Monday, February 22, 2010

Ah, Memories...and a Recipe

I'm getting back to eating a lot like we did when I was a kid, and it's helping me win the war against diabetes  (more on that in another post).  My mom fed us very healthy food most of the time, and I'm so very thankful for that.  Nearly everything she came up with was delicious, Mom is a great recipe inventor.  It was nearly always whole grain and healthy as well.

Take drinks, for example. We never made  Kool-Aid.  It still seems gross to me because it's just sugar, water, food coloring and artificial flavors.  We occasionally had soda as a treat at holidays and birthdays (which isn't any better than Kool-Aid though it seemed like it was to me because it was fizzy).  Mostly we drank water, Postum, herbal tea, nutmilk date shakes (goood stuff!) and occasionally juice or homemade lemonade.  Mom would make orangeade and limeade with real oranges and limes, it was delicious.

When I was ten years old, Mom somehow acquired a container of orange drink mix powder--the kind that is manufactured by our church, complete with artificial coloring and flavors.  One fateful day, she decided to mix some up.

Later that afternoon, I wandered into the kitchen, thirsty.  I opened up the refrigerator door, and what did I see?  There, in its chilled glory, was a full pitcher of Orange Drink. (I think that's what we called it.)

I couldn't believe my good fortune.  It was untouched, full to the brim.  Me, the first one?

I drew it carefully out of the door, taking care not to bump the lid and spill any. Almost reverently, I filled a tall glass, nearly to the top.  I put the pitcher back into the refrigerator door.  Then I took the cool glass, light reflecting off of the nectar inside, glowing as if it contained the sun itself, and I--chugged.  No savoring  there, I was thirsty!  I chugged and chugged until the glass was nearly gone before it hit me.

No, the glass didn't hit me--but an awful, sick feeling did.  In the time it took my taste buds to connect with my brain the glass was only 1/4 full.  I set the glass down on the counter quickly as my stomach churned to toss that drink skyward.  I managed not to hurl, barely!

My mother, somehow, had reached for the salt container instead of the sugar.  I was expecting a sweet, orange wave and got hit with rusty seawater. 

To this day I get sick thinking about it.

I don't like Orange Drink anymore, even when prepared properly.  There's a distinctive taste to it, and that taste reminds me of excessive salty nastiness because I now connect the two.

To take your (ok, my) mind off of this experience I will give you a healthy recipe I came up with for tonight's Family Night treat.  Not a drink, but the kids loved it! Clicking on the link will take you to the recipe blog I share with my mom, and sister Karen.

Here's to ending on a sweet, healthy note!  And if you keep salt in a bin, please-- for the sake of your children--grab a big, Magic marker and write "SALT" on it.  Immediately.*




*Unless you want to give them an experience, that upon recall, could possibly help treat an accidental poison ingestion or some such emergency.  It's your call.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why I Don't Open Up--Except For Right Now

I admit to being very surprised to read the writing suggestions I received two posts ago.  Mainly because they were suggestions for me to reveal what makes me tick, what makes me Rebecca.  I was touched, and completely taken aback by the rush of emotion I felt.

Reading blogs, changing diapers, cleaning the house, making food for the missionaries today, I kept coming back to that overwhelmingly rich feeling.  The type of feeling that is so poignant it makes you feel like crying, but you're not sure why.

Now I know why.

I have a fear of revealing my true self.  Oh, I have done it somewhat here occasionally.  But the real me, the true me?  I think I'm afraid to do that, to let part of me go.  I think the very closest I get to that is when I write poetry or fiction.  I just let the words flow through my fingers like inky streams.  Inky streams of computer font.  But they're mostly unfiltered.  That's raw, pure, Rebecca.  I think that's why I only write poetry occasionally.  It's from the innermost part of me and I feel naked when it's out there.  But it also feels right, feels good.

I've come to understand that I give you part of me, I could lose it.  I can be hurt.  If I don't, then there's no danger of being hurt.  The few people I'm friends with online--it was a big deal for me to open up like that.  I just don't do it in real life, haven't in years. But I enjoy hearing about other people's lives and loves when I'm talking to them.

Why am I this way?  I came up with two reasons:

The first one is that we moved around a lot when I was young; we rarely stayed anywhere more than two years.  If we stayed in the same area, we moved to a different house.  I had such a hard time leaving; it hurt so badly.  Not only did I miss people (most of them I never saw again), I missed things.  I missed my room, I missed the yard, objects were like living things to me. I was the girl who ran to hug the trees goodbye before piling in the van to leave West Virginia.  I secretly kissed the walls goodbye in more than one house. I was the girl who felt like her heart was ripped out to see her home pulling further and further away in the van window for the last time.  I was the girl who felt a little guilty for being excited for new adventures, like I was letting my home down for being both excited and terribly sad.

As an adult I take pictures of hotel rooms we visit that we'll never see again, just to remember them.

So I began to close myself off so I would never have to endure that kind of pain again.  I am rather social in that I enjoy parties and gatherings; I have friends here that I love and enjoy talking to very much.  I just tend to keep most people at arms length; they might not realize it, but I know the difference.  It just hurts to love and leave.

The other reason happened when I was around ten years of age.

I was a chatterbox.  Still am.  My mother tells me stories of how I followed Dad around and all he had to do to keep me happy was give me a "Yes, Rebecca" or a "That's great, Rebecca" and I went on and on and on for hours.  I still do it to my mother, I am so thankful that she puts up with me.

Anyway, one day I was at our Branch President's house (church leader) and went with his family somewhere. I don't remember where, just that it was unusual because I never went anywhere with anyone.  I was homeschooled, and there in the hills of West Virginia there weren't many girls my age--period.

That day they had a neighbor or a cousin, someone I didn't know, who was going with us.  I was my usual, chatterbox self.  Probably even more so because I was so excited to talk to a girl close to me in age who wasn't a sister.

After listening to me for a while, she asked me "Why do you talk so much?"

 I stopped in such complete shock, the same as if a bucket of ice water had been thrown over me. I was completely devastated.  Sickened.  Filled with a sinking, bottomless dread.

A lumped jumped up in my throat; tears stung my eyes and threatened to pour out.  It hurt to swallow. I swore to myself that I would not cry, in fact, I would never talk again.

I was quiet for the rest of the trip there.

On the way back, she told me that I could talk if I wanted to, but I shook my head.  All desire to be social was gone.  It was as if it never existed in the first place.

She didn't mean to hurt my feelings.  I have always felt things overly much.  Ultra sensitive doesn't even begin to describe how I felt when I was young.  I still am a teensy bit, deep down.  Heck, I even felt sad for the '80s  being over when I went to bed on New Year's Eve on December 31st, 1989.  I knew they'd never be there again, so I whispered goodbye to them so they would know that at least one person in the world recognized their passing.  I was eleven at the time.

 I have toughened up a lot over the years, but I swear that when I'm talking to people and they show the slightest bit of disinterest the essence of that feeling floats from my stomach up to my brain.  Why do you talk so much?  It's more of a wordless warning signal that I hope I have gotten soon enough.  I don't want to be that girl ever again, so desperate for attention that I ignore all subtle hints and bowl the other person over with me.

There.  That was cathartic.  Thanks, guys.

Whew and ouch.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Way Out

Depression is a stern taskmistress.

She stands over her peon, whip held high.

One lash falls:

You will never be good enough.

Another lash:

There is no way out.

A third lash:

No room for hope.

Yet another lash:

Things will never change.

Again and again the strap falls, worn and bloodstained while echoes reverberate in an empty skull, over and over and over and over.

Eyes to the dust, eyes forever to the burning dust.  Is it not pointless to raise one's weary head?

No.  For when the Sun appears and says "Enough", the Shadow is burned away in sweet Light. 

Dust thins and becomes shimmering beauty.

A worn, strong hand appears.

Firm.  Reaching.  Kind.

Unsteadiness grasps Strength, embracing--

It is hope. It is enough.

This is peace.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Writing. Why I Do It, and a Plea!

First of all, yes, I did change my blog name back. It's whimsical, and I'm feeling all whimsicalish these days, and yes, I reserve the right to make up words whenever I please.  I especially like to end words in "ish". 

Can you tell I'm feeling a tad rebellious?

I've been thinking a lot about writing these days, for two reasons:

1. I'm trying to get to the LDS Storymakers conference this year.

2. This post by my friend, L.T. Elliot.

I've always thought of myself as a wannabe writer, not someone who had a burning desire to write since she first picked up a pen. What I have been though, is a voracious reader since I was three years old.  If it had words, I read it.  Everything from the ingredients on my cereal box (when I was a kid I could never understand the admonition to read ingredient labels; you mean there are people who don't?) to shampoo and conditioner bottles when I was on the--I mean in the bathroom, indisposed.

Thinking back, however, there were signs.  I believe I was three or four when I made my first book.  The covers were uneven squares cut from a disposable diaper box, held together with tape.  The pages inside held the story of me and Mommy going to the store, complete with one-dimensional stick figures and aisles with short captions.  I wish I still had it; it was priceless.  To me.  I doubt anyone on Ebay would care--except when I make it  huge with my first novel.  Heh heh.

The second and last book I wrote was a few years later.  I don't remember the exact title, I think it was "Princess and Jasmine", maybe my mother will remember.  This book was made from various colors of construction paper.  The story consisted of a girl (based on me, imagine that) and her horse.  Typical fodder for a seven or eight-year-old girl.

Then when I was about ten or twelve I occasionally wrote poetry.  Fun stuff, silly stuff.  When I was a teen and remembered to sit down and write, I wrote more poetry.  I kept a journal intermittently.  I stopped for a long while when I left it in the living room when I was fifteen.  I wrote pretty often up until that point, but when my dad found it laying about and read something I had written about him (I plead teen angst and freedom of speech!) and wasn't pleased, I quit.  Thankfully that wasn't the end-all to my writing.

I don't know why there were long periods when I didn't write.  I always thought a real writer was one who felt the urge to write all the time.  I didn't, but when I chose to do it I would get completely enthralled and remember how much I enjoyed it. I was so glad when I realized I could blog and type stories on my computer.  My fingers don't get as sore as they did when I used a pencil.

Apparently, my fingers hate exercise.  Doesn't bode well for the rest of me, does it?

Then, a couple of years ago, I began telling my children stories.  They loved them so much I decided to write them down.  That has become a mire of a tale in which I have about six chapters complete.  Six whole chapters--that sorely need a rewrite to add some depth and substance.  I also have the beginnings of a fictional work aimed at moms with young children, a mystery, and a fairytale reinvention of which I've written nearly twelve thousand words that I have decided will now go somewhere in the middle of the story.  No, it's not from a dream in which Cinderella stumbles upon Prince Charming sparkling in a meadow or anything. (Sorry my dreams aren't as magical as Ms. Meyer's; mine are along the lines of metallic blue and green insects chasing me, running from tornadoes, and deer that turn to little girls hiding in washing machines scattered on the lawn while bears that turn into Russians are hunting them.  Obviously, I have issues.) 

I just love the feeling when I connect my fingers to my brain and let them go.  I set them free, and when I'm done (or someone needs to eat, needs a diaper change, or it's 2:00 am) like a boomerang, they come back to me.   I feel so free when I'm writing; it's like I'm flying through the air over dips and swells, never knowing for sure what is going to happen until I land.  It's the take-off that's difficult for me, the sitting down and just doing it.

Writing in the old blog helps me exercise my brain-finger connectivity for these writing adventures.  I just have run out of things to write about except when my children do something funny.  So I'm taking a note from L.T. and asking anyone who may read this to help me out.  Give me something you'd like to see me write about.    Ask me a question, beg for a certain tale--help a girl out, please! 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I know people read me that don't let on and hey--I don't mind being someone's guilty pleasure. I know how it goes.  I've done it myself. Oh, I know some of you think you're sneaky--but here's the thing.  I have a blog tracker.  I do know who some of you are, even if you live in a different country. I also know when people from my hometown read my blog, just not exactly who you are if you don't have a blog.  Really, it's not a secret.  It's on the internet, and I put a link up to a post on Facebook. Even you, private follower who knows me in real life and lives an hour or so away from me and doesn't think I know that you read my blog--I know. Even though you have your own blog private so I can't read yours.  It's not like I'm going to think you guys are sneakily reading me (ok, maybe, but I think it's funny and I'm quite flattered.)

So if you know me in real life, stumbled upon me somehow and don't know me from Adam, or are even related to me, (Ah-ha!), you are not exempt from this request.  It's not like it's a well-kept secret anyway.  Use this opportunity to come clean, people. I promise you'll feel better.  After all, it's not like I don't know.

You might even help me write something worth reading.  However, I'm making no promises. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Say What?

Today was one of those crazy days. James came home at lunch to give us the van, and we took him back to work and dropped him off. I hate that he has to do that, because he really doesn't get a break. He has about five minutes at home before we herd the kids out to the van.

After we did our thing and picked him up, we headed off to pick up two pairs of kid-sized rollerblades from someone on Freecycle. (WOOT!)

While en route, Professor was trying to explain the intricacies of division to Lion. (Math frustrates Lion easily, and Professor loves to teach.) Not to be left out of the subject, Princess piped up, "I'm allergic to the number two!"

I love that little girl.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Swear! (No, I Don't.)

  I found a great deal on this fabulous cheesecake book a friend recommended, (ok, I begged her to tell me the name of it) so I decided to take the plunge into making a simple one for Valentine's Day.  This afternoon, after the book failed to arrive yet again the kids and I were discussing cheesecake.  Mainly because Professor wondered why I was excited about a cheesecake book.  (Um...it's for New York style cheesecakes.  Need I say more?)

  Afterward I was sitting at my computer, feeding six-month-old Bean when Lion (who is now eight as of last month) got into one of his silly moods.  One of his moods where he giggles incessantly and everything is hilarious, no matter how awful or disgusting it is. (This is the child who made up "Disgusting World", a nausea-inducing place where people are made of excrement and so on. Although I think Professor added that nice detail.  Both my older sons enjoy that sort of fantasy world-building.)

  Lion was sitting behind me in the computer chair, while he said "It's a cheesecake for a birthday, but instead of 'Happy Birthday' it says 'Shut Up'."  Of course I whined the obligatory "Liiiooon" while he giggled away.  ('Shut up' is on the List of Bad Words at our house.)

  I turned back to my laptop.

  Behind me I heard him going onward with his goofiness, which he will as long as he has an audience.  This time?  Nine-year-old Professor and four-year-old Princess were all the audience he needed. Lion began thinking up various other things to write on birthday cakes instead of "Happy Birthday".  His list was comprised of words and phrases from our Bad Word List.

"Number one: Shut Up. Number two: (Something I was sure I misheard, because it sounded briefly like a very bad word and I knew he didn't know any like that.)  Number three: What the Heck! Number four: Stupid."

  After random, assorted giggles Lion began the list again. When he got to number two, the doubt was flying rapidly away. I distinctly thought I heard him say "sh**".  (Or as James calls it, "the brown word".

  Certainly, I heard incorrectly.  No way could that word be coming from my sweet, eight-year-old's mouth.   In disbelief I asked, "What did you say?!?!"

  "Sh**.  Sh**.  Sh**." The 't' was enunciated quite well.  I had forgotten that one of his favorite movies is "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure", and he had learned to read in the last few years.  (The word is said in French, but printed in English on the screen.)

  Next I did the thing that a mother never, ever should do while she's telling her child to stop saying a very bad word.  Coming from a kid who never hears really bad words around the house (Ok, not worse than a da** or he** once or twice in his lifetime) it was hilarious. I laughed.  And laughed.  So what did he do?  What do you think?  He kept saying it.  He thought of all different ways to say it, and only stopped when I finally got control of myself.  Really, how can you take your mother seriously when she's laughing so hard she can barely hold onto your baby brother?  "Lion--hahahahahah, we don't ever, EVER--hahahahahahah--say words like that--hahahahahahaha--I MEAN IT!"

He finally stopped.  He then went down the hall and whispered something into Professor's ear, giggling afterwards.  I knew that giggle.

"He said another bad word, didn't he?" I asked Professor.

"Yes."

"What was it?"

"The bad word that is in Huckleberry Finn."  James had explained the not-nice term for African Americans to Professor when he asked to read the book.

"How on earth did he learn that word?"

"I told him the word so that he'd know it was bad if he ever came across it."

Great. 

I thought back to the other day, when for Language Arts Lion was supposed to write three-letter words that had an 'o' in the middle.  That mischievous giggle was going full-speed when he brought me his workbook with the phrase, "OMG" all spelled out neatly.  I told him that wasn't ok.  He responded with his usual threat: "FINE!  THEN I'LL ERASE IT!"

"Good." I told him.

He repented quickly and got rid of the offending phrase.  I had hoped that was just an isolated incident.  Apparently it wasn't.

*Sigh*.  I hope he gets it all out of his system now.  At least right now it's limited to home.  After all the teaching, training and limiting my kids' exposure to things like swearing I would like it to pay off a little. I'm not looking forward to explaining to his friend's parents in a few years why my son swears like a sailor.

(ETA:  I am again open for business.  Comment business.  So if you've been reading, feel free to say "What's up!"  Or not.  No comment pressure around here!)

(Edited again to say that Lion has promised he won't say swear words "Ever again". I'll show him this part of the post if he relapses. He's a good kid; but he'll do nearly anything for a laugh. Wonder where it comes from...I'm pretty sure it's his father's side. Haha.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Trip to the Library

While the boys were at martial arts and Princess at her aunt's, Bean and I picked up James from work, then went to the downtown library.

The enormous stone building looked ominous and unwelcoming in the waning, wintery sunlight. We walked into the basement children's department to pick up some books for our homeschool studies. Children were running around, arms full of books and videos.

"Do you know offhand who the author of 'The Boxcar Children' is?" I asked the librarian.

She replied, "Wa"-something which my brain decided was too hard to handle with her British accent.  I stood there looking like an idiot, so she got up and helped me find it. When we got to the letter 'w' it hit me. Warner. Then she assisted me in finding volumes on germs.  Her accent and the wooden bookshelves on the walls made me feel like Harry Potter might be hiding around the corner.  We were nearly ready to leave when I found "The Tapestry" on display.  It begged to be taken home, so I checked it out too.  I can't easily deny a pleading book, especially a children's one.

I suggested going upstairs to the adult section and James readily agreed.  The marble stairs disappeared under our feet as the slightly musty smell of old architecture and worn books met our noses.

Large wooden columns extended far above us.  The hush of voices, whispering, seemed to welcome me home.

I left Bean in his carrier with James, who was checking out the antique books for sale, to go on my own quest. The stacks welcomed me like childhood friends playing hide-and-seek.  Anticipation grew as I turned corners, searching for new treasures. Couldn't find a specific author--certainly they had at least one volume?  Olly olly oxen free!

James joined me and a hobbit directed us to the right section.  We made our way down the row, passing a table with two high-school girls illuminated in shades of pink and red paper.  Hearts grew out of scissors, chatters and laughs.  I squeezed by, half expecting the Queen of Hearts to appear and shush them.

Turning to the right, the hiding author appeared.  I beckoned to him, and spied others needing a vacation from their relative solitude.  Pages leapt at me--scented sharply with fresh ink, or with the slight mustiness that comes with the wisdom of old age.  Mysterious.  Beckoning. Each page longed for human touch, for my touch.  Words had been dripped onto the pages, mixed with sweat, blood, tears.  Then frozen-- suspended in time and space, waiting for my eyes to thaw and set them free.

The pile in my arms grew to barely managable proportions; I painfully decided it was enough.

I turned to my husband and we agreed it was time.  I hurried down the aisles, staring straight ahead, ignoring the cries and calls of the volumes on either side.  Pulling away from those attempting to keep me from fleeing, I burst from the aisle, relieved.

At the desk, vacation passports were scanned, return tickets issued. "Beep.  Beep.  Beep."

We went out into the frosty air.  The sun was nearly down, but I could feel the warmth coming from the tales in my arms.  We hurried to the van to escape the chill.

I released the stack of books at my feet, buckled my seatbelt, and leaned back, smiling.  Satisfied. Content.