Sunday, December 22, 2013

To the Mom Who Brought Wonder Woman to Church

Image credit: Cayusa on Flickr

Dear Mama,

I saw you duck your head as you entered, embarrassed that the singing had already begun.  It's OK.  Getting little ones out of the house takes longer than you expect some days.  I was just delighted that you and your little girls made it!

You bit your lip and winced when you realized that all the pews in the back half were full and that you would have to go nearer the front.  You weren't distracting the others.  They smiled as you and your three year old knelt down and were happy to scoot over and give you more room.

When your five year old pulled off her coat, revealing a Wonder Woman dress and purple sweat pants in all their glory, I could see you thinking again that it wasn't appropriate for church.  Oh, mama!  First of all, I have kids with SPD and I know very well what it is like when every single item of clothing they own suddenly doesn't feel right.  Here is the most important thing: she had put on joy, love and a tender and open spirit.  She has plenty of time to adapt to social conventions of what is appropriate.  What I saw was a pure heart that was happy to be there, and that is far more important.  Seriously--if you had pushed the issue, and forced her to change, it would only have meant that you both arrived in a bad mood (if you arrived at all!).  And finally, she was totally rockin' the sparkly shoes with her outfit!

Her eyes lit up when she saw the purple and gold robe the priest was wearing--her favorite color!  When she and your three year old began to pray along with the congregation, my heart melted.  I chuckled inside when the littlest one began to clap, even though no one else was clapping.  Although they can't read yet, they turned the pages in the hymnal and tried to imitate the adults, and it reminded me of a couple of girls about that age who used to close their eyes and raise their hands in worship.  They weren't sure why, but they saw the grown ups doing it and thought it must be important.  During the homily, they looked around, and their eyes sparkled just like the stained glass windows they were admiring.

I could see your shoulders tense up a little at the wriggling, and knew that you were worried about their behavior.  I wasn't.  And that is why I pulled my arms around you and whispered in your ear, "Shame off you!  My house is a place of grace, not shame."

"And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  ~ Matthew 18:3 NIV

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Even when they come dressed as Wonder Woman.

With all my love,



I know that some people will feel uncomfortable that I signed God's name to this.  It is not done in any spirit of irreverence.  You see, I was that frazzled mom this morning, and I believe that this is what He told me.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Prepper-ish: A List for Those Who Are Not Too Worried, but Want to Skip the Stores (Bonus Cookie Recipe!)

Oatmeal Cookies
Image credit: Paul martin on Flickr
As a winter storm barreled our way this morning, one of my favorite writers, SortaCrunchy, asked what we were doing to prepare.  I mentioned that we didn't do much beyond baking a double batch of our favorite dark chocolate walnut oatmeal cookies, because we are prepper-ish.  In other words, you will never see us on a reality TV show, and we would be in deep doodoo if a disaster lasted beyond a couple of weeks, but we also get to avoid the panicked crowds at the store before the occasional ice storm.  So, if you want to be reasonably prepared in case of a minor emergency, but have no interest in Youtube videos about the coming apocalypse, this post is for you.

Our pantry staples:
  • Several cases of bottled water (enough to last our family of six and pets for several days)
  • Several bags of chocolate chips (seriously, we do not want to endure stress without chocolate)
  • Plenty of coffee (ditto)
  • Several cans of sweetened condensed milk for the aforementioned coffee
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bags
  • Salsa
  • Flour
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Vanilla
  • Oatmeal
  • Candles
  • Lighters and matches, flashlights and batteries
  • Any meds
  • Beans and rice, because we like them
  • Cocoa and tea
  • Dish soap
  • Canned goods that we actually like, mainly tomatoes 
  • Pet food
  • Applesauce
  • Pasta
  • Parmesan cheese
  • precooked shelf stable bacon
  • chicken broth
  • Folex (a miracle worker for cleaning anything, especially if you can't do laundry for a few days)
  • plain bleach
  • chiles
  • salt
Our freezer staples:
  • ground beef
  • chicken
  • cream
  • frozen fruit
  • butter (I have a Paula Deen streak, y'all, and I also stock up on pastured butter during the spring and summer and then stick it in the freezer so that I have it year round)
  • bread
Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, but you likely noticed the prevalence of comfort foods.  I know that there is the idea that if you are starving, you will eat anything, but it isn't true, and we have kids, and honestly--if I am already stressed out and in an emergency situation, I need my coffee and chocolate.   Similarly, I am not optimistic enough to think that that will be a great time to try to convince my children that canned spinach is going to be delicious.  So I only stock things that we already enjoy and would use, which means we are limited on the veggies, but most spaghetti sauces have veggies, or you can do some V-8 or something.  And though I know how gross Velveeta is, it lasts forever and makes really good cheese dip, so I keep a box or two and some Rotel on hand as a special treat.  Think of your favorite foods and plan from there.

Although water is the biggie, I also want plenty of flavored beverages in case we need to boil water later on.  In Haiti, we added a few drops of bleach to the water and boiled it to make it safe for drinking, then disguised the taste by making it into strong coffee with lovely Haitian vanilla.  Tea or cocoa can be used if you aren't into coffee or just want a variety.

Since we have dealt with egg and dairy allergies in the past, I am not too worried about eggs and milk (and applesauce can make a good egg substitute for baking).  

We also keep an extra can of propane for our grill in case we need to use it for cooking.

For any minor medical emergencies, having four kidlets means that we are pretty well stocked, but I try to make sure we have plenty of the basics: essential oils, bandaids, pain reliever, allergy meds, burn ointment, etc.

Make sure that all phones, etc, are fully charged, and there are even some neat solar chargers and other fun things if you are worried about being without electricity for a considerable period.

Books, of course.

Our little ones are now weaned, and out of diapers (praise Him!), but you would obviously want to have extra diapers in their sizes, wipes, and any other baby needs.

I have a diva cup and cloth pads.  Although I am not a fan of the diva normally, I would totally go with it in this scenario.

The FEMA site has some helpful guidelines for building your own emergency kits here.

The good thing is that you don't have to stock up all at once.  An extra case of toilet paper here, and few extra cans of tomatoes there, a $4 case of water this week, an extra bag of chocolate chips next week go a long way without breaking the budget. 

As we cozy up with extra blankies, a movie and cookies, I am really glad that I won't have to fight anyone at the store or be around well-meaning but inept drivers on icy roads for the next few days.

Now, for our favorite cookie recipe.  I suck at giving recipes because I am of the throw-it-together-till-it-looks-right school of measurement, but this one is nearly impossible to screw up.  I used to do a GF/EF/DF version, and it always turned out great!

2 C flour
2 C regular oats
1 1/3 C honey or sugar
1 1/2 C dark chocolate chips (we love the 60% cacao Ghiradelli, but any is fine)
1 C walnuts
1 rounded tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks melted butter
1 egg
generous glug of vanilla
a splash of milk if needed

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix dry ingredients together (if you use honey, save it for the wet ingredients).  Melt butter and let cool just enough so that it won't melt the chocolate or cook your egg.  Add in the egg, vanilla, honey and stir, then blend with the dry ingredients.  It should be thick enough to hold its shape, but thoroughly moistened.  If you need to (basically if you used sugar instead of honey), add a splash of milk.  Scoop into golf-ball sized balls and put on a cookie sheet.  Back about 15 minutes or until the edges are golden.  Then enjoy the sound of the storm on your windows with a good book, cookies and coffee.  :)