Monday, September 2, 2013

Goulash

This Labor Day weekend started with the boys coming down Friday evening and spending the night. I surprised them with one of their favorite (if not favorite) meals that I make - goulash. It's my mother's recipe, one that I've always loved myself. It was my favorite meal growing up. Every birthday, every time I was feeling under the weather, it was what I would ask for - and usually received. There was nothing better than my mom's goulash. There still isn't.

So of course I'm tickled pink when the boys get so excited about it. "It's one of my all time favorite meals." Spike said. It makes me grin. I don't have the heart to tell them that it has never tasted quite as good as what my mom made. I doubt it ever will be.

That's okay. I think that's the way it is supposed to be. I've shown Angel how to make it and will do so with Spike when he gets older as well. It is a very easy recipe and one that I hope gets passed down to their children as well. But I will lay odds that no matter how many times they make it for my future grand kids, it will never taste as good as what I made them. And I think that's the way it is supposed to be.

See, family recipes that are passed down like this are the best kind, because the five or six ingredients are not what makes it such a great dish. It's the love and the memories that it invokes. There has never been a time that I have made it and my mind hasn't wandered to moments of my childhood where I'd walk in the back door from school to see my mom at the stove, frying the meat and onions and peppers. Or the four of us gathered around the table discussing the day over that wonderful dish.

That's what I don't get in the goulash that I make for my kids, but what my kids get out of the same recipe. And I hope that when they do make it for their own family that it invokes those same wonderful memories, because if it does, then they will be making it with love. They'll be wanting to share that feeling with their own children. And they will. And that's why the recipe will live on as one of the best our family has.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Watching Big Brother

Our youngest child, the baby of the family, has a hero that he looks up to. It's not me or Chandler; not a superhero, a teacher, or an action star. No, Spike's hero is his older brother, Angel. He adores him, and I find that to be adorable.

The other day I was picking the kids up for the weekend and as I sat there waiting, Spike saw me, ran up and I brought my arms out for that hug that he always gives me... I didn't get it. What I got was a question. "Where's Angel?" I pointed to his brother, he saw him and then he hugged me.

That night we were all watching a movie and he fell asleep early. I carried him to bed (and let me tell you, that isn't getting any easier as he gets older), and after the movie the rest of the kids followed. Angel was sharing the double bed with Spike that night. I stayed up late to do my usual writing and chatting with my online friends and a few hours later I heard Spike get up and use the bathroom. Then he came from down the hall, looked around the living room and asked: "Where's Angel?" He didn't believe me when I told him he had to crawl over him to get out of bed. He stumbled back into the bedroom and I heard him say. "Oh yeah, there he is."

It makes me happy that Spike has a big brother who he adores, and a brother who loves him as well. They may squabble, but Angel loves his little brother, he watches over him. I'm happy for both of them.

It's something I never had and grew up wishing I did. A little brother to watch over, or even a big brother who I could have looked up to; who would have watched over me. Though looking back on it now, I'm glad it turned out this way. I'm old enough to appreciate it as it evolves.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Haunting

It's that time of year again. Ghosts, goblins, gouls, witches, and ugly scary creatures gather together to beg for food. No, I'm not talking about my family Thanksgivings of the past. It's Halloween!

This is probably my least favorite holiday of the year. In fact I'd pretty much take Columbus Day over this one. Even as a child I was never a big fan of it. Most of the candy I got would end up going to my sister anyway. Candy was never my bag. Like my father, I always wanted Chips, popcorn, or some kind of snack mix. Something with salt! Salt and a bottle of Pepsi. That's all I needed.

And don't get me started on the whole pumpkin carving thing! Slaughtering a vegtable is one thing, but ripping its guts out... Blecchhhh! Even the smell of it turns me off. Laverne isn't a fan of it either, but she stomachs it better than I do. Carving pumpkins is one of those events our children are lucky they have four parents, because Shirley and Chandler really get into it.

Nope, my holiday is just under a month from now. Bring on the turkey, dressing, taters, and cranberrys. It's almost time to stuff ourselves silly folks! Until then, have a safe and happy Halloween.

"I got a rock!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

A White Wedding

Kids are funny. Our kids (when they're not trying to drive their parents crazy) are down right hilarious. Sometimes it's on purpose, but most of the time it's the things they say when they are trying to be serious that cracks me up the most.

Spike has tried to convince me for over two years now that the third Mummy movie is better than The Dark Knight. This, in itself, is not funny (the child is gravely mistaken), but it's the serious look he gives me that makes me laugh. Tonight I read a story to him when he went to bed and when I finished we chatted for a few minutes. We got talking about superheroes (go figure) and he asked if the knew Iron Man movie was coming out soon. When I told him it would be next year he was excited but reminded me that it wouldn't be as good as the third Mummy movie. When I told him that it would be a lot better he patted my hand, looked me in the eyes with the wisdom of a grandfather and replied. "You'll understand someday."

Several months ago Willow and I were having one of our late night Father/Daughter chats. I wasn't feeling that well, my stomach was bothering me, and I jokingly said that I probably had dysentery. With a serious face she replied that she wouldn't be surprised if she had that as well. I asked her why she thought she would have that. Her reply. "You see how much sugar I eat in a day." I was confused for a moment then started laughing. "You mean Diabetes?" I asked her. Her face got as red as her hair when she realized the faux paux. I promised her I wouldn't tell anyone. Oops.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a new pair of glasses. They are the thicker frames, square, and black. Personally I'm still on the fence on if I like them on me or not, but I've received some great feedback from everyone where I work. Tonight Chandler and our boys went out to dinner and I asked Angel why he didn't care for them. He informed me that they made me look like Leonard from The Big Bang Theory. "Except he doesn't have a beard." Did he stop there as he studied my face with a serious expression? Nope! "And he has hair on his head." Then he went back to eating. That one I found funny, yet still wanted to throw my enchilada at him.

My favorite so far, though, came from Buffy. Her and I were in the car two weeks ago and I was playing my Billy Joel CD. "My Life" came on and she said she knew that song, then asked me who the singer was. When I told her his name she replied. "I really like him."

"You do?" I asked in shock. You see, Buffy is our resident rocker. Everything from AC/DC and Van Halen to Green Day. So I was really impressed with this news. I always tell my kids that they should appreciate a variety of music.

"Yeah, but I like his faster songs more. My favorite is "White Wedding.""

"That's Billy Idol." I replied, stifling an out and out laugh.

She grinned next to me. "Oh. Yeah, I like him. I don't think I like this guy that much."

Bill Cosby said it best: Kids say the darnedest things!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Real Life Terror

As Halloween approaches I'm seeing more and more scary movies on the television as well as in the movie theaters. I'm hoping that Chandler and I can get to the theater to see Paranormal Activity. I love scary movies, though not gory ones. Chandler enjoys both. He's seen all the Saw movies except for this latest one. He enjoys the Friday the 13th and the low budget Clive Barker movies. Dismemberment and disembowelment is fine with him. I don't get it, but I'll sit with him while we watch them; though I'll admit when I think it's about to get really gross, I turn my attention back to the safety of my lap top.

Me, I enjoy movies like Halloween, The Omens, Alien 1 & 2, Salem's Lot, and even though they are a bit on the gory side, I've always had a soft spot for Freddy Krueger and his Nightmares on Elm Street. That sinister laugh, the scraping of his razor gloves (eat your heart out Wolverine). Still, the best movies are the ones that show very little and leave most of it to your imagination. That's why I always thought the Blair Witch Project was ingenious in its execution.

Even at my age, on occasion, I can spook myself silly when I hear a noise that doesn't sound familiar, or when the dogs run to the window in the late night hours and continue to bark and growl. I mean, I can't see out there, so who knows what's watching me.

Right now though, there is a real life terror that lurks in the back of my mind. Chandler and I are in the process of building a new home. For the first two years we were together we lived in an apartment, followed by the last ten years in a mobile home park. It's been a nice place, can't really complain, and we've had a lot of laughter and tears here. A lot of living. All four of our children have done most of their growing up here with us on the weekends, holidays, other special occasions. So I can't complain.

Thing is, in the first relationship I was in, which lasted just over nine years, my partner and I (who I shall call Victor) lived most of it in a mobile home park. We too bought a home in a residential neighborhood (though it was a ranch style that was already built). Our relationship was rocky by then for several hundred reasons, and I think we both thought a real house would help solidify us again. It didn't. It just added to the destruction of the relationship. Although Victor becoming addicted to crack and staying out all night didn't really help matters.

Now I know that Chandler and I are strong, secure, and love each other as much as the day we met. We're both waiting anxiously with real excitement as we watch our new home being built. But sometimes when I lay awake in bed, or when I'm sitting up late on the weekends, I think back to my first time with a new home and Victor, and suddenly, irrationally, I start to hear the scraping of Freddy's razor gloves in the back of my mind.

Ghost, ghouls, goblins and eleven year olds who can spin their heads around and spit green pea soup. That's not scary. Wondering if you'll lose everything that you love most in life... that's scary.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

It's been a little while since we've had the kids at our house, and it amazes me in the two or three weeks in between quality time with them how much they change. Not in really big ways, but the small ones. The ones that make me glow inside.

Spike gets more and more rambunctious every day. This kids energy level is through the roof! It's really true what they say, youth is wasted on the young. LOL! His little quirks amuse me to no end. I'm not sure how he accomplishes it, but no matter where he starts out when we put in a movie to watch, he always ends up right in front of all of us - blocking the television. The cutest part is that he never realizes that he's doing it.

Like all of our kids, he's really got a heart of gold, as well. When our kids reach fifth grade, they go on a school trip to Washington D.C. When Buffy went, she asked Daddy Chandler to go with her. Last year it was Angel's turn and he asked me a long. Last week Spike asked Mommy Shirley if he had to go on the trip. When she said he didn't have to, but why wouldn't he, he replied that he didn't want to choose one parent over the other three.

Is that sweet or what! I really hope he gets over that feeling before he reaches fifth grade, though, because it is such a great opportunity. How do you convince your child that none of the parents are going to be upset with whomever he chooses. Personally, I'm hoping he chooses Laverne or Shirley. Neither of them have had the fun experience of a ten hour bus ride with a pack of fifth graders. And that's something everyone should get a chance to experience once in their life.

I picked Angel up after his play rehearsal tonight. Met Mom Shirley at the halfway point and drove him back to the house. Angel, at 11, is in that awkward stage... for me, not him. He's still a kid at heart, but when you get him to open up and talk, he sounds more mature every day - until he lets one rip in the car and then giggles uncontrollably. He's at the age that I find the hardest to understand or perhaps to relate to. He's not yet old enough to get the "blue" humor that I can toss at the two older girls, but he's too old for a lot of the silly nonsense that still makes Spike laugh.

Buffy, our soon to be 14 year old daughter has done the most changing recently. Most of it good, some of it not so much. Not in a bad way, just in the teenage girl way that all parents deal with. At the same time, though, she is at the age where she is catching the more subtle jokes. She's relaxed a lot when it comes to my teasing (something I'm notorious in doing to all my children, but teenagers are really the MOST fun to do it to). But the best thing with Buffy is when we spend our alone time after everyone has gone to bed, she's opening up to me more. Opening up on how she's feeling, what's making her happy in her life. Granted, if she doesn't get enough sleep she can be a bear in the mornings, but our "special time" at night is worth it.

There is one sad point to all these changes, though. Our oldest daughter, Willow, will be 17 soon. We all know what that's like. Wanting to be with your friends, or worse... boyfriend. She's very social and active and that really is great. But we don't see her as much now. She's busy on the weekends with afterschool activities and dates. Can't blame her, I was the same way at that age. Chandler and I agreed a long time ago that as the kids got older we never wanted to force them to stay with us if they wanted to be with their friends and do the things that older teens want to do.

We just didn't realize that the kids getting "older" would happen so fast. But we can't complain about it, right? I mean that's life - it's constantly changing. *sigh*