Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
It seems that August is the big month for transition and change and for kids to take another step toward growing up—going to a new grade, a new school, a new college, a new town.
Since Nathan will be a senior in college this year and Sarah is headed to High School, the whole “growing up thing” seems extra poignant to me right now. I wrote this piece a year ago and just happened to run across it again this week; it really struck a chord with me and I wanted to share it again.
Where Seventeen Went
August 4, 2009
While we were eating lunch with Steve's parents last Sunday, I looked around the table and remembered that I had first sat on those same dining room chairs when I was just seventeen years old. And now, amazingly enough, my own children have grown into teenagers and are sitting there in the same chairs, at the same table.
Steve and I are about the same age now that his parents were when I first met them as a teenager. And now Nathan is bringing his girl friend to that very table, except that Steve and I are the parents, instead of the starry-eyed youngsters. And Steve's parents are the grandparents of the children I hadn't even thought about when I first set foot in that dining room thirty years ago.
At some point when I wasn't even looking, the generations regenerated. And when they did, they took me along.
Truthfully? I'm not sure that I'm quite ready for all this generational shifting. I'm not sure that I'm ready to acknowledge the fact that I'm no longer the seventeen-year old, the new kid at the table, the daughter-in-law-to-be, the young girl on the brink of the rest of her life.
I'm not sure that I'm overly thrilled with the fact that I somehow morphed from seventeen into forty-seven and no one even told me it was happening. No one told me that I would go to sleep a few times, cook a few meals, change a few diapers, travel a few miles, and then wake up a few mornings later to discover that thirty years had passed.
Seventeen-year old kids should be warned about that.
Seventeen-year olds should be told, "Don't take Thursday afternoons for granted. Or Tuesday mornings. Don't wish for the day when you'll be eighteen. Or twenty-one. Be happy you're seventeen because one day you'll turn a page on the calendar and you'll be forty-seven and you'll wonder where seventeen went.
You'll wonder where the wrinkles came from. And you'll wonder how you survived the heartache that life brought with it. You'll question why you didn't always treasure the joys that were birthed out of the heartaches. You will be well aware of the fact that you made a few mistakes and learned a few lessons as you glance in the mirror and see a face that is no longer young. And you will ask, “Why didn't I know all this at seventeen?”
Seventeen doesn't last forever. But neither does forty-seven. I know that the next time I blink, I'll be seventy-seven and looking back thirty years at today. The generations will have once again shifted and I will be the gray-headed lady at the dinner table whom everyone is calling, "Grandma." I'll remember the days when I was forty-seven, and when I was seventeen and I will be ever so glad for those lovely days.
And yet I wouldn't ever choose to go back, because seventy-seven will be a good age. Just like forty-seven is a good age. Just like seventeen was a good age.
In fact, you know what? Every age is a good age. Every age reminds me that I'm still alive, and I still have gifts to give, adventures to experience, pain to bear, joys to treasure.
I am very much aware that the days I'm living now will soon fade and that the calendar leaves will soon fall. I know that in some nostalgic moment down the road, I will look back at this sweetest of all generations when I had Nathan and Sarah's laughter filling the house. I'll think of how I was so aware that the winds of time were blowing harder and stronger and that one day they would blow those children right out my front door and take them to meet the loves of their lives and they would have children of their own and put their feet under their own tables in their own houses.
But happily, beloved children who go away also come back to visit. And the day will come when Nathan and Sarah will bring their own children home; they will sit at our table and look around and say, "I remember when I was seventeen." They will feel sad about it. They will feel happy about it. And then they will count their blessings and hug their mamma and go on living.
But you can't see all that at seventeen. And that's how it should be. One of the things that age carries with it is those kinds of special secrets, imparted only to those who make the journey through a whole lot of years. Nathan and Sarah will arrive at forty-seven and they'll find that it's really not so bad hanging out in the Land of The Middle Aged. And my hope is that by the time they get there, I will have paved a straight path for them, set a good example and helped to make their journey meaningful.
They will discover that in the ongoing reshaping of their lives, each generation will come to be inhabited by new faces, new lives, and new stories. And in the midst of the shifting of the generations, in one of their houses, at one of their tables, someone will turn seventeen--someone who will be on the brink of the rest of her life.
And a generation's journey will begin again.
In closing, here’s a precious child who will be fifteen years old in two weeks. Can seventeen be far behind?
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Although Snowy usually sleeps through the night, for the past week or so he hasn’t been doing so well in that regard. And after almost eleven years of being in our family, the determined doggy has finally talked Steve and I into letting him sleep in our bed. So when he doesn’t sleep, we don’t sleep.
Since I’m a light sleeper and hear Snowy most of the time, I’ve been getting up with him, rather than waking Steve from a sound sleep—even though he always tells me to wake him up.
Last night, I was worn slap out (that’s a Southern phrase, y’all) from all of my interrupted sleep (and chaos management) so I asked Sarah if she’d take Snowy upstairs with her for the night.
Well, Little Sir Snowy got it into his Little Sir Snowy Head that he was in the wrong place for sleeping purposes and that he really needed to be escorted down one floor to his “mom and dad’s” king sized bed. Where he rightfully belonged. Because he’s special like that.
So by 11 pm when he still hadn’t settled down, Sarah finally got exasperated with him and came and knocked on our door and handed him over to “the parental units.” (As she sometimes calls us.) Steve sleepily took Snowy from her without a word, brought him back to bed, and Snowy ended up sleeping all night long. Hallelujah.
However, when Sarah got up this morning, she was in tears because she’d had such a frustrating, annoying time with her beloved doggy; then she felt bad about pawning him off on us. When Steve had answered her knock and took the dog without saying a word, she thought maybe he was annoyed with her for not keeping Snowy herself.
So she and I had a little talk and a big hug and I told her it was not a big deal; Snowy had slept great and Steve was not in the slightest bit annoyed with her.
When I saw Steve a few minutes later I told him about our conversation and suggested, “You might just mention something to her about it.”
I was in the bathroom slappin’ on make up (thank heaven for Maybelline) when I heard the following delightful conversation take place down the hall.
Steve: Good morning, Sarah!
Sarah: Mumbling with downcast face, “Good morning.”
Steve: I had a very interesting dream last night.
Sarah: What did you dream?
Steve: Well, I dreamed that a beautiful angel knocked on our bedroom door and handed me a marshmallow!
Steve always did have a way with words. And Sarah has always had a way of appreciating people who have a way with words.
After that lovely “daddy speech,” they started their morning with a hug and a smile.
In other news, yes the carpet is (mostly) in and yes, I am an exceedingly exuberant woman after seeing the last of the stained, blue carpet we’ve been staring at for nine months disappear out the door, never to be glimpsed again.
The two carpet guys stayed at the house till after 8 pm. When Sarah and I got home at 5 pm, we saw lots of lovely carpet accompanied by lots of clumps of chaos.
Here are the stairs to Sarah’s room. She said she felt like a mountain climber when she tried to get to and from her room. (To get to her room, you turn left at the top of this set of stairs and go up another small flight before finally arriving at her 480 sq. foot aerie.)
Here’s a sneak peek of the carpet; I’ll show you more tomorrow when the job is completely finished. We love the color and we love, love, love the clean, new, fresh look it gives the whole second floor.
Now you would think that since I was dealing with such chaos at home that I would want to spend my time away from home doing something peaceful and orderly.
Not so much.
I decided to attack the drawers and file cabinets in the sound room/office area that I work from at church. There are few things I love better than a mess that needs to be organized; it just brings joy to my soul and sassiness to my spirit. (Almost as much joy and sass as having new carpet!)
And here’s the (sort of) finished project. Actually, I’ve still got a lot of things I’d like to do in that area, like putting up new paint and a few pictures, and maybe even getting a “new” desk from Craigslist. But at least I’m making progress and having fun in the meantime.
Before I close, I’ll answer a couple questions that came in from MN Mom. She said,
Are the steps going up to Sarah’s room also being re-done?
No, the carpet on her steps and in her room is a whole lot newer than the second floor carpet and is in excellent shape. So we’ll be keeping that for awhile. It does have blue in it, but it also has some greenish-aqua; I think she can work around it, color-wise.
Do you have a surgery date yet?
Yes! In fact, two weeks from this very moment, I will be in the operating room having the expanders taken out and the permanent implants put in.
From what I understand, the recovery period after replacement surgery is easier than after a mastectomy; I think it’s more like 1-2 weeks, rather than 4-6 weeks.
I am excited about getting this procedure behind me and getting on with the rest of my life!
Monday, August 2, 2010
You know that thing I said to you last week that I would post before and after photos of our bedroom?
Well, I don’t have a bit of problem showing you the before pictures or even the “in between” pictures. But I thought it might be more dramatic to wait till the bedroom was completely done before I do The Big Reveal. And the good news is that we should have it done by the end of the week; we just need to get mini blinds and curtains hung. I am indubitably excited. (Which is much more excited that regular ol’ excited.)
I will, however, give you a little sneak preview of the work in progress so that you can see a bit of the paint color and how the whole project is coming along.
Here’s the photo tour . . . accompanied by a little dash of continued untidiness. (Clutter Meter, be still!)
Remember a couple weeks ago when we had the big discussion about the best way to arrange our bed pillows? Well, I am just going to tell you that I have thrown all of your wisdom and advice out the window and have decided to go my own way and do my own thing in the Pillow War Conundrum Department.
Here is my own personal arrangement. What do you think? Do I need to post another poll so that we can vote on it? I actually really like it. It’s kind of a free form, creative, mashed up morass of pillow-ness.
I snapped this picture of one of our ubiquitous bed piles; it just seemed to be a nice snapshot of married life. “His and her shoes” in the middle of a redecorating process—what could possible be more “married” than that?
And speaking of married life—here are Mr. Smith and me back in our younger days--back when we still had horse and buggies and there was no indoor plumbing. Oh, the stories we could tell of our days back on the lone prair-ee.
Here’s a little ol’ peek at the project in process. (Gives you a little hint of the color.)
And here is your last look at the blue carpet which we shall say farewell to today. Have I already told you how excited I am? Well, let me just say it again! I’m excited!
This is what Sarah’s bathroom looked like when we left the house this morning. We just took miscellaneous stuff from the other rooms and flung it in there. I almost broke out into a hive looking at that scene, but I got out of there just in time. (Snowy is obviously very puzzled about the proceedings. Of course, he’s puzzled about most things.)
Even the steps leading up to Sarah’s room were called into duty for storing stuff.
Questions and Comments:
Kelly Dunn said, “I'm just curious.....do you always have a camera in your hand? I'm amazed at how you have pictures for all your blogs!”
Kelly, yes I do keep my camera in my purse at all times, in addition to a spare set of batteries. I just sort of feel insecure if my camera isn’t always within reach!
Pam said, “OK... so did you get a new camera? The picture quality has really improved as of late, so something has changed. That pic of Sarah and Snowy on the swing is just lovely... frameably beautiful.”
Pam, nope, no new camera. As always, any picture I take that turns out especially well is completely by accident! But I’m glad that a photographer of your skill notices my occasional good pictures.
Dorine asked, “Did you ever make it to North Dakota when you were traveling and singing? It really isn't "on the way" to anywhere, so you pretty much have to have a reason to want to come!! Just curious! Love all your pictures and stories. You are always in my prayers, Sweet Friend!!!”
Dorine, we sang at a church in Bismarck and also at an Indian reservation somewhere in the state. I don’t remember the name of the town but I do remember that particular concert quite well because I fell off the stage. Backward. Feet flying over my head. Wearing a skirt! It was not one of my finer moments.
Suzi said, “What a neat town!! Thanks for sharing it with us. I wonder, do most of the restaurants in Manteo and Wanchese close for the Winter, or are there enough year round folks to sustain them?”
Suzi, yes, a few restaurants (and businesses) do close here in the off season but last winter (our first one here) there still seemed to be plenty of places to eat and shop.
Bridget said, “So I must confess......I have stolen your grocery list-upon-the-cupboard door strategy....and I actually strung a pen on a string on the inside catch....Amazingly I was able to do my shopping in about 1/3 of the time. As a mom to 5 kids, less time in the grocery store means I'm more likely to not need a rubber room, so thanks a million.”
Bridget, I am so happy that one of my many rambling posts made a practical difference in some ones life. Thanks for letting me know. Now I feel all glow-y inside.
Melanie said, “I don't know if I've ever left a comment here, but I love reading your blog! I'm so glad you talked about Extraordinary Measures because I saw it advertised and then somehow missed it when it was in theaters. I'm going to have rent it and watch it! Have you seen Letters to God? If not, you should watch it, but have those Kleenex handy! Thank you so much for all of your wonderful posts! I'm so glad everyone is doing well!”
Melanie, Since we went through such a difficult time with Sarah’s cancer and treatment, you’d think I wouldn’t want to watch movies about sick kids. But they still just seem to draw me in. I haven’t seen Letters To God yet, but that’s one of the movies that’s on The List. I’m glad to hear it highly recommended. (I also enjoyed My Sister’s Keeper.)
Catherine asked, “Where in Florida is Nathan? Is he back at school taking summer courses? Is he going to be a senior? It seems like he just started college.”
Catherine, Nathan is currently in Winter Park, FL; he’s living for the summer with his girlfriend’s sister and brother-in-law. His university (Southeastern University) is actually in nearby Lakeland, FL. No, he didn’t take any summer courses and yes, he is going to be a senior this year. I can hardly believe it.
Judy said, “It seems there hasn't been a "Nathan Report" lately. Is he doing okay? By openly sharing your lives, the Smiths have become a part of all our families and I miss hearing about him.”
Judy, it was so sweet of you to also inquire about Nathan and to write, “ . . . the Smiths have become a part of all our families . . .”
I feel all glow-y inside. Again!
Nathan has actually had a challenging summer. He got way behind in his summer job search when two jobs that looked like absolute certainties both fell through at the last minute. If you know anything about the college student job market, if you don’t get a job nailed down early in the summer, your chances of finding anything go way, way down.
Bottom line is that he never did find a summer job. He went to interviews, filled out applications, had great references—the whole bit. And I’m not just speaking as a proud mom, but Nathan is a hard worker, shows up on time, and has excellent people skills. His plan was to work himself to the bone this summer and get money saved up but as it turned out, he’s barely making ends meet.
He does have a part time job in the campus mailroom nailed down when school starts, but he wants to find another one in addition to that.
So anyway, that’s the scoop on my favorite son. As you moms out there know, we always hate it when we can’t rush in and make all the tough stuff in our kid’s life go away. Life was a whole easier when he was five years old and his biggest Life Crisis consisted of finding out that someone else ate the last chocolate chip cookie. Oh for those simpler days!
Anyway, thanks so much for asking about him. It makes my mama heart happy to get to write about him.