Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day: For real dads only

It's Father's Day and here's the thing - a lot of men want to get in on this holiday. 

Have you ever noticed that? 

Oh they don't want to rub the cankles of a pregnant woman or help her feed her frozen yogurt craving at midnight (true story).  They don't want to get up at 2am and feed a baby. 

But they love to step in and quote deeply "Anyone can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a Daddy".  Good for you.  But in my book, if takes someone super special to care for that baby while it's in a growing womb. 

God bless the men and "uncles" who step in and take a child to a ball game or enjoy a fun household chore with little Billy.  You're kind men who do deserve some praise.  But you're still no Father.  Or daddy. 

My husband married an only child.  He being of a family of five.  To find a happy medium in family size may have been a struggle.  But somewhere along the line it was pretty evident - he was going to be a good Father.  And a good Dad.  From the first time he held my hair when puking, it was a certainty. 

When those frozen yogurt cravings kicked in and he had worked a 12 hour day you better believe I ended up with that yogurt.  When it was time to listen to a heartbeat and endure an internal ultrasound, he stayed in the room and cried over the heartbeat.  Bedrest?  He was there.  Various maladies and aches and pains and emotional dips and spins and whirls?  There.  There.  There.  (and there). 

So on a holiday where a lot of men want to take over - men who do good things with children - Transparent LanguageI say step back and let the baby daddy have his day.  If he stuck it out through pregnancy and then walked the floor and went to well child checks and changed a diaper and worked long days only to come home and toss a ball or assemble a bike....he deserves the day. 

My ode to any daddy....who cared for his baby from day one - from the point of conception.  Good job Dad. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

That Girl....and what I know about her

Transparent LanguageMy daughter is a sweet, quiet, book smart type.  She is also a fierce competitor regardless of the sport.  What makes her unique is that none of this is ever personal.  If she wants to win, if she wants an A, if she desires a friend - she does this without guile - it's truly never about besting someone else.  Some call this nice.  Others call it naive.  For now I like it.  (Though, I confess, I don't always resemble it.)

There is this girl.  I know she is out to get my daughter.  She pulls friends away from a group and leaves my daughter standing there.  If they meet on a playing field of some sort and they are opponents it is my daughter I can tell she is aiming at.  When they join forces on a team it's never really a joining, as I can see that this girl is driven by the desire to say she did better. 

My daughter sees none of it. 

My daughter would call her a 'friend'.

My daughter is kind that way.  It's a good kind of naive.

And I'm a mom.  And I want my daughter to succeed.  To have friends, do well, even trounce a few people on occasion when playing a sport.  I openly admit it. 

And because I'm a mom, when I strive to be more like my daughter, what I see in this other girl is a messy family of parents who behave like deviants, of life that rarely includes a meal together, of this notion that if she isn't tops then it's not worth doing.  I see the tears when she fails at something that isn't cry-worthy.  I see a life devoid of church life, or social life beyond athletics or adult (deplorable) behavior.

I really want to be like my daughter.  I have much to learn from her.  And I must recall, whenever possible, to see this girl through my daughter's eyes.  And through the eyes of a mother who truly does know more than what appears on the surface.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Of Princess Phones and Conversation

Transparent LanguageWhen I turned thirteen I wanted a phone.  A Princess phone.  For those far too young, 'Princess phone' has nothing to do with pink sparkles, crowns, and what is now referred to as "bling".   This was the Princess phone of my dreams:

"It's little!  It's lovely!  It lights!" 

The stuff of heaven.  I dreamt big and wanted not only the phone, but my own phone line.  It was a big dream.  It didn't exactly happen.  I got a pseudo-Princess phone and my dad put a phone jack in my room.  It meant I had to share the phone number, but at least I could whisper of boys and clothes and pop music from the luxury of my very own room.

I imagine it's a little like wanting an IPhone today, though from my observations having a phone now doesn't result in more talking.  As the ultimate in reverse psychology, we now hand people phones and we stop talking.  We type.  A lot.  In fact I wonder if in future millenias they will unearth our remains and find unusually formed thumb joints thanks to a lifetime of texting.

The truly sad part, however, is that adults seem to have taken cues from the younger generation.  Oh, it's sad when it has to do with fashion, but it's just awful (and immature) when it's about communication.  Adults now text things that used to require some backbone.  I know of someone who lost a job via text message.  Family squabbles are now conducted with abbreviated language in emails.  Insults are shared (usually in veiled fashion) over facebook.  Even concern is no longer expressed face-to-fact.  We have become a spineless, wimpy population.  Gone are the requirements that one must approach and look someone in the eye to hurl a curse - threats are put in writing - authority figures don't bother meeting with constituency or employees.

Maybe if we all got back to a Princess phone...perhaps if we had to share phone lines...perhaps if we all just nurtured the spines we were given.  I think, maybe, strengthening our spines is the real answer.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Transparent LanguageCleaning out flower pots and buckets and other containers takes me to my mom.

Each year we had the same ritual.  She had a set number of containers - we didn't add - why change what works. 

She always had that talent.  The ability to know what was "enough"...what worked and what she could handle.  I wish I had that talent.  I'm a bit more of a dreamer, perhaps, and I'm continually blessed with or plagued with visions.  I have big dreams. 

Not of the vacation home in Hawaii variety, but dreams borne out of seeing life in combinatinos and colors and seeing new use for old things.  It means I've never lived in a home, since being married, that felt "finished".  I think a finished home is a place of contentment.  Where the residents walk in and sort of sigh and sink in. 

I don't have that.  Never have.  I hope I do when I'm finally too old to act on my dreams.

My mom always planted geraniums.

Always salmon pink.

Never red.  Never magenta.  Never white.

Salmon pink.

In grey wooden "buckets".  Always at the front porch.

Never the patio.

Never the sidewalk.

The geraniums were expected.  And I'd walk the garden center with her ogling the yellow flowers.  The purple pansies (I had a thing for pansies).  I dreamt of a rainbow.

We bought geraniums.  Salmon pink geraniums.

She will be gone 9 years next week.  It will be time to plant things.  I will plant salmon pink geraniums in wooden "buckets" on my front porch.  I will walk past them all summer and feel a little contentment.  And I won't dream of rainbows of color - I'll be smiling over my salmon pink geraniums.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Oh Friday! (A/K/A This Week Has Kicked My Butt)

Transparent LanguageIt's been a week.  Wow.  Not bad.  Not awesome.  Just.  Wow.

  • Memorizing is really important.  Especially when you still have the facilities to do it.  So that means, when you're young take advantage of it.  And, parents, that means it's your job to push those little ones along.  This week my children had to recite what they've memorized in front of various adults of various (authoritative) positions.  They were a little disappointed when the process was done and they realized that the other kids got away with not memorizing.  Life lesson learned there.  Sadly.

  • Spring is really hard weather to dress in.  I don't mean I'd rather be naked in the Spring, but rather that in Michigan it's such a mixed bag it's just a mess for the fashionable.  Even for the unfashionable.  Waders, down jacket, cropped pants and T Shirt anyone?

  • Adults can be really sweet to children.  I think some don't even realize that one kind word - one shared joke - one (even small) compliment can lift a child's spirit beyond the moon.

  • Adults can be really mean to children.  And it's worse when an adult really wants to be mean to a child's PARENTS but isn't bold enough to do that so they take it out on the child.  Nasty.  Immature.  Hard to explain.

  • My children constant surprise me.  I've been doing this parenting thing for 18 years.  I still don't go a week without a surprise in some form.  Thankfully it's not longer of the "ooh - what's in that diaper?" variety....but still...surprises.  Good AND bad.  I suppose it would be horribly boring without the surprises.  I suppose.

  • Lots of women lose weight because they are either afraid they will lose their husband or because they plan on losing their husband when the weight is gone.  Vanity is a bugger.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Whole Brownies

Our favorite brownies.  No little doughboy involved (we try not to call one another names around here).  Betty Crocker isn't in the house.  And Duncan Hines?  He's a stranger.

We call them "whole" because the ingredients are just that.  No additives or preservatives.

I'm not saying they're fat free.  Or carb free.  Or gluten free.  They're just "extras" free.  And by "extras" I mean things with long complicated names our bodies don't really need to function.

And so I give you our favorite....

Whole Brownies

2 sticks butter (butter, folks...not margarine)
1 1/4 c sugar
4 eggs

(soften the butter and whip this together)

1t baking powder
1t salt
1 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa

(add to the other ingredients and whip)

2 squares of unsweetened chocolate which have been softened

(whip it.  whip it good.)

1 1/4 c unbleached flour

(final whip)

Spread into 9x13 which has been lightly greased.  Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes.

I'm no food photographer so trust me - the photo does not do the food justice!  Our version is a bit cake-like.  to get a gooey version eliminate an egg (or two).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Six on Sunday

Transparent LanguageDuring the early years of Facebook - back when people had a Xanga and knew how to use it - and sometimes even via email....people used to send around surveys.  Under the guise of getting to know people, maybe partly because we like talking about ourselves?  Whatever the reason I remember them well.  Not like I remember lyrics to important 80s songs, but I do still remember them.

So for Sunday - six random survey selections:

  1. What's the last thing you ate?  White chicken chili.
  2. The last person you talked to on the phone?  My dad.
  3. Favorite holiday?  It's probably Thanksgiving followed closely by Christmas.
  4. Can you do a headstand not touching the wall?  Ugh.  Yes.  But don't make me.  The older I get the more migraine-inducing that would be. 
  5. Who would you like to see right now?  My mom.
  6. Are you still friends with people from kindergarten?  Well considering my age....I think it's pretty impressive that I'd count kindergarten friends on the list of people I could easily chat with if I ran into them.  I don't know if that counts as 'friends', but they certainly would not be strangers to me even now.