Thursday, March 31, 2011

Food for Thought

I've shared this before, but bread-making has become a hobby of mine. I only bake once a week since my recipe makes two loaves, but I love the process. The goop...

And the stirring...

The more goop, and the kneading:

Since I started baking, several friends have wondered why I don't buy a bread machine and save myself the work. I gladly use the washing machine to scrub laundry (Gift #652), so why not use a bread machine for bread?

I've never had a good answer to the question; usually I mumble something about exercising my forearms, fresh ingredients, the weather, or bubble gum. (I'm eloquent like that.)

Because to be perfectly honest . . . I really didn't know. I just had this this feeling:

When I mix and knead and wait wait wait for dough to rise, I think. Most times, I just think about life -- its many questions and few answers.

But other times, I get lost in stories of my grandma, who passed away when I was young. One of many testimonies about her life is how she baked for the family: my grandfather, my dad, his three big brothers and one little sister.

She baked bread not because she had some silly hobby. (Like me.) Or an aversion to paying $2.50 for a store-bought loaf. (Like me.) Or a child with dairy allergies. (Like me.)

She baked bread because her family ate bread. They didn't want to munch some low-carb lettuce wrap for lunch; they needed fresh bread!

It was an act of love, of time and service. . . made with her own hands. When her family ate that bread, it was her work that nourished them.

And somehow, bread-making feels like a connection to her, to that legacy.

I like that, especially since I didn't have long to know her here. But maybe I've really known her my whole life -- in my dad, my uncles and aunts and cousins, my own kids. Myself

Of course, I'm not anti-bread-machines any more than I'm anti-dishwashers (Gift #653).

But I think I know what's to love about dough in my hands, shaping something for family. I hope it would make my grandma Susie glad, knowing it's still happening in her family.

(And I also hope she wouldn't be upset about those ridiculous blue fingernails. Sorry, reader!)

**Oh, and since I'm a scatterbrain and didn't think of it earlier, here's a link to the recipe. I never use as much sugar as it calls for; you can get away with closer to a tablespoon if you just want a simple sandwich bread. Sometimes I use bread flour, and other times I just use plain ol' white flour. It turns out great and is super easy either way! If you want a whole-wheat alternative, I love Memo's Brown Bread. Enjoy!

Craving buttered bread,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

To Be Honest

As we discussed last week, it's a fact of life that kiddos need supervision. Given time and freedom to explore, children will stumble into mischief. They might, like Little Man, turn into aspiring photographers.

Brushing my teeth as Little Man snaps a picture.
(And so I pay the debt to my children by posting a ridiculous picture of myself, too.)


Other times, kidlets may make a mess and try to hide the evidence. Last week I printed a schedule onto what I thought was clean white paper:

Notice how the words printed onto the stickers? Which came first: the printing or the eggs?

And then there are days when mommy goes shopping solo -- when The Preacher keeps both kids so mommy can live a carseat- and sippy-cup-free afternoon.

Mommy returns home, two shopping bags heavier (and $20 lighter), to find another surprise. . .

(Yes, worry warts -- that's chocolate pudding. What else would it be? Sheesh.)

Someone asked me recently whether I thought a person could ever be ready for parenthood. After all, how could you possibly prepare for this stuff? My response was that you can, and should, spend time preparing:
your marriage,
your stability,
your cooking,
your budget,
and your mental health. (Among other things.)

But the truth is. . .

You'll never, ever be ready for kids.

That's half the fun of it. 

Learning to like surprises,

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Reader, have you ever lost anything?

Once in college, I was shopping in the Walmart bakery (Don't judge!) and walked away from my cart for a second. Turning back around, I discovered to my dismay that someone had taken my cart.

Later that day, a Walmart associate found my cart -- complete with purse, keys, and money -- safe and sound in the yarn aisle. Some dear knitter had apparently wandered off with it, not realizing she was a purse snatcher. Poor thing! I've often wondered what she looked like. Thoughts?

Losing something makes you appreciate it more, doesn't it? Several days ago, one of my eyes got a little blurry for reasons that have nothing to do with you, Gene Simmons, or the price of cheese in Belgium. Suffice it to say, things just weren't quite right.

I'm happy to report that prayer, grace, and a good night's sleep restored everything to normal. But do you know what that experience did? Yes, it made me happy to have already scheduled an eye appointment. More importantly, though. . .

That experience made me appreciate the things I see.

Take this, for instance:
The floor is smudged! No, that's not an invitation for you to say something reassuring about my housekeeping. (Although if you wanted to, I could give you my address; it's nice to have it in writing.)

The truth is, friend, that my floor is smudged for a good reason. Look at those tiny feet!

What a gift to see it clearly: the bare heels, the crinoline dress, the sunlight-stained floors.

To see my Princess' spunk, cheeks red from a springtime cold. . .

To live here in this place, right now, making memories and lifetimes out of moments and days --

That's a gift, and I need to say again to the God who graces me unconditionally, undeservedly:

Thank You.

Thank You every day.

Finding lots of good reasons not to mop,

Photo credit:

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Little Angel

Today Little Man was feverish, so he took it easy. What that meant for me was that I did tons of housework; somehow, having one less kiddo hanging on my leg helped me move faster.

What it meant for Royal Princess was that she had to occupy herself. (I heard you gasp. And laugh.)

(You're absolutely right.)

A busy almost-two-year-old is a dangerous little thing, especially when mommy is busy with this. . .

And this. . .

I kept Royal Princess occupied with bread for a few minutes. But for an almost-two-year-old, nothing lasts long. Least of all bread.

When she finished snacking, Royal Princess ran off to play quietly in her room. I felt like a success, teaching my daughter independence and creativity. But reader. . .

I was deceived. Ohhh, was I deceived!

Little Man made the sad discovery. "Uh, Mommyyyyy! Royal Princess* did something!"

Friend, she was proud of her work. So proud. But I gave her a stern talking-to. I fussed and lectured; I stood firm, a stout disciplinarian in the face of chaos.

Ok, so not really.

What I really did. . . was laugh. And take pictures.

Tell me: What would you have done?

Hoodwinked by this golden-haired girl,

*Names changed to protect the innocent

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pansies and Prison Time

Tonight both my babies went to bed early, burning hot with fever and not happy.

Life is mysterious that way, I guess. My children drift to sleep under their mama's prayers, hot tears falling from six tired eyes.

So I'm struggling tonight, friend. Sleepy, confused, frustrated and more than a little tempted to fuss.

But that wouldn't be any fun to read, now would it?

Instead, I'll tell you a story. A story that may have happened to me yesterday. A story that, after I shared it with The Preacher, might've inspired him to declare, "Sounds like a blog post!"

So here we are. For the sake of easy reading, let's just pretend for a moment that this really happened. Yesterday. To me, your faithful ShoeFitz.

As you may know, I recently had my first experience planting outdoor flowers. Don't you love pansies?

Me too. But the truth is, I'd bought too many for my hanging baskets. Way too many.

Not knowing anything about pansies, I wasn't sure what to do with the leftovers. My first thought was to plant them indoors, but I wasn't sure whether it would work. 

So I did what I always do when I have a question. I Googled it. Specifically, I typed these words: "pot pansies indoors."

Reader, I think I confused Google; you see, it changed the word "pansies" to "plants." And do you know what happens when you Google "pot plants indoors"? I do.

You get the Free Library Guide to Growing Marijuana Indoors. And the Top 10 Tips for Growing Your Own Pot. And other things that have nothing to do with pansies.

Thinking back over this (um, hypothetical?) story, I'm left with some questions. What in tarnation made Google change "pansies" to "plants"? Will the DEA appear at my doorstep to arrest me? Will I soon be blogging from the slammer?? *deep breaths*

(For the record, if you need to know whether to keep pansies indoors -- the short answer is no.)

And if you need me, I'll be hiding under the covers the next week.

Not at all sure how I got here,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Full Disclosure

For me, the most challenging part of blogging is its capacity for tight control. I know I've mentioned it before, but as I write I'm reminded of the power to share only our successes. I edit posts, retouch pictures, and choose happy stories from our days.

Why? In part, to encourage and bring you a smile. But also maybe, just a little. . . so you don't see my mess.

Like the fact that I desperately needed to vacuum before I took this picture:

(Or at least get my jeans out of the way?)

And then there's my questionable parenting. Here, Royal Princess researches fine wines. . .

And the camera catches me feeding my children healthy snacks. (Minus the healthy part.)

 Pay no attention to this orange child:

I usually blog about the pretty things in life. Sometimes they're silly, and sometimes they're serious. But the things I don't want to share?

Well, I just don't share 'em. So far, I've never taken a picture of my own short temper, impatience, frustration, grouchiness, or chubbiness.

(That's why God created the "delete" button on my camera.)

It doesn't mean those things don't exist. It doesn't mean we have things all figured out. Even though I'm straining to find joy, to be patient, to slow down and enjoy our family as we are today -- I fail. Often. 

I'm impatient to change quickly, but I find that even after all this walking. . . I still have have a long journey ahead.

And to be honest, I'm ok with that.

(I need the exercise. See "chubbiness.")

Philippians 3

Just wanted you to know,

Monday, March 21, 2011

Are You?

As a mom, some days I fret about last times. I wonder whether tonight will be the last time Little Man asks to sit on my lap; or the last time Royal Princess says, "Hey, Daddyyyy," in her sweet baby-girl voice.

I strain to remember: When was the last time Little Man needed help climbing into a chair? Or the last time he took a binkie to bed, or walked upstairs one. Slow. Step. At. A. Time? I don't recall, but I know this for certain-- they didn't happen today.

But then other days it hits me: While many days bring lasts, every day holds firsts. Fresh things ready to be enjoyed, new gifts ripe for the grasping.

Maybe your firsts today were momentous; or maybe, like mine, they were delicate, tiny. . . easily missed. For me, today was the first time I'd ever planted anything by myself. I'm thirty-something, and maybe a little behind, but today -- I had a first-time gift!

Gift #513: Finally finding courage to plant my pansies in their hanging baskets. 

And then there was Gift #514: Royal Princess' first real ponytail, long golden hair swept up messy.

The funny thing about firsts is that often they pass unnoticed. Do you remember the first time you brushed your teeth? Or tied your shoes? Or painted your fingernails? (Er...ladies?)

Firsts are easy to miss. Unless, that is. . .

We're looking.

Are you?


Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Big Brother

Growing up, I was the oldest of three daughters. (And I still am, to tell you the truth. Just don't ask how much older.) My poor dad was the only man in our house until we adopted a chihuahua; by that time, his three girls were teenagers.

(God bless my parents.)

When Little Man was born, I was clueless about how to raise a boy. And when Royal Princess came along, I couldn't relate to her growing up with an older sibling -- let alone a brother!

Watching my kidlings grow up together over the last 20 months, I've learned a few things about Life with Big Brother.

(*Note: This has nothing to do with that.)

For instance, sometimes Big Brother pushes you faster than you could ever run on your princess carriage. He loves feeling like your superhero, and you love danger; it works out perfectly for both of you. 

Lesson One: Big Brother can be awfully fun.

And then he tries to stick his yucky sock feet in your face. . .

Or give you a noogie.

Lesson Two: Sometimes it stinks to be the baby sister.

But then every so often, Royal Princess has one of those days. You know. . .

One of Those Days.

We leave a restaurant without buying her a cookie. She has to squeeze into her carseat again, when she's made it very clear she can't stand that thing. Life can be so hard; sometimes it just brings her to tears.

And I think, from what I've seen around our house -- maybe that's when she's most grateful to have her Big Brother.

Lesson Three: When everything else falls apart, grab Big Brother's hand and hold tight. He knows what he's doing, and as tough as he seems --

He'll always be your brother.

Learning something new every day,

Thursday, March 17, 2011


We've been busy this week, friends. So. Very. Busy.

If I'm not mistaken, so have you.

Even Royal Princess has worked more than usual this week. And if you know anything about almost-two-year-olds, you know how remarkable that is.

Little Man has run full-speed all week, too. Busy with learning, building, fighting, and playing, he's hardly slowed down enough to sleep. 

At the end of this busy week, I'm in sore need of inspiration. And coffee. And renewal. And coffee.

Maybe you're there, too?

So this weekend, as a mother (not yours, but still a mother) I'm telling you: It's time to relax. Maybe step outside your door and have an adventure.

Or just curl up with a buddy for a few minutes' peace.

(Yes, that's a picture of my children watching television. Don't judge!)

Whatever you do, enjoy the days you've been given. Try to slow down a bit, and give your loved ones your very best.

No, workaholic -- not just your best work. Instead, let's all try giving them our best time instead. That's the way to build memories.

That's the way to build a life.

Taking a timeout,

Shared here: Raising Homemakers

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Silly Question

As a graduate student in psychology, I've read a few ideas about how gender roles form. Do boys act like boys because they're born that way? Or are they rowdy because we raise them to act rowdy? And how do we explain girls' behavior? Nature or nurture?

It's a complicated question, and way out of my league. (You: *fainting with relief*) Yes, I'll leave that topic for another blogger -- maybe one who sleeps through the night. And who knows which day of the week it is. One who would definitely never do this.

Here, I'll just stick with the true story of our afternoon.

Today at the bookstore, a sweet cashier gave my kidlings each a free pack of silly bands. Royal Princess was quick to put them to use.

Stretchy rubber shapes + Royal Princess = bracelets. Naturally! Or whatever.

(By the way, isn't she dear?)

After I gave Little Man his silly bands, he ran to his room and played quietly for a long while. Upon emerging, he presented this:

In case you're not sure, that's Superboy. Tied up with silly bands. (Next time you think you're having a rough day, remember: You could be Superboy.)

Stretchy rubber shapes + Little Man = ropes to hold a captive.

In closing, I would just like to state for the record that: 1) As a child, I owned an indestructible Tonka truck;
2) on which I sat and made my little sisters pull me down the hall; until 3) they eventually disassembled my indestructible truck. (Looking back, I'm a little suspicious about how that all went down. . .)

At the end of the day, I'm not sure what this all means about the nature of life or gender or even silly bands. But I do know this: Both my kids are creative geniuses.

Raising Einsteins,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Remains

"You know, the days really drag, but the years fly by."

When I was a teacher, one of my students told me that as we prepared for her eighth grade graduation. At the time, it struck me as funny (and, um, maybe a little . . . frank).

But it's true, isn't it?

Tonight I'm feeling a tad sentimental about my kiddos. It's strange to feel that way since they're still small; this very moment, I have the joy of spending my days with them. How can I possibly be sentimental over something happening now?

It's just that every day they transform. They grow and change and learn. They grow and change and explore. Eventually, they'll grow and change. . . and go.

It won't be forever that Superman fills Little Man's imagination.

(But for now -- he's serious business!)

It won't be forever that Royal Princess flops about in heels too large.

(Even though for now, she can only manage one at a time.)

It won't be forever that I'll have kidlets pleading to sit with me for a picture.

(But for now. . . that picture makes me smile all over again.)

It's true that some things don't last forever -- moments among them. But those people? They do. That mysterious, eternal something in them? It won't fade.

As fleeting as these moments are, the more important things will stay. "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. 

But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV).

Loving imperfectly, but loving anyway,