Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hands and feet

I remember three years ago, when a heart broke near to me--my daughter oblivious while swinging on the swing, a baby in my arms, summer's promise a whisper in the air, deep blue skies and holy hush in suspended stillness.

Today, overcast. Shared tears with a friend. I tie a ribbon around flowers. As I walk with unsure steps to the site, cold wind whipped. I think of my friend, the journey and miles between us now, and am grateful to share in her grief, to be hands and feet for her.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chocolate hobbyist

I talked to a woman today, casually commenting how I wasn't particularly fond of the days that I volunteered at Lanie's school solely because it meant packing a lunch--and I'm not very creative in the morning getting kids together and out the door. I had a sorry ham sandwich and some plain yogurt with a swirl of apple butter. I can't say for sure that I would have had anything more thrilling had I been at home, but I would have had the option if I wanted to.

One very good thing about bringing my own lunch is that I can't graze. There's no in-between snacking unless I bring the snacks. And I can stick to healthier eating if I pack healthier things. These are all valid points ... in theory.

No sooner had I mentioned my sorry sandwich and lack of creativity, than one of my favorite moms at school chimed in that she only packed a banana.

"Sounds like this calls for a Panera run," I found myself saying. And before I know it, there's a chipotle chicken sandwich in my hands.

At another point this morning, I mentioned missing chocolate because I didn't pack any. Another mom said to me, "I have some." Not much later on, she's discreetly slipping a small pouch into my hand. Ahh, chocolate. I go to snack on a piece when I realize she had given me a generous share ... enough to quell my cravings and share some with my kids in the afternoon.

I hugged her.

"Thank you!" I said. I asked her if she is the mom who tries unusual chocolate combinations, like the jalapeno and chocolate concoction I had heard rumors of.

"Yes," she said. "I am a chocolate hobbyist."

Hobbyist sounds much more intellectual than junkie--I decided to adopt it as my own title. She went on to tell me how she even has a chocolate budget and some of the great mom-n-pop places she has found in her travels.

"We should do field trips," I suggested. I'm so not kidding.

One thousand gifts (647-673)

647. Getting to the school year's last first grade poem recital on time!
648. Little jars of jam.
649. Lettuce sprouts in the garden.
650. Playdate invitations.
651-654. 66 Books. Repeatedly thankful for this outlet, for rich quiet time, for intentional study, and for the very cool people I've met through it.
655. Dandelions.
666. Foggy mornings.
667. Yellow raincoats.
668. Monkey dresses.
669. Two boys on bikes on a country road, fishing poles in backpacks.
670. The quiet Saturday morning drive to Panera.
671. Impromptu friend visits.
672. Melancholics.
673. Hindsight.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The art of procrastination

Art is messy, especially when mixed with procrastination.

8:00 p.m. sat down to study and then sometime between then and 9:33 p.m., I thought about how I need a better pencil sharpener because we've worn ours out; asked my husband if he could oil the office chair because it squeaks too much; suggested we also dismantle the train table in the playroom since the kids aren't using it very much anymore; made a list of supporting verses that discuss peace and read them; made another list of things I'd like to accomplish tomorrow ... and then Saturday ... ok, and Monday (which included going by Staples to get a new pencil sharpener); ended up on Facebook and became curious about someone liking paleo eating; Googled Paleo diet; found a radio station online and listened to music; thought about recurring spider dream.

Book open in lap. Tabs open to blogs, email, radio, dictionary, and stepson's summer wedding page. Commercials playing. Mind wandering. Chewing on these words for over a week:
 
seek peace and pursue it.

Sitting. Staring. And suddenly the words are stumbling over one another to be seen and heard--for me to understand. A fight to reason. A struggle. It wells up inside and breaks like a flood. Post on peace at 66 Books.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bread and jelly

I have vague memories of my parents in the kitchen, tending pots of boiling water making strawberry preserves. It was one of the things I looked forward to: strawberry preserves and peach preserves. I remember wishing my mom made more of them and more often. It seemed like too many years passed in between batches. There was nothing like opening a jaw of strawberry preserves in the middle of winter and tasting all the sweetness of summer in a spoonful.

I recreated this memory today with the help of a friend. She brought huge strawberries over and together we went to work on cutting, stirring, measuring, boiling and ladling. Our kids watched from the sidelines, intermittently begging for strawberries. Stained fingers and faces. Smiles and pleas for more. Jars and jars mounting. A couple of pints, over a dozen half pints, and probably twice as many minis.

My mom never taught me how to make jelly. But many thanks to Bob who offered to teach me a couple of weeks ago--and for picking up the phone today to share his tried-and-true recipe as we moved from batch to batch.

Homemade bread. Fresh preserves. Over dinner tonight, Lanie was the most enthusiastic to try it out.

"You make the best bread!" she exclaimed. And then, "You make the BEST jelly!" Two helpings. She can't wait to have some for breakfast tomorrow. And I can't wait to include her in the kitchen when I make my next batch.

In her thankful journal tonight: bread and strawberry jelly.

In mine: good friends who spend time making jelly with me; a daughter of my own who shares the anticipation; and a spoonful of summertime that, in the instant my eyes close, has magical powers to take me back to my mother's kitchen ... and I am eight years old again.

Monday, April 19, 2010

One thousand gifts (632-646)

632. Wind blowing through tree fullness.
633. April showers.
634. Holding hands with Lanie walking home from piano.
635. A bike ride with Lanie around the lake. Invigorating temps.
636. Twisty slides.
637. Gusty winds.
638. Yellow tomato blossom.
639. Pink flowers in a vase.
640. Open windows.
641. Oreo truffles.
642. Cold water refills.
643. Thunder.
644. Sore legs.
645. Happiness at the dinner table. "Can you turn it up, Mama?"
646. And happiness.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mom moments

The girls and I met up with a friend and her kids at a local park for a morning power walk followed by single leg squats using a balance ball. The kids scootered along the trail and then played at the slides while we moms squatted and did push-ups. Afterward, I took the girls to Walmart because we were near it and I had a few things to get.

I was looking at stationery for some thank-yous. Erin says, "Mommy! You are stinky!"

There are people around me.

"Mommy! Did you take a shower this morning?" Could she get any louder?

"No," I tell her quietly.

"You sure are stinky!" I couldn't help but laugh. "You need to take a shower."

Noted ... by me and a few others.

***

Fixing lunch for kids at home. Nutella on high-fiber bread. A side of strawberries. Lanie decides to make a strawberry sandwich out of it. Erin follows suit, sticking a strawberry on top of her sandwich, and then crying because it falls off before getting it into her mouth.

"Tuck your strawberry inside," I tell her. "Like a blanket."

Success.

"This is so good!" she says.

She is looking forward to trying it with banana slices.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Snapshots

Images that come to mind when I think of us. Color and life pop. Happy to be.


Shane and kids; Lanie grabbing a drink; all the girls


Lanie smiles; Erin; the cat


Watering can; my bike; Erin's first flip-flops


Easter egg; her hair like a banner; smiles before church


Erin excited to find eggs; her bike


Erin; Lanie practicing piano; sisters

Monday, April 12, 2010

One thousand gifts (611-631)

611. Goodness gaining.
612. Pedicures.
613. Tube slides.
614. A friend to walk with.
615. A bike rack and a free Saturday coming up to ride with Lanie.
616. Hands up.
617. Canning jars.
618. Strawberry jam (turned syrup) that tastes just like my mom used to make it.
619. Gaining glimpses of contentment.
620. The breakfast club on Saturdays.
621. A heart broken for someone else.
622. For joy that comes on the morrow.
623. Wedding pictures and memory collages.
624. Hugs.
625. Chipotle mayonnaise.
626. Children that smell like sunshine.
627. Home schooling.
628. Learning to embrace things that go in the box.
629. Memories of a tree house.
630. Saying "I love you", even if it isn't said back.
631. Wishing my dad a happy 74th birthday.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chipotle mayo, among other things

How do you get it through to a three year old that whining sounds awful--and feels awful? Or to a seven year old that no matter how much you complain, you still get grilled chicken for dinner? Or to me: that there will be good days and bad days and really bad days and no matter what I am still responsible for me and how I react to it all? Yeah, how do you get those things through?

Hello canyon's edge, this is as close as I'm coming to you today.

Stepping back now.

While I was online today, I found this recipe for chipotle mayonnaise, which I made for tonight's dinner: chicken wraps with chipotle mayonnaise.

Chipotle Mayo

1/2 cup mayo
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 green onions, minced
1-2 tablespoons of minced chipotle peppers
1 teaspoon-ish lime juice

Spread generously onto tortillas with sliced tomatoes, grated cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, avocado and grilled chicken.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Trust

I had full-time parent duty for our schedule today. Shane was at home sick, so I managed both girls at church with dropping off and picking up from classes. Conversation ensued.

"Mommy, guess what we did today in church!" Lanie started.

"I don't know. What did you do?" I answered.

"We put this blindfold thing on. They picked someone and I got picked and then someone led me around. Her name was Chi-chi. She led me around because I couldn't see and so I wouldn't bump into things," she explained.

"Oh, was that fun?" I asked.

"Yes."

"Did you bump into anything?"

"No," she said. "It was teaching us trust."

A few minutes passed and then I said, "So you were learning about trust by letting someone lead you when you couldn't see. Kind of like when we trust God to lead us when we don't--"

"And we saw a lizard!"

Hoping the lesson on trust sunk in before the lizard stole the show.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Soar

Started the day off with Breakfast Blend decaf.

Kicked it up to full-caff Hazelnut on the second cup.

Writing over at 66 Books.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Worth saving

I have been scheduling and postponing bike trips for over a month now. Originally, my co-riders thought it was too cold out. Then it rained or something. And then I finally got someone to say she'd ride with me, but when I hauled up my bike from the basement, it was covered in cobwebs, the tires were flat and my brakes were shot.

"Um, can we reschedule?" I asked. Humbly.

I dropped my bike off at the shop for a tune-up. It took me all of five minutes to wrangle it into the back of my car. Gone are the days of my Honda Civic hatchback and how I could easily store it in the back.

I took it out of my car, and a fast-talking man came up to me and gave it a quick glance.

"What's wrong?"

"I'm here for a tune-up. And my brakes are shot," I said.

He picked up some cable stuff and adjusted--in seconds my brakes were back. He hoisted the bike up on the thing-a-ma-jig for repairs.

"These Columbias," he started, "Sometimes they aren't worth saving. But this one is ok. Can you be back by one?"

He's replacing my water bottle cage because apparently Evian doesn't make the ginormous bottles they used to anymore. I eyed the skimpy little water bottles at the bike shop.

"I drink a lot," I said hesitantly.

"I'll put two on," he said.

"And I'll need a bike rack," I said.

As it was, the tune-up already started at about half of what I paid for the bike in the first place. And bikes have come a ways since I started real riding when I was a young twenty-something. But for nostalgia, I'd like to keep this clunker around for a while. I put a lot of good miles on it, and braved some steep hills without touching the granny gear ... mostly because it wouldn't switch into it. Ultimately, though, it made me a stronger rider. At least, that's what I like to tell myself.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sweet tea and a summery breeze

My kids' skin shows evidence of sun kisses. Our days spent playing outside. Planting in the garden (four rows of lettuces, a strawberry plant, some tomatoes waiting for the freeze threat to pass--which seems so unlikely with temps in the 80s today). The watering can bringing loads of fun to my helpers. And the jalapeno plants, seeds dropped in the holes, little fingers tucking them in.

A great playdate last week with some friends and more fun as this week continues. A good friend in town has kept me up late at night with heartfelt talks that transport me back to teenage slumber parties. She left today, and the summery breeze outside lulled me through the windows. The sweet tea in my glass an afternoon spell that made me close my eyes for just a few minutes to sneak in a nap.

Sharing this recipe from a mom who was so very generous to contribute during last week's luncheon. She also kindly left the remainder of the dressing, which we enjoyed on an Easter salad and dinner last night.

Spinach salad with strawberries. Poppy seed dressing.


2 bunches of fresh baby spinach washed and dried and 1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced

Dressing:

1/2 cup of sugar

2 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 1/2 teaspoon onion, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup vegetable oil (she used smart balance oil)

1/4 cup cider vinegar

Place all of the above into a blender or food processor, blend until thickened. (She just pulsed enough to blend the onions. It was quick.) Serve immediately. Drizzle over salad.

Monday, April 5, 2010

One thousand gifts (583-610)

583. Sunny days.
584. Backyard play.
585. Seeing things in a different way.
586. Pink notebooks.
587. Big playdates.
588. Celebrating eleven years married to a really Good Guy.
589. Marble cupcakes with sprinkles.
600. Friends for lunch and dinner.
601. Easter baskets and egg hunts.
602. Understanding the meaning of the season.
603. Even lines on the lawn.
604. Strawberry and spinach salad.
605. Windows open and birdsong.
606. Flip flops and sandals.
607. Xylophones.
608. Not fitting in.
609. Lanie's hair like a banner when she runs.
610. Laughter.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy anniversary

Shane and I celebrate eleven years married today. Whew! That went fast.

He started my day with happy wishes and kiss goodbye.

Lanie wakes up and comes into my office bearing good wishes and gifts: a picture she drew of her and Erin on stage holding hands. On the back, it reads: Happy anuvesry. The other was a paper dinner napkin with a happy-face cloud and anniversary wishes.

She holds up the gift she made for Shane: a toilet paper roller with some toilet paper taped to it and a smiley face!

Love it! So cute.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I think I'll enjoy it

"It's a beautiful day here in sunny Apollo Beach--I think I'll enjoy it."

This was the last status on Facebook of my sister-in-law's mother. Days later she died. Her status haunts me and remains a forever reminder.

A beautiful day here spent with my little people--shoe shopping, lunch packing, around the lake walking, park playing. High temps near 80. Reddened cheeks from sweaty play, I loaded them in the car and drove over to a 7-11 for Slurpees: their first. Lanie got pina colada. And since they were out of blue, Erin ordered the same as Lanie. I got a Coke Slurpee. And then drank Erin's after she felt done after three sips.

Tomorrow a playdate with some girls from Lanie's school. A day with lots of friends, lots of food, maybe some cupcakes, and sweet tea.

Flip-flops on my feet, 100 days counting to my stepson's wedding, a challenge from my husband to beat him at pull-ups, intense hugs from my girls, anticipation for fun, trees flowering and windows open. A beautiful, beautiful day still. And this life: I think I'll enjoy it.

Rest and peace to you, Mary. Thank you for your reminder.