Welcomed Home

This afternoon, as I was running short on time and ideas of what to start for our supper as we would be later coming in tonight, I was gifted by the pantry fairies and found beans and tomatoes enough for a pot of chili.

The clean dishes fairy was looking after me too, and the crockpot was all ready to go.

The weather fairies even cooperated, and the weather was chili appropriate tonight.

So it was, we had chili for supper.  Everyone seemed to be happy about that.

Well, except for Cooter.

He’s pretty much a fan of the beige food group and little else.  Pizza, chicken, macaroni and cheese, rice, applesauce…..little outside that group suits him.

When someone brought up that maybe he shouldn’t be so picky, he stated quite emphatically, “I’m not a picky eater.  I am just not as adventurous an eater as most.”

Sigh.  The struggle is real.

Tonight I’m thankful for a pot of chili all ready and waiting on a cool night with the stars hanging bright in the dark sky. I am grateful for the enticing aroma that welcomed us home, and I am most thankful that all of my people were here at home to enjoy it.  Well, okay, that they were all home.

May you all have something wonderful welcoming you home on a cold winter evening.

Love to all.

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What was left after we all (well, except for Cooter) had some chili tonight.  Just enough for a bowl or two tomorrow.  Leftovers–my favorite!

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.

 

 

On Coming Home

We have returned from our Big Trip.

I could call it big trip, small trip, whatever, because it’s the only trip we’ve been on that required an overnight stay in several years.  And we were gone for seven nights.

Seven.

That’s a long time for this homebody.

We encountered mice, ducks, princesses, wookies, Jedi, and all sorts of folks all in the name of fun.

We met cousins and in-laws whom we’d never met in person before.

We ate in restaurants for the very first time and Princess was okay.  She even got to have an ice cream sundae in one, and THAT.  WAS.  HUGE.  For her and her Mama.  Such joy over that.

Of course my two constant companions were along for the trip–Anxiety Girl and Justin Case.  I worried more about my girl, about keeping my children in my line of sight, about not offending friends and family, about preparing enough food, and about Miss Sophie and the kitties back home and how they were behaving for the kind souls taking care of them.  Justin had me overpacking every single day.  We took snacks we never touched and had rain ponchos when it only rained us out the first night.  At one point I was carrying a backpack on my front and my back.  But I was READY.  FOR.  WHATEVER.  CAME.

I found a system that worked for keeping up with my camera, wallet, tickets, and autograph things.  I am proud of that as the whole losing my wallet thing has been a recurrent nightmare for me lately.

I have lots of stories to share over time and lots of things to think about.  We laughed, we cried, we cleaned up accidents on more than one occasion, and we kept on keeping on.  I had my faith restored in my fellow inhabitants of this earth way more than the few times I was disappointed in them.  I tried to take care of me, of all of us, and I said no to things that weren’t within those confines.

There is one moment I keep thinking about.  It’s come to mind today many times as I say goodbye to Haiku week (though I’ve had such a great response–thank y’all, I will likely do that again).  And I think it describes perfectly where my mind, heart, and soul are when it comes to leaving my home.

Last Wednesday, our last day to visit with the Mice, we needed to hop from the magical place to the animal one in the middle of the afternoon.  We got on the monorail and were soon zooming way above the ground.  There was one other family in the same car, and their backs were to us.  They appeared to be an older couple with a grown son who was developmentally delayed.  They were staying at one of the resorts and headed back there on the monorail.  I overheard the son tell his parents quietly with a wistful voice, “Well, our stuff just better be in that room.  Yeah, it sure better be.  All of it.”

I understand, precious one.  I sure do.

Because when I’m away from my comfort zone, I worry about such as that.  The stuff I brought, the things I “need” to get through the trip–they better stay right where they are. I can’t lose them.  My link to home, to the life I left back there, my connection to what was and what will be again–in the NOW I need for it to be there.  And when I’m away from my comfort zone, my anxiety levels rise, so yeah, I worry about all sorts of things–my stuff not being there just one of many.  But it’s about way more than just the stuff–it’s about the connection to the place where I feel the most ME.

I smiled as I heard him utter the words, and I knew I’d come across a kindred spirit.  Bless him.

Because no matter where on earth life might take me zooming across, there is no place like home.  The place where my stuff, and my heart, and those I love will always be.  The place to find ME.

Love to all.

 

Something in the Water

I have a very clear memory of my Daddy, in his jeans and his blue chambray shirt that Mama made him, standing at my Granny’s sink near the door to the back porch.  He has one of her small red solo cups of water in his hands.  He is standing, staring out the back window over the sink, looking out over the cow pastures and the barn and the pasture where our horse was grazing.  He might have been thinking about hunting a tree in the woods come Christmas, or he might have been anticipating the weather and trying to decide what he could accomplish before the storm came up.  Or he might have been just resting his mind and heart for a few minutes.

He takes his cup and leans over the sink, refilling it at the faucet.  He takes a long drink, and the “ahhh” sound comes from him as he swallows.  It is refreshing and it is good.

It was only recently that I figured out why he always went and took a drink of water from Granny’s sink before we left.  Staring out at the place he grew up, he took a long drink of water–water that tasted like home.

The sink and view out the kitchen window--where I refresh my soul.  At Blackberry Flats.

The sink and view out the kitchen window–where I refresh my soul. At Blackberry Flats.

I feel the same way.  It was the last thing I used to do when I visited Mama and Daddy–fill my cup with “Blackberry Flats juice,” as Mama called it.  Well water, straight from the kitchen sink.  Nothing better.  I too stood, looking out the window over the sink.  Watching the littles playing on the swings, remembering our swingset Daddy had put up in the back for us when we were little.  He even brought home a slide from the landfill and worked to attach it to the playset and built a ladder for it.  I looked at the silver maple that has grown so much over the years, remembering sitting in a lawn chair out there, the summer after I graduated from college, moving the chair so I’d stay in the shade as the sun travelled across the sky.

There’s something healing about water from home, something that touches my soul.  And my Daddy’s too.  While he was at Emory University Hospital for those weeks while they worked out his diagnosis as he fought the Giant, whenever we went to see him, we took up washed out milk jugs filled with Blackberry Flats “juice.”  Daddy didn’t like the water up there, and I can understand why.  We even met my aunt and uncle once as they were passing through on their way up there to see Daddy, and  we handed off a couple of gallons.

My people are serious about their water.

And there’s nothing like cold well water.

Tonight I am thankful for the comforts of home. And the memories.  They refresh my soul and fill me up with good things–the strength and will to carry on and keep on lovin’ folks.  Just like Mama and Daddy did.

There’s something in the water y’all.

And it’s all good.

Going Home Again

You can, you know?

Go home again.

I know because today I did.

I went back to the place I loved when I was growing up.  Wesleyan College.  When my Mama was in school there, finishing a degree that I had unintentionally and in utero interrupted, I visited and fell in love with it.  Mama spent two years in classes there to change majors and finish a degree she had only been two quarters shy of twelve years earlier.

She took us to campus when we were out of school and she had classes.  I sat in the solid wood desks in Taylor Hall and wrote stories while she learned Psychology.  I had no clue that six years later I’d be sitting in those same desks, fascinated by the same course of study Mama loved.

She and Daddy took us to plays and concerts and performances by the Naiads (the synchronized swimmers) on a regular basis.

It already felt like home before I set foot on the campus in fall of ’86 as a full-fledged Wesleyanne.

And so it has ever since.

My four years there gave me memories and friends I’ll treasure forever.

I married there twelve years after graduation.  Right there around the same fountain I was thrown in on my birthday every year.  ‘Cause that’s what we do–throw you in the fountain on your birthday and when you get engaged.  It’s called love, people.  And tradition.

And about that.  The tradition continues.  Aub began her Wesleyan journey officially on August 17, 2013.  What an amazing journey hers has been.  Despite a hard semester emotionally, she did well academically. She too has made friends whom she will love forever.  And she made another tradition a huge part of her life.

118 years.....wow.

118 years…..wow.

STUNT.

The Pirate STUNT committee--y'all did a great job!

The Pirate STUNT committee–y’all did a great job!

In a nutshell, each class elects a committee who writes and directs their class’ thirty minute comedy-musical.  Aub was elected to be on her class, the Pirates, committee.  Since last fall, she and four other wonderful women from her class wrote and edited and dreamed and spent many hours creating their class STUNT.  Three weeks ago they read the STUNT to their class for the very first time.  Yes, it’s been kept a secret that long.  And until three nights ago, the other classes had no clue what the other STUNTS were about.  It all culminated in tonight.  STUNT night.  The big competition for the STUNT cup.  Ticket sales from the event raise money for scholarships for rising seniors.  This is the 118th year.  That’s a lot of helping out your sister.  And I was one of the beneficiaries many moons ago.  Thankful.

Today was also Welcome to Wesleyan Weekend.  The day Wesleyannes bring young women–daughters, nieces, friends–to campus to attend mock classes, listen to the story of STUNT, eat in the dining hall, see dorm rooms, and attend STUNT.

I took our Princess, my Golden Heart 2027.  She has been so excited about this for weeks.  She planned her outfit–jeans and her Golden Heart Wesleyan shirt that her big sister got her last fall.  And a red sweater to support Aub’s class, the Pirates, in their effort to win the STUNT cup.

A precious day full of more moments to treasure.

Being with women whom I lived with for four years.  Before we entered the “Real World.”  I had promised to giggle the first time one of us had to use her “Mama” voice.   And I did.  But then I was the second–it was inevitable with my crew.

The beautiful dining hall at Wesleyan.  As our Princess said, "It's more beautiful than I thought it would be."

The beautiful dining hall at Wesleyan. As our Princess said, “It’s more beautiful than I thought it would be.”

I sat in the dining hall and ate supper with friends I’ve known for a long, long time.  Almost thirty years–what?!  How did that even happen?  And I had a wonderful visit with someone whom I had seen in plays there before my freshman year who became a dear friend.  I adored her then and I still do.  She’s just that fabulous.

One of the women from the class ahead of us led us in the singing of the Doxology.  I don’t think I will ever hear the beauty of voices raised in song in this room and not get chills.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Funny thing is we only ever sang it on Thursday nights before Family Style Supper, and yet, when I went to sit down tonight, it was the first thing I remembered from my years there in that beautiful room.

Our children played together around the fountain, and we reminisced.  So much to remember, so much forgotten, but one thing stood out. Sisterhood.  It does last a lifetime.

We went to see the model room for one of the dorms.  My room from my Senior year.  Remodeled, but same room still.  Then we went across the way to view a room in another dorm.  The dorm that we weren’t allowed in while I lived there.  Except for that one time.  The irony is that the same women who let me in that one time also let me in tonight.  I love them, but I might just hear that drum banging in my sleep.  If I can even sleep tonight.  Fortunately they were much friendlier this time around.  😉

Heading to the fountain for our Pep rally.

Heading to the fountain for our Pep rally.

As we stood around the fountain and sang our class songs, I looked across the way to my independent Princess who had found her way to stand with other Golden Hearts.  She was not looking back once.  Tears.  Gratitude.  A smile.  She has found her way home too.  She used those exact words tonight when we were walking back to our car, “Mama, it feels like Wesleyan is home.”

It is, baby girl, it is.  And so another Wesleyanne is born.

I love this place and the things that never change.  Familiar.  That is home for me.

I love this place and the things that never change. Familiar. That is home for me.

While sitting in Porter Auditorium tonight watching the classes put on an awesome show, I moved in my seat.  Without thinking, I reached down and felt the velvety sides to the leather seat.  I knew without consciously remembering that’s how they were made.  I’ve sat and touched the velvet during plays, concerts, convocations, meetings, STUNT rehearsals (so many of those), Alumnae meetings, and graduations.  It’s like going in a house you haven’t been in for years and you just KNOW where everything is.  Because it’s home.

Tonight I give thanks for folks who have known me forever it seems.  For the ones who listen to old stories and new, for the laughter–oh thank you for the laughter, for little girls and big ones bonding together where their Mamas learned to begin growing up.  For memories rising up and causing your heart to skip a beat because they are so vivid.  For the whispered words of my roommate when I was climbing over a chair, “I’ve got you,” and the realization that yes, she always has.  I’m thankful that my girl gets to create her own memories in the same place where her Mama and Maemae did so many years ago.  I’m thankful that I left her tonight with a smile on her face and joy in her heart.  Her class didn’t win the coveted STUNT cup, but they won something much better–a bonding experience and story after story that I hope one day they will share together on a sunny afternoon sitting around the fountain remembering with those they grew to love.

I’m also thankful for all who have supported her journey.  Godparents and Aunts and family and friends who were sitting in the audience, cheering my Pirate on, I love and appreciate more than they can know.  For folks who wore red or sent her encouraging words, it meant so much.  And to my Wesleyan sisters who sat and watched and cheered for a class different from their own (and even brought her cookies), simply because she was mine and therefore theirs, my heart is full to bustin’.

Tonight I’ll be dreaming sweet dreams of home.  Love to all.

In the Quiet of the Waiting

Have you ever been to a sporting event? High school football game? Little League baseball game?  It’s a bit rowdy and full of excitement and noise, right?

Even when sitting in a theater and waiting for a play to start or waiting in your pew for a church service to start, there’s a rustling and conversation and at least some noise.

Today, however, our waiting has been quiet.

Okay.  Those of you who know the Zoo Crew (my littles and Miss Sophie) know that there’s no way that could be completely true.  Not for ten hours straight.  And you’d be right.

But with the exception of the running off their energy in circles through the kitchen for about five to ten minutes this afternoon, it has been an amazingly quiet day.

There’s something about anticipation and waiting that fills us with awe and wonder.

We live in middle Georgia.  We get snow on average every three years or so.  The only significant snow I can recall in my lifetime was in 1973.  “The Snow of ’73” is what it’s called.  And folks who were around then know what you’re talking about.  It snowed long and hard and was deep.  I was four and a half or five.  I wore my little cowgirl boots out to play in the snow, because why would any of us have such things as snow boots?  I played with the little girl next door in the yard between our two houses.  I remember either her Daddy or mine letting the car run so we could sit in it and warm up while we were playing.  My feet were like ice, and when all the cold took over the fun, I remember going up on our backporch and shedding myself of all my wet things.  It was a beautiful sunny day, the sky was so blue.  And the snow.  There’s no white as white as the snow that day.  So vibrant.

We have been waiting for the snow today.  Folks started talking about it a few days ago.  The local schools made the call yesterday to close today.  Forecasters predicted the precipitation would start around 11 a.m., with it shifting to freezing precipitation by 2 or 3 p.m. and snow would follow shortly.

My littles woke up expecting it to be snowing.  They don’t understand things like weather forecasts and cold fronts and humidity.  They just heard the word “snow” and visions of snowflakes and snowball fights and snowmen and sledding began dancing in their heads.  Seriously.  We have never needed a sled in all of their lives, but yesterday they had the Fella go get his sled out of the attic.  I’m telling y’all that thing will get used even if there’s only .10 inch of snow on the ground.  They won’t settle for any less.

As happens the forecast was a little off, but let’s stop a minute and think.  How amazing was it that they could even pinpoint today as the SNOW day?  I’m in awe of weather forecasting.  Really I am.  It’s kind of like magic to me.  However, my littles are not as forgiving.  When we checked the noon news to see what they were saying, the prediction of snow was pushed out until tonight between 7 and 10 p.m.  If that man had been standing in the living room with us, I would have ushered him out quickly, fearful for his safety.

The littles were mad.  Especially Cooter.  We talked a bit about kindness and forgiveness.

Other than that, though, a day of awe-filled quiet and waiting and learning about patience.

My littles sang “Snow” from “White Christmas” together most of the morning.  Love.  That.

The cowl I've been working on whenever I had a few minutes for the past few weeks.

The cowl I’ve been working on whenever I had a few minutes for the past few weeks.

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I finished this project.  It’s not a hard one, but in the stillness of the day, I carved out some time and finished it.  (Do you get that finish is the important thing here?)

It snowed at Wesleyan, and I’ve gotten to see the joy on my oldest’s face as she walks around in the beautiful white, cold, fluffy stuff in the pictures she and her friends are taking.  It brings back memories of the snow day we had when I was in college there.  Is there a greater joy for a Mama than to see joy and peace and happiness in her child’s face? So thankful.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I know.  There are folks still trying to get home all over Atlanta and in Alabama.  There are schoolchildren sleeping in school gyms with no way to get home, and people sitting in their cold cars almost out of gas on the interstates.  I give thanks for being in my home with my little people and the Fella, knowing that the people I love are all okay.  I don’t take it for granted.  I even heard from Mac today.  “If nobody’s told you today, Mac Carter loves you.”  Thank you, Mac.  For the phone call and for the love.  He’s staying with friends tonight who have a room out of the cold.  I am very thankful for that.

Tonight I give thanks for singing littles, for children and puppies chasing each other around the house, for little people quietly playing with Legos and Playmobil people, taking little breaks to press their faces to the glass and sigh longingly.  I am grateful for my oldest and her good friends, who work hard and play hard and love each other fiercely, as only Wesleyannes can.  Most of all I am thankful for the warmth.

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Warmth in my heart.  Seeing the enchantment in my children’s eyes and hearing the excitement in their voices warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes…..

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Warmth in my home.

Miss Sophie, best foot warmer ever!

Miss Sophie, best foot warmer ever!

And warmth on my cold feet.

So thankful for home.  In the words of Edith Sitwell:

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home.

Y’all be safe.  Please keep the children and families and people in Atlanta and Alabama who are not home in your thoughts and prayers.  Love to all.