Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wonder Woman

Cast your bread upon the waters...
Ecclesiastes 11:1

Yesterday I was Wonder Woman. I admit this in complete humility (naturally), but let me tell you why. Not only did I finish five (count them: five) loads of laundry in my ridiculously slow washing machine AND fold the clothes AND put them away (mostly), not only did I cook dinner and set a beautiful table, not only did I have extensive play time with my son, not only did I give him a bath and correctly replace his brace (haha, I made a rhyme), not only did I clean the cat's litter, wash the dishes, exercise, skype with a heart-friend, call my mother-in-love, and read stimulating literature, not only did I make cinnamon bread from scratch (more on that later), not only did I take a shower and wash my hair (which is a bigger achievement than you might think), but I also (drum roll, please) cut Little's toenails. Yep. And that is a lot harder than it sounds because in order to cut his toenails I have to take his brace off, which makes him really excited, so he kicks a lot and curls his toes and generally engages in a fair amount of wiggling, and then you're also dealing with how ticklish his feet are and how sensitive they are after being in the brace for so long. So cutting his toenails is a big accomplishment. Applaud me, please. Is it any wonder I'm a bit delirious?

With that said, my cinnamon bread is chronicled in picture format below:

Above is the auspicious place I chose for my bread to rise. Let me just say that baking with yeast involves an increase in the intensity in my prayer life. It's also rather exciting and adventurous: you never know if it's going to rise the way it's supposed to!

Oswald, checking on the bread for me. It seems to be rising nicely...if squashily. I was busy multitasking by doing crunches while the bread rose. That way I can justify eating a whole loaf on my own. Just kidding! Kind of...

Baking nicely. To explain the midget loaf on the right, the recipe makes three loaves, but I only have three loaf pans, so I improvised.

Fresh out of the oven! They may not be beautiful, but they rose! It's all about making the glass half full.

After dinner, the Man and I indulged in dessert: M.L. (otherwise known as Midget Loaf).

The beautiful inner swirling of cinnamony goodness, aaaah... No, we did not eat the whole loaf, no matter how small it was. But we considered. Or at least I did.

PS Recipe credits go to the incomparable and much loved Aunt Joy. I seriously still remember the first time I ate this bread at her house. It changed my world. Mine wasn't quite to her level, but someday... msf

Monday, May 24, 2010

L'Engle Again

If I could'st empty all thyself of self,/Like to a shell dishabited,/Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,/And say, "This is not dead,"/And fill thee with Himself instead.
Sir Thomas Browne

I just finished reading (or rereading--I can't remember which!) Madeleine L'Engle's A Ring of Endless Light. Yes, I still read children's books. Don't mock. Aside from the fact that I now desperately want to go to the beach and would also like to ride a dolphin, preferably in the wild, I've been given a lot to think about in regard to prayer. In Ring of Endless Light, the protagonist, Vicky, talks with her grandfather, who is dying of leukemia, about prayer and meditation. One of the things that he says to her is that prayer is an exercise where we take what's in our heart and place it in God's mind. And I like that. There's a lot in my heart right now, both good and bad, and it's good to remember that I can sit down with my cosmic Friend and Father and share with Him so intimately.

The other theme L'Engle weaves throughout the book is that of the emptying of self in order to allow oneself to be filled with God's joy. She includes Sir Thomas Browne's poem that goes on to say that too many of us are so full of our own selves that we miss out on the chance to be filled with Something more than ourselves. Vicky comes to understand this in both her poetry and her scientific experiments in non-verbal communication. Once she is able to empty herself of her own emotions, it is then that she's able to truly hear. This struck home to me as a writer because while I've learned to do that when I'm writing, to rid myself of everything but the words, I have yet to learn how to do this in my prayer life. How many times does the Word say for us to just "be still and know" that He is God? It's a simple practice in meditation that can bring a rich reward for our spiritual life.

And so this week I've been challenging myself to place what's in my heart in God's mind and then leave it there so that I can just listen and be with Him. I hope to be able to experience the joy that comes when I glorify God in the way He deserves.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Greasy Elbow

Cleanliness becomes more important when godliness is unlikely.
P. J. O'Rourke

I have lately realized that house cleaning is about 20% good cleaning products and 80% elbow grease. This is why the Man says that the apartment gets cleaner when he's the one cleaning. I can't help it that he has more upper body (scrubbing) strength than I do. Jillian Michaels is supposed to be fixing that for me, but she's not a miracle worker.

Can I just say that keeping a house clean is difficult when you have a permanently shedding cat (who loves to roam the kitchen counters at night), a baby who diligently spits up on ... everything, a husband who comes home with dirt in his pockets (deposited by the handful with love from a little boy at the air show), and my own post-pregnancy hair loss going on. It takes a lot of work to keep all that spit up and dirt and hair (both blonde and otherwise) from matting the counters and floor boards and carpets, et cetera. If I was not already going bald from the post-pregnancy hair loss (and the chunks that Littles is pulling out with his new grasping talent), I'd have hair falling out from the stress of a losing battle.

Luckily, I always have the Man and his greasy elbow to take over when I reach that point. Right, babe?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rainy Day Monday

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

I realized that without intending to I have started a series of rainy day posts. So, coming to you from the tail end of a Monday comes yet another. What can I say? There's something about the sound of rain slithering down the window panes that puts me in a writing mood. Plus, it's so cozy, and it makes me want tea or coffee, both of which induce a certain ink blotted productivity in my life.

Both of the "boys" are asleep. The Man is trying to catch up on all the shut-eye that he missed while working the air show, and Littles is worn out from a long day of playing with yours truly. I went in around 5.30pm to see if the Man wanted to wake up for dinner (he's been asleep since around 11.30am), but even the delectable scent of hamburger pot pie wafting into the bedroom could not rouse him. Too bad for him--I'd left a secret message on the top of the pie. It is no longer since I ate the "U" out of the "I <3 U."

So, I sat down with my meal and Julie and Julia and thought about blogging and food. Naturally. At the end of the day, my pie crust isn't very pretty and I make meals that come (at least partially) out of a can, but I'm okay with that. I've never aspired to be a gourmet cook. If it tastes good, I'm satisfied. And most of the time it does. Saturday night's pork chops excluded, but I blame that on the fact that Josh got off work an hour and a half later than I'd planned for. C'est la vie. (Note the exquisite use of French--not only am I under the influence of Julie and Julia, but I have also just finished reading I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do) by Mark Greenside.)

At any rate, one load of laundry and some peach cobbler later, it's good to be home and writing. I love our little home and our little family, and I love that I've spent today writing and being a mom. As I told my sister today, I feel happier and healthier when I'm writing, as if, in some way, using my gift makes me more complete. Just getting words out on the page and seeing them take shape into something tangible and real makes me feel alive again. But who knows, it could just be the effect of the rain...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Water Buffalo

Yesterday I received a phone call intended for my lieutenant husband. This has been happening a lot since the military put me down as the contact number during his deployment. Evidently, they forgot to change things back when they finally got around to sending him home. Regardless, the person calling was looking for the Lt. to "ask about the water buffalo for the air show". Naturally, I was curious. Water buffalo and I go way back...

Here's a water buffalo I met just a few years ago when I was home for Christmas:

Here is where the baby water buffalo kissed my belt buckle:

So the immediate course of action was to find out why there was going to be a water buffalo at the air show and what was wrong with my husband for not telling me about this crucial piece of information. However, being a thoughtful wife, I politely texted and asked him to tell me the story when he got home... instead of demanding it post haste. He called me a little bit later and the conversation went like this:

J: What about the water buffalo?
M: I want to know the story.
J: We're having one at the air show.
M: Really? Why didn't you tell me about this?
J: It's not that big of a deal.
M: Yes, it is, Josh. Everybody wants a water buffalo. Yours is fast but mine is slow.
J: I'm hanging up on you now.

Essentially, completely unsatisfying, and all because I had the hilarity to quote Veggie Tales at what he deemed was an inopportune moment. When he got home, the cross-examination began during which time I found out that when you're in the military and you talk about water buffalo (unless you fought in the Vietnam War), this is what you mean:

It stores water. I was rather nonplussed. A real water buffalo would've been so much cooler.

PS Unfortunately, the Water Buffalo song got stuck in my head so I was singing it for the rest of the day. Littles did not appreciate the verse that says, "Everybody has a baby kangaroo. Yours is pink but mine is blue." He wanted the blue one. Typical. msf

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Brain Development

This morning I decided to be a good mother. I'm sure you're all glad that I finally realized this was something I aim for (it only took four months to get there). So while I had my tea and bagel for breakfast, Littles and I worked on his brain development.

First, he had some tummy time and played with the mobile that "Aunt" Erin had sent from far away India. We talked about the various colours of the elephants and how bright pink is kind of girly. And we discussed the fact that chewing on said elephants would (hopefully) increase his immune system...since I have no idea what he's ingesting into his body. Then, feeling really ambitious, I turned on some Mozart so that Littles will be a math genius when he grows up. Unlike me. I have to get the Man to add my yahtzee scores. And then we had show and tell time about cool combo animals like ligers, shrabs, and beavecoons. Little Man thought the beavecoon was a little scary, but that's what happens when you combine a beaver and a raccoon. At the end of all of this he was so excited that he got the hiccups. Next on the agenda: give this kid a bath!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The Man started work again yesterday, so the past two days have been spent trying to take care of the mounds of laundry, heaps of dust, and piles of emails that have accumulated over the last 5 weeks of vacation. Luckily, it rained today so I opened the window and Littles and I listened to the rain and a little bit of Ben Folds. And that made things lovely. In spite of the vacuum refusing to turn on.

I don't have anything huge to say. Life lately has been made up of little moments (like Little Man's first time to pull the cat's tail and yesterday's excitement of throwing together a last minute dinner because the Man was actually on his way home! and going running with the stroller on a really, really windy day), and I'm okay with that. I'm taking time to read and write and be. L. M. Montgomery is my faithful friend these days (I now call her Lucy Maud, or, occasionally and affectionately, L. M., which is confusing because the Little Man could also be L.M.), and between her and my Bible and journal, I have plenty to mull over. I'm never bored, and my mind has found plenty of stimulation.

It's funny... I never thought I'd be content being a stay at home mom. This wasn't my dream. But I have found an increasing level of satisfaction just in being where God wants me to be. Besides, I have time to write now, if I can only be diligent enough to get there! L. M. (that being Lucy, not Littles) is inspiring me to greatness, though. Under her tutelage, maybe I'll get out that best seller that's been hiding deep (deep) inside of me.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

May 2nd is a big day in our family. It was originally set to be our wedding date, but we moved the wedding up so that I could go with the Man to training in Texas. In the event that he might deploy in the summer, we wanted half a year of marriage under our belts instead of a mere two months. It turns out he did deploy this summer, and we found out he was going to Afghanistan on, drumroll please, May 2nd. The same day we signed the lease on our apartment and found out...we were having a baby.

So this year we thought we'd commemorate May 2nd by having Littles dedicated. It turned out to be a fortuitous (and somewhat ironic) choice since Aunt C was visiting for the weekend. Ironic because we were staying with Aunt C last year on May 2nd and she was the first person to find out I was pregnant (we were shell shocked; there was no hiding it). Fortuitous because we asked Aunt C to be Little's godmother and it was nice that she was able to make it to the baby dedication since she couldn't make it to our wedding (because we changed the date). Anyway, it was a big day. And then Little's diaper exploded making it an even bigger day.

In an addendum, my nephew also turned half a year old today and decided to celebrate by saying, "Mama!" (and having his own explosive diaper--I think it's a family thing). I'm pretty impressed. The kid has great timing.

All this to say, Long Live the Second of May! What's going to happen next year?