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  • Geranium

    July 31, 2009

    exotic geranium

    There are not enough poems about geraniums.

    * * *

    Scroll through comments for some very clever and lovely poems newly penned by my very clever and lovely readers!

    Anatomy Of A Sneeze

    July 30, 2009

    PHOTOS TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE

    I’m only going along with this picturing taking stuff because I know you have candy in your purse.

    Ah-ah-ah… choooo!

    Sneezing is universally funny.

    I made my mom laugh!

    Now go away crazy camera lady.

    Timeless Toys

    July 29, 2009

    I did not have a lot of toys growing up.  I know. Break out the tiny violin.

    I had a hand me down Chatty Cathy.  I had some of the lesser Barbies – Midge? The redhead with the questionable reputation whom no one talked about.  Nothing was proven, mostly rumors.  I did have a Chrissy doll that I loved.  I had a Lite Brite that I loved.  My brother had the Spirograph which I coveted.  But among the three of us kids, we didn’t have a lot.

    Sean on the other hand.

    Like most families in America, our toy box runneth over.

    And here is the great irony. Sean plays with about 1% of the toys he owns. However, he would wail and fuss were I to relocate the other 99% toys.

    The toys that Sean loves most are ones that we have picked up at garage sales or were passed down to us. They are the least complicated, least expensive, require no batteries and have held his interest from ages 2-6 and I expect, into a few more years.  And they are toys that his mommy and daddy love to play with too.

    They are:

    1) Tinker Toys

    2) Leggos

    3) Wooden Blocks

    4) Plastic toy tools

    5) Plastic animals

    6) Matchbox cars

    7) Play-Doh

    Now there is another category of toys that Sean loves, that are not really toys and they are:

    1) 6-ft step ladder

    2) sheets

    3) empty boxes of any size

    * * * * *

    I’m sure everyone’s Top 10 Toys list looks a little different. If you were going to recommend the top three or four best toys to a new mom,  what would be on your list?

    Simple and Old, Just Like My Car

    July 27, 2009

    Earlier in the month, we loaded up my car and drove to the Midwest to see my parents.  I love my car. It is 10 years old and it is paid for and I can eat all the French fries I want in my car. And I know what all the buttons do. My car, it is not complicated. It is old and simple,  much like myself.

    AD has a newer fancy car that I do not care for.  Besides the fact that it is some sort of inner sanctum where no French fry shall pass, it has all kinds of buttons and dials and thingys on it that do stuff that frighten me. Screens pop up and people talk to me, people I do not know and cannot see.  And I can never figure out how to get any of the buttons to do what they are supposed to do.  It is a hateful car.

    One time I had to drive this car to a gathering at someone’s house, after dark. And as soon as I get in the car, I sense the car thinking, “Oh. It’s you. I suppose you will be wanting some fries.”

    After I got to my destination and parked, I could not get the headlights to turn off. Or the door to lock. Every time I would take three steps away from the car, it would unlock itself just to be spiteful.  So I couldn’t go into the house.  I just stood outside the house locking and unlocking the car and turning the lights off and on and off and on and waving to the normal people going in.

    Another time I had to take Sean and his little friend to school in this car and I could not unlock the back doors. I pushed every button I could find, but those doors would not open.  You know, I already have a reputation at this school as “that” mom, the one who can’t operate a calendar.  Now I’m “that”
    mom who can’t figure out how to unlock the car door.

    The people in the car pool line behind me were getting a little antsy, so finally I crawled into the backseat, unstrapped the children and then had them crawl into the front seat and out the door. Just like at the circus.

    Shortly thereafter, my brother sent me the link to Blonde Star. Very funny John.

    Anyone Can Make It Cobbler

    July 25, 2009

    A few weeks ago, we went berry picking with some friends. Between three families, we picked 31 pounds of blueberries and blackberries.  Consequently, I have been making a lot of cobbler lately.  I’ve discovered that people are lot happier to see you at their door when you’ve got a fresh baked blueberry cobbler in hand.

    Cobbler is fine with canned fruit, but nothing compares to a cobbler made of fresh picked fruit.  Here’s my recipe – and anyone can make it.

    Filling

    1 quart sized bag of frozen (or fresh) berries

    ½ cup of sugar

    3-4 tablespoons of grape juice (cranberry juice or whatever you have on hand is fine)

    2-3 tablespoons of flour

    ¼ stick of butter, sliced (margarine doesn’t work as well)

    Mix all of the above and then pop into the oven in an 8×8 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 until slightly bubbly, probably about 20 minutes.

    Crust

    In the meantime, mix:

    1 cup of buttermilk baking mix (I like Pioneer)

    ½ cup of sugar

    ½ stick of butter, diced (don’t use margarine, not as good)

    ¼ cup of Half and Half  (regular milk is fine)

    1 teaspoon of vanilla

    Mix all the above. The mixture will be sort of sticky. Put it in the freezer to set up until you take the fruit mixture out of the oven. Let the hot fruit mixture cool for a minute or two and then pull off pieces of the dough and piece together over the fruit.  If you are really industrious, you can roll it out, but I don’t.

    When the fruit is more or less covered, sprinkle with a bit of sugar and pop back into the oven until it’s brown, probably about 25 or 30 minutes.

    Serve warm with Blue Bell ice cream!

    * * *

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    Start with about a quart or more of frozen or fresh berries.

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    Toss with sugar, butter, flour and a little fruit juice, then toss in the oven till bubbly.

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    For the crust, mix up a little buttermilk baking mix, sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Put in the freezer to firm up while fruit is baking.

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    When the fruit is hot, pull the dough out of the freezer and piece together over the top. At this point it will look ugly.  If you don’t eat too much of the dough, you will be able to cover the entire cobbler. Not too worry though, it expands and puffs together.

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    Here’s the finished product. Sprinkle a little sugar on top for pretty.

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    Serve with or without ice cream.

    And now I salute food photographers everywhere who know how to photograph food in such a way that you might actually like to eat it.

    Movin’ On And Draggin’ Feet

    July 23, 2009

    As I was driving Sean to day camp yesterday, we got to talking about the upcoming school year.  I was hoping to stir up some enthusiasm for kindergarten.

    In his dream world, he does not go to kindergarten but stays home and builds forts in the den with me all day. And eats popsicles for breakfast.  In my dream world, he trots happily off to kindergarten for a few hours while I get a few things done.  And then comes home and builds forts with me in the den. And then later we watch Deadliest Catch re-runs and eat Ritz crackers on the sofa.

    I am always convinced that something fabulous is waiting for me just around the corner.  It is just my nature.  It always knocks me for a loop when my rose colored glasses fog over, yet still, I just can’t wait to see what’s next.  I look ahead and expect good things.

    My child is unlike me in this regard.

    In this regard, slap some whiskers on that boy and he is his father.

    Instead of being excited about all the new friends he will make, about enjoying all the privileges of being the oldest kids in the school, about the awesome smell of new school supplies — he was dour.  He does not care for the forward motion of the universe.

    In his defense, I will say that his pre-K class was a golden little tribe. They were all especially bright and a uniquely cohesive little group – a dozen good eggs.

    “I don’t want new friends,” he said, looking out the window.  “I want my same group.”

    “Well, I know,” I said.  “Those kids will still be your friends, but you are going to get even more friends! Isn’t that great?!”

    “No.”

    “Make new friends, but keee-eep the-uh oh-weld! One is silv…”

    “Mom stop it.”

    “Why do things have to change?” he asked. “I like things the way they were.”

    “Well Sean, that’s just how it is.  Get used to it.  The world and life and circumstances are always changing. Things never stay the same for very long.  The world moves forward and never back.”

    Silence.

    “Sometimes you say you wish I was a baby again.”

    “You know what? That’s true. Every day I wish that. Just a little bit. I look at you and can’t believe you are my four-pound baby. But at the same time, I love the boy that you are now!  And I am excited to see what God has in store for you, how you will grow and what you will become.  I’m convinced that something wonderful is waiting for you in kindergarten – more friends, more fun, more challenges. You just have no idea how awesome it will be.”

    “What if you never moved on before you went into Pre-K? You’d have never been part of the Blue Group. Wouldn’t that be sad?”

    “I’m just not ready to move on.”

    “Yup. I know.  But there is good stuff ahead. Trust me.”

    * * *

    No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”  1 Corinthians 2:9

    The Run Away Game

    July 22, 2009

    I am assuming that every family has some weird little games they play that when described to others fall into the category of evidence for the state.

    We have many of these games, but the one that Sean loves most right now is called The Run Away Game.

    The Run Away Game erupts. It is never planned and usually happens when we are all just standing around the kitchen grazing and looking through mail and that kind of thing.  The first parent to faint from exhaustion loses.

    One of the parents picks up the child and says to the other parent, “No! You may not have my baby!”  And then runs like crazy through the house, carrying said child, while the other parent gives chase.  Eventually the run away duo is captured in a group hug. And then the capturing parent steals the child saying, “No! You may not have my baby!”  Another chase ensues all while the little boy squeals and shouts, “Run! Run faster!”

    Great fun.  And a good bit of exercise running through the house with a five-year-old.

    Yesterday, after a rousing round of Run Away, I set Sean down and clutched my chest and tried to catch my breath.  And I wished that either a) I was about 10 years younger or b) that I worked out more often.

    As I sat on the floor panting, I thought about all the different little made up games we have played along the way, most of which he probably doesn’t even remember and I wouldn’t either if I didn’t write stuff down.

    I wondered if he would remember the Run Away game and play with his own little boy some day.

    I hope so.

    Does your family have any made up, unexplainable, weird games/things?

    I Went On A Photo Walk With The Entire World

    July 21, 2009

    Saturday was Scott Kelby’s 2nd Annual World Wide Photo Walk.  People from all over the world in every major city, and some minor ones, met with other photographers and walked around taking pictures. I think there were over 32,000 people from 900 cities. Kinda cool, yes?

    We had about 30 people in our group – amateurs and professionals, old and young, and in-between.  There was a father-daughter duo which I thought was really cool. I would love to do this with Sean next year.  Some people had incredible equipment and tripods and gadgets and others traveled light with just pocket point and shoot models.

    The most challenging aspect of the photo walk was trying to get a shot without another photographer’s leg or head in the picture.  But, at the same time, I didn’t have to explain to anyone why I was taking a picture of industrial hardware or standing there staring at something waiting for the wind to blow just right or lying in the middle of the sidewalk.  Artsy photography people understand.

    Here are some of my shots.

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    A dog improves almost any party.

    Goody Bags

    July 16, 2009

    I was chatting up some other moms on Twitter yesterday and it turns out that some of us — and not just crusty old me as I previously thought — do not like the whole culture of the goody bag that is prevalent among the preschool crowd these days.

    Yes, we are bitter. We did not get goody bags when we were growing up, so why should these little twerps?

    At Sean’s school, he gets a goody bag for every child’s birthday, every holiday, every minor occasion. At the end of the school year, he got an “end of the school year” goody bag and by bag I mean a giant brown grocery bag.

    Each mom was asked to contribute a “summer fun” item (x13 kids) which made for a giant bag of plastic goody goodness that thrilled and delighted the little children for all of 20 minutes.

    I don’t approve of all this goody bagging, but I go along because I don’t want to be “that” mom or Sean to be “that” kid with “that” mom. Although at one time I wanted to be That Girl.

    Anyway.

    As I trolled up and down the aisles of the dollar store looking for a suitable goody bag contribution, just to amuse myself  I composed a mental list of inappropriate goody bag items:  disposable lighter, Sterno, gift card to the liquor barn, pocket knife, small bottle of capers, car air-freshner cards, can of WD-40…

    Ended up going with brightly colored bug boxes with the tiny butterfly nets and tweezers. Got the pocket knife for myself.

    Now I know that some of you are going to say that you would just say no and not go along, but you don’t know what I’m up against.  The other moms are a lot younger than me. They are the original goody bag generation.

    The View-Master

    July 3, 2009

    I wrote this in April and set it aside.

    * * * *

    These days, life seems to click past from weekend to weekend, holiday to holiday, school year to school year.  It is as though I am seeing my life through a View-Master.  With the click of the thumb, one season disappears from view and is replaced with another.  And then another, and another.

    It is April. In another month or so, the school year will be over and we’ll look forward to lazy summer days, swimming and popsicles.  Click.  Then Father’s Day.  Click. Then Independence Day.  Click. And then Labor Day.  Click. And then back to school again.

    I was almost 39 when we married and AD was 42.  We were both on the dark side of 40 when Sean came along.  And perhaps because we are older or because we came to parenthood in the 11th hour, time is the filter which sifts the meaning out of the mundane for us.  Time is our most precious and finite resource and informs our every thought.

    The other day I watched a young woman in the grocery store pushing a cart with her baby in the seat.  I watched her stop the cart and lean in to rub noses with her baby and coo sweet round syllables to her.  I estimated her to be about 25 and I thought about how if she lives to be 80, she will get 55 years with her baby.  And I was a little envious.

    If I’m lucky enough to live to be 80, I will get 36 years with my child.  I am so grateful that I ever got to be a mom. I am grateful for every single day, even the days when I cry and complain about how hard it is because I know that no matter how many years I get, in the closing moments of life as I am ushered off  into the shadow of death, if I wish for anything at all, it will be more time.

    This right-now season that fills the frame of the View-Master, is especially vibrant and crisp and golden.  My eyes want to linger here, to stay just a little bit longer…

    Click.