Saturday, January 29, 2011

Her name is Caroline. When she left I...

Her name is Caroline.
And get this, when she walked through our doorway, I simply said, "Hi. I'm Tina. I'm not sure I ever knew your name." 
When they left a couple hours later, not having overstayed their welcome in the least, I turned to Dan & admitted, "I'm glad you did that."
Turns out it was easy & enjoyable to have these complete strangers in our house without a planned end nor a plan for in between, for that matter.
We had a good time. They did too.

I thanked my overly-friendly husband for going beyond the universal & safe "we should get together sometime" and setting an exact date & time to entertain strangers.
I guess I can add this to the list of reasons I'm glad he was raised by his one-of-a-kind mom, whose door is always open to strangers, even the strange ones.

*PS: This post will have made NO sense to you if you didn't read this one. Pin It

Friday, January 28, 2011

strangers. for real. we don't even know her name.

Scratch that. I have something. Another confession, actually. And embarrassingly. I thought of writing it before but,   
share yet another flaw? No. I couldn't. Who wants to hear it anyway?
Well, here it goes.

Friday night is big around here. Big.
It's almost Christmas Eve big.
Because the next morning Daddy stays home. And we're a party of 4 all day for 2 whole days.
If I'm not careful weekdays become just a means to yet another weekend.

Weekdays are oatmeal and home-brewed coffee.
Weekends are blueberry pancakes with orange maple butter & real syrup.
Weekdays are turkey dog lunches & taco dinners at home.
Weekends are ChickfilA & dinner at Carrabbas.

Weekdays are the park & the gym. Weekends are roadtrips to DC.
You get it.
And Friday night is the kick-off! Lots of Friday nights are family movie nights. A trip to the RedBox for the lastest release, kids pop the popcorn & we spread out our comforters & pillows on the floor. Kids stay up past 8 & get to eat in the living room.
It's stay-up-late-after-the-kids-go-to-bed-even-though-they'll-be-up by 7am night because tomorrow is the WEEKEND!!!

Only mutually agreed on plans get scheduled & usually they only up the fun & excitement.
Imagine my surprise on Tuesday when Dan invited COMPLETE STRANGERS over on yes, FRIDAY night 
(these folks are for real strangers. couldn't pick them out at a mall if they walked by. we've said hi as they pass our driveway walking their dogs & sometimes our kids go bounding down to pet them so we say something generic about the weather or safe like, "our kids love dogs" & "stay warm")

It started when Dan said, 'we should get together sometime'. I started walking back up to the house with the kids & heard "We're not doing anything this weekend. You guys could come over Friday night, if you're free" And it's a DARN GOOD THING I WAS FACING THE OTHER WAY cause who knows what my facial expression would have said.
I immediately started thinking of why we couldn't stay committed to that idea. No reason.
And here we are. It's Friday. Still no reason to cancel. Last night he confirmed it & they're coming over at 8.
I keep thinking about all the scriptures telling me to be hospitable to strangers.
I keep imagining that though they don't look the least bit needy & certainly aren't poor, there may be something we can offer that Christ wants us to.
I've got to be honest. This feels a whole heck of a lot more like submitting to my overly-friendly husband than obeying God.
Nevertheless, we are just 3 hours short of welcoming these strangers (neither of us even know the gal's name!) into our home.
Here's hoping he says her name before it becomes obvious we don't have a clue. Oh, and that they aren't dangerous or over-stayers.

photo: bakerella. this is frame-worthy. isn't it? & it tastes that good too.
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just a plain old week

I can hardly believe a week has already past since my last post.
And let me say, confession is quite liberating. The cloud of cannots has lifted. The cannots of course remain, but they're not raining on my parade like they were. Thank you for the kind, encouraging comments & emails, btw. 

Just a plain old week this week. Hence no posts.
We went to IKEA over the weekend & snagged a few fun things. The best of which was the inspiration to get to work setting up the office after 2 months of neglect. Had breakfast at the new diner we've found in our new town.

Still on the lookout for bunk beds, which we'll need to settle on before the baby arrives in June.
These are PERFECT! But the price is not. Maybe they'll have a half off sale between now & then!

This brownie mix was rated #1 on the shelf and we gave it a try. Yep. Delicious. Just a dollar. No reason to make-from-scratch. They even beat out Barefoot Contessa's $10 box.

This little girl is giving. me. a. run. for. my. money. (if that means she's driving me bananas one second, melting my heart the next & back to shenanigans before i can text my husband about the sweet thing she just did.)

see. just a plain old week. here's to hoping next week comes with more amusement for the posting. Pin It

Friday, January 21, 2011

A case of the cannots

I cannot keep my floors free of kid debris
I cannot get motivated to potty train my ambitious 2 y/o, when I recall how much easier it was closer to 3
I cannot believe I left un-washable art supplies in a reachable spot
I cannot get enough Say Yes to the Dress
I cannot understand why God created such inequality in a man & woman's libido (did you see this episode of Modern Family? LOL!)
I cannot sleep enough...sometimes 8, 9, 10 hours and still I want more
I cannot wait to hang with family for Carter's birthday
I cannot picture going out on errands with 3 kids
I cannot fit into so many of my clothes, & gave away all of my maternity wardrobe last year
I cannot be a {cheerful, energetic} morning person, as much as it would mean to my deserving husband
I cannot wear these pathetic pjs another season; it's shameful!
I cannot find a foundation I love. Wish MAC Studio Fix worked like it used to.
I cannot eat too much bread or Franks Hot Sauce.Oooh..I wonder if they'd be good together?
I cannot go another year without a visit with Gretty.
I cannot imagine life without the internet, my laptop, & iPhone.
I cannot alternate the same 9 meals for the rest of my life (loving this gal's simple recipes & food photos)
I cannot tell you what a difference in my SAHM life, having a gym membership makes
I cannot keep saying "not now" or "maybe later" because I'd rather wash dishes, fold laundry, read blogs, pay bills than play with Tinkertoys or Elefun with them.

I think it's the last one that haunts me most. That and the other "I should be a better wife;  a more creative & playful mom" ones. Ever just feel like you're walking in a cloud of your cannots? I want to live up to my own expectations. Pin It

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chicken w/mushrooms, artichokes & tomatoes. A hit all the way around the table.

I recently made this EVERYDAY FOOD recipe, with a few adjustments & it was a hit all the way around the table. With just a few ingredients, it took little to no prep & was ready in no time. When the kids asked for leftovers for lunch the next day, I figured I should share.
The original recipe looked bland, but with minor additions it was delish!

You'll need:
4 chicken breasts (I only use organic, antibiotic & hormone free. Its worth the extra $)
1lb mushrooms (I used pre-sliced portobellos, but quartered white is in original recipe)
handful of chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
quartered, marinated artichoke hearts
28 oz can tomatoes (I used whole & smashed them a bit. You could use crushed, the original recipe calls for stewed.)
2 t oregano
couple glugs of red wine
  1. Season chicken breasts with S&P. In a lg saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; swirl to coat bottom of pan. Cook chicken, turning when it easily releases from the pan, until golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Add mushrooms & onions; cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, artichokes & oregano. Add a couple glugs of red wine (I used Cabernet cause we had it) Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until tomatoes have broken down, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan (I cut the breasts in 3 pcs each); cover, and cook until chicken is opaque throughout, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn chicken to coat with sauce, and serve.  
I served this with garlic toast I made by slicing this bread, spreading with butter, sprinkling with garlic powder & parmesean then broiling til toasty.
Hope your family eats it up like mine did.

If I hadn't broken up with cheese this year, I'd have done this one for sure. Cheesy pasta w/chicken & sundried tomatoes, uh..YES, PLEASE!
My friend made this & my husband really liked it. I'm not sure I could do it & still feel Italian. Like it's too Americanized or something. But she's polish now, so we'll just eat it at her house. :)
All of these are under Quick Italian recipes. Pin It

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

playing with our food

Carter got this silly straw for Christmas from my sister-in-law (how did she know straws are a big deal around our house, she's never been here?).
So. Much. Fun! Especially with milk.
We're all about making every day things exciting around here and this fits the bill.
Found it here for less than $5.  I'll bet you can find it around town though. I'd never seen it before.
I've found my go-to kids gift.
These are a big hit too. Making fun out of every day things. Doesn't get more fun at breakfast than Yoda pancakes & sipping milk through a Silly Straw!
He got the kid-sized Star Wars apron too. Fitting for a kid like Carter that loves to cook with mom & dad. Pin It

Friday, January 7, 2011

could be why i'm fighting the tantrum urge these days

Just last night Dan & I were talking about the vision we have for our family. It's amazing really that we simultaneously, independently started feeling like the self-serving American dream life we've ended up living is unsatisfying.
Moving to a city where we know nobody, spending months of time alone has a way of weeding things out of your life that you hadn't realized you'd adopted or never would have if it hadn't been for this or that influence. It seems we're left with what we truly value. Which isn't stuff or space. We've discovered what really brings us joy.
1. Being surrounded by our family & close friends that are more like family.
2. Using our skills & resources to meet people's needs.

What we've discovered is indeed, people shape our lives. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
Which brought us to talking about the importance of the company we keep.
I fell asleep thinking about this very thing. Mentally running through a yearbook-of-sorts filled with profile pictures of the people that have shaped my life. It's no surprise that I woke up missing my good friends. When Dan suggested we take a drive this weekend, the first person that came to my mind is one of my college pals that lives a reasonable road trip away & happens to have the kind of family that enjoys good conversation over good food ( #3 & #4 on the list above).
Then, heading to the gym this morning I caught Chip Ingram's Pursue Great People segment on Sirius radio. This is what I heard:

"Spend time with the wise and you will become wise, 
but the friends of fools will suffer."
Proverbs 13:20

"Do not be misled, 'bad company corrupts good character'."
I Cor 15:33

I got the message.
Pursue great people. (listen here. the whole series is great.)
Just as importantly, guard yourself from companions you don't wish you emulate.
Humans naturally imitate those around them.

I wonder if that's why I hold back the urge to throw a 2 y/o tantrum when milk spills on the ground or the room I just cleaned is a disaster. 
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Do you take it down just as ceremoniously as you put it up?

I had a post all set for earlier this week about how uninspired I was to take down Christmas decorations, trying to make those of you who shared in my laziness feel better.

Ironically, this was the first year the decor had gone from looking lovely to cluttered. My typical feeling is as long as its cold outside & not yet Valentines Day, the holiday decor can stay. After our first Christmas, the tree was still up in Feb. Wild! I know. And not what you'd assume from my personality.

Anyway, in writing the post, including reasons it was perfectly permissible to keep your mantle aglow, I got inspired! Before I had chosen a good photo to add to the post, I had already taken Christmas down & packed it away. 

I have to say, it didn't take nearly as long as I dreaded. (I honestly contemplated throwing all of the ornaments & more in the trash a bag for Goodwill. This could give me the perfect reason to buy new stuff next year, instead of having to resist like I have in years past.)

And it is nice to discover how this rental home looks in its regular clothes. Still cozy & more clean. Thanks to the built-ins in the playroom & the major donating we did before our move, all the new toys have a home. Ahhhhh....
What's your "this stuff has got to go" date? 
Do you take it down just as ceremoniously as you put it up; 
say every year on Jan 1st? 
Do you have to buy new totes to store 
the new decor you're lured into buying that season? 
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Monday, January 3, 2011

wondering if i'll ever be this obedient

When we found out Dan wouldn't have time off for Christmas, we invited our families to come to our new house in VA.  I figured we'd get such a big response since we're finally just a short car ride from "home" after 5 years across the country.
I was excited that we had the space & air beds enough for them all to be comfortable.
It turned out my mother & father-in-law were the only ones to come.

I'm not going to lie, I was thrilled that my kids would get to share Christmas morning with Nana & Grandpa. And the two of them are just so easy to please, so it was wonderful news. But it took me some time to adjust my idea of big family Christmas to just thankful we'd have some family to share it with this year.

God knows what He's doing when He doesn't give me what I want. Ever feel that way in hindsight?
I have so many testimonies to prove even my best plans & wild imagination can be out done by God.

You see, my in-laws are examples of nothing if not risky obedience to the voice of God.
She has given me a picture of what John the Baptist and the OT prophets must have seemed like to the people around them. She loves the otherwise unnoticed or ignored, extends grace to those that are coming around for their 300th helping. It's almost like they don't realize how different the beat they are marching to and don't mind that it doesn't fit into the time table the rest of us are following.
It was just this kind of house guests Dan & I needed in this time when God is challenging us to live out our faith in a more radical way.
As I'm seeking God for ways to share His love more boldly in my daily life that is mostly saturated by childcare, housekeeping, and Target, I keep thinking of this story I heard years ago (below).
Wondering if I'd ever, ever, ever be so obedient. 
Pretty sure that if I'm not willing, He'll use someone else.

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it...
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
Heb 13: 2,15&16
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

I love Romans 15:13! That's my prayer for you friends. That's my prayer for me & my family.

I am committing to more risky obedience this year. Just a few months ago I heard the voice of God & moved forward with everything I had to contribute to the cause.
We felt our time in TX was over & we'd be moving to VA. No jobs in VA seemed fitting, but he resigned from his job in TX & we put a FOR SALE BY OWNER sign on the front lawn of the only home our kids had ever known. Houses (listed by realtors) were not selling, but ours sold BY OWNER in less than 3 weeks & the offer came just as we walked into dinner with the VP of the company in VA that Dan is now working for. Only God!
We had NO CERTAINTY but that we'd heard His voice.
We obeyed.
And I am ready for more.

I am thinking of the ordinary people in the Bible that did extraordinary things by the power of the Holy Spirit & asking God to make my life SO MUCH less ordinary for His cause. (Heb 11:1-39)

I've struggled in recent years, trying to fit into the far-too-normal life I live; feeling like something just didn't fit quite right. 
 I'm realizing it wasn't meant to.  
God didn't help me become settled in the ordinary because He's called me to something much more radical. (Rom 12:1-21, for example)

I'm praying for the revelation of just how radical my life can be as a stay-at-home mom of 2, and another on the way. It's not a "wait & be radical later" calling, that I know.
Be glorified through me, Lord!
I'm hoping for a year of hope & joy so contagious, so marvelous, it's obvious that it's not of myself. (not sure "of myself" is the right term, but I'm just passing by detailgalblog today to share my heart with you. so that'll have to do. you get my drift? right?)

PS: Since radical faith is spurred by radical Truth, I'm doing this again this year.
One improvement to my approach this year: I've already filled my little spiral-bound index card book with 24 scriptures (well, I've finished through Sept).
This cuts out the "oh, man it's the 15th already & I need to choose a verse. and it has to be worth memorizing" obstacle.
For example: May-July scriptures focus on peace, joy, "work now, reap later" themed verses since that's when we'll be adding #3 & I presume I'll need such encouragement.
Want to join me? Well me & the thousands who've joined Beth. Pin It
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