'what's up' weekly.

laurelai and her mouthful-of-sourdough would like to congratulate you on making it through the week.  she knows it hasn't been easy.  she's proud of you.

last weekend, todd surprised me by leaving the kids with my parents and taking me away for the weekend.  by 'away,' i mean like eighteen blocks away, to this hotel downtown that is the oldest continuously-run hotel west of the mississippi.  that is an old hotel, my friends, and if you know one thing about me, it's that i like old stuff.  let me rephrase:  if you know me well enough to summarize me by my tastes, you would know that i'm the kind of person that can get 110% behind a fancy old hotel that has fancy old stuff but also a brand-new mattress and a jetted tub.  and that is paige van voorst in a nutshell.

see?  it even has a kickin' brass key.  which i thought todd stole for a second in the middle of the surprise.  i was all, 'just because you find a key in the door, does not mean you can go peeping around other people's rooms!'  and then i found out it was, in fact, our legitimately claimed key and legitimately claimed room.  i got the smartzz.

also this week?  eye doctor appointments, and a makeup buddy:

and wrapping it up with a bit of news, i'm going to be cutting out of here next week.  and by here, i mean the internet.  it's currently the end of february and i kind of hate everybody and everything and the whole world right now, so i think i need a little bit of a breather to re-humanize.  #sorrynotsorry #butactuallysorry

i like the dutch, because they acknowledge spring early.  tulips are the first sign that the world is not actually ending, which is always a helpful reminder.

see you a week from monday!

video vednesday: and it starts right nowww!

it should come as no surprise to you that i am weirdly into sherlock holmes.

happy monday, guys!  just popping in to say hey.  i finished reading my current novel yesterday, so i have a bit more free time now - for the time being anyway, as i then immediately started 'light in august.'  i love faulkner, though it's not exactly speed reading, so it is yet to be determined just how absorbing (and time-sucking) the book will be.  i'm also slowly reading through an entire collection of sherlock holmes stories.  why?  BECAUSE I HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH SHERLOCK HOLMES AND I BLAME THE BBC.

i am telling you, if you only have time to watch one more series before you die, SHERLOCK HAS TO BE IT.  it would be a huge shame to die without having seen it.  i have no qualms about asserting that wholeheartedly.  it is just so, so excellent.  

anyway, i've started reading the stories to see how they compare to/influence the show.  i tend to be a person who, on principle, refuses to watch an adaptation before reading the influencing literature.  which explains why i'd not seen a single harry potter movie before last year.  i haven't seen the hunger games movies, because i'm not convinced i'll ever read the books.  

but i had no idea that i cared about reading sherlock holmes mysteries before watching the show.  admittedly, the original stories are a bit...stupid, especially for a modern audience that's used to figuring out complex crime dramas.  (and, apparently, a post-1960's american audience who knows what the KKK is - that case stumped sherlock and watson for a bit, because 'KKK' was probably a monogram...right?  ah, the victorian british.)  plus, i cannot for the life of me figure out from the written stories why on earth holmes cares AT ALL about watson, who is a blithering, starstruck, idiot puppy.  (sorry for the strong language, watson.)  only idiots keep company with idiots, and sherlock is not an idiot, so it makes no sense why he wants him around.

i have to say - this is the first time ever in the history of ever that i have recommended the film/tv version of something far more strongly than the books, but there you have it.  a first time for everything.  (disclaimer, though: i've not read all the stories, as the collection i have is over 900 pages by itself, and it only includes one of the novels.  perhaps they get better?  perhaps watson gets more likeable at some point and holmes becomes more realistically human?)

anyway, to sum up, i'm currently reading 'light in august' and 'the complete original illustrated sherlock holmes.'  i'm also currently seeking to fill a void left by finishing up all of the episodes of sherlock.  (twice, actually.  the moment we finished them, we started back at the beginning again, because, as with harry potter, i just could not leave the story right away.  i get weird like that about quality fictional characters.)  so we started watching 'the bletchley circle,' another BBC show, and while it is good, it is not fantastic.  i need fantastic.  any suggestions?

(i will vulnerably note that i have, indeed, watched the first episode of each Dr. Who and Downton Abbey and... i really did want to like them, and well, if you tell me they get better at some point, i would be happy to believe you.)

okay, suggestions: GO.

weird 'w.u.w.' post, but okay.

haaaaaaaaaaaay guys, it's FRIDAY!

i'm sorry that i've been such a veritable turd of a blogger this week.  i've actually been working on a really exciting new blog project for our church, which has taken up a lot of hours this week, and will be launching on sunday.  i've also been juggling a highly unusual number of medical/dental checkups for the kids this week, and time just slips away.  also?  i've been reading a super absorbing novel, and i'd rather read than blog most days, if i'm just shooting you straight.

so there are this week's excuses for the scraggly posts this week.  i'll try to do better next week (and finish the novel over the weekend so that it's not still vying for my heart by monday).

ps - 'what's up weekly' is the hardest post of the week to write when your laptop's 'w' key is on the fritz... you really should medal me for the effort i put into just this post.  or not.  up to you.

video vednesday: AWAY.

finneas clearly has a handle on being a two-year-old boy.

i love that he has to give his gun time to wind up.  i'm going to miss two-year-old finn - only a couple more weeks and he'll be a full-blown three-year-old.

what's up weekly: 'laurelai's face' edition.

laurelai's face had many a tale to tell this week.  such as this tragedy.

and this tale of unconditional bathtime love toward a mother who looks like a hobo.

and this tale of innocent flirting.

and this tale of ponytailed suspicion.

and this lovely fairy tale of the millions of children that lived in a shoe on a couch.

and this tale of maternal affection...

and irrepressible joy...

...and a sisterly bond that vanquished all naysayers with a single look.

and this grand finale of a contemplative cuddle with her one true love.

and that is one expressive week, as demonstrated by laurelai.  i think we all could learn something from her.

video vednesday: you know, where you were connected to your muzzah?

our kids love this, and this week's video options were either this, or one of two hamsters going on a date.  so, you're welcome.

happy tuesday from atticus.

true reassurance for the flattered-to-death mom.

i've seen a lot of posts lately along the lines of, 'hey you, Mom Out There, you're doing a great job!  you may not feel like it, but you really are!'  to be blunt, i find these posts a little exasperating because, a) hey, Blogger Out There, you don't even know me, so how do you know? and b) i'm pretty sure i'm not really, at the heart of it all, doing all that good a job.

it's not self-pity, it's just honesty.  a lot of the time i'm failing.  most of us (all of us, surely) are.  not to pooh-pooh the carte-blanche reassurance of my mothering, but i'm not really sure that the thing any of us truly needs is some platitude from a stranger to make us feel temporarily, artificially good about ourselves.

what we do need is jesus.  it's always, only, ever jesus.

the life of jesus: i need the perfection of jesus' life.  i desperately need to be like him: always joyfully willing to nurture, and comfort, and speak truth, and spend sleepless nights for, and pray for, and correct, and sacrifice EVERYTHING for the little ones in my care.  while these things are far from 100% true of me, they are 100% true of jesus, and the really audacious thing is that god gives me that record in christ.  that's how he chooses to see me.  i'm clothed in the righteousness of christ, and god sees me only, ever, always as a perfect mother.  not because i earned it, but because jesus did.  it's so shocking it's almost offensive, but it's true.  it's true of me, and it's true of you if you're in christ.

the death of jesus:  i need the forgiveness of jesus' death.  i yell at my kids.  i wish for more 'me-time.'  on dark days, i wish my life were different and unencumbered.  i wish away the biggest blessings i've been given, and demand other, more trivial things.  i'm selfish.  i'm lazy.  i get too angry about all the wrong things, and am apathetic toward all the important things.  i am an affront to the perfect, sacrificial, giving, compassionate, patient holiness of god.  and yet... jesus became all of these things on the cross so i can stand scot-free in front of the throne of god.  he absorbed the wrath of god into himself so that i can walk away from condemnation and shame and burden, in forgiveness and freedom, toward the father.  i don't have to run away or hide anymore.  that is true.  it's true for me, and it's true for you if you're in christ.

the resurrection of jesus: i need the hope of jesus' resurrection.  i am not the person i wish i was, but i have unshakable hope that i am being made into the likeness of that person.  jesus rose from the dead!  he conquered death itself.  sin itself.  slavery itself.  someday in heaven, i will be given a new, perfected self, but until that day, the powerful holy spirit is inside me, making me like christ, making me brand-new.  i am not enslaved to sin.  i am not defined by sin.  i am not who i was.  i am in jesus, and i will be a better mother because of it.  he doesn't leave me to walk around crippled by my old self.  i am new, and i am being made new.  that is true.  it's true of me, and it's true of you if you're in christ.

i am not really all that great of a mother.  but i serve a great god who covered my sin with his blood and in turn offers me righteousness.  i serve a god who gives me what i didn't earn or deserve.  a god who makes me more like himself everyday, not because i'm trying harder and doing better and somehow 'good enough' for him, but because he's capable and willing to take mud and turn it into diamonds for no other reason than because he wants to.  it brings him joy, it brings him glory, to take my failing self and redeem it.

and that is true refreshment and reassurance.  that is my lifeline.  that is the only hope i have for the children being raised and loved by this broken mom.  and it's all i need in order to know that it's all going to be okay.  it's jesus.  it's always, only, ever jesus.

what's up weekly.

this week was really fun, since we got to see lots of friends we don't get to see very often.

first, zach and emily came from des moines to stay the weekend, and with the weather being what it was in central iowa on sunday, it looked like they might become semi-long-term housemates.  which would have been a-ok with us.  while they were here, they made pizza with the kids, babysat so we could go on a date, introduced todd to stout, and taught us how to play settlers of catan.  (yeah, yeah, yeah.  this weekend was the first time we ever played it - and the first time i'd ever even seen what the game board looks like.  i still won, so who's laughing now?)

then on tuesday, i got to spend the morning with my friend kristy, who reads books and runs half-marathons and grows a crazy number of tulips in her yard, though it's winter, so i suspect she's really only been reading books as of late.  she loves old houses, and used to dance ballet, and named her first son atticus, and is clearly what i would call a bosom friend if i were anne shirley.  

the only other highlight that i can think of off the top of my head: a grocery pick-up involving the collection of five gallons of laundry detergent, one gallon of olive oil, two jars of grassfed ghee and some lactofermented pickles off the back of a semi in the freezing cold.  that, friends, was a very good morning.

and that seems to be how our week went down.

recipe round-up, and a promise i'll try my darndest to keep...

last whole30 post, i swear.

here's what we ate and actually liked (there were a few flops; i'll just leave those out):

we mostly ate eggs and bacon, or nuts and fruit and veggies.  once we made these frittata muffins, which were decent, but pretty coconutty.  coconut + eggs= weird.  this breakfast sausage was a big hit, too.

hamburger soup from the pioneer woman
carne asada soup (using chuck roast, which i then pulled into small pieces to make it more soup-y.)
tuna salad made with paleo ranch (see mayo link below) on plantain chips

otherwise, we did a lot of 'fridge roulette'-style lunches:  some kind of combination of nuts, seeds, raw or leftover veggies, lettuce, fruit, sauerkraut, olives, etc. etc. etc.

dinner entrees:
i made these lemon chicken breasts like once a week.  so good.  (used chicken broth instead of wine.)
crackling chicken thighs
big salads with sauteed chicken on top
this one-skillet dish i made up with sauteed red onions, red peppers and sliced italian sausage links
hamburger patties with diced sweet peppers
pot roast (again from the pioneer woman - that lady can seriously do no wrong.)
roasted bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, diced sweet potatoes, diced bell peppers (inception!), mushrooms, garlic, onions, and tomato sauce
seafood scampi (with ghee instead of butter, and broth instead of wine)

side dishes and other randoms:
mayo (added dill, green onions, garlic, paprika and extra lemon juice to make ranch dressing)
collard greens with prosciutto and mushrooms sauteed in bacon grease (oh my word, SO GOOD.  don't add salt.)

that was our month of food, and now i'll shut up about it.  i think.

video vednesday: it's THE SAME THING as sending her a package!

it's The Creepiest Cousin!

i'm just going to be upfront about this: a lot of weird stuff has gone down in my kitchen.  i make my own yogurt.  i've fermented my own kefir.  i regularly soak nuts and grains.  i've tried my hand at lacto-fermentation.  i've caught wild yeast for a sourdough starter.  but i've recently gone head-over-heels nutso for something that takes the prize for 'weirdest foray into creepy kitchen activities.'

at first glance, it looks relatively benign:

sorry about the blurry photo, but you get the jist.

that, my friends, is kombucha.  continuous brew kombucha, to be exact.  and it is kind of gross and also very delicious and super duper healthy.  but also pretty gross.

i'm not going to offer photos any more graphic than the one above, and i can tell you that you're glad about that.  you can kind of see on the side of the jar that, at the top of the liquid, there floats a thing that is known as a scoby (or, as todd has affectionately named ours, Scoby Bryant).  some people like to call it a kombucha mushroom, but that sounds even grosser than 'scoby' and those people are hippies.  i, friends, am no hippie, just a good, old-fashioned weirdo with a scoby.  

and here's the thing about the scoby:  it's somehow alive?  i don't know all the details.  i just know that it grows to fit the top of the container it's in, making a somewhat air-tight seal between the liquid and the air.  i know that it multiplies, growing scoby 'babies.'  and i know that i have to feed it multiple times a week.  in that way, it is kind of like a fifth child.  although, with my own children, my motherly instinct prevents me from getting constantly frustrated with or annoyed by their needs and quirks.  the scoby, on the other hand, is like a child, though more like someone else's child.  a child i love, and one that is quite possibly closely related to my own, but not loved as dearly or unconditionally.  it's like a really sweet, kind of exasperating, cousin.

feeding it is kind of annoying, as it's a very picky eater.  it only eats room-tempurature, heavily sweetened tea (not herbal, thankyouverymuch), and lots of it.  it eats the sugar and, in turn, ferments the tea into a fizzy, sweet-sour drink that tastes a little apple juice-ish and is chock full of probiotics.  sometimes, i pour the finished kombucha into a jar with some fruit or juice in it, and let it ferment for a second time, which just basically tastes like raspberry (or whatever fruit) soda.  so it's work, but it's mostly worth it.

penelope likes it.  atticus tolerates it.  finneas loves it and once drank so much of it i'm quite certain he was a little drunk.  (oh yeah, it has a very, very small alcohol content.)  so it's kid-friendly sometimes.  you should come over and try some, if you're not too scared.  and then, if you're REALLY brave, i can send you home as the open-minded legal guardian of your very own scoby baby, to love and care for and cherish (and hide when company comes over).