnessing and being involved in the long slow decline had not completely prepared me for that moment, but I also recognized that the process of saying goodbye would still continue - that it didn't end when I placed the rose on the casket and said, "goodbye buddy" - it's still happening now.  When, on Sundays, I think about my week and when I need to be at the nursing home and realize I won't be going...  When I walk into the farmhouse and am just greeted by a shy little cat...  When I hold my cousin's new baby, a namesake to my grandfather and late uncle...

No matter how quickly or slowly someone leaves us, the process of saying goodbye is extensive, maybe for our dear sakes.  For processing, for healing, for letting the love percolate and permeate and penetrate.

{Gramps, October 2012}

Mar 1, 2013

5/6ths of a Year to Be Creative!

Is it me or is it strange that it is March already?  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy about it - March feels much closer to being out of the winter woods... but February flew!
Earlier this year, Ellie posted a creative challenge on her wonderful blog.  Not one to turn down a challenge (especially a fun one), I joined in.  Here are the details of the 2013 Creative Pay It Forward:
The first five people to comment on this post will receive a gift from me this calendar year! It will be unexpected and whenever the mood strikes me! Expect something fun and unique! If you comment, you must pay it forward and offer the same on your Facebook status! :)
As an advocate of the handwritten letter, the homemade gift and the postal service in general, I'm pumped!  So!  Who wants presents?!?  Since I am on the receiving end of Ellie's gifting, I am paying it forward to five others!  Come one five, come all!  You need not have a blog, or be a follower of this one, to join in - you can continue the creative love on your Facebook page if you'd like.  Simply leave a comment below that you'd like to take part (and while you're at it, your first pet's name (this has nothing to do with the contest at all, promise)) and I will choose five commenters next Friday morning!  If I don't receive five people, we'll go with it anyways - some creativity is better than none!
And, just think, you have 10 months to make this happen!  So long as they don't speed by like February, that's a loooong time (:

Feb 23, 2013


Hi all!  As you can see, a lot has been changed up in here.  Last fall, I got to wanting to spruce up this space and have some organization to what I was posting about.  It was then that I was introduced to the fine talents of the ladies at Maiedae.  Jenny listened patiently to my thoughts and aspirations for the blog and came up with what you see here.  I am so thankful and so excited!

So welcome to "&".  My friends and family often comment on how I try to do too much... "Hey, let's go do ______, & then we could ______, and then _______... etc etc".  So there's that.  I also like the idea of pairings of things.  Pairing and comparing is how we explore and discover in life, so I decided to direct my focus on, and organize my blog in, this manner.

I'm excited for this new twist and glad you're following along!

Feb 21, 2013

Reflecting on 2012 - Well Into 2013

I wasn't sure whether to go ahead and post this, pretending that I didn't know what date it actually is, or keep it all to myself.  But it's my blog, and I'll do what I wanna... so there.  Or, rather, here you go:

My dear friends Jill and Kate have a November get-together every year, and the past few have had themes.  This year was "Lego my Eggo" - waffles and Lego kits, natch.

Have you seen the Lego figures they sell now?  It's a mystery which one you will get, but all of the "costumes" are pretty outrageous, so you can't lose.  They each come with a "prop" to hold.  Favorites of mine were the Lederhosen Guy (complete with a pretzel!) and the Sleepyhead Guy (with a teddybear).
{Lego people, and a cabin, before and after}

{some waffleage and friends}

Then there was a wooly bear:

{which pooped on me right after this was taken}

And my other brother (not by blood, but by how much he is loved by my family) bought a house with his fiancé, so there was a moving day...

{DylandKate - or, Dylan and Kate}

December brought prepping for the holidays.  This year, this included:

Creating a count-down calendar for my sister-in-law.  My sister and I went in together on supplies and gifts, and created it a la you are my fave so that she could punch through the tissue paper to get a gift each day for 12 days prior to their coming over to our house.  She loved it!

{stages of construction, poorly lit final product on left}

Cookie Day!  The whole family got involved!

{sugary fun}

{near the end, people get tired and strange cookies appear - cannibals and sting rays}

Gifts!  From the ever-clever Dylan and Kate, we received a tea wreath!


And lastly, to end the year, I had my first dog- and house-sitting stint!

{Christmas Maxx and my first Kitchen Aid run!}

So there you have it folks!  I am almost caught up to the present moment (only a month and a half to go!

Annnnddd... I can't figure out why the wreath picture refuses to be centered.  Oh blog.

Feb 14, 2013

Heart Day

{cupcakes for our meeting-folk last night.  note to self: bubble gum "creations" frosting SOUNDS like a good idea, but in reality... your teeth hurt from sweetness}

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
~Charles M. Schulz~
Happy Heart Day y'all!  Enjoy the loves in your life!

Feb 6, 2013

Pep Talk

Hello all.  I am alive.  Simplifying and slowing down has been my goal lately, but I've not been too successful... more on that later.
A dear friend of mine sent this to me recently and it made my day today... so I'm sharing it with you.  Enjoy:

Jan 1, 2013

A Flipping of the Calendar

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man." - Ben Franklin

I love the freshness of a new day, let alone a new year - - looking out over that (hopefully) vast expanse of days, I can't help but have hope.

May this new year find you bettering and bettering in all the right ways. Love to you, friends.