It’s been over a month since I posted my plea for help with my search for a long lost, fondly remembered story tape about the King of the Raisins. No one responded, and I had just about given up on ever tracking it down. And then this morning the wonderful Lesley Austin posted this comment:
I think I may know this one as I heard this story once. Could it be Jay O’Callahan? We have another of his stories “Raspberries” and have SO enjoyed everything of his we have come across. I can imagine him saying what you wrote.
Lesley, hoorah for you, you did it! I visited Jay O’Callahan’s website and sure enough, there was a “Raisins” story on one of his CDs. I wrote him a note, and he wrote right back to say his was indeed the story I remember. I am thrilled!
Just this morning, Scott was quoting my favorite line from this story. Scott has never heard the tape; like my kids, he only knows the tale from my patchy reminiscences. But as I wrote last month, the bits I remember are inextricably woven into our family vocabulary. Wonderboy woke up a nasty cold this morning, and his nose is, um, disgusting, to put it bluntly. When Scott walked into the kitchen, the Boy beamed at him through the goop and tottered toward his daddy for a wrestle. Scott scarcely flinched at the affront to his shirt (ew) but I heard him mutter, “Horrible, horrible! But I like you anyway.”
So far, ours has been a spring of swoops and dives. Giant up-swoop: Wonderboy is walking! Really and truly walking, all over the house, sometimes clapping for himself as he goes. He can’t get up onto his feet by himself yet, but if you stand him up he takes off like a little wind-up toy. He is walking for the sheer joy of motion, not as a way of getting somewhere, not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself. It is all about the going (which of course I can’t help seeing as a metaphor for our philosophy of education: it’s about process, not product). I wish I could upload video here; I wish everyone could see this eager boy trucking along, he who had to wait seventeen months for mobility. He is a Wonder-of-wonders-boy.
Little down-swoop: He is a boy who scared his mother silly by having a major nosebleed in the middle of a nap one day last week. I went to get him up and aaaaahhhhh! He was lying there drenched in blood. Now you know that given Jane’s history our first thought, whenever there is unusual bleeding involved with one of our children, is going to be ‘low platelets?’ So of course we had to take him in for a blood test, which I am thrilled to say came back perfectly normal. The nosebleed seems to have been merely a change-of-season dryness thing. Whew.
Then three days later I discovered the Boy had a mouthful of sores. Thrush. Ugh. Enough said. (But he’s doing better now, thanks.)
So that was two unplanned doctor visits in the space of a week. A few days later I found a tick happily dining on my stomach. ::::shudder:::: When we pulled him out, his head remained stuck tight. Ugh ugh ugh. I wound up having to go to the doctor on Saturday morning to have it dug out. Not exactly the way I’d planned to start the day of our (big upswoop coming) 11th anniversary. But you know, it sort of fit the ‘so ridiculous you have to laugh’ motif we’ve got woven through this marriage. As a couple, Scott and I seem to be a magnet for misadventures. Somehow we don’t mind, because we love a good story. And you don’t get good story if the roller coaster stays flat. It’s got to swoop.
Salad bar, that is.
I figure I can’t be the only busy mom whose children eat a more healthy diet than she does. I’m always cutting up fruit for them, or telling them to eat some carrots or a banana, but when I’m the one in need of a snack, well, I really really like cookies.
The kids are always singing the fruit-and-veggie song from Signing Time (“Any way you slice it, or dice it, or peel it, it’s gotta add up to five a day”) and this has made me sheepishly aware of how often I fall short of the mark. I know, it’s pathetic, and I ought to be embarrassed to post it here. But like I said, I’m operating under the assumption that I’m not the only one. Please don’t disillusion me. I know you’re out there somewhere, Cookie-Loving Mother Who Hates Chopping Vegetables.
Anyway, I had this brilliant idea (she says modestly). One nice big salad a day can take care of all five servings (and then some) in a fell swoop. (Don’t worry, that’s not the brilliant idea—that’s pedestrian statement of the obvious.) Why don’t I eat more salads, I wondered?
Regarding the latter reason, I realized that I always enjoy salads in restaurants (on the rare occasions on which we dine in one) because they include such yummy tidbits. Pine nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, real bleu cheese. Well, duh, nothing’s stopping me from doing this at home. Just hadn’t occurred to me before.
So I picked up a few of these items and began sprinkling them on spinach salads at home. Yum. Seriously. I’ll eat a giant bowlful of raw spinach just for the sake of a few mandarin oranges. For about a week after I had the Fancy Salads Are Yummy insight, I ate a really delicious and large spinach salad every day. In my convert’s zeal, I gleefully chopped red bell pepper and mushrooms and carrots and other veggies for these princely salads, these superheroes of salads, these I’ll-see-your-five-a-day-and-raise-it salads.
And then Reason #1 reared its very ugly head. All that chopping. All those little bags and containers to take out and put away. All that digging around in the pantry for the precious baggie of dried cherries I found on sale. Too much fuss! Too much assembly required! Cookies come pre-assembled, whispered the voice of sloth in my head. And no mess to clean up afterward…
Which is when the brilliant idea occurred. Maybe it will only seem brilliant to you if you are as culinarily lazy as I am. Maybe it will only further convince you that I am the most pathetic fool ever to set foot in a kitchen. There are those who would agree with you. You know who you are.
Anyway. What I did was to put all my salad fixings in a plastic bin. Boom, one-stop shopping. It’s right there at eye level on the fridge shelf, where I can’t avoid seeing it. Big bag of prewashed spinach sitting on top. In the bin are all the little baggies and plastic containers that I was finding it such a burden to collect from various points in the pantry and refrigerator. Pine nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, real bleu cheese…mmm, just cutting-and-pasting this list from above makes me hungry. (They don’t all make it into every salad, of course, just a random selection. Otherwise there’d be no room for the veggies, which are, of course, the whole point.)
Also in the bin: sliced mushrooms, diced bell peppers, chopped carrots. OK, so it’s not a perfect system: I still have to prep the veggies. But (another duh moment) I’m doing it once or twice a week, at night after the kids are in bed. Then in the middle of my busy day, I can scoop a handful of diced peppers out of a baggie and throw it on my beeyootiful salad. I know, lots of people have thought of this before me. I don’t claim to be innovative. Except possibly in the matter of sticking it all in a bin together so all I have to do is pull the bin out of the fridge and mix-and-match until I’ve got a bowlful.
I am so delighted at the success of my new system that I think I’ll go celebrate with some cookies.
I don’t have time to write much in the way of a blog entry today, so I’m just going to post a list.
Things on My Nightstand (Which Is Technically Not a Nightstand, But Rather a Barstool Standing Beside the Bed):
• A lamp
• A baby monitor
• A small bottle of contact lens rewetting drops (mine)
• A small bottle of Burt’s Bees Milk & Honey lotion (not mine)
• A yellow plastic frog
• A copy of Mossflower by Brian Jacques
• A copy of Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Unset
• Several thousand dollars in Monopoly money
Hmm. Writing this list has given me a flashback. Ninth grade English class. Assignment: write a description of your bedroom. We had to read our descriptions aloud and I remember being puzzled when my classmates laughed at several points during my reading. Not in a mean way, just in an amused way; but I hadn’t intended to be funny and so it confused me that they thought it was. Looking back on it, recalling what I can of my description, I can see now why they laughed. There was something about the yellow walls glowing like sunlight above the grass-green carpet, the "fourteen crumpled pieces of paper from failed attempts at writing a poem" (I remember that phrase exactly because it jumps into my head whenever I toss a crumpled paper toward a trash can and miss), and a bit about melted crayons in the overhead light fixture because my bedroom had formerly belonged to my younger sisters who had bunk beds.
Funny how the only parts I remember twenty-plus years later are the parts people found odd enough to laugh at. Just as the interesting (to me) parts of my nightstand list are the frog and the Monopoly money. (I’m still wondering how they got there, and whether they were part of a single game/event or were brought to this place separately, perhaps by different children. I could ask, but there’s more ‘scope for imagination’ in not knowing for sure.)
So much for my just writing a list.