Thursday, June 23, 2016

She Is Amazing

My daughter's bedroom is like a personality capsule, a glimpse into what is truly important to her 10, almost 11, year old heart.

Pictures of our family...a wedding photo of just her father and myself...a picture of her cousins, her sister and brother.  A toy horse her little sister bought her for Christmas holds a cherished spot on her window sill and an old merry-go-round toy of mine, handmade by a cousin, now gone quietly gathers dust in the corner.  

A few years ago her godmother, my sister, gave her an old painting palette of hers, still covered in smears of paint.  A piece of art in its own right, it now hangs, somewhat precariously, next to the pencil drawing created just for her by that same aunt.  A place of honor on her lavendar wall. 

Which will be green by the end of the summer if she has anything to say about it, by the way.

Her books, an odd mixture of Nail Art, Anne of Green Gables, and her dad's old ZooBooks, are stacked messily on the bookshelf-clearly not the most important part of the room, but obviously used frequently.  

Half finished art projects hang from the walls, ceiling, closet, and drawers.  Every ribbon she has ever received in her short life hangs, tacked carefully to the wall-a small, but growing collection that mimics her beloved older brother's collection on his wall.  Each of them lined up creates a satiny rainbow curtain, save one wrinkled red 2nd place Art Ribbon, tucked carefully away in my dresser drawer.  The spoils of Elementary School.

She is a girl in flux.  On the edge.  On the verge.  So young, yet so very ready for the world.  So small, yet mighty in her determination and will.  Her ability to gauge a situation and her discernment of one's character is remarkable. She can spot a fraud a mile away.  Her deadpan expression is the envy of her dad's poker buddies.

Her view of the world is so completely off the page I sometimes wonder if we're even in the same book. But I can't tell you how many times she's caused me to pause and consider things a little bit differently.  A little more like her.

I can't help but smile when I watch the way her petite frame whirls with nearly panicked energy while she's tumbling.

I admire the calm way she walks into unfamiliar or stressful situations.  Never showing the fear in her heart, though I know it's there.  

I saw her mask slip momentarily as went down during a stage performance, but up she popped. Ruffled feathers?  Not this one.

She is amazing.  

Yet I worry for her.  I know I shouldn't, she will more than likely be just fine. But as her mother I reserve some of that right.  I worry, which usually leads to me pleading with God. Pleading to guide her, to never leave her...though I know He won't.

I worry that the big world would break down that indomitable spirit of hers, that whirling joyful frenzy in her soul. That she would listen to what others tell her makes her valuable and forget that the things that make her inherently her are what give her value.  The mere fact that she is a creation of her value. That the world's assessment of her holds almost zero value.

I worry that those tears she cries when she feels people only see her as the girl who struggles with basic math and can't always remember how to spell seemingly basic words, may someday end up washing away the light and life inside of her.  

That the frustration when "friends" shut her down because they don't see her as academically equal, only makes her more determined and stronger.  

I worry that she would feel overshadowed by an older brother who appears to be successful at every turn. Sometimes, when all you're looking at is the accolades, it's hard to see the hard work and challenges that come along with such things.    

I worry for her because while she was still so small, along came a younger sister who's very birth changed the course of our entire family. My greatest fear for her has always been that she would feel as though she's the forgotten one.  The one sandwiched between two bright lights, in their own way. Even though she might be the one who doesn't just glow....she shines.

I worry that someday her daddy's stories of feeling exactly the same way won't resonate and calm the storm inside.  

I worry.

But the pendulum always swings the other way.  And I remember the baby, the toddler, this girl...she is a force of nature.  A hurricane of life and joy.  A sheer gale of laughter and fun. With a mind that doesn't like to conform to a nice little box.  But would rather rip the box apart and remake it with bright colors, some superhero references, a long explanation about why it is now better, and a bit of glitter thrown in to make it shine.

She will never let us forget her or overlook her. God gave her an extra measure of determination so that nobody, ever, overlooks her.

She reminds me so much of my mother.

She is amazing.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Think before you speak

The other day somebody at my church complemented me on my hair. Her exact words? "Have you done something different with your hair? It looks so good, kind of glowing."

Full disclosure here, I'm not an inherently vain person. In fact, my husband has more fashion sense in his left ankle bone than I do in my entire body. I go to him for fashion advice and honest answers about a new hair color or style I'm trying out.

 However, after having carried and birthed three children, when somebody pays me a compliment of any kind on my appearance I am deeply grateful. Embarrassingly grateful. Like I-might-hug-you-and-call-you-best-friend-for-life grateful.

And then I answered her question with, "I don't wash my hair anymore." She smiled bravely, mumbled something about it seeming to work for me, and then took off out of the room leaving a wake of swirling paper and leaves behind her. What I meant to say was "I don't use as much shampoo as I used to anymore."

Kind of wish I would have remembered that.

My mother used to tell me think through things before I respond to people. Consider my words and how they will be received or understood.  It became an obsession.  I would consider every possible way to say things and a love of words and how to use them was born.

I became and still am a somewhat competent public speaker and have a passion for the written word. When I write, things don't ever really get finished because I'm constantly re-writing and considering how to make a sentence understood better.  My greatest fear, no joke, is being misunderstood.  As long as I have plenty of time to consider them, my thoughts usually make sense.

 It's when I'm forced to say something impromptu or last second that things get out of hand.  Try as I might to think through things before I say them,  I'm not always successful.  Speaking on the fly, even just one-on-one usually includes at least one blank stare and uncomfortable silence in response to something that flew out of my mouth unawares.

It's a gift, I tell you.  A gift.

But here's the deal.  Those I love.  Close friends and family.  They know this about me.  And those people, my people, they love me through it.  In fact, sometimes, they find it amusing.  Most times, just uncomfortable.  But sometimes amusing.

Even my weirdness is loved, Thanks Mom.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Invest In a Good Pot Holder

Whether I'm baking, ironing, or grilling; if there's high heat, I'll find a way to burn some part of my body. And for somebody who finds food creation therapeutic, that's a lot.  I've burned my hands more times than I can count. I keep aloe vera with lidocaine in the fridge just for that.  My forearms are covered in slowly fading burn scars. Even the back of my leg has been fried a time or two (don't ask, because I have no idea). Personally, I blame it on my swirling, frenetic prowess in the kitchen.  I don't have time to be bothered with things like potholders when I'm in the heat of creating my food masterpieces.

 My mom, on the other hand would blame it on my in-explicable non-use of potholders and my lack of attention to potentially dangerous situations.  She might be right.

For years my mother has been trying to teach me to use potholders. In truth, at one point in time I did own several very nice ones.  Sage green to match my wedding registry kitchen towels.  Lovely.

Now those potholders are gone.  Pretty sure they got used by my smoker/grill loving husband.   Because he knows how to use potholders, but also how to burn holes the size of Kansas in them.  Hole-y potholders sort of defeat the purpose, so those bad boys disappeared years ago!  

So what does one do without potholders?  Besides the obvious, "buy new potholders".  One grabs whatever is handy-sweatshirt, t-shirt, towels.  Unfortunately most of the time those towels tend to be wet. Know what conducts heat better than foil? Wet towels.

 Yeah, maybe I'll look into a few potholders.  Or not.  I'll just make sure to have dry towels nearby.

Thanks Mom-someday, I promise I'll actually put this lesson to good use!  (And by the way-I've noticed an apparent lack of potholders in your house as of late...)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

7)Not all good food is pretty.

My mother's voice is forever ingrained in my head, "Make sure you grease the pan....and don't forget the corners." The other day, I forgot the corners. I've been on a bread making kick, having discovered that it's impossible to find bread that isn't full of sixty ingredients, half of which are impossible to pronounce much less eat. After reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, for my book club, I've been working at eating fewer processed foods. Not overly difficult, since we already avoid processed as much as possible.

Back to my bread loaves...they were beautiful, aromatic, high golden loaves. So beautiful and enticing that Will, my six year old was calling dibs on the first slice as before I had even taken them out of oven. Ten minutes later, as he waited, rather patiently I might add, for me to un-pan the bread, my mother's words began swirling in my head. You see lovely bread was not going to give up the cozy corners of it's pan without an arduous and ultimately, painful, fight. On most days, this would have been no big deal. Just another case of Rachel rushing through a project, only to find out that in the rushing, she forgot a very small, but shockingly important detail.

However on that particular day, we were completely out of bread and my last five attempts at making bread had been nothing short of abyssmal. Mind you, I have been baking bread since I was 10 years old. I am no novice at yeast doughs. I can make bread. But for some reason my bread have been rather on the icky side as of late. So to have these beautiful loaves and be unable to actually get them out of pan...well, that was almost more than I could bear.

As I handed Will the promised first slice, sans corners, he smiled and simply said, "Mom, this looks really good, can I have more if I finish this." I ended up giving him another slice because I had crushed the one in his hand against his chest when I nearly smothered him with a big hug. He giggled hysterically at the crushed bread, accepted his second slice, and ran out the back door to his waiting friend. He ate the better part of the loaf before the day was out. It wasn't pretty, kind of lopsided, and had no corners, but he was was tasty! Thanks Mom!

Monday, February 16, 2009

6)Moving to Austrailia Isn't Really an Option

My mother introduced me to my all time favorite book: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. If you've never read the book, I highly recommend it.

Poor Alexander's day starts out bad and gets worse. He keeps threatening to move to Australia. And his mother's very wise advice, which comes at the very end of this very bad day is simply, "Some days are just like that."

I cannot tell you how many times I heard my mom say that. Some days are just like that. One day as I complained to my mother about my extremely strong willed two year old testing the limits of my abilities as a sane human being, rather than pull out her familiar "Some days..." line, she matter of factly informed me that moving to Australia wasn't really an I'd better just figure it out. I did and that strong willed 2 year old is now a strong willed six year old, who is fully aware of who holds the reins. Thanks Mom.

Monday, January 5, 2009

5)Get on With It...

2009 is upon us and my Christmas decorations have been packed away since the 29th of December, our Christmas tree has has been unceremoniously dumped in the garden, awaiting the guy with the wood chipper, and the wrapping paper and Christmas goodies were hauled off to the dump weeks ago.

Why the hurry to rid the house of the remnants of Christmas? My mother always had our Christmas stuff put away within a few days of the last Christmas celebration. She always commented on how the house looked so much bigger and had a fresh appearance. As a child, I remember the let-down, the lag that seemed to occur as the boredom and the normal-ness of the non-holiday months loomed large on the horizon. But Mom insisted on there being something wonderful about starting the New Year right, with a clean house, and I believe more importantly, a clear mind. Thanks Mom.

Friday, December 12, 2008

4)Make those windows sparkle!

With all of the germies floating through our home these days, I felt the need to clean like crazy today. The Lysol and Clorox were flowing freely. I'm not a big fan of using those harsh chemicals to clean, however, when the smell of vomit is in the air, I'm willing to sacrifice one day of being exposed to toxic chemicals! My mom never used that stuff though. Vinegar and ammonia were my mom's weapons of choice against grime and germies, alike. I can distinctly remember the strong smell of vinegar throughout the house on Saturdays, our cleaning day. Mom swore by the ability of vinegar to make glass shine like new. I pulled out the vinegar bottle the other day to see if it really worked and my windows are clear as! The only thing I'm a little peeved about is the fact that I've been spending 3 dollars a bottle for the blue stuff. Should've taken that advice to heart sooner! We could probably have a second home! Thanks Mom!