Saturday, April 18, 2009

Making Do....

I took piano lessons from elementary through high school – almost exclusively from Mrs. Blackham. She lived about five miles from my home town and just blocks down the street from two of my aunts – one from my mom’s side of the family and one from my dad’s side. Occasionally, I would hang out at an aunt’s house if my mom or brother couldn’t immediately pick me up at the end of my lesson.

Often, when I’m dwelling on my mom-related regrets, I think about one of these evenings.

This particular evening, I walked up to my Aunt CB’s house to wait for mom. I played with my cousin who was just two years younger. I was invited to eat dinner since it would be a while before my mom arrived. They were having spaghetti. There could have been much more to the meal, but all I remember was the spaghetti – a white, heaping mound of it with a generous helping of sauce on top. But, not just any sauce – R*agu.

What was this? Sauce on top? Ladled in massive quantities? It was not my mama’s spaghetti sauce, that was for sure. It was bright red and tangy, and I could control how much was on my pasta. This was a new experience! All my life, the noodles, sauce, meatballs, herbs, and mushrooms had been all mixed together in a big pot before serving, and Italian restaurants were nonexistent in that neck of the woods (still are). I was in love – with R*agu!

So, once mom picked me up, I raved on and on (as I have a tendency to do) about the wonderful sauce and the delicious spaghetti and how it was the best thing I had ever eaten and blah-di-blah-di-blah.

The next time we had spaghetti at home, my mom made a special purchase – a whole bottle of R*agu, and considering the size of our family and the fact that she fed every friend my brothers ever had, it was probably the biggest bottle of R*agu in the entire store – maybe even two of them! I went through the whole meal without saying a word. I didn’t even realize it was my newly beloved sauce; after all, it was prepared and served in exactly the same way that it always was – everything mixed together and served from the big pot.

So after dinner, mom let me in on her secret. I don’t remember what I said or did, but I certainly didn’t turn verbal cartwheels like I did after dinner at my aunt’s house. I think that mom was a bit hurt by the whole thing. She never said anything, of course, but I’ve always wondered.

You know, her spaghetti was never bad – in fact, it was quite good. And, I know now that it was as fresh as possible. I realized a few years later that she made the sauce from tomatoes that she had bottled herself. Sometimes, the meatballs were made from beef that we had raised. (And, when I say “we” I mean “she” because like most parents, she picked up the slack when we failed to finish what we started.) It was good and healthy food. For the record, I would rather eat plain noodles than have them topped with R*agu today.

It took me a long time to sort of understand how difficult it must have been for her to keep five kids fed. Can you imagine the bickering and whining at the table when somebody got more sauce or if – god forbid – all of the sauce was gone by the time the last person was served? I can’t even bear to think about the tantrums and complaining that would ensue. And that would all be just from me! Add four more kids to that cacophony – aye, aye, aye! Sometimes, I look in the fridge and wonder what I’ll feed the boys. The decision is usually based on my level of laziness for that day because, honestly, I’ve been blessed so far to always have food to eat and serve. I know that she was not always this lucky. She put together some creative meals – usually out of necessity, not the desire to be innovative. We never went hungry; she always managed to “make do” with what little she had.

I’ll always remember the R*agu incident. I hope that I also always remember to appreciate what I have and the people that I have to share it with. I know that I'll always appreciate her ability to make do for years and years for all of us.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Parenting skills...

So, last night as I was trying to get the dishes done, the boys were running around the house like wild men. I couldn’t wait to do the dishes because I had to wash their bottles. (Yes, I know. They shouldn’t be using bottles anymore. I know; I know. Talk to Bub... In my defense, they only get them at bedtime.) So, when I finished about half of the dishes, things were relatively quiet except the running sink in the bathroom. I decided that it would be in my best interest to check on them. I found Peanut in the bathroom wiping the foamy hand soap all over his head, arms, and shirt – he really likes the pumping action of any bottle of lotion, soap, shampoo, etc. Then, I found Meatball in the bedroom munching on a cookie - well, actually a dog biscuit which he had to climb onto the table to acquire. I know that I’m not the world’s worst parent, but I wasn’t very impressed with myself last night, for sure.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Things I don't want to forget...

Ah - they are growing so fast, and I can't believe how quickly the words explode onto the scene. In fact, they are both bossing each other around now.
"Hey, Sam - NO!"
"Ben - one, two..."
Did I mention that they are just little parrots?

Anyway, I do try to remember the days when they were just starting to purposfully make noises.

The Meatball was, at one time, obsessed with flowers. He pointed them out no matter where they were (the cemetary, the tv, place mats, pictures on the wall, where ever), but he would say "vwel-oh". Oh, it was so cute. Today, he says "flower" just fine, but all of them are red.

The Peanut was a master of suspense and frequently said "Hah. . . . .. . . . .Dah." We still don't know what it meant or what exactly it was in response to since he said it pretty frequently. He has since transferred this suspense to the act of giving a high five or knuckles. He'll hold his hand back by his shoulder/ear for almost a minute before exhibiting his uber coolness.

A good morning, indeed

The Peanut is not a morning person - he gets that from his mama Bub... But, yesterday, I heard him via the monitor rustling around. Since he wakes up before the friggin' roosters, I started to get up so that I could whisk him away to the other side of the house so that everyone else could continue sleeping. Before I could get to him, though, he quietly walked through our bedroom door. (Yes, he is extrememly adept at climbing EVERYTHING.) I was just getting ready to sit up on the end of the bed when he appeared. With hair askew, his eyes lit up and he raised his arms to "hug" level and silently ran into my now open arms with a beautiful smile on his face. He doesn't talk as much as Meatball (he probably can't get a word in with Chatty Kathy going constantly), but he didn't need to say a word. I could feel little "I love you"s a million times over in that morning hug.

This morning, we were back to normal. He was howling like a trapped wolf first thing. When I went in, I found him sitting on the rail of his crib. Apparently, he forgot that you're supposed to put one foot down before swinging the other foot over the rail. I was just sitting there, quite precariously, awaiting rescue.

Oh, my darling!

So, Meatball has become a parrot. He repeats everything and even copies our physical actions. So, when Bub taught him to put the back of his hand to his forehead and exclaim "Oh! My darling!", I thought that we would wet our drawers. However, when Mr. Drama was tired of shopping and laid down in the aisle of the grocery store doing the same thing, I wondered if my side was actually going to split open and spill my aching innards all over the place.

Rachael Yamagata in concert

So, this was a new experience. A very generous friend bought the tickets for us. We spent the entire day trying to find a sitter. Finally, we caved in and asked grandma and grandpa who, of course, said yes - because they always do because they completely rock. Finally, we made it into SLC and met for a drink just blocks from the concert venue. Then, after walking to the theater (the Avalon in SoSaLa), we waited for over an hour for the doors to open. Bummer since it was cold and the show should have started already. Finally, the doors opened, and we went inside. I've never been to the Avalon, but it was what I expected.

The show was not. I've heard RY's stuff - not a lot, but some. The openeing acts were good. The first was a local guy, the second was from Colorado when really great lyrics, really mellow both.

RY opened her set with her new hit (which is really good), but it's very, very, very slow and mellow. Not what I expected. And the stage was completely covered in silk flowers. It was odd - especially since most of her music is rockin and her lyrics are like Alannis-Morrisette-pissed-off. The flowers were weird. Even our generous friend - who is a big fan - agreed that the flowers were toally out of place.

But, it was a good concert, and big thanks to SB for inviting us.