Friday, April 29, 2011

Move Over, Will and Kate...

...there's a new fairy tale moving in!

All my love and congrats to the newly engaged Chase and Holly!!!

"Once in a while, in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale."
~author unknown.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Early Mother's Day Gift

Yesterday brought a sweet moment from this sweet daughter.  A sweet moment I needed.  I love this girl so much, and am so thankful for the time I have with her.  And, yes, I realize she is pretty much as tall as me.  Please don't dwell on that.  My heart can hardly take it.

In one of her classes, she has been working on a Mother's Day poem.  Last night they invited the kids and their moms to a "Poetry Celebration".  Brenna read me her poem and we munched on a chocolate chip cookie.  Although I'm not sure what "unwinding love" means, I got all misty-eyed.  Here's why:


I see a beautiful woman
Dark brown hair
Green eyes
That sparkle like stars
A soft gentle smile that greets me every day
Your unwinding and passionate love for me
Mom, you're beautiful

I hear you, Mom,
The happy cheers
When the Seahawks or mariners score
The way you let me know,
"I love you"
Simple words, yet a strong meaning
I love you too Mom.

Your warm and gentle hug
Before school
The soft velvet of your pretty
Pink robe is gentle to my touch
This always starts me off in a good mood
Stressful days come and go
It is always nice to know
That someone loves and cares for me
Mom, you're amazing!

The sweet smell of chocolate chips,
And fresh clean laundry
The relaxing, lavender
Smell of your perfume
Like fresh pin roses
Wafting through the spring air
You're the best Mom anyone could ask for

Creations of tasty wonder
Mix perfectly with your touch
You cook as easily
as a bird launches into flight
The juicy tender chicken
And delicious, creamy pastas
That you have so
Graciously prepared for me

Your courage and persistence
Has led me through
All of my years
You are always there to wipe away my tears
Thanks for setting good examples
That has let me grow strong
I am and always will be
Your daughter
This is why I would like to say
No one else could ever deserve a better Mother's day


Monday, April 25, 2011

This Is Your Three Month Warning!

Help is coming!!!  I mean The Help, as in the movie, is coming in August!  This is one of my all-time favorite books, and the whole time I read it, I just knew it would have to be a movie.

And it's coming in August!!! 

I cannot wait for this.  But if you haven't read the book, you must.  You have just over three months, and you must read it before you see the movie.  You'll laugh.  You may even cry.  But I'm pretty confident you'll love it. 

And if you want to go see the trailer, go here.  I couldn't figure out quickly how to get that video on here, and my IT consultant is at the pool.  Slacking again.

Multitudes On Monday ~ Easter

My heart has been full to overflowing with a deep gratitude these last few days.  And it's all so very simple, yet deeply profound.  Sometimes I just can't wrap my brain around it.  Is that even possible for us?  Probably not fully.  But I can wrap my heart around it.  And I do.

344.  The cross.
345.  The empty tomb.
346.  The invitation.
347.  The acceptance.
348.  Forgiveness.
349.  Love given, love received.
350.  Heaven.
351.  Eternity.

On the outside, seemingly broad thanks.  In my heart, they are pointedly specific.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Last night was a great service to reflect on Good Friday, and the whole set-up for why Easter is such a powerful celebration.  Without Friday, Sunday would never happen.  Without Sunday, Friday would have been just another death.  But put the two together and it's powerful. 

I hope you feel that power in your life.  I hope you stop in your heart and mind and pause enough to embrace what Easter means.  And have a lot of joy in your heart this weekend, because LIFE wins!

Happy Easter!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

There Truly Is Something For Everyone

Oh, this precious girl of mine.  I love her dearly.  I really do.  She has this zest for life and this insatiable curiosity that leads her to be intrigued with most everything.  From babyhood, her curiosity has been bountiful.  From todddlerhood, she would spot the tiniest of little buggy things and find a way to catch and hold it.  Before the age of two, she could catch a fly with her fingers.  Kind of like the Karate Kid with chop sticks, but her fingers were her chopsticks.  And she'd hold that fly so close that her eyes would start to cross, trying to study each tiny detail.

So, you can probably imagine her absolute delight at the anticipation of her project at school today.  Today was the day to dissect owl pellets.  Translation:  dig through dried owl poop to pick out the bones of whatever the owl had eaten.

Ew.  It physically makes me get that shudder and shiver just to type all that.  But Beth?  Delighted.  De.  Light. Ed.

She found two skulls.  One with a tooth attached.  And ribs.  And pretty much a complete skeleton.  And she was thrilled.

These things don't interest me in the least.  I know that owls eat mice and stuff.  I know that mice and stuff have bones.  I have no desire to see them.  I get absolutely zero thrill of discovery at that.  But Beth?  Ooooh.  She carefully wrapped them up in a paper towel and brought them home so we could all enjoy it.

How wonderful.

So if I have to get to enjoy these, then I thought it would be good to share them.  And, in all truth, things that thrill my kids have a way of making me happy.  Well, happy that they are happy.  Not happy to look at skulls.  Especially skulls that have been picked out of owl poop.  Or "dissected from an owl pellet", I should say.

And one final note on this baby girl.  When I picked her up today, she said that for some reason her eyes were all red and puffy and itchy.  I think that some reason has something to do with the rain finally taking a break.  And now we have that beautiful sunshine.  Hello, allergies.  Welcome back.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

I am all over the place today in my thanks.  Last week flew by so quickly, and this weekend was so very short, and now it's Monday again??  Amazing how that happens.  And this week has set itself up to be just as packed.  Truly, in the midst of everything, even the tough things, life is good!  So onward I go, listing a sampling of the gifts:

328.  A forecast for rain that proves to be wrong!
329.  A long run with my favorite son.
330.  A slight mist at mile 8.
331.  Skating to "YMCA" with my daughter.  (In the same rented skates I wore as a child!)
332.  A new supply of grace to give when I didn't feel it in there.
333.  Eating some cake...right off the plate...not even bothering to cut a slice.
334.  My dog rolling on his back in the sun.
335.  Breakfast with just my man.
336.  Countdowns.
337.  Getting it all done in a day that you thought you couldn't get it all done.
338.  Left-overs that last all weekend.
339.  Cherry trees all in full bloom.
340.  The smell of freshly spread beauty bark.
341.  The sound of lawn mowers in the neighborhood.
342.  The way the flowers and trees defiantly grow, knowing it's Spring even with our wacky weather.
343.  A gentle answer when I deserved a harsh word.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So Many Discoveries In A Very Short Weekend

This weekend is ending way too soon.  That's the biggest bummer about weekends that require Brad to work.  They just go by and I realize we are starting a new week and it doesn't feel like there has been a weekend.  Twice this month.  Boo to that.

But despite how short the weekend was, it has been ripe with opportunities to make some very memorable discoveries.  Hopefully memorable for those needing to remember.

So I give you, in no particular order, our discoveries:

1.  If you paint your fingernails bright pink, and before they are dry you open the door of your daddy's white car, you just may leave behind pink smears all over the shiny white paint.

And if you manage to do that, you will also see the tremendous love of a daddy who, without a word, will get out his "stuff" and make all that pink disappear.

2.  If you try to make scrambled eggs in a non non-stick pan (is that called a stick pan?) without spraying non-stick spray, and then you set your burner on high, there will be a dark brown crust that sticks mightily to the bottom of the pan.

And if you manage to do that, you will also see the work that it takes to get a pan clean.

3.  If you have mascara on that is not waterproof, you will cry black tears.

4.  If you open your cabinet door and your very favorite Starbucks double-wall insulated iced beverage cup comes toppling out and lands on your tile counter top, you just may have the opportunity to see that the "double wall" is essentially a smaller cup inside a larger cup.  And you also may see that when the rim chips, the lid will no longer screw on properly.  And you then see what happens when a cup you love dearly and use nearly everyday is no longer available to you.  Sadness. 

5.  If you go to Skateland with a rink full of Girl Scouts, amidst the same hardwood that has been there forever, the same globe lights, the same carpet, the same skates! and some of the same music, you just may find yourself powerless to resist zooming around the rink while throwing your hands in the air as you sing "Y-M-C-A".  And the hokey-pokey???  Just as much fun as it's always been.

6.  If you run 11 miles, then eat, shower and then go roller skating for 2 hours, you just may be a bit loony.  And your knees just may get very, very angry with you and wake you up at 3:00 in the morning to let you know they are not happy.

7.  If you go into your Target store and it is in the midst of a major remodel, you just may get very disoriented and realize anew what an extreme creature of habit you are.  And you just may discover that having to go to the baby department to find the cleaning supplies can make you a bit cranky.

And now it is time to get prepping for tomorrow.  A new week is about to begin...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ Just Doing It

I am going to stay brief today, this Monday that cracks the whip back into the routine of work and school. 

Here's what I'm finding myself saying a lot lately:  Just do it.  Kinda like a Nike ad.  I find myself saying that in one form or another to my three.  I try to make it sound a little more positive and motivational and encouraging, but the bottom line is the same.  Just do it.  I find myself saying that to myself a lot lately.  The whole idea that the first step is the hardest is sometimes true, but sometimes not.  Sometimes the 2nd, 3rd, 57th or 10,000th step is just as hard as the 1st.  I'm doing it anyway.  And sometimes I want to say it to people I can't say it to.  I won't, but I hope they just do it.

Don't feel like responding kindly?  Just do it anyway.
Don't feel like taking responsibility?  Just do it anyway.
Don't feel like getting started on something you need to do?  Just do it.
Don't feel like doing again what you just did yesterday?  Do it anyway.
Don't feel like doing (         )?  Just do it anyway.

And I really believe that this whole approach to counting the gifts of gratitude helps motivate to just doing it.  Thoughts are brighter, vision is clearer.  There is less room for "but....".

314.  A sunny day in tucked in the middle of sogginess.
315.  Ah!  This is the room number of my first dorm room.  I'm thankful for the time there so long ago.
316.  Clear sinuses.
317.  Cough-free nights.
318.  Applesauce.
319.  Runs that make me feel like I can do it.  Finally.
320.  Beautiful pictures of cookies.  Pictures that make you think you could lick the page and taste it.
321.  That never, ever will I be done learning and growing.
322.  Freshly-cut grass.
323.  The bright, bright green of the grass, thanks in part to all our rain.
324.  How weeds so eagerly pull from the dirt after days and days of natural watering.
325.  Listening to music rehearsals for Good Friday and getting goose bumps.
326.  Old hymns.
327.  Sitting still in absolute, total quiet.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Crushed Pills and Applesauce??

Oh, my goodness!  The SUN came out today!  Now I love the rain.  I truly do.  I would not live here if I had issues with our weather.  I love it.  But these last few weeks have even me feeling blue over our lack of blue in the sky.  And that hail storm that coated all the streets in a white layer that looked like January?  Literally brought a tear to my eye.  I felt insulted.  Mocked.  This week has been neither Spring nor a break.  And I have been a bit frustrated by it.  But today?  Glorious sun!  And I woke up with my ears unplugged!  They have now gone in and out of plugginess, but they are trying.  And the dizzy is gone!  And the face ache is gone!  A truly sunny day indeed.  I feel pretty near 75% of normal.  I'll take it.  For now.

I'm realizing that I'm about to go into an issue that will make me sound like an elderly woman.  I take no pleasure in that.  But it's the reality of my recent life.

I must get cranky about pills.  I hate to take pills.  I have an extreme gag reflex that has been an issue as far back as I can remember.  Because I hated to physically take them, I jumped quickly onto the bandwagon of just not being quick to think I need them.  I've become much better at swallowing them.  It's not been an issue for a long time.  But there is a certain size pill that I physically cannot swallow properly.  Last week it happened twice with a decongestant.  Lodged in my throat, me panicking and wondering if I should self-administer the Heimlich or call 911.  Finally started throwing up and eventually the pill slipped downward.  I thought it was some sort of spasm until the next morning when I tried it again and the same thing happened.  Lovely.  Two weeks into this vile sickness, I finally couldn't take the pain anymore and went to the doctor.  It was obviously a nasty sinus infection, no diagnosis needed.  Just needed the prescription, please.  And in addition to the prescription he so kindly offered me a lecture about running in that condition and the energy I was robbing from my immune system and blah, blah, blah.  (I totally believe that for everyone else, by the way.) 

Later that evening, we took a trip to Costco to pick up the vile (vile is the "word of the day") prescription and Brad decided to get his new phone.  When they handed me the bottle of pills, my face got hot and I started to panic.  They surely were kidding about me swallowing one of those pills twice a day for the next 10 days!  I told them I didn't know if I could do it, and they looked to see if there were options.  Nope.  But, the pharmacist told me I could split the pills, or CRUSH the pills and stir them into applesauce!  An option I'm sure he's offered a time or two when handing that white bag over to someone in the age range of elderly.  As we waited and waited for Brad's phone, I decided to just go for it and get a pill down.  I wanted the magic to start working, and they couldn't do that inside a little white bag.  So standing with Brad, I popped that pill down and took a slurp of my iced coffee.  Stuck.  Right there in Costco.  I could breathe, I just couldn't swallow, and my throat was trying valiantly while I tried to relax.  I told Brad it was stuck, and my sweetheart kept playing with the phone demo.  I put my arms in the air and jumped up and down.  Brad glanced up and then went back to his phone.  I walked away a bit, scoping out where I could throw up without making a scene if it came to that.  Should I bolt for the front door?  Try to make it to the bathroom??  Slug my husband with the phone in his hand???  Just when the panic started to rise, I felt the pill slip down.  I was shaking and starting to sweat at that point.  Brad's reason for not focusing his attention on what was happening?  "I didn't want to make you panic."  Oh, okay.

So starting with dose #2, I've been crushing and stirring into applesauce.  And the smell of those pills confirms why I don't like to take them unless I have to, and why I never rushed into letting my kids take them.  I'm so thankful to have always had forward-thinking doctors who knew that antibiotics were not needed for most things.  But this time they were needed, and it's grossing me out.  And yes, I'm taking the pro-biotics also.  And I've always enjoyed a good applesauce.  But now?  Ugh.  Six more days of it and it may go onto my forbidden food list.  But it's better than standing at my kitchen sink with my arms in the air, jumping up and down.  Not a pretty sight.

And that's all I have to say about pills.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In Case You Need A Happy Little Tune Stuck In Your Head

I just watched this over on Boo Mama's blog, and it was so much fun.  I now have it running through my head and will probably be humming it the rest of the day.  I'd whistle it, but I cannot whistle.  So just in case someone else out there would enjoy this happy little three minutes, here you go:

And I just previewed it and have no idea why it's voraciously taking over my blog sidebar.  You must really be meant to watch it...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ Chicken Spaghetti and S'More Brownies

Today is a 2fer with the recipes!  I took a quick peek through my past recipes, and I can't believe I haven't posted either of these.  They are both so very good. 

The chicken spaghetti is very slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman, so you know it's good.  To me it tastes kind of like chicken noodle soup in a casserole.  Brenna thinks it's like macaroni and cheese with chicken.  However you relate to it, it's yummy.  This one makes great left-overs, great lunches the next day.  This is also a good one if you are looking for a dinner to make for someone else.  Take half to another family and cook the other half for yourself.  It can also be frozen to be baked at another time.  See?  What's not to love?

Chicken Spaghetti

1 cut up fryer, or similar amount of whatever chicken pieces you have.  I usually pull most of the skin off the chicken so the resulting broth is a little less fatty.
3 cups dry spaghetti, broken into 2-3 inch pieces (that's just shy of a 17 oz. package)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups grated cheddar/jack cheese (or plain 'ole cheddar)
1/3 cup diced green pepper
1/3 cup diced onion
1 (4 oz.) jar pimentos, mostly drained but don't stress over some liquid
2 cups reserved chicken broth from cooking your chicken
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 additional cup grated cheese

Cover chicken in a large stockpot by about 3 inches or so.  Bring to boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken from broth and bring broth back to a boil.  Add spaghetti pieces and cook until al dente.  While pasta is cooking, remove chicken from the bone, getting enough chunks to make 2 cups.  When spaghetti is cooked, remove 2 cups of the broth to use later, then drain pasta.   Return pasta to pot and dump in all the remaining ingredients except the additional 1 cup cheese.  (Add the reserved chicken broth last, and use as much as you need to make it saucey.  I usually use about 1 1/2 cups.)

Spray a 9x13 pan (or 2 8x8 pans) with non-stick spray.  Spread mixture evenly in pan and top with reserved cheese.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until browned and bubbly.  If you choose to freeze it, cover tightly and freeze up to six months.  You can also cover tightly and refrigerate for up to two days before baking.

And now for dessert!  This is such a yummy brownie, and has had quite the adventures with our family.  One time in particular, this was made to take to a BBQ, and Alex decided to help me out by removing it from the oven, he dropped it, it landed upside down on the floor, mama was very frustrated, mama went to the store to get the stuff to start all over, and the brownies were a big hit anyway.  The mess?  Huge.  I highly recommend you avoid dropping these upside down on your kitchen floor.

In Brenna's home-ec class, she has to make something at home every two weeks and bring in the recipe with a signature from a parent.  Smart teacher, I'm sure she's accumulated some yummy finds.  Yesterday, Brenna made these.  And it reminded me how much they need to be shared.  These are so easy, you must try them soon.

S'More Brownies

1 package brownie mix (I strongly, emphatically recommend Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate, the one they sell at Costco.  They are the best.)
4 sheets graham crackers
4 Hershey chocolate bars
16 large marshmallows

Prepare brownie mix as directed.  Pour half the batter into an 8x8 pan sprayed with non-stick spray.  Top with graham crackers, splitting as necessary to make fit.  Top with Hershey bars.  Top with 16 marshmallows.  Pour remaining batter evenly over the top of the marshmallows.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.  This may take a little extra cooking to get that center undoughified.  New word.  I like it.

Cool thoroughly before cutting into squares.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Multitudes On Mondays ~ Blurring Lines

It's amazing how this practice of counting gifts opens your eyes to the uncountable gifts all around me.  I think I could do this daily for the rest of my life and never run out of things to be thankful for.  "Little things" jump out at me.  Then the line between little things and big things begins to blur.  There are no longer "little things" around me, they are all gifts.  All things swirl together to make up this whole experience of living.  "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good...".  Yeah, He was right.  It is very good.  And it is so good to slow down and see what He saw.  What He sees.

This weekend I had an amazing conversation with a man who went through a very similar accident with his child that we went through with Beth.  But his story ended very differently.  Some amazing things happened in that conversation.  And as we talked, I saw freshly many of the "little" gifts that were given during that time and after.  Gifts that were given in the midst of deep, deep pain.  And this man shared in a beautiful way some of the gifts that have come to him, things that have brought so much comfort.  Proof that no matter how deep our pain (and I don't believe there is possibly a deeper pain that losing a child) the Lord shows up and proves Himself real, true, and trustworthy.  And in that conversation, the lines between receiving comfort and giving comfort began to blur.  It's just shared comfort.

So, with a heart consumed and overcome with gratitude that words are pathetically inadequate to describe, I continue on...

299.  Life restored, whether here or in heaven
300.  Conversations that encourage and uplift
301.  Genesis 1:31
301.  2 Corinthians 1:3,4:  Comfort received so we can give
302.  Watching baptisms
303.  Shared joy
304.  Creativity
305.  Soft tissues
306.  Holding a mug of a hot drink
307.  Watching a little bird sit on a bush and give himself a bath in the rain
308.  Running my fingers along new pussy willows
309.  Conquering something I thought I could never do, even if it means I just have to do more
310.  Not setting my alarm on a Sunday night
311.  Freshly made hot chocolate pudding
312.  Young love, just starting out, that you are absolutely positive is forever
313.  A day of not rushing

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Look At My Tail...I'm Not Happy

Earlier this week, we came upon this video.  I think it's funny, my husband thinks it is hysterical.  No matter how many times he watches it, he breaks into that laugh that makes him have to catch his breath.

He has been putting in so many hours at work, and in some ways this reminded him of how he feels at work lately.  Like a cat on edge, guarding the recently updated equipment with his claws drawn.

And if you are a parent, you just may have seen a similarly ridiculous argument in your home a time or two or a million.

Cats argue over printer