May the Skipping Never Stop


I was sitting on the couch one night recently with my daughter. We were huddled in our own blankets, watching Supergirl. She was watching intently and I just stared at her for a few moments.  Her expression changed with each event of the show.  My chest began to tighten and a small smile across my face appeared, and a slight moisten of the eyes happened. (stick with me folks)

reading book girl

The child that shared the couch with me that night, at times is still my little playful youngster while at other times little bits of independence make their appearance.  The body is changing and I see it, yet forbid it.  I know from experience it is only the very inkling of beginnings of things transpire in the world of physical and emotional childhood.

My thoughts this summer have periodically been of time to continue conversations of the “could be uncomfortable nature” or “she’s too young” or “in reality it’s not too soon”. Back and forth in my mind the role of motherhood is played out.

The battle of wanting her to be prepared in all aspects of life, yet wanting the innocence to stay at the core.  In the past year I have come to see how very differently we handle situations and honestly she’s better at most of them than I am.

I want to lock in this time for I know by next summer a whole new set of changes will come and I’ll probably be writing a post about it.  If I write here, hopefully I won’t be like the dramatic teenager I can be when dealing with her at times! 🙂

This is the child that has spent her nine short years skipping. She used to never really run but skip everywhere.  It represented a life of freedom and a go with the flow kinda mindset.  She still encompasses some of that, most of that.  But this year softball became more of a challenge and hustle was brought into play.  So running had to be done and well, she did do it, with some skipping too!  🙂

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I’m proud of the kid.  She isn’t perfect by any means but she took on a challenge of being a pitcher and not letting it break her “skipping spirit”.  Just with the degree of playing the game of softball changed, her life too changes with each passing year.

My role as her mother I think is to teach, guide, and allow her to fly on her own.  Three daughters later and I finally  realize that having them make mistakes  while home and I’m still a guide is essential to their adult life.  Saving them each time doesn’t teach them a damn thing!  I apologize to my first and second daughters for failing you in some aspects of my parenting, well let’s just throw in daughter number three too! We all know I’m far from perfect, remember I said I’m the one that acts like a dramatic teen at times! 🙂

I’m better at this motherhood thing now I think.  My “skipper” is better today than yesterday in this thing called life too.  It’s not all due to me.  She has a good father, super sisters, awesome grandparents, a loving church family, extended family, friends, teachers, and many more that help us in raising her.

But as her mom, I get an inside view of what is changing, even if microscopic in her daily life.  A front row seat if you will, to seeing each physical change and interpretation from her mind.  Sometimes this is a blessing beyond my own ability to comprehend and other times it’s hard.  Super hard to watch the innocence fade a level and the reality of this harsh world smack her in the face.  

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One thing is certain.  Until I take my last breath, I will sit in the front row, whether it’s comfortable or uncomfortable, right next to her or ten seats away.  I’ll be there, even when she doesn’t know it.

And may she NEVER stop skipping through life!

Love,

Mom

 

Parenting/Grandparenting Divide


I’ve slightly struggled with the art of being a grandparent since becoming one six years ago.  It isn’t because I feel I am too young to be a grandma, more because at the time I had a three year old myself to parent at home.  It’s not something that has consumed me but it’s something internally I have felt on and off in the past years.  It is a blessing to be a grandparent. No doubt.  Joy abounds, but still.

The parent part of grandparent was more evident than anything else due to the fact that I usually have my own child with us when the grandchild visits.  Disclaimer: I do not feel a grandparent is one that should give whatever the grandchild wants to them or supply them with endless stuff, candy, with no regard to discipline.  Perhaps it’s that I feel a grandparent, in normal circumstances, can take a more relaxed role as one watching the grandchild. They can savor the enjoyment of the child without feeling they have to discipline as they do with their own children.  Am I making any sense?

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to have three out of four of my grandchildren at my house, along with my nine year old daughter.  After they left I was thinking about the day and how a tiny bit of me felt tired but overall just happy with the time I had with them.  The moments that came to mind are below:

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When my only granddaughter woke up and decided she would sit with me on the couch, just the two of us and cuddle.  Things like this do not happen very often.  Either her brother or my youngest daughter are present.  This moment in time I snuggled her closer and nuzzled my nose in her hair.  I told her I loved her.  She smiled back at me and it was a pure grandmother moment.  Relaxed.

Singing to one of my twin three month old grandsons while I rocked him and he smiles up at me.  That made my heart full and I couldn’t stop my face from smiling if I wanted to.  

Talking with the other twin grandson and his huge smile appears, like it was all for Grandma only.  

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I pondered for awhile later that day and reflected back in the six years of becoming a grandparent.  I find myself in a more relaxed state, even when my own daughter is present.  Perhaps it is because she is getting older or I have come to “fit” better into this role as Grandma Julie.

 

All I know is joy is present.  Joy is good.  Life with family is even better.

Julie

 

 

The Mediocre Level


I wrote this piece not this week but prior.  Today as I decide to actually publish it I’ve felt pretty well.  In fact, the last few days have been good.  Writing allows me to process and move forward.  Not always staying ahead but not falling as far back as I once would is more of a normal thing now. I call that progress.

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I hate that my parents died. I hate that the questions go unanswered and the memories are all I have.   I feel broken from that stint I did in 2013. I hate that the confidence I used to feel inside me has been replaced with the lack thereof and the fear of the unknown.

The task of analyzing oneself can be taunting and at times the individual may find themselves grasping to get their head above water.

Currently I do not feel I am doing any area of my life with much excellence.  The ability to be exceedingly good at something has fallen from my life it seems.  I would say I am more in the “do what I need to and get by mode.”  I’ve been running on auto pilot for sometime now.  There’s been a couple of times I’ve began with a mindset of success to only find I fall into that mediocre level once again.  Even in the times of my life (pre-2013) when I was challenged, whether personally or professionally, I still had one or two areas of life I was above average in.

As you can tell the “analyzing” oneself has recently occurred in my life and it has brought a less than stellar mojo around!  Some of you are probably saying right now, “but Julie you are doing this and this and this so well!”  But in reality I’m not.  I’m doing just enough for it to “look” okay.

I’m not falling apart, I’m just looking reality in the face at the moment.  It’s not an “upper” but the “downer” part might be what I need to face to move forward.  I can no longer be the leader of all areas of my life and do it with grace.  And it’s driving me nuts!

I can look back and see when the strength that my mother instilled in me began to fall away.  The turmoil and wreckage of an experience finally got to me and altered my everyday life.  I may be fooling myself, perhaps those traumatic experiences as a child altered me too, but until I was in my 40’s I was capable of  handling  things.  Three consecutive experiences took me to my knees and it’s hard to get up, even almost four years later.

I suppose this is where I would normally write the lines of postivity and a mantra of things to get me “re-booted”.  Well this time I’m not.  I am not going to sit in the depths of despair but I will close with this.

One.  One positive thing a day.  I shall pluck one little thing from my day that I did well and place it at the top of my thoughts.  I will bask in the glory of even the simplest task I did that was good.  Where will that lead me?

Julie

What Did I Get From Him?


Dad Collage

The few last weeks I’ve been thinking of my Dad more often.  It seems when I watch my husband and our nine year old daughter together,  my own dad comes to mind.  As I pondered thoughts I was trying to figure out what “things” my own father taught me as I grew up.

When I wrote this piece for his funeral I meant every word.  Many things to be grateful for but yet a 46 year old daughter longing to recall exactly what he taught her is puzzling.   My parents divorced when I was 11 and he was basically absent the couple years before that more or less.  It’s hard to think of any of my daughters being without their fathers. Fortunately they all have had active ones their entire lives.  I hope they realize what a blessing that is.

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This post isn’t a bashing on my deceased father, it’s a thought process.  It’s how I deal with things that fester and instead of letting them grow into something ugly, I’ll turn it into something good.  That working through words will weave an acceptance to an area of my life.

I think he may have even been okay with it.  Writing letters.  I suppose he taught me that. After the divorce we wrote to one another. This was my only real connection with him. He didn’t get me every other weekend or call.  He wasn’t much of a talker.

I recall playing poker with my Dad once, I’m sure there were other times too.  I think I remember it so well because it was Christmas time and my brother and I ended up walking home from our grandparents house.  His pickup broke down and it was freezing out.

There was the time Dad and I were in my Grandpa’s pickup.  YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE came on the radio and he sang to me.  It was funny.  There was more turmoil than laughter in my childhood so this memory is very precious.

He didn’t teach me to ride a bike or even drive a car. Elementary and high school graduations he didn’t attend or the birth of my first daughter.   The absence of him as I began dating was hard but I had a good replacement at the time.  My step-father came into the picture when I was around 14.  I still longed to have my Dad present in my life but Bob really was a good father figure.

I can look in the mirror and see physical traits that resemble my Dad.  But as the youngest of his four children, the question what did he teach me that enables me to conduct my life the way I do is present.

Yesterday I was watching this music video, my Dad came to mind.  I showed it to my youngest daughter, the one that seemed to “give him a new reason to live back in 2008”  as my husband put it.  Johnny Cash always reminded me of my Dad, the physical traits mostly and his size.  As I watched the video with my daughter I couldn’t keep the tears away.

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Almost three years and I still miss the man that I am not sure taught me much.  I’m okay with that I guess.  I am not so very curious for the words I have placed upon this post have brought acceptance I suppose.  Hugs from that little girl he thought was pretty special made things better too.

mother daughter

Julie

Stable Force – Motherhood


Spring has arrived and it came in with quite a lot of busyness!  Our family grew by a couple more humans via my daughter and son-in-law.  Our youngest turned nine.  NINE!  I can hardly wrap my head around that one folks!

As I’ve spent a few days in March cuddling newborns it takes me back to each one of my own daughter’s births.  All three had a unique arrival into the world, only two from my womb, but all just as precious.   I’ve also been reminded of the absence of my own mother.  She would have unwrapped the swaddled babies and inspected their tiny toes counting each one first thing!  She would have given advice from her own days of  being a mother to an infant.  I find myself doing that with my daughter  too, only I’m trying really hard to just step back.  Allow her to experience what she has before her, in her own way.

Mom and Daughter

I’m quite a bit more emotional than my daughter the new mother. Writing is a way for me to commemorate an experience all while locking it in, (for I know the days will come I’ll forget).  So, here goes.

I’m writing today because last night the simple act of dressing a newly bathed baby made my chest fill with warmth and pride burst from me.  And I wasn’t even the one doing it!  My daughter was.  Witnessing our children doing things in life always has some sort of effect on us, doesn’t it?  Whether it is a musical concert, sharing at playtime, a fit in the store, dropping a toy for the 100th time, or having them display their own parenting skills.

All these little nuggets in life bring forth different emotions and each have their place in our lives.  I think, in my own opinion, being a stable force in my child’s life is essential to a relationship.  Raising my children has not been always sweet moments with bragging rights attached.

There’s been times I’ve wanted to hide under a rock, scream from the street corner, and throw my own kind of fit! My hope if my daughters were asked they would say that Mom was there, even when she was mad at me or vice versa.

I hope I have raised my children with a good combination of love and discipline.  If I haven’t, then I think I failed as a parent.

(Disclaimer: I am not a parenting guru nor think that I am!)

MOther Daughter Wedding

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Farming Grace Daily

When I became a mother at 17 I knew nothing, although my mindset was different!  My first child was a practice run so to speak. 🙂  Then the second one came along and she was completely opposite of the first one.  By the third it’d been so many years I almost felt lost and quite unsure again (at first).

But as I sit here today I realize that the gold nuggets of this life as a mother are not always wrapped in beautiful boxes with big bows or grand gestures.  Sometimes, it’s just the act of saying no, using a somewhat firm voice, cuddles, or talking it out later. Or that the third piece of candy is fine or getting a C on a paper isn’t the worst thing in the world.

That stable force is built on combinations of strength, discipline, tenderness, and care. My wish for my own three daughters is that they are able to display this in their own motherhood experiences.  That the example they were given was worthy.  I love you girls!

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Julie

Their Mother. A Mother.


I’m not even the one that became a first time mother but my emotions have been on a roller coaster ride this past week.  My middle daughter gave birth to a couple of beautiful boys. Although I am thrilled to grow the number of grandchildren I have, it was my job as mother that I felt so emotional about. In fact, I still am feeling it.

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When I became a mother in 1988 I had no idea the impact it would have on my life.  The paths it would take me on, the pains I would feel or the joys I would treasure. I will assume that my daughter doesn’t either.

With my oldest two daughters the majority of their childhood I felt like I wasn’t a very good mother.  Looking back, the mentality of worry of just that subject was the only real thing that was a hinderance.  Somewhere along the lines I began to accept the type of mother I was, improve upon what I have learned, and go forth even if it ended in a mess. I’ve taken the knowledge I gained from raising the two older ones and am trying to do a better job with their little sister.  I’m far from perfect but you know what, that’s okay. I love each of my children and they know it. Them knowing it is key.

Motherhood changes as our children grow in their own lives. Twenty four years I’ve cared for, battled with, laughed with, and loved the woman who I call my second born.  It’s almost difficult for me to put into words the experience of watching her become a mother herself.  Actually each of my adult daughters have given me grandchildren and it’s a struggle to come up with the right words to describe  what the experience was like for me. Their mother.  It’s a treasure although filled with worry and excitement.  The child I called my own becoming something that I am.  A mother.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is that becoming a grandmother once again was great, my mother instinct takes top slot though.  Perhaps it’s so prominent because of the type of relationship my daughter and I have.  Perhaps it’s because I know what her future looks like in a sense.  Perhaps it’s just that the caring nature within doesn’t stop.  I want to make sure she has what she needs now in both emotional and physical support.

Witnessing from a close distance my own children as mothers takes my breath away periodically.  On occasion I have to keep my mouth closed, sometimes I have to speak up. Sometimes it just means sweeping the floor or washing a dish or making a quilt or cuddling with one of the four grandchildren.  Whatever the need I hope they know I’m still here, even if they are mothers themselves. That as their mother, I’m still mothering. And although it’s not always easy, it’s still a pleasure.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Julie

Beating Heartbeats – Visual Reminders


I sat in an ultrasound room this week with two of my daughters, the middle and the youngest.  As the little humans that my middle daughter is growing appeared on the television screen I couldn’t help but think of the sonograms I have had over the years.

My first was about 29 years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. During this week’s viewing I giggled inside my head remembering how they put the sonogram on a VHS tape for me.  I was so excited and thought how cool is this!  I still have it, maybe we’ll watch it sometime soon.

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During my second pregnancy I had an ultrasound while they  performed an amniocentesis.  Talk about nerve – wracking!  But everything was fine with the little bundle of joy come to find out.  It can be a joyous experience or a scary one when having a sonogram.

Then there was those littles that my husband and I created in a dish and they placed inside our surrogate.  I have some slick paper photographs of those itty bitty beings we won’t meet here on earth.   With the outcome of that journey  the gift of motherhood to my third daughter through adoption came.  We don’t have any vhs tapes, dvd, or photos of her while in the womb.  All we had at the time  was miles between us and her, and no visual until she was 15 minutes old.

Then there was my first grandchild’s ultrasound,that was amazing in itself. Here we are onto the next set grandchildren (twins) and it’s just as exciting for me!

Through the years technology has come a long way to allowing us to see inside the human body.  I’ve been to two sonograms with my daughter so far and there is a moment that really takes my breath away.

Every. Single. Time.

Those little heartbeats.  The ones that are pumping away.

I almost can’t explain how I feel inside but it’s pretty amazing to me.  I can’t keep from smiling.  There is no doubt in my mind that God created not only my three daughters or my grandchildren or even my petri-dish babies.  His amazing power can take us where no technology ever will.

Julie

 

Quilting A Life


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The quilt before you is my first attempt at something other than square blocks.  In fact, until recently, the only quilts I ever made were square blocks sewn together and my mother would finish them.  I’d help her “tie” them but I never actually quilted them or put the binding on.

I decided after getting a great deal of fabric from mother’s stash that I wanted to dive into quilting.  Knowing my personality I knew I would require assistance.  I searched online for a kit and class I could buy. Craftsy was my source and this quilt was quite the learning experience!

These are my other helpers, isn’t the little girl adorable! I’m a tad prejudice.    Yes, my husband helped because he is a contractor and cuts with precision.  (He’s a trooper for helping me, I would have given up if not for him!)

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There were moments of feeling like a failure, frustration, and uncertainty while creating this lap quilt.  Which this reflects aspects of my own life, especially in the past few years, there is more. The bold colors make me happy when I look at them.  Their brightness and solidarity is something I hope to reflect in my own life. Something that is coming in view once more.

All the colors are so very different yet they are harmonious when placed in the same area. They become a union of sorts and create a warm reflection with the soft white bringing them completely together.  Do you long to live this way?  In a common union with harmony and wrapped in the warmth of goodness?

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This quilt not only holds beautiful colors and straight lines and areas of strong precision sewing, it holds much more.  For instances,  crooked lines, the fabric that was missed while joining two colors, and the miter corners are pretty rough. When I look at this quilt I feel it represents a few different things but mostly a reflection of life (at least for me.)

My life has so much that is good, warm, loving, and solid.  Yet at the same time it holds messy, sadness, and struggles.  While those threads are unraveling in one area, the threads that are tightly sewn tug even harder to keep the strength up.  I feel stronger with each day.  The process isn’t a quick one, just as this quilt wasn’t to make, but I’ll get there.  I’ll get to the place of balance I once knew.  I’ll be stronger for it and hope to help others from my experience.

If you find yourself in the darkness, whether it’s been for 20 minutes, 20 days, or 20 years you can still step out of it.  Just as the quilt would not be as strong if sewn with loose stitches, rally together a friend or two, a pastor, a doctor, a mentor to help you.  Just start with a baby step into the brightness.  I’m not saying it will be easy, but it will be worth it.

Until next time!

Julie

 

Sewing Generations Together


K, my middle daughter  had a close relationship with my mother.  It was closer than I ever had with Mom and at times I will admit I was jealous.  But my mother and I were quite different, just as my daughter is from me. With both relationships I can see more of myself in my mother than I ever thought and the same with my daughter and me. There were hiccups made along the way by all parties, but we never let that completely break the bond of family.

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The relationships we have with family, in my opinion, is what enhances what we are or will become.  Every occurrence, including family creates something to one’s life, whether it’s more of a connection or a disconnection.

My daughter is about to become a mother (to twins)  herself and in the course of her pregnancy we’ve become closer. Actually since she moved out of the house across the country six years ago our relationship improved and grew. (Sometimes distance is good for a reality check folks!) During those six years she moved back quite close, and  my own mother passed away leaving a hole in both our hearts, along with the rest of our family.

If you’ve followed along here at all you’ve probably noticed my mother was one that could sew, craft, paint, basically create naturally. I don’t feel I got that “create naturally” talent but  I dabble in sewing and crafting.  When I did quilt it was with my mother.  K. enjoys sewing and she spent time with her grandmother learning to sew and embroidery.

I figured out the best way to honor my mother, share about a generation that is gone, and give my daughter and grandson’s a gift to treasure was to make baby quilts.

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At my daughter’s baby shower this past weekend I gave her the quilts, it was a surprise. This is what I placed with the two quilts I made telling the story for generations to come.

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As my daughter read the card and opened the boxes I could tell this gift meant a great deal to her.  She didn’t say much as she isn’t a touchy feely kinda gal but she didn’t have to. (hint: one thing we differ at, but I still love her!) 🙂  I think my Mom would have liked this.

quilts

Just as my mother sewn one generation of love into blankets and outfits,  I  followed her lead.  Someday it will be K. sharing the story, making blankets, and loving her grandchildren.  I hope these are still around to share!

In today’s world, whether it is a family unit, friendships, any collection of people seem to be torn apart like a piece of fabric loosely sewn. The different personalities, selfish mindsets, non-respect, and many other factors from the outside word are participants to make this occur.

Folks, gather your people and keep them sewn tightly together.Weave a bond that even in the darkest time you are still united in some form.   For when they are gone there will be a rip in your heart and only memories to share. Let’s sew the generations together, shall we?

Julie

Could It Be a Brighter Time


I was almost too scared to write the title of this post.  As if to jinx the time of my life I am in.

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The past 2-3 years have been rough but for a few moments each day I can see the sunshine.  I can feel the calm within and if I shut my eyes, I breathe a little easier.  I can laugh with my husband and welcome a hug from him.  I can raise my head off the pillow and although a tad groggy, I  feel better than I have in a long while.

This comes after making my declaration of spending 2017 focusing on me.  Taking a year to find a better me both mentally and physically.  Being so depleted it is hard to rise from the ashes but I vowed to go slow at it. Less than 30 days in I might still be on the “new life” high, who knows! Let’s go with it, it feels pretty good!

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I will admit I’ve had my days where tears have won out and irritability spawned horrible tones and words from my mouth.  Then the days of wanting to quit or just give up showed their nasty faces too.

But so far the days, or at least the majority of the past days have been enjoyable.  That my friends is a good thing.  Baby steps.  Very baby steps.

I do not blame the place I ended up on any one thing really.  A collection of occurences brought me to a place that wasn’t pretty.  Apologies are owed to others while also to myself.  Appreciation for the tragic moments that build character within me is required.   Stopping the moments of this life from slipping away as they rapidly do is needed. Savoring the time I have with my family, opening my heart once again to showing kindness to others, and just letting sunshine fall across my face is in my future.  Perhaps not tomorrow, but it’s coming, I can feel it.

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So, when the sun comes up today, I will put both feet in front of me, eat a hearty breakfast to start my day and smile.  Come on, try it with me won’t you? 🙂

Baby steps my friends.  Baby steps.

Julie