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Anyone who has had a child knows “the bag” the one that sits, at the ready, for days or even weeks waiting for the “big event.” The one that contained symbols of the new roles that husband and wife would be taking on — the first outfit, the knitted hat, the snuggly blanket, as well as all the mom stuff that the new mother would need while she was being overwhelmed by those first hours of motherhood.
Here’s that bag for me.
It’s a great bag that my sister bought for me for the baby shower. It not only still exists but it has taken many journeys with our expanding family over the years. Somehow, it seemed appropriate that the bag that brought everything to the hospital when he was born should be the bag that went with us when we delivered TJ to the next big phase of his life. And so, “the bag” accompanied us to Burlington — a symbol of what had been and what was yet to be.
We were off, truck packed and the five of us enjoying a ride through the mountains to TJ’s new home for the school year. It didn’t take long for us to get him unpacked and for him to turn the contents of those boxes, foot lockers and duffle bags into his new digs. By the time we returned with lunch in hand and perishables for his new fridge, he had transformed the stark space into a very comfy spot, very “TJ”.
Everyone says that saying goodbye and leaving your child at college is hard, but the goodbyes weren’t very different from goodbyes when we’ve dropped the boys off elsewhere. Hugs and small talk. Last minute thoughts, a heartfelt “I love you”. Despite the admonitions from everyone including the parking attendants “Mom, no crying!” when we first pulled in, there were no tears. I am very proud of TJ and all that he has accomplished. He deserved to enjoy that day without a blubbering mom in the background or the foreground and I delivered. What was difficult is the coming home to TJ not being here. When we pulled into the driveway, my thought was “oh TJ’s home” when I saw his truck sitting there…only to realize that “no, he wasn’t home, that’s just his truck”. So, the long and short of it, is while TJ got the “no tear” send-off from his mom, the rest of the family hasn’t been so lucky since we’ve been home.
I’m mopey, I admit it. No one but another mom understands that it’s hard to share your life and for the better part of a year, share your very body with another person occupying the same space without feeling sad that things will never be the same. Will things be different? Yes. Will things be better? Maybe. Will you be proud of your child and their accomplishments? Absolutely.
But your family will never be the same configuration and chemistry and you will never be the same person as you were when you got in the car for that ride to college. We all know it’s coming. It might as well be printed on that bag that accompanies you to the hospital for the birth. It’s implicit in the very definition of parenting. The process of promoting and supporting the physical,emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. From the second we are “officially” parents at the birth, it is a process of independence, of teaching another human being to be self-sufficient and in so doing, tearing yourself away from that person that you have created.
Leaving TJ at the door to his dorm, there was not a cell in my body that wasn’t happy for him and confident that Tom and I had done the best job we could in the preceding 18+ years in preparing him for this next journey. There wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t swelling with pride at the young man he has become. At the same time however, there are just as many cells yearning to freeze time and protect the familiar part of my life. In the days that follow “drop off” there will be adjustment…contrary to the “how to” books, it won’t be so much for the college student as for the college student’s mom.
Try as I might I cannot figure out why over the past several nights I have woken at almost the exact same time 2:15 and been unable to go back to sleep. The first time I blamed caffeine as the culprit but night before last, no caffeine in the picture – I didn’t even have two cups of coffee in the morning! I’m blaming it on hormones I guess since sleep problems do not seem to plague our male counterparts. As I lay in bed tossing and turning, begging for sleep to come alongside me, my husband is sound asleep. It is very frustrating, almost as bad as the sober person around a bunch of drunk folks who are acting incredibly stupid.
After it became apparent that I was definitely, try as I might, not going back to sleep and dawn was now approaching I figured I would get up. I got up, made a crumb cake, made the coffee and then went out for a run (or run/walk as may be more appropriate). There wasn’t a car out on the road while I was out. Here are some pictures from the morning yesterday
TJ leaves on Friday for college. We are in the countdown phase for sure. This past week, the UPS guy and the FedEx guy have been making almost daily stops to our house, delivering in drips and drabs various components of TJ’s new life away from home. Each delivery brings with it another dose of reality that things will be very different around here next week this time. Nonetheless, I am putting on my big girl panties and keeping a brave face. This is not the end, but the beginning.
He will be off to a new adventure for which I hope we have prepared him well. At least, it seems judging by the boxes and foot lockers strewn around the house, he will be well packed.
Tim and I went blueberry picking and I may go again today since one of the blueberry pick-your-own places indicated on FB that today is the last day of picking for the season. We came home with two bags full of blueberries and I made a blueberry muffin cake. The original recipe is from Fine Cooking but I tweaked it just a bit to add a streusel topping, the same as on the blueberry muffins that I make. It definitely took the cake, which was delicious without the topping to a different level.
For those of you that asked, here is the recipe:
Blueberry Muffin Cake (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine recipe)
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly; more for the pan
- 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 lb. (2 cups) fresh blueberries
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 t. cinnamon
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round springform pan.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Using a silicone spatula, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the berries. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Tap the pan on the counter once or twice to break any air bubbles.
Mix together the topping ingredients which should make crumbles. Spread the crumbled streusel topping over the cake batter.
Bake until golden-brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The original recipe says the cooking time is 45-55 minutes which is what worked without the streusel. With the streusel topping, add an extra 15-20 minutes, check occasionally until a tester comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake and remove the side of the pan. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature. Ours didn’t make it to the cooling phase. It was steaming still when we removed it from the pan to eat with a cup of tea the other night for dessert.
I love stumbling around Stumbleupon. I haven’t had the time to do it in a while, however whenever I do manage to sneak a few idle minutes, I always manage to come across a site that catches my eye. Here’s a bit of advice posted on the site kangalex.com that was worthy of sharing.
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short not to enjoy it.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for things that matter.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye… But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose Life.
28. Forgive but don’t forget.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give Time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d
grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you think you need.
42. The best is yet to come…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
Summer is going by fast, especially now that we have actually had some summer type days. Vacation is fast approaching which I am looking forward to enjoying with my guys. It is hard to believe as I look at the calendar that, a month from yesterday, TJ will be off to a new adventure in his life. We will be moving him into his home away from home for the majority of the next year. While I know that it isn’t all that far away, it’s far enough to realize that he won’t be a part of our everyday lives in the same way ever again. (Okay, here go the mom tears). I will definitely miss that. Having had one less kid in the house for the majority of the summer with Tim spending most of his time in other countries this summer, it is definitely odd not having the same chemistry in the house. It will be odd not having all three boys around all (or mostly) all of the time.
Sometimes we don’t realize how much we’ve accomplished and for that reason, it’s good to sit back and take stock. We put in a flower bed next to the back patio and stairs off both sets of sliding doors before the July 4th weekend and TJ’s graduation party. I wanted to post some “before” and “after” pictures of how it looked before and after the flower bed, but when I went back through old photos I didn’t realize exactly how much we’ve done to the back of the house where the patio is now as demonstrated by these photos. When we bought the house there used to be on the house which we immediately had to remove to fix a foundation issue in the back.
REALLY, REALLY WAY WAY BEFORE (WE EVEN BOUGHT THE HOUSE):
This door with the windows is long gone and the other jutting section is now my office.
WAY WAY BEFORE (AFTER WE BOUGHT THE HOUSE AND TORE DOWN THE DECK AND BEFORE WE EVEN MOVED UP HERE):
BEFORE (AFTER WE MOVED UP HERE):
AFTER (PRESENT DAY):
Maybe when we’re sitting out there on the patio on a summer evening, we can truly feel a sense of accomplishment after seeing these back to back.
On Saturday, I volunteered to assist in our local Rotary Club’s annual coin drop fundraiser. Basically, you don a very bright vest, hold a bucket and stand in the middle of the road soliciting donations to the cause. I participated in the first shift, standing out on the main street in town for about an hour and a half. It was actually fun, more people stopped, dropping coins and “folding money” (as one gentlemen put it) into the bucket than did not. Even the folks who didn’t or couldn’t contribute were kind enough to wave or even stop and apologize for not being able to contribute. The generosity was amazing. It was nice to see familiar faces and have a couple seconds chat while they made their donation. It was even nicer to see and speak to total strangers. I had folks inquire as to the purpose of the collection, I had folks share a bit of their history (for example, a 40 year Rotarian was very pleased to help a fellow Rotary club). Some folks literally emptied their change cups into our buckets, others reached into their wallet for paper money. Folks had their kids put the money into the bucket from the back seat and folks apologized for the screw or dog biscuit that might be mixed in with their contribution.
I have always loved people watching. I remember when I was younger and driving around with my family in the car going here or there. I loved the dusk hours when people’s lights were on but shades were not yet drawn. You had a chance to get a glimpse into their world – see a different kitchen, a family eating, a living room so very different from your own. It was a similar experience on Saturday when the folks driving by would stop to drop in their donation. You caught a quick glimpse into their lives since a person’s car is just as much a statement about themselves as anything else. Some were filled with dogs (yes, literally there were about five dogs in one car, occupying both the front and back of the vehicle), gardening equipment, some looked as if people were moving or living out of their cars with the variety of different household things gathered there. Some cars were filled with people, young and old, some were solo drivers with a computer open on the seat (how do they do that?). It was an interesting opportunity to get a peek into people’s lives, have a chat here and there and raise money for a worthy cause, the scholarships and community service work that the Rotary performs on a regular basis.
Being on the other side of the window, so to speak, gave me a new and different perspective and respect for all those firefighters and other groups that conduct coin drop fundraisers especially now that the summer weather seems to have arrived.
If you are one of the drivers approaching a coin drop, please do slow down, it’s hard for both of us unless you come to an almost complete stop. This was my first time and I’ve yet to perfect “my collecting money while jogging alongside someone’s car and trying not to get run over ” technique. Maybe by next time around…..
We have had a busy couple weeks here. My apologies for not posting as usual. Youngest child went and returned from Costa Rica which involved us picking him up in Boston two days before July 4th. We had company arriving the next day with company arriving each day to follow in preparation for both July 4th and oldest son’s graduation party on the 6th. Party preparations and house preparations consumed most of those days but thanks to the group of friends and family that were here staying with us, the adage “many hands make light work” became blissfully obvious and was the theme surrounding the party itself. I cannot thank everyone enough, you helped to make it a wonderful party and a great day.
We counted a total of 20 people staying here over the July 4th weekend not counting the boys’ friends (which on Saturday night totaled another 3 or 4) that managed to crash in every conceivable corner, including the dog bed. We are pretty sure that it was a house record, but it was great, lots of fun. One of the things that I think I miss most about growing up was the fact that our house always seemed full, between us, our other family and friends that visited, lots of people always came and went. This weekend reminded me a lot of that. Not much spare unused room, but lots of love and friendship — the important things in life anyway.
Here are some pictures from the setup and the party.
It has been a quiet week here at the T’s house. Tim left last Saturday evening for Costa Rica. Although they were pretty much “out of touch” (no cell phones were allowed and there was limited computer access for them) we did get an email last night which made my day. He said he had an “excellent” week and was anxious to make sure that we brought clean clothes, his shower stuff and his phone when we pick him up tomorrow evening. Today, as a finale for their trip, they are white water rafting for the day. They also hiked at La Fortuna National Park and camped there. I am sure that it will be a trip he will remember.
It’s amazing how different the feel of the house can be when even one of us is missing. It has been quiet here for sure especially since TJ left on Saturday for a few days. Personally, I have had a lot of uninterrupted time, since there were no voice lessons or picking up and dropping off from work for Tim. Tyler has been working long days at camp so it has been a very quiet house during daylight hours.
This week, though, will not be so quiet. Lots of company coming for the holiday and TJ’s party on Saturday. Busy, busy getting ready for that and picking up our little guy from the airport in Boston.
Dodging a lot of raindrops still in these parts. Hopefully, we will be all rained out for the weekend.
Miss my dad everyday since he left us, but especially on Father’s Day.
He would be very proud of his grandsons and I know that they would have loved spending time with him.
Warmest wishes to all the dads celebrating today, especially the man that has helped me through the craziness of parenthood and helps me everyday to raise three wonderful young men -
today and always, I love you.