Thursday, January 14, 2016

Watching Boys Bloom

I mentioned in our Christmas letter about our time living on Grampy’s farm, but I must write down a little more, if only for my own personal record keeping.  It was such a special time for all of us but my memory is liable to throw out those precious moments along with last week’s grocery list and the lyrics to Britney Spears’ earliest hits. 

When we arrived at the farm, all of us were unsure of what this new normal would look like.  Grampy, being a widower of over 20 years, certainly had his own methods and routines established, and I was certain that the arrival of two young adults and two very young boys would disrupt most, if not all, of life as he knew it.  The same went for Cindy, who had been living on the farm for some time. 
But I had underestimated a farmer’s ability to adapt.  You see, farmers are the kings of adaptation.  They carefully watch every stalk of corn as it grows and learn to act just like it.  The corn stalk and the farmer brace against strong winds by having deep roots, attached to the land with a firm affection.  They weather the rains together, and raise their sun-wrinkled hands in a plea for more in the dry months.  And always, always, the farmer and the corn stalk look straight up to the sky for their guiding light.  So Grampy adjusted and adapted to life on the farm with his rag-tag Brady Bunch, gently bending to the whims of my boys and showing them the beauty of Texas farmland, as well as what it takes to be its caretaker.
I had also underestimated what fertile, Texas dirt can grow.  Have you ever seen boys bloom?  Being on the farm was like watching a time lapse film of a flower opening.  Although time seemed to tick by more slowly due to the leisurely pace of living we adopted in Rogers, Texas, somehow the boys developed faster.  The country air filled their lungs and filled their minds with imaginative games.  Sticks turned into swords and musical instruments, pecans were an impromptu snack or a grenade to throw in battle, and the old, old oak trees provided enough supervision for me to stay inside for a while and allow Carter to experience the freedoms afforded to country boys.  The soothing green of the grass and the dappled shade seemed to mollify whatever internal chaos was causing Harrison’s colic fits.  His crying became less frequent, and he settled into our routine of life on the farm.
Does it sound magical?  It should.  It was.  Where else can you learn how to plant black eyed peas and then watch as they sprout?  What better way to show how quickly crops grow than to stand next to them daily and witness the very moment when they outpace you?  How can you understand symbiosis if you’ve not felt the tickle of a ladybug crawl from your arm to the raised garden, and then tasted the crisp, fresh lettuce from the garden that was protected by the ladybug?  It was an education for all of us, and also an example, because one cannot help but to grow as a person when surrounded by so many other things that are growing tall and strong and true.
As they say, all good things must come to an end.  Our time under the ancient branches of the oaks was over in a few short months, but not before a few new ideas had been sown.  I blame Grampy, of course, for this ruin of our former ideas of the perfect homestead.  We used to dream of a big house in the city, close to a grocery store and near the good schools.  But after just a few months on the farm the dream shifted.  Now we can’t imagine putting down roots anywhere without enough space to unfurl our branches, and I hope it can be green, and I wish for nearby water for fishing, and ladybugs, and sticks, and blue skies, and an old man to teach us the old ways, and young boys to show us the pleasure of new things.  I can only hope that some of the things planted in us in that time will find a place to grow here in Abilene, strong and straight up to the sky, and always, always able to adapt.

So we're looking for a little bit of land...


Monday, January 11, 2016

Post Holiday Hangover

No, Mom, this post isn't about drinking. It's about how hard it is to go back to work after a long holiday break. I know, I know...all of the people out there who DIDN'T get a long holiday break are like, do you want some cheese with that wine? And I totally get your point. But the post-holiday hangover is pretty awful, no matter which way you slice it.

Here's how it went for me this year:

I woke up on Monday morning feeling rested and ready to tackle a new year. Jeffrey was already at work because his post-holiday hangover involved rounding on all his patients in the hospital and being greeted by 2 solid hours of paperwork, drug refills, signing lab orders, and returning phone calls. What a dream.

Back on the homestead, I fixed both boys breakfast and shuffled them into the living room for our ritual 'let's see how many toys we can get out while she's cleaning up breakfast' game. As I grabbed their clothes from their room and prepared to argue with my 3 year old (again) over why he cannot wear shorts in the dead of winter, I heard Carter yell from the living room, "Mommy! Throw up!" This falls squarely into my top 5 least favorite things to hear yelled at me.

I got into the living room just in time to see the dog heave one last bit of dog vomit on the (formerly) cream-colored carpet. I quickly ushered her outside and cleaned up her mess. Dressed the boys, then went to my room to get myself dressed...which is where I found the second mound of dog vomit. It turns out that her tummy had felt a little questionable in that room prior to her little show in the living room. So I cleaned up vomit. Again.

Got myself dressed and went back into the living room to check on the boys. Everybody was playing happily until the moment that Harrison started to throw up (you guessed it) on the living room carpet. He up chucked every last bit of the oatmeal I made for him only 30 minutes prior. I was completely flabbergasted as to why my child, who had no fever nor any other signs of malady should suddenly fall ill and barf of my oh-so-recently cleaned carpet. As I stripped his clothes off and wiped his face and hands, I noticed a peculiar color and consistency of disgusting that I had run into before. Harrison had found a tiny bit of dog barf on a chair in the living room, picked it up, ate it, found it disagreeable, and thrown it up with his breakfast.

So I cleaned him up,  dressed him again, cleaned up his vomit, cleaned up the errant bit of Dixie's vomit, cleaned the carpet, cleaned the chair, and went to work to REST!

Post-holiday hangover is no joke.