Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rainbow

Nothing we have for Lanie from last spring and summer fits her this year. As one friend remarked, Lanie grows like a sunflower. She is so long and lean. So today I took her out shopping for some clothes. She frowned and fussed.

"Can't we do it another day?" she asked.

"No. We're here now," I replied.

The first store, I picked up a cute sky blue top and asked her what she thought of it. More frowns and fussing. On to the next store. Luckily an employee there offered to help and she loaded us up with all kinds of ideas that would be comfortable: Lanie doesn't like anything denim or that buttons around the waist.

A skirt, some tops, a few capris later--and the Godiva Rewards stop for the freebie chocolate--we were on the way home.

I laid out the clothes and suggested matching options for her. She watched. Then I held up the rainbow capris, the ones I disliked as soon as the associate pulled them out, the ones I knew deep down Lanie would love.

"Oh Mom," she said. "I'm so glad you got those for me. I was secretly hoping you would."

She told me she would wear those first, and I smiled.

Monday, April 25, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (1566-1621)

a fiery orange and pink sunset sky at 7:57 p.m.
the evening silhouette of trees
windows open
lunch with a grown-up
purple flower postage stamps

a thank you note
her 87-year-old handwriting
happiness now
the Seder table: the settings, the ambiance, the company
dandelions

the giving away of things
her voice after court
park walks with a friend
enjoying where I am on the way to where I'm going
The Love Revolution by Joyce Meyer

little dirty feet
birds singing outside of my window
coffee in the afternoon
the woman who leads Lanie's church class
peppered olive oil on a white plate

hallel: praise and thanksgiving
kids running across the yard for flying belly swings
$20 lost and found
driveway chats at dusk with a friend
bare feet

brunch with my family
puzzle playing with Erin and my dad
his laugh and tears
egg hiding with Linda
the girls on a hunt

chocolate bunnies consumed
sour patch jelly beans
champagne
asparagus on the grill
the longest visit ever--delightful

the smile in my heart at the sound of doors opening and closing (Lanie searching for a basket)
Easter baskets found in the morning
that $1 coloring books can still be a favorite gift
sister love
colored plastic eggs

halter dress with a pink ribbon
tight squeeze hugs
thunder overhead
cold rain on bare arms
rushing with Shane to gather outdoor cushions

her dance in the foyer
serenaded by a sister's piano playing (O Come All Ye Faithful--in April)
a phone call from Denise
the curly haired little boy at Chik-Fil-A pointing at Shane and making him laugh
missing apples from a bowl

other people's mothers
picture taking
smiles from strangers
peach tree blossoms
that He is who He is and did what He did

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

My sister, dad and his girlfriend came over for Easter. I did a brunch for the first time: spinach and strawberry salad with yummy dressing, Italian brunch bake, mini chicken salad sandwiches with Old Bay seasoning, grilled asparagus, chocolate chip scones, fresh fruit, coffee, juice, sweet iced tea, champagne. And a raspberry lemon cake.

It was a lovely visit, lasting delightfully longer than normal. Windows open. Spring breezes. Warm sunshine. Linda helped me hide eggs: she placed them carefully and intentionally, I threw them around wherever they'd land. Dad helped Erin put together a puzzle, the three of us on the floor.

"What's taking so long with that puzzle?" Shane joked. It was a puzzle where the image changes depending how you hold the piece.

"You should do the borders first," Linda mentioned. But Dad was never one for borders first. He always does the middle, and this time I tried it his way. It's good for the brain.

"I should get you a puzzle every Easter," I said.

"You better hurry up!" he replied. He's seventy-five. I laughed too loudly, surprised by him, and he laughed, and soon we were laughing so hard, he had to get up to wipe his face from the tears. I looked at his thinning white hair, and his smooth skin, his age spotted hands, and the dress shirt he wore (so unlike him to dress up). I was glad to sit on the floor and play puzzles with him and my daughter, to laugh next to him and enjoy this time.

Later, Erin and Lanie petitioned for their chocolate Easter bunnies.

"Just the heads, to taste them," Lanie bargained. I said ok. Erin returned in a bit, saying, "Mommy, I ate the whole thing because I was afraid it would melt."

Stinker.

Yummy salad dressing

1/3 cup sugar (I reduced from original 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar

You can dump all in a processor and pulse a few times to thicken. Or shake to combine. Pour over fresh baby spinach with sliced strawberries. Super good. 

Buckets and baskets and other things

Saturday hunt

Saturday hunt


Saturday hunt
Sunday hunt

Easter
Easter

Sunday hunt
Coloring eggs Easter morning

Peach tree blossom

Trees

the eggs for the Sunday hunt

Lanie

the girls on the Sunday hunt

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Big sister

We attended a really fun Easter egg hunt/brunch today. The rain let up long enough that eggs got scattered and kids set out to find them. Precious. My girls had been looking forward to it all week. Near the end of the brunch, extra treats were handed out in festive baggies: cocoa krispie and marshmallow bird nests, with peeps and malted candy eggs. So crazy cute. (Wishing I had photographed it!)

It was nearly time to go. Suddenly Erin comes running up to me in sobbing tears. I held her close and she cried hard against my neck.

"What's wrong?" I asked over and over. She wouldn't tell me. Just tears.

After she calmed a bit, we went to say our goodbyes to friends since we had to get back home and get Shane to head out for the afternoon. On the walk home, Erin told me one of the really little kids took the rice krispie bird's nest away from her. As we walked, Lanie took her own and put it in Erin's egg bucket. Oh, the smiles, all of us.

Sister love.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hallel

I attended a Passover Seder on Monday. Each guest read from the Haggadah, this “telling” of history, of deliverance from slavery … God makes a way for his people. We took turns reading, and there were songs, and we dipped parsley in salted water. I was sitting at the table with people I loved and people I had just met. Under each plate, the hostess had placed a card with a word written upon it and a question. Through these words under plates, we would all learn about each other. My word was hallel. A brief definition followed: praise, to praise and give thanks to God.

Writing today at 66 Books.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Scones


Once upon a time a friend made the tenderest scones with mini chocolate chips and blueberries. Luckily she shared the recipe with me. I'm wondering how they'd taste with cinnamon chips. But since all I have are mini chocolates, so be it.

Trying my hand at these tomorrow for a friend stopping by in the afternoon, because coffee and tasty treats and talking with people you love make life richer.

Cream Scones

2 cups of flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup of whipping cream
Optional...coarse sugar on top of wedges before baking

Don't over work dough or it gets tough.

You can make two small circles and cut into wedges or one large one to cut into wedges. Up to you how you make/cut them. If you make two smaller balls, you can make two different kinds.

You can cut the wedge open enough to put a couple fresh raspberries inside (frozen will be too wet, only do fresh. Strawberries would be too wet too.). Another good alternative is to fold in some mini chocolate chips or fresh blueberries in dough.                                                                                                                                                                                       
Bake at 425 for about 12 minutes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (1538-1565)

cloud shadows that chase the road
little surprises for Easter baskets
an hour to browse the bookstore

sisters playing happily outside
the greenest grass
brunch menus
a call from my dad
coffee with a neighbor

smiles and hugs in the church lobby
a light heart
mentors
love notes and scripture hidden in the pages of Lanie's next thankful journal
prayer

singing praises in the car with Erin
pizza for lunch
question 16 on the heart health survey
decisions to move on
hope

walking partners
curriculum conventions
running into people from the past (a high school teacher, a former coworker, a woman I met at McDonalds 3 years ago)
textbooks for Lanie
textbooks for Erin

homeschooling
new chapters
dinner with David and Anita for Passover
worship
my husband's fleece jacket

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ranking happiness and moving on

I had a cholesterol screening yesterday. Part of it included a questionnaire about family heart health, histories, other things. And then there was question 16, asking me to rank my happiness. I don't exactly remember the words, but basically it was a one for HAPPY! and a five for NOT HAPPY.

And I had to think.

I know there's part of me that dances for joy somewhere in this heart, and when I think of my life overall I think happy. But I wondered about the tears that spring without notice. When I find that a good 80 percent of my time is full of color and hope and optimism, why was this 20 percent gaining gray? New words entering my daily: Weary. Frustrated. Grouchy. Hurt. Suddenly others joined in: Unforgiving. Angry. Impatient. And a growing pull toward mourning.

I read this in The Love Revolution by Joyce Meyer.
"Of course, at the time it is difficult to see anything good in something so bad, but whatever we can't leave is where we stop, and if we stop we will never know what could have been. God never makes reluctant people move on; we have to decide to move on."

I had read over it once with little notice. But then I lost my place in the book and doubled back, seeing this paragraph for likely the first time. While taken totally out of context, these words hit me so strongly that I almost underlined them in the library book. They were written with no regard to my now, yet they have everything to do with my now.

Throughout the day, my mind went back to question 16 and the answer I shaded in ... that place between happy and not happy. And I asked myself: why would I be unhappy?

The answers, like vapor. 

Whatever we can't leave is where we stop ...

Memories that wound again and still.

And if we stop, we will never know what could have been ...

And I decided. I had to decide--

We have to decide to move on.

to move on.

California Highway Patrol

It was during the 70s and they lived down the street. She barely spoke English but pressed on enough to share the gospel with me. I wonder if she ever considered herself a missionary on American soil? While I can't remember that mother's name, I do remember hanging out with her daughter, watching CHiPs and playing soccer in the back yard.

Writing today at 66 Books.

Monday, April 11, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (1523-1537)

1523. My dad's 75th birthday.
1524. David and Anita over for dinner.
1525. Anita's tender time taking with my children.
1526. Puzzles with Erin.
1527. Sniffly cuddles with a sick one.
1528. Buds on trees.
1529. Book clubs with friends who bring tissues.
1530. Waking up today.
1531. Neat rows cut on the lawn.
1532. Joy's warmth peeking through clouds of a mood.
1533. Mini M&Ms.
1534. Hot showers.
1535. Homemade bread.
1536. Quiet time.
1537. Forever love.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Warrior on the battlefield

Words that spoke to a friend under trial; to another one in the midst of an ugly divorce; and to me in my own prison of thoughts. We all read these words; we related to the tiresome treading to ward off an enemy's triumph. I didn't see sickness or physical foes advancing upon David--at least, not until I read the study notes. With the absence of word cues like Zion or Israel, it was almost as if sitting with a friend over coffee:

"I feel like God is far" ... "These thoughts keep me up at night" ... "I don't know how long I can keep this up" ...

Writing today at 66 Books

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

His story

Erin and I had a busy morning: cookie baking, chicken roasting, Lego building, matchbox car traffic making, and coloring.We were coloring a page she got from church. It was a picture of a group of cartoon people with a verse from Acts about the first church. We colored all over the picture and Erin began to comment, "I colored this guy before." Crayon wagging, she continued. "He was in a picture with a big rock in it. Someone died." She's four. Wag, wag. "Then he came back alive."

"Was it about Jesus and Lazarus?" I asked. Her eyes widened and her smile spread.

"YES! How did you know that?!"

"I know that story too," I said.

And when I think of all the experiences my kids could have at a church, I am glad that they are at a place that does way more than give them some crayons or toys to push around. I am glad that they learn something that will stay with them their whole life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (1511-1522)

1511. fat flakes on the grass
1512. hot coffee
1513. crocheted blanket from 1996
1514. red tulips
1515. a wedding anniversary
1516. a good message (about labels ... so much to think about)
1517. thunder in the distance
1518. lightning
1519. a quiet night
1520. being here
1521. traveling light
1522. peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Losing track of time

Shane and I celebrate twelve years married today. We don't do cards anymore. And we don't do gifts. We've never had a date night (unless you count the time we got a sitter so we could attend a school's open house). Whatever we do is generally with kids in tow, and we are perfectly ok with that.

We gave hugs and happy wishes over coffee this morning, and I actually had to think a minute to figure out: are we on eleven or twelve years? I think he had to think too. It's not a poor reflection of either one of us really. It's a pretty wonderful reflection of where we are, though. Because it's only in the really good things in life that you lose track of time. So if I never remember what year we're on, or he forgets it too, I will consider it the biggest blessing and compliment. That we can lose track of time in each other.

Thankful.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April fool soup

It might sound odd to say I was happy to wake up at 3:30 this morning to go work on my post for 66 Books, because 3:30 is way early in the morning. I had a laugh to myself at the fat flakes falling a second day in a row, after all, this is spring. Most of yesterday the grass was green. Today, it is white blanketed. Chuckle. But the laughter stopped when I turned on the computer and tried to access internet. No go. Downed connection. I unplugged things and plugged them back in. Still, no go. I sat and read the day's reading several times in a book, and really should have pulled up MS Word to start journaling through instead of resorting to plan B: getting comfy on the couch with a blanket and Recovering from Losses in Life by H. Norman Wright. Into chapter five, my eyelids felt heavy, and soon the book was closed on my chest and I was snoozing away.

Recommending a soup recipe that I made tonight. Loved it enough for three bowls for myself--and there is still plenty to go around.

Chicken and rice soup with lemon and eggs
 or 
April fool soup

Approximately 7-8 cups of low sodium chicken stock
4 skinless chicken thighs
1 cup jasmine rice (or brown if you prefer)
a greedy handful of baby carrots, diced
3 eggs
1/2 juicy lemon (feel free to use the whole thing if you like)
optional salt and pepper

In a good size saucepan, heat broth and cook carrots and chicken thighs for about 20 minutes at a medium-heat simmer. Add rice and cook 18 minutes longer. Remove chicken thighs, shred meat, return to pan. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Add lemon juice to eggs and whisk more. As rice time is up, snag one cup of hot broth and slowly whisk into egg mixture till nice and frothy. Then immediately pour frothy egg concoction into the saucepan. Serve it up.

An eight year old will not know that there are eggs or lemon juice in this soup--even though there are subtle hints of this delightful wonder to a palate in the know. She will, however, rave over how much she likes chicken and rice soup and you will feel full of yourself for getting extra protein in her.