Monday, October 30, 2006

Apple Butter

i picked up some organic apples at the farmer's market in boulder last week, while having some girl-time (plus jonathan) with anne reed. organic produce can be expensive, but when i go i often ask if they have any "seconds", which are cosmetically blemished but still tasty to eat. they are usually about half the regular price that way.

then yesterday, i dusted off the ol' canner (thanks to chris' mom, who gave me hers a few years ago), and decided to can for the first time all season. i ususally like to can things like jam because i can do it for less money than buying it, and i know that there aren't any funky things added in like there can be from store-bought. there is something satisfying about seeing all the little jars lined up in a row in the pantry when i'm done.

it strikes me that it wasn't too many generations ago when one of the main ways to preserve food for the winter was to can it. the amount of work that goes in to processing one little jar is comparatively large, and the thought of being responsible for putting enough food away to survive makes me very grateful to not have that weight on my shoulders. my little batch of apple butter is miniscule compared to the amount of time and effort that went in to preserving the harvest in earlier times. that's part of the joy in it for me, to have this way to remember and appreciate the blessings of abundant food.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It's a Virtue

tonight i went to a bible study that i have been a part of for a few years. this semester i am more of a lurker because i just don't have the space for one more thing, so the homework goes by the wayside. however, this particular study is by Beth Moore, and if anyone has ever done one of her studies, you are aquainted with her dynamic video lectures (and good ol' southern-woman-hair).

this study is on the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control), with each characteristic getting a week each--this week was "patience". patience is one of those things that is joked about in christian circles, as in, don't pray for patience, because then you are *really* in for it. it almost feels like a superstition--the closer you get to patience, the harder your life will be, so beware of this one, girls! but tonight i was struck by the magnitude of my own impatience, and particularly with my boys. husband too, for that matter, but at least he can stand up for himself.

lately it feels like everything in my life is in fast-forward, and my children take the brunt of my inability to cope with all that we are and have been juggling. new job. new house. new baby. new dietary restrictions. and so i try to get here and there and this and that and meanwhile my kids are doing the things that kids do, like running over my feet with the mini-grocery carts at vitamin cottage, and ripping the newspaper into tiny pieces all over their room, and pummelling each other with the broomstick horse, and i just want them to or maybe it's nothing that they did at all, they are just too slow, too small, too tired, and i am unwilling to cut them any slack. when did they become the scapegoats for my own inadequacy?

so beth moore makes the observation that the times when others are driving us crazy are the times when God is working to refine the crap that is in our own hearts, to purify them so that we can become a truer likeness of him and more effective in our lives as believers. which makes total sense in my situation. my kids have nothing to do with the circumstances that surround our family right now--they had absolutely no say in them at all. and yet, how much easier is it for me to look at the things they do and think, 'if only they were not so _____, my life would be so much easier.' i could have the pretense of keeping it all together, of having some kind of storybook life, if only.

but then i see the wisdom of leaching all that ugliness out of my heart, so that i can look at my children when they are *being children* and give them some small piece of the grace that God has shown to me in the midst of my own shortcomings. so, i guess it's time to ditch the superstition, and pray for patience. because, God knows, i really need some.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Things to Remember

today is the sort of day that makes autumn my favorite season. leaves that fall gracefully and then crunch underfoot. skies that are sunny and shockingly blue. crisp air, and the sense that you have to make the most of this day because it just can't last.

things about jonathan: the way that he smiles so big that his body can't help but wiggle with joy when he sees me. the concentration face when The Fist has reappeared and he is working so hard to get it to his mouth...eyes crossed, tongue sticking partway out of a drooly mouth--precious! his obsession with rolling over onto his stomach--no one can stop him!--and it's only ever to the left.

things about daniel: his determination to do everything himself and the sweet way he mimics whatever his older brother does--a great love. his favorite stories are Harold and the Purple Crayon, and From Head to Toe by Eric Carle...and of course all the motions too. every morning he crawls into bed with me and snuggles quietly, then says "mama, can i have some brekis?"

things about nicholas: his song for jonathan--"it's ok baby, yo ho ho, yo ho ho", and the way that he always asks to give him a hug. his favorite thing to do is "be a helper", and last weekend he hauled concrete blocks into the minivan and into the dump with me--no easy task. how much he is memorizing: every night, chris reads a traditional prayer and sings a song with the boys, and nicholas can recite most of the prayer of st. francis, and can sing all the words to the song "Jude", a special song chris and i learned while working at the dale house project.

babies waking up...short naptime today

Sunday, October 22, 2006


i have a confession to make: i never work during naptime. with the exception of the occasional load of laundry thrown in or dishwasher started (only if there is no room to cook dinner), i do not do any chores while the children are sleeping. certainly not anything that would involve a lot of thought or effort, unless it is an Extreme Emergency. you know, like company is coming for dinner or we are packing to go on a trip.

why? because this is the only time of day that i can do whatever i feel like. i can think in complete sentences without interruption. i can read something (maybe even an actual book, without pictures!) i don't have to feed anyone, or clean up from feeding someone, or plan out what i will be feeding someone next. i can even, *drumroll please*, Take a Nap--apparently the most controversial of all naptime activities. but, if i have been up 3 or 4 times during the night, which has been common lately, or i am gestating (and lets face it--when have i not been gestating these last 5 years), it is really hard for me to get through the day and still be civil to my children without closing my eyes for a while.

it makes sense to me. if i were working outside the home, i would have 2 smokebreaks and an hour for lunch. even the most harried of professionals has to commute to and from work--all alone in the car, listening to whatever radio station they want, and i'm guessing no one is yelling at the top of their lungs "mama, brother is touching me!!"

i recently learned that not all mothers do this, taking time out while the kiddos are asleep. i was told that several of my friends feel that naptime is a perfect time to "catch up" on things around the house, and often feel that they don't have time to rest because there is too much to do. which made me wonder if i am the only one who does this. and if so, does that make me the Laziest Mother on the Block?

Saturday, October 21, 2006


day number two and this is really pretty a couple of emails, a comment (thanks mom!) and enough positive reinforcement to make any dog proud. ("waiting for the dinner bell to do the bell thing, dinner bell, dinner bell, ding"). seems like a pretty good start.

today marked the third installment in the quest to find a gluten-free pie crust that is worth eating. three or four weeks ago, our doctor suggested that we try a gluten free diet for our middle son daniel, who had had diarrhea pretty much all summer long. we noticed it for a while, but then jonathan was born so everything else was put on the back burner, and then we thought that maybe it was just too much fruit, and then we tried probiotics, and then all of a sudden we were struck by the fact that several months had passed and maybe we should take him into the doctor. poor, neglected middle child.

anyway, we are a little over three weeks into the experiment, and daniel seems to really be improving...better diapers, and he seems to be lacking that overall tired, sick look around the eyes that i didn't really notice until it was gone. wonderful mother that i am, i was really hoping that it was going to be giardia, or some other terrible but easily curable microscopic problem--anything but gluten, which anyone who has had to deal with allergies can tell you is in everything, and i do mean *everything*. soy sauce. rice crispies, for heaven's sake.

which leads me to the piecrust. i have been trying to find a good substitute for good ol' gluten-laden piecrust, and have been dismally unsuccessful. the first try, bob's red mill brand, tasted disturbingly like beans. the second (pamela's products) was better but took 3 sticks of butter, and tonight, gluten free pantry's pie crust mix. the best one of all, but still a mealy, unsatisfying substitute. anyone out there with suggestions, i am all ears.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Numero Uno

so, apparently blogging is all the rage, and in an attempt to be part of the in-crowd, i have decided to give it a try. really, though, i am more interested in the idea of having a place to record my thoughts (and maybe a motivation to have more of them), and to have an outlet for my more introspective side (read: occasionally moody, usually self conscious.) i also wanted to have a way to record the days and to try to remember what is happening before it blows right by me.

after each of my childrens' births, i have had a sort of identity crisis, where i convinced myself that i needed to *do* some grand thing (each thing less lofty than the first.) i think that somehow i must have thought that these ideas would be an answer for the momentary panic i feel when faced with the reality of a new human being whose entire existence is immediately dependent entirely on me. with nicholas, the idea was that i was going to go to grad school and get a master's degree. with daniel, i was seized with a sudden and intense need to learn spanish. when jonathan was born this last june, our lives were too chaotic at the time (new baby, moving, 2 week trip to california) for me to focus on anything, much less my often-irrational thoughts, so i think that the self-improvement response has been slowed....

but, now things are settling down, and maybe learning about blogging will be my new 'improvement', the thing that i simply must do in the face of this new responsibility. i hope that i will be able to get past the feeling that in order to do this, i need to be witty or eloquent, because that will really slow me down. really what i want is a chance to give shape to my thoughts, and to record moments that rise above the mundane so that i can remember them when the view of the laundry pile makes me feel moody and small.

we'll see if the longevity of this project fares any better than that of the previous two....