July 27, 2012 | My Jottings
My new granddaughter Louisa has been a big hit with her three older siblings. They all ask, constantly, if it’s their turn to hold her yet. The other night at bedtime, ten year-old Mr. McBoy asked his parents if Louisa could pleeease sleep with him? Eight year-old Mrs. Nisky has learned to help Mama bathe Louisa, and has been rewarded with smiles from her new little sister. Lil’ Gleegirl, age five, also wants to hold Louisa all the time, and Sharon captured an adorable picture of the two of them snuggling together last week.
Right after Louisa was born I took the three older children to the hospital to meet her and to see their mama, and it was so beautiful to watch them be amazed with their little sister, and to see love take root in their hearts so quickly.
I am so happy when love takes root quickly, in any situation.
The children watched as Sharon changed Louisa’s diaper, and Lil’ Gleegirl saw the clamped umbilical cord and asked with wide eyes, “What is that?”
Of course Sharon perfectly explained how Louisa was fed inside of her by that umbilical cord, and that every person had an umbilical cord at one time, and the proof that we did is our belly buttons.
Lil’ Gleegirl was taking this all in; it was a lot of information to process for a five year-old. We told her that when she came home after she was born, she had an umbilical cord with a clamp on it too, and that in a few days it dried up and fell off. Even as I’m typing this I can certainly understand why this made an impression on Lil’ Gleegirl. The words dried up and fell off set the wheels turning in her mind, I’m sure.
We knew she was still thinking about this neonatal information when she kept mentioning it each day for several days after Louisa was born. Except that Lil’ Gleegirl wanted to make sure that Louisa’s embillican was okay.
She wasn’t sure when or how or why Louisa’s embillican was going to fall off and disappear, but maybe saying the word embillican several times a day just helped Lil’ Gleegirl, a verbal processor if I’ve ever seen one, wrap her mind around the idea.
I was telling a friend this morning that I don’t like it when children grow up and leave all their sweet, childish vocabulary behind. This is my way of keeping it around just a little bit longer. Chances are when Lil’ Gleegirl graduates from college she won’t be saying the word embillican anymore.
But guess what?
The Telltale Ear
July 19, 2012 | My Jottings
Just the other morning
While reading from a book
Michael pointed at our bed
So I would take a look
At first I just saw pillows
I then began to peer
And there behind the cardinal
Was a little Schnauzer ear
When Mildred heard us chuckle
Up popped her silky head
From the comfy den of pillows
She’d made on our big bed
When she saw we wouldn’t move her
She lowered her brown eyes
And then she plopped her head right down
And heaved her doggy sighs
Encircled by nine pillows
To ward away her fear
You’d never know she’s snoozing
But for that telltale ear.
Addendum: this final verse was offered in the comments by my friend Kay in England, and it was so apt and delightfully written, I asked her permission to include it here:
So Mildred returned to her snoozing
Dreaming fondly of rabbits to chase
But always keeping an ear on alert
Whilst concealing the rest of her face!
I hope that makes you smile today….it made me grin from “ear to ear.”
The Bathroom Fraud
July 14, 2012 | My Jottings
Right before Michael and I dropped off to sleep last night, I remarked to him, “We’ve slept in our new house 43 nights now.”
“Wow,” he said, then he turned over, and his soft, back-of-the-throat snoring began.
You know you’re getting really, truly old, when a little shiver of happiness goes through you each and every Friday night because you know you’ll get to sleep until 7:00 a.m. the next morning. This is what happens to me now, and I’m going to just go with it and enjoy it, rather than bemoan the fact that my life is rather small.
What makes a “big” life anyway? Travel? A super-powered job? Fame? A large, active family? Being crazy-busy and over-committed? I’m not sure. I do feel like our lives are slowly being pared down into something small, and there are times when that brings some melancholy thoughts. Most of the time I just take those thoughts right to the Lord. I think it’s fine and normal to have them, especially if you’re me, and I tell Him about them (as if He doesn’t already know) and begin to thank Him for all the ways I see Him in this whittled down life, and then a peaceful blanket of joy and wonder often settles over me.
But I digress. I am going to talk to you today about what a Bathroom Fraud I am.
First, I’ll start out by showing you a picture of the kind of bathroom I would probably design for myself if we were having a house built or remodeled.
I’ve never owned a claw foot tub, however. I like how old-fashioned they look. In the bathroom I design I would choose a pedestal sink, white cabinetry, and a pale, classic color on the walls. I would have white towels and fresh flowers, perhaps some wainscoting halfway up the walls.
I like the way some decorators manage to make things look old-fashioned with a modern twist. I like the bathroom pictured to the right.
If I were designing my own bathroom, the kind of decor I would never choose would be the ultra-modern, upscale hotel-type, super-chic bathroom with all the latest bathroom bells and whistles.
That is just not me. I like nice things, but I don’t have to have them. Mostly I just want things to be clean and orderly. We lived in a house for 25 years that was by no means fancy, but after Michael was done with it, it was a blessed refuge I cherished, and it had wavy floors and walls out of plumb and lots of old house issues. But I loved it.
Whenever we’ve watched HGTV and seen the bathroom makeovers that are said to have a “spa” feel, I can appreciate the craftsmanship and the design, but I’ve never been attracted to that modern look. Old and traditional has always whispered my name.
If you’ve read my blog these last months you know that we moved recently. You know that we tried to sell our previous home and it didn’t sell for months. You know that it finally sold when it was off the market. You know that the buyers weren’t keen on giving us time to find a new house, didn’t seem to appreciate that with Foster care, you don’t just set sail toward the horizon and hope that an island will eventually appear. You might remember that we asked our buyers to give us two weeks to find a suitable house, and they reluctantly gave us five days. You might even recall that when their offer on our previous house was about to die on Saturday morning, we had looked at houses all week and found nothing. We even looked at the one we eventually bought and ruled it out, because it was a little more expensive than we wanted, and every room had a very modern vibe to it, which I could admire, but didn’t want to live in. You’ll remember that we looked at that modern house again on Friday night, trying to see it through a new set of lenses, since we were down to the wire. And that we put in a low offer, it was accepted, and we had entered into a purchase agreement just in time.
As we packed up our old house and prepared to move on May 31st, I often thought about the things in this new house that I love, and eagerly anticipated each one. The lack of stairs, especially for Michael. The view of Lake Superior. The finished basement. The huge master bedroom that I knew would be a refuge for us.
But each time I thought about our new home’s master bathroom, I had to stifle a laugh. Because it is so modern and spa-like and “over the top,” I wondered how I would ever feel comfortable in it. I am a simple woman who comes from hardy Midwestern stock (Missouri and Kansas), even though I grew up in Southern California. Refined and elegant I am not.
When we moved in and I first used this room which is attached to our master bedroom, I felt like a poser. A fraud.
Yes, I am a Bathroom Fraud.
No claw foot tub here. The tub is an infinity tub (have you heard of infinity swimming pools?), so you can fill it all the way up to the edge if you want a deep, soaking bath with only your eyes sticking out like an alligator in a swamp. If the water sloshes over the edge a little, no prob. Click on the photos to enlarge them if you like, and you can see the little trough around the tub which catches any overflow and prevents it from spilling on the very modern black slate floor.
No pedestal sink here. These are stainless steel vessel sinks, set on a thick glass counter that is softly lit at night so when we stumble to the bathroom in the “wee” morning hours, we can find our way.
The ultra modern, strange looking toilet is in a separate small room; you can just see the door at the right beyond the tub. The toilet has two buttons. One is to save water and gives a half flush. The other is a full flush. I should probably have never mentioned the differences to my grands, because now when they come over, the little ones come running and say, “Grandma, which button do I press if I go pee?” and so on. They just can’t remember which is which.
I like old-fashioned looking faucets. Our new faucets stick right out of the huge mirrored wall behind the vessel sinks. Can you see them?
At the far end of the room is a black towel, hanging over a towel warmer. I told Michael in a dismissive snort, “I will never use that towel warmer.” He promptly replied, “I will.”
Just above the black towel on the towel warmer is an opaque sheet of glass. Just beyond that is the biggest shower I have ever been in. I feel like I’m back at Traweek Junior High School on the first day of P.E. (in SoCal we called it Physical Education, here in the Midwest they call it Gym Class).
There are tiny turquoise, aqua, light grey and white tiles everywhere in the bathroom, including the walls and the ceiling of the shower.
Guess what Michael’s favorite feature of the bathroom is?
The shower head as big as a pizza pan, that makes you feel like you’re standing under a tropical waterfall when you’re taking a shower.
Guess what my favorite part of the bathroom is?
The multi-colored lights that you can turn on when you’re taking a nice, soaking bath!
Uh, no. I’m kidding. These lights change slowly from pink to purple to green to blue to yellow. So if you take a bubble bath, then just below the frothy surface you can see a mild psychedelic light show going on.
If you take a bath without bubbles and turn on the multi-colored lights, then you can enjoy the singular experience of seeing your cellulite in bright and cheery colors as you’ve never imagined it before. Neon, multi-colored cellulite. Who says my life is small?
Now, guess how this super deep tub with a zillion air jets is filled? If you look back at the pictures you can see there is no noticeable spigot (although there is a hand-held sprayer at the right of the tub for washing your hair.)
Imagine our slack jaws when we first turned the handle on the wall and this happened:
A stream of water the diameter of a garden hose flows from the ceiling. Without splashing all over the place. What I will say about this is that the grandkids love it. “Can we take a tubby?” is one of the first things they say when they come to visit now.
Do you see the electrical outlet and the cable hookup above the towels in the photo above? The previous owner had a flat screen television mounted there. I don’t think I’ll be following suit. That would make me even more of a Bathroom Fraud than I already am.
I have an aqua colored shirt that I wear when I go into our new aqua colored bathroom. Who could have known how fortuitously foresighted my catalog purchase was years ago?
At one end of the bathroom is the shower. On the opposite end is our closet.
Neither Michael or I are what you would call fashion conscious. I used to be someone who liked clothes a lot, but now I try not to pay attention to them too much. It’s my way of being an ostrich about my surplus poundage. If I don’t try on and buy a lot of clothes, don’t have to look at myself in a mirror that much, then I don’t need to address the issue, right? Isn’t that how it’s done? I do have some clothes, but just getting on the subject makes me start to break out in hives just a bit, so I’ll just move on to the next photos.
When we toured this house the first time and saw this closet, I laughed. “Well, I guess our eight shirts would fit in here!” I said with a touch of sarcasm. Then we bought the house and even though we’re not clothes people, I could see that we had more than eight shirts. This is Michael’s side of the closet below, but those are my shoes. We use the upper shelves (which go all the way to the ceiling) for extra blankets and doodads.
And this is part of my side of the closet, and I used the upper shelf for things I used to store in bookcases.
Michael is always telling me he needs a new jacket, a new spring windbreaker, a new hoodie, a new down-filled winter coat. Now I have photographic documentation in the photo below that proves he is set quite nicely for coats and jackets for the next century or so.
We no longer have a guest bedroom, so I used some of the shelves to store the guest linens until we figure out if we’re ever going to transform our huge attic into a guest suite.
This closet is the size of a small room. We have an inflatable queen-sized mattress we use for guests, and when the grandchildren come over, they think it’s the biggest treat ever to sleep on that mattress in Grandpa and Grandma’s closet!
Even though just being in our master bathroom still seems to me like we’re visiting someplace, I’m starting to be less startled by it. The tub I thought was a little too over the top, has now become the nicest tub I’ve ever bathed in, and it feels like a gift.
Thank you for stopping by today and taking this little tour with me.
You know how when you have something you want to share, you say things like, “Hey Christy, come on over and sit with me on our deck and have some fresh lemonade.” or “Carey, would you like to come over to sit by the fire and have some tea and scones”?
Now I’ve taken to saying to friends and family, “Why don’t you come over sometime soon and take a bath?”
July 10, 2012 | My Jottings
With so much joy and gratitude,
we announce the safe
and long-anticipated arrival of
Louisa Timothy Bridget McMahon
9 pounds, 7 ounces
21 inches long
on July 10, 2012 at 4:44 a.m.
Mama Sharon and Daddy Chris are tired, but doing fine.
Louisa’s big brother and two big sisters
took turns holding her
and are smitten already.
Thank you for your prayers for our family…
Big and Crazy is Better Than Small and Estranged
July 7, 2012 | My Jottings
That’s my motto for the month, and it applies to families.
A big and crazy family who loves each other even though they’re sometimes a little nuts, is so much better than a small family who seems to be more outwardly composed (and perhaps “normal”) but hasn’t spoken to each other in years.
Profound, isn’t it?
My husband has a large extended family. His mother Bernadine (Bernie) was the oldest of seven children, and each of those seven had their own children. And now all those children have had their own little ones, so there are probably close to a hundred just on this one side of Michael’s family.
Bernie’s parents (Michael’s maternal grandparents) owned a small cabin on a lovely, tranquil lake, and that cabin became a family gathering place over the next several decades, especially on the 4th of July. Now out of the seven children, only three remain: Rosemary, Donna and Yvonne, who are in their sixties and seventies. Bernadine, Bertine “Dude,” Dick and Keith have all gone home to be with the Lord.
After Bernie’s parents died, Rosemary’s family bought the cabin, and the family get-together on July 4th continued. We drove out to the cabin this year and did what the family always does: sat and chatted, hugged, laughed, ate good food, rejoiced in the beauty and privilege of such a gorgeous setting, and marveled at how quickly the years pass.
Pictured from left, Michael’s sister Pat, his Uncle Frank, his Aunt Yvonne, our Foster Betsy, and Michael:
The day was a little cooler than the 90-degree weather we’ve been having, and a little overcast. Sara took a long swim in the lake, and if Michael’s family had all been blind, I would have joined her.
Michael’s only sibling Pat, on the left. She and her husband Joe just sold their house in the Twin Cities area, moved back north, and are building their retirement home on some beautiful land in Knife River, MN.
We have a cabin culture in Minnesota. In other parts of the country, when people gain some financial margin and can afford to purchase something extra, some buy fancy cars and others begin to travel extensively. I remember my last trip to Southern California, where I grew up. I had never seen so many BMWs, Mercedes Benzes, Porsches and Corvettes on the roads in my life. It was like the whole culture had changed to an expensive car culture. You won’t see that in northern Minnesota, even if people do have money. Here, if people have extra, they buy a cabin on a lake.
I wish I had taken more pictures of Michael’s big and wacky family. I say wacky because they laugh and joke and boss each other around good-naturedly. Like any family, they have disagreements and frustrations between members. But they never let it sever their relationships. They keep on loving, keep on getting together, keep on hugging and praying for each other. If there are hurt feelings, they forgive and get over it. The family bond of love is never cut.
Below, Pat, Michael, and Sara.
I, on the other hand, come from a composed, accomplished and highly regarded family. (Ha.) If any craziness surfaced in us, the unspoken rule of steel was that it was to be squashed, because we didn’t want people to know we had problems.
When I was fourteen years old, that composure cracked and our family of five blew apart. Then the anger and pride and bitterness that had been undealt with all those years, took root and has had its pervasive, decaying way for the last forty years.
There have been no 4th of July family gatherings on my side of the family. No disagreements that end in hugs and stronger bonds. No goofy laughter and compassionate conversations. No humility. When I think of going to a family gathering at a cabin for my side of the family, I can’t figure out whether to laugh hysterically at the idea, or to flee. It would be tense, surfacey, “religious” and sad. It might even end with anger and accusations and more bitterness than before.
I don’t know how my extended family’s situation will ever change, except that the God we all believe in is a resurrecting God. He knows how to bring life where there has been death. And He’s been known to shine brilliant light where there has been suffocating darkness. I don’t know what to do except to ask Him again to have His way with our small, needy and estranged family.
And to please make us more like Michael’s big and crazy family.
I would not be a blessed member of Michael’s big and crazy family if not for this beautiful woman:
Her name is Yvonne, and she’s Michael’s youngest aunt. Do you see how loving, accepting and nurturing she looks? She’s all those things, and more.
In 1976 I was married to my first husband and living on Beale AFB in Northern California. I met Yvonne there when I was 19 and she was 32, because her sweet daughters Celeste and Kathleen (then 9 and 7) came to my back door and we got to know each other. Yvonne took me under her wing and became a patient friend and example to me. It was at this time and because of Yvonne that I first heard about and desired the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
As military families do, we each eventually moved on. My husband, little daughter and I moved to Germany, and I believe Yvonne’s husband Frank got orders to North Dakota. But we continued to exchange letters and call once in a while. Little did I know in 1976 that in a few short years my marriage would suddenly end, and that Yvonne was one of the friends I would turn to for prayer.
It’s a long story, and if you’re interested you can read the poem I wrote about it by clicking here.
Now Yvonne and I are in the same family. Three days ago on July 4th, I looked into her lovely eyes and it hit me afresh. I am married to her nephew and have been for 31 years. I live in Minnesota because of her.
I have experienced life with a small, composed and ultimately estranged family, and life with a big, crazy and loving family. I love them both so much.
But only one has made me feel like I can breathe, be myself, and experience unconditional acceptance and love. God surely knew that I would need a place to heal and grow, and I thank Him for planting me here. When I reach the end of my earthly life, if I could be half as kind and loving as so many in Michael’s extended family are, I would die a happy woman. I’m not there yet, but spending time with folks like these keeps me moving in the right direction.
July 3, 2012 | My Jottings
After having lived in this new house for one month now, we rearranged our living room furniture. Just a few little changes make everything work so much better, and it seems like a larger space too.
There were a few extra chairs set out this morning, because I was expecting guests. Or fellow studiers. Definitely friends.
What I really see when I look at these pictures, aside from the living room, is expectancy. A hopeful, quiet waiting.
Eleven empty seats, set out in anticipation of eleven hopeful, expectant women.
The DVD for Session 2 from this study was cued up, ready to play.
My sweet granddaughter Mrs. Nisky, who will be eight years old this month, helped me get things ready.
She spent the night in our closet last night.
That might not sound right to some of you, but try not to gasp in judgment and just wait a few days, and I’ll post a picture of our closet. The grandkids want to sleep in there. Heck, with our super-comfortable queen-sized air mattress, I wouldn’t mind sleeping in there. Except we have a heavenly new king-sized mattress, so I think I’m supposed to sleep by my husband in our bedroom, not in our closet.
This morning eleven women (one was missing and also dearly missed) gathered together, and we brought our hopes, needs and our expectancy with us. There wasn’t one who doesn’t have a thing or eight she’s asking the Lord to do.
I think we were all awed by how timely this study on James, Jesus’ half-brother, and on the book he penned, already seems to be.
We don’t really know yet what God plans to do in our hearts and lives. But I believe each one of us is expectant.
We are waiting on Him. Hoping. Trusting.
Edwin Louis Coles said,
“Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.”
When He walked this earth, Jesus opened blind eyes, caused paralyzed people to walk, and set bound people free. Those were miracles.
Today I ask Him to open my eyes, to help me walk closer to Him, and that I would be a slave to no one but Him.
Those would be miracles too.