Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blog Rewind: Give Us This Day...


I didn't know what time it was when Josiah touched my face and said, "Momma, let's bake bread." I knew I had been sleeping but being awakened by his sweet disposition has never bothered me a bit. He climbed into bed beside me, his cold toes waking my warm legs. Every time I opened my eyes and grinned at my sweet boy, he was smiling right back at me, waiting for me to wake.

"Momma, can we please bake bread? I want to bake bread. Can we please get up and bake?"

I put my feet on the floor and fumbled for my glasses. He was eager to get started and took my hand to gently pull me forward. We were in the kitchen, bowl on the counter, before I checked the clock. It was 6:15. AM. Seriously.

What to do? By then I was up and the beaming boy by my side was half in the fridge, half out, searching for yeast. I pulled out recipes and we began. The house was quiet and the smell of dough filled the air. It has been unusually cool this week and all the windows stood open allowing us to listen to the birds outside while we mixed milk and yeast and sugar and flour. We chatted in whispers about baking and bread and what we would do with the dough. Josiah pulled out the cinnamon sugar and decided one loaf would be sweet and one would be plain. By the time we had set the dough to rise, Noah rolled down the stairs with a smile and hug. He wanted to help...

The zucchini in our garden had finally started to grow and there were three zukes sitting on the island. I sent Noah on a hunt for other ingredients and we got ready to make zucchini bread for the family. With everything gathered, I put a bowl in front of Josiah and another in front of Noah and we decide to quadruple the recipe. Each boy would mix a double batch. A pinch of cinnamon, a bit of pineapple, grated zucchini... and lots of easy chatter and in no time at all, we had a bunch of batter ready to bake.

When it was all said and done, we had a loaf of white bread, a loaf of cinnamon bread, 5 loaves of zuke bread, 24 mini zuke muffins and 12 full sized muffins of the same. The house smelled like heaven and as the pile of baked goods on the island grew, in wandered our family, now awake, to start the day with something good and warm.

As I worked in the garden later that morning, one thing ran through my head again and again. "Give us this day, our daily bread. Give us this day, our daily bread. Give us this day, our daily bread."

And He did. Can you see? All that we needed... God gave freely and simply. Time with my children. Their voices in my ears. A project shared together... and with others as well. And bread. Bread for today. Bread that satisfies our bellies for now. Bread that fills our hearts for now... and maybe for some time to come.

I didn't know what time it was when Josiah touched my face. I could have checked the clock. I could have said no. I could have slept in. How hungry I would have been.




Zucchini Bread


3 eggs, beaten
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

I add all ingredients except the zuke and pineapple. Mix well, then add the zuke and pinapple last. I cut the oil in half, replacing with homemade (no sugar added) applesauce. You could easily cut the sugar down, or replace with a more natural version. We have toyed with honey, brown sugar or turbinado. I add ground flax seeds as well (likely a titch under a cup per recipe). I also sometimes add wheat germ. Bake in loaf pans for about an hour at 350 degrees.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Garage Sale and Blue's Clues and What I Get to Keep

I love a good garage sale. I don't go out looking for them nearly enough but love the idea of finding something needed at a good price. This week, I am learning something... I needed to respect those folks who are selling their things a lot more than I have. Because it can be hard. To let go.

At least that's how it is for me.

On Friday, I am joining my best friend's sale and have spent the better part of a week pulling out old things to offer. We have a lot of old things because I am just not very good at this at all. For me, it almost feels like the memories are tied into the fabric of the tiny, little clothes my sweet little ones wore. Running my hand across the fuzzy jammies, eyelet laced dresses and small sweater vests brings back a rush of scenes of mommy-hood that makes me catch my breath.

The first box we opened was topped with matching blue jammies, size 2t and 12 months. Noah and Benjamin wore these long ago and I immediately remembered watching them walk down a long hall, hand in hand, with my best friend's dad. Tears welled in my eyes as I reached for the footie pjs and I very nearly gave up on the idea of the garage sale altogether. If I keep the clothes, I keep the memories... Right? Hmmm....

I decided to keep going. For hours, Mark and I pulled out little clothes from boxes stored long ago. We smiled secret smiles at each other and remembered life with four little ones... special outings, favorite shirts, outfits over-worn and some still with tags. It was gut-wrenching and happy and nostalgic and... hard.

I came across a Blues Clues shirt then... a size 3t. Both of the older boys wore it and loved it so much. Blues Clues was one of the first shows they ever got to watch... with Steve, of course. Not Joe. Mark got a little twinkle in his eye then... an idea coming to play.

"Hey Benjamin, wanna make your momma cry?" he said, smiling.

Benjamin looked curious.

Mark continued, "Put this shirt on!" and then threw the shirt toward my second-born.

Benjamin loves a challenge and without even taking off the shirt he was currently wearing, started to pour his skinny 11 year old self into the Blue's Clues shirt. With it finally on, he smiled in my direction... white shirt over grey... Blue being tugged across his rib cage and the bottom of the shirt settling just inches below his armpits.

It's true. I almost cried. The visual reminder of how much he had grown was honestly too much. The goofy blue dog smiling simply as he sat on my boy's torso. The older look shining from Benjamin's eyes as the straight-forward, easy-to-understand puppy looked on. I couldn't take my eyes off him. I couldn't look away. How did we get to this place? How did my kids get so very old?

Mark was giggling and said out loud, "Be careful Benjamin, a picture of this is going to end up on Momma's blog!"

The realization that this really could happen hit Benjamin and I together. Quick as I could I glanced for a camera, my phone, anything to snap a shot! In Benjamin's horror, he began to fight the little shirt and suddenly realized he was trapped. Trapped in a tiny tee.

The sight was then so funny... and my hunt for a camera forgotten. Benjamin was beginning to be frenzied... afraid that this scene might be shared outside the family and he pulled and he pushed and he got red-in-the-face. And, I was laughing. Laughing at the ridiculousness of it all... laughing at his worry... laughing at the sight of a tween in a Nick Jr. shirt.

"Oh Buddy, I think you will graduate from college in that shirt!" I laughed.

Finally, he freed an arm. The shirt came over the top of his curly locks and he shook it off the other side. I picked it up and looked at it... touched the embroidered Blue and folded it up for sale.

A couple of weeks ago, we went as a family to watch Toy Story 3. I cried like a baby through the entire end and felt a wealth of rich emotions for the loss of Andy's boyhood, for the blessing bestowed on Bonnie, for the life well-lived by a box of beautiful toys. Ahh but that look on Bonnie's face... the wonder and excitement at the thrill of brand new toys motivates me today.

Because the memories are mine. And they are not stored up in that shirt. Or the riding toy. Or the excer-saucer or the high chair or the blocks... The memories are mine. And allowing all these things to bless the life of some little one I don't yet know is not a loss... it is a passing on of all that is good. It is offering of what we loved to someone who will love it, too.

I love a good garage sale. This week, it is my babies' things that will be offered up...a good deal for another family to find what we so loved... and take it home and love it, too. I can let it go... because the memories are mine to keep.

And they are sweet.

Blessings on your day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook--July 6, 2010

If you blog, you can do this, too. C'mon, you can do it! Join in the fun!

Outside my window...It is hot and sunny today... yellow, summer light brightening my backyard... love it. : )

I am thinking... about She Speaks. Whatever bits of time I have to write this month will likely be spent on polishing the book proposal and sample chapters for the Stick book. Publisher meetings are upcoming and I am grateful for the opportunity to pitch my book.

I am thankful for... calmer days. Now that baseball has ended, we have time to be home together, my babies and I. It is a good thing...

From the kitchen... grilled, barbecue chicken, grilled potato slices with olive oil and rosemary, grilled pineapple? Thinking about it.

I am wearing...black capris and a grey t-shirt. Bare feet... broken toe. Bleh.

I am creating... my book! So glad to have a deadline... no time to waffle anymore! Gotta get it done! Gotta get a publisher! Dreaming of the next books... which is CRAZY but feels really good.

I am dreaming... about being in a better place financially. Less worry, less stress. We do not need much but I am so weary of our current situation. We are selling stuff at a garage sale this week and I am hoping to make a bit of money to set aside for tuition in the fall... How I love my kids' school.

I am going... to tag items for the garage sale and make a plan for dinner. Got floors cleaned already today, met a friend for coffee and putzed on chores... still a lot of day left.

I am reading... and re-reading chapters of my book. Trying to edit... not my gift. I am going over the book proposal and getting ready to read the direction given for several of the sectionals I will attend at She Speaks. My head is full.

I am hoping... for a book contract. Praying for a book contract. Wishing. Working. Striving.

I am hearing... Lego blocks hitting together as someone digs in the bin... pages turning on the book Josiah is reading while his feet rest on one side of a giant ball and mine are on the other... the voices of my children talking together while they play in our quiet house. It is a peaceful morning...

Around the house... Some rooms are clean... laundry needs to be done.... a watermelon is waiting to be wedged.

One of my favorite things... hope. Choosing to focus on the hopeful today.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Work for the garage sale, stay ahead on cooking, spend time doing devotions with my kiddos, water the garden, work on the book, work on the book, work on the book... Your prayers are valued.

Blessings on your day!

Looking for more like this?
http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Juggling

It's a hard thing to juggle, I gotta say. And sometimes, the balls all fall to the ground. Maybe that's okay.

The kids have been home for summer break for just about a month. The days vary from long and lazy to chaotic and crazy. The whole of it feels like a juggling act... the kids, the house, the writing, the blog, the million things that must be done at any given moment. Sometimes, something has to give. Ever feel that way?

For me, it has been the blog.

I would apologize... but I think you understand. With four kids in the house, it is hard to hear my thoughts, hard to find time to write, hard to steal off to an unoccupied room for long enough to write something readable. So, I had to let that ball fall...

And then there is the thinking it through... I feel inundated by the changes I see happening to my family and to process it well enough to share it with you seems out of reach for now. I am trying to understand what it looks like to: parent a teenager, find my role is in the life of my tween and go slow enough, each and every day, to gently meet the needs of my littlest ones. And it's a lot.

I was never really all that good at juggling anyway.

Yet, there is so much I want to share... so many things I am eager to write about...

Like:

1. Stopping to look at and listen to my children, even when they don't know I am there. I am finding this humbling and empowering, all at once...

2. Watching my older boys run off to camp... what I learned while they were away... and what I hope they learned, too.

3. Remembering what younger children need... and feeling horribly guilty that mine don't get it nearly enough.

4. Wondering at the summer days... the slow and sleepy pace of day upon day and night upon night and all that it holds and all that I hope for it.... hmmm... I am getting away from myself.

For now, I am so busy doing it all that it feels nearly impossible to write it all down. So, when the schedule clears and I have a bit more time, I think you might be sick of all I have to share! For now, I am here like you, juggling and watching ball after ball hit the ground. I am remembering that maybe letting it fall might be easier than fighting gravity.

Because, from where I sit, the view is sweet and I want to soak it up... even with balls at my feet.

Blessings on your day.
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