Wednesday, November 30, 2011

October /November Noveltyspeak

G: "My face is clean."
me: "No, it's not; it has butter on it and so do your hands."
G: "I don't see any butterness." -Oct. 1

G: "My ankle is hurt, so I need some peppermint tea." or on other occasions, "My feelings are hurt, so I need some peppermint tea." -October

G: "My arms are dizzy." -Oct. 13

G: "Mommy is Mack-ing the Cheese!" -Oct. 14

When I sprayed Golden's bottom to help her wipe, she said,
"He, he. That tickles... every day." -Oct. 27

me: talking about grandmothers and grandfathers
Sp: "Is it grand when you have a smile on your face?" -Oct. 27

me: "God took six days to work and one day to rest. So it reminds us to rest. It's important to follow God's example."
Sp: "The 'remind me' day and the 'oh yeah' day." -Nov. 3

G: "Why do people don't like to touch fire?"
me: "Because it hurts really really badly and it can destroy your body."
G: "Yeah... that makes me sad and it hurts my feelings." -Nov. 2

G (standing on chair): "Mom, when I'm your age, can I be this tall?"
me: "Sure, Golden. Actually it's God who decides how tall you're gonna be."
G: "Yeah, and He decides what movie we're gonna watch." -Nov. 3

Sp: "This is my ship, the Maple Flower."  -Nov. 7

Sp: "We're still battling over our sins and stuff. Cause life is hard. That's what we're finding out about life." -Nov. 8

Danielle: "I really want my teeth brushed."
me: "You're gonna have to ask your mommy."
Sp: "You're gonna have to ask God about that." -Nov.12

me: "I don't even know if Danielle is awake yet."
Sp: "Yeah-huh! She goes to bed at 49. That's what Auntie Omi told me." -Nov. 12

G: "I'm getting married to this."
Sp (distressed): "But that's not a prince!"
G: "I know, but I'm getting married to it." -Nov. 15

G: "Hey Daddy! When you were in the office and Mommy was sleeping and Sparrow and I were on the green couch, I heard 'ckch--ckch--ckch.'"
Daddy: "O yeah? And what was it?"
G: "Probably it was God, or the floor cracking." -Nov. 21

G: "In the sea, there are pirate ships, and they have pirates in them, and they want to eat us for dinner." -Nov. 20

G: "D-A-R-F spells with Golden." -Nov. 20

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Number 4

I suppose I should share the fact that we are expecting baby #4!!! (Making this the 5th pregnancy; I will never forget...) Not really a surprise for anyone reading this, I am sure, but for the record, there you have it. I think that the positive pregnancy test is STILL floating around in my hugerific bag somewhere; I found it the other day as I was digging through for something else and thought, "This is bizarre! If someone was looking through my bag and found this, what would that say about me??" ...So from August to November, that little tidbit has been keeping my beautiful little secret in the darkness of the recesses of my purse--which is actually more like a duffel bag slash suitcase--how very very un-A-personality of me. Although to defend myself, I have to say that I DO actually have a place where I keep (or am supposed to keep) positive pregnancy tests. How many people can say that? Perhaps my collection will get quite large someday! Ya never do know.

At any rate, we are so blessed to be getting another little lightbulb in our midst and are really excited/thankful/blessed to be chosen for this. The girls are excited too. Silas would be excited if he knew what was going on... As his legal guardian, I will just speak that for him. I love how in the Bible whenever the Lord is describing promised blessings to His people, the first thing usually mentioned is the blessing of the womb. God says His people will increase. Really! That is the first blessing on God's mind! And was also the first commandment to mankind: Be fruitful and multiply. In this age, isn't it funny that we have lost the ancient paths so profoundly that it actually is considered a special calling for someone to give their fertility to God in what He would decide to do with it, when we should all have a different mindset, should be automatically jumping to fulfill that vision that is close to God's heart, the vision for the increase of His people, and to fulfill His original mandate! I love being showered with God's first blessings. Everything else is secondary, and I believe everything else will come in good time as well. Especially the increase of our herds, uh huh! "There will be sheeps milk enough for our maidens!" I believe that is stated in the venerable book of Proverbs somewhere. Though of course I am paraphrasing.

Anyway, let me go off on this a little bit: I LOVE how in the kingdom of God, everything is reversed. In order to live and thrive and be of use to the kingdom of God, you have to have  a "different spirit," as was said of Caleb in the Bible. In other words, a different mindset. I have been learning so much through listening to Jacob Reeve's talks online (to be found on www.jacobreeveministries.com and www.sbhop.com--thank you, Jacob!) about calling, kingdom, the dispensation we are living in, etc. and am so excited to have this confirmed--that a lot of the times the "open door" is not necessarily the will of God. It is just the easy thing to do. Faith, on the other hand--without which it is impossible to please God--oftentimes calls us to gnarly, counter-cultural, and counter-logical actions, places, and commitments. I love knowing that, it is exciting. Because right now we are in a place where there is absolutely NO open door, so there is no easy way for us to go. We are forced into faith, we can absolutely not flake out here! Thank you, Lord! But that is another post altogether. Were we talking about pregnancy and babies, or what?

I have found a really cool birth center in Tucson that takes the AHCCCS insurance, and I am really excited to be working with midwives! Even though it is about an hour's drive from our neighborhood... I am sure it will be ok. Supernatural childbirth, baby!

I am 18 weeks along and feeling amazing. I got extremely ill at about 12 weeks and was down for the count for eight days! it was the most gnarly virus I have ever dealt with. I was so frustrated every day, when I wouldn't get better! At any rate, when I did finally come out of it, I felt amazing. And still do. Getting nice and pudgy for the holiday season as well. And since we don't do ultrasounds anymore, we won't know what we are getting 'til the little sunshine comes out to greet us! Either way, the baby will have enough clothes, well, if it's a boy they will be a little sparse. But boys don't need a lot anyways. there will be plenty. Born toward the beginning of April! I seem to be making a pattern of April and August babies here. What if I produce 12 children, and they are all born in the months beginning with A?!?!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Preggy Food!

When I am blessed to be with child, one of the main evidences is always that over half my Facebook posts are about food:
If you don't have a spaetzle press, you need to get one. (Sept. 18)
recovery: subsisting on oatmeal, chicken soup, and frozen mango puree. not bad! (Sept. 21)
in germany we used to eat quark with jam on bread for breakfast. i have found my u.s. equivalent: plain greek yogurt! (Sept. 25)
6:30 pm-- sipping turkish coffee and making waffles for dinner. i love my life! (Sept. 27)
German braided sweet bread loaves, marinated grilled zucchini & fish, green tossed salad, fresh-picked apples in apple pie. Shabbat shalom! (Sept. 30)
best part of the cookie-making process? when it's just butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla all whipped up into a frenzy. mmmmm. i always steal too much and jack up my recipe's balance. (Oct. 11)
Dang. Rice and beans can be so! Good! And no, I did not add any lard (Oct. 14)
Stuffed french toast for breakfast. Apparently I am not on a diet. (Oct. 15)
I ♥ my pressure cooker! How did I ever manage to cook beans without it?!?! (Oct. 15)
made my own pumpkin latte. and i am FIVE DOLLARS RICHER! (Oct. 16)
Water with lime, bowl of kale chips. Low cal and healthy. And YUM! (and not the kind of "healthy" that most people claim for snacks, like muffins full of sugar, but they are whole wheat. Har har har.) (Oct. 22)

One of the things I tend to really love in early pregnancy is pickles. Pickles pickles pickles. I was shopping at Trader Joe's one evening and well, TRYING to limit myself on the amount of foodstuffs I was buying, but when I got to the register, finding myself way over budget, I had to select some things to take out of my cart. Remove the extra bread, extra carton of eggs, second smoked turkey breast, this olive oil, etc. etc. The cashier said kindly, "You have two jars of pickles, did you mean to get two?" --"YES!" I interjected immediately. "Yes, I need the pickles!" Little did she know...

And really, I don't have weird cravings, like chocolate cake and pickles together. Unless you count pickles on bread with butter. That's not weird, is it? It's normal in Germany!

More things I love during pregnancy:
Potatoes (esp. with mayonnaise)
Potato chips (salt and vinegar anyone?)
Cheese (but that is really anytime, har)
Orange juice
Green olives with cream cheese on toast

Things I don't love in early pregnancy:
Coffee (Sad, sad, sad! Even the smell revolts me! If my husband forgets to close the door when he slips out in the AM to make his coffee, and the smell wafts into the bedroom, oh man...)
Sweet foods (well, they're not horrible, but I would rather have something with vinegar! Like sauerkraut!)
Onions
Salad (thought I make myself eat it anyway. I just add pickles!)
Doing anything except for sleeping and loafing around.... sigh.

The fun thing is I am in my 2nd trimester now. Pregnancy heaven. Energy is back, love of coffee is back. I can enjoy cooking again! LOVE. What are your pregnancy cravings?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vegetarian Dinner

  OK, I wish I had a picture of the meal I am about to describe to you. (Don't you just love food blogs? It's like their contributors all live in lofts with huge windows, where it is perpetually sunny, or they all happen to be trained professional photographers with all the equipment needed to create the right lighting on the spot... and then after taking the time to prepare the food beautifully, set up the lighting, arrange it all, take a photo shoot, etc., we are supposed to believe that they were just making it "for dinner for their family" and that all the hungry hordes were just standing around patiently waiting for all the camera equipment to be done with its job and hauled away from their kitchen table before they began their meal. Hah!) At any rate, when I was finished preparing my meal, it was dark, really dark, and actually my house is always pretty much dark; I'd have to do my food photography outdoors! And I actually AM a professionally trained photographer--ssshhh, don't tell anyone--but sadly without any professional cameras or equipment. Until this moment, I have considered them to be not very useful to my current career! What was I thinking!

     At any rate, the point is, I threw together a delicious meal that was too good not to share in writing, and IT WAS VEGETARIAN. I only know 2 vegetarians, so probably none of the 11 people who will eventually read this even care, but I thought that that factor was quite significant, as the meal was satisfying and filling and tasty, and some carnivores find that hard to achieve without the meat element. The vegetarian's secret? BUTTER. AND CHEESE. Now I don't pretend to know what vegans do. Cause vegan cheese is stinky and gross and made out of questionable components. And vegan butter is more like margarine/plastic. And also made out of questionable components. And a life without butter and cheese is like a life without Christmas and birthdays. But we'll leave the vegans to their own ways and move on.

     The meal: Rice pasta fusilli with butternut squash and garlic-butter brussels sprouts. (Notice that that is a double BS meal!) I did not have this meal all planned out. In fact, I have found that it is more expensive to plan a specific menu with nice meals and try to purchase all necessary ingredients at the store that week, than to have a good sense of basic pantry and fridge staples, a well-stocked spice cupboard, and assortment of that week's affordable fruits and vegetables. And a little creativity, of course. We can go into kitchen staples another time. At any rate, this is how the meal of last night was born.

The pasta: Cooked as normal, tossed with olive oil, set out to be eaten with brussels sprouts, squash, and the following choices: garlic-butter-n-olive-oil, smoked sea salt, cracked pepper, grated cheese (parmesan is always a winner. I didn't have any and used raw cheddar, grated finely), lemon, etc. use your imagination!

The butternut squash (BS): Cut in half and spread with a little butter, roasted cut-side down in a 375-deg. oven for about an hour. Serve in chunks in the pasta, or on the side with either butter and maple syrup, or lemon, salt, and pepper.

The brussels sprouts (BS): About 17 sprouts cleaned and outer leaves removed, stems trimmed, then an X cut into the bottom of each stem. Steamed about 15-20 mins. THEN... cut in half and browned for a few minutes cut side down in a lovely garlic butter (about 3 cloves of garlic, crushed/chopped, cooked on low in about 3 T. butter. I also added some olive oil to the mix because I love the flavor.) Served with the pasta and the remaining garlic butter drizzled over.

     I am telling you: It was so! Good! Even Sparrow devoured her brussels sprouts! Here's to all y'all vegetarians out there who know that the secret of your good cookin' is the same as the famed chefs of France: butter, butter, and more butter. Enjoy!

Ps--This served two adults and two little children. Adjust amounts accordingly.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Of Yogurt and Index Cards

I have just come from scraping a pile of yogurt off the counter with an index card. An index card! Actually, those things are quite useful for scraping kitchen emergencies. I think everyone should have a stack of index cards on their counter. See, some good things DO get discovered through being a bit disorganized! I was pouring myself a nice, demure, healthy little bowl of pre-bedtime yogurt, when suddenly the container slipped and half of it spilled out into a big blob on the counter! (Praise God I have learned to at least wipe my counters clean after every meal--a few years ago, it would have landed on a bunch of old crumbs!) Quickly, I grabbed an index card off a nearby stack (which happened to be there for memorization-verse-writing) and was able to effectively scoop about 97% of it back into the container. I apologize right now to the good bacteria which may get killed because I introduced "bad" bacteria into the container. But we cannot be wasting the precious yogurt.

The point is, it's been one heck of a yogurt-spilling kind of day. I had a gnarly headache after a heavy (albeit delicious) breakfast of stuffed french toast. I have been having this weird sinusy headache thing off and on for weeks now, and it makes it excruciating to bend over; all the pressure that goes to the head is too much, and today it wouldn't go away for hours and hours. After lunch Thomas had mercy on us and took the children to the playground. I started feeling much better. (So wrong!) Later I lost my temper terribly with Golden when she couldn't make up her mind about wanting to go walking with their friends or not, and i just can't believe I still do that! I am obviously inadequate to impart wisdom and the Lord's Word to these children! I long to be a lily, to speak gently all of the time, to overflow with gratitude instead of the festering yuckiness that seems to be just beneath the surface. I want to be lovely to my children, and attractive to be around, not scratchy and prickly, as I tend to get so often, esp. when not feeling great. No wonder Sparrow wants to get out and be with her friends! I have got a lot of work and self-restraint to do (to me!) when it comes to that girl.

In the meantime, we are grateful to be here, thankful to be alive and to have good food on our table, blessed to be pregnant, and blessed to have one another. Let--me--live--it--Lord. Even, *especiallly,* on glob-o-yogurt days.

Silas cuteness

Silas can build a 4-block tower at age 12 mos!!!

He covers his mouth when he coughs or sneezes. i've NEVER seen a baby do that before.

He loves getting physical with his sisters, but hates when they pick him up. Seriously, the other day I was in a desperate situation with all 3 children at Trader Joe's, and we had to use the bathroom. I didn't have Silas' car seat with me, and you can't take the carts into the bathroom. What was I to do? Being as he can't walk yet, I couldn't just put him down! I had to ask Sparrow to hold him. He screamed and bucked the whole time; poor Sparrow was afraid she would drop him! So there ya go, Silas! Learn to walk!

If we read a book, he loves to get right in the middle and roll on our hair or burrow on our book.

Those girls love him! Well, Golden loves to boss him around a lot, shouting "No, Silas!" and generally asserting her superior status as older sister. But when she accidentally hurts him, she does show such compassion and immediately hugs him and says things like, "It's ok, Silas. I'm sorry. It's ok, Mama's here." Lol. Sparrow has found such delight in his little antics, and we laugh about them together. He crawls down the hall first thing in the morning and shouts "WAwO!?" for Sparrow. He often plays with her hair or her face and makes her crack up. If he hits one of them or pulls her hair, we try to teach him "gentle," and show him. He is a really good imitator, so he does it right away.

He has learned to say "up!" (a very useful word for a baby, I might say). So now his words are up to 5! Dada, Hello, Sparrow, Up, and Mama. Or rather, he usually says "mum mum." And it melts my heart! We were trying to teach him for ages, and when he finally could say that sound, we made such a big deal out of it, that now he thinks it is really funny. The way he says it is hilarious, too, with a little mischevious look on his face and his bottom lip held to overlap his top one.

His favorite person ever is Daddy. The other night at prayer meeting he was awake the whole time. When he heard the door open, he said "da!" but it was Emi and Jonathan. Thomas came much later and Silas was STILL awake and sooooo excited. Yeah, he will usually get mad, if Thomas is holding him and tries to pass him off to me!

He is forever taking the pots and pans and tupperware out of my cupboard in the kitchen. It is the one door I am ok with him entering because the contents is relatively benign; however, everything gets strewn in a big mess around my feet, while I am trying to work! And don't you dare try to put the things away again; if he perceives that that is happening, he immediately crawls over to re-do the damage! When he is going about his business like this, with his specific little ideas in his brain, we call it his "important baby work." He can be very opinionated about it.

Silas has never really been sick in his life, isn't that amazing!?! I believe he walks in divine health. He did get goopy eyes and perhaps a bit of a stuffy nose a few weeks ago when all of us were sick, but he barely barely had a touch of it; I was in bed for 8 days! I have got to pray for that kind of health over Sparrow; although she has been doing much better now, than when she was Silas' age.

He is playing well outside now, and the girls have finally learned the fun of playing outdoors as well! Hurrah! They have a few pots and bowls they like to fill with water and dip all the toys they possibly can for baths and what-not. Silas just scoots around and tries to join in, and usually when I go to find him, he is stuffing gravel rocks into his mouth (eye roll). I don't try to prevent him because I think his exposure to germs is somewhat healthy, especially seeing as he has such a good immune system; or is that WHY he has a good immune system? It is hard to know, but I like him to be able to play outside without me having to be there pulling rocks out of his mouth every second. So the rocks stay in. =)

But OH he is such a precious boy, and the other day we were reminded of the preciousness of their life, and the fragility... They were playing out front as usual, but the girls had decided to go to the back of the house for something, and he had followed them. I could hear their voices in the back and yelled at sparrow to go back in front, because Silas couldn't go in the back because of the danger of the fish pond. i was exercising and didn't check. Sparrow had shouted "OK!" and I heard them playing in front again. 5 mins later Thomas came out and said, "Where are the children?" "Playing out front." He looked out front. "Where is Silas?" I shot up from my pilates and lunged out the back door, crying "You are frickin' kidding me!" Thomas arrived at the same time. Stories of all the recent Tucson drownings of little children piercing our heads. I will never forget the sight when we arrived out back: there was Silas, happily sitting on the edge of the fish pond. He turned to look at us with those puppy blue eyes. Alive. ALIVE!!! My baby. I have to be a lot more careful, and train him specifically about the pond as well. He has tried to lower himself into it backward before, but I was right there to prevent any wetness. If he tried that by himself, it would not be a happy scenario. But this time, it was! Relief and joy and giddiness came upon me as well as the heaviness of my grave responsibility. Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

September Sagacity

S is 5 yrs old. G is 3. They come up with these bits of wisdom all by themselves.

G: "Mom, could you please not say that, cause I don't want to be mad at you." (where is she getting this from?) -Sept. 1

G: "Mom, can Sparrow have some cinnamon roll too, when her attitude is over?" -Sept. 1

G: "Mom, you drawed on your eyes. Why did you do that?"
me: "It's eyeliner. I think it's pretty."
G: "I don't want you to do that, cause I might get mad. And I don't want you to do that again, cause I might get mad again." (apparently she puts a lot of stock in the effect of her getting mad. all false illusion!) -Sept. 1

G: "Mom, why do people say 'poo poo' if you put hot sauce on their tongue?" (hahahaha, oh no, my dear, it is actually the other way around... the fact that she didn't get the order of it brings into question the effectiveness of the consequence...) -Sept. 1

Sp. watching me do Pilates: "Mama, Pilates aren't very appropriate." -Sept. 3

Sp: "Father, he screwed our heads on really tight, ya know what I mean? Not the Father who lives in our house. ...Actually, God lives in our house too!" -Sept. 8

G: "Why does Silas have a mickey meow on his shirt?"
me: "I don't know."
G: "Maybe the police officer gave it to him."
me: "Which police officer?"
G: "The pink one." (ah... of course.)  -Sept. 11

G: "Mom, in school you have to change your socks, and then some people try to get in, but the door is locked."
me: "Who told you that?"
G: "My grand old sister did it." -Sept. 11

G: "Maybe, in California, you could have a pink horse, for your birthday, and it could walk like this--like a spider." -Sept. 16

(Actually, Golden in general has gotten this idea into her head that your birthday is the time to have your every earthly wish fulfilled. Whenever her sister complains about anything, desires anything, laments anything, Golden always says, "Don't worry. On your birthday you can have it." Er... I guess I've been getting her really good birthday presents? It's good she can appreciate a cotton quilt and a coloring book so darn much!)

(me fantasizing about visiting Germany, & going on an airplane.)
G: "But mom, are there lids?"
me: "On what?"
G: "Are there LIDS? On the airplanes."
me: "Yes. Airplanes have lids."
G: "Yeah, and you have to hold on to the bars soooo tight, so you don't fall off." -Sept. 20

G: "What are THOSE?!?!"
me, chuckling: "It's called a bra."
G, amused: "You look funny! They're like glasses." -Sept. 26

G, singing basically in ascending scales, with a serious face and demeanor: "You can have my life until you have happiness, and you gave my life again..." (it went on and on with the same basic theme.) -Sept. 27

G: "I'm a housekeeper."
me: "What's a housekeeper?"
G: "A housekeeper is a fireman." -Sept. 30

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Silas is one?!?!!


On August 20th, our firstborn son celebrated the completion of his first year of life outside the womb! I can't believe it has gone so fast, as cliche as that is to say... I have loved every day of his life; he is such a delightful presence in our home. He is different than the girls in that he is definitely not as verbal; by his 1st birthday he was only saying "uh-oh!" (but saying it very frequently!) and now he also says "hello." But certain other things he is doing far before they did--just this afternoon I nearly fell off my chair because I saw him building a tower with blocks--four blocks on top of each other! I know for certain that the girls didn't do that til after 18 mos. and maybe after they turned two. Another interesting thing is, that even though he is a boy, he seems to prefer daddy over mommy when given a choice! That, I think, is rare in a little boy, but I think it is good! =) At any rate, those things are far less important than the person that he is inside and how God will use him in his life--he is certainly a little light bulb to our life, and such a sweet joy to hold, nurse, sing to, laugh with, and observe. I am so blessed.

We had pancakes for breakfast, and went swimming at the Oro Valley Pool--thanks to Golden, who decided to use some of her birthday money so we could all go. Thomas had an audition, so he couldn't join us, so it was me trying to keep three little children alive in the water by myself! The kiddie pool was out of commission, so we had to use the big pool. But everyone had a good time. Silas kicked and squealed! Sparrow was in a lifejacket, and on two noodles, and paddled herself around keeping her head above water most of the time! Golden mostly sat on the steps, even though she was also wearing a life jacket. It was awesome to get into the cold water! After swimming, I took them to McDonald's--I knew I had been saving that gift card for a special occasion! And they were so excited that they got to pick milk for their drink. Hah!

Our cooler was out of commission at the time Silas turned one, so we had his party at the Kuglers, our neighbors and good friends. I thank God for them again and again! Anyhow, it was just us and them and their sister/brother in law, and their mother, whom my children refer to as "Grandma Susie," and who played a big part in my own upbringing and home school years. I am trying more and more to simplify parties for my little ones in order to keep memories and expectations simple, focus on family, and keep costs down. So it was perfect. We provided the food, they provided the venue, and voila! Party! For the cake, as is my custom, I decorated with a toy on top instead of trying to paint or shape some elaborate scheme onto it. It looks great and is no hassle. At a birthday party last month, we had eaten some delicious home made chocolate cheesecake, and I had been wanting to try my hand at it ever since! I looked all around for a springform pan until finally my good neighbor Hildegard said she had two, and I could actually have one! Woohoo! Chocolate cheesecake, here we come.

When it came out of the oven, it looked like the grand canyon and I was afraid it was going to be too dry, but i covered the cracks with ganache and put silas' work truck toy (courtesy of auntie martina) on top with a bunch of chocolatey whipped cream. He loved it! AND it was delicious! He got to open presents, too, little tyke! One of my faves was a $20 gift card to Home Depot, for new cooler pads. Hah! Yes, that was mostly for mommy, but Silas definitely would appreciate that as well. (We got that from Emi and Jonathan--they are such wonderful, caring neighbors as well.)














To Silas on His First Birthday

Silas--you are a blessing. From the moment I found out about you, you have brought joy, peace, and confidence with you. We loved you for whatever you were, but on the day you were born and they said you were a boy, there was great rejoicing! You will always have the special place of firstborn son in this family, and we look forward to seeing you become a man--a strong, gentle, extraordinary man of God. You are like an olive plant in our home and add riches to our lives. Your personality is a delight and we love seeing you grow, learn, and interact with us all. Hide God's word in your heart--may He make you a lover of His Word and His name. May God grow you, prosper you, give you faith and abundant blessings--You will and do shine brightly. I love you. <3 Mommy

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Dinner Spaetzle

     Apparently I am German. Yes! It's still there! Lately I have been really sentimental about Germany, really missing the food and culture. I think it's the reality of the realization that my children are not going to have the multi-cultural childhood experiences that I did growing up, that is making my upbringing suddenly that much more precious and dear to me. One of the quintessentially German dishes that I have been craving is spaetzle (Pronounced Shpetsleh)--and it means "little sparrows!" how cute is that! Anyhow, it's home made egg noodles, basically, but it is a soft batter-style dough that is pressed through holes into boiling water. and it is SO! GOOD! My Oma used to make it in her blessed kitchen, usually with beef and a really hearty brown beef sauce to go with it, and it is probably one of my top 4 favorite meals of all time. Food. Heaven. Now mind you, it is super dense and has basically no nutritional value, but anytime you are craving a huge amount of extra delicious white flour in your tummy (like on a Sunday, when you've been really good all week), well, this is the thing for you.
     The thing about this meal is, you have to have a special gadget to be able to achieve the noodles: a spaetzle press (aka potato ricer), which looks something like the hugest garlic press you have ever seen. Or the ones my mom and grandma had did, anyway.

     The one I have now, I got from a woman in California who owned a European deli shop. It looks more like a flat cheese grater except the holes are not knife-like and it has a slider-cup to go back and forth over the top.

     This version makes not long noodles so much as tiny rounded mini-dumplings, but the taste is the same, and after tragically losing my mother's spaetzle press in one of our many moves, I was certainly glad to have something. The point is, if you have any German in your family, rediscover it, and for the love of your heritage, get a spaetzle press. If you don't have any German, pretend like you do, because this is one meal that is WORTH having a whole extra gadget in your kitchen to make! Do it.

Basic recipe and method:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
dash nutmeg (Germans love adding nutmeg to stuff)
4 eggs
1 cup cold water
2 TBSP butter

Mix the flour, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Break up the eggs with a fork, then add them and the water to the flour mixture. Stir vigorously until you have a smooth batter/dough (I used my Kitchenaid mixer). Meanwhile, boil a bunch of water in a big pot with some salt. when it is boiling, press the dough through your spaetzle maker into the hot water. Cook 2 or 3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Toss with butter.

(Now, if you reeeeeeaaaaally can't buy a spaetzle press and you reeeeeeaaaaally want to make this, I did find a recipe online that allows you to make the dough stiffer and roll it out/cut strips off of it to make the noodles, but I can't promise that it will be the real mccoy. To do this, use 5 eggs and only 1/2 cup water, mixing that together with the salt and nutmeg first, then adding the flour in small amounts til you get the consistency you need. Roll flat and cut 2-or 3-inch strips off, dropping them into the water. Good luck with that.)

So usually, where I come from, Spaetzle is served with jaegerschnitzel, which is pork, and mushrooms, or beef and savory brown sauce. I only had chicken, so I decided to adapt German-style schnitzel methods to chicken and make up a sauce. And here is where I discovered that apparently I still AM German, because it was sooooooooo good that I could have eaten the whole thing then and there. Here is that part of the recipe/process:

Chicken tenders (or if using lg. chicken breasts, beat them thin with a meat tenderizer)
flour
paprika (Germans love adding paprika to stuff)
salt and pepper
a whole bunch of butter
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
about 1 tsp. onion powder, or to taste

     Rinse the meat and pat dry. Dredge in a mix of flour, paprika, salt, and pepper and fry in butter on both sides til just done. (My flour ratio was about 1/3 cup, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.) Add more butter if it has gone a little dry, and put in about 2 Tablespoons of your leftover flour mix, whisking it in. Add the onion powder too, and keep whisking as you add the chicken broth slowly. Result: super amazing authentically German-tasting gravy/butter sauce! YUM!

     Now: Eat heaping platefuls of spaetzle and chicken drenched in sauce, and if you're feeling good, make a quick green salad with onions and tomatoes and use a vinaigrette. Add some spaetzle, chicken, and sauce to the top and be transported to German food bliss.
     Here is my home picture. This was after my 1st portion and during the salad course and it doesn't look like much, but it is probably the best thing you can imagine eating. Ever.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Golden's birthday party

I can't believe I blogged Silas' birthday party, and skipped over Golden's! eek! It was because I had written it down in the family journal that I thought I had blogged it, and well, now I will. Here, from my entry in the FJ, Aug. 7, 2011:

Golden, 2nd child, 2nd daughter, middle child, fire cracker, whipper snapper, bright little sunshine, delight--that one turned three years old today. What a perfect day! Sundays are already enjoyable to begin with, and having a birthday on a Sunday--even better! Golden got to pick breakfast, and she picked french toast. So we had french toast with strawberries, powdered sugar, bananas, cinnamon whipped cream, and great big smiles in the morning. (And an extra [DECAF] coffee for me--yum!) Even Silas ate the same thing--I love it when he can eat what we're eating. Anyway, to honor German family tradition, Golden also got a gift at the breakfast table. It was a "My Little Pony" coloring book (yes, i did buy her a creativity-killing coloring book! She loves them, what can I say...) and two mini My Little Pony plastic toys that I had gotten at a resale ages ago and saved for a special occasion. One of them was to share with Sparrow.

After breakfast and cleanup, we did home church and then I got to making fondant (for the cake) and lunch. Golden easily took a nap after her lunch. Sparrow was my companion in cleanup, preparing for the celebration, and decorating the cake.

At 4 pm, friends began coming over. I had decided she could have three friends over--one for each year of her life so far--but then I found out that Adelyn (Danielle's cousin) was going to be here visiting, so of course we had to have her, too! Plus moms and babies. So it was quite a full house! We did a craft and painted nails. Then dinner--pizza and hot dogs. Then the cake (which was made to look like a present by using fondant, m&ms, and fruit by the foot). Then presents--so exciting! Our friends are so sweet and generous. Golden loved all her gifts. From me & Thomas she got a cotton quilt (every night she had been crying out, "Mom! Sparrow is taking all the blanket!" And the only extra one we had thus far was polyester) and a musical jewelry box with a little spinning ballerina inside. (Almost exactly like Sparrow's except the outside design.) One huge blessing is that as I was going out shopping on Thursday, I checked the mail, and my lovely aunt Martina had sent a birthday card for Golden with 50 dollars inside! So I got to go to Target and pick out a present for her--just what I'd wanted to do, but had been resisting--we can't waste $ right now. I picked out a toy cell phone I knew she would love, and now she has $ left over, too! She did and does love her cell phone. Can you tell I love giving gifts?

After presents we watched "Milo and Otis" and ate popcorn! So good! Golden loves watching movies, and so rarely gets to. (It hink I watched that one with Sparrow on her 3rd birthday as well!)

Oh. Super funny episode with the cake. We brought the cake out and sang "happy birthday," but when I placed it in front of Golden, the vent blew the candles out! We closed the vent and lit the candles again, telling her to blow, but instead she started singing "happy birthday" again! So we all joined in a second time. Then she blew out the candles. Hooray!

















To Golden on Her Turning Three

Every year that you have been in our life has been a better year. Yes! To watch you grow has been nothing but astonishing and delightful. Your laughter sounds like music. Your hair is like golden down. Over the past year, you have grown and learned so much! From how to do tendus to learning "America the Beautiful" by heart, you do it all with assurance. You even learned how to draw ladybugs and lions, and recite a story in front of an audience. You learned how to help make the bed and how to say "excuse me, mommy," and unload the dishwasher. You became a big sister and you are so good at making sure Silas doesn't go into the bathroom or put little things into his moth that he could choke on--not even pink princess castles that are actually the same size as he--"he's gonna choke!" You've learned about Jesus and how to pray. You are so good at reciting Bible verses! And you've learned to be your sister's best friend. God sure wanted to bless us when He gave us you! You give our family so much joy. We love you, Golden, without end.
Love, your Mommy

Monday, September 12, 2011

July and August: From the Mouth of Babes

G: "I had a dream about a star and a moon and a big ditch, and I was not afraid of it, cause there was a shooting star, and remember there was a lion and a ditch and there was a nice dragon sitting by the ditch." -July 4

G: (praying) "Thank you that I got to see the boom storm. And hear the boom boom storm." -July 7

G: "Why do they call it 'brotherhood'?"
me: "It means we love each other. Like a brother."
G: "Yeah, and it means that we kiss each other." -July 23

Sp: "I figured out that 'gasoline' has a silent E at the end."
me: "And how did you do that?"
Sp: "At first I thought it said 'gasolinE' but then I figured out that the E was silent." (and with no formal reading lessons yet! go little 5-year-old!) -July 23

Sp: "Daddy's the coffee, and you're the cream, and I'm the sugar."
G: (shouting from the kitchen) "I'll be the leftovers!" -July 24

Sp: "God can draw on the walls because He's God and He's not renting a house." -July 29

Sp: "Even when it's the morning sometimes, it's still dark."
me: "No, you can pull the blinds up when you wake up."
Sp: "No, even when the blinds are up, it's still dark. It's the Jesus kind of darkness, the sin all around us." -July 30

Sp: "It must have taken a really long time to pave the road."
me: "Yeah!"
G: "Yeah! And God loves us--SO much!" -Aug. 2

Sp: "God is like a cookie. Except He's not little and round. And He's not for eating." -Aug. 3

G: "I love Daddy so much, and I love you and I love Sparrow and I love Silas. And the people is SO in the family!" -Aug. 5

G: "God will punish us."
me: "No He won't. Jesus already took our punishment."
G: "Yeah. And He took away all Jesus' blood. And His blood took all of our punish." -Aug. 6

G: "Somebody pooted!"
Sp: "Not me!"
G: "Oh. I think that was the egg smell that I smelled." -Aug. 23

G: (during prayer meeting) "...And thank you for mommy's new baby and that there is another baby gonna come out of mommy, and another one, and another one, and that we got to see a LOT of buzzards. Amen." (and THAT is how she inadvertently announced our new pregnancy!) -Aug. 23

G: (showing me an electric candle) "These are quieter than pumas, but not than trucks." -Aug. 24

Sp: "I hope Silas becomes an Indian someday." -Aug. 25

me: "What happened? Why does your leg hurt?"
G: "I dunno. Maybe a javelina bit it the next day and then it was hurting SO WELL, and then there was blood." -Aug. 25

G: "Mommy, why are you crying?"
me: "I don't know, I'm having a bad day."
G: (going off to find Sparrow) "Sparrow! Mommy is sad and she needs a band-aid!" -Aug. 26

G: "Mom, I keep throwing up and days and days, why do I keep doing that? When I eat too much food it makes me sick." -Aug. 28

G: (seeing me drinking a bottled soda) "Mom, you're like a man, like drinking wine." -Aug. 28

G: (seeing me squint because of the strong carbonation in my soda) "Mom, I saw you sleeping on one eye."  -Aug. 28

Friday, July 8, 2011

June Jumblies

G: (speaking in pretend anger)
"I'm gonna put you in jail and--make you some LUNCH!" -june 1

G: "I'm gonna sit on the floor, so my body won't get lost." -june 6

Sp: (singing a made-up song)
"Jesus, G-I-S-S, Jesus!..." =june 7

(snippets from my girls who were looking at a world atlas together)

"ooh, look at the cute man!" (football player in helmet)

S: "Mom, which ones are female? ...Prob'ly the girl ones are female."

S: "It's a statue of a king. A christmas king." -june 8

(me about to put raw honey from local honeycomb on golden's toast)
G: "No, no! I don't want that kind of honey! I want real honey, that's in the cupboard!" -june 11

G: "Sparrow, you could pray!"
S: "No, I don't want to!"
G: "But you can pray by yourself cause you're strong enough."
S: "It's not that you have to be strong to pray."
G: :But I can't carry stuff in the world." -June 13

G: "I had a scary dream that there was a lion and a zebra and a giraffe. and it was so quite mean, and it went 'roooooooaaaaaar!'" -june 13

G: "Surely don't hurt your back, K?" -june 13

G: "Mom, she's fathering me!" (bothering) -june 17

me whispering loudly across the table after Thomas has gone outside:
"Today we're going to make some cards for Daddy, cause Father's Day is the day after tomorrow."
Golden leans over table and whispers loudly, "after winter, I'm gonna take a present." -June 17

S: "Mom, the W in my name is silent!" -june 22

G: :Daddy! you look like a gramma!" (He was wearing silver glasses) -june 24

G: "G'night, king! ...sleep like you're rocked by the stream!" -June 24

G: "Mama, can I have some vitamin Eve?" -june 26

G: "Sparrow, that hurts my feelings!" (sparrow was leaning on her shoulder) -june 26

G throws her stuffed animal in air and catches it:
"Oh my GOSH! that was beautiful!" -June 26

S: "mom, i know how to say there you go in spanish: 'der ju go.' " -june 28

Thursday, June 30, 2011

the thing in the pond

Monday morning we woke up to find a creature in our fish pond--a furry, piglike desert creature--the infamous javelina. the desert animals come to our pond to drink early in the morning, and well, this one was overly ambitious or else nudged in by a fellow, but somehow, the footing was lost... i was awakened  by thomas telling me what he had found as he got ready to haul it out of the water. it was still alive, but when i groggily bumbled out of bed to take a peek, it was clear that this creature had no fight left in it except just to keep its nose above the water! at first thomas tried to push it out with a rake, and the blobby little guy didn't even struggle or move! when he let it sink back down to go get his shovel, i felt such compassion for the poor thing--i understand the feeling--not going under again? thomas lifted the soggy boarlike fellow out with a huge heave, and he lay there totally exhausted and helpless. then, cause he was still on the edge of the pond, we pushed him over to the sand. he was shaking miserably. he stayed there just huddling in the sun, not able to move--a few times he tried to get up, but was shaking so badly that he could not coordinate his limbs; it was actually rather funny. an hour later, though, when thomas tried giving him some old apple, he was so uninterested that he decided to get up and wander off into the desert. that night we encountered the herd near our house again, and i am sure he was among them...

enjoy the video.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

the dark side hasn't got a thing on us

yesterday: another nasty bug self-destructs by drowning itself in our house! YEAH! i think God is definitely saying something here. if we don't even have to worry about killing our own scorpions and centipedes, what DO we have to worry about? evil can't touch us! we don't have to spend all our energies trying to keep the devil out necessarily, for God has rendered him powerless!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

may memorables

G: "Are we going back to the old hallway?" (driving home from California) -May 3

Sp: "Mom, I wish candyland was real and that we lived there." (doesn't every 5-yr-old?) -May 3

G: "Some reason places are goooood places. and nice places. They're good places, and real." -May 3

Seeing me putting ice into a glass of coffee,
G: "I want ice water!"
Sp: "Actually, it's iced wine." -May 8

G: "Mommy, God told to get in this hot car for a long, long time. And God said the whole world to get in this hot car for a long, long day." -May 10

G: "Always, Adam and Eve always eat fruit off that tree."  (the story happens the same way each time, no matter how we wish it would end differently! i feel ya, little one!) -May 11

Sp: "I know why it's called 'Starbucks.' Cause it sounds like 'fourbucks' and everything there is four bucks!"  (she's got insight, that girl!) -May 15

Sp: "I want a mommy just like Journey's. Just the same as her, just the shape as her! With the same hair." -May 19

G: "I'm five."
Sp: "No, you're not, you're only two."
G: "I'm actually two half old." -May 19

Sp: "You'll always be my mom, but you're also gonna be like my grandma, cause you're old." Reflecting a little further, she says astonished, "I don't know how my Opa and Oma stayed alive this long!" -May 19

G: "Last time, at the coffee shop, I scrumbled, and there was a baby in my hand, and I poured it out..."
me: "You scrambled?"
Sp: "No, she means stumbled."
G: " No, stambled; no, scandaled!" -May 21

Sp: "Mom, in college are there great big tall sky scrapers?" -May 21

Sp: "If you're first on land, you're gonna be last in heaven." (love how she called Earth "land!") -May 23

(Playing house with British accents)
Sp: "Oh yes, my dear, it's very simmering." -May 24


Sp: "I want to go to Superhero camp!"
me: "Well, they have something for you too! They have princess camp for girls and superhero camp for boys."
Sp: "I think monkey camp is also for boys." -May 25

G: "I want some mango!"
me: "It's not mango, it's honeydew."
G: "I want some honeydude!" -May 28

(We were all brainstorming names for characters in a story.)
G: "I know! Apple-face!" -May 29

G: "You're erupting me!" (interrupting) -all the time!

Golden likes to bring people a book and say, "Can you read this to me in German?" If they don't know German, they then tell her so, and she gets all disappointed! I don't think she would mind if it were in English, do you?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

church

today we tried a new church in catalina. catalina! the people were VERY friendly, but not weird friendly. we were greeted by many people and engaged in conversation but not gawked at or made to feel awkward. everyone beamed at our children and made positive comments about family, which is also refreshing. we got there like a half hour early! yeah! it is 10 minutes away from our house! and besides, the service time was posted as 9:15 on the website but was actually at 9:30.  the worship was lively. the ambiance was good. i missed most of the sermon because silas was shrieking at the poor nursery ladies.  ...he is birthing a tooth, or two, and besides, it was his nap time and he had been too busy doing important baby work that morning to give any attention to nursing.

i wish...i wish it had gone just that one step further. i miss that rawness about california churches; that real, up front, hard-hitting, bible-digging, revolutionary rawness. that is what the soul needs. it needs spiritual reality. so, at first glance, the church seemed main stream, some of the books on the shelves i would not necessarily endorse, but OBVIOUSLY there is room for different tastes and differences of opinion. the most promising thing i saw up there, seriously, was randy alcorn's safely home. i really, really, really want to read it. it has been recommended by several people and the reason i am interested in that author is because he wrote a challenging expose booklet on the facts of birth control, including the little-known fact that birth control, besides preventing conception, also acts as an abortifacent if that function fails. nobody wants to know these things, they would rather go on doing the thing that everyone does, the thing that is comfortable for them and their plans. so i was actually surprised to see randy alcorn on that shelf alongside ecumenical rick warren and semi-liberal erickson.

a lively church in catalina is such a needed thing. catalina has been known for its drugs, drinking, and other moral sludge that goes along with all that. it is good to see people who had the courage not only to come and start a contemporary church in the heart of it, but to move out here and live in this dirty ramshackle ghost of a town as well.

they, too, operate on the "membership" system which is a little disappointing, but as i told thomas at lunch, most churches do. reality is actually the exception in soooooo many areas, and we should probably stop trying to find a reality here and just go somewhere where we can agree with the general doctrine and manner of "doing church."  i loved how the people embraced us, the pastor and his wife spent a lot of time talking to us and listening. a girl i went to elementary school with us knew me right away by name...ah, small towns!

(but more on the "church membership" issue, as if we weren't already uncomfortable with it, tonight we read 2 samuel 24, when david takes a census and thereby shows his trust is in man's power rather than God's alone.  vv. 1-3 completely struck me. the children's Bible says, when Joab was warning David,  "you have no right to rejoice in their strength." so when the pastor today was comparing church membership to a football team where he was the coach and the coach looked out not to the fans, but to his team  for help, it made sense at the time... but when i read the story mentioned above, i got a very eerie feeling that this is what church census is for as well. trusting in man's strength, not in God's alone?)

this. place. needs. a. revival. we are still praying for spirit fire. people need to know how to appropriate the power of the holy spirit for their lives and others! that is what the soul craves! power! it makes me sad to see churches that are too focused on being seeker-friendly or churches that have their membership so fossilized that everything takes on a musty tinge of insincere routine, the choir is a show for the pew sitters. help me, lord, i am so critical, and yet i have no skills to change any of it. all i have is knees. let me use them well and my tongue less. i praise God for showing us a good community that is near our home. the power of the Spirit can work there too! I love His ways.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

full heart

yesterday we watched a movie as a family, something we rarely do because i don't like to get my children too inundated with movie images in the first place, and secondly because there is so little of quality out there that my children can also handle suspense-wise. they are innocent, and that is cool. i don't want to rush too fast to desensitize them through movies. so yes, they are finnicky (seriously? did i spell that wrong, or are you telling me that word is not in the dictionary yet?) about suspense. but one of the things that i have noticed that they can stomach well is victorian-era mini dramas! i love these kinds of movies. they move slowly. they are not nasty or gory (usually). lots for me to enjoy, and the girls are just happy to watch something. i am so grateful for that. they may prefer to watch go diego go, but when it comes down to it they like just getting to watch any movie at all. and my husband--have i told you about my husband? he can sit and enjoy them too! as much as he likes getting dirty in the yard and working on motorcycles, i love that he will watch a british mini series with me. so Cranford it was last night, and if you have never seen it, do make a point of doing so. it is very funny and touching. and it has a sequel!

my heart has been so full with all the blessings in my life. this is such a good season, i am excited  for every day. my three little ones are thriving and i get to be with them all the time. i am learning more and more about how to be a good parent. and we are standing at the brink of a summer in which we have no idea what we are going to do for income. it is the hugest opportunity we have had yet, to jump off the diving board and start something amazing!

yesterday i realized once again, that i need to write more often, just about the little things we are doing. i started this blog as a journal for my children and that is what it must remain. we have this amazing life! we live in the middle of the neighborhood where i grew up, which makes for a lot of crazy nostalgia/deja vu every time i go outside. i am more aware of the shifting of the tides of life than i ever was before. every time we pass certain houses in the neighborhood i am flooded with memories, mixed with a little longing for the people and times that used to be found there. some of the people are still there, like lighthouses, havens from the time march that is overtaking us all. my children are the ones who are young now. they are the ones making memories they will look back on just like this. having them here is such a comfort and such a serious jolt at the same time.

today we had a "memorial day" bbq (2 days early) with grahams, tuckers, and schmidt's at emi and jonathan's. lauren came too! the children ran and played outside (safe, enclosed yard... maybe i should take them to india to get some recklessness into them...) with their friends. it was nice for sparrow to have some bonding time with bekah. and elizabeth (age 12) is such a delight, to help them in their games and be a general care taker. she truly delights in the younger children; it is so refreshing to watch. i made panna cotta! and then we had to conceal it from the children so the adults could savor it. =) the children can have a bit of cheap ice cream. ice cream on a cone is about the pinnacle of happiness for them right now.

i have been feeling that our life is lacking in ministry/service to the outside world. i want to teach my children to serve. i know this begins at home, but i will keep looking out for opportunities to get them out of the comfort zone of safe american christianity. i want them to live the childhood i had in mexico in a way. but that is just not going to be. another realization i have to come to terms with. their life is just going to be a different story. but that doesn't mean it won't be adventuresome and good. aspects of it will be better. i would like to start a study on nancy campbell's "the power of motherhood" in my home for women in catalina. that would be a good place to start. a prayer meeting in our home would also be a good place. Lord, help me to be a bold, real, lady filled with the power of God! abandoned to Him. tomorrow we are trying a new church--in catalina! i am sooooo excited, the website looks good. we have been here for a year and have not found a home church. tucson is spiritually really hard ground. i pray that God has something for us soon, and nearby. i don't think we ourselves are meant to be church planters. ...at least not yet.

goodnight--i am supposed to go to bed at ten nowadays! a new resolution i made in order to be a better mother. it really does help me to be so much more focused and patient. it's been a hard road for me in that regard. but God always gives fresh ideas.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunny Rose Faces, Miles of Blue

(Originally written Monday, April 25, 2011)
Santa Barbara is the perfect place to visit. I have gotten to see it with all fresh eyes on this amazing trip--reddened, tired, craziness fresh eyes that is! Rest has been a bit elusive... but oh, I am in love with the sea! (I might remind you that my name means 'the sea.') Believe it or not, though, we didn't actually GO to the beach until 6 days after we had arrived in California! But once we did, we got sunburned straight away and have been getting redder ever since. Now there are five days left, and i am in awe of how God worked it out, and just in deep thankfulness for friends, trips, and beautiful, sea-kissed coast. A few anecdotes from the road...

The Daring Journey
When Thomas said he was taking the car to San Francisco, I got a wild, crazy idea--if you are going to take the car...you can also take US! Except we are going to stay in Santa Barbara! "OK," he says. He was so supportive of the idea! Soon after, I was introduced to "the trailer." He wanted to sell the motorcycle in San Francisco, so the plan was to tow it there on a trailer. Indeed, he bought a trailer kit from home depot (which he had been wanting for a long time anyway) and built the thing  together. You should see these things! They are just skeleton--no floor, and no walls! But instead of a floor, Thomas put down a board. Then he drove the motorcycle up onto the board. In the rain. And asked me to "steady" it if it slipped, which it almost did--what was I going to do against the weight of a 400-lb. motorcycle? It seems that God sent an angel to steady it at that point, because it did not in fact slip off of the narrow board. Those 1st few minutes of driving were some of the most nerve-wracking of my 15 million on this side of the womb! In case you didn't know, we live on a hill. A very. Steep. Hill. So we had to go up. Then we had to go down. At an angle. I was having visions of the motorcycle crashing off the trailer, into the car, and ending our trip 40 feet after it began. But by some miracle of physics it actually stayed on the trailer. I could not understand how just a few tie-downs were keeping that thing upright. But Thomas got out and adjusted it a few times, and eventually I had to sit back and trust that if he trusted the trailer with his machine, then it must be somewhat stable. That was a happy realization. The trip took only eleven and a half hours! I had predicted twelve. (Can't drive over 55, 60 with the trailer!) And, oh yes, were you...praying for us? I had been asking people to pray for COLD weather on the day we left, and not only was it overcast and raining, it was SNOWING!!  Er... and as for Arizona roads...they are AWESOME! Not til you drive the horrors of pitty, bumpy, uneven LA freeways towing a vertical motorcycle on a narrow board with a volvo do you fully appreciate the beauty of the smooth and well-maintained AZ roads. Thank you, Jan Brewer, or whoever you are, Secretary of Arizona Roadways!

Victory Over the Enemy
We stayed at my former boss Rod's detached guest suite for a week. The first day, we saw a huge, hairy, scary bug scuttle into the door and disappear before we could get it, in the crack between the carpet and the door. Some kind of centipede? After it absconded, I eventually gave up looking for it and decided, well, we'd just have to forget about it and trust that it wouldn't try to mess with us while we were sleeping. The next day, Golden spit out some medicine I was trying to give her, so I had to take her clothes off and soak them in the bathtub. The morning after that, when I went to take the clothes out, what should I find but the evil, heebie-jeebie centipede--drowned in the tub! Self-destruct! That's what I call spiritual power right there.
Yes, it was that gross.


(continued on May 10, 2011)
Who Thought This was a Good Idea?
Sparrow got sick on the day before she turned 5, and thus we had to postpone her birthday party with friends…indefinitely. Instead, on her birthday, we tried to rest in the morning and around lunch time we headed out to have a picnic at the rose gardens. That was her wish for the day; she LOVES the rose gardens, and I figured as long as she was outside, her hacking and coughing couldn’t bother too many people. The sun even came out as we were driving around! I had to go to lassens and get her some elderberry stuff and colloidal silver. Then, passing by the hospital where she had been born on this very day exactly five years previous, we had to get out and take pictures! At last we did make it to the rose gardens, and the flowers were all in bloom and happy to see the sun! it was a great time until we had to leave again. Then it seemed the whining  faucet got turned on and nobody wanted to listen. And I still had to figure out dinner! Rod and his guest room were great, but it had no kitchen, so every day we kind of had to go shopping for picnic food, or eat out.  Anyhow, we went to whole foods, where I figured we could all find something to our tastes, and get a vegan, sugar-free dessert for my girl. And while we were there, of course sparrow had to poop, so…more time in the bathroom.  My favorite! I think I spent more time in the public bathrooms of Santa Barbara on that vacation than in any other single location! Finally we got "home" and I tried to convince them that eating cold beans on a tortilla was a yummy idea. Golden had completely skipped her nap and was so not listening! There were times that week--quite a few times--when I thought I must be insane for attempting this adventure...

The following day, of course, we went out again. Glutton for punishment, I know, but am I going to just sit in a room all day with three children and no kitchen?? Of course not!! I had figured out that going out two times was the expedient thing to do. Once in the morning, to tire them out. Then back for a rest, then out again after nap time. This particular afternoon we were going to the clock tower, one of sparrow's other favorite places in Santa Barbara. It's a lot of fun until someone runs into the corner of a metal sign with their head and begins to dispense blood and high-pitched shrieks. Sparrow. Yes, Sparrow. I quickly grabbed my nursing cover for her to hold over the wound, and we gathered ourselves and left. Back down the stairs. Back up to the parking garage. Back to my car to get the band-aid kit. Then down and over a few blocks to peet's coffee and see if we can use the bathroom. I stood there with my bleeding child and my behemoth of a stroller (borrowed from a friend) for five minutes right in front of the counter, being totally ignored by the employees! finally they turned around and addressed the man who had come in behind me, and he ordered! Where is the love?! at that point i got completely flustered and just asked for the bathroom key, which it turned out, had been sitting on the drink counter the whole time. I went outside to the bathrooms in the complex, only to find that the key did not work. Over and over I tried it, then had no choice but to go back into Peet's. And what did I find there inside? A bathroom! What? That was certainly new since I had been there last! A bathroom inside now?! I felt like a dork! Nonetheless, it was a happy find, and I lunged for the door, only to be cut off by an employee saying that the bathroom was temporarily out of order. But someone had just come out of there! "But my daughter is bleeding!" I said incredulously. "Sorry," was the response. "Someone dumped a whole bunch of toilet paper and paper towels in the toilet so I have to unclog it." I could not believe this verdict! Discouraged, I ordered some coffee and we sat down outside. It was then that I remembered that everything  I needed to clean and dress the wound was right in my hand! my car "1st aid kit" which normally only contains band-aids, had been beefed up with hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls, and Neosporin just for the road trip! Hehe, SCORE! The Peet's patio will do for an infirmary, thank you.

Rainbow of Grace
On Good Friday, Thomas was driving down from San Francisco to spend Easter weekend with us. We had been picnicking at the park, and hopped in the car around 6:40 to go to church. Traffic was hoooooooorrible. It took us over 45 minutes in traffic to get there! We were grossly late. But the amazing thing is that while we were sitting around on the freeway, we experienced the most awesome, vibrant double rainbow, stretching from Montecito, right over us, to the ocean. It was a little bit rainy, a little bit sunny, and all the way magical. Even when we don't get to church on time, His grace is everywhere.

Beauty in the Breakdown
Sunday noon,we all piled into the Volvo to drive back to my brother's from our last invigorating California church service.When we started the engine, we heard a strange sound. An ugly sound. An in-our-engine sound. Thomas was extremely alarmed. Sounds in the engine just don't mean that much to me. "It's just a noise; let's get home." Yeah, I've lived with sounds in the engine before. We did start for "home," but just as we were about to turn into the freeway, the engine died. Just cut out. ooooookaaaaaayyy... Thank God there was a little side street right off the turnstile so instead of going onto the freeway as planned, we coasted onto Ogan street and into a nice, shady parking spot off the side of the road. Wow. Now what? We ended up calling my brother, who was still at church. He got Chris Atkinson to drive over with him; we transferred all our car seats into his car and drove home, and Chris gave him a ride in his car. We took a nap. We woke up and had a leisurely family afternoon at Alice Keck Park. The next day we had the car towed to Swedemasters Auto Shop and later that day they gave us the verdict: $4000. I almost spit out my lunch! I thought that it would be $400, or so, not $4000!!! Apparently the timing belt had broken, and messed up a bunch of stuff in the engine. Yeah. No one had ever told me THAT could happen! Long story short, that is more than we paid for that car, so... now we were looking at our other options for getting home. and thomas was supposed to be at work the next day. We decided to rent a car, donate the volvo to charity, and leave the trailer with friends in California for now. Thomas would have to ride his motorcycle all the way to Tucson... and he did! There are many, MANY indicators of God's grace on this whole situation; some of them are listed below. It was a bit of a shock never seeing my car again, you know? One day we got out, and I thought, "We'll get it back running again tomorrow," and the next day it was lost to me forever. Whew! But before I get too sentimental about Tozer, my faithful Volvo, let me dwell on the beauty in the breakdown:

-Ogan Street--the fact that that turnstile in Carpinteria HAS a side street going off of it, a side street that had plenty of parking, was sloping downhill, and had a shady tree for us to stop under, was miraculous. I feel like God had put that street into the heads of the Carpinteria city planners a long time ago, JUST for us on that fateful day.

-the Timing of the broken Timing belt--the fact that it was right after church when we hadn't even packed yet, and not not as we were leaving to go back to Tucson--or worse yet, in the middle of the desert--was such providence.

-the taco fundraiser--my brother and I had both bought tacos after church. this proved to be God's will in two ways: 1) I had eaten some and was not mad with hunger when we had the breakdown and had to sit and wait for awhile for it all to work out, and to get home for some lunch 2) my bro eats slowly, so he was actually still at church eating when we called him, and able to get a friend to help him right then and there.

-my headache--ok, that wasn't the blessing part, but the fact is that i was getting a really gnarly headache around the time that all this occurred, and was beginning to DREAD having to make that 12-hour drive on a hot day in such a state. Instead, I got to have a nap and a restful afternoon in a park in Santa Barbara.

-Air Conditioning--Since we had had such amazing cold and overcast weather on the trip out, I was confidently praying for the same thing on the way home. When Sunday was proving to be a cloudless, hott-ish day, I was a little disheartened, but God knew what He was doing. He never did send clouds that day, nor on Tuesday, the day we did drive home. Instead, he let us drive home in the comforts of air conditioning! (AND the car had a working radio, which helped me to stay awake on that drive, since I had to do the driving all by myself!)

-Thomas' work--He was supposed to be teaching classes by Monday afternoon. But God had orchestrated it in advance, that the studio had already covered his afternoon classes. So he didn't miss too much work in the end!

-Two extra days in SB--yup, that place is somewhere in the center of my blurry little universe!

To further let it sink in, enjoy the song.

Friday, May 6, 2011

april's amusing quotes

Sp. "I figured out how to spell 'twice!' T-Y-S-S!" -apr. 2

Sp: "I wanna be a gymnastics teacher when i grow up...no, i wanna teach ballet...no, i wanna be one of those people that cooks the food at McDonald's!" -apr. 5

Sp: "are we going to california on the day after two days, or on the two-th day?" -apr. 7

Sp: "one day, when we were in california, and you were getting ready for the day, and you were polishing your eyes, we were listening to this cd with you." -apr. 7

G: "I saw a polm tree at california!" -apr. 10

Sp: "It's so amazing that God put Santa Barbara so close to Oxnard! He should do that with every country." -apr. 12

G: "Mom! i found ALL of the flowers in the world!" (when we were driving past a hill with a bunch of yellow flowers on it)  -apr. 12

G: "the rain was dripping down my sadness." -apr. 12

G: "I don't wanna get bloody fingers on my hands." -apr. 12

Sp: "tomorrow, the first thing i'm gonna do is something that pleases God. I'm gonna pray." -apr. 18

Sp: "Since I said that last night, i'm gonna do a serious prayer. dear God, i pray for the slubs in india, that they would have food, and clothes, and a house, and money. and thank you that we have food, and clothes, and a house, and money. and thank you for this sweet little baby. and thank you that i don't have to live all by myself. amen." -apr. 19

Sp: "We were pretending like this man-statue is our daddy!" -apr. 19

G: "last time it was raining, i fell in the waterproof." - apr. 22

G: "oh, i think i felt some sprinkles on my stickers." -apr. 22

G. making up a song in the car: "bright and shiny as the moon, go to sleep in my dreams..." -apr. 24

Silas learned to crawl on Easter! (apr. 24)

G: "Hey, Auntie Easter! i'm going really high!" (auntie Esther) -apr. 26

G: "Goodnight! see you in a half!" -apr. 28

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reflections on a magical vacation

yes. yes. yes. i am going to detail our vacation chronologically--of course! can i ever get away from the chronological format without feeling that some meaningful detail of *the way things were* will be lost? but tonight, as i sit in this very quiet house in this very quiet. large, oceanless desert, i have--sentiments. i strangely am feeling a lot about my car. almost as if it had been a faithful dog. and i say "had been" because... it is dead. yes, that's all part of the story. you don't get to hear that til the end. so tozer (the car) is fried, sitting in some auto mechanic's shop in santa barbara, never to be seen again, and here i am. visions of the sea, lingering memories of jasmine scented days are my companions. i. miss. california. i *know* it's just a passing thing, that one generally gets a hollow feeling upon returning home from a fun sleepover or exciting travel, but... for tonight, i'm just gonna let myself feel that, be ok with missing it.

i am overwhelmed with gratitude about how the whole trip unfolded--i felt God's grace strong upon us through the whole journey--from the day that we left under cool cloud cover, to even the day the engine died and we coasted straight into a perfect, shady little parking spot! the whole trip, God provided. I felt "sent" and was soooooooo excited to participate in church on the coastlands!!! i knew right off the bat that the trip was a good idea, that it did not have to be expensive, and that it wasn't just going to be a "sitting around" vacation. it was a purposeful one, and i was happy to jump in. but when God sends you to the most beautiful place on earth, well... i guess it's ok to feel a little forlorn when the whirlwind has dropped you back in tucson.

next day--God's goodness is so overwhelming. thomas was perfectly fine on his antibiotics and is now scheduled for minor surgery to remove all traces of the cyst. even now we already have a prospective new used VAN that is available to us for free--we only need to fix it up. i had told mike and dia when we said goodbye to them on tuesday in oxnard--"i guess the car breaking down was God's way of telling us to spend the tax return money on a van!"

truly, this kind of situation is the only time we could ever take any semblance of a "vacation," so it is amazing that it was so refreshing and everything clicked. even in unimportant things: i had really been thinking about taking sparrow to disneyland, but in the end i wrote in my journal. "i have decided not to go to disneyland unless someone gives me money specifically for that." i could not justify spending the money, especially cause my children are still so young and can't go on a lot of the rides. and also because people had been helping us out during thomas' loss of work due to his illness, i could bring myself to go to disneyland and basically say--"thanks! here's how we spent your money!" so, you ask, did anyone give me money specifically for DL? no. we skipped the middle man and just got free tickets! thanks, holly tuggy! what a blast. that was the icing on the cake, and my children LOVED it, even silas.

there were a few times when  thought, "yes, i'll be ready to go home. mostly when i noticed my children were getting untrained and out of control. and was i ready? ...no. i could have stayed. but here is the word that the Lord gave me this morning!

"...having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. for those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. and indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. but as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." Heb. 11:13b-14

AMEN! I AM A STRANGER AND AN EXILE ON THE EARTH!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

February/March Speak

FIND US ON TWITTER! i created a whole account dedicated to my children's musings. so fun! it's under twitter.com/chattyolives.


S: "the other town was starving, but we're even starvier." -feb. 1st

G (singing): "black sheep, black sheep, have you any wool, yessir, yessir, three bags full. one for the miss, had a great kiss..." -feb. 8

G: "Posterman" (postman!) -feb.8

G (praying): "thank you for mommy, and Jesus of the Lord, and baby, and basket and flower and hippopotamus and leaf and skirt. amen. and for mommy and daddy. amen."  -feb. 8

G: "when jacob was running away from esau, daddy went to the office to read the Bible." -feb. 13

S: "it would be sad, if somebody would trade husbands with you, and then somebody would think that thomas was a not-obeying-God man." -feb. 16 (where do they get this stuff?)

G & S (singing): "I've got the love of Jesus in my mouth!" feb. 16

G: "i need to wipe my hand fart." (trying to say "hand first.")
S: "she said 'hand-fart!' can i have a hand fart?"  -feb. 16

S: "mom, remember when you used to say, 'he who does not work has to eat gravel.'?" -feb. 19 (i never said that! i said, 'he who does not work does not eat!')

S: "i wanna write a story about a girl named... party heart." -feb. 19

G: "i was crying, and i was making the noisest." -feb. 24

G: "i don't want to pee on your hair, pecause...i don't want to." -feb. 27 (when i leaned over her while she was going, she could feel my hair on her back and was getting concerned.)

(me joking around with S): "someday i'm gonna be ooolllld and decrepit, and you're gonna have to take care of me!"
S: "...and then you're gonna die when you're for--...six--...one-ninety-hundred!"
me: "ha! thank you for not saying forty!" -march 8

(going to a big resale at church)
G: "we're going to the sale-boat!" -march 11

(i put sunscreen on G)
G: "i got my sunflower screen." -march 11

G: "i wanna go to da coffee shopping." -all the time!

G (quoting her "jesus storybook Bible" CD): "never stopping, never getting up (giving up!), unbreaking, always and for... love." -march 12

S: "how will his crackers get soft?"
me: "because things get softer by the licking them."
S: "can daddy's drum get softer by me licking it?" -march 13

S: "so each of the things have two roles. beans are more cheap but i don't like them the most. and avocados are not as cheap, but i like them more." -march 13

S: "Daddy's gonna be stoked that me and G got spoiled. he's gonna be SO stoked!" -march 16

G: "Jesus was fighting about God, and then Jericho was sleeping in the manger." -march 16

G--current sayings
"hoosannna"
"it's almost valentime!"
(when she is "reading" the Bible): "and the Lord told moses, 'send your best soldier to fight me'..."

G: "bye, mama! i hafta go rescue. i'm going to go rescue myself." -march 24

S: "we can plant a BUNCH of flowers in our little garden, and then we can pick some! we can pick some for our friends, and we can pick some for the slums in india." -march 21

S: "i'm gonna [retend to give you a present, and it's ginna be an empty box, and when you open it you will say, 'nothing's in here!' and i'm gonna say, 'it's a box of relief and a box of faith." (so needed that at that moment!) -march 21

S: "I got out of her belly! I cut a hole into her belly! cause i got a knife and a machete and some scissors and a fork." (what? you lost me at the fork!) -march 27

S: "mommy, i'm so excited to be a grown-up."
me: "oh yeah? what's gonna be your favorite thing about being a grown-up, do you think?"
S: "um...i think my favorite thing is going to be...i get to make dinner, and take care of children."
me: "you're going to be such a good mommy."
S: "...and i don't even care what my hair is gonna look like! ...or what my children's hair is gonna look like!" (that's a big deal for her--haha!) -march 31

G: "i was born in your belly."
S: "yeah. i was born in your belly, and G was born in my belly." -march 31