Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yogurt Mountain

  Essay for  Real Simple Life Lessons Contest 2014

  While millions of dollars have been spent on personality inventories to help people understand themselves better, I've discovered a much better tool for identifying personality types at a local hot spot called Yogurt Mountain.  I had this epiphany one afternoon as I was enjoying some frozen yogurt with my children.  The end product that we each created from the wide variety of choices perfectly described the personality of each maker.

  My daughter is always first to jump in.  Her eyes open wide as she sees the new flavors and she races to fill her tester cup with Mango Delight and Triple Chocolate Monkey Crunch. I'll scan the choices several times as I don't want to waste my two chances to use my tester cups and get a free taste of the wrong thing.  My son stands back and checks his watch, sends a text message to a few friends, and simply disconnects from his mother and sister who are riding the roller coaster of choices up and down Yogurt Mountain.  

  We each branch off in our own direction, traveling further into the unknown as we move past tester cups and begin creating the final yogurt choice that we will have to live with.  Without fail, I always retreat to the classic flavors of vanilla and chocolate, filling my cup with equal amounts of yogurty goodness.  I'll toss in a blackberry or two for good health and call it complete.  My daughter will load her cup with an assortment of flavors that may actually glow in the dark and then finish it off with a topping of sour candies and gummie worms that hang over the side of the cup.  It is at this exact moment that I begin to make bad decisions and return to inventory the choices once again.  A small dollop of Watermelon freeze or Red Raspberry yogurt couldn't hurt and I'll add a little to my cup... an impromptu decision I will regret once I join my family at the table. 

  My son has been moving quietly in the background the entire time and will arrive to the cash register with some concoction that must have been crafted in the Southern Living test kitchens.  A small amount of vanilla yogurt has been perfectly dusted with graham cracker crumbs, walnuts and a spoonful of fresh strawberries.   It is apparent to everyone in the restaurant that these are flavors that naturally go well together and scream of summertime goodness.   They might as well just hand him a blue ribbon to go with his spoon.

  As we sit at the table to enjoy our treats, I'll wish for a cup of yogurt like my son's.  My daughter will enjoy her cup of frozen candy and smile with blue lips at the choice she made. I'll dig around in my cup of frozen yogurt and push the bad decision out of the way and mine for the goodness that is buried there somewhere underneath the blackberries and artificial raspberry goo, knowing that I should not have ventured from that which I know to be good.  

  It takes no personality inventory to see the extrovert who loves life, the thinker who maps out a plan and carefully executes it and the woman who second guessed her good choices that were perfectly fine without the need for anything new.  

  Myers Briggs has nothing on Yogurt Mountain!  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Sound of Home

The sounds of home are one of life's greatest blessings and I want my children to remember these things.  From the creak of the back door to the clinking of a tiny metal "A" that hangs on my daughter's door handle and rattles every time her door opens in the middle of the night, these sounds are part of our world.  There is a comfort to be found in the gentle sloshing song of the dishwasher late in the evening and the soft, stretchy yawn of an old dog who sleeps inside now because it is late in life and the outdoors is simply too great of a beast for an old pup.    

In the mornings, there is timing to the symphony of sounds that softly wakes each person. There is a rush of water through the pipes in the walls as the first person to shower is greeted with the hottest water of the morning.  The hum of a hair dryer mixed with the scent of cologne is like a soft alarm clock telling us we are late and should have been out of bed before now.   The clinking of the door knob ornament tells us that Allie is up and getting ready.  My son's door will open later and brush against the tuft of the carpet letting us know he is awake and starting his day.  

Nighttime is full of wonderful sounds, too. One of the greatest that I am blessed to enjoy is the sound of string instruments as my son and nephew strum their guitars or ukuleles.  I never knew a uke' could produce such pleasing sounds, but the right hands can make magic with it.  Whether it is background sounds of someone writing songs in the den or a full concert of instruments in my living room, the laughter of children and the music in our home is nothing short of magical.    

With an extensive collection of songs and greatest hits from the decades' greatest artists, I would trade them all for one simple recording of the gentle sounds of home.  Time will come and these sounds will make homes elsewhere.  It is then, when I can't hear them anymore, that I hope I can close my eyes and recall them all with vivid detail.  As children return home, I will delight in the sounds they bring back with them.  While the creak of the back door signals coming and going, it always gives hope that familiar faces have found their way home. 

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