Friday, September 28, 2012

good eats, good reads

good reads:

"God is the perfect creator and was completely satisfied in what he had done in creation, He created us to be completely satisfied in Him.  Sin came into the world when we thought something else could offer more satisfaction.  God chose an innocent sacrifice so that we didn’t have to suffer the punishment for what we deserved, gave us a community of people to remind us of this daily because we continue to be deceived that there is some greater satisfaction, and promises one day that He is going to perfect us so that we can understand that He is the ultimate satisfaction!" 
Read that over and over and over and let the goodness just flow over you. Found here

Yes, yes, only Him — and you were the beautiful face that brought me the Good News.” She’s wrinkled and exquisite and what if she hadn’t?
What if she hadn’t?  What if fear had stopped her or reaching out had inconvenienced her or she had had far more important things to do than tell a bunch of straggler neighborhood farm kids about a Carpenter and a Cross and Nails that can fix all the broken down places? 
What if believing meant there’s no way you could stop telling the Good News because it’s more sensational than gossip that parades as news?

A Holy Experience. Ann Voskamp. Subscribe today.

good eats:

Sprouted Kitchen's almond date truffles? Yes, please. Chocolate and almonds are a great match.

oh. em. gee. Joy, you've done it again. Gone and read my pregnancy cravings like you are in my brain! Coke + grilled pepper jack sandwich + chips? Heaven will be made of potato chips and french fries, imho.

(new!) good listens:

Mumford's new album? Yes, yes, yes. I love them. I want to put on kicky boots, a twirly skirt, and dance around the house with my nudey children to this entire album. Buy it. Buuuyyyyy eeeeeet.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

delighting in the monotonous

Sometimes life as a mother (worker, disciple, friend, neighbor, spouse...) can feel monotonous. It can feel like the same thing, over and over, day in and day out.

busy work
relational strain
talking back

I start to think, "Really, God? Why does it feel like Groundhog Day, the same problems, the same sin, the same frustrations that plague me again and again?"

Then I consider my kids, who delight in doing the same exact thing, over and over and over. My son will sit and play with his legos, singing the same lyrics twenty times. My daughter will watch with amazement as her Daddy makes a coin disappear, and because she is desperate to figure it out, she asks "Do it again, Daddy! Again!" 

Why do I struggle with the monotonous when my children delight in it? 

This quote always gets me thinking, so I'm sharing it with you today:

Hope you can find some daisies to admire today. You'll never look at them the same way again. :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

tender mercies

Today I am worried about...

the "severe" state of my colon

prednisone: those little white pills make me a psycho insomniac

remicade: affording the "miracle" drug

the fragility of our little church plant

BUT, today I am thankful for...

friends who run my errands for me so I can stay home and rest

phone calls from friends & family

email offers to help

facebook encouragement

pickles, olives, chips (hello, pregnancy cravings)

pastor of our previous church who dropped off a plant, trader joe's gift card, and card signed by all the pastors who know we're going through some tough times 

A friend listened to the Spirit and sent me this verse, set in the following context: After a night of fishing with nothing to show for it, a bunch of guys sat around in the morning, listening to Jesus teach. Later that day, Jesus encouraged the fishermen to return to the water and let down their nets again. Simon Peter says to his teacher, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." And then, well, that verse above happens. But the disciples leave it all--they walk away from the biggest catch of their lives--to follow the mysterious, beautiful, miraculous rabbi.

At first read, I was like, "Ok, God, what do you want to teach me from this verse?" And this is what I wrote/heard:

God, we are so weary. We've labored so long and so hard but our nets keep coming up empty. Ministry is hard. This health situation is really hard. But I feel like you're telling me that all I need is to continue in obedience, even though it is sometimes with questioning, like Simon Peter. Really, God, put down our nets again?

When we feel like quitting, it is because we are looking for "success" according to some self-imposed measure. We must continue to let down our nets, regardless of the out come.

I heard God say to me, "Are you willing to give it all up (success, health, self-imposed measures, thriving ministry, ideal outcomes)--like the disciples who walked away from the biggest catch of their lives--in order to follow me?"

My answer. "Yes, Lord. Yes."

Then, more from the Lord: "A time is coming when your nets are going to be filled. But that in and of itself won't be nearly so attractive and marvelous as me. When your success is found in Christ and Christ alone, that is where you find true beauty."

So, even in my weakness, my worry, my weariness, 
I'm going to keep putting down my net.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

ideal vs. reality: when life gives you crumbles

This morning was one of those mornings that just called for a special breakfast. Fall makes me think of apple cider donuts so I attempted a batch of almond flour donuts, dipped in my own special concoction of an apple cider-honey reduction and tossed in cinnamon and coconut sugar. An excellent idea, if I do say so myself.

Well, sometimes life gives you donuts and sometimes life gives you donut crumbles. They still taste okay, but man, are they ugly, messy, and difficult.

I hate to reduce our life to donuts, but this morning's breakfast fail was the perfect allegory of our lives these days. Have you experienced this? 

My life is sort of like the "reality" of this morning's batch of almond flour donuts. They aren't exactly the real thing. For starters, they're baked, not fried. They aren't sugar-laden but sweetened with local, raw honey. They fall apart really easily. These donuts sort of resemble the ideal, but ultimately they don't quite measure up.

Our life appears to be crumbling. My health is on the slow decline. Satan is doing everything in his power to discourage, distract and deceive us. As my donuts are crumbling, my kids crying, my kitchen a disaster, and my life a sticky mess, Satan is waving a box of "real" donuts in front of my face. "Doesn't this look better? Don't you want to pass up that healthy, crumbly mess in favor of these beauties?"

Somehow Satan tries to make me believe that the better life, the sweeter life, the "ideal" is something other than I'm experiencing. The donuts in his box look so appealing. They taste good, they look good, they smell so good...

It's a familiar story. The oldest story known, really. In the garden, God had given Adam & Eve every good thing they needed for life. They were blessed in every way. But when Satan came with his trail of deceit, he promised something better, something sweeter, something appealing to the eyes and good for eating. Eve bought into the lie that the "good life," the "ideal," was something outside of the reality she was already a part of.

We know how Eve's story ended up. Real donuts do that to me, too. The sugar and grease tastes SO good for a minute, but then my glucose levels rise and my gut starts to ache. I experience a sugar crash and end up regretting my decision. The plate of crumbling donuts starts to look pretty good. I wish I could go back.

And so I find myself with a crumbling pile of donuts this morning, and a crumbling family, and a crumbling ministry. Yet in it all, I believe that God is good. I know in my heart that what Satan intends for my harm, God will use for his glory. Eve's story didn't end with a half-eaten fruit, shame, pain and agony. What Satan used to crumble the fabric of Eve's family, God put an end to in the person and work of Christ. My story doesn't end with a belly ache and regret. It ends with victory, sweet victory that both tastes good and is good for me.

Lord, would you help me to see past the pile of crumbling donuts, past the dirty dishes filling my sink, the tears in my eyes, the struggle of our week, the hurt of our hearts? Help me to focus on you. Bring about your victory in my body, in my family, in my home, in my church, in my community. The sweet life is right here. It's nowhere else. Help me to see that.

Friday, September 21, 2012

good eats, good reads

good reads:

"She who is always the first one awake pulls a book off the shelf and snuggles up next to me in silence, her nine-year-old lankiness curling up like an infant inside waiting arms. I see hope in her – and I see myself. I kick and I scream and I thrash hard against the Father’s love. I shift my focus and become a prisoner to the panic instead of the promise, and still He says, 'mine.' He looks at me, broken, and calls me daughter and ever so lovingly pulls me right back in."

Have you read Kisses from Katie? Do you follow her blog? Oh my, oh my, oh my. Her writing pulls at my heart and brings tears to my eyes. So good to know there are folks like Katie caring for orphans in places that few feel called to. In the blog post quoted above (Friday the 24th), I could so relate to the feeling of being prisoner to the panic. With so many transitions going on in our lives right now, it is easy to succumb to fear and panic when I should instead be surrendering to joy and peace.

Another of my all-time favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, has a blog. One night, as I lay upon a heating pad, I clicked from page to page, weeping silently with each passing post. I can't even begin to describe her writing. It's like a waterfall of emotion and imagery with each sentence, the kind of writing you want to slow down and savor so as not to miss anything profound. Her prayer for a daughter had me moved beyond words, to a place of silent reflection and nodding agreement.

A good explanation of the problem of grains for people with ulcerative colitis and other auto-immune disorders. A must-read for anyone wanting to understand why folks like me limit their diet so significantly. It's worth the sacrifice.

good eats:

If I were eating cake right now, I would totally be making smitten kitchen's apple spice birthday cake! It sounds like a big delicious slice of Fall. By the way, her first cookbook comes out next month and she'll be touring through SF Sunday, November 4th at 2:00. Signing plus demonstration. Anyone want to come along???

My attempt at shutterbean's vegetable lentil soup made it in the bylines of her blog today. Hooray! I love that feature on her Friday posts and it's led me to some new fun friends. If you've never clicked over to shutterbean, today's the day to do it. The girl has AMAZING recipes all week long.

I must be pregnant. Look at these recipes I'm recommending. Fried guacamole? People, do it for the pregnant girl on a strict diet. Make these cakes and crazy fried treats. Enjoy them. Savor each crispy sweet salty moment and then relay it back to me. Okay, don't actually tell me how good they are.

Happy Friday, dear readers! Have a super weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

here, near, far (like Africa far!)

At church we are launching a new vision called Here, Near and Far. The idea is based on Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Cool verse! Basically, Jesus is saying, I'm giving you my Spirit power to take the good news of the gospel here (Jerusalem), near (Judea & Samaria), and far (ends of the earth!). At Soma SRV, we feel called to be part of a church-planting movement that supports ministry here in Danville, near in the San Francisco/Bay Area, and Far (to the ends of the earth)! How exciting! 

So, near and far...some friends of mine are totally putting this into practice. In supporting them, I'm supporting the mission both near (San Mateo) and far (Sudan).

Several posts ago I mentioned Kim and Jess. These two lovely ladies are part of a church plant (holla!) named Hope Church in San Mateo. You can read all about the Hope for Sudan news and also answers to prayer here. Basically, a trip to Sudan forever changed a pastor's heart. He came back and with his church organized a mission to raise $25,000 to help feed the poor, starving, malnourished and mistreated refugees near the border. 

I noticed on Jess' instagram that they were starting a 24-hour prayer chain for the guys that they sent to Sudan. I volunteered to take a 15 minute slot (not that much of a sacrifice, considering my time is 10:30).

How can you help? Pray. Give. Educate yourself. Pray some more. Just this week I was lamenting my colitis. I've been pretty sick. But you know what? Three of these precious Sudanese refugee children, beloved by God, will DIE of DIARRHEA today. I am not going to die of diarrhea. I have plenty of nutritious food, knowledgable doctors, access to the best medical care in the world, and resources to pay for it. 

The Sudanese refugees have us. You and me. Consider how you might help.


baby #3: three months pregnant

Dear Little One,

Well, we made it through the first trimester. Phew! That was a doozy. Since my last update, it's basically been four weeks of feeling awful. The hormone surge from weeks six through eleven (or so) made for some raging pregnancy symptoms and exacerbated colitis symptoms. I felt so, so sick. There were several days when I really feared for my health and for yours. My doctors were talking about putting me back on the dreaded prednisone. But, praise God, my body seems to be pulling out of the worst of it. I'm nowhere near where I'd like to be, but I'm up and about and feeing much better!

So, symptoms: I start and finish most days with a headache. Nausea (still no barfing, but several close calls that involved spitting over and over into the kitchen sink). Insomnia, wakefulness, tossing & turning at night, multiple bathroom trips. Bleeding gums. Heartburn. Thankful for my tea sampler that provides almost immediate relief in the case of horrible nausea (ginger-mint tea) or heartburn (mint-chamomile). Also, I'd like to take a moment to thank my extensive pregnancy supporting cast: bananas, ginger ale, homemade soup, smartwater, hot baths, steamy showers, heating pad, & nap time.

I now sport a little baby bump. Your big sister is on bump patrol and every day reports that the belly is getting bigger! We marvel over your growing size (like a lime of the length of my pinky!) and wonder what you're up to in there. It amazes me that you can be so big yet I don't yet feel you! Looking forward to that in the next few months. :)

I've spent more time than I care to admit watching birth videos on youtube. I'm sort of obsessed. The miracle of birth will forever be something that amazes and delights me. It doesn't scare me at all! Hoping that you come quickly and easily like your older brother. Looking forward to meeting you, learning whether you'll have a full head of hair like your siblings, and delighting in the newborn days.

On Friday I got to hear your heartbeat again, a steady 160 beats per minute (which, if you follow old wives tales, points more toward a girl). Music to my ears! Good to know you are growing away in there, strong heart and developing body. Until next time, sweet baby.

Much Love,


Monday, September 17, 2012

Grain-Free Goodness: Vegetable Lentil Soup

It's not exactly Fall temperatures here in the Bay Area, but my tummy troubles have called for many a pot of soup. I was tired of the plain-old chicken soup and started scouring the internet for a yummy-sounding lentil soup. I wasn't the least big surprised to find one that sounded positively scrumptious over at shutterbean. That girl speaks my language when it comes to food.

I made a few adjustments, based on what I had around. I find that adding a parmesan rind to pretty much any soup imparts the most deep and deliciously nutty flavor. Our Costco is carrying duck right now and after the hubster made the most amazing smoked duck (salty, sweet, and tender), I used the carcass to make duck broth. Pretty much one of the best soups I've ever made with that super combination. (You could easily substitute chicken or vegetable broth in place of the rich duck broth).

Vegetable Lentil Soup
recipe slightly adapted from Shutterbean, who adapted it from this book

serves 8-10

4 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
5 carrots, chopped
5 celery stocks, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 small tomatoes, chopped
2 TBS tomato paste
2 cups lentils
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
9 cups duck broth (made just like chicken but with a duck carcass)
6 cups water
parmesan rind
glug of red wine
freshly grated parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add tomatoes and paste and cook a minute more.

Add lentils, thyme, bay leaf, pepper, broth, water, and parmesan rind. Bring pot contents to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender. (Be sure to skim foam off top of soup as the lentils cook).

Salt to taste. Stir in a glug of red wine. Top with freshly grated parmesan. 

Serve with parmesan cheese & garlic toasts, if desired.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Waffles with (Brown Butter) Peaches & (Coconut) Cream

I have waffles and pancakes at least twice a week. I find it easy and convenient to make a big batch of  batter that lasts me several breakfasts. Sauteed apples are awesome, but when you have waffles so often, it's kind of nice to switch it up from time to time. 

Butter is one of those things that is awesome by itself, and even better browned. It takes on a nutty, caramelized flavor and enhances whatever happens to be tossed in it. Right now we have an abundance of super ripe peaches and nectarines, so that was what I experimented with this morning.

Experimentation works out sometimes; sometimes not. This is one of those happy combinations that totally made my day. Peeled and sliced peaches and nectarines are tossed in browned butter until soft and melty. A quick drizzle of raw honey sweetens and a squeeze of meyer lemon gives a brightness to this sunny breakfast treat.

The crowning glory on this dish: coconut cream. As I was snapping pictures, the pile of cream melting and oozing over the peaches and down onto the plate, I decided I'd taken enough. Time to eat. (My next experiment? Peaches and Cream coconut milk ice cream.)

Waffles with Brown Butter Peaches & Coconut Cream
serves 4

1 TBS unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the waffle iron
2 large peaches or nectarines, or a combination, peeled and sliced
raw honey
half a meyer lemon
coconut cream (harvested from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream)

Preheat your waffle iron. 

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown, until caramel-colored and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes (watch carefully, you don't want it to get too dark!) Add sliced peaches to butter and allow to cook until soft and fragrant, 3-4 minutes more.

Squeeze honey over peaches to taste (won't need much if your fruit is super ripe). Squeeze meyer lemon half over peaches and sauté a minute more. Remove from heat.

Cook waffles according to directions. Top with sautéed peaches and a dollop of coconut cream. Eat immediately (take pictures another day).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Maddie: 68 Months

Dear Madeleine Noelle,

How do I begin your monthly letter when it feels like you've done a year's worth of growing up since my last update? In a few weeks, you've changed dramatically. I write this downstairs, in the morning, as you brush your hair in front of the upstairs mirror, commenting to anyone and no one, "my hair is so straight, and so nice, and so smooth. It's so easy to get the tangles out!" Next you'll get dressed on your own, in an outfit of your choosing. In a few short hours you'll be skipping into your K classroom, making eye contact until the last possible minute, smiling and blowing kisses. Then I'll watch you as long as I can, your tote bag swinging, bob bouncing.

I was sure I'd cry that first day of K, but I didn't at all. Much like my wedding day, the incredible joy, excitement and anticipation of the day left no room for tears. I was happy beyond words. It was one of my all-time favorite days.

The tears come now, weeks later, when I'm by myself and marveling at all you've become in 5 1/2 years: this spunky, confident, curious, compassionate, brave, incredible girl. We couldn't be more excited about who you are right now, nor more confident in who God is shaping you to be. You're more wonderful and complex than I ever could have imagined, years ago, rocking in your nursery, hugging my swollen belly that contained all you would someday be.

with your cousin Russell in Carmel Valley

Not that it's been an easy transition. You are complex and sensitive, and therefore transitions are tough. There were a few major meltdowns that first week, times when I could do nothing more than hold you, kiss your face, wipe your tears, and remind you of who you are. It was all I could do to repeat over and over the truth of who God has created you to be and the value you have as his beloved child. At times the truth doesn't stick, but then there are other moments when it's clear you've been listening.

Case in point: earlier this month, we were headed to a playdate when Sam started to worry. He was processing out loud that some older boys tell him he's "not a big boy," and it was clear that he was feeling anxious. Maddie chimed right in, "Sam," she said with compassion, "it's not what others say about you that matters. You know why? Because God loves you! He loves you so much he sent Jesus to die on the cross for you. He forgives all your sins! What matters most is that God loves you, not what other people say about you." As my daughter spoke the truth of God is Glorious to my son, my eyes filled with happy tears. There is honestly no joy like the joy of hearing your child speak gospel truth with love, with conviction, and with compassion. In just a few short sentences, I witnessed the truth of the goodness of Christ wash over Sam as he trusted the words of his big sister. So, so good.

I continue to pray, each and every day, that you would know your exceeding worth and value in the person and work of Christ. It is my hope that you will have confidence and grace in your uniqueness, that you will see and appreciate the worth of each person you meet, that you will extend your classic Maddie grace and compassion in a way that reflects the goodness and truth of the gospel. I know that none of this is easy, by any means, but through the work of Christ it is indeed possible!

I love you, my darling and delightful Kindergartner.

Much Love,


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11: sending my heart to Kindergarten

Today I'm thinking about love, loss, grief and transition. September 11th will always be a day to pause, to remember, to grieve, and to hug your loved ones just a little bit tighter. I imagine in the moments right before their deaths, hundreds upon hundreds of folks were not thinking about working more, making more money, or traveling to far-off places. Those heroes and victims and citizens were picturing their loved ones, recalling their fondest memories, and sending their hearts to their families, a loving farewell in the midst of great chaos.

In the weeks leading up to today, our little family has been experiencing quite a bit of our own grief. There is a spiritual battle waging around our family, our home, and our ministry. We are weary, sick, sad, and yet hopeful. As a dear friend envisioned as he prayed for us, we are in the very eye of a storm, with only our wooden boat between us and the raging sea. 

My sweet, darling girl has each morning cried at the very thought of leaving for school. She has sobbed and begged to stay home. I've listened, and empathized, yet remained matter-of-fact. I've guided her, gently at times, pushing at others, toward the line-up into her classroom. Almost every morning she complains of a stomachache. My own gut is wrenched with anxiety and confusion as I wonder whether I'm doing the right thing, the right way.

I've tried everything to make this transition easier. We've celebrated, empathized and cried together. I've sent love notes in her lunch and sent prayers up constantly on her behalf. I've sat in frustration with her as she's wondered why God doesn't comfort her when she's away. Yesterday she asked to take her stuffed frog to school; we compromised with a small brown bear that used to be mine, that fit in her pocket. Nothing has worked. Each morning is as difficult as the one before.

Finally, today, I had one last idea. Several years ago a good friend and mentor gave me a heart necklace as a parting gift when I moved away. This morning I fastened it around Maddie's neck, tucked it down under her dress, and pressed it against her heart. 

"Maddie," I said, "today I'm sending my heart with you to Kindergarten. Anytime you feel sad or lonely or afraid, I want you to press this heart against your heart and remember that my Mama Love goes with you always. This necklace will just be a physical reminder of the truth that my love is always with you. And even better, God's mighty, powerful love is always with you." 

Daddy said a prayer for her day, and off we went to school. 

No tears.

An easy transition from the car, to the line, to the classroom.

No looking back. No wiping tears. No clinging to my leg.

My original thoughts on 9/11 still stand: "Death will always be a part of life; grief will forever be a reality...and healing will always be possible."

How, you may ask, is healing possible in the midst of such horrible grief and pain?
You may recall the vision of our friend who prayed for us...the second part of the story is he saw not only our boat in the middle of the storm; he saw Jesus himself manning the sails, tying down ropes, lightening the load, all in an effort to keep us as safe as possible in the midst of the mighty storm. As he worked, he sang a song of love over us. He was focused and serious, realizing the extent of the storm raging about, yet he was

The prayer I pray for Maddie each day this year is the same that brings me solace in the storm:

"The Lord your God is with you; he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you; he will quiet you with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing."

Today I'm sending my heart not only to Kindergarten, but to all those who are weathering storms of their own. May you feel the Mighty God with you, battening down the hatches, securing the sails, and whistling a tune of joyful delight.

Monday, September 10, 2012

a mug swappin' we will go

Several weeks ago I made a new friend. Well, many new friends, actually. All of them super bloggers, fun women with big hearts who happen to be friends with Mel.

Right after I started following Kim's blog, A Cuppa Kim, I read about her annual Mug Swap. You know those crazy old panty exchange/mail thingies? Well, this is nothing like that. :) Thank goodness. Those things were crazy pyramid schemes at their worst. The Mug Swap was simple, fun and full of joy. You sign up for the swap, get a name to send a mug to, and then receive a mug yourself. How fun is that? 

I shopped at Anthro, my go-to place for cute mugs, journals, and gifts. They have the cah-utest mugs in bright, happy colors. I sent a mug to the lovely Jessica over at Keeping up with the Johnsons. A perfect partner for me: she's a mom of two, church planter with a HUGE heart for people. Here's a shot of the package I sent her:

I was lucky to receive a mug from Ellen over at Just a Work in Progress. Teacher, traveler, lover of Jesus--need I say more? She had a cute little birdie theme going in her package of abundant love:

Being a newbie to the mug swap, I had no idea the generosity of fellow swappers. Ladies were including handmade items, hand-penned art, crafts, goodies, mug cozies. It was so fun to watch the instagram group pile up with photos day after day. I just sent Jessica a mug and my recipe for homemade chai. Next year I'll know to stick in extra goodies. :)

Thanks, Kim, for a super duper fun mug-swappin' adventure. Can't wait for next year! 

What kind of swap would interest you?

Linking up over at A Cuppa Kim!!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Happy Happy Pancake Stacks

This, my friends, is what I ate for breakfast this morning. And it made me so very happy happy!

It's nothing new or fancy, just my usual waffle/pancake recipe, made into dollar-sized pancakes and stacked as high as I possibly could without the whole thing toppling over. Add in some thick coconut cream and seasonal berries, and well, it's just happy happy.

See my notes on making pancakes here. Happy Sabbath, dear readers!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Sam: 42 Months (3 1/2!)

Hey Little Buddy,

You're halfway through your third year! Hooray; and oh no! Half years are notoriously difficult; ask any mom. When you've made it six months past a birthday, it's as if all your internal working elements are spinning out of orbit. You're off balance, wonky, teetering in place. My mostly sweet and obedient boy changed almost overnight into a defiant man-child with a mind of his own.

(you're kind of a monkey; and yes, I know that is an ape)

There were several days this month where you spent a good portion of the day in time out. This does not work out well for either of us. A non-comprehensive tally of naughty things accomplished in one short month: you spit out peach juice and chewed-up bits all over Kelly's beautiful white kitchen. You hit friends with a plastic pirate sword. You removed your sister's fish from its tank, placed it in a toy bin, and covered it with books (Paz survived, much to everyone's relief and great surprise). You pooped in the backyard, then picked it up and added it to the compost. You had "BIG pee-pees" many times (AKA not paying attention and dousing the bathroom with your spray). 

There was the time you pooped on the floor when a babysitter was in charge of you plus four other kids. The neighbor's dog proceeded to eat your poop and then barf it up later on its own rug. A small incident turned into a story that has circulated the neighborhood with much laughter and shaking of heads. This is typical Sam: wherever you go, you leave a wake of laughter mixed with disbelief behind you.

Sam-Sam! I am praying for a uneventful 42nd month of life! Reading that short list has me exhausted and bemused. I can't believe that one little person can create such chaos!

One early morning last week we discovered Transformers: Rescue Bots on the TV. If any show could be a more perfect mashup of your all-time top interests, I couldn't imagine it. Robot (aliens) that turn into rescue heroes. You were SO excited! Maddie didn't share your excitement but we all appreciated the show that fit you like a glove.

Along with the naughties there were many sweet moments this month. When you talk about the new baby, it is with tenderness and excitement. You asked one morning if the baby could sleep with you in your bed, all night. When I laughed you looked at me with those big eyes, totally serious, and repeated your request. You really do want to snuggle this little baby through the night. If only it were so simple, I would grant your sweet little desire! 

Here's to another month, you sweet & naughty boy! May it bring oodles of joy, less time in the time out spot, and the sounds of laughter (and fire engine sounds) echoing throughout the house. I love you, my sweet 3 1/2 year old boy.



Wednesday, September 05, 2012

1st Day in the Blue Room at Preschool

Today we sent Sam off to preschool! Yay for another year at CPP! But this year Sam gets to go three days a week to the Blue Room. Of course, the usual shots before school:


best attempt at a close-up (someone was VERY excited):

big sister love: 

a little comparison shot. yipes.

 Last year, at 2 1/2, Sam started in the purple room with Mrs. Sims. This year, at 3 1/2, Sam is off to party with Mrs. Toth & her wonderful crew.

 And one in the classroom, as Sam wasted no time getting down to business:

Day one: no accidents! Praise Jesus! 

We're so proud of our little buddy! Happy back-to-school, Sam-Sam!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

My 601st Post: Randomness

So I meant to make note of my 600th post, but lost track! So today we're celebrating the 601st. Lucky us!

Well, we made it through the first week of Kindergarten. It was pretty smooth until yesterday. After picking up Maddie from school, she was really sassy and disrespectful when I tried to find out about her day at school. After a few tries, I eventually said that typical Mom phrase: "Maddie, if you can't say anything nice right now then maybe it's best to be quiet until you can get a hold of your words." Then, tears. A bucketful. Streaming, pouring tears. 

"Mom, I missed you ALL DAY! I hate Kindergarten! I never want to go back! The teachers are mean and nasty!! The other kids are mean and nasty! I want to be homeschooled! I want to go back to preschool! Don't make me go back!!!!" Etc., etc., etc.

After an hour and a half of crying escalating to anger escalating to a screaming fit (including ripping up and throwing away her school projects), eventually she crawled into my arms, settled down, and fell asleep for a long two-hour nap. Poor, sweet, exhausted girl.

I've been anticipating this meltdown all week. I knew it was coming. Transitions are exceptionally difficult for my sensitive girl. By the grace of God, I've come to expect difficult transitions. They no longer surprise me. I'm quicker to extend grace, love and compassion and less likely to get frustrated or lose my cool in the midst of the storm.

Later, when Maddie had calmed down, we were able to remind her how difficult transitions are. We talked about how hard it was at this same point last year when she started Pre-K. The switch from Summer to five days of school turned my confident, happy girl into a clingy, crying mess. I had to peel her off my leg one day at dropoff and I walked away crying tears of hurt for my girl. Ben shared with Maddie his own tears and fears the first week of Kindergarten. We told her it is okay to have mixed feelings and fears about new stages. We held her. We kissed her. And then we went out to fro yo to celebrate finishing her first week. 

Celebrating transitions, whether smooth or rough, is so important.


Um, speaking of transitions, can you even believe that I'm going to do this again?

Look at my babies (Maddie on top, Sam on bottom)! So tiny and sweet and pink and fuzzy. Oh my. Yes, looking at these, I think I can do this again. They are so delicious.


I haven't cooked a meal in so long. Hence no grain-free goodness or Sunday Brunch episodes here on the blog. Sorry! Hoping as I feel better and gain more energy, I'll be back in cooking-photographing-recipe sharing mode. For now, rest assured that I'm enjoying lots and lots of homemade chicken or vegetable soup.


I'm enjoying a cup of coffee for the first time in seven weeks. With all my pregnancies, basically the second I was with child, the smell, taste and even the thought of coffee made me feel like barfing (or actually made me barf).

But last night's sleep = no so bueno. Coffee was mucho necessito this morning. Maddie had a major meltdown and wouldn't go to sleep until 9. Then I had to lay with Sam until he fell asleep because he was crying. I went to bed at 10. Sam came in at 1:45 after having bad dreams, I got him settled in a sleeping bag on our floor, and then I was awake for about an hour and a half after. Maddie came in at 4:30 with a belly ache and refused to sleep on the floor, climbing in by me, tossing and turning, keeping me awake for about an hour after that. Sam climbed in to join us at 6 and I left to go to his bed. He followed me, tossed and turned for a good 45 minutes. Eventually we fell back asleep until 7:15, when Maddie came in to "snuggle" (read = talk my ears off while I muttered monosyllabic answers). The two left about 7:45 and I managed to eke out another half hour of sleep. Sigh.


To end on a happy note, today is the first day in three weeks that I'll attend Sunday services. Sick Mama, sick kids, etc. made for a long break from worship. Can't wait to sing praise songs, spend time with my church family, and reconnect with everyone. So good.

Happy Sabbath! May it be a day of rest for us all.