Friday, June 23, 2017

Wash and Dry

The great thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go God’s love for us does not. -C.S. Lewis

The water pressure was going so low that if someone ran water at the kitchen sink, anyone in the shower immediately experienced a very cold drizzle. I logically know it is such things are temporary inconveniences but in my present emotional state, logic is being over powered by the emotional need for stability. I mentioned that I thought the water filters needed changing before my husband left to work out of state, because I knew he planned to fly from there to Florida. He simply said the water pressure is always lower in the summer, which did not sit well with me. I have lived here for twenty years and am home far more than he, so I think I know the difference, but he came home Monday and had the opportunity to experience a personal shower demonstration—and perhaps there is a reason that "demon" is in that word.

The water filters were replaced on Tuesday.

Speaking of washing, everyone pitches in on laundry here, but mostly everyone does their own unless it is convenient to add similar colors found in the hamper. I was going to do my wash on Wednesday, but I have the bed sheets to change and then Thursday, but my husband started his own load. So I thought later that day or Friday, but as things go here for me lately, the dryer began to make a horrible noise as my husband's laundry was finishing up. He took apart the dryer to find that one of the drum rollers had a bad bearing so I ordered the drum roller online with overnight shipping.

Now I have to say here that I have been under stress for a long while now, second guessing, and triple checking everything, worried about missing something with handling the affairs of two houses and nursing home care that requires two separate bank accounts for the Queen Mother that have to be handled in very specific and different ways. And I was handling it pretty well, was being the operative word. This week I found that I had become pretty frayed at all the seams. My husband too, but his only added to mine becoming more unraveled. I write this so that you might understand that what happened was probably inevitable.

I ordered the right parts but I typed in my zip code wrong, transposing two numbers...something I would never do unless I am in the emotional state I am in (that I tried to convince myself I am not in). So our overnight package did not make it today as it should have...and will not possibly make it this weekend.

Then...I did what any woman frayed at the seams and unraveling would do realizing that she just added more unnecessary stress to her present state, I cried! Yes, I am there at that place, breaking down over things that are just largely the small bumps in the road of life and again taking higher dosages of Valerian.

My Lord, remind me that the shifting sands do not move the solid rock. Be my foundation for everything.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Small Moves

The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time." –Abraham Lincoln

Since we began taking over handling everything for the Queen Mother, my husband keeps saying that we are making "small moves," because if we look at all that must be done, it is just too overwhelming. So, we just keep making small moves that will eventually work down the overwhelming, but as I see it, it will never really be done. Some things will be in the short term, like the estate sale and the selling of the house, but that only changes other aspects that are long term. It is always the long term that wears me down.

We all three finally sat down and thought out room-by-room of our own house what we are keeping and what we are taking to Florida to add to the estate sale. To make most of the those decisions, we first had to decide on one in particular: What to do with one room in the house that really is not used, the guest room!

It has been my idea to move the Princess' daybed and trundle into the guest room, after it have been redone in a compromise of her taste and my rules, which include not painting the walls black, but I approve of black accents. That way she would still have the nightstand that she herself bought and her lamp. This would give her the most floor space so that she could use the trundle when one of her girl friends stay over and still be able to walk around the room, because they have to walk on the trundle to get to the door in her present bedroom. However, that would mean that we sell or store the guest room furniture.

My husband's idea was that she just use the guest room furniture and leave it as it is decorated already (although I still need to paint the window and match the faux paint pattern round the window—actually I need to paint all the trim as it is way too white for the decor and so there is that coming up). Right now, my guest room has a light peachy pink faux paint pattern with a wall paper border up by the ceiling. I also have two framed cross stitch artworks that I did some years ago of angels. So, it has a roses and angels kind of theme with a country flavored honey oak four poster bed and matching nightstand and mirrored dresser. (We have a matching wardrobe that will not fit in the room that we used in the nursery because it matched the crib and still have in the Princess' room today, but it may be going downstairs.) When I decorated the room, I wanted it to have a bed and breakfast feel even though the room was too small to really pull that off.

So, our conundrum is that that we now have the Queen Mother's furniture to consider and that means we have an additional queen and full size sleep number mattresses that we would like to keep as they are so expensive and so comfortable—we have a queen one for some years ourselves and we bought the full size to be in the Queen Mother's guest room because the extra firm mattress would have us in terrible pain by the third night. We have thought and talked about several scenarios, because we really do not want to sell our guest room furniture but we don't want to try to store it either.

The guest room is definitely not to the Princess' taste but she did say that it all looks nicely put together, so maybe she can stand it for "just two years," as she puts it, because she has some grand idea that she will not be here soon after she turns 18, but Mama is thinking a bit differently since I am hoping we move. (I am thinking that she is coming back to "being a girl," like when she used to dress for dinner, even though she would not admit it to us yet.) So, we decided that she will get the full size mattress to the replace the double sized pillow top queen mattress presently in there—I mention that it is a double sided pillow top because it is rather high. The full mattress will only give her a few more inches of walk-around-the-bed space, but she is only going to be using it for her bedroom because...

The bedroom she now has is going to be, well I have come to call it her "hide out," because "study" sounds too stuffy for her. I did toy with "phrontistery"—actually I am still toying with that one. We will repaint it. I am thinking it might be messy although I have to say she is rather neat, but when she is doing a project at her desk....she becomes something else. It will have the digital piano that is currently taking up space in my dining room and her desk that is downstairs. She will rearrange her bookshelves so she has a place for all the homeschool books we will are actively using, which are also taking up space in my dining room and downstairs. This room she can use to hang out with her friends also.

It is not ideal, but given the floor plan we have, it is better than it has been. Her bedroom can still be used for guests, but since we have not had any for about ten years...well, what is the point of leaving an empty room for nobody coming?

Since we all compromised on those two rooms, the rest is a matter of moving many things from one place to the other between here and Florida and from one space to another within our home.

My husband decided the open trailer he bought a few years ago mostly to haul his ATV is not what we really need now. He had been toying with the idea to build a large shed, but his time and energy have been a commodities in shorter supply between work and the extra things with the Queen Mother, trips to Florida, and her stuff. He then came up with another small move towards the next big one: to get an enclosed trailer that we could use like a shed for storage of many items in our garage, after we move furniture items between Florida and here, of course. It is not ideal for me because I just see it as a space hog in our driveway, but we are seriously planning to move within the next one to three years, so having something we can use to move our furniture is a plus and, if we will not be needing it later, trailers resell well here—we sold ours for a good price in just two days. In fact, the one we just sold went for more than 2x what we paid for it in two days, although we did fix it up with wood sides. Because we have to move furniture in about two weeks, he ordered one instead of looking for a used one. We just do not have the time and it will cost about the same as a shed...not if he built the shed himself but....time.

It always comes down to time and money. If one is short in time, he usually has to spend more money. One who has time and is short on money, usually spends more time. Time is a what we are shortest on these days. It just is what it is right now.

If you found yourself wondering what we are going to do with the extra queen-size sleep number bed, may I introduce my husband's bigger of the small moves and another one of his justifications for buying the big pickup truck, which was not a very small move, in my opinion. He wants to get a camper and it makes some sense with how our lifestyle will be. The Queen Mother will have to remain in Florida for at least five years due to financial reasons, so we will need to continually go down to Florida to check in on her at least once or twice every two months, we are thinking. Yes, my husband has some sky miles and hotel points, but few hotels take big dogs and those things do get used up and there are plenty of camping areas in Florida. Plus, the man seriously wants to hunt and having a camper gives him a better opportunity and more choices. Then there is me...I used to love to travel and camp in tents, but I am the one in this family who has traveled the least in the last twenty years and I am not so fond of tents in rainy weather nor sleeping uncomfortably when I camp, so sleeping on a sleep number bed in our own camper that we can pull along, maybe even have electricity when we like, is far more appealing to me than when I was younger and called such people "city campers." Anyway, we will store the mattress until we get the camper, which will be another exercise in compromise, I would think.

Lots of things are changing and at times, like today, it all just overwhelms me. At times I feel like I am trying to walk on shifting sands, but just when I feel like maybe I cannot do all this, I remember hearing God say He is going to bless me and I realize that it will work for the good.

My Lord, help us to make good decisions with our time and money, particularly now that we are all so stressed out.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Morning Blues

Happiness is breathlessly chasing you. ~Terri Guillemets

I am loving my yogurt with blueberries for breakfast!

We had a rather late freeze that stunted many fruit trees and bushes, but my blueberry bushes still produced pretty well. I planted three some years ago, but the middle one, regardless of what variety I put in that particular place, the bush would last only one season, except for the last one, it lasted two seasons and then died. So, this spring I planted another one with the idea that I would plant two instead of just one so that it is not in that exact spot and since they seem to be slow growing bushes, they are not going to crowd each other very soon.

We have to place bird netting over all of them as the birds go for the berries before they are ripe and are not very considerate about leaving many for us.

Speaking of birds...I am now questioning the term "bluebird of happiness."

I have lived here for 20 years come this September and I have to say that every year is unique with its weather, pests, and animals...and just when I think that I have about seen it all, the Eastern Bluebird comes along to show me something new.

A couple of bluebirds made a nest in our now rarely used basketball hoop stand and so this is the first year that they have been nesting so close to the house. We have enjoyed their beautiful color looking outside of our windows, but then everything changed. For the last three months those seemingly sweet little bluebirds have been terrorizing us! They have been flying into every window of our house and attacking all the chrome and mirrors on our vehicles...and leaving their droppings all around such places.

When it first started, I felt so sorry for them being confused by the reflections. The window that attracted them the most was the one over the kitchen sink, so we placed ribbons on the outside hoping that that would stop trying to fly into it, which could eventually cause themselves brain damage and their own death. They stopped going to that one, but then visited all the others more. I came home from Florida to find my husband's new pickup in the driveway with towels over all the chrome and bags over the mirrors! The next day when I looked at my van, I understood why he did that. Yuk!

I must confess here that I never have been much of a bird lover although I have helped a stunned bird or two in my lifetime. I prefer the birds of prey, humming birds, and birds with lovely melodious songs, especially the mocking bird that has so many different ones. However, for the most part, I am not overly sad when I see my cats come to me with feathers or when I find a dead bird in my front garden in a favorite place where Sharii likes to leave them.

At this point, I think we are running out of easy-to-catch chipmunks living in the ivy so maybe the cats will start back on the harder-to-catch squirrels and birds...and I will not even discuss the rat they did not hunt down that actually made a way into the house and to my pantry earlier this year! I think my tuxedo twins are getting just a bit too comfortable lying around in the shade when they should be alertly on the job.

While the bluebirds are not bringing me happiness, I will be smiling soon as I pick more sweet, ripe blueberries for my yogurt breakfasts with Mishka romping around in the yard!

My Lord, help these poor bluebirds move away to a better place for them and thank you for a bountiful blueberry harvest.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Happy Blessed Day!

God doesn't bless us just to make us happy;
He blesses us to make us a blessing. -Warren W. Wiersbe

When God says He is going to bless you, He means He is going to bless you! I am seeing it in the littlest of things for the last several weeks, but also the big things, those mountains I could not move.

I kind of dreaded Tuesday morning, but it turned out to be a very good day, kind of like spotting my my favorite combination of colors throughout the rest of the day like these lilacs in a old green watering can!

I had an appointment with the periodontist early in the morning before the rest of our weekly errands and the Princess' piano lesson. I have to say that the orthodontist recommends the best people, not only good at what they do and conservative in their approaches, but great personalities also. I am scheduled to have periodontal surgery at the end of July and it will not be as extensive as I thought it might have to be. He confirmed that my gums were in a good enough state for braces, which I think he doubted when he saw my x-rays with the bone loss, but when he examined me I think he found that my gums are in better condition than he expected. He wants to do a deep cleaning of two back teeth, which would be done surgically. I need to have one back tooth removed and bone graphing done to prepare for an implant that will be placed after I am out of braces.

I do have a couple of other teeth with gum recession, but he seem to not be too concerned with them at this time. He said something about looking at everything after my teeth have been moved around and see what I have then. So, it will not be as expensive as I thought it could be! And while God did not yet heal the bone loss—I am still holding on to that possibility—He definitely has healed some of the deep pockets I had!

So, all good news. The braces will be the most expensive part and certainly the longest treatment but I am so very happy about the idea of saving my teeth!

I had realized about three weeks ago that I must have left my black summer cardigan sweater at Goodwill, so it likely was re-donated. When I was in Florida I looked for one in a retail store and a thrift store, because they usually sell them in the summer because of demand from older women who are get sensitive to going into air conditioning after being in the hot outside. Since I came home I have been looking for one at Goodwill stores since. This is actually the best time of the year to look for sweaters because they are not as picked over as in the cooler weather, but finding black cardigans in good shape and my size is an act of patience and perfect timing. It took me nearly a year to find the sweater I lost and it was ideal, but I found two on Tuesday that were not as ideal, but sufficient. Both are snugger on the arms than I like but I am only wearing them with short sleeves or sleeveless tops. Why two? One looks a bit faded and has small pilling, but is very comfortable so I am thinking of using it more at home. The other looks brand new but is a bit thicker, better for air-conditioned stores and restaurants and church.

This is me painted happy!

My Lord, thank you for all the blessings. You are a most awesome God!

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Princess Does a Gig

Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
-Ludwig van Beethoven

My husband and I had it in our minds for the past few years that the Princess might play piano at a local family-owned restaurant about five miles from us. It is in a historical downtown of a tiny town and when I say tiny, it was just a a handful of brick store fronts at a passenger train stop that closed down long ago, but this is the only restaurant that has stayed in business in that area for several years. It is has an upscale quality with Italian and Greek cuisine, but not too expensive for the area.

We were hoping to do this last summer, but the Princess was still dealing with some self-esteem issues that, thankfully, seemed resolved now. Since then she has begun to love piano again, especially after winning first place in the Fine Arts competition for Georgia and she was highly motivated to earn some money towards the trip for the national competition. It was estimated to be about $3,000 with one adult and one child, however my husband has sky miles, so the flight may not cost us much or anything at all, and points he could possibly use at a hotel, but they are all booked, so maybe not. Being that it is costly, we began talking about a summer job for the Princess.

Our Youth Pastor hoped to have the Princess work at the YMCA along with her to be a counselor for kids at their summer camps, but the jobs were filled before she was given the information on how to apply. Although she thought it would be better to have an income that was more certain than hoping for tips, it would have been inconvenient because that particular YMCA is a distance from us and coordinating the hours and days with transportation along with the Youth Pastor, who has had her focus more into her new marriage, seemed unlikely to go smoothly.

I was actually relieved when the YMCA door closed, because I felt it was not a good fit for us and I keep hearing my Lord telling me He is going to bless us. So, my husband contacted the restaurant owner and showed him a video of the Princess playing for the Fine Arts competition—on the piano with sticky keys, no less. Still, he was impressed enough to say that he would like to interview her. She was to call him and set up an time for that, so she did and he said he would call her on the following Monday to have her come for an interview, but Monday came and went without a call. Coming back from her piano lesson on Tuesday, I had her call him and take the humble approach that she night have misunderstood him about who was to call on Monday. He did not remember her at all at first, which I took as a bad sign, but then he remembered and just asked her to come on Friday and Saturday night to play from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Now the Princess usually only juggles two to four harder songs at a time so this was going to be a real challenge to prepare several to play for 30 to 40 minutes without repeats. We had already been preparing her by picking out songs she had done over the years, simpler yet quite lovely for background music at a restaurant. She was also coached to play harder songs more current, but at a slower pace and to condition herself to play for a longer time because the longest time she performed for recitals has been less than ten minutes. I knew she could do it, but...well, I am a mother, who felt she was not really prepared, but if she wanted to pull it off, she would because she does have that performer gene.

I had left for Florida on Thursday morning that week and returned home on Monday, so I was not there for her first time. When my husband sent me this picture, I suggested that she use her black music folder to hide the books and look more professional. However, the Princess called me to say that she had been given $64.50 on the first night. I was blown away! I thought she might make something like $20-$40 maybe. This was on a holiday weekend and the first one after school was out, so many people go away or are having cookouts. Previously, I had told her that even though it might not be as predictable as a regular paying job that she might make more money in tips overall, but I did not expect it would be that much!

The next night she called to tell me she was looking at $115 in front of her right then and I first assumed that she meant for both nights together, but then it caught me and I asked, "You mean that is the money you made tonight alone?" Yes, the owner had given her $30 of it but the rest was all from customer tips. When I talked to my husband, I found that he also thought she meant altogether. So for playing relaxing music for six hours she made $179.50 that weekend. That comes to just about $30 an hour!

When I had returned home, the Princess told me how she kind of felt bad, because the busboy had told her how many hours he works and what he makes, but she was wise enough not to say anything about what she had made. I told her what I have always told her: A job that can be done with little training by anyone they pull off the street is never going to pay as well as the job that requires training. She said all she did was sit and play, that it was easy. (This from the girl, who for three years begged to quit and brooded when we would not let her.) I told her it was easy because she has had years of training with thousand of hours and thousands of dollars poured into that training. She brought it up again and her father and I just smiled at each other, and he said, "The best job in the world is the one that does not feel like you are working at a job." The secret meaning is that she loved it, so it does not feel like work.

My husband and I had dinner there on Friday evening. It was rather emotional for me, hearing my own daughter playing the piano as we had a nice dinner together. I knew this was how it could be for her, but I was not sure we would get there. This particular restaurant is in an old building that was sand blasted to expose bare brick inside and out, but the outside was painted when this restaurant moved in. (I actually had met the owner of the several of the buildings in the town when she used to run an antique store there, who told me about all the work she had done to revitalize the buildings.) My point is the bare brick make the acoustics quite good there.

The restaurant owner likes to rotate performers, when others are available, so the Princess will not always be able to play there on weekend nights, when they are the busiest, but her manager (her father assumed that title) found that they did have the following weekend open, which was this past weekend. She earned $65 on Friday and $70 on Saturday. She knew that tips would fluctuate, but still she averaged over $20 an hour. Next weekend is already booked—a boy with a trumpet, which I think would be too loud for the place, but it is not my call. The restaurant owner told her that we can negotiate for other times and I think she is booked for the next weekend. She may not make as much every time, but I think everyone working at the restaurant heard a lot of compliments about the piano music and they will want her to play often.

The Princess is now thinking of continuing to play there throughout the year if they are so inclined and the family owns three of these restaurants in our area although the other two are further away, about 20 to 25 minutes in two different directions. Still, it would be worth it if she does as well at them. Actually, we do not know if the other two do live music yet, but it might be advantageous for her to rotate with them if they do, so the regular customers at the one place do not feel her playing is stale or they see her too often so she earns less.

I feel like we have finally come to that "ah-ha" moment with the Princess and her piano...and Mama is very happy!

My Lord, thank you so very much for getting us past the a very rough time between the Princess and piano. Thank you that she is now seeing what we had envisioned and hoped for. Thank you for standing firm with me as I felt so helpless trying to re-ignite that love she had for piano. I know that it was all in Your plan, but Your plans are not always the easiest paths to take. Thank you for this blessing of seeing the love of music again in the heart of my daughter.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Detaching Attachments

He who cannot rest, cannot work;
he who cannot let go, cannot hold on;
he who cannot find footing, cannot go forward.
-Harry Emerson Fosdick

This is the summer of detaching attachments. These days I am blogging not just because I like it, but because it helps me keep things in perspective and reminds me of the order in which things have happened and have to happen, because my previously sleepy, small life has increased in velocity and has been spread thin out in so many directions that I barely recognize it.

My Grocery Stores
When I first came to live here in this part of Georgia there were few choices for organic foods and they were a distance away but practically across the street from each other. One was called Harry's Farmers Market, a small, chain and the other was a small crowded co-op that did not even have an automatic door. The co-op was doing very well; it doubled in size within a few years and added an automatic door (you never appreciate those as much as when you are trying to open a small door with a cart going in and out). A few years later Whole Foods bought out Harry's, a small chain, although kind of kept the original name at this store.

Harry's was always quite busy even after it became Whole Foods, but for the past few years the parking lot has only been half as full as it used to be even on the weekends. I could easily see the slow change because I had the same piano lesson day and time for ten years in a row, so I shopped there about the same time every week. Since then we have bounced around on days because of the Home Learning Center schedule but it is still quite obvious that Harry's must be losing money. Whole Foods has been trying to move and it finally found a location about six miles northwest on the outer rim of a busy retail area and near a mall. There were construction problems that delayed the move for two years, but now it is official that the store will be there in the fall of this year. It is not terribly out of the way for us, but it will add driving time with lots of traffic lights.

The co-op is the greater concern. It also has been losing money every month for over two years, at least. I know this because I have been a board member for about a year and a half. Whole Foods moving could make things better but more likely things will be worse. Many people shop both places because although Whole Foods has more selection, it does not carry certain items that the co-op does and likewise the co-op does not carry much in meat or dairy. I cannot see the co-op still being in business two years from now if people drawn in by the new unique businesses now revitalizing the area do not begin shopping at the co-op. The only other thing that I believe would save it, would be to move it, before that is not even an financially possible, but to where is now another issue.

The organic market here has changed so much. We have a new chain called Sprouts that has aggressively been planting stores all over the Atlanta area and now there is one on the way into my favorite stores from our house. The problem I have with Sprouts is that they really have few organics, but lots of that shopping experience that appeals to the Millennials with a coffee shop and lots of bulk bins. I just was not that impressed personally, but every time I go past it, the parking lot is pretty full.

People rave about Trader Joe's, which has that Harry's flavor. There is one about six miles to the east of the co-op but none near our route, as they like to be in the high traffic areas surrounded by high-price real estate. I think that their prices are a bit high, or used to be at least, as I have not been in one for more than ten years. They are not as committed to organics as I would like either.

Since Kroger's is carrying more organics and cheaper, our local one is as well, but organics still do not sell well near my home, that may be in part because many people grow their own foods around here. Often I get items that have been marked down to half because they are within three days of their sell-by dates. I had not been going there because they stopped carrying the butter I liked, which is the main reason I would go. But we ran out of apples so I stopped in and looked everything over as they have expanded their natural market area and ended up buying a few more things, like huge container of organic mushrooms that had been marked down. I used some raw in my salads for a couple of days and sauteed the rest!

The Queen Mother
As you know by now, since I have written about it enough, we are working at getting things settled in Florida with the Queen Mother, who has been less that cooperative on many levels. I am not completely insensitive to how things have changed in her life and her feelings about it; in fact, I have tried not to let it in too much how I would feel if I had fallen, went to the hospital with a life threatening infection, then to a rehab for the 100 days allowed on Medicare, ended up in nursing home, and then realizing that I would not ever again see my home that I lived in for 50 years. If I let all those empathic thoughts in too much, I could barely do what needs to be done with her estate.

I try not to feel the sadness, because all those things, the collectibles, to which she is attached had actually paralyzed her. She said she had thought about going into an assisted living place earlier but what would she have done with all the collectibles? I told her that was going to fall on Alan and me no matter what. All her attachments she bought over the years, they cannot and never really could offer her any comfort or love nor could her house and the people who could, she did not really invest in. I was talking to her next door neighbor about how the Queen Mother would talk, on the phone mostly, to a former neighbor right across the street and then talk about her after hanging up, complaining and often said they were not friends, but the next door neighbor said the Queen Mother told her they were best friends—easy to say now that she has moved away to live with her daughter, I suppose.

I honestly could spend days in tears for the Queen Mother, because she is so lonely and never really got that things are just...things. And yet, when we have tried to get her to talk about what she would like to keep or have with her in the nursing home, she only can think of what she cannot have and will not discuss it. Like when my husband asked about which of the beds she would prefer, she said her own, which is a queen and too large. She also has a full size and a twin or single that would fit better not only in her present room but for her assisted living space, when she is able to be moved. She insisted on the queen and her reason was because she had new sheets for that bed...really! But, decisions of practicality must be made and if she will not participate in making them, then it falls to us...and that is the hard part: we want her to be happy, but the reality is that there is no pleasing her, so no matter what we do or how we do it, she will be upset and blame us.

This is my reality in regards to the Queen Mother. For years, I tried to prepare myself knowing it could be and most probably would be this way, but it is hard for me to accept just the same. She is not willingly going to give up many of her attachments.

My Husband's Daughter
This is an attachment that detached long ago, but your child is always your child. Although I probably have not mentioned it here before, my husband had a daughter from his first marriage. There was a lot of things that happened in the first three years of our marriage I wish had not or that I could forget, including harassment, moving and hiding the child, false police reports, false accusations, the mother losing custody for a year to us, several court hearings each year finding the mother in contempt of court for not allowing visitation, and more. The more the mother refused to let my husband see his daughter, the more he was consumed with trying to see her.

Without going into more details, we finally were given a new judge, who looked at the case that stretched over ten years and stated that he did not even know where to start (I think mostly because the last judge did not follow through with contempt charges against the mother and he could not understand why the other judge had given my husband custody and then taken it away for no reason, especially after we all were assessed and the conclusion was that my husband would be the better parent for her), but by then the judge felt the girl was old enough to be asked if she wanted to see her father and she had been well coached to say "no." We were hopeful that the new judge would enforce contempt of court if the mother refused visitation, but instead, the judge said that he would not take visitation away, but he also would not enforce it. Once the mother knew visitation would solely be on her approval without fear of contempt of court, we did not see that little girl anymore.

After she graduated high school, (just a month after my daughter was born), she contacted my husband. The conversations were courteous and but nothing was discussed about the past, however the damage to their relationship, we assume by design from her mother, seemed to be beyond repair. A few months later she was pregnant and her boyfriend left her. We offered to have her live with us, help her through college, and such, but "no." We offered to come when her first child was born, but she said she was afraid that would upset her mother, who did not know yet that she had contacted us. My husband had the opportunity to just meet her for lunch once when he was working in the state she lives after her first child was born, but she said no to that. There were other opportunities but she always said no. She got back with the father and has had three more children since. In fact, we only got a few phone calls that first year and a few email messages over the years since and Christmas cards with pictures. She has turned down every opportunity to meet with him in person, except once after her second child was born and only in a public restaurant after his parents requested it and they would be there as well. It was as if she wanted him only to be a father-on-paper and not really be involved with him.

However, when the Queen Mother was injured and in rehab, this same woman offered to live in the Queen Mother's house as a "caretaker" with her "little family." When we stated by email we were selling the house, she still persisted and tried to make us feel guilty about the memories that would be lost. You see, she has been trying to move back to Florida for years because her other grandmother lives there. Once she pulled her kids out of school and put them in school in Florida while helping her grandmother after she fell and broke her hip. But, no matter how much she tried to find a job in Florida, it just never worked out. And even though she was close by for those months, she only visited the Queen Mother once. So I was a bit confused about how she just could not understand that her father would possibly refuse her offer of living in the house as a caretaker (and rent free) as a favor to his mother.

Finally, to help her understand, I wrote that what she was requesting required quite a bit of trust and we had not had the opportunity to build that kind of relationship with her. To drive the point further, I asked her if would she be willing to allow any one of her children spend the afternoon alone with us (which I knew she would not since she will not even see her father in person herself)...and explained that kind of mutual trust takes time and effort to build and we really did not have the time when it came to the house and its expenses, that it was to be sold as soon as we could manage it. She went silent for many of the following weeks.

This week, however, my husband received an email with two lines. One said that her uncle told his daughter, her cousin, that the Queen Mother was back home and asking if that was true. (We think he made this assumption because we sent an blanket email to all her email pals that she could be contacted by phone now, but all we did was transfer her home phone number to her new cell phone.) The other was that she was going on a road trip coming this way (meaning she is again seeing her other grandmother) and wondered if we could meet.

I had to think long on this because she lived with us for a time and I loved her, but as an adult she has had so many opportunities to have a closer relationship with her father and everything she did points to she did not want it to be anything more than emails now and then. (Now you may understand why the Queen Mother did not want the contact info of at least one of her three grown grandchildren on her new phone...and the other two have their issues also.) So, my thoughts sadly go to why now?—which matters little, really. The truth is I do not wish to go there or have my daughter dragged into it. I purposely put off having a child until she was nearly an adult so that any child we had would not be affected by all that we had gone through. I also spent years of my life chasing down my family, trying to stay in contact with them, and yet I may get a call from one of my three siblings on the average of once in five years and rarely a Christmas card. Both my sisters were married in the same year and I did not even get an announcement, let alone an invitation; I found out on Facebook a couple of years afterward. So, I am used to dysfunction in my own family and after years of trying I realized that it takes both parties to want to make a relationship better, that I cannot make it work all on my own...I do not make the effort to chase after them anymore. I used to feel guilty about things like that like I could have done more, tried harder, something, but those chains are broken and now I have no regrets, because I know I really tried and they did not. Although I do leave doors open and my arms ready to hug them, I no longer push, pull, or even coax for them to step through it and accept my love.

Likewise, I tried mending things between my husband and his daughter for years also, but I am just...well, I am done with it. I have been concerned that the Princess is naturally curious about her half-sister, but they are 18 years apart—her oldest is just one year younger than the Princess—and the father that she thinks she knows or remembers has been tainted with lies told all her life, while the Princess sees her father as he really is. I think it would only cause problems as the two visions of the same man can not be reconciled unless the older one is willing to recognize she has been thinking of him all wrong. I told my husband that I will support his decision if he wants to see her, but I do not want to be involved until their relationship is in a better state and he had already come to the same conclusion. The sad part is he thinks she only wants to meet to see what she can get from her grandmother's estate, but he is willing to meet with for a meal out with her alone to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Summer Camp
The Princess had saved up all the money she would need for summer camp, but we had told her that we would pay half. She handed her money in early to get the lowest fee, but Wednesday night she found out that only three teens had paid so the church was cancelling it and would be giving the money back. I was torn between feeling relief that one thing was taken off my crazy summer schedule, but sad because this would be the last year the Princess can go unless she goes as a leader. However, she also has friends from another church that planned to go that same week so she may be able to go with their group...although their youth pastor recently quit so we are not sure about that either.

Youth Pastor
Speaking of youth pastors, I was also given the news that ours is stepping down. I so wish I had been wrong, but I knew that it would be coming when she announced her engagement and I expected it shortly after the wedding. One of the reasons we were not in a hurry to move was because of the youth pastor and the relationship she had with the Princess. I knew that her priorities would shift and knowing her, I knew that it would not be a gentle change. However, the Princess is not the emotionally needy child she was a year ago so she is taking the news better than I am, I think. This also means we lose our housesitter and we really need one this summer.

Youth Band
The Princess stepped down from the youth band this week, at least temporarily but likely for the entire summer as last summer they stopped practices all together. We think it is a good idea as she has another gig that I will post about a little later. Actually, my husband was ready to have her quit when he stayed to watch the last practice she attended. The Praise and Worship Pastor was helping, but he only was there for about 20 minutes then he left to prepare for the Wednesday night service. After he left, practice fell apart and all the kids were messing around on their cell phones for 40 minutes. The Princess says that usually does not happen, but they are still practicing the same three songs they have been since before Christmas. One singer acts like a prima donna, stopping in the middle and constantly wanting to change keys back and forth to find the one that makes her sound the best. They have no date for performing the songs. It is just not productive and certainly not what the Princess is used to doing. We always have a performance date that she is working towards. I thought playing with a band would be a good experience but for the most part it, there is no real commitment to making the band work. My husband is even considering changing churches again so that she has a better opportunity with music through the church.

My Aunt
I have been warned by my cousin that my aunt's mind and health are failing fast and if I want to spend some time with her, I should come this summer. This reminds me of the time that my mother's health was failing, while I was taking care of my husband's father after the Queen Mother had her first bout with septicemia and was in rehab for many weeks recovering. Here I am caught up in working on affairs for the Queen Mother's and trying to find time to squeeze in a visit with my aunt, in between the times when her own family will be coming.

In Closing
There are more things going on than I have time to write. As I wrote, the velocity of my life definitely has sped up. Yet, I personally have let go of so many things to which I was chained, but I am living on varying degrees of stress and exhaustion on a daily basis right now. That fast I did, I gained about half the weight right back. Eventually, I will lose it again, when I am up for the effort.

My Lord, life changes are often unwelcome even when expected, but some can prove to be refreshing. I thank you for revealing to me what attachments are worthy and good in my life and of what ones I can and should let go without regret or guilt.