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Grace

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

I am tired today.

In the morning, I lose my patience with Lewis because he cries every time I walk away. In the afternoon, I take out my exhaustion on the big boys. Instead of showing them grace, I am harsh and stern with them.

At bedtime, I apologise for my grumpiness and lack of patience, and I thank them for being such wonderful boys. I tell them that it is not them, but me. During prayer time, Jamie (bless him) prays that mummy will not be so stressed.

After I put Lewis to bed, I return to the big boys. I close the door behind me and lie down on the floor with my head on Bear’s bed.

In the still of the darkness, I sing them song after song.

It is my peace offering.

My way of saying “thank you” for the way they love me unconditionally. Because even when I am harsh, these amazing boys show me nothing but grace.

As I sing my last song—You Loved Me—I think of Cameron and how we sang it at his funeral.

I think of his face—his beautiful, sleeping face—and emotion washes over me.

Love. Pain. Regret. Gratitude. Joy. Hope.

My voice becomes shaky, and tears roll down my cheek.

Afterwards, I say a short and quiet pray.

“Dear God, thank you that Cameron is with you…”

Without skipping a beat, all the boys join me in saying, “Amen.”

A moment later, Angus speaks up.

“I’m sad… I’m sad that I never got to see Cameron while he was alive…”

More tears roll down my cheek.

“I know, daring… I’m sad too… I’m sad that Cameron isn’t with us, but I’m so thankful that we have you boys…”

Yes, even in the face of such a terrible loss, God has shown us grace.

Before leaving, I give them all an extra kiss goodnight.

As I lean over Gus, I whisper ever so quietly: “I love you, Angus. Thanks for being you…”

Unwavering

2016 10 10 Fujifim x100s 18 01 27

It is sometime after half past six on a Thursday evening.

I am sitting in the armchair in our bedroom.

Lewis is lying on a pillow on my lap, and I am feeding him. It is his bedtime bottle.

Even though the blind is pulled down, I can tell it is still bright outside by the soft grey light that fills the room.

I look down at my little boy, and I can hardly believe how big he is already.

My little baby.

My last baby.

Growing up so quickly.

Our eyes connect, and we both grin at each other.

In the next room, I can hear Rick begin a “five brothers” story.

When Lewis finishes drinking, I put down the bottle and sit him up.

I draw him close to me, and breathe him in.

I kiss the top of his head, his nose, and his cheeks. He smiles and closes his eyes when he knows I’m about to kiss him.

Our bond is strong and unwavering.

I love him with every beat of my heart, and with every cell in my body.

I stand up, letting the pillow fall to the ground.

I carry him over to the mirror, and we play a quick game of peekaboo.

“Where’s mummy? Here I am! Where’s Lewis? There you are!”

He grins and chuckles and laughs.

Oh, my heart.

I carry him over to his cot, give him a final kiss, and lay him carefully on the mattress.

I open up the window some more, and I pop his dummy into his mouth.

“Goodnight, my darling Lewis. I love you very much. Sleep well…”

He smiles up at me, and I smile back.

“Love you so much,” I whisper.

And with that, I touch his face and walk away…

Afternoons like this

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

It is Tuesday afternoon.

The weather is warm and the light is golden.

All five boys are in the backyard.

Angus, Pete, and Jamie are riding their bikes.

Bear is driving around on the green swing car.

Lewis is sitting in his pram, watching everyone.

We are all buzzing with excitement because Pete has literally just started to ride by himself. Rick was helping him just an hour earlier but then had to go inside to start cooking dinner. Meanwhile, Pete kept trying and trying by himself, and all of a sudden, while nobody was watching, he was off!

Jamie, of course, insists that he is next.

As I watch the boys, it dawns on me that this is a perfectly idyllic afternoon.

Surely when the boys are older, they will recall afternoons like this with a smile on their faces…

* * *

At bedtime, I decide to sit with Lewis in Jamie and Pete’s bedroom for a little while before putting him down.

Jamie comes over and starts pulling his singlet over his face, and then down again.

Lewis takes one look at him then breaks out into bursts of uncontrollable laughter.

Over and over again, Jamie performs his little stunt.

He has Lewis in absolute hysterics.

It is the most beautiful, endearing, and priceless moment of the day for me.

From me to you

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

Dear friends,

There is a lot of ugliness and hurt out there in the world right now, but tonight, I just want to tell you how much I cherish each and every one of you for visiting this space of mine and for reading along.

Thank you for coming back, even though I’ve been rather intermittent with my postings this year. Thank you for your continual love and support.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all a safe and blessed Christmas with you and your families.

Let’s keep writing together in the new year.

With much love,

Ronnie

One Saturday evening…

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

I wave goodbye to Rick and the four big boys at the garage door.

The car pulls up the driveway and then crunches down the gravel road.

Moments later, the house is quiet.

Lewis and I grin at each other.

I carry him upstairs, give him his bottle, and put him down for the night.

I take a shower in the twilight and wash my hair.

When I step back into the bedroom, Lewis is completely quiet. I pad quietly over to his cot. He is fast asleep.

I put my grey linen dress back on, and head downstairs in the dark.

I flick on the range hood light in the kitchen, and I heat up the leftovers from last night’s dinner with other women from the church.

There’s a lovely piece of chicken, some green salad, and Lynsey’s delicious potato salad with the soy sauce and honey marinade.

With great care, I arrange everything on a white plate and then splash some balsamic vinegar onto the green salad.

I also poor myself a glass of orange juice mixed with sparkling water.

I take my food, my drink, and my cutlery into the lounge room and place everything down on the coffee table.

It is now completely dark, so I turn on the two corner lamps for some ambient light.

I walk over to the window overlooking the front path and open it as wide as it can go. A beautiful breeze immediately drifts through the room, along with the dance music from the wedding party up the road.

I grab a cushion from the couch, and I kneel on it at the coffee table.

For the next twenty minutes, I eat and drink by myself.

I savour every bite of food and every sip of my drink.

The breeze gives me tingles, and the music makes me smile.

This solitude. This peace. This quiet.

It refreshes me. Soothes me. Calms me.

Despite the intensity of the week gone past, I feel invigorated.

I feel alive…

Twilight, lately

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

I have always found the twilight hour to be rich with beauty, mystery and allure.

It is the hour the boys fall asleep. Calmness descends, and the quiet I have been craving all day is finally granted.

The other evening, once all was quiet, I slipped out onto our patio, pulled on Rick’s gardening boots, and trudged up the driveway.

I smelt the fresh air. I surveyed the weeds, the bush, and the pebbles. I watched as cars drifted up and down the road, creating their own dancing pattern of bokeh and light.

Soon, the last light faded and the night grew dark. I pulled off the oversized boots and stepped back inside.

Turning around, I saw my husband emerge from the dark corridor, smiling and holding out his arms towards me…

Around here

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

Soba noodles for lunch // glimpses of spring // my creative space

Around here, Lewis has started waking up at five o’clock in the mornings, and then doesn’t want to go back to sleep.

Around here, Rick and I are both heavily sleep-deprived, to say the least.

Around here, term three is finished and school holidays are upon us.

Around here, I can’t wait to just hang out at home with the boys.

Around here, I am re-discovering the joy of writing and journaling.

Around here, we are spending afternoons together in the backyard—making the most of the warm Spring weather.

Around here, it feels like it has always been the seven of us…

This is life

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

Last night, I actually slept.

My first night of sleep in four days.

Perhaps my body is finally fighting off this dreaded virus.

Please, God, let it be so…

* * *

Everyone is up.

Rick, Angus, Pete, and Bear are already downstairs.

I’m tidying the bedrooms upstairs while Jamie is getting dressed (still). Meanwhile, Lewis lies contentedly on our bed, staring at his tiny left fist.

Jamie finishes getting dressed, so I ask him to come and chat with Lewis. He happily obliges.

He lies down next to Lewis on our bed, and for the next ten minutes, he sings him songs, makes funny noises, and tells Lewis made-up stories. Lewis thinks that Jamie is absolutely hilarious. He laughs and laughs and laughs.

Later, Angus comes upstairs and takes Jamie’s place. Lewis gazes at him with adoring eyes.

Boys.

They are literally the sweetest little beings.

And I am blessed beyond measure to have six to call my own.

* * *

While Rick takes Bear up to Forest Way to pick up groceries for our breakfast, I take Lewis upstairs to put him down for a nap—leaving Angus, Pete, and Jamie downstairs to play by themselves.

I check on them after Lewis falls asleep, and they are perfectly content and happy.

No arguments. No whinging.

Jamie sees me and tells me again that he wants to go outside. I ask him if he can possibly wait for another ten to fifteen minutes while I take a quick shower. He is not keen on the idea but, nonetheless, acquiesces.

I return upstairs to wash my hair, thankful for such wonderful boys.

* * *

Rick and Bear return from their shopping expedition with all the ingredients for a sumptious breakfast: Crunchy Nuts cornflakes, croissants with butter and jam, scrambled eggs, chorizo sausages, and grilled tomatos.

The boys pick and choose what they want. I opt for the entire package, as does Rick.

There is also apple juice for the boys and cups of tea for us.

There is no doubt about it: these Saturday morning feasts have surely become my favourite family ritual.

* * *

Whilst sweeping up the floor after breakfast, I suddenly feel light-headed and fatigued.

I tell Rick I need to lie down on the couch for ten minutes. I end up napping for almost two hours.

I surface briefly—long enough to suggest that Rick takes the four big boys off to the lagoon, as I know that Pete is desperate to take his bike out for a ride.

I am disappointed because I was hoping we could all go out together, but I can tell that my body is not up for it. This virus has run me down severely over the last week.

Rick and the boys end up going to Bilarong Reserve, and they have an incredible time together.

“I’m having a blast,” Rick messages me at one point. I am overjoyed for him.

* * *

While Rick and the boys are out, Lewis naps.

I end up pottering around the house, soaking up the peace and quiet.

I heat up my mum’s potato and chicken wings from last night and treat myself to a hot lunch.

I avoid work.

I attempt to read.

I switch off.

I relax.

I succumb to rest.

* * *

In the evening, when everyone is home, I load up the DVD player with The Gods Must Be Crazy 2.

I tell the boys, “It’s a very funny movie.”

Two seconds into it, Gus and Pete both make the comment, “It’s not funny.”

Meanwhile, Rick whips up chicken burgers for everybody with the crumbed tenderloins that he bought in the morning. We all eat in the play room together.

An hour and a half later, all the boys agree with my original verdict.

* * *

After the boys are alseep, we get started on our second dinner.

Rick chops up the frozen beef mince with a knife.

I put the macaroni pasta on to boil.

Rick slices up the wombok.

I strain the macaroni, then start work on the stock: first the Chinese chicken powder, then the beef mince, some pepper, and then the wombok.

We add the macaroni last of all, then serve up.

It is absolutely delicious and so very comforting for my throat and tummy.

We watch two episodes of Friends while we eat (The One with the Girl Who Hits Joey and The One with the Cop).

We laugh, we eat, and we laugh some more.

And much later, of course, we feed Lewis…

* * *

Today is the tenth.

Only five more days till Cameron’s anniversary…

Nine years.

How can that be?

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