Potpourri 

I use this title repeatedly for posts that contain snippets and snapshots of my life at the moment. 


I tried to take the day off today since I haven’t had one in quite a while. This afternoon the children and I weeded the garden until I broke the hoe. Then we raked and swept the bare dirt under our big maple tree for summer play time. I started a fire in the pit and called a family circle time with the children. (The husband wasn’t home from work yet.) We talked about our day; what we liked and didn’t like and about how we could better support each other. I wondered what the world would be like if we took more time for circles like these. My heart is most at home in the mountains (or even our backyard) around a campfire, so for me it seems such an easy solution for everyone to get along. 🙂


As we were weeding, one of the children exclaimed, “You mean weeds have roots?!” I explained that weeds and good plants all have roots, so we need to be careful what we allow to grow in our garden. I couldn’t help but mentally relate that to our lives. Whatever seeds we allow to take root will be what flourishes. Roots of bitterness can grow deep. So can roots of gratitude. What seeds are we nurturing?


I had other plans for supper, but the baby refused to let me put her down. (A combination of how busy I’ve been and having to come indoors.) Last evening I deboned BBQ chicken from church, added brown rice and corn and cooked it in my new electric pressure cooker. It was fabulous. This evening I simply “creamed” the leftovers with milk and sour cream and added some smoked paprika. I wanted to make Indian Fry Bread, but I couldn’t with one hand so I separated leftover hotdog buns from a party we’d had, spread about a half teaspoon of mayo on each one, sprinkled some garlic powder, topped with shredded cheese and broiled to toast. I felt guilty at first. I’ve never done something like that with hotdog buns before, but it was a huge hit with the children. Certainly not the most nutritious meal to grace our table, but it was tasty, our tummies were sufficiently full, we used a number of leftovers, and the baby didn’t have to cry while I cooked. #simplesupperscore


I posted this photo on my Facebook page earlier, but it bears repeating. Really folks, a little kindness goes a long way. As I said on the post, it is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us. The real test is being kind to those who are not. I’ve prayed for special grace from others as I’ve gone through difficult times and perhaps responded or acted in ways that were less than stellar and I need to remember to extend that same grace to others. We truly seldom know the battles others are facing and a random act of kindness and a simple gesture of grace can give someone a boost when they most need it. 


I’ve been reading lots of books while I write my own. Now that our annual Sadie Rose 5K is behind us for another year, I am devoted to finishing my book. 

Screen free week activities and insights 

From Monday morning to last evening, Friday, our family participated in a mostly screen free week; no TV, iPad, video games, etc, with the exception of what my husband and I had to use for work. While we monitor our children’s screen time to what we feel like is a fair amount, we still felt like going screen free for a week would be a good experiment. 

I couldn’t wait until the end of the week to share with you our warm glowing stories of family domestication perfection. While some of that most definitely occurred, I realized quickly that screen time can also diffuse sibling rivalry. I found myself diffusing them instead, which of course is part of mom’s job description. 🙂

I didn’t take many pictures because I didn’t want my phone in my own hand while reminding the children we were “screen free.” 

Some of our activities this week included newspaper reading, story telling contests that included real-life accounts from mine and Lee’s childhood and hilarious home-spun tales from the littles. Most of the stories were told in our basement with only oil lamps and candles to set the aura. 

We shared multiple kitchen adventures which included two “hit” nights where all five of us absolutely loved the meals! Both were simple and inexpensive. The one was using pancetta I’d bought at Aldi’s (a wonderful discount grocery store) tossed with cooked whole wheat spaghetti, peas, and a cream sauce with half and half and stone ground mustard. 


The second was this copycat Panera Bread broccoli cheese soup. The only things I did differently was decrease the amount of butter significantly and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. We literally devoured this soup!

I’ve been allowing the two older children to help with supervised peeling and chopping, mixing and stirring. Through this, our 5-year-old daughter found that she loves cooked beets! If I would have just put them in her plate and told her to try them, she would have wrinkles her nose. 

The children also made chocolate-dipped goodies all on their own. 


A lot of sugar here, I recognize that, but with limited sweets overall we still allow them to enjoy these treats occasionally. 

Between our two school-aged children, they were recognized in their school for Character Counts, Kids for Kindness, and ten stars on their “caught being good” fish! We don’t always get it right, but those moments sure do encourage us! 

We played instruments and learned new songs and chords on the guitar, mandolin, and ukulele. They drew lots of pictures and folded multiple paper airplanes. We practiced running for our annual Sadie Rose 5K this weekend. 


Unfortunately I’m dealing with some serious heel pain and this run put me out of commission for an entire evening. I went to bed to read about 7:30 and stayed there until 6 the next morning. I don’t know the last time that had happened!

We had delightful clouds for picture imagination. 


Our son took this picture of Papaw’s dog leaping through the air. 🙂

Overall, it was definitely a good decision for our family and something we will do more often perhaps by day or weekend. It’s good to be back in touch, though, too. 

Have a great weekend!

Screen Free Week

Dear Friends, just so you know what’s going on, my family and I are participating in “screen free” week starting tomorrow, May 1- Sunday May 7. I will be online for very limited times in relationship to my work, but I won’t be scrolling through news feeds and will probably miss a lot. Should you need or want to reach me, please do so via email or Facebook messenger and I will respond when I can, or use the old-fashioned method of calling. 

The children and I practiced an electronics-free evening last night. We lit oil lamps and had a story-telling contest. They couldn’t wait to do it again. 

I hope many of you will also participate in some way or another and that we all enjoy our families, our friendships, and our solitude in a new way. 

See you on the other side. 

Happy Adoption Day

It is with unspeakable joy that we officially introduce our daughter, Korana (CORE-ahna) Sky Harlow.


We are not naive to the sorrow that brought her to us, and we are especially mindful of our own sorrow that opened our hearts to receive her as our own. Our first-born daughter, Sadie Rose, would be 10 this year. She died less than twenty-four hours after she was born. Korana and her birth family have had their own sadness that is not ours to tell, but Korana has truly come “By Way of Sorrow.” (Song references and words used by permission of the writer, Julie Miller.)

The nights joy slept for us have finally awakened to days of laughter. The healing addition of two more rockstar biological children, a non-profit in our daughter’s memory, and this sweet babe complete our family. 

We are eternally grateful to all who supported us on this incredible journey of preparation to become foster parents, caring for us upon her arrival, and walking with us on the uncertain road of fostering through the social services system. Thank you for those who prayed for us as our own hearts were torn between genuinely believing for a fully restored birth family and the unimaginable reality that until now she wasn’t ours to keep.

Many times I fell to my knees, unable on my own to support, pray, and accept all the twists and turns of this journey. Many times I re-lived the hours after Sadie’s birth as life and loss hung in the balance. Many times I could hardly catch my breath as fear and hope tangoed in my heart. Many times I surrendered it all to God. Many times I took it back, scared to hold on, terrified to release.

Much more about this journey in my forthcoming book, “By Way of Sorrow – a story of life, death, adoption, and hope.”

With genuine compassion for all who are part of this story, her story, our story, we celebrate our “gotcha day,” April 24, 2017.

Below is a seven minute video summarizing the past eighteen months. The first accompaniment song is “By Way of Sorrow,” written by Julie Miller and recorded by the Wailin Jennys. The second song is “Happy Adoption Day,” written and performed by John McCutcheon.

 

 

A New Name

I didn’t have a name for three days when I was born. My parents were waiting for the perfect moniker to dawn on them for their fifth child. Finally, they named me after a protagonist in the novel, “Not Regina,” by Christmas Carol Coffman. 

My first website, moons ago, was “inspiredramblings.” Later I started a new site, “myinspiredramblings,” but my writing was sporadic and I left it sitting there like a book collecting dust on a shelf. At one point I also had a recipe blog called, “The Kitchen Chic.”

Last year, I decided to start blogging with intention under the identity, “Spicy Spirit Sister,” the name a reference to recipes, food, soul care, and ministry, all of which I love.   

Many of you started following me under this name and I’ve truly appreciated your friendship and feedback. However, the moniker still didn’t feel authentic. I could just as well have titled my site “the conservative hippie,” (explanation warrants a post of its own) “the grief companion,” “my plant-based-ish family,” or “the ordinarian,” and all of them would have represented parts of the whole.

As I take my writing career to the next level, I’ve returned to the name so thoughtfully given to me at birth for my web address. This name encompasses all of the nuances that make me, me. The title of my site returns to “Inspired Ramblings.” 


I look forward to continuing our connection and friendship here. 

Tip for getting out of the cooking rut

I’ve finally gotten back in the kitchen to create a well-rounded meal. I like to come up with different challenges to get out of my usual cooking habits. Something I do occasionally is try to create a complete meal from one recipe book. I did that this evening with this book. 

This evening I made chickpea and spinach stew served over cooked and fluffed cracked wheat. 


Topped with garlic mayonnaise. 


Our side was honey mustard glazed carrots. 



I also have two loaves of cracked wheat-honey bread in the oven. (Except I used bulgar and molasses.) 


Here they are rising in the pan. 

We will top it off with an evening snack of homemade snickerdoodles (not from the cookbook) and mango sherbert (from the cookbook.) 

Even though I get frustrated with menu planning, finding new and different things everyone likes, cooking and baking on a tight budget, serving my family in this way brings me great joy. 

What do you do to get out of a cooking rut?

The Scent of Grief


Liquid gold, drinking in the aroma of Gain laundry detergent, regular scent
Inhaling deeply the month of June, sterile hospitals, funeral homes, and her, still covered with the fluid of my womb

Whispers of family and friends on soft summer breezes, gathered fully together for the first time in years, to mourn our lost love
Eyes averted, conversation avoided, but inhabiting one space
Tears and laughter juxtaposed
Could it be? Heart healing in our greatest pain?
Cleansing communication, only love remains
Empty bassinet, unfinished nursery
Tears washing grief from our eyes
Hearts united in the sacred dance of grief and joy
Her scent now faded from her soft white blanket
But not from the laundry that hangs on the line  

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