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How the Small Things Help out the Big Things

How the Small Things Help out the Big Things

My husband purchased this website domain for me for Mother’s Day. Pretty sweet, right? He knows me. He didn’t come up with the name. I had been running a wordpress-hosted poetry blog by the same name for a few years. Then it seemed it was time to move on to bigger things. Like full-length posts.

While I navigate this blogging thing, I’m also writing a novel. And although I’ve written lots of short stories with fleshed out characters who do important and beautiful things with their lives and reveal meaning to ours, this novel thing is hard work. I know the beginning and the end, but I am having a hard time with the middle (the details) of it. How will my characters get from the muddy, messy place they are in right now to where the novel ends in all its majestic conclusion?

The answer is the same as it’s always been because the question is also the same question that’s been asked for centuries. How does anything ever happen? One word at a time. One scene at a time. One step at a time.

Every time I put my pen to my notebook, my characters live and breathe. I need to remember that this is how they move forward. It’s how they learn. It’s the only way they will get to the last page.

I think some of my problem is that I see the end and it’s so beautiful. Right now, though, my characters are stuck in a world of daily life, of working and struggling with tiny things that they are allowing to become big things. Here in the real world, I am doing the same thing.

I have a daily life where I live and breathe, where I walk, where I do dishes and clean up spills, where I sit on the sidewalk with my kids and collect rocks from the gravel parking lot, carrying them in buckets. On their own, these scenes are nothing. But when you place them all in sequence, they make life.

My kids are so happy with the details of life. They LOVE picking up rocks and carrying them in buckets. But I get caught up in the ending. “Yes, rocks are great, but don’t you see that this parking lot will be paved and it won’t flood anymore when it rains?” But my kids also love the rain, and the giant muddy puddles it leaves behind.

While I don’t know my entire future, I know a few things. There are a few things we can all be certain about. Yet if we focus too much on the future, we won’t ever get there. If I keep wanting to just get my characters to their last scene, there will be no meaning to it. The future is always made from tiny, daily, walking, breathing, rock-collecting, mud-stomping details where our feet get dirty and it seems all we have are useless pieces of ground.

But the ground is not useless. It is necessary. Without it, our feet would never go anywhere.

But the ground is not useless. It is necessary. Without it, our feet would never go anywhere.

While I work on the rocky, muddy details of this novel, while I parent my children who never seem to learn, I am also writing blogs right here. These blogs are like exercise. They are like tiny rays of sunshine. They are like the moments I spend collecting rocks with toddlers who will one day make me a grandma. I can’t finish a novel in one day, but I can finish a blog post.

Life is like the gravel outside my window, which is pretty useless when picked apart and scattered. Together, lots of rocks make ground. Like together, each of my moments make days, make years, make a life.

 

Fun with Food: Open-Faced Sandwich Squares

Fun with Food: Open-Faced Sandwich Squares

Lunch is always a little stressful for me. Partly because I have three children who all like different things. Partly because… I have three children. Then there’s me. I often end up with a handful a nuts or maybe a granola bar because, well if you’re a mom then you know. It’s just hard to find time to eat.

As Luciano Pavarotti says, “One of the very best things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” I love this, yet I also abhor it because in my household, there are three tiny people running around. Mealtimes often look more like training times than times to stop and devote ourselves to eating.

That aside, I do love coming up with new and interesting things for my kids to eat. Because my children don’t like chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese and fast food hurts their tummies. Poor kids. They never get happy meals.

These little open faced sandwich squares are one of my lunchtime favorites because they are pretty healthy and my kids LOVE them! They are super versatile, too, and fun to make. If your kids are a little older than mine, I bet they could make these themselves.

Here are the steps

1.) Toast some bread. Whatever kind of bread you have will work fine! Today I used homemade sourdough, but I sometimes use sprouted grain or whole wheat. I suppose you don’t have to toast these, but I like to because toast holds up better when you pick it up, whereas bread is kind of floppy.

2.) Mash a spoonful of avocado on top of the toast. Really, you could use any kind of spread… one of those herb cream cheese spreads or goat cheese or laughing cow cheese. Or mayonnaise or salsa… whatever floats your boat. We like avocados around here and they’re a super food, so I use them!

3.) Sprinkle on some cheese. I used feta here, but we also like these with cheddar! Here’s what it looks like once you’ve done these things:

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4.) Place the pepperoni. My kids will eat almost anything if there’s pepperoni on it, but we have also used sliced ham and turkey. I like to cut the toasts into fours because they seem easier to handle. When cut, they don’t fall apart like they would if left whole, and they’re just fun little things for kids to grab.

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5.) Serve with a side: snapea crisps (that’s what we used today), multigrain tortilla chips, raisins, apple slices, gummy bears. We don’t usually serve candy around here, but my kids would probably giggle ferociously if I put gummy bears on their lunch plates. And I’d do almost anything to make them giggle. 

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