Sunday, July 26, 2015

As Simple As Peaches



My 51st birthday was upon us and all I really wanted was to travel north to see my son.  I needed a day with both children.  Unable to find a hotel room anywhere in Nashville, I thought I might try airbnb, a service that allows you to rent a room in a stranger's house.  My daughter cringed at the thought, but the reservation was made.

We arrived at my son's doorstep late Friday afternoon.  It seemed he and his sister had developed a birthday itinerary that was full of food, fun and laughter.  I eyed the stops we would make and the one that stood out above the rest was 9:30 a.m. - The Peach Truck. (Okay... and the nap)  As a former resident of Georgia, the sweet taste of Georgia peaches still calls to me. My mouth watered as I thought of the stand of peaches waiting for me on my birthday.  The itinerary included gourmet snow cones, shopping, too much food and a midnight movie.  There was a long day ahead of us and we would need sleep before we began.  

Afraid that our overnight lodging may be with an axe murderer, I had my son go with us to the house, for protection.  Three screams are better than two, so it couldn't hurt.  We arrived at a lovely home that seemed quite safe and secure.  The owners were out of town, but there were other guests who would be staying in another room. Something about it felt so wrong, but then the comforts of home beckoned us in and we shut the front door behind us.  We were the only ones in the large unfamiliar home with many locked doors and we settled into our room armed with cell phones and large curling brushes.  It was some time after my son left that we heard the front door open.  Frozen in our bed, unknowing who was mere steps away, we listened to our housemates disappear into the silent house.  I could only assume they were as curious about us as we were of them.  Eventually sleep took hold and we woke to a new day... my birthday.  

Of all the activities of this day, my favorite was the Farmer's Market where my children and I washed fresh fruit in a garden hose and ate it near the Peach Truck.  The sun was already hot and the taste of plums and peaches quenched our thirst.  Our fingers were sticky from the fruit juice running down our hands, but the taste was that of summer and it reminded me of days gone by.  Better than birthday cake, simple peaches delivered happiness on my special day.  

The day continued forward with many great stops and food fit for a queen.  At 11:07 p.m., I had to call it quits on the birthday itinerary of fun.  Perhaps I was too old for a midnight movie, or perhaps I had already achieved just the right amount of fun.  My children understood and we returned to our home away from home where we would once again sleep with strangers in the house.  When we arrived, the other guests were already home.  A chance meeting in the kitchen dispelled all of our fears as we learned that the two school teachers upstairs were just as worried about us as we were of them.  We laughed, made new friends and all returned to our rooms where we still locked our doors behind us because, really, what good is a curling brush when a stranger comes calling in the middle of the night.  

The birthday weekend was grand and we love our Nashville home. Our host family was wonderful and we hope to visit again.  As we traveled back to our own home, we took with us a small paper sack of peaches so that we could share a taste of summer with friends and family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Three Spoon Balloon


    I spent the entire weekend packing up old toys, video games, board games and trading cards that my children haven't touched in years. As I sorted and sifted through hundreds of these items, I realized that we have spent a lot of money entertaining our children.  However, of all the games and toys in the house, the most memorable one, which was the greatest fun, was a game we invented, called Three Spoon Balloon.  It came with no cost, no rules and no shortage of laughter.

    My children and I armed ourselves with long handled, wooden spoons and batted a simple balloon around the living room.  Everyone was well aware that the balloon could never hit the floor.  We have jumped across chairs and tables with arms outstretched in order to catch a slowly falling balloon before it hit the ground.  We have each taken an elbow to the face and skinned our knees on the carpet as we crashed into one another in a group effort to keep the balloon "alive" and in flight.

   Perhaps, not the safest of games, it did come with gentler moments when each of us lightly tapped the balloon into a new course as it softly climbed and fell around the room.  As the peaceful rhythm of the wafting balloon became hypnotic, someone would always break free from the trance and take their wooden spoon and whack the balloon into oblivion.   It was game on at that point, and players became very territorial in their corners of the living room.  I preferred the far corner by the fireplace in an attempt to prevent children from flying into the brick.  Of course, while it was called "Three Spoon Balloon," no player was ever turned away. Others have joined in the fun with plastic swords and assorted kitchen utensils. Everyone worked hard to make sure the balloon didn't hit the ground in their area of the living room.  With spoons in the air, the balloon was protected at all costs.  We have had five or more players at times and while everyone had fun jumping and diving over one another, the best games were always with three spoons and the undivided attention of my two children.

  My daughter's spoon was covered in bling with dozens of stickers of penguins, smiley faces, lady bugs and more. My son's spoon is a few inches longer than the others, giving him some kind of unspoken edge over his sister and me.  My spoon is a simple no frills wooden spoon worn down on the edges from stirring Kool-Aid and spaghetti sauce, at different times, of course.

  Three Spoon Balloon delivered more fun than thousands of dollars worth of toys and games. Tonight, my house is full of teenage girls who are happily swimming in the pool.  Can you only imagine the looks on their faces, later tonight, when I hand each of them a wooden spoon? Only one will know what's coming next and I know she will smile when she takes hold of her decorated spoon.  It's game on, once again.