Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Golden Birthday

Today, I am 31 years old.  As it is also the 31st day of the month, I am told that this is my "golden birthday."  I can't seem to get a straight answer as to what that means, but if it has something to do with having one of those rare, wonderful days that you never forget even though nothing big really happened, it may be true. 

I started my day with an outside run with Kayla, one of my dear gym comrades.  It was glorious, because all around us we could see this:

Then I was invited for a spontaneous birthday lunch with two of my friends, which is a miracle since:  1. It is a weekday, and 2. Between us we have nine children. 
The Photographer (who will laugh when she sees this blurry pic I took.)

The Professor's Wife (who just always laughs :)
'Twas lovely.

Later, my parents, Curlyjo, Tiny Love and I all piled into my Dad's third great love (behind only my mother and his 1969 Chevy Camaro), the Rhino.  We went out into the woods to the creek to bask in the lovely weather.
Naturally Tiny needed a snack for the road.

And Daisy Dog needed to join us. 

We spent an hour just wading around, looking for interesting rocks, shells, and animal prints.  There is nothing more calming to the soul than the sound of water running over the rocks, the wind and sun on your skin, and the smell of newborn grass all around you.  Bliss.

We did some wading and chatting, then headed over to the Compound, the farm where I grew up that is now home to both of my sisters and their families. 

It was a day spent enjoying health, friends, family, and God's beautiful world.  Golden.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cheesecake Really IS Crack

I spend a lot of time wondering why I can't stop eating sweets like this once I start eating them.

One bite and I can't seem to feel satisfied!  Mystery solved:  this article makes it clear that this phenomenon is "in my head"--literally.  I am familiar with the research behind the article, as this book is full of such information.  So, what am I to do?   When we know better we should do better, right?  So does this apply to everything but our diets?  Is it realistic to cut out ALL sweets and high fat foods?   

Tofu is Your Friend

Last year I went through a vegetarian phase, which lasted about three months.  I stopped for a lot of reasons, none of which being I didn't enjoy it.  I did.  I discovered two life-altering things while being vegetarian:
  1. If you don't eat meat, you can eat more almond butter.
  2. Tofu is delicious.
You can turn this:

Into this:


Best Basic Tofu
1 block of firm or extra firm tofu
1 tbs. low sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. olive oil

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. 

  • Open and drain the tofu.  Cut it in half lengthwise and wrap it in a clean kitchen cloth.  Now you will need to press it.  I like to put a cutting board on top of it with a cast iron skillet on top of the board.  The weight of it presses the water out and gives you a better texture.  Leave it weighted for five minutes or more.

  • Unwrap the tofu and place it on the cutting board.  Cut it into 1 inch cubes.  Put it in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and toss it around to coat.  Spread it out in one layer on the baking sheet. 

  • Bake for 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking time. 
You can add this to a stir fry or casserole, or just eat it plain, dipped in a little of this:

(Because we don't want to be too healthy around here.) 

But if you don't, just eat more of this:

(Because it makes it all better.) 

Monday, March 29, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

If only they could just say it three times, click their heels and arrive safely from the land of Oz Canada.  Instead, they take an eight hour flight into the heart of the USA and into the arms of their kids.

And their grandkids.

After a home cooked meal Nick's Pizza, we hang out together, just enjoying the comfort of family.

Our family is not perfect, but I don't think it gets better this side of heaven.  There is conflict.  There is sorrow.  There are trials. 
And there is LOVE.

There is friendship.

There is laughter. 

So, for the next two weeks, I will enjoy NOT having part of my heart in Canada.

Welcome home, Mom and Dad.

Some of the Questions Have Answers.

Before the birth of Curlyjo, I had many questions, mostly about me, because I really only knew about myself.  She hadn't come yet to teach me how to forget myself.  I think I know some of the answers now.

Q:  Will my husband see me only as "Curlyjo's mother?"
A:  No, but you will understand the security of having him acknowledge the importance of that role.

Q:  Will I know how to be a parent?
A:  No, but God will, and you are never far from His grace.

Q:  Will I mess her up?
A:  No, because she isn't far from God's grace either.

Q:  Will she love me?
A:  Oh, will she.

Q:  Will I love her?
A:  More than you can imagine, but only if you stop loving yourself so much.

Q:  How will I know what to do when it is time to wean/potty train/go to school/drive/date/etc.?
A:  You won't always know.  You will pray, sometimes you will guess.  The only guarantee is that you certainly won't know in advance.

Q:  Who will she become?
A:  God only knows.

Q:  Will she have good character, even when I am not there to watch?
A:  God only knows.

Q:  Will she choose wisely in love, and not be too quick to give her heart away? 
A:  God only knows.

I know that Curly is a beautiful, kind, compassionate, forgiving, talented, saved-by-grace child of God given to the Husband and I to enjoy, teach, and then release.  Maybe the rest I will only know at the "release."

Happy Birthday, Curlyjo.  Thanks for making me a mommy and daily blessing my life.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Wonder

I wonder if they will always be there for each other, no matter what life brings.

I wonder if they will always make time to have fun together.

I wonder if they will learn to accept each other when they choose different paths.

I wonder if they will hold on to traditions to strengthen their bonds and hold them together as sisters.

I wonder about tomorrow, but not about today. 
Today I know they are the best of friends.  

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book Review: Mothering Heights

I finished Mothering Heights by Keitha Smith and Susan Brereton.  It would be an excellent book for new Christian mothers who are looking for encouragement, direction in figuring out their new role, and suggestions for how to cope in the difficulties of motherhood.  Most of the information was untimely for me, as I am not a new mother.  It wasn't really a new concept, as I have read other books on the topic of motherhood. This did strike me as inarguable true, ever timely, and challenging:
There is perhaps no position or situation more in keeping with the servant nature of motherhood.  We are not suggesting that you are to become slaves to your children, for they are not your master; what we are suggesting is that you are unlikely ever to have an opportunity to demonstrate God's love more fully and more completely than you will have as mother to your children.  It is a God-given opportunity too precious to squander (Brereton 63).

If you are looking for a really good read on motherhood and womanhood in modern culture, check out this book:
It is quite a different approach to the subject, but still a thoughtful, intelligent, and honest assessment of the challenges women face in a post-feminist world. 

It's Party Time!

Curlyjo, who will be turning nine next week, had a birthday slumber party last night.  A good time was had by all, including Mom!  There was some of this:

Strawberry Short(cup)cakes

Some thoughtful gifts:

Lots of shenanigans:

Some crafting, followed by primping:

Lots of snacking:

And some Webkins action:

All the guests have gone home, the night's fun relived and shared, and now there will be lots of this:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Breakfast Rut

I have eaten the same breakfast almost every day for six months. I don't know if this is a problem. I am a creature of habit, but this seems weird even to me. So, here it is, the breakfast of this champion:

Banana Oats
1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. milk (sometimes I use soy)
1 banana, sliced
Put all these ingredients into a pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and stir frequently until it gets creamy and thick. Remove from heat.
1 tbs. ground flax
dash of nutmeg
dribble of vanilla
1 tbs. or so of sliced almonds

I do think it may be time to branch out a little. Maybe.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Was It Worth It?

I went grocery shopping this afternoon, which for me means driving to three stores to get the best prices. It also means dragging six store adds and an envelope full of coupons into Wal-Mart. Today, the weather is less than perfect for such an endeavor. When I got home, I had battle scars:Apparently my pants are too long. My hair showed signs of a struggle as well, but we won't go there. At the end of the day, I saved $40.46 price matching, and I saved $15.55 in coupons. I would say it was worth it. I mean, I would have braved the weather if only for this DEAL OF THE DAY--

That would be an eight pack of Schick razors, originally costing over eight dollars, which I got for $1.28 (with coupon and price match). Power to the people.

How To Keep Tiny Love Happy

Sugar, starting at breakfast. It is really that simple. Tiny Love enjoys her morning sugar in all forms--french toast, cinnamon-sugar toast, crazy-sweet cereal, oatmeal with lots of brown SUGAR. However, if you want to make her really happy, feed her Oatmeal Pancakes with homemade strawberry syrup...
Make the pancakes using the recipe linked above. It is the absolute best, and how could it not be when made by a woman known as "Hillbilly Housewife?" To make the syrup, go pick strawberries at a local berry farm, hull them, boil them and freeze them for eight months in a simple syrup made of honey and water. Okay, don't. But that's what I did. You could, I suppose, just boil fresh or frozen berries from the grocery store in simple syrup of honey and water.

Simple Strawberry syrup

1 bag of frozen berries
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. water
1 tsp. lemon juice

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and heat to boiling over medium high heat. Boil until it thickens, stirring often. I can't say how long, as it will depend on whether the berries are fresh or frozen, but probably about 15 minutes..
As it boils, use a potato masher or a fork to break the berries up. Serve over pancakes or as an ice cream topping.

Then watch Tiny Love swoon:

Obviously, they were disgusting :)

But, if you don't have time to do all of that, just do this for breakfast, and you will have one happy Tiny.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Slumber Party Favors

Curlyjo is having a slumber party for her ninth birthday this Friday. She is very excited; I am very afraid. Nevertheless, I want her to have a memorable and enjoyable party, so when I came across this little craft in Family Fun magazine, I thought it would be perfect. She and I could spend some time together before the party talking and preparing for it, and her friends could have a nice little party favor to take home. As they say in Canada, "Perfect!"

The craft is adorable! I am not crafty at all, I like to leave that to my friends Haley and Lynn, but these were super easy and craftiness is not a prerequisite. And if they turn out ugly, at least there is candy in the middle!

The Book List

Lately it is rare for me to be reading just one book. It seems that there are so many good books out there that I can't read just one at a time! So, I have some guidelines that help me keep it all straight in my mind, and it offers me something to read no matter what my mood.

At any given time, I may be reading one book from each category:

  • Spiritual growth--I learn best if I read the directions. This is also true of my spiritual life, so I often read, in addition to the Bible every day, books that offer help understanding Biblical truths.

  • Fiction--This has been a tough area lately, as I am choosy about what I read these days. I don't enjoy fluff or modern romances. I recently joined a small group of ladies who share my desire to read the classics, so we will be selecting a book to read together each month.

  • Practical--These books teach a skill or reinforce one I may have already learned. They give me fresh ideas. They may be about homemaking, cooking, math, or just collections of really cool vocabulary words. Feel free to question my sanity.

  • Home schooling help--I need encouragement every day in this area of my life, or I am going to put my kids on the bus. Home schooling books are such a wonderful tool to keep me focused on why and how to do this job, and remind me that I am not alone in this endeavor.

My current selections are:

  1. Mothering Heights by Keitha Smith and Susan Brereton (Practical)

  2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (Fiction)

  3. Homeschool Co-Ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out by Carol Topp

I also keep a list of books I want to read, and I add to it as I happen upon titles that look interesting. I will post reviews of the books I read as I finish them, as writing about what I read is one of the joys of life that makes me miss college all the time. I will pretend there is an 'A' at stake. :)

How about you? Do you read one book at a time? Several?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We're not in Faceville anymore.

Every idea is born of necessity. Until recently, I was fulfilling my need to think out loud using Face book. I discovered in a manner most unfavorable that Face book is not the place to be entirely oneself. So, welcome to my blog, where I fully intend to be entirely myself and apologetically so! I will share my love of listing, my obsession with exercise, and my musings on life, the people I love, and the places I go. Of you, my reader (or the crickets singing in the background as I give this lovely monologue), I ask that you give respect, fresh ideas, and a "hit" on my little blog every now and then. Come and visit me tomorrow for some listy fun...