Author Archives: perfectpieceoftime

About perfectpieceoftime

I am a wife, mother of two girls, and a teacher by training. Currently, all my teaching goes into raising my daughters and that is the best job in the world (even though I don't get paid for it).

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Christmas break marks a big change for Piper.  She has been working at the cafe a few days a week since the new year.  She is only 11, but this marks a big change as I know that from here the work and the responsibilities will just build on what all started at the beginning of 2019.  Who would’ve thought that 11 would be such a big year?  When I think back to being 11 now, I guess it was big for me too.  I left my catholic school and started public middle school.  Started my period.  (So fun to start right when you are the new kid at a new school! Ugh!) And at 11, I also made a pact with my best friend that it would be the year that we kissed a boy (that didn’t happen until I was 15 though. 😉 ) . Piper turned 11 eleven months ago now and what an (almost) year it has been.  My little shorty isn’t so short any more for one thing.

She had decided that she wanted to teach a class on book binding to other kids her age.  She told her friends and asked me to post it on the neighborhood Facebook page.  Well, there was so much interest that we capped the class at 10 and she will be having another class in the near future!  I was so proud of her watching her prep for the class, while also fitting in her surf lifesaving summer program and working at the cafe.  Oh and a run with her friends!  Yes, the kid who has always hated running has decided that she wants to do the 10k in April and has started training.  She wanted me to help with the art class but ONLY when she asked me.  I was nervous for her, but the kids really enjoyed it and some 11 year old boys told their parents that Piper was a great teacher. 🙂 . So sweet.  Now that she is making money, we made an appointment to get her a bank account here.  She was so cute, the night before she asked, “Should I dress nice?”  I thought she was talking about for work the next day and so I said, “No, but maybe don’t wear shorts since you will be carrying hot drinks.”  (Remember, this is the child who ended up in the burn center).  And she said, “Not to work, but to the bank.”  Precious!  Maybe 50 years ago, that was a thing, but now I told her to just get ready for work and that was also fine for the bank.

Our move has provided so many unexpected joys.  This morning Brian and I went on a hike without the kids and he said it almost feels like Piper is a character in a book.  It’s like she is the American Girl: Girl of the Year character.  What’s her story?  Piper is an 11 year old girl who has just recently moved to New Zealand so that her dad could pursue his PhD.  She is homeschooled and was sad to leave her friends and family back in California.  Little did she know that new opportunities and adventures await her in New Zealand!  She gets a job at the cafe across the street a few hours a week and gets the chance to teach art classes to the kids in the area, which she loves!  To see how Piper handles these big changes, you’ll have to read the book! 😉

Piper has always seemed so old.  Even when she was a little pipsqueak in Kindergarten, she acted so grown up.  This isn’t a good or bad quality, it is just the way it is.  Tatum has always enjoyed being little and doesn’t want to grow up and that is just great too.  But this move has been so great for her as well.  She is 8 years old and is a free bird!  The other day I went to pick her up from surf lifesaving camp and there she is walking home with the neighbor on her own.  The town is just over 2km end to end and 1km from the beach to the edge of town.  We live smack dab in the middle which means the kids can go to their friends house and vise versa whenever they want.  These changes were on the horizon for Piper even back in the US.  I would send her to the store for milk and so on.  But I try to tell Tatum how lucky she is that she gets to live the childhood that my parents did.  Her memories will be playing with friends until it gets dark.  Riding bikes to the forest and making hideouts, and finding just enough coins to get an ice cream at the dairy.  For these moments of childhood I am grateful.  For Piper to have her last years of childhood so carefree and for Tatum to have discovered a new found freedom with her bike and her sister is a gift that I didn’t exactly expect.

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Piper’s first job

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Book making class was a success

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A Christmas Letter

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We started the year off with a few new pets from Christmas and THEN we made the decision to move to New Zealand.  I got a baby tortoise named Rocco, and Tatum and I got guinea pigs, Taffy and Cinnamon. We went from only having Frankie to 4 pets!  Mom got a job working at a winery. It was a cool location in San Juan Capistrano, with an old house and an active train tracks. We would smash pennies on the tracks when we were there.  For Christmas, we all got passes to Knott’s Berry Farm. I love Knott’s, they have the best roller coasters, so I decided to celebrate my 11th birthday there. In March, Clover’s 4th birthday was at the park with a yummy rainbow cake and later that month, we went to Arizona with Grandma, and without dad to celebrate Aunt TT’s 40th birthday.  In April, Clover hit her head on our fireplace and got stitches on her forehead and Tatum turned 8. Tatum had a Kit Kittredge American Girl mystery birthday at one of our favorite beaches, Crystal Cove. We had the party at one of the historic cottages and stayed 2 nights. On Tatum’s actual birthday, we went to the beach and Tatum and I got baptized.  Once May came, everything got crazy with moving, garage sales, selling furniture, cars, everything, gone! The saddest thing was that we couldn’t bring our dog to New Zealand. It cost $8,000 and a long time in quarantine. In June, my cousin Christian’s adoption was finalized which was exciting. But we also had a lot of our “lasts”. Tatum and I had our last piano recital.  She played the national anthem and I played Eidelweiss. We had our end of the year homeschool show where Tatum sang “You are my All in All” and I memorized and recited Longfellow’s very long poem “Paul Revere’s Ride”. I had my last gymnastics, which was really sad because I had been going there since kindergarten. And all three of us ended June with our ballet recital. June 30th was the craziest day!  We had to be out of our house and we had two shows for our recital that day! That night we stayed at my Nana and Papa’s house and on July 1st it was bye-bye California, Hello Roadtrip!

We built bunk beds in our 12 seater Sprinter van and packed all the stuff we would need for a 7,000 mile and month long road trip.  First stop, Arizona where we said goodbye to our big family. Tatum belly flopped right off the high dive at the pool! Jade, Grandma and our family stayed at a waterpark hotel with the rest of our family.  It was so hot, 120F, that it melted the a magnet off of our new car! We celebrated the 4th of July with my 2nd cousins and great grandparents. From there, we headed to Colorado by way of New Mexico. We saw my mom’s cousin and enjoyed the beauty there.  We woke up early one morning and drove 12 hours through flat, unchanging Kansas to Missouri to meet my mom’s aunt at an epic fireworks show. We met more 2nd cousins and got to ride in a horse drawn carriage to the Gateway Arch. We also spent 2 days on my cousin’s boat wakeboarding and swimming in a 70F lake.  On our way out from Missouri, we got a tour of where my great grandma was born by my mom’s uncle. We drove through an Amish town and saw people riding buggies down the street. That night, we stayed in Hannibal on the Mississippi River where Mark Twain was born. Next stop was Wisconsin to see my dad’s family. We stayed at my great aunt’s house with her grandkids (more cousins!)  We had a BBQ where got to go on a hayride, and went to an island in the middle of the Mississippi River where the homestead of my great great grandpa’s house was and got eaten alive by mosquitos. Then we swam in the mighty Mississippi river. One night, we also went on a paddleboat pizza cruise on the river. We left Wisconsin and drove through South Dakota and saw the Badlands and Mount Rushmore and stayed in the adorable tiny town of Wall.  Our next stay was in a teepee by Devil’s Tower, with an amazing view. From there we drove to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. On our way to our camp, we got stuck behind a bison in the middle of the road. We camped in the middle of nowhere by a beautiful river one night and in a prairie with a view of the Tetons another. It was breathtaking. In Yellowstone we swam in a swimming hole heated by hot springs. Montana was the place I was most excited about to visit because I had such good memories of there.  On our way, we stopped and swam at a crystal clear lake. We got to our family’s house on my cousin Brooklyn’s birthday and went to the rodeo. It was super cool and our first rodeo. Then I got to sleep on the trampoline with her and her friends. I didn’t go to bed until 4am! I probably saw 25 shooting stars! The next day was Savannah’s birthday and we spent the day at a lake that had clay cliffs where we made bowls that we hardened in the sun. Like every other stop it was sad to say goodbye but we were headed to some more cousins in Idaho.  There it was more fun swimming and also tubing in the creek near their house. We celebrated my dad’s birthday there. Our last stop was Twin Lakes, my favorite place in the world which we have been going to since I was 5 with our friends, the Coopmans. We spent the days tubing, fishing and playing on the beach. It was the perfect ending to our trip. Our last two weeks in America were spent with our friends the Paulsons. They hosted a going away party and afterward, the dads took all of us to toilet paper our friends’ houses! We love America, but it was time for us to say goodbye to everything we knew and go to New Zealand. By Piper

 

We arrived in New Zealand the 18th of August.  I expected our town to be a lot smaller but it still is pretty small.  There are thousands of farms and everywhere you go, you see green grass and trees.  There are a lot of forests. There is one with an epic playground in the forest called, Middle Earth, and on the walk there you go through a fairy garden there is an obstacle course that I’ve gotten really good at.  Almost every day we walk to the beach. There are so many shells, bones and driftwood. You can walk forever on the beach. Cars and horses are also allowed. There is also a super fun river that we play in that goes into the ocean.  It is cool being able to walk to the forest and the beach. At first, we didn’t fully like our house, but once we got our Ninja Line up it was A LOT better. Then we got our bunnies and made our house a lot more homey. We hold our bunnies almost everyday now.  We have a garden and had like a 10 pound cabbage and a little too much kale, but no worries, our bunnies like kale.

All of a sudden God answered our prayers for a friend and we met Fern.  Now we play with her almost everyday. She was raising a lamb named Lulu who is so cute.  Then Fern introduced me and Piper to another friend, Courtney. Now we are friends with both of them and all of us are making up a dance.  We’ve also met our next door neighbor, Brian, who is 7. We play with him everyday. Fern told us we should join Scouts. So we did and it is so fun!  Once we lit a fire in a volcano made of sand. We also went abseiling, cooked pancakes on a coffee tin, and the best part was getting pulled on a mat by a tractor in a pasture.  Whenever you fell off you got covered in cow poop. We had a blast! Piper and I have joined a soccer team and Piper scored a goal. Not only soccer, but all three of us joined gymnastics.  Everyone looks forward to going. I LOVE New Zealand and I hope you do too. By Tatum

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A Christmas Carol

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I love Christmas carols, like old hymns that have been sung for hundreds of years.  I can do without any of the songs played on the radio station KOST, and definitely can’t stand Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is You.  When it becomes decided that songs with any sort of religious content become offensive, you hear the same playlist of 12 songs over and over and I’m usually over hearing Christmas songs at the stores before December has even begun.

But there are so many songs I LOVE!  I won’t get into all of them, but O Holy Night is pretty high up on the list.  I love the verse that says

Truly He taught us to love one another

His law is love and his gospel is peace

I’m reading the book Everybody Always right now and love the simplicity of it.  It is as simple as the lines from the Christmas carol above.  Can we just work on loving one another?

I’ve concluded we can be correct and not right.  Know what I mean?  I do this most often when I have the right words and the wrong heart.  Sadly, whenever I make my opinions more important that the difficult people God made, I turn the wine back into water.  I’m trying to resist the bait that darkness offers me every day to trade kindness for rightness….Pick the most controversial social issue of the day, and you’ll find passionate voices on all sides.  The sad fact is, many of us have lost our way trying to help people find theirs…

We don’t need to spend as much time as we do telling people what we think about what they are doing.  Loving people doesn’t mean we need to control their conduct…Loving people means caring without an agenda.  As soon as we have an agenda, it’s not love anymore…

There’s no school to learn how to love your neighbor, just the house next door.  No one expects us to love them flawlessly, but we can love them fearlessly, furiously, and unreasonably… 

The other book I am reading at the moment, my fictional book, is A Christmas Carol.  Like how I titled it A Christmas Carol?  You thought it was just about the one carol didn’t you? ;).

Scrooge is being visited by his dead business partner, who we learn was pretty “Scrooge-like” as well, when he was alive.  He appears to Scrooge to give him a warning and share his regrets:

But you were always a good man of business, Jacob, faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

Business! cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again.  Mankind was my business.  The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business.  The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business.  

This town is small, and just like in a big city, there is hurt and pain and happiness all mixed up here.  The single moms are my business, the family wrecked by suicide is my business, the kinda creepy guy who walks intently down the street is my business, the little boy who wears dresses and told Clover that he knows the “F” word and “shit” and says it all the time, is my business.  Not out of obligation, but out of a firm belief that this stuff about love is truth.  It makes me think about the “ABOUT” section that I wrote 7 years ago on this blog.  Life is short, what are we doing with this tiny blip that we are here for.  If we break it down to a day, it is an even tinier blip. But still, it is the perfect. piece. of. time. to love your neighbors and to make that your business.

Oh and one more thing.  Have grace.  You’re not going to get it right all the time.  I’m not going to get it right all the time.  I believe this stuff about love, but I may not always act the way I should.  Have grace.

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Journey

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For 14 months our family has been praying about where we should live.  A year ago we wondered if it was California or New Zealand, then it was praying for a house in Wellington, and then when we landed here it was a question of do we stay at the beach or still try to get back to Wellington.  I am happy to say that, for now, we can close that book and will not be praying about housing for some time.

Back in July we were contacted by the vicar and his wife of the small church we attended in our neighborhood in Wellington.  They were looking to buy a second home and wanted us to live in it and be a part of their community again.  They were attracted to our desire to live in community with those around us and wanted another family to journey with in using the church to reach out to the local community.  We were honored to say the least!  And felt excited that an opportunity had come up that would allow us to be back to a familiar place.  They put a few offers on some houses and each time they were outbid.  Meanwhile, my kids were adjusting to life here at the beach where they have the freedom to explore and ride around the town and most importantly, they had made friends.

As time went on, after my first weeks here where I was angry that critters were living in my attic, I started to just plant roots instead of waiting to see if the Wellington option would work out.  And then, what to my wondering eyes should appear!  Not a miniature sleigh, but a beautiful house in Wellington with the hopes that our family would occupy it.  I felt confused by this, because we were in a good place, and no one wanted to move.  We prayed and wanted to be willing to move, but if you asked us, we were happy here.  I had the chance to live in the nicest and biggest house I have ever lived in, and yet, suddenly, I realized it’s not about a house.  We shared our uncertainty with this couple, and as you can imagine, I was nervous.  They had just done the most generous thing and we were not sure if we would accept the offer.  At one point, Catherine told me that her mum had a vision of the house being a lifeline.  She said, “When I saw you that day at the playground you needed a lifeline and I didn’t have one to offer you.  And now I am throwing you a lifeline and you aren’t taking it, and I find that very interesting.”  And while her husband thought that was a bit frank, and personally, I think Brian did too, it was the thing I most needed to hear.  It became clear that we weren’t in need of a lifeline.  If this house is intended to be a lifeline I definitely wouldn’t want to take that away from the person or family who desperately needs it.

Since we tend to teeter on the fence, we asked them to tell us when they would like a final answer and they gave us five days.  I was happy to know that we wouldn’t be sitting on this decision for 5 months as we had about the move overseas.  Knowing that we weren’t in need of a lifeline helped us be at peace with telling them, with certainty, two days later via email, that we were going to stay at the beach and that we can’t wait to see how the story unfolds.  We still had planned to chat at the 5 day mark, but since we had an answer we wanted to let them know about it as well.

Another pit in my stomach as my phone rang for our FaceTime call.  I hoped that they would be gracious with us, but would understand if they were disappointed as well.  God is so so good and what they thought was their plan B was His plan A.  There is a young man, 18 years old, who used to attend the church, but the family had moved back to Tonga and had been living their for the past 6 years.  He had come back and was looking for a house to rent for his mum, dad, grandmother and younger brother to come live in and no one would take him seriously.  His race and his age and his financial situation made it difficult for him to be able to rent something.  The family had pretty much given up on the idea of moving back to Wellington.  Little old grandma, with the faith of a giant, said, just give it a few more days, I feel that something is about to happen.. When our friends, approached the young man, not knowing any of this part of their story, he said, This is a miracle!

God doesn’t owe us His perspective on things, and we don’t always get to see how things will work out, but what a blessing to the 4 of us, Brian and I and our friends, Paul and Catherine, in Northland, to be able to take this journey together since July.  It has been no doubt confusing at times, but what an amazing ending to know that this idea of a lifeline, was God-given and intended for a family desperately in need.  And the idea of going back to the familiarity of Wellington is exactly what I needed to get me through my first weeks here, even if it never were going to become a reality.  The young man’s name is Brian.  And so we joked that they probably were hearing from God that the house was for Brian and that he will be coming from another country.  It was just a different Brian!  I am so happy that I got to be a part of this journey and see God’s hand at work in very tangible ways.

So if you need me, you can find me here in Waitarere.

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Deferred Gratification (and other growing pains)

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Our family is getting used to a new norm in so many ways.  One way that makes itself evident on a nearly daily basis is the fact that money is tight! I grew up without extra and have memories of running out of toilet paper.  I hated running out of toilet paper.  I also would get new Keds-type shoes at the beginning of the school year.  Notice I said, “Keds-type” because they were really from Target or Payless.  And after some months my toes would be curled in there desperately needing a new pair, but that would have to wait until money allowed.

We have lived frugally on one income for the kids’ entire lives, but we are always well stocked in the toilet paper department and I will not let them wear shoes that are too small for them even if they love them still.  (Bunions!) Things are different now, but we chose “different” and I am aware of that.  This isn’t a call for sympathy or anything like that.  We sat down with the kids and went over finances with them.  Wait, that’s a lie.  Actually, Brian sat us all down and went over the budget and finances with us.  For the first few weeks we wrote everything expense down.  The kids got to visually see the number decrease.  And then. Bam!  On Sept. 16, Brian said, “Just so you know we have $80 left.”  All kinds of ugly was bubbling up inside of me.  I don’t like doing hard things like this.  I spent years of my childhood being poor.  I don’t want to do this again.  Other thoughts were, why did we come here?  Life was good back home.  And lastly, I guess I won’t be getting the bookcase I had my eye on for $40.  Deferred gratification sucks.

Miraculously, with the help of my first born probably, we looked at it as a challenge and tried to see if we could make our food last.  One day we went to the store and we had $30 left in the bank.  I just needed a few essentials that could go a long way.  I also had $17 in my wallet.  I wasn’t totally paying attention to how much I was spending, which is actually interesting, I wasn’t anxious or nervous or anything when I got to the front.  The lady said that my total was $47.  I had exactly enough money to buy my groceries!

We have some emergency money, and I knew I could delve into that if I needed to and I was pretty sure I was going to need to.  The days kept ticking away without us having to get bread or milk or anything.  It became a game and somehow we made it to payday!

The kids were invited to go skating with a friend and they had to use their own money.  We found some coins and were all able to enjoy a kiddie cone at the dairy across the street one warm Sunday afternoon after working hard in the yard.  The kids have a job on Friday to wash a car and earn $5 each.  I’ve taught them Solitaire and Sudoku and our evenings are now spent playing these games.  For the first time in their life, we aren’t able to treat them in ways that cost money and yet all of their needs are met.

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Tatum asked me the other night, “What was our budget in California?  I feel like we could get whatever we wanted.”  I would have never thought that they felt that way.  Honestly, we went to great restaurants, but only on kids-eat-free nights or during happy hour.  We found cool stuff to do, but usually we only went if there was a special or a free day.  I only took them to the movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when they played for $5.  I let them buy useless junk if we were at a garage sale and it cost me a few coins.  I knew I was making the most of our money, but they could only see the extravagant life they were living.  And I guess that was the point.  I wanted them to feel like they weren’t lacking anything, while still living frugally.  I cringe now as I just wrote that.  I don’t know if that is healthy or not, but it’s the truth.

You may be wondering why I am sharing this.  Why I am letting you in on a conversation about my finances?  Because by the grace of God it only took me a few days to feel the blessings in these growing pains.  It has been SO good for the kids to see that everything costs money and that there isn’t an endless supply.  I would have never chosen to teach them this way, but hey here it is!  Brian and I are both missing our drinks, both alcoholic and caffeinated.  I think that going out for a drink became an easy date, cheaper than a meal, especially when we were here last year.  So many great cafes!  But the drinks are a definite non-necessity and it is where we feel it the most, especially if the day is cold and gloomy, and I wish I could be sitting in a cafe or if the kids have been especially difficult and I want to end the day with glass of wine.  Wow I literally just sighed as I wrote that.  This is not for forever, dear self.  The second gift that has come from this, empathy!  I am feeling for those who are living in poverty and who are living paycheck to paycheck.  We want to live within our means, and right now that technically means we are below the poverty line.  Luckily, we know that if an emergency occurred, we could pull money out of savings.  And in other good news, I can start subbing this week!  I pray that we can be wise with our money even as our monthly income increases.

The hardest goodbye for the kids was their Boston Terrier brother, Frankie.  They also had to re-home their guinea pigs and tortoise.  So, with the move we promised them they could get bunnies, something they have always wanted.  Another gift that our budget has brought into our lives is the gift of ingenuity.  As soon as we got here, they were ready for bunnies, but it was another case of deferred gratification and a lot of ingenuity.  We got all the bunny books out at the library and researched rabbits.  Piper designed a hutch based on what she read they needed.  And with the scrap wood we had in our backyard and other random stuff we found on the property, they built (with the help of their dad) a hutch that is pretty awesome that only cost them some nails.  Two days ago, after weeks of waiting for these particular bunnies to be big enough, they got their bunnies!  I may have not bought a new hutch if we were on our old “budget”.  I may have looked on Craigslist or Marketplace or something.  But to see them make this hutch out of nothing was pretty cool and they are pretty proud of it too.  I mean it looks like a shanty town hutch.  The wood is mismatched and whatnot, but it is cozy and roomy for our two new furry friends.  Okay, scroll down for some seriously cute bunny pics.  Piper’s is Cali (short for California and Tatum’s is Cottontail.

So, how do I end this?  Embrace challenges.  Maybe God is trying to teach you something.  If you’re like me your initial reaction is anger and I turn into a grump, but don’t stay grumpy, look for an opportunity to see how the challenge can be used to refine you.

Where do we go from here?

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I seriously feel ill about the state of our Union.  Like a pit in my stomach, a real, very literal feeling that the attacks on both Ford and Kavanaugh are having on me.  It is like we are forgetting that these are real people with real families.  It is sad and disheartening that we can treat an individual so disrespectfully, more because of political affiliation than anything else.  More than justice, more than truth.  It is sad that children are hearing conversations about individuals that are shaping their ideas on acceptable ways to treat a person of the opposite sex.  Mothers are worried about their daughters who are growing up in this world, wanting it to be a place where they can come forward with injustice.  Mothers are also worried about their sons and the possible threat of a woman’s word being able to change the rest of their life.

These are the conversations being had in my home.  Conversations about the value of an individual, every man and woman, about consent  and about being a safe place to share.  All of this wrapped in sadness.

When I think about the women I know who have been sexually assaulted, abused or taken advantage of, it is staggering!  I can list individuals, and yet the outcome of the situations were never handled appropriately.  Maybe we knew it was wrong but didn’t know what to do.

I almost titled this My #metoo, but I am fortunate enough that I have never been abused.  I am going to share, however, a little bit about something that happened to me personally where this all became very real.

I was 21 years old, living in another country for the summer on a cross cultural internship.  I was young and naive and moved into a family where everyone suddenly became family.  Every person I met who was older than me I had to call “Auntie” or “Uncle”.  If they were my age, they were “cuzzy”.  I became “Auntie Brooke” to all these cute little kiddos so quickly bonds were formed.  After 6 weeks there, the husband and wife of the house had some business to take care of and they left a relative in charge of the farm.  I didn’t think twice, I didn’t feel nervous.  These were my “family” and this was my home away from home.  There were some boys around my age and their uncle who was left in charge.  He was married with kids, but they stayed home.

One night we watched a movie in the living room and I fell asleep during it.  I woke up to someone rubbing my leg.  My heart started to beat fast and I wondered who it was.  I pulled my leg away and flipped over pretending to be half asleep, but also being very deliberate to see who it was and where the others were as I turned over.  It was me and the Uncle in the living room.  The others had gone to their room I assumed which was actually in a separate trailer outside.  The thoughts of what was about to occur were frightening.  I was in. the. middle. of. nowhere.  No neighbors for miles, no market or gas station to run to.  Two hours from town. Stupid of me you may be thinking.  But nothing in me thought that staying in the house with only these adult men was a bad idea.  First of all, the people I was staying with thought it was fine to leave me.  Second, like I said, after 6 weeks of living day in and day out, I felt very comfortable.

I faked sleeping as he rubbed my leg, pulling it away, but trying to act natural, all the while coming up with a plan in my head.  I thought of running out of the house, but wondered if he would grab me, but I felt I had no other choice.  I went to the restroom and then ran out the front door to the trailer.  I woke the other two up and told them what happened.  I stayed in the trailer for the night as they fell back asleep acting like it was no big deal.

To be perfectly clear, nothing happened.  I was not abused.  But I very much felt I was in the position of feeling powerless.  And that is not okay.  There was no asking, no consent, but only a feeling of being taken advantage of, which was a very very scary.  It was the scariest moment of my life, because for those moments that I laid there, aware that I was very literally all alone with a man much bigger than me who obviously wanted something I did not want, I didn’t know how it was going to end.  And I was unsure if I would get to choose how it ended or not.  I was unsure what would happen if I got up.  I was unsure what would happen if I screamed.  I was unsure what would happen if I ran.

My overseas adventure ended early because of the experience and I came home.  With the prompting of my mom, probably, I told my professor as this was a school internship that I was getting credit for.  I left there disappointed, and would handle it very differently now hopefully.  He made me feel that it was my fault.  He made me feel that I shouldn’t have been there alone without another female, though I told him that they left me there with them.  I didn’t have a car.  I had the chance to say, “Wait.  Stop.  Hold on I’m not okay with this.  I want to stay somewhere else.”  But, call me naive, I didn’t feel that way.  I wonder now if he subconsciously (or consciously) blamed me because he was afraid of getting in trouble.

And with the passage of time I have moved on.  I am happily married, have kids and do not talk often about the experience, mostly because there is no need.  I am pretty cautious with my kids and have told them a little bit about why their dad and I aren’t always keen on sleep overs.

I don’t fit into a political box and I am quite sympathetic.  So the other night, I was thinking about my husband.  He is honest and just and an all around good man.  And I thought about how horrible it would be if he were in the public eye and someone wanted to dig up stuff about what he did in high school.  I didn’t know him then, but I know he wasn’t the same person I know now.  And then, I thought about my experience, and I had realization.  No matter how much a person can change, no matter how much time passes, past experiences shape you and change you the rest of your life.  If I heard that this individual who never abused me, but who I felt was unfaithful to his wife that night, who I felt made me feel powerless that night, was going to sit on the Supreme Court, you better believe that I would have a problem it.  Would I have gone public or called him up personally, I don’t know.  It isn’t mine game of what if.  It is like a bad experience at a restaurant.  It is your bad experience.  No matter how many people tell you how great it is.  It is truly truly sad, because obviously someone isn’t being honest with themselves, maybe it is that their memories are vague by the passage of time, or maybe it is intentional.  I truly hope that isn’t the case for either of them.  Personally, I can’t imagine putting myself out there to be ridiculed and doubted for something that is a lie.  But that is what some think, and that is always a possibility, and has happened in the past.  I just ask you this, pray.  Pray for justice, and pray for truth.  We are raising the next generation and they are listening and watching.   

This morning I read this folktale to the kids as part of our ancient history studies.  I saw it as a warning for us as Americans.  We can do great things when we are united.  Where do we go from here?  Well, we start by treating individuals respectfully.

The Hunter and Quail

Once, a flock of quail lived on the banks of a river.  They had plenty to eat and drink but they were afraid of the hunter who came every evening to catch them.  He would creep up to the edge of the flock with his net and then leap out of the bushes.  When the quail scattered, he would catch the nearest bird in his net, carry it back to his house- and eat it for dinner!

One day the oldest of the quail said, “it is easy for the hunter to catch just one of us.  But what if he threw his net over all of us?  We would be strong enough to escape!”

So the next evening when the hunter leaped out of the bushes, the quail all stayed in one flock.  The hunter flung his net over the quail, but they rose up from the ground together, pulled the net out of hands, and flew away, still side by side.  All together, the quail were too strong for the hunter.

But soon the quail began to push and jostle each other, as they crowded together in their safe, strong group. “You’re stepping on my claw!” cried one.  “You’re rumpling my feathers!” cried another.  “You’re squeezing me until I can’t breathe!” complained a third.  Finally they scattered- and the hunter, who had been waiting in the bushes, leaped out and netted them, one by one.  As he headed back to his house, he said, “Together, they are free.  But apart, they are supper!”

Slowly but Surely

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It amazes me how the passage of time changes things.  Just a few short weeks ago I couldn’t imagine myself in this house.  It didn’t feel like me and yet, so so much has happened since then.  Don’t even think for one second that the hideous carpet has grown on me.  Not a chance.  But. But. More of our belongings are filling the house and we have met some neighbors (hooray!) To my surprise, while we were housesitting at Tatum’s friend’s amazing house in our old neighborhood for a few days, Tatum said after the 2nd day, “I want to go home.”  And when Brian asked Piper if she liked being back in Wellington, she said, “I really like Waitarere Beach and Wellington.” When you disrupt your kids lives and take them out of their very comfortable norm, it sure is comforting to see them doing okay, and to be thriving feels like an added bonus.

A few weeks ago we checked out the school because Tatum really wanted to meet friends.  We started praying for friends for the girls, and I was pretty much giddy one week later when there was an impromptu gathering at my house with 2 ladies, their children, a bottle of wine and gluten free brownies.  When we sat down for a dinner of fish n chips, I just wanted to thank God for bringing us to this place in such a short time.  It was our 2nd time ordering fish n chips, the first time was our very first night here, and all I could think about as I was walking back with dinner in my hands was how very different things are…already!  Thank you God for answered prayers!  Fast forward another two weeks and today we took the kids plus 2 friends to a free day at one of the pools and Clover was invited to play with the grandchildren of a woman we met.  So, everyone is making friends.

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Now, let me tell you about Lois, the lady with the grandchildren.  Amazing!  Please, be this person to a new face.  We went to church here after our first week here and Lois gave me her number and invited us over for afternoon tea.  Since then, I have borrowed her vacuum, a paint brush, puzzles, scooter, helmet and more.  It was like I needed one person that I knew I could go to, and by giving me her number (she obviously didn’t know what she was getting herself into!) she became my go-to person.  And the bonus is that she sews!  She has made the big two beautiful dresses and Clover some leggings.

I decided to ask Piper to tell me how things have changed this month.  She is so matter of fact. 🙂   Here is what she had to say:

When we first arrived it was really cold and rainy and the house was hideous.  It was really boring because we had no friends and I was just sitting inside with my family all day.  We have a wood burning stove that we have to light everyday and is a nuisance because we have to watch it all the time.  We live a couple of blocks from the beach and the beach is covered with driftwood, bones and shells. The first day of Spring was on Sept. 1 and since then the weather has gotten way nicer.  Another nice thing is that we have made a few friends and it has gotten a lot less boring.  We’ve attended a church just down the street with only 15 people.  They are all around 70 years old.  We met a really nice lady from the church and she has already made me and Tatum a dress. 

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IMG_7877How gorgeous are these dresses!  I especially love seeing Piper in a dress as she isn’t one to get out of her leggings often.  And btw, what happened to her these past 6 months?!  It is like she grew up all at once!

IMG_4616And one more thing, we are still amazed by the sunsets here.  Every night that we are home Brian takes a picture and Tatum usually goes along hoping to find some more treasures.