Feb 28, 2015

Mostly Perfect Saturday

Today was simply fabulous.
It didn't start off well. Winkler, our local woodpecker, likes to start his wooing early. So at 7:30am Winkler started firing away on the gutter. Yes the metal gutter. Winkler is trying to gain some attention from the ladies and since trees do not create nearly as obnoxious sound as a gutter, Winkler hangs out on our back gutter hammering away....until I wake up, go outside and huck a dodgeball at the sucker. Occasionally, he returns a little later for some more musical action but this morning one blast with a red ball was enough to send him to a neighbor's.
The damage was already done though, we were awake.
It was sunny and simply beautiful outside today. After a few cups of coffee and breakfast we headed out to enjoy the day. We hiked 3 miles at a nearby park enjoying both the steep, muddy, thick forest and rocky beaches and clear waters of the Sound. We even saw both mountains on the peninsula and Rainier.
After the hike the boys played catch in the park until we were famished. We enjoyed lunch at one of our favorite spots downtown and then decided to walk to a bakery that makes to die for cupcakes.
Ok so just in case you dozed off. By noon we had coffee, family hike that included a water feature and mountain views, delicious lunch and a walk through the city on the way to cupcakes.
Does it get any better?
Well yes it does.
We happened upon some store that was having a close out sale. Two words: clearance shoes! I know! Amazing. I decided that although I was loving an adorable pair of Keen boots, I would pass and get Matt and Eli some sweet shoes and pick Eli up a snowboard for next season. Although it seems like this story couldn't get any better....it does. I found a mannequin for sale. The store is going out of business  and selling display racks, shelving, hangars, decor, everything! To include a mannequin. I'm not personally in need of a mannequin but a friend of mine loves A Christmas Story and needs a leg lamp. Bam! I found her a leg.
So we load our stuff into the van and continue our journey to the bakery. We sat outside in the sun enjoying cupcakes and coffee and then swooped into the farmers market as they were closing to grab some fresh fruit.
The boys planned to squeeze in some baseball practice before we headed home so we stopped at a field, pulled out the equipment and Matt was helping the boys get some hitting practice. I was a bit tired from Winkler's wake up so I grabbed a blanket and planned to nap in the sun. I should have stuck with this plan. Instead of just chillin and enjoying a sunny nap I decided to get in on the ball action and try to catch some grounders. Well I'm pretty lame. So there I was standing in the field with my glove ready, waiting for Eli to hit. Matt says "hey back up" to which I very snootily respond "no!"
I'm not 100% sure why I didn't want to move but let's just say it was a very bad call.
10 seconds after I say "no!", Eli fires off a line drive that comes directly to me at 500mph. I have a glove on, no worries I think I'll just catch this thing and show them. But I don't catch it. Instead I put my gloved hand down to catch it, get scared, and turn my hand. TURN my hand from where the padding is there to save my digits to the back of the glove where there is nothing.
I crumpled in a pile on my nap blanket and pretty much thought I was going to need my fingers amputated. Eli and Matt laughed hysterically. Gabe the favorite one came rushing to my aid.
Matt said " I told you to move back"
So now I am the not so proud bearer of the most ridiculous finger injuries. I didn't even know it was possible to bruise the tip of your finger.
Our cheeks are sun-kissed, clothes and shoes grass stained and muddy, bellies filled, hearts full and minds fresh with awesome family memories.
Ok and thanks to my failed baseball attempt everyone enjoyed a good laugh at my expense.
Happy Saturday!

Feb 27, 2015

Sometimes it is the littlest things that make my day.

Yesterday I came home to a lovely package from my pal Mika.  

That's right people.
As you can see, this little gadget is a natural peanut butter mixer! 
It is a real thing, it totally works, and I am the proud owner of this magical device.
Perhaps I should complain on this blog about the little things that drive me crazy more often...
maybe all my problems can be solved with a handy gadget!

In slightly related news (along the lines of modern conveinences that make me happy), I love the cleaners.  I know that the little handy hangar paper from the cleaners say "We Love our Customers" which they probably do, but I'm willing to bet I love them more than they love me.  We don't have many clothing items that require assistance from the dry cleaner. A few times a year I have a gown and Matt's dress blues cleaned but aside from that everything gets washed and dried at home.  I am so thankful that the army uniform is wash and dry!
So Matt is headed off to a week of schmoozing with other helicopter people in Florida.  The plan is to see what kind of jobs are out there that he will be qualified for when he retires.  
Schmoozing requires a suit.  Suits require shirts.
As Matt was going through a mental checklist of the things he needs for the upcoming trip he actually said "can you iron my shirts" to which I almost peed my pants.  Uh really?  Have I ever in my life successfully ironed one of his shirts?
No.  Believe or not no.  
Now I have indeed tried to iron a shirt but in some instances it looked far worse after I got to it than before I started and even on my best attempts it still looked like he pulled it out of a suitcase instead of straight off the ironing board (which in reality I don't even have a fully functional ironing board).
So after I stopped laughing I said "you need to take those shirts to the cleaners".  He didn't understand that you don't have to have something dry cleaned at the cleaners.  You can actually just give them your dirty clothes and they will clean and press them like magic.
Today he brought home 3 perfectly beautiful cleaned and pressed shirts in a plastic bag that said "thank you" on it and I said "oh no...thank YOU".
I do toilets, diapers, dishes, vomit and all sorts of other nasty stuff but I don't press shirts.  Thank goodness there is a whole team of people out there willing to take my few dollars in exchange for pressing a shirt.

Lastly, Girl Scout cookies.  I never buy boxed cookies from the store.  Ok occasionally I'll grab some oreos for the boys.  But I absolutely get sucked in to those Girl Scout cookies.  Is it the nostalgia or are they actually divine?  I don't know.  But I do look forward to cookie season!  
And I just thought you should know they are $4 a box in Washington and someone I know in California is selling them for $5 a box.  People what is up with that?  Can troops just mark up their cookies to make more cash?  Californians should not stand for this injustice.

Feb 25, 2015

40 Days

We are already about 40 days away from Easter.  Can you believe it?
Easter, Spring, Spring Break, countdown until school is out!!
January is a complete blur.  I can't even remember if anything interesting happened between New Year's Eve (an amazing sparkle party success) and our mid-winter break trip to Whistler.

Nope.  I just checked my phone and I took zero photos between these two events, so it must be true, nothing happened.

Anyway 40 days until Easter.  'Tis the season for Lent.  I didn't grow up practicing Lent.  I remember friends asking what I was giving up for Lent and I simply responded "uh I'm not catholic".
It wasn't until I was older and really thought about what Lent is that I decided to take part.  To me, it is a little like advent lessons leading up to Christmas.  Lent is a 40ish day reminder to me that Good Friday is coming and Easter Sunday follows.  It is a way for me to put more thought into Jesus' life, death, and resurrection over the course of a few weeks instead of taking it all in on that Sunday morning.

Today I gave my "Lent According to Clarissa" lesson to Eli.  
It went like this: Jesus went into the desert for 40 days before he went super public with his ministry. The thought behind this time in the desert was that he may have needed or desired some time away from it all to really just focus on what God had planned for him.  He prayed and fasted then he came out of the desert, launched his ministry, and eventually went to the cross.
In the same spirit of Jesus going in to the desert and fasting people participate in Lent in which they give up something for a span of time and somehow use this sacrifice as a reminder of what Jesus did for us.

A recent Bible study that I read was talking about how we need to work less on getting rid of idols in our life and work more on focussing our attention and admiration toward God.  The more we focus on God and the things He desires for us, it will naturally follow that there just isn't enough time or interest to focus on the other things.

So instead of giving up something for Lent this year, I decided to do something instead.  I am attempting to walk/run every day for 40 days.  Rain or shine (and you know there is a lot of rain where I live) and no matter how busy the day (its baseball season, every day will be busy!).  

Now I'm not talking about walking/running for the shear health of it, although it would be great if I shed a few layers of belly fat along the way, the focus of these times for me is not speed work or endurance running, it is about praying over my kids, my family, you!  Sure I pray for my kids every day, but for 30 solid mins?  Nope.  I get way to distracted to accomplish that on a regular basis.  
My prayers usually go like this "God please be with Gabe today.  Help him to have a good lunch with his friends.  Oh ya, I need more lunch meat, and bananas.  Bananas are so great.  I love bananas dipped in chocolate too.  We haven't had fondue in a while....."
So this 30 minutes a day is about getting me away from all the things that are drawing me in, things to do, people to chat with, lists to check off and distractions and just pray over people in my life.

I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of this time.  Maybe I become better at praying over people, maybe I become a better listener to what God wants me to do, maybe mountains will be moved, lives changed, health regained, joy restored.  I don't know but I'm willing to make time this next few weeks to find out!

Feb 23, 2015

This is natural peanut butter. No added sugars or any ingredients you can't pronounce, just blended up peanuts.  Yum!

A few important things to note about natural peanut butter:
  • When you first purchase the peanut butter you have to stir the peanut oil that sits at the top of the jar into the peanutty goodness.

And here lies my biggest frustration with the packagers of natural peanut butter.  For the love of all things smart and logical LEAVE SOME ROOM AT THE TOP!!!  I mean really...how exactly are you supposed to stir in the 1 inch of oil at the very top of the jar into the other 16 ounces of solid mashed peanuts without getting oil all over the place?  
Unless I find some fabulous tip on Pinterest about how to stir the peanut butter without sloshing oil all over, I'm just going to start dumping that stuff out.  No kidding.  Open jar, dump oil down the drain, eat peanut butter.  Really I'll save myself a lot of work if I do it that way. Last night I opened the jar spilled oil all down the side of the jar and onto the counter, all over my hands and of course it splattered onto my clothes. By the time I was done spilling oil all over I'm pretty sure none of the oil was ever even mixed in to the peanut mash.
Just give me some stirring room!  Is that too much to ask?

  • You must keep the peanut butter refrigerated.
Why?  I don't know but that is what the label says.  I don't mind keeping the peanut butter in the fridge I have plenty of room in there but the problem with keeping it there is that it turns into a solid rock.  Do you have any idea what happens to bread when you attempt to spread a solid blob of peanut mash onto it?  It falls apart. I'll spare you that science experiment. The bread turns into swiss cheese and you are then simultaneously "buttering" your hand an the bread.
I won't even go into the effort it  takes to get the peanut butter out of the jar. It is actually a hand and forearm workout to extract the peanut butter from the container.  
Once I get a blob of PB on the bread I just leave it there. I then instruct the consumer of the PBJ to wait until the PB warms up to room temperature and then carefully massage the PB into the bread before consuming.  Its the only way.
  • If you want to make peanut butter cookies you will need to use a different, less healthy form of peanut butter.  This stuff doesn't work so well.
I have no explanation for this.  I assume it is because there are no GMO's or sugar or other bad stuff in there that peanut butter cookies require.  Recipes must operate under the assumption that you are embracing the unhealthy version of peanut butter.  If you choose the healthy option your cookie will turn out more like a biscuit and less like a cookie.

Why do I keep buying the peanut butter?  It tastes good. I do feel better about eating peanut butter without extra ingredients.  And Costco sells this crap in a two pack and I'm stuck with this peanut butter until I can use it up!  Ok that last part is only partially true - Costco does sell it in a two-pack but I keep purchasing this type of peanut butter from other stores too.
Last night I was trying so hard to stir in the oil, my hands were getting covered, a mess was being made all over my counter and in my sink, and I was getting so very frustrated.  I wanted to scream "I just want to make a Peanut Butter sandwich with the healthy peanut butter why is this so hard???"

The easy solution is to toss the jar of the good stuff and grab the stuff that is loaded with "spreadable" and with a shelf life of forever.
I'm not ready to throw in the towel and go for the easy solution.

I think this peanut butter is an excellent analogy for the past few weeks of my life. 

I'm trying to give my family the good stuff, but in order to enjoy it, I've got to get my hands dirty.
The good stuff takes work sometimes.  Muscles and a mess.
And I have to tell ya, our family jar of peanut butter has been overflowing oil, getting all clumped up in the fridge, and has not been very spreadable over the past few weeks.
I'm confident that at least once or a dozen times I've thrown my hands up and said "this is so hard!!"
I want the best for the boys and our family, and I suppose sometimes I'm going to have to spill a bunch of oil, clean up some messes, and let things warm up to room temperature before I can enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Feb 6, 2015

The Stretchy Pant Saga

Late last year our family made the controversial decision to limit stretchy-pant wearing to: lounging around the house, athletic endeavors and neighborhood play.
We had come to this decision after constantly fighting with the elder child about the frequency in which he was sporting "comfy pants" and a hoodie at school,  and begging to wear the same look to church and everywhere else we went.  I battled him on this issue for all of September and October on my own. When Matt came home I consulted with him.  Am I being ridiculous?  Should we let him wear this to school all the time?
It was at that time that we spelled out our new stretchy pant policy.
I thought our rules were clear and the drama would be over.
I was wrong.
December 22.  It was a cold day.  Matt was at work and the boys and I were home.  I had some last minute shopping to do and decided it would be nice to take the boys to lunch downtown in Oly and then stop by a shop or two to finish my Christmas shopping.  Eli came downstairs in comfy pants.  I told him to change.  Tears rolled down his face and he started throwing a full on 2-year old fit...but he is 12.  At one point he actually yelled at me "so you are saying I have to wear uncomfortable jeans for my whole life?" and I replied "no, you can wear corduroys, kackies, cargo pants...".  He was not amused.  His decision that day was to stay home and make a PBJ.  He would rather stay home in his comfy cozy pants than put on jeans and go out to lunch with Gabe and I.
That was the last of the pants drama until this past week when it all hit the fan again.
This time I picked Eli up from school and noticed he was in comfy pants.  I asked why.  He responded because he wanted to.
Eli has an incredible and selective memory.  When I reviewed our stretchy-pant policy with him he said "you said you didn't want me wearing comfy pants to school EVERY day so I thought that meant one day a week would be ok".
I spent the next few moments reminding him of the conversation where I specifically outlined appropriate times for comfy-pants wearing and ensured that he now understood very clearly the family guidelines.
Then dad got home.
I rehash the days event with Matt and he informs me that he saw Eli in the comfy pants that morning and told him that he needed to go upstairs and change.
I'm furious.
Eli defends himself by telling us that actually Matt said "I suggest you go upstairs and change".
"Suggest" being the key word here.

The consequence of willful disobedience and truth twisting regarding the comfy pants: prompt confiscation of the comfy cozy pants.  Now we have the "check-out" system.  He has to come to me to request and justify the need to wear the pants.  He is no longer trusted to make wise choices regarding stretchy pants' use.

Why?  Why the hassle over these pants?

I'm teaching him a lesson about fashion.
Not really.
I'm teaching him a lesson about obedience and consequences.
When our family (Matt and I) decide on a rule or guideline for this home it is expected that all parties that fall under that rule follow it.
It's just pants.
But really it isn't.
Today it is pants but tomorrow it will be internet usage, curfew, car usage, dating rules, or whatever.  If he can learn now, over the pants, that Matt and I will work together to make standards for our family and we will stand together to uphold them, then maybe following the rules as the situations get more challenging and serious will be a little easier.

I explained this to him.  I said "today its your pants 4 years from now it is the car.  You live in our house you will be respectful of us and our rules in both word and deed."

Will this work?  I don't know.  But what I do know is he will be confident that choosing not to obey will have consequences. The only thing he will have to question is if those consequences are worth the action or not.

Feb 1, 2015

I feel obligated to report that Russell Wilson did post a message thanking God for the opportunity to play, even with the loss.
That is a nice surprise.

Not as cool at the Patriot win over the Hawks, but it was good to see this athlete being an example of being thankful even when he looses.