Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I Don't Care to Chew My Milk

Josiah wearing his dessert

There were seven of us in my family of origin.  Even by my ancient standards, we were a pretty big family.  And big families come with certain rules.  One of the rules was to eat everything on your plate.  With one rare 'oyster' exception that we still talk about to this day, that rule was strictly enforced.  Oh, and my Dad served the plates, meaning that you were not allowed to pass on anything other than dessert.  Apparently, I was not too scarred by the rule, since my sons endured the same requirements.  However, some childhood trauma foods have never been served in my house:  liver, beef heart and Spam, to name three.  Other family favorites like Lima beans and lamb are served here, but with a special exemption issued to ME.

I'm really not that picky an eater.  I've had shark and jicama, edible flowers and head cheese, reindeer and frog legs.  Some I like more than others.  But there is one food, that I don't recall eating as a child, and I want to like as an adult - but I don't.  Everyone around me eats it and sings its praises.  A couple of times a year, I'm sure I will change my mind - or my taste buds, whichever.  Alas, every time, I'm wrong.  I cannot eat yogurt.

Elijah attempting not to waste a drop
In high school, I spent a summer in Finland, where my host family treated me to homemade yogurt, sprinkled with Frosted Flakes.  I went through half a box of cereal and still had half a bowl of yogurt staring up at me when I threw in the towel.  I can't for the life of me make myself like the taste of sour milk.

My grandloves, though, can easily be bribed to eat almost anything as long as they get yogurt for dessert.  They must get that from their Grampa's side.  He has that creamy sour stuff for breakfast most days, so the frig is generally well stocked - and the grands (boys and girls) count on it!  As you can tell, it's a messy kind of treat, at least for those under the age of three.  Actually, the three barrier can breached by silliness, as Josiah proved the other night.  I'm pretty sure his cream-covered nose was an intentional fashion statement

Bryce, the champion Granma breaker
There was one grandboy, though, who not only attempted, but succeeded at the impossible.  Like his cousins, solidified milk was a perpetual favorite for Bryce when he was a baby.  But being an only child for the first five years of life, he was more apt to share his bounty.  Look at those baby-blues and that near toothless smile!  How could I say no to his culinary shareable?  With chubby little, gooey little, germ-y little, yogurt-y baby finger offerings, I knew I was had.  I still can't say I liked it, but I was madly in love with the purveyor.

In case you were wondering, Granma's are not too old to learn new tricks.  Gogurt, in squeezable pouches, deliver their contents more concisely to the mini ones, rendering moot the need to decline a taste from their adorable fingers.  Saved by convenient packaging!

Here's hoping they never develop a taste for Lima beans...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Leaps of Faith!

I've had a few career changes over the years.  My first full time job was as a legal secretary, not glamorous and not where I expected to land, either.  But then, I also had two boys in under a year and degree from the Nike University (as in, Just Do It).  The more traditionally recognized graduation waited for another child, a mortgage and 10 years...  In time, I because a trust officer, before I switched directions entirely to design houses.  Now, after another change, I carry licenses with numbers only recognizable to others in the financial planning sphere.  A door closes and another opens.  It's not the path my high school self planned, but then, high school selves are not known for being the sharpest crayons in the tool shed...

It got me to thinking about transitions.  Some happen almost without notice.  It might feel like a natural progression, but when you stop to glance back, you see that the route taken was neither planned nor linear.  Other changes are more like jumping over chasms formed by earthquakes.  You are going merrily along your way and when the earth rumbles, and opens, and threatens to engulf you.  You must leap into uncertainly with all your might or succumb to an unthinkable fate.  So, you take flight, hoping for the best.  "Best" can be a qualitative term.

I had the good fortune of waiting until adulthood before being required to launch myself toward the other side of a chasm of unfathomable depth and width.  In fact, I remember that first leap when my eldest son was life flighted to an ICU unit.  My first vivid thought was, "I'm not old enough to do this.  I want my Mommy!"  Much to my surprise, I landed safely on the other side, though most assuredly, it was not due to my superior leaping ability.  I had help.  Thank you, Jesus!

Some of my grand-loves, though, have had to face chasms of their own at ages far too tender.  Death, divorce and ill-health have burst upon them unwittingly and unwanted.  It's not that they were left to fend for themselves at such a time.  Many who love them have gathered around, shaken themselves by the devastation, but focused on the little loves before themselves.  Still, there is no way to insulate them from their ground that has rumbled and split.  Love, it seems, cannot always provide a soft landing, or at least not soft enough.

That's a lot of rambling for a Tuesday - or any other day, I guess.  No, there are no new events in the offing, but it just won't stop tumbling around in my head - my own private earthquake between the ears.  Granmas are supposed to be cookies and sweetness and kissing boo-boos - little boo-boos.  In my third generation of lives, I still don't know how to make hurts disappear when kisses and tickles don't work.

I am left with one possible remedy, the one that worked the first time around.  So as I run as fast as I can and leap as far as I can, with arms outstretched to catch and hold the objects of my utmost affection, my heart cries out for assistance.  

Dear Jesus, who loves the little children, all the children of the world.  Please help me to shower extra love on my grand-ones.  And from my heart and from Yours above, please let love be enough.  Amen. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Forty and Holding

I remember quite distinctly when I was thirty-something and someone asked me how old I would be if I didn't know how old I was.  I was raising 3 boys of my own at the time and I felt like the world (or my corner of it) rested on my shoulders.  My immediate answer was "40".  That, my friends, was depressing.  It was also the epitome of an exaggerated sense of self-importance.  Obviously, I took myself WAY to seriously at thirty-something.
Bryce Then

Tyler Now
Tyler Then
Bryce Now
So, now, I'm older and wiser - haha - or pretending to be.  My answer to the same question - two decades later - is still the same.  Thirty-seven plus years of marriage, 3 sons, 5 grandboys and 3 grandgirles - I'm still 40, right?  Just say, "yes," and everyone will have a nice Valentine's Day...

For the novelty of it all, I changed the wallpaper on my computer to randomly scroll through my pictures folder (seeming non-sequitur, I know).  It continues to amuse me every time I sit down at my computer.  Sometimes I actually sit and watch the changing pictures just to see what will come up next.  What can I say?  Frequently it is more entertaining than what is on TV.

Aidan Then
Aidan Now
While watching my own private picture show, I often find myself melting:  oh, I remember that! or Which kid is that? or I want to kiss those cheeks!  Somewhere the years have melted, as well, grandboys moving from flower child to pokeball fanatic - from rock hound to super turtle - from chubby-cheeked cherub to devil-may-care independence - from would-be-scholar to junior-GQ.  And with all those changes, all those loving moments, all those kisses and tears and sighs of exasperation, isn't it remarkable that I haven't aged even a day?  Well, OK.  Maybe I'll admit to 41 now, but only if I'm feigning honesty.  I just enjoy living in my own fantasy land with these grandboys.

Josiah Then
Josiah Now

BTW, Aidan guessed I was 67 the other day.  I don't hold it against him - mostly...  I might have threatened him with an early bedtime, though, if he didn't take it back...

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Picture Perfect

I have this thing about pictures - though absolutely no talent personally.  When I say "pictures," I mean snapshots, which is the extent of my capability.  They always look better in my head than on my camera, but I love them anyway.  As my bestie, Merry, says, "The best camera is the one you have with you."  Thank you, Apple.

Snapshots aside, I really admire photo professionals.  I admire their artistry and persistence and anticipation - especially when photographing people - most especially small people - who do not take direction or prisoners.

We recently engaged our friend, Stacy Vitallo, to take one year pictures of Faith and Naomi.  Mind you, they passed the one year mark six months ago.  But seeing as they started life on the miniature side, the decision was made to stretch the celebration documentation a bit.  It seemed like such a great idea.  And while the bright ideas were cropping up, why not take a picture of the three brothers along with their sisters?  Indeed, why not...

Step one:  Distract Faith long enough for Mama to hide.  Otherwise we would have needed a video camera to capture Faith crawling at lightening speed to Mama to be held.

Step two:  From her hiding place, Mama found some "pearl" necklaces to use as a photo prop.  That met with some success!

Step three:  Remove pearl from brothers when their turn comes to face the camera.

Step four:  Arrange boys aesthetically for a pleasing picture.

Step five:  Repeat step four.

Step six:  Coax smiles - with varying degrees of success, and never all at the same time.

Step seven:  Go for broke!  Throw all five into the mix!

Step eight:  Buy Stacy a beer.  I think she earned it!  Actually, there were some absolutely adorable pictures of each child.  But sometimes it's all about the one that got away.  It's certainly not a still life, but it is a real life!  Thank you, Stacy!