You Are Beloved

It was getting close to bedtime and I prayed with my teen daughter. I asked God to bless her and thanked Him for her. Then I stopped talking and gave the presence of the Holy Spirit room.

When the word came it was fresh even though the words on my lips were as constant and familiar to her as breath.

I cupped her face with both my hands, looking her in the eye. I held her there for a heartbeat before I spoke.

You are His Beloved.

There are things we know to be true with our whole being, but over time we lose clarity. Like the view through a recently cleaned pane of glass on a sunny blue sky day, all of a sudden, we are made newly aware of what we knew to be there all the time. There are words, and then there are Words. Truth comes in a rush and we are once again amazed.

You are His Beloved.

All day, every day, feedback and half-truths tell us what we should be. It is a constant assault. This is not a thing only the young among us struggle against. Knowing we are less-than, we recognize our lack. Faced with this reality, we strive to escape our faulty standing, and forget the larger truth of who we are. Who He says we are.

You are worth everything He paid for you.
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You are worth everything He paid for you. (Tweet This)

The messed up, less than, never to be perfect mess that you are. Even now, when you have failed, failed,failed. Even then, before you knew Him, you were worth everything He paid for you. You still are. Now and then, forever.

You are His Beloved.

My arm around her, I began to sing.

I am His and He is mine
A forever love outlasting time
Jesus loves me He’s my destiny
Jesus loves me He is my destiny

I stopped and asked her, “Do you remember this song?”

It was her baptism song. The song I wrote after she made her profession of faith. Then we sang the song together, she and I. Because it is my song, too.

And the song of all who choose to sing.

Giving Thanks: Searching the Storm Clouds for Silver

This week I have had several conversations with friends about going through hard seasons. We all have our share. I hesitated to spill words here, for fear of being misunderstood, named melancholy. That is not where I am. I write these words to bring honesty and an attempted measure of comfort. At times it is good to speak of our oh-so-common pain and poorly hidden struggles.

There are times when darkness overwhelms.
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Even though we assuredly know we are blessed, untangling threads of silver from the storm clouds remains elusive. (Tweet This)

I used to say that times are hard but at least . . . and would then consider those things and events that were not, as if comparing tragedy to tragedy would lighten the load.

I still do this and there is a coping value in such a habit, but today I choose to face head on the things here and now. The pain that demands to be felt and not only touched but gripped. There is much to be thankful for in the midst of the human condition we so often find ourselves.

When everything moves off center, regaining a sure footing is a dance too clumsy to perform well. There is a profound lack of grace in the middle of stumbling over a thing so large its impact has shifted your entire world. When this happens, and it will, it is impossible to catch yourself. The ground is hard and strewn with half-forgotten discards that make for a rocky landing. We bruise. We bleed.

But we cannot catch ourselves, even when we realize the hard fall is coming.

I am thankful for the God Who Catches Me.

Today I am thankful for not knowing. For the should have, could have, would haves, the guilt and horrible realization that seizes me as I gape at the depth of my inadequacy. Facing our own lack is a rude and exquisitely singular pain. But I believe in a God who reveals.

The revelation here is that I will never truly be enough or do enough. What arrogance to think I was ever intended to be.

I give thanks for the God Who is Enough.

I am thankful for the desert places. I have been to the place where I have given and given, expecting a return. It did not come. There was a time I would become upset with those who did not respond in kind, not understanding that people cannot give what they do not possess and no amount of striving on my part will cause my need for reciprocity to be fulfilled. That yesterday seems so long ago from the here and now moment my feet are entrenched in today.

I have learned what it is to dwell in desert places, to have someone hold my heart in their hand without even an inkling of understanding what that means. Yes, there is sorrow in the knowledge that this love will not be returned, but there is an unfathomable greatness in knowing that without requital I would walk, with no hesitation, through fire for this one.
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It is in the act of giving, not receiving, that love comes to rest in its true purpose. (Tweet This)

Today I am thankful for the power of love that comes only from God. It pours itself out, watering this desert, and life blooms.

I am thankful for the God Who Fits His Vessels.

I have tried to be thankful through physical pain. This is one of my large failures. I detest measuring my time and energy in small, careful steps when my nature wants to run and dance headlong into adventure. But here I am, creeping along, sweating in a most unladylike manner and uttering words that are equally unladylike. I do not like this weakness, this dependency, this failure. I am not the owner of an angelic countenance and no gentle speech regarding my body’s suffering flows from my lips. My days are filled with physical pain and I bite against the restriction.

Any advice on what the grand meaning of this thorn may be will not be welcomed as long as I remain in this frame of mind. I much prefer being ministered to with soft, encouraging words accompanied by something chocolate and gooey delivered to my door. Yet I am thankful for today’s small victories.There will be an end to difficult times, of this I am sure. My thoughts skip over all the in-betweens.

I am profoundly thankful for the faith and hope that provides me courage to continue on.

I am thankful for the God Who is My God.

Flower with Quote Thankful for the Power

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This post is part of the Thankful for God’s Gifts Blog Hop. Please be sure to stop by the other participants listed below.

11/17/14 Loving Christ Ministries: Thankful In Grief www.lovingchristministries.com
11/18/14 Keeper Ministries: The Barren Woman a Joyful Mother – God’s Perfect Gift www.KeeperMinistries.com
11/19/14 Teena Myers Blog: A Greater Gift http://teenalmyers.com/blog/
11/20/14 Live, Love, Laugh, Post: 7 Reasons I Am Thankful For God http://livelaughlovepost.com
11/21/14 The Green Tomato Experience: To Serve and Capture http://www.thegreentomatoexperience.com/
11/22/14 Donna Stone Blog, Giving Thanks: Searching the Storm Clouds for Silver http://donnastone.me/
11/24/14 Sister We Thrive: Sister, given any thought to being thankful? Well, I have. http://www.lindsyb.com/#!blog/c17x6
11/25/14 Completely Committed Blog: One Grateful Mom http://completelycommittedgirl.blogspot.ca
11/26/14 The Kangacoo Blog Grateful People Share, Daily Bread is Enough www.kangacoo.com/kanga-blog

godsgiftsbloghop

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Homeschooling and Afterschooling High Functioning Kids on the Spectrum: My Short List of Resources Part One

There is no one size fits all approach to teaching high functioning kids on the spectrum, but I can tell you what has worked for us. Every curriculum needs adjusting, and every child has his or her own set of gifts, talents and needs. Add in the parent teacher’s preferred teaching style, belief system and materials available and every situation will be unique. I am listing a few resources I feel are of benefit to every parent teacher who has students on the high functioning end of the spectrum. Many of these apply in general to child rearing and training as well.

I am limiting my suggestions here, but keep in mind the best teachers are the ones who never stop searching for answers. It’s kind of mandatory, this flexible parenting thing. Kids have a way of changing on us as soon as we think we have stuff figured out.

How Can I Teach Them if I Can’t Even Control Their Behavior?

Parent and caregivers often spend a great deal of energy trying to control unwanted behavior. A better path, in my way of thinking, is to attempt changing the behavior by addressing the heart and motivation.

When there is a struggle, my first suggestion in teaching any child is to examine your current course of action. Is there another, better way to get the desired result? You could try Lori Petro’s Teach Through Love Teachable Moments youtube videos as a quick jumpstart. I have not deeply examined every single concept she has presented, but I have found that I agree with her general approach. She is a parent with Asperger’s raising a child with Asperger’s. These videos give some wonderful insights that can be applied by any parent or caregiver in their efforts to guide children.

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene PhD is an often recommended book. If you have difficulty in understanding or managing meltdowns or angry behavior, the ideas in this book may help.

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Considering the way your child with AS reasons out problems and approaches life can go a long way towards reaching them. If you can’t reach them, you can’t teach them. (Tweet This)

What About Life Skills?

Another great common sense resource is the book How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Asperger’s by Jennifer Mcllwee Myers. This is an easy to read book that I have found to be immensely practical and straight forward. The author of this book is on the spectrum and brings valuable perspective to the subject at hand.

What is the Best Curriculum?

It depends. There are simply too many variables. There is no such thing as a one size fits all program for any student. Each child has their own preferred learning style, capabilities, needs, and strengths. I have not used every curriculum out there on the market, even if it seems like I must have from the amount of materials collected and tried over the years!

What Worked Best for You?

My all-time favorite and most effective curriculum for our specific needs was KONOS. I used the original KONOS three volume set designed for K-8th and these are the books I am referring to. There are other KONOS products but I have not reviewed them so I am sticking to what I know here. We did not do every unit in every book. KONOS is a Christian homeschool unit study program.

Why KONOS? For us, the repetition of a unit organized around a character trait was exactly what was needed. Honestly, I muddled through at the beginning but quickly came to love the results. It truly did feel like a gift from heaven. KONOS integrates character training and academics in a hands-on structured way. I have used and perused a lot of curriculum in 20 plus years. KONOS is the only one that unified the wide variety of issues, academics, and skills I wanted to address.

We studied units that contained practical skills, speech making, literature, poetry, emotions, cooking, cooperative projects and much, much more all based around a specific character trait as a spring board. I started with Courage and we completed the entire unit, then moved on to Determination, Cooperation, and Self-Control. After we’d gotten through these, I did not do another entire BIG unit. Instead we would pick and choose from smaller units within the main category. We used KONOS for three consecutive years, including summers, and occasionally after that.

KONOS is a bit of work to implement for the teacher, but there are supports. KONOS covers all academic subjects except math. You may use the units as stand-alone units of study, adjusting them as you see fit. KONOS is also used for many co-ops. Although intended for use with two or more children, you can use it for an only child but will need to tweak the curriculum. This curriculum is very adjustable and can be used for a lighter or a more in-depth study.

KONOS is effective because it is a structured hands-on curriculum that repeats a core value for the length of the unit using various methods of teaching. It is NOT a social skills curriculum or a curriculum specifically designed for kids on the spectrum, but it sure did work well for us. Your child will need additional repetition for life skills and certain issues.

This is not THE ONE curriculum; it is only my personal favorite. It is not my favorite to prepare, but it is my favorite to actually teach and do.

KONOS has been around a lot longer than I’ve been homeschooling. That’s a long time, mommas.

You can find more information on the specifics of this curriculum at KONOS.com.

Today’s Parting Word on Teaching High Functioning Kids with ASD

Do not try to make every moment a serious teaching lesson.

Yes, some kids need every.single.thing taught to them in excruciating detail with grueling repetition, but they also need you, just you. Spend down time with them. (Tweet This)
Do the fun or interesting things that they are into. Talk to them. Your child needs to know you respect and enjoy him or her as a person. And you need to take joy in being mom to an awesome kid.

Do you have a favorite resource or bit of wisdom to share? Please comment!

Lessons That Matter

My highschooler comes home from her new part time job, Tuesday through Thursday, at lunchtime. The chatter is non-stop for a while. I love to watch her as she talks.

She works as a pair of extra hands at a private school.

A helper was needed for two special needs kids, teenagers. When the job posting came up, I thought it might be of interest to her. Patience with certain children is one of her attributes, and she is not scared of different. I asked her if she was interested and she said yes.

Our homeschool schedule had to be adjusted, but that is fine. We can well afford to be flexible with the hours.
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Important lessons take precedence, and some things need to be experienced. (Tweet This)

I felt this would be an excellent opportunity for her.

After the first week she says to me, “I’m really surprised by how much I like it.”

“I knew you would.”

I am too smug. She wrinkles her nose at me, then rolls her eyes. I pretend to be affronted, and defend myself.

“Well,” I say, hands on hips and trying not to grin,“at least I didn’t say, ‘Told you so.’ ”

This earns me a skeptical sideways glance and a lifted eyebrow.

“OK,” I admit, “It’s kind of the same thing.”

“Kind of exactly.”

We laugh.

Over the following days I learn that The Wiggles and Minions are her students’ favorites, about words missed and corrected, and many other things.

I listen to it all.

We are in my room after she gets home one day and conversation goes as usual. She pauses for breath, hesitating.

“Do I talk about my kids too much?”

My kids.

I shake my head no. “I want to hear,” I tell her.

She smiles and speaks of how much her boy student likes to color all the pictures in, not just the right number to get the answer, of gentle tugs on her sleeve and sweet laughter finally earned. She isn’t looking at me as she describes the laughter. There is a particular light in her eyes.

When she still rested in the womb I placed my palms on my naked, swollen belly. With fingers splayed out across the roundness, I wept and promised her she could be who she was, not knowing what future would come.

Here it is. I watch an unfolding woman’s soul begin to enter into being.

“My kids,” she said.

Just when I thought she couldn’t get any more beautiful.

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My Mother’s Day Post

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I wanted to write a nice, heartfelt mother’s day post, but I’m having a hard time. Here’s a confession: I have allowed myself to be snared by the entitlement trap. The one that makes you question, “Is it too much to ask for a little appreciation one day out of the year? One measly day?”

I know letting these kinds of thoughts in only makes me and everyone else around me unhappy (If Momma ain’t happy . . .) so I try to not be that way. I really do. But when other moms start posting their pics, that familiar monster of discontentment rears its head and takes a big old bite out of my good intentions.

I know them all well, every member of my little family. I know the intricacies of who each one of them is, their hopes and plans for the future, and how they like the jam spread on their toast. Sometimes I want them to know me, too, to see me as something more than she-who-takes-care-of-us.

It makes me cranky. Extremely.

Here’s the very, very foolish thing about this mind set. I say all the time that what I do, being a mom, is the best investment I could ever make. I love being mom, and there is absolutely nothing I would rather spend my time doing. I mean it with every single molecule of my being. I say it to friends, strangers and my beautiful family constantly.

I think I want breakfast in bed, and nicely wrapped gifts of writer’s books that show deep consideration and thoughtfulness. Something that shows me they recognize my soul. I do get gifts. And I appreciate new cookware, it’s only that I would like a more personal gift item every now and then, perhaps one that reflects my interests. I want to be seen, acknowledged.

But instead of recognizing me as a writer or the girl who likes roses, this is how they see me:

The fixer.

Reader of every single text you send her. Ever.

Possessor of magic mommy spit.

Emergency cash fund.

Lady with the mop bucket when they get sick all over the floor.

The soft, cool hands laid on a forehead and a kiss on the cheek.

Mender of torn clothes and tattered pride.

Advisor. Advocate. Rear-end Kicker.

Roast-cooking, sandwich making, vitamin-pushing nourisher.

Listener of stories and complaints and dreams.

The one to run to with happy news. The one to run to with bad news. The one to run to with the worst news of your life.

The one who lets you cry, even when it kills her.

The safe place.

Home.

They don’t tell me these things, but I know this is who I am to them because I live it every day.

I hope they never, ever see me as anything less than mom.

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On Philosophy, Theology and the Emerging Church

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Something’s off. I know it. But who am I?

A tick in my spirit is not enough argument to stand on. I should be able to stand and I feel guilt that still, even now, I am inadequate. I need to go back to my philosophy books. The fifth (or sixth or seventh) time’s the charm, right?

But there’s a contractor coming at two o’clock and the floor is full of crumbs and something smells boy-laundry-bad in the utility room.

Which brings me back to the point at hand. I can’t explain the whys and the terms. Words like post-modern and panentheism should trip off my tongue by now, but instead they trip me up. All I can say is something smells fishy.

I hate fighting. It makes my stomach hurt and my knees wobbly.

But in case you were wondering, I will not be swayed from this spot. See my shaking, clay-dirt covered feet? They are dug in deep into His word. Shaking but not shaky. The truth I try so hard to grasp and breathe in has penetrated, if only a little. So I stand here, desperately hoping. I know where my help comes from.

I know what I know and will not be moved. The difference between stubbornness and conviction is whose voice you listen to. Feelings lie, but the Truth doesn’t. Turn the pages in the Book and speak to its Author. Just the facts, please, without muddy thinking.

We are corrupted by our own wisdom, fed philosophy before we learn how to tie our shoes. If you think not, you do not understand the term. Everything is built on something.

Read your Bible, and not a verse here and there. Read it straight out, great drippy chunks of it. Read a whole book, and then read it again. I was brought up on the Word, yet here I am listening to chapters over and over and finding out I don’t know so much. Somewhere around the fourth repetition I think I may be starting to get it. Maybe. All my learning tends to get in the way, but the repetition of the word wears at those false walls.

Ask why and why and why. Do not strangle your questions. Do not follow man, even if it is a man who says do not follow man.

Do not ask, “What does this mean for me?” or “How do I make sense of this?” ask only, plain and simple, “What does it mean?”

You are precious in His sight, but you are not the center, beloved child.

Study philosophy before you quote philosophers. Use your own capable brain. Wrap your weary mind around the hard edges of logic and truth. It’s good medicine. And we are sick, there is no doubt of that.

Under the Microscope

When we first started homeschooling, I wasn’t aware of it. I was too busy trying to get all my ducks in a row. Besides, I have never really understood why what I do should be of such intense interest of outside parties.

It was the homeymoon phase and didn’t last very long.

Every mom knows this intrusion on her parenting skills. It starts just about the time your baby bump begins to show, and continues until . . . well, I don’t know when it ends. I haven’t got there yet.

With homeschooling it’s kind of like that, times ten. Your friends, neighbors, relatives, random strangers on the street suddenly turn a critical eye on your life. Everyone has an opinion. And then there are the demands we place on ourselves.

The very first book I read about homeschooling advised me that my house must always be in order. I tried to laugh that off, but it made me nervous. A week or so later, I joined a group. With member ship came a list of written rules. The most important thing we were to remember was that we represented something important. Members were severely admonished us to conduct ourselves in a manner befitting this responsibility. At all times. 

Then there are the questions. Most of the time these are fine. An exception would be one of those ambushes when an angry looking adult corners the poor homeschooled kid. Then the adult proceeds to quiz the child on various subjects until the child is caught in a mistake, at which point the angry adult says something like, “Aha! I knew little Johnny’s education was being neglected! He can’t name all of the Kings and Queens of England in chronological order!”

During these inquisitions the homeschooled child will misspell simple words, fail easy arithmetic, and forget the name of the city in which they reside. They will also confess to sleeping until 11:00 because, “Mom said she was never teaching us anything ever again,” and “We like to sleep all day.”

On the other side of the coin, there are the enthusiasts. A truckload of shiny assumptions line the path to the homeschool pedestal of perfection. Myths abound. The idea that mom has endless patience and the children are all little geniuses and are always perfectly behaved does not really describe what our family looks like. Not that reality ever stopped me from trying to grasp the elusive brass ring so tantalizingly out of reach as the ride takes me ‘round and ‘round.

This brings me to my own worst critic. Me.

There are lists, scope and sequence charts and all sorts of assessment tools that are meant to be a guide. Being a mom, however, I can easily and quickly turn those helpful tools into proof of my inadequacy. Although logic dictates that not everyone congregates around the 90th percentile, no one ever brags about being average.

I celebrate all kids who have found there place to shine, and am rightly proud of them. But being average in a world of perceived stars is hard. I forget the truth. Everyone has their own specific gifts and should be encouraged to flourish in them, whether those gifts are the usual ones or not. I have to remind myself that the quiet gifts are as valuable as the loud, trumpeting kind and that nurturing is my calling, not comparing.

My house is a mess. My yard is a mess. I have allowed poor nutritional choices on occasion. If I am supposed to be wonder woman, I think I was strangled by my cape.

All of this pressure to be perfect can blur the home educating mom’s vision.

Most years January was my typical time of year to panic about school. Mid-year evaluations would reveal how much we had fallen short of my goals. Never mind that I knew full well that these were unrealistic.  I would disregard the fact that at the time I made these plans I never actually expected to complete everything. This need to compete would typically unbalance me for a week or two before I returned to my senses. Sprinkled throughout the journey, in moments of weakness and stress, sporadic fits of ‘pursuing perfectionism’ have plagued me as well.

I’m doing better now. At least so far today.

 

Seven Things to Remember

We are destined to fail at perfection, because perfection does not exist in this world.

No one can do it all, be it all, or have it all. We were never meant to.

Growing up young men and women is imprecise and not to be measured by man-made standards.

There will be mess. Always.

Critical people are not useful and can really get in the way of your goals. They do not have the right to ruin your destiny.

Trying to live an ideal not your own is life draining and a stumbling block.

Good enough is good enough.

No Small Act: Cruelty, Forgiveness, and Learning to Be Kind

My word for 2014 is kindness. I try to focus on the word, to find meaning in the concept. It’s useless. No idea comes.

Instead, a memory, and not one of a kindness given or received. It is one of those that comes unbidden, in early mornings or late at night when the quiet allows things pushed away into the corners to creep out and demand attention.

In the memory, he is eighteen years old and comes to stand beside me. I am in the kitchen, where moms of many spend a lot of time, my hands busy, taking care, doing one of the small tasks that make up my one best job.

“I have to tell you something,” he says.

His usual method of communication is to launch into loud and long dialog while his audience either keeps up or watches the blur. This preamble means it is serious. He often does this with things that bother him, his expression morose and tragic. Usually the situation is not. He shifts his feet. I finish what I am doing and give my absolute attention to him. He takes a deep breath and blows it out in a hard, fast exhalation.

He looks so very small, suddenly. This is not guilt, or a request, or a confession.  It is something else. He is troubled and sad.

“A long time ago,” he says, “when we were at church, a lady said something really mean.”

This is about his little brother.

A tingle starts between my shoulder blades as the muscles tense, but so many things are open to interpretation. I try to relax. I tip my head to the side and nod for him to continue.

He tells me the words she said and the words, though spoken years ago, are still sharp. “Shouldn’t be allowed” and “normal” and more. They buzz in my ears too loud and hurt, hurt, hurt. The air and sun of seasons gone by have not diluted their terrible power to cut.
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The greatest danger of motherhood is the inevitable vulnerability of her tender, unguardable heart. (Tweet This)

He stands there, with little boy eyes and slumped shoulders. He has borne this burden a long time, taking the arrows for his brother, for me. The man and the boy are all mixed up. Here is my child, made a man too young, now a grown man with a five o’clock shadow at eleven in the morning, still carrying manly boyhood wounds.

Why would a person say such things to a child about his younger sibling? I want to bind my boy’s hurts, to gather up the pieces of his grief and take them away, to cry, to scream, to use my own words against the one who has injured him so. Instead, I am quietly still. Tight anger is my shield against overwhelming helplessness.

He will not tell me who. He says he does not really know her. He doesn’t remember. But his eyes shift. Still taking arrows, he stands on this with fists clenched tightly around small secrets. There is nowhere for my Momma Bear fierceness to go.

I offer cliché-filled wisdom and rub wide circles on his broad back, pat his arm. We talk. I fix him a glass of sweet tea, give every bit of motherly comfort I can scrape up.

Life goes on and I try to forget about it, to disregard the mutterings of a mean-spirited woman and the scars left behind. I say to myself, “This is her problem, not mine,” and I shake my head at people like that.

Yet it haunts me. The pain in his eyes, and the unspeakable words still there, swirling about in the air and in my mind, never fading.

Kindness. This was not kindness. Then, out of the salt, I know what to do.

I pray for her.

I am surprised by the way it washes me, this act of kindness. And in this, I discover an even greater act of kindness, one toward myself.

In one step of faith and obedience towards forgiving the unforgivable, the impossible happens. Healing and freedom begin to take root. (Tweet This)

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Entering 2014

I subscribe to a lot of blogs, and I pop onto facebook regularly. Everybody is posting goals and plans for next year. Not me.

My chair welcomes me and so does my cup of tea. A bag of Hershey’s Special Dark Kisses, courtesy of those who know how to give a good Christmas gift, joins me. While everyone else is making lists and dreaming big dreams I sit and sip.

I think to myself, “Dang girl, you made it another year.”

A small smile turns up the corners of my lips. I am inordinately pleased.

cupnkisses

I try to assemble a list, The Year in Review, maybe. But instead I find myself watching my daughter sleep. A pang strikes me because she is changing so quickly and no longer the familiar girl child of yesterday.

I understand, for the first time, what the word metamorphosis truly means.

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When I see one of my young men sleeping or joyful or deeply wounded, the little boy trying to hide behind the mask of manhood is plain to me. But this sleeping lass is another breed entirely. She has entered into her becoming.

The shape of her spirit has changed her form. Her bones have grown into the promise and soon the flurry of short days will pass. Another will watch her, their own wild heart whispering “Mine” with every beat.

My chin sets firm. She was still mine first. No one will ever take the scars tracked across my flesh and soul for love of her. In the face of her sleeping strength my grip loosens a little.

My words poke her, telling her to get up and she moans, resisting. I do not relent and she sits up in the bed. The little girl is there again, in her frown.

I should not eat chocolate so early, but I have another.

I call my husband. The phone is crackly, muffled sounding. I knew it would be. Something is wrong with it and has been for a week or more. I could have texted, but I snapped at him on his way out the door. Neither of us mentions that. Instead I say, “Got there ok?” and we talk, mostly saying, “What? What? I can’t hear you,” before we tell each other goodbye.

Wash needs to be done. Wash always needs to be done, like most things I do. Years of being caregiver stretch before and behind.

The middle boy comes in. He worked all night. We talk of movies and books, because it is too early for me to contemplate world events. Instead we discuss plot structures and great moral dilemmas. I shoo him out the door, telling him to go get some sleep.

I need to check on the eldest. Stress stalks him today. Authority comes harder to some than others, and it is not a comfortable coat for him to wear. I hope his new employee is kind to him. Maybe notes from mom are not as important as I like to think, but I send an email anyway.

With those things done, I cast my mind back over 2013 but nothing momentous and worthy of prose leaps to mind.

I unwrap another kiss and pop it into my mouth, letting it rest there, melting on my tongue.

chckiss

 

 

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O Christmas Tree

I intended to have a white tree this year. I have a nice space, I have silver and blue, red and more silver. We have never had one of those trees. You know, the kind where everything matches and makes a lovely picture.

When we got out the boxes of decorations, I remembered we didn’t have any lights with white strings. Lights we have. In abundance. But they all have green wire.

I could have sent a text to one of the boys and had them go to the store, but I could not do that to them again. My guys do not do well with Christmas décor selection.

Instead I ordered lights. They will be here in four days.

This is where the tree was going to be.

wallspace

I say going to be, because when we got our little three foot tree out of the storage building, my girl noticed the white tree had orange spots. Moisture has gotten to it. Rust.

We have a large green tree as well, but my children always want the smaller one. And they want it decorated like this.

treeChristmas

The saving grace is that there is only so much room on this little guy. I have culled some of the bits they prefer, but some are not to be parted with.

gingerbreadman

The tree has been repaired many times. It came with a bit of a wobble, resting on a flimsy plastic base. Now the tree is much more solid, a block of wood replacing the broken plastic that had been encrusted with my glue gun handiwork.

Every year I say we should get a new tree, but they love this one.

I bought this tree the week before Christmas on the year we were ‘without permanent housing’. Under a borrowed roof, in the middle of nowhere, I decided that circumstances would not determine our celebration.

It was a cheap tree to start. The tree was marked down, perhaps because of its defects, perhaps because it was late in the season, or perhaps it was simply waiting for us to come claim it. I spent less than forty dollars on gifts for four children, a few plastic ornaments and the tree.

I would have been happy to chuck that tree as soon as possible and return to the possibility of nine foot tall trees. But no, we keep this one. Some years it is our only tree, some years it is The Little Tree or The Charlie Brown.

You would think kids would want presents, toys, things for themselves more, but it’s the tree they cling to. I get the feeling this tree will always wear lights at Christmas.

It’s even beginning to shed needles. I thought only real trees did that.

treeneedles

I guess we don’t really need a department store tree.

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