Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Happy Birthday Dad! Can I have the candy bar now?

Today would have been my father's 81st birthday (did I count that right Mom?) And so he is on my heart and memories are flowing. Here he is as a little boy in Milwaukee. Isn't he cute?

Here he is as a little boy in Milwaukee. Isn't he cute?

One memory that Ethel reminded me of  is a small incident of tough love from childhood that has served me well all my life.

My Dad, a full blooded Italian--though American born,  had a big heart, loved hugs and was occasionally prone to tears. But, when need be, he could be tough.

So, there I was standing near the check out at the local drug store staring at a large rack of candy bars. Dad had said we three kids could each pick out a candy bar. This was not a regular thing, though Dad had a soft spot for sweets. Candy was usually reserved for Halloween, Easter and Christmas. But, for whatever reason, he said we could pick one out. My brother and sister quickly grabbed their favorites, but I was stuck. The Hershey bar or the Nestle's Crunch? Or maybe a Snickers? Special Dark or Milk Chocolate? Wait...maybe M&M's.

This indecision went on so long, and with so many threats to "Hurry up!" that my Dad finally said "That's it! No candy bar for you!" and he checked out without my candy choice.

I am sure I cried. Sweets were  are very important to me. But I can remember vowing to never let indecision paralyze me, especially when it came to inconsequential things, or those of medium consequence.

I have often thought about this memory when life's little decisions become difficult, everything from "Whats for dinner?" to "Do I make a doctor appointment about this?". I can't claim to be a great decision maker--after all, down deep I am still the same kid who couldn't choose a candy bar--but the little hard lesson early on reminds me that indecision comes with consequences. Real life consequences. Sometimes you just have to move forward no matter how unsure you are.

And it also gives me hope that those things that I nag my kids about, the ones that I think they will never get, may just sink in enough to serve them well someday when they are on their own.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Famous Cookie Dough Analogy

Picture from this recipe.
This is not an endorsement of said recipe. 

So I was trying to think of something to write and I searched my computer for the word "blog".  I know I have lots of documents in which I have quickly scrawled brilliant blog post ideas, most of which never made it to the blog. This is mostly because, on second thought, they weren't so brilliant. Although some of the time, as in today, it is because I went back to the note and had no idea what the heck I was thinking.

Today I ran across a document called "blog/cookie dough analogy".

Now that is enticing! What brilliance lays buried there?

Whatever it was, it is apparently still buried. Here is the only sentence written on that page:

You can’t fix the cookie dough once you put that tablespoon of salt in it. 

Wow! Profound...don't you think?

I can't, for the life of me, remember what I thought was so brilliant about this and what analogy was coming from it. It could be that I thought there should be some great lesson in the destruction of cookie dough...I mean beyond "NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!".

I do recall the story behind it. It is family legend.

We were making cookies with my mother and I believe there were some neighbor kids involved, in addition to my sister. Legend has it that I added multiple tablespoons of salt to the batter. In reality, it was probably just one. I am sure I misread teaspoon as tablespoon and it couldn't have been any more than one.

My mother thought she would save the day and multiply the recipe to accommodate the extra salt. Apparently it doesn't work that way. The giant triple sized recipe still tasted bad.

Lesson learned...when the mistake is salt, and it is huge, just start over.

So....writing prompt: apply this to life.

This is an analogy for......

I won't eve try to apply the lesson to the election in any way...trying to make any statement without offending anyone is like adding a half a cup of salt instead of a half teaspoon...ruin that cookie dough!

Well, how about this....some days, as a mom, you start with a huge dose of saltiness. And...and....those days need a do over, start again, go back to the beginning.....

That's it!! (here I can imagine Lucy yelling and Charlie Brown tumbling over)

I think this analogy applied just today.

You know when you somehow get on the wrong footing with a kid. You start down the path of grumpy, challenging interactions. And your thermostat keeps rising and the kid's attitude keeps getting, ummm... saltier, and you are headed straight to a disastrous and disappointing day batch of cookie dough. 

That is when you need to stop the escalation, don't triple down on that "What did you just say?" or that "What did I just tell you to do?".

Just start over. 

Go back to the beginning. (Why do I picture a drunken Portuguese swordsmen when I say that?)

Somedays that means a little dash of humor, a moment or two of easy direction following, and an offer to help with that writing prompt. Some days it means someone (read: me) needs to be sent to her room to cool off. Some days it means some other one (read: kid in question) needs to cool down in quiet.

But most of all, what is needed is a fresh start.

For some reason I have this incredible urge to bake cookies right now.

Maybe the kid sequestered in said room would like to help.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Important "Lessons" Learned from Hallmark Movies

True confession---I watch Hallmark movies. Yes, those silly romantic movies staring old TV stars and written for every holiday. Sometimes you just need to be able to watch TV without worrying about what you might see or hear--no autopsies, serial killers, or nudity. Just inane dialogue with a happy ending. 

However, they are not all fluff. I have learned important lessons from Hallmark movies. Here are just a few: 

1. All good people love dogs. If someone does not respond with the appropriate cooing and fussing to a dog, they are a bad guy. You especially should never consider marrying that person. 

2. All good people work for charities or companies that produce alternative fuels. No exceptions. Okay...they can own a bakery, but they have to do it "from the heart" and for the shear "love of making people smile". 

3. There are only really three plots for romantic comedies: 

A: boy meets girl, falls in love, one of them moves away, comes back engaged to a dog hater, and then re-falls in love with original old flame. 

B: boy meets girl, they hate each other, then are thrown together in an uncomfortable situation in which they fall in love (usually happens over very short time....unless it is the next plot)

C: boy and girl of rival families who hate each other (rival business, family feuds, whatever) and fall in love but have to hide it from the family. Spoiler the rom-com version of this they don't commit suicide. They usually all become friends and the couple marries.  

4. If a father is sports-minded, his son will want to go to Art School. 

5. Similarly, if the son is NOT sports-minded he must want to go to Art School.

6. Deciding to get married is "taking a chance". If it is the right person, you will just know, and then live happily ever after. Unless you are unlucky and your spouse decides they really hate dogs. Then you are out of luck. Shouldn't have taken that chance, huh?