Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Day of Tears, Cookies, and Spiky Balls

Today started in a bad way. Everyone got out the door as intended and I then started to plan my day. At some point heading out to do my errands my mood darkened. As Judy Moody would put it, " I was in a mood, not a good mood but a BAD mood." Instead of thoughts of Christmas carols, gift giving, laughing with friends, my thoughts turned to moving. Moving involves phone calls, cleaning, mortgages, emails, coordination of events, inspections, and paper work. I could feel the happiness in my heart deflating.

I returned home and tried to shake it off. After all I had things to do. I started to wrap presents. I also started to cry. I put on one of my favorite Christmas CD's to cheer myself up. I cried harder. Eventually I called a friend who was able to talk me through it. The conversation started in upset and ended in laughter. Now that I gotten over that hump I had other things to do. The girls had a half day and we had cookies to bake!

I like to cook and I like to bake. At Christmas I have several types of cookies I try to make. One of these cookies are my Mother's Butter Cookies. Making these cookies are a tradition. When I was young I would help my mom make them. When I got older my sister and I would make them. I have many happy memories of rolling out dough and icing cookies with my sister. As time went on before I had kids, I would even make the cookies on my own. They quickly became a favorite of my husband. One year he even tricked me into doubling the recipe, I was rolling out cookies for hours! (He has not lived that down)

Now I have children and they "help" with making the cookies. In past years I have sometimes planned to bake the cookies later in the afternoon, I often found a glass of wine for mom made the process of rolling out cookies with young children go smoother. Now my children are old enough and interested enough to roll the dough themselves. They can work together to choose cookies cutter and take turns. Ahhhhhh so nice.

Of course they get tired of it about halfway through the dough, and the elder daughter was in a pre-teen mood at first and played with flour more than anything else. AND there is the small matter of giving the younger daughter advice about rolling the dough without making her cry and the older daughter choosing to ONLY or at least MOSTLY make the small snowman. She says it is because it is her favorite with his skinny neck. I say she likes him and his skinny neck because when we ice them his head will "fall" off and she gets to eat the cookie. (It is tradition and a family joke to eat the "broken" cookies as we ice them) I can guarantee my husband will walk in the door tonight, look at the cookies we made, point to one and say, "Oh to bad that one is broken." and pop it in his mouth.

So, tears and wrapping. done, cookies. done, on to the last of the holiday shopping. The girls and I head out to get something for their father. They have their heart set on getting him earrings. After I convince them that "Claire's" would NOT be the best place to find earrings for their father we end up at Kohl's. I figure if we strike out on earrings they will have SOMETHING. It also keeps me AWAY from the mall and the other more harried shopping areas.

In we go and look around at the jewelry and earrings. The girls get very excited when they see earrings they like. They are actually like ones that my younger daughter has already. "LOOK mom they have the spiky balls!" one says. Then the other, "Dad would LOVE these spiky balls!" "I think he would like these colors they agree." and then the older one says,"ohhh! dangly spiky balls - dad would like those!"

I am standing no more than a foot away. I am not sure how to respond. Their statements are full of innocence and sincerity, and I do not want to dampen their enthusiasm. BUT, I do gently steer them toward another rack. "Oh, look at these small starfish." I say, and "I like these small sparkly ones with birthstones." The younger was won over by my suggestions. They elder stuck to her guns. We made our purchase and went to the car. In the car the accolades about their choices goes on, "He will really like these dangly spiky balls." etc. It is that point that I start to laugh. I laugh so hard that tears come and I start to cry. And so that was my day, it started and ended with tears. At least it ended with the right kind of tears.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The More things Change, The More they stay the same

I have a 12 year old daughter. As many of you know, 12 year old girls can be wonderful, and sometimes, not so wonderful. The other night I was reminded about how no matter what her age, how she is still my same little girl.

My little girl has asthma. She can cough a LOT when she is having a bad spell. It is often the worst at night. She is old enough now to take her own medicine. She is also old enough now to fight with me about taking her medicine. She is just the right age to "forget" to take her medicine, and still complain about how her cough is soooo bad. It is a constant battle. I did make one decision though. If Jack is traveling and she is having a asthma cough at night she can come into bed with me. I know, I know, this is not good, but she sleeps better when you are there. It has been that way since she was a baby.

It is selfish of me but I remember when she was a baby. She would get a cold and when the cold turned into a cough, she could not sleep. I used to think if I could prop her up she would not cough so much. (not possible - pillows in the crib?, she might not cough but she could also suffocate herself) I also got her to sleep in her car carrier (that did not stop the coughing and just frustrated he when she got old enough to want to roll over). So I gave up and would hold her in the recliner. It was the ONLY way we would get sleep. She would snuggle up on my chest and we would sleep. Any attempt to place her in the crib would create coughing.

As she got older I would snuggle up in bed with her to help her stop coughing. Before we knew it was asthma I spent many a sleepless night with her. We would lay quietly and I would tell her stories I made up, I would try to distract her, I would count quietly in between the coughs and tell myself if I got to 30 between them we would getting better. My presence often soothed her and she would fall asleep. As soon as I crawled back into my bed, the coughing would start again. I would say to my husband she had some sort of physical sense, if we were not touching her her mind and body would kick into cough mode.

Once we figured out it was asthma, we had an asthma plan. If we followed the plan things would often be fine. To that end, if you do not follow the plan you end up in trouble. When Jack is away I do not have time to deal with it. She can come to bed with me. She falls asleep and stays asleep.(Thankfully she does not need to be on my chest) Just like when she was younger though she gets RIGHT next to me. If I move, she moves with me. If I shove her over (she can be a solid sleeper) she moves back. The other night I thought, what will happen when she is in college? should I get her a body pillow? I know she will figure it out for herself. One thing is for sure. Whoever she ends up with as a partner better be ready to stay close!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Comfort Food

Tonight I ate a big plate of french fries. I had gone out to lunch with a friend (company good, food so so), and I had not been hungry for dinner. My husband fed himself and the girls. Naturally around 9 PM I was hungry, so why not go for a large plate french fries! Typically I crave sweets but tonight I wanted salty and filling.

French Fries hold a special place in my heart (and stomach) for comfort. There are several foods I hold dear. Chocolate of course, pizza (which I craved like crazy while pregnant), cake, ice cream, and of course french fries.

My fondest memories of french fries come from college. I lived my years at the University of Delaware on "West Campus", and as such used Rodney Dining Hall for a food source. Alas, I cannot speak well of Rodney Dining Hall food overall. It was, after all a dining hall. I cannot say I ever loved it. The tale of my brief work experience in the bowels of this establishment will also have to wait for another day.

BUT, at night, the lower level of Rodney Dining Hall (The Snack Bar) was open for service. It was not the swipe your card and get the typical swill. The food was made to order, fresh! There was a limited menu but everything was CHEAP. I was a freshman and stretching the dollar was important to me. My constant dilemma was spend 75 cents on french fries? or the $1.50 for the milkshake? or really splurge and get both? (it was college, I wasn't the most healthy eater) The plate of fries was always piled high, steaming, crispy on the outside and soft potato goodness on the inside. The milkshake was made right there and I often ordered mint chocolate chip. You got ice cream and at the end you could use a spoon to scoop out the flat, square, dark chocolate bits from the bottom of the cup.

I enjoyed eating the food there. I enjoyed the walk in the cold to get there. I loved the warmth once you stepped inside, and the anticipation of my choice of order. I also looked forward to the conversation to be had with a friend while there.

You see, that was the second part of the comfort in this comfort food. You did not go the snack bar alone, the fries gave me a reason to seek our friends to join me. I got food with a side of laughter. I seek this combination out even now in Knoxville. This week I went to lunch with a new friend. I also picked up the phone and called another woman I met here and we are going to lunch next week. This woman got to Knoxville (via Seattle) about the same time I did with the same circumstances as me. (new job) She has some added challenges of older children and her mother who had to move with her. (would you want to move when you were 80?) I like this woman. I don't know where we are going for lunch, but I do know that even though I will be leaving soon, I am hoping to give her a big plate of french fries with a side of laughter.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ode to a Turkey

I hosted my first Thanksgiving this year. I had avoided hosting Thanksgiving for many years. My husband commented, he thought it was odd, since I loved to cook so much that I would not want to be in charge of Thanksgiving. I find the coordination of Thanksgiving, intimidating I told him. There is something I find more intimidating (and annoying) than coordinating Thanksgiving dinner, and that is TRAVELING over Thanksgiving weekend.

So for more selfish reasons than I like to admit, I hosted Thanksgiving here in Tennessee. I knew my kitchen would be big enough, I knew the house would be big enough to fit everyone, and I would not have to go anywhere. They only thing that still scared me was, the turkey. I know, why am I scared of a bird? I had cooked them before but I never felt they came out just right. I can handle side dishes, pies, appetizers, and drinks. That turkey continued to spook me, Would it take to long to cook?, Would it be brown and crispy outside?, Would it be moist and delicious inside? Who would carve it? (This duty was previously done by my old neighbor, who was a PRO) I gave up. I figured I had enough to worry about and I ordered a cooked turkey from a local grocery store.

Now this is where the story gets a little crazy. I go to pick up the turkey with my mother in law. This does not bother me, for I love my mother in law, I am blessed to have someone kind, funny, and caring as a mother in law. She and I trundle off to the grocery store. I am not sure what I am expecting, I think my problem began with my image of the turkey. I expected this gorgeous bird in a pan, something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. I did not get that.

We wait, my mother in law and I, while the nice young man goes to retrieve my turkey. We chat with the woman also waiting for her turkey. (she looked at me and smiled, you KNOW I was going to talk to her) The young man returns and hands me a cold, wrapped up turkey that looks like it is raw. "Your sure it's cooked?", I ask. "Yes," he assures me. "It even says so on the wrapper." I look at the turkey and think to myself, "WHAT HAVE I DONE!" I am a little scared, I have risked the Thanksgiving turkey and may have lost. I think of the small turkey breast I have cooking in my crock pot. (Yes, I made extra turkey, I am my mother's daughter) Although tasty to be sure, it will never feed everyone. I am not sure what my mother in law is thinking, but as I mentioned she is kind and caring so she smiles with support at me and suggests we go get the roasting pan we will need.

We return home and all is well. The cousins are playing people are relaxing. I get my stuffing ready. When the time comes I place the "turkey" in the oven to reheat. In the end, I am rewarded, and VERY thankful. The turkey comes out moist and delicious, my mother in law is able to doctor the gravy so it is quite good, my stuffing is tasty, and we all eat ourselves fairly silly.

I am Thankful for many things, my family, my married into family, my health, and one other thing. I am Thankful to have learned my lesson about turkey. It is better to cook your own with the love of family than have one handed to you. Working for it is part of the fun.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Face to Face

Do you know the saying, "You never know how much you loved something until it is gone?" That was my saying a few weekends ago. I was in Chicago visiting with my husband. We were supposed to get "familiar" with the area. We got to see neighborhoods and houses. We went out to eat. We saw many great things: parks, downtowns, libraries, and a river walk. After our driving tours, bus tours, and realtor tours, we discussed our opinions. Honestly my feelings were not all that positive. I was struggling with the sprawl, the cold, the dreariness, and the TINY houses. We talked. Jack went for run to clear his head and relieve some stress.

I sat in the hotel room and cried a little. (I also has some wine, and texted people)
Since that time I tried to figure out why I was so upset. What was it? The change? The unknown? I mean seriously, we saw a lot of nice things. It will be a fine place to live. What I realized was, I really do like it here in Tennessee. I know I don't like everything but I do like it a lot. I like my hot tub, I like being so close to shopping, gymnastics, and karate. I like knowing how to get around, how easy it is to get around to places - Then it hit me. Tennessee for all it's differences is more ALIKE to Delaware then it is different. Moving here was a BIG thing but my adaptation overall turned out to be very small. I feel so comfortable here because it is so much like my "home" in Delaware.

So there it was face to face, Chicago is NOT like Delaware, or Tennessee. It is it's own style, arrangement, and size. Moving there will mean more change and more adaptation. It scares me. It makes me not like it as much. That is why I sat in the hotel and teared up. I will have to say good bye to what I am comfortable with, for REAL this time. I will do it. I may even have some fun doing it. I know myself, and if I am honest I will admit, I will do with a smile, and just a few tears.