Monday, November 22, 2010


I woke up in heaven. The clock read 7:21 instead of 6:04 (we are on Thanksgiving break!). No alarm went off. The kids had slept in and the girls had just come to snuggle in my bed. They were whispering “I love you’s” to each other. And to top it off - rain was tapping on my window. Followed by a flash of lightening and a roll of thunder. Happiness, peace, love. Can’t get better than this. (okay, it could have - Jer could have had the day off too.)
I don’t remember the first time I realized that I loved rain storms this much. I think I was scared of them as a small child. Check with my Mom on that one. What I do know is that I became intensely aware of their power when we lived in PNG in the early 90s. I was eleven or twelve and we had come to the realization that the country we had been sent to as missionaries had changed significantly in the past eight years into a country wrought with civil unrest, drunkenness, violence - particularly toward women. I heard stories of it every day at school. Thankfully PNG is a rainforest nation so I could count on the tropical downpours to lull me to sleep. I felt safer, as though God himself was wrapping me in His almighty hands to bring me safe through the night. We had corrugated tin roofs which made the pitter patter of raindrops more like a crashing drumming sound. It was delightful. Knowing that there was something bigger than me, and He was taking care of things so I could sleep.

When it rained during the day, we would hug our books to our chests and run between classroom buildings, exhilarated by the feel of raindrops splashing on our faces and not even thinking of wanting to keep the rain off of us. It was a good 90 degrees every day so the daytime rains were always welcome. Even when it meant soaking wet shoes that squished with each step for the rest of the day. I loved seeing the white spider flowers after the rain, the delicate drip of water on the tips of their petals. Some days we would huddle closer to the center of the common area while we ate lunch because the water was splashing heavily around the sides. (our lunch area was the concrete slab under a raised building, no walls needed)

Later, in high school (a boarding school in Australia) we did not get as much rain, but of all of Australia, Brisbane is one of the rainier places. We again had the metal roofs, so if I had a room on the second floor I could hear the sound I loved at night (that and the occasional possum falling out of the tree and screeching!). When it rained on the weekends it was like God had pressed ‘pause’ and people would stay indoors and just hang out playing games and watching movies and maybe (maybe) doing homework together as the sisters we had become. We would run out the back to the tuck shop in the next dorm to buy a handful of candy to share. Maybe a microwaved pizza for lunch. Or a bowl of ramen noodles, made with hot water from the bathroom. Rainy days were together times. Of course if it rained on a school day, we were in trouble in our white uniform dresses!

In college, at St. Olaf in Northfield MN, I recall a heavy rainfall early in my freshman year. We put on our oldest clothes and ran to the soccer field that had rain gushing down the corners, forming giant waterslides/mudslides which we took to on our backsides. Good thing we were not returning to our mothers’ bathrooms to wash off! People came together in the spirit of fun. Unbounded joy. No holding back, did not matter if you knew anyone or what you looked like, we were just there to have fun. (in the winter we would take cafeteria trays to sled down the same hills)

My favorite places are those that I associate with rain - New Zealand, The Northwestern US, the East Coast to name a few. Some days I’d love nothing more than to be in one of these places with the family, sitting at a coffee shop outside where the rain splashes on a metal roof above us and we can soak up that much needed moisture while sipping our tea or hot chocolate and talking about what to do next.

Now as a grown-up (am I?), I still love storms. I love the light mist that we had yesterday as we walked to the library, gently tickling my face and soothing dry skin. Such a refreshing feeling! I love the heavy rains that keep us inside as a family playing games or snuggling together to watch a movie. Baking. That big pause button gets hit and we can do things we might otherwise have justified not doing because we were too busy. We don’t get enough storms here. Or have not lately at least. Even as I finish writing this, the clouds are clearing and I can see blue sky.

I was not ready for the blue sky yet this morning. We are still in our jammies, needing breakfast and needing to clean. While the rain lasted we could justify just laying here and watching shows together but alas now we must get up and get going.

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Sickness and in Health

I lied. I so totally and utterly lied. I am not a good wife when my husband is sick. I’ll take the health but to be completely honest, I am not good with the sickness part of marriage.

Hubby emailed earlier today to tell me that he thought he was coming down with a cold. Nothing else. No greeting, just that. “I think I am getting a cold.” I should not have been surprised then, when he walked through the door coughing, sputtering, sniffling and doing this little whine/moan thing he does when he wants sympathy and to be let off the hook from all responsibility. I’ll admit it - I was feeling hostile. I had been scouring the house from top to bottom with my sidekick in tow all day. Took her to her tumbling class and then on a quick errand to pick up a few things for my eldest’s birthday party that is five days away. Oh, and getting ready to teach from home tonight, making dinner, taking the kids to the playground and cleaning up after dinner. Now I’m not saying that I don’t think he worked hard all day, of course he did. But his day ends when he walks through the door moaning and I guarantee that before the oldest two are asleep, he will be out. And I will be wrapping up class and cleaning up, getting things squared away for the morning and finishing up a few other household chores that need to be done.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband dearly. He is a wonderful father, amazingly supportive and kind and, well, everything good a husband should be and I know that he puts up with more than his fair share of my own faults (should I be hoping that he never blogs about me?). I am no saint. I’ll give him that. But why is it that men feel they have the right to become an extra child in the house when they are sick and yet if I were to be ill, I would still be doing everything that needed to be done for everyone else in this house. There was the time that I was incredibly sick with strep last year when I did have a few days ‘off’ (I still had to get the kids ready and out the door as I was barely able to stand and was running to the bathroom to hurl and desperately trying to reach him on his cell phone - oh and I was still breastfeeding the youngest). Or maybe I don’t cut myself slack?

It has been interesting to me now that I am aware of this fault of mine, my inability to show true sympathy to my husband when he is sick, to monitor myself and my responses to him. Like when he stood up from the dinner table and asked if I wanted him to help clean up (hey, he asked and I DO give him credit for that!) but knowing full-well that he was only phrasing his statement of “I’m heading up to bed now” into a question to make it sound better. Of course part of me wanted to snap a come-back about feeling over-burdened. But I was good, I said "no, you go upstairs, I’ve got this.” I am aware that my reactions are negative and counter-productive so I am working on being more kind. I am trying.

Still, I hear the gross man-cold sounds coming from upstairs and I shudder. I have to ask myself why is it that someone else being sick is so irksome to me? Maybe because it does not fit my pretty picture of how I want life to be? Is it because I have perfectionist tendencies and anything that falls outside of perfection is just not cool with me.

I do tend to try to deny my kids’ ailments, I like to assume that there really is not anything wrong with them, at least nothing bad. “It’s just nerves, you don’t have a tummy ache” (followed by child puking on me as if to prove their point) “it is just a little baby sniffles” (followed by baby hospitalized with RSV) “oh, you’ll be fine, just shake it off” (okay, this one I have thankfully been right about so far, knock on wood!). I have been really lucky that my kids just do not get sick much at all. Luck, genetics, healthy eating, hand washing, a combination perhaps.

I do believe that to a degree it is a control issue for me. Nerves we can work on with some breathing. Boo boos I can kiss better. Most things that reach beyond this make me feel out of control. If a kid were sick enough to stay home from school, it would throw the whole day into chaos. I don’t dare imagine worse scenarios.

A husband who is always there helping clean up and folding laundry and helping with bedtime and piano practice and who is now coughing and stuffy and moaning in head-cold agony leaves me feeling like the world is up-ended. My helpmate is temporarily out of service and I don’t function as well without him.

I do get the feeling that I am not the only Mom/Wife out there who tend to feel more angst that sympathy for her husband when he is ill. Knowing that I am not alone (I hope?!) in this helps me to a degree but also knowing that I am aware of my not-so-sympathetic tendencies and trying to be intentional about changing this will hopefully make me a better wife. Because he does deserve that. After all, I need to stop making a liar of myself. I promised.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness

Those of you who follow my Facebook postings know that I have not jumped on the 30 Days of Thankfulness bandwagon. I am not ungrateful, just busy. So here is what I am thankful for:

1 - My Beautiful, Amazingly brilliant, and wonderfully kind Daughter Hannah
2 - My Handsome, Whiz-kid, and supremely gentle Son Eli
3 - My Sweet, Silly, Gorgeous, Cuddly Baby Girl Evie Jane
4 - My Loving, (Tolerant), Patient, Wickedly Smart, Super-Dad Husband Jeremy
5 - My Strong and amazingly talented sister Kara
6 - My Thoughtful and funny brother Eric
7 - My Big sister Linnea whose presence in my life is missed.
8 - My Mama who gave it her all to make me who I am.
9 - My Daddy who’s tears I saw as the plane took off, bringing me back to boarding school years ago.
10 - All of my Grandparents who must have done something right and who led fascinating lives.
11 - My in-Laws who are generous and always ready to spend time with the kids.
12 - My wonderful Aunt Karen, Godmother supreme, talented, caring and thoughtful.
13 - My Uncle Dan who shares my political views and humor.
14 - My Uncle David and Aunt Shirley who are fun to be around (yes, I remember dancing to Pretty Woman in your car!)
15 - My Uncles Noel, Nathan, Byron, Rocky - all amazing people that I wish I saw more!
16 - My Aunts Sylvelin and Gloria - ditto!
17 - My 19 cousins - all of whom I feel like I just have not had the chance to hang out with enough.
18 - My Paschke family Grandmas, Aunts and Uncle and Cousins, brothers and sisters-in law - all truly wonderful people that I love dearly.
19 - Every teacher I have ever had. Some taught me what to be and others taught me what not to be, all valuable lessons.
20 - My friends, near and far, old and new - you know who you are (yes, Mom, they are all my friends!)!
21 - My home. It is easy to forget what a treasure it is when dealing with cracked doors and bursting pipes, but I am truly fortunate.
22 - My neighborhood - (you guys got counted twice!) some have referred to it as Mayberry. It may just well be.
23 - The GORGEOUS weather we have had this week. LOVE it.
24 - The many strong women who have come to my classes seeking to have a natural birth.
25 - Chai. ‘nough said.
26 - Photographs old ones and new ones
27 - My health.
28 - Having had an adventurous childhood. (okay, sometimes I am not so thankful for this)
29 - Smells - the ocean, cinnamon, frangipanis, ginger, clean babies, pineapple, chai
30 - the forgiveness of anyone who was unintentionally left off of my list. I love you all and am always reminded of how wonderful my life is because of the people in it. Yes, chai is nice, but you are nicer!