Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall at High Noon

It is noon and it is fall.

I have already showered, fed the baby, assembled my cleaning supplies for something I'll tell you about in a minute, washed a load of towels, welcomed my husband home, cleaned up a huge mess made when a quart jar of tomatoes broke and splattered on the floor, bathed the individual responsible for said crash, cleaned the bathroom, mopped the floors, got an old clock out of the car which had been there since yesterday after being picked up from the repair shop, oh, and made sure other pantry jars are secure as a prevention measure. It is only noon, and I am slowing down.

What is it called when you volunteer to do something as a service, but with a self serving ulterior motive?

In our church, members take turns cleaning the building via a sign-up sheet, where one can take a two week turn at cleaning. Once a year we all come together and do a thorough window washing and whatever else needs to be done, but the year round housekeeping works through the sign up sheet with most signers committing to a month. It was very over-due for my turn, but it wasn't the guilt that got the pen in my hand. It was the smell.

For a very long time I've been noticing a certain stale smell that hangs in the sanctuary and clings to our clothes long after we're home. The Mister can't smell it, but I can, and I plan to eradicate it with the aforementioed cleaning kit which contains numerous odor reducing products. My idea of opening some windows once in a while has never caught on, so now I have to launch chemical warfare. While pumpkin festivals abound, this is what my fall afternoon looks like.

It is an autumn noon, and yet it is eighty degrees. I am sweating in my denim skirt and cotton top, getting ready to meet a friend and her children at the park. I love afternoons at the park, and always keep one eye on the ground for natural things I can show Duckling, things to make his eyes widen and enlarge his world. Things that are not acorns, which he puts in his mouth.Whatever corn is still standing is brown and the bean fields are yellow. I hear thuds from the black walnut tree losing its fruit. The changeable sign at the farmers market has one word on it: Apples.

It is an autumn noon. 

Natural thing found at the park.

As an aside...Last week I shared my abundance of outgrown baby clothes and a few other new and unused items with our local pregnancy crisis center. It's a double win since they are out of our space while hopefully benefiting a baby in need. This past year my heart has expanded in new ways for moms and babies, and pregnancy centers like the one mentioned here do a wonderful service to unborn babies and mothers with few options. Now that yard sale season is over, maybe you will consider donating any gently used baby items to centers like these.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's the Little Things

You can thank that little cool snap in the air for keeping me away from blogging. That hint of crispness that makes everyone all moon-eyed over autumn leaves and apple desserts? It terrifies those of us with home improvement efforts underway. It's like receiving a warning notice tacked to your door that tells you the end is near, and pack it up before things get really cold. While everyone else is thinking pumpkins and mums, we're watching the clock.

As you know, I've been fairly open about the struggles of having a fussy baby. But I'm not too sure I have shared some of the triumphs. They do happen, and when they occur you breathe a prayer of thanks and slide down the rainbow singing the praises of another milestone reached. It's like getting a coupon doubled on a clearance item. You want to tell people about it, but you don't want them to think you're some nut who gets ecstatic over something so menial. Something that other babies seem to do naturally, effortlessly.

Since Duckling joined us, church has become an exercise on par with an event of Olympic proportions, a constantly failing game of part chance, part skill, with a whole lot of crying. Things were so bad that I often couldn't go to church, or would only go if it was an easy service with no potluck, special programs, or anything else that would make the church service one minute longer than it had to be for the sake of my little screamer.

If you don't get them to sit still in church by the age of two, they'll never sit still. 
                                                                 -oft repeated lyrics to a song of sorts that I grew up hearing.

We cautiously persevered, as months wore on monitoring signs of maturity and changes in behavior. Finally, one recent Sunday, we experienced victory. We arrived before the service, and for once the inquisitive faces appearing before us seeking a peek of the baby did not cause a storm. The clouds parted and no thunder crashed during the singing. And while there was one trip to the nursery during the sermon, there was no massive protest of unknown origin. My baby was doing it. He was sitting through church. I knew we were in the clear when I heard him vocalizing along to the final song, Oh! To Be Like Thee.

Three days later, I got word that my friend's mother died suddenly, and I would need to haul the Duckling solo to what was bound to be a large and long funeral service. Dare I wish for a repeat performance? 

As I stood in line to enter the church, all I could think was Oh please let the usher seat us in the back near the door. Then he escorted us to a conspicuous outpost which was like being seated in the balcony at a stadium. A few other babies soon followed, and pretty soon the babies were all staring at one another trying to communicate in baby talk, and we were all very far from the nursery. One woman clamped her hand over her baby's mouth, but I couldn't do that. After the initial singing, I headed for the nursery.

Yet again, there was a moment of grace and it happened during the singing. As hundreds of people raised their voices song, so did Duckling, with one long harmonizing note. Not loud, or disruptive, or perfect. Just a sweet low key attempt at making a joyful noise. I had to smile as I drove home and passed this sign...

Because sometimes, it really is the little things.


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