31 December 2012

in which I am not Fate.

I would like everything to be perfect for my daughter. More than that, I want to make everything perfect for my daughter.

Sometimes it seems to me that the course of her entire life rests on my decisions, and that if I mess something up when she's 6 months old she'll still be dealing with the scars at 46. After all, I'm going to be the most important person in her tiny existence . .  so it follows that I bear the responsibility for who she is, what she believes, and how she lives until the end of time. Right?!!

Freakout material right there.

My dad is really good at counteracting this type of thinking. He has often reminded me that God reigns, regardless of the unwise choices we may make or the foolish things we may say. Of course those things matter. But they shouldn't cause us to despair. The fear of mistakes shouldn't deter us from living freely.

(Besides, though parents do indeed shape their children in infinite ways, it's not as if I'm spinning the thread of my daughter's life like all three Fates wrapped up in one. Perhaps overestimating influence is just as dangerous as overestimating it?)

All right. So I'm going to live life. I'm going to love our baby and do what I think is best for her. I'm also going to keep learning, keep thinking, and keep believing that God will be faithful to reveal the truth to me-- and to this child.

Freakout over.

29 December 2012

sugar and spice and everything nice.

This picture courtesy of my dad.
"Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year."
-from A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

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A post dedicated to our edible treats this Christmas. Mind you, these are only the things for which I've got a linkable recipe. We also reveled in mashed potatoes with gravy, steamed green beans, buttery sauteed mushrooms, an array of meats and cheeses, dried fruit, spinach artichoke dip, mixed nuts, fresh pineapple, wine and beer . . . but you can just imagine those for yourself.

Roast Leg of Lamb: not exactly the recipe we used but this one has very similar flavors.
Brussels Sprout Gratin: this, by far, gets my vote for Best Item on the Dinner Table.
Tangy Cranberry Sauce: I didn't have enough orange juice so I put in 1/4 cup lemon juice as well.
Alfajores: again, not quite the recipe we used but it gives you the idea; ours includes lemon zest and calls for rolling the edges in coconut.
Cranberry Bars: I used King Arthur's gluten-free flour and a combination of cranberries and cherries, which was most excellent. These are quickly becoming my favorite cookie.
Sugared Plum Pudding with vanilla whipped cream: plums being entirely out of season, I substituted some roasted peaches that I'd frozen this past summer.
Cinnamon Vanilla Pecans: addictive.
Peppermint Fudge: seriously the easiest imaginable!
Bourbon Fudge: this was thanks to Luke, whose culinary endeavors often involve gratuitous alcohol, not that anyone's complaining . . . essentially the same fudge recipe, with less chocolate and 1/4 cup whiskey stirred in.


This picture has nothing to do with anything, except now you can see how my ultra-dignified siblings "dress up" for holiday dinners: in a mishmash of their actual wardrobes and things pulled out of the costume closet. Sometimes it even involves suits and monocles. Hey, when we celebrate, we celebrate.

28 December 2012

Weekend linkage

Helping (?) with Christmas dinner at my parents' house
"Hold on a minute. I'm trying to figure out how to turn that into a compliment."
-Jared

"You're very convenient to have around."
-Jared

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Pregnancy happenings: I have begun to feel quite . . . unwieldy. Last night we were at an event with lots of people packed into a room, and I discovered that it's difficult to maneuver myself and Tadpole through a crowd! The kicking has also become much stronger. Though not at all uncomfortable, it certainly gets my attention. :)

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Get your cruciferous veggies: roasted brussels sprouts are tremendously good. (Add a smidge of sriracha to the leftovers.)

The reviews on this banana slicer are awesome.

#britishpeopleproblems

Joey Newton, a pastor in Newtown, CT, writes about evil and the purposes of God. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us.”

26 December 2012

God rest us merry

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds by Thomas Cole
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" is one of my family's favorite Christmas carols. It is great for harmonization and has a rollicking chorus that comes around frequently. (This is helpful when you can't remember the lyrics to each individual verse . . . you can always chime in with tidings of comfort and joy every four lines!)

This year, however, a particular verse jumped out at us as we sang it during Christmas devotions.

In Bethlehem, in Israel, this blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger upon this blessed morn;
The which His mother Mary did nothing take in scorn,

Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

Everyone's immediate comment: "Wait a minute. The witch, his mother Mary?!!"


Between that and reading Luke 2:16 as "Joseph and Mary and the baby lying in a manger" (how did they all fit?) we had some good laughs on Christmas morning.

And good food. I'll post about that later. :)

25 December 2012

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

"But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

Lantern in the Dark (Can u see Danbo?)
{image credit: Lel4nd}
"The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."

-Isaiah 9

Merry Christmas, everyone.

21 December 2012

Weekend linkage

Merry Christmas from our little trio!
"Chicken comes from cows!"
-my four-year-old niece

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Pregnancy happenings: I don't bend past 45 degrees anymore, and I finally put away all of my pre-pregnancy clothing (not so much because it doesn't fit, but because I don't want to stretch it past the point of no return!). Also, this is the first week that Tadpole actually felt heavy. Not by much, but I can tell that I am carrying something in front of me . . . fifteen weeks to go, and she sure won't get any lighter. :)

Ways in which I am being a model pregnant lady: eating gobs of protein, sleeping a lot, taking my folate and cod liver oil, not gaining too much weight (knock on wood).

Ways in which I am going rogue: putting raw eggs in my smoothies, ordering sushi, sleeping on my back, declining the flu shot, declining the glucose test. I'm so glad that I have a midwifery practice that lets me use my brain instead of demanding that I stick to a particular protocol.

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A delightful Slate article on marriage: "I look particularly at the women in those couples. They are not glamorous. There are no Marlene Dietrichs, Marilyn Monroes, or Vivien Leighs among them . . . one must assume that they are, like most people, average. But to the man whose hand or arm she is holding, she is not average. She is the whole world to him. They may argue occasionally, or even frequently. He may have an eye for the cute intern in his office. But that is superficial. Fundamentally, she is the most valuable thing in his life."

Kate Beaton of Hark, A Vagrant writes some history quizzes. The Norman Invasion!

"The atheists are right—dump the myth and keep the merry." But, asks Phillip Jensen, who is the actual Christmas myth: Jesus or Santa?

What happens when you give third-world children tablet computers . . . without any instructions? Super interesting.

"It is the Lord’s love that has sustained, held, and kept me over the last three years through this trial. It has not been on my own doing or strength to hold onto to him. It is his love that gives hope that there will be a day when there are no more tears. It is his love that reminds me that my joy is not in a fulfilled dream or desire . . . It is his love that protects and guides me. It is his love that gives peace in uncertainty. And ultimately it is his love that sent Jesus into this world as a baby." A beautiful blog post from a friend.

20 December 2012

ahoy, discoveries! vol. 9 [beautification edition]

As a facial moisturizer, argan oil makes a lovely addition to my old standby almond oil. I love the tidy pump on the Aura Cacia brand and wish I could get one for the almond oil as well.

I ran across this coconut oil scalp treatment on Pinterest and decided to give the tea tree/rosemary version a try. It was great; I had plenty of oil to massage into my scalp and hair, so everything up there got thoroughly conditioned. However, it's a pain to wash out of your hair, so choose a day when you'll have time for a nice long shower. :)

Speaking of Pinterest, I would like to do this once my hair grows a few more inches.

Redmond bentonite clay can be used in myriad ways-- internal detox, mosquito bite relief, acne treatment-- and so it's just a good thing to have in your stash, period. Right now I am enjoying it as a simple face mask. I mix a little clay powder with water, spread it all over my face, and leave it on for 2 or 3 minutes; it would probably be still more beneficial if I waited longer, but my skin tends to dry out easily and after a few minutes I'm ready to wash it off. Yet even that brief time has a noticeable soothing and smoothing effect. (And if it does that for me, imagine what it could do for people without ridiculous eczema patches all over their faces!)

19 December 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: a staff of ten could not have kept pace with her

There are many reasons I have fallen in love with the writing of Mark Helprin. One is simply the knowledge that, indeed, someone is still writing beautiful literature. A more specific reason is his marvelous characterization. To wit:
[Virginia] looked at her mother and was pleased and amazed by the sly, robust intelligence in the old woman's face, by her massive form which was neither fat nor tall nor thick, by the large strong hands, the shapeless velvet and muslin dress with a green yoke, the two sweet little eyes set close together in a glowing cheeky face topped with a haystack of soft white hair, and the purring white rooster (his comb was mandarin red) that she held in her arms and occasionally stroked . . .
Mrs. Gamely had never learned to read or write, and used her daughter as a scribe, and as a researcher among encyclopedias, questioning her at length about everything she found. The old woman's sense of organization was a miracle of randomness as illogical and rich as the branches of a blossoming fruit tree. She could easily discuss 150 subjects in an hour and a half, and Virginia would still finish awed and enlightened by what seemed to be a relentless and perfect plan.
Though Mrs. Gamely was by all measures prescientific and illiterate, she did know words. Where she got them was anyone's guess, but she certainly had them. Virginia speculated that the people on the north side of the lake, steeped in variations of English both tender and precise, had made with their language a tool with which to garden a perfect landscape. Those who are isolated in small settlements may not know of the complexities common to great cities, but their hearts are rich, and so words are generated and retained. Mrs. Gamely's vocabulary was enormous. She knew words no one had every heard of, and she used words every day that had been mainly dead or sleeping for hundreds of years. Virginia checked them in the Oxford dictionary, and found that (almost without exception) Mrs. Gamely's usage was flawlessly accurate. For instance, she spoke of certain kinds of dogs as Leviners. She called the areas near Quebec march-lands. She referred to diclesiums, liripoops, rapparees, dagswains, bronstrops, caroteels, opuntias, and soughs. She might describe something as patibulary, fremescent, pharasaic, Roxburghe, or glockamoid, and words like mormal, jeropigia, endosmic, mage, palmerin, thos, vituline, Turonian, galingale, comprodor, nox, gaskin, secotine, ogdoad, and pintulary fled from her lips in Pierian saltarellos. Their dictionary looked like a sow's ear, because Virginia spent inordinate proportions of her days racing through it, though when Mrs. Gamely was angry a staff of ten could not have kept pace with her, and half a dozen linguaphologists would have collapsed from hypercardia.

"Where did you learn all those words, Mother?" Virginia might ask.

Mrs. Gamely would shrug her shoulders. "We were raised with them, I suppose." She didn't always speak incomprehensibly. In fact, she sometimes went for months at a time strapped down firmly to a strong and worthy matrix of Anglo-Saxon derivatives. Then, Virginia breathed easy, and the rooster was so happy that had he been a chicken he would have laid three eggs a day. Or was he a chicken? Who knows? The point is, he thought he was a cat.

-from Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
 The only words I knew in Mrs. Gameley's list were "soughs" and "pharasaical."

17 December 2012

most highly favored lady

The Annunciation by J.W. Waterhouse
Christmas has a special poignancy for me this year, because it is the first year that I've truly been able to identify with Mary.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
Now, I'm quite enjoying my pregnancy, excepting the dozen weeks of nausea back in the fall (even then I could keep it at bay with grapes and Coca-Cola). It has been an emotionally positive experience. Everyone around me is rejoicing over this child. I've been congratulated and hugged; I do feel like a "favored one!" Yes, I have freaked out over childbirth, and yes, I have gotten teary for no reason at all, but so has every pregnant woman in the history of the world. I've endured no fears or trials besides those I already expected, and even in the ones that have come, have been blessed with tremendous support from the people I love.

As Advent marches on, I think often of Mary and how she may have felt at this point in her pregnancy. Did she pause in her work to put a hand on her belly and feel that little baby kick? Did she lie awake at night wondering what kind of mother she would be? Did she and Joseph ever laugh together--a little scared, but for all that, in deep awe-- at the strange miracle at work within her? I'm sure they did.

However, the joys that must have come with her pregnancy, Mary also faced trials unlike anything I will ever know.
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”
That all sounds great, Gabriel, but let's get down to brass tacks. Just think of the mental stress Mary bore as she carried Jesus in her womb. How did she explain her swelling stomach to her mother? Her friends? I wonder if her parents believed the fantastic tale of divine blessing, or if they turned away from her daughter in shame. Though I giggle and snap a picture whenever I notice my belly pushing out farther in front of me, Mary probably wished she could hide it away. Few, if any, of her neighbors would have rejoiced at this new life. Wouldn't it have been hard for her to hear the whispers in the marketplace, to see the knowing looks cast in her and Joseph's direction? Wouldn't she have wondered at times if that angelic vision was real, if she truly had found favor with God? I'm sure she did. There must have been days when she questioned His goodness and wished that He would take this burden away from her. (No wonder that before long, she "arose and went with haste into the hill country" in order to stay with her cousin Elizabeth.)
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
I think Mary foresaw all these things at the moment of the annunciation. And she still said yes.


(All Scripture taken from Luke 1:26-38)

15 December 2012

fudgalicious

This is not "real" fudge, but I don't care. It is luscious and chocolatey and hits the sweet-tooth spot. Furthermore, though I love cooking, I do not like tedious processes (peeling juicy peaches, for instance, or finagling potatoes into paper-thin slices). Happily, here you don't need a double boiler, a candy thermometer, or the know-how to distinguish between soft ball and hard ball; you don't need to caramelize anything, nor do you need to grease candy molds.

All you need is a nice heavy saucepan, a spoon, and a few very basic ingredients. Onward!

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Possibly the Easiest Fudge Ever
(from my college friend Courtney)

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt everything together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat (no flimsy pots allowed . . . they let things burn too easily). Stir constantly. Once smooth, scrape into a 9x9 square baking dish lined with parchment. Refrigerate for several hours, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

If you'd like to make a fun peppermint version, stir in 1 cup crushed candy cane pieces after removing the mixture from the heat. :)

14 December 2012

Weekend linkage

23 weeks!
Pregnancy happenings: At night I just lie in bed and stare at my stomach. It shifts as Tadpole flips over, suddenly bumps up as she kicks, and otherwise behaves in very strange ways. I find this unfailingly entertaining.

On Sunday, we went to visit Tadpole's brand new cousin Lucy-- she's so tiny and cute and squishable, I just wanted to put her in my purse and smuggle her out of the hospital. But instead we left her with her mommy and daddy and went home to happily muse over our own wee one, who is lucky enough to have lots of girl cousins close in age.

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Roger Cohen: Thanks for Not Sharing. "Now I was determined to get through 2012 without doing a peevish column, not wishing to appear cantankerous or curmudgeonly, determined to be sunny and youthful as the times demand, but everyone has a tipping point."

Interesting article on the rising age of parents worldwide. Some of the assumptions behind it are disturbing-- young motherhood is labeled "a lifetime of reduced opportunity," parents are evidently expected to fund their children's post-college years-- but I still learned a lot.

Well, someone is excited about The Hobbit.

I just love Simcha Fisher. "This Isn't Who I Really Am!" Or is it? Let's be honest.

So funny: famous photographs doctored to look like cell phone self-portraits. Churchill is my favorite.

Look, I try not to snark about other people's education choices. I really, really do. But the idea of nixing good literature for the sake of instruction manuals makes me seeth. (For this and for so many other reasons, you can bet your britches that our kids will not be getting an American public education . . . and if by some act of God they do end up at a public school, well, guess you'll need to find some new britches.)

A full scale model of Noah's Ark? I think it's time for a field trip to the Netherlands!

11 December 2012

gluten-free breakfast crumble

Peaches and Apples
{image credit: jglsongs}
Once I tried an intriguing new recipe for fruit cobbler, intended as dessert. It didn't seem dessert-y enough to me, but in the morning, with a big scoop of creamy Greek yogurt? Glorious.

And yes, I do recommend Greek yogurt. Not just because it's the cool thing these days, but because it's absolutely luscious and has way more protein than regular. I try to get at least 20 grams of protein in at breakfast and this is a great way to do it. Make sure you buy the genuine stuff, the kind that has been strained, not some fakey product stiffened up with additives. Fage is the best brand I have tried; even their 0% fat line is incredibly creamy and thick. Voskos and Chobani are also excellent.

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GF Breakfast Crumble
(inspired by Family Fresh Cooking)

1 large apple
2 large peaches*
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup almond meal**
1/4 cup sliced almonds (or chopped walnuts)
1/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

1) Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a glass pie plate.
2) Slice fruit thinly and toss with brown sugar. Place in prepared dish.
3) Stir together almond meal, sliced almonds, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in coconut oil and honey to form soft clumps; sprinkle evenly over fruit.
4) Bake crumble for 25 minutes, or until fruit is soft and topping cooked through. Cool for at least 10 minutes and serve with yogurt.***

*I used frozen peaches, so if you haven't any, you could substitute whatever firm fruit is in season: pears, plums, and the like. Blueberries would probably work well too. You just don't want something really soft and juicy, such as raspberries or oranges.
**I buy mine already ground, but you can just pop some almonds in your food processor.

10 December 2012

because she is a person

Webster is not particularly helpful in this matter.
This past summer I spent a lot of time mulling (stewing? simmering?) over the topic of manhood and womanhood. What God says about it, what that might look like for me, where the culture and church have gotten it right, where we've gotten it wrong.

I put the subject to bed for a while when the school year began, as I felt that I'd gained a much better understanding and was at a relatively peaceful point in my reflections. Plus I was too sick to do much thinking anyway. :) Since the discovery that we are having a little girl, however, the topic has resurrected itself.

Mainly, I'm struck by all the terrible images of womanhood floating about. It seems like every slice of society has a different, bad idea. There's the misguided push to be "just as good as a boy."* There's the flaunting of female sexuality to manipulate men.  There's the ongoing oppression of women (whether in American pornography or in African sex tourism). Underlying them all is the assumption that the two genders must always be at war-- an assumption that generates a dizzying spectrum of nonsense, bitterness, and utter rot.

Well. Part of my job to help my daughter to sort through this junk and understand the truth about who she is.

For example, I want her to grow up knowing that she is valuable. But not because she's just as good as a boy, nor because girls rule and boys drool, nor for any other reason than because she is a person. She is a female person, which is delightful for many reasons. However, that does not affect her essential value, which rests on the fact that she is the image-bearer of God. It does not change her essential purpose: to know and love and exalt the Creator. Our daughter is neither more nor less important because she is a girl.

oh good, I was wondering.
Does this mean that we'll be downplaying her femininity? Ha, no. We're certainly going to teach the Tadpole that God made her to be a woman, and furthermore, that womanhood is a wonderful thing. We won't be parenting a genderless child, believe you me.

Yet I don't want our daughter's primary identity to be "girl." I don't want her to go through life obsessively filtering everything through her femaleness, believing that she must be distinctive in every way from the males around her, and that if she isn't, she is somehow failing as a woman. This is a suffocating and ultimately self-centered mindset, a trap into which both secular feminists and orthodox Christians often tumble-- they just get there by different roads. (Jared remarked the other day that no matter who we are, we just love to take God's good commands and run over the cliff with them. Our exaggerations get us into worlds of trouble. While we may think we are honoring our femininity or masculinity by making them into the most important thing about us, we are actually abusing them, because we end up focusing on ourselves and forgetting Who assigned us those roles in the first place.)

So I don't want that to happen to our daughter. Instead, I want her primary identity to be "human being who belongs to God," so that she walks through life with eyes fixed on Him. Her femininity is secondary. A remarkably crucial second, and one whose neglect causes disaster, but still . . . secondary.

After all, when we first realized that this baby existed, we had no idea what its gender was. Why did we rejoice, then? Simply because a soul had been created. When I felt our baby's first movements, I praised God for giving us a child. No matter which way things developed, our joy would have been the same.

This, perhaps, is what Paul means in Galatians 3 when he says:
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
The Creation of Eve by Michelangelo
Taken in context, it's clear that Paul is not suggesting that gender has been erased or that it does not matter. (Just think about the rest of his writings, where he spends whole chapters upon the proper conduct of men and woman within the family and church!) Rather, I think he is reminding us that we have all put on Christ, all become heirs of His promise, so our first identity is now in Him rather than in our chromosomes.

In the end, of course, that core identity in Christ liberates us to live up to those chromosomes in a new and wonderful way. And we'll teach our daughter about that too. Not only is she a human, a remarkable and complex thing in itself, but she is also a woman. Wherever her womanhood ought to bear upon a situation, we want her to freely embrace it for the beauty that it is, and to understand that God was deeply pleased when He created Eve-- and when he created her.**

I have other thoughts on this. So many. If I ever organize them, take cover: it will be an inundation. But that's just something that's been rolling around in my head.

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*Though I think that this impulse is misguided, it's also thoroughly understandable in light of the historic preference for males. Consider who has received the education, inherited the money, enjoyed legal protection, and been celebrated at birth in countless societies around the world. Injustice is real. I just don't believe that the solution is to try to be a man. Instead, I believe that Scripture provides the much-needed corrective to history's twisted view of women: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

**I think that my parents did a great job of this while raising me. Whenever my femininity was Scripturally relevant (i.e. what I wore or how I related to boys) it became part of the conversation. Whenever it wasn't (i.e. what history class I would take that year), well, it didn't.

07 December 2012

Weekend linkage [also, post #900]

Jared: Look, the government can do whatever it wants with Social Security. All I want is the ability to opt out!
Irene: Or you could move to Washington and smoke pot. Then it wouldn't bother you as much.

Me: You need anything at the grocery store?
Jared: Booze.
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Pregnancy happenings: Huff puff. I'm now panting after just two flights of stairs or a brisk uphill walk, which makes sense, since the baby is now supposedly larger than a papaya. Things have to be getting cramped in there.

Hungry as usual! I've discovered that tuna salad (a can of albacore + mayonnaise + Dijon mustard), several thick slices of cheese, and some raw vegetables make a very satisfying lunch. I know, I know, pregnant women aren't supposed to eat a lot of tuna. Guess I should cook some chicken to mix things up.

Midwife visit yesterday. For those of you who like numbers, here are the stats: 7 pounds total weight gain, baby's heart rate is 140, and I'm measuring 23 centimeters. In other words, everything is exactly on track for a healthy little one and a healthy mama.

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Speaking of healthy mamas-- or not, in this case-- I hear that Kate Middleton is in the hospital with hyperemesis gravidarum. Poor girl. Growing a royal baby must be enough of a circus without IV fluids to top things off. (Also, "Why Aren't We Calling It the Royal Fetus?")

On that note of health, the Japanese Pepsi contingent has some very interesting ideas about what constitutes "good for you."

What, is it not normal to have a conversation with your food's packaging? Nobody told me.

My friend Shannon just wrote a very true, very challenging, and very practical post on women and social media. "Although I am not promised that I will someday live in the Pinterest-perfect house with the Facebook-perfect family, I am promised something far better: that I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

These magnets are cool, though I'm not about to bust my piggy bank for a set.

And now, Jared's new favorite song! (NAY, I JEST . . . I am the guilty party here.)

05 December 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: a little cell of warmth

It's snowing outside
{image credit: Giulio Speranza}
I try not to let good things go by unnoticed. In spring the foliage slowly closes in the prospects from all the windows and the porch. When the trees are in full leaf, this place, close to the road as it is, seems remote and set apart. When the leaves fall, the distances lengthen all around. The river is more visible from the house then, and I can see the pastures and cornfields on the far side, and beyond them the hills.

Some days a strong breeze fairly fills the place. Every leaf moves, and the sound is like a long breath. Sometimes there is a breeze that moves the leaves without a sound.

And I have known days when the temperature would not rise above zero, when snow would be deep, ice on the river, the north wind rattling the branches. Then this house is a little cell of warmth, a cold brilliance coming in at the windows, a good fire in the drumstove, a pot of bean soup simmering, the dog asleep on the floor. Nobody comes, only the birds to the suet feeders. And I have nothing to do but read and watch. I seem to be in a room in the wind. I talk to the dog, who raises her head to listen and then goes back to sleep.

-from Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

03 December 2012

not a problem.

"Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content."
-1 Timothy 6:6-8

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I had a eureka moment the other week; I discovered that a certain shift of thought can help me walk through undesirable situations with more grace, more contentment, and less complaining. See, although I tend to view any unpleasantness as something going wrong, it may just be that it's not going how I wanted. And there is of course a big difference there.

Right now I feel out of my element. As mentioned earlier, I'm neither in my own house nor among my own belongings. My usual habits have been disrupted and I'm unsure what I should be doing with my time. I miss my husband, who has to spend most of his free time sanding banisters and cutting out moldy plaster.

For quite I while I was categorizing this whole situation as a problem, that is, something that ought to be fixed. That perspective caused even more frustration because I couldn't find a way to fix things, or anyone to blame for the supposed malfunction!

One day, though, I realized that I'd been looking at my circumstances wrongly. There is no error here, nothing to be repaired. It's simply the way things are right now. I may not like it, and I may choose to lament it loudly, but in that case the problem lies in me rather than in the situation. :)

So now I have begun to deal with my frustration differently. Instead of tearing my hair out with anxiety, wondering what I can do to remedy my "problem," I can have faith that God has actually designed this season for me and ask Him to give me patience. Instead of saying to myself If only we could finish remodeling the house so I can get back to the correct way of living, I can say This isn't my preference but I will choose to live fully in this moment.

I know nothing-- at least experientially-- about caring for a newborn, but I suspect that this mindset may help me in the upcoming and months of little sleep and lots of crying. After all, if I'm awakened at 2 AM and think There's something wrong here! This shouldn't be happening! then I will have a cranky attitude and struggle to act lovingly towards my baby, since I'll be viewing her as a malfunctioning part of my day (or night, as it were).

On the other hand, if I think I really don't want this to be happening, but it's my life right now, well, I might still have a cranky attitude. But I can also remember that God has assigned this baby to me, and that there is nothing "wrong" with the poor thing . . . she's just not doing what I would prefer at the moment. :)

30 November 2012

Weekend linkage

My family is funny.

Jared: When we install the new cabinets we have to measure the space is between the radiator and ... um ... you know, the other thing.
Me: Wall?
Jared: Right. The part you can't walk past.

(He was maybe a little bit tired.)

Mark: Guys! I think a UFO just landed. There's a bright blue glow up there!
Matthew: Yes, that would be the sky.

(Dryly dismissive elder brother at his best.)

Ray: How much space do you need on the flash drive?
Jared: About half a gig.
Ray: Half a gig, half a gig, half a gig onward! Into the valley of death!

(Sorry Ray, you knew it was only a matter of time before you made it onto the blog.)

---

Pregnancy happenings: Tadpole is moving a lot, particularly when I first wake up, during mealtimes, and right before I go to sleep. Like her momma, it seems, she enjoys good food and is eager to get it.

Finding GAP maternity jeans at Goodwill is exciting. (What? It IS!)

---

Washington Post article on Susan Wise Bauer and infighting among homeschoolers.

Someone please, please, please buy this for me. I would absolutely wear it.

I thought this post from Rick Phillips was excellent: "Thank God That Christians Are Not Totally Depraved."

Tim Challies is giving away a set of Theologian Trading Cards. This cracks me up. The giveaway is open until Saturday noon!

From The Atlantic, an article about Messianic Jews in Israel.

This coat! So cute. And I like her minimal makeup. It's refreshing after all the industrial-strength eyeliner one tends to see these days.

28 November 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: a friend of your mind

Paul D sits down in the rocking chair and examines the quilt patched in carnival colors. His hands are limp between his knees. There are too many things to feel about this woman. His head hurts.

Suddenly he remembers Sixo trying to describe what he felt about the Thirty-Mile Woman.

"She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind."

-from Beloved by Toni Morrison

27 November 2012

"oh no, don't bother"

I have plenty of time to think these days. We are living with Jared's parents until our house is ready, a situation which-- while delightful in many ways, and nothing like those dreaded parents-in-law stories you may have heard-- leaves me at a loss for occupation. I can't do anything at our house right now, because all of the remodeling either involves heavy lifting or lots of chemicals. I have two small rooms to keep in order, which is certainly not demanding, and as for work, it comes in spurts: one week I've got ten short stories and five persuasive essays to edit, and the next week, practically nothing. I don't have any of my craft and art supplies with me (dumb. I shouldn't have put them in the storage unit) and even I can only read so much before my head splits.

So. Thinking. I do that.

(Plus plenty of sleeping. If you could stock up on sleep, oh man, I would have one fat account. Too bad I won't be able to draw upon it after the baby is born!)

---

I wonder, for example, why it is so hard to let other people bless us. At least it can be hard for me.

One stock answer is pride: we believe that we should be able to do everything ourselves, so we don't want to admit our weakness and ask for help. I think that is a legitimate possibility. Pride poisons a lot of things. For me, though, I see another reason, and that's cynicism.

I mentioned this in a post over the summer. I tend to assume that people don't care about me and that if they offer to serve me in any way, they're doing it out of a sense of obligation rather than sincere love. Why is that? I'm really not sure. After all, for the most part, I enjoy blessing others. If I bring them a present or go out of my way to help them, I'm not acting out of guilt or legalism-- I am happy to do it!

Yet . . . I insist on believing that others don't feel the same way about me. When I am offered an unexpected gift, I get suspicious, and I am more likely to say "oh no, don't bother" than to graciously accept it.

That's silly. I want to have more faith in people, and less skepticism. I don't think it honors my friends to be insistently independent, to push away their help.

What other obstacles might stand in the way of accepting blessing?

26 November 2012

pastures and valleys [part IV]

Villa dei tre camini
{image credit: Il Medo}
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

---
 
"surely": the psalmist is certain about what he says. Why? Because his trust is founded on the host's character.

"goodness and mercy": things only God can give perfectly. Thing we all long for, and that are going to comfort and protect us in the valleys.

"will follow me": I love how personal God's care is. He doesn't just follow the church in general, or a family, or a nation. He follows me. And I love, too, the focus on the future here. What comfort for an anxious heart-- he will be there! Also, the act of following shows a kind of dogged loyalty. We're not going to escape the shepherd because he has pledged himself to us.

"all the days of my life": no exceptions. I never realized how absolute the claims of this psalm are.

"the house": something established. A place of welcome. And if it's the house of the Lord, it will be a grand dwelling. I think of a mansion, a villa, a temple.

"the Lord": the first time he has been called by name since verse 1. The psalmist is reminding us who the shepherd really is.

"I will dwell": the journey is over, but life is not. Dwelling is an active, living thing, a state of conscious bliss. Something to look forward to! And it is the ultimate fulfillment of all the pastures and waters and tables where we've rested along the way.

"forever": without ceasing. "No one will snatch them out of my hand."

24 November 2012

busting a cold

Yesterday I came down with my first cold of the season. Scratchy throat, cottony head, going through tissues like whoa . . . all the fun you could wish for.

Jared: How are you feeling?
Me: Sick.
Jared: Aww. Are you sneezy?
Me: Yes.
Jared: Are you sleepy?
Me: Yes.
Jared: Are you . . .
Me: Yes, babe. I am also dopey.

So out came my arsenal of vitamins and supplements, and today I feel much better. Hurrah! If you happen to be interested, here are the natural remedies I used to kick the cold bug:

Vitamin C. Make sure it's a buffered formula (with magnesium and calcium) because absorption is much higher that way.

Cod liver oil. This has tons of vitamins A and D. I take it every day regardless of whether I am sick or not!

Oregano oil. Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-all the bad things.

Water. Staying hydrated is always important, doubly important when you're pregnant, triply important when you're ill. Get yourself a good water bottle and keep filling it.

Echinacea tea with raw honey. Boost your immune system, stay warm, and get more hydration while you're at it.

Homeopathic nasal spray. Mostly it helps with congestion, which means that it allows me to sleep, which leads me to the next item . ..

Sleep! I actually took a three hour nap yesterday afternoon, and then I slept all night again. My philosophy is: sickness means no alarm clocks. If you need to take a big old nap, although you may feel bad about the things you aren't getting done in the meantime, in the end it's a much better investment of your time.

Olive leaf extract. I actually don't know much about this stuff (shame!) but it was recommended to Jared one particularly cold-ridden winter; it certainly seems to speed healing for us.

If I would have had zinc on hand, I would have taken that too. In my experience, it always speeds a sore throat on its way. Now that I am down to occasional sneezing and a slight headache, I am just continuing with lots of water, vitamin C, cod liver oil, oregano, and olive leaf.

Having a personal masseur also helps matters tremendously. But sorry, you will have to find your own-- mine isn't for hire. :)

23 November 2012

Weekend linkage

"We will choose plan number C."
-Jared

---

Pregnancy happenings: Tadpole is a girl! :) We had the ultrasound on Monday. My favorite part was while the tech was trying to take a picture of the baby's profile: she had her arms stubbornly crossed in front of her face and kept moving her hands, and at one point, she looked as if she was trying to suck her thumb.

I don't know, you guys. There's just something surreal about watching your daughter (!!) wave her hands around on a computer screen. After waiting so long to see an image like that, well, wow. I can't quite believe this is happening. But she is . . . all 10 inches of her.

In other news, I have become an emotional BASKETCASE. Like, I've found a reason to bawl my eyes out every single day for the past week and a half. Does something happen around week 20 that permanently knocks one's hormones off kilter?! Please tell me this won't last forever!

---

The only time I've ever found football commentary interesting: The Princess Bride shows up on ESPN.

Jane Austen can teach your child to count.

This book looks fascinating (and for that matter, I'd like to buy the cover artwork as a print to frame on the living room wall!).

Speaking of prints on the wall. A.A. Milne or Beatrix Potter for the nursery? (Or both?)

21 November 2012

pastures and valleys [part III]

dining_dinner - The Ridge Tahoe Resort Hotel
{image credit: Ridge Tahoe}
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

---

"a table":  We're taking time to sit around a table, so we are not eating on the run. It's going to be a leisurely, pleasant meal-- possibly a celebration!

"you prepare": as usual, the shepherd does all the work here. He is once again looking out for the psalmist.

"before me": this nourishment and comfort are readily available. I don't have to go on an expedition to find it.

"my enemies": the same dangers that presented themselves in the valley. Those who desire my hurt or downfall.

"in the presence": the Lord is not at all intimidated by these enemies. He is practically thumbing his nose at them. Nobody can deter him from his purpose. As in the valley of the shadow of death, he is providing comfort to his flock right in the middle of an apparently dangerous situation.

"oil": a sign of welcome, blessing, even divine favor or selection. "The oil of gladness."

"cup": literally, a drinking vessel. But figuratively, my heart or my portion of blessing.

"overflows": far beyond mere filling. God is abundantly able to provide and to delight. He's an extravagant host. His guests never lack (just as the sheep shall not want).

This seems an appropriate passage to post about on the day before Thanksgiving. :)

19 November 2012

pastures and valleys [part II]


La vallee sombre..
{image credit: David Augustin}
Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

---

"valley": there may be fertility and quiet in a valley, but it is strategically inferior. For a flock of sheep, it's more dangerous than a mountaintop.

"shadow of death": not death itself, but close enough to inspire great fear. One's life is being threatened in some way (whether that is literal mortal peril, or a threat to your wellbeing in some other way). More than an everyday inconvenience . . . this is a several trial.

"I walk": like it or not, these trials come. We must cross the valley. (A thought here: I suppose that the shepherd must still faithfully be leading the flock, just as he led them to quiet waters.)

"even though": a hint of something unexpected, contrary to our naturally fearful response to the situation.

"no evil": this is strong language with zero exceptions. Evil is terrifying, the enemy, death, Satan, wickedness of all kinds. Even the shadow of death? The psalmist doesn't fear that?

"for": now comes the explanation.

"you": we move from describing the Lord in third person to addressing him directly; this is a new note of intimacy.

"with me": the poor sheep isn't wandering through the valley alone. The shepherd, furthermore, is no passive bystander and no fellow victim. He takes action.

"are": not a future hope. The Lord is with the flock at all times, from entrance to exit.

"rod and staff": used both to fend off attackers and guide unruly sheep back into line. The shepherd protects us from a two-fold danger-- within, our tendency to stray into doubt or self-reliance. Without, the enemies sent by the world and its diabolical prince.

"comfort": we can rest even in this valley!

16 November 2012

Weekend linkage

[upon passing a buggy decked with flashing multicolored lights]

Me: I guess it doesn't matter if you're English or Amish . . .
Jared: Everybody wanna pimp out their ride.

The picture shows you what I've been doing at the house: scraping wallpaper. Jared commanded me to wear a mask because there is probably lead paint underneath the wallpaper. Don't worry, I only dealt with the paint for a total of four or five hours. I don't think the baby will have three heads or anything.

---

Pregnancy happenings: I felt Tadpole move for the first time this week. Possibly the coolest thing ever. I remembered, suddenly, that there's another person living in there . . . that it's not just me getting bigger, but somebody else. Our family consists of three already!

In addition to being all kinds of amazing, it's also slightly freaky. I've never functioned as a house before.

We find out if Tadpole's a he or a she on Monday. Guesses?

Oddly, a lot of people have asked us if we'd prefer a girl or a boy. I think that is a funny question; for one thing, we have absolutely no say in the matter, so preferences seem somewhat pointless here. For another thing, even if we could influence the outcome, I don't think we'd care! Either way, I'm probably going to flip out with excitement, just for different reasons. If it is a girl, fantastic. I see womanhood as a wonderful gift from God, and I would be thrilled to have another little lady in the house. I like being a girl [well, most of the time] and it would be such a privilege to help raise one. If it is a boy, equally fantastic. I enjoyed growing up with so many brothers [well, most of the time] and I would love to have a son! So whatever the ultrasound reveals, there will be much rejoicing around here. :)

---

Interesting Forbes article on banning email. It's focused on business practices, but makes points relevant to personal email as well.

I'm looking forward to this forthcoming book: The Gospel Centered Woman.

Ah, rocket science I can understand!

A beautiful persimmon centerpiece.

15 November 2012

pastures and valleys [part I]

Quiet Stream Near Rush
{image credit: Doug Wertman}
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside quiet waters;
he restores my soul.

---

A little while ago, Jared and I took a brief course on reading and interpreting the Bible (of course, I was sick for two of the classes so that's not very helpful). Anyway, the aspect I appreciated most was when we'd spend the first part of class going over a particular passage of Scripture, word by word, thinking hard about what each little part of the passage meant. I realized that I am in the habit of reading quickly and looking for the "big picture." Not a bad thing, but it can cause me to skim over nuance. That is where a slow, painstaking approach is more beneficial.

So I decided to read Psalm 23 that way and see what I found. Here's a summary of my scribblings on the first few verses. More coming later.

---

"shepherd": someone who cares for a group. He's been given a responsibility to protect them and so he devotes himself to that job.

"the Lord": the most powerful, the unchanging, the all-seeing one. It's strange that he would become a shepherd, a servant, but there it is-- our shepherd is no underling, he's the king.

"my": I am in the flock. I have someone wholly devoted to my welfare. Also, the shepherd isn't just watching out for someone else's belongings. "We are the sheep of his pasture." He brought us into the fold and is going to guard us henceforth.

"I": this psalm is remarkably personal. The Lord cares for me, not a faceless mass of sheep. He knows my frame and ministers to my soul.

"want": a need or lack. The shepherd supplies all that is necessary.

"shall": an expression of certainty. I am confident that the Lord-- the shepherd-- will meet my needs. No question here about his attentiveness to his flock.

"green pastures": places of abundance, beauty, and safety.

"lie down": we don't just pass on through. We can rest. The shepherd is watching over the flock and we can let go of any fears.

"makes me": this could mean makes it possible (because of his care, I can rest) or makes it obligatory (after all, we stupid sheep sometimes don't want to rest and insist on struggling rather than trusting the shepherd!).

"still waters": life-giving refreshment without storms or waterfalls to alarm us. We can drink as much water as we need. It's a place of renewal.

"leads": we don't know how to get there on our own. I must follow the Lord to find the water and the pasture.

"restores my soul": our weary hearts need renewal. Life inevitably wears away not only our bodies, but our inward selves; they need restoration so they can be healthy once again. The shepherd resupplies the faith and joy we lost along the roadside.

"He": the focus is ultimately less on the places where the shepherd takes us, than on the shepherd himself. All along he has been the real source of rest, peace, and refreshment. He spoke to us through those gives but their power came from him. The Lord restores us as he draws us to himself.

13 November 2012

in the house of God forever

Scotland - Isle of Skye: The Greenest Pasture
{image credit: John and Tina Reid}
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside quiet waters;
he restores my soul.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

-Psalm 23

12 November 2012

if we were cats

Just after we got married, I did a post in which lolcats portrayed some of our everyday life. Here we are three years later.

This is Jared working on our new house.


This is me when confronted with the budget.


This is Jared listening to hip-hop.


This is me when I get a good book out of the library.


This is both of us when the other person is on the computer.


09 November 2012

Weekend linkage

"I’ve made up my mind. I’m voting for Antoine Dodson, all seats."
-Jared on election day

So you can run and tell that, homeboy.

---

Pregnancy happenings: getting bigger (Tadpole is almost the size of a mango these days) but still stubbornly squeezing into my old jeans. On the bright side, I can drink tea again! Just in the nick of time, too, as we had our first flurry of snow this week.

---

This hot cauliflower dish looks amazing. I picked up a head of cauli last week so I guess I'll be making it soon!

Belle in the 'hood. I have watched this about a dozen times and am still crying with laughter. Of course, it's only funny if you are really familiar with the original. Hint: "there goes the baker with his tray like always" has been revised to "there go Bonquesha, she wit' Detray like always," Belle visits the weave shop instead of the bookstore, and Gaston's pickup line is now "Girl, your daddy mus' be a cop cause you got fine written all over you!" (Language warning.)

Extremely interesting--and provocative--article by Joseph Epstein on "The Kindergarchy." I agree at some points, disagree at others. What thinkest thou? "One reads occasional stories about the spoiled children of the rich, those little tyrants of private schools, who wear designer clothes and mock classmates who do not; or about the kids whose parents drop a couple hundred grand on their bar-mitzvahs or sweet 16 parties; or of affluent suburban high-school parking lots filled with their students' BMWs and Porsches. In a rich country, a fair amount of this kind of sad vulgarity figures to go on. But what I have in mind is something more endemic--a phenomenon that affects large stretches of the middle class: the phenomenon, heightened under Kindergarchy, of simply paying more attention to the upbringing of children than can possibly be good for them."

The greatest tragedy of the recent election: "From 1973-1994 roughly 35 million babies were aborted. That’s roughly 35 million 18-39 year-olds who did not vote because they were dead." There aren't many socio-political issues I feel strongly about, not many debates in which I am willing to take a decisive stand, but my God . . . this is one of them.

07 November 2012

the love of God was made manifest among us

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another . . .

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and however abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

(1 John 4:7-18)

---

John really takes the cake for compression. In approximately ten verses he jams in more truth than most pastors do in an hour of preaching (sorry, pastors . . . hope you aren't offended that I am comparing you with the Apostle John :).

06 November 2012

sour cream quiche

Crustless Quiche
{image credit: Joy the Baker}
What's for dinner? Um. We have a lot of eggs . . . I guess we always have a lot of eggs. Oh hey, look. Cheese! And other interesting things that we can mix with eggs!

*chop fry stir bake*

In fact, I think this is the best quiche I have ever made. (Bacon and sour cream tend to do that for ya.) If you are out of mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and green onions-- alas, a common plight-- you can always put in other stuff. I bet that broccoli and red onion would be another great combination. Also, sausage would make a delicious sub for the bacon.

I never add a crust to my quiches: 1) I don't want to bother and 2) gluten that I don't need. Feel free to use one if you'd like, though.

When feeding more than two people, you'll want to double the recipe in order to have leftovers for breakfast. It is most certainly that good. I see it as another reason for us to get chickens (we have a shed in the backyard that could convert into a coop, after all).

---

Sour Cream Quiche

1/4 lb bacon
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1 small bunch green onions, sliced thinly (include green part)
3/4 cup shredded cheese (a blend of cheddar and Parmesan is good)
6 large eggs 
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour crea
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
dash of pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat deep-dish glass pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
2) In large skillet, fry bacon until crisp at the edges. Remove to plate; saute sliced mushrooms in the bacon grease, just until tender.
3) Stir together tomatoes, green onions, and cheese in mixing bowl.
4) Once bacon is cool, chop finely and add to cheese mixture; stir in mushrooms. Spread in prepared pie plate.
5) Combine eggs, sour cream, milk, basil, salt, and pepper in blender until smooth. Pour over cheese and vegetable mixture in pie plate.
6) Bake for 35-40 minutes in preheated oven. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Simple Lives Thursday.

02 November 2012

Weekend linkage

"If this real estate thing doesn't work out, I can always go be the yeoman of somebody's cellars."
-Jared

This was after we watched a documentary on the British Royal Family in which we were introduced to their Yeoman of the Cellars, an intimidatingly knowledgeable personage with an even more intimidating French accent. Let's just say he had a lot of wine bottles in his keeping.

---

Pregnancy happenings: According to the scale at the birth center, I have only gained four pounds since my first visit. (Jared is skeptical, and it does seem like it should be more than that, for the amount of belly that's popped out in the last few weeks. Well, I'm not complaining.)

We settled on our house this past Wednesday!!! Here I am looking into the middle bedroom, which happens to be the only room with wallpaper (thank goodness), suffers from a saggy ceiling, and will probably turn into the guest room in the near future.

---

Did you know that Guglielmo Marconi almost sailed on the Titanic? Smithsonian has a really interesting feature on seven famous figures who escaped the disaster by chance.

Somebody get this for Jared for Christmas.

"Why Easter Means I'm Not a Sabbatarian" by John Stevens.

"Why Easter Means I'm a Sabbatarian" by Iain Campbell.

Three lifelines in any storm. "And the wind keeps blowing, and I keep singing these three lines like a lifeline, and what else is there always but these?"

31 October 2012

teaching, schmeaching

Whenever I assign persuasive essays, I send my students a List of Banned Topics. Currently on that list: creation vs. evolution, homeschooling vs. public school, gun control, and abortion. (These are the first topics a typical homeschooled student pulls out of his hat, and after a while I got tired of reading the same rehashed arguments.)

Next year I'm adding cell phone usage and video games. If I have to read one more essay about the dangers of texting . . .

---

Do you think it would work to send all my students a blinking neon reminder about Comma Splices, Proper Use of Apostrophes/Semicolons/Colons, and Matching Your Pronoun to Your Antecedent?

Or maybe if The Oatmeal would just make a complete set of grammar posters.

Also under serious consideration: a mass email concerning The Alot. "Alot more dangerous . . . baby less dangerous."

(I'm getting a little stabby about grammar. Can you tell?)

---

In my high school composition class, I ask the kids to write a brief "introduction essay" of sorts, and one of the things I request is that they tell me about their favorite books. Being homeschoolers, you can always bet on The Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and Redwall. Then the more classically inclined will mention Dickens or Lewis, the typical teen girl will mention some bubblegum series I've never heard of, and every year there is a popular newcomer: last year it was The Hunger Games, this year it was Heroes of Olympus.

These essays are always amusing and they make me feel like I'm on top of young adult literary trends.

What new books have you been reading?