I Love That Wonky Pumpkin

Today our Princess decided it was pumpkin carving day.

She has been so excited about the prospect since she picked hers out at the Pumpkin Patch last Saturday.  Then on Thursday we found a pumpkin carving kit at the GW Boutique.  That thing has been burning a hole in her proverbial pocket ever since.

Today was the day.

I get it.  This is the first time she’s ever carved a pumpkin.

Mine too, as best as I can remember.

I have a vague recollection of Mama cleaning one out and carving it many, many years ago when I was very small.  My thinking is, after being a part of the carving today, that it was just too messy for her to want to deal with, what with four small children underfoot.

We all gathered out on the front porch as Princess traced a circle with a Sharpie around the top for the cut out.  Her friend Miss C was over, and she liked to offer her guidance.  *ahem*  I gently suggested that maybe she could let our girl do it her own way since I assumed Miss C had already carved her own (and expertly so, I’m thinking, from the suggestions she offered).  She graciously backed off with the suggestions for a few minutes but was sure to inform me that she was going to carve hers later tonight.

As my girl worked on cutting a hole in the top of the pumpkin with the orange tool that had all the sharpness of a dull butter knife, she chattered away happily.  Life is such a dream for this child of mine.  Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.  Everything is the “best ever,” and today was the best ever because she was carving her very own pumpkin by her very own self for the very first time.  Ever.

She’s pretty awesome like that.  I think she got it from my Mama.  That whole “finding so much joy in everything” thing.

After scooping out the innards, something she let her friend help her with, she was ready to design the face.  She drew triangles on, again with the Sharpie, which in hindsight might not have been the best idea.  When one was a little higher and bigger than the other, she tried to redraw it, not realizing at first that redrawing wouldn’t help.  The lines would still be there.  Her friend made one suggestion after the other.  I was about to interject again, when my girl said, “No, it’s okay, thanks though.  I like the way it looks.  They eyes will just look a little creepier and spookier this way.”

I am so proud of her.  So secure and confident in what she was creating.

I’m proud of me too.

I didn’t say one word as she drew the nose.  “I want it to be a square,” she said.  And the next thing I know, this “mouth-sized” rectangle was sitting below the two wonky eyes.  I so wanted to suggest she make it into the mouth and not worry about a nose, but I didn’t.  This is huge for me.  My Joyful friend and I used to congratulate each other when we let our children create without all the assistance and guidance (okay, we were intent on redoing the whole thing) when Aub and her girls were little.  So to be able to sit back and enjoy the creation and keep my mouth closed?

HUGE.

Her friend actually did suggest the whole make it a mouth and create a smaller nose above it idea.  Wondering how my girl would react, I again sat back and listened.

Princess did not disappoint.  “No, I really want to make the mouth below there.  And I like the nose.  Lots of light will show through.”

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And she carved away.

The only thing I had to help her with (don’t judge me please) was getting the mouth out without losing the teeth.  She hadn’t cut it quite all the way through and it threatened to turn into a crescent shaped mouth.  But she had carved the teeth, so I wanted her to have them.  A few more sawing motions and gently sliding it out, voila!

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Done.

Mr. Jack O’ Lantern was finished.  A bit wonky, but that only makes him creepier.  And spookier.

Don’t you think?

Tonight I’m thankful for the privilege of raising these precious children.  I’m thankful for this middle one who is as full of sweetness as she is spunk, which makes for a sparkling combination.  I give thanks that she is confident and creative and strong, and I am happy she can hear criticism and kindly continue doing her own thing.  Most of all, I’m happy that what made her most excited about creating her very own jack o’lantern all by her very own big self was putting a light in it and watching it shine in the darkness.

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Because you know what?  She has a gift for that.  Letting her light shine, especially in the hard and sad times.

She got that from my Mama too.

Love to all.

My Heart Overflows

This afternoon a dear friend told me I seemed happier than I had in a long time.  And that made me even happier.  I showed her pictures of where my day had taken me so far and she agreed–stuff worth being happy about.

Leroy, my big brother, invited my crew to come over to the new house and play today.  And he told me to go do “whatever.”  Whatever?  I thought through the possibilities and then picked up the phone to call my Aunt.  I asked if I could come and pick beans, as we’d been talking about this for a couple of weeks.  After questioning my thought processes that led me to decide to pick beans in my “time off,” she said well sure.  I guess it might seem an odd choice to some.  This is my first “free without plans or a doctor’s appointment” time in a very long, long time.  I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.  Picking beans without folks with me who might whine about the heat?  Bring it.

I can’t remember my first time in a garden.  I just remember always picking with my Daddy.  My Granddaddy planted quite the garden at Granny’s when I was small.  I can remember sitting on the edge of the bucket picking butterbeans, trying to be so careful not to pull up the whole plant.  Later when we moved to Blackberry Flats Daddy planted and we all picked and snapped and shelled and Mama canned.  I remember helping him plant as recently as just a few years ago.  Using the bricks with a string tied between to line up the row, and then dropping the seeds along every so often.  Oh I miss it.

So, time in a garden today?  Yes please.

My destination today

My destination today

My Uncle pulled corn, and he, my Aunt, and I sat and shucked and silked it under the shade of the trees in no time.  My heart was full.   So often I spend my time with my children trying to make a good moment that will become a precious memory.  Today was for me.  I will treasure the memory of how it felt, sitting there with them, shucking and visiting and smelling the smell of summer.  A treasure.

Summer sunshine growing on a stalk

Summer sunshine growing on a stalk

After we finished with the corn, my Aunt and I headed out to pick beans.  What a treat a pot of fresh beans and cornbread is for supper.  Throw some onion and a few new potatoes in the pot and it’s a veritable summer FEAST.  And now I have corn as a side dish.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.

The beans that will be my supper tomorrow night

The beans that will be my supper tomorrow night

We picked a mess pretty quickly, sharing stories and visiting the whole while, which made it seem like it took no time at all.  After that it was time to take off my garden boots and head off for the next adventure.

I was rockin' the garden boots, right?

I was rockin’ the garden boots, right?

But first I wanted to say goodbye to this glorious place that turns water and light into food for the body and this land that was food for my soul.  There’s something about being outside that does that for me.  And being with family.  I was hot and had sweat running down my face, but oh boy, were my spirits lifted.

A beautiful day

A beautiful day

Next I picked up our Princess from Leroy’s and took her to an art class at our favorite coffeehouse.  It was a surprise for her.  She was a bit nervous because the last time she did this over a year ago, she didn’t think her picture turned out so well.  I hugged her and told her no matter how she thought it looked, I would love it.  I left her to her class, had a quick impromptu visit with friends at the coffeehouse, and then headed next door to the GW Boutique for a quick once-over.

When I returned our Princess had finished her painting, and it was FABULOUS.  She even used my favorite colors.

The puppy's name is Teresa, according to our Princess.....that's a "t" on her collar

The puppy’s name is Teresa, according to our Princess…..that’s a “t” on her collar

I loved that when we were helping clean up, she pointed out what was left where she’d been working her artistic magic.

What was left around where she created her work of art

What was left around where she created her work of art

It occurred to me that we should do that in whatever we do.  Be so enthusiastic and thorough that we overflow–with light, with love, with compassion, with grace. We shouldn’t be so cautious in any of those things that there isn’t overflow.  Makes me kind of wish I had kept that tablecloth.  Maybe my word for next year will be “overflow.”  It sure was my word for today–my heart overflowed.  So much so that my friend saw the joy in my face.

And on the way home, after the littles had their summer gymnastics class this evening (yes it was a VERY full day), when my spirits were sinking over something that happened late in the day and my heart felt very fragile, my littles pointed this out to me.

I kind of have the feeling this was my Mama's way of letting me know she's around

I kind of have the feeling this was my Mama’s way of letting me know she’s around

My Mama showed me the rainbows in the midst of the storms of life.  And tonight, when I felt like one was blowing in, this rainbow caught the eyes of my precious gifts who still get excited over rainbows and bugs and tadpoles and good stories.  When I saw it, my heart knew and I felt some peace.  I am pretty sure Mama was saying, “Don’t let anyone take the joy of this day from you.”

Tonight I am thankful for family who loves me despite all my craziness; for the generosity of my family with their time, their love, their listening, and their vegetables.  I am thankful for friends who pay attention and who know me and are happy when they see me happy.  And for the same friends who walk the path of brokenness and heartbreak with me.  I am thankful for a little girl who loves bright colors and tells everyone, “Mama couldn’t quit smiling when she saw my picture.”  I am thankful for loud cousins playing and growing up together and for their parents who make that possible.  I am thankful for the bounty of the sun and rain this summer and for my Aunt and Uncle who share it.  And I’m thankful for my Mama who hasn’t stopped talking to me just because we are separated by that thin veil.  I needed that rainbow tonight, to remember the joy of today, and not let it slip away. Joy.  Overflow.  Yes.