Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Daybook. . .

Most of our family (and Monty's) met to celebrate
Roman's upcoming 6th birthday (more photos below).

Early This Morning. . .

The sun pops above the horizon later and later each day. This morning it was right around 7:00 when the sky lit up all yellow in the east. I opened all blinds and windows and stepped outside to feel the air. It was not as cool this morning as it has been recently, but there was still that coming-autumn crispness. Birds sang in the light breeze, and I could tell it was going to be a warm and pretty day. I started the sprinkler running on the front grass and came back inside to make coffee and read my Bible.

I am Wearing. . .

Bare feet. Reading glasses. Messy, shorter hair after an overzealous stylist cut it last week (but it’s a good cut, and it will grow). Cropped khaki hiking pants. Blue polar fleece jacket (that is just about too warm to wear as the morning heats up).

In My Kitchen. . .

I’m enjoying as much summer fruit as I can before it all goes away. In my kitchen right now are blueberries, strawberries, nectarines, and a watermelon. A whole watermelon. And I’ll eat the entire thing all by myself (because I’m the only one here, and because I love good watermelon). I’ll be making my favorite summer-time watermelon gazpacho recipe, along with my absolutely favorite tomato gazpacho.

I’ve also been mixing a nutritious spread that I like. It’s a blend of sweet miso, raw almond butter, and a bit of raw honey. I scrape it across Akmak crackers or on sprouted grain toast, and I love this stuff! But you have to remember that I love eating healthy, so foods that have begun to taste mighty fine to me might make others pinch their nose and turn their head. It’s sort of like that British spread, Marmite, but I like my spread much better. The British eat Marmite, and it’s quite nutritious, but it’s sort of a love-hate thing. In fact, the Marmite ad campaign actually says, “Love it or Hate it”. Interesting, too, that the Danes have outlawed its sale in their country because they do not allow sale of any food items that are fortified with vitamins—not a bad idea, really! Real food = real nutrients.

I made eggplant masala for dinner last night, using a recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s book. It’s tasty but not close to authentic or over-the-top delicious. I’m accustomed to eating the Bangladeshi curries of my son-in-law’s mother, who is a wonderful cook. Her food is amazing.

I’ve had French toast with raspberry spread for the past two mornings, but since more wheat, flour, and grain is starting to creep into my diet, and since I thrive better when I keep them to a minimum, I’m now making a point to back off.

I’m thinking ahead to when school starts at the end of the month and getting my kitchen/freezer/fridge plan set up for eating simply, frugally, and well. It’s a discipline during school days to make a point of creating good meals for myself. I think it’s important to make an effort to prepare healthy, delicious—even attractive—meals and to sit down, eat them slowly, and enjoy the blessing of food with thanksgiving, whether we live alone or are busy with our growing families. 

Reading, Listening, Watching. . .

I’ve been watching Daegu! The world track and field championships. And for University of Oregon track fans, two things stand out. Our young freshman 400 meter runner ran the fastest split at the entire world championships (by any runner from any team in the world) on his semi-final leg of the 4x400 meter relay (43.8—unbelievable!). He didn’t run in the final race, but he won a gold medal for his role in getting the relay team into that final. And our young 1500 meter runner won a bronze medal (third place) when no one thought he would get out of round 1, let alone get out of round 2. And then to place, not just well, but third—the bronze medal!—in the final, was amazing.

Okay. That was fun to watch, and now I have my track fix for the year. . . but cross country is starting soon, and then indoor track, and then spring collegiate track, and then the Olympic trials will be held here in our town, and then there will be the Olympics to watch, so, really, I guess it never ends.

Funny thing, and I think I’ve alluded to this before, but while I really enjoy following these races and the whole track and field scene (I read a few athlete’s blogs), I’m always struck at the same time that this is really just a bunch of highly trained adults chasing each other round and round a circle, fighting for all they’re worth—to the point of pain and utter physical depletion—to be the first one to cross the finish line.

And while I’ll admit that this does sometimes strike me as silly, I am still greatly challenged and inspired by the incredible level of commitment that must be given to do well in this sport. It rightly confronts my own sometimes too-lackadaisical approach to my days and my pursuits. Each day is a gift. It’s wrong not to be fully invested in them, fully alert to the daily leading of God, and determinedly disciplined to throw off hindrances and entanglements so that we can keep our eyes fixed on achieving our daily goals as well as the ultimate goal (Hebrews 12:1-3).

As a lifelong athlete and sports fan, I will in no way oppose James V. Schall, who argues in his book Another Way of Learning that sport is valid and that it, in fact, leads us to the higher things. Sports do not necessarily build character or achieve positive ends in our lives (either as a spectator or as a competitor), but they can. Just as with anything else, it’s how we, personally, approach them, and what we are willing to give and to learn. And, if competition and victory is our ultimate end aim, sports fall short of the Highest Thing. The Highest Thing is to love God and glorify Him forever. Like when Eric Liddell ran and felt God’s pleasure—all the way to an Olympic gold medal. But the medal is beside the point.

I've been listening to Tim Keller. I’ve listened to an old sermon of his on pride about five times since Saturday night. On my first listen to the sermon, a particular section of it smacked me between the eyes literally just an hour or two after I had begun to realize this exact thing was an area of pride in my life. Not coincidentally timely.

And I'm reading “in the beginning.” That’s where I am in my Bible—back in Genesis for another round of reading through the Old Testament. In the New Testament, I’m all over the place so much that I can’t remember where I am in my reading cycle. So, I might start again in Matthew. Or maybe in Acts because I know I’ve read all four gospels this time through.

Vincent's on the left. Mine on the right.
Great minds think alike.
(Just kidding, you know!)

Around the house. . .

With just a little switch of flowers in the vase on the mantle, colors conjuring up the tropics (last week's look) gave way to something that looks like an audition for a Van Gogh painting.

Feeling thankful that I’ve got a great little house for as long as the Lord sees fit to provide the way for me to remain here. It’s cheerful. It’s clean. It’s got wood floors. It’s got lots of windows. It’s in a great part of town. It’s quiet. And I’m blessed.

Pondering. . .

My apathetic view toward going back to school. It struck me this morning that if I believe that this is the path God has me on right now (and He has provided the way via scholarships, etc.), then it is wrong to be apathetic. I need to embrace this to the point that I am enthused and willing to invest myself fully in it. To apply great discipline and effort. Because a Christian is to do all things with all his might to the glory of God.

Blogging, for me, has been a summertime discipline. My posts haven’t ended up being what I thought I’d be posting about, and I haven’t always felt like writing something, but I’ve tried to do it consistently. And while I’ve really enjoyed keeping this blog (it certainly hasn’t been done out of mere duty!), it would have been surprisingly easy to fade away, but I determined when I started that doing this was going to be something of a commitment in a summer when I had few real commitments. I've really enjoyed a sort of reconnection with some of you who used to read my old blog, and it's been fun to become more acquainted with others of you through your comments.

School starts the last week of September. I will keep the blog going until then, and I will try to write several more posts about high school—providing some of the details of how we did it and why—mixed with everyday posts. I’m considering a few possibilities for light blogging during the school year, but I don’t know. . .

Plans for the week. . .

As I mentioned, school resumes soon, so it’s time to start preparing myself for that. I still need to do some paperwork and finalize some things regarding registration. I need to get my city bus pass sticker (free on my student ID card). I need to start looking for work. I need to get organized enough that I won’t feel overwhelmed during the school year by what should have been done during the summer.

At the end of the week is my mother’s 75th birthday bash. A crowd of us will be staying at a lodge on the coast near my mother’s home for two days of celebrating. Family, food, festivities, fun!

Family Fun. . .

 Roman and his other grandma.
Click away on photos if you want a better view.

On Friday, Aaron, Nicky, Zane, and I drove up the highway to a park in a town north of here where about 20 family members gathered to celebrate Roman’s upcoming 6th birthday. It was a perfectly gorgeous afternoon and evening in a beautiful place, and we had so much fun that it was hard to leave.

When we arrived, and I climbed out of my car, Jayden excitedly sprinted all the way over to me and gave me a great big, long, squeezing hug. It melted my heart. And Monty’s beautiful mother came to hug me, too. I love her and miss her, so it was wonderful to visit and catch up on her life.

I smiled at something Jayden told me. He and I read Blueberries for Sal every single time we get together. It’s our special book. And whenever it comes to the place in the text where the berries are dropped into the pail, I let Jayden make the sounds: “Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk.” So, when Jayden was strapped into his seat in the car and ready to leave at the end of the birthday party, he said, “Hey, Gramma Susy, you know what? We went blueberry picking, only it wasn’t blueberries. . . it was blackberries. . . and you know what?! They said, “Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!” J Later, Michelle told me that when her family first started picking that day (each with their own pail), she called to Jayden, “Hey, listen!” And as she dropped three berries into her pail, she said, “Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!” Jayden loved it! (So do I.)

Roman protecting his candles from the wind.
It took a long time to get these lit because they kept getting blown out!

 "Do I have chocolate on my face?"

 Eating her cupcake.

 Always bubbly Michelle.

 My oldest with her oldest (and only, so far).
Sweet momma, sweet baby.

 Sleepy girl. Another sweet momma.

 I swear she stirred for over an hour!
The girl loves to cook and takes her work seriously.

This last is really not a good photo, but I thought Liya was pretty funny in it, so I added it. I took a lot of pictures, and most of them didn't turn out for one reason or another (hence my kids are not equally represented here!), so I just chose some of them that worked adequately.


  1. Susan, I think all the pictures are beautiful! I'm glad that you had a great time celebrating together. Lisa

  2. Thanks for committing to posting this summer Susan. Reading your blog has been one of my real pleasures this summer. Your thoughts and reflections on life encourage me to think about my life and ways to live more mindfully. I hope you will be able to squeeze a little bit of blogging into your life when you return to school as I will miss you! Hope all goes smoothly. Blessings Penny Lxx

  3. I hope you continue to check in every once in awhile. I enjoy your summertime blog. Thanks for the recommended bookstore!

  4. Well, thank you, Lisa! And we did have such a nice time together! :-)

    Penelope, I truly appreciate your very kind comment. Thank you for your good wishes, too. And blessings back to you! :-)

    mominapocket, thank you so much! And, by the way, that bookstore is a few levels high and covers an entire city block. It's huge and fun! :-)

  5. I too want to thank you for posting through the summer. Your positive attitude is teaching me a lot, not just about myself, but about changing my perception as to how I look at things. I have a long ways to go, but with the examples you've allowed us to see, I look forward to each opportunity.

    Susan, I am thrilled to hear you are back in school. Partly selfishly, I just started back to college last week. I am the oldest in all my classes, even though I was assured I would not be (I can be their mom!) It's comforting to hear another woman is going back too. And trying to balance peacefulness with professor's who like to assign lots of reading. Did you know your brain can only take in so much!!! I am trying to re-learn how to learn. Yet, I'm loving it!

    God has blessed me with the opportunity to go back to school. Both my girls are grown and gone (1st grandchild is on the way :-) and my husband is busy with his things. So, I'm taking a few classes to chip away at a long time goal. Sometimes I get so excited that I get to take classes that I can't sleep at night or I wake up early. My first action is a grin and praising God for His graciousness and Love.

    While I will miss your posts through the year, after the past week here...I completely understand. I do hope you pop in for a bit of, coffee and a chat now and then. Until then you will be in my prayers.

    Hugs and peace to you,

  6. Just want to tell you how much I love your photos: the tomatoes, your lovely family's happy celebration, and oh my! the Van Gogh sunflowers on your mantel is so beautiful. I really delight in all the flowers you keep all around your home. I want to thank you for sticking to your blogging all summer. It has been a summertime delight. I understand why it's too much to do during your school year though. Will all of your blogs remain open, or will they require the private password to access them again? (I really don't know how these things work. I just know that my heart always sinks when I go to a favorite blog, even to reread something from the past, and discover that it's closed! And then I heartily wish I had that password!!! ;) ) Anyway, I'm still looking forward to what the rest of this month brings. Thank you, dear Susan.