Blessings

A May birthday, followed by Mother’s Day, and I find myself spoiled. Eating out, carrot cake from Jeannine’s, boxes of chocolate and books about bees. Homemade cards, and goldfish cards, and dinosaur cards. It’s good that there are lots of events swirling around me to keep me giving. Concerts, receptions to organize, school barbecues to plan, graduation announcements to mail, hugs to give to stressed out teens as they approach finals. Yes, it all balances out beautifully. The give and the take, the gifts and the giving.

But I’m especially excited about one gift that is still en route. If you were at school with me in Angers, France, during the summer of 1984–then you would understand. You would know that I could live on eating chaussons aux pommes, and that I’m fierce when it comes to winning…

I’m getting my very own ping pong table!

I am one blessed mama.

Hope you had an amazing weekend, and that the giving and the getting has found a sweet harmony in your life, too!

Moment by Moment

For three weeks we’ve been battling one domestic dilemma after another. From colds, to migraines, to coughs, to infections. Trying to homeschool a sleeping boy has been difficult (cough, cough through the night, and sleep, sleep during the day). Trying to tend to others when I’ve been unwell myself has been interesting. (My bed has looked so inviting, that I’ve stopped walking by my room.) Cleaning, washing, nursing, slogging back and forth to the pharmacy, making herbal concoctions, and canceling everything. It has been a moment by moment world.

Somehow, in the midst of the madness, we had a Sunday birthday celebration. (Built two birdhouses with papa, goofed around with grandpa, carved a happy pumpkin with grandma [while I slept] made homemade pizza, and roasted marshmallows in the fireplace.)

Somehow, Halloween came and went. Our neighborhood, for better or for worse, is Halloween Central. I get to greet all the little, amazing, beautiful children at our front door and look into their eyes and laugh with them. But it’s true that we have a witch who lives next door. She loves frightening all the little people–so we took her a batch of rosemary rolls yesterday–as a peace-keeping measure–because John Ronan, now that he realizes this, isn’t liking living next door to a part-time witch.

And somewhere in there I managed to bake two wonderful, delicious loaves of pumpkin bread. See, it isn’t all laundry and scrubbing.

And seriously, living moment by moment is one of mankind’s better inspirations. Focusing all my energy on one little sick person, or on one task, has transported this ever-healing phrase from the deep places of my heart, up through whatever nerves carry prayers, and has landed it on my whispering lips,

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Sweet Afterglow

In the afterglow of Pascha, this family has been enjoying each day and all the fun that comes with being able to finally shout out Christ is Risen! Plus, there are Easter goodies to nibble on,

new books floating from table to desk, and flowers all around that shout spring is here!

And spring has sprung. It has been more like summer here on many days, urging me to the beach for a sit in the sand while the little one throws rocks or generally spins in wild circles. My ankle is still a bit tender, so I’ve confined my fun there to collecting rocks…

and more rocks…

And I’ve been baking. Making scones, for tea parties, and trying old recipes again. Sometimes old recipes don’t come out as well as they did before, so instead of being sad, you get silly…

And sometimes you have a friend who gets sick. Really sick. So sick you don’t see her at church for weeks, so you call and ask if there’s anything you can do, and then you make her rosemary rolls.

And then, it’s your birthday! Plus Mother’s Day heaped right on top, so someone else bakes you a cake. And they put a sheep on the cake–just because. Just because you’re part Basque, and you have little sheep here and there around the house, and because this particular sheep just happened to be hanging out near the cake when the photo was taken.

Oh, that yummy cake. A mix from Williams-Sonoma that is so packed with butter that you can only eat slivers at a time. But somehow, two days later, there’s not much left.

And speaking of not much left… The school year is coming to a close, with summer days already tempting me toward a looser schedule and lots of writing time. For this summer will take me back to pen and paper, and hopefully story after story. Stories have been piling up in this red-headed head of mine, just bursting to get out.

Meanwhile, I’ve got bread on the rise, and kids to wrangle, and slivers of chocolate cake still to nibble on.

What about you? What have these Bright Days been like for you? And what sorts of summer plans are in the days ahead in your life?

And do you have little sheep popping up in your pictures, too?

Birthday Cake

(My husband) baked one very large cake

for one very small person…

He flew out of bed while it was still dark, to heat the (still-broken–only-baking-on-convection) oven and start the (Jungle) cake.

Later in the day, we had a party in the forest.

John Ronan, who turned FIVE, wanted a surprise party. So we did just that–surprised him, jumping out from behind the trees! He’s still talking about that…

We hiked to the oak grove,

ate some cake, tried to sing him Many Years, but because it wasn’t officially his birthday, he shut his ears…

He opened presents, then we shot a photo of the gang. What a gang–what a day!

If I could be five again, I might want a Surprise Adventure Birthday in the Forest, too.

What about you–if you were five again, how might you want to celebrate? 🙂

Sixteen Candles and World Peace

32 rosemary rolls

Mixed: 1:15 pm

Molded: 3:15 pm

Baked: 5:30 (had to do a bit of retarding because of oven sharing)

Gave to: Kai, Wayland, Andrew, Austin, Garrett, Riley, Mad, Hannah, Ben, Gabe, Aaron, Leti, Donny, Chiara, Douglas, and John Ronan

Summer is in full swing, and there’s nothing like a herd of teenagers to cause a baker to have to quadruple her recipe. What fun I had mixing up more than eight pounds of dough to contribute to my eldest son’s birthday celebration. And there’s nothing like baking bread for happy customers. I had intended to give away any leftover rolls to neighbors, but was there any leftover bread to give?!

Part of the birthday gang

Boys being boys- taking showers with soda

Four lemon meringue pies, sixteen candles

Soon, we’re off to New England on a long-awaited adventure. I’ll be toting along some of our family’s ancient sourdough starter, hoping to bake, and give, while we’re away. I learned just last year that sourdough starter travels well in luggage–no bursting out of its baggies, or bubbling over in the suitcase, so my already well-traveled mama dough will gain some new yeasty companions to intermingle with. I think the blending of the yeasts will be a peaceful affair. I pray so. There’s nothing like the pursuit of peace, whether you’re a boy of sixteen candles or a mama…

who needs a vacation.

Birthday Bread–Play by Play

More rosemary rolls–20 of them

Mixed: 6:30 pm

Molded: 9 pm (then retarded in fridge all night)

Baked: 7 am

Fed nine on my birthday/island adventure

Last year my birthday was celebrated amidst a wildfire catastrophe, so this year we decided to create our own adventure and take a day trip to Santa Cruz Island, an uninhabited slice of land that graces the Santa Barbara Channel. I’ve wanted to visit this island for years…

There are no services offered on the island, just fresh water and outhouses, so we needed to pack whatever we’d need for the day. Birthday fare included: homemade rosemary rolls (my current favorite!), hard Italian salami from Via Maestra, jazz apples, green olives, gorgonzola cheese, water, and a wee bit of wine. But first! we had to trek to our picnic spot and earn our vittles…

It was a beautiful, warm day and the vistas were inspiring…

Some of us struggled at about mile two. The trail was steep, the wind was blowing, and my daughter is a drama queen!

Finally, we ate lunch at the mountain top, amidst fields of wild grasses. The rosemary rolls were a gigantic hit!

Refueled, we hiked the remaining two miles, played in the valley, climbed trees, marveled at the foxes and soaked up the beauty of that rugged place.

In the afternoon we reboarded the boat, a few rolls left in the backpack for those in our party who don’t like the topsy turvy water. (Munching on bread helps keep the mind and the tummy from rebelling.) But who had time to think about seasickness? The channel was teeming with seals, sea lions, porpoise and humpback whales all playing in the large swells; it was quite a birthday show.

I’m already planning a trip back.