Thursday, September 06, 2012

Dramatic foreshadowing

The last evening of our recent vacation in Southampton we observed an astounding act of nature unfold before our eyes. As we set off down the beach boardwalk to watch a bagpiper pipe in the sunset we marveled at the strange clouds overhead. My husband remarked that they looked like the type of clouds tornadoes form out of, but I scoffed at his uneducated guess. I would owe him an apology only 20 minutes later. As the lovely young gentleman piped away, his audience began to point over his shoulder and take pictures of the obvious funnel forming out of the clouds over the water that quickly touched down and began to move across the lake, turning up a large amount of water as it traveled. 

My husband scurried for cover with our daughter and niece while I watched in awe. It’s very rare that my husband is more worried about something than I am, so I eventually joined him in his search for somewhere to take shelter should the storm come any closer. But the funnel broke apart within minutes, and that was the end of it. To most, it was a cool experience they could go home and tell their friends about – maybe send the photos in to the local weather man and see their pictures on the 11:00 news. As a writer, I couldn’t help reading more into it, wondering if this could be dramatic foreshadowing for events to come in my life.

Writer’s Note: For those of you who were not paying attention in high school English, dramatic foreshadowing is when something seemingly meaningless in a story’s plot (e.g., the weather) gives you a clue as to what’s to come in a character’s life. So, if there’s a storm rolling in, the main character may be about to experience some kind of turmoil.

I was the last one to tuck myself into my damp, lumpy cottage bed that night and I lay there wondering if that tornado was foreshadowing some major events on the horizon. I thought about the little bean, only a 7-week-old embryo at this point, hopefully nestling in for a safe nine month stay in my body. I thought about having to drop my son off at junior kindergarten in only a couple of weeks and let him begin to spread his own little wings. I thought about our plans to sell our house and move our family of four to a new home and potentially take on a tenant to ideally provide enough income for me to stay home with my children. I thought about close relatives dealing with life-threatening illnesses. The whole cottage was quiet. It was a peaceful moment, but I couldn’t help wondering how peaceful the next year would be…

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lettuce discuss salads

I’ve been pondering salads lately, as that’s usually the part of dinner my chef husband allows me to be in charge of, and it has brought back fond childhood memories. How can a salad bring back childhood memories? Perhaps because the salads my grandparents prepared were consistently the same at every family gathering, so the thought of their salad makes me think of the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other get togethers.

Before you think me strange, let me explain further. Nana’s salads typically consisted of romaine lettuce, green onions, cucumbers, broccoli, and often halved red grapes. To this day, putting green onions in a salad makes me think of Nana’s house. Granny’s salads always included tomatoes, green pepper, carrots, cubes of cheddar cheese, and the pièce de résistance: cucumbers with serrated edges. This was Poppa’s contribution. He would peel the cucumbers then run a fork down the sides before slicing them into discs. I guess this made them fancy, company’s coming cucumbers. I love that he did that.

Then there was the presentation of the salad. Granny placed a small, wooden salad bowl beside each dinner plate. Nana served the salad dressing in a glass vile. My mom still twitches if salad dressing is placed on the table in the store bottle, while I have a hard time justifying dirtying another dish when it pours perfectly well straight out of the bottle it came in.
And let’s not forget the jelly salads. Granny’s was orange jello with shredded carrots and mandarin orange slices. Nana’s was green jello with pineapple and cherries. As gross as it sounds, I actually really enjoyed both of them and it wasn’t a proper family meal without them.

Now, I enjoy some of the most fantastic salads you could imagine at my in-law’s house. They are works of art! We’ve never had the same one twice. Various styles of lettuce, combined with vegetables and herbs they grew in their own garden, nuts, fruit, avocado, goat or feta cheese…and there’s no salad dressing on the table. You don’t choose your salad dressing. The creator of the salad invents a vinaigrette from scratch that compliments the salad’s ingredients, and applies just the perfect amount of this dressing to the salad before it goes to the table. I take a small amount of meat and potatoes, and a large amount of salad, then hope that the salad will make it around the table a second time so I can have more. Perhaps this is why I’ve been thinking so much about salads lately. I actually get nervous when I’m asked to bring the salad to my husband’s family gatherings. It’s a big responsibility. I’ll tell you this much, if my salad came with cubes of cheddar cheese and Catalina salad dressing I might be disowned from the family!

So think about that the next time you’re tossing some iceberg lettuce and cucumbers for your kids. That side dish might be something your grandchildren blog about. No pressure!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Why Moms Cry

Well, there's a loaded title! This could be a long post. But in this case, I'm referring to why mothers cry when their children celebrate milestones in their lives. It's not because we're not happy to see them achieve goals or move ahead in life. It's because every step they take toward making their own way in the world takes them a step farther away from the sweet, uncomplicated innocence they were born with. I know that sounds bitter, but here's where it's coming from:

My two-year-old daughter has recently started doing this quirky, lovely thing when I bend down to help her get dressed or put her shoes on. It stops me in my tracks every time. As I stoop to her level and start fiddling with snaps or shoelaces I feel her soft, pudgy hands on my face, one on each cheek lifting my face up to look at her. She looks straight into my eyes. I'm mesmerized by her. Then she leans in and wraps her arms around my neck for a lingering hug. I forget we're late for wherever it was we were going. There's joy and adoration in her big blue eyes. They're so clear and bright and unscathed. I just want to capture this purity and preserve it for her. Probably less than 30 seconds after it starts, it's over. Her clothes or shoes are on and she's off and running.

And I realize that's why I'll cry when she goes off to school or turns Sweet 16. There will certainly be tears of joy mixed in with the sad ones. There's pride in seeing someone you love and nurture succeed and find independence. But, at least for me, no matter how old those eyes get I'll always want to protect them from the things that are out there in our big, bad world.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Multi-tasking Mom

Sometimes I picture God with a pantry full of qualities, sorting through and picking out which ones will go in which people's buckets. Everyone has their unique gifts, of course, but one common quality found in most women is the ability to multi-task. I imagine him pulling out the "multi-task" bag, smiling and dropping one in each women's bucket saying "They're going to need this one!"

I'm not saying men are any less challenged in life. They have their own battles. I can only describe my experiences as a multi-tasking mom, and I do it in hopes of encouraging fellow moms out there who sometimes feel like their head will pop off from all the spinning around it does all day long.

Case in point: A typical day in our household
I sit here drinking luke warm coffee that I've already warmed up twice in the microwave. In between disgusting sips from my own mug (that I only take for the benefit of the caffeine kick it's giving me) I sip from the tiny, blue plastic mug of "coffee" my daughter keeps refilling for me from her toy teapot. As I drink my coffees I open my work email and try to begin my work for the day - but then there's a thump, a scream, and crying.

My daughter is now on the floor beside my son's bed, tears streaming from under her sunglasses and dress-up hat because she was trying to be like her big brother and jump off the bed too. After kisses and cuddles, everything's okay again. Back to work. More screaming. Now they're fighting. Break up the fight. Step in something sticky. Clean it up. Now someone needs the potty, the phone rings, back to work? No. They've filled the tea pot with real water and spilled it on the floor, they're hungry and want a snack, I wipe my daughter's hands and find...
So forget the dishes, the laundry, the groceries and oh yeah THE WORK...we're off to the doctor's office. Every other task put on hold to go investigate the rash.

This is not to say I always handle the multi-tasking well, because I certainly have my meltdowns. But this gift God has given me, and my co-mommas, allows us to get up the next morning, take a deep breathe, and do it all over again. And even enjoy the wild ride!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Tale of Toes

It’s 2 a.m. I would be asleep except for the foot in my back that’s slowly moving me off the edge of my bed. I’m clinging to the edge of my mattress, but losing ground. Sure he had a nightmare and I’m happy to comfort him, but enough is enough! Somewhat annoyed, I reach back to move the intruding appendage, and my hand closes around a rumply sock covering a perfectly toasty set of three-year-old toes. 

Suddenly, I’m taken back to another time when these toes in my bed kept me awake. I can’t help but smile as I remember Christmas Eve when these little piggies were only five months old. Grandma’s house definitely wasn’t as warm of a climate as he was used to sleeping in. I couldn’t blame him for fussing. I was frozen even snuggled up to my husband. So without question I brought baby into bed with us, and then laid there not wanting to fall asleep. Enjoying the peaceful bliss of knowing my whole little family was safe and snug in the same bed as me. Knowing there would come a day when I would lay awake worrying about where he was, if he was safe, if he was warm, I soaked up the image of his little sleeping face only inches from mine.

Back to the present I gently place the little boy foot away from my spine, but then roll over to tuck him in and admire that sleeping face once again – grateful to know he’s close, safe, and content.