Monday, March 25, 2013

Canine intuition

Abby has a sixth sense about her girls. She ranks with Carl among the canine caretaker elite.
Take last night. She was worried sick about Gwennan. Laying at her feet, whining {she is the talking-est dog we've ever owned}. Pawing at me to check on her my baby. So sweet, until...

Gwennan threw up on her, twice.

I wish I illustrated posts, so you could 'see' the scene without actually seeing the disgusting mess {no one should have to see that}. Since I can't even draw crappy pictures, you'll have to use your imagination.

Abby's bath brought our total to 6 showers in 12 hours {feeling fine, but not wishing to be left out, small one dumped her food over her head, twice}.

In case you stopped by searching for spiritual encouragement or a new recipe, they're in the works. Really. I have pictures edited and drafts in the works. But today, I am not in a romantic or creative mood. Blame the all night vigil anticipating another eruption.

If you want to feel bad for us this morning, that's fine. I'll take a little sympathy, just a little. Really, we are fine. Gwenny ate a big breakfast this morning that has blessedly stayed in place. Nobody else feels sick. Here's to an isolated incident.

If not, at least I have a superdog warning system in place. But next time I'll thank her for the head's up, then lock her in another room.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What to expect

Today has been a psycho pregnant day. I ran around the house, giddily experimenting with Bar Keeper's Friend - ooh, what else can I clean? The girls gave each other the look that say momma's gone crazy, and we should roll with it. Pregnancy absolutely makes you nuts, at least temporarily {I hope}.

A few of the ways that otherwise normal women become pregnant lunatics {that What to Expect conveniently leaves out}:

Your pants do not fit for 9 months. It doesn't matter what waist band you buy. Even yoga pants ride high one minute then slide off the next. Such is the nature of trying to cover a balloon in elastic. Prepare yourself for constant hiking, pulling, and squirming. It takes it's toll on your sanity.

Food stains appear on every shirt you own, even ones you don't remember wearing. Because you are now the clumsiest person alive, so much so that you don't even notice spills. You can try blaming your toddler, but no one is fooled.

Lots of belly staring from smiling strangers, but no comments. People can't help but notice your baby bump. But somehow we've been trained not to ask when you're due, or if you know the gender, or even congratulate you. People who value their privacy will enjoy this. Personally, I miss celebrating with complete strangers, hearing about their families, even if I do field the occasional rude, you must be crazy.

Every OB's scale adds three pounds. It's incredibly discouraging to think you gained weight driving to your appointment. After three different OB offices, I'm convinced it's a sadistic joke by the college of obstetrics.

Half of the women standing around the playground or eating at Sweet Frog share your condition. Before you jump on me for stereotyping, I'm also standing there, hiking up my elastic waist pants, waddling after my children. I don't know what non-pregnant mothers do to occupy their children, but pregnant ones go to the playground, then recover with frozen yogurt.

Your grocery bill skyrockets. Through the power of suggestion and sympathy cravings. The girls can talk me into anything - out of season fruit from Argentina, extra cheese, treats for Daddy, treats for super dog. Indulging other people's cravings becomes your new vice.

Nesting is more manic than cute. Like labor, there are lots of false alarms with nesting - it's not prepping the nursery or an unusually productive day or growing irritated enough with the long-ignored mess that you throw yourself into organizing it. It's wild, out of control, no real plan cleaning. And not the kind that wows your hubby when he comes home. He's more likely to walk in and cautiously ask, What happened today, while you snore on the couch and your kids run around in their underwear. You can eat off the kitchen floor which is great because you never noticed the day's dirty dishes. Manic, hormone-storm cleaning. Roll with it, and take some Tylenol. Your back is going to punish you when the hormonal numbness wears off.

Pregnancy is a crazy, beautiful blessing. If you love being pregnant, wonderful. If you're hung up on the puberty crazy of it all, I get you. I can only call it beautiful on my third time around. Before this, it was migraines and awkwardness. I felt so guilty around the happy pregnant women who loved their baby bump bodies.

Then the girls arrived, and I realized that how much you love, or don't love pregnancy is no indication of your love for your baby or your ability as a momma. And the craziness of pregnancy is a blip in your history. Easily forgotten, quickly recovered from.

No one stays pregnant forever. And the hormones that made you crazy also make you forget the crazy. Especially when you first hold baby.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The art of rest

We're poor artists. I don't mean with paint or pencil. {Although there is no great skill there either.}

I'm thinking of rest, not just I'm sick and tired, but worship rest. Sabbath rest.

Sabbath rest is an art. Like all worship. God focus is cultivated, developed, much like a sculpture or a garden. A work of beauty through patient endurance. Not a result of chemical reaction.

That's what I want it to be. Add this. Take away that. Voila. You have officially Sabbathed. Check it off and move on.

There is no recipe, no reaction to follow. Teachers of the Law spent thousands if years creating rules for the Sabbath reaction, only to have Jesus point out its flaws over and over.

Because worship rest isn't about what we're doing.

Worship rest isn't about what we're not doing.

I can sweat in the garden to God's glory or to my frustration.

Worship rest is about the heart.

A heart that trusts, thanks, waits. Psalm 52:9

I cannot practice trust, thanks, wait when I'm reciting my to do list. Or when I'm forcing my body to sit while my mind ranges the hills of my frustrations and failures.

Trust, thanks, wait. A mental posture of resting. Worship through God-reliance, God-praise, God-faith.

We're new to this sabbathing. Keep looking at each other and asking, wait, can we do that? What does sabbath mean for our family?

We're not practiced in worship rest. So the last months have been fumbling attempts to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. Not fill it with our own agenda, agenda to work or agenda not to work.

We are poor artists, learning the craft of worship rest. Trusting that the rest is important or God would not have gifted it. Thanking him for this challenging gift, for the hard work of resting. Waiting to see him glorified in our worship, to catch a glimpse of his ever-presence.

Trust, thanks, wait.
To read a more practiced artist, check out 24/6 by Michael Sleeth.

The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan and Sabbath by Wayne Muller are on my 'to read' list. {feel free to beat me to the punch and tell me what you think.}

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Feel Better Tea

My sweet baby girl is sick... again.

She has been hit by cold after teething after cold this winter. Each accompanied by stuffiness and coughs and general malaise. We've developed such a sick day routine that she wakes up from afternoon nap, asks for med-sin, a disney movie and feel better tea.

I don't know how you feel about home remedies. Growing up, I firmly believed all helpful cures came with childproof caps. Then I had sick babies. Tiny ones don't have many options for OTC cold relief. But feel better tea does the trick. Clears sinuses, relieves headaches, settles stomachs. We're believers. 

Note - this tea is for babies over 1 year. Please don't feed honey to infants.

Feel Better Tea

1 bag chamomile tea {or 1 1/2 t loose chamomile tea and an infuser}
1/4 t cinnamon for the little guys, 1/8 t cayenne pepper for the grown ups
2-3 slices fresh ginger {or 1 piece candied ginger}
1-2 t honey {again, please don't feed to infants! Try agave instead}
1 lemon slice
8 oz not quite boiling water water

Let steep for 5-8 minutes. Remove tea bag and serve. I add two ice cubes for the girls.

If a spring cold hits you, I hope you feel better soon!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The family garden

Only the second full week in March, and we have veggies started from seed! I have never been this organized and on schedule with a garden. Usually March is spent daydreaming about an enormous, carefree plot of veggies. Then the frost free date hits in April, and I grab anything that looks edible from the garden supply store. Seeds are thrown in pell mell, a month too late. Veggies bolt a week after I plant them. Weeds and poor soil plague the season. And I scratch my head.

But this year, I must be on top of the garden for two 'get it done' reasons:

1 Little man is due in the beginning of July - I can't afford to be fighting failing tomato plants in the heat of the summer. Everything needs to be in place and thriving {or composting} when I leave for the hospital.

2 Hubby joined the gardening team - And when my man decides something needs to get done, and that something is on a time table {e.g. must be complete before I go nesting crazy and forget to feed my family satisfying my obsession with miniature knitwear}, the work gets done. He located and cut up pallets, then built four planters, two raised beds, and a cold frame, and moved all the dirt to fill them this week. I couldn't be that productive if someone held a gun to my head {because small one would still be climbing up my leg yelling, 'I poop!', big one would still be crying about dirt in her hair, and Abby superdog would still be digging through the compost bin}. I'm so grateful for my home improvement project ringer.
The 'getting it done' was possible and organized, the shopping trips had purpose and a basic list because I started a gardening journal. Nothing fancy - 4 dated columns per page. Some weeks read: rained all week. I'm so tired of puddles. Other weeks, like this one, I'm creating indecipherable abbreviations to squeeze our gardening efforts into the allotted space.

The girls have jumped into this with 20 filthy fingernails. Last year, they discovered the Christmas morning joy of tearing into seed packets. During this year's trip to the nursery, they were rabid wildly enthusiastic among the envelopes of possibility. I plant purple carrots, Mommy? I want strawberries. Can we plant purple onions? What about purple potatoes? Purple garlic? Purple beets? Purple tomatoes? Purple peppers? {notice a theme - I had no idea so many veggies came in purple. Why hasn't the grocery produce department picked up on this??}

 We snatched up carefully chose heirloom seed packets with purple produce {and green and yellow and red} and wildly scattered thoughtfully laid out rows of root veggies and cold loving leafy greens, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Every day, the girls beg to add something new to the garden. DH keeps building planters, so Momma keeps tearing into seed packets, spreading vegetating joy.

Better than any produce we might harvest or science lessons I might teach, I love the family involvement in the production. The garden has been a little red hen project for me in the past, in part because I didn't involve anyone else. 'Help' is much messier. Accountability much more pressurizing.

We all have a stake in the garden this year, not just what we eat from it, but the shared dirt under 40 fingernails {I should probably count Abby's 16 toenails too}. The mess is shared. The pressure to produce is spread. Come July, this momma can sit comfortably cuddling a newborn in the central air, while someone else carries in tomatoes, peppers and zucchini for dinner. I should have shared the garden earlier.

An easy gardening project: clear row markers
You need scissors, a plastic clamshell and a sharpie. Cut the clamshell into strips and write the crop with a sharpie. Insert at end of row. The clear plastic doesn't block the sun while the plants are growing.

Happy gardening!

For garden journal resources, check here or here.

If you don't have a local nursery with heirloom seeds, check here.

For raised bed info, check this book out.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Baby sparkles {or Gwennan's compositions}

We're on the downhill side of a challenging few weeks. My grandmother encouraged me to think of every difficult time as a stage and the pleasant times as 'normal.' Bearing that in mind, we are returning to normal after wandering through a bad stage.

I can tell we're normalizing - big one is bouncing into rooms rather than tramping, and she has resumed composing. When she's angry and belligerent, the songs stop. But when her heart is happy, she flits around making up marvelous ditties.

Sunday she sat at the piano, banging out her magnum opus, 'Baby Sparkles.' The name is a mystery to me, but she plays it any time she's in a good mood. Baby Sparkles is an ongoing work with new verses every couple weeks.

This verse started with several repeats of 'Thank you God,' followed by 'Praise you Lord,' which then unraveled into a drawn out ballad about bathing in tomato juice after encountering a skunk named Flower. One of those moments when you look over your shoulder and think, 'how in the world did we arrive here?'

Last night she composed a song just for me, inspired by my decline to give her a third cookie. She replied, 'I don't like your tone. I hate your tone.' {we're not totally out of the dark woods}

To which I said, 'Hate is too strong a word. Can you re-phrase?'

To which she wrote this little number:
'Tone, tone, I like tones,
But I don't like yours.
Turn it around and find something good.
I was rolling.

A few weeks ago, she was headed toward black and scream-o. I'm grateful to see my goofy girl resurfacing.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fast failure

How quickly rituals meant to remind of Christ become burdensome. I see the hypocrite, the pharisee in myself - If I'm abstaining from coffee, can I use a double shot to kick a migraine or do I suffer on under the guise of fasting? If I'm abstaining from drinking milk, can I eat pudding? Seeing my thoughts in print, I'm embarrassed by my pettiness.

This lent tradition, giving up to gain Christ, replacing a comfort with the Spirit's comfort, has been mostly about me. Where I will draw the line. How much I want a cup of coffee. How much I wish I had ignored the uncomfortable fasting season altogether.

Hardly the spiritual conquest I was hoping for.

Spiritual conquest - the root of my fast failure. I wasn't hoping to glorify God, not really. I was hoping for a grand spiritual experience, to have a primed and ready heart. It sounds so good, but how can I have a heart prepared to celebrate Jesus if he isn't my focus? I am the hypocrite disfiguring my face, looking gloomy and exhausted, to show my fasting to the world. I grossly miss the point.

So my Lent season has been a series of disappointments. I don't feel focused on Christ. If anything, I'm more obsessed with myself. I chose coffee because I depend on it for self-control and strength. Just let momma finish this cup, and I'll be a better momma. promise.  In a small way, I use a latte to replace the Holy Spirit.

I thought to give it up in order to be made perfect in weakness. Instead my weakness has been highlighted. Not an addiction to caffeine, but the desire to control my weakness, to mask my selfishness with extra energy.
3 weeks passed in Lent. 3 weeks left to Lent. A half time evaluation, and I see the heavy burden I have tied on myself. Not the hardship of giving up my ritualistic latte break. The heart that believed I could prepare myself, force my way into God's presence through a fast. Have I not already been given access? His burden is light because He carried it all. He shouldered my burden under the weight of a wooden cross and crucified my sin with his blood. By his wounds, I am healed.

That's what I'm supposed to remember during Lent.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The day the girls ate sushi

We love the grocery store - small one has a special Trader Joe's dance. Our grocery trips have a sense of ritual about them. Product of a pseudo-foodie momma.

Big one knows all of our regular items. She bounces from tortillas to bananas to garlic, calling back to me, "Mommy, do we need eggplant? What about fresh ginger? Should we buy broccoli today? Ooo, we need eggs and yogurt and edamame." She rushes around the grocery store grabbing the items she knows and shot putting dropping them in the cart. Managed chaos.

We practice school at the grocery store. Find foods that begin with our letter of the week. Identify colors of fruit. Count items aloud as we put them in the cart. We border on disruptive, so I try to time our visits with a lull.

I risk annoying other patrons so that the girls can own their food and know ingredients.

And the girls ever surprise me with their adventurous palates. They eat spinach with goat cheese, pomegranate, hummus, curry and tofu. They're especially drawn to brightly colored veggies: purple kale and orange cauliflower. Showing me that the only foods kids will never eat are the foods we never put in front of them.
Not to say they eat everything equally. We're hit or miss with fish. DH spoiled them with fresh caught rockfish. Everyone should be so lucky. Small one spits out even tiny pieces of onion. Big one is on an unAmerican I-hate-Mac-n'-cheese kick. But we keep trying old stuff and introducing new stuff.

So I'm introducing a recipe from my sis that my girls devoured, once again surprising me with their willingness to explore different flavors.

Sushi Salad courtesy of Sarah Kerley

3 T soy sauce (Tamari soy sauce is often gluten free)
3 T sesame oil
3 T rice vinegar
2 t wasabi (optional)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 t sugar
2 T each white and black sesame seeds (or 4 T white sesame seeds), lightly toasted

1/2 lb rice noodles (you could substitute 2 packages of ramen noodles sans the flavor package)
1 cucumber, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1 avocado, diced
1 lb edamame, cooked and shelled
Up to 1 c shredded seaweed such as nori and/or wakame

Mix all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil the rice noodles (like spaghetti, but they cook in 5-7 minutes depending on the width) and drain. Combine all salad ingredients in large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss to coat evenly.

Serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.

This is even better the next day. Heat it up for half a minute in the microwave and enjoy. You can also top it with cooked shrimp or lump crab meat. A seared tuna steak would be a lovely addition to fancy it up a bit.

Sorry I don't have a picture. It didn't last that long.


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