I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont...

I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, good vs. bad thinking, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont... read more here
Autumn and my family tree.

Autumn and my family tree.

My mother was one of 14 children.  There were 5 girls and 7 boys plus one boy and one girl that died as infants.  I have cousins upon cousins upon cousins.  I was counting them last weekend at my brother’s wedding with one of those cousins and we came up with 47 though I’m not sure we got that number right.  I am one of the youngest (there are 4 younger than me).

In my early years coming from a big family for me meant uncles around every corner teasing me playfully asking if they were my favorite and when I told them yes, the next uncle asking me the same (of course I said yes to him too).  It meant lots of love to go around and loud parties with fun loving aunts and uncles and lots and lots of older cousins to look up to or feel shy around.  It meant not really knowing some of my cousins.

I loved to listen to my parents and aunts and uncles talk, especially when they forgot I was there.  It seemed in those years that all my cousins had a cousin just their age to hang out with, except me.  I often stuck close to my mom and visited with the adults instead.  Costume parties, 4th of July parties, camping, being from a big family meant built in community.

Aside from the fun, coming from a big family has also meant an inescapable experience with death.  Aunts, Uncles, my nana, my mother, more Aunts, and Uncles… and this month my cousin Steven and my Uncle John…

I’ve been silent about it really.  I just haven’t known what to say.  All around me here in Vermont it is bursting with autumn, trees decked out in brilliant oranges, yellows and reds -pure celebration.  The trees will soon look like sticks and we will still be here and my cousin and uncle are somewhere new.

I remember Uncle John’s kindness and how he could talk backwards, yes backwards just as well as when he talked forwards, and how he visited me in my first apartment shortly after my mother died.  He shared stories of my mom when she was a little girl.  It was such a balm for my soul hearing those stories and seeing through them how much he loved his baby sister and her daughter.

And I am so very thankful for the one good conversation I ever had with cousin Steven last year at our “cousins party” (thank you Mark and Kristen for hosting that).  Steven was a good amount older than me and I didn’t see him much through the years, I always remembered how very very tall he was, but more importantly that he had a kind smile.

It’s harder now to make it to funerals with a big family of my own and not living around the corner anymore.  But my heart will always be with my aunts and uncles and cousins upon cousins, they are as brilliant as these fall colors in my memory and in my heart.

Till we meet again Uncle John, cousin Steven, Aunt Jackie, Mom, Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Leo, Uncle Bill, Uncle Fred, Uncle Buddy, Aunt Martha, Aunt Bea and Uncle Stan, Nana, and all the family who died before I was born.  What a party there must be in heaven today!

Thank you God for placing me in this big loving family tree, where neither distance nor death can still the love we share.

With love from Vermont…




Running Toward Happiness

Running Toward Happiness

Running is fast becoming a “thing” in our family this year.  After years and years I have started running again and what used to be something very solitary for me has become something quite different as my four oldest sons begin running too.

So as summer has hit, most mornings I am out with at least a few of the boys while one or two of the older boys keep watch over the little ones as they sleep.  What a change from my norm of stroller walks!  I laugh at life and its twists and turns as I realize it only took fourteen years to get to this point.  Running with my sons is such a pure joy it is truly beyond words.

And that makes me think of happiness and how elusive it can be.  As a twenty something, before children and before I met my husband Kevin, happiness and finding myself was my goal.  Each second counted, was I happy in this moment?  What things could I do/what experiences/job/activities/deep thoughts brought me to that place of happy?  I analyzed my life, stepped out brazenly into new experiences, wrote poetry about it, and reflected, reflected, reflected.  Happiness was supposed to happen now, fast, in the moment.

It wasn’t till I got “elbow deep into the muck of the world” and life was no longer all about me that I started actually getting somewhere.  Children have a natural way of ripping off that self involved band-aid.  As a new mom life was painful.  I was just surviving, with twinklings of exhausted joy mixed in.

But motherhood has taught me to put one foot in front of the other literally.  My happiness is of the fourteen year variety.  Fourteen years of letting go of everything I thought I wanted to be to one day (during vacation at my dad’s last week) go running on the beach surrounded by sons I never imagined, singing the theme to Chariots of Fire, the movie we had watched as a family the month before.  -It was pure bliss.

And from that moment of bliss, it is back again to one foot in front of the other.

After our run this morning I sat perched in my upstairs bedroom listening to loud decisively angry yelling break the early morning quiet and then screams of pain.  At first I am irritated that the two boys I ran with this morning may wake the little ones who are still asleep, but I tamp down the irritation, say a little prayer to remain calm and head downstairs to check on everyone and help parse this trouble.  Thankfully instead of yelling about how they were impeding upon my time and their other brothers sleep (what I really wanted to do), I send the offending kicker out to take care of the recycling and I bring the yeller upstairs to talk.  We say a decade of the rosary together, I feel the grace of Jesus through praying with Mary calm him, and give me peace.  Afterwards we talk about what happened and what he could have done to have helped diffuse the situation. He  apologizes to his brother (who had already quickly apologized for the kick moments after it happened) and we move on.

I didn’t lose my temper, I gave my sons what they needed.  I wasn’t selfish.

My husband is working on the cleaning crew at our local elementary school for the summer.  Up at 5:30 this morning and a little grumpy after I barrage him with too many questions for his foggy morning brain to handle he works steadily to get himself out the door.  My “go to” in this sort of situation is to get irritated by his grumpiness, continually convince him with my words that he shouldn’t be grumpy, and then slowly let self righteousness creep in and without consciously meaning to, lead us into an argument.  Instead, this morning, by the grace of God, I let go of how his grumpiness affects me and instead of bringing on a fight, offer to make him some coffee, even though I really don’t feel like doing it.  When it is time for him to go I give him a kiss, from my heart thank him for going to work for us, and wish him a great day.

This is not how I thought happiness would look, small moments of overcoming my selfishness, and bliss when I least expect it.

I am finding contentment in the soft clap clapping of foot in front of foot in front of foot on this old rocky road of life that we are all called to travel.  It’s humbling this sort of running that isn’t so much about winning and catching happiness in all its immediate fruit as it is about slowing down when I’m winded, sprinting when I can, even walking when necessary, but always moving steadily and faithfully forward to the finish line.

Love to you all from the dusty back roads of Vermont,




Little Spiders and Paying a Call…

It is spring and our kids schedules seem to be in overdrive.  I can’t even think more than 7 days into our calendar without feeling anxiety, so for better or worse, I am just going day to day to day and moment to moment. Even within all this busy Jesus has been calling me.  PassingContinue Reading

We are Easter People.

We are Easter People.

We have just arrived home from our Easter celebration in Massachusetts with my family.  The boys are all neatly tucked into bed and Kevin is out harvesting sap from our maple trees as our buckets are overflowing from two days of sap runs in our absence. Lent ended last week.  It is that time ofContinue Reading

That Sweet Vermont Season

That Sweet Vermont Season

We’ve been prepping all week for a run.  Those cold nights and warm days that wake the sleeping sap from roots to limbs.  Drilling holes, tapping trees, cleaning out holding barrels.  Today was the day, the sap ran and ran.  It’s been 8 years of Sugaring seasons for me now. I’ve been going through myContinue Reading

Obladi Olbada Mr. G Turns Three!

Obladi Olbada Mr. G Turns Three!

Tumbling around on the floor this morning enjoying life and one another, I’m like a mother lion with her cubs.  ~G and ~P jockey for space on my tummy for bounces and snuggles.  “Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra” sings out from my Pandora “Raffi” station and I can’t help but think: “It sure does…”Continue Reading

Play dough and Being Made

Play dough and Being Made

There are just two of us today in our twelve passenger van making the 5 minute drive to preschool.  At 8:20am it is already a day busy with an agenda ready to sweep me away.  Hidden two rows back safely buckled into his car seat I hear my 4 year old ask in a wayContinue Reading

7 Quick Takes:  It’s Autumn in Vermont Edition

7 Quick Takes: It’s Autumn in Vermont Edition

Here’s my 7 Quick Takes on what’s been going on around here lately… 1 — Fall kind of slid right by no matter how hard I pulled at it’s coat tails begging it to stay!  I did manage to take a few photos before the splendor fades into the winter…     2 — ~PContinue Reading

Walking On Water

I wrote this post around this time last year and never posted it, I found it today and it seems so appropriate to my “right now”, that I thought I would finally share it in case it resonates with anyone else. It dawned on me tonight what Peter actually did on that boat when he focusedContinue Reading

Learning to Fly…

Learning to Fly…

One of my sons asked me a few years ago what would I choose (if I had the opportunity to be gifted with a super power) Flying or Invisibility?  Without thinking I immediately chose flying.  The son who asked me chose invisibility and went on to state his elaborate case for his choice.  But hisContinue Reading

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