Unexpected Beauty

Remember how I said I’m not that into cooking? Well, last night I wasn’t expecting to be creative when I set out to make dinner, but then this happened and I was impressed enough with it to capture my plate on film. So, maybe cooking is a way to express creativity after all. 

  
The bonus was watching my daughter devour her asparagus!

Self-Policing

In three days, I will be four months sober. I haven’t stepped into an AA meeting and I can’t say with certainty that I am an alcoholic, but I know I’m a sitting duck, an accident waiting to happen. I would say that my quitting was preventative or precautionary; if only it had stuck the first half a dozen times I had tried to quit before this one (somehow within 1-4 weeks of quitting, I was always able to convince myself that I was good and ready to drink like a normal person again – only to prove myself wrong within a 1-4 days).

See, this week I went into Costco with my mom and two children, which is an event in itself, but I exited an hour later to find my trunk door wide open. Somehow, nothing had moved an inch. How in the world had someone not stolen my laptop? Then, only two days after that, my mom and I took the kids down to the Riverwalk. When we returned to our car 90 minutes later, I noticed a note on my windshield. A Pearl Brewery Security Guard left me a note:

  
Holy. Moly. Where was my brain? My mom told me I needed to slow down. And I do. Heck, we aren’t even to the crazy rush our kids around stage yet.

I’m tying this all together, so hang with me. I guess what I’m saying is that even though no one ripped me off or stole my car and I, at the other end of the court, I haven’t gotten a DWI yet, I’m aware it’s possible. I’m taking my warning slip and slowing down.

Maybe it’s loss I’m fearful of. It’s much easier to pour a few glasses of wine after a rough day with the kids, relax a little and then let them off the hook for everything they do from 5pm until bedtime, but what happens when they get a little older? While I’m checking out with a few drinks on the back porch, what will be going on inside?

I’m a parent. This means being a grown up. This means bearing the responsibility of 24/7 childcare for the munchkins we brought into this world. Yes, I want a break. Yes, I need a break. And yes, I will get a break. But I’m pretty sure I can find “breaks” with less terrible consequences. So, for now, I’m on the old proverbial wagon. And when I look back at my childhood and all the ways alcohol has wounded my little spirit, I’m glad to be withholding unnecessary wounds from my kiddos. Thankfully, they can watch Spencer drink moderately and not have to roll their eyes at me for pouring glass after glass until I hit the sack. I want to be the same mom at 9am that I am at 9pm. I want to be able to operate a moving vehicle and engage in coherent conversation about My Little Pony or a recent unrequited love at any given moment. I don’t want to check out and miss these precious years because, while the days are often very long right now, I know that the years will fly by and we will have two grown children who will be off making their own decisions. And hopefully a few of our good ones will rub off on them.

 

Eating My Words

One of the most savory days of each month is our supper club night. 5 couples meet at one house to break bread. We all go to church together and live life together and there is nothing sweeter than bringing our husbands into the mix for a kid-free date night.

Last night, it was our turn to host. Spencer gets very excited to cook for people, so he was perusing recipes a week in advance. The only word I have to describe this process is adorable. My husband is a phenomenal cook, like his mom, only he generally keeps his talents hidden save for a few days each year. Yesterday was that day.

   

 Knowing he had to one-up the crab bisque he impressed pallets with during our last hosting, he opted again for the sea. This time he spent way too much money on Mahi Mahi for fish tacos. He made a special sauce from scratch that required fermenting the night before. He also opted for a highly complex Mexican Spanish saffron rice to accompany our tacos. He grilled the fish out back and then displayed it on a cutting boards like so:

 It was marvelous.

Why this matters? I’m not an exceptional cook or a stand-out host, but I enjoy seeing people whom I love operating in their gifts. I don’t want to compare myself with anyone because God made us all so different for specific reasons, like parts of a body – I assume I’m something essential like an appendix or spleen – but I admire the whole cooking thing. My mother-in-law was once cutting up some veggies and said, “I thought that was pretty creative.” I don’t remember exactly what she did. I’m sure it tasted excellent, but I’d never considered cooking an actual art until she made that comment. For her, it is. Maybe it’s because I’ve had such food issues in the past. And I’m sure many people feel that way about writing – they see words as necessary to express thoughts, but couldn’t care about a fancy turn of phrase or a witty pun. Then there are those who aren’t interested in writing at all, but they appreciate something well written. That’s how I am with food. I appreciate something artfully prepared. Sure, it may be gone in 15 minutes, but creativity was expressed and enjoyed by those surrounding them. I hope I can do that with my words. Cook up tasty little pieces that people can curl up in a chair and enjoy munching on.

So, yeah for dinner clubs! Yeah for cooks! And yeah for writers! Let’s keep our eyes on our own plates, shall we.

 

Pre-pre-school

We have two more weeks of actual summer and then my son will begin the decades-long process of what is known as school. I really don’t like the idea of putting a three-year-old in “school” but we’ve decided that a morning preschool three days a week will be good for our big guy.

   
 I admit it, I’m nervous. Above all, I fear I will squelch his love of learning early in life by outsourcing these educational hours that could be spent with me. Several times I have considered dropping out (like we did last year), but this may just be delaying the inevitable. I almost fainted when I learned the 3’s go three days a week. I’d mentally prepared myself to lose him for two mornings a week, but hearing a minimum of three was a blow. And yet here we are, gearing up for these three mornings a week.

   
 Above all, I pray that my firstborn would flourish in this environment. I pray that he would soak up these opportunities that I am not able to give him at home and that he would return to us invigorated about life, learning and God. This is a Christian preschool and they do have chapel once a week, so I do pray that his little heart and mind would taste the goodness of God. After all, we are ultimately placing him in God’s hands, so the pressure isn’t totally on Shepherd of the Hills Preschool!

  

Finally Another Book Review: The Boys in the Boat

  

First of all, I haven’t read a book this good in a very long time. Likewise, I haven’t read for hours on end in a very long time, either. This book filled both of those longings. Not only did I love learning more about our developing nation during the 20’s and 30’s, but I loved walking through a story of hardship and triumph that took place in locations I’ve been – much of the book took place in or referred to a small town in Washington called Sequim, a place I stayed with my mother after I graduated from college. I have a crush on Seattle, too, so it was fun to learn about that city in its infancy, before it became the iconic home of Starbucks and Kurt’s grunge scene.

In the same way, it was fascinating to learn about Nazi Germany before WWII. I knew little about the Berlin games and even littler about what the Nazi’s did to prepare for the world’s visit to their soil.

And, of course, I loved the rowing. I knew the rowing speak because I spent a semester rowing when I was at UT. This book made me feel like I was in the boat again – language like catching crabs, swing, and sculling were refreshing to read. I enjoyed rowing and I know how hard it is. I also know that it has historically been a wealthy sport, so it felt like an investment of my time to read about these mostly poor Western Americans who came to the sport during their college years from various (mostly difficult) backgrounds and went on to win gold at the 1936 Olympics for 8-man rowing. The pictures throughout the book moved me to tears and I have never been so invested in a group of men who are all dead now.

Faith and God were never really mentioned in this book, but it felt so spiritual to me. I think many people who have hardships early in life become top-notch athletes. I don’t know why that is, but it’s a trend I’ve noticed (I watch a lot of 30-30’s with my husband). Ultimately a medal will never fill that aching empty spot, but the journey towards that medal does something and keeps us fighting. And there is something magical about a goal. I will never win an Olympic medal, but I am reminded by Paul that as Believers we are pressing on towards our Ultimate Goal. I pray that I may have these boys’ determination to keep my “mind in the boat” as I row through the rough waters of life, when the outcome looks bleak and when all odds are against me. Because, in the end, my boat has already won.

 

 

Proud Wife On #9

I love when my hard-working husband is rewarded. This is him featured in his company’s magazine doing a talk on Internet security. Couldn’t be prouder of this wonderful husband and father on our ninth wedding anniversary. 

   

An Accidental Philanthropist

Last Friday I went in for a haircut. My hair had gotten crazy long and I knew I wanted a change, so I went to a lady my mom and mother-in-law raved about.

  

She was nice, but she did not listen to me. I requested a “sling” but walked away with a “bob.”

As she was doing the pre-cut hair-fiddle, she suggested donating what I cut off. The minimum length for donation is nine inches, so she got a ruler and showed me how short it would be. I agreed that if I was going to cut that much off, it should at least matter or make a difference to someone, but I didn’t realize that it would end up much shorter than the initial chop.

  

It did. So now I am left with minimal hair on my head and a Ziplock baggie housing my former pony tail, waiting to be mailed off to the charity of my choice.

  

And you can be certain it’s not a great haircut when most people see you toss forward their hands and say, “Oh, it will grow out!”

In the end, it’s just hair. And it will grow.

  

 

Beach Babies

Last weekend, we had the privilege of going to Galveston! Sonny’s parents welcomed us to their beach house and the kids got to see the ocean for the first time. In short, they LOVED it!

   
    
    
    
   
Spencer and I were able to grab a meal out together on Saturday night, too. We survived the long, long, long drive and Houston traffic and, by the end of the weekend, I was fully back on caffeine, too.