Sunday, October 4, 2009

Our Breakfast Club

I can't believe the last time I posted was July!

I'm sure everyone is wanting to hear about the dishwasher. The simple truth is, I caved. As soon as the kids went back to school, it started receiving regular use again. Well, not EVERY DAY regular, but when the dishes are washed, it gets used. I am SO thankful that I live in America, in 2009, and that some dear soul invented paper plates.

Anyway! Sweetie and I have always worked to help our children be self sufficient. When I began working outside of the home, that meant cereal for breakfast most of the time. The kids were SUPPOSED to measure their cereal and milk, but that rarely happened. Eventually, they began asking how to make eggs, and we would allow them to make their own hot breakfast. I am proud of the fact that my boys are not afraid of the kitchen, and are able to take care of themselves. It wasn't a perfect system, but it worked for awhile.

When the school year started in late August, the independent breakfast went the way of the dinosaur. The Unified Command (for those of you not familiar with Star Trek, that's Sweetie and I) decided that if we were to continue to sit down as a family for meals, it was going to have to be in the morning.

I'm naturally a "morning person", but I don't enjoy making breakfast. I'm happy with a bowl of cereal or a breakfast bar, or often, just skipping. I need to get on with the day! Sweetie is not a morning person, AT ALL. But we agreed that if hot breakfast as a family was going to happen, we would do it together, so he gets up with me. We try to eat around 6:30, and the kids have to be dressed for school before coming to the table (except for Dave and Tim on uniform day). It's been about six weeks now, and I have to say, I'm pleased with the results.

My favorite breakfast is granola and yogurt, but most of the time we have eggs of some sort. Mimi loves "scrambled eggs sausage", a favorite from my childhood. Geoff loves sausage gravy/biscuits (I buy frozen biscuits, how did anyone live before them???). We'll have breakfast burritos about once a week. Sweetie and I have also learned how to poach eggs in the oven. It's much easier than doing them in a skillet for a large crowd. We made breakfast pizza once, but the menu is beginning to get stagnant. Toaster waffles didn't work very well. I want little work and high variety, any ideas/recipes would be appreciated. ;~)

Mornings are still crazy, but now, most of the crazy happens before the kids get up. I work to get Sweetie up, and then Sweetie and I work to get breakfast on the table. The kids are better motivated by hot food than mom yelling at them to wake up (Staggering, I know). We spend 20 minutes or so together as a family, before facing the rest of the world. We have a chance to review schedules and after school plans. I've noticed that my stress level is much reduced. The dishes get cleared from the table most of the time, but getting them clean has to wait. I used to always be 15-20 minutes early to work, now I tend to be about 5 minutes late. It's work, but it's worth it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The "Pace Moose"

I used to run. I used to enjoy running. I loved the triumph I would feel at the end of a good run. I loved being able to challenge myself to run further and faster. I loved the way running reshaped my body. I loved being a runner. Times change. If I were to try to run today, I'm pretty sure the exercise would kill me. Literally. I'm certain I would not enjoy it.

There are two periods in my life when running was my lifestyle (so far). In 2005-6, here in Waco, TX, and, during my junior and senior years of high school in North Pole, AK. Here in Waco, I ran inside, on a treadmill, watching HGTV. It was great! After running, I'd go down to the weight room. The combination helped me to lose close to 50 lbs. I felt wonderful! I'm proud to say that I worked up to a 4 minute mile - and lost 4 dress sizes (if you are wondering, yes, I did find them again).

In Alaska, I ran outside. Summers in Central Alaska are mild. Daytime temperature highs probably average in the 70's. Great running weather. Running through our neighborhood, I was able to create a circuit that came close to a mile. I'd hit the pavement at 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning several days a week. Plenty of sun, no traffic, and cool air made running easy. The squirrels and birds would be busy feeding their young and preparing for the winter, but other than that, I had the world to myself...most of the time.

I don't remember the date, but I surely remember the day. I was about 1/3 of the way into my run, keeping a rhythmic pace. Thump, thump, thump sang my Reeboks on the asphalt. But, I was not alone. The rustling of the Alaskan underbrush told me I had a running partner in the woods beside me. I quickly glanced over my right shoulder, expecting to see a neighborhood dog, perhaps even our dog, 'Bama, who might have gotten out. No, not a dog, but the cracking of spruce and birch branches continued. I looked again, and then looked AGAIN. A moose calf was running alongside me. A yearling moose weighs about 400 lbs. A moose MAMA on the other hand, weighs closer to 1000 lbs. So, I'm running along, trying not to startle the moose, OR freak out myself, when it hits me... the yearling was running with me, I had no idea where Mama was!

It is not now, nor was it then, uncommon to see moose in North Pole. My dad regularly had them in his garden. Incorporated North Pole covers a lot of land, and humans are pretty new to the neighborhood. We would see them from the highway, or drinking from a pond. During the  summer, moose can become quite pesky about getting into vegetable gardens. They are herbivores, and I guess their view of a garden is as one big buffet.

But I digress...moose tend to be fairly mild mannered. Don't spook them, and they'll leave you alone. Unless you get between a cow (Mama) and a yearling. Just like any other mammal, a Mama moose will fight if she thinks her baby is threatened. She will charge, and then trample anyone or anything that she feels is a threat to her young. It is important to note that a moose's average running speed is 56 mph.  I was confident that a Mama moose could run faster than I could. And, I had no idea where she was.

Needless to say, my new friend reset my pace.   The calf followed alongside me until I made the turn back onto my street. I maintained the pace that I'd set when I first discovered my running partner. All the while, keeping my eyes peeled for large, angry, mama mammals. I don't remember how quickly I finished my run, but I made it back to the house in what I'm sure was record time, and collapsed on the sofa. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Three Things...

I'm gonna follow Marge's lead, a blog hop sounds like fun! 

1. My current web craze is "Bejeweled Blitz" on Facebook.  I can waste hours, one minute at a time, straining for the ever elusive 150K. 

2. In 1992, I, along with my Sweetie, and our friend Dick,  butchered a moose...and then ate off it for 2 1/2 years. I am still grateful for the provision.  After months of eating nothing but moosemeat, that same year, Sweetie and I also butchered a rooster that had been given to us. Diversity is WONDERFUL! 

3. I didn't get my drivers license until I was 21.  I took my drivers test in Punxsutawney, PA in an old AMC Eagle with two carseats in the back.  The first place I drove alone was to the ER to take my 3 month old in for what turned out to be an ear infection. 

MckLinky Blog Hop

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's Just Tragic.

Great Tragedy has befallen the King home. Death has touched us. With wailing and gnashing of teeth, we acknowledge that the dishwasher is no more. Well, technically, it's still in the kitchen ( I need the extra counter space), but it no longer functions as it was designed. Dead. I guess it goes with out saying that a woman with 4 kids does not enjoy doing dishes. In fact, after a simple meal of sandwiches, I often feel like my kitchen resembles the photo above! The kids don't yet know how bad it really is.

You see, my sweetie and I have decided NOT to buy a dishwasher. For a time. When we first bought our home, we bought a portable dishwasher, with the intention that it would last until we were able to remodel the kitchen and install a REAL dishwasher, you know, the type that fits under the counter top and is plumbed. Like any mom worth her salt, I'm forever wagging my finger at my kids telling them how easy they've got it. How when I was a girl, I had to do dishes every night, by hand. And I did. I remember my sisters and I standing on chairs, lined up at the sink, one washing, one rinsing, and one drying. We would inspect each dish, looking for a reason to reject it and send it back to the washer. Retribution came when it was our turn to wash.

Well, I'm not anywhere near a kitchen remodel, unless I win one of those $5000 gift cards to Home Depot I'm forever completing online surveys for. So we wash. By hand. After every meal. Mind you, we are just getting started on this "adventure", so the complaining has to this point has really been nonexistent. For that, I'm thankful, but I'm sure that will change. So, why on earth would a busy mom fore go the assistance of an electric dishwasher? In our time, it is considered to be a necessity. My answer: relationships. Our oldest will be 16 in a month (wow, just realized that). In a few short years, the concentrated opportunity we have to speak into the lives of our children will dwindle. We have limited time to share what we've learned, how we've failed, to convey family history, to encourage. To learn of them and from them.

If we had an operational dishwasher, the default activity after dinner would be for everyone to rinse and load their own dinner dishes into the dishwasher. Mom would then (maybe) hand wash the big stuff and wipe the counter tops down. Alone. Standing at the sink, for twenty or thirty minutes at a time with one or more of the kids is a chance I couldn't let pass. I look forward to hearing their dreams. Fears. What they are learning. We live such a fast paced life, this will force us to slow down, together. I'm actually looking forward to it.

Sweetie and I don't want the kids to know our intentions. In fact, he's often said that if our four could agree on anything, they would take over the world. I'm sure, that if they found out that we were INTENTIONALLY not purchasing a dishwasher, a coup would result. You know something like selling their treasures, pooling their resources, and buying mom a KitchenAid dishwasher. A KitchenAid KUDS02FRSS - S Series 24" Dishwasher. Stainless Steel, inside and out.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pressure is a Priviledge

It's been almost a year since I heard an interview with Billie Jean King on NPR. Short story is...Billie Jean King is a female tennis player, who in September of 1973 played against Bobby Riggs in a match that was billed as "The Battle of The Sexes". The pressure on Billie Jean was enormous. Bobby's triumph four months earlier over Women's World Tennis Champion Margaret Court in a televised match was being proclaimed as proof that men were superior to women as athletes. Held in the Astrodome, The Battle of the Sexes was a media spectacle...Bobby was escorted into the stadium by an entourage of women, Billie Jean was carried in on an Egyptian-style litter. Billie Jean HAD to win, and win well. Thirty-five years later, Billie Jean was sharing what she had learned in 1973. "Pressure is a Privilege" is the title of a book that Billie Jean King wrote reflecting on the "Battle of the Sexes". What she shared, got me to thinking...

It was in the winter of 1992 that I was first introduced to James. Oh, I'd always known he was there, tucked in between Hebrews and Peter, but most of what I'd learned from him before then dealt with the tongue. I was (o.k., AM), regularly convicted by James about my tongue (mouth) getting me into trouble. This time, the Lord, thru James, began to teach me something more.

James tell us in chapter one, verse twelve to "Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete. Not lacking anything." Testing produces perseverance, perseverance makes us mature in Christ. I don't like to hear that the God I know as benevolent, allows the yuckiness of life to touch me, and then to use it for my sandpaper gently reshaping me, or sometimes, like a chopsaw or bulldozer, radically changing my form. Through the years, I've hung on to the truth that God is producing perseverance in me. I do not think that perseverance has finished it's work, and now in my mid-thirties, I understand that I must still face many trials. I trust my Great God to continue reforming me into a more accurate image of Him.

What do my trials look like? Somedays, it's nothing more than a short temper. Others, or even for a season, it is deep grief over losing a loved one, or worry and fear over financial concerns, heartbreak over my babies. Unemployment. Coworkers. The chaotic life as a mother to 4 kiddos. Sometimes, it is "just" a weariness of the soul.

Thank you for the chaos. I trust You to use chaos to teach me discernment. Thank you for limited resources, for they cause me to lean more fully on You. Your resources are limitless. Thank you for the dry spells, They help me to remember that you alone are the living water. Thank you for the pressure. I trust You to use pressure to teach me that you continue to refine me with your Love.

At the conclusion of the interview, Ms. King was asked how her "Battle of the Sexes" had changed tennis for women. Her reply was that the "Battle of the Sexes" changed tennis. Her experience with Bobby Riggs had positive global impact for the entire sport. Likewise, our pressures, momentous or minute, have global impact. Yes, even global benefit.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Such Joy!

Well, I did it. Over the last year or so, I've had several friends suggest that I begin a blog. My typical reaction was a smile and "Hmmm, maybe. One day." Well, one day is TODAY. I was finally goaded into it by my little sister, and her excitement over her own blog ( You see, I love writing. It makes my soul sing. Marge, on the other hand is creative with her hands. She paints, scrapbooks, & cooks. When she shared with me how gratifying her blog, and more importantly, the friends she's made through it, is to her, I was compelled, and "Such Joy" was re-born.

Let me explain. A few years ago, I worked as the Executive Ministry Assistant at the (then) Waco Regional Baptist Network. One of my responsibilities was to encourage and create community among the Ministry Assistants (Church Secretaries) in the Network. I did that with what was basically a blog...a once or twice weekly email entitled "Such Joy!" For some time, I'd signed most of my emails, both personal and business, with "Such Joy" as a closing. It ("Such Joy") had become something of a philosophy of life for me.

Isaiah 61:1-3 is a passage of scripture that holds great meaning in my life. I would even say it is my "life verse" keeps me true and focused on my calling as a Christ Follower. The quote below is from the New International Version:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor."

To comfort those who mourn and bind up the brokenhearted, this is part of my calling in Christ. To do so, I must first embrace "The oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair" myself. Life is complicated...the oil of gladness and garment ("mantle" in NASB - a covering) of praise help me to properly frame the daily grind. Flat tires, kids with bad attitudes, empty bank accounts, health issues. You know, the daily grind. Like oil, gladness lubricates my days. Gladness in my position in Christ, in recognizing the abundant blessings of my life, gets me though the sticky parts of my life. The garment, the mantle, of praise covers me. Worshiping my Savior envelopes me, consumes me. It keeps me focused on Him, rather than drowning in my own despair.

Planted by the Lord,
for the display of HIS splendor.