Monday, January 31, 2011

Recipe for a rainy Monday

Take one part fog, 2 exuberant kids and a schedule with a smidge of cushion. 

When they implore you to "please stop" and see your small town's historic highlight, go ahead and say the magic word of a real super-mom: YES!

Feel the Monday fog lift right out of your heart as you run excitedly after them to experience the delight of a surprise pit stop. 


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mom Ejected From Church League Basketball Game

"You want me out?!?!?!  You'll have to carry me out," the mom was heard shrieking as the ref moved slowly, but surely across the court towards the stands.

"Mommy!!!  Don't take my mommy!  P L EEE  Z E ..." three small children cried out as the scene at the church gym deteriorated quickly Saturday.

Well, that's what COULD have happened.  If I had said or done what my motherly instincts told me to do when the lady in front of me started sneering at Numbers 2-4 for cheering enthusiastically for Number 1 as he played his heart out in a non-competitive, church league game of 5th and 6th graders (That Number 14 on the opposing team was no less than 6 feet tall, but I digress.), that SO could have happened.  If I had come out with just the right remark to put the same lady in her proper place when she cheered enthusiastically after Number 1 missed his free throws in the last minutes of a non-competitive, church league game, that SO COULD HAVE HAPPENED.

I admit I'm not a sports person.  I have said many times, giving me four sons is a hilarious gag for God to play on someone who never has any idea who is playing in the World Series and has actually skipped a Super Bowl party to go to a knitting class.  It's just never been my thing.  But when one of my boys is playing or doing or participating in anything, my pride in their confidence and effort knows no bounds.  I've been known to cry at a curtain call, jump out of my shoes as a 3 pointer hit nothing but net and start a standing ovation after a preschool Christmas program.

Much to everyone's embarrassment, I tend to yell things like, "Go BABY, take it to the basket!" or "Come on score MAMA a basket!"  Remember I'm not a sports person.  I am simply cheering for my sweet, athletic, confident 11 year old Number 1 as he plays his heart out in a non-competitive, church league game.  I also cheer for the other team when they make a great shot or are down by a lot.  Maybe not as loud or as embarrassing, but I still encourage someone else's child playing in a non-competitive, church league game.

So today I said nothing.  I bit my tongue.  I controlled my anger toward the sneering lady for the last 5 minutes of non-competitive, church league game until the final buzzer sounded and I could cross the court and congratulate the 5th and 6th graders who all played their hearts out in a non-competitive, church league game.

Another day, another story,

Five Minute Saturday

My friend Lisa-jo and I had a short but encouraging conversation about writing when I saw her at Blissdom the other night.  She reminded me that writing is a discipline.  I chewed on her words,  remembering when I began the discipline of running.  I started by only running for 5 seemingly eternal minutes at a time.  As my stamina increased and the discipline paid off and I could go farther.  Within 3 months I ran a 5k, and the discipline of running is now ingrained and a part of my life I couldn't forget if I tried.  Since I was traveling yesterday, I didn't get a chance to follow her prompt and write a post about Women.  

Let the discipline begin:

At 92 she's been accused of coloring her hair.  She's the only surviving sibling of my Grandmama honey,  the last of a breed who calls everyone dahlin and means it.  She walks determinedly with a cane, half bent over from almost a century full of life.  She holds tight to her history with fierce independence.  She intimately knows all her ancestors; the whens and whys of how they all ended up in Tennessee.  Her mind is sharper than my own, recalling in detail events, parties, fights and love experienced over so many years.  I have driven three hours to sit next to her and absorb the stories about family she loves to share.  Painting personalities of long dead great-greats so eloquently and precisely they might as well be in the room.   

She told me once when the wind blows as she works in her cottage garden, she knows it's Jesus passing by, reminding her He's taking care things.   

I saw her shake her fist emphatically, and ask the sky WHY?! when my grandmother died, tears slipping silently down her beautiful face.  I hope the same garden breeze that whispers Holy Presence, gently reminds her that she is an ancestor He's not finished with yet. 
Auntie: taken at Grand'mama's 90th b-day party


Friday, January 28, 2011

100th Day of School

What other kindergartener wishes for Dr. Dre Beats headphones (like Santa brought Number 1)?  
I dare say, none other than ours.

Another day, another story,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things I love about my 8 year old

Mexicanjumpingbain turned 8 last weekend, and I thought writing about 8 things that set him apart in our boy-tribe would be fitting.

1. He creates adventure.  It's not accurate to say he is adventurous, because that intimates he's just along for a fun ride. No, he looks for and makes adventure in every outing, whether to the mailbox, church or playing in the snow. 

 2.  He's incredibly tough.  A few weeks ago, he'd been riding behind the 4 wheeler so long his snow clothes were completely drenched, soaked down to his long johns.  He was borderline frost bitten, and told me - it didn't hurt til you told me to come in!  Yes, I'm just a mean ogre mom like that sometimes; saving appendages from the elements because he's so tough he doesn't always recognize pain and what it indicates.

3. He has the imagination of a Star Wars choreographer.   He battles invisible enemies constantly, and can contort his face, voice and body to make the entire scene remarkable life like.  It's good enough to record and re-watch.

4.  He is comfortable being alone.  He doesn't need constant stimuli to be happily entertained.  As noted above, he's likely planning an extensive battle.  

5. He makes inventions.  Currently there's an ace bandage stretched tautly across his room, from his dresser to the top bunk, so he can open the drawers as he climbs out of bed.  He also has been after me for month to make something called noodle tacos.  

6.  He is not afraid of the dark.  In fact, I don't think there's much that can frighten him.  The toughness described in #2 isn't just physical. I chalk this up to third-childness.

7.  He comes up with cool nicknames for grown-up friends.  The best one ever happened last year, when he looked at a close friend of ours and emphatically stated, "YOU, are my arch-enemy!"  

8. He has an indescribably sweet heart. He regularly reads through old birthday cards and keeps a large quantity of memorabilia for available viewing. HE draws pictures for people during church and then sheepishly hands them out.  He loves hugging up in the early morning hours and whispering through everything magnificent happening in the last week.  He is a regular contributor to our family gratitude journal, and can even see beauty in a black slugs' antennae.  

There are so many more things he is: funny, handsome, persnickety about his hair, quirky, helpful, caring, observant, careful (sometimes), and fiercly loving (all the time).    

I wrote last year about how he changed me.  Simple fact: I can see him changing the world. 

So glad I'm living and I'm so glad you're mine, mexicanjumpingbain!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Guest Post

Please check out my guest post this morning over at one of my favorite places,

Another day, another story,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

When encouraging your 5 year old has great significance

Butterbain is bouncing out of his booster seat as we arrive.  His pulling feels stronger, guiding me into into the orange on brown skating rink.  He's the first in line to get his skates.  Yes, he wants to skate in the coon skin cap, that's what Davy Crockett would have done, after all.  His feet are swinging in time to the ubiquitous skating music as he waits patiently for his skates to be put on.  He willingly pushes hard to make sure his heel is all the way in, and skates off as soon as possible, after I remind him practicing on the carpet is easier. 

Once I lace up my skates he comes and sticks his little hand into my palm.  Pulling me, again.  This time out onto the well worn hard wood floor with it's obvious fast and slow lanes.  As we make a laborious lap with lots of pitching back and forth and near falls, he makes it to the edge and hops over the curb to take a rest.  Panting,  he comments on how hot he is, and grins big as he gingerly skates - alone - to take off the cap and get some water from mainbain.

We make lap after lap, and I realize he's DOING it.  The skating code has been cracked and as we go around one of the last times I pull my hand away and half-yell over the celebratory Cool and the Gang:  
You don't need me! 
You know how to do it!
You've got this!

I feel him hesitate, grab for the pocket of my favorite gray trousers. He looks up at me, doubtful that my mom-knows-all intuition is right about this.  I say it again:

You don't need me for this!
You can do it!
You don't need me for this!

And that's when I hesitate.  I feel the urge to take it back, to reel my words in,  to pull the hem of his favorite monkey shirt and pick him up and hold him tight in this disco ball studded moment of significance.

written in 12 minutes, linked to thegypsymama

Weekends are for waffles {apparently}

DISCLAIMER:  There's this gifted blogger, Ann with out an E, who writes about maintaining a holy and grateful outlook on the mundane, repetitive tasks of the everyday.  There's something about her writing that sticks with you - the way my grandmother swore hot oatmeal would if you ate enough of it in the morning.  One of Ann's regular posts is Weekends are for....savoring a good book, relaxing with friends, new starts, etc.  Her suggestions are quite wonderful, but I propose this weekend to be waffle weekend! 

While I'm not the thoughtful writer she is - doubtful I ever could be- I am a thoughtful cook.  I try to cultivate and expand my breakfast repertoire with clever creations the baintrain will look forward to waking up for.  Here's the latest one they loved:

:: Chocolate waffles with peanut butter 'syrup'::
waffle recipe adapted from Pamela's GF baking mix
makes 8 waffles, plenty of syrup
2 c baking mix - pamela's
4 eggs
2/3 c cocoa
1/3 plus 2 T xylitol (or other non-sugar sweetner like rapadura)
1/2 c melted butter or coconut oil
2 c water
Preheat your waffle iron. Mix all dry ingredients well and add eggs, water and melted butter/oil.  Cook by 1/2 cup fulls until you've used all the batter.  I guarantee your mouth will start watering as they cook - it smells just like brownies.  Unless you don't like brownies and then, I don't think I've got any thing for that.  FYI: leftover waffles make a great GF bread alternative, and chocolate ones make great pbj's.

While the waffles cook make the 'syrup.'

1 1/2 c organic peanut (or other nut) butter
1/4 c butter or coconut oil
1 c honey, agave or maple syrup
Combine all 3 ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until butter melts.   Adjust to your taste - you might like it sweeter or more peanut butter-y - once you've got it, take it off the heat.
Liberally spread over waffles as they come out.

They are Divine,  and certainly qualified for our gratitude list.

linked to:
Jen, Rachel, Kristin, Laura, Maggie, and Kelly,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I wish they'd told me in childbirth classes

All those breathing exercises and gory videos in Childbirth Class of 1999 did me not one bit of good.  I went to the hospital, they gave me an epidural and a few sweaty hours later, a baby boy came out times 4.  Material they really should have covered:

  • It is developmentally normal for the average 5 year old boy to rip, ruin and/or otherwise dismantle clothing, specifically pants, within the first 10 wearings.

  • Your baby will eventually become a middle schooler, have his own cell phone and communicate primarily through "text messages" that say "Whassup!" "Hey" and "Awesome".

  • It is statistically probable you will want a tummy tuck, boob job or bladder lift in the future.  Start saving now.  $100 a month for 60 months will make a nice dent in the Kindergarten Year Renovation & Reconstruction Fund.  Double that if you have c-sections.

Another day, another story,

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why you should say yes to one more bedtime story

Because after a day when you didn't sit down for 7 straight hours and bedtime disintegrated with threats and you sighed when you grudgingly agreed to one SHORT book. Because even after you felt yourself roaring your terrible roar and hurting the feelings of the littlest, he will still take your hand and lovingly look at you and say, "I'm so glad I've got you, Mom!"

He's just 5, how can he already grasp such deep love and grace?


Wedding Obit

One of my dear friends, Kim, over at, relies on me to give her the highlights from the Sunday newspaper.  I read the paper cover to cover every day, with the obituaries and wedding announcements being especially interesting to me.  We got to talking recently about these bright and shiny couples in the paper week after week (after all, our bright and shiny wedding pictures were in the paper once upon a time).  We couldn't help but project our wisdom from many years of wedded bliss onto these newlyweds.   Thanks to Kim, here is  

A Wedding Obit…or what happens AFTER the fairytale wedding.

Disclaimer:  Names, pets, towns, places….basically most info has been altered/changed to protect the innocent and the ridiculous.

Another day, another story,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Everyone Does It

The mailman does it.  The store clerk does it.  The kids at school do it.  Your siblings do it.  Your parents do it.  Everyone poops in the potty.  Right?

I hope for the end of poverty and violence and world hunger and cancer.  I want all those things.  I really, really do.  But right this very instant, all I can focus on is the secret to getting Number 4 (3.5 years old) to poop in the potty.

I know. I know.  I've heard, tried and given to countless friends over the years, ALL the advice like "when they are ready it will happen" and "you can lead a kid to the potty but you can't make him go"  and "no one goes to high school pooping in their pants" and "go cold turkey and get rid of all the training pants" and MY PERSONAL FAVORITE "stay home for a week to focus on poop".  We all know that is simply impossible AND exactly where I would end up if I didn't leave the house for a week.  Cue Ozzy Osborne's "Crazy Train".

I've tried using the big potty.  A little potty drug out from behind all the Christmas decorations in the attic.  Underwear only (good thing I have plenty of hand-me-downs to toss).  Training pants only.  Scolding.  Not scolding at all.  Ignoring and complete focus. He is ready, if hiding and/or locking yourself in your room to poop signals readiness.

I've been down this road before.  This ain't my first potty rodeo.  I am certain at least one of The Brothers had this same resistance.  Too bad I cannot for the life of me remember what I did about it.  Probably absolutely nothing.  'Cause I know with all my heart "when they are ready it will happen" and "no one goes to high school pooping in their pants" and "you can lead a kid to the potty but you can't make him go".

Another day, another story,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How to dress up a paper plate, and get them to eat veggies for Breakfast

Paper plates at breakfast? Born of necessity due to forgetfulness the night before, but dressed up nicely with a new pancake creation.

Pawing throuth the freezer for some inspiration the other day I found a ziploc bag of Summer, I mean shredded zucchini. If you have a garden, (or know someone with one) and grow this shockingly prolific cucumber cousin, chances are you've got access to some shredded summer goodness as well.

Of course I've made lots of variations of zucchini bread and muffins (chocolate, with pineapple, carrots, etc) but this particular bag was destined for something new, something improvised and improved.

::Zucchini Pancakes::
makes about 22 BIG ones
2 cups baking mix, I used Pamela's
2 T cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
3 fresh eggs, beaten
1 1/2-2 cups shredded zucchini, squeezed dry
3/4 c. xylitol or sucanut
1 T vanilla
1/2 c melted butter or coconut oil
about 1 c of water, enough to thin to desired consistency

Preheat your griddle. Squeeze excess water out of the zucchini in a paper towel. If you found yours in the freezer the amount of water you're able to squeeze out will shock you. Mix together baking mix, spices, and xylitol. Stir in eggs, melted butter and water, then add zucchini. I like a thinner batter, so I might have added even 1/4 to 1/2 cup more water. You'll have to see what yours is like because of the density of the zucchini. Pour by 1/4 cup-fulls onto lightly greased hot griddle, flipping once. Serve with warm syrup, ideally, or cold sorghum - which is what most of the baintrain prefers.

I'm 99.99% positive the boys wouldn't have known I was performing an experiment on them and feeding them their most dreaded summer vegetable, had I not mentioned it. Oh, yes I did. I did the smartest thing possible and waited to tell them until after they'd had a bite or two.

My 4 taste-testers rated these as close to creme brulee as you can get for a pancake. Their words, not mine. And limabain ate 8. And mexicanjumpingbain was on sugar restriction and even enjoyed them with no syrup or sorghum. All that to say, they are good and worth making even if you don't have zucchini in your freezer. You can just go buy some and shred it, which would add an extra step for you, but still worth it, IMHO.

Oh, and the paper plate? We'd forgotten to start the dishwasher the night before. So, as it was running we enjoyed a relaxed no-dishes, no repeated reminders to clear-off-your-plate-please kind of morning. The pancakes dressed up that plain old grocery store paper plate in about 15 minutes.

Hope you like them as much as we do. I found 4 more bags of zucchini last night...they'll be a staple on our breakfast menu for a while.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Safe? Not a chance

If you'd asked me at the onset of parenting if I thought a safe way to enjoy a snow day was to get pulled behind a kid-driven 4 wheeler, the answer most assuredly and emphatically would have been, No!

Add 4 boys, farm life and thirteen years of parenting experience and the opposite answer surfaces.

I am now the one in the field cheering on their crazy stunts, admiring the toughness that keeps them playing long past frozen fingers and snow-packed boots. While praying the entire time, of course.

Safe? Not a chance.
Fun? Without a doubt.
Life-lesson? YEP.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Something fun to do on Saturday

Confession time:  I am addicted to XM radio.  I'm not talking the Oprah channel, or even the 80's, no my addiction is much worse.  I have the number for XMKIDS number programmed into my phone, and I listen to it without children in the car.  I h can testify that El Quacko is worth putting in your iPod rotation!  One of the baintrain's latest favorites is Elvis is Everywhere

I'm certain I was channeling Elvis - or at least Mojo Nixon's version - as I concocted breakfast this morning.

::Elvis Waffles::

Make Waffles using your favorite mix, or heat up some frozen ones.

Make The Sauce - enough to spread over 4 big homemade waffles
In a pan over med low heat mix:

6 T.  butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup peanut butter

After that's bubbly, gooey and yummy, add 3 sliced bananas.
Stir to coat and then top waffles with The Sauce.

Elvis was definitely at our breakfast table this morning!

A re-post:   I thought you might like something fun to do on Saturday morning - which happens to be The King's  (and my nephew's) birthday!

linked to Kristin whose WFMW tips are fabulous...

Tangled up and good

Well past mindnight, I creep down the hallway, careful not to step on the one creaky board in our house.  I can hear their tandem purring. Sweet sound.  not a snore and they make it together.  You'd think they'd been sleeping partners much longer than just 5 years. 

I've stayed up late chatting with our last Christmas guest and Butterbain has taken up residence on my side of the bed.  I smile in the dark, knowing butterbain's presence is evidence of his cunning and useful smile. I skooch him over, making room for myself on the edge, ease under the heavy quilts and turn to hug him up.  Dreaming deep he turns to me, as does mainbain, and as I drift off to sleepy town, I realize I have no idea which arm belongs to my 5 year old baby, which one is mine and which one is mainbain's

My last conscious thought is how sweet it is to be tangled up together.  Not fully able to parse where I end and us begins


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tiny Fractures

It says a lot that a 2+ hour afternoon nap with Number 4 was the highlight and focus of my day versus this morning's trip to the ortho doc for Number 1's basketball injury.

A lot.

Another day, another story,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Life. In a nutshell.

Number 3 to Number 4, "First you go to your school. Then Kindergarten, then elementary school, then middle school, then high school and then college. Then marriage to a girl and then she gets pregnant and a baby comes out and you get a car with your own license plate."

Number 4 protests, "I don't want to marry a girl!"

"You're 'pose to marry a girl," Number
3 continues, "You are just 3. You don't know how life is!"

Another day, another story,

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010: Those Were the Days

Saying Goodbye to 2010 and Welcoming a New Year

2010 was filled with joy and sadness.  New beginnings and bittersweet endings.  Hilarious and unbelievable moments.  We are thankful most of these experiences were chronicled right here to share with each other and our readers. 

For 2011 we are striving for contentment.  Of course there's always room for personal improvement, but realizing most of life is simply out of your control tends to open up the possibilities.  Chances are this year will contain the astounding, the disappointing, the ho-hum and the surprising.  And probably a liberal smattering of everything in between.  Whether our lives run smoothly on track, become de-railed or just seem simply monotonous, we hope to find gratitude in it all.  Focus not on what we want, but what we have.   

"For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to bring you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11


Em and Lib


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