Tag Archives: family

Counting on My Fingers and Toes

Some of you old-timers may remember this post: From One to Ten.  With a little editing I’ve turned it into a song. Sorry, I pulled the audio off a video camera so the recording isn’t that great.

Counting on My Fingers and Toes

I once thought that ONE was enough.
Me by myself with only my stuff.
But I met a nice girl and love it was true.
We had a big wedding and then we were TWO.

We once thought that TWO was okay.
She and I hanging out every day.
But we drove by a sign that said, “kittens for free!”
We took home a kitten, and then we were THREE.

We once thought that THREE wasn’t bad.
There wasn’t anybody we wanted to add.
But then we decided to get one more.
A friend for our cat and then we were FOUR.

This is the story how my family goes.
Changing every day right under my nose.
Kinda like a flower living in the garden.
Sprinkle in some love and it grows and grows.

This is the story how my family goes.
How big we’ll get, well nobody knows.
For now I’ll just have to keep on counting.
Starting off small, getting bigger and bigger.
That’s how my family grows.

We once thought that FOUR was fine.
One cat was her’s and one cat was mine.
One day a beautiful baby arrived.
A sweet little girl, and then we were FIVE.

We once thought that FIVE was alright.
Though space was getting a little bit tight.
But we wanted to add one more to the mix.
Along came a boy and then we were SIX.

We once thought that SIX was nice.
Not a bird or a fish or a snake would entice.
Then we decided two dogs would be great.
We skipped over SEVEN and went straight to EIGHT.

This is the story how my family goes.
Changing every day right under my nose.
Kinda like a flower living in the garden.
Sprinkle in some love and that’s how it grows.

This is the story how my family goes.
How big we’ll get, well nobody knows.
For now I’ll just have to keep on counting.
Starting off small, getting bigger and bigger.
That’s how my family grows.

We once thought that EIGHT was plenty.
At least it was only eight and not twenty.
Then one of our dogs, she went up to heaven.
Suddenly we were back down to SEVEN.

We once thought that SEVEN was ample.
Add any more and we’d surely be trampled.
“I have two goats” said a friend of mine.
We took home the goats and then we were NINE.

We once thought that NINE was neat.
But something was missing to make us complete.
We all liked riding a horse now and then.
We got ourselves a horse and then we were TEN.

This is the story how my family goes.
Changing every day right under my nose.
Kinda like a flower living in the garden.
Sprinkle in some love and it grows and grows.

This is the story how my family grows.
Someday we may add more, I suppose.
For now I’ll just have to keep on counting.
But if we keep getting bigger and bigger.
I’ll be counting on my fingers and toes!

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The Tree of Life

Two years ago, just about this time in early October, I wrote a post called the Tree of Life and dedicated it to my son. It was on a day similar to today, the onset of autumn and days filled with deep, healing breaths of cool, crisp air and the beginning of falling leaves. I stood this morning in my kitchen, staring out the window, with a steaming cup of coffee in my hand and watched a leaf fall from the large Maple tree that sits outside our house. That same scenario, an autumn leaf falling from a tree was the spark that got me to my keyboard two years ago to produce what is one of my favorite posts on this site.

My kids both have milestone birthdays coming up in November. My son will turn thirteen and finally be a teenager and my daughter will turn “sweet sixteen”. I’m so proud of these kids and what they’ve become. Of course, what responsible, loving parent isn’t proud of every step forward their children make in life? But also, like many of you reading, years of guiding our kids in so many directions can take a deep toll on our levels of patience, understanding and compassion.

I’m not always at my most compassionate these days. My wife Kim used to say I had “the patience of Job”, whoever Job is… and she was right. I did and many days I still do. But I’m also a “You’re injured? Wrap a bandage around it and quit moaning”, kind of parent. Last evening my son was an absolute train wreck after weeks of seventh grade classes, daily football practices, Boy Scout events, and on top of that not feeling well. I wasn’t mean or angry with his “call for help”, but I certainly didn’t offer up what would have been most helpful; a strong hug from Dad and some therapeutic compassion. We got home about 8:30 pm and he laid down directly on the mattress of his unmade bed and was asleep in minutes.

Children are resilient little beasts and this morning, all was well again and he was mostly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as much as a twelve-year-old can be at 7:00 a.m. in the morning. Shortly after the kids left for school, I stood by that kitchen window, with my steaming cup of coffee and watched that leaf fall. It reminded me of my Tree of Life post and reinforced to me that although my kids may be rapidly approaching adult hood, they are still just kids who are trying to find their way in the world, trying to please their parents and teachers and friends and looking for guidance from the adults in their lives.

They are kids climbing the Tree of Life in search of that perfect autumn leaf that they can ride to bigger and better things. As adults and parents, we are that tree and though we often have to fight through the storms that life throws at us, it’s those storms that remind us, always in a most timely fashion, when to dig our roots in just a little bit deeper.

If you weren’t a follower back in 2011, here’s my story: The Tree of Life. I hope you enjoy it.

The Tree of Life

Once upon a time there was a tree.
And it grew in a beautiful place in the country.
The tree was tall and had deep roots and solid branches and green leaves.
And it was a proud tree.

One day a boy began climbing the tree.
And he knew that he wanted to climb until he reached the very top.
So the tree carefully guided him from branch to branch, higher and higher.
And the boy felt safe and loved.

The boy continued climbing the tree, a little higher every day.
And as the boy climbed the tree, the tree provided comfort and protection.
Its leaves gave the boy shelter, its branches gave the boy structure.
And its roots gave the boy a solid foundation to build on.

Then one day the boy finally reached the top of the tree.
He was excited and the tree was very proud of how far he had climbed.
But the tree knew that the time had come.
To let the boy go.

So the tree said to the boy.
“My leaves are changing colors and the wind is starting to blow.”
“Find the biggest leaf you see and climb on it and close your eyes.”
“And the wind will take you wherever you’re supposed to go.”

The boy looked to his right and to his left and up above and down below.
And finally, at the very, very top of the tree on the very highest branch.
The boy saw the most perfect leaf he had ever seen.
And he climbed onto the leaf and closed his eyes just as the tree had told him.

Soon the wind picked up and the boy could feel his leaf trembling.
He grabbed on with all his strength to be sure he wouldn’t fall.
And then he watched as the stem of his leaf began to break free.
From the tree that had nurtured him for so many years.

The boy was excited to be free and on his own.
And as the strong wind carried the leaf high up into the air like a magic carpet,
The boy turned around and waved goodbye to the tree.
And it was a proud tree.

Soon the boy was far enough away that he could no longer see the tree.
So he turned back around to watch where the wind might be taking him.
All around, the boy saw the amazing opportunities the world had to offer.
And he settled in for the ride of his life.

The wind carried the boy to mystical places and magical lands.
On exotic adventures and extraordinary challenges.
Through happiness and sadness and love and hate.
And wins and losses and successes and failures.

As the wind carried the boy he felt exhilaration and freedom.
He began to learn to control the leaf and take it where he wanted it to go.
And he grew and gained knowledge and insight and experience and wisdom.
And felt as if he could fly forever.

But eventually the boy grew weary and wished that his leaf would finally land.
And he remembered what the tree had said when he was first set free.
So he closed his eyes just as the tree had told him.
And the wind began to slow down and change directions.

When the boy opened his eyes, the wind had carried him back to the country.
There was the tree with its deep roots and solid branches and green leaves.
As the boy smiled at the tree, the wind blew one last burst.
And he landed safely right at the base of the trunk.

The boy was happy to finally be on the ground.
He knew that his leaf had fallen right where it was supposed to have fallen.
And when the tree looked down and noticed that the boy had grown into a man.
It was a proud tree.

For my son, who is climbing his own tree and will someday have to be let go.

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A Moment in Time

I’m sitting outside. It’s about 9:00 pm on Saturday night. A plastic cup of cheap wine by my side. The old boom box radio sings to me from just outside the barn. “Grassroots”, a bluegrass and roots music program is playing on NPR. We listen to it almost every Saturday night and again on Sunday mornings. A warm fire is burning in the firepit.

Nothing out of the ordinary except the usual heat of your average summer night has been pushed out by a cold spell. The temperature is in the 50’s and I sit here in long pants, a sweatshirt and stare beyond the fire to our apple tree, full of small yellow apples. I imagine the tree is wondering if it has somehow fallen behind and missed its growth season. I’m happy to see apples though, as the last two years have been very sparse.

Three of my four goats are grazing away, happy to have some human companionship outside but on this occasion not hovering around looking for their heads to be  scratched. Goats are extraordinarily affectionate creatures and it occurred to me today that I could never have imagined “farm animals” bringing me so much joy. Goat number four, Heath, is inside their barn. He is getting old and doesn’t get out as much as he used to. Like any animal, none of them will live forever and that thought saddens me, yet I am grounded knowing that we are providing them a comfortable lifestyle.

The corn field across Brown Road is being irrigated. I was annoyed this morning when the farm equipment woke me up, but now I’m soothed hearing the sound of water soaking the stalks. I hear the fsh, fsh, fsh, fsh, as the gigantic, prehistoric looking irrgation sprinkler fires out spray after spray of water, as if it is trying to keep beat with the upright bass that anchors the latest bluegrass tune on the radio.

Jonathan is inside. The girls tonight, out of town at a softball tournament. It seems like that’s the stage of life we are in, with something going on every weekend. “Divide and conquer” we like to say. You go here, I’ll go there and both kids will be happy having a parent around. He’ll come out  soon enough though and we’ll cook hobo pies on the fire before calling it quits for the night.

Though the girls are away, I’m happy to be home.  It’s peaceful tonight, a little rare, quiet, alone time. I worked around the yard a lot today, until my 45 year old back told me enough was enough. There’s something about physical work though that is rewarding. Sometimes I think it’s what we were supposed to do, before technology took it all away.

In contrast, I sit here and type on an iPad and wonder what I would do without it. The bright screen, the fire and the two security lights the only thing interrupting the total blackness of the night. Soon the bats will be out, circling the lights and getting their fill of insects.  Later tonight the coyotes will stand around in a circle, far away, but close enough that we’ll hear them howl and laugh as if celebrating a reunion of old friends. It’s dark now and everything around me has become a scene of outlines and shadows. The radio seems louder as if somehow it is disturbing the night solitude. But there’s nothing to disturb here, no one around, just me and the goats and the bats and lots of crickets and likely lots of other wildlife that I can’t see or hear.

The fire is dying now, so I will go put more wood on. Because this may be just a moment in time. But if I have any say in the matter, I’d like it to last just a little bit longer.

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A Noisy Old Place

My old house is a noisy old place…

Sometimes my house makes a whispy-whish-woo
When windows are open and winds blowing through
And sometimes my house makes a-rat-a-tat-tat
When rain’s pouring down on its roof like a hat

And sometimes my house makes a zoom-zooma-zoom
When it’s hot and there’s fans blowing air ‘round the room
And sometimes my house makes a crackity-pop
When it’s cold and the woodstove is burning non-stop

And sometimes my house make a ticka-tick-tock
When gears are wound tight on the grandfather clock
And sometimes my house makes a meepy-meep-beep
When alarm clocks go off and wake us from sleep

And sometimes my house makes a clump-a-dump-bump
When water gets pulled through the well by the pump
And sometimes my house makes a clinky-clink-clank
When hot water goes through the pipes from the tank

And sometimes my house makes an eeeky-squeak-creak
When stair steps are loose or the floor boards are weak
And sometimes my house make a thumpity-thump
When a cat on a windowsill chooses to jump

And sometimes my house makes a gushy-gish-gush
When stuff in the toilet goes down with a flush
And sometimes my house makes a gurgly-goo
When stuff in the toilet can’t make it quite through

And sometimes my house makes a whesha-whish-whesh
When the washer is getting our clothes clean and fresh
And sometimes my house makes a hum-de-dum-dum
When the dryer spins clothes in it’s rotating drum

And sometimes my house makes a…

Yakety-yak and a ticky-tak-talk and a chitty-chit-chat and a smoochity-smooch and a lovey-bug-hug and a sniffly-sniff and a hacky-yack-hack and a tooty-toot-toot and a giggly-goo and a sing-sangy-song and a laughity-laugh and a… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… and so many more!

And those are the sounds that I most want to hear
The sounds that my house enjoys all through the year
The sounds of my family, the big and the small
Those are the bestiest-best-sounds of all!

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