Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Stay tuned...

Something is brewing here.

I'm not sure quite what.

I feel that it's moving away from Life with 2 Girls and Truck and more toward learning the unforced rhythms of grace.  

Stay tuned...

It's a work in progress here in blogland as well as in my heart.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The {what is most useful? podcasts, doing it well and popcorn} post

I haven’t written in forever.  And it really is one of the things that I would like to do more of.  Even though it may fly in the face of what I am going to write about a few paragraphs down.  For today, writing it is.

I wake up around 5:30 some days and I can’t go back to sleep because my mind is racing.  Today’s thought that my brain HAS to answer:  What do people find most useful after a family member dies.

And somehow, in the part of my brain that does all the cool stuff, I laid in bed trying to create an imaginary poll so that I could find out just what that thing is that would be most helpful to have someone show up and plop in your hands after you lose someone.  I wasn’t sure if a Facebook post would be the right platform.  And blogging can be iffy – it might not reach all eight readers that I used to have.  So, how, my mind asks, do I find the answer to this question?

Earlier this week I heard about Mom Struggling Well podcasts and I have started listening to them.  

I have really enjoyed all 1.8 podcasts that I have managed to listen to even though I have to fight my way through interruptions and have had to restart the podcasts about sixteen times per show. 

Laura Kelley was the guest on Episode 61 that I listened to yesterday and the one thing that I took away from her story is that she sliced her commitment list and decided to do the things that she HAS to do and do them WELL.

This got me thinking that I need to do a few things well too.  I have taken on the task of homeschooling and I don’t always feel like I do it well.  I am also in charge of preparing food for my family and some days I do that well.  And other days they would be better off scraping sludge off the bottom of the oven at the bakery.  

But her insight was pretty good – do the things that you are going to be doing anyway and do them well.  Not as an afterthought.  Not as the thing you have to rush through to get to the good stuff.  But well.
I have already applied this concept.  As I was driving home and listening to these wise words my brain – the part with the never ending to-do list – was going.  I needed to send things to a client, I needed to pick up my kids, I needed to help my parents with some furniture –

funny story by the way – little blue chair got stuck in their stairway.  There I am, trying to calculate which way the chair needs to turn to make the turn in the stairway – and there is my dad, fully aware that the space I am trying to turn the chair is smaller than the chair itself.  Meanwhile, my mom is downstairs offering us a Sawzall and telling us “It went up there, it should be able to come down.”  Because, let’s face it, when you have a blue chair stuck in the middle of a stairwell that truth is exactly what you need to hear.   (I love you mom!)

I also needed to get coffee for TDM so that he isn’t forced to drink the equivalent of coffee sludge tomorrow (I mean this) morning.  But the process of buying coffee isn’t just buying coffee.  The grocery store has a spend $75, get a gas coupon deal going and If I am spending $6 on coffee, by heck and by golly, I am going to spend $75 and get my coupon.  So I had already planned my grocery list out earlier in the day and just had to decide if I was going last night or if TDM was drinking sludge again.  I was pretty sure that I could just run into the store quickly and grab my list’s worth of things.  The variables were:  whether or not they had two bags of popcorn ready to go for Miss E and Smiley Girl.  If only one half-full cup of water would fly tonight.  Whether or not the car-carts had been hidden adequately prior to our arrival.  The time of night that I would be arriving on scene – since the time change has kicked Smiley Girl’s tush and she is ready for full on melt down at 7pm.  

And hormones.  

Yes, popcorn and hormones are a factor in how successful the shopping trip would be.  Because popcorn and hormones are the difference between me walking out of the grocery store like this:

{Insert picture of happy lady shopping with two angelic children.  I would, but that would require more clicks of the mouse and several log ins and I just don't have it in me.}

And like this:

{Insert picture of crazed angry mom with cranky non-angelic children in tow.}

I was pretty sure that I could do it last night.  And then the words from the podcast hit my brain.  And I realized that there was no way on God’s green earth that it was something I would be able to do WELL. 

Crap.

So I sent the work into the clients, ate a piece of chicken, got the blue chair stuck, packed up the kids and we came home.

Where I sat on the couch and talked to TDM and Miss E for a bit before carrying Smiley Girl – who was dressed in a polka dot Minnie Mouse dress, purple cow pajama pants, hair in a bun that didn’t start out messy and the remains of lipstick that DID start out messy – to bed.

And I did it well.

So that leaves TDM drinking sludge this morning and me pondering my 5 am question and wondering what time out be optimal to do the store well this morning. 

Feel free to weigh in on those subjects or any other one you care to mention in the comments.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday + Mr Toad

It is raining here for the first time in I don't even know how long.  Other than the few minutes that it rained while we were camping several weeks ago and the two seconds that it sprinkled on Tuesday afternoon.

I am a firm believer in Rain + Saturday = Lazy.

My children do not subscribe to Rain + Saturday = Lazy.

This morning my children awoke at 6:30 am.  Smiley Girl asked for breakfast because, as usual, she is STARVING!  Miss E asked to play a game.  And read a book.  And.  And.  And.  At that point I was still trying to prop my eyes open after a night of sleep that equaled a very tiny amount of actual sleep.

The morning progressed with me trying to read a book, move some laundry around and field questions such as "Where is the other dolly stroller?", "Can I keep my toad?", "Can we play a game?", "Can I have a Pop Tart?", "How do you spell Tea Party?" until Miss E arrived with a toad in a small container to ask what toads eat.  "Can we look online Mama?"

She hasn't discovered yet that the proper way to refer to online is "The Google."  Parent fail.

I finish what I am doing and check "The Google" for toad diet trends.  Fascinating stuff.  Toads eat...bugs.  I tell her what she needs to find if she wants to keep the toad.  She turns up her nose.

So I tell her that she will have to let the toad go if she isn't willing to feed it the food it needs to live.

She makes several faces, accompanied by several hand flicks that indicate the level of grossness this project has reached.  And then she recruits her sister to go hunt for bugs with her.

Off they go into the rain drenched yard to find bugs.  Miss E is dressed in a Tinkerbell nightgown and flip flops.  Smiley Girl has popsicle pajamas on with a pair of pink cowboy books.  They are ready to hunt.

Like any good mom I look out occasionally to make sure they aren't having any luck.  But then I hear it.  The squeal of disgusting success.

It sends shivers down my spine.  They have found something gross.  And alive.  I wait patiently thinking that they may be too afraid to pick it up.  Hearing the squeals move closer I begin to panic.  I hear them just outside the garage and begin to pray.  This is a critical time.  If they can't manipulate the bug and the door I may be home free.  More squeals.  They are coming closer.  A really bad squeal and then "MOOOOOOM!!!!!"

I open the door from the house to the garage to see two soaking wet children.  Smiley Girl - clearly nominated the 'digger' - has mud up to her elbows.  Miss E is carrying a shovel.  "Is this a slug?" she asks, pointing to the thing desperately trying to escape death by seven year old.

{I HAVE NO IDEA!  I don't do bugs.  I stay inside with a book.  And laundry!}

"Close enough" I tell them.

And with a floosh and a twirl I grab a container that will become the toads new home and manage to plop the sluggish looking thing into the dish.  Whew!

I direct Miss E to drill holes in the lid of the new container.  A fight breaks out over who gets to do the drilling.  Eventually the drill battery dies.  I watch as the creature tries to find his footing.  The poor thing.  His death is forthcoming.

I put the lid on the container, the battery on the charger and head back to my book.

Pretty soon they are back to finish the job.  Anxious to have this over with I drill the holes in the lid.  And we have a small scream ceremony where Mr Toad is moved from his small container to his new digs.

I give this toad a day, two at the most.  Pray for him please.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How to make Hungarian Goulash (almost)

Ingredients:

1 lb sirloin steak
Olive oil
Beef broth
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp onion powder
¼ tsp Paprika
1 small can tomato soup
Egg noodles

Directions:

Step 1:  Acquire gobs of meat from your generous sister in law’s freezer.  Discuss making Hungarian Goulash.  Compare recipes that you were each given along with recipes on The Google and various other places. 

Step 2:  After one week take 1 package of Sirloin out of the freezer and allow to thaw overnight. 

Step 3:  Pour 1 tbsp Olive Oil into crockpot. 

Step 4:  Cut meat into 1” cubes, trimming fat.

Step 4:  Dump meat into crockpot.

Step 5:  Add generous amounts of salt and pepper and enough water/broth/boullion/stuff to cover.

Step 6:  Cook on High for as long as it takes you to take two children to school and one adult to work to do accountanty stuff for two hours, pick preschooler up, run three errands, talk to two people, order a BLT Crunchwrap from Taco Bell and return home..  Approx 5 hours.

Step 7A:  Remove cooked meat from crockpot, dividing into two portions – one for this meal and one for the freezer.

Step 7B:  Put one portion of meat, 1 Tbsp flour and approx. 1 cup of broth taken from crockpot into sauce pan.  Stir.

Step 8:  Add one small can of Tomato Soup, a little more broth and salt and pepper if needed.  Add about 1 Tbsp onion powder and ¼ teaspoon paprika.

Step 9:  Stir together.  Taste.  Think.  Furrow brow.  Stir.

Step 10:  Place lid of sauce pan and place in fridge.

Step 11:  Drive to friends house, visit for a bit, pick up oldest child from school, return to friends house, chat and do last minute crafty stuff until 5:20pm.

Step 12A:  Return home, discover that after removing meat and all broth from the crockpot you failed to turn it off.  Try to scrape burned on bits off of the bottom before the crock cools.

Step 12B:  Start a pan of ‘Noodle Water’, deal with backpacks, pick up random dishes, start a load of laundry.

Step 13:  Add noodles to water, place ‘Sauce’ pan on burner and low to medium-ish heat.

Step 14:  Make your own bed, pick up Mardi Gras beads neighbor brought over, debate cleaning off your dresser.  Decide you can’t deal with that mess.

Step 15:  Return to kitchen, realize that ‘Sauce’ is burning.  Attempt to rescue this train wreck by scraping unburned portion into a cereal bowl.

Step 16:  Drain noodles.

Step 17:  Serve noodles covered by sauce and meat except for the following:
Pink plate:  noodles with sauce and meat
Purple plate:  Create an invisible line on the plate. Place noodles on one side of line, cover with small amount of ONLY sauce.  Place meat on the other side of the line.
                               
Step 18:  Eat. Furrow brow.  Ponder.  (Too tired to think.)  Eat.  Wonder what your sister in law would think.  Wonder what husband would think.

Step 19:  Write blog post.

Step 20:  Argue with oldest child about need for a bath.

Step 21:  Mix together youngest daughters remaining food and eat.


Recipe duplication rating:  Almost.  The texture is right on, flavor feels like it is lacking something. My best guess is hot sauce but it could be tomato paste.
Easy of cooking:  Very easy.
East of cleaning up;  I don't even want to think about it.




Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jesus Loves Me in the checkout line

Standing in the checkout line I was beyond frustrated.  My kids had been mostly good throughout the store but there were quite a few sibling fires that I had put out.  I was tired from the lack of sleep that usually accompanies a major holiday and tired from playing referee to the girls...and tired of dealing with the monster that rears it's head in my daughter every time we walk into a store.

Want.

"I want this.  I want this.  I really want this.  I want that, but I also want this.  Can we buy this?  How much does it cost?  Well, you have $xx.xx.  You are mean."

Yesterday they asked if we could look at fish, so we did because I needed to take a phone call and it seemed like an innocent distraction. Except that with a Wanter already going full speed ahead it became an all out fight because Miss E wanted a fish.  And she wanted it now.

Pets have been a recent request at our house.  We currently have none.  And while cute and cuddly, most of them take a lot of work.  But Miss E reasoned...a fish just needs food.  Right?

I try to find teachable moments so I told her the prices of various fish and then showed her the supplies that she would need to go along with the fish - hoping desperately that understanding of how much things cost would help her Wanter to lay off a bit.  It didn't.

Instead it brought about a full on pout.  And that is how we arrived that the checkout.

So there I am, praying that the people in front of me will move quickly and that nothing comes out of my mouth that will land me in an evidence video on someone's phone or in the DHS office explaining that while I threatened a four year old with abandonment I absolutely never would do such a thing.

It was bad.

Two ladies entered the line behind us and clearly overhearing yet another attempt to explain to Miss E why we don't get everything we want in life, one of them said to Miss E "Your mom needs a hug.  You should hug her."  She then demonstrated by giving her own mom a hug and saying "You are never too old to give your mom a hug."

We inched forward in line as I was busy telling one child or another why we weren't going to buy every single item that marketing geniuses and mother haters have conveniently crammed into the checkout area.  It's enough to make a mother lose her mind.

And then I see the lady in front of us turn to Miss E, slip something into her hand and tell her "That is for you to share with your sister.  You can both get something."  I shuffled myself around to see what exactly had just happened and realize that the woman had just given my daughter a large denomination bill.  I was stunned.

Both girls thanked the woman, though I think they didn't really understand what had happened.  With tears in my eyes I offered my thanks as well.  And the woman responded with "God told me to do it.  He has His reason."  She then turned to the girls and said "Do you know Jesus?  Do you know the song Jesus Loves Me?" as she began to sing the first few lines.  I realize that both of the ladies behind us have started to sing as well and literally the only thought in my head is that only the Lord could orchestrate a checkout line full of people singing 'Jesus Loves Me'!

I am overwhelmed at the outpouring of love I felt standing in the checkout line.  Jesus does love me.  And today I find myself so thankful for the ladies that took a minute to act on the Lord's prompting to encourage our family.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love wins.

My husband disagrees with me on television but this morning, I am very happy that we don't have network television in our home.  I am happy that our little home is one not filled with images and celebrations of the gay community.

I don't hate gay people.  But I don't believe that their 'win' is really as great of a win as they would like to believe.

And I don't want my young daughters seeing women marrying women because the supreme court said that it's okay.  They will see it - don't get me wrong - but they don't have to have it streamed to them twelve hours a day.

Because here is the thing:  Whether a man and a man can legally get married or a woman and a woman can be on the same health insurance policy or not = God' Truth doesn't change.

God still sits on the Throne and He still makes the rules.  And in the end, His love is the one that wins.

But in the mean time the world is going to do everything that it possibly can to try to destroy Truth.  The world doesn't understand that Truth doesn't change.  And it can't be destroyed.

It is, and He is, the great I Am.  Period.

So, legally, in America a woman can marry a woman.  And a man who still is a man but altered himself into a woman can marry a woman or a man.  It's legal.

But it really isn't so simple.

Yes, yes, I know, those who are so much more knowledgeable and educated than me will use mountains of ginormous words designed to confuse the argument and make me sound like a stupid snively woman that allows God to ruin my fun.  They will 'prove' that I am brainwashed into believing in a God that they know doesn't exist.  They know all about this God that they have never cared to have a relationship with.  Good for them.

America has begun a slippery decline...one day the choice facing the court will be more personal.  It will affect the individual American with greater impact.  And the precedent has been set.  The moral code is gone.  The rights of an individual state have been stripped.  And it isn't going to be pretty.

And I know, I know... that will never happen.  Except that one hundred years ago people would have thought the debate on abortion ridiculous because of course human life is precious.  And fifty years ago our parents never would have thought about marriage being redefined.

But the bigger thing isn't about rights in America.  The bigger thing is that one day everyone will stand before the Lord and they will be judged.  I don't matter.  Your neighbor doesn't matter.  The state you live in doesn't matter.  But God does.  And He will deal severely with those who have mocked him.

So, mock away.  Tell me how horrible I am that I have such antiquated beliefs.  Tell me how ridiculous I am to want to protect my children by surrounding them with God's truth rather than the world's ridicule of it.  Take the symbol of God's Promise and destroy it.

Love wins.  God wins.

The God that created you, the same one that spoke the earth into being, also has a plan for you.  He wants to know you intimately and to have a relationship with you.  He doesn't want you to spend the next life in the fiery pits of hell.  He wants to spend it with you.  And He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to make that possible.

If you want to know more about God's ultimate Love - the love that wins - reach out to me.  I would love to talk more with you about Him.  Find a Bible or the Bible app on your phone and start with the book of John.

True Love wins.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My next thing

It's a funny thing, the way that an idea will begin.  I will be working on something, usually at the kitchen sink, and little thoughts begin to become bigger thoughts.  It usually begins with thoughts about something I have read recently and the points that spoke to me filtered through truths that I know.   I find inspiration in that place.

And I struggle with wanting to re-write what I read to make it mine, not to steal, just to capture the printed word and customize it to my heart.

But I can't.

They wouldn't be my words.

They would forever be someone else's that I took.

And here is the thing -

That's okay.

Because that author said yes to the ideas and truths that formed her heart.  And I can take from them to learn and grow, but they will never be mine.

That path wasn't mine from the start.

And it's a funny thing  - of choosing the right path and saying yes and knowing that the things I said yes to were created to be mine - that leads to contentment.

And while contentment can easily be pushed away by wants and the world, that place of contentment is where I want to stay.

So this morning as a ruminate on these words:


And the truth that God is in it all, and that His plan doesn't end with this world.

Because we spoke of the bigger goal of family the other day and it is good to be reminded that every choice we make affects that family.  Everything I say yes to.  Everything I turn away from.  Every sacrifice we both make.  Every time we seek the Lord.  Every everything.

And I find comfort there.

Comfort that for today, my next step is to do the next thing.

To start another load of laundry, to hang it on the line.

To dress my hoodlums and head out to see friends.

To make a grocery list.

To take time to laugh with cute girls and to point their hearts toward God.

To pray with their Daddy over the things that touch his heart.

To seek God in each step.

Because this is a life created by the One with the Master Plan.  And while I don't know every road this life will take, He does.  And slowly we are making the life intended for us.

One next thing at a time.

One yes to the things that are mine.

One yes to the people placed in my care.

One yes to my Creator.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dave the American

Last week as many in America debated the definition of courage a man who embodied courage slipped from this life into the next.  His name didn't make a magazine cover, it was limited instead to a few lines under the 'Obituary' section.


David Peterson, American, will be honored tomorrow by family, friends and those from his community. 

Most of you have never heard Dave's name before - yet you owe him a debt of gratitude.  You see, Dave is a hero.  Dave, at the age of 19 was drafted into the military and shipped off to Europe.  World War II was raging as Dave became one of the 1,800 men that made up the Devil's Brigade. 

Earlier this year their unit was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal - the highest civilian honor given by Congress.  The medal was a long time coming - Dave turned 91 on his last birthday. 

Dave returned from the war, re-entered the work force, joined the Operating Engineers Local No. 324 and played a part in rebuilding our country.  Dave also played a part in my husband's growing up years - an honorary grandpa of sorts. 

 
And that is why this hat sits on our dining room table.  When Dave was heading for the warm Florida sunshine a few years ago he asked what TDM would like to have - and TDM choose the hat.  A symbol of a courageous friend.

Think what you will of wars, unions and heroes.  I know what a hero looks like - and that's Dave.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

He's having a wife!

We spent this weekend in another town, doing other town things and attending the wedding of a friend.  The wedding was precious, just like the bride and was held in a chapel at the camp that the bride and groom grew up (and in love) attending. 


At the very beginning of the ceremony the pastor said "We are having a wedding."  And then he went on to tell a story about a young boy that complained of his ribs hurting after learning that God created woman out of Adam's rib.  The boy was pretty sure that he was going to have a wife that night.  The pastor then said that yesterday's groom was 'having a wife' today.  It was sweet.

And a minute later Smiley Girl looked up at me, sparkles in her eyes and she said "We're having a wedding!"  Followed by "He's having a wife!" 

The things that she latches onto and that make her eyes sparkle!

At the reception we were strategically seated at a table in the far corner.  This turned out to be the hot spot for the six and under crowd.  Several kiddo's found their way to our corner to do Ketchup and Ranch shots and play with My Little Pony's.  Our girls had a lot of fun even though you can ask either one and they will tell you that the whole thing was 'not fun' and that they 'just wanted to sit in the car'. 


These children are clearly beyond miserable. 

Smiley Girl consumed large amounts of "Srawbey's."  And chocolate.  Always chocolate.

 
Both girls tried to catch the bouquet but weren't eager enough.

Miss E gave the Electric Slide a chance but quickly announced that she was 'a little embarrassed'.

I had too much to drink. 

 
And we stayed out until almost 10:30.  At night.

This morning we took advantage of the hotel pool.  The water appeared extra-super blue.  Like superman ice cream on steroids.  And by the time we left the pool we realized that somehow - either the nature of the blue pool liner - or the balance of chemicals working against the pool liner - parts of us had turned blue. 

The girls thought that perhaps people would mistake us for Violet Beauregard on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  I will spare you a picture of my blue-ish toes.
 
After rinsing some blue off we dressed, loaded the car and made for a store that is TDM's style.  We managed to leave there without a bunny, chicken or duck - which given the persuasion techniques that were employed is a victory. 
 
From there we headed for the wonders of Ponderosa {which are much more wonderful when you are six} and in true 'us' style we told the kids that we had to hurry to beat the 'church crowd'.  Miss E seemed a little confused until I told her that it was exactly like trying to beat the busses out of the school parking lot.  Either get a move on or sit waiting.  They moved.  We visited the buffet about eighteen times while Miss E carefully selected THREE things.  And then we headed home.
 
It was a good weekend.
 
And in case you haven't been entertained enough, check out the conversation I had with Miss E a few minutes ago:
 
"Mommy, how do you spell 'Ing'?

I'm in the other room and I am not sure that I heard her right, so I have her repeat it.  And I'm still not sure so I say "Use it in a sentence."  Even though as it is coming out of my mouth I am not sure that she even knows what that means.

So she does.  "I want to invite my friends over."

Huh?!

"Do you want to spell 'friend'?"

"No, I want to spell 'Ing'."

So I spell I-n-g for her and she is happy.

And, naturally I am confused about the whole exchange but life is good and she has moved on.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Still

Several months ago an artistic friend pinned a few pictures to Pinterest and decided to open her home to creativity.  Time to work on the picture that caught my eye was scheduled for this past Saturday morning.  So I went.

And I relaxed and laughed and enjoyed being creative.

And I came home with this:

It has been propped up in the kitchen since I got home on Saturday and my eyes keep roaming over the verse.  So it is no surprise that it was one of my first thoughts this morning - after a night spent wrestling with myself over all of the things that I usually waste my mind on whenever I think that I should worry.

Heading into the shower "Be still and know that I am God" took on some music and before I knew it I found myself dressed and using the Google to find "Still" by Hillsong.


{My 90's self with a song stuck in my head had nothing on the opportunities that stand ready and waiting at the touch of a few buttons.}

I love this song and have no doubt that it will be stuck in my head for at least a few days.  And I love all that Psalm 46 has to say. 
 
Psalm 46
 
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
thought it's waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
 
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the Holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
 
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
 
Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
 
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted among the earth."
 
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
 
My rest doesn't come from borrowing worries, throwing barbs with my husband or rainy Mondays.  Rest comes from the Lord, I need only be still and know my Savior. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Easter & Spring Break

I am actually blogging with pictures today.  Don't get used to it.  :)
 
Our Spring Break kicked off with a lot of naps and family celebrations.  I like naps.  And regardless of how *not tired* the girls said they were they both took 3 to 3 1/2 hour naps on Friday and Saturday. 
 
Did I mention that I like naps?
 
The girls and I went to my cousins house Friday afternoon for dinner and an Easter Egg hunt.  The kids hunted plastic eggs, played with cousins and enjoyed jumping on the 'trump-o-line'.
 
We spent Saturday evening at my parents house with a few friends.  The evening concluded with decorating Easter Eggs.  Because we are masters of procrastination.  And we are awesome.
 

 
Sunday was a hard day.  The reality of preparing for a holiday dinner without TDM's mom brought some emotions that I wasn't prepared for.  I was quite factual about everything that was happening when she was sick and then it hit like a ton of bricks Easter morning - usually there would be about 18 phone calls back and forth between TDM's parents house, our house and the farm.  There weren't any phone calls.  I wish I could say that TDM and I worked together to bake pies and get other dishes ready to take to his brothers but that wasn't the case.  Emotions are tricky things, and I am learning that they don't usually present themselves the way that you expect them to.  It was a hard morning, and it got harder when we arrived at his dad's house for an egg hunt.  She wasn't there.  And she won't ever be there again.  It was hard and there was sadness and a few tears.  And I think that after the initial realization and pain that the day turned out pretty well.  We went to TDM's brothers house where the food was plentiful, the kids had a blast and it turned into a relaxing evening of being together.  Oh!  And there was pie.
 
 
Which meant that there was my favorite-est thing about pie:  Leftover pie!  So I did what anyone would do and had it for breakfast on Monday to help me come down from the sugar high of the weekend. 
 
On Tuesday the girls had an out of town dentist appointment.  We left early, drove to where there is a Hobby Lobby AND a Big Red Store.  For a few minutes Miss E was worried that the trip to the Big Red Store might end in failure but as we were checking out she saw that they FINALLY had popcorn made so all of life was instantly made better.  And there was even enough time to pick the popcorn kernels out of everyone's teeth before we saw the dentist.
 
Two checkups, one cavity, a couple of hours at the Burger King play land and we headed home.
 
We spent Wednesday with some friends where Smiley Girl 'sworded' everyone and Miss E picked up the toys and organized them.  The mama's had a good time too!  And we had an awesome conversation about borrowed socks. 
 
Smiley Girl:  Oh no, oh no, oh no!  We forgot to give Hankah's his socks!  (Not his name, she just sounds like a girl from the New England states!)
Me:  It's okay, we will wash them and give them back to him.
Miss E:  But they will have girl cooties on them!
Me:  It's okay, we will wash them with daddy's clothes and that will take any girl cooties off of them.
 
Thursday morning we threw clothes, snacks and 12 Barbie's in the car for an adventure to Uncle Pedro's house.  After a quick trip to Walmart to replace our car DVD player we were on our way.  It was pretty rainy and I did have a small-ish panic attack going across the bridge.  But then I realized that the absolute worst thing that could happen is that the whole bridge would collapse and we would plummet into the water below.  And then I realized that I probably wouldn't live long and then I would see Jesus so it would be okay.  Instead we made it across to see this:
 

And I couldn't resist snapping this picture of Hardee's to torment TDM with.  He loves Hardee's and used to go there for breakfast whenever he could when he was on the road.


Once at Uncle Pedro's we played with the Wooh's which are now called dogs, Uncle Pedro made taco's out of kids, we ate meals made from cheese TWO nights in a row and just enjoyed being with them.

Friday night Miss E was invited to go to work for a little while with Aunt GG.  Aunt GG works at a little store right near their house.  Think of it as the original Wal-mart.  They have a little of everything.  Gas, groceries, liquor, hardware, hand scooped ice cream and a little deli.  It's a fun place and Miss E had a lot of fun helping.  She got to put expiration dates on a few items with the sticker gun, scan a few purchases, straighten the shelves and she made a couple of George Washington's ($1 bills) as tips. 

Saturday morning Uncle Pedro and Aunt GG were leaving for a backpacking trip so after eating French toast and bacon and saying our goodbyes we headed for home.  But we had to take a couple of detours.

The first one was just about a mile out of the way.  This little bit of metal randomness is alongside the highway and after the girls spotted it last year it seemed like a good thing to drive by again.

 
There is also a giant mosquito and what looks like the beginnings of a dinosaur but I they weren't being very photogenic.


The weather was much nicer for our trip back across the bridge.


We came home a different way than we went - which worked out great because there is a Hobby Lobby in that town too!


Did you catch that?  I went to Hobby Lobby twice (TWICE!) in one week!  We also went to whatever the Gordon Food Service store is called these days (I always flash back to having to answer the phone with a very sunny and professional "Gordon Food Service Marketplace" when the stores were rebranded in like 1993.)  And as we were leaving town TDM sent a urgent request that we stop and buy a part for his truck.

It wasn't buyers choice though.  He was all picky about it being a certain part number and that it fit his truck.

Boys.

I even drove a little out of the way to show this bit of excitement to the girls but by the time we got there both girls were fast asleep and they missed it.  It's close to home though so I can take them to see it any time.  And maybe I will drag TDM along too - because he didn't even know it existed until someone told him. 


Take note:  This is precisely why you take a different route and drive down roads that you don't have any reason to drive down. 

And yes, that is two cars face planted in the ground. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Of sentiments and sagginess

TDM had to take care of an out of town errand yesterday and we made a family trip out of it.  Well, most of the family.  Miss E was camped out at Anna & Papa's house with no intention of coming home even a second before she had to.  Smiley Girl fell asleep a few miles outside of town and the combination of sunshine, riding next to my favorite man and a sleeping child made it really feel more like a mini-date than a mission. 

After our normal dose of bugging the snot out of each other, because that's what we do best, TDM got a tad sentimental.

"Ten years" he said.  "It feels like two."

And I agreed.  Because it does.  And it feels like twenty.  And the blink of an eye.  All rolled into one.

He continued "We were young and full of life.  And now we are just old.  And saggy."

Which then lead into a conversation about how and where a 90 year old woman with breast implants would sag.

We are pretty mushy like that, you know?  But it was fun to think back in time for a minute.  Because we were young, even though we felt old.  And we were filled with a lifetime full of someday dreams.  And now we stand a decade down that road and most of those someday dreams are our reality.  And God has taken care of us each step of the way. 

Every time that our eyes came off of Him and every time that calling it quits seemed like the answer.  Every time we questioned the reason.  Every bad choice.  Every season of rebuilding.  Every single step.  He has been there.  And I am so thankful.

Because it has been ten years of hard.  And ten years of I would totally do it again.  Ten years of holding each other's hand - us against the world.  And whether the struggles were personal, financial, spiritual or the ugliness of infertility.  Or my spiral of depression that we both had to walk.  TDM never gave up on me.  And God never gave up on us.  

And it wasn't until I was laying in bed last night with this husband of mine beside me that I realized that yesterday WAS an anniversary.  Not our 10th - that isn't until next month.  It was our 12th.  And how thankful I am that those first date jitters are a thing of the past. 

We wandered around looking at boats - I really liked the pontoons.  And I saw a Thunderbird up close.  And we went to Wiltse's.  And he impressed me because his truck was spotless.  Spotless!  And we talked for hours.  And my heart fluttered with hope.  Could this be the man I had prayed for? 

And it wasn't long until that first had multiplied into many.  And the truck was no longer clean.  But I didn't care.  Because I knew that this was a man who would hold my heart.  And my forever.  And trucks didn't matter.  Only being together did.

Only being together does.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Casseroles and Adversity

We eat a lot of casseroles for dinner.  My kids don't like them.


And being the mean mom that I am, I don't really care.

1} Why Casseroles?

Because why not love a one pot wonder that can make leftovers look like new food, shave big bucks off your budget, be prepped early in the day, baked prior to serving and the leftovers reheat in 45 seconds?

Seriously.

2} Why don't my kids like them?

Because they are kids.  They don't really know what they like.  And they hate everything.  And because kids taste everything with their eyes.  None of which are valid reasons for me to change my cooking.

3}  Why don't I care?

Bottom line?  Because I believe that life is made up of a lot of things that they will have little to no control over and that there is no time like the present to learn some coping skills. 

Sure, they may not like everything set before them but there is usually something that they do like hidden in there.  On tonight's menu is Tater Tot Casserole.  They may not like gravy or vegetables but on any given night one kid will usually like ground beef while the other one favors tater tots. 

You see, I am of the mindset that there is something good to be found in everyone.  Or in every thing.  And in every casserole.

I don't care if they grow up and never want to eat another casserole.  That's perfectly fine with me.  But I DO care if they grow up having never been made to deal with adversity (yes, I know that I am talking tater tots here!) or disappointment.

One of my favorite sayings is on a plaque in our kitchen.

"Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."

It's good stuff.  Because I think it is a small part of a bigger picture.

Psalm 118:24 says "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." 

That's the picture I focus on.  I may not like every day, but I can rejoice in it because God made it.  I may not like every meal, but I can be thankful for it and find the good in it, because God provided it.

And my kids might not like the subtle lesson that they are learning via casserole but I am guessing that one random day in the future they might realize that there was something bigger than a casserole going on.

~

If you are interested:

Tater Tot Casserole (dairy free)

3/4 to 1 lb browned ground beef
2/3rds of a bag of frozen mixed vegetables
enough frozen tater tots to cover the top
gravy

Heat and stir together 4 Tbsp olive oil and 4 Tbsp flour.  When it becomes a paste gradually add 2 cups of beef broth, salt and pepper and whatever else might sound yummy to you.  I usually add a splash or two of Kitchen Bouquet browning seasoning for a little flavor and color.  Continue stirring and bring to a boil.  Continue stirring until mixture reaches desired thickness.  You can always add a little water if it gets too thick too quickly.

Dump the vegetables and ground beef into an 8x8 baking dish, pour gravy over and then cover the top with tater tots.

Bake until vegetables are warmed through and tater tots are beginning to get crispy.  {425 degrees for 25 minutes is a guideline but you may have to play around to find what works the best for you.  I prefer 375-400 range and allow to bake while children ride their bikes and make a mess waiting for daddy to get home.}

Enjoy!

Ha!  As if anything is that simple!  Clear the table, grab plates and remove baby or toys from underfoot.  Do NOT attempt to set the table.  Ever.  Instead serve from beside the stove and save yourself eons of time in keeping small children away from the table.  Pour drinks.  Clean up at least one spill.  Sit down at the table, pray together, remove small child from underneath table.  Remember drink for yourself.  Sit down prior to remembering salt and pepper.  Don't forget to hide salt and pepper from small child.  Eat.  Explain why whatever food group you are trying to get child to eat is good for them.  Bribe them with laughter.  Or Mr McGregor.  Or whatever it takes to get them to take a few bites.   Get through the meal mama! 

You can do this!  Bed time is only a few short hours away.  So is tomorrow...but just focus on bed time.  By tomorrow morning you will love those little darlings with your whole heart all over again.  Because God's mercies...kind of like casserole recipes...are new every morning!