Posts Tagged '#graceinsmallthings'

Everyday Cake

Yesterday when Luke asked (using the power of his magical dimples) if we could make a cake together, how could I say no? It was a sweet afternoon; we walked to the store in the sunshine for eggs and buttermilk and then got to making a mess in the kitchen, just the two of us.

102

We had such a good time. Sometimes I struggle to let go and let my kids REALLY help me with baking or cooking projects. The mess and energy and just overall chaos of little kids with spatulas and measuring cups (yelling ‘I can do it!!!!’ at the top of their lungs) can be overwhelming not to mention I might be a tad bit over-controlling when it comes to how I want things done.

189

But yesterday we got it right. Lu was helpful and listened and followed instructions and I was calm and patient and took a deep breath and LET him do it on his own.

And the best part? We made a cake. And it was delicious. One layer of buttermilk vanilla cake with a lemon cream cheese frosting and strawberries. It tasted like spring.

186

Buttermilk Cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a ten inch round cake pan with cooking spray or butter and lightly flour it. You could also use a 9×9 square cake pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside. In a mixer cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture in three parts alternating with the buttermilk. Mix together until well-combined. Pour batter into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn it upside down on a cooling rack and pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • splash of milk
  • the zest of one lemon
  • pinch of salt

In a mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese until they are well-combined. Add the vanilla, salt and lemon zest and continue to mix. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of milk to get to desired texture.

When the cake is cool, liberally frost the top of the cake. Garnish with fresh strawberries.

Taking Stock

I’ve been fighting the winter blues for weeks. January is notoriously hard but this year probably takes the cake. Lots of looming questions about the future, short days, cutting out sugar; it can make everything feel terrible so quickly. The fog and damp cold gray days feel like a wet blanket clinging to everything and my tendency to brood has obviously gone into overdrive. After yelling at EVERYONE this morning, even the poor dogs didn’t escape my fury, I realized I need a new perspective. As soon as possible.

010

So I cleaned my carpet and washed my windows. Two things I really didn’t want to do, but when I finished it felt like I’d scrubbed away a little of my bad attitude.

I went to bible study. I didn’t really want to go. But I went and I was encouraged and listened to and I noticed I felt a little better.

We talked about being grateful. About saying thank you and making that the focus of life…not all the stuff that makes us feel bad or consumes us with worry or draws us away from the truth. And the truth is that God is love and He never changes that way.

208

So I’m wrestling with that, wondering how to change the way I think and drinking a cup of tea and listening to Mumford and Sons. Little by little my life is coming back into perspective. Just a little.

Today I’m grateful for a clean slate to start over. For random phone calls from my husband and texts from friends. For the peace lily on my kitchen counter and the sweet toddlers sleeping cozy in their beds.

When I take stock in my life, I am overwhelmed by its goodness. And I feel sheepish for being so cranky. Here’s to holding onto a simple truth: gratitude beats out brooding every time.

243

Kinder Transition

Well.

The day finally arrived.

Kindergarten.

032

One of those cheesy lines about your heart walking around outside your body would be appropriate right here.

It was just so…hard. Good hard, a little yucky hard, but as the week goes on, a little better.

There were tears. A few from him, mostly from me (after I dropped him off…I at least made it to the parking lot). It breaks my heart into a million pieces when he curls up in a chair and begs to not have to go. But today he was ready, no tears, and he played on the playground before school like a boss, lining up for the teacher when the whistle blew.

Luke, Scarlet and I walk home a little forlorn, feeling tangibly that we are missing a crew member.

We watch the clock, Luke asking several times throughout the morning if it’s time to pick up Jack. Finally, the morning winds down and we head out again. This week we’ve had it easy, just half days. Next week the full days begin.

036

We are greeted by a happy boy. He is thriving already.

And my grief over missing him and worrying about how he’ll spend his days loosens just a bit. So many tiny moments of tender grace already sprinkled throughout our week. Encouraging text messages and phone calls from friends. The discovery of a new friend just down the street. Warm afternoons to play and swim and just be. A kind teacher who is understanding of high-maintenance worried parents.

I saw a bumper sticker a week or so ago that said ‘Fear Not’ with a verse attached (I can’t remember the actual verse. whoops). And at first, I didn’t give it a second thought. People’s religious or political opinions displayed on their vehicles don’t usually get a rise out of me, but for some reason I found myself thinking about that bumper sticker all week.

And now I’m laughing, because I hope the lady that plastered it to the back of her SUV knows that somehow that sticker actually did some good. Because, for me, it’s been this wonderful freeing reminder that I don’t need to worry. I just don’t.

So I’m trying to pray when I start to worry. And then I laugh a little to myself because I think of the bumper sticker and then I pray a little more and all of a sudden I remember that everything is going to be ok.

Jack will be ok. Our family will be ok. Whatever comes: the good and the bad, because there’s no escaping any of it, we will just take one day at a time. And in the midst of the grind and the hard, whether its the good hard or the yucky hard, we’ll just do our best to ‘FEAR NOT.’

On Being Quiet and When It’s Time To Push Through

I’ve let a whole year go by, full to the brim with memories and meals and friends and kids who just keep growing and growing. We are two weeks away from a whole new season around here: kindergarten. New school shoes have been purchased and just today a ‘big-kid’ lunchbox and water bottle.

I have resisted documenting the day to day because I’m hyper-sensitive to the criticism that blogs aren’t an authentic representation of a person’s life. Also, there’s a lot of navel-gazing and it’s as obnoxious to write about as it is to read sometimes.

But I just read about how when you tell a story, you have to narrow the big picture down to one tiny corner. Just describe that little spot in the upper-left hand corner and then go from there.

So here is a tiny corner, a little tidbit, that hopefully someday will jog my children’s memory and cause them to smile:

We are deeply entrenched in summer living. The house is almost always in some form of disarray. It’s cold cereal for breakfast and peanut butter for lunch. It’s too hot to play outside in the afternoon and Legos can literally be found on every surface in this house. I found some in my bed yesterday and stepped on one in the shower. How this happens is beyond me.

052

The boys are deeply tanned from a summer at the lake, riding bikes and swimming in friend’s pools. Scarlet’s baby-fine hair is bleached out and her cheeks are perpetually sun-kissed.

The wrestling is constant. So is the eating. But when I can step back from the chaos (which I’m not always very good at) I really relish at what good friend’s the kids are. They are happy and robust and so so loud. I beg them to sit down, to chew with their mouths closed, to pick up their shoes. But then they spend hours building legos or making forts or having some sort of complicated war/adventure in the backyard and I just love them so stinking much.

082

Isn’t that the crux of family life? It can be so constant, so totally taxing yet its the very best thing and when even one of your people is missing, it’s almost like you’ve lost a limb.

135

We took a day trip to Mount Rainier last weekend. We needed trees and fresh air and a break from the heat. So we loaded the car with water bottles and sandwiches and headed west. In the 9 years we’ve lived in our little Valley, we’ve never ventured there and now we regret every day we DIDN’T go because it was so stunning.

We chose a 1 mile each direction hike and set out. Luke and Scarlet climbed in and out of the stroller. We got in people’s way. There was a fair amount of whining. Aaron and I looked at each other silently wondering if this was worth the 2 hour drive. And then, all of a sudden, the kids spotted a snow field off in the distance and they pumped to see snow in August. And suddenly our little hike turned into a way bigger one but everyone was happy and energized. We made it to that snow, tossing soggy snowballs at each other, cooling down from our hike. We dipped fingers in glacier run-off and scooted back to the lodge for much-deserved ice cream cones.

It was a good good day. One of so many. I just need to write them down more often.

 

 

I figure I have 10 minutes max before my dilapidated laptop crashes on me, but one of my resolutions this year was to write again and four months into the year I haven’t done a thing.

I decided my desk in the kitchen is no longer good inspiration. The debris from daily life is too distracting. So I unplugged and went outside. I even took a picture for proof…or maybe as a reminder to try this again another day.

254

A mom at preschool drop-off this morning asked the ever-loaded ‘what are you up to these days?’ question. Why does such a simple question feel like a punch to the gut some days?

‘Just momming,’ I answered casually.

But it stopped me in my tracks. What am I doing these days? Mothering. Cleaning. Pushing swings, wiping butts, countertops and toilet seats. Driving my car, reading stories, cooking food, saying no, saying maybe, doling out timeouts, jobs, discipline, hugs and kisses.

Also, I’m working out. And as I was running today, the thought occurred to me that for literally six years to the month my body has been working hard at sustaining other people’s lives. I have literally been pregnant or nursing with only a tiny 3 month window from January 2008 through January 2014.

And when my body was working so hard during that time I was proud of it. All those flaws that bothered me faded to the background just a little bit. That stuff that eats at me when I look in the mirror and echoes in my brain; it was just background noise. I had this intuitive respect and kindness for my body. It gave me three precious babies and I fed them with my own body, watching them grow and thrive. You can’t hate yourself when you have such tangible proof of its usefulness.

And then that season came to an end. As it was supposed to. My baby and nursing years are over. And I’m all wrapped up in relief and grief. What is my purpose now? Of course it’s to continue mothering…

But I am connecting how much I appreciate the feeling of my body at work. And so instead of growing babies, I’m hitting the pavement. Slogging along, huffing and puffing, feeling equal parts deflated and elated as I compel my body towards strength, resilience. The soreness in my legs and the burning in my lungs, pushes all those thoughts into the background. Those flaws melt away just a little and I’m simply me. Breath in. Breath out.

All to say, I’m not really sure what I’m up to these days. It’s a loaded question. Surely the sweet spot of balance is out there somewhere, maybe I’ll find it this year?

A New Day Rises

A post sitting in my drafts for two weeks and finally the words came. Little glimpses of the kids, what they are doing, talking about, the things I want to remember.

And when I go to grab a few photos to add to the post, the computer shakes and smokes, freezing up and forgetting those precious words.

Grrr.

Stupid technology. Stupid me for taking two weeks to write a dang post.

And now the baby cries from her crib, because that’s how it works. So much has happened this winter, packaged up in the regular everyday. The kids growing and changing and I want to remember. So for today, just pictures, and hopefully hopefully when I look back a few years now they will remind me and I will laugh. Luke’s first trip to the doctor for glue on his forehead three days before Christmas, Jack’s never ending love for all things Cabelas, an unbelievable family vacation, Scarlet’s infatuation with shoes and jewelry and babies. The sweetness and the chaos.

008 083 100 010 064 175

Instagram is My New Blog

Instagram kind of took over my blog this year. I love sharing little snapshots of our days. I love seeing friends and family and all the little mini stories and photos they post.

022

But Instagram is just a tiny piece. A singular moment. And blogging is a fraction more than that, but still,  it’s a little bigger. It forces words and thoughts. It’s storytelling. And I want more of that.

***

127

I’m fully embracing my love of indie pop. Regina Spektor, Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men are my Pandora stations of choice. I’ve been making a concentrated effort to eat less carbs and more vegetables the last couple weeks but then I make a batch of cookies ‘for the kids’ and eat the dough straight from the freezer when no one is looking. Ridiculous. In trying to fight the winter blues that chase me all through January and February, I cashed in a gift certificate a dear friend so generously gifted me for some hot yoga. The stretching and warm room are divine. I wish I could do it every day.

132

***

The holidays feel like months ago when in reality they were just a few weeks ago. I took down all our Christmas decorations including the tree the day after Christmas in anticipation of our trip to Hawaii. It was so NICE to come home to a clean fresh house, but all the hustle and bustle this year combined with our travel really changed the feeling of the season. Maybe I’ll get around to posting some pictures one of these days. My computer just told me I uploaded 227 pictures from my phone, so I’m sure there’s something worth posting eventually.

 

 


Top Posts & Pages

August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Categories

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 484 other followers