May 31, 2008

What a difference a TV makes

So we moved, right? In with my parents? Did I mention that? And we finally got our TV all set up and hooked up in our room. And yes, TVs are not easy to set up anymore (wall mount, anyone?) and the hooking up part? Yikes. I had to wait for the Man of the House to figure out where all those cables and cords were supposed to be attached.

I cannot believe what a difference a TV makes. A TV with TiVo. I heart TiVo.

So ok, it’s not all great. We don’t talk as much before bed, and I don’t read myself to sleepiness. And ESPN is like ALWAYS ON. I can’t believe I just wrote “like.” So, like, there are, like, some downsides. But it gives us space. A window into the world. A place to retreat from the rest of the family. And something to do. Even with the four bazillion books in this house, sometimes I’m at a loss for reading material. And I can only read Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble so many times in one day.

But it’s better. It feels more like home now. Isn’t that really weird??

May 29, 2008

Good night, no more talking.

Ladybug and I have a routine when I put her to bed. Not the get-jammies-on-brush-your-teeth-go-potty-read-seven-books routine, although we do that also. It goes like this.

Me: Ladybug, it’s time go to bed now.

Her: Ok, let’s turn on my sleeping music.

Me: Let’s put you in bed now.

Her: I just want to snuggle for a minute.

We snuggle. She kisses me goodnight. I lay her in her bed.

Her: Don’t forget to put two blankets on me. Don’t forget to pray for me.

I pray for her.

Her: Pray for me two times.

I pray for her again.

As I’m walking out of her room, I say “Good-night Ladybug.”

Her: Goodnight

Me: Sleep tight.

Her: Ok.

Me: I love you.

Her: I love you.

Me: No more talking.

Her: Ok!

One night I forgot to say “No more talking.” She sat up in bed and said indignantly, “You forgot to say no more talking!” Then we had to start all over again from the snuggling part. Not that I’m complaining. I love snuggling with her. I love the weight and the warmth of her in my arms, and I love how her arms wrap around my neck and her head nestles against my shoulder and I can bury my nose in her sweet smelling hair. She is delicious. Is it clear how much I adore her?

I didn’t consciously make this a routine of ours. It just happened. And it makes me wonder how many other things I do that my children depend on? Besides the obvious – you know, taking care of them and loving them. Are routines good? Do they create security? Or are they rigid and create children who are inflexible to other ways of doing things? Should I write them down so that, if I’m not here, their dad can take over?

May 22, 2008

Catching Up

So I’m horribly lazy at this blog thing. I love reading what other people write. And I think to myself that oh, I should blog about such and such, or this and that, or anything even. But I’m lazy like that and only think about it.

The other day Ladybug and Wild Thing helped me make cupcakes. From scratch. From the best recipe in the entire world for cupcakes. Seriously. It’s even easy to boot. Here’s a picture.

See? Don’t those look mouthwatering? They were. And it was fun to spend the time with the kiddos. I’ll post the recipe. Nothing like some Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting to chase the blues away. And, the recipe makes 24 cupcakes, and the only thing that’s better than eating one cupcake is eating a dozen two cupcakes.

We’ve had great weather (notice the past tense) and the kiddos have been playing out in their wading pools (and yes, they have two, the spoiled things. One on the deck, and another in the grass at the bottom of their slide.). Why do they call them wading pools? My children are so small that they are practically swimming pools. If I put more than a couple inches of water in the bottom they would be able to swim. Or rather, Ladybug would flail and Wild Thing would bob. I can just picture him, floating on his back, bobbing up and down gently on the waves that his sister’s flailing arms and legs create. She’s a born swimmer, that one.

When I was in church on Sunday, we sang the song “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin. Know it? The lyrics are “How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God, and all will see how great, how great is our God.”

It got me to thinking. Do I know and accept the greatness of God, or do I expect him to prove it to me? Is my faith founded on who God IS, or what I expect him to DO for me? Am I in a state of suspended faith, waiting for God to prove his goodness, and his greatness, and see his power and his mercy work in my circumstances? Or is my faith rooted in who he IS, mercy and grace and greatness and power personified? How do I, as a Christian, balance my knowledge of who God IS with the knowledge of what he is able to DO? And if I do not see his mercy and power exercised in my circumstances, then is my belief in his mercy and power shattered?

Because the thing is, some things are true whether one believes in them or not. And the reverse is also true – one can believe in something wholeheartedly and it will not be true. Even if I don’t believe in gravity, my unbelief doesn’t nullify it. And I can always believe with my whole heart that my body that has borne two children will someday fit back into my size two Vera Wang wedding dress. But that will never happen. Unless I get a tape worm. That doesn’t sound nearly as appetizing as eating chocolate cupcakes.

So anyway, before I get distracted with Googling where to buy a tapeworm, or selling my wedding dress on Craig’s List, back to the dilemma that I faced on Sunday morning. Do I believe who God is based on who he IS, or do I believe who God is based on what he DOES for me? Here’s what I think: I need both. Because I don’t want to have a relationship with God that is only intellectual or theological, but a relationship that is also active, demonstrative, that has a daily freshness to it because of what God does in my life.

You know, like in 1 John chapter 1, “He was from the beginning, and this is the One we speak about. Our ears have heard, our own eyes have seen, and our hands have touched Him – the One who gives life appeared! We saw it happen!” Now wouldn’t you like to have that kind of excitement about God in your own life? Not only knowing ABOUT him, but also being able to say, “Hey! I know all about it, but I also saw it! I experienced it! In my own life!”

It’s what I really want. And it’s what I really need. Not only in the complex circumstances that I call my life right now, but in “normal” life. I need the knowledge of his goodness, his power, his mercy, his love. But that’s not enough for me. I would suffocate if I didn’t have the freshness that comes from seeing it, experiencing it, in my life every day. That, and hopefully a chocolate cupcake.

Devils Food Cupcakes

Makes 24

2/3 cup boiling water

2/3 cup natural cocoa powder

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons instant coffee

4 eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

16 tablespoons butter (2 sticks), softened, but still cool

1. Adjust racks to lower-middle oven position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Whisk boiling water, cocoa, chocolate, and instant coffee granules together in small bowl.

3. Whisk eggs, sour cream, and vanilla together in small bowl until well combined.

4. With electric mixer on low speed, combine flour, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in large bowl until blended. Add butter and mix on low until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add egg mixture in 2 additions, then beat at medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until combined, about 1 minute.

5. Add chocolate mixture and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Divide batter evenly among 24 cupcake liners.

6. Bake until skewer or toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 20 minutes.

7. Cool cupcakes in muffin tins for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

8. When completely cool, frost.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 lb powdered sugar

8 tbsp butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Mix all ingredients until combined, beating with an electric mixer. Add more milk or cream until desired consistency to frost cupcakes.

Sorry to be so vague with the frosting recipe… I just eyeball it and it comes out great every time. Frequent taste testing is required…

May 15, 2008

Barefoot Education

Spring is finally here I think. There have been flowers everywhere for weeks, but today is the first day when it feels like spring weather. It’s just perfect outside. So after feeding my children lunch, in which Wild Thing ate half a cupcake in one bite (at the end, that wasn’t the nutritional part of his lunch), I took them outside to get them some outdoor education.

Ready? Begin! Shoes OFF! Hose ON! Grass IN THE MOUTH! (Wild Thing only.)

They slid down the slide about a million times, until my arms ached from hefting them back to the top. The swinged and swung for forever and Ladybug showed me how she can pump (she can’t really, but I acted impressed anyway). Then we grabbed the hose to water some newly planted, well, plants, and that was the best. Ladybug manned the controls, and was working on her aim. It was hit and miss --- hit Wild Thing and miss the plants. With the water, I mean. But he was having a blast too. So it was good fun for an hour. Everyone cried when it was time to come in for naps. By everyone, I mean everyone except me, of course. Now they are sleeping quietly. Or at least I can’t hear their singing/hollering from this end of the house. But I feel good that they have begun their barefoot education.

I’m trying to feel good about all the changes in our lives, and today it is easy. And I’m trying not to be nervous about all the changes that are going to be happening. That part is hard. But I am reminded of this verse:

Let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15


Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

So, I’ll take that instruction. I will be at peace. And I will be thankful. Because the God who created the whole universe still holds it all together in His hands. And, cheesy though it may sound, my life does not hang in the balance. It rests in the hand of Jesus. And that's certainly something to feel peace about.

May 6, 2008

Mama, I want to go home.

Ok, all done reading that book. Let's get ready for bed and give Daddy a kiss good-night.

Mama, I want to go home.

We are home, sweetie.

No, I want to go to my other house.

We don't live there anymore. We live in this house now. Your bed and books and toys are here now, remember?

But I want to go home, Mama.

This is harder than I thought it would be. Not just the sorting, the packing, the moving, the unpacking, but helping our children through the transition. And yes, we are very fortunate to have family to help us with ever aspect of this. But it's still really hard. Really hard.

Am I whining too much? Maybe I just need to suck it up and DO THIS already. Yes, it's hard. But life IS hard. There are lots of good things, too, but come on, how hard can life BE? I just ate leftover birthday cake for breakfast. There are people in Haiti eating dirt cakes because they are so hungry. We'll get through this. One day at a time, step by step, from one nap to another. Ha. Sometimes that's the only way I get through the day... No, not MY naps. I wish. Wild Thing and Ladybug's naps.

One of my clients is driving me crazy. That's normal, too, right?

Too many things going on. Too many things to keep track of. I need a vacation.

Oh wait. I may be getting one. A long one.

Oh God.

May 1, 2008

Is this really happening?

Ever been in a situation where you wanted so badly to remember every detail, every smell, every nuance of time and place and people, and yet your mind feels numb? As if you’re seeing things and yet not comprehending or absorbing them? You cannot notice or remember or even be present for the moment?

I’m kind of in that spot.

I want to notice, absorb, grasp, cling to every detail. The way Wild Thing smells when I snuggle into his neck. The sweet sound of Ladybug’s voice. Her giggle. His belly laugh. The springy feel of her curly hair when I put my hand on her head. The jab of his clumsy, persistent fingers as he grabs for my eyelashes. How she snuggles into my shoulder, always the left one, for just a minute before laying down for her nap. The sloppy, open-mouthed kisses of Wild Thing, and the way he chortles triumphantly when he gets his hands on one of his sister’s toys. Ladybug’s mixture of real and made-up lyrics to songs, and the cute way she mispronounces words.

I cannot bear this. These are my children. And they are so, so young. I try to think, to imagine, what they will be. How they will be. Because I won’t be here to see it. So I live it out in my mind instead. Milestones that I will miss. Like Lovebug on her first day of school. I can imagine her standing to the side, with her new backpack and her lunchbox, quiet and reserved, watching everything, making her assessments before jumping in. And Wild Thing, he’s still so small, still developing his personality. So fiercely independent one moment, then clinging to my leg and begging to be in my arms the next. He needs his Mama. They both do.

Oh God, oh God, oh God.

May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name, deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Psalm 79:8, 9

I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living." Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me. Psalm 142

Desperation, we are acquainted.