Seasons

IMG_0317Ecclesiastes 3:1

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Turn, turn, turn. Often in parenthood you use the term “seasons” to describe the stages with a child, usually as a coping mechanism to make it through the rough phases. If I were to continue to write the rest of Ecclesiastes 3 for a parent, I might say “a time for laughs, and time for tantrums; a time for obedience, a time for defiance; a time for sleep, a time to not; a time to eat vegetables, a time to only eat cheerios.” And on, and on, and on.

We cling to this expectation in the way we come to anticipate the changing season of our year.  Just when you have had enough of one extreme or the other, that first fall leaf drops and the chill whips through the air. The smell of the first fire and a fleck of snow decorates the window. Little light green pops up on the naked trees. The sun lingers a little bit longer each night and sunscreen and chlorine and barbecues become familiar smells. Ahh…we made it, you sigh. It’s time. Another year, another season. Turn, turn, turn.

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But there is more to that verse, a part I had not remembered, but need to right now.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

“He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.”

There is NOTHING better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live.

Yes. I needed to hear this. My season right now is all over the place. The “seasons” in our house change rapidly, leaving me spent at the end of the day hardly remembering one moment to the next. This past year was very much like that. I remember being pregnant, exhausted, broken. But what doesn’t stand out were all the smiles, laughs, adventures, and re-connections. My memory keeping these days is limited to the internet, and over the last couple of years primarily through this blog. Yet, this year, I lagged WAY behind. I want to move on.  There are many more adventures ahead. But I found before I did that, I needed to remember this year.  I want to see myself happy, for isn’t that God’s gift?

I waded through countless images this afternoon (thanks to my 5 o’clock hero who sent me out of the house on my own) rediscovering so many fun memories over each season. So over the next week (finger crossed emoji), I will be sharing the seasons of the last year along with some adventures and celebrations.  I am giving everything a purpose. Putting a sense of “past” in my head so I can make room for the “future.” Because there will certainly be many more seasons of eating and drinking and taking pleasure in ALL of my work. Amen for that.IMG_0314

Happy Birthday

April 19, 2015 – 42°, We’re expecting snow tomorrow! Sunrise 6:23 a.m., Sunset 9:35 p.m.

I’m writing this on Sunday night, sweet N, as you and I are hopping a red-eye to Denver on your birthday (you’re coming along to crash siblings weekend with my brothers – can’t wait!) and I don’t want to miss your big day! As I’m writing, I’m reflecting on a year ago. J and I were preparing to cheer on Papa, from home, as he ran the Boston Marathon on Monday; you weren’t due for another 2.5 weeks. However…you had other plans! 

Happy 1st birthday N!! When we were ready to grow our family, we were excited to meet you, but we couldn’t have imagined how much joy and love you would bring to our family. You are so full of laughter and love. You roll with the punches (sometimes literally) of being the second born, and yet you are carving out your very own, unique space too. You have a cackle/chortle for a laugh and it cracks me up every time. You are affectionate. When you want to give a kiss you are not shy, and full on grab whomever by the face and plant one smack on their lips. You have an absolute fascination with eyes and noses, and I have to keep your fingernails very short – but you’ve still managed to give both Papa and I bloody noses. You are drawn to electrical outlets like, well, electricity. You are finding your voice, and it is loud; there is no question when you want something, you let it be known! Your most recent accomplishment is going down the stairs; you are so proud and stop on every step to clap for yourself. You pull up and cruise around all the furniture, but seem very happy to just continue to crawl. For the sake of summertime and being outdoors, I hope you learn to walk in the near future. Maybe you’ll eat less rocks and wood chips if your hands are not in direct contact with the ground (probably not!) You eat more than J at most meals, and use that voice of yours to alert me when your tray is empty, and wildly sign “more!”. You love to explore; indoors, outdoors, doesn’t matter – you’re on the move and into something.  The list goes on and on… We adore, and are so in love with you! It has been an amazing first year getting to know you!

Queue the flashback photos…

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And because I can’t help myself…

Eat This

Jan 20, 2015 – Sunny, 23°, Sunrise 9:45 a.m., Sunset 4:34 p.m., Total Snowfall 13.6″

First off, lets talk about this winter – the snowfall is so pitiful! We’ve had 13.6 inches fall, but with the warmer days we’ve had the snow depth is only about 4 inches. And in some sunnier part of the town, especially up in the Valley, there is actually grass showing! People are going a little crazy, everyone wants to be skiing, snowshoeing and snow machining. They’re discussing contingency plans for the Iditarod due to the lack of snow. Regardless, we have been getting out to enjoy some winter activities; J went skating for the first time, and his favorite thing to do is pull N in the sled.

But on to the reason for this post: Chili and Waffles! For Christmas M was coming off of a mid-shift, so our day itself was very low key, but I still wanted to do something special for Christmas dinner. King Arthur to the rescue, as always! The Cornmeal-Rye Waffles are a favorite, and while flipping through the recipe I noticed the note at the top: If you prefer a savory waffle, cut back on the sugar and spice them up with a bit of jalapeno, or fold in some cheese and bacon. These are also great as a base under a hearty stew-the perfect Sunday night supper. Done and done! The perfect compromise for Christmas dinner, a waffle for just waking up off a mid-shift and chili to chase away the cold. Neither recipe is out of the world unique, but the two put together…we couldn’t stop eating!

Cornmeal-Rye Waffles (This is the original recipe; for our savory dinner waffles, I cut the sugar back to 2 tablespoons, and added diced jalapenos)

3 cups (24 ounces) buttermilk

2 eggs

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick, 3 ounces) butter, melted

2 cups (9 3/4 ounces) yellow cornmeal

1 cup (3 3/4 ounces) whole rye (pumpernickel) flour

1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, blend the dry ingredients, then quickly and gently combine the wet and dry ingredients. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes to allow the cornmeal to soften. The batter will be quite thick by the time you’re ready to use it.

When your waffle iron is hot enough, drop the batter onto it and bake until the waffle iron stops steaming. These waffles are best with a crispy, brown exterior, so be sure to bake them long enough for the exterior to get quite firm. They will crisp even more as they cook, especially if they’re baked in a Belgian waffle iron.

Firecracker Chili

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained

1 cup chopped celery

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped green sweet pepper

1 to 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded (or not) and chopped

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 10 ounce can chopped tomatoes and green chili peppers

1 cup vegetable juice

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 to 4 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

In a large skillet brown the beef or turkey. Drain off fat. In a 3.5 – 5 quart slow cooker combine browned meat, beans, celery, onion, sweet pepper, and jalapeno peppers. Add undrained tomatoes, vegetable juice, tomato paste, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

Ladle onto waffles, top with cheese, enjoy!

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

Rhythm

November 2, 2014 – Cloudy, 27°, Sunrise 8:31 am, Sunset 4:55 pm

When J was first born, he was my whole world. I was finally the stay-at-home mom I had always wanted to be, and my days were filled with taking care of him and figuring out his needs. There were adjustments, as for every first time parent, but he was a pretty easy going baby. When a concern or problem would arise, he responded well to whatever solution our pediatrician gave us to try, and as a result, he was a very “on-schedule” baby. Once we got through the blur of the first few months, J ate every 4 hours, had a morning and afternoon nap and went to bed at 7:30. There was freedom in knowing his schedule, and what to expect most days.

When N was born, I figured all those early newborn days would come flooding back to me…nope! I’ve realized most of memories with J are from about 4 months on, once he was on a schedule and I could put 2 coherent thoughts together. So while I stumbled through the first few sleepless months with N, I kept dreaming of 4 months. That was when he would settle, that’s when we’d get “on schedule”…nope!

Turns out, when you already have a 3 year old running around, it’s really hard to keep a schedule for munchkin #2. During months 3 and 4 of N’s life, this caused me quite a bit of anxiety. When J was a baby I would feed him at 10, 2 and 6, almost down to the minute; with N I was constantly losing track of how long it had been since he’d last eaten. Infant J would take his nap around 10:30am and 2pm; with N everyday seemed to be different because we had playgroup, or friends to see, or errands to run. When J was born,  he truly made us a family and changed our world and our day-to-day. When N was born, he joined a family already in progress; just as loved, but there wasn’t a whole life shift this time.

Then yesterday I realized, we’ve found it. Six months in and we’ve found our rhythm. I choose rhythm deliberately because it is definitely an ebb and flow feeling, not a schedule. I can’t set my watch by it, the way I could when J was an infant, but our days now take shape with a certain pattern. The boys wake up, I get J settled with breakfast, then settle myself in with N for his morning nursing. We play for a bit, then N is ready for a morning nap. I sneak a shower, or not, while he sleeps. N wakes to nurse again and play. Maybe squeeze in an errand. Have some lunch together, then it’s time for J’s nap. I get some solo time with N, but then he’s ready for another snooze too. On really lucky days, I get an hour to myself to accomplish something…or not. Then both boys are up, ready for some nourishment again. We play and we ease towards the evening, dinner and bedtime once again. And our day to day changes frequently: night-shift, playgroup, grocery shopping, but there is an understanding now of who needs what when.

There are still (many) days of frustration, and we are blasting through stages at warp speed. (J used to be all about his privacy during potty time, now he wants to me to stay a read a story for the looooooongest potty breaks ever. I preferred the privacy stage!) But I found myself getting dressed yesterday, and realizing we’re doing this. I feel like we’ve made it over the hump, and our rhythm as a family of 4 is the norm now.

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