Monday, November 12, 2012

Today was a great day.

My heart is so full ... the raucous sounds of all three of my boys playing together, with Lazslow lagging behind trying to find a place to fit in.  Pat stayed home today with Graham who had no school due to Veterans Day.  I went to work and concentrated on some tough things there.  And now he's been home before dinner, for dinner, and here for the after-dinner ruckus ... uninterrupted because he's been here the whole time.  These are moments that make me hesitate to rejoice in the fun because I hope it's not some sort of strange foreboding of some "missing" in the future.

When Pat and Graham got back from the grocery store (they couldn't go any earlier because Graham took such a long nap), I asked him what they had done (knowing most of what they had planned) ... and the first thing he said was "We went to Menchies!"  (Menchies is the local frozen-yogurt/candy shop.)  They also did the library, had lunch together, played on the computer, and watched a show.  Caleb was at school so it was really and truly a Daddy-Graham day.  And let me tell you, he's noticed.  His smile is so broad and comfortable .. and loved.

And for me, it is pretty unbelievably validating to know Pat was here for our morning preparation, the departure (seeing how many bags I pack and take to the car on a Monday morning), and to know that he even ended the day with a trip to the grocery store with a boy, knowing he needed to return with items for dinner.

Pat has been being more intentional lately, in experiencing life and loving family ... and I am so thankful.  I love you, Babe, and I am so thankful to have the gift of doing life with you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Here I am ... in love with Lewis

I have been considering the loss of my dad more again recently.   I have considered how at peace I feel, particularly as others are more frequently presenting the "check-in" questions that seem to ask, "how are you doing with your loss."  I can't believe we're now three and a half years out.

I read C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed tonight.  Maybe I should say I finally read it.  My mom has read it at least twice.  I recommend reading it all together in one sitting, like I was able to do tonight.  It's not a long read - maybe 90-115 minutes ...

Contrary to what you might think (ok, contrary to what I thought), it's not just for widows or widowers. It's not just for those who have lost lovers.  It's really for those who have lost loves, or those who consider the loss of loved ones (what parent hasn't considered the loss of a child?).  And it is for those who question the grand mystery, even the intent and purpose behind the universe.

I love so much of this book.  So much.  He puts a lot of what I have felt and am feeling into words - and pretty much just like I wish I could say them.  I just might answer those question-ers by saying, have you read this book?  Please go and do.

I have been at peace with the loss of my dad for quite some time ... I feel like he was and is and still will be.  He is just not here now - that we can see.  Regardless of who or what comes into my life, or how my children grow to know my dad or the space he left behind, he was and is.  He built into me - thus building into them, and he loves them still.

But here are a few excerpts simply because I cannot resist.  Cannot.  Won't.  Please pardon my passion if you must.

"I have no photograph of her that's any good.  I cannot even see her face distinctly in my imagination. ... No doubt the explanation is simple enough.  We have seen the faces of those we know best so variously, from so many angles, in so many lights, with so many expressions - waking, sleeping, laughing, crying, eating, talking, thinking - that all the impressions crowd into our memory together and cancel out into a mere blur." (ch. 1, pg. 15)

"And suddenly at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H. least, I remembered her best.  Indeed it was something (almost) better than memory; an instantaneous, unanswerable impression.  To say it was like a meeting would be going too far.  Yet there was that in it which tempts one to use those words.  It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier.    ||    Why has no one told me these things?  How easily I might have misjudged another man in the same situation?  I might have said, 'He's got over it.  He's forgotten his wife,' when the truth was, 'He remembers her better because he has partly got over it.'"  (ch. 3, p. 44)

"Looking back, I see that only a very little time ago I was greatly concerned about my memory of H. and how false it might become.  For some reason - the merciful good sense of God is the only one I can think of - I have stopped bothering about that.  And the remarkable thing is that since I stopped bothering about it, she seems to meet me everywhere.  Meet is far too strong a word ... Rather, a sort of unobtrusive but massive sense that she is, just as much as ever, a fact to be taken into account.  ...  ||  It sounds as if she were rather a battle-axe.  How can I put it better?  Would 'momentously real' or 'obstinately real do?"  (ch. 3, p. 50)

"Still, there's no denying that in some sense I 'feel better,' and with that comes at once a sort of shame, and a feeling that one is under a sort of obligation to cherish and foment and prolong one's unhappiness.     I've read about it in books, but I never dreamed I should feel it myself."  (ch. 3, pg. 53)

"The notes have been about myself, and about H., and about God.  In that order.  The order and the proportions exactly what they ought not to have been.  And I see that I have nowhere fallen into that mode of thinking about either which we call praising them.  Yet that would have been best for me.  Praise is the mode of love which always has some element of joy in it.  Praise in due order; of Him as the giver, of her as the gift.  ...  But by praising I can still, in some degree, enjoy her and already, in some degree, enjoy Him.  Better that than nothing."  (ch. 4, pg. 62)

In the middle and near the end, he considers some pretty personal questions about God's character and intention.  This piece I love: 

"Lord, are these your real terms?  Can I meet H. again only if I learn to love you so much that I don't care whether I meet her or not?  Consider, Lord, how it looks to us.  What would anyone think of me if I said to the boys, 'No toffee now.  But when you've grown up and don't really want toffee you shall have as much of it as you choose'?   ...  When I lay these questions before God I get no answer.  But a rather special sort of 'No answer.'  It is not the locked door.  It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze.  As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question.  Like, 'Peace, child; you don't understand.'     ||    Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable?  Quite easily, I should think.  All nonsense questions are unanswerable.  How many hours are there in a mile?  Is yellow square or round?  Probably half the questions we ask - half our great theological and metaphysical problems - are like that."  (ch. 4, pg. 68)

And this, just because I hope this describes what Pat and I have:  "Solomon calls his bride Sister.  Could a woman be a complete wife unless, for a moment, in one particular mood, a man felt almost inclined to call her Brother?"  (ch. 3, pg. 48)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tonight I made chicken strips from scratch, using a recipe I've used several times now - I love it (Eating Well, of course), and so does Graham.  This time, however, I used a new chili powder.  New, as in not the old chili powder from before we were married.  I suppose it makes sense that chili powder would lose some of its potency over time ... needless to say, tonight's chicken strips with the new chili powder were SPI-CY!  Thankfully I caught this in the first batch and was able to remix a new batch of breadcrumbs for the second batch which I set aside for Graham.  So that they weren't too bland, I did add in a few spoonfuls of the spicy batch - wouldn't want his experience to be too blase.

Neither Pat nor I had tasted Graham's batch.  We realized this when we looked over at him and saw a funny look on his face .. he had his tongue out and said, "something in my mouth feels ... interesting."  This said with a very studious face .. and a repeatedly stuck-out tongue.  Right away we tasted the strips, and indeed, there was an after-burn.  We asked him to describe what he was feeling, and he tried several adjectives, and finally settled on, "minty."  I was in heaven.  I love words, descriptions, new concepts without prior opinion ... and I loved to hear my kiddo describe chili'spotency as minty.  Indeed the experience in his mouth was very similar to what he feels when he chews a whole peppermint.

We enjoyed watching him experience the spiciness - he didn't want to stop eating them, or share so that we could confirm again what they tasted like.  He did some in and out breathing a few times, which we noticed was again him experiencing and experimenting with this new flavor.  He decided that cheese does a good job of helping with the "minty-ness," and at one point we caught him frowning and wincing as he almost shoved more cheese in his mouth.  What a fun kid.  I love watching him explore the world!

Sorry it's been so long - here are some images from our life lately ...

Chocolate faces at Caleb's 1st birthday ... 

Mother's Day Tea at Graham's school

Making cupcakes for Daddy's birthday!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mmmm cookies

I just made the most amazing cookie recipe, and I thought you would love it too! It's from Super Natural Cooking, a new cookbook I got for Christmas from my new sister-in-law, Lauren. The recipe calls for mesquite flour, which sounds totally intriguing [slightly sweet & chocolatey flavor with a touch of malt and smokiness], but I couldn't find it at any of the health food stores around here. So I made it with all whole-wheat pastry flour, based on the author's advice for my situation. And they were incredible. Two cups of oats! All whole-wheat pastry flour!

I can't imagine how they'd taste with the new flour, but since I'm intrigued, I am going for it! I just grabbed the cookbook to special order some mesquite flour (here's where I purchased from), and since I'm at my computer, I thought I'd share the recipe with you. I think the raw cane sugar really makes it. I used turbinado sugar, and it seems that the sugar crystals retained their structure and snap, which makes for a fun experience in the mouth.

2.5 c. whole-wheat pastry flour
1 c. mesquite flour, sifted if clumpy
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
3/4 tsp. fine-grain sea salt (I used celtic sea salt from Wh. Foods)
1 c. unsalted butter at room temp
2 c. natural cane sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. rolled oats
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Whip the butter first, then add eggs one at a time, then the sugar and beat until it's like thick frosting. I think the key to my success may have been whipping the butter - I mixed at the highest setting on my Kitchen Aid ... for quite some time, and I wonder if that helps to make them light and airy. Seems to make sense. Mix the dry ingredients (without oats) separately and add in three batches, then add oats and chips by hand - but don't overmix!

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes - she says, don't overbake, if anything underbake them.


Oh and the author has a blog:


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Meanderings ...

I just got overwhelmingly tired. Perhaps I was slightly tired earlier (looking at the kitchen right now would exhaust anyone), but I think it got worse when I opened my Comcast inbox. This is the e-mail address I use when I sign up for new accounts or make online purchases. I haven't checked this box since early last week (meaning it was full of Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals). Oh man was I ever overwhelmed by great deals. Sweaters 50% off! Join this site and get 5 miles for every $1 spent. Buy tomorrow and get double points!

For a moment I was swayed, and I thought, yes, I need points! Yes, I need miles, and sweaters! And matching mother-daughter aprons (oh wait I don't have a daughter)! Wait - who was offering points, or miles, or, or ... And how many points do I already have - banked up for that special occasion that still hasn't happened?

And then I named it: Consumerism. When my wants become needs ... and really, they never were my wants in the first place.

And now I'm feeling tired, and overwhelmed. I want to revel in the joy of the season. Maybe I can look at this picture [above], to remind me of joy, contentment, and simplicity (and a wonderful husband who wears a Bjorn!). It was storming in the background, and we knew it was coming our way and we had to drive through it to get home, but where we were in that moment, it was sunny, still, and slow. A family day.

When I think of one thing to do, my list grows to 10, then 15. But again, they're not really needs. In the mornings, I'm trying to take 5 minutes (even that can be hard) after my shower to sit and be quiet, and listen. I need to add rejoicing to the list. God, thank you for sending your son, JESUS! To be born in messy, humble circumstances, to a teenager and her new husband. To live a perfect life, and teach those who struggled to see who He was ... and to die a criminal's death.

And now, somehow, I feel stronger - ready to go upstairs and read stories and sing songs, and give Graham "two dreams." And then, I'll come down and clean my dinner mess, wash pump parts, and go to sleep myself. Thank you God, thank you Jesus ... and Spirit, continue to grant me strength.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I missed my dad yesterday. I was driving between preschool and daycare and had a few moments in the car and lots on my mind, and I thought, "I'll call Dad - I know he'd love to hear from me." Before I knew it, I was playing for myself how he would answer the phone, and I was picturing the selfless smile on his face. It took me a while to realize that I couldn't do it. This is the first time in a long time that I have missed him like this. And I think it's the first time since the accident that I could remember things about him so clearly and crisply.

After that, of course, I thought about him all day - all the things I wish I could share with him, all the things I wish I could do with him, and replaying his chuckles and smiles over and over. And I contemplated the timing ... how we can go so long in between "missings," and I think about how my mom has told me that she still misses her dad and wishes she could call him up to chat. He was 96 when he died in 2006. If she still misses him and he still seems so fresh in her thoughts, then I'm glad to know that my dad will still come up in my memory - that he will still feel like a relevant presence. I hope he can feel us too and see our joys and sorrows from heaven. We miss you here, Dad!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

We're still here - and kicking!

Summer!! I love berries. I love sun. I love zucchini and yellow squash and farmers' markets. I love boys whose naps match. I can deal with 80-95 degree weather, especailly now that we have air conditioning. I love Graham outside running around talking to the bees, checking on the frog in our sprinkler box, and calling me over to watch him eat a pea pod. I love Caleb's chubby little legs kicking as speckles of sun break through the shadows of the aspens. I don't love weeding, but I did get a little done today. And pat got some done yesterday. Summer, please stay.

Our tickets to see Wait Wait Don't Tell Me ("the oddly informative news quiz") just arrived in the mail. I am really excited - I am a fan of Carl Kassel and I get a huge kick out of their approach to the weekly news. I'm looking forward to actually seeing the show that I've only heard so many times until now.

Caleb has successfully taken a bottle two consecutive nights in a row - go Pat! We have a lot of time to make up for, and I'm so thankful for my husband's willingness to get up in the middle of the night. (I guess I feel like it's just part of life for me to have to feed Caleb - the milk comes from my body after all - so when Pat sacrifices his sleep to feed him, I really feel like he's taking one for the team (especially if you know how hard Pat sleeps).)

Graham starts at Montessori school on September 6. That's my first week back at work, so it will be a good start for both of us. Actually his first day is August 31, for a two hour orientation session. He will attend 4 days, and I think I'm going to be able to work my schedule out so I can pick him up by 4 every day. I'm looking forward to seeing how he grows and learns in this new environment.

Caleb also starts daycare on September 6. I think we'll just do a short day that first day. Let him get the hang of things ... eating, sleeping, pooping - you know ... Technically I don't work on Tuesdays, but I'm planning to go in for a short day to ease myself into the routine (and so I don't just spend the day missing Caleb and Graham).

Oh! Over the past couple of months we have been insanely busy. It's really nice to have a few days back at home to find quiet and rhythm again. For the curious (and so I can look back in a few months when I wonder where the summer went), here's a short snippet:
  • April 26 - Caleb's arrival! Mom came within 2 days of his arrival to help out - thanks Mom!
  • May 20-22 - Andrew & Lauren in town
  • June 10-13 - Wisconsin for a long weekend - family wedding and Pat's parents' 40th anniversary.
  • June 16-20 - Mom comes to visit, and Andrew & Lauren in town, co-hosted wedding shower on Saturday.
  • July 1-4 - Boise with Andrew & Lauren
  • July 12 - Cousin Caitlin arrives ... to do life with us and help out for a couple of weeks.
  • July 19 - Cousin Brittany arrives to spend a couple of days before the wedding.
  • July 20-24 - The girls all head to Seattle with Caleb & Graham - Pat arrives on Friday.
  • July 23 - Andrew and Lauren get married in one of the most BEautiful ceremonies I've been a part of. If you want more info, see these links: video / friend's blog post
  • July 28 - Caitlin leaves :(
  • August 9-14 - I drove to Boise on Tuesday with the boys and Lazslow. Pat flew in Friday morning, and Andrew & Lauren flew in Friday night. Mom hosted a great reception on Saturday evening.
  • August 17-21 - SunRiver, OR with friends. A relaxing trip - lots of kids, lots of laughs, and great moments of authenticity.
So you can see, it's good to be home, and I think it will feel really nice to return to work. Routine is comfortable to me. Finding it will be interesting, but I do see God's grace in the timing (such as those listed before the list above). And really, could we have planned it any better? What a great time to have maternity leave! I've been out of work for the entire summer - May through August, and I return to work the same day school starts again. And I was able to spend several days touring my cousins around our fair and wonderful city and surroundings - one of my favorite things to do. I do feel a bit of sovereignty coming in here.

Sharing a few pics to highlight our summer ...