Autumn Weekend Staycation

autumn weekend

autumn weekend

I had told Little Miss to stay in her bedroom until 7:30 the next morning. Hubs was working an overnight shift (yuck) to cover for another employee, and I was going to be up late taking care of things around the abode. I knew she’d be up early but I told her to stay in her room and read so I could have a chance to sleep in a few extra minutes.

Not only did she emerge much earlier than 7:30, but she woke Little Man up as well.

Certainly not the start I wanted to my weekend.

I was running from the time I got out of bed, and had been awake over an hour before I realized I hadn’t had any coffee yet. How was I getting so much done?! It’s one of life’s great mysteries, and small miracles.

I got everyone fed and cleaned up after, got them in their outfits for the day and tasked them with entertaining one another. I started the process of canning the black beans I had set out to soak the night before.

After Hubs was done with work that morning, he drove to the church parking lot to snooze a bit before the men’s breakfast event. It was something I half-suggested, half-hoped he would be able to do, and he did it. I wouldn’t have. But he’s a better man than I am, so he did.

The black beans were well on their way to prime deliciousness for future use when he walked in, totally wiped. The kids had about worn each other (and their mother) out, so it was time for the weekend treat: television.

Don’t judge me.

I’ve never liked plopping my kids in front of the television, and I rarely do – but sometimes a mama’s gotta get stuff done, and the t.v. just happens to have some pull in order to make it all happen. I grew up on television and Taco Bell and still managed to turn out pretty functional, so I have really high hopes for my kids.

We had planned to drive to one of the Minnesota state parks that Saturday, but because Hubs worked overnight, changed our plans to be closer to home and hit up our favorite pumpkin patch instead. While the beans were canning and Hubs was snoring, however, the storm clouds moved in. It didn’t look promising for an afternoon trip to the patch. I love the pumpkin patch and all the activities the kids partake in. The carriage rides, the corn maze, the animals (especially the animals) – I love it all. My favorite part, though, is choosing my very own pie pumpkins from a local grower.

It’s the simple things.

Tell me what’s more amazing than an entire vine of pumpkins growing from a single seed, producing these beautiful, tasty pumpkins, and being able to turn them into a delicious dessert (and roasted seeds for snacking). All from one seed! If an entire crop can yield from a single seed, surely God created me to do so much with the gifts and talents He gave me.

A side note about beans: I have a ridiculous bounty of dried beans in my cupboard. I’ve canned 11 pounds of beans already and probably have more than 10 pounds still to be prepared in my cupboard. I love beans. A lot. But the funny thing – that’s not really funny at all – is I’m the only one in our family who likes beans.

Obviously, they have no choice but to become bean lovers over the course of their life, because I doubt I can put away almost 25 pounds of beans by myself. That’s not the kind of achievement I want to be remembered for. / End side note.

Another small miracle occurred that day – it didn’t storm. Not until much, much later. We headed out to the patch-o-pumpkins, and it was one of the most splendid times I’ve ever spent there. It wasn’t crowded. It was windy enough to keep the bugs at bay, but not to send us flying. Even though it was past nap time and a few meltdowns made an appearance, it was an enjoyable outing to be sure. It’s one of my favorite annual traditions and that outing solidified why.

Everyone napped afterward. Everyone went to bed that night completely content and completely tuckered out. It was lovely. So very lovely.

So far, I’m really enjoying fall. And I’m thanking God I’m able to.

Breaking the Curse of Autumn

autumn

autumn

I’m a sunshine girl. I love sunshine, I need sunshine, I bask in sunshine, and I feel better when the sun shines.

The sun is not shining today.

However, every now and again, the cloud cover (and in today’s case, the rain), make for a sense of renewal, fresh opportunity, and even some motivation.

I can say today is one of those good gray days. I think it helped (tremendously) I was able to witness an incredible sunrise, turning the sky a beautiful purple, orange, and pink. As the clouds were moving in and before they could block the sun entirely, the sky danced with color as we started getting ready for our day.

I’ve got my curly-hair-rain-gear on (my kerchief), and after a long meeting, I’ll scurry to the kitchen to get to work on some applesauce and apple pie making. It’s September, after all, and apples are the fruit-of-the-month. It’s quite rewarding to pick them yourself, peel them, and turn them into even more deliciousness than they already are naturally. Cooking is like doing magic in the kitchen. You take ingredients and turn them into something completely different, to satisfy those greedy little bumps on your tongue and rumble in your belly. It’s a pretty amazing process.

Sometimes the autumn season is difficult for me. It’s always been my favorite. I love the smells. I love the crisp air. I love the colors. I love the decorations. I love pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie and apple everything.

But autumn and its drastic change of season carries a weight I can’t aptly describe.  School starts. The wind shifts. The cemetery closes earlier.

Autumn also means winter is coming. I struggle with winter. I struggle with barrenness. Cold. Desolation. Grief.

We had a bizarre spring blizzard that forced us to postpone Harlynn’s funeral a day. It snowed the day she was born and every Wednesday after for a month. Snow is sometimes peaceful and comforting, but it also reminds me, so tangibly, of the worst day of our lives. And it’s about to show up and hang around for months on end.

Winter is coming.

I feel like maybe – just maybe – this year will be different. Since I finally got to process through Harlynn’s birthday in a way I needed to this spring, maybe I can handle this winter better. Maybe it won’t be as gloomy as years past. Maybe it won’t be as bitter. Maybe it won’t be as soul-chilling as I’ve known it to be.

I’m making a determination.

Right now, I’m going to enjoy autumn. I’m going to enjoy everything I can about it. The pumpkin patch. The harvest. The cinnamon. The cider. The apples coming out our ears. The colors, the football, the pies, and the turkey. Rust orange, cranberry red, and the fading green of grass. Whatever this season has to offer me, I’m going to enjoy it, and store that joy away for the months to come.

When winter hits, and there’s no avoiding it, I’m going to retreat to the storehouses where I’ve tucked away the pleasantries I need to draw upon. I’ll warm myself with memories, food, friends, and my favorite sights and smells. I’ll stress-eat on pie and roasted pumpkin seeds. I’ll knit. This year, when winter hits, I won’t have wasted my autumn dreading it’s arrival.

The sun may not be shining today, but the clouds can’t squelch the new dawn coming. Winter may be on it’s way, but it won’t dampen today.

Every season – in nature and in life – serves a purpose. I don’t like it. I don’t have to. It’s going to happen anyway. But this year…. this year will be different. I’m going to will it so.

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.

~Joel 2:23

So Long, August.

August

So Long, August

August is almost over. And quite frankly, I don’t want to talk about it.

If it were up to me, we could extend July a little longer, have September start a little earlier, and skip over August altogether. It isn’t up to me, though.

So another year, another August behind me, another end-of-summer month feeling pretty beat up.

No, I’m not going to talk about school starting and how stressful it was for me to switch schools for Little Miss. I’m not going to talk about how I buried my head in the sand and didn’t do anything about getting her ready for school because I couldn’t bring myself to deal with it. I’m not going to mention how my baby girl is somehow in elementary school, and already crushing on her handsome classmates.

I’m not going to talk about how Little Man is not so little, and how the only snuggling he does is when he’s fast asleep and I can drag him out of his bed for some sleepy cuddle time. I’m not going to talk about how grown up and inquisitive and talkative he is, and how it wears me out to no end, but before I go to bed for the night, I just want to snuggle him one more time…

I’m not going to talk about the fact that August 24th was four years to the day of me finding out I was pregnant with Harlynn, and how I didn’t even realize the effect it had on me until a friend asked me about it.

Nope. There’s no point in hashing it all out. No point in sharing all the delicate details of the month that kicked the living tar out of me once again.

No need to share I had more social engagements this month than any other this year, and that one afternoon I sat at home on my sofa, fighting back tears because I just couldn’t converse with one more person for one more minute. This circumstantial-extrovert was completely tapped out on social skills. Me, the one who loves to host and be hospitable – – so over it. Crying because….people. Nope, no need to share about it.

I definitely don’t need to go into any detail about my aunt ending up in the hospital and how close we came to losing her. I don’t dare share the details of losing one of the most influential spiritual mentors of my life to ALS, and how difficult her funeral was for me. It made me think of how much I love her, and how I probably do a less-than-admirable job showing others just how much they’re loved. I mean, it’s kind of hard to show people how much you love then when you’re sitting on your sofa crying because you’ve been around too many people…

Gosh no, I don’t feel like mentioning a daggum word about any of it.

So instead of sitting here talking about what a bear August has been, and how I’m very much looking forward to September’s arrival, I’m just going to say, “so long, August.”

So long.

Why August is Hard For Me

I thought Sunday was going to be pretty typical. I wrote the date on our church’s keeping-in-touch form and paused. I happened to glance to my left, and at the other end of the same pew we were sitting in was a good friend I hadn’t talked to in a while. I caught a lump in my throat. The date I wrote made me realize the next day, Monday, would be three years to the day I found out I was pregnant with Harlynn. That same Friday, the friend who was now sitting at the other end of the pew, would find out she was miscarrying.

Without knowing I was pregnant, she called me that afternoon and asked me if I would just come sit with her. I did. It was a rough day for her in so many ways, and all the while I was sitting there thinking to myself, “I cannot imagine losing a baby. I cannot imagine the hopes and dreams you have for your child, suddenly gone. I cannot believe babies die.”

I had no idea those thoughts would be my reality less than eight months later.

After church, I went and hugged her, talked to her, but I couldn’t bring myself to say “I remember what tomorrow is.”

Monday morning, I woke up, feeling entirely different than I felt that Friday morning three years prior. I was in an early morning Bible study back then. That Friday, I woke up shortly after 5 a.m. to be ready for work and at study by 6:30. I went to the bathroom, took a test, and immediately saw positive. I walked back into the bedroom, grabbed my sleeping husband’s hand and said, “Brent….I’m pregnant.”
“No you’re not. Really?”
“Yes, really!”
“Wow……..Let’s pray.”

Even in his sleepy state, he led a prayer for our baby, for our family, and for the road we had ahead of us. I beamed, ear to ear, in that dark room. Little Miss was going to be a big sister. We were going to be a family of four.

I was elated. Ecstatic. August 24th, 2012, started out as a most incredible Friday for me.

Three years later, it chokes me up. I made a choice this year, to hold on to remembering how very happy I was that morning. How very loved Harlynn was from the first moment we found out about her. How the first thing her daddy did for her was pray out loud. It still chokes me up, yes, but what testimony to how we loved her from the start.

The last several days have been emotional. Remembering the date has only been part of it. Schools are starting everywhere, and though she would only be two years old right now, I’m left thinking of our child other classmates will never know. Our oldest is starting Kindergarten, and that brings enough emotional weight of its own.

Since losing Harlynn, fall has been especially difficult for me. It’s still my favorite season, but the transition it represents, the anniversary it holds, the new tradition of the balloon release we honor each year, the omen of the weather waiting for us ahead – all of it comes together and puts a physical weight upon my grief. I can’t get out from under it. While I love fall, I struggle when it arrives. It signifies a closing – an end. The green grass will wither away, the leaves will disappear from trees, the ground will be masked by walls of white. An end to summer. An end.

Last Friday evening, I took the kids to the cemetery so we could visit Harlynn’s site and browse the grounds for deer. Not only did we see mule deer and whitetail roaming around, but just as in a similar moment in 2013, I had a leaf fly awkwardly up to my window, rest upon it long enough for me to get a picture, and then flutter quietly away. In a way, I hoped it meant a new beginning. A new season of memories I’ll capture, moments I think about our baby girl, and more moments to feel like I’m connecting with her, some way, from this side of heaven.

mindmumbles.com

I contemplated whether or not I should write this post at all. Does everyone need to know why this time of year is so hard for me? The fact is, no, not everyone needs to know. But maybe one person does. Maybe one person needs to know it’s okay, three years on, 30 years on, to remember that day she found out she was pregnant and live out those mixed emotions.

It will never be easy. I will never be able to predict what will affect me or to what degree. But for now, I’ll remember that morning of August 24th, the prayer my husband led for our second child, and the hopes and dreams we started building in that very moment.