Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Musing

I was pondering this morning about how, when I was a kid, I didn't really think much about Memorial Day.  It was a day off, and there was often grilling and swimming.  It was the official start of summer revelry after a year of school.  I didn't really consider those who sacrificed so much so that I could enjoy those picnics in peace, freedom, and safety.  Ah, the blindness of youth.

My grandfather was a decorated veteran, of World War II, I believe (he didn't talk about it).  According to my mother, he faked his age to join the war, so he had two birth years during his life--the official one and the real one.  He didn't die in the war, but he certainly gave a great deal, which is probably why he didn't talk about the experience much.  My mom still has the awards he won.

When I was a child, he was the only person I think I knew who had ever served.  I know a great deal more now, both friends and family through marriage.  My father-in-law is a Vietnam veteran, a Navy pilot.  I know people who fought in the Gulf War and in Afghanistan.  Like my grandfather, they survived these wars, but today reminds me of all they sacrificed.

Thank you to all who have taken time away from your families for not enough pay just to keep us safe and free.  Thank you to all who huddled in trenches, flew planes and helicopters into danger, and suffered through terrible conditions. 

Thank you most of all to those who gave their lives in service.  May you be in the most beautiful heaven of your personal faith, enjoying the rewards for your valor.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Power of Showers

I am convinced that showers (and maybe bathrooms in general) have some kind of mystical power.  I'm not talking about the obvious physical cleaning that takes place in the shower but rather the thoughts that are born there.  Have a problem that needs to be solved?  Need inspiration for a scene that just won't write?  Take a shower, my friends.

I don't know what it is, but as soon as I get in the shower, I start to puzzle over whatever is bothering me.  I've worked out countless plot issues in my book and problems in my life.  The thoughts and inspiration flow like the water, washing away whatever is blocking me.  Come to think of it, what could I do with a waterproof laptop?  I could probably write the next great American Novel, along with a few Broadway plays and Oscar-winning movies.  Well, provided I could overcome prune fingers and an uncooperative water heater.

Tell me, am I alone in this?  Am I the only person who tends to think best in the shower?  Surely, I'm not the only strange one out there.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baby Hugs and Kisses

Early motherhood is a combination of wonderful and grueling, a test of patience and perseverance, and sometimes it is hard to tell if you are doing a good job.  First, you get smiles, then laughs and happy babbling, and these things warm your heart.  But still, though you give your baby hugs and kisses all day long, it can be hard to tell what that means to them.  Babies can't say thank you or I love you.  And sometimes--sometimes, you find yourself doubting your place.  Anyone would do, right?  My baby doesn't really need me.

Then, it happens.  Your baby's first hugs and kisses.

I'd been down lately, dealing with postpartum depression and hormonal crap.  I'd started to feel like I wasn't particularly special to my daughter above anyone else.  Then two nights ago, my husband picked her up off the changing table, and she launched herself at me.  Her little arms squeezed around my neck in an obvious hug, and she smashed her mouth against my face.  Last night, she did the same and again today.

There just aren't words to express how much that means.  All the doubts and the fears fade away in the power of that moment.  My baby doesn't give me hugs and kisses because she has to.  It's not like crying for food or sleep.  These gestures come wholly from her heart, an expression of love so pure it is hard to fathom, and there are few experiences that can really compare.

Mothers may not win awards.  We don't get promotions or raises, and we don't get progress reports to evaluate how well we're doing.  But when you get that first real hug and kiss, it feels better than getting all of those things.  They're a baby's best "thank you."

Rejoice in that moment, your accolade for a job well done.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Sneaky Way to Introduce Avocado

I've read a good bit about making baby food, and I have to say that one of the foods I was most looking forward to giving my baby was avocado.  I mean, avacado is full of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.  It is soft and easy to smoosh.  An obvious choice for one of baby's first foods.  But there was only one problem--my lovely daughter hated avocado.  

I gave up on this wonderful fruit until I ran across this blog post over at Wholesome Baby Food.  It sounded like a great idea, but I didn't get around to trying it until just recently.  I modified her recipe by using a mango instead of half a papaya.  Why?  Well, papaya was around $4-5 at the store that week and mango was $1.50.  I imagine you could substitute other tropical fruits just as successfully.  Basically, I combined and blended:

1 mango
1 avocado
1 quarter of a pre-cored pineapple

I have to say, the recipe is awesome!  It smells absolutely wonderful--you could probably add some ice and make yourself a fruit smoothie with the same stuff.  My daughter can't get enough, even with the addition of her nemesis, avocado.  I've also mixed it with some banana or vanilla baby yogurt.

If you want your picky baby to get some avocado goodness, I highly recommend this recipe.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on the Death of a Madman

I'm pretty sure we've all heard the news--Osama bin Laden is dead.  When I first saw the announcement last night, I was jubilant in our victory.  But that feeling waned quickly into something harder to identify, a feeling that only increased as crowds gathered to celebrate.  I was surprised to find that it was sadness.

Don't misunderstand.  The man was crazy, a murderer who had to be eliminated for the safety of thousands, possibly millions.  I don't mourn that he was killed, and if I was a family member of one of his victims, I would be dancing in the streets for a solid week.  What gets me is the sheer waste of it all.  The waste of a life that was too caught in madness to be saved.  The waste of a soul that could not be redeemed.  He was a natural leader.  What could he have done as a force for good?  For love, peace, and acceptance?  What turns a person to madness and evil so dark? 

I suppose there is no good answer to that.  But I feel that we need to be careful not to fall into a similar kind of callous insanity.  Celebrate, yes.  Innocents have likely been saved by the death of one so terrible.  But remember to celebrate with modesty, with a touch of sadness for potential lost.  Why?  Because to cheer the death of any human with a complete lack of feeling brings us terribly close to the terrorists, to the people in other countries who celebrate in the deaths of Americans without thought.

He has been removed from the world, and that is a good thing.  Now it is up to the Divine to judge and punish him, and we will never know in this life what that punishment will be.  It is left to us to promote peace here on Earth, to try to turn others from the path of mad hatred.

But we will never convince others if we become consumed by that hatred ourselves.