Flashback Prompt: Easter Days

Amidst the busyness of my Seder preparations and work life, I managed to miss my best opportunities to use my Easter Flashback prompt. But who says you have to write about Easter only one Easter? Not me!

When you were a child, who dyed the Easter eggs in your household? Who hid the eggs? Did you get a new Easter outfit every year?

Flashback: A Pox on Me

Prompt #13: “Do you remember having the chicken pox, mumps, or any other childhood diseases? Were you ever seriously ill as a child? How did your mother take care of you?”

We were vaccinated and managed to avoid measles, mumps, rubella. We also managed to escape chronic ear infections, that scourge of infancy.

What we were unable to avoid was chicken pox.

We got the pox.

And then we got it again.

And then again a third time.

I only vaguely remember Pox #1 and Pox #2. They were brief incidents with a few spots sprinkled about.

But Pox #3–oh that Pox #3.

Me with Pox #3

Me with Pox #3 (My third case, for my ninth birthday)

It was eighteen years ago. I was eight and we were experiencing an unseasonably warm March (perhaps a little like this March?) We kids wanted nothing more than to be outside after a winter of being cooped up, all six of us and Mom, in the house doing schoolwork.

But we weren’t allowed to go outside.

Sunlight was bad for kids who had chicken pox.

We couldn’t spend too much time in the sunlight.

We were, however, allowed to ride our bikes to our friends’ houses to explain to them why we wouldn’t be able to play. Then we had to go right back home.

Mom was busy nesting, finishing up Easter dresses for Anna and I (Easter came early that year) and making outfits to bring the new baby home from the hospital in. It had been ten years since she’d brought a baby home from the hospital–it definitely called for a new outfit.

We kids were a bit concerned when we learned that our having the chickenpox might mean bad news for the new baby. The new baby might not be able to fight off the chickenpox–and it could make her very ill.

We kids kept busy preparing a birthday party for me. My birthday was on the fourteenth of March, and our friends were going to be on Spring Break that week. We desperately wanted to have a party–and hoped that we would be scabbed over in time for our child-directed party to commence according to schedule.

Tim with Pox #3

Tim with Pox #3 (His first case, just shy of his second birthday)

Monday the fourteenth, we discovered (to our great joy) that the last of our spots had scabbed over. We were good to go. The party was good to go. The baby need only wait one week before she was good to come.

So we gathered our friends and had our party, playing games in our large backyard before enjoying some cake served from the back porch.

A week and a day later, our baby sister was born, safe from the chicken pox that had earlier ravaged our household.

None of us would get the chicken pox again. Not the ones of us who’d had it all three times. Not the ones who’d had it only twice or one time. Not the one of us who’d escaped it altogether.

That’s right.

Grace, without the Pox

Grace’s birthday present from all of us was immunity, apparently

Grace never developed the chicken pox.

After being exposed approximately every year after age four, Grace finally was vaccinated before starting high school at the public school.

Our best guess was that she somehow managed to develop immunity pre-birth or shortly thereafter, what with seven cases of chicken pox in the house a couple of weeks before her birth.

Flashback: Childhood illnesses and incidents

I briefly mentioned chicken pox a couple weeks ago when I was talking about my little sister being born–and now I’ve decided to flesh out that topic. Today’s prompt:

Do you remember having the chicken pox, mumps, or any other childhood diseases? Were you ever seriously ill as a child? How did your mother take care of you?

I’ll be posting later this evening since I’m (big surprise) rather busy these days.

Flashback: His Name was Benny

Prompt #12: “When did you get your first car? Did you buy it for yourself or did your parents help you? Where did you get it–off a lot or from a private party? How much did you pay? How did you earn the money?”

I bought my first car right before my senior year of high school. I was going to be attending our church’s “Antioch Bible and Life School”, living away from home, and working my new job at Boston Market. It would be a busy school year with lots of traveling-and I need a reliable car.

I went to Simply the Best Autos, as I would for all my automobile purchases in the years to come. Robin is a friend of the family and an all-around great guy. Robin’s a God-lover who seeks to honor Christ in his business dealings–you can’t get better than that from a used-car dealer.

My dad picked out the car, a 1991 Chevy Cavalier. He was white with a bright blue stripe in the flashing stuff that goes around the middle of the car (you know what I’m talking about, right? Not like wood pannelling. More like a vinyl kick-board type thing.)

The Cavalier cost $1000, which my parents paid and I promptly paid back, using my earnings from the affectionately-named BM (really, it’s an unfortunate moniker for a rather good fast restaurant.)

I named him, Benny, after Benedick of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing.”

“Much Ado” has been my favorite Shakespeare play since I first started reading/watching/listening to Shakespeare. It has wit, repartee, and death that isn’t really death. You can’t get much better than that.

Sometime, early on in my high school career, we all of us decided to put on “Much Ado”. We printed out seven copies of “Much Ado” from Project Gutenberg and highlighted our hand-selected parts (I was Beatrice, Anna was Benedick, Grace was Hero, Joshua was Don John–I really can’t remember who else was who, but all seven of us kids had parts. Most had two parts, actually.)

Alas, we never ended up putting on our play, and I had to content myself with naming my car after a character.

Benny was a loyal fellow, although he developed some BPH with age. Eventually he had to be laid to rest, and I drove a loaner car (nicknamed the “ovah-acheiva”, compliments of Robin) for a bit before my next car was ready for me.

My second car was a Honda, maybe a Civic? He was lovely and green and I named him Jack, short for Clive Staples.

Jack met an untimely end when he was rear-ended by a car that had been rear-ended by another car–causing him to rear-end the car in front of him. It was a tough time to be without a car as I was just beginning the community rotation of my dietetics internship–and needed to be able to travel around the county to give presentations.

The guy at the end of the line, who started the domino effect that totalled Jack, ended up paying for a Mazda 3 rental while I was waiting for the insurance money to come through so I could buy a new car.

Once the money did come through (though the paltry sum they gave me could not come close to equaling Jack’s value–face it, insurance just doesn’t understand the value of a truly reliable middle-aged car), I bought my current car, a green Subaru Legacy sedan.

Luci is named after two independent females: Luci Swindoll and Lucy Pevensie. And like the two independent females she is named after, she does what needs to be done, gets the job done, and has some fun while she’s at it.

Luci and I have traveled many a road together (although mostly Highway 30). I love her very much. But there’ll always be a special spot in my heart for my first lovely car, Benny, also known as Benny D.

Flashback Prompt: Cars, cars, cars

Tuesday night, my sister’s car mighta bit the dust–which makes us a one-car household for who-knows-how-long. Which leads to this week’s prompt:

When did you get your first car? Did you buy it for yourself or did your parents help you? Where did you get it–off a lot or from a private party? How much did you pay? How did you earn the money?

Flashback: When you were born

Prompt #11: “How old were you when your brothers and sisters were born? Do you remember the first time you saw them?”

I was one and a half when Joshua was born. I don’t remember a thing. (This picture, by the way, is not of our first meeting. Those photos were lost in oblivion due to no film being in the camera, maybe?)

I was almost four when Daniel was born. I remember staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and screaming almost inconsolably that “I NEED my DADDY!” It was almost inconsolably because Grandpa did manage to eventually bribe me into quiet with a butterscotch disk. (And he wouldn’t let me have the butterscotch disk until I was completely done crying–and done with the weird hiccuppy breathing thing kids have after a really heavy cry.) I don’t remember meeting Daniel (although, as you can see from the photo below, I was plenty intrigued by the meeting in real time).

no images were found

I was five when John was born and it all happened so fast I don’t remember anything. I do remember changing John’s diaper though (when he was a toddler). (BTWs, congrats to John and Kaytee, who are getting married today. John was the first to make the boys outnumber the girls three to two; today he reverses it and makes the girls outnumber boys five to four.)

I had just turned seven when Timothy was born. Mom and Dad were doing their first home-birth officially alone (that is, the first one where they never intended to have a midwife present–Dad had already delivered a couple of precipitous deliveries sans midwife, and had assisted the midwife with another couple. He was an old pro by the time Timothy rolled around.)

The excitement of having a new baby being born made it very difficult for Anna and I to sleep the evening of the eighteenth, so we whispered under our covers until we’d developed a plan. We sneaked out of our bedroom, peaked around the hallway into the living room, and witnessed history in action.

Err. I’m not sure what Anna saw, but what I saw was rather unremarkable. The only memory that remains is of a big metal bowl sitting on the floor (perhaps for the afterbirth?) And I remember the paper bag of receiving blankets in the oven–although that memory would have been from the preparations for labor, not the actual event that I tried so hard to observe.

Of course, Anna and I were a bit skittish. We were fully aware that this was not something that we were supposed to be watching. So, at the slightest sound, we’d scurry back into our room, only to peek back out a while later.

At last, Yvonne, the friend who was assisting Dad with delivery came to shush our whispers. I remember her threatening to give us medicine if we didn’t go to sleep–something that I’d never heard of before in my entire life.

I guess we must have gone to sleep–or maybe we didn’t. But Timothy was born that night and it didn’t really matter any more. He was there. (And isn’t this the sweetest little picture of John kissing Tim’s forehead?)

I was nine years and one week old when Grace was born. Compared to the rest of our births, Grace’s was exciting. She was going to be born in the hospital–and we might not be able to see her immediately if we didn’t scab over from our case of the chickenpox at least a week before she was born. And if she was born too late, she might miss Easter and not be able to wear the Easter dress Mom had made to match mine and Anna’s. And if she wasn’t a girl? (Mom and Dad never chose to “find out” any of our sexes.)

We scabbed over on my ninth birthday, exactly seven days and a few hours before Grace was born.

Mom went to the hospital. We stayed at home with Yvonne. We waited impatiently. We went to sleep.

Yvonne woke Anna and I up a little after three in the morning.

After four little brothers, we had a baby sister!

The boys found out in the morning.

Then began the second long wait–waiting until the (stupid, in our eyes, at least) hospital would release our Mom and our sister so that we could see her. After John and Timothy’s births (during which the others of us kids were either home or at a close neighbor’s house), we were used to instant sibling-seeing-satisfaction.

They had to do tests on Grace. We filled the time by gathering together all the neighbor kids to make a welcome home banner, which we proudly displayed when Grace finally got to come home a whole 12 hours after she was born. (Gosh, but those hospitals take forever.)

It was the bustin’ proudest moment of my life, when my little sister came home.

Grace Joy. ‘Cause after six kids, you need Grace for the seventh–and she was a Joy from day one.

Flashback: She built us cakes

Prompt #10: “What were your birthday cakes like when you were growing up? Were they homemade or store-bought?”

We always had two cakes for every birthday–the cake Mom made and the cake Grandma Menter made.

Mom’s cake was made on the day of our birthday–one of the old family recipes to go along with our favorite meals. Grandma’s Chocolate Cake or Lazy Daisy Cake or Applesauce Cake with Boiled Brown Sugar Frosting. Delicious cakes. Lick your lips cakes. Cakes where the birthday girl felt the specialest for getting to choose her piece first (of course, she picked the one with extra frosting!)

Those cakes generally looked ordinary, served up in the same pan they were baked in. No fancy furbelows here, just grandly tasty cakes.

Grandma’s cakes, on the other hand, were take-em-or-leave-em in the taste department. They weren’t bad, they were just ordinary. Cakes baked from cake mixes. White cake or yellow cake or occasionally a confetti cake for good measure.

Nevertheless, we eagerly awaited the semi-annual visits to Bellevue, where a whole counter would be devoted to the cakes. It was always cakes in plural because we always combined all the birthdays for the month into one celebration. January had four cakes. March had three. July had two. October had three. (I’m missing some cousins in there–a September and a November that I can’t remember exactly. Did we smush those two in with the October birthdays? Or did they have their own celebrations?)

At any rate, when we got to Grandma’s house, a counter (or sometimes the entire kitchen table) would be devoted to the brilliantly shaped and decorated cakes, glorious on their bed of aluminum foil.

(Keep clicking on the picture above to a slideshow of Grandma’s cakes)

These were cakes cut up and reassembled to make fantastical shapes. Cakes covered first with a layer of brightly colored frosting, then with additional layers of coconut. Cakes trimmed with a variety of gumdrops and licorice. Cakes that were a child’s delight.

Sometimes the cakes repeated, but we didn’t mind. In fact, we often requested the same cake over and over again.

And sometimes, we were just glad that someone else chose the same cake over and over again.

I wouldn’t have dreamed of selecting the lion for myself (how very boyish!)–but I certainly appreciated that the boys took their turns so we got it at least once or twice a year.

Man, but that toasted coconut on caramel-y frosting was good.

What about you? What are your birthday cake stories?

Flashback: Fast Food

Prompt #9: “Did your family eat fast food often? What was you ‘go-to’ fast food restaurant? What was (is) your order at your favorite joint?”

My family didn’t eat fast food. Not much, anyway.

We ate fast food maybe once a month.

At first, it was “Sams”, a burger joint down the way that sold minimalistic hamburgers for some ridiculously low price. I don’t know, a quarter or fifty cents? All I know is Mom would spend ten bucks and feed the whole passel of us–and we were pretty big eaters (I’m talking multiple burgers per person for 6+ of us).

We always drove through at Sams, so I have no idea what the inside looked like.

We always went in to Taco Inn, on the other hand. Each of us kids got a 79 cent kids meal–a bean burrito, a small drink, and a cup of ice cream with sprinkles. And we had the chips and salsa that were available for free in the lobby. We got our money worth there, eating through tub after tub of chips. The burritos were delicious–but you had to kinda ignore the general unkemptness of the employees. Certainly, the cleanliness of their hair was less than awe-inspiring.

McDonald’s was anathema, and if we had to go to a chain burger joint, it was Burger King, where we could get Whopper Juniors. And that’s what we’d get. Whopper Juniors. Period. We didn’t get a lot of fancy side stuff. We got a sandwich, which we took home and ate with stuff of our own on the side.

The abuse we heaped on McDonald’s was over the top: They had cardboard sandwiches, they sprayed good smelling stuff on their food to make you think it was good. Okay, maybe that was the extent of the abuse.

We changed our tune (slightly) when two of my brothers started working at McDonalds. Then, it became a convenient place to spend nights with the kids after youth group. We’d take over a section of the dining room, piling it full of kids with their sodas or McFlurry’s. My brother came out and visited with the kids during his break–and after he handed the keys over to the next manager on duty. It wasn’t a bad way to spend a Wednesday night (I spent it there, even though I wasn’t in youth group, because I was a youth sponsor and because I love hanging out with my siblings, about half of whom were in youth group at that point.)

Which brings me, in roughly chronologic order, to today. Today when I had my first McChicken in a month.

When I started commuting back and forth between Columbus and Grand Island, I was working 12 hours days in GI. I didn’t have much option but to pick up fast food.

What I didn’t realize then was that going down to two eight hour days instead of one twelve wasn’t going to make it any easier to cook for myself once I got home.

I *always* eat lunch in my facilities as part of ensuring quality for our residents (the exception is when I foolishly space lunch because I’ve got my nose stuck in a chart). I get the last tray of the noon meal, generally around 12:30. Which means that if I leave GI around 4:30 (if I’m lucky-it’s usually closer to 5:30 or later), I’ll get back around six and be able to have supper at 6:30 at the earliest. Since the norm is leaving much later than the ideal, a long time passes between lunch and supper on days that I drive in to GI.

Which is all a justification for what has become a biweekly habit of mine-driving through McDonalds, where I get a McChicken and a Wild Berry Smoothie or a McChicken and a large Sprite, depending on how dehydrated I am.

Oh, and I occasionally throw in a small fry (although I always regret it since trans-fat-free frying oils have made all fried foods taste distinctly of rancidity) or an order of Cinnamon Bites.

Frankly? After a month off, I was glad to eat some “real” food on the way home–but McDonalds tasted pretty bleh. I think I should learn a lesson from my Fast Food Free February and stash oranges in my car to snack on during those drives home (at least, the ones that get started at a semi-decent hour!)