Monday, October 28, 2013

A Little Halloween Fun

Halloween at the zoo?  Yes, please!  We went to Ghouls at Grassmere this past Sunday night.  This event at the Nashville Zoo was a witch's brew full of spooky trick or treating with a pinch of animal sightings, a full stir on a haunted carousel, and a cup of Monster Mash dancing.  In other words, we had a Casper approved good time.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013


What would October be without pumpkins?  With Halloween drawing near, it seemed the pumpkins were calling to us today.  The Great Pumpkin needed to be found.  So we bundled up for the crisp fall air and made our way the closest crop of pumpkins to be found.  We searched through piles of perfect and, not so perfect, pumpkins until we found the best ones.  The best ones for carving.  The best ones for the table top.  The ones with the best stems.  We like gnarly stems.  We found our pumpkins and carried them home where hot apple cider was waiting to complete this lovely autumn day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

So The Boy Ran

Earlier this fall, the boy joined the cross country team.  He was at a new school, in a new town, without a single new friend to call his own.  He needed something to pour his energy into.  So the boy ran.

Of the three of them, he's struggling the most.  Lately he has reminded me of that old nursery rhyme:

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good she was very, very good
But when she was bad she was horrid!

That rhyme should have said "teenage girl".  Or maybe three year olds and thirteen year olds have something in common.  An irrational self-centering that cannot be brushed aside because it is their reality for that moment.  And for my boy, can I blame him?  He's endured so much these last few years.  He's endured it with more grace than his years should have allowed.

Maybe, in moving him, I provided the straw and the camel collapsed.  Yet he's still Chris.  The kid who helps without being asked.  The responsible kid who won't play until his homework is done.  The kid who recently bought a video game with his hard saved money just because he knew his sisters would like it.  When he's good, he's very, very good.

But occasionally, the heart cracks and the emotion that was being dammed up spills out into angry words that can't be taken back.

In those moments, my mama heart cracks open with his and I feel lost in the parenting waters.  I can't see the stars and my compass is broken.  And I wonder if we'll survive the battle.  

In those moments, my heart breaks for my boy, for I fear I have wounded him.  My mother worry takes over.  All of the what ifs and did I screw up and where did I go wrong and other failure speak.  We all do it. We mothers.  We let worry and anxiety consume us.  We shouldn't.  But can you blame us?  We have been entrusted with human lives to make or break.  

In those moments, I go to leather worn Word and I wonder if that last line is wrong.  Can I really make or break him if Another is molding him?  Perhaps what we've really been entrusted with is a human life to hold and to let go.  Our greatest job is to love them into the going.  

He's not lost.  He's just hurting.  And I will love him through the hurt.  Through the harsh words that I know deep down he doesn't mean.  Through the battles.  And I will love him to the Lamp at his feet.

And he will run.  He has spent the fall running off his anger.  Running off his frustration.  Without meaning to, he even ran into a potential friend or two.  He found a coach who saw that he needed to run.  The coach motivated him and pushed him.  He ran hard.  Everyday of every week for three months.  He felt the pain of it every night in his knees and his feet.  Some nights he went to bed with four ice packs strapped to his legs. Yet, he kept running.  Woke up wanting to run.  He got faster with each race.  In the end, he finished with a strong season that left him wanting more.  So he will run all winter and run all spring until the season begins again next summer.  He will run because he needs to.  He will run because he needs to be a part of the team. He needs the heart patching community of it all.  

 And I will let him run.  Loving him through the pavement pounding push of each step.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

We're Just Making It

So, I turned a page and now we're in Nashville.  If I'm honest, the last few months have been a roller coaster of emotion mostly spiraling down.  In other words, this has been a hard adjustment, that I'm not sure a single one of us is handling well.  Some things have been great.  Some things have been disastrous.  Some things have been downright hellish.  Let me go backwards a bit and explain.

The summer started off great.  I loved my internship.  Working at Cheekwood was everything that I had hoped it would be.  I looked forward to going to work every morning.  And I was truly sad when my time there was over.  In fact, on my last day, I applied to work there again during the holiday events.  I didn't care what they wanted me to do.  I just knew that I wanted to be back there on regular basis.   On top of that, coming home to my sister and her family every day was wonderful.  It was nice to spend so much time with them.   I also spent June in a creative writing class where I produced some of my best writing to date.  The professor encouraged me to see it through to publication.  I fell in love with what I was writing and became very motivated to take his advice.  I've continued working with that piece and plan to keep working on it until I can finish it.  That was June.  It was great.

Things started to get hard about mid-July when we actually moved here and officially left home.  We were back in Matthews for a week.  The kids had sleepovers every night.  We squeezed as much friend time as we could into one week.  Then we loaded everything into a giant Budget truck and made our way to Nashville.  The first week was OK.  I think we were so exhausted and still in a relative state of shock, so the homesickness didn't set in until week two.  At that point, we all crashed into tears.  We were living in a shoebox filled with more stuff than we could possibly unpack into the space. We couldn't find anything.  We couldn't find anything in this town either.  I wasn't sure we had even moved to the right part of town.  I didn't really like the suburb that we had decided to move to.  It felt big and somewhat ugly and far from what I wanted to do here. The boy was angry, one girl was terrified of everything unfamiliar, the other girl missed her friends in a heartbreaking way, and the cat was a freaked out terror.   July was a mess.

We even tried to go on vacation at the end of July.  While everyone around us had a good time, we struggled to be there.  Each of the kids at some point during the trip asked if we could just go home.  We usually love the beach, but our hearts weren't in it.   We were all on edge, which is exactly why we should have gone on vacation and exactly why we shouldn't have gone on vacation with other people.   We couldn't relax.  I was stressed about finding a job while in school.  I was stressed about getting the house unpacked.  I was worried about the kids transitioning.  The kids were stressed about starting school in  new place.  They were homesick and anxious and a little angry.  We were happiest in the moments when we found ourselves lost in front of the vast ocean.  I let loose several silent screams into the sea.  The beach was lovely, but we were a mess.

August.  School started.  It's so different from the little community school that we loved in Matthews.   We don't know the teachers or the traditions.  Sicily cried most days after school the first few weeks.  This is the child who wrote a poem about how much she loved her teacher at the end of last school year.  Analiese made a friend on day one.  Another new student.  That saved her.  The boy refused to make friends out of spite.  He spent his lunch break in the library.  I started school two weeks later.  Two weeks after that I was sure that I hated Belmont.  Like, the kids, I didn't know the teachers or the traditions.   And I didn't like the Belmont teachers or their traditions.  Shortly after starting, some of my transfer credits got reversed.  It was now going to take even longer to finish.  I ended up changing my major from one that I loved to a generic one in an effort to shave some of that time off.  I lamented the fact that I could have been sitting in classes that I was actually interested in with professors that I loved instead of in a class that I didn't need with a professor who made me want to shout obscenities.   I missed my old school as much as the kids missed their old schools.   Compounded with that, I couldn't find (and still haven't found) a job and I was really missing my old one.  I didn't realize how fulfilling the studio was for me until I didn't have it anymore.  I love teaching.  I miss my students and my classroom.  Especially after a summer full of teaching and gaining fresh ideas from other teachers.  I need somewhere to spend all of that energy.  I need something to pour into that has meaning.  Belmont is not that place.  Needless to say, during this time, we all came home grumpy and sad and frustrated at the end of the day.  Thus far we were not transitioning well.  August was an emotional mess.

first day of school
By September, I felt like a failure for coming here.  I felt lonely and exhausted.  I was questioning myself daily.  I considered, on more than one occasion, packing it up and heading home.  And we did.  For a weekend.  We went back to Matthews for Labor Day.  It was the exact vacation we needed.  It was refreshing to be in a place that felt familiar.  We saw friends and felt their hugs hit us directly in our hearts.  We came back here riding that warmth.  It propelled us into the rest of September.

Not long before we had left for that trip, the boy had joined the cross country team.  Being part of a team has kept him afloat.  The only friends he has made here are his teammates.  He respects his coach even though he's being pushed.  Cross country has given him something to look forward to.   For Analiese, that has come in the form of a horse.  Horseback riding is something that she has always asked to do but we've never been able to pursue it because of the expense.   Not long after we got here, we passed by a little stable and as always she looked longingly into the field of horses.  I decided to make it happen.  I called that little stable and it turns out they are a small operation with very few students and they were willingly to work within my finances.  Now she finds her peace on the back of a horse.  Sicily, the one who laughed when I told her we were moving, was the most difficult.  This place scares her and she's struggling to find a comfortable niche here  We had to search hard for the perfect gym and dance studio.  We found the gym a few weeks ago and she has since been asked to join their competitive team.  The dance studio is still up in the air.  She's going but she misses Masterpiece.  She danced there for five years.  Now everything is compared to that.  She may give it up and that makes me sad.

All of these things have helped make September less of a mess.  All of these things are pointing to a new life being built here.  I won't say each day gets easier because that would be a lie. The boy still has days when he's angry that we're here.  The girls both still cry occasionally.  And I am still questioning this move on a regular basis.   It's more like each month gets easier.  Maybe by Christmas we will have made it through a whole week without one of the four of us asking to go home.  I doubt it.  A dear friend encouraged me while we were back home at Labor Day by telling me to give it a year.  She said, "Give it a year.  Then, you know you've tried.  At that point, if you come back its not a failure.  You went and you tried but decided you wanted to come back."  So with those words in my mind, I'm giving it a year.  My hope is that by that point we will all want to stay equally as much as we want to leave, if not more.  Time will tell.  For now, we are just making it.  One day at a time.  One week at a time.  One month at a time.  We're making it.