Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Munchies: Half Moon Sweet Potatoes

My youngest daughter has chosen sweet  potatoes as her very favorite vegetable and one of her favorite foods.  As a result, I've started making a lot more sweet potato side dishes.  I've discovered that for the rest of my family to enjoy them, sweeter is better.  Here's a quick and easy recipe for sweet potatoes that can easily be adapted for one or a crowd.

Sweet Potato Half Moons

one sweet potato
2 T butter, melted
cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 400.  Peel sweet potato, cut it in half and slice it in half inch (or less) slices.  Place sweet potato slices on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Brush with  melted butter.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until sweet potatoes are soft and edges are browned.  If you like crispy sweet potatoes feel free to bake them longer.

For my family of six I slice and bake two sweet potatoes.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Same Song, Different Verse

Being a teenager is hard.  Having a teenager is harder.  I keep trying to forget that I have three more teenagers coming. 

Last night K15 sang us a different verse of the same old song.  We took her to a friend's house.  An adult was suppose to bring K home before 11pm.  We don't let K ride in cars with teenagers.  K knows this.  Her friend knows this.  Unfortunately, once again, K thought she wouldn't get caught or she didn't think at all.  She got in the car with a teenage driver then lied about it.  She didn't come clean until we presented all the facts to her. 

The upside is that my family room and bathroom are really clean.  The downside is that I have no clue what it's going to take to get my daughter to walk in obedience. 

I see her tears and contrite spirit after she is caught and feel for her.  It's hard not to fit in because your rules are, well, rules.  So many of her friends don't have boundaries or if they do the boundaries are flexible or negotiable.  Some of her friends know their parents won't be checking up on them.  Some of her friends know their parents expect them to ___________ because kids will be kids.  Our rules are black and white.  They center around personal safety and responsibility.  K knows what is allowed and she knows why.  She doesn't always like our rules or agree with them but she never has to wonder if something is going to get her into trouble or not.  She knows.

Even with clear guidelines, staying out of trouble is not always so cut and dry.  It's hard to say, "I'm not allowed" when you are 15 and no one with you has the same rules.  It's hard to be part of a group that will be hanging out long after you have left.  It's hard not to be invited because everyone knows that your parents won't let you _______. 

Keeping a 15 year old safe and sheltered feels next to impossible sometimes.  She fights it.  The world around us fights it.  It seems inevitable that she's going to face all those dangers that we try to keep her from.  Someday, she will have to make her own choices.  Someday she will get into cars with the people that she chooses, not her dad or me.  Someday she will decide how late she stays out and with whom.  Someday but not yet.

My prayer is that by the time she is making those decisions without my supervision she'll be ready to take as good care of herself as I take of her.  I pray that she will value herself as much as I value her.  I pray that she will require others to value her as well.  I pray that when she's making her choices she will hear the words of love preaching safety and responsibilty in her heart and that she will choose well.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weekly Recap: February 20-24, 2012

We spent Monday traveling home from Indiana where we spent a long weekend visiting with friends and family.  The trip was longer than we'd planned because of an accident.  On our trip we listened to Robinson Crusoe and watched Felicity (American Girl) and Sybil Luddington. 

S9 began running a fever on the trip home so we had to make a stop for over the counter medicine to deal with the fever and headache.  Tuesday he still wasn't feeling his best and the rest of us were dragging because of the late night so we decided to spend the day at home.  You know everyone is tired when a day of rest sounds better than a co-op carnival.

Thankfully, a day of rest put us all back on our feet and we finished the week strong.  I even managed to find a dentist and make several much needed appointments for various doctors.  It's only taken me a year to get that done.

Highs and lows will have to wait for next week.  I'd be willing to guess that the high for everyone this week was time spent with friends and the low was getting back to work and life as usual.

Finding Joy in the Less Than Perfect

Today I took my beautiful 15 year old daughter to the dermatologist.  Not because of her skin but because of her hair.  Six years ago she was diagnosed with alopecia areata.  If you haven't heard of alopecia before it's hair loss that occurs in small round patches on the scalp.  Some specialists believe that alopecia is an auto-immune disease.  There is also the belief that alopecia is brought on by stress.  It seems to be cyclical.  If you read much about alopecia you'll learn that while it can be treated, treatment is not always successful.  You'll also learn that alopecia can progress to total hairloss, everywhere.  For me it's better not to read or think about it too much.  My daughter has adopted the same strategy. We've been really fortunate so far.  This is our fourth round of treatment for alopecia.  Each time we've caught it earlier and we've been able to reverse the hair loss.  

As a result of our experience with alopecia we find joy in a new dermatologist that we like.  We find joy in a familiar diagnosis.  We find joy in getting the spot treated quickly.  We find joy in scalp injections that will reverse hair loss.  We find joy in regrowth.  We find joy in bad hair days. 

It's easy to get caught up in and focus on the things that aren't perfect in life.  It's easy to forget how much is right in our world.   In a way, our alopecia experience is a reminder of all that is right in our lives.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday

Last night we celebrated Fat Tuesday with just our family.  This is really different from our normal celebration with neighbors and friends.  Fat Tuesday is usually a production at our house.  This year it followed too closely after two birthdays, Valentine's Day and a five days of travel over President's Day weekend.  I decided it was better to remain sane and enjoy the day rather than pack in one more thing.
Family Fun magazine supplied me with some delicious recipes for the day. 
King Cake
Big Easy Shrimp Etouffee
We finished dinner off with chocolate fondue, strawberries, marshmallows and bananas.

In preparation for Lent I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to focus on during this season of sacrifice.  My husband commented a few weeks ago that my temper is quicker now than it has been in the past.  My first response to his observation was, predictably, anger and denial.  That was quickly followed by the thought that because he's around more often, this is the first time in two years that he really has any idea how I feel on a daily basis.  I know, that's still a pretty angry response.

After some thought, I realized that irritation has become a default emotion.  Really, it seems easier to be irritated than to really deal with the sources of irritation.  I'm not happy with several areas in my life.   The source of my dissatisfaction can be traced to a lack of discipline.  But really, who likes discipline?  I want to exercise daily, eat well, take care of my loved ones, grow closer to God, live the perfect life, without effort.  I don't want to work at it, plan it or force myself to do it.

Of course, you can see the problem.  Even in my irritation, I understand that my expectations are unrealistic.  Taking care of a family of six requires planning and intention.  Having daily time for activities that I consider a priority requires discipline.  Sometimes things do just happen but if a thing is to happen regularly, it must be planned regularly.

This Lenten season, my focus is on sacrificing selfishness.  I'm going to give up irritation as my first response.  My intention is that over the next forty days I will develop some habits that make me less irritated and more grounded.  I intend to catch up on my Bible study.  I intend to participate in some kind of physical activity five days a week.  I intend to write each day.  All of these activities appear to be all about me.  What I've discovered is that if I take care of these things, I feel more accomplished and satisfied.  As a result, I'm able to roll with the events of the day. 

For Lent this year I'm going to take better care of myself so that I can take better care of others.  I want this season of Lent to represent the sacrifice of irritation and an increase of joy.  Check back with me in forty days and I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Be Mine

You never know when you make a promise
What will follow.
All magic comes with a price.
How can you be sure the price is worth paying?

Dazzled by magic,

Swept off my feet.
More than twenty years ago, I made a promise.
The price has been high.

Tears and joy.
Pain and bliss.
Sleepless nights and frantic days.
Four of the most magical creatures ever.

If you asked me again
Would my answer to the question
Remain the same?
Be mine?


Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Munchies: Beer Bread

For the last nine years I've been a consultant for a company that sells easy-to-prepare food.  One of my favorite products is beer bread.  Here's a less-expensive and super easy way to have delicious bread in an hour. 

Beer Bread

3 cups flour - scoop loosely
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) can beer
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients.
Add beer and stir until just mixed.  Over mixing will make the bread too dense, think brick.
Pour into a greased loaf pan.
Pour melted butter over mixture.
Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book Review: Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Rather than reviewing this book, I feel the need to respond to it.

This story spoke to me as being a story about woman.  The setting of the 19th century gave a backdrop that provides clear roles and expectations of women.  The characters came from all walks of 19th century life.  Agatha, Aunt Charity, Bertha, Charolette, Frannie, Mary, Maria, Margaret, Mrs. Macy/Maynard, Rebekkah, Sallie, Susan.  The pages are populated with women and their stories.  The common thread among all these women was their purposefulness.  No matter the course these women chose, they did so with intent.  Too often, the lives of women are presented as a side line.  The result of a choice or action of a man.  A consequence.  Clearly, while these women were affected by the men in their lives they were not determined by them.

I can't say that I liked all the women or that their choices would have been mine.  I can't say that I agree with their philosophies, perspectives, or conclusions.  I can't say that, if I'd lived in the same place, at the same time, I would have befriended all of them.  I hope I would.  I hope I would have been able to open myself up to the possibility of someone different adding value to my life. 

I also hope that, in my day to day life, I am able to show the strength of purpose and intent that these characters show.  I also hope that, in my day to day life, I am able to remember that being similar does not mean we are the same and that differences bring life.