Hats and Capes and Striped Socks, Oh My!

Today was the culmination of over two months of “I’m gonna be a…..” and “Do you think we can find a ______ so I can be _______ for Halloween?”

Two months.

And now it’s done.  Tomorrow I will put away my bargain jack o’lanterns and the leftover treats until next year.  (That’s the beauty of the Teal Pumpkin Project and non-food treats–the leftovers keep beautifully!)  The costumes will be washed and hung up or tossed in the dress up bin.

Our Princess knew pretty much from the get go that she wanted to be a witch.  She had a dress that we got last year when she thought she might want to be Bellatrix Lestrange.  Now was all about accessorizing.  Some bright striped socks with WITCH written down the side.  A fun little broom and gloves with long fingernails on them.  She was so excited she got dressed up by 2 pm.  Cooter, on the other hand, has been most indecisive.  This was the year we discovered that we didn’t need to purchase him the one piece whole body suits anymore.  Each one we tried pulled in areas that don’t need pulling.  In the end, it was decided he’d either wear one of his old Star Wars dress up outfits or this one piece Superman top/cape thing or–and this was my favorite–be a Hobbit.  He asked about being one two months ago, and I thought that would be so much fun.  I even found a top for him to wear and planned to cut an old pair of khakis just so, but no.  He was most comfortable wearing a t-shirt and jeans with his Superman top/cape on.

And so it was.

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The magic of hats and capes–so much fun!

There is something so magical about dressing up and becoming someone else for a night, isn’t there?  There must be or else this holiday would have long become nothing but a blip in the history books.  It’s about imaginations and taking on a different form.  I even got into the fun of it this year.

I am so in love with these socks, y'all!  All three of them. *sigh*
I am so in love with these socks, y’all! All three of them. *sigh*

I love Raggedy Ann.  It goes way back.  So when I found a beautiful brand new, unopened Raggedy Ann costume at the GW Boutique, I got it.  I still wasn’t sure if I was going to dress up, but it was too fabulous to leave there.  When I got it home and opened everything up, I was amazed by the detail–the dress and apron, the bloomers, and a hat with red yarn hair.  There were even socks–only, of course, there were THREE and not the proper two because Someone has a sense of humor and knows my frustration with socks who’ve lost their mates.  And so this one came with one what had done just that–lost its mate.  *sigh*

After Mess Cat, Leroy, and Shaker got here to join in the fun, I finally decided that YES, I would dress up.  After all, Halloween is once a year, and a year’s a long time to regret something that would be so easy to make happen.

And so I did.

And I had a blast.

My favorite moments were seeing the very small ones who took in my costume and were in awe and then smiled and waved.  LOVE.  Absolutely precious.  I was like a rock star.  For toddlers.  Not too bad for a GW-on-sale costume.  As for the older ones, they smiled sometimes too.  One even asked, “Are you that girl from Wendy’s?”  Sigh. “No, I’m a doll.”  “Ohhhh, one of those Lalaloopsy’s?”  Umm, no.  Oh well.  Did I mention I rocked it with the younger crowd?

Tonight there were also other special moments.  The little Peter Pan who came up and when I spoke to him, his Mama said, “Oh, he doesn’t talk much.”  Because of compassionate friends who have shared the stories of sweet children who are non-verbal and how they experience Halloween, I was able to talk with him and hopefully ease his parents’ concerns that someone would say “No treat for you until you say the magic words–trick or treat!”  He was so sweet, and his parents deserve an extra hug.

I saw families dressed up together.  The whole Incredible family stopped by.  A barista stopped by who couldn’t have been more than eight.  I LOVED her clever costume.  She said it was her own idea.  There were more than a few folks with those scary skeletal masks paired with a cute costume.  Two young boys wore those really scary masks and walked around slowly, saying nothing.  That was a bit eerie until I heard the voice of a young boy say, “Trick or treat! Happy Halloween!”

No.  All is not as it seems on Halloween.

This guy was a little--okay, a lot--scary until he reached in his basket and offered some treats.
This guy was a little–okay, a lot–scary until he reached in his basket and offered some treats.

As I wrapped up the night and was about to turn off my porch light, a few more young people came.  They were older, and I was happy to see them.  Earlier today at the pumpkin patch a father stood with three children, an older teen and two who were young teens.  They were all about the costumes and pictures and the fun and I wondered if this was their first experience ever with something like this.  I often think about that and wonder if that is the case when a teenager or even young adult comes up on my porch with a jovial, “Trick or Treat!”  Is it that they didn’t get to do this when they were young?  Or are they, like I was this year, enchanted by the magic and the mystery and the fun and just really need to find that inner child for a night?

Either way, treat it is.

My last two visitors were anywhere from 16 to 18. They had on jeans and t-shirts and tiny little witch hats on their heads.  “Could we have just one piece of candy?” one asked, almost apologetically.  The other shared, “I’m sorry we are so late.  We were at the house, giving out candy, and so we didn’t have time for a costume or anything, we’re just out here like this.”

Oh bless.  I think they were adorable.  And they looked like young people cloaked in kindness to me.

And since I didn’t have any candy to share, I gave them a slap bracelet AND a wall ninja.  Because I was really impressed.  (And I felt bad that I didn’t have the one thing they had asked for.)

Tonight I’m thankful for all the little faces I got to see and meet tonight.  Staying home on Halloween and handing out goodies is my favorite part of the whole night. I’m glad that I went ahead and broke my costume in this year.  Aub says Halloween is the only time I should wear it, but it was really comfortable, and I felt pretty awesome in it, and a year’s a long, long time to wait, don’t you think?

Love and magical wishes to all.

the treacherous trek and what lies beyond

some of the most beautifully breathtaking moments in this life
can only be found after a long hike, tiring and full of
rough climbs and treks through treacherous territory
and many times of questioning one’s own sanity

so pack well, invite someone along
who feeds your soul and fills the world
and your path with light
because not going, not seeking–
that’s never an option
for those who truly want to live

your story isn’t over
rest if you must
but then keep going
up the path
and one day the view will make it all worth it

“Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña, LIC Sierras de Santo Domingo y Caballera, Aniés, Huesca, España, 2015-01-06, DD 08-09 PAN” by Diego Delso. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Sunset view of the Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña (Hermitage of the Virgin of the Rock), province of Huesca, Spain. The village of Aniés is seen on the left. The oldest parts of the sanctuary date to Roman times, while much was built in the 13th Century. The hermitage is only accessible on foot, via a steep path in the forest and through caves in the mountain.”–The fact that this is known because folks had to make that long and treacherous trek is a beautiful thing to me.  That they wanted to gives me hope.

Living Art and the Day We Had

Today was a day of all the things.

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It actually started last night.  As I sat on the bleachers watching my oldest swim for the last night before the bubble goes up over the pool for the winter, I got a notification on my phone.  The Auvi-Q, our epinephrine auto-injector that could potentially save the life of my child with food allergies, was recalled.  At first only certain lot numbers, and then the word came down–ALL.

For a few moments, I could not breathe.  The leftovers from her meal that she’d barely touched at the restaurant before swim practice were waiting for her after practice.  Everything there was supposedly safe, but now–without our safety net–I was suddenly ill at the thought of letting her eat it.

I called the pharmacy and found out they were not even aware yet.  But the pharmacist was compassionate and took time to look it up on-line and even offered to call our allergist for a prescription for the Epi-pen first thing this morning.

It was the best we could do.

And so it had to be.

Last night was filled with anxiety, fearing all the what ifs, without that safety net.  All of the food in my house–and I am a very careful shopper–suddenly seemed risky.

But we finally got everyone settled and in the bed, and this morning was a new day.  I called the allergist myself and was assured they were on it.  I started to breathe a little easier.

Then our Princess said she didn’t feel very good.  Sure enough, she has run a low-grade fever most of the day.  She just had some sort of weird allergy-related weekend virus two weeks ago.  And here it is, it would seem, back for another visit.

By midday, Cooter was also down for the count with a bad headache that caused stomach problems or vice versa.  In the middle of it, it hardly mattered.  I can get debilitating headaches from time to time, and it broke my heart to see my baby hurting like that.  He spent most of the hours between 3 and 8 sleeping it off, bless him.

In the midst of all of this, our Princess’ best bud, a sweet girl who moved into the neighborhood over the summer, came over with her big blue ball (they all love throwing it around in the cul-de-sac) to see if her friend could play.  When I told her they were both sick, sympathy and compassion was evident in her eyes.  When Miss Sophie heard her voice, she came running to the front door.  Our Princess’ friend J is the pet whisperer.  She promptly sat down on the front porch and started loving on Sophie, who ate it up.  I guess she and her needs had taken a backseat to my sick babies today, bless her.  As J told me about her day and about her favorite dogs of years past, I took a moment and sat down on the floor just inside my front door and listened.  As I sat there looking at her sweet face, this child whom I prayed for–a good friend for our Princess, I felt as though it was a sacred moment.  This young girl was sharing her heart with me.  The joy of having a pet who understood her and the pain of losing her in recent years.  Sweet and funny stories.

I wanted to sit there forever.  That she found me worthy to hear her stories–that put a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.  She is such a love.  She is a beautiful soul, and I’m thankful for her in our lives.

Not long after she left, Cooter’s buddy came by with the oyster crackers his sweet Mama had offered to pick up at the store for us.  They are the one thing Cooter will eat after having a stomach bug, and we were all out.  As I took the bag from him, telling him thank you, I felt something cold.  I looked up, puzzled.  “Oh, there’s chicken salad from Shane’s in there,” he said.  He shrugged and smiled that precious smile of his.  BLESS.  Being thought of and cared for like that–well, it took my breath away, and when it returned, I breathed out much of the weight of the day.  Chicken salad.  Being thought of.  Thank you.

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Later this evening, I was closing up the house.  I had opened up the windows, hoping that the fresh air would help get rid of whatever this “mess” is that keeps getting ahold of my young’uns.  Enough is enough.  It was a lovely day to have the windows open too.  As I went to close the window in my bedroom, I looked out.  The sky was the most delicate blend of pink and yellow and the trees in the back were just gorgeous.  I stopped and actually breathed in and out and gave thanks for the painting before my eyes.  Living art–our Creator is good at that.

Tonight I am thankful for replacement epi-pens and the ability to get them quickly. Not all of the allergy Mamas are so fortunate, and I hold them in my heart and in the Light tonight as I am able to rest a little easier than I did last night.  I give thanks for the most wonderful neighbors that anyone could ask for–surprise visits on the front porch in the quiet of the afternoon and surprise gifts of chicken salad, never mind the text messages checking on us and grocery store acquisitions that make our life easier–so lucky to be doing life with these good folks.  Most of all I give thanks for living art–the trees at the beginning of fall, a sunset through the woods, the look of compassion in a young girl’s eyes, and the shrug and grin of a gift offering young fella.  All beautiful, all life-giving.  I am thankful.  And humbled.  So much more than I deserve.

Grace.  I’m thankful for grace.

Love and grace to all.

The One About My Dog’s Business and An Email from Pinterest

A couple of things that happened today–

Miss Sophie is a picky pooper.  I don’t mean to offend, but there’s just no other way to put it.  She will not go in our yard.  And she is very sensitive about where she will go.  It takes quite a bit of sniffing and turning around and sniffing some more and sometimes, even when you think “YES! Finally!” she turns around and walks away from that very spot that once seemed so perfect.

Some days it takes a really long time.

(Yeah, she’s quirky like the rest of the folks around here.  We’ve decided to find it endearing.)

Some time around the middle of the day, I got an email from Pinterest.  From PINTEREST.  Writing to me.  I just knew it was to congratulate me for pinning all the things, and that although my pins were the most fabulous, I had exceeded the limit of pinning without actually attempting to do/make/create one of them.

Thankfully, no.

It was to let me know that they’d had to delete one of my pins.  It had to do with the creator of the picture not wanting it pinned again and again and again.  It was a recipe for a special blend of essential oils to help with injuries.

Eh. *shrugs* Okay.

I was afraid it was one of the one of a kind crochet patterns I pinned that I am sure I will BEGIN WORKING ON TOMORROW forthwith.

The nice thing was how kind the email was.  Pinterest kept assuring me that it had nothing to do with me or anything I’d done.  It was all about the originator deciding they didn’t want their information out there.  But they wanted me to know in no uncertain terms that I had done NOTHING wrong.

Well, that’s a huge relief.

And it really was.  It was so nice to be assured that while something I did had to be affected, it wasn’t my fault.  And they went to such trouble and used such nice words to make sure I knew that.

These two totally unrelated stories have come together for me tonight to remind me of this–

We all have things–anger, impatience, frustration, sadness, pain, anxiety, fear among others–that needs to come out or we will go mad and become ill.  It just has to.  But instead of letting it fall wherever, we need to be deliberate about who we share it with and how.  All of our woes and worries matter, but we don’t need to let them fester to the point of blowing up and out at folks.  Be particular, find a good friend or trusted family member and share your stuff.  Perhaps sharing with a compassionate soul and getting it out in the open will help.  But if it should happen that you carry it too long, and you blow up at someone, take a lesson from Pinterest.  Tell them kindly it had nothing to do with them.  Apologize. And use kind words.  It does a world of wonders, y’all.

We all have messes and issues and troubles and woes.  May we all be as particular as Miss Sophie and as kind as Pinterest when we become overwhelmed by our own troubles and that stuff starts coming out.

Love to all.

Q-Tips, Art, and How the Little Moments Matter

A couple of weeks ago at Evening Prayer we talked about the little moments.  The little moments of kindness, of opening a door, offering a smile, saying hello, picking up a piece of trash and disposing of it, giving a hug, carrying a sack of groceries for someone, calling a friend–all of these little moments add up to one good story.  Sarah Thebarge compared the idea to pointillism–all those little moments create something beautiful.

So to bring the idea home with our folks there that night, we painted.

Pointillism.

My artist friend recommended we use q-tips.  I love q-tips–so versatile and easy to find at the store.  And I love my artist friend for suggesting them, because I had the paints and the canvas, but I hadn’t been able to find the right sort of brushes.

BINGO.

One of my samples--idea from Pinterest
One of my samples–idea from Pinterest
I enjoyed this one. Just colors all over the place.
I enjoyed this one. Just colors all over the place.
This was Aub's somewhat abstract turtles. One of my favorites of the night.
This was Aub’s somewhat abstract turtles. One of my favorites of the night.

And so we painted.  There were all kinds of wonderful variations on the ones that I showed as examples.  (Hello, Pinterest, you are my friend.)  Not one single person complained or threw their hands up in frustration.  There was good conversation and laughter and I heard more than one person say how much fun it was.

Must have been the q-tips.  They do make a party fun.

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I had bought some paper shapes for the children to paint, if they wanted, or if they finished a canvas and wanted to continue creating.  It was Cooter who came over and asked to paint, sitting in my lap.  He is eight, and I know this won’t last much longer.  Sure, buddy, pull up a q-tip.

I pulled out a paper cutout of a person.  He went to town on it.  Painting with many q-tips and all kinds of colors, I think he had finished three people by the time we left.

And since then?  When I can’t find him during our school days or on the weekends, I can usually go to the back porch and find him painting away.

How many characters can you spot?  There's Harry, Fred and George (see their "sweaters"), He Who Must Not Be Named, and SOOOO many others.
How many characters can you spot? There’s Harry, Fred and George (see their “sweaters”), He Who Must Not Be Named, and SOOOO many others.

You see, he’s working on painting all of the characters from the Harry Potter books. I think he’s up to Book 4.

All the characters, y’all.  Some obscure, some not so much.  But for painting with a q-tip, I think he’s doing quite well.  It’s been funny to me that he has yet to ask to use one of the brushes sitting back there, right there with the paints.

This is a child who doesn’t see himself as an artist or artistic at all.  Yet this project has struck a chord with him.  He enjoys it, and I love that it resets his brain–he comes away from painting with paint all over all the things *sigh*, his hands included, and with a smile on his face and a lift in his spirit.

I love that so much.  Who would’ve thought it?

Best purchase ever.  So much so, that yes, when I get back over to that store, we are picking up more of those.

After all, he has three more books to get through.

I’ve told him that I thought we would string them up across his wall or something to display them.  He’s thinking about putting them in a book.  We really haven’t decided, but whatever we do, I hope they always bring a smile to his face as much as they do now.

May we all find something that brings us so much joy.  And may we do all the little things we can to live a good story and paint a lovely picture.

Love to all.

the memories beckon

there is a hole
where she once was
and one for him too
a hole once filled by their love,
their stories, and their spirits
and oh, those smiles and laughter,
music to my soul

quiet now, empty and hollow
and dark
and I miss them

she misses her Love too
the one who once filled her heart
where the gaping hole is now

most of the time
we go through our days
and we are fine and okay

until we are not

then the tears flow and our hearts
break open,
we cannot speak
so we go to stand in the dark
next to these holes in our hearts

we weep in the darkness,
with our arms wrapped around us tight
trying to hold ourselves together

while others walk by
barely noticing the safety pylons
and rope blocking off this area,
because it’s just not safe
for others
who have never known it
to come close
to this kind of pain

but what if it were only made safe
by the presence of others
the ones who would venture near,
build a fire to keep us warm
and pull up a stump to sit with us
for however long it takes
waiting in the silence for the stories
we need to tell
one.more.time.
and the names we need to say,
to shout,
just so the world won’t forget

because we are so afraid they will,
that they will all forget this precious soul
and that one,
whom we loved and who loved
and made the world a brighter place
before they left, leaving these massive holes
in our lives

sit with me in the dark
please
and with her, the one over there
who misses him
and hold us close
until the stories we share
lift the weight a bit and we can walk again
and please say their names,
etch them on your heart

and tell me your stories
about the ones you loved
I will listen and say their names
and we will call out to the stars
for them to remember the ones
whose lights once shone so brightly

and we’ll walk close as we make our path
back into the light
once again

for a while
until the memories beckon us to them again

By F.A. Mac Donald, Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By F.A. Mac Donald, Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

pink

Pink_Ribbon

Pink
is a lovely color
gentle, like a baby’s breath

it was my girls’ first favorite color
and various shades of it still
bring a light to their eyes

“blush” and “bashful” best described
the color
in that movie that made me cry
it was her “signature” color, after all

and somehow it has become the color
for breast cancer awareness
and I suppose it suits as much as any other
but when it all comes down to it
pink
does
not
cure
cancer

all the pink socks and pens and yogurt cups
I’ve bought in the past with good intentions
did NOTHING
to raise anybody’s awareness
or change anyone’s life
it was just
pink

tomorrow morning
a friend of my Mama and my Aunt
will undergo surgery
for breast cancer
and she won’t be the only one

a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer
every two minutes in this country

that is too many
one is too many

and pink and awareness
are not changing that

I don’t mean to pink ribbon shame
but isn’t it time we do something more?

Isn’t it time we stop going without undergarments
and claiming it raises awareness?
Isn’t it time we stop taking pictures of silly underwires
on dogs and clotheslines
and claiming it’s for the cause?

Isn’t it time we pick up a broom and sweep out the mess
and the misperceptions
and we change it from
breast cancer awareness
to
BREAST CANCER ERADICATION?

please join me in keeping Miss C
and all of the men and women fighting this
monster
in your thoughts
and let’s join them in this fight

stepping in with a hand to hold
a shoulder to lean on
with a toilet brush in one hand
and a casserole dish in the other

and then, when the day is done,
let’s write the ones who make the laws
and who decide on the funding
and let’s demand that we stop saving
body parts
and start saving people

love to all

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A woman I admire and respect, who is a breast cancer survivor and a brilliant advocate for those in this fight, recently shared this article and asked that we contact our Senators and ask them to pass the 21st Century Cures Act. It’s something we can do, y’all. And it’s something that someone who is actually in the fight is asking us to do. The article is here. Thanks for reading.