GOOD FOR THE SOUL

sunset 052016

‘What is Mario’s favourite animal’ Sage asked as the three were getting ready for bed.

‘I don’t know’ I told him. Sage's eyes looked hopeful as he waited for me to say 'elephants' as he wanted to buy him a stuffed elephant when they finally got to meet him later this year.

‘He’s going to be your husband’ Saffron looked at me with a tilt of her head at my not knowing something I clearly should have known. ‘He will’ she reiterated. She was right. There are still some things I do not know about him. Perhaps I should. Then again, a little mystery can be good for the soul. And a relationship.

TAKE FLIGHT

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The birds were still in their nest by the time I left this morning. When I returned, the nest was empty. The four little birds were out testing their wings in order to take flight.

It amazes me how quickly the birds went from hatching to flying away. Last week when the children were here, they commented on how they saw four birds in the nest. I wonder whether the birds will be there when the children return tomorrow.

But the birds are not the only ones ready to take flight. Last night provided little sleep for us both. He on one side of the world ready to take the long bus drive to Dublin in order to take possession of his long-awaited passport. And me on the other side of the world waiting until 21:00 my time in order to call him to wake up for his bus ride.

At one point I fell asleep. When I awoke around 6:00, I saw a text from him. 'Problem' he wrote. And nothing more. 'Now what' I thought and then asked him whether or not he had his passport. I was already pondering cancelling my trip if he did not have it this time. He was messing with me at that point as he sent me a photo of his brand new passport with the word 'Maybe'.

The thought crossed my mind now that no longer will we say 'if' when it came to our future plans, but 'when'. The possibilities were there for us to take. At last we are able to plan. But the path to our destination is still a long one. 'One thing at a time' I thought. Just as with the birds whose tiny heads peered over their nest this past week wondering when they will be able to take flight, so we continue to wait for our time.

MIDWEEK RESPITE

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At times there will be those days which provide an interlude from the commotion and disquiet of days prior and those yet to come. Such was today. A midweek respite as I continue to wait on several happenings which will determine my next steps. As such, I savoured the quiet moments and rested for I know that tomorrow will be quite unlike today and I will have to take action and make decisions.

LIFE DISRUPTED

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With my hands to the window, I could feel the vibration of thunder. As I stood in what would have been my son's room, I was in awe of the show nature put on before me. Lightning and sunsets. Such beauty. Such splendor.

'Stay away from the window' I remember those words even now, decades later. Words spoken by my mom as I peeked through curtained windows in our family room downstairs. As I peered over the orange flowery couch. Even then I was enthralled with storms. As powerful and perilous as storms can be, there is something alluring and unexpected about them.

Life has storms as well. We expect everything to work as planned, not taking into consideration that the future is unpredictable. But without the bad, how can we appreciate the good without taking it for granted. How can we appreciate the sunsets and sunrises unless storms come our way to disrupt our lives.

I returned to my room and looked outside my window to the east. More storms rolled in along with rainfall. And more lightning ripping through the sky. I vowed to enjoy these views as long as I was able. One good thing about moving so many times is that you learn what you would like one day when you buy your forever home. Windows facing both east and west.

Compromises. Disruptions. Sacrifices. Patience. Life might seem disrupted at the moment, but things happen when they are meant to happen. We simply have to learn to find something to appreciate when we think there is nothing.

A CELEBRATION DELAYED

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All of the ingredients were measured out into various bowls. The shredded carrots. The light muscavado sugar. Plain flour sat in another bowl with the baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. All awaiting the arrival of the orange zest.

After having visited Sage at school for lunch, I returned home to measure out the ingredients for his birthday cake. Today he turned seven. During his lunch he asked me if I was making the same carrot cake I made for him last year. 'Yes', I told him. 'The baby one' he asked as he wanted to know if it was the 5-inch cake. He also specified two layers. I told him 'yes' to all of his requests.

I had discovered one ingredient I did not have. The orange for the orange zest. Though I could have left it out, I decided to go to the store to get the missing ingredient. But not before a detour to the apartment community near my children's new school. I had to find out my options and availability before I contacted the landlord and before my summer plans began.

The decision to move closer to the children's new school was not one I made in haste. I ruminated and pondered and wondered for weeks whether this is the decision I should make. Perhaps that is why I never bothered to set up our beds or the kitchen or move any of the furniture out of the way. For the sake of the children and our future I realised sacrifices were needed.

Upon my return home and after acquiring the oranges, I turned on the oven to warm up only to discover it having turned off by itself five minutes later. The power was gone. I waited for ten minutes before sending a text to inform Sage's father of my dilemma as he was planning on dropping off Sage at my place for the night for our celebration with cake and presents.

I waited another 10 or 15 minutes before deciding our celebration was to be delayed until the weekend. Though it saddened me greatly to have to miss out on celebrating with Sage, I hoped he would at least enjoy the time with his other family and not worry about separating his time between two households this time.

Happy 7th birthday, my son.

CHERISH THE QUIET

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The sun made a brief appearance at the end of the day, having been hidden behind storm clouds for most of this rainy Saturday.

I finally got around to washing the front porch this morning when I heard thunder and felt rain drops as I finished up the stairs. Four baby birds sitting in the nest by the front door, along with the two parents, made quite the mess. But soon the baby birds will fly away as they outgrow their little nest.

With the two large rattan patio chairs moved to the front of the porch, I was able to enjoy my bowl of carrot coriander soup for dinner as I watched the rain this evening. It is moments like these where I stop to appreciate and cherish the quiet after a rather tumultuous past week.

KEY TO THE WORLD

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'I have some bad news' he called to tell me. The little smile in his voice said otherwise. Many times before he would call and let me know he had to return to Dublin for yet one more missing document which needed to be submitted. This time, though, he needed to travel to Dublin to get his key to the world and to our future together one day.

Though we have both been waiting impatiently for this day, we realise there are many more obstacles to encounter on the way to our ultimate goal. But having the ability to finally travel off of the Emerald Isle presents us with more opportunities than ever before.

My mind started running in random directions, trying to make plans for a few days away. This time we had options we did not have the past two summers. This time we had the whole world at our door. And he finally has the key with which to open that door.

DETOUR

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The sky. The clouds. The beauty of the sun saying goodbye to another day.

You never know what the day will bring upon awakening but sometimes it takes a jolt from the soundness of sleep and the happenings within to guide your way. A dream brimming with activity in the short span of having fallen asleep for the third time since midnight.

A dream so bizarre to make you ponder and change the direction you were about to take. A detour to put back on the path from which you strayed. One which adjusts your view of your goal as you realise that patience and understanding is the answer. Giving up is not an option. No matter how difficult.

NOT AS PLANNED

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The sun was nowhere to be seen tonight. Only dark ominous clouds. Fitting, I thought, as it was reflective of my day today.

The children were not feeling much better this morning but since the doctor let us know their coughing might continue for the next two weeks, I drove them to school. I let them sleep in as long as possible, already deciding they would not be riding the bus. On the way to school, however, there seemed to be a major accident which caused policemen to direct traffic. The one mile to school took longer than normal but the children arrived just as the last bell rang.

I returned home to catch up on sleep. Broken was my sleep. Interspersed with dreams. Then the call from the school nurse. When I answered, she asked if I was sick as well. Then let me know that my oldest had a fever and needed to be picked up. She was also not allowed to return to school tomorrow. 'District policy' she said as I left the office with Saffron, '...it's in the handbook.'

My plan was to take a nap and go food shopping before the children arrived home. We had to compromise and go to the store nearby to get more English muffins and avocado and asparagus. The rest of the items I would have to buy over the weekend.

When the younger two arrived home on the bus, they did not feel any better. Cinnamon's teacher asked her if she would like to go to the nurse's office. Cinnamon decided against it but went to bed shortly after coming home. All three retreated to bed, with little to no dinner.

Sometimes life does not go as planned. Though we are given choices as to actions we can take, only we can make the final decision. But those choices affect other people as well. People who relied on us to decide otherwise. In that case, we find we need to make adjustments.

We know things will not be as planned so we have to find a way to live with the consequences. With the choices we made. We find a way to change the direction of our day and our future once again.

PEACE OF MIND

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Their coughing did not let up overnight and they still felt a bit feverish this morning. I then decided there was no way they could go to school today until we had some kind of answer from the doctor as to what this was.

Being informed gives one peace of mind. Even if there is nothing to be done about the diagnosis. As the children were at the pediatrician's office with their father and stepmother, I was home waiting for the refrigerator repairman. He arrived five minutes after they left though I had hoped he would have come later as I needed to sleep.

Lack of sleep is cause for many a malady including the inability to think clearly about important issues. In any case, my children were not lacking in sleep these past several days as I wanted them to get better. They took a nap this afternoon and went to sleep two hours before sunset again.

After their return from the doctor's office, we ate English muffins with butter and honey. Saffron was the only one besides me who opted for the Irish butter as Cinnamon complained that it was too yellow. She preferred the 'whiter' one.

Afterwards, we went upstairs where the three practiced the sign language alphabet I taught them before they left this morning whilst I set up the laptop for us to watch the German cooking show.

They enjoyed not having to go to school but I informed them they would have to return tomorrow. Though the doctor found nothing serious with their condition, he did inform us that since it was a viral infection there was nothing which could be done with medicine. Their cough, however, could last up to two weeks.

Knowing that my children are not afflicted with anything life threatening gives me peace of mind as is knowing that the appliance we rely on to keep our food at a decent temperature is once again working properly. Peace of mind can get us moving in the right direction. One with fewer worries so we can focus on what is most important to us.

CHILDREN'S DAY

From Cinnamon

From Cinnamon

Throughout the day, the children's mood and wellness changed. Since they went to bed earlier than usual last night, they were awake at 6,30 this morning asking for breakfast. I was able to get in another hour of lying in bed before going downstairs to put the yogurt and granola on the table. Then I returned upstairs intending to sleep more to no avail.

The children sat outside on the patio chairs whilst I prepared my coffee and a simple breakfast of English muffin with cream cheese and avocado. I thought it was quite sweet when Sage said he wished he could make me breakfast in bed for Mother's Day. Instead, I took the coffee and bread upstairs and watched my usual Sunday morning German movie.

'I didn't know you could take coffee upstairs' came the surprised look from the children when they saw me descend the stairs with my coffee cup. I told them it was a special treat today and they understood.

They were eager to have me open their presents they made. Cards and drawings and sweet words from my three children. Afterwards, the younger two gathered random flower petals and placed them in a plastic baggie. It turned out to be a sweet smelling potpourri which they told me to place on my table when I wanted a nice smell.

As they sat outside, I decided to make something for them. Crepes with ricotta, lemon zest, and sugar. They were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the treat. I told them it was 'Children's Day' as without them I would not be a mother.

crepes

Afterwards they spent a little more time outside before coming upstairs to take a nap. They were restless but all still had that concerning cough and a slight fever. At 16,00 they went to their father's house to celebrate Mother's Day. Their father later called me to voice his concern over their health as all three children were reluctant to eat anything. Even candy. All they wanted to do was to return here and sleep.

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And so all three children fell asleep about ten minutes after they showered. If they feel better in the morning, they will go to school. Otherwise, it will be another day in bed after a visit to the doctor. Sometimes you need to believe that, in time, everything will work out for the best.

NO CONNECTION

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They were asleep two hours before sunset tonight. All three of my children were afflicted with severe bouts of coughing throughout the night and all three felt quite warm to the touch. I told them sleep would do them well and would get them feeling better though they seemed not too convinced with this declaration as they saw no connection between the two events.

I noticed last week they were not their usual selves when I visited them at school Tuesday morning. Getting sick a month before school is out for the summer was quite unexpected but it happens.

For dinner we had 'dot soup'. Acini de pepe pasta with vegetable broth made from scratch. All three children ate the ladleful of soup in their bowls with the oldest asking for a second portion which was quite unusual for her.

They then retreated upstairs where Sage finished his book. The story left us wondering what really happened to the lion who no longer felt a connection to anything. An end without an end. On a journey to find his way somewhere somehow.

As the lion in the story, we sometimes find ourselves wandering aimlessly in search of some connection. To someone. To something. It might take longer than we would like, but at some point we find our way. We find that connection.

may sunbeams

CHAPTER 10

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Lafcadio was crying. He bemoaned his success to Uncle Shelby stating he was tired of the fame, the money, the fancy clothes, going to parties, signing autographs, and drinking buttermilk. He was even tired of the 23 million marshmallows he ate thus far. 'Everything isn't everything' he cried. He simply wanted to try something new.

I listened this evening as my son read chapter 10 of Shel Silverstein's first book Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back. Sage read with great enthusiasm, placing special emphasis on the sentences with exclamation points. Though he wanted to read the last chapter tonight, I convinced him to save it for tomorrow so we could find out what happens to Lafcadio on his new adventure.

Oftentimes in life we get bored with our routines. The same thing happens day after day. We long for something new, something different to break up the monotony. For some it could be as simple as taking an alternate route to work or eating something different for breakfast. Others, however, might need a greater change such as a respite in a faraway land in order to rediscover our purpose and gain new perspective. Upon our return, we learn how to better appreciate that which we already have.

Whatever the case, we all require change in order to grow. In order to move forward. Without change we tend to become indifferent and numb to everything around us as nothing seems to excite us anymore. Our souls are left empty. Our minds unchallenged.

Looking forward to something, anything is what keeps us going. It gives us hope when all seems hopeless. Focus and perseverance keeps us awake as we yearn to see what the next chapter of life holds in store for us. When we discover the reason for our existence.

SIMPLE BEAUTY

Sage says I should call this photograph 'lava stones'.

Sage says I should call this photograph 'lava stones'.

As the end of each day approaches, I keep an eye on the clock so I can run upstairs and make my photograph of the setting sun.

One thing for which I am grateful at this townhouse is having windows facing both east and west. My bedroom faces the rising sun whilst the children's bedrooms face the setting sun.

At a minute past official sunset time, the clouds danced through the sun's rays and arranged themselves in a most wonderous display. I was happy with the result as it was different from the past two nights of pure orange sky with no clouds to be seen anywhere. In fact, yesterday's sunset looked identical to the one from the two nights ago.

after one minute

I then put away my camera and prepared to end the day. At ten minutes past sunset time I glanced outside and was in awe of the bright reddish pink orange sky. I grabbed my camera once again to record the astonishing colours. But it was only when I looked to the left of the chimneys that I noticed the painted scattered clouds.

ten minutes after

Nature astounds us on a daily basis but many times we are too preoccupied to notice its beauty. Such is with life and those around us. We can become so engrossed in our daily routines and jobs that we miss out on the simple beauty and joy of interaction with one another. A smile. A hug. A meaningful exchange of words. It is remarkable how those simple things tend to bring about the most happiness.

PATIENCE AND TRUST

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'Patience' he tells me as I once again made an attempt at some kind of plans for us to be together this summer. It has been close to six months now since we last saw each other. The longest time to date. Yet somehow we need to find the patience to see through the difficult times and trust to know everything will work out in the end.