Tag Archives: Family

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Thank You for Laughs

My grandsons made a “homemade meme,” the star’s name above his head.

O my God, thank You for people who help us laugh. For Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield, who grew up on a farm in our county. And, OMG, thanks especially for special people who laugh with me!

 

Painting Procrastinator

With a rare gap in my writing schedule, home improvement projects I nobly postponed in the name of literary accomplishment circle like grinning dragons.

Take, for example, my living room upgrade. Unless I wanted to endure yet another year of the red print chair jousting with peeling, green, flowery wallpaper, I had to don my HGTV armor and sally forth.

New wallpaper? No, the last time Hubby and I attempted that option, we required a Middle East negotiator. Paint presented a simpler alternative.

Right.

Before the Information Age, I limited color research to two minutes in the hardware store, three kids dangling from me as I grabbed fistfuls of paint chips. Then came scrutinizing them against walls for three-second intervals between sibling wars, hamster chases and Sunday shoes flushed down the toilet.

Not a perfect decision-making process, but an oddly efficient one.

However, modern technology blew my system. Viewing 5.43 gazillion websites, I could postpone painting until an archaeologist found the red chair in the flowery green living room 6,000 years hence.

Besides, Hubby delayed progress. Perhaps it is the physician in him who prefers boring, neutral walls, like a hospital’s. Eventually, though, he uttered my favorite words: “Fine. Do what you want.”

Renewing my Internet color search, I discovered Dog’s Ear Pink. Perhaps this presented a bedroom hue with which a pink-loving woman could placate her macho husband? I objected to the delicate pink called Baby’s Bottom. Fresh from caring for my newborn grandson, I knew the person who conceived that name had never changed a diaper in his life. …

But why was I looking at pink? Abandoning the Internet’s “efficiency,” I returned to the hardware store. I would hold real paint chips in my hand, chips I would force my husband at gunpoint to hold up to the wall until I made my decision.

But paint namers struck again. Our living room’s ambience had to feel stylish, yet cozy, the backdrop for family to gather around the piano and the Christmas tree. I didn’t think a shade called Totally Scientific would accomplish that. I liked Blue Dust, but already found sufficient dust in my living room, thank you very much. Water Fountain was the nice pale blue I desired, but the name resurrected grade school images of yellow-stained porcelain and anonymous bubble gum with tooth marks.

Somewhere, a paint namer exists with a simple, yet profound gift for calling the colors as he — and I — see them. Maybe even Light Blue.

But then, I would have to quit procrastinating … and paint.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Does the prospect of home improvement projects exhaust or excite you?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Nooooo More Snow!

O my God, “Happy Easter”? My yard looks more like “Merry Christmas.” This snowy Monday morning seems to have killed off any possibility of life. But OMG, when You make up Your mind, not even an uncooperative weatherman can stop Your Resurrection!

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Not Little Anymore

O my God, didn’t we used to diaper, swing, and kiss these little nerdlings’ boo-boos? Now, one grandchild is a texting teen, one’s voice alternately booms and squeaks, and the youngest beat Grandpa at Scrabble! Thank You for this new grandparent adventure. But OMG, we’ll have to grow up to handle it!

Birthday Cake vs. Birthday Pie

Birthday cakes boast a long, illustrious history. According to the Huffington Post, Greeks and Romans commemorated births of gods and men with candle-lit cakes. As wine flowed freely at birthday feasts, the honoree occasionally set his robe/toga on fire.

Birthday cake traditions still are regarded as sacred. Abstainers offend the family/office/church Cake Queen. (Watch your back, or she may stuff you into her oven.)

So, for survival reasons, I eat birthday cake. Thankfully, lighted candles suck out all calories.

On my upcoming birthday, however, I will indulge in raspberry pie. À la mode? Of course, à la mode. Do you think I’m an idiot?

Don’t answer that. You, either, Hubby.

Obviously, this crucial subject demands discussion. Though my sweet tooth welcomes sugar, regardless of origin or creed, I have always liked pie best, especially my mother’s — fruit-plump, with ambrosial juices bubbling through golden, flaky crusts.

As a child, I even loved reading about pie. Almanzo Wilder, in Laura  Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, reverently scanned hundreds at a county fair: “When he began to eat pie, he wished he had eaten nothing else.”

Mom would have made me birthday pies, if I’d dared request them. But tradition ruled. I blew candles out on cakes.

Pie Heaven does exist on this earth. My brother not only married a woman who bakes the world’s best peanut butter pie, he practices optometry where Amish patients gift him with luscious offerings. Amazingly, he once shared his birthday shoofly pie with me … which made me suspicious. Had he stuck bananas up my Ford’s tailpipe? Informed the IRS I never had the three children I claimed? Volunteered me for a ten-year mission in the Sahara? I still wonder. …

Some opponents caution that deviating from the cake custom opens the door to chaos. Only at one’s wedding does one deal with cake-in-the-face. But birthday pie increases pie-in-the-face risks exponentially.

And their point is?

The lemon cream pie that once smeared my visage caused no dire effects. Fellow conference-goers, however, fussed about my suit and hair as if I’d suffered a blast of radiation.

When globs of luscious pie are within licking distance, who cares about my hair? Some people should get their priorities straight.

Did you hear that, Almanzo? I know you’d bravely take a pie in the face. And choose birthday pie, too.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Which would you choose? Birthday pie or cake? Which kind?

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: New Grandson!

O my God, thank You for an incredible weekend — meeting brand-new grandson Theo, doing the Hokey Pokey with big brother Jonah, and playing with him in the snow! Monday morning, with its to-do list, isn’t nearly as much fun. Yet, OMG, I’m still smiling.

                                     

Soup-er Bowl

Does anything spell h-o-m-e like a kettle of simmering soup?

I grew up in southern Indiana, where winter (aka slop season), gleefully dumped rain, sleet, snow, or all of the above on us. After school, my siblings and I slogged through frozen fogs and bogs. After petting all the wet dogs we could find, we arrived home looking like mud-sicles. The bubbling, meaty fragrance of Mom’s soups thawed us out and cured a host of maladies: lost-library-book anxiety, gym class climb-the-rope deficits, spelling-contest memory loss and flat-chest syndrome. That delectable vapor also scared away any viruses that had followed us home.

Dad, after long days at his construction job, noticed a similar curative effect. His sore muscles unknotted. The what’s-this-economy-coming-to hammer on his temples slowed.

Mom’s soups, consisting of between-paycheck rations, wouldn’t appear on The Food Channel. Teeth-defying beef bits were simmered into submission with potatoes and frozen vegetables from our garden. She boiled ten-cent-a-pound chicken wings, then cooked “slop-and-drop” rivels in the broth. My Southern-born dad looked forward to ham-bone bean soup. Saturdays brought chili, a suppertime ritual sacred as the weekly bath night.

When no meat remained in the freezer, Mom cooked creamy potato soup. Occasionally our family saw several days of bean or potato soup in a row, a silent marquee that proclaimed, “Don’t ask for money.” Still, those soups warmed us up, filled us up and helped us grow up.

Perhaps, by law, every northerner should consume one steaming bowl of soup daily from November through March.

Groucho Marx wouldn’t agree. In the classic 1933 Marx Brothers movie, Duck Soup, he elaborated, “Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you’ll duck soup the rest of your life.”

Duck soup? He obviously hadn’t tasted my mom’s soups. Perhaps Groucho had been sampling Chinese bird’s nest soup. This concoction with an unappetizing name — and a literal bird nest— currently costs $30-100 per bowl. Or maybe he ate lunch with a Japanese mountain tribal group who served their soup of bananas, beans, and dirt (twigs included). Perhaps Groucho hadn’t recovered from a trip to the island of Palau, where bat soup — boiled whole and hairy with  ginger, spices, and coconut milk — is considered a delicacy.

I’ll stick with less exotic fare. Tonight, beef vegetable barley soup, using Sunday dinner’s leftover pot roast, plus crusty bread, will take the Groucho out of Hubby and me. And leave us only one pan to wash.

Simple. Cheap. And, as an old canned soup commercial declared, “Mm-mm, good!”

 

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What favorite soup warms your winter days?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: The Morning After

Guess who won the pillow fight?

O my God, when I’m with grandsons, I lose decades. Such fun! But after a museum-sprinting, pizza-eating, pillow-fighting weekend, I feel 157 — and look it. Still, OMG, thank You for every tackle-hug — and the sweet time warp of being a grandma!

The Fire Is So Delightful

When we moved into our first house with a fireplace, a primeval pyro urge pumped through our veins. A friend gave us firewood, appropriately enough, as a housewarming gift. We could hardly wait to rest chilly bones by a roaring fire, snuggling close with our children and toasting marshmallows.

The kids would say, “Tell us stories from long ago, Mom and Dad. Teach us your words of wisdom.” When we needed wood, they would fight for the privilege to trudge into the cold and haul it in.

We built a real fire. Once.

My pyromaniac father considers this immoral. He turns on gas heaters only in an emergency (if the U.S. is attacked by ice aliens). We wear shorts during visits, even in January, because Dad builds fires that make us sweat like August athletes.

He designs woodpiles as objets d’art. The wood must be perfect in composition, age and texture. With the precise calculations of an engineer, he stacks it in symmetrical rows, and woe to the bumbling, fumbling fool who upsets his perfect balance.

Dad mostly grants sons and grandsons the privilege of helping. Occasionally he extends this glorious favor to granddaughters. But I, his 60-something daughter, endure the ignominy of being left out with a martyr’s smile. Somebody has to sleep in front of football games.

Occasionally, we adult children consider buying him firewood because we fear for his safety and well-being. But we don’t, because we fear for ours. The wood never meets his standards, and Dad, seasoned by years of chopping, can also throw it.

My wussy fireplace

My siblings and I confess, to our shame, that we have not inherited his noble fire-building genes. We own wussy gas fireplaces with ceramic logs and fake coal beds that don’t emit the magic fragrance of wood smoke. We, the children of hardy pioneer stock, use decorative fire pokers and shovels to hit the ON button. From the sofa. Before we fall asleep in front of football.

Occasionally, Dad has visited, condescending to sit by our fireplace and marvel at its convenience. Just the same, we hide any old Boy Scout hatchets hanging in the garage and count our trees every morning.

We stand in awe of our father — but we keep his fire-building activities a deep, dark family secret. After all, we don’t want him to get in trouble with the government. Despite extensive research, they still don’t know Dad is the primary cause of global warming.

And if they try to take away his ax or woodpiles, we know Dad will get a little fired up.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you use your fireplace? Is it the real thing? Or fake?

 

 

Booting Up

“Don’t go outdoors without your boots!”

These January words echo across several decades.

Actually, as a child, I liked my clumping, galumping boots. Despite Mom’s firm faith that I would catch 19 diseases, their podiatric force field protected me when stomping ice-covered gutters.

I wished in vain, though, for thigh-high fishing boots like Dad’s. Such superhero footwear would have rendered me invincible, like him.

Unfortunately for my parents, my feet and my siblings’ grew hourly. While my sister acceded to wearing my hand-me-downs, I drew the line at my brother’s galoshes — unless gutters were way full.

Recycled boots weren’t always an option because we children had honed losing winter wear to a fine art. Sporting only left mittens, we misplaced right boots, too.

The positive side: Lack of sufficient winter garb kept us inside warm classrooms at recess. While friends shivered outdoors, I read books I’d longed to sample.

Some favorite stories featured boots. In Little Women, Jo March’s boots helped her play swashbuckling heroes and villains in homegrown dramas. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, a traveling cobbler designed Almanzo Wilder’s first manly pair. Puss in Boots never would have brought his master fame, fortune and a princess if he hadn’t strutted about in that all-powerful footwear.

Still, boots seemed mostly mundane until go-go boots invaded the fifth-grade fashion scene. Unbelievably, my mother refused to buy me white boots amid the muddy slop season.

I whined. I pined. I promised I wouldn’t lose them, not even one.

She wouldn’t budge. So I languished without the go-go boots every girl on the planet owned, except me — and Becky Andrews, a nonconformist who wore tall black boots like Nancy Sinatra’s when she sang “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”

Ten years later, I wore a similar pair that stretched my height well past six feet.

But snow time with my toddlers required sane mommy boots. My little ones readily wore garage sale Strawberry Shortcake and Ninja Turtles boots, even with PJs. They also waded in yucky gutters, despite my warnings.

Years later, they cornered me in a boot discourse similar to my go-go debate with Mom decades before. My children wanted me to spend a gazillion dollars on short-topped “boots” designed to frostbite toes. When I refused, the kids left the row of sensible boots I’d bought to an undisturbed existence in the closet — until I discovered my son’s worked well when I shoveled sidewalks.

A wonderful boot solution because I couldn’t wear the awesome leather boots (my size!) I’d found on a sale table for five bucks. Not in snow that might ruin them. Or sleet. Or rain. Or. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you wear your good boots during yucky weather?