Sunday, May 22, 2011

oohey gooey goodness

This is not exactly the first food post you would expect from a dietitian, but like I said in the intro - some recipes will be good for you, and others, well, will be just plain gooey good!!

is one of the latter :)

and it's made in this...

Yup... that's right...


Upon chocolate...

upon chocolate.

Which, when simmered all together for a few hours... 
turns into this

The best chocolate molten lava lusciousness that you will ever swath your taste buds in :)

Here's the recipe (from a great friend, Melanie!  Thanks, Mel... I both praise and curse your name every time I indulge in this ;)

1 3/4 cups brown sugar, divided
1 cup flour
6 T cocoa, divided
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup milk
2 T butter, melted
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate for this... because I am a milk chocolate lover... oh and I just pour the whole bag in!)
1 3/4 cups boiling water
Combine 1 cup brown sugar, flour, 2 T cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add milk, butter and vanilla.  Spread into 3 quart slow cooker coated in cooking spray.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips.  In another bowl combine remaining brown sugar and cocoa; stir in boiling water. Pour over batter (DO NOT STIR).  Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2-3 hours. Check with toothpick, serve with ice cream.  Serves 8 (If you can stand to split it that many ways!).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's alive!!!

When talents were handed out in Heaven, there were several lines that I skipped.
Gardening was one of those.

As far as green thumbs are considered,
Mine is a varying shade of black.
I'm not kidding.

Take, Hostas, for example...

a few years ago, I had a friend dividing her hostas, and offered to share.  
I mean, seriously, they are the one plant that you can't kill, right??
Well... I killed it.
Which, now that I look at it, is a type of talent.  When it's touted as the one plant that is un-killable... then being able to actually kill it is some sort of (sordid) talent, right??

Fast forward 2 years, one slightly productive, and one miserably failed garden attempt,
and we move into a new house...
which is surrounded by...
The unkillable plant that I can't seem to save.
The owner had said she wanted landscaping that was hardy and low-maintanance.
She didn't count on 'ole black thumb buying her beautifully surrounded by hostas-house.

We went through season one, and they actually came up... and lived!
(Thanks only to the fact that we also inherited an automatic sprinkler system from them)

Open season two...
And while the rest of the world's hostas are starting to come alive and bring forth their green pointy starts,
Mine were still, well...
To add insult to injury, at a meeting, one of the women was talking about how she was going to need to divide her hostas the next day.
Good grief!  You mean some are so robust that they need to divide this soon?!  She kindly offered to share some of her off-shoots with me to re-start my crop.
Sure, that's just what I need, more of a plant to which my black thumb is toxic!

The next day, I went out to admit defeat, and pull my dead hostas from the ground.
As I wrapped around and pulled, 
To my complete surprise... underneath all of the dull deadness...
I found:

My very own, fresh crop of Hostas!
I'm not a murderer after all!
(and have since learned that 'everyone knows' that you are supposed to clear away the dead stuff every I said... skipped that talent line in heaven!)

I was going to wait for my kids to have them help and learn a little gardening, but I was just so excited pulling off dead to reveal a fresh green start, that I did them all (except for one) right then.

As I did it, I kept thinking about how much like life that is...
Maybe what we think is a worthless and dead part of us
Is just a piece that is patiently waiting for us to clear away the gunk
and reveal a fresh new start.

I love spring!

... so what inside of you is waiting to sprout??

How do you do it all??...

... is a question I have been asked lately when conversation turns to the book coming out. 

And the real, honest, gut wrenching answer is:  I don't.

This post is simply just to keep it real.  As things have been coming to a head with the books and seminars, I have felt more and more like a chicken with my head cut off... running around in a zillion different directions, trying desperately to catch the (too) many things that I find slipping through my fingers (like missing 2 out of the 4 soccer sessions that we signed my 6 year old up for months ago, and I told myself after missing the first week that we HAD to get him to the 2nd week for sure... and then didn't think about it again until the morning after the 2nd session...).

Or yesterday getting a call from 3 year olds preschool teacher... informing me that Joshy had bitten another child... and this was the third such phone call I had received from her within the past 2 weeks.  And then in trying to do a pow wow session on the phone of what we could do to stop this, she said she would send home some articles for me to read about ways to get over the biting... like giving more attention to the child...

... She said some other things too, but I didn't get past that first part. 
It hit me
and hit me hard. 
In my rush to get these "outside" projects done,
I have been neglecting my "inside" projects. 
My most important projects: 
my own children.

I have been trying so hard to get these books done that, more often than I care to admit, I have been more of a 'body' in the home, making sure the children stayed alive throughout the day.  But (as humiliating as this is to admit), not really doing a whole lot more.  Except feeling guilty for it.

Oh yes, that's one thing that I have excelled at through everything.
The guilt.
Guilt for not meeting a deadline on the book,
Or for not preparing enough for the seminars.
And then guilt for not sitting on the floor for 3 hours playing candyland with my kids.
Or for not taking them on nature walks to pick variations of wild flowers and then come back, press and preserve the flowers for their own personal scrapbooks.
Yep, Guilt is one thing I can do.

So, no, I don't do it all.

... And I don't think anyone can.
In our quest to be the perfect mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter, homemaker, book writer, stick figure drawer, etc etc etc (the list could be endless!)...

We can't do it all.

And shouldn't do it all.

I think the trick is finding what we can do

And letting go of the rest.

So, perhaps the question we should be asking each other is: 
How do you not do it all?
In other words... how do you prioritize and pick what you will do?
Or more importantly, how do you pick and choose what you will let go...
without holding on to the guilt of letting it go??

Just keeping it real :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How's your fuel gauge??

Recently, I had the honor and privilege of singlehandedly rendering a show-stopping performance... er rather a car-stopping experience...

It was a Wednesday.
Which for me this school year should have been renamed to wild and wacky Wednesday.
Without putting you through the torture of a backstory... just know that when I wake up on Wednesday's, I take a deep breath and hope I can survive the day.  It is one big run around shuffling kids, trying to beat the clock marathon from beginning to end.

On this particular Wednesday, on leg one of the taxi drops, I noticed the fuel gauge getting a little low.
"It will last"  I told myself
"I don't have time to get gas today!"
"I'll just do this, then this, then this, and then I'll get gas on my way home"

Fast forward to one of the most crucial points in the day (picking up preschooler, trying to hit light speed to make it to older kids school to scoop them up, then traverse the city to get to gymnastics and cellos lessons in record time).
I had just picked up preschooler... I'm exiting freeway to get 2nd load of kids.

At the top of the hill... feel the stomach dropping chug chug luurrch, sputter, stop  of the car
It happened.
I ran out of gas.
Right on the off ramp.
In the middle of the left turn lane.
With traffic backing up behind me by the millisecond.

I flip on the hazards and weigh my options.
Digging a pit and sticking my head in was option #1.  No dirt in sight.
Option #2, hauling out the 3 kids (2 of which were sleeping, and the 3rd had just spiked a fever), leaving car, trying to get across crazy-exiting freeway traffic to nearby gas station to get gas.
Option #3, text hubby in all caps about hating the car (which has now left me stranded 4 times in 4 weeks.  And no, I didn't run out of gas for the others!).

After option #3, and starting Option #2, two angels disguised in a white minivan pulled up beside me and asked if I needed help.  To which I threw all sense of composure to the wind, let them in on my stupidity, and begged them to bring me a gas can (promising copious amounts of money upon their return!).

10 minutes (and a lot of car honks, and ever-growing line of traffic now piling up onto the freeway) later, man walks up to car with precious gas can filled with that precious liquid.

Cue heavenly angels... we now had gas in the car!!

Then cue scratching record player... battery now dead.  (who knew it took so much battery power to run hazard lights!)

Mortified, I profusely thank the man, try to pay him (he utterly refused... there still are genuinely gracious and helpful people in this world!!), and send him on his way, as I call the mechanic...

which was on my 'recent calls list'...
since they had just come out 4 days before to save me when I was stranded with a dead battery at soccer game...

the mechanic, sensing the desperation in my voice, immediately dispatched tow truck to the rescue.  
show up, try to charge battery, still nothing.
get car towed into garage (and one the way saying, hey, aren't you the lady with the possessed van from before??)  yep, that would be me.

Pull up to...
the gas pump. (I may as well have had a neon sign flashing above my head stating:  LADIES and GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO THE LATEST EPISODE OF IDIOT EXPRESS: WHAT NOT TO DO!).

Finally filled car with gas (which would have pre-emped the entire above circus if I had only done that the night before!)
Jumped car again.  Performed voodoo magic (finding 'secret button' to push to disengage the crazy anti-theft system... which no longer worked... just got tripped at random intervals, rendering car completely useless).

Sweet sound of roaring (well, sputtering and gurgling) engine.

Sped off to finally recoup kids (who had now been waiting 40 minutes after school for me).  

Missed gymnastics
Missed cello
Missed sanity

All because I didn't 'have' time to re-fuel when the gauge was getting low.

As I fell into bed that night, thinking that I didn't 'have' time to read the scriptures yet that day, I recalled the activities (and relived the mortifying experience) of the day, and started to realize how closely my spiritual and emotional tank is so much like my gas tank in the car.

How many times do I speed around my life, feeling something get low inside of me.
But I push it aside, telling myself I'm too busy to fill up my inner self.
"I'll do this, and then this, and then this, and then I'll have time to fill up inside."

Until, suddenly, 
In the busiest and sometimes most crucial point in my mommy-ing life.
I chug chug luurrch, sputter, and finally come to a stop.
Rendering myself completely useless to everyone else outside of me.
Because I didn't have time to fill the person inside of me.

Lesson Learned.
But learned.

(... and incidentally, on this tuesday afternoon, I am happy to report that I am fresh from the gas station.  Fuel on full, car battery replaced, and ready to take on another wacky wednesday!!)

... How's your inner fuel gauge??

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I stand all amazed...

at the job of single moms.
Because, let's face it, 
kids don't 'get' Mother's Day,
Anymore than they 'get' 'mommy is sick' days.

When it comes right down to it, 
the (adequate) celebration of Mothers Day (read:  dinners magically prepared, dishes washed and put away, poopy diapers changed all day long),
It falls squarely on the shoulders of dad.

And today, as I was laying in bed
listening to the sounds of spring outside my window
that harmonized perfectly with the clinking and clanking in the kitchen
As my hubby directed the breakfast-making kids, 

I was suddenly hit by the fact that there are (way too many) homes 
where there is a dom...
a mom... 
who also plays dad...
and carries the stress load of twice the legal limit
and somehow still puts a smile on her face as she greets her sweet kiddos
and gets up on Mother's Day to cook her own meals.
And forges through the day in and day out of caring for her most treasured possessions.
and waits until they are all softly asleep 
before letting her tears fall
and her fears show.
And then gets up the next day
to go through it all again.
Knowing that her pain and her stress and her struggles 
Will someday work out.
And these children she is rearing 
Will rise up and thank her
For going through the trenches
to feed them, and clothe them, and most importantly 
to love them and teach them.
And do it singlehandedly, the absolute best that she knows how.
And relies on God to give her the strength to do it when she doesn't know how.

She is a true hero to me, wherever she is.

My mother in law is one such amazing woman.

She raised my husband.
And his brother 
and his sister.

And did an amazingly wonderful job.

Thank you, Sue.
For raising my husband, best friend, and father of my children.
Thank you for bringing him into the world.
And raising him in your world.
So that he could become my world.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Just Right

 I am sitting at the park, watching my 3 youngest kids play.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
We've done this countless times.
And yet...
Something is different.
The birds harmony sounds just right.
The sun feels not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
The breeze is not too fast, not too slow, but just right.
And watching the kids unabashed joy at their first post-winter-hybernation outing feels...

And once again, I am reminded
that I love my Job.
I love the fact that we can drive by a park,
and decide to stop on the spur of the moment.
No preplanned play date
No coats packed
No snacks
No water
No Sunscreen (shhh, don't tell my dear derm hubby!)
No spare diapers.
Just a mom, and her kids.
Soaking in the moment.

Don't get me wrong... you won't see "Family Fun" magazine showing up to take a cover shot of my backwards shirt-wearing, snot dribbling son.

And I don't care.

Just sitting here, watching them, I am trying to etch into my brain
the giggles
the squeals
the happiness

Of unscheduled
Mommyhood moments.

That make some of the more mundane moments of muck a bit more manageable.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The heir or the spare...

Wow - I have got to stop following the Royal frenzy.

It's been great to get caught up in the 'modern day' cinderella story, and fun to see the Royal family pull out all of the stops to celebrate the marriage of the prince.  But one thing really caught me up short and has been nagging at me ever since...

As the couple was riding off 'into the sunset' (or, rather,  helecoptering off into the morning),
the newscasters were commenting on the fact that once they returned from their little weekend getaway, Kate... er... Princess Katherine... would then be expected to step into her role in the royal family...

which was first and foremost

to provide the 'kingdom' with an 'heir' and a 'spare'

What??!  Did I hear that right?  They actually said that out loud?

For some reason, the word 'spare' really rubbed me wrong.

I mean, how would you like to live your whole life knowing that your entire existence... the reason you were brought to the earth... was to be a 'spare' part for the royal family.

Give you whatever titles they want (seriously, where do they come up with the titles anyway?  Duke and Duchess of what, exactly??  Is there even a rhyme or reason to the name giving??)... Poor prince Harry knows that his whole purpose, according to the 'higher ups' ... is to be the 'understudy'... the 'first runner up'  if you will, to "in the event of the inability of the real heir to perform his or her duties as the real prize winner, then you get to step in and take their place.

But if not, well, then let's see... ummm... you can maybe be an earl of something??

... and then it got me starting thinking in the whole eternal realm of existing...

And I suddenly became grateful that we are not sent here to be 'spares'

And our children are not sent to us to teach them how to be 'spares'

Every single one of our children has the potential to be a fully functioning, 100% pure heir to the kingdom of God.

That thought did two things to me:

I gave me an immense sense of gratitude for a Father in Heaven who's love knows no spares.

... and an overwhelming sense of urgency to dig in a little deeper and try a little harder

to teach my children the real value of their worth.

To teach them that they were not sent here to train for a 'just in case' position.

They are here to learn how to really and truly become full fledged heirs to the most Royal of all Kingdoms.

And that makes all the difference.