Coming to a city near us

All last weekend, it felt like my family was in the movie “Madagascar”  because our theme song was “Move It.”

I felt like King Julian, that crazy ol’ lemur in the movie who sings “I like to move it, move it.  She likes to move it, move it.  He likes to move it, move it.  You like to…MOVE IT!”

blogDSCN7913If you follow my blog, you know that I’m not fond of flying anymore.  But in the interest of time, I boarded that magic silver jetliner which transported hubby, middle daughter, and me to the Deep South last Friday for a mission – to help oldest daughter move back to our home state, to the city near us.  [happy dance here]

We arrived safely (no problems or delays) in her southern city late Friday night.  Oldest daughter and boyfriend (aka BF) picked us up at the airport and whisked us off to her apartment, which was in various stages of disarray with moving boxes, suitcases, packing tape, etc.

A crew of daughter’s work friends arrived early Saturday morning and after a hearty breakfast from Chick-fil-A, (I’ve never eaten chicken in a biscuit for breakfast before, but it was good!), we started loading up the U-Haul truck for the trek back home.  MOVE IT!

I watched with tears in my eyes as oldest daughter hugged her friends goodbye and they had a crying moment.  I find moving is always bittersweet – sad because you leave good friends and memories behind, yet exciting as you venture on to a new chapter in your life.

blogDSCN7914All loaded and locked down, apartment cleared out and cleaned, we left the city oldest daughter has called home for the last four years with a caravan  – MOVE IT! – hubby and I in the U-Haul, daughters and BF in oldest daughter’s car, to our destination stop for the night.

BF’s gracious parents invited us to stay at their home, which also gave us the opportunity to finally meet them.   We were treated to showers, comfortable beds, and a delectable breakfast the next morning and the joy of meeting daughter’s boyfriend’s wonderful family.

Joining us were BF’s sister and brother-in-law who offered to travel back home with us to help unload.  What a blessing they were!  We packed our overnight cases once again, climbed in the vehicles, and hit the road.  This time we had us a convoy with the truck, daughter’s car, and BF’s car.  MOVE IT! 

blogDSCN7916After our several hours long trip, we arrived in the city near us where we unloaded some of daughter’s furniture and belongings in the apartment she will soon share with middle daughter and her roommate.   MOVE IT!

Since middle daughter will move out of the apartment next spring when she marries fiancé, we decided to take advantage of the U-Haul and move some of her furniture to – you guessed it – our basement for storage.  So once again, we loaded the truck with a few pieces of middle daughter’s larger furniture mixed in with the rest of oldest daughter’s belongings to store.  MOVE IT!

By this time, old mom and dad were starting to drag from all the physical exertion,  long nights, early mornings, not to mention all the hours of driving.   Our little caravan headed to our home in the country, where all of us (7 humans and oh, did I mention a CAT?) were so relieved and happy to be out of the vehicles.

But the task wasn’t over yet.  MOVE IT!  After dinner, we still had to unload the truck and cart all of middle daughter’s furniture, some of oldest daughter’s furniture, and all her boxes of stuff to be stored into our basement.  By then, it was dark, a little rainy, it was late, and hubby needed to return to work the next day.  Oldest daughter also needed to arise early in the morning to attend orientation for her new job in the city.  MOVE IT!

The next morning, Dad and Daughter left for work, and the rest of us lounged a bit, but not long because after breakfast, BF and his sister and bro-in-law needed to be on the road again back to their home.  MOVE IT!

After everyone departed, my move it energy depleted, I couldn’t move it if I tried.  I confess I spent the afternoon on the couch in dreamland and after a 3-hour nap(!), I realized middle daughter was conked out as well.

The only creatures at our house who seemed to be ready to move it were the two cats (ours and oldest daughter’s), but that’s another story for another day.  Today in Chapter 9, Page 15, in my book of Opportunity, I’m so grateful God granted us safe travel.  And I’m elated He provided a new job for oldest daughter in the city near us.  I will cherish the couple of weeks that she stays here with us in the empty nest until she moves into the city apartment.

But I’m still feeling the effects of ‘moving it’ so I’m headed for the couch…again.  If you’re feeling the urge to ‘MOVE IT,’ please don’t call me.  Right now, I don’t like to move it, move it, no matter how much King Julian’s little ditty usually makes me want to dance.

Copyright  ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Labor of love

Meet Cutehead

Meet Cutehead

You may have noticed Mama’s been mum again lately.  This mama’s been too busy to blog, bogged down with a bevy of tasks. 

Baffled by bedrooms, I’ve bandied items around the basement, and now that I’ve burst through the barricade, I’m happy to report I’m breathing easy again.

Usually here at the empty nest, there’s not much astir.  But just as surely as the cool wind and rain brought a change to the season – temps drastically dropped down the thermometer from 90’s to 60’s today! – change arrives soon at the nest too.

Oldest daughter is moving back to the homeland from that place down south.  She’s commencing a new chapter with a new job in the city near us.  And can I just say that I am ecstatic that she will be nearby once again?  Until she gets situated though, daughter will move in temporarily with the ‘rents.

So you know what that means?  Mama and Papa have been shoving and pushing and cleaning and purging to make room for daughter’s kit and caboodle.   First we tackled the basement to make room for storage of some furniture – didn’t we just do that not so long ago? Click  I Declare War if you missed that one.

Next project was oldest daughter’s bedroom.   Along with the empty nest syndrome, parents of certain age fall victim to another malady called SOE (Spread Out Everywhere).   Since that room possessed a somewhat empty closet (well, don’t look on the top shelves at the Barbies, books, and Girl Scout mementos), Papa and Mama took over the closet space with extra clothes, extra pillows, mementoes and pictures…and stuff.

That situation required remedy since daughter needs closet space while she stays here.  Solution?  Just move everything over to other daughter’s closet….no wait…can’t do that, there’s a wedding gown, wedding decorations, and a miscellany of other items belonging to middle daughter there.

No problem.  Let’s just open up son’s closet….oh dear.  Why does that young man have so many items of clothing still hanging in here?  Not to mention, shoes, backpacks, 9th grade framed artwork from an art show, AND Papa’s suits (SOE, I tell ya!).   Pushing and shoving and squeezing uncovered enough room to transfer some items over there.

Time to address the chest of drawers.  Good grief, each of the five drawers is full of extra sheet sets, blankets, etc.   Now to where shall we divert this stuff?

All of this labor finally completed on Labor Day (Chapter 9, Page 5, in my Opportunity book) uncovered a plethora of paraphernalia and pleasant memories:

  • 16 gowns including bridesmaids’ dresses from weddings past, Christmas dance formals, Prom finery, and one 34-year-old wedding gown (that one is mine).
  • 6 high school and college graduation gowns.
  • Assorted college textbooks.
  • 3 high school letter jackets still adorned with pins for each sport (track, cross country, soccer, and basketball) and year won.
  • Stuffed animals with special significance (Rocky 2, Cutehead – that’s him grinning in the picture – and various other friends).
  • 1 lonely pair of Eeyore slippers strangely out of place next to the pairs of glittery, spike heels from aforementioned formal events.
  • 1 Science of Scent perfumery set (oldest daughter wanted to be a scientist from early age).
  • Childhood books galore, Barbies, and an array of special dolls.
  • Keepsake gifts given to our three as babies.

So what do we do with it all?  For now, it’s crammed into whatever space we could find and waiting – just as it has for years – to be surveyed, sorted, saved, or shed by its owners, our three adult children.

But that labor of love will remain for another day.

©2011mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Running away

blogvacation2“We run away all the time to avoid coming face to face with ourselves.” ~Author Unknown

For a good portion of this middle-aged empty nest Mama’s life, I couldn’t wait to get back home.

And now that I am home, I occasionally think about running away.  Get outta town!  Really??

We often use the phrase ‘get outta town’ when we don’t believe a whopper of a story someone tells us.  You just saw a Martian walking down Main Street?  Get outta town!  Bigfoot’s camping out in your back yard? Get outta town! You just won $10 million in the lottery?  Get outta town!

You feel like selling your house and moving? Get outta town! Most people who know me well would be shocked to hear me admit that sometimes I think about that very thing.  They know I waited so long to finally move back to my home state and stay put in one spot for a change.

See, for many years, Mama’s family was on the move due to hubby’s job changes and re-locations.  We managed through four moves in the first seven years of our marriage and three moves in the next eight years.  After six years, we made the biggest move of all – from one coast of our country to another.

And we’ve succeeded in planting ourselves firmly back here in the homeland for almost 13 years.  So why this sudden urge to run away from home?  I have no idea where this goofy idea is coming from.

The other night, too bushed to blog, I mindlessly surfed the net when an internet article caught my attention in a big way.  The site listed real estate offerings in other states, and I started perusing them.

“Oh, look hubby, want to move to South Carolina?  We could buy this house for [insert listing price here].  Or here’s a foreclosure on a new house in [such and such place] Georgia.”   He answered, “Sure,” probably just to jolt me back to reality.

Just for fun I started inserting various cities in the search engine and scrutinized listings hither and yon, which for some reason fueled a burst of enthusiasm and excitement in me.  That’s why I’m examining my motives today.  Part of me just wants to run away somewhere new like in the Carrie Underwood song, “Get Out of This Town.”

Is my urge to flee stemming from boredom?  Could it be I’m weary of the weather?  Or the colorless scene outside my window?  Or am I just looking for an escape from the trials of life?

My mother was a very wise woman.  She often said that you could never run away from your problems because no matter where you ran to, your problems would always follow you there.  That was one piece of her advice that I always chose to listen to.

I think that’s why I possess a strong determination to “just deal” with life’s problems as they come. Stick it out, persevere, work your way through it.  That’s me.  I like to imagine I’ve inherited this from my father as well whose family ancestry’s motto is “Never Despair” but perhaps the reality of it is that I’m just too stubborn to surrender.

So I guess I won’t be running away from home after all on this third page of Chapter 3 in Opportunity.  Although I certainly could use a little trip away from the bland and bleak scenery outside my window….somewhere warm, but not too hot….somewhere green where the sun spreads radiance and balminess…somewhere.

“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” ~James Thurber

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Leap of Faith

blogDSCN7146The unknown lies before you, a deep chasm of uncertainty.  You teeter on the edge, undecided.  And then from somewhere deep inside, you gather the courage you need.  And you make the leap – a leap of faith.

People talk about making leaps of faith all the time – there are books, movies, and songs with the title.  You often hear Christians use that phrase or “stepping out in faith” when describing a time they fully relied on God.  One thing I know for certain, it’s way easier to talk about making a leap of faith than it is actually leaping.

Faith can be defined as an unquestionable belief or having complete trust.  In my guidebook for life, the Bible, an entire chapter in the book of Hebrews tells us about faith.  In Chapter 11:1, faith is defined this way, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

The entire chapter paints pictures of Old Testament ancients who by faith accomplished tasks God placed before them.  Leaps of faith that I claim to make can’t compare to the staggering amount of faith Noah summoned or the absolute faith Abraham possessed when commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac.  When I contrast my moments of stepping out in faith to their faith, I think my own leaps are really more like short hops.  But that still doesn’t make a leap of faith simpler, easier, or less scary.

When hubby and I decided to move back to our home state, we experienced our own “leap of faith” moment.  The circumstances were amazing; I thought that then and now over a decade later, I still think so.  After living in the Pacific Northwest for six years, the Lord taught me to be contented where He placed us.  Shortly afterwards, my husband encountered the third downsizing in his company, only this time the company was sold and he lost his job.

Our church family upheld us in fervent prayer, and God graciously provided employment with a local company.  However, the new occupation was a permanent position in that city, which meant no more relocations or moving due to promotions.  At the time, we were just extremely thankful that hubby gained employment and didn’t ponder the ramifications of remaining in the Pacific Northwest for the rest of our working lives.

One day a friend and I conversed about our parents, especially the failing health of hers.  I expressed how blessed she was that she lived near her folks and could care for them, and I remarked how living a great distance from my own aging parents and hubby’s elderly mother was difficult.  My friend bluntly asked me, “Why are you here?”  Her question stymied me for a bit, but I replied that hubby’s job was the reason.

“So?” she again prodded.  “Is that it? That’s why you’re here, a job?” Profound truth unfolded in those simple words; I contemplated it all day, stewing over her forthrightness.  I wondered why her words struck and jolted me like a lightning bolt.  Later, I reiterated my friend’s comments to my husband and asked him if we were committed to remaining where we were.  He looked astonished at my question and then acknowledged he’d been thinking over the exact same issue.

A snowball of truth became an avalanche.   As we discussed and prayed, it seemed God was showing us it was time to go home.  Knowing we wrestled with this life-changing decision, a faithful prayer warrior friend shared that she was praying we would understand God’s direction for us clearly in simple “child-like” terms.

One Sunday afternoon middle daughter started chatting about church that day.   She told me about Sunday School posters she’d seen that demonstrated how God answers prayer – one poster showed why no was the answer, one portrayed waiting for the Lord’s timing. Then she described the last poster which illustrated a little girl praying that her family could live beside her grandparents.  This time God’s answer was yes.  I almost dropped the dish I was drying!

After asking her if the posters had just been displayed that morning, she answered negatively; the posters had been there a long time.  So why did she choose to tell me about them now?  She just shrugged her shoulders.  But I knew the Lord had used a simple poster and my daughter to show us His direction.

The decision to move back to our home state was one not to be made lightly.  Our family included three children – two teenagers and a 10-year-old – and this could be a difficult change for them.  We faced so many unknowns: could my husband find a job there, could we afford to use savings to move our household all the way across the country, how long could we live on savings if he didn’t secure a job immediately, could we sell our house, would our kids adjust, were we crazy?

We were certain God’s hand led us to the decision, and that He was asking us to trust Him completely.  Not long after prayerfully making the decision to leap into the unknown, circumstances lined up unbelievably.  Job headhunters contacted my husband about employment opportunities in our home state. Our neighbors purchased our house, so we didn’t even have to list it on the real estate market.

My elderly mother-in-law’s health was making her feeble so it became very apparent she needed us.  Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and we knew undeniably God was calling us to move home.  One afternoon, I recall standing in my kitchen crying aloud with thankfulness, lifting my hands in praise to my all sovereign Lord because my husband had been granted a promising job interview the day after we were due to arrive back in our home state.

Hubby resigned from his job, we hired a moving company to move us across the country, and we started a journey that felt like an incredible leap of faith.  It was not an easy road.  The prospective job evaporated due to that company’s downsizing.  Hubby was unemployed for a few months, but that enabled us to spend time with his mother.  With no job, hubby was free to attend to her needs, spend time with her.  Shortly after he secured new employment, my sweet mother-in-law passed away.

Plans to build a home on my parents’ property so we would be next door to them and available when they needed us also fell apart as the ground would not pass a necessary soil test for septic purposes.  My own mother’s cancer treatments were not going well, and we received the news that her disease was terminal.  Four months after we buried my mother-in-law, I helplessly watched my dear beloved mother’s losing battle with cancer end when she passed away too.  After several more months of not finding a house to purchase, we finally found land on which to build our own home.

I am reminded that even though the saints of the Old Testament demonstrated unfailing faith as they completed God’s work, not all of them experienced immediate triumph over their circumstances.  But every one of them was blessed by God for their faith.  Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

God loved and cared for my family so immensely that He carried us through our leap of faith — in both the highs and the lows — and I am so thankful.  As we leapt, no matter what happened, even when life didn’t turn out the way we hoped or planned, we knew with absolute faith that He would not let us fall.  He carried us over the chasm of uncertainty with His mighty hands, taught us all a lesson in faith, and anchored us on firm ground – the Rock of our salvation, His Son Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”   I like that quote because I believe God not only sees the whole staircase, He designed it and planned it.  I think He expects us to take one step at a time and trust Him completely each time we take the next step and the next and the next…..

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Home Sweet Home, Part III

 [Blogger’s Note:  If you haven’t already done so, please read my Who Am I (intro) post and Part I and Part II in my Home Sweet Home series prior to reading this post.]

“There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Image via freefoto.com

The circumstances that brought my family back to my homeland were extraordinary.   I plan to write about those circumstances later —  please look for that post, it will be titled Leap of Faith.

It absolutely seemed too good to actually be true. My family was moving back across the country to my husband’s and my home state, more specifically, my home town.  Our house was sold, unnecessary belongings purged or unloaded at a garage sale, and the remaining furniture and household goods packed once again onto a moving van.

Our cross-country journey was about to commence. Two parents, each driving a car, with three kids divided between us, traveled five days to finally arrive back home.  As each day drew us closer, I longed to view my home.

“Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.” ~ Robert Montgomery

I must describe home to you so you can understand what it meant to me.  The house that I called my home was the house in which my parents lived.  It’s not remarkable as far as houses go.  It’s a very old, simple two-story white frame house sitting on almost four acres of beautiful green expanse which my father tended faithfully and turned into a lush carpet worthy of golf course status.  There are maple and apple trees, a grapevine, and my mother nurtured an abundant vegetable garden and beautiful flower beds.  Mom took pride in her home and it was always well-decorated, well-kept and well-loved.

The remarkable aspect of my home is that it had been in our family since the year 1882 when my great-grandmother bought it from its original owner.  A real estate appraiser actually found an earlier deed for the house dating back to 1870, so the original part of the house has existed for 140 years and for 128 of those, it belonged to my family.

My father was born in that house.  When his mother passed away, my father purchased the house and moved my mother’s parents there to live.  So both sets of my grandparents resided in that house at different times.  When my mother’s parents needed care, my parents, along with my middle sister and me, moved into the house with them.

From the time I was seven, that house was my home.   My childhood memories are enmeshed with it.  I lovingly remember my grandparents living with us, even though I was only nine the year they both passed away.  I remember smelling the aroma of freshly baked bread when I came home from school and freshly baked cookies and pies when I came home from college for Christmas vacation.  I remember lying in bed on summer nights before air-conditioning and the smell of freshly cut grass wafting through my open windows. I remember the crunchy sound and nutty odor of fall leaves as I walked to the school bus stop.

I remember shivering in the summer evening coolness while conversing with my mother on the front porch swing.   I remember the time it snowed so much, we couldn’t open the door; my father had to nudge it open an inch or two at a time, brushing away snow with a broom, before we could get out of the house.   I remember leaving home for college, and leaving again to live in my first apartment, and again when I married my true love.

I remember bringing my first-born home from the hospital to this house while her daddy was stationed in the military on the other side of the world.   I remember all three of my children being happy and excited to travel “home” to Grandma and Grandpa’s house during all those years we lived far away.

Some of the most treasured moments of my life occurred in that simple, white frame house. To me, that house signified warmth, comfort, family and love.

Wikipedia.com relates other thoughts about home:  “Since it can be said that humans are generally creatures of habit, the state of a person’s home has been known to physiologically influence their behavior, emotions, and overall mental health.  Some people may become homesick when they leave their home over an extended period of time. Sometimes homesickness can cause a person to feel actual symptoms of illness.  It has been argued that psychologically the strongest sense of home commonly coincides geographically with a dwelling. Usually the sense of home attenuates as one moves away from that point, but it does not do so in a fixed or regular way.”

For all those years I lived away from home, I evidently was homesick, and no matter how many years passed, those feelings remained.  “You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world, but a world lives in you.” ~ Frederick Buechner

The world that lived in me was centered around home.  Coming back there to live meant the world to me, even though we would face trials and difficulties.   In the first eight months of living there, we lost both my mother-in-law and my mother.  We searched for a home to call our own, and a year and a half after we moved there, we finally purchased a farmer’s field on which to construct our own house.

At last, I thought, we’re going to own our own home at home!

(Please come back tomorrow for the final installment of my Home Sweet Home series.)

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Home Sweet Home, Part II

[Blogger's Note:  If you haven't already done so, please read my earlier "Who Am I" intro post and Part I in my Home Sweet Home series prior to reading this post.]

Image via freedigitalphotos.net

The time seemed right.  After a tour of duty overseas and another year stateside, hubby was ready to resign from military life.

We were enthusiastic and relieved when he landed a job as a sales representative with a national company.  After two weeks training, he was assigned a position in a Midwestern city.  It wasn’t home, but it was a bit closer to home.

We purchased our first very own house in the suburbs, nested pretty well there, and two more little additions, middle daughter and son, were added to our family during the time we lived in that house.  Soon we outgrew our smaller abode, so we searched for a larger one in a suburb farther from the city, happily sold our older house, and snagged a new one under construction.

We resided in the new place for a couple of years and even though we chose the carpeting, paint and wallpaper, and we had many happy memories there, it still didn’t feel quite like home. But we were content; we belonged to a wonderful church, where we felt like family; we had amazing friends, great neighbors and lots of activities and opportunities in which to volunteer.

We moved from the Midwest (with me kicking and screaming inside my head) to the Pacific Northwest when my husband received a job promotion and relocation.  I was comfortable in the Midwest where we had lived for eight years, and it was a drivable distance to our home state from there, so I really did not want to leave.

In my heart and mind, I had hoped and prayed for hubby’s job relocation to take us nearer home, not further away.   So the day he announced a promotion and subsequent move to the west coast, I was shell-shocked.  Instead of moving closer to our home state, we were heading in the opposite direction!   One of my friends consoled me with this statement, “Well, look at it this way.  You can’t move any farther west; you’ll fall into the ocean!”  Some consolation.

Moving that far away from home felt like I was falling into the ocean!  It loomed huge and overwhelming in front of me, but for the sake of my children, I outwardly treated the move like a big adventure.   I strived diligently to discuss it in a positive manner so my children would embrace a healthy attitude about the upcoming upheaval.

Still it unnerved me to watch that gigantic moving van drive away from our Midwestern home with our entire household and our car loaded on it! With just our suitcases, we boarded a plane and flew to our new home on the West coast.  Despite my trepidation, the move did prove positive.

We settled nicely into a new house in a great neighborhood with an excellent school for our children, found a welcoming body of believers who quickly became like family, met life-long friends, and traveled up and down the Pacific Coast absorbing sights and places we never would have experienced if we had stayed in the Midwest.

But I never lost my yearning to go home.   T.S. Eliot wrote “Home is where one starts from” –  and in my heart that was utter truth. I may have left my home behind, but home had never left my heart.

At some point, I engaged in a Bible study with a godly woman younger than me in age, but sometimes wiser.  Every week we discussed contentment and God taught me a tremendous amount about that subject.  I intend to write a blog post sometime in the near future sharing what I learned during that time.

I prayed often for God to help me latch onto the security of being content where He planted me.  A contented man is one who enjoys the scenery along the detours,someone once said, and I desired that.  However, I still tightly clutched the thought that the detours would surely lead me home where I would attain that long-sought-after contentment.

The Lord had other plans for us.  He kept us in the Pacific Northwest for six years.  Trips home were rationed to every other year because flying cross country for a family of five was expensive.  Job downsizing threatened hubby three times and the third time, my husband lost his job, but God amazingly provided a new one.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it occurred, but I finally learned to be satisfied where God had planted us.  My husband and I traveled further in our walk of faith when God took us the farthest from home.  The area’s gorgeous scenery was awe-inspiring, but believers in Christ a minority there, so we quickly learned to be strong in our beliefs and to fully rely on the God who truly supplied all our needs.

And when I, in particular, learned that lesson, God showed me it was time to go home.

[Please come again tomorrow for the next installment in my Home Sweet Home series.]

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Home Sweet Home, Part I

[Blogger's Note: You might like to read yesterday's post "Who Am I" before you begin my series, Home Sweet Home.  The earlier post explains why I chose to write this series.]

Image via freedigitalphotos.net

There’s an old saying, “Home is where the heart is.”  I’ve been wrestling with the concept of “home” lately.

In the last few months, my dreams have been consumed with either homes in which I have previously lived or my childhood home.

In the span of a week’s time, I probably dream about home three or four times, and those are the dreams I remember.  The perplexing part about this is I am home.

Here’s how Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, defines home:  “A home is a place of refuge, comfort.  It is usually a place in which an individual or a family can rest and be able to store personal property…As an alternative to the definition of “home” as a physical locale, home may be perceived to have no physical definition — instead, home may relate to a mental or emotional state of refuge or comfort.  There are certain cultures in which members lack permanent homes, such as with nomadic people.” 

You could hardly call my family nomadic, but we did endure a few years of wandering to different parts of our country due to my husband’s job relocations.  Over a decade ago though, we moved back to my hometown area.  Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Ed Pearce once wrote, “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”  That sums it up quite nicely for me.

After our marriage, my husband and I resided in a southwestern state where he was stationed in the military.  Moving away from home back then was an exciting adventure.  Newlyweds striking out on our own, we attached a small U-Haul trailer to hubby’s car and filled it with our pristine wedding gifts and a few other belongings to drive half-way across the country.

We located a furnished (didn’t worry about such things as bed bugs!) one-bedroom apartment.  We were blessed to have family (my oldest sister’s family) live about two hours away from us, but it still wasn’t home.

The broad expanse of never-ending plains with few trees, fewer hills, scrub brush, and cactus proved foreign to us.  The heat and unrelenting sun driving up temperatures up to triple digits for much of the summer, dust storms and threats of tornadoes, sightings of armadillos, scorpions, and tarantulas didn’t comply with my view of home either, but we were newlyweds living out a new escapade.

We placed our names on the military post housing list and waited for a unit to become available.  By that time we had acquired some furniture, were settled into our jobs, and felt prepared for our first house, even though it wasn’t our house.

We excitedly moved into officer’s quarters on post where we had plenty of space for the two of us and our cat.  Hubby gained a small yard to mow, his first experience at lawn maintenance since he grew up in a city row house without a blade of grass in his “yard.”  The house, of course, belonged to Uncle Sam, so it didn’t really feel like home.  Home remained that place from where I came.

After a few years, hubby received orders for an unaccompanied tour to a foreign country and shortly afterwards, we discovered we were going to be parents for the first time.  The thought of bringing our first child into the world alone made me pine for home all the more.  So I moved back with my parents while hubby flew to the other side of the world for an entire year.  Home became more entrenched in my heart since that’s where our first child, oldest daughter, was born.

Back to the southwest we migrated again when hubby returned from his tour of duty.  We lodged in temporary housing until a house on post became available for us.  This time, we only lived there for one year.

And even though we celebrated our daughter’s  first birthday and Christmas reunited as a family there and we were blessed with great friends, neighbors, and the community camaraderie military life provides, I still couldn’t call it home.

Another journey awaited our little family – hubby, oldest daughter, and me – as we set out for a new home and left military life behind.

[This post is the first in a four-part series.  Please check back tomorrow for the next installment.]

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

I Declare War!

blogDSCN0197You know that near-empty room in my house…middle daughter’s bedroom after she moved out last week?  Yeah, that one.

It’s not empty any more.  The other day I embarked on a mission to clean that room, and I’m a little ashamed to admit that a fully clothed bed and a refinished antique dresser now occupy that previously empty space. 

Hubby visited the basement and emerged with an extra bed that we just “happened” to have stored down there.  We moved the dresser over from another smaller bedroom that…wait for it….had too much furniture in it.

If you’re reading this blog, you know by now this is Mama’s “Empty” Nest.  Well, mama’s nest apparently may be empty of people but unequivocally is not empty of people’s stuff!  

Too much stuff!

You may have heard of a honky-tonk music singer-songwriter named Delbert McClinton.  Ten years ago or so, he released an album with a catchy little tune called “Too Much Stuff” on it.   Some of the song lyrics go like this:
“Well, it’s way too much.
You’re never gonna get enough.
You can pile it high
but you’ll never be satisfied.”

“Yeah, too much stuff.  Too much stuff.
Too much stuff. Too much stuff.
You never get enough ’cause there’s just too much stuff.
You know you can hurt yourself, fooling with too much stuff.
Yeah, it’ll tear you down, fooling with all that stuff.”

No kidding!  Delbert, did you sneak into my house when I wasn’t looking?  Now honestly, I truly do not want more stuff.  So I’m not trying to satisfy my inner child or something by acquiring more stuff to pile high like the song says.  On the contrary, I’m trying to eliminate most of this stuff! 

And the fact that I can furnish an empty bedroom in less than a day from stuff already in my house just doesn’t make me whistle a happy tune, no matter how catchy it is.   Sorry, Delbert.  Having three different choices of comforters to dress up that bed should have been my first clue that “Houston, we’ve got a problem here.”

So let’s take inventory.  Oldest daughter “moved out” a few years ago.  So why is some of her stuff, including formal dresses and little boxes full of who knows what,  still taking up residence in the smallest bedroom closet?  And why is there a moving box labeled “Daughter #1’s stuff” hogging floor space?   And shall we discuss her abandonment of that 7 foot long couch, small dinette table with two chairs,  and other assorted odds and ends in my basement?  Of course, we can’t find a good home for this lost and wayward furniture yet because son may need this stuff when he finally moves into a place of his own (more on that later).  

Too much stuff!

As you know, middle daughter moved out recently.  Of course, she left behind her childhood memorabilia, scrapbooks, pig collection, and reading books on the bookshelf.  But wait,  that’s not all!  When I slid open her closet door, a few hanging clothes waved hello to me, along with fancy shoes from some high school  prom or something or other, a pair of ratty old slippers, and more formal dresses. 

If I combined all the beautifully beaded and bespangled  prom and bridesmaid dresses hanging forgotten and forlornly in those two bedroom closets, I could have my own formal dress consignment shop!  On top of that, middle daughter’s closet shelves are still loaded and guess what’s lurking in my basement?  More of her belongings including college textbooks, microwave, and I can’t even speculate what else.

Too much stuff!

More inventory.  How shall I describe son’s bedroom?  For the most part, it looks like he still lives in there…somewhere.  Okay, I must be fair, right now he resides in temporary housing until he finds a place of his own over there in that state next door, so technically he has only moved some of his clothes and personal items out of our house.  That’s why his room is still full AND there are boxes and bins and storage containers and exercise and sports equipment and chairs and tools all belonging to son in the basement.

Too much stuff!

The problem as I see it is this middle age scenario in which hubby and I are held captive.  When you arrive at this magical age, the kids are moving out, but they only pack up what they want to take with them.  The rest of the junk – “Oh no, you can’t throw THAT away!”  — gets to hunker down at home and keep Mom and Dad company!

We’re like the cheese squeezed in the middle of the sandwich.  The bread on one side of the sandwich represents the kids and all their belongings.  [Yes indeed, we spent a lot of “bread” on all that stuff too!]  The bread on the other side represents the items you “inherit” from your parents when they pass away.  “Well, someone has to keep those things! Oh yes, we can certainly use this thingamajig and that whatchamacallit.”  So you wind up squeezed into a house – on matter how big it is — with everyone else’s stuff.

Too much stuff.

The daunting part is I’ve already been de-cluttering our house, donating items to charities and garage sales, cramming the trash bins full.  For two-thirds of our marriage, hubby and I moved around the country every few years. 

When you move a lot, you tend to purge your household and shed unwanted, unneeded items easier.  You know the old saying, “A rolling stone gathers no moss?”  Well, my saying used to be,  “A moving mama gathers no stuff!”  But not any more!

We’ve resided here the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere during our marriage. That’s 12 years of acquiring, accumulating, storing, inheriting, preserving, organizing, categorizing too much stuff!  And by the way, I haven’t even addressed hubby’s stuff yet.  Oh boy, that one’s going to be tricky!

Watch out all you stuff lurking in my basement, hiding in closets, lounging in the garage, burrowing in boxes.  Mama’s gearing up  for the three E’s:  expulsion, elimination, and eradication.  Too Much Stuff, you are forewarned; I’m throwing down the gauntlet.  Only one will reign triumphant and that’s gonna be me! 

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Moving Today with No Chance of Tears

blogDSCN6758Today was one of those bittersweet days, hectic and exciting new venture on one hand, with a smattering of poignant reflection as well.

I awakened this morning after relishing a full day of family gathering yesterday and realized today is the day ALL of my children are leaving my home once again.

After spending nearly a week at home with us, our oldest daughter needed to be “on the road again” early to travel back to the state where she resides.  It never gets any easier saying goodbye to her when she leaves, but I managed to be cheerful and not cry – okay I was also sleepy — as I enveloped her in my arms for that farewell hug.

She didn’t seem eager to leave, and I’m ever hopeful that she may seriously contemplate moving back home in a year or so.  Medical research is her field of work, and both her Dad and I attempted to convince her that a new job could await her right here in our nearby city.

Six years ago after her college graduation, this city is where she embarked on her employment journey, and I think the city would like to welcome her back.  So maybe she will move here….or at least to our home state….okay, I’d settle for a 5-6 hour drive away,  something a little more do-able than the almost 13 hours away where she lives now!

After oldest daughter’s departure, I had no time for feeling forlorn, which means I didn’t have time to cry.   Adventures in moving awaited, loading up second daughter’s furniture, clothes, and belongings for her move into her new place.

She works as a registered nurse, a B.S.N. actually, in one of the many hospitals in the city near us.   Her 40 plus minute — depending on traffic– commute was getting tiresome, especially after working 12 hour shifts, so she acquired an apartment in a handy location not far from her hospital.  Another plus gained is having a roommate, her long-time friend, so they can share expenses.

For her move today, we were blessed with a wonderfully sunny day with no chance of rain.   A little glitch with the rental truck actually became an advantage resulting in a larger truck for the same price as the smaller one she originally rented and getting $50 knocked off the cost to boot.   So I’ll just give a little shout out here –Go U-Haul.

But land o’ livin’ (as my grandma used to say) was that truck huge!  So we loaded up the truck, and she moved to…”Beverly…Hills that is.”  No, no,  just into the city.  Sorry that just popped into my head!  You need to be old enough to remember a TV show called “The Beverly Hillbillies” to catch that one!

Well, we had us a convoy into the city!  Daughter drove her car full of possessions with just enough room for Mama holding daughter’s prized dried flowers for safekeeping (which I dropped three times!); son drove behind us in my car loaded with this, that, and the other thing; and Dad brought up the rear position with the rest of the goods in that enormous rental truck.  Thankfully, our gracious Lord dropped another little blessing on us as hubby landed a parking spot for the monster truck on the street in front of daughter’s place.

Unloading the whole shebang was accomplished in record time because daughter’s boyfriend drove up to the city to meet us and help.  He’s a keeper!  Mama, however, was so occupied giving daughter’s new bedroom the once-over, that again I didn’t even have time to cry!

Let me first say, daughter’s roommate, who already lives there, had the rest of the place looking just grand.  But daughter’s room warranted a good cleaning!

That caretaker part of me sure does warp into control mode when my children move into rooms that are just not quite my standard of cleanliness and her new bedroom was definitely that.  In the past, I’ve spun into orbit when leaving my beloved ones in “not the cleanest” rooms, be they dorm rooms; college houses; temporary housing for internships; you get the drift.

My launching into a tizzy truly is ironic because the dust bunnies, cobwebs, dusty woodwork, dirty windows, and floor that needs mopped doesn’t bother me as much in my own home.  If you could take a peek at my house right now, you would probably exclaim, “That’s for sure!”

I guess it just comes down to our dust bunnies are comfortably fluffy, but someone else’s dust bunnies, not so cute and cuddly! So as best I could manage, daughter’s bedroom became presentable and the dust bunnies met a sudden death.

Hot, sweaty and weary, son, hubby and I departed in a hurry, which meant no time for crying, because husband did not want to be late for his jail ministry back at home and son also needed to hit the road for yon parts – a 6 hour drive to the state next door where he is launching his post-college career in mechanical engineering.

Back at home, hubby snatched his Bible and study notes and sprinted out the door.  Ever the mama, I packed son a “goodie” cooler while he grabbed some last-minute items, and he too headed out the door.

As I stood alone on our deck and watched my last child – I know he’s an adult man – walk away and get ready to climb into his new car, my son turned, searched my face, and asked, “Mom, are you going to be all right?”

“Oh I’m fine!”  I replied.

“Are you sure?” he countered.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be just fine,” I reassured him.

And I will be fine.   Maybe tomorrow.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.” ~William Shakespeare ~ Romeo and Juliet

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com