Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Tale of Two Noses

Once upon a time, there were two girls in a family. The round, gestating mama and the precocious, adventurous two year old girl took a road trip. They travelled for two full days, driving a grey, four door sedan. Alternating between nursery rhymes, fruit snacks, reading books over her shoulder, and rest stops, the mama endured aches in her pelvis and cramps in her calves until they finally arrived at their destination, the event of the summer...

In a similar place and a later time, there were four girls in a family. The busy, blessed, and sometimes overwhelmed mama had a high order to keep up with the comings and goings of her estrogen-swamped herd of offspring. On some days, like the weekly "day of rest", it was especially difficult to be certain that the needs of all young ladies were met as they scurried to and fro from services to nursery to responsibilities to conversating. It was a typical, scattered sort of day...

After a few days spent recuperating the natural shape of their bottom ends (after all, the grey four door sedan was not a luxury vehicle), the mild-tempered mama and the easily excited two year old got up early one morning to dress for the event. They both bathed (gasp!), donned apparel appropriate to a formal celebration, and even attempted to adorn their heads with smooth, shiny curls, primping far beyond their everyday approach. Admiring the lovely sunny morning, they casually walked two blocks through quaint, yet impressive historic homes, commenting along the way at the varied architecture and collection of children's toys beautifying the lawns...

The general chaos of the day was interrupted when the eldest of the three young women was urgently rushed to use the facilities as her intestinal fortitude was giving way. The mess was as enormous as the aroma was putrid. Sometime in the metaphoric black hole of rectifying the disastrous discharge during which elapsed time was completely overlooked, the second born young lady went missing. She was presumed to be with the lone male of the family, her father, or perhaps participating in a raucous game of chase and squeal with her equally pint-sized companions...

To be continued...

To be continued...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Aruba, Crisis, and 3 Babies

My father in law just returned from his annual one month trip to Aruba. He spent yesterday unpacking, repacking, gifting, and talking about what God taught him while he was away. A lot of talking. One word kept coming up over and over again: Crisis. He listened to a preacher talk about how sometimes our lives are just one crisis after another. I'm sure the preacher expounded on God taking care of us during crisis as well, but my ears were full after awhile ;). Our small family is not currently in the midst of a crisis (unless you count the serious sleep deprivation we've been experiencing lately), but this week I've watched several tornadoes storm through the lives of those close to us.
1. Last Monday Eric's brother's wife gave birth to their second son, Solomon Leo Patenaude. His arrival was early, so they are now in the midst of a crisis with their 7 week premature baby. We are so thankful for modern medical technology that has kept little Solomon alive and will continue to sustain him until he is able to nurse and breath well on his own. Their family is banking their hope on Jesus to sustain them through this trying time. Ryan (dad), was in the midst of student teaching and has had to quit, Stephanie (mom) had to go home and experience the joys of postpartum life without her sweet baby by her side, and Thor (big brother-16 mos. old) is making some adjustments too, I'm sure.

2. Our close friends and partners in sanctification, Luke and Jennifer, found out on Tuesday that they will be moving to Iowa in a couple of months. This was a HUGE surprise and not a welcome one. They are struggling to believe that God has a good plan for them and that He will provide all the things they long for. Little Malachi (2 yrs) and Baby Nerea (2 months) are along for the ride...

3. My sister and her Baby Levi (6 mos.) were in a serious car accident on Thursday. They were hit by another driver then taken by ambulance to the ER. Thankfully they each only sustained minor injuries, but the car they were driving is fatally wounded. My sister is in the midst of a difficult first semester of Nursing School, but will need to rest some before returning to full speed mode.
I felt a certain adrenaline rush as I watched from the sidelines of each of these situations. We know how stressful crisis is for a family, though thankfully ours have always been brief. As God brings these three babies and their families to mind, please pray for them. Pray that the "peace of God would guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

Peace to each of you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fun Day

We recently overhauled our family budget. Again. After an expensive Fall due to medical issues(hospital birth, meningitis), we recognized that our monthly budget was going to have to be crimped in order to pay all the bills. I spent a few days carrying a major how am I going to stick to it??? burden before Eric set me straight, reminding me that God will do it. He always provides. Then I spent a few days carrying a major self-pity burden that we could not even afford swimming lessons for the girls. As if swimming lessons are the measure of a good life, or something. Really, how privileged and sick in the head am I? I have walked, talked, and lived among truly poor people around the world, and still I feel that my children are entitled to swimming lessons, of all things??? After a few days of that pity party, God mercifully broke in and let me put my sin aside and move on.

It wasn't long before He gave me tangible evidence that He will provide for all of our needs, and our wants. Over the last few months, I've been having a blast discovering all sorts of free enrichment activities to do with the girls. We have tours lined up at a wacky bookstore and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts with our preschool co-op. We've been attending weekly story time at our local library and preschool time at the science museum. We plan on visiting nature centers, farms, and the Zoo, all for free.

The best freebie to date has been the Children's Museum. Our children's museum is awesome, but it is expensive! At our library story time last week, we were able to sign up for four visits to the Children's Museum, all made possible by a community non-profit who's mission is to support children and their caregivers. We had such a fun day at the museum yesterday, and there are three more to come! I feel as though God is showing me in a very real way that A)we don't need swimming lessons in our lives right now, B)that He knows how to provide for us, and C)He is kind enough to give us more than we need!

A few highlights from our fun day out-

Hope says that her favorite part of the museum was the Dinosaurs Exhibit. Hope LOVES dinosaurs, and these were very lifelike and just scary enough to be fun. There were some that moved and made noises, but there were others that were just for climbing on. The exhibit is great because it is like a kid-sized, simplified science museum exhibit. Eva's favorite part was the Our World Exhibit. This exhibit is designed to be like a little kid-sized town, where kids get to try out all the things adults do most of the time. Eva especially liked working in the Chinese restaurant and using the cash register to ring up my bill. Hope spent most of her time riding the city bus or pushing a grocery cart overloaded with grocery staples.

In this picture, Hope was telling me that she was pouring syrup on her pancakes. Or laundry detergent on her Parmesan cheese... it's up to the imagination!
Firefighter Eva to the rescue!
Finally this girl is making herself useful! ;)
Hope checks the mail after Eva delivered a few postcards.
There is so much to do and see at the Children's Museum that normally we end up rushing the kids from one area to the next. But yesterday, since I knew we would be coming back again soon, I let them play as long as they wanted in each exhibit. We didn't even see half of the museum, but that's OK. We can't wait to go back and explore more!

We ended the day with some face painting, giggling, and dancing. It appears as though nothing but abstract art will ever emerge from this household. Eva has a thing for symmetry. Every one of her art projects at preschool has arrived home with great attention shown to symmetry. One look at her face tells me that this will be a distinguishable "Eva" trademark. Each color is matched with it's equal on the opposite side of her face. I'm going to have to google this and find out what kind of psychological analysis I might be offered...
Here is a sampling of our impressive dance moves...I even gave myself a few red squiggles. I was afraid this might scare Esther, but on the contrary, she found our painted faces to be side-splittingly funny. I took at least 20 pictures of her belly laughing at the mere sight of us.If it weren't for the ridiculous "apple green" background, I would probably mat and frame a series of these happy shots. Ahhhh, it is just occurring to me that I will have to photo shop these black and white.

love, peace, and fluorescent green strollers to you all!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring looks like...

Picnic lunches in the bright sunshine...running through clothes hanging out to dry...
the amusing cycle of seasons in which *apparently* every first-load-hung-out-to dry is a pinks/reds load...
laying in partial shade, massaging your gums with a clothespin...
Tee ball and rain boots...
Hens and Chicks (ironically the first up in spring and the last to bloom in the fall)...
tulips (I think, though I can't rightly remember what is planted there)...

Happiness... Refreshment... Hope... Surprise... Awakening... Fun... Energy... SPRING.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Food Day Friday: Texas Caviar

Bean Salad. Texas Caviar. Mmmmm, good!

I served this at a baby shower last weekend and several people wanted the recipe. When people ask me for the recipe, I figure a dish must be good enough to throw up on the 'ol blog. I warn you though, this zippy little creature will test your self control...

Texas Caviar

1 small onion, diced finely

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1 can corn, drained

some sugar (about 2 T. or to taste)

some salt (about 1 t. or to taste)

some Italian seasoning (about 1 T. or to taste)

1 bunch chopped cilantro, divided

a splash of lime juice (to taste)


Optional, but yummy additions:


Rotel canned tomatoes and chilis

shredded chicken

canned green chilis


Mix it all up in a glass bowl, holding out half of the cilantro and the avocado. Throw it in the fridge and let the flavors marinate together for several hours or overnight. Before serving, drain excess liquid, adjust seasonings, add more cilantro and avocado if you're using it. Enjoy as a salad or dip it with Frito's.

Have a happy, tex-mexy weekend!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

{Almost} Wordless Wednesday

She downs 100% organic coconut oil milkshakes about 7 times daily.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Eva's lab notes

Eva: "Mom, I'm kinda like a scientist."

Me: "Really?"

Eva: "Because if you say 'excuse me', the toots stop smelling."

Me: "That's good."

Eva: "And that's a good observation too."

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Food Day Friday: The Coconut Oil Cooperative

If you knew me in real life about two years ago, you would've known about my growing (actually exploding) passion: Coconut Oil. I resisted coconut oil for years, while my father in law continued to get me to read books about it. He touted it as a miracle food, perfect for whatever ails you. He ate it by the spoonful, which made me want to throw up.

Then I finally cracked the book that had sat alone on my shelf for years. Seemingly overnight, I was a convert. I loved coconut oil. I found a way to tie coconut oil into any conversation. I dreamt about coconut oil, I cooked with coconut oil, I smeared coconut oil on my face and my sunburns, I fed coconut oil to my baby, I searched the Internet for coconut oil information. And I ate coconut oil by the spoonful and didn't throw up.

In my opinion, the only thing wrong with coconut oil is the price. It is EXPENSIVE, about double the price of high quality extra virgin olive oil. The cost comparison to canola oil or corn oil is not even worth figuring. For about a year, I faithfully shopped sales to find the cheapest coconut oil I could buy locally. Then, I learned about Country Life Natural Foods and discovered their amazing prices on coconut oil (aka "liquid gold" to my father in law). It was during the summer of 2008 that I bought $50 worth of "somewhat refined" coconut oil. I was equal parts alarmed and impressed by the huge pail that it came in. The coconut oil pail found a permanent home in the corner of my kitchen. Over the next year I dug into the pail via a little spout near the top and a soup spoon. I couldn't pry the lid off by myself, and I couldn't lift the pail to pour it either. What a conundrum.

It was a little more than a month ago, when my husband exercised leadership in the coconut oil department of our family. He announced that I would never be able to use all of this oil before it went rancid, and I absolutely had to transfer it to smaller containers. On a visit to my parent's homestead, we decided to divide up the oil and free me from my own enslavement. I had no idea what a project this would be, nor did I understand the level of strategy the men would take in conquering the pail.

Step 1: Leave the pail beside a blazing wood stove all day. Since coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F, the oil is usually in a solid state during a Minnesota winter. We intended to melt the oil before removing it from the pail. But by golly, 50 pounds of coconut oil does not melt quickly. After a day of "melting", the middle was still solid fat!

Step 2: Move the pail to the kitchen counter and pry the lid off. Here's the pail, and here's my dad scooping oil out into gallon jars, after using a crow bar to pry the lid off. Step 3: Divide coconut oil into many gallon sized jars. My brother in law Jon, Eric, and my dad took this job very seriously. In my extreme gratefulness, I wanted to throw myself prostate on the floor before them. But the floor was greasy, so I didn't. Look how joyful (and out of focus) Eric's face is in this picture.
Step 4: Charge each of my family members a small fee for their coconut oil, making this simultaneously an exercise in humanitarian relief and capitalism.
Step 5: Discover that there are not enough one gallon glass jars in the county to completely divide this endless vat of oil.

Step 6: Determine that the remainder of the coconut oil will be securely housed in the pole barn on my parent's property. Perhaps in a few months the Coconut Oil Cooperative will reconvene to divvy out the rest of the commodities.

Although our Coconut Oil Cooperative does have a decidedly red-neck, tight-wad, interbred sort of feel to it, I hope we won't dissuade you from discovering coconut oil for your self. Take my word for it: IT'S AMAZING (by the mouthful, of course)!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

{Almost} Wordless Wednesday: Esther

First pony-tail:Sawin' logs:
Love those dimple-y hands:

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Right Now

1. Right now Hope is prying magnets off the refrigerator and throwing them to the floor, lovingly declaring, "here ya go, aminals." she is wearing a black ballet leotard and pretend plastic high heel shoes with pink rosettes. When she takes a break from taking apart my refrigerator display, she is pressing the buttons on my under-cabinet CD player. Her goal is to learn what effect each button has, or else break the machine. I suspect she'll succeed either way.

2. Right now Eva is lugging Esther around the house and whispering sweet nothings in her ear. She just tried on a new shirt/pants combination and came asking for my opinion on her preference for all aqua. She's only four, but my opinion really doesn't matter folks. She'll wear a monochromatic scheme if she wants to... and really, I don't usually care what she's wearing.

3. Right now Esther is patiently taking in the sights from her sister's hip. She has just patiently travelled to the girls newly rearranged bedroom where she has been securely enveloped in a nest of blankets on Eva's bed. She is patiently watching the girls sort the coins in Eva's piggy bank and squeal. Have I mentioned that Esther is patient?

4. Right now I am unloading my thoughts on the computer. I'm considering why I spent the whole day doing laundry and our bedroom floor is still covered in clothes. I'm considering why Hope insists on doing everything that she is not capable of and whines and screams when she is redirected. Soon, I'll go put new sheets on the guest bed. Eric's best friend from childhood is staying with us all week. We're happy about that!

5. Right now Eric is at Invest, a class where men go to discuss deep theological matters. He loves it and almost never misses. He almost always does all his homework too, which has not been his pattern in the past. I admire him for his diligence.

6. Right now I should get off of the computer and get some little girlies into bed. It's getting to be that hell-raising time of night, and I wouldn't want to prolong it by waisting time on the computer.

Farewell, friends and family!