I keep telling myself to write something on the meaning of life. I have so many thoughts and ideas and philosophies and feelings. And these things change now and then. Maybe several times in a day.
Once upon a time, over 30 years ago, Nick and I saw a therapist. We went because we were worried about one of our children and we wanted tools to help him. The therapist asked me "what do you do for yourself". I replied that I am a La Leche League Leader and that's what I do for myself. She persisted- No, what do you do just for YOU. She stumped me. But now I know (and I did then too) that being a source of support and knowledge that can support other mothers is what I was doing for myself. I know that is part of why I continue in La Leche League. Of course in the early days I was one of the moms as well. Even though I was there to help other moms, I needed support and friendship too.
Now I see myself in the role of a mentor/ mother/ grandmother figure. The moms who come to me now can't identify with me as their peer. I am not there peer. But they know that I will take the concerns and feelings seriously. They know that if I don't have an answer, I will try to find an answer.
Does that mean that service to others is the meaning of life. No, I don't think so. I couldn't be a counselor a minister. But it does compliment all of the things that make up me.
My kids were everything in a way, for a lot of years. At times I resented them for how much energy I had to give away to my children to keep them safe and myself sane. They are still incredibly important to me. They grew in me. Physically, but emotionally too. We did things like play with play-dough and make cookies. They had chores. I yelled at them way too much. I was frustrated and often felt that I must be doing the whole mothering thing wrong, or they would be perfect little angels.
And now, it's mainly just Nick and I in this big house- except for when one or more stay with us. And, as much as I miss my kids, I sometimes wonder, how did we do it? How did we raise. live with, feed, bathe and survive all of us together. It seems like it was all a dream.
I am happy that I had five children? Yes. Do I get the meaning and worth of myself from being their mother? I think about all of them every day of my life. But my days, waking and sleeping, don't revolve around them any more.
Obviously, if I hadn't become a mother, I would have still been capable of being a whole, happy and complete human being.
I have scheduled my knee replacement surgery for the other knee. My right knee. March 17th is the date.
I swore I would never, ever do this again. Reading back over my blog posts from August on for the first few months, it was really hard and painful. Now, my left knee is not 100% "normal", but at 65, I am not sure what normal looks like. It is so much better than before the surgery.
I have never made this recipe before and have never used this flour. But I am really in the mood for cookie gun cookies. If I remember I'll post on how it all turned out!
Gluten-Free Spritz Cookies
Gluten-Free Spritz Cookies are buttery and tender. A gluten-free flour blend-- and good cookie press--makes these one of the easiest Christmas cookies to bake. They are lovely on their own or decorated with a sprinkle of colored sugar.
1 cup unsalted butter softened (8 ounces; 225 grams)
2/3 cup granulated sugar 5 ounces; 142 grams
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour* 10 ounces; 283 grams
1 teaspoon salt 5 grams
Colored sanding sugar for decorating optional
1-3 teaspoons water
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg. Mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Mix for 15 seconds. Turn mixer off and add the flour and salt. Tun the mixer to medium-low. Mix until a dough forms.
Fill a cookie press according to the manufacturer’s directions. Press cookies onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
Bake until cookies are edges are golden brown, about ten minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about three minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Repeat with remaining dough. (If the dough won't release from the press during the second batch of cookies, stir in a little water, about 1-3 teaspoons. Sometimes the dough stiffens between batches. Adding water solves the problem.) Allow baking sheet to cool between batches or the cookies will spread.
Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
* Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Flour was used to test this recipe. If you don't have this flour, replace it with a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend that contains xanthan gum OR with 1 1/4 cups white rice flour, 1/2 cup sweet rice flour, 1/4 cup potato starch, 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum. Whisk ingredients together and then use as directed in the recipe.
Classic Christmas Desserts, Cookies, Gluten Free Christmas Cookies, Holiday Cookies
I'm not sure if I am melancholy or just tired. We had our second Christmas even in a week. Last Saturday my friend Shannon and I hosted a cookie party at my house. Yesterday we hosted a Christmas party, pot luck, gift exchange here.
I cooked a beautiful turkey. We had gravy that I had frozen from Thanksgiving, Nick cooked a ham. We had everything you can imagine and nobody went hungry. I didn't take many pictures, but I am hoping that some of the others in the group will share there pictures with me!
This morning I was remembering Christmases past. Particularly I am thinking about the kids' first Christmases.
Our first two years overseas, I was pregnant both years at Christmastime. I lost the first baby shortly after New Years. The second year I was nice and round with Courtney in my belly.
For her first Christmas, Courtney was 10 months old. We were living in College Park, Maryland. I don't remember much about what we did in our house. My memories are mostly of us visiting grandparents. We went to Nick's parents, Courtney was dressed in a cute red (probably velvet) dress, white tights with ruffles on her bottom and her Stride Rite shoes. As a fairly new walker, she wanted her shoes off. The Sherwood grandparents had hardwood floors. Courtney kept slipping and sliding in her tights, so we took them off and she scampered around in her pudgy bare feet.
For Morgan's first Christmas we were living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He was almost 10 months old. I am not sure if he was walking yet, but I do remember the cute green pajamas he was wearing. Both kids were old enough to enjoy tearing presents open!
Darcy's first Christmas was in Tromso, Norway. He was only 3 months old, so I suspect he nursed and slept through much of it.
Austin was seven and a half months old for his first Christmas. We were living in Reston, Virginia then. Austin was certainly able to appreciate tearing and trying to eat wrapping paper. I don't think he quite understood that there were neat things wrapped up in the paper.
Chance was not quite 3 weeks old for his first Christmas. He was born in Hong Kong and we were staying in a hotel in Hong Kong. We choose the hotel for the proximity to the Toys R Us store! Since we were in a hotel, we didn't have a Christmas tree. We put tinsel on the wall in the shape of a tree. Somehow Santa was able to find us in our hotel room!
Christmas 1990 was our first Christmas as a family of seven. Five kids and Nick and me.
Christmas 2017 is the last time we were all together for Christmas. Plus Darcy and Morgan's partners.
That year (2017) I was recovering from brain surgery. An infection that I got a few weeks after the surgery put me back into the hospital. We were not even sure if I would be home in time for Christmas, but I was really more concerned about getting the infection cleared up than getting home. Everyone could have come to the hospital is they had to.
This is our second Christmas in our "new" house in Aldie, Va. I'm not sure who will be here, if anyone. Austin is heading back to Maine. Chance is pet sitting for a friend on Christmas day. It's okay. One thing we have learned having a big family, and also living the Foreign Service life, is to be flexible.
Gifts have been sent to the homes of our out of town kids and partners. Gifts are here under the tree for the local kids if and when they can come.
We have seen our family grow. And then get smaller with the losses of loved ones. It seems that life is constantly moving and changing.