Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!

I love ice cream. My involvement is deep and goes way back. I have early memories of PaPa (my grandfather) cranking by hand the wooden ice cream maker containing my grandmother, MaMa's, fantastic vanilla ice cream with just a hint of lemon.

One summer when I was young, my father even opened an ice cream shop called The Big Dipper with the high school principal. The Big Dipper served hand-scooped ice cream among them the best peanut butter flavor I've ever had. I had forgotten how much I adored that ice cream until we went to Vero Beach last year and had a variety of peanut butter that came pretty close--I tried it several times to come to that highly sophisticated conclusion.

The Big Dipper only survived one summer in my small hometown due to the soft serve place that opened down the street. They had arcade games. What can I say, it was the 80s and there was just no competing with Pac Man and Asteroids.

When we moved to Ohio seven years ago we were introduced to Graeter's ice cream. After a long unfulfilled ice cream need left by our time in Atlanta, the creamy French pot style of Graeter's was like coming home. My family each have our specific favorite flavors--no need to ask what we want when someone is making a Graeter's run. Mine has always been cheesecake, which actually has sizable chunks of my favorite non-ice cream dessert making it a brilliant marriage of taste and texture. It was a staple in my diet when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, Ellie. In fact, it was the last thing I ate before I delivered her. So you can imagine my horror when the news came weeks later that Graeter's would be eliminating cheesecake ice cream from their menu. I was a postpartum, hormonal, sleep-deprived, nursing mother. When Monte came back from Graeter's with plain vanilla, I was devastated. Anger raging inside (which quickly turned to hysterical sobbing) I immediately drafted a letter to Graeter's trying to explain that discontinuing the cheesecake flavor was no less barbaric and horrific than them ripping my newborn daughter from my arms and running away, never to be seen again. No warning, no good-byes.

I was a bit of a mess and Monte tiptoed into the den to see what all the racket was about. He just nodded slowly with eyebrows engaged as I blubbered through the pain and loss of my beloved cheesecake ice cream. Monte's smarter than I give him credit. He knew any word uttered aloud would've ensured his complete and thorough verbal assassination--and a night on the couch. This was ice cream, after-all.

That was almost four years ago and I've moved on to strawberry--peach and key lime pie when it's in season. Life does have a way of moving forward. We were celebrating McDaniel's last soccer game at Graeter's Sunday when I saw, like a vision, the enchanted word "cheesecake" listed among the other flavors. Yippee doesn't even come close. Even though I never mailed my hormonally charged letter to Graeter's (I can't seem to find it anywhere either, which smacks of Monte's wisdom yet again) I still take a small bit of credit for the cheesecake flavor's return. It just makes good sense--a baby needs to be with its mother.

Friday, May 19, 2006

ALL THE THINGS I ONCE KNEW BUT SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE FORGOT

I've learned so much from my daughters. There is such a pure unjaded truth they have that I feel I've lost somewhere in adulthood. You know, all those things you once knew but somewhere along the line forgot. Important things, like enthusiasm, wonder and pure joy for life. Along with that my daughters have a fear of things that don't figure into their simple understanding of life. Like flies. I'm not sure why, but they are terrified of the household fly. My daughters are 7 and 3 1/2 and McDaniel (who is 7) recently went through a series of questions with me regarding flies.

"Do they help make flowers grow?"

No.

"Do they eat bad bugs?"

No.

"Do they sting?"

No.

"Why are they here?"

I have no idea.

The very idea that I had no idea on why flies exist scared my girls. If we are really honest with ourselves, isn't that what keeps us up at night--the unexplainable? Isn't a little fear what keeps us honest, exercising and kneeling to pray? Maybe flies are somewhat sinister--what little I saw of the movie The Fly was pretty freaky--and I just forgot somewhere along the line to fear them.

McDaniel came to me a few weeks ago with a confession. "I've been buying snacks at school," she admitted. Her elementary school has a credit system of buying lunches. We put money into an account that she can use by just giving the account number to the lunch lady when she purchases lunch. The idea is to prevent bullying and young children losing their money, etc. Somewhere the sense of financial responsibility is lost in the "charge it to my account" process, but that's another story.

It never occurred to us that McDaniel, our first born and one who always asks permission to do anything, would start adding chips, brownies and cheese filled breadsticks to her account. After she admitted to her sneaky snacking charges, I thanked her for being honest. I asked her how long it had been going on and she painfully admitted several weeks. Whoa. When I asked why she told me now she said, "It just bubbled up inside me." The relief on her face was priceless.

I know, in certain situations, I ignore the "bubbling up inside me" and I stubbornly torture myself by denying myself the opportunity for relief. When did I forget that it's okay to admit to sneaking, lying or being afraid of things that you just can't explain? It helps that there is always a pair of arms to wrap around you and say, "It's okay, because you told the truth." Even if that hug happens only deep inside.

Confession is never easy like having to admit that McDaniel is smarter and braver than me. But I'm still learning…from my girls…all the things I once knew but somewhere along the line forgot.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

(I'd like to thank my sister-in-law Gretchen for giving me the idea to start a blog. I've enjoyed reading hers and feeling a part of her life even though she is far away.)

Some people hear melodies in their head or rhythms bump-bump-bumping begging to come out. Some people count, calculate or reorganize numbers in their mind for comfort. Some people type out every word they say on an imaginary keyboard in their lap.

I'm not one of them.

In my head I constantly answer questions talk show interview style. You know, a funny story, a clever comment and a quick profound insight that isn't too totally a "what I know for sure" moment. Then I edit the whole response over and over. I've done this for as long as I can remember--lying in bed, sitting in class, driving the car, mingling at parties. Sometimes I've actually tried them out on people and not all of them bombed.

It took me sometime to realize that I wasn't fantasizing about being famous (which I would never want to be) but I was actually writing and editing mini stories in my brain. So, instead of always complaining about being a frustrated writer (frustrated that I NEVER write) I've decided to finally write down weekly what I've always got going on in my ol' noggin anyway. It may not always be pretty but it will give me some good practice. Please feel free to Simon Cowell me--I'll only get better with criticism. Like Monte says about his jokes--it's quantity over quality. I hope to provide quality writing a little more than he does with his punch lines. Nonetheless, he's my biggest fan and I love him. As Andrea's friend Scott liked to call us, I give you Karmonte. Enjoy!