Mother Earth Four Seasons of Mother Earth: Summer 2015

11737925_10153400271499098_4367294883785814757_nMother Earth Brewery has done it again. Their Summer Season release: Bourbon barrel-aged Tripel with sweet orange peel and hopped with Mosaic.

This Bourbon Barrel-Aged Tripel coming in at 10.2% is affectionately known as “Bouyah!” This Belgian Ale is a blend of rested barrels that spent between 6 and 8 months maturing in Buffalo Trace & Four Roses Barrels. It is nicely balanced and should mature beautifully.

The flavor – Apricot, Orange, Bourbon and that lovely Mosaic hop flavor

Style – Tripel

Scent –Fruity, boozy and a little pine. Very pleasant on the nose

Pour-  Medium pretty amber with a creamy white head

Body – Sweet body, smooth and not sticky

ABV – 10.2%

Finish – Creamy, slightly bitter, not much alcohol on the back end

Cheese Pairing –Triple Creme Brie would be DELISH (add some prosciutto)

Food  Anything with prominent basil flavor. A nice peach cobbler would be great for dessert

Side note: I totally love their artwork

4 out of 5 stars

4 out  of 5

Nerf Bullets and Other Things I Miss

download (1)Yesterday I passed a home that had about 100 Nerf bullets lying around the yard. A veritable shrine of harmless shrapnel left behind from an afternoon of fun by some little family. It made me sigh as I realized how much I missed seeing Nerf bullets spew from every crevice in my house. When the cherubs were little it used to drive me crazy. Everywhere I looked I would see Nerf bullets, legos, super hero action figures and pellets rolling around. I used to cajole, beg and nag them to pick them up. I even provided color coded buckets. They would comply to the best of their 6 & 8 year old ability. But let’s face it they had the attention span of a gnat. There was still stuff everywhere. We would sit on the couch and get a little batman hand in an uncomfortable place or step on a lego on the way to the bathroom

It got me thinking of all the things that used to irritate me. In retrospect they were really precious fleeting moments. I wish I could have appreciated them at the time.

That is the funny thing about parenting. Almost every moment is precious, you just don’t know it until it is gone.

Below is my list of some things I wish I could have as a do over;

  • One of my cherubs could not fall asleep unless I rubbed their back. I just wanted to go to bed. Exhausted I would fall asleep too. But 9 out of 10 times I would wake up later with a sweet little chubby arm around my neck.
  • GHMILY_homepage_05_fullpageReading “Guess How Much I Love You”? 5 times in a row every night.

Now I get teary every time I look at that dusty book on my shelf and realize no one wants me to read it to them.

  • Brushing their teeth – By the time I wrangled them to the bathroom and had them sit still for 2 minutes I was tuckered out. But my memory is of how sweet their little faces were looking up with such trust.
  • Baths seemed like such a mess at the time, especially when 2 or 3 of them were in the tub together. Actually it was such a sweet time of laughter. The mess seems insignificant now.
  • Playing games in the car or in a restaurant. At the time I just wanted a little peace and quiet.I did not want to play I Spy again. Now I have plenty of peace and quiet. I am not complaining. I appreciate this time but I really wish I had just enjoyed a few more games instead of powering through them to keep everyone quiet.
  • “Mom come in the pool, please mom, it isn’t very cold. Mom get in the pool”  30 times over and over. – for the love all I wanted to do was read a magazine and make sure everyone was safe. Now they drive off to the pool or the beach and give me a hug goodbye. I would love to soak in how tickled they would get when I actually got in the pool.
  • Santa exposed – I have to be honest the first year cherub #3 grew out of Santa was pretty sweet. No more evading the “Is Santa real”? question. It took a ton of pressure off. I wasn’t secretly buying and hiding gifts weeks before Christmas. I didn’t have to sneak home on my lunch break to wrap them. I didn’t have to write the letter of thanks for the cookies in a false writing to throw them off the scent. It was a super easy Christmas. That lasted about a minute and then I realized that it had changed forever. It isn’t a bad change but it is different and it will never be that way again.
  • Little people crawling into bed in the wee hours. Sure it meant an occasional foot in the face or slap upside the head in the middle of the night but it also meant smelling their sweet little toddler smells and kissing their hands that still hadn’t formed knuckles. Now they don’t smell very sweet and they have giant hands with knuckles.
  • 81KLgGUhNbL._SL1500_Those noisy toys. It is not that I miss the noise. I am actually glad that is over, but I miss their delight in playing with them and watching their little chubby legs waddle around pushing or pulling whatever it was. Now it is earplugs in, tuned into technology or studying for school. I miss playtime.

 

. What about you? When you look back what do you want to remember? Think about what bugs you now and project out 10 years when your little cherubs are driving off into the sunset on whatever adventure they are going to without you.

You will have lots of time to cook, keep the house clean, exercise and all that stuff that seems important now and you may realize it was never important at all.

 

 

For the Love….. I am so tired of hearing myself complain

8263543900_d3bc61849e_bAs many of you know I use my walks  to spend QT with God. I go technology free and trudge up those hills. I try to pray and talk to God the entire time (albeit my mind wanders to my shopping lists, to do lists etc.) but I reign it back to prayer. I have this visual of Jesus and me walking around hand in hand or sometimes he has his arm around me.

It is by far the most centering time of my week.

Well last week during my QT with God  I was very frustrated with where I am in my faith walk. I was frustrated by what a crappy wife and cranky mom I have been lately, I was frustrated that I pray for opportunities to serve and when they turn messy I get exasperated and burnt out. I was frustrated by our finances, our car… you  name it.

I basically spent my entire walk complaining and moaning. I even went as far as to complain that I was complaining.

Poor God, If I get tired of hearing me, He must really get tired of me. I picture Him deep sighing and then settling in for our hour walk.

 

I am not a patient person. I want to be Godly now. I want to walk around exuding this light that points people to God. I want to serve selflessly and never get tired or overwhelmed. I want to speak with only kindness and understanding. I want to spew pearls of wisdom from my mouth that point people to God. I want to happily turn the other check 70 times instead of begrudgingly turning it once. I want to appreciate my lame car and all my blessings instead of not being satisfied with the abundance I surrounded by.

During my spiral I had this little quiet thought pop in my head. “Look how far you have come” “You just have to be better today than you were yesterday”

It was such a relief.

I took a deep breath.

It was nice perspective. Thanks God

It is a manageable goal.  Each day I just need to try to be better than yesterday. When I see my own cherubs trying to be better there is nothing that gives me greater joy. I feel like that is how God must feel when he sees us really trying. Even if we falter, as long as we pick ourselves up and power forward.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I Finally Found a Discipline Technique that Works on Teens

imagesNow that summer is here and my house looks like the sloth exhibit at the zoo I have reached my annual disgust/summer hysteria at the laziness my cherubs display.

I always give them a free first week to watch TV, play video games, sleep in etc. It is my no nagging week. After that I set up a list of chores & school mandated summer reading.

Honestly I feel I am pretty easy to get along with, I am not asking them to dig ditches, just basic stuff; do your own dishes, brush the dogs, sweep blah blah blah.

By their reaction you would think they had been sold into slavery and were working 18 hour days with a few saltines as their only snack.

Every summer we go through this cycle of my calmly asking… them looking up from their show or video game and saying sure thing.

Me calmly asking again,,,this time to a slightly disgusted response of; “We said we would do it”

This quickly spirals from my calm request to a much more cranky and insistent demand.

At this point I abruptly (with loud exaggerated stomping and a flourish of hand gestures) turn off whatever they were doing in the middle of whatever game or show was on.

This results in much loathing towards me and just all around teenagery snottiness.

And they still are not getting anything done.

This year after the first dysfunctional week I decided something had to change. I put allowance in their bank accounts at the start of every month. They get x $ amount in exchange for doing chores.

This summer I ask once, I give a gentle reminder and then I am done. I take away a % of their money every week if the chores don’t get done. I just transfer from their account back to mine. I don’t yell. I really don’t care anymore. I am using the extra money to hire a house cleaner once a month to help me out.

When this results in indignation and a general dislike of me I don’t care either. I used to yell or get sarcastic. Now I do not say a word. One benefit is that I am getting great passive aggressive pleasure because it drives them crazy. But it also comes with another benefit. One that I had not anticipated and am just tickled pink about.

Without my nagging and responding to their negativity they go off in a huff, slam doors, mumble things about how rotten and unfair I am. But, 20 minutes or so later, they come out apologize and do their chores.

Who knew??? It is the craziest thing.

I almost get excited now when they don’t do their chores because I feel like I am participating in some amazing scientific experiment that is working. It is like finding a cure for a rotten disease.

I wish I had stumbled on to this 15 years ago. Better late than never I guess. Just don’t say anything back to your kids when they are snotty. Wow!

 

Satan is a Turd

downloadWhen I was a newer Christian and my more mature Christian friends spoke about the devil or the enemy it used to totally freak me out.

Honestly I thought the people who talked about being vigilant because the enemy is just waiting like a lion to attack were pretty scary religious zealots.

As the years have passed and I have seen more and more inexplicable things happen I totally get it now. The enemy is real and he is clever, patient, manipulative, and very strategic.

All the times that life kind of blows up in my face and I sit there wondering “What the heck just happened” are examples of the enemy prowling and seeking someone to devour. They are attacks strategically set to undermine the strength of a family and faith.

I don’t know about you but when things are going great and I feel blissfully happy all of a sudden a rug is pulled out.

We are getting along great and then a random lame argument.

The cherubs are making us proud and then one of them goes to a party and has a few drinks

Or we have a few extra dollars and bammmm a giant dental expense.

We are then left shell shocked because things were going so great. Sure they are all just the normal things that happen in life. But they quite a departure from our happy space of 20 minutes ago.

These bumps in the road are not the issue.

They are just the tools the devil uses to derail us.

It just recently happened to us. Mr Incredible and I just got back from a romantic full week away with no cherubs. We snuggled as we read the paper and had coffee in bed.  We dined in little quaint restaurants and wandered the streets hand in hand. It was ideal. We talked about how blessed we were to be married 20 years and still be so in love. How great the cherubs were…. blah blah blah.

We arrive home and just about the moment we get our bags reality was there to slap us upside the head.

Nothing huge, just the speed bumps I was talking about;

But all of sudden Mr Incredible and I have a a difference of opinion and that led to one of the most strained times we have had in many years.

The seed of bitterness took root in both of our hearts quickly. We went from being crazy in love to a yucky yucky place in the matter of a couple of days.

It got me thinking. Why does this happen so often? How are so easily led astray?

Well here is my theory;

Scripture describes this adversary as a thief who is bent on robbing, killing and destroying.

The enemy hates when we are strong and united. There is no greater threat to him than a family strong in faith. What better way to stop spreading the gospel than to let bitterness and anger creep in and slowly eat away at the family institution God commanded.

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25

So the enemy swoops in and subtly chips away at that foundation. He knows where you are weak. He is the one who gave you your baggage so he knows exactly when to unpack it so it does the most damage.

Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Matthew 12:29

When we take our blessing for granted, when things are good and we forget to pray, give thanks, read our bible, we hand the binds to Satan and allow him to plunder our house.

I am not saying to be wary of good times but we need to vigilant during good times. Be aware that Satan is waiting to destroy our families in his sneaky terrible way. Exploiting our weaknesses and using them for his amusement.

Well I say screw the devil. The only authority he has over us  is that which we give him. We have God on our side. We simply need to stay connected to Jesus and turn to him as often in times of peaces as we do in times of strife.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4  

 

Talking to Your Kids About Sex…what worked for us

sex_talkDuring our 17+ years of parenting we have come up with an ever growing looonggg list of things we wish we had done differently.

We also have a much shorter list of things we think we did pretty well.

One of those things on our short list is how we approached talking about sex and puberty.

All of our babies (now 17, 17, 15 and 11) have been pretty comfortable chatting with us about most anything from where do babies come from to condoms to other more intimate things.

It is not like they come home and share it at the dinner table but it will be a subtle comment like, “I told such and such that I loved her today” or “Mom, I had my first kiss last night” (usually when just the two of us are driving somewhere so there is no direct eye contact.) This will lead to a larger conversation where you can ask your child to weigh in with their opinion or ask them if they have questions about specifics. One of my favorite lines was from my, then 13 year old, who had his first kiss. He proceeded to ask me if he was supposed to launch into french kissing the next time he saw this girl. I am grateful we could discuss that question instead of him thinking he needed to shove his tongue down a 13 year old girl’s throat.

We started the dialogue about sex as soon as they asked the first “kind of sex” question. Our rule is you can ask anything you want  and we will answer you honestly as long as it is not personal. So they can ask,” What happens when a man and woman have sex”? but not “How many times a week do you and daddy have sex”?  We try to give them age appropriate straight forward answers with just the information they were requesting. If they asked where babies come from we would give an explanation like, “a baby grows inside the mother and that at the right time he or she comes into the world through the mother’s vagina.”  They then scream ewww gross and wouldn’t ask anything for a few months. But the key is that they do continue to ask.

As they got older and more curious they would want more detail and we would elaborate with just the facts.

We also attend Lovefest every year. Lovefest is an amazing program put on by Our Savior Lutheran in Arcadia, CA. It consist of a variety of different topics (cyber bullying, masturbation, healthy body image etc.) You and your child attend certain forums together and then you go your own way and pick the symposiums that interest you.  The beauty of this event is that it throws the doors wide open about any subject. Each presenter tackles the subject openly, many with humor, and more importantly with God’s design and plan for your sexuality.

Our rides home from Lovefest would be full of questions and discussions. It helps instill the fact that sex is a positive, beautiful gift from God, provided you participate in it according to God’s design.

Now that they have serious girlfriends the decisions they make carry much more significant ramifications. We are grateful that sex is not a taboo subject, that they are not learning from their peers. We feel like we have equipped them to make respectful and sound choices.

You don’t have to have a Lovefest in order to have an open dialogue about sex. We didn’t make it a  big one time birds and bees discussion. It is just something we always talked about.

If that makes you nervous start small. If they are little just ask them what they know about sex? What have they heard? You may be shocked what they already know or think they know.

We always felt that giving a child facts about reproduction and puberty, including details about intercourse, does not rob him of innocence. Innocence is a function of attitude, not information. A school-age child who understands the specifics of sex, while seeing it as an act that, in the proper context, both expresses love and begins new life, retains his innocence.

Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.

Matthew 19:5  ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’

 

Is Marriage What You Thought It Would Be?

1525362_754230801271844_1053880033_nToday we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. On our wedding day 20 years seemed so far away but we blinked and we have arrived.

Of course we arrived over a longgggg bumpy road. Sometimes the trip was lovely and sometimes it was not. We have been blessed with many magnificent moments. We have also been blessed with a fair share of yucky ones.

If you have a few years of marriage under your belt the realization that it is not the fairy tale you dreamed has probably slapped you upside the head a few times.

Our culture portrays this illusion of how marriage should be.When we grow up we have this kind of warped perception . We think we can fill the void in each other.

We all saw Jerry Macguire. The “You complete me” line made us swoon. That line, among many other things, set an unobtainable bar.

I don’t know about you, but we went into marriage expecting the other person to make us happy.

When we fell short we felt cheated.

We started to blame the other person for our discontent.

I am sure our marriage story is like most. There was lots of finger pointing, feeling victimized, feeling like we are the ones who did the most, plus a thousand other small petty grievances. All of these perceived slights led to lots of disappointment and ugliness.

We were expecting the other person to do what God wants to do for us. How much pressure is that? How could we not flounder? Everyone comes into marriage flawed and with some type of baggage. The other person is not there to fix us. Sure they can help us unpack some of that baggage, but the fixing is ultimatly between us and God

After quite a bit of time in marriage counseling, going to bible studies and being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, we finally realized the only way to be complete was to rely on Jesus. It took a ton of pressure off.

Our marriage isn’t what I dreamt it would be, it is so much more. What started off as selfish and self serving has turned into a partnership led by Christ. We have learned to serve one another. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard was this;

Every morning when you wake up ask God how you can serve your spouse instead of going into the day wondering what our spouse can do to make our life better.

Just changing that mindset can change a marriage. Marriage isn’t meant to be self focused it is meant to be selfless.

So cheers to 20 years with Mr. Incredible. I have been blessed with an amazing husband and father. We walk hand in hand down a much less bumpy path, content to know that Jesus has our back. After all He is for us.

If we have come this far in 20 years I can only imagine what I will write about in another 20 years.

Here is a fun tidbit. As my littlest cherub watches me finish this up she noticed that the verse I chose happens to be the same as our anniversary date. Coincidence? I think not.It is more like a little hug from God!

Ephesians 5:22-33

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.

What Should the Spiritual Leader of Your Home Look Like?

images (1)During our women’s bible study we spiral off on many tangents. Last night we started discussing how we gals are primarily the spiritual leaders in our home, not our husbands. We went back and forth about the issue. Some of us lamenting that we wanted our spouses to step up and others being glad to carry the torch.

The thing we did not address is what does it mean to be the spiritual leader of a home?

I was one of the lamenters.  I have this idea that my husband should lead us in prayer and devotions. He should be the flag bearer to get us to church. We will all hold hands as he recites scripture. I am sure there are plenty of families who live that scenario. We are just not one of them. I doubt we ever will be. So by my husband not living up to this ideal, in my mind, he has failed.

Well thank goodness I have friends who are wiser than me. I don’t know what I would do without my girlfriends. One of these wiser friends went home and was chatting with her equally wise husband. I just loved his perspective as to what a spiritual leader should look like. In a nutshell – A man can be a spiritual leader by the way he lives his life.

Based on that thought when I re-evaluate what attributes I think make a spiritual leader I realize my husband possesses quite a few.

A spiritual leader is a man who loves his family passionately.

A spiritual leader makes time for his families activities, games etc He is present.

A spiritual leader hugs his almost grown man children all the time.

A spiritual leader dances around the house with his daughter.

He prays for his family all the time. It just isn’t out loud  while we are all holding hands around the table

A spiritual leader leaves you and your family no question about  his faith

My stereotype ideal of a spiritual leader is not at all what a spiritual leader needs to be. If your family knows your husband stands strong for Jesus that is all the leadership we need.

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

 

Now I Know Why Old People Drive So Slow

oldwomandrivingI am one of those people who can be an impatient driver, especially when I am behind someone (usually elderly) who is going slightly below the speed limit with their turn signal incessantly blinking.

But recently I have developed this theory of why the elderly drive so cautiously.

Since my oldest son has started driving I have this hyper awareness of how other people drive. Now every time I drive I feel like I have developed some type of spider sense. It is like I see everything that could happen. There are the people who race up to stop lights, the zig zaggers in traffic, the motorcycles that are going 40 miles an hour over the speed limit. Each situation makes me wonder how my son will navigate the array of dangerous drivers.

Now when I drive I audibly gasp multiple times, even when I am by myself. I drive so much differently than I did a year ago, slower. more cautious, turn signals, basically the way  we are supposed to drive before you have 30 years of driving under your belt and sometimes use your knee to steer so you can drink your coffee.

I can only imagine it is going to get worse.My hyper driving sense is getting more keen each day. My son is getting more comfortable driving each day, which means I am getting more uncomfortable driving each day.

Sometimes the circle of life is funny, not ha ha funny, but dang it funny. I also have a new respect and patience for elderly drivers. Heck they are just trying to survive the ride from point A to point B.

I get it.

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Bestowing Grace (sometimes)

BLOG-Frightened-ChildI always “joke” that I am taking humbleness and patience off my prayer list because when I pray for these things God gives me the opportunity to practice them….a lot. Honestly I am humbled within the first 1 minute of my Pilates class on a weekly basis.

But last week I heard this great tid-bit from a Focus on the Family pod cast about  viewing each challenging situation as an opportunity to practice grace.

I have added this to my prayer list every morning.

Needless to say an opportunity to practice this new skill presents itself within 3 minutes after I am awake. Two of my four cherubs always wake up crabby. There is grumbling and complaining daily. Every once in a while a tragedy i.e. we are out of toaster waffles, causes a complete rapid spiral. When this happens grace is not a word I would use to describe how I handle the hysteria that has taken over our house.

But with my new attitude I am praying through it. “God please allow me to practice grace in every circumstance, even this one. Thank you for this opportunity to practice bestowing your grace”

I am not saying it works every time. In fact it is currently only working about 20% of the time, but I figure that is 20% better than I was last week. And the times that it does work are actually pretty glorious. Once things have settled I am so glad to have kept my cool and more importantly my family is responding so positively to me not freaking out.

Give it a whirl mommas. I promise you will be pleased with the outcome. I don’t think anyone ever regrets not loosing their temper.

2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,

2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.