Monday, June 30, 2014

bye, bye boot!



I went back to the foot doctor today. Knowing that it normally takes a fracture about 6 to 8 weeks to heal, and me off (well, mostly) my foot and using the scooter and crutches for almost a month, I was a little nervous.

Well, friends, I experienced one of the happiest moments of my life today.

No sign of any crack as we looked over and over at the x-rays. The bone spur, even, attached back. "This really is rather remarkable," my doctor told me as I sat there stunned and overjoyed, almost in a state of disbelief.  Like it was all just too good to be true.

With a little trepidation, but with a smile that went from ear to ear, I walked-- one shoe off and one shoe on-- slowly out to my car; my foot still a little tender and not used to bearing weight for so long.   

And I sat in the car and just wept.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" coming out of my mouth with this, my own little miracle.
These hopes and this heart understood. 
These prayers and pleas answered.

The kids cheered when I got home. Their own smiles and their own joy matching mine. "You can do stuff again, Mom!" Isaac beamed, hugging me tight. 

So in the spirit of celebration, I treated myself to a pedicure this afternoon. I think it's been three years since the last time I had one. So nice, especially for this poor problematic foot (that unfortunately has been the object of so much frustration and negative emotion from me) to receive some nurturing touch and pampering.

And now tonight (knock on wood) I guess I can say goodbye 
to that ugly, cumbersome boot! Goodbye crutches and speedy scooters (the red one and the black one) and motorized grocery store shopping carts! Goodbye to years of chronic pain and limping and trailing behind!

Hello to wearing two shoes instead of one! Hello to the delicious freedom of going barefoot on my wood floors and out on the grass! Hello to weeding the garden and going on after dinner walks! Hello to early morning runs! Hello to giving massages!

Thank you, thank you, thank you...


Thursday, June 26, 2014

this week in my kitchen



Hello, friends! Joining the fun with Heather of Beauty That Moves This Week in My Kitchen blog hop.

Here's a peek...




With all five of my children now living under one roof-- and the added time at home that comes with summer vacation-- my kitchen is definitely hopping with activity. Seems like someone's always hungry or thirsty or whipping up something to eat. The stack of dishes sure proves it!

Two weeks ago we had a family meeting where we all decided that each of the kids could choose a free evening during the week where they would be in charge of dinner preparation. So far, our plan has been a real success. With more flexibility that comes with freed up school and work schedules, summer seems like the perfect time for the kids to have more opportunities to contribute to the family this way.

I'm loving it. Not only has it been a great help to me, but it has been a joy for me to see them really grow and shine. An opportunity for them to develop not only their culinary talents and skills, but be able to see just how much planning, coordination, and effort it takes to put dinner on the table. (Secretly, I think they see me in a whole, new light!) We've all been well fed, and I'm so proud of what good cooks they all have become over the years.

Each of them have their own "style" or expertise. Gary fed us a wonderful Sunday dinner of breaded and pan-fried Tilapia, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, sauteed zucchini and a green salad. Jane is our "ethnic and spicy" queen, and makes the best curries and stir-fries ever. Sam tends to lean towards Mexican food with his rice and bean dishes, and Eliza often feeds us delicious vegan pasta creations, as well as batches of her famous Snickerdoodles, and chocolate-peanut butter-banana smoothies. Each one of the kids totally "off the cuff" in what they come up with, now that I think about it. Isaac lends a hand where he can. He's our "go-to-guy" and is doing a great job with learning how to clean the kitchen after dinner. And that's a big job.

Needless to say, I haven't been spending as much time in the kitchen as I'm accustomed to. And it's been nice to have a break from it all, but even rolling around on my scooter, I can't seem to stay away too long from kitchen creating.

:: June is when the roses bloom. One of my favorite summer-time pleasures is making arrangements from the blooms I cut and bring indoors.

:: Grateful, still, for all the things that our neighbors and friends continue to share with us. Plates of cookies, loaves of bread, chips and homemade salsa-- even the bag of sweet cherries Ernie brought over Sunday night. Knowing how much we liked them, he later brought over a huge plastic bucket filled to the brim. So generous and kind of him to pick, sort, wash, and share all those cherries with us. Jane and I spent most of Monday getting them ready to fill many freezer bags full. (My fingers are still stained brown.) Looking forward to many cherry cobblers, crisps, pies, and smoothies in the coming days.

:: yesterday morning I made a Blueberry Baked Oatmeal. Perfect and great to use up some browning bananas.

:: With Dad and the boys off to a company barbeque and baseball game, here's what I came up with for us girls one night this week: Sauteed collard greens, onions, and garlic. Then, a tasty reduction sauce made from pineapple juice, Bragg's, and dried cranberries. Cubed tofu and spicy red chili flakes added. Topped with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and served over a bowl of brown rice. This kind of food is all I need...

:: another (sort of) invention to take to last night's potluck... a Southwestern sweet potato salad made with roasted cubes of sweet potato, leftover brown rice, sweet bell pepper, green onion, chopped tomato and fresh parsley, black beans, and corn. A cumin-miso-lime dressing poured over and tossed. Good, but would have been great with chunks of avocado. 

:: One loaf for us, one loaf to share.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

midsummer eve



it's friday night at last
and with each of the kids off with friends, 
and jane inviting averi over 
to cook and watch a movie,
we escape just the two of us
to the nearby canyon, these majestic mountains,
this wondrous extension of our back yard 
just ten minute's drive to the northeast.

date-night take-out
balanced on our laps,
sitting in silence
side by side on a log 
as the river rushes on.

hopping back in his truck 
and hoping to beat the sun's descent,
we find ourselves going higher and higher
on this winding road
through smoky, campfire haze
and on past tibble fork
where folks and families fish in their lawn chairs
along its shores,
and sleek canoes glide smooth
on the still, emerald 
waters.

then on impulse we decide to take a
right turn on a narrow, dirt road
and we bounce up and down
up and down 
me shrieking, groaning
at those bumpy ruts and sudden, sharp turns
feeling as though i'm on some queasy, no-end-in-sight amusement park ride.
   
and all the while i'm on the lookout
and occasionally burst out to
"stop!" 
and pull over so i can hobble on out,
camera poised, 
seeking to capture this incessant, endless beauty, 
the play of light and shadow,
these brief and fleeting moments in time.

this is joy
i quietly and contentedly sigh, 
immersing ourselves in nature like this, 
the gift of freedom, time, and place
discovering and finding my passion, 
a life's purpose
doing what it is that i love to do
and all of it tonight 
by his side,
too.


Friday, June 20, 2014

home


“After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” 

L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Avonlea

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

new 'do... and other news



It has been so good to have all my children at home with all the changes we've had this month. It's been awhile since our whole family has been under one roof with kids off to college and now these missions. There's a new dynamic to our family now; a time of transition for all of us. A house full. A mix. Young adults, teenagers, and an almost ten year old that I'm sure, is loving all the activity and attention. Hearing Jane and Gary's late night laughter as I lay in bed last night was so wonderful. There's been lots of laughter and storytelling and fun overall. Even in the care and concern regarding Jane.

We are seeing a gastroenterologist tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll get more answers. Jane is doing okay. She doesn't have a lot of energy, and her symptoms continue. She did feel like she wanted to go on a walk this afternoon, and that was a good sign. I'm doing my best to care for her. Like I said before, it is a sweet time for us.

We've continued to feel so much love from our good neighbors. I seem to do okay maneuvering around in the kitchen on my scooter and crutches, but we've so appreciated the thoughtful and yummy food offerings these friends have brought in. Just having a big tray of vegetables, dip, and hummus at the ready. The fruit salsa and cinnamon chips eleven year old Cosette wanted (her former babysitter) Jane to enjoy, or Jamie bringing over a tray of cheeses and crackers and grapes, or using Trudy's beautiful loaf of wheat bread to make the boys (taking a break from the Legos this rainy, wet day) some some grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. I can't tell you just how nice it is to feel so cared for this way.

Eliza is getting ready to start her children's art classes this week, Sam's friends are spending a lot of time here (they went on a campout together last night), and Gary and Isaac just went off together for ice cream. Oh, and Gary went back for a second interview yesterday for his dream job. 

I made this Sunday when everyone was at church and I was here with Jane. I think with all the stress-- chocolate, mint, and coconut met the need. (If you know what I mean.) 

Okay, along the lines of  "needing a lift", I've needed one. Oh, how I've needed one. My increasingly graying hair was... shall I say... kind of shocking to Gary and Jane after not seeing me in real life for so long. Well, Jane gently and encouragingly convinced me to just go for it, have fun, and explore the world of color. I know, I know, I was so adamant and almost militant how I accepted my hair just the way it was. I embraced my gray. But lately, I've felt a pull toward change. Every time I've looked in the mirror, the first thoughts have been "gray = old". 

So this afternoon, I snuck away for a couple of hours and took the plunge. If you can believe it, this was my first (professional) experience getting my hair colored. Excited, yet nervous at the same time. All I can say right now is how much I absolutely adore the way my hair looks. 

I feel young. I feel fresh. I feel happy. And I definitely feel a lift. 

Cheers!
xo

Monday, June 16, 2014

homecoming



Hello, friends.

As many of you know, our daughter Jane has been serving as a missionary in Taiwan. She left last April and was scheduled to come home in October. (She decided to extend her mission an extra month.) This time in Taiwan has been the most wonderful experience of her life. She gave her heart and soul to this work. She formed so many cherished relationships with her fellow missionaries and those beloved Taiwanese she taught and served. The personal growth she experienced cannot be expressed. It was the happiest and most fulfilling time of her life.

But even in the absolute joy, growth, and beauty of it, there were many challenges she courageously faced. At the end of March, she and her companion became very ill and were later diagnosed with salmonella poisoning. (Still unsure exactly how they contracted this. Their apartment being right above a meat market, cross-contaminated vegetables or a restaurant meal they purchased all could have been likely sources.) Since then, she has struggled with many debilitating symptoms and complications. In and out of the mission home, doctor and hospital visits, and much of the time, continuing to teach and ride her bike miles and miles all over that crowded city. 

Through her emails and a few phone calls, our family was made aware of her condition. As you can imagine, it's been a time of great concern and  prayer for all of us, and for me personally, a feeling of helplessness, heartache, and worry.

The day after our family arrived in California for our family vacation (Sunday, the last time I posted here on my blog), we received word that her condition required her to be released as a missionary so she could come home and get the medical attention she needs for her complete recovery and healing.

Greeting and welcoming her at the airport was one of the happiest moments of my life. A feeling of indescribable joy and elation to hold my daughter in my arms once again. Having these two missionary children return home this month been very healing to me; the holes in my heart now filled. 

She and I have had many, many sweet moments together since she flew home on Wednesday. I've converted my massage studio into a temporary bedroom for her to heal, rest, and recuperate. A peaceful and quiet sanctuary for her. I've loved laying next to her, preparing nourishing foods for her, rubbing her feet, stroking her long hair, reading to her, watching movies with her, and most of all, listening to her share so many stories and experiences of her time in Taiwan. We've laughed and cried together. 

We spend six hours on Friday at a doctor appointment and the hospital for her to receive IV therapy, extensive lab work, and CT scan to help determine an accurate diagnosis. We are anxious to receive the results of these tests in the next few days.

Our hearts have been lifted and blessed with so much kindness and love that has been shown to our family though the many prayers, phone calls, and visits we've received. Nourished and nurtured with flower bouquets, get-well cards, meals, and treats. This difficult time of trial made easier with the loving balm of compassion we have felt from our neighbors, church family, extended family, and sweet friends.

Things will be okay.
Things will work out. 
Help and healing come.
God's Love is there.

xo
Emily

Sunday, June 8, 2014

to the sea













the first one to see it gets a prize, he says
as we finally reach the end of our road-trip destination, 
"there it is!" i shriek
and can't help but clap my hands.

the first thing,
yes, oh yes,
it has to be,
after all the unloading is done,
and off they all scamper 
a mad dash
of flip-flops, swimsuits, and towels
to that glorious beach 
just right across the street.

and i soon find myself 
trailing and trudging slowly behind,
and can't stop smiling at it all,
even as salty tears begin to fill my eyes.

this was all i wanted.

what i saved every last penny and dime for,
longed and hoped for,
and dreamed of at night.

a soul's stillness 
that i knew would come
even as
i hear the soaring seagull's cry,
this endless roaring rhythm 
of crashing waves.

the peace and rest that i'd embrace,
welcome, and have oh, so needed
as i feel the sun's warmth 
soaking into my skin, 
these gentle sea breezes caressing my hair .

such gifts 
these precious, yet simple moments are
of watching them play, 
the sheer and utter joy 
at their own smiles of wonder and discovery,
these colors of a blazing, setting sun,
of seeing light and water dancing
happily together,
or the way streaming rays of this same light 
brilliantly shine down 
through gray, parting clouds,

a quiet manifestation, 
some might even call it a synchronicity, 
a divine message or sign, 
a love note, if you will
to one weary, 
ever seeking 
soul.