Tuesday, April 27, 2010


A Tale of Things That Happen When Living on a Farm
These are Annike's favorite pair of shoes. She refuses to wear anything else.

It's no wonder that she likes them because everywhere she goes someone comments. Plus, they are so soft and fuzzy inside. You would like them too, if you were one and a half.

Last week we drove to Salinas to do some shopping and drop in on my mom at the school where she teaches. Of course Annike wanted to wear her boots, so I put them on her in the morning before we left. At the end of a long day, I set Annike in her car seat for the drive home and decided those boots must be awfully hot. Removing them, I noticed a black smear on her left foot.

Strange, I thought. We didn't play in the mud. We were in stores all day long. Pause. There must be something inside of her boot.

In telling this story to others, I have heard numerous conclusions about what was inside of the boot - everything from a spider, to rat feces, to Annike's feces. The answer is far far worse.

As if in slow motion, I looked inside of her boot, and resisted the urge to scream. I saw a flattened lump of fur with a tail, and some entrails. An adult mouse was squished dead on the inside of Annike's left shoe.

How did this happen? I have no idea. The facts I do know are these:
1) The boots were left inside overnight.
2) She had worn them the day before, and there had clearly been no mouse inside either shoe.
3) By the end of the day I periodically noticed a foul odor coming from what I thought was Annike's diaper. Because it was empty, I attributed the smell to bad gas.

I assume the mouse was in the shoe when I put it on her that morning. The only logical conclusion is that Annike killed it when I put her foot into the shoe. Christian thinks the mouse was already dead, but how does a dead mouse get into a shoe?

Either way, Annike walked around for an entire day with a dead, flattened mouse in her boot. She may have killed a live mouse with her bare foot, or squished a mouse that had crawled into her shoe and died because it was sick. Neither option makes me feel good.

I came close to throwing the boots away, but because of Annike's great love for them, I threw them in the washing machine instead. Mouse actually washes out pretty well.

The boots are so soft and fuzzy inside. You would like them too, if you were one and a half, or a mouse looking for a cozy place to die.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

how not to bake a strawberry pie

1. Use a frozen crust. Leave it in the microwave for too long until it becomes a mushy mess.

2. Press the crust into the pie pan, but don't worry if the crust does not reach to the top edge of the pan. Go ahead and under cook that crust, too.

3. Consult 3 different strawberry pie recipes. Mix and match instructions according to which ingredients you happen to have in your cupboard.

4. Pay no attention to the portion of the recipe that says to boil the strawberries while "stirring constantly". It is okay to walk away and do something else, like entertain your child, feed her, and step outside for a few moments to look for your husband so that he can watch her because, by now, it is probably time to get back to stirring.

5. Overfill your pie crust so the strawberry filling runs between the crust and the pie pan. Of course, this won't happen if your crust is above the edge of the pie pan (see step 2).

6. Ignore the instructions to let the pie set in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Leave the pie unattended on the counter top where your husband can discover it and sneak a piece before it has cooled.

Wa La! You have a freshly baked strawberry mess!

Note from the Cook:
While you might have followed these instructions flawlessly, I would like to recommend that you not give this pie away to the friends you planned to take dinner to tomorrow (sorry, Staci!) It might be better to keep it at home and eat it yourselves.

When baking a pie like this, I try to remember that God has given me many passions and talents. Cooking is not one of them. I thank Him for the other things in my life that I am good at.

Monday, April 12, 2010

let it rain on my parade

Seven years ago today, I married the wonderful man I call my husband.

It is raining outside right now, and it reminds me of the storm that rolled in the morning of our wedding. It reminds me of the rain water pelting down on the glass ceiling of the Coconut Grove Sunroom during the reception. And it reminds me of running through the pouring rain in my wedding dress after the night was over. We made a surprise getaway as the last song, "Time To Say Goodbye", played and Christian swept me into his arms, and carried me out the door where the cats and dogs were falling. It was good weather for "sleeping" (wink wink).

We had another storm like this one on our first date when we were caught off guard walking the boardwalk in Asilomar without a raincoat. Christian thought it was cute that he could see through my khakis, and he asked me on a second date.

I remember someone telling me, not knowing my husband is half Norwegian, that it is good luck in Norway when it rains on your wedding day. I know it is not because of luck that we are still together (in fact, I think it has been lot of hard work along the way). But I do believe the rain was a special blessing, just for us. A shower that washed the earth clean, and brought new life. Water that causes things to grow.

Rain represents new beginnings. What would be a more appropriate blessing for a marriage, a new beginning, a new life together?

I love him dearly. Thank you, Lord, for this special gift of rain on our anniversary.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

eggs and bunnies

The challenge as a mother is to make our holiday traditions meaningful to little children. I find that much easier at Christmas then at Easter. At least Santa was originally a saint who gave unselfishly of himself to others. What did the Easter bunny ever do for humanity, aside from gorging them with chocolate? Where do eggs fit into the Resurrection story?

It is well-known that bunnies and eggs are a result of the merge of our Christian holiday and the pagan celebration of spring and fertility. All new life was believed to come from the egg. And rabbits, apparently, were prolific egg-layers.

I was skeptical that any legitimate link could be made between eggs and Christ. Upon researching this, however, it seems that the church made a valient attempt at making the connection:
- The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed Tomb of Christ.
- Cracking the eggs symbolizes Christ breaking open the Tomb, being resurrected from the dead.
- The hard-boiled egg inside of the shell is perfect, just like Christ was perfect when He exited the Tomb. (He did have scars from His piercings, so I think we can forgive ourselves if we knick the egg while trying to crack it open.)
- The egg, as mentioned above, represents new life. This life is truly found in Christ.
- The egg was a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in celebrations of spring. In the Biblical world, this translates easily as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus.
- Traditionally, Easter eggs were dyed red to represent the blood of Christ.
I have to say that I was surprised to realize all of the connections, because I have never been able to come up with any on my own. I find nothing wrong with the historical church attempting to be culturally relevant by using familiar symbols to teach people about what Jesus Christ did for us on the first Easter so long ago.

My one-and-a-half year old won't understand any of this yet, so we made the connection between eggs and Jesus a different way:

Our eggs were decorated with secret messages (in white crayon) about God's love for us... things like: Jesus loves you! He rose again! & God loves Annike!

We even got a cracked egg to say "the curtain of the temple tore in two."

Ultimately, I have decided that traditions are what we make of them. As for bunnies, I think they just come with the territory, kind of like Santa's reindeer.