Friday, December 30, 2011

lessons learned in 2011

One little bug is in bed, the other is watching soccer futbol in Spanish on the tele, by request. I have a gingerbread cake in the oven, the last hurrah of the holiday baking before we chill with the sugar and white flour for a while. Gearing up to work the next two days, so soon it will be a shower and bed for me as well.
these guys spent at least an hour in the tub tonight
I still get excited for a new year,with all its potential and clean slate-ness. I love doing the resolution thing, even though of course they don't all happen. I have some hopes for 2012, for sure (finalizing my list then I'll post it). But right now I want to be sure I spend some time looking back before we leave 2011 behind. I think the most important things I learned this year pertain to mothering, because really that's what I spent the majority of my time doing. Here are a few that stand out to me:
  • they really do grow up fast, so sit still and just take it all in
  • take notice of the little things; they are really the big things
  • practicing intentional gratefulness is like working out-seems just as easy the first few times, but is just as hard to keep up consistently, and offers noticeable rewards
  • listen for the whispers; they are there
  • there is always time to slow down and laugh with my kids
  • follow the bread crumbs and be honest about hard, scary things; it's the only way forward
  • dream, and act.
I think grateful has been my word of the year. It's been such a focus and really changed some everyday things for me. In that spirit, I want to close out the year with giving thanks for the enormous gifts I'm surrounded by.
  • Enough-enough food, enough water, enough heat, enough clothes, enough oxygen, enough transportation, enough for each day. Daily bread. 
  • Words. Bloggers/writers, new and familiar, who inspire and educate me.
  • My husband who is real and vulnerable and sturdy. 
  • My children who need and who provide, so much of both.
  • Community, shared tables, laughing at all the littles, telling stories, being blessed, giving hugs and promising to do it more often.
Happy New Year! I would love to hear what you learned in 2011.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas in Austin

tamales, family, messy lights, doggies everywhere, a chilly walk, and unbridled joy on tiny tots' favorite things this year. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

secondhand smoke, teething, and other stuff

Saturday morning, having been summoned from my bed a little after six and still groggy, I made some popcorn. It was the fastest thing I could think of to feed the boys (and kind of Saturday morning-ish) and gave me a few minutes to drink some much-needed coffee. Really, the point of all that was that Nicky was eating it and started choking a little bit. So he coughed, and cleared out the offending piece of popcorn, and then said "must have been some secondhand smoke." And we laughed, and after that I was awake. I love that boy.

This week has been satisfyingly busy. Sunday I cleaned the whole house in preparation for the home-study, which was Monday, and wouldn't you know we sat on the couch doing my interview the entire time. I will never complain about a clean house though. I even organized some things I've been putting off. There's plenty of home-study to go, not to mention many other foster-care related things to get done, but it's really nice to have the ball rolling. I'm excited for what 2012 may hold.

Silas is getting molars. He is just all about the teeth, that baby. He's pretty fussy with all that going on, but right now happily distracted playing in big brother's room. He does a little happy dance in my arms every time I take him in there. I suppose they'll be sharing a room soon enough.

And, a few Penny pictures just because.

Maybe tonight Nicky can learn about emphysema. Good times.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

but the most one is Jesus

That's what Nicky said as we were talking about Christmas gifts and making sugar cookies. 

That's all. Just a sweet moment with my boy that I don't want to forget.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

good to be.

I have sand in my hair, and my good stretchy yoga pants on, and it is good to be home. Today was a day of events: spend too much time drinking coffee and lounging this morning, dress everyone quickly, dash in to Target to buy tripod for photo shoot, birthday party with boys for me, music practice for Ricky, home again, dress everyone quickly, off to wedding at White Sands. There was snow on the dunes, and we all remarked how weird it was that the dunes looked dirty. They usually look so pristine against the desert. The snow was all sparkly in the sunlight, and it was a lovely spot for a wedding.

a little silliness while Ricky sets up the camera

After the ceremony, we attempted to get a good family shot using the new tripod. Out of forty or so I think there are two usable ones; that's how it goes right? So Christmas photo cards are in the works now. Nicky had a blast sliding down the dunes and making snow angels. We headed back to town, and while we were driving I got a call from a home study contractor who received our referral just yesterday (we're still working on a few things, but have most of the paperwork in; all of the "biggies" anyway). So, turns out she's in town for the weekend and we're starting the homestudy process Monday. Monday! Needless to say, I should be cleaning (that is almost always a true statement). Things are moving right along. Yay! And also eek.

Nicky's Christmas play was adorable. There was a girl right in front of him busting a move during every song; it was hilarious and had us giggling so much.

I got a few shots of Nicky beforehand- yup, same outfit. I like to have one good Christmasy outfit for the season, since there are usually a handful of dress-up events during. Keep it simple. The sweater is actually one of the greatest hand-me-downs of all time. I love it.

This one charmed the lady behind us. He does this thing where he finds someone closely and flirts shamelessly.

We had some celebratory brownies and milk at home afterward.

Just threw this one in because it's cute. I love being his Mome. So, those are the haps. Lots to think and pray about, and lots to do. I'm ready to get this party started.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

today, tonight, tomorrow

find dress shoes for Nicky
defrost treacherous ice on front walkway and driveway (slipped and fell yesterday-ouch)
do two loads of laundry
help out with centers at Nicky's school
drink coffee
make dinner
shop vac the tile
tickle Silas
find place for all the gloves taking over the house

swoon over the cuteness at Nicky's Christmas play

work at hospital

hipster snowman from Tuesday 

Sometimes you just need to document life, I guess, and this is about all there is to say today. I'm halfway through my list, so back to it! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

keeping warm

This morning after taking Nicky to school I drove around and let Silas nap.

The flurries were just starting, and the mountains looked like this:

Now it's really sticking. We just got home from getting a very excited little boy from school, and there's at least a two hour delay tomorrow. Ricky came home early to avoid getting stuck at work. We'll probably be venturing out at some point to play, but for now we're inside keeping warm.

This weekend was full of lots of the same. We made Nicky's school tree ornament (above) and it kind of reminds me of one of those animation motion detector suits. 

I made some Pinterest-inspired things too. Homemade snow-globes, cinnamon candles, yarn trees and a wreath that I may not finish until Easter.

We put up trees, including Nicky's little one in his room. And I made the mistake of mentioning that it's good to unplug lights before we go to bed, and now Nicky's scared his room will burn down. Go me.

Silas fought for his right to party, and Nicky discovered the finer points of peppermint hot chocolate.

Sunday night we ventured out to the annual Noche de Luminarias on campus. Nicky spotted Santa (who he told me earlier that day he really does believe in) but was too shy to approach.

It was lovely. Luminarias everywhere, a rare opportunity to wear wintery clothes, horse-drawn trolleys, and a snuggled-up baby staring up at the sky the whole time.

Well as is often the case this post took me all day. It's dark now and the snow is still falling; I'm thinking tomorrow must be a snow day. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

soup weather

Well, it feels like winter in the southwest. That is a thing to be celebrated, here in the land of two seasons: Summer and Christmas, as Ricky always says. So last night we made the aforementioned posole and it was so, so good. I'm all about soup; I usually plan at least two soups in the weekly menu during the fall and winter months.
This was kind of an experiment. I've never made posole, and Ricky grew up with it but wasn't sure how to make it exactly. I think it was a success. All the flavors were subtle, but present.

1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
14 oz red chile puree (I used mild)
stock of some sort-I used homemade turkey stock, since it's taken over my freezer. But chicken stock or bouillon would work too. About four cups.
shredded, cooked pork (or chicken, or no meat if you prefer)-about 2 cups
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 of those huge cans of hominy-about 6 cups I think
olive oil

toppings: limes, radishes, cabbage, onion, oregano

In a large soup pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil. When onion is translucent, add red chile puree and stock, stir and let simmer for a few minutes. Add hominy and shredded pork or chicken. Stir and let simmer some mo'. While it simmers, cut up some limes, radishes, and more onion if you like it fresh, and shred some cabbage (or buy a bag of cole slaw mix to save time). Cut some rolls in half, brush with olive oil, and broil for a few minutes until they're toasted. Add salt and pepper as needed to soup.

To serve: ladle soup into bowls, squeeze some fresh lime into soup, top with radishes, cabbage, onion and oregano as desired.  Eat with yummy bread.

Kiddos may enjoy a similar soup sans the red chile if they're like Nicky, who is very suspicious of anything remotely spicy (even toothpaste).

Happy soup weather!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

God rest ye merry

Yesterday was a weird and wonderful day. It was slow and sleepy all morning at work but then the drama began, and just continued on and on like it does. I sat down to chart after finally giving report and didn't even know where to begin. "Dive in and don't come out until you're done", an older nurse advised, on her way out. Yeah, pretty much. I was there late enough to realize I miss working nights. There's a totally different energy and camaraderie going on. I felt like sticking around just to hang out, look at ridiculous chest x-rays, talk smack about the doctors and just generally shoot the breeze. You have time to do that kind of thing on nights. Too bad it's so hard on the rest of my life, or I would totally go back to it.

So I tapped away at the keyboard until I was satisfied with my accounts of the day (because if you don't document it, it didn't happen says the nursing school instructor in my head) chatted a bit, and finally packed my backpack, made my way out of the maze of the ICU, clocked out, and walked out the doors to a deliciously cold and rainy night. I felt a little like having a John Locke moment (the one from Lost, not the civil society guy) it was so nice. There are things I really love about my job. The feeling of going home, completely spent, is one of them.

I got home and Ricky had three surprises for me. One, he hung up Christmas lights outside. Two, he learned to play this version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings that we've been hearing on Pandora and love:

and three-he picked up my cell phone that I was sure was long gone. I left it at a store the day before and was sure someone took it, but turns out it was still there, and they called him. 

I'm so full of love for this guy, for a million little reasons.  

Today we're all home. The boys are playing, Ricky's working on his take-home final and I'm crafting, sipping, browsing and ignoring the whites in the washer. A big pot of posole with crusty bread is in the works.

I am thankful for contrast.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

bread crumbs: anticipation

I did not grow up with liturgy. My parents did, in the Lutheran and Methodist traditions, and they both turned toward charismatic movements in their twenties. Aside from learning to the words to lots of hymns, tradition was not a big focus in our home, and in some ways I saw tradition as being cold and uncreative; the opposite of the freedom of the Spirit we were intent on. So, I never gave much thought to liturgy, until reading Lauren Winner's Girl Meets God in college sparked my interest. Really it just brought an awareness of the liturgical calendar into my life, and I started reading the Book of Common Prayer. I love the rich history and the feeling of community, of a universal body of believers, that comes from liturgical practice.

In my home life, I find words that have weight and centuries behind them to be comforting and grounding. I'm all for heartfelt lyrics, but sometimes I need to draw strength from words, to be reminded of the attributes of God. I have a growing appreciation for liturgy, and I realize more and more that I want my children to have those rich words planted in their brains, for when they really need them.

This year we're making an effort to observe Advent, or it would be more true to say introduce ourselves to Advent. I've seen so many cute Advent calendars on Pinterest that I wanted to make, but geez it's already December 1, so yesterday I picked up one of those cardboard paper-flap ones at Hobby Lobby. This morning's verse: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Isaiah 9:1 led to a pretty great discussion with Nicky, over breakfast and all the way to school. I saw a spark in his eyes when I read it, and he told me about how God said, "Let there be light", and then we talked about literal light and Jesus-light, and I think he got it. And I thought about all that beautiful symbolism between the old and new testaments. I realize what this is now, this season. It's a way to present the gospel to Nicky, and later to Silas, and to ourselves every day for four weeks, and to let the anticipation of re-discovering the beauty of it all grow and grow, until Christmas.

And I also realize that really, I did this growing up. It just wasn't so intentional, so obvious, but it was done, because these kinds of discussions just flowed out of my mother, every day. However, this mama needs intentional and obvious. They are my friends.

Today I have a lightness in my heart that hasn't been there. It was a little bit like being a child again, pulling back that cardboard flap, wondering what gift is there today.

Words are the greatest gift.
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