And They Said It Wouldn’t Last

Two years ago tonight.

Wow.

April 7, 2013 I sat down to blog with the idea that I wanted to put down in writing all of the stories that I had saved up while my Mama was unconscious in the hospital–all the things I had planned to tell her when she woke up.  Those stories I never had the chance to tell her.

It was my goal to stick with it and write something everyday.  That’s something I’ve heard from more than one published author–practice your craft.  And so I did.

In the beginning I think I saw maybe six months as a goal.  But as that neared, I was hooked and knew I couldn’t stop until I hit a year.  But then that didn’t feel right either.  So when I hit 500 posts, I thought about taking a break, but the stories kept coming, and so I wrote.

And tonight.  Two years.  Of writing every day.

It has changed me.  The way and the how I go about my day, my life.  And oh, the things I have learned!

I take my phone just about everywhere, so I can take a picture of something I might want to share about later.

I’m a better parent.  I listen to my children’s conversations more closely, prepared to glean wisdom from them, because I KNOW they see this world through such a different lens and I want to capture that for myself.

I stay up way too late.  I can write things fairly quickly, but then my OCD kicks in and I edit for an hour (or two) some nights.  And then I can still find things I wish I’d changed.  I’ve become quite the night owl.  Even Miss Sophie gives up on me most nights.

My house is not perfect.  Not that it was before I started writing, but now *sigh* even less so.  Or more so.  #comfortablydisorganized

I’ve learned that I enjoy sharing our stories.

I’ve also learned that poetry is a great love of mine, and my favorites are the ones that I find the title and then write from there.  Unorthodox maybe, but those few words paint a larger picture for me, one that then writes itself.

I have been fortunate to discover that the writing community is a beautiful one.  Writers, both published and unpublished, are encouragers.  They read each other’s work, and because they KNOW the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into some of these stories, they share and encourage and praise.  I love the friends I have gained through writing and blogging.  They are talented and strong and know how to put something out there and shoot straight, and they are beautiful inside and out.

I know how fast one’s heart can sink when getting a rejection letter.  And I know that one of the greatest gifts when one writes is to start a conversation, important conversations.  The kind words in the comments section warm my heart, and when someone takes the time to share something I’ve written, I stop and do a happy dance.  Right there in the kitchen or the living room or wherever I am when I find out.  Happy happy joy joy all over my face and feet.

I’ve learned that I can think about something for days, waiting for all the words to float to the surface of my thoughts before carefully writing it, and all I hear afterward are crickets.  And then the very next day I can write something just off the top of my head in that moment, and it will take off with comments and shares and affirmation that it resonated with folks.  That right there blows my mind.  And makes me laugh to myself.  You never know what will spark a fire.

In the midst of these two years, I’ve given thanks over and over for the one who opens my blog and reads it every morning.  Indeed, there have been some nights that has been my motivation for getting a story written.  I cannot have NOTHING there when the page is opened in the wee hours of the day.  “If you read it, I will write” sort of thing I guess.  But since I love the Reader, it’s a joy to put something there–once I rattle my brain around and something floats to the top.

There is always a story waiting to be told.  I just have to wait for her to present herself.  And sometimes she can be a bit coy.

In these two years, doors have opened for me and some have closed.  Shoot, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  I have spent time sharing stories about my children, our pup, my family, homeschooling, food allergies, and life in general.  I’ve even been known to step up on my soap box from *ahem* time to time.

Thank you for reading.  Whether it’s been once or 730 times, thank you.

Back when they had the suppers at the park on Sunday evenings for folks who could use a good meal and community, we took coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.  Folks who came up to quench their thirst (or sweet tooth, we had marshmallows too) would sometimes say, “Thank you for being here.”

I’d look back at those sweet faces, etched by their journey and the elements, and say, “Thank you for being here.  I’d look pretty silly standing out here with tea and coffee and hot chocolate and no one to drink it.”

And so, thank YOU for being here.  For reading.  For commenting.  For sharing.  For taking time out of your busy days to spend a few minutes sharing this journey with me.  A story isn’t a story until it is read by another.

I don’t know what the next two years or one year or two weeks or even tomorrow will hold, but I do know that I am a better person for sharing my stories.  My joyful friend is a wonderful scrapbooker–she has done a beautiful job of recording her family’s stories that way.  It was a fun hobby for me for a while, but I just couldn’t stick with it.  I guess this is my version of scrapbooking, telling our stories so my children will have them to look back on one day.

To know where we come from, where we’ve been, and where I hope they will go.

Happy two years, y’all!  It ain’t a party unless we’re all here together.

Love to all.

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Counting Syllables

Yesterday we went on a Family Adventure to celebrate the light that is our Princess.  She is about to enter the double digits, and that is worth a special day of happy happy joy joy just for her.

I was eager and excited to make it happen.  And thrilled to plan the surprise.

But when it comes down to leaving home and being okay with it, sometimes I struggle just a little bit.

This coming from the girl who once packed up and moved away to Japan with the Fella and my Aub.

I don’t know if this struggle is in part due to the grief cycle or if it’s just my genetics coming out in me big time.

But leaving home can bring me a little stress.

The day was totally worth working through it though, and then…..we got back in the vehicle and prepared to head home.

Thank goodness the Fella was driving.

Bless him. I’m not a good passenger.  Apparently I have turned into my Mama with my driver’s side brakes and gasps for sound effects that make a trip really fun.

Yeah.  Bless his heart.

Because this happened.  And Anxiety Girl climbed in the vehicle and sat all buckled right there in the front seat with me.

On the way home from Atlanta.  The interstate became a parking lot.

On the way home from Atlanta. The interstate became a parking lot.

That right there.  Parking lots on the interstate.  People merging.  Without turn signals or advance warning.  Brake lights for miles.  A big reason I don’t like leaving home.  Things like that.  And then Anxiety Girl starts thinking about Miss Sophie at the house and worrying about her and what if we had an accident and what would happen and…..

I decided to try to work through some of the stress by counting…..

syllables.

And so this was my haiku for our trip home last night.

ambulance lights pass
all I think is don’t let that
be us, please slow down
This was when the parking lot turned into “stop and go and stop and go fast, wait, no, stop” traffic.
Poor Fella.
But working on the haiku did help, and I’m sure he was relieved that I wasn’t co-driving for those few minutes.
Tonight I’m thankful for adventures (more on that later), and for a little girl who will wake up tomorrow as a pre-teen (!!!!!), and for a mischievous little guy who just came in to say goodnight and said, after he found out his sister is already in the bed, “Maybe I need to go bother her for the last time that’s she still nine.”  Oh me.  I am grateful for the Fella who is willing to drive any distance to make adventures happen and bring joy to his family.  Most of all, I give thanks for a safe journey there and back with all my people from oldest to youngest tucked in close beside me.  Except for Anxiety Girl.  She really wasn’t invited.  I wish her people would talk to her about not just honing in on other folks’ adventures.
Wishing you all a traffic-free day for adventures.
Love to all.

Comfort in a Cup

We have a few traditions when it comes to birthdays in our family.

First of all, we celebrate for more than a day–we have birthday weeks and sometimes happenings for our birthday month.  It’s all about the celebrating the lives of those we hold near and dear.

You get to pick what kind of cake (or pie or big cookie or whatever) you want for your birthday.  I spent years asking my Mama for a red velvet cake.  Only it was a brown velvet because she wouldn’t use all that red dye.  I think there was a study or something…..anyway, never mind the color, it was delicious.  For years she made me that.  In more recent years, I chose a Texas sheet cake.  Ooey, gooey chocolate goodness.  My mouth is watering as I type.

The birthday supper is a big deal.  The honoree gets to choose anything he or she wants.  And if you’re lucky enough to have your birthday on a weekend, you get to choose two meals.

And so it was for my girl.  She came home from college the day after her birthday, so we celebrated all of Saturday.  I knew she wanted Mexican food, so I had that planned for supper.  But for her birthday lunch, she asked for something I haven’t made in years.  Something my Mama used to make, and my new 19-year-old grew to love it sitting around the table with Mama and Daddy and whoever else happened to be at their house.  Easily among the best comfort foods ever.  The smell of it cooking.  I mean, y’all.  For real.  I was in memory heaven.

Mama was a good steward of what was in her pantry and refrigerator.  She rarely threw anything out.  Over the years she learned great ways to recycle leftovers in a new dish.  Her way of using leftover mashed potatoes might just be her most creative and best tasting effort of all times.

Baloney cups.

Pan number one of baloney cups....oh the smell of them cooking.....

Pan number one of baloney cups….oh the smell of them cooking…..

I grew up on bologna sandwiches.  I can remember being in my bed, waiting for sleep to come, and singing the O-S-C-A-R  M-A-Y-E-R song.  We loved our B-O-L-O-G-N-A.  I loved taking the red rind off and then making sure I had gotten every bit of goodness off it before throwing it away.  Delicious.

When Mama had leftover mashed potatoes to use, she used to pull out her biscuit baking pan and lay bologna slices out on it.  She’d put a scoop of mashed potatoes on top, and add a slice of cheese.  She put it in a hot oven to broil, and voila’ the house smelled amazing, and our taste buds were in for such a treat!  She served it with some fruit and we had a meal.

One of our favorites, though we didn’t get it very often.

I was surprised when my baby girl asked for this for her birthday.  Surprised and delighted.

Pan #2--who decided that 11 slices makes a pack?  Interesting choice, don't you think?  I mean a dozen or a baker's dozen, but 11?  Is that an Oscar's dozen?  :)

Pan #2–who decided that 11 slices makes a pack? Interesting choice, don’t you think? I mean a dozen or a baker’s dozen, but 11? Is that an Oscar’s dozen? 🙂

It was a special treat for all.  The Fella loved it and had memories of when we made this years ago.  I don’t think the littles had ever had it, and they were intrigued and not a bit shy about digging in.  (Suffice to say we went through a whole pack of bologna for the just the four of them.)

The way the house smelled took me back to a safe and happy place, and for a little bit I was home again and my parents were close, and oh–I think I might have gotten the greatest nourishment from those baloney cups, and I never took a bite–my soul was fed and my heart was full.

The only problem is I made the mashed potatoes from scratch.  And only used about half of them.  So now, I have leftover mashed potatoes…..and if a Mama has leftover mashed potatoes, chances are, she’s going to need some baloney to go with it.

 

Love and the comforts of home to all.

The Comfort When Things Get Wonky

Today we were on our new “fall” schedule in earnest.  I use the term “fall” loosely because there’s nothing remotely related to fall in August in Georgia. (97 degrees people.) Except for the fact that all of the schools have started.  There is that.

Today was “divide and conquer” day.  As in, if the Fella were deployed, I’d need a clone to get it all done.  But he’s not, so we each took a little and headed out in opposite directions.  We didn’t even all eat together tonight.  That is important to us, so it’s rare for us not to eat supper together.  Very different.  Very hard to wrap my feelings around it.  I like to be where my children are, a spectator and cheerleader when possible and appropriate, a quiet support when not.  So today was…..

different.  Have I mentioned that already?

The Fella and Cooter went to eat (because of our hectic schedules on Monday, it is unofficially our “pickup supper” night).  Then they headed to swim lessons.  Since our Princess made the swim team last month, Cooter wants to try his best and see where he lands (or swims–ha).  He will take classes for this lesson period, and we’ll let him decide if he wants to continue after.  This is all him–we have no pressure or expectations.

After stuffing the Princess with yogurt and having her grab a couple of healthy snacks and water for the car, she and I headed to her dance and gymnastics classes.  She loves it there.  And we love the people there too.  It’s a great experience for her.  I used to wonder at parents who over-scheduled their children.  Now my girl is in dance, gymnastics and swim team.  Ahem.  Be careful what you judge, my friend–yeah, you just never know.  I’m hoping that, since we are at home for school during the days and have little to no other commitments right now, this will be a stress free, really great year for us all.

Check with me again in May.

Yeah.  I’ll let you know.

After her classes were over, we did a run-in at the grocery store–I was out of Granny Smith apples, and that’s my usual bednight snack, so we HAD to stop for those.  Then we did our drive thru routine (minus food for the boys) and headed home.

All out of order.  Feeling rather wonky at how different it all was today–and will be for a few weeks.

And then we got home.  Cooter came and met us and our grocery bags and supper bags and dance bags at the door.

“Hey!”  Oh that toothless grin.  (He lost another yesterday, just came up and handed it to me with a smile and a hug and then ran off to play.  Bless him.) I will never tire of it.  “Guess whose group I’m in at swimming?”

“Who?” our Princess asked quickly, as she dropped her bags.  (I had the apples, thank goodness.)

He told us the name of the male instructor our Princess  had this summer.  He teaches the students at the other end of the pool.  This is a huge deal, y’all.

“What?!” she squealed, hugging her brother.  “That is awesome!”

The light in that boy’s eyes.  Oh me.  He was so happy.  And to have his sister celebrate with him…..good stuff right there.  The best.

As we moved to the kitchen and our Princess pulled out her supper and began eating, Cooter said, “Sooo, how was dance?  Who was there?  Did you have fun?”

I was putting things away in the kitchen with my back to him, but it straight tickled me.  To hear him asking his sister these questions, it was like hearing an echo from the past.  The questions I’ve asked over and over through the years.  They are listening, y’all, never doubt.  More than we know.

After baths and things started settling down, Cooter came in and called his big sister away at college.  He wanted to tell her too.   I could hear her excitement three feet away from the phone.  Sharing the joy.  I love it.

Tonight I am thankful that even when things get all wonky and out of sorts and far away from my comfort zone, there are things that stay the same and remind me how wonderful family is.

hugs and high fives between brothers and sisters

compassionate, tender hearts

voices squealing in excitement

caring questions of genuine interest

giggles and dreams shared

That’s the really good stuff in life.  The stuff that makes heading back out there into the unknown just a little easier.

Here’s to comfort when things get wonky.  May you all have a bit of that right when you need it most.

Love to all.

 

 

A Night to Celebrate!

Original Artwork by my young'un

Original Artwork by my young’un

Tonight this is how I feel!

Today the weather has been beautiful.  Here it is the first day of summer and I must say, June, you are behaving yourself just fine.  The breeze, the sun, the clouds, the less than normal temperature.  GORGEOUS.  Today I was treated to some unexpected visits with people I love–the crew and I made an impromptu visit to my Aunt’s, where, in the shade of the pecan trees, the littles played on the swings and Aub, Aunt, and I laughed and talked about a little bit of this and a whole lot of that.  As the breeze drifted through the leaves I watched the pattern of the sunlight filtering through the trees change and move.  Ahh, said my soul, I’ll take a double helping of this today.  And everyday.  Please.

I also ran into my sister at the doctor’s office complex where we were all well but just taking care of prevention business with different doctors.  She is a beautiful sight to see and her smile brightened my day.  Our time together doesn’t come often enough, so this was a real gift–the hug I had needed but not expected.  Later this evening I had a visit full of laughs when I ran into some of my favorite folks at my favorite coffeehouse.  I am so thankful that all of these people were interruptible and had time for visiting, laughing, and hugs.

Add into the equation our planned visit with some dear friends who are moving soon.  We celebrated with a trip to the pizza place.  Yes, that one.  But both dads were in charge of the Game Room tonight, so one more reason to be happy.  After we all got home the party continued as the children played between our yard and theirs, and my neighbor friend and I played “who’s older and had it harder growing up” game.  Ha.  His wife said we both sounded like a couple of old people.  Ahem.  Well, if the shoe fits…..

So yes, a good, good day.

But there’s more.

THIS IS MY ONE HUNDREDTH POST!!!!!

Yessiree, I am beyond happy happy happy.  When I started back writing again in April, I set a goal to write something each day.   I  guess I didn’t think I would really do it, because I couldn’t believe it last night when the site said 99 posts published. Wow.  I am doing this.  I have surprised myself.  It’s not just a dream anymore, I am writing.  Whoo hoo!  My soul is soaring, and I am overjoyed.

So tonight is about laughter and stories and you.  If it weren’t for you, would I still write?  I hope so.  But the encouragement you give me, the times you comment on what resonates with you and what doesn’t, that makes a world of difference.  The times I see you out and about, and you say “Hey Girl” or “That thing last night?  I heard that!”–those times give me the motivation to continue on.  And for the special ones who say they usually start their mornings with their cup of coffee or tea and this blog–well, I am humbled and I thank you.  When I’ve thought, well, missing just this once won’t matter, I thought of you and I got it written and I was glad I did.  Thank you for the support and motivation.  Love you. You know who you are.

Thank you also for sharing your stories with me.  I love that you do that.  My Daddy could tell great stories, but I remember so many sunny summer afternoons, sitting on my Granny’s couch listening to Granny tell Daddy stories.  Daddy knew how to listen too, and I’m working on being as good as he was.  Mama was also a good listener.  Family lore has it a wrong number called in the middle of the night, said she was sorry, hung up, and then called back to tell Mama her life story.  For over an hour.  And Mama listened.  So please, I love hearing your stories.  Your dreams.  Your joys and your sorrows.  Thank you for sharing them.  I look forward to hearing more.

Before I close tonight, in honor of 100 posts, I thought I’d share with you a few miscellaneous things just for fun.

Facts about me:

I’m the oldest of four–three girls and a boy.  Daddy told me I was named after my Aunt, the baby sister whom he and my Uncle called The Little Terror.  They both thought Tara (a twist on the pronunciation) would be a nice name and agreed the first one to have a girl would name her that.  My cousin was a boy, so here I am.  I don’t know how true this story is, but I like it, and I like it just fine that I’m named after someone so special.

Peaches paid my way through college and during a small portion of my life put food on the table and a roof over my head.  So I’m kind of a peach snob.  Most folks choose to forgive me for that and move on.  I don’t get peaches until after the fourth of July and I prefer to get the ones picked straight from the orchard.  It just is what it is.

I’m backroads and homegrown and a homebody.  I’d rather bake than cook.  I love old things and I have an obsession with blankets, bags, and sweaters.  Mostly either handmade or from the GW Boutique.  I think I may have warmth issues. (I’ve been known to “rescue” handmade blankets from the GW.)  I learned to crochet from my third grade teacher on the playground at recess, and I learned to knit over a year ago from my friend Casey.  I think crocheting is much easier than knitting, and my cousin, who is truly a talented artisan, thinks knitting is easier.  Whatever.  I love her anyway.

The first thing I read in complete sentences was a note my Mama wrote me on pink paper that said, “IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU MAY HAVE A GLASS OF COKE.”  That was no joke.  You didn’t get Coca-Cola very often in my house.  I’ve been reading ever since.  And I’d rather have a book in my hand than on the Kindle, but I’ve read both and been quite happy doing so.

I’ve been to the movies by myself.  It was empowering, and no, I won’t tell you if I ate all the popcorn all by myself.

I love my family, the ones I live with and the ones I don’t.  One of my favorite places on earth is Blackberry Flats, where I grew up.  I love laughing and country music. I grew up on Elvis and the Beatles and John Denver.  We called Willie Nelson “Uncle Willie,” so I thought we might be related.  I also like pop music.  And I think Taylor Swift is pretty much a philosopher–“You don’t know what you don’t know.”  Come on, that’s brilliant truth right there.

I thought about closing out with a video of the song “Celebration” because that’s what I’m doing tonight all by my big girl self, sitting here at the counter with the laptop.  But that would be predictable, wouldn’t it?  And I try never to be predictable if I can help it.  Life’s so much more fun that way.  So I thought I’d close with a video that makes me happy every time I see it.  (Thanks to my brother for this one.) And later tonight or tomorrow?  When you can’t get the song out of your head?  Well, you are very welcome.

You’ve got to keep on keepin’ on…..

Thank you all for coming along on this journey with me!  I can’t wait to see where the next 100 posts will take us.  Love to all.