It was time to roll the dimes. A certificate payment deadline loomed close, and while there were funds in the account, the numbers ran tight.
This season of being at home feels like a luxury item, one that I am trying to steward well. I am not actively bringing in funds from a job, though I am working hard to help manage those brought home by my hard-working partner.
He reminds me we are a team, and I believe that.
Dumping some of the dimes from the two-liter Coke bottle onto the floor, I began grouping them by tens to roll in bundles of fifty. Each roll held five dollars worth, and by the end I had fourteen rolls. That gave me $70 to deposit in the account. Every little bit helps.
More than the $70 was the tangible reminder that 700 times I felt seen. Each dime appeared in a random place when I most needed the encouragement of provision.
My banker friends might appreciate and eye-roll over the drive-through blunder I made at the window the afternoon I took them to the bank. As the drawer slid out, I placed a gallon Ziploc bag with fourteen rolls of dimes in it. Is it okay if I deposit these here in the drive-thru?
The teller graciously nodded as she pulled the drawer shut. I scanned the window while waiting, and my eyes landed on a red sign lettered in white No baggies or rolled coins in the drive-thru. Little Mae’s landed on the jar of dog treats.
Can we bring Dewey next time?!!!!
Waving frantically to get the teller’s attention I pointed at the sign and mouthed, I’m so sorry!
She responded that it was okay, and I asked if she had told me to come inside. She hadn’t. Then she asked if I needed a balance for the account. I didn’t. Sending two blue lollipops out to me and Mae, she sent us on our way.
I will be sure to go in the lobby next time! I am already on the lookout for more dimes to roll.
My daughter faithfully rises early each weekday morning to walk and care for her dog. She is often up before me, pulling on a coat and slipping on headphones before grabbing the leash. I remain in my room, doing my morning routine, preparing to engage another day.
One morning, I heard unusual scrambling and barking from Dewey upon returning from his walk. Run-in with Zephyr, I conjectured. She’s the boss of us all. I wonder what is up with them this morning. He must have crossed her.
I stepped out of my room to find a ball of white scampering around and under the dining room table with Dewey following closely behind, barking and snapping at it. It was another terrier.
I found Louie this morning on the walk. He was loose, so I brought him here to call his owner.
Sure enough, the name on his tag read Louie, which was kind of funny considering we have Dewey. We wondered aloud if they had been at the SPCA together, and if there was a Huey out there, also.
The morning routine continued as Dewey and Louie dashed around underfoot, reminding me of why I was hesitant to get a dog in the first place and why we have only one. Steve called the number on the tag which went directly to voicemail. He then offered the following words while preparing to drive Kirk to school:
I’m going to walk Louie around the block to see if someone is looking for him while Kirk finishes getting ready.
I got in my car to wait for the girls to come out for their ride to school. They exited the house as Steve returned from his walk around the block with another little dog under his arm.
I think they belong together, because this little one came running up. I had to grab him quickly before he got away.
Then there were three! I was laughing out loud in disbelief. The little brown dog had no tag. Of course we called him Huey.
Please don’t call the SPCA until I get home. The little brown dog is SOOOOO cute! Can we keep him?
I was beyond my comfort zone as Steve deposited the dogs in the backyard while I assured my daughter that I would make no sudden moves without her. We left for school.
I am not exaggerating when I say that at the top of our street there was a large white dog off-leash doing his business. No human in sight.
We are not even stopping for Donald! We have GOT to get to school.
I returned home to the sight of two dogs looking longingly at me through the fence.
Inside, Dewey was waiting by the back door. I opened it for him to join his friends in the back yard.
There was an incredible amount of cuteness.
Then it was time for me to go to breakfast with my son. This meant bringing Dewey inside but leaving the others out in case their owner should come looking for them. Can you guess the dynamic here? Which dog is supposed to be coming inside?
Please can I come in, too?
After a leisurely breakfast downtown, my son and I returned home to an empty yard. The dogs had been picked up. At least I hoped so!
The call came later. The dogs had, indeed, made it home, and we had made a fun family memory. I’m grateful for caring hearts, bounding dogs, and healing laughter.
I would like to think that I had a hand in this, but I did not. It was my mother and grandmother who invited child six over to learn to make pie crust, and she picked up the skill like a champ.
I can make pie dough, but it always feels like a complicated and precarious process. My daughter whips up batches like a pro to the tune of random pies appearing on the counter. One day I find cherry, the next pumpkin, for no reason other than the joy of baking.
The day I packed the crockpot full of chicken thighs before embarking with my friend, Angela, to UVA’s Medical Center, I came home late at night to a container of leftover chicken in the refrigerator. The meal had not been a favorite, but it had been food, and now there was cooked chicken to be used. I stashed it in the freezer and added Chicken Pot Pie to the following week’s menu.
Since it is my son’s favorite, I planned it for an evening when he would be home for dinner. It happened to be a night when my daughter would be out. Since she is not a fan of Chicken Pot Pie, the timing was perfect.
I am learning to ask for what I need, and since daughter would be around after school, I asked if she would make a pie crust for me. She obliged, and in no time it was in a bowl on the Hoosier ready to be rolled flat.
I rolled the dough and lined the pie plate after preparing the filling on the stove top. Soon the house was filled with a delicious smell, and my heart was filled with a delicious warmth. I think it is called gratefulness.
I am grateful for the help of a daughter who is willing to do what she loves to help me do what I need even when the end result is not her favorite. I am grateful for the gift of grace, because that is all that anything is.
I am grateful that my kids are readers. I remember when the final child learned to read. It was as if I could let out a giant sigh.
I have always loved books. As a little girl, I remember being excited about trips to the library or school book club fliers. Caddie Woodlawn came from a school book club flier in fourth grade, I think.
I needed a reminder of the goodness, and my love, of books tonight when I walked up to tuck my youngest in bed and found her digging around underneath it. Just looking for Pony-wa. That was fine until I decided to actually look at what she was doing and realized there were tons of books stuffed under there, too.
Fishing book after book out from under the stuffed animals piled in the crack of her bed, I tried loosely sorting them into stacks in the hall to reshelve. You can see just a few of her very favorites still on the bed.
I’ve read ALL of them, too.
A redeeming factor maybe is that the lost library book that I finally broke down and paid for yesterday was not among the stacks. Also, I found something else in the process.
Those of you who follow the blog know this significance, and I smiled inside while tucking it into my pocket and proceeding to shelve the books in the hall.
I almost missed the message of the license plate in front on me while waiting at a stoplight. Having just dropped off the girls at middle school, I was lost in my own thoughts, preparing for the next pick up and drop off. Looking up, the letters caught my eye.
You are loved.
I needed to be reminded of this today. Thank you, Owner of the Personalized License Plate Car. I did not get to see who you were before you turned right, and I went left, but the message touched my heart. Or maybe someone got that plate for you, so that you would always remember. If so, the love trickled down. Either way, I am grateful.
The thing is, my head knows I am loved, but my heart does not always feel it. It’s a difficult dichotomy to bear. It can be frustrating to those who love me when I cannot see what is right in front of my face.
Like the license plate.
So I keep looking and trusting that I really am loved. And I keep seeing the signs that are all around. And even though I can not always feel it, I believe it is there. And sometimes I get to feel it, and it overwhelms me.
This time when I arrive home, my nine-year-old boss, not Zephyr, is waiting on the porch for me. Just as insistent that I get inside and on with the day, I try to appreciate her eagerness to be with me and only snap a little bit. Then apologize. She loves me, and I love her back.
We get ready to go, and I disappear into the bathroom. When I emerge, her dad is standing there, an unexpected change in routine which throws me all the way off.
Why are you here? I ask curtly.
I had to get something and thought I would pick up Mae and drive her in.
Softening, I recognize what I almost missed in my irritation. This act of love frees up a chunk of morning time that will help me launch the day. It gives me a head start on later, when I have a dentist appointment.
This is love, and I see and feel it with gratefulness.
My final week of teaching was filled with goodness. It was sweet to have more relaxed afternoons after busy morning program practices. Diligent work by students (and their teachers) throughout the school year meant time for fun!
This note was left on the “Teacher Appreciation Week” bulletin board for me by one of the first graders. It is one of my favorite things.
Students assembled end-of-the year memory books and collected autographs from one another. Yearbooks arrived on time. There was a pizza party. There were cupcakes to celebrate those important summer birthdays.
Thursday night brought our 25th end-of-year program. Kindergarteners graduated, grade school musicians performed, and awards were presented to the Learning Center students.
While I have not been involved in all 25 programs, I have organized and directed many. I have sat in the audience for many more, often wrangling my own infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
This year, I carried the title of piano accompanist due to my ability to play Apples and Bananas, The Piggy Song, and Round the Clock the Hours Go (Twinkle, Twinkle) with appropriate chords while the kindergarteners sang along.
I also held the title of Learning Center teacher for the final time. It was a delight to listen to my students make music with Mrs. Buchanan and then to present their awards. Looking out over the audience from behind the podium, I saw many former students and parents of students and one former student who was now a kindergarten parent!
My heart filled with a mixture of sadness and joy over endings and unknown new beginnings.
I returned to my seat in the second row only slightly disappointed that I had not asked my former students to stand. As I was letting that go I heard my name being called, and I was summoned to the podium for a special presentation.
My center spotlight survival skills immediately went to work to contain the big feelings that were surfacing. Just take the bunch of flowers and sit back down. What a nice gesture. Smile. Turn around.
It was not that simple. There’s more.
I stood awkwardly by the podium looking around as my friend and fellow teacher, Mrs. Hottinger, came down from her post on stage and reached for a gift basket to give to me. She and Mrs. Buchanan had put it together and asked to present it at the program.
I was speechless.
Words about me began to be spoken by her. That, in itself, was a gift. I heard about my impact and role in their lives as a teacher and friend and how I will be missed. She explained that the basket contained items for me as I continued on my journey. I really hoped it was full of answers and direction.
It was full of chocolate, candles, Keep Calm and Trust God cards, a handmade book, and beautiful vase. Maybe not answers, but certainly clues.
I was presented with a beautiful Psalm 23 plaque, as well, with the meaning of the verse and the images of sheep explained. It was so humbling and special.
Before I could sneak back to my seat, my husband came tp the podium to give his words for me. I listened to a brief recap of my impact and involvement in the formation of Good Shepherd from the early days until now. Five of my children were there to bear witness and to be recognized.
Reminders of how slowly and quickly 24 years can pass washed over me as I locked eyes with those in the audience who had walked the road with me over many seasons and years.
I wish that I could say that I stayed fully present and did not try to cut short my time in the spotlight while attention was being called to me. I wish the words Quit calling attention to yourself were silenced in my head for good, but they linger on.
Kindergartners were waiting in a line to receive their diplomas, and children had worked hard all evening. It was time to honor that. Feeling seen, celebrated, and loved, I asked my former students to stand before I took my final bow.
Maybe it would help to make a list of all the things you need to pack, suggests my husband. It is not the first time this idea has been offered. His diplomacy is kind, considering I still have not made any lists, yet continue to bemoan all that clutters my mind.
Meals. To dos. Classroom reminders. Items to pack. These all race inside my head, yelling for attention, sending me scurrying this way and that.
I reluctantly follow his suggestion, grabbing a pad of paper and listing out clothing items, each with a box to check once it enters my suitcase. It feels so tedious, yet I immediately sense relief as the words leave my brain and fill paper.
Why do I fight this so?
I am grateful for the growth that has happened in my ability to hear my luvvvah’s words in a spirit of kindness rather than as critique and criticism. He truly is sharing what helps him and in no way is condemning me for my inability to move.
Grateful for the list, I pull out a suitcase and begin rolling bedclothes and stuffing my short boots with socks to begin filling the space. I will wear tall boots on the plane. Where are those grey pants?
This season in Seattle is not one for Toms. I had a trial run of Seattle weather a few days ago while walking Dewey, but that is for another post.
For now, I am grateful for quiet space and a few minutes to write out some thoughts about packing and how I am growing in my ability in making a list.
My kids are out trick-or-treating. I am writing. Many irons in the writing fire, a new blog post moves to the head of the line. I hear dishes rattling in the kitchen as my husband attempts clean-up. I am thankful for his care even as I struggle with my feelings about how things are going right now.
I feel I have earned this time by last-minute costume shopping with one child who ended up choosing a completely different ~ yet adorable ~ costume from her closet. I carved three pumpkins and found food for everyone to eat on this last day of October, when all envelopes in the budget system are bare. There are pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven, being stirred every fifteen minutes.
With much on my mind, I wonder if we will one day have technology that translates thoughts into words on a page. Maybe it already exists. I am always thinking about writing and composing posts with words in my head. Sometimes I am so eloquent that it is a pity that you have to miss out on the brilliance. Others, I am grateful that there is no way for you to know what is going on inside of me.
I lost my Jetta this month through no fault of anyone’s but a driver who rear-ended my son as he was driving it. The There was an accident call incited much anxiety as my husband drove to meet him on the scene. For a terrifying twenty-minute dog walk at 10:00pm on a Thursday, I wondered what happened and what would be the outcome.
Don’t worry. It wasn’t his fault. Everything will be ok.
The text from my husband came through much to my relief, and I continued on my way, talking to my friend, Beth, who called me as she saw me on the walk. I live in a small town. She was making a left turn at an intersection I was crossing and called to say she saw me. I am grateful that I chose to answer.
The Jetta was totaled with both front and back smashed. My son was sandwiched between the car that hit him and one in front of him, stopped at the red light. I was grateful that no one was hurt but sad to lose my little car. I said as much in a Facebook post, because isn’t that what we do, post the events of our lives on the book or the gram?
Fast forward a week or two and the car replacement process was playing out. Grateful for a husband who pursued Craig’s List leads and asked for VINs, I still felt sadness over the loss of the first car that I genuinely loved and enjoyed.
My friend, Linda, generously lent her minivan after the rental car time expired, so that we did not feel pressured or rushed to make a purchase. That was such a gift.
Two Thursdays after the one in which my car was lost, a missed package card came in the mail. The next day I planned to walk downtown to retrieve it.
I did that very thing, only to be told that I was in the wrong location, and that my package was waiting at the post office further away. I hopped into the borrowed van to pick it up, curiosity getting the better of me, not willing to wait out the weekend for a re-delivery.
At the correct post office, I was handed a box from France. Resisting the urge to say, This can’t be right. Are you SURE this is for me? I signed for it.
Returning to the van, I held the lightweight package in my hand, looking it over, curious and wondering and fearful.
This has happened to me before, the receiving of an unexpected package. I am embarrassed to say that my first thought is that it was something dangerous. I did that with this package, too, which turned out to be a most delightful gift!
Biting the bullet, I tore the box open and gingerly removed the wadded up French advertisements, cushioning the contents, to reveal a small gray box with a die-cast model car in it.
This clearly was sent to the wrong location! Someone in the Etats Unis is going to be very disappointed not to receive their collectible.
It wasn’t until further notice of the VW insignia on the box that the meaning of the package struck me and I was speechless.
Someone ordered a mini die cast version of my Jetta and had it sent to me from France! Someone realized that losing my car was a big deal for me and wanted me to remember. Someone sees.
Overwhelmed was an understatement. As one who is continuing to learn to find my feelings, I was deeply moved and in a place of intense grasping for the best way to feel. Finally I decided to just take the pressure off and let my feelings come to me later.
I had many suspects on my radar, none of which were the one when I asked. It was fun to think and wonder and be curious. It was disconcerting to be the recipient of such an amazing gesture and not know who to thank. It was humbling.
My final hunch was right. I posted a Facebook status about the surprise, that I was fairly certain this friend would understand, even if she wasn’t the one.
Here is a picture of my new car. We bought it on Saturday, two weeks after the accident. It is a 2002 Honda Civic that was purchased for the exact amount of the insurance check that we got for the Jetta. That, in itself, is a gift.
Yesterday was a special day. It had been written on a calendar block, cleared of all else. We spent all day with the Boston little boy cousins and their amazing parents.
My anxiety about having little people around for the day was alleviated quickly when this little one walked in, grabbed a recorder, and began playing while his brother accompanied him on the piano.
Uncle B patiently listened to Little Mae tell all about King’s Dominion adventures using her map of the park.
My baby and my sister’s baby smiled at each other a lot, which was a huge milestone for anyone who knows my baby and her thoughts about babies.
Baby B won her over.
Meanwhile, lots of creating happened. The cry of Guys, Guys! Look over here! caught my attention. I looked to see this little one with his airplane.
My much younger sister was caught wearing my perpetual mothering face in this picture. I so know the feeling.
With everything happening at once, there were problems to solve, like the one of figuring out how to find all of the pieces and get this track to stick to the green board. Daddy to the rescue on that one! Problem solved.
It was sweet for my littles to get an opportunity to experience the life of their big siblings. Here Coco gets to feel like her big sisters when the littles were being born, holding a babe in arms.
And these eyes and little chewing mouth. I could not get enough of them.
And this snuggly sleeper. I might have cried a little.
Of course, a day with littles (or bigs for that matter) is not complete without some down time with a screen and a cuddly blanket.
This day was so full, pictures don’t do it justice. I finally had to put down the phone and just be in it, because everything was so much to take in.
I want to remember the moments of sweetness like a two-and-a-half-year-old cousin wandering into the TV room with his bowl of shredded cheese and climbing up next to Kirk and asking questions about Minecraft. My thirteen-year-old’s patient response and offer of letting him play reminded me of how Caleb treated his little brother, and my heart swelled.
I want to remember the conversations with my brother and sister that felt natural and relaxed and made us forget that we live hundreds of miles apart and that this doesn’t happen every day. Moments of falling asleep on the couch or walking out into the yard or playing UNO Attack (thanks, B!!!!) felt like they happen every day.
And dinner time. Oh, the dinner table.
I want to remember shopping with my sister and planning our meal like it’s the most normal thing in the world, all while talking about everything. I want to remember cooking and being together and living life.
I want to remember what it was like to have a full dinner table and the littles getting to be the bigs and experiencing the noise and cries and trauma of food touching other food or too much ketchup coming out of the bottle or corn on the cob rolling onto the wrong place on the plate. Our table was full and loud and fun.
Our day was full and loud and fun.
My body, mind, and soul felt full and tired and happy and sad and grateful, so very grateful.
At the end of the day when, Sister Selfie! was called, here is what we got. Sister selfie, plus one. I am old enough to be this girl’s mom, so I could technically be a grandma. Technically. Not yet.
For now I relish being auntie to this precious little one and his brothers and will hold so many special memories close to my heart.