Instead of working right now - I can't help but gaze at the pictures of Elizabeth as a younger child. The picture on the left is from when she was about 1 1/2 years old. She would eat in her high chair, finish but then want to just sit and relax there. Her head full of hair would rest on the back of the chair while her eyes followed us around the house or relaxed to the images on the television.
The sketch on the right is from when she was about 3 years old. The local elementary school had a great playground and we would walk over at least once a day. But Elizabeth didn't call it the playground or the school - she called it 'The Mall.' I never knew where she gathered that term from, but we all began to refer to this particular playground as The Mall.
The middle picture of her hand is from when she was in 2nd grade and was at work with me for the day. Mr. Craffey told her to put her hand in the copier, and this is the result. From a simple black copier - I have a beautiful rememberance of her little hand.
Know that this WHOLE conversation started because of what I heard on NPR, public radio about a catholic church that had closed and all of the parishners had to attend other churches. Terry Gross (that I LOVE) said, "Going to another church and not your own....was it like having thanksgiving at your best friend's house?"
It was almost like Terry said that to me directly. Get out, I didn't know that she had read my journal.
I grew up having every holiday event and dinner at our home,
573 Campbells Creek Drive Charleston, WV
with just the 5 of us.
Mom, Dad, Carol, Larry and I would eat around a small round table being overly thankful and blessed to have a great meal. This great meal was welcomed for several reasons:
1. We often got to share a bottle of pop. All three of us kids would split one RC cola. That was a HUGE treat.
2. Mom would always take a picture with Dad in the picture. Did anyone think to take it of her?
No, we weren't very thoughtful.
3. By fixing dinner at our house each holiday, we would then have yummy leftovers for days.
4. I learned that we are to nurture within first, then would have the abiltity to nurture others.
After this small family dinner (or lunch) we would go to an extended family member's house, usually our Mama Carte's house. There everyone in the family would gather and eat. The women all worked hard to fix the dinner - and guess who got to eat first???
Yes, that's right, the MEN. ALWAYS. ATE. FIRST.
Then the women and children would sit around the table for hours talking while the children snacked then played, then snacked and played, all the while the women continued to chat.
Then we would all go home tired and full.
We were full of physical sustance, but mostly we were full of family love and time together.
As a grown up, things have changed. How did this happen?
Many things have contributed to this change for the holidays. I moved away as an 18 year old - to not return until I had my own family and was 30 years old. But returning home, I got the idea right away that I did not know how to cook, so I was discouraged from ever bringing anything to the family table.
So, for about 8 years, I went to Mom's house and never contributed to the family meal.
Instead, we brought fun and Elizabeth!
Fast forward to 4 years ago - it was just Elizabeth and I. Mom and Carol had moved on to their own new families, so no more family dinners. It felt that my whole life I only wanted to have a warm family for the holiday. So, by meeting Nate - I quickly realized that he was my ticket to a big family holiday dinner.
I could not ask for a more welcoming family to bring us into the fold. In addition to this family - Missy's family also took in the two homeless family members. We still frequent her family for the feeling that fun, family feel while working around Nate's family of food and love.
Some of my favorite times with the family is when we clean up in the kitchen with just the women present.
Yet... it still feels like we are having dinner at our best friend's house.
I have recently made the executive decision to ALWAYS cook first before going anywhere.
My daughter will get the treat of having just us first, then our best friends dinner. There is not one part of Nate or Missy's families that make us feel any less than family - yet, yet, yet - I think E needs to have the security and small family feeling of just having me or us. Before breaking bread with anyone else.
We first share the holiday together.
Then we are better people to share the holiday with.
We will be even more grounded - because we nurture within so that we have more to share.
From this picture I miss... jake being 2 years old, my blackberry laying on the counter, eating funions with the kids, nate making crazy animal shapes from balloons, eating icing until my mouth turns blue, sprinkles that last till the last cookie is eaten.
Anyone that knows me well, hears me say, "Jackpot' frequently. It can be something of little importance (ie, "Jackpot, I got a close parking spot" or "Jackpot, I have an extra soda in the little fridge at work." ) to the more important topics, (ie, "Jackpot, Nate is moving to another base in 17 days!" or "Jackpot, Missy is coming to St. Smellbans for a quick visit.")
So... here's my list of recent "Jackpot!"
- Jackpot, I think I have hit the morning newspaper jackpot. Our new St. Albans paper carrier actually comes onto the front porch and places it right in front of my door. That is amazing and deserves a Jackpot with a capital J. I actually have a difficult time opening the front door sometimes because the newspaper is so close to my door. Yeah, I know - its a jackpot with complications.
-Jackpot, My neighbor, Rebecca is a fun and sweet. She aint no Kathi Reed, but still an amazing jackpot that makes me like St. Smellbans much more than before.
- Jackpot, I am raisin' an amazin' daughter. Just earlier in the day, I bought some spray tanner for my white, white legs. Later that evening while playing badaminton - I asked E if she wanted me to spray her legs. She said yes, "With OFF bug spray right?" I said "No the self tanner," and she was appalled that I would even think she would want that. Jackpot, she is so grounded (unlike her mother).
-Jackpot, Nate has this eyebrow thing that makes him move his eyebrows with each thought for emphasis or question. It is adorable and hilarious. Its a jackpot and it makes him more adorable!
- Jackpot, I painted the porch AND deck before it started to rain.
-Jackpot, that the boys still had some White Wheat break left, and it would surely go bad before they are back to eat it... so I have to eat it! Carb Jackpot!
- Jackpot in a BIG way, E and I are going to CHICAGO in ONE week. But to make the jackpot even sweeter, CATS, the touring BROADWAY show will be there The. Week. We. Are. There. Get out- Jackpot is bursting.
-Jackpot, my friend Karen H in North Carolina emailed me about a week ago and said that she occasionally would drop in to this blog to see what was going on with our fam. Oops , I hadn't written anything in months, so that little email from a good friend got me back on the Bloggin Wagon! Jackpot for good friends that care!
- An unspoken jackpot has come into my life, will post in an entire blog post itself, but trying to gather a few good picts before I share, its that big. Jackpots can be whispered under your breath so that no one even has to know how your heart is bursting from a secret jackpot.
- Jackpot for summer time. I have one particular spot that I write from, and through the winter I could see a Go Mart station in the distance.... Now instead, I look through the beautiful blooms of a lilac bush to a mightly oak tree that is full of healthy life. Ahhh, that is a Jackpot.
- Jackpot that E and I both like bean burgers and corn on the cob for dinner. I fixed her dinner on Saturday evening and she fixed me Cindy's recipe of stirfry mushrooms and zucchini on Friday evening! Yum for two gals that like to still eat dinner together over from beans and veggies.
- Jackpot, Nate got to FACETIME with me while I had Jake home sick from school. So Jake comes up and snuggles on my lap and reads the whole time I am talking to Nate. Couldn't have been a sweeter and happier Jackpot for Dad and Son right then.
Define blended: (verb)Mix different types of the same substance together so as to make a product of the desired quality.
I am constantly seeking to understand the term "blended family" as it relates to us. By definition,we are each different but of the same substance, I get that all too clearly as we bend and mold because of how different we are at times.All five of us have our own history, our own thoughts, feelings, and ways of communicating with the world around us. Yet, we all seek to make a product of desired quality. We are aiming to create that family for love and kindness that will forever nurture us through the good times and rough patches. Our desired product isn't to just make it through the day, instead we are aiming for a desired quality. What are our family goals that are a quality to sustain us? kindness to one another, sharing all that we have, laughter and giggles, overlooking annoyances, time together, and the deep secure feeling that we are in this for the long haul. Blended is allowing us each to remain as an individiual body and spirit - yet to create something even more beautiful together. The whole is greater than the parts.