Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Candy

     After we are done with our schoolwork for the day the girls and I have been enjoying creating quite a variety of Christmas candy and treats.

    Every year we try several new recipes while still making all of our favorites.

    On the list of candy that gets made every year is a surprisingly simple and delicious truffle. I'm not sure truffle is the correct name for them, but since that was what they were called in the recipe I used we have kept the name.

    I start by dumping an entire pack of Oreos into the food processer to reduce them to nice even crumbs, and then add an eight ounce package of softened cream cheese and mix it up.

    I refrigerate it for several hours and then using a teaspoon measure I scoop out bits of the Oreo mixture and form into little balls which I then dip into melted chocolate.

    I like using the mint filled Oreos, but any flavor will work. Delectable little treats that look a lot more difficult to make than what they are.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cleaning House

     Sharing a little about my house of memories, and then your gentle encouragement to address that dark room gave me that extra push I needed to finally venture in where I had banned myself from going for more than fifteen years.

     I wandered in through the first two rooms, pausing a little at the wall of little shields. I looked at several and I could feel my courage slipping. Why bother continuing on to that dark room when I have so many other memories I could focus on instead?

     A noise distracted me though as a box tumbled down over the wall and I discovered just how cowardly I really am. It felt as if I couldn't breathe, and a dull panic seemed to press in from every side as I forced myself to go pick up that box and instead of flinging it back into the dark room like I have been doing for years and years I slowly opened it turning my head slightly in hopes the full impact of the contents wouldn't hurt quite as bad if I didn't look at them straight.

    I allowed the memory to play back. It was ugly, but somehow it didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would. I closed the box and set it on the floor, I would be brave I told myself, I have to be. Part of me was still screaming to run the other direction, but the other part was telling me it's time to do this.

     I opened the door and like I expected a flood of boxes came tumbling at me. I reached for the nearest one that had landed by my feet and opened it. The contents weren't what I expected at all. Instead of a clear full memory, only a few dried up specks of something rattled in the corners of the box. Having been closed up so long they had dissolved and disappeared, the only trace that there used to be something awful there were those few specks and a lingering bad smell. I tossed the box into the garbage and went to pick up the next. I was surprised as box after box came up basically empty. There were a several piles of boxes that still held ugly things, but somehow having discovered all the empty boxes I found I was brave enough to make myself watch as the contents played themselves for me in a sort of detached way. A way that I realized that these things I had been blocking for so many years no longer had power over me. I had been afraid I would feel the same burning hatred I used to, but that was totally gone.

     I went through the entire room, and when I was done I knocked down the walls. It's no longer necessary to have it. The boxes that still had contents have been stacked in a corner of the shadowy room. Strangely they also changed their color, instead of black they're now various shades of gray. They still hold ugly things, but they no longer cause the blinding, choking, pain when I see them. I realize that these will probably never dry up and disappear like so many of the others in that room did, but they also no longer hover in the background threateningly like they had previously.

     When the last thing was cared for I wandered back out to the wall of shields. Maybe the reason they are in shapes of shields is because he really did love me in his own way and did the best he knew how. I allowed a few to open, and I knew I did the right thing all these years choosing to only allow my children to see these manipulated shields, to only see the good things.

     My life is better than I ever imagined possible while I was growing up and all those dark memories were being made, I might share some of how God was directing my path even then. Truly He gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning. Above and beyond what I ever dreamed possible.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Answered Prayers

     After several tear filled days when it looked like we would have to say good-bye to our beloved dog I was at the point where I wished it would be over and we could start the healing/grieving process instead of the drawn out waiting for the inevitable.

    Things changed this weekend, and instead of planning a doggie funeral, we are rejoicing that he has been healed, thanks to answered prayers. He lost a lot of weight during this ordeal, but other than that he is back to normal.

     We're feeling very thankful, and it has reminded us once again how we need to value every day. Life is so fleeting.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

House of Memories

    My memory has always been very good, so good in fact that my mother used to find it somewhat consternating by all the things I could recall perfectly even from a very young age. Just how my brain works to catalog all these memories is something I don't understand. I've heard people describe memories as kind of like a filing system which automatically brings a picture of filing cabinets and tons of file folders to mind each containing it's own memory. That image doesn't describe what I feel or see when I look at the past.

    My memory happens to be more of a house of sorts. The first room is spacious, sunny, and colorful. And constantly changing. It's not outdoors, but somehow there are butterflies, flowers, and trees involved. The leaves on the trees shift as moment by moment little memories attach themselves, the butterflies flit about, the constant change seems to be because it's my short term memory, it's the life I'm living right now. Even when things go wrong this sunny room always stays sunny.

     Things that need to be remembered longer are stored in the next room that keeps growing larger and larger every year to hold everything I need to store. It's in this sweet room where I wander into to look at memories. Things I enjoy replaying. Each one being its own unique shape, color, or item. There are shelves of books all with beautiful covers that I take down when I want to tell the children some little childhood memory. There are rows of glowing lights, not exactly chandeliers, but more than orbs, where memories of entire days of being a newly wed are stored. A huge silver framed mirror that can be pulled forward revealing where hundreds of little replica mirrors are hidden that hold every minute of our wedding day. Neatly wrapped little packages store memories of the dates Mr. Pepper and I had leading up to our wedding day. The birth of each of our children each has its own lovely memento. Flower vases, bouquets, and music boxes hold treasured memories of my mother. Indistinct colorful patterns on the walls hold memories of friends standing out only when an effort is made to locate something. Babies firsts are all in cozy baby toy and blanket packages. I could describe this room further, but I think you are starting to get the picture. One thing that does stand out in this room though is a section of wall, all by itself that is lined with little shields. These little shields have been manipulated. They've been shined, polished, and pieces removed to leave only the bits that I want to see, and the only bits that I have allowed my children to see. I have visited these manipulated shields so often, I have showed them to my children, to my friends, and to myself so often that sometimes even I don't remind myself where the remaining bits of these shields are. These shields happen to be the good memories I have of my Dad. Why they are in the form of a shield though I have never really figured out.

     Wandering into the next room takes a little time to adjust my eyes after having been in the two previous beautiful rooms. It's shadowy, memories here are more dim and dusty. They're vivid enough when I open the item they are stored in, but mostly I don't visit this room very often.

     And then there is this huge, ugly, dark, room that I keep locked with memories that make me cower in dread and pain. Every once in a while a black box will come tumbling down over the wall, but I've been practicing for years opening that door and flinging it back inside with out allowing myself to look at the contents and slamming the door shut before any others tumble out. It's in this room where the things I have chipped off those polished shields have been banished to. Everything in this room is a memory of my Dad.

     I don't know why, but lately it feels as if maybe I need to go through that dark room. Like last night I woke up at 12:30 and spent hours trying to fling back an avalanche of black boxes before they burst open too wide. I didn't want to see the contents, but even though I didn't allow any boxes to fully open the pain was nearly overwhelming. Maybe I'll be brave enough soon .......

Monday, December 1, 2014

When Life Hands You Lemons

     We took a break from homeschooling for Thanksgiving week, and instead focused on family, friends, and food. With a few other things life threw at us in the mix.

     My hitting a raccoon on the way home from Christmas pageant practice the other week was made to look trivial when Mr. Pepper hit a deer, totally disabling our van. It's times like this I'm thankful for insurance.
     This morning we were ready to dig into a brand new week of school, having a break was making everyone feel like getting back to learning. We had barely cracked our books open when our oldest son discovered there is something seriously wrong with our dog.

     Everyone was sure he is dying, and somehow floods of tears don't mix well with anything we had planned to study. I'm actually surprised we made it through our scheduled lessons for the day. Our dog is still breathing, somehow. Whether he survives the day until Mr. Pepper gets home with our only working vehicle remains to be seen.

     Until then I feel pretty helpless. This is not the way I had looked forward to starting a new week, or the month of December.