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.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I'll tell you what I want what I really really want...

Transparent LanguageSometimes I'm pretty sure it's the only child in me.  I think a shrink would also say it's because of me being a motherless daughter.  But what I really would love to experience is the kind of friendship or loyalty wherein someone is righteously angered or offended because of a wrong that has happened to our family.

And I want it to be to the extent that they actually stand up for us.

That it maybe even effects their relationship with the offender.

I want to experience someone on our side that is more than just lip service.

I have dreams.  Dare I say "fantasies" of friends (plural even - I go crazy in my dream life) of people confronting someone after an offense and the shaming of the offender.  It's not right or pure or noble, but it's the stuff of my fantasy life.  I want to see slinking away.  Often it involves my children or husband - I want to see them at the top of the heap at the end of the dream.  A hypothetical slap in the face.  The righting of wrongs.  The salvation of reputations.  The pecking order as I think it should be.

That's what I really really want.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Seven Stanzas at Easter by John Updike

Transparent LanguageOne of my all time favorites.  Blessed Resurrection Day!

Seven Stanzas At Easter

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

- John Updike

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wicked Wednesday

Transparent LanguageIn some corners of the US the term "wicked" is a good thing.  As in "That's a wicked awesome sunrise."  Now I'm fairly certain - though I'm not officially from Maine or anything - that it can be interchanged so that the listener is left to wonder if they were just praised or ridiculed.  Should someone say "That's a wicked pair of shoes."  I have no real confirmation of this, but I just feel it in my gut to be so.

Wicked today - you decide - do I mean it in a good way or a not so good way:

  • Acts.  As in "I want to acts you a question."  Sometimes pronounced "axe" or some mingling of both.  Wicked bad.  And by bad I mean bad and the wicked is just "very".  Like fingernails on a chalkboard.
  • Men who whisper.  I know.  May not make sense.  But I find it wicked annoying.  Especially when it's obviously gossip but they veil it as business or something secretive.  Women may veil gossip as prayer requests, men veil it as "business".  And the whispering just makes it effeminate on top of everything else that's wrong with it.  And when they whisper to women (unless it's their wife)?  Gag.
  • Waist rolls.  It's not a muffin.  I like muffins.  It's a roll - it's been there for years - any time a women is in fierce denial over the size they need.  "Those size 10s look wicked on you."  Said to a friend with a roll the size of a massive bagel.  Now I'm forgiving in this department just a bit.  I will be frank - spanx can roll down.  They can suddenly need to be hiked up and a woman is stuck - does she hike in public and risk being seen or does she bravely walk around with a roll until she can hike in private?  And for those of us of a certain age, I swear our middles blossom over the course of the day so what fit at 7am may suddenly be bulging at 2pm.  That said, if you do this regularly, if you have no regard for the glories of spanx, if you are young (and therefore most certainly in size denial), or if you are squeezing a size 4 body into a size mercy.  Wicked awful.
  • Amish fiction.  Honestly?  Wicked funny.  I'm throwing Karen Kingsbury in as well along with most other female Christian fiction writers.  Wicked good?  The fact that the mere existence of such "literature" may have created a genre for those of us with good future writing plans.  (Right, Annette?)
  • Men who get manicures or spend far too much time grooming.  The opposite class also gets a mention.  Finding middle ground is central here or suffer a wicked of "be a man!" proportions.  Looking clean and acceptable is good.  Speaking as a former child whose father had "dress slacks" and "work slacks".....embrace jeans.  Truly.  Your children will thank you.
  • Parents who don't teach their children to be kind.  They talk the talk (or not) but don't walk the walk.  They allow their children to invite others to sleepovers in front of the uninvited.  They do not monitor social media where pictures are posted making the lack of an invite even more obvious.  They have parties and sleepovers and outings and smile at uninvited children as they march out.  And then they later bemoan the fact that their child is sassy, rude, dare I say?  Wicked.
  • Using profanity so freely it's boring.  I'm not a prude.  And I'm not unrealistic.  But once someone's dialogue becomes so interspersed with profanity I've stopped cringing, they've become wicked dull.   I also start wondering why their vocabulary is so limited and why their parents ignored them so much as children that they have to resort to shock value now.
  • Viagara commercials.  Blech.  Wicked no-one-wants-to-know-old-men-have-sex.  No one.  Really.  Sure, maybe some occasional tart at the rest home who over applies orange lipstick and wears ice blue eye shadow.  But apart from moaning Myrtle, no one wants to know.  In fact, we like to think that at a certain age a male's motivation has matured to include other parts of his anatomy.  Honestly.  No one is turned on by horny senior citizens.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday: Five Things

Transparent LanguageIt's Friday.  Five things I loved about this week?

  • My work schedule kept me from wandering (tripping) into the house after 7pm.   It's be a bit of a struggle, this thing called a "real job".  I hadn't worked outside of the house on a regular basis since 1998.  Then I went back this year.  Three children in school with tuition payments will do that to a gal.  It's been a challenge more for our family life than anything else.  This was a good week - even with its early morning meeting.

  • Baking.  I'm learning to really enjoy baking.  Not LOVE, but enjoy.  I LOVE to cook.  Baking has always been a love-hate thing for me.  I'm not going to turn down a really good homemade chocolate chip cookie, but I'm far too artsy to really enjoy precision.  (Go figure that my degrees are in finance and for another post.)  Baking so that a group of little girls can earn some money to go to a big ol' basketball championship?  Fun.

  • New small group.  We have been in small groups and Bible studies in the past.  In the recent past we have changed churches and left behind (sadly) most ties to that life.  A first meeting this week proved to be just a good fit.  Lots of "YOU TOO?!?" moments filled with that peace that one is in the right place - the peace that really only comes from outside this world.

  • Hearing my son sing.  I'm glad he's in choir this year.  I have not been so glad that all performances thus far occur during the day.  Tonight I hear the choir sing. 

  • Pi.  It was Pi Day this week.  I hated geometry.  My sons, however, are geeks.  Very proud of that fact.  And really amused, bemused, tickled that they were so excited that it was Pi Day.  Love those boys.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Daylight Savings: The conspiracy to keep me from my social security deposits

The invention of daylight savings goes back to 1918. 

Since that time the U.S. government has thought itself wise enough to institute various versions of the plan - it's a bipartisan thing utilized by FDR and Nixon.  Time changing knows no political leaning.
I estimate that this means the government has sucked about 40 hours of time from my life.
Vast conspiracy to ensure I do not collect all I've paid into Social Security?  Yup.  I think so.
Transparent Language

Monday, March 4, 2013

Things they should give medals for (but don't)

Transparent LanguageLiving beneath one's means.  Totally medal-worthy.  Even the federal government - supposedly run by the elite, the smart, the well-educated - they can't do this.  Many business can't do this.  The people driving new vehicles, wearing great clothes, owning lots of things that start with "i"?  They're often not doing it either. 

Attending worship.  Okay, remember this list is hypothetical.  So this is a little irony.  But in a world filled with "spiritual" people and those who have time for anything but actually attending church...well, I'm medalling this event even though that would be contrary to all kinds of proper theology.  Remember.  Hypothetical.

Wearing mom jeans.  Ladies if you sport the mom jeans I'd give you a medal.  I'm tired of looking over and knowing instantly what color someone's undies are - what brand they are - or the fact that they wear a thong.  I'm especially tired of knowing this about women who are my age or older.  I'd much rather see you in 80s pleated BONGO jeans that land right at your waist.  Truly.  Gold medal even.

Caring more about your teammates than your personal stats.  This starts already in elementary school.  There are show boats on 2nd grade basketball teams.  There are kids crying over losses and mistakes at ages that should be about the love of a game.  But sometimes there are girls who whisper to their coach that they will sit out so that an underplayed teammate can play.  And these girls don't know their mom is watching only her during the entire game even when she sits on the bench.  So mom watched it happen.  And mom cried a little.  There's no medal but I do get to post her picture here.  Titanium medal for this one.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Things I Can't Afford NOT To do

Transparent LanguageThere are certain things in life I cannot afford to skip. 
  • Buying insulin
  • Paying utility bills
  • Brushing my teeth

The list could go on, and it would be filled with those decidedly unglamorous pursuits of life.  I would not list things like:
  • Have my  nails done
  • Cover the grey
  • Eat lunch
I'm either really frumpy, really hungry, or I just have really boring priorities.  I'm fairly certain "priorities" are almost always a bit dull.  If they were exciting there would be more people revelling in paying their water bill, driving a (very) used vehicle with over 100,000 miles on it, living without debt while shopping at Goodwill. 

Priorities should be the stuff of boring conversation.  They don't keep cocktail party folks engaged - they don't result in weekends filled with social invites - and they make fast food a living-on-the-edge experience.

I'm okay with that.  I'm generally too tired to fill my weekends and my liver is far too healthy for cocktail parties.  I do splurge on occasion but it tends to be for things like organic food delivered to my house. 

My priorities aren't the stuff of excitement.  Not even of thrilling blog posts.  But having a few really boring priorities makes for a life that has a pretty good foundation. 

And I'm okay with that, too.