Eat It, It’s Good For You

My Dad was one of 13 children born to immigrant parents.  Hearing Dad and his siblings’ stories about their growing years during the 1930’s and 1940’s  gave me the impression that if you were late to the table at meal time and the food was gone you’d better be faster next time.  You were grateful for whatever was put in front of you to eat and there was no such thing as picky eaters in that family.  That is probably why one of Dad’s rules when we were kids was that you had to eat everything that was put in front of you at meal time.  This was not always a pleasant experience because, of course, you are not always going to like everything that is put on the table.  I remember the time Dad had Mom cook a raccoon; it was awful and made the house stink.  Mom opened all the windows to air the house and some of the neighbors actually commented on the smell.  That might have been the only exception to Dad’s rule about eating because I don’t remember having to actually eat that cooked raccoon  Dad tried it and he must not have been too impressed because he never asked Mom to cook raccoon again.

One morning, a couple of years ago, I woke up thinking about spinach.  I know it’s a strange thing to think about upon first waking; that green leafy vegetable full of vitamins and minerals that kids are told is good for you.  I’ll eat spinach raw in a salad but there was absolutely no way I’d eat cooked spinach until the early 1990’s.  At that time I worked at a Law Firm with lady who was Italian and she would always bring different dishes into work to share.  One day it was cooked spinach and the sight of the dish took me back to the first time I had to eat the vile green stuff as a child.  I refused to try the dish and told her why but she insisted.  I didn’t want to hurt her feelings so I took a taste and I’m glad she insisted because it was delicious.  She called it “beans and greens”.  Spinach sauteed in olive oil with garlic powder to taste, crushed red pepper to taste, salt and pepper and a can of rinsed cannellini beans.  Believe me it’s really good with a piece of Italian Bread.  My eldest grandson enjoyed this so much that when he was older he had me write the recipe down for him so his Mom could make it and he now makes this dish himself.

When I was about 7 years old one particular dinner included cooked canned spinach.  As I looked at the mound of green, stringy stuff that was put on my plate I just knew it wasn’t going to taste good.  I’m sitting at the dinner table, moving the green stuff around with my fork and wishing I could sneak it onto one of my sisters’ plate.  Dad noticed and gave me “the look” which said I’m watching and you’re going to eat it.  I remember my first mouthful and the shudder I felt in my entire body.  It was just as yucky as it looked; mushy and bitter.  I told Dad I didn’t like it but he said “eat it, it’s good for you”.  Another taste, another shudder and I managed to swallow the green stuff.  I don’t remember why but Mom gave me a glass of root beer.  She probably thought it would encourage me to eat the spinach and avoid any problems.  So it was a taste of spinach, gag and shudder, then wash it down with a drink of root beer.  I had to keep going until the spinach was gone.  “Now that wasn’t so bad was it” Dad asked me with a grin.   I looked at him and without answering his question promptly vomited said spinach, with root beer, all over the dinner table.  My younger sister Pat had, and still does, a very delicate gag reflex and she followed suit loosing her dinner too.  Spinach and root beer is not a pretty sight and there were no leftovers kept from that meal.  Dad started gagging too and very quickly ran for the bathroom where we all heard him loosing his dinner.  I never had to eat cooked spinach again.

As our boys were growing up my husband also had this “eat what’s put in front of you thing”.  It must be a latent gene that becomes dominant in males upn attaining fatherhood.  I didn’t use root beer like my mother but I always made sure there was a plate of bread with peanut butter and jelly on the table at meal times.  My husband, wise man that he was, never said anything.  Our boys were expected to try new foods but if they didn’t like something they didn’t have to eat it; they could enjoy peanut butter and jelly.  Fussy eating eventually worked itself out as our boys got older.

I’m still not sure, though, why I woke up thinking about spinach that morning.

 

 

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Grandma’s Little Chicken Whisperer

I have 7 grandchildren ranging in age from 15 to the youngest who is now 3;  6 grandsons and 1 granddaughter.  They are, in my opinion, wonderful, intelligent, beautiful individuals who bring much joy to my life.    This, however, is about our youngest grandson who is celebrating his birthday today.  I’d like to share some things I wrote the day he was born and a few weeks after he was born.

I’m In Love Again (written July 3, 2014)

Today I met someone for the first time and it was love at first sight.  As I looked into his beautiful blue eyes I knew I was lost.  When his tiny finger closed around my finger he laid claim to a piece of my heart and I gave it willingly and without reservation.    As I held him in my arms my eyes filled with tears as I allowed myself to finally let go of the fear and feel the joy of him that I’ve kept buried these past months.  You see, there was another special someone I never got to meet two years ago and I was afraid it would happen again.

At 6:45 am today I met my 6th grandson and 7th grand child.  It is such a beautiful sight to see your child tenderly holding his child for the first time.  His arrival wasn’t easy but he and his mother were kept safe because God heard my prayers today and all the days of these past months.  Thank you Adam and Michell for this most precious gift.  Mom and Dad are still deciding on his name and I can’t wait to hear what they decide.

Welcome little one, Grandma loves you.

 Rocking Chairs, Babies and Heaven (written August 9, 2014)

Saturday the 9th was my husband’s birthday so I was up and around early making a chocolate chip date nut cake, one of his favorite cakes.  By 9:00 am the cake was cooling and I was sitting in my rocking chair on the back deck enjoying the fine summer morning.  Grandsons #3 and #5, who live next door to us, came running over and joined me.

“Hi Grandma, watcha doin”? asks Grandson #3.  “Just enjoying the day” I told him.  “Grandma, what happens when you’re dead” he asks.   There’s a saying “out of the mouths of babes” that often runs through my head when I’m having conversations with my grandchildren.  ” I don’t know, I haven’t been dead yet” I tell him.  “But what do you think happens when you’re dead, dead” he persisted.  “Then I would say you go to Heaven”.  “But where is Heaven”? both grandsons ask.  “I don’t know for sure since I haven’t been back there yet”.   They totally missed the back there part of my statement.  “Do you think Heaven is in outer space” grandson #3 asks.  “Maybe” I reply “or maybe it’s in another dimension” I tell them.  On a roll now, he goes on about the places where Heaven could be, like the edges of the universe or some weird places in the video games he plays.   “Heaven is wherever God is” I finally tell them.  “Grandma, when you die you have to come back and let me know where Heaven is and what it’s like” grandson #3 states.  “She’s not going to die” his brother yells while glaring at his brother.   Ignoring him, his older brother continues, “Grandma, promise you’ll come back.  You can leave me a note or haunt me but promise you’ll come back” grandson #3 insists.  “I’ll do my best” I promise.

Happy with that answer they both leave to go play and I continue to sit, rocking and enjoying the morning.  Soon my daughter-in-law comes over with the baby and they both join me for a visit.  He’s coming up on 6 weeks of age and is a delight.  We talk for a bit and she mentions needing to get some weeding done so I reach for the baby letting her know she can leave him with me.  Soon it’s just the two of us and since he’s awake and looking around I explain a bit about the world he’s seeing.  I tell him how blue and beautiful the sky is this day.  How the sun’s golden rays highlight the dew still present on the grass making it sparkle like diamonds.  I tell him about the clouds slowly floating by, huge and white and if he looks carefully he can sometimes see animals or people in the clouds.  That’s a game from my childhood I still play to this day.  I tell him to listen for the music of a summer’s day; the gently blowing breeze as it dances through the leaves on the trees, the melody of birdsong everywhere.  I tell him how it’s important to be able to sit quietly and enjoy the beauty of the moment.

Looking down I realize he’s fallen asleep so I continue to rock him and watch him.  I catch fleeting glimpses of smiles on his little face and I’m reminded of what my grandmother told me so long ago.  She said when a baby smiles in his or her sleep it’s because they’re being visited by the angels they played with in Heaven before they were born.  So I continue to rock him and watch him, feeling an overwhelming sense of love and peace and awed by the miracle of him.  I suddenly realize that God gives us hints about Heaven if we’re only wise enough to pay attention.  In that moment I know where Heaven is because I’m holding a tiny piece of Heaven in my arms.

 

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Today our little guy is a walking, talking, and very active 3 year old.   This picture is one of my favorites of him and I believe he heard my words to him that sunny August morning three years ago.  He shows me every day how to see the world with new eyes; to look with wonder, excitement and joy and see the beauty of each day.   We’ve gone fishing and caught sharks, we’ve traveled with his toy trains, flown with bubbles as they ride the wind.  His imagination is taking root and growing and I’m happy to travel on those adventures with him wherever it takes us.

We are beginning to wonder if there isn’t a smattering of Italian somewhere in our family trees as he has a habit of adding an “a” to his verbs.  “Tooka ma broom”, spanka ma butt” (that was Papa), “eata ma cookie”.  He loves to help with chores, especially taking care of his Dad’s chickens.  The birds may not be so fond of him, though, as he  likes to pick them up and he’s gotten into trouble on more than one occasion for chasing the chickens.  I call him my “chicken whisperer”.

On his first birthday we discovered he did not like the birthday song.  He started crying as soon as we started singing.  He cried at his cousins’ birthday parties when it came time to sing “Happy Birthday” too.   I’m not sure if it was the sound of our voices or the song itself but he would cry every time.  I don’t believe that will be a problem this year.  One of his favorite television shows highlights youngsters’ birthdays and he just smiles when the birthday song is sung.  If he cries again this year then I’ll know for sure it’s our singing.

I was laughing so hard when we were singing the birthday song to him at his party on July 1st that  I couldn’t hold the camera still.  The problem is obviously our singing.

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A family tradition I started with our eldest grandson’s first birthday was a visit from Grandma and Papa on the day of their actual birthday.  We bring the birthday child a package of those miniature cupcakes, a birthday card and gift.  Our teenage grandsons have assured me that they are not getting too old for those little cupcakes, it’s tradition after all.   We’ll visit Aiden later today and give him his birthday cupcakes.  Happy Birthday grandson, I love you.

 

All rights reserved.  I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it’s my story so no using or copying any content in any manner without the written permission of the owner…..me.