DON'T MISS OUT!

Pink Strawberry Cake





This is a sweet tasting old-fashioned sheet cake made with a white cake mix, strawberries (fresh or frozen) and strawberry jello.

1 box white cake mix
3 TBS white flour
1 (3 oz) box of strawberry jello
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup oil
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries-one cup for the cake and one cup for icing
4 eggs

Combine the cake mix, flour, Jello and water in a mixing bowl.  Add oil and eggs beating well.  Add finely diced strawberries. Beat two minutes.

Pour batter into well greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

FOR THE ICING:

1 stick of softened butter
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup frozen or fresh finely diced strawberries
3 cups of powdered sugar

Add all ingredients and mix with a mixer until creamy.  Spread over cake when it cools.  Garnish with strawberries if desired.

Refrigerate or freeze if you would like. (We love cold cake here.)



Little Gifts



When I hear Janey wake up after a long nap, I "spy" on her.  I can peek through the door and see her sitting in her crib looking around.  Sometimes she will play with one of the three little bunnies she has in her crib, but mostly she just wakes up slowly, and looks at things around the room.
It is just about the cutest thing ever.

And then I crack the door a little more, and she sees me spying and her whole face lights up into a huge grin.

My heart just fills with love and happiness.
I am grateful for every single day I spend with her.
I am grateful that I get to love her everyday, and be the first thing she sees when she wakes up.
I don't think there is anything in the world that can bring more joy than our own children, do you?

I made the mistake the other day of cruising the internet a little...you know, going to this link or that link and wound up off my strict course of my few favorite uplifting blogs.  I always regret it, darn it, I guess I just have to remind myself of that every once in awhile. When I stray I usually find something that just makes me feel so sad or like the whole darn society is going to pot. 

I hope I'm so wrong but it seems like it has become too common for parents to complain about their kids, or what a pain babies are, or think it's funny to have a misbehaving toddler or child. 

We parents reap what we sow, and much more often that naught, our children's behavior is the reflection of the time and love we put into our parental vocation.  

Babies are precious sweet little perfect creatures that need us, their moms and dads, to love them all day and night long.  So it's sometimes requires us to give a lot.  I just want to say to these parents-get over it!  Grow up!  

If babies are crying and fussy, they are tired or hungry or overstimulated and need some quiet time with us, their parents, alone.  Could we look at this huge new world from their eyes or do we always just have to think about ourselves and our needs?

Toddlers and children-they want so badly to be good, they want to please us, they want us to love them. They rely on us to provide stability and consistency and gentle discipline and exercise and a nice calm atmosphere and good food and enough sleep. 

And love and love and more love.  From us.  Directly from us. Which requires unselfishness on our part once again.  

It shouldn't be funny or cute or witty or popular to be a crappy parent.  Ever.  
But that's generally the stuff of the internet, so what did I expect right? 

I don't want to dwell on that stuff.  I want to see the good in this world, there is so much in it. 

Last Sunday at church we had the cutest little family sit behind us.  
They had four little ones, boom, boom, boom, boom, right in a row.  They looked so neat and cared for, they each had a book with them to keep busy, and were trying hard to sit still.  But two of the toddler boys had an argument over something, and mom had to take one to the cry room (in our church it's just the vestibule) for a little while.  I know she was probably cringing inside, but she shouldn't have been.  The love and care and time and investment these parents had was so apparent.  

The other morning in the grocery store, I saw a mom talking to her little son who must have been about four. They were at the checkout and he was having a hard time with something (gum or Matchbox car most likely, I can relate!), tears of distress pouring down his face.  She stooped down, and took his hands and listened to him, and said a few words, and he calmed down and wiped his tears. She didn't threaten to hit him, or just ignore him, or roll her eyes.  She loved him.  She took the time to love him. It was beautiful.

I know that I am not perfect for sure, far from it, no parents are.  I have had my days when I can't find even that little bit of patience.  I've for sure have had days when I've complained about my children and their endless needs, and when I've had a sleepless fussy baby, I've cried about how hard it is to have a sleepless, fussy baby.  

But I've also learned over the last two decades that when I find the joy in mothering, yes, even when it requires every ounce of me, when I look through the world from the eyes of those who call me mommy, when I stop thinking "oh, this is hard" and started thinking "oh, i'm so lucky", I've fully enjoyed all the aspects of parenting.  I think I owe love and devotion to my children-I think all parents do. 

I like to visualize each of my precious babies as little gifts I was chosen by the grace of God to receive-spiritual perfection enclosed in a tiny bundle of cute human-ness-I have such an obligation (sometimes overwhelming for sure!) to care and nurture these gifts-their little lives depend on us really, to survive and thrive for the rest of their lives.   

(First published 2/13/14)

Scars and Salve



I have neglected this blog in favor of Instagram and I do not want to do that.  The computer is often being used for school work right now and the house is busy and loud and not conducive to writing.

I am enjoying having the kids home so much.  I know some of them would much rather be in school (college in spring, HELLO!!!) but we seem to be figuring out how to all live together as we go, with fits and starts and little breakdowns and fun too.  Adjusting to a new normal I guess and the process of adjusting isn't always smooth but there is camaraderie-that which is love-in that also if that makes sense.

I was thinking the other night about the stages of grief amidst the hell of divorce.  The hardest stage is acceptance.  To accept what is happening to me, my life, my future, even my past feels robbed of all the joy it held.  It decimates a spouse. To the core.  It's not a sucker punch.  It's truly decimation. Everything that you thought was for sure is gone.  Comfort is gone. It's like getting pummeled until you can't breathe and then getting the legs knocked out from under you so you can't walk.  It feels like free falling while you watch parts of your life-things you loved-your children's hearts-fall with you.  Reality isn't reality anymore.  You don't know who you are, and where you are or what you have or how to come back.  It's terrifying.

The truth is there is no coming back-not to the world you once knew.  Ever again.  You are changed forever.  Made anew from the ground up, over years, hour by painful hour.  The naivety, that blind trust, that sure thing, that safe feeling, that self-confidence, the worthiness you possessed, seem like it will never exist in your world again.  It is a walk through hell.  I have had to start becoming me again, and lose half of me that I had grown so used to-and then question who that half ever was.  It gets tiring losing and finding every day when you just want to live.  It's easy to forget what just living feels like.  I honestly don't remember.

There is so much to write about.  So many women who go through this same thing.  And sometimes I feel like I've been through enough.  Do you want help with recurrent unexplained miscarriage? I'm your woman.  Cancer?  Triple negative?  Call me.  The devastation of a divorce and broken trust?  Yep I got you.

But please that's where it ends.  That is enough.  I have made that plea to God more times than I can count.  I have sat in church alone weeping and saying please please please fix this God.  And He didn't.  How many women, mothers, wives have had the same plea?  About our husbands, our children, our babies and all the circumstances that life presents us?

And here I stand.  Because dammit, I still want to be here. Fearful, broken hearted, lonely, scared to death, full of sadness and then full of rage, and then back again, full of joy, but is that joy?  I forget what that feels like but I know I want to be here.

I stopped asking why.  I stopped asking why me.  It took a long time before I ditched why.  Do you know there is no answer to that question in circumstances beyond your control?  Did you have a choice?  You won't get an answer to why that will ever be sufficient or that will ever ever come close to justifying the pain.  And when anyone tries to answer that question for you, it will hurt more and madden you.  Because we live in a broken world?  Because humans can be cruel to each other?  Because cells divide wrong?  See, that will never be sufficient.  Why does not erase the pain, it stings the wound.

I stopped imagining in my head that this can't have happened-I can go there but I don't let myself. I don't dream of it all being gone and only very rarely do I ever wake up with that awful gasp that hits hard in the chest thinking it was a nightmare.  I don't dwell much on the empty space on my chest with the big jagged scar where a breast used to be. I am used to it.  It's a part of who I am.  The memory of the children I lost doesn't hurt as much as it used to, because I didn't let that loss scare me into paralysis.  I have walked the path of that pain, and still the ghosts pop out, but rarely do they knock me over.  That I believe is what acceptance looks like.

And this next horror?  I have to trust that there will be a beautiful future for me in store.  That I will survive this.  That I will trust again, and love again, and that my children will be ok.  That the past and this trauma won't hurt like the hell it does now.  That we will all bear the scars but they will heal, that I can heal with time.  That my journey can help another woman-that is more important to me than anything else.  No pride.  Humbleness.  Vulnerability.  Courage.

I know this for sure-time is my salve.