Sometimes we drive down the dirt road, out to the orchard,
and build a fire.
We meet our friends, and take out our pocket knives.
Charlie comes too.
We might enjoy a cold one (not many more than that for this on call mama),
as the sun goes down.
We say goodnight to the horse,
We lounge in chairs, eat cookies, and get sleepy.
People have been sitting around fires for thousands of years. It is not a new idea, but it is a good one.
Happy night, the smell of campfire is still in my hair.
I wonder how the moon looked in the sky from where you were?
"How can it be?" I ask myself this already knowing deep down it is true. Most days I forget that I'm a grown-up, and now you are eleven? Whoa. It's not a cliche, it really does go by so quickly. Where once there was a paunchy bellied, curly-haired girl sitting snug on my lap, there is now a lovely young lady sitting beside me.
Thank you Emma for being so full of grace towards me. For letting me grow up a little alongside you. For being long-suffering with my endless talking and for not being afraid when you see me cry. Thank you for being swift to forgive me when I mess it all up, for being the first one to ask for a hug. Thank you for finding all the things that I lose and for not making too much fun of me when you have to explain your math assignment to me.
The other day I heard you say (in complete frustration), "I don't get you Mom!" And I know. I know that we are standing on the cusp of big things. I find myself grasping at every last straw of your girlhood. You are literally changing right before my eyes. Growing up is hard. It can be so hard. There are days when I want to pull you aside and put my arm around you and just say over and over again, "I know. I know. I know."
But you are doing it. You are growing up and I am so proud of you. You are incredible inside and out. How did you manage to get your Dad's artistry, his deep blue eyes, long eyelashes, long legs, and his ear for music? All the good stuff! At least you got my hair :) You have strong convictions and I trust your heart. Thank you for wearing it on your sleeve sometimes.
I know I am pulled in a lot of different directions. I know that you don't always get the time with me that you want. I know it is not always easy to be the oldest, and that some days I ask a lot of you. I know our house is messy. It is not nearly as organized as you (or Dad) would like it to be. Every day is not easy. Thank you for reaching out for my hand and always being so free with your "I love yous." Thank you for rising to the challenges and serving others with a heart like Jesus.
Please know that it all began with you. You. You were the one that ignited the previously unknown-to-me place in my heart- a fierce corner that I never knew existed. You have taught me that I am capable of loving so fully- so vehemently. I remember leaving the hospital with you. I cried in the back seat sitting next to you. How could God possibly see me fit to care for you? To keep you alive? To shape and mold and love you enough? It was a mixture of total fear, total awe, and total honor.
Thank you for coming to us. You are a perfect expression of the love that Dad and I have. (Thank you for making barfing sounds when we kiss, pretending to think its gross. It makes us laugh.) Thank you for being our daughter and making it so easy to love you.
Happy 11th Birthday Emma.
Emma wanted to have a sleep over for her birthday. Pizza, ice cream sundaes, games, and a movie. What a delightful group of girls. So mannerly and they were all asleep by 11pm! What do you get an 11 year old for her birthday? Well, this and this and these of course!
The sky looked like this yesterday afternoon. I don't think it actually ever rained, but I was sure at any moment it was going to downpour. Darn it. I wanted to get a run in. I'm a fair-weather girl. I wish I was all geared out and and into extreme conditions, and precipitation- but I'm not. It takes enough motivation as it is. When the weather is bad I almost always flake out. I drove away from the clouds and headed to the gym.
Headphones in hand, I hopped on the treadmill and watched the minutes begin to tick away.
1:04- Dear God, I'm here to do penance for the mid-afternoon lack of self-control. I'm sorry for eating a hand full of chocolate chips. That was out of line. Please forgive me.
1:59- It's been a busy day. I'm glad I'm here. Good job me. I even have a cute pony tail today.
3:07- (Notice the Teenage Trixie to my left.) Are those her shorts or her underwear? Whatever. I can take her. Maybe she wants to race?
4:23- Over exaggerate when inserting headphones into my ears in order to avoid the conversation that the middle-aged man to my right is trying to strike up. I'm not interested in the basketball game dude.
6:01- Warm-up over. Time to run.
7:39- This is a nice pace. I'm energized.
10:01- Huh. I've only been running 4 minutes? Weird, feels longer.
12:01- Whoa, my throat feels like I just swallowed a handful of gravel. I wonder if I could reach my water bottle on the ground without stopping? Without falling off?
13:01- I've only been running 7 minutes? Ugh. I miss the fresh air and my view.
15:00- I'm going to die (gasp, pant) turn my headphones louder. I don't want to hear myself breathe.
17:22- Look at those dark clouds. It's 8:00pm. I should be home cuddled under a blanket on the couch crocheting. But then, I would have a butt that looked like I sat on the couch crocheting.
17:23- Remembering this:
(there is no such thing as a bubble where we only see each other from flattering angles and in good lighting- RUN!)
20:32- Oh bye-bye Teeny Bopper Girl. I knew you wouldn't last. Enjoy the tanning bed. I'm just gonna stay here and burn calories.
24:58- Yay, it's Kings of Leon I love this song. Up my pace to 5 mph.
27:39- Pony tail is falling out.
29:13- I'm doing this. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Only 10 minutes and 47 seconds to go.
32:00- Don't quit. You cannot quit. Keep running.
33:17- It feels good to sweat. Wipe my face with the towel they gave me at the front desk, see evidence that my mascara is running.
33:18- Remembering this:
34:44- Home stretch. Wow, it is way easier to run on this belt than on the pavement around my neighborhood. Maybe there is something to this 0% incline "no hills" thing.
37:12- What day is it? What time is it? I'm lost. In a good way.
40:01- Done? Already? I was just hitting my stride. That was SO easy.
Endorphins- yes!! I'm awesome. Flying high. Let's go try on bathing suits or something.
I think I might puke.
It's 12:37pm. I'm sitting down to lunch standing up at the counter eating again. I've just put Ian down for a nap. He's only gotten out of his bed 4 times. I think he's asleep now. The girls are waiting downstairs for me to come do spelling, math, and to read with them. We've already weeded our way through science, social studies, a violin lesson, and bible earlier this morning. The day has also included chores, a few errands, and a little first aid as Ian got a bottle of all-purpose cleaner and sprayed it on his face and in his mouth!! Carl is gone again. Just overnight this time, but still, he's not here. I'm standing amongst a pile of papers, putting the finishing touches on monthly progress reports, weekly certified teacher check-ins, copywork lessons for Hannah, and hand outs for my birthing class. Later on there will be dinner and swimming lessons. This weekend I'm on call and we have two slumber parties happening (one of which we are hosting).... there are messes to clean, groceries to buy, and gifts to wrap.
Sometimes I just want to get lost. And no- not in this:
(clean laundry that waits to be folded. volunteers?)
I want to lose track of the day and the time and where I'm supposed to be and of what I'm supposed to be doing. I want to get lost in the most irresponsible way. I want to move at my own pace and linger and dawdle and dilly dally.
I could get lost in:
:: a good book- to be able to just read and read and read...
:: a project (scroll down to the skirt)
:: a long nap
:: a long kiss
:: a long talk- a real talk. face to face. no calls or texts that end with "Sorry I've got to go" or "ttyl" or interruptions from crying children...but a real talk that only ends when we run out of things to say and not before.
:: pottery? I've never tried it before. I'd make this first.
:: a cup of tea
(I found this one sitting on the counter 3 hours after I brewed it. The cup was full. I had forgotten about it. I do it all the time.)
:: a good case of the giggles
:: a good 5 o'clock shadow- mmm mmm. scratchy scruffy.
:: a sunrise
:: ikea- I'm all swoony for this patio set. Could I also have the bayfront view too?
:: a challenge or something to figure out
:: art, in all mediums - i love this blog. mind blown!
:: my ipod and some pavement
:: my goggles and some water (preferably chlorinated)
:: my bike and a trail
:: my bed. oh I love, love, LOVE my bed.
:: window shopping
:: the library
Do you understand this at all? Do you ever feel this way? I know that the days are long and the years are short. This fact brings me back to the here and now. It revives my patience and tolerance with all the demands upon my most precious commodity- time.
But oh to be lost for a while.
Yesterday there were apples to be peeled.
lettuce to wash,
veggies to be stir-fried,
And that was just in the kitchen...If I look outside I get a little overwhelmed.
The chives are coming up, which is always a sign that it's nearly time to plant.
The beds have been turned and a fresh layer of compost has been raked in. (Thank you husband.) They sit ready and waiting. I haven't even ordered seeds yet. I may just buy starts this year.
I'm starting to get anxious for the growing season to begin. Reading this book has provided inspiration. Check out this awesome website for planting dates in your area (Sign up for free! You get customized planting schedules!)
The pool is completely thawed. It will need a good shock and vacuum. Looking forward to many, many days of floating there.
The snow is gone, and there is concrete to pour for a patio, railing to build on our deck, and lots of potted plants to revive.
Good thing I have many happy helpers.
Happy First Day of Spring to you!!
Here's what we can pack into a weekend:
St. Patrick's Day Green.
A 6th birthday. (Laurel would like you to notice the sparkly pink things in her ears. She's been waiting for what feels like forever for this birthday. The birthday when mom says it's okay to get your ears pierced.) She had a great day filled with Toys R Us shopping, face painting, a movie, dinner out with the family, and a humongous chocolate cake. How cool would it be to have your birthday on March 17th?
Some cousin play time. Audrey and Ian.
Some amazing Thai food, probably the best I've ever had.
A 6:00am gym date followed by Starbucks (and uninterrupted conversation) with my dad.
An appointment with the Geniuses at The Genius Bar who (thankfully) gave my laptop CPR when it stopped breathing after a firmware update. Whew! Close call.
Oh, and this.
Yes, we are older...but I think we are better than ever.
So much fun! Pretty great to catch up with these girls.
I even came home with a few extra bags:
And after what seemed like an eternal drive home...
Which made me extremely grumpy...
We finally found ourselves back under this blue sky again.
*Sigh* How much better can it get?
Excited is an understatement. So looking forward to lots of fun with these girls tomorrow night! It's been a long time! I'm all packed. Time to hit the road!
"I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift."
What about you?
I had a conversation with one of my most favorite people in the whole world yesterday. She always provokes me to dream big and imagine outlandish ideas coming true. I love her for that. I miss her for that. We are always saying, "I wish we lived closer." What if we stopped wishing?
We talked about uprooting our families and moving to the farm where we would run the day-to-day stuff for my Uncle (her dad). We would be farmers/orchardists, and of course we would be extrememly cute in working in outfits like these:
Of course we would also probably wear braids, and possibly flowers in our hair (but only for special occasions).
and of course it would be hard work...but we would be together, and we would laugh a lot. Our families could grow up together. It would be a wholesome life in the country (well mostly, Jenn and I would have to try hard not to get into trouble).
Then we exchanged several texts about opening a farm stand with fresh fruit, homemade pies and bread, coffee, smoothies, and maybe even some local wines. We could host barn dances...
I now have a pinterest board titled "Dreaming of a Farm" and a new book on the way.
It's good to have dreams. They make you smile. Sometimes I dismiss them too quickly. And who knows? Maybe they'll come true someday. I've already have the kids convinced that a farm could be fun!
It's days like this that bring out the home body in me. I was happy that we didn't have to leave the nest.
Hard to stray too far from warm covers. Another benefit of homeschooling: we can tackle a lot of schoolwork in our beds or snuggled on the couch.
I was in the mood for something earthy and simple, so I made some egg drop soup for lunch.
It is so easy, and there really aren't any rules. Here's how I make it- feel free to embellish.
Saute some veggies (I like water chestnuts, green onions, and mushrooms.
Add 2 cups chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
In the meantime beat two eggs and pour them into a Ziploc bag.
Snip a tiny bit off the corner of the bag and slowly pour them into the hot soup, stirring all the while with a chopstick or a knife (not a spoon). The eggs will turned into "cooked ribbons" as you stir them.
Garnish with more green onions. Um, easy right? Warm goodness.
It was good with this roasted cabbage. Don't skip the fennel seed, it's key. Perfect for a cozy, quiet day.
Washing walls (and painting them- I'll show you later this week!), tilling the garden, steam cleaning all of the window tracks, cleaning out cars, laundry, lesson planning...it was a productive weekend for us.
Carl is doing a bit of traveling for work this week. Knowing that I'll be flying solo for a few days sent me scrambling back to the kitchen to get some meals ready before he leaves.
I set Hannah to work on making muffins.
We gathered/measured the ingredients together.
I found a great one bowl "base" recipe that makes 12 muffins. We decided to make two batches of carrot/raisin and one batch of blueberry. So we had 3 bowls going. Honestly, it just is so easy doing it this way. It really doesn't take any more time to make 3 batches than it does to make one. Everything is out anyways. Why not just make a mess once instead of multiple times throughout the week?
I left her to assemble each batch,
and scoop them into the paper liners. She loves working in the kitchen- but can be a bit possessive. She fended off the other interested people passing by that tried to get in on the action. "No, you can't help! This is MY project. Maybe I'll let you eat some when they are done."
We froze these raw in their pans, and then popped them out and into freezer bags. Then, in the mornings, we just pop them back into their pans and bake them! I like them better this way rather than baking them first and then freezing them. I think it's a texture thing.
I also made/assembled 5 dinners, boiled eggs for snacks, chopped veggies for quick munching, and made yogurt. I just cannot tell you the amount of stress this erases from my life. Everything feels so much lighter knowing that dinner is covered for the week.
Yehaw! We're off and running!
Less of this:
And unfortunately more of this:
Looks like I have my work cut out for me.
Better put my headphones on....
These just came out of the oven. I'm having a hard time resisting!
This has become a staple around here! We eat it at least once a week!
Strawberry salad. Mixed greens + strawberries + red onions + chicken + chopped nuts + goat cheese + this dressing + lots of pepper! Springy!
It's been a smooth sailing kind of week in the kitchen- mostly because of the pre-planning I did over the weekend. Sometimes I'm tempted to skip this prep work... but with some of our evening activities in full swing, it really has become a necessity!
Sometimes I make the whole dish ahead of time and freeze it. Other times I just prep the veggies/make marinades/and otherwise get it all ready for cooking. Whenever I can, I double the recipe and save one of the dishes for another day later in the month. So worth the effort.
Here are some of our favorites that can be made or prepped ahead of time:
Now get cooking!!
It's no secret I have a love affair with breakfast. When I was a little girl my mother used to make crepes. I loved those mornings. They felt special, as if to say, "this day is meant for something fruffy-- it is going to be a day too good for cereal."
I've been feeling a little worn thin lately. I guess there are spaces of time when it you just have to give more, where personalities and circumstances make everyone around you somewhat of a taker. I'm happy to do it, but it can wear a girl out. Oh, and I miss my mom. She was always a giver.
I made crepes yesterday morning (as I often do). It was my attempt to start happy, to start again, to anchor myself to a little message of love that my mom used to put on my plate. And even if I wasn't going to eat them-- it did me well to make something pretty.
These are by no means authentic or overtly french...but something about them just feels indulgent. Here's how we make them.
This is my favorite recipe. I mix it up in the blender and usually have to make 2 batches one at a time. I use lots of butter or spray oil to make my 10" pan non-sticky. The burner temperature is crucial. You have to fuss with it a little bit-- somewhere between medium and medium low. I just pour the batter into the pan, swirl to coat the bottom, and then flip it like a pancake when the edges are all bubbly.
It's good to have some helpers in the process. I usually assign someone to the jam and sugar station so I can go back and pour batter in the pan for the next crepe. My people are not patient about these! I have to crank them out. I'm not kidding! They are literally waiting in line with their plates in my kitchen.
Slather butter all over and warmed jam down the center.
Fold the sides over and sprinkle with powdered sugar. (We keep powdered sugar in a parmesean cheese sprinkler jar thingy.)
There you have it. Yummy as can be. Just ask Hannah. She ate 4!
I made use of the discarded egg whites and scrambled them up for myself. Not quite the same...
I felt a little weary today. Sore muscles, sore throat, blustery winds, whiny boys, dirty dishes, mountains of school work... I really needed to find some beauty. I set everything aside and just started looking for:
clean spaces (sometimes they are hard to find),
pretty words (I still have to hang it, it's just leaning against the wall),
squishy spots (pillows on my bed),
comfort food, (chicken pot pie- I did some freezer cooking this weekend and it was so lovely to just pull this out and pop it in the oven! I didn't have any, but I'm told it was yummy.)
streaming light (towels hanging on my bathroom door),
and silk flowers (my dad makes fun of this sweater. once he mistook the flowers for a napkin? put on your glasses dad! *giggle*)
and start over again tomorrow.
Sheets and twinkle lights are now on my to do list.
Why does the good stuff have to be so bad? Why do I crave what I shouldn't be craving? Why can't I just want a huge pile of broccoli instead? Why do I even tempt myself? Who bought this anyways? Do I eat some because I just worked out? Do I say no for the same reason? Isn't there some kind of health benefit to dark chocolate? Do I have just one bite to satisfy my taste buds? Do I go all the way (as long as I'm at it) and eat the whole thing? Because if you are going to cheat, shouldn't you just enjoy it? Shouldn't it be worth it? Will I be disappointed in myself when the carton is empty? Is there any way that I could convince myself that the calories don't count? I deserve this right? Can't I just rationalize it by saying, "oh stop obsessing, it's really not going to hurt anything in the long run. It's just a little gelato." ? Do I need therapy?
Are you sure there isn't any way to have your gelato and eat it too?
(In case you are wondering, I took the picture and put it away. The carton is still full in the freezer...for now)
A quiet afternoon row out to some secluded inlet. Sandwiches, sodas, and smooching.
8:00pm Thursday night at the gym. It's amazing how quick and painless 5000 meters on the rowing machine can be when you've got a good imagination!
I was laughing because my friend (rowing next to me) told me that I had the wrong vision going on. She informed me that we were not on some placid lake drinking root beers with our beaus and being romantic. Instead she said that I ought to be imagining we were on the USA women's crew team racing in the Olympics, and that I'd better snap out of it because China had just rowed right past us. Time to pick up the pace!
That's why I work out with you Holly. Thanks for the Thursday night row.
Oh hey March. I'm so glad you're here. It's not that hate February...it's just that I strongly dislike it. I even endured one extra day of it this year.
03/2012 I have a few favors to ask of you:
Would it be ok if we shelved the sweaters for now? At least the itchy ones? I've had my fill of wool. Can we move on something a little bit more airy?
Could we ditch the scarves and have our necks back? I happen to really like necks. (I love it that he's holding the polka dot umbrella.)
While we're at it, let's ditch the socks too.
Can we keep the gray to a minimum? Let's only allow it just where we mean for it to be.
How about we get started on this sooner than later?
Although I know it is a great way to burn calories, do I really have to shovel the driveway again? I just did it yesterday. Let's be done with that fluffy white stuff, yes?