Archive for Inspiration

The World Keeps Spinning…Gardening through Grief

Sometimes, it just feels dark.

Sometimes, it just feels dark.

I haven’t blogged for a while. It happens. I feel like the month of March was a dream. I was busy before then, and I am busy since, but March fell off the calendar completely and I am still trying to catch up. That is what it is like when you lose someone close to you. You wake up one morning and step outside and see the world has moved on and you wonder how that could have happened. Mentally, it is the end of February and I am getting ready to sprout seeds indoors and planning my garden. But in reality it is nearing the end of April, it’s past my plant date for cool crops, and my yard is completely covered with dandelions. It is time to pull spring and summer clothes out and I can’t figure out where the sunshine is coming from. Death can be so disorienting.

Many of you know I lost a close friend, more like a sister really.  It was a hard process, to say the least.  A roller coaster of ups and downs. We thought we were on the verge of miracles several times, but in the end, my sweet friend had to leave.  It is a moment I now store with my most sacred of memories.  I am still processing.  I miss Angie.  There is a hole in the universe.

I have hesitated to start blogging again. Besides being really busy, it feels as though writing again is admitting that I have to move on. I have been doing so much for her, before she passed and since, as a way to hold on.  Writing is something I do for me. So it feels wrong. Can’t time stand still, just while I catch up? Can’t the world stop spinning while I try to figure it out? I considered just not writing at all.

Damon helps me dig the dirt.

Damon helps me dig the dirt.

You (my loyal blog who chronicles my life without flinching) may remember when I lost my Grandpa.  I described the process of taking the news in while hauling load after load of dirt to my garden.  Without even thinking about it, I ordered another load of dirt the day after Angie’s funeral.  I was anxious to get moving again, after a month of holding my breath.  I needed to be moving, because sitting meant tears.  I didn’t realize what I’d done until I found myself once again, mourning and mulling as I hauled load after load of dirt.  Apparently, dirt therapy is cleansing.

It was different this time though. Rather than a wistful look down a long life and a peaceful goodbye (Grandpa was nearly 90 and anticipating his reunion with his sweetheart), I threw each shovelful of dirt with anger and resentment. She was 32. She left behind a sweetheart. And a little boy.  And all of us.  She left things undone.  We still had so much on our “list of things to do.”  Her story was supposed to end differently!  Anger takes a lot of energy.  Luckily, so does hauling dirt.

The work doesn't stop at the little purple barn!

The work doesn’t stop at the little purple barn!

Gardening is a good outlet.  Funny thing about the stages of grief, you don’t check them off in an orderly fashion, you cycle through them repeatedly. Just when I think I am through anger, a trigger will have me up in arms again.  Attacking a bed of stubborn weeds, hauling rocks or blowing up gopher holes with gas bombs has been a productive channel for all that energy! I am sometimes overwhelmed with emotions…my little patch of earth seems to be able to absorb it.

Not only is my yard taking my blows for me, but it has retaliated with comfort, understanding and even encouragement.  I am not in any way ready to move on or forget. I don’t believe we have to. I look around my yard and see that life is not designed that way.  I see my goji berries waking up from their winter slumber, stretching their vines like my arms in the morning. I can see they are ready to pick up where we left off, ready to grow bigger and better.  I have a few bulbs here and there spraying flecks of color in my barren front beds.  Glad I took a few moments to plant them last year!  I can see my raspberry canes are bursting out of their borders, ready for me to transplant them and spread the bed farther down the fence.  My yard is inviting me, begging me to keep doing what I started.  Not to start new, but to continue the journey building on what we’ve already done. It’s trying to tell me something.

At first, after losing a loved one, I resent the memories I know I will inevitably make without them. I can hear Angie laughing at jokes I haven’t cracked yet. See her at birthday parties, taking pictures of candles my kids have yet to blow out.  But, as I shovel more and more dirt, my anger dissipates, and I see that memories aren’t merely past tense, but the foundation of future interactions: seeds planted in my character.  I see that although my mind can hardly recall moments before Angie was in my life, I won’t have to carry on without her.  I will be harvesting laughs, love, and lessons from our friendship for as long as I carry on.  In fact, whisperings, dreams, and inklings convince me there are still new experiences here and now to share with my friend.

Since Angie passed, I have hauled dirt and rocks and pulled weeds. Battled subterranean vermin and planted seeds. I’ve drawn plans for new beds and priced projects I’m dreaming up. I even ordered beehives.  There is always too much to do at the little purple barn!  At first it was a great distraction. Then it was a way to blow off steam.  Now it is helping me lift my sights once again. Each green shoot is a reason to hope tomorrow is going to be better. Each seed planted is setting my sights on harvest time.  Everywhere I turn, there is life unfurling…wild and weedy.  Gorgeous and giving.

There are days when you just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head.  But no matter what emotions flood over you, even if your world seems to have stilled, there is just no stopping life.  And though I am still not full speed ahead, the garden beckons me to get my feet back under me, get some dirt under my nails, and get moving. Take the memories I treasure most and plant them….share them….let them grow.  They still have so much to give!

The light will always come.

The light will always come.

I am still grieving. I don’t think it ever ends. I know in my old age I will still nurse a twinge for a girl who left too soon.  But now when I throw shovels of dirt, I am burying bitterness. When I pull weeds, I am making room for gratitude to bloom. Tears still fall, but smiles grow from them.  I am gardening through my grief.  I recommend it to all you with broken hearts and heavy loads.

Tonight, I am thinking how thankful I am that my world was shaped by such a friend, that roots were laid from which I will benefit all my days.  I am grateful the sun shines even when I feel dark. I am grateful that rain makes the flowers grow.

Angie was an original LPB fan!

Angie was an original LPB fan!

Love you Angie. Thanks for a lifetime of memories, for all the laughs, and for always believing in me.  And please, stop by and see my garden!

 

 

 

A New Year: A New, Unstoppable YOU

Welcome to the new year, your best year yet…the year you are unstoppable! Here are my thoughts on getting geared up to build your own dreams in 2013.

To all those with self-defeating dialogue in your heads–a new year has begun! You know what I am talking about, the internal voices that say “you can’t…,” “you shouldn’t…,” “you’ll never…,” or the classic “it doesn’t matter.”  What do you think you could do if you shut down all the naysaying in your head? My guess is….a lot! For 2013, how about ringing in the new year by shouting out a loud, resounding “Stuff it!” (Except the voice that says, “You’ll get arrested”….you can still listen to that one.)

Cycle of self defeatThe Cycle of Self-Defeat:

I tend to ride a continual cycle of inspiration, motivation, elevation…then deflation and resignation. Why? I don’t know. But I am sure I am not the only one.

Let me illustrate: Little Purple Barn took me a long time to launch. The voices telling me not to were so much louder than the one saying “go for it!” Why? I have a binder stuffed with pages of brainstorms, rough drafts of blog posts, sketches for projects. I have more than enough brain fodder to keep my fingers flying over my keyboard for months. If I typed every night instead of sleeping, I still wouldn’t have time to keep up with the topics that fascinate me. Just this last week, I wrote down tag lines for posts on:

  • foraging and wild crafting,
  • raw dairy,
  • sugar-free challenges for children,
  • trail mix recipes,
  • jerky recipes,
  • Tomato powder (summer in a jar!),
  • my superfood collection,
  • Go-Go soap making (a recipe I dreamed about with Goat milk and Goji berries in it!)
  • reducing waste,
  • a comedic sketch of public restrooms,
  • movie reviews of 6 different documentaries,
  • principles of edible landscaping,
  • a feasibility sketch for family sized solar power,
  • perennial vegetables,
  • sprout cookies,
  • sprouted flour,
  • and a draft for a DIY fitness program that could replace your gym time.

And it’s a holiday week! I drift off to sleep at night with project ideas spinning in my head. What on earth would make me hesitate to launch?

My passion is sustainable projects, things that involve my family, heal the earth (or at least relieve some of the burden) and improve health. It is a wide niche I’ve discovered and I find more and more to embrace around every corner. So many things to try! So many things to research! So many things to aspire to! I found something to be passionate about.
So why would these voices tell me not to write, not to share, not to talk about all these things? Why would they point out that a million other people have done it better, longer, and with credentials I don’t possess? Why would these voices tell me I am wasting my time and yours?
Like I said, I don’t know, but no good will come from it.

And so I say to them “Stuff it!”

I feel better already.

Scarlett O'Hara says do it!

by the way, if you have this movie memorized, you can be in my best friend club. :)

Now, instead of a frustrated year of writer’s block, I get to turn my passion into a website…a blog to share ideas, victories, and even failures. A place where people can share ideas and encouragement. I get to explore endless topics of things that light me up, things I think can help improve quality of life. 2013 unfolds with endless opportunity to learn and teach my kids at the same time. That sounds so much more fun than resignation!!

What are your voices telling you not to do? What is holding you back? What do you want? This new year, tell your critics–inside your head or out–to stuff it. Then get moving! Here are some tips to get the positive voices talking louder than the negative ones…

CommunityFind a community.

Whenever I get discouraged thinking I can’t have an impact, I look online or visit with others and find out I am not alone. All across the globe, people are working to make their part of the planet better;  the effects ripple, resonate, vibrate worldwide. Somewhere, someone loves to do the same things you are passionate about. Find them, let them inspire you. I love Facebook for this reason.  I put a call out for help and suddenly, people from around the world are offering their best advice.  Don’t miss out on the Purple Barn page (ahh, a shameless plug) It’s a fun place to pick up some tips or share your own.  The more the merrier!

Talk to strangersTalk to Strangers.

You hear so much on the news of horror and hatred (see my post on Sandy Hook), but I find a simple discussion in the check-out line or at the post office is enough to reaffirm my faith in humanity. I have met kind, intriguing people in the most random places. Shout out to my favorite Denny’s waitress who has been off sugar for a year and lost 60 pounds! She makes me feel like maybe I am not crazy to sweep the white stuff out of my pantry. Shout out to my new friend Marty, who gave me a crash course on solar panels and taught me about the ancient origins of soap making, all while in line at the NPS store. I bought two feed pails for my goats, but came home with so much more! When I start to feel disconnected or fearful, I find a simple smile and “how are you?” are usually enough to turn it around. (Except for the occasional run in with grumps, like the Uterus Hater at Trader Joe’s lol)

Teach your children wellTeach someone.

When I start to feel my passion fade, or my enthusiasm wane, the quickest way to reignite it is to share it. It’s like that old familiar charge you got in grade school on show and tell day. Grinding sprouted wheat may start to feel mundane until I start telling someone else about the live enzymes, the vitamin C content, the full range of exciting micronutrients and reduced gluten content in sprouted bread. Or the tediousness of reusable lunch-ware might get to me until I explain to one of my kids where plastic bags and forks end up, or where they came from. Then suddenly, it is once again an honor to scrub crusty peanut butter out of a Tupperware. You can’t light someone else’s fire without fanning your own flame as well.

Positive self talkPsych yourself up.

There is a lot of support, encouragement, and motivation offered in others, but ultimately it comes down to you. One of the biggest reasons I blog is to keep myself excited about sustainable practices, to keep myself accountable for my actions (hard to order at McDonald’s after a blog post about factory farming!) And even on the occasion that people mention I’m making too much work for myself (what, you don’t milk goats twice a day?), I am too far out there (you’ve never eaten a mealworm, really?) or I’m just plain insane (no, I don’t drink diet anything), I let it roll off knowing I can slow down and worry about it or I can go to bed spinning with more ideas for exciting new adventures. Yeah, I know which one sounds better to me!

 

Whatever you’re gearing up to do…good luck! May this be your best, bravest, greenest, happiest, most productive year yet!

Happy 2013

 

A Call for Action After the Connecticut Shooting: PRAY

Makeshift memorial at Sandy Hook Elementary

‘Flowers, stuffed animals and baseball hats are among items left at a makeshift memorial at the Sandy Hook Elementary…ABC News

There are a lot of voices on the internet right now reacting to the tragic events of 12-14-12. The shooting in Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary school affects us all. Interesting how grief is expressed in so many ways. Some voices are soft and sad…others are loud and abrasive, screaming out blame or courses of action.  Gun control: some say “Take away the guns!,” while others say “Give the teachers guns!”  Home schooling*: I have heard the ridiculously smug statement “you see, this is why I home school” as if those grieving parents should have known better than to trust their children to caring teachers and administrators…even the ones that died protecting their students! Media: I have heard slams against the media for sensationalizing the violence. This could be true, and yet, when I first heard glimpses of the story on social media I ran (clicked frantically) to every news source I could think of to learn more…more…with tears streaming down my cheeks…more!

What are the answers? Each of those topics could be explored endlessly, with spokespeople screaming blacks and whites and answers entangled in infinite grays. There is much to consider and much to be done. However, for the here and now may I offer my humble opinion? Let us pray.

Whether you pray to God or Allah, to a being or a higher power; if you connect to your consciousness or a universal force…..whatever you call it, PRAY.

PrayerSome call prayer antiquated, or superstitious hopefulness.  I exert that prayer is powerful and timeless, even essential.   I believe in a loving creator who listens. I believe in 2 way dialogue, that answers will come. I believe there are legions of angels with healing in their wings waiting to be called down.  I believe prayer is how we call home.

What do you believe?

Whether or not you believe someone is “on the other end of the line,” consider the effect prayer can have.  If only for the positive energy generated by elevating and focusing collective consciousness…what power!

Lake Powell, Utah.  300 miles from SLC

Lake Powell, Utah. 300 miles from SLC

A few years ago, a dear family endured a tragedy.  On a trip to Lake Powell, their four-year-old daughter went missing.  A drowning? An abduction? For days, no one knew and our community held its breath…and prayed.  This story does not have a happy ending, per se.  Her little body was recovered from the depths of the lake.  From this heart wrenching experience, I took many sacred lessons. One was of the power of prayer.  I helped communicate with the media in the days of searching.  Some wondered if this was prudent or insensitive.  At the funeral, her father gave thanks for the media.  He talked of the hours after the story first aired.  He said in the midst of his personal nightmare it was like a wave of love hit him…the energy and well wishes of strangers…the prayers of those whose heart went out to him and his family upon hearing their story.   He said it was undeniable. And though it could not erase the pain, he marveled that it had such power to sustain him when he had no strength left of his own.  There is no way to quantify who or how many prayers were offered, but the effects were felt by those most in need.

Prayers of others saved me on a dark rainy highway.

Prayers of others saved me on a dark, rainy highway.

My own life, I am convinced, was saved one dark and stormy night when I literally changed my course due to an unexpected gift: a vision of those praying for me.  Their love and concern gave me resolve when I had none of my own.  Whether I deserved them or not, the prayers of others were my saving grace that evening long ago.

I know prayer is power.

Countless numbers prayed when news of the horrific shooting hit. What if they never stopped?  What if, worldwide, we joined in prayer? What if we continued to pray for all of us?  Instead of saying “this world is a dark place” “there is so much hate in the world today” “this world is scary” we would be living in a different world entirely. Instead of a world of strangers, some so very dangerous, we would live in one where we all prayed for each other.

Prayers from our little piece of the world to yours. May angels attend grieving hearts everywhere!

Prayers from our little piece of the world to yours. May angels attend grieving hearts everywhere!

In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conneticut tragedy, let us pray.

  • Pray for the father wondering how he could have protected his child.
  • Pray for the mother aching to tuck her baby in once more.
  • Pray for siblings, grandparents, friends.
  • Pray for the school staff in shock, that must somehow go on functioning, educating, and building futures.
  • Pray for the first responders at the scene. They have to live with those images.
  • Pray for those with mental illness, that they might find peace.
  • Pray for those struggling with anger, violence and hate, that they might find understanding, compassion, and healing.
  • Pray for the community, that they may come closer.
  • Pray for the fear to turn into resolve.
  • Pray for all of us, that we might love more.
  • Pray for peace on earth, good will to men.

Then, may we all get up and make it happen.

God bless!

 

*In light of some confusion, let me say that this is not a statement against homeschooling. It is a great option and I have great respect for moms that do it.  This statement was inspired by comments in a forum along the lines of “this is why I home school. It is the parent’s sole responsibility to keep their kids safe so I need to have a close eye on them.”  That is both impractical as a solution for senseless violence and not feasible for many parents.  My apologies to the homeschool moms that were offended by my statement.  I should have clarified earlier.

101/1001 Challenge: Are You Game?

the 101 in 1001 challengeA lofty goal, some fancy numbers, a challenge….

I imagine anyone crazy enough to “homestead” is also obsessed with learning, progressing, improving, and pushing to the next level. After all, why strive for self-reliance if you aren’t reliable? If you aren’t swimming, you’re floating downstream.  When I found this challenge on another homesteading blog, I was immediately intrigued.  A challenge to get more done, be better at what I do, accomplish my goals…I am game!

I love check lists. They show off accomplishments and there is nothing like the relief of checking a task as done (especially for a dirty chore like barn mucking!!)  So, though I usually fail miserably at new year’s resolutions, an elaborate checklist with a lengthy timeline seems much more doable for me.

So here is the break down:

You have 1001 days to accomplish 101 goals.

Big or small, local or global, deep or shallow…the goals can be whatever you deem important. Requirements?  Goals need to be specific and measurable; they should be realistic while still stretching your limits.

That’s it folks. Roughly 2 ¾ years to build character.  This challenge is not new.  It first caught my attention on an awesome blog, The Lazy Homesteader. My gratitude to whoever originally kicked this off.

Doing the challenge is one thing, but posting it?  I mean, why let you all watch me fail?  It is almost like double daring myself.  With a little pressure, I am more apt to go for it.  What do I have to lose?  If I don’t check them all off, will my barn fall apart? (well, actually it might. Siding is on my list.) There are risks I guess, but what a motivator, what a way to keep myself accountable!

How is this different from my list of 99 things? As fun as that list was to compile, it was done in hindsight. This is a chance to proactively bring the change I want into my life, to rise to meet challenges I determine.  To add more chocolate into my diet.  mmmm.  What were we talking about again?

I love the deadline…far enough to be flexible, but soon enough to feel real. What will you be doing in just under 3 years?  I want to be looking back and saying, “whoa, I did all that!”

So I am extending the challenge to you all (or should I say y’all? I do own cowboy boots now.) Write your own list. Have your family help.  Post it somewhere you will see it everyday. Review it every week.  Sunday seems a great day for that! If you blog, post a link to your list in our comments so we can check it out.

With each accomplishment, cross one off and do a little happy dance. Even better, post your achievements on our Facebook wall so we can get jiggy with you! I would so love to hear what you are working on! I will update you on my list as well.

To make it even easier, here is a link to figure out your finish date. Post your date on our wall and I will send out monthly check up emails!  Also, don’t wait to start just because you can’t think of 101 things. You can finish your list as you go. Or do what Anisa (the Lazy Homesteader) did, add “finish the list” to your list!

To give you ideas, my list is posted on its own page here on the site.

Check out my 101/1001 2012 list!

My date, starting from the day I wrote this post, is

Sunday August 12, 2015

 

Wow, imagine that. My oldest daughter will be 11, my youngest 6.  The Mayan calendar will be long obsolete and according to Marty McFly, Damon will be riding a hoverboard.  And I will be loving my little purple barn.  Oh wait, I already do!

Cheers!

 

A groovy reminder to write goals that will make you happy!

 

 

Sorry, I lost my voice….My break from blogging.

Is it April, really? I mean, I had a new year’s resolution to blog more often and you’re telling me it’s been 3 1/2 months since my last post? Wha?
I have pondered my blog-dom and wondered what would possibly keep me from the beloved annals of whereverthere (I have always wanted to use that word in a sentence.)

Writer’s block? Nope. I have pages of scrawled notes and post-its of things I intended to write.  Such never-read favorites as “Walking Dead Man’s Party” and “the Day we Ate the Easter Bunny.”

Too busy to write? Nope. I am, in fact, ALWAYS too busy to write but that never stopped me before.

Lost my limbs in a tragic tubing accident and have postponed blogging until I become proficient at nose-typing? uhh…nope.

Though I stammered excuses to the maybe 2 people who asked why I wasn’t blogging, I didn’t have a good answer.  Then, I finally figured it out…I lost my voice.

This may not be my most adventurous of posts, but I imagine other people out there have had this happen so I decided to explore it.

Have you ever stopped doing something because you knew you weren’t the best at it? Because you thought it didn’t matter to anyone? Because so many other people did it that you figured you wouldn’t be missed or even noticed?  Have you ever dismissed your thoughts as tiny and unoriginal? Have you ever thought your life was so small and ordinary that no one would ever want to read about it? Or hear about it? Or own your action figure? Okay, getting off track.

I was literally talked out of blogging by a little voice inside my head.  I cringe to think of all the other projects/paths/accomplishments that voice has persuaded me to abandon.

I serve in the young women’s organization in my area (my favorite place to serve!) and get to know the youth pretty well. They call me spider legs. Compliment? We spend a lot of time trying to instill in the girls a sense of their worth and divine nature. We invest much thought and prayer trying to figure out how to prepare them for their dazzling futures.  Sometimes, as a youth leader, I feel so focused on their potential, their possibilities, that I end up feeling like the discounted loaf of wonder bread…a little past my date.

I don’t think it is unusual to feel incredibly ordinary, uncommonly common. To feel a little passed by, like you could have done more or been more.  I wonder if this feeling is an everyone thing or a stay at home mom thing. Or a me thing.

I stopped blogging because everything I started to write screamed at me that it had been done before and been said better by someone else. Probably a lot of someone elses.  I told myself that it was arrogant to think any of my little misadventures deserved the time it takes to be read, let alone the time it takes to write. I told myself I had too many other things to do that were more practical. I kept telling myself it didn’t matter anyway.

But guess what?  It did matter…to me!  I would never say this out loud, but I love to write! Even just writing those words makes me nervous because I can feel expectations hanging in the air.  But there it is.  I love to write.  It makes me feel good.  It helps me process things.  It commemorates moments, moments that may not be earth shattering but that nonetheless make up my life.

So there,” I told that little voice.

How can I tell the youth in my ‘hood how valuable and infinitely worthy they are if I give up on myself so easily! I once cynically said that all I did was encourage young women to grow up to be women to encourage young women.  I hate it when that little voice leaks out of my own mouth as sarcasm.  What an awesome thing to grow up, to survive the perilous gauntlet of adolescence and be able to share some survival tips! What I have to realize is that it doesn’t mean my journey ended.  Quite the opposite! I read back over my old blog posts and realized how much learning I did in JUST ONE YEAR!  How much more do I get to do in the future? Writing helped me shove that little voice. And amazingly, for all the CS Lewis, Mother Theresa and Parade Magazine I read, it was MY writing that did it!

I often get lost in other people’s projects. This is not a complaint. I love that I have an interesting resume made up of other people’s visions. I get to play a part in their adventures.  And then there are my projects, built to help shape and strengthen my family.  Little undertakings, like, you know A BARNYARD!!  And our whole food lifestyle. And my family itself!  I am passionate about these, it is true.

But blogging…see that is just for me.  I wish I could say I had an epic novel on the horizon (congrats to Charity, by the way, on the upcoming release of her first book!!!)  I wish I wrote a column in a credible publication of some kind.  But every time I hit “publish” on a blog post, I get a tingle of accomplishment.  I wrote SOMETHING.  Isn’t that what writer’s do?

So brace yourself, little voice; my intense red-headed mommy voice is much louder than you, just ask my kids.  I am telling you to shut it. I don’t have to be the best or the most original. I don’t have to rock the blogosphere. I just gotta be me. Ahhh…at last something I am the best at!

Peace, Love, Carpenters…deflecting a tantrum with song

Am I the only mom who wants to push pause and walk away from my kids sometimes?

What I don’t know about parenting is astounding.  The challenges are constant.  Lately, Shea and I have been praying, begging, discussing, strategizing, and endlessly pleading for ways to deal with a particular recurring behavior in our home: tantruming. That is not even the exact word for what happens. I don’t want to name names, because Damon (7) would feel bad in twenty years when I read this at his wedding, but one of our children is driving us crazy.

I have mentioned before that Damon is shy, thoughtful, smart, witty, and sensitive. But take that last adjective and multiply to the nth degree, and that is where the meltdowns occur.
When he gets upset, offended, discouraged, or contradicted he can dissolve into tears faster than Julia Child on an onion rampage. And for some reason, when his eyes are dripping, his ears disconnect and you can neither reason nor comfort the man child. He can pout for lengths of time that would impress Guinness Book editors and sometimes the crying is accompanied by flailing and grunting. It is seriously intense and unnervingly frequent.
It can happy instantly–anytime, anywhere.  You have to be so careful not to trigger a meltdown. You even have to watch how you structure your sentences.  For example, if Damon asks for ice cream and you intend to say, “No, you can’t have ice cream right now, but after dinner you can have a 6 scoop extravaganza on a sprinkled waffle cone with cherries and sparklers on top” he will be on the floor in tears before you reach the comma in your sentence and his brain just locks down so that finishing the good news would be futile.

I am sure some of you reading this are abounding with sound, proven parenting strategies to help us. We have tried so many approaches, and to be honest, we usually try one or two techniques before reverting to yelling at him in our own parental version of a tantrum. As you can guess, not too effective. It is so hard to be patient the billionth time a behavior occurs!

So the other day, I was fixing dinner and Shea had just arrived home; the cycle of meltdown had already begun. I can’t even remember what set him off, but Damon was being obstinate and pouting in a corner of the family room, huddled and grunting his whiny “uhhhh” anytime we tried to coax him out. The stage was set for a scene rehearsed hundreds of times, one that always ended in frustration and resentment. But this time something else happened.  Be it inspiration or temporary insanity, what burst from my mouth was not a reprimand but an off-key musical querie:

Hey Damon…Why do birds suddenly appear…every time….you are near? Just like me, they long to be CLOSE TO YOOOoooooouuuuuu. (close to you).

Karen probably rolled over in her grave if she heard our rendition.

To my surprise, Shea didn’t miss a beat but jumped right in with the appropriate echoes and asynchronous harmonies to go with my over-dramatized, off key melody. By the time we hit the “Waaaaa aa aa aa aaaaahhhh close to you’s” we were full out broadway quality, or at least enthusiasm.  The volume could have carried halfway down the block.  Passing neighbors probably stared at our house and quickened their step.

Damon at first reacted with shock. Then his firm downward scowl began to twitch at the edges. His expression changed.  His eyes always start smiling before his face catches up. Then he crumbled. Laughter replaced protests and all the other kids were dancing around. Shea and I looked at each other and just laughed.  We both sing pretty horribly (shea is far less tragic than I), but that only made the scene more entertaining.  Instead of a yelling match followed by a chaotic dinner, we had a light hearted family meal with cheerful banter.  Thank you Karen Carpenter.

Where did that come from? I don’t know. I can’t remember the last time I even heard that song. But I think shouting matches might be replaced with cheesy serenades more often.  Hey, we are desperate enough to try anything. My favorite is when my little Becca (5) asked if I wrote that song. “Why yes, yes I did. Your dad and I just came up with that” and I left her there standing in awe. It is fun to be me sometimes.

On a more positive note (do you get anymore positive than a Carpenter’s song?), I have to show you Damon’s Halloween costume. It was instant crackup to anyone he approached. It was all his idea, which makes it funnier. Here you go:

Wise beyond his 7 years. heh heh

The best part is, we shaved him Saturday night for a neighborhood Trunk or Treat, but he had to keep the ‘do until Monday for the actual holiday. So yeah, he wore that to church. I told Shea he should have taken him to high priests (the class for, um, more mature men in the ward) but Damon proudly wore it to primary. Love that kid. When he is not an impenetrable, illogical ball of tears and tantrum, he is pretty charming.

 

99 New things I tried this year.

So, this is officially the 99th post on Whereverthere.  How bout that?  To commemorate, I made a list of 99 things I have tried in 2011 for the first time.  It was a challenge.  I wonder if it is possible to keep up the momentum and try 100 new things every year.  I tried not to list individual foods or every person I met, that would be too easy.  What are some new things you have tried?

Here we go:

99 things in 2011

  1. Blogged.
  2. Bought a camera so I could blog.
  3. Owned, held, or otherwise had any contact with a chicken
  4. Cleaned chicken poop out of my van
  5. Ate farm fresh eggs
  6. Tried straight, raw goat milk
  7. Became a regular shopper at Cal-Ranch and IFA farm stores
  8. Watched Shea baptize my daughter…my oldest turned 8 this year (the age LDS children are baptized) and I was touched and surprised by her understanding and her heart.
  9. Gathered in one place with all my siblings and cousins as adults. (It was supposed to be for my Grandpa’s surprise birthday, but his funeral arrived first.)
  10. Ate raspberries from my own patch.
  11. Wore the bottoms off my favorite snakeskin Doc Martens. I thought those things were eternal.
  12. Grew tomatillos
  13. Grew more than 5 tomatoes. Way more.
  14. Installed stock fencing.
  15. Saw a gopher up close and personal, and waged war on their sorry species.

    #15 the enemy is among us

  16. Dyed a goat beard pink
  17. Started a worm farm
  18. Potty trained the last of my 4 kids, making me diaper free for the first time in 8 years!!!
  19. Milked a goat. Actually became good at it.
  20. Skyped…I know, I am behind the times
  21. Took a Mom & Me swimming class with Zaida
  22. Woke up to the sound of my own rooster. Wished it had a snooze bar.
  23. Ran/speed walked a 5K: the dirty dash. It should count as 5 items, because I have never done a 1K
  24. Started a garden…in my house! Had fun sprouting over 100 plants from 20 different species.
  25. Made homemade jerky…it was gone way too fast
  26. Shaved a goat’s butt
  27. Designed a logo

    #27

  28. Ate 2 large pizzas in a pizza eating contest against Shea and 10 teenage boys. Shea ate 3.  I came in second. Didn’t know I could do that.
  29. Though I wouldn’t say I hate cats, we have never been friends until I needed a mouser for our farm. We now own a cat that doesn’t chase mice, but I LOVE her.
  30. Raised chickens in a window well
  31. Cleaned up after baby goats were born. (Can’t say I delivered them, as the process was pretty well automated.)
  32. Went rock hounding in the desert with the kids…found apache tears and chiseled out lemon opals.
  33. I Fly indoor skydiving. Wahoo!
  34. Learned to make wheat bread with no white flour in it
  35. Offered testimony before city council. Scared me to death. Worth it though, as the animal zoning law was changed in our favor, allowing us more than double the animals we could have when we first moved in.
  36. Had the all-you-can-eat French toast breakfast at Kneaders.  Life changing.
  37. Posted an ad that said “Kids for Sale.”  Sold off our extra goats.
  38. Mucked out the goat shed, discovering the most powerful stink on the planet.  Even now, “I’m a survivor” by Destiny’s Child plays in my head when I think of it. Ew.
  39. Roofed a barn. First time roofing anything. Thumbs still intact.

    #39 Wearing my princess of power shirt for luck.

  40. Got my first new, not hand me down, computer.  Shea pulled my 27” apple mac out of the box and I asked where the rest of it was.  I couldn’t comprehend no tower.  Blink Blink
  41. Perfected the art of noodle-less veggie lasagna.
  42. Temporarily ran a petting zoo…that’s what it felt like after the baby goats were born.
  43. Learned that Jackass penguins are a real thing. This is only significant because it is the first argument I ever lost against a 6-year-old. Surely won’t be the last.
  44. Bred rabbits. (why do they say that? They do it themselves. I pretty much just matchmade)
  45. Wired a ceiling fan all by myself.
  46. Painted a fireplace
  47. Gave a goat a beer. Had goaty beer foam blown back in my face.
  48. Skinned and cleaned rabbits.
  49. Tried Bodyrocking…interval training on the internet…and got hooked. Will post more on that later.
  50. Taught a Sunday school class of only boys; first time I have been around that many teenage guys since high school drumline!
  51. Gave up Dr Pepper….for a record 6 months so far!  My heart still pines!
  52. Tried Spirulina crunchies, aka freeze dried algae, and loved it.
  53. Had sushi in San Diego with my dad. I have been trying to get him to go for sushi with me for years!
  54. Started juicing and drinking green smoothies regularly.
  55. Styled my hair in a beehive. Talk about back combing!
  56. Learned I look like Peg Bundy when I take my hair out of a beehive.
  57. Put a feather boa on one goat and a bow tie on the other. Had to dress them up for family pics!
  58. Ate raw food for a month.  Eating only raw food for even a day was a first!
  59. Began teaching myself web design.  Online tutorials, manuals, and trial and error. Mostly error. Thanks Dean Householder, Internet guru, for bailing me out several times!
  60. Tiled a backsplash.
  61. Stopped going to the gym. Haven’t been all year. Not once. That is a first in a long, long time.
  62. Dug for trilobites in Delta, UT with the kiddos. Actually found some!

    #62 prehistoric fun with the kids

  63. Took online courses from nicolesclasses.com  I can now bumble my way around Photoshop and Illustrator.  Hope to take more.
  64. Painted a barn…purple.
  65. Baked a goat cheese cake.  Never used goat cheese in anything desserty before.
  66. Looked in my deep freezer and found that 75% of everything in there…meat, veggies, and fruit…was grown in my own yard. Yay!
  67. Painted over a cockroach. (Not at my house, at an apt renovation I was helping with.) ew.
  68. Took my goats for a walk. Thanks to the Bach family for loaning me a couple of dog leashes.  (blog post soon)
  69. Went on a field trip with my 2nd grader.  Found out I need to get babysitters and do that more often.
  70. Broke a piñata in the rain…don’t do that, it ruins the candy.
  71. Ate a bacon maple sundae.
  72. Bought a walker. Fortunately I don’t need it to walk, I use it for dips and reverse push ups.
  73. Went three months in a row without my back going out.  That is HUGE for me.
  74. Cleaned up graffiti.
  75. Sampled chocolates from around the world and offered my “expert” chocolate opinion to a friend developing a chocolate supplement.  Nice to use my lifelong appreciation of cocoa for good.
  76. Took my kids to natural hot pots in Delta. Thankful there weren’t any nudists there at the time.
  77. Dyed my three-year-old’s hair red. It was supposed to be pink and supposed to be temporary. Oops.
  78. Read The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. Cried my eyes out. Bought 10 copies of it to

    #78

    share with friends.

  79. Sent my third kid to kindergarten and teared up for the first time.  Maybe things were so crazy with the other two that I didn’t have time to be sentimental, but watching Becca leave for school was bittersweet.
  80. Downloaded my Facebook history and read through my status updates for the last 3 years. Turns out, I am pretty sarcastic. Shocking.
  81. Filmed my kids eating worms.  This is not the first time (or last time) they have done this, just the first time I filmed it.
  82. Haven’t watched TV all year.  Never hooked ours up. Hardly have time for movies either.
  83. Left all my kids home while I went to San Diego for 7 whole days. Thanks to everyone who helped make that possible. That is the longest I have been without my babies.
  84. Dumpster dived in Salem to get the massive amounts of newspaper I used in my

    #84 These boots were made for…climbing in and out of trash bins.

    garden boxes. Not the first time I dumpster dived, just first time in Salem.

  85. Read how to sex bunnies. Had someone demonstrate how to sex bunnies. Still can’t tell a boy bunny from a girl bunny if they aren’t fully grown.
  86. Got stuck in fencing and stranded in the snow for nearly an hour.
  87. Dabbled as a real estate agent…showed some houses, wrote some contracts.
  88. Tried to build a rabbit hutch. Bought a used one on KSL Classifieds instead.
  89. Landed at my ideal weight and maintained it…so far.
  90. Met Charity’s awesome hubby. So fun they were able to drop by! Hadn’t seen Charity since Jr. High!
  91. Shared dark chocolate goat milk sorbet with Erika. Hadn’t seen her since college. Good times!
  92. Became addicted to documentaries.  Sigh. I used to make fun of people like me.
  93. Tried to teach my 5-year-old daughter how to pee in the great outdoors. Got peed on.
  94. Showered in ice-cold outdoor showers. Thought I would die.  (Next dirty dash I run, I will pay for the hot water!)
  95. Tried formal wear on at a scratch and dent/surplus store. Nothing like ball gowns in the same building as bargain brand tuna and dental floss.
  96. Launched three different websites, not counting blogs.
  97. Invented peach-chia leather.  Followed by plum-chia leather. Chia and fruit leather, the next big thing I tell you!
  98. Tried to make a list of 99 new things I did this year.
  99. Ran out of things to say.

Ten Years On

Note: Imported from my original blog, “Whereverthere: 3 friends, one blog.” Thanks to Charity Shumway and Erika Edwards for sharing these memories with me!

KRISTIN:  For our generation 9/11 is the definitive “where were you on this day” moment.  Unforgettable, and still unfathomable.   Ten years has passed, but the memories are as vivid as smoke smell.

I was attending school at BYU and had been engaged to Shea less than a week before.  I was

The news played overhead, and our fingers froze mid-action over our keyboards as time stood still and surreal.

driving to work–I had an editing position on campus–and was listening to X96 Radio From Hell in the morning.  Not where you expect to hear serious news.  DJ Bill had just mentioned something about breaking news: a plane crashed into the world trade center.  That is about all I caught and as I walked into work, I thought perhaps some freak accident had led a small time pilot towards a tragic, but minor fate.  I logged onto my computer–one in a line of about ten computers hosting college students doing the same–when the overhead speakers came on, tuned into national news.  In full detail, with no pictures, the story unfolded.  We listened live as broadcasters tried to make sense of what was happening.  We heard, actually heard people screaming.   We heard the second plane hit.  I remember one reporter saying “things are falling from the upper floors, My God! It’s people! People are jumping!!”  I remember time stood still.  I looked briefly to my side to see my coworkers with their mouths open and their hands hovering frozen over the home row keys of their keyboards, like they stopped mid-login to listen.  Then I looked down to see my hands in the same stance.  It was surreal.

I didn’t see actual footage until much later that day.  I didn’t own a TV and caught snatches of coverage at neighboring apartments.  It was like watching a horrible movie.  Surely those were special effects.  The emotions of the day were many and muddled.  Shock. Fear. Horror.  I don’t have to go on, you all remember.  One emotion that stands out is my longing for Shea.  This may sound insignificant.  I was new to the idea that I would be with him forever.  As ecstatic as I was to be engaged (The BYU dream, right?), the Mrs. concept was a little weird to me and hard to imagine.  But as I listened to the incredible news of the Trade Centers, as I imagined moms and dads who went to work and never came home, as I felt the waves of broken hearts emanating from a city so far away, I longed to run into Shea’s arms and stay there. I wanted my family, which hadn’t even started yet, to be wrapped in a protective bubble far away from terror.  Shea was attending school up at the University of Utah, and although he was only a 40 minute drive away, it felt like he was far, far away.  9/11 planted a seed in my heart that day….I hold my loved ones tight and resolve to express my love with every coming and going, good morning and goodnight.

Three days later, on what was declared a national day of mourning, I celebrated my 23rd birthday with my sweetheart.

ERIKA:  In October 2007, my little brother joined me for a trip to New York City.  A major priority for both of us was to visit Ground Zero.  Of course, it was under heavy construction and you couldn’t really get a sense of anything at the actual site.  But I wasn’t prepared for what I would see or feel once we entered the World Trade Center Tribute Visitor’s Center, which was housed in the former NYFD fire station across the street.

The thing is, I was on my mission from 2000-2002, and during that time my access to any sort of media was intentionally limited.  While no one could really escape the tragedy and horror of that day, I had not been exposed to many of the images and stories that came out of it.  So I took in, in one afternoon, what most people had already processed over a period of months or even years.  I was overwhelmed in every way.

At the end of our visit, they gave us each a card to fill out that said,  “Share your September 11th story.  How have you been changed by the events of September 11th, or what action can you take in the spirit of Tribute to help or educate another?”

This was my response:

I was serving as an LDS (Mormon) missionary in Tallahassee, Florida at the time of the attacks.  I saw the second plane hit live on television in a doctor’s office waiting room.  That day, we didn’t go out to proselyte or visit people; but the next day, and for many days afterward we went out, knocking on people’s doors and asking if we could pray with them.

For a brief time, religious prejudices and intolerance were set aside, and we all prayed together.  We prayed for those who died.  We prayed for those who lived.  We prayed for the families of the victims and heroes.  We prayed for the leaders of nations.

We prayed for each other.

CHARITY: In 2001, I wasn’t yet living in New York. I was still in Boston, and I spent the day gathered around the television in a dorm room with friends. Most of these friends were from New Jersey, from a commuting suburb where parents took the train into the city every morning and came home every evening. The night of September 11th, late in the evening after the train station’s parking lot had mostly cleared out, one of these friend’s moms reported that there were still cars — one here, another there, two over by the light pole, another in the back. Terrible, ghostly indicators that the people who left them that morning weren’t coming back for them. That image has always stuck with me.

This weekend in New York is all about remembering. One of the memorials that strikes me as most poignant is an installation in Bryant Park: 2,753 empty chairs. It reminds me a little of that terrible parking lot.

I know how important it is to remember, and I’m grateful that we’re coming together to remember at this 10th anniversary. But I’m also grateful for something else.

I moved to New York in 2002, when September 11th was stills so fresh that there were guards armed with machine guns in all the major subway stations. I used to pass through Times Square every day, and I remember the fear. You’d get used to the machine guns and the searches, and then one day, something would jolt you out of it — like the day I could have sworn I smelled something strange and chemical — and there was that fear again, bristling and almost ungovernable. But we stayed safe day after day. And finally the armed guards left. And now, nearly a decade later, I can almost (almost but not quite) laugh at how scared I was by that smell. (People who are afraid of smells should not take New York City transit).  Almost a decade later, I am very glad there aren’t armed guards in the subway anymore. So while I’m grateful for the chance to remember, to think back and to mourn, I am also grateful that we humans are able to forget. Not to forget completely, but to forget enough to carry on.

Confessions of Food Obsessions: Stopping the Diet Train

     I love food. No secret. Eating out would be my favorite sport, if it was one. Cooking is what I did in college to lure men into my apartment. In fact, Shea’s grandma said it was my lasagna that made him propose. I knew it had to be something. Shea makes fun of me because when I eat something exceptionally tasty, I close my eyes and conduct an imaginary symphony with my hands. It is completely involuntary, I assure you. I adore food.

The skinny on my history

This was well and good in my teens and early twenties, when gaining weight was a mythical occurrence. I once bet a friend I could gain 10 pounds in one month and proceeded to consume epic quantities of cookie dough and fried foods (and fried cookie dough!). My whole dorm of chronic dieters brought me offerings of treats to help me on my journey. On the fated weigh-in day…I had dropped 5 pounds. Consequently, I had to dye my hair green. That went over well at BYU.  Even with hideous hair, I was tall and skinny and ate whatever I wanted.  It was glorious.

Wait, that is the same friend who turned my hair green! We are 18 years old and tackling a 36″ pizza. Happy days.

Then came babies. I don’t have to tell any mothers the things you give up for your kids: sleep, long showers, sleep, bladder control, sleep, quiet time, sleep, extra spending money, sleep, and oh yeah–your metabolism goes into a coma. Pounds cling and waistlines expand. It’s as if your body knows you’re taking a beating and decides to pad you up.
So it was that I entered the diet cycle: lose, eat, gain…diet, lose, eat, gain.  So many of us know the story!   This is actually really hard to talk about.  Weight is a touchy subject.  I have plenty of friends that will yell at me and “tell the skinny girl to shut up.”  But it feels serious. And it is seriously frustrating.  And no matter what your size, if it doesn’t match the image you have in your head, then it is not a happy place to be.

Present day: On the precipice, and the scale

I am at my ideal weight and thrilled to be back in my clothes.  But I did drastic things to get here and I have been here before only to creep back up to where I was.  Before you think that is no big deal, I am talking about 25-30 pounds and 3 jean sizes.  That is quite the sack of potatoes!!

My dirty diet secret

How did I do it?  HCG. It is an extreme diet: 500 calories a day, strictly defined menu choices and a hormone cream.  It works. I took 28 pounds off. I even stopped a little early because I didn’t want to drop too low. I didn’t cheat once.  Not once.  In fact, that little cheesecake fiasco whereverthere had a while back…I had to actually taste, spit, and swish that glorious cake out!  Erika and Charity were frustrated with the process of making it, but at least they got to eat it!  HCG is an insane diet. I did lose almost a pound a day, but would I recommend it?  Ummmm….no. Why? Because, despite what they tell you, it is not sustainable.  How do I know? I am embarrassed to say I have done it 3 times in 3 years and within 3 months the weight always comes back.

Of course it comes back if you pig out and watch TV all day, right? Consider last year’s round: I did spin classes 4 times a week, walked in the evenings, and still gained it back almost as fast as it left! I know this and yet I was so depressed about my weight that out of pathetic desperation, I grudgingly signed up to do HCG again this year.  I cried.  I could hardly admit to people I was doing it yet again.   Something had to change.  This time I studied hard, determined to formulate a plan.

Desperation and Deprivation

So began 45 days of very little food. I used the time to read so many diet and lifestyle books I can’t list them all. I surfed the internet till the wee hours of morning. I watched food documentaries like they were blockbusters. Ask my friends, if I have any left…all I talked about was food.

I even became a food voyeur. While I ate my plate of spinach, I would watch Shea eat the luscious dinner or dessert I had made and say things like, “eat it slower…yeah….that’s right….now tell me how good it is.”

I was obsessed with food.

Eaters Digest: my conclusions

Food is an infinitely complex subject with a million theories and belief systems. “We are what we eat” is an understatement. Before, I ate whatever I wanted but tried to add healthy foods into the mix thinking it would balance out. I exercised as often as I could.  It wasn’t enough.  Now I realize you can’t dump sugar in the gas tank and expect to drive cross-country.  It is as much about what you don’t eat as it is what you do.  So I have made serious changes in what I eat.
I won’t go into details here, because I am already long-winded, but I am cutting out refined carbs, severely limiting sugar, and altogether cutting out trans fat, artificial additives, and high fructose corn syrup.  I am trying to add more whole foods.  I am cooking with butter, but won’t touch vegetable oil or margarine.  It helps that we have free range eggs, raw milk, and are growing a garden.

Bottom line: add substantially more good stuff, minimize or eliminate bad stuff. That is the goal anyway.

     Is it making a difference?  Well, it may be too soon to tell, but I have been off HCG for 1 month now.  If you look at last year and the year before (I meticulously tracked my weight) I would have gained half the weight back by now…seriously! FIFTEEN pounds in a month! More than enough to win my freshman year bet and spare my hair color 6 weeks of mutated humiliation!

Now, I am holding at the weight I ended the diet on.  And consider this: I have not had any time to exercise and I am eating massive quantities of food.  For as much as I tease Shea about his bottomless appetite, I am that way too.  Wow, I just outed myself.  I am just a hungry girl.  If societal pressures didn’t make me go underground with my appetite, I would be a competitive eater on the Food Network myself.
Another surprise, I am really enjoying the new foods I have tried–this from the girl who used to drink Hershey’s syrup from the bottle.  It is a change.  It is like learning to cook all over again.  My coupon shopping has taken a dive (cheap eating aint always good eating).  It is helpful that my family is along for the journey as well.  My kids (mostly) like the veggies I have been fixing and will read labels themselves.  I actually saw Shea turn down a free large soda the other day.  Unheard of!
If you are interested at all in learning more about nutrition, I am listing my favorite documentaries…all available for instant streaming on Netflix. I will spare you the reading list.  I would also love to hear your favorites.

Food Matters; Food Inc; Fat Head (You have to see Supersize Me first to get it); Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead; Ingredients.  I also loved Fresh, Hungry for Change, Gerson Miracle, Dying to Have Known. Forks over Knives was interesting

Stop the Diet Train, I am Getting Off!

I am not fanatical or judgmental.  I still lust after funnel cakes, though most of the junk food cravings are gone completely now.  I still understand that food is how we comfort, entertain, reward and indulge ourselves. I am just trying to find ways of doing those things without punishing my body.  If I gain it all back and more, I will not do a horrible diet ever again. I am learning how to love my body and honor it with food.  I have always believed our bodies are miraculous gifts that can heal themselves if we just give them the tools to work with.  I am finally trying to live up to that belief. I’ve cleaned out my pantry and my junk drawer. I have delved into the ‘health food” genre, and you know what? I love it!

Oops, I just smeared raw almond butter on my keyboard.  Time to hit the kitchen for a napkin…another snack.

Loads and Legacies

maybe my pile wasn't this big, but it felt like it

I had two things delivered to me on Wednesday: Dirt and Bad news.  Can I have more dirt, please?

I had 6 cubic yards of compost delivered to my house waiting for little ole me and my little ole wheelbarrow to distribute it in various places around my neglected half acre. It was a formidable mountain.  I wanted it done in one night.  I wasn’t sure how.

After hauling all day (even with help!), there was still 2/3 of it staring at me and my arms ached.  I was ready to call it a night. Then I got a phone call.

Jim Watts aka Grandpa

My Grandpa, one of those stone statues in my foundation who supports my character and keeps guard of my memories, had been hit with a stroke.  The concept of how an invincible man like my Grandpa—a soldier, a handyman, a father—could end up on his own floor immobile and semiconscious was as foreign to me as Kryptonite.  Certainly, it would take something stronger than that to knock my Grandpa down!

My head was spinning and my heart broke.  Despair and panic mingled with reason and memories flooded over me along with childish hopes and illogical optimism.

Shea and the kids were already tucked in for the night, even though there was still an hour of daylight left.  I was dumbstruck and muddled and overwhelmed with the worst of all feelings…helplessness.  Grandpa was in San Diego and I was here.  I needed to do something.

So I took on the dirt.

Who else would cross the border for a Smurf Pinata? I am the tall kid on the left with the mushroom haircut.

I pulled on my boots and confronted the mountain.  Shovel after shovel and wheelbarrow load after another, I saw images of my Grandpa flash through my mind.  Dump a load…his white hair and twinkly eyes…take the cart back…his bright colored socks…start digging more…trips to Tiajuana where he bought bread that looked like donuts but tasted like bread…digging…him teaching me how to set up a budget…digging…What would he think if he knew I paid actual money for dirt?…digging….He always threatened to lock the door on us when we told him we were coming for a visit…toss another shovel…I was just talking about his next visit out here, what now?…digging…He was going to show me how to fix the sprinklers…take another load across the yard…What about his 90thbirthday party we have planned for June?…step around the chicken poop…I had just called him because I had a chicken with an egg half in and half out. Who else would I call for such predicaments?…Dump the dirt.

The process continued until I couldn’t see anymore.  I realized the sun had melted behind the horizon and the dirt pile was now less than half of what it was.  Once again, Grandpa had helped me tackle a big job.  Still helping me, as I know he will everyday I draw breath.  His advice, his stories, our experiences….will always be there for me even when I can’t call him on the phone or when he can’t pick up the line.

By the way, I have 2 more tons of dirt being delivered tomorrow.

Grandpa, always handsome.

Now it’s after midnight.  Things are not okay, I am still wondering. Still scared, still sad. But I also know I am strong because I come from him. Strong convictions, strong shoulders, strong resolve to put my boots on and keep working.

Grandpa would say “stay sober now” or maybe “what’s a blog?”

I love you Grandpa.  Don’t leave.  But if you need to, make sure to unlock the gate.

Thurday evening: Well done, Grandpa.  I know you are busy dancing with your sweetheart now, but spare a glance now and then and know how much you are missed!  Thanks for everything…xoxo

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