Friday, November 30, 2012

a walk to bethlehem…

The end of another week. A quick chicken noodle soup coming together on the stove, Baby Ben playing at my feet, Evan carefully stacking Legos at the kitchen table, a groggy Seth upstairs trying to wake up from his rare afternoon nap.

I get dinner on the table right as David walks in the door, and we tell the boys that we have something special planned for tonight. Coats on, shoes and socks found, and we’re piled into the van for a drive north of town. Traffic is bad, and we realize that the boys aren’t used to traffic jams. A chance to teach and explain about patience, and a time to have a family singalong of Christmas hymns.

We turn into a dark church parking lot and follow waving men with directional signals. Boys tumble out of car seats and run into the family life center. We are sorted into Jewish tribes and given plastic coins for our temple tax. We sign our names for the census.

People mill around tables of cookies and cocoa, waiting. The boys giggle and push a fussy Ben around in his stroller. They crawl under tables. I get increasingly tense as they get increasingly rowdy.

And then our tribe is called. Costumed interpreters usher us upstairs. We walk out of the building in the cold night. It’s smoky, and we hear Middle Eastern music and see lit torches on either side of our path. The boys instantly get quiet and alert. The atmosphere has changed.

We are led through different scenes. People leading sheep walk past us. We are offered fruit and cloth from street vendors. We are bullied by Roman soldiers and told to keep moving to Bethlehem. Evan holds our hands tightly and tells us that he doesn’t like them.

We stand in Herod’s court and watch his exchange with the Wise Men. He is a good actor, and the boys talk later about how mean he is.

Above it all, we see a bright star hanging over us. I wonder silently how many church members risked their lives to get it up that incredibly tall tree. Seth looks up and it, and I see wonder on his face.

We end at the stable and the babe in the manger. We are encouraged to go and tell the world that Messiah has come, and then we are back in the parking lot, slightly disoriented.

Seth tells me that he is so glad that we came. The boys talk about what they have seen all the way home. I ask them if Herod would’ve killed our baby boy if he had lived then. They discuss the many ways that they would protect Baby Ben from him. They all involve hitting and swords and one involves a giant bat.

David and I decide that Martin Luther King Jr. did something pretty amazing when he got people to protest non-violently. Violent retaliation seems to be pretty ingrained in human nature, even from a young age.

At bedtime, I give my baby a bottle and look into his beautiful blue green eyes. I croon “Away in a Manger” to him, and he snuggles close, tucking his tiny hands between his chest and mine. I give him an extra hug and kiss, thankful that we don’t live in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

‘Tis the season to make Christmas memories. Let the celebration of His coming begin….

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crockpot red beans and rice….


I just made this for dinner, and it was wonderful. Seriously, one of the best crockpot recipes I’ve ever made…  I adapted this from “Slow Cooker Revolution,” and I think I may buy the book now…

2 onions, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

6 cloves minced garlic

1 T. vegetable oil

1/2 t. dried thyme

2 t. sweet paprika

1/4 t. cayenne pepper

5 c. chicken broth (I used a carton, and then did 1 c. of water and bouillon)

1 lb. dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight

1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced

2 bay leaves

1 big or 2 small green peppers, chopped

3/4 c. long grain rice

salt and pepper to taste

a splash of red wine vinegar

The night before you make this, dump your dried beans in your crockpot and cover with about 2 inches of water. Cut up your onions and celery, and put them and the minced garlic, oil, thyme, paprika, and cayenne in a glass bowl. Stir, cover, and put in the fridge. Cut up the sausage and put it in a ziploc in the fridge.

In the morning, drain off the water from your beans, rinse, and drain again. Take that glass bowl of veggies and spices, put it in the microwave, and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Throw that in the crockpot with the beans. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, and sausage. Cook on low for 9 hours.

During the last 1/2 hour of cooking, add in the chopped green pepper and the rice. Turn the crockpot up to high. When the time is up, cut off the crockpot, add a dash of salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Ben is sitting on my lap quietly. His hair smells faintly of vomit from the baby tent that he insists on napping in, even though it still smells of vomit. A thorough cleaning with many, many Lysol wipes and time outside in the fresh air only did so much, I guess.

We woke up to the vomit tent and pukey baby yesterday. He’s been sitting listlessly in laps quite a bit since then, forehead hot from running a low grade fever.

David was home for Veteran’s Day on Monday (thank you, God, for government holidays), so I took the big boys to their first homeschool gymnastics class anyway. They’d already missed the first one of the month because of colds. Evan’s “happy” of the day at dinner last night was that he got to jump in the foam pit. His “saddy” was that he didn’t get to do a somersault. Next week, big boy. Seth prayed this morning that God would let him know when we’re going back to gymnastics.

I’m letting them watercolor at the kitchen table while I type. There may be a time when this isn’t stress inducing, but now is not it. Evan’s paper gets soaked through in about 2.4 seconds, and there’s a reason why the paper towels are next to him, biding their time.

We’re all about steam and force and the water cycle in homeschool right now. It’s “Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel” week. High point so far? Bouncing around as gas molecules, huddling into a tightly packed ball when Mommy yells “Become a solid!”, and flowing around when she yells “Liquid!” Low point? The pinwheel will not turn when held next to a steam kettle, no matter what angle I hold it at. I think that experiment must be a cruel joke.

Energy levels are low around here. I’ve hit one of those points in the life cycle of a mom of littles when daily living feels like slogging through mud. I can still enjoy the beauty of the moments, but I wonder when I’ll ever feel rested and full of energy again. David and I use every minute of our meager rest times to rest, and the living room furniture slowly gets covered in a fine layer of dust.

It’s almost naptime. They’re all going down soon, and I’m going to gulp in the quiet with my cup of tea and my book… Evan just spilled the water. I’m outta here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

…. and this one…

Quoted on the Circe Institute Blog (via Brandy at Afterthoughts)…

Since Thucydides describes the rule of Pericles as an aristocratical government, that went by the name of a democracy, but was, indeed, the supremacy of a single great man, while many others say, on the contrary, that by him the common people were first encouraged and led on to such evils as appropriations of subject territory; allowances for attending theatres, payments for performing public duties, and by these bad habits were, under the influence of his public measures, changed from a sober, thrifty people, that maintained themselves by their own labors, to lovers of expense, intemperance, and license, let us examine the cause of this change by the actual matters of fact.”

Busy days lately, so I haven’t had time to write a real blog post on my actual everyday life. I’ll get to it eventually.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

my thoughts on the 2012 election…

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential cause of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.”--Will Durant in Caesar and Christ