An Old Toy Box

Today was moving day. My family expected me to be crying at some point. It wouldn’t be unusual. Even my oldest son, Robert, called to check on me this morning.

While I drove to the new house with Rachel and Ryan to unload cars, Gart stayed back with the movers. Soon he sent a text, a picture of the empty house. I felt a little sad, but no tears.

Once everything was unloaded at the new house, we made one more trip back to the old house. Now I was standing in the middle of the emptiness. Rachel commented, ”It hasn’t looked like this since we moved in.” That was 16 years ago. The kids were 8, 6, and 3.

I remember them running around inside the house. I remember worrying about Ryan falling down the stairs. I think about how proud I am of the young adults they’ve become. Still, there were no tears.

We backed out of the driveway. Gart and Ryan in the truck, Rachel and I following in my car. Something caught my eye-the old toy box my dad built when Robert was a kid. It’s a little bench seat with a lid which lifts for storage.

This wooden box has been through many moves, sat in many rooms, and served many purposes. Today, it caused my tears. ”Of all things,” I thought to myself, ”Robert’s old toy box.”

I suppose it makes sense. We are preparing for that empty nest. This move represents a culmination of changes for our family. The kids are all grown up. They don’t need that space to run and play anymore. They are too big to sit on that seat or play with the toys it once held. And that is a good thing.

I love our new house. I look forward to making memories here with our grown-up children. Maybe one day, there will be other little ones sitting on that seat. No hurry. The memories we carry will soon fill the empty spaces while leaving room for new ones.

This house will soon feel like home because of the people who live here and the people who will visit. In the meantime, I will look back with fondness and forward with hope. And maybe I will find a special spot for that old toy box. 😉

No Signal

Living in this age of technology, the words “no signal” are usually unwelcome. They mean no calls, texts, posts, emails. There is no way to know what’s happening in the world, at least not quickly.

I spent last week in a place with no signal. The choice was intentional. Gart, Rachel, Ryan, and I vacationed in the mountains of Colorado. Our cabin was in the middle of Chalk Creek Canyon.

We talked, laughed, played card games. We also spent time fishing and hiking. Each of us enjoyed this place in our way.

I listened to the rushing mountain stream behind our cabin. Smelled the fresh scent of pine trees towering all around. Intently observed the creatures who inhabit the surroundings.

As I sat on the front porch, hummingbirds hovered at bright red feeders sipping the sugar water. They perched on tree branches for a brief moment. And just as quickly, they flew away.

Chipmunks were the next to arrive on the scene. They chased each other around the trees. Poking their heads up from behind the rocks, they scouted out the situation. “Yes, there are people here. But I think it’s safe. They’ve got food!”

All of these sights and sounds brought peace. There were no distractions, no to-do lists, no world news tonight. These few days in the mountains provided much-needed time away to rest and recharge.

Today we are driving home. There are only a few weeks of summer remaining. It is time to prepare for the upcoming school year. This week I will begin planning, setting up my classroom, and attending meetings.

I am ready to be plugged in and connected. Ready to greet a new school year. Ready, thanks to a few days of quiet in the mountains with no signal.

Continue reading “No Signal”

Read the Sign!

Today, our family drove from Tulsa, OK to Garden City, KS. This was the first leg of our trip to Colorado. Long stretches of straight roads. Wheatfields, cattle yards, and wind farms cover the landscape. It’s not exactly a scenic drive.

After we stopped for lunch, it was my turn to drive. My daughter, Rachel, moved up front and sat in the passenger seat. A little road trip girl time, with the boys in the back seat. She chose an interesting podcast to keep us entertained.

A few miles down the highway, I noticed a road sign. Bright blue, with a large sunflower in the center. Below the flower were the words “next 2 miles.” ”Oh look, Rachel. Sunflower fields for the next two miles!” She loves sunflowers! And this would be a welcome sight on our not-so-scenic drive.

The miles passed. No flowers. We repeated this scenario several times. Each time with the same results, a sign but no flowers. We formulated hypotheses concerning the absence of flowers. Was sunflower season over? Were they harvested for their seeds? We chuckled at our ideas.

A few hours passed, and it was Gart’s turn to drive again. I mentioned the sunflower signs and our disappointment. ”Are you talking about those blue signs with the sunflower in the middle?” he asked. ”Yes! Why?” ”Uh, honey, those are not advertising sunflower fields. I’m pretty sure those are highway clean up signs.”

Needless to say, we had a good laugh. And then as soon as he could, my sweet husband pulled over so I could snap a picture. A closer look revealed the truth. The signs were definitely not advertising sunflower fields!

In my defense, the words “adopt a highway” are a little hard to read when you’re driving by at 70 mph. 😉

We may not have seen any sunflower fields on our drive today, but there was lots of laughter and an important reminder: Always read the sign!

Around the Table

When the kids were younger, part of our routine included eating dinner around the table. Time not only for food but also for conversation. School happenings and family news topped our list. There was always lots of laughter.

As they grew older, as with all things family, dinners changed. Busy schedules and kids being away at college did not allow for meals together. Laughter and conversing continued, just at different times, and not always in person. Complete family dinners, with everyone present, became rare.

Last evening, our table was once again full. All the kids home at the same time-Robert, Rachel, and Ryan. Which truly is rare considering our oldest, Robert, now lives out of state. Not only were our three sitting around the table, but also Robert’s sweet fiancé, Erin.

Every seat was filled. And with Dad grilling steaks, so was every tummy. We ate, talked, and laughed at Dad’s jokes. The air filled with the contentment of family. And just like that, the table was cleared.

I do not take these times for granted. They are precious. For moments around a full table leave me with a full heart. ❤

 We sat around the table
Not one chair empty
Meal consumed; bellies filled
Smiles gracing each face
Laughter flowing freely
As each narrated their part
In this present moment
We visited the past
While creating the future
Sitting around the table

Like an Avenger?

This morning I knew where I was going. I got lost on my first visit to this destination.  I would not get lost a second time. After all, the first visit was only a week ago. https://pianogirlthoughts.com/2019/07/10/journey-to-somewhere/

I had not expected to be back so soon. It seems a bit surreal. I am not complaining. My doctor leaves nothing to chance when it comes to breast cancer awareness, prevention, and early detection.

Waiting for my name to be called, I witnessed her speaking with a family. Wearing scrubs and hair cap, she must have come from surgery. She approached the waiting family with confidence and kindness.

Observing this scene increases my confidence for today’s adventure.

As a result of last week’s mammogram, I am having a diagnostic mammogram on my left side, possibly followed by an ultrasound. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ve been here before.

Would I rather be somewhere else? Most definitely!

Surprisingly, I feel calm. Prayers from friends and family bring peace. Yesterday there were moments of panic, but those have faded.

A text from my husband. Perfect timing. ❤

He always makes me laugh!

A sweet lady named Carolyn took my initial pics. She was kind, and I appreciated her procedure. During a mammogram, there’s a moment where the technician says, “Ok. Stop breathing and don’t move.”  But Carolyn continued speaking, “only four seconds.”

In those three little words, she acknowledged the pain and offered reassurance. Her voice gave me a focal point.

Back in my room, a text from my mom. 

My mom is using emojis!

More waiting. Will additional pics be required? An ultrasound? Not going to lie, my vote is for no more pics. But if necessary, I will take a deep breath and close my eyes, remembering each lasts only four seconds.

A quick phone call from my friend, Marina.

Carolyn returned with news-no more pics! However, ultrasound has been ordered. So, I wear my flowery Avengers’ cape a little longer. Once the ultrasound is complete, I will happily trade it in for some non-hero street clothes. 😉

All done! Results? The radiologist recommends repeating today’s tests in six months to make sure there is no change. Reports will be sent to my doctor. For now, I wait for her follow up instructions.

Why am I sharing the details of this personal experience? To encourage women to get their regular mammograms. To offer reassurance concerning additional testing. No, it is not fun. Yes, it is uncomfortable and sometimes scary. More importantly, it is life-saving. Early detection is key! 

And thinking of that flowery cape in terms of an Avenger? Well, today it made the whole ordeal a little more bearable. 

What a difference one week and a little humor can make!

Brave Little Firecracker

What does it truly mean to be brave? I’m not sure I’ve had many instances deserving of that description. But the other night I witnessed one.

The scene was a Fourth of July celebration with family. My niece, Bethany, was afraid of the upcoming fireworks. She does not like loud noises. Her sweet sister, Bailey, brought some earphones in her backpack and offered them to help.

Sweet, helpful sister, Bailey. 🙂

As darkness approached, Bethany was getting more anxious. If she had it her way, she would go wait in the car until it was over. This had apparently been her routine in the past.

It is amazing what steady encouragement can accomplish. With a bit of coaxing, Bethany sat between her Nana and Papa, each of them holding a hand. They spoke calmly but with firm assurance. “You can do this.” “It’s ok.” “Look at the pretty colors.”

Their patience paid off. After the first several fireworks lit up the sky, she was watching! Not only watching but also smiling. At first thought, this may not seem to fit the picture of bravery. Not without understanding a little more about Bethany.

Bethany, now twelve, was born prematurely. She weighed 1 lb, 5 1/2 oz and was 12 in long. I will never forget seeing her for the first time. Her tiny foot was smaller than my thumb. She spent many months in the NICU, her future uncertain.

Baby Bethany~so tiny!

Due to a variety of health issues, Bethany has developmental delays. She has learned to read, loves to work puzzles, enjoys playing with friends, and continues to overcome obstacles.

Remembering her tiny beginning brings a different perspective to this question of bravery. Watching fireworks may seem a small thing to most. But for Bethany, it was about overcoming fear. I believe she deserves the title, Brave Little Firecracker!

Fourth of July! ❤️💙

More Waiting

Wednesday did not go as planned. Yes, I had a moment of clarity which encouraged me to be patient and focus on others. My mood improved and I felt prepared to face the rest of the day. At least, I thought I was prepared.

After being in pre-op for more than two hours, my dad was informed his surgery was canceled. Apparently, previous surgeries had taken longer than expected. A new anesthesiology policy would not permit the procedure to begin unless there was a guarantee of being finished by 5:00 P.M. What?!

Although the doctors were sincerely apologetic, I was extremely frustrated. You can imagine how my dad was feeling. I could not simply walk away without advocating him.

I not so quietly reminded them that Dad is 75, diabetic, and had been on a liquid diet for five days in preparation for this surgery. This was not acceptable. The doctors agreed and offered other possibilities, none of which were “best scenario” options.

Returning to the waiting room, I informed the rest of the family. By this time, I was angry. I shot off several texts to friends and family, expressing my frustration. Let’s just say, that patient attitude I had reclaimed earlier-well, it was gone.

Some dinner and quiet provided time to think about the situation. Maybe dad is not supposed to have this procedure right now. Are there other options to pursue? I don’t know. I do know we will do some more waiting. And for now, that is ok.

Waiting provides time for praying, researching, and asking questions. Which hopefully means the waiting will lead to wisdom. Which brings us back to patience.

My sweet dad with his youngest granddaughters. ❤

On a positive note, we were able to enjoy the Fourth of July. A small family cookout and some fireworks at a local park. For that I am thankful.