30 November 2009

A Thousand



"I wo
uld maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ~Chesterton

Continuing with the list, hoping to become quicker in my grateful response to the Giver of all good gifts. Our list is growing more slowly than I would like...a few more moments a day are needed to reflect on and record the many, many blessings!

#0177 - 0204

0177
school and friends

0178
food

0179
sugar

0180
the smell of pumpkin rolls

0181
football

0182
that we are all healthy

0183
Walter's 6th grade class

0184
marshmallows

0185
our neighbors


0186
different families, different traditions

0187
my friend, Gretchen

0188
happiness

0189
Clayton


0190
Theo


0191
Walter


0192
Lucy


0193
John

0194
freshly-washed jeans

0195
Uncle Clay's visits

0196
apples and peanut butter

0197
Longhorn football

0198
rainy day at home


0199
electronics

0200
Kit/Mom (I promise I didn't write this!)

0201
boys cleaning out the car

0202
a cleaned out car

0203
a car

0204
more pumpkin rolls - already gone!

Think about keeping your own list; it will change you and those with whom you share it. To read more lists, go to A Holy Experience.

27 November 2009

Thanksgiving Post Script

We had a fantastic day of celebration and thanksgiving yesterday at our house.



There were 17 of us around two tables: six children and eleven adults.


My brother came up from New York City and stayed for the night. Always so fun to see Uncle Clay!

I was up til 2 am the night before getting ready. And I was up til 1 am last night cleaning up (and taking breaks to watch the Texas/A&M game!!). While it is tiring, I honestly love doing all of it. I truly find it satisfying to create a meaningful holiday for my family and for those who come to our house.

This morning, John kept the crew quiet and let me sleep in til 11:30 am!!! What a great husband.


Happy Thanksgiving weekend! May it be quiet and full of rest.

25 November 2009

Sweet Patooties

I made up a recipe today! I never do this, I'm NOT a creative cook at all.

But I remembered a sweet potato dish I had many years ago with John's family down at the hunting lease (what is a hunting lease, you ask? ask someone from Texas) in Pearsall, TX. It was sweet and spicy at the same time, but my mother-in-law has no recollection of this dish. So someone else must have made it.

Ever since then, I've wanted to recreate it, and this is the year! It's not exactly as I remember it, but then, MANY of my brain cells have probably died and gone to heaven since then.

I cooked up a huge pot of sweet potatoes and mashed them up.
Added about 3/4 stick of butter, a good amount of maple syrup, the juice from a jar of green chilies, a bit of salt, some nutmeg and a few shakes of cayenne pepper. Oh, and a few generous spoonfuls of sour cream. Then tasted and adjusted for a while.

I think it turned out pretty well! John says the only thing that will make it better would be to put a layer of marshmallows on it, but I say you can only have so many marshmallow dishes in one meal!!

AND, I'm pretty sure the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims did NOT have marshmallows down there in Plymouth, lo many years ago!

Thanksgiving Food Update #2

I'm reporting from the kitchen here at 123 Sesame Street...

Just kidding, that's Ernie and Bert's address! I'm at MY house.

Anyway, the pumpkin rolls are out of the oven and several have been devoured. I wish I could communicate smell on the blog, because the aroma of just-baked pumpkin rolls is AMAZING!

The pastry is chilling in the fridge, the children have eaten. Walter ironed a nice stack of 17 napkins for me!

I'm going to clean up the kitchen and run to Trader Joe's for flowers and candles. When I return, Lucy will take a nap and I think I'll have the boys work on the pies with me and maybe also some more silver polishing.

Fun, fun! Pictures to come on my next update!

Thanksgiving Food Update

The Thanksgiving food preparation in our house began last night. I made the traditional cranberries in wine and began polishing the silver.

This morning I ran to the grocery store before 7 am for the last minute items. I've completed TWO jello "salads" (Are you from the South? Then you know about these. These are in honor of my husband's Texan heritage), a green and an orange. The pumpkin rolls are on their second rise. I'm about to make the pie pastry so that it has time to chill and then I'll probably need to take a break to feed the hordes their lunch.

Walter is about to do some ironing of the linen napkins for me.

The difficulty I run into with all this holiday cooking is that I lose steam for making the regular meals that people still need to eat. What should we have? Cereal? Bread crusts? I wish I were more organized.

More to come as things develop.

23 November 2009

What I'm Thankful For


The list of 1000 blessing continues this Monday, our little Lucy's birthday and the week of Thanksgiving.

I'm grateful for the memory of the day of her birth. It was the day before Thanksgiving that year and that labor was hard. I thought the fourth labor would be the easiest, and boy, was I wrong! It took everything I could give to get her out and I'm so grateful that she's here! We just can't imagine our lives without this breath of gaiety, whimsy and yes, drama!

Here is Lucy snuggling in her bed in her new bathrobe with her new Frenchy dog (from Fancy Nancy. Have you met her yet?)

Lucy in her new (to her) princess/bride dress, and me


From our family's Gratitude Journal this week:

#0153-0175

0153
Good Earth tea

0154
Greek yogurt...so yummy!

0155
doing chores together with the kids

0156
repentance and forgiveness

0157
singing at church, really loud. I always sing really loud.

0158
the change of seasons

0159
sausage (guess who?!)

0160
driving along the Charles River in the morning light

0161
coffee very early in the morning

0162
that Clayton finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

0163
haircuts - Lucy and me

0164
that he doesn't have to get a haircut yet - Walter

0165
the 84 bus and the 78 bus (at the end of our street!)

0166
the weekend

0167
Fridays

0168
Papa and Lucy having lunch together

0169
Mac B. (Clayton's best friend)

0170
Harvard Book Store

0171
my birthday daisies on the table still look good!

0172
water

0173
buttoning sweater buttons over a tiny round tummy

0174
going for a walk with Lucy and her baby in her carriage

0175
the different personalities of our children

0176
this:


If you'd like to join others in listing God's gifts (even if you don't blog!!), GO HERE and look for the Gratitude Community!

21 November 2009

Boring life

Here is what Theo just asked me:

"Mom, have you ever been in prison? Have you ever owned a gun? Have you ever been to outer space? Have you ever been to the inside of the sun and survived? Have you ever been the guy who got stabbed in the heart and then they got his blood working again and he came back to life?

No?

Awwww, DARN it. That's so boring."




19 November 2009

"World" Famous

EDIT: The light version of this recipe called for skim milk and fat-free chicken broth. And possibly reduced fat cheese. The bacon grease was NOT the part that made it light, surprisingly! You can easily do these things, but I've made it so many times using whatever I had (don't have potatoes? Leave 'em out). Enjoy!

As requested by "many, many" "people" (What? Am I misusing quotation marks or something?), I share with you now our beloved recipe for Chicken Cheddar Chowder.

Chicken Cheddar Chowder (from Cooking Light 1997; modified by me so that it's not so "light")

At least 2 slices bacon (I usually use much more)
1 pound skinned, boned chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. diced red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4.5 c. chicken broth
1.75 c. diced red potatoes (peeled or not)
2.25 c. frozen corn
.5 c. flour
2 c. milk
.75 c. cheddar cheese, grated (I usually use more!)
.5 t. salt
.25 t. pepper

Cook bacon in a large pan coated with cooking spray over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon, crumble and set aside.
Add chicken and next 3 ingredients to bacon fat and saute for 5 minutes. Add broth and potatoes; bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until patooties are tender.
Stir in the corn.
Place flour in a bowl. Gradually add milk and whisk until blended. Add to soup.
Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until it thickens, stirring often.
Stir in the cheese and salt and pepper. Remember to season to taste!
Top with the crumbled bacon.
This recipe makes around 7 servings.

Happy fall soup making!



16 November 2009

Practicing the Song

We're trying to practice the song of gratitude in our family. Following Ann's lead, I purchased a simple spiral pad for our own gratitude journal. Right now it lives on the kitchen table so that we can remember to jot down our thanks as they come to mind.

One thing I'm learning is that on the grumpy days, I need to keep my list more than ever. I need it, I need it.

Here are some from the family's continuing list.

0127
eggs

0128
pizza

0129
rain

0130
snow

0131
Thanksgiving

0132
my mom and dad and grandparents who went home to see their dogs (this was written in Lucy's special script and translated by me)

0133
food

0134
family

0135
baboons

0136
monkeys

0137
fresh bread and butter

0138
very helpful and fun son/mom time

0139
cake

0140
siblings

0141
popcorn and hot chocolate

0142
soda

0143
cheese (are you beginning to sense the food theme? these come from one son in particular.)

0144
Theo so he will get better (Lucy)

0145
musical birthday cards! They give hours of fun!

0146
a fresh gallon of milk in the fridge when you think you're out

0147
trees and oxygen and carbon dioxide

0148
Memaw (that's the children's great-grandmother)

0149
brothers playing football happily

0150
folded laundry

0151
unfolded laundry because it means we have plenty of clothes to wear!

0152
that God doesn't leave us like we are.

"We're not all that we should be, but we're so much better than we used to be." Our pastor says this all the time. He is at work, changing us.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!


Consider joining the Gratitude Community...


holy experience

11 November 2009

Yesterday

Yesterday's post was titled Today so today, on this post titled Yesterday, I am in fact going to tell you about yesterday.
Confused yet? Good.

Here's what I did yesterday.

1. Got up and did Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred for the first time. It wasn't that hard at the time, but I am sore this morning.
2. Had two kids sick who stayed home from school.
3. Drove non-sick kid to school.
4. Went to Market Basket.
5. Came home and read to sickest child. Other kind-of-sick child played my old records on the record player (Beauty and the Beat, anyone? Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits?)
6. Made a meal for a new mom at church. For the first time EVER, I was organized in my prep. I'm making a meal a week for the next three weeks, so I made a double batch of our world-famous Chicken Cheddar Chowder and split it into three containers. One for yesterday, two for the freezer! Yay for me!
7. I made FIVE loaves of bread. The dough threatened to overwhelm my poor little Kitchen Aid mixer. I think I might need an industrial size. It was a new recipe for me and turned out quite good (according to John and the children...I'm staying away from carbs). I used half whole wheat flour and half white.
8. Picked up non-sick kid from school and delivered meal to new mom (container of soup, a loaf of bread and salad in a bag).
9. Came home, attended to really sick child.
10. Made a batch of applesauce. I think the smell of apples cooking is one of my very favorite. Which gives me an idea for another post...what are your favorite smells and why? What do they evoke in you?

I like days when I have to stay home and do things around here. And I like making so much food. Very satisfying.

10 November 2009

Today

This is my birthday week! Yay! I love birthdays, and I had a great one this year.

The celebrations actually began LAST weekend when my parents-in-law were here and we all went out to East Coast Grill for a birthday dinner. It was SO fun.

Sunday was the actual day. There wasn't time for a special breakfast, because it was "church day" and John was preaching. But Theo said, "We have to have a special breakfast! It's your birthday!" We compromised with the Dunkin' Donuts drive-through on the way to church.

The children gave me an awesome musical card. You know, the ones that play music when you open them? This one was Alvin and the Chipmunks singing "Funky Town". This was selected by Theo and they all LOVE it! Lucy picked out some fluorescent colored pencils for me and the boys gave me a WICKED AWESOME clear umbrella, the kind that comes down over you like a bubble. I just love it! And I've been wanting one, too!

Going to church on your birthday is lots of fun because you get lots of people to say happy birthday to you and it makes you feel really special. At least it made me feel really special! And thanks to Facebook, you also get lots of birthday greetings from hundreds of people that you don't really even know all that well. And that makes you feel special, too. At least it did to me!

Monday was a faculty day at my school and we went on a field trip to this amazing place. The Community of Jesus is down on the Cape. The most striking thing about the place is the gorgeous church they have built on the property. The artwork on both the exterior and interior of the building is beyond belief...frescoes and mosaics done by Italian artists, carved stonework, a huge and beautiful organ. The weather was not typical November weather - sunny and in the upper 60s - so we enjoyed everything about the day.

Oh, wait the title of this post is today...and I didn't even mention today!

That will have to come tomorrow! Good night!

07 November 2009

Sometimes



...you just have to grit your teeth.

One of my sons is playing with a toy that makes a COMPLETELY ANNOYING sound. I am SO tempted to tell him to knock it off!

But I remind myself that a) he's having a lot of fun with it, b) it won't last the whole morning (please, don't let it last the whole morning) and c) it's good to not be an annoyed, snippy parent. He's not trying to be bad or irritating.

One of my home-schooling friends used a beautiful phrase on her blog the other day, as she wrote about their days together: "Like sandpaper, rubbing sometimes all day long, we become smoother." Lord, let the rubbing make me and us smoother every day. Jesus, help!


05 November 2009

One by one


One by one, I want to number the things for which I give thanks, the things that remind me that I'm the daughter of a loving Father.

The thing that I love about this is that they do not depend on the circumstances of my life! His goodness doesn't change. I want to hold onto the idea that even in the worst storm, I could continue this list, calling out the ways He shows and declares His tender care.

Today I bought a journal that I intend to turn into a Gratitude Journal for the family. Especially this month, I want all of us to have the place and opportunity to write things as they come to mind.

Here's part of my continuing list...

0121
great discussion with the boys at our devotional time tonight

0122
reading Little Pilgrim's Progress with Theo (and whoever wants to listen) and hearing his observations

0123
the blessing of being able to buy the groceries I need

0124
my preacher husband. He is so faithful, to me and to the Church and to the Word.

0125
a yummy dinner of sausage ratatouille. Good, good, good.

0126
looking forward to my birthday this weekend! I've always loved my birthday. And I share it with THREE wonderful sisters at church!!!

Blessing to you tonight!

In case you're wondering, the photos from yesterday and today are from Mix and Match Day at the boys' school last week!




04 November 2009

November


Bet that picture got your attention!

It's been too long since I posted, my friends! So much has been going on. We had Halloween and my dear parents-in-law visited. Man, October was one busy month!

This month I want to keep special track of the blessings of the Lord. I want to foster a heart of gratitude each and every day. Tonight, as I write, I've been struggling with a very ungrateful and angry spirit. And the verse that rang in my ears as I cursed under my breath was from Jonah, the book that we've been taught from at church.

Twice God asks Jonah, the reluctant prophet, this question: "Do you do well to be angry?"

I felt God asking me that same question tonight, as I raged in my heart about my perception of how my children provoke me, ignore my instruction, blah, blah, blah. Me, me, me. Forgetting, like Jonah, that I am a sinner.

Forgetting, like Jonah, that before I was in Christ, I was fully deserving the righteous wrath of God.

Forgetting, like Jonah, that my own anger is VERY RARELY righteous or justified.

Again, I turn to giving thanks, a surefire way to experience a change of heart, a foolproof method of finding my joy again.

Let me not delay to remember, and give thanks. On our way to 1000 Blessings!

#0112 - 0120

0112
the words of the Lord coming back to me, "Do you do well to be angry?" Gulp.

0113
our community group from church

0114
being able to get up earlier than usual the past several weeks. I hope make it earlier still in the coming weeks

0115
time with the grandparents. So good to be with them and miss them while we're apart.

0116
my special friend, M. I love being her friend and am so grateful for her and her family. They are really and truly gifts to us.

0117
real enjoyment in classroom teaching these days. And today I received some great feedback from a highly respected colleague. I yearn for feedback! And positive feedback makes me feel so good.

0118
that the Lord can use anyone, even me, even Jonah, even you!

0119
the last brilliant days of fall. I love leaves swirling through the air

0120
looking ahead to February when I will travel to Dominican Republic with my students. Lots to pray about and plan for!

For more potent reminders about gratitude, finding beauty, giving thanks and walking with the Lord, may I highly recommend A Holy Experience, written by Ann Voskamp? She says it all so much more eloquently than I do.

More tomorrow! Don't miss these last two pictures...