22 December 2008

tiny threads

This has been one of those days. It has been one of those months.

December began where November left off: with a broken dryer and wet laundry strewn about nearly every surface of my house. Thankfully, a high-rolling co-ed spent two full days and nights out on the town and generated some much-needed income for 303 Sedan. The unfortunate thing is that he paid with a stolen credit card. Yeah.

It's been COLD lately. I mean high temperatures in the teens cold. Not the best time for the heater to break in Sally (one of the town cars). Well, as you may have guessed, it did. Then last week, after we received news from down the street of another lay-off and from California of yet another untimely death, the fuel pump in Mabel (my truck) - the fuel pump we have put off fixing for nearly a year - it died too. Again, not great timing with bills to pay, mouths to feed, Christmas around the corner and virtually NO money coming in.

Nevertheless, I've kept my head up. I've tried hard not to be distracted by what isn't and to focus on what is. I've been optimistic, creative and resourceful. I've had faith. I've believed. And I've watched God provide.

Then today, I lost my wallet.

After two-and-a-half hours of hoping, retracing and obsessing - on an empty stomach in December's bitter cold - the perspective, the optimism, the resilience - it all went out the window. I returned to Betty (our last-car-standing), and I cried. No, I sobbed.

"Lord, I'm all done. I can't do this any more," I wailed through tears and snot and sadness. "I want to believe. I want to hope. I want to persevere. But what else? How much more?"

I can't believe I lost my wallet. I can't BELIEVE I lost my wallet.

I have to believe there is goodness, right? I have to continue to have hope, don't I? If I don't, what else do I have? So in the depths of me I've been clinging to the tiniest of tiny threads. Tonight, I haven't been making and wrapping the last of our Christmas gifts as I had originally planned. Instead, I've been talking to God (and to bankers and to creditors and to customer service folks). Deep down I've been wishing and hoping and praying for a miracle.

Well, about an hour ago he showed up at my front door.

With my wallet.

10 December 2008

and while we're on the topic...

I decided to devote some time yesterday to writing... yeah. Well, now it's today and here I am with thirty minutes, a tall glass of water, a desktop computer and my thoughts - my random, precious and constant thoughts...


That's what's on my mind; that's what you get.

Now, this is no meaningless post about a bland breakfast food. To the contrary, this is a post about one of the greatest rediscoveries of my adult life. I'm serious. I hated it too when I was a kid, but thankfully I threw those instant, brown, sugar-laden packs away, and I gave it another shot. I encourage you to do the same.

I had a bowl of Oatmeal for breakfast today. Again. And a good bet is that it will likely accompany whatever I decide to eat tomorrow... and the day after that. I literally have to force myself to eat something else every few days; I absolutely love the stuff. LOVE it. It is warm and hearty and healthy and tasty, and it is an exceptional way to start the day. Almost every variety tickles my fancy - thick oats, rolled oats, steel cut oats, Irish oats (oh my!). Just steer clear of the instant, one-minute kind (it's a texture thing).

Boring? I think not. I
just change up the company. A half grapefruit and a hard-boiled egg. A mandarin and two veggie links. Plain yogurt with mixed berries. Ricotta with strawberries and bananas. A little turkey-bacon and fresh melon... I could go on.

And then there is the oatmeal itself. The possibilities are endless. Lauren likes to add canned pumpkin. Throw in some nutmeg, pumpkin seeds and a touch of honey (yum!!). My kiddos are big fans of applesauce and cinnamon or peanut butter, milk, flax seeds and raisins (cranberries... not so much!). Paul periodically enjoys a trail mix blend with raisins, nuts and seeds, and my absolute favorite (write this down) is a half-cup of good ole' Quaker oats, a cup of water, a good shake of cinnamon, a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt and two and a half minutes on high in the microwave (make sure your bowl is big enough). When it's all steamy and dreamy and cooked, add two tablespoons of raisins, a tablespoon of flax seeds, a tablespoon of Udo's oil blend and a little more water. OH MY GOODNESS... I'm salivating.

Now, I love scrambled eggs as much as the next girl. Cereal? Yeah, I'll do that on occasion too. And believe you me, I make a mean breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito. But Oatmeal? In my humble opinion, it is the true breakfast of champions - good for your heart; good for your soul. I'm definitely sticking to it.

Two minutes left, and now I'm hungry. I think I'll go. But for all you cereal-devotees out there, who gave up on oatmeal long ago or who insist there is not enough time, may I urge you to give it another try? FIVE MINUTES is all you need.

Here's to breakfast. Off to make lunch...

02 December 2008

a breakfast story

In the quiet and darkness of this morning, I peeled back my sheets, got dressed, folded a load of laundry and went to the gym. Nearly eight hours ago, my day humbly began – with silence. With laundry.

“How was your workout?” Paul asked with a kiss, as I returned home to find that the darkness and stillness from earlier this morning had faded into the hustle and bustle of mid-morning pre-preschool. He, still in his jammies, and my cutely-dressed kiddos were on their way upstairs to brush hair and teeth.

“It was good, REALLY good. I’ll make breakfast.”

With a growling stomach, I hung up my jacket and headed for the kitchen.

FRIDGE: Two packed lunches, four-and-a-half bottles of milk (thank you Longmont Dairy Farm), four eggs, a little block of cheese, one slice of bread, two mandarins, homemade cranberry sauce, leftover Thanksgiving gravy (into the sink you go), orange juice, assorted vegetables and condiments, lots of condiments.

PANTRY: cereal… gone; tomato sauce, mushroom soup, olives, artichoke hearts, brown rice, wild rice, whole wheat pasta and a king-sized bag of rolled oats.

Money’s been tight. Pickins are slim. Oatmeal it is.

“Momma, I’m hungry.” Cole said as he appeared from nowhere.

Upstairs I heard running water and the thud of the shower door. “Cole, will you run upstairs and ask dada if he would like breakfast?” He went.

OK, breakfast. Here we go…

Piping hot oatmeal - sprinkled with cinnamon and a dash of salt - soaked in dairy-fresh milk and topped with fresh mandarin-cranberry sauce and oven-toasted walnuts. On the side, an egg, hard-boiled and sliced to perfection, coupled with a tall glass of orange juice, straight from the dairy farm bottle… Beautiful.

Pleased and proud, I summoned my kids to the table, placed the masterpieces upon it and then turned on my heels back toward the kitchen.


I turned back to discover my children now sitting at the table: Maya, ruddy-faced with welling eyes, and a dumbfounded Cole staring into his plastic bowl. No, this wasn’t mom-you-are-amazing speechlessness. And no, these weren’t tears of profound joy and thanks. Rather, this was “what-about-our-vitamins” silence and “I-don’t-like-nuts-in-my-oatmeal” tears.


After a swift scolding, my children chimed in unison, “Thank you for breakfast momma.”

Right. It was hard to hear past the crescendo of my rapidly boiling blood and grumbling belly.

“It’s not a big deal,” I silently quelled myself, and returned to the kitchen to gladly and selflessly prepare breakfast for my husband.

TAKE TWO: Piping hot oatmeal - dusted with cinnamon and a dash of salt - soaked in dairy-fresh milk, delicately drizzled with agave nectar, and lovingly topped with fresh mandarin-cranberry sauce and oven-toasted walnuts. On the side: a hard-boiled egg sparingly seasoned with sea salt and coupled with a tall glass of ice-cold orange juice, straight from the dairy farm bottle. Yes, that does it. Now, perfection.

In walks a freshly showered, shaved and sweet smelling Paul toward the table.

“What’s this?” he asked with a contorted face, as if on cue.

“It’s oatmeal,” I responded.

“Yes, but what’s on top of it,” he continued.

“Cranberry sauce,” I replied matter-of-factly, with my back now to him.

“Do you mind if I take it off. I don’t like cranberries,” he explained.

Beside myself, I push the door of the microwave closed (a little harder than necessary) and forcefully cleared the remnants of my handiwork into the sink.

“You guys are AWESOME.” I sardonically mumble.

We exchanged a few more words, before I left the kitchen and headed for the shower. “Thank you for breakfast,” I think Paul said at some point.

Defeated, I stood in the shower, and let my mind stew on all the snotty things I could have, should have said: “Oh, me? I'm fine, thanks for asking... Oh that? Don’t mind the noise, that’s just my stomach… Gosh, I wonder where the kids get it? You know what would be really fantastic? Why don’t you leave all your dirty dishes in the sink, or better yet, how about on the table?!”


My day started out with washing and folding the last of yesterday’s SEVEN loads of laundry. This particular load was comprised of too many urine-soaked shorts and sheets (Cole had FOUR accidents in one day) and cleaner-soaked rags and towels to count. I get home to hear everyone whine about being hungry, yet no one has happened to notice that I’ve been up for over three hours and haven’t eaten a thing! Now, I’m in the shower – pissed off and starving – and they are all downstairs , nourished and fed by MY GROSS OATMEAL!!! I don’t even know what to do with myself.

I think I’ll blog.

I returned to the sight of the debacle a bit ago to find a cleared table and an empty sink. So here I sit – laptop in lap and my house silent once again. Now, a little perspective…

So, they didn’t like my oatmeal.

Yes, I cleaned all day yesterday, and I woke up early this morning – by choice. I didn’t have to find places about my house to hang damp laundry. Instead, I enjoyed an extra hour of sleep and got to fold “piping-hot” clothes out of a newly fixed dryer – the one I have gone without for nearly two weeks. My son – WHO NO LONGER WEARS DIAPERS – is going through a crappy (literally. OK, not literally-literally… you know what I mean) phase, that will end as quickly as it began. He has clothes to wear, a bed in which to sleep and at age three, he knows the value of vitamins and healthy breakfast. My daughter is attuned, astute and she almost always remembers to say thank you (even if it is a little late). She came to say goodbye before she left for the day, then returned to give me an extra hug and kiss before she braved another Tuesday at preschool. She loves to learn. She’s growing. She’s FOUR!! My husband stayed with the kids this morning – as he does almost every morning – so that I could get a workout, a really good workout. He got the kids ready and dressed, he made our bed (hallelujah), he took our kids to school and now he’s out working so that we can eventually restock the pantry and fridge… in my huge kitchen… in my warm, beautiful and blessed house. And now I sit – with a warm cup of tea, after a warm shower and a warm (delicious) breakfast – writing.

It’s oatmeal, Abi. Oatmeal.

You know what would have been better? A little apricot... or raisins. Maybe nutmeg? Ginger? Darn it, I forgot to give Paul his orange juice. I bet it’s still in the fridge… Yep.

I’ve got to put away the rest of Cole’s laundry.