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Jan 30, 2012


I found a great recipe for chocolate pistachio biscotti from one of my favorite recipe websites. I've always had very good luck making her dishes, which are all Weight Watcher friendly while still being whole, healthy and yummy! She uses good ingredients and rarely includes anything completely fat free or fake. It's my go-to recipe site.

It's the same place I found my absolute favorite lemon cranberry scones, which are the bomb. Yes, that's right. The bomb.

Mine, as usual, didn't turn out as pretty as hers, but they're not too far from the original. I used fewer pistachios, only because the kids kept eating them before I could throw them into the dough. And I didn't bake mine a second time after cutting them. I thought they might be too hard for the kids to eat that way, but my softer version turned out perfectly.

The kids loved the dough as well as the final product. They are a hit.

Thanks, Gina!

Jan 28, 2012

Third Time's a Charm?

Lena's foray into potty training was in October last year when she peed on the potty for the first time. But after the glow of her initial accomplishment wore off, she was over it and didn't want anything to do with the toilet.

We jumped back into training for a week or so when we were home for the holidays. We even got her big girl underpants and the whole deal. But that was more us pushing than her wanting to try, which resulted in us steam cleaning the carpet a lot. She was totally disinterested. Strike two.

After we got Henry at the end of December, his potty training took precedent (I can only mentally handle potty training one at a time). So Lena's diapers have continued to fill up our garbage can.

Then the other day I saw that glazed look on her face and said "Let's poop on the potty". We ran in and got her on the toilet just in time. I was so excited and she was so proud! She went once more that night, once the next day and once today - all with her prompting.

She'll only poop though - no pee. Which seems strange since Sam was the other way around. But I'm not complaining that I've only changed one poopy diaper in the past four days, so I'll take it.

Will this third round be her charm? Is she getting as tired of those diapers as I am?

Stay tuned.

Jan 24, 2012

Shopping for Jesus

My friend, Nichole, emailed me a video that has been burning up the Internet and social networks that I, somehow, hadn't seen yet. It's by a kid named Jefferson Bethke and the title is "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus".

It's pretty profound.

When he says:

"Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean. It’s not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken. Which means I don’t have to hide my failure, I don’t have to hide my sin. Because it doesn’t depend on me it depends on him."

I nodded in agreement.

When he says:

"Now back to the point, one thing is vital to mention. How Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrum’s. See one’s the work of God, but one’s a man made invention. See one is the cure, but the other’s the infection."

I nodded again, though mostly out of understanding.

The poem is a testament of his journey to find Jesus's grace, an acknowledgement of his sin, a thank offering to Jesus for finding him and loving him despite the fact that he is (as we all are) undeserving.

And I understand the reason he hates religion, the man-made invention. Church is supposed to be a hospital for the broken, a place we all go to learn and thank God and feel and forgive and heal and learn more and do for others and raise our families so they can learn and thank God and feel...etc. And many churches are just that.

But many churches aren't. Many can be petty and judgemental. Sometimes church people hide themselves behind their suits and dresses and put off an air that they are fine, sinless maybe even, that others are in way worse shape than they are...many are blind. Many churches are too tied up in routines and tradition and rules (which aren't all bad) to see that there's a kid sitting in the pew who's pretending to be neat and tidy all the while he's addicted to porn (like Jefferson). How is he supposed to acknowledge his sin in a church like that, where everyone is blind? If he's raised in a blind church, that's what he'll grow up to be...blind.

So I get it.

But instead of admonishing "church" and "religion" as a whole, though both are surely fallible (because they are man made); maybe he just needs to go shopping. Shop for a church that fits, where the people are real and the praise is genuine and the message is challenging and the work they do has value to the community and to the world.

They exist. I go to one. And while it's far from perfect, it's my church home. This place and its people have become my church family.

You're never going to get along with everyone or agree with everything your family does. But they are your family. You love them just like Jesus loves you - faults and all. And that's how you love your church, when you find the right one.

Loving and believing in Jesus and living by his teachings is fundamental. It's the first and most important step of faith. But attending church also has value. It keeps you in touch, keeps you in line, keeps your mind fertile and growing, keeps your spirit filled and your heart and mind open. Just like a good friend, like Nichole, or your family should.

So, I'm with you Jefferson. I get what you're saying. I've been there. I wish you well on your journey, as it will surely be exciting and relevant.

Now it's time to go shopping.

Jan 16, 2012

Bad Habits

Sometimes I think I am still in the baby mode of parenting, which just means I'm keeping them alive and happy(ish). I feed them, water them, clothe them, house them, love them, sing to them, give them toys to play with, take them to family functions...the basics.

But they are 4 and 2 now, and I question everything I do and don't do.

Are we stimulating them enough?
Do we watch too much TV?
Am I too hard on them? Am I too soft?
Do they feel loved?
Do I take them to church enough?
Are they learning (even at home)?
Are they social enough?
Am I providing them with enough activities?
Do I play outside with them enough?
Do I sit down and play inside with them often enough?

Pastor Ryan gave a good sermon yesterday about breaking bad habits and how to figure out from where our bad habits stem. Reflecting on this shown a light on a glaringly obvious and embarrassing habit of mine - lazy parenting. And my backtracking to figure out why this is a habit I've developed brought me to this conclusion:

I was older when I had my kids. I had lived 33 years thinking I would never have children. I never prepared myself for motherhood. I was set in my ways when Sam surprised us and, I guess in some ways, I'm still adapting to that change. Basically, I have no idea what I'm doing, and I struggle with giving up more of my own things and time and energy to be a really good mom to these two angels.

And I desperately want to be that for my kids.

So 2012 will usher in the year Sam and Lena's mom gets her shit together. Here's my strategy:

I will pray every morning for heaps and loads of patience.
I will provide at least one stimulating/educational activity every day I'm home with the kiddos.
I will stay away from the computer more.
I will pray every afternoon for heaps and loads of patience.
I will sit down and play with them more often.
I will try to get Lena involved in an activity other than just story time at the library.
I will try to react less and pro-act more.
I will pray every night for the strength and courage and wisdom that my kids need me to have.

It's all about balance. I'm not going to go hog wild and change every parenting technique I've developed. I'm basically a good mother, I know. So if I just step it up a little bit, I think I'll be able to find the balance between being a better mom and not losing myself in my kids.

At least that's the general idea:)

Jan 14, 2012

The Sicknesses

Sam missed Grandma's birthday party last Sunday because he woke up with a fever and a terrible cough. Just a cold, but a pretty nasty one. The fever continued through Wednesday then, thankfully left. The cough is still around, but much better.

Now it's Lena's turn. Her first fever ever, and it's hanging on for dear life. She got it on Wednesday and still has it today. Her cough is awful, and she's too young to have cough syrup, so she's really suffering. Last night was the worst yet. I'm praying she'll wake up from her nap this afternoon with a broken fever.

I only worked one day this week, Rich missed a day of work and Sam missed a day of school. I can't wait until it's done so my poor suffering babies can feel better...and so I can Clorox and Lysol the house.

Jan 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

On Sunday we had Grandma's 90th birthday party.

90 years. Can you even imagine that? The things she's seen, the times she's lived through, the lives she's touched and those who have touched's unfathomable to me, what happens to a person in the span of 90 years.

And Grandma is a very healthy, happy 90 year old woman surrounded by so many family and friends, we had to have an open house for 3 hours just to fit them all in. What a blessing they all are to her, and she to us - her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, sister, nieces, nephews, old and dear friends. There were so many laughs and hugs and well wishes in that room, it warmed the cockles of my heart, as I'm sure it did Grandma's.

It truly was a great day of celebration!

Jan 9, 2012

Eyes Skyward

I'm home with a sick son today. Poor feverish Sammy boy...

Earlier this morning we let Henry out to run around the backyard since it's so nice today. He's just a happy little fluffy furball running and hopping around out there. He's so cute. Like a big bunny.

The hawk evidently thought so too.

I let Henry inside, put him in his crate, and turned to pour a cup of coffee when Sam and I heard a loud thunk on our big windows in the living room. Sometimes little birds hit the windows (though I don't know how because my windows are always filthy), but this sounded much louder than our normal stupid robins.

We ran to the back door to see what it was, and we saw it. An enormous hawk was sitting on our back porch, stumbling around a little, shaking it's head. Then it spread its wings and flew away.

Those wings, I swear, took up a huge portion of our porch. Honestly, I've never seen anything like it. I was like Wild America or something. I never would have thought a bird would be able to pick up a 6 pound puppy, but after seeing it that close, how big its wings and feet were, well, I don't doubt it anymore.

So, I guess we can't let poor Henry outside alone anymore. Like house training him isn't enough of a we have to keep our eyes skyward to stay on guard for puppy predators.

Life in the suburbs...

Jan 6, 2012

Then Again

I just stared reading Diane Keaton's memoir and am in love.

I've always admired Diane Keaton, in spite of her Hollywood status. Her acting is certainly something to appreciate, but my admiration stems more from her quirky personality and fashion sense that has inspired my own; her intellectual, funny, self deprecating interviews; her independence; and her joy. She just seems like someone I'd want to know.

When her memoir came out, I quickly hopped on a long waiting list at the library (in an effort to curb my spending on books). But now that I've finally received it and am a couple chapters in, I'm returning it to the library and buying a copy for myself.

Rich thinks this is weird - that I want to own the books that I read.

But books are dear and personal things to me. Books change me, alter how I think of a subject forever, shift me into new understandings, teach me, open me up. Each of them is special and holds memories of the changes its pages created in me. Seeing the spine of a book I've read looking out at me from its place on the bookshelf or my nightstand makes me happy. I remember how the book felt in my hands as I read it. I remember the smell of the pages, what happened to make me stop and dog ear a corner here and there, maybe even a drip of coffee from when the kids demanded I put down the damn thing already. I remember the feelings I emoted while reading it, the thoughts it provoked or dreams it opened up.

I guess it does sound strange. Regardless, this is one of those books.

Because it's not so much a memoir of Diane Keaton's Hollywood life as it is an introduction of her mother. Her mother, who was a homemaker and a thinker and a dreamer and an artist and a writer. Her mother wrote in journals, many many journals, throughout her life. And upon her death from Alzheimer's, Diane decided to finally open those journals and take a look at the raw, thoughtful introspections of her beloved mother. She later decided to write this book, which is set up side by side - one entry from her mother's journals evolving into an entry from Diane on a similar subject. Such a brilliant idea.

It's about a daughter's love for her deserving mother, about memories and truths and fantasies we have about our parents, and about the realization that what our parents allow us to see growing up is but a fragment of what makes them who they are.

I cannot wait to really dive into it this weekend, but was so inspired by the first few pages that I had to get it out.

Jan 3, 2012


Sam's speech teacher's name is Audrey. We love Audrey! She's young and has great ideas and methods. She loves Sam and has done wonders with his speech so far.

We wanted to do something special for her for Christmas. Audrey was very complimentary of a gift we gave Sam's summer speech school teacher when that class was over, so I thought we'd do the same for her on a bigger scale.

Here's how it turned out.

For the front we doctored a photo of Sam holding a thanks and merry Christmas sign.

Sam wrote his own name on the inside of the card.

Then we filled the box with candy and office supplies - a double layer since the box was so big.

She loved it.

It's simple but personal, as we used all her favorite candy and colors. And it's a great idea for teacher gifts (my sister, the teacher, agreed). Pinterest is full of great stuff like this!