Saturday, September 14, 2019

Just a Minute


I made the world's ugliest bagels today.  Georgie and I watched a little video yesterday about how bagels are made, and he got all excited about it.  Of course, we make some.

I made the dough and let it rise overnight.  This morning, I shaped the way-too-sticky globules into round-ish shapes and pretended they looked appetizing.  I preheated the oven and set a pot of water to boil.  Checked the instructions again.  I was supposed to boil them, a couple at a time, for one minute.  Flip and boil for another minute.  Easy.

When the water came to a good boil, I slid the first couple of bagels into the bubbling water, hoping they would fill out and look less like grandpa raisin when they came out.  I set the timer and waited.  I have to tell you that 60 seconds is a long time to wait when you are just watching the clock.  Flip.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Want to scream.

It feels so long, but a minute is way too short to actually do anything.  I can't leave the room.  I can't start anything else.  Forget about a quick bathroom break.  After a few exhaustingly long minutes of staring at bursting bubbles in the pot, I was ready to try a different path.  How much could I get done in a minute?

Turns out that a minute is just right for lots of kitchen chores.  I can clean out a sink in a minute.  Sweep one area of my kitchen floor.  Chop a handful of walnuts.  Unload one rack of the dishwasher.  Clean one counter.  It became a game of beat the clock and by the time all the bagels were boiled, my kitchen was looking pretty clean!  I learned not to underestimate one minute, and not to wait to start a project until I have a big block of free minutes.

And I learned that even ugly bagels can be tasty.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Angel Wings


This cutie just had a birthday, and I'm amazed.  After 5 boys, I thought I was getting the hang of the whole "child growing up" thing.  But then Heaven sends me this... girl... and everything is different.  For starters, she's taller than her older brothers were at this age (except for the one brother who is honestly closer to 7 feet tall than 6 feet).  She thinks differently.  She still hates having her hair brushed. She is more gentle.  She goes through a range of emotions at lightening speed, and lands gracefully back at her usual plucky.  The boys didn't go on crying jags.  The boys didn't get offended when someone else would talk over them.  The boys didn't begin puberty until junior high!

So here I am, a mother of boys, a sister of brothers, trying to navigate these growing up girl waters.  They are occasionally choppy.  Mostly, however, it has been a delight.  I didn't expect our "your body is changing" talks to be so heart-felt.  I didn't expect her fierce hugs.  I am loving watching her grow into fierce young lady.  And as she walks down the sidewalk, I marvel.  The metamorphosis from child to woman is beginning, and I am fascinated to watch.

Happy birthday, dear little caterpillar.  May this year be full of growth and adventure for you.  I have no doubt that it will.  I'm looking forward to seeing your wings!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Focus


There have been a bunch of things tearing at my heart lately.  A bunch of little things, and several solidly heart-rending Really Big Things.  I've felt unheard, rejected, and abandoned.  It hurts to know that your love - the only thing you really have to give - isn't wanted.  It's devastating to see that people you care about don't care to be with you.  I've cried and stayed up all night and moped about the house.  It didn't help.  If anything, I felt more unloved, more unwanted.  I've been a little lost.

I'm not sure where we were when I took this snapshot of  a white flower.  Plants and nature scenes bring me such peace, and I keep thinking I'll learn to draw them.  My kids laugh at me for taking pictures of "every leaf" as we go for walks through verdant places.  I got this shot because I wanted the head-on perspective so I could see the shape of the leaves.  As I examined the photo later, I noticed the little bug on the top petal.  Can you see him, the tan-colored bug close to the center there?  I have to admit that I'm not fond of creepy-crawlies, and I wished I had seen it before I took the shot so I could pick a different bloom.  But if I had been paying attention that closely, it might have been too close!  

It took me a while to realize that in focusing on the bug, I missed the whole flower.  It is a gorgeous blossom!  So it is with life.  There is so much good and heaps of beautiful.  And some hard and a bitter dose of hurt.  Focusing on one part does not make any other part go away.  I'm not pretending that those hurts are less than they are.  But remembering the goodness of the whole will help us to cope better.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Summer Reading


This is how our summer has been so far - piles of books, frequent trips to the library, lots and lots of reading, and shaggy haircuts.  I'll trade a nice hairdo for a good book any day!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

We're All Immigrants


I was looking at our family history and wondering "how much" of us were from different countries.  I realize this is very nearly impossible to completely figure out.  To simplify, I looked at our great-grandparents and their family's country of origin.  Since we have a blended family, our numbers are all a bit different.

I'm half German, 3/8 British, and 1/8 Scottish.

Jay is half British, 1/4 Danish, 1/8 Canadian, and 1/8 German

So then our older boys are 3/8 German, 1/4 Scottish, 1/4 British, and 1/8 Danish.

Trent's makeup is more homogenous: 5/8 British, 1/4 Swedish, and 1/8 Swiss.

The makes our small fry a little bit more scattered: 3/8 British, 1/4 German, and 1/8 of each Scottish, Swedish, and Swiss.

We're pretty northern European around here, but all of them had to come to America at some point.  None of them had very much when they came over.  My grandmother had to slip some money to her husband-to-be so he could even get off the boat in New York.  I'm grateful to those pioneers, those immigrants, who settled here and paved the way for us.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Letting Go

My dad's hands are cold, the skin blotching pink and white, and I want to take them in mine and rub them until the color comes back and the cold leaves.  His thin legs look like they need to be gently stretched and take a short walk.  I'd like to give him a cold chocolate shake to sip on and moisten his dry mouth.  His eyelids are heavy - I'm sure he just needs a nice afternoon nap.  The skin on his feet is stretched thin and dry, crying out for a little foot rub with smooth lotion.  There are thing that beg to be done - I need to get on them and go.

I'm his daughter, a caregiver, a mother.  It's my job to soothe and set right and heal and nurture.  But now, as I sit by his bedside, all I can do is listen to his raspy breathing.  He's not long for this world and there isn't anything I can do to change that.  I have to let go.

I let go of my role as caregiver.  I let go of my role as chief information-gatherer.  I let go of my role as worrier supreme.  I let go of the reins I've struggled with for so long, and hand them over to God. Hand Dad over, hand my heart over.  It's hard, but I'm learning to let go. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day

We started the day by whipping up seven servings of breakfast, three Valentine boxes, nearly 100 valentines, and an emergency trip to the orthodontist to fix a broken bracket.  After the last kids straggled out the door, I took a deep breath, then a nap.  But wait, there was no time for a nap!

I scurried up to the high school in time to find Eddie before he went into his next class.  Or rather, he found me.  He saw the car through the window and came out to see what was going on.  I opened the door and asked him if he wanted to play hooky for the day.  His face lit up and he jumped in the car.  I wanted to take him out to lunch for his birthday, but the next couple of weeks will be so crazy.  This day was the closest we could get to his actual birthday, but a surprise day off school is fun anytime, isn't it?

We went home so he could have second breakfast. Then we packed up a few Valentine's Day things for our older kids and set off to do deliveries.  A bouquet of carnations and a bottle of sparkling apple cider for our first boy and his wife; a matching bunch of carnations for the next boy and his fiancee, another carnation taped to the apartment door of the third boy.  The carnations are our little Valentine's Day tradition, started by their dad over 25 years ago.  That was the how I first started falling in love with him.

After that was done, we hit the bookstore for a good browse and difficult selection.  We want all the books!  We had time for lunch in the food court before heading back to school for a calculus test.  He had the test, not me.  That's the stuff of my nightmares!

It was a busy, full day, filled with family and love.  Oh, and sugar.  But that's not a happy part of the day, so we son't go into that!  And that's how Valentine's Day should be.