Holes & emptiness

I spent several lovely hours catching up with a friend this afternoon. There is something so comforting about being able to relax in being known.  We have been friends for over a decade. She knows me – knows me from my old, single days. We sat at her dining room table and drank lemonade and I felt deep peace as I looked around at the familiar surroundings. I hadn’t been to her house in a year or two, but there – the same shower curtain! the sofa we sat on to watch endless episodes of The Bachelor!

I was safe and at home and could drop my mask for a while.

I’m lonely.
Motherhood is hard.
I miss my friends.
Work is boring, but I don’t have the energy to change.

She asked me a question. Back when I was single, when we would talk about longing to be a wife & mother, I described feeling a hole inside. She wanted to know if it’s still there.

I have been pondering that for days.

At first, the hole seemed to be filled. The whirlwind of wedding and being a newlywed and finding out several weeks later that the baby was coming – these were all things that seemed to soothe the ache. But now? I think that a husband and kids might have filled in that hole (a bit) but they ripped a bunch of new ones in my heart and soul. The pains and aches are not ones I ever expected, but there are there, just as real and driving as the ache for marriage/motherhood had been.

 My heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.
-St Augustine

So. There it is. I am searching for the answers in places that cannot supply them. The real problem is finding out what can. My concept of God shifts & slips through my fingers, fluid and slippery as a minnow.

 

Rest-less

I am rest-less. Weary. Lacking rest.

I want to become rest-full.

This is not an easy task, when you take into account work, kids, animals, home, freelance biz, gardens, etc.

 

It really sucks to start the week feeling exhausted, though. Yesterday I tried to take a nap & immediately got plunged back into kid-duty. And then by bedtime I had missed the golden sleep window & was unable to fall asleep until nearly 1am. Woke early to blinding sun shining in my eyes and the roosters crowing.

Coffee is not going to sustain me much longer.

How can I find rest?

Snapshots of a sunny Saturday

wild strawberries.The first wild strawberry of the year. Tiny and tart, with the taste of sunrise.

The girls and I went for a walk around the cornfield, since it was neither raining nor unbearably hot. Swarms of dragonflies darted around our ankles and danced us along the path. We stopped to pick flowers & examine animal tracks. It’s a deer! Was this a crane? No, a turkey!

The clouds stretched out endless above and the greens of trees layered one upon the other. Purple and white flowers sparkled among the tall grass. The kids stopped to pick up pretty rocks from the gravel road & I saw that the corn will indeed be “knee high by the fourth of July” despite the late planting this year.

It is lovely here. My heart is at rest.

I must remember this. When I am weary and lonely and stir-crazy, I must remember this. When I question everything about my life, I must remember this.

I walk in beauty.

chickens.

Snack time!

 

After our adventures & a snack, the kids and I made prints using styrofoam plates. I really like how some of them came out. It took a while to get R to relax and just go with the flow, rather than trying to copy my picture or freaking out when her lines didn’t go in exactly the right place. My mind is whirling with ideas for other patterns, other colors. I should get some better paper; we just used white printer paper, but I don’t know how well it will hold up. I think something with more texture would be nice. I also need a decent brayer; the smaller roller I used got too much ink in the lines.

We have at least 150 plates left, so I think we’ll be doing this kind of art for a while.

One of the gardens.

One of the gardens.

Floods and books

Friday afternoon was our first warm day of the year. The kids wanted to pull out their wading pool. When I was distracted with the chickens, Kid #1 turned on the hose for the first time this season. An hour or two later, I came inside & wondered what the sound of rushing water was.

Yep. The pipe had frozen over the winter & burst when she turned on the faucet.

3 inches of water in the basement. Water poured down the walls. It dripped from the ceiling.

It soaked our boxes of books.

I spent the next hour hauling boxes out to the porch to triage the damage. About a dozen books went straight into the freezer in an attempt to save them. Another 20 or so got dried with a towel & then left to sit on the porch. 2 or 3 of those are pretty much unusable, but I think I rescued the others. They don’t necessarily look pretty, but you can still read them. I haven’t had the time to really look at the frozen ones yet.

I guess this is a good time to get around to building those bookshelves so that we no longer have to store hundreds of our beloved friends in boxes.

Thoughts & plans

I feel a sudden push to make sourdough & kefir & kombucha. I miss the “elephant ears” we used to eat when I was a kid in Alaska – huge fried wedges of sourdough, drizzled with honey. It makes me sigh just thinking about how good they were.

We are also working on plans for the gardens. Perhaps some asparagus? And we’re talking about putting in another 40 apple trees. Last year’s location isn’t going to work; we’re afraid of the chemicals they’re spraying on the new cornfield next door, so we need to move our beds somewhere in the back yard.

Oh, and now that it is finally spring & the chickens can go outside, I expect we’ll be back up to about 7 eggs/day. So I need to come up with some good ways to use them up.

Loneliness

Recently (well, who am I kidding? It’s longer than “recent” because I can’t remember not feeling this way) I’ve been lonely. I’ve never been one to make friends quickly or easily, but I’m finding it harder to do in this season of life. Yes, I have kids and husband to talk with, but it’s damned hard to find time to go out and meet people when you add in working full-time + freelance clients + remodeling the house + chickens and cats and a dog + school for kiddo #1. Oh, and living in the middle of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong – I love living here. But when your friends are all 45 minutes+ away and the nearest “town” is 5 miles down the road, it makes it harder to casually meet people for coffee.

So all of my recent friendship attempts come with a new sort of hell – the Playdate Blind Date. Have you experienced these? Your kid wants to play with a new friend from school, so you get to spend several hours awkwardly making conversation with that child’s mother, hoping to find you have something in common. It’s like all the worst parts of dating, but without the undercurrent of sexual tension to make it interesting.

There’s the initial small talk: How long have you lived here? Do you have pets?
The attempt to find common ground: Do you like to read? Do you have any hobbies?
Next comes either an awkward silence where I wonder how much longer we have to stay at the playground & the other mom pulls out her smartphone to text a real friend or a sense of relief as we discover we actually have things to talk about.

 

And so it goes. Out of 3 of these get-togethers, two have gone fairly well. I like the moms and we actually have real conversations when we get together. Sure they’re still surfacy-conversations, but I think that may change with time. The other mom? Well, she seemed pleasant enough, but I don’t think it has potential to turn into a LTF (long-term friendship). I also don’t like some of the school stories about her kid that I’ve been hearing from kid#1, so I’ve been avoiding more playdates with them.

Maybe someday some of these moms will turn into real friends. In the meantime, I ache with jealousy when I hear old friends talking on onine about doing things together & I cry when one of them Facebook-chats with me for 5 minutes.

Brownie and Pearl Grab a Bite by Cynthia Rylant

I’d heard rave reviews of the “Brownie and Pearl” books, but I’ve got to say I was pretty disappointed. The illustrations are colorful & cute, but the story was pretty blah. No rhyme. No charm. Nothing to make me want to read it again. It’s definitely too young for my 5-year-old, despite the “ages 3-5″ rating on the back.
mom rating:

“It was good.”
kid rating:



Brownie & Pearl Grab a Bite (Hardcover)

By (author): Cynthia Rylant

It’s lunchtime, and Brownie and Pearl are ready to grab a bite. The kitchen is filled with tasty treats like apples and crackers and—mmmmm—string cheese. So pull up a chair and join these hungry pals for a happy, healthy noontime feast!
     With their simple stories, bold, graphic illustrations, and pitch-perfect moments of humor, the books in Cynthia Rylant's acclaimed Brownie & Pearl series are a wonderful choice for babies, emerging readers, and everyone in between!
List Price: $13.99 USD
New From: $6.86 USD In Stock
Used from: $2.96 USD In Stock

Look! A Book! by Bob Staake

I thought this was a fun combination of find-the-hidden-object and a rhyming picture book. There’s a lot going on in the colorful, funny pictures. I especially liked the way they used page cutouts to highlight things hidden in the next scene. And then, when you think you’re done, there’s a list of more things to look for.
mom rating:

“I didn’t like that very much. I thought there would be more words.” “Didn’t you like finding the hidden pictures?” “Not really.”
kid rating: 



Look! A Book! (Hardcover)

By (author): Bob Staake

Look! A book! A hook! A cowboy cook!
Weird and kooky things that go!
Some go fast and some go slow!

Can you find the squawking crow?

Go on a crazy seek-and-find adventure in this new picture book from award-winning artist Bob Staake. Die-cuts on every page draw readers into each themed scene and invite them to find the items hidden within the elaborately detailed spreads. From underwater worlds, to haunted houses and tree-top towns, there are endless details for readers to search for and discover. This inventive picture book format will have kids hooked from the very first die-cut page all the way through to the end where a gate-fold finale challenges them to go back for yet another look and even more surprises.

Bob is best-known and widely celebrated for his picture books and this visual feast is some of his most exciting and creative work to date!
List Price: $16.99 USD
New From: $2.83 USD In Stock
Used from: $0.01 USD In Stock

Ivan the Terrier by Peter Catalanotto

Ok, we all LOVE this book. It’s fun to read & I haven’t heard kiddo #1 laugh so hard in a long time. It’s a cute twist on reading fairy tales that I don’t mind reading multiple times in one day.
mom rating:

What do you like about it? “ALL of it!!!!”
kid rating:



Ivan the Terrier (Hardcover)

By (author): Peter Catalanotto

Ivan loves a good story.

Like that one about the three bears or those three gruff billy goats.

Where else can a dog find such

playmates

action

fun...

or a cookie?

Ivan's own good story lands him just where he loves to be.

In your lap.
List Price: $17.99 USD
New From: $4.91 USD In Stock
Used from: $0.01 USD In Stock

iPad love

We’ve only had our iPad for 3 weeks & I’m already wondering how we managed without it. The number of educational games & books available is amazing. The kids have been learning so much as they play. And almost everything we use has been free! I’ll be posting reviews of the apps we try, so that you’ll know what is worthwhile and what should be avoided. (Boy, have we run into a few stinkers! Fortunately, we’ve also run into some real winners.)