There's something absolutely thrilling about the announcement of our arrival by "TomTom Bonnie" (she's our personal GPS travel guide extraordinaire and saver of marriage relations!!). It means we've made it ...
a) safely to our vacation destination
b) in the nick of time for someone (ahem... not always the kids!) to use the potty at a rest area
c) through hours and hours and hooouuuurrrsss of driving
On Monday we ventured from our southern Manitoba locale to the metropolis of Minneapolis. Grand adventures, a nice hotel, and fewer hours in the kitchen awaited us. Oh yeah, and we left our paint brushes at home!
We commenced our trip with a picnic in the rain. It was very ... interesting ... watching J perch an umbrella precariously over the heads of our girls as we scarfed down sandwiches, cheesies and grapes! We had booked our hotel through Expedia, and were a bit nervous about what our room would be like (it was rated 3-star, and we got a GREAT DEAL!!) - but we were NOT disappointed! It was fabulous! Clean, spacious and a lovely continental breakfast that meant that I did not have to scrounge around through the cooler (and the soggy floaties at the bottom) for dry bits of cereal and warm milk.
It's the simple things in life, really!!
We had fun. The girls discovered the thrill of Kiddie Park rides, we strolled through a zoo, conservatory and butterfly garden, we hung out at the Mall of America AND we got to stop at IKEA. Ooooh la la!! Giggles galore (but the squeals of delight came from moi, when I found the curtain rods I'd been searching for :P at a fantastic price of $6.99 for a whole kit!).
And there's nothing like that home arrival. Good to go away, but so good to come h.o.m.e. As much as I love my peeps, I love my space too :). Space is something that I haven't taken much over the summer, and my soul is paying the price. Space to think and breathe uninterrupted, space to rest and rejuvenate, space to laugh.
And really, even when "TomTom Bonnie" announces the arrival of a destination, I know it's just a passing point along the way of this incredible journey. I revel in the moment of having "made it" while preparing to embrace the next leg of the road. ESPECIALLY if that includes a stop at IKEA!
When we first purchased our house, 9 years ago, I never even gave one crucial aspect of house-buying a single thought.... what our neighbors might be like! Over the years we've had neighbors come and go. Most have been such amazing people, and I've been privileged to live on the same street!!
The other evening I was once again thankful for our next-of-door friends. In a spectacular prairie storm, our sweet little shed just about flew away!! Our a/c unit had just malfunctioned, so I was washing dishes with an open window (it smelled soooo good!). It was thundering and flashing like crazy. Suddenly, the wind had a funny sound to it. It sounded like a train.... now we can hear the local train, so it really could've been a train :) .... but they always say a tornado sounds like a train.... Anyway, J had gone into our room to close the window and yells out - "uh, you're gonna wanna come and take a look at this!!" Stunned, I saw our metal garden shed (which still had a screw or two mounted in the back) literally FLAPPING in the wind!! Yikes. Not good.
So, out we dashed! In a jiffy, one neighbor hopped his fence (pretty nimble! I can't imagine doing that and not ripping my shorts ... which has actually happened to me ... and was only mildly traumatic ... I am not a very good fence jumper!!) and the other came scurrying across our yard. In no time flat they all grabbed the shed and pinned it down with some extra patio blocks (I never knew it was a good idea to keep extra patio blocks - just in case - :P...)
In a day and age when we're too busy (or too reserved) to go out and help our neighbor, this was so refreshing. It made me stop and wonder - what kind of neighbor am I? Well, I'm not a fence-jumper, that's for sure ;).
One of the oh-so-delightful side effects of sleep deprivation, I am finding, is that you lose ones sense of "self." This results in several blank stares (blink, blink blink), grinding mental gears and frustration over memory loss!
During this state of mental emergency ...
... if you were to ask me my preference, I'd likely answer (truthfully!!) "uhhhh, I dunno!"
... Or I may be so caught up in a daydream about climbing back under my very snuggly, soft, warm, cozy, splendid, feathery duvet (that took me forever and a day to find) and sleeping the rest of the week that I may forget to show up for something important.
... Or - sigh- I may just get down right grouchy :).
... Orrrrr, I may laugh and laugh and laugh at something that is not really funny at all. (That gets a little awkward in some social settings :P. Please forgive me if lately I've snickered when a sombre response is required!!!) Yesterday, as I was giving the kids their bedtime snack, I looked over at Little M and said, "Boy, my neck is full of knots again." (We've started Phase 1,000,000 of the Great Paint Project!! Ohhhh ceilings!!) She looked at me blankly. To which I responded "I guess that means I have a naughty neck." For some reason, this, combined with the very level look on her face made me laugh until I cried!!! Then she says to me, "It's okay, Mommy. Just breathe, like this." Then she inhaled and exhaled.
... Or I focus on all the things I feel insecure and unsteady about. Suddenly, showing up for church potlucks feels about as right as bathing suit shopping in the same locale that the swimsuit models frequent (all fancy and cellulite-free!!) OR touring Shapes (fitness centre) while the Bomber Girls are working out (now that has actually happened. AWK-WARD! Nothing like working out next to a blond, size 6, super-active cheerleader to deflate the motivation balloon!!!). Oh, cozy insecurity blankey, how much better off life with be without you!!
Maybe, some day, (sooner rather than later would be grrrreat!!) I will get more rest. And in doing so, find my wandering self once again ;).
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. - Marcel Proust
One of the job hazards of a SAHM is not a lack of relationships, but limited opportunities to enjoy both small-talk camaraderie and safe moments to slip beyond the routine things of life. Regular points of connection - church nursery, committee meetings, play dates with kids in tow, and the occasional evening out don't usually lend themselves to conversation that goes deeper, more trusting, more care-full.
So when such a gift arises, I consider it a gift; a beautiful, unexpected wildflower in a garden that is well tamed, well organized. My first impulse is to attempt to make this blessing a regular part of my routine. To try to organize my way through life to make room for such authenticity. I suppose that's not a bad thing, however I'm learning more to stop, give thanks and gratitude for such a friend, and treasure the moment.
In every season of life God has graciously planted some of these wildflowers along my way. Some are close by, some far off; and the gift is always surprising, always blessing. Precious people who will laugh and cry with me in the same sentence, those who give me space to "be" and those who say " I KNNOOOOW!" - and they do!! Somehow, we "get it" and the connection is made.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. - Henri Nouwen
Ever since I was a kid, RASPBERRIES have been one of my ultimate, all-time, can't-beat-it summertime favorite treats. Better than ice cream, chocolate and maybe even peanut butter all rolled into one. (Ties with air-popped popcorn, though!! Let's not get carried away here :)! )
So, it was NO SURPRISE when J & I settled into our first home that I transplanted some of these lovely wonders to the west side of our home, where there was a stretch of turf just ready and waiting to be tilled up and used wisely :).
It's taken a few years, but they've really established well. This year we are enjoying an ABUNDANT HARVEST of these yummy-lish-ious treats :). The whole family gets into it too. After supper, we grab a plastic container, and we all truck out to the raspberry patch to see how many we can sneak off the bush before they actually make it to the container! Even the family pooch mooches the low ones off the bush for his own little snack.
Some of my favorite raspberry-enhanced memories - watching Little M take charge of the raspberry picking extravaganza; picking raspberries with Little M in the rain; sun-warmed berries; going back there ALL BY MYSELF and feeling like I'm indulging in some sneaky guilty pleasure - stealing both a quiet moment and some coveted berries for myself!!
However, be warned. Too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing!!! (Ohhhh the tummy aches :)!!!)
In an attempt to not work the summer away e.n.t.i.r.e.l.y, we've done some mid-weekly "field trips" which have proven to be a lot of fun. Our first outing was supposed to be the zoo (we have issues about getting to the zoo. Attempts are often ... thwarted!)
But alas - it was raining (again - boooo) so we went to the Manitoba Museum instead.
I've learned you're never too young (or old!) to enjoy the museum.
Sweet K got a kick outta this.
Little M wasn't so sure....
Hmmm... still isn't sure.
And my attempt to play with the camera
settings. We're getting there :)....
Some of the days highlights included - watching Sweet K chase Little M, Little M's delightful and very witty running commentary (she never runs out of energy OR words. Sigh.), watching the girls hang out with their daddy, lunch time at McDonalds, AND racing around Canadian Tire in the rocket cart. (That one was a hoot!!! Completely with engine sounds and all!!)
All in all, a splendid break from painting :). And I probably even learned a thing or two throughout the day!!