Saturday Early Morning Meal Planning

I had the strangest dreams last night.  I was helping a laboring woman get to the hospital – and then suddenly she shrunk and was inside a chicken egg I carried, and she birthed a miniscule baby along with a gush of yellow egg yolk.  I could not fish the baby out of the yolk and get it breathing, I tried all different ways, but it was too tiny to get on the tip of my finger.  So I carried the whole egg up a terrifying staircase, trying to get help.  It was not so much a staircase as a teetering, extremely tall obstacle course, where I had to climb and clamber and occasionally leap over chasms that yielded a thousand foot drop below.  At the top of the staircase was a door that opened onto a window-ledge on the outside of a tall building on top of a mountain that I could not get down from, and I just stood there, clinging to the side of the building and still holding onto this cracked egg with the tiny baby and mother inside, not knowing what to do.  I often dream of tall sets of stairs, like in a parking garage or the fire stairs in a tall office building, and they are pretty much impassable and yet I have to get to the top.  Symbolism much?

I woke with a start at 5:15, shivering because the Professor stole all the covers (we are blessed to have a king bed, but only a full duvet cover, so we often fight over it, unless I remember to bring my own blanket).  Out I came, to the front room, to putter around and be alone for a while before the boys wake up and we have chaos til 8 pm.  I never used to be an early morning person, though here lately I’ve been waking up with a start at 4 am, sweaty and anxious about meeting all my deadlines at work.   I try to go back to sleep if it’s before 5am, but if it’s 5 or later, I get up and savor the quiet in my own house.  There are so few hours of the day where I can be left alone – I am constantly interrupted by partners needing something, or by children, or on particularly heinous days, by both.  The only time I can get any flow to my thinking and doing is in these wee quiet pre-dawn hours.  So, voila!  Morning person.

We have a long weekend ahead of us, and although I have work to do I plan to put it aside for most of the weekend and just be with the boys.  (And do the work of the house, which is not a negligible amount of work, of course.)  We have iffy plans with various local families to hang out at some point, though nothing definite.  I am grateful for the opportunity to re-charge, at least as much as these boys (especially the one year old) allow rest and re-charge – which is not much.  

Craig is at that stage where, at any moment, I might find a pair of socks stuffed inside a cup in the Tupperware drawer, several mismatched shoes under my pillow, and I’m always finding his big brothers’ Skylanders toys in the pantry, inside boxes of crackers or cereal.  Fishing in my purse for my wallet at a restaurant or grocery counter usually yields some kind of fun surprise – sometimes the surprise is a small toy or item of clothing shoved in there by chubby hands, and sometimes the surprise is that the wallet isn’t in there, and when I get home I’ll find it under the couch or sitting on top of a downstairs toilet.  He is in the redistribution phase of life.  If he is awake, the Professor and/or I are up and chasing him.  Very occasionally, he and the big boys will go upstairs to their room, and we have some quiet.  Otherwise, though, the Professor and I both enjoy the heck out of Craig, and also LIVE FOR NAPTIME.

Here is the meal plan for this week.   Some summer fun – grilling, pasta salads, fresh veg and fruit  . . . I love summer cooking.

Creamy spinach tomato tortellini

Stuffed zucchini – but with turkey

Sticky sesame sorghum chicken kebabs with grilled corn on the cob and watermelon

Turkey and pepper lasagna (left overs – made this last week and froze)

Two blue apron meals: crispy chicken cutlets with sugar snap pea and radish salad, and seared salmon with asparagus-new potato hash

 

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School’s Out For Summer

Yesterday was the boys’ last day of school – it ended a week of mid-day parties and awards ceremonies and parades, all the Last Week of School pomp and circumstance.  At his awards ceremony earlier in the week, Jack received the A/B honor roll and a character award.  He grinned bashfully when his name was called, then did a little flailing dance and made a weird face.  It perfectly illustrated the battle between immaturity and grace that his seven year old self is experiencing.  A partner was mad at me for being late on an internal deadline, but I’m so glad I went to his awards ceremony anyway.  Jack saw that I was there.  The wolf that grows is the one you feed, right?

The Professor and I took turns attending the various events.  I caught the midday first grade ice cream party on Thursday, he did pickup duty for early release Friday, and a church party on Friday afternoon.  I grabbed the little boys at their end of year party later on Friday afternoon, and instead of going back to work, I took them home and set up the sprinkler in the backyard.  We sat on the porch and ate Nilla wafers, and the boys ran around in their swimsuits.  Full of cookies, we skipped dinner.  The sun didn’t set til nearly eight o’clock.

Craig was being a pill, so we gave him a bottle and put him to bed right at 7pm.  I read him his favorite books – Roadwork, and The Going to Bed Book.  I finish one, he hands me the other.  I finish that one, he hands me the first one.  He loves when we lay down on our backs and read – I hold the book in the air above our heads, and he points to the pictures.  Sometimes he will get bossy and yank it out of my hands, then hold it upside down and turn the pages and speak baby nonsense, ‘reading’ it to me.

So we did this a while and then I put him in his bed with his Baby (a singing gloworm my mother bought), and came downstairs.   The Professor and I lounged in the front room, reading magazines, and the boys played with their toys in the living room.  At 8:00 we realized it was pretty late, and we reluctantly got up to roust the boys and herd them up to bed.  We found them on the couch, lying lengthwise together, head to foot, like two inverted teardrops, like a yin-yang symbol, sound asleep.  Liam’s graduation balloon was floating above them, the end of the string brushing across their little boy hips.  They still had their glasses on.  We each took a boy – the Professor took Liam and I carried Jack up to bed, and it was so hard to do that I thought about the last time I will hold him.  It’s a day that’s coming soon – he is almost more than I can lift at this point.  

Summer has begun.  

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Recovery

I have my feet up, after making a turkey sausage/green pepper/onion lasagna plus a batch of cauliflower chowder.  Both are chilling in the fridge, ready to be re-heated for the week’s dinners.  All of the boys have had lunch, and the big boys are watching tv in the other room.  The baby is upstairs in his crib.  The Professor is sleeping on the couch, resting from his very early flight home.  He has been in a lovely little northeast city these past few days, laying his grandfather to rest in the cemetery of a little stone church in Pennsylvania.

Two days after Lachlan’s passing, we received the news that the Professor’s grandfather had passed away after a short illness, and luckily we were able to get the Professor north in time for his celebration of life.  They also celebrated the Professor’s aunt, who passed away last Halloween, and whose memorial service was already scheduled for this spring.  An act of hope – planning the service for spring, when flowers are blooming.  The Professor has been gone a few days, and just got home – exhausted, trying to rest and assimilate the weekend’s experiences.  Life is a little dimmer now, and will be for a long while.

We’re all tired.  Will there come a time in life when I’m not tired?  So goes the lament of every parent of multiple young children.  Pulled in a million directions.  Trying to enjoy moments with our young ones even as they bury us in the drudgery of all the work they generate.   I do love them so, though.  They are a comfort in a season of loss.  But I carry the weight of them, heavy these days.

I received a few private notes from readers after my last post, which I greatly appreciate, although the grief I feel is more the ghost of grief – empathy and (as a friend and I discussed) more than a little survivor guilt.  I hate to draw any kind of sympathy away from where it truly belongs – with the grieving immediately families.  But, you know, I cared about these people and I wanted them to live, and live well.  So though I feel silly, I will accept your sweet support. I have no claim to real deep and abiding sorrow, but these losses have made me sad anyway, and so I appreciate your being kind to me.  The internet is not always a kind place, but this place is, and I am thankful.

Meanwhile, spring.   My sister is planning a wedding for next spring.  A dear friend at work is welcoming a new baby in the fall – a little girl.  I look forward to their happiness as if it were my own.

Once the Professor wakes up, we will welcome some new friends over for afternoon cocktails, a nice friendly and distracting chat.  Their kids and ours will play in the backyard on the swing set, while we drink white wine and talk about vacations and news and schools.  Craig will wake up and play with his baby friend Bryce, whose hair is a white-blond as Jack’s used to be.  I am off to sweep the porch, fill an ice bucket, slice some berries into a fresh fruit salad and arrange crudités around a little pot of hummus.  I’ve been humming an old hymn today . . . Gathering together, it’s such a nice thought.  Friends as a bastion against the dark curling fingers of sorrow.  Much love to you all – better days are coming.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

 We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free! 

Posted in Categorizing Things is Overrated, Dear Friends, Domestic Bliss, Parents and Siblings and Cousins, Oh My! | Leave a comment

Gone

Lachlan died last night, in his mother’s arms.

I just came back from some business travel.  I have a task list a mile long.  I’ve been staffed on new matters and I have to get my hands around them.  There are deadlines.  Our cupboards are bare – and I mean bare – and I’ve got to get the shopping done.  Dinner will need made tonight.  Jack has a ball game.  Liam’s eczema is out of control and needs handled.

All of these things, the Stuff of Life, these precious nuisances – they’re all beyond me at this point.  My head is fuzzy, my attention span shot.  I refresh facebook ten times and hour, just to stay connected to a community that is impacted by this news (no one at work has been following the story, no one knows).  I keep catching myself holding my breath today.  Tears sneak up on me.  It’s so strange, how deeply I feel this grief for a family I don’t  ever see because they live in a different state.  I definitely don’t need any condolences – this is not my child, and not even a child I interact with on a regular basis.  And yet I feel unmoored.

Driving in to work this morning, the sun was offensively bright, the sky irritatingly beautiful blue.  The grass is so damn green.  It should be brown, it should be dried out and dusty and dull, dreary brown.  I need a drizzle, a gray haze, something to blunt the sharp corners of the world.  My eyes can’t take in this much light.

He spent the last week of his life on tractors, riding in classic sports cars, seeing sharks at the aquarium, cuddling baby puppies that his mother arranged to have brought to the house.  Giggling with his twin.  Oh, that he had had more time.  If I could have given him years of my life, I think I would have.

My knee is killing me.  I have three voice mail messages I should check.  A light bulb in the hall needs changed.  Lachlan has died.  These sentences are all true, these facts co-exist, and yet my mind cannot reconcile them all.

And now, having seen him through this illness, his loved ones must do the very hard work of grieving.  Continued prayers/thoughts for them, dear readers.  Lachlan is beyond our prayers today, though he’ll never be completely gone from my maternal heart.

How I wish this could have gone differently.

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Renewed Focus

We played basketball this weekend, my oldest and I.  Liam was there for a bit, but then he puttered off to do something else in the garage, as did his father.  They are nothing if not true to their largely loner natures.  Craig was in and out of the game, desperate to have a huge heavy basketball wham him on the head, and we took turns guarding him as often as we guarded the opposing team.

The others quickly petered out, but Jack and I are social creatures and we stuck it out, happy for each others’ company and for the exercise.  We ran dribble drills, up and down the driveway.  We took turns shooting baskets, each standing to the side near the undeveloped lot, so as to keep the rebounding ball from rolling away into the trees and thorns on that side of the driveway.  (Unfortunately we are surrounded by down-slopes and thick underbrush, which makes basketball a challenge.  But we rise to the occasion. Jack and I are “yes and” kind of people, and seeing my positive, we-can-make-this-work nature twinned in him is like coming home.)  We played until the mosquitoes drove us inside.

He’s pretty good at making baskets, short though he is.  He has good aim, moves with confidence.  His calf muscles are strong, his arms.  He has broad shoulders, a triangle waist.  I look at his body and still, seven years later, marvel.  Look at this life, here because of me and his father.  Look, see.  What a strange thing, to have created for myself a basketball buddy.  Behold how blessed I am to play a Sunday afternoon game with this beautiful creature I made.

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Tonight, because Jack was at a baseball game with his father, and because the ToddlerMonster goes to bed somewhat early, I had just Liam for stories at bedtime.  He sat in my lap, drinking milk, a new (EXPENSIVE) pair of glasses (EXPENSIVE REPLACEMENT FOR THE EXPENSIVE LAST PAIR WHICH HE BROKE) perched on the end of his nose.  He is slim slim slim.  He used to be our stocky little man, short and solid – years ago we got the Fat Baby lecture on this one.  (Of all our children, it was him that got us in trouble for size!)  For the past year or so he’s been a reed – shot up tall, thin in the face, no butt.  His pants are always falling off because he has no butt.  This evening he folded up all those stringy long limbs in my embrace, like a lap full of clothes hangers, and we curled around each other.  We usually just do one or two but tonight I read him four stories.  We got to the end of one and I just kept picking up another one, another one, another one. Making it last.

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