I used to have it all together. Well, reasonably together. Ok, at least I knew which way was up and which way was down most days. Enter three children in four years. The life of a confused and overwhelmed mother, wife, business woman, former teacher, cook, housekeeper, bookkeeper, chauffeur, appointment maker, crafter, personal chef, artist, and PTA member. Oh, and wanna-be writer.
Sometimes, the simplest thing is the best thing. In the case of cobbler, that's definitely true. My Granny's cobbler recipe is so simple that I have it in my head. Which, if you're a mom, have a husband, a job, a business, or a blog, you have a pretty good idea of how hard it is to store much of anything in there. But it's that simple. And you can use whatever fruit you like. Our favorite is peach, but berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries) work great too.
With a ton of these beautiful babies around, I'm whipping up a cobbler with half strawberries, half rhubarb.
Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.
1 stick butter
1 c flour
1 c sugar
¾ c milk
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 c fruit (trimmed and/or sliced if needed), sweetened to
Melt butter in 8”x8” or 9”x9” pan. Mix together flour,
sugar, milk, salt, baking powder, and milk until just combined. Pour into
baking dish on top of melted butter. Spoon sweetened fruit evenly on top of batter.
Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes until golden brown.
Can be doubled in a 9"x12" pan. I only use one and a half sticks (3/4 cup) of butter when doubling this recipe. You can even use just one stick if you're worried about calories. But with all that fruit, this is practically salad, right? You may need to increase the baking time by 5-10 minutes. Just keep an eye on it.
In many, many ways, I am happy about my kids growing up. It is wonderful, in fact, to see them learning all kinds of new things--how to cook, how to find their way through the neighborhood to a friend's house, doing their own laundry, not needing help in the bathroom, sleeping through the whole night, making some money in their latest business venture, figuring out the things that interest and inspire them. Yet, at many of the milestones we approach--a birthday, a new stage, the end of a school year, the "first time ever...," I still get teary and think about how everything goes by so fast.
So, here I am again with only a few days left as the mom of a seven year old. There is something special about being seven, I think. To me, it’s the last bit of being a little kid. While I love the perks of having big kids, I know I’m going to miss a whole lot about the little kid stage. Perhaps because I’ve heard too much about eight year old girls being teen-like, staring to mature quickly, getting an attitude, I am more anxious for my baby girl (and me) in this new stage than I was for my boys. Plus, this is the last time I’ll ever have a little kid. I’m going to miss seven.
Seven is the last tiny bit of baby lisp I can hear when you talk. Just barely. It will be gone in a moment.
Seven is knowing the very best day means playing all afternoon with the neighbor, eating cheeseburgers and s’mores for dinner, and having a sleepover with your brothers in the fort you made.
Seven is calling at least one day out of every week "the best day ever."
Seven is still, just barely, small enough for me to pick you up when you sit on the countertop and wrap your arms around my neck or fall asleep in the car on the way home from the park.
Seven is still (mostly) unfamiliar with mean girls, brand name clothes, cliques, or body image issues. Seven doesn't wonder if she's too fat or too tall or too hairy or too anything. She is magical, powerful, and amazing.
Seven knows how to do a pull-up on the monkey bars and can make it all the way accross without stopping. Seven knows how to do a cartwheel, dribble a soccer ball, and do 18 different jump rope tricks. Seven alwyas runs as fast as she can.
Seven is having a boy for a best friend without wondering why the parents of the six girls coming to your sleepover might not want him there.
Seven is crawling into our bed to snuggle when you wake up and insisting Daddy carry you down the stairs on his back every single morning.
Seven is knowing you want to be an artist and a spy and a mom someday, but only of adopted kids, since you know how that works, and that IS. NOT. HAPPENING.
Seven is writing a letter to the tooth fairy asking her name, what she does with the teeth she collects, and what she likes best about her job.
Seven is knowing how to read but still wanting to sit on my lap and be read to every night before bed--Pete the Cat, Froggy, Pinkalicious, Junie B, and the very best--Piggie and Elephant.
Seven is a neon colored bandaid on each knee. All spring, summer, and fall.
Seven is finding a friend (a worm, caterlippar, or ant) to hold as we hike through the woods. The whole way.
Seven is telling me every night at bedtime, "Good night. Don't let the bedbugs bite. And if they do, whack 'em with your shoe."
After dinner tonight, I kissed my husband and told him I was going out for a while. When I've been cooped up too long because of the cold or had an especially frustrating day with the kids, I escape to one of my favorite mini-vacation spots for a couple hours--the craft store, the library, or Target. Tonight, I headed straight to Target.
Like the old lady I am, I got the only hot, caffeine-free, sweet treat I could think of at the in-house Starbucks--a vanilla steamed milk, and started wandering the aisles to warm my frozen body and soothe my frazzled nerves. I can wander Target for two hours or more, admiring the cute pillows, the newest kitchen towels, the perfectly co-ordinated seasonal offerings. And tonight I learned a few things too:
1. Target is just a teeny-tiny bit obnoxious. They have their swimwear out. Along with goggles, flippers, and floaties. Really? With the East buried in so much snow they couldn't get to their local Target with a sled and a half-dozen Huskies (do Husky dogs pull sleds? I dunno, but they look like they should), and us going on our third day of city-wide school cancellations due to snow and below zero temperatures, I just can't even. Really, Target?
2. I cannot be held responsible for what I will do when presented with a whole display of discounted Post-it notes. There is no reasoning or resisting. They will come home with me. All the Post-its.
3. If I can tell, from two aisles away, in a matter of 15 seconds, that your child is sick, cranky, and up past his bedtime, you should be able to tell too. Go home. Nothing good comes from a toddler in Target past 9 PM.
4. As addictions and coping mechanisms go, I don't think Target is such a bad deal. I mean, I walked out with a little linen envy--those pillows I always admire still on the shelf. But for $38.49--an hour and a half of quiet, calming decompression, plus a gallon of milk, paper clips, plastic wrap, and a lovely assortment of Post-it notes--not a bad deal at all.
So today was a fairly typical--and good--day. So was yesterday. Wednesday? Not so much. We had to do math. Everyone was cranky. The Internet was broken. Everyone was super cranky. I didn't win the Powerball. OK, so I didn't actually play the Powerball. Still disappointing, no?
But Tuesday? Oh, my goodness....Tuesday....it was a day to remember. This was Tuesday:
My desk is clean. My kitchen is clean. Dinner is simmering
on the stove. I put away the last of the Christmas decorations today. (Yes, I
know it’s February. Hushhushhush.) We did (almost) everything I had planned for
school today, except the child who read Maze Runner in its entirety between 10 AM and 6 PM today quietly
in his room. (I’m so totally OK with
that.) Two of my children are playing. Outside. Like, with each other. As in,
not with anything electronic. As in, actual playing and not pretending to play while beating each other with foam swords. There is laundry yet to fold, but even so, I can
see only three possible explanations for this situation.
less-than-once-a-millennium astrological alignment of planets, moons,
stars and asteroids is happening today.
powerful sorcerer decided I deserve some good karma (or maybe just that my hair looks nice) and placed a kick-ass love/kindness/cleanliness/peace/happiness
spell over me and my home today.
poo is about to hit the fan, and I should enjoy this while it lasts
instead of asking why or folding laundry.
If this were a multiple choice test, I’d pick A. Or maybe B.
We’re not gonna talk about C. I’m just going to enjoy this while it lasts. And
give thanks to the universe that I can’t really complain about my life any day,
but some days….oh, some days are so magical, they just need to be written down to remember forever.
...the more things change. It's really the only thing we can count on, isn't it? I mean, people say death and taxes, but I like to look on the bright side and say that the only thing we can count on is change. And boy, how things have changed for our little family in the last couple of years.
We certainly aren't settled into our new normal of homeschooling days, along with big kid and tween issues. Yet, a lot has changed since the days of babies and toddlers needing feeding/wiping/dressing/helping, and the barely-holding-it-together couple under the strain of three preschoolers, a budget as tight as a vice, and a to do list driving us to collapse into bed after midnight laundry folding frenzies.
I sometimes wonder how I haven't exactly figured out how to be an adult in the last 20 years. I mean, what have I been doing with my time? But looking back, I barely had time to go to the bathroom. Much less figure out the meaning of life, organize my entire house and become a screaming success at my life's calling (if I even knew what that was). And I'm not feeling too bad about that at the moment. (I do have the other kind of moments, but not right now.)
You know those cool (or lame, whatever) glitter time out jars some moms make for their kids? (Or am I just spending way too much time on Pinterest?) Well, if you haven't seen one, it's a jar with some sort of liquid and glitter in it. Kid gets in trouble, mom shakes the jar, kid has to sit in time out until glitter settles to the bottom so they have time to calm down. OK, this explanation is way too long for the analogy I'm trying to draw here...
But really, life isn't like the glitter time out jar. It's not like the murky, glittery lack of clarity clears itself up in a matter of 12 minutes. It is clearing up, and the murk is settling to the bottom. I mean, I was thinking today of how little memory I have of when my babies were infants. The exhaustion, the overwhelming responsibility and confusion, the exhaustion....it's like a huge cloud covers my memories.
And even at "my age," it's not all clear. But ya know what? It's a heck of a lot clearer than it was when my kiddos were babies. In fact, looking back at the things I was writing just eighteen months ago, it's clearer now than it was then. And even if it's still not clear, even if it never gets totally clear, it's still all glitter. It's still all beauty, totally worth waiting for, and so amazingly delightful to look at.
It is an exciting time at our house. Tomorrow is the first day of school. We didn't go to bed early. We didn't set an alarm. We didn't lay out outfits with new jeans or tennis shoes. We didn't fill backpacks with new pencils, notebooks, glue sticks and crayons. We didn't pack lunch boxes with peanut butter sandwiches and Cheetos. Tomorrow we start our first day of home school.
My excitement is mixed with so many other emotions. Worry—will I be able to do this? Manage three kids, be home with them all day, stay organized enough, not loose my mind? Sadness—missing the regular and easy contact with our school friends (mine too), including the amazing teachers our kids had, who I became friends with. Relief—no testing anxiety to manage, no bullying to worry about, no calls to teachers and principals asking why the heck my kid is crying over whatever craziness happened at school that day.
I have no doubt the kids are having some mixed emotions too, but I am so grateful that they all three said, "I can't wait for school to start tomorrow, Mom." Not one single sigh when I laid out before them my plan for the week. Not a hint of whine in a single voice when I reminded there would be no Minecraft from 8 to 3. I know I'm the adult, but either by instinct or by chance, they seem to be letting me take it easy on this one. And however it's happening, I am grateful.