Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Not the Same:Seasons of Life after Loss

Not the Same: Seasons of Life after Loss

 Over the past few years, I have lost several family members in my parents generation, including my Dad. In addition to those that have passed on, my Mother and my Aunt have dementia. I know that not everyone grew up the way that I did. I know that all families have their quirks and issues but in my experience, my cousins and I were loved big by this generation. I never once doubted that these people were in my corner. They were present in person, or other wise acknowledged every major event in our lives from holidays spent together, cookouts, birthdays, ballgames, graduations, new jobs, engagements, weddings, the birth of our children, and when we bought or built a house. People say that it takes a village, these people were our village. They were not afraid to scold us or make us behave if needed. They were not afraid to work either, if we needed help these people were there ready to do whatever was needed. 

These people were filled with faith in their Savior. They lived their lives in such a way that we were able to witness this faith and grace in our everyday life. Some of us were lucky enough to grow up having some of these people as Sunday School Teachers, Children's Church Leaders, or just sitting in front of or behind us at Church. I have a sneaking suspicion that they all prayed for us regularly, some of us more than others.

There are so many stories that I could tell, the mountains of memories I could share, along with the endless smiles and laughter shared with each other over the years tells us that this generation lived life well. Over the years, we have lost some dear loved ones, things have changed, traditions have adapted and some have fallen by the wayside but those childhood memories will forever live in my heart. These people and the time spent with them helped us become the people we are today. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Be a Cactus!

Be a Cactus!
I saw this little bit of inspirational advice today, “Be a cactus in a world full of pansies.”

 I have been thinking a lot about life lately. You see, my oldest daughter interviewed me for her psychology class. Some of the questions she asked during the interview really started me thinking about my age, growing older and happiness.

She asked me, what one thing I would change about my life. There is nothing that I would change about my life. I love my family, and the life we have built. I would not trade this busy chaos filled life for anything in this world. The whole truth is that my life is far from perfect, but it works wonderfully for us.

However, I would change something about myself. I would “Be a cactus in a world full of pansies.” I found out in my forties that I care a lot less about what others think. I say what I think, wear what I want and for the most part do what I want. When you free yourself from worrying about other people’s opinions, you become free to be whatever you want and do the things that you have been afraid to do. The one thing that I would change is that I would not have waited until my forties to start really living.

You see, my plan for living the rest of my hopefully long life is to live, I mean really live it. I am going to live loudly and shine brightly. I am going to eat the cake and buy the shoes. I am going to be the old lady that when people see her coming they say, "What is she up to now!" I am going to wear a giant floppy sun hat and overalls and spit in other people’s yards. I am going to sing and dance like nobody is watching and if I am lucky, I will get to embarrass my kids.

So, my wish for everyone reading this is to be a “Cactus in a world full of Pansies.”  Stand tall, be unique and a little prickly around the edges.

PS: I have also decided that after reading this past week about former First Lady Barbara Bush (AKA-The Enforcer), I want to be called “The Enforcer” by my grandchildren someday.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Through Eyes Like a Child

Through Eyes Like a Child

I am not always good a seeing the big picture. Most times, I get bogged down in right here, right now kind of problems. You know the kind, the I have a pile of laundry, I need to go to the grocery or even the seasonal psychotic episode of I have to get this yard and these flower beds cleaned up and ready for summer right this very minute.

The way I figure it, if the outside is clean and neat nobody knows that my house is a wreck, the laundry is piled sky high, the dog hair is about to take over and the sink is full of dirty dishes. You know it is just like social media put your best foot forward and people can only guess at the rest of the story.

Saturday, this crazy gardener girl broke out of her winter asylum. Plans were made, flowers were bought and tools loaded into the Kubota. I put on my work clothes and set out to whip this little plantation into shape. 

The husband was out of town, so the boy calls and asks me to help burns some weeds off the sweet corn patch. Of course, I tell him I will be there in a minute because who has time to be responsible for your oldest child setting the whole countryside on fire. Spoiler alert! It was a small controlled burn and we didn't even have to call the fire department. I love it when a plan comes together.

I get back to the yard work. My mother who has Alzheimer's decides she wants to help in the yard on this beautiful sunny day. We are working in the flower beds pulling weeds and raking leaves when the youngest comes outside to let me know that the boy called and said one of the cows was out.

So, we all load up and head to the barn. When we arrive, the boy has the rogue cow cornered on the backside of the barn. I run  to the gate behind the barn to open it because after all gate opener is my official title. While running to the gate, I was watching the crazy cow and not where I was going and step right in the middle of a giant steaming hot pile of cow crap. I open the gate, the boy  runs the angry cow through the opening and I head back to my yard work.

While working in the yard,  I would notice my mother would disappear for a while. Each time she returned she would tell me about the new baby kittens in the garage. This happened four or five times. Each time she told me about them it was like it was the first time she had seen them. The excitement and joy she shared when she talked about them was incredible.

You see, I could have spent my day focused on the things that I did not get accomplished. There were plenty of distractions but instead of being disgruntled about what I could have gotten done. I am going to thank God for showing me over and over again that seeing things like a child can bring such joy and happiness. There are plenty of times that Alzheimer's  causes me to be sad and angry but not today. Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of my mother's life in these crazy beautiful messy days.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Bad Days, We're Goning to Have Them

Bad Days, We're Going to Have Them

Okay, I am just going to say it, I have a bad attitude some days. I probably have a crappy attitude more days than I would like to admit. I am exhausted, overwhelmed and just in general tapped out. You know what I am talking about, the kind of tired you feel when you have nothing left to give but everyone is lined up needing/wanting something. If you have ever been there, it is a lonely place. When you reach the end of your rope, and snap. You say things that are out of character,  harsh and sometimes in appropriate. Often the person that gets the brunt of your explosion is not deserving of your unkind outburst.

Yesterday, was of those bad days. It started off with me forgetting to get gas the night before. No big deal, I can stop on my way to work. Well, my son calls me on the way to work wanting me to run an errand for him after work because it has to be done today. I should have told him that he is and adult and that he can do it his self but I didn't. While I was trying to figure out how to fit that into my already busy afternoon, I arrive at work with out stopping to get gas. 

Between classes, I stopped to check my phone. I had two voice texts from my daughter that basically said my windshield wipers suck and need you to go buy me new ones and I have to go back to Murray after work to night. I love this child, so I said we will see if I get a chance.I should have told her to go to AutoZone. You drive up, tell them what you want and they will install them in the parking lot but I didn't.

I  leave work in a hurry because I need to pick the youngest up early from school. Oops! Now I really need to stop for gas. So, I did. I finally  pick my daughter up from school. Run by the bank and then to the courthouse for my next two errands.

At the courthouse, I was trying to get and official ID for my youngest daughter. I get there only to find out that they have to have both a social security card and an official copy of birth certificate. Needless to say, I didn't have both with me at the time. I leave only making it to the hallway before I let a few expletives fly from my lips. Maybe because they were not very helpful.

Now, I have to drive all the way home to get the child's birth certificate and be back in town in time for her physical therapy appointment. On the way home I get a text from my husband, which ends with me having to make another trip to the bank.

We arrive at her physical therapy appointment, register and find our seats. The receptionist calls us back up to the window to let us know we missed are appointment. It was Thursday instead of Friday. Epic mom fail, I am 0-2.

As we headed down stairs, I decide I am going to try to get my blood work drawn. Earlier in the week, they tried to draw blood at my doctor appointment and were still unsuccessful after four sticks. While registering there was a child that was screaming the entire time and running around the lobby. Don't get me wrong, I am not judging any other parents. It was just that my nerves were fried and the registration clerk was really slow, again no judgment here because she probably couldn't  even think with all that noise. They quickly called me back, I was so happy because I knew this girl and she got it with one stick. I thought maybe this day is turning around!

Leaving the parking lot, the telephone rings. It was my son wanting to know when I would be home because the cows were out. I tell him I will be home as soon as I can but I still have an errand to run. The day is not turning around!

I return to the courthouse with the child, the birth certificate and social security card. Four dollars later the mission was accomplished.

We are in the car and headed home. The child announces that she is hungry and going to die unless we stop and get her something to eat. So, I run through a drive thru to get her food because I cannot listen to one more word. Before I take a drink of my milkshake, I spit my gum out the window. It flies back into the car and lands in my lap. At this point, I am running on emotional fumes.

I get to the barn and the cows are already back in the fence. I am very thankful that I did not have to chase cows today. It would not have been good for me or the livestock.

I decided that I would take my mom and youngest to eat. We  arrive at the restaurant to meet my oldest and his wife only to get a call from the middle child that one of our dogs has been spotted far from home and she doesn't have time to pick her up. So, before I even get to sit down I leave my people at the restaurant and go in search of the dog. When I get almost home, I see the dog head back to the house. I pull in the drive way, text my family that I am not coming back and crawl into bed.

I am done! Peace out! See ya later! Mom is hiding! I am Running Away from Home!

I lived this day and now I have written about it. It was a totally crappy day. I was tired and overwhelmed before it even started. After reading what I wrote I realized a few things. First of all, if I had been prepared, managed my time a little better and not procrastinated it might have been a different kind of day. The second thing that I  noticed about this day was that I need to learn to say "No."  However, the last and most important thing that I realized was that this day no matter how bad, it was still a good day! My family is healthy, they have food to eat, they have a place to live and they are loved.

Bad days are going to come and that's okay. Just remember that it could be much worse so be thankful for you crazy beautiful messy life!

Monday, April 9, 2018

My Farmers and My Chicks

My Farmers and My Chicks

I have lived on a small family farm my entire life. My Dad made sure to instill a love of the land not only in me but also in his grandchildren. Luckily, I married a man who believes in that same stewardship of the land.

The kids have always taken an active part in all things farm related. They have had their own sweet corn patch, watermelons and pumpkins. They have feed animals, cleaned pens and fenced. This has taught them the value of hard work and the realities of life and death on the farm.

We talked to our kids to see what they would like to see happen to the farm. They each have a goal that they would like to work toward on the farm. The boy is interested in cattle, one girl would like to have a green house and trees, and the other girl is wanting sheep. So after this discussion, the plans were set in motion to start a beef cattle operation.

This is just a little peek into the kind of conversations that happen in our living room at 10:00PM on a Saturday night.

The door slams, a purse hits the kitchen table. The first words out of her mouth are, "I want you to know that I am terribly disappointed! I stopped at the barn to introduce myself to the new calves. You said we were getting babies! They are not bottle babies. I had already picked out the outfit I was going to wear to take a Selfie, while I was bottle feeding the new babies!"

The girl leaves the room. When she returns, the conversation goes like this:

G-If I can't have bottle babies I want a black Oreo cow, a brown Oreo cow and a Brahman calf named Eeyore.
*Oreo cows aka Belted Galloway
D- There is no such thing as a brown Oreo cow.
M- Yes there is.
D-What good is a Brahman?
G- Not everything has to have a purpose. They can just be cute. Besides, they are really good mamas.
D- Are you going to name one of the Charolais calves Snowball?
M- No! We don't name our food. Snowball burgers are hard to eat. I speak from experience.
G- Why are there so many rabbits it the hutch with the white ones?
D- So, I can fatten them up.
G- You are going to put them in the running pen?
D- We are going to eat them. Well, one of them.
M- I'm not eating them.
D- You are going to eat one of  the steers
G- We are talking about rabbits!

Don't mistake this crazy conversation for my kids not understanding the things that happen on a farm. Just enjoy the fact that there is still a sweet innocent soul that sees the beauty in this life style. We should all take a few moments and stop to realize that everything doesn't have to have a purpose. We are able love and enjoy somethings just because we can.

These are my farmers and my chicks and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world! I love this crazy beautiful messy world. Stay tuned for more adventures from the farmers and their chicks

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Keeper of Everbody's Crap

Alright women, listen up! It doesn't matter whether you are a wife, mother, grandmother or crazy aunt someone somewhere crowned us the keepers of everybody else's crap. I know that you have all seen the look. You know the one that I am talking about. The eyes glazed over, neck craning and head bobbing from side to side look for something that is right in front of them LOOK. All the while you hear in loud hurried almost angry voice," Where is my...?"

Don't get me wrong I would not trade being a wife and mother of three for anything in this world but dang could they at least try to look or even pretend to look before they automatically come to me in a panic because they cant find something. It is even more fun to interact with these crazy blind individuals when they are looking for something last minute when they have known that they needed said item for days or at least since the night before. In this instance, my husband will gladly add one of his little pearls of wisdom to the already out of hand interaction with the child, "Poor planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on mine or your mothers." I am sure that you can clearly see that this is good advice but  not very helpful in the middle of a teenage meltdown.

I was the gold standard when it came to being the keeper of the crap. When my kids were little, I taught school full-time, kept the house from falling apart, made sure they had check-ups, dentist and haircut appointments, made sure the arrived at practices on time, helped with homework, and feed them. I could still locate their favorite red shirt, locate the one missing shoe and that special toy that they misplaced last week. I could find that paper that someone laid on the kitchen counter three weeks ago. Yet, all the while keeping them alive.

Sounds great right! It sounds like I was rocking this keeper of the crap gig but the truth is I had bad case of Mommy Brain. I had managed to compartmentalize stuff that was important to my family. In my brain, that was the only thing that mattered so everything else became less important. I neglected to take care of myself and I would forget to mail bills. It wasn't that I was careless or irresponsible it was that I thought that I had to do it all and I became overwhelmed.

So mom's of littles, mom's of adult children and everything in between, I am going to share a little bit of advice with you. Kids are amazing wonderful creatures and they are capable of doing a lot more than we give them credit for being able to handle. The can help around the house, they can find their own crap and they can even be responsible for keeping up with their crap. Don't let being the keeper of the crap be a full time job. Stop, take a breath and enjoy this crazy beautiful messy life!

It also doesn't hurt to have an awesome husband or partner in crime to help you survive being the keeper of the crap but don't expect them to be able to locate missing items.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Liberation from the F Word

I bet all of you and your dirty little minds went directly to F@#$. I will not lie. I have, on occasion, let that particular word escape my mouth. Believe me, I can say it with conviction and in context. However, somewhere down deep inside me is a little voice that says, "You know better!" That voice sounds a lot like my mother.

This little voice tucked away down deep inside leads me to talk about the real F word. The word that I am talking about it is FEAR. Everyone has things that make them feel afraid. I am not talking about the kind of fear that makes you think twice about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or the kind of fear that might keep you from trying something new. I am talking about the kind of fear that paralyzes you and keeps you from living your best life.

I lived through the of the kind of fear I am talking about a few years ago. In 2008, my Dad passed away unexpectedly. I was devastated to say the least. I watched my mother, my kids and even my husband struggle with this loss. You might be thinking so what, everyone suffers loss. Well, it just so happens that in a period of about 36 months, my mother's side of the family suffered not one but five unexpected losses.  I let fear take over my life. I was afraid to let my children and my husband out of my sight. If my mother didn't answer her telephone, I went into complete panic mode. I lived in a constant state of fear and anxiety.

The reason I shared this is to let you know that fear is a liar and a bully. No one every has to live with that kind of stress and worry. Liberate yourself from the F word. Don't be afraid to take chance and live your best life because wonderful things await all of us in this crazy, beautiful messy world.

Deuteronomy 31:8 "He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Sunday, March 25, 2018

In His Mighty Presence I Stand

I want to preface this by saying that I am a child of God. I was saved by His amazing grace several years ago. However, the reality is that I am a work in progress. I am a hot mess and some days I fail miserably.

There have been many times in my life that I have felt the presence of the Lord near me. You may say that he is omnipresent and I would totally agree. In these instances, I have heard his sweet voice whisper be still and trust in me and felt the warmth of his unending light.

When I was 31 weeks pregnant with my oldest child, I became gravely ill. I was flown to a large hospital with a neonatal unit. When I arrived alone and scared in a strange hospital room, I was over come by a great feeling of peace. I can still remember lying there waiting for my family to arrive. In that strange scary place I knew that I was not alone. I would be remiss if I wrote about this experience and didn't mention all of the people that were praying for me and my family. However, there was one special prayer warrior that was on my side that day. My Grandmother was an amazing faith filled woman. When I finally was able to see her, the baby and I were doing much better. She told me how she got on her knees and prayed continuously lifting us up, her hands and arms out stretched giving it over to the Lord that his will be done. I pray that some day I will be able to  have just an ounce of the faith that woman had in her body.

One cold December day, I was getting ready for work and the telephone rings. It was my mother telling us that my Dad was being taken to the hospital by ambulance. As my husband was driving me  to the hospital, I heard Him speak to me. I can tell you the exact spot on highway that morning that I knew my Dad would not be coming home. I felt at peace that I can not explain. It was much later when the ambulance reached the hospital and we were told that he had passed. Being surrounded by family and friends that day and in the days that followed enabled us to feel as though we were wrapped in His love.

The next time I felt His presence was one busy May when three bus loads of children and teachers were returning to school after a fun day of end of the year fieldtrips. The laughter and the noisy chatter came to an abrupt stop when the bus I was riding on drove up on the scene of an overturned bus. There again I heard His voice whisper be still in the midst of he chaos and tears. I witnessed unbelievable strength and resolve as these godly women that I had the privilege to teach with for years helped to rescue  and comfort the children and adults injured in the accident. That day I believe that God used us as his hands and feet to provide comfort to those in need. He never left us in the days after as we struggled to heal and find a new normal for our students.

A few years ago, I resigned my teaching position after 15 years in the classroom, I prayed everyday. I was worried about the loss of income, losing my identity as a teacher, life changes for my kids, and my mothers deteriorating health. Amidst my fear and angst,  again I found myself hearing Him whisper be still and trust in me. Even though I dearly miss the kids and having my own classroom, this drastic life change has allowed me to spend more time with my aging mother, be truly present in the lives of my kids and my husband, and live my best life. What I thought was the end of the world turned out to be a huge blessing for our family.

I am unworthy of God's unfailing grace but he has stood faithfully by me through everything life has thrown at me and my family. As for me, I will one day stand forever in his mighty presence but until then I pray that I continue to hear His voice and feel His presences in this beautiful crazy messy thing we call life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


This post is for all the women out there that are juggling careers, family, kids, relationships, and aging parents. If you take anything from what you read here let it be that you are not alone. In a world where at every turn you are told you are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or happy enough, I am here to tell you that you are ENOUGH!

Ladies there are days in this particular stage of my life when I feel guilt, anger, sadness and overwhelming defeat. In the frenzy to take care of everyone and everything, it feels as though I am drowning.  In that moment, I can no longer breathe.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be that way for any of us. For crying out loud, ladies you do not have to be Wonder Woman! You are allowed to be perfectly imperfect. It is okay to let  your family eat off of paper plates, let the laundry pile up  and order take-out. Turn off the social media for a while and reconnect with your people. Don't let those Facebook and Instagram posts  be the tool you use to measure your success or happiness.

Find your people, the ones that encourage and support you because you are doing just fine being you. If you know someone in the trenches that is feeling less than ENOUGH go out of your way to be kind, offer to help and love them a little extra.

In the midst of this messy, crazy life I am blessed to have people that remind that I am doing alright.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Life in the Weeds

I am going to start this first post by saying, "I am in the Weeds." I am a forty something wife, mother of three, daughter of an Alzheimer's patient, former elementary school teacher and farm girl. Needless to say I have a lot on my plate. Sometimes I tend to get overwhelmed by the chaos. My husband is usually the voice of reason in the madness. This irritates me because I really don't like it when he is right and I am not. His words of wisdom go something like this, "You better cherish this while you have it. This isn't going to last forever."

This has been a hard week. My mother has been living with us since October after she experienced a sharp cognitive decline. That was a huge adjustment for everyone. However, this week we have been working on cleaning out her house. My son and daughter-in-law are going to be living there soon. I have had a hard time myself. It is hard to explain parting with things that are associated with my parents, my childhood and all of the memories that are associated with this change. It has been hard for me to come to the realization that Mom is never going back. She is never going to live there again and I can never go home to my parents' house again.

I just live down the road from my parents' house. My mother, even with dementia knows that her stuff is in that house. She doesn't remember living there but she recognizes the stuff. This is making it difficult for everyone. She has tried to sneak off three times. She was successful only once but it was enough to scare the crap out of us. She doesn't understand why it is such a big deal. She tells us that she has two feet and good legs and she can out walk anyone on this hill.

Today, I decided we need a break from this craziness. I took her out to lunch and on the way home we stopped just down the road from my house to pick a bouquet of March flowers. We get out of the car and I tell her to be careful, stay on the flat and watch for snakes. The next thing I know my 72 year old mother is climbing on a dozer pile to pick flowers, and promptly gets tangled it the weeds and goes rolling down the hill. There I was "In the Weeds" with my mom. Two bouquets of flowers a mother and a daughter laughing and loving.

The moral of this little story is being "In the Weeds" with the people you love is not so bad after all. Cherish it while you have it because it may not last forever.

Musings Of A Queen Bee: What Now...

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