A Day That Snuck Up

My father and I in the Adirondack Mountains. My favorite picture of us.

With the prolonged winter weather, plumbing issues, and car trouble I’ve experienced this year, I’ve often lost track of days as I work through it all. The late arrival of spring has me thinking it’s still April some days and therefore I was surprised to realize that one day in particular snuck up on me unawares: today, my father’s birthday.

As my mother said incredulously yesterday, my father would’ve turned 77 this year. That’s mind boggling to me because in my mind, my parents don’t really age. My father left this world when he was 68. His health had deteriorated in the last years of his life. But fortunately with the passage of time, I usually remember him as the healthy, fit man he was in his 50s. That really is a blessing and something I’m certain makes his spirit happy.

In past years I’ve felt sorrow in the days leading up to his birthday and on his birthday, but not this year. Admittedly, I’ve been stressed about getting my car’s transmission fixed, dealing with yard work, and so on, but even without those things, I don’t think I would’ve felt sad.

I miss my father every single day and I wish he was still here to help me with so many things, but overall I feel like I’m in a good place in my life. I’m content and happy and don’t feel as lost as I used to. I believe I owe that in large part to everything I inherited from my father. He taught me to always see the bright side of life, to look at things from different angles, and to appreciate all the blessings I have.

Life isn’t always easy, but it’s always a gift. So while I no longer have my father here to give gifts to on his birthday, he continues to give me the greatest gifts of love, strength, faith, gratitude, acceptance, and determination.


Just because

One of my two male ruby throated hummingbirds keeping his eye on me.

One of my two male ruby throated hummingbirds keeping his eye on me this evening.

I wear a sterling silver key pendant with a small heart set sideways at its end. It was a gift from my mother several years ago and I’ve been wearing it every day since. At night I tuck it under my pillow so it’s close by and easy to put back on when I wake up.

It is the key to my heart and thus far, I haven’t found the right one to claim it. It is also a symbol of my eternal belief in love and that someday the right man for me will find me. I do not spend my days obsessing over said man (I used to) because that does no good. When the time is right, he’ll come into my life. Until then and even after that, I am grateful for all the blessings in my life. I have two beautiful daughters, I’m in good health, I have a great family, I own my own home and I’m making a career as a writer. I am not incomplete but there is something missing.

Though the key pendant was a gift from my mother, it makes me think of my father too. The key unlocks my heart but is closely guarded by my father’s spirit. He knows that it will take a good man with a great heart and a man as unconditionally loving of me as he was to win my love. He and I both know that I deserve nothing less.

For reasons I don’t entirely understand myself, I recently felt compelled to make a beaded chain for my key pendant. A very understandable reason was that my current silver rope chain and clasp kept pulling out my hair when it gets caught. But as that’s been happening for years, that’s not really the reason I created my own chain. I did it just because. Just because I felt in my heart that now was the right time to do it.

I knew I wanted it to be made with silver themed beads but that’s all I knew. When I was visiting my mother on Wednesday, I sat down in one of the chairs of her sunroom, pulled out my beads and just started working. The design came to me pretty quick. I chose silver mirror bugle beads interspersed with cobalt blue seed beads, all worked up with brick stitch. I could’ve simply strung beads onto thread or wire and been done with it but I wanted something woven, made with care and 100% unique. I was quite pleased with the end result!

My new beaded chain, key pendant holder and funky clasp design.

My new beaded chain, key pendant holder and funky clasp design.

I used a lobster clasp to hold the key pendant so I can change out charms or put the key on other chains I design. Oh yes, I’ll be making more chains, this is just the beginning!

When my project was finally finished, I went out onto my deck to take some photos of me wearing the new chain. As I sat out there, I heard the hummer approach and I then remained very still. One of my two hummingbird males came and landed, drank a little, looked at me, looked around, drank some more and left.

He's such a proud little thing!

He’s watching me again.

Handsome profile!

Handsome profile!

I smiled as I watched him. After he flew off, I took a couple photos of myself and then just sat there for a while enjoying the relative quiet of the evening.

Wearing my new beaded chain and my key charm.

Wearing my new beaded chain and my key pendant.

When I came back inside and started writing this I heard a hummingbird land on my feeder. I turned to look and was elated to see that it was a female hummingbird! I saw her for the first time earlier today but didn’t have my camera handy. This time I was ready and snapped a picture before she flew off. I’m guessing all of her hummer babies have now left the nest so hopefully I’ll be seeing more of her from now on.

Female hummingbird. Note the lack of ruby-colored throat seen on males.

Female hummingbird. Note the lack of ruby-colored throat seen on males.

I took seeing her as a very good omen of course and higher power approval of my latest creation. I adore my new chain and I’m proud of myself for creating exactly what I wanted even though I didn’t quite understand why I wanted it. As July draws to a close, I’ve decided I’m going to venture into the new month doing more things “just because” my heart, spirit and/or the powers that be tell me too.

With this post I’ve made up for missing one entry this month so I’ve now accomplished my task of writing in my blog every day in July. At least that’s how my math works 😉

Blessings on Bird Wings Part 3 (conclusion)

Indigo bunting. Such a lovely shade of blue!

Indigo bunting. Such a lovely shade of blue!

There was an indigo bunting at my feeder today and as I’ve never seen one before in my life, I figured that was a sign that I need to write the conclusion to this series of blog entries. I’m not sure what drew the adorable little blue, black and purple indigo bunting to my bird feeder oasis but I’m glad he came! Maybe it was all the pretty violas and petunias I put out or the pear tree or the fountain or the addition of yet another feeder I forgot I owned. Whatever it was, I hope he comes back again and brings lots of family and friends!

indigo bunting2 indigo bunting3 indigo bunting4

When I finished the first stage of my wild bird oasis last week, it was still light enough to take Jazzmin for a walk so we headed out over the hills. As I rounded the curve on the first road, I was reveling in my immense feelings of happiness and contentment. I was thinking how lucky I am to be able to work from home with a flexible schedule that allows me to be outside during the nice weather. I can also use my free time to work on my crafts at my table with the window open to enjoy the breeze and sounds of the birds. It’s a level of peace and fulfillment I never experienced when working outside the home.

As I walked Jazz further along the hills, I took a deep breath and said “I am blessed.” It felt amazing just saying those words and knowing how true they are! We continued along the road and I was looking up into the sky as I always do in search of hawks. I almost always see a hawk when I’m outside or when I’m driving, I just have to keep my eyes peeled. Sure enough, when we topped the next hill, I saw a hawk circling slowly above the trees. I broke out in a smile so bright it would’ve lit up the trees if the sun hadn’t already been shining.

Seeing a hawk is always a positive sign and good omen for me and the sight of this one soaring was further confirmation that I’m finally on the right path in my life. I just have to continue to have faith, trust that life will work out as it’s supposed to and of course keep enjoying the daily blessings on bird wings.

Blessings on Bird Wings – Part 1

My feeders filled with finches, chickadees and sparrows.

My feeders filled with finches, chickadees and sparrows.

I love watching the birds at my back feeder. It’s a daily reminder of how blessed I am and how precious life is. Watching the birds has taught me new levels of patience, observation and silence. I’ve learned so much by just being still and allowing nature to continue in its normal routine around me.

As I eagerly looked forward to spring a few months ago, I had the neat idea to transform my little bird feeder area into something more. As the snow continued to fly, I imagined creating a little fenced in garden at the base of my bird feeders so that I could look at lovely flowers and my feathered friends from my kitchen window. A framed garden also means not having to mow so close to the feeder pole that I whack my head.

Well I’m still waiting for spring to actually arrive and stick around in Upstate NY but yesterday I decided to set my plan in motion. I felt I could at least get a new fountain style bird bath and a second shepherd’s hook for hanging more of my feeders in one central location. I found exactly what I needed running errands yesterday and got some great ideas for flowers once I figure out how my little garden design.

I’ll explain the process of my new arrangement in a later post (hence the Part 1) but for this post, I thought showing pictures of my feathered friends would be more fun. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say and I figure a video must be worth about a million for demonstrating exactly how my birds reacted to the new birdie oasis. If you don’t want to watch the whole video, just skip ahead to 1:16 to see proof that sitting still and watching has amazing rewards!

The male cardinal landed but wasn't sure about the new set up...

The male cardinal landed but wasn’t sure about the new set up…

He's still not sure and eventually flew off.

He’s still not sure and eventually flew off.

A male finch investigates and then lands. Followed soon by his friends.

The goldfinches were only a little bit hesitant at first, then they dug in!

finch scope2 flurry of finches

An Unexpected Gift

Jaycie with some school artwork

Jaycie with some school artwork

Today is my youngest daughter’s 7th birthday. I can still remember when Jaycie was 7 seconds old and now she’s 7 years old! Doesn’t seem possible! She kicked and hiccupped all through labor which the nurses found amusing and fascinating. I was not quite as amused. I expected to have another little Jordan when she was born but when they placed her on my stomach I was surprised. She looked nothing like Jordan! In fact, she didn’t look like anyone else in the family. She was her own unique little being, she’s Jaycie.

I remember they placed newborn Jaycie in those lovely plastic bassinet things so they could measure her, swaddle her, etc. I glanced over at the bassinet and it looked like she was trying to climb out. That might sound crazy but it was obvious to me from day one that she was a little fighter.

As Jaycie grew out of her newborn looks and into her rounded baby years, she became even more adorable. She still doesn’t resemble anyone else in the family but I’m fine with that because it suits her personality. She appeared to be rather strong at a young age because at 8 months I could hold onto her hands and she’d stand up on my thighs. I was so sure she was going to walk before her sister! That wasn’t the case.

Jaycie never crawled. Instead, she scooted around on her bottom using her legs to propel her along. I didn’t think much of this until she didn’t pick up and attempt to walk at the appropriate time. She would walk if someone held her hand but the moment they let go, she’d plop to her bottom. I bought a special sling to put her in so I could help support her while she walked and she could strengthen her muscles. I think that helped but by 2 years old she still wasn’t walking on her own. Then suddenly at 2 years 2 weeks old she just stood up and started walking back and forth! I was so grateful and ecstatic! It was as though she was just waiting until she got every aspect figured out before finally walking. I thought everything was great and she’d then catch up to other kids her age.

While it was an amazing gift to have Jaycie finally walking, her coordination, balance and confidence weren’t improving. We finally took her to some specialists and they said she had “developmental delays.” She started receiving physical, speech and occupational therapy shortly thereafter and went to a special nursery school that helped her immensely! She’s always been quite tall for her age and I still believe that’s a big reason why she’s delayed, her muscles can’t keep up with her growing bones.

Long, tall Jaycie reading up on My Little Pony

Long, tall Jaycie reading up on My Little Pony

Jaycie still receives all three therapies in our local school and I’m grateful the school offers all those services. The problem is that she doesn’t fall into any of the state’s handful of designated categories for children with special needs so she might stop receiving services. I hate having any sort of label on my children, I imagine every parent does. We have to keep taking her to specialists and meeting twice a year with teachers to work on her therapy and school curriculum plan. I know they’re all trying to help her but it becomes infuriating to me when they try to categorize her as something she’s not. There is only one label that fits my youngest daughter and that is Jaycie.

Jaycie carrying her favorite lawn chair

Jaycie carrying her favorite lawn chair

One of the many reasons I’m happy to no longer work at an office job is because I can now focus more attention on helping Jaycie. As Jordan has tended to feel left out because of the extra attention Jaycie has always received, I’m going to include her too. We’re all going to start doing exercises and projects that help develop Jaycie’s strength, speech and fine motor skills. I have to keep it all very fun and interesting because Jaycie is ever so tired of all the therapies she receives at school. She’s learned that saying she’s tired can get her out of activities. This mama isn’t going to accept that!

Someday she'll zoom past Jordan

Someday she’ll zoom past Jordan

My beloved Jaycie will never be “normal” because she doesn’t come from normal stock, she comes from extraordinary stock! Normal is boring and predictable and no female in my family line has ever been that! She is the little fighter who tried to climb out of her bassinet at only a few moments old, she just needs to be reminded of that. No matter what, Jaycie will forever be the unexpected gift that I was blessed to receive on July 28th, 2006.