Making Memories

I'm sitting here on a cool summer night after a 32 hour whirlwind trip to take the girls to Tennessee where they are being hosted by my Aunt and uncle and parents for what will be their last portion of summer. As I drove off today, I thought of giving Anna Cate and Molly roots and wings by leaving them with Aunt and Glenn. When I was 4 years old, I thought I was such a big girl that I got to spend a couple days with them by myself. There is a big poplar tree in their back yard, and I distinctly remember sitting under that tree with Aunt for our Poplar Tree Picnic she prepared. 

Likewise, these girls are experiencing their roots in spending time with family, but they are feathering their ability to stretch their wings by spending time away from BJ and me. 

 After I left, they had a day of fun in Gatlinburg and Aunt sent me pictures. (Her name is Anne, but I have always called her just Aunt)

Tonight, the girls went to the Dixie Stampede, and Anna Cate and Molly enjoyed thinking about the outfits! 

I'm sure Aunt has many more pictures and I love knowing they made such special memories even if I can't report them. Aunt has always been like a second mother to me; she is 9 years older than Daddy and I think she was a second mother to him, too. I am so grateful they had this time together. I spent one night with them and then left to drive back home, and this road trip was the end of "our summer together here" so a few more reflections on our summer. . . 

A couple weeks ago, we were hosted by my dear friend Mary Helen and fit in a a mini beach trip. My friendship with Mary Helen is one of those poignant examples of the most important advice my Dad ever gave me -- "friends don't have to be your own age." Mary Helen's son Scott (also a dear friend) and my brother were roommates at VMI, and we instantly hit it off at tailgates, but my first year in Fredericksburg, she and LC adopted my single self. I taught high school and was less than fulfilled so I spent many evenings cooking, drinking wine or mountain biking with them. Our friendship took on a whole new level when she came to help take care of me after Anna Cate was born. She took care of my wounds after complications from a c-section and helped me figure out to nurse while I slept. 

  So,  it was so much more than a trip to the beach.
But a time for us to BE with Mary Helen,  to basque in her wisdom and authenticity; the time in her home was a celebration of all domestic things that bring joy, particularly food and garden. 

Mary Helen let each girl pick a day to be in charge of the meals after she treated us the first night to "the club" for dinner. 

 They menu planned breakfast and dinner.  Anna Cate learned how to make scones.

 I sure enjoyed the down time in this gorgeous setting! Mary Helen does ALL her own landscaping. 
 Anna Cate and Mary Helen made fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans for dinner. 
Every night we "dressed" for dinner and I even let the girls put on makeup.  Molly made pancakes from scratch for breakfast.
Of course, Mary Helen had REAL maple syrup, but I'm afraid Molly preferred the fake stuff.

After breakfast, Molly prepared meat for the crock pot since we planned to spend a day at the beach. 

At the beach, Mary Helen and I visited while the kids played. We have always been able to talk spirituality, religion, life, love and politics.  I think women should engage in these conversations. . .I love the quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, "small minds talk about people, average minds talk about events, but great minds talk about ideas."  

We were discussing some Christian theology I struggle with -- the exclusivity of Christ as a path to God. It simply just doesn't make sense to me, and I think it is a part of my Methodist upbringing so I said, "let's see what the kid test says." I love asking my children questions like these.

So separately I put this question to my little girls who are being raised in a Baptist church, "Do you think Jesus is the only path to God?" Anna Cate's response was "I think so since Jesus is God's son." I said, "what a good little Baptist, honey." Separately, when asked, Molly said, "I don't really know the answer to that, but I think if you look at Jesus, you see God." Amen. 

Their responses reminded me of this: 

We came home from the beach for Molly to prepare tacos for dinner, with roasted corn and HOME MADE ice cream. She shucked the corn. . .
 And wrote on menus for each  place setting.
In the evenings, Mary Helen and I watched the DNC convention together. 

And before I talk politics, let me clear -- I am an independent. I have criticisms and appreciation for each side (right and left) but the nights I watched of the DNC, I appreciated the positive messages.  On the last night, as I sat there with a dear friend from my mother's generation and my daughter, I could not help but be moved by the significance of being together as we witnessed a woman getting the Presidential nomination. Believe me, I wish there were other options but I let myself soak up the story these politicians were telling. 
I've realized I like the myths of American History -- that the Pilgrims came for religious freedom (not oppressing any dissenters), that the first Thanksgiving was joyous and plentiful (not scarce after some tenuous dealings with the natives), that our founding fathers lived up to their beautiful words (not slave owners or womanizers), that the antebellum south was gentile and the Northern soldiers fought to end slavery, that we live up to the ideals of Martin Luther King. I know history is clouded but I want to believe in the good of our country's story. I want to share this hope with my daughters. I got emotional in thinking about a female president.  (and if you are repulsed by HRC, I don't blame you -- you can go puke now, and I don't blame you for not voting; no judgement here). In any case, it was nice to be together to talk about and discuss the ideas and events of this presidential election. 

One morning, Mary Helen took me to her plant store for an end-of-season sale, and helped me pick out some plants for containers to enjoy through the Fall. Last year, she taught me the "spill, thrill, and fill" technique, but it was better with her helping me choose them!
 Anna Cate and Molly helped me take notes about what to plant where. 

 And today, as I finish this blog, I'm sitting here surrounded by the beauty of the flowers and of the memories with Mary Helen. 

 I am sad my summer with Molly and Anna Cate are over. Yet,  I realize the saving grace of fleeting moments like summer or time with family and friends is not only mindfulness to appreciate the present, but the contentment to treasure the remembrances, like these plants that surround me and the memories Anna Cate and Molly have made.   In a way I want to write about so many details of our summer for posterity, but I have to trust that my children will remember their own versions of "Poplar Tree Picnics" with fondness as they are create their own summer memory books. 

"Memories of Childhood are Dreams that stay with you after you wake." -Julian Barnes