Friday, January 29, 2010

A Marshmallow World

Have you ever heard the song
A Marshmallow World by Bing Crosby?

It's a marshmallow world in the winter
When the snow comes to cover the ground
It's the time for play, it's a whipped cream day
I wait for it the whole year round...

I love this song. It sums up exactly how I feel about the few precious snow days that we get each year. When I was a little girl, I adored the winter. When the weatherman predicted snow, I'd pray and pray that we'd have a blizzard. And, inevitably, each year we'd receive our few, coveted snow days. No matter what time of night the snow began, my mother would wake us up and let us know, "It's snowing!" The next morning, we'd bundle up tight in layers upon layers of clothes and go play. Our house had a very steep hill in the back yard. The hill went straight down, then leveled off, and there was a shallow ditch between my parent's house and the house behind them and a fence bordering the neighbor's yard. We'd dig the sled and the snow saucer out of the garage and sled down the hill. If you were lucky enough to be on the sled with my dad, then you could zip down the hill, hit the ditch, go airborne and plow into the neighbor's chain-link fence. It was thrilling!

I lived in the same house from the time I was born until I went to college, so this became my favorite family tradition. My parents still live in that house. My sister and her family made the trek out there this morning just so they could sled the old hill. No doubt my mother will make her traditional snowman too. One year, she made a big snowman, decked him out in sunglasses and a sun hat and put our beach umbrella and lounge chair by him. The neighbors loved it. Each year she tried to top herself. Her snowmen are legendary.

When I moved to Alabama, I would cry every winter when I'd see the weather map show white over Tennessee. I missed the snow so so much. Now that I'm back in Tennessee I have my winters back. I have my snow again! Now I'm bundling up little ones to go outside and play. It's no easy feat. I appreciate my my mother even more now because I know what a hassle it is to bundle up little ones. And though I still get amazingly frustrated with the fact that children cannot seem to understand the one-finger-per-finger-slot rule of gloves, I know that the stress of bundling up is well worth it. The warmer my kids are, the longer we can play outside in our marshmallow world.

Today we got about 3 inches of snow, and tonight they are predicting another few inches. I cannot wait!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Goodnight Cynicism

The other night, I watched Conan O’Brien’s farewell Tonight Show and I had, as Oprah would call it an “Aha!” moment. Odd, I know. In a rare serious moment, Conan told his audience that he hoped that they had not become cynical throughout the whole Tonight Show debacle. He said he hated cynicism and that if people worked hard and were kind, they could be truly happy. It was a simple statement that had a profound impact on me.

The next night, as I was cooking dinner, I asked my two oldest kids, “Would you call a half of a glass of water, ‘half empty’ or ‘half full.’ My oldest, looked at me and immediately said, “Half empty.” His brother, in a rare show of solidarity responded, “Half empty!”

It dawned on me that someone had to have taught them such cynicism, and it seemed I was the culprit.

Tonight, while cleaning up the kitchen, I called my mother to chat. She told me that while she was grocery shopping today, a man who looked “quite scruffy” approached her. He was carrying a package of diapers and a small can of baby formula and asked her if she would give him some money to help pay for the items. Taken off guard, she said she told him she didn’t think she had any cash and that he should just talk to the store manager and see if they could work something out... After he walked away, she said she felt badly for brushing him off and proceeded to search her purse for cash. After finding a few dollars and tucking them into her pocket in case she saw the man again, she approached an older store clerk to ask his opinion. He told her to keep her money, that the young man was just a scam artist. She was so worried when I spoke to her on the phone. She kept saying, “I’ll feel terrible if there is a child out there hungry tonight because I didn’t buy that formula.” Apparently, cynicism breeds guilt.

I asked her what my father had said when she told him about the man at the store... My father is an eternal cynic. I just knew he would have told her that the man was a scam artist and she shouldn’t think twice about him... Instead, he told her that she should have taken his groceries to the cashier and paid for them. She said if it ever happened again... she would.

When we’re kids, we believe it all... We actually can SEE the cow jumping over the moon in our big huge imaginations. We don’t question it. We actually BELIEVE we can change the world. We are born optimists and that optimism gives us super-hero strength. We don’t feel small, even though our bodies are...

When we grow up, we become guarded. And in the process, sometimes, we quit believing in the good in people. We start questioning and second-guessing and some of us become pessimists and our strength begins to fade.

After hearing my children’s answer to one small question about a glass of water, I decided that I’m going to work hard to embrace the optimist inside me and start nourishing it.

I explained to my children the difference in the two answers to the glass-of-water question... Not wanting to be cynics (because cynicism, of course weakens super-hero strength),they quickly changed their minds. They now believe the glass is half full.

And I? Well, I’ve decided my cup runneth over ...

Welcome to my blog!

Well, I did it! I jumped into the blog-fog! After watching Julie and Julia awhile ago, I thought.... I can do that! No, I can't cook my way through Julia Child's cookbook (nor would I want to), but I can join this crazy blogger world.

For so long, I thought that blogs were for the self-centered crowd who thought their lives extremely interesting and publishable. I thought this until I read two of my friends' blogs. These two ladies have brightened my day with their words, awakened my palate with their incredible recipes and made each day a little bit sweeter. One muses about the world and her adventures in cooking and travels. The other writes about her genius recipes and how food can nourish the soul if you have all the right ingredients (love being the utmost).

My new little blog is intended to unite all you mothers out there.... I am of the impression that all women have maternal instincts. Whether they have five children or none at all... We all have been blessed with the "mother" gene.

Each day, I find myself laughing out loud at little things that my children or my husband say or do. My mother says... "I hope you wrote that down!!" Usually life gets busy and I don't. Now I have an outlet! So, watch out! I'll be the doting mom... But more than that, I hope this blog will be a forum for you moms out there to weigh in on your experiences. How are YOU today?

So, here goes... Welcome to the Maternal Journal!