Friday, June 29, 2012

I Don't Think I'm Doing This Right

This t-shirt is genius. It can be purchased at

Yesterday Boy#3 heard from a friend who had tried the Magical Corn Trick and was properly impressed by its magicality. This led to a lunch-time discussion with Boy#4 about their common lot in life as the offspring of an internet oversharer.

Boy#3: My roommate friended Mom on Facebook just so he could tell me he was reading about me on her blog. He thought it would embarrass me.

Boy#4: I've had people who found the blog, too, and told me they were reading what my mom was writing about me, like it was a big deal. Ha!

Boy#3: I mean, it's not like my parents have never gone out of their way to embarrass me before. This is nothing.

Hmmm. I may have to up my game.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You May Want to Turn Off Your Speakers

I apologize for the quality of this clip art. But, whoa! Bee playing horn! Be still, my heart.
As the younger sister of (literally) the leader of the band, I have spent my life trying to blend into the background, to not make waves, to go unnoticed. But because I work in public relations (I know! The irony!) this isn't always possible, so I've learned to pretend to be gregarious. This gregarious facade is a ruse.

I'm bashful, is what I'm trying to say. And I try to be dignified. So do you know what the bashful and dignified person's nightmare is? I do.

It's when you leave the library, and for some reason your keyless entry clicker doesn't unlock the car, but since it's 107 degrees (no, I am not kidding) you've left the windows rolled partway down. Problem solved! Just stick your arm through the window and unlock that baby!

HONK! (flash) HONK! (flash)  HONK! (flash) HONK! (flash)  HONK! (flash)

You desperately punch the alarm button on the keyless entry clicker, but (remember?) the clicker isn't working so you drive through campus to get back to the house.

HONK! (flash) HONK! (flash)  HONK! (flash) HONK! (flash)  HONK! (flash)

There you see Husband just leaving after lunch and frantically wave him back to the driveway, where the honking finally and inexplicably stops.

"Sorry, honey! I don't know what happened, but the alarm wouldn't go off. All better now! Bye!"

And so Husband drives away, and you drive back to the office, where you turn off the car and open the door and...

HONK! (flash) HONK! (flash)  HONK! (flash) HONK! (flash)  HONK! (flash)

You drive back home again, mouthing the words "It's okay! It's my car!" to all the people standing on their porches and speed-dialing the police, run upstairs to find the extra set of keys, hit the alarm button and reassure the car it's not being stolen so it will BE QUIET, then wait for your ears to stop ringing.

That's the bashful and dignified person's nightmare. Being That Person.

And That Person? Yesterday, she was I.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Brace Yourself

Once in a while something comes along that is so wonderful, so amazing, so breathtaking that you are forever changed. Such a thing is the video embedded here.

Watch it. It is one minute and twenty-seven seconds well invested, especially if you are the cook in the family and have spent quite enough of your lifespan scrubbing silks off of corn, thank you very much.

The folksy star of this video is not exaggerating. This is MAGICAL.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Farmers' Market

If I were a real blogger and had my posts tagged for future reference with cute labels such as "My Fab Four" and "Love My Hubby" and "Life Is Grand," the tag on this post would be "Why Do I Even Bother?"

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed my interest preoccupation obsession with my tomatoes this spring, including my joy and delight when the elaborate contraption I built to house them seemed to be working, then my despair when the first fruits were diseased. I have spent many, many hours and way too much money trying to coax production out of my plants, so much that Boy#1 sent me an e-mail implying that perhaps my priorities were beginning to skew.

"Just ask yourself this question: If the house was on fire, and you only had time to save either your sons or your tomato plants, which would you save?"

Well, that's easy. The tomato plants are outside, so I don't have to choose. So there, Mr. Smarty-pants. 

Anyway, Saturday was the first day of the year I've been around to visit Small Town's weekly farmers' market. It's half a block long, but traveling that half a block took more than an hour because I knew practically every farmer and artist, and had to talk to Julie about the cinnamon bread, and to Michelle about her metal sculptures, and to Katherine about the knitting, and so on and so on. 

When I finished, my shopping bag was filled with tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, the aforementioned cinnamon bread, a huge bunch of beets, and two cucumbers that were thrown in my bag for free because I'd played the piano at church for the farmer. 

Grand total for all of this fresh-from-the-dirt(-and-oven-in-the-case-of-the-bread) local produce? $20.25.

Okay, this post may have to be tagged "Why Do I Even Bother?" but I'd have to add a second, more accurate tag: "I Love Small Town." 

Because, boy-oh-boy, I do.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Photo courtesy of Ohio State University
Last night as I lovingly tucked my green friends into their beds, I noticed that the jungle-like backyard tomato plants were producing HOMEGROWN TOMATOES! This, my friends, is the American dream come true.

I reached through the supportive cage and grabbed for one of the luscious orbs of vitamin-y goodness--and my hands went right through the first tomato with a "sploosh" that made my stomach turn. It was that moment after the child vomits before sympathy sets in when the only reaction is ewwwww. But then you look at that sad, pinched little face that has just spewed all over the crib, the mothering instincts kick in, and you just want your baby to feel better.

My tomatoes are diseased, and I want them to feel better.

Closer inspection revealed that all of the ripest specimens had black spots on their bottoms, and a couple of green ones were exhibiting a similar affliction. As I did when any of the Boys started exhibiting weird symptoms ("So just when did you notice that you couldn't turn your head to the left?") I consulted the highest authority. Dr. Google isn't just for people, you know.

According to the internet, my plants are suffering from Blossom End Rot. See the picture I found on the Ohio State University site? Looks exactly like my poor babies. After all the care I took in preparing the soil for planting (I incorporated love as well as nitrogen, folks) I apparently did not incorporate enough calcium. Today I will be visiting the garden center to purchase the proper remedy.

I went to bed last night feeling sad for the effort my four plants are exerting. They are gorgeous and make me smile every time I fill their high-tech wicking reservoir.

But don't push it, plants. Small Town has a farmer's market and my job description doesn't include cleaning up plant vomit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Old But Apparently Not Dead

American Association of Retired Persons, of which I am not one.
The very second I was old enough to qualify for membership Husband signed me up for AARP. Oh, yes, he did. Because I am 16 months older than he is, and he is Just That Funny. Ha. Ha.

Imagine my surprise to see the most recent cover on this group's official magazine touting the Sexy Secrets of Men on Fire. Can you read the smaller print up there? Not even with your trifocals? It says "From Denzel to Viggo to Jon Bon Jovi--we reveal the 21 HOTTEST GUYS (over-capitalization theirs) on the planet."

Not stated but implied is "rrrrrrrowr!"

Well, huh. And here what I was looking forward to in retirement was the ability to sleep a little later in the morning, occasionally schedule a coffee date with friends, do some crafts. Am I maybe misunderstanding the implications of all that free time?

In any case this speculation is futile. When I point out for the eleventy-gabillionth time to my accountant Husband that I'm ready to retire, he points to the four Boys, all still in the educational phase of their lives, and laughs and laughs.

I guess he thinks I'm Just That Funny, too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pardon My Needles

My project bag, stuck in the side of my purse
 Two things go with me every time I carry my purse anywhere. (Well, four if you count my eternal optimism and cheerful attitude. Hahahahaha! Ahem.)

I never leave the house without my iPhone and my knitting. The iPhone is self-explanatory, but the knitting, I'm sure, makes me look like a self-absorbed non-payer-of-attention to those who are attending meetings, classes, lectures, or other high-attention events. In fact, the exact opposite is true.

When I knit, I concentrate. When I don't, I wool-gather. I've known that about myself for a long time, but it wasn't until recently that I discovered science agrees with me: When I knit I'm improving my cognitive load.

I know! It sounds like a real thing! And according to Wired, it is. The linked article talks about doodling, but the principal is the same as my self-observed reaction to knitting.

In case you don't want to jump to the link, Wired Science says that people doodle in meetings because a human mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If the meeting strays from riveting topics (say, vacation plans) into less riveting topics (say, process management mapping) some minds may tend to wander. But a mind has limited space to devote to paying attention, and if the mind wanders from the assigned topic at hand (process management mapping) to the more scintillating topics (Hey, I wonder if that beach house in Costa Rica is still available?) the woolgathering will block out the topic that one is being paid to pay attention to, leading to puzzled expressions when the boss asks how the process management mapping is going. That is not a recipe for positive performance reviews and career longevity. So we doodle, because doodling is mindless but distracts us from Costa Rica long enough to focus on process management.

Thanks to my mother's patient tutelage, I can draw a duck. That is all I can draw. Ducks, drawn endlessly, are pretty boring. So when I discovered that knitting has the same mind-focusing effect, I stuck a little bag in my purse with a project that by my estimation will take me 540 hours to complete. (I'm not exaggerating--I've done the math.)

See these little honeycombs? I need to make 720 of them.
I began knitting during phone conferences, behind closed doors, when my wandering mind is the most peripatetic. Then I dared to pull the project bag out during church business meetings. Now I don't hesitate to cast on a few stitches any time I'm required to listen without participating for any length of time.

Some who don't know my motivation might think I'm being disrespectful of the speaker, and for this reason I don't knit during a sermon, or a trustee meeting, or any time my motives might be misconstrued as boredom. In fact, the opposite is true. 

So if you're leading a meeting, and you notice my knitting needles in action, it's because I think what you're saying is important and I don't want to miss it -- I'm a better participant when I'm stitching the wool than when I'm gathering the wool. Science says so.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Father's Day (Although You're Not My Father)

The men in my life
Over the course of twenty-eight (and a half) years of marriage, it is inevitable that Husband would make a couple of statements that he wishes he could retract. One of these was less than a statement and more of an action (or inaction) regarding a certain antique library table that his wife may or may not have indicated telepathically she really wanted to buy but didn't use her words to say so until they were a couple hours down the road, at which point those words became the last spoken for many, many uncomfortable miles.

The other took place before church on Boy#1's second Mother's Day when a friend leaned over to coo to our toddler, "So, did Daddy help you get something for Mommy for Mother's Day?" The unfortunate response from my knight in shining armor was "Why? She's not MY mother."

Oh. My. Gosh.

I was in the sleep-deprived throes of Boy#2's babyhood, frazzled and smelling like spit-up and dragging a diaper bag that weighed as much as the baby, so I couldn't do more than gape at him in disbelief. Still, you must agree that any woman judge in the world would have considered his immediate demise justifiable homicide.

It took me at least a decade before I could laugh at this story, and another decade or so to tell it with the fond affection of a family legend. By then I realized that (to give in to sappiness) my Mother's Day rolled around every time I recognized that I had married an exceptionally fine father.

When he held my hand and handed me a Kleenex the first time we left Boy#1 at daycare. When he slowed his normal brisk walking pace to accommodate the two toddlers whose hands he was holding. When he calmly taught our beginning drivers to look left-right-left before entering an intersection, and took them to the high school parking lot to practice steering into an icy skid. When he held his ground on the "no cell phones until you're 16" rule. When he demonstrated, day after day after day, how to be an exceptionally fine husband.

We didn't do much to note Father's Day in the House on the Corner. Boy#2 was home from graduate school for a few days, and helped Husband with a garage roof project that had them climbing up and down ladders until their knees ached. Boy#4 made his bed without being reminded and walked the dog without being asked. Boy#1 called to let his dad know he had a good time on a trip to the nation's capital, and Boy#3 took a nap after working two weeks without a day off. All of them have learned how to live as good men by following his example.

He's an exceptionally good father, and the love and respect that bounces between him and his grown sons is a Mother's Day gift every day of the year.

Happy Father's Day, Husband. I'm glad I was too tired to murder you.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Differently Abled

A portrait of Husband, borrowed from
I do not understand why so many people misuse apostrophes.

Apostrophes are EASY. They are used to show contraction or possession, and except in very, very rare cases, they NEVER indicate plurals. To show possession, it's simply a matter of adding 's for singular nouns, and a single ' for plural nouns. Those are the rules, and exceptions are unusual enough that you won't go wrong very often if you follow them.

I am genuinely puzzled by the inability of some/many people (especially people who make signs for houses that say things like The Schmidt's) to use apostrophes correctly, and I'm sure that is exactly the way Husband feels when he asks me to navigate.As our vacation proved once more, I am perhaps the most navigationally challenged person ever to ride shotgun.

"Okay, let's go to the Frontier Restaurant," he might say blithely. "How do I get there?" At that moment I begin to perspire around my hairline.

Husband is a navigational homing pigeon. He almost instantly picks up the cartography of a new city, and within hours he knows its major thoroughfares and can find his way back to the hotel. I, on the other hand, never know where I am, except in the general sense of "in the car" or "in the lobby." He is genuinely baffled that I cannot FEEL the west-erness of west, or the north-erness of north. It's much like I feel when I proofread a student assistant's news release and see that "performance's will take place each day."

Now that GPS systems have taken much of the uncertainty out of navigation, my job is easier, but I'm always aware that during a trip to West Virginia a few years ago our reliance on my phone's navigational prowess took us, after an hour-long drive in the dark, not to our reserved hotel room but  to a Lowe's loading dock.

Fortunately, Husband also is patient with my navigational disability. We've laughed for 20 years about the time early in our marriage when we couldn't get to our Boston hotel. We could SEE it from the interstate, but could not find the correct exit to the correct frontage road to the correct driveway to the hotel, so we made ever-decreasing laps back and forth along the highway until we stumbled on the right path. Even today we refer to arriving circuitously at a known destination as a "Boston hotel route."

So we take Boston hotel routes often when we travel and rely on my ability to know and point out correct exits, and I make sure to also point out stray and misused apostrophes on the signs we are passing.

I have to remind myself that I'm exceptionally good at apostrophes, because I am certainly good for nothing when it comes to navigating. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Just the Two of Us

This picture, in all its poorly-lit, puzzled-smiling glory, is a good representation of the week Husband and I spent on vacation. We had just stepped off the world's longest tram ride to the top of a mountain, and I wanted to capture both us and the gorgeous view behind us. The result was a snapshot in which our heads completely filled the frame.

Having lots of kids never kept our family from traveling. We have ventured every direction except west, and our first camping-in-a-pop-up-camper excursion was in the summer of 1988, just after Boy#1's second birthday when Boy#2 was four months old. I don't remember that we ever missed a summer on the road; Husband and I love traveling and we wanted to make sure our Boys loved to travel as well.

But here is the bottom line of traveling with children: For the parents (and especially for the mom) it is not a vacation. As I heard when my own kids were toddlers, traveling with children is like going fourth class. In Bulgaria.

As parents, you must wake up when the first child wakes up, and outlast the last child to go to sleep. During the intervening hours you drive and eat and walk around educational exhibits at museums and do laundry and clean the camper and play games. You do all the things you would do at home, but you do them without any of the conveniences that are built into your day-to-day life.

You cook for six people on a stove with two reliable burners using food you hope won't poison you if not kept properly refrigerated. You heat water on the stove to wash dishes in a dishpan on the picnic table. You navigate piles of laundry by sending one parent (in the vehicle) off to the laundromat.

Even more daunting than the physical work is carrying the emotional baggage the trip entails. One child scampers through a museum in 10 minutes flat and another wants to read every single informational panel the museum has to offer. Someone always wins Up and Down the Ladder, and someone always loses. The words "he's looking at me!" become the most despised phrase in the English language. Refereeing squabbles when no one can be sent to a room is exhausting, and corralling toddlers who are venturing too near the scenic overlook's edge is nerve-racking. 

And in spite of this, travel is wonderful. The nights after lights-out when I read Harry Potter aloud by flashlight. Husband's amazing proficiency in making shadow figures on the camper ceiling. The smell of the outdoors, and the delight of a camp shower after the first shock of cold water has worn off. Singing the theme song to Oklahoma each and every time we cross the state line. Introducing Husband and my sons to the Costa Rican family that became my family during my Peace Corps years. However, I could rhapsodize for a long time about the things I loved about family travel without wanting to go back to those days.

Travel is wonderful, but when it includes young children, it is not a vacation.

Empty nest travel, when Husband and I completely fill the photo frame? Yes, please. That's a vacation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Other End of the Scale

I'm planning to do a complete post about the differences between traveling with children and traveling as empty nesters, but that post can be summed up in two words: Standard Diner.

Back in the day when we were traveling with the four Boys, Husband and I had strict guidelines we used in choosing eating places. Those guidelines were "Can we afford it?" and "If we spend all our money eating here, will we have enough gas to get home?" We were not destitute, but especially in the days when I was a full-time unsalaried domestic caregiver, we were...careful, shall we say?, about our restaurant choices. McDonald's was perfect not because of its cuisine but because we could get six junior hamburgers, two large fries (each split three ways), and six waters for eight dollars.

Now that we are blowing through our children's inheritance with no guilt about college savings plans, we have different guidelines. Top on the list of these guidelines is "Has this place been on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives?" Albuquerque has three establishments that have been featured on this Food Channel tribute to low-class high cuisine.

Saturday night, after we had spent the day at the Gallup flea market and splurged on $3 tamales for lunch, we headed for the Standard Diner.

My friends, you can't imagine my relief that we did not try this place when we were feeding four male teenagers. First of all, they would have ridiculed the cucumber-spiked ice water, which was deliciously refreshing but which had Vegetables. Floating. In It.

Then they would have looked at the menu and decided they wanted meatloaf, and instead of finding out what $17 meatloaf looks like once, we would have gotten to see $17 meatloaf five times. And they would have loudly picked the golden raisins out of the meatloaf in a way that would have made diners at adjoining tables turn around to look at the country mice.

$17 meatloaf
Then they would have seen their mother order the special (grilled halibut on a golden polenta cake) because surely a little plate of FISH wouldn't cost $17, and they would have found out she was right. Because it cost $27.

$27 halibut. It's special.
They would have seen their parents order the special dessert, a maple apple roulade lovingly described by the wait staff in a way that made both salivate, and heard their mother hiss "It's a cinnamon roll!" when it arrived at the table. Because she's just that classy.

The food was very, very good. Yummy, in fact, except that the cinnamon roll roulade was a little dry. But I couldn't help remembering the days when McDonald's was gourmet, and the tab came to $8.

Guy Fieri obviously has an expense account.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sheep N Goats 4 Sale

Our vacation wasn't all British period drama and baby sweater knitting. No, Husband doesn't really appreciate either of those activities so once his tax seminar had ended we got right into the touristy phase of the week and galloped over to Gallup for the flea market. A brutal wind kept most of the tourists away, but the few of us hardy enough to brave sandblasting had a blast.

Folks, if you're ever within two states or so of Gallup, New Mexico, on a Saturday, this is the place to be. There are the aforementioned Sheep N Goats 4 Sale:

These were offered by a guy who looked as if he were straight out of Navajo Central Casting, but knew where Small Town was located on the map. (Cue It's a Small World After All.)

You can ride out of town with a new-to-you saddle...

 ...or a gizmo to slice bananas because slicing bananas is haaaaarrrrd...

 ...or you can check out the fabulous and inexpensive turquoise and turquoise-ish jewelry at several dozen booths and tables. I was so busy zigging and zagging from one vendor to the next that I forgot to take a picture, but I did not forget to buy more jewelry than I have bought in the last decade. Or two, or five.

Finally, you can get out of the really horrendous wind and dive into a delicious medio litro Coca-Cola in a GLASS BOTTLE... a tamale the size of an end-of-summer zucchini.

It's the best $3 lunch on the planet. And after all that sandblasting, your dermabrasioned skin now looks lovely.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Perfect Vacation

I have a friend who had never heard of Downton Abbey until I gushed last winter about its splendid English-y upper lips and costumes and oh-my-heavens Miss Mary! It turns out this friend is a 19th-century-British-miniseries fanatic, and when she discovered DA on Hulu we didn't see her again for several days.

To thank me (or perhaps to retaliate) for the Downton Abbey tip-off that resulted in her lost weekend, she loaned me her library of English DVDs. Sense and Sensibility (the Emma Thompson/Hugh Grant edition. North and South (the English version, not the Civil War version).


This series deserves a paragraph all to itself because oh, my. For two days I've been immersed in the 1842 market town that is "governed by etiquette, custom and above all, an intricate network of ladies." I watched with bated breath as the doctor was caught up in the web of romantic intrigue, and as young Harry learned to read. 

I've knitted most of a baby sweater as the railroad came to town, coming up for air occasionally to pity poor Husband who has had to be sequestered in tax seminars while all of this wonderful drama is unfolding. (He may say he prefers tax seminars to English period dramas, but I know he's just being brave.)

I finished the series just a few minutes ago, and I'm still misty-eyed from the ending, which was as perfectly genteel and proper as it should have been.

Vacation means different things to different people. Some golf, some shop, some go to museums. Me? I'll take a a BBC mini-series on my laptop over any of those.

This is just my cup of tea.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Unexpected Territory

This is my favorite kind of vacation. Husband is learning all about oil and gas tax regulations, and I'm seeking out the odd and unexpected corners of Albuquerque.

Take the spot I found on the first floor of our hotel. It turns out that the basement of the House on the Corner is not the only place in the world with an exercise bike and elliptical trainer, so my resolution need not be limited to the Corner. And it also turns out that if you spend a little while in this room it's a lot easier to resist the room that's just a few feet down the hall and contains this:

Because after 40 minutes on the exercise equipment and discovering that I had burned exactly 78 calories, I changed my breakfast menu to this.

And it tasted darned good. 

Who knew? It's odd and unexpected.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On the Road to Albuquerque

We're on vacation! Husband and I are right now, even as I write this, in Tucumcari on the way to Albuquerque.

(Side Note#1: Does any state in the Union have more delightful city names than New Mexico? Say it half a dozen times--Tumcumcari to Albuquerque! Tucumcari to Albuquerque! Tucumcari to Albuquerque! Side Note#2: Thank you, Miss Applegate, for making me learn the spelling of Albuquerque when I took Reporting I a hundred years ago. And Side Note#3: When I write my children's book, its setting is going to be Querque, Kansas.)

Our first-day route took us through parts of Kansas that make me marvel "Wow, those pioneers were pretty hardy, huh? Honey, could you turn up the air conditioning, please?"

This part of Kansas also contains a geological formation that is part of the Kansas bucket list and that Husband and I, in spite of being lifelong Sunflower Staters, have never visited. So of course we bumped through the cattle guard and over the rocky road (I'm sorry, Pearl) past musk thistles and Indian paintbrush to the spot where we thought we were lost, then persisted another mile to reach St. Jacob's Well. 

As you can tell by Husband's puzzled stance in the photo above, the well is not immediately visible to the naked eye. It is accessed via a path that is patrolled by guard rattlesnakes. Or not, but that was immediately where my mind went because I have watched too many Western movies.

So I let my valiant scout descend to the actual well. See him on the path?

Nope, neither do I, but I can hear him yelling "I'd have to be pretty thirsty to drink out of this. It's all scummy." I'm not sure what either of us expected of a well that has never been known to go dry, but I think our imaginings may have included palm trees and camels.

As we left the area we stopped to read the historical marker describing the area.

Of course we did.

I can't imagine why the Boys didn't just love vacationing with us.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tomatoes: An Analogy

When I began bragging about my awesome Earthtainers a month ago someone said to be sure to post progress pictures. You know, of course, that if these expensive tomato-growing systems had been a total bust that I would have "conveniently" forgotten that request, but, hey! Look at these honkin' big tomato plants!

To refresh your memories, this is what they looked like in early May:

And now the plants are PEEKING OVER THE FENCE. Holy smoke. Although the containers have been smacked by the Weed-eater a couple of times and the paint is looking a bit mangy, after one month the plants themselves are thriving and are loaded with unripe fruit.

I can't ignore the similarity of this project to another project in my life, when occasional feeding and watering and benign neglect turned this:

into this:

except in the latter case it didn't take a full month to see the results. This happened overnight.

At least it feels that way.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Changing Image

I spent the last several days at the annual convention of one of my favorite groups of women. I spent time with my Much Older Sister, and we talked about Important Things. Oddly, this blog's favorite topic (pantyhose) did not come up even once.

A highlight of the trip was hugging the woman who gave me my first professional job, and I remembered a conference the two of us attended when I was just a pup and she was more or less the age I am now. We shared a room, and when the alarm went off I bounced out of bed ready to face the day. C had been up for a  while and was putting the finishing touches on her make-up.

"How can you look so fresh the first thing in the morning?" she asked me, laughing. "You look like a new daffodil."

I didn't know what she meant until yesterday, when my hotel mirror reflected this face:

Then: Daffodil. Now: Angry Shar Pei. 

Father Time thinks he's so, so funny.

Friday, June 1, 2012


As parents, we pass through the milestones of our children's lives with them. We record in the baby book the first steps, the first tooth, the first day of school, the first sleepover.

I've thought from time to time, though, that other moments marking progress toward maturity can be both more subtle and more significant than these physical signs. The first time the toddler comforts a stressed-out mom by handing her a stuffed animal. The first self-motivated and self-inflicted bath. The first time the child consistently hits the bucket during a bout of the stomach bug.

Yesterday Husband and I witnessed one of those milestones: We sat as observers as one of our boys talked to a health specialist.

This Boy's life began with unexpected complications, and over his childhood we've been the ones to be vigilant of his health. We were the ones who made sure his health history accompanied him to camps and field trips, just in case. We sat with him in doctors' offices and described the symptoms he had noticed and when he had told us he had noticed them. Always, we reminded our son that he was responsible for his body and its workings, and we tried with varying success to not hover.

Last week Boy noticed unusual symptoms, symptoms he'd been warned for years that he might some day expect, and he asked me to make an appointment with our family doctor. The family doctor was concerned enough to send him on to the specialist he's seen before.

"Are you his parents?" the nurse asked Husband and me as we sat in the waiting room. "Why don't you come back with him?"

So we were there as Boy talked to Dr. Awesome about the symptoms he's been having. He described the pain, was able to tell its quality and timing, and could give accurate and diagnosable details. We were there when the doctor compared his latest tests to those already on record. We were there when he told Boy that all was well, and that these new symptoms were not to related to his chronic issues.

The calm with which I write that last sentence is in no way related to the enormity of the relief we felt when we heard it. Mixed in with the relief, though, was a bit of wonder at this new milestone: We are now certain our Boy is competent and willing to take care of his own health issues.

I don't even remember his first step. This is a much bigger milestone.