Green Streamer Potato Mash

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It’s the end of a long day, you’re hungry, your kids are hungry, and you don’t know what’s for supper. You look around and wonder what you can get on the table before people start opening cabinets and stuffing their faces with Cheerios…maybe you should just pop over to Mickey-Ds and order a quick fix?

Nope—here’s an idea for you. Nix the energy-sapping French fries and throw together a simple, healthy First Responder: the veggie mash. (more…)

Give an Ear to the Girl With the Perm

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This is the first post in a series about choosing to live the moments we are given wholeheartedly, remembering our days are short.

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“What’s your favorite subject in school these days?” he asks. I’m wearing pink glasses and have a fresh perm; it must be 1989.

“I love art class, but in Social Studies we’re…” my voice fades away as I notice his gaze scanning the room.

“Hey, nice tie, Pete!” he yells across the room to my father, who’s wearing a holly bow-tie with berries that light up.

I look over at the tie, back toward my uncle, then drop my head a bit as (more…)

Warming Winter Groundnut Stew

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It is winter around here. The snow is not only heaped around our house, but it is being hurled around by below-zero degree winds that caused our county to cancel school today. For the fifth time this month.

I don’t know about you, but I think today calls for some stew. How about a little jaunt to warm West Africa in a bowl? I’m sure they’ve never experienced this meal in such climes, but somehow their ingredients reach across the ocean and satisfy the cravings of us chilly folks.

This is what I’m going to call a “Warming Winter Groundnut Stew”. It is warm, and it is winter, and stew is à propos. Winter squash, toothy and soft at the same time, crunchy green beans, bits of cabbage swimming in (more…)

I Want To Be a Bride

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Whoa-up, there, horsey! You’re movin’ too fast. I had another birthday four days after Christmas.

My parents called to send their good wishes. Four-year-old Max, looking for his grandpa, had said, “Where is that old man?” My mum laughed when she realized he was talking about her husband. “When your own parents are 87 years old, you feel young,” she said, adding, “But thirty-something was a great year.”

I appreciate her perspective, as I start to notice my own fine lines and marvel that my girl is about to turn 5 and my husband and I look like babies in our wedding photos.

So: 30-odd New Years, 30-odd opportunities to take stock, evaluate life, grow up a little more, hopefully.

Here’s the deal for 2014. (more…)

Come to CandyLand, Lockjaw Lady

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It’s 3:45am. We roll out of bed, slip on jeans. Contacts are gritty on tired eyes. Xavi sleeps with little knees tucked up under his chest, a roly-poly. I rustle his soft mop, whisper that it’s time to go, lift him into my arms and feel the fleecy warmth of sleeping babe.

Sweetpea hears us. “It’s today, Mommy!” she starts laughing excitedly. “I’m sooooo happy, Mommy!”

We’re driving down dark streets, onto empty highway, making fast time on clear roads. The kids are smiling in the back, Xavi exclaiming over spotlight moon, Sweetpea yelling about stars, the two of us grinning in the front seat, their joy like molecules, seeping into our noses and caressing our cheeks.

The lady behind the counter has lockjaw. (more…)

Sleepover in the Baptistery

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This week it’s Psalm 65 that I can’t shake: Happy are those I choose and bring near to live in my courts. They shall be satisfied with the goodness of my house, my holy temple.

I picture myself hauling sleeping bag and kids down the road to camp out at church and see them begging me to sleep in the baptistery. Don’t think that’s quite what the Psalmist had in mind, but the words keep bumping against me, boat rocking next to dock.

I’m reading Jen Hatmaker’s book, “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess”, and she experiments for seven months with different areas of her life—eating only 7 food items one month, wearing only 7 articles of clothing the next, giving away 7 possessions a day. Sacrifice and fasting are not the first books I pull off the spiritual shelf, but since Hatmaker is a hilarious 36-year-old mom from Texas, I figure she’s probably not somebody naturally on the Franciscan path either. Maybe we have something in common.

Her words startle me: (more…)

Praise God the Blinds Fell Not in Poo

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It’s November. My whole family is sitting around the table for some hasty sandwiches, and an alarm sounds: beep-beep-beep-beep. Pause. Beep-beep-beep-beep.

The hubby investigates. “Carbon monoxide!” he calls out, anxious. “I think I’m feeling wobbly.” The kids are not pleased with the high-pitched sound (the beep, not my hubby’s voice).

“Let me go check it out,” I say, marching into my daughter’s room where the little machine is screeching. I press the button and hold to reset, then turn off the furnace and begin opening windows. All seems well for about two minutes, until the beeps resume.

“I’m coming,” says the fire chief when I call.

As we are sitting around the table popping chunks of frozen mango into our mouths, Xavi suddenly begins to struggle. He is 21-months-old, so the gag reflex is still in full swing. But he truly can’t breathe this time.

“Choking!” I sputter, “Xavi is choking!” (more…)

The Forest Takes on a Four-Letter Word

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“Let’s go into the forest!” yells my girl from her cozy seat in the wagon.

It’s fall, and the soaring hair of the trees is towhead, mass of yellow shot through with light. That I might be doing dishes seems a scandal.

“Pomme. Pomme,” rises the little voice of my one-year-old. Why he begs for scarred crabapples full of astringent bite is puzzling, but I can’t say no. I love that my kids see the woods as a place of food.

But we don’t eat the mushrooms. Sweetpea gently caresses them with a stick, and then Xavi reaches out with pudgy hand and lops a cap off.

“Uh-oh! Uh-oh!” his tiny pointer finger tries to correct the mishap.

We continue. They climb back into the wagon for bouncy ride, bumping over tree roots and fallen walnuts with blackening husks, sharp smell that takes me back thirty years to the library grounds across the street from my childhood home.

They were black squirrels there, burying walnuts. Here in Michigan, it’s plump, red-furred ones, chasing and chirping and fluffing up the forest floor, little balls of contrariety.

Warm wind cascades through the canopy and I look up, suck in my breath. The sun is doing magic, lighting the woods with fiery fingertips, turning earthly scene into duet of glory. It is spacious, a cathedral of autumn’s joy, and we are taken in.

What is God like if in the dying He is still this beautiful?

“F–k you.” (more…)

Tattooed Gratitude

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No one would ever accuse me of having big hair.

Does that make it little? Grumpy people call it thin. Baby-fine is another good word; sounds sweet and wispy.

Of course I could wear a wig or have some extensions put in. But the actual hair, the protein sprouting out of holes in my scalp—no amount of homeopathic pill-popping or nightly brushing or schmancy-poo will change it.

My mum tells a story, “When I was a teenager this girl whispered to her friend behind me at church, loudly so I could hear, ‘Look at her hair! It’s so thin and full of split-ends.’” There is still emotion in her voice.

I look at photographs of my stunning mother and wonder why she even noticed her hair, everything about her being completely gorgeous. But she still got the tattoo with a red heart that read AWESOME HAIR. Since I was her biggest fan I ordered up a similar one, along with a few originals of my own. I used to say, When I get to heaven, I’ll have long, thick, gorgeous hair, and sweet shoe-advertisement-worthy toes, and skin that tans golden without burning.

I’m sure that’s what Jesus had in mind when he said that he was going to prepare a place for me. (more…)

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