Gray Days

It has been over two weeks since I last had the chance to sit down and think, much less write. To be honest, life has been one big scramble: getting kids to school on time (for the most part), finding my way around the countryside, getting furniture put together and put in place, while also trying to meet people, find a church, sign kids up for things we want to be intentional about while avoiding the excess, on top of training for a marathon (because THAT was a wise, non-excessive decision…..) and needing to replace a car battery and a two-week old cell phone (tile can be so darn unforgiving) while at the same time our home phone stopped working (sharing one cell phone is kind of a drag if you must know) and shipments that are supposed to come this way went that way while others just didn't show up until weeks after they were supposed to (winter living in rural America??), and then there was the issue of the very red well water at 11:00 one night and the toilet that clogs every other time and the washer that doesn't complete the cycle, EVER, and the bunny who still needs a bigger hutch, and a cat who spent a day puking, a plant that bred tiny flies, shower curtains that keep falling down because kids keep pulling too hard and the list goes on and on and on…..hamster, meet wheel.

But, in spite of these things, and the ensuing madness, and the crazy, over-the-top-through-the-roof-and-back-again stress currently circulating through the house (something about someone trying to work at home without a single working phone and amidst the noise that comes from having a houseful of very exuberant [read noisy] children), Mars has proven to be a most lovely place. I still worry that eventually the perpetual gray will find its way deeper inside my psyche and start to hollow out my soul,   but so far I have been able to block out the melodrama by making a list of all the blessings surrounding us here. I add something to my list each gray day and remind myself that under that big sheet of silly gray, the sun is just waiting to pounce…..I can just feel it…..ready and waiting…..pounce when ready….we're ready whenever you are Mr. Sun…..

At any rate, here is my current list:

1. We have a roof; a big, beautiful, working roof over our heads

2. And for the most part, Pennsylvania has been quite welcoming…..

3. There is a lovely little creek that runs near the back of our property and winds itself through the rolling countryside.

4. Our kids have the opportunity to get their "Born Free" on (to steal my friend Deb's comment) and run wild out back on the warmer days.

5. And on colder days, we apparently have an incredible sledding hill that I can watch from my kitchen window. (Note: if you see that tree on the left hand side, mid-picture, the kids actually start at the top of the hill and sled down and curve all the way down to that tree…..it's really very cool…until they hit the tree of course.)

6. The first day they came home on the bus, I counted seven school age kids (besides my own) walking up the street….our worries about whether there would be any kids out here were apparently unwarranted. 

7. The TV in my home gym gives the kids an opportunity to use the reverse neck muscles from the ones they use when playing on their iPods and other screen games. (Hey, every bit counts in my book!)

8. We have grandparents nearby who can take the kids every now and again…..for a full 24 hours!

9. There is also a pleasant winery not too far away for those evenings we find ourselves unexpectedly kid-free. (See #8)

10. The grocery store here provides 2 hours of free childcare a day. (It adds a fresh, more attractive,  perspective to the fact that I almost always forget a thing or two every time I shop…..Actually I think we may need a few items every day!)

11. We have wonderful new neighbors. One set brought wine one night, cookies the next, took me out riding on their Polaris RZR (think a cross between an ATV and an all-terrain golf cart) and then volunteered their teenage son to help with our kids since he has experience working with kids with Aspergers. Another has a teenage daughter who would like to babysit. And a third has the same name as one of my closest friends in MN and has a daughter a year older than the girls (who eagerly calls for playmates almost every day and has already invited our kids to a birthday party) and a son a year older than Aidan who has already stated he believes Aidan will be his best friend, a sentiment shared by Aidan as well. I love them all.

12. My mailbox has two sets of birds. One pair of Cardinals (which was my favorite bird from childhood) and one pair that from a distance could be mistaken as Black Capped Chickadees (my favorite bird from MN). It is like it was meant for me.

13. We have an automatic ice maker in our kitchen. And an ice maker in the bar in our basement. After 18 years of having to fill those darn plastic trays, over, and over, and over……I'm in heaven.

14. We have a home gym. I can run to my heart's content while enjoying watching Liam hoot and holler over sports teams he wouldn't know from Adam and games that happened decades ago.

15. There is a horse farm a minute away that will give us riding and barn/farm management lessons.

16. The little feed store "in town" sells chickens. 15 day old pullets per order to be exact and everything we could possibly need to get started (you know, excluding the coop which we will have to put up come spring….you know, so that we can have us some spring chickens.)

This is my list for January. What? What's that you say? There have only been 19 days in January and I already have 16 gray day blessings? Yeah, you do the math. But I just want everyone to know, each morning, I am up before the sun (okay, most mornings) and I watch it rise over yonder while the coffee brews and as it makes its way into the sky, before it takes its spot under the gray cotton sheet overhead, it gives me a little wink to let me know it is there…..ready and waiting to pounce…..I can almost feel its warmth….almost. And that is enough for now.

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