I picked up the cup and almost dumped its contents down the drain, but a memory from the night before made me hesitate.
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I was talking to my son about his homework, which he had been working on most of the afternoon and evening. By the time I went to bed that night, he had the majority of the work done, all except finishing a Spanish essay and a chemistry experiment.
The substance in the cup didn't look like Spanish food, so I assumed it was part of my son's chemistry experiment.
As I held the cup in my hands, a wave of memories came flooding back.
When my children were little, we did a lot of science experiments in the kitchen.
One in particular came to mind. We were learning about bones and how certain minerals make bones hard.
To illustrate this point, I saved a chicken bone from supper one night and soaked it in a solution of 3/4 cup vinegar and 3 tablespoons of salt. We labeled the date and time our experiment began and then left the bone in the vinegar solution.
The bone sat in that solution for at least two weeks.
My husband began to wonder if the bone would remain on our kitchen counter indefinitely. (He's so good to me. I know he wanted to give that bone a pitch more than once.)
The bone had to stay in the solution that long, though, so the acid in the vinegar could remove the minerals from the bone. The vinegar dissolves the calcium in the bone, making the bone very pliable.
This experiment teaches children that minerals are an important part of bones. Milk contains minerals, so that's why children are told to drink milk for healthy bones.
It is pretty neat to see what happens to a bone when it is soaked in vinegar. The bone bends very easily.
As I placed the chemistry experiment cup back on my windowsill, some advice from a friend came to mind.
She once told me to enjoy each stage of my children's lives.
Don't live in the past. Don't long for the future. Relish each day as it comes and make the most of each moment.
I was smiling as my son walked into the kitchen the next morning.
"I almost dumped your science experiment, but I stopped myself just in time," I said, so pleased that I had made this connection and salvaged his work.
With a quizzical look, my son asked, "What science experiment?"
I pointed to the cup on the windowsill.
He broke a smile and shook his head.
As it turns out, the substance in the cup was the ham broth left in the bottom of the frying pan from our dinner the night before. He was loading the dishwasher and didn't want to dump the liquid down the drain because it contained fat. He didn't want to put it in the trash because the liquid was still hot.
Oh. So a cup of ham broth caused me to take a walk down memory lane?
Yeah, it did. And I enjoyed every step.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.