Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chopping off the ends of the Ham

I read a story once about a daughter helping her mom prepare a ham for Easter dinner. The mom instructed her to slice off about two inches on each end of the ham. The daughter asked why and with a puzzled look, the mom said she didn't really know, that was just the way her mother taught her to do it. When Grandma came for Easter lunch they asked her why the ends of the ham have to be cut off...more flavor? is that part of the ham not good to eat?....Grandma, chuckling I'm sure, said...."we had to cut off the ends of the ham so it would fit in my only baking pan...."

Without any thought today I prepared a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It suddenly struck me as odd, because for the first time in a long time while preparing such a sandwich for Emily, I didn't say out loud to myself...."okay, put the knife in the jelly first..." I just did it...didn't think about why, I just did it.
I have taught everyone else in our house to do the same. The reason we spread the jelly first is very important...if we contaminate the jelly with peanut butter...Nate, my two year old son who loves toast and jelly, could die. He is severely allergic to peanuts and eggs. I have spent over a year now, training myself and others eccentricly neurotic appearing procedures to ensure we keep him safe from coming into contact with peanuts or eggs. He doesn't eat from others' plates...he doesn't eat anything in which ingredients are unknown or may have manufacturing processes that could be contaminated...he never has store bought or homemade birthday cake, cupcakes or cookies at events...he doesn't eat pasta or any snack that is not a known safe brand name or that the label has not been at some point meticulously analyzed... we check with waitresses often, recipes and ingredient lists change...we think about what we've just eaten before we share a drink with him...or kiss him or even touch him.

But in that moment of realizing that my habit had become just that...it was now deeply seated in my subconscious..I was reminded of the ham story...and I wondered if a generation or two from now, my descendants will be making PB&J sandwiches, always putting the knife into the jelly first and on some level wondering why am I doing it this way...not having any better answer than this is just the way you're supposed to do it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pondering the past week

Monday: Emily's actual birthday. I spent the morning pondering and pontificating that my eldest is now seven and I spent some time vividly remembering her birth. Those memories are more about me becoming a mom than about her...but the smells, the sounds all seemed as clear as they did the days (28 hours!) it took her to arrive. I am continually amazed by her...her sweet spirit, her beauty, her enthusiasm, her open love for all those around her (I'm especially amazed by how much she loves her baby brother, her sister-cousin Kayla and her cousin baby Sam). I am so thankful that I have the privilege of having a window seat to view her growing up...I know that it's going to be one big adventure.
anyway...
She got to spend her special day with the two youngest Holland boys (parents are house hunting...) and they got an awesome treat of a tour of the Fire station in Southern Pines (an impromptu homeschooling field trip is always a good thing) by our friend Fire Marshall Stone. The kids got to climb on and in the firetrucks and got plastic fire chief hats...Nate was scared, after months of begging to "ride firetuk"...he said, "scair me" and took a long time to even let me walk near the big ladder truck while holding him.
The night ended with a couple more presents, family, and food...Chinese take out per the birthday girl's request...and a homemade Nate safe (egg & peanut free recipe) birthday cake.

Tuesday: Back to the books and hand bell choir practice...and laundry. We picked up our first of the season fresh from the field strawberries from the farm...we ate handfuls on the way home...sand and all...the smell of those big juicy strawberries was too much for all of us. As soon as we got home, Nate had his CBR (community based rehab...he's still being seen for play therapy for speech development)...his therapist is wonderful and beginning to feel like part of the family. Nate wanted to go home with her today.
I started my gardening...the raised bed that Joe built for me two years ago, may finally see a harvest. I planted onion sets, lettuce seeds, 3 crookneck squash plants, 3 pickling cucumber plants, marigold seeds (to keep critters away, we'll see if it works), and 1 Tommy toe tomato and one beefsteak tomato plant...I'll be checking every day for growth. A friend asked if I thought I'd be living in this house long enough to see the harvest. Today, I think I will...but, even if I'm not...I refuse to live in such a way as to constantly think that I'm leaving and then miss out on things because I might not be here.


Wednesday: MOPS meeting in the morning. Got there early (yee-ha) and even with some prepared school work for Emily to do during the meeting. Nate even did pretty well when I left his classroom, a sweet "bye-bye Mommy" with crocodile tears, but no gnashing of teeth or hanging onto my clothing. MOPS is always time well spent...great speaker, Debbie Brown...talked about handling conflict in marriage. I took lots of notes (hehe). Debbie is wonderful and gave us a lot of good advice when Jess was coming/had just come to live with us last year. Our table had a great discussion...my (before-we-had-kids) co-worker, friend and neighbor... Holly announced her pregnancy. This is her third pregnancy...and we are praying and waiting as she has miscarried early on twice before. She is already a wonderful mom to two adopted beautiful boys (God had an awesome plan and she often comments that she was "meant" to be an adoptive mom.) The oldest is only three weeks older than Nate. Her boys are 18 months apart...and well this baby will be about 18 months behind his/her older brother. I can hardly wait to see how this all turns out...anyway it was just a good morning!
We ate lunch after the meeting at Sonic (didn't see anyone familiar lingering around Chickfila...) and thought some moms might be headed to Sonic. Anyway, no sooner than we got our food settled at the picnic tables...the stump grinding guy called that he was on his way to the house.
We gathered up our stuff and jumped in the car as quickly as possible and met him there. Stump grinding...interesting work...cool machine. The kids, of course, stood on the deck and watched as the row of bush roots and stumps, that had lived bordering the old deck, were chewed up and spit out. Nate was practically salivating at the big dirt piles left behind...know where I'll find him for the next few days.
Stump grinding man motivated me to work some more in the yard while Nate napped...so I took a pick axe to some other dead stumps laying around, raked some more leaves, picked up some pine cones...then listened to Emily read a Cam Jansen book out loud and helped her with math facts while laying in the hammock on the new deck that David built. We woke Nate up from a sound sleep to go off to gymnastics, picking Peyton up along the way and then brought Peyton home with us to have dinner (Chicken Bruschetta Bake...my newest, most favorite recipe) and the girls played and giggled. Joe got home from his commute a few minutes after we did. The kids finished off the birthday cake (THANK YOU LORD...) I didn't need to be tempted by that monstrosity of chocolate heaven one more day. So, here's the dinner recipe...it's SO easy and for my family, several days of left overs for lunch...or enough to share with a starving nurse who had a horrible shift ; ) and the kids LOVE it

Bruschetta Chicken Bake
1 can diced tomatoes (14-1/2 oz) undrained
1 pkg Stove top (etc) chicken flavor
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 pound uncooked boneless skinless chikcken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozarella cheese
Oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes w/their liquid in med bowl. Add stuffing mix, 1/2 cup hot water and the garlic; stir just until stuffing is moist. Set aside. Place chicken in 13x9 baking dish; sprinkle w/basil and cheese. Top w/stuffing mixture. Bake 30 min or until chicken is cooked through. (from the back of a stove top box!!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

turning seven...




On April 11 (3 days before Emily's seventh birthday), we attended a tea party for seven little girls at Miss Lacey's in Sanford. Four mommies and one grandma were also in attendance. It was so much fun and the girls were so cute. They all (mostly) had gloves, hats and their prettiest dresses. They used real tea cups and saucers and had lemonade or tea. We ate lunch, drank tea with our pinkies out, opened presents, had cake...Emily said it was the best party ever!
No, I didn't make the cake...Jennifer did. Isn't it just beautiful? It was such a bittersweet time, not only is my baby growing up but I also know there is a great possibility that Emily may not have these girls in her daily life a year from now. I know that she will always remember them and that we may visit and see them occasionally but somehow it will be different. These are her first girlfriends...they will forever make up the fabric of her memories of first sleepovers...the first giggling gaggle of girls she's been a part of...playdates...girlscouts...classmates...sunday school...children's choir...gymnastics... I pray that she always appreciates and doesn't take for granted having close girlfriends..and I hope this group of girls are just a few of the many that will be a part of her life forever.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Conversations overheard...

We've had a friend of the family spending part of the weekend with us...he's one of Emmie's closest friends...and a BOY...probably won't be long until they think each other too "yuckie" to hang out with...



M: Our friends, they have this big yellow dog, her name is Dallas and she's a Golden Retriever...they have this house at the lake...



E: (interuppting...we're working on that) Of course, I know them...I've been to their house at the lake too...

They're our friends too...every time he sees me, he tickles me...



M: Well, Dallas is a cool dog...she will go get sticks out of the lake if you throw them. She's a good dog.



I turned my back and wept...knowing and continuing to grieve that relationships will never be the same...

Monday, April 7, 2008

..a good day


7 Loads of Laundry
1 Dishwasher load of dishes
A 1/2 hour of building Legos and playing trains with Nate
4 hours of school with Emily
A clean kitchen sink
A doctor's appointment for 2-year follow up scheduled (post-GOP)
A few chapters of a good book
A Lizard captured and de-TAILED, studied then released (oops, I really am sorry Mr. Lizard)
A 2-1/2 hour nap by Nate
A play date with a treasured friend for Emily
chicken thawed with a plan for fried chicken for dinner...yum (and Mom's recipe for applesauce jello setting up in the fridge)
No house hunting on-line, no painting, no real time spent agonizing over moving vs. staying...just REAL LIFE..