Archive for the Five for Ten Category

Letting Go: Update

Posted in Five for Ten, Parenting with tags , , on May 23, 2010 by czriley

If you visited during Momalom’s Five for Ten Challenge, you might have read my post on Courage titled Letting Go. This is a follow up to that post to let you know how it’s going.
We sent them off on Sunday night. The class was all excited and eager to be on their way. We parents had varying degrees of difficulty letting them go. I made poor E give me a hug before he left. “Do I HAVE to?” he asked. “Humor me” I answered. He didn’t seem to mind too terribly much. One of his classmates came bounding back out of the bus just before they left to give his dad a hug – all the parents said “Aw”. Then they drove off. I did not cry, though it wasn’t easy.
Now they’ve been away a week, and so far I’m surviving. It’s funny, but we’re so busy with the other 2 kids and all the usual stuff around here that I don’t have much time to sit around and miss E. Oh, I do miss him, but I’m not inconsolable or worrying about him every waking moment. Which is a good thing. We’ve had one brief message from one of the teachers, just a general message that everything was going well. And one photo. No word, otherwise. Which falls under the old “no news is good news” cliche.
I have been looking up maps online to see where, exactly, they are each day. And I’ve been checking the weather in those places, too. And feeling jealous – the night time low in New Orleans the other day was higher than our daytime high! The class is on their return leg now, and will be home on Wednesday. Can NOT wait to see E again.
Meantime, his 12yo sister, T, is heading off on a week long field trip tomorrow. G will be an only child for about 3 days. He’ll love it, I’m sure. It will be kind of fun to have just one for a bit – haven’t had just one since E was 4! But it will also be awfully quiet around here.
Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Missing E, but doing okay. And I’m sure he’s doing ok, too.


Warm Artichoke Passion

Posted in Five for Ten with tags , , on May 16, 2010 by czriley

I will never forget my first time. Who could, really? From that very first bite, it was a life-changing experience.
The evening had started out fairly normal. We were invited to my boss’s house for a company party. We arrived, ready to enjoy ourselves. Just how much pleasure we would find, we could never have guessed.
My boss let us in, then steered us towards the kitchen where his wife was giving the finishing touches to a lavish display of taste tempting treats. And there, I saw it for the first time. The warm and oh so decadent Artichoke Dip. Fresh from the oven, it beckoned me with its amazing aroma. I took the offered tortilla chip, and gently dipped it into the creamy goodness. The first mouthful was a revelation. My taste buds exploded with pleasure. It was the most amazing thing I had ever tasted! I couldn’t get enough – I had to have more! I did try to restrain myself – there were other people present, after all. But it was so hard! I just wanted to cradle the bowl in my arms as I wolfed down the contents.
Later, I was able to persuade my boss to give me the recipe. Such joy, such bliss – now I could recreate that magical moment. But then, I paused. That first time was so very special – would it be as special the second time around? To this day, I do not know. I have somehow misplaced that magical recipe, and long since lost touch with that former boss. But I will always cherish that first, very special, time.


Posted in Five for Ten with tags , on May 15, 2010 by czriley

Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing. Slow, insidious, unstoppable. At first it’s almost like it’s toying with it’s victim. They know something is wrong, can feel themselves starting to slip, but there is little that can be done to stop the slow loss of memory, of self.
At first, it was just little things with my grandmother. She’d forget conversations she’s had minutes before, or get confused easily. Later on, she didn’t recognize her sons all the time. She once told my father “You can’t be my son. You’re an old man!” Funny, and yet poignant. The one person she never seemed to forget was my grandfather. Married for over 70 years, he was the one memory she had left.
I was able to visit her near the end. I was back in Indiana for my other grandmother’s funeral (it was a bad year for grandmothers in my life). I drove over to see my grandparents, feeling like if I didn’t visit then I might never see them again. The grandmother I’d known all my life wasn’t there. She’d been replaced by a stranger in a wheelchair. I knew she probably wouldn’t recognize me, but I’d still cherished the hope that there’d be some glimmer, some spark of recognition. Nothing. For all she knew I could have been a complete stranger. I suppose that’s only fair – she was a stranger to me, too. Nothing remained – she was a child trapped in an old woman’s body. So hard to see her like that, though we’d never been especially close. Harder still to see my grandfather trying to put a brave face on it.
I was glad I’d been able to visit, because 5 months later she passed away. Peacefully, in her sleep, with my grandfather by her side. Now all that’s left are memories.

Green Onion Longing

Posted in Five for Ten with tags , , on May 14, 2010 by czriley

Lady Lee Green Onion Dip. Just typing the name makes my mouth water. So delicious – rich and creamy. Perfect on Ruffles. It was addicting. We started buying two tubs at a time, because one just wasn’t enough. And this wasn’t even some fancy, big brand name, just the store’s in-house brand. I have tried many different flavors of pre-made dip from many different stores. None of them has even come close to how good this dip was.
Yes, you read that right, I said “was”. Sadly, the store discontinued that particular dip. The replacement was horrible. Since then I have searched, trying every Green Onion dip I can find, but none of them has been as good. So I’m left with only the memories. Nothing will ever replace you, dearest Lady Lee Green Onion Dip. You will be first in my heart, and taste buds, forever.

A Boy and a Dog

Posted in Five for Ten with tags , , on May 13, 2010 by czriley

A boy. A dog. Sounds familiar – a story told so often it’s part of all of us. But this time, it was a different story.
The boy, in a wheelchair. His family applies for a Service Dog. They do the paperwork, the interview. They expect to wait, maybe as much as a year, to receive a dog. Instead, they get the phone call almost immediately “We have the perfect dog!”
The perfect dog. Eli. Born in my house. Raised in military brig, then did his advanced training. Big, yellow, 2 years old. Ready to meet his person.
I was not at their meeting, but I can imagine it must have been love at first sight. They spend 2 weeks together, learning to know each other, practicing all the Service dog things. Bonding. At the end of the 2 weeks – graduation. The boy and his mother go up on stage. His name is called, then Eli is called and someone walks Eli up on stage and hands his leash to his new boy. Hugs all around, and a huge smile on the face of the boy, a wagging tail on the dog. And the boy says words to the audience that still reduce me to tears “Now I have the best friend I’ve never had”.
After graduation, a friend takes a picture for me of the boy and his dog. The boy is still smiling, a million watt smile, as he hugs the big yellow dog in his lap. And I am still crying with the joy of it.

French Onion Bliss

Posted in Five for Ten with tags , , on May 12, 2010 by czriley

Ah, happiness! It can be so many things to so many different people – a warm puppy, a smile, a good book. But to me, true happiness is a big bag of Ruffles (™) and French Onion Dip.
Oh, you all know this dip, made with a packet of onion soup mix and 2 cups of sour cream. The recipe says to let it set in the fridge for a few hours to “let the flavors blend”. But I say to heck with that! I like it best fresh, when the dehydrated onion bits are still a bit crunchy. Oh, the sheer joy of plunging each salty chip deep into this cool concoction – it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. It is definitely a guilty pleasure – you know the stuff in the onion soup mix ain’t what you’d call healthy. But it’s so good I just can’t help myself. Definitely comfort food.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a fresh batch and a big bag of chips waiting for me – time for a little happiness!

Letting Go

Posted in Five for Ten with tags , on May 11, 2010 by czriley

If you’ve read yesterday’s post on courage, you may be expecting more silliness. Never fear, there will be plenty more silliness from me this week. But I also wanted to write something less silly. So here’s my serious take on Courage.


As I was sitting at my computer, trying to think of something serious to write about Courage, the soundtrack in my mind began playing something solemn and pompous. Courage. I could almost see the fireworks, the choir, the flags flying. And I thought of all the usual images we associate with courage – soldiers on a battlefield, firefighters running into a burning building. But what about the things we don’t usually think of? Where is the hidden courage? The things that, at first glance, don’t even look like courage?

Letting Go
Motherhood is about many things, but the one I’m noticing the most right now is the letting go. It started as soon as my oldest son, now nearly 15, was born. From being part of me, now he was a separate person. I can still recall the very first time we left him with a “sitter” – his grandma – for all of about 15 minutes while T and I walked around the block. I think it took T more than 15 minutes to convince me to go! E was asleep, and of course I trusted Grandma with him. But it had to have been the longest 15 minutes of my life. After that first, traumatic, time I got used to leaving E with both sets of grandparents for short periods of time – never without a little tug at my heart as we were leaving, but I could go and enjoy myself without worrying. At least not worrying too much.
Next – preschool. We went to a parent participation school, which meant I was with him one day out of the 2 or 3 days he went each week. A little more space between us, but still close. Then kindergarten. Here the space between us widened – he had his own world now, his own friends, and I couldn’t be there. More tugs at my heart, but I got used to this, too.
Next big stretch was his first overnight field trip in 3rd grade. 4 days, 3 nights – I could barely stand the thought. But in the end T got to go along, and I heaved a sigh of relief. I missed them both, but with T there I knew E would be okay. And T has managed to go on most of E’s overnight field trips since then, and every time I am still relieved.
But now, looming over me in just under a week is the EIGHTH GRADE TRIP. The class is taking a bus trip across the country. They’ll be gone more than a week. And no parents are going – just 2 teachers. And, suddenly, that walk around the block when he was a baby seems like nothing. More than a week? Without me? Without T? How will I survive it? What if he needs us? Who understands him and will protect him like we do? Seriously, it’s bringing tears to my eyes just thinking about it! I look at him, taller than I am now and gaining on his dad. Those wonderful clear blue eyes, the messy blond hair – I can still see that tiny baby from so long ago. When did he become this tall, strong young man with the deep voice? It happened too fast, as it always does.
So in just under a week I will have to take courage from the strength I see in him, and let go again.