Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Random Thoughts Monday

Well. I have about half a dozen half-finished posts lined up in my drafts queue, and none of them seem to be getting any closer to being completed. *sigh* Yet, I really want to post something... So here goes...

~ My kids are as addicted to Sonic ice as I am. Must be a genetic thing...

~ I am actually getting closer to my goal of having a clean house before we leave on vacation. If you've ever seen my house, you know what a project this is... *blush*

~ I really wish I had something exciting to write about. I've been in kind of a funk, lately, and my brain feels like oatmeal...

~ I am looking forward to our vacation, and the possibility of meeting up with old and dear friends... ♥

~ I may just have to resign myself to the possibility that the last 10 pounds of baby weight might not come off until Hannah weans. Not what I want, but I'm just not losing, despite my best efforts... *sigh*

~ I like having my kids around for summer vacation. Except when they bug me for computer time... *rolls eyes*

~ Our peach tree is fruitless, this year. And I am really sad about that. Lots of apples, and some pears, though...

~ I have fallen in love with a pair of Crocs - these wedge thongs, in berry/black. Unfortunately, they aren't in my shoe budget this summer...

So, there you have it. Random enough for you??? And I promise that I will be back, soon, with something interesting to say... *grin*

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Empty Nest

A small journey, in pictures, of the robins' nest that sits up high on our front porch...  

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Check It Out!

I had the great honor of contributing to my friend Megan's awesome blog, SortaCrunchy, this week.  We had been having a discussion about the trials of nursing an older baby/toddler, and she posted my response to a question she asked me.  You can find it HERE.  One of the advantages to having a large family is that I have, through the years, accumulated a certain amount of, for lack of a better word, wisdom, in dealing with these issues, the ones that young mothers fret over.  I remember what it was like to have questions, and to be frustrated, and to think that I was the *only* one dealing with all of this.  I want to reassure all mommies out there that YOU ARE NOT ALONE, and offer reassurance from someone who has been there.

I am humbled and honored to be a part of Megan's wonderful blogging community.  She is an inspiration, and a wonderfully talented writer.  I posted about another project of hers here.  Please check it out - there's so much she has to offer.  :)

**End of shameless self-promotion**  ;)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Great Cloth Diaper Hunt

Okay... I know I have been trying to write regularly again, but alas... I have been diverted.  But this is a really worthwhile endeavor.  I swear... :)  For several years, now (really - I've lost count...), every May and November, I participate in The Great Cloth Diaper Hunt, sponsored by Diaper Decisions.  It's a really cool internet scavenger hunt, where I, and lots of other people, spend hours, in front of a computer screen, searching WAHM websites, in search of that elusive icon, in order to be entered into a drawing to win very cool prizes.   

Not only does the GCDH give me a new way to waste time, it also gives me the opportunity to check out lots of awesome stuff - not just cloth diapers, by the way... Lots of other natural family living products, too.  And many of the sponsors offer discounts to hunters, so you can get a good deal while you're at it.  Some of the icons are easy to find, and some are nearly impossible.  Most sites have "mini-hunts, " where you follow clues, which lead you through many of the products or services offered by the WAHMs, until you finally happen upon the little diaper.   This gives me something to do while my Beloved whiles away the hours on World of Warcraft... *sigh*  I also get to dream of all the money I could spend, building my dream stash of diapers, indulging in natural bath and body products, and searching for organic cleaning supplies...

So, if you have a little one in diapers, or know of someone who has a little one in diapers, or is you just want to get an idea of what's out there, check out the GCDH.  You get to have fun, and support a great group of WAHMs, too.  What could be better???

And yeah - I'll be back in June... *tee hee*

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Dose of Reality, and a Measure of Grace

It's been a rather emotionally exhausting last couple of weeks - not so much for myself, but on behalf of several people that I know, whose children have received one diagnosis or another that plays into the worst fears of all parents.  

One's baby was born 3 months too soon, at just over 28 weeks.  I am happy to report that she (Ailyn) is doing well, defying the odds, and amazing her caregivers.  Strong little fighter, that one...

Another little boy was diagnosed with PDD-NOS -  pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified, autism.  His parents are young, and this is quite a blow to the family, who are coming to the realization that their sweet little boy might never lead a "normal" life.

And, perhaps most heartbreaking of all, the little girl whose mommy just found out yesterday that she will need a heart transplant at the tender age of 4.  This means that for her daughter to live, someone else's precious baby must die. *sob*  This is just not fair.  My heart breaks for this family... There just aren't words for something like this.

And when I hear claims being made that this world is "good" - that everything happens for a reason, that this was part of God's plan...  I keep coming back to the wise words spoken by Gavin McGrath, at the funeral of our seminary friends' newborn baby boy... "This is not your fault.  There is nothing you could have done to prevent this.  This is not the way it was meant to be."  God intended much better for us when he created the world in Love, but because sin has tainted everything, babies are born too soon, little boys are faced with challenges, and little girls are given a seemingly impossibly difficult path.

Yes, God can redeem even these tragedies.  In fact, He already has.  But that doesn't mean that He intended for them to happen.  His plan is not for us to suffer, but to transform us and to bring us into full communion, into perfect relationship with Him.  He works though the imperfections of this world - fallen, every bit of it tainted by sin, to achieve his goal.

And as I watch these families deal with the unspeakable situations forced upon them, I can't help but feel a twinge of survivor guilt - an emotion I am all-too-familiar with.  You don't bear your 5th healthy, whole, child while watching two of your friends lose their firstborn infant sons without enduring a certain measure of guilt.  Why has my family been spared?  And I know well that there is no answer, just as I have no answer for those who suffer.

There is, in the end, only Grace.  And it is enough, if we will let it be.  God takes no pleasure in our suffering.  He feels it, too, and just as we wish we could take our own children's suffering upon ourself, He does, even more so, for us.   That is the story of Salvation History, after all...   And it is in His hands that I place these families, asking for an extra measure of Grace for each of them, and that they be filled with His peace, love, and hope, for the future.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Meditations

My Mother's Day began, not as I might have hoped that it would - with a decadent breakfast in bed, followed by a lazy morning lounging in my jammies.  No...  Instead, I was awakened, earlier than usual, by Hannah, who had wandered upstairs into my bedroom, when someone had left the gate on the stairs open.  I brought her back down stairs, and, at my dear husband's urging, retreated back to bed to, hopefully, catch a few more zzzzzz's before I needed to start getting ready for church.  So I happily snuggled back under the down comforter, only to be called about 10 minutes later, by that same toddler, angrily protesting her Daddy's leaving for work - the early service... *sigh*  So much for that...

So, and began the process of getting the 5 remaining kids ready for church.  Nathan accompanies Brian to the 8:00 service - it's a thing... I jumped in the shower, got dressed, got the little ones dressed, did hair, and managed to get everyone out the door, only a few minutes late (my teenage girls helped with that this morning...).

Church was nice.  Brian gave roses to all the moms, and the kids made crafts in Sunday school - handprint wall-hangings, and cross wind chimes.  After we were done, The kids decided they wanted bagels for lunch.  I would have preferred french toast, belgian waffles, or crepes...  But I was overruled.  And the kids were actually quiet for quiet time...  I somehow managed to get the boys to finish their homework, and put most of their dirty clothes in the laundry room. Five loads of laundry, washed, dried, and folded.

Ice Cream Sunday, for the kids, for dinner...  And Brian stopped to get me roses on the way back.  Robbie gave me a pair of earrings he'd made for me in art class.

All in all, a pretty normal Sunday.  Which had me contemplating what it truly means to be a Mother.  As I looked back on this day, which has become yet another commercialized, consumerism-driven holiday, I saw that I understand Motherhood in a truly different way than the poetry on the cards portrays.  My role, today, and every day, is not to be celebrated, but to serve.  Motherhood is the ultimate gift of service, of self-sacrifice.  And, perhaps, the fact that today was, really, no different than any other Sunday, was the most honorable way I could spend Mother's Day, after all.  It is my gift to my children, the reason I am honored with the title, Mom, to be able to, for an all-too-short period of time, to be there for them.  To be able to put myself aside and give them what they need.  Serving them makes my heart sing.  It is why I was born - to be there for these little miracles.

Someday, in the not-too-distant future, I will not need to wipe little noses, or harp about missing homework assignments, or trip over dirty socks.  I will be able to enjoy that decadent morning (although probably not on a Sunday... LOL), lounging in bed.  And I will, somehow, miss all of... this.  Mother's Day is not about honoring ME.  It is about the fact that I have been blessed beyond measure to be the mother of 6 miracles, of six wonders of creation.  And today, I honor them, and thank God that He gave them to me.  Because without them, I would not have earned the name Mommy - the most important title I will ever wear. ♥

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Going Through the Motions


This song by Matthew West (lyrics) sums up my life, pretty well, at the moment. Throughout the winter, and into the spring, I have been fighting (and mostly losing) a battle with inertia. Every time I hear it, it really hits me. How often do we just go through the motions, just trying to get through the day? Or, in some cases, the hour?

I find myself coming back to a book study group that I belonged to, at our sending parish, St. Timothy's, WDM, led by Rev. Jean Willis (a wonderful priest, and the first ordained Episcopal woman in Iowa). We were reading Margaret Guenther's The Practice of Prayer (HIGHLY recommended, if you're interested...), and I was deeply touched by a couple of her of her chapters entitled, "Finding God in the Ordinary - your kitchen will teach you everything" and "Prayer and Parenting - how to pray when the baby is keeping you up." I devoured her words, filled with sage and practical advice. What has stayed with me, almost 10 years after first reading that book, is what a blessing it it to seek and find God in the everyday-edness of our lives, that simple, mundane tasks can become a devotion, and an anthem of praise, and that even the act of caring for a child can become a prayer.

I have lost much of that passion over the last few months, and I really feel the loss. I don't want to just be "going through the motions" of my day. I really want to be aware, passionately aware, of the presence of God in every facet of my life. In the diaper-changing, juice-cleaning-up, laundry-folding recesses of my daily mundane-ness. Because if I can be passionately aware of His presence there, how much more will I be able to live a witness in the bigger moments? I truly want to live my life having given everything to His service. Jesus gave everything for me. I owe it to give everything to Him. I want to live with no regrets - no wondering if, somehow, somewhere, I missed an opportunity to be salt and light, because I was too focused on things that didn't really matter. I truly want to live my life with His passion inside of me, and have that be reflected in everything in my life, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Sure, I will still make mistakes, and my priorities will still be out of whack. But He has promised to redeem that. I just want to give everything. All of it. And relish living my life in the knowledge that I left it all on the field, nothing held back, for His sake.

Now, I just have to get off the couch...

View Matthew West's own video of the song HERE. Slightly different emphasis, chronicling his own struggle with throat surgery.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Well. So Much For That...

I had planned to begin my return to the Mommy Blogosphere with a nice, thoughtful post, articulating all the reasons for my absence, and my resolve for the future. *sigh* But, alas, the best laid plans...

I was up most of the night with a congested Hannah, who couldn't nurse... So I began the day a little behind the curve. But in spite of that, I managed to get my workout in, and get a shower, in preparation for Eucharist and the start of Brian's book study on The Shack. But I missed Eucharist, because Hannah had fallen asleep during my shower, and I decided she needed the sleep.  And had to leave the book study early, because there was no one to watch the David and Hannah, and they just weren't content to play by themselves in the nursery...   It lasted for about an hour before they started fussing, loudly, in the nursery, and then Hannah wanted to run all over the parish Hall, and David wanted to have conversations with everyone... So I thought it best o pack up quietly and slip out... Oh - Hannah puked all over herself in the car just as I was buckling her in to go to church, and again, as I was putting her down for a nap. Nailed me good, that second time... Ick. Oh, the joys of motherhood... And the same congestion that was making her tummy hurt also made her velcro-baby, so I spent most of the rest of the day toting her around.

All this to say... I'm not in much of a pondering mood, at the moment... And yes. I'd love some cheese with my whine... *grin* So, yes. I'm back. And I intend to really be back, this time. I've missed the writing. And I've missed you.

Welcome back. And hopefully, I'll be more coherent tomorrow. And more rested. We'll see...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

As He Leads Us

I know I've been MIA lately, and I'll be back to blog about that soon. I promise...

But I want to share with you something that I'm REALLY excited about. Two of my very best friends (on-line, or otherwise), Megan Tietz, and Laura Oyer, are embarking on a wonderful project. Here, in their own words, is a description of it...

Hi friends (and friends of friends)!

We're Megan Tietz & Laura Oyer, and we wanted to let you know about a project we're working on, and invite you to be part of the process. We are currently co-writing a book on the subject of parenting from a Christian perspective, focused specifically on the first year of babyhood. Our working title is "As He Leads Us: Parenting on the Path of Servanthood in Baby's First Year".

Our purpose in writing this book is to offer new parents and parents-to-be an approach to caring for their baby that is radically different than what has emerged as the mainstream trend in the Christian community. And yet it is one which we believe is firmly rooted in and supported by Scripture. One that looks toward the example of God the Father, seeks after Christ's unequivocal call to servanthood, and leans upon the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in determining and meeting the individual needs of each unique child. We have each found, as we have been led by God to this particular parenting path, that parenting through a mindset of servanthood has allowed us to be more focused and fulfilled mothers, has forged more intimate connections to our husbands, and has fostered a closer and more surrendered relationship with the Lord.

Our message is this...There is more than one way to parent a young baby from a Biblical perspective. It's a truth that we wish we had been told as new moms. And it's what we are passionate about sharing with others.

Right now we're in the process of finalizing our formal book proposal and querying agents. In the meantime, we're working at building a platform for the themes of our book through Megan's blog, SortaCrunchy.We would love for you to check out the blog for a more in-depth look at our parenting philosophy, and to join in the discussions that we plan to open up on specific parenting topics every Monday. Above all, we would ask for your prayers as we seek agent representation and/or a publisher, and as we seek God's plan over all others for the future of this project.

Thank you!

I am encouraging each and every one of my readers to please click on over to SortaCrunchy and read all about it. I have a personal interest in this endeavor, as I have been blessed to watch both Megan and Laura as they have grown from wide-eyed new moms into wise and knowledgeable women, and blessed to have been a part of that journey.  They have a very important and worthwhile message, one that is very close to my heart.  they are able to put into words so eloquently what many of us have felt, stumbling through that first year of parenthood

Every Monday, Megan and Laura will be discussing part of their work, and are encouraging everyone to come read, and share their own thoughts and experiences with them.  So join me, would you? Mondays at SortaCrunchy, for the As He Leads Us discussion. You won't be sorry! I promise!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala

My mom introduced this recipe to me. Although it's technically Indian food, it is part of the local cuisine in the parts of Tanzania where she does her mission work. This has become one of my family's favorite meals. Everyone likes it - even the small ones. I have to remember to keep a few pieces of the chicken out of the sauce for Robbie, but even he likes it. And Robbie is my Mikey... He's extremely picky... *sigh* But this is one meal that everyone looks forward to.

I serve this with naan, when I can get it. At some point, I'll make it from scratch, but I haven't gotten there yet. And I make a double batch, which serves all 8 of us, with enough for a bit of leftovers the next day. And truthfully, it gets better with age... I have modified the original recipe (of course... *grin*), and I'm very satisfied with it. I hope you will be, too.

Chicken Tikka Masala
serves 4-6

This dish is best prepared with whole milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 t ground coriander, ¼ t ground cardamom, ¼ t ground cinnamon, and ½ t ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an air-tight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.

Chicken Tikka
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
½ t cayenne
2 t table salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat, and cut into 1”-2” cubes
2 c whole-milk yogurt
2 T vegetable oil
2 med garlic cloves, minced or pressed (about 2 t)
1T fresh grated ginger

Masala Sauce
3 T vegetable oil
1 med onion, diced fine (about 1 ¼ c)
2 med garlic cloves, minced or pressed (about 2 t)
2 t fresh grated ginger
1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced
1T tomato paste
1T garam masala
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2t sugar
½ t salt
2/3 c heavy cream
¼ c chopped cilantro leaves

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt in a zip-top bag. Add chicken, and toss to coat. Place bag on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, ginger, garlic, and oil. Set aside.
2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala: cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream, and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
3. While the sauce simmers, adjust the oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6” from the heating element) and preheat broiler. Using tongs, dop chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with a thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on a wire rack set in a foil-lined baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt. Broil chicken until thickens parts read 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and exterior is charred in spots, 10-18 minutes, flipping chicken half-way through cooking time.
4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, remove from rack and stir into warm sauce. Do not simmer chicken in sauce. Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve over basmati rice.

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated recipe, Sept/Oct 2007