Saturday, January 17, 2009

just bee yourself

sambo did it again.  he is a finalist for the 7th grade spelling and geography bee!  he's been in both for years now, usually making it to the top 5.  he was completely robbed of a spelling bee win a few years back, when the kids on either side of him got the words "commando" and "sargeant" and he got some ridiculous word i can't even remember.  anyone who knows sam, knows he can spell military related terminology like a pro.  oh well.  so, we'll let you know the outcome of the final bee.  but it doesn't matter really.  we're just so thrilled that he's one of those kids who's naturally interested and interesting.  he's actually a joy to be around (most of the time). hysterically funny with a side of intelligence and wit.  one morning, as he sat eating breakfast before school, he asked me if i thought the paratroopers should have landed in berlin during wwII. i laughed and said i'd never really thought about it. he then went into a 20 minute dissertation about why they didn't and that it had probably been the right decision.  he could be the world's most talented military strategist.  but he might need to start remembering his math book first.

Friday, January 16, 2009

spoon bread

i was supposed to be southern.  honestly, i have some kind of ridiculous fascination with sweet tea and locusts and willows and hospitality and evidently, spoon bread.  last year, the parent zone group from church got together at vickie's house and i was assigned a side dish.  i was going for something easy and inexpensive that could feed a small army, so creamy corn casserole was it.  a tried and true recipe that fit the bill and is always sure to get several recipe requests.  

to my delight, greg told me i had made spoon bread.  really?!  you mean my internal southern woman instinctively picked out a quintessential southern recipe to make?  and i made it well enough for a u.t. guy to compliment my efforts?  i was speechless, humbled i tell you.

the other day while on a walk this song came on my walk-man.  yes, i said walk-man.  made me smile at the thought of my internal southern woman from the midwest living in the west.  don't we all adopt little parts of ourselves along the way?  maybe i should start naming them. 

creamy corn casserole (spoon bread)

1/2 c. butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 (8.5 oz.) package corn bread mix (jiffy)
1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14.75 oz.) can creamed corn
1 c. sour cream

preheat oven to 350.  mix it all up, throw it in a 9 x 13 and bake until golden.  about 45 minutes.  which is just enough time for a glass of sweet tea on the front porch to watch the willows bend in the breeze and hear the sound of the locusts doing their thing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


berber carpeting and pine needles are a horrible combination.  they sliver into the very top layer, where they're still visible and yet impossible to vacuum up.  i can honestly say that i have become a firm believer in...gasp...the faux pre-lit christmas tree.

this year was to be the first year.  the family would trek up to the pike's peak national forest and cut down our first colorado christmas tree.  now, some folks tried to dissuade us, some laughed in our faces, some called them charlie brown trees, but we would not be derailed from our long time holiday tradition made new here. back in illinois, we would drive to plainfield to andersons' tree farm, hop a golf cart out to the fields, pick our tree, take the annual picture before the sawing commenced and hop back on the cart to a warm, building for cocoa and popcorn.  let's just say, these niceties are not exactly present in the national forest.

we drove up into the mountains on the first saturday in december.  the paper said to stop at a local middle school parking lot to obtain our $10 license for the tree.  already, we were smiling glibly thinking we had avoided the $60 a tree conspiracy of "those people".  the rangers said to expect to drive quite a ways, as many of the trees were already picked over.  after shaking hands with smokey the bear and receiving a stack of fire prevention materials, we got back in our non-4-wheel drive minivan and wound our way up and into the national forest.

we pulled off a few miles up the road and thought we'd find at least one doable tree, without traveling for hours.  we all piled out of the van, bundled up for the higher elevation and set off.  sam and ethan bounded down into a ravine, with olivia not far behind, reenacting bastogne.  audrey, evelyn and i carefully stepped around stumps and fallen trees, listening to the snow crunch under our feet and enjoying our bambi-like forest experience at least for the first few minutes.  after the long ride, evelyn had to eat so i found a log to perch on, while audrey explored.  i had that laura ingalls wilder feeling, all earthy and simple and settler-ish, that is until the quiet moved in.  marcus and the kids wandered farther and farther looking for "the" tree, while i just sat and thought about how little audrey was and the enormity of this forest. with every twig snapping i looked around for some kind of predator (okay a mountain lion) picturing the headline "nursing mother eaten by a mountain lion/toddler lost during family christmas tradition."

soon, i heard whooping and hollering and assumed they had found our tree.  then the echos of our tried and true old red handsaw.  when i finished feeding ev, audrey and i wandered down the ravine to catch up with the group and to see my husband the lumberjack sawing down a 100 foot tree.  needless to say, there was not one 6ft. or 7 ft. tree anywhere and they decided to "top" a seqouia.  (THE DIRECTIONS FROM THE RANGER CLEARLY SAY NOT TO TOP A TREE.  THESE DIRECTIONS WERE NICE AND WARM IN THE MINIVAN).  at this point, my toes were getting cold, audrey was falling over a tree stump or fallen log about every 15 seconds, the boys were wandering even farther away and olivia was already asking for hot chocolate.  i decided to take the girls back up to the van, just as evelyn started screaming.

i turned the van on, got the heat going, let the girls roam free in the van, changed a poopy diaper and waited.  after four or five christmas carols on the radio, we saw the boys coming up the hill with marcus right behind them.  without the tree.  seeing the tired and disappointed looks on all of their faces, i rolled the window down to hear "the saw broke".  no replacement blade, no golf cart, no warm building to return to, no popcorn, no hot chocolate.

it was a quiet ride home.  olivia cried and asked if we were ever going to get a tree, thankfully audrey and evelyn fell asleep, and the boys slumped down in their seats feeling the defeat of nature versus man.  marcus, exhausted from his first serious logging experience, just drove.  i sat in the passenger seat, pondering a pre-lit fake tree and pre-meditating a trip to hobby lobby.  

a week later and in the midst of school parties and last minute to do lists, the dreams of another drive up into the mountains were dashed.  so, after having burgers and shakes at a 50's restaurant, we bought the biggest, fullest tree we've ever had (requiring a trip to the store for a new stand) for $50 from a boy scout troop in an arby's parking lot.  yes, to my husband's dismay we became "those people".  he is already preparing for next's years trek back up to the national forest.  he's busy making mental notes of all the supplies and reinforcements we'll need and planning for different scenarios.  so, the tree of 2008 was a learning experience.  but we were still together as a family hunting conifers, which is all that matters. maybe we didn't establish our new colorado tradition, but it certainly was a memorable one. that is, until 2009...

Saturday, January 3, 2009


i love buying a new family planner every year.  while i'm out getting school supplies, i'll step away from the kids and escape to page through them in search of the perfect one.  it has to have big squares for each day of the week where i can cram my oversized penmanship in several different colors, trying to keep track of seven different schedules, appointments and important reminders.  it becomes a sort of journal in and of itself, a map of our days, from january to december.  actually, i've started keeping our planners, as a permanent reminder of all the monumental and minute events that have taken place in our lives that year.  i'm not sure we'd remember half of what happens without the planner.  even a small note can jostle a big memory.  

this past year was especially remarkable for us, both with a cross country move and a new baby.  while i was reflecting on how to share our year with you, i thought i wish i could just copy our planner! well, i didn't exactly copy it or even include everything.  but i included just enough to give you a glimpse of our daily rhythm, which is more like a marching band than a single drum beat.  here are some of the entries big and small from our family planner for 2008:

january 2nd:  closing for westchester house.
january 4th:  closing for colorado springs house.
january 13th:  cheyenne mountain zoo.
january 17th:  souled out (youth group for sam) 7 p.m.
january 31st:  baseball sign-up for ethan 5-8 p.m. 

february 13th:  ethan to dr. lydiatt for spacer 3:30.
february 25th:  first day of school.
february 26th:  we lost miss vickie.
february 28th:  leave for IL.

march 1st:  marcus and kids to monarch skiing.
march 2nd:  home from IL.
march 7th-9th:  sam church winter camp.
march 14th:  family carnival night at school.
march 19th:  12:45 o.b. appt.
march 22nd:  nephew jacob born.
march 24th:  spring break.  
march 28th:  dentist for marcus, sam and ethan 10 a.m.
march 29th:  marcus' birthday.

april 4th:  art walk in old colorado city.
april 5th:  ethan's first baseball game.
april 6th:  baseball.
april 8th:  baseball.
april 11th:  baseball.
april 12th:  baseball.
april 14th:  yep, baseball (you get the idea).
april 24th:  9:45 o.b. appt.

may 2nd:  baseball.
may 3rd:  lunch with Sandor and Faith.
may 4th:  olivia to birthday party 2 p.m.
may 5th:  ethan reading evaluation.
may 6th:  olivia reading evaluation.
may 15th-20th:  marcus to CA for lindsay's graduation.
may 16th:  ethan field day
may 17th:  olivia to birthday party 12:30.
may 22nd:  ultrasound 11 a.m.
may 28th:  last day of school.
may 30th-june 8th:  grandma's here!

june 9th:  fingerprints of god camp 8:40 a.m.
june 11th:  lauren-palooza (my birthday).
june 17th:  1:30 o.b. appt.
june 19th-22nd:  visit chelsea and family in IL.
june 23rd-27th:  vacation bible school.
june 30th:  aunt hoodoo here!

july 3rd:  audrey's 2nd birthday cookout.
july 4th:  parade in monument.
july 8th:  our anniversary.
july 15th:  ultrasound 10:15 a.m.
july 17th:  piano lessons 3:30 p.m. (every thursday)
july 22nd-26th:  kate and girls here!
july 25th:  barb and cassie overnight!
july 26th:  block party.
july 30th:  donovan's 3rd birthday 3 p.m.

august 2nd:  sam 5k 8 a.m.
august 5th:  sam dentist 9 a.m.
august 7th:  olivia swallowed a marble.
august 11th:  greg and the kids here!
august 14th:  ethan's first day.
august 15th:  sam's first day.
august 16th:  olivia's 6th birthday.
august 18th:  o.b. appt. 1 p.m.
august 22nd:  olivia's first day of school.
august 30th:  art fest in manitou.

september 3rd:  o.b. appt. 10:45.
september 4th:  band outing to ute valley park.
september 5th:  picture day.
september 10th:  cub scouts for ethan 6 p.m.
september 15th:  pack meeting 6:30 p.m.
september 17th:  o.b. appt. 11:15 a.m.
september 18th:  marlen here for lunch, sam small group.
september 20th:  michelle's due date.
september 21st:  ethan to archery with cub scouts.
september 22nd:  race night for landsharks.
september 23rd:  sam's 13th birthday, pack meeting.
september 24th:  baby shower for us at breaux's.
september 25th:  sam cross country meet, cub scouts.
september 28th:  ethan to birthday party 1 p.m.

october 4th:  cub scouts 2 p.m.
october 6th:  sam wrestling.
october 8th:  mother goose day olivia.
october 10th:  due date, end of first quarter.
october 13th-17th:  fall break.
october 16th:  evelyn is born at 6:16 a.m.
october 17th:  grandma here, cub scouts 7 p.m.
october 18th:  work day at fort carson 8:30 a.m.
october 23rd:  starfield concert 7 p.m.
october 24th:  audrey storytime 10:30, trunk or treat.
october 31st:  auntie pam here!  halloween.

november 2nd:  grandma leaves.
november 4th:  band concert 6:30 p.m.
november 7th:  ethan's 8th birthday!
november 8th:  veteran's day parade 10 a.m.
november 11th:  wrestling meet for sam.
november 13th:  wrestling meet.
november 14th-16th:  sam to denver for dare to share.
november 17th:  evelyn to dr. bower 2 p.m.
november 20th:  check up with o.b. 11 a.m.
november 21st:  olivia's thanksgiving program 2 p.m.
november 22nd:  olivia to birthday party 1 p.m.
november 24th:  thanksgiving break, aunt lindsay here!
november 26th:  ethan to dr. lydiatt tooth pulled.
november 26th-30th:  all here for thanksgiving!

december 4th:  parents to youth group with sam.
december 6th:  scouts caroling.
december 10th:  scout xmas party, olivia see play with liz.
december 11th:  "scrooge" at church 7 p.m.
december 13th:  ethan party 11:30-2, olivia 12:00-2:00.
december 16th:  band concert 7 p.m.
december 18th:  ethan christmas party 2:30.
december 19th:  olivia christmas party 2:00.
december 22nd-27th:  aunt hoodoo here!
december 23rd:  to manitou with hoodoo.

a new crisp black planner sits in front of me.  it's pages are empty, but filling up quickly as fliers and reminders and current school calendars come home.  in between all of these appointments and activities and celebrations we're making countless trips to the grocery store, planning menus, bandaid applications, loads of dishes in and out of dishwasher at least twice a day, referee-ing sibling rivalries, overseeing a two year old with play-doh, mom's taxi trips to friends' houses, monitoring online activity, clipping coupons, nursing 8 times a day, packing lunches, feeding the cat, doling out chores, planning school projects, cleaning out the car.  busy.  we're just so, so busy.  and, somewhere in these days, we've made the good stuff a priority.  we've vowed to keep these things first:  loving each other, laughing together, grieving together, having real conversations, becoming experts at the art of discipline (of self and others:), using teachable life moments, experiencing life moment by moment, that is when it doesn't seem to be flying by. 

marcus and i hope that your new year is filled with love.  in all your moments.  well, maybe that's not very realistic at the dentist's office.  but in between all the other stuff.  may God bless you and find you in all of your busy-ness.  vickie used to tell me to stop trying to run ahead of God.  if you knew her, you'd know that she moved at lightening speed.  but never without the ability to sit down and listen and be in the moment.  she'd take her reading glasses off, fold them in her hand and be in the moment.  may we all learn to take off our glasses to really see this year. 

"be still and know that i am."