In My Daughter's Eyes

Please note that you can actually see my reflection in my daughter's eye.
It's amazing to me how much I already see traces of "me" manifesting themselves in my mini mortals.  The Chenille Sisters did a song called, "Help!  I'm Turning Into My Parents!"  (You can see a group perform it here, just skip to 1:30).  It's a hilarious song because it's so very true!  We see our parents reflected back in ourselves.

I took the above picture of my reflection in my daughter's eye almost 2 years ago for a photography project.  My mom simply LOVED it when she saw it.  Shortly after I took it, mom asked if maybe she and I could do one with her reflection in my eye.  Then, combine both pictures into one so that we would have a couple generations together.  I really liked her idea, but didn't do it immediately because we both had other things to do.  Life continued getting in the way.  We never made the time to create that picture.  Now I no longer have the opportunity to make that beautiful idea she had a reality because she's no longer on this earth.  It breaks my heart every time I think that she's gone. However, I was reflecting on this picture and the sentiment that we truly leave traces of ourselves in our children.

Shortly after she passed, I was visiting my home church (my parents have attended there for about 40 years).  I made some comments in Sunday School, and talked to a few people.  One of the ladies came up to me after church was over and said, "I've been watching you today and never realized how much you act like your mom."  I learned who I was and what I should be at the hands of a great mentor, my mother. 

In Proverbs 22:6 we read, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  My mother trained me well to have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  She showed me by example what a Christ-like life truly is.  She loved many and taught much.  She was a wonderful person to model how my life should be.  I am grateful to have been so blessed to call that extraordinary woman my mother.

Riding Tandem

Sorry I missed last week. We had a grand family reunion in Branson, MO.  You can see some of our family fun here, if you'd like.

I really enjoy riding bikes with my mini mortals, but we hadn't gone for a while.  Why, you may ask?  My 6 year-old mini mortal rides at a fairly fast pace, and my 4 year-old mini mortal couldn't keep up.  I can't keep up with her and hang back with him simultaneously.  We don't have extremely safe roads to ride on, either.  I knew I could trust my 6 year-old mini mortal on them, but not the 4 year-old.   I really, REALLY wanted a Trail-a-Bike, but I really, really, REALLY didn't want to spend that much money on a Trail-a-Bike.  I waffled back and forth, but ultimately decided there was no way I could justify spending that much money on something that we'd only use for a few years and could sell at just a fraction of the cost on Craigslist when we were done with it.  I was sad, but knew I made the best decision.  Then, I went to Blessingdales, a local thrift store, to pick up some ugly ties for a project we were doing.  As I pulled up, I noticed they had a Trail-a-Bike out front.  I didn't get too excited because I figured it would still be pretty expensive.  I jumped out of the car and checked out the price tag.  It was a whopping $10!!!!!!  I grabbed it up and virtually ran into the store with it.  (Embarrassingly, the door frame got a bit dinged in my excitement).  I handed the clerk the tag and finished up our shopping.  I got it home and proceeded to get it hooked up to my bike.  I took my 4 year-old mini mortal for a ride first.  It was like lugging a 45 lb. sack of potatoes on the back of my bike.  I kept asking him if he was pedaling.  He "assured" me he was, but I'm pretty sure his little legs stayed firmly in one spot the whole ride.  I thought I was going to die by the time I got back home, and our ride wasn't that long.  After his ride, I took my 6 year-old mini mortal out for a ride.  WHOA, what a difference.  She pedaled like crazy!  We zoomed through the neighborhood and had a wonderful, smooth ride together.  We made it around the block in record time.  Although I was able to make it around the block with both mini mortals, it was much easier when someone helped.

The Lord can do all things.  He can "get the bike around the block" so to speak without us, just as I was able to complete the ride with both mini mortals.  Just as I knew what my mini mortals were doing on our ride, in Rev. 2:19 we read, "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works..."  He knows what in our hearts and asks us to help Him (and become more like Him) by acting as His hands on earth through serving others.  It makes His work go more smoothly.   We show true charity when we serve.   The definition of charity is the pure love of Christ.  Love is an action verb.  Love pushes us to serve those around us.  I hope that in my life I can remember to serve as the Lord did.  He loved and served all His days on earth.  A poem by St. Teresa of Avila entitled Christ Has No Body begins, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours..." We have the opportunity to truly be His hands on earth by serving and loving others.

Sweet Sayings: Take Big Bites

My very willing helper got to devour this right after we were done with the picture.  She thoroughly enjoyed her "payment" for helping!

Chocolate Filled, Silk Tie Dyed Eggs

Please understand, artsy/craftsy is not generally a word people think of then they think of me.  However, I saw this post  over at Our Best Bites and this post  from Not Martha and thought I would simply die if I didn't try to combine the two and come up with my own little thing!  I home school my 6 year-old Mini-Mortal, and this became an almost 1 week art project!  She was with me every step of the way.

First take a plain egg.  Using a Dremel tool cut off the bottom of the egg.  (Do this outside because you can rest assured that you and your entire kitchen will be covered in egg if you don't.  Trust me, I know this from experience!)  Remove the bottom, and dump the egg into a bowl.  Cook the eggs immediately into a fabulous dish, or leave it alone to rot and get very smelly over the next few days.  (I would certainly suggest doing the egg dish rather than letting them go rotten, just my humble opinion).  

Next, you pick out 100% Silk, and 100% Ugly ties, the uglier the better.  (You can also chuckle as you get weird looks at the thrift store when you discuss with your children how wonderfully ugly a tie is!)

It's even more fun when you let your children express their opinions on the ties, just FYI.
Cut the ties down the middle, remove the inner lining, and cut the silk into pieces large enough to wrap around your eggs.  Secure them with a twist tie.

Enjoy making designs out of your eggs.  I know we did!

Then, wrap them again in a lightweight white fabric.  (I used a pillowcase.  By cutting it into 3 inch strips, sewing up the sides of each strip and sewing across it in 3 inch segments to make little pockets.)  Secure each pocket with another twist tie.  Put them in a pot with enough water to cover them and add 1/4 C. vinegar.  Boil the heck out of those suckers for 20-25 min.  I had to weight them down with cake pans so they wouldn't float to the top.

 Pull the eggs out of the water with tongs and set carefully into a colander.  Then wait for them to cool.

While you're waiting, you can enjoy the drawings that your kids make regarding their experience so far.  Those things in the middle of the table are the eggs all wrapped up, in case you couldn't tell.
After cooled, unwrap the eggs, set them on a cooling rack with something under it to catch the dripping water, and oooo and ahhh at how pretty they turned out so far!  Leave them alone overnight to dry completely to make sure the dye stays on during the next step.

The next morning clean the inside out really well with warm water and let them dry again.  Then, melt chocolate in a glass measuring cup with just a little bit of veggie oil or butter  to make sure it flows well.  Coat the inside of your eggs with chocolate by pouring it in the egg, swirling it around, then dumping it back into your measuring cup.

Set it on the cooling rack again to let all the excess chocolate drip out.  (It's going to  form a small lip of chocolate.  That's ok, you'll need it later). 
Melt more chocolate with a bit of butter mixed in.  Get out a baking sheet, and layer with parchment paper.  Make the sheet of parchment paper about twice as long as your baking sheet.  Pour the chocolate on the parchment, fold the parchment over the top of the baking sheet and smooth out the chocolate to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness.  Pop in the freezer for about 5 minutes.  When you pull it out, use a cookie cutter to make chocolate disks.  After you've made your chocolate disks, fill your eggs with candy.
Now, use a hot knife (I kept it in a pot of boiling water to keep it hot) to melt the chocolate lip around the outside of the egg, and place the chocolate disk on top of the egg to meld the egg and disk together.  Now, dye some coconut green by putting it in a bag with a few drops of green food coloring and "Shake It Up, baby now. Shake it up baby.  Twist and shout, twist and shout" until the food coloring is evenly distributed.  Take your hot knife and run it over the side of the chocolate disk that is closest to the egg and plop the green coconut on top.  Smash down the coconut to make sure it stays in place.

 Now the eggs are beautiful, and you can be proud and happy from your little creations!

What did those eggs have to go through to become so beautiful and sweet?  Well, let's see...they were cut, wrapped, shoved, boiled, squeezed, drenched, heated and scrubbed.  Was it an easy, quick process?  No.  It took time to transform them from something that could turn rotten to something beautiful, filled with sweetness!  The trials in our lives can act like that for us as well if we turn to the Lord.

Hebrews 12:10-11 discusses trials, "[He chasens us] for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."  So, basically, we're given trials not so the Lord can see us suffer just for kicks, but so that we can find the peace that righteousness can bring even during trials.  It's truly difficult to believe sometimes.  

This past week, I had an extremely difficult time believing it myself.  This past year has been pretty difficult, and it all came boiling out of me this past weekend.  My mom and another friend passed away.  A friend of mine, who I respected and trusted, landed in jail for some unspeakable crimes.  I've seen 2 friends go through messy divorces, and had a friend who's younger than me develop a brain tumor.  I felt like life as I knew it had been cut out from underneath me.  I was wrapped in anger and rage for all the pain I felt and seen the past few months.  I envisioned God shoving me around and squeezing all happiness out of me.  I questioned whether God loved me or anyone else. I've never before doubted His love, but I felt quite sure he couldn't care one bit about me after going through such a rotten year.  Tears squeezed from my eyes from the pressure of the pain I felt.

As my tears subsided, I finally hit my knees in prayer for the first time in a while.  As I prayed I still felt anger, but felt slow changes.  I began to feel sweetness filling in where rotten bitterness had resided.  It wasn't instantaneous.  It took time for me to work through.  In fact, I'm still working through it, but I'm beginning to gain some understanding.  It's been extremely difficult.  I know as I continue to work through the pain and frustration, the Lord will continue filling me with beautiful, sweet peace that only He can bring.

Chocolate Craving

Last night, my sister invited my family, and a small army of friends over to her home for a lovely fondue party.  (She makes up in entertaining where I've severely slacked over the last few years, but I digress).  In case you couldn't tell from the picture, my son likes, adores, craves, drinks by the gallon, is fond of, LOVES chocolate.  If I would allow him, he would eat chocolate all day, every day.  So, this fondue party was right up his alley.  He parked his little self directly in front of the fondue fountain and made himself at home.  He speared marshmallows, strawberries, pineapples with his toothpick and dunked them one by one into the fondue fountain.  He was thoroughly enjoying himself, and making quite a mess.  At one point, he grabbed a HUGE strawberry (which is another favorite food that he will eat by the truckload).  He took that enormous strawberry and made sure it got as much chocolate on it as possible.  Then, he proceeded to shove almost the whole thing in his mouth.  It was so big that part of it stuck outside his mouth, dripping chocolate all down his chin, shirt, and the floor.  Needless to say, the 10 people who were in the kitchen were getting quite the chuckle out of just how much he enjoyed the chocolate strawberry.  I finally gave up on his shirt (it was white, big mistake on my part) and just took it off.  I put it close to my purse, which was in the other room, and started chatting with a few friends who were in that room leaving my son to his very capable devices.  A few minutes later, my shirtless, sweet, chocolate-covered little boy came to me.  In a sad voice, he said,  "Mommy, I don't want those people to laugh at me."  I reassured him that they weren't laughing at him, but were just enjoying how much he was loving the chocolate.  I walked back into the kitchen with him and noticed that everyone tried their best to keep a straight face.  He was comforted,  went back to the fountain and ate until his belly was full of joy. 

In Jeremiah 15:16 we read, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart..."  His words bring joy when we are feasting on them!  I've compared my eating (studying) of the scriptures to how my son was getting his chocolate fix.  Do I devour it, loving every minute, and find extreme joy in it?  Or do I nibble, eating only what's necessary to survive or do I decline it all together thinking I'll make time for it later (going the anorexic route)?  Honestly, I jump between the categories, sometimes devouring, sometimes nibbling, and sometimes thinking, "Hmm, when was the last time I read His words?" As Christians, we may find that we are made fun of or laughed at if we read His words, as my son perceived he was being laughed at while devouring his chocolate treasures.  It's hard, but if we seek out our Father as my son sought me, He will comfort us.  He will always bring us to the sweet things because He loves us.  He knows what will bring us the ultimate joy and His word will bring us to it.