March 30, 2016

Fingers Toes and Dedos - A Teensy Graphic Post

So there we were, in the middle of Tymon's English class, learning about units of measurement and the appropriate use of "how much" and "how many" when one of our friends asked me to come outside. 

Jocelyn was hurt. She'd been running around and then all of a sudden her foot hurts. And she bled on the stairs. Jocelyn has NO idea if she ran into something or what. She just knows that no one else stepped on her and she wasn't climbing where she shouldn't have been. So weird.

We had walked to church so one friend drove us home and another told Tymon that we left. It took me a while to be able to clean up Jocelyn's foot enough to figure out the extent of the injury. Was just one toe bleeding? Or two? Did her nail pop off? I just didn't know.

In fact, just this afternoon, when we cleaned it out again, did I realize that she got cut right above her toenail. And I repeat, this is all a mystery to her. Crazy. She's a trooper for pain, though. Doesn't really complain. Jocelyn told her brother that I said she was brave. Yup. She proved that in the dog bite incident.

So after I put my wound care stuff away, we had family scriptures and prayer. It should have been bed time, but I looked into the kitchen and saw the mountain of dinner dishes that had been skipped because we had soccer (the boys) and English class at the church. I asked each of the family members if they loved Jocelyn. Everyone said yes. Then I asked them to help her do Jocelyn's chores, which were the dishes and counters.

We worked together in the kitchen for half an hour. Everyone helping. It was the best family work experience we've ever had. No whining. No complaining. Just showing Jocelyn that we love her.

After we were done with dishes and counters and wiping cupboards, I showed my kids photos from my trip home a couple of weeks ago. They loved the stories I shared. I told them of the work party my siblings and I had with my parents. That we each contributed to the best of our abilities. No one was upset that someone else wasn't doing their share. No one whined or complained. We just worked. Together. And it was wonderful.

Serving Jocelyn showed the boys that not only is it possible to work together and not fight but it's actually enjoyable. They were kind and thoughtful. It's not always like this. In fact, most often it's not. But this time it was. And it was wonderful.

March 20, 2016

Working Together

I went home last week. My myself. To do taxes. And meet up with my siblings to help my parents get a few things accomplished. The week passed quickly. I don't think I slept more than 5 hours each night...because there's no time for the frivolousness of sleep when each day is packed so full.

My brother picked me up from the airport and we went to my office to find a box that would fit my Vitamix...which was really the most important of my plans that needed to be set in motion as soon as I arrived. The UPS guy told me it'd take three days to get to Nevada...which meant there was no way Vitamix would get the package in time to check out my blender and send me a new container.

My siblings and I haven't been alone with our parents in decades. Yes, we've all been together, but always with other people around, including our own families. It was like a step back in time for me. When I was a daughter instead of a mother. I think the best part about being together was the way in which we worked together.

Nowadays, when my children have chores, I'm faced with near constant contention.  Everyone's into everybody else's business and keeping track of who's worked the most and who's not doing their jobs. I ask for peace, but often add fuel (think raging blow torch) to the flames and make a bonfire.

So here's the down low. Our parents have collected more than 40 years worth of who-knows-what in their home. It's a lot. I'm pretty sure an episode of Hoarders could be made there. We joke about bringing in a dumpster and my dad gets panicked that we're going to throw out all of his stuff. And we tell him that we'd like to work with him so that we can find out what family history items are there.

My brothers had a plan when they came over Friday afternoon. I had arrived Wednesday and when we pulled into the driveway that night there was a 2-3 inch deep puddle the size of a car where they usually park their car. So I called the gravel company and had them dump 15 yards (17.000 Kg) in the driveway. My parents had been out that afternoon worried, I'm sure, about what we were doing. We worked all afternoon and evening to get that gravel spread and to fill in the holes that caused big puddles. We also cleaned up the junk storage along the perimeter. They were so surprised. And pleased.

So, my brothers have some muscle and were able to move the wheel barrows around to dump gravel where it needed to go. I can shovel gravel from a pile into the wheel barrows, but often if I try to move them, I'll tip them over five feet shy of where they should have gone. My sister has some wrist issues and doesn't lift very much at all. So instead of doing what we did as kids by wanting everything equal and fighting to make it so, we accepted where we each were at and focused on what we could each do. While I was filling wheel barrows, my brothers were cleaning junk and my sister was raking gravel. Then my brothers would move loads for me. We worked so well together. I loved it. It's the first time we've ever been all together at the same time doing a project like that. Of course we all work together in the driving school, but this was different. It was truly a labor of love.

It gives me hope for my kids. Someday, I hope sooner than later, they will figure it out. Just like my siblings and I did. We can do amazing things together when we play to each other's strengths.

I was disappointed to be leaving without my Vitamix and was making arrangements for our eventual reunion when my brother called me the afternoon before I left and told me UPS had just delivered it. YES! The only problem was that my suitcase was full of stuff from my shopping my basement. We left a lot of stuff behind. Stuff that I like. But stuff that we didn't have room for. So I repacked a few items. Dropped extra stuff back to my basement. And found myself in possession of two suitcases packed to the limit and a 45 pound carry on.

As luck would have it, my first flight was totally booked and they asked for at least 15 passengers to check in their carry on luggage. I had been nervous about lifting the bag...I mean I had to make it look easy, right? Ha ha. But it turns out there is no weight limit for carry ons (on United anyway) and so I volunteered. So glad I didn't have to lug that around.

And we're back into smoothies! Vitamix is awesome, both the products and company. And no, I don't get paid to say that. Though I wish I did. Today we had a guava lime smoothie. So good. I'm going to have to try that combo again soon.

March 10, 2016

Slept On The Floor

I think I was three when I started bringing my blanket to the kitchen to wait for Dad to come home. He worked late and when the house was quiet I'd sneak out of bed and go lay down in front of the refrigerator.

The fridge had a couple of things going for it. First, there was a vent under the door that blew out warm air for a few minutes several times each hour.

Second and equally important, the fridge is located in the path of the back door, so when Dad got home, if he didn't see me, he would sometimes trip over my feet when coming into the house.

I'm not sure what I liked more, waiting on a chilly night with warm air blowing on me or the snippets of time with my Dad before he carried me to bed.

Sometimes my siblings would want in on the action. I didn't like sharing my space. Sharing meant I wouldn't always get to be right next to the vent. And the comfort seeker part of me craves that warmth. 

One day we got a new fridge. I'd never been so disappointed in my short life. The new fridge blew out cold air. What?! If I were making a fridge purchase at that age, a warm air vent would be first on my list of necessary features. I tried to not let the cold air bother me. I tried bringing extra blankets. I tried to like being cold. I just couldn't. My days in front of the fridge waiting up for Dad were over. 

Some people say that when God closes one door, he opens another. I'm my case God one upped the fridge with the furnace. This grate can fit four feet touching it. It has a better and longer lasting air flow. It's perfect, really. 

Making the discovery that our dining room furnace vent easily adjusts so a blanket can be attached to the top of it changed my life. No longer was it necessary to hold my blanket over the vent, which can get tiring. But in this new situation I could hunker down, pull the blanket in close around me and still see the blanket billow around my direct line of the pure unadulterated free flowing warm air. I'm pretty sure this is what's it's going to be like in my comfort seeker's heaven.

In high school, the dining room vent became my go to spot for after school naps. And for those days when I was in the despairs of menstrual cramps, the vent would assuage my pain while I waited for ibuprofen to kick in. It inspired many a homework assignment and numberless books were consumed next to it.

I slept on the floor last night. By choice. In the dining room of my childhood home.

I slept on the floor last night. I'm not stiff and my back doesn't hurt.

I slept on the floor last night in the clothes I’d put on the day before in São Paulo. Because the thought of removing them sent shivers down my spine.

I slept on the floor last night. With an afghan, a comforter and a quilt trapping the furnace's warm offering.

I slept on the floor last night. With warmth and comfort and memories, my inner-child in the old family home.

I slept on the floor last night snuggling with the dining room furnace vent.
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