Thursday, March 31, 2011

moving mountains...

i have prayed and journaled countless entries to God this past 18 months asking him why so much all at once.  a husband with an illness-a son moved to college-a daughter planning a wedding-a precious, rough and rowdy eight year old boy with a unsympathetic, and often fussy, teacher-financial challenges due to the economy-a mother's death...why God do you place this mountain of challenges in my life? 

God gently replies back..."if it were just one or two of those challenges, you would handle it all on your own".  this mountain has been placed in front of me to draw closed to God-to depend on him to provide the love, grace, strength and wisdom i desperately need.  i mumble prayers asking God to remove the challenges-to make my life priority is for my life to be easier but God's priority for my life is to strengthen me in the midst of my "mountain climbing".  When I look at it from His perspective i have a glimpse of why i am "stuck" in this phase of my life.

It parallels parenting...Jeremiah doesn't wonder how the meal makes it to the dinner table or where the money came from that purchased the food, he just sits down and looks at the plate of food and inquires how many bites he has to consume in order to have dessert.  i daily plop myself down at God's table and ask how many bites of this mountain do i have to swallow, before i can move on to the dessert portion of life.  God wants me to be nurtured by this phase of life and to count on him to provide so gracefully for me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

mama bird's top ten essentials...

i first must confess i am a bit of a mental "spaz" and need lots of rules to keep me on track.  this opened "assignment" left me with so many unanswered questions...but i came up with a list in spite of myself.

my "must haves" are...
1. give me strength and wisdom that i so lack when i depend on just me
2.  journal and record my thought & feelings & happenings {and to keep that inner spaz at bay}
3.  photo of my family...or am i allowed to take them with me?  i am unsure, minegar family, party of 5 checking in to one deserted island please,  do you see why i need guidelines?
4.  running shoes and a pair of my favorite running socks, those would be "the wright sock"...running keeps me from going bananas and it is quiet, uninterrupted time chatting with God {yep, i have been known to carry on an "outloud"conversation while running-i make sure no one is within earshot to avoid stares}
5.  my fake {i have allergies-oh my} down pillow with its soft white cotton ensure a restful night sleep
6.  breville k-cup coffee maker & nespresso milk is like starbucks in your very own kitchen, but you can make it in your pjs with no odd looks from the barista or customers
{hope i have electricity or this would be a waste of an item...and i didn't include a generator in my top ten}
7.  a novel...either Jodi Picoult's new release "sing you home" which is being released in paperback on april 12th or Emily Griffin's "heart of the matter".  i am a paperback lover-hardbacks feel so academic and serious.  when i read for pleasure, i like to drag the book everywhere with me and don't want to have to be gentle with it and appreciate the weight of a paperback in my handbag
8.  ipod shuffle for some company...nothing fancier-the unknown order of the playlist is just one surprise after another
9.  gum...Wrigley's Doublemint, please...i am a "stick" kind of girl
10.  brazil nuts {raw & unsalted}...good protein and i love them.  they kind of taste like dirt but a favorite nonetheless!

thanks baby bird {amber} for the inspiration!

Monday, March 28, 2011

not so chocolate-y but delicious!

each week we journey to del mar to peter's lyme's disease doctor.  there is a very sweet nurse names marsha that helps us prepare for his infusions for the following week.  i can bake-i love to bake-i love to give, so each week, i take marsha a bag or plate of "thanks" for all she does for our family and helping to heal peter and rid him of the bacteria.  this week the treat was a twist on another recipe i found my friend's blog, Lula.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Chip Cookies...

1 cup butter flavored crisco
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs

combine the above ingredients in a mixing bowl.  beating until fluffy.  add the following:

2 1/4 cups flour
1 small box chocolate pudding mix {i think this is the magic ingredient!}
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

mix thoroughly and add one bag of peanut butter chips.  drop by teaspoonfuls on baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes!

what recipe of yours could i share with sweet marsha?

finding the goodness

so easy to lose believe the grass on the other side of the fence is so lush and green

it seems our "fence" {the dividing line in our lives} was the diagnosis of lyme's disease.  God says give thanks in all things; therefore, i will obey

the "thanks" in lyme's disease include...
-showing our children a loving, available father not too busy making money to enjoy the days or nights with us
-the realization money does not really solve problems.  it covers up imperfections {i'm not talking botox or plastic surgery}, but it never solves issues of the heart.
-family is priceless and sticking together during trials makes it all bearable
-we must carry, work, soccer, family dinners, church, wedding plans=so vital during this season
-friends are dear...especially those who email, call, and spend hours with us even when i cry and peter repeats an earlier conversation are priceless.  better than anything a master card could buy!
-laughter...especially the quick wit from a man struggling with daily life.  he makes us laugh often
-a home that didn't sell...and the anticipation of not one but two wedding this fall...{amber on 9/10/11 and a very dear family friend, dana 10/01/11}
-a sweet boy with brown eyes that shares childlike faith and wisdom about our might God and his ability to heal his daddy
-quiet prayers with peter while spooning in the dark of night
-finding a small church that lives and loves like Jesus...thanks Cross Point
peter wearing my mom's shoes {on the wrong feet}...
she had died a year prior and he wanted to make me laugh-it worked!
thank you God for a silly & humble man

Saturday, March 26, 2011

hummingbird cake..oh so southern

we celebrated amber's birthday last saturday as she and jason have marriage class on tuesday.  the birthday dessert was the debut of hummingbird cake from "food network" magazine.   i googled "how did hummingbird cake get its name" and it had a couple of explanations...the first, people hmmmm when they eat it {that's kind of creepy}, the second is that people come and feast quickly on it and then disperse much like hummingbirds feeding on flowers or a feeder.  regardless of where the name came from, it was a delicious birthday treat!

hummingbird cake
2 1/2 cups flour
3 ripe bananas, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil

cream cheese frosting
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
12 tablespoons softened butter
2 cups sifted powder sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper. 
Toss the bananas and pineapple with 1/2 cup of flour in a small bowl.
Whisk the 2 1/4 cups remaining flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Beat the eggs and gradually add the sugar in a separate bowl with a mixer on high speed until thick and light, about  5 minutes.  Gradually beat in the oil.
Fold the flour mixture into the eggs, forming a thick batter.  Fold in the fruit mixture, then transfer to the baking pans. 
Bake about 50 minutes, when a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on rack for about 30 minutes, then continue to cool on a rack.

Frosting.  Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer until fluffy, then gradually beat in the butter until combined.  Sift the sugar over the cream cheese mixture, beating until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Continue beating until light and fluffy.

Assemble cake by placing one layer on cake stand.  Spread almost half the frosting on top then cover with the second layer.  Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.  Enjoy!

and i am all about family we always relight one candle and let it burn out on its own marking another year of health for the birthday boy or girl!  see it there on the right,,,it is a green candle!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

why mama bird?

why mama bird?...this is very different than why, mama bird?
{i have few answers and so many questions myself!}

someone ask how i came up with the name "mama bird".  actually i didn't.
my amber gave me the name a few years back.
for mother's day she gifted me a simply beautiful pearl and silver bracelet.
attached was a silver "mama bird" tag along with a nest holding three tiny pearls-
one for each of my precious birdies!

it looks just like this!
the artist, jan from hazelnut cottage, sells them on esty

from there "mama bird" became my new moniker...
and i love it-almost as much as my bracelet!

checkout jan's blog...she doesn't just design beautiful jewelry,
she is a talented writer and painter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

mama, are you afraid?

brown eyes wanting reassurance that it will all work out.
i say daddy will be just fine my sweet boy...very soon.
i remind him of our God and his greatness.

{but my heart and head beg the same question...daily}

fear.  it riddles my heart.  it steals my joy.  it robs me of quiet.
it blinds me to the blessings-joy-peace God has to give me moment by moment

i have learned to backtalk.
i refuse to listen-hold my ground-dig in my heels.
i will overcome you fear.  my God is greater than you.

i will step out in faith knowing God's precious plan is unfolding.
i will continue to do what is right not because it "feels" right
if i was waiting for it to feel right, i would be paralyzed.
but God has called me to be courageous
and more than anything...i want to honor God and not my fears.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

tu-tu on the tu-tu

ridiculous and absurdly titled i know...but i had to do it. my precious amber turns 22{tu-tu} on this march 22 {tu-tu}at 5:36ish this evening.  what makes the title so ridiculous is she was a tomboy-would NEVER be caught in a tu-tu when she was a child. but somehow God molded her into a sweet and feminine girlie-girl once she became an adult. {please note: i do realize she is in a pink dress celebrating her first birthday...i had control over the wardrobe as this point}


things she has taught me over the part 22 years:

1. laugh and be ridiculous even when others are watching. who cares what they think.

2. press on even when naysayers shout can't or shouldn't. if God gave you the desire and you have prayed on on and He will reward you.

3. prayer works miracles...Jeremiah, her precious brown eyed brother was a seed first planted in her heart and we are so blessed to be his family.

4. dry shampoo is a miracle hair product...especially on those days laden with time constraints.

5. having confidence is key. having grace is essential.

6. great strength can be contained in a body of small feminine stature...prove those boys wrong!

7. family traditions are worth building. they leave a legacy.

{you are special birthday plate-poppers at Christmas-ny new years-gingerbread houses-halloween parties-
burning the last candle on the birthday cake for a year of health}

8. it is best to have a running buddy to share the road and races just makes the finish line all the sweeter.

9. writing in public isn't as scary as i thought it would be.

and last but definitely not least...

10. i can be a mama and do it well. twenty-two years ago, i promised her sweet baby eyes i would do the best job i could do. there are days i have fallen so short of the "best" mark, yet i wanted to keep her sweet, innocent, pure because that was not the path i had been taught or shown to walk. i could not be more full of pride or joy in the woman she has become.

thanks amber for teaching me so much but most importantly that i could be a mama...
happy birthday my chica-boom!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

a mama’s joy

so today is just another day for many college students…except for one. my sweet amber turned her final college paper this morning. after three years and two quarters, she is officially a college graduate. it comes with no “pomp or circumstance”…graduation ceremonies are not until June. She won’t walk…she has a BIGGER ceremony she will be walking in September.

in the midst of a bad economy and budget cuts, she found a way to finish in under four years. her determination is unstoppable when she has her mind set to accomplish a goal in a specific time frame.

a funny thought has been rolling around in my mind as I realized this day was approaching. there have been some who have questioned her marrying at the age of 22, yet I haven’t had anyone ask why she is graduating so young-why did she complete a four year degree in less than four years. it is the same focus and determination paired with love and God’s grace that will guide her sweet pure soul through the challenges and joys of marriage.

loves to you sweet amber!
looking forward to a weekend of celebrating all there is to celebrate!
please note: we love being absurd...especially together! cheers!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

guilty pleasures…

{white chocolate mocha with whip cream}{sees bridge mix candy}{dirty martini with an extra olive}{reality tv}{snooze button}{tableside guacamole from “la cocina”}

Guilt, oh guilt, how do I love thee? There is a constant nagging in my head…this voice that can speak louder than God many moments in a day exposing how I have fallen short, self-indulged, judged quickly.

Psalms 38:4 touches my heart. It says “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear”. I realize during this season that has highlighted my imperfections and additionally amped up my guilt meter, I could be a better mom, wife, nurse to peter, friend, runner…you name it, I could be better at it.

The more I contemplate my guilty-ness; I dig deeper to find a purpose to all of this mental madness. God would not have designed me to feel guilty without there being a BIGGER goal in His plan.

Perhaps my guilt {His BIGGER picture} reminds me…

- I am constantly lacking…I cannot do it on my own. My guilt reminds me of God and his provisions.

- I have fallen short today, but because of His mercy, I will have tomorrow to re-face the challenges and re-new the hope that I will get closer to the mark.

- God knows. He knows my limitations, faults, shortcomings and is word says He will provide what I so humbly lack.

God, thanks you for my guilty pleasures. It is a steady reminder of your goodness.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I am in denial...

the message at church today was about passover and the importance of communion. growing up our church didn't "do" communion. as an adult i regularly participated in the ritual of taking the wine and bread representing the blood and body of Jesus but did not fully understand the magnitude of communion until this morning.

at the Last Supper, Jesus had Peter and John prepare communion for the twelve disciples and himself. during the evening, Jesus stated "I tell you Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me" {Luke 22:34}. i have always thought of Peter as weak in character if he would deny Jesus not once but three times in one day. and the fascinating part of the story was that Jesus predicted Peter's denial yet He still chose to share communion with him.

today i realized i too am the disciple Peter...but worse. i choose to partake in communion-sharing the blood and body of Christ in remembrance of Him-yet i deny Him often...much more frequently than Peter. my worries-anxieties-doubts deny God exists. i am allowing my concerns to be a greater "god" in my life than God himself.

i am humbled. communion is not a ritual. it is a act of thankfulness. in all of my faults, weaknesses, short-comings...God wants me to come before Him and share the communion meal full well knowing my thoughts & actions have denied Him and will deny Him again in the future.

it is a love-hate relationship

i love to run...lots

i hate my shoes

i am challenged by hill sprints and the number of repeats i can do before my lungs scream to stop

i hate my shoes...they are gray

i love nike and have always been a nike girl-shoes, clothes, visor

i hate my shoes...they make me feel like an old lady

i dream of running everyday...just to have the time alone and to sweat {i mean glow-it sounds more ladylike}

i hate my shoes...i purchased them online

i sprint fast in them...just to prove my youth

i hate my shoes...they didn't look gray in the picture on the wedsite

shoes that i despise, i love to prove to you that i am fast-agile-youthful, in spite of hating your motivate me-that makes me love you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

always coming up short

Recently a dad told me he and his wife were "competitive parents". I asked for clarification and he explained it something like they compare their child to others. I had the distinct feel he was competing to have the "best" child and he was a little disappointed his child hadn't mastered a certain skill that children of his same age seemed to have already mastered.

I didn't quite know what to say at the time, but a day later and after a quiet run alone, I realized something.

Whenever we compare-be it our children, homes, husbands, financial status, bodies {or lack of}-we will always come up short. When I compare myself to others, I am taking all of my insides {faults-shortcomings-bad habits-brokenness-anxieties-worries} and compare them to that person's beautiful outsides. I don't know their trials, unhealthy habits, or the cross he or she has been called to bear. I will always come up short when I decided to compare myself to another.

Each of us is uniquely made and God has blessed us with certain gifts and talents. And if, just if God did make any two of me {even though He doesn't}, I just know He has a precise method to ways and would not place two of me in the same town-state-country.

Today {actually tomorrow-it's almost 10:00 pm and I am in the comfort of my bed and flannel pjs}, I will celebrate an incomparable-unique-outstanding me!

And our children too are unique and made by God.

fresh from the market

I love to visit our local farmer’s market on saturday mornings. the earlier the smaller the crowd. we were headed to san diego for the afternoon to spend time with peter’s daughter, melanie and her sweet family. my task was to bring dessert-she suggested fruit kabobs but that seemed so not very original to me so I decided on a triple berry stew with farm fresh berries served with ice cream

Farm Fresh Triple Berry Stew

1 basket fresh strawberries, slices

2 small baskets blackberries

1 small basket raspberries

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons Chambord

your favorite vanilla ice cream…I love Breyer’s french vanilla

Add the sugar, water and half of each type of berry to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about ten minutes. Remove from heat and add the rest of the berries and the Chambord. Delicious served warm or cold over vanilla ice cream

Saturday, March 5, 2011

recycle run…it’s a sad thing

so as you know I am a BIG lover of running. and I am a BIG lover of spending time with with my family. and Jeremiah is a BIG lover of cash and has found recycling as a way to earn extra money. so this morning I decided to combine the love of three and drag peter and Jeremiah{on his bike}on my run along with two grocery bags and collect the recycling we found on the side of the road.

we gathered two very full bags of bottles, plastics and cans.

when we arrived back home with our bounty, we dumped it all on the garage floor and sorted them…21 plastic bottles, 8 aluminum cans and 11 glass bottles. 21+8+11=40 life is a math lesson when you have an eight year old.

but here is were the {sad} comes in, we decided to sort them another way. alcoholic versus non-alcoholic beverages. the statistics on that are as follows…21 non-alcohol versus and 19 alcohol containers. 21+19=40 water and bud-light were the number one and two beverages of choice.

people are drinking while they are driving…not just drinking and then driving but doing the two activities simultaneously. yes, I drink-that is not at all what I am condoning. what is unthinkable is I am running daily on the very same roads where people are driving and consuming alcohol. my sweet eight year old boy was pedaling his bike on the path where drinking drivers are traveling. iIt is eased my mind that it was 8:00 am and those that drink would not be doing so at this hour of the morning…but I also mistakenly believed people don’t operate their vehicles with a bud-light in hand either. this is sad…and frightening.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

food for my soul!

During this season…{which by the way God, in nature a season only lasts 3 months and we are going on 21 months and according to my math (of which I am not an expert) we are in our seventh season}, I have learned I need to take care of me in all of the challenge. What nurtures my soul are weekends full of my children at home {and Amber’s precious fiancĂ©, Jason-and Scooter’s adorable blessing of a girlfriend Sam}, pedicures even in the winter when no one but me sees my toe nails, dinners out with the girlfriends, running early morning when 93% of the world is still sleeping, and writing in my journal in the comfort of my jammies & flannel sheets.

Well, this weekend was a soul-nurturing weekend {so needed and deserved-amen!}…with all home to celebrate Scoot’s 19th birthday. I spent hours in the kitchen with Amber on Saturday mixing-measuring-blending-baking-and of course eating! One of the recipes I shared with her was…marble red velvet cupcakes! I adapted the recipe from one I saw in People Country magazine that was for a Christmas cupcake.

Here is is…

Marble Red Velvet Cups of Cake

1 box of white cake mix

1 cup buttermilk (you don't need to run to the store if you don't have buttermilk-just take alittle less than a cup of milk and add 1T. vinegar or lemon juice and let sit for a few minutes)

½ cup water

½ cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

2 tsp. cocoa powder

1 tsp. red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350. Line 20 paper cups in muffin pans. Beat cake mix with buttermilk, water, oil and eggs. Mix until well blended about 2 minutes. Remove 2/3 cup batter and stir in the cocoa and food coloring. Set aside. Place ¼ cup of white cake batter in each muffin cup. Drop a teaspoon of red cake batter on top of each cupcake. Swirl with a toothpick. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting…like my mama used to make

I cube butter (softened)

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese (softened)

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ½ to 3 cups powdered sugar…the entire box makes it too sweet.

Blend all of the ingredients in a mixer slowly adding the powder sugar so you don’t have this sweet white dust cloud. Put in a piping bag and frost each cupcake! You can top with a berry or some red sprinkles…or leave them just plain. Enjoy!


Yep. Today my oldest son turns 4.75. No, we don’t celebrate quarter or even half birthdays but he is a unique soul in multitude of ways-one of them being his birthday. He was born on the day after Feb. 28, 1992 that happen to be Feb. 29 but “leap year day” only happens ever fours so he is technically had only 4 birthdays. Next year as he hits 20, he will celebrate his fifth "real" birthday.

Today is dedicated to him. He is at college in San Luis Obispo-our first year not celebrating the day together and I am sad and blessed all at once. Woeful because I love celebrating anything…especially with those so near and dear to my heart. Fortunate because I still long to make cakes, wrap gifts and serve dinner to my children on the midnight blue “you are special-today is your day!” plate even though two of them are legal adults.

Happy Birthday Scoot. You make a mama bird so proud! Love and miss you buckets!