Sunday, March 27, 2011

a toddler CAN get something out of church

I don’t usually give parenting advice on this blog.  I think the main reason for this is that parenting has taught me a profound sense of humility.  For, as we moms and dads know, whenever we think we’ve “got it” in some area of parenting, our little one flips our world upside down again and shows us just how little we know.  So if I give advice, I try to do it cautiously and without judgment toward others, because being a mom is hard enough without everybody in the world judging why you’re doing it wrong and they’re doing it right.

But I want to give just a little cautious parenting advice.  I only have one kid, and what has worked (so far) with her may not work with everybody.  But I’d like to ask you to at least consider what I have to say about kids and church.

As an aside though, let me say without equivocation that I hope all of my readers are serious about passing their faith on to their kids.  Nothing—nothing in the world—could be more important than that.  And nobody in the world is more influential in terms of forming their faith and values than you are.  This is the part of my advice that I’m not going to hedge on.

I have heard parents say, “We’re not going to teach our kids any religion.  When they grow up, they can choose a religion for themselves.” This is such a nonsense statement because in every other area of life, we freely recognize that kids don’t know what is good for them. You can give them the choice between broccoli and candy and most every kid in the world will choose candy.  You can tell kids they have the choice between lying or not lying when they did wrong and they’ll probably choose lying so they don’t get caught.  You have to teach kids values…they don’t come by values naturally.  We parents get just 18 years of life to help kids become responsible adults with character and strong values and beliefs.  If you have any inkling of faith in your life, it makes sense to get serious about that and do your best to practice it personally and pass it along to your kids.  What in life could be more significant than that?

Ok, so that’s the part of my advice that I just can’t agree to disagree on.  We parents have simply got to pass on our faith to our kids.

But when it comes to how we apply that part of the advice, that's the part where I feel strongly but can agree to disagree as I do understand every kid is different. 

I believe with all my heart that a toddler can get something out of church, if you prepare them for what they will experience there.  It’s gonna take some hard work on Mom and Dad’s part.  And it’s unrealistic, of course, to expect them to spend the whole service sitting there with their hands folded.  But it’s entirely possible that they can begin to develop their own faith life while worming around in the pew with Mom and Dad.

Here are some things I have found helpful in terms of helping Burrito to appreciate and get something out of the church service:

1)      Every time we go to church, I try to remind Burrito beforehand that we need to be quiet in church.  I have taught her the reason for this, as it’s a lot to expect of a toddler to be quiet when they aren’t in on the “why” of church.  When I ask her why we have to be quiet at church, now she can answer, “People listen God’s Word!”  I explain to her that if we are super noisy at church, other people won’t be able to hear God’s Word and won’t be able to hear how much He loves them.  Besides teaching faith, I hope to teach her empathy (one of the most important virtues we as parents can pass on to our kids).  I want her to be able to think of others and how they feel and not just her own feelings.

2)      Most churches (ours included) have busy bags that usually include a few toys and books, as well as something Bible-related to color (or perhaps an activity page).  It makes a lot of sense to bring a few favorite toys and books from home too, and also to emphasize to your child that they may have toys but they need to play quietly.

3)      Prepare your child for anything unusual that might happen at church.  I remember when I was serving as a pastor, there was one family who always sat near the front of the church.  It was wonderful to see the whole family together on Sunday morning and I deeply admired the parents for their commitment to this.  But the toddlers in this family were going through a stage for a while where they would be extremely noisy during the service and I could not hear myself think when I was trying to preach a sermon.  On Good Friday that year, I saw the family coming in and thought, “Yikes!  Imagine how noisy those kids are going to be!”  I didn’t want to make the mom feel bad; it’s tough enough to be the mom when your kids are acting up without somebody making you feel bad about it, and after all, she was bringing her kids.  Suddenly it occurred to me that what I really needed to do was to talk directly to the kids about the service.  So I got down on their level and explained to them how the service was a very serious one, and how it was about Jesus dying for us, and we needed to be quiet during this service.  I asked them if they thought they could do that, and they said yes.  That day, I saw a noticeable improvement in their behavior.  I was really proud of them.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this approach before.  I think it’s because often children are invisible to us in church unless they are misbehaving.  But, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

4)      I feel strongly that our children should be beside us in the pew on Sunday morning, rather than relegated to a children’s church service.  I believe nothing makes a bigger impact on kids’ faith than seeing their parents’ faith in action.  You may think Junior is paying zero attention to you or the church service, but it is not lost on him that you are regularly taking time to go and worship God.  My husband talks about the impact going to church with his dad had on him.  His dad would stand beside him and sing out of tune but at the top of his lungs.  His dad modeled that faith didn’t have to be perfect or neat or tidy, but it did need to be a regular part of life.

5)      One of the biggest barriers to kids getting something out of the church service is that everybody tells them to just sit there during a service that is often hard for even adults to understand, and nobody explains to them what is going on.  I try to take every opportunity I can to invite Burrito into the action, into being a part of what is going on.  No, she can’t read yet, so she can’t participate in everything but there is a definitely a real benefit to her in being part of a traditional church that uses liturgy.  Because many of the words of the service are the same every Sunday, the worship service becomes something that she (and other non-readers) can memorize and participate in.  Sometimes she forgets that she can do this, so during certain parts of the liturgy (such as the Kyrie, Apostle’s Creed, Prayers, and Lord’s Prayer), I pick her up and say, “You sing too!” or “You pray too!”  I let her play and color and just pick things up by osmosis during the other parts of the service but if there is something she can participate in, I do all I can to help her join in.  During the other parts of the service, I try to whisper in her ear what is going on too.  For example, during the Readings, I whisper, “He’s reading us God’s Word, so we gotta listen.”  She often whispers questions to me about the service or decorations in the sanctuary and I do my best to whisper a reply to her.  Nothing’s worse than sitting in a service having no idea what’s going on.  You and I would be bored too!  I want the service to be accessible to her.

6)      Don’t hesitate to lovingly discipline bad behavior.  When I was a little girl, my mom also had my brother and I sit with the family at church.  She never took us to the nursery when we acted up because she said, “Once a kid figures out how they got to the nursery, they never forget!”  So, she would take me out and make me face a white wall till I calmed down.  I use a similar approach with Burrito.  If she is making a loud ruckus at church (such as stomping her feet or talking loudly), she gets a warning and if she keeps it up, she gets taken out for a “time out.”  Before a time-out, I look her in the eye and explain to her why she is getting the punishment.  I then sit cross-legged with her on my lap, facing a wall (in a place where people can’t hear her being noisy).  I hold her gently but firmly for about 90 seconds and I try not to interact with her.  After the time is up, I gently turn her around and look her in the eye again.  I ask her why she got a time out (she usually can tell me why).  I explain why that was a problem (when she’s noisy, people can’t hear God’s Word) and ask her not to do it again.  I then give her a hug and tell her I love her.  She usually behaves better after that.

As I said above, parenthood has given me an extra measure of humility so I will say it’s entirely possible that I might wake up tomorrow and none of this will work anymore.  But these are some things that have helped me so far.  It does take some extra effort to train our kids how to behave in church, but I believe our efforts are more than worth it.  Nothing is more important than helping our kids to know God and His love for them and for the whole world.  I hope some of these tips will be helpful to some of you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

washing machine chaos

For almost the past week, life at our household has ground to a screeching halt.  And it’s all because of the washing machine.  Last Wednesday, laundry was already starting to pile up at our house.  I’d been having trouble staying ahead of things, thanks to a busy Lenten schedule, and an increasingly busy social schedule.  It’s awesome to have friends again and places to go, people to be with, but last night I had to stop and say to Christopher, “I thought the whole point of a stay-at-home mom was that you stayed at home!”  I was mostly joking around because I’m so very glad to not be so lonely anymore.  But I am a little tired and behind on housework.

And then the washing machine broke.  You don’t realize how much you depend on a household appliance until it goes and breaks on you.  Of course, the day after it broke just happened to be the day I went into Burrito’s room after her nap and found her with poop on her chin, poop on her clothes and sheets.  What other day, right? 

Burrito routinely wets through her diaper onto her sheets, like several times a week.  So, a washing machine is an important part of our house. 

My husband needs his good clothes clean.  He’s a pastor.  You never know when he’s going to have to be ready for a hospital visit in minutes.  Or ready to lead a funeral service.  He’s got to be prepared to look good at a moment’s notice. 


So, naturally, we tried to call another repairman.  He said, “Sure, I can probably come on Friday.  Call right away Friday morning.”

So we did.  But the receptionist couldn’t find the company owner, who was out in the field.  We kept calling all day.  Finally when the guy bothered to call us, we were about to leave the house for a church engagement.  So he said he’d come on Saturday, between 1-2.  We waited.  And waited.  And waited.  HE NEVER CALLED.  Not that day.  Not the next day.  Not at all, since then. I can understand that people get held up sometimes.  Maybe they are doing a job that should be quick that goes much longer than they expected.  Maybe something comes up with their family.  Maybe they get in a freakin’ car accident.  Life happens.  But if you tell a customer you will be there, call them and let them know what happened.  Apologize.  That would be nice.

Rather than hire a private eye to look into the case of the missing repairman, we decided to wait for the other guy to come on Tuesday.  Happily, Christopher had had the foresight to keep that appointment.  And Christopher did four enormous loads of laundry at the Laundromat, which he then brought back and I dried in our dryer one by one.  It took all night.  Did I mention that was a lot of laundry?

So we waited till Tuesday.  In the meantime, half of our water heater broke.  It was getting difficult to keep the Miller family clean and free from odors.  And of course, in my brilliance, I decided this would be the perfect weekend for a fish fry.  I apologize to anybody who happened to smell us.

Finally, today the repairman came.  Oh, my goodness, I was so happy when he turned up right on time.  He took things apart and found two color catchers and a baby mitten clogging things up.  That’s why the washing machine wouldn’t drain.  A simple problem with an easy solution. 

Woo-Eeee!  I am so excited!  I have a washing machine again!  I have clean clothes again!  Pee-pee and poopy can be dealt with and vanquished!  Hubby can be prepared for any pastoral emergency.  And I…?  I can finally wash those stinky, stinky slippers…and everything that smells like fried fish...I, my friends, can begin to smell nice again.

It’s the simple things in life….it’s the simple things…

Monday, March 21, 2011

burrito's top 3 culinary creations

I have a sneaking suspicion that my daughter might just be a budding foodie.  She comes up with unusual food combinations that actually make a lot of sense and turn out to be delicious (in reality or in theory).

Here are Burrito's top 3 culinary creations, just for fun!

1) Macaroni and cheese cookies.  Ok, this one is just in imagination but it's an idea she came up with one day while playing in her kitchen.  It made total sense to me.  I could see us preparing some homemade macaroni and cheese (maybe with a little ricotta cheese and vanilla and held together by a bit of egg?), taking a spoon and forming little balls of macaroni and cheese goodness, breading it with a mixture of panko bread crumbs, butter and brown sugar and popping it in the oven to brown and turn crusty and buttery.  I may just have to try this one day!

2) Mozzarella panini dipped in fresh orange juice.  She came up with this one today when we were at an Italian bistro.  She had orange chunks on the side, with her panini and the juice from her oranges sat in the bottom of the cup.  She dipped her sandwich in there and devoured it with gusto.  Again, this made total sense to me.  The sharp, acidy sweetness of orange against the mild creaminess of the cheese and white bread.  I tried it too and it was lovely.

3) Animal crackers dipped in goat cheese.  (Ok, I just realized that all of Burrito's creations are made of cheese.  It's no wonder, since she is my daughter, after all.)  We discovered this one during our mini Oscars party that we had last month, just the two of us.  We laid out our snacks on the coffee table (which was a big deal since she NEVER gets to eat in the living room), including rice crackers with goat cheese.  But the ever-inventive Burrito dipped her animal crackers in goat cheese.  I had to try it too after that.  And it was outstanding.  The lemony shortbread of the cracker against the sharpness of the goat cheese was the perfect combination.  I may just pull that snack out sometime even after she's in bed.  It was that good!

Yes, I think Burrito is definitely on her way to foodie greatness!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

turkey...and roasted vegetables with maple-balsamic glaze

When we moved to Montana, the lovely ladies of the church filled our cupboards, freezer and refrigerator with food so we would have something to eat right away.  Due to our personal insanity, we moved right before Christmas, so they included a turkey in our freezer.  I didn't have the energy to tackle a turkey AND a move over Christmas though, so it remained there for a few months.

But my mother-in-law and brother-in-law came to visit this weekend and since we were going to have more people around to eat said turkey and since I needed some space in my freezer (given the existence of Costco), I decided it was time to make the turkey.

I have never prepared a turkey entirely on my own until this weekend.  The intimidation factor was lowered quite a bit the year I prepared a turkey with Christopher's help, using the step-by-step photo-accompanied directions of Ree Drummond.  But to prepare it entirely alone, without the help of Williams Sonoma's turkey brine...ack!  Scary!

But this weekend, I did it!  I found another lovely recipe to use as a guide and I prepared my turkey much as I would a roast chicken.  I filled it with herbs, lemon, celery, garlic, and onion.  I sprinkled and rubbed in coarse salt and pepper.  I slathered it down with butter.  I was mightily nervous.  But I also felt pretty good about the job I had done.  I popped it in the oven and the photo above is the BEAUTY I ended up with!  I was so proud!

I had planned to serve it with mashed sweet potatoes, but the Mrs. has been inspiring me to use up more food that is in my fridge and stop wasting so much, so inspiration hit me and I came up with a new idea.  Roasted sweet potatoes, celery, onions and carrots with a maple-balsamic glaze.  It's amazing how well tired refrigerator vegetables will stand up to roasting.  And I had bought a GONZO bag of celery from Costco a couple weeks ago that was quickly losing its relevancy to the world.  I was very happy with the results of my roasted vegetables.  They were warm and inviting, savory and slightly sweet.  I got seconds.

3 large sweet potatoes, cubed
5-6 celery stalks, sliced
1 yellow onion, cut into chunks
1 cup of baby carrots

For the glaze
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
4 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 tsp. of cumin
1/2 tsp. of ginger
Fresh-ground salt and pepper

Mix the glaze in a separate bowl.  Toss with the cut-up vegetables.  Cover with aluminum foil and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour or until vegetables are tender.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I have a complicated relationship with Lent.  I know I'm a Lutheran and I'm ordained, so I should love it, but I really don't.   I have spent too much of my life bemoaning my sin and not enough acknowledging the grace of God.  I suppose a lot of people are the opposite, and hence the need for Lent.  But I recoil against the idea that we need to "prepare ourselves" to receive the good news of Easter.  As a Christian, who believes in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I am able to receive the joy and riches of Easter every day of my life.  I don't need to self-flagellate to somehow "earn" it.

Where I do appreciate Lent is in its steady realism about our sinful nature and the reality of death.  Anytime somebody tells the truth about life as it really is, I'm happy about it.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who give up chocolate or coffee for Lent for no real purpose.  If somehow doing those things helps you get closer to God or grow in your faith, I'm behind you one hundred percent.  If it helps you grow in areas in your life where you need to grow, I'm behind you too.  But much of the sacrifices undertaken during Lent seem to exist for their own sake, with no real purpose behind them.

Into this depressing melee steps my friend, Becky.  Becky is Lutheran too, she works in New York City, doing all kinds of theater, costume design, and other cool artsy things.  She has come up with a Lenten challenge for herself that for once has a real point.

She's recently come to realize that she eats way, way too much take-out.  By her account, 2 out of 3 meals a day is found in a take-out container.  She's come to realize she is eating away so much money that could be better spent.  And that she could have a lot better health were it not for all that take-out.  So, she's giving up take-out for Lent.  Despite her 15 hour days, she's gonna try to cook.  Or at least eat cheese and crackers.  In the midst of all that temptation.  And she's blogging about it.  So head over to 40 days of creative eating and encourage Becky.  It's gonna be awesome to witness a Lenten discipline with a real point take shape.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

the angry trout and trout chowder

The first time I ever went to the Angry Trout Cafe in Grand Marais, MN, I was on my honeymoon.  Christopher and I had decided we would go on a tour of bed and breakfasts throughout Iowa and Minnesota.  I knew about the bed and breakfast part, but not the specific location (Christopher planned that part).  Each day when we got in the car, he would hand me an envelope with a print out from the bed and breakfast's website and I would get to read about where we were going while we drove there.  It was a lot of fun, not to mention an economical and romantic way to spend a week's honeymoon.  I think, we spent about $1000 altogether.  And we had a splendid time, enjoying really nice accommodations, which we wouldn't have been able to afford if we had flown far away.

On one of the final nights of our honeymoon, we stayed in Grand Marais, MN.  The bed and breakfast itself that night was unimpressive, but from then on, I fell in love with the artsy, outdoorsy community of Grand Marais.  And this was due in no small part to making the acquaintance of the Angry Trout Cafe.

The owners of the the Angry Trout are incredibly intentional about their goals in their business.  Not only do they want to make money (and they do), but they also want to make a positive impact on their world.  This shows up in numerous little touches that make their restaurant different from any other restaurant I’ve ever been to. 

For example, they are powered by wind energy   They use smaller than average cloth napkins to save on water and electricity when they are washed.  If you want to take leftovers home with you, you are given a washable dish that can be returned when you are done with it.  Their chairs on their patio overlooking the lake (and they have one of the best views in town) are made from recycled tractor seats (and they actually look pretty cool).  Their plates and coffee mugs are pottery made by local artisans.  If you order a salad, your homemade salad dressing will come to you in a bottle.  Your pat of butter will come to you in a small butter dish, instead of a foil wrapper.  The foods that are used are mostly from local farmers and vendors, thus benefiting not only the planet, but also the local community.  Not only that but you can tell the employees at this restaurant on a mission are incredibly happy and well-treated.  Your tip to your server is divided also with kitchen employees, in the interest of fairness.  The servers are always well-mannered, in a great mood, and more than ready to help you with anything you need.

Now, all that is well and great, and if a restaurant treats its staff and the earth well, you can feel good about eating there, but if the food is no good, what’s the use?

A pregnant me craves the Trout.
But the food…oh, the food!  Ever since the first time we visited, Christopher and I have tried to make a pilgrimage almost every year.  The ingredients are fresher than fresh, homemade, and prepared an attention to detail.

Grilled fish and one of those famous salads.

The first thing I ever had at The Angry Trout was their salad and trout chowder.  Salad???  Big deal, right?  You couldn’t be more wrong.  The Angry Trout has the distinction of preparing the single best salad I have ever eaten in my life.

I think the secret must be the locally grown produce and the incredible homemade salad dressings (Buttermilk Blue Cheese!  Maple-Mustard!  Tomato-Basil!).  A typical salad at the Trout is hardy and filling.  It comes amply covering half of your large dinner plate.  A nest of leaf lettuce and baby greens is topped by whatever is in season and available.  This will probably be something along the lines of tomatoes, red onions, beets, carrots, strawberries, cucumbers, radishes.  The salad is topped with beautiful, white shredded Italian cheeses and a pretty edible blossom (such as a pansy) from the garden.

The salads are pretty special, but then so is everything else served at the Trout.  The second half of my first meal at the Angry Trout was the trout chowder!  It is made with freshly caught fish, right out of Lake Superior, fresh vegetables, dill, broth, butter and half and half.  It’s a fantastic, creamy, buttery, savory meal in its own right.

I have had many other dishes at the Trout in my yearly pilgrimages and none of them have ever disappointed. Grilled fish...maple barbecue chicken...garlic-olive oil fettuccine with Parmesan and hazelnuts!  Everything is fresh, the perfect temperature and good down to your bones.

So, trout was on sale this week at the grocery store, and I decided it was time to make the good stuff at our house.  The recipe can be found in Angry Trout Cafe Notebook: Friends, Recipes, and The Culture of Sustainability, a combination philosophy of business book/cookbook. In the book, the owners of the Trout give away a surprising number of their secrets and recipes, so if you can’t make the drive to the Café, it's the next best thing.

So, yesterday, I set my pot of delicious trout chowder to simmering, leaving us all drooling over its savory, buttery goodness.  We sat down to a family meal that evoked some of our happiest memories of the past few years.  I always feel so alive and so happy in Grand Marais.  In fact, one of the reasons I fell in love with the Flathead Valley so much is because it reminds me so much of Grand Marais.  The Flathead Valley has the lake, the pine trees, the theatres, the organic and earth-friendly eateries, the art galleries.  And we have mountains too!  But I digress...The point of this matter is that both the Flathead Valley and Grand Marais are awesome, and so is the Angry Trout, and so is trout chowder.  And so we enjoyed it again Monday night.

Not only was this happy feast husband approved (he even ate all the celery!), it was also kid approved!  Burrito kept asking for more fish and even finished her carrots. Score another one for the Angry Trout!

Angry Trout Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 6, 2011

spaghetti with slow-roasted tomatoes

It's the simple things that are especially beautiful.  Especially when it comes to food.  That's why one of my banner rules in cooking is: Don't mess it up. 

My friends and readers are always asking me to share recipes from my cooking adventures.  Sometimes, it simply isn't possible because it's somebody else's recipe entirely and I don't want to violate a copyright.  Sometimes I could do a better job of linking to recipes that are available online (I'll try to do that when I can).  But today, I can give you a recipe that was inspired by Molly Wizenberg in her book A Homemade Life.  I can give it to you because I adapted it enough to make it my own.

I started with a big Costco-size package of Roma tomatoes.  I sliced them in half and tossed them by hand with some olive oil, fresh ground sea salt, and a couple pinches of coriander.  I laid them out, face-up, in a large casserole dish and baked them for 5 1/2 hours at 200 degrees.  They came out syrupy and juicy.

I sliced them into more manageable slices and tossed them with sliced garlic.  Meanwhile, I cooked a big pot of whole wheat spaghetti.  Then I tossed the spaghetti and sauce together and topped it with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Italian parsley.

So simple, so easy.  Some of the best pasta I've ever had....I could have eaten two plates.  But I didn't...Maybe next time.

Friday, March 4, 2011

afternoon tea

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with all things tea-related.  For a while, I took afternoon tea every day.  It might just be a cup of tea and some graham crackers, but it gave me a lot of refreshment.  And not only refreshment, but it was the romance of the whole thing for me.  I think I pictured myself in Victorian England, stepping out of a historical novel.  When I was a teenager, I started my teacup and teapot collection.  Some were bought at antique stores; some were given to me as gifts. The more flowery the better.  Tea roses and pansies in particular struck my fancy.  I used my teacups and teapots to decorate with.  I had a silver tea service that had a place of honor in my room.  When I turned 16, I wanted to have a real afternoon tea party at the local bed and breakfast with ladies of all ages.  We dressed up and everything.  I was in my element.

During this time, I was given the book If Teacups Could Talk by Emilie Barnes.  It is filled with the history of tea parties, wonderful recipes, and tea-related quotations.  I can remember being hugely excited to make my first scones, complete with mock Devonshire cream!  I remember mixing the dry ingredients together, cutting in the butter with a knife, pouring buttermilk into the well in the center.  I remember cutting the biscuit-like scones out with a drinking glass.  I remember slathering them with egg wash.  I remember how excited I was to eat them and how good they smelled and tasted the first time.

Today I made the same recipe with my daughter.  We measured out the ingredients for the scones together.  I cut the butter into tiny cubes and she helped me mix it in with a potato masher.  We mixed in the buttermilk until the dough was clingy.  I rolled out the dough and she worked with me to cut out biscuits with a drinking glass.  Oh, the happy memories.  The smile and her face and the flour on her nose.

I let her pick out a teapot and teacup to use.  A friend had suggested a tea party to me when I was starved for ideas to fill the long hours at home.  Maybe she just meant a pretend tea party.  I’m not sure.  Burrito and I have had pretend ones before and they are always fun, but they don’t always last that long.  The idea occurred to me that she was old enough to have a real tea party.  I immediately started getting excited.  I had not used my teacups and teapots for years and years.  They had been faithfully packed and unpacked through several moves, but for the most part, they sat around the house as decorations.  Pretty, but not used.  Collecting dust. 

I suppose it’s safer in a way to just let things collect dust.  There’s no risk of breakage.  You can bring guests around to admire your collection.  But, honestly, where’s the fun in that?  Pretty things were made to be used.  When we use beautiful things, they elevate an occasion.  They make it extra special.

So with Burrito trailing at my heels, I carted my beautiful and unique bone china cups and nice teapots into the kitchen and washed them.  While she was sleeping, I set a table for tea.  I brought her down from her nap and she saw the beautiful table set just for her.  I poured her mint tea and asked her if she wanted some cream.  She stirred it with a spoon.  I put a heap of crème fraiche on her scone.  She asked me to cut it in pieces.  We smiled and giggled.  We had to stop for a potty break.  I looked up into her eyes as she held one of my very favorite bone china tea cups and I thought of the many lonely years I spent as a teenager.  The years when I wondered if I would be alone forever.  The years full of confusion and sadness.  It’s not that I don’t feel lonely, confused or sad today.  I do…sometimes acutely so.  But maybe if I could have peered ahead, down the years and seen a picture of my daughter-to be carefully sipping milky mint tea out of my cherished tea cup, maybe I could have taken a deep breath and looked into the future with more hope.  Maybe in my lonely and sad moments today, it’s a lesson to me still. 

Hope has dimples, a huge smile and tiny fingers delicately lifting a beautiful thing, a tea cup to her lips.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

The Mrs. over at her blog posted this great idea for keeping your meal plan for the week and fridge waste under control and organized.  She inspired me to do something that never happens: get a little crafty!  (Incidentally, I really appreciate her blog.  We have a lot in common: both going to a single job family while trying to raise kids, both trying to save money and use self-control...and both in support of the usage of butter whenever possible).

Here are pics:

Thanks for the idea, Mrs! 
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