The Things They Say

The Things They Say

It’s been a long day coming. Too long. But, it is time and-
we are headed to the new abode of Todd’s grandparents. 91 and 94 years old. They are amazing.
It’s been about a year since they moved out of the home they owned, where they raised all their children and also some grandchildren, and even sheltered and played a part in caring for great-grandchildren.
Now, they live somewhere new. Somewhere that provides support and care while still allowing Grammy to live with and care for PopPop.
None-the-less, it is a different drive through Bethlehem- heading to this new place. There are some small people in our big van who are a wee bit confused.
We pull up to the curb outside the expansive building.
There is little girl chatter behind Todd and I…. suddenly, we hear, rising above
the conversation, a clear, distinct voice-
I look back and see one small girl looking out the window
she  states
clearly- announcing and explaining to her sisters:
“Now she lives in a hotel….”
Todd and I laugh out loud. We laugh long and full of joy. It does look like a hotel. It does have some of the same amenities. It is clean and well-tended.
The things they say.
Note: they sent us out with armfuls of provisions: juice boxes and water, Grammy made sure to have on hand just for us. Cookies for Todd. I ponder their love, and her generous hospitality.
I will never forget.

The Things They Say (Food Allergy Edition)

 

A very special allergen safe restaurant One Dish Cuisine is most likely closing (and we are so sad).

 

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Just a couple weeks ago- on the twins’ birthday actually- (before we knew the restaurant would most likely shut down), we ventured out and fulfilled what has been a long time wish- to go to One Dish. Asher ordered a Burger and Fries freely off the menu- and enjoyed it wholeheartedly; I bit back tears. I did. Something so simple, yet truly so profound. To eat freely.

So, I made an effort to get there one more time, and he ordered pizza and a coke- to go. Something he had really wanted to order and experience.

He received it and brought it out where we were all waiting. It smelled amazing. It looked amazing. So many years eating daiya– and NEVER eating melted cheese outside a restaurant with Todd alone- I can’t tell the difference. Or- maybe it was inner panic. I don’t trust myself. That’s the thing about food allergies. You can’t tell by looking. Cracker A and Cracker B. They can look the same, but one be fatal. This is real life.

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After observing the delicious pie, I went back in just to double check with the staff that it was truly safe and dairy free. The restaurant has two menus- a blue menu and a green menu. Dairy is part of the green menu but handled very carefully. They do make dairy cheese pizzas. He ordered off the blue menu- but compulsively- I had to double check. I actually triple checked. The (dairy anaphylactic) owner had made it herself. She confirmed, but she was a little vague- and they (the staff) said things like: if we handed it to you and said blue menu, you’re good. Well, they didn’t hand it to me, and he didn’t remember if they said blue menu. And he ordered himself. However, he did state clearly blue menu, and we were very clear on no dairy for the other things we ordered. So, there you go.

Then we got into the car, and I realized I actually felt nauseous as the (wonderful) smell filled the van, and he got ready to enjoy his first piece. Pizza. (Pizza equals death) All the children were like: It smells amazing! Can’t you smell the daiya? I couldn’t tell.

Asher is eating it, and I am checking in. I am struggling mightily to just be chill and “cool.”

He remarks wryly, “This is exactly the paranoia that keeps us food allergy people alive. However, in this situation, I think it is okay to dial it back a level.”

I laugh. I grin. I love that son so much. O, I love him!

He also notes astutely, chewing a delicious piece- (aware of his own body and reactions thanks to Johns Hopkins’ careful handling), “I would be reacting already if this was dairy.”

Indeed, I realize he would have known at the first bite.

Lord, forbid! The responsibility is unrelenting.

Keeping the food allergy people alive

(and it is true).

The Things They Say

P.S. He finished that large pizza today, and it was delicious!

 

The Things They Say and Do

Much work in the kitchen these past two days…

prepping for Scout camp; prepping for PA

I bustle about here and there… and catch

these moments…

Small (not so small) son, …working in the kitchen a bit, dishes up; dishes away;

after a joint endeavor betwixt his older sister, me, and him- getting him packed-

his footlocker sorted; his clothing status assessed; it is a work!

I walk by him and hear him ruminate reflectively:

“I am going to a foreign land…”

his quiet murmur as he faces his first away camp week scouting; he reflects on what’s ahead.

A foreign land? I comment, smile,  then grin. O, the grand adventure in scouting for these boys.

The Things They Say!

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I am moving in and out of the kitchen. Cooking, cooking. Abi is at the counter; Nate at the stove.

Suddenly, a little girl (M) comes loudly limping “across” the house from Family room to Dining room.

Her irregular gait loping by us three (we, –perplexed)

I, abrupt, — hustling,

with the mom eagle eye laser focused on one of my own:

“Why are you limping?” I {almost} bark- no nonsense mode at hand.

Little girl, with a declarative cry:

“I’m trying to be a pirate, a pirate!”

Two teens and I catch eyes; incredulous look rippling from face to face-

Oh! — how we laugh. Taken utterly by surprise-

our small pirate.

The things they say {and do}

The Things We Say

At the table-

at the end

of one long day.

Sweet son and I.

Mulling. Ruminating. Discussing… yet – one.more.time.

We had spent most of the day in Virginia just outside of Harrisonburg. And, O! the memories for me on that drive south. Mountains, beauty, rural countryside. And, Virginia.

We immersed briefly in a different culture while there. In his words, “it was rural.”

And, we ponder.

“It was just a different culture…” he says- “those 8 muddy jeeps and the off-road militia shirts on the guys [from the red-clay caked jeeps] coming into the restaurant [where we stopped for dinner]”- “West Virginia/Virginia signage with the big, black guns.”

I nod and laugh. The jeeps were lined up in a row next to our big, white van.

We head home and the minute we cross the Maryland state line- we are swept into the aggressive traffic. Maryland drivers! It’s a real thing. The pace of the freeway; the spirit of the drivers; the angsty need to keep up, keep on. It was distinct. Even if we hadn’t seen the sign, we would have known. Maryland.

“It’s just a different culture,” he says.

I listen. I nod.

I say, “And what did you think about that culture?”

He shrugs. “It was just different.”- not quite willing to put into words all that it was and all that it wasn’t.

Then, I say, “Maybe you should go to PA,”

[PA is codeword for Pennsylvania by people from there in case you wondered- and maybe didn’t know..]-

and- [he has some possible college choices there].

We look at each other.

In unison,

“It’s more chill there.”

We laugh.

The Things We Say.

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The Things They Say Part 2

I am gathered together with my teens in the music room.

We are an indomitable late-night crew.

Tall Son is home from college

– and we are drawn like moths to flame–

to each other.

The talk turns to sports and the local christian school sports team some of the boys have played/play for:

And basketball- because one son plays soccer. And we circle round whether he should have played basketball, too– we chit– and we chat–

and then suddenly- Tall Son rallies! He tells brother he would have been sitting on the (basketball team) bench.

Said son deflects all perfectly- perfect delivery, absolutely no angst:

“I am a bench warrior; let me tell you! If I get the exercise I need in practice, mission accomplished. Then I can cheer on the team from the bench, which is what I do best!”

He rubs his knuckles on his chest and then blows on them.

He is the soccer man- and if he can maintain condition for soccer- everything else is icing on the cake.

“I am a bench warrior”- The Things They Say.

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That same night- two sons duel in falsetto.

I share the story of a small son (who is now basically a man on that very couch) many years ago- singing Christmas Carols perfectly in a sweet, high-pitched voice: “Falalalala-lala-lalala!”

Back and forth they sing an ad-lib, high-pitched duel.

I laugh so hard, I cry.

I share the story of my sister- with whom I would often laugh until I cried when I was young– late at night. We called it the “Daze Stage.”

It felt so happily familiar.

To laugh myself silly with my loves.

The Things They Say (or Sing)

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I am immersed in a writing intensive with my freshman daughter.

We are working hard through much difficulty.

She crafts a compare/contrast essay on  Acro-Dance and Gymnastics.

The course utilizes a computerized scoring system and writing improvement tool called PEG.

We groan as we work with PEG; we determine to “trick” PEG; we won’t stop until PEG’s points go higher. I am relentless. She is determined. She is a force to contend with in her fixed focus toward completion. On, on.

PEG doesn’t like “acro,” we have to name it acrobatics. So, we do- with mutterings and groans.

PEG doesn’t like “back walkovers;” I trick it by insisting she call it “the back walkover.” So, she does (and the points improve.)

Later, I am working at the table… and she is standing behind a chair across from me. She wants to share her essay with some different people– and we are talking about it. I hear her muttering and pondering:

” ‘ The back walkover’ — that sounds so WEIRD.”

And suddenly, it hits me:

“The back walkover”– just how presumptuous and awkward it sounds-

as if it is some great, specifically precise feat separate from the other skills in her sentence in some inexplicable way.

The actual sentence: Side aerials, the back walkover, and press handstands are all amazing to watch and hard to achieve.

and she just can’t stand how “the back walkover” sounds and reads in the sentence- and how it isn’t true to what it really “is.”

Her face- scrunched up in disapproval; the battle with PEG; the victory with points; the sweat equity in the piece itself;

I laugh SO  HARD. I laugh today. I laugh forever. I laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

“The back walkover”  The Things They Say (and we do).

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A (smaller) Tall Son begins his first basketball season:

He loads the bus for his first away game:

A shout rises up: “BORGER!!!!” from all the high school players.

He loads and sits deep in the middle of the bus behind the high school Coach (Micah’s coach) and Coach says:

“Welcome to the Belly of the Beast.”

At dinner, he finds himself the center of some probing questions. A high school team member knows three of his brothers who have participated in various activities at said school.

“Whose your favorite brother?” the team-mate queries — hoping to disarm son and gather some ammunition. Not to be so easily outdone-

Son counters: “Do you even know how many brothers I have?”

The older student stutters, mutters, and answers incorrectly.

And that was the end of that. The question never came up again.

-I think he’s going to be just fine.-

The next day,

He finds himself on court, playing low post position. The opposing team member whispers (right next to him): “Jonah?”

Recognition dawns.

He finds himself face to face with a fellow Scout from our Troop. This confirmed a suspicion he had from the start- that the Casey on the team- was the Casey from Troop 9.

Worlds expand.

The Things They Say and Do.

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The Things They Say Part 1

I have captured some… and some I have missed.

But, for posterity-!

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A small girl stands stalwart.

Feet planted.

One legging leg up, and one legging leg down.

I remark about said pant leg.

She cries out,

“No one likes my fashion! No one likes my style!

It’s true!”

I am astounded. Of course I love her style! Of course I love her fashion!

Wee girly, with a fashion sense already?!?

The things they say

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It’s Saturday for several weeks-

and a bold, young man- aged 10; the youngest our family has known to take on such a responsibility-

is at the giant pancake griddle.

He is providing Saturday morning pancakes for our clan with great glee. Jam, Maple Syrup, many times Chocolate Chips, sometimes Pumpkin. The stacks are devoured.

I come home from the Saturday dance class journey-

and peruse the kitchen and the pancake stacks:

he declares to me: “I’m the OPM!!”

“What’s the OPM?” I ask.

“Official Pancake Maker!” he declares. “Daddy crowned me.”

OPM. The Things They Say.

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I am getting three little girls ready for bed.

I stand in some relief- and also amazed-

simply because they are doing so much themselves. Toothpaste on the toothbrushes. The whole routine.

Small, confident, pink – clad girls.

They start squeezing toothpaste under my careful surveillance.

One wee girl is at the sink running water over her brush.

Another sister is scrubbing her teeth vigorously.

A third is squeezing toothpaste onto her toothbrush. She is just about to put the brush in her mouth- when, suddenly- she stops:

“I almost forgot to water my toothbrush!”

She jumps on the stool and runs her brush under water and then commences brushing.

The Things They Say

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I am sitting across the table from an inquisitive, bright young man.

He begins declaring all these personal goals, interests, and hopes to me.

I am listening, astonished.

When suddenly, he declares, “I’m going to do it! I’m going to get an Eagle Palm.”

When I question whether he knew that in order to earn an Eagle Palm, he first had to achieve Eagle Scout Rank, he nods briskly.

THEN:

He proceeded to recite the fact to me that an Eagle Palm is awarded for earning five additional merit badges AFTER ranking Eagle Scout (which it is).

I am shocked. He clearly knew and understood.

BUT THEN:

“I have achievements I need to achieve.”— he said.

The Things They Say.

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The Things They Say

I noticed recently… a wee, small girl’s appetite picked up. She was hungry. Frequently.

A little while later… she came to me to whisper in my ear:

“Mommy, I think I’m growing. I was walking down the stairs and I felt myself taller.”

Then… a little while after that… she went to her slightly taller twin sister… and discussed the matter with her. This led to the following moment- which was authentic- although I did then stage it to capture it fully… as they stood back to back to get a “feel” of their heights.  This young one has a twin who is taller, and who has lost a tooth well before hers has even loosened.  It is a bit of a trial at times. 😉 She takes it with good grace.

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I smile at my little girls enjoying luxury bubbles. One says, “You are the nicest Mommy with your smile!” I make a remark of surprise about this (and I think in my mind… didn’t I just read a post (it was Mystie Winkler- Simply Convivial) about the power of a smile and a hug?… it really is true! I need to write that down…) and then one girl remarks to the other about dear friends of ours who have “big” girls who have a special, special bond with our “little” girls… and their smile(s). (She was talking about you, Johanna. 🙂 – the impact of your smile!!! )

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Driving home on birthday night…the happy conversation turns to the birthday meal awaiting us.

A certain small son remembers a “glorious” meal at Ama’s…

“where there were hot dogs with no limit, hamburgers, and roasted (on the grill) corn on the cob”

The talk swirls in memory around those delicious roasted corn cobs…, the hamburgers…and of course, the hot dogs!

Hot dogs with no limits. At our house, the limit is two. Protection from over-consumption of nitrates and other bad components. But at Ama’s- the provision of food and the bounty is notorious! And… it has made a strong impression!

It was glorious! “Hot dogs with no limits”

The Things They Say (and do).