Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 19: It's Not Rocket Science

I'm a fan of family psychologist, Dr. John Rosemond. He gives old-school, common sense advice about parenting in his weekly newspaper column and at I got this little nugget of advice from today's column.

"I will keep saying it and trying to prove it until I'm no longer able to say anything coherent: Raising children is not rocket science. You simply take one part cool, calm and collected, blend that in with one part confidence in the legitimacy of your authority, sprinkle with a sense of humor and a dash of ingenuity, and you've got it."

Another day, another story,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 18: The Bright Side

The tooth I got filled today is throbbing. The house is a wreck. The laundry is...well...the usual. I have no idea what we're having for dinner. The bright side:

Another day, another story,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 17: Best Advice

If you're from Mississippi like me, you probably have at least one piece of McCarty Pottery. If not, you should treat yourself to the simple and beautiful pottery that has been made by hand for decades in Merigold, Mississippi.

I just read the interview of Lee McCarty in the April issue of Garden & Gun magazine (quite possibly my all time favorite magazine). And I might just have gotten some of the best advice of my life. He summed it up perfectly.

"Can I leave you with a piece of advice?" he asks (the interviewer).

"Love your wife," he says, a wisp of sadness in his voice (his wife, Pup, passed away 2 years ago). "Spoil your children. And then, if you're lucky enough after that to have them, as I have been, spoil your grandchildren after that. And all the while make your art in a place that you love."

Another day, another story,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Number 2's Pizzaboo and Chocolate Chip Cupcake Recipes

During church yesterday, Number 2 was hard at work taking notes. Well, not really. He was writing this recipe. After making a few minor adjustments like leaving out the blueberries and tweaking the measurements a little, we whipped them up yesterday afternoon. I'm more than a little shocked that they turned out beautifully. So beautifully, in fact, that they were gone too fast to take a picture of the final product. His secret ingredient - "1 pint of love".

So tonight he made Pizzaboos based on a family favorite, Chocoboos. Nothing fancy, but a hit with me and 75% of The Boys. (Number 4 likes nothing new.)

First you unroll crescent roll dough (of course). Add pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni if you like. 

Not pretty.

Still not pretty, but YUMMO!

Another day, another story,

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 16: Hope

Another day, another story,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekend Highlights

In addition to the usual weekend routine (too much pizza, college basketball games, laundry)...

I fished a toy out of a poopy potty with a plastic fork.

I cleaned poop out of the playroom carpet.

Another day, another story,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How we roll

We got up before dark this morning to leave by 10 am.  Our traveling circus is not pretty, neat or streamlined. For a whopping three hour-one night tour, our SUV was stuffed to the gills with:

2 overnight bags
4 backpacks full of wadded up clothes
1 book bag overflowing with potential reading material
2 DVD players with Lonesome Dove
1 iPad
1 fiddle
1 guitar
3 bottles of Kombucha
A spare pair of undies for unnamed boy


Lent for the Rest of Us Day 15: Happy is...

Another day, another story,

5 minute Friday: Waking up

It's actually early Saturday, but my Friday's disappear quicker than those last grains of sand in an hourglass, so I'm joining Lisa-jo today.  Writing for 5 minutes - okay maybe seven or eight - but really just writing about waking up.


I hear the footsteps just before he appears at the side of my bed.  It used to be a sweet, scuffling pitter-patter, but that sound evaporated between his last 2 birthdays.  These are the footsteps of a sleepy, but determined five year old, tall enough to look me in the eye when I'm lying down.  

Waking up to butterbain's sleep-raspy voice as he asks: I have to go to the bathroom, will you come with me?  Throwing the covers back, I take his fragile (isn't everything fragile at 3 am?)  and we weave our way through the black pitch of night to the bathroom, flipping on a teeny light that won't make it too hard to get back to sleep.  After necessary water sips and handwashing, we click off the light and head back into darkness.  Once in bed, snuzzled together, we face each other, profess our love,  and drift back into our ocean of sleep.



Friday, March 25, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 14: Boring, in a good way

I got nothin'. I apologize, but I really got nothin'. Nothing exciting. Nothing interesting. Certainly nothing uplifting, cheerful or funny.

This morning, I got Numbers 1-4 ready and out the door for school. Number 1 left with St. Joel at 7:30am. Numbers 2 and 3 caught the school bus at 8:30am. And I dropped Number 4 off at preschool at 9:30am.

I met friends for a cup of coffee before stopping for a few groceries. I ran home to put those things away before heading back out to meet St. Joel for lunch (great way to get a date in) before picking Number 4 up at preschool and heading over to get in the car line at Number 1's middle school.

Number 2 and 3 got off the school bus about 4:30pm. Domino's made its weekly drop-off at 6:00pm (nothing but crumbs by 6:08pm). I enjoyed a nice, cold beer. And here I sit typing and waiting for the bedtime routine to begin.

Just a average, normal day. Nothing exciting.  Nothing interesting. Boring, in a good way. I'll take it.

Another day, another story,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Moving past breakfast: Baseball snacks that are out of the park

Baseball has started.  Our normal family life will resume after this season of fun and games,  but if I'm not proactive it will be a season of tug of war in the food department.  As a gluten free family, temptation is everywhere and while we aren't perfect, we do choose our exemptions very carefully.  So, it's time to move past breakfast into some healthy to-go snacks. With 4 boys on 4 different teams we're going to be parked on aluminum bleachers for hours.on end.  

I thought I had tried just about every possible food alternative to concession stand fare.  I'd already planned vanilla bean cupcakes in our nightly picnic basket. I've had the ingredients for my anti-fast food bars for weeks, but haven't managed to make them. 

With 4 boys on 4 different teams we're going to be parked on aluminum bleachers for hours.  On end.  So this baseball season I've decided to put all my effort into snacks they love to eat and I like dishing out.  This recipe caught my eye about a month ago at wholenewmom, and I knew it had to be added to my to-try list when I saw she recommended using my favorite sugar alternative, xylitol.

I changed her recipe just a bit, and I might layer it differently next time, but we taste-tested them for dessert tonight - and we think it's better than the original.  Don't let me sway you, though - whip up a batch and see if they'll even make it to your ball field. 

makes 1 8x8 pan - about 24 1" bars

Make chocolate layer first by melting

8T coconut oil or butter
8T nut butter (obviously almond would work well)
Stir til combined, then add
1/4 c sweetener: xylitol, sugar - something granulated
6 T cocoa powder
9 t liquid sweetener - I used agave, but honey would work
remove from heat and add

1 t vanilla

Pour chocolate into an 8x8 pan and pop in the freezer (make sure it's level) while you make the coconut topping:

7 T coconut oil 

1 2/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 c granulated sweetener - again I used xylitol
 stir til combined then add

1 1/2 t Vanilla
1 t almond extract
2 t arrowroot powder (cornstarch would work too)

Once the chocolate in the your freezer is hardened, add coconut layer.  Put back in freezer for about 30 minutes, they will have to warm up to cut if you leave them in longer.   You can add almond halves or slivers to the top for garnish.  They have to be kept in the fridge in the summer, but since we always take a cooler that shouldn't be a problem.  

I'm making the enormous assumption these will make it to the field.  We might just be eating a lot of dessert first this year!
Linked here there and yon: Jen, Frugal Rachel, Kristin, Laura, Alli Sara and Kelly

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 13: Recap

Since I caught the oven on fire last night and my oldest had a fever, today's Lent for the Rest of Us post is going to be a recap with links to the first 12 days. This might be a handy way to share with friends or simply a reminder to connect with joy more often. 

AND I have to pace myself for the second half of Lent.

Thank you for reading,

Day 1: Go For It

Day 2: Laugh. Every Day.

Day 3: You Gotta Believe

Day 4: Cake

Day 5: Traces of Awe

Day 6: Friendship Haiku

Day 7: simple joys

Day 8: Vacation

Day 9: Pray

Day 10: Celebrate

Day 11: Joy

Day 12: Everyone Needs a Team
Top Ten {Tuesday}

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


We've been going over the basic bunny around the tree steps for about a year.  On a random Tuesday morning,  in less than 5 rushed minutes, mexicanjumpingbain finally tied his own shoes! 

I know learning to tie your shoes is not an enormous milestone, but it is a necessary life skill.  My frustration over teaching this skill began to mount months ago whe he just wasn't getting it.   The more I tried to go over the intricate how-to's, the more frustrated he became and all progress lost.  It went like that for many months until he brought the Converse he'd picked out to me for one final lesson.  

I did the only thing a been-there-done-that-tired-of failing-this-test Mom could do: I pointed him in the direction of Dad.  Watching them work together was sweet and endearing.  Not to mention incredibly fast. Sitting on the edge of our unmade bed, mainbain taught the lesson I'd unequivocally failed.  

I occurred to me that teaching shoe tying is like opening a tough, stuck jar lid.  You tug and pull and turn red in the face, until you finally ask for help. 

Then it's a tie. 


Lent for the Rest of Us Day 11: Joy

I was struggling to think of something "cheerful, uplifting, funny or all of the above" for Day 11 of Lent for the Rest of Us. Then I got a text. No words. Just a picture. Of my friend holding his brand-spanking-new iPad with his son standing next to him grinning ear to ear. So what, right? An iPad equalling joy? That hardly sounds Lent-y at all.

But God gave it to him. Really He did. 

My friend is really sick. He has cancer. Serious, sucky cancer that probably isn't going to go away. His wife (also my friend) wanted to give him an iPad for his birthday. But when you have serious, sucky cancer, money is kind of tight. His birthday is in May. But when you have serious, sucky cancer, you shouldn't have to wait 'til May. 

So today God gave him an iPad. Really he did.

My friend's wife mentioned to a close, church friend that she wanted to figure out a way to get an iPad for his birthday. Within the hour, he called back and said, "Go get it, and I'll make sure you get the money back."

Looking for joy? It's simple. Do something nice for someone.

Another day, another story,

*This is just one story about people, friends and strangers, who have helped this family over the last few years. Meals, gift cards, household chores and more. It has been nothing short of amazing. When there was a need, it was filled. To read more, see below.

Recipe: May the Force Also Be With You

This fabulous recipe comes from Number 3's new cookbook from our Spring Break trip to Atlanta. His very favorite souvenir!

* WARNING - This recipe is very complicated and required intricate shaping skills.

Take refrigerated bread-stick dough (the kind in a can) and shape into the letters STAR WARS, sprinkle salt and/or garlic (or get really crazy and do butter, cinnamon, sugar), bake at 375 for 15 minutes. 

It's not this exact one, but you get the idea.

Another day, another story,
Linked here there and yon: Jen, Frugal Rachel, Kristin, Laura

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 10: Celebrate

Today I could worry about a lot of situations. Be upset about a few things. Even mad about a couple things that didn't go the way I wanted along the way. Instead, I choose to celebrate.

Celebrate...a school meeting full of compliments about one of my boys.

Celebrate...the thought of turning 40 soon surrounded by family and friends.

Celebrate...4 healthy children.

Celebrate...sending those 4 healthy children back to school after a fun, family Spring Break trip with their Papoo.

Celebrate...Monday by having coffee AND lunch with my dear friend.

Another day, another story,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 9: Pray

Pray for Lucy Krull.  She turned 5 in the hospital recently. She has brain cancer. She has already had 4 surgeries. She has a sister and a 6 month old baby brother and two strong, worried parents.  

I've never met them. And I pray for them. And for LeBonheur Children's Hospital and for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital every day.  And you can too.

Read more about this family at 3 Kids, A Minivan and A Mortgage

Another day, another story,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 8: Vacation

Joy is ... a Mexican dinner and margaritas on a beautiful night with my family and old friends. Cheers.

Another day, another story,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 7: simple joys

Traveled 300+ miles today with Numbers 1-4 and St. Joel. The simple joys are obvious.

No one threw up in the car

No car trouble

Hotel with free WiFi and indoor pool

Weekend away with family

Another day, another story,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 6: Friendship Haiku

Sunshine and two friends. 

Seven boys, lots of nuggets.      
Simply perfect day.

Another day, another story,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 5: Traces of Awe

To catch up on the Lent for the Rest of Us series, you might want to start here.

No matter how monotonous.  No matter how many loads of laundry I do, cups of milk I pour, chicken nuggets I ketchup, fights over action figures I break up, if I just open my eyes, the miracles and traces of awe are startlingly obvious. Sometimes I have to look much closer than other days. Some days, they are everywhere I turn.  Thanks to my iphone addiction, I have proof.

Another day, another story,
linked to Ann

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 4: Cake

What's more cheerful than CAKE? On this chilly, raining, first day of Spring Break Monday, I can't think of anything more necessary than my foolproof Chocolate Chip Pound Cake. My friend since junior high gave me this recipe years ago and I have made it no less than 4 million times since. And I think of her every single time. It is easy. It is delicious. 

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
1 butter yellow cake mix
1 cup vegetable oil
1 small box vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
8 ounce carton sour cream
8 ounce bag chocolate chips (more if you want)

  • Mix all. Bake at 325 for 1 hour in greased Bundt pan. Enjoy!

If you need more cheer this Monday, take a few minutes to laugh with this YouTube video of Bill Cosby's classic, "Dad is great, he brings me chocolate cake".  

Another day, another story,
Linked here there and yon: Jen, Frugal Rachel, Kristin, Laura, Alli Sara and Kelly

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 3: You Gotta Believe

I've said many times having four sons is quite a funny joke God may have played on me, being the complete non-sports enthusiast I am.  That doesn't keep Number 1 from being the Number 1 fan of the University of Memphis basketball team. The same team that today won, by a single point in the last nail-biting seconds, a possible trip to the NCAA basketball tournament. Even I know that is a huge deal.  

A group of boys, many just a handful of years older than Number 1, were losing much of the game at the other team's home court.  The same team beat them by 27 points less than 2 weeks ago. A bunch of teenagers, coached by a 2nd year coach younger than I am, never gave up and pulled out a 1 point win at the very end of a long, exhausting game. And Number 1 jumped up, yelled at the top of his lungs and ran wildly through the house with sheer joy as the final second ticked off the clock.

You don't have to get into sports to get into that. Never give up. No matter how many points you're down or how far down you fall. Even when it's hard. Plain and simple, you gotta believe.

Another day, another story,

Friday, March 11, 2011

5 minute Friday: loved

I've been trying to find 5 minutes all day.  Surprising that even 5 minutes on a Friday could be so challenging to scrape together.  So I sit now as the last grains drain through the hourglass of today and write.

This week's writing prompt from The Gypsy Mama is I feel most loved when...


It's totally silent and ink dark most mornings.  Lately I've been snoozing three or four times out of sheer exhaustion.   I shuffle into the kitchen for tea I wonder what could possible be wrong with me.  I listen keenly to the promise of water heating to a boil in less than 2 minutes and watch the sun turn the sky every shade of pinky-orange I worry that my tiredness could be more than tiredness.  Thankfully before my hardly awake brain can process all the more-than-just-tired syptoms, the water is boiling, I pour tea and head to my prayer closet.  

In that short walk my whirlpooling thoughts shift.  I'm not fully awake, but in that tiny room sitting with only an unpredictable flicker I feel the most loved.  I repeat the breath prayer over and over reminding myself I am not alone.  That I am never alone. I am reminded that it's Him in whom I live and move and have my being.

I feel most loved when I connect with the One who's put me here. Today. When I take time to remember promises He made way before I existed.  Whether or not I feel His presence, I sit still in the dark and absorb the knowledge that He is here loving me as I am: exhausted, whirlpooling brain and all. 



Lent for the Rest of Us Day 2: Laugh. Every day.

"40 days of cheerful, uplifting funny or all of the above" is what I promised for Lent.  Today's funny is brought to you by Number 3 (surprise, surprise).

This video was shot in July 2009.  He is The Kindergartener now, but still reminds all who know him, to laugh. Every day.

Another day, another story,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent for the Rest of Us Day 1: Go For It

I don't know where I first heard this story, but it is pretty much my all-time favorite and I frequently quote it to friends who are trying to make a decision, get out of a rut, go for something. After a couple of clicks, I found out it came from a Dear Abby column years ago. It makes perfect sense out of seemingly impossible goals or dreams. It applies as easily to a cooking class or move across the country. A lifelong dream or skydiving whim. Whether you're 20 or 62, it's simply never too late. 

DEAR ABBY: I am a 36-year-old college dropout whose lifelong ambition was to be a physician. I have a very good job selling pharmaceutical supplies, but my heart is still in the practice of medicine. I do volunteer work at the local hospital on my time off, and people tell me I would have made a wonderful doctor.

If I go back to college and get my degree, then go to medical school, do my internship and finally get into the actual practice of medicine, it will take me seven years! But, Abby, in seven years I will be 43 years old. What do you think? -- UNFULFILLED IN PHILLY

DEAR UNFULFILLED: And how old will you be in seven years if you don't go to medical school?

Another day, another story,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent, For the Rest of Us

I am no where near as Lenty, or Adventy for that matter, as Lib.  Around here, we're honestly doing good to get to church showered, dressed and without illness 2 or 3 Sundays a month.  So for the past week while my friends have been talking about giving up Facebook or chocolate or caffeine for 40 days, I just kind of zoned out.  Isn't that a Catholic thing? What does giving up Facebook have to do with Lent, Easter, God anyway?  

Seems like another way to go is to add something meaningful to your life for the 40 days of Lent.  Maybe special reading, meditation or quiet time.  Hmmmmm...I've got a lot I'm not getting done every day already.  Besides, we're Methodist.

During this time of year - post-Christmas, gray and dreary doldrums of February and March - I usually fall into a rut.  A boring lull until the real Spring has sprung with its cheery sunshine and constant 72〫flip flop weather.  The same old same old is draining.

So I hereby make up my own Lenten tradition. In addition to my regular "Mother of 4 boys/ I can't believe they said, ate, did that/ juggling it all" posts, I'm going to post something cheerful, uplifting, funny or all of the above every day for the next 40 days. 

40 posts combining giving up giving into the monotony with finding and adding joy to my (and hopefully many others') day. Feel free to link up your own.  Before you know it, we'll be smooth sailing into Spring's homestretch.

Another day, another story,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lent: This week's juggling act

Ash Wednesday 2010
Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent tomorrow. This part of the Church year is filled with heavinesss that culminates in the greatest act of Love the world has ever witnessed.  Have you thought about it?

Since I tend to live life primarily as a reactor, I've purposely brought the topic of Lent up for discussion with the baintrain at breakfast and dinner.  I didn't want to cram someonelse's Lenten idea down the baintrain's throat just to spiritually keep up with the Joneses - whoever they are!  I've prayed for direction, listened to far-fetched fasting ideas and ordered books.

Juggling spiritual anything is awfully tricky since you can only see the fruit of it later.  During Lent I'll be juggling these slippery balls: Making room for the spiritual {re}newal of love in my own and my boys' hearts.  Pointing and directing-yes; not forcing compliance with a long list of heart-choking rules.
Creating a space in the next 40 days for each member of our family to remember they've got everlasting love in their hearts and for them to put that love in action toward each other. 
Trimming and fitting God-love goggles on a 13, 11, 8 and 5 year old.  
Impressing on these sweet hearts entrusted to me that gratitude is the way to turn the key in the lock of an unbelievable miracle, a mundane Tuesday or an unexpected twist in the road.

So, while baseball begins, school work continues and the laundry still (always!) needs putting away, we'll be adding instead of fasting. We're pulling out our wreath, following a family recipe and focusing on Love.  

The action Love He had for us long before our feet ever hit this Earth.  The daily Love reminders He fills our lives with.  The world changing love we embody when we open our hearts to life as it is and give thanks.

How about you, juggling anything {almost} invisible?

Linked with Ann and Kristen

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Trifling with Bean Cake

I wanted to make a bean cake over the weekend, but forgot how challenging they are to remove from a round cake pan.  After trying (and dismally failing) to get the layers out in almost one piece, I conceded defeat and created a trifle with half of the cake pieces.  Then a breakfast parfait with other half of the demolished cake. 

The baintrain scarfed the trifle down so quickly, I didn't even have a chance to snap a picture.  Which was fine, since the blueberries kinda turned the cake an odd color.  Keep that in mind, no matter what kind of cake you use for this recipe. 

:: Bean Cake Trifle or Parfait::
make 10 servings, however it's assembled

1 recipe vanilla bean cake or chocolate bean cake cooled and cut into 1" squares
Homemade berry syrup
1 pt Whipping cream for the trifle
plain/vanilla yogurt for the parfait

If you are making this for dessert, make the cake and syrup in the morning, so everything has time to cool down.  

While your cake is baking make the syrup:  Add to a small sauce pan: 2 c frozen berries with 3/4 c water, the juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 c sweetener (you know I used xylitol).  Once it's come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Stir in 2 t cornstarch or arrowroot powder dissolved in 1/4 c. water, bring back to a boil and remove from heat.  Cool for about an hour.   
Trifle: Once the cake and sauce are cooled, the assembly is a snap.  In a glass bowl layer cake, berry syrup and whipped least 3 times.  Serve it to your adoring public and make them very happy that the cake you'd originally planned to take to church didn't work out so well.  
Parfait:  Mix together 3/4 c. of cooled berry syrup with 1 1/2 c plain or vanilla yogurt. Alternate layers of cake with yogurt mixture.  Serve with fresh or frozen berries on top. 

The bean cake is so perfect for both of these breakfast/dessert recipes.  It stays moist and never gets soggy, so theoretically you could make a big trifle and serve it for dessert and breakfast.  I didn't have enough whipping cream to make that happen.  And I'm not sure if there had been adequate cream, that any would have made it to breakfast, because it's What about Bob good...
Linked here there and yon: Jen, Frugal Rachel, Kristin, Laura, Alli Sara and Kelly


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