Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Countdown

Eek!  School starts in TWO weeks.

The calendar has been looming for us all.  We've tried being in denial but there's just no avoiding it anymore.  In 14 days, gone will be the extra glorious hour of sleep in the mornings.  Gone will be the relaxed time with hubby over a cup of coffee to start our day.  Gone will be the leisurely jaunt out the door to get to work.

In its place will be chaos and frantic dashes, forgotten folders and scarfed down breakfasts, and about a dozen, "It's time to get up....NOW!"

While I'm not looking forward to the few weeks it'll take to get used to the adjustment, there are things about the school season I have missed.  Routine, as much as I dislike the alarm clock, is good for all of us.  The ride to school, though only about 10 minutes, is great time spent with the kids.  And who can forget the scent of new school supplies?! bucket list for summer is so very empty compared to the dreams I had for it last spring.  Where does the time go?!

Having a teen with a job was a change for us and ended a bit of spontaneity that summer allows.  (Not complaining.)  We feel very blessed to have a 15 year old who already has an amazing work ethic and desire to save.  These are life skills that will serve him well.  But tossing pies means a lot of weekend work, so there haven't been many open slots to do one of my favorite summer activities.

The Drive-In.

Do you have one close to where you live?  With less than 400 left in the US, it is becoming a rarity from the past.  I've been longing to stretch out my toes in the grass under a blanket of stars, hold a giant tub of popcorn, and laugh with the family.  As Noah has an unsusal night off, that is just what we're planning this weekend.  And I don't even care what is playing!

The rain or scorching heat has hindered most boating time for us this year but seeing everyone's Florida and vacation pics has me itching to be on the water.  Hopefully we can squeeze more lake time in before summer comes to a close.

And we've only had one dinner outdoors.  Though my deck is in serious need of TLC, I miss being out there with the family.  Funny side story.  When Noah was little I told him one evening we were dining alfresco.  He looked at me curious and said, "What kind of restaurant is that?"

I've just been longing to linger outdoors.  Especially during my favorite time of day - twilight.  The past couple days I've driven home about that time and it makes me want to stop in the road, roll the windows down and breathe in deeply.

Actually, I did just that last night.  After dropping my momma home from church, I left with the windows down to hear the crickets and cicadas.  The sun had just sunk in a pink and blue wash in the sky.  Driving slow, partially because of the curves and gravel but also because I know this is the time of night for animals in the road, I spy 4 baby deer.  They bounced away too quickly for me to capture but I did catch a piece of the beautiful sky before it snuck away.

And I paused.  In the middle of the road to take it all in.  The simple peace of the moment made me hungry for more.

Don't leave just yet, sweet summertime.  I have plans for you still!  For homemade ice cream and low country boils.  Camping in a tent.  To feel the pull of a fish on my line.  Random rides down country roads.  Listening to classics so good you want to roll the windows down and turn the radio up.  Floating on the water (or in) or both.  Enjoying a picnic in the afternoon under a giant tree. Catching fireflies. Smelling the honeysuckle.  Laying on a blanket and cloud watch.  Having a water fight.

What's on your wish list for the rest summer has to offer?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Signs and Milestones

Yesterday was tough.  A bite your lip, distract yourself, get through the day kind of day.

It was busy at work, which was helpful in some ways, but a big piece of my heart and mind were elsewhere.  A day spent teetering on tears - misty on the way to work, praying throughout, and sobbing the moment I walked out the door and got into my car.

Driving home, I ended up at the cemetery.  Not a place I normally find comfort, but I needed somewhere to cry in peace.  And I knew I could do it beside my sweet boy.

July 8 would've been Austin's 21st birthday.

It was harder than I expected.  Not that any birthday, or holiday (or any day) is easy after losing a child.  But some of his birthdays have actually been unexpected blessings, like last year.

So, unlike the early years, I didn't schedule off and expected that I'd make it through ok.  In this walk with grief though, I've learned there is no time limit on the pain and you can never plan or expect, it takes you where it will, when it wants.

Sure, there were signs, as always.  More yellow butterflies than I could count, darting in and around my car wherever I went.  Many dancing around his grave.  My radio is never off and every time I got back in, whatever song was playing seemed to be a hello from above or a needed hug.

Still, I had a job to do, so I stored up and pushed away so much pain that by the end of the day exhaustion set in.  Tim saw it, felt it himself I'm sure, but stepped up last night and took over roles I normally fulfill.  He cooked us a small and simple dinner and went to get the kids from church.  We called it an early night and thanks to prayers of many, fell into a deep and restful sleep.

Yesterday, I think I grieved what I lost, what I never had, and where I would be at this point.  It was coming to terms with not having a child anymore and the realization that, if he were here, he wouldn't be a child anymore either.  I just didn't have the past seven years to watch him mature into the man he would be now.

Seeing his baby brother, Noah, towering over us, watching the days fly by on the calendar as he counts down to his own milestones, like driving, makes me want to push in the brakes even more.  I want to fully saturate myself in them - with him.  I don't want to miss a moment.  Maybe because I know how precious and unpromised they are.

And of course, just like his big brother, Noah has a heart of gold.  My gentle giant, I call him.  Dropping them off to church I ensured he had enough money for the snow cone, where youth were gathered.  He smiled and said, "21 and some change."  I knew what he was doing and prayers were sent up all the way home that he'd get a blessing from it.

Getting there early, as they prefer, he walked up to booth before the line wrapped the corner and "Paid it Fwd" for Austin.  $21 in memory of his 21st.  Noah waited an hour before he got in line, hoping that the fwd would last enough for most who'd arrived.  He was hugged from above to find out others had continued to pay it forward and his was also free.  This morning I received a sweet text from the owner saying it gave her chills and many were touched by the night.

Noah and I laughed later that it would've been just like Austin too.  Never one to like alcohol, he would've preferred to ring in his 21st with a giant snow cone to celebrate his big day.  Fitting the name of the place is Paradise, since we know that's where he is.

Here's one for you, Bub, swirled with lots of love.  

Linked with #DanceWithJesus

Thursday, July 2, 2015

To Have and to Hold

When we were married 22 years ago, we were PO-OO-OR.  Our seven hundred dollar budget for the wedding didn't leave much to honeymoon, which is why we went simple and stayed at a tiny fishing cabin on Kentucky Lake.

Not much has changed in two decades, other than maybe we've dropped an O or two.

Each anniversary we try to get away though, often back to that same beautiful lake.  On our lucky 13th, we were blessed to finally go on our "dream honeymoon" to Jamaica.  The past few years, it's worked out that church camp falls right around June 21 so we have an easy escape.

This year, I was hobbling around from a recent fall so we spent our special day resting in the living room.  My hope was that I'd feel better by this week, when the kids were gone to camp.  And although Tim was swamped at work, he promised to find a way for at least a one day getaway.

Saturday night, he came hobbling in the door.

For the next 48 hours we spent a great deal of time at various doctor offices hearing "broken fibula" and worrying about recovery.  Thankfully, ortho doesn't believe he has a fracture but Tim is looking at several weeks of healing.  I guess the unexpected blessing is that now his one day off has been extended, even if he doesn't feel like doing much.

I went to bed a little grumpy Tuesday night, throwing a pity party in my head on our change of plans, as Tim read the Bible.  Before turning off the light he grabbed my hand and made a comment about how much we have to be grateful for.

Yes, Lord, I needed this reminder.  

This minor bump in the road is nothing compared to what others are facing right now -or what we've already endured.  And as I gently wrapped my arms around my husband, I pulled him closer, thankful I still have him to hold.

Yesterday was the first day of my vacation, which I'd already signed up for, but no exotic adventure awaited me.  Neither of us feel like going far, and it'd be a turtle's race to see who could get there faster; but hey - at least we have each other!

As I brought him breakfast, I joked we were living it up at Blair's B&B but that mentality stuck.  After all, what do you really do on vacation?  You relax, nap when you want, eat yummy food, shop a little, go sightseeing and spend time together.

Tim got in several naps and I used the alone time to read and relax.  We ventured out for a matinee, laughed and ate too much popcorn.  Killing time before the movie we "shopped" at the pet store nearby and played with the birds.  I grilled us two yummy steaks for dinner. And we've spent lots of time cuddled together.

 Sounds like a pretty good vacation Day 1 to me!

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