Saturday, January 30, 2010

I know why Thoreau didn't have dishes....

...or a family to dirty them...

Tomorrow will be a busy day, because I need to sleep after a day like today...

I hope your weekend is fantastic, and dish-duty free! 


Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Bread may not always nourish us, but it always does us good..."

So. I made bread. ME.

This may not really seem like that big of a deal to anybody else, but it is to me. In fact, today, in preparation for making The Mister some lunch, I actually googled "how to hard-boil an egg." In theory I knew how; general practice was still unfamiliar to me. I think this episode alone sufficiently demonstrates the gravity of me taking on bread making.

I have in the past attempted my hand at baking bread. I have always done quite poorly. The chemistry of it is always, I think I am not attentive enough to manage the kneading and pounding and rising required of it.

Recently, I've heard a lot of buzz about a new book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and I found the basic recipe here, so I gave it a try.

After mixing the ingredients (only four!), I looked at the Mister and said, "Hmmm...that was easy..." I thought maybe I had jinxed myself, but sure enough, in just a few hours, this:

turned into this:

which eventually turned into this:
(Please note that in the time it took me to cut a delicious looking piece and get my camera, the loaf was almost entirely gone. It did not survive until dinner, when it was supposed to be eaten. And *I* did not get a single slice of it. We have since made more though, and it really is quite the yummy loaf.)

Miracle, people. This is a miracle. Try the recipe. It really was as easy as it sounds.

About as easy as hard-boiling an egg.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Thoreau Didn't Know...

This week is about my awesome and wonderful husband.

The mister has not always had a lot of self confidence when it comes to his academic abilities. Once upon a time, he was misdiagnosed with a learning disability. It was, in fact, a problem with his sight, but it left him seriously doubting himself in the academic world. Add to that some pretty crummy teachers (seriously...I have actually gasped at some of his stories) and the charms of a southern education and you have a recipe for disaster. Honestly, I think this self-doubt is one of the reasons why the Mister is starting his "official" college career a little later in life than most. It just took him a little longer to realize that he has what it takes and to be sure enough to give it everything he's got.

With two kids and my new job and (trying!) to manage a house, I don't have the time to sit with him and see what he's up to all the time like I wish I could. We definitely talk about what he's working on and how his classes are going, but I don't really have the ability to get into what he is learning. He had been worried about a test he had coming up--his first "real" test--in an English class. If you know him, you know that spelling and grammar are definitely NOT the man's strong points. Lucky for him, he married an English major. I was hoping to spend some time with him studying and helping him prepare for his test, but with two kids refusing to sleep and the million other things that get in the way, it just didn't happen. He was on his own. He studied hard, just as he has been doing since the start of the semester, but when he took his test, he came home and said he felt like he didn't do very well. We were both bummed, but kept our chins up and said there would be lots more tests to do better on and balance out the grade.

Yesterday, he came home with the test. And lives here:

That's right. On our fridge, where all good grades go!

In case you can't see the grade (or in case you also want to sample the poor sweet man's spelling skills...)

And, just because I think it is positively awesome, a little glimpse at what he sat at the table doing in preparation for a test in a DIFFERENT English class (poor man! Two at once!) I actually had to rescue this from the trash to take the picture. Sis got hold of it and added her personal touch, and the Mister crumpled it, as though to destroy the evidence. Luckily, I'm sneaky. (If you can't quite tell, it is the names of the major characters in his novel he had to read this week, written over and over and over and over.)

I am so blessed to be married to a good, GOOD man who is working hard to make our lives better.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"a wise and humorous friend, whom I love much"

Today, my absolute best friend in the universe came to visit. The last time I saw her was just under three years ago, at her wedding. Terrible, I know. Unfortunately, we just haven't had the opportunity to see each other since that time, and so this friend and I, who have been friends since we were practically babies ourselves, had not even met each other's children yet. What is amazing about this particular friend is that we are practically family now. We grew up together, meeting and becoming best friends at the age of 6. And by some immense cosmic fortune, her older brother and my older sister fell in love and were married. Eight years later, they have three little boys. So even though we haven't been able to see each other in a long time, we still have very strong connections. Our friendship is also the kind that is easy to fall right back into. Every time I see her, it's as if we've never been apart, even though we have not had a tremendous amount of opportunity to see each other since we went off to college.

Happily, one of the things about our move is that we have found ourselves in the same state as this dear friend and she made the journey to our side of it to visit. I cannot explain the immense joy I felt in seeing her again, for the first time in a very long time. I was also so delighted to meet her little boy--there is so much joy in meeting the offspring of people you love dearly. Her little man was positively adorable, and I felt such love for him, just because he is the son of someone I consider my sister. Add to it that he is the cutest little firecracker (and we are really jealous of that red curly hair, even if his mom says he has the temper to match!).  Sis took to him right away and is already asking when we get to go to "Mommy's friends' house" to visit.

{totally not sure about the camera::looking to Dad for a little comfort!}

{starting to warm up to me a bit!}

{oh what fun to chase!}
For the record, Sis is NOT taller than *C*. Even though he is a year younger, they are almost exactly the same height! This picture is just deceiving.

In other news...I need knew nicknames for my kiddos on the blog. I am not keen on the idea of putting their real names out there, but Sis and The New Guy were always just sort of temporary, and not very if you have any great ideas, please share!

Have one fantastic day!

Friday, January 22, 2010

"After the ground was covered with snow..."

Bad day...
My instinct was off. I think this happens to all of us sometimes...that we find ourselves running on a different wavelength than the rest of the world, and all the seemingly small incongruities defeat us and deplete us by day's end. Today was such a day. I pick my battles one by one throughout the day--motherhood is essentially hundreds of daily split-second decisions about whether something is really worth the fight--and mostly, I rely on instinct for much of it. Unfortunately, my gut was nearly always wrong today...

My daughter wanted some cereal. I'd already made her an egg. And a waffle. In my mind flashed the thought that she didn't need it, but then the other part came through. The part that told me the battle that would ensue for denying her was not worth the small cost of her Cheerios. So I gave the kid a bowl of Cheerios. And not two minutes later--whether out of boredom or demonic mischief, I know not--she had passed them on to the New Guy, who happily dumped them onto the floor. 

The battle would have taken less time than the clean up. 

Later, she wanted some juice that she found hidden on top of the fridge. I decided that the battle was worth it--that she didn't need juice today. That ended in a toddler punch to the face for me, and a lengthy time out (ending in a tear-induced nap) for her. 

I should have just given her the juice box.  

I watched the New Guy bumble near the snow shovel propped just inside the door. I started to move to point him elsewhere, but hesitated, and decided I was overreacting. I decided this just in time to watch him knock it onto his head. And in the time it took me to cross the room to rescue him, he had managed to push it away and let go so that it would drop back down again, and again, and again. Four whacks to the head with a snow shovel left him with a few lumps and a little drop of blood from his nose. 

All I had to do was cross the room a few seconds sooner. 

Exhausted, I opted not to cook dinner. For once I didn't look in the bag to check the order. I arrived home to find the fast food joint had indeed included everyone's food...except mine. 

I ended up cooking for myself anyway. 

With the kids in bed, each wearing a thousand bumps and bruises from silly slips I probably could have prevented, I surveyed my home....disaster. And as I looked back over my day's battles, I sat facing the realization that everything I had done had been all wrong. If I'd let my daughter help with the dishes, she wouldn't have pulled every book from the book cases (and I'd have actually finished them). If I had put away the folded clothes, the toddler jumping all over them and throwing them around the bedroom would never have been an issue. 

The list goes on. 

Desperate for escape, I stepped into the night for some fresh (freezing) air, and was confronted with new

All day long the snow had been falling--thick, heavy, fat snowflakes, flurrying in circles, up and down and back and forth with the wind that tossed it about. I had barely had time to notice it. 

But now, snowflakes came slowly, steadily, falling in gentle sighs to the ground. The ground, just hours before uneven and trampled by weeks of footprints, now lay even and smooth. Somewhere, from one of the apartments, came laughter. The breeze picked up enough to bring a chill that woke the skin of my bare arms. 

It was enough. Fresh air would fill the lungs. A peal of laughter would break the tension. A new night would lead to a new day. And in the morning we would make fresh footprints; we would start again without spilled milk and bloody noses, without fights over naps and cries of frustration. 

No longer trampled by today's defeats, tomorrow I would fight new battles and make new choices and enjoy the newness of a new day. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"...wherever there is beauty, he will find a home." {Part Two}

Well, we are mostly settled in...still a few boxes here and there. We are far from family; we live in a place that until 3 weeks ago, neither my husband nor I had ever even visited; we are experiencing weather that is nearly alien. And yet, this little place is starting to feel just like home. 

I thought you all might enjoy a bit of a tour (and I say "bit", not because I will only show you part of our place, but because "bit" is a pretty apt word for describing the size of our new apartment!), so sit back and enjoy the virtual tour of our own little experiment in simplicity....

And there you have it. The whole grand tour. So welcome to our new little corner of the universe. It's little, but feels just right, thanks to some enormous and transformative purging.

I'm so happy we took the leap. So happy we unburdened ourselves of all the STUFF...but more importantly that somewhere in that process of unloading things, we unloaded the bondage of the lives we had fallen into. I'm so grateful that we were set afire and that it burned hot enough and bright enough to ignite change. I'm so grateful for this new little place, this new little life...

Wherever there is knowledge, wherever there is virtue, wherever there is beauty, we will find a home...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Thoreau Didn't Know...

It turns out, that even kids who were afraid to be touched by their little siblings--kids whose eyes widened in terror when they encountered the horrors of holding {or even touching} a baby brother--even those kids learn to love them...and teach them...and comfort them...and play with them...

Monday, January 18, 2010

{Simply Sweet} Homemade

The Mister is a positively wonderful wonderful in fact that when I suggested he make one of our favorite treats, he up and did it...right then. Okay, so I know his motives weren't purely altruistic, but he did after all, share the mouth-watering masterpiece.

I've been trying to cut processed foods out of our diets more, and that means that there are fewer and fewer types of junk food around my house. To be perfectly honest, this is hardest on me. Just like I kept a lot of physical junk around, I also have a tendency to keep food junk around. I'm used to being able to walk into the kitchen and pick out whatever processed, fatty, nitrate-laden excuse for food from my freezer or cupboard and shove it into my face. It's funny because as a mom, I am really often particular about what I feed to my children--they eat their fruits and veggies {mostly organic}, lean proteins, whole grains, etc--while Mom hides her face in the cupboard and crams down a Twinkie.

Needless to say, with the Twinkies gone and no Ben and Jerry's in sweet tooth came a'calling...and the Mister answered the call with a homemade treat far better than anything Hostess could have wrangled up--Homemade Twix Bars. These are seriously sinful. (And yes, I do see the marked irony in posting about how I am trying to eat healthier and then following up with pictures like these, thankyouverymuch...) We haven't made them in over a year, and I can't imagine what would have made us put them off.

You really must try them, and can find the recipe we use here.

They may look ordinary...

But exceed expectations...

And are capable of performing quite the vanishing act...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Thoreau Didn't Know Wednesday

 Hooray! It's Wednesday!
It's been a while, so my kids have done quite a bit to merit my unbridled proclamations of their greatness.

The New Guy walks--all. the. time! He's almost entirely given up crawling all together, and has pretty much entirely entered the lifestyle of the biped. More than that, he's decided that since he has mastered the art of the upright man, he has more important things to do than *just* get climbing things:

Bedtime anyone? Here are his adorable little buns trying to get into bed after bath time. (And yeah, evidence #239 I am trying to kick consumerism: my son sleeps in a pink bed.  He doesn't seem to mind much.)

And Sis...well her new role (in addition to the myriad already in play--princess, dancer, doctor, tea party host, chef, fish, etc.) is robot. She walks up and says, in the very best monotone I have ever heard a 2 and half year old accomplish, "I'm a robot. I'm talking like a robot." (Only it really sounds more like, "I a whoa-bop. I talkin' a whoa-bop.")

Here she and daddy are at bed time (she's supposed to be cleaning up her toys) wearing the Robot heads she appointed.

Bed time is perhaps the most fun time of all!

Have one fantastic night and happy dreams!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"A gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener."

Greetings, from the great white north!
Not so very long ago, we were enjoying the usual mild and comfortable Phoenix winter. Now, we are freezing in sub-zero temperatures and trying our darnedest to enjoy snow and fierce wind. I talked here about our big and scary step. Well, we took it. We've uprooted ourselves, our children, and are living in unfamiliar territory. Yet, with the change and turmoil that we have endured recently, we are finding that the rich colors of our lives have deepened.

I am now the "dorm mom" for about 120 girls in a small town LDS college. It's funny. I thought I was still pretty young; I thought I was not terribly far removed from my own college years. Turns out, I'm older than I thought. And yet, that is probably an advantage I have here.

It is absolutely remarkable to me how well my 2 year old has adapted. She has simply embraced this new place as "home," and this move away from family and all that she had ever known has been very smooth. I have been so busy with the start of a new job and a new semester that I have hardly had time to think about being in a new place. And the Mister...well, he's remembering what it means to be a full time college student, but he's working hard and enjoying the challenge. The New Guy is as happy as ever. Its hard to phase him.

I'll probably be scarce, though hopefully not as much as I have been the last month, as we finish unpacking and settling in. In the meantime, I took these pictures tonight to honor our fresh start in a new place. Here we are, all squeaky clean and enjoying the "rain".