Tuesday, June 28, 2011


When I want something sweet this summer, I have been craving Stupid Popcorn.  I didn't give it its name, but it's totally appropriate. It's stupid because it is so good you absolutely can not stop eating it and eventually it will make you say, "Get this stupid popcorn away from me!"

Stupid Popcorn
4 bags popcorn, popped, lightly salted, unbuttered
2 cubes butter
1 1/3 C sugar
1/2 C light Karo syrup

In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add sugar and Karo syrup.  Bring to boil and cook to softball stage.  While hot, pour over popcorn and stir to coat.

Notes:  Don't overcook the candy.  If you do it will be too hard.  You want it soft and chewy. I usually half this recipe.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sacrifices Unnamed

photo credit: 21centurywaves.com

In honor of the upcoming Independence Holiday, I am reading Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts.  While the speeches and sacrifices of many men have been celebrated throughout history, and rightly so, I have been deeply touched by the quiet, overlooked, and deeply personal sacrifices of many women.

Here are a few examples from Founding Mothers:

The boycotts of English goods is well documented, what is not always understood is the day to day trials such boycotts caused, most of which fell to the ladies as they were responsible for the shopping and running of the household.  One example is the boycott of British cloth.  "American women were forced to manufacture their own, another chore added to the already onerous domestic duties of the day...In the Essex Gazette of Salem, Massachusetts, a letter of May 23, 1769 told of the Daughters of Liberty of Newport, Rhode Island, 'serving their country' by spinning from six o'clock in the morning until six o'clock in the evening (39)."

Perhaps it is because I can not imagine adding spinning to my already too long list of chores, but their sacrifice of time and energy truly spoke to me.  As did this:

"...the morning after the Battle of Lexington, about a hundred American soldiers halted in front of the house of Colonel Pond.  Though only Mrs. Pond and a couple of servants were there, they proceeded to feed all those soldiers, with the help of some neighbors who volunteered their cows for milking (43)."

What an overwhelming job that may have seemed, and yet she did it, singularly and without complaint while depleting her own pantry.  Those kinds of personal sacrifices, done alone, nobly performed in the quiet recesses of one's heart and received without pomp and pageantry--the true equivalent to the widow's mite--are sacrifices that speak of greatness.

And what of Mrs. Draper who responded to Washington's call for lead or pewter?  "Mrs. Draper was rich in a large stock of pewter, which she valued as the ornament of her house....Her husband before joining the army had purchased a mould for casting bullets, to supply himself and son with the article of warfare.  Mrs. Draper was not satisfied with merely giving the material required, when she could possibly do more; and her platters, pans and dishes were soon in process of transformation into balls (44)."

This desire to do more and give all was the power behind the revolution.  The cause of liberty was played out on the world's stage, but it began and was supported by the burning in individual hearts.

When it came time to publish the Declaration of Independence, members of Congress were hiding out in Baltimore, each with a price on his head.  There they "turned to a woman for the perilous job of printing the document, with their names attached, for the first time.  The publisher of the Maryland Journal, Mary Katherine Goddard, bravely printed her own name at the bottom of the Declaration, becoming herself a signer of sorts, firmly associating herself with the dangerous cause of the new nation (45)."

Mary Katherine Goddard, Mrs. Draper, Mrs. Pond--names relatively unknown, and yet names symbolically signed through their sacrifices for a cause in which they believed.  They make me want to be better.  They make me ask, what can I do for this country I love?  How will I respond when called upon to stretch and give for something larger than myself? 

How will I sign my name?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We'll Take the Hit

Softball season has come to an end, and guess who showed?  You got it!  DiMaggio, you were heaven sent!  Second to last game of the season, the deciding game to send us to the Tournament of Champions championship, Logan's first at bat, already 2 outs on the board...

"Why is she so early in the batting order?" I hiss to Thomas.

"I don't think she is."

"Then how is she up already?"  I absolutely can not take the pressure, because here's what flashes in my mind:  Her face after the game when she made the last out.  She was barely holding it together when I met her behind the dugout.  "Hey," I soothed.  "You did great!"

"But..." she whispered, nearly choking on it, "I made the last out.  It's all my fault."

I can't take that again.  Can not.  "Dear Lord, pleeeease, just one tiny--"


"--teeny, tiny, hit."


"--or walk.  I'd totally take a walk."


"--Oh, c'mon!  You can do it, Logan.  Just take the good ones!"


My heart is pounding.  "Please, please--


Nuts.  I turn to Thomas and wheeze, "This girl is gonna' break my heart."  We couldn't have asked any more of her.  She was the tryingest player on the team.  Always giving it her best effort; always enthusiastic; just happy to be playing the game.  I can't help but want to see that kind of effort pay off for anybody, but especially when it's my heart walking out there outside of my body.  I see her shoulders slump as she walks back to the dugout.  "Hey!  Hold your head up.  You did great, Logan!"  There is little else I can do.  That is the hardest part of all.

Then, guess what?  Her next at bat?  Two outs already on the board.  "Again?" I whine.  "How does this always happen?" Mr. Wicke merely shrugs and shakes his head.  I think his heart is beating just as wildly as mine.  We're one strike and one ball in when it happens.

Crack!  The sound propels me to my feet.  A solid hit toward third.  The runner advances to second and Logan is safe at first.  "She did it!" I yell to no one in particular.  "She did it!  Way to go, Logan!"  The next batter hits her home, and she crosses the plate with a smile from ear to ear!  Mine and hers, a matching set. 

I meet her at the dugout.  "Way to go, babe!  You did awesome!  I'm so proud of you," I discreetly whisper to her as she takes a seat.

"Thank, Mom," she beams at me through the wire fencing.  There will be no close-to-tears tonight.

Except for me.  I have to take a little walk before finding my seat again to take a couple of deep breaths, swallow down that lump in my throat, and talk to God for just a second.  Maybe He'll pass along my regards to DiMaggio.

p.s.  She got one more hit that game and another in the championship game.  A great finish to her season!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How I've Written Myself into a Corner

This blog is somewhat troublesome.  It's a love hate thing.  I love it because it's made me practice writing.  And writing for public consumption, which has been inspiring and terrifying.  And I think I've gotten better over these last four years.  That's also a love thing.  But now I feel pressure to write something good.  And a lot of time I don't have time to write anything good.  I'm too busy with stitches and pukey camp trips--both topics that deserve well written posts that may never happen--to actually do the thinking and the coercing and the writing that good writing requires.  And so I write nothing.  For long periods of time.

And I don't know how to bridge the gap.

So tell me, dear Readers--if you are still there--what is better for this blog.  Daily posts that are somewhat mediocre and sometimes meaningless, or infrequent posts that really say something.  'Cause I don't know the answer.

P.S.  This blog has also revealed to me my tendency toward beginning sentences with conjunctions, which is not really acceptable, except that is how I actually talk in life.  I think.  You can weigh in on that one, too, if you want.  Acceptable or annoying?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Two Ugly Words

Potty training.  Those two words absolutely strike fear into my soul.  I hate potty training.  Yes.  I used the word hate, and I meant it.  So what am I doing potty training my 24 month old?  All I can say is:

He started it. 

He did.  He wants to sit on the potty...well, sometimes.  And then he can make pee...most of the time.  And then I went to Costco yesterday and stared at that $40 box of 200 diapers, and I thought, "I can't buy 200 diapers.  I don't think it makes sense."  And so I didn't.  I bought the $30 box of 70 Pull-Ups.  And just so you know I don't know if that makes sense either.

Potty training, in addition to its obvious horrors, is the land of limbo.  Will it work?  When do I start?  Is he ready?  And how many diapers do I need to buy?  What am I doing?

That's the question I ask myself most, and there is no easy answer.  Most of the time I'm just figuring it out as I go.  Except with potty training there is clean up duty.  I hate that.