30 July 2008

Oatmeal Banana Coffee Cake (the cheater version)

This was the cake I mentioned in my previous post. It's pretty good. It's not a very sweet cake, in my opinion and may be good with a cream cheese frosting/ glaze on top instead of oatmeal streusel. Or in addition to it.

Honestly, it would be a lot better with a homemade mix (like this one or preferably one that had a little whole wheat, I think. This is a hearty cake.) I think the industrial taste of boxed cake mix detracts from the mostly-wholesome ingredients. But, in a pinch, it will do!

Oatmeal Banana Coffee Cake
3 ripe bananas
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup yogurt
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
1 T vanilla
1 T cinnamon
1 box yellow cake mix (thanks, Becky!)

Dump all in a bowl and mix approximately 2 minutes on medium speed, or until well-combined. Cake will be lumpy due to oatmeal and bananas.

Pour into greased 9x11 cake pan.

If desired, top with streusel topping -- oatmeal, whole wheat flour, sugar, and butter mixed together -- and sliced bananas (beware--they will turn brown as they sit -- they still taste good, but look a little peaked).

Bake at 325 for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool a little, slice, eat.

29 July 2008

Learnings and reaffirmations of the past 24 hours

  1. That old adage "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" is an an old adage for a reason.
  2. Spending 15 minutes straightening up the house at night pays big dividends the next day.
  3. Forgetting to spend time straightening up the house before Daddy leaves at the end of the weekend requires major deposits in time and energy.
  4. Washable crayons and twistable colored pencils are absolutely, positively worth the extra money.
  5. The only way to get through the wardrobe into Narnia is to take an afternoon nap.
  6. A sewing machine is really only useable when it has been removed from its case.
  7. A banana oatmeal coffee cake made with a yellow cake mix will feed hungry kids in the morning almost as well as the uber-nutritious variety one probably should have made.
  8. "Shoulds" should be given-up in the first trimester.

27 July 2008

Narnia VBS, Aslan, and us

Tonight, Annalivia went to Narnia Vacation Bible School. The VBS is co-hosted by our fellow Disciples congregation, but the VBS is located in the Presbyterian church.
The church has done an amazing job setting the stage. They have big pavilions set up and covered to look like the pavilions in the movie. To enter the sanctuary, they have a large wardrobe created and fur coats hanging on hangers. Once inside the sanctuary, there are Christmas trees with snow on them everywhere and a HUGE set with mountains, the beavers and Aslan. It was just very, very cool.
Daniel and I stayed with Annalivia from dinner through the opening, then I asked her if she wanted me to stay or go and she said, "GO!" so we left. Daniel and I went to Wal-Mart and walked around and looked at bikes, trucks, tractors and trains until he got tired. Then we bought some diapers and headed back to get Annalivia. When we got back to the church, she was crying because she had tripped/ been pushed. But apparently, for the most part, Annalivia had a good time.
Now we are home and it is 9:30 and though she's had no nap today, she is WIRED and wanting to watch Narnia for the gazillionth time. Dennis is gone back to central Illinois which means this will be a long night before the kiddos decide to give it up and give in to sleep. So Narnia in pj's it is. Sometimes being a slacker mom is entertaining.

24 July 2008

Point of clarification

A friend from college called me the other day. We had not talked for almost two years and he had tracked me down. He had also found my blog and had caught up with my life via my postings. When he mentioned Daniel he said, "Sounds like he's a little monster, eh?" "No, no!" I said, hastily, "He's a very sweet little guy!".

I thought briefly about how he was portrayed on this blog, but then didn't think about it until a few days later when a friend and I were chatting and she mentioned something about Daniel being difficult somehow. I realized that I need to put a point of clarification in print, lest y'all get the wrong idea about my little guy.

Daniel is a very sweet little boy. Yes, he's clingy, and yes, he can be fussy, especially if he's not getting held when he wants to be held. He's not easy-going, nor is he particularly adaptable.

All of that being said, though, he is a very, very sweet boy and I enjoy 98% of my time with him. He is incredibly affectionate -- he gives hugs and sweet, sloppy kisses with his mouth all puckered up. He loves to make us laugh and is a little joker. He is a master of pratfalls and among his favorite things is finding something that will make his sister laugh. He loves music and singing and dancing. He's a big fan of tractors and trucks right now and he also is fond of trains. He likes to color and draw and write. He loves books, especially his tractor and truck and construction vehicle books. He's very helpful -- he loves to pick things up and put them away and loves to bring shoes to whatever member of the family has left them around.

Best of all, he loves his mommy and likes to be with me almost all of the time! That can be an inconvenience and sometimes a rather large inconvenience, but for the most part, it's just a really good thing. He loves to sit on me and have me read to him. And he loves for me to carry him around and show him things, dance with him, tickle him and work him over, and pay him attention of any kind.

Every single day, I am absolutely delighted to be Daniel's mommy and every day I thank God several times that I get to have this little one in my life. I am very in love with this little boy and I think he's just a marvelous little creature. No one should think for a minute that the trying times overshadow the miraculously enchanting times with my little Daniel. And if I have communicated that, I have done him and myself a disservice. He's my very sweet big boy and I love him very, very much.

22 July 2008

"We treat our Interims better than our permanent pastors!"

That quote came from my beloved board chair tonight as we discussed what we should do to celebrate my 7 years of ministry here before I leave. I asked what they've done for other pastors. Turns out... nothing. They've had parties for the interims. But no pastor has ever left this congregation well, so... no precedence.
When I was first started researching the history of this congregation, I realized that one of the most important moments of my ministry would be in my leaving. Maybe that's the way it's just supposed to be for ministers, but especially in this congregation, I have a chance to break a devastating pattern.
The only thing is, a significant part of me doesn't want to have to plan my going-away-activities myself. It seems presumptuous and self-centered until I remember that this really IS incredibly important. This congregation needs to bring something to a healthy close sometime in its history. The time is now and the thing is my ministry, so I guess I'll start planning.
But I think I'll be sneaky. That'll at least be more fun... :)

20 July 2008

Awww, shucks...

Thanks, all! I appreciate you sharing the joy with us.

We told the church today. Annalivia is convinced that this is a little girl. She keeps talking about her sister. And does not believe me when I tell her it could be a boy. She was beginning to tell people that we are buying a baby girl after Christmas, so we thought it would be good for them to hear from us. They were all excited and probably doubly thrilled to not have to deal with negotiating maternity leave again! On the way out, one lady hugged me and told me that she hopes it is twins. Another said that since she had three children, I could have three. Another asked how many we are going to have to which another said, "Five" very matter-of-factly...

People are weird.

Whether it wears blue or pink or one of each, we're feeling very blessed right now. If there's one thing the complications of my previous pregnancies have taught us, it's to be grateful for the gift and celebrate from the moment it has been given. So we are.

Thanks for celebrating with us.

18 July 2008

Growing things

Our new little garden is growing like mad! I don't know if it is because the soil was very acidic, or because Dennis added a scoop of MiracleGro to each hole, or whether it's just because it has been so humid and rainy this summer, but we have frutifulness here!

We've got some Hungarian Peppers that are ready to be harvested NOW.

And bell peppers that could use a little while longer.

A plethora of cherry tomatoes.
Some Roma, Beefsteak and Early Girl varieties that are growing quite well.

Cilantro that promptly turned into Coriander.

Mint for tea. Someday.
Some spicy globe basil, some purple basil, oregano, rosemary and...

...some other miscellaneous basil...

And something extra special to be enjoyed late winter...


17 July 2008

Broken thumb, mending spirit

Annalivia broke her thumb today. She was kicking a ball around the living room and somehow slipped and landed on her thumb. She screamed and cried and fussed for a long time. I noticed it was getting black and blue and so called the doctor. And after x-rays were taken, little Annalivia ended up with a splint on her thumb.
She is doing pretty well now, but in the midst of the trauma, she was doing very poorly. In fact, at some point, she looked up from her macaroni and cheese and dramatically told me through tears, "I don't think I'm going to make it, Mommy."
Luckily she has indeed made it. So far. An ice cream cone after the x-rays may have helped a bit. We'll see how she feels when she finds out that splint has to go back on after her bath.

16 July 2008

Jingle a la Annalivia

Heard from the backseat tonight, "Save 5 dollars, save 5 dollars, when you shop Menards..."

15 July 2008

Tired babbling

Tonight I am tired. Dano was up last night until 1:30 a.m. flopping around and kicking me. He finally fell asleep and then Annalivia got up early. Ick.

I'm working on a graveside service for tomorrow. The family wanted a graveside service because they thought a funeral service would be too hard for them. They said they didn't want personal stories, but tonight before the visitation they spent an hour telling me things that they wanted mentioned when I didn't have anything to write with! I'm hoping I remember enough of them to make a mini-meditation meaningful. I'm also supposed to sing at the service and my voice is slowly creeping back after last week's sickness. It is not sounding very pretty, in my mind, but I am praying the Spirit will use raspy vocal chords regardless.

After the funeral, we are headed over to hang out with Sublime Aunt and her family. I'm looking forward to letting someone else chase the kiddos around. Then Thursday is my niece's 5th birthday party and Annalivia is going to stay overnight with her daddy at Grandma's house while Daniel and I head home. Dennis will bring her home after work on Friday. This will be her first overnight away from home! (Though Daddy will be there so I'm not sure it counts...) I hope it all goes well.

It is nice to have a busy week, but time seems to be flying by! Dennis and I decided yesterday that we are definitely having movers pack us up as well as move us, so that's kind of a relief to not have to worry about that. We're getting estimates at the beginning of August from a couple of different companies. I'm looking forward to finding out how it all works and figuring out exactly what we need to do in the interim.

At church, the regional minister who will work with the congregation through the transition of me leaving and beyond is going to be visiting the congregation on Sunday. I think my people are highly anxious about what comes next and are not sure about what to do next. I am assuming that she will answer all of their questions, but in the meantime, I'm trying to convince people that panic is not warranted. We've been receiving resumes at church from itinerant interim ministers who are grossly underqualified, in my mind. (Aside -- how do these people find out that I'm leaving?) I have cautioned my people to not give in to desperate-seeking-of-a-warm-body to fill the pulpit. This group needs to get LOTS of work done in the interim if they want to have even a small chance of survival in the future. But it's difficult for them to hear that from me and it is hard to know what ethical lines I'm crossing by trying to influence this process. So my mouth is mostly shut. Mostly.

But on the other side of leaving, I've had some great conversations lately with friends from home. Today I spent an hour or so on the phone with a friend from college. She was the ministerial intern when I was a senior in high school and had a huge influence on me. Now she is back in Eureka, our college town and my hometown, doing ministry part-time and raising kids full-time. It was great to talk to her. I'm so looking forward to renewing old friendships, though as I shared with her, I am feeling rather terrified about renewing the relationship with my home church. It is hard to go home again, church-wise, and what has really convinced me that my home church is where I need to be is that my sister's family and my parents and grandparents worship there. And I have longed for that sort of interaction since I left it. I'm praying that God helps me be a gracious and non-anxiety-inducing presence there. And that I can have some time off. Which means I'll have to let my Messiah-complex take a sabbatical. And those of you who know me, know that this could be one of the more significant spiritual exercises of my life! :)

Anyway -- all of these things -- rumbling around in this head and I should be asleep by now. Perhaps I'll post more cohesive thoughts some day soon! Good night!


Our appointment with our lawyer went well. Incredibly well. Miraculously, amazingly, astonishingly well. We are kind of on a high here from which we may not come down anytime soon. Almost two years after the accident, this thing is almost over. Wow.

13 July 2008

An extra day of Daddy

Tomorrow, Dennis and I have an appointment with our big-shot lawyer in the early afternoon, so he is going to be working four 10-hour days this week. I'm excited to have him here for an extra day. It is a gorgeous, temperate day here in northern Illinois today and so far, we've been in church, at a board meeting, and in the house and basement. It's time to head outside. The garden needs to be weeded and I think we all need to have a little fresh air. After all, we can put off laundry until tomorrow. We've got an extra day of Daddy!

12 July 2008

Not pictured here...

My beloved Nikon D40x is BROKEN! :( :( :(
It was working great and then yesterday -- nuthin'! It won't turn on, won't even slightly light up, won't focus or click or anything!
I was reading online that apparently this is a problem that some Nikons have. The customer service guy was nice and I guess I just have to send it off and have it fixed. I'll get it back in about 3 weeks. Three weeks! Do you know how many photo ops will have passed by then?

11 July 2008

Hurrah for husbands and the Hippocratic Oath

Dennis got home this evening. Oh, thank you, Lord!!! I am at VBS with Annalivia, and, thanks to some antibiotics and eyedrops, I am feeling much better. And any physical improvement made is magnified by the spiritual and psychological improvement of having my husband home and a second parent in the house.
Though it may be a single-parent household again tonight if I get the chance to flee for a few hours... :)

10 July 2008


I am feeling terrible right now. I have a horrible sore throat and almost no voice. It hurts to swallow and my ear is aching and ringing and full of fluid. My eyes are itchy and my nose is stuffed up and my wrist hurts and on and on and on...

This is VBS week -- not the time to be sick. And tomorrow night, we are supposed to have our community prayer vigil for the recent murders in our community. I am supposed to open the service, but I'm going to pass it off to someone else tomorrow morning. And then I'm going to pass off my VBS responsibilities to someone else. And then I'm going to curl up on the couch and pray my children are entertained by Kipper videos while I moan and try to feel a little better.

That's the state of things 'round here.

08 July 2008

The Fourth (as per Kali)

Kali has some great pics and commentary of our Fourth of July breakfast on her post, Da Fo'th. Go see the revelry!

07 July 2008

Busy stuff

It's VBS week at our church. Last year was our first year of VBS after a 10-year hiatus, and it went really well, in our minds. We ended up with 20 kids, which is a lot more than the 2.7 who usually attend, 2 of whom are related to the pastor.
Tonight was our kick-off and it went really well. We had 19 kids the first night! That's a big deal for us. It was fun -- exhausting, but fun. Part of the tiring part is that Daniel is about fried by that time of night. Add 20 kids and 10 adults and that is one clingy, grumpy, fragile child. I basically carried him everywhere. If Dennis still lived with us during the week, he'd have Daniel at night. But Daddy is in central Illinois at his new job. So, mommy is doing the leading-of-VBS with Daniel in arms and counting down the days till my only real duty is to hold him in my arms. (66, fyi).
Annalivia, on the other hand, had a great time. She just shines when she's around other kids. Social, social, social. She was worn out, too, though. She almost fell asleep in the 10 blocks between church and home. And both she and Daniel were fast asleep moments after going to bed. I guess the tiring part of VBS is good in that regard!
I am also busy with the Community Clergy Association right now. Last year I was president and for some reason, we didn't elect a new pres in May like we usually do, so I'm still president. We had some murders in our towns this last week and it has shaken everyone up. So we're having a candlelight vigil on Thursday. There are a number of clergy who are irritated because we originally had planned to have a prayer service at noon. But the vigil was planned by some conservative clergy and it seemed ridiculous to me that we should have separate prayer services (like we can't pray together in at least this circumstance?), so we are joining their service. I am hoping people will just deal with it and show up anyway. If not, they can not elect me again in the fall. Oh, wait...
In other news, we had a great little vacation in Eureka on July 3, 4, and 5. We had a nice anniversary and saw a wonderful parade, celebrated Mom's birthday, got to watch fireworks, went on lots of big walks around the college and town and just revelled in the knowledge that we are going to be moving soon. And actually, we'll get to move a whole month sooner, if we wish because my sis and bro-in-law are moving into their house on Aug. 1. So we can move whenever after that, which is great. It won't change my end date, but it sure would be nice to get stuff moved around and in place before we have to live there permanently.
Of course, we're not packing yet...

06 July 2008

Five years later...

I'm just so glad he continues to put up with me! Happy anniversary, sweetheart.

01 July 2008

In the absence of Daddy

It is 12:15 and I have two children who are crying. Neither of them want to go to bed. Daniel is in his crib and Annalivia is in her room. Both distressed.
Dennis started his job today. We actually did really well all day until late this evening. The kids both took naps at 5 p.m. and they DID NOT want to go to sleep tonight.
I have learned that when Daddy is not here, the sleep schedule will be off for a bit. Dennis is central to the nighttime routine and I think when he's not here, they both sort of wait to see if he is going to show up before resigning themselves to falling asleep.
Update -- 1:39 a.m. -- They finally fell asleep about 12:30. And I find myself unable to let myself go to sleep also. I guess they're not the only ones not quite resigned to going to bed without Daddy.