I'm baking bread tonight. We had a simple dinner, a soup we call Winter Pottage. It's one of my very favorites. My favorite foods always seem to be the simplest combinations. The bread didn't get done to go with the meal, but it will be a nice treat for Jake and Cora when they get home from the Wednesday night activity with the youth of our church. Jake goes every week as part of what he does for church, but Cora really wanted to go tonight, and I'm glad she was able to. All I know is someone needs to bottle the scent of this bread baking. Dear Bath and Body Works, give me a portion of the profits. Thanks.

I went Christmas shopping after I dropped Cora off at school. I was going to look at something in particular, a bike, but we're going to hold off and get her that for her birthday. I spent over 30 minutes wandering around Target, and when I was getting in line to check out, I looked in the basket and saw that it was empty. It was a miracle.

I did run into a mom of one of Cora's classmates. I was telling her I had no idea what to get for Magnolia (Cora got a kitchen and an easel for her second Christmas, but she was four months older than Magnolia at this point - which is a lot). She told me her daughter loved a little dog called Violet, and I asked her to take me to it! It was love at first sight. I didn't get it because I didn't want her to know we had it, but it is on sale right now, so I need to sneak away childless before the week is out. I also wanted to look at the reviews on Amazon (I'm crazy like that), and apparently all children who have this little dog love it. If you're still looking for the perfect gift for your little tot, Violet by LeapFrog. I think it's going to be a hit. [There's also a green one named Scout.]

Winter Pottage

2 TBL oil
1 large onion, diced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
pinch of salt
5 1/2 cups broth or water
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1/2 cup rutabaga, peeled and chopped
1 cup cabbage, sliced
1 cup broccoli
1-2 dashes of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium in stock pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, and pinch of salt. Cook 7-8 minutes to soften.
Add broth/water, sweet potato, rutabaga and cabbage.
Simmer 20 minutes or until sweet potato and rutabaga are tender.
Add broccoli and cook 5 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Simple Whole Wheat Bread


My great uncle is dying. Dementia began invading his mind a few years ago. Last week he had a stroke, and because of his DNR and his now inability to feed himself, he is in his final days. He hasn't had any food since Saturday, so it's just a matter of time. I keep hearing things about his heart. They say it's strong. It's keeping him alive.

Magnolia was lying across my lap tonight as I was rocking her to sleep. I put my hand on her chest to feel her little heart beating. It was there so strong and consistent, doing just what it's supposed to do. Doing what Uncle Bud's has done so well for over 86 years now. The heart that started beating before he took his first breath, when he occupied the womb of his mother. The heart made by his mother and father. Beating and beating and beating away. It's such a strange feeling that everyone is waiting on it to stop doing the only thing it knows how to do. But its time will come, his time will come. And the hope I carry with me is that his mind and spirit and body will all be restored to a perfect form.

I've been working on a piece of writing for years, all centered around something Uncle Bud asked Grammy in a letter years ago, "When did we become the oldest generation?" All of my great aunts and uncles are my "gentle giants." I love them deeply and dearly. And they are all falling. I know I've been lucky. They've all lived long full lives, and no one can dwell on earth forever, but the world feels a little sadder without their presence. I miss them breathing the same air as me. I am without words to describe my gratitude for memories, and I hope that nothing will take them away from me.

A Cake.

Yesterday was Jake's 27th birthday. I wanted to do something great for him. I had an idea for the perfect present, but decided to hold off a bit. After some thinking about what to do instead, I had it!

I was going to make him a German Chocolate Cake.

It's his favorite, and he hasn't had any in the almost year since we've adopted a vegan diet. I made my weekly menu because we were in desperate need of a grocery shopping trip, and then I started searching for the perfect recipe. I found it really fast. I knew it was perfect because it was from the recipe book of a tea room in New York called Alice's Tea Cup.

[Click on the picture for a link to the recipe]

As soon as we got to the store, the girls went into meltdown mode. We had to get in and get out, an they didn't even have the Christmas lights we wanted, so I coaxed Cora into going to Target to see if they had any lights. Nope. I called every store I could think of in OKC, and nobody has white LED C9 lights. I digress, needless to say, a trip to Whole Foods to get unsweetened dairy-free chocolate was out, so I didn't make the ganache that the recipe calls for. It was okay.

I was literally in the kitchen for over 3 hours between dinner and this cake. My perfectionist streak was going full force. Luckily Magnolia took a long nap. I've never been a fan of German Chocolate Cake, mostly the coconut frosting, but I can't even begin to describe how amazing the frosting was. I could have eaten the whole bowl full with a spoon. Who needs chocolate when you have that frosting? Yes, I just said that.

Cora was in charge of decorating our house. We made paper chain garlands. Just before he got home, we turned out all of the lights because Cora wanted to surprise him. Surprise, check. We ate one of our favorite chili recipes as per Jake's request. I ate mine super fast. I was so giddy about what was waiting in the fridge.

When the time came, Cora spilled the beans, Jake's jaw dropped, and we feasted on this cake that was literally worth its weight in gold, though not before we sang Happy Birthday and he blew out the candles. In the midst of cake eating, I asked Jake a question...There is an amazing bakery in his hometown, Kalico Kitchen, and they make the best of everything...I asked him how this cake compared to theirs. Without hesitation, he said, "It's way better."

And I decided that was a good way of describing Jake. Of all the things in the world that are great, he is way better.


All the things we talk about
You know they stay on my mind.

Good Charlotte was pretty much the it band my senior year. Aside from the songs that made it big, two that didn't were my favorites. They were both tied to random afternoon encounters with different people I went to school with. The first is Say Anything, and the second, Emotionless.

I was a self-proclaimed radio junkie back then. I don't listen to music all that much anymore. I mean, I do, but nothing like back then. Maybe it's because the freaking bad you-know-what women of my adolescence are no longer injecting me with their lyrics. I miss their voices: Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Paula Cole, Fiona Apple, Natalie Merchant, Lisa Loeb, Lauryn Hill, Shawn Colvin, Tracy Chapman, Sinead O'Connor, and others. I'm glad Sheryl Crow has managed to stick it out. And I try to branch out, really, I do, but today's artists just don't do it for me like the ones who led the 90's into the 00's. It wasn't just the ladies. Counting Crows, Coldplay, Hootie and the Blowfish, complete awesomeness.

I guess I'm just stuck in a time warp. I'm okay with it. Except that I'm not. My generation completely lost the ball. There are a few great artists out there, but for heaven's sake, we literally became adults as the Iraq war was born, and where were our civil unrest anthems? I've been listening to Woody Guthrie's Dustbowl Ballads. We have way more to be singing about than the superficial buzz that everyone buys into.

I miss songs that I actually want to have in my head for decades because they mean something - they added meaning to my experiences. Some of my best memories are unconsciously set to a soundtrack. I guess I should finally really learn how to play guitar.

On My Mind

Five years ago, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I was overflowing with joy. I told everyone I saw. I even told random strangers because I couldn't help myself. We'd been trying for a little while, and the negative results in the previous months has been devastating.

The timing was perfect. Tell all of the family on Thanksgiving. It was what we were grateful for. In early December, morning sickness sank in and stayed with me for weeks. We were able to go to Arizona for Christmas, and it was wonderful to share our joy with my family in person.

On New Year's Day, everything started to come a part. I wrote about it back then, so I won't relay the entire experience again, but I've been thinking about it a lot. I'm sure part of it is the time of year. In the midst of these thoughts, I found that two sweet couples in our families have miscarried. For one couple, it's still very new, they're still waiting on the results of the last blood test. That was the worst part. Not having a definitive answer for several days. Two ultrasounds, two rounds of blood tests, dopplers, hours and hours in hospitals and doctors offices.

I'll always be glad my doctor said he wanted to see what my body would do on its own before we scheduled a d&c. My body handled it perfectly, and it was a great part of my healing. I was able to see the form that would have been my baby, and because of that, I was able to disassociate what actually was from the idea that it was going to be my sweet warm pink cuddly baby.

The reality was a little walnut-sized fetus, curled up inside of its sac. Still in "seahorse" stage (around eight weeks if you have an embryonic chart handy), but about the size of what an eleven week fetus should be. I actually miscarried at 12 weeks. Something had gone wrong. I knew it. And seeing it for myself made it all less mysterious. Having a visual was also pretty traumatic at the time, but like I said, it was a big part of my healing.

A few days before it actually happened, I told a friend that we were more than likely miscarrying, and she told me the thing that brought me the most peace, especially after being able to see this little thing I'd had such high hopes for. She told me God was just waiting for the right body for my baby. I felt less like I'd lost a child, and more like I just had to wait longer for Cora.

When I got pregnant with Cora, there was less fanfare. We were so cautious with who we told. I started spotting when I was ten weeks pregnant with her, and for as well as I thought I handled everything emotionally when I miscarried, I completely fell a part at the thought of losing her. I already knew she was a girl, I felt a connection to her. I knew she was alive inside of me.

Last night, I walked out of the bathroom after starting a bath, and I looked out to two beautiful sets of eyes staring right at me. It was so touching. We stayed there for several seconds. Their eyes locked with mine, and this Thanksgiving season, I can hardly comprehend the the ways I've been blessed.

I guess the growth that has come in the nearly five years since I miscarried has transformed its meaning for me, especially now that I'm a mother, and in the throes of motherhood with small children (one night this week I got 5 hours of sleep, another night 3.5 - and yes, all the while fighting a sinus infection). A while back a friend posted a quote from an advice blog of a mother of 11 children. It's talking about how every little thing we do as a mother is important.

"They all add up to beauty -- your little touches, moments of eye contact, stories read, cookies baked, laundry folded, legos picked up (again). Your presence means security. Your are the sun -- the center of their world. A lot of responsibility, I know -- but a warm place to be."

These two sweet girls are the babies I prayed for. The ones I toiled over, fought for. They're here, and they're mine, and they sit at my dining table every night.

Day of Observance

Today I went and observed Cora's class. This is one of my favorite days so far as a mother.

Each parent has an opportunity to come in throughout the school year. Cora's PT conference was last Friday, so I thought I'd see if I could get in my observation before Thanksgiving because Cora had been asking if I could go to school with her.

Parents are supposed to be a sort of fly on the wall. We have a special chair we sit in, and if children come up to us, we softly remind them that we're just there to watch. From the moment we stepped into the room, Cora was beaming over me being there. She did all of her work just as she should, and all the while, she would look over and find me and smile. She was SO PROUD of herself, and especially proud that I was there to see all the things she could do.

I don't quite know how to put the feelings into words other than I hope she'll always be so glad to show me the things she can do, and that she'll always be able to feel the pride and love I have for her and all that she is and does.

She is just the sweetest, most darling girl. She is so attentive and perceptive. Sensitive and loving. She knows how the world ticks. She knows how to read people. I am so in-love with her and happy I had the opportunity to see inside her world of independence.

PS: Before we officially knew that Cora would be at her school, I said how much I wanted her to be there. Several people said not to worry because she would do great wherever she was. I have no doubt about her greatness, but I'm thankful she gets to be in such a great learning environment that compliments her so well.

Clean Sheets...sort of.

Today my goal in life was to clean the bedrooms.

I stripped each bed, mattress protectors and all, gave my self three extra loads of laundry on purpose, and went to work.

I had a migraine last night and it stuck with me through the morning. I look my medicine laced with caffeine upon rising, and while I can't attribute it solely to caffeine as it's never done much for me, when my migraines go away after my meds, I do, in fact have a burst of energy. Couple that with more than 6 hours of interrupted sleep, and...

I really can be productive.

I didn't finish all of the rooms. Cora's took me almost three hours. Like I started it when I got home from taking her to school, and I wasn't quite done when I went back to get her. And I still have to mop the floors and finish my ongoing top of the dressers quest of cycling through their clothes. I did go through all of their toys and two sacks are ready to find a new home. [Meemaw - If you read this, does the resource center take toys? I'll probably forget to ask you.] And I cleaned out all of her little toy cubbies. They were dusty/grungy inside.

I also weather-proofed the windows almost all the way. So, remember how Dot has a ton of windows? Right, and remember how she's 90 years old? Well, it just so happens that her windows are 90 years old, too. We're talking wavy glass. One of our conditions when we bought the house was that all of the windows be able to open (they'd long since been painted shut), and that all of the windows have screens. We didn't really think that one through as far as paint being a sort of sealant. And just in-case you were wondering, because Dot is in an historic preservation neighborhood, the rules about the windows go against the good sense of sustainability.

While filling gaps around the windows with the most amazing thing called rope caulk, I saw some crazy stuff. One of the windows in her room is only touching three sides of its four-sided casing. I'm going to have to get my caulk gun after that one. I couldn't believe the space between some of the upper and lower windows where they slide across one another. The rope caulk has 8 little coils/ropes all together, and you can peel however many you need to fill the gap. We're talking some three coil gaps.

I loved making the beds. When you just change sheets, you pull your old ones off and put the ones in the closet on your bed, right? Well, I always want to put the same ones I just washed and dried back on in all of their warm Downy splendor. I could be perfectly happy with one set of sheets with the exception of emergency situations, like when babies barf in my bed at night.

Anyway, I put boring old sheets on all of the beds, BUT, I'd washed all of the blankets and quilts. It's amazing how fresh linens make a whole house smell better. I suppose that coupled with the fact that sewer water is no longer leaking under our house account for the joy my sense of smell knows. It's a good thing we're tight on fundage this month because I got Bath and Body Works's email letting me know that wallflower sets are $6 right now. I could go crazy on good smelling stuff as a celebratory measure that Dot no longer has an odor issue. I'll just celebrate under a clean quilt tonight.

Tomorrow I'll see what more I can get done on my fall cleaning kick, and hopefully the spurt of energy I had today will be return tomorrow without stimulant intervention.

I Have to Remind Myself

Money is tight this month.

1. We're making repairs to Dot's sewer line and cleaning up the mess it caused under our house.
2. Cora's tuition for the spring was due.
3. Jake's student loans went into repayment.

I never wanted money to be the issue. It was a big issue for most of my growing up life, and I didn't want it to be something I worried about.

Jake's job makes ends meet (barely), but it's lacking things like retirement and health benefits. Because of the (barely), it's hard to put extra away. It also has the craziest pay periods I've ever heard of. The official school year starts mid-August, but he doesn't get paid until the end of September. His last paycheck for the fall semester is in December, and then he doesn't get paid until the end of February. His last paycheck for Spring semester is the end of May. That's right - June, July, August, and basically all of September are paycheck-less.

He works gigs throughout the summer, but it isn't steady income, so every thing we save throughout the school year goes to make it through summer. Basically, it's hard to see this job with any sort of long-term sustainability.

We don't live beyond our means. We've only ever used our credit card to rent a car. Actually, that's why we initially got a credit card. We also got a Best Buy card when we bought our house so we could spread the cost of our appliances out interest free. (If you qualify for a BB card, you get 18 months of no interest on anything you buy - so if you ever need a new appliance stat, keep them in mind.) That's it. We don't have smart phones, data plans, or unlimited texting, our car is six years old, our computer is four years old, we haven't had cable/satellite in almost seven years, etc. I think about these things a lot as a sort of reassurance that we try our best to keep our spending in check.

It would be so "easy" to double our income if I worked. And this is where the two-part reminder comes in for me.
1. Being able to stay at home with my girls is a luxury, blessing, something I'm so glad I'm able to do. I don't think it would have been a possibility if we would have had Cora at a different time and become dependent on two incomes.
2. Choosing to stay at home is a sacrifice.
When I think of these two reasons together, they help ease the burden of finances, knowing that this is our choice and that we had a choice.

I mean, I don't need to be like some of the stay-at-home moms around my age with kids around my kids' ages who drive 80,000 vehicles and live in million dollar homes [this isn't a judgment on them, more power to them for being able to]. I just want my little Dot Spot and Staci Car, and a little cushion so sewers and tires don't break the bank. It's hard to know what you love to do, but try to figure out a way to "make it" comfortably on the income society has deemed that job to be worth.

End Times

We've been having earthquakes in Oklahoma. The big one was on Saturday night. [5.6]. Jake and I now have a grab our girls and get out of the house plan.

It's Monday night, and tornadoes have been roaring through southwestern Oklahoma. The storms are just about to come through Oklahoma City. There's talk of flooding.

Okay we just had another earthquake. No joke. It was smaller. My heart is pounding though. Let's see, it would have been 8:47 PM. This is a perfect segue into what I've been thinking about.

What happens if an earthquake happens at the same time a tornado warning is going on? Being in a basement during an earthquake isn't a good idea, and being outside during a tornado is a definite no.

[and the earthquake that just happened was a 4.7]

This wasn't going to be all about the apocalypse taking place in Oklahoma, but I mean, really. I'm afraid if I keep writing on the topic, a category five hurricane will spawn itself over Lake Hefner. Be nice to my 90-year-old Dot, you crazy natural disasters.

[and the thunder rolls...]

I guess I'll come back tomorrow to talk about what had really been on my mind [tantra]. I mean, I hope I'll be back tomorrow.

A Case of You

I can't believe I've never heard this song before. Joni Mitchell, you've got a way about you. [And James Blake, thank you for this cover.]

Just before our love got lost you said
"I am as constant as a northern star"
And I said "Constantly in the darkness
Where's that at?
If you want me I'll be in the bar"

On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh Canada
With your face sketched on it twice
Oh you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

I remember that time you told me you said
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
"Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed"

Oh but you are in my blood
You're my holy wine
You're so bitter, bitter and so sweet

Oh, I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet


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