Sunday, January 31, 2010

Home-baked goodness

Paul shot these from our living room window:
Such a wonder, even after you've seen it a hundred times:

So, yesterday was a pretty lazy Saturday. At least for me. Paul and I had sort of a mini date Friday night after the kids went to bed (i.e., we ordered Thai takeout and ate in front of the TV and took as long as we wanted to enjoy our food and had as much of it as we wanted without stopping every 30 seconds to hand a sippy cup to someone or cut food for someone else, etc.). The food was great, but about 10 minutes after dinner, I started to feel what would eventually knock me out for a full Saturday. Not sure if our takeout was solely to blame, since Paul didn't get sick, but the timing seems a bit uncanny. I was sad about this mostly because we had our season's third snow, and it was just the perfect amount (about 6 inches) and a great temperature to be out playing with the kids.
Paul, who really needed to spend some time this weekend diving into work for his latest class (he's working on a master's in theology), spent half of his weekend fully responsible for the kids (which entails the regular feeding and naptimes, plus extra weekend things like Charlie's ballet class) and also for his very ill wife, who could do little other than lie in bed and call for a glass of water or a dry piece of toast. He did a really great job, and fussed only a little. :) I just wanted to acknowledge here what a blessing he is to me. Thanks, Paul.
Sunday morning I woke up feeling so much better, that I decided to bake bread for the family to enjoy on a snowy January day. My friend Joy (who is apparently my only friend who has a Blogger ID, on account that she is the only reader who ever leaves a comment--thanks, Joy) tried this recipe from Catherine Newman when we visited just after New Year's, and I've been wanting to try it. It turned out sooo tasty, and I really can't believe what little effort went into it. I tried it with just regular old organic unbleached all-purpose flour, but next time I'd like to try some different flours, as Catherine suggests.
If you already enjoy baking bread and would like to try a simple recipe with incredible results or have never tried and would like to get started somehow, this recipe is a keeper. Please go check it out. You'll also LOVE Catherine Newman. She's hilarious and so talented.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just a couple thoughts

Really quickly, before I get on with the actual post, I just want to share a couple of pics of my latest sewing projects. I have a new love, by the way. It's a Janome Juno serger, and I just can't keep my hands off of it (thanks, Mom and Dad! Merry Christmas to me!). Anyway, I've been planning to visit my sister, Stephanie, just as soon as she is home from her surgery. I'll be taking Judah on the plane with me (and leaving Charlie and Paul at home :( ), so I'm trying to find the perfect little activities to take for Judah. Here are a couple of pics of a backpack that I made just for him and also a little crayon roll, not that he'll do much coloring. I'm thinking more along the lines of him taking the crayons out and putting them back in over and over again. Hopefully, that will kill at least a few minutes and then eventually (sometime in the next year?) he'll actually color with them.


These projects are helping to keep me focused on something, while I regret that I can't do much to help my sister right now. It sucks. Being so far away. I can't wait to get there and DO SOMETHING! It reminds me (once again) of one of my favorite poems.
John Milton
On His Blindness
WHEN I consider how my light is spent
E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.
(Milton is writing about the fact that he lost his sight before he had written anything that he would consider a masterpiece. He'd felt very strongly about the idea that God was calling him to write Paradise Lost, and when he became blind, he truly had no idea how he was going to accomplish his goal. So, the poem is about the period of time between losing his sight and being able to finish his greatest work.)
Oh, I love this poem. It speaks so beautifully of how God can use us, even when we feel useless. God doesn't need to use us--He can accomplish whatever he wants without us. But he allows us to be a part of the greater picture, the beauty of his ministry.
In heaven, the angels of the highest position are the angels that do nothing but "stand and wait" at the throne of the Almighty. Revelation 4:8 says, "Day and night without ceasing they sing, 'Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.'" It's remarkable to me that this is the entire task that God asks of these angels. Maybe they could be doing something more useful somewhere, no? But the point is, they are glorifying Him. This is where God wants them, and what an incredible duty!
Getting to my point, I'm having a hard time with being so helpless when it comes to Stephanie and her family. But God has me right where I should be, and what I should be doing is praying for her and all the rest of them and praising God for what He's done! By making use of my time this way, I'm trusting Him fully to have His will. After all, He's completely in control, isn't He?
Please follow Stephanie's progress with me here. We would all appreciate your prayers and warm thoughts. Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hi. I'm Judah. I'm a boy. My mission is to seek and destroy.

This little guy is growing up waaay too fast. He has recently started walking, which I was wondering if he was ever going to get around to. He has seemed perfectly content crawling faster than I can run and occasionally walking on his knees.

I used to think that Charlie was a handful of a baby, and then I had my boy, Judah. Goodness gracious he keeps me busy. Today I had to lift the grate off the top of the heater in order to extract about a dozen crayons and color pencils that he decided to hide in there while I turned my head for five seconds.

But he is oh so sweet. There is nothing I love more than a smile on one of my kids' faces. I mean, look at him! Couldn't you just eat him? And he's still such a cuddler. I finally realized the other day that what I thought were cute sounds that he makes are actually words. He says "mook" when he wants to nurse, and "aye ya ya" means "I love you" (i think) when he's waving good-bye. He's just growing up so fast.

Here's a short clip of some of his first steps:

video

These photos and the one above were taken by my very talented friend, John. You can find his website here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hibernating

First off, I'm sorry it's been so long. I have great excuses, but really I'm sorry. Mainly, I haven't downloaded Christmas pictures yet because our computer fell in the way of a certain boy's coffee spill (thank you, Judah). Before you scream, "How did Judah spill hot coffee?" please understand, that it was cold coffee. Of course it was cold coffee. I haven't had the pleasure of finishing a hot cup of coffee since I gave birth to my first baby over 4 years ago. Anyway, so the computer is on the fritz, and Paul hooked up our old computer in the meantime, and I don't want to put new pictures on the old computer because I'm desperately hoping that we can restore life to the "new" computer.
Because there are no Christmas pictures to update the blog, I feel a little out of sorts just writing. But I find that I have lots to say, so here goes (with no pictures).
I find January introspective. After all the busyness of the holidays, now is the time to sit inside with a cup of hot chocolate and do a little housekeeping. And by the way, this January is not the beginning of a new decade, okay? It's the end of one. Sorry for the English major moment, but that kind of thing drives me nuts.
2010 has punched us in the face. Really, it's been cold, hasn't it? Geeze, I mean really, really cold. We had such a lovely December snow, then such a wonderful trip celebrating Christmas with friends and family, then we get home, and practically before the car is unpacked, POW! Welcome to the coldest January EVER! I'm cooped up in the house with the kids (my own, plus others), and then the work week finally ends, and I think I'm going to have a chance to get out, but no, instead I find that I have come down with a breast infection. My fourth since Judah was born, and by far the worst I've every endured. I'm finally on the mend, which is wonderful, but it was pretty rough there for a few days.
I hate to complain about this sickness when my sister, Stephanie, is lying in a hospital bed in Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. This girl is amazing, let me tell you. She was born with a heart defect and has undergone multiple open heart surgeries over her lifetime, the latest of which was two days ago. And her spirit is not broken. She has so much faith in her God, that just before they wheeled her away, she was comforting her husband and my parents. Her example throughout this entire saga has been one of absolute trust in God's love and His ability to provide. You can follow her process here. I love you, Steph, and am praying for you constantly and can't wait to throw my arms around you again and give you the biggest hug--carefully, of course. :)
If you follow the link, you can read about her goals for her recovery. Number one is "Don't waste life." Which is essentially where I'd like to go with this post.
I've got some New Year's resolutions, or goals, I'd rather call them:
1) Strengthen my prayer life. I've started a family prayer book, and I'd like to start using it. I'd like to really develop my relationship with God in this way.
2) Tighten up our eating habits. This includes more raw foods, more fruits and vegetables, less eating out. I don't have any very specific resolutions here, just general ideas.
3) Pay off our credit card debt by September. Why September? I don't know. I just think it's realistic.
4) Exercise. I need to be running 2-3 times per week and doing something else at least that much. We quit our gym membership a few months back due to money, so it'll probably be Pilates at home with the DVD.
5) To quote my sister, "Don't waste life." I love this. Stephanie and I have talked a lot about the kinds of things that preoccupy a mom. I could seriously spend the day cleaning, organizing, etc. because I'm at home all day with the kids. And being home with the kids is where I want to be. I wouldn't change this for anything, but I need to keep my focus.
Yes, it's important to me to have a clean, orderly house. But I need to remember WHY it's important. If I lose sight of that, then I become a slave to my obsession to have the perfect household, and my children see that what is important is the house and not them. It's a delicate balance game. It's the whole "Be a Mary, not a Martha" thing (if you're not familiar, in Luke 10, Jesus is visiting with the sisters Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. There are lots of poeple there, and Jesus is spending time with everyone, and Mary is at His feet, while Martha is running around the house making food, probably washing the dishes, just trying to keep everything orderly. Jesus ends up rebuking Martha and telling her to be more like her sister and just chill). I've always identifies with Martha here, because if it weren't for the Marthas of the world, what would everybody eat? How would all the Marys survive? But the point is, as I said before, remember WHY you're doing it all. Nothing we do matters if we don't have the right focus.
So, if the laundry has to stay in a pile for a while, or the sink has to be cluttered with dishes so that I can read a book to my daughter or wrestle with the kids on the bed, then it's okay. So, my final goal is to learn how to just let go a little bit. I think the whole family can benefit from that.