Monday, August 6, 2012

Perfect Storm

It's a perfect storm that's been brewing all summer. 

I should have thought when in the early '90s I had my first 2 children 20 months apart and my next 2 18 months apart, that not only would the early years of multiple diapers, car seats and sippy cups be difficult (multiple baby challenges condensed) but the transfer to adulthood would be difficult as well (multiple growing up challenges condensed).  Oh my heart.

It all started when this one decided to leave the warmth of home and go live in the dorms at college, chose a roommate and started her first job.  Wobbling in heart began.  Slight emotional instability.

This was followed up by Child #2, who traveled all summer on basketball teams, lived at the gym, made new friends, and will soon turn 18 and enter his senior year in high school.  Increased heart palpitations.  Feeling a little panicked around the edges.

And then, Child #3 (who in this picture looks like a bad kid but is really a good kid) got his driver's license and essentially drove away from home for the summer.  I mean he's always been gone a lot in the summer, but the wheels let him go a little further . . . without me taking him.  Enter full-on anguish.  And by yesterday the full throes of tears and morbid moping about.

Dratted kids!!  You love 'em so much, they about rip a giant hole out your heart as they start to leave.  I thought Bill Cosby said this was going to be easy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Asparagus and Grandma

This summer the store coolers have been full of delicious asparagus, often on sale.  Asparagus is yummy tucked into an omelet with a few slices of garden tomatoes on the side, but usually I just like to lightly sautee' it.

Because that's how Grandma used to cook it.

I'd be visiting and it would be getting on toward dinner time.  And her eyes would pop open wide, as if she'd just thought of the most magical idea.  And she'd sayd, "Let's get some asparagus fresh out of the garden and have it for dinner!!" 

Grandma was like that.  Life was an adventure.  Even asparagus.

I don't remember asparagus landing very often on the dinner table growing up . . . if ever.  But it was always right at home on Grandma's table.

Out she'd be, digging around in Grandpa's garden, fiercely avoiding any stalk looking a little woody and bringing in a nice handful of the youngest, most tender asparagus.  For me.  Company.

Butter melting, the delicate stalks gently pushed around in the stainless steel Revere Ware pan until they were just crisp-tender and then slid onto melamine plates.  I liked the white ones with the bands of green and turquoise around the outside.

There was probably a little dish of applesauce and a ground beef patty to go along with it, but the asparagus was the star.  And we'd savor it and ooh and aah over that summer flavor.

And that's what I think of when I see a bunch of tightly banded asparagus on sale in the grocery store.

A summer dinner with Grandma.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Earning the Camping Badge

If they gave out scouting awards for mothers, this weekend would have been my time for my camping badge.

I piled my oversized conversion van to the gills with bikes, tent, stove, tarps, and the only 2 children I could convince to go with me on this camping trip.  The other 3 conveniently remembered they needed to change their sheets that weekend, prepare for senior English, reconnect with a kid from grade schoool . . . you know.

I did pull out of the driveway with some trepidation . . . after all I am a mom long on ideals and quite short on practicality.  Much more likely to pack a scatter rug with a leaf motif that matched the tent than to remember bug spray . . . ice . . . tent poles.

By the time the conversion van groaned up the mountains and eased itself on into the campground, I was truly hyperentilating and wondering if I was crazy and if earning this badge was really within my motherly limitations.

Come to find out, earning the badge was quite doable, if taken one small step at a time, engaging the help of others.  And the extra credit was out of this world.

#1 - Put up the tent.

Check.  How hard can this be in the year 2012?  I remember my grandparents wrestling with huge canvas monstrosities and miscellaneous posts and poles of wood, metal and varying shapes and sizes.  Coleman even attaches the three step directions to the tent itself .  Thank you, Coleman.  You know me.

#2 - Cook in the great outdoors.

Check.  Oh my, did I feel proud.  Attaching my own propane, lighting a flame, scrambling the eggs, frying the bacon, toasting the bread.  Never mind that I have visions of my grandfather digging a ditch, filling it with coals, and nestling homemade biscuits down inside in a Dutch oven.  No one expects me to go back to the pioneer days.  It's 2012.  I cooked in the great outdoors.

Extra points if your kids actually eat what you cooked.  Mine did.  They knew it could be a long four days.

# 3 Wash dishes outside.

Check.  Once again a faintly romantic feeling, scrubbing the dirty pans and bowls while breathing in a little campfire smoke and feeling the sun shine down on your shoulders.  Lasted about one meal.  Lasted until I realized you need 2 (not 1!) dishpans for washing your dishes . . . one for washing . . . one for rinsing.  That's also 2 dishpans full of hot water you need . . . one for washing . . . one for rinsing.  And that's 2 trips back and forth to the community water pump . . . one for the wash water . . . one for the rinse water.  And a half hour to heat the water on the aforementioned propane stove.  More cooking after I've finished making the meal?  Huh?

#4 - Build campfire.

Check.  Sort of.  Does it count if you need all kinds of help here?  Help like squishy gel fire starter that you can purchase at the camp gate?  Help like newspaper from your parents' campsite that they wisely did not leave out in the rain?  Help like your 13 year-old taking over the entire operation?  If it's your campsite and your fire ring, then I think you get credit.

Those are the essentials for the badge.  At this point I was home free.  The rest is just extra credit.  And oh boy, give me that extra credit.  It's why I love camping. 

Kids splashing in the river:

while I look at the newest issue of Artful Blogging and am neither convinced to get wet or cold.

Games with extended family:

Bike rides folded up inside iridescent greenness.

Sitting still, hearing silence, watching sunshine through a smoky campfire haze.

Camping badge earned.  Camping extra credit enjoyed.