Friday, May 24, 2013

Rustic Recession Tacos | Post 28

{Rustic Recession Tacos}
Last night we were planning on bbq'ing so hamburger meat had been out thawing all day.  But come afternoon there were one too many bronchitis-cases and the weather was awfully dreary and rainy.  Nothing about it screamed "let's go outside and cooook!"  
Other than some buns and potatoes for a salad, we didn't have much else around.  I opened the fridge and their was english muffins, corn tortillas, four open jellies, and lots of tupperware with leftovers, about 12 salad dressings and chicken broth.  I opened the freezer and there was turkey sausage, frozen strawberries, pie crust, and two bags of peas.
Dad suggested making a meatloaf.  But for some reason I wasn't "in the mood."  After a quick google search I came across this recipe for what to do with hamburger meat and peas.  I modified it a bit, added a taco shell and wa-la!  Dad and all the adult and teenage boys who were over loved it.  Caleb, my meat-and-potatoes trash compactor had nine "tacos."
Everyone was trying to figure out what it was.  "It's like light Shepherds Pie?" "Or, like, British Tacos?" "It's a kind of 1930's 'depression dish.'  At least that's what it said online."  Whatever it was, everyone was a big fan and it took a total of 20 minutes to whip together.  We'll absolutely be making it again.
It's probably very customizable, but I have to admit that the simple, basic ingredients and no-fuss seasoning somehow worked really well together.  I wouldn't do too much to change it! 
pc: spinach tiger
  • One large white onion diced
  • Two large potatoes, boiled and chopped
  • One pound ground beef (seasoned with salt + pepper)
  • 1  bag of frozen peas
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • red chile flakes
  • freshly grated parmesan (optional - and I used Fontina because we didn't have fresh parm)
  • fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme…they all work! and I didn't use any because we don't have any, but I bet it'd be great.)
  • Corn tortillas
  1. Heat olive oil and butter in dutch oven or deep frying pan (perfect use for my trusty red Lodge). Add onions, saute until soft.
  2. Add ground beef that has already been flavored with salt and pepper. Cook until medium rare.
  3. In separate pan (we use an electric griddle) heat vegetable oil and fry corn tortillas.
  4. Add in frozen peas, right at end and allow them to defrost and heat up, while the meat is on its way to medium-well done. Add potatoes. Toss in fresh herbs and red chile flakes. Season with salt + pepper to taste.  
  5. Serve meat mix in tortilla shells and top with cheese.
(This is an EASY recipe. You may be tempted to keep adding other ingredients, but the simplicity is what gives this dish it’s proper structure and flavor.  More is not always more

You could also easily skip the tortillas and put the meat in a bowl and serve with crusty bread.  My fam was all about the taco-not-taco thing, but it'd be great on it's own!)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dear Laundry Basket | Post 27

Dear Laundry Basket,

A year or two ago I saw a blog post a mama wrote to her son's blankie.  He had basically just, out of the blue, stopped "using" it.  She'd even try to sneak it back into his bed, but he didn't care about it.  It was no longer a signal of his trail, and where he was venturing off to... it was a signal of him leaving something behind, moving on and growing up.  I thought it was very sweet and honest, but that was about it.   My mama-friend who showed it to me, on the other hand, was a little misty and emotional while she read.

Another mama-friend wrote a short "Dear Breast Pump" letter with accompanying picture of the black machine when her babe stopped nursing.  The knee-jerk reaction I had (and apparently some other people who commented were like me) was to scrunch my face and think "...ew.  Breast pump notes?  On Instagram? Ohkay, moms."

You swear "I'll never let all I talk about be my pregnancy and my baby!"  "When I'm a mom, someone stop me if I'm posting weekly belly pictures or photo after photo of my kid during late nights... who cares?!"  But you make those promises before you've experienced it yourself, and before you get it.  Before you know how front-and-center every single part of this person's life is in your daily thoughts, your soul-searching thoughts and your conversation thoughts.  Before you know how your heart will embrace this person, much like your body does - stretched tight, filled full, naturally and without trying.  Once you're pregnant you watch your Human Making Factory do it's thing and somehow it just... happens!

And it never really leaves your mind.  What you believe and say and write about has more weight to it - "Would I teach that to my kid?  Do I really mean that?  Is that what I'd want him to hear me say?"  What you eat matters, and how you talk about your body getting all slashed and soft and uncomfortable matters, gaining weight matters - "Do I want him to believe that I was better 'back when'... before he came into my life?  When I didn't have the scars that prove he was in me?  Do I want him to hear a complaining woman, who is frustrated by... what he did to me?  Do I make food and eating so rigid and strict that it's not enjoyable anymore?  Do I make food and eating so lacking in self-control and health that it's not enjoyable anymore?  Do I talk about weight and size like I'm choosing cattle?  I don't want him to think 'Mom was beautiful because she was thin' - I want him to think 'Mom was beautiful because she was beautiful.'"  The topics are endless.  Money.  Church.  Treatment of friends and strangers.  Planning.  Education.  Personality.

But you don't realize, until you're pregnant, that getting cheese and sour cream and a side of chips at Chipotle can spark such swirling questions.  Before it was like "Eh, I should watch my calories."  Now it's like "But WHAT *IS* THE MEANING OF LIFE?!"

You make those promises before you know how many statuses and tweets and 'grams and pictures and texts and words you think of writing or speaking or posting, but you say "No, that's probably not necessary."  You make those promises before you know that you only share a sliver - maybe decimal point small - of what is in your head.  You catch yourself holding back all day long.  I appreciate my husband more than ever, and one reason certainly is that he never gets tired of talking about Baby Child either.  He happily spends a full hour discussing something like the position of our kid's spine or how excited we are to go on a family vacation with our own baby this summer.  No one else really wants to talk about that.  And it's okay.  I didn't either.

I wasn't moved to tears about blankies being forsook or breast-pumps being put away.  But now, Blue Laundry Basket, I'm experiencing the entry feelings of motherhood.  And I look at you, filled with clothes that my baby hasn't worn - most that were given to you, and I see their faces when I see that onesie or this footie-pajama or that jacket, and strawberry-sized socks for pink rice-paper feet, and blankets - so many blankets - and I get a little misty, too.   It feels funny to take perfectly clean clothes into the laundry room and wash them.  But the germs! So, I wash them.  Store germs and other people germs and hanger germs and gift box germs!  We must clean these germs.  But not with Tide.  Instead with dye-free, fragrance-free, toxin-free, baby detergent.  It takes a long time to fold an entire Blue Laundry Basket (let alone three) of baby clothes.  Because the clothes are very, very small and it takes a lot of very, very small clothes to fill a big basket, like yourself.  Small clothes like to pop back open after you fold them, too, so you have to figure out your system.  And small clothes are nearly impossible to not hold up and daydream about while you fold.

To be honest, if one of the clean blankets folded in you becomes "his favorite" and then one day, it's not anymore?  My heart will skip a sad little beat.  I know it.  He'll wear those clothes and most of the days will blur together.  But someday, in one of those outfits, something will happen, and I'll never forget it for the rest of my life.  A first smile or a roll-over or just checking him because he is still asleep...! Yes! or something.  Some of those clothes will get thrown away - stained eternally by his biggest blow-out yet.  I don't know.  I'm sure it will catch me off-guard.  In the same way I was caught off-guard with how long I sat there, staring at Blue Laundry Basket, like you were The Hope Diamond or an original Monet that had just been given to me.  The costumes for the set are in place!  We're just waiting for the actor to arrive and for the Director to say "action!" Someday those cotton cloths won't be ghost-apparel... they will warm and protect and decorate my child's body.  And, well, I guess I just had one of those moments.

I guess I underestimated what would cue my emotions and body to react so strongly.  When you dream about having a baby you don't dream about "the day he stops using his blankie!" or "the day the breast-pump is turned off for good!" or "the day you do their first load of laundry!" but when those days come they make the major-milestone list.

Thank you for being a part of the anticipation and memory of awaiting Ol' Boris Morris.  You're a good  Laundry Basket.  And I bet someday you'll be a boat or a fort or a crib or an airplane or a stage.  The best is yet to come.

With odd affection,
Mama Morris

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Grace-Based Parenting | Post 26

"...learning to see our children through God's limitless tenderness,
 to raise our kids the way God raises us..."
I love reading about pregnancy, and talking with women who have been and are pregnant, and learning things on my own.  I love reading about labor, and how a mama's body and a baby's body work together to meet face to face. I love learning about what all 'the big words' mean, and what principals are important, and what questions are good ones to ask.  I love hearing birth stories and watching birth-movies.  I love reading up on newborn "advice."  Feeding and sleeping and swaddling and enjoying.  I love researching strollers and preparing a little room for a little boy and washing clothes in "safe" detergent and just getting to do any-and-all mom things I can.  I love learning about this new part of my life.  I love anticipating and voicing fears and wondering and feeling and preparing and getting excited about it all.

I love to talk with my husband about our parents, and I love to talk with our parents about raising me and my husband and their other 18 children.  I love taking time to elaborate on the things we most love and remember and care about our childhoods.  I love all four of our parents' honesty in saying "We had such good-intentions, and we loved you guys so much, and so badly wanted to raise you right, in a God-honoring way... but wow.  Would/do we do things differently now.  We learned so much."

One of my favorite parts of how my parents raised me is their very personal relationships with and understanding of us children individually.  Both of my parents "get" us.  They know us as "we are."  I've always felt like they loved me and liked me.  They engaged me in conversation about hard things and didn't keep me away from scary or painful things.  They loved letting me spread my soggy little wings and they prepared me well to be able to enter "real life" socially, spiritually, mentally and educationally.  They were just real - for better or for worse.  And they didn't fake for me or for others.   And honestly, they were just really fun.  I felt like they liked having me around and doing things with me.

So going into being a mama, I think about all these things.  I want to copycat my parents.  And I want to learn from them, too.  Mom bought me a book called "Grace-Base Parenting" by Tim Kimmel and said "I looked through this and wish I had read it when I was just starting out."

It's been fantastic.  It makes me delighted to parent, and not afraid of it.   It makes me think of memory after memory in my own childhood, and love my parents even more.  It makes me, most of all, feel a swell in my heart as I know the grace and love I'm reading about is something that's real in my life because my Father gives it to me.  It makes me love learning about Him more.  So, I'm sharing a few of my favorite quotes so far... I'm reading slowly so I soak up as much juicy-flavor as possible.

"The real test of a 'parenting model' is how well-equipped the children are to move into adulthood as vital, engaged members of the human race.
Notice that I didn't say 'as vital members of the Christian community.'"

Fear-Based Parenting

--- "[In the past] parents were armed with little more than a vibrant relationship with God that consistently served as the ideal springboard for great people.  So something changed.  We got scared.  And I think that fear is what motivates so much of Christian parenting advice..."

--- "We're scared of Hollywood, the internet, the public school system, Halloween, the gay community, drugs, alcohol, rock'n'roll and rap, partying neighbors, unbelieving sports teams, liberals and Santa Claus.  These fears seem to determine our strategy for parenting... Jesus says 'Dont' be afraid.'  We should be the last people afraid of just about anything!  Fear-based parenting is the surest way to create intimidated kids."

Evangelical Behavior-Modification Parenting

--- "... assumes that the proper environment, the proper information, the proper education, and the absence of improper or negative influences will increase the chances of a child turning out well.  This parenting plan works from two flawed assumptions: that the battle is primarily outside the child (it's not) and that spiritual life can be transferred onto a child's heart much like information placed on a computer hard drive (it can't)."

--- "Children brought up in homes where they are free to be different, vulnerable, candid and to make mistakes learn firsthand what the genuine love of God looks like." 


--- "Grace does not exclude obedience, respect, boundaries, or discipline, but it does determine the climate in which these important parts of parenting are carried out.  You may be weird and quirky, but God, with grace, loves you with all of your weirdness and quirkiness!  You may feel extremely inadequate and fragile, but God comes alongside you, with grace, and carries you in those very areas of weakness. You may be frustrated, hurt, and even angry with God, but His grace allows you to candidly, confidently and boldly approach His 'throne of grace.'  His grace remains when you make huge mistakes.

This is the kind of grace that makes all the difference in the world when it's coming from God, through you, to your children."

--- "Grace frees you to make big decisions in raising your kids.  One of the characteristics of God's grace is how much latitude He grants within his clear moral boundaries to make choices."

--- "Grace is not so much what we do as parents, but how we do what we do."

--- "Grace allows you to tailor your parenting style... God is a God of variety, and He deals with us accordingly.  Take zebras.  God hasn't painted the same stripes on any of them.  Fingerprints.  Snowflakes.  Sunsets.  None are the same.  He's an original God who wants to have an original relationship with you and your children."

--- "Grace is what attracts us to Him and what confirms His love over and over."

--- "Grace keeps you from clamping down on their spirits when they walk through awkward transitions and places like the valley of the shadow of adolescence."

--- "Grace can help you know what matters and what doesn't.  It helps you give kids freedom to be 'kids' and keeps you from living in a reactive mode as they go through certain stages.

Without grace, you can turn high standards and strong moral convictions into knives that cut deeply into the inner recesses of your children's hearts."

--- "Grace helps you know what to write in pencil - with a good eraser - and what to write in blood."


--- "Christ is filled with grace and truth, not grace or truth, or some grace and some truth.  It wasn't a balancing act.  He is describing two parts that makes up a single whole. Grace and truth.

That reminds me of the time I read about a set of Siamese twins who could not be separated because they shared the same heart and respiratory system.  The way their organs were arranged inside them, doctors didn't even have an option to separate them and allow one to live and the other to die.  For them, to eliminate either was to eliminate both."

--- "God gave us Ephesians 6:1 to help children respond to their parents' leadership and authority.  He didn't mean for parents to use it to pistol-whip their kids.  One of the standard ploys of grace-less Christian parents is to abuse Scripture to get their own way.  I've seen husbands do the same thing with a verse directed to wives... a lot of men use this verse like some kind of ball-peen hammer to metaphorically whack their wives into submission to their selfish agenda.  Ephesians 5:22 is between a wife and God, not a husband and a wife... These verses aren't weapons."

--- "... he wanted to raise 'safe' kids.  My wife and I would rather raise strong kids..."