Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Wordles

I just created this wordle over at (Thanks, Macy, for the link!)Go create yours now! I typed in words that were important to me and this is what it created. You can also paste in your blog address and it will use words from your last several posts. The wordle below is done that way. It had more funny things in it (like mentions of Clubea, for instance,) but also picked words to emphasize that I wouldn't have (like my nephew's name is twice the size of my own kids'). Wander on over and create one of your own. It would be fun for a Christmas card.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Liars Here!

For some strange reason, even though my boys can run crazy all over the house or park, they seem completely incapable of running laps at soccer practice without bringing shame to the family name. Jared's family name, of course. You see, I see myself in them. I have never enjoyed running, nor have I been very good at it. But I do firmly believe that if I learned to push myself harder and run more often, I could be better at running. And I am noticing that in many areas (not just physical) I am needing to teach the principle that "we can do hard things." I do not want to raise kids who give up at the first sign of some hard work.

So, in an effort to teach my boys how to be runners and how to do hard things, I have determined to add lap-running to our curriculum. In all honesty, this event occurs about once a week, although I pictured it happening on a daily basis. And it's my fault. Did I mention that I hate running?

Today after Henry's speech appointment we headed over to the park with a $5 pizza from my favorite franchise. The boys were surprised to find out that before we ate any of the greasy goodness, we would be running laps around the park: our age plus 2. (No, I did NOT run 37 laps; thanks for asking.)

Henry, the one who just might be confused for someone with his legs painted on at soccer practice, was the first to enthusiastically run all 8 of his laps. The kid never stopped once to walk. I don't know if his father would have been proud or infuriated, but his father wasn't there. I slapped him a high five and gave him a slice of pepperoni.

Ian finished next and threw himself down on the blanket for his reward. Five laps is really nothing for him, as he seems to have the boundless energy required for lap running--the reason that he didn't finish earlier had to do with the allure of the park equipment.

I had started running laps with them but had been seriously hampered by a 19 month old who freaks out when she sees her mother running away. I kept moving around the path and would occasionally jog for several yards, but wasn't making very fast progress with her in my arms. I guess this wasn't going to count as my workout today. I had, however, lapped Kimball, who had petered out after two laps and was walking quite slowly while moaning. The rest of us cheered him on and encouraged him through the next several laps, which he alternately walked and jogged half-heartedly.

When he got to his last 2 laps, he asked me to run with him. I got Bronwen interested in a piece of garlic bread and agreed. We took off and he sprinted far ahead (I knew he was being lazy earlier and was not so easily winded as he made out to be.) Laughing, he looked back at me and taunted:

"Mom! I'm faster than you!"

"Yes, you sure are!"

Then, with absolutely no malice in his voice, but just the matter-of-factness of youth, he said, "Maybe it's because of all that weight."

I guess it's better than having random people asking me when I'm due, but it stung nonetheless.

"Yes, son, I'm sure you're right."

I wanted to double his lap requirement at that point, but I didn't particularly want to jog 10 more with him, so I let it slide and went over to nurse my wounds with a slice of pizza pie.

Kids don't cut you any slack, do they? Your friend might tell you how great you look and that all those workouts must be paying off, but your kid will never lie. Dadburnit!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Meeting of the Concrete Minds

My oldest boys are very black-and-white thinkers. When they are pretending something, it is real. I get in big trouble for using words like "play" or "pretend" because as far as they are concerned, that is a betrayal. They have also been known to get into full-blown wars with Ian because he insists something completely fictional is truth. They are the self-proclaimed defenders of truth, even if that "truth" is their own pretend. It turns out that this may run in the family.

A couple of days ago, my niece and nephew came over to play for a few hours. The boys were so excited to show off their clubhouse and introduce Cooper and Catelyn to their secret club and to "Clubea," the foreign land lying just outside our back door.

They had only been outside for 15 minutes or so when I could tell that things were headed south. I went out to investigate and this is what I found:
  • One tear-stained face of a six-year-old, who informed me that "we are in America!"
  • Two boys, indignant and hurt that their cousin refused to recognize Clubea as a sovereign nation.
  • Two preschoolers who couldn't care less about the battle and were only interested in the trampoline (much to the club president's chagrin).
No amount on coaxing on my part could convince either side to back down. I finally told them that my boys could call it "Clubea" and Cooper could call it "America" and we'd move on. I foolishly thought that this would solve it, but a few minutes later I was again summoned to the back door.

Apparently, Cooper had used the club's sidewalk chalk to write: "Yor in umeriku." (You're in America.) Kimball had promptly, and with hostility, crossed it off, violating the strict codes of sidewalk chalk. He was in the process of summoning the residents of Clubea to Club Court by banging a rhythm on his drum (an upside down tin trashcan). Cooper refused to recognize the powers of the court.

Concerned that my little dictator was getting out of control with his cries for punishment for treachery, I sent him in to cool off in his bedroom for a few minutes, which generally works wonders. In the meantime, I tried to help Henry and Cooper come to some sort of understanding while Ian and Catelyn helped me pick tomatoes for dinner. Henry-turned-diplomat finally suggested that the concrete could be America for the afternoon while the dirt and weeds that make up the rest of our backyard would be Clubea. Cooper was satisfied with this compromise, although he wanted it to be clear that he would not be leaving America because, "This is the only free country! Clubea isn't a free country!"

When Kimball returned, he grudgingly agreed to join the international pact but spent a good 10 minutes debating with his American cousin the freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of Clubea.

Despite these speedbumps they spent the rest of the afternoon playing well together as neighboring nations, if by together you mean playing in the backyard without entering each other's territory. Finally, Bronwen woke from her late nap and they were allowed back into the house, which was obviously neutral territory and the international friction subsided completely.

Jared and I chuckled over the incident. Those boys are definitely cousins! I guess that blood may be thicker than water, but concrete is even thicker.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wordfull Wednesday: This is Me

Cocoa over at Chocolate on My Cranium sponsors a twice monthly bloggy writing series called "Wordfull Wednesdays". Cruise on over and check it out!

The Wordfull Wednesday topic this week is "This is Me." As I mused over the many different directions I could go with such a theme, I finally decided to share with you a few foods that are much like me. If you know me well, you know that food and I are close pals; we go way back. And I just can't seem to break up with food no matter how many times I think it might be good for me. So here goes:

Who am I? I am a piping hot dish of homemade mac n cheese. (Never, never the kind made with powdered cheese--how dare you!) I am the one you can come to when you need comfort. I have always been the shoulder to cry on, the friend who hears your ranting and venting, the one you tell all of your secrets. I love to help people feel better about themselves, about their lives, and to assure them that everything will be okay. I'm not usually the one who will kick you when you're down by listing all the things you did to get yourself into this predicament--I'm there to catch you and to pick you up and dust you off.

Who am I? I am the big pot of soup on the stove, always ready to stretch to feed a few more. If you stop by my house hungry, you can be sure that you won't leave that way. My husband (and a couple of my kids who overload easily) would surely function just fine if there were fewer people around, but I love having friends and family in our home, eating and laughing and talking.

Who am I? I am the chocolate fountain just begging for a party to begin. Beckoning to everyone, tempting you from across the room to come on over. My family knows that I will always try to convince them to come to our house for any holiday or visit; I lure them with food, with grandkids or nephews, with promises of great weather or an afternoon at the pool, with anything that might tempt them to come. And if I had my way, I'd throw a party every month or so. I love parties, (although I haven't learned yet how to have a party without anxiety, which is one big reason why I don' t have them more often!)

Who am I? I am a bowl of Rice Krispys. Snap, Crackle, Pop! I rarely stop talking, unless it's to hear what you have to say (and I have a terrible habit of interrupting.) Always going a mile a minute, you are unlikely to have quiet when I'm in the room.

Who am I? I am a cold glass of limeade. Not content with being plain old lemonade, always the overachiever. Or at least the wannabe overachiever. And I try not to let on how much work it was to pick those limes and squeeze them all, then make the syrup . . . somehow appearing effortless is part of being an overachiever. And yet, limeade is unpretentious and old-fashioned, which I hope I am. For all of my perfectionism, I don't expect you to be perfect and I know deep down that I won't be, either.

And lest this makes you believe that I'm closer to perfect than the average girl . . .

Who am I? Most of the time, I am soft, pillowy, white marshmallow. I wish it wasn't true, but it is! I may be a regular at the gym, but I am generally soft and squishy. Especially my belly. Sigh.

Who am I? Sometimes I am a brittle egg, ready to crack at any moment and make a mess of things in the process! Those days, I feel sorry for my poor children and their fragile, tense mother.

Who am I? Occasionally I am the frenetic popcorn, popping away, running in every direction without taking the time to think, to breathe, to plan. Those days, I feel sorry for my cooler headed husband, who never seems to do anything without planning to do it first and who is rarely stressed out. (I feel sorry for him because he has to deal with me, not because he doesn't stress!)

Who am I? Some days I am the limp, over-cooked piece of lasagne, feeling worn out and unwilling to perk up much. I just want to be left alone and any little demand on me feels like enough to finish me off. Luckily, those days don't come around very often.

Who am I? I am a daughter of God. I know this first and foremost, and I know that on those days when I am struggling with the egg, the popcorn, the lasagne, or even the limeade, I can turn to Him and He will give me peace. Knowing that I am His daughter, knowing that He knows me personally and cares about my little life is what makes me who I am. It allows me to look outside of myself, to stretch myself (and allow myself to be stretched), to find peace in the midst of turmoil. I can put my trust in Him and He will lead me by the hand. He will love me with my faults. He will make of me a precious diamond if I will allow Him to. And I know that the same is true for you. He loves you. He knows you by name. And he wants to help you become the Ultimate You. Your Best You.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grilled Pita Bread

The summer that I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Jerusalem, I discovered a new love: fresh pita bread. This was not the kind you buy at Safeway, which is dry, thin, and usually feels like diet food. This was freshly baked, fluffy, and divine. Any time we walked into the old city from our campus on Mount Scopus (just across the Kidron Valley from the old city), we'd be sure to buy a stack of fresh pita. It was delicious on its own, swiped through a dish of hummus, stuffed with falafel, roasted lamb, or fresh nectarines and honey. We were always ecstatic when dinner at the Center included pita and greedily took as much as we could. (It's a good thing we did so much walking there.)

I recently stumbled across a recipe I had for making pita bread. I have not really enjoyed American pita in the 14 years since I experienced the real thing. I vaguely remembered making it once, and promptly decided that it was time to try it again. I already had Tandoori Chicken on my menu for last night and even though it meant a little Indian-Middle Eastern fusion (which doesn't bother me in the least), it sounded like the perfect night for pita.

This recipe calls for baking it in the oven, but with my newly acquired skills for pizza grilling (thanks, Prudy, for taking away my fear and helping me find another food I adore), I knew I could grill these babies up in a snap with fluffy, just-like-the-old-city results. I think they are much better this way, so don't use the oven unless there is a monsoon outside.

Pita Bread

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 T. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 tsp. yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup ROOM TEMP. water.
  • 2 T. melted butter
Mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a stand mixer. Add water and melted butter and knead with dough hook for 10 minutes. Put in a lubed up bowl and allow to raise for an hour to an hour and a half.

On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 8 equal portions. Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. Roll out into disks that will be between 6 and 8" in diameter. Get your grill ready (scrape it clean and spray it before you fire it up.) Heat it to 400 or 450 degrees. Gently lift as many disks as will comfortably fit (I did four at a time) onto the grill. Put the lid down and wait about 2 minutes. Check to see if they are light to medium brown with grill marks. If they are, flip them over with some tongs. If not, let them cook a bit longer. Put the lid back down and allow them to brown on both sides. Remove from grill and put on your next batch.

Or, if you absolutely must use the oven, get you baking stone or cookie sheet hot in a 450 oven. Spray the stone down with water, then put the disks on it and bake them for about 3 1/2 minutes each.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Soccer Mom

Today is our 11th wedding anniversary. And it has been a crazy enough day that neither of us even remembered that fact until Jared's mom wished us "happy anniversary" an hour ago. Today was also opening day for soccer and 104 degrees. Yes, Faranheit. And since we have two kids in soccer, who have games across town from each other, we were doing the soccer thing from 9:15 until 2:00 today, not counting the time spent putting on shin guards and finding jerseys and cleats that had mysteriously disappeared since yesterday.

I went to the store this morning about 5 minutes after I rolled out of bed to get snacks for us to have while we were hanging out at the soccer field--rice cakes, bagels, grapes, apples. I filled up more bottles that I even counted with ice water--next week, we'll take a big cooler full, because it still wasn't enough.

The boys did well, especially given the heat. Kimball experienced his first soccer headbutt in the middle of one of those mobs you get in rec league soccer games; you know the kind where all the kids on the team are trying to kick the ball at once and mostly just kicking each other. He was dazed for a couple of minutes and shed a few tears but then jogged back out onto the field. Henry's team played some awesome defense and he had one moment when he got a little carried away and stopped the ball with his hands. Oops. Both boys were enthusiastic, red faced, and thirsty after their games, feeling good about what they'd accomplished. So that made the morning a success.

When the games were finally over, we headed over to Jared's parents for a quick dip in the pool--we couldn't wait to dive in and cool off. When everyone was in their suit except for me, Jared took them out back and I went to get changed. One minute later they were back in the house, with not a little weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. The pool had missed us since we hadn't been over to swim since Monday, and had decided to fill up with algae to fill the void. Bummer.

We pulled in at 2:30 exhausted, hot, thirsty, and ready for some downtime. For the moment all the kids are resting in their rooms and their dad is resting in front of a college football game. Later we are headed to some friends' for swimming and grilled pizzas. This might not be how I pictured spending our anniversary 11 years ago when I married him . . . but I am so grateful for this life we've made together. I'm grateful to have a family. I'm grateful to have the luxury of spending day like this together, even when we get tired and cranky with each other. And I don't think that 11 years ago I could have even fathomed the way I feel about my husband and this family that the Lord has given us. Isn't it amazing the way love grows and deepens and changes as time goes on? As we choose to focus on our relationship and put energy and time into it particularly? What a great reward for the sacrifices required.

And I'm so very, very grateful that next weekend the grandparents are taking over and we are going to have some alone time to focus on each other and enjoying being together without our progeny. Thanks, Mom and Dad! We owe you guys big time.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Loved the Speech

This is generally a non-partisan blog, aimed at the needs/ views/ joys/ heartaches of motherhood. And I like it that way. I have no desire to be divisive. So if you despise all things Republican and conservative, please just come back another day. Because I just want to say that I found Sarah Palin to be warm, down-to-earth, fierce, sassy, spunky, and extremely likable in her speech last night.

I don't know enough about her yet to hail her as my hero and I am jaded enough about politicians to not trust any of them--but I want to trust Sarah Palin.

I felt like I could relate to her as a mother, who first got involved in the PTA and then the City Council because she wanted to make her children's education better. She brought tears to my eyes when she promised the parents of special needs kids that they would have an advocate in the White House. You could tell as she talked about her family that she loves them, is proud of them, and is not trying to paint them as perfect.

I was impressed with the things she said about cutting unnecessary costs in the government, including the governor's swanky jet, her own chauffeur, and her personal chef. It told me that she considers that those perks come from tax payers, that she isn't seeking office to "live a life of luxury," and that she still tries to be a normal mom to her kids, even if she is the governor.

I like that she has stood up to people in both parties who are corrupt, who use their power and money to get their way, who expect most politicians to look the other way while they seek their own interests.

Now, I'm sure that I was meant to feel all of those things by her speech writer. I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there who didn't believe a word that she said. But to me, it didn't feel like sophistry (unlike some other candidates out there, who shall remain unnamed here.) It felt real. I felt a connection to Sarah Palin. She's someone I can get excited about. And if that's why they picked her as McCain's running mate, well then they did a great job!

(I found this website on where she stands on the issues. I still like her. I especially appreciate the way that she stands up for families, small businesses, pro-life issues, traditional marriage, and reducing the size and cost of the government.)

What did you think?