Monday, April 30, 2012

strange places

The funny thing about a child dropping her nap is that it tends to reappear in strange places.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I come from a long line of sensitive animal-lovers.  Growing up, my brother was always saving small animals from our cat and keeping them in cages as pets.  My ever-tender-hearted dad has been known to do things like nurse hummingbirds who flew into our window back to life. Once, after we kids felt sad about a fish my dad caught, he spent hours swishing it back and forth through the water until it finally recovered and swam away.  And my grandma has a bad habit of rescuing cats that don't need rescuing, then letting them have kittens underneath her bed.

But me?  Never.  That sensitive animal-loving gene most certainly escaped me.

This is why I am suddenly surprised to find myself in the midst of a relative menagerie.  There have always been the chickens, of course.  But they stick to the out of doors and have not bothered me too much.  Plus, these pets actually give quite a bit back in the form of organic eggs.

Next were the goldfish that Santa left under the Christmas tree.  We have had three at various times, but Freddy keeps dying.  The pet store may not have enough replacements.  Annike wants to know if we stop naming him "Freddy" if he will stop disappearing?

Somewhere along the way we began to feed Farrell cats, one of which is about to leave a litter of kittens in our barn.

Last weekend a starving parakeet flew into the yard, and of course we had to bring it inside and offer it some food... and some love... and a home.

This week we are bird-sitting my parents' pet Cockateel.  Between the two birds, our living room sounds like a tropical rainforest.  And looks like a pet store.

A Redtail hawk has been looking for a way into our hearts and seems to have adopted our front yard as a hang-out.  He is not the least bit perturbed by our presence as he sits directly outside our living room window.  There is no doubt that he has been in contact with humans before.  While he is helpfully chipping away at the ground squirrel population, he has an awfully friendly eye on our chickens.  One of them is now missing half of her tail.

My mom always said that she didn't want pets because people get attached to pets.  Then pets die.  Fortunately, Annike seems to have a good farm-girl's understanding about the death of animals, so this is not the issue I am having with the pets.

The thing that troubles me is all of the responsibility.  I am pretty much up to my eyes in responsibility and I am not sure I can add another feeding schedule to the list.  The last thing I need is one more mess-maker in the house.

Since I started writing this post, a few things have changed.  First, we gave both of the birds to my parents.  That was a huge break for my living room, but a disappointment for Sommer who got the most joy out of seeing Joey-bird on my shoulder.

The next thing that happened was the Ferrell cat we call "Calico Kitty" did not show up for her feeding one night.  We went hunting... and found a litter of 4 tiny kittens stashed in some of what Christian considers "barn art" (ie: something old that may resemble junk to other people).

Anyone want a handful of 2-day old kittens?!

I think I might be suckered into keeping one.  After all, every good farm needs a good barn cat. It's the kids' fault... they get so darned excited about the sweet cuddly baby animals.  I am in denial.  I don't know how it happened.  But I think we now have pets.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

nine years

Has it really been that long?  It doesn't seem possible that nine years ago I wed my beloved husband on a stormy afternoon.

Here we are, celebrating our 9th anniversary on another stormy afternoon.

It rained the day of our first date and we were caught in a deluge on the boardwalk of Asilomar Beach in Monterey, collecting shells.  My khaki pants went see-through, and Christian thought I had cute legs.  It was all history after that.

It rained the day of our wedding, surprisingly enough.  No one thought it rained here in April. We danced and dined as the water poured down the windows of the Coconut Grove ballroom in Santa Cruz.

It has rained on the majority of our anniversaries since then.  It seems like God's little reminder that He remembers.  The rain is a gift from Him, a blessing, like Holy water.  An anointing, of sort, to remind us that our marriage is set apart for Him and we have been commissioned to celebrate the life we lead together, in rain or shine.

Today we celebrated with a family day to Carmel... lunch, the beach, coffee and dessert at a cafe.  It was the four of us.  We had good intentions of going on a date without the children this evening, but we have been sick for weeks (literally), and today the babysitters are sick too.  So it was a family day.  I thought I might feel cheated of time with my spouse.  Instead, I feel rejuvenated.  We celebrated our life together, here and now, nine years in the making.  Isn't that what an anniversary should be?   It is more than just an excuse to sneak away.  It is a celebration of the life we lead together, and that life now includes a few extra bodies.

I never knew it would look like this when we started our journey together on that stormy afternoon nine years ago.  Now that I am here, I wouldn't change a thing.

Thank you, my Dear, for giving me the opportunity to share in this tremendously joyful, dirty and daring, crazy, fun, loving, tearful, silly, surreal, captivating, wild adventure with you.  You still make me giggle, and you still make me sparkle.  Let's keep doing life together.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

at home

It occurred to me recently that if I have three children,  though I am not making any announcements or commitments here, I will spend a minimum of 10 years at home with small children.  That  is an entire decade.  It just sounds like a really long time to me, considering that it is currently 1/3 of my life.

Another thing that struck me is that this decade will be spent almost entirely with children who are too young to have any memories of the time together.  Ten years of my life spent pouring into children who wont remember any of it.

I have to be careful how I say this, because I truly believe that these young years are crucial to a child's development, and I wholeheartedly recognize the great gift it is to be with my own children during these years.  I would not trade in this time with them for anything.  However, doesn't it seem like a strange way to spend valuable adult years?  This is an entire decade given over to day-in, day-out routines.  These are years when adult conversations are few and conversations at home consist primarily of one-syllable words.  And from a Spiritual point of view, these are years when it is difficult to be involved in any type of ministry (outside of my house, that is.)  Doesn't that seem like a colossal waste of an adult who could be doing so many other things to better the world?

But, No.  To Him it doesn't.

Once again, His designs are much better than mine would ever be.  The most crucial part of Jesus' own ministry was a mere 3 years of His life.  What was He doing for the other three unrecorded decades between the manger and His first miracle? ...Just because it isn't recorded, doesn't mean it wasn't important.  If even Jesus needed 30 years of preparation to do God's will, then perhaps this decade in my life is part of the larger plan too.

I tend to view this whole mom-at-home thing as something I am doing for my children, and sometimes I feel a little left out of the picture.  But God is showing me that being at home is a big part of His plan for me too.  The kids, and me.

Something about being home with these kids, amidst the monotony of laundry and dishes and runny noses and more laundry, having zero time for myself, is... character-building.  It is a big part of how God wants to prepare me to follow Him anywhere.  About what it means to be stripped of all titles and see myself without any of them, the way that God sees me.  About how to die to self day after day after day, and in the end be more myself than ever.  And ultimately, being home with these children teaches me how to love people the way that He loves people.

Isn't that what it's all about?  Loving people the way that God loves people.

I am always chasing after my final product.  But there is no final product, not on earth, anyway.  This decade spent in raising young children is not some stray deviation from the plan... or hiatus from the plan... it is the plan.  It is the plan to refine me piece by piece, however long it takes.