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Thanksgiving Gratitude

I first shared this post November, 2007. I don't think I could write anything else that better reflected how I feel this Thanksgiving or every day of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my US friends, and to everyone, I wish you a year filled with abundant blessings and gratitude!

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some." ~Charles Dickens~

          In a couple of days it will be Thanksgiving, and I must admit, I know exactly how the Pilgrims felt. They invited their new Native American friends over for dinner, and they were astonished when they stayed for three days! Talk about a challenge! Those early American hostesses needed to figure out how to turn leftovers into savory meals that would nourish and sate a houseful of noisy guests for what was perhaps the first 3 day weekend! As I prepare for my out-of-town children to descend, I check and recheck the pantry and fridge to make sure I have enough on hand to keep their tummies full and their taste buds delighted. Unlike the Pilgrims, I have the luxury of planning our meals and sleeping arrangements, but I can visualize our creative foremothers, scratching their heads under their starched bonnets, and coming up with yet another way of serving the Thanksgiving bird! (Which, I’ve been told,  was pheasant, not turkey!)

            When thinking about this year’s Thanksgiving story, many delightful tales come to mind. There was the year my brother and his wife bought a turkey that was so huge it wouldn’t fit in a roaster, and they placed it directly on the lowest rack of the oven. (Instead of cleaning the oven afterward, they threw it out! They really did need a new oven, this just hastened the process!) Or the year my daughter brought home 2 college dinner guests. One was from India and one from Korea. Neither had celebrated an American Thanksgiving, and after loosening their belts and reaching comatose levels of gluttony, they whole-heartedly concurred that America was truly a wondrous place! Or the Thanksgiving when I threw up every 10 minutes (a terrible case of morning sickness) and was fearful that the smell of roasting turkey would forever be nauseating to me! (Fortunately, I got over that!)

            Finally, I decided to share a story that has nothing to do directly with Thanksgiving, but it is in fact, all about giving thanks. My mother grew up on a farm in a tiny town in Texas. My maternal grandmother, Bushia, had 13 children. Before she passed away she had buried four of her own children; her first born died of heart problems when she was just three days old, a ten month old son died of pneumonia just as he was learning to take his first steps, a son was killed in the Korean War, and her oldest son died of a heart aneurysm. I can’t even begin to imagine taking care of so many people while spending a total of TEN YEARS PREGNANT! But most significantly, I can’t imagine living in a time and place where common childhood illnesses were life threatening. (My fraternal great-grandparents lost all five of their children in one episode of influenza before leaving Poland and starting all over in America!)

            But on to my story! One day my cousin and I were visiting Bushia. We were sitting around the kitchen table comparing notes, and I suppose, complaining…a lot. (In our defense, I wish to point out, at the time neither of us were married, and we were bemoaning our boyfriends, not husbands and children, so I gotta think Bushia’s reaction was probably fueled by listening to her own daughters complain, and we were simply the recipients of the proverbial “final straw” syndrome!) She was busy fussing in the kitchen, coming in and out of the room, and not directly involved in our conversation. We were shocked and aghast when on one of her “pass-throughs” she stopped, slammed her hand on the table, and said, “You women have it so easy today. When I was a young woman I didn’t have dishwashers or washing machines. I couldn’t go to the grocery store to buy dinner, and there wasn’t a television to watch if I got bored. I didn’t worry about how much attention my husband was showing me, I was too busy! So was he. A good day was a day that everyone got fed and no one died. Stop whining and start being grateful for what you have.”

            With those words she went about her business…even in old age she was always busy making her house a home and providing for the comfort of others. And she was happy…or maybe a better word was content. My cousin and I continued to sit around the table talking, rather shame-faced, both making a silent pact to NEVER vent around Bushia again! But in my heart, I knew she was right. Not that our lives today are perfect and without worries. We have concerns today that my grandmother never had to contend with, but the most valuable lesson I learned that day was that happiness is not something given to you by other people or things; it’s something within you that permeates everything you do. Every day you can choose to focus on the things you don’t have or be grateful for the things that you do.

            So this Thanksgiving, and every night before going to sleep, I take a moment to ponder my day. In the simplest of terms, if I can say “Everyone was fed today and no one died” it WAS a good day, worthy of praise, and a reason for Thanksgiving!  

Ode to My Second Child

In parenting, sometimes irrational fears can get the best of us. Here's a story about one of my fears, and the 7 pounder that taught me a lesson worth learning!

I can only image what it must feel like to stand on the moon and look down (up, over?) at the Earth. You’ve always know the Earth existed, you’ve walked upon it every day of your life, but seeing it from this fresh perspective must give you a new and glorious understanding of the scope, complexities and beauty of the planet that we call home. I felt much the same way when I laid eyes upon my first born. Before holding my babe, I thought I knew what love was. I had loved many, been loved by many, and thought I understood the intricacies of love. But much like the Grinch that infamous Christmas morning, when I held her in my arms, my heart increased in size. Seriously, I believe that, because there is no way possible its previous size could accommodate the sheer girth and weight of the love that now consumed me.

Fast forward one year. For the past 365 days my love affair with my daughter evolved, changing from “love at first site” to a complex relationship that enlightened and challenged my sensibilities, intellect, and yes, at times my patience. This love somehow filled a void in me that I never even known existed. She completed me. This love, above all others, was a love worth dying for. Yes, I would literally throw my body on the live grenade to protect her. Love for my child, and her wellbeing, became my new working definition of love. I had now, figuratively, stood on the moon, and got a complete panoramic view of love.   

And, the story could stop here… the story of a young woman that learns about a “mother’s love” and lives happily ever after, but when Michelle was one year old, I conceived my second child. I was filled with joy. Soon, well in nine months, there would be a new being, precious and diminutive, to love. But something insidious happened during the early days of my pregnancy, as I went through the delightful sensation of morning sickness. Despite my desire to nurture, I often had to keep Michelle at arms’ length as I tried to contain the contents of my stomach. Now, I couldn’t pick her up or frolic until the nausea subsided. A thought entered my head, fleeting at first, but growing in size and stature as irrational thoughts of hormonally charged preggoes are prone to do… this second child, the one growing inside of me right now, was somehow going to come between me and my daughter!

I was filled with fear and shame. What if I didn’t love my second child as much as my first? And how could I? At times, my love for Michelle seemed almost all consuming. Of course, I still loved all those other people; my husband, my family, my friends, but this was a different kind of love; a possessive love, a protective love, a consuming love. I couldn’t possibly love another human being as completely.

I discretely broached the subject with experienced moms with multiple children, only to be waved off with, “I love all my children equally.” LIES, I thought… LIES… like telling someone that needs to have a root canal that it isn’t so bad. Of course it’s bad! But since the procedure is imminent, why add to their fears up front? Or, worse yet, maybe they weren’t lying, and there was something innately wrong with me. How was it possible that all these other women had this seemingly endless supply of love, and I had managed to use up all of mine on my first born?

The morning I went into labor, I remember dropping off my sleeping 21 month old at my mother’s. I rocked her in my arms, with tears running down my face. “Oh, I’m so sorry, sweetheart”, I sobbed, “Our lives will never be the same again. You are going to need to share Mommy’s love with someone else.” Secretly, tenderly, and so softly that the words didn’t even reach my ears, I whispered, “But don’t worry. I will always love you best.”

My labor and delivery was an oxymoron of emotions. On one hand, I wanted to deliver my child… to meet him, to know that he was healthy. On the other hand, I was panicking. I wondered if he would sense, from the very start, that I was a terrible mother, unable to love him as completely as he deserved. Eventually, a final push brought my son into the world, and he was placed on my chest… on my heart. My hands gently, protectively cradled his head and bottom.  He was so tiny, so perfect, so totally and completely mine. As his mouth rooted for a nipple, and he began to suckle, the unbelievable happened… I felt my heart expanding again! In that instant, I KNEW, totally and irrevocably, that I was capable of loving this babe, this second child, every bit as much as I did my first. I did not need to share the love I felt for my daughter with my son, he brought his own supply.

Looking back, I feel rather foolish for all of my fears and concerns. If my first born taught me how to love completely, then, in a blink of an eye, my second born taught me that a mother’s love knows no bounds. NEVER would I need to share my love for my daughter with my son (and eventually my second son). Each child comes equipped with their own supply, and, like all those wise mothers before me, I learned that I did, in fact, love them all equally. Adam, like Michelle, would provide his own joys and challenges, but my love for him, my second born, was as strong and consuming as the first. 

Of course, my daughter did need to learn to share me with her brother, and there were times I needed to split my time between them, but I was right about one thing… our lives were never the same again… they were better :)

(So as not to leave out my third born, Drew, not to worry, he taught me about love, too, especially about gracious love, but I’ll leave THAT for another post :)

At one time or another, all parents experience irrational fears about their ability to parent well. Fortunately, our children are very good teachers, and as long as we are attentive students, they have much to teach us :)

http://www.onegenerationtoanother.com
Copyright © Wee Folk Art 2008 - 2012. All rights reserved.

Please do not reprint any material found on this blog without written permission from Kimara Wise. You can contact her at weefolkart@yahoo.com

 

 

A Day In the Life of the Chronically Disorganized

NOTE: I'm back! To all my friends that use to follow me here, I hope you will find your way back to the fold. I've missed you all :)

 

Me: Tim, have you seen my to-do list?

Tim: What's it look like?

Me: Like a piece of paper with stuff written on it. ((Geeze!))

Tim: Can you be more specific?

Me: No. I can't remember if I wrote it on the back of an envelope or on a blank piece of paper.

Tim: ((Rifling through one of my piles.)) Found it!

Me: ((Inspecting the list)) ((Heavy sigh)) That's an old list.

Tim: Then why don't you throw it out?

Me: Because I haven't done everything on this list. ((Getting a little preturbed))

Tim: Am I done here?

Me: Sure.

At this point I grab a new piece of paper. And I, of course, start a new to-do list.

1. Find all of my other to-do lists and combine them.

This is a typical day in the life of a disorganized person... or at least THIS disorganized person! Don't get me wrong. I get a lot done... perhaps more than your av.er.age bear (Yogi, anyone?) but I admire, nah, I am envious of organized people. I've got to believe they get more done. I tend to do what is historically referred to as "spinning my wheels", although I'm not sure as to the wheels of which they speak. (Note to self: look up the etymology of that phrase.)

Anyway... I soooo want to be organized. Tim, God love this perfect human being, has done lots of project managing. So, as always, I turn to him.

Me: Please help me get organized. I get so overwhelmed some days I wind up curled in the fetal position, sucking my thumb, and do nothing.

Tim: Okay, what I want you to do is to sit down and make a list of ten things you need to accomplish. BTW... I've never seen you suck your thumb.

Me: Figure of speech. Anyway, I have way more than 10 things I need to do.

Tim: ((Dropping a stack of 3 x 5 cards on the table.)) Doesn't matter. Just list the first 10 things you think about. Chances are they will be the most important and the ones you should tackle first.

Me: Hey, do you want to take a drive with me to Staples?

Tim: What do you need to go to Staples for?

Me: Well, if I'm going to have stacks of 3 x 5 cards, I need somewhere to put them. As a matter of fact, I should go to Michaels. It would be so cute to get a wooden box to keep them in. It would be adorable if I painted the box to look like a steamtrunk. I think saw something like that on the net. ((Turning to me computer.))

Tim: Am I done here?

Me: ((Lost in Pinterest)) Huh?

So, be honest... are you the super organized type that would make my mouth drool or do you tend to leave post-it notes everywhere, then use them to blow your nose if you run out of kleenex?

 

 

Stumbled Upon

I love it when you stumble upon an old recipe that you haven't made in years. It may not have been a favorite recipe, but one that was tried and true... required little effort... and seldom let you down. Let’s face it, it wasn’t a beloved recipe, if it was, you wouldn’t have stop making it. But for one reason or another, you drifted. It probably happened slowly, over time. Another similar recipe stepped in and competed for your attention, and little by little, it was replaced. In the end, you didn’t even realize you stopped making it. Then, one day, years later, you think about it. Hmmm… you ponder… I wonder if it was as good as I remember. So, you take the time, seek out the recipe, and smile as you are flooded with memories.

“Oh, yeah. I got this recipe from… oh, what was her name? She had that weird husband that use to make that strange clucking sound when we played cards. God, and that dog of hers! It smelled like, well dog, to the nth degree! It’s going to drive me crazy ‘til I remember her name!”
OR
“I remember I made these for Missy’s Girl Scout Troop and they gobbled them up.”
OR
“The kids were so young when I made these. Drew couldn’t have been more than 7. I wonder if they’ll even remember them.”

So, you dust off the recipe card and add it to your on-line recipes. (The last time you made them you didn’t have internet… does THAT say something?) And you make this lost, but found again, recipe. Time will tell whether or not it becomes a favorite that you make on a regular basis, or if you make it this one more time, remember why you fell away in the first place, AND remove it from your on-line recipe box. But love it or leave it, there is something satisfying about becoming reacquainted with a long lost recipe. It’s nostalgic, for sure, and in some cases, it’s a new beginning of a beautiful relationship!

Here’s the recipe that I stumbled upon. I remember now why I stopped making it. It can be rather temperamental. But I found I am more tolerant of recipes than I use to be. Occasionally, the granola bars don’t stick together well. But I’m okay with that. When it happens, I just crumble up the whole batch, and serve it as granola. It is totally yummy sprinkled on yogurt. So, let me introduce you to an old friend, one, by the way, that I plan to keep making.

OATMEAL BARS – AKA Granola Bars
Ingredients:

2 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (can use margarine, but I am not a fan)
1/2 cup whole almonds or other nuts (optional buy yummy)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:
Boil sugar, soda, and butter. Take off heat and stir in oatmeal. Spread in a well greased 8 inch pan. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes. Cut immediately but allow to cool in the pan.

Old friends, old recipes, there is something very satisfying with becoming reacquainted with both! Think about it. Is there an old recipe that you haven’t made in years? Maybe it’s time to give it a try… again!
 

Soulful Dichotomy

Tim and I have this nature dichotomy thing going. On one hand we love animals and encourage their residence in our yard. We pay more money monthly for our bird seed and peanuts than we do our cable, and if we had to give up one, the t.v. would go. We established a National Wildlife Federation's Certified Wildlife Habitat in our yard, and have the sign to prove it! And we spend time every morning having coffee with the birds and squirrels.

On the other hand, we are gardeners. And by virtue, we are often at odds with the animals we invite into our yard. Bottom line, wildlife ARE NOT courteous guests. They have little respect for our property, never offer to help, and I've yet to get a thank-you note from a single one. We read about natural ways to keep the animals out of the areas we don't want them, but obviously they don't read the same books because it seldom works. And they never seem content with the virtual cornucopia of gastronomic delicacies we put out for them. Instead, after filling their bellies with seeds and nuts, they move on to tender foliage and juicy roots.

We've managed to curtail the abuses of rabbits and deer enough to get meager crops from our yard, but what we've never been able to get a handle on, is the destruction from chipmunks. Such cute little guys, gluttonously filling their cheeks with seeds, planting them deep in the ground, only to forget where they stuck them later. But we're okay with that. The problem is they like to tunnel under our perennial beds and eat the roots. Their destruction is camouflaged and deadly. This is how it works. You have a lovely plant in your yard, let's say a coral bell. It looks beautiful and healthy. No nibble marks on it. Then one day, when you are watering, you notice the bottom leaves look a little wilty. When you reach down to examine the plant, the whole bloody thing falls over. There isn't a root left to anchor it to the ground or to nourish the plant. And in the corner, just out of reach, a chipmunk is rubbing it's belly, enjoying the afterglow of a gourmet's nosh.

The only way we've found to deal with chipmunks, is to trap them, and take them for a long drive. On a good summer's day, we can relocate 8 of these little rodents. Because I really hate breaking up families, we always drop them off at the same place, hoping they'll be reunited with their loved ones. It's this lovely, quaint little country cemetery, and I don't think the residence mind their roots being munched on.

Given this on going battle, it might come as a bit of a shock, when yesterday morning, Tim looks out of our bedroom window and says, "Oh no. There's a chipmunk in the pool." Looking out the window, I see a chipmunk doggy paddling for all he's worth. This is just a little plastic sided pool we keep on the deck for the kids to splash around in after they get out of the big pool. (This is where they have their evening bathes on many summer's nights.) But once in, the little guy could not get out. I'm not sure how long he was in there, but when Tim scooped him out, and laid him on the deck, it was obvious he was nearing death, and undoubtedly heading toward the light!

He was so pathetic. How long had he been there? What little chipmunk thoughts were going through his head? I wonder if he was thinking about all the things he had yet to accomplish in his life. There were so many coral bells yet to be ate. Had he properly prepared his children for survival? From my bedroom window, I'm telling Tim to lift his head and rub his chest. Doubting his ability to properly resuscitate a drowning rat, I headed outside, wrapped the little guy in a towel, and began stroking his chest. "Don't give up little, guy. You made it this far, don't die on us now." After about 15 minutes of stroking him, I sent Tim in the house to get another dry towel. We were going to make a little bed for him until he got his strength back. When Tim came out, carrying the towel, it felt warm. "I heated it up for him." (I kid you not.) We placed the towel in a basket making a little nest, and set the little guy inside. He briefly lifted his head, I'm going to believe he was thanking us, then settled in.

He was still wrapped in the towel a half an hour later when I needed to leave the house, but his nose was twitching more, and he tried to dig deeper in the towel when he saw me. When I came home 2 hours later, he was gone. I felt elated. I know tomorrow I'll be griping about the chipmunks in the garden. I will gently chide our border collie for not chasing them off, and we'll set a trap in hopes of transporting another chipmunk over the county line. But we'll go nose to nose with a strong and healthy chipmunk. We were not going to take advantage of the little guy's weakened state. I'd like to think he will repay our kindness by sticking to bird seed and leaving our plants alone. But a fish has to swim, a bird has to fly, and a chipmunk has to nibble on roots.