"Do you guys want to go live in Texas?"


"You guys will be little rangers. And Tembo will be a little Texas cowgirl."

"No, Timmo's a duck!"

"A girl duck!"


Fire Code Shmire Code

We found the perfect apartment. The housing market in Texas is so low that renting doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but we need more time to scope things out before making a commitment like that. But in the mean time, we found the perfect place for now. So perfect it just seemed like God was bringing everything together for that, just like He was bringing everything else together.

Three miles from the school where Andy will be teaching. The perfect distance. Just far enough to build a workout into his day.

1000 square feet. That's bigger than my parents house. Not the tiny cabin in the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the normal three-bedroom ranch-style suburban home.

With a playground in the complex.

And unit 811, which will be ready exactly when we need it, opens directly onto the playground.

Family friendly place, and there were lots of online reviews raving about how competent and friendly and nice the management is. In fact, the only negative comments were about how many little kids there were. That and how small the pool is, but to be perfectly honest, with three toddlers underfoot, the only thing that matters to me about the pool is that it be securely gated and far away from our apartment.

She knew we had three toddlers, and that was fine... until I mentioned my husband.


Fire codes. You can't have five people in a two bedroom apartment.


And now renting is suddenly totally out of reach, because only the very poshest of complexes have three bedroom apartments, the only houses for rent are far from the school, and I have no idea what we're going to do.

This is the point where I'd probably fall into despair, except that this is what God's been doing with us all along. Corrie ten Boom said that when God closes a door, he opens a window. Well, God's been opening windows for us, just far enough to light our path to the open door.

And so I'm just hanging on for ride, immensely curious as to what in the world God is up to. That and scouring the internet.


Toward Balance

A little while back, my back started hurting. Bad. I was having a grand old time playing my flute, while Nathan banged away at the piano.... and then, suddenly, I heard a little click in my shoulder, and it hurt even to breathe.

So I went to a chiropractor, who scanned my back with all sorts of fancy sensors, and announced that the whole problem is that I'm right-handed. Really, really right-handed. And right-footed, and right-armed, and right-everything-ed.

Which is kinda funny, because I've always thought of myself as the sort of person you'd expect to be a lefty. You know, artsy and intuitive and creative and musical. A big thing for me lately has been learning to trust the more logical, practical side of myself. I feel a bit like some of Andy's students who are quite convinced that they can't possibly do math, since they're "literature people," not "math people," and who, when informed that the number 1 indicator of mathematical success is reading ability, instantly rise to the top of the class. We all build our identities around a certain set of skills and interests, and it can be strangely intimidating to move beyond them. If I have other strengths, too... well then, who am I, anyway? So it was a bit surreal to discover just how (absurdly, painfully) right-side-dominant I am.

But back to my back. The right side of my body is much stronger than the left, and so I use it more. Thus the right side gets stronger and stronger, while the left side atrophies, and so on and so forth, until finally my back was so lopsided and out of whack that I couldn't even breathe.

Anyway, I'm supposed to try to do everything with my left hand. Which is easier said than done. Most of my daily tasks are actually two-handed, and the way I coordinate my hands is completely subconscious. It sounds silly, but it's taken me more than a month just to figure out how to go about trying to do things left-handedly.

Every time I get an adjustment, I come away feeling lopsided. My spine feels relaxed and flexible and wonderfully painless... and in a decidedly odd location. This last time, though, I experienced my muscles as lopsided. After she straightened me out, I could feel that my spine was straight and symmetrical, but that I had moderately competent muscles on the right side of my body, and nothing on the left. It's very strange. I'd never noticed it before, but for the past week I've been constantly aware of the lopsidedness of my body. Everything I do, I'm aware of the need to strengthen my left side. And oh my, now that I'm using my left hand, life is one great big workout. Stirring a pot of soup, I feel the burn... and not because I splashed, either. Just opening a door is quite a feat. Add in a childproof knob, and I'm about ready to collapse. But oh, it feels good. Because I'm finally beginning to experience just how much better it is to be balanced and strong, than to be able to easily understand and pigeonhole myself.


It's a Girl!

September makes proper use of the possessive suffix.

The twins don't even do that yet.


Works for Me Wednesday: Mess-free Cake

I grew up on wacky cake. It's a breeze to make, and it only requires the most basic of ingredients--which is an especially big deal if you happen to live in a tiny village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. And if a flood comes through and destroys your oven... well, with this recipe you can make a very yummy birthday cake in a toaster oven, or crock pot, or microwave. My mother is the queen of flexibility in the kitchen. Until I had a family of my own to feed, I never fully appreciated the tremendous feats of creativity and organization involved in getting yummy nutritious meals on the table every day when you only have access to a supermarket every few months or so, and your fridge is about the size of a medium-sized microwave, with an inset freezer hardly big enough for an ice cream tray. All this is hard enough when you're surrounded by all the resources of a major city, but somehow my mother managed, and managed well.

Anyway, the weird thing about wacky cake is that not only is it really, really simple, but I actually think it comes out tasting better than the sort of cake that involves creaming the butter and the sugar, and beating the eggs over one double boiler while you melt the chocolate over another. Okay, so wedding cakes are better, but ours at least was made from a heavily guarded secret recipe, and it supposedly took three weeks to make anyway. So really, for all intents and purposes, the yummiest, moistest cake I can possibly make also happens to be the easiest cake recipe around. Something of a no-brainer.

Anyway, I wanted something sweet last night, and so I whipped together a wacky cake. And instead of flipping through my recipe cards, I looked it up on recipezaar. And lo and behold, there's another twist to the absurd easiness of this recipe. You don't even have to grease the pan... so there's no reason to dirty a separate bowl. You can just mix the dry ingredients together right in the pan, make little wells for the vanilla, vinegar, and oil (I actually use melted butter.) Then you pour the cold water on top of it all, mix it together, and pop it in the oven.


Works for me!
Sorry for the unannounced hiatus---I'm glad you're still reading!

There are some big changes ahead for our family, and it's all so very exciting, and it's happening so very fast, I can hardly think about anything else... but of course, I can't blog about it until it's sunk in a little bit. Or at least been finalized.

And then Nathan dove out of the stroller, giving himself a concussion. It was a very exciting Mother's Day indeed, but even if I'd had a spare moment to blog about it between checking his pupils, I really couldn't properly tell the story without mentioning that all this happened the weekend that Andy was in Houston. And when your husband goes out of town, it's probably wise not to blog about it until after the fact.

Thank God, our Bug-Boy is okay, and despite driving to and from the ER all night before his flight, Andy had a wonderful time in Texas. When someone as introverted as Andy comes back glowing about how great it was to hang out with a large group of strangers about to make a decision that could quite possibly change the course of his life... well, you know the hand of God must be at work.

God's hand is so clear in all this, not only now, but in all the ways he's lead us to this place. It's one of those foot-prints-in-the-sand moments, where we finally see that God was with us all along.

It's downright euphoric.


I held the book out, sighed, and motioned for September to come sit on my lap. She was busy playing, and took no notice of me. Nathan gleefully leaped into my lap.

"My turn! My turn!"

I frowned a little, rubbing my neck. I wanted to read yet another book to Nathan, but his sister really did need a turn, and I wasn't really up to much more. I was in a lot of pain.

Nathan hopped up and announced "Mama's back hurts."

Dadders and I nodded.

Then, Nathan came back and stood beside me, placing his hand gently on my shoulder. He looked earnestly into my eyes, and tenderly said, "You need to go to the doctor."

And then he let out a long sigh, filled with all the empathy and support in the world.

That's my boy. That's my boy.


Works for Me Wednesday: Better biscuits and pastries

I love biscuits.

I don't love trans fats. Trans fats aren't food. They don't serve any nutritional purpose, except to clog up arteries, and prevent our bodies from properly absorbing the nutrients that we need. Particularly the fats that toddlers need for things like... brain development, for instance. With everything we now know about trans-fats, I just don't keep shortening in the house.

But I love biscuits. And unless you love the flavor of lard, shortening is the only way to give your biscuits the right texture. For the past few years, I've made my biscuits and pie crusts with butter, but it just isn't the same. They have a sublime flavor, but they're harder to make, and they turn out kinda heavy.

Until one day a few weeks ago, when I wanted to make a pie, but all my butter was in the freezer. And so instead of cutting the butter into the dry ingredients as usual, I simply grated the frozen block. With a cheese grater. It wasn't much hassle, and the crust turned out beautifully. Since the butter is still frozen, it stays solid long enough to let the dough bake around it a little, leaving those little puffs that give biscuits and pastry their scrumptious lightness. It's the best of both worlds. Now my biscuits and pie crusts turn out just as flaky and light as if I'd used shortening, only buttery and flavorful. And a whole lot better for my kiddos growing noggins, and for all of our arteries.

Works for me!


A Certain Unpredictability

As I loaded the kids into the van in the library parking lot, a gold sedan sedan pulled in next to us. A gracefully middle-aged woman stepped out, holding a vase full of roses in undulating shades of orange.

"Hot enough for you?"

It certainly was. I wondered why her flowers didn't droop instantly upon feeling the first blast of hot air--I certainly felt rather wilted.

"And to think it was practically winter yesterday!"

I felt a little silly, talking so much about the capricious fluctuations of the weather. This is Southern California, after all, and all our weather can pretty much be summed up as variations on a theme of nice. But there it was--last night, I got up in the middle of the night for another blanket, and by 9am I had entirely forgotten what it was like not to feel as though I was roasting alive.

With all the tornadoes and floods and droughts in other parts of the world, the little fluctuations of our relatively temperate temperatures are hardly worth mentioning at all, but mention them we must.

Somehow it's comforting to know that some things never change, and some things always change.

The weather will always surprise us.