Scent of Home

Have you ever noticed upon entering someone’s home that it had a very distinct aroma? That scent, if you noticed it somewhere other than in that particular home, would remind you of that person or family. And I’m not talking about the smell of trash that needs to be taken out or a litter box in need of a good cleaning. I’m talking about that scent that so much embodies a home that its occupants fail to recognize it, but to a visitor is so distinct that it instantly becomes associated with those who live there.

I used to notice this a lot more when I was a kid. My grandparents’ home had its own aroma; a mixture of home made baked goods and days gone by. All of my friends’ and relatives’ homes had their own signature smell. Maybe it was a certain brand of soap; always present at every sink in the home. Maybe it was the smell of my uncle’s farm, mingling with the aromas inside the house. It wasn’t usually anything I could name specifically, but it was something I always associated with that family and it brought a sense of familiarity.

I used to walk into my own house and feel as if I was being greeted by the familiar aroma that made up our home. That aroma used to fill me with a sense of comfort, promise and the future. My awareness of that scent usually faded away as I went about my business, but it was always there when I first came through the door.

Somewhere along the line, that awareness left me. I hadn’t realized it, but it was just gone. I think that my awareness hinged too much on expectations for the future and the misguided notion of having all the time in the world. I wonder if somehow the loss was connected to a tendency I developed to focus (often with a bit of sadness) on the days that have passed us by.

On Thursday morning when I returned from my attempt at a run, (I say “attempt” because it was forcefully windy and I ended up walking…) I was met with an overwhelming sense of the scent that I have been too busy or preoccupied to notice for a while. It was early and the rest of the family was still sleeping. From the entryway, I gazed up through the wood railing into the living room. I simply stood still and realized something that hasn’t happened in a long time was happening again. As I stood there in my reverie, I saw a series of events from the past years of our lives… The boys playing matchbox cars on the living room floor; little hands making creations from Legos; excited squeals as cars flew around race-tracks; Kacey playing with her baby dolls and all of their accessories, toddler giggles and baby voices. I remembered lying on the floor reading books to the kids or watching a favorite Disney flick (for the hundredth time.) I had visions of days when all of us eating together at the table was the norm and there was a hot meal every night.

I was suddenly impacted with the realization that I may have quit making the association with “our” scent because I associated it with loss… the loss of  all the years that passed by too quickly. And then came an epiphany of sorts – an understanding that those years are not lost. They live forever in my heart and I will carry them with me forever.

…And all of this materialized because I smelled something. My brain is a strange place sometimes.

Life is Good – March 20, 2009

Luck be a lady(bug) by you.This little ladybug is a sure sign that spring is on the way. She appeared on the top of the computer screen as I was relaxing in the recliner and editing photos on my laptop. I called Brad over to come see and he kept an eye on her while I snapped a few photos.

What a great week it’s been. Not only have I felt…I don’t know…lighter, somehow, but we had some extraordinarily warm days this week. I’m sure the temperatures have been a major factor contributing to my much-improved mood. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to these early spring-like days. I get used to the warm air too quickly and I should know better. This is Minnesota and spring usually doesn’t stick around the first time it shows its face. It always teases us for a few days before coming back for good. (And I always manage to forget this fact.) When I stepped outside on Thursday morning wearing only a jean jacket, I realized I had become overly optimistic. The temperature couldn’t have been much above freezing. Not to worry. We’re on the home stretch and warmer days will be here to stay within a few short weeks.

IMG_9408_2 by you.The week started out beautifully. The entire household was relaxed and happy due to the fact that everyone was off school for spring break. Brad arrived home from college last Friday, along with his girlfriend (whom we all just adore. She stayed with us until Sunday evening and I was sad to see her leave, but her own parents wanted to see her too!) The weather on Sunday was gorgeous and we all took a walk through the nearby park reserve. It seems many others had the same idea as we did. We met up with other couples and families while we wandered through the park. It was sunny, warm and we were able to walk the paths wearing sweatshirts instead of our heavy winter jackets. We stopped down by the lake to take a look around and watched another family enjoying the day and playing on the still frozen lake. It felt so good to be outside, feel the sun on our faces and breathe the fresh air.

Seeing winter fade away has encouraged me to dust of my camera, as you can probably tell from this post. I just couldn’t seem to find the inspiration to photograph much over the winter. The cold, the lack of color and the darkness seems to sap every bit of creativity in me. But suddenly, I feel like I’ve got a new toy again. So many things seem to be just begging to be captured through the camera lens. (And for anyone interested, you can see my recent attempts on my sadly neglected photography blog.)

Even though schools are closed this week, the athletic teams are still holding practices. I am very proud that my kids work so hard and place such importance on their physical health. Jake had to get up early every day this week and is excited to be back on the track team. He is starting to get back into shape after the long winter. Kacey made the cut and will be playing on the school softball team again this year. Actually, the coaches told her she’ll be playing on the B team, the JV team AND the varsity team. She’ll be playing catcher for the B team and filling in as needed on the other two teams. She was so excited on the day she found out that I thought she might explode. She’s now busy working towards spending my hard earned money on her own set of catcher’s gear. Even though her birthday isn’t until May, I think we’re going to call that purchase her birthday present!

IMG_9425_2 by you.Wednesday night I had a special date…with my oldest son. Actually, it was a double date.  Brad and his buddy, Joe have been friends since the first grade. Joe’s mom is one of my best friends as well as my coworker. The four of us went out for a night of dinner and bowling at the request of the boys. We had a great time!

Brad is leaving tonight to visit another friend who goes to school about an hour away from us. From there he’s going to go spend the rest of the weekend with his girlfriend and then it’s back to school again until Easter. I’m getting better about having to say goodbye to him when he leaves home, but sometimes it’s still hard to fight back the tears. Tonight is going to be one of those times that I can’t help but cry. I can just feel it. But I’ll try to wait until the door is closed behind him because I know he doesn’t like to see me in tears.

After our double date, we met up with the rest of the family and some other friends for a little “staycation” at a nearby hotel. We all spent the evening hanging out by the pool. The kids enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub and swimming. Later, we played some board games then fell asleep in some surprisingly comfortable beds. When we woke up in the morning, we all enjoyed a fabulous breakfast together at the restaurant next door.

I’m feeling a little sad about the kids all going back to school and returning to the usual routine. I so enjoy the relaxed atmosphere when they are on break. But in the big picture, I know it’s a good thing. Each day now brings us closer to the best months of the year. Soon my parents will be back from their winter home in Arizona, Jake will be graduating high school and Brad will be home for the entire summer. But for the moment, I’ll be thankful that I’ve made it to another weekend and remember that life is good!

Twenty Years

BradBaby by you.

Twenty years? How can that be?

How did I earn the privilege of being your mom? I’ve always wondered that from the moment I felt you growing inside of me. In the beginning I didn’t feel old enough. I didn’t feel that I’d learned enough or lived enough or gotten things right enough to be your mom. And yet, God gave me the privilege.

You’ve been such a gift to  me. You have always been such a beautiful person, inside and out. As you grew, I witnessed your charm and your deeply compassionate nature. There has always been a light inside of you. People can see it and they are drawn to you. You have always loved with every ounce of your being and to this day, I still can’t get enough of your bear hugs.

Too often, I dwell on the fact that you have grown up and out of my arms. I miss you so much sometimes. But deep down I know that you are right where you are supposed to be. You love life and embrace it with every ounce of your being. You are not afraid. You are on your way, ready to go where life leads you. This is exactly what I have always wanted for you. I love you, Brad. Happy Birthday.

 BradJanuary by you.

Life is Good – February 6, 2009

This week brought some good things my way…

Snow in the front yard by you.I’ve found the fountain of youth!

Not really. But I am in better shape than I thought earlier this week. My Wii Fit age has dropped dramatically from 58 years old when I did my first body test on Sunday to 36 years old on Thursday! (Sunday’s reading may have had a bit to do with being out the night before, a few beers and coming home at 1:30 am.) Quick explanation for those who were confused: The Wii Fit is a video “game” that is so technologically advanced that it weighs you, measures your BMI and provides you a virtual trainer to help you work out as often as you choose. Based on your body test, it provides you with your Wii Fit age, which estimates your level of fitness to be, for example, equivalent to a typical 58 year old. Since I am actually 42, not 58, I was NOT pleased with Sunday’s reading!

My perspective about my job has improved drastically. After all my worrying recently, I was greeted with enough work to light my hair on fire at times this week and I loved every minute of it. The hours passed quickly and I felt more productive than I have in a long time.

Speaking of work, I’ve realized how lucky I am to work with a group of people who get along so well together. My coworkers make the office a place that I actually look forward to going most days. Shannon, in particular, is the one who sits closest to me and we bounce ideas off each other constantly. In the past year I have come to value Shannon not only as a coworker but as a friend I can really talk with. Our work is often interspersed with fun and laughter. She informed me earlier this week that she was visiting with our boss and told her that if there are any future plans for rearranging of the office that she and I are NOT to be separated. She also told me that she didn’t like it when I took the day off last Wednesday and she would appreciate if I would coordinate my days off with hers from now on. What a huge compliment to know that she values me the same way I value her.

The virus that visited our house over the past couple of weeks seems to have gone on its way. Kacey and Mark are both feeling better and I think Jake and I dodged the bullet. (Knock on wood!)

The sunshine made several appearances again this week.  I do love me some sunshine! The air was warmer, the ice on my running path melted, the pavement is dry again and I was able to get a good run in which always recharges my batteries. And the best part? There’s more sun in store for the weekend!

Happy weekend, all!

Life is Good – January 30, 2009

I’ve been really selfish lately. I’ve had the nerve to become frustrated with my job. I thought my frustration was justified because I really love my job. I’ve been frustrated because business is slow. I like to be busy. I love to be challenged and I get a rush from solving problems. And I made the mistake of forgetting how profoundly fortunate I am to have a job at all. My eyes have been opened to this fact several times this week. So many are struggling right now. To be employed is a gift and one I won’t make the mistake of taking for granted again.

I took Wednesday off this week and still had my usual Thursday off too. My daughter ended up coming down with a virus and stayed home from school both days. I felt bad that she was so miserable, but loved having the chance to be home with her and pamper her. I don’t often get to do that anymore, and being teenagers, my kids don’t necessarily need me to dote on them. But I’m pretty sure they don’t mind and I love it.

I realized this week how blessed I am to have such good kids. They don’t get in a lot of trouble and don’t cause me a lot of worry in regards to their social activities. While at a basketball game this week, I noticed sitting on the opposing team’s side of the gym some of my daughter’s former classmates from the Catholic school she used to attend. One of them looked like the poster child for teenage promiscuity. She was holding up a hand made sign intended to cheer on the team’s star player. It read, “Rob, father my children.” Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I would have found that funny a few years ago. Now, it just makes me sad to see that this is how so many girls think they need to behave in order to be popular. It makes me realize how lucky I am to have kids who are comfortable with themselves just as they are.

This doesn't do it justice by you.Finally, a simple pleasure. Last night the moon was shining bright as headlights on the interstate. It was GORGEOUS! I saw it as I walked to my car in the Target parking lot and I just stood for a moment next to my car, gazing at it and just feeling in awe. I tried to take a picture of it and of course this can’t even do it justice. I guess something that beautiful just can’t be captured. Like so many special things in life, you just have to appreciate it for the moment.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Life is Good – January 9, 2009

Snickers - YUM! by you.We’re knee deep in winter here. It’s getting hard to think positively. There is snow covering the ground for as far as the eye can see.  Underneath the snow there is ice. On top of the snow is a layer of grime. More snow is predicted in the days to come. It’s frigid. Even the sun seems hesitant to show its face these days. It is dark when I leave the house in the morning and it is dark again when I head home from work. There must be something good to say about winter…

Anyone?

Bueller?

*crickets*

Oooooh! …I know!

Mosquitoes! There is a noticeable absence of mosquitoes this time of year. I hate mosquitoes and the way they sneak up on you and take a bite, leaving you itching for days. I’m really glad the mosquitoes are gone. What else? Hmmm…Hey! There’s also not much chance of getting sunburned, so we’re saving lots of money not having to stock up on sunscreen. Also, if the freezer goes out, I won’t have to replace it right away. I can just open the back door and toss my frozen foods on the deck. And then there’s sweating. No one really likes to sweat all that much, do they? We are definitely not sweating here. Not a whole lot of B.O. this time of year. And hey! Here’s a bonus! It’s too cold for Neighbor Bob to hang out in his driveway all day long, shirtless, which he likes to do a lot when the weather is warm. Neighbor Bob’s driveway is straight across from my front window. Ever seen a sixty-some year old guy shirtless? It’s not pretty. So, yeah. In many ways, winter is making my life so much easier. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Seriously though, in spite of my growing disdain for winter and it’s tendency to make me feel depressed… which I hate,  I still have much for which to be grateful. Like…

….time with my son. It’s been so nice having Brad home from school the past few weeks. He goes back to school this weekend and I’m really going to miss him. I love that he spent the day with me yesterday on my day off and let me take him to lunch. (Like I had to twist his arm to do that!) 

…a really amazing church service last weekend.

…a good chiropractor. My relationship with the back-cracker is truly on the up and up, despite what the other day’s post might have insinuated. My back and neck were really in bad shape this week and I have felt so much better since getting adjusted.

…a husband who took a night off work and then spent the next day – his free day – and did all the laundry and grocery shopped so that I could enjoy my day off and not have to do some of my most hated chores.

…winter clearance sales! Have check-card, will spend! WOO-HOO!

…a burst of inspiration during the quiet morning hours yesterday. I have been wanting to do something with this desire to write but have felt completely lacking in both confidence and inspiration. But yesterday the ideas just started flowing and I started writing like crazy before they could slip away. What an amazing feeling and a great cure for the winter blues.

…online friends who make me laugh, inspire and motivate me.

Happy weekend, all! We’ve earned it!

Life is Good – January 2, 2009

LifeIsGoodCar by you.These holiday weeks have me all thrown off! I didn’t even realize it was Friday today and I almost forgot to do my weekly Life is Good post!

It’s been a relaxing week. I enjoyed a three day work-week again and am feeling so at peace. As much as I love my job, lately it has the tendency to make me feel overwhelmed and anxious. Another long weekend to just catch up at home is just what I needed.

I love the fact that I’ve been able to spend some time with my kiddos during the daytime hours. Brad has a new girlfriend (his first serious girlfriend) and brought her home to meet the family and spend a few days with us. She’s a sweetheart of a girl and I’m happy that he’s found someone who makes him happy. (Not to mention, she’s a total cutie! My boy has good taste!)

The weather has been frustrating, but I’m determined not to let it make or break my attitude. Lately, if it’s not snowing here, then the temperatures are below zero.  I’m still getting outside to run whenever possible and it helps keep the winter blues at bay. This morning it was zero degrees. ZERO! I went out anyway just for a short run. I didn’t feel the need to push myself since I went out yesterday too. I ran across one other brave soul and seeing her helped alleviate the feeling that I’m completely crazy.

I am grateful for the start of a new year. Even though January 1st is technically just another day, for me it is a chance to assess myself and figure out what works and what doesn’t. As I looked back on the past year, I noticed that I had almost unintentionally been spreading my wings a bit during the last six months and I liked it! I feel like I’ve spent a lot of years just sitting in limbo, accepting that whatever will be will be. Pushing myself to new limits has made me feel free and alive. It’s definitely something I plan to do more of.

I also just realized that I have now been blogging for two years! I am so grateful for all of the friendships I have formed and all of the avenues that have been opened to me through this hobby. Blogging has introduced me to so many phenomenal, inspirational and generous people. I wouldn’t give it up for the world!

And with that, I think I’ll cut it short and enjoy a rare day with the entire family. Happy weekend all!