Saturday, September 23, 2017
When I was One,
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Baby wasn't swayed at all by that promise, and after a long day trying every labor and delivery option available, he arrived at 11:02 PM via Caesarean section, and general anesthesia. If you've ever had surgery, you know that means your first meal(s) are clear liquid. Chicken broth. Red jello. Hot tea. Apple juice. Lemon Italian ice. Next meal: Beef broth. Green jello. Hot tea. Cranberry juice. Cherry Italian ice. Five days in the hospital, and I never got my chicken salad sandwich.
Fast forward to March, 1990, and we're waiting for baby #2. Scheduled Caesarean this time, so no empty promises of my sandwich being ordered right after delivery. But this time I was only in the hospital three days, and it just wasn't long enough for the clear liquids to end and the hospital menu to offer chicken salad.
Over the next years, Brian has become quite the chicken salad chef at our house. I boil the chicken, and he picks it. Technically, he hand shreds it, which I think is the secret. I add salt, pepper, chopped onion and celery, sometimes a dash of Old Bay, and just enough mayonnaise to hold it all together. It's not unusual for me to boil 6 chicken breasts, so we enjoy Pa's World Famous Chicken Salad for several days, either on fresh white bread or seeded rye.
Baby #1 grew up, met and married a wonderful girl. On our very first visit to the home of our co-in-laws ( that's really the official relationship, although we prefer 'close friends'), we discovered that co-mother-in-law makes an AMAZING chicken salad. In the past 8 years, whenever we've gathered for showers, birthdays, house moves, or any other large or small event, I knew Cathy's World Famous Chicken Salad would make the day extra special-----and on those moving days it was my incentive to keep working! Hers is always served on tender croissants-----I can taste it now!
It's December, 2016, and 10 days ago I was admitted to a different local hospital for knee replacement surgery. Things have change a lot in 30+ years, and I was barely out of surgery when I was brought a tray of REAL food (truth be told, I was looking forward to at least one of those clear liquid meals----at least for the Italian ice!). Much to my joy, as I perused the menu for the next day, what was available but a chicken salad sandwich! Decision made! It was delicious, and when they asked for my lunch order the following day, it was easy-----repeat! Whole grain bread, perfect lunch.
Yesterday, to my surprise, co-mother-in-law came by with her sister (co-aunt-in-law?), bringing two kinds of soup, rolls, cookies, croissants and chicken salad!!! I can't wait until lunch today----soup and sandwich and cookies!!!! Yum. I think chicken salad may be one of my love languages.
It's only 6:00 AM----wonder if that could be my breakfast??
Monday, November 28, 2016
So THIS week has arrived, the week when I get new knees! I've always had bad knees, creaking and cracking since I was a teenager. In more recent years, it's gotten harder to walk, to stand, to sit, to climb stairs----shoot, most of those are practically impossible now. I've missed out on so many things the past few years, and my quality of life has been affected. It's meant that not only have I not gotten to do things, but often my husband has missed out as well, because he's chosen to stay with me rather than to go and do what his legs are strong enough to do. Three weeks ago I bit the bullet and visited an orthopedist who agreed it was time, and scheduled my surgery for Friday.
I. CAN'T. WAIT.
When people find out I'm doing both knees, their first reaction is usually shock. Then I explain my reasoning:
- I was scarred by having my wisdom teeth removed over three different surgeries----I'm all for "one and done" now.
- I know this is going to be hard, and I don't want to do one knee and then put off getting the second one done.
- I don't want to miss two recovery periods from work. Let's get this all done at once.
Several have asked, "Did you injure your knees? Did you play sports in school?" Oh, that is such a funny one! Ask my brother, who once said as I was attempting to play tennis, that he was going to make a movie about un-coordination, starring me! So no, no sports injuries.
I'm ready. My bag for the hospital is about packed, I've been doing my pre-op exercises faithfully to strengthen my calves and quads, I have a borrowed walker, a GORGEOUS hot pink, roses-covered cane for when I'm progressing, a safety bar in the shower, a new shower mat so I don't fall, and a shower bench. We had taller toilets installed (ahh, should have done that long ago!). I've got projects ready and stored in a chest next to my chair so I'll have things to do, when PT isn't here 3 times a week! I have books downloaded to my phone.
I'm ready. As I sit here at 2:00 AM with a heating pad on my knees, as I have every night for the past several months, I look forward to sleeping pain-free. I know that won't happen immediately, but from everything I've read and heard, the pain after surgery won't be IN my knees. I should be able to feel a difference there immediately. Of course there will be other pain from incisions, etc., but they have good meds for that. The PT's will have me out of bed and trying to walk just a few hours post surgery, and I'm determined to do everything I can at every session.
This weekend we ran a bunch of errands to get ready. We parked close to stores so I didn't have far to walk. In some stores I stayed near the front while my husband went to find what we needed way in the back of the store. I struggled to climb in and out of the car. I strained to stand up from the pew in church. But NEXT week....
Yeah, I know it won't all be better immediately. I realize there's a lot of hard work ahead. But my theme is now "NEXT week." A while back, as our granddaughter was grasping the concept of time, anything that had happened previously was described as having taken place "LAST night." So I'm adapting her phrase, changing it to "NEXT week," to account for all the things I'll be able to do with my new and improved knees.
Knees are mentioned a lot in the Bible, most often as "kneel before the Lord" or "fall on your knees"----just the thought hurts! (till NEXT week....). But I found several other references that fit:
Isaiah 35:3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;
Job 4:4 your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees.
My favorite life passage is Hebrews 12:1-2a:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
As I read further in that chapter tonight (this morning?), I found verses 11-13a:
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet.
I'm ready. We've cleared paths, readied our house, and I'm focused on the discipline it will take, no matter how unpleasant.
See you NEXT week!
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
So, we moved. Everything. All of it. Sorted it, packed it, loaded it, stored it, unloaded it, unpacked it, and (for the most part) placed it. Every single thing we owned. Every one. My mind had been boggled for some time over the fact that literally everything we owned had to be picked up and moved. Think about it! Of course there's the furniture, and the dishes, and the clothes-----but what about every pen, every paper clip, every piece of paper? They have to be moved, every one of them. Ugh.
I planned for this. Every detail (I thought). I orchestrated packing, and Goodwill, and trash events. I figured out a labeling system for the boxes---hot pink duct tape, which just happened to be on the "hurricane preparedness tax-free weekend" when we bought it. I found a website for room arrangements, so I could decide in advance where everything was to go. I designated two closets at the old house for stuff that we would need in the interim, and would travel with us in the cars. I got bottled water for the movers. I had lists, and files, and folders, real and virtual, of all the details. I was ready.
Then the truck showed up. Seemed small to me, but they assured me their best packer was up to the task. Wasn't long before they were agreeing with me. They had anticipated our having about 75-100 boxes to move, and we had about 225. Hmm. So they had to call for another truck. Does that scream, "We have too much stuff!!!", or not??? That's a lot of stuff. Do you have any idea how much stuff is in 225 boxes???
When our first house burned in 1988, I remember being somewhat in shock, but trying to not overwhelm a 4-year-old. For months he had been saying, "I'm afraid we'll have a fire," and we had always assured him we didn't think that would happen, but "if it did, the firemen would come and we'd be fine." As I tucked him into a bed in my brother's house that first night, while the firefighters were still on the scene fighting our fire, I told him that the important thing was that all the people were fine, and that we could get more "stuff." In the weeks that followed that night, we spent a lot of time cleaning stuff, looking for stuff, crying over stuff, remembering stuff, buying stuff, missing stuff, replacing stuff----but all the while realizing it was JUST stuff.
Years later, we were moving from that house to our just-moved-away-from house, and in anticipation of that move, I wondered out loud if we would be happy. I said to Cameron, "What if we don't like it there? What if it doesn't feel like home?", to which he replied, "It WILL be home----we're taking all of our crap!"
A week ago today, the movers arrived at our new house with both truckloads of stuff, and to be honest, probably a lot of crap. But it's our stuff, our crap. As the boxes and furniture piled higher and wider in each room, I wondered if it would ever feel like home, but once they left, we started to tackle it, box by box, room by room. At times, we approached a box, hoping and praying there would only be a couple of large items in it, rather than a box full of knick-knacks. At other times, it was like Christmas, finding things that had been packed away for months, and that we had forgotten we had. But all the while, I kept wondering, "Why do we have so much stuff?"
A friend once visited our house, and commented that she always loved the way everything in our house has significance. I often think of that, and she's right about a lot of it. We have wooden things my grandfather made, oil paint-by-numbers that several grandparents did, quilts made by Brian's grandmother, a collage of leaves from trees we planted in our first yard, a print of a piece of artwork made by Aaron's 8th grade class, another print of Grateful Hill Baptist Church in Jamaica, where Aaron took refuge during Hurricane Emily. We have a printer's tray, full of tiny keepsakes, all of which had significance at some point, although for some of them that significance is forgotten. There's the Snoopy from a pair of sunglasses that spent many months lodged in the cassette player in my car----wondered why tapes wouldn't go in. There are the bells off of both boys toddler shoes, both sets of tubes from Aaron's ears (the Tube Fairy was kind enough to let us keep them!), the plug from the TV that Aaron cut off with scissors as a 3-year-old, a keychain Brian gave me the first year we were dating----lots of memories.
So yes, my friend is probably right, most everything has significance. And as we've found new places for it to reside in this latest move, we've reminisced about that significance. I have managed to come up with one box (so far) of 'this isn't all that significant any more, or at least I can't remember why it was' that we can pass on, but the rest of it stays. (Sorry kids, someday you'll have to sort it all out!)
So, it might be stuff to you, or even crap, but it's our stuff, and our crap, and it's our house, and that stuff and that crap make it our home, and fill it with memories. And I'm just going to go out on a limb here, and guess that we're going to add more stuff, more crap, as the years go on----and we're OK with that.
Come see us----we'll tell you the story behind all our crap and stuff!!
New International Version (NIV)
18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot.19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lotand be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
Monday, July 15, 2013
What a ride. The time between a casual discussion over dinner of "what would it take to renovate this kitchen" to "we need to downsize, find a maintenance free house, first floor master" was less than 24 hours. Then the initial thought of "we should talk to a realtor to find out what we need to do in----say----the next year to be ready to move" turned into trips to Lowe's, Goodwill, the attic, inspectors, repairs, and oh, by the way, wondering where in the world we were going to live!
Our realtor spent about 3 hours with us, telling us what we needed to do to put the house on the market. Everything was built around a target buyer, in the 35-42 year old age range. He told us "they" like Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, clean lines, little color, modern, utilitarian, simple, lots of wood. Hmmm. Our house was more like Target, JCPenny, rounded corners, Williamsburg Blue, antique, functional, historical and meaningful, nostalgic----and with rugs to protect those wood floors. So we changed everything for "them". Rugs rolled up, banned to the attic. Cleared---"edited," he called it----all the personal stuff. Excess furniture stored or donated. Brass fixtures changed to brushed nickel or stainless. Glass globes changed to alabaster---white, not the yellow ("they" don't like the yellow). Red flowers on the patio ("they" like red). The list went on. It took 6 weeks, but we got it on the market, right down to a cookbook on the counter, turned to an Italian dish recipe, because "they" were going to want to cook dinner in that home. We put a bowl---not a basket, because "they" wouldn't like that---of lemons on the kitchen table, so "they" could imagine eating healthy there. We left an open textbook on Cameron's desk, so that "they" would be able to imagine their children becoming great students, and getting into great colleges. We hid tissues so "they" wouldn't imagine having a cold, plungers so "they" wouldn't have to think about those kinds of problems, and even the kitchen trash can, because "they" wouldn't want to see that. We joked about it----"don't leave that out---'they' don't like that," or "Did you put the clothes in the washer? 'They' don't like dirty clothes." Honestly, after all the work we did to get it ready for "them," we had a hard time feeling any fondness for the imagined "them."
But then it was listed. "Lovely Colonial home, great location, excellent school district. "They" didn't like it. "They" wanted a transitional, open floor plan. Then why did you come look at a colonial? "They" didn't like hearing traffic on the nearby road. "They" thought lights from cars entering the neighborhood might bother them. We began to wonder if the right "they" even existed, but after 5 weeks, "they" arrived. Two visits, and we had an offer.
And, I wonder what "they" think of us? The house was so staged, it didn't look lived in. There were no towels in the bathroom, no toiletries on the sink. No dishes in the kitchen sink. No mail on the counter. No laundry baskets. There was next to nothing that said, "a real family lives here, does normal, everyday stuff. Nothing. It was sterile. We cleaned every night, tidied every morning, just for "them"----and I wonder if "they" even realized it, or if "they" thought we were terribly blah and boring. Interesting thought. What of our style was unlikeable by "them"? Was there anything "they" did like? Can't help but wonder. It was our home, and now "they" have the chance to make it "their" home. We wish "them" well.
Monday, July 1, 2013
So let's talk about our homes thus far. Our first was an apartment, and we weren't the only residents. Edgar also lived with us. He was there so much, we named him. We don't know who or what he was, but he liked peanuts, and on one occasion we came home to find that all of our plants had been pulled up by the roots and were GONE. Just dirt remained, all over the floor around the pots, but Edgar had, for whatever purpose, taken every plant. We also were joined by lots of roaches----and I mean lots. We were thrilled to leave there about 5 months.
Apartment #2 had different "features." On day one, we discovered that a plumber had taken a shortcut with a pipe and just soldered over a leak, so that water ran down the pipe, through the floor, and into the kitchen light fixture. Didn't take long for that glass globe to fill and crash to the floor. Hello, maintenance? Winters in that apartment were breezy----you could lay in bed at night and watch the curtains move from air leaks. My father-in-law spent one night with us, and every time he walked past the thermostat, he bumped it up a little higher. Not that it helped!
And then we bought/built our first house. It was only a foundation when we saw it, but we fell in love with it. A Cape Cod, two bedrooms and two baths, with an unfinished attic. Oh, the memories we made there. We brought both of our babies home to that house, and lived there 22 years. Had some of the world's very best neighbors. Part of the memory of that house wasn't pleasant, but bonded it to us nonetheless. Six years after we bought it, and with a four-year-old, it was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire. We stood and watched as the firefighters did everything they could to save what they could, and we spent the next 4 days sifting through the remains to salvage any pieces of our past that we could. Friends stood by us, worked alongside us, and helped us through those horrible days. As the months passed, we watched the house be rebuilt, with changes that made it different, yet better. And we returned---home again. Changed, the house and us, forever.
But we outgrew it. It was oh-so-hard when we decided to leave there----for all of us. But it was time. Only moved 3 miles away, but it may as well have been across country. We've tried to put our stamp on it, making it ours, but as I look back now, I'm not sure it has ever really been "home." Maybe because by the time we bought it one son was in college, and one left for college a few years later. It just hasn't had the family memories that the first house did, or at least not for me. And because of that it will be much easier to leave it.
We found a house. Loved, loved, loved it, but the timing wasn't right. We hadn't sold ours, so we couldn't buy one. We left that showing feeling frustrated, knowing we would have made an offer if only ours had sold. But that house had a contract on it the very same night. After that, everything paled in comparison. Soon, we got an offer on ours, and found an apartment we could move to for a short-term. We started making plans---what would go to the 1090 square foot apartment, what would go to storage. Truth be told, we were kind of excited about the move to the apartment. We could live simply, not bogged down with stuff, and responsibilities. We could go to the pool, walk to the mall----we felt relaxed just thinking about it, after all the months of staging, and selling, and searching.
But then, much to our surprise, that house we had seen and loved came back on the market. On a Friday night. We wrote an offer on Saturday, and by 8:00 AM Monday we had a deal. Five and a half weeks to pack and move all of our past to our future. More trips to Goodwill, checking with our kids to see what they wanted, sales on ebay, searches for boxes. More boxes. And more boxes. Truly, we have a lot of stuff.
It's exciting. This time, it's just the two of us. Our kids are married and settled, or on the verge of married and settled within a few months. It's like we're starting over, in a way, but different than it was 33 years ago. We are looking forward to having someone else cut the grass and clear the snow. I'm especially looking forward to having a first floor bedroom, and not having to carry laundry up and down the stairs. We're having fun thinking about where furniture will go, and what colors we might paint different rooms, and can we put a tile backsplash in the kitchen on our own. We are looking forward to big family meals and Christmas Craft Sleepovers with Pa and Granna. There are memories to be made, and we have a clean slate to create them in.
It will be different, but it will be good. We're older and wiser, we've been through a lot, we have lots of memories. But we're ready for this next step. I'm reminded of how Dr. David Burhans started our wedding ceremony, from the book of Ruth:
Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16)
God has cared for us through thick and thin, good and bad, and that won't change. No need to worry about tomorrow, he's already got it in His hands.
Let's do this! Let the adventure begin!