I love words. Could be why I write and edit for a living, do you think?
Recently, I was talking with a friend about our favorite words.
I've started a list:
Perspicacious- havingkeenmental perceptionandunderstanding;discerning:toexhibit perspicaciousjudgment. You have to love the way this word rolls off your tongue.
Apoplectic- of or pertaining to apoplexy, asudden,usuallymarkedlossofbodilyfunctionduetoruptureorocclusionofabloodvessel. I try to work this one into office conversation as often as possible. "If you don't meet deadline I'm going to be apoplectic!"
Lilliputian- A very small person or being. Another word I love partly for it's sound, partly because it creates a vivid image in my mind of something so small and petite. See also: Gulliver's Travels.
Pernicious - highly injurious or destructive; deadly. Such a harsh definition for such a lovely word.
Willowy - Resembling a willow tree, especially:a. Flexible; pliant. b: Tall, slender, graceful. Who wouldn't want to be willowy?
One more for today.
Titian - A bright reddish or golden auburn color. Nancy Drew had titian hair and I wanted it desperately.
"I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."- Alexander
OK, so I don't think I've ever gone to sleep with gum in my mouth, , but I DID go to bed last night wishing, hoping, PRAYING for a good night's sleep.
Let's just say it was a little better than the (whopping 2 hours) from the night before.
And when I got out of bed this morning, woozy from little sleep, I banged my arm into the corner of the dresser. And now there's a lovely bruise. I didn't drop my sweater in the sink, but the hair dryer is rattling death throes and I forgot to plug in the curlers (hello, ponytail).
I was about to get in the car after kissing my boys goodbye in their sleep and slipping out quietly when Curt comes FLYING out of the back door already in full hysterics because he didn't GET TO SEE ME THIS MORNING. A grand mal tantrum ensued which finally necessitated me kissing him on the head, firmly saying goodbye and leaving.
[insert tremendous amounts of mom guilt here]
I stopped by McDonald's to get a bucket of Diet Coke because really that's the only thing standing between me and a nap face down on my desk. But when I pulled away and unwrapped my straw to sink into that big styrofoam cup of deliciousness, I discovered it was Dr. Pepper. Or something equally as vile.
Then when I got to the office, I discovered I didn't have my key card to access the building. NOT a good position to be in when you're one of only TWO people at work that early in the morning. And when I had to change phones, I lost the number of the OTHER person who could let me in. Several minutes and bruised knuckles later from rapping on the front door loudly, someone let me in.
Did I mention this was all before 7 a.m.?
My best friend deserted me, I will not have dessert with lunch and I just hope there are lima beans for dinner and KISSING on TV tonight.
We've all heard the expression, I've just anesthetized it for blogging purposes.
But it doesn't change that stuff happens.
No one who has lived 38 years (or 58 or 28 or even 18) can claim that nothing bad has ever happened to them; that they've never encountered turbulent times, rough waters or any of the other cliches used to express periods in our life that generally stink.
But what really defines us is not WHAT happened, but HOW we react to it.
Lots of bad things can happen TO us.
We are even a party to some of it, or most of it, depending on the situation and how you view it.
But BAD THINGS don't have to define us.
I've had what a lot of people would consider bad things happen in my life.
Within a four-year period, my firstborn was diagnosed with autism, we carried two mortgages (two separate times), we had two houses (and one car) smashed by trees felled during natural disasters; lost both of my in-laws in painful ways, fought secondary infertility (and lost), stood by as two brothers-in-law battled cancer and we moved four times. And there were other bad things - really bad things - that had happened before that which will not be discussed on this blog.
But here I am. And, I think, a stronger person from all of that. I get so tired of hearing behavior excused with "they've been through a lot."
We all have.
My "bad things" might not be nearly as bad as your "bad things." That's not my place to judge. You never know someone's full story or the intricacies of the hand they've been dealt in life. But you do know, that if they've lived longer than about two minutes, they've been through something hard.
Just as long as that something doesn't define you.
"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isiah 41:10
When people who aren't familiar with autism ask me what makes Curt autistic, I tend to give them concrete examples instead of going into medical physiology that has yet to be substantiated anyway.
I'll say, "Well he can only wear pants with elastic waistbands. He doesn't like shirts with buttons. He has to know exactly what time it is and how long every task will take...." and so on and so forth. I am INEVITABLY met with the response, "Oh, well I change into my sweatpants and sweatshirt the minute I get home from work too! I don't blame the little guy," or something to that effect.
Then I explain the DIFFERENCE is that he CAN. NOT. FUNCTION. if he's wearing pants with a zipper and a snap or button.
Case in point. This morning just before 8 a.m. I'm at work thoroughly involved in a writing project. An email pops up. From Curt's teacher.
"Curt accidentally wore a pair of shorts with a zipper today. Can you please bring him some new ones so he can concentrate?"
Well of course I could. I flew home (thank you, Mr. Policeman, for not noticing I was flying down Old Bullard Road), grabbed the shorts with an elastic waistband and zipped up to the school. The office called Curt down and when he burst through the double security doors, his beautiful brown eyes were red and swollen from his meltdown.
In the great scheme of things, you might be thinking to yourself "Well he has to get over it." And he does. I've been lucky so far that Wal-mart Faded Glory brand still makes elasticized waistbands in size 8-10. But our luck isn't going to last forever.
But to a person with autism, somethingminoras wearing shorts with a zipper can be such a sensory cyclone that they cannot function otherwise.
So today's hiccup was really not a big deal. Problem, meltdown, problem solved. If nothing else, Curt is a study in resiliency. He tends to get over things much more quickly than I do.
My blood pressure STILL rises when I remember something that happened during Curt's first year of school. When Curt was 3 years old, we had to make the gut-wrenching decision to send him to school full time. A regular school day. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. I was NOT a stay-at-home mom to send my child off to an elementary school at age 3. He was a BABY. Not even in any kind of mother's day out program. But early intervention is critical for people with autism and the Texas Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities is a full-day language immersion, social skills, scheduled experience that I now credit with part of the reason he's doing so well now. Nevertheless, it was horrible to send my non-verbal BABY off to school. His backpack was larger than he was.
That was hard enough.
But I arrived to pick him up one day at the prescribed time of 3 p.m. and found him outside the school building, curled into afetal position with an adult I'd NEVER SEEN BEFORE.
Alarmed and distressed, I questioned the woman (an aide spared from another classroom) as to what had happened and why he was in this state.
They happened to be testing the fire alarms at school that day and the incessant QUACK of the signal sent Curt so over the edge that he had to withdraw completely into himself. And instead of calling me to come get him, this particular teacher made the decision to leave him in the environment that was so upsetting to him.
So every time I'm put back in that similar situation, I get very stressed out.
While sometimes the "exposure therapy" approach IS appropriate, when his third grade teacher emails and asks me to bring shorts and I know I can put him back into a place of comfort, I am more than willing to do so.
So full that my tummy, which I've been working so hard to flatten, is pooching. In a happy, macaroni and cheese-laden pooch. In a pooch I will afford few foods other than Mama Steph's Macaroni and Cheese.
Let me start by saying I am a self-proclaimed mac-and-cheese connoisseur. My great friend in college, Kathy Kane (nee' Walker), and I used to fashion Velveeta Shells N Cheese in my Hot Pot on Tuesdays when our schedules both forced us to miss the dining hall and forage for our own lunch. While perhaps shells and cheese from a box is not the optimal recipe, we felt quite accomplished at ages 19 and 20. But it didn't end there.
I've never stopped my quest for the PERFECT Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
Steph was sitting on the sidelines, but Tweeting and Facebook posting the proceeds of our seminar in real time. And she has a SMILE that can infuse a room with warmth. I think I only met her briefly that day, but I've come to regard her as an expert and a friend. She is the kind of person you HAVE to love automatically, because she is kind and good and generous and sweet and has the most GIVING spirit. And she cooks like no other!
So when she posted her recipe for "Creamy Incredible Macaroni and Cheese," I knew I had to try it. IMMEDIATELY.
And I was not disappointed.
In fact, I can definitively say that it is my FAVORITE MAC AND CHEESE recipe of ALL TIMES.
I was telling some friends about it yesterday at a Gladewater church's "Reflections of a Godly Woman" luncheon. They all asked for the recipe. And I felt compelled to scrub my dinner plans for this evening to create a menu around Steph's "Creamy Incredible Macaroni and Cheese."
I would have taken a picture. But it's gone. So with Steph's permission, I'll cut and paste her recipe and her pictures from her blog.
Run, don't walk, to make this ultimate comfort food. The following is a cut-and-paste from Stephanie's Blog. Follow her. Make this.
I realize that calling macaroni and cheese “incredible” might seem like hyperbole, but I was really craving some of this cheesy pasta, and when I tasted this tonight, I was ecstatic! It was everything I was hoping for: creamy, cheesy, a bit crusty on top, with a nice zingy flavor, due to the dry mustard and red pepper flakes. (Zingy is a real word, right?)
The recipe is based upon Paula Deen’s creamy crock pot macaroni-n-cheese, but I changed quite a few things. I didn’t want to use a crock pot, as I was afraid the pasta would get too mushy. I wanted a nice, al dente pasta. Here is a link to Paula’s Creamy Mac-n-Cheese.
Now, here is what I did. MamaSteph’s Creamy, Incredible Macaroni and Cheese 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 tsp dry mustard 1 tsp red pepper flakes 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 1/2 tsp kosher salt 1 cup sour cream 4 TBS butter (I used salted) 1 10 oz. can Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese soup (do NOT turn your nose up at this, foodies; just trust it.) 3 cups grated Cheddar Cheese 3 eggs, beaten 13 oz. dry large elbow macaroni (I bought a 24 oz bag, and used a bit over half of it, so this is approximate) Directions: Boil the pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside in its pot. In a saucepan, melt the four TBS of butter over low-medium heat. Stir in the grated cheddar cheese, allowing it to completely melt while stirring. Add the soup, sour cream, heavy cream, salt and pepper, dry mustard, and red pepper flakes, continuing to stir until it is mixed well. Add the eggs, stirring until everything is smooth and well-combined. In a large pot, combine the drained pasta and the cheese sauce, stirring until the macaroni is evenly coated with cheese. Transfer the pasta to a Pam-sprayed 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle top with a handful of bread crumbs or crushed buttery crackers, if you like. (I used Progresso bread crumbs, as I had them on hand.) Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes. After mine looked somewhat bubbly around the edges, I turned on the broiler to gently brown the top, as this gives it that bit of a crust on top and looks nice. Here’s my final product:
Now, I do realize that you may be unhappy with the fat content in this dish. I understand. You could easily make some changes: use milk instead of cream, use light sour cream, use part-skim cheese, and use Smart Balance margarine. I used the light sour cream and cheese, as that is what I had on hand. As for the type of cheese, my cheddar was MILD, but you could move up to sharp or even extra-sharp, if you like those flavors. You could also add more red pepper flakes if you like a bit more heat. I think this is one of those great dishes that you can experiment with to find out what sets off that little explosion of joy for your tastebuds, as this recipe did for mine tonight! If you decide to try it, would you please come back after you do to let me know how you liked it, and/or what changes you made to personalize it to your tastes? I’d love to know. Happy eating!
Before going on vacation, my mom would make lists.
Lists of things clothing we needed in our suitcases.
Lists of things she'd need in the kitchen of our beach house.
Lists of items she'd need to bring with her from home.
Lists of last-minute items we'd pick up at the grocery store on the way into the beachfront town.
She had a notebook so she didn't have to recreate the lists year after year, as many of the items you'd need for an annual beach vacation never changed.
She'd have her lists ready weeks in advance and boxes and boxes and bags neatly organized in the dining room well before the trip.
It's three days until we leave for Santa Fe for Spring Break and I have done nothing. I don't know where the suitcases even ARE (I guess they're in the attic? Maybe?). I don't have any lists; I don't even have clean laundry yet. We're going skiing. My kids don't have proper ski attire. It occurred to me as I was blow drying my hair this morning that we hadn't made arrangements for the care of the two dogs.
Lists? I'll be lucky if we all get there with clean underwear.