On baking…

In the kitchen, baking a cake, I found my mother.

She was there as I turned on the mixer, the whir of the KitchenAid blade beating the Crisco and butter together.  I heard her voice as I cracked the eggs one at a time into a glass, to be poured into the mixing bowl after checking for shells.  I saw her hands leveling the flour, measuring the salt and baking soda, turning the crank on the sifter.  I felt her near me as I prepared the pan with a paper towel, Crisco and flour.

Again she was there, when I beat the buttercream icing to soft white peaks, when I spread the icing onto the sheet cake in the smooth back-and-forth rhythms I learned just watching her countless times, and as I screwed the icing tip on the bag.  As I made figure eight’s on my son’s hand, I felt again the smooth texture of sweetness, of gift.

And as my son looks at his completed cake that is mixed, baked, iced and decorated by hand, I think, even though she’s gone, even though he will barely remember her, this cake and the many that will come after it, are gifts from her.  As surely as if she made it herself.

Because she was with me in the kitchen today, and I was so happy to find her there.

On Mother-Baby connections…

I read this article a few days ago doing my usual morning net surf. Started this post then, but wasn’t sure where to go with it.

Then yesterday, I had this little moment with Jude.  Jude is my youngest child and will turn five in a week.  Five.  When he was born, in my mind I saw him as a middle child of five kids.  I figured I would have at least two more babies before I turned 40 and then Mac and I would have to work hard at natural family planning in order to enjoy those retirement years in peace.  Haha, right?

Jude became the youngest of four when we brought Tristan into our lives.  Then last summer, after 4 years, we found out we were pregnant again.  I was thrilled.  A little worried as well, because we have come to rely on my salary more than we should and taking time off for a baby would be hard, but we had 8 months to save money and be ready.  Only five weeks into the pregnancy, however, I miscarried.

Walking to work yesterday, I thought about my youngest son who has gotten so big.  And then my thoughts turned to the baby that we lost.  He would be a few weeks old now.  I was profoundly sad at never getting to know him and at the idea that my body may be done having babies.

Then I thought about the article.  About how that little baby is still with me.  In my MARROW.  The idea takes the phrase “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone” to a whole new level.  Each baby that I have is with me still.  The thought made me wonder at the world we live in – how little we understand it – how amazing our bodies and our connections to each other are.

 

On turning around…

I left my house today to walk to work.  I do this often.  Usually I say good-bye to every one in the house, but today I only said my good-byes to those who were downstairs.  No big deal.  A common occurence.

I had gotten about a hundred yards down the sidewalk when I heard my name being called.  I turned around to see Jude, my 4 year old, and Mac standing in the yard.  I waved. Jude took off running towards me.  He reached me, gave me a huge hug, said “I love you, Mommy” and “good-bye”, turned and ran back to his daddy. 

Just a little moment.  But my boy, smile lighting up his face, legs pumping away – that image took me all the way to work. 

On my screen porch…

Photo on 2-23-14 at 11.40 AM

Those of you who have known me for a while know how much I love my screen porch. When my husband and I were shown our house for the first time (it wasn’t our house then), we looked all through the place, loving the curved archways and picture molding. We decided to buy it that day. (the price was pretty amazing, too) A few weeks later we were back in town to meet a contractor to inspect the house, when we finally went out on the porch. It was huge! Built with brick as part of the house, with more arches and a tiled floor, we could not believe our luck. The wood and screens needed replacing, but Mac loves summer projects and he did the work himself.

Each spring, I come out and throw away the old plants, dust off the furniture, wipe down the tables and mop the floor. I fill my bird feeders hanging in the dogwood tree and in the mornings…sit. Sometimes we play board games out here. Sometimes we do homeschool out here. We’ve been known to eat lunch, nap and read (or even watch movies).

Last weekend after our second crazy ice storm of the winter, we had a week of 70 degree days. Sunny, warm…I needed my porch. So I spent a whole afternoon cleaning and dusting and pouring and wiping and now…sitting.

Just a moment ago I saw my first cardinal of the (almost) spring. His brilliant red feathers and beak were even more beautiful set against the bare branches and gray sky. Yea…I love my porch.

On walking away…

I read this article a few days ago, written by a man (a very intelligent man apparently – a PROFESSOR!) whose son had, by his account, an AWFUL time in kindergarten and first grade because of an undiagnosed disability. The story goes through so many weird twists that it’s hard not to imagine the whole scenario as the plot of a Lifetime Movie of the Week.

This father speaks of himself and his extremely intelligent (NEUROSCIENTIST) wife, their trusty psychologists and therapists and lawyers, up against the machinery of the school system. They bravely battle through until the Ever Benevolent Court gives them PERMISSION (Oh praise be to the Ever Benevolent Court) to move THEIR CHILD to a better school. And everyone’s happy.

And all I can think about through the entire article is WHY? WHY would any seemingly (I mean they have DEGREES!) intelligent couple send their PRECIOUS little boy into a place in which the only way that he can get through the day is by ROCKING in his chair?

“When we brought him to school, he would cringe away from the staff and refuse to say hello.”

Forget a disability, how about yanking your boy away from a place like that IMMEDIATELY? As in, never to return.

In the comments after the article, the father is very gracious to answer many of the questions that people pose to him about the situation. Only one person out of the bunch asks my question. Why not homeschool? The father’s reply? “To me, the solution is not pulling out, disengaging, and leaving everyone else to their fate, but instead speaking out and raising awareness of these issues.”

My duty, as a parent, is not to sacrifice my child’s needs on the altar of the public education system or the “greater good.” My job is to raise MY child. And to protect MY child.

I am not saying that every parent has the personality to homeschool, but there are a wide variety of options available to parents, especially affluent ones. I have no doubt that this man and his wife love their son very much, but the fact that REMOVING HIM FROM THE SITUATION was not seen as the most obvious answer to the question of what to do makes me sad for this little boy and the year of his life that was wasted on a battle that could have been won by walking away.

CST #254: Everything is Awesome

Listen here.

We LOVED The Lego Movie, endured some more winter storms, visited my folks, and stayed married!

Movies:

The Lego Movie

Blogs:

threestrawberries.wordpress.com

On spending money…

So it’s tax time. Time to sit down with those W-2s, scour through your piles of saved receipts, and look for ways to keep Uncle Sam’s hands off more of your hard earned money. Ugh.

I’m going to make a statement here that is going to sound like bragging. I apologize for that. I have worked only part time since my son Ben was born 11 years ago, so my salary has always been a supplement to my husband’s which provides a retirement package and very reasonably priced health insurance. So imagine my surprise when I got my W-2 this year and realized that I made more this past year than I have since that first year after I graduated from nursing school 14 years ago.

Here’s the worst part. I. Don’t. Know. Where. It. Went. I mean, I KNOW where it went. I’m a faithful Quicken user and have been since I was 18 and got my first Compaq computer for college. I can print out a report that tells me exactly where my money has gone.

BUT, seriously! Where did it all go? Intellectually speaking I know how to budget. I know how to plan for meals (and I do), but even after a year of listening to Dave Ramsey give the same advice to 3 hours’ worth of call-in guests, I still have not managed to get a hold on my (and my family’s) spending.

I suppose, when it comes down to it, daily prayer, consistent exercising, letting go of that second helping, and getting off of the couch are all part of the budgeting problem. They are all symptoms of a lack of discipline in our (okay my) lives.

And lumping all those other problems in with the daily prayer is kind of ridiculous, cause we all (okay I) know that prayer is the place to start. Beginning the day by asking the Lord to help us in ALL areas of our (okay my) lives is the best way to get MY spending habits under control.

I’ll let you know how that works out, especially heading into Lent.

CST #224: The One Mac Didn’t Name

Listen here.

We’ve got a new dog, Mac is a den leader, Age of Miracles is great… if you’re a girl! and how do you deal with mature content in movies when watching with a 16 year old?

 

Books:

Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson

TV:

Hell on Wheels (AMC)

Movies:

Once

 

CST #223: Goodness Forbid we Tell the Truth

Listen here.

We have a new addition to the family, the school year is in full swing, we’re revisiting 30 Rock, don’t really care for the latest Bourne movie, and rail agianst the fight-picking of gay activism.

 

Movies/TV mentioned:

30 Rock

TED Talks

Mirror Mirror

CST #222: The Vacationing Catholic Rises

Listen here.

Just back from Orlando vacation, long lines, great rides and lots of Butterbeer. We review Chronicle, Rayman Origins, and The Dark Knight Rises. In Catholic Stuff we talk about the excess of vacations and not rapping at mass.

 

Movies mentioned:

Chronicle

Dark Knight Rises

 

Video Games:

Rayman Origins

Quizboard

 

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