Sunday, November 26, 2017

What I Like About Being Marmee

 It's a role full of interest for me. It is so very much different than being mom yet it often brings up in my heart the same delights and cares familiar to me from when our children were still children. It's different because I'm not directly responsible for their training and discipline. I'm grateful for this as well.
    I get to see into these children's hearts with the memory of my own childhood. Did I forget this when their parents were small in our care? I wonder. Still, while reading The Boxcar Children aloud to them; I was transported in my memory to the wonder I felt as a child of those children enjoying day after day of discovery and miracle resources and creativity. It was all fun and beautiful.  As a mom, I agonized over the lost children and who was watching out for them...I could hardly think the book was a read aloud fit for my children.
   I have time now to notice and take pictures and capture their wonder and curiosity. It's an amazing privilege.

 We pray for them, much as we prayed for their parents. Yet, the weight feels different somehow. Not less, just different. I realize now that there were at least three sets of parents praying for our children: us and their grandparents on both sides the family. Now that I'm on the grandparent side of things, I know.
   Grandchildren are breathtakingly beautiful and amazing and smart. Just like their parents, yes, but even more poignantly somehow.
    As a mom, I would have seen those patches on his pants and would have known how hard that was to do and how discouraging to keep that boy in decent pants and still loved him and being proud of him and feeling guilty often for not having done enough: praying, caring, providing, teaching. The guilt was so heavy sometimes, at night especially.
   As Marmee to this boy, the patches on his pants and the shine on his face reflecting the lake water are beautifully meaningful to me. His wonder in the moment is my healing of the guilt I carried as a mom. It's a glorious gift from God Himself. The prayers are still working, yes, those prayers for his mom are being answered here. I'm humbled and grateful.

This morning Havilah decided to sit beside us during church. She came in shivering from having just arrived through the chilly November morning; so I gave her the circle of my arm. She gratefully snuggled. Later in the morning she initiated a hands game with me. Grandpa noticed and reached over covering both our hands in his big warm hand. She basked in that moment of both of us focusing on her little game with us.
    I remember both my grandpas fondly. They were highly interested in influencing their many grandchildren and they did. I miss them intensely sometimes. I want to ask them my questions. Their example motivates me to continue to make a difference in every way I can in the lives of each our grandchildren. It will take all the rest of our lives. There must be no wasted days. 

Thanksgiving 2017

    Our gathering this year was truly, nicely traditional and memorable. We had the regular fare of turkey, ham and mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, both gravies. The girls brought the stuffing, vegetables, and a salad. We had the whole day to visit, play games, be together, and eat, of course.
    Then there was pie. Pie deserves it's own paragraph which is the only reason I needed to start a new one. Amy made the famous, important brown sugar pie. I guess from what those who like it claim; it is just as good as Grandma Graber's. At any rate, brown sugar pie is a must-have at a traditional Graber family get-to-gather. How else can we have the debate and buffoonery over the parceling of one pie fairly to those who "love" it and the avoidance of those who "hate" it. We had other pies for the rest of us. Lance likes peanut butter cream pie, so I made one. One pie of each kind that we like used to be plenty. Pie is ridiculously, densely, caloric. But who cares on Thanksgiving Day! Besides those, we had apple and lemon cream pies. And Lisl made a very nice pumpkin cheesecake, which was my pick of the pie part of our day.  Consensus at the end was this: "There wasn't enough pie." I just wrote that down, so now we'll remember.
    Wednesday night, while other people, who I won't mention by name,went to prayer meeting; Elv and I lined three tables up in a long row right down the middle of the house. We played musical chairs with them till we got them arranged for the best space possible which was still  pretty tight, and covered them all in white cloths to become one long table. Then we spent an hour placing the name cards I had created with the Cricut on Monday. I was so glad for his help with this. With two of our families missing, we still had nineteen people, nine of which are children ages eight years old and under. Try this sometime. Remember we are going to be passing heavy dishes of meat and taters and sauces and what-have-you from person to person. So we need to have the adults interspersed evenly. Anyway, we got it done and it worked, even though I still had to get up and help pass dishes. Clark frankly stood up at his end of the table to get it done.
   What a hub-bub it was when the families and their paraphernalia came pouring into our little house. Elv came in from his last minute Wal-mart shopping with flowers for our table and chocolates and other goodies for later. We "dished up" at noon sharp, Grandma Hershey's wedding platter with the ham among the other heaped dishes.
   As we all settled into our places, I passed out Ron Hamilton's song that we always sing on such occasions. I hope it's true of each of us, "I shall come forth as gold." Bowed heads and held hands around the table while Elv asked the blessing.
   Just passing the main course till we had loaded plates took a few minutes. There was a hush then as we began to eat. I mentioned that it was a little like feeding the calves and Charlotte replied that I always say this. I also reminded them all that even though we tried to keep tradition, "There is no lutifisk, and you should all be glad." Then granddaughter, Havilah, observed for us succinctly, "This is a REAL party." And it was!
     Lisl said that Jube was still talking about it on Friday, about the long table with people on both sides and nobody had to sit on the stairs.
     After the meal we girls did dishes. The children went outside and built a cave of firewood and a tarp and the four boys tried to deem it off limits to the two girls as boys and girls have always done.The men played board games and rook managing to keep the noise level down so that babies could sleep.
    During the afternoon, Lisl unearthed a box of quilt blocks that she is hoping to turn into much needed blankets for her family this winter. We also found the quilt tops that we have from Grandma Ruth, one for each of the grandchildren in our family for whom they haven't yet been quilted. How much will we accomplish of this during the next year?
      Just before dusk we gathered up children and coats and boots and strollers and took a walk around our block. We met Amy and Tim on their way back from "going walking", so they turned around and walked with us. The grown up sons didn't exactly drag race with their strollers but it was tempting, obviously.
     We finished up our day by bringing out the cold meat, bread, cheese spreads, crackers, smoked fish, brie, cranberry sauce, pie, and ice cream. There were mixed nuts to crack and fruit to slice. Amazing amounts of food and many happy times together all day. If we ate this way every day, by next year the nephews could look up at their uncles and remark, "My how you've grown!" instead of the other way around, as is the traditional greeting of grown ups to children.
      Last of all, I am thankful for roots and traditions that bring families together for a day to eat and play and remember.  I'm glad for this opportunity to visit and just rest. We didn't have to solve about caving basement walls, or refinishing hardwood floors... or we could find out how others are doing those things if we needed. Problem solving or planning ahead or comparing projects or just laughing and crying together in the family context is a rich blessing from the Lord.
     And, as one of my aunts said once, I'm glad for what our grandchildren are teaching our children. It's great watching and participating in the bringing up of another generation from the stance of a grandparent.We love being Marmee and Grandpa to them.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Owning Our Daily Lives

The list I wrote up for this week fills a whole page. I wrote what work and plans belong on each day. All organized and readable with the scheduled times and places for work three days and for helping Dru and Lisl move into their "new" home on Wednesday. Busy times. I  own the schedules and responsibilities and the joys of the whole list in my mind and heart right now on Monday morning accordingly.
Accordingly, with prayer and preparation. And even some evening house work to keep it all flowing well. 

I love this busy-ness: keeping both stoves stoked with firewood, the hearths tidy, pushing laundry through morning and evening, and then folding while Elv and I rest by our fire at the end of the day. Last night Elv helped me do up the Sunday dishes while Brad swept  up the middle of the floors of our popcorn and wood chips.. family living. I enjoy my work at the store... this other part of homemaking.
I love owning my own housework and messes. I don't love my own sewing, but I own that, too, by making an hour here or there for cutting and sewing skirts "in the cracks" as Elv says, this week.

The married girls in our world are busy with each their places in life. Charlotte asked for new serving spoons from Sharon's store in Idaho while I was going there anyway. I found them again sitting here on my desk this morning. So I set them on Kristine's cookbook that she left here after making a special desert for the two of us trying to eat smart...owning our personal needs in a happy, responsible way.
I love these girls, too, who keep life ticking for their own little families. The world goes round "happy" for all of us because we girls take care of our homes and our people choosing to be happy to do it. It's ours to love or hate.
Loving home making by regarding it as eternity art is a wonderful way to own it.
Right now, Lisl is taking ownership of a very old log house, literally. She is also taking ownership of hardwood floors that need some loving and the log walls and some bad windows. But it is going to be a lovely, gracious cabin in the end all because we love old houses and the unique problems that go with them. 

Think darkened logs, a huge field stone fireplace, area rugs, small cozy bedrooms, a new kitchen, and interesting quirks to spark wonderment of yesterday lore. There's a beam downstairs that needs tending says Elv, and two windows in the living room that almost aren't. But it's going to be a home for Lisl and her family. There are chores and animals and fruit trees. Of course, owning it means work and responsibility. On the mantel piece is a sign that says why this is all so important and rich.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Owning An Odd Space

We have a small area at the end of the dining room, behind the bathroom that doesn't really  have an obvious use or function most of the time. To make it even more confusing there is a deep window sill that would be perfect for a window seat except that it isn't low enough to step into, or to sit into either really.
     So let's try this. With fourteen grandchildren under ten in this family and the complex noise level of that many adults visiting in the same area there comes a need for spreading out. There's a window seat for reading or napping and a rug for cozy toes, a bookcase full of books, a chest of toys, and a string of lights in the tree for enchantment.
      For reasons I can't explain now, I have never wanted to designate a complete room area exclusively to the children's activities. They have their own bedrooms, of course, but I have felt like we did not have room to spare for the toys, books, and games spread out, taking up "living" space. I'm happy to announce to my world now that with so many little children coming and going now in these four walls, I'm happy to make a whole room area into their space.                                                                                                                                                                                               

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