Clueless Mom of a 16-Year-Old

 

Swishing red sequins, tap-shuffle-wing-tap, “Don’t Rain on my Parade” blaring, while my dancing butterfly fluttering before me on the stage.  How swiftly time had crept in and danced its own, nearly sinister score, causing dizziness with the flood of memories, a triple pirouette inside my mind.

1459107_764407350323873_628084888833879485_n

One January evening in the Arizona desert,16.5 years ago, a tiny Elizabeth was placed in my arms.  I’d had a c-section and while woozy and confused, and even if she really looked like a squirrel, my baby girl seemed remarkably beautiful to me.  I marveled at her tiny blinking eyelids, the sweetest little cheeks, dumbfounded by the immense love that filled my heart.

My husband, Nikos, and I were alone in Arizona, so bringing Elizabeth home was daunting, if not downright terrifying. My mom had passed away when I was a baby, and I hadn’t the first notion what it was like to be a mother.  I remember sitting on the couch after returning from the hospital, holding my tiny angelic baby girl, and suddenly thought, I don’t have one friggin’ clue what I’m doing! Two seconds later, Nikos accidentally dropped a lotion bottle on my head from the upstairs loft ledge.  I panicked a little more realizing that Nikos was equally as dumb as me.

I was a neurotic new mom, wiping down carts at the grocery store with anti-bacterial wipes, carrying those wipes along while shopping, just in case a doting elderly lady smooched on Elizabeth’s tiny hands.  It had taken a good eight years before I realized how harmful anti-bacterial anything was.

Elizabeth had been easy to breastfeed, thrived in spite of us.  She was a wild toddler, climbed in the dryer, stood on top of the table and threw dishes (I guess it was the Greek in her-Opa!), stole shoes at the mall, cried in earnest upon their return, seemed to be a genius at every new word, but then ate crayons instead of coloring, bringing her adoring parents’ pride down a few notches,

74521_10151324093314286_15861724_n

Elizabeth read at an early age, because I was a psycho.  I wanted her to be the best, impressing the world. Yes, I was the most annoying mom ever.  I wish I could go back and smack that mom upside the head right about now.  Poor Elizabeth was so bored in kindergarten, she learned the entire alphabet in sign language and all of the bus numbers her first week of school.  I didn’t allow her to take the bus until first grade, because I was and still am Finding Nemo‘s dad afraid.

I dreaded picking Elizabeth up from school, because her kindergarten teacher never had a good report.  Finally, the teacher put Elizabeth in the gifted class, probably just to get rid of her, and to swell the head of a mom who needed stupid labels and compliments because she felt entirely inadequate. That same teacher told me that she didn’t envy me, that my daughter had a long, hard road ahead, and that I’d better find a channel for Elizabeth’s energy or she’d be a disaster.

I had to be the perfect mom-classroom parent, Girl Scout leader for five years, all baby food had been homemade, and tried to achieve this idyllic notion of Carolyn Ingalls,yet fumbling, while also acknowledging its unattainability.

Presently, I’m a mom of three and while no longer a germ freak, screw-ups happen daily, I forget that a kid needed to stay after school for a makeup violin lesson or Geometry test, and they’re the last kid standing (not good during a Minnesota winter!), roll my eyes more than Elizabeth, get mad and say mean things, never have a spotless house and love my precious darlings intensely while continuing to flounder.

Elizabeth and I argue what seems incessantly, a battle of control between two highly strong-willed people. We’re still dancing around that mother/daughter relationship, unsteady and tip-toe fragile.

I love that energetic, sweet to cats, crazy fireball, yet I’m endlessly trying to garner respect and tame her, which is as futile as her unruly hair. She says I pick at her, perhaps I do.  Elizabeth’s room is usually a scary mess, and during my “good mama” moments, I remind myself that inside that hyper-emotional teenager, with clothes strewn all over her furniture, seven water bottles ready to be knocked over by the cat, there is a little girl inside the chaos, one who needs to be told she’s loved and special, and that these years are not the best of her life.

If I tell Elizabeth that her shorts are too short or tight, she screams back at me with tear-filled eyes, “Mama, what exactly are you implying?!”  Doors slam, exasperated groans follow, yet she seeks me out at her dance competitions and gives me a wink. While we’re in a screaming match and I’m grounding her for a week and we can’t stand one another, what I really want to do is pull her in my arms and tell her how incredibly much I love her and never let go.

According to Elizabeth, I’m backwards, have succumbed to the oppressive role of a mom since I don’t work full time, and my sense of style is frightening.  I’m everything that Elizabeth is striving mightily not to become. I am grateful for Miss Emily, owner of Division Street Dance, who has been a wonderful role model during these years that everything I say is crazy and nonsensical.

Elizabeth never runs around, goes to dance, school, and then home again. She’s terrified of driving, says she’ll help the environment by sticking solely to public transportation.  She wants to run away and dance on Broadway, with dreams of attending NYU.  She makes As except for French, considers cooking as sexist, and she can’t stand her brother.

As the years have swept by and somewhere along this zig-zagged dance, I stopped worrying about impressing others, abandoned the notion of perfection, stopped being an annoying psycho and try my best to allow my kids to be who they are becoming without looking at the kids on their lefts and rights.  It simply doesn’t matter. I embrace their imperfections, relieved that I don’t have to be a perfect mother.

Occasionally, I quietly peer in her room, early in the morn, and gaze down at Elizabeth sleeping.  If only I could express the fierce love I have for her while praying, Dear God, protect this child, help me not to screw up too much and forgive me in advance for what I’d do if someone ever harmed her!

This past weekend was the dance recital.  Not only did Elizabeth dance eleven numbers, she’d also been the lead teaching assistant, and knew all of those dances without missing a leap or twirl.  To witness Elizabeth gently guiding and encouraging those little girls is heartwarming.  Elizabeth is patient, sweet, and born to teach, even though this is the last thing she wants to do with her life.  Those little girls look up to Elizabeth, greet her with hugs and hand-made cards.  Gazing at Elizabeth on stage, filled with more confidence than I’ll have in a lifetime, sincere joy and passion, not a lick of the credit is due to me, more so, despite me,

The haphazardly-choreographed dance with its most challenging steps is bewildering to me, I never know the right steps to take, wisest words to teach, nor the move that follows. I do know that her every fall will be caught, and every leap, applauded, wherever I am. It was Elizabeth who taught me the true meaning of unconditional love, she forgives, loves and accepts my inexperience.

Slowly, I’m heeding my desperate grasp, and allowing my dancing butterfly the freedom to soar, while reaching out to clasp an antenna.

600805_10151606895234286_1415868208_n

 

 

I Am an American Cupcake

Early last Sunday morning, I was frosting a batch of chocolate cupcakes to take to church for fellowship hour. In honor of Memorial Day, I’d used Americana liners and placed tiny US flags on top of each. I imagined the kids at church enjoying the flags. My slight smile immediately dissipated as I reflected on the Latino (And Friends!) Play Festival we’d recently attended.

Memorial Day is a time to honor those who served and ultimately sacrificed their lives for our country. We remember heroes, and in doing that, I feel compelled to mention a few heroes who carry within them the strength and courage of the greatest warriors. Most in this group haven’t medals, notoriety, or even social security numbers, but they have battle scars that will undoubtedly remain throughout their lives.

Elizabeth, along with her Performing Arts class from Northfield High School, participated in a two week performance at the Northfield Arts Guild. Elizabeth warned us that the program wasn’t appropriate for our younger two, but I finally decided we’d go as a family to watch the performance, regardless. I was sure to prepare Nikolas and Katerina beforehand, but none of us were quite prepared.

Traditionally, the Performing Arts class had been intended for Latino/EL students. However, this year the class had expanded to allow any students attending NHS, with the intention of allowing a greater interaction between mainstream students and minorities. Our daughter, Elizabeth, signed up for the class.  Furthermore, the teacher had wanted to get immigration issues out to the public, and hopefully help with awareness.

We attended the event, last Friday evening, seated in a packed theater. Those mere ninety minutes will continue to impact and haunt me for the rest of my life. Standing before us were seventeen children, artistically sharing their real life stories and experiences over a tear-filled audience.

The pain from these teens possessed and enveloped our hearts, enraptured us as they confronted stereotypes, poverty, health care discrimination, suffocating oppression, molestation, bullying, murder, racism, rape, hopelessness, drug abuse and alcoholism, domestic violence, abandonment and eventually hope. Never, in my forty-two years have I witnessed a more heart-wrenching, powerful, deeply spiritual and aching experience, other than Katerina’s battle with congenital heart disease.

Elizabeth had a few different roles, one representing an American teen raised on stereotyping, living in oblivion to the struggles of the world, belting out racist cliches and assumptions. Another role, which we faced as a family was health care discrimination. Katerina was denied health insurance by several big companies based on her “pre-existing health conditions.” We wanted to buy our health insurance, and Katerina was blatantly denied. Obamacare to our family, represented freedom from discrimination. Finally, Elizabeth’s main role was as a dancer being bullied and ostracized by her classmates, all of it genuine. Elizabeth’s dream is Broadway, and she tapped away some of the tension of the program with “Don’t Rain on my Parade.”

A boy on the stage spoke of his mother being raped, and the bruises covering his own body the following morning, after a night of only remembering “the monster’s eyes.” A fifteen year old girl cried out, remembering the fear provoked by an immigration officer’s badge, representing authority that would take her mom away, possibly never seeing her again. A once anger-filled teen had witnessed while a little boy, his father being shot and killed by his mother. The haunting voices and horrifying touching were expressed through a girl who had been molested by an uncle at the age of six (Katerina’s age.) Another student, at ten years, was raped by a man entrusted to smuggle him across the border, to be reunited with his mom. He’d only followed his mother’s innocent orders to behave and listen to what the man said. I wondered how Nikolas would be affected by these tragic stories, and his dripping tears along his cheeks had spoken for him. We witnessed one story after another, taking hold of our hearts by these courageous children.

On that stage, through blurry eyes of tears, a shining aura of light surrounded the group of teenagers-they represented quintessential hope. These children stood on stage with pride, embraced one another, mourned together as they shared their pain and abuse, wiped the tears from their friends, now a united family. These heroes stood before us due to the heart and dedication of Jennifer Lompart, an NHS teacher.

Sitting in the front row was Mrs. Lompart, the hero who orchestrated it all. Throughout the program, a resounding and instinctive voice told me that some of these children’s lives were saved as result of Lompart teaching this class. Most of these children hadn’t shared their stories with anyone;  abuse, pain and treachery resided within their guarded walls, a cancer essentially killing them.  Lompart gave these students a voice, a safe place for them to shed their victimization and begin to heal. Jennifer Lompart wins Teacher of the Year Award this year, and every year after.

What does it mean to be an American? A hero? A human being? I don’t believe that waiting twenty minutes in line at a Starbucks drive-thru with the engine running, ordering a five dollar coffee with a crown of whipped topping, then buying one for the next car, boasting about it on Facebook, and hoping you get 180 likes, is exactly the definition. Those two coffees you just paid for cost more than double what one of the teens in the play makes hourly at Taco Bell, in which they share with their mother, hoping to get the bills paid by the end of the month.

Education is the key, yet the US government spends roughly 12 billion annually on border control, with continued abuse and barbaric practices in the Southern US.  What a remarkable contribution that money would make instead to educate immigrant families, find them homes and jobs here in this country.

Love and humanity is in confronting racism, poverty and all that makes us squirm and look the other way out of discomfort. Excuses and delusion sweeps in and gives us reason to justify why we fail to embrace the uncomfortable, and instead look forward to what was added to the Netflix menu on our 55 inch flat screen.

I gazed down at my finished cupcakes-cute and promising sweetness. I suddenly felt ashamed. Here I stood in my semi-roomy kitchen, with cabinets and a refrigerator filled with mostly unnecessary food. I was bringing cupcakes to church, we’d add to the offering plate, dish out hugs and prayers and well, you know, “just doin’ my part.”  I hold the door for people, shop at the Co-op for mostly organic and locally grown foods.  I give a few bucks here and there to those in need, box up old clothes, not caring if there are stains, because after all, it’s a donation to charity. It’s all one big fat farce. I am a white, educated, middle class American and as full of fluff as the frosting on the cupcakes before me. I am failing at doing my part as a human being. As long as racism, victimization, discrimination, immigration hostility, violence, poverty, homelessness, and hungry children are sharing this country beside me, I might as well be a cupcake. When will a human life become more valuable than a dollar?

I will forever be haunted by the stories of the young heroes in which I had the honor to meet. My prayers go out to these children, that they never, ever give up and continue having their voices heard, regardless of what language they speak. They represent the future of America-by facing persecution, danger and risking their lives for freedom and a better life, entirely reminiscent of our forefathers.

20150524_115446

MN Twins, Unloaded Hot Dogs and a Whoppin’ Big Lesson

Shriners Hospital sent our family field box seats to the MN Twins baseball game. Katerina is a Shriner’s kid, due to her leg length discrepancy. If you are ever feeling a little down, need some perspective in your life, head on over to a Shriners Hospital; you will undoubtedly be changed, at least for the moment.

The same Friday evening as the game, was picture night at the girls’ dance studio. I’d taken Katerina in earlier to have her picture taken, but Elizabeth stayed on for the night at the studio, glad to skip the game.

The drive to Minneapolis was a full hour, but at least the traffic wasn’t bad. We were all so excited! I was even more excited to eat, after having read an article about the Twins’ stadium food that my friend Tamara had mentioned on Facebook. Additionally, Andrew Zimmerman, one of my favorite Travel Channel stars, supposedly had a food truck there.

After paying twelve bucks to park, which meant a greater trek to the field, we came across a homeless man. We kept walking until Nikos said, “Wait! Keep going and I’ll catch up!” I know my hubby well, and he’s the kind to buy a meal and give it to those who look like they could use one. He ran back with one less ticket to the game and we all hoped the man would make it to and enjoy the game. Nikos promised the man that he’d buy him a hot dog if he showed up.

We decided to eat before finding our seats. Nikos bought some kind of steak sandwich, Nikolas a burger, Katerina had loaded nachos, and I had garlic fries and then asked the guy at the counter for a loaded hot dog. The cashier looked annoyed and smirked, then asked what I meant by a “loaded hot dog.” I explained, “Well you know, slaw, sauce, onions, the works!” His robotic reply was handing me a tiny cup of onions and pointing over to the condiment station. I dumped every last diced onion on the hot dog, then saturated it with enough mustard and ketchup that the hot dog was elevated. Nikos also bought a $14 Pepsi and later a popcorn. We were then a hundred dollars poor. I was bummed to not have the time to find Zimmerman’s food truck, but the game had already begun.

11122507_457242817758623_1049937150_n

The Target field was massive, hyper-stimulating and impressive. As modern as it all was, the atmosphere still somehow clung to the days of yesteryear, undying energy. The prevalence of nostalgia brought me back to the 1970s, watching a Cincinnati Reds game, hearing the fans, combined with tube socks and the funny talking guy from the speakers. It was an exciting game, the temperature was ideal, and Katerina was hooping and hollering louder than ten rows of fans together. Nikos asked her what just happened in the game and she shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I have no idea!”

11108207_10153197077024286_5341594523525932723_n

The moment I’d taken one big chomp of my hot dog, Nikos shockingly remarked, “Rebecca! You look like you just puked all over your shirt and pants!” I scowled at him and then was horrified by the mess all over me. Every bit of my hot dog was all over me! I told Nikos to go get me some napkins and he further aggravated me by saying only a washing machine would take care of that kind of mess. After two more bites (What?! No sense in wasting a perfectly yummy hot dog!) I hissed at Nikos to get me some napkins, and he said he first wanted to watch the play. I gave him “the look”, and he immediately proceeded to bring me five freaking pitiful napkins.

Nikos was right, the sauce just smeared all over my pants and shirt and I was too embarrassed to get up until…the kid in front of me had a small plastic bag over his head, entirely enclosing his mouth and nose, and his parents were distracted by the game. I freaked out and yelled to get that bag off his head. The mom glanced back and then immediately tore off the bag and almost the kid’s head in a panic. She thanked me too many times, and I tried to make her feel better by explaining that all three of my kids had done the same at some point in time. Nikos looked shocked and asked when that happened. Eye rolls are very appropriate in a marriage when one asks questions as such.

Nikolas told me he couldn’t wait for baseball season to begin. He loved the game and admitted that he’d never be able to throw as far as the guys on the team. It had been an exciting evening, and for a couple innings, the Twins were catching up. Nikos’ homeless friend never showed up, but I hope he’d at least gone to the game.

11169107_457243561091882_1814144008_n
11198426_457243521091886_887479961_n
11210124_457243667758538_615897652_n
It was getting chilly, even with the blanket I’d packed-yes, I was feeling momentarily smug and all organized, like a got-it-together kind of mom. Of course, all I had to do was glance down at my mustard/onion/ketchup massacre to remember I was as well put together as scrambled eggs in a frying pan. It was well past Katerina’s bed time, so we decided to leave before the game had ended.

Driving home sleepy and contented, I sang “Twinkle Little Star” to Katerina, our nightly ritual. I turned and appreciatively stated, “Katerina, thank you for this wonderful game! We wouldn’t have gone, had it not been for you and Shriners!” Katerina wisely replied, “No Mama, don’t thank me. Thank God for making my legs special.” I doubt there is need for me to explain the whopping big lesson that I learned from my precious little girl that wonderful evening.

11121883_457242884425283_1870748401_n

Confessions of a Part-Time Baker

Just before sending off one of my favorite recipes for publishing, I decided against it.  Rather, I felt like we needed to get to know one another a little better first.

When we moved to Minnesota, I became a food artisan vendor for the Riverwalk Market Fair, a wonderful European-style outdoor market, five months out of the year. Other than snickerdoodles, I primarily sell Greek sweets and savories. I also cater from time to time-baby/bridal showers, dinner parties, holiday meals, and church a couple of times (hands down most intimidating!)

10521654_10152551524674286_2807461374451006246_n

There’s a dilemma when one becomes coined as a baker or caterer. Regardless of what my food tastes like, there is an assumption that I’m suddenly some kind of food critic or authority baker. I often hear apologies before I’ve even tasted the first bite. Let’s set things straight here. I have anxiety when asked to share a dish, dessert, prepare an entire meal, and so on, due to the expectations of others, assuming that everything out of my kitchen is going to be delicious. I love food. I love cooking and experimenting with ingredients, and alongside my endeavors are many failures-stinking, burned, over-salted, soggy disasters.

Yesterday afternoon, while sifting through piles of antique treasures (or trash) at a thrift store, I ran into a customer named Dee. She ran up, gave me a hug and introduced me to her friend. She began gushing about my food the moment after our introductions. Suddenly, I became sweaty almost paralytic, when Dee mentioned the pie contest that I’d won. I began stammering and averting my eyes to some rinky dink picture frame, when my obnoxious husband mentioned the massage. I’ll tell you about that momentarily.

I stink at making homemade pie crusts; I really stink at it. I also don’t like the extra added mess in my kitchen. My Grandma Sharp, Aunt Jeanine (uses Grandma’s recipe), as well as Aunt Alice, made the best pies, with such perfect flaky golden crusts it didn’t matter what filling was put in the pie. Here’s my confession: I USE READY-MADE PIE CRUST! Shew-wee, I feel better now.

A year ago, Dee had stopped by the Riverwalk Market and ordered four pies for her church, to be delivered the following Saturday. Two apple, one pumpkin and chess pies seemed simple enough. I didn’t burn anything, the pies set well, so I deemed the job a success. I sauntered in the church hall and noticed a seemingly never-ending table of pies, with several elderly ladies hovering proudly over their lovely pies. Dee had me write down the flavors of each pie with my name on four pieces of paper, and then handed me a check. A sly smile swept across Dee’s face and she admitted that she’d just entered my pies in a bake-off. I adamantly tried to withdraw my pies but she’d already sent in the papers. As I escaped from the church hall, I felt like I’d stolen their organ and it was strapped to my back.

Later afternoon, Dee left a message on my phone congratulating me on a first place win for my apple, and a second place finish for the chess pie! The church wanted my address to mail me the freaking prizes! I called Dee back and stressed in the message that she’d ordered the pies, paid too much for them, the prizes were hers, and I’d hear nothing more on the subject. I was so glad she hadn’t answered her phone.

Another sunny Saturday had swept by and then the next, and whom did I see all smiles at the Riverwalk Market, headed straight toward my booth?! “Good morning, Dee!” Dee was with her dude, and they both were carrying certificates, lotion, shower gel, and a gift certificate for an hour long massage. The couple had begun telling customers how I’d won the pie bake-off and that the judges consisted of a head pastry chef of 35 years and a renowned chef from the Twin Cities. My knees were knocking and heart a-fluttering. Dee exclaimed, “Both chefs were particularly impressed by your perfect pie crusts.” Dee’s boyfriend added, “You need to get these certificates framed and post them right here at your market.” I tried and failed every attempt of making Dee take home my undeserved prizes. That was it; not only did I fool pastry chefs, was paid too much to begin with, had a slew of prizes, was entirely a slimy cheater for not confessing that I hadn’t made the pie crusts homemade, it was for a church! I had my big toe, well actually, my second toe is longer, so two toes already creeping down to the fiery gates of you know where.

Those two certificates serving as proof that I’m a fake wanna be baker are hidden in the dark recesses of our scary basement. Perhaps one day, I’ll hear knocking or something straight out of an Edgar Allen Poe tale. I gave the massage certificate to Nikolas’ teacher as a gift, and I passed the other items off to my girls.

Ahhhhh, a long overdue exhale and I feel better. Just don’t request any pies.

427976_10151351805479286_1423047682_n

Staycation Day in Minnesota

Finally, the week we’d all anticipated, Spring Break!  Then, it snowed a foot.  A couple of weeks ago, there had been some teasing days of sixty degree temps, and I toyed with the idea of going camping. That was officially out.  I suppose I’m still in denial that we moved to Minnesota.

A quiet and very white morning greeted us on the first day of Spring Break. I announced to the kids (after the sleepyheads slept in until 7:15) that we were gong to enjoy a staycation, the entire day.  Sometimes, I annoy myself by my chipper morning personality, but no worries, it dissipates after my coffee high winds down.

11033620_10153131164594286_4182863064622686171_n (1)Nikolas tromped outside and gathered a big bowl of freshly fallen snow.  We were making snow cream!  Nikolas mentioned that if a person were starving, they could always eat snow cream to survive.  Yeah sure, as long as they had vanilla, cream or milk, and some sugar on hand.  My kids also like to add sprinkles, which makes it gross and gritty on the teeth.

DSC_0487

DSC_0492

Just so you know, Katerina had eaten two spoonfuls of her Grinch explosion, and needed a fresh bowl, minus the sprinkles.

It took four minutes before Katerina was dressed to go outside, and had even zipped her jacket without help.  She played alone in the backyard, sweetly singing on the swing.  I rapped on the kitchen window from time to time, blowing kisses at each other.

Meanwhile, Nikolas and Elizabeth enjoyed-rather, I enjoyed thirty minutes of peace while they played video games, and were miraculously and momentarily jovial.

DSC_0497

Katerina and I played farmer’s market and kitchen, Nikolas practiced his yo-yo tricks (which were pretty amazing!), Elizabeth tapped some new scratches on her bedroom floor, claimed that she desperately needed to practice for her upcoming dance competition, and it wasn’t even nine-thirty in the morning!

DSC_0485

We cheered the contestants on while watching the Price is Right, the happiest show on TV.  It’s also a way that I reconnect with my grandparents, who passed years ago.  I well remember Grandpa Sharp, standing up and turning off the TV when Bob Barker kissed a lady, harshly saying, “You kids don’t need to see that kind of garbage!”  Elizabeth feigned groveling depression due to “the most depressing commercials, ever,” eventually announced that she couldn’t bear it any longer, and retired to her wreck of a room for more dance practice.

DSC_0498

Lunch was leftovers, and after, Katerina guilted me into doing a science experiment.  It was pretty cool making blue elephant toothpaste.  I’m just about exhausted of ideas for science experiments.  Please send me some new ones if you could.

We watched Little House on the Prairie in the afternoon.  Elizabeth claims that its chauvinistic-yeah perhaps, but it’s feel good TV, unless it’s the episode with Sybil, small pox, or Laura with the crazy mom trying to kidnap her.  During the commercial break, Katerina donned her Little House attire and made me dress up in my old-timey dress.

11043214_10153084482094286_4414377759361128384_o

Later, we were decked out in our snow gear for some sledding.  We walked over to St. Olaf Hill and half of the time was spent refereeing Elizabeth and Nikolas with their constant fighting, pushing each other in the snow and my threatening them that they’d be grounded for two weeks if they didn’t stop.  I thought Elizabeth was really cute how she stuck her legs out to slow down.

DSC_0513

DSC_0511

 

DSC_0504

Flying down from the top of that scary hill transported me back to age eleven, snow blinded and splendidly reckless. Likewise, little Katerina showed no fear.  She plopped penguin style, belly first on her sled and howled all the way down with sheer delight!

DSC_0508

Soaked and bones a-thawing, I made some fresh whipped cream for proper cups of hot cocoa.  Once I convinced the kids that they had received equal amounts of whipped cream, we snuggled on the couch and allowed the hot cocoa to seem inside our souls, reminding us that life is wonderful.

DSC_0515

The day continued, but I needed a solid twenty minute nap.  Meanwhile, Nikolas had gone back outside and built an igloo.  Why would he first take a warm bath, change out of wet clothes, and then head back outside?  Because Nikolas is a twelve-year-old boy!  I did make him use the hair-dryer, but I guarantee you, he’d left it damp.

The snow in MN is generally very dry, powdery.  However, the temperature made for a perfect snowball throwing and fort building environment.  Nikolas was very proud indeed of his igloo, said he’d sleep there once he’d decorated it with Christmas lights.  He never slept in it.

11083966_10153136872864286_3284402484260081687_o

I made Greek gyro, tzatziki, cinnamon rice and tomato salad for supper, left it to cook for three hours.

Board games were next on the list, and I kept Monopoly hidden inside the far recesses of the armoire.  The last time the kids played Monopoly it was a bonafide disaster, another story, altogether.

DSC_0517

First we played Chutes and Ladders, in which Elizabeth’s almost frantic need to win was disconcerting.  She accused Nikolas of cheating, and wouldn’t let it go until she won.  Nikolas said he wasn’t going to play until Elizabeth quit, and dealing with those two bickering, helped me to remember why we very rarely had game nights.  I read posts on facebook or see commercials of a happy family laughing, enjoying an idyllic board game night of togetherness.  Well, it just didn’t pan out quite like that at our house, but hey, there were bouts of fun (I think).

Finally, our last game was Trouble.  I hereby declare that Trouble is the single-most annoying board game in existence.  It lasted for-freaking-ever!  I don’t even remember who won.

Although I looked forward to the roads being cleared and getting out of the house first thing the following morning, as well as our upcoming road trip later in the week, I’d chalk our staycation as a success, with a little bit of sweetness tucked inside.