“Life is mostly froth and bubble. Two things stand like stone. Kindness in another’s trouble. Courage in your own. “—Princess Diana
To be honest, I’m not that crazy about Halloween. Even so, every year we decorate our windows and put styrofoam gravestones on the lawn. I’ve made spooky lunches complete with noodles for guts and little hotdogs wrapped in gluten free biscuit dough to resemble mummies. I’ve thrown Halloween parties for preschoolers with games like pin the heart on the skeleton and “bat bat who has the bat?”. And though it makes my skin itch, I scrape out the flesh of pumpkins so that my family can carve them into jack O’ lanterns. I do very few of these activities because I enjoy them. It’s because in August, even before the first day of school, Buster and the Lady start talking about Halloween with excitement. They start planning their costumes. It’s all about the costumes.
Buster has always been a dress up kid. It started when he was not quite 3 and even though he had been a spider for the church halloween party, he wanted, needed a second costume. The mall was having a Halloween petting zoo and he couldn’t visit farm animals dressed as anything but a cowboy. Since then, our collection of costumes has grown and grown. Buster still likes to have a costume for every occasion.
At halloween, using the bits and pieces we already have, he does a pretty fine job of creating his own costumes.
Never one to be left behind, the Lady loves to dress up too. We don’t have as many costume bits for her because of how many roles can be played with just 1 princess dress. But this year, she wanted to be a fortune-teller. For weeks she talked about it and as a tender mercy I found some great pieces on a single value village trip. We already had the boots, scarf and jewellery and some last minute inspiration to use an outdoor Christmas decoration as a crystal ball gave The Lady the winning costume in the best costume contest for grades 1-3. For her, a giant success.
This year halloween prep happened with sick babies. Worse than a baby with Hand Foot and Mouth disease is 2 babies with it-not eating, not sleeping, only crying All. Day. Long. With so little reserve I too was crying All. Day. Long. In one of those sleepless nights, only a few days before halloween, the babies recovering but still not eating or sleeping enough to allow me my sanity I saw this:
There, in the middle of the night, alone except for the baby that would wake if I put him down, my emotions spilled over. I think the video was meant to show how great Mama elephants are but I didn’t identify with the mama elephant, or even her friend. I saw myself in the baby elephant, being washed downstream, struggling to keep her little trunk above water, fighting to stay close to the people who loved her, unable to keep up.
On the edge of a breakdown, I’d known for a while that I needed more help, more support. But asking for help is a complex issue and though my friends had offered, I felt like I should be better at handling my life by myself. I was afraid because I knew I needed so much more than is fair to ask of any one person- especially after all the help I’d already received, a whole year of generosity.
I was drowning. But this isn’t how I want to see myself. On -oh so many levels-, A drowning elephant isn’t who I want to be.
But like the mama elephant, I had a dear friend step in, chasing after me with frozen yogurt and some concrete problem solving. It’s true that I need more help than she can give but she was able to trumpet out for assistance. It’s amazing what a few afternoon naps with the babies away and some house cleaning visits can do- shared between 10 or 12 women, it isn’t too much to ask of any one person. My life, shared with other women doesn’t feel as daunting. I don’t have to be the Elephant in the room.
Halloween is over. Buster’s mad scientist white hair has washed out and the Lady no longer wears blue eyeshadow and bangles. Costumes are fun but they are only temporary. As maniacal a laugh as Buster pulls off, The costumes aren’t who my children really are. And though at this time in my life I sometimes identify with the fear and discouragement I project onto an elephant being taken by the current, it isn’t who I am. Not really. This is temporary. The Fortune-Teller foresees great happiness ahead.
Squidge found all the halloween hubbub a little disconcerting.
I love soup. In junior high, there were many winter nights when I would walk home in the dark after volleyball or basketball practice. Often on those nights, I would open the door to my house and be welcomed home to warmth and light and comfort and soup. Luckily the Hubs turned out to be a man who enjoys a good soup. I told the kids this week that their dad is a Souper guy. He didn’t find it quite as clever as they did.
We call this orange soup. The lentils add satisfying and filling protein, the apples make it sweet and the ginger warms you to the middle. As a bonus, it freezes very well.
Orange (Sweet Potatoe Lentil and Ginger) Soup
- 1 Tbsp butter.
- 1 large sweet potatoe, peeled and chopped
- 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 cups vegetable broth
Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Place the chopped sweet potatoe, carrots, apples, and onion in the pot. Stir and cook the apples and vegetables until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple minutes more.
Stir the lentils, pepper, salt, and vegetable broth into the pot with the apple and vegetable mixture. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
Working in batches, Puree in a blender or use a hand blender and puree the soup right in the pot.
Bring back to a simmer and add water as needed to thin the soup to your preferred consistency.