Monday, November 23, 2009

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

At this time of year, it seems to be all about family! Loved ones you can't wait to see, the familiar family traditions and foods, the rhythm of the expectations of what the day brings. But in the last two months it has been impressed on me more clearly than ever that the holidays this year are going to be especially difficult for people this year:

Loved ones lost, some family relationships strained, family to far away to visit, and what really breaks my heart is that in the last two months no fewer than 8 couples that I know have announced plans to divorce.

Do you remember the hope of your wedding day? Do you remember the flowers worn by groom, carried by the bride -all noting a day of joy, expectation, hope, love, and togetherness? I remember MY wedding day. It was a small and intimate with only 50 people. I would have loved to have more family there, but it was on December 23, and much of my extended family could not be there, but all five siblings, some well-loved aunts and cousins, and my parents were there.
It was a wonderful time. I cried tears of joy as I walked down the aisle (smudging my carefully placed make-up beyond repair!), looking forward to joining myself to the man that I knew, without a doubt, was given to me by God.

I am sure that many of the marriages I heard of in the last two months began with such hope, affection and excitement -like a newly bloomed flower: fragrant, breathtaking and lovely. Only something happened along the way. The flower began to wither, first on petal fell off, followed by another. And suddenly, like something from a Disney fairytale, there is one petal left, and it is dangerously close to falling as well.

Where have all the flowers gone?

New love can continue to bloom for many years. Just ask my parents, who continue to embarrass their grown kids by smooching in the kitchen in front of ANYONE who happens to be in the house. (For the record, I was never embarrassed by their unabashed affection, but I have this one pesky sister... You KNOW who you are!) They have been together for 38 years.

Or my Grandparents -BOTH sides were married for over 50 years, and my Grandma B in particular, nursed Grandpa with patience and gentleness until the very end. Both marriages ended with one partner passing on to be with the Lord -much to the sorrow of the dear spouse left behind.

Or there is the DARLING couple from my church who just celebrated 50 years! On the way, Monkey Do asked what kind of party we were going to, and I replied, "We are celebrating with Mr and Mrs F! They have been married for 50 years!"
"FIFTY YEARS!" she replied, "And they are still ALIVE!"

I know that she was referring to this unimaginable length of time -in the mind of a six-year-old. Fifty is a HUGE number -and it is in the context of marriage too! And still being alive after that many years can also reflect the fact that both parties -despite the overwhelming desire- refrained from strangling their marriage partner for EVERY SINGLE ONE of those fifty years! Now that really IS worth celebrating! Especially since anyone, who is honest, will tell you that there are days...

But where have all the flowers gone?

We are living in a world that does not value or support marriage, in churches that act on the premise that marriage is doomed (there ARE churches out there that do!), and "advice" that encourages people to just give up!

Marriage is hard. So what can you do to keep those flowers blooming? Well, I am not an expert! That is for sure. With less than 10 years under my belt, I am SURE that there are people in your circle who can offer much better advice than I have, but there is one trick that keeps me in love with my Sweet Geek -even though he (like his bride) can be stubborn, and ornery (like me!) and is in a grumpy mood right now (not alone!).

I remember.

Yep (Nebraska coming out), I remember.

When Sweet Geek and I were friends at work, I went through a terrible break-up with a man that I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. And so as we became better -then best- friends, he was always there when I needed him. He fixed my car, helped me move, helped me find a new car when my clunker was beyond repair, made me a gourmet meal, gave me good advice, and always did these thing for me with no strings attached. When I would ask him why he was being so nice to me, I expected him to say, "Well, I really like you. Would you like to go on a date?" and then I would tell him that I really wasn't interested in any kind of romance after this bad break-up. But he never did. He always said that he knows what it is like to need help, and have nowhere to turn. He would tell me that he just wanted to help. I didn't even know that he really liked me until the brother of a friend asked for my number. Sweet Geek looked like he would be sick, but I was still healing, ans so I held him at arms length, not sure what I wanted, but sure that I cared about him. Perhaps not romantically at the time -I really couldn't. I simply didn't have it in me, so we went on, pretending the elephant wasn't in the room. I just could not go there. What if everything went south? I don't think I could take it. But instinctively he knew I was not ready for anything that resembled love.

His love and help were offered unconditionally. He somehow knew that my heart could not bear someone else's happiness right then, but all this time we were becoming closer and closer. We could talk for hours -and I really liked him, but I just couldn't move forward. All the pain and broken trust had left a wound on me that I could not get past.

Then it happened.

To be continued...

Saturday, November 14, 2009


My dear readers...

I am here to bore and unnecessarily punish you once again with my drab and boring blog -that I have been so sadly neglecting! But I had something to share with you all.

Here it is....

Are you ready?

I am homesick.

I know that sounds really weird considering I am sitting in my living room right now. No fancy desk or office. There is no room for a couch in the office, and I think my Sweet Geek would have a problem with me moving all the computers and equipment out to move a couch in. I am sure that would cause our family's version of Chernobyl. And the truth is that I am so terribly uncomfortable with this little child, that anything but a WELL-PADDED chair sends me into waves of agony.

Anyway, I am not like my favorite blogger, Ree the Pioneer Woman. She was born in the city and was dragged by love into becoming, as she puts it, an "accidental country woman." Not me. I am just the opposite.I grew up on a farm. Not just any kind of farm... a HOG farm! Oh yes!! It IS true! I have mucked out barns, scooped poop, cleaned chickens coops (Chicken poo is the worst! Yes, it IS worse than pig poo!), weeded gardens, walked beans, baled hay, played in lofts... Yes, dear readers. I have done it all. Yet somehow I managed to move from a VERY rural hometown (population 248) to one of the 10 largest cities in the midwest!

And not only am I in one of the biggest cities, but I live RIGHT IN the city! You can spit out the back door and hit the neighbor's patio. See!? I AM a country girl!

Now, I don't know if it is pregnant hormones, the difficult situations that we have been facing lately, lack of sleep or the SERIOUSLY lower cost of living (with Sweet Geek laid off, stretching money is right up front), but my heart longs for the plains of Nebraska. Yep, (more proof I am a country girl) you heard me right, Nebraska. Every time I see Ree's pictures of the Oklahoma prairie, it looks so much like home that I feel a twinge of longing.
As I lay awake, trying to drown out the sirens and barking dogs with Sweet Geek's stolen pillow, I long for the quiet, the calm, the slower way of life. I long for neighbors who care -who's kids don't have screaming matches in the front yard. Because in Nebraska, any decent person knows that you simply don't do that in your front yard! All the nighbors would be talking about it to anyone who would listen for WEEKS on end! Any decent person knows that you keep dirty laundry where it belongs -in the washing machine!

I long for a real drive. You know, where a 20 minute drive takes 20 minutes because it is 18 miles -not because there is TERRIBLE traffic backed up by construction. TWO miles in 20 minutes.
I long for old friends, family recipes, working in the garden, canning the harvest, seeing hay bales, and all the little nuances that make country living what it is.

I am homesick, but most of all, I miss these people:

This is my Dad, my Hero, snuggling my little daughter. I missed him very much this past Wednesday -Veteran's Day. I wanted so much to hug hum, thank him, do something special for him. He has a true servant's heart, and served his country for 27 years. He was a member of one of the best engineering units in the world. It is TRUE! They even won an award! But he is the most affectionate person. My little monkeys adore him and revel in being toted around. They also marvel at him cutting their food, getting them drinks, and allowing them to follow him around everywhere he goes. I miss his steady belief that I am amazing (boy, have I got him fooled!), and having a great listener who thinks a lot like me! I like it when we talk about something and come to the same conclusion. I miss my Dad.

Then there is this great person!
My Mom is the one in the middle. We will get to that silly person on the right in a minute (I am on the left). But back to Mom. My Mom is one of the most resourceful people I know. She made homemade bread every week for years to combat a wheat allergy my brothers shared. She managed pinch pennies well enough to stay home and homeschool all six of us -all living and feeding the brood of us on one income. She can do ANYTHING she puts her mind to, and over the years has leaned heavily on her extremely creative spirit to make sure that we had the things that we needed -and then some. She managed to budget great trips for our family! We got to go to Calgary, Canada. And my favorite part of that trip was Lake Louise. We made a trip to Colorado about every year. You have not lived until you have seen the Rockies. But my favorite trip was Wyoming. Jackson Hole is the most amazing place! Conversation with Mom flows. We have the same language! We talk about everything. I miss her nearly every day. I can't wait until this little Monkey arrives! She will come and stay for a whole week! I can't wait.

She researches info on nutrition and taught us to have a healthy life. She continues to encourage and support in healthy food choices, nursing, and creative living. When I am really stumped she always has a way of puting things in perspective for me and finding out-of-the-box solutions.

Not to mention that out of my six siblings, 4 live within 2 hours of my parents. My sister Katie and I talk on the phone at least 5 times a week -if not every day, and she gives my Sweet Geek enough sisterly crap, that I need to keep her on retainer. She is the other silly person that picture, but there is a much better one on my other sister's blog. You can see the photos here.

I saw the need the other day in a very real way to touch my roots when my 7-year-old Monkey See asked me, "What is a hay bail?"

TRAVESTY! UNTHINKABLE! AAAACK!! It is time that I give my kids a good country education! What is a hay bale -indeed!

Sometimes it is just time to go home.

What makes home -home to you?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What is in a name?

Two things:

As I was looking over my last post, I realized that "Smart Man Contest" sounded really bad! Like something out of a game show or something! "Men! Let's see just how smart you really are!"

I decided I need someone to read and edit my blogs BEFORE they post! Any takers?

I still want to hear about your witty moments, so in spite of my terrible contest name, please don't hesitate to share the evidence of your quick-minded retorts! Take that, person insulting me, I have a great retort!

Anyway, that also brings me to the other thing: I ordered the WONDERFUL prize for that contest, but it is on backorder, and will arrive shortly. I really wanted to post pictures, and soon I will be able to do that! So let's just put that contest on hold, shall we? And then when my WONDERFUL prize arrives, then I will show it to you all, and maybe you will love it and enter!

So with a terribly named contest, I have been kicking myself, but it also turned my mind to baby names. Now with our girls we had a formula in out minds when they were named: first names with an important meaning, two middle names (one related to family and one a characteristic that we wish our children to display), and our poor kids not only have two middle names, but a last name that is 12 characters. Poor kids! I think that their overly long names will adequately scar them until they get married -hopefully to a man that has a four-letter last name.

Not to be confused with a four-letter word.

Just wanted to clarify that.

Anyhow, there was something that happened that we did not plan. Somehow, every child ended up with a six-letter first name that ends in a vowel. Hmmm. How can we follow that?

Eliana was easy. We had NO trouble picking a name we both loved.

Amelia was easy too. As soon as I said it, Larry was completely on board! (His favorite aunt was named Amelia)

Now, Noelle was a different story. It seemed that every name I came up with for a girl, Larry did not like at all. As it happened, I was having contractions on Christmas Eve, and went to the hospital to be checked out. On the way I said, "Wouldn't it be funny if we had a girl today and named her Noelle?" Sweet Geek said, "I LIKE that!" So when she was born in January -and was another girl- we named her the only girl name we could agree on.

So here are a few names that we have been thinking of. We cannot add Olivia to this list (my sister stole it for her sweet little one-year-old girlie -whom it suits entirely), but we decided that we MAY have to abandon the six-letter-end-in-a-vowel thing.

I like Isabella. I always have. Bella for short. What do you think?

Emilie, the French spelling. I like it, but if you have seen my other kids' names, we picked really uncommon names. This one may be too used for our taste.

I like Emmaline, Emma for short. If you have seen "Anne of Avonlea", then you KNOW where I got that name!

I also like Annette, but what would we call her for short? We already have an Ana for short, so we would be forced to call her by her entire name all the time. What in the WORLD will
I call her when she is in trouble? Hmmmm.

You may wonder why these are all girls' names. Right?

No, it is not because of our track record!

It is because we have had a boy's name picked out for years. I got the idea from my sister (who I hope does not mind me taking it), but I thought it was perfect.


Isn't it just right? It just seems to fit. Throw in a grandfather's name and a touch of Dad, and we will be all set.

So here we are. Boy name picked, girl name -uh, not so much.

So tell me. What names do you like?

What is in a name?