Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dinner for One

Keepin' it simple...but delicious...AND low carb.

1 Tilapia fillet - brown in butter just until done

Shred with fork.

Douse heavily with lime juice and Splenda.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Musical Monday: Long Tall Texan

Of course, the final version is my favorite, but I find it fascinating how a song like this can span so many decades and genres.   Give each version 30 seconds or so (if you can't tolerate all 4 in their entirety) but listen to Lyle's version all the way through! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Musical Monday: Alabama Shakes

I must acknowledge my friend, Annie, who introduced me to Alabama Shakes back in November before they hit it big.  She's a genius, that Annie.  They have a soulful, bluesy sound from days gone by and yet they're imminently hip.

So here's a little song they perform in a coat closet...yeah...a coat closet.  Raw, unproduced, pure music.  Enjoy.
Boys & Girls

Oh why can't we be
Best friends anymore?
They say a friend
Ain't to be
Between a girl and a boy.
I don't know who said it
Or why it got to be so wrong

Oh why don't you call?
Don't you care anymore?
It's not fair;
Don't let 'em get you.
It took us both and now I got to fix you -
Well I don't know how to fix you.
They say it's just the way it's gonna be, but how so?

Is an awful lot of question,
And I can't give me no answer
I keep wondering on.

Oh why can't you see
That I'm not trying to be
No kind of bother?
I'm just trying to save what was left between you and me
And where we left it before they took it
And took it all
And took off.

Oh why did I let them drive a wedge between?
Well I watched it, and I didn't say nothing
And now I'm crying when I sleep.
Now I'm sayin', I'm prayin', to that sweet melody in my soul.

Is an awful lot of question,
And I can't give me no answer
I keep wondering on.

I wanna know, who said it

Well who said that, oh Lord?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bacon Cups

My friend, Meha, posted a link to a recipe for Bacon Bowls tonight...and I couldn't wait to try them.  So...I didn't!  Wait, that is. 

Not Martha offers a helpful demonstration on forming the bowls.  Because my only muffin tin is a mini, I decided to make little appetizer size cups instead of big bowls.   Forming them was a bit high-maintenance.  I didn't use foil...I draped 2 pieces (1/3 of a slice each piece) across the bottom of the tin...then baked them for 25 minutes total...checking on them every few minutes to make sure they were holding their them when necessary.

When they looked nearly done, I removed the little cups from the back of the pan, flipped it over and put each cup into one of the muffin tins, squishing it down until it formed a deeper cup.  I then cooked them for an additional 5 minutes.

I let them cool a couple minutes in the pan, then removed them to a paper towel.  I filled them as follows:

1)  Hard-boiled egg with mayo - it was quite good, but may have been improved with the addition of some chipotle, which I was OUT OF for the first time in 6 years!!  (My food photography skills stink...and I've never been good at making beautiful you'll have to take my word for it when I say these are a lot more tasty than they LOOK in these pics!)

2)  Shredded Beef with Summer Marinade - very good.   I think it would be even better with a slice of rare tenderloin and some horseradish.  Mmmm.

3) 3-4 chocolate chips in the bottom, with hot caramel poured over the top and a little Sea Salt to top it all off  Ecstasy.  Pure ecstasy.  

I am going to work on perfecting the bowl part and finding a simpler method.  I'll let you know what I come up with!

In the meantime, give it a go!  You won't regret it...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Are you KIDDING Me?!

As we sat in a crowded license office today, waiting for our number to be called, Eric reminded me of his intention to drive up to St. Charles tonight and watch his friend, Noah, perform in Music Man.   I made the mistake of actually THINKING about that reality: my baby is driving off alone...on the night...on a Friday when the crazies are an area with which he is unfamiliar.

You'd think I'd know by now not to go there.  Because you KNOW what follows those thoughts.  Random images flashed through my mother's mind - crumpled vehicles...sirens...coffins... - all in a matter of seconds before I could stop the flow.  Well, I didn't stop them quickly enough.  I teared up.  To make it worse, Eric saw me!  He put his arm around me and assured me, "I'll be fine, Mom."  And, of course, that sweet gesture ramped up the whole teary-eyed thing into an all-out cry thing.  Are you KIDDING me?!?!  Nice, Lori.  Nice.  Way to be a reasonable grown up.  Way to humiliate your son in front of 73 strangers! 

Only, you know what?  He wasn't humiliated.  He was sensitive and sweet and I THINK he recognized that I love him.  I had to laugh at myself and then told him, "I'll be fine...I did this when you went to Kindergarten too...and there was relatively little possibility that Kindergarten would end in death or dismemberment."

And now we're back home.  Well, not really.  I'M home.  He's already left for his first solo adventure.  And so it begins...   

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wordsmith Wednesday

It's been a while since I've blogged a Wordsmith post.   Five months, to be a little more precise.   I think it's about time. 

I was asked recently - in the middle of a party - if there is a difference between historic and historical.   Without giving the question any thought, I popped off, "Not really.  They're both adjectives and therefore can be used interchangeably."   Another voice in the crowd contradicted mine, but I paid little attention and we all moved on.

However, on our drive home, I began thinking about the two words and decided that I had answered carelessly and probably wrongly because, even though they share a common etymology and are often used interchangeably, each has a unique denotation which calls for a more precise use.

Historical is an adjective which primarily means "related to history".  It is used to communicate that this particular person, place, event, or idea, has ties to the past.  Simple as that.  

Mark Twain is an important historical figure in Missouri.

The Eugene Field house is a historical site with which all Missourians should be familiar.

Whereas, historic is an adjective which primarily means "having significance".   It is used to communicate that this particular person, place, event, or idea, is of great importance.

On July 20, 1969, we sat glued to our televisions as a historic event unfolded before our eyes.

Students should memorize their native country's most historic speeches.

Another issue often arises when these two words are used...whether to use "a" or "an" before them.  The common rule is that "a" is used before nouns whose initial phoneme is a consonant: a book, a ukelele, a coat, a photo, a ship; while "an" is used before words whose initial phoneme is a vowel: an island, an elephant, an orange, an umbrella, an hour, etc. 

Under these rules, we should always use "a" before both adjectives, since both begin with a consonant sound.  Because I've heard highly-educated folks say, "an historic occasion," I wondered if these words called for an exception.  As it turns out, they don't.  Confusion has arisen because the British tend to silence the "h" when pronouncing these words, which changes them from an initial consonant phoneme to an initial vowel phoneme.  So, if you're British, or if you drop the "h" sound for some other random reason, then you must use "an" instead of "a".    Otherwise, THE ORIGINAL RULE APPLIES!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Musical Monday: Mumford & Sons

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thing 3

Thing 3:  Err on the Side of Grace, let me rephrase that...WHEN you wonder whether you're being too hard on your child, whether your expectations are reasonable, whether you should crack down or lighten up, I would encourage you - when you're uncertain - to always err on the side of grace and compassion.    While that may sound obvious and lovely (who doesn't want to be compassionate and generous?), the reality is that it will often require Herculean patience, great inconvenience, and will sometimes even require you to absorb your child's forgetfulness or willfulness or irresponsibility.  It may result in some public humiliation for you as well!  (whose child has not embarrassed them publicly: "I didn't TEACH them to be that way...REALLY!!")

Whether the issue is breaking your child of a habit (thumb-sucking, tantrums, etc.), or creating a new habit (toilet training, bed-making, etc.), or refining a skill (piano, cleaning their room, etc.), following the family rules (curfew, schoolwork, etc.), living faithfully within the household or community or church, developing needed personal discipline...regardless of the issue...strive to be full of generosity and grace.  

I am not suggesting you let your children be unruly, undisciplined, wild little hellions.  Not at all.  In fact, I am quite a proponent of order and self-control and obedience, which is the reason this has been a hard lesson for me to learn!  I am suggesting that it sometimes seems easier to achieve a desired outcome by enforcing strict punishments and consequences.  Yet overly harsh responses, demands, and expectations can be burdensome to our children and create hard hearts or conforming perfectionists.  

Sometimes a hard line is called for and is absolutely needed, but toughness should not be our default mode.  If instead, we reserve those tough actions for the situations when they are really necessary, they will have a greater impact.  In the meantime, we do well to remind ourselves of our own frequent failings and the unprecedented long-suffering that Christ extends to us in our frailty and even in our stubborn rebellion.  

Parent in such a way that your children expect understanding and grace from you.   "But they might take advantage of me!"  Indeed, they may.  Just as we sometimes think lightly of God's mercies to us.  In the long run, they, like we, will begin to recognize the beauty of grace and will begin to live in gratitude for it.   They will know they are loved.  They will know how to receive the grace of Christ.  They will know how to extend the same grace, mercy, and love to those around them.  

That's it folks.  That's all I've got.  Three things.  Done.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thing 2

Thing 1:  Know Your Child

Thing 2:  Confess Your Faults
I've talked about this previously, but I believe it is crucial, not only for maintaining a healthy relationship with our children, but also for teaching them by example to be honest about themselves: their sins, weaknesses, shortcomings, and failures.

Truth is, our children see us sin.  They experience and sometimes receive the brunt of our sins, so we may as well not pretend it doesn't happen!  If we brush off or attempt to hide our sins and mistakes, they will come to despise our instruction.  The disparity between our words and our lives will lie in such stark contrast that our voice will cease to matter.  In order to keep their ears and their hearts, we do not have to be without fault, but we DO have to confess a way that is appropriate to their age and maturity.  I probably don't need to confess to my 4-year-old that in order to coerce him into compliance and make my life easier, I selfishly placed an unreasonable demand and consequence on him...a simpler, "I was unkind to you and I'm sorry" might suffice...but I might need to confess that to a 14-year old who recognizes not only my unkindness, but the injustice of my actions.  

As I have written previously:  Thank God that little children have not yet learned to hold deep grudges, nor do they readily enter the bog of bitterness.  BUT...they eventually learn that anger, bitterness, and refusal to forgive are options.  When that time comes, I think we make if easier for them to avoid those traps if we have consistently acknowledged our own failures, shortcomings, and sins.  Stubborn pride can prevent us from even recognizing our own faults, or refusing to admit it to our "subordinates."  After all, it might weaken our position of authority or cause them to question us in the future. 

In reality, I believe it has the opposite effect.  When I humble myself and admit my wrong, I break down the illusion of perfection and my children cease to expect perfection from me.  They begin to realize that, though I have been given charge over them, I experience the same struggles they do what is right and best, but failing all too often.  They judge me more generously and grant me some much needed slack because they know I don't assume I'm always in the right.  They also begin to distinguish between treating me with respect because I've earned it (which I often haven't), and treating me with respect because I am their mother...striving, however imperfectly, to do what is best for them.

When we live transparently and honestly before our children, we grant them many gifts: reasonable expectations of others and themselves (everyone sins!)...the knowledge that because I have needed their forgiveness, I will be more prone to extend the same to them...the comfort of knowing that when they confess their own faults, they are not going to be rejected, but received by a fellow sinner who understands what it's like to screw it up...the relief of living with a clear, guilt-free conscience.  We are also gifting those who will come into their lives in the future.  Imagine what a blessing they will be to others, including friends, spouses, and their own children when they, by example and habit, have learned to readily acknowledge and confess their sins.  

Confessing our faults is a benevolent, godly, relationship-building way to live with our children.   May God grant us the humility to do it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thing 1

I used to be the perfect parent.  

That is, until I actually became one.  Even then, it  took a few years before I realized that all those maxims and methods I had studied so diligently, weren't fool-proof and didn't come with money-back guarantees!   

Because I now know that good parenting cannot be easily condensed into a few simple bullet points or rules, it is with great hesitation that I offer a little "parenting advice" at the request of a young mom at church.  "Three things," she says..."just tell me three things."  So here I go:

Thing 1: Know Your Child
"Your child is unique," is more than an old cliche.  He IS an individual unlike any other individual in the history of the world.  His make-up has been designed by our Creator in keeping with His purposes for this particular child, in particular circumstances, with particular gifts, in this particular historical space and time.  There is no one else like him or with an identical created purpose.

Of course, you can assume basic truths about your child that are common to humanity.  You can also gain insight into him based on gender, family tendencies, personality type, love language, birth order, learning style, etc., but always keep in mind that each of these illuminate a rather small part of your child's soul, and only in a general sense.  All of these aspects unite in a unique way in your child and it is your joy as a parent to slowly uncover this person by listening and observing as objectively as possible.  If you assume too much, you risk spinning your wheels and creating distance rather than the intimacy that comes through true knowledge of your child.  

For example, a disciplinary method that produces remorse and repentance in one child, may produce withdrawal and anger in another.  That difference should not automatically be attributed to submission vs. rebellion.  While that MAY be the case, it could be the approach itself which alienated the second child because of his particular bent.  Or perhaps the first child's need to avoid conflict inclines him to quickly eliminate the conflict by feigning remorse.  Knowing your child can help you discern the difference.

Consider the variety of ways in which Christ Himself addressed the sins of his disciples.  When Peter denied Him, Christ's look was enough to both rebuke and restore him.  When Thomas didn't believe, Jesus accommodated his need for concrete evidence.  When  the disciples wanted seats of prominence, he posed a challenge in the form of a question to expose their motives.  Sometimes he told a story or a parable in order to pierce the heart.  His approach was varied and seemed to be tailored to the individual to whom He was ministering - either their personality or the condition of their heart.

As you formulate expectations, requirements, consequences, dreams, or hopes for your child; as you relate to, communicate with, listen to, or observe your child, make every effort to keep in mind his creation as a one-of-a-kind human in the Image of God, and LEARN how to deal with that child in a way that creates a relationship rather than a particular outcome.  Learn to love this individual and leave the outcome to the Spirit of's up to Him anyway, you know.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Musical Monday: Guy

Turning the everyday into poetry:  (as usual, ignore the video and listen to the music)