Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Home Stretch

Day One involved cross country travel to the edge of Texas, and a little beyond.

Day Two brought us through Arkansas and Tennessee.

On Day Three we hiked across the Appalachian hill country of Kentucky, and through most of Ohio until we reached our destination.

We stopped in more parklike rest areas. We made good time again. The kids used up the remainder of the batteries in the loaner Leapsters.

Vacation must have already started, because I even got to read an entire novel.

By hook and by crook, we arrived at Gramma and Papa's house in time to enjoy the back yard retreat for two hours before putting kids (and ourselves, in a few minutes) to bed.

Road fatigue is hitting us hard tonight. More photos and stories to be written as the moments occur.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Smooth Sailing

Today we hit our groove. Like clockwork, we awoke at 7:30 and hit the road at 8:58. We drove 150 miles before breaking for lunch, then 130 miles before a quick gas 'n' go. 140 more miles to Nashville for a dinner stop at Olive Garden (more consistent food), and a 20 minute chaser to arrive at our hotel by 6:30. In short, we experienced a perfectly boring day, in which we got to go fast. I was really hoping for one of those.

The wonder in this day appeared at our first stop. The trees and lush greenery of Arkansas and Tennessee refresh my spirit every time I pass through. Texas encompasses a variety of climates, but our little corner seems full of gnarly live oaks, prickly holly, and thorny mesquite. Hardy? Yes. Verdant? Not exactly.

The rest areas along the Interstate in this part of the country are more like parks. Stately 70 foot oaks provide shade over a grassy carpet, dotted with picnic shelters. Squirrels scamper and birds of many sizes and colors fly from tree to tree. Boo had a blast throwing bits of bread to the birds; Rooster thrilled to the excitement of charging into the midst of the birds, scattering them to the winds.

That is the reason one gathers birds together, is it not?

And Lulu stretched her little legs, toddling up and down the path between our picnic table and the bathrooms, stopping to examine the clovers, the birds, the leashed dogs, and the water pump along the way.

I love the park-like rest stops.

The other contributing factor to our successful day was the Leapsters loaned to us at the last minute by my generous neighbor. Today I decided not to try to control usage of them, but to let the kids play to their hearts content. And they played all day long. Miss Yvette's loan saved us, in fact, because five minutes before we left we realized our car movie player was broken. That would have led to a very sad trip.

I'm all for the idea of a family vacation involving kids playing games together such as "I Spy" or finding license plates or letters of the alphabet on signs along the way. But the reality is that the kids are mesmerized by media. And sometimes that's a good thing because then Mommy and Daddy can get a little peace and quiet.

I don't know what tomorrow brings. But I will be better able to handle it after this completely smooth day, complete with us getting to go to bed by 9:30. Three cheers for our perfectly boring day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Scenic Route and the Interstate

This day feels like we crammed in about three days' worth of action, most of it while sitting still. We packed the car and picked up the house (a little), while Boo went to her last day of second grade. We picked her up at lunchtime and were on our way.


The Scenic Route

Down country roads and state highways, through twenty tiny hamlets and half a dozen small towns, and around three or four population centers large enough to count as small cities; for six hours we picked our way across rural Texas to reach the state line.

We didn't choose the scenic route because we prefer to experience a sense of connection to the land through which we pass. To the contrary, the only Interstate that would take us where we are going would have us backtrack about 70 miles by passing through Dallas on the Friday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend. Yeah, no thanks. We'll try the scenic route.

Before we moved to Texas, I always thought of Texas as a giant piece of mostly empty land, with four cities holding 95% of the people. Now that I have driven the scenic route a few times, my mental picture has changed. Seems you can't travel five miles down any given country road without passing a sign announcing a population center. I have seen signs counting populations as low as 147 people.

The frustrating part for those of us who like to make tracks on our 1300 mile trek is that all these little hamlets require a change of speed. Fast, slow, fast, slow. Get behind a big rig or Ford F-350 pulling a boat, slow. Wiggle around the pair of motorcycle riders, fast. Stop light. Take an exit to stay on the same highway.

Oh. My. Word.

I feel plenty connected with the land now, and I have experienced the scenic route. Next time, we'll just suck it up and count the extra 70 miles as part of the required distance.

Snack and Exercise Break during Daddy's conference call

The Schedule

The wonder of the day is that we left an hour later than scheduled, yet still hit our mark for dinner at Outback Steakhouse in Texarkana only 15 minutes later than planned. I was frankly astonished, given our usual struggle with sticking to any kind of schedule.

We stopped to eat lunch before setting out, which delayed us an hour. Poor Rooster had to request three potty stops. The Captain, as he was working while I was driving us through rural Texas, had to put up with spotty cell phone/internet service. At one point we stopped for half an hour and the rest of us had a play/snack break while he sat in the car and attended a conference call.

Sweet Lulu never worked in a nap, which made for a bit of tension. But she did well whenever one of us could look over and give her our full attention. I bet it's hard to understand what's happening when you suddenly get put into a car and expected to sit there with no explanation. We did turn her car seat around finally so she can at least look out the window and watch the world go by. The good news is that somehow we were able to keep going despite her fussing, which helped us keep making progress toward our destination.

The Reward
I knew we would arrive at our hotel sooner or later, so never really worried about our timing for that reason. But I really wanted to arrive in Texarkana by dinner time, so we could enjoy a steak dinner at Outback. Boy do I love that place. I think I went on about it last year, but it's good enough that I feel comfortable repeating myself.

Several years ago we figured out that Outback offers something special: consistency. We can walk into Outback anywhere in the country and get good service and food that tastes the same every time. Anyone can make a good steak. But this chain has figured out how to combine good food and service, and turned it into an exact science. And when I am on the road, I want predictable food.

So tonight, thanks to our willingness to go the scenic route, and our surprising ability to stick to a schedule, we made it to Outback by 6:15. It was everything I wanted it to be. Lulu even enjoyed some bites of steak, and Boo declared it the best food she ever had (it always helps when you are starving). I love Outback.

The rest of our trip after Texarkana is confined to the Interstate system. I love the Interstate. We get to go fast.

And I love that we stop tonight in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, 360 miles (80 of them on the Interstate) closer to my family.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Road to Grandmother's House

I've heard a few expressions about the road to grandmother's house:

The road to grandmother's house is never long.
Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go.

My kids are lucky to have one of each of those kind of grandmothers.

We are fortunate to live just up the road from the Captain's parents. We live at the city limits; they live 5 miles further into the country. To get to their house, called Red Boot Ranch, we follow a long and winding path that includes a stretch of dirt road. Travel time takes about nine minutes.

The road to Red Boot is usually not long. Sometimes that road seems unnecessarily long and winding, especially times like last night when we went over for a swim only to realize I had left the kids' swim suits at our house. I dropped everyone off and played road rally for the round trip, and arrived back again in 18 minutes flat. But more often that road serves as a buffer between the bustle of everyday life and the slower pace of the country.

That nine minute drive into the country is often filled with wonder. We have seen all kinds of big and small marvels along the country road, from a pair of beautiful paint horses to the first bluebonnets of the season. We have spotted deer, turtles and frogs, rabbits and roadrunners, giant snakes, birds of every size and color and even a raccoon. Along this road we first saw egrets sitting among the cows, and a committee of vultures plotting in a tall dead tree.

The thrill of observation is reserved for those who watch the road, for all too quickly many of the wonders melt into the scenery as we pass. The Captain and I have observed most of these wonders, which we try to point out to the backseat occupants. Boo usually can catch what we see if we point. Our little Rooster, however, misses almost every sighting. His reaction time is more naturally suited for spotting big slow things like trains and tractors, horses and cows.

Most of the time our attempts to share the wonders of the road with him end up with him in tears because he missed whatever it was that we tried to point out. But a few nights ago, he finally got some validation. We pulled out from Red Boot and began our ritual scanning of the road for wildlife. Suddenly from the backseat we heard Rooster get so excited he could hardly talk.


We looked out the left side of the car to see a young doe keeping pace with us from the side of the road. We hadn't seen her because we were looking ahead, but she had come out of the brush just as we passed. I felt as if she had purposely positioned herself right in his line of sight, just so that he could have that thrill of discovery at least once in his life.

Over the river and through the woods, tomorrow we set out on the 1300 mile journey to my parents' house. I expect to see many more wonders along the way. I have spotted wildcats, foxes, deer, and other amazing things during previous trips. One of my favorite points of interest is when we cross the mighty Mississippi on our way into Memphis.

I'm just hoping, now that Rooster has had a little experience successfully spotting a wonder, that both big kids will be able to share in the thrill of observation with me.

Follow our adventures for the next three days as we travel Tornado Alley from central Texas all the way to northeast Ohio!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Just a couple quick thoughts to share today as I'm prepping for our third annual road trip to Ohio. I will get back to blogging about something besides my son, but these are too good to pass up.

Toy Trees
Overheard from the dirt pile a few weeks back, the one in our driveway that I spent a week carting to the back yard:

Oops, better get my toys out of the dirt before mommy shovels them up! Mommy doesn't want them there, because then they will get in the garden, and then there will be toy trees everywhere!

Borneo Boy
I must call him that a lot, because he is adopting it as his identity. Awhile back he said to me, "Hey mom, you know why I make such messes everywhere I go?"

Here we go, I thought. Now I will know the Answer.

"Because I'm Borneo Boy!"

Of course. Why didn't I think of that?

Hay Balls
Although he enjoys being Borneo Boy, Rooster did enjoy getting his hair cut a few weeks ago. I tried to be careful not to get hair everywhere, but the locks fell thick and fast. As yet another one rolled off his shoulders and into his lap, he exclaimed, "Hey! Little hay balls keep falling off of me!"

Then first thing next morning, he ran into the bathroom to check his reflection in the mirror. Then he ran out of the bathroom shouting, "Look at me! I'm still bald! Woo hoo!"

Last week Roo was reading a book in the car on our way somewhere. He kept giggling to himself, finally saying out loud, "Mom, this is the greatest story ever!"

The kid can't read. He was going solely on the pictures.

As is my custom, I pointed out items of interest along the way. Usually he loves to see what I'm talking about. On this day, I got some unusual responses:

Me: Hey, J- There's a train!

Rooster: "Hm, yeah... that's not as messed up as the train in this story!"

Me: Huh? Look, J- Cows!

Rooster: "Oh, mom, you should see what happens to the cows in my story!"

Me: J- What's your story about?

Rooster: "Dinosaurs!"

The best part was that when I finally sat down and read the book to him, there were indeed a messed up train and a bunch of cows that had a strange adventure. I had to agree with him on all counts. It was indeed the greatest dinostory ever.

Hot Love
The other day we grilled hot dogs for dinner. Rooster suddenly felt the need to proclaim his undying affection for the all-American link.

Hey, guys, I love hot dogs! I love them so much, we should call them "I Love You Dogs". No, wait, we should call them "Hot I Love You's". No, I know I know! Let's call them "Hot Love!"

Awesome. We have now grilled Hot Love about 4 times in the past 10 days. Nobody seems sick of it yet, but I'm abstaining from Hot Love until this weekend, so I can be prepared to indulge at the Memorial Day picnic on Monday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Robot, the Tractor, and the Alligator

This birthday was supposed to be low key, but we ended up packing as much fun into Roo's birthday as was possible. He received his first gifts right after breakfast, a pair of graphic stories about a little dog named Polo. The Adventures of Polo has been selected and checked out of the library every time it has been on the shelf for a year; I thought it time he had his own copy. Boo got to present the gift, which she did with the statement, "Here's your gift. AND I'm not going to fight with you at all today." She then proceeded to read to him. I wish every day could start out this well!

After breakfast Rooster and Miss Boo rode to Lowe's with Daddy for some necessary parts. Toilets need to be repaired whether or not someone is having a birthday! The toilet repair job turned into a four hour spontaneous father-son building project. The old toilet float was too tempting to just throw away, so the Captain suggested repurposing into a birthday scepter; in the end it became a robot with blinking LED eyes, voice activated lights on its chest, and mechanical arms made from old computer parts. What a fun bonding experience the two of them had!

In the afternoon we moved over to Grammy and Guppy's house for swimming and cookout. Some friends joined us, and the kids had lots of fun playing with trucks, rocking wildly in the hammock, and riding in the tractor.

But for all its fun, the ultimate part of the day was yet to come: the cake. In the Captain's family lore, I have heard tales of the time his mom made him an alligator cake for his 5th birthday. They even still have photos. She made it a second time for his 18th birthday, because that cake is the only thing he remembers about his 5th birthday. This weekend it was Rooster's turn to turn five, and Grammy delivered the goods a third time. The gator balloon she got to go with it really put the whole experience over the top. Also note the finished robot looking on.

Two of his gifts were a bubble machine and a bubble wand. The day after his birthday, he set that machine up on a table so it would blow bubbles right at him. He stood there swinging the bubble wand, which happens to look exactly like a light saber, at the oncoming bubbles, while singing the Star Wars theme song at the top of his lungs. I love little boys!

We had fun celebrating this little boy birthday. Between splashing and swinging, trucks and tractors, a light-up robot, a gator cake and the presence of friends and family, our son stepped out of early childhood and proudly into his new position in life as a five-year-old.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rooster's Mother

As my darling Rooster is set to turn 5 tomorrow, I thought it appropriate to share the following tale.

I love this boy.

I get frustrated when he throws everything up in the air to land on the fan, the roof, or the neighbor's roof; but I love his exuberance.

I get seriously annoyed when he has a meltdown about every.little.thing; but I cherish his tender heart.

I have serious problems with his volume control (or lack thereof); but I absolutely adore the gusto with which he lives his life.

I know I will love Rooster the 5 year old, but I have so enjoyed our year of Rooster, age 4.

Just last week, for Mother's Day, he saw his daddy give me a live tree, and saw what a fuss I made over it. So he got busy, and soon presented me with the best gift he could come up with all on his own: a couple of seeds and a handful of mulch, carefully placed in one of my tupperware containers.

Now these were not just some generic seeds he found in a field. They had traveled quite a journey to fall into his hands. First we selected a fresh pumpkin at the patch last October; then we painted it and waited for Halloween to come and go. After awhile the pumpkin decayed, and we moved it out to the garden at Grammy's house, and forgot about it.

A couple months ago, Boo and I came across the old pumpkin when we were helping Grammy clear her patch of land for spring planting. Boo grabbed a few seeds and brought them home. They were left on the front porch to roast in the early summer heat.

And on Sunday, Rooster knew just where to find some special seeds he could plant for his mommy. And mommy appreciated his desire to give her a plant, although she had a pretty good idea that those seeds had been fairly well abused.

What mommy did not know or appreciate, was exactly how ready those seeds were to sprout! Within 48 hours they had begun to grow. And within a week they were six inches tall. What in the world!

After 8 days

So we will be having pumpkins this fall, thanks to the heart of a sweet boy who didn't know what he could or could not do. It's the best gift he could have given me, because now I get to savor one of his final four-year-old acts for another four months.

Once upon a time I was hoping this child would be a girl. I am so glad I didn't get to make that decision, because one of the great pleasures of my life is that I get to be Rooster's mother.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More Dewberry Fun

After I compulsively learned everything I could about dewberries last week, I settled in to enjoy the experience. Dewberry pie was good, especially with Blue Bell ice cream.

Then I tried Dewberry Cheesecake. After all, I have recently renewed my cheesecake obsession. And Oh.My.Word. Will someone please invite me to a bridal or baby shower? Because I have the perfect dessert to share. The berry taste was augmented with a splash of blackberry wine, then complemented with crunchy toasted almonds and a dash of cinnamon. Will be making this one again very soon.

Note to self: don't use frozen berries for a photo shoot!

Five minutes after I put this cheesecake in the oven, my neighbor came to tell me about a patch of berries within walking distance of our house. We have now visited twice, bringing home buckets of berries each time. My freezer loves the attention it has been getting.

The kids are becoming pros at berry pickin', especially Miss Boo. Her white school shoes and best gray jeans are now pink from stepping in the berries. Good thing we only have a week of school left!

Lulu is already a pro at berry eating.

The original stash we discovered out at Red Boot remains deliciously difficult to reach. The brambles have grown up quite thick from being undisturbed for several years. The terrain over which they grew is the drainage ditch between the fence and the road. And the thrill of the hunt is accented by the knowledge that copperhead snakes have been known to hang out in that vicinity.

But I love a challenge. And I also love the idea of presenting my mother-in-law with a freezer full of berries from her property, and possibly even working with her to turn out dewberry jam or whatever she decides to do with them. So Miss Boo and I keep working, hoping we can collect as many juicy little berries as possible before they are gone.

Don't worry, we keep a sharp eye out for snakes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Future Butterflies of America

I used to be in love with them. The bigger, juicier, or fuzzier, the better. And in Texas in the fall and spring, there seems to be a never-ending parade of gigantic caterpillars crossing the road everywhere I go. I counted 5 just this morning on the way home from dropping Boo off at school.

Yes, I said crossing the road. Please use your imagination to conjure a mental picture of a caterpillar so big, you can see it crossing the road from 30 feet away. They are that big. They come in black, grey, yellow and orange, and some of them are as big as my pinkie finger.

Why do they cross the road? I have no idea. But this week, I have stopped avoiding them; in fact I am beginning to take pleasure in accelerating to squish them. Actually, I'm not that cold. Yet. But I have begun fantasizing about it. And I have stopped feeling guilty for the ones I do accidentally hit.

I know, I am a terrible person. But those cute fuzzy caterpillars are actually eating and pooping machines. They have eaten the lettuce in my garden, and deposited little black thank you gifts all over whatever they left behind. We captured a few for observation, and have learned that they literally push out a poop ball about every five minutes. It's insane!

I've got to get me over to Producer's Co-op for some 'pillar repeller. Then I will be happy about them again. I would love to have warm fuzzy feelings for these fuzzy friends. But I am very disinterested in growing a garden for their personal use. So until I get that pesticide set up, I am collecting every one I can find and turning it over to my death squad children for execution observation.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tiny Milestones

Rooster has a built-in milestone every May with his birthday coming toward the end of the month. But this year he got an additional reason to celebrate. In anticipation of beginning kindergarten in the fall, he got to "graduate" from his Mother's Day Out program last week. I love that the teachers took the time to make a deal out of this event. Not too big a deal; after all, we have to save the fireworks for later milestones, right? I felt this was done just right.

If I hadn't been feeling a bit sick from a sleepless night, I might have been more emotionally involved in the moment. My big achievement of the day was actually arriving on time. As it was, I survived the event tear-free.

But looking at the photos, I see a glimpse of the future, in which my gentle-hearted large-breed puppy grows into himself and graduates from my care.

I love that he is developing friendships. The kids at his MDO program are his world. It was fun to watch him interacting with them during and after the ceremony. It was also a good reminder that we are only dealing with preschool graduation.

The best part of the program, in my opinion, was when the kids sang a few songs. Since before his birth, my song for him has been "You are my Sunshine." It's the lullaby that comes to mind first whenever he wants a song. And had I been up to crying over it, I would have definitely welled up at the sweet rendition performed by Rooster and his class. It was the perfect touch to this well-done tiny milestone.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Dewberry Good

In Ohio, children know it's spring when their mommas take them strawberry picking. In Michigan, children know it's fall when daddy takes them to the apple orchard. In Utah, children know it's winter when their parents take them to the ski slopes.

And in Texas, children know it's spring when the bluebonnets bloom.
But they know summer is almost here when the dewberries are ripe!

This whole dewberry thing is a Texas cultural phenom, as far as I can tell. I have recently learned all sorts of interesting things about dewberries, and I would like to share them with you:

  • Dewberries are blackberries. Dewberries are not blackberries. Dewberries are a kind of blackberry. Dewberries are related to blackberries. Dewberries are black, and they are definitely berries.
  • Dewberries are smaller than blackberries. Dewberries are larger than blackberries. Dewberries are the size of a berry.
  • Dewberries grow on low spreading vines, as opposed to the high reaching canes of wild blackberries. Mostly.
  • Dewberries have fewer stickers than blackberries. Dewberry vines are loaded with stickers.
  • Dewberries grow along the side of the road, while blackberries come from a store.
  • Dewberries taste just like blackberries. Dewberries taste different than blackberries. Dewberries are better for baking because they are tarter than a blackberry, and hold their shape better than a blackberry.
  • Dewberries ripen earlier than blackberries.
  • To preserve dewberries for year round enjoyment, first stake out your patch of roadside berries with barb-wire get lucky enough to find some along the road before someone else does. Then, rinse and freeze them on a cookie sheet. Or put them in a Ziploc bag and cover with water, then freeze the bag. Or, do whatever you would do to preserve blackberries.

Despite all the differences in actual information, every native Texan I asked (or Southerner, as my Louisiana neighbors are pretty keen on them too) agreed in one respect: "Ooh, dewberries! When I was a kid..."

And being the awesome Texas parent that I am, I have given my kids my kids have discovered the joy of dewberries for themselves. Miss Boo was so proud to have discovered a patch of them and have us take an interest, that I was obligated to name our pie, Maren's Dewberry Pie. To which she responded, "You mean I get to eat the whole thing?" Uh, not exactly. But we will allow you to have a piece!

Four and Twenty... Hundred... Dewberries... Baked in a Pie!

The rest of us enjoyed Boo's discovery immensely. It's too bad they are not really blackberries, because blackberries are my favorite. I suppose these will do. When in Texas, do as the Texans do, and enjoy the heck out of every dewberry you can get your grubby little fingers on.

I am now working on creative ways to bake with dewberries. Dewberry Pie. Dewberry Cheesecake, Dewberry Cookie Bars, Dewberry Cobbler. I'm about dewberry cross-eyed, and deliriously happy to have discovered one more thing to love about Texas.

In case you were counting, I used the word "Dewberry" thirty-one times in this post. Thirty-two. I wonder how long it will take for this page to show up on Google when you search for the term "Dewberry." Thirty-three. Probably a good place to stop.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wow! Fifteen Months of Lulu!

Lulu has been 15 months old for three weeks now. This stage is one of my favorites, in which every moment is full of discovery. Everywhere she turns, her eyes light on something and she sucks in her breath as if surprised to see it there. She points, and if we follow her direction, sometimes we are lucky enough to see whatever she sees.

In the last two weeks she has been slowly but steadily crossing from being a crawler to being a toddler. You can always tell when she is pleased with herself because she will shout at the top of her lungs. And she is pleased with herself most of the time, as long as she is the center of attention!

On her first birthday, three months ago, she formed her first word (besides DaDa, of course), "HOT!" Since then she has added "Hi!" and "Hat." This week she added one more, "Wow!"

Every day she becomes a little more perceptive. She has started holding things up to her ear and babbling as if on the phone. She enjoys conversing with the baby she discovered in the reflection of the oven window. And yesterday she didn't just want to share my chips, she wanted to dip them in my salsa just like I was doing.

I opened the front door for her highness this morning, and she heard Rooster talking with the neighbor. From 15 feet inside the house she started shrieking, "HAIIIIIIIEEE!!!" and trundling toward the door as fast as she could. That nasty threshold throws her off every time, so it took her extra time to get over that, but soon enough she emerged into the open air, all smiles, to greet one of her biggest fans.

Five steps out, and she was mesmerized by the budding mums in the flower pot outside my door. "Whaow!" With a sharp air-sucking sound, she pointed and oohed and aahed over those buds until I felt left out for not having noticed them first.

Childhood is a journey of discovery. Somewhere along the way I lost some of the magic of discovery, and the rest of my life has become a quest to recover it. I love having kids, because it reminds me to notice all the tiny miracles all around me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Watching the Grass Grow

This day clearly sorted itself into a single theme: Waiting for the Grass to Grow.

The Actual Grass
This spring's growing season in Texas has delighted my heart. After nearly two years in our house, we finally got to work landscaping our back yard. It's not much, but the amount of work involved has made me appreciate it very much. Now if only the grass would grow.

St. Augustine grass (known to my dad, who grew up in California, as Devil Grass) is the grass of choice around here in every new subdivision. I fail to grasp why a non-native grass would be better than a native grass such as soft Bermuda grass. I hear it's hardy and has a longer growing season, plus when it's healthy it chokes out every other kind of grass and weed. However, it is susceptible to root rot when it grows too long, or when anything sits on it for more than two days, or when water is allowed to sit on it. And I am terrible at mowing, frequently find that toys and garden tools (and a trampoline) have sat in one place for too long, and I have a yard with drainage issues. Hence, our backyard has large patches of dead St. Augustine grass.

I have now hired a lawn service to spray my yard with fertilizer, herbicide, insecticide, and fungicide in various applications throughout the year. Because I now have money invested in the solution, I am also getting conscientious about mowing regularly and watering the yard according to the directive of the lawn service company. And before the next rainy season (in six months) I also have hopes of installing gutters and a french drain to manage all the water that stands in the yard every time it rains or we run the sprinklers.

Every morning and afternoon I check my yard, hoping to see signs of rebirth. The grass is starting to grow back around the edges, especially in the places I have marked for future patio, garden, or storage shed development. But in the middle of the yard, where I imagine thick, luscious green carpet, I still have big brown patches of death.

Healing from an Injury
As I anxiously worry over my grass, willing it to return healthy and strong, it occurs to me that I have similar situations elsewhere in my life. I've got a chronic injury that I'm finally trying to treat, via chiropractor, therapeutic massage, and/or medical doctor. It started when I tried to help the Captain train for the Warrior Dash. After two months of waiting for it to go away, I am fed up with back pain and went to get an adjustment today. It felt better afterward, but is hurting again tonight. It will be hard to tell if this fixed anything, because there is so much healing that has to occur simply in the muscles surrounding the affected area. I have a doctor appointment soon, plus a follow up chiro visit scheduled in a couple weeks, in hopes that something will make a difference.

Boo's Karate Progress
After a busy day coordinating the chiropractor appointment, preschool, rounding up ingredients for a new cheesecake recipe, and sparing several annoyed thoughts for my dead grass, I took Boo to her karate lesson.

Boo has definitely made progress since January. But on the day to day scale, this was a less than stellar karate day. I got an email from the instructor that if she continues to sit down during class, she will simply be escorted off the mat. Then she forgot her weapon...for the third session IN A ROW. I sat and watched the instructor pull her aside and seriously explain to her that she needs to get her act together. And on the inside I sat and wished I could get Boo's attention and download all of life's lessons into her brain the easy way.

The Common Thread
All of these situations involve problems. In my opinion, they are problems that require my involvement to move toward a conclusion. But as I stewed over my problems today, I had to come to this realization:

Sometimes, fixing a problem is as simple as setting everything back the way it should be.

Sometimes, you can put everything right, but waiting for the problem to resolve is like watching the grass grow: it happens, but it seems to take forever.

I think that old saying, about sitting around and watching the grass grow, is an expression that something is pretty much a waste of time. I have changed my lawn caretaking habits; I've begun to visit the chiropractor; I've continued to challenge Boo and take her to her lessons. To keep worrying about any of it beyond that, will be a waste of my time.

Now it's time to find something more useful to do, like get cracking on the next cheesecake. That has been an adventure in the making, and I can't wait to tell you about it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Three Musket-cheers

This post is about food. I usually prefer to put food posts on my cooking website. However, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to post photos to that WordPress template. Probably has nothing to do with the fact that I haven't updated the template in like three years.

I am, however, a pro with posting pictures to my blogger template. So rather than continue to spin my wheels over it, I will post here. But if you get hungry, hop on over to Common Cuisine for the recipe, K?

You might like to know that during my first pregnancy I drank half a gallon of milk every day for five months. At four months of gestation, I saw my brother-in-law, Wesley, get a glass of milk to go with his spaghetti, and I thought, Hey! That sounds perfect! And that was the end of it. After that time, I was frequently overheard to say things like, I'm hungry. Think I'll get a glass of milk. Crazy, I know.

During the final month of that pregnancy, I finally figured out I would like something to go with my milk, and seized upon a bag of fun size 3 Musketeers candy bars. It disappeared oddly fast. So I had to go get another. And another.

I don't drink much milk now that the pregnancy craziness has ended, except on spaghetti night. But my love affair with 3 Musketeers was only beginning. I don't understand it, since they are just made from fluff (boring) and milk chocolate (I prefer dark). But after a lifetime of Snickers and Reese's PBC loyalty, and an ongoing affair with Dove Promises, my true love shifted to 3 Musketeers. I usually keep a couple in my fridge now, for the chocolate emergencies that frequently occur at 4pm and 9pm. There is not one at this exact moment, which is bad because now that I'm talking about it I want one! And 4pm is coming soon.

On a (soon to be) related topic, I have a cheesecake cookbook. Yep, that's right, an entire book devoted to cheesecake. The cover promises, "More than 100 Sumptuous Recipes for the Ultimate Dessert" but I can't verify that because I have probably used about 5 of the recipes. Straight-up Plain-Ol' Original, Key Lime, and some kind of chocolate. That's actually only three.

It occurs to me suddenly that I should be writing in this book every time I use a recipe, so I know what I thought about each one, and whether I should do that again, or what I would do different. But that would require me being totally awesome, and as you probably already know, I am only mostly awesome. Most of the time.

After a three year hiatus from cheesecake making (I think the last time was for the same party I made the Swan Dress for), I pulled out my book a few weeks ago. And found that I had made myself a couple of tabs, presumably for recipes that look especially good to try next. Good for me! I was shocked to see one of the tabs said, "3 Musketeers." Great day in the morning! I knew about this, and forgot? Having kids really does kill your brain cells.

I just so happened to have promised a cheesecake to a friend who had a baby last week. So I made the 3 Musketeers cheesecake for her. It is actually called something else in the book, but I know the truth. And the batter tasted just like the candy bar. Sublime.

Elizabeth is a good friend who understands about cheesecake. Or else I am pathetic and it shows all over my face. Because when I arrived at her door with the cheesecake, after I begged to take a photo of a slice of it, she offered me a piece. Of my own cheesecake, that I had brought to her as a gift. And I accepted. And it was so good I could almost see through time for a moment.

I will be making another 3 Musketeers cheesecake in the near future. But cheesecake doesn't taste right if eaten alone. So if you would like to be invited to my 3M cheesecake eating party, please leave me a comment and I'll post you on the exact time and date.