My Old Girl

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I won’t complain about the hair that coats my black pants as I massage your aching back. I can really feel your bones now. You are getting so thin.

20131122-182017.jpgI won’t complain about your awful breath. I’m so grateful for your kisses. You know me by scent, you can barely see my face or hear my voice anymore.

20131122-180403.jpgI won’t complain as you trip me up or try to hide between my knees. You are my shadow and it is so endearing.

20131122-175604.jpgI won’t complain when you wake me up in the middle of the night because you are confused or lost your bladder again. I’m just so happy that you are still here.

20131122-182008.jpgYou greeted our first child with gentle curiosity and loved our second child just as much. You’ve been their book reading pillow, frisbee teammate, guardian, entertainer, and bedtime snuggle partner. You are crucial to my pack.

20131122-175522.jpgYou have been my friend most of my adult life, and while I am still young…people are astonished at how old you are. 17 and a few months. 119 in dog years. No wonder your body is giving in. But there is no aging the spirit of a lab. Love still pours from you.

20131122-175531.jpgOur days are numbered. A thought that consumes me with dread. I pray God takes you peacefully in your sleep. I don’t want to be the one to take your last breath from you. I can’t bear it. I love you too much Leica.20131122-175625.jpg

Bluvvering

Tonight we had our senior dinner at West Sound Academy. An elegant meal, a beautiful slideshow, and a time to share stories about each of the honored guests.

Somewhere in the slideshow I realized that I was going to lose it if I tried to talk. Somewhere in seeing the childhood faces of these now almost graduates. Pictures of them at the age when I first met them and they joined our school. All these pictures were causing the lump in my throat to get bigger, and bigger.

Parents shared stories, aunties, family friends, and some staff. Then there was silence, and Barrie, our Head of School, says, “Well Lisa?” Probably because I always have something to say, and because everyone knows I love these kids.

That is when I was overwhelmed by some crazy mix of emotions. I couldn’t talk. All I could do was look at everyone and CRY. The only words that came out of my mouth was that it was too hard to talk. Nice one Lisa.

What a fool. When there is so much to say about each of these wonderful kids. And I was stumped by what… WHAT THE HELL IS THIS EMOTION ANYWAY?

Adoration? Pride? Self Pity (they ARE leaving after all) Excitement? Worry?

LOVE.

Bluvvering, I’ve decided, is what happens when you are overwhelmed by all these emotions at once, and you can’t speak.. love just leaks from your eyes. Love + Blubbering.

I’m so mad at myself because I wanted to say something, and COULD say something about each one!

The one who loves my kids and was in my carpool for a year.. over to my house sometimes, eating chili and sledding. Sweetest softest voice you’ve ever heard.

The one I stayed with in the ER while we waited to find out what put her there, covered in hives and in pain, but through all her misery she remained the grateful and lovely girl that is so easy to love.

The one that just needed a walk, in silence one day. Not to share her worry.. just a walk. With the most beautiful eyes you can imagine and a private way about her that was easy to respect.

The lovely one that has traveled the world and landed with us for just a year. But with her she brought a kind friendship to all of her classmates. Always joyful, and helpful.

The one that… and we all wish we had one like this in our lives.. that could fix any tech problem that came up and you were so grateful for his genius. And you plot a way to keep him at school….but you have to let this one go too.

The international one that joined our family for the holidays, the one that is filled with dreams of who she will be in the future and whose curiosity is infectious. She is fun-loving, thoughtful, and so sweet with my children.

The one with whom I had a daily ritual of a hug. The kind of hug that everyone needs. She could squeeze your worry right out of you with that hug, and sometimes needed you to squeeze her worry away. Brilliant girl full of possibilites. I already miss her hugs and how amazing she is to be around.

And then there’s that ONE. The one that I’ve been able to watch grow from my first year at school to this evening. The one that gave me his shoes as a prop for an admissions event one evening.. he drove home in his socks! The measuring stick of awesomeness, kindness, intelligence, and the close friend to my own (exchange student) son. The one whose family I have grown to love so much. The one whose name I can’t get out because of that damn lump in my throat!

That is all I wanted to say really. There is just 8 of them, it shouldn’t have been impossible but there I was, looking at them and bluvvering.

Congrats class of 2013! Love you!

-me

Yes, I will eat outdated crackers on Mother’s Day

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Today is Mother’s Day and while many moms are spoiled with boxes of chocolates, lattes, brunch and what have you, I prefer a different indulgence. Ryvita fruit and seed rye crispbread with cheese spread. In a tube. Cheese in a tube. It’s a Scandinavian thing, ok? I love it.

So I go to a local market in my sweet Scandinavian influenced town of Poulsbo. I walk in, familiar with the location of everything I crave. Jars of lingonberries, real black licorice, milk chocolate bars from Germany, fruit and seed rye crispbread, and cheese in a tube. I grab the cheese in a tube and head to the cracker aisle.

There is a variety of crispbread all looking insanely healthy and full of fiber, but none with the fruit and nuts. I don’t see the magenta package anywhere! This is what I must have with the cheese. No substitute will do. Especially not on MY day. I ask the clerk if it has been misplaced. He responds that it is likely they are out. “Are you SURE?”

“Maybe it has been moved to the clearance section.” I am doubtful, because why would something so awesome wind up in clearance? We look together. None there. Disappointed I turn to head back to the aisle to settle for a lesser cracker and I spot a package!

Frozen, I evaluate the scene. A single box of my favorite imported crackers sits on top of two books that appear to be a clerk’s personal possession. They are kind of behind the counter, clearly not on display or intended for sale.

I blurt out to the clerk that has wandered toward the back of the store, “I’ve found a package sir! The right ones! But they may be set aside for someone else!” He comes up and is aware I’m obsessed. He looks at the package and sees that they’ve been pulled from the shelf for being past the ‘Best Before’ date. By a month…. or 5. The clerk and I share some banter about how relevant ‘Best Before’ dates are when dealing with a cracker that is nearly cardboard anyway. By banter, I mean I persuaded him to give me the crackers.

They were delicious!

I hope your Mother’s Day is everything you want it to be, accept no substitutes!

Living out Loud

My sweet girl and I were feeling a little blue today, and for no apparent reason (HORMONES). We went to Central Market to get a smoothie for her, and serious coffee for me. As we are sitting there enjoying each other’s company I overhear the very young baristas say something about Whitney Houston.

infant barista #1: Yeah…. Whitney Houston

infant barista #2: Who is that?

infant barista #1: Are you kidding? You know.. that really OLD pop singer.

I can’t even see the juveniles, but I feel compelled to set them straight from my table around the corner:

HEY! SHE’S NOT THAT OLD!!!

They holler back:

48 years old!

I glance at the elderly couple sitting near us and say, “Well damn, guess I have one foot in the grave!” Elderly lady replies, “Yeah, and I’m standing right in it with both feet!”

infant baristas: She’s died.

<insert look of disbelief with sick feeling about grave joke and an overwhelming sense of mortality>

As Ruby and I head out of the cafe and into the store, I ran into a friend and shared the sad news.  And then something very sweet transpired. As I was waiting in the restroom for my kid, a woman that had overheard me talking to my friend asked, “is it true?” She whips out her phone and shows an article denying the story. I show her my google news, headlines reporting her death… and we are both wondering… and hoping… that she is right.  We head back into the store and her hubs is  there. He looks right at her and said,”It’s true. AP confirms it.”

This woman, of my age, and a total stranger, turns to me and we hug. As we part, she says the names of Whitney’s most popular songs as if conversation… and I just said I need to watch the Bodyguard again.

Ruby and I went to my van, I downloaded “I will always love you,” cranked it up loud and drove away crying.

Now… I am not a die hard Whitney fan. Some of her songs are down right embarrassing. Probably because I can still see myself singing into a hairbrush about ‘wanting to dance with somebody, with somebody who loves me.’ It is so sad that she has died. Beautiful voice, dramatic life of drugs and that bad Bobby Brown, and a daughter that she leaves behind. Just so sad.

But what happened in the store today was lovely. I don’t have ‘walls.’ I used to, and I’m not sure how or when that all changed but I talk to strangers all the time. I don’t HUG strangers often, but it was perfect today. I like to think of it as living out loud. Some of the best encounters I’ve had have come from living out loud.

Oh.. and rest in peace dear Whitney. I will always love you.

Hot Boots, Fat Calves, and Christeve

Fat Calves and Hot Boots. They only time they work together is in that sentence I just wrote.

Not on a body. Just in words.

I just had some Hot Boots delivered from Mod Cloth. I am a Mod Clothaholic. Here are said Hot Boots of which are longer in stock because I got one of the last pair:

*sizzle* and there will be NO pictures of my calves thankyouverymuch!

They are NOT leather, but they are affordable. And you don’t say ‘man-made’ anymore. That is sooo 2010. You say ‘Vegan’ because yes they are delicious and no animals were injured in the making of these boots.

But men’s hearts will break when they see me in these boots, thus sustaining injury.

If only I could get them on.

The laces that I were counting on for some ‘give’ are merely decor. When I realized this I panicked a little A LOT! I put them on and

PULLED

UP!

Dang. Stoppage. Right about mid calf. They were on but they had a slouch look to them. And that is so 2000whatever. I wanted to wear them over jeans and that just ain’t happening. I can’t wear them over tights, or skin no less.

So I went online to see if I could chat with someone at Mod Cloth about my predicament. Now, I am no stranger to online customer service encounters, but what I got this time threw me for a loop.

The name of the person with whom I would be chatting with was Christine, but the image of this person screamed STEVE. How was I supposed to tell Christeve about my fat calves? So this is how I handled it. (click the picture to read it if you are over 40, makes it bigger)

Now I’m pretty sure that I’m chatting with a woman, if only she would complain about her fat calves…………

I probably will keep the Hot Boots. I will try to make them stretch a bit. If not.. they are an 8 1/2, so if one of you skinny calved little @#*! want them let me know.

These boots DO fit! And you know I’ve needed some red boots for a very long time. Christeve thought they were awesome too.

*SIZZLE*

So I may have Fred Flinstone legs, but I’ve got Wilma’s style!

Old Time Religion

My church at Christmastime in 2009

I have a confession.

It has been a very, very, long time since I’ve been to church. About five months. Which means my children haven’t been in five months either.

*Hangs head in shame* but not for too long, because I’m Lutheran, not Catholic.

Our pastor had even called twice to check on us. <insert more head hanging here> What?!  Summertime was busy, and there were things…that always seemed…..to be happening….on Sundays around 10:30 in the morning. Busy things.

Like sleeping.

I know. More shame. But I went to church today and my pastor forgave me for that and a few other things I mentioned only in my own head during confessional time.

Non of your bidness. It’s between me and Him.

While sitting in the second row wooden pew of our almost 100 year old sanctuary, my husband looks at me and points to the hymnal. Not to get me to follow along, because obviously I know the service by heart. He wanted me to notice that it was not the red hymnal we’ve had for the last couple of years but the GREEN one was back!

When we switched to the red hymnal a couple of years ago, it was very hard for me. Lutherans to not handle change well. It’s pretty much what we are known for according to Garrison Keillor. That, and our singing.

I love the GREEN one. It’s so much better. Everyone knows. I quickly snatched it up and flipped too ……..oh there it was…..hymn #221.

How I’ve missed you! Sent Forth by God’s Blessing. The sweetest, most cheerful a hymn that ever was sung. I used to sing it to my babies and dance around with them. Sang it to them on the changing table. I’m not making this up. The song brings me total joy.  I tried to find a version online to share with you, but none can compare to the organ in my church and the heartfelt singing of my smallish congregation. I checked the YouTube, and the iTunes. Nada.  Port Madison Lutheran Church sounds the best.

I was happy. The sun was shining through the beautiful windows, my family was with me, the green hymnal in my hands again. But God decided to throw one more little cookie my way.

Wait for it…..

Hymn #221 turned out to be the closing hymn! I hadn’t looked to the end of the service program to see what we would be singing, what with my standing there in bliss.

The organ started. I gasped! My husband looked at me and smiled, so did my kids. And I cried. But I sang.

Just for a little insight for you non-Lutherans, here’s how Garrison Keillor sums up my religious peeps:

SINGING WITH THE LUTHERANS
by Garrison Keillor
I have made fun of Lutherans for years – who wouldn’t, if you lived in Minnesota? But I have also sung with Lutherans and that is one of the main joys of life, along with hot baths and fresh sweet corn.

We make fun of Lutherans for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like them. If you ask an audience in New York City, a relatively Lutheranless place, to sing along on the chorus of Michael Row the Boat Ashore, they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Lutherans they’ll smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! And down the road! Lutherans are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony. It’s a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person’s rib cage. It’s natural for Lutherans to sing in harmony. We’re too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you’re singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it’s an emotionally fulfilling moment. I once sang the bass line of Children of the Heavenly Father in a room with about three thousand Lutherans in it; and when we finished, we all had tears in our eyes, partly from the promise that God will not forsake us, partly from the proximity of all those lovely voices. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other. I do believe this: People, these Lutherans, who love to sing in four-part harmony are the sort of people you could call up when you’re in deep distress. If you’re dying, they’ll comfort you. If you’re lonely, they’ll talk to you. And if you’re hungry, they’ll give you tuna salad!

The following list was compiled by a 20th century Lutheran who, observing other Lutherans, wrote down exactly what he saw or heard:

1. Lutherans believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

2. Lutherans like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

3. Lutherans believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don’t notify them that they are there.

4. Lutherans usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.

5. Lutherans believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.

6. Lutherans feel that applauding for their children’s choirs would make the kids too proud and conceited.

7. Lutherans think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.

8. Lutherans drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.

9. Some Lutherans still believe that an ELCA bride and an LCMS groom make for a mixed marriage.

10. Lutherans feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

11. Lutherans are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.

12. Lutherans think that Garrison Keeler stories are totally factual.

13. Lutherans still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna noodle casserole adds too much color.

14. Lutherans believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

And finally, you know when you’re a Lutheran when:

It’s 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service.

You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can!

Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee.

The communion cabinet is open to all, but the coffee cabinet is locked up tight.

All your relatives graduated from a school named Concordia.

When you watch a “Star Wars” movie and they say, May the Force be with you, you respond, “and also with you”.

You actually understand those folks from Lake Wobegon, MN.

And lastly, it takes ten minutes to say good-bye

Peace be with you! And also with you!

9/11

Today I woke up, did my usual FB check on my phone… making my plans to skype later with Bojana, and I saw the news stream. Everyone remembering the 9/11 attacks. I was instantly depressed. It’s not like it took me by surprise. I was not… “oh yeah, today is the 11th,” but more like the darkness I knew was coming a few days ago had arrived.

My chest hurt. Lump in my throat, but I had my 3 kids and 3 more that slept over to make pancakes for so I pushed through it and remained normalish.

It’s my PMS week though. I don’t care if that is too much information for you. It’s what it is. So I knew I would not have a chance to make it through the day without crying.

But I’m not a masochist, so I did not seek out 9/11 stuff on TV, or the web. I would limit to scanning status updates on the FB. I did catch the news tonight. I figured I should, out of respect. Dammit. They showed THAT footage.

It’s so hard to watch isn’t it? Seeing the second plane hit… being all confused still….and then the tower crumbles. Then the next one. I was squirming in my chair, covering my eyes, holding my throat and reliving it.

I had been 30 years old with a 1 year old daughter and pregnant with #2. The phone rang just before 7 am, but I didn’t get to it in time. I thought it was my husband on his morning commute and called him but he said it wasn’t him. We didn’t have caller ID. I have no idea who called and woke me up that morning. Then my husband asked if I was ok, and if I was watching the news. So I turned it on with him still on the phone piecing together what I was seeing. Before it made sense I watched the South tower collapse. By the time the second one came down I was on my knees sobbing. I could not believe this was happening.

Some people are more emotional then others. I’m definitely of the MORE emotional types and the sadness I felt in those days was the deepest I have ever felt. I was scared, hopeless, helpless, in a pit of absolute despair. And pregnant. I started to worry that my sadness would affect my pregnancy. I bet a lot of pregnant women felt that way. What kind of a world would he be born into? Everything was different now.

And River IS a different kind of kid. I do think my sadness affected him. I truly do. He is very sensitive and very empathetic. His poor little heart. He asked me what 9/11 was tonight as the news was on. He knew some of what happened because I would always lose it at Fire Station field trips when they would demonstrate their locator beeper. Tonight I got out our magazines that we had saved from September 2001. We talked about the pictures, the bad men, and all the heroes. Tears running down that boys face.

I really don’t know what else to say.