Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Moving Once More.


Good Morning.  Happy Holidays.  Joy and Grace to all.

What do you do, when you get a dream.  When you've been drifting for a few years, waiting for the moment to settle, to find home, to be.

The last three years have been insanely hard, breaking, and wonderful.  There is so much strength and growth in pain.

We have wandered, pursuing my husband's career, building our family, but never really growing roots.  With the kids getting older, the push has come to find our landing place.  Our little corner of the world to call home.

In just a week we will be moving to Redding, CA.  My hometown, filled with amazing friends and family.

It feels a little like jumping from 5000 feet up without a parachute.  We've been so stable, so focused on career, but we're making a choice to put our family first.

I am equally terrified and excited.

This will be the longest I've been away from home and I wonder how I'll fit going back.  My children have grown so much, from 1-3 to 4 and 6.  They'll be in school.  They'll make friends and find their way.  I can sign them up for sports without worrying if we'll be there through the season, they can make friends they don't have to say goodbye to, they can enjoy plans and expectations, because we'll be there to see them through.  I feel so overwhelmed by this.

I have to admit that my heart is breaking in the goodbye.  It always does.  Saying farewell to amazing friends that have become like family.  People who love my children, who see them.  This has been so special.

What felt like ages to break through, opened fully, and in doing so offered a wonderful and beautiful community.  I have friends I never expected.  Beautiful people that have shown me so much love and life.

I will miss these treasures.

I have been richly blessed.  I am so thankful for the trials of life that lead to overwhelming good.

And now we go home.  We will make a life down roads I know.  The corners are not hiding the unexpected, but the long awaited beauty.

There will be shifts and expectations that must alter, there will be new friends and old.  There will be blessing and pain.  In all things, I am looking forward.

May your Christmas be filled with lights, love, joy, peace, and abundance.

My hands will be taping boxes and hugging goodbyes.

The New Year will start ripe with promise.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to ALL.






Monday, November 25, 2013

Holding Treasure.


I know a secret someone.  A person who has always been a bit of a hero to me.  I met her at my sister's wedding.  She is beautiful, strong, fun, wise, and so incredibly talented.   She is the other Aunt to my nephew and nieces.   Erica Bartel.

Recently she took my family to Half Moon Bay and did a photo shoot with us.  It was amazing.  We went to the Fitgerald Marine Reserve.  It is a must see to anyone traveling through the area.  Filled with twisted trees that lead to a beach wild with tide pools.  The air was heavy with mystery and wonder.  Knowing Erica is a bit like holding seashells in your hand; a polished jewel, well worth the search.

I thought I'd share a little of that outing with all of you.
















Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sometimes, the Worst.


When everything goes wrong and it's not even 8 o'clock.

That has been my morning.  It really all started at 1am last night.  The moment I laid down and felt the tickle in the back of my throat, that I knew would result in a full blown cough attack.  I blew out a sigh and stumbled to the medicine cabinet to grab a few quick swigs of nyquil.  It's not typical for me to take cough medicine, but I needed the sleep pretty desperately, and I didn't want to keep the entire clan awake through the night.

I woke with the typical full blown hangover of one who has drugged themselves in the name of peaceful sleep.

I mumbled to Eric that I needed coffee and tried to bite back the angry words at the full of sunshine, too happy children that tumbled over my exhausted body.

After an eternity, the smell wafted in before my saint like husband came bearing a steaming cup of my favorite brew.  Thick and dark, everything I needed to help pull me from the haze that engulfed my complete being.

I pushed up against the bed frame and prepared to begin my morning completely right.  Perfect moment, perfect husband, perfect coffee.  It's the stuff that fuels my life.

You know how horrible things almost happen?  You can see the worst and then it doesn't occur and you breathe out a sigh and think how bad it could have been?  An heirloom teeters on a shelf and you manage to grab it before it crashes to a million pieces and you feel that thrill of gratitude and joy that the worst didn't happen?

Yeah.  That's not how my moment went this morning.

As I reached out for my coffee and Eric carefully handed the hot cup into my hands with a paper towel to help catch any little spills. . . My hands shook and it started to splash, I felt that panic, that you feel, when you know it's all about to come crashing around you, but you also feel as if you can stop it.  

I didn't save the moment.

It splashed down my arm and started to burn, then half the cup went over my stomach and the rest of the contents spilled over my mattress, down the wall, and soaked into the carpet.  There was nothing within a three foot radius that was safe.

sigh.

There are days.

There are moments.

I'm on my second cup of coffee.

I feel a bit discouraged and I want to chalk the day up to a waste.

Sometimes nothing goes right and it feels as if you should chuck everything.

I guess this would be where the saying, "toss the baby out with the bathwater" applies.

So, I'm taking back my day.  It's going to be an incredible, wonderful, full of joy, perfect moments kind of day.

I also wish each of you the same.  Blessings and joy.  The fullness of life.  May this day, be a day the Lord has made.  

Coffee burns, coffee stains, ruined moments, discouraged sighs, and frustrations can linger, but they don't have to.

Accidents happen and we each have a choice for how we're going to handle them.  We can allow them to destroy every bit of good or we can shove them back into their place of momentary glitches.  

My morning sucked.  My day is going to be incredible.

Let's get to this.










Friday, November 8, 2013

daughters


Like a fairy she stands, flowers in her hair, mud on her face, tangled hair and dirty hands.  A flower torn from earth, roots shake and dirt covers my floor.  All for the bloom that barely had time to form.

Cherub face stares.  Eyes wide.  "Please stop a moment, and be with me."  Whispers in the silence of a rage I cannot hide.

Things must be neat, houses must be kept, dresses pressed and dainty, floors that must be swept.

She comes to me and haunts me in my day.  Little fairy wonder, longing for me to stay.  To be with her, in moments, when a list demands, I push from these still longings, to fight the demons that reside.

Kneeling to the girl child, that holds a flower in her hand.  I still for a moment.  Let lists fling from my hands.

I cup her muddy face, stare deep into her eyes.  Then I hug her and her dirt, let roots leave their trace upon my shirt.  Flower in it's water, kept inside it's crystal vase.

We laugh in child wonder and I find my perfect place.

Not in lists and laundry, with fat rolls, and with face, I'll be the mother in her memory who loves with desperate grace.






Friday, November 1, 2013

7 Years In

Today is my 7th wedding anniversary.

7 years ago, Eric and I were living in a dreamy apartment in downtown Madison.  There was snow on the ground, but it wasn't freezing.  The air held the perfect nip.  I spent this day, driving to Chicago to pick my sister up from the airport while Eric worked.  We made it back to Madison with just enough time to hunt down egg nog lattes before I needed to start getting ready.

Eric was supposed to tie up his loose ends, (ie find a wedding ring) before meeting us at a small pier that jutted out over lake Monona.

I curled my hair and slipped on a cream colored, frothy dress I had found just the day before at Banana Republic.  It had been returned from an internet order and was just my size.  I wrapped a crimson scarf around my neck, my one defense against the chill.  Then I headed out the thick oak door and down the steps.  My sister stopped me just outside, under a dark tree, the street lamp shining through the leaves.  Her arm gripped me as she looked in my eyes, "Are you sure?"  

I could feel the weight of her question.  Was I sure?  I mean really?  I was getting ready to marry a man I had been dating officially for 3 months and I had known for 9 months.  The only family represented on either side was my sister and 9 month old niece.  We were completely alone and getting ready to fully pledge ourselves to one another.  Was I sure?  I didn't know if I could answer that.  I didn't know what would come at us, I didn't have years of dating to prove our faithfulness.  I waited and all I could sense, was that in everything in my life, this was the one thing I felt completely sure of.  I wasn't afraid and I should have been terrified.  I had the deepest, most unshakable peace I had ever experienced in my life.  

"Yes, I'm sure."  

And we drove into the night.

My wedding was hastily planned in three days.  I wasn't surprised when it didn't follow a perfect plan, there hadn't been much of one to begin with.

It was cold and dark.  There were fishermen pulling in their lines, preparing to head home.  The lights from the capitol shone on the water that curved around it's bank.  Light posts dotted the pier, bits of gold in the night.  A group huddled together at the end and a man stood out just a bit, his hands strumming his guitar, singing "Something",  I walked toward him, my life about to begin with his.

Steve Cecil, took off his thick black jacket and wrapped it around my shoulders.  It wasn't the image I had been going for, but it kept me warm enough to speak my vows without freezing.  Then he led us in our commitment to one another and pronounced us man and wife.  There are people that will forever be in your heart, the Cecil's and the Haack's from our time in Madison, will always hold a special place.

I hope when you read this you are struck with the frailty of the vows we made to one another.  I hope you can see that we closed our eyes and jumped together.  I say frailty, because while we meant every word and we have honored our promises in every way, we didn't have a depth of years to back them up.  We had only what we knew of ourselves, each other, and the belief that we would be faithful to these words for the rest of our lives.

We have not been married long.  Seven years is a drop in the bucket compared with fifty.  Our lives are not much more sure now then when we started.  We are still living in a foreign city with just our family,  only it has grown to include our two small children.  We are not settled.  We are getting ready to make huge changes in our lives.  We are rocking the boat, on the sea of life, as hard as we can.

We have lived in five cities and three states.  We have moved 8 times and owned two houses.  We have been vagabonds, seeking a home.  I still don't know when we'll settle.  I don't know that we'll ever find the perfect place.

I have hated all the moving.  I have desperately longed for a place I can stretch my tent and dig deep roots.  Yet, I have a very special gift.  I have been given amazing friends in every place we have gone.  I wish so desperately that I could take all of the people we love from around the country and now the world and put them in one place.  Heaven will be an amazing party, as I'm sure that is the only time my dream will be a reality.

In all of this transition, in the craziness of life and growing together, we have fought and loved.  We have laughed and cried.  We have reached the breaking point and kept moving forward.  We have held hands and weathered every storm.  Without realizing, we grew strong.  Our base merged into a oneness and we have learned to grow together.  To stand united.

7 years of marriage and I am still just as crazy in love as I was the day I said 'I do'.  I am overwhelmingly grateful for the gift I was given.  The blessing on my life.

I have no promise for tomorrow.  I know that life is not sure and that it will rock and shake me to my core.  I am given this blessing to steward, to commit, to grow, and nurture.  This amazing life that I enjoy is a result of constant choosing.   That when storms of life come against us and we have hurt one another, when we stand angry, we are unwilling to spit words that could break or cause demise.  We have been faithful to our vows.

Even now, all these years later, when I look at what comes ahead, the darkness of the unknown, I can feel my hand held in Eric's and I know that I am safe.  I am loved.  I am blessed.  My heart is filled.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Learning to be real.



May you be filled with Joy today.  May your heart explode with thanksgiving.

I want to admit that I tend to live a few years down the road from where I am right now.  I have always been a dreamer and I forget to exist in daily reality.  Instead I keep my dreams as fond pictures of the life I want to live.  
While knowing where you want to go is vitally important to having a road map for success, it is not necessary to live as if those dreams have already come true.

If you tend to look behind you with rose colored glasses, perhaps you should check your daily thought process.  The last three years have been a giant deviation from what I thought our plan/dreams were.  I have trudged through, just waiting for the time comes to get back to family.  Waiting to return to real life.  

I have missed out on so much of our giant adventure, because I was stuck in regretting where we weren't.

I am incredibly grateful for what the last few years of our life have been.

I have walked with my children under the dripping leaves of a towering redwood.
I have set sail on the coolness of the sea and enjoyed the spray in my face.
I have wept from the depth of loneliness with only my husband's arms to hold me.
I have walked down wind blown city streets.
I have made friends with anyone who looks too long in my direction.
I have become far too comfortable with myself.
I have not worried if my house is clean.
I have been too close to seals and felt the spray from their backs as they rule their pier. 
I have clocked hours at the Santa Cruz boardwalk as my children run wildly through the sand.
I have learned to be okay in every situation and open myself, despite my fears.
I have watched my family grow as a solid unit.

I can look back and see how far we have come.  I can see how much farther we have to go.  I do not have it all figured out.  My life is not what I 'want' it to be.  I am, however, exceedingly grateful to be a part of this journey.  I love that I have been rid of my comfort zone and been placed in difficult and trying times that I may more fully make use of the resources which I have been given.

Today.  I hope you find things in your life which fill you with joy.  I hope you take a minute to be in a moment.  To feel it, to sense it, to be thankful for your breath, your friends, the weather, the beauty of what surrounds you.  Everything is fleeting.  There is nothing we can fully hold on to.  It will always be slipping from us.  

You will not one day have all you dreamt and 'arrive'.  Our lives are filled with all of the little things that make us 'real'.  

I hope you enjoy your moments, your day.  

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” 
― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit


Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Peaceful Life

Peace.

I have come to give you life and that more abundant.

God has never promised me an easy life.

I struggle with fears and when I go to God with them, usually I don't get the answer that I am hoping.  Such as 'don't worry, everything will be okay'.

Instead there is this peace.  This circling of truth.  "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

I am not promised that people will not fail me, that pain will never come, that life will be safe and easy.

In fact just the opposite.

In this life you will have tribulation, but!  Be of good cheer.  I have OVERCOME the world.

We Christians often cling to the word, "Your burden will be easy, your yoke light".

And yet we have been promised that things will be hard, that we are foreigners, that we are different, that there will be sufferings, and persecutions.

In the middle of this we are told not to worry, we are told not to strive, not to fear, to rest and be of good cheer.

My very being struggles against this, I desperately call out for the peace and ease of an abundant life.

The nature of worship is to look outside of ourselves and with everything in us glorify another.  Our full body reacts, our hearts explode, our beings give honor and praise.

In the middle of pain, in the middle of terror, in the middle of heartache, he has prepared a table before us.  When we are rejected and reviled he has called us to a place of peace, to sit and eat.

Loving Jesus does not come as a safety blanket.  It comes as a heart promised pain and in the pain, peace.  In that pain, rest.  In that pain, joy.

I worship him, not for what I long for, but for what he is.  The fullness of glory, the holiness of his nature.  His goodness.

So often we cling to God's goodness and believe that it means we will never experience the hardships of life.  Rather his goodness carries us through.  His mercy sustains when we have lost everything and are face down and broken.

His yoke is easy and his burden is light, because we are yoked to him.  If we try to pull ahead, carry it on our own, it will break and destroy us.  The only way to walk in this life is letting the Great I AM pull the weight.  I like to picture myself leaning against him, resting into him as he keeps us moving forward.

I simply am not strong enough to shoulder the heaviness of this life.  I don't have the ability to weather the storms that have come and will continue to blow through.

I must live heaven minded.  Keeping my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.

The promise is that he will walk with me and carry me through the storms of this life.  He will sustain me.  He calms the storms and stills the waves.  He is the Prince of Peace.

I hope this makes sense.  It is the place of my heart, my thought process right now.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Living, After.

Hi.

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind.  I cannot, at this moment, decide what is up or down.  There are few things that can blow a giant hole through your plans, your take on life, your visions, or direction, than death.  I am still shell shocked from the blow.  I simply sit and stare.  I could move on, life can go back to normal, but I'm changed.  I am completely altered.

We left for vacation the day I got back from my sisters, the day after the funeral.  I went from days of sitting, grieving, processing, to a sudden halt.  I had to be happy.  People get uncomfortable when you talk about sad things.  I learned this quickly and tried very hard to keep from sharing this giant loss.  Sometimes, it would spill out.  Sometimes, I would just cry.

I was in shoe store and was trying to find shoe's for my daughter.  I pointed to a pair, she told me they were 'baby Clair' shoes.  It made me cry.  She then screamed through the store, 'Daddy!  Mommy's crying, you better come help her."

Processing grief is unique to each person.  I remember when we buried Clair and I was walking from the funeral.  It felt over.  Like a big sigh after holding breath for too long.  My heart ached as I realized, it wasn't finished for me.  She may be buried, but the loss still feels huge.  I miss the child I longed for.  The niece I couldn't wait to hold.  The one who held my desire for another baby at bay.

My daughter is holding tight to baby Clair.  We are walking through our grief.  It's aching and hard.  We miss what wasn't.  We're sad.

The week I sat with my sister.  The week we drank coffee.  The week we worked through all of the emotional, personal issues that blew up in each of our hearts.  The week we laughed and cried.  The week we spent anguishing.  The week cousins played wildly, barely supervised.  The week we ate a lot of soup.  The week our lives changed.  The week we woke every morning to the reality of loss.  The week we said goodbye to one of our own.  My sister would sit, tears streaming down her cheeks, 'It's just so sad,' she would say.  Over and over.  The sadness of our loss was so present.  It still is.  It will be a long time before the ache abates.  For now, there is grief for what should have been.  For the gaping hole.  The room that was created in each heart, that was never filled with memories.

I am returning to routine.  Slowly, and a little bit cautious.  Life will resume it's day to day.  This will become a memory.  Sadness will give way to an eager expectation of heaven.  But, for now, as I sit quiet in my house.  I can let the tears fall.   Everything is different.  As much as people hate to hear this, life will simply never be the same.  When there is trauma or joy, it rips or adds to your world.  When a life is birthed, everything is different, when it is lost, everything is different.  It's okay to make room and arrange around what should have been or what is.

I'm adjusting and arranging.  Resting in the grace and goodness of God.  For now, that's all there is.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Goodbye, Sweet Clair


Beauty for ashes.  Strength for tears.

Clair was a bright delight, an expected joy.

Katie carried her 16 days past her due date.  She walked, hoped, and awaited the birth of her fifth child, her fourth baby girl.  Selah mentioned, each night felt like Christmas Eve, as the delightful anticipation was rich in the home.  And still Clair stayed, quiet in the womb; her heartbeat strong, her movements sure.  Hints of labor would start, only to fade.  Katie rested.  Tired and hoping to see Clair, to hold in her arms, the life she had grown and nurtured, deep within.  But, all was quiet.

At 5:00AM September 27, 2013, when Katie paced, restless in the early morn; she moved in a stretch and her water broke.  Labor began, soft and sure.  Her contractions came in waves.  When we spoke at 6:30AM her excitement to meet her daughter was so deep.  It was time!  Baby Clair was coming.

Everything was in its place.  The house was ready, the crib made, the blankets washed, prepared to welcome a greatly desired life.  It was Katie's third home birth.  Having given birth, twice at the hospital, twice at home - this was the natural progression.  Each of her babies have come through their own rending labors.  The breaking pain, to bring forth perfected life.  This was no different.  Peace and love abound.

It was so hard, because she'd been waiting so long for labor to start.  With hand reaching to feel Clair's head as she came, the pain was worth it. So soon she would be in her mama's arms.  A mantra played in Katie's mind, "I can do this, because I get to meet you.  I get to see your face, and hold you."  As contractions broke through her tired body, she stroked her extended stomach, whispering, "goodbye baby, it's time to come out, goodbye."  The anguish, giving way, to the joyful expectation.

And Clair birthed forth.  Perfectly formed, in every single way.  She was exactly right.

But.  She did not breathe. 
She did not gasp for air, or open her eyes.
She did not try.
There was not any attempt at life.
Yet, her heart beat strong.

As women, who should never know this, breathed for her, she continued to lie listless.  A life called to Jesus.  A child whose life was birthed and taken at the same moment.

The firemen arrived first.  What should have been the loving disconnect of child from mother, was replaced by the tattooed arms and calloused hands of a man used to anguish.  He broke the chord and took sweet baby Clair away.

Her heartbeat maintained it's strength, but she was without breath.

David and Laura followed the flashing lights of a wailing ambulance.

A team of doctors and nurses worked on Clair's tiny body.  Her lungs did not open to allow the necessary air.  The doctor, gentle and kind, took David aside, and he was forced to make a choice, for which no father is equipped.  "It's time to let her go."

And Clair passed.

There are one thousand whys.  They are not ours to know at this time.

We cling to God's goodness.  His sovereignty.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this life we will have tribulation.  But be of good cheer!!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dark Chocolate and Cherries. ~recipe


There are things that should not be excluded in the pursuit of health and wellness.

Baked goods are one of those.


I have received so many rave reviews on this recipe, that it feels a little wrong to not share it with you.

So, go.  Make these.  It take 5 min, but then you have to let them cook for 20.  It's not long.  You'll want to do it all over again, the moment you have one in your mouth.  While they're cooking, how about brewing a big cup of coffee.  The real way.  Boil the water, and pour it over.  Or some tea.  So much goodness could be yours.






These are gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, grain free, Happiness full.

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 eggs
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (coarse chop)
1 cup frozen cherries (coarse chop)

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

This recipe makes exactly one dozen.

You can omit the chocolate and cherries if you want.  I also like to sub fresh raspberries (1cup) for the cherries.

This is my very favorite, straight forward, easy, basic recipe for a quick dose of happiness.

Blessings on your day.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A little about Pesto and Life.



Do you ever feel like someone is trying to rip your head off while your heart threatens to explode?  It's been a little like that over on this end.  I'm trying so desperately to balance the precarious lives I hold.  Sometimes it takes a whole lot more focus and elbow grease than I can really muster.  I'm trying.  The scales tilt and throw me into a whirlwind of catchup.  Who knew school would make life crazier.  Well, it has.  That's okay.  It's life, it's wild and crazy.  I like it.

Here's an amazing pesto recipe.

1 1/2 cups fresh basil
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
5 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
blend.

It's amazing.  You will love it.

It's raw, it's vegan, I'm sure even Paleo can get behind it.


You can eat it on salads.

You can brown some chicken, add in some sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and kalamata olives and mix it all together with rice noodles, real noodles, zucchini noodles, butternut squash noodles, whatever you feel like.

Hope you are resting somewhere with a cocktail.  I'm going now.  To play chase at the park for an hour or so.  Then to work.  Life.  It's constant.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Figs and Death



So, about the time my mother tried to kill me. . .

We were riding our horses home from the rodeo and cut through the apple orchard growing along the road.  My mom grabbed a couple figs off of this mammoth tree, that grew in the corner of the orchard.  It seemed harmless enough.  We were all plodding along, tired from a full day, racing barrels and chasing pigs.  (Did I mention I grew up in the country?  I'm a small town girl, in every way.)  Then my step sister, who just happened to be sitting behind me on our old palamino pony, decided that she wanted to try a fig.  My mom nosed her horse until she was next to us and just as she reached out her hand to offer the rich purple fruit, her horse bit mine, and my little pony who was more fire than nice took off like a shot.  This may seem harmless enough, but I had begged my mom to keep her horse away.  You see, I knew my horse hated my mom's and that this would end in tragedy.  Luckily it was my hand and not my life. My sweet dad, raced his horse to stop the charging little beast, only to have her come to an abrupt stop and send both of us tumbling over her head.  Not my best moment in horsemanship.  We both sent up a howl of agony, someone twisted a finger, another smashed their head against a rock.  No one ate the offered fig.  We climbed back on the damned pony, more tired and sore than before.  It was many years before I ate an offered fig.

Now, that I have survived my childhood, I find them to be one of my most favorite treats.  I don't eat them often, but when they come in season, I must fill my plate with their delectable goodness.

Today I enjoyed a fig salad.

~recipe

I mixed about two cups of mixed greens with about 2T cherry vinaigrette. (3/4cup cherry balsamic vinegar, 1/4cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, blend in a blender.  Store in the refrigerator.)  I chopped up about three figs and mixed them with the lettuce and dressing, then topped with a tablespoon goat cheese, two tablespoons roasted pistachios, and two more chopped figs.  It was heaven.  If you are wondering what to do with those beautiful little fruits, please try this.  You will not regret it.  :)


The Arrival of School.



My baby boy is in kindergarten.


When you have a child, there are a million plans, a million dreams.  You are constantly saying things like,
"oh, well when they walk, then I can. . . "
"when they're weaned, then. . ."
"when they're potty trained, then. . ."
"when they can pick up, then. . ."
"when they can feed themselves, then. . ."

When you become a parent you lose all of the freedoms that you took for granted.  You learn what it's like to drink your coffee cold, how much less enjoyable it is to eat dinner while nursing.  You linger less and hurry more.  You are slapped in the face by all the can'ts that have suddenly taken over your life.  You begin to fantasize about all of the old freedoms you'll get back as your children grow.  It's almost like a giddy, guilty pleasure.
Oh, well I will drink a glass of wine when we go out, and linger over every bite of a two hour dinner, without having to get up fifty times.
Maybe you'll wear heels again.
Maybe you'll go back to work.
Maybe you'll read a book all the way through, rather than in bits and pieces throughout the year.

But, it all hinges on one thing.  Your baby getting older.  That wonderful, strange, pink thing you birthed that looked at you with barely focused eyes and woke you in the night and needed you, with every single ounce of their being.  That baby will grow.  They will need you less, they will focus on you less.  You will find yourself demanding their attention.  They will push from your kisses rather than lean in.  Your baby will find their own identity and they will demand that you see them as a separate being.

And it aches.


For a while, in that midnight haze of nursing, and changing, and feeding, they were a part of you.  Then they grew and while they still need you, they very, very slowly develop into their own little person.

You will find that you are so caught up in this change.  You'll revel in drinking a hot cup of coffee while they look at books beside you.  You'll enjoy pushing them on the swings and playing chase.  You will love the feeling of their hand in yours while you walk down the street.  Little freedoms, that at the time cost you nothing.  You simply enjoyed the growing beauty that you were carefully tending.

Then all at once, they have grown and now it is time to send them away.

They must go to school.  They must learn all of the things that are so very important.  They'll learn about our country, how to read, how to write, how to add, and subtract.  All of the things that you were slowly teaching, now they must sit at a desk and learn with all of the other children.  They are now big.

It feels like the worst sort of wrenching.  As if this life I birthed is being stolen away.  I do not like it, no, I do not like it one bit.

When I look at his face, I see my baby, I see the boy wonder in his eyes, I see his tender heart.  I want to protect all of those things that I have been nurturing since he came to this world.

Rather I have relinquished him to another.  Someone else is teaching him and tending him and demanding that he figure it out for himself.

Other children are either being kind or they are not.  There is nothing I can do.  I cannot run interference.  I have to let him learn about who he is, when mommy is not around.

I get to watch as he grows, but not all of the moments are spent with me.  He will enjoy accomplishing tasks, and I will hear of them from his daily recants or reports from his teacher.  Little things that I have so jealously guarded are now being recited to me.

I do have more freedom.  It's just my three year old and myself.  Yes, it is easier.  Yes, I can get more done.  But, there's this empty spot in our day.  I go back to find out what's taking Judah so long, only to remember he's at school.  When we cross the street I reach for his hand, but it isn't there.  He is sitting in  a classroom looking aptly at his teacher, memorizing colors and letters.  He's playing with new friends and running.  He's smelling new paper and freshly sharpened pencils and he is associating them with the newness of school, the crisp air of fall.

He is finding his way.  My sweet precious boy is growing up.

I jealously want to guard him from this.  I want to take him to Neverland.  I want him to brandish his sword and believe that he can fly.  I want him to laugh without thought.  I want him to be exactly who he is right now.

I want to freeze these moments.  They simply fly by, too fast.

My first born, my son, is in kindergarten.

I know that he needs this.  I know that this is right.  It simply aches to watch them grow.

I no longer care for the freedoms.  I would simply hold tight a little longer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Judah's Lunch
Good Morning!  I hope everyone is surviving back to school this week or enjoying their last days of freedom before chaos strikes.


For Judah's first day of school lunch, he had turkey, cheese, two hard boiled eggs, a pickle, cherry greek yogurt, raspberries, and for his snacktime a lara bar.


Snacktime
My snack this morning, half an apple, fresh raspberries, and a tablespoon of raw almond butter.


My baby girl
This little lady and I are getting used to lots of alone time together.  Everything feels off without Judah around.

Blessings to each of you in this new season and your pursuit of the best possible health, life, and joy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Grace

I cling desperate to the throne of grace.

Grace.  It is the aroma of love and acceptance when you feel outcast.

It is despite our feelings. 

It is everything we do not deserve and it cannot be earned.

It simply is.

It is reflective of a parents love and yet so much more.

It does not fail and loves regardless.

Grace breathes healing where there is brokenness.

It takes what is worthless and makes it worthy.

It finds beauty in ugliness.

Grace it is a free gift.

It has to be accepted.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Good Morning. Muffin Recipe.



A few of the glorious things about waking up at 4:30AM.

Lying in bed until 5:00AM to see if there is any chance that you are going back to sleep.

nope.

Write a blog on why diets suck.

Send parents a list of places they can use a senior discount.  Point out that they are eligible for senior discounts.

Lie in bed wondering if you should exercise.

Get up and go on a 3.5 mile run.

Dry brush.  Remember you have a sunburn and that it was a bad idea to dry brush.

Shower, dress, put on lotion and makeup and deodorant, straighten hair.

Feel outrageously accomplished!

Go in the kitchen and create an awesome gluten free strawberry muffin recipe.

Here you go.  The benefits of my early rising.

2 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup vanilla coconut milk
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
4 dates
either 1 1/2 cup fresh strawberries or 1 cup dark chocolate chips

bake at 350 for 30 min.

I mixed the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum.
Blend the flaxseeds for about 15 seconds.  Throw in the dates and blend for just a second, you want some texture in them.  I have a vitamin which makes this super easy.  If your blender can't handle the dates just chop them up.
I mix the coconut oil with the coconut sugar, then mix in the applesauce.
Add flax, dates, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and applesauce to dry mixture.
Mix eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla, then add to the rest of the ingredients until everything is well combined.
Add your strawberries, chocolate, or whatever mix in you feel like.

Bake and enjoy.




Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cotton Candy and Kids



"Mom?!  Is this cotton candy good for my body?"

"Nope."

"Oh.  I guess I don't want it."  

"You may have it sweetheart, just don't eat it all.  Sweets are okay sometimes."

Teaching your children how to enjoy treats is not easy.

Some parents are much better at this than I.  If there is candy within a 100ft radius, I will sniff it out, and eat every bite.  I do not have a grid for when to stop.  I always want to believe that I will stop tomorrow, but that is a lie.  I love treats and sweets too much, I think that I will always desperately crave them.  And yes, I am eyeing your dessert, please don't ask if I'd like a bite, I will eat it all.

I am a health nut who longs to put only the best things in her body and craves snickers like a crack addict.  Many out there talk about when the desire for sweets subsides, and it does, but for some of us it is really just lurking out of sight.  You never know when, after my day of eggs, avocados, nuts, and countless tons of veggies you'll come home to find me face down in an empty ice cream container.  It's a sneaky bugger.

And I am the person who is supposed to teach her kids about self control.  Me.  It's like a bad joke.  Or tell them not to eat sweets.  When in actuality I want to say, "Yes, cotton candy is hell on your body, but who cares, lets see who can finish their bag first."  I don't do that, I think it, I want to say it, but I just stand there, sharing as much truth as a normal, sane, adult would and let them make their own decisions.

Sometimes they choose to go for the treat and other days they reach for a banana instead.  It's not because I am a great role model.  I'm not, but I do try really, really hard to teach them to make healthy, unemotional choices.  I do my best to do the same.

No, I will not ever be a parent with a candy drawer.  I won't have a candy dish, and if there is ice cream in the freezer, it's only because I haven't found it yet.

I wish that I was wildly controlled.  That I didn't stare too long at the candy next to the check out counter.  That when my son says, "hey mom, we should get ice cream" I wouldn't hesitate before saying no.

I don't always say no.  I just try very hard to say no a few times a week.  I love junk food.  It seems painfully unfair that it should wreak such wretched havoc on my body.  I know it is doing the same to my children and that makes me want to push harder, to be stronger.  

I never want my daughter to think we don't eat certain foods because they will make us fat.  That has never been and will never be the reason.  We are not afraid or concerned with fat.  We are very aware of loving and treating our bodies with value and respect.  We believe that food is medicine and if you want to be healthy, look young, and feel good you need to be careful what you consume.  

While I'd rather be racing you through a banana split, I'm going to sit here, eat my carrots, and try and find as many ways as possible to make vegetables more appealing.  Maybe sneak a hunk of dark chocolate now and then.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gluten Free Fried Fish.



Fried fish.  Right?  It's just so good.

Quick recipe for you.

1 lb cod
rinse.
2 eggs, whisked.
dip cod.

Mix 1 cup almond flour with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried parsley, spread out over a plate.

Lay your cod on the flour and using a fork cover and pat both sides of the fish until the flour mixture is pressed and coated completely over it.

Heat about 1/2 cup coconut oil in a frying pan.

When it is hot put your breaded cod in.

Right?  Simple.

Sizzle, sizzle.

Flip.

Don't burn it.  It cooks fast.  Maybe 1-2 minutes per side.

If you like it well done: after you have fried it, bake it in the oven at 350 for about fifteen minutes.

Serve with something yummy.  Tonight we had it with homemade mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and salad.

When we eat mashed potatoes, I don't add any butter to the veggies.  We use the potatoes kind of like a dip.  It's happy and good.

Life tip.  Don't diet.  Fill your plate at every meal with loads of veggies and salad.





Sunday, August 11, 2013

Loving every day.



Falling in love.

Before I met my husband I would daydream of the wonderful things we would do together, what our life would look like.  Sipping mojitos at the beach, staring into one another's eyes over a candle light dinner, someone to tie the Christmas tree to the top of the car, holding hands down the street, making a mad dash in the rain and laughing hysterically when we're soaking wet.

Love doesn't really happen like that, and yet it does.  In bits and pieces throughout a lifetime together.  We have had momentary blips of movie perfect romance.  Yet our life is made up of the day to day.  The frustrations of a broken dishwasher, bills to pay, jobs to work, kids to care for.  Our conversations are not unending.  They are not amazing.  There are moments that we could talk for hours, lost in our own little world of togetherness, and others with nothing more than a small recant of the day before returning to our own devices.

At this point in our marriage, every story has been told one thousand times, our kisses are common, our love is quiet.  

We are coexisting.  We don't have a lot of magical, knock your socks off moments.

Our love is steadfast.

We laugh and we talk.  We make dinner and go on walks.  We play frisbee.  We cuddle on the couch and work near one another.  

I remember when I watched other's marriages in this stage and I wondered if they loved each other.  

When the sparks and fire are gone, what's left?  I have found it is a slow and steady burning.  The coals are hot, but the flames are dormant.  

It may seem as if I am making our marriage sound old and worn out.  Yet it is so far from that.  It simply isn't the exciting, heady arousal of new love.    

We have fallen into a rhythm of love.  We know each other, like a favorite sweater that fits perfectly.  We drink our marriage like a well aged wine, slow, lingering, tasting each sip, and savoring the complexities of merging flavors. 

I tend to be the one in the relationship that needs more reassurance.  I want things to be picture perfect, always.  We fight and I wonder if we've lost the love.  We don't talk beyond good morning and good night and I worry we are falling out of sync.  

I get in my head.  And that is the worst place you can go.  You see, your mind will lie to you and play tricks on your heart and emotions.  We could go days with nothing more than a quick kiss on the way out the door and my husband will be perfectly happy.  He never frets about our marriage.  He is in it hook, line, and sinker.  I'm the one wondering when it's going to end.  A heart stretched tense by watching others walk out the door, keeps me from getting too comfortable in any relationship setting.  

It has taken me too long to realize I am the one putting pressure on this to be perfect.  To be movie scene awesome at every turn.  And when it's not, I'm cueing the departure music in my head.  

Because my head is a dangerous place to go.  It turns tricks and breaks apart what I love most.  

Marriage is a beautiful and mighty union.  It holds and teaches, strengthens and grows.  It is also a choice.  Each day you choose to prefer, to love, to give, to nurture, to sacrifice, to enjoy this life side by side.  It will take chunks out of your dreams, the illusion of a life together.  Until you realize that in its imperfection, its boring day to day, there is astounding beauty.  There is strength like iron, gut wrenching joy, peace, mercy, a grace you didn't realize you deserved or were capable of giving.

Don't let go, if you wake up and look at your spouse, remembering the person you fell in love with and wondering where they went.  Don't feel discouraged when the weight of life crushes and grows you.  Each day you choose to walk hand in hand, to not falter when the other falls, to not give up when they look away, to not judge when they lose hope, to love fully without worry of return.

Love.

It is the beautiful irony of time, holding two together, while everything desperately tries to tear them apart.




                                                                                                 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Amazing Spaghetti Sauce.



Desperate for an awesome, easy, healthy dinner that will thrill everyone in your family?  Kid's included?
I am happy to announce that this is not just wishful thinking.  

First, this is my mom's spaghetti.  Not my mother in law's.   My amazing mother in law is the only one with the true Italian touch, and Uncle Jim, and Auntie Sue, and Lori.  It also wouldn't be called spaghetti.  It would be roni's or gravy or cavatellis.  When I'm looking for comfort food, however, I want something from my Californian childhood




.
It amazes me that my kids will eat this with zucchini noodles.  Since I have yet to order a spiralizer, I simply use my vegetable peeler.  It works great.  

~Recipe

1 red bell pepper
1 small yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes 
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
8oz water
3teaspoons salt
3teaspoons garlic powder
1teaspoon cracked pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
handful of fresh Italian parsley

Chop.  Mince the garlic, yellow onion, bell pepper, and parsley.  

In a larger pan, sauté the garlic, bell pepper, and onion in 2T olive oil, on high heat, for about two minutes until veggies are just starting to get tender. 
Mix in the ground beef, stir to incorporate.  Lower heat to medium/high and cook beef until there is no pink, about 5-7 minutes.
Add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic.
Then add canned tomatoes, sauce, paste, and water.  Let everything boil on medium/low for about five minutes.  Throw in your parsley.  Mix together.

Lower the temp to lo, so that it barely simmers and leave it alone.  :)

After a few hours, you can skim off any fat.

I like to make this in the morning and leave it just barely simmering all day long.  It's an easy meal for Eric to put together when he's home with the kids.

The sauce is great with pasta.
However, we have found that our whole family loves it over zucchini noodles.  With this recipe, I will usually shred about 6 zucchinis.  If you aren't used to raw zucchini noodles with a hot sauce, you should know that they will sweat and your plate or bowl will get a little soupy.  












Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Choosing to Not Give Up.


Does it ever amaze you at how easy it is to feel less than?  How quickly worthlessness can wrap itself around your neck, until you are gasping for air, and your vision begins to fade to black?

My emotions and well being are so closely tied to food.  I have to carefully protect myself from the foods my body craves.  This weekend I enjoyed a little too freely and it has taken me until today to get back on track.  This can feel so discouraging.  I found myself wanting to massively limit all food.  To cleanse, to reset.  It seems the easy response.  However, having struggled with eating disorders in the past and wanting to protect myself, from any in the future.  I need to remember the importance of being okay with myself.  I thought I would share a few techniques for getting back to a healthy lifestyle if you find yourself wandering off course.

-Drink water.

-Eat fresh.

-Start your day with breakfast.  Some do better with eggs, I like to stick with fresh fruit.

-Don't skip any meals.  If you feel as if you have eaten too much, maybe cut back on snacks, but eat your three main meals.

-Watch your self talk.  You are not a failure simply because you indulged in garlic fries at the concert.  Okay and a milkshake with fries after.  (hmmmmm.)   Next time simply plan better.

-Don't jump on a diet simply because you made some bad choices.  May I just say I was researching diets last night and thinking about it still this morning.  As nice as it would be to do a quick cleanse, the results are never healthy or sustainable.

-Do NOT fast.  It's the quickest way to binge.  You can and need to eat at least three meals a day.  It's healthy.  It's good.  It's loving.  Take care of yourself you are worth it.

A healthy lifestyle takes practice and determination.  Each time you feel like you lost it, remember you are that much closer to achieving your goals.

Sticking with a healthy lifestyle isn't the easiest thing.  It is definitely one of the hardest things for me.  But, giving up isn't an option.  I may not be as good at it as most, but I have a history to overcome.  Each meal, each choice, takes me closer to my goals.

I'm not giving up and I hope you don't either.


Easy Tossed Salad -recipe

2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped sugar snap peas
2 vine ripened tomatoes chopped
a handful of kalmata olives
handful of green olives
two tablespoons of fresh chopped basil

Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
blend in blender

Drizzle about 1/4 cup of dressing over salad and toss.  Enjoy.