Friday, April 18, 2008

So, I haven't blogged for a few days.
I have a good reason for this.
I have been spending much of my time at St. John's with grandpa as he recovers from a much unplanned for major surgery.
Gramp has been having some discomfort in his chest and some numbness in his toes and shortness of breath the past several weeks.
A trip on Wednesday to the doctor's office and some tests revealed that he has several major blockages in his heart and blockages in his carotid arteries.
The doctor here in town acted quickly, transferring him to the St. John's CVICU where he was preped for open heart surgery, which he underwent yesterday.
What we were told would be a triple bypass turned into quintuple bypass.
Today, gramp is in pain, no doubt about it; but he is also talking and sitting up and even joking.
No wonder he's my hero.
Tomorrow he may "step down" from an ICU unit to a regular room on the cardiac floor.
If all goes well, he'll be home in 5 to 7 days.
I do not know yet how to express my feelings about the past several days.
I can tell you that at this point, I am thankful that God brought him through the surgery.
I am praying that God would heal his carotid arteries.
When we were in the hospital waiting for grandpa to get through surgery on Thursday, mom pointed out that exactly one and a half years ago to the day, we were in the same waiting room, losing dad.
I'm not sure what else to say about that.
What I can say is God is good.
We cry, we grieve, we feel, we cling to the arms of the Father.
But we know that God is good, that ultimately, we win, no matter what, and that everything will be okay if we trust and believe.
I am worn out emotionally and physically, but I am clinging for dear life to the arms of the Father, and He is holding me fast.
I know He is holding grandpa, too. As hard as it is to imagine, He loves gramp even more than I do, and He is with him when I can not be.
I thank Him for that. I rest in knowing that He is in control.
And again I find myself saying, He gives and takes away, blessed be His name.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A poem for today

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
~ Raymond Knister

I shall not wonder more, then,
But I shall know.

Leaves change, and birds, flowers,
And after years are still the same.

The sea's breast heaves in sighs to the moon,
But they are moon and sea forever.

As in other times the trees stand tense and lonely,
And spread a hollow moan of other times.

You will be you yourself,
I'll find you more, not else,
For vintage of the woeful years.

The sea breathes, or broods, or loudens,
Is bright or is mist and the end of the world;
And the sea is constant to change.

I shall not wonder more, then,
But I shall know.

Flying by

In case you haven't guessed from the recent lack of posting, it has been quite hectic here the past few days.
We are pretty "birthday-ed" out at this point, though Jo's "kid" party on Saturday was a lot of fun for him and for me.

Mom helped out with the games and decorations, drawing a pretty good rendering of a heifer for a game we called "brand the heifer on the hinder." Kind of like pin the tail.
It was a cowboy themed party, and guests were given cowboy hats, bandannas and sheriff badges when they arrived.
Daniel played the part of the Indian.

They also had to "guess how many cowboys and Indians are in the mug?" when they came in the door.
We started off with some cowboy grub: franks and beans and chips and watermelon.

After lunch, it was time for the games.
Mom rounded the kids up, and first they had a scavenger hunt. We had hidden cowboys, Indians and horses all over the house and the kids broke into two groups (the outlaws and the posse) and went a-hunting.
The team with the most acquisitions at the end won.
There was "snake bite", like hot potato, but with a rubber snake. Whoever was left with it in their hands when the music stopped "got bit" and "died" in a heap on the floor. I think "dying" was more fun than winning in this one, (except for those few boys who just hate to lose).
"There's a snake in my boot" was a game in which the boys had to stand behind a line and toss small toy snakes into a pair of cowboy boots.
And there was a horseshoe toss. The kids got two tries to get the horseshoe into a hat.
Last was the "brand the heifer" game.

It was pretty cold on Saturday, so all the games were indoors, which was not what we were planning on, but it worked well.
After games, Jo opened gifts, and then we had cakes in a jar and root beer floats in cowboy boot shaped mugs.
It was tiring and a lot of work, but so worth it to see Josiah all lit up with excitement. We have never done a big party like that for him, so it was about time.
We also got the key to our new house on Saturday, so Mom, the boys and I took a ride out there in the dusky evening and let ourselves in and looked around without a realtor.
We just sat on the floor and let the kids run all around the empty space.
It is so peaceful there, and whenever I am there, I love it more and more.
Sunday was a beautiful day.
Daniel seems to be taking to the pasta tradition with relish! (Not pasta with relish. That would be gross!)

Had friends over and went to look at the new house with them after dinner.
After that it was home to homework and baths and family time.
Yesterday, we started ripping carpet out and peeling wallpaper off at the new house. My deepest thanks to our good friend Mike, who is there helping, and is walking us through the process of picking out flooring, etc.
There is quite a bit of work to do there, more than we expected, I think, which is usually the case; but when it is done, it will be wonderful, and it will be our space with our touches.
Meanwhile, I still have much packing to do.
Life seems to be flying by, at this point. This is not something I like, particularly when I think that soon, Isaac will be 10, Josiah is 6 and Daniel is just two months shy of his first birthday!!
The other day, I was sort of grumbling as I toured the house, picking up toys, stepping on legos, peeling half chewed Cherrios from the carpet.
"I hate this mess! There are toys everywhere in here!"
Joe was working at the computer and looked up at me.
I sighed.
"I know, I know," I said.
"One day, I will be wishing I was picking up toys . . ."
"You will," he said.
We are probably right.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Playing catch up

I have not been feeling well the past couple of days, and opted for sleep over blogging the past two nights, but now I am ready to play catch up and fill you in on the goings-on.
Wednesday, Josiah turned SIX!!!
The celebrating began in his kindergarten class, where he had a class party.
There was cake and chocolate milk and balloons and I read Cowboy and Octopus, a hysterical story about an unlikely friendship.

This year, Josiah is into cowboys and horses, so that is the theme of the celebrations.
After school, Jo opened gifts from Joe, Isaac and I. He got an MP3 player, some books about horses and drawing, clothes, a Star Wars Lego set, a dragon kite, and horse riding lessons which will begin in May.
Patty, mom, Joe, the boys and I went to the Deli at Jo's request, but I was feeling so sick, I went back to the truck and slept. Bummer.
After dinner, we went home, and got ready for homegroup -- I went to sleep. I understand there was a celebration for Jo then, also.
He had a good day.
The birthday festivities continued Thursday night at family dinner.
We had his favorite meal, pasta fagoli! (It's one of my favorites, too!)
Then he opened gifts from MeMe and Grandpa.

It was pretty extreme -- skateboard, helmet, knee pads, roller-shoes!
He had a blast trying everything out. He is a cautious kid, but once his tests his limits, there is nothing he will not try.

Today, we are taking a little birthday break, but tomorrow he has his "friend party".
The theme?
Cowboys, of course.

The story of Josiah . . .
It was a Tuesday, April 9, 2002, when I began to feel regular contractions.
I was a warm day, a gorgeous day, and I had been vacuuming when I doubled over and thought, excitedly, "I think this is it!!"
I wasn't sure, because I didn't really feel contractions with Isaac. My water broke with him and it was too early for him to arrive. His birth was a completely different experience from what was about to happen.
My doctor and the hospital I was going to use for Josiah's birth was a 45 minute drive, so I called my doc and asked if I could come in and get checked. He agreed it would be a good thing to do.
I was three weeks early, but Isaac had been 61/2 weeks premature, and I knew early delivery was a possibility for me.
Joe and I took Isaac to grandma and grandpa's and went to the doctor's office.
When I got there, the news was stunning. I was dilated to a 5 and 80% effaced.
The decision was made to admit me and get the ball rolling, so to speak.
Joe and I went over to the hospital, got admitted and I was taken to a delivery room where they broke my water.
Jen Forbes, Patty and Emily were all in the room with us while I labored, but only for about 10 minutes.
At my first strong contraction, Jen began to cry, and the girls were led to the waiting area. Josiah was on his way.
The anaesthesiologist was called and I was given an epidural.
Joe and I laughed and talked and held hands, waiting to see our new little son. It was exciting, and relaxing.
Then, the nurse said, "I'll get the doctor. You are ready to push."
The doctor came in and three pushes later, there was Josiah, so beautiful and wailing his head off.
It was 4:20 in the afternoon when he arrived.
I always say having Josiah is the easiest thing I have ever done, and it is true.
I was allowed to hold him for a while, but he was so upset at being out in the cold, harsh world, and he was taken to the nursery to get washed up and tended to.
Joe went with him, overseeing his care.
After a time, Joe returned and said they were going to keep Josiah in the NICU for observation because it looked like his nostrils were flaring and they wanted to make sure he could breathe.
This was scary for me because Isaac was in the NICU for 2 1/2 weeks while his lungs developed and he could breathe on his own. It was a terrifying time for Joe and I and I did not want to relive any of it.
Finally, at 10 p.m., they wheeled Josiah into the room in his little bassinet, and he was snuggled warm in his blankets, sleeping peacefully.
I've done this three times now, and each time I was handed one of my sons for the first time, a sense of overwhelming joy and awe came over me, and I cried and laughed and just stared at him for the longest time.
There were a faithful few there, waiting it out to see Josiah. Micah and Patty and Jen and Emily. They were some of the first people to meet him and hold him.
And that is the story of how Josiah came to be a part of our family.
To me, Josiah is a quiet storm, generally laid back, but with passion that resides deep in his soul. He is tender and gentle and full of compassion. He is a very selfless kid. He is a helper. He is brave. He is a little lion cub.
Well, maybe not so little anymore. . .

A poem for today, and a little history

The Red Wheelbarrow

by William Carlos Williams

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white


I love this poet, and this poem.
He was from New Jersey, and was the
OBGYN at the hospital
where I was born,
Patterson General, in Patterson, NJ.

Williams died in 1963.
The doctor who delivered me was his replacement.
I like to think of it as my near brush with literary fame.
It's a stretch, I know.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"A cup of coffee, a donut, and you . . ."

We woke up to rain, rain and more rain.
Patty and I went to Starbucks today for the promotional coffee giveaway.
Daniel tagged along.
To get the word out about their newest brew, there were free tall "Pikes Place Roast" for all who were at Starbucks between 11 and 11:30 a.m.
It was quite good, a medium blend, very smooth and not too weak, as I was concerned it might be. I would definitely drink it again.
They also gave away tiny donuts from their new donut lineup. They were okay, but not very much like a donut; more like a small bunt cake.
It was the right kind of day for a trip to Starbucks, for some hot coffee and sweets.
Apparently, others we know thought so too.
We saw Kate there when we arrived (she was, as always, studying), and the high school girls showed up with Mrs. Boswell as we were leaving.
I love coffee!
Tomorrow, Josiah will be six.
SIX years old!!!
I remember his birth like it was yesterday . . . but I'll write about that tomorrow.
Right now, I'm quite tired.
Must be crashing from drinking that coffee!!

A poem fitting for today

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Langston Hughes

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My poem for today

I Ask You

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside--
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it's all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles--
each a different height--
are singing in perfect harmony.

So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt--
frog at the edge of a pond--
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches.

Billy Collins

Snips, snails, puppy dog tails . . .and frogs, of course

We had some friends over today for Sunday dinner, and the boys and their friends were down by the pond at grandpa's, frog hunting.
Isaac caught all the frogs today, I think four in all.
I loved watching them slog around at the waters edge, hovering over the rippling water, up to their knees in rubber boots, excitement in their eyes, their voices over the fish and tadpoles and small frogs hopping all around.
Isaac kept saying things like, "Okay, it gets deep right off the edge here, so proceed with caution." or "There are snake holes over there, so proceed with caution."
"Yeah, cede with caution," Josiah would echo him.
They were having serious fun.
Daniel watched them too, yelling to them from the backyard, wanting to be with them messing about in the mud.
Soon enough, my son. Soon enough.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Beautiful day

It was a gorgeous day!
So warm and sunny. It is hard to believe that yesterday, we were freezing!
Woke up this morning and made some apple cinnamon muffins for breakfast, then got ready for a morning of shopping with mom.
We dropped Josiah off at grandpa's, since we were shopping for his birthday, and Isaac, Daniel, mom and I hit the stores.
Little man Jo will be six next week. When did that happen?
He is having a cowboy birthday party. He loves cowboys and horses. He does not come by that naturally. In fact, I have no idea where that came from. My husband and I are city folk. I should have guessed we were in trouble when we took him for shoes one day and he fell in love with a pair of cowboy boots he just had to have. He wears those boots all the time!! This is a kid who doesn't even like shoes most days. He is too funny.
I have some great party ideas (well, my mom does, really) and will blog more about party prep later.
I found some nice strawberries. I love strawberries. I love to wash and hull and cut them, standing at the sink, looking out the open window, handling the ripe red fruit. There is an earthy sweet smell to strawberries.

After shopping, we split up and mom took the boys to a birthday party while Joe and I visited friends. We discussed flooring for the new house, and just hung out. We had a great time. And the coffee was killer!
We had chocolate mint brownies! Yum.
Our friends said they are so simple. Just add pieces of Andes mints (chop them up) to regular brownie mix, and you have a pan of chocolaty, minty goodness. Again, yum.
The boys played together when we got home. Isaac discovered he could hang from the basketball hoop after dunking (they were playing with a football, trying to sink it, "killing two birds with one stone," as Isaac put it. Where did he come from?)

We had a late dinner and Isaac had some studying to do.
By the time we got baths and had devotions, it was later than I wanted it to be, but the boys are all asleep now, and, as always, I should be.
After Daniel's bath, I had to take pics of his hair! It is so curly. He is my curly headed baby. I thought they would all have curly hair, but each of them has hair that is so different, it's crazy. They are all so handsome, though.

This passage was from our devotions this evening. Sometimes we read from a great little book called God's Words of Life for Kids. It has topics, like "Being Thankful", "Forgiving Others", "Giving to Others", "God Saves You", "Loving God", "Loving Others", etc.
Each topic has about 15 scripture references that pertain to it, and then there is a short devotional reading about that topic and how to apply the scriptures to your life. It is really neat, and great for kids. Easy to understand and not too long.
Tonight's topic was God Shows You What To Do. Here is a passage from it that I loved, and I will leave you on this note:
"Suppose I were to rise with the sun in the east and then cross over to the west where it sinks into the ocean. Your hand would always be there to guide me, Lord. Your right hand would still be holding me close."
Psalm 139:9-10 (NIRV)

My poem of the day

~My poetry pick for today is dedicated to my sons, Isaac, Josiah and Daniel, my little men.~

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Barefoot Boy
John Greenleaf Whittier

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy --
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art -- the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye --
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

O for boyhood's painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee's morning chase,
Of the wild-flower's time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the groundnut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape's clusters shine;
Of the black wasp's cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of great hornet artisans! --
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy --
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

Of for boyhood's time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel-pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard-trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

O for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread --
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O'er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs' orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!

Cheerly, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison-cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt's for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil.
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldest know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

Friday, April 4, 2008

My son won a medal!

Tennis time again today.
Isaac and Colton played doubles. They lost their first game, but won their second, to take third place over all in junior boys doubles, and earning a bronze medal. I am so proud of him.

Jo, Daniel and I camped out in the truck again when Isaac wasn't playing.

It was another cold, cloudy day, but I was thrilled to see Isaac play. He made some great shots, and though he has trouble serving sometimes, when he was on he was on.
I found out that I am indeed still a rowdy sports mom.
I always think I will be quite and demure and clap in all the appropriate places, and somehow it slips my mind when I see my kids in action. I clap, I yell, I jump up and down.
Standing out in the cold for the second time this week has taken a toll, though, and I am feeling rather ill this evening.
I did manage to make celebration fare, however. These "Bronze Medal" ice cream sandwich cookies were easy because I cheated and made them with pre-packaged Toll House cookie dough.

Now, the boys are snug in their beds and I am going to settle down on the couch with tissues and Vicks and watch Becoming Jane before turning in for the night.

Celebrate Words!!

I carried my life, like a stone,

in a ragged pocket, but I

had a true weaving song, a sly

way with rhythm, a healing tone.

- Jay Wright

April is National Poetry Month. Celebrate by signing up for a daily dose of poetry throughout the month here.

Today, I celebrate with my favorite poem. What's yours? Post a comment and share.

The Waking by Theodore Roethke
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The cruellest month

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, 1922

April is the cruellest month because it can give you a beautiful, sun-warmed day and then the very next day offer a gray clad sky and a wind-chill that can rival the deepest of winter days.
I think it is "cruel" because you are so ready for warmer weather, for bluer skies and lighter clothing, for open windows and outdoor walks.
And you get tastes of these things.
There are days so perfect in their Springness, that you think, "This is it. It's really here!"
But then, a cold snap, a spring rain, a late snow.
And it seems there may be one of those wonder days nestled into long stretches of rainy days, and not just rain, but downpour grade stuff.
You've heard the poem . . . "April showers bring May flowers."
It's true.
Without all the rain, there would be less vibrant color, and less true appreciation when those endless sunny days begin to arrive.
But those things make it no less cruel.
Today, I was tired, and not feeling too well.
This is the result of spending the entire day outside yesterday on one of those cruel April days.
The boys are all sniffles and coughs too, as they generally are this time of year.
Tomorrow is another day outdoors, and the forecast says sunny but cold.
Today was uneventful, if living this wonderful life -- breathing, every moment a gift, each next moment holding every possibility, -- could be considered uneventful.
Daniel tooled around school in his walker today, visiting classrooms. It is so funny to see him walking the halls, "talking" to the kids.

Josiah drew a picture today of himself and Jesus. He was so happy about it, and showed it to everyone.
Isaac made his own comic strip. It was really quite funny, and he is a great artist. He has been reading a book that we took out from the library on art.
It's Thursday, so we had family dinner.
We were joined by Doug and Denise, Christian and Edine.
Good times.
Good company.
And great food.
Grandpa, as always, put on a spread. And he made a gorgeous apple pie among other delectable desserts for the occasion. The man is the best chef/baker I know. Bless him a million times.

Afterward, home and baths and sleep.

And I will rest too, now.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety. (Ps. 4:8)