My poor baby!

I’ve whined blogged about it before.

I’m a little disconcerted by the fact that my eldest, my precious baby girl, is growing up so quickly. I mean – HELLO! – she was in diapers the other day! A year from now, however, she will be sorting through her things and packing for her move to college. Probably a college on the East Coast. Yes. We live in Oregon.

No. I’m not handling it well.

Have I mentioned I adore this child?

I fell in love with her the first time I met her. She was just a year old – and she did “monster baby” (it’s a long story) and I couldn’t help but love her.

When Jess was 2 our baby Elizabeth died after being born at 23 weeks gestation, and living only a short 4 minutes – we got to hold her while she breathed her few earthly breaths. I was in the hospital weeping – completely, utterly heartbroken – and in ran Jessica – a ray of purest sunshine – who ran into my arms and exclaimed, “Mommy! I missed you so much! I love you!” I knew then I’d be okay.

When I think about Jess I get emotions that lead me to think thoughts like, “Lord, how can you have blessed me so with such an amazing child? Please Lord! Help us to raise her to be a woman of Godly character!”

She is beautiful.

She is kind.

She is sweet.

She is thoughtful.

She’s loving.

She’s hilarious.

She’s incredibly intelligent.

She’s motivated.

She has great plans for the future.

She’s a wonderful friend.

She’s a little bit ditzy sometimes.

She’s enthusiastic.

She’s gentle.

She leaves a disaster area in her wake!

She’s patient.

She loves the things of God.

She’s way more responsible than I ever thought of being at her age – well, or way past her age!

She’s got a wonderful sense of humor.

And she can get lost going from her bedroom to the bathroom, right next door.

Yes, my girl is seriously directionally challenged.

Jessica’s grandparents live in West Virginia. Occasionally she is given the gift of a trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa. This is one of those years.

I should interject here that Jess HATES (as in vehemently) to fly.

She also hates geese. Because they bite, and hiss, and chase you, and… You’ll have to ask her about geese some day. I’ll stand to the side and smile and laugh. She’s so funny!

She hates bats. Big time. Like a lot. You’ve never really heard her scream until you’ve seen her encounter a bat. Have I mentioned we sometimes get bats in our house? Not pretty.

She hates tacos, too. I think that’s mostly because Jonathan and William would be happiest in life if we served pizza and tacos on alternating nights – like ALWAYS.

And while she hates to fly, she’s had to quite a lot this year. Each time prior to this trip that began this morning, she’s been able to fly with someone.

Have I mentioned she hates to fly?

That she ABHORS flying alone?

That she’s directionally challenged?

And… well… a teensy bit distractible sometimes.

(With the sun coming up behind us as we wait for Jess’s plane to board this morning. Yes, we’re totally toasted. We got about three hours sleep between the two of us!)

So – being the paranoid concerned Mom that I am – I voiced my concerns about Jessica traveling solo to the family member who gifts her with the trips. Grandma echoed those concerns to said family member. Jess was encouraged to buck up and grow up. So we were out voted.

The past four days Jess and I have been talking through potential role play scenarios while traveling solo. We’ve been talking about how to look unapproachable. (You gotta admit – she’s too stinking cute! She needs to work on this one!) We’ve been talking about how and when to call for assistance – and what assistance is appropriate when.

Basically, been doing a big old huge crash refresher course on everything we’ve taught her thus far.

So – I got her on the plane this morning. I waited until it taxied and took off – texting with her until the very last moment – telling her that I love her, will be praying for her, and will miss her. As soon as the plane touched down in Atlanta and she was cleared to use her cell phone she called to tell me she was there. We talked through what she was to do. Contact the airline representative when she deplaned; tell them she’s traveling solo, that she needs to know where she’s to get her connecting flight. She sounded a little calmer when she hung up. I was nervous – she had to change terminals! In Atlanta!

Not too much longer I got a text from her that she had changed terminals successfully. Woo Hoo!

Moments later, she’d found the gate that she’d been directed to (and was printed on her boarding pass). She was told by what time to be back at the gate for boarding – in case she needed to use the facilities, get a snack, etc.

She did GREAT!

In fact, she texted a little while later and said, “You know, I really am feeling a lot better about this flying alone thing!”

HALLELUJAH!

Moments after when her plane was to have departed I answered my phone to my baby crying saying, “Mom, I think I missed my plane!”

OH! MY! WORD!

What happened?  Well, someone, somewhere, decided to change gates on her – and well, changing gates wasn’t something she’d figured could happen – didn’t have the experience to think to investigate.  And so time went by – no one came to the gate she’d been directed to – and she suddenly panicked, realizing that she was in the wrong place.  That’s when she called.

So – I talked her through finding a ticketing agent, telling them the pertinent information, and then getting the info about her flight options. Between sniffles she was able to pull herself together and get her ticket rebooked, attempt to call her Grandparents (who don’t often turn on their cell phone and were already on the road to pick her up), call her Uncle, who in turn called to leave a message for her Grandparents at the airport she’d be landing in in West Virginia.

You know what? She did okay.

She was pretty shaken up, though.

She wasn’t the only one.

So… the moral to today’s story?

I was right! So there! Pffftttt! (Yes, that’s me sticking my tongue out and razzing!)

I guess she is growing up.

Maybe she will be okay moving far, far, far away.

Maybe.

I’m still going to investigate real estate in close proximity to the college she chooses.

And I’m still gonna miss her!

So there!

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“It’s not really Narnia, you know…”

Lucy began, somewhat tearfully, in response to the news from Aslan that she and Edmund would not be returning to Narnia, “…it’s YOU! We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live never meeting you?”

“But you shall meet me, dear one.” Aslan responds.

“Are you there, in our world, too?” Edmund asks, with a tinge of joy in his voice.

“I AM! But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought to Narnia. That by knowing me here a little, you may know me better there!”

I’ve been listening to “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” again this week.

Do you ever have seasons of your life where you feel like you just need to be reminded of the fact that HE is here – in our world? I needed that this week.

What great lengths He’s gone to – to romance me.

To embrace me.

To forgive me – even though there’s simply no good reason to.

To redeem me.

To hide me in the shadow of His wing.

To hide little reminders of His nearness – everywhere I turn – if only I will stop half a second to recognize them.

Just moments before Lucy’s exclamation, this is the exchange had taken place:

“What? Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world, too?”

“There is a way into my country from all worlds!” He exclaims as he reveals Himself – changing from the beautiful spotless Lamb that had served them the best breakfast they’d ever eaten, into the Lion they’ve known and loved.

“Aslan, will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”

“I shall be telling you all the time! But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be, only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the Great Bridge Builder!”

Do you just love that? I do!

While I love Narnia – and have undoubtedly spent far too much time thinking about how amazing it would have been to be one of those lucky Pevensie children in my youth! – I’m so thankful that Narnia is just a shadow of Heaven. That Aslan is just a representation of The Way, The Truth, and the Life. And that I don’t have to rely on magic to pull me into a magical land to know The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

I love that as Aslan sends them back into their own world, at the end of this book, there’s the Lion’s roar, a flurry and brush of the Lion’s golden mane, a mixture of scenes – the land they’re being sent from, into the world they belong in – and the Lion’s kiss on their foreheads. What sweeter benediction could there be?

Remember how – after death works backward in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and Susan and Lucy were in the courtyard of the White Witch’s castle – and Aslan was breathing upon those creatures she’d turned to stone? Do you remember how as they’re reanimated? By the breath of the Lion?

Oh – Breathe on me, Lamb of God! Please! Breathe on me! Keep my heart turned to you!

I guess that’s why I keep listening to The Chronicles of Narnia. How can I not?

Well, it’s official…

…well, at least we think so! We think we know what got our California White the other day! (Read about it here.)

Last evening John and I were sitting out in the yard enjoying the evening, watching the girls free range in the yard. All of a sudden there was a racket – and two of the chicks came flying past us at break-neck speed… being hotly pursued by the three neighbor dogs from two houses down.

We quickly stepped in the way of the dogs – got our dog to heel and stay (she’s such a smart, good, obedient dog!) – and aggressively confronted them and told them to go home, clapping and shouting all the way! We basically got them to back up – barking, snarling, nipping at us all the way – until they finally turned tail and ran home.

One of them looked just like this:

A Pitt Bull!

The second one looked more like this:

A Bull Terrier

The third, maybe a mixture of the two. The Pitt Bull being the most aggressive of the three.

We got back to our own yard, were feeling uneasy, and decided to walk up the driveway a bit to make sure they were staying put in their own yard.

They weren’t.

We used our same prior tactics, but since we were closer to their home turf, backed them up to there. It was then that the new neighbor (whom we had yet to meet) came out. She basically told us that they got out fairly easily. She didn’t seem particularly concerned about it. She did tell us that the Pitt was not her own – but was living with her for the time being, and had been reported to the Humane Society for his aggression.

Great!

I told her we’d had a chicken killed in our yard this week. She said, “Oh.”

I guess what bothers me the most is the fact that they have a beautiful fenced front yard – easily appropriate to keep these three dogs in. Her completely casual attitude about the whole thing didn’t help, either.

She didn’t seem to mind at all, either, that the Pitt continued to act quite aggressively toward me.  I turned around for a moment to stabilize my footing – I was further from home on uneven ground than I should have been without a cane, and in a walking cast – and he came quite close to nipping my calf.

So – she put the dogs away. We walked home. And we started planning.

We’re going to have to fence.

Stink.

We really can’t afford it. But we’re going to have to.

Who wants to fence a rental?! Not us. But – is there any choice left?

No, there’s not.

So – poor girls! They’re going to have to stay in the run until we can get the at least even a temporary fenced area in the yard. Poor John – he has so much on his plate already!


(One of the babies thinking, “What are you talking about Willis?!” at the thought of not free ranging at will!)

But I’m so thankful to have such a wonderful husband – who stays calm. Who reacts appropriately. Who is so smart and within minutes has already got the preliminary engineering going on in his head. What a blessed woman am I!

It’s the Pits!

When I weighed this much:

There was something that I didn’t know. A burden that skinny – or, well, just normal sized – girls must bear, that super, super morbidly obese women – like me – had no clue about! (Or maybe I was the only one…)

When I was heavy, shaving my pits was no big deal. Kinda like a flat surface that took seconds to shave, and voila! All done! Woo Hoo! Granted, shaving legs wasn’t so easy. Ugh!

Now that I weigh this much – that’s me in the middle:

I have a question I’ve got to ask.

HOW THE HECK DO YOU SHAVE YOUR PITS WHEN THEY’RE ACTUALLY – WELL – PITS!?

Even 50 pounds ago – about the weight I was before my revision in November – shaving my pits was… less of an issue. Does 50 pounds make that much difference?

Seriously – it’s dangerous! There are actual serious indentations going on there, and I’m using a VERY sharp blade in a VERY delicate location. I mean, who wants a cut in your arm pit?! OUCH!

So – anyone? Anyone? (Fry… Fry… Sorry – I have flashbacks to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off all of the time.) Is there a method that I’m supposed to know about that I don’t? ‘Cause when you’re a fat girl growing up, there ARE things that you don’t get told. Maybe this is one of those things!

Speaking of the revision, by the way… Guess what?! My BMI is 26 now. I’m only overweight now! I weigh 144 lbs. Wow. Kinda weird. Weirder still? My size 12 shorts are too big.

Go figure.

Carnitas to Die For!

…and it’s Fight Back Friday!!!  Woo Hoo!

We don’t make these nearly as often as we’d like to. We have a kid who was recently officially diagnosed with an allergy to pork! PORK! For heaven’s sake! The parents and one of the kids in our house loves them. The other kid could take them or leave them. The third kid – allergic. Stink.

So – please! Make them and enjoy them for us! They’re so yummy! Pair them up with some fresh pico de gallo, some fresh guacamole, some of the GOOD sour cream. Oh my – I’m salivating!

Okay – here you go!

 Carnitas to Die For

Ingredients
5 pounds Pork loin, boneless (pastured is best!)
1 cup Salsa Verde (I love Herdez)
1 large Onion, diced
4 large Garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Seasoning salt
2 teaspoons Black pepper

 

Preheat oven to 300° F.

  1. Place pork in a 9 x 13″ pan.
  2. Rub garlic into the roast. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and pepper. Now cover with the salsa verde and the onions.
  3. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 4 1/2 hours – or until fork tender.
  4. Remove from the oven. Cool until you can touch the meat comfortably. Remove from the pan and place on a cutting board.
  5. Trim the fat off of the meat, and skim any fat from the pan juices.
  6. Using two forks, shred the pork. When the meat is completely shredded, return it to the pan and mix the pan juices thoroughly into the pork. Return to the oven.
  7. Cook, uncovered, for about an additional 30 minutes, or until the pork is crispy on the top.
  8. Remove from the oven. Stir the pork thoroughly. Return to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes, or until the pork is crispy on the top, and there is almost no liquid left in the pan.

Notes:

Of course, one’s mind goes immediately to slow cooker or crock pot given the length of time this needs to cook.

DO NOT GO THERE.

Honestly, it just doesn’t turn out as well.

The great thing about this recipe? You can use it about a bazillion different ways…

As filling for burritos…

For quesadillas…

For tacos…

For enchiladas…

The possibilities are just waiting for you to think up!

Enjoy!

Not a good sign…

Today I was in and out of the house for various reasons. The girls (big and little alike) rushed to meet me each time – they always expect snacks. How can I deny such enthusiasm?

At about 1pm I went out to get eggs. Everything was hunkey dorey.

John got home at 4pm. He came in from the back and asked, “Was there a chicken showdown today?”

You see, there’s been LOTS of posturing going on the past few days. I’ve wondered if it’s pecking order being worked out, or if it’s roos starting to feel the effect of puberty.

We went outside and he showed me this sight – LOTS of white feathers. No blood – but LOTS of white feathers. There were a few more over further into the front yard. And just a smattering by the back porch – but these ones from a Blue Andalusian.

So who is missing white feathers? Or is someone missing? We did a quick survey and can’t seem to find our big girl white chickens – the California Whites. Oh dear. (Shelley, of course, is still broody and is safely tucked away in the dog kennel sitting on her dozen eggs happily.)

We did a quick head count and found the White Ameraucana – I’m wondering if this one is a girl or a boy! See… (sorry, fuzzy! He/She wasn’t so sure he/she was happy to have a close up picture taken!)

Look at those tail feathers… They’re definitely longer than the average hen’s… Only we’ve only ever had one Ameraucana – Crayon – and she’s definitely an egg layer!

Anyway – found the White Ameraucana. He/She? was fine – missing no feathers.

Found all four of the remaining Delawares. All present and accounted for – no missing feathers, either.

So… that leaves the California Whites. What could have happened? We do have a new neighbor two houses down – with big dogs – that have been seen roaming freely this week. Our neighbor across the street was quite cross with them and their owner yesterday over some destruction they did in her perfectly manicured yard.

When putting the girls to bed tonight and doing a head count, we realized that, indeed, one of California Whites (the no-name one), AND one of the Blue Andalusian baby girls are missing.

STINK!

When did this happen? I was in the house – at the kitchen sink (looking out over the coop and side yard), at the desk (looking out from a different angle over the coop and the side yard), in the laundry room (same view, slightly different angle), my room (looking into the branches of one of the Camellia’s they hang out on during the day often). How did I not hear anything?!

This is not a good outcome thus far! Two of the big girls gone, two of the little girls gone.

Wondering if I should be worried – a lot. Some worry will come perfectly naturally, of course! That’s just paranoid Mom’s way!

It makes me glad we’ve got Shelley setting on those dozen eggs, though! I wonder what the outcomes/odds on successful hatch will be. We’re ten days in on her setting – here’s hoping she takes her job seriously!

I’ll update if we find out anything else. I sure hope it wasn’t those new neighbor’s dogs!

I found it!

We have a dream… We dream to one day own a home of our own. Don’t know if it’ll ever happen. But there are some things that we consider to be essential to a future home.

Those things include:

  • Some elbow room… ideally, we’d like a place with at least an acre. My husband John would likely be happiest with a place with 10 acres or less. He thinks acres = work. (Not that he’s wrong!) I think – the more the merrier! More acres to explore, play in, let chickens be pastured in, have sheep, goats, cows… You know, stuff like that!
  • Some outbuildings… a barn, a chicken coop, a greenhouse? So many wonderful to contemplate options!
  • Some fencing… in our dreams – fenced and cross fenced, at least some!
  • Water – of some sort… a creek, a pond, something like that.
  • Woods… doesn’t every dream place have some woods? Some marketable timber? Places for teenage boys to roam!
  • A house that’s not falling apart. Enough said.
  • A house with enough bedrooms.
  • A house with more than one toilet.
  • A house with decent electrical.
  • A house with decent plumbing.
  • A house with some water pressure.

There are also some things we’d not expect to find in a house, but would like to implement – somehow, someway. They include:

  • Solar energy
  • Maybe wind energy, too!
  • Rainwater collection system

…to name a few. There are so many cool things to be done anymore. Stuff we’d love to implement and have a part of our daily lives!

We are currently very fortunate to rent a place with half an acre – in a town with an urban growth boundary! Seriously – most houses are on micro lots – think R-24 – yes, folks, that’s 24 residential units on ONE acre. I could go on and on about how frightening it becomes and the things it does the average Joe trying to just survive – not to mention the horrifying aesthetics of the whole thing!

And while we’re so thankful for the house that we’re renting, there are some drawbacks. What, you ask, are the drawbacks about our house that we live in right now?

  • While we love old houses, old can be a bad thing – particularly if it’s generally not up to code in – well – every way, shape, and form.
  • The entire house needs to be rewired – the electrical is a fire waiting to happen.
  • The entire house needs to be replumbed.
  • There is virtually NO water pressure – ANYWHERE – on the property.
  • There are original doors, windows, etc. Think circa 1946 – before energy conservation was a twinkle in anyone’s eye.
  • The entire house pretty much lacks insulation.
  • The heating system is original – oil heat (expensive!) – and entire regions of the house don’t get heat in the winter.
  • No fencing. None. Okay – well, technically – a short ornamental fence at the street. (Think completely incapable of keeping anything contained!)

We talked many times about the fact that we’d happily buy the place. (We’d have to have a windfall of some sort first, of course!) What would we do if we did? Invite the fire department over to practice burning down a house! (They do that, you know – it’s good practice for them to know how to control the fire and make sure it’s out.) Then we’d put a new house on the front half of the property, fence the entire place, and do some major yard overhaul. (There’s an apple tree about as old as the hills that seriously needs to go away! The only thing it does well is bean you with the fruit that is wickedly awful tasting and never ripens! Oh, there’s that dead cedar tree, too…)

So – I admit it – I look.

At real estate web sites.

They’re so stinking addictive!

Such a waste of valuable time!

And they lead to discoveries like this!

Isn’t it pretty? 21 acres! In Tennessee! We love Tennessee! (Yes, we do live in Oregon – and yes, Tennessee is far, far away!)

AND – it has this!

A real live tea house! With a working fireplace! Isn’t it adorable?!

What more could one need in life?

Oh – yeah – $1,750,000.00. That would require more than a bit of a windfall, huh?

Plus – imagine all of the housework!

How far would you have to go to find the laundry room?

That’s a lot of lawn to mow… I can just see my husband giving me the raised eyebrow stern but quizzical look – you know, the one that asks, “What do you think I am? Superman?!” (Yes, actually, I do. J)

But I can dream, can’t I?

Two winners!

When there are only two entrants into your potholder giveaway the only logical choice, of course!, is to have two winners!

Nancy wins the already completed pair of red, white, and blue potholders.

Lisa – email me (I gave you the particulars in the comments section with your entry – :)) and tell me what colors you have in your kitchen, and I’ll whip up a pair for you.

Okay folks, now I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board and try to figure out what to giveaway next…  It only took me a year and a half to figure this one out!  Hmmm…  I start making jam and fruit syrup here again pretty soon….  I wonder….

It’s a Giveaway!

It’s a giveaway! Woo Hoo! My very first – so be patient with me, I’m making it up as I go along – and am WAY not as with it as some of the other power bloggers out there who do this all the time. J

Okay – with Independence Day fast approaching – seriously, can you believe how soon it is?! – I thought it would be cool to give something away to pay respect to Old Glory. It’s a loose interpretation, but I’ve got a pair of hand knit pot holders in red white and blue that will fit the bill.

I know – not as exciting as a mixer or food processor – but it’s a little more up our alley financially! LOL!

These pot holders are my VERY favorite to use – I have made my own for quite a few years now, and recently found this pattern – and well, I’ll never make another! You can use any old cotton or heat-friendly fiber to make them, but the type of cotton that I’ve used is something a little special. I’m convinced that’s why they’re so springy and shiny and great to use!

So – here are the rules! If you would like to be entered in the contest to win this giveaway, please leave a comment answering the following question:

What are your plans for
the 4th of July?

I’ll take comments until Midnight on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 (Pacific time zone).

And then I’ll pick one winner – in the most random method possible! Okay?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about suffering?

Our pastor asked a question last week. It was something along the lines of asking us how we handle suffering and whether or not we’d consider writing or emailing to him to give some input on the topic.

It’s sometimes dangerous to ask people those kinds of questions – but, characteristic of the folks that fellowship together at our church – the report this morning was that the responses were a blessing.

In fact, rather than preaching in the traditional manner, our pastor asked a couple to come forward and read some of the responses that were shared. You can listen to the service online, if you’d like – and even get the note sheet! Here’s the link.

It wasn’t a totally random question, by the way. We’ve been doing a series on Romans, and we’ve been in Chapter 8 forever since March.

I should stop right here and preface all of this with a little editorial on the preaching at our church – which I refer to most of the time as CMBC. See, I’ve been going to this church since I was 4 years old. The pastor who was there when I was just a little tyke – up until I was college aged – was the Reverend Albert J. Wollen – wow! What a man of God! His wife, Roberta, had perhaps the most profound impact on me as a young believer of anyone I’ve ever met. I could go on and on about her – and undoubtedly will at some future point in time! But what I want to say right now is this: our pastor, Carl Palmer, has a gift. He – much like Al – has a passion and a deep love for the Word of God. Know what I love? I love it when the pastor up front says, “Let’s turn to Romans chapter 8, and verse 17.” And you hear the wind of 1,000 Bibles being turned to that reference. THAT, my friend, is a holy thing. Anyway, Carl has this gift – and his gift, IMHO, is to teach clearly, concisely, carefully through scripture. And THAT, my friend, is a GIFT from God – for those of us who sit in the pews.

So anyway…. Ever have one of those moments when God’s giving you a little nudge? You know, the one gently in the ribs where you know He’s saying, “…ahem… yeah, that’s you. You need to do that.” Well, yeah, I got THE NUDGE last week when Carl asked. Life got busy at our house this week. I had my niece and nephew here for the week. We had lunch guests several days of the week. Jessica was home from camp for the week. William came down with THE WORST ear infection in the world – and is still suffering horribly with it. I had physical therapy. I had William in the doctor’s office twice. I was doing dishes, laundry, chasing chickens, running errands, cooking meals…

OKAY LORD, I’ll do it.

Funny how sweet peace is when you obey.

So this is what I wrote…..

The thing is – I don’t know that I can give a whole lot of insight into what could be called “answers” about suffering.

I’m not sure what I’ve been through is even classified suffering.

What I do know is that I do ponder the heartaches, the pain, the dismay, the fact that some of what I’ve been through is NOTHING compared to what others have.

I think about the constancy of God.

I think about the fact that without Him I certainly could not have the strength to draw the next breath when the horrible to contemplate sometimes is overwhelming.

What I do know for sure is that I wouldn’t willingly choose a heck of a lot of the stuff that has the potential to be called suffering.

But God…

…is trustworthy

…never far

…the only one who knows exactly all of the details and doesn’t need me to explain it all – but is willing to listen anyway

…brings encouragement in the funniest, most obscure, but sometimes blaringly obvious ways.

I know I feel honored to be counted worthy to suffer – *anything* – for the name of He who knit me together, holds it all together, sees the outcome – and with whom I will spend my eternity – worshipping at His feet.

My question to you, dear reader is this: What about suffering? How do you handle it? Is God friend or foe in the midst of your suffering? Is there a Bible verse that anchors you?