Wednesday, February 29, 2012

18 Years to Perfection

We all have a list of our favorite things . . . things popular, things obscure. Things that we like and no one else understands. Sometimes we tell other people about the things we like and other times we keep those things to ourselves because they are hard to explain.

Secretly I believe we all have our favorite Disney princess. I have mine anyway. Her name is Belle.

I distinctly remember seeing Disney's
Beauty and the Beast in the theater when it was released in 1991. Back then the computer animation was a really big deal and we watched in awe as Belle and The Beast danced across the ballroom as Angela Landsbury belted out one of the most memorable Menken-Disney songs of all time. The ballroom was gorgeous. I wanted to wear Belle's beautiful yellow dress! I still try not think about how weird it is for a girl to fall in love with a beast. I still try to imagine being granted the privilege of slapping Gaston in the face. It's a quirky fun story about a girl who loves to read.

In 1994 I was told that Disney was bringing Beauty and the Beast to Broadway. Eighteen years ago and I still remember sitting and reading articles about how magical and amazing the production was. I wanted to go to this Broadway show. Eighteen years ago I started saying, "The show I MOST want to see on Broadway is Beauty and the Beast!"

About a month ago my husband told me to mark the calendar for a special February 28th Surprise Date Night. Yesterday at lunch I asked him if I could know what it is that we were going to be doing, so that I would know whether or not to have supper made for the kids or if our friends who would be watching them were making the meal or -- ?

Jonathan sadly told me that he did have a date night planned. He had bought tickets to the traveling production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast
but that the company cleaning our house had packed up the tickets and wouldn't let him look for them. He had remembered the tickets when they were packing up our house and was hastily trying to locate them before they were packed. Jonathan was running around the house and I was thinking, "What is it that he's looking for?! What's he doing!?" No one could tell him where our tickets were. He spent a few weeks making calls, talking to anyone and everyone (even the theater) trying to find our tickets. Alas, no one would help. So he told me that he had really wanted to take me to see Beauty and the Beast but that our tickets were lost. We could still have dinner out but we wouldn't be able to go to the show after all and he was sorry.

I had known the show was traveling through. But I had told myself that no matter how much I WANTED to go, it was really impractical to arrange that with the children. The show is 45 minutes away and we have three little children. (If you actually have little children you know the difficulty. It's not as easy as saying, "Oh, I'll find a babysitter!") So I resigned myself to the fact that I would miss the show and I would be ok with that. Children are more important than Broadway musicals and this is a very true fact. When Jonathan told me he had tickets and had arranged for babysitters I was happy and sad, but ultimately ok with missing it. After all, I hadn't expected to see it. He shall have his brownie points for trying so hard!

Lunch was over and Jonathan went back to work.

And then my phone rang.

He called the theater one more time to make a last ditch effort to see if they would reprint our tickets and let us in.

They would!

They did!

Eighteen years ago I wanted to see this musical so very much! For eighteen years I've said, "If I could see ANY Broadway musical, it would be Disney's Beauty and the Beast!"

Last night I saw it with my husband.

was magical. And it was perfect.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The FFF I *Need* to Acknowledge

I've been posting my Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story) over at Reading to Know but I'm going to start posting here instead. It seems more fitting.

Things I'm grateful for this week:

1. It's Friday. Plain and simple.

2. A morning out with my girl. A friend is coming over to play with the boys so I can get out and run some errands and I'm looking forward to that. There aren't any *exciting* errands and I'm telling myself that's ok. Sometimes just the mundane of getting to get out and accomplish things on the To Do list needs to be enough.

3. Housework. Yesterday I was bored. Bored, bored, bored. There wasn't much to clean, wasn't much to do, and I realized that there is beauty and comfortable predictability in having housework to do. Usually there is a mountain of things to be done but here in our temporary home it can all be wrapped up in about half an hour. At first I found this freedom of cleaning perfectly glorious. But it's starting to get old; it feels like we're on this long vacation with no end in sight. Except we're not on vacation and there's no rhythm of laundry, bread making, etc. Here I wait until the laundry basket is full and I eagerly carry it to the washing machine. I'm afraid I might wear out our clothes by washing them, for the sheer joy of having something to do.

4. Like-minded friends. Last night we had dinner our Forks Over Knives friends. (I think that's what I'll start to call them. The Forks Over Knives friends. ha! How do you like that?) It was our first We Are Almost Officially Vegetarian People meal together and it's kind of interesting sitting at a table and eating your vision. (That sounds weird but hopefully you know what I mean.) We talked of gardening and they showed me their new compost pile. (And it didn't stink.) It's just kind of fun to be at the start of the gardening / fruits and veggie journey at the same time as close friends. Everyone is learning. Everyone has something to share. Everyone is excited. I enjoyed it.

5. Sunshine. Rain is predicted today (and for the next several days.) So to sit here in the sunshine and finish up my breakfast is nice. If this could last until lunchtime, I'd feel quite satisfied. ;)

Learning. Growing. Being bored. Doing some more learning.

That seems to summarize things around here!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Random Bits

Random Note #1:

I suppose these random notes would be status updates on Facebook if I still had Facebook. Which I don't. I mentioned the other day that I gave it up. I gave it up for a few reasons, one of which was because I'm not quite certain it is healthy for true and genuine relationships. It's easy for me to think that I know who a person is, how they think or what's going on in their lives based on their status updates. I might think I know the extent of things to the point where I don't seek them out in person to catch up and find out what's new in their world. Facebook seems to leave people living and relating to one another based on assumptions. Facebook is fun but even *I* don't use it to share what's real most of the time. I think blogs are better because you have more space to explain your person and your thoughts. Still, I don't think that a blog should cause anyone to think that they really know another. It's a fantastic start but if you really want to know me, have a good long conversation with me (or two or twenty) face-to-face. I'm quite cautious (despite what it might look like at times) about what I put in print online. I think great wisdom needs to be exercised in what is typed before the "publish" button is posted. Words do have their effect, be they written or spoken. Which sort of makes my point about Facebook . . . and sort of makes me feel like I should delete this post.

(Please do not read that I'm feeling high and mighty about my decision re: Facebook. I don't feel that way at all. Rather, I miss it. I have withdraws. I'm pretty sure I'm missing fun things. But it is what it needs to be right now.)

Random Note #2:

Some friends of ours watched the following documentary and then we followed suit. It was very intriguing. It's persuasive in a good way but we still refer to it as a "propaganda" film around these parts.

The general idea of the film is this: meat and dairy are bad for you. Whole grains, fruits and veggies are good for you. Eat the former, die sooner. Eat the latter, live a long, healthy and active lifestyle.

I'm not here to argue that one side or the other is right. We just thought this film was interesting. Jonathan was raised in a vegan home and I was raised in South Texas. (You know....the land of Barbecue and Crisco.) We combined our likes and dislikes when we got married. He discovered the deliciousness that is beef stew. I discovered that lettuce is not to be defined by iceberg and it is terrifically fun to eat produce fresh from the farm. Cheese makes most everything taste better.

We don't actually eat that much beef (more so when pregnant) and compared to your traditional American diet (these days) we're quite healthy. We make our own granola and yogurt, bake our own bread, and very seldom do we eat out. We're a few moderate steps away from being considered vegetarians as it is. We're not going to go all vegan just because we watched this one documentary but we've decided to take a few additional steps in that direction. Mostly we'll just eat even less meat than we have (ditching about half of our chicken consumption, I'd say) and eliminate beef (at least when not pregnant.) More fruits and veggies. I think that just makes sense. The biggest adjustment has been mine because I've been the major milk drinker of the family and I gave that up as of this week. (Whimper and sigh.)

Random Note #3 -

Today I had a doctor's appointment and received some updated immunization shots and had some blood work done. I came home with bandaids on both arms.

I live in the MOST sympathetic house when it comes to receiving "pokies" from the doctor. I showed off my Bandaid wounds to my children and received cries of horror and sympathy both.

I have endured much today. Strangely, this did not seem to translate into proceeding into the afternoon in a quiet and obedient fashion as a "reward" to mommy for braving the needleS. Ah well.

Random Note #4 -

I just finished reading Girls Uncovered: New Research on What America's Sexual Culture Does to Young Women and I'm prepared to start harping about it. Consider yourself forewarned. (If you have a daughter, go ahead and grab a copy! If you're single, go ahead and grab a copy!)

Random Note #5 -

I am off to figure out how to attack an eggplant and bring it under submission . . .

Monday, February 20, 2012

For a laugh

A friend sent this to me this past weekend. She says she sees this in my daughter's future . . .

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Friday's Favorite Five

I've been posting my Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story) over at Reading to Know but I'm going to start posting here instead. It seems more fitting.

Things I'm grateful for this week:

1. That we're all getting over this cold which has lingered for much longer than colds normally do. Last week we were on the run every single day, trying to re-organize life after The Great Smoke Out. (The event has to have a name and it has to be in all caps.) This week we've have some downtime where we've just been able to stay home and rest and so we're beginning to recover. Although it's just stuffy noses, they really become annoying after a bit!

2. The fact that there are no neighbors in the townhouse that we share a wall with. One day there was some construction going on in townhouse connected to us and I was all in a I'm-going-to-HURT-someone-if-they-don't-stop-POUNDING-ON-THE-WALLS-!!!-mood. (They were pounding during naptime. I was ready to walk the baby next door if they woke her up. I confess this so that you don't think my attitude about this new living situation is always good. I miss having four walls that are all my own and no one else's.) However, we've been thankful that no one is living next door for the time being. We can't hear nobody and they can't hear us. Hurray!

3. Bookclub! I love my local bookclub and the fellowship it offers. Bookclub was this past week and we read my favorite Mysterious Benedict Society. Happiness! (No one else in the club had ever read it and so I feel I've done my duty by at least six other people. They all liked it. Of course. You would too. I just know it.)

4. Friends who are willing to babysit when we need to be at the house working with adjusters.

5. Predictably calm and quiet evenings with my husband. And we can still watch Castle! :)

Looking forward to a three day weekend!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Because I Love You (it's not just about pancakes)

Remember the pancakes I Made With Love the other day? These were the ones. (If you're bothered because I used a mix, just remember - I have no pantry at the moment. Normally our pancakes are home made but, for now, we're having to scout out pre-made stuff to some degree or another. But I digress.)

I'm here on this Valentine's Day to introduce you to Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking & Pancake Mix. I really had no intention of introducing you to this particular product because, well, it's just a mix. But last night I was divinely inspired to try something new with the leftovers that we had and they were so delicious that I think I might start a new tradition with our own homemade pancakes whensoever we might eat them again.

For starters, we decided to try this mix. And on the box it says that it makes 12-14 pancakes. I didn't really believe you could get 12-14 hearty pancakes out of a box so I bought two boxes and mixed them both. You should know that Trader Joe's doesn't lie. Each box does make 12-14 HEARTY
(hearty! hearty! hearty!) pancakes. There's no way we could eat two boxes worth and also no way I could reasonably store the batter so I had to go ahead and make them all. Five people. Thirty-ish pancakes. Broken bathroom scales if you aren't careful. (And even more risky when you are presently without a bathroom scale and are playing constant guessing games with the food you are eating, using only the comfort of your pants to guide you as you diet or don't.)

Anyway, we made these pancakes, right? And we had a lot of leftovers.

Last night I asked my boys if they wanted to try cheesy pancakes and they agreed with very suspicious looks on their faces.

But do this:

  1. Make a Trader Joe's multi-grained pancake (or 20.)
  2. Get a slice of provolone cheese and melt it over the top, completely covering the pancake.
  3. Take some applesauce and spread it over the pancake.
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.
  5. Eat it.
  6. Do not blame Carrie if you end up gaining 5+ pounds in this process. (I can't officially tell you how much you'll gain because I don't have a scale right now. But I ordered a new one because, let's face it, we all need a scale around to help keep us accountable! And there are still some pancakes in the fridge. I might eat one today.)

I think that ultimately you will thank me for my pancake advice. Either that or your children and your children's children will. You will be popular. Because who doesn't like bread-y, cheese-y goodness with cinnamon on top!?!? You might as well put ice cream on it for good measure.

It is so good. Consider this my Valentine's Day Gift to You.

*End of infomercial.*

Monday, February 13, 2012

Songs for a Broken Record

I feel like all I can talk or think about these days is the present situation that our family is in. It is rather all consuming but I also recognize it as being a temporary stage of life. It might not exactly feel temporary, but it really is. The best thing to do is to learn the lessons that God has for us in this and wait for Him to move on our behalf (especially whereas the insurance company is concerned, it would appear!)

At the beginning of the year I had been thinking about how it would be nice to simplify life a bit, but I wasn't exactly sure how to do that. I wanted to declutter - but how? I wanted more time for people, but I wasn't sure how to carve that out. It's painfully "easy" to have God do that for you. We simplify. We are forced to say goodbye to our belongings. We are forced to slow down. We discover time for conversations and fellowship that we didn't know existed - all in one short week's time. (More on this later.) In short, we learn to live on the bare necessities and discover it's really not so bad after all. We probably have more now than we did when we had it, if that makes any sense to you at all! (It does to me, but I'm still working on words to elaborate the point.)

A friend of mine sent me the link to the following song, for a grin, to illustrate the point in a humorous way.

When I woke up Sunday morning I had this Steve Green song in my head. It has been a long time since I've thought of this particular song but God's timing is pretty much, oh, perfect. The lyrics are simple. Which is sometimes just how you need them to be!

I don't need to have a plan in hand,
I don't need to have the end in sight
All I need to do is follow You wherever You lead
and do what You ask me to.

Trusting You Lord with all my heart,
following You all my days;
whether I can or can't understand,
I'll acknowledge You in all my ways.

I don't need to have a plan in hand,
I don't need to have the end in sight
All I need to do is follow You wherever You lead
and do what you ask me to.

Though I am pressed on every side,
I am not in despair.
My faith in You will carry me through
Though I may not see where You're leading me.

The plan right now is No Plan. (At least for today.) It's a strangely good plan. I am working on being good with it.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I've been posting my Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story) over at Reading to Know but I'm going to start posting here instead. It seems more fitting.

Things I'm grateful for today (most of which relate to The Great Smoke Out which has changed up our living conditions in the past week!):

1. A wooden stirring spoon. Of course, I'm unable to use any utensils from my own kitchen at the moment and the temporary housing we're in does not have a decent stirring spoon. You might think I'm over exaggerating but I'm SO NOT! I was trying to mix up some pancake batter with a spoon that was so bendy it was like trying to stir something with a straw. I eventually mixed the batter by hand. No, my ACTUAL HAND. It worked better than the spoon. At any rate, I was grateful that our cleaning company gave us approval to replace our wooden spoons and I went out and bought a set post haste. (Anyone want a pancake? They were made with love!) ha!

2. I'm grateful that we got our computer back! They cleaned that right away. It's kinda hard not to have a computer around I discovered. I don't really know what day it is without a full sized screen announcing it to me. I'm not sure how pathetic that is just yet.

3. The fact that my mom has been out here visiting this week. It's been SO helpful to have someone around to tend the kids while we've been running about trying to take care of house matters. She's been just as much a trooper as anyone! This isn't exactly the visit she envisioned.

4. Our church family. They've just been incredible, loaning the kids clothes, loaning us kitchen supplies, offering up freezer space so we could transfer things over that we didn't want to lose. It's been SUCH a blessing!

5. You all. Your notes, e-mails and comments of encouragement have been a huge blessing and they each put a smile on my face.

Lastly, I have to share this song because it's kind of becoming the theme these days:

Give me faith to follow where You lead me
Oh Lord give me the courage and the strength to do
Whatever! Whatever You say!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

He is Three

He's been claiming he's three years old ever since his brother's birthday last October. Tomorrow we'll make it official. He'll turn three and we'll eat ice cream and celebrate.

Every year on this date I think about his birth mother and I wonder if she's remembering. I wonder if she's guessing where he is and who he is becoming. I wonder if she'd be surprised to discover where he is, or if she just assumed it. I wonder if she misses him. (How could she not? I cannot fathom that!)

If she were here she'd know that he likes ice cream but isn't very fond of cake. He prefers veggies to sweets. He thanks me whenever I make asparagus. He also likes bread. He loves bread.

I wonder if she'd be amazed by his train obsession. Would she think it's funny when he's awoken out of a deep sleep and his first words are "choo choo"? He loves hearing the trains go through town. He usually has a toy train in hand. His first choice of a book to read always includes this particular subject matter. He is learning his colors based on the engine colors in Thomas the Tank Engine.

He is completely outgoing. He's never met anyone he didn't like. I wonder who he takes after in this regard. He knows few strangers. When he was 1 and then 2 he would say, "'ELLO!" to every single person he met. Every. single. person. People all over town stop to say hello back and everyone tells him he's cute. Because he is, of course, but also because he looks happy.

He loves slapstick humor. He has the most hilarious gasping laugh I think I might have ever heard. He loves to laugh. Best is the laughter which comes of being tickled.

I wonder if she's a slow eater because he sure is. I've never seen anyone take smaller bites or chew anything more thoroughly. We used to think he just ate slow to drive us slowly crazy. We discovered it really didn't matter what it was you put in front of him - he just wants to take his time chewing it (to absolute mush.) Cookies are eaten at the same rate as pasta, same as bread, same as vegetables. On the eve of his third birthday it took him over an hour to eat his dinner. That wasn't because he didn't like it. He was just taking his time.

If she wonders if he has siblings, the answer is yes. He has two and he loves them both. He mimics the elder and instructs the younger. He takes fastidious good care of baby, hollering for mommy and daddy whenever it looks as if she's into something that she shouldn't be. He likes to make her laugh and will repeat an action that produced a giggle from her over and over again until she's done laughing.

He is tall. Taller than you'd think for his age, considering his ethnicity. He fits into our family of tall people (males). He's a perfect fit, actually.

Not every day is perfect. Not every day will be perfect. But I do know without a single doubt that he was made for us, and we were made for him. Her choice was sacrificial and hard to wrap one's mind around. I'm sure there are things she misses. I'm sure there are things she wishes that she knew. I can't imagine that she would desire anything less than to say Happy Birthday to my second born - her first - tomorrow. But she is not able to. I will say it for the both of us. And we will love him as our son for all of us, for now. Maybe one day she'll know him and they can ask each other questions and find answers. But for now, we are here. And tomorrow he will be three. And we will celebrate and be thankful.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

At least a month

We're displaced. For at least a month. Insurance has moved us into a temporary home and clean-up has begun. (In the sense that they have gigantic air filters trying to make the air safe for workers to breathe!)

Tomorrow we attend the inventory process of our home. We will watch as they go through all of our clothes, telling us which ones they can clean and which need to be replaced. We will see what we own and discover what we care about. Or what we do not care about. It's going to be interesting!

In the meantime, we're in a new home for the time being, making do with what we have. Serving soup through a slotted spoon. (I can't say I was very happy about that but once I thought to use a bowl as a serving spoon, my mood improved.) We adapt. We learn. We grow. We look forward with hope. But in the meantime? We learn to really live and recognize the things in life which really matter. In some moments we fail to see accurately, in others we do. It's all part of the adventure.

Friday, February 3, 2012

There's not *always* fire where there is smoke (and other things to be grateful for)

Ironically, the same day that this post went up, I almost burned the house down.

On Wednesday night I was exhausted but feeling like I needed to do something productive anyway. So, I put a chicken on the stove to cook at 6 p.m. At 7:00 p.m. my husband asked me if he should set a timer for the chicken to make sure that we didn't forget it. I mumbled, "Yes, that's probably a good idea." But he didn't really hear me. This ended up being one of those fabulous moments of miscommunication in marriage which wakes you up at 2:30 a.m. in a house full of thick smoke.

I woke up because I was dreaming that something really stunk. I woke up and discovered things really did stink. They stunk bad. I ran out of the bedroom and into the kitchen and removed the offending chicken pot from the stove. Then I started thinking about the children in their bedroom which is located directly above the kitchen.

Their room smelled hideous and our oldest was complaining of a sore throat. Baby had thankfully wrapped herself up in a blanket and thus had a filter over her mouth and nose. Bookworm2 had a cough going in his sleep. We moved them to the basement and, after awhile, went back to sleep, thankful to have woken up in the first place.

It's a good thing I just read Keeping House because it's taken the edge off of the 52 million loads of laundry I've had to do since The Great Smoke Out. I don't mind the housework. It's sort of it's own adventure. I like things to change fairly frequently. Perhaps not in such an intense fashion though. Jonathan told me that I didn't need to cook a chicken next time I wanted the carpets cleaned. It'd be cheaper just to clean the carpets, sans chicken.

There are a host of things to be grateful for, none the least of which is that we're all alive and healthy.

1. A clean house. The couch was cleaned, the carpets were cleaned, and every single stitch of fabric in our house is in the process of being cleaned.

2. Oxiclean. Wonderful thing, that.

3. Children who think that this is an adventure. Bookworm1 is just happy he doesn't have to clean. He announced that he was having way more fun than I was, being allowed to stay downstairs and play all day.

4. The Body of Christ who has rallied around us, offering meals, taking a few loads of laundry and offering us space in their trashcans after ours ran out of room.

5. A forgiving husband who mirrors Christ to me in this. He could be really mad. But he isn't. He extended instant forgiveness and we're moving on.

6. The smell in our house has really been so bad that I've been reminded that our sin is a stench in God's nostrils. And yet - despite our many and varied sins, He forgives us and sends sunshine and human friendship to allow us to heal, air out, and feel richly satisfied.

It IS an adventure around here! On its face it may not seem much like a good one - but really, it is.

Other amusing note: last night we went out to dinner (because, well, we had to) and one of our options was Blackened Chicken. We took a pass!