The Counting of Blessings

Every morning I take a picture of my son while he sleeps. Sometimes it’s a foot sticking out of the quilt. Sometimes it’s his hand, fingers intertwined, and sometimes it’s his sweet closed eyes and dreaming face.

Why?

Because moments are fleeting.

Sure, we know. We’ve heard that before. But in this season of losing my momma, the rate at which time passes has come front and center.

Years go by in a blink. Pregnancy, toddler, ten year old, teen. I try to embrace these moments of motherhood. I can’t make time stand still, but a photo can. So, each morning, I take a picture so I can remember daily moments years from now.

This grief journey brings light to a lot of things. People have stepped up and into this mess of blurred-between-the-lines-moments that accompany loss.

On one of my posts, Jenna, who blogs at The Painted Apron, commented something that has stuck with me since.

She said, “I handle my grief every day by counting the blessings I do have.”

The part that climbed into my pocket?

every day

Not some days. Not just on Tuesdays. Not just on sunny days. Not just on anniversary days. Not just on holidays. Not just on ‘we miss the person so much’ days.

every day

“handle my grief every day”

For me, this is quite profound. There are a lot of books out there and tons of advice floating around about grief. I’ve been through loss before. I’ve always thought that it was just this thing that takes about a year to get over.

But everybody I know, that’s endured huge loss has said: you don’t, get over it.

Recently, I was so very homesick. I hadn’t seen my dad since my momma’s life celebration, so my son and I went to see him.

One evening, we went to a yard sale. I spotted some books and stepped over to take a look. Several caught my eye, including this one:

book I got while visiting my dad

Immediately, Jenna’s words came to mind: “counting the blessings I do have.”

There were two identical books. I bought them both. Inside, there are daily spaces to fill in and also, longer writing prompts.

the inside of a gratitude book I bought
writing prompt in the book I bought
another writing prompt in the book I got

I’ve been a ‘counter of blessings’ person for many years, the concept of this isn’t new. I’ve also written ‘thankful lists’ randomly here and there. They, like the pictures of my son, seem to capture a moment in time.

Time in loss is a bit tricky. The more time goes by, they say, the more healing. But the more time that goes by, the longer it’s been since I’ve seen my momma.

Also, in the months just past loss, the days whiz by. If I’m not noticing the miracles that lie in them, how will I remember them?

I think I will fill these books up. Maybe it’ll be with my family’s laughs and smiles, my dad’s hugs, or my momma’s memories.

Thank you, Jenna, for the reminder that being grateful in all of this is still ok.

Thank you for reading.

Jessica

Different But the Same

Being at my parent’s house feels wonderful to my heart. As soon as we pulled in the driveway, the ache of being homesick subsided. It came to a screeching halt. There, H O M E.

Familiar, especially after loss, feels like a peace I can barely describe. It’s almost as if bouncing around in the tides of grief for the past four months has calmed a bit.

The house is the same. The yard is the same. The closets, the kitchen, and the flowers outside are the same. The sun rises in the same place. The stars grace the same sky.

But, you know what’s different? The calendar. It’s nearly August now, so it’s not any of or all of the months before March. My momma passed in March…

Home is different, but the same.

It’s comforting. It’s meals. It’s cookies baking in the oven. It’s birds on the feeder and grapes on the vine. It’s trees full of apples and peaches. It’s magazines and puzzles my momma loved. It’s sunsets on the back porch. It’s corn rows by the yard. It’s my dad’s old tractor.

It’s this and that all mixed together in times of past and present. People always say to me that they can’t imagine my loss. Amen to that, I can’t imagine I’m walking this path either, but here I am. And, this week, I’m grateful to be home.

Thank you for reading.

Jessica

dad’s old tractor
corn field by the yard
old flower pots in the shed
a frog on the trash can
an old trailer of my dad’s
‘mornin’ glory

From Crying to Laughing

Notice anything strange about this picture?

odd place for a cushion

Remember that weird tornado-thingy that hit our back yard and only our backyard on Sunday?

Well, for two days I have been wondering where one chair cushion was. It was not back by the pool with the other ones. It wasn’t in the backyard anywhere.

Yesterday when I went to the mailbox (in our front yard by the road) I looked over at that tree and saw something red in it.

Sure enough, about twelve feet up in our pear tree was that cushion!!! Remember how all of our pool floats were across the road? I guess the cushion hit the branches instead.

We still don’t know what happened. I can tell you that when I saw the backyard on Sunday, I burst out crying. However, when I saw the cushion parked in the tree, I laughed out loud.

hmmm…..

Our Cat is Rather Pleased

That crazy, twirling windstorm thing wrecked our glass top tables, but our cat, Blackjack is rather pleased!

No more scrunching up, under glass. Ha ha!

happy cat in his new glass-less sitting spot
hanging out by the pool
new cat bed, ha ha

Switchbacks and Waves

This blog was started in 2015. Mostly its been filled with some nature photographs, some lessons on acquired wisdom, and things about family.

Lately, my writing feels somewhat scattered. A post on this, a post on that, then bam, a post about my momma.

What I am figuring out is, grief is not linear.

It doesn’t start on such and such day then make a straight line to an end date. Mine, anyway, feels like more of a zig zag or perhaps like some winding mountain road. Calm on the straight aways, yet intense on the curves.

Another thing I’m learning is, the path of losing someone isn’t all encompassing. Sure, in the beginning it can feel like that. It did for me. At that time, every passing moment was a reminder that my momma wasn’t here.

Now though, instead of grief being a constant aching, it comes more sporadically. One moment fine, the next moment tears. Two days fine, the next one tears. Like waves.

Oh my gosh, waves. For weeks I’ve been trying to remember a song my momma loved. It just now came to me: ”Wave on Wave” by Pat Green.

Now that I think about it, mountain roads and waves have something in common: they go back and forth. They have this beauty and calmness that seem to balance out even after rockslides and storms.

Maybe life is similar. Maybe writing is, too. Maybe instead of me thinking my words have to be all organized into a certain category, I could just let them show up, whenever and however they do.

My back field is full of thorns, stickers, and stumps. Some spots are a mess to walk through. Sometimes my skirt gets snagged and my ankles get scratched. Hmm… that sounds a bit like grief.

But, you know what? My back field is also full of wildflowers and there’s a doe and her baby living back there, even in all those stickers and even in all those weeds.

Perhaps me writing all this on a random Sunday morning is a reminder that the beauty in my writing will prevail, even if the subject matter is out of order and things feel messy.

And, maybe it’s even a reminder, that there can be a beautiful-ness in grief, too. Not on the wind raging, hail filled days, of course, but maybe in the quiet, “a memory brings a smile days.”

What I’m going to do is just trust my writing. Scattered posts or not. I see now that the switchbacks can allow for some amazing scenery and the waves can bring solace.

Thank you for being here.

Jessica

some curvy Forest Service road
a blurry wildflower from my land
and CoCo the kitten
Queen Anne’s Lace standing out
among the stickers and thorns

Family Day Out

Saturday is our family day out. Today we decided to try a bowling alley we hadn’t been to in a nearby town.

I’m not what you’d call a very good bowler, ha ha. But, tonight I broke 100!!!! I got a 119! I think that’s my all time high. I was so excited, I took a picture.

I’m the M

Before the bowling alley, we went to a Missouri Department of Conservation area called Otter Slough. I love that place. In the winter, it’s filled with snow geese. In the summer people fish the ponds.

a pond at Otter Slough
Otter Slough
even these guys were hanging out there

We’ve had a really great day. Love Saturdays. Love summer. Love my family.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

Summertime Swim Party

Well, I pulled off a surprise party! For over a month, I’ve had a surprise swim party planned for my husband’s 50th birthday!

A month ago, my invitations went out to some of his work friends, his bowling friends, neighbors, and some local friends.

We were all able to keep it quiet! Even me, which was a bit tricky, ha ha. I almost slipped up a few times.

Because we live near the river and lots of families go there for the weekends, and kids have baseball games, etc, I made it a come and go open house.

Yesterday morning, my husband still had no idea!! About noon, my son and I gave him a gift to open. In it was party blowers and an invitation to his own party! He was very surprised!

We had a great crowd. Everyone brought a potluck dish and we had a ton of food. The temperature was 102 degrees, so the swimming pool was full.

We all had a wonderful time.

Here’s to friends, life’s big celebrations, summer, swimming, and surprises.

Hope you have a glorious day!

Jessica

our pool this morning

Farm Fresh

This morning my friend and I went to our local farmer’s market. For a small town, there was quite a selection. The different booths had:

  • canned pickles and canned vegetables
  • embroidery towels
  • earrings
  • plants
  • wood art
  • t shirts
  • crotched items
  • vegetables
  • fruits

I went in search of cucumbers. I saw on a recipe on a blog this week for refrigerator pickles made with rice vinegar that I wanted to try.

There was a really nice seller from Arkansas who had cucumbers and potatoes. Another gal had organic home grown tomatoes! Yum!

I also got two bags of fresh lettuce and some Campbell, Missouri peaches. Around here, Campbell peaches are a big thing.

Here’s what I got and I had a little of each for lunch:

farm fresh

I also met a gentleman who makes wind chimes and can tune them to different songs! How cool is that? He said he’s done the Westminster Chimes, Pink Floyd, and Deep Purple songs. I asked him if he could do Fleetwood Mac. My momma LOVED Fleetwood Mac. I was raised on Fleetwood Mac.

Oh how I would love to hear Fleetwood Mac from my porch! I’m going to see about getting some.

What a wonderful morning out with my friend. We got to support some small businesses, meet some local artists, and get some farm fresh food.

Hope you have a great Saturday!

Jessica

Summertime Goals

Who’s ready for summer?

We are!! After a spring of solid rain, a week of temperatures in the high 90’s followed by a week of 50’s and 60’s, I sure am ready for summer.

Our 23rd wedding anniversary was May 15th. My husband splurged and got us a big, fancy patio umbrella. It’s 11 feet wide, solar powered with lights, and the umbrella itself rotates!

So, if we are sitting on the patio chairs, shade. And, we can turn it so if we’re sitting/ swimming in the pool, shade. My son gets sunburns quite easily, so pool shade is definitely a gift.

Tomorrow, the temperatures start to build their way back up towards summertime fun. My summertime goals are:

  • wear my swim suit every day
  • swim every day (unless there is lightning)
  • catch fireflies at night
  • blow bubbles
  • watch sunsets
  • take walks
  • have a potluck
  • picnics
  • do sidewalk chalk
  • read a bunch of books
  • do art
  • take naps

Man, that does sound good! Sign me up, I’m ready. Here’s to a great season, whether yours is summer, winter, spring, or fall. What are your goals for your season?

Hope you have a wonderful Saturday!

Jessica

our pool and new umbrella
our 23rd wedding anniversary gift- fancy umbrella

I Have an Art Blog

In November 2021, I started another blog. An art blog. It was a few weeks after I did my first craft show.

It’s called Jeweled Again by Jessica. I take old jewelry and make pieces of art. I have done 3 craft shows so far. The last one was in between mom’s services. I wrote about it on there.

Also, I follow some of your blogs with both of my sites, because for awhile there, I was only blogging on one sight at a time. I’m trying to learn to multitask, ha ha.

Here’s the link if you’d like to see it.

https://jeweledagainbyjessica.com

Hope you have a great day!

Jessica

my art I make on jeweledagainbyjessica

Ideas on Creating an Art Fundraiser Donation Basket

I love to make art. My roots for doing so lie in watching my grandmas and mom make beautiful stuff out of a variety of things.

My grandma Irene was the queen of mixing together flour, sugar, eggs, to artfully create masterpiece-worthy pies and bars. Rhubarb especially.

My grandma Wilma held the honors of crafting her own wardrobe. She made multiple dresses and two piece pant sets in various materials, with piping to boot. In fact, I have the outfit she made and wore to her 40th wedding anniversary party.

My momma’s quest for her creative self expression led her down many avenues. She did everything from making dolls to knitting sweaters, sewing curtains to home decor items. Eventually, she added jewelry making, acrylic painting, and stained glass to her list of talents.

My art is like a combo pack- some of each of them, I suppose. Bits of each, that when combined, equals something layered and unique.

This week presented a pretty cool opportunity for me. My husband’s weekly bowling league had a tournament to raise money for a local family who lost a loved one. It was a chance to donate some of my art to a raffle.

Ooooooo!! What should I give and how should I do it? Individual pieces or something combined?

I decided that several items together could be impactful. I mean, if we’re going to share our art, let’s share it.

After staring at an empty basket for awhile, ideas started trickling in. I thought it’d be fun to share them with you.

my art donation basket coming together

Ideas on how to create your own art donation basket:

  • Try to choose a basket size that will hold whatever you’d like to include
  • Dress the basket up, if you like- I added a piece of jewelry and an artificial flower
  • When filling the basket, maybe start with one piece – I chose the sparkly rhinestone necklace on its velvet stand, with a pink flower that I glued on
  • Stick with that piece’s theme- mine was ‘sparkly rhinestone’
  • Maybe consider a color theme as well- I picked pinks and blues, with yellow floral accent colors to draw the eye in
  • Consider adding fillers such as tissue paper and doilies
  • Use a hole punch on your gift tag or business card, attach it to a piece of twine, and tie it to the basket/ handle
  • Think about who is going to be bidding or buying those raffle tickets- I thought about how the women bowlers might really want to help that local family out, so I included different items that might appeal to many
  • Also, consider who the fundraiser is for- sometimes people will buy fundraising items, then gift the item back to the person/family- I thought about what the woman that lost her husband might like to receive if she ended up with my art basket
a jewel and flower added to the basket
added a business/gift card to the basket
the finished basket

My husband was so excited when he got home from the bowling tournament. Apparently, my art basket donation was well received. There were 24 bowlers total, and my basket sold 58 raffle tickets! (insert huge smile here.)

The other donated items included 8 gift cards and a handmade afgan. Total the raffles brought about $500 for the family. Isn’t that amazing??

Some pretty extraordinary things happen when people get together to help someone. Even in a tiny town and even on a Tuesday.

I am thankful I was able to be a part of that. Maybe your art donation basket/ gift basket will be a part of something heartwarming, too.

Hope you have an awesome day!

Jessica

Love and Miss

My mom liked my writing. When I wrote on my blog, she often commented. We lost her very unexpectedly a week ago today. Instead of me rambling on and on about some lesson I think I’m learning or something, I will let the letter tiles sum up where my heart is. She is truly loved and missed.

Jessica ❤️

Unmeasured Journeys