Saturday, June 27, 2009

Father's Day

From Father's Day 2009

On Father's Day, we went to Grandpa and Grandma's house. Grandpa's mental faculties wax and wane, and we try to get up there to visit as often as we can. Grandpa is a Great man, a force all unto himself. It is terribly sad to see him struggling with physical and mental weakness. It's not a situation he is accustomed to, and he does not handle it well. Billy and I want our boys to know Grandpa, to catch a glimpse of the vital person inside the aged man. I hope they remember.

The days have been brutally hot. We sat on the dock in the early evening to catch the light breeze playing off the water. One of the canoes was missing, so Billy and the boys had gone out on the lake to look for it. Babyman relaxed on the dock with Grandma, Grandpa and me.
From Father's Day 2009

Littleman was determined that day to handle the kayak all by himself. He'd had a little practice while sitting in Billy's lap, but had never tried it on his own. (It's a recreational kayak, designed for flat water paddling- very stable for a kayak.) I was anxious to hear how his first foray had gone. Finally, I saw him heading our way.
From Father's Day 2009

He was doing well!

Surprisingly well! Though the paddle was of course ridiculously oversized for him, he handled it beautifully and guided the kayak right where he wanted it to go. I was very impressed- it takes skill to paddle a kayak. Our kayak is easier than many, but it is still quite a feat for a 5 year old!

Billy, Mr. Sweetcheeks and Gimli were not far behind, towing the found canoe. Billy shouted encouragement to Littleman while Gimli made a fine figurehead.
From Father's Day 2009

It was such a fine day for a canoe ride. Sweetcheeks thoroughly enjoyed it, and especially appreciated having Daddy "all to himself" in the canoe. He even helped rescue the lost canoe from the swamp!
From Father's Day 2009

I turned my attention back to Littleman, who was now negotiating the tricky business of docking. As he came closer I was struck with one of those visions, when I see my children existing simultaneously as babies and grown-up boys. This is my firstborn baby, my tiny treasure! My little cloth-diapered nurseling. Look at his sweet chubby cheeks! Look how tiny he is! What is he doing by himself in a kayak?!?? Have I lost my mind?
From Father's Day 2009

But, wait- look again. Look at this skilled, determined little grown-up boy. Strong, lean, capable. See him forging his way in this world. See him finding his own way.
From Father's Day 2009

How can they both be here, now, in this one little person? Like Grandpa, the strong vital spirit hiding under the old man, Littleman has his own strong, vital spirit emerging from a sweet chubby little baby. Walking his own path, growing eventually into his own Great man.

However my boys choose to forge their way, they have strong inspiration to help guide them. Thank goodness for great Daddies.
From Father's Day 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

99 Things to do in a Meme, 99 Things to do. . .

Spotted this meme at Shade and Sweetwater, and thought I'd join in. I don't do memes very often, but I've been a tad uninspired here lately, so here you have it.

Items I have done before are in bold. I left the ones I haven't tried (yet) in plain text.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (not unless middle school orchestra counts!)
4. Visited Hawaii (though I sure would like to hike one of the volcanoes there.)
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyworld/Disneyland (Disney World, a few times.)
8. Climbed a mountain (snort- a few times, yes. . .)
9. Held a praying mantis (I vaguely recall doing so when I was a kid)
10. Sung a solo (not unless you count singing by myself in the car)
11. Bungee jumped (no, thank you.)
12. Visited Paris (I loved it!)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (I wasn't at sea, but the lightning was. Beautiful.)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (a few)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (never been to New York, actually. . .)
18. Grown your own vegetables (yes, and I have some tomatoes and eggplants ripening right now!)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train (Innsbruck, Austria to Paris, France)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked (no, thank you)
23. Taken a sick day when you were not ill
24. Built a snow fort (growing up in GA leaves little opportunity for snow forts.)
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (OH, YES.)
27. Run a marathon (no, thank you)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (Definitely.)
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run (HAHAHAHAHAwheezeHAHAHAHAchokeHAheeheehee Um, no.)
32. Been on a cruise (Would like to try an Alaskan cruise, though.)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (depends on how far back you mean)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (I know a smattering of ASL, and learned a bit of Italian on my own)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (the money isn't what provides the satisfaction)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (damn impressive, that.)
41. Sung karaoke (no, thank you!)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (I should do this.)
44. Visited Africa (THAT would be cool.)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (of course)
46. Been transported in an ambulance (unfortunately)
47. Had your portrait painted (by myself, but I'd say that counts.)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (wow.)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (didn't bother. Kinda wish I had.)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (snorkeling.)
52. Kissed in the rain (mmmm.)
53. Played in the mud (of course.)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (once, long ago. They were an anachronism even then.)
55. Been in a movie (at least, I don't think so. . .)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China (damn, I'd like to though.)
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class (Aikido. Would like to start again.)
59. Visited Russia (No, but my brother-in-law lived there for several years. My niece was born there.)
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason (Aww.)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (Definitely.)
65. Gone sky diving (no, but I'd love to! My Dad's done it.)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (oops.)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (and now my own kids have them. It's nice.)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (yuck.)
72. Pieced a quilt (my friend did the piecing. I'm doing the hand quilting.)
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades (no, but we have canoed the Okeefenokee.) (is it just me, or does the spelling "canoed" look all wrong?)
75. Been laid off from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (didn't stay in London long- we probably missed out, but wanted to see the countryside.)
77. Broken a bone (a horse stepped on my toe.)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (hell, YES.)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (definitely want to do this.)
80. Published a book (not yet. . . ?)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (I don't think so, but I was on the TV news.)
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life (not that I recall. . .)
90. Sat on a jury (been called just twice, but couldn't serve.)
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Friday, June 19, 2009

Skywatch Friday

From assorted

Just a nice quick shot off my back deck. Love those summertime clouds. :)

See more Skywatch photos from all over the world! Visit

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Perfect Egg and Cheese Sandwich

Quick, scrumptious breakfast or brunch:

- Warm a skillet over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, slice up some onions and mushrooms. I diced mine, but you can slice them any way you want.
- Melt a bit of butter in the skillet, and toss in your onions and mushrooms. Saute until the onions get translucent and your house smells heavenly.
- Remove the onions and mushrooms to a separate plate. If necessary, add a bit more butter to the skillet.
- Crack an egg into the skillet, and turn heat down to low. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.
- Thinly slice some sharp cheddar cheese, or whatever kind of cheese strikes your fancy.
- Just as soon as you can, gently turn the egg over without breaking the yolk. You want it only cooked enough to turn.
- Lay slices of cheese on top of the egg.
- Meanwhile, pop a couple slices of bread in the toaster- I used some homemade wheat bread from a local bakery, and it was fantastic!
- Check on your egg. It should cook very slowly and gently. If the cheese isn't melted yet, it's not done. You want the cheese to be melted and the egg yolk to be cooked but still soft and a little runny.
- Butter the toast, and pile the cooked onions and mushrooms onto one slice.
- When the egg is ready, put it on top of the mushrooms and onions on toast. Sprinkle a last spoonful of onions and mushrooms onto the cheese, and top with the other slice of buttered toast. (Though you could forgo the second slice of bread, and make this an open-face sandwich if you prefer!)

Enjoy it right away! (And have a napkin handy!)

* * *

I must give credit to Pioneer Woman over at PW Cooks for clueing me in on this method of frying an egg. I've never had much luck frying eggs, until now. She uses this method in a similar recipe which she calls Huevos Ree-os. Try that one, too- yummy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Live Your Dream

It hit me today: how easy it is to have a dream, but to allow yourself to be so distracted that you no longer hold that image, that dream in your mind's eye. It's one thing to have to attend to daily matters- that's going to happen. Sometimes we also have to set our own concerns aside for awhile if friends or family need our help. But the trick is to do these things without losing sight of our dream.

My experience has been that dreams are attainable. There are some tricks to attaining them however, and the most important trick is the dream itself. To have an attainable dream, you need a clear idea of the whole picture, uncluttered by things you only think you want. Dreams need detail. Don't be afraid to imagine in HD. It's OK if there are a few nuts and bolts that you aren't sure of, but overall you need to have a clear image to work with.

Once you have the detail, look carefully at your dream. Figure out what parts are most important to you- what are you really wishing for, deep down? What parts of your dream are the yearnings of your soul, and what parts are fluff or simply a means to an end? For instance, a lot of people dream of winning the lottery. I ask, what's the point? Often it's because they yearn for the sense of security that they imagine would come from having a great deal of money. I understand this, definitely. But what is the true dream here? The money? Or the feeling? Perhaps someone wishes to win the lottery so that they can travel. Well then, the travel experiences are the dream, not the money. To help your dream come to reality, you need a clear idea of what it is you REALLY want, and why you want it. Always examine your dreams in this way. Even something that seems silly on the surface can reveal something important about yourself, and allow you to understand what things might make you happier.

Once you have a nice, clearheaded picture of your true desire, complete with details and stripped of red herrings, you need to hold onto that image. Think about your dream. Tape a picture on the fridge, if that will help you remember. Read things relevant to your dream. If you've narrowed your image down to what's really important to you, then you're likely to want to read and think about it anyway. Let yourself imagine it. Pretend you're writing a story about a character who attains this dream. (Or go ahead and write one!) Whatever you want to do that keeps the idea percolating in your mind. Revise your dream as you understand it better, but don't lose sight of what's really important to you- your soul's desire.

These simple sounding steps are, in a way, the hardest steps to attaining your goal. Know what you REALLY want. (That one's very tough.) Allow yourself to dream in detail. (Don't think this part is frivolous.) And hold that dream in your mind. Don't lose sight of it. Don't forget about it.

Then comes the last step, really: LIVE your dream. Yes I'm over-simplifying things a bit. But it really isn't that complicated in concept. It might seem impossible, it might seem like the "wrong time", you might not have all your ducks in a row. You might not have enough money. But if you know what you REALLY, REALLY want, then just go get it. The rest will fall into place. I'm not saying it will be easy to do. But do it anyway. My experience is, that you'll start to find things just work out when you're headed in the right direction. Just don't lose the dream.

* * *

Synchronicity is merely a sign that you are tuning to the right frequency.

* * *

While I was writing this post, someone sent me a link to this song. Don't be put off by the fact that it's Miley Cyrus. (LOL!) I like it a lot. And it seemed so relevant to my musings, I got goosebumps.

Live your dream, my friends. Live your dream.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mom Mouth

WHY are you wiping your mouth on your shirt?!? You have a napkin! Stop that. Face forward. Put a bite in your mouth. Do NOT throw things in your brother's food. If your tummy hurts, then I guess you shouldn't have dessert. That's fine with me. Are you finished? Give me those toys. Put a bite of food in your mouth. (to Babyman) You want another cracker? Oh, nice "please"! Here you go. (in response to Mr. Sweetcheeks' question) The colors on the pen are just to advertise the hotel. Now EAT! Littleman that's rude. Stop it. Take a BITE of food! Face forward. Feet to yourself. Put that down. Take a bite. No you may not. Face FORWARD. Take a BITE. Yes, it's a Daddy song. Don't play with your food. Sweetcheeks, don't hit. I'm sorry, WHAT?? Well then, take a bite. Are you finished? Well then EAT. Yes. No. (to Babyman) Another cracker? OK! (To other boys) Last bite!! Woo! Great job boys, thank you. Did you eat your snowpeas too? OK. Yes! Get it out. Whew.

The other evening I was sitting with the boys as they ate dinner. They'd already been at it for awhile, goofing off and enjoying themselves and maybe taking a bite once in awhile. (We have a problem with eternity mealtimes at our house.) Dinner had been going on long enough that I was no longer interested in silliness, I just needed them to FINISH. I suddenly became aware that I'd developed a severe case of "Mom Mouth". So, I embraced the moment: I recorded it for posterity! LOL. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Green Popsicles!

I have been telling anyone who will listen about this awesome recipe I found at Goddess of the Garden, a raw food blog. (Tiffany has a number of blogs I think- I read her Nature Moms blog regularly. Check it out!) This isn't a new idea- I've been putting spinach in our smoothies for a long time. I've never been able to get very much in there without "yucks" from the kids, though- until now! This is unbelievably delicious. I admit I was really surprised- and the kids LOVE them!

* * *

Electric Green Popsicles


2 ripe bananas

1 medium pineapple

2-3 cups spinach or other leafy green


Blend until smooth and pour into molds.

* * *

This is perfect, because even kids who are suspicious of a green smoothie will often happily eat a green popsicle! What better way to get your raw leafy green veggies? You'll be amazed at how delicious this is- try it!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Negative Consequences, part 2

I am still having trouble with the boys and cleaning up around the house. I still feel as if I have no currency whatsoever, negative or positive, to get my kids to help. My voice is still apparently a different frequency than what my boys can actually hear. But, we're working on it.

One thing I decided to try was to ask more often for help with smaller tasks. Instead of waiting until the end of the day (when we're feeling grumpy) to clean their mess from all day, I choose one small part of the mess and ask them to clean just that. Then they may continue playing. Sometimes this helps, sometimes not at all. Yesterday morning I handed them a box and told them to fill it up with every book, magazine, card and piece of paper that littered the floor in their room, the hall and the nursery. Not such a big deal, right? I went downstairs and cleaned part of the kitchen.

I came back upstairs to this:

Which was way worse than it had been to begin with. And there'd been no effort to pick up the papers or books. So then the kids needed to tidy up the mess they'd just made, and still collect all the papers, magazines and books. We did finally get it all done, but believe it or not the mess got worse before it got better. (Littleman decided to rearrange the furniture, too.) It literally took all day.

From yesterday's experience and the suggestions I've seen, I think my main problem is that I am expecting the kids to follow through on a cleaning activity when I am not directly supervising. I have this ridiculous idea in my head that I might actually be able to clean other areas of the house, or take care of Babyman, while the kids complete an assigned task. Apparently this is where I am expecting too much.

For some of the excellent tips I've received, check out the comments to my earlier post Negative Consequences. Also, I saw a wonderful list of 20 Alternatives to Punishment on Alicia's blog, A Magical Childhood. I will continue experimenting to see what finally works for us- I'm figuring out that while none of these great tips works for us on its own, I might be able to find a magic combination of them (along with an adjustment of my expectations) that will help us work together to keep the house cleaner!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

From assorted

My Self and the Motorcycle

I've been musing on a few things lately, which may or may not make it into this blog. In fact, that it one of the things I've been musing on. . . someone told me that I am too cautious when I write here. That my best writing is deeply personal, and that most of what I post here is more "aloof", in a way. Hmmm. I've been thinking on that one.

I hope to write more on it- but it's late and I'm exhausted, and I think instead I will post something that was originally part of a private conversation between Billy and me. See, in the context of a broader conversation Billy suggested to me, quite logically, that we should sell the motorcycle. It has excellent resale value, and it gets precious little use, these days. I cried. Later, I wrote Billy a letter to explain my reaction. I'm tempted to qualify what I wrote, but that would be too cautious, wouldn't it? Habits die hard. :) So, I'll just share some of what I've been thinking about.

* * *

Hey, Billy.
You're right that the idea of selling the motorcycle was a particular blow- and since I was already upset, it broke the dam. Motorcycle riding with you is so special to me. . . in some ways it's the last vestige of the friendship we used to have. It's not just about something recreational. Riding the motorcycle is simultaneously thrilling, fun, romantic, meditative, physical, challenging, rewarding. . . I can't think of anything else in the world that makes me feel the same way. Sharing the experience with you helps refill the reserves that I draw on daily in our relationship. Every day that I don't ride, someplace inside me aches. Seriously- I feel it every day. I was just beginning to feel a renewed hope that soon, we would take more days to ride- not all the time of course, but at least a lot more than once a year. Finally finally, I am not pregnant nor do I have a tiny, breastfeeding infant. It's been a long six years. . . but I thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

However here too, I am secondary to our children in your affection. You want to replace the motorcycle with something we can do with the kids. I try to accept that you may never wish to be around me as you once did. I am infinitely grateful that you love our boys SO much and wish to spend as much time as possible with them. I can watch you pour physical affection on the boys every second that you are near them, and love that they have such an awesome daddy, even if we'll go days when the only non-accidental physical contact from you is a quick, distracted kiss as you head out the door. Please don't think I'm ungrateful- I see you try, and I especially love it that you tell me you love me, and that you sometimes remember to give me a real hug when I least expect it. It still hurts, but that's not really what this is about. What I REALLY need is my friend back. At least a couple times a year. And when you're around the kids, you are first and foremost their Daddy. As wonderful as that is, it leaves ME shut out. I might be their Mommy, but you don't really have time for your friend. OK. I love being a mommy. But just every once in awhile, I need to be just me. Motorcycle riding with you makes me feel like me again.

I am dying inside, Billy. I am losing my sense of self. I am nothing more than a service-bot to our children, to my responsibilities, even to you. Everything that once made me a unique and special person is pretty much gone. I cannot read, I cannot dream, I can't be alone, I cannot do art, I cannot relax, I don't even have my best friend anymore. I am now defined by elements that are external to me- mostly by the kids, which are great, but it's not ME anymore. I'm shut away in a closet inside, while I work on developing and experiencing this other person- a great person I hope, my boys' mommy.

So in a way, you can see that my reaction to motorcycle riding is a symptom. . . I have so much bound up in this one wonderful, symbolic and renewing activity. I may not be able to read and dream, but at least once in awhile, I can escape at high speeds with the man I love. I can breathe mountain air and BE ME. When the kids are around, I'm not me. I'm their mommy. That's not a bad thing, but do you understand- it's defined through these external things. I'm losing my SELF. And that, I think, is a dangerous thing. I think it's important that I keep my individual self alive, somewhere deep inside me. Maybe one day she can come out more often.

Anyway, I just wanted to explain my reaction better. Thinking about getting rid of the bike twists my gut. But logically, you are absolutely right: it doesn't make sense to keep it. No activity with the children will replace it, though. I'm sorry. It's just not the same for me.
I love you.