Friday, April 21, 2017

Bad Dreams and Sugar Detox

Fiesta is here in San Antonio. It's around a 10-day celebration in the city where there are more cascarones, meats on sticks and embroidered shirts than you can count. It celebrates Texas, San Antonio, the Alamo and all that is fun. For years, I had between six and seven events to attend. I would plan and shop for outfits. I would have my hair done. I would take vacation days from work.

And, this wasn't something that began as an adult. As a child, we attended the parades and as a teen-aged, I met NIOSA. In college, I continued on my NIOSA journey making it in from Waco to enjoy the party. I've even introduced Chris to NIOSA. He wasn't a fan at the time.

NIOSA stands for Night In Old San Antonio. The downtown area of San Antonio known as La Villita is lined with food booths celebrating the Texas culture. There are also lots of bands and beer. You walk. Just walk. Around and around. You bump into friends who you haven't seen in years and those you see frequently. You stack up your beer cups and laugh off the splashes of beer that spill from those cup towers on to your feet. Sandals are a must (or cute sneakers you can wash).

Nowadays, I'm not as active in Fiesta, but I still try and make it to a couple of events. We attend the family-friendly Fiesta Arts Fair where the girls (and Chris before them) can make crafts and I can eat (and maybe have a drink). The artists sell their paintings, jewelry, sculptures and drawings. It's beautiful and early in the day (not hot, yet).

We also try to go to NIOSA, but now we are those old people who go to the kick-off event on the first night and leave before the crowds get too big. Yes, we go at 5 p.m. and leave by about 9 p.m. I still eat my shypoke eggs and enjoy the scenes. I'm looking very much forward to a lot of cold shoulder and off-the-shoulder tops on all types. And, the shorts, the skirts, the hair. It is a people-watching paradise.

We also have a Fiesta Friday party each year. It's the last Friday of Fiesta where the schools and most businesses are closed. We serve the same food -- ribs, baked beans, Texas caviar, spaghetti salad, Texas sheet cake and G's fried fish. We make the same drinks -- margaritas. It starts around 5 p.m. and goes well into the night. We rent tables and chairs. We buy festive-colored plates, tablecloths and decorations. I start cooking Thursday and am done by mid-day Friday. G starts frying fish right around game time and it goes fast.

I think this is our 16th year to have it. Last year, was the first one in about four years because we were deeply involved in Chris' AAU basketball and always had a tournament that day. I'm glad it's back. It's fun. It's with friends. It's Fiesta.

It's one long fourth part.

It requires a lot of planning. You would think with the same meal year after year, I'd have it down. I wouldn't have to write out a grocery list or build out my run-of-show timeline, but I do. I'm super pleasant morning of and the members of my household are happy to comply with picking up the rented tables and chairs so they can be out of the house.

(By the way, I just rented the tables and chairs today. One week from the party. Every year I do this. I scramble to find them. And, delivery is not available -- or for $100. G Adams isn't paying $100 for table delivery.)

I'll buy the food this weekend -- yes, I will set foot into a grocery store rather than curbside pick up because, well, it's what I do. I'll buy the decorations at a Fiesta store this weekend, too.

There won't be too many fourth parts this upcoming week because I'll be readying for the party. I guess in a way, there will be fourth parts though because I'll be doing something I want to do and like to do. Maybe a fourth part combo meal?

Speaking of meals.

I am on the last day of a five-day sugar detox. Praise. God. Praise. God. Almighty.

Here's the deal. I don't eat a lot of processed sugar. Yes, I enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail. I also like a bit of ice cream or something sweet -- I've got this great trail mix with dark chocolate chunks in the pantry screaming 'I'm healthy.'

And, I like Easter candy.

But, man, day three was kind of a malaise-y like day. Thursday was even more of a hangover kind of feeling. And, today. It hit me. A dull headache all day. A fog about me, too.

The woman leading the detox is precious. She actually lives in France and I've been following her for awhile. We have a call everyday and a required check-in post every night. Did you work out? Did you follow the meal plan? Did you drink water? Did you post something positive on social media?

If you answer yes to all four, you are entered into a drawing for a prize. I won today. I don't think it is delicious French pastry or wine. It's probably almonds.

The information she provides is on point and there is the thought this is something to maintain. Put these habits into practice. I already work out. I already drink a ton of water. I'm always positive on social media (don't look back to November -- dark time). But. . .

We have two baskets of Easter candy sitting on the counter.

And, I've a bottle of great rose. Chilling.

I've only a few hours left and it has been tough. Because I can't have it? Or because my body is really detoxing? Not sure. I'm ready to have some of those pale blue and pink covered chocolate eggs tomorrow. It's an egg, it's breakfast.

Hard-boiled egg availability has helped this week except yeah, I really don't want one a day.

Going to bed last night, I knew I was off. And, then, my sleep really was, too.

I mean, I slept -- thank you Unisom -- but I had one long, bad dream. When the alarm clock sounded this morning, I was still very much in this dream. It was terrible. No one was killed and I wasn't chased, but it was a storyline that was so true to life. It took one of my greatest fears (not rushing water) and built something around it that hurt and was sad and felt awful. This is a dream. Not real life.

That's what no sugar for four days can do to you. Make something good seem so sad and dark.

The good news is  I timed the detox well. See the other thing I do in preparation for Fiesta is try to drop pounds so I don't worry about what I eat or drink during the week. Not healthy at all, but hey, I've been doing this for a while. One of my dearest friends, Rach, and I even talked this week about our annual plan. Somehow we always wait until the week before, like I do with renting tables and chairs.

Not very fourth part-like I know, but hey, I've been on a sugar detox. My brain isn't functioning up to par.

Now, I've got outfits to plan, places to go, cascarones to crack and medals to wear.

Bring on the sugar.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Gnocchi and PVC Pipe

He is risen. Yes, He is. Praise God because this is where our hope is found, right? And, the songs are really good on Easter Sunday. We walked out to 'Nothing But the Blood of Jesus' and I chose to sing the Amy Grant version which some of my family pointed out didn't match the choir.

Some of us do have the Amy Grant library on speed dial in our memory, so those who don't . . .sorry. I'm here whenever you need me. 'Everywhere I go, I hear your voice clear and loud.' I think that refers to God's voice to Amy, but you can hear my voice quite clear and quite loud if you would like.

Getting ready for Easter Sunday is involved. There are the clothes. The hair cuts. Making sure the shoes fit because you really don't want to have to buy new ones unless you really need to. The basket goodies. The egg hunt planning. The cleaning. The setting up of the table with your grandmother's china. The cooking.

Oh, wait. I opted out of that this year. I made the big statement of 'I'm not cooking this year because I just don't want to and so let's go out to eat.'

Talk about fourth parts popping up all over. No need to shop for Easter food or plan dishes! No gently asking my family to clean the bathrooms and vacuum the floors! No hand washing dishes! No ironing tablecloths and napkins!

I did have to find a restaurant that had food 11 of us would eat. We range from my parents to my seven-year-old girls. We have likes and dislikes galore. I just wanedt to make sure there were mimosas with cava or prosecco or champagne . . .anything bubbly.

After a few Open Table searches, Googling and frantic phone calls, we found a familiar spot close to church. Easy. Walk out of church (singing Amy Grant versions of songs), hop in the car and drive a few miles to a restaurant we have enjoyed several times. And, the menu. Sweet Jesus who is risen, there was a nutella dessert, mimosas and cheese pizza. Oh, and salmon with gnocchi, some goat cheese and pasta. Fixed price, four courses and they would take us. Yes, all 11. At a normal lunch hour time.

With a skip in our step, we made it to the restaurant and began our journey that ended three hours after it started and didn't include free mimosas or gnocchi or ricotta cake. We could get a mimosa for $5 (wasn't on the pdf menu we received). We could substitute pasta for the gnocchi. Not really the same, you know. And, since the ricotta cake ran out and it was going to take a while to make a new one, how about a tiramisu parfait with biscotti croutons and a heavy splash of coffee. Or mixed berries in a spoonful of mascarpone. Ugh. If only the mimosas weren't $5, I would have ordered and downed a few more.

Yes, we still enjoyed being there -- no dishes to wash or bathrooms to clean -- but the slow service with the 20 percent gratuity included made me think it's 'Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus' who will help us pay for this bill (Amy has a version by the way. Again, I can sing it for you.). Also, having iPhones to laugh at memes and watch videos helped. We didn't search for Amy songs, but we did find my brother-in-law's how to fix a stackable washer rotation thing-a-ma-bob. (He has 10,000 views. Come on.)

We did laugh a lot, told a few stories, included Seinfeld references as always and I even learned about baseball. It was a good family gathering. It wasn't as good as hearing an angel tell you Jesus isn't here, He is risen, but it was good. Plus, I don't know that Jesus would have sat around for three hours to eventually munch on some crunchy biscotti that should have been lady fingers when he was really hoping for a lemon ricotta cake.

(The reason there was no more cake or gnocchi? The walk ins ate it all up. Huh? What? I had a reservation. They ate my food? We paid the same price? Anyone can take a reservation. But can you hold a reservation? Seinfeld every time.)

Yes, this is definitely a first world Easter brunch problem and on the actual Easter Sunday there were some bigger issues. I mean, the Marys and Salome and some other women woke up early to hit the market, scoop up some of those spices needed to preserve the body of Jesus and got there to see He was gone. They could have thrown down those spices and wondered why did they prepare? "I could have ordered something up on Amazon Prime and had it delivered in two days." Instead, they had an encounter like none other. I mean, an angel. And, Jesus. And, they got to tell the story to the disciples. They were the messengers. Nice. Powerful. Awesome.

I did come home and write up some Easter Sunday friendly reviews in Open Table, tweeted the chef and wrote an email. G left a voice mail and I think my sister will be doing the same. We had our own message to deliver and I believe it will be heard. Will it be written up in a book that is read for 1000s of years, probably not, but it's a message.

And, then the panic set in. Would I have a fourth part on this Sunday? Without china to wash and linens to pack away, I was supposed to have time. Time with my son home from college -- who went straight to a nap. Time with my girls -- who really wanted to play with their cousin and ride their bikes. All this was quickly fading from my dreams when I remembered, I could take a break. I could put down things and papers and documents and reminders and plans to be with my girls. I sat outside and watched them ride their bikes. I read a book in a chair on my front lawn with a lovely breeze on a great spring day.

Did the Marys, Salome and the other women get to sit once the news was delivered? Did they get to be with their family . . . I mean be with them? They had experienced some crazy, busy, supernatural times in the days leading up to the 'He is not here' message. Did they get a fourth part? What did they do with the spices? Did they meal prep for the week? Did they pull out a good book. Did they laugh?

I imagine they smiled even though they were pretty scared and overwhelmed. Isn't that how real joy hits you -- overwhelming excitement that can't be contained and comes out a little loud and a bit unabashed.

Kind of like the water that rushed forth when G tested the sprinkler. Uh oh. As I sat on my front lawn, planning how to re-plant and even buy some cool vintage chairs for the front beds, the gushing water out of a broken PVC pipe reminded me I had split it in half with some aggressive dead plant removal a few weeks prior. G was pretty calm about the whole thing and just turned off the water and walked off. I suggested duct tape. He just kind of looked at me and shook his head. He went to the back yard to hand water some plants.

Do you think that was a look the women received from some? We know how the disciples reacted. But what about others who heard through the grapevine. I know Jesus was pretty explicit in how Mary Magdalene was to deliver the messages, but how could she run back to those disciples dropping spices all around and people not talk? Did they go about their business after a weekend of activity that included a couple of earthquakes and some darkness in the middle of the day? Did they think, 'well, it's another day with these Marys.' Or did they wonder, what is going to happen now? What should I be doing?

Thankfully, G will fix the pipe and we will be sprinkler ready come this summer when the burning fire hot heat of the sun wants to fry all that is green. And, we'll be able to sit outside some of the evenings enjoying our family.

But, not at a restaurant down the street from church. We'll be having cocktails that aren't $5 and desserts that come with potential of yummy stickiness dripping off a cone. No need to substitute anything. No need to pay gratuity to someone.

We'll 'Stay for Awhile' and consider ourselves 'The Lucky One(s)'.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Shoe Taps and Handstand Walks

My devotions of late have been about trusting God can meet all my needs. My job of late has been about extending trust to others and building trust. My life of late has been about trusting myself to focus on that which is most important.

Theme much?

Trust. There are countless definitions of trust but the one that rings most true for me is the noun -- 'a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.'

It's easy to trust God, right? I mean, He is the definition of reliability, truth, ability and strength. Yet, I continue to try and handle things on my own. Remember, our family word for 2017 was 'fix.' Because, yeah, we know best.

So, everyday I try to trust God for all things. It's a work in progress, but it is work. Is that the cross we pick up everyday? Is that the commitment we made to Him as I am on a salvation journey. I'm saved, but I'm on a journey to learn more, be more, act more . . . like a Christian.

And, speaking of journeys. I'm on one at work. And, it's all about trust. I have the trust of many . . . my role relies on individuals trusting confidences with me and that I have their best interests at heart. Yet, I continue to work at building trust with people. One of whom is now my boss. He's never seen me in my role and doesn't quite know how I do what I do.

So, everyday I work at it. It's a work in progress, but it is work. It is a commitment I've made. It's a journey to figure out how to best work with people.

Then, there's my life. The first, third and fourth parts. Learning to trust myself as a mother of a college student and twin young girls is a challenge. I've not done this before. How can I trust myself with decisions and actions?

So, everyday I work at it. It's a work in progress, but it is work. It is a commitment I've made. It's a journey to become a mom that helps and promotes and guides this gifts I've been given.

Trusting that everyone in my family is in on this journey together is somewhere I've landed and in which I've found comfort. These fourth parts are so critical to me, but I'm not the only one aiming to get them. I've got a houseful of people who want fourth parts so we all work toward that goal. Together. When the to-do list of second and third parts gets long and looks too overwhelming, I trust that we can work on a plan to get it done. Now, not everyone can get the items done -- the girls cannot drive to the tax assessor office and get G's tags -- but we can all help.

Like the time I needed new shoe taps on a pair of shoes -- remember the 'fix' word -- I looked up and realized I needed the shoes fixed by a specific day this week. This week. For an outfit I wanted to wear to a kind of important work meeting. It meant, all hands in on getting the girls ready and out the door so that I could get to the shoe repair spot in time before I needed to be at work.

Yes, for a second, I considered walking in shoes with a tap missing on the left shoe, but then thought . . .I can't trust myself to walk in a wonky shoe. Guess what -- they will be ready just in time, but it's another time where we need to all work together to help me get to the shop before getting to work.

Trust the process, trust the family.

So when it's time for a track meet and G has to work said meet, and the plans for dinner include ordering and picking up pizza, and baths are needing to happen, and my hair needs to get washed, and I scheduled writing time, and it is a beautiful evening . . . the girls can go outside. They can go outside and play. Play while I ready for the parts tomorrow. Play while I clean up the dinner table. Not only play, but practice handstand walks. Well, Camille practiced her handstand walks and 'taught' Caroline how to do a handstand walk. Caroline even said, "I trust you, Camille."

Wow. Trust the process, trust the family.

I won't be walking on my hands anytime soon, but I am committed to using my hands to write, help others and open my Bible.

I trust I can do that.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

March Madness and Technology

There are times where technology helps -- think Google, Pinterest and maps. Just yesterday, I looked up directions to a pop-up vintage shop event, Yelped a restaurant and researched Bottle People on Google and Pinterest. Then, there are times when technology hurts. Those times when you discover there are Bottle People examples on Pinterest. Yeah, these are a thing. And, let me tell you, they are unbelievably magnificent if they are truly done by a second grader and not a professional artist.

This week's school project for the twins is Bottle People. Last week, salt dough. We have a handful of days to turn two-liter bottles into Michelle Obama. Both girls picked her. Camille is making the Michelle Obama that gardens on the White House grounds. Caroline is going with a more official Mrs. Obama -- giving a speech. I spent $53 at the craft store today. The items:
Two styrofoam balls
One package of dowels
One can of light brown spray paint (her skin)
One can of black spray paint (the podium)
One bag of green Easter grass
One package with two strands of beads (a pearl necklace and a silver bead necklace)
One package of carrot stickers
Two styrofoam blocks (the podium)
Half a yard of blue fabric (the speech dress)
One skein of dark brown yarn (her hair)
One little pink watering can

At home, we had an outfit from an American Girl doll that could be used for the gardening Mrs. Obama -- jeans and a white short-sleeved shirt. And, we had cardboard on which to adhere the podium and the garden. We also found two felt tomatoes for the garden.

Newsflash: We aren't crafty so we don't have supplies. We have to spend money on supplies for a project that will receive a check plus and be returned in a day or two. We are not able to rummage around in our studio for any items you can use for a homework assignment. Now, we did have quite a few juice and soda bottles. I finished some Cranberry Mist with some vodka. Sacrifice.

It's all for a project. It's all for a project. It's all for a project.

So, part of our Saturday was spent shopping at a craft store and then beginning the creation process of Bottle People. Yippee for us, we get to spend part of our day tomorrow finishing up these ladies.

I tweeted and posted pictures to Instagram and @ mentioned Michelle Obama. I need a retweet and a like. And, a comment. 

Technology also provides a benefit when you are going to an event that runs during your Baylor men's basketball Sweet 16 game. It's amazing to have an app that shows the game live and Twitter that provides commentary of the game. Then, when your team begins to lose -- about a minute into the game -- you begin to despise technology and it's delivery of game information. You begin to be grateful that you aren't at home watching the game because you would throw your little piece of technology at the television.

It's only a game. It's only a game. It's only a game.

We lost. Twitter told me. The ESPN app told me. Ugh. 

It's only a game. It's only a game. It's only a game.

We weren't even seeded in the top 25 at the beginning of the season. No one expected us to get this far in the tournament. We were only number 1 in the country for one day. (That was sweet. That was our Shining Moment. Maybe we'll make the montage?)

It's only a game. It's only a game. It's only a game.

I wore a Baylor t-shirt last night as we visited the cute vintage shop and when we wandered into the restaurant I found on Yelp. It was a sushi spot that specializes in pairing champagne with the meal. Sounds so delicious, right? Well, I just really needed some champagne cocktails because of the aforementioned loss  defeat  spanking. Yes, I was in a kind of nice place in a Baylor t-shirt. Not a good look on a Friday night in a cool area of town. Other people in the restaurant were in hip jackets and nifty dresses. Not me. I was in a worn-down mood in a t-shirt. Yelp didn't mention a dress code for this spot so it was OK, but I just didn't feel OK. Nothing champagne can't help, right?

But even while I downed my drinks, I noticed Twitter flicker again because oh, yes, my Lady Bears were playing in their Sweet 16 game. Redemption. I sat up a bit straighter and dusted off my mood. The t-shirt was back on point. 

The ride home was app watching and Twitter tweeting with a joyous buoyancy (maybe the bubbly helped). I love technology.

Home again and I saw my women win. They knocked Louisville right out of the arena and had a big win. Thank goodness for technology. Loads of comments, tweets and filtered Instagram pictures carried me through the late evening. That's a winning fourth part. Well, except for my men. That wasn't so winning.

It's only a game. It's only a game. It's only a game.

Along with finishing up the pair of Michelle Obamas, I get to watch my Lady Bears play in the Elite 8. Yes, I changed my profile picture on Facebook and Twitter to an Elite banner. It's so fun. 

Maybe tomorrow, I'll post the finished Bottle People. Another chance at a retweet. Another chance at over-sharing. Another chance to use technology to my favor.

College basketball and elementary school projects.

Yeah, it's March Madness. It's One Shining Moment.

I love this time of year. I love this time of year. I love this time of year.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

9-Volt Batteries and Poster Boards

Spring Break always comes at the perfect time. Slogged through those opening days of school in January, had a few cold days in February and then, right when you need a break, it comes. That lovely week off in March where you can plan a ski trip or a beach trip . . . or stay at home and sleep late.

OK, not the Adams. G headed off to fish and Chris ventured off to Padre. The girls and I were home except for three early morning drives to gymnastics. Yes, for some reason, we had gymnastics for three hours each of those three days starting at 7 a.m. Camille and I were up and at 'em earlier than we are for school. She did it with no complaining and quite easily. She loves it. Really, she loves it. She's using words such as 'kip,' 'cast,' 'flat-out,' 'table' and other ones I don't think I would spell or punctuate correctly. We capped off our week with a team meeting where I learned other words -- compulsory -- and our payment plan (which is also compulsory. The girls have been studying homographs. Fun words such as bill and bill (again, a payment) and check and check (I could do this all day -- relating homographs to money. This gymnastics is real money. No homograph. I mean the only definition of money.).

All in all, a good week. G limited out on trout. Chris returned safely. And, we took a quick day trip up to Marble Falls to pick strawberries at Sweet Berry Farms and eat pie at Bluebonnet Cafe. I also convinced G to stop along the way a couple of times for me to look at vintage, metal outdoor chairs. $75 a piece and then $45 a piece didn't sound as sweet to G as the berries we picked.

Friday night, we laid our heads down to sleep relishing in a nice week and readying ourselves for sweet dreams. Then, because it was a time change recently and we are supposed to have some nifty downloadable pdf chart indicating when you change your AC filters, clean the coils in your refrigerator and change out the batteries in your smoke alarm . . .we were reminded we didn't do a single one, including the loudest one.

2:18 a.m. Shrieking sound from, yeah, you guessed it, the smoke alarm in the girls' room. I shot up and roused G (he can sleep through anything) and started standing under the smoke alarms throughout the house, looking up as if it would say 'hi, it's me. I need a new battery.' Suddenly, this right around 3000 square foot home felt like a mansion with complex hallway circuits and inter-dimensional worlds like The OA (yeah, watched that crazy show this week . . .what the!?). Because smoke alarms like to trick you and give you just a taste of what is ahead -- again something straight from The OA -- it stops, you believe it to be a fluke, go back to bed and. . .

2:24 a.m. The shrill sound of needing to replace a battery screamed to us again (why didn't I download an informative spring checklist from one of the many blogs I read. Wait, I did download and file away somewhere and just didn't do the checklist. One of many of my issues. Big plans, little action).

G got up this time, found a ladder and then gently removed the battery. Y'all, come on. He tore that thing down and ripped out the guilty culprit. A 9-volt battery. Upon further inspection, we noticed the hallway smoke alarm had the battery-holding contraption flopping around because we must have ripped that out at the falling-back time change. Another missing 9-volt battery.

Guess what we don't have any of? And, guess what likes to remind you it is missing a battery? How does it work without a battery? What kind of sensor does it have that it operates with a sweeter chirping sound, but a sound nonetheless? And, why was it just the one from the girls' room sending out that signal? How is that possible? Oh, wait, The OA might be sending me a message . . . a sixth movement? I should have learned that dance. I could have escaped to a place where sleep happened at 2:30 a.m.

Who has 9-volt batteries? We don't. Thankfully, Walgreens does in a three-pack. I think we have three. My early morn wandering helped me discover three. Are there more? Aren't there five movements? (OA reference, again.)

Let me tell you, a smoke alarm going off in the middle of the night, quick trips to Target, HEB and Walgreens weren't going to stop us from having the greatest fourth part of the day. You see a BBQ was in our plans for Saturday evening. We had invited over some friends as a rouse to wait for the friend of all friends. Saxon. Yep, she and her family (my friend, Anna!!) were coming to town for their Spring Break. Texts throughout the day were showing signs of a late arrival, but they were coming. Saxon was coming. Saxon was coming. Saxon was going to be at our house. Saxon was going to spend the night at our house. Saxon was going to eat lunch with us at school. Saxon was going to go swimming with us.

I think I answered the questions, 'what time is it' and 'how many minutes until Saxon is here,' too many times to count. So I had to distract.

The girls and I cleaned out their closet and drawers. We cleaned the room. We made beds. We organized the art center. Distract, distract. (Come on, could there be a more fun last Saturday of Spring Break activity. For me, yes. For the girls, eh, not so much.)

The girls helped me make a few things with the vast amount of strawberries we picked -- syrup, popsicles, dump cake. (We still have a lot of strawberries. What else?)

Distractions were wearing thin, but the question of Saxon's arrival continued.

The poster boards.

Yes, the poster boards.

Time to make signs to welcome Saxon.

That stop to Walgreens earlier for batteries, included scooping up a couple of poster boards. Bonus, since we cleaned the art center, we had plenty of room to spread out markers and Sharpies and crayons and stickers (because we organized and could find them) to make colorful, welcoming posters for Saxon and her family.

By 'we' I mean the girls because I was acting like Caroline 'Ma' Ingalls whipping up some strawberry goods from my harvest to store for the winter .  .  .

To make it through the next season.

To make it through the next time change.

To make it through another battery changing.

To make it through an it will come way too soon good-bye to our friend.

Spring Break. It always comes at the right time. It's just never long enough. It just doesn't have as many days as we need to have as many sleepovers as we want with a best friend.

Do they make a high-volt battery to help the sad chirp our hearts make when we see a best friend drive off to go back home (in another state)?

Do I need to run to Walgreens?

Do I need to buy tissue?

Do I need to distract until the summer when we have a much longer break that will be much needed and will have many sleepovers with a best friend?

OK, Ma, what do I make to store up for that?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Baking Dishes and Essential Oils

Driving home from work today -- which went by really quickly because Thank You Spring Break (which made me happy but also sad that I was driving home from work when so many others were enjoying the day) -- I thought of the things I needed to get done tonight. Finish up the laundry, unload the dishwasher, plan my travel outfit for tomorrow and pack my travel bag for Tuesday's journey (which, yes, I am still looking for the perfect travel bag. Visit to see my inquiry and the resulting recommendations.).

What a fourth part kind of night.

Bonus . . .I'm home by myself. G went fishing (happy spring bring to him) and the girls are spending the night at my parents' house. Chris will be here anxiously anticipating my 'make wise choices' lecture and presentation as we he packs to leave for his spring break fun tomorrow. (Not my fun, his fun.)

Home by myself. Outfit, done. Travel bag, packed. Laundry, ongoing. Dishwasher, emptied.

But. Wait. Those dishes that were in the dishwasher, they were really baking sheets. Why so many being washed? Oh, yeah, my unplanned science experiment from last night caused a need to wash all the baking sheets. Because at around 7 p.m. in the aforementioned evening, those baking sheets, neatly tucked in that drawer at the bottom of the stove, found themselves covered in lots of olive oil and chicken fat. And, added bonus, slivers and shards of glass.

Suddenly, I have another task to get done tonight that I wanted to forget. As I walked in the house after my quick drive home from work, the lingering smell of the self-cleaning oven setting reminded me . . . I had an oven to clean. Not just wipe out with a damp washcloth, as per the instructions. I had to wipe out with a wash cloth and hope I didn't catch a glass splinter.

You see, as I planned for this evening (and last), I knew a roast chicken would hit the spot. Last night, it would have been carved every so carefully and spooned over rice served alongside a salad. Tonight, it would have been a quick meal for me as I settled in to watch some television and fourth part it up.

Instead of a delicious, Ina-Garten-would-have-been-proud roasted chicken, I had a shattered, glass 9x13 baking dish on the floor, on the counter, in the oven . . .everywhere. Plus, chicken fat to slick it up and make the experiment  clean up even more fun.

No, I didn't have a defective baking dish, I had a lapse in judgment moment. I took home ec in high school. I've cooked many, many meals. I've roasted 100s of chickens. I've used baking dishes. I've added chicken stock to pans in the oven.

Did you know adding chicken stock straight from the refrigerator (read: cold liquid) should not be poured into a glass baking dish that has been in the oven at 425 degrees for 40 minutes? Guess what happens if you do that?

An explosion of glass. A partially roasted chicken sitting on a few pieces of onion, directly on the oven racks. It was as if the glass shattered, exploded and disintegrated all at once.

No one was injured except the baking dish. And, my pride. Fortunately, my sister took on finishing up the roasting of the chicken (after I washed it down) so dinner was saved.

After all went to bed last night, I took care of the mess. Sweeping, swiffer-ing, Clorox-wiping and repeating the cycle a few times cleaned the kitchen. I threw the kitchen rug and several dish towels in the washing machine (remember, the laundry I wrote about above). I turned on the self-cleaning feature (that smell and smoke is nothing to enjoy) and went to bed.

Even with the self-cleaning smell and the smoke, I was able to go right to sleep. Initially, I thought the sleep was coming easily because I was being poisoned by the chemicals in my oven. Nope. I slept well because I used my nifty travel-sized roller ball Serenity essential oil blend. I have no idea what oils are in that Serenity but they truly delivered at a time when I needed serenity. I rolled that sweet elixir on my feet (we have lots of points where the oil can be absorbed -- or something like that) and then dabbed on some Bergamot oil. (That helps with anxiety -- poisonous chemicals and glass remnants awaiting bare feet on the kitchen floor.) The oil I also wore to sleep was olive oil from cleaning up the kitchen. Guessing that helps with hunger pangs?

Alongside my two constantly moving in their sleep, sweet twin girls, I slept. Serenity and Bergamot aromotherapied me right to sleep, eliminating thoughts and concerns about potential glass in the dishwasher and washing machine, the need to wake up earlier than we do for school because Camille has gymnastics at 7 a.m. ($&%!!$%) and being poisoned by those self-cleaning chemicals.

Yes, I woke up. Yes, I'm eating leftover, glass-free roasted chicken for dinner tonight. Yes, I'm enjoying a fourth part of watching The Bachelor finale.

Laundry will be finished before bedtime . . . Bedtime that won't include self-cleaning chemical fumes or a film of olive oil on my skin, but rather a bit of Serenity and Bergamot.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Kielbasa Sausage and Genesis 22

Some days I just don't think I'm a connected mom. I feel like I push through the second part to get home for the third part, but then just rush to get to my fourth part.

Yep, I'm selfish.

And, I hate that.

I want to be the mom that walks in the door and lovingly greets my children, hugs them and listens to the school day stories. I want to pop on an apron and cook a meal that is memorable and delicious. I want to not have to think about things other than my family.

Guess what? I sometimes rush in the door because traffic or some other reason explains why I'm feeling as if I'm late. Four of the five weekdays, I only see Caroline because Camille is already at gymnastics. Yes, I greet her, but sometimes I start asking her to pick up, straighten up and work with me on getting ready for the next day. I sometimes cook a meal that is more like assembling pieces or re-positioning leftovers. I sometimes think of all that needs to take place within the next few hours to make the next few days hum.

Oh, I really try. I park the car in the driveway and take a breath and ready myself to walk in and be an in-the-moment mom.

(It's like when I say to myself 'this is the day that the Lord has made' when the alarm clock goes off in the morning. It's positive thinking.)

Today was one of those evenings. I self-talked (is that a thing) and reminded myself I can be a mom in the moment and really focus on family.

I feel OK about my effort. There wasn't much to pick up (which that kind of stuff makes me crazy) and it was a peaceful entry.

I knew leftover mac and cheese was on the menu and I had a link of kielbasa sausage awaiting the slicing. On a whim, I referred to a favorite cookbook, The Family Dinner, and searched for sausage in the index. There it was. A reference to sausage that didn't lead me to a recipe, but sent me to one of the most pleasantly written, well-received and very needed paragraphs I've ever read.

A woman named Kaisa wrote "A kielbasa sausage is always in our fridge. I slice it into coins and sauté them. I'll roast some broccoli in the oven with olive oil, sale and pepper. The kids call it 'crispy broccoli and sausage night'!

Well, we had no broccoli but we did have salad fixings so the Adams had salad and sausage night. Those few sentences calmed me and reassured me that even a slice of sausage can be present and special. It was so special because Caroline helped me assemble the salad and asked when she could learn how to cut sausage. Simple, but special. Thanks, Kaisa. Your words helped me.

After dinner, after watching The Bachelor (fourth part folks), after showers and after tomorrow prep, I looked at some other words that a friend and colleague recommended I study.

Remember when I wrote that I think about other days (think, ha. How about worry!). Well, specifically, I'm thinking about Chris' upcoming Spring Break. I'm praying so specifically and focusing on what I want. Hmmm, that's not really what my prayers should be, right?

It took this friend to share with me that my prayer should start with 'God, I know he is your son.' Then, she said a whole bunch of other stuff, but I was stuck on those seven words. I nodded to her other comments and may have even shared insights. But, I was stuck on those words.

You see, my children are my children. I've not been able to fully give them to God. They are mine. They are mine. They are mine. Writing that makes it so obvious that no, they aren't mine. They are God's. But, dang, those are my kids. The ones I want to focus on and the ones I want to be in the moment with and the ones I want to make a salad with and the ones I want to pray about.  Mine.

Then she said something about Genesis 22 and that I needed to read and study those words. Y'all know what that is about, right? Abraham willingly offering Isaac for sacrifice. I mean, it is written that he 'bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.' He also 'reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.'

I can't. I just can't.

Abraham had told Isaac that God would provide the lamb for the burnt offering. Abraham obeyed God. He trekked up that mountain with his son, gathering wood and all along knew what was expected him.

I carried my son for nine months, delivered him and then raised him. And, now he's off at school making decisions about Spring Break that I just don't like. So I pray he changes his mind. I pray God puts friends and people in his life that are good for him. I've walked to that mountaintop with my son, but just couldn't bind him up and put him on an altar.

I can't I just can't.

But when you really read and pay attention to the words (even through tears), you notice verse 4 has a reference to 'we.' Once the wood was gathered and Abraham saw the spot for sacrifice up in the distance, he said to the servants 'Stay here with the donkey, while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.'

We will come back. Was Abraham hopeful? What lead him to say 'we'? Was Abraham just so super positive that God would use Isaac in some other way (like I don't know be in the lineage of David) that he knew he wouldn't sacrifice him that day? Why the 'we'?

It might have had to do with Abraham not sharing the full story with the servants. But, I'm going with, Abraham was super faithful and knew God would know and do best and what is right. God's plans. Not Abraham's. God's plans. Not mine.

This reading and studying is just the tip of leaning into this need to fully give my children to God. I mentioned I'm selfish. I want to hold on to them. I want to not bind them and completely give them and trust them to God.

That paragraph didn't calm me as Kaisa and the sausage. It didn't offer up an instant solution.

It did what it needed to do. It pulled me into the Bible. It put a focus on my family in a way that I could not have predicted. It created a crazy night.

God didn't ask Abraham to complete the sacrifice. He provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice. Abraham named the place The Lord will Provide.

It doesn't end there.

The Lord tells Abraham, 'I swear by myself that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.'

Talk about family. Talk about focus. Talk about a paragraph.

My prayer for Chris really does need to change. I need to pray God's will be done and I have the strength to handle whatever comes my way. I need to pray for my spirit and my attitude. I need to pray that more paragraphs of inspiration come into my evenings.

On a crazy sausage evening at that.