Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hits the spot

I baked cookies yesterday. Chocolate chip, white chip cookies were one of my all-time favorites until ...

White chip chocolate cookies with chocolate chips. 

Got that?

From the bag:

2 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cups baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups white chips
(and my addition 1 cup chocolate chips)

Heat oven to 350. Mix butter, sugar till creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Then add dry ingredients. Chips last. Plop onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake 9-11 minutes.

These melted in my mouth like a good fudge. Even the next day. Even frozen.

The thought that counts

Last week I made black bean soup and corn bread for dinner. A last-minute meal since I hadn't planned the week's menus very well and was raiding the pantry. It had been months since I made black bean soup, so the change would be nice.

I start making the soup: garlic, onions, carrots, stock, seasoning and then beans. Let it simmer till the carrots are soft. Then blend with my trusty immersion blender.

I pulled it out, plugged it in, and the motor whirred, but the blade didn't. I tried again. And again. Unplugged it and tried again. High. Low.

Nothing.

I brought out my banana bread masher. But it didn't do much good with beans. And then a different masher, which mashed a little, but not the effect I was going for.

"Bummer," I said out loud. "My immersion blender is broken."

Erin walked up to me and put her hand on my arm.

"Mommy!" she exclaimed. "I will get you a NEW one for your birthday! It will be the best gift ever!"

She reminded me today while we were in the grocery store that she would get me a new immersion blender for my birthday. And I thought how sweet to be three where things in the world are free, and all you have to do to have it is wish hard enough.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sound bites

Got a phone call one evening at dinner. I answered and it was the local library explaining that Erin had been entered into a drawing and won. We could swing by to pick up her prize. I explained what happened to the girls--Erin, surprised beyond imagination ... and Lanie, puzzled.

"Where's the picture?" she asked.

"What do you mean?" I responded.

"The picture. You said Erin's in a picture."

"She was in a drawing!" Smiling. I had some explaining to do.

***

Playing ponies with Erin. Ponies either have parties or yard sales or move. Ponies played that day before a party. My ponies shared a toy with Erin's ponies.

"Thanks," Erin said on behalf of her ponies.

"Aww, sure! What are friends for?" my ponies replied.

Without missing a beat, she said, "Love."

***

During lunch prep, the kids were a buzzing huddle around Shane. My thoughts about getting food on plates so we are all seated at once. I decided to interrupt the commotion with a question I remembered off the back of the church bulletin insert. 

"Lanie, question for you: what is the most important thing that we want for you?"

Curious for her answer. Half expecting something a seven year old might say, like to be happy. I don't think I ever sat down to put in words exactly what that most important thing would be. This is what makes me a terrible public speaker, and never one for being put on the spot. Any words from this brain require a good measure of thought, including drafts and revisions. Shane and I waited for her to speak.

"To believe in God and love him," she said.

A bursting joy in my heart.

***

Lanie comes into my office waving a piece of paper, brightly colored.

"Here's a Keep Out sign if you ever need one!" she announced. It read:

Keep Out! 

Please!

One thousand gifts (955-966)

955. Flower petals carried on a summer breeze.
956. Lush green grass under my feet.
957. Dark chocolate Raisinettes.
958. People driving past our house and taking flyers.
959. The wrestle in understanding relationships.
960. The sweet sound of Lanie practicing a song for next weekend's church service.
961. Day dreams.
962. A Starbucks gift card that fed our family treats and coffee.
963. Mini pink donuts with sprinkles.
964. Chalk drawings on the driveway.
965. TV-free days and house sounds of piano practicing, kids giggling, and silence.
966. Folded towels on a shelf.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Easy to love

About a year ago, I checked out a book from the library called Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey ... a book about turning conflict into cooperation, and what parent couldn't use some of that? Before then, I had read quite a few parenting books ... and some I wish I hadn't! If ever I were to suggest a book to a friend, hands down it's Easy to Love

So I got this book from the library, and I read it slowly because it was so good, I didn't want to rush through it and not get the lessons in my head. I read it so slowly, I renewed it to the limit and then two times more. Ok, and then I returned it because I stopped reading part way through--probably from reading other books at the same time ... I do that. Then at Christmas time, I made a list and at the top (honestly, I can't even say there was anything else on the list), was Becky Bailey's book. Thank God, Shane took the hint.

Fast forward about six months, I restarted and finished the book. What makes it so surprising and so good is its over arching theme of self-control in place of trying to control others. A book that made me think it was about getting kids to change, actually fooled me for the better by revealing to me that I needed to change first. I got practical, clear examples of how to reprogram my thinking--and a picture of what to really expect of kids by age, especially those older than three. It gave me the tools to go alongside my children and teach them ... not to look for reasons to punish. (This is not to say that there aren't ever consequences for poor decisions.)

It's about helping a child to make better choices for himself; to feel his feelings and show compassion for others; to look for the best in others; to acknowledge mistakes and move on. A beautiful and thoughtful weaving of self-control and discipline skills. These are lifelong lessons for big people too: I learned many things about myself through these pages--which is a better conversation over coffee than blog feeds.

At the end of the book is a 7-Week Loving Guidance program to further root the lessons and springboard into the rest of life. And I'm looking forward to every minute of it. 

Bottomless pit

Erin is eating non-stop this morning.

"How can you still be hungry?" I ask. "Where is there room left in your belly for more? You must be growing!"

She beams. She loves the idea of being a big girl.

"Don't grow so fast! I want you to be my baby," I tell her.

"But Mommy," she says all seriously, "I will still be with you. And even when I'm grown up, I will still love you."

I pull her into my lap and she spills over all arms and legs, giggles met with mommy kisses rapid-fire over her head. This love, I don't think I could ever feel full. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

One thousand gifts (943-954)

943. An offer on the house, first day, sight unseen. We didn't take it because it was below our personal low, but still, it was a good feeling momentarily. And even more so when their agent contacted a few days later to persist.
944. A painted laundry room.
945. Rainy, rainy days and green grass.
946. Homemade garden salsa from a neighboring friend.
947. Friendships that hurt over the thought of goodbyes.
948. Folded laundry, put away.
949. Card games with the kiddos.
950. Being past the busy to enjoy my family.
951. God's faithfulness and the peace I feel when I remember it.
952. Jelly making with Marshall's mom.
953. Coffee with milk and sugar.
954. Friends who pray.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The fib

Playing cards today ... a Veggietales version of Old Maid called The Fib.

In tears from belly laughs as a predictable three year old keeps choosing cards from the same spot. Or the careful placement of a card above others that is like a magnet to a seven year old's hands. Or the parent who holds back The Fib so Erin can experience a win.

"Don't worry," she comforts, "If you get The Fib, I will still love you. I will try to get it from you."

This morning, a few rounds of a matching game. This afternoon several hands of The Fib. Tonight, our weeknight favorite of Uno Attack.

Good times.

Telephone

This summer seemed to fly by. Our family seemed to splinter in the distraction of getting a house on the market. Shane had evenings and weekends taking care of house and yard things. I was consumed with cleaning and decluttering. Our minds contemplative of future and thoughts of moving and homes and waiting and searching. At times it was stressful. At times, the stress showed. Shane took off Friday to paint our laundry room. It looks lovely.

"Why didn't we do this five years ago?" I wondered.

He filled bare patches in the lawn. Cut grass. Removed weeds. Sweated, unshaven, fixated on finishing. Saturday morning we all scooted out for a morning showing. Upon our return, Shane thought of a million other little things he could be doing and wondered out loud, "It would be nice to take a day off."

And so he did. This lazy Sunday, overcast and rain showers, the four of us lounging ... lunches ... card games ... group hugs ... Erin asked me what the buttons on the phone meant, and I explained each one's function. We both discovered the intercom button, and I called her on the phone from another room. Brownies out of the oven and onto plates with whipped cream. Shane called Erin.

She clicked the talk button and waited. He talked to her, "Who is this?"

"Me."

"What church do you go to?"

"The same one as you," her sweet reply.



Erin and Lanie talking on the phone to each other.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One thousand gifts (931-942)

931. Fluffy pillows.
932. Window blinds.
933. Finished laundry.
934. Thunder storms.
935. A luncheon with David.
936. Poolside with Marshall's mom.
937. Risk taking with Shane.
938. Tears during church service.
939. Chamomile tea.
940. Overcast skies.
941. A yellow sign post.
942. Hope.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dog names

We visited a friend this weekend who has four big dogs. The girls loved it. We've been considering, perhaps, getting a dog depending on where we move. Tonight, we were brainstorming dog names.

I suggested Keurig, after my coffee pot. Why not?

Lanie rattled off a whole bunch of names: Vanilla, Butterscotch, Chocolate.

"I don't know about naming a dog after food," I said. Coffeemaker, yes. Food, no.

Erin suggested some names from her favorite My Little Ponies: Pinkie Pie and Toola Roola.

Toola Roola didn't seem very protective.

"You could name it 'Go Away Dog'," Erin suggested. And we all laughed. Maybe we ought to wait till the kids are just a bit older. Somehow, I think we're still going to get a Muffin or a Sweetie Bell.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Overcast

I always think of my mom on days like today, when the sky is cloudy and the temperatures are cool. There are gentle wind gusts and the trees swing and sway in time. When I was a little girl she told me that it was going to rain when the trees' leaves gleamed white underbellies. I remember telling a teacher in elementary school about how you could tell it would rain and she replied, "That's silly! It's just the wind blowing through the leaves."

Even still, I always thought of my mother in the pre-rain premonition. Always saw the white underbellies. Always wanted to believe.

Mom would also tell me other things: like don't buy shoes first thing in the morning, always clean the stove top when it's still warm, and if you ever burn your finger--touch your ear.

I once burned my finger and held it to my ear, telling a friend, "My mom said to hold a burn to your ear."

"That doesn't make any sense," came the reply.

Poolside on a chilly day, comfortable in a long sleeve shirt, watching Lanie persist in swimming. A neighbor and I made small talk. After a time, he said to no one in particular, "It's going to rain. The leaves are flipped over. Look at the trees!"


"My mom used to tell me that," I said.

And I felt grateful.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Zoom

Yard sale, charity runs, painting and other household jobs. It's been a busy summer. All of it leading up to this week when we'd decide for sure whether or not to list our house to sell. A meeting with an agent, and we decided it's a go. Lock box on the door. Photos taken. Sign post going in the ground tomorrow.

Adrenaline took me off guard after the agent left tonight with signed papers in hand. I looked at Shane, "It's hitting me now." And I cried from the zoom in my veins.

Chamomile tea in a mug. Settling down for tomorrow's reading and writing on 66 Books.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bedtime

Got the girls jammied up, teeth brushed, hugged and kissed at 7:45. Tucked Erin in, bordered with pillows, a stack of her reading books and dolly. Lanie and I read together on the couch. A neighbor lent us Peter and the Starcatchers. We've been covering about a chapter or two at bedtime each night. Peter Pan was always a favorite of mine.

8:05 ... I send Lanie up to bed after reading.
8:10 ... watch Shane clean a spot out of the carpet.
8:19 ... Erin comes into the room to ask for a drink. I put her back in bed. She asks me to cuddle her.

"Ok, but only for a few minutes. I have to get Daddy's lunch packed and take care of a few things."

She wriggles and cuddles and I whisper to the evening, "Thank you, God, for Erin." And I give her nose a kiss.

"Thank you, God, for Rudy (our cat), Mommy, Lanie, Daddy, and Little Bill (our neighbor's hamster)," she says. I smile.

"I have to go in a minute," I tell her. It's 8:29, and it doesn't take long for me to want to sleep in a darkened room lying next to a cuddlebug.

"What if I have a bad dream?"

"Then tell me and I will hold you close," I say. At 8:31, I get out of bed to resume watching Shane's master carpet stain removal skills.

8:32 ... Lanie goes for a potty break.
8:33 ... Erin comes into the room. "I had a bad dream." I take her back to bed with a hug and a kiss and hand her dolly to her.

"Goodnight, Erin."

8:51 ... so far, she's stayed put.

One thousand gifts (921-930)

921. David, and everything about him.
922. Tree canopies, stony walkways, dusky nature noises so loud my ears ring.
923. Cupcakes.
924. Birthdays.
925. A man named Joel--his greasy hands, his eye for detail, his tender heart and honesty.
926. Wild turkeys, foxes and owls.
927. Feathers on the ground.
928. Tomatoes ripening on the vine.
929. An impromptu visit from a new neighbor.
930. A visit with my dad.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sold

A high chair
changing pad
exersaucer
pack-n-play
purple fabric for something I had planned to make ten years ago
the ugly brass sconces with creepy pointy, pokey ends
the coffee table Shane bought back in his bachelor days (I was so relieved to see that go!)
strollers
kids clothes
and a coffee pot. I pocketed $2 on it (I priced things to GO). Shane said, "You sold my coffee pot?" "We have one already." "But that was back up!" Oops. Perhaps a little over zealous.

A doll house
zippie bags with miscellaneous toys
hair color kits
bikes
storage bags.

I have no idea whatever other things went. It was a good yard sale. A dear friend arrived the day before and stayed the night to help set up ... neighbor kids who played and laughed and sang songs ... great weather and lots of traffic.

I wish I had spent more time getting things ready for it. Already, just a weekend later, my legs are sore from lugging things no longer used or needed up the stairs. It feels really good to purge. And I can't believe we had so much stuff.

Monday, August 2, 2010

One thousand gifts (905-920)

905. Potty training, restarted and officially finished.
906. Erin's excitement to wear panties.
907. Kids swinging belly down on the playset.
908. Erin and Lanie, best friends.
909. Lanie in my arms for kisses and tickles and eating her up--watching her heart burst with fullness.
910. Exuberant, rapid-fire kisses from a cuddlebug.
911. A roll of toilet paper.
912. A week of nearly nothing.
913. Library trips.
914. Abundant life.
915. Mature trees.
916. Exploring rooms of an old house and its scent that lingered in my hair long afterwards.
917. Finding my sweet spot in life.
918. Overgrown pathways to a gate.
919. Sunny sunflower with petals pulled back by breeze.
920. Today.