Thursday, December 22, 2011

Packing. PACKING. packing. PaCkInG.

Packing. PACKING. packing. PaCkInG. Packing. Packing

Packing lunches
Packing Legos
Packing backpacks
Packing the car
Packing for Rockford, Illinois (Christmas)
Packing bedding
Packing my cheeks with popcorn balls
Packing groceries
Packing dollies
Packing suitcases
Packing blue packs
Packing plastic bins
Packing boxes
Packing Zippies

This is what I did this week. My month. It’s my world. There is no other world, other than packing. I feel like it has been a part of my world off and on for the last 3 1/2 years. And there is a part of packing that is helpful. I weed out things that have absolutely no reason to be in our life. Packing helps us transition. It’s physical. You can get your head around it. But here’s the deal with packing and me. I’m kind of packing loser. This is where I go wrong with packing. I have a slight Post-Great Depression Era process that goes through my mind when packing. Tarrah’s train of thinking... “I know I will never find the other mate to that sock, but if I keep it, I could use it do dust”... That’s kind of a poor example, but you get my drift. But it’s not only with socks, it’s with sleeping bags, broken toys, picture frames, vases, etc. And that kind of issue mounts a bit when packing for a family of six.

I also kind of get nauseated when it comes to the details of packing. Road trips, travel in general, I pack light, serious light. I can pack up a car in 10 minutes flat, if all the laundry is clean. I can pack my family for a long plane ride like I get paid the big bucks for it. It’s the whole house packing that drives me to drink. And the fact of the matter is that I have stuff that has been in boxes for over 3 1/2 years that I have absolutely no recollection of. When we sold our house 4 years ago, I had 3 children under 4 and one on the way - the big deal was making sure that I tried my hardest to not leave one of my kids of the at the grocery store. That was my daily goal. So, remembering if I have any mattress pads is a bit of puzzler for me. And then we have suitcases full of our things from India that I didn’t bother to unpack that still kind of smell like India. And then there is packing up the stuff of daily living the last six months living with my folks.

Oh man.

But you know what?

We close on our house in 8 days. The kids and I celebrated their last day at a great school. My mom made popcorn balls for me, oh, I mean, for the kids. We pick up Jayson tomorrow in Minneapolis and head down to Rockford (near Chicago) to celebrate Christmas with Jayson’s family. We go ice skating often on my parent’s lake. Jayson loves his job. In 8 days, our family of 6 can live under the same room for many consecutive days in a row. We celebrate Jesus’ birth soon.

Merry Christmas friends.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anyone Want to Go Bowling?

I just ironed for the first time in about three years.  Not really surprising, I probably ironed about once a year before moving to India.  But five minutes ago was the first in a long time.  I like ironing trousers way better than shirts.  So many different bits to the shirt.  The reason for this momentous occasion is that my dear husband Jayson was given a job.  (I shamelessly admit that I asked my mom to iron his clothes the first few weeks on the job.  I know, I know, what to do though.)  His first day was two weeks ago Monday. He is the associate director of ICA Food Shelf.  It serves seven different communities outside of Minneapolis. He has loved his last two weeks and we both feel really grateful.  The food shelf is a stone’s throw away from our church, which is an added bonus. 

We’ve said since the beginning of summer, that when dad gets a job, we’ll take the kids bowling to celebrate.  They’ve never been.  So, when the job came, we picked them up from school and slyly asked, “Does anyone want to go bowling?” In about two nanoseconds they all asked, “Did dad get a job?”  It was great to celebrate with them.  This season since coming back from India has been so much about the six of us walking this road together.  Not just Jayson…not just Jayson and I…but all six of us.

So, this past week, Jovie and I drove down to Minneapolis for a bit of a house looking trip.  We did come across one that we thought would be good fit for our family, we came to an agreement with the seller and the inspection is tomorrow. Whoop-whoop. We shall see if they find any trolls in the attic… if there are no trolls, we close on December 30. 

Jayson and I were talking two nights ago that the feeling that settles the most in us is gladness.  Happy doesn’t really cut it, and excitement sounds tiring. It has taken me a while to get my head around everything that I have felt and continue to feel.  It has taken me a while to call and email our friends and family about our turn of events.  It takes me a while to put my feelings into words right now.  To say that I have been sitting with this would be a good description.  We are nothing short of thankful and ready.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Do Love Subcultures

The Palm Six at a Family Wedding

In India we showed you photos of the Arabian Sea, clever monkeys in our yard, and electricians climbing telephone poles barefoot. Now the excitement is Jayson getting a free photo shoot. 

My Grandmother asked on the phone tonight when my next blog was going to be...  When Grandma asks it is so very hard to deny her. So, the moral of the story is, if you need anything of me, just have my Grandmother call and ask for you.  Her name is Eleanor and she is wonderful.  Here goes the blog.  
I left off last having a series of medical dramas in the family.  And the drama continued as we were sitting in the cafeteria of St. Mary’s hospital (connected with the Mayo Clinic) in the first hour of six of my Dad’s open heart surgery when a phone call came through saying the doctor needed to see us.  Yikes, of course we assumed that they found something even more dreadful upon “cracking” him open.  But the doctor kindly said that after a series of consultations (some sort of high intensity scope and two other doctors), they decided not to open him up.  We were all a bit stunned.  Adding further to our shock, doctor said that this happens maybe once or twice a year.  We felt grateful, extremely grateful, to be in that very small percentage.  So, my dad was awakened an hour later and was told that he could go elk hunting this year. 
I must say that while I was at Mayo I fell in love.  I do love subcultures.  Any sort really.  The bird watchers, the Trekkies, hip hop, juggling, organic, Pokemon, etc... you get the picture.  Any group of people that have their own little code.  And my newest subculture love is the Mayo clinic.  You guessed it folks.  First off, who doesn’t love a whole gaggle of people in light blue scrubs.  Second, everyone there really knows their stuff, experts to the max, and there really is something lovely about experts.  Third, the amount of organization that pulses through there is over the top.  And I am not really an organizational junkie, but man, I was convinced that I must be the biggest dummy in the world if they can effectively do hundreds of surgeries a day and I can’t figure out how to get my kids to put their shoes in the one basket I ask them to.  (Full discretion, I really don’t know how many they do, but its lots.)  Anyway, all that to say, I did ask Jayson if there was any desire within him to go to med school... 
Within our current routine I’m finding myself engaging more fully in the present moment.  And I don’t mean to say that flippantly or with cliche.  It comes from a deep place in me.  I’m learning how to be more responsive to what is.  The high’s and low’s of unemployment/job hunting; the unexpected and acute emotions that come along with my dad’s health; living in a house of a three-generation, eight-person family; and having such a dramatic change from crazy India to near calm Bemidji have continued to impress upon me the gigantic amount of energy it takes me to just stay present for this day, not having a clue what tomorrow will bring. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Boxed in By Crazy Dogs

Barney's Birthday Bash. James was a bit disgruntled, his options this particular Saturday were to go to the Barney show or to go quilt shopping with Mommy

Barney and all his friends

Nothing like a good loaf of "butt bread" to start off a cozy weekend. This didn't turn out quite like I thought it would

When I went for a run or walk in India, 95% of the time I would finish with really high blood pressure.  Mainly because I feared the dogs, monkeys, cows, etc. that shared the road with me.  I remember thinking to myself that I looked forward to being able to go for a run in the States without fear.  Well, this week all my animal fears came rushing back. 

Incident number one.  It is really quite dark out at 6:15 a.m. in the morning here in Northern Minnesota.  I was starting a run and, not even out of my parent’s driveway yet, I heard a very loud and daunting huffing/snorting noise from the woods, like five feet away.  Needless to say, I bolted back to the house, and my fear kept me in my parent’s yard, running laps.  Can you believe what a chicken I was?  I knew it was a deer, there are tracks galore, but logic did not win out - irrational fear did. 

Second incident took place on Saturday morning.  Again, going for a run.  About 11:00 a.m., total daylight.  Now, let me back up a bit to India.  There was a very specific time, on a run, that I got myself boxed in by crazy dogs on one side and crazy monkeys on the other.  I chose monkeys, and ran my hardest under the trees where they lurked.  Blood pressure sky high.  Okay, back to present day.  Saturday morning, quaint dirt road on a beautiful fall day.  I came upon two dogs... I stayed calm, slowed down, got by them.  Whew.  Jogging on, came up four dogs.  Four I say.  Still, two behind me.  I totally panicked.  And a mail car passed me just then.  I started waving my hands and shouting out, “Excuse Me!  Hello!  Excuse Me, Hello!” - got his attention, so I ran up to his car.  Note: mail driver was about 20 years old, with loads of tattoos and piercings. (I am all about loads of tattoos and piercings, it just kind of makes the story that much more ridiculous.)  So, I said to him, “I am like crazy scared of dogs (I am panting and sweating mind you), umm, could you like follow my out to the main highway until I know the dogs are not going to chomp me to pieces?”  I have no pride people.  Gone.  Done.  The guy was great and said sure.  So, there I went and he followed me for a good half a mile until I was safely on the road.  He then proceeded to follow me some more, and double back once, and I thought, “Great, I got past the dogs, but now I am going to be kidnapped...”  Alas, I kept on running, mail guy continued on his route and I went back  to the house, with sky high blood pressure. 

My quaint Saturday morning running route, dogs and all

I know that was a totally long story, but I just had to share it.  It is often good for me that some of the hard things that were in India for us did not just stay in India.  They came with us.  And they are still here for us to work through.  So as to not “blame” India, but know that it’s more about me and my own silliness to work through.

Last week I mentioned my dad’s health and that he was going to be “back to his own foxy self in no time”.  Well, the foxy self will be a bit delayed, but will come in time.  After going down to Mayo Clinic last week to check on a few things after his stroke, we found out that he needs open heart surgery.  So, on Friday, my very brave Dad is going to get his chest “cracked-open” as he likes to say.  And my very brave Mom will be right there with him.  And their daughter too. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

A New Week Has Arrived

Jovie's first day of ECFE with mommy
A gorgeous view of Lake Bemidji
Weekend chores - sweeping pine needles off the roof 
I was asking the kids tonight at dinner, which I lovingly prepared, what was the most surprising moment of their day.  Very quickly James fires off, “The most surprising moment of my day is that this dinner actually tasted good.”  Well, I asked didn’t I? What was the most surprising moment of your day?
The most frequented place I go these days is the grocery store.  The second is the dentist.  They just love my teeth so much that they cannot get enough of them.  Or... I had three cavities and a wisdom tooth that needed to be pulled.  You choose the correct answer.  Anyway, I was sitting in the dentist’s chair last Wednesday and I was letting him know to be careful of my canker sore that is the size of Detroit.  And as he saw it he asked, “Are you stressed out or something?”  And I awkwardly said, as his hands were in my mouth, “Well, my dad had a stroke a few days back, my husband’s been out of town working hard to find a job, and my daughter is going to have her tonsils and adenoids out tomorrow...”  I really didn’t mean to say it all, but I just did.  I felt like my canker sore deserved a minor applause.  So, it’s been a bit of a 10 days.  But it’s Monday.  A new day.  A new week has arrived and I say, Go Team!  

Sydney and I had quite the fun night in the hospital sharing the bed
So, backing up a bit, my poor dad had a stroke.  I will not give a doctor’s report, but he is rapidly improving and will be back to his normal, foxy self in no time.  But while walking alongside his trauma and my parent’s stress of his unknown health issues, I was pretty grateful to be around, to be able to hear real-time updates, to run and get him that sandwich he was craving, to be able to intercept all the phone calls of people wanting to know the latest, to be told a number of times by family and friends “if there is anything we can do, just ask”, to bring his four grandkids in a couple times to let them ask a 101 questions about the hospital room, and then to celebrate when he was able to to come home from the hospital.  I say, Go Dad!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The Palm Six, Living in Bemidji

I just made a really yum scrum peach and blueberry cobbler.  I’ve been dreaming of peaches for two plus years.  Crates of peaches are being sold in a beat up van that sits in the parking lot right next to my parent’s shop.  The same guy, the same beat up van, not the same peaches (but similar tasting peaches), the same parking lot, for as long as I can remember.  I love the steady-on practices that unfold in the midst of our transition.

It seems appropriate for some reason to blog today.  First day of school, I guess.  Ani, James and Sydney all made their way into Schoolcraft Learning Community.  It’s a charter school out by my parent’s house.  Nothing, other than lakes and woods, are out by my folks - except Concordia Language Villages. Which, on the property of their French Camp, houses the charter school during the school year.  We feel grateful for the five minute drive to the small school in the woods.  I thought for the last month or so that we would be out at the school that I went to as a kid, which would be a bit trippy.  But this opportunity came along, and noodlie-doodlie, to Schoolcraft we go.

I’ve only been away from Bemidji for 15 years, but coming back as a resident-in-limbo does catch me off guard sometimes.  Okay, most days.  Today, I was grocery shopping at the same grocery store that my family has shopped at for ages, and I ran into the mom of a friend that I grew up with.  Barb was the first stay at home mom that I ever knew.  And back in the day, stay at home mom’s were a bit rare.  I kind of had a moment in the grocery store today - not having any clue when I was snatching cookies out of her freezer 25 years ago that I would be a stay at home mom as well.  Or, in both Ani and James’ classes, they have buddies that are the sons and daughters of good friends of mine that I grew up with.  Or, Jayson and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary by going canoeing of Lake Bemidji, a lake that I played on since I was a kid.  The contrast of coming back from India, a place that was so foreign to us, to place that was my home for all of my growing up years, is all a bit foreboding.  

I’ve been making photo albums of our time in India for each of the kids.  I do not hesitate to tell you that I have weeped with every child as I look back on who they were when we first boarded the plane to who they are now.  I have been kind of avoiding the task of the needed photo albums, in part because I am rubbish at making photo albums, in part because I emotionally could not muster the energy to pick out 20 pages of pics that best describe each child’s life.  But here I am, both cursing my horrific inabilities and sniffling through the process.  Three and half down, and the other half of Jovie’s will be done in the coming nights. 

First Days in India for The Palm Six

Jayson heads down to Minneapolis tomorrow for the rest of the week.  His goal is to be down three days a week, every week for the month of September.  70% of jobs are found through networking, so noodlie-doolie, to networking we go.  He’s really been hard at it for the last two months.  Every month is ramped up another notch.  We still stand with hope and courage that a job is just around the corner.  Most days we stand that way, it would be untrue of me to not tell you I do have my moments of slum-bummin’ it, that’s for sure.  The peach and blueberry cobbler tastes that much sweeter in those moments, which I am grateful for.

On a separate, side note, thanks to all of you for your cheers for me to keep on writing.  Along with the comments on the blog, I also got a nice round of fun emails from you all.  Thank you, thank you.  That was not my intent in posing that question to you all, but thanks nonetheless.  I am going to keep on blogging.  But a few changes will happen.  We are not going to keep on emailing you when I have a new post.  There are about 400 people that read the blog and only 40 plus that are signed up through the blog to automatically receive it.  So, Jayson is going to type out below about how to subscribe to the blog, so you can receive an email through the blogging service when I do blog.  I think I will shorten my blogs as well, try to keep them weekly again, and I have no idea what I am going to write about, but I do want to write, so noodlie-doodlie, to writing I go.


How to receive notification in your email every time Tarrah posts a new blog:

  1. Look to the right and find the heading "Subscribe Via Email",
  2. Click in the box just below "Enter your email address" and type your email address,
  3. Finally, click "Subscribe".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dipping Chapati into Ketchup

I had to put some kind of picture in the blog. This is what you get.

I am eating frozen blueberries.  They are my favorite evening treat during the summer.  Take a fresh pint of blueberries, wash, freeze on a cookie sheet and then toss into a Zippie in the freezer.  My mom does it for me.  She’s a gem.  I do love the perks of living with my folks.  Another perk is that Jayson and I are able to go for a run in the morning together whilst the children are snoozing and my mom is getting ready for work.  Together.  Did you hear that?  Glorious.  
I am not sure if you recall my blog about the Wolfe boys... our friends Sarah and Chris, who live in Texas, have five boys, all around our kid’s ages.  Well, Sarah flew me down there to spend time together (and fabulous it was) and then for me to also help fly her oldest back to Minneapolis to spend a bit more time with his grandparents... Anyway, I had this squirrelly idea to bring James with me.  Previously, James had been feeling restless with his three sisters and no friends around, so what better therapy than to bring him to destination Camp Wolfe in Texas with me?  And he had the time of his life.  All boys, all the time.  We swam, we watched baseball, we played Legos, we watched Cars 2, we went to Sonic, we stayed up late.  It was such a pleasure to see James totally able to let loose and have fun.  
Bemidji.  My parent’s house.  This time.... for me, has high monastic-like qualities. I do say that with a smile on my face, knowing that I have four young kids around.  But I cannot tell you how true it is.  Monastic in the sense of quietude and simplicity. It’s the way I know how to heal right now.  My reading companions currently are really quite thoughtful and solitary as well.  I just finished the Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography.  I cried at the end.  Even though it is a whopper of book, it’s a really great read.   
The Palm Six are okay. I feel like on any given today we are so grateful to be at my parent’s house.  The enjoyment and freedom of playing, in an uninterrupted schedule.  Today, Jovie did not want the grilled cheese I was making for lunch, so I gave her some curry and chapati (Indian flat bread).  She didn’t want the curry, but asked for ketchup instead.  So, merry on she went dipping her chapati into ketchup.  That’s us.  Leaving a tremendous amount of space for things that don’t make sense.   And trying not to take ourselves too seriously.
Jayson is a total rock star in looking for a job.  I am so proud of him.  Tomorrow he drives down to Minneapolis for a handful of interviews and a dozen networking meetings.  
Enough about him.  I am not altogether sure what to with my blog.  To write or not to write is the question.  I am so heady right now.  I don’t really have any bizarre stories, and I don’t even have a camera to take shots of the kids doing what we do here...  I don’t know people.  What’s that phrase, the jury is still out on the verdict.  Is that right?  Oh well, would love to hear from you about what I should do about the blog.  Let the people speak. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nutty as a Fruitcake

Our favorite road trip pic

Happy birthday Syd! - June 19

Where I am writing right now is in front of a very large mirror.  I am not sure how I feel about that.  I see that my newly waxed eyebrows and covered-up gray hair are looking quite... hmm, well, to be honest, fresh.  And I kind of like it.  Today, I am a new age.  34.  And all in one day, my mom colored my hair and she sent me in for an eyebrow wax, facial, and pedicure.  All in one day I say.  My body is a bit shocked.  And I’ve got this cute new red zip-up sweatshirt that Jayson got me... I guess I am just ready.  Ready for this 34th year.  Ready for... well, I don’t know.  We’ve got jobs, home, schools, neighborhood, health insurance, pediatricians...  all to be filled in.  And my new eyebrows and red sweatshirt are ready.

When I last left you, we were packing up to go on a road trip.  Rockford, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Wisconsin Dells, and back to Bemidji.  It was quite the trip.  We covered some sweet mileage and spent time with very great friends and family along the way.  I am going to attempt something very challenging for me, but because I am 34 now, I am going to do just do it.  And my vacuumed out facial pores are going to help me.  I am going to sum up each stop in two sentences.  

Rockford (where Jayson was born): Jayson’s mom hung out with the kids while we went into Chicago for the weekend - she is a total rock star.  Loved seeing Jayson’s grandpa (Mor Far) and other aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Chicago: Talked for two straight days with our friends/mentors about our time in India, current status, and what’s to come.  We walked out of that weekend with a better understanding of why we are as nutty as a fruitcake currently and started the process of healing - we are so appreciative of them.

St. Louis:  Had great fun with Jayson’s sister and her family (we give a shout out to Denver, our newest nephew, born June 12) and Jayson’s folks.  I loved watching the cousins and adults get back into the groove like no time has past. 

Fun with the cousins in St. Louis


Nashville:  Who knew Tennessee was two states away from Florida (we got pretty south)? Spent a very merry weekend with Jayson’s other sister and husband, trying to catch a glimpse of their world, and loving it.

Wisconsin Dells:  This was an 18 hour pit stop - the half way point between Nashville and Bemidji.  It turned out to be a wonderfully fun and needed time for the Palm Six to just be us.

I did it, two sentences each, but I totally wiggled around with the parenthesis, commas, and hyphens.  Yikes.  We were on the road for a total of 40 hours, the same amount of time it took us to get back from India.  The kids asked if we can withhold a bit from the 40-hour-block traveling in the near future.

A few days after we got back to Bemidji we did take another long weekend down to Minneapolis/Owatonna for a few family showers and a graduation.  Again, it’s great to reconnect with family.  We also spent a few days with Sarah, David, and kids.  The kids were a bit beside themselves that we have been in the States and hadn’t seen the Landt kids.  We’ve missed them.

I am not quite sure what to say about our current status, folks.  I do know that change takes courage.  And we are in a whole lot of change.  Not just change, but recovery as well.  Some days I feel like change is for the birds, other days I have a bit more gumption. Soon, I will start sharing in more detail... but for now, this is all I got.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quite the Lovely Evening

Adding to the all-important "to do" list
It's quite the lovely evening here in northern Minnesota. It's actually what everyone imagines a northern Minnesota evening to be. If one has ever imagined about it I guess. It's about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Slight breeze. A Minnesota Twins baseball game is playing on the radio in the background. My dad is tinkering on his fishing boat. A mosquito is buzzing around my head and I just pulled a wood tick off my back, which always weirds me out. Anyway, this is our current reality, just thought I would let you in on it.

Its been about 2 ½ weeks since I last wrote. Let's back up a bit. Our last few days in India went relatively smooth. Sarah successfully packed us up and Jayson finished training in a new Freedom Firm staff. I know I will sound cliché, but it's oh so true... I had been so grateful for our friends these last 2 ½ years in India, but I really didn't feel the magnitude of how great our friendships were until we were saying our goodbyes, until we gave our last hugs, until I saw their tears and mine, until they prayed with us, until I read their cards, until we were driving away, until I felt a deep sense of loss as I was driving down the mountain for the last time. The nature of goodbyes are a bit awful really, I always feel stormy inside. I miss you dear friends.

Buckingham, Ketchum, and Palm families

Thank you Sarah

Freedom Firm staff at the farewell

Our plane ride was rather uneventful. Lots of sitting, lots of TV watching on the planes. I would like to kiss whomever put those sweet personal TV's on British Airways flights. I have loved them since I met them nearly 10 years ago. Our trip was extended a bit at the end by 4 hours, but after 30 plus hours of travel already, it all kind of blurs together.

Photos of the journey home

We have been a bit reclusive these last 10 days. Well, I have been. Jayson has been forced (with gratitude) to enter into the world with a few interviews and a trip down to Minneapolis. We have enjoyed the peace of my parent's house. The first few days back I was at an all time of high of coo-cooness. It was the combination of being tired from the actual move, the grotesque jet-lag, trying to get my head around what had just happened and knowing the future is a bit of a blank slate. I feel better now. I still have a long way to go, but I am hopeful. In a few days we are heading down to Chicago to meet with some dear friends, Dave and Glenda, to help us start wading through all that we have done and been through in regards to India and Freedom Firm. These friends of ours are wise, insightful, show great hospitality, and validate well. Dave actually officiated our wedding. We are thankful for them.

We will continue on from Chicago to St. Louis to see Jayson's folks and sister's family. Then on to Nashville to see Jayson's other sister. We will be on the road for about 11 days and we are glad for it. Yesterday, I had to go to the bank for about a 10 minute meeting and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed about taking the kids with me. And the thought I had was, I would rather take the kids on a 40 hour plane/taxi ride/journey than take them to the bank. Some of those kinds of feelings take up a large part of my re-entry back. I don't make a lot of sense right now. I am not super fun or light to be around. That's okay for now. The kids are reeling as well. From the outside, they probably look fine, but they have their own sort of transitioning as well. They all have had super weird tummies since we got back, picking up all sorts of new kinds of bacteria to get used to. They are in a bit of slow motion, taking everything in. They are wanting to tell people their stories, where they have just come from, what they have just been through, but are finding it difficult. That's okay for now too. Jayson has one foot in transitioning and one foot in finding a job. Which is also sort of weird. He's a bit wonky as well. Oh well, what's a family of six that just moved back from India to do... Be wonky, eat ice-cream, and try to put one foot in front of the other. Until after the road trip...  

Jovie was sad to say goodbye to Naseema
Last day at Hebron School
It was sad saying goodbye