Saturday, February 13, 2010

Change Is Gonna Come.

Today has been one of those glorious and yet rare days of thought. Those odd days when I find myself willing to think about life as it is now, and life as it will be when the girls start school. As you are well aware, most of the time I live in perpetual fear of the dreaded day of "Letting Go" (a.k.a The First Day Of Kindergarten). But every once in awhile I'll allow myself to think about that day without an arrow stabbing my heart. Hence the "Glorious & Rare" descriptors above. Sometimes, when I let myself, I can almost see an acceptable idea of Life After Stay-At-Home Mommyhood. Most of the times that thought seems bleak, but on the occasions when it glimmers slightly, I find myself thinking of it with some guarded hope.

The day started with a visit to a bookstore to meet the character Olivia with the girls and Kathleen. The girls were awe stuck by the star power of that giant, jumper clad pig. I could practically count the stars in their eyes as they gazed with unconcealed adoration up at her while hearing an Olivia story read to them. I could I see their hands worrying themselves at the prospect of getting to actually touch that pink goddess, especially her ears, (which, incidentally, were very large and just begged the passerby to give them a small tug). There were hugs. And more loving gazes beamed up at their New Friend. (Now that they've met her, Olivia is considered a close acquaintance in our house). Once home, the girls quickly found all our Olivia books and have spent the rest of the day perusing the various story lines and reliving the mischief their new com padre has wallowed in to.

Where is the connection, you ask? How does a giant pig and two starry-eyed kids play into any great scheme? Simply put, the connection is in books. In writing. In freeing the ideas stored up in my brain. I'm a writer. Or I try to be. Or, maybe more appropriately, I like words. I like the way I feel when I put words on paper and see them. Feel them. When they become real and tangible things that others can experience too. There's no small amount of wonder in that for me. Right now my brain is scrambled with unrealized "characters", all milling about up there. Some days I feel downright psychopathic with the shadows of voices I hear. People I long to meet. Get to know. Sketch out into a real person with a real life. In a world of my own invention. I have a feeling they are just waiting for me to get around to working with them. I feel like there's something there. But maybe that's jumping the gun a bit. Biting off more than I can chew. I don't know.

The truth of it is that a part of me looks ahead to the First Day Of School and thinks: Writing Time. A few hours a day to get out of the house, find some inspirational place (a busy place for me, I think. My mind works best around noise and chaos), and just write. Write for me. A chance to clear my head. Work it all out. Figure out the answers to questions I've always had but been afraid to ask. To wonder. To worry. On paper. The idea of that simply luxury seems very peaceful and agreeable to me, and I find myself in a state of mind that welcomes that change rather than dreading it.

There are other opportunities at the forefront too. My teaching certificate has started calling to me from behind it's glass frame. "Teach! Teach! Teach!" it says persistently. There are paths for me to explore there too. To go back now or to wait till the girls are older: that is the question. To teach public school or private school: that is a consideration. Should I go back part time or full time? Local or slightly further away? All these things are chasing about in my upper storey.

It's interesting for me to be at this place of wondering and slight indecision. It feels absolutely decedent to be in a soft place of not knowing what is next. To be certain that there IS a next thing, but not clear on just what that is. After spending the past 5 plus years rigidly adhering to a schedule, there is nothing on the docket. And I'll choose this moment to relish it and enjoy the time I've been granted to figure things out. Because in the end, I know it will all be figured out. I'm certain of that. How much of a part I'll play in the figuring remains to be seen, but I know my game piece will be exactly where it needs to be in this game of life. Yep. As the song declares, Change Is Gonna Come. Perhaps linking a Civil Rights song to my own life is a bit of an overstatement on my own importance, but I'm doing it anyway. My blog, my prerogative, right? And I firmly believe that the way to handle change is with a welcoming finesse, rather than with a wary bit of dread. I'm not sure what road I'll be taking, but I know it will be MY road, and thus it will be good. I'm ready.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Freedom For All...

Yesterday I was at the post office, dropping off some packages. One was rather heavy and a bit awkward to carry, and I found myself out of breath as I heaved the whole lot up onto the counter. The postal worker, who knows me as many around town do, as "The Twin-Mom" laughed at my breathlessness and commented that I was "losing my touch". My quizzical look prompted her to go on to say that she remembered the days when I'd come in there hoisting one girl on each hip AND carrying packages. Whoa. Was I some kind of super-hero-mom or what?

Her comment gave me pause for perusing my memories. She was right. I did spend a lot of time with a child attached to each hip. Before they were old enough to really latch on to me securely by themselves, I would use two snugli packs to carry them at the same time. One kiddo on my back and one on the front. It's funny thinking back to those days. Forever anchored down by two little sweeties. Flash forward to today, and I'm free to roam as I please. I can walk and swing my arms with no fear of dropping someone, and I can bend over to tie my shoe without the worry of someone falling out of her carrier. And when I walk through a doorway, I don't have to turn sideways to avoid whacking a head into the frame! Ah, sweet freedom.

Do you know what the irony of this is? I actually miss the days of tethering. I miss carrying them around, feeling the weight of them, the reality of them, in my arms. I used to love the feel of them squeezing their arms around me in pure trust that wherever we were going, they knew I'd get them there safe and sound. They had a lot more confidence in me than I had in myself when I was navigating an icy patch with the two of them, terrified I would fall (and how good of a mom would I have been THEN, I ask you?). I miss that. I really do.

Some people may think I'm insane for saying that, and maybe I am strange for missing each dependency I give up as they grow more and more independent. But I can't help it. Maybe there is a part of ME who is dependent upon them. Their very existence is nothing short of a miracle. After an extremely dangerous pregnancy and near-fatal birth complications, the sheer honor I feel just to be able to hold them is palpable. The ever-present nearness of the 'other' reality, the one where one of them, or me isn't here, is a constant companion for me most days. Even five years out. The shock of the whole ordeal (which perhaps I'll put into words one day), has ebbed, but never fully dissipated. Taking care of them has been, in many ways, a calming touchstone for the reality we've been blessed with. The one where we're all here. And they're growing and healthy despite everything: all the problems I had and despite being born premature.

I think I'll never be ready to just let go completely. But, I also know I have to. No kid wants a mommy hanging for dear life, do they? They'll start Kindergarten this fall (and we all know how I feel about that), and that will be a good start. And, of course, I still have now: these precious last few months of their being only ours, the duration of which we shall fill with memories galore. And I'll move on. I will. (Hopefully). And when people share their memories with me, I'll smile. Because as The Memory Keeper for Ashlyn & Caedance's childhoods, I'll always hold onto those days when things may not have been quite "easy", but they were certainly "precious".

Monday, February 1, 2010

French Onion Salisbury Steak from Cuisine At Home.

Holy cow, Batman! This is awesome! I highly recommend making it. It comes from
Cuisine At Home magazine, which is another something I highly recommend.

1 1/4 lb ground chuck
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley (I used 4 tsp. dried)
2 T. scallion, minced
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 T. flour
1 T olive-oil
2 cups onions, sliced
1 t. sugar
1 T.garlic, minced
1 T. tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. dried thyme leaves
4 t. minced parsley
4 t. Parmesean cheese
Cheese Toast (see below).

Combine meat, parsley, scallion, salt & pepper. Divide into 4 portions & shape into oval patties (about 3/4"-1" thick). Put 2Tbs flour in a pan and dredge each pattie. Reserve 1 tsp of flour.
Heat 1 T oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add patties & saute 3 minutes on each side, till browned. Remove from pan.
Add onions & sugar to pan. Saute 5 minutes. Stir in garlic & tomato paste, saute 1 minute or till paste begins to brown. Sprinkle onions with reserved flour. Stir in broth & wine, then add salt & thyme.
Return the meat to pan, and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Serve on toasts with onion soup ladled over. Garnish with Parsely & Parmsean cheese.

Cheese Toasts:
4 slices French Bread (I used a baguette).
2 Tbs butter, softened
1/2 t. minced garlic (I used 1/4 tsp and was happy with the subtle flavor)
Pinch of paprika
1/4 cup shredded swiss (I used thin slices)
1 T. Parmesean

Preheat oven to 400
Put bread on baking sheet. Combine butter, garlic & paprika. Spread on one side of each piece of bread. Mix cheeses and sprinkle on each toast. (I put one triangle of swiss on each piece and then sprinkled the Parm).
Bake till bread is crisp & cheese bubbles..10-15 minutes.