Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The House On The Hill

Building a house has never been on my "bucket list". We've done our share of construction work in the almost 14 years we've been married - gutted and remodeled a double wide in AR and pretty much did the same to Chris' old shop building to create the 'Shack by the Road' where we live now - but we've never built a house from the ground up. If I had any dream of the place I would choose to live, it would be an old, well established house with a lovely yard full of spreading trees and tangled flower beds begging to be cleaned up and tended to.

Alas, I married a builder. Which is not really such a bad thing after all, it's just that he doesn't share my choice of dwelling. You see, it is so much more economical to buy land and build one's own house. In the first place, land with nothing built on it is cheaper. In the second place, by the time you fix all the things that need to be fixed on an old house and pay the horrific heating and cooling bill, you may as well have built a house exactly the way you liked it in the first place and cut your heating bill in half to boot! And, third, when you can do most of the work yourself, it is definitely the way to go.

He is right, and I know it. But building a house has still never been on my bucket list! All that aside, we ARE building a house, and excitement is beginning to seep in around the edges as the reality of it emerges before our eyes. We will be taking our time, working on it gradually with no pressing deadlines or schedules. Chris is in his element - comparing prices, ordering material, lining up equipment, organizing details - I love to watch him! If things progress as we hope, just maybe this time next year we'll be residing in The House On The Hill!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Whirl of Activity

I'm not sure why I was worried about summer vacation? So far it has been a whirl of activity and there has been no time to even concern myself with Schedules and Plans and Goals! Nobody has gotten bored yet with the blissful ability to run outside and play instead of getting out the door to school on time. Then again, they haven't had much of a chance for that yet!

Last week turned out to be busier than I had thought with one day taken up going to a funeral in PA. We came home, all tired out, and got up the next day to tackle the task of packing up for the 14 hour drive to AR! After two and a half very short, very full days in AR with my dad and siblings, we're rolling back onto Ohio soil as I write.

Blogging hasn't really been on my radar in the midst of the whirl of activity! I think I'll let the feelings and emotions of the past week swirl along their way without attempting to sort them out into tidy rows of letters and words. I will only say this: the first anniversary of Mom's passing and the weekend spent with family have felt a bit like when you have a scab that's nicely healed over but you start picking away at the edges because you just NEED to. As the scab peels back, it hurts and it bleeds a little and you're tempted to put it back and stop pulling. But you find, somewhat to your surprise, that there's a lot of new, pink skin under there.......

I do have some interesting things to share with you come June! I also have a give away brewing once I get some details sorted out.... and I have another week end trip coming up to get ready for and piles of laundry and the usual catching up to do after being gone from home. If the weather cooperates, plans are to start digging the basement for our new house this week! Somehow I don't think there will be any time for boredom around here any time soon...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Enjoy the Day!

It is a lovely day with blue sky and sunshine and fluffy, white clouds! I dropped the two oldest off this morning with their bikes and lawn chairs and food and money to enjoy a last privilege trip with the other school students and teachers. I don't want to imagine how tired and sore they might be the next time I see them, after a several hours long bike trail and a late night!

The younger three and I decided we deserved to do something fun today too, so we went on to the library. Our favorite library here surpasses any other I've ever seen when it comes to being child friendly! They have so many fun toys and such a lovely, bright play area that our children used to remember it and talk about it even when we lived in Arkansas! The library was a big part of Chris' life growing up and the library ladies are pretty much personal friends of the family :) Our children have become acquainted with libraries at a very tender age.

Recently, on a visit to the library, the girls discovered the newest fun toy - the computers for children! Ever since, they've been begging to go back and stay longer to play on the computers, so today's the day :) Mom doesn't get much reading or anything done with a little man who likes to run hither and yon, not to mention helping little girls with computers and the obligatory, library induced, bathroom visits and stinky diaper change! It's fun though, and relaxing. I'm thinking about hogging the doll house all to myself! Doesn't it look like so much fun to play with? :)

Whatever you are doing today, take a moment to enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

School Is Out!

Life is full of irony. We want our children to be healthy and grow, but when they do, we lament that they grew up too fast! We coax and discipline our eaters into eating, and we sigh with exasperation when they're asking for food AGAIN! We cry when we want another baby so desperately, and we cry when we make the startling discovery that we're expecting another one "too soon"! (Or maybe no one else ever had that problem) We look forward, with great anticipation, to a date night with no children in tow, and when they all leave home we'll gaze sadly around at the empty nest! (Or so they say) And, we also do this: in August we write blog posts like this and in May we write posts that are quite the opposite!

I guess my Mom's old saying holds true - "As a rule, man's a fool. When it's hot, he wants it cool. When it's cool, he wants it hot. Always wanting what is not!"

I've been going around for the last couple of weeks with this grey cloud hanging over my head. In big, block letters the cloud read "I JUST DREAD SCHOOL BEING OUT!" The man in the house was very sympathetic and helpful when I explained the reason for the dreary, grey cloud. He listened to me read the big, block letters and then he gave me some very helpful advice. "Just stop dreading it!" I believe was the exact quote.

I can't say that I listened very well. I kinda shoved the whole deal into a corner and set out to enjoy the last days of peace and quiet to the fullest! But, here we are, last day of school. Ready or not here comes the days of bored children and cooking lunch every day and taking everyone along everwhere you go and settling twice as many fusses and cleaning up 4 times as many messes......

Wow. I feel like a really bad mother saying all this. You probably think I have terrible children and wonder if I love them at all?! Really, I don't have terrible children, and I do love them. The problem is this: School imposes a schedule - you have to get out the door at a certain time, you have to pack a certain kind of lunches, you have to pick the children back up at a certain time, the children have certain things to be done after school, you have to get to bed at a decent hour.... No school means No Schedule.

"Oh, that's easy!" you say. "MAKE a schedule!" you say. "Have some goals for the summer." you say. And I nod my head. "Yes, a schedule," nod nod. "Some goals, yes indeed." But, when you're gone I shake my head. "Sure! MAKE a schedule. Have some goals. Go for it. I did that last summer too, right?!" You see, what you don't understand is this: I don't do good with self-imposed schedules. They last for....oh, I don't know, 3 days? A week? And then I start saying, "I don't HAVE to do this! Last night was a late night, today we're not going to do this." And the next day I say, "Oh, big deal. It doesn't really matter if we do this, we're going away this afternoon anyway...." It all goes down hill from there. Til evening, when I look at the wreck of a house and I'm tired and somebody's wanting a snack and somebody else is tattling and another one doesn't know what to do and I hold my head and say, "This is so silly! There is no reason I need to feel like this!"

So, all you wonderful, school-is-out-loving-mothers, what is the answer? Tell me all your helpful tips for summer vacation! Email me, message me, comment to me, call me - I'm all ears!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Morning Sweetness

Hanging out with my littlest man this morning :) He has the cheesiest grins and the sweetest kisses! I wish you could have seen his face when he watched the video of himself (4 times!), he couldn't stop grinning!!

Some mornings breakfast can wait...and the laundry and the dirty floor and the dishes and the to do list..... Ok, I'll be really honest. Too often that stuff waits anyway, and not for a good reason! But that topic is still percolating. For now, I'll grab another cheesy grin and a kiss and then I might think about the work for the day. I'll write on that other subject soon....

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Birthday

Thirteen years ago today, two tiny little feet walked into our lives. Those feet have been leaving footprints on our hearts ever since! It's hard to believe that our oldest is a teenager; what does that make me, I wonder??

Like one older Mother said recently, "I feel like I would be more ready to care for my children now - now I have all this experience!" I welcomed my firstborn with pretty much zero experience. As the youngest in my family, I had never cared for a newborn - never dressed one, never bathed one, never fed or soothed one, hardly ever even changed a diaper!

I look at this man-child who towers over me already and I wonder, how did we get here? How did we muddle our way through terrible nights and sickness and discipline and potty training? How did we manage to get to the place of this tall son who clothes himself and bathes himself and puts his own clothes in the laundry (usually) and pulls his share of the work around the place? Granted, there are just as many places where I hold my head and wonder how did we miss teaching him that???

And now we embark on the next phase of parenthood: the teens. I'm not sure that I'm ready for this! Still, if we could muddle our way from tiny baby to towering 13 year old, with God's help we can carry on through the next phase. And when I watch my oldest deftly washing up that pile of dishes or entertaining his younger siblings or mowing the lawn with expertise my heart swells, and I know that this child is, indeed, growing up!

Happy 13th Isaac! I'm proud to have you call me Mom.

*Please excuse the poor quality, pictures taken from pictures.......

Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day... the day for flowers and chocolate and meals cooked in mom's honor. The day for speeches and praise and saying "I love you". The day for handmade art projects from school to be handed, with shining eyes, to mom. The day for cards and hugs and phone calls and thank yous and gifts.

But I don't have a Mother on this earth anymore.

No longer can I call her and say, "I love you, mom. Happy Mother's Day!" No longer can I pick out a card with just the right message. No longer can I write that heart felt letter, thanking her for all the ways she was so special. No longer can I decide, "this year I'm going to do something special!" Those days are gone for me.

But I have a Mother-in-law.

My Mother-in-law did not get the surprising news that #6 was on the way. She did not carry me for 9 months and birth me into this world. She did, however, get the news of her son's interest of a girl in Arkansas. She did open her heart to that first intrusion into her family. She did accept me and allow me to make her a Mother-in-law for the very first time. And she let me take her son off to the ends of the earth to start a new life of our own.

My Mother-in-law did not give me life. She didn't stay up at night rocking me, she didn't change my messy diapers and nurse me through days of sickness nor wipe away my tears. She did, however, give me her son. She did accept the 'messy' feelings of change and letting go and she's cried with me and laughed with me over the joys and sorrows of marriage.

My Mother-in-law doesn't know all the stories that made up my childhood, all the escapades and the memories and the years of growing up. She has, however, entered into my years of married life and motherhood. She has spent hours chatting with me, doing things with me, making memories galore. She has allowed me space to 'grow up' in my wife and mother role these 14 years.

My Mother-in-law doesn't have grey hair like my mom. She doesn't enjoy quilting and writing and gardening like mom did. She does, however, have a heart of love for us. She enjoys giving and helping and caring about us. She loves nothing better then remembering the treats each grandchild enjoys and having it on hand for them. Her greatest joy is listening for you to let slip something you really need or would like to have and surprising you with it later.

My Mother-in-law does not share my DNA. She does not know my quirks from little up. It was not her hand that I pinched the skin on as a child when I needed love and security. She does, however, share my love for my husband and children. She has accepted me into her heart and home and knows me pretty well. She allows me to share my frustrations and my cares with her - even when it's about her son. :) She has made me feel secure in her love.

And so, today it's Mother's Day, and I don't have a mom on this earth anymore. But I do have someone who calls me "the daughter she never had" and I am privileged to call her Mother-in-law!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dear Mom

Almost I am tempted to not bother with this post, Mom. At the moment, it would be rather easy to let all the feelings and emotions that glide along just under the surface stay right there, under the surface. In many ways it would be easier to leave what isn't disturbed be and pretend that tomorrow is just another day.

One year ago, Mom..... one year ago I had no idea I had heard your voice for the last time. One year since that early morning phone call that froze time in place and sent the world spinning. One year since I stumbled around the house in numb, robot fashion, packing clothes, making phone calls, answering texts, preparing to leave for a trip who's purpose I could hardly begin to wrap my mind around. One year since I hugged family members while the tears streamed, one year since I sat in the cold funeral home and went over the plans, one year since I saw your face for the last time, Mom.

I can't help but wonder what this year would have been like had you been here, Mom. It's impossible to say what all would have been different; what all the same. I have a feeling that grief affected more areas of my life than I have any idea of! That a lot of the aches and pains and hard things this year have been a side effect of a grieving process I hardly even knew was going on sometimes.

I remember my first, numb thought as I tried to grasp the news that morning, a year ago. "I'm so glad she could go so peacefully!" I'm still glad, Mom. I can think of at least half a dozen funerals this past year of people who's passing meant weeks, even months, of pain and suffering and watching helplessly as the life slowly slipped away from a loved one. If there is one thing I've realized this year, it is this: death is painful. It doesn't matter what the circumstances are, for those remaining here in this fallen, broken world, death is hard. There are many different ways for death to claim one's loved one, but there are no 'easier' ways!

I still miss you, Mom. It is impossible to count the many times I have wished to tell you something, ask you something, this past year. How do we take life so for granted? When it is gone, there is no end to the things one wishes one had asked or talked about or done that can now never happen. Sometimes I am still startled by the realization that my youngest children will never know their Grandma Gingerich, and how quickly the memories of my older children will fade! It is sad, but it is life. God never intended for us to live in the past, wallowing in the pain and the 'if onlys' and the sorrow.

Really, there IS an 'easier' and a 'harder' to this thing of death. Life doesn't end here, with the coffin and the grave and the goodbyes and the tears. To know that one's loved one is walking the streets of gold in the presence of God the Father is immeasurably, undoubtledly 'easier'!!

And so, here we are one year later, Mom - May 6, 2015. We're still hurting in places; still stumbling around, finding a new way without a Mother's 'glue' to hold the family together. Life has gone on. Sometimes the ache is deep and the pain sharp; sometimes the joy is real and the memories sweet. Mostly though, I am still here, remembering your words in that last phone call, Mom - "I guess the important thing to remember is that WE know there is a God!" I am as sure as ever that you are right, and I am forever thankful for a mom who taught me what is most important in this life. Because of Him, there is Hope, and life is worth living! Because of Him, I am looking forward to a joyful reunion one of these days!!

Love, Bethany

Monday, May 4, 2015

Cats and Lilacs

I am thrilled to present to you this guest post by the famous Dorcas Smucker of


PS. I'm counting on two things here: 1) That people have read the comments on the previous post and 2) A good sense of humor. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

An Argument With The Writer

"You have to write something," I told myself. "It's been over a week since you wrote and your last posts were pathetic!"

"I can't help it," I argued. "I just can't write right now!"

"Write about the picnic you and Chris went on," I told myself. "You could make a good story out of that!"

"No." I argued. "It's too complicated. I don't feel like going to all the work."

"Write about all the beauty of Spring! All the green and the forsythia and the redbuds and the it makes you think of home..."

"Naaah. Same old surface-y stuff. It'll be obvious I'm empty of words and just making stuff up!"

"Well then, write about the abscence of words and how when dark things are hiding in the back of your mind it's impossible to write..."

"Good grief. No. What is this, a broken record?"

"Ok. Fine. Do what your friend suggested and write about some tips for making your marriage better!"

"Oh please. I hate preachy blog posts. Besides, I tried twice and it just sounds lame. What do I have to say about tips for marriage anyway? Look at the big go around we had this week! And I'm not going into that; no."

"What is your problem anyway??? You've got to write SOMETHING! You hate blogs that go for days and weeks without a new post! Just put some cute kid pictures in and some cute kid quotes and call it good."

"Blah. Don't feel like it."

"You are impossible. You must have some deep, underlying issues that need to be dealt with. Maybe you should consider counseling or something! Have you been taking your vitamins lately?"

"Go AWAY!!!!!"

"But this is seriously dumb. What is your deal???"

"Ok, really? If you must be so nosy and pushy, here's the deal: there's some stuff going on between..... No. I can't really go into that, it's too personal and I don't want to talk about it. Some of it, though, I think is related to that email conversation about my....... No. I can't really write about that either. Not now anyway...."

And there the argument stands, and there it continues to rage. And if it doesn't make any sense to you, and you're still puzzled as to why no new posts are showing up around here lately, that makes two of us.

Kind of.


That's all.