sleep can wait

Nights like this are so rare. It’s 70°, the moon is super bright, there’s an incredible breeze blowing through the trees, and the crickets are singing. I know it’s getting late and the sun is going to come before I know it, but I just can’t head to bed. Because, you can’t bottle up hours like this and save them for a more “reasonable” hour. I know the children will be up soon, and there will be all sorts of needs to be met, things to do, places we have to go. But I don’t want this glorious gift of a night to slip away without fully enjoying it. Everything is so alive out there. My daughter came downstairs about 45 minutes ago; she was having trouble falling asleep. And, she was hungry. So, she sat and ate a banana while chatting with me for a few minutes. She headed off to bed, but now I sort of wish she’d stayed to hang with me until the midnight hour. She loves these nights, too, and is such fabulous company. Now there’s a train horn in the distance, and I can hear the tracks, and there’s the sound of an ambulance somewhere else in town. Opportunity to lift someone else up in prayer, because the Lord is ever listening. The world is still turning, and life is always being lived. The cars going by outside my windows carry people to where at this hour? Lives being lived. And tonight they’re lived in bright moonlight and cricket song. And, I wonder how many people passing by — like the person walking by on the sidewalk behind my house — are able to stop and take in the beauty of the night. Beauty in the everyday. Any hour.
I hope wherever you are tonight, if you’re still up, that you’re able to take some time and enjoy the night before you head off to sleep. Because the heavens declare, and it’s autumn. Hopefully, you have a bright half moon where you’re at, too.

 

(*Disclaimer about the photo at the top of this post…it’s not perfectly lovely. This I know. But, it is authentic, it is the view I’m enjoying right now. It is beautiful in its own way, with the myriad of branches and the moon that is always so reluctant to be photographed well with the camera on my phone. Now imagine the train whistle and cricket chorus…)

eight : twenty three

It’s 8:23 p.m. And I am done with the day. It started out lovely enough, but then, parenting. Roughest day we’ve had in a very long while. Lots of frustration, lots of tears, some despairing thoughts that threaten no hope of things getting better. MY GOODNESS, the will can be strong. How does one child have that much argument in them?

… (crickets)

Annnnd…that’s all I’ve got. Thought I might work some more things out in words, but, alas, no. I’ve had some wine. I’ve had (more than) some chocolate. I’ve prayed. Shed some tears. And now, my bed. My big, soft, cushy bed. Here in the eight o’clock hour. I’d love to have it in me to lose myself in a movie, but, nope. Bed. And hope for good sleep and much better hours tomorrow. Certainly, there will be more chocolate. Likely in coffee, first thing, in a few short hours.

And let us not grow weary of doing good. Neither the woman in me who struggles with hope (pray for that woman,) nor the woman in me who knows Who it is that not only brings tomorrow, but is also already there.

night bugs and community

 

I tried to go to bed an hour and a half ago. It didn’t work out.

I will admit to being a woman easily startled in the night. When walking around downstairs whilst the rest of my family sleeps, I can convince myself that I saw something out of the corner of my eye or that the sound of the house creaking/settling was something sinister. I would prefer to not be walking about the house in the middle of the night. But, if I can’t sleep, sometimes I simply have to change my surroundings. So I land downstairs and make my way to my favorite spot chill. It’s where I find myself tonight. I get that the light from the computer screen is counterproductive to my efforts to induce sleepiness. However, some nights, it’s just what it is and I need to write a little something.

It wasn’t a banner evening in the parenting life I live. It was stressful and unsettling, and beautiful and redemptive. All at once. It was one of the bigger conversations we’ve had with one of our children, confessions on both sides that we are works in process and there are big life lessons to be learned from some recent experiences we’ve had both separately and together. Necessary words, thoughts and lessons, growth to be had. And we are so thankful for it all.

But, though I am thankful, I am worn out. And have a little bit of a latent stress reaction to the situation, so, here I sit instead of sleeping in my bed. And I am reflecting on how you might think you’re alone — waiting for the house to creak or the shadow to catch your eye — there are others up at this time of the day (night) too. And they’re looking for loved ones to commune with in the late hours that are filled with big struggles or emotions. I opened Facebook when I got to my chair. And I read recent posts by my friends: there was sleeplessness due to rain, anger at the state of our country, longing for comfort and relief from grief at the loss of a loved one. And mingled in was the post from a mom friend who laid on the floor next to her daughter’s bed when asked at bedtime, and a photo of her daughter’s tiny hand in her own as the little one fell asleep. Life is full and everyone is somewhere tonight living out a story that is all their own, yet shared. And oftentimes it is m e s s y . And sometimes unbearable, or confusing, or threatens to overwhelm. Or, so bittersweet it brings tears. And reading through real-time responses and interactions between dear friends going through the mess of life, navigating their way through the weeds that can sometimes block the path they are looking for, I was reminded that the world is smaller than it can feel. And in sharing in the life struggles of friends — simple fellowship and a few words amongst friends in what can be lonely hours — can lessen my own burdens as I share in their life experiences. We are part of a larger story and there is every hour give and take, ebb and flow.

And there are night bugs. The incredible yard full of crickets. They are the soundtrack tonight. They are the warm reminder that the God of all creation is at work. A vibrant chorus that surrounds me. Voices reaching out to one another in the night, in the dark. Community. And I am glad I gave up my earlier quest for sleep, because sometimes, it can wait.

getting older

 

Our friends get older. This one is, and sometimes it seems like she ages by the hour. We’re not certain how old she actually is, as she is a rescue kitty. But, based on estimations when we got her, she’s at least sixteen. She’s been such a good companion. Tinier than most any grown kitty you’ll meet, and lighter than a feather, she’s gentle, warm, and giving. And, she’s teaching me, in her old age, how to be the best I can for her. The days aren’t always easy, but what a friend she is. Patience, compassion, steadfastness…putting them into practice in new and different ways. I’ll take the refining process, and be ever thankful  that she stays.

dinner, 10:15 p.m.

 

Sometimes, Mom Life looks like this. At 10:15 p.m. When family activities are many, and much is packed into one evening, you get going and don’t feed yourself well, nor at a reasonable hour. Everyone else eats, albeit at different times, (and your husband asks, “You’re going to feed yourself too, right?”) But, you get going with drop offs and pick ups, errands to the likes of Target, grocery shopping, book reading, goodnight hugs & prayers. Feeding the fish. And this — a bowl of boxed, gluten free mac n’ cheese — sounds pretty much perfect on this late summer evening. I mean, it may be boxed, but it’s fresh. It’s not warmed up leftover mac n’ cheese; I made it just now. That has to count for something, right?

summer morning

Summer mornings don’t get much more lovely than this. Well, by my estimation. It’s bright, sunny…the air is warm and getting warmer, but there is an incredible cool breeze. I appreciate cool breezes — warm ones make me dizzy. My children are chasing each other, laughing, through sun-filtered grass. And I am drinking the loveliest Moonlight Jasmine tea that tastes just like the scent of the fields of my childhood summers.

Not every hour in my day will be like this. Soon there will be sibling squabbles, dishes, decluttering, and more laundry. But for now, I will enjoy the summer bliss. Here I go….

a season of photos

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It’s been a very busy few months. Busy sometimes to the point of distraction, but, in general, good busy. There has been the occasional schedule mishap, forgetting something here or there, but nothing we couldn’t get past rather quickly. I’ve come to realize in recent days that I took very few photos this summer. And, in this realization, I’ve come to understand that, for me, taking photos is a form of self care. Self care is a phrase that I have had rolling around in my head this autumn, as I have been following an Instagram friend who regularly uses it as a hashtag. Her self care has included running, trips to the salon, and visiting jazz clubs in the city. I’ve been pondering how photography is an art that I love and an activity I need to be purposeful about doing. It’s everyday life for me to look at something I find beautiful and set up a shot in my mind; it comes naturally. I’m passionate about seeing and capturing the beauty around me. When I get busy, I don’t make time for taking photos, and my life begins to lack something that is important to me. A necessary outlet, a pathway for self expression. Self care. I’m thankful that I noticed the gaping hole in the photo timeline when I was looking through iPhoto earlier this autumn. It helped me realize a few things about myself that I am hoping to remedy going forward. So, this blog post is an album of some of my favorite shots taken this season. No real rhyme or reason, just favorites. I hope you enjoy them.

 

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cookies, fireflies, and another year

6.11.16

 

Today, I had to make M&M cookies. I don’t do it often. But lately, I’ve been missing my mother’s cookies. In my mind’s eye, I can see and smell the ones she used to make. I needed them today.

Sometimes I’m startled by how much I miss my mother. How the pain of not having her with me any longer will come rushing in, and sometimes it’s hard for me to know exactly what brought it on. It can be something obvious — a photo glides by on my screensaver, my sister brings up an old family funny, a water tower catches my attention (we often joked that Mother should write a book about water towers and entitle it, Water Towers I Have Known; she loved them so.) Other times it takes me a bit of searching to find the trigger — a seasoning in something I’m cooking, a flower on a page in a book I’m reading to my children, the sound of someone’s voice at nearby table in a restaurant where we’re dining. Mother is always with me in one way or another. This time of year the reminiscing comes often. Though it is sudden, and often, for a few moments, painfully crushing, it’s easy to pinpoint what brings her to mind these days. Mother loved summer. She loved to sit outside under huge trees and listen to the multitude of leaves rush around above her head. And, despite her seasonal allergies, she adored the cottonwood that would float around in the sunshine at the beginning of the season. She loved the heat and humidity, and often said she could smell fireflies in the evening air on such a June evening.

I grew up loving fireflies. Still do, of course, as evidenced by the title of my blog. (*see note below) Mother used to say that I came when the fireflies came, and each year they came out for my birthday. And they are indeed out just before my birthday each year. Yesterday was the first truly hot summer day we’ve had this season. I mentioned to the children that I wouldn’t be surprised if the fireflies made their appearance in the evening. And sure enough, last night we saw the first one. We caught it, fawned over it, thanked it for finding us, and set it free. I miss my mother in those moments. I miss her when I enjoy my children’s excitement over being outside late into the night. When we sit in that encompassing warmth of a summer’s eve and look at the moon, a beautiful golden crescent with a solid bright circle around it. I miss her when we watch the families of ducks gather on a small island in the middle of the river & settle in as a family, while my family and others chat and play on the Riverwalk, a couple hours past children’s typical bath & bed time. (But, yes! stay up and stay out — enjoy these hours and making these memories that will last for always.) And, I miss my sweet mother when I pull out one of the books about the moon, from my hefty collection of picture books about the moon and the night, and read it to one of my children late on such a summer’s night.

But, in the missing her, there is a warmth and a smile. A heart smile that shows itself often in a few tiny tears that come whether I try to stop them or not. She is always with me in these remembrances, and though sometimes it hurts, I wouldn’t choose not to remember. If I was honest, many of the things that I love about myself come from her pouring into me the essence of who she was. Many of the things I love about my children come from my mother’s efforts to grow me into a kind and caring human being. And I love how creation, from the cottonwood and the humidity, to the moon and the fireflies, will always be there to remind me of her. They take me back to times I’ve loved, times gone by, to a Mother that shows up always in the memories that are dear to me, even when she is no longer here to make new ones. And I am grateful for them, even if they come packaged in tears. Because, in the choosing to remember, she is indeed as near as the warm summer breeze, the gathering ducks, or glowing moon in the night sky. As I celebrate another year of life in a couple days, I am thankful for the years behind me, the fireflies that showed up right on time, and the memories I get to treasure and pull out again and again, season after season, of the mother that gave me this life.

 

*On the subject of ‘wildfyrfly’, let me just take an aside here and clear up the reason for my choosing to misspell ‘firefly’ in my blog title. Shortly before I was born, Mother saw the name ‘Dayna’ in print in a newspaper. She loved it, and decided to give me the name when I was born. “Y” and all. It was a tricky spelling, apparently, and for reasons I don’t understand, people struggled with the pronunciation of my name my entire growing up years. I did not care for the “Y” back then, but treasure it today. Therefore, it takes a place of honor in my blog title. You will not, however, find me frequenting a car wash with the name “Kleen Kars.” It causes me to shudder and pass on by.*

 

 

living heirlooms

5.17.16

I’m not really a collector. I don’t have a box full of inaugural TY Beanie Babies, a set of books with stamps from every era in American history, racks of tiny silver spoons, or a refrigerator covered with magnets from every state in the U.S. But, what I do love to collect are plants from the yards of my friends and loved ones. Throughout my yard I have created beds that are filled with plants given to me over the years by people I hold dear. And I can, with very few exceptions, recount who gave each one to me. There are tiger lilies and bleeding hearts in the shade that came from my mother-in-law. The sedum outside my kitchen window, that feeds the house finches & blooms lavender in the autumn, has been divided several times — it also came from her. But, not only did they come from her, they came from the house that we knew and loved so well, and has since been sold and passed on to another family to love. Some history there. The ferns and sweet william, the hosta and absolutely glorious pink lily of the valley came from Aunt Beth. The memories of being at her house (with the most beautiful back yard I’ve ever been in) have come along with these plants that bloom each spring. The rhubarb plants that overtook the children’s garden and needed to be moved to the side yard were a gift from our current neighbors. The stella d’oro daylilies came from my neighbor, Asha. She gave me some dozen of these beautiful plants several years ago when she tired of the dead heading and upkeep. Where as they used to live around her patio, they now line the bed in which our tomatoes grow. Shortly after my mother passed away some years ago, my friend Heather wrote me a check, telling me that I was to buy some flowers for my yard in memory of my mother. I did just that: notably, the Halfway To Arkansas Blue. It reminds me of my mother’s huge affection for the south and her travels there. That plant has grown and been divided, and has been passed on to grow in the yards of some of my friends. Of course, there are many starters that I’ve purchased. Heirloom violets and delphiniums, shasta daisies and lupines, wild geranium and phlox, forget me nots and salvia…I love them all and look forward to being able to share them with friends in the years to come. But, I cherish the history that comes with the living, thriving gifts given to me by loved ones. Plants that came from people they loved. Plants and flowers that bloomed in yards of houses where memories were made and lives were lived. Plants that grew and flourished under the care of my loved ones. And because of that care and sweet generosity, they now provide the animals I love with food and protection. They beautify my yard and will be part my story, my family’s story. And, my yard, my days, and my seasons are lovelier for it.