Dec 7, 2014

how to cook (when you're me)

I am a grown-up with a house and a child.  But somehow, today, a try at a new recipe spiraled downward into me stuffing cheese up my nose.

I'll start at the beginning.  I was trying a recipe for low carb jalapeno poppers.  It calls for jalapenos, cream cheese, and bacon wrapped around the outside.  Sounds good, right?  I've never done anything with actual jalapenos, but three ingredients--how hard could it be?


The recipe said to scrape out the seeds because that's where the heat is.  I was wondering how hard I needed to scrape... did I have enough of the heat out?  I touched my tongue to one of the peppers.  HOT!  I took a quick drink of milk to cool my mouth, and did some more scraping.  

Then something horrible happened, though I didn't know it yet.  I scratched my nose.

It felt hot, then hotter, then hotter.  So I rubbed it some more.

Heat explosion.  By this time, I realized that I must be spreading jalapeno heat with my hands, so I decided to try to put on rubber gloves.  My eyes were watering and my nose was running and the heat was intensifying, and I just kept working at those gloves!  Why?!  Finally, I realized that I had my pinky and thumb spots reversed and was trying to put them on backwards.  I also realized that I was far beyond gloving up and trying to keep working on these.

I was desperate, heat spreading up my nose.  I had vague fears of the heat rising and burning out my eyes... I opened the fridge and tried to think of something milk-like that could possibly take the heat our of my nose.  I saw Colby cheese first, so I rolled some up and stuffed it up my nose.  It provided a bit of relief, but not enough.  I called my brother, panicked and crying.  Our conversation, shouted over speakerphone, went a little like this:

me:  I need your help!  I touched jalapenos and then my nose and now it's burning so much and I'm in a lot of pain.  What do I do???

J: (laughter)  Um, maybe some milk?

me:  Okay, I'll try.  (I poured milk into a cup and tried to angle myself over the sink to pour milk into my nose.)  Agg!! It's not working!!  I can't get the angle right!  (total desperation)  I can't get the milk in my nose!!

J:  Anything milk based would help.

me:  I tried cheese, but it doesn't help.

J:  What kind?  (PS.  Why does this matter??)

me:  Colby!

J:  (laughter)  (laughter)  You put Colby cheese up your nose? (laughter)

me:  Yes, and it doesn't help!  What do I do???

J:  Try some butter.

me:  (I grabbed butter, whimpering and blubbering, cut off a chunk, broke it in half, and shoved each half into my nostrils).  Ahh.  I think that's better.  Yeah, that's helping.

J:  Did you rub it around your nose?

me:  I shoved it in.  (finally the burning is subsiding enough that i can see that this is funny.  I giggle, which shoots the butter pats out of my nose into the sink.  I reach for more butter.)

J:  (laughter) (vague sounds of him repeating all this to Rachel)  (laughter)

So... if I were to write a cookbook, the recipes would go something like this:

Jalepeno Poppers (low carb, high heat)

cream cheese
Colby cheese, rolled (for nose)
dash of milk (for attempts to extinguish nasal fire)
large pat of butter (divided) (one part for each nostril)
tea towel (to wave at the smoke detector when it goes off)  *which did indeed happen today, when I finally got those bad boys into the oven

I. can't. even. with this nonsense that is my life :)

Dec 3, 2014

It's beginning to look...

 a lot like Christmas!!

Decorating this year was really fun!  Lucy got very involved.  She checked out all the ornaments, placed them carefully (and gave the Cookie Elmo John that she remembered from last year a kiss before her nap!). There were literally ooohs and aaahs and squeals of delight.  Super fun!

Her glam grandma Viv would be happy--given these two choices of garland (red wooden beads and blingy, clear, crystal-ish beads) she immediately went for the fancy clear ones.

After all our hard work, she suggested we have our brunch as a picnic in front of the tree, "so we can see the lights."  It was a lot of fun, too.  She invited all the Christmas stuffed animals to join :)

Nov 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Today's art work.  Looking happy and thankful, indeed.

Nov 23, 2014

shopping opportunities that make a difference

Friends, before you buy all those shiny Christmas presents, check out a few options that will use the money you spend to support women in poverty around the world.  You get lovely things, and you join in something beautiful, all at the same time!    These gifts are so meaningful for those who receive them, because they know that you really thought about it--a way to honor them by choosing a gift that impacts another's life.  
(Also, you can shop from the comfort of your living room whilst the crazies fight it out on Black Friday!  Just click on the links and merrily shop!)

(PS--Spoiler alert!  If you're on my Christmas list, DON'T look here!)

Sari Bari
This place makes bags, scarves and other things from up-cycled saris in India.  By women who used to be enslaved in the red light district and are now free.  You can look up the name of the woman who made your bag (it's on the tag) and find out a little about her.  I have a bag that I got last year for Christmas and I've carried it all year!  The worn saris are so soft, and they make things with 4-6 layers of saris quilted together. Totally unique, and really beautiful.  I met people who work with this organization at a Christian conference on prostitution several years ago, and they were awesome.  The stories they had about God working in India with these women were just amazing!  Go support them!!  Now!!!

I met people with this organization at that same conference.  They are also selling the products made by women who have been freed from lives of indentured servitude in the sex industry to support the women now that they are free and have to make a living.  Beautiful work!  I have a bag from here, as well.  They have several products.  I love this T-shirt, which has the signatures of the women who made it as the focal point.

Signature Circle Printed Tee - Unisex Quarter Sleeve

This ministry is one started by Katie Davis (whose book, Kisses from Katie, is amazing, and you should read that, too!  She writes beautifully and details how God led her to Uganda to start a ministry and to adopt 14 little girls and young women there.  Her blog is in the list to the right.  It's incredible!).  She (in addition to helping kiddos go to school, hosting hundreds of kids for a Bible study and dinner each week, parenting 14 children, and opening her home to acute AIDS patients) has started a relationship with several women living in poverty in a nearby slum.  These women make a living by rolling paper into beads, and they make the most beautiful necklaces!  I love them.  I want all of them! (I suspect you may, as well--check them out!)

Last, but certainly not least, please check out jewelry made by women at The Well, in Thailand.  I love these people.  LOVE them!  I was blessed to work with them several years ago in Bangkok, and I know that they are battling for women's hearts in a dark place.  You can feel confident that your support will go to make a difference in the lives of precious women in Bangkok.

Happy shopping!

Nov 17, 2014

love note

This is what you did while I was in the shower.  You ran in, all yippy and excited, yelling that you WROTE SOMETHING!!!  And then I saw this.  No books or cards out.  I asked you if you copied it from a book or something.  "No!"  you replied, indignant.  "It's from my head!"  I didn't know that you knew how to spell love, much less write it, but here it is!  Wow!  I also included your drawing from that morning.  All of your people look like this:  a big head and two legs coming down.  Then you always connects the legs at the bottom.  I think it's SO adorable.  They used to have straight line mouths, but you recently figured out how to make a smile.  That day, you was awed with yourself.  "Does she look happy, Mama?  Does she look happy??" Well, I'm certainly smiling, Lucy Joy!  :)  Welcome to the world of printed words!  It's lovely here.

Nov 13, 2014

falls, receptions, and the cutest doctor around

People, this is the thing.  I fall down.   I shared my history of spectacular wipe-outs right here, which is not in the slightest exaggerated.  So it will not surprise you that I fell down again.  I twisted my ankle on Saturday. (On what, you ask?  Nothing!  Just nothing.)

We were at Steak n Shake breakfast, and my little Joy-belle was sharing with our favorite waitress and the manager that she was getting married today.  She was marrying Jay-ton (her imaginary brother---that's a whole other thing to address).  And she was making a wedding list.  She read it off to me:  flowers, cauliflower, hamburger, and lemonade.  Her receptions was to be at Kroger's (our next stop) and she asked the lovely Steak n Shake ladies if they could please come.  She had us cracking up!

Then I twisted my ankle on the way out.  It was already puffing up like I had a ping pong ball in my sock as I limped around to get Lucy strapped in and we finally drove off.  I was a little teary because it hurt!  Lucy noticed that we passed Kroger and were going home.  "Why aren't we going to Kroger??" she cried out in panic.  When I told her that we had to go home so that I could put my foot up, she started sobbing.  Bawling.  "What's wrong?"  I asked.  "We can go to Kroger another time."

Through her tears, shoulders shaking, she screeches out, "RUINED!!  My RECEPTION is RUINED!!!"

She was sobbing and I was giggling hysterically.  It just struck me as SO funny!  She's a distraught "bride" worried that the details of her reception are not coming together!  She's a little dramatic, but the laugh was just what I needed!

When we got home, she got to business.  First, she brought me a Diet Coke (I didn't even ask her to, she just knows her Mama!)  Then it was "Doctor to the rescue!!"  She ran out of the room for neosporin and band-aids.  (Just the right thing for a swollen ankle, right?)

Neosporin.  A LOT of it :)  "I'm going to put on some medicine and it's going to make you feel all better."

One band-aid (or Ban-Ban, as she's always called them)

The doc at work.  Definitely more than one Ban-ban needed.  Saturday was going to be a clean-up day after a busy week, but, so pardon our mess :)
Several Dora Ban-Bans will surely help!

As will a little blanket from her baby's bed.

Laughter is the best medicine?  Fully part of her medical training.

She gave me a check-up.  This is one thorough doctor!

Bedside manner:  super sweet

This little blessing really helped me that day!  I love that she wants to "take care" of me when I need it.  I like to have a plan for the day (and week, and year) and it was totally derailed.  I was on the verge of grouchy from the messiness of our house and the inconvenience of having to hit pause and not do that (or much of anything) while I let my foot rest.  But her kindness just helped me have a better frame of mind.  Overall, even on rough days, I can't help but be thankful.  God has blessed me with so much to be thankful for!

Oct 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

First, a lovely China girl went to pre-school:

Then, Little Red Riding Hood went trick-or-treating:

It was a fun day!

Oct 26, 2014

fall fun

We spent a lovely afternoon at Country Pumpkins, enjoying the crunchy leaves, baby animals, and marveling at the beautiful way God made things around here to change in the fall.  It's my favorite season, and you seem to like it, too!

My little pumpkin--I call you that sometimes.

You chose a really great pumpkin.  (This is your choosing face.)

Playing in the corn box.  It was fun!  It seemed a lot nicer to me than sand...

We really liked this tree.

Happy Fall!

Oct 22, 2014

sick day

 So, this pretty much sums up our day:

Why yes, it is a specimen cup, full of urine, with a Cinderella sticker on it.  We were given the cup at the doctor's office, and before I could fully explain what it was for, Lucy had decorated it with the sticker they gave her for being so brave.  So, we filled it up shortly afterwards and then took it back.  I hope we made a lab person's day!

We got home and while I got medicine out and read labels, Lucy got a baby and tucked herself in.  Big smiles even when she's feeling pitiful.

I hate to see her feeling bad, but again I'm SO thankful that we live in a place where I can take her to see a doctor and get medicine the same day she's feeling bad.  I hate to see her feeling rough, but I know that medicine is already working in her to make her feel better.  Mamas in countries without access to health care have to watch their babies feel bad and can't do much for them.  So we're grateful.

Oct 20, 2014

Four so far

 Already such a big 4-year-old!  Four-year-olds get to push the little carts at Kroger.  Yay!

And four-year-olds still hold Mama's hand willingly (yay!) but they twist their little wrists out from under your pinky finger.   (boo!)  Mamas, you know what I'm talking about.

Four is great for playing dress up with your buddies.  Four-year-olds generously sample make-up while Mama is browsing, and then with beautiful four year old self-assurance, shout into the mirror, 
"I like me!  I like me!"

Being four means you want a little more say in your outfits (and I just love your style).  You also may explain to your mama that you have a "conference" in the morning, so she'll probably need to do hair after nap instead.

Sometimes four is hard.

But most of the time it's quite lovely.

Oct 15, 2014

a month without tv

I put our T.V. in the closet.

It's been about a month so I was reflecting on our life without tv, and wanted to share, mostly to remind myself if I start to waver.

I've been pondering this move for years, but I always balked at the last second.  I'm a single mom--what would I do without the 20 minute miracles from Netflix (Daniel Tiger, The Duggars, Dora, Curious George, and Jessie) when I've got to get something done or take a shower?  I could justify it so easily.

One day last month after church I was thinking about God and life and what I hold on to too tightly.  I kept thinking about T.V.  The shows we watched were pretty tame, and several even encouraging and educational (The Duggars and Daniel Tiger, especially).  But couch-sitting and living seemed miles apart, and I could see clearly which one we were gravitating to more and more on weeknights.   There were never grand plans to come home and flop down in front of the T.V., but it could easily slide into that kind of night.

So, I thought, I'll just mention it to Lucy.  This was a slightly devious plan and a cop-out because I was sure she'd be horrified by the suggestion, solidifying my justification that it just wan't practical for us.  After nap, I broached the subject.

Me:  I've been thinking about getting rid of our T.V.

L:  Whaat??  I don't want to do that!

Me: (Smugly thinking that this wasn't really going to happen)  Well, I just thought it might be good for us...

L:  What do you mean?

Me:  Well, maybe we'd do other things more.  Play games, or go outside...

L:  Let's do it right now!!

Hmm...  It's hard to argue with that.  So we put it in the closet.

The month has flown by, as most do, so I tried to think back and see if it's been different.  We haven't really noticed in the every-day, but I think small changes have added up to something lovely.  We have definitely spent more time on the shaggy blue rug in front of her bookshelf, reading books and playing games.  We have taken nice, crunchy fall walks.  We have cooked more, which is not something I generally love to do, but considering the company/help I have, I appreciate that positive time together.  We have cleaned more and danced more.  It hasn't been a huge, jarring change.  Just a little more of the sweet things and less of the mindless.  But real change, for the better.

This morning instead of her watching Dora while I got ready, I had a chipper little pajamed girl pop in my bathroom and ask, "Can I be your company?"  My mornings are a little longer but I just can't turn down an offer like that.

We haven't been completely t.v. free, as she sees some at her sitters and I've watched a few shows on my laptop on Netflix after her bedtime.  We also unashamedly watch Daniel Tiger during the hair process.  We had a movie night tonight, and I hauled the T.V. out, wondering if it would be hard to put it back.

It wasn't.

Oct 12, 2014

4 years old!

Lucy, you are such a joy.

You so enjoy having family around, and you LOVE birthdays.  So your own birthday is a BIG DEAL!

On this birthday, you put on a pink princess dress and gasped over "glass" slippers and then tripped and tumbled your way to the mirror.  At one point you had the hoop of your skirt around your head!  We laughed so hard!  Then you got a princess dress for your baby doll and shoved your crown at me--"Hold this!  I've got to go get someone."--as you tumbled in to get your baby.

You cracked eggs and mixed and iced and sprinkled.  It was so lovely!  (You even got Pap into the kitchen to help!)

You got books and you were so happy with them.  We read them all twice.

You got lots of fun things for fancy dress-up!  High heels, tiaras, and some cool costumes.  You love to use your imagination, so these are perfect!!

And, as a little part of your present, you got 3 princess lip glosses (the kind with the wand) and a little keychain carrying case for them.  Oh my word!  You were enchanted with this lip gloss.  You have the glossiest lips on the planet and your family all got sticky birthday kisses, but you're so happy.

So I'm happy.  Happy Birthday, my love!  You are a precious gift from God!

Oct 7, 2014

the every-day

My kitchen help.  She is the official egg-cracker now.
Sandwiched between two favorites, Aunt Rachel and Pap, on their birthday/birthday eve.
Every time we take trash to the dumpsters, Lucy gives a big, loud, low, MOOO.  I think she thinks it looks like a barnyard.  And, side-note:  Look at the shadow or her hair--pretty cool!

She sings a "God is so BIG" song by GoFish.  She loves it!  At one point, it says, "I'll look you in the eye and say:  My God is so Big..."  She's been singing it, "I'll poke you in the eye and say..."  Kind of makes a big difference in the overall feel of the tune.

I've been hearing about Hey Diddle Diddle, from pre-school.  (I have a video if I can figure out how to load it from my new-fangled phone).  She's quite good now, but the first time I head it, it went something like this:  "Hey diddle diddle!  The cat played the VIOLIN!  Hey diddle diddle!  The dish and the spoon ran.  Hey diddle diddle!  The dog laughed."  SO cute!

She's excited to go to a "Pumpkin Hatch" this fall.  (Pumpkin Patch)

I asked her what she wanted for her 4th birthday and she didn't hesitate a second.  "BOOBS!" she shouted out, eyes sparkling with hope.  This is my daughter.

P.S.  You can't mention these to her, especially the boobs talk.  She's had to talk with me lately about not sharing her stories!