Little Girls

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Do you know what ministers to my soul?  Doing little girls’ hair.  I find therapy in brushing out long locks of sweet smelling little girl hair.  My own current little girl has long brown locks with hints of gold that you have to see in just the right light to spot.  Thankfully she loves to have me do it every bit as much as I love to do it.  She’s in Grade 5 now and this is the age where my former ‘little’ girl asked if she could heave up the mantle of her own hairstyling.  But this current little girl finds love in the aloneness of us together in my ensuite bathroom concocting new styles together and so every morning, she holds up the hair basket to me in a sort of secret gesture and without words, we go together and we brush and brush and somtimes braid.  I navigate around the feathers, cause she is flamboyant like that, and with each brushstroke I realize that I’m the luckiest woman alive.

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Swishy and Shiny

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I’ve been unusually blessed with good friends and I don’t know why.  Sometimes when I’m with them, I sit back – quietly for a moment – in the middle of it all, good talking and laughing swirling around me and I feel like I’m watching something outside of my own life.  That’s how good it feels, these deepening old friendships.  Like a shiver that isn’t really a shiver that runs up and down your spine with the good and solid deepness of it.  I feel like the addition of us to each other makes something more beautiful than would otherwise come of the composite parts. 

I’m still languishing in the warmth of a time together with two of my friends and I’m struck by how whole and humble they both are.  They hear things about themselves that might, in another context, sting just a little, but they hear these things with grace because they know that you’ve got their back and that you love them.  They’ll tell you which pants you simply must throw into the garbage upon the instant because they want you to look as nice as you can and they know that your bum is capable of looking better than that.  Because being whole is a pivotal part of who they are, they wish you and everyone well because there is no room for scarcity amongst this sort of friend.  They buy you little notebooks with birds on them for no reason and they buy you your favorite Starbucks drink just because they think you deserve it on that day.  Their hair is shiny and you like to look at it as they talk because it’s distractingly swingy.  They smell nice because they use three squirts of perfume and you laugh as they try to convince you that two squirts just isn’t enough.  More than that, they tell you about a secret place you can go to buy your favorite perfume for a silly price so that from now on you can justify the three.  They are convinced that you are worth three.  They always have on a beautiful necklace that reminds you of secret childhood rocks you used to collect because they were so shiny and coveted.  They illustrate the word feminine with their swishy, shiny selves and it is warm where they are.  They help you to grow up, farther, better and faster than you were just moments before.

Health Bars!

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Calling these “health bars” is a bit of a stretch, considering the fact that the binding ingredient is marshmallows.  However, these are so delicious, you’ll be the Mom of the hour when you make them for your Littles’ lunches.  I first had these at my sisters’ house, where I, on a clandestine fridge raid, found them carefully and individually wrapped in her freezer at the ready for her girls’ lunches.  I spotted the Smarties immediately because I’m eagle-eyed like that.  These are seriously fantastic.  And I only stole a very few from my sweet nieces.

To make them, you melt together 1/2 cup butter and 500 grams mini marshmallows.  You then add 3 cups sunflower seeds, 2 cups nuts (or replace with various other seeds for the nut-free school attendees), 2 cups oatmeal, 2 cups pumpkin seeds and 2 cups craisins (cause I think raisins suck).  To this delicious concoction, you can feel free to add (or replace with) chocolate chips, smarties, hemp hearts, flax seeds, chia seeds, m and m’s or whatevva.  Mix well, let set and cut to size.  Have a gander:

When Large Swatches of Polyester Equal Love

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I live with a man who knows how to keep it interesting.  He leaves tendrils of sore-stomach laughing wherever he goes.  Here you can see him delightedly displaying a special something that he’s just on his way to the high school to drop off with the school secretary. He’ll instruct this unsuspecting woman to call our daughter down to the office.  Our first-born will have an unexpected present to retrieve from there. 

I go along with him, because I can’t not, and we hide outside the school, watching through the windows as she and her blissfully ignorant friend cheerfully make their way down the hallway, answering the secretarial summons.  Our giddy, idiotic joy is thwarted just a bit as the principal sees us and stops to chat.  We’re all like *we’re trying to watch our daughter get her enormous underwear present, Mr. Principal* but without really saying anything like that.  Actually all we did was smile and act all mature and parental.  We were so mature and parental that we missed the highly anticipated moment.  We were saved from an entire disappointment when Anabel caught a glimpse of us through the huge windows looking out onto the courtyard.  She and her friend ran out to us, flapping noisily like flustered birds, thrilled but feigning horror over the giant pink panties, which we were delighted to find Anabel had unwrapped from their confining gift bag right in front of the secretary.  As he knew she would, Anabel loved the giant pink panties and the strange I-love-you message they carried in their enormous, polyester folds.

 

Mexican Corn and Bean Soup

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This is our final soup to salivate over together.  I pride myself on the Mexican-themed scrapbook paper I used as background because as I look at it, I can squeeze my eyes partially closed and pretend that I’m a food blogger just for a moment.  I.  love.  food.  So much.  My friend Rhonda sent me this recipe and I recommend it highly.  In my family, it made for selfish, wonderfully egocentric Mommy lunches for a good week or so.  It’s lovely to make food sometimes, for just yourself, without having to be sensitive to the food preferences of others.  All that and it’s healthy too.  Here’s how you make some Mommy lunches for you, too:

Saute in a little olive oil:

1 medium onion

3 cloves minced garlic

Add to the pot and heat to a slow boil:

1-15 oz can diced tomatoes

2-15 oz cans kidney beans (drained)

1-24 oz can veggie juice

Mix together in a small bowl and add hot water to a paste-like consistency, then add to the pot:

3 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. cumin

Add to the pot, heat to slow boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes:

1-1 lb bag of frozen corn

Garnish with sour cream and tortilla chips.  This serves 4-6.

Weird Things Runners Do

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You can look to ‘real’ resources out there to find detailed explanations and commiserations about strange little runner-isms, but because real live, non-running people have on several occasions asked me about some of what is to follow, it dawned on me that these real live, non-running people probably don’t read magazines like Runner’s World in order to find the explanations that elude them.  I know we annoy some of you and I’m sorry for it, and thought that maybe I’ve got some explaining to do.

A friend once asked me – a maternal and therefore very safety conscious friend – why on Earth I run on the road when there’s a lovely, safe sidewalk right there beside it.  I told her then what I tell you today:  a sidewalk is made of concrete and not asphalt and is therefore approximately 4X harder than its sidewalk-ian counterpart!  My sports specialist doctor told me this, though my body already knew that something of the sort must be true, judging from the creaking and groaning and downright paining my knees offered up in response to any sidewalk running I ventured to do.  The other factor with sidewalk running is all the curb hopping one has to do to get on and off of it while transitioning to the intersecting roads.  If you’re young and lithe and thin and strong, then this hopping is perhaps not the end of the proverbial world, but if you’re aging or heavier than is ideal or perhaps biomechanically not perfectly suited to your sport, then this ill-advised hopping is actually a very big deal.

Another friend asked me recently why I don’t wave to her as she drives by while I’m running.  I’m so glad she did so that I can explain.  From my vantage point on the road, the angle of the windshields on passing cars is just right to create an anonymizing mirror.  I can’t see past it to know who the driver of the car is.  Unless you’re going really slow and I’m very close to you.  Or unless you drive a very distinctive vehicle.  So if you want to say hello, please do, and give me a gentle honk.  Not the single blasted honk, mind you, for that might make me pee myself, but a nice honk of the toot toot sort.  I’d love it for lots of reasons, not the least of which would be to break up the monotony of a run.  That and because I’m sure I like you very much.

If you ever happen to see me duck into the woods beside the road, never fear!  The incessant pound pound pounding of my run has only forced my ‘hand’ in a gastro sense.  Ignore me please, and assume that I am pursuing some very elegant and lady-like activity in the forest.  It’s better for us both if you do.  I haven’t taken leave of my senses, only to spontaneously decide to chase down a bear or a cougar.  Enough said?

In the Spring Time, if you hear me running through our neighborhood with a shiny and extremely indiscreet bell attached to my shoe, know again that I haven’t quite yet taken leave of my senses.  Or perhaps I have, because I’m headed to the trail head to run and there are bears in there.  They’re coming out of hibernation now and if they can hear me coming – well in advance – they’ll surely leave me alone.   I look and primarily sound like a complete idiot for the kilometer leading through the suburbia between my house and said trail head, but as you see me, just pretend that I’m SUPER cheerful because the sun is out, ok? 

Well, for the time being, that’s it.  If you do happen to see toilet paper dangling out from the scoop neck of my running tank, just know that its there to help attend to any elegant times that may present themselves and toot toot merrily as you pass.

 

Amalgam

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Here’s a re-pub of an old entry.  It’s something I wrote last year.  If you find one day that you are thoroughly bored out of your tree, check out my old blog.  You’ll find lots of these oldies.  I like to flatter myself that perhaps a few of them are goodies.  In the meantime, though, read this and forget all about my Spring Break laziness:

 

There is a fictitious woman who is real. The fiction lies in the fact that she is a puzzle comprised of the pieces of many real women I’ve encountered over the years. Beautiful women I’ve been blessed to call friends. This is the part that is real. See if you can’t find that aspect of her that owes itself to you, because there’s no doubt that you are beautiful in many ways.

The first thing you notice about her is her open, generous smile. She isn’t one who furtively pretends she can’t see you, though you know full well that she can. Instead, she has a smile for everyone and the wealth in her heart overflows to lightly touch the lives of those she encounters that day, even peripherally. She wishes the whole world well and though flawlessness isn’t hers to claim, she smiles at you with both her eyes and her mouth. She’s generous that way and to be withholding doesn’t give her a nasty little kick.

She doesn’t hold to the (faltering) allusion that her children are perfect, despite the evidence they consistently present to the rest of the world. She loves them unconditionally though and doesn’t feel the compulsion to try to live her own disappointed life over again through their newer, less damaged ones, vicariously and viciously. Her joy is to see them rise above her in every way, exceeding and surpassing. There is no scarcity mentality with her. She likes to think of herself as the wind beneath their wings, a la Bette Midler.

She is clean and subtly sweet-smelling. Even working out alongside her, you catch only the occasional whiff of a beautiful shampoo. She likes to look her best, though she isn’t bound by the need to.

She is intelligent, but doesn’t feel compelled to prove it to anyone. She rests contentedly inside herself and just is. Her brain is active and interesting and she always has something to contribute conversationally. She makes you think, long after having left her, because the things she says are insightful and stretching. She would never try to make an intellectual point to the discomfiture of another, though. Her kindness trumps her intellect, if it ever need come to that.

She is creative. Her creativity manifests itself in many different ways. She has sometimes been known to use the very clothes on her body as her palette. She builds furniture even – when the whim strikes – she’s so undaunted by societal gender limits wishing to foist themselves upon her. When she takes photographs, they seem at times to divulge a brief glimpse of Heaven Itself, the unearthly clarity of them is so manifest. Even the meals she cooks are beautiful works of something very akin to art. Rather than content herself with serving the same rotation of seven or so things time over and over again, ad nauseum, she researches new and lovely things to make for her family. Things like Lasagna-Chicken Florentine and Boka Dushi. The prettier sounding their names, the more inclined she feels to recreate them in her own kitchen. She’s talented and strong and whole. Her house is clean and welcoming. You know you can relax there and that she makes strong, good coffee with cream.

She knows that the best gifts she can give her children are a saving faith in Christ, a personal wholeness and a deep and growing love for their father. She doesn’t forget to take care of herself because she knows that whole people beget whole people. She understands deep in her bones that respect in parenting runs in both directions and that you can’t truly have one without the other. She knows that her little flock watch her actions and her words intently and at all times – even and perhaps especially – when they seem to be doing so least. She knows that the phrase do what I say and not what I do rings hollow and is in the best case scenario, meaningless. In its ugliest incarnation, it is damaging and undermining and relationship destroying.

She has other healthy women in her life. She is quick to laugh and competes with you to talk. With her, you are constantly following one conversational rabbit trail or another because she’s inadventently veered you off that way with all her effervescent enthusiasm. She’s frequently grabbing your arm in an animated way, saying don’t let me forget to tell you about what happened to me in the bookstore later because she doesn’t have time just yet to do so, your current talk is so gripping and so deliciously laughter-inducing. Even when her laughing gets to be ridiculously loud, she doesn’t stop. Self-consciousness isn’t something she beats her drum to and instead of annoying most of the people around her, many of them smile when they behold all her spilling-over tangible joy. She is a marvel. She likes to wear Vote For Pedro t-shirts to Zumba class. Her wholeness spills out everywhere and she’s my friend.

Sometimes a Teacher, Sometimes a Student

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I’ve been a mother now for about 14 1/2 years, if you don’t count the period of gestation that Anabel spent nestled inside of my womb, which I do.  I’ve loved it far more than I ever expected to. 

These little people regularly surprise me with their moments of surreal wisdom and their other moments of exquisite kindness.  I’ve often been struck by the thought that my Littles are – to a boy and to a girl – better people than I am.  It’s been a humbling journey, raising them. 

I’ve been exhausted sometimes and I’ve been grouchy sometimes.  Just the other day, my little Lola helped me fold laundry and held up a pair of my immense (to her eyes) and tattered underwear.  These are not the sort of underwear one hopes to be wearing when one finds oneself unexpectedly checked in to the hospital.  She held them up in a sort of disgusted reverence, and sighed forth a deep and protracted wooooooah.  In response, I treated her to one of these aforementioned grouchy moments.  After a clipped lecture on treating others the way you’d like to be treated, it dawned on me even as I spoke  that I countermanded my own orders.  The gentle reproach in her little brown eyes showed me how I was wrong.

Dwelling still in my pre-children naievity, I didn’t expect to learn so much from my own offspring.  I suppose if I’m being perfectly frank, I assumed that I would be the wise Teacher and that they would be the flawlessly obedient Students.  At all times and without exception.  I failed to anticipate times where my son would read my blog on a sick day and ask me confusedly why I swore in a recent post.   I wasn’t expecting my daughter to read some of my interactions on Facebook and tell me gently that sometimes I come across as harsh and unresponsive.  She taught me that you can never use too many happy smile icons to thaw the iciness that cyberspace can sometimes create through misunderstanding.  I’ve been shocked many times at the lessons my children so firmly grasped already and that in stark contrast, I did not.  I’m learning some things.  🙂  🙂  🙂

Home Made Quirk

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Here are some of my own things that I love and that embody said decorating penchants from a previous post. This wonderful little thing is a gift from my discerning sissy, who knows me so well. In one fell swoop, it captures both my love for antiques and quirk. It is an antique chamber pot! And here it is:

Here are my composer fridge magnets. I love them:

Here is my Bible verse chalkboard from the main bathroom. My smart friend Rhonda is the clever force behind the idea:

Here are some funky vintage chalkboards I just bought from a local vendor called Birch and Bird.

Here is our church pew which two of the four kids sit on at dinnertime:

Here’s the container where some of JoyBoy’s thousands of enormous shoes are supposed to go:

Do you have any quirky decorating or storage solutions that you can suggest?  I’m always looking for cool and unique ways to reduce clutter.  Also, does anyone know how to de-piggify certain atrociously messy children?  I’d be so grateful to learn this elusive parenting tip.  In the meantime, though, have a great day!