Friday, May 19, 2023

One Fine Day

Perseus tumbled rapidly down the hill, rolling past weeds, stumps, pottery shards and the rest of us. We were galloping down my hill after hoofing it up in a mere 23 minutes. Lochlan moaned all the way up because he could, but once we got to the top, we just sat and took it all in. Even Lochlan was mesmerized. The beauty in that place takes your breath away, and not just from the steep climb to get there. :-) 

Lochlan carried Perseus, his bad piggies (round) stuffed toy all the way up, and I believe it was for the express purpose of tossing it on our way down to watch it roll past us. His mission was a success! He had to pick up and re-toss it only once and it still managed to beat us to the bottom, even though we galloped all the way down! 

It is so neat to see Lochlan finding joy, even as we push him and encourage him through the difficult things (hiking up). When we tell him we're going for a hike, he grabs his shoes with a smile on his face, even grabs a shirt (what?!) and gets to the car without any prompting. He might moan a fair bit on the way up, but once we reach our destination he's all in. He sat in my lap at the top and watched our mountain with the storm clouds rolling in. This place may try to kill us on occasion, but it is good for our hearts and our souls. The mountains are full of life and ever-changing, life giving to so much/many, sometimes under the strain of fire and/or flooding, sometimes barraged by violent storms, but ever remaining; a constant reminder to us of our place in this world. 

Kelton woke me up at 4:50 this morning: "Mama, please come watch the sunrise with me." I desperately wanted to stay curled up underneath the warm covers, but some moments in life will not be found again. So, I put on a jacket, hat, gloves, grabbed a fuzzy blanket and we hunkered down with a cup of tea into our hammock chairs and waited for the sunrise, while listening to Enya. Kelton reached over and grabbed my hand as the sun peaked over the hills and said, "Mama, I will remember this always." Me too, little buddy. Always. 

Monday, May 15, 2023

Fat Cheeks

I always wanted four boys and when Bethany, Krista and I would play our silly teenage "what if" games, 4 was always in the list of things I hoped to have some day. I had a lot of dreams and a good many of those dreams either never came to fruition or did come to fruition and then were obliterated later. However, my dream of having 4 boys not only came true, but far surpassed anything I could have imagined. 

I had all these ideas about how I wanted to guide my kids one day when I had them and raise them to be men. What I didn't realize is how much those boys that I hoped for and dreamed about would teach me. Endless... the flow of ideas, considerations, understanding that comes from each of them. They are open books and the things that flow from their hearts change the people around them for the better.

As Mother's Day was celebrated yesterday, I couldn't help but reflect on the fact that while we were celebrating the women who have mothered us, or were being celebrated as a mother, the celebration inside my heart was largely in thankfulness for the humans I get to learn from, the ones who made me a mom. These humans teach me every day about love, truth, hope, but they also show endurance, perseverance, strength, courage and vulnerability in all the right ways. They have a strength built from kindness, and hope built through trial and hardship, a wisdom forged from fire, but perhaps more importantly a humility that has been created by succeeding and thriving through the darkest storm(s). 

And they make me laugh all the time. Kelton saw a brand new Dodge dually pickup. It was a flashy red and I could see him eyeing it. He looked at me and said, "You know Mom, I really like that truck. I mean, it's just super nice. But... I don't think I'd want it because it has those fat cheeks." 😂 This little brother who plays the role of older brother... he is the older brother to his older brother and he does it incredibly well. He loves Lochlan fiercely, guides him, corrects him, challenges him, encourages him and is infinitely patient with him. He has a tough job because there are times when being a little larger could come in handy, especially in this role. 

Declan is constantly engineering complicated creations from wood, styrofoam, plastic, cardboard and even flour. He has an incredible mind for utilizing what he has at hand to build amazing things. He appreciates the smallest gestures of kindness in others and sees the best in people (except for maybe Kelton, whom he tends to annoy and pester in dutiful fashion as the older but not oldest brother). If you need love or reassurance as a human, he's your guy. You will feel better about all of life if you spend a little quality time with this amazing man. 

Lochlan is essentially a 5 year old trapped in a 10 year old body. We have seen a tremendous amount of development in him these past couple of months. Take all the 5 year old naughties and you've got this boy. He's a stinker, has a funny sense of humor, a devilish twinkle in his eye and a knack for finding everything mischievous that he can imagine to do. He knows all of our special buttons and loves to push them, hovering in the background quietly waiting to see our reactions to whatever stinky activity he's recently completed and then giggling when we do indeed react as he had hoped. He's a snuggle bunny and will never pass up an opportunity to climb into our bed, wiggling underneath the covers, placing his freezing cold toes against us and wrapping himself around us. Pretty much adorable. I love seeing the growth in him and though each new season brings with it new challenges, they're worth facing as we watch him morph and develop. 

Madigan is such a man. He has been building robots for his brothers out of scrap wood. They're quite incredible! He also transformed a wooden boat shelf into a fully functioning boat for his stuffed animals (who responsibly wear life vests in their boating activities). He is a fabulous giver of gifts, always taking time to build gifts that reflect his knowledge of the person. He leads this band of bros with enthusiasm and sometimes a little too much authority. :-) He likes order and quite naturally helps to manage the intrinsically chaotic environment of 6 people living in a one bedroom house. He's a force of nature with a kindness that runs to his core. He loves people without expectation and without condition. He forgives easily and completely. He works hard with little complaint and wakes up late every morning. He loves to look at the stars and go on dates. I adore him to pieces. 

So, my four boys, thank you for being you. These days I treasure and hold in my heart. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Death of a Dream

 Life is so far beyond our dreams. It gives us so much more than we can imagine, beauty that overcomes despair, love where it is unexpected, joy in and through the sorrow, and it has a way of obliterating our dreams even as new dreams morph and flourish. 

In the process of losing so much to the flooding caused by the forest fires last year, Kris losing 50% of the funding for his job, and trying to juggle the absolutely brutal undertaking of restoring our ruined property, we were forced to put our big house on the market just 1 year after buying it. We had purchased the 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 977 closet house with the dream of having more space for our family, building Kaysee and Max a home, growing bountiful gardens and hosting people often because we finally had the space to do so. But, alas, those dreams were just that.... dreams. 

We have (almost) completed three major moves in one year. We moved from our one bedroom house into our four bedroom house. 6 months later, we moved our family into the 2 bedroom A-frame to begin the restoration process. Then, we moved back into our one bedroom Octagon three months later, but without any of our original furnishings, as those remained with the big house which we were using as a short-term rental in our absence. Over the past couple of weeks, we have transitioned all or our original belongings back into the octagon. This has meant dozens of trips to Goodwill, an Estate Sale (happening tomorrow), and trailers full of stuff from the big house, to the octagon and from the octagon to Goodwill. It has been something like Musical Houses. Sounds inspiring, but is in truth mind numbing. 

One day as I worked to try to orchestrate what was geometrically impossible in fitting items into one of our two closets in the octagon, I sat down on the box and started crying. Tears just came. It was unavoidable. Madigan pulled me off of my perch and said, "What is wrong, Mama?" I said, "It is unbelievably hard to move FROM a 4 bedroom, 977 closet house INTO a 1 bedroom, 2 closet house (where the closets are miniature)." He sat me down, grabbed a pen and paper and made me map out exactly what furniture was realistic and where it could go in our tiny house with round, straw bale walls. It helped immensely. 

I have made tough decision after tough decision about belongings that have been treasured and loved, letting go and moving on. I took 3/4 of my clothes (that have been stored at the big house over the past 9 months during this period of upheaval and transition) to Goodwill. The kids let go of precious toys. We let go of pictures, blankets, linens, beds, furniture, a full kitchen of items, lamps, farm tools, TVs, etc. As stated before, it is truly mind-numbing. I have been mentally and physically fatigued for days on end. 

Then, the kids caught COVID again, so that reduced our productivity a fair bit for more than a week by the time it cycled through us all. Then, as the last victim was finally on the rebound, Kelton caught the Norovirus, so off we went again. Luckily, we managed to ward off that one a little faster. 

My shoulder has been healing remarkably well in spite of what I have put it through. I can tell it needs rest and I will try in earnest to give it that rest in the coming several weeks, to give it a chance to heal thoroughly. 

As we watch one of our dreams go down with the sunset this night, we know that the sun will rise again tomorrow and that we do not know what that tomorrow will bring for us. We will take the next step, because we must and we can. We are making this little house our home once again, and we are finding profound joy again inside the warmth of it's straw-filled walls. We await the coming monsoon season and it's inevitable flooding with hope that our efforts these past months have prepared us enough to defend this beloved home. We cannot worry about tomorrow as our worry changes nothing. We have done what we can.

In these coming weeks of waiting, we will plant, explore, and pray. We will rebuild the fences that remain broken, we will help our neighbors prepare for the waters, we will even take a backpacking trip in Colorado. We will keep living and living fully, as long as this borrowed breath is ours!