Thursday, May 24, 2012

dairy free, sugar free, easy peasy "ice cream"

Gather the following ingredients:
  • 2 large bunches of ripe, but not overripe, bananas
  • tons of cinnamon
  • vanilla extract
  • coconut oil
  • blender
Peel and break in half as many bananas as will fit into your blender.  Turn the blender to the lowest speed.  DO NOT PUT ANY LIQUID INTO THE BLENDER.  Carefully push bananas down into the blades until they are liquid.  Add more bananas, about 2T coconut oil, a dump truck load of cinnamon, and, ohhhh, about 1T +/- extract (depending upon the quality, I used Tone's from Sams, and it says it is real, but I'm a skeptic).  Now turn that puppy to the second to the highest level of power to make sure everything is combined.

Pour mixture into some sort of freezer safe plastic ware.  Let freeze for 24 hours.
Next time I think I may only put 1/2 a dump truck load of the cinnamon and replace it with 1/2 c of extremely strong espresso.  Also, this recipe wouldn't be terrible if there were some chocolate sauce or caramel sauce ribboned through it.... though it would no longer be sugar free.
If you make it and come up with some additional suggestions, please share them!

photo fail, but you get the idea
PS-You're welcome!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


"I just don't get it.  I mean.... I chew it."

not limited to sticks: in which we learn that any two things, when rubbed together, could potentially cause a fire

There is a female usher at church who is always so very nicely dressed.  She hails from the generation just before mine and though I can't say for sure, I am pretty certain she must have carry one of my same crosses: fat thighs.  The reason "how come I know" is that this morning at Mass during the Offertory as she walked past,  No. 4 leans over and asked, "Mommy, what's that swish swish swish noise?"

I shivered remembering the painful hours I logged in two decades ago as a chafed, thin-thighed wannabe.

Ahhh, that would be control top pantyhose young Grasshopper.

Friday, May 18, 2012

tabouli tabouleh tabbouleh: no matter how you spell it, we're in for a yummy weekend

Back when King and I were newlyweds, we lived on Florida's panhandle in a sweet little hamlet called Mexico Beach.  We had some pretty wonderful friends, and Melina and Jack were among them.  Jack was an amazing man and a military hero whose rich history lent itself to entertain us with his amazing stories.  His laugh was infectious in itself.  I learned much, too, from Melina-  an artist, a teacher, a photographer, a cat lover, sun lover, and all around fun friend.  Melina's ancestors were from Lebanon and she handed down to me her family's amazing recipe for Tablouli.  I can still remember the day she taught me to make the delicious and beautiful parsley salad.  Such fresh ingredients with their fragrant smells filling her kitchen. 

So, each year about this time, I am led by my taste buds to get a culinary jump start to summer!  As soon as I place the parsley into my shopping cart, my heart floods with those wonderful, colorful, warm, summer memories. 

You can't whip up a batch in just a few minutes.  It is a long process.  So much so that I am pretty sure the Lebanese translation of Tabouli must be "delicious labor of love."

Here is a photographic recipe of most all of the ingredients that go into it...but, I can't tell you all of them.  You'd have to come spend some time in my kitchen, laughing and bonding.  It's just the way it's done. 

look around

... if you pay close enough attention you will notice that we are now seeing the sense of entitlement that has resulted from Everybody Gets A Trophy Syndrome.  It ain't pretty when it grows up, is it?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

to my children

Let me be clear: unless you see that I have lost my sense of humor, we are not in a fight.  The tone of my voice is naturally like this when I am trying to be as succinct as possible without getting even wordier than I already naturally am.

What we are experiencing, rather, is a type of refiner's fire.  I can see the person you are becoming and through an intense "heated" moment, I am helping you shed, or burn away the part of you that is not part of your mature adult self.  I am also maturing in the process.

Michelangelo's Pieta - that gorgeous image was always inside that chunk of marble.  From the beginning of the earth it was there.  Michelangelo Buonarroti chiseled away what didn't belong.  Sure it was a messy process, but wasn't it worth it? 

Now that you have taken good shape and we are just putting in the details, we must keep you protected from anything that might chip your exterior or leave exquisite marble stained.  You will be going on tour soon enough and we must teach you how to respect the creation you are by being very careful about who and what you let pass those museum ropes. 

I see the beautiful creation you are to become.  Please understand that we must both go through times like this to grow and mature into who God wants us to be. 

deep thoughts from a six year old

Number 4 always melts my heart when he starts up a game of "I Love You As Much As.."

This morning he said he loved me "the same amount that I want to go to Heaven."

"Wow,"  King commented, "that's a lot!"

"Yeah, I'm just dying to go to Heaven," he gushed.  Then, realizing the pun, he added,
"Well, actually I am dying to go to Heaven.  Every day, every second, every minute, every week."

Monday, May 14, 2012

mother's day in the trenches

Yesterday was Mother's Day and there was much pressure to be perfect, a day of "no fighting" while the kids were supposed to help King "keep the house straight" so that "Mommy can enjoy her day."  But, well, let's suffice it to say that my nose was rubbed into the fact that I am a mother.
Gray, rainy weather, non-stop bickering, recurring clutter, teenage power struggles, and the second day of a migraine stood in place of a the bright, sunny, flower spattered, rainbow-filled day that was the subject of the handmade cards I received.

Whatcha gonna do? 

Beg and plead, try to yell above the roars, or deliver long monologues of wisdom to set them straight like all the rest of the days of the year?  I think not.  Four ibuprofen, a 3 hour nap followed by hiding in a quiet room doing crossword puzzles was my only recourse. 

So, today we woke up to celebrate "Not-Mother's-Day" Day... a day filled with non-stop bickering, recurring clutter, teenage power struggles, and the third day of a migraine.  But somehow, in a way that only a licenced professional could explain, there are no expectations for perfection.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

remembering the help

This morning I happened to think back on when I went to see The Help with a friend of mine about a year or so ago.  I am white.  She is black.  We are in book club together.  No matter who I could have been sitting beside, it was a difficult movie for me to watch, not just for the storyline in front of me, but because I didn't want to be lumped into a stereotypical group that the movie most certainly tried to put me in.

I cried the most, sobbed out loud actually, when Aibileen and Mae Mobley said goodbye.  (In fact, my eyes are pretty leaky right now just thinking about it.)  It made me sorely miss Bea, Rebekka, and Irene. 

Although The Help is a work of fiction, it is certainly true that many white families hired black women to help not only with housework, but with raising children.  My mother was one of those women.  I can only speak from my experience.  This account is the way I remember things, the lessons I learned.  Maybe I am wearing rose-colored glasses, nonetheless I think it is important enough for me to record it, just because all white families were not like the Holbrooks and Leefolts.  Perhaps there were white families who did not respect the people nor the race of the women that they hired, but that was not true in our case. 

When my mother and father became parents for the first time, it was to a son who was born with severe mental retardation and seizure disorder.  The medical needs alone were nearly a full time job, but to a new mother who knew nothing at all, it was overwhelming.  Neither of my grandmothers were geographically available or willing to help.  My parents hired Bea.  Bea helped my mother with cooking and with housework a couple of days a week, but more than that, she taught my mother how to be a mother.  There were many emergency trips to the hospital and later a problem pregnancy (when she was expecting me) in which she had to go on bed rest or lose the baby.  If it weren't for Bea, perhaps I would not be here.  When my dad had to transfer to a new job in another state, my parents begged Bea and her husband to move with them.  They had been through so much together in those few years.  She and her husband discussed it, but in the end, they had to remain in Jackson (AL).  Though I was not quite two years old when we moved, when I close my eyes and think back, I can remember three things about Bea: smooth, well-moisturized, beautifully dark-skinned arms, the nurturing juxtaposition of those arms against a cornflower blue dress, and an unfrantic, amazingly safe love. 

Because I was an older toddler, I remember Rebekka a little better.  Rebekka had large bosoms and wore white cotton tee shirts.  Her hair was sometimes curled and sometimes it stood straight up on her head.  She had a beautiful, slightly bucktooth smile and her laugh was infectious.  She and my mom laughed a LOT.  They even dieted together - and unlike Aibileen and Elizabeth in The Help, mom and Rebekka would have tuna salad sandwiches together at lunchtime and discuss the size of their backsides, which I knew to be about the same size because of how far my toddler-sized arms could wrap around their thighs.  Oh, I'm not sure how productive the two of them were together, my mom did housework right along with her, but my brother and I were clean and well-fed.  Rebekka had a son, Kevin (pronounced Kee-vin) who was my age. We were in first grade together.  He had reddish hair and his skin wasn't as beautifully dark as hers, but he had the same smile of his mother.  When he was older, he played football for my dad, who was his coach on and off the field.  Because Rebekka was a single mother with boys to raise, and the money my parents could afford to pay her wasn't enough, she had to find something that paid more. 

I was in high school when my mother had to start working outside the home.  Unable to balance work and home life, they hired Irene to come work one day a week.  Irene was tall and graceful.  Though she had great strength, there was a certain frailty about her as well and I respected her for both. She was working to help support her daughter and grandchildren.  She was elderly, but because she wore a wig, you couldn't really tell by looking at her.  Her perfect teeth clicked when she talked.  My sister and I helped her as she went through the house, picking up stuff so she didn't have to bend over and helping to change the sheets on the beds since the mattresses were kinda heavy.  We would sit with her in the living room as she waited for her daughter to come pick her up.  She told us stories about her family, but sometimes would nod off mid sentence.

Current political correctness tells me that I should be ashamed that I have this experience.  But part of me refuses.  Was it wrong for my parents to hire these women who needed jobs?  Was it wrong that my parents gave these families gratitude that went way beyond a paycheck?  What if I did not have Bea, Rebekka, and Irene as part of my life?  As ironic as it may be, I think if I didn't have the experience of developing a loving, respectful relationship with three very special women, I may have turned out differently altogether (see Hilly Holbrook). 

Monday, May 7, 2012

on worms

"Worms are our friends."

Apparently that's what I told my mom once when I was a todder.  I had just watched an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood in which he was extolling the virtues of the lowly earthworm.  As long as Mr. Rogers was the messenger, I was convinced.  Later that afternoon, as luck would have it, I was able to point out to my mom an example of one of our friends who had crawled up on our patio.  This is the day I learned the difference between an earthworm and  "damned snake".  Who knew?

So, as it goes, No. 4 has a fondness for worms as evidenced by this bulletin I found on the dining room table.  (His name was airbrushed out so y'all won't turn into scary stalker-pods who want to steal my kid and have a leg up by the fact that you know his name.)

His love for worms has grown, especially now that he OWNS two mealworms - "Mr. Jeff" and "Mr. Fred".  He is in complete and total love.  Gotta love first grade science experiments!
Below is his Very Official Scientific Method Observation Data Record Sheet. It's all very formal. Yes, Number 4 is fast on his way to becoming a Very Important Scientist pretty soon. Maybe as early as next week.  Anyway, here are his observations:

Also, I am not sure if it was Mr. Jeff or Mr. Fred, but he writes
"I have observed my mealworm jogs fast, likes me holding him, and puts his head up."

I never even knew mealworms could jog at all~
It's a proud Momma moment.


No matter how many "participation trophies" we win, there's just no way to get genuine self esteem other than having the heart of a servant and helping others.

to be honest, this does relieve some of the pressure

I'm not saying we don't need to tend to the bodies with which we were gifted, but anything can turn into an idol, even Exercise. 

From the Baltimore Catechism:
Q. Of which must we take more care, our soul or our body?
A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body.
Q. Why must we take more care of our soul than of our body.
A. We must take more care of our soul than of our body, because in losing our soul we lose God and everlasting happiness.

politics = gospel?

Y'know, when I was a child, I remember no one ever talked about who they were voting for.  No one discussed their political views outside the four walls of home. 
Nowadays, people spout their political views as if they were Disciples spreading the Good News.  Saving lost souls.  A New Religion.

Alas, I grow weary.... and I don't think I am alone. 

Frankly, I think political divisiveness is just another way The Enemy can distract us from what we were created to do - know Him, love Him, serve Him, and praise Him in this world so that we may live happily with Him in the next.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

lessons in parenthood

Parents love to A) make their kids happy and B) teach their children what "the right thing to do" is.  Sometimes those two things can skip along hand-in-hand.  And sometimes they are at odds.