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Ancient History

The Sandwich Index

There comes a time every spring when I count down the remaining number of school days. Last night, I determined we have 38 days left. 38 mornings to rouse people, 38 drives there in the morning. 38 drives home. 38 drives there in the afternoon. 38 drives home. It doesn’t seem so bad until I add them up: 152 legs, back and forth. I’m not alone in this, though. There is no bussing at our kids’ school, so hundreds of other parents are in the same station wagon.

However, I can say with overwhelming confidence nobody will go through as much bread.

38 days. 38 lunches X 6 school-aged kids = 228 packed lunches to go. If each child has a sandwich each of those days (and they will, because we lack imagination, a school microwave, and time to get cutesy) that means 456 slices of bread stand between us and summer break.

I wondered how tall that would be, if stacked into a tower. I estimated each slice is 1/2 inch, for simplification. That means two slices are an inch, which brings us back to the number 228. 228 inches = 12 19 feet.

12 19 feet of wheat. (EDIT: Well, this is just embarrassing. My math was wrong. It’s 19 feet. 19 feet of wheat.)

That’s a lot. That’s taller than two Darth Vaders, a giraffe at full-grown glory, an ostentatious Christmas tree. It’s exactly two three husbands, if mine is the benchmark.

But we’ll manage. Somehow, the mythical stack of bread will shrink until there is nothing but a few crumbs. We’ll wake up one bright day, stretch, scratch, yawn, and consider how there is nothing to do, nowhere to be, isn’t it lovely? We’ll eat a typical breakfast. An hour later, one of the kids will say, “What’s for lunch?” and I’ll say something about making sandwiches and taking them to a park.

~dreaming of this~

It’s Time to Wake Up

We don’t stand a chance here when it comes to wind.

We live near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The wind that carries storm systems from the Pacific arches over the mountains to the west of us. It crests and considers the Great Plains below and beyond. White mountain peaks often appear to have cloud horns jutting off, but really, it’s snow blown off the rock faces and back into the air. Once on the downhill slide to the plains, wind slams itself into fifth gear.

Paired with the returning spring sun and shifting warming patterns, we practically blow away this time of year.

A few nights ago, the wind was particularly bad. It’s really hard to sleep when it sounds like your lawn is becoming a giant Swiss Roll, curling over itself in a layered cake of half-dead sod, dog poo, and faded plastic toys. I was in bed listening to the racket outside, trying to tune it out. Finally, I got up and looked out a window with the idea if I saw damage, I could obsess over something beside noise. All I saw were bare trees shaking and swaying, but still standing.

I recognized what was going on out there in the wild dark.

It was like when I have to wake up kids for school. I start gently, cooing greetings to sweet sleepy heads. I pat and prod. I might whistle poorly or warble pathetically. I wait. Numbers on digital clocks march up. I start to bellow and yell. I try again, this time shaking shoulders or kneeing a mattress. No, it’s not a picture of gauzy lazy stretches with a plate of bacon slid undernose. It’s more like Spring wind. Wake up, kid! World! World kid!

Junior amateur doof scientist that I am, I returned to bed full of half-baked crackpot theories.

Maybe the wind has an important purpose? Rather than resent its rough intrusion, I could consider how it sweeps away dead leaves and weeds from the ground. That’s obvious. But maybe trees need to be shaken to open their roots and microscopic internal systems. Maybe the wind is invigorating and makes leaves want to come out and play! I began to think about googling the connection between wind and the veins inside trees. They are awakened, which in turn wakes up the processes that begin leaf production. I was onto something. It was like that moment in a medical show when the heroine’s pupil contracts dramatically because she discovered something while looking through a microscope that will change everything.

Or, maybe I do just need more sleep.

Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey! Er, wakey, wakey, photosynthesis and carbon dioxide!

The Mid-Mothering Crisis

I gave Ollie a fork yesterday at lunch just to see what he’d do with it. He picked it up and stabbed a grilled cheese sandwich cube. He steered the fork to his mouth, plucked the cheesy buttery crunchy morsel off the tines, and chewed. He went from baby to Grand Duke of Kraft Singles in an instant.

Sometimes, I want him to always stay the wide-eyed babe forever, animated but suspended at this perfect age. But then I’d never get to hear him singing in the shower.

One of the biggest lies moms of only little kids believe is that they are only cute until around age 5. Then they morph overnight into tweens and teens, who number their top five emotions as:

1. Sullen
2. Sullen
3. Irritable
4. Miffed
5. All the emotions at once, known as a Superemotion called Life

But it’s not true. Older kids can be just as darling, sweet, and innocent. It’s just that you go longer between moments that make you smile so hard, your dimples can devour a galaxy. And you don’t even have dimples. These moments are what keeps me going when I’m having a Mid-Mothering Crisis.

Moms of large families are particularly susceptible to this crisis. Her older kids are on the verge of blowing the pop stand, the younger are still sliding around the kitchen floor wearing footsie pajamas, drinking from sippy cups. Then, there are the bunch in the middle. The mom is stretched in every direction and feels amazed at how quickly time is passing and how slowly time is passing. She marvels at all the work she’s done and all the work that’s ahead. While one starts her senior year of high school, another starts kindergarten.

But it’s good. She loves it. Reminders cruise from out of the nowhere and settle her heart, giving her moments of pure, crystalline, soaring joy and that’s what keeps her going.

For example, a teenaged boy in the shower on the other side of wall bursts into song.

I’m not naming names.

But one of my older boys was showering when he began to sing a song he learned in Sunday School about ten years ago. I hadn’t heard it in ages. If his mind is like a jukebox, this 45 was really dusty. The machinery fished it up and out to the needle of every bathroom’s superior acoustics. He began to sing the song as it was written. But then, he started adding his own twist. He sang it with a twang, like a country crooner. Then, he channeled a Vegas lounge lizard named Frank Bing Martin Davis, Jr. His fedora must have been sopping wet.

Finally, he ended the song and his shower by taking the stage at the Met, opera style.

I wanted to applaud. I didn’t because I want him to continue singing in the shower.

When Ollie ate with a fork, I applauded. I did because I want him to continue eating with a fork.

I have learned when to applaud and when to not applaud. That’s a Mid-Mothering triumph right there. Crisis, please hold.