Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Weekend of Nothing and Everything

I had the best weekend. It was a weekend of nothing that meant everything. Of course, there was the usual--soccer, religion, laundry, grocery shopping. Sunday dinner at my folks' house. In many ways it was unremarkable. But in this ordinary way, it was totally unremarkable.

Friday night started with a dinner out--just the four of us--to The Cheesecake Factory. The kids had given us gift cards there for our anniversary (thank to a little help from Grandpa). I was too sick at the time of our anniversary to use them, so Friday was perfect. Spared me from cooking; changed up the routine from pizza. It was a pleasant dinner, even with my daughter telling jokes that took about five minutes to deliver. In case you were wondering, a joke with a five minute set-up is not worth the punchline. But it was a pleasant dinner. The only time electronics were used were to Google some facts that had been under discussion. There was a cat drawing contest (Sophia won for anime, I won for realistic), as well as talk about school and life in general.

Saturday saw Sophia playing soccer on a beautiful fall day. The difference in her investment in playing since even last spring is huge, and that is really paying off on the field. Jake found a snail, which is the sort of thing at which he excels--noticing the small details of nature. After the soccer game, I lamented to my husband that since Ohio State had a by-week, there was nothing to look forward to.

Boy was I wrong. You see, TNT was playing a Star Wars marathon. All day, Episodes 1-3, and then The Empire Strikes Back in prime time. Jake reluctantly came into my room when I called him. Until he realized The Phantom Menace was on, and then he was transfixed. He's never seen all of The Empire Strikes Back, so he was excited for that to air. Sophia was off to a birthday party sleep over (or over as I call it because I'm not sure there was any sleep involved), so it was an all Jake evening.

Pat and I took him out to dinner at one of his favorite places, The Melting Pot. Then, we came back and watched The Empire Strikes back. Of course Jake didn't make it through--we dvr'd it in anticipation. We also noted that TNT was starting the whole marathon, episodes 1-6 at 5 am on Sunday, just in case we needed to catch up.

Jake and I have spent most of the weekend binging on the Force. Noticing the discrepancies, finding the links. In between, we got some laundry folded, waste baskets emptied, homework done. There's been conversation during the commercials, as well as during dinner. There's been dancing and singing. My boy, who doesn't like to sing in front of people on pain of death, sang along with me. P.S.--It's subtitled so you too can sing along (I don't need to look at the words. Not sure if I should be proud or ashamed of that fact).



It's been the best weekend with my son.

Because I know it will not always be like this. He's on the cusp of teenage-dom. The mood swings, the sullenness, the surliness--we already see them. There are lots of times when he wants nothing to do with me. And I get it. It's normal. Someday, he won't need me. Won't want me. There are also lots of times where stress and anxiety rule his world, and I don't get to see the laughing, laid back Jake that hung out with me all weekend.

We did take a break so Jake could watch football with his uncle. Even driving over, we couldn't help but marvel at the perfect crystal blue sky and were even lucky enough to see a bald eagle soaring in the sky.

This is a weekend of nothing and everything. And I will never, ever take it for granted.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Green Thumb

A year ago tonight, we got the call that my uncle (and godfather) lost his battle to esophageal cancer. Prior to his diagnosis 19 months earlier, he'd been the picture of health. One of the best things I can say about him is the absolute passion and zeal with which he lived his much too short life. The list of his accomplishments is extensive, but tonight I want to share a story about this great man.


My uncle loved to garden. Each spring, he planted thousands of seedlings. At one time, he had three gardens going, in addition to tending the church garden. Among many other things, growing food from the earth was certainly a passion that he shared. As such, he was a wealth of knowledge about all things plants and was the guy we asked whenever we had a question.

When Sophia was in pre-school (I think 4 year-old, but it could have even been 3 year-old), they read the story of Johnny Appleseed. Her wheels are always turning, and she started pilfering apple seeds to plant because she wanted an apple tree to grow in our yard. Knowing that planting trees from seeds outside is not always successful, we told her we'd have to ask Uncle Andy the best thing to do. And he, being the generous soul that he was, gave Sophia her own sapling that he cut from one of his apple trees. It was about 18" tall. Sophia and my dad planted it in our backyard, and then we waited. We prepared her that for the tree to really have apples would take years, and that she would probably be in high school before it happened. There are a few crab apple trees in our neighborhood, but not many apple trees for pollination.

The first year, a deer took a several nibbles out of her tree. We weren't sure it would make it.

But it did.

Then last summer, as we knew it would be Uncle Andy's last summer, Sophia discovered three apples growing on her tree. I didn't believe her when she told me. But she was right. Her tree had apples. Almost unbelievable, considering the tree is only about 4 years old.





The last time we went to see Uncle Andy, Sophia picked the apples, and we made applesauce for him. He wasn't able to swallow much, and I don't know that he actually got to eat it. He passed away about a week later.
















This year, we had an unusually warm winter that caused the fruit trees to bud early, only to be damaged by a heavy frost. There are no apples this year.

I really felt that the apples last year were a fluke and had something to do with Uncle Andy. The lack of apples this year reinforces it.

To a great man, our own personal Johnny Appleseed... may we all have such a passion in life and for life.