Monday, February 27, 2017

Crisis Averted

I walk into the kitchen after dropping the girls off at school. Melina stands near the kitchen counter, her eyes brimming with tears as she fights to keep it all together.

"What's the matter?" I ask her. I have to wonder what the heck could have gone wrong in the six minutes I've been gone. Right before I left, she'd been happily reading her book.

"I don't like this part of my shirt." She reaches inside her T-shirt and pulls on the back of the appliqué. "It's scratching me."

"Okay, well, you can leave it like that or you can go change your shirt." I feel like spitting my words. The cat had me up early. I'm too tired to deal with a this issue today.

"But I like this shirt." She blinks away a few tears.

"I know, but I can't do anything about it now. Either wear it or don't. You need to get to school."

I don't roll my eyes, even though I'm tempted, because I don't want Melina to think I don't care about her and her feelings. But sweet bacon crackers! I thought we'd grown out of this stage a long time ago, about the time when the seams of every single pair of socks we owned stopped bothering her.

Melina skips off, runs up the stairs, and grabs a new shirt. She and I both know she's not done.

"I really like this shirt."

In Melinaese, that's "What are you going to do about this and how fast can you do it?"

I stroll over to my trusty computer, look up what I can find on Amazon about fixing this damn T-shirt, and then tell her goodbye as she walks out the door with Tim. Her eyes still glisten with tears, but she'll hold up for most of the day.

But I know my child and her aptitude for tunnel-vision. And when Melina comes back to me at 2:40 p.m., the first thing she will say is, "How can we fix my shirt?"

I'm two steps ahead of her now, though. For I have to go to the store to buy a smoke alarm (because we certainly want to avert that sort of crisis), and I know that in and among the craft items there, I will find something that can help. And sure enough, I do.

Once I'm home, I grab the shirt, a pair of scissors, my iron, and the HeatnBond that I bought.




Five minutes later, and voila! We have a fixed shirt, one that hopefully will not scratch the tender skin of my youngest child.


Just another day of averting a crisis around these parts. There's nothing a mother can't do, I tell you. Nothing.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Amendment

I'm posting this as a reminder to myself and to others what happened yesterday, February 24, 2017. It begins with a review of the First Amendment from the U. S. Constitution.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
(Source: https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment)

Screen shot of the NYT article. Information was corroborated by other trustworthy outlets.

The article, written by Michael M. Grynbaum, was brief. It stated, "Journalists from The New York Times and two other news organizations were prohibited from attending a briefing by President Trump’s press secretary on Friday . . ."

It went on to reveal that "Aides to Mr. Spicer allowed in reporters from only a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed to attend."

And that those organizations "included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended."

Scary news. Very scary news.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Wondering

What would you do for your child? What wouldn't you do? Can you answer that question? Can you find the line--the one you wouldn't cross?

On first glance, I'd say that I'd do anything for my child. Even kill, if I had to, provided I was defending my child and the case warranted those actions. I'd also give my life for any one of those children if I had to: I'd rush into an ocean and save them; I'd push them out of the way of a speeding car; I'd do anything I had to do in order to keep them on this side of the living.

And each day, I perform the smaller (much smaller, thankfully) tasks that indicate how much I love them: I pick up the toys that I certainly didn't leave on the floor; I buy the shampoo they prefer; I help with their homework and make sure they have bacon on their birthdays. I do these things, selflessly, because I love my children. That's all there is to it.

When I was a child, I wondered, often, if there was something my mother wouldn't do for me. Despite any issues I have with her, I do remember her saying that, as a mother, you do what you have to for your child. But as I've grown older, I realize that how you feel when your child is young might be different from how you feel when your child is an adult. The child used to be dependant upon you for so many things, but years later, you've done your job, right? You can back away and assist when necessary, but the dependence no longer exists. So then, I have to ask myself, When the kids are older and have flown the coop, will I feel the same way?


I can't say with confidence that my answer would be yes, but I'd like to think so. But I suspect that with time, comes a complexity for which I will not be ready. The times will change, and it will no longer be a question of buying the proper brand of shampoo or making sure the clothes are clean. Instead, we'll have moved onto bigger and far deeper ways of showing my love: being a good support system, visiting when I'm able, revealing health issues that might directly affect my children.

Yeah, that's right. I'm throwing that last one in there because I'm on the side of full disclosure. I think it is important for my children to know that their maternal grandfather is diabetic and that their paternal great-grandfather had heart issues. That their maternal great-grandmother suffered from dementia, their maternal grandmother has Alzheimer's, and that depression is rooted deeply across our families. 

We talk about all those issues right now, so I'm hoping the lines of communication will stay patent and unmuddled. But I think to myself these days, what if Mom had actually taken herself seriously? What if she'd still subscribed to the belief that you do what you have to for your child? Had she still held that belief even a decade ago, would she have stopped smoking sooner? Would she have visited the doctor for her memory loss earlier? Would she have taken care of years of depression that might very well have impacted her brain? I can't say. I can't even speculate. And sadly, Mom is too far gone to be able to understand what I mean even if I did ask her.

So, I'm left wondering--something I really hope I don't do for those children I purport to love so much.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dinner Tonight

The other night, on a mere whim, I decided to try and make crispy chicken strips for the kids. They love that form of chicken, and even though we'd eaten out a few days before, I thought that a homemade version might still be somewhat okay for the arteries.

So I looked up how to make chicken strips and found this recipe by The Pioneer Woman. Since I made a few changes to what she did, I'll let you know what worked for me.

Ingredients:
8 chicken tenderloins
Buttermilk (or make buttermilk using 1 cup milk and 1 T vinegar)
1-½ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt, a bit of garlic salt, cayenne, Italian seasoning, black pepper
Canola oil

Instructions:
1. Put the chicken strips in a bowl and cover with buttermilk for 15 to 20 minutes (longer is okay).

2. In a separate bowl combine 1 ½ cups flour and the seasonings and mix together well. Then add ¼ to ½ cup of buttermilk into the flour mixture and stir gently with a fork.

3. Heat 1 inch (I used less) of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

4. Remove a buttermilk-soaked strip and place it in the flour mixture, turning it over to coat it. Place the strip on a plate. Continue with the rest of the strips.


5. When the oil is ready (flour should make it bubble), begin cooking the strips a few at a time. Cook them for about four minutes or so on each side. (TPW says it should only take less than two minutes per side, but I did not find that to be the case.) When the strips are good and crispy (and golden) remove them to a plate covered with paper towels.



As is likely to happen in our family, three out of four children said to make them again, and one--Aaron--replied, "Meh."

I'm not a big chicken eater, but I didn't find these too shabby for a first attempt at homemade chicken strips.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What do I know?

I picked up a couple of books on the recommendation of a person I know, mainly because--I think this is so--this person I know knows the author. (Can you follow that?) The books are in our local library, so it was easy to head over, pick up the books, and check them out.

The author's books are not the sort I would write, and while I do agree that the books are well-written (at least the two I've read), I have one major problem with them:

All the characters speak and think in the same manner.

You might wonder what I mean by that. It's not like we give a different dialect to each person, at least I don't. But sometimes, a character can speak in a manner unique to that person. The same goes for thoughts. And I thought that's what was happening when one of the main characters spoke and thought without using subjects and sometimes just in phrases. But then I realized that most of the characters spoke or thought in this way.

What do I mean? Let me give you some examples.

1. "Hotter than the blazes out here." Usually, a character would say, "It's hotter than the blazes out here." This came from a very minor, but named, character.

2. "Trying to get them in before the sale. Make the place look nice." This also from another, secondary, but more important character. I don't know about you, but I miss the subjects in these sentences.

3. "Hadn't planned on spending two hours rearranging stuff I would rather throw out." Later on he says, "Didn't follow you here, [X.]" And then, "Came for a drink, saw you being assaulted." One of the POV characters uttered these sentences (fragments?). This character is slightly closed off and pulls away from people. In my mind, I understand why he's terse and skips the subjects.

4. Shame Faith wasn't here to enjoy it with her. This was the thought of another POV character, one who is open and honest and truly, shouldn't speak/think this way.

Now before you think I'm being picky, I want to say that these instances were not examples of when a writer drops the "You" at the beginning of imperative sentences like, "Walk the dog," or "Put on a coat." And sometimes, in dialogue, or even in the narrative, we skip the subject because the phrase follows the sentence before. But for all the characters to use this technique? I found myself having trouble remembering who was speaking. Thus, I was, at times, confused.

Confusion is not something you want to cause in a reader, in my opinion. But then again, this writer had both a literary agent and a slew of published books. So really, what do I know?


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ravioli Dreams

Full disclosure: I hauled this out of the draft bin because I thought it was funny. The baby referenced in the last paragraph is now two years old.

Dreams are funny. Many nights, I dream about high school. I'm not sure why this is the case. That time of my life certainly wasn't my favorite of all times. I met some nice kids. I met some not-nice kids. I went to a school in a small town with a small-town mentality. I had some great teachers and some not great teachers. The story isn't exciting, and so I will never write a book about it. No one would read it. (Oh wait. No one besides my friends are reading my books right now anyway, right?)

But why do I dream about people from high school? I'm in contact with pretty much one (yes one!) person from that wretched place, and I hear from a few more via Facebook, but I do not think about these people on a regular basis. So why do my dreams? Maybe, unbeknownst to me, I hold onto residual teen angst. And maybe, my subconscious is trying to work through all of that crap. Who knows? Again, not me.

So what was it this time? The last time I dreamed of high school I ended up viewing the family jewels of an old crush. This time, I served ravioli and sausage to an old friend who is due with a baby sometime this month. She wondered why I served so much (I cook for at least six people these days) and I wondered why she was planning on serving ravioli to a future five-week old baby ("I'll freeze some," she said. "Babies can eat ravioli at five weeks!")

No clue. No clue. And what's wrong with me?