30 November 2009

Mac and Cheese and grandmas

This weekend, I overheard my daughter telling my mother that she is "not a fan" of my macaroni and cheese. My macaroni and cheese usually comes from a box. So does my mom's, but she has a complicated method of slightly overcooking it and adding extra cheese that results in macaroni and cheese the grandkids love.

I was thinking about this because my husband's favorite macaroni and cheese was his grandmother's recipe. She made it every year for Thanksgiving. Her recipe died with her because it didn't occur to anyone that Grandma Lyda's mac and cheese was going to be conspicuously absent at every Thanksgiving thereafter.

When we were first married, I, having heard of Dennis' "love" for macaroni and cheese got my grandmother's recipe. I remember cooking it for him and being very excited. He liked it, but did not love it. It wasn't his grandma's, after all.

For several years of our marriage, I tried to replicate his grandmother's mac and cheese. I had a lead when he discovered that the mac and cheese made by one of our church ladies was similar to his grandmother's recipe. But the recipe was in approximates and it did not involve a white sauce and I just could never get it to work.

I no longer try to make Lyda's macaroni and cheese and I've stopped making it for my daughter's lunch, too. I've realized that it is a special purveyance of grandmothers to create macaroni and cheese beloved by their grandchildren. This mother is not going to tread on that territory.

But I'm going to keep Grammy's recipe on hand. Someday I'll make it for my grandchildren. I'll tell them about how my grandmother made the best macaroni and cheese in the world.

28 November 2009

At the close of Ordinary Time...

In these last few minutes of Ordinary Time, a few things to remember about this November...

:: Little Emmeliese learned how to crawl and Mama finally let her eat her first real food. She's also doing some dancing (shaking her head, moving her body up and down, waving arms and legs) whenever she hears any music. The other day, I walked in the dining room and my baby girl was standing by her highchair which she had used to pull herself up. And she's sleeping better -- usually waking up only once a night since we moved her into her own room (thank the Lord!) She's growing up so fast!

:: Daniel has started drawing faces and the other day he colored orange in the middle of the flame of a candle picture. I thought that was cool. He and Annalivia are sharing a room right now and he likes that. He was glad to give his room to Emmeliese. He always takes such good care of her. And he and Annalivia have been playing really well together.

:: Annalivia has been very good about sharing her room, though she'd prefer that she and Daniel have the bunk beds we'll eventually borrow from my aunt instead of beds on the floor. We took her out of preschool at the beginning of the month and she has adjusted well to being home. I like it. She's an incredible big sister most of the time to both Daniel and Emmeliese. I'm trying to be more intentional about having special time alone with her. One day this month, we got home from our church's Kids Club and decided to have an adventure. We went and got ice cream and then I showed her the Big Dipper and the Milky Way. It was really neat.

:: Dennis has been making some progress on the house and we've experienced a renewed enthusiasm for it since we became members of the Old House Society in Bloomington. They operate an architectural salvage warehouse that made both of our hearts beat faster.

:: I've been working on some Christmas presents and looking forward to another handmade Christmas with our families. I am very thankful for my family's approach to Christmas -- handmade, edible or inexpensive presents are not only appreciated but encouraged. I love that.
:: We rearranged furniture and stuff in our rental house to allow for room for Emmeliese to move about unhindered. It was getting inconvenient to drag her out from radiators and corners with outlets and from under furniture and such several times an hour. In doing our rearranging, I realized that, though it doesn't look magazine-worthy at all, I really like openness in a room. Furniture anchored to or near walls is ok with me. I know that makes me uncool.

:: We had a great Thanksgiving with the family. We did a progressive dinner throughout the day with pate at my sisters, dinner at my mom's and pie at my grandfather's. It was lovely. The food was wonderful. I keenly missed, missed, missed my Grammy. But, in a way, those emotions made the day much more poignant and meaningful.

:: We are still loving our experiences at our new church and are so thankful that God led us there. Annalivia is having an incredible mid-week experience, the kids are both loving Sunday school and getting ready for a Christmas program this coming month, Dennis has had some really neat experiences with an active, viable, focused men's ministry, and I got to meet some neat people at the Beth Moore event and am looking forward to some women's ministry events this coming month, too. And Dennis and I love, love, LOVE our Sunday School class and the challenging, invigorating discussions we experience there.
:: Phil, our pastor, had a great sermon last week on giving and in it, he said something about giving from our abundance that caught me. He said rather than thinking about what we no longer use or need, we could think about what others could use or need. The latter removes the "I-problem" from the equation. The distinction has stuck with me this week and I'm ready to do some fresh examination of our abundance and see what others could use or need.

:: I'm going to try to post more often during December. I'm ready for Advent and already anticipating Incarnation. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Happy scrappy quilt giveaway

Marie-Madeleine has a great giveaway for a gorgeous quilt. More info here.

09 November 2009

Parenting book realization

I read a lot of parenting books. A LOT. I think I have a tendency towards obsession with self-help type stuff, anyway, and reading parenting books fulfills that in (what I can generally pretend is) a healthy way.

I realized something the other day and that is this... parenting books written by people who have two children three or four or more years apart are a lot different than parenting books written by people who have four or more children two years or less apart. Seriously -- big difference. Furthermore, I realized that the more kids an author has, the less he or she has to say about what a parent can do and more she or he has something to say about what God can do. There's just so much resignation (in a good way) from those people. It's inspiring.

And even farther-furthermore, I realized that the two-kids people often share wisdom that is really inspired and some great insights, techniques, etc, BUT the people I'm going to be referencing are the people with the zillions of kids. Even though I only have three children, there's something about reading the thoughts of people who have been-there-done-that (...and more!) that is so very helpful. It's one of the many reasons I love Holly's blog, and Tonya's blog, and Ann's blog, and Amy's blog, and Molly's blog...among many others. There's a wide range of theology and practices out there, but when graciousness is present, it is inspirational...and motivational...to this mom of three. Thanks to those of you who share.

08 November 2009

What a weekend!

This has been such a good weekend, that I feel like I should hit on a few highlights to remember.

-- I went to a Beth Moore Living Proof event this week, fully embracing the evangelical side of myself. Dang, was it good! She is such an energetic speaker and draws very cool connections. The subject of her talk was John the Baptist and it was fascinating. And it was illuminative when applied to my own life. I had heard her on the radio before, but had not seen her. She reminded me of several southern-woman friends. It was lovely. I had such an incredible experience, that I'm going to try to go back next year.

-- At the Beth Moore thing, I sat next to a woman from Chicago. She ended up being a homeschooling mother of 4 whose children have the same exact age range of mine. It was SO cool! She was my partner for a final commissioning thing that was very moving. We exchanged email address and facebook info and I think we will be spiritual friends.

-- I also got to hang out with some women from our new church and had a good time getting to know them better. It was just a lot of fun, though they were very worried about me driving down to the conference by myself, sitting by myself and rooming by myself. I explained that this sort of solitude really WAS a gift. Really. No, REALLY, chicas. Although it was just wonderful to get to know these very cool women, time alone was G-O-O-D!!

-- The weather was incredible this week. We've had so much rain this fall -- flooding and crops waterlogged in the field. This week has been so amazing -- sunny and in the high 50's, low 60's. Then this weekend it was in the mid-70's. This coming week is supposed to be beautiful, too.

-- We had a great church morning. We've been getting up early and going out to breakfast before going to church. I don't know if it's a wise thing to do that long-term, but it sure is a nice treat and a really special way to begin the morning. Lots of people were gone from church this morning, but we had a great conversation in Sunday School and the sermon was really, really good.

-- Today our yard was blitz-raked by a church youth group. We had 15 kids out there with rakes going crazy. They raked the yards of both elderly neighbors, too, and then moved on down the block, accepting no money -- just serving.

-- Since the youth group was such a help at this house, we went to our new house and raked. I tried tossing the kids into a leaf pile, but they did not appreciate the joy of such. Dennis thought my tenacity was rather remarkable since I refused to believe they were not having fun until they were both sobbing. Sometimes, I'm not the greatest mother ever. ;)

-- Tonight after dinner, we watched the end of a football game and Annalivia and Daniel did some swordfighting a la Narnia. Daniel, as King Peter, was hilariously relentless while Annalivia, as the White Witch or as Queen Susan, tried to pose her swords artistically. Emmeliese sat on the floor and bobbed up and down and watched and laughed at them encouragingly.

-- And now we're all going to bed VERY early! The house is messy, but sleep is a more important priority at this point. Hope your weekend was grand!

05 November 2009

The morning report

It is 8 in the morning on this Thursday of the first week of Annalivia being out of Preschool. Mom has also been sick all week, so we've all been together all day, everyday. I realized this week how spoiled I've been; the older two kids have been at my mom's house basically four hours of four days of a week since Emmeliese was born. It's been a real gift. Since we decided to take Annalivia out of preschool, the plan is to have the kids go to my mom's one night a week (to play with cousins) and on Friday morning (to give me a break).
I wish I could say that everything just clicked right into place this week with all of us home, but...it hasn't. However, the difficulties strengthen my conviction even more that this all-four-of-us-together-all-the-time should be the default in our home. Now that we are in day 4, it feels better. We are kind of relaxing into the routine of being together, working around and with each other, playing together and by oneself and referee-ing a different energy level than usual. I had thought we'd just jump right in to preschool-at-home this week. Now I realize that we need a bit of time to adjust to each other and the new routine. But I like how being home feels today.
So, right now, Emmeliese is sitting in the middle of the floor, lunging forward to get things in the middle of the floor. Daniel has been running around in a helmet and shield with sword in hand fighting dragons. Annalivia cranked up the cd player so we're listening to English church music while she alternately draws pictures of princesses and tries to get "The Prince" to dance with her. He's not been very cooperative, so she's mainly drawing.
I'm drinking coffee -- a habit I reintroduced with the time change. I found a pound of whole bean coffee a friend had given me over two years ago. It's ... not terrible, surprisingly. Not the best ever, but free. And hot. We have yet to turn on our furnace and the space heaters are nearing the end of the effectiveness, I think.
We have lots on the docket to do today. Daddy took the van to get a bit of a tune-up, so we're forced to be either home or walking to a destination, both of which are good for us. The house is a complete mess and I'm going to a conference with new-church ladies tomorrow so Grandma is coming to visit. She is terribly disturbed by blankets being the wrong direction on a bed so to say, "There's a little work to do" would be vastly understating things.
I best get at it.