Thursday, October 11, 2018


I took a break from everything. Mothering, teaching, managing meals around our family's various activities schedule. It’s been great. I took a LONG weekend (nearly a week) to spend some time with my parents in Idaho. My dad had open heart surgery a little over a month ago and my siblings and I have taken turns going out to stay with them. I think I planned it out just right though—my brothers and sister have done all the hard work of getting their farm and house ready for winter and I mostly just spent time with them. 

Part of me is still here in in this place.

Sunrise from the deck

My dad is limited in what he is supposed to do, and my mom is limited in what she can do only because she is, contrary to what some might believe based on what she accomplishes on a normal basis, human. And she has to keep Dad from doing too much. They are the hardest working people I know, and they live off their land. They can make anything grow. Anywhere. They have two big gardens, a gigantic berry patch, and a large orchard. 

This is their retirement. They live on a hill above the lake I spent my summers at when I was a kid-- just up the hill from where my grandparents lived.  

Have I been a little anxious about how all my boys are holding up back home? A little. And I miss them. I’m so thankful for Brian being so supportive of my decision to come out, and for taking care of the boys all week. But this is the place I need to be right now. And it’s so quiet.

We always come here in the summers, but then it is busier. There are all the summer boaters and swimmers and it's very much a vacation-y time for me and for my family, as well as for most other people at the lake. Now it is quiet and chilly. There are a lot of fall colors in the orchard and in the brush along the roads. I’m rockin’ my flannel shirt. The deer smell hunting season coming. Most everything in the garden has been harvested. The old raspberry canes are stacked up to burn. All the apples and pears have been picked. I picked the last apple tree the other day and helped my mom and dad press cider and make applesauce.

The earth is getting ready to sleep under blankets of snow.

I got to watch playoff baseball with my dad, the one who taught me to love baseball when I was little. The highlight of that was seeing the Yankees get eliminated. I got to go kayaking on the still, blue lake, roast s’mores over a fire with some cousins, and visit my grandparents’ graves. I picked herbs from my grandma’s herb garden for her and Mom picked various noxious (but flowering) weeds and some pine tree branches for Grandpa, from his fields and woods. I went to water aerobics with Mom and some old ladies. It wiped me out, except for my biking legs, that held up fine. :)  

I helped my mom cook a ton of tacos and burritos for their church’s Awana kickoff night. I did a fair amount of paper grading at the table while watching sunrises. Now that I type this all out, it seems like I did a lot. But it felt very laid back and peaceful, and like I said, quieter than my normal life.

It has put me in a poetic mood, but I haven’t come up with a poem I’m happy about sharing yet, so I’m sharing one I wrote the summer before last about being in Idaho at my parents’ house. The power of place interests me. How people can become so much a part of a certain place. I have lived in Virginia nearly as long as I lived in Idaho, but there’s something about those formative years that leave an imprint on a person. I do love Virginia and could (and should, actually…good idea) write a poem about Virginia too. But for now, here is what I wrote about being part of a place and a place being a part of me.

In summer dry air
In cool blue mountain shade
In prickly yellow wheat fields,
always whispering, never heard
It’s Here.
In quiet gravel steps
In calm rows of cabbages and corn
In dust ribbons rising behind trucks,
dancing away, never remembered
It’s Here.
In slender pine tree needles
In silver blue green water
rippling on a lake born of glaciers
always moving, never changed
It’s Here.
In still moonshadows at the garden gate
In crickets’ midnight songs
In silent zig zag lights of a car descending a mountain
always inching, never stopped
In pink purple clover blooms
In tangled orange honeysuckle
In ditches of milkweed and teasel,
always growing, always spreading
I’m Here.
I’m the little girl in braids
you almost see
skipping under sweet cherry trees
shoulders pink from sunshine
Always Here, never gone

And now, when my plane leaves from Denver, I'll be on to my noise. My beautiful, beautiful boy noise, which is another place where a very large part of me is.

apples from the last apple tree



Friday, October 5, 2018

My Scrapbook

This is my scrapbook. There are stories on here that I would have forgotten forever if I hadn't chronicled them-- if I hadn't whispered and shouted about them when they happened. The boys all love to hear me read these old entries about them when they were little, and there's so much that exists here that I would have forgotten if I hadn't written about it. So...after two years of not blogging, I'm back. I make no promises about frequent posting, but I think anything will be better than nothing.

My life is considerably different than it was when I started this blog. I am no longer a stay-at-home mom, who needs to write to stay sane, but a working mom. I no longer use the word "diaper" fifteen or more times a day. We no longer live in our little cozy condo, but have upgraded to a townhouse in an adorable little neighborhood not far from our old condo. The place feels gigantic. We have had all kinds of discussions and conundrums trying to figure out what to do with all this space. It's a new adventure. Really a whole new mindset from the angle I took on my other blog, At Home In A Nutshell.

The twins are now in fourth grade and Teddy is in kindergarten! I love the snuggles Ted gives me and all the kisses. He's a very affectionate little guy, who always tells me he loves me. Granted, he also has told me I'm the meanest mom ever, so it's a mixed bag, but still. The love is there.

Reading over past entries I see how much my life was consumed by taking care of my kids. It still is, but there are also so many other things consuming my life now on top of them. I love that I had that special time at home with them and was able to give them so much of me. I love it, even though we lived in such a small space for such a long time. Totally worth it to get to stay home and see my babies every day. But now I have a basement. And a backyard. And a workout room. And an office. It really might be too much. I sometimes feel paralyzed because I don't know where in the house I should be or what I should be doing. That doesn't feel normal.

I bike to work every day-- I leave home at 7:15 AM. I usually get to see the boys puttering around in the mornings but I miss all the super fun stuff like forcing them to get dressed and brush their teeth in time to leave for school. My amazing mother-in-law comes over and does that.

My bike ride is perfect and beautiful. It now takes me only 12-13 minutes and it's hilly, but not too hilly. I'm winded when I get to my classroom, but I'm not out of breath or soaking in sweat. I give myself a little time to change and cool down before my students arrive. I teach 130 teenagers about reading and writing. It's a tall order, but I like it...most days. I love it when girls who say they hate reading fall in love with Atticus Finch and when students throw notebooks across the room in frustration when Elizabeth Proctor lies to try save John Proctor in The Crucible. To see them so engaged and emotionally involved in literature is awesome. To help them become stronger writers is rewarding. This year my big project is reviving the school newspaper. It's a shame, but our high school has been without a school paper for several years and I have a grand total of eleven journalism students determined to bring it back.

I believe I've reached a healthy work/home balance. I try very hard to get my school work done at work. I bike home-- stopping on my way to get the boys from their school-- walk home with them and make dinner or pack something to eat for dinner out at the ball field if it's baseball season. Play with the kids. Read books with the kids. Help them with homework. Inevitably I end up doing a little grading at home and a little planning, but not most weekends, because mostly my work life and home life are separate.

Brian works close to home also-- he's still doing technology support in a couple schools in the district. He keeps very busy with coaching the twins' travel baseball team, their house baseball teams, and being on the board of the local Little League.

So there's a catch-up for any of my old blog-readers who might be out there. My next entry will be more entertaining and less informative, as I strive to continue my whispers and shouts as a scrapbook of my little life of teaching, parenting, and writing. Cheers!

My three little loves are getting big!  

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