I have mostly abandoned my blog recently. Why, you ask? The short version is because it is mainly an academic blog and school has been feeling a bit like…well, honestly the only word that comes to mind is drudgery. This … Continue reading
I have been to two unexpected memorials this week – two people who died earlier than anyone was prepared for. It has been a week full of lessons in saying goodbye.
The first one was due to a young boy’s suicide, which I won’t go into much detail about for the sake of his family’s privacy, but his memorial celebrated his short life beautifully. He was (and is) so loved.
The second was a celebration of my good friend Donna’s life. I have never been good at finding the right words in the moment, so I didn’t stand up and tell a story about her at her memorial. If I had been brave enough, this is what I would have said:
I first met Donna while working at Hallmark part time in the evenings. The first thing I noticed about her was the way she threw back her head and held her stomach when she laughed. It was such an incredibly rare and unpretentious action, unlike anything I had ever seen before. I was drawn to her sense of humor and her positivity, and always looked forward to our shifts together. We bonded over our shared love of Elvis and enthusiasm for Christmas ornaments, and Donna became a trusted confidant. I could tell her anything without fear of judgement, which is rare in any friendship.
Donna was one of those people that brought out the best in others, without intending to do so. She was a fastidious worker, and even though she suffered from Fibromyalgia, she lapped all of us around the store, tidying and cleaning. Donna frequently talked about her work with a local non-profit, and how much she loved her volunteer days. She didn’t brag about the people she helped or how much good she did working there, but instead lit up as she talked about their ministries. She truly believed in God and in helping others, and she lived what she believed. In a world that seems increasingly fake, Donna was genuine and true.
It didn’t matter to Donna or I that she was in her sixties and I am in my twenties, she was my friend and I loved her so much.
The memorial was more painful than I had imagined, but I somehow managed to smile more than I cried. They played the music of our people (Elvis) and I could almost see her smiling and dancing along. After the memorial, as I walked to my car I couldn’t help but think, “Donna Has Left the Building” as I smiled like a fool.
As a small child, family is a warm blanket that keeps out the chill and cuddles you in its folds. There is a certain implied invincibility. As an adult, the bond doesn’t always have the same level of comfort. At … Continue reading
Restless little kids are impossible. There is a lot of whining and hitting and other unfavorable behaviors that require skillful maneuvering to avoid full-on meltdowns. Normally I would just take the boys outside on days like today, but one boy is still recovering from a bout of RSV and should probably stay out of the wind. After trying to get them to color with little success, creativity (or possibly madness) struck and I decided that we were all going to bake cookies together.
Don’t get me wrong, I am normally one of those horrible hovering parents that everyone warns you about, but I am aware of it and am trying to do better. I could try to justify my behavior or talk around it, but i really don’t see the point. Every parent has their issues right? Anyway, I thought that letting them do the majority of the work on this particular project could help all of us. The boys helped me gather all of the ingredients and the measuring cups and spoons and set them on the table. Then they measured out the right ingredients and stirred everything together. It took restraint, but all I did was crack the eggs and hand out the right cup for each ingredient (and I might have stirred a bit at the end). Their level of concentration and cooperation was more than I thought was possible from two busy two-year olds. They were excited to help and to have a job to do. Here is a picture of them hard at work:
I am going to give you the recipe we used because I am always disappointed when I read a blog post about food and there isn’t a recipe:
Chocolate Chip Cookes
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (ours was crusty so we used more sugar)
1/2 cup butter, softened (if you forget to set it out early, just micro-wave for 20 seconds)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (we used coconut oil)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (we substituted Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips (dark chocolate chips are my favorite)
1. In large mixing bowl, combine sugars, butter, shortening, eggs and vanilla. Scrape bowl.
2. Slowly add flour, baking soda and salt until well combined, scraping bowl often.
3. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. (If making gluten-free, whatever you do DON’T taste the cookie dough. You will think you ruined them).
4. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven 9-11 minutes (if you choose to make these gluten-free you will want to cook them more like 12-15 depending on size).
Of course, with two toddlers running the show, none of these instructions were followed to a tee. I was a little concerned since this was my first attempt at making my husband gluten-free cookies, but it somehow worked out fine. They were slightly crispy and chocolatey and perfect. And most importantly, I relinquished control long enough to let my children feel useful. (Hopefully that will help fill-up their self-esteem bank for moments when I am a much less perfect parent). Seriously though, I am really proud of all of us. I took a step back and the boys took a step forward.
I have been given an unconventional project this week that is causing me more than a little heartburn. For anyone who is in my Digital Composition class, you might be thinking that I am concerned about our plagiarism assignment. Actually, it is something a bit more intimidating…my husband has asked me to write him a children’s book.
“So what’s the big deal?” you may ask.
Well in no particular order, here is a list of issues:
1) This book is supposed to be finished by my husband’s birthday…which gives me exactly13 days to write and edit it. Talk about pressure!
2) My husband intends to publish it. He is an artist and has been trying to get me to write a children’s book for him to illustrate for years. I think he fancies us as some sort of Stan and Jan Berenstain, which might be a bit of a stretch.
3) It has been my dream to write a children’s book since I was a child (well either that or to write for Reader’s Digest). Now I am aware that when most people think of children’s literature, things like Go Dog Go come to mind. This is of course a great beginner book, but not exactly the most imaginative writing. If I were just setting out to write another Go Dog Go, my task would be simple. But of course, I want to write a truly timeless piece of children’s literature. Something a little more like Chicken Soup With Rice or Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
And last, but not least:
4) I am the worst kind of perfectionist. It could take me a whole month to write a poem, let alone a simple children’s book. In some ways this blog has been incredibly therapeutic and helped me work through my perfectionistic tendencies – but writing for any public audience is revealing and a bit like jumping into the deep end of the pool when you are a horrible swimmer (which I am).
Despite all of these reasons, I am grateful that I have such a wonderful and supportive husband. He challenges me to step outside of who I think I am capable of being every time I turn around and I want to write this book for him. Actually, I want to write this book for me more than I even want to write it for him.
So now, how do I go about accomplishing this incredible task? Well, I am thinking of approaching it in poem form because it somehow seems less daunting for a first book (though of course it’s late and I could quite possibly be sleep deprived). I’m honestly not sure where I am going with it yet, but I would love any and all suggestions anyone may have. If I manage to get it done sometime in the next millennium I will try to post an excerpt or two, and maybe a picture to go along with it.
This week in my literature class we have been reading poetry, and I have been focusing particularly on William Wordsworth. His poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” has had a profound effect on me this week. For anyone who has never read this poem, you can read it here.
The heart of the poem is that nature is good for the soul. I discovered this meaning as I was sitting on the couch staring at a glowing IPad screen trying to write a blog post about it. Talk about irony.
It occurred to me that I haven’t spent much time outside in the last few weeks. Instead I have been holed up waiting for winter to end and staring at a glowing screen while working on school work. I am realizing what a toll this has taken on my soul. I have been cranky and tired and frankly, bored. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving school, but sometimes I feel like I am tied to my IPad in a way that is a little unhealthy – especially last week during midterms.
I finally decided that I didn’t care if it was cold, I was still going to bundle up the kids and go run around in the backyard. Of course, the fresh air and exercise was just as good for them as it was for me. I felt energized the entire day and decided that even if it’s pouring rain, I am still going to at least go sit on my back porch once every day. I know it’s silly that it took a poem by a long dead poet to shake me out of my funk, but it did. So do yourself a favor, stop reading this blog post and go outside! It will do you a world of good.