Saturday, February 17, 2018

An All Grown Up Pirate

A few weeks ago, I realized that this picture frame needed a little TLC.  

It has a picture of JT at the age of 4, showing off the pirate costume he received from Santa for Christmas.  That boy loved himself a costume.  At the age of 6, he informed me that he would never be bored as long as he had his imagination.  For years, he put that philosophy to work with the aid of an assortment of costumes.  From Peter Pan to pirates, Indians, cowboys, and for one memorable year, a Scottish kilt, this kid loved indulging in his imagination.  I was that parent who ran her weekend errands with a costumed kid in tow.  It was so frequent that when someone looked askance at me and my rope-toting cowboy at Home Depot, I was perplexed by their curiosity and only later realized that my kid was in a costume.  In May.

These memories flooded back as I cleaned up the frame that holds the pirate picture.  They are also in my mind today, as my little pirate turns 18.  Costumes are long gone, replaced by a succession of athletic uniforms.  Today he wrestled his final match of the season and, in his case, the final match of his wrestling career.

As he set out on the mat and got last-minute advice from his coaches, I watched with a full heart.  In the last few years, as childhood has faded and once chubby cheeks turned into prominent cheekbones, school teams with amazing coaches have allowed JT to challenge himself and figure out who he wants to be.  He’s grown up as these patient coaches guided him forward, put up with his smart mouth, pushed him to exceed his expectations, and taught him that hard work has rewards beyond victory.  

He will head off to college in a few months, ready to wear a new uniform and run for a new team.   He was made ready by the years he played on the teams of our school.  Its fitting that the man who taught him in PE class at age 4 and who was his first cross country coach in 7th grade was also there for his last match in a RPS uniform.  One of the other coaches made a picture of them after today's match and I will cherish this photo.  In it, I see that boy that was, the 18 year old that is, and the man he will become, standing next to one of the finest human beings I know, a coach who guided him along the way.

I miss the little pirate.  But I’m proud and grateful for the 18 year old who replaced him.  Happy Birthday, son!

Friday, February 16, 2018

And Now A Word About the Miracle That Is Eyebrow Gel

To my 7th grade self, my thick lush eyebrows were a trial.  That mine came equipped with the optional unibrow feature was a straight-up curse.  Enter eye-brow waxing, which thinned the furry beasts and kept the unibrow in check.  These days, I’ve long had command of my eyebrows.  Years of waxing killed the unibrow hair follicles for good and the rest of my brows can be kept in check by the occasional waxing.  Mostly I hold the line via good old-fashioned plucking.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed that there is the occasional wily eyebrow hair…extra long and with a life of its own over my eyes, as if I am a bug with feelers.  Plucking it is risky; I don’t wish to end up with sparse brows that require penciling in.  But neither do I like this feeler with a life of its own, wagging over my eyes and otherwise making it appear as if I am a an unkempt crone with caterpillar eyebrows.  

Oh, the first world problems.

Enter eyebrow gel.

This little tube is a miracle-worker.  It’s light but strong and keeps me from looking like an old lady with wagging eyebrows.  For $20, I keep my eyebrows tamed.  

That’s happy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Crafty Valentine

I made some homemade valentines for today, a tiny treat for others that reminded me of how much I enjoy making things. 

Crafts aren’t quite the same as art, but they do make me appreciate the importance of art in my world —— for beauty, of course.  Art also reminds me to look at the familiar in new ways.  Homemade items like these help me show the people I love that I care.

Time to create and daydream makes my life nicer.

That’s happy!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Amaryllis Tuesday: February 13

It would seem that last week’s fretting about my amaryllis yielded results.  On Saturday, I came downstairs to an exciting bit of growth.

Today, I moved the bulb to the lamp to make this picture.  There’s even more flower stem to admire.

I am thrilled to see things take off and I’m looking forward to a flower in March, when I will be more than ready to abandon wool sweaters and warm tights in favor of Spring blooms and open-toed shoes.  And yes, I’m being far more cheerful and optimistic than the current weather warrants.  But that is what the prospect of a flower will do for me.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pretty Package

This morning, I had reason to wrap some pretty packages.

That’s happy!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Real Life Conversations with T: Immunity edition

The backstory: As a schoolteacher for more than 15 years, I’ve been around plenty a contagion.  Between runny noses and coughing fits, schools are cesspools of germs.  Over the years, my body has learned to fight most of them off and so I don’t often get sick, despite the abundant opportunities to do so.  However, a few weeks ago, I picked up a mild cold and T was worried.

T:  If it got you, it must be something horrible.  It’s probably cholera.

The “cholera” turned into a sinus infection but I’m better now.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Daffodil Days

The year JT was first born, weekly trips to the Hy Vee grocery store in Norfolk, Nebraska was our big outing.  We’d stop after seeing the pediatrician, which my newborn needed to do weekly for his first few months, thanks to a rough delivery and some slow weight gain.  Each check-up with the saintly and good-humored Dr. Kelly got us one step closer to 10 pounds, the magical goal for my slender little babine.  And then we’d stop by the Hy Vee, where there were more grocery choices (and better prices!) than the markets in our little town.  And there were inexpensive daffodil bouquets, which I often treated myself too.  This week, my local Wegmans had daffodil bouquets and T treated me to one.  When I see the flowers each morning, memories of those early parenting days in Nebraska come flooding back. 

That's happy!

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Amaryllis Tuesday: February 6

The groundhog declared we get six more weeks of Winter and the amaryllis is apparently prepared to embrace that plan because things are not looking all that different from last week.

I am now in will-it-ever-grow fret mode.  I’ve even compared this bulb to previous years, which revealed that usually at six weeks, growth slowly begins to materialize.  We are at week six, little buddy.  Time to get after it.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Front Porch in February

Winter days on the front porch are more austere than the warmer seasons.   In my mind, Winter calls for greenery and pinecones, so that’s what I use most often.  All year long, I enjoy collecting the items that will make up the month’s decorations.  I aim for inexpensive and charming, so it’s rather like a treasure hunt.

The pinecones in this basket make regular appearances on the porch.  They are a collection of found pinecones supplemented by a bag from Michael’s.  The heart garland was a $3 find at Target, and the cloth in the basket is a a old kitchen cloth that has seen better days but holds up just fine for the front porch.  The tablecloth is like all my front porch tablecloths, from the bargain rack somewhere, in this case Home Goods.  The red pattern can serve for a variety of seasons, so it was worth the $8 price.

On the table, whenever possible, I aim for the rule of three, collecting an odd number of items to make a display.  But some months, simple seems more fitting and so February’s table has just one item.  The basket is weighted down by a brick so it doesn’t blow around in the wind.  The flag is new, a birthday gift that will cheer up the cold Winter days.

The wreath is a craft store find, with a polka dot bow I tied on a few years ago.  It only comes out for February and is still fresh.

The plain Edison lights are back, turned on by timer so that we come home to light on dark Winter evenings.  It’s hard to make a picture of these lights that truly shows their beauty and warmth, so you’ll just have to believe me (or come over….they are very welcoming!).  

Setting out February’s porch decorations reminds me that warmer days are in the offing.  Soon enough I’ll sit out here with a book and some iced tea.  That’s happy!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Family Traditions: Snacks & Sports

The backstory: This year, as JT prepares to head off to college, I’m writing about the traditions that spell love in our home.  I’m thinking of them more mindfully than usual as I prepare to send my bird from his nest.  For me, these traditions  were always about a securing a happy and well-loved childhood in preparation for a happy adulthood.  They are about creating memories that will endure and this year, writing about them is helping me to think about the next chapter in our lives.

Watching sports is a family tradition in itself and for as long as he’s been able to toddle around and help himself to food, we’ve celebrated major sporting events with an assortment of appetizers.  That’s my favorite food to make, because everyone’s favorite can be served.  I have literally dozens of recipes for this kind of food and I’m always on the lookout for additions to my repertoire.  Snacks like this instead of a meal always feels special and over the years it’s become a tradition in our home. For Super Bowl Sunday, we had an assortment of everyone’s favorites.  

There were little smokies in BBQ sauce; homemade boursin and garlic toasts; homemade salsa and chips; brie, olive cream cheese, and crackers; and chicken tortilla soup with avocado.  

It is plenty more than we need, of course, but we’ll enjoy leftovers later this week and JT will remember the tradition for far longer than that.  That’s happy!