Monday, December 13, 2010

What we've been up to

We've had a whirlwind past few months here at Glenhaven (as we've named the MN Archibald home).

The kiddos have reveled in lots of attention from extended family from August through the present. It's been a huge blessing having Kate live with us and various visits from my parents and Mark's brother, Adam, were highlights of the Fall.

Mark and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary with a wonderful 2-week trip to Hawaii in November. We were able to visit two of the islands: Oahu (the most populated) and Kauai. The trip was spectacular and Mark and I feel refreshed and renewed! My Mom and Kate stayed with the kiddos in MN, except baby Sticker who of course tagged along with us. :)

We arrived back in snow-covered MN and celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends at my Aunt's house. My parents took off that weekend and their return for Christmas can't come too soon. Iain in particular is VERY excited about the upcoming arrival of the Keisers and Fenton Grandparents.

Mark and I had the great joy of seeing our newest family member at my 20-week ultrasound. Baby Sticker is the picture of health and EXTREMELY active! Even the ultrasound tech said that she didn't see many babies that active. We were able to find out the gender, but we're keeping that "secret" until after Christmas when we will tell the rest of our family.

Various illnesses have been passing their way through our home. Lydia came down with a high fever about a week after her 15 month immunizations. She's still got a runny nose that won't quit but at least her temp and activity are normal. Iain surprised us all with his first bout of "gastroenteritis" (stomach flu or allergies; we're not quite sure) that resulted in a sleepless night for all of us - most esp. Mark who proved once again that he is an AMAZING dad! Iain's still on tiny sips of water and saltine crackers, 2 days later, having thrown up yet again this morning. He has a date with the ER and an IV if he throws up one more time, but it's looking pretty hopeful right now.

Either the same bug or pregnancy took it's toll on me last night, but we serve a merciful Lord who heard and answered my prayer and other than being tired, I haven't had any symptoms since this morning. Kate has been amazing, taking care of the kiddos today so I could get a much-needed nap.

In the midst of all this buggy excitement, we got somewhere around 17 MORE inches of snow dumped on us (there were already about 5 on the ground). It's been a fun adventure, and the snow is absolutely beautiful. The sides of our shoveled driveway (THANKS KATE!!!) reach chest-high! We are enjoying one of the benefits of living on a busy-ish road: frequent plowing.

We celebrated Gaudete Sunday by decorating for Christmas. It's our first Christmas in MN and therefore also the first year we've had our very own Christmas tree. My post-Christmas clearance ornament purchases last year resulted in a very patriotic tree, covered in silver, red and blue balls. I also have a lovely ceramic snowman ornament collection. Coincidentally, the largest of the snowmen happens to be holding an American flag. :) Perhaps my subconscious is trying to say something to my British-citizen husband? ;)

There, that brings us up to the present. We are all in the downstairs family room watching the Vikings "home game" being played in Detroit after the Minneapolis Metrodome's roof collapsed from the snow.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Go, and vent no more

From one fallen human being to another, let me tell you, this post has been a long time in coming and I'll be the first one to admit that it's still something of a challenge for me.

For all my young adult years, until the recent past, I've been a "venter." In other words, if something/someone was bothering me, whoever I was close to with an ear to listen was going to get the full story about just how I'd been the victim of some great injustice. I'm sure my husband still gets his fair share of this from me, but even with him, the person I am most comfortable with in all the world, I am trying to be more virtuous.

It wasn't until I moved to St Paul and heard it mentioned that a particular formation talk was on speech and particularly not venting, even to one's spouse, that I even considered that perhaps this was...sinful. "WHAT?" I thought. What's wrong with voicing a bit of frustration?! Needless to say, rather than the correct response of trying to let that wisdom sink in, I simply decided that I must not have much in common with this person (yes, instead of seeking holiness, I just stuck my head in the sand...and probably vented to my husband about it...except that if I had done that, he would have lovingly corrected me 'cause he's that awesome!)

4 years and lots of percolation later, I have slowly taken to heart why venting is never helpful and is, in fact, sinful. Here are a few of the reasons:

-It doesn't solve the problem or even seek resolution
-It shuts you off from the possibility that you may be partly at fault
-It feeds pride and squashes growth in humility.
-It is gossip at best and probably slander
-It doesn't move toward or seek out love

If you're anything like me, you may be sitting here wondering, well how on earth am I supposed to process anything if I can't talk about it?! I agree, for women, it can be very helpful to process things. I do feel like there can be an intentional difference between processing and venting. Here's what I think appropriate processing should include:

-Compassion for any others involved in the situation (ie, the person(s) that offended you). And no, the line "I love so-and-so, but...." doesn't count as REAL compassion; how many times have I used that line?!!
-Assuming the best of the other person(s)
--(note: if this clearly isn't an option, at least giving the benefit of the doubt that they are a) too wounded or b) too ignorant to know better, in which case, see the first point)
-Honestly and objectively analyzing your own conduct and determining if/where you were at fault
-Having recognized your weakness, choose to work on that area and, if necessary, apologize for your behavior and choose to forgive the other person(s) regardless of their recognition/admission of fault.

If we can't choose love, choose forgiveness and have the humility to recognize and admit our weaknesses, than how can we call ourselves followers of Christ; who are we imitating?

So, again, I am a WORK IN PROGRESS. But I do think I have seen the light in this area. Please hold me accountable; my humility thanks you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unpacking the Roller Coaster

Faff, faff, faff. I don't even know if I'm spelling that right, but it's my acknowledgement of exactly what I'm doing with my time right now: faffing. Sometimes it sounds like piano music (although I give myself partial credit b/c I usually play/sing praise and worship songs), sometimes it's catching up on my blog-reading, sometimes it's schmoozing around on Facebook, sometimes it's just watching the leaves fall off the tree across the street. Right now, it's updating my blog.

The roller coaster is the prime analogy used for the weight gain and loss associated with pregnancy, seconded perhaps by the yo-yo, but that one really belongs to the dieters of the world.

-Roller coasters are exciting; so is pregnancy
-Roller coasters are often repeated; so is pregnancy
-Roller coasters make you brace as you climb; so does pregnancy weight gain
-Roller coasters are a thrill as you speed down; so is, uh post-partum weight loss
-Roller coaster riders often want to repeat that experience as soon as possible; um, not usually so much.
Well there you have the analogy falling apart as all analogies must.

5 months ago, Lydia was 8 months old and, due to her lack of interest in eating and my lack of interest in pureeing-to-death any/all food for her, was just entering the world of finger food, having been nursed 100% up until then. I was also, as a result of all that good milk-producing calorie-burning, at my wedding weight. It was pretty awesome and I was relishing every second of it.

Fast forward 5 months. Lydia is 100% weaned. I am pregnant. I am also 15 pounds heavier than I was in that dreamy time of life, 5 months ago. Ugh.

I had high hopes THIS time I might looke "cute" during my pregnancy and not morph instantaneously into a swollen puffball. Well, thanks to the following, I'm afraid that hope is dying fast:

-weaning a baby (and therefore not burning those calories)
-throwing out my back the same week I discovered little Sticker's existance and therefore restricting my activity
-a separation-anxious 1 yr old who screams in childcare when I go to the gym; not much motivation to go, let me tell you! (esp. when they ask me to rescue her after 20 min)
-nauseousness which was only relieved by eating - first 10 lbs piled on in 2 weeks
-threw my back out AGAIN - stuck on the couch this time; definitely not working out now
-intestines that rebel at the first sign of fiber, dairy or fat. Needless to the say, the BRAT diet isn't low on the glycemic index and I'm already prone to blood sugar levels that drop like lead.

And so, here I am, 11 weeks along and up 15 pounds. I did finally get back to the gym today. I can't do much except walk which, while good for my back isn't going to get me back in shape anytime soon (I can't risk raising my heartrate too high on account of being pregnant). I also don't want to overdo it and exercise myself right into bedrest. Lydia fussed through childcare and apparently had to be held the entire time.

So, any and all of you who temporarily (I hope) hated me for being able to fit into size 4 jeans a mere 5 months ago, will probably be happy to know that those days are but a happy memory. The train I'm on is speeding towards the town of back rolls, muffin tops, stretch marks, thunder thighs and cankles. Goodbye bone structure; I hope to see you again in roughly 14 months.

But, God willing, in 29+/- wks I will meet my little Baby Sticker who makes it all more than worth it!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It all fell into place

"Motherhood is a blue collar job."

When I read that line, suddenly everything made sense. Both the things that I love and the things that I dread about being a homemaker/mommy are all wrapped up in that sentence. For clarification, I take "blue collar" to mean skilled tradesman (with the distinct possibility of being disregarded and/or underappreciated.)

Motherhood (by which I mean homemaker as well) is all about trades. And art forms. And trades as art forms. And LOTS of manual labor.

My husband is a magnificent man and a diligent, capable, hard worker. I am also blessed that he has the privilege of occasionally working from home. On occasion, when he is home, his appearance may be this: comfortably semi-reclined. Granted, he's generally dressed in business-casual and typing furiously away on his laptop and/or on the phone, but nevertheless, all 200+ lbs., 6.5 ft of him are propped nicely on a pillow or two. All this while I, the weaker (and pregnant) sex, am lugging loads of laundry up and down stairs, unloading groceries, mowing the lawn (that is my preference, btw), scrubbing floors/toilets/showers, and hefting 20-30 lb children around (not while mowing the lawn).

On days when I stop and consider this situation, it's hard not to laugh. Those are also usually the days when I tell my husband that he should quit his job and be a stay-at-home-dad and I'll go to work. It seems to make so much more sense, physically. (Except that my profession is nursing and I don't know a single nurse who will tell you that's not physical - but that's also because I guess it's more of a blue collar job. Go figure. In that sense, I shot myself in the foot with that career choice.)

But then there are the art forms of my chosen vocation (back to motherhood here) - the emotional/spiritual care and training of my children, cooking (generally a chore, but with all this practice I'm improving and with improvement comes increased satisfaction and joy), making my home beautiful, how to shop and beat the dollar to a pulp, wringing water from a stone (ie, making money/goods/services appear from thin air - or for the cost of a couple postage stamps).

And there are things available to me that will enhance our family's life together that I haven't yet tried in earnest: vegetable gardening, flower gardens, sewing, baking, freezing/canning, etc.

It's all just so beautiful, isn't it?

Until I wake up in the morning, desperately needing a) more sleep and b) my coffee, but I can't have either because all I hear is "NO, NEED MOMMY!" and all I smell is wet diaper in my face. And that's when I find myself in the trenches of the not-so-esteem-able aspects of my blue collar job. It's not glamorous, it's often not appreciated, especially by those who most benefit from my work (not you Mark; you're wonderful!) but it's got to be done and I'm the only one who's going to do it, so I'm going to try to give it my all for yet another day.

"Mark, would you like another pillow?" ;)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's one of those days

Iain has reached that age. I'm not sure what age I'm referring to, but whatever it is, he seems to have arrived. Here's the running tally for today (and I was actually in the same room for most of these!):

- "wassing disses" at the kitchen sink (a wet but generally harmless favorite past time of his). This morning it apparently required 200+ coffee filters, which I discovered in a sopping heap (thankfully in the sink.)

- Drank and spit out an entire sippy cup of water onto the living room sofa, only discovered by me when I sat down on the wet spot and saw the empty sippy cup on the floor.

- Stripped himself naked during his nap. Thankfully, his crib appears to be unharmed.

-Somehow silently broke open a glass bottle of capers, giving him a nice briney puddle to play in and a snack for Lydia. Thank you Jesus for keeping the glass in 3 large pieces. It doesn't appear like anyone consumed anything harmful.

- Grabbed a stick of butter that I had set on the counter to defrost, unwrapped the top and was found by me in the living room, hiding behind the couch, eating fingerfulls of butter. Did I mention he's allergic? yum.

Any surprise that I walked into the bedroom, where Mark was working from home, and asked if he'd be interested in switching to stay-at-home-dad while I went to work? :)

Fortunately for all involved, I can generally keep my head on straight enough these days to realize that as crazy as these things seem, especially when they follow one after another, they are also what memories are made of. Where would be the great stories, if I didn't have days of wasted coffee filters, wet couches, naked toddlers, capers for snack followed by butter for dessert. Honestly, I love my life. I am very blessed to be able to stay home, raise our children and make our home homey. (On the other hand, it is surprisingly accurate to say that Mark could quit his job, stay home with the kids, I could work three 12-hour days a week as a nurse giving us 4 days a week as a family, and I'd make at least 1.5x what Mark does. Well, there you have it. So, when I'm asked what I do, I can honestly say that I am blessed to stay home. Very blessed. All this made possible because, as Mark's parents very rightly say, we live in "God's economy.")

In case you were wondering how I'm staying sane today, I let Iain watch an episode of "maggot" (Inspector Gadget) so I could get the dishes washed without fear of him teaching himself pyrotechnics when I wasn't looking. He and Lydia are currently sequestered in their cribs, cooing happily, if not softly, at each other while I down my 3rd cup of coffee (you know it's been a day when it's a 3 cup day!).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Falling off the wagon...bump, bump, bump

So, like any diet or lifestyle change, as I'm hoping the case will be, I've fallen off the wagon of my routine. The house still looks O.K., the laundry is getting done a load at a time and the bills are being paid on an ongoing as-needed basis (in otherwords, as they arrive). However, the sheen is gone from the floor, the bathtub has sand in it from a family outing to the beach and the cobwebs are reportedly appearing in the family room windows.

So, like any good dieter, I am ignoring this state of affairs and am blogging while sipping coffee from a beautiful teacup. The tea set was recently given to me after being rescued by a close's a long story. Anyway, I found it on Amazon:

Nice, eh? It came to me in all it's original packaging, apparently never having seen the light of day. It's a beautiful blue pattern that goes well with our decor, but not that of my friend's, so she thought of me. Hurray! Not to mention, since I've been married I've wanted a tea set and have had my eyes peeled at Goodwill, particularly for a sugar bowl and creamer. Now I have a whole matching set! I feel like I'm 6 and I need to have a tea party with my dolls. Something tells me Iain and Lydia wouldn't make great tea company, yet. No dolls or truly 6-year-old Betsy's around, so I'm making do with my coffee. I feel so refined. :)

In other news, as you may have heard, "they" say that smell is the sense most strongly linked to memory (or something like that). Some of my favorite "cozy" smells come from my maternal Grandparents' home: coffee and soap. Coffee - check!, Soap - well, no, but I found the smell! - Bath and Body Works "Sea Island Cotton" line. I am addicted to their lotion. I have it sitting in front of me on the table, having just slathered it all over my slightly sun-burned legs (note to self: just because my mexican friend can bake in the sun doesn't mean my freckled self can do the same! - in case you're gasping in horror, I kept 80% of me in the shade and only my lower legs in the sun, hoping to rid myself of my legs' pasty whiteness...I know, I know, just because we're all going to die of cancer doesn't mean I need to pull out the welcome mat. I will be sticking with my sunblock regime from here on out.) Back to the point, Sea Island Cotton - I'm in love. It was also nice that the day we were at B&BW, they were having a sale on their little lotions 3/$10 and also handing out coupons for spend $10, get a large lotion free. Bonus! We must have looked ridiculous, running around with our noses in all sorts of smelly lotions. 4 different lotions and $10 later, we're a happy family. Me esp, with my beloved Sea Island Cotton. I also highly recommend "Japanese Cherry Blossom" for the special occasion. It smells like a date (uh, not the fruit, the get-all-dressed-up-and-go-out-with-your-guy kind). :)

Ah blog, you are a wonderful way to procrastinate. I am sad to say that I really must get back to work. The floors won't shine themselves (espcially now that Lydia's crawling and pulling herself up to stand!!! rather than rolling around). Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Random, for your enjoyment

Lydia, just before she learned to crawl. She now crawls like a pro and at long last she's getting her first tooth! (bottom left center).

Do I have the cutest kids, or what?! Here's my favorite red-head in the entire universe. Sometimes he's so grown-up and sometimes he's still my baby boy.
The past couple weeks have been a wonderful adventure of normal life. We did have 3 house guests for a wedding, recently, but other than that, it's been pretty low-key. I'm getting my head around this whole routine business in such a way that I actually find myself with extra time on my hands. For instance, while the kiddos are napping, I can blog! And last night, after they went to bed I sat in the backyard, sipped some Baileys and watched the stars come out. Blissfull, really.

By the way, for those of you that HATE making a bed as much as I do, I have one awesome word for you: D-U-V-E-T. It's a fantastic invention. I've never been a fan of sheets (fitted sheets being the exception, as I don't know where we'd be without those!), since they inevitably swaddle you in your sleep. I hate waking up finding myself entangled in bedclothes. Duvets solve that problem, as they are comforter and sheet in one. Yes, you have to remove the cover to wash it, but honestly, it's really not so hard to put them back on. And it's heavenly to sleep under. Now, to making the bed, as that was the point. ONE layer. You simply pull it to the 4 corners of the bed, plump the pillows and the bed is DONE....and a made bed really does make a psychological difference. Even I must admit that much.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Daily Routine...what a notion!

A heartfelt "Thank You!" to all who replied to my post about schedules, etc. I feel like I have at least cracked the heretofore impenetrable fortress of un-ordered life. Rather than thank you each for your particular contributions, I'll give you a glimpse of where I've gotten to, and you might just see some of your suggestions mirrored in my skeletal daily outline:

7:30 - wake up, make coffee and breakfast

Prayer time alone in downstairs family room while Mark wrangles children upstairs as needed
Shower, if there's time

8:30 - "Shift change" report as Mark gets into work mode or leaves

Get kids dressed, fed, etc.
Quick kitchen clean up

9:30 - Morning Activity (play outside, library, hang out with other mom/kids, etc.)

10:30 - Lydia nap, Iain snack - if we're home

12 - Iain lunch

12:30 - Iain nap, Betsy lunch (Lydia nap or awake depending on morning nap)

Betsy's afternoon to-do time: laundry, cleaning, tidying, phone calls, (blogging)

2:00 - coffee break. Ahhhhhhhh! :)

3:00 - Iain awake (anywhere between 2:30 and 4 - yes, his naps can be crazy long, please don't hate me, though I can imagine that if I were you, I might struggle with that).

WOAH - pardon the interruption, but as you might recall, we live directly across the street from our church and parish school. Not infrequently, there is a police car (speed trap) in the church driveway directly across from our living room window. As I was writing the above, I thought that was what was going on, until I actually looked across the street and saw that there were 3 police cars (one unmarked) parked in the driveway followed shortly by a State Trooper Helicopter landing in the parking lot. Pretty impressive. I'm very sorry to say that Iain is sleeping and is missing the whole thing.

Thinking that I was witnessing something hugely dramatic, I waited eagerly to see what would happen next (yes, I realize that as "exciting" as it might be for those 2 minutes as something dramatic unfolded right in front of me, it would not be so exciting to realize that I live right across the street from such dramatic events.) Fortunately for me and more importantly, my dear children, it wasn't anything "dramatic" (ie, not a crime) but rather a school demonstration of some sort. I assume they didn't just deputize the mass of school children running eagerly towards the helicopter.

Back to my day...

4:30 - dinner prep, tidy, tell Iain 25x that he can't "wash dishes" right now, feed Lydia

6:00 - dinner time

After dinner - clean up kitchen, run dishwasher

Family prayer, husband/wife meeting (includes scheduling, "how are you doing" check-in, etc.), couples' group, family date night, (depends on the day)

8:30 - kiddos in bed

10:00 - Mark and I go to bed and watch one show online (this is my carrot to get me into bed b/c I'm naturally a night owl - funny thing is, as soon as I lay down I realize I'm exhausted and about 40% of the time I fall asleep before the show is over).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Confessions of a girly-girl wannabe

This is a post that I am writing in hopes that I may be of help to at least one other woman. If you are not a woman, don't have sisters or aren't married, you needn't read any further. And, if I am talking to you, sole woman in need of the following tip, I'd love to hear from you although I will understand if you don't want to publicly admit that I have helped you. Fortunately for you, I don't mind admitting that...

...For the greater part of my makeup wearing years, I've wondered how on earth to manage the fine peach fuzz hair on my face that always made me feel about as beautiful as a nicely decorated dusty fireplace mantle.

Before you go assuming embarrassing things about me - no, I am not growing a beard. I may have an errant hair or two that needs occasional plucking, but that's not what I'm talking about here. (If you are concerned about actual "beard" hairs in a quantity that is beyond the scope of tweezers, you may want to discuss this with your doctor/endocrinologist. I am afraid I can not help you.)

Back to the topic at hand. Here are my two tips for removing the peach fuzz that keeps you from feeling/looking your best:

In my experience, and I assume that everyone is different, neither product works effectively on its own. However, paired together, used on different days they produce exfoliated, hairless facial beauty.

Day 1: After a shower, when your face is still all nice and moist (without any product on it) apply Nair cream to face, wherever you wish to remove fuzz - chin, upper lip, cheeks.

You may want to do this at a time when no one will see you, or lock yourself in the bathroom, esp. if you have small children who won't understand mommy's cream beard, or housemates who will laugh at you.

Leave this on for somewhere around 3 minutes. Then GENTLY wipe off it with a wet washcloth. Don't worry about any 1/2-removed fuzz that remains. That will come off tomorrow. Be gentle with your skin, apply some moisturizer and be on your way. If you happen to over-do it and end up with a red "sunburned" area, please a) remember this for next time and be more careful and b) wait for this to heal for a week or so and start over.

Day 2: Pull out your handy-dandy Smooth Away buffer thingy - I use both sizes on my face, depending on what area I'm focusing on. GENTLY buff in circles around your face. Again, I stress, GENTLY. Trust me, it doesn't take any pressure to remove whatever is left after yesterday's Nair and if it does, you need to use tweezers. If you apply pressure, you will exfoliate too many layers of wonderfully healthy skin and give yourself a skin burn. Ouch and not pretty!

Follow-up by splashing some water on your face to remove all the debri (even if you can't see it, it's there and needs to be rinsed away so it doesn't settle in your pores). Pat your face dry, moisturize and be on your way (apply makeup, whatever).

The end result is beautiful, hairless baby-soft smooth skin that looks so beautiful, you won't even want to use that foundation anymore. If you're married, carry your face over to your husband for a little "check this out." If he's not thrilled, well, sorry about that, you're stuck with him. ;)

Every couple of days, I notice that my skin needs a little exfoliation rehabilitation to return it to it's beautiful fuzzless baby-soft smooth state. So, here's what to do...

Maintenance: Take 2 minutes and pull out that Smooth Away buffer thingy. GENTLY buff in circles around your face. Seriously ladies, this takes about 30 seconds to 1 minute, max. That minute of your time every couple of days saves you from needing to apply Nair, which saves you time and money. Bonus! :) If you "fall off the wagon" and let your face go back to its, uh, natural state, simply apply the Nair, followed by buffing the next day and, Ta-Da, you're back to beautiful!

The end. Hope that was helpful for someone out there.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Garage Sale Bliss


No, I haven't reverted back to middle school (though in my day, that phrase didn't yet exist).

Rather, that's how my email to Angelique started, because, let's just be honest, that's about all I could manage to type as the shock/awe settled in. I was emailing her to ask if she'd like to join me for the city-wide 88 home garage sale event in a town 20 minutes south of us. This was 1 day after I mentioned that I would keep my internet eyes peeled for upcoming garage sales, having no idea that such a windfall was just days away.

Yes folks, 88 homes, with a map and brief description of what they're selling.

We were out for a few hours today, kids and all. She and I both found some awesome deals.

I came away spending a grand total of $13.60 and got the following:

- a Lawn spreader = 50 cents!!!!!!!! - yes, it's dirty and a bit rusty, but it'll do just fine!
- a Teach And Talk Laptop for Iain (works, batteries thrown in to prove it) = $3
- a toy cowboy hat = 10 cents
- 3 sleepers for Lydia = 50, 50 and 75 cents
- A sun hat for Lydia = 25 cents
- 2 brand new pairs of tights for Lydia = 50 cents each
- a summer top for Lydia = 50 cents
- a new-in-the-package potty/step stool = $5
- Once Upon a Potty book for Iain = $1
- 2 Corduroy books = 25 cents each

I didn't find the sacred cow - a wheelbarrow - but I don't doubt I'll stumble across it sooner or later. And hey, 50 cents for a lawn spreader is enough to make me blink back happy tears.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nearly Pentecost!

"The Church has endeavored to help us experience Easter as the feast of feasts, as the basic reason for all celebration and all joy, by causing the Easter octave to last for seven times seven days. So the feast of Pentecost on the fiftieth day after Easter is not in fact an entirely new feast; it rounds off the circle of the seven times seven days, which signify our breaking out of subservience to time into the boundless joy of the children of God" (Joseph Ratzinger, Seek That Which is Above).

As an aside, I LOVE this little book. It's short chapters of reflections for the church year speak to me every time I read it!

I've mentioned before how I appreciate that I live in a climate where even the weather reflects our Lenten journey - the slush, mud, leafless trees and dead grass all help me enter into the Lenten experience. It a very real way, it is a fast of the senses.

How beautiful too, that the feast of Easter and it's glorious 50 day celebration has (at least this year) taken us through the journey of Spring green, flowers, sunshine - everything in nature that is new life. I was sitting in the sun yesterday, just basking in the glory of God's creation and the blessing that is all that God has given us in this house and property. It is all so beautiful and I am so deeply humbled and thankful for it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Haiku Nights

Insomnia, you
had me at "hello." "Goodnight,"
drifts beyond my reach.

cotton candy sugar crash
sure to help me sleep.

It's hardly fair. When
all day I dream of sleeping.
Now I can, but can't.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


4.5 years of marriage and 2 kids later, I'm coming to the end of my rope trying to reinvent a wheel when I know so many of you have the directions down pat. So, I welcome and actively implore your lengthy comments about the following (any or all):

1. What does your daily/weekly schedule look like?
2. How do you manage to get routine housework/prayer/etc. done when your children (esp. small ones) need you NOW...all the time.
3. How do you balance restorative and productive time (ie, breaks in your work during the day).
4. When and how do you have time and energy for anything crafty when you have children and housework and meals and, well, etc.
5. Just out of curiosity: what time do you put the kids to bed? What time do you go to bed? What time do you get up? and how on earth do you ever feel rested? - do you ever feel rested?
6. Do you plan your meals in advance? If so, is it just dinner, or all meals?

Please! Whether I know you personally or not, please please please leave me ridiculously long comments. I'm just trying to get an idea of how to make this whole mom/wife/homemaker/me thing work and I sure would love a glimpse into how some of you manage it (or don't, if that's the case.) :)

Now I have to go because Lydia is trying to eat something off the kitchen floor. yuck.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Winnie The Pooh, aka...

Iain has a new favorite video, Winnie The Pooh, which he has seen about 4 times through in the last 24 hours. As you may have guessed, I've gone downhill, again. :( Anyway, for your enjoyment, here are the characters, from the mouth of Iain:

Christopher Robin: Kahmis Wobin, Thomas Wobin, and occasionally just Wobin

Pooh: Sa-poo (yes, as in shampoo)

Piglet: Pig

Little Roo: Baby Mouse

Tigger: Diggoh

Iain calls the video Kahmis Wobin/Thomas Wobin

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Redemptive suffering & my husband, my hero

As for the first, this illness has really kicked my butt. I am no good at suffering. I can "offer it up" for about 2 minutes, as I try with all my might to stop focusing on how completely miserable I feel and pray for the grace to suffer well and pray for those in need of prayer. I have about as long as that thought takes until I'm right back to self-pitying misery. "Offering it up" only seems feasible AFTER the meds have kicked in. I may not feel like myself, in fact I may feel like a drugged, dizzy, exhausted, water-logged version of someone similar to me, but at least I'm not in pain. So now I can "offer it up." Really impressive, I know.

On Friday I was on the upswing and I was looking forward to Saturday when I was sure I would feel even a bit better. Much to my chagrin, Saturday found me downhill, again. This time it was fever/aches/chills, sinus pain/pressure and ear pain that went from bad to worse through the day. I went to urgent care in the morning and was told I had a sinus infection (no surprise there as my kleenexes all looked like they'd been used to wipe up a hot-dog condiment station,) and fluid in my right ear, but no infection. So, finally, I was put on antibiotics. I was told that if I still feel like this in 10 days, I'm to refill the perscription, and in 20 days if I still feel awful, to go see my doctor. Great. Well, lets hope for the best and not a 20-day marathon of "offering it up" practice!

As for the fever and pain, extra-strength Tylenol and Sudafed have done the trick. (Sometimes I wonder how I made it through nursing school. I'd been avoiding Sudafed, like an idiot, b/c I'm nursing Lydia and didn't want to affect my milk supply, and couldn't think straight enough to realize that it would decrease the pressure as well as dry up the congestion). Mark was rightfully shocked to discover that I hadn't tried it yet. Well, needless to say, it worked. So, I still have all my symptoms, but very little actual pain, Praise the Lord! I am sooo thankful for modern medicine!

God must be dumping Niagara Falls amounts of grace on Mark because he's been A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. He's taken care of the kids, cleaned, cooked, worked really hard on a 30+ page strategic plan for work, run errands for me, and that's just in the last 24 hours! I am very humbled by this man I am so blessed to call my husband!

One last humorous story to wrap up this post. If you know me, you know that I'm a big dork. If you had any doubts (in which case, you must not know me), I'll give you an example. Yesterday, as I was feeling miserable and listening to Lydia wake up from her nap, it suddenly dawned on me that it was Saturday. That meant that the Menards flier would be sitting in our mailbox, waiting for me. Yes folks, I love Saturdays and the Menards flier that it always brings me. Did I mention....dork!? :) Well, I opened the door to get the mail, and a package fell at my feet. It was a care package from my mom! That's much more exciting than a Menards flier! It was mostly full of things for the kiddos; bath toys, clothes (including a pair of blue crocs for Iain that match his Daddy's! and, incidentally, the very dress I saw at the store and wanted to get for Lydia, but couldn't justify spending anything then...thanks, mom!!!!) and chocolates for the grown-ups; yum!!!...well, yum in a few days. Right now they would taste about as good as glue. Mark's been enjoying them for both of us. Thanks, Mom! :) Oh, and the Menards flier wasn't all that interesting this week...or maybe it was just outdone.

Friday, April 30, 2010

On the other side, I hope

Thank you all for your prayers! Today I feel like I have a bad cold, but I no longer feel "horrid". I'd say my "ugh" is about a 3 today. Vast improvement, if you ask me!

I did go to see my Dr. yesterday, and took Lydia with me, for good measure. She was pulling on her ears just as I was about to leave, so I figured it would be good to get them checked. The good news is that neither she nor I have any infection. The kinda gross news is that I had a large-pea-sized piece of hardened wax in my right ear that was apparently the cause of my discomfort combined with the increased pressure in my middle ear due to congestion. The nurse was able to flush most of the wax out until my ear started bleeding a bit. Lovely. Well, at least now there's a good reason for my ear to be sore. Additionally, this morning my right ear finally "popped" releasing a lot of the built up pressure.

Last night was a gross marathon of sweating. I'm guessing my body was giving the final boot to the virus, but I had no idea a person could sweat so profusely for so long. I ended up sleeping on top of my bathrobe because the bed was wet and cold (gross, I know!)

I guess the positive out of all of this is that when I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, the person staring back at me more closely resembled what I looked like when I got married, than I've seen in years - esp. since having kids. Sickness is great for weight loss! I'm doubting it'll keep, esp. the water weight loss from last night, but hey, when I'm not feeling 100%, a little boost for my ego isn't such a bad thing! :)

Thanks again for all your prayers. And a H-U-G-E THANK YOU to my amazing husband, Mark, who has been nothing less than saintly during the past few days. I knew I married an amazing man, but, well, wow! :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

On a scale from one to ten...

...with one being the least "ugh" and ten being the most "ugh" ever, how would your rate your "ugh"?

About an 8. At this point, I'm pretty sure I have the swine flu. If it's not that, it must be a close relative of that or the plague. Either way, I feel like poo.

I'm sure it could be worse. Like I've been optimistically telling people, I don't have a headache!

These are my symptoms, in random order:

-Streaming/stuffy nose - starting to turn shades of pink
-Occasional productive cough
-Throat so sore it literally hurts like the dickens to even whisper
-Over-salivation leading to nausea and increased throat pain
-Double ear ache
-Threats of intestinal issues, though only minor so far

And as far as I can tell, Ibuprofen, which works like a miracle drug for my kiddos, does absolutely nothing for me. I finally gave up and tried Tylenol, 2 nights ago, and my fever finally broke...until the tylenol wore off, but at least I had some momentary relief from chills.

Now I'm on a Tylenol/Ibuprofen rotation, only because I'm nearly out of Tylenol and I'm trying to make it last longer. ...I know, I could just ask Mark to buy some more, but that never occurs to me when he calls to ask if he can pick up anything. No, no, I only think of the practicals like throat-numbing spray, popsicles and diet 7-up.

So, here I am, day 3 of feeling like my body is dissolving and I can't decide whether or not to be seen.

I know there's very little/nothing a doctor can do for a virus and I'm assuming that's what I have. However, I'm concerned that I'm also developing a sinus infection and 1 or 2 ear infections. These obviously are a little beyond my home-remedies. Yes, I already used my neti pot - my sinuses are so congested that it all ran down my throat and I'm not exactly a neti pot amateur. I also tried ginger juice in my ears for the ear ache which was supposed to bring immediate relief and be an anti-inflammatory as well. This turned out to be a practice I DON'T recommend. The "soothing heat" that they talked about felt more a burning coal in my ear canals. Reason #10000 why home remedies should never be practiced on children before you try them out yourself! Maybe if I had a killer ear ache the burning heat feeling would be a nice distraction from the ear ache - kind of like the idea that if you have a headache you should pinch your hand between your thumb and first finger. Apparently it hurts enough prompt your body to release some natural pain killer. Nice, eh? I'll try OTC meds, thank you very much.

So, time, gas, bills, is it all worth it if I'm going to be better tomorrow? But what if I'm not? And do I go to my Doctor who is farther away and more expensive for us, or do I go to urgent care which is local, wouldn't cost us a dime and has a pharmacy on site.

Ok, now that you all now how absolutely horrid I feel, I should get going and attend to my poor children. Well, Iain's having a blast with us all hanging out in his room while he plays with his toys, but Lydia has clearly reached her limit.

Oh, I'm also supposed to be asking A/C companies to come by to give us estimates. We have one, but would like a couple more to compare. The sale for the first company ends tomorrow, so it's a bit of an issue here. I can only imagine how those phone calls might go:

Betsy: calls A/C company
A/C: Hello?
Betsy: silence
A/C: Hellllo?
Betsy: (trying to whisper into the phone at an audible level) able to communicate request for estimate

A/C: I'm sorry, we have a policy against sending our personnel into viral bomb zones. Thanks for thinking of us!

So, what to do? I do feel somewhat responsible for the health and safety of those entering our home, but at the same time, I want to save $600. Oh money and viruses, how I dislike you both!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Where to begin?

-Kate visited for a week and a half. It was wonderful. We look forward to her return in July!
-We finished our renovation of the downstairs office and now have a fully carpeted guestroom/office complete with twin/king bed options and adjoining bathroom. Sweet deal, when are you coming for a visit?
-Iain had his first official case of diarrhea complete with scary lethargic colorlessness which prompted a visit to Urgent Care. He was fine after administration of a popsicle.
-Iain had further allergy testing done. We can now add soy, cats and tree pollen to the allergic-to list as well as needing to avoid ALL egg-containing products including baked goods. Booo. Poor Iain!
-Mark's parents arrived for a week-long, er, two week long visit. Thank you Volcano Euoilipoiqiuzbdiopaus (note: not correct spelling). It was truly wonderful to have them here for that bonus time!
-I had my last CT scan and at 5 years out from cancer treatment, am as close to officially cured as I can be. Cancer Free, Praise the Lord!
-Iain came down with Croup which prompted another visit to Urgent Care to make sure that was what it was. He looked ridiculously cute in his purple hospital gown with his diapered behind poking out the back of the gown. A dose of oral steroids and a popsicle later and we were home again. (Note: Yes, I am aware that popsicles can be purchased "over the counter").
-Shockingly, Lydia now has Croup. Knowing that this is indeed what it is, there has been no Urgent Care visit, just lots of Ibuprofen and some steamy bathroom visits.
-Can adults get Croup? If so, I think I feel it coming on. A quick Google search made it sound less than rosy for adults, but what else could this pain in my upper throat and kinda woozy head be?
-I'm addicted to lawn edging. My new-found passion has given me bursitis in every joint in both hands except the distal joint on my index fingers. Fortunately, said edging is nearing completion. I also have a new-found compassion for arthritis sufferers.
-Mark's Feast Day is this Sunday and I'm in the midst of making the traditional Archibald Fruit Cake. I also have to make my own marzipan for the first time because my supplier, World Market, folded along with everyone else, last year. I hope it turns out ok. I told Mark I'd attempt a lion as a decoration because St Mark is oft depicted as one and "Iain likes them. Why that's relevant is beyond me, but Mark tried to talk me into baseballs as decorations "for Iain" and I nixed that unholy idea. Back to the lion, I warned Mark that my attempt might end up looking more like Daisy, the ugly beast of a pot bellied pig who lives down the street, (and whose aroma wafts towards unsuspecting passers-by on hot windy summer days. blech.)
-My German language education has corrupted my correct English sentence construction (or perhaps that's just my excuse). I can't seem to remember the rule about capitalization of nouns. I know there's something about only capitalizing names and proper nouns, but what counts as proper gets all muddled in my head. Perhaps I'll ask my mom; she's sure to know. For now, nouns seem to make their way into my writing capitalized at inappropriate intervals according to some mash-mash of German/English/Betsy rules. I am aware of this and hopelessly unable to stop it. Feel free to add your corrections in the comments section. Perhaps if I get enough of them, the correct English rules will be restored to their rightful place in my brain.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Life Is Good

...Well, except the Lenten weather which has finally made its appearance halfway through this penitential season. But even the days on end (5 now, I believe, after 2 solid weeks of sunshine!) of overcast skies, fog and melting snow can't dampen my spirits because I'm hopeful that this means an early (for MN) Spring. Having said that, I give the weather until the first week of April before I will get up my hopes for green grass, flowers and leaves on trees - until then I have no real assurances that Ms. Winter won't "bless" us with an extended stay.

This morning was a bit of a victory for my brain. When Lydia was about 4 months old I was diagnosed with classic post-partum depression (PPD) and a blood-test also showed that I was low on many important vitamins/minerals/chemicals. Since then, I've been dutifully taking quite a few pills to get myself healthy and balanced. Let me tell you, I feel better than I've felt in years! To the point, I woke up early this morning to nurse Lydia and was actually excited about the day...excited! I remember feeling like that when I was under 10 - every day was a brand new adventure, even if there was nothing in particular planned. Under 10 to 28 - that's roughly 18 years and suddenly I had a little taste of that again. Crazy. Wonderful. It's amazing what being in optimal health will do for a person.

Besides feeling great mentally and physically (did I mention, I'm also now below my pre-Lydia weight!) We've had an exciting week, but it's March and that appears to be our pattern:
March 2005 - got engaged
March 2006 - moved to Minnesota
March 2009 - closed on our house
March 2010 - bought a minivan! Hurray!

We may own the most beautiful minivan I've ever seen - well, the exterior anyway. The interior is, uh, used. But to be honest, I'd rather have a not-so-nice interior than exterior. When we're driving down the street, no one will know that there are weird stains, worn seats and patches on the ceiling. All they see is a gorgeous silver Dodge Grand Caravan Sport (2000). Yes, it's pretty. Thank you, Jesus. It was also a steal at $1600. Crazy. God is good. Hopefully it won't die tomorrow (we did have a mechanic friend look it over before we bought it).

Mark and I are on a roll, enjoying the many home projects we can accomplish as a team. I am so grateful for how well we work together. Doing projects with Mark is a great joy and and it's so fun to stand back and marvel at them together when they're done. I may have mentioned that we finished the drop ceiling - all except the small landing at the bottom of the stairs. Maybe I'll get to that this weekend. The downstairs office, hall and bathroom look SO much better! Now we're on to an office-to-bedroom conversion. Well, actually it will be more of an office/bedroom combination. Since we've had an average of a house-guest a month since we've moved in, we decided (ok, I decided and got Mark excited) to make our office space downstairs a guest room. We have my sister followed by Mark's parents coming for a stay in the next month and we're looking forward to them giving the new setup a spin.

I apologize for the absence of any pictures in these past months of posts. I really should get some up soon. The kiddos are so big now - Iain looks like a little boy instead of a big baby, and Lydia looks like a big baby because, well, she is. The house is beautiful as always, and getting better project by project. Like I said, life is good. God is good. It doesn't feel much like Lent around here - thankfully (?) we have the weather to remind us of the season. :) God bless you all!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What's New

Iain is standing on a chair at the kitchen counter, taking cinnamon rolls out of the pan and "cutting" them with a butter knife. I can't say I mind all that much since I'm planning to make them into bread pudding; they turned out rather dry, but hey it was a yeast victory and they are 100% wheat flour. :)

At long last Iain has given Lydia a name. For the first 6 months of her life she was just "baby" but he has recently started calling her "Dia" (pronounced dee-ah). It's a name I hadn't thought of in all the months of wondering what he would call her. I always assumed she'd end up being "Wih-dee" or something similar. I think Dia is just lovely!

I think I have perfected my hummus recipe. Here are my last few tips... Garlic: a couple ROASTED cloves. Yum. Garbanzo beans: peel them. It's easily done by pinching/rolling a bean between your thumbs and index fingers of both hands. The bean pops right out of the skin. This makes for a smoother humus. For an extra yummy flavor, roasted red pepper is delish! Wait to add any water until after the red pepper addition - I learned this the hard way.

Glancing over at Iain, I'm realizing that my hopes for bread pudding may be evaporating as the cinnamon rolls are being turned into stuffing crumbs. Perhaps it's time to intervene. Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

For Heidi

I did think about posting the hummus recipe, but my silly brain tells me things like "your blog is turning into a cookbook" or "people that like hummus probably already have a good recipe" so I didn't. But you're right, it's worth sharing.

A little background: On Wednesday I was making a mexican lasagna, a dish based on the what-do-I-have-around-here concept of cooking. I intended to include a can of black beans but a 3 ft distraction meant that when I looked into the can I had just opened, I saw garbanzo beans staring back at me. Oops. I had bought them on a whim a couple months ago thinking that perhaps I'd make hummus...someday. Needless to say, those little beige beans in front of me meant that someday had arrived, well, sort of. I put them in the fridge for a soon-but-not-now-someday and opened the correct can of black beans and finished dinner.

Yesterday, I had planned on grabbing some Lenten Friday food at the grocery store. When my plans changed, I scoured the kitchen for a meatless meal solution. Lo, there were my garbanzo beans waiting for me in the fridge. ;) (hehe, yes, I just wrote "lo")

I've made hummus once or twice and I have to say I'm not a fan of tahini which seems a crucial ingredient. I've heard of substituting peanut butter but a) the thought kind of makes my stomach turn b) Iain's allergic and I really wanted him to be able to eat the hummus. Recalling that tahini is sesame spread, I wondered if I could substitute sesame oil. I googled it and came up with the following recipe from this link, that seemed quite promising:

  • 1 can chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and towel dried
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons warm water


In a food processor, blend chickpeas lemon juice and olive oil. Add garlic and spices, then sesame oil and water and blend to a smooth paste. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if mixture is too dry.

I made a few adjustments to my version:

-I only used 1 tbs. sesame oil (the stuff is very strong)
-Because I used less of the above, I used a bit more water for a total of nearly 4 tbs.
-I did use 2 crushed cloves of garlic but even with 2 it was a LOT of garlic flavor. I'm thinking maybe next time I'll try using garlic powder for a less punchy flavor. That or perhaps just 1 fresh clove. If you try either, let me know how it works for you.

So, that's the great hummus recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thank you, Jesus, for friends!

Warning: this post may ramble.

Mark is gone for the annual Men's Retreat, leaving me here with my two favorite blessings. As much as I might gripe, internally (I hope), about Mark's busy work and school schedule, I must say that it has prepared me well to be 24/7 single-parent while he's gone. ...ok, except for getting up at the crack of 8 am with Iain. Yes, I'm spoiled.

Mark left at 7:30 this morning and I decided it was sleep-in day. Iain actually obliged after a bit of crying, and fell back to sleep (or gave up?) and we all slept in. I fed Lydia a couple times in there, but we all managed to get a few extra hours of sleep. It was wonderful. Surprisingly, Iain was rather hungry when we all got up and asked for "Daddy? Chicken?" as soon as I walked into his room. I'm sure it would warm Mark's heart to know that Iain has actually asked for him quite a few times today, and seems to know that it's just not right that he's not here.

Knowing that I had a full weekend of entertaining kiddos ahead of me, I planned, planned, planned. We started off with a bath for Iain, followed by running some errands. I was even successful in my find-a-reasonably-priced-exersaucer-hunt (from Once Upon A Child)! Iain seems to like it...Lydia does too, I think.

We all crashed for a late nap. I paid for it this evening, putting Iain down around 9 and having him up again for about 1/2 an hour at 10. Well, here's to hoping that he sleeps long in the morning (can you tell I'm not a morning person?) :)

I was going to cap off the day with a grocery run, but a friend called and asked if she and another friend could come over. Shortly thereafter, another friend called to say she was just finishing up Stations/dinner at church across the street and could she stop by. It was wonderful. I guess when the guy is gone the gals will call...hmm, that doesn't read as well as it sounded in my head.

The long and the short of it is that I had 3 friends over this evening and we all sat around and ate my homemade hummus (I found a great recipe!) and watched speed-skating for hours. We also drank some Baileys. yum!

Well, Lydia is crying. No rest of the...well-rested, actually :) I'm delighted to say! Let's pray it stays that way and that I make it to Sunday with my sanity intact-ish.

God bless you all!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Why buy pizza ever again?"

This was Mark's question, last night, after a homemade pizza victory. To be honest, I've never tried to make homemade pizza. If you've read my recent adventure with cinnamon rolls, you may correctly guess why: pizza dough is a yeast bread. 'Nuff said.

Besides being scared off by the prospect of making yeast dough, there is just no way to get around the fact that homemade pizza is not the real deal. I suppose one might convince oneself that homemade pizza is a different product all together and thereby move beyond that hindrance, but as good as I might be at self-brainwashing, I still love "real" pizza too much, and hate yeast dough too much, to want to waste time on a sub-par homemade pizza. If you've ever had homemade pizza, you're probably well-acquainted by the deficiencies: (and I mean no offense to my mother who makes a darn good homemade pizza - as homemade pizzas go). The temperature (or lack) of the oven is largely to blame. Pizzas made on a cookie sheet or other flimsy metal baking pan are the worst of the worst. They end being something between casserole and lasagna. Whatever they are, they're not pizza. Pizza made on a pizza stone is a vast improvement, as the stone absorbs a great deal of heat and does to the crust what a baking sheet/pan could never do - gives it its crustiness. However, even this lends itself towards a dry crunchy/tough crust and, true American that I am, I'm not looking for some dry fancy thin crust, no, I want that amazing deep-dish experience that you can only get from your local pizzaria. You know what I mean - ok, let's admit it: greasy, crusty on the outside, soft and lovely on the inside, deliciousniciousness that is "real" pizza.

How to accomplish this? Was it even possible?

That was why I never wasted my time on homemade pizza. Until one day, when I had a three-word-epiphany:

Cast. Iron. Skillet.

Even then, it took awhile for me to brave the experiment. It wasn't until we were so desperately out of groceries that all I could scrounge up for dinner was a list of the following:

-Frozen roll dough (storebought - a wonderful way to get around making the dreaded yeast dough!)
-Sharp Cheddar Cheese
-Shredded Parmesan Cheese
-Ham delimeat
-Red Onion

And that's when I put it together, along with the jar of pizza sauce sitting in the cupboard, bought just after my epiphany, in hopes that one day the dream would come to life.

I defrosted 9 frozen dough balls in the oven and when doubled in size put them in an oiled bowl and kneaded them together. I let that rest for a bit and when it looked alive, I transferred it to my well-oiled (bottom and sides!) cast iron skillet. I only have a 12" pan, but I think I'll be buying a larger one for future pizza nights. (Note: I think 9 rolls was too many; I'll try 6 next time). I stretched the dough to fit, letting it rest for about 5 minutes when it wouldn't stretch more. (Note: I recalled, at the end, that the preferred method is to flatten the dough and grab it by the edge, so it hangs free and rotate the dough, allowing gravity to pull it to the preferred circular size. I will try that next time).

Having fit the dough to the skillet, I let it rise just a bit. Then came the fun part: making it yummy.

I put a garlic clove through a garlic press and spread the mush around the perimeter crust portion of the dough, followed by a bit of salt. (Note: I will use 2 cloves next time). The crust was completed by a liberal sprinkling of shredded parmesan cheese. (I left the cheese off a portion for Iain who is allergic to dairy).

I spread on the store-bought pizza sauce, cut up some ham, sliced some red onion, and topped it off with parmesan and shredded cheddar cheese (b/c that's what I had on hand).

I preheated the oven to a blistering 500 degrees and popped that sucker in. I baked it for about 12 minutes, but in the future will go for around 15, maybe even a bit more - we were hungry and impatient.

I also should have let it rest in the pan a bit longer after removing it from the oven, before serving it, as our seconds were a bit crispier on the bottom and thereby even more tasty than our firsts.

This was GREAT pizza. I highly recommend this method for homemade pizza. It bakes up to a delicious deep-dish crust with all the elements that I had previously found lacking in homemade pizzas: crispy without being dry, soft/chewy inside without being tough, good flavor (esp. the garlic/parm crust!), in a word: YUM!

Mark is attending the annual SPO banquet tonight, so I will be trying attempt #2 this evening. I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

P.S. You can't beat the price! I think the cost of this pizza was in the neighborhood of about $2-3. (Using cheese from Sam's Club cuts costs, otherwise cheese can get pricey).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mommy's morning off...or not

I love my children; I really do. But when I got a call from the NET office, asking if I could come in for 3 hours to help address invitations for the annual NET banquet - with childcare and lunch provided, it was a no-brainer. Let's see: stuffing, stamping and addressing (which I enjoy doing) chatting with other lady friends (which I enjoy doing) letting other trusted folks watch my kids and give Iain some social time (which both of us enjoy) and free lunch (which I enjoy!) yep, sounded like a winner to me.

It was a nice morning. The only downside is that I had the "problem" children of the day. I told them, when I dropped Iain off, that he takes a couple minutes to settle in and goes through a bit of separation anxiety. This usually lasts from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. When he appeared with a NET staffer, not 5 minutes later, looking quiet content, I could only guess poopy diaper. Nope. Apparently, one of the other children told this NET staffer that Iain missed him mommy, prompting a visit to find me. Hunh. Any guesses how much childcare experience this staffer has had? I'm guessing not much. Perfectly pleasant Iain quickly turned into cling-to-mommy-as-though-your-life-depends-on-it Iain as I walked him back to the gym. About 10 minutes later a screaming Lydia was escorted to me, for feeding. I decided to keep her with me, as she does just fine playing on the floor. Not 10 minutes after that, another (inexperienced?) NETer brought Iain in again, with claims that he'd been asking to go to the bathroom. Now, Iain is big for his age, there's no denying that, but considering he was clearly wearing a diaper, it seems a likely guess is he's not potty-trained. Further, he wasn't poopy or very wet. Final verdict from every mom in the room: poor kid was trying any tactic he could come up with to use on these suckers to get himself back to mommy. Needless to say, he wasn't too happy about heading back to the gym, again.

After all that, I thought naps would be a cinch. But no, it was threatening to be a no-nap day for both my little ones, up until about 20 minutes ago. It's about the time when Iain usually gets up from his nap and I believe he's finally settled into one. Here's hoping.

In case you're worried for my poor children, I'll add that I'm fairly sure that Iain is a mini-me in regards to his need for mommy-attention. From what I've seen, his behavior in settings like the above is a fairly good barometer of his need for quality mommy time. So, I see quite a bit of that in our future. :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Iain's Spa and Style

Mark and I are hoping to go to Hawaii later this year to celebrate our fifth anniversary. This may sound like a bit of a crazy dream to some, especially considering Mark's uh, modest, salary. However, if's package deals are any indication, this poor economy in which we have been living may once again do us a favor. We shall see...there are still quite a few variables to sort through, not limited to a nursing babe, future pregnancy (last night I had a dream about #3!), the cost of central a/c, purchasing a new-to-us minivan, etc. etc. In spite of all these obstacles, I am a firm believer that, as my father always says, money is a tool. If it's a tool, it's not the ends, and I am certainly not looking for a pile of cash to sit in for our fifth anniversary (or to drive around in, for that matter). I believe that we will have a wonderful fifth anniversary, however we celebrate it. (Though, come to think of it, the nursing babe and future pregnancy aren't really obstacles that can have money thrown, or not thrown, or whatever, at them.) hmmm.

Just in case Hawaii doesn't pan out, I am blessed to live with Minnesota's greatest masseur. He's an exceptionally talented 2 year old. He doesn't know he's a masseur, and seems to be under the impression that mommy's back is the world's funnest jungle-gym. It works like this: I'm exhausted and lie down on the living room floor. Iain comes over and climbs, walks and tumbles all over my back. It's wonderful. What's not so wonderful, as I discovered this morning, is when he has shoes on - not because of my back; in fact, with the strength of the knots in my back, the shoes feel great - but rather because when he stepped on and subsequently slid off my head, my hair stayed with his shoe and I heard and felt a rather agonizing riiiiiiiiip and saw a lovely bunch of my hair walk across the floor attached to his shoes. Ouch. As much as I'd love to have a chic-short hairstyle, this isn't the way I had envisioned achieving it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Married to a saint

Knowing that a happy wife makes a happy home, Mark spent the evening redoing my laptop. Being "amish" I can not explain what he did, but what I do know is this: things look a little different and my keystrokes appear immediately. Hurray! :)

For those of you waiting with great anticipation to hear what Mark thought about my outfit, yesterday, his exact words upon entering the house were "interesting outfit." He wasn't sold on it until he read my blog at which point he said he supposed he might be coming around to it.

As for my recent post about desiring greater creativity, I did not intend to belittle or ignore whatever "gift" I may have as a writer - and while I do acknowledge enjoying writing, I also know that my grammar, punctuation and word usage often leave much to be desired. I consider my writing akin to my opinion of playing basketball: I love "street ball," but start focusing on the rules and roles and I quickly lose interest. Additionally, writing is fun and I enjoy sharing my thoughts and stories, but it's not a material craft, and I suppose that's what I was getting at. All that aside, it's so nice to know that there are some out there in internet land who read and enjoy my posts - otherwise I don't think there would be any convincing Mark or myself that this was at all a worthwhile use of my time!

To close, I'll leave those of you in dreary MI wishing you were here: It's a beautifully cloudless sunny day and we've got about 25+ inches of accumulated crisp white snow on the ground. On the not-so-positive side of things, this is a classic headache day. It's just too darn bright. Oh the things I have to suffer through here in gorgeous Minnesota. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sasquatch Lives!

Today, I feel ridiculously feminine and I'm hazarding a guess that it's a good thing Mark isn't here to "appreciate" it. I'm sure you recall my prior mention of a hatred for current fashion that demands layering in order to be decent. (I'm also feeling similarly toward my laptop, which is displaying my typing with a 10 keystroke delay.) Perhaps this is another veiled (pardon the pun) answer to my prayer for increased creativity, but I have suddenly found myself dreaming up strange new wardrobe ideas. Today, for instance, I am wearing my new post-post-partum-but-not-quite-"my"-size-yet jeans (regardless, I feel very skinny in them because the cut is fabulous!) and a gray turtleneck sweater on top of which I have on a short-sleeved, lowish-cut blue blousey shirt. I can only imagine what my sister, who never let me live down wearing sweaters UNDER my overalls as a child, would say! :) Yes, I have layered on top of a sweater. Strangely, I love the look - it's got an early 60s vibe to it, I believe. As I already mentioned, I'm not sure Mark would feel the same...but by the time he comes home from work I'll have had a few hours to decide if it's presentable enough to demand that he conform to my unusual fashion expression.

As for the title of this post, my look is completed by my new shoes. New Shoes!!! This is a rare treat for someone like me - wearer of the elusive size 12 shoe, as many of you know. On a family date at the Mall of America, we stopped in Norsdstrom Rack (think high-end TJ Maxx) because they carry larger shoe sizes, though their selection is usually paltry at best. Mark was excited to see that they have their semi-annual large shoe sale coming up on Feb. 20th and quickly signed up to receive mailings for these events. He felt a little silly signing up for women's shoe info, but I appeared at his side, large feet in tow, to save him from embarrassment.

We briefly perused the rack where Mark found a shoe and tossed it to me to try on. I was skeptical until it was on my foot, then it was love. True love. I was even wearing normal socks, not thin ones, and it was the most heavenly shoe experience - there was even space to wiggle my toes! And did I mention the style? Beautiful brown suede "ballet" flats. So cute! So feminine! So......SIZE 13?!?!?! Well, that explained the comfort. I'm trying to laugh so I don't cry. Meanwhile I'm chanting to myself a mantra about size not mattering if they're cute and comfy.
We bought them and I'm wearing them, and I love them. I'm coming to terms with the fact that these may be the most comfortable shoes I've worn in years, and now I know feet are bigger than even I imagined. Sasquatch indeed. Thank you Lord for Nordstrom Rack and their upcoming large shoe sale event. There is my silver lining.

By the way, for any of you fellow large-footed women out there, I've come up with a more self-esteem-friendly way to describe my large feet, as well as my large hands: I simply have long bones. Doesn't that sound so much more elegant? With the good comes the bad and a side-effect of having long bones, which makes for long legs (the envy of many women, to be sure) comes other long bones - feet, hands, arms (I've given up wishing for shirts that have sleeves that reach my wrists). So, I will try to be happy with my long bones that have given me long legs and be grateful for stores like Nordstrom Rack who have remembered us long-footed women.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A little bit of everything

The other night, I had a dream about grass...lawn grass mind you, nothing of the illegal sort. On that note, I'm looking forward to having some again in a few months. Last year I gave myself permission to ignore the yard while adjusting to a new home and a new baby. I knew I'd have 9 months of winter in which to plan exactly what I wanted to do with my 1/3 of a beautiful acre. Having awoken from my winter coma, I realize that it's already February and I haven't given our outside property a single thought, other than to occasionally notice that the sidewalks and driveway need to be shoveled. Some of our ideas include a "christmas" tree in the front, a bird-feeder within view of the kitchen window, a vegetable garden in the back, other flowers in the front....yes, well, we shall see.

In other news, my parents were here for the past week and we had a wonderful time with them. Iain is now a 2 year old and the proud owner of many fabulous new toys. I just hope we have more sons so that all these boy-toys get plenty of use! :)

For the past few months, I've been moping about not being a particularly creative person. I have so many artistically gifted friends that it makes my lack of creativity that much more apparent to me. Additionally, while they constructively spend their "free" time doing all sorts of wonderful crafty things, I find myself at a bit of a loss when I find myself with some time on my hands. While I could knit another scarf or do a puzzle, I don't simply want to waste time, rather, I have a desire to be productive even while passing the time. So, silly as it seemed, I asked my women's group for prayers in this regard. I wanted a worthwhile and productive past time or hobby. Little did I know, I was living amidst the answer.

Though it took a good two weeks or so to make the connection (how blind we are at times) no sooner had I asked for prayers for this, than I had a burning desire to finish the drop-ceiling downstairs. Additionally, out of nowhere I found myself dreaming about repainting the stairs. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that my first thought was "am I pregnant?!" How else could I explain this sudden nesting fit I was experiencing. As you might guess, I am not and further, as is true for most women, I do not "nest" until the latter months of pregnancy. It was not until I arrived at women's group on Monday that I made the connection. I excitedly shared the good news of my answered prayer and how I had just completed the office ceiling and am looking forward to finishing up the rest. "Ambitious" was the word one of them used, but I suppose it's all one's abilities. I consider many of their creative outlets quite a bit more ambitious than my ceiling or stairs simply because I do not share their natural giftings in those areas. Regardless, it's wonderful to have projects to do and insodoing improve our home and therefore our family life. Hurray! and Praise the Lord! :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Could this be love? (er, of a materialistic nature)

Yes, I'm Amish. Ok, I'm not. I'm finally admitting it. I'm simply a computer-illiterate child of computer-literate parents with computer-literate siblings. That's why I think my dream may have just come true:

Will I ever own one? Not likely. Will I insist on going to the Apple Store so I can see it when it comes out? Um, probably. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is it time for a change?

Do you have the winter blues? Are you looking for more sun than not, fallen snow that doesn't melt until Spring and friends close by? Well, do I have the house for you!

Without giving out our exact location (I hope) I'll simply say that this house is close enough to ours that we could reasonably call ourselves neighbors...

According to our county's website, this house is on the market for about 60k under tax value. That's quite a steal, in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Beat the Clock

It's nap time in the Archibald home, or was until about 3o seconds ago when I decided to start a blog entry. I knew I was running short on time, but had to chuckle when I heard the first sounds of wakeful life as soon as I opened my laptop. Go figure.

Just thought I'd share that I've had a truly wonderful day. After dropping Mark off at the office, the kiddos and I picked up "Ah-geek" (Iain's version of Lydia's Godmother) and off we all went to IKEA. We spent the better part of 3 or so hours wandering and rewandering through that delicious store. Yes, delicious. It's a feast for the eyes.

After successfully extracting ourselves, having purchased only what we intended to buy (unless you count a 99 cent lint brush, which I do not) I came home, plopped the kiddos down for naps and headed off the gym while Ah-geek stayed and held down the fort. THANK YOU! I watched parts of 2 Duggar episodes while working up a sweat and returned home.

Ah-geek and I enjoyed an omelet apiece for a late lunch and then she headed out. I ate a bite or two of chocolate and headed for the shower. There is nothing better than a hot shower...esp. when the water doesn't turn cold 3 minutes later. Often that happens. I have trained myself to enjoy a snappy quick hot shower and jump out while the water is still hot rather than lingering until the 4th minute when the hot water runs out and I become wet and cold and shivery. Fortunately, my hairdryer that I left in MI over Christmas has been returned so I have that as a back-up for immediate heat if I miscalculate the amount of hot water I have left. A cold shivery end to a shower followed by hours of cold wet hair is not a pleasant experience.

As you may have noticed, that one peep has been followed by silence, and I have completed a completely random blog entry for your enjoyment. Off to start dinner. What a day :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Of Yeast and...

Having recently acquired a beautiful Food Processor (FP) with a contraption and buttons that knead dough, I decided it was time to try my hand at a yeast bread...again. yikes. I've attempted a number of yeast breads in my 4 years of marriage. In all these attempts, I don't recall a success. What I do remember is hours of work and mess and waiting and more work and flour everywhere and at the end of all that, a rubbery underbaked non-risen lump of breadish substance. To put it bluntly, yeast bread and I are not friends.

As already mentioned, one of the reasons I desperately wanted this FP was that it removed me from the grotesque and laborious process of kneading. Yes, Amish though I will ever claim to be, I must admit that God knew what He was doing when he gave me life during this gadget-filled era.

While grocery shopping last week I managed to muster up enough courage to pick up 2 packages of yeast. For those frequent bakers out there, you know that a package is actually 3 packets in a row. How much each of those packets contains was heretofore a mystery to me. Thank you, yeast sellers of the world for simplifying and thereby confusing something so important. To my knowledge, there are no other baking items that are sold in individual portions for the "ease" (read: confusion) of the inexperienced baker who has to use that nifty invention called a measuring spoon/cup for EVERYTHING else that goes in a baked product. Well, complaining aside, I bought them.

Yesterday was THE day. I was going to put my beautiful FPs kneading thingy to work. Gloriously, both kids were sleeping and I knew I had a couple of hours free from motherly duties. I settled on cinnaomon rolls figuring that even if they ended up like my previous yeast bread attempts, at least they would still be sweet and cinnamon-y. In otherwords, I would still eat them.

Breaking the Cardinal Rule of cooking - make sure you have all the ingredients BEFORE you start -I realized too late that I was short on flour...about 1/2 short. Oops. My cupboards are full of an odd assortment of flour and flour-like substances. I quickly nixed the whole wheat option. I'm sure 1/2 whole wheat wouldn't have been too bad, but thinking I must have a better option, I kept hunting. That's when I came across an unopened package of wheat-free, gluten-free flour that I had bought for Iain a while back. It claimed a 1:1 substitution for wheat flour. Perfect.

Prior to adding the flour, I had to add the dreaded ingredient...the YEAST. The recipe, from my mother, stated "2 yeast cakes." Looking at my little row of yeast packets and knowing there was nothing resembling a "cake" inside, I picked up the phone and called my mom. Dad answered. Mom was not home. What I should've done next is turned to the internet, but no, I had a vague notion that the package would tell me. Low and behold, it stated clearly that 3 packets of yeast (1 package) equalled 1 two-ounce yeast cake. Problem solved. I had 6 packets which would equal 2 yeast cakes.

Looking at my recipe and my 6 packets of yeast, this seemed to me to be a great quantity of yeast, but I, the inexperienced and wounded yeast-baker, figured that I should probably err on the side of caution and add all the yeast that I thought was being called for rather than risk the alternative, with which I was too well acquainted.

In went 6 yeast packets, followed by a harmonious mixture of gluten-filled and gluten-free flours. I pressed the dough button. Hey presto, my mass became dough. Hurray!...until I took off the lid. PEEE-YOU! Something didn't smell right. Well, it's not like it was rancid (though that was my first guess, but the dates were all fine) but it certainly didn't smell like the cinammon roll dough of my youth. Nor did it taste like it.

By this time I was chatting on the phone with my sister, Heidi, who had by then suggested that perhaps a "yeast cake" equaled a single packet of yeast (which, by the way, was later confirmed by my mom) rather than the erroneous 2 oz yeast cake substitution mentioned on the back of the package (no doubt put there by yeast sellers who are trying to make a tidy profit off of inexperienced bakers who don't know what a "cake" is.) I explained the whole flour substitution to Heidi and how this mass just didn't smell right. While talking, I reached for the gluten-free package to determine exactly what "flour" I had just made my dough with. Ingredient number one: GARBANZO BEAN flour. Need I say more? fava bean flour was also mentioned.


Instantly I knew exactly what I was smelling/tasting. I was making bean-flavored cinnamon rolls. With about 3x too much yeast. So much for a healing-of-memories baking session.

Looking at my rising mass of sweet bean dough, I knew I had 2 choices: forge ahead or chuck the thing in the garbage. Knowing that the hard part was behind me, I figured I might as well perservere too the end and if it was all as bad as I feared, the garbage would still be standing in the corner as a willing recipient of my hard work.

A bit of melted butter and a veritable ton of cinnamon/sugar (yes, I was trying to drown the bean flavor) a bit more rising and I threw them in the oven. 15 minutes later, out they came, looking absolutely beatiful and promising to be delicious morsels of tastiness...a promise I knew they couldn't possibly keep.

Iain and I tasted them while they were still warm. Iain enjoyed them, but then again, I don't think he's ever had cinnamon rolls so bean or no bean, he would love them. I on the other hand, definitely detected the bean flavor. Fortunately, post-oven the flavor was significantly reduced. Today, a day later, either my taste buds have completely failed me, or the cooled and rested rolls have assumed a near-normal flavor. The only significant evidence they give of the bean flour is their crumbly texture. As for the yeast, my mom further explained the yeast needs gluten to work, and using gluten-free flour probably wouldn't produce an adequate rise. Therefore, my overuse of yeast most likely worked in my favor.

Thank you FP for inspiring me to plunge into a yeast education. And thank you to my mom for returning my call.