Saturday, April 30, 2011

Teenage daughters.

It's Saturday morning. My daughter is earning money cleaning the house, and I'm doing some other stuff. TV is tuned to music videos, and one of my new favorites just came on: Martina McBride's "Teenage Daughters":

I ain’t complainin’
But I’m tired, so I’m just sayin’
What I think
And if we’re being honest
Than honestly I think I need a drink

[It's a little early at the moment, but sure! Sign me up!]

My baby’s growin’ up
She think’s she’s fallin’ all in love
And that I hate her
At seventeen, she’s just like me when I was seventeen
So I don’t blame her

[I'm blessed that this isn't completely accurate. She's only 15, and I'm pretty sure she knows I don't hate her. BUT, I do remember 17, and it's not hard to project a little.]

Remember when we used to be
Everything they'd ever need
We had them believing we were cool
It’s like it happened overnight
We’re always wrong, they're always right
We used to be the ones breakin’ the rules
Now we’re just mothers, we’re just fathers of
Teenage daughters

[The chorus -- I don't want to not be cool! We bought a pair of shoes yesterday that we can both wear -- that counts for something, right? I'm sure I'm wrong a lot more than I used to be, but she's still nice enough not to tell me every time. Yet.]

She rolls her eyes when I’m funny
But she’s sweet when she wants money and her freedom
Oh my god, she’s got a car
Swears they won't go far
And I wish I believed ‘em
They're beautiful, wild and free
Everything we wish we could be
But they're still crazy
Oh you know, they make us crazy

[It is sad when parents aren't nearly as funny as we used to be. :-) Or even better, when we surprise them by still being funny.]

This is all a little tongue-in-cheek. I'm not naive enough to think that there will never be struggles or arguments, that I'll always like her friends, or agree with her choices. And I'm not forgetful enough to say it hasn't happened before. But the blessings she brings to my life far outweigh the rest. I can only pray that she stays grounded in her faith and that when I irritate her, she knows it's part of my job.

And when those moments come along, I'll remind myself that I'm not alone as the mother of a teenage daughter.

[Here's Martina if you haven't heard the song:]

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dinner party stuff.

That's a misleading title...It should be "A short list of stuff I've learned about having a group of people over to your house for something" but that didn't fit in the space I had.

10. Always have extra toilet paper in every bathroom of the house. Doesn't matter if the party is one hour or all day -- you're gonna need it.

9. There is no such thing as "too many potatoes" -- especially if they're mashed. It doesn't seem to matter if it's 5 pounds or 10 pounds...they're ALWAYS gone.

8. Having teenaged girls around for cleanup is an excellent idea. If you can pay them in dinner rolls and dessert, that's an extra score!

7. Speaking of dinner rolls, they will not rise on command. Apparently yeast has rules, and begging has no effect.

6. Ice. Remember the ice. Preferably BEFORE you're out. Just a suggestion.

5. Watching people who don't know each other get to know each other is one of the best parts of having people over. That moment when the realize their lives/experiences intersect is just cool.

4. No matter how you plan, something will get missed -- overcooked/undercooked, not ready on time, not enough forks. And if you plan it right, no one you've invited will care in the least.

3. Obsessing about the condition of the house stops a lot of people from having gatherings. Stop it. No one is going to eat off the floor. I have three dogs and I guarantee there was dog hair somewhere in the house. My kitchen was clean, though, and I am sure I didn't poison anyone. But every room and baseboard wasn't perfect and no one has ever left in a huff.

2. Let other people do stuff for these dinners. I suck at this part. Have others bring stuff, sure. Do stuff once they're here, not so much. This is a talent. I should have handed someone a camera yesterday, since I couldn't manage to take a single Easter dinner picture.

1. Never underestimate or underappreciate your partner in these endeavors. Whether cooking, or serving, or cleaning, or just putting up with you while you do it, there's probably someone who deserves a really big thanks and a hug.

For those who read the previous post on the planning, this is the postscript -- we had a lovely Sunday lunch and the planning worked for the most part. [See #4.] And I didn't take a single picture.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Unexpected hug.

I went upstairs to get some Easter stuff out of a closet early this morning, before coffee. Sitting on one of the boxes was this little book I recognized but hadn't seen in a while. I grabbed it along with the Easter stuff and went on my way. [Do you remember when EVERYTHING had this angel on it?]

When I took time to flip through the book, I remembered that I used it to take notes during sermons at our "new" church, starting back in 1999.  Notes from 2000 -- quite a few weeks represented there. Continues on through 2001 -- here's a note from September 9, 2001:  Psalm 118:7-9 -- have confidence that God is in charge. That was a truth to remember a couple of days later. A few other headlines caught my eye ("Regaining Credibility," "How to Provoke Your Children" -- good times!) and I found a sweet card from a friend.

Notes stopped after May 26, 2002. A bunch of blank pages made up almost half the notebook. That was a pretty tough year, so maybe that's why. Or maybe I changed purses or something silly like that.

I almost missed it. I started flipping from the back. Blank pages, blank pages...wait. What was that? I flipped back and found this:
"Hi Sweet Girl
Hope you are having a happy day.
You make me happy!
I love you,

I have no idea if I knew at the time she'd done this, but I really don't think so. Sneaky Mom swiped my notebook and left me a love note. Ten years later, I'm getting a virtual hug from her. And she's coming to see me in four days. Then I get a real one.

 My daddy used to write me notes, and I still have them -- and he's been gone 11 years. I do this for my girl and hubby, too. If you don't do it, you should try it. You just never know what will happen. It was a wonderful way to start my day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I love this part.

I'm planning. I'm planning a meal. I'm planning a special meal for special people. I love this.
It's not like I only plan special meals once a year. But when it's time to do it, I just get this warm fuzzy feeling of joy. A few weeks ago I got to do it for a group of girls staying the weekend, and it was just as much fun. This will be for Easter and my mom will be here.

Brisket? Chicken? Both? What kind of bread? Oh, and sides! Don't think about dessert yet. I'll browse known and unknown recipes, thinking about what works together and what sounds fun to make.

I never used to do this. I remember the first Thanksgiving I hosted at our house. I was a wreck. I made Mom come in two days early to help me figure out what I was doing. I had the wrong kind of cornbread for the dressing, and I don't know how anything was actually finished in time to eat it. I think that was about 7 years ago. I've gotten a little better since then, I hope.

The cooking is fun. I like that part. But the planning? THAT part I love -- I'll make lists of what and when and what gets done first and I'll gradually filter that down from the 6 days (there are 6 days!) to three days, to the day of... complete with what time each thing goes in the oven and what bowl it will be in on the table. Why yes, I'm slightly OCD, why do you ask?

I have no idea if anyone else does this. I have no idea if anyone else would think this is weird or wonder how I can consider this fun. I think it satisfies two parts of my brain -- the planner/organizer part, and the nurturer who wants to take care of people. And I love it when a plan comes together. I'll let you know when this one does.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Of inspiration and artists.

We went to the arts festival yesterday. We try to go most years and have been often enough that we recognize some of the artists by face, not just by work. And the art is amazing. To see what some 200 artists create -- every single one of them different in some way -- is mind-boggling. Sure, there are a bunch of photographers...but not a single "duplication" out there. Sculptors in clay, metal, wood -- several may make vases or bowls, but none exactly alike. Then there's the guy that uses spark plugs ( -- I think he might have a corner on that particular market.

Where do they find inspiration? I don't mean once -- sure, see a beautiful sunset, and even I can be inspired to take a photo. I mean the inspiration to work 150 hours on one woven table base, to know that the colors and pattern is just what it needs to be ( Reading the artists' descriptions of their work and how they see a piece in nature or in the materials they use -- for someone who thinks like I do, it is so hard to grasp.

I liked paint-by-numbers kits as a kid. I like patterns. I like directions and samples and recipes and having a plan when I start. I make greeting cards, and people tell me how pretty they are. I feel like a fraud -- most of the time I use creative friends' ideas to put them together! I can sit down and dream one up, but it will take me forever, and there's almost always something about the end result that I want to redo. Is that common?

There was one booth at the festival ( that fascinated me so much I think I'd still be there looking if I could. The artist created mixed media collages as the cover of journals, scrapbooks, photo albums -- there was an entire story in the collage. Using discarded stuff (silverware, jewelry, etc) she tells a story before you ever open a book - a book that's going to be some story of your own. Not only were they beautiful, they were inspiring in themselves -- I would want to pick up the book to add to it, just because of the cover.

I want to keep thinking about this inspiration thing. I'm not an artist like I met and talked to yesterday. I'm not suddenly going to have a stash of found objects to turn into something else. I'm not going to suddenly understand aperture on a camera or bokeh in a picture...but today I'm going to clean my house. And I'm going to get frames for the prints I bought from some amazing artists. And I'll find the right place to hang them. And maybe in the next few days I'll inspire myself or someone else to do something new.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


This is potential. Someday this will be a salad. Right now, it is a little bundle of green among several bundles. I grin every time I go outside and see how much it's grown since the day before.
These guys have potential, too. Basil, dill, thyme...there's some cilantro and parsley in the barrel, too. They survived the wind of the last week and eventually will wind up in a sauce or a salsa or something yummy, as long as I don't forget to water them in the Texas summer.

But I think THIS has actually reached its potential, and then some. I didn't believe the experts when they said mint is a weed with better PR. I'm not sure there are enough days or enough rum to make enough mojitos to use all this in my lifetime! Drop by if you need to pick up a cutting -- I don't think I'll miss it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beginning is hard.

A year and a half ago I finally joined the Facebook nation. Now it looks like I'm jumping on the blog wagon.

I like the idea of blogging. I've always liked the idea of journaling, and have had sporadic success when I make up my mind to journal as a way to keep my sanity. But if I edit myself on the off chance that someday I meet a terrible fate and Gibbs and Dinozzo have to go through all my stuff, do I REALLY want anyone to read what I think? So do I ever really write the truth in something private that stays in a drawer in my room? And if not, what on earth makes me think I'll be honest blogging?

Or maybe it's not that kind of blog. I don't have to use this venue to throw my opinions on everything to an unsuspecting world. Lord knows there's enough of that going on. And while I know a little about a lot of things, I'm not an expert on any one thing that would fill that gaping hole in the web -- and if anyone knows what topic isn't already covered somewhere, let me know. I swear I can't find it.

So maybe just breathing and reading and thinking a little is enough. Maybe I can use this space for myself first -- maybe fun, maybe thoughtful, maybe interesting, Maybe recipes, maybe books, maybe movies...who knows. Maybe others will read, maybe they won't. But life is full of memories and experiences - good and bad - and I'm getting old enough I can't remember them all. If blogging can be fun, maybe I can be more consistent. Time will tell. I gotta start somewhere. I pick here.