Tuesday Takeout and Easter Feasting

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Happy Easter, my Peeps!

 

Yup, I’m still on Easter.

I can’t get enough of it this year.  The flowers, the budding trees, the life all around…

The empty tomb.  My emptied out life – filling up, slowly, with good things.

 

 

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This Sunday was spent with some dear friends.  Sean is the soccer coach at the college where I teach; he and his lovely wife Rae make their home an oasis for his soccer players.  So many of them are from very far away, students with nowhere to go for Easter, so he invites them.  Sometimes they don’t even live so far away, but this home has become a place of love and peacefulness and family.  It is a good center for them.

 

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Rae is the ultimate soccer momma.

 

 

Hi! I'm adorable!  Happy Easter.

Hi! I’m adorable! Happy Easter.

 

And, of course, there was a lot of good food.  Did I mention we had prime rib sandwiches?  Mm. Hmmmmm. .  And two of the girls made  spinach dip from scratch that was all gooey and cheesy and just the best thing ever.  And our friend Elisheva came and brought her world’s best guacamole (along with her cute kids and husband) and I put some of it on my sandwich and the angels sang, I tell you.

And the soccer kids (one from Mexico, one from Peru) who spoke quietly and smiled a lot,  played soccer with my boys in the most adorable way.

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It was a good day – surrounded by children and sunshine and some rain, but the really cool, soft kind.  And lunch at a long table in the garage, smooshed together, laughing and being goofy.IMG_2335

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There was a time when this kind of function would make me itchy, nervous.  Social things were… outside of my element I guess. I felt ajar, like a door was left open in me somewhere, and I had to shut it.

Now, I just let the door swing wide open, and ask friends to come in, and talk, and run around with kids, and then, if tired, I can go home and take a nap.  It’s a lot simpler than I ever thought it could be.

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Now, let me leave you with the wonderfulness that is my Great Aunt Dorothy’s chocolate fudge icing recipe.

This stuff is so good it’s hard to get it on the cupcakes – eat it on graham crackers, or ‘nilla wafers, or with a spoon.  It’s divine.

And you know what? It was divine to share it with these goofballs.  What a lovely day.

 

 

 

 

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Serious talent. For reals. Kristina is pointing at my son, who is in awe of Sean.  It’s all connected, you see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aunt Dorothy’s Amazing Fudge Frosting:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3-4 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅔ cup whole milk (sometimes I use coffee and milk)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch salt, teensy pinch cinnamon (that was my addition; I hope Dorothy doesn’t mind.)
Instructions
  1. Mix sugar, cocoa powder, and milk together in a large saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until large bubbles form. Boil one minute. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Return to medium-high heat and boil for a minute or so, until it thickens. Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon until thick and smooth.
  4. Try not to eat it all before you frost the cupcakes.
This stuff is heaven spread liberally on a yellow cake and then sprinkled with toasted pecans (pronounced PEE cahns, please).  Or, just put some in a bowl and have at it.  Who needs cake?
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Monday Manuscript

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Monday Morning, Easter After.

Still celebrating.  Shouldn’t we all?  All the time?

I spent what could have been the best Easter I have had in quite  a while – more explanation of that (with too many pictures, some pool noodles, and lots of chocolate fudge icing) tomorrow!

For today – I offer this song for you.  I listen to it every morning as I run.  Every morning, ya’ll.  It fits the slap slap of my feet hitting pavement perfectly, AND -

It has the greatest chorus ever:

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, he’s alive! he’s alive!

I do have to admit – at 5:30 a.m., I have been known to run with this blasting from my earphones, arms upraised, singing along.  Especially that last line.  I do hope I didn’t scare anyone, because I am pretty sure what was coming out of my mouth was NOT a pretty sound at all.  Probably kinda sounded like a whale trying to find the key of C.  A very spiritual whale.

My version:

Oh deaaaf where is stingHUH? (gasp)

oh HELL where victUH? (gasp)

Oh Churchwoeooooflesss lightUH! (gaspgasp)

OurGODESSSSNOTDUD…HEAWIV…..HEUHWIIIIIVVVE! (ergggggasp)

All the whales in the neighborhood, can I hear an “Amen”?

Anyhow, I don’t care.  It’s 5:30 am.  If you’re up, you can deal.  I am kinda of the mind set that if anyone IS up and mucking around at that hour they won’t mind a bit of whale/Jesus music,  or he or she might need it.  I did run into (almost literally) a poor college kid coming home from the bars who was, shall we say, rather green about the gills.  (GET IT?  GETTTTT IT?  YOU SAW WHAT I DID THERE, RIGHT?)*  I sang my whale/Jesus song at him and lo, he was healed.  Or at least he walked a bit faster.  Yes!  Praise the Lord!

But I digress.

Enjoy the song – and remember:

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
We fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to him who showed great love.

You might see why I love this song so, in terms being caught and being free, and my recent post about glitter (the funny part) and alcohol (the not so funny part – although there have been many funny parts.  Many.  But that’s a post for another day.)

  Happy Easter.  Every Day.

Amen.

And Amen.

And Amen.

 

 

*Lawyer has reported in.  He says whales don’t have gills so my pun is off. He’s litigious, that one.  I still think the pun holds.  Oh well, water under the bridge.

DID YOU SEE THAT? WHAT I DID RIGHT THERE?  I DID IT AGAIN!  I KNOW,  RIGHT?

 

 

Friday is for Funny

It’s a gorgeous day. We just spent the majority of it at the park.  The birdies are singing.  Grass is green.  72 degrees.  Clouds all white and fluffy.

Currently I am eating chocolate and a stray Peep.

But dangit, if I am not in the worst mood ever.  Grumpasaurus Rex. And IRRITATED.

Grirritated.

 

Why?  No reason.  Which only makes me more mad and flustered.  Mustered. 

 

You get the idea.

So, I’m posting this.  It helped.  Especially #18 and #9.  ;)

 

 

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http://news.distractify.com/fun/humor/amazing-jokes/

Throwback Thursday: #NetflixKids and #Streamteam

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Ya’ll, look at us.  We’re tan.

Oh, and, we’re getting married.  :)

My beloved is about to delicately place cake in my mouth because I had warned him:  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO YOU TRY TO BE ALL FUNNY AND SMOOSH CAKE AT ME.  YOU WILL RUE THE DAY.  RUE IT. 

The newly acquired husband listened.  In fact, he is a pretty good listener on all sorts of things.  Even now, after alllll these years.   He even says, “Yes, dear,” to my requests without irony or sarcasm.  I am so steeped in sarcasm that I kinda think the potential for snark is constant, but nope. Not with the hubs.  He is incapable of snark. It’s WEIRD.

Anyhow, did I ever tell you that I really, really wanted Johnny Cash to be played at our wedding?  (Just stay with me here, it will all tie together in a bit, even the #NetflixKids part.)   Yes, I really did.  The sweet church lady who was helping me arrange our wedding was a bit… nonplussed by the suggestion.  So far I had hit many walls with this helpful, albeit VERY VERY VERY traditional organizer lady.  I shoulda known.   When I met her, the first thing I noted was the VERY VERY VERY impressive bee-hive hairdo, circa 1962, and the fact that she really REALLY did look a bit like this:

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Bless her heart.

 

Here’s how our meetings went:

Me:  I would like sunflowers at all the tables, and some gingham tablecloths… you know, a country wedding look!

Church lady:  Sniff.  Gingham?

Me:  Here’s a tissue.  Yes, gingham, blue checked.  Like the outfit that Mary Ann wore in Gilligan’s Island.  You know, vintage but sassy.

CL:  (Confused by my crazy tangents) Gilligan’s… What?

Me: Right!  And we’re not going to have cake.

CL:  WHAT.

Me: Nope!  We’re going to have PIE.  Pie at every table!  Pie for everyone!  YOU get a pie! and YOU get a pie!!  You know…

CL:  Now you’re doing Oprah.  That car episode hasn’t even aired yet.  Your readers are going to get even more confused.  And pie is tacky.

Me:  Ok.  So we’ll have cake too.  I know, someone has to cut cake and we eat it and everyone takes pictures and if you do that with blueberry pie it might stain my dress.  I get it.

CL:  I’m still confused about the Mary Ann thing.

Me:  BUT.  This is important.  I want Johnny Cash to be played when we come down the aisle.

CL:  (No response, but the light is glinting off her glasses and she kinda looks like she’s about to explode.)

Me:  Please?

CL:  Johnny… CASH?

Me:  RIGHT!  That’s what HE said:  You know, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash“!  That’s the ticket!

CL: No.

Me: Please????

CL: NO.

Me:  “Ring of Fire”?

CL:  (strangled noises)

Me:  “Jackson”???

CL:  And the beehive just exploded.

 

Anyhow…  What really transpired is a nice collection of hymns that dear Mr. Cash sang for us as we waltzed down the aisle.  No “We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout” for us.  This is probably for the best, since the song doesn’t exactly describe wedded bliss.

Sigh. But it would have been cool.

 

Yes, you say, that’s all cute and stuff.  But how in the heck does this at all connect to #NetflixKids?

 

Because, dear readers, I just found this throwback gem the other day:

 

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JOHNNY CASH WAS ON SESAME STREET, YA’LL.

 

In honor of Throwback Thursday, I was dialing up some Classic Sesame Street episodes, looking for my favorite Bill Cosby moments when I found… THE MAN IN BLACK.

I haven’t been this excited since I found out Jack Nicholson was on The Andy Griffith Show not once, but TWICE.  (I’m not kidding, you can look it up.)

 

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Cuddle up with all the classics: Bill Cosby, Madeleine Kahn, Lena Horne, and so many other time-honored moments. My boys love them, as do I!  I am, after all, getting close to being classified as vintage.

 

And, in true #TBT fashion, enjoy:

 

 

Pass the Glitter and My Messy Beautiful

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There is glitter in my biscuits. I realize this sounds like Southern code for some sort of personality disorder, but actually, there really IS speckles of glitter in my biscuit dough. There is also glitter on the cat, and I am pretty sure I spotted some in the commode earlier.  I didn’t investigate too closely on that one.

My life is messy. But, if one is going to for mess, at least glitter is festive-messy. Mess with flair.

There was a time when this glitter incident would have sent me spinning. I think we could safely say that time was yesterday, sometime around 5 pm.

But I have evolved a lot since then.
Glennon Melton,  author of Carry on Warrior, wants me to tell my story. Glennon is a kindred spirit (I am pretty sure every woman who has read her book has decided that she is a BESTIE of BESTEST qualifications because the woman knows how to speak to our hearts.  And she has serious spunk.  We love moms with spunk, because we can latch on to the spunky.  Spunk spreads.)

Anyhow, when I was asked to add a post to her “My Messy Beautiful Project” about my story, my initial response was, “Well, that should be easy!  That’s what all my posts are – a bit of my life for all to see.”
And then I tried to write this post.
And then I realized I haven’t really shared my story with anyone.

Here’s why:  My story?  It’s not 100% solid funny.  It’s like when you get a chocolate Easter bunny and take a gnaw at it just to find it’s mostly air.  Major bunny letdown.

However, I promised Glennon and … she is really sweet and all, but you never know.  She could be a lunatic about broken promises.

Plus she’s all about us being brave and courageous.

Even when we’re not.

So here goes.

  My Hollow Bunny, Not All Funny, Story:

My brother died. It’s been over two months now, but still, I am saying this to myself because I forget. Or I remember all day. This might be some sort of party foul – the dead brother card can only be used for one month and then it expires, and then you are politely asked to sit on the bench and think about unicorns and bunnies. And perhaps, glitter.

But, you see, I miss him. I miss that he doesn’t answer the phone when I call my dad’s office. I miss his voice. I miss how he would call me “Snagglepuss” and how he seemed so Big and Big Brotherish. In a good, non-1984 way.

And I just miss him.

He died because he couldn’t stop drinking.  He took his liver past its point of “I’ll heal if you will please stop.”   He just kept going from there. And I can’t for the life of me understand how he could do it.

Except,  every day at  about 5 pm.
Because there is catch.

I am an alcoholic.

No – I don’t drink too much sometimes, or have a problem with drinking, or need to cut back, or have issues, or sometimes seem to party just a little too hard. 
I am a straight up, no chaser, strong and no ice, please, alcoholic.
Just like my brother.

That is the story I have not given you, for all these posts for all these months. It’s the hollow part. I am working on filling it.

When I first stopped drinking, I filled it with prayer about every 20 seconds, and a lot of tears, and non stop whining, and numerous meetings with other people like me, and endless bags of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.

Just so you know, those peanut butter cups have completely restorative powers.  Eat one, read the 23rd psalm, and you will have a spiritual experience, I promise. Jesus would totally approve.  In fact, I am pretty sure He was in charge of creating them.  I would totally contact Reese’s and tell ‘em they should sponsor all alcoholics everywhere,  but for some reason I am thinking they might not embrace that as a new advertising platform.:

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In my case, no bar. Ha ha ha.  Just a little recovery humor for you.

 

And now, almost two years later, I fill my hollow with prayer about every 39 seconds, and some tears, but tears that wash away pain and rough edges.   And yes,  I still snarf too many of those Reese’s cups.   The Easter egg ones are out, and if you eat one while you read Matthew 28, you WILL transcend a bit. I tell you. At least long enough before one of your toddlers comes and pushes his jelly-breath up against your face and bleats, “What eatin? Can I have sum?”

Share your Reese’s. It’s What Jesus Would Do.
I started drinking in the least imaginative way possible – in college. I partied, but I also loved school, did well, and had, I thought, a “handle” on the drinking. “I am smarter than this,” I thought. “I got straight A’s, even in chemistry. I got this.” And on it went.  Drinking gave me a kind of magic shell that I could wear that would frost over all the sharp edges I felt.

But there were red flags, hiccups on the way, about the booze. In my twenties, my sweet roommate once came home to me, a nearly empty bottle of wine, and the clacking T.V.  “Why are you drinking alone?” she asked amazed. “That’s not healthy.  You know that, don’t you?”

I don’t remember my answer, but I filed her comment away. And for twenty some years I would pull it out and think about what she said, then put it away, and continue working steadily on my relationship with alcohol.  Recently, I gave her a call and thanked her.  Long ago she spoke up and I listened.  I’m slow, but I finally listened.

My affair with alcohol  hit its lowest point when I had children. And this is a common story, I think, amongst moms. The monotony, the chaos, the mess – a glass of wine smoothed all that out and tucked my babies in just fine.
Until, of course, it didn’t anymore. And I was trapped.

So now, here I am. But I am no longer a hollow bunny. In fact, I am no longer a confection at all. I am a follower of Jesus. I am a wife. A mom. A daughter. A sister. A friend. I go to sleep at night and say, “Thank you for this day.” I wake up, and ask, “Please.”  I could try to tell you, in this one post, the hows and whys of why I drank too much and who I am now that I don’t drink at all, but it would be a book, ya’ll.  A HUGE book, like, Gone With the Wind huge, – a lot of drama, and a lot of petulant behavior, and a lot of hurt, without the foo-foo dresses.  I do think, at some point, I did shout, “As God is my witness, I will never drink boxed wine again!” There was real recovery there.   And hard truth.  But no southern accent.

In short, I drank too much because I had one hell of a civil war going on inside my own head.  I didn’t like me, but I also thought I was the most important person to breathe air.  That kind of crazy stuff.  I couldn’t ever get over wanting more of everything.  To fill up the less-ness that was my dried-out soul.  I didn’t want to walk around inside of me anymore.  Vodka fixed that.  For a while.  I had hooked myself up to an IV of constant numb.  And so I lived my coma-life, for years and years.

But mainly?  I drank too much because I am an alcoholic.

The broken things in me are mending.  Sometimes I have to sit with pain a lot longer than I think is nice.  But, I sit with it now.  Sometimes I feel other things like anger, or intense irritation, or even, joy.  I slowly click through feelings and I actually survive.  Even when I miss my brother.

The most when I miss my brother.

And so, now, when my life becomes messy and chaotic or there’s a glitter tsunami, and something inside me starts ticking, ticking, I can do two things:

1. Rage against the glitter.

2. Laugh. And use the cat as a duster.

For right now, I am having some tea and slathering some butter on my shiny biscuit.  I should start a rockabilly band called The Glitter Biscuits. I can thwack a mean tambourine, and I can sing really, really loud, with no concept of key.  It will be epic.

Why in the world I waited until I was 45 to face this, I don’t know.  But when I look back at the canyon of my past, I don’t feel sorry.  I take a deep breath and shout at it.  Know why?  I get an echo back, and the echo roars that I am here, on the other side, with a big fat voice.   When I look back at that sad and empty landscape, I can only shout and wait to hear back:

“ I AM STILL HERE.”

 

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This is for my sons. They will read it one day and tell me sorry about the glitter. And I will tell them sorry about the drinking.

 

 

Today’s post and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — a project created by Glennon Doyle Melton to help us lean in, learn a little, lift each other, and even cherish the messes we make.   It’s an awesome responsibility, to embrace this”brutiful” life, and it is an honor to post as a part of this project.  I have learned a lot from Glennon’s writing, about courage and voice, no matter what the odds, and I thank her for that.

The New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life,  is just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

 

 

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Tuesday Takeout and it really, really is the thought that counts.

Today is my Red’s birthday.  Here he is:

 

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And here’s the cake:

 

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First of all – it would be nice if I could offer up Blonde as the decorator of the cake.  I am willing to throw a toddler under the cake decorating bus for the sake of pride.  But… alas no.  I’m just driving my very own, very special, sad little cake bus.

And yes, I know it’s pink.  And it’s for Red, and he’s a boy.  And it kinda looks like a pink slug trail, albeit more tasty.

And I know, I didn’t properly line the plate with waxed paper re Martha’s directions.  Actually, I DID, and was super proud of myself.  But then I allowed the frosting to set too much in the ‘fridge and so when I removed the paper (not nearly as delicately as Queen Martha would instruct) and so I ended making more of a mess.  WONDERFUL.

 

It’s ok.  Red won’t care.  The cake is chocolate.  It will have candles.  There will be hats and balloons.  That’s all a toddler needs.

 

And earlier today this was overheard:

Blonde:  Did ya know today was your birthday Red?

Red: Yep!  Yeeeep!

Blonde:  Yep!  You were bornded on DIS day!

Red:  I, Yep!  Yep!  (very verbal, I swear.  Just too much frosting for lunch.)

Blonde: Uh huh!  It was a special day!  Dat’s what mommy says.

Momsie:  smiles with pride.  Dis is (ahem) This is so cute.

Blonde:  Yep.  It was dis day that dey took a knife and CUT YOU OUT OF MOMMY’S STOMACH.  And den dey PULLED YOU RIGHT OUTTA DER!

 

This is a PSA announcement, basically, for all of you who are married to engineers who feel it is very necessary to explain EVERYTHING that a toddler asks about, including birth and c-sections and all that.  Thank you so much, hubs, for paying for our therapy.

 

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Five Minute Friday

 

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Writing over with Lisa-Jo Baker at the Five Minute Friday Community today.

Rules:  no self editing (hard), no thinking (not so hard), five minutes, WRITE, GO!

 

Today’s theme:  PAINT

 

“Can we paint?”  is a daily question.  Two boys, paint everywhere, solid blues and reds and purples everywhere. On boys, on table, on floor.  On paper, yes.

On the cat.

I wipe at it and the paint smears, a deep grape, and I stand and look for a minute -

And actually stop cleaning for a minute-

And give myself a break for a minute -

And consider for just a minute -

My painting.

 

 

One day at a time, we can paint what we like.  My boys know this.  They paint wide and large and bright and ignore rules.

I paint small and tight and black and white and add rules to the list as I tentatively proceed:

Don’t make a mess

Don’t go for risk.

Don’t ask why.

Don’t mix the colors.

and most of all:

  Don’t do this for too long. 

 

We know this lesson, all mothers do.  We know it because our older moms tell us. Because we read it and we are reminded of it.  We know it.  But yet how often we must be reminded.  The art class begins over and over.  The reminders do too.  Praise God.

It is amazing how much a 5 year old can teach his mom.  He is the greatest art teacher I have ever had.  Simply because he understands a little better how the Artist wants us to hold a paintbrush.

Every day of our life.

 

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