Friday, April 29, 2011

Of Birds and Wheat

Hen, little Hen.  My just turned two little bundle of wonder and words and love.  Little Hen bosses around our dog.  Our big, shaggy Labradoodle whose tail often knocks things off the coffee table.  The same dog that sometimes makes Badger, our eight year old, tumble over backwards, when they are playing outside in the yard.  She is a really exuberant dog.  (which we like. alot.  she's great!)  But back to the point here.  Hen bosses her around.  All the time.  "No Millie", "Down Millie", he'll say.  Or when she comes too close to me for Hen's liking he'll come over to her and push her out of the way.  She totally obeys him.  Which is too funny.  Once my friend and I were on the phone and she heard Hen bossing around Millie and she said something like, "It's so good that Badger can tell Millie what to do like that."  And I sheepishly admitted to her, "No that's actually my two year old talking in that loud bossy voice!"

Today we were out tilling the soil a bit in the garden and we let four of the laying hens into the fenced in area to eat grubs and dandelions.  Hen loves the chickens and all the boys have hand fed them since they were little chicks.  Today one of the chickens was getting really friendly with me as I turned the dirt over.  She knew there were bugs in it for her you see.  Hen was right there with me when the friendly bird went right up to him and pecked his finger.  He just stood there totally freaked out.  His poor thumb bled, the cuticle badly bruised.  I gently reminded him to not let the birds get his fingers, how the bird probably thought it looked like a worm, and how he was going to be okay that his thumb would heal.  Then a little bit later, the same "friendly" bird came up to Hen again.  This time Hen followed my advice and crossed his arms in front of him to keep his fingers safe, and the bird pecked his arm. (hard)  Hen was so afraid and the bird continued pecking him on his blue jeans and feet until I pushed it out of the way with my shovel.  For goodness sake!  The boy is terrified now!  The boy can boss around the giant dog but freezes in terror over a chicken.  I couldn't help but think that if he could've just found his voice, his big, boss the dog around voice then the bird would've run for the hills!

And you know me, I am a teacher by nature and can't help but see myself in this.  I do this same "losing my voice" thing all the time.  I spend so much energy on things that seem big but are actually not battles...and then when a real battle comes along I just stand there in fear!

Which brings me to the next thing.  I have been feeling like we need to fix our diet for awhile now.  But it has seemed like such a small thing.  And lately it has come up over and over again in conversation and I feel convicted about it.  So....

We are starting a gluten free diet very soon.  Sunday probably.  Monday for sure.  Why?  Oh, I've got reasons.  I might tell you about them sometime.  But for now....I'm going to focus on remembering how important this small thing can actually be and how it is so worth a trial time to see if it helps us.  We are going to aim for 6 weeks without gluten.  I'm not sure yet how strict I will be.  I don't want the kids to really rebel about it so I'm going to let them eat pizza at the pizza party we have on Wednesday.  I'm going to try to stay balanced about it, but still really striving for completely gluten free because I think that is actually the easiest way to do it!

Have any gluten free recipes for me?  I'd love to add to my few.  Leave me a comment!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Just a glimpse...

We had a really nice Easter weekend.  My parents came to spend the weekend with us and we cooked together and played together.  I think the boys had a really fun time!  Sunday after church we had an egg hunt in the backyard.  My dad orchestrated the whole thing and the boys loved it!  Here's a few from the adventure.....
 Hen loved it, but thought there should've been more eggs I think.
Badger took it a little too seriously perhaps?  This picture makes me laugh!

 Hen looks so goofy!  And so do the other boys actually.  But I still love these photos.  My kids are goofy and I love that about them!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


We've had good days these past few.  Family from afar to play with, to eat with, to just be with.  So good that the boys are beaming still, even after they are gone.  Such a blessing to spend time with them.  And also, for little old me, at some point afterward I just feel like I need a good long nap. :)  Anytime I spend a chunk of time with people really, I find I need to have some time to recharge.  Ideally alone time is what I want.  Time to sit on the bed and watch the sky through the maples bare branches just now showing buds.  Time to read and soak up what my soul needs.  Time to meander through the yard and see what is peeking up through the dirt just now.  (although there is still some snow out there from this late storm)

And it is not what the boys need.  After being with people they want me. :)  To tell their stories to.  To snuggle them in.  To read with and sit with and laugh with.  I love it that they want me.  But you see how the timing is just not what my own little self would want at that particular moment.

And honestly, my own little self, can be not so little about it.  I can be downright grumpy if I dwell on me and myself, you know?  I've been more aware of how just shifting my focus to them and their little faces and hands and selves makes me much less grumpy when alone time is what I crave.

And today I chose them.  And it felt so good.  The boy asked me to cut him an apple just when I was thinking of myself, and at first I sighed and felt the old selfishness rise up within me.  His reaction caught me off guard.  He noticed right away what I was struggling with and said, "It's okay mom, you don't have to cut it up.  I'll just eat it whole."

And I had this snapshot flash in my mind's eye.  Of my grandma peeling apples by the kitchen sink, big oak ivy hanging in the window that overlooked the barn.  All the peel in one big circle and how she fed me slices graciously even though she was filling a pie.  And her fingers peeling, peeling and cheeks all wrinkled like great maps of rivers and all the love that was given to me in those slices of apples.

I flash back to his little face.  I grab the moment quick to make sure the connection stays close.  "You know what? I'd love to peel you an apple!"  And I get one, all green and yellow and I sit down plate in my lap.  And for a moment I am struck by how beautiful the green apple is in my lap, black skirt setting it apart.   I see my own hands peel and I wonder if he'll remember the shape of my fingers and the peeling just for him.  He sits next to me and offers me a slice.  We grin at each other.

After he leaves the room, all filled up, another picture flashes in my mind.  It's not photo-like, more of a sketch of me.  Me sitting peeling the apple and how the beauty isn't of the green apple and the black skirt and purple socks, light shining through the window, but of me dying to self and being filled up with God's love.  And it's like God says to me...this is what makes you beautiful.  This is what I see.  This is what I will remember.

I am humbled by this, and have more opportunities all afternoon to practice it.  The lesson is life long and runs deep.  And I want to learn it more.  And, well, that's all really.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another Fun Cake!

A Hoth Wompa Cave Cake complete with an upside down Luke Skywalker.  

 Made with the Chai Tea Spice Cake and cream cheese frosting.  The bottom is a bundt cake, with a piece cut out and set to the side.  The bundt cake is topped by a 9 inch round to make the cave shape.
 Badger graciously let me use his lego guys and J helped me place them just right.  Pretty soon Luke Skywalker is going to use the force to get his light saber unstuck from the snow and escape, remember?
 The birthday boy was pleased.  We had a fun family party for him and he said it was the best birthday ever!

For more photos of decorative birthday cakes I've made click here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chai Tea Cake

Waiting for the cake to cool.  Thought I'd pass this one on to you, because it's that good!  It was originally given to me by my long lost friend, Jack, but I've made some adaptations.  So, here we go....

Chai Tea Cake

5 tea bags of good quality chai tea (i used Stash)
1/2 c. milk
1 stick of butter (i use unsalted)
1 c. sugar (i use organic sucanat, but brown sugar would work, and I suspect honey would too, although decrease amount to 3/4c. if using honey)
3 eggs (room temp is best)
1 2/3 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350degrees.  Prepare 9 inch round pan by greasing and flouring.  (makes a nice bundt cake if the recipe is doubled)

Over low heat, heat milk until small bubbles appear.  Remove from heat and add tea bags.  Let the mixture cool and squeeze out the tea bags into the milk.

In a separate large bowl, combine butter and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.   Add eggs and whisk together.  Add milk and tea mixture.  Whisk until combined.

In separate bowl mix together dry ingredients.  Then add to wet and stir until combined.  Pour into prepared pan and bake.  The 9 inch pan takes about 30 minutes.  The bundt pan a little longer, like 45 minutes.  (Check it with a toothpick to make sure the middle is done.)

This is delicious as is!  But it looks extra nice with a bit of powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

I'm about to make the one pictured above and it's partner (a 9 inch round) into a Star Wars Hoth Cave cake for Cricket's birthday brunch tomorrow. :)  I'll try to post pictures tomorrow of the finished cake!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Wow, it's all going so fast!  This week has been full, full, full!  The boys have their homeschool co-op musical tomorrow!  We've had lots of rehearsals and when we're not singing and dancing with our friends, we are outside enjoying the springtime weather!

The days have been so good lately.  We raked the entire yard (huge yard) and the boys used their big metal dumptrucks to take the leaves to the compost.  Fun!  We have had quiet times out on the big blanket in the sunshine, which is just so relaxing and fun to do together.  I love the conversations that happen when we are outside doing nothing.  "Oh mom, look at that bug.  Oh mom, did you hear that bird?...."

We are trying to be disciplined with our early morning routines of chores, math, history while we fold laundry....that kind of thing.  I feel like the boys are starting to see how nice it is to actually have a tidy house and as a result are more interested in helping out with picking up and doing dishes, etc.

And most importantly in our news, Cricket is turning 7.  Tomorrow.  On musical day.  He is super excited and also a little bummed to have to "share" the day. (oh well, sharing is good)  He has planned a cake for me to make and it's going to be fun!  I'll tell you the flavor, spice cake with cream cheese frosting, but you'll have to tune back in soon to see what the cake will look like.  It IS Star Wars related but I don't think you'll guess it!

That's all for now.  Just wanted to check in.  Especially for my mom, who has been traveling and probably is yearning for an update of the boys.  Sorry no pics for now, mom.....soon though.  Soon.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Finding Words

The week has happened, and I have not written.  It was a week of mulling it over I suppose.  A week of practicing being present in the moment.  A week of writing down what I'm thankful for so that my perspective stays as it should, focused on the Giver of good things.

It has also been incredibly busy. feels busier when I am needing time with my J, and life and work are happening and the connecting is done in such small moments that it feels all too quick.  The look and smile we share over breakfast when Hen says something funny.  The brushing past each other while one does the dishes and the other grabs a cup of coffee.  The settling in on the couch way too late hoping we will spend time together but both of us falling asleep almost as soon as we sit down.  The quick smile and kiss in the morning before we both stumble out of bed to put the little one on the potty and to let the dog out.  It all goes so fast.

But still, my soul feels more at peace these days.  I feel contented.  Life is so good.  God is so good.  I recently read a quote, and I'm sorry that I can't remember it word for word...but it was something like...true joy is found only when the soul truly believes that God is good....and I wonder if that isn't true.

Tomorrow, we shall have a weekend! (hopefully!) and then perhaps I'll fill you in with pictures from our week and tell you of our latest adventures.  Signing off for now, with love......

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Long Weekend

A thunderstorm is just about to roll through I only have a few minutes to thoughts too are still a bit jumbled from the long weekend.  J had to work late, like past bedtime, on Thursday and Friday and all day Saturday and part of the day today.  And he's back to work for a full week again tomorrow.  He's gotta be exhausted, poor guy, but of course he's upstairs doing bedtime now, because he knows that a mama on double duty for four days needs a break, and also because I'm sure he misses those little rascals that are our four boys.

I have learned so much about myself this past week.  It is not fun stuff actually so I'll spare you.  But let me say that one good thing that I did learn was that I *can* be with my kids all day and night by myself and still love being in their company. (I always knew this, but yet I didn't you know?) It takes a little bit of mental preparation for me....and a good deal of self control to step fully into the hard moments that come instead of stepping away, which just makes it so much worse for everyone.  If I see things clearly, and really look at this whole motherhood business as an opportunity to serve, then surprise, surprise!  It works!  And I find a sense of peace and contentment like I've never known before.   Anyway, I'm tired so perhaps this isn't making any sense....

We did have a great night last night.  The boys and I worked out in the garden all day yesterday.  Raking dead leaves and hauling loads to the compost.  Turning over rocks to investigate bugs.  Taking care of the hens.  And cutting wood in preparation for our campfire last night.  We roasted hot dogs and made smores. We played baseball and rode bikes.  We told stories and shared hopes for a summertime filled with more wonderful times together.  And this morning there were egg sandwiches and watching building shows in our jammies and a good time of talking and praying together.

So many blessings.  So much to be thankful for.  And here the thunder comes.  So, goodnight!