Gratitude week 37

  1. I was supposed to leave for a couple of days last week and work the census job in far northern Wisconsin. Maybe it will still happen later this week. I don’t know. I went from working almost 45 hours the week before to working 3 hours last week. Although it was unexpected, I am grateful that the census project is almost completed.
  2. I am grateful that I was able to tackle some extra chores on my unexpected time off such as weeding and washing the dog.
  3. I’m grateful that I was able to spend one of the days off with my mom. Her health hasn’t been the greatest and I have been frustrated that she hasn’t been doing the things she should to take care of herself.
  4. I’m grateful that my son’s friend, whose car broke down in our driveway, was able to get his car fixed after being here for a week.
  5. Although there was a bit of a miscommunication that resulted in conflict, I’m grateful we took our son’s car in to have his exhaust fixed. He got pulled over and was given a warning to get it fixed. He wanted to fix it himself with a friend after getting his first paycheck this week from the auto parts store. The problem was that his friend wanted to weld the piece underneath the car. Neither have experience with mechanics or welding autos. After I found out his car has an oil and gas leak, I told him that fixing it would not be safe. I probably saved their lives after recently finding this out. We then made an appointment to get it fixed while he was at work. My son was angry because he thought the appointment was to fix another problem, not the exhaust. We argued about it since he wanted to fix it himself because it would be cheaper even if it was dangerous. The cost was not as much as he was expecting since he needed to pay for some of it. Later my son apologized for his behavior. This is big. I don’t remember him ever apologizing to me before.
  6. Last school year both my son and my youngest daughter failed (or should I say didn’t pass/incomplete to be PC) their writing class. How appalling as a writer to have children that don’t want to write. Who doesn’t love to read and write?? My two kids I guess. Seriously, WTH?? I can’t wait to have the time to sit down with a book or write. My son is retaking the class and asked for my help. This is another big step for him, asking for help. He never does that. He is maturing which I am grateful for. Part of being a healthy adult is learning to admit mistakes and asking for help when needed. I am still working on that. It was something that was frowned upon in my house growing up. I was taught that making mistakes were wrong. I was to condemn others for making mistakes while pretending I was perfect. It was absolutely from the devil to ask for help. I still struggle but I am working on it as well.
  7. My daughter Angel will be moving home the end of next week!! I know she is not as excited about it as I am. She has gotten used to being independent and that is a good thing.
  8. My husband and I are tossing around the idea of starting up a new and exciting business venture.
  9. We were finally able to make it to church yesterday after about a month.
  10. It was nice to get together with our best friends this past weekend to celebrate my husband’s and his best friend’s birthday. I’m grateful we found another couple where the guys and the girls are best friends. It should work out that way more than it actually does.

When nothing is everything

I’m not going to lie, I was a little afraid the first time I got census cases assigned to me in a rougher neighborhood.

The neighborhood was known for its shootings. It was a place I was rumored to say I would never work. I didn’t fit in. In most other neighborhoods I could blend in.

I was the only white lady around town on that day. An older lady yelled out to me from her window that she had a knife and she was not afraid to cut me. She had to be talking to me because I didn’t see anyone else around. I ignored her and moved on. Was she crazy or was she seriously afraid of me?? I was glad I didn’t have to make a stop at her house to find out.

It was a hot Sunday afternoon. Too hot to stay inside without air conditioning. When I got there, I felt like I just stepped off the plane into some warm Caribbean country. The neighborhood was full of old houses. A warm breeze blew through the streets. Somewhere close by, but never seen, was the sound of a live Mexican polka band. I’m not sure what the music is called but it was very upbeat and relaxing. In a strange way, I felt like I was on vacation which helped calm my nerves.

I saw a family outside, an older man surrounded by his children perhaps. I was wandering around stopping at various houses at times lost. I stopped when their dog barked at me and asked if I was going in the right direction. They were very friendly. I told them maybe I would be back.

I ended up wandering back an hour later and they were still there. There had to be about 10 people sitting on plastic chairs laughing and talking. I was told I needed to speak to the grandmother of the house. She did not speak English but would have a grandchild translate.

The grandma beckoned me inside. As a census worker, we are not encouraged to enter homes to conduct interviews. It was not forbidden either. I felt like it would be rude to turn down the invitation. I entered the house and there were about 20 children inside playing. They were not on screens, they were not fighting, they were just playing quietly with each other.

The house was clean but sparsely furnished. They did not have much, but I was asked to sit on their modest furniture so I sat. I spoke to the grandmother. Although in the eyes of the world she had nothing, she had everything.

She had on a warm Sunday afternoon what most families are lucky to get on Thanksgiving. Even then it is usually filled with stress. Will there be fights about politics? Will Joe drink too much? Will all of the kids be on their phones acting bored? Maybe we can zone out and watch a game on TV so we don’t fight. This forced let’s try to pretend to get along thing just seemed to come naturally to them. Maybe it was something they did every Sunday afternoon.

I thought about how I did not see my brother yet this year. My other brother I saw months before back in January. We rarely talk. My parents are contemplating divorce. Broken families. Stress. Always busy. Rarely taking the time to just sit and rejoice in each others presence on cheap plastic chairs.

After the interview was over, I was offered something to drink. I felt very humbled by the experience. I told the family as I was leaving how blessed they were as I tried to keep the tears from my eyes.

They had nothing. The kids didn’t have cell phones. I didn’t even see a TV. The house was old. The furniture was worn. Yet they had everything.

Somehow I found myself envious of everything they had as I left to go back home to my big empty house.

Gratitude week 36

  1. Summer for what little left we can squeeze out of it.
  2. Today is the unofficial last day of summer in Wisconsin and it feels like it. It was too windy and cool to swim this past weekend. But it was a nice weekend to play games, go hiking, and snuggle up by a fire.
  3. September has arrived. Autumn is my second favorite season. I like the cool crisp nights. I’m grateful for the changing of the seasons and the variety it brings.
  4. I’m thankful that my census job took me to beautiful Door County this past week. I even traveled to Washington Island which is the tip of the thumb of our state. I had to travel on the car ferry to get there and back. I felt like an adventurous traveler. I can’t wait to tell you about my adventures!
  5. While on the island, I was as close to a fox in the wild as I have ever been.
  6. I was able to visit with my brother Luke and his family up north for the first time since COVID.
  7. My daughter Angel came home for the weekend.
  8. It will be less than 3 weeks until my daughter moves back home.
  9. I’m grateful to be sleeping in my own bed tonight.
  10. I’m grateful for the time up north with family this past weekend. With everything going on it was the first weekend most of us could be together since Christmas.

Gratitude week 29

  1. Summer!!
  2. My birthday was this past week. Although the weather didn’t cooperate with my outdoor plans, I was able to go out to eat with my best friend Cindy. We went to a gluten-free restaurant. The food was amazing. They even had gluten and dairy free cheesecake. Plus it was open mic stand up comedy night. I’m thinking that would be a fun hobby. I’m planning on doing stand up in the near future.
  3. My daughter came home this past weekend. We started looking at places for her to live. It is starting to feel real that after 4 years she is moving back home. She also bought me a puzzle and mini vacuum cleaner for my birthday. It was everything I wanted but didn’t ask for.
  4. I spent a lot of good quality time with my daughter Angel and son Alex over the last few days. We went out to eat and did a painting class along with Paul and Angel’s boyfriend.
  5. I got a massage for my birthday week. Plus Paul gave me a gift card so I can go again.
  6. I am starting the training for the census job this week. It should be interesting!
  7. Paul and I took the church leadership sailing. It was very windy, but thankfully everything went well. We took them out without ‘taking them out’ which was a win.
  8. I am grateful for my daughter Angel whose birthday is tomorrow. I can’t wait until she moves back! It was nice to celebrate our birthdays together.
  9. I’m grateful to be busy since Estelle left. I miss her!
  10. Although I was supposed to be getting back from Europe this week and don’t have any vacations planned in the foreseeable future, I am grateful to have a sailboat we can get away on.

Gratitude week 27

  1. Summer!! We’ve had a bit of a heat wave here in Wisconsin. It’s been in the 90’s for over a week. Typically we are lucky (if you like it hot like I do) to have one or two days a year that hot. I finally broke down and turned on the A/C.
  2. I have one less teenager in the house. I went from 4 teenagers this year down to one. Our exchange student from France, Estelle, went back home this last week. Now I am not grateful or happy about this, BUT Estelle and my daughter Arabella started out as best friends and left not even speaking to each other. It was difficult because Estelle wanted to do everything with me and Arabella wants nothing to do with me. So I am hoping for less stress now that she is gone.
  3. I am grateful to keep busy so I am not depressed about Estelle leaving. My birthday is next week and I have some fun things planned that I enjoy.
  4. My daughter came home this past weekend. Paul and I had a great time with our son Alex and our daughter Angel and her boyfriend Dan sailing and swimming.
  5. I feel grateful I am able to get away more now that the responsibility of having foreign exchange students is over.
  6. Paul taught me almost everything I needed to know about sailing over this weekend. This is wonderful because I need to know how to run the boat if something happens to him.
  7. After being gone the last four days I am grateful to be back home.
  8. I am grateful for my faithful followers and I can’t wait to share more of my story.
  9. I am grateful we didn’t run into any storms while we were out sailing. With the heat and humidity the weather has been volatile.
  10. I am grateful to have a supportive husband even if it means writing about him.

Gratitude week 25

  1. I have one less teenager in my house…actually my son turned 20 this past week. I am grateful for him and the person he is becoming.
  2. My son had a mouse in his room which I am thankful for. It prompted him to clean his room to how it looked before we moved in. Now let’s hope it stays that way. My cat has the bad habit of bringing presents in the pet door.
  3. Although Paul and I really didn’t luck out in the dad department, I am grateful to have a husband who is a wonderful father to our children. That is what I celebrated on Father’s Day. I did send my dad a card though, not because he was a great dad but because I am a good person.
  4. In what can only be described as a God moment, I was able to meet someone who might be a friend and someone we could work with in our new business.
  5. I am thankful for my therapist. She called me to reschedule my appointment so I could have a double appointment for the cost of one. I have a really good team of people working to help me heal my body, mind, and soul.
  6. Summer!! I am enjoying every minute of it. I have yet to turn on the A/C in my house or car.
  7. Thanks to the coronavirus, it made it easier to transition from blonde to gray hair. People now ask if I dye it the silver color it is. It is so in right now and I don’t have to pay a cent.
  8. I went up north for the first time this season and swam in the lake.
  9. My daughter is planning on moving back home at the end of the summer and is able to keep her new job. I think she was only able to come home two or three times this year. Sadly she wasn’t able to make it home as planned this past weekend but it won’t be long until we see each other all the time.
  10. I’m grateful that our new business is doing better than we expected.

Gratitude week 23

  1. I am finally feeling like I am making progress on my self-improvement project.
  2. Summer weather!!
  3. I was able to get out on the sailboat for the first time this season.
  4. Things went better than I expected taking care of my autistic brother Matt. He adapted to our family well. More on this later.
  5. Taking care of my brother allowed my mom to get away with her sisters for a few days. It felt good to be able to give her a break. She decided she didn’t want to let fear control her life.
  6. I’m grateful our best friends had a really good experience with the foreign exchange student our daughter talked them into hosting. It was sad to say farewell to him over the weekend, but I’m grateful for the experience they had and we have had with our foreign exchange students. They are all awesome which says a lot since I’ve heard quite a few horror stories.
  7. I’m grateful that Paul’s new business is doing better than he thought it would.
  8. I’m grateful that for the first time I had a good experience singing in church. It has been difficult at times singing about the love I feel or the trust I have in God when I am struggling with that. Not only that, but I was able to sing relatively anxiety free. There were times that family issues made me feel panic or the thought of having to run to the bathroom in the middle of the service was terrifying.
  9. I’m grateful to have a clean house today.
  10. I’m grateful for the times I feel like everything is normal. That’s saying a lot because the last few months have been far from normal in so many ways.

The first fire

I never heard my mom cry like that before. It was the deep howling sorrow that was saved for behind closed doors. I could almost peak out the window she was staring out of if I stood on my tiptoes. The night sky a glowing orange haze in a hue I never saw outside before. Together we watched her childhood home burn down.

I went with my mom once to see her old house the year before when I was 3. I’m not sure how I remember it. Strong emotions of my mother typically elicited sparks of memories in me. There was a long dark inside staircase that went upstairs to the main floor of the house. There was a bright average sized kitchen with a window above the sink that I could imagine her mother standing at with her back to me. I never saw my grandmother’s face before but I was told my mother looked just like her.

We had to walk up one step to go into the living room from the kitchen. I found that rather strange. I saw the bedroom my mom shared with her sister Jan. It looked as small as a closet. I imagined my mother playing in that room with her one doll. Mom always said that Aunt Jan was messy and my mom was the clean one. They seemed to have switched roles. Aunt Jan never entertains because people get her house dirty. My mom never has people over because she is embarrassed by her clutter and hoarding.

I wonder now if she imagined her mother was still alive inside of that house cooking supper, washing dishes, or just living a normal life every time she used to walk by. That was the only house she remembered her mother living in. Her mother died and her family moved far away, but she remained in that small town.

My mom more often than not on nice days took us for walks by her old childhood home. Every day the memory of her mother was still alive inside of that house. I’m sure she thought of that when she took us on walks to visit her husband’s mother.

Until one day the house burned down and even those memories faded away. She couldn’t imagine her mother happy inside the house when the house was no longer there. It was almost like she lost her mother again.

Gratitude week 19

  1.  It’s hard to believe that our foreign exchange student Clara has been gone over a month already. This past week we were able to have a conversation over Instagram. It was so nice to see her again.
  2.  My daughter graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree over the weekend. I am grateful she was able to get a job in her degree field. I am happy she is doing great on her own.
  3.  I’m thankful for technology to be able to watch our daughter’s graduation. The graduation was held on zoom. Apparently family members were supposed to be watching it on live stream. We weren’t. When all of the graduates were on the screen in cap and gown moving their tassels, Paul and I appeared on the screen taking pictures of our daughter with our cell phones. Angel was smiling so widely, I thought she was so happy and proud. But she was really laughing at us for bombing her graduation. I was mortified about it when I found out, but she said it made her day since we couldn’t be together for it. Thankfully I wasn’t watching in my pajamas.
  4.  I was feeling bummed out on Mother’s Day. Not only was it cold and snowing (yes snowing!!!!) but I wasn’t able to have my mom over to celebrate this year. My daughter Angel was also not home. My husband Paul went out of his way to make it a really nice day for me.
  5.  Angel had flowers delivered to me for Mother’s Day. Plus the church dropped off a flower for me too. It was cool to go outside and see flowers delivered to me unexpectedly.
  6.  My kids remembered Mother’s Day and I was able to spend several hours talking to each of my kids over the last couple days. I feel like we are getting along really well at this time. I am grateful for peace within my family. That is very important to me.
  7.  Since I was not able to see my mom for Mother’s Day, I bought her flowers, a card, and a big bag of popcorn. Early that morning, I snuck over to her house and left her gifts outside her front door to surprise her. It was an adventure to try to get everything to her without being caught. It made her very happy. She wasn’t expecting anything and said she was going to decorate her house with all of her previous Mother’s Day cards. She wasn’t forgotten.
  8.  I have a great counselor. She wants to follow my blog. I think I will let her. I hesitate telling people about my blog. I’ve had friends want to follow me before but never told them how to. It is very difficult to put myself out there and be personal especially with people I know. I think she truly cares and wants to help me. I’m grateful to be able to trust a few good people in my life. I am grateful for healing however long it might take. I’m thankful to have a place to share my story.
  9.  I am meeting with my wellness nurse tomorrow and hopefully she will have some answers for me about my health. I’m still not feeling the greatest and hopefully she will be able to give me some insight on what to do next.
  10.  We had more deer in our yard this past week really close to our house. I found out that deer eat weeds. They ate some of the dandelions in our yard and started munching on my weed pile. Yeah! I have some help weeding this year.

Together we will get through

The gym closed today.

I found out about it late last night when my pastor commented on Facebook. He said something like the one time he was thinking about going to the gym it was closed.

Exercise is a big part of the keeping myself sane routine. Addiction might be taking it a little far, but… More than anything I’m a routine addict.

Our trip to Florida we were planning for the end of the week is pretty much over.

The kids went to school today, but now the schools will be closed until at least the middle of April. My daughter works at Culvers and her work hours for this week have been cancelled.

The world is ending, yet here I sit calmly. I don’t feel like my anxiety is any more or less than normal. I’ve been dealing with a high level of stress and chaos since I was born. How is this any different? My husband is doing well too. We are not freaking out or buying massive amounts of toilet paper.

Yesterday I felt hopeful for a small amount of time that maybe our trip would still happen.

Today I am preparing for isolation. I am no stranger to it. I wish I had some control over it, but I do not. I like being alone. But I fear for the ones who do not.

I spent three years from 8th to 10th grade homeschooling. I rarely saw people outside of my family, much less my friends. That was before the days of cell phones. Right now we are safe. I’m not sending my children off to war. We will get through this.

Although I wish I could start my census job tomorrow. I would have more of a chance of finding people at home. Once this is all over, no one will want to stay home again.

Tomorrow starts the first day of the new normal. By the grace of God, structure, and routine will get us through. This might be the best memories we have together as a family.

We will be forced to get through this together and together we will get through.