Dear Flowers: I’m sorry.

Nearly every spring since we have had our own home, I’ve attempted to plant some sort of flowering vegetation. This year was no different. I started early. Mid-March. I went scouting for the best looking flowers and gardening deals. I looked at plants, flowers, vegetable plants, bushes, shrubs and even trees. I didn’t buy anything, just looked because it was still too cold at night for anything to survive and look nice in the next day.

Last week I broke down and bought two clay pots. I’d never had one and I dig how they look, and well, they’re a hue of orange. Those who know me know I can’t pass up much of anything in orange. They sat on the front steps for a few days until I could decide what I wanted in them. Off to Pinterest I went “shopping” for plants to fit my full sun, beat-you-down heat on the west side of my house. Shaun kept pestering me to get the flowers because he wanted to help. In the mean time, I enlisted the boys to pick up rocks for the bottom of my pots and I think Shaun had the most fun when we finally got the rocks in the pots and put some dirt on them.

I finally bought some flowers, but the next few days after I got them it looked stormy, so I just kept them on the kitchen table for a few days. Shaun kept wanting to “smell the roses” and checked on them a few times while the were in the house. Last Saturday the flowers finally made it in the pots. Again, I enlisted Shaun for help, letting him decide which color went where. I thought they looked pretty grand. Snapped a pic and put it on social media.

I had a few marigolds left so I found a place for them in my flowerbed near the front door. I’d also been pining to move some iris out of the horse pasture to the front of the house, so I moved a few up there.

Later, I went to check on my flowers… I really shouldn’t have looked. My oh, so helpful dogs had managed to break off nearly all the marigold flowers and the tops of the iris. I was fuming. When I went back in the house I told my husband I wanted a BB-gun for Mother’s Day. “Why?” he asked. “Because I’m going to pelt those dogs when I catch them in the flowers.” He was not impressed.

Yesterday when Shaun and I came home from town and surveyed the flowerbed it was  still looking pretty haggard. Me, hoping a little watering would spruce things up, I went in to change clothes. No sooner than Mom left to head home, she came back in the house and said, “One of your flower pots is knocked over.” I replied, “What? How? It was just fine.” Out I went to survey the damage, and repair it. I put the plants back in the pot and prayed they’d survive. Later while watering with the boys, the older dog of our pair kept going back and forth in front of the house. It was as if we were invading her territory. Once she got too close and I sprayed her with the hose. It kept her out for a while, but it’s not a permanent solution.

So, Dear Flowers, forgive me. I have the best of intentions, and I will do my best to keep you alive. Please bear with my dogs and my boys. They don’t know what they are doing a lot of the time. All I ask is for you to stay alive and look pretty. Sincerely, a well-intended, wanna-be gardener.

One of my pair of clay pots with flowers. This one has stayed upright for nearly a week!

One of my pair of clay pots with flowers. This one has stayed upright for nearly a week!

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It’s the little things

As I was pumping gas the other day I had a thought as I caught a whiff of diesel fuel. I haven’t bought diesel in over a year since we bought an SUV. It made me think of all the things that have changed in my life in the last 5 years.

We’ve lived in our home for nearly 5 years. The yard is not perfect. Neither is my flower beds. I wish daily for a garage. I cringe when they call for hailstorms because I don’t want the vehicles to get trashed. Eventually we will get there.

Shaun’s 4th birthday is in a couple of weeks. I look back on his photos and see how much he has changed. From a 9 pound baby to his rambunctious, drive-his-momma-nuts self that he is now. Seems like yesterday we were going to our last few doctors appointments and preparing for his arrival.

I have a gray jacket I wear a lot of the time. It’s from the last time I got to enter the BBR Finals in Oklahoma City. On days where I don’t feel like myself I can look at the back of it and remind myself that yes, I once was a barrel racer and will be again sometime soon. I still have the horses and even though I don’t get to ride as much as I would like, I will again.

All these little things remind me of how life has changed. Don’t ask me how I like life now, because there are days where I don’t know the answer. Things change, people change, and life never stays the same. But as long as you wake up in the morning and start a new day, it’s better than the alternative!

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You just never know

This morning I’m trying to do some background research for an article I’m working on while trying to work at home with two little boys. I have my moments of peace and quiet (one’s napping and the other is watching his show) where I can get something accomplished. But my brain keeps going other places.

Last week my 37-year-old cousin, Crystal, had what they are thinking was a stroke and a subsequent aneurism following a run. Crystal’s been running for the last couple of years and competes in marathons and 5K’s. (I’m not anywhere near an athlete, so if I have these wrong, forgive me!) Crystal and her husband have to small kids and although we’re not as close as some, I still feel for her. She’s my family.

Growing up, I remember playing in the basement at Grandmother and Grandpa Roy’s farm. Her laugh was contagious and could be heard throughout the space. Last year when I attended another cousin’s wedding, Crystal and I had time to catch up and it was pretty darn good to get to know her again. Although because of Facebook, it feels like we’re still connected because I got to read her posts and see her photos.

Crystal had brain surgery on 4/11 to help fix the aneurism and has been sedated ever since. She’s got a long road to go, and family and friends are standing behind her and praying for her. They’ve also stepped in to help her family.

They’ve created a t-shirt campaign to help with expenses. Find more info here. They’ve also set up a Caring Bridge site with updates on her condition. In addition, a GoFundMe has been set up. And, there’s a Facebook group to follow her progress.

Earlier this week I read a blog post from a friend of Crystal’s and it was beautifully written by one of her runner friends. You can genuinely see the care in his post.

After reading another cousin’s post about Crystal on social media last night, I couldn’t sleep. I was starting to worry. (And I’m a top-notch worrier.) Finally my thoughts slowed down and I prayed. I prayed for the Lord to take care of her and the family. I prayed for the strength and knowledge of her team of doctors and nurses. I prayed for my Aunt Sharon and Crystal’s brothers and their families.

Because of Crystal’s seemingly healthy lifestyle and having this happen to her it makes me question my own genetics and habits. But I do know that you just never know when it’s your time.

#Crystalstrong

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I feel your pain

Recently I read a comment from someone on a blog post. The person said they’d never lost someone close to them. I thought, how is that even possible? They must be incredibly lucky.

I remember from a very young age the loss of family members and friends. I was never lucky enough not to know hurt. To this day, I can’t hear Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art without tearing up. Both were sung/played at great grandparents and grandparent’s funerals among others.

Even when I was a tender 10 years old, I knew what death meant and what it did to people. My grandparents were killed in a car accident in February 1989 and it’s the little things I remember about that day and the days following that still have an impact on me. Grandpa Roy’s glasses folded on the console of the car. Grandmother’s personal effects. It was tough. I felt like I never got to know them.

I have the app Timehop on my phone and on April 3 it showed a photo of my grandparents. I stopped in my tracks and thought about that day with Mom and her sisters. Grandma Wetzel has been gone for 4 years now and never got to meet both of my children. I was pregnant with my first when she passed away. I shared the photo, but didn’t feel like explaining myself.

Just this week there have been deaths effecting both family and friends, while I’d only met one, it’s still sad to hear the passing of people who have had such an effect on others. I never know what to say, and despise the term, “They are in a better place,” or “They are with their maker.” While I know both of those things are true, the person saying them can do more by not saying them (at least to me). I have flashes to the scene in Steel Magnolias after the funeral and Daryl Hannah’s character Annelle told M’Lynn that Shelby is with her Father now. Every time I watch that scene I want to smack Annelle. The best thing I know to say is, “I’m thinking about you.”

My father-in-law has been gone for a couple of years now and I’ve posted about him before, but this year, I couldn’t remember his death again. I didn’t want to. Then, last week my oldest son said out of the blue, “Dad misses his dad.” I said, “I know, I do too.” He continued, “I wish my grandpa that died was still here. I miss him.” Out of the mouth of an almost 4-year-old, and he spoke the truth. I about cried. It’s hard, and it’s even harder when the young ones don’t understand.

Best we can do is remember them, and for me, photos are it.

Carol and Erna Wetzel on their wedding day, June 2, 1948.

Carol and Erna Wetzel on their wedding day, June 2, 1948.

Have a plan

I heard someone say the other day, “If you have money, have more than a plan to spend it.” It stuck with me enough for me to write it down, and now write this blog post.

My husband told our son Sunday that he has two kinds of money, spending money and saving money. Shaun was convinced he could use his “saving” money in his piggy bank to buy himself a bull truck (a semi with a cattle trailer). It was a cute conversation and one that I’m glad my husband handled. He’s much better with saving than I am.

When I was a kid I had a collection of pennies and didn’t really have a savings account. I spent birthday and Christmas money about as fast as I got it. I didn’t get a checking account until I was a senior in high school and heading off to college. (Admittedly I didn’t get a savings account until I was well out of college.) When I was in college I enjoyed life and didn’t have a job besides my school work. I’m glad I had it that way because my grades never suffered.

But, and I’ve written about it before, I’m still paying for that $7 taco from college. I was lucky enough to have a couple of grants and scholarships that helped pay for my tuition, but I did have to take out some school loans to pay for my education and the remainder of my loans is what I lived on. That and credit cards.

I’m only about half way through paying my student loans off and I completely envy my college classmates announcing on social media they’ve paid theirs off. I chose to go out of state and value my education. I do not mind paying every month for my education.

Now, for the first time in six years of marriage, my husband and I got a decent sized tax return. While it’s not enough to pay off our bills, it is enough to get my brain working. I’m dreaming of a garage or a new set of tires on the vehicles and doing appropriate research. Meanwhile, it sits in the bank. I’ve got to have more than a plan on how to spend it.