31 December, 2010

Bananas and Chocolate - Proof of My Imperfection

A title like that around this time of year may conjur thoughts of weight-loss programs and rabbit-food salads. Neither is accurate in my case. Tonight it was the prescription for a case of parental abdication...

It is New Year's Eve. With a two-year-old and an eight-month-old, you can understand that New Year's Eve consists of a steak dinner at home after bedtime, a sip of bubbly whenever we decide it's midnight, and a VERY chaste kiss so as to avoid any extra "blessings" in the new year. However the bananas came long before dinner.

Perhaps it is the snow or several days at home with the WHOLE family, but John Ross has a terrible case of cabin-fever. Like I've never seen before. It is something out of my nightmares. After 3 time-outs, one swat on the tush, and several talkings to, my son was still riding his sister, stealing toys, and biting me.

And that is when he found me. Kevin found me in the mama fetal position. For those of you unfamiliar with this position it includes some version of sitting on the floor (in my case on the stool in the kitchen), banana in hand, my face nose first in a ramekin full of melted chocolate.

The last words I remember saying before sitting down to post this are, "I'm done. It's over. You need to get in there and wrestle with your son! He needs to be put in his place by an alpha dog that is clearly NOT his mama!!!"

Point being, none of us are perfect. My greatest health-concious will-power could not overcome the pressures of a completely unrelated mama-meltdown. It happens. And I will enjoy my steak, potatoes, and mushrooms with no more guilt than before the bananas incident. That is, if I make it there. My daughter is currently practicing pat-a-cake with my netbook cord in hand...

14 December, 2010

What Works: The Gratitude List - Busted Halo

Click the title above for a great gratitude practice during this season of generosity!!!

07 December, 2010

What Advice Would You Give Yourself 16 Years Ago?

Click the post title above for a wonderful letter by Catholic author and mother Danielle Bean to herself 16 years ago.

It was a good reminder as I sit here preparing for a council meeting to start and my hubby is wading knee deep in diapers and dinner. There is an ideal and there is a beauty in everything less than the ideal.

06 December, 2010

The Journey to Bethlehem: Our Journey to Christmas

It is the 2nd week of Advent. What are you thinking about? The temptation is to think about the things of the holiday season. Gifts, toys, parties, meals, travel plans, weather systems, money, and family. While one cannot live outside of society, one can certainly place the pressures of society in the correct order of priority. You can be sure that on her journey to Bethlehem Mary was thinking about things of the world. A place to sleep, food, being away from her family, birthing plans, clothing for Jesus (Jesus did arrive as a baby…diapers and burp cloths seem pretty universal to the experience); there is no question that Mary was anxious about the arrival of her son.

Perhaps it is important for us to remember that anxiety during Advent is okay. Perhaps we need to give ourselves permission to enter into the experience of the Holy Family on their journey to Joseph’s hometown. We are not so unlike the Holy Family.

And that goes for our trust in God too. We CAN imitate the trust Mary and Joseph had in God’s plan. We CAN trust that God will provide for our journey. It does not take a saint to reach a place of holiness. It just takes a little bit of time to listen to God. You CAN do it.

Though we may be called to monumental tasks of patience and generosity this holiday season, may we share in Mary’s proclamation, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior!”

04 December, 2010

Farms and Barns and the Love of God

I find myself travelling to the far reaches of our diocese about once a month. While it can sometimes be a bit intimidating to navigate the small country roads, I find great joy in my solitary drives and the simplicity of the wholesome country I drive through.

After today's presentation at a church in Sturgeon Bay, I hopped back in the car with my eyes set on the road less taken. My destination: A little farm market near Algoma, Wisconsin. My goal: The final items for a local Christmas food basket.

After finding my items (and shhh...a few extra that will come in handy for tomorrow's celebration of the Feast of St. Nicholas), I found myself taking county road after country road to make my way back to the highway. Hands bundled in mittens with Bing Crosby crooning "Adeste Fideles", I drove past family farm after family barn. A light blustering of snowflakes accompained me as I drove and thought about a simpler time.

I reminiced the days of my youth when we lived out in the country and used to take drives to see family friends. How I loved the dark drives home with warm cocoa in our bellies and Garrison Keillor on the radio. The only lights were barn spotlights and the colorful holiday lights of some of our country neighbors. When the show was over, Dad would switch on the crackling remastering of Bing Crosby on CD. I would look out the car window at the stars and find myself wondering where God was "up there". How was it that Jesus was born? How did Jesus get from Heaven to earth? How could I possibly celebrate the birth of Jesus when it was so long ago?

Then we would arrive home. Mom would open the door and the cold chill of the winter wind would come rushing in and the overhead car light would sharply interrupt the dark quiet that had taken root in my soul. My mind was drawn to the practical things of finding my shoes, helping my younger sisters to the house, and making my way to bed without a fuss.

Nowadays, I live in that place of "practical things" more often than I would like. A college degree, a marriage, a home, and two children later, I find less and less time for the wonderings, and wanderings, of life. I suppose to some knowledge and experience brings comfort and a sense of preparation for the unexpected. Much as a cherish my education and the journey of my life thus far, I find that the more I learn the less I realize I know. Frankly, the less I want to know.

Today God and I got to talk like we used to talk. I asked my Father questions and He listened patiently, tangents and all, and offered His perspective. I simply got to be...to be loved...and to love back in all wonder.

What a great gift as we approach the feast of St. Nicholas. What a great gift indeed.

03 December, 2010

Tradition: Movies, Burgers, and Spoons

This post is a bit belated considering we received 12 inches of snow during a major blizzard this weekend, but I wanted to write about our perfect first snowfall none the less.

Here in Green Bay, we got a 1-2 inch dusting the first week of December. It happened to be a Wednesday date night and Kevin and I were scheduled to go see the newest Harry Potter movie. Recently Kevin has been quite insistent that we shake up our date night routine which has come to include mostly just dinner. The movie was good although I'm definitely not a Potter die-hard. Even though we had polished off a large popcorn and Diet Pepsi, somehow we still felt the need for dinner. With only 45 minutes before our babysitter went "off-duty" we decided to make a quick stop in at Culvers.

$8 later we found ourselves sitting in a nearly empty restaurant surrounded by gaudy tinsel, hanging snowflakes, and pictures frames haphazardly wrapped as Christmas presents. We sat quietly in our booth listening to George Straight espouse the joys of the season while we watched the snow fall outside.

It really felt like the beginning or end of a "partners for life" movie or television show. The camera zooms in (or out) on the unlikely couple in the diner eating a random assortment of breakfast and comfort foods and laughing gently at the events of the day.

That's Kevin and I. Unlikely partners for life. Our love story is one for the movies. I don't mean the anecdotal romantic comedy, but the journey of two strange birds indy film. God took two independent old-souls and gifted them with His will to love one another. Then he added two little souls, one with dimples and the other with a crooked smile. All slightly impish, there are days when I feel like we should live in hobit's hollow somewhere! And there are those that would call our charming home just that...:)

After a wonderful date night we returned home to our hollow to complete our family tradition for the first snow. The day of the first "real" snow (meaning it sticks) we end the day with a cup of hot cocoa and my porcelain snowman spoons.

It may not be the most elaborate of traditions. It may not be the most desirable of traditions. But for us, it is not the action, but the repetion that allows us a few moments to reflect on the journey and blessings behind us.

This year I think we've learned that perhaps traditions can grow. At this time next year maybe you'll find us at a local Culvers enjoying a burger and the everyday holiness that is our lives.

01 December, 2010

Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie!

John Ross and his Irish buddy Ian watching the big trucks pick up leaves!

It's snowing here in Green Bay!!!!! The roads are covered and John Ross spent his entire breakfast (2 bowls of cereal and a container of yogurt) gazing out the dining room window and repeating "Whoa..." The first snow is a good day here at the Boerschinger home. But, I digress...

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday at our home. Kevin spent many years deprived of turkey because it was the preferred meat at his family home. I believe in a full turkey dinner with all of the fixings. Most, if not all, is homemade.

The thing with a homemade Thanksgiving at our house is that there are TONS of leftovers in various proportions. Howeve, when it comes to Thanksgiving, I cannot justify throwing anything out. I believe in using everything to its fullest capacity to respect the gift of food we've been given. I start by making turkey stock with the carcass and move on to soup with the stock and leftover meat and turkey paninis and cranberry sauce. Then the ingredients start to dwindle a bit...To avoid eating a final lonely lunch of stuffing and squishy corn, I came up with a new recipe this year!

Cue the Thanksgiving shepherd's pie!

The Irish tradition of shepherd's pie is at its simplest a deep dish of meat and vegetables smothered with a gravy-like sauce and topped with a thick layer of toasted mashed potatoes.

Ours consisted of leftover corn, leftover stuffing, chopped turkey (dark meat), leftover green bean casserole, and leftover gravy. I topped it with our leftover mashed potatoes which this year were made of sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, parsnips, butter, sour cream, heavy cream and chives. I warmed it all in the oven for about 30 minutes at about 375 and then cranked it up to about 425 to toast the top of the potatoes.

Everybody loved it! It was so yummy that this mama doesn't even mind the prospect of eating it for lunch every day this week.

I think the trick for us busy mamas who want to save time and money is to revisit the classic dishes and flavors and tweak them just slightly to fit whatever is in our pantry. Or perhaps leftover containers...