Friday, November 30, 2012

battling entropy

In the screenplay of life, some people would call themselves a Carrie. or a Charlotte.

Me? I want to be a Melanie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stream of Consciousness

The Greeks toast to it. Some say it is the most important thing one can possess.
I am in superb health.
My daughter is not.
My back hurts every once in a while.
I wonder how adversely Western medication is really affecting our bodies.
Do we really need the flu shot?
I've been looking into a more holistic approach to my health.
I've started cooking with bones and garden herbs. No MSG, real sugars.
I went to a chiropractor today and he cracked my back.
He also inferred that manipulation can help with my daughters health problems.
I thought it over.
Then I was looking into some other alternative health stuff.
And I saw this:
Remineralize Your Teeth
which basically states that one can reverse a cavity without having to drill it.
My mother-in-law is a dental hygienist.
I don't think you can heal your cavities, either.
Is Western medicine borne out of the sheer reality that alternative medicines don't work?
I am going back to the chiropractor tomorrow.
Immediately following that appointment is my dentist appointment next door.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nothin' Left to Do But Smile, Smile, Smile

I was in line today at the Starbucks kiosk at Target. I had to mighty fortune to be immediately behind a gent I will call "Conversation Boss." You will see why.

Bewildered Barista: (In the most totally amazing vocal fry) Welcome to Starbucks. May I take your order?
Conversation Boss: Is that a begonia in your hair?
Bewildered Barista: (Fingering said flower and looking embarrassed/confused, using vocal fry again) Umm, no. It's just a flower.
Conversation Boss: Because I saw your flower and it made me think about scarlet begonias which got me thinking about the Grateful Dead. Well, but then again, lots of things get me thinking about the Grateful Dead.
Bewildered Barista: Can I take your order?
Conversation Boss: Yeah. I'll have a medium coffee.
Bewildered Barista: Would you like the Christmas Blend?
Conversation Boss: Oh, I don't give a crap. The way I always see it is that this place...

wait for it...

is the Dairy Queen of coffee.

I give Conversation Boss the As I See It High 5 of the Week for not only ordering a medium in Starbucks (what, what!) but aptly recognizing the 'Bux as the DQ of coffee.

Keep Truckin', Conversation Boss.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I Got Nothin' But Love for You, Baby

From Page 639, Gone With the Wind:

I want you to do something about this horse.  He's stubborn and he's got a mouth as tough as iron. Tires you to drive him, doesn't it? Well, if he chose to bolt, you couldn't possibly stop him. And if you turned over in a ditch, it might kill your baby and you too.  You ought to get the heaviest curb bit you can, or else let me swap him for a gentle horse with a more sensitive mouth.

I love you, do you hear me, Rhett Butler?

Bowl Empty... Heart Full

In the quiet of my house this morning, I found my thankfulness. I had been looking for it all week when I was trying to finish up school, clean my house, get ready for Thanksgiving. We raced and studied, scrubbed and tidied, but my spirit felt like it was in a knot.

This morning, when my husband shuffled the kids off to piano lessons so that I could get in a quiet run, instead I sat down with a bowl of sweet potato casserole and just observed my life.

Here is what I saw:
A husband who said the words "'Til death do us part," and meant it.
My strong body that is capable of bearing and rearing children. My body that craves love, exercise and sweet potatoes.
Children who look to me for wisdom, comfort and stability - yet provide those same rewards to me, everyday.
A house that is good and solid and warm.
Food that nourishes our bodies.
Stuff... tons of stuff.... collected over a decade of birthdays, and Christmases, and bored trips to Target. Stuff that needs to be put away - and will eventually.
Pictures of our loved ones, both alive and deceased, who have prayed for us, fought for us.
Images of my Lord and Savior. The same God sends his Spirit to inform my soul.

I want to be worthy of these gifts. I want to be one who takes these gifts and makes them holy. I want to be a good custodian of this wealth.

Lord hear my prayer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Voice of Ghosts

Tonight my beautiful 6-year old daughter was sitting alone at our kitchen table doing what she loves best: drawing. She is quite an artist and sees the world with eyes that search for beauty. I admire this so much about her because she is able to find loveliness, retain it and then portray it in her drawings. She really is mesmerizing, this girl.

As she worked over her latest piece, she hummed a pretty little tune she heard on the radio this afternoon. A sweet, melodic little song that speaks of love and longing. A piece that is a stark reminder that my life existed before this girl: the song was once dubbed "Our Song" by a former love of mine in a former lifetime. To hear is come from her is like hearing the voice of a ghost.

I won't wax poetic about former love or lives. I have been incredibly fortunate in my relationships but I wish so much that I would have saved those parts of my heart for this life that I love now.

And here is what I will tell my children: stay young while you are young. Have fun, laugh, and make friendships - but guard that part of your heart that is vulnerable. Trust in Our Lord to lead you to a Holy spouse who understands the worth of your heart. Entrust it to only someone worthy of it's value. When you are old enough and have seen enough of this life that you are confident in the purity of one's intentions, then give him your heart without restriction. Love fully and confidently and love will be returned to you one-thousandfold.

My sweet daughter deserves to sing that song without my having to think of anyone but her.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wanna see Peru?

Then check this out:

I love these crazy kids.

It's ON!

Here is what I've done today:

Drank 2 cups of Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Made Pumpkin Bread

Eaten 2 spoonfuls of Marshmallow Fluff

Read It's a Hunt Life

Read Design Mom

Read Hairdresser on Fire

Motivated Josh to do his Book Report

Made smoothie with hidden Vitamins and Probiotics

Let the kids watch too much Noggin

And now we are going to CRUSH this day!! It is on!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bomb Vegan Apple Cider Donuts

I don't bake vegan because I am a vegan. I mean, I respect you vegans out there, but I don't share your passion. No, I bake vegan because my daughter is allergic to milk and eggs - pretty much everything that makes a baked-good delicious. I am on a mission, so to speak. A mission to reinvent buttery, eggy, milky fabulous baked goods into ones which won't make my child die. A noble mission, indeed.

Today's Entry:
Bomb Vegan Apple Cider Donuts
Inspired by Joanna Goddard's Lemon Ricotta Donuts

2 cups White All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Cup Apple Cider
Vegetable Oil for Frying
Powdered Sugar mixed with Cinnamon for Sprinkling

1. Heat Oil in fryer to 350*
2. Sift together Dry Ingredients
3. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in cider.
4. Whisk together until batter resembles pancake batter. (You may need to add 1/4 more flour if it appears too wet.)
5. When oil registers 350* on a candy thermometer, drop batter by offset tablespoons into oil.
6. Do not crowd fryer.
7. Donuts will flip over by themselves (watch! It is actually kinda cute!) but double check to make sure they are brown on both sides.
8. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on a wire rack.
9. Once they are drained and slightly cooled, move to a plate and sprinkle with Cinnamon Powdered Sugar.

As far as allergen free/vegan baked goods go, these are pretty darn good. They taste like a appley-cinnamony version of funnel cake. Except you are not at the State Fair - you are in you cozy little home in the chilly fall.  And they aren't being served to you by a carney. And for those things? You're welcome.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall is Soup Season

Romance. In a Pot.

All I am saying, is if you want to woo your lover, make him this soup. Throw in some Apothic Red, breadsticks and a Caesar salad? That is a baby-making meal, right there.

Minestrone for Your Lover
2 Good Sized Tablespoons of Bacon Fat (See? I am not fooling around.)
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Chopped
2-3 Cloves Minced Garlic
Tons of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
A Meager Sprinkling of Salt (Tiny, I say! You want to taste the sweetness of those veggies.) 
5 Carrots, Peeled and Chopped
5 Stalks of Celery, Chopped
1 Large Zucchini, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Basil
1 Tablespoon Fresh, Minced Rosemary
1 Can Great Northern Beans, Drained and Rinsed
1 Can Kidney Beans, Drained and Rinsed
1 Regular Sized Can (Not the miniature one) Plain Tomato Sauce
1 Cup of Dry Red Wine (The kind you'll drink with the meal. The kind that makes you feel all funny inside. I use Apothic Red.)
4 Cups Beef Broth
3 Water
1/2 Pound Medium Shell Pasta
Grated Parmesan, for sprinkling

1. Cook chopped onion and garlic in bacon fat. Cook until translucent.
2. Grind the pepper into the pot until it looks good and peppery. (Approx. 1 1/2 Tablespoon? Pepper tastes rustic to me. And rustic is hot.)
2. Once the onions and garlic are cooked, add carrots and celery. Cook them in the fat until they are brilliant in color.
3. Add the zucchini last. It takes the least amount of cooking.
4. Add tomato sauce.
5. Add wine.
6. Add rinsed Kidney and Northern Beans.
7. Add Basil and Rosemary and give the whole pot a nice big stir.
8. Add beef broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain simmer for an hour.
9. When it looks kinda like the picture above (all incorporated and reduced and rich) add 3 cups of water* and bring back to a boil.
*If you're anything like me and you like a hearty, stewy soup this step will hurt your heart. Don't worry. It will return to it's previous stewyness soon. 
10. Add Pasta and simmer for about 10 minutes or according to your taste. (I like well done noodles in this jam. Al Dente be damned!)

Nowthen. Ladle this soup into a bowl and sprinkle generously with parmesan. And let it melt for goodness sake! This soup should be accompanied by garlicky breadsticks and Caesar salad with croutons. The lights should be low and you should definitely have a glass of Apothic. The rest? Well, that is up to you.

Ben....... I am your Mother!

Ben: Hey Mommy?
Me: Yes?
Ben: I heard they're making Star Wars 7.
Me: I heard that too. Except it's Disney not George Lucas.
Ben: Right! I just hope they don't mess it up.
Me: You and all the rest of the dorks out there.


Happy Monday.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Walden 2.0

Kill Me - Why don't you?
We went to the woods because we wish to live deliberately. We wish to front only the essential facts of life: Our Lord, our family, our beloved friends, God's miraculous creation and all of it's splendor. We wish to impart it's lessons onto our children and make sure they know what nature has to teach. But, when we got to the woods, all we found were boardwalks and overlooks and rule signs and thousands and thousands of people. And as long as I live, I swear on my honor, that I will never go to Great Falls on the Maryland side again. So that when we die, we will know without doubt, that we have experienced real life and authentic nature and we will not discover that we have indeed not lived.
                                                      ~Sharon Kieffer Steele, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Like a train a mile down the tracks, I felt it coming. It was little things like, "Why are these floors always so dirty?" or my sudden urge to drink chamomile tea. The heralding of anxiety. My frequent companion and always foe.

Anxiety comes in waves for me. Like I mentioned, it starts small and then spirals around on itself turning into something resembling a hurricane. At first it used to frighten me and affect every part of my life.  Now I can identify it - put it in it's proper box - and stash it in the back of my psyche. Until night time.

The only way anxiety affects me now is in my sleep - or lack thereof. My nighttime internal dialogues goes a little something like this, "Ok. You're anxious. Don't worry. Take a Benadryl and read your book. You'll nod off before long." About 10 minutes into my book, my eyes get heavy and I try to sleep. Nothing. And then my mind starts thinking, "Ok. You knew this would happen. Offer it the the Lord. Pray the Rosary and surely you'll be asleep before long." I finish my rosary and then I am alone with my thoughts and my fears. Sleep rarely comes.

This is the tricky part; the part where I can't put my anxiety away and we have to just sit together in the darkness of the night. She says to me, "Tomorrow you'll be exhausted, frustrated with the kids, unmotivated. Tomorrow night will be the same as tonight and the next morning will be even worse. You are going to fail. You won't be enough."

And there they are. My deepest darkest fears. I will fail. Who I am is not enough for this life I love. And for every rational thought I can muster - anxiety wins and sleep betrays.

But here is the thing: I am not enough. I mentioned in this post that I began this blog to deal with my issues and there is one thing that I have learned throughout these years of self examination. GOD is enough. His ways give me the ladder to climb out of the mire of fear. When I know that my Motherhood is my vocation and duty to Him - I know that in the morning I can embrace my children and wrap them in His love.

And then I feel thankful. And THAT is enough.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Little Pink Houses

Today I was having a conversation with a woman with whom I share a lot of friends. I don't know her well, but she comes highly recommended. We were talking about our shared love for both the country and the city. At about the point where I was going to proclaim that the suburbs feel like slow death to me she announced, "But I am so happy to live in the suburbs. The suburbs are perfect."

Sccrrreeeeaaaach..... (that was the arm of the record player scratching across the album.) WHAT?! Why? If one is in love with the city - or the country for that matter - WHY would they consider the 'burbs "perfect?"

She said it is all about balance. For her temperament, she knows that she might follow the temptations of the city, succumb to her charms. Or, conversely, she felt that the country might allow her to be too reclusive and turn inward.



If I could, I would spend all of our discretionary money on food. I love to eat and I love to try new food - Grant couldn't care less. That is good. Eating well is an expensive hobby.

In an effort to "meet in the middle", so to speak, I've been making some pretty good food here on the home front.  Last Friday night I made these:

Hot and Crunchy Chicken Cones

and they were beyond good. I mmmmmmm'd and ahhhhhhhh'd through the whole meal - and Grant squirted Ketchup on the chicken and ate it without fanfare. And that is ok with me.

Then on Sunday night I made my own version of:

Beef Stroganoff

except with meatballs instead of steak. It was really fabulous. Grant said it was "restaurant quality." The kids wouldn't touch it.

So then tonight, I was craving a cake that a friend made for me when I gave birth to Lucy. I researched that cake and came across what sounded like the best recipe. It turned out perfectly.

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

It took 3 hours for the dough to rise but when it was baking Annie had an allergic reaction to all of the butter in the air and needed a breathing treatment. I lost my appetite mid-nebulize.

When all the dishes were put away and the counters wiped, Little Lucy toddled down and said, "I hungwy." I made her a quick butter and jelly toast and sat her in her chair. She took a bite and smiled at me and said, "Mommy, this is the best dinner ever."

(And then I paraded around like a queen for the rest of the night. Because I take my compliments where I can get them.)

Really.  It's all about balance.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Slice of Crap Cake

Grant and I got in an argument the other night. Well, let me rephrase that... I got into an argument with Josh, then Ben, and then I got into an argument with Grant.  And like all good arguments - it was mostly my fault.

I won't give you all of the lame details, but here is the gist: The hormones in this house are making me crazy and I can't seem to keep a level head when my junior highers are acting like junior highers.  "So What?" you're saying to yourself, right? "Everyone gets irritated by junior high kids." Well, I thought I would be different.

And apparently so did Grant.

Like so many things I have been wrong about in my tenure as a parent, preteen hormones seem so obvious. Your kid is acting like an irrational spaz? Send him to his room with a book. Crying all the time? Give them a hug and a journal. Encourage them to write. Take walks. Be honest. Empathize. Encourage music. Don't talk too much. Don't lecture. Don't take things personally. Make them laugh (if you can.) Relate.

Somehow, even though I know all of these things, the fact that I know my son is mentally flipping me off makes me mad. His tirades only stoke my own fires and our interactions become bombastic. WHO IS HE? and more importantly, who am I?

Anymore, I am left pondering both of these questions and for now I don't necessarily know the answers. Contrary to who I thought I was, I am not above freaking out. I do take things personally. I do not want to do "cool" things to make my kids laugh, like preparing cakes that look like litter boxes. I want my kids to learn how to be a level headed adult, but I am not doing a very good job of it myself.

I feel misunderstood. So I guess in some ways, the kids and I are in the same boat, aren't we?

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