February 24, 2011

The Evolution of Facial Hair and My Iphone

Do you like my title?  The two are related.  To prove it, read on.......

Sean got me an iphone for Valentine's Day.  Nothing says love like an iphone :)!  I am currently addicted to Words with Friends, though I totally suck at it.  Do you wanna feel good about your verbal abilities; then play a game with me!  I do it all in the name of elevating others' self esteem.  I'm not really trying to beat you ;).

I love the fact that I can take videos and photos of my kiddos so easily now, too.

The other day I was downloading pics and videos that had piled up on my phone.  Upon the completion of my download, I realized that I had not been the only iphone photographer in the house:

Yes, my husband is very much obsessed with his facial hair.  It is forever evolving.  And I have just learned to turn a blind eye and ignore the mustache when it pops up, which usually occurs around the time he is getting together with some guy friends he wants to impress.  I don't understand it.

And although he may look like a total weirdo, creep, I can assure you that I am the lucky one in the marriage....... not quite sure what that says about me, but there you have it!

February 12, 2011

On Love and Motherhood

Everyone who is familiar with the bible at all knows it.  1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 is one of the most popular passages:

     If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 
I just recently sat down with this passage for the first time in a long time.  It hadn't changed.  I still remembered it well, but what had changed was me.  I was now studying it through the eyes of a mother.  That's how long it had been since I had opened my bible and actually read this popular passage.
What struck me the most when I read it this time around was the sequence of the definitions of love.  First and foremost, love is PATIENT.  
There is meaning behind every little detail of the bible, so surely this is significant, I thought.  And this sent my mind thinking and dwelling on my mothering and my love for my children. 
The definition of patient is: bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness.
After I read that, I immediately thought back to a photo shoot I had just tried to accomplish that day with the children.  Valentine's day is upon us, and I wanted to capture a cute, perfect image of my children for a Valentine's card for the grandparents and special people in our lives.  But of course, a perfect picture with 3 children is a hard task to accomplish:
My picture taking efforts were fierce, but I came back with nothing.  
The lighting was terrible because my day had been so full with diapers and meals and cleaning and carpool lines and naps and nursing and crankiness that I wasn't able to do the photo shoot in perfect lighting.
No one would cooperate and look at the camera.  
And smiling?  Forget it.  Any smiles I got looked fake because no one was having a good time while Mommy barked orders for the "fun" picture I was trying to achieve.
The baby didn't last long before he started crying.  
Mary Ellen ripped her heart in half almost immediately.
Hattie wouldn't sit still.  She wanted to get down, run off and play.
I was left with a lot of frustration and a bunch of non-perfect pictures.
 This is just how motherhood is a lot of the time, isn't it, especially when one has many small children.
But love is patient first.
Ben has never slept through the night, and he is over 3 months old and almost 16 pounds.  For the past week, he's been getting up every 2-3 hours all night long.
But love is patient first.
I am potty-training Mary Ellen who never wants to stop what she's doing to relieve her bladder before it's too late.
But love is patient first.
Hattie has to be reminded over and over and over again to clean up her messes.  And most of the time, my reminders are followed with whines and frustration and sometimes even tantrums.
But love is patient first.
The girls fight constantly over anything and everything.
But love is patient first.
Motherhood is much about bearing and enduring pain.  In fact, it begins that way with pregnancy and then the child's birth.  And it doesn't stop there.
It is filled with difficulty, on almost a daily basis.
Raising children can be very provoking.  My nerves have never been so challenged.  I recently told a friend that I never even knew I could get so angry until I had children.  They can annoy me so. 
And yet, I am called to endure all of this with calmness.  Because love is patient first.
I can't stop thinking that I probably don't do a very good job of putting patience first in my love for my children.  I think God brought me to this passage and had me focus on the fact that love is patient first for a reason.
I think the message I walked away with was this: My children will not feel my love if I'm not patient with them.  In the midst of all the chaos, I must stay calm for them to be secure in my love.
And them being secure in my love is very important to me.
Because I do love them so.
So I pray, that, starting today, as we near a day that celebrates love, I can learn to always be patient first with my children. 

February 8, 2011

Me Gusta Leer

I like to read.  What I don't like to do is fold and put away laundry:
That's about 4 days worth of laundry there.  It never ends, and just when I get caught up, children need baths and to be put into jammies and dirty clothes in the hamper, and the cycle starts all over.

And I know I should say I'm thankful to have clothes to wear, and I'm thankful to have a washer and dryer and electricity and the money to buy nice smelling detergent that cleans our clothes, but I'm not.

I need to change my heart about the laundry, but until that happens, I just hate it, and I hate the fact that it never ends.

This particular mountain, though, was not overcome by my hands.  Yesterday evening I left the house to workout, and when I returned, my sweet husband had folded it all and put it all away.  Isn't he romantic??!  I think so!

And the most romantic thing about it is he didn't even mention it when I came home.  He didn't fish for a thank you.  He just did it for me because he knows I'm a bit overwhelmed with the chores at home and the 3 little children who need me so.  I love him!

But back to the love of reading........  This past year I read some really great books.  God has blessed me with some women in my life who love to read as much as I do and then pass their books onto me.  And of all of the books I borrowed and read in 2010 (totaling probably 8), three in particular stand out as really great books that you must read for yourself.

So in no particular order, here are my 3 favorite books of 2010 with a summary (from Publishers Weekly via Amazon b/c I don't have the time to write my own):

1.)  Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it. (Feb.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
2.) Seventeen years after being forced into a polygamous marriage, Jessop escaped from the cultlike Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints with her eight children. She recounts the horrid events that led her to break free from the oppressive world she knew and how she has managed to survive since escaping, despite threats and legal battles with her husband and the Church. Though sometimes her retelling overflows with colorful foreshadowing and commentary on how exceptional she is, the everyday details she reveals about this polygamous society are devastating and tragic. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
3.) Starred Review. Freelance writer Walls doesn't pull her punches. She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's "overdressed for the evening" and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." Walls's parents—just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book—were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn't conventionalize either of them. Her father was a self-taught man, a would-be inventor who could stay longer at a poker table than at most jobs and had "a little bit of a drinking situation," as her mother put it. With a fantastic storytelling knack, Walls describes her artist mom's great gift for rationalizing. Apartment walls so thin they heard all their neighbors? What a bonus—they'd "pick up a little Spanish without even studying." Why feed their pets? They'd be helping them "by not allowing them to become dependent." While Walls's father's version of Christmas presents—walking each child into the Arizona desert at night and letting each one claim a star—was delightful, he wasn't so dear when he stole the kids' hard-earned savings to go on a bender. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn't show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn't long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. "Why not?" Mom said. "Being homeless is an adventure." Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Now that I've shared my favorites for 2010, share yours.  I always morn the end of a really good book because I don't want to be done reading it.  And for the past month or two I pick up books and can't get into them.  I need recommendations please!  I need my next fix from a book I just don't want to put down at night.  I'm a book junkie.

February 3, 2011

Ben's Room

I never did get around to posting the final product of Ben's room.  That last month of pregnancy wiped me out, and then once he actually arrived, forget it.  So I thought I'd share them now.

First, we had to make room for Ben's room in our 1700 square foot house.  We moved the two girls together into Hattie's room, and what once was Mary Ellen's nursery became a blank slate.  I was nervous about moving the girls together.  I had to work up the courage.  Then when I finally did, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be - as most things aren't in the milestones of parenting I'm finding.

Of course the girls keep each other up at night past bedtime, but eventually they go to sleep and generally stay that way until morning.  They have become so much closer now that they share a room, and I have to admit, I do like hearing their giggles and squeals, as long as they don't continue past 8:30 pm.  If that happens, Monster Mommy emerges!

Mary Ellen is still in her crib, but I hope to get the girls bunk beds this spring/summer and then spruce up their room a bit.  Man, bunk beds are expensive, though!  And because they are so expensive, Sean thinks we should just put them together in the full-size bed we already have.  I think, while that is economical, it's also disastrous.  I can imagine the fighting and mischief that would go on if they were in the same bed.

But Ben, being the only boy in the house, has the privilege of having his own room right now.  I enjoyed decorating a boy's room after having two girls.  With our tight budget, I didn't have a lot of money to spend on furniture and bedding and such.  I call his room the "wedding tradition" room.  There's quite a lot old, borrowed, and blue, with just a few things new.
See my little man sittin' on that poang chair?  He and I spend a lot of time on that chair together.  I would say it's his favorite place to be in the whole house, especially in the middle of the night!

I'm not really sure if the wooden Texas flag works in the room, but it was something that was sitting in our garage and filled the space for free.  Free looks good to me!  The poang chair was also free, as it left its twin in the playroom to be a nice, comfortable nursing chair.  

And one last picture, just to prove how happy being in that chair with Mama makes my sweet Ben:

February 1, 2011

Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken

This dish is probably the best chicken dish I make.  It is a favorite in our house by all, even the littles.  And I like the fact that it only takes about 20 minutes to put together.  Then I can stick it in the oven and forget about it.  Plus, it's great for company because who isn't impressed with a beautifully golden roasted bird on the table?!

Ingredients you'll need:
- a whole chicken - mine is usually about 4-4.5 lbs
- one lemon
- fresh rosemary
- garlic - both whole and minced
- sea salt or table salt (but sea salt is better!)
- fresh ground pepper
- olive oil

1.) First you want to clean up your bird.  If it came with all of the giblets and yuckiness in the cavity, stick your hand in there and fish it all out (you can do it!) and toss.  Now rinse your bird with cool water and pat dry with paper towels.  This is important for crispy skin.

2.) Stuff the cavity of your bird with: - the lemon (sliced in half)
                                                           - a clove or two of garlic
                                                            (you don't even have to peel the skin off)
                                                           - a few sprigs of rosemary

3.) On the outside of the bird: - rub with olive oil
                                              - sprinkle sea salt, ground pepper, minced garlic and rosemary over the entire bird and rub in.  I pay close attention to every nook and cranny of the bird and even lift up the skin in places where it gives and stuff some seasoning underneath there for added flavor.

4.) Now your bird is ready to cook!  I don't have a roasting pan, so I just stick it in an oval shaped corningware dish, drumsticks down.  No need to cover.  Cook your bird at 350 degrees for an hour and a half to two hours, depending on size of bird.  Your house will fill with heavenly aromas!  To make sure it's done use a cooking thermometer on the breast.  It should read 160 degrees when done.  

5.) Once done, take out of the oven and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes to ensure moist, tender meat before you cut it up.  Plus you will burn your fingers trying to cut that chicken up straight out of the oven!

6.) Now for the best part:  While your chicken is resting use the drippings to make the best gravy ever!  First drain the drippings, getting rid of big chunks of rosemary and garlic floating around.  In a small saucepan, melt a tablespoon or more of butter (more is always better!).  Add some flour as the gravy's thickening agent.  Stir butter and flour together until mixed.  Now take a whisk and slowly add drippings into the pot with butter and flour.  Allow the mixture to slightly boil, whisking occasionally; then turn down to simmer.  You're done.  Serve the gravy over rice or mashed potatoes with some bread for dipping for best results.

Wisdom From the Pope

“The inalienable dignity of every human being and the rights which flow from that dignity - in the first place the right to life and the defense of life - are at the heart of the church's message." Pope John Paul ended his address, saying: "In spite of divisions among Christians, 'all those justified by faith through baptism are incorporated into Christ...brothers and sisters in the Lord.'" Pope John Paul 2