Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's baking at my house this week

This is what is on my plate this week -- quite literally-- the baking of a pirate cake. We're hosting a Pirate Themed Birthday party for the youngest who is turning six and who is having his first friend party.

I encouraged the party to be a Pirate Theme just so I could make this cake -- for the third time. Third time is the charm -- right!?! Last year I convinced him not to have a pirate cake. This year, I persuaded him to have a pirate cake. What's up with that?

It started when he was turning three. I had asked him what kind of cake that he wanted after we'd been through the bakery aisle at the grocery store. We'd oohed and aahed over the neat looking cakes.

So when asked what kind of cake he wanted, he answered, "A pirate cake."

I meant chocolate or vanilla. He meant a pirate cake.

I didn't want to buy the cake due my frugal tendencies. Instead, I set out to learn how to make a pirate cake. It didn't look that hard. And it wasn't; but, as usual, I didn't give myself a lot of time to experiment with such a project.

I baked it. I built it. We ate it.

Then his four year old birthday approached.

"What kind of cake would you like?" asked his mommy.

"A pirate cake, " he replied.

Since I didn't keep anything that I had used to make it, I had to search again for directions on the internet although this time I could also look at my pictures. It went okay.

When the five year old birthday came around. I convinced him to choose another cake; perhaps by not giving him the option of a pirate cake. (I don't really remember since that was a year ago.) I didn't want to be locked into baking a pirate cake for the next 10 years.

But I guessed I missed making it since I convinced him to go with a Pirate Theme just so I could make this cake!

Since making a cake for the third time may not be stressful enough (even though I will probably need to look up directions again. I don't know, of course, since it is only Tuesday and the party is Saturday), we're going to make our own pinata for the very first time. This will help just in case things won't be stressful enough getting ready for the kid party on Saturday. Tee-hee. Right now, it sounds fun and creative. Hopefully it remains so, especially with an inspired 13 year old around that can spearhead the pinata project while I bake the pirate cake again.

It should be a fun week!

But if you'd like to give some pinata-making tips, they are quite welcome.

So....what's baking at your house this week?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scrapbooking & Contentment

Putting together a photo order so that we can each scrapbook!

This past weekend I went scrapbooking. I dusted off my tools and my pictures. I hauled my gear an hour away from my home. I set up my stuff on a table and focused on getting child number three's baby book finished. And now she has photos of herself in a dedicated book from birth until one year old, just one month after her ten year old birthday. Woo-hoo!

I was in the midst of kind-hearted women. We ate when we wanted to, slept if we wanted to, and all of us worked on our albums. There was chit-chat about our pictures and the memories that they hold. There were movies and music and working on our albums.

And here in this atmosphere of kindness, I still felt pressure. It certainly wasn't coming from anyone else. We didn't even spend much time looking at each other's stuff; we were busily focused on our own projects.

And yet, we glance. I saw the seemingly large stacks of page layouts they were getting done. The amazing amount of craft and beauty. My pages were much more simple. I worked much more slowly.

And I found myself needing to remind myself that I was making the book for my daughter. And she would love the album. She has been waiting for the album for a long time. She won't look at anyone else's album. Only this one that I created for her.

Why is so hard not to get caught up in comparing myself to others? Wanting these other scrapbookers, most of whom I do not know, to come and be impressed with my pages?

Isn't it fascinating that I needed to remind myself who I was making the album for? There was no external pressure about this. I sure seem to fight a lot of internal pressure. Where does it come from? And why so strongly?

As I thought, "I'm making this my daughter. She will love it.", I began to be content. I remembered my focus, my calling.

And truly I was right. My daughter loved the album. Actually the whole family delighted in the album, these pictures of welcoming sweet number three to our family.

Those other scrapbooks that made me feel pressure, they've faded but not the women that created them. I remember their friendly faces. Their encouraging words. Their adamant invitation that I join them at their monthly crops. I remember their kindness.

The stacks of more work that "they" seemed to get done went by the wayside when the oldest said, "Wow, it looks like you accomplished a lot."

May this internal, ridiculous pressure go away once and for all!

Surely, I will yet learn the secret of contentment.

...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation...Philippians 4:11, 12

How about you?
Can you relate to feeling inward pressure that is not really there externally?Or do you just think I am crazy? Do you have some secrets to share about learning to be content?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Secret of the Heron

It was the last day of summer. It was sunny with a few scattered clouds and little wind. The smells of river-water, sun & mud wafted through the air -- outdoor fresh with a hint of fish. The bugs were cricketing with a buzz, buzz and a cheep, cheep.

We sat on the hard rocks. We began to sketch nature observations into our new journals. Great and silent across the river sat the patient fisher bird. Our heron friend that we often see at this bend in the river stood in the water. Waiting.

We took turns gazing at him through the new pair of binoculars the thirteen year old received for his birthday. We could see the heron's open mouth and the detail of his gray-blue feathers.

I saw splashes and bubbles. There must be fish nearby. I hoped to see the heron make a catch, if only we waited long enough.

There was a bright blue sky. Above the green-leafed trees with their faint yellow-rimmed edges, the jet roared. Its explosive sound interrupted the serenity and quiet beauty of our "secluded" spot. It was then that I also noticed the cars thundering over the cement, metal bridge a half-mile away.

The contrast of the images jarred me. But it didn't jar the heron, or the birds, or the bugs.

The heron stood just as focused on finding a fish for its dinner. The birds chirped just the same. The bugs kept on buzzing away.

They didn't even flinch.

Yet, I was interrupted. I heard the jet. I heard the cars.

The noise reminded me that I belong to a culture of to-do lists, of places to go, and of accomplishments to achieve. But I didn't want to be reminded just yet about the world to which I would soon return. The to-do lists that are never finished were left back on the kitchen counter for a reason!

I longed to package this moment and bring the peace back into my "real" life.

What was the secret of the heron? How could it be undisturbed by all the noise? Was it numb to it? Or was it focused on its calling: its need for dinner tonight?

Then, I realized that the jet was not disturbed by the heron either. It didn't even know the heron was there. But the bird didn't care if it was noticed by the jet. The jet wasn't striving to be noticed by the heron. Each was focused on its own purpose.

The jet sure would look silly wading in the river to catch a fish. Likewise, not even one person on the jet could climb upon the heron to get to their destination.

I must begin to realize that it is just as silly for me to try to pursue someone else's calling as it is for a jet to wade for fish!

My calling is to be here in this moment with my children. I need to climb over the rocks and down to the water's edge far away from my respectable to-do list and into this moment. Oh, I shall need to return to the many listed responsibilities. . . but for this moment I need to collect shells and to throw stones in the river, and simply let God's creation soak deep down into our souls.

No, I am not transforming the world with technology or amazing speeches. I am not making headlines or any kind of monetary contribution to society or even to our small household. But. . . I am making a difference in the lives of these four children. And this is my calling here and now in this short season while they roost here with us.

And that, my friends, is the secret of the heron: Know your calling. Your unflinching, undisturbed calling that keeps you fishing for dinner in the midst of a jet-roaring world.

Have you found your focus, your calling in life?
If so, has it helped you to maintain peace in the midst of chaos?

Linking up with Jen at Finding Heaven today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


For the day my first born turned thirteen 2 1/2 weeks ago

Thirteen years.

Thirteen is an unlucky number, or so they say,

But not for me

Because thirteen years ago today

My dream came true

I became a mom

Thirteen years from now

I will be a mom whose children are all grown

How dare they come and

Change my heart, my home, my life

And fly away so soon

Yet that is their calling

And my calling too

To help them become

Who they are called to be

And in the process

It changes me

Changing diapers, making meals

Teaching fractions and phonics

To say please and thank you, too

Reading books and saying prayers

Tickles and laughter and outbursts of tempers

Theirs and mine

And I am changed

Holding their hands, holding their hearts

As they change

To become who they are called

To be

And in the process

It changes me


* * * * * * * * * * * *

How about you?

Has a recent milestone made you reflect upon your life?

And/or what advice do you have for us

for these upcoming teenage years?

* * * * * * * * ** * * *

p.s. Linking up with Company Girls at Home Sanctuary. Check it out HERE.

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