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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

cookie.

Cookie.
Or The real reason I'm not in charge of the bake sale at school.
Or Why I love Wednesdays.
We spent the morning tithing Dan's paycheck to Costco and shelling out $179.00 for an oil change after the mechanic convinced me that I'd probably wreck the car and combust the baby if I drove around for another minute on my old serpentine belt.  And that he just couldn't let me go into the winter season with wipers in such bad shape.  And that synthetic engine oil is so pure I'd surely notice the difference once I switched over, as if.  I texted Dan to let him know oil changes are now his responsibility.  After all, ten out of nine studies show that if you want to get out of doing something, do it so poorly that they'll never ask you again.  We headed home to regain our confidence and prove that a woman's place really is in the kitchen.
So I made chocolate chip cookies for a special after school treat.  Lucky for them that's not the only trick I have up my sleeve.  There is also squash roasting in the oven and applesauce bubbling on the stove, neither of which they will probably like because the squash will have a weird consistency and someone will find a toenail (seed pocket) in the applesauce.  But all three things felt like the right thing to do on a cold, rainy fall day when your baby is sleeping and you could be too.


So, why this cookie handicap?  If there is anyone out there schooled in cookie chemistry, please weigh in, because I have never, ever made a batch that has turned out.  At this point my friend Andrea (you know who you are), if she ever read my blog, would be laughing hysterically.  As it is, I'll have to text a picture to her to get the ball rolling.  She'll think I'm an idiot, which I undoubtedly am, and then we'll dish over what gluten free, dairy free, sugar free dye-free dinner we're making for tonight.  None of this will make me feel like less of an dummy.  Which is why it's easier to either hate cookies or just eat the dough raw, check and check.
In an effort to save face, I have scraped these geriatric bits of former gluten free goodness off my last remaining cookie sheet and am soaking them in milk in the hopes that they recover some of their moisture and form before the bus pulls up at 4:15.  And if I wasn't taking the girls to Post Family Farms in the morning to see our favorite Great Aunt Joy flip doughnuts I'd be totally in despair over what to bake for the play date I'm having here in the afternoon.  Instead I'll just buy an extra dozen and call it good.  And if either of the women asks my secret I'll tell them to leave the baking up to Great Aunt Joy.  Or Betty Crocker.


This is me being real.  Crappy at baking.  Good at humility.
Happy Wednesday.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

green.

We had an agreement.  We had to wait until we were thirteen, but for our girls eight would do.  Eight years of being little girls whose only adornments would be hair ribbons and jam in the corners of their mouths.  And then, when we'd licked all the jam off and probably cried a few tears, we'd take them to Claires in the mall and let someone give them earrings.  And even though Beatrice isn't quite eight yet, she did it today.  We couldn't come, but we met her in the park after so we could see the teeny butterflies taking flight on soft lobes.  And when we returned home, Tess whispered in quiet voice, "I feel a little jealous, mama."
Of course, baby.  That's what always happens when someone gets something you really want.  And it's not so bad to feel jealous for a bit, but that's a bitter root that you can't let grow deep in or it'll spit forth a harvest of bad feelings and yucky fruit.  I know.  I've grown that root many times.  Have had to pluck that rotten fruit and ask God to excise that weed.  I know.
So we set a timer for four minutes.  Four minutes to nurse her hurt at not being the one.  But the quiet beep ushered in the time to put that away.  Trade it for happiness at Bea's fun.  And there was jealousy in a rotten heap, felt keenly and then left behind where it belonged.  And some sweet time on the couch reading books in soft voices, accompanied by the crinkle of caramel wrappers and the soft sigh of warm blankets being tugged up under chin.  Sweet Saturday.
This is me being real.  Content.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

enough.

I miss the beach.  Miss digging my toes in and watching the kids battle the waves while I catch up with sisters and mom, Mol and I taking turns running to the water line and shouting reminders to come back to shallower waters and put a lifejacket on.  Miss finishing sentences, sometime so many that I'd run out.  But only for sec and then more would stream into mind and out of mouth and we'd be off again.  And the hour and a half we snatched Monday didn't come close, despite candy corn and cousins reunited.  But it did birth this thought: shouldn't motherhood be enough?  For one sister (you know who you are) it always has been, but for me and the other sister it hasn't.  So why is it that we feel the need to join groups and lead discussions and part-time ourselves out in the name of being productive?  Why?  No answers, just a lovely drive home committing to let motherhood be enough.  To not fight the battle between aching that my kids are gone all day and wishing Lucy were too so I could have more time to myself, but to fall somewhere in the middle where I can accept both emotions as they come and just be.  Here.  With these people, whichever ones are home.  Doing this thing called motherhood.  And recognizing that this is my ministry.  This kitchen is my street corner and from it I can preach the salvation of my children and their friends and I can help to nourish bodies and souls and I get to do this.  Not have to.  Get to.  That is my divine privilege.  That when God said to let the little children come to him and do not hinder them for to them belongs his Kingdom, he was actually talking to me.  And I'm listening again, because I forgot to listen to that directive for a bit, but I'm listening now.  And I'm committing myself to more days at home in warm nummies, some British guy reading the Jesus Storybook Bible from the computer and making this place a refuge and a church for my family.  And not feeling guilty that I'm not on the PTO or baking cookies for the school fundraiser or a million other things that can pull me away from here.  Because this is my street corner.  And it is enough.
This is me being real.

Friday, September 16, 2011

zipper.

This is called the zipper.
It's a death trap.  I'd never let my children ride it.  But my friend would (you know who you are, darn you) and she convinced me that only the most over protective namby pamby mother would deprive her son the chance to become a man in eight and a half minutes with only two tickets and a solid constitution.  One of those steel cages holds my son.  I stood below getting sick just trying to figure out which was his and waiting for vomit to come spewing out the mesh.  Never.  Again. 
My life has felt like this ride lately.  Yours?  But now I can see that the ride is slowing down and I'm feeling like I've nearly made it through.  Been delivered.  But I'm trying hard not to get ahead of myself since I do that all the time and then I have to get back on and learn some humility and trust again.  And I hate it on the Zipper.  But I love getting off.  And looking back and seeing how hard and dangerous and scary it was and yet how safely I'd been held the whole time.  Because a fine mesh piece of government steel and a worn seatbelt have nothing on being in the very hand of God.  Did you hear me?  In the very hand of God. 
So, while I'm praying the Zipper stops soon and I can get off and get my legs under me, I'm being held and that's the best place to be.  No tickets, so puck bucket, no regrets.  Just strap me into God's hand and start teaching me about trust and letting go.
What ride are you on?
This is me being real.  And packing my boys off to deer camp so they can bring home the jerky.  And realizing that the case of tomato sauce I bought at Costco is not the same thing as diced canned tomatoes and has created a chili that tastes and looks like vegetables and organic beef swimming in Heinz Ketchup.  Sigh.

Monday, September 12, 2011

adios.

 We said goodbye to summer in the best way we knew how: by gathering at the cottage for one last beach day.  Except that the water was warmer than the air, so while all the kids were brave enough to take to the waves, they quickly hustled themselves upstairs and into warm tubbies and soft towels. 
Except for Lulu and Nana.  They could have stayed forever.  But there was a table groaning under the weight of gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free goodness and 22 people ready to dig in.  But only so far.  Because we had to save room for s'mores (which are not gluten, dairy or sugar free and that makes them even yummier).
 There were cousins (best friends) who we are blessed to see all the time, but who always act likes it's been years.  Years.  Just hafta see you again.
 And curly lips covered in chocolate gooeyness.
 And girls in matching ribbons tied by Aunt Jenna and reminding me of myself when I was little.
And, oh seriously.  Someone is going to have to kiss that off.
And at some point you have to look around and think to yourself, 
Self?  You are the most blessed self in the world.  Just look at these people you get to do life with.  They are beautiful and real and they love Jesus and make him look good.  They challenge you and encourage you and pray for you and a million other things that make them your family and you the luckiest gal on earth.  Because the cottage, second only to my own home and maybe London, is my favorite place.  And mostly that's because it's filled with my favorite people on earth.  With sisters who sit and knit and solve parenting problems and cousins who never fight but are each other's best friends and a matriarch and patriarch who cover the whole crazy mess in prayer and love.  This is the good life.  Seriously.
There were cousins merry-making in the flickering light of the fire, making a pyramid and effectively killing Nana's aspirations for a Christmas card photo this early in the season.  But also having one last chance to get sand in their toes.  And their hair.  
And we helped close the place down for the season by bringing up the beach toys and watching Papa stack the furniture.  We'd have helped, but it turns out there's a system for even that, so we just hauled stuff over and left him to it.  There was a last batch of Papa's famous popcorn and a last trampoline jump and a last time to totally make a tangled mess of the ladder golf game.
And then, at the end of the night, s'mores in full tummies and beach bag bulging with left-overs to take home, with tired people strapped into seats and the fire burning itself out on the beach, with a last glimpse of Nana and Papa waving from the stone walkway, we said our goodbyes to summer.
We love summer.  But now we're running eagerly into fall's cool arms and looking forward to warm nummies and crinkly leaves and hot dogs in the outside fireplace.  Goodbye summer.  Hello fall.
This is me being real.

Monday, September 5, 2011

calm.

The disciples were out in a boat with Jesus.  Fishermen, most of them.  Used to stormy weather and quick-blowing gales.  But this storm was a doozy.  And they were afraid.  But not Jesus.  He was sleeping.  So they woke him up with their terrified cries, which he responded to by chastising them for their teeny faith and then he spoke.  The wind and the rain and the seas listened.  He needed only to say one word and they stilled.  They knew his voice, had heard it before when he spoke them into being.  And they stilled.  Because he's the King and they always listen to the King.
We read this story tonight snuggled under soft lovies and leaning against big bear's belly on Peter's bed.  And we spoke our fears out loud, because naming them makes them less scary, steals their power to immobilize. Because the God we serve who has the power to stop a storm with a word, also has the power to calm fears about multi-night sleep-overs and a bully in your new classroom and fears about the future and how it all turns out.  And if the wind and rain calm when they hear his voice, we should too. It's a familiar voice to us too, after all.  I've listened to it speak my name in tiny whispers in still moments and in loud bellows when I refused to listen.  Which I've done a lot of times, unfortunately.  But tonight I'm straining to hear it over my own inner voices and the lies of the evil one and a hundred and five other things that work together to sound a big cacophony that makes it easy to not hear the voice of the King.  But it's the only voice that can calm the storm.
And so on this eve of sending my people off to a new school year, I'm working hard to strain all the noises until the static is quieted and God's voice comes through clear and calm.  And I'm praising him that when we call out, he always shows up.  Does it every time.  If you don't believe me, try it.  Because the Bible says that the very creation cries out and we are his greatest creation.  So I'm going to fall asleep tonight playing that story on a looping run in my head.  Storm.  Cries.  Word.  Calm.  Sweet Jesus.
This is me being real.  And wondering what storms you need Jesus to speak into.

Friday, September 2, 2011

anticipation.

a conversation with my nine year old...
me  "I think Lulu is going to be lonely next week when everyone disappears and she's left with just me for entertainment."
him  "Yeah.  I'll probably miss her for the first few days.  But I'll be so busy adjusting to fourth grade that I won't miss her too much.  I won't, like, cry for her or anything."
"No, not crying.  Never that.  It's going to be Tuesday before we know it and then you'll be headed off on the bus and Lucy and me will come in and I'll probably cry for a bit because I'll have to adjust to you guys being gone, but I think Lucy will stand in this quiet house and wonder where did all my people go?  She'll think 'one minute my people were all here and now they aren't and I'm stuck with just mommy'."
"Poor Lulu."
"Because she's stuck with me or because she's probably going to spend the first little while of each day next week wondering where her people went?"
"Both."
"Just checking.  But you know, you'll head off and we'll be sad and then blam, it'll be June again and you'll be double digits and Peter'll be 8 and Tess will still be six and Lucy will be staring 3 in the eye and we'll have a whole new summer of grand adventures stretching out before us and it'll be great.  So great."
"I can't wait."
"Me either.  Hurry up and go to school so it can be summer again, huh?"
"Yup."