Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Wedding History

I've been thinking about my wedding history this week - a history which really doesn't match my social status at all. My marriage history, on the other hand, is rather strait-forward and basic (met my husband at 18, married at 21, 2 kids and a dog). As any woman over the age of 32 who's been married for at least four years can tell you, weddings and marriages are two entirely different things. (It takes women a bit of time to learn it, but I suspect any man of any age is aware of that fact.)

When it comes to weddings, my first exposure to a wedding (and, thus, my concept of a "normal" wedding) was my uncle's wedding. It was the summer after my first grade year, so I was 5 years old (I started first grade young) and my uncle married this absolutely wonderful, lovely woman from high Dallas society. If I told you her name, you'd recognize it because her family is that well-known - so I won't - but I will tell you that the wedding was at a very large, very nice church downtown and the reception was at the Dallas Country Club.

My cousins and I were bridesmaids, dressed in gorgeous, floor-length white dresses with flower wreaths in our hair, and the men all wore tails. The rehearsal dinner was at the very top of some building in downtown Dallas in a very nice restaurant which I did not even come close to appreciating at that age, but looking back now I suspect I'll never set foot in it again so it's a pity I spent the entire night looking out the window and marveling at how tiny everything looked from that high up.

Needless to say, the wedding was exceptional and I thought: "So this is a wedding? How lovely! I can't wait to do this myself someday!" I think my parents realized a dangerous precedent was set, but what could they do?

A few short years later (I was 9 or 10 at the time), I was up at 3 a.m. to watch Diana's wedding. I'd been following the engagement obsessively and for years afterwards, at every birthday and Christmas I asked for more coffee-table books with photographs of Diana and her wedding. I couldn't get enough of it. Clearly, I'd developed a dangerous perception of what a wedding entailed. I can honestly say that I spent hours poring over every photograph of Diana that came within arms reach of my small hands. Even my obsession with Garfield cartoon books didn't come close to my obsession with my royal wedding books.

By the time I was engaged (aged 20) there was no question in my mind that I'd be married in the evening, the men would wear tails, and I'd have a cathedral length train on my wedding dress. It seemed rather obvious to me at the time. Looking back, I'm stunned and grateful that my parents pulled it off in grand fashion without putting our family into debt. My dad was just starting his business at the time, my kid brother was about to attend college, and we were not wealthy. Not at all.

And yet, I had exactly the wedding I wanted at 21 years old - tons of roses, bridesmaids in white dresses, men in tails, and a brocade wedding dress with a train so long that it probably weighed one-third of what I weighed in my birthday suit. I had fun shopping with my mom for bargains and loved the challenge of getting exactly what I wanted at the lower-cost options in town. Who cared if the flowers came from a bright fuchsia building on the "bad" side of town if the customer service was amazing and the roses were perfect? Those snotty society florists weren't listening to what I wanted anyway. (No baby's breath. Get that stuff out of my bouquet immediately.)

So that's my wedding history. If I'd married later in life, the wedding would take place on a beach and my feet would be bare. But as I watched William and Kate tie the knot yesterday morning (at 3 a.m. with my own daughter by my side), I teared up and smiled as I remembered how I felt watching Diana and what an impact she had on me and my own wedding.

There's something to be said for celebrating the beginning of a marriage in grand style and dressing like a princess for one day in your life. I'm really glad I had that experience, but I think I appreciate it only because it was the prelude to a marriage that's been tough at times but has been 100% worth it because I'm married to someone who treats me royally on a regular basis. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Controlling Basil and Defeating Wheat

This is my new garden. Not bad, right? Of course, I haven't actually eaten anything out of it yet...but that's a minor detail. I'm sure baby tomatoes, green onions, and a lovely mesclun mix is in my future.

I've realized I'm not in control of cancer, I'm not in control of how other people treat me (or what they think of me), and I'm not really even in control of my career (although I still believe there's hope for a certain amount of career-control after I've racked up a few more grey hairs). Although I know Mother Nature probably has her own ideas about my tiny little garden, I can at least water it every day and plant radishes (a vegetable which adds no discernible value to a plate other than its lovely red color). There's something to be said about grabbing control wherever you can get it.

We just found out that we're going to have to make some dramatic changes to my son's diet (no cane sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, no wheat, no rice, no milk, no eggs, no carrots, no MSG, no benzoic acid....etc....etc....). After a few weeks of feeling out of control about my mom's diagnosis (and other issues), I have to admit that even though I ache for my 8-year-old boy who won't be snacking on treats the way he wants to snack, I was thrilled to be given this challenge. It feels like a gift from heaven to be able to approach a problem academically and actually make some headway against it.

So....the regular gluten-free diet won't work for us because we're also dealing with a rice intolerance? No problem, I found rice-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free recipes. (I know, I know -you think I'm talking about water and bananas when I say that...but there is a little more variation available to us.)

In a way, my garden and our new diet adventure work hand-in-hand. I'm suddenly a lot more interested in knowing exactly what is going into my children's mouths. Here's an interesting fact: did you know that every single can of chicken broth on the market seems to contain carrots? Carrots are one of the foods that cause the most severe reactions for my little man. As a result, this former vegetarian mom chopped up a dead chicken and tossed it in the crock pot today so I could make my own chicken broth. Broth that doesn't contain anything other than chicken, onion, celery, salt, pepper and water.

Bang. Problem solved.

Hand me another one, world. I'm up for it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just Watch

I tried to think of what I wanted to write to convince you to watch this video but all I can say is watch it. My dear friend K shared it with me today. Just what I needed - but a mere 20 minutes long. All the emails I received from you guys after my last post were great and helpful. I was trying to find the "Truth" - and it really does come down to vulnerability. Once I'm willing to go there, the world will open.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Avoiding What I Want. Or What I Think I Want.

So, now I'm avoiding writing. I'm also avoiding playing the piano. And I still haven't joined a choir even though I know that's what I want to do more than almost anything else in the world and that once I do it the heavens will align and my life will be complete.

Ok. I don't really think that. But I do want to join a choir and stuff. And I'm not doing it.

I'm not too busy. Don't get me wrong. I'm very busy. Insanely busy. But that's nothing new for me and, really, in the big scheme of things I've been busier at other points in my life. I'm only working 25 hours a week (supposedly) for goodness sake. We have plenty of busy evenings, but we have a lot of nice, quiet family evenings and it's wonderful.

The truly odd thing is that for about a month I was playing the piano every single night. I spent a good 30-45 minutes practicing and even started every practice session with scale-type hand exercises. It was very disciplined and systematic. I got good at it very quickly and was playing easy versions of Beethoven within a week - feeling very proud and fulfilled.

So, let's review. I was happy about what I was doing and (significantly) I felt very successful about it. My family was proud of me and it calmed me down better than wine. It was 100% good for me. It enriched me on a very deep level.

Then, out of nowhere, I started avoiding the piano like the plague. I know that about six of you read this on a regular basis because you email me comments and sometimes you post. You guys know me - so I ask you...what's up with me? I have some theories but I don't even want to post them at this point because I'd prefer to hear your ideas.

Once we get the piano question figured out, I guess I can tackle the writing and choir issues - but I suspect they are strongly related to each other.

Friday, April 1, 2011


There's writing inside of me today, pushing to get out.

At first I figured I needed to write about how my mom was officially diagnosed with melanoma yesterday and how I've realized it's a good thing I went on a massive chore-orgy in the days leading up to it because I've now got nothing left to give. To anyone. I just need to get by for a few days and the loaf of bread baking in the oven will probably be my stellar accomplishment of the month at this point.

But that's not what I wanted to write.

Maybe, I thought, I'm supposed to be writing about how I'll be spending this weekend camping out with other Boy Scout leaders as I earn my chaplain certificate. And how all I can think about is that I've got to put a tent up all by myself and wondering how far back I'll set the feminist movement if I have to ask a guy for help.

No - that's not it either. All my words today are about my plants. 

As you can see, they're humming along rather nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I was inspired to plant some more seeds. What followed is so classic-Jenn that I suspect any one of you could have predicted the outcome. 

I tend to do things in a hurry, although my mini-gardens are slowing me down just a bit. Last weekend I was all excited about getting some more stuff going, so I grabbed some small pots (you can't see them in this picture) and planted seeds. As I was planting the seeds, it occurred to me that it would probably be WISE to mark what plant was in each pot. You know. For future reference.

Since I was squeezing this chore in between items #217 and #219 on my to-do list, I decided not to worry about that detail. I figured if I ever wasn't sure what something was, I'd just pull off a leaf and eat it. 

(What??? I know. I'm not proud of my thought process, just sharing it here for your amusement.)

At any rate, I now have some cute little plants coming up in my smaller pots, but heck if I have any idea what they are. I'm pretty sure I planted the green onions in the white ceramic pot that I made a while back. But I could be wrong - the cilantro might be in that one. 

As I was laughing at myself earlier today, it dawned on me that I SHOULD HAVE grabbed some popsicle sticks from our massive closet-o-art-supplies, identified the plants, and popped those pop-sticks in dirt. Assuming, that is, that I could actually FIND the popsicle sticks in my closet. Yeah. That would've been a good idea. Maybe next time. 

In the meantime, I'll try to be more aware of situations like this in other areas of my life. You never know when that "identify things with labels" idea might come in handy again.