I feel as though I’ve come up for air after being held under water for 3 years. I’m thanking the universe that someone in a position of power has moved on and that her abusiveness has gone with her.

“Chin up,” I tell the kids when I’m rinsing their hair at bath time. This allows the suds and water to roll marvelously around their ears and down their backs.

Is it really just as simple with the burdens of adulthood? “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.” Singing this song has always given me chills. But the rinsing analogy is offering a new attraction to the song’s wisdom.

I hurt my knee on May 20, 2011. Considering the day was forecast to be our last, I guess I “landed” pretty well. The diagnosis following a month of denial: torn ACL. What troubles me most is that this news triggered my inner movie reel: deaths, abuse, distrust, deaths, illness, food allergies, house mold, contractor abandonment, double job loss, financial tightropes, mistrust, injury paired with the potential financial distress of surgery…

Can you tell me how to position myself to allow these life artifacts to roll away? How to hold my head up high above them to see them as building blocks rather than an avalanche?

3 cups milk (I was short and substituted 1/3 of the milk with half and half.)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
4T unsalted butter, plus butter for the pan
9 or more slices of dryish bread with very edge of crust removed
3 eggs
2 cups peeled, cored and chunked apples
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir the milk, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and warm just until the butter melts.

Choose any two nesting baking dishes. Butter the smaller of the two. This is a good time to test the required water level for the larger pan. ; )

Cut the bread into chunks (1 in. x 1 in. x bread thickness). (I dried mine out a bit by broiling, tossing, broiling and cooling. It would probably also work to leave it out overnight.) Put the bread in buttered baking dish and pour the hot milk mixture over it. (I might have used more than the recommended amount of bread.)

Beat the eggs, wisk in the cardamom, stir in the apple chunks and then fold it all into the bread mixture. Set the baking dish in a larger baking pan and pour enough hot water into the baking pan to come up about an inch from the top of the dish.

Bake for 45–60 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. (I used a glass cover for the first 30 minutes and took it off for the last 30 minutes.)

If desired, broil for about 30 seconds to brown the top. Serve hot or cold. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, cover with lid or foil and heat in a 325°F oven for about 15 minutes. Remove lid or foil and heat for another 5 minutes for a crisper crust.

This recipe is from “H o w t o C o o k E v e r y t h i n g V e g e t a r i a n” b y M a r k B i t t m a n

I have mastered buckwheat pancakes. 1/4 c buckwheat flour, 1/2 c wheat flour, 1/2 c white flour, 2 T sugar, 2 t baking pwdr, 1 beaten egg (beat white 1st), 1–1 1/4 cup milk blended with a generous T of sour cream, 1 T cooking oil.

From Twitter to a BlogHer post asking, “How do you teach your kids about stranger danger?” and this poured out of me. All while I sat in the hall outside my 4YO’s room in an effort to clarify to him that he doesn’t “need” my help to fall asleep. : /

My kids are 2 and 4. We talk about the importance of staying close. Before we cross streets, we hold hands, look both ways and I ask, “Is there any traffic”. They look and must reply “no traffic” before we move. I use every opportunity to remind them to use their own senses, to know the rules and to use judgement.

This relates to the “stranger danger topic” as well. Again, we talk about the importance of staying close. This has been repeated so many times that they truly understand that we MUST be able to see each-other when we’re in public places. If my 4YO asks, “Why?” then I repeat my mantra. I kneel down in front of him, look into his eyes and tell him that if we lost each other, it would make our hearts hurt. Once in a while, he’ll press on with the questioning. In these instances, I have explained to him that some people do mean things because they don’t have love in their hearts.

In stores, I refer to employees as helpers. Once in a while we’ll talk through a “what if you couldn’t find me, who would you ask to help you” scenario. When we encounter a uniformed officer, we make introductions with these “helpers” as possible.

I try to make answers brief. If a child continues with questions, I believe in continuing with answers. Keep it short so as to not overwhelm. Let children play lawyer while you stick to the facts as a witness of your own life experience and awareness.

At bath time, I hand each child a wash cloth and ask them to wash their privates. I hope that this sets a base understanding that they’re allowed personal boundaries.

Help them to explore and grow. Kids may dismiss boogie man scare tactics as unrealistic. Life is a conversation. Before the last book of each evening, I ask, “Is there anything you need to talk about?” This helps them to purge the day. I’m hoping that it opens communication channels that will last into and through the teenage years.

I never used to be able to stand the ticking of a battery-operated wall clock. We’re talking crazy-annoyed. My hearing is nearly as hyper-sensitive as my sense of smell. Neither super power has proven to be very desirable. Tonight, I’m sitting at the kitchen table and reveling in the quiet of the house. The ticking clock over my shoulder brings an odd comfort in this only time of the day that I’m able to hear it.

Change is good. Tomorrow, I’m starting my second full week in blissful full-time employment. The environment is clean (for those of you who know my work history, this isn’t such a funny comment), my co-workers are content and kind, I was asked to help configure the computer for my workstation, my monitor s 24 inches wide, and some of the early work is dreamy — as in, “Could you help us with our corporate branding, national ads, lead-nurturing sales kits and Website?”. YES — and can I hug you?

My core has known that this time would come. That didn’t make the wait — the sleepless nights, the research, the laborious letters, the budgeting — any easier. But the sun is a little brighter these days. The trial has changed me as all difficult things do. Thank you to all who steadied and guided me (and gifted me hard cider) through this quest.

Here’s what I’ve been singing in the car:

The Water is Wide – Dylan & Baez 1975

The water is wide and I can’t cross over
And neither have I wings to fly
Build me a boat That can carry two
And both shall row My love and I

There is a ship And it sails on the sea
loaded deep As deep can be
But not as deep As the love I’m in
I know not if I sink or swim

I leaned my back up against an oak
Thinkin’ it was a trusty tree
But first it bent and then it broke
just like my own false love to me

Oh love is gentle and love is kind
Gay as a jewel When first it’s new
But love grows old And waxes cold
And fades away Like the morning dew

The water is wide and I can’t cross over
And neither have I wings to fly
Build me a boat That can carry two
And both shall row My love and I

Hey, if there’s a next time around, maybe I’ll pursue a night job. Until then, my voice is available for weddings and funerals.

Something good. Something important will come of this time.
Some good things have already come. Stress can either drive a family apart make it huddle together.
1) I’m learning to speak up when I need time to get something done.
2) #1’s vocabulary and compassion are staggering. Weekly library trips and helping with projects seem to offer enough adventure for him.
3) #2 sings joyfully from the time she wakes until bed time and has developed a fondness for books.
4) The love of my life is making progress towards his goal of earning a degree.
5) The house is coming along.
6) I’ve seen the kids something like 900 hours more than I would have if I’d been working full time.
7) We’re learning to allow the kids some independence (which also helps with 1–6).

In an ordinary market, I’m highly-employable. This all has to take a turn and when it does I’m miles ahead of most of my competition. There will be a hiring surge as business picks up. It’s taken time — but I’ve become willing to try temporary-to-permanent options in order to prove my value to people who don’t already know my character, dedication and talent.

Yes, this is a rather large and concerning bump in the road. It will need to be mended — and soon. But we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got. We’re warm. We’re nourished. We’re skilled workers. The kids are usually happy.

I recently helped with an event for families in need. In thanks, the coordinator handed me a $100 grocery gift card. Things like this keep happening. Support trickles in from the universe in the form of advise, reminders of what’s truly important, funding and loving concern.

It’s not our turn for another kick. We’ll find our way.

I’d been mingling with other job seekers today when it the scritching and scratching began. I guess a squirrel had noticed the warm breeze escaping from between our new, poorly-installed (thank you sucky construction company) front door and the frame. So excited was this squirrel, that it aggressively tried to squeeze it’s bulked-up self through the crack.

I was painting when #1 explained to me the device he’d invented. An extra-large rubberband triangulates between the lever handle and lock. A miniature Clifford dog and a cow-jumping-over-the-moon mirror are woven into this. #1 say’s it’s to keep the squirrels out. The whole story came to life when the love of my life returned home to tell the tale. He laughed when I explained the squirrel trap.

Three nights this past week brought me five continuous hours of sleep. My body’s so confused. I might actually catch up on the sleep lost since 2001.

Following kids with colds and the love of my life having the flu, I found myself completely spent. #2 was waking every 1.5 to 2 hours thanks to some airflow problems in her nose. One morning, I finally broke. I knew that I couldn’t go to her with any reasonable level of compassion so I asked her daddy to rescue her. She SCREAMED. This was not what she expected. They coped. I listened, relaxed and realized I’d need to locate ear plugs in order to maximize the experience.

So, now she gets me once. The love of my life helps her beyond this. What’s even cooler? For the most part, she’s decided that she only wants to get up once. But wait, there’s more. Last night, she went to bed at 9:30 p.m., woke at 6:00 a.m., passed out at 7:45 a.m. after watching me page through National Geographic magazines and then woke at 10:04 a.m. This afternoon, she slept in the car for more than a half hour.

I know, I know. Anyone experienced in parenting knows that these days of freakish sleep are infrequent and sporadic. She’ll sprout another two inches and then reduce rest hours. But I’ll take it.

Seriously, going from full-time work plus school to miscarriages to full-on motherhood to food allergies to near miscarriage to sucky contractors and job loss. I’m not the whiny type, but I was getting close. Sleep is welcome. Sleep is healing. More, please.

Sweet dreams, I’ve missed you so.

The kids have been sick since a couple days following their H1N1 shots. I expect they picked up something in the lobby. That just isn’t fair. Looks like we might miss the festivities in the interest of keeping extended family well.

Bummer. Alas, we have veggie burgers here too.

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