Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Getting Away

Yesterday Hubs took Little Lady and handed me a paddle after dinner.  I smiled at him in thanks for this gift, grabbed my fishing rod and tackle box and pushed off the sandy beach.  As I settled in on the life-jacket covered cooler functioning as a seat, I smiled again.  With every stroke of the paddle, I fell more in love with the lake, the setting sun, the peace of being out on the water.
It was a fine night, with almost no breeze.  The water was calm and clear.  The sky was a beautiful shade of gold as the sun slowly set before me.  As I silently threw my line out I could her Hubs groaning about the spit up landing on his neck and I smiled again.  I watched the ducks fly overhead, quacking almost as loudly as Little Man calling my name over and over again from the dock.  Still so close to home, yet a whole world away.
These short little get-aways are so needed, so treasured.  Time to be alone with my own thoughts.  Time with nothing to do.  No chins to wipe, dinners to cook, laundry to fold.  No emails to check, bills to pay, garbage to take out.  Just me and a paddle and the hope of a tug on the line.  
I only stayed out for 20 minutes or so before I completely knotted the line and went to trade the tangled mess for the pukey baby.  She smiles more, so it was a good trade.  It feels good to get away and better to come back.  
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."  ~John Muir

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stolen Invincibility

I used to babysit for a family when I was in high school.  Their two year old boy was ridiculously cute and mischievous. After doing something naughty, he would stand in the middle of the room with his eyes closed, grinning and giggling to himself, thinking he was invisible and unable to be caught.  It usually worked out well for him because he was so gosh-darn-adorable I could never stop smiling long enough to reprimand him. 
In some ways, life was a little like that before Jameson got sick.  As parents, we were standing in the middle of the world with our eyes closed, thinking we were invincible.  We are not worriers by nature and the what-ifs and tragedy of the world weren’t something we spent an overwhelming amount of time thinking about.  Ignorance was bliss, you might say.  Not that we turned blindly away from tragedy or felt immune to it, but, honestly, how many people really think something bad will happen to their kids?  Sure, it happens.  To regular people.  Every day.  But deep down, you don’t really think it will happen to you.  You hear of a horrific accident or catastrophic illness taking someone else’s baby and you hold yours a little tighter that night.  You think about how lucky and grateful you are that it isn’t you and then you go on with your life.  We all do it.  Because while we logically know something could happen, we really don’t think it will. 
But I can’t feel that way anymore.  We have been robbed of more than just our child.  Our invincibility has been stolen from us.   And it can be so maddening, this knowledge I would rather not have.  My eyes are no longer closed and I look out and see.  I see what is really out there.   And when Little Man is up the driveway, out of my sight and doesn’t answer me when I call him I can almost see the abduction that really isn’t taking place.  When Little Lady gets a nasty cough, I can’t help but think about every fatal illness that begins with a cough.  Because we are not invincible like most people are.  Bad things have happened to us.  Our kids really can die.  
I’m not a worrier and having these thoughts pisses me off.  I suppose in some ways –if I want to be a freaking Pollyanna over here- I can come up with a few positives about this. Like how now I’m super vigilant so maybe it will save my kids from something bad…isn’t that an awesome thought?  Sigh.  Or how I’m no longer afraid of people living through tragedy.  That scary death stigma that hangs over survivors isn’t scary to me; how can you be afraid of yourself?  Or how we have this reminder of just how fleeting everything is and the perspective it gives.  It frees us up to Carpe Diem so much more.  *Yay*  
I wish I could just be standing in the middle of the room with my eyes closed, grinning and giggling and thinking about how lucky we are.  And we are lucky.  We have two seemingly healthy kids, a strong marriage, and a bright future ahead.  But do you see it even there?  How many of you would say your kids are seemingly healthy?  Ahh, ignorance was bliss. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tick Day

This weekend was the fishing opener in Minnesota.  And it was a perfect weekend to be outside.  The temperature was just right, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the flowers were blooming…it was idyllic to say the least.  Hubs had grand plans to get up and out on the water early to catch some walleye.  But he got up too early and then fell back asleep, not getting out on the water til 6:30.  He didn’t even get a single bite, although I’m sure he enjoyed just being out on quiet water, listening to the loons trill their good mornings.  When Little Man got up, they both went out and didn’t catch any fish. I made carrot cake pancakes to soothe the demoralized fishermen when they came back in.  I mentioned that I was surprised there were no boats on the water today, during the opener.  He replied that the boats were all out where the fishing is good, which is not in our bay.  And it would take all day to get to the good spots in the canoe.  Frustration levels were running high, so we decided to go for a family hike. 

There is a really cool tract of land up here call the Joyce Estate.  We tried to hike it once last fall, but it was the awful weekend I had what seemed to be early labor; after walking a quarter mile, we had to abandon the idea and instead sit on the couch with feet up all weekend, praying Little Miss would stay put.
David Joyce was a lumber baron from Chicago who bought a 4500 acre property on Trout Lake in 1917.  He built himself quite a vacation home.  There were a number of cabins, an entire caretaker’s farm, numerous buildings, tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course and a sea plane hangar.   He spent every summer of his life at his own personal resort and his daughter continued the tradition until her death in 1972; she donated the land to the state in keeping with her lifelong quest to improve the quality of life for people of the Great Lakes.  It is now a nice park with trails and a few campsites.  A number of the buildings are still standing, but the golf course is now a forest.  I think the trail we took may have been the driveway at one point, but I don’t know for sure.  It was a seven mile roundtrip hike.  We stopped at lakes along the way to throw a line out and see if we could catch anything.  Hubs caught a submerged tree on his third cast; after spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to free the lure, he finally settled on snapping the line so we could get on with the hike.  When he yanked the pole up, instead of the line snapping, the pole itself snapped in two and the top half flew out into the lake.  Good start to the fishing opener. 
We hiked.  There were so many beautiful butterflies, birds, budding trees; it was a lovely hike.  Little Man had fun kicking the tall grasses, whacking trees with sticks, jumping over fallen branches.  After about three miles, we reached an empty campsite on the banks of Trout Lake.  I told him he could take off his socks and shoes and wade if he wanted; the next thing I know, he is crying and screaming at the top of his lungs.  “Tick, tick, tick!!!”  And there began the great tick search which lasted the rest of the day.  They were in our hair, crawling inside our shirts, pants, hats…everywhere.  When we got back to the car we stripped down as much as possible and checked everywhere and still found four creepy crawlers during the drive home.  When all was said and done, the conservative estimate is 30+ ticks were removed from our bodies.  Ick.  We were so glad we didn’t bring the dogs! 
Tick Day.  It was a great day and nobody will end up with lymes, so in the end, it just makes fun memories.  Hubby was teasing that the day before Mother’s Day will be known as Tick Day in our house.  I like it; it means we got out and enjoyed nature.  And comic relief is always a good thing during the bittersweet holidays.  
Mother’s Day turned out really nice.  Hubs brought his A game.  He got up at four with Little Lady, made homemade apricot raspberry bread, and woke me at 8:30 with a cup of espresso and the invitation to come to the kitchen for bread, bacon and eggs.  It was a good start to a day filled with nice little things that added up to make a great day.  We went to church, heard a good sermon and enjoyed cake and coffee in the fellowship hall.  I actually squeezed into a pair of pre-pregnancy pants!  After church we had a nice lunch and Hubby did all the dishes while I fished off the dock with Little Man.  I caught a fish, too! Later, Hubs caught a nice Northern and filleted it for dinner.  I made potato salad, baked asparagus and mushrooms, and pike fillets with a homemade herb breading.  They were crispy and delicious with no Y bones!  My man can fillet a fish.
I thought about Jameson and my Angel Baby a lot.  It is hard to celebrate Mother’s Day when half of your kids are in heaven; but yesterday wasn’t a sad day for me.  I focused on the gifts Little Man and Little Lady are, the gift of having grand memories of my sweet Jameson, and the eternal gifts J and my Angel Baby will be.  I thought about getting our first full family picture in 100 years or so when we are all in Heaven together.  This is a good century, but that one, that one will be amazing.  Until then, I’m going to do my best to seize the days, seeking out all the nice little things that add up to make a great life. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake

I made cake.  On a perfectly normal Wednesday.  For no good reason.

See, we had all of these eggs that were about to expire.  Eggs and oranges nobody was eating.  I try so hard not to throw away food, so I had to come up with something. So I thought I could make some orange curd.  And then I started thinking of what we would eat with the curd.  And I thought chocolate cake sounded pretty delicious.

I'd been thinking about it for a day or two, thinking I could hold off until Mother's Day weekend for such a special cake.  And then I realized that this weekend isn't Mother's Day and I can't wait ten more days for this cake.  So I made a Chocolate Orange Curd Cake on a Wednesday for no good reason.

Dinner needed to be easy since the cake took most of the day to make and babies can't be neglected for cooking all day long.  It was so easy and good.

Roasted Cod and Peas.  Super Easy.  Like preheating the oven took longer than making the dinner easy.  And really good, too.  That is my kind of meal!

And then there was cake.

I'm super proud of this cake.  Doesn't it look good?

Usually when I make a layer it cake it ends up looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or an up-side-down bowl with too much filling in the middle, or it is naked on the sides because I run out of frosting.

But this cake, this is perfect. 

I read a tutorial on assembling layer cakes.  Two, actually.  And I made extra frosting and extra curd just in case.  We are going to have cranberry muffins with the leftover curd tomorrow for breakfast.

I had cake for breakfast this morning.  I'm not going to lie; it was really, really good.