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Mar 20, 2013

Warrior Mom

An old friend from high school who I haven't seen in many years has been heavy on my mind lately.  Marci is struggling with her young son's explosive mood disorder. 

Marci is a warrior. 

She bravely writes on facebook about the war she and her family fight everyday to help their boy.  She documents his triumphs as well as his low times, she asks for prayers, she started an online support group for parents fighting this battle, and she honestly shares her fears as well as her gratitude and hope and her humor.  Her courage and heartbreak and grace and faith and love for her family are obvious and overwhelming. 

Everyone you meet has fought or is fighting a battle of some kind.  And nothing is more hopeless in the midst of the fight than thinking you are alone.  Hearing or reading that someone else has experienced something similar is comforting to people.  It gives us hope.  It's a life jacket when we're sinking.

My sister and I talk about this a lot just in terms of parenting.  So many mothers push this angelic, perfect, brilliant image of their kid into the world.  And that's cool.  Kids all have their angelic, perfect, brilliant moments, and we should definitely celebrate those!  But when I struggle with motherhood, with hard decisions and discipline and sleepless nights and exhaustion and perpetual worry and endless doubt; what helps me keep it together and find hope is someone saying, "Been there. Done that. It was the same for me". 

Then suddenly I'm not alone.  And while the burden is still there, it doesn't seem as heavy.

Imagine how amplified that feeling must be for those struggling with intense crisis...

So my heart and prayers and thoughts reach out to this warrior mom, Marci, and her son and family and the daily war they are waging.  And my admiration goes out to Marci herself for expending precious time and energy to unite other struggling parents, for seeking knowledge and advice and prayers from people who have been there, and for getting and giving support to the these warriors - the courage to fight another day.

Mar 14, 2013

Eating, Watching, Sleeping, Baking...

After nearly a month of asking, I finally took the kids to McDonald's for lunch last week.  I hate feeding them fast food too often, but they'd been pretty good all week, so I even splurged for happy meals with "awesome toys", in their opinions. 

On Saturday we went to one of Dylan's tournament basketball games - they won!  Go Dylan!  Rich took this cute shot of the kids watching the game with their big cousin, Jack.

With afternoon preschool this year, our schedules are too tight to fit in decent naps before dinner, which is hard for the kids.  And for me, I'm not going to lie.  But we still have rest time where they sit or lay quietly on the sofa and watch Sesame Street or read.  Once this week, Lena succumbed to the time change and a busy day and fell asleep sitting up...sweet girl.
Today the kids and I made this awesome lemon blueberry yogurt cake.  As is true with most desserts I love, the lemon glaze (always with fresh lemon juice) takes it to a whole 'nother level.  This will definitely be on heavy rotation at our house. 
Lemons are something I always have on hand nowadays.  I use them every day for cooking and baking.  Plain Greek yogurt is becoming another staple here.  I've been using it a lot in cooking too, substituting it for mayo, using it in good.  And good for us.  Win, win!
Here's the recipe for lemon blueberry yogurt cake for anyone interested. 
  • nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup (whole milk or reduced fat) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
  •  For glaze - 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  •  For glaze - 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice 

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a standard loaf pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Whisk 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, rub 1 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Add 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 large eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend. Carefully fold in blueberries.  Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. Add glaze and let cake cool on a wire rack.

    Mar 12, 2013

    Carried Away

    I'm watching Mumford and Sons: The Road to Red Rocks, a documentary/concert short film following my new favorite band on a tour of festival-type stopovers they played last year. 

    I wish it were longer.   

    I wish I could afford to see them play live.

    I wish I would have known about them when their tickets were more affordable.

    I'm loving watching them play.  I can see the music moving them, literally and not.  It's in them.  It can't help but come out.  I don't know what they're like in their lives, day-to-day.  Maybe they're boring bigots or lovely souls or everything in between...but as they play, they're elevated beyond a simple group of gifted musicians. 

    They are joy.  They are pain.  They are love.  They are aching hearts and gut-wrenching regret and relentless hope.  They feel every word they sing and note they play with every lift of their voice and pick of their guitars and stomp of their feet and too-long blink of their eyes.  And they make me feel every bit of it.

    I love blues and folk and jazz and rootsy music for that reason.  The raw, stripped naked beauty of it.  It gets down to it, the heart of what makes us the beautifully flawed humans we all are.  No weird computer sounds.  No auto-tune, over produced, meaningless, emotionally void noise.  Just real people singing and playing real music driven by real emotions and passions that demand to get out. 

    Not that I don't enjoy cheesy 80's music or good old rock and roll.  It's fun and crazy and not much is better than dancing around with the kids on a Saturday morning to My Sharona.  It's good times. 

    But it doesn't move me. 

    Like several months ago I was on an all too rare solo grocery shopping spree at Kroger.  Since I had no kids to mind, I was listening to Babel, Mumford & Sons latest album.  Below My Feet came on and, though I'd listened to it several times before, I'd never heard it with my earbuds in, which is to say I'd never heard it so clearly with my attention so focused on it.  The song was building and I was swept up in it.  I forgot what I was looking for.  Why was I in the organic section again? 

    Then the last chorus comes, the band feverish, the vocals pleading "Keep the earth below my feet, from my sweat, my blood runs weak, let me learn from where I have been..."  and, bam, I stop breathing for a second.  I stop my mindless organic wandering, rewind that part and play it again, my skin awash in gooseflesh.  I did that three more times, lost in the absolute and, quite literally, breath-taking moment before I remembered where I was and that I should probably get back to my grocery list.     

    That band, that song, that moment in that song made me lose myself.  There are so few precious things in this life that can do that to me.  Music is near the top of that list, as I'm sure it is for many people who allow themselves to be carried away...

    Mar 11, 2013

    Happy Birthday, Mom!

    Lori, Lena and I went to Delaware on Saturday to visit with Grandma and party down with some family at my cousin, Julie's, Thirty-One show.  We had so much fun...I love my family!  I've got to get up there more often.

    It makes me happy to share days like that with Lena, exposing her to all the amazing women in my family who have such incredible humor and wisdom and love and strength.  I want her to grow up feeling that bond like I did (and still do), because it's such an important part of who we are as women and as members of this family, in particular. 

    At Grandma's place, we enjoyed a mini party for Mom's birthday, which is today.  Lori baked a delicious cake and we sang and laughed and talked.  Days like that fill me so full. 

    So, a BIG shoutout to Mom on her birthday.  Thank you for cherishing your family and for letting Lori and I experience the unbreakable bond of this family of women.  It is something I hold very dear and hope to instill in Lena. 

    Love you!  Happy birthday!

    Mar 9, 2013


    Like the corners of my mind...

    I was thinking about this the other day and dug through some old photos so I could share. 

    Flash back with me for a moment, if you will, to January 2010.  Lena was several months old and Sam had just turned 2.  I took them for a trip to the grocery store, Lena in her carseat in the front of the shopping cart and Sam in the back of the cart...standing up.  I know, I know.  I blame it on an I-still-don't-know-what-I'm-doing-mothering-these-children lapse in judgement.

    Anyway, I had just grabbed my desired item from the shelf, threw it in the cart, and started to push the cart around the corner.  But I forgot to tell Sam to sit down.  And he promptly fell out of the cart onto the cold hard floor.  Head first.

    It made the most HORRIBLE sound.  I'll never forget that sound.

    Everything swelled outward and he recovered quickly.  But not before we snapped a few shots - evidence that I will never win the mother of the year award.  And further evidence that, even with a black eye, this boy is still too darn cute.


    Then there's this sweet tiny thing.  While I was trying to find Sam's blackeyed pictures, I stumbled upon these of Lena and had to include them.  Especially after I saw my cousin's 4 month old baby, Emmy, today.  That sweet girl brought back all sorts of precious baby memories of my sweet girl. 

    It makes my heart hurt thinking of all those slobbery gummy kisses baby Lena used to plant on my cheeks, when she'd just lean in with her mouth open and basically chew on my cheek for a second. 

    Oh, how these babies have changed me...


    Mar 2, 2013


    I have taken a ton of pictures over the past two months, but just haven't found the time to add them to the blog. 

    As I write that, I think of my sister, who has three boys who are each in school and sports and church activities and boy scouts.  Plus she teaches preschool and bakes cookies and cooks great meals and volunteers in her kids' classes for parties and holidays and helps with homework and makes curtains and pillow covers and gifts for others...and worries if she's doing enough.  Yet she always finds time to blog.  She's a hard act to follow. 

    Can I get an AMEN! 

    Much more than that, though, she's a great inspiration to me and encourages me when Sam's temper gets out of control or when Lena's whininess takes us all to the brink.  She's honest and tells me that her kids did similar things and not to think the worst...quite yet.  And she shows me simply by the way she lives her life that a woman can find the time/make the time to do and be all these things for her family and for herself.

    Best sister.  Ever. 

    Anywho, the rest of the blog will be pictorial in nature, as I post random shots from the past two months.  I call it "Backlog".  Enjoy.