Sunday, July 22, 2012

Family Leave

"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own', or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life—the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one's 'real life' is a phantom of one's own imagination." --C.S. Lewis, from a letter to Arthur Greeves, 20 December 1943

I love C.S. Lewis. He hurts my brain sometimes, but that's just growing pains. And never do I appreciate his genius more than when I'm in some kind of crisis.

My father was very recently diagnosed with cancer. This has, of course, thrown my entire family into a state of such crisis. At the moment, as we wait for more test results, we find ourselves in a state of anticipation of crisis, more than actual crisis itself. We are bracing ourselves and trying to plan for what could be ahead without having much of an idea of what really could be ahead. But we know that the truly trying days are to come.

I suppose many families are complicated, and mine is a fine example. Our dynamics are going to make what would no doubt be a difficult situation for anyone into a complex, nerve-shredding ordeal tailor made just for us. I think it will be dealing with those that will be the most exhausting and overwhelming. But they are what they are and there is nothing to do but to simply deal with them as best we can.

I read the above quote several days ago and it has stayed with me. And every time I feel the desire to escape from reality and give up before I've even begun, the quote pops back into my consciousness. Sure, things are going to be hard, painful, overwhelming, horrifying, stressful, confusing, bitter and exhausting. But this is life. This is where God has brought me and He makes no mistakes and will never desert me nor forsake me. He will sustain me and make me more like Him. I know that.

But I still have to act. And while I realize that my life can't and shouldn't go on hold because of Dad's illness, my life does seem to be particularly busy right now. Field hockey season (never for the faint at heart) is about to begin. Redheaded Snippet is poised to embark her Senior year of high school. I am looking for a part time in order to help with the bills we're struggling to pay and send Calvin to private school in September. And if that doesn't work, I'm probably going to be homeschooling. And I can't help but think, "how on earth am I going to take care of my home, run the children to school, practices and games, be more involved in church like I wanted to, cherish my husband, preserve my marriage, work part time or homeschool AND take care of my parents?" I am ready and willing to do my part to honor my parents and care for them in their time of need, but I am a little unsure of exactly how to go about doing that.

I have a feeling I'm going to have to learn to prioritize and reprioritize. And, right now, one of the few things that can obviously be moved down the list is this blog and my computer time in general. I don't want to close it down, as I do anticipate being able to come back at some point and be active again, but I'm fairly certain I won't have much time and energy for it for a good while. I may be able to pop in now and then for a quick update and I will be able to check up on all of my favorite blogs thanks to my phone, but posting and commenting will probably be rare.

So, I'm officially on hiatus. I will miss posting recipes and photos of food, PHFR Thursdays and redecorating for the seasons, but duty calls and family beckons. And I must answer. I'll be checking in and I hope you will be, too, and I'll even go so far as to ask you to keep my family in prayer, if you are so inclined.

Until we meet again...

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Summer Fun Edition

round button chicken
Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter
*Note: You'll notice, no doubt, that some of the text of this post is highlighted in a white background.  I have absolutely no idea how I did this and don't know how to fix it!  I apologize for it and hope it does not drive you as completely insane as it is driving me!  Alas, time to redecorate for Summer anyway...*

I posted all about my sisters' visits in my last post, but reserved some of the best shots for todays PHFR.  Weeks with the family are perfect fodder for pretty, happy funny and real!

Pretty.  I mean, seriously, is she not?
Sweet Pea
I seem to spend 93% of my time with this child chasing her with a camera, trying to capture her little elfin qualities.  And this time, I succeeded, thanks in part to Dharma distracting her by, no doubt, making some ridiculous faces (judging by the slightly amused, slightly suspicious look on her face)!

I really dislike combining but I can't help it this time: Pretty AND Happy
Fidget and Redheaded Snippet
I've said it before and I'll say it again: peas in a pod, these two.

Rosebud, Sweet Pea, Calvin, Fidget and Little Man
(Almost) all of the grandchildren/nieces and nephews/cousins.  The next generation minus one.  Redheaded Snippet was at home doing her online Spanish course.  I know!  In the Summer!  And, NO, it's not because she failed something.  She's taking it early to get it out of the way, poor thing.

Happy AND Funny
Little Man and Rosebud
The chocolate goatee just kills me.

Happy AND Funny
Fidget and Dame Agatha Christie - yes, that's the dog's name
We've always told Mom we'll know the time is right to put her in a home when she starts dressing the dog.  But she insists it doesn't count if it's to amuse the grandchildren.  We'll see...


A leeeeetle too much sugar, perhaps...


The Viking on his whirlwind tour of the downstairs with the pool raft (NOT a giant's large intestine).  This photo tickles me because it looks like he's trying to run out of the frame like he's ashamed to be seen with it!

Dad, Lobelia, [Calvin], Sweet Pea and Lenny
I was trying to catch a few nice shots of Lenny as he was tending to Sweet Pea.  Lenny is in seminary right now so we haven't seen much of him lately.  And I almost never get shots of him here on the blog.  I was going to delete this photo when I spotted El Bandido, the outlaw photobomber.  He found a gold belt last used for Redheaded Snippet's Cleopatra (of the barge) costume and managed to rig it with Nerf darts like a bandolier.  He wore that thing all dang day.

Funny and there seems to be a theme with this boy

This morning I was startled to see this slowly approaching me when I looked up from making the bed.  His love of empty boxes knows no end.
Real (and Happy)

With two extra children, both preschoolers, in the house, things were understandably a little less tidy all week.  There were usually toys everywhere.  And on Saturday when we added two more young children and NINE more adults, it was hard to find any empty spaces at all.  This was the couch in the living room.  And I believe this was right after one of our tidying attempts.  This was as good as it got.  But it's all good because a couch cluttered with toys means there are several jolly children lurking about!


Ok, bear with me, I know it's hard to see.  This is more of the aftermath of the sisters' visits.  We had opened a large can of peaches for a snack for the children and then, in our hurry, put the opened can in the fridge, intending to dump it into a more appropriate container at a time when there weren't 19 people all crammed into my medium-sized house.  And, of course, we forgot.  And then everyone went home.  And the next day, I managed to knock it out and all down the front of the inside of the fridge and the outside of the freezer door.

What. A. Mess.  That's my attempt at capturing the peach syrup coating the front of the freezer door (my freezer is on the bottom).  While not as impressive looking as 10 lbs of flour or two dozen eggs, it was still a formidable task.  Calvin came running in when he heard my small shriek of horror and said, "Oooooh, that's gonna take a LOT of vinegar spray!"  And he was right.  The stuff had gotten into the stretchy, elastic stuff that surrounds the doors and the freezer door was REEEEEALY hard to open at first!  But I managed.  And then I texted Dharma about it and she said she was soooooo glad she wasn't there to share my pain and we had a good laugh.

So what have you found to be contented about this week?  Join in and do tell!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Why I'm too tired to be patriotic

We usually have a pool party/cook out/barbecue at our house each year on Independence Day. I prefer to use the title of Independence Day instead of saying The Fourth of July because it seems more intelligent and, really, I'm rather a snob. But anyway...

We usually have a gathering. We have a pool and a big yard and quite a nice grill. And, weather and borough budgets permitting, we have a fireworks display within walking distance. When I was young, Independence Day meant an all-day, whole-family blow-out extravaganza. And when I say whole family I mean WHOLE FAMILY! Mom is one of seven and all of the aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins and several family friends would all descend on whichever location had the biggest pool and the most parking spaces. There was a no-holds-barred softball game, pool games including volleyball, basketball and chicken fights, and back yard games like Red Rover, Baby in the Air and even Capture the Flag. And after fireworks, we went back to the house for dessert and Jeopardy, Murder, Spoons, and Guggenheim (a game very similar to Scattergories). We did the same thing on Memorial Day and Labor Day.

As time passed and the extended family grew and became restructured, our gatherings changed. We still have the big blow-out reunions every few years (still with games) but now our Holidays involve mostly my extended family and not Mom's. We're a smaller, less manic group and so we usually stick to swimming, fireworks and games back at the house in the evening.

But not this year.  We're just plumb tuckered out!

We were treated to an unexpected visit from Dharma and the girls last week!  It all started with a casual comment after a glance at the calendar (as in, "You know, next week is wide open, it's a shame you can't visit, " " that you mention it, I think we can!") and one thing led to another until Presto!  They were here!

It is always fantastic having all four sisters together with all of our children.  We are so blessed to have them all get along so well.  These photos are from an afternoon spent at the local water ice stand.  We adults just sat around shootin' the breeze while the children ran themselves in circles, laughing and shouting.  Somehow, we had the entire place to ourselves!

It's not Summer until someone winds up with a shockingly blue tongue!

We spent every day trying to cram in as much togetherness as possible while also trying to keep everyone fed and meet the demands of friends and other relatives who were hoping for visits.

And, of course, there was the horrible heat wave to contend with.  We were among the fortunate ones who did not lose their electricity.  We had a contingency plan in place for such an event (basically sleeping on the first floor and spending the day in the pool or in the mall) but, thankfully, we didn't need it.

But even the heat couldn't make our spirits wilt!  We played outside when we could, we did a lot of swimming, we went to the movies (on the worst day) and we went to the beach!

And when we needed to stay home and rest, Calvin very obligingly made tents for the younger kids that were perfect for lying in and reading or just playing quietly.  They always got knocked down, but he just kept making them again.  I wish I'd gotten a photo...

And when all else failed, we could always try dressing up the dog!

Saturday was Redheaded Snippet's 17th birthday.  And as there were more family members than usual in town, her party kind of swelled into a bigger event than we had originally anticipated.

So we cleaned the pool, washed and dried extra towels, cranked the AC way down (or is it up?  I never know), set a few fans in strategic places around the house, and stocked several coolers full of ice and drinks!

And I'll tell you what: any stress involved in the planning of the day was well worth it when I looked out the kitchen window to see dear ones gathered around, laughing, splashing, relaxing and enjoying one another's company!

The Viking had me puzzled for several minutes as to why he was walking all over the downstairs carrying this large pink thing resembling the large intestine of a great beast.  He was puzzled as to why I was taking pictures of him and giggling.

Of course!  It's the raft for the pool (also known as Cleopatra's barge)!  He was looking for a patch and then re-inflating it for the kiddies!  That makes a lot more sense, though I do think the idea of it being a monster's large intestine has a lot more scope for the imagination.

All intestinal jokes aside, the party moved along very smoothly (tee hee).  No one got hurt, despite the incredible heat and the even more incredible fact that REDHEADED SNIPPET IS DRIVING NOW!

That's right.  THIS girl.  Is allowed by law to be in control of a moving vehicle.  First ObamaCare and now this.  We're doomed.*

Anyway, all this to say that our week was wonderful but a little tiring, especially at the end.  And the last thing I want to think about right now is filling our house with people again so soon.  And so we're just keeping things very low-key for this Independence Day.  I know, I know, what if Paul Revere, John Hancock or Thomas Jefferson had been "too tired"?  How would history have been rewritten if the Minutemen had just decided to take it easy?  I get it!  We are terrible, terrible patriots!

But we can only do so much!  We have an incredibly busy few weeks ahead and won't be able to accomplish any of the very important things that need to be accomplished if we don't take a bit of a breather.  So that's what we're going to do: slow down, take it easy, catch our breath, and, yes, okay, probably grill a steak and light a sparkler or two.

Happy Independence Day!  God Bless America!

*What do you think?  Too political?  Too important to be flippant?  Ah well, LET FREEDOM RING!