Friday, August 28, 2009

An Older Woman's Wisdom - Connie

This morning I was just going through my files, sorting through medical records, articles from magazines, love notes from my kids, birthday cards, catalogues and endless piles of scribbled notes.

Before I carried a journal EVERYWHERE I go, and I mean, EVERYWHERE, I filled manilla file folders with thoughts scribbled on napkins, scraps of paper, and paper ripped out of wire-bound notebooks. Now, I scribble the things I want to remember, adorable things my kids say and writing ideas in a heart-embossed journal that is always in my black vinyl ten-pounds-too-heavy purse.

I still don't know how organized the journals will be, or how I will be able to find anything I scribbled between the red covers, but at least it's a change in how I unorganize my life.
Today, I found a piece of paper I forgot I had. It instantly took me back years.
When we were still newlyweds and pregnant with our first child, we longed to have somewhere to spend Christmas vacation. A family we loved and admired, Connie and Al and their six kids, allowed us to join them in their family festivities. It was in their home I felt the first flutterings in my womb of our first child. After putting their kids to bed each night, we spent hours talking and asking questions about parenting.
Through the years we continued to spend time together, joining them for holidays and camping trips with our child, and then another, and another, until our family matched theirs in size. The years they invested in us, sharing and instructing about parenting has been a huge blessing.

I am so regretful that this in one of the only bits of Connie's wisdom that I journaled.

The context is, of course, our children, and the challenge of parenting when you are frustrated, struggling, angry, overwhelmed or just plain tired.
The translation is as follows:

"Look into their eyes

and see a soul

that needs to be ministered to

in the love of God -

they are yours

to raise for the Lord."
It shares the HOW and WHY and WHAT of parenting. What a blessing to find this scrap of paper in that messy manilla file.
I might have to write this in my journal.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Life Has Become a Gameshow

Whether it is caused by the fact that I have six kids, have a daily amount of stress and chaos, am on artificial thyroid hormone after losing my thyroid to cancer, or am a natural blonde, I have a serious problem remembering things. Important things, like my kids' names, my married name and anything I use on a daily basis can slip through my mind like water …………...

I read on an Internet forward that this disease, common primarily to women, has been duly dubbed the Noun Deficiency Disease.

One morning I was trying to tell my husband he needed to use a salve on a sore spot. Not recalling the name, I simply described it as “the stuff like Vaseline, but with medicine.”

With instant recognition, his eyes lit up. “Oh, do you mean Neosporin?” he laughed, waving his hands above his head like an excited game show winner. The game works with another adult. With children it is another matter.

While trying to find a missing item, I might not be able to remember the name of it, and what ensues is a combination of 20 Questions and Charades with my children.

“Has anybody seen that long, skinny yellow thing of mine? It was right there on there on the counter.”

If I don't get any response, I add more detail.

“You know, it is poky on one end to write and squishy on the other end to erase."

Even though it never seems to help, I repeat things with more animation, velocity and volume hoping to improve my chances of assistance. Ya' know, same song, second verse, a little bit louder, a little bit worse?

“I know you have all seen it, it was right there. That yellow long yellow thing, who touched it?”

After the next 16 questions, interspersed with wild pointing and apt descriptions, someone will finally come up with the name of it. They offer the name in a voice tinged with pride and disdain, surprised that this woman, who ages daily before their very eyes, cannot remember the name of something as simple as a pencil. But, even though they know the NAME, nobody can ever remember which one of them touched it and where it might be.

However, despite the fact that they are all secretly convinced that they are far superior to their mother, they are the ones who absolutely cannot function in life unless the proper name is given to the item. I, at least, can function with a definition. No matter their supposed IQ level, they simply cannot grasp the concept of finding “my cutty things, you know those things for cutting fabric’ or “that plastic box we keep in the garage that keeps warm things warm and cold things cold" without having the absolute word given in Webster's dictionary, even though I supplied a generous definition.

What further complicates matters is the fact that the contestants refuse to play the game just because they aren't called by the correct name. If they were supposed to be called by a certain name, it would have been tatooed on their foreheads at birth. I figure if they are anywhere near me, they are obligated to be contestants in this Proper Noun Restoration Project. They have the audacity to be offended just because I try out three or four names, including those of their siblings, my siblings and past pets, until I hit on the right one.

I know that I could ask for my “thing that I ride with two wheels, and a seat, and you pedal it” and they all would be stumped. Only the 6 year old, if she is listening, might be able to shout out, “I know – it’s a bike!”

Then, and only then, can the next phase of the game show begin. The first phase is only to remember the name for Mom. The winners are then unwillingly shuffled into the next phases of discovering the actual intent of the charades in the first place….

" Who Touched It?" ….then,

" Why?"

My PENCIL! Where is my PENCIL?!?!?!?!?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cell-Phone Life Coach for Poddy Training

Scott and I had been having a discussion about our older children and their respective life challenges. Our oldest was going through big life changes with their move to CA and her husband beginning school. The three middle kids are deciding on college, relationships, and finances. The youngest one is scraping her knees and losing teeth, and our second to youngest just became a teenager.
As we moaned over our parental role in these situations, Scott laughed in exasperation,

"Why did we think poddy training was so hard?"

A few days later I was enjoying a phone-a-thon with a close friend that has children the same ages as mine. She related some of the same challenges in parenting older children. I laughed at her unsolicited quip,

"I used to think poddy training was so hard."
Ironically, I received the following phone call less than 48 hours later from my oldest daughter.

"Mom, poddy-training is NOT going well. I just don't know what to do. Brookie peed everywhere yesterday but in the poddy. I have to do a load of laundry just to have some clean undies for her to wear tomorrow."

While we talked, Brookie actually peed in the poddy and the phone was handed to her while she sat on her toddler throne.

I found myself squealing into the cell phone, "Oh, Brookie, Gramma loves you! Are you going pee-pee in the poddy? What a big girl! Are you wearing big girl panties?"

After I made all the appropriate cheers and affirmations to Brookie, I continued the conversation with her Mommy, giving her the appropriate cheers and affirmations.

I related stories of poddy-training, being open with my wins and regrets, but encouraged my daughter that it would only get better.

I finished by telling her the laughable irony of her phone call. I related the two poddy-training conversations with Jana, not to demean her struggle with getting the pee-pee and poo-poo in the poddy, but to acknowledge that for right now, poddy training IS the biggest thing in her life. It is huge. It is a daunting task. Motherhood is not for wimps, the posters and greeting cards like to remind us.

But poddy training is called training because it is just that - TRAINING. It isn't just about training the kid to put bodily ickies where they can be flushed away and go bye-bye. It is about training the parents to be diligent, consistent, kind and encouraging as they train their child to perform a new task.
Poddy-training is as much about training the parents
as it is about training the child.
It paves the way for training in bigger, better and harder issues.

So, Jana and I each face our days with stamina and courage. She is wondering if Brookie will ever get her all her pee-pee and poo-poo in the poddy, and I am wondering how I can use my past experience to encourage myself in parenting older children.

After all, all six are poddy trained.

All six wipe themselves.

All six flush their own poddies, most of the time.

Now, if I can just get them to hang up a new roll of toilet paper.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Viet Nam Vets Traveling Wall

The traveling Viet Nam War Memorial came to the PNW last weekend.
 Even though we had just arrived home from Montana that afternoon,
we knew we needed to summon up the energy
to give our kids a lesson in life, war, loss and pain.

We casually touched weapons that had been hauled
through dark, bug-infested, enemy-hiding jungles.

Weapons that had to kill before the handler was killed.

We grieved for all that suffered during the Viet Nam War.

As these men were talking,
my heart rejoiced that they were alive and well.
I get angry beyond reason
when I read about the treatment of the vets,
when they finally returned home.

The war never really ended for them.

I wanted to throw my arms around the vets
and apologize for my country,
but instead, I shyly smiled and prayed for them as I passed by,
unable to express what was truly bursting in my heart and mind.

At times I felt I shouldn't intrude in others' grief.
These were their sons and daughters, their friends, their spouses.

I still cried,
even though the names didn't belong to anybody we knew,
because I felt the pain all around me.

I really wanted to just throw myself down and sob out my heart,
but I didn't.
I blinked back the tears, took pictures
 and tried to share with my children the passion I felt over this monument.

These men will never bring bouquets to wives, mothers, or sweethearts.

 Instead of life and love, these bouquets smell of sorrow and death.

They are brought because pain makes people want to DO something.

Instead of caressing loved ones' faces,
fingers trace only their names
etched into black, cold, lifeless marble.
Yet, everyone is thankful,
wonderfully thankful,
grief-strickenly thankful,
that at least there is something of the loved ones to touch.

Even if it is just a name

...etched into




The shadows reflecting on the marble remind me 
 of the men and women that should have been standing there.

They estimate 58,000 lives were lost during this War.
For each life lost, dozens back home suffered
wounded hearts, empty lives and endless pain.

As with every war,
the lost of these young lives
left holes in generations.

Kids grew up without daddies,
fiances were never married,
mothers and fathers never became grandparents.

I was a kid during this war.
My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hayes, was making us watch a documentary on the war.
I was acting up and complaining so loudly,
she stopped the big-reeled machine and chewed me out.
She thought I should be paying attention because
these were AMERICAN young men, people's neighbors, people's sons.
I remember my initial embarrassment for being singled out,
then the shame of my indifference.
So, I share my passion and my compassion with my children,
hoping that they will be influenced, as I was,
to have an open heart and mind for those suffering around me.

This week, when I saw the picture of  Mary McHugh
weeping on the grave of her fiance in Arlington National Cemetary,
I wept over my computer.

We will have holes in this generation, too.

But, maybe, we as a nation, will welcome home the vets
 the way we should have in the 70's.

The traveling, grim, marble memorial
should and can be the reminder we need
to keep history from repeating itself.

Welcome Home, Vets.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Marysville, MT - A GHOST TOWN

Everyone, except the 83 Marysville residents, calls it a ghost town.
The residents are known for spouting, "It ain't a ghost town until the last dog leaves."

Tommy Cruse found gold here in 1876 and named his mine Drumlummon after his parish back in Ireland. About $30 million worth of gold and silver was mined out in about 30 years.

Another $20 million was mined in 12 other mines in a 12 mile square. I can do the math. That's $50 million dollars.

But now, the buildings precariously hold each other up. The insides are filled with dangerous crumbling foundations, rotting floor boards, broken beer bottles and dangling wiring.

This car was parked off of Main Street. How do you just leave your car on main street so long that weeds began to overtake the dashboard? Did someone just forget where they parked it?

Tommy Cruse named the town of Marysville after the first female resident, Mary Ralston. In the boom time of 1880's and 90's, the population grew to around 4,000 people.

Four miles below crest of continental divide, Lewis and Clark passed through this area on their famous cross-country trip. Too bad they didn't stop and pick up a few gold nuggets. That would have kept the Congress from fussing at them for the expense of their trip.
Mom and Dad, husband Scott, brother Al and his wife Jeanne
The attraction at the end of the 20 mile twisty and turny road from Helena isn't just the buildings, it is the restaurant - Marysville House. It has a D- rating from the Better Business Bureaus website, but is really a local legend. There really isn't a menu. You have four or five choices for your main course, two of them are steak. Your side dishes include a piece of corn on the cob that has been boiling all evening, a pile of baked beans that are smoky and spicy, and incredible sauteed mushrooms. The white buns mighta been from the day-old bakery.

When my husband ordered a salad the waitress snorted with redneck disdain and said, "We don't DO salad."

The service wasn't really that great. Our waitress smiled once when she saw my Dad's credit card coming out to pay.

We were sitting at unpainted picnic tables. Red and white checkered vinyl tablecloths, complete with holes and dirt etched into all the white squares, were the only color in the building. My brother was astounded at their decorating. I guess they hung a few pictures on the walls since he was there last. That isn't wallpaper in the picture, it is names carved in every square inch of walls and ceiling.
When he further marveled that they now had a kitchen, I understood the BBB rating. They used to grill everything outside. How can the health deparment inspect a restaurant's kitchen when they don't really have one?

Notice the dishes? Yea, foam plates that fill up our landfills. We had real silverware, and after my brother carefully bent the tines into place, his fork worked pretty well. He figured a guest didn't have a pocketknife and used it to etch names into the walls.

Notice the plate isn't cut in half? That's because this 24 ounce ribeye was one of the tenderest, juiciest, most delicious, tastiest steaks, "the ultimate in deliciousness," according to my husband. He has eaten a lot of steak from coast to coast. IT WAS A GREAT STEAK. When you bite into that big ol' hunk of still bleeding cow, you forget the bent-tined, spotted fork that is guiding the meat into your mouth, you forget your elbows are rudely staked out on a rustic picnic table and you forget you were craving salad.

That's why people continue to endure eating in primitive conditions; because they want to eat a really good steak and then go roast a marshmallow over the firepit for desert. Just like in the good ol' days.

But, we didn't pay in gold dust.

After the meal, a stroll through town helps digest the pound of meat you ate.

There is still the sound of children laughing and dogs barking, but the sounds echo down the empty streets and instead of being a presence, it is a blatant reminder of absence.

Money usually leaves a lasting impression. Monuments are built. Impressive and enduring buildings are created with such ornate touches that generations continue to marvel at the grandeur. In Marysville, there is nothing left of the $50 million but the memories, the stories, the crumbling facades and the gold fever that still lingers in a few hearts.

I marveled at the complete loss of prosperity and life.
As our feet scuffled through the dusty streets and we began to shiver in the evening shadows dancing on the ghostly buildings, my heart wondered about those people of long ago.

Did they use their money to buy the ranch they had been dreaming about? Did they send it to bring their families from back East? Or, did they drink and gamble it away in the saloons? Did the wealth make them or break them?
Riches can bring snares to the soul. Rich people aren't always happy people. Rich people don't always have good relationships. Rich people can trust in themselves and their wealth and not in the God, the creator who put the veins of gold and silver in the earth.

Is it a sin to be rich? Is it a sin to discover the mother lode of gold? No. The LOVE of money is the root of all evil, not money.

The Biblical patriarch , Job, understood the error of putting trust in earthly riches and not in the Lord.
Job 31:24 If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, you are my confidence;
verse 28 This also were an iniquity to be punished by the Judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.

Solomon, the richest man in the Bible, also understood the place gold and silver should have in lives of men.

Proverbs 16:16, "How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!"

Did those people that thronged the town of Marysville over 100 years ago have wisdom and understanding of the Savior? Or did they just have gold and silver?

Then, I turned introspective. Will my life be best represented by a deserted, dilapidated building or by an ornamental, enduring edifice?

"Only one life,
will soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ
will last."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Them's Fighting Words!

At a busy intersection in Helena, Montana, I found myself stopped behind this Honda at a red light.

I gasped outloud.

I had never been so offended by a license plate frame in my whole life.

I couldn't believe they would even SELL such a license frame to ANYONE...

....except me.

While I was fuming, my teenagers were challenging me. Actually, more like double-dog-daring me.

"Mom, I dare you to go knock on her window and demand to see pics of HER grandkids."

"Yea, Mom, I think you should just walk up to her and tell her how wrong she is."

"Too bad you don't have pictures to prove how wrong she is."

Yea, speaking of pictures, what kinda' gramma am I? They were taunting me because I don't carry any pictures of the grandkids. I don't even carry pictures of my kids. I don't even carry a picture of my husband. However, I do carry my computer almost everywhere I go and I have have filled my 140 GB hard-drive with pics. Thousands of pictures, to be exact.

If the light hadn't turned green so quickly, I could have shown her these thousands pics of Brookelyn and Brayden, my little bundles of blog material, being naughty, nice and just plain cute.

Cuter, in fact, than her grandkids.

I'm not kidding.

I double-d0g-dare-ya' to prove me wrong.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Deer Family

Beautifully Montana Mommy Deer

Doe, a deer, a female deer.

I love the sagebrush, too.

Handsome Daddy Deer

That's a four-point BUCK!

Can you count to four?

I could see the velvet on the antlers.


Confident that I was non-threatening, he began grooming himself.

I HEARD him do this.

What a totally male thing to do.

I know deer know when it is hunting season,

but how did he know I didn't have a license to carry a concealed weapon?

Mommy and Daddy had twins.
While I was photographying Daddy, the first buck I have seen around the parents' cabin in years, the twins were scamping behind me making their meepy noises.

I will never tire of marveling at their beauty.

Cuter than Bambi.

During the week I tried to get pics of them coming down to the lake for water, but I never could catch that action. But, it made me think about this passage in Psalm 42.

1. As the deer pants for streams of water,

so my soul pants for you, O God.

2. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
What have you recently experienced in creation that caused YOU to worship the Creator?
May you be blessed by seeing His eternal nature and divine power in creation.

Picnic at Hellgate

This is what you do when you want to go on a picnic.

We knew we needed some sun for the teenage girls, some shade for the older generations, some water for splashing and wading for the younger kids, good food, rocks to pick and scenery to admire.

We chose to drive up Hellcreek Gulch for some adventure.

The steep rock walls remind me of the Wild West when bad guys lived in smoky, cave hideouts, waited around such eery corners and robbed anyone that passed by.

I knew we probably didn't have to look out for bandits, but I knew with all the rocks, rattlesnakes might be a possibility. Years ago, we spotted one during a picnic adventure and my husband, Scott, screamed like a little girl. It has been harrassment fodder for years.

This is what you do when you find a spot that meets all your criteria.
We found a flat surface with only a few cow-pies, a few weeds, a lot of rocks, some shade, some sun and a tiny mountain crik.

My Dad, nicknamed Jungle Jim by my Mom for his affinity with the great out-of-doors, was so excited with this find.

As I was shooting, he was exclaiming, "Mushrooms growing on a cow pie? Did you know those are probably the kind you can eat?"

I was hoping he meant the mushrooms, not the the cow pie. But, nowing my Dad's earlier interest in Eulle Gibbons , I wasn't really sure. I wasn't interested in eating either.

This is what you do when you forget lawn chairs.

We love our Town and Country mini-van. The seats are so comfortable, even when they are sinking in sand.

This is what you do when you get a bee sting.
Bethany soaked her stinging hand in the crik, which is basically melted snow. It was clear and cold, but we knew better than to drink it. There were cows all around.

This is what you do when you freeze feet while wading in the Crik-of-Melted-Snow.
Jon, the tenderfoot, was trying to explore the crik while yelling, "This is so cold! This is so cold! Hurry and take your picture, Mom! This is SO cold!" I made him be quiet and stand on the log.

This is what you do when you are feeling daring.
Grace, who was living up her last day as a 15-year-old, decided to create an adventure attempting to climb to the top of the mountain. In flip-flops. Without any water. I warned her about all the things a Mom should, rattlesnakes, falling, prickly pear cactus, and dehydration, then followed her to take pics. In flip-flops. Without any water.

At one point I heard a lot of rocks sliding down the mountain in the direction of my camera and Grace casually called out, "Mom what is the word called when all the rocks are sliding down the mountain?"

"Do you mean landslide?"

"Uh, huh, I think I just caused one."

She got mid-way and freaked out when she heard rattlesnakes. I assured her it was those huge grasshoppers just rubbing their hind legs together, but she thought rattlesnakes made for a better story. This is what you do when you want to wade in deeper water.
Boys will be boys. Jon and Gramps didn't think the beaver did a very good job on his house down the crik, so they tried making their own dam.

This is what you do when you need to rest.
Granny and Gramps relaxing in the shade trying to ignore all the commotion.
I wonder if they're thinking how quickly their six kids turned into 20 grandkids and 4 great-grandkids with no slow-down in view. Only the two oldest grandkids are married and are just starting their families.

Their six kids averaged 3.3 kids each. If each of the 20 grandkids marries and has 3.3 kids, that is 20 spouses plus 66 great-grandchildren for 106 ancestors in that generation.

If those 66 great-grandchildren marry and have 3.3 kids each, that could be 66 spouses plus 218 great-great grandchildren for 350 in the next generation.

That's a lotta commotion. No wonder they have to sit in the shade and relax.

This is what you do when you see some water on the road.

On the way out of the gulch, Scott got a little adventurous in our mini-van. He almost got my camera wet.

Then, since we were in the backwoods of Montana, he decided to go off-road. Look at that wheel nervously and precariously perched on the weeds. Like a scene out of "CARS" I can almost hear the van whining, "But, I've never been off-road before!"

Cuz, these are the things you do when you are on vacation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Emptying Nest Syndrome

A few times this summer, it has been quiet around my house. Really quiet. Too quiet? I don't know. I guess over the past 22 years of parenting, I had forgotten what quiet sounds like.

The first time we experienced that quiet was when our older two moved out the fall of 2007. Jana, to married life with her husband, who had just returned from his Navy station in Italy, and Daniel, to his first stab at living on his own. For a parent, it feels like cutting off an apendage. To a child, it is the most liberating, exciting time of their life, and they won't ever fathom the pain until they are on the other side of that last mournful wave good-bye.

The changes in the household from 6 to 4 kids were amazing. The kids had to readjust their pecking order, I adjusted on the grocery buying, and bedrooms were rearranged.

Saying good-bye to our Amazing Grace.

Then, this summer, we went from 4 to 2, with the teenage girls spending their summer working at Bible camp.

Actually, I should have said, it is quieter. There are two kids remaining at home, Jon and Rebekah. It gets quiet when they are outside and I have locked the doors. I mean, shut the doors. Or, if I let them watch a movie, just so I can watch the air traffic clear of sound waves.

But, with two kids, instead of six, it can get quieter faster and easier.

But, other's gain is our loss.

There is no more giggling and taunting of teenage sisters.

There is no more rousting piano playing ending with the signature bang in frustration on the keys. (Grace)

There is no more whining DA-A-A-A-UH-A-D (Beth) and temper tantrums. (Beth and Grace) They learned at a very late age how to do this from Opie on an episode of Andy Griffith. It is actually pretty cute when they are teenagers, on their tummies, banging hands and feet while asking for money they know they won't get, giggling so hysterically you wonder if they are still breathing.

Nobody asks for the car keys.

My credit card is always where I put it in my purse.

Nobody is leaving the flatiron plugged-in and dangerously hot in the downstairs bathroom.

There are no girl voices disputing over who messed up their bathroom.

There is no makeup in the sink, on the white rugs or spilled on the floor and in the drawers of their bathroom. By the way, why did I let them choose WHITE rugs?

There are no personal items hanging in the laundry room.

My foyer no longer looks like a shoe store.

My sniffer hasn't traced any moldy food or cups of unknown substance to girls bedrooms for weeks.

Then, again, there's the downside.

One morning I went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, and there was a head of lettuce in the colander, right where I left it while making dinner. Nobody followed me around and finished those things I intended to do but forgot. With three women in the kitchen we work together wonderfully and easily. We each make one thing for dinner and we have a great meal. We each pick up a little and the house looks great.

Another day, the phone rang and rang and rang and rang. I actually had to answer it. There was nobody inside.

I had to drive Jon to all baseball practices and games at the end of a busy season. I've done all the shopping and all the errand running.

I'm doing dishes again, something my husband delegated out of my hands after baby #6 was born.

Instead of life being easier with two gone, it is harder. It is different. Yes, I love the help. My girls are incredible. But, I miss their presence in my life. I miss their smiles, their giggles and even their pretend fights where they try to criticize each other in very poorly spoken Spanish.

I love having my car keys and credit card back, but I miss my girls.

To console myself, I sometimes let the younger two watch another movie and sit and listen to the quiet.

I'm torn. I love the quiet, but to have the presence of quiet you have to have the absence of children. Have to. Those two entities cannot co-exist.

As I try to get used to the eery presence of quiet I try to fathom how I would be able to live with this every day of my life. If the emptying nest is hard, the empty nest will be painful.

So, I purpose to enjoy it while it lasts. We will all be home together soon and all I will have is memories of silence.

Precious memories. Precious memories of a painful future.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Where Deer and Antelope Play

Montana is truly the place where deer and antelope play.

I spotted this little beauty on the small mountain behind my parents' lake cabin. There were two mommies with fawns and several other adult deer in a small herd. They love to come down to the cabins and eat all the flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetable gardens.

Even though I have seen deer my entire life, they still thrill me.

My mother, too.

She is noted for her excited exclamation nearly every time we have driven to town in the past five decades, "Oh, look! There's some deer!"

I think she is saying, "But, MAAAAAAMMM I really have to go." So cute how her front legs are crossed. Just like a toddler.

You can walk up very closely to these deer because they know it is not hunting season. I was using a 70-300 zoom lens, but still was very close. Close enough to see grass hanging out of her mouth.

I spooked the fawns a little so they walked up a trail. I followed them. We had a stare-out for quite awhile. I would like to put one of these little things up against a cat. Not sure who would win. They were making these adorable meeps like a squeaky toy would, communicating to their mommies.

They were so nimble, quickly prancing out of my way. They almost bounce. I always thought cartoons were exaggerating animal behavior. They aren't. They really, really, really, look like they are bouncing.

Their nimble hooves scrambling over lichen-etched rocks, prickly pear cactus, shrubby weeds and fallen trees picture how we can react to trials with strength from the Lord.

Psalm 18: 33, "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights."

During our struggles and trials do we feel like these fawns dancing on the mountainside?
We could.
We should.
The Lord can give us this strength and ability.

The fawns were reunited after slipping away from me on a lower trail, then we all walked back down into lower ground.

I stood crouched behind a bush waiting for perfect shots. My son rode by on his bike. With a whispery yell he kept calling, "Mom! ....Mom!....There they are!"

When my silence didn't send him on his way, his 'whispers' sent the deer to the next yard.

I calmly asked him, "Why do you think I am crouched near this bush with my camera aimed at the deer?"


Bad Mommy! Sticking out your tongue like that. They really do speak human. I think she is telling me she is hungry.

Dogs sniff and lick you to decide if they want your presence. A deer will stare you down. If they don't feel threatened, they will then ignore you.

For a few minutes we were engaged in a sort of a duel. I was about 15 feet away and had my lens aimed at her face. She tilted her head sideways to the right. My lens followed. She brought it back up. She titled to the right. Back up. Tilted to the right. Back up. She brought her head down forward, eyes still locked on me. Brought it back up. Brought it down. Brought it back up. I followed each movement with the precision of synchronized swimmer who's trying to get back into the routine.

I won her trust. She turned her back on me and the fawn was perusing some jet skis on a trailer while I moved closer and closer.

Confidence gained, she began to steal apples from the neighbor's tree. I couldn't decide if it is breaking the law to steal if you are a deer. It brought back a huge flashback of guilt from all the times my siblings and I used to steal crab apples from our next-door-neighbor's tree.

She started chomping, and I could hear and see those little sour green things in her mouth. It almost made me drool. They were pure green! We wouldn't have ever have stolen apples that green.....

.....without Mom's saltshaker in hand.

I even heard her swallow. She just pigged out. I wonder if she'll get a tummy ache. Maybe she'll get worms. Or maybe she'll have a guilty conscience the rest of her life like I have. So sorry Mr. Beaver!

After her meal, she finished off with a good scratch.

I shot deer out of season until my camera battery died. Then, I ran back to the house, got my Flip and began filming. When that died, I had my Nikon in my pocket and shot more footage. When my arms were tired and the deer were tired of me, I walked back to the cabin.

I was thrilled for the opportunity. I love God's creation, His created beings and how being around all these things remind me of the Creator. I marveled that I had been so close to a fawn I had only previously seen up close in Bambi.

Sunday afternoon, coming home from the church we visit in Helena, I saw a deer nibbling grass right next to the road about a mile from the turnoff to the cabin. We slowed, as I always have my camera in hand. I wondered why the deer would be so close to the road and wouldn't move when our vehicle approached.

Then, I saw brilliant white spots on the ground in the midst of the brown weeds. They were not moving. I didn't hear any of the adorable baby-fawn squeaks. And, her Mommy was not wanting to leave her fawn.

This morning my mom was enjoying her coffee, toast and view from a lawn chair on a rise above the cabin. She spotted two deer and only one fawn.

She brought me the sad news and we knew I had recorded that fawn's last day of playing.

I seldom have heard such a discouraging word.