Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Entries from March 1, 2008 - April 1, 2008

Entries from March 1, 2008 - April 1, 2008


I Want A Tattoo

I want to get a tattoo. When I was turning forty I asked my husband what he thought of the idea, he thought tattoos were cheap and tacky. I took up walking marathons and drinking coffee instead. I still want a tattoo.
Tattoos are not the rebellious culture defying statement of individually they were 10 years ago. That’s because so many of us forty-somethings used tattoos to express our individually. According to Elizabeth Hayt’s New York Times article “Over-40 Rebels With a Cause: Tattoos”, 9 percent of women ages 40 to 64 years old have at least one tattoo. I have several friends with one. Nose piercing with tiny little studs seem to be the cutting edge of individuality among my friends and acquaintances. A stud in my nose does not appeal to me. I, rather, remain part of the non-nose stud crowd. I still want a tattoo.
My mother didn’t have a tattoo, and my 17 year old daughter doesn’t have a tattoo, nor my 12 year old one for that matter. A tattoo marks a different path of aging than in my mom’s generation, and means I am one step ahead of my daughter's (for now).
Fifty years should be marked by something different, a little adventure, something mildly annoying to the kids and shocking to any future grand kids. Something more permanent than blue streaks in my hair, and less expensive than a red BMW convertible. Fifty years shouldn’t have to be celebrated with something sensible. Sensible is what my grandmother would have enjoyed.
The problem of course is I asked my husband what he thought on the subject and he seemed to think, because I asked for his opinion, he had some say in my decision. I am wondering how long the statute of limitations applies to that conversation. I’m 48 now. That one little conversation was eight years ago. He was not so ungracious to come right out and tell me not to get a tattoo, he just let me know he didn’t like the idea. If I check with him again and he is still of the same frame of mind, I still won’t get a tattoo. Not because I can’t, but because his opinions do effect my personal decisions. That is part of what being married is.
But what if I go ahead and just get one…..

Maybe I will see how much that BMW convertible costs first…
What about it girls, anyone want to share her tattoo story?

Making Friends After a Certain Age

I have watched friends struggle with this, I just never though it would happen to me. The reality is, it is easier to make friends when your children are younger. Without realizing it, our lives overlap in several areas; we are in play groups, MOPS groups, church groups, sports groups, car pools and neighborhoods together. There are many interconnected circles of relationships we take for granted during those busy years of parenting young children. We depend on each other to survive and thrive. Play groups and MOPS are sanity savers for new moms. A chance to talk with someone over four feet tall, who speaks in complete sentences, won’t ask you to wipe her bottom, and who will willingly share the chocolate she had stashed in her child’s diaper bag are as significant a bonding experience as a Marine surviving boot camp with her platoon. It is the stuff that life long friendships are built on.
As your kids grow, you see each other at church, at elementary school, play dates and sports events. It is all too easy to take for granted that you will always be able to make friends.
Life, however; does not stay static. You may move, the kids schools are switched every year (something that happens frequently where I live. School boards that are more concerned about numbers than children is a subject for another time), your spouse discerns God’s call to serve in a different church body, the neighbors you loved and knew forever move….the circle of relationships that allowed you to make friends, begins to dissipate. Your children grow older; they no longer need you to arrange play dates. The struggles of balancing new motherhood, elementary school and middle school kids are past, and with that passage are gone the opportunities that bond women one to another.
Friends with older children have tried to relate how isolated they felt as their circle of relationships changed. Snug (or smug if you prefer) in my cozy, consistent world, I was not as sympathetic as I am now. Experience is a great teacher.
My children are older, we are in a new church body, and most of the women in this body have established friendships, and I am lonely. The temptation is to blame my circumstances: If those women were friendlier, if my husband could just have been content were we were, if we had another child (ha!).
I realize that the women in our church are not unfriendly; most work outside the home and serve at church. A significant number have young children. They are very busy. It will take time to find my place in this new social circle. I am trying; in the mean time I am lonely.
I could demand that my husband fill that loneliness. I have learned through demand and error, that while he makes a great husband he doesn’t make a great girl friend. Demanding he be what he is not created to be will strain our marriage.
I could get a job and be around other people in the work place. That will probably happen in the future. For now I am going to finish homeschooling my daughter through middle school.
The amazing thing about being a follower of Jesus is even in the struggles of life, I live in hope. I don't need to blame my circumstances or demand circumstances change to suit me. While being honest about my struggle and the pains assoicated with it, (I truly am lonely) I have seen God is faithful through other common life struggles. I know that as I look to Him, He will teach me about Himself an in the process, even in the struggles woth loneliness, there is hope. And Hope does not dissappoint.
5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5


The Other Woman

It is the way of the world...the oldest of betrayals...the other woman…in our son’s life. There has to come a time when a son transfers his allegiance to another. One with a different vision for his life, for his time, his future, and the length of his hair. One that must, and should, in the normal flow of life, replace that of his parents. He and his lady friend evidently think the appropriate age for this transfer of loyalty is sixteen. I am thinking…no.

I am willing to concede the hair length issue to her. I have to admit that he dresses better and showers more often now that the other woman has entered the picture. For a while there, he was even cleaning his room regularly, but as time has gone by, he has reverted to his sloppy ways. He has developed a greater willingness to watch Gilmore Girls reruns with his sisters and me. We think it is because of all the chick flicks he watches to please his girlfriend. He will not watch Hanna Montana with the rest of us, even to please her.

We see less of him. Family times are now being planned around the schedule of someone who we did not know existed just twenty-two short months ago. Rules that conflict with their desires (particularly in the area of how late one may stay on the phone on a school night when you are pulling C’s in school, or the requirement to go to church and not the movies Sunday night ) are relegated to the level of “unreasonable parental control.”

She asked him to her prom, and then informed him that boys pay for the tickets. They think we are unreasonable balking at picking up the tab for an $80 plus night on the town. I would find their united front that he should pay, and we should “help” highly amusing, if…it was someone else’s kid. If they should marry and have a child, I am buying that future grandchild a drum set for its 4th birthday.

The battle between mother and girlfriend is as old as time. I have a wonderful mother-in-law, so I was not on the girlfriend side of the conflict. I am surprised to be on the mother side.

After all, these conflicts are minor skirmishes, not an out and out war. Our son is underage and living in our home, as far as bids for independence, so this is not so bad. These types of conflicts will melt away with the passage of time.

In all honesty, I like the other woman in my son’s life quite a bit. I wish they had met 6 years from now; however, I accept I am not in control of the universe. Or the length if his hair.


Brave New Parenting World

We gave our thirteen-year old her own laptop for Christmas this past year. She has been writing stories for years on an older laptop given to her by one of her friends. Her friend is Korean, and all the commands used Korean symbols, but that did not stop our daughter from learning to use the laptop to write her stories. She started making videos with her friends and had her own web site. The Korean laptop gave up the ghost last fall. What pushed her dad into deciding to get her her own laptop was our daughter mentioning, in passing, she had taught herself to program in Java. Her dad is a programmer, had she mentioned she had taught herself to perform open-heart surgery, he could not have been more proud.

It seems with each new addition of technology there are new parenting challenges. Obviously, we have concerns about the misuse of the laptop. The internet is a wild, wonderful place for a young teen, but so it New York City . We would not let our thirteen-year-old wander where she wants in New York without strict guidelines. The internet is no different. We do not watch her like a hawk as she uses her laptop, but we do keep an eye on what she and her friends are doing.

Enter brave new world: I let her take her laptop to a friend’s house so they could do their homework together. I did not even think to mention to the other mom that our daughter had her laptop with her. Those parents (and rightly so) are very careful about their daughter’s internet use and do not allow their child unprotected access to the web. Someone in their neighborhood has Wi-Fi. The girls discovered this playing with the laptop. While girls didn’t go anywhere they shouldn’t, the other parents were not at all happy with my husband and me for sending an unprotected computer into their home. An apology and an explanation of my own ignorance in letting our daughter take her laptop into their home was called for. I willingly gave it and it was graciously received.

Brave new world indeed...


Laurie Colwin

home%20cooking%202.jpgWhen the kids were little I was often bogged down in the dailyness of life. I could work all day and at the end of the day I had very little to show for my efforts. A day spent cleaning, cooking, playing with the kids, seeing friend, praying, teaching, instructing and nurturing didn’t look like much, even though those efforts consumed my time and energy. I would be caught up in the details and lose the big picture of how to enjoy family life. Like a lifesaver tossed just in time to a drowning woman, I stumbled across Laurie Colwin’s wonderful book “Home Cooking”.

I devoured that book. She wrote about food as more than sustenance, making a meal as an act of love after a busy day. At the time Laurie was married, with a young daughter and a thriving writing career. She was busy and yet had time to cook. She had chapters titled Creamed Spinach, How to Fry a Chicken, Feeding a Crowd and Feeding the Fussy. She made the process cooking for my family something beyond the next thing to check off in order to survive that day. An act of creativity, of bring together thought and passion and process to produce something worth the effort. Something that could make a difference and not clutter the house.

I made gingerbread from scratch, with a lovely vanilla sauce. I made beef stew, not a family favorite. Cream spinach can be either comfort food or an elegant side dish. And bread, I baked and baked and baked loaves of her simples bread recipe. Hot dogs, mac and cheese from a box and canned soup appeared less and less on my table. Food prepared: with a knife, spices of my own choosing and time, began to be common fare in our home.

Laurie’s book inspired me and I started branching out on my own. Home cooking, to my surprise was a creative outlet and an intellectual challenge that as a mom of 3 under 4 years of age, I enjoyed. Pancakes can be made without a mix! Spaghetti sauce in a jar can be transform with time, spices, soy sauce and meat into something sublime. Homemade pizza is cheaper and easier to make than you might think. The intellectual challenge in case you were wondering was how to get in and out of the supermarket with 3 small kids in tow and than actually get the food cooked and on the table. Planning for the invasion of Normandy would have been a snap for a mother of multiple preschoolers.

I remember making my first roast beef. I had never spent that much money on a piece of meat before and I was scared to put it in the oven. Roast beef, it turns out, is the perfect prepare-it and forget-it-for-a-while meal. The only thing easier is roasting a turkey.

Laurie died suddenly in 1993. Her last book entitled “More Home Cooking” was published that same year. I still mourn that here will be no new books from this writer to inspire another generation of woman bogged down in the dailyness of life to cook and enjoy the process and the blessing of a well made meal. Both “Home Cooking and More Home Cooking” are available though the used books sellers at and

You can get recipes for anything off the internet. What makes Colwin’s books worthy of your time and shelf space is that she was, and still is a wonderful, inspiring writer. I reread “Home Cooking” every couple of years. Then I head to the kitchen.

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