Merlot Mudpies

Can a blog be about gardening, cancer, family, food and life all at the same time? Oh good.

Glee Mixed with Joy Equals… September 10, 2009

Filed under: family,friends,love,parenting,thanks — Mary @ 3:14 pm

This is also why he fell asleep mid-chew on Sunday night in the middle of a blaring restaurant.


Ten Widdow Mon-teys, Yumpin’onna Bed August 18, 2009

Today I had a blast with Eamonn.  Do you know what we were doing?  We were cleaning.

We’re in week two of no channels on the TV and a lovely thing has happened — he’s started not to miss TV.  This morning he asked me, “Mom — would you play music on the TV?”  We don’t have a stereo and my iPod really only plays through headphones or in the car.  But we have a game console that will let me stream music from my computer or play off of a CD.  So we listened to worship music while he played with Legos and I put dinner into the crock pot.  Later in the day when we got home from running various errands around town neither of us even paused at the TV as we came through the door.  Rather, we lugged a toy cubby that I’d gotten from my sister-in-law in trade for a trike Eamonn never rode into Eamonn’s room and began sorting his toys into the various cubby holes.  He loved it.

“I have a ball!  This is an instrument, Mom!  Here is another train piece!”  We sorted through his toys which were in a big jumble in his wagon and gave them all homes.  As we rifled through his things we began to find monkey from a long-forgotten barrel of monkeys and started singing the “10 Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed” song together.  When Eamonn sings it, it goes, “10 widdow mon-teys, yumpin’onna bed…”  My heart nearly exploded with love several times and I kept thinking, “How did I miss the nuances of how much fun all of this could be?”  I’d fallen into this bad habbit of rushing through every aspect of the day and using TV to babysit while I did things quickly that, given a little more time, we could have done slowly and joyfully together while we talked and laughed and played.

I am not looking for reassurances that I’m a good mom or that everyone makes mistakes like this and gets caught up in the hurry and bustle.  I do know those things are true.  But here’s the other thing that’s true:  My hustle and bustle was a sign of some grave sin that has needed to be dealt with for quite a while now, and the Lord has gently and graciously let me see this as He’s also gently and graciously shown me some ways I could change the pattern.  I know we don’t like that word, “sin”.  But let’s call it what it is in my case.  Waste is a woeful category into which I so often and so easily fall.

The overall message that’s been ringing loud and clear in both my heart and my ears the last few months is that I have much to learn about stewardship of my time, my monetary and material resources, and the gift of a child.  This has come in various ways: realizing how much food waste was going on in my own home at my own hands without my realizing it; the natural progression from that realization to a hard look at the rest of my money flow; struggling to find time to sort these things then causing me to realize how much time waste there is, as well.  I want to learn to use my time and resources more effectively so that I am able to accommodate Eamonn’s pace rather than setting him aside in order to accommodate mine.

There are several resources I’m considering that I’d like to go through over the next few months as I work on getting some of my life in better order:

C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries did a series on time management earlier this year and I guess I should have raised the white flag immediately when I starred all of the posts in my Google Reader for reading later and then could never find the time to go through them.  However, in searching around and thinking about stewardship, I was reminded that he took the entire series and compiled it in a PDF for free download.  I’ve been praying for a study to do because I’m much more consistent with my quiet times when I’m working through something and I think this may be it.

In addition, my friend Beth and I have agreed to work together on our household budgets.  Amidst kicking, moaning, a few tears and some grumbling, I’m sure, we are going to be working through Budgeting for Dummies and Managing the Money Maze.  I think it will really help to have a friend with whom I’m totally honest about our finances and who will ask me how I’m doing with the budgets my husband and I agree on as I do the same for her.

Last, a natural categorizing of my son’s activities and interests began to emerge as we sorted toys today.  He has so many different kinds of activities that he’s interested in.  Previously when they were all jumbled together I think it was hard for him to figure out what to play with or what to do with his things.  But as we sorted things (I asked for his input on how he thought we should group some of his things and was delighted with some of his decisions) a post from Owlhaven that I read just yesterday on Homeschooling with Preschoolers came to mind.  In it, Mary shared an idea for play stations for kiddos my son’s age (3-and-a-half-but-almost-4-thankyouverymuch) and even younger.  In my jumbled mental store of notes I thought, “okay, must buy different kinds of things for him to play with…oh but the money…think about it later…”  But no.  We have everything we need already between puzzles, train tracks, building blocks, activity books, and art supplies.  I just didn’t know it because it was all jumbled together.  Already ideas for how we could play together and work together through our days at home has begun to emerge and I’m really excited at the time I’m anticipating spending with him.

This seems like a long laundry list and I think I’d easily panic if not for this thought that keeps threading itself through my mind and other considerations today, “You can’t do it.  But I can make it possible.”  And I trust Him, and He will.  I want to honor my Lord and I know He will help me to do it.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.


Shelter is Not a Place, It’s a Relationship August 16, 2009

I had not heard of Raising Five until tonight but I’m so glad I found it (HT Owlhaven).  Katherine wrote awhile back about sheltering our children vs. giving them freedom as they grow and uses her own growing up as an example.  I hope you find the article as encouraging and insightful as I did.


Crying to the Cable Guy July 30, 2009

Well, with a frantic week of work, activities, heat, and hormones, my resolve about writing every day flew right out the window. Didn’t it? And I am sorry about that. So here I am, picking myself up, dusting my keyboard off, and climbing back into the blog saddle again.

What I want to write about is tomorrow. Because tomorrow a very little thing is happening that is going to make very big changes in our home. I’m both thrilled to the tips of my toes and scared to death. Tomorrow, the cable guy is coming. We have a torturous two-hour window time frame. If you hear a high pitched keening wail between 4:30 and 6:30 PM Pacific Time, it’s likely me watching the cable man shut off all our channels, packing up our DVR, and taking it with him — stopping to block our line on his way out.

Yup. We’re giving up TV.

Now don’t get me wrong. We are going to still have a DVD player and a handful of hand-picked videos to watch on it (what would life be without an occasional episode of 3-2-1 Penguins, I ask you??). And I know there are plenty of shows you can watch online. But we are severely limiting the ease of access to these things and I’m really quite thrilled about it all.

When I can think through the panic.

It’s not a monetary issue. The money we save will be nice for sure. But it’s an issue of value. We were paying for a whole lot of stuff that we loathe and a whole bunch of other stuff we didn’t want at all to get a limited few things that we sort of enjoyed sometimes.

The main adjustment will be for my son and I know that’s going to be hard for us. But frankly, I’m looking forward to that, too. I’m looking forward to my default NOT being turning on an “educational” baby sitter while I finish the dishes.

I’m going to have to plan my days better, build in longer times to get things done with his help, and I have a feeling I’m going to have a LOT more conversations in which the other participant responds only with one word, “Why?”

And hopefully, a month from now, it’ll be really normal and I won’t remember what it was I thought I’d miss about having channels.

But in the meantime…would it be SO bad if I walked crying through the courtyard and waved goodbye to the cable guy?


What Food Can Make Real for Us July 4, 2009

As I sat in our kitchen one day about two years ago, feeding my one-year-old son his lunch and eating my own, I began to think about food and how much I hoped that my son would grow up with a taste for foods from all over the world.  That led me to thinking that I just wanted him to know about all the different groups of people in the world, to understand what a great, diverse, and colorful place this world is. I want him to know how these things point to the greatness, creativity and glory of God, who has “measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,” and “with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens. Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,” and “weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance.”  (Isaiah 40:12)

I grew up in a home of daily devotions around the dinner table during which my father would often pull out our copy of Operation World and allow my brothers and me to pick any country we liked.  Dad would read to us about the country, we would talk about any missionaries our family knew who might live there, and then we would pray together for the people and needs there.  On our kitchen wall we had a gigantic world map which was bordered on all four sides with pictures of loved ones and missionaries for whom my family prayed throughout the years.  Pins marked on the map the location of each person or family and I spent many hours in front of them considering the faces, work, and lives represented in each one.  I wish I could say that I sat patiently through our devotions and obediently and hungrily absorbed the things Dad was trying to teach us, but I’d be lying.  However, those Operation World lessons caught my attention and something about the thought of these different lands and different cultures excited me and made a lasting connection in my mind.

Along with devotions around the table, my mother served us many delicious meals there.  Often they were the favorites served at just about any table across our country then and now, but my mom also occasionally served us foods from other countries or with biblical significance.  One that I still serve in my home now was Jacob’s Pottage.  I can’t stir those lentils and rice, pour the lemon-paprika dressing that accompanies it, or take a delicious bite without thinking about Esau coming home ravenous from hunting, and understanding just a little bit, how he could have sold his birthright to his brother for the sake of that simple meal.  Something about the food brings the story close to home for me and I still remember giggling with delight when Mom told me that this meal we were eating could be very like the one in the Bible from so long ago.  It was history on the table right in front of me!  It made the story seem real and possible, rather than like some story from the past in some far away land with no connection to me and my life here.

And so, sitting with my son as he gleefully consumed fist-fulls of broccoli and cottage cheese, I pondered how to go about making those same connections for him.  A desire I have had since the moment I knew I was pregnant with him was to impart an understanding and love for the greatness of God and the love He holds for all of His people of every shape and size, every color and hue, and from every country.  I want the connections to be strong, the lessons to be colorful and interesting, and for him to appreciate and value the importance of the work that missionaries do in the world.  I believe that this is a desire with which any believing parent can identify.

That is going to be the goal of some of my upcoming posts over the next few months:  To give children food that nourishes their bodies, hearts and minds and that creates with each meal a picture of another place in this world.  I’d like to provide some recipes and information that brings into present focus the reality of the work missionary families are doing to spread the precious word of God around the world.  It is my hope that through this learning God will be glorified as our children begin to piece together an understanding of the greatness and mighty works of the God to whom we look for all things and to whom we owe all things.

Does this sound interesting to any of you at all?


What a Way to Spend a Day June 29, 2009

Filed under: family,parenting,rambling thoughts,thanks — Mary @ 9:50 pm

This is short and I’m positively flowing over with things to share but I have to use some restraint for at least a few more hours. (Nope, not pregnant…yet.)

However, today I:

Went to the park and swung with toddlers, chased my boy, and helped my niece across monkey bars.

Then after daddy got home, we watched Narnia with our son.  I was Captain Mommy and he was I Boy (we don’t know but it’s his super hero name of choice).  We held drumstick swords and every time a bad guy came on the screen we shot them with our swords.  (That’s what I said.  Stop asking questions and just go with it!)

Then we ate leftover chocolate cake with fudge icing.

Then we sang songs.

Then bed.

It’s been a good day.


Can I Have a Pinch? June 22, 2009

Filed under: cooking,family,grace,hope,parenting,tips — Mary @ 1:47 pm

The hub took a nap yesterday afternoon so to kill a few hours with E, now 3, we made cookies.  A note about cookies which probably isn’t novel to anyone but I was flat thrilled about when I thought to do it:

Double the recipe and then while half of them bake, scoop out the rest onto a cookie sheet and freeze them.  Once they are solid, pop them off the sheet and keep them in a freezer safe container for another fast batch you can have ready in no time.

Also, for those of you who like chocolate covered pretzles or extra buttery caramel:

I add extra salt, but a bit, to my recipe.  I also use kosher so it’s in slightly larger hunks than regular salt.  This way, when you’re eating your cookies you get these nice little tingles of salty flavor highlighted throughout the cookie.  Oh-so-delicious.

But in spite of the loveliness of these two things I’ll tell you what really took the cake (or cookie) for me yesterday:

E kept asking me as we worked up our batch of dough, “Mom, can I have a little pinch?”  We probably ate four whole cookies worth of dough this way.  Finally I gave him the paddle out of the stand mixer and as he stood on his chair in his orange apron in the sunshine through the window he got a huge smile of delight and exclaimed to me, “Mom, didn’t God make a WONDERFUL world for us to enjoy?!”

Oh boy.  Yes, son.  He did.  Immediately, hands down, my day made.


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