Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Comf

I recently brought up a difficult topic with Grey: His "Comf"...

This kid has been all about creature comforts since day one. And probably somewhere around that first day of his life, he decided that our 2-3 year old queen size white goose down duvet was the comfiest. This presented a real problem on going - because of babysitting extra kids, he napped in our bed - and then it eventually became very difficult to keep him out of our bed at all. When he was 15-18months, he'd join us every night. After multiple lectures and disciplines, he changed his tactic. He'd just come in and steal our duvet. Right off of us in the middle of the night. It wasn't sleeping with us that was the main appeal. It was our duvet.
Sometimes he couldn't even wait for a midnight attack. He'd sneak in and grab it right after being put down - when we were pretending not to notice in the livingroom. It was hilarious to watch him, and astonishing, because this is a queen sized, and perhaps oversized queen, goose down duvet - it's HEAVY. Like, really, really heavy. Not to mention HUGE. And that chubby little baby, who we'd eventually refer to as the Blanket Ninja, could pull it off our very tall bed, wad it up, and carry it to his room - it was definitely twice his size, and weight 😂. We tried in vain to keep him from it, we really did, but he loved it because it was "so comf" (his toddler shortform of comfy).

What made us laugh too, was that the Blanket Ninja's strength only seemed to appear at night. He could stealthily move that massive Comf all over the place under cloak of darkness, but come daylight, and he'd tug at it in a "fake show of force" kind of way, and collapse. "Too heavy!" So during the day, it was Mommy's job to return the comf to it's rightful place (on her own bed).
(Yes, he'd just been LICKING a handrail to the subway, in NEW YORK CITY. My pic almost caught it! Thankfully it wasn't a video, because then I noticed what he was doing and yelled STOP LICKING THAT! Kids. Seriously. KIDS!)
One day, after seeing chubby baby, carrying a more than twice his size blanket ball of Comf "secretly" through the hall to his own bed, Daddy had ultimate pitty over the boy and much to Mommy's mouth-gaping, head nodding "no!" dismay - He said "You really like my Comf, don't you" "yeth" "What if you keep it, and I find another blanket" "okay!". And that was the end of the blanket wars. While we scrambled to go buy something else to sleep with, it ended up ok because at least we got to keep it all night 😂

The Comf has been well used. In fact, now that it's around 10 years old (!!!), it's more like a dingy beige, and it's started to run thread bare in places, and feathers come out. I've had to patch it now 3 times. Upon the last patching, I brought up the delicate subject...

Mom: Would it be ok if we bought you a new Comf? It could be just like this one, only new
Grey, casually: Oh, sure. That's fine. As long as it's comfy and cold
Mom: It can even be white!
Grey: Yah, ok. I mean, but we're still keeping this one
Mom: We...we are?
Grey, in an "of course" matter of fact tone: Yah. I could use the new one sometimes, maybe I could keep this one in my closet and only use it some of the time.
Mom: Ohhhh, welllll...
Grey: I mean, maybe like, on my birthday, I'll use this one or something. But we have to keep it, you know, for the memories

Naturally - the memories. Of a chubby little boy toting around a queen sized duvet. 💙

My only thought is of storing having 2 unwieldy blankets, but, I guess we can just be glad we didn't have a King.

(all pics are from the 15-24 month range, except the last few, taken last night. I got to thinking that maybe we don't have any pics of him, and his Comf. So I took some for "the memories")

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Highlights of 2017

As Kenna recently said, "isn't it weird how 2017 just flew by when 2016 stuck like glue?" Uh, yeah, it felt that way to me too! Here are just a few of the notables that come to mind from 2017.

Jan - I finally consented (after constant badgering from Brian), to get a puppy. (We still have our 3 cats). We started looking for either German Shepherds, or Norfolk or Cairn Terriers. I was a fan of small, Brian always likes Shepherds. The year started out slow, but good. Then it started gaining traction...

Feb - We told the kids we'd start looking for a puppy. They were beyond thrilled. We found a few litters locally and went to look at them - we found the one we wanted and paid the deposit. Naming the dog became Mom's job because the kids had *terrible* ideas, including Tiramisu (Terry for short), and the typical Brownie etc type of dog name. Front runners from Mom included Nash, Solomon, Gideon, Justus, Samson & Ranger.

Mar - We brought home our little baby puppy Solomon Justus. The kids played baseball, and Brooks is now old enough for kid-pitch instead of coach-pitch. He usually played first or 3rd, and was the backup pitcher. Kenna played on a girls softball team, and Grey did coach pitch for the first time! Solomon loved coming to the games and practices with us.

April - I started working at the Woodard Group (Brian's company) one day a week. Super fun. Basically just getting familiar with the environment and doing odd projects for Brian. I will eventually be there full time, but waiting on timing for a few things to fall into place first. It's now been a year since Brian scaled back his weekly hours and involvement in the company (by about HALF!), and it's been a really nice and much needed change for our family. We are all enjoying our "new normal" and having evening and weekends together.

May - I can't actually remember anything significant occurring in May. I think it was just a normal month with school, music, baseball, and me working p/t. Ann's husband Jake came to town, so we did a lot of "family nights" until he left in Aug (with Dale & Lauren too). (His visa for Belgium was messed up and he was waiting on a new one, so Ann was in Belgium, he was not). Our renters at Hugo gave their 30 day notice...

Jun - Jun 1 arrives, and the renters are gone...but they left everything! They do not respond to my calls or texts, and I have no idea where they went to...I ended up throwing out a ton of stuff, and selling a 40+gal fish tank on Craigslist, as well as their mission style table and chairs...but they left a Harley Davidson! I was sure they'd come back for that eventually. We traveled to DC with Dale & Lauren for a U2 concert (bucket list item for Brian). The kids and I didn't go to the concert, but it was a really fun trip! We finished up with May-May, she will go to Kindergarten in Sept, so we'll have no Extra Kids in the house for the first time since 2007! The kids did worship camp again, and I worked while they were there.

Jul - our yearly trip to Ontario! This year one of my sisters (Jillaine) from SK came out too, and that was fun! We always have a good time with our cousins and extended family there. My sister is a great host - the kids naturally want to live with her, and eat her cooking year-round;-) We had a few surprises this month that kind of put us to the test, and affirmed our faith yet again - He is God, I am not, His ways are not mine, He is good in all things.

Aug - we went and saw Goo Goo Dolls in concert (with Philip Philips). And on the last day of August, Solomon got hit by a car. A huge F150, actually, and almost died. As a result of that, he continues to recover with a limp in his front left leg from damaged nerves.
That same day the dog was hit, Brooks got to go down on the field with the Norfolk Tides (our local triple A team) because his baseball team won 1st in their league in the Spring. Lauren and Dale saved the day by taking the kids to the game, so Brooks could go line up on the field with the players for the anthem. Brian and I sadly had to miss it, because we were stuck at the vet hospital from 3:30pm to 10pm:-(

Sept - We started a new school year, and a brand new curriculum - online video school for all! We've started making slow preparations for my going back to work. Even though it's not "right now" we want everything to be in place for a smooth transition. The Harley is still at the rental house, and there is no word from the renters. I went into DMV to tell my story and see what could be done about this. I got started with the abandoned vehicle process.

Oct - Working out the "kinks" in the new curriculum pretty much took up all of Sept and Oct. Daily timed tests, learning to use computers and learning to type etc. It was a pretty big learning curve for the kids, but they started getting a handle on it, and really liking it, in Oct!

Nov - We learned that my sister Janessa was engaged, and getting married in Dec! We went and saw comedian John Crist perform stand up, locally (very funny). We traveled to NY and spent Thanksgiving there with Brian's family (and brought the dog), it was a really fun trip!!

Dec - The abandoned vehicle process is now complete, and I have a Road King Classic Harley Davidson in my name!! We're going to try to sell it! The kids got to go to Busch Garden Christmas Town with Dale and Lauren for the second time, and they loved it (Grey was tall enough to go on the rides this time). I sang in the church's Christmas concert, which was so so fun! We hosted Christmas this year at our house, and then I left for SK on a whirlwind trip there-and-back for the wedding. I got to be a bridesmaid for the first time since Lauryn's wedding in 2008. Basically, I felt old, HAHA. And cold. Because it was about -30something the whole time I was there :-) Brian and I rang in the New Year in his car, waiting on my suitcase to show up in baggage claim. He brought roses, chocolates, and a bottle of sparkling cranberry, and it was the perfect end to a very busy and crazy year!!

2018 started out with a BANG - Winter Storm Grayson knocked out our area for a loop. Lots of snow days and time off so far!

Healing Balm

2T organic beeswax (buying pellets instead of 1oz bars making this easier to measure)
2T coconut oil (cold pressed, unrefined)
1T raw unfilted shea butter
1/4C jojoba oil
15 drops frankincense
25 drops lavender
15 drops helichrysum
20 drops tea tree

Melt beeswax in a double boiler, then add all except EO's. Let cool a bit (cooler, but still liquid), add EO's, and pour into "lip gloss" containers (Amazon).

This balm is *amazing* for healing skin issues of any kind - dry, rough patches, soften callouses, cracked or dry lips, even acne spot, hang nail or cuticle issues, or dry hands. Good for literally everything!! Could even put it in a little 'pot' kind of container, but I love the squeeze and go portability of this kind of container.

I think this recipe filled about 10 of this size container. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Throwback Thursday

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?! 😱 Sometimes looking back through the years is a little scary, right?!😂

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Family Video 2017

We had our pictures taken again this year, of course! It really is one of my favourite parts of the year. It's fun to coordinate wardrobes and scout a good location. As always, I like to try and vary my photographer, if possible. I love pictures so much, and they are a form of art - each artist has his own take on it, and I like that personality to be a little different, if I have that option available to me, and this year, I did!! Luke Rieke took our pictures this year, and he's quite talented. He is our former pastor's son, and was in youth group when Brian was the youth pastor there. We decided on a downtown Norfolk scene - and I think it suits us. I adore city shoots. Anyway, enjoy our pics with a little walk down memory lane - because I know we're all thinking, how did these kids get so big?!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Chicken Lombardy - Recipe

Every once in awhile you see a facebook video on how to make something. And it looks SO delicious you just have to try it. And when you do, #winning, it's ah-may-zing! That's how we feel about this spectacular dish, which tastes like something you might order in a restaurant. The official recipe I used is here. But it's a little "fussy" as written. I'll put ingredients here with my own "how to", and if you know how to cook, you're good to go. Perhaps if you don't know how to cook you need more step by step, but I'm saving you time, and not altering the outcome, so you should love me, if you don't already that is;-) This is perhaps our very very favourite dish, currently!

(I double this recipe for our family, and we have a serving or two left over - it's excellent reheated)

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts - cut thin (butterfly if thick), and pound between wax paper or similar
1/3 C butter divided (2 T approx for mushrooms, rest for cooking chicken)
1/2 C flour
8 oz sliced mushrooms - canned is ok in a pinch, but trust me, fresh makes all the difference here! If using canned, use liquid, don't drain it
3/4 C Marsala wine
1/2 C chicken stock
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 C shredded mozzarella (shredding it yourself instead of pre-shredded really does make a difference)
1/2 C parmesan cheese ("real grated" instead of the 'for spaghetti' kind really makes it great, but can use either)
green onions (optional, but nice)

Dredge the chicken in flour, and pan fry in butter (or olive oil), flipping for even cooking, until done (but not over-done). If you have two large pans, when chicken is nearing done, start cooking the mushrooms in butter (if you don't, use the same pan for both - maybe do mushrooms & sauce first, then set aside and cook chicken), when mushrooms are cooking down well and browned and delicious, add the wine, stock, salt & pepper, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer while chicken finishes cooking, about 10 mins. Heat oven to 450, and grease a 9x13 pan. When chicken is done, place in 9x13 in a single layer. Pour the mushrooms and sauce over all. Top with cheeses and green onions. Bake for 15-20mins, (while you make the rice), once cheese is melting and browning, you're good to go! Serves well over rice, or pasta

Monday, November 6, 2017

Daddy Doesn't Pray Anymore

*This was written and posted on Instagram in November 2015*

Well folks, it's a new song, but an old, old memory. There is much to be grateful for, when taking that ol' trip down memory lane.

My life has been both extremely ordinary and extraordinary - paradoxically, at once. Perhaps it was the ordinary that allowed the exceptional to seem so, or, perhaps the unique just made the rest seem mundane. But either way, having lived it, it always just seemed like life to me.

If asked to name one single, solitary, defining thing that shaped my growing up, the very first thing that springs to mind time and again is this: Music.

I've spent more time sitting and listening to sad old songs, sung by a smooth baritone than probably anything else, collectively. My favourite pastime, and his too. There were songs about love, and life, and the Lord. The soul stirring cries of notes on the page, brought to life in a six string. I can't help but hear a new song, like this one, and not reminisce. It's hauntingly familiar in every way. It's not the only kind of music that speaks to my heart - but it's the best kind.

It's the kind that makes you wish you never had to grow up. The kind that makes you wish people never left. The kind that makes heaven seem wonderful. Because: Jesus and music. Could there anything sweeter? I'm grateful for my Dad, and his passion for music. I'm so glad that I have memories buried all the way down to my toes - of music.

And I'm grateful for new songs to sing everyday. Music, just like life, is a story that never ends. Always have a song in your heart, even if it's a sad one. There will always come a brighter day, and a happier note.

Because like it or not, we all dance to the tunes we know. (link to Chris Stapleton's Daddy Doesn't Pray Anymore)