Month: November 2013

Granola: A recipe


4 cups whole oats

3 cups nuts (any kind) I used almonds and chopped them in a food processor a few seconds

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup olive oil ( melted coconut if you prefer)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

1 cup of raisins (to be added after baking)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (excluding raisins) and mix well. Mix wet ingredients separately, then pour over dry mixture until all oats are well-covered. Transfer to greased baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Turn mixture a bit and bake another 10 minutes.

Let cool on pans and break up, leaving some chunks (if you like). Add raisins, then transfer to pretty mason jars or whatever your heart desires. Serve with Brown Cow Maple yogurt, milk, or just eat by the handful like my kids (and husband) do. Enjoy! (I double this for our family and it barely lasts a week)

This recipe was adapted from one my friend Sandy Kittinger gave me. Thanks, Sandy!



Yes, Constance

In total, our time at the cabin was just 23 hours, but we feel like we were able to do so much and really enjoyed the short getaway. We were so thankful to our friend Melissa for suggesting Petra Field Camps to us and we’re sure to return.

It was sweet to celebrate our love and these last 17 years together with our children. When you are a freelance artist and have five children, it’s tough to get away alone (or at all), but we truly enjoyed having our complete family there (we did miss  having our dogs, but Petra doesn’t allow them in the cabin, though they do have a smaller house that is pet-friendly).

Wanted to close out this little series with the hilarious reality of having a feisty toddler.

No, Constance, you can’t color on the cabin floors:


No, Constance, you can’t have marshmallows and chocolate for breakfast:


No, Constance, you don’t play miniature golf by picking up each person’s ball and placing it into the hole:


No, Constance, we can’t stay forever:


Yes, Constance, you are loved and adored a gift to our family.


The hike, the cave, and the brave (independent) girl

After lunch we ventured out on a hike. Constance had the privilege of riding on my back in the Ergo. It was supposed to be a simple hike with waterfalls and a cave amongst the glorious autumn colors.

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But somewhere along the way we got a bit, er, sidetracked. Lost in the woods with a baby on my back is not my idea of fun and relaxation, but nevertheless, grumbling under my breath, I pressed on. Down the steep, leaf-covered trails.

There was a moment when I was too afraid and wanted to turn back (balancing with a baby on my back isn’t the easiest and I’m not the most fit I’ve ever been), but what happened in that moment was so beautiful. I’m still stunned by it.

The tiny one on my back began cheering me on. “You can do it, mama. You can be brave. It’s okay.” Then she yelled out to the waiting others, “Mama’s coming, guys. She can do it.” I just don’t know. Sometimes we need each other.



The guys found the cave and though we missed the waterfall, this was well worth the effort.


I had to let Charlotte go on her own during the hike, my inclination to hold onto her surpassing my ability. Wings spread, she soared.

Mothers and children both grow in the letting go, taking flight.


We loved the river so much we had to return one last time before leaving. So we ventured off a little farther down the way.



This is Emma asking if it’s okay to let Charlotte climb up:


This is Emma telling Charlotte that it’s a big fall and she should let her help her down, and Charlotte refusing that help:


This is Charlotte sitting her independent self down in protest:


Emma climbs down after I tell her to let go. Big sisters have to do this sometimes, too. Charlotte told me later, “I was a little scared when Emma got down and left me up there alone.”


She climbs down. Safely. Stronger.

Because though she is small, she is fierce.




All of life is aflame.


We watch it burn. It warms us. Heals.


He loves to stoke the fire. Drawing out the rushing, burning moments. Wild.


Morning light through the pines. Fresh breath. Life. We breathe it in. All this holiness.


Share a meal and laughter. This is love. This nourishes.


A game of miniature golf among the flaming wild trees.


Reminders of Uganda…dangerously made play-sets,

barefoot babies,


tire swings,


freedom beyond fences.


All this love, this life that surrounds. A gift.


Holy cookies


We got the news of the sudden, tragic passing of Johanna, 27-year-old fiancée of our friend, on Friday. Shocked. Stunned silent. How could this be? Life is cruel. And this kind of news make you crazy. It’s so unbelievable. So unjust. Unacceptable.

Last night was the memorial service at our neighborhood Orthodox church, St. Antony’s. I wanted to do something for our friend, who’d lost his dreams, his love. So I baked cookies with the help of the kids. I didn’t have anything else to offer. My prayers, yes, but this was something I could put my hands to. Cookies and card in hand, we went to the service.

It was packed and the moment we entered the sweet smells of incense welcomed us. The icons comforted me as I thought on all the long line of people of faith who have suffered before us. Friends crowded the tiny church, we went upstairs to the balcony, the only available seats in the sanctuary. Prayers were chanted over her dead, lifeless, forever-27-year-old body. This was so unfair. Life stolen. Robbery. Our friend sobbing over his love’s body. His bravery greeting all those who came. Always such a gentleman.

Then it was our turn. In the long line of people (what a beautiful community they’re surrounded by) we walked up. There are few words to give to a grieving friend. “I’m so sorry” and tears seem to be enough. They just are. One of the most beautiful expressions is to mourn with those who mourn, to touch their sorrow with your own. So human.

I stood there in an embrace with my own love and our friend, these two towering men above me, and we hugged long and cried hard. The plate of cookies smashed in my arm. I shyly handed them to him, tears streaming.

“Is there somewhere I can put these?” I said. “I made you cookies. It’s what I can give.”

His response humbled me. Tears, a smile, heart touched by my simple offering. In this moment cookies were holy.

Today the funeral will be held and her body put to rest. The priest called her life “a light. Humble, quiet, and one that points us all to Christ.” Let it be as he has said. Let her light sparkle and shine in all of us that we might live more aware of this precious gift of life. Of today. Of now.

I love this quote by one of my favorites poets, Mary Oliver: “Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Note: there is a memorial fund set up to defray funeral expenses, and another friend wrote a song in her honor. If you’re able to give towards either to help the family and her fiancé Garth, it would be so much appreciated.

Surprise! A story in pictures.

Saturday was our seventeenth wedding anniversary and we decided to celebrate in style with our five kids at a log cabin in the foothills of the ozark mountains. We surprised the kids with the news this week and they were all like…


But seriously it was awe inspiring and beautiful. We drove to the cabin after lunch and just the views on the drive alone would have been enough. But then this. We arrived just in time for the sun to begin setting on the bluff. So to the bluff we headed.

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Then we hopped, skipped and jumped, errr,  I mean drove to the water. Oh my stars it was gorgeous.

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It is always divine to touch beauty. To be still and know. More from our little get away tomorrow….stay tuned. Or just click the tiny link to follow this blog for updates. Thanks, friends.


17 years is not nearly enough….


….time to spend with the one you love.

Today we celebrate 17 years of marriage not always easy, but always choosing each other, choosing to work through the hard ugly to get to the beautiful, tender. Thank you darling for these 17 years, for these five, for always loving me in-spite of myself, for calling me brave, for taking my place, for choosing me again, and again, and again. You’ve taught me to love and be loved.

Speaking of love….

I love your smile, your warmth, the strength and love I feel when you hold me, reading in bed with you, how you make me laugh. I love your mind and the richness of our conversations. I love making music with you, so intimate. How you take time always for us, always, it overwhelms me. You inspire with your kindness and self-sacrifice, how you care for the children tenderly. I love remembering life with you all of these sacred moments. I love living life with you. Always you. You make it all joy.

I love you forever and then some.

This song’s for you:


Double Digits

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Well it’s happened. Three out of five of our darlings are now double digits and I’m not handling this as well as I should be, this defining life-time achievement. They say time flies when you’re having fun but guess what: it also flies when you’re barely hanging on. Or so I’ve learned.

These last ten years have been an adventure to put it lightly. And I’m looking back thinking of so many things I wish I could undo. That’s the melancholy-depressive me talking, the you’re-not-good-enough me, the you’ve-really-done-a-number-on-these-FIVE-kids, ugly-voice me.

That one.

She’s all up in my business right now telling me what I didn’t do, what I should do, and what I can’t undo. The crazy spin she puts me on.

Dear. God. Help.

And I just want to tell our Dot that I’ve done the best I could with what I’ve had. Cop out? Nah, truth. I’m doing the best I can and grace, grace, grace, when I get it wrong and fail and miss the everything beautiful that is today, and this breath, and this one, and this. God, I wish I could get it right all the time.


To love regardless and flawless and not this damn busted-up kind of love, the broke kind. And time doesn’t give do-overs, no call-backs on these last ten years. It won’t wait for all the shoulds to be in place. It just rolls on like a river, sometimes raging, sometimes calm, but always moving.


So I tell “ugly voice” to shut up and the voice of the real me gets a little louder and says: cheers to your double digits, darling. Here’s to many more. Roll on, baby. Roll on.