Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PaPaw; friends

Here, for my enjoyment (and perhaps yours), is a picture of my grandfather at his 85th birthday party in the floor -- yes, I said in the floor, with all of his great-grandchildren so far. How many 85-year-olds do you know who can get down in the floor AND get back up off of it easily? He's probably more agile than I am, I didn't think to compare. This is Abbie, Julianne, PaPaw, my 2nd cousin Laney, Chloe, and Joey.
My friends are valuable to me. I count only a handful of people among my closest friends, though according to Facebook I have 293 friends (and counting.) While I am glad to know all of those people, and would help any of them in a pinch, I have a close-to-the-belt inner circle. [Well, I'm not a big belt-wearer, but you know what I mean.]

Some people are fortunate enough to have an inner circle where each member of the circle knows the others, and they're an intimate group. In my case, however, my nearest and dearest are spread from city to city, state to state. I long for times to gather them all up together and have a Clarissa session (you know, where they all analyze and fix me and love on me a bit.) But I get by on phone calls and the occasional lunches ... emails and text messages (got that bill the other day -- have to cut back on those puppies!)

The storms of life have decided to rage around me lately, and I have felt tossed and turned as a ship at sea -- but every time I've reached out to find solid footing, I've found strong support. My husband is my rock of support, though I don't deserve him ... thank you for the music, Rob. That is carrying me through my days. (My sweet husband made me a "mix tape" as one of my friends said ... some songs to bring back memories and some songs to encourage me. A blessing.)

My friends have also stood as my stalwart supporters when I was feeling too weak to stand. Life throws curve balls even at nicely settled thirty-something mothers sometimes, causing them to lose their focus on what is truly important ... and to me, what I want to be central to my life (barring my relationship with God, certainly) is my family.
It is so easy to forget about the little eyes watching me ... so easy to forget the little ears listening. So easy to forget my husband's need for time with me; so easy to retreat into my own world where I am consumed with selfishness. But my friends have stood up to me and stood up for my family and talked straight with me. Not many friends are the kind who will risk losing a friend in order to attempt to point her in the right direction.

I am a woman singularly blessed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

the pain of parting

I've had to face a new struggle over the last several days, a phenomenon for any of our children: Chloe cries when she has to leave me. She is begging not to go to school, didn't want to go to Sunday School; the crying even begins the night before. It calms her some if she knows I will make her lunch, for some reason. I need to do that every day, anyway ... this certainly provides additional much-needed motivation for this non-morning person.

This began last Thursday ... I got a call from her school about 1:40 that she was crying inconsolably. That just is not like my sunshine girl, so we all assumed she was feeling poorly in some way. I picked her up early, and kept her home Friday. Actually, I had picked up ALL the children early Thursday, because right after the call about Chloe, I heard from the big school that Abbie's temperature was 102 degrees. I decided to pull the rest of them out since I got there about 2 (school lets out at 3.)

It just occurred to me ... I don't think I signed them out!

So, I had to keep Abbie at home, thought I might as well keep Chloe, too. Rob and I took turns with them, working it around my lesson schedule. Not sure how you folks who are both full-time and can't get off work handle these things! It was complicated enough for us!

Anyway. This morning comes and Chloe is practically weeping. "But I don't want to go to school!" I asked her why. "I just don't want to." I kept pressing her, because I've been around the block enough times with my kids to know when they are keeping something from me. Finally, I got her to admit what was bothering her.

ALL her friends had been mean to her yesterday (Thursday, in Chloe-speak.) I said, All of them? She insisted, Yes, all of them. Rob and I both tried to encourage her that whatever the problem had been, that her friends would have long forgotten it by now. She wasn't so sure. When I dropped her off, she walked, crying, through the door.

Oh, the stabbing pain of parting.

Monday, September 8, 2008

back to the store

Those of you who've followed my writings for several years may recall that once I wrote about trips to the grocery store and the spectacle I made with my four children -- two in the car section of the buggy, one in a car seat in the top, and Julianne walking. And that doesn't even begin to touch the amount of groceries I would have to buy. People literally stared, said, "My, you have your hands full." One man even said to me, "You're going to regret that one day." The gall!! Children are blessings from the LORD. Doesn't mean every row to hoe will be without it's weeds and rocky patches; I'm no dummy. But I will never regret having had any of my four.

Well, folks, let me tell you: I have learned a few things since then. One is, not only is it easier to go grocery shopping without the children, but I spend less money when they aren't with me because I am not as concerned with people staring at the huge crowd of us. Two is, I had no idea what it meant, even just a few years ago, to buy a lot of groceries. And I believe I'll be saying the same in another few years. These kids can eat!!

My friend Kim Johnson (not my cousin Kim Johnson Yeaglin) has introduced me to on which I can plan my purchases and utilize sales and coupons (how do you pronounce coupons?) much more advantageously than I've ever done. You pay 10 dollars every 2 months for the help with, say, Kroger, but it has saved me anywhere from 25 to 60 % off of my grocery bill ever since I began using it back in June. You just have to spend a little time in preparation and you actually have to clip the coupons from the Sunday paper. I love it when even the cashiers are impressed with how much money I've saved with store discounts and coupons combined. I saved almost $90 Saturday. :-)

However, to do all that, it takes me twice as long to shop because I am looking for specific items, and my buggy gets filled to overflowing thanks to buy one, get one free sales and 10 for 10$ sales and the sheer amount of food these children require. So now, people gawk at my buggy rather than my children. They rush to beat me to checkout. If they get stuck behind me, they'll say, aren't any other aisles open? The checkers and baggers say, "Oh, here comes a big one," and I don't think they're referring to my girth (she says with mirth.)

They always offer to help me out to the car now, and I'm like, no thank you. "Are you sure?" "No, I've got it." Now, if they'd come home and help me get it all into the house, that would be good, but that's not going to happen. Honestly. I can move everything from buggy to back of van.

Showers of blessings on all my friends and those yet to become my friends ...

Monday, September 1, 2008

School is into full swing by now. I have been blessed with an amazing number of piano students at Madison Academy ... 28 already! I have a couple more I teach at home, that makes 30. I'm about to add Joey and Abbie to my school schedule, this week; that will make 32, but they won't pay, I don't think! My schedule keeps me hopping, as I wander around following the P.E. schedule. I have no more than two lessons at a stretch, and then a break can be anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours, depending on the music room availability. Everyone has been so appreciative and cooperative and everything has gone so smoothly, so I am very thankful.

I have had many people ask me if I plan to go back to school. The answer is ... I don't know. I want to finish, I am only 3 semesters away from my degree if I attend full-time. However, I don't know if I will be able to attend full time anymore; it was too hard on our family, it was too hard on me. Especially 19 hours!!

We had a Labor Day cookout at Rob's folks place this evening. We hadn't all gotten together in awhile; it was nice. Found out recently that we're to be aunt and uncle again in the spring ... We're all very excited for Amy & David (& Sarah!) It is a long time until April, though. So we wait!

Rob is working very hard these days. When he's not at work, he's working in his office here. He's working on a huge program that seemingly will never end, but anyone out there who knows about these things knows programs can grow and grow. He says the light is now visible at the end of the tunnel. I can only hope.

The children are all settled nicely into school. Chloe has started reading some for us lately. She's been doing scattered words for quite some time, but is finally putting them together and is quite proud of herself. I think it is amazing what they can do even with parents who are spread too thin, don't you? (A little guilt coming through, there.)

My next big goals: strive for continuous punctuality (yikes!) and do at least two loads of laundry every day.

Aren't you uplifted by reading this blog? :-)

Blessings, friends ...