how's that eyeball, swashbuckler?

jim was out in the woods walking sydney when he caught a thorn in his eye. thankfully, it happened in the white and not the iris or retina or anything, but still, eye injury equals no fun for sure, especially while we're away during the holidaze. thankfully, my best friend from childhood is an opthamologist, (really!) and she and her parents were on their way over for dinner when it happened.  mariah called in a prescription, and hopefully everything will heal up well soon.

after delicious curry and drunken noodles, my brother josh, sister bethany, mariah, jim, and i went out while while grandma and grandpa watched dylan. we had so much fun laughing, catching up, and running into old friends.  i hate living so far away from my family and cherish the times we spend all together.

yesterday we enjoyed a great visit with my grandma, and today my sister tiffany, dylan, and i spent a lovely afternoon visiting two local wineries. now, oddly, i have the house all to myself, as everyone else has gone home and jim is away. dylan is asleep, and she has been sleeping fairly well here.  i mean she's no "little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes" or anything, but i tend to think that line is a romantic fantasy, anyway;) dylan has been so playful, talkative and busy! it's fun to watch my family take such delight in our little girl.


...and to all a good night

(God-willing.  please, Lord!)

dylan is basically a perfect angel during the day and a werewolf at night.  new molars aren't helping so much in the sleep department, either.  as jim said recently, "i hate night."

it has been a loooooong month.

our two days here have been a little rocky, not helped by late bed-times, skipped naps, and the fact that team paul is sharing a room in a house with creaky floors.

but today, dylan is deep into her second nap, and things are looking up!  we may just all "sleep in heavenly peace" after all.  that is all i want for christmas.  

merry christmas to all...

christmas with a toddler is such a joy.  there were dancers at church last night, and dylan watched wide-eyed and attentively.  she was singing and "talking" during the quieter readings, so i stood with her in the back in her sling until my mom forced enthusiastically encouraged me take her up for the very long children's sermon.  i hadn't been up for one of those in quite some time!  dylan did like being with the bigger kids with a front row seat to the action.

it was fun to be back at the little church i grew up in, seeing dear family friends like lori, who met dylan for the first time with tears in her eyes.  her daughters were babies when she taught my sunday school class, and now her beautiful girls are grown and i'm the young mom.

this morning dylan loved the tree, wrapping papers and ribbons, wonderful books and wooden toys.  she's been delighting her grandma, grandpa, aunt and uncle with her happy smiles and growing vocabulary.

we enjoyed a big breakfast of veggie omelets, belgian waffles, and bacon and have had a restful family day.  we're looking forward to celebrating more with my grandma and sister tiffany on saturday.

joy to the world, the Lord is come.  let earth receive her king!  let every heart prepare him room.

crafty christmas: hosting a craft exchange

the mothers' group i go to hosted a craft exchange for christmas today, and it was such a great idea! every woman made six of something to give away, like jarred cookie mix, candles, note cards, or candy. one of everything was taken to assemble nice gift bags for all the children's teachers, and the rest of the items were displayed up front. someone called people up based on birthday month, etc., and we took turns picking one thing at a time.

no one had to worry about buying gifts for anyone, and every teacher and mom went home with the beautiful homemade food and crafts she liked best. if my camera weren't still missing (booo), i'd show you the gorgeous flower arrangement or lovely tree ornament i picked made from cinnamon and applesauce(!) with a picture of mary and jesus decoupaged to it. (i know, it sounds ridiculous, but it's awesome, and i'm totally filing the idea away for the future.) i also received homemade applesauce, brownie mix, and fudge:) i think the goodies i went home with put to shame the little magnet-backed picture frames i brought!

find more thrifty green thursday ideas at green baby guide.


how to soften stale cookies {ginger molasses recipe}

if you have cookies that have gotten a little hardened or stale, there is a simple way to make them soft again like when they were fresh-baked.  just put one small apple slice into your cookie container and seal it tightly. within a few hours, they'll be noticeably softer, and the next morning they'll be just like when you baked them.  i tried this trick yesterday and had a delicious soft-as-the-day-i-baked-it ginger molasses cookie for breakfast, with a slice of last night's pizza and a strawberry smoothie, cuz i'm healthy like that.

this is a recipe i come back to again and again.  mmmmm.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3.5 ounces crystallized ginger, chopped coarsely

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine softened butter, sugar, molasses and egg. Using a mixer, beat well. Stir in crystallized ginger. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to wet mixture. Mix well. Form 1 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

three dozen is a conservative estimate. i made literal one inch balls and probably yielded six dozen, but i should have shortened the cooking time (hence them turning hard fast.)

FYI:  don't bother with the over-priced crystalized ginger in the tiny jar in the spice isle at the supermarket.  i've picked it up reasonably at tj maxx and places that sell dry goods in bulk.


'tis the season to be jolly

we had fifty people here last night for our ugly sweater christmas party. it's a little hard for me to believe that we know that many people here, let alone that they could fit into our house! tragically (ok, unfotunately), our camara is MIA, so no pictures, but a friend got some that hopefully we can post later.

some people went all out--sequins, jingle bells, teddy bears, bedazzled christmas trees. jim's sweater had a st. bernard in a 3-D scarf, and mine had bright sequins flowers and shoulder pads. it was awesome. dressing up (down?) set people at ease and gave them something to talk about, which was great, since the crowd was diverse in age.

because we aren't such big fans of disposables, we have an entire house full of wine glasses and dishes that need to be washed, but that will be a task for another hour. after this, i'm going to read the paper love every restful minute.

merry christmas!


created in the image of a creative God

six things that bring the joy:

1. dylan's laughter and cuddles.

2. family "weekends." jim works most saturdays, and sundays can feel a little crazy since dylan misses a nap at church. this week, we got a dusting of snow and they cancelled church because the roads were slick. we had a wonderful family day at home, including sleeping in, advent readings in bed, homemade belgian waffles, and meet the press. then we spent much of monday together, too:) 

3. christmas trees. ours is fake, since we wanted a little one we could put on a table out of reach of little hands, but it's still beautiful! i love the warm lights and our old and homemade ornaments. 

4. adventurous cooking with jim and reading cook books.

5. e-z pass. cruising past cars waiting in line to pay tolls makes me feel smug happy. 

6. indulging my creative side.  alana at gray matters wrote a post on decoupaging canvas that inspired me to make the project above for my sister-in-love, christie. i've been collaging since middle school, but the canvas really made it look nice, and i'm pleased with how it turned out. i'm thankful for the inspiration to try something new.

when darkness falls

ever since dylan got sick this summer, she wakes pretty much every three hours at night. it's not our favorite, but she needs to gain weight, so i just keep nursing her and figure it's a season that won't last forever.

it just feels like it might, sometimes.

now that she's getting molars, dylan wakes even more frequently (or refuses to go to sleep altogether). she's is in a lot of pain, and the only thing that seems to comfort her is near-constant nursing all night long. awesome.

so, if you'd pray for our little peanut, it would be much appreciated. if i need to, i can get a nap when she does sometimes, but jim is running on empty. dylan could use healing and we could all use some peace and rest.


how to lower your cable bill

when i worked at the housing authority, people facing eviction came to my office every day to apply for assistance with overdue rent. the application required listing income and expenses, and i'd venture that nine out of ten of my indebted clients paid small fortunes in cable tv (and cell phone) bills. i'd try to convince them to get rid of all unnecessary expenses, but none were amenable to cancelling cable, no matter how limited their budget. (the american sense of entitlement and our inability to distinguish needs from wants is a whole other post in itself!) my next suggestion involved down-grading to "below basic" cable, an option many companies don't advertise.

my husband and i have never paid anywhere close to fifty dollars for "basic" cable, the advertised rate for most companies which includes one hundred or more channels. that never sounded very basic to us (or our budget), so we asked our cable company what their unadvertised "below basic" package was, and that's what we've subscribed to for the past six years.

our package is basic, that's for sure--we get ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, FOX, CW, and a few others thrown in for good measure. it is no-frills--no MTV, ESPN, or HGTV--but we also pay less than twenty bucks. do i sometimes wish we had more channels? absolutely, but what's good for us about this package is that sometimes there is literally nothing on tv, and then we turn it off! the times when we had free trials of more channels, we watched a lot more junk, and we're honestly thankful to have fewer options.

it has occurred to me that the downside of this scenario is that we are paying twenty bucks a month for channels that, in theory at least, we ought to get for free, but we've never lived in a place where we knew anyone who successfully got much reception with rabbit ears. i'm wondering if that might change with this whole digital switch; my sister-in-law in nashville gets close to twenty channels for free right now with rabbit ears and a converter box. we will probably be trying that out soon, but if we can't get decent, reliable reception, we'll come back to "below basic." it has served us well:)


the one where i try not to trip over the carcasses

jim butchers his own deer. it sounds gruesome, but he gets whatever cuts of meat he wants, there's no waste, and we save a lot of money on processing. he sends some meat off to be ground, but that's the only thing he doesn't do himself.

i ended up dropping off the meat at the butcher tonight, and i'm still reeling from what i saw there. (if you have a weak stomach, now is the time to STOP READING. i'm serious, just stop right now. go to my sidebar and click on something else i wrote, maybe labeled "prayer" or "pop culture." something that has nothing to do with carcasses.)

it was dark and a little snowy when i pulled into the parking lot. my headlights cast an eerie glow on the dozen or more deer, gutted and crumpled in front of my car. it was like nothing i'd ever seen before or hope to again. carrying a heavy pan of meat, i literally had to step over and between carcasses to get to the door, praying i wouldn't trip and drop everything on the one who was missing a big chunk of of his head. the scene was like something out of a horror movie, except that it was just a regular day during hunting season.

to the right, an open door revealed more deer hanging, although they at least had been partially processed and resembled food. to the left was a door marked "deer processing," which is where i was supposed to go. inside were two men and two boys around ten years old, and each one held his own dead deer and sharp knife. dead deer, children with knives, children with dead deer and knives...the whole experience was surreal.

they didn't really know what to do with our meat (what with it not having hooves or other parts to wrestle off), so they called out the owner. he took our meat, and i got the heck out of there as fast as i could. but not too fast--i still didn't want to slip and fall into the pile of death on my way back to my car!


lovin'... husband, who made delicious fajitas tonight, and then washed all the dishes while i was nursing dylan. he's amazing:) sweet baby girl, not usually a cuddler, has taken to putting her head on my shoulder. senior high small group. last night we had a great discussion on servant leadership and Jesus washing his disciples' feet, followed by an equally spirited discussion about the Twilight books and movie. one of my girls is bringing me New Moon next week:) leche league. i went to my first meeting this week and met a group of warm, interesting, local moms of babies.

except for dylan being up at all hours, it's been a really good week.


advent conspiracy

check out this video:

we all want to spend less money and more time together at christmas, but it is difficult not to get swept up in the holidaze. advent ought to be a time of worship and waiting and meditation on the significance and mystery of the Incarnation, and instead we find ourselves too busy with shopping, planning, and traveling to be still even a moment.

the tricksy part of the whole "buy less/give more" thing is that it's just not all that consistent if say i want an ipod for christmas and then i get you a goat for a family in uganda, you know? in light of that, i want to let my family know that there is nothing i need this christmas. if you've already picked out something for me, thanks! i certainly don't want to come down against gift-exchanging--there can be so much joy in it.

but, if like my mom, you haven't already been shopping, please don't sweat it! while i love pretty things as much as the next girl, i already have more than i need, and this christmas i also want to remember those who lack basic food, shelter, health care, and clean water. seriously, give what you would have spent to someone who could really use it, and let's do something simple together. i live too far away from most everyone i love, and the only thing i need is time with you. that, and the discipline to be still this advent, receptive like mary to the working of the Holy Spirit:

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38).

Let the Word, I pray, be to me not as a word spoken to pass away, but conceived and clothed in flesh, not in air, that he may remain with us. Let him be, not only to be heard with the ears, but to be seen with the eyes, touched with the hands and borne on the shoulders. Let the Word be to me not as a word written and silent, but incarnate and living...I desire that he may be formed, not as the word in preaching, not as a sign in figures, or as a vision in dreams, but silently inspired, personally incarnated, found in the body, in my body...let it be done unto me, according to your word. --Bernard of Clairvaux



i grew up in suburban philadephia and didn't know anyone who hunted. my dad's hobbies leaned more toward map reading, marathon running, and lawn mowing with a classic push mower. our family and neighbors purchased meat at the supermarket like normal 20th century consumers.

when i met jim he wasn't a hunter, either: he was a rock climber. sexy hobby, no? these days jim is more likely to be found in a tree stand than on belay. (well, recreationally; his job actually does require him to be on belay a good bit.) while camo and hunter orange aren't exactly my favorite look on a man, jim's hunting keeps our freezer stocked with free range, hormone-free, and well, free meat. who wouldn't appreciate that?

yesterday was opening day of rifle season, which around here is akin to a religious holiday. they close the schools. jim got a seven point buck, and he is thrilled. tonight he grilled the most delicious venison tenderloin steaks, and even dylan, our petite and sometimes picky sixteen and half pound baby gobbled them up like the country-born babe she is.

but dylan is no mere country babe; she appears to have a sophisticated palate. our wee one who balked at pureed foods for months savored her aunt christie's cumin and ginger-spiced butternut squash soup this thanksgiving. we are just so thankful she is eating again!
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