Meeting Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

Also known as “The Day I Acted Like a Complete Doofis.”
It never would have happened if Aubrey or Christie had been there.  I’m convinced of this.
If Aubrey had bothered to fly in from Minneapolis for the weekend and Christie hadn’t gone and given birth, one of two things would have happened.  1. They would have acted like a star struck idiot with me, and it would have offset my freakishness or 2. They would have kept me cool like a cucumber.  {I don’t really blame you, ladies, this one is all on me}

Instead, this is what went down.

Let me set the stage.
Our tale starts early in the morning with me getting showered and making sure that I use the really good smelling soaps, as if she is going to be sniffing my hair.  I tried on three necklaces, and asked the opinion of my 8 year old daughter if I looked “just right.”  I put on my good underwear, because lets face it, that’s what you do on special days.  Not that I would ever dream of notifying Ree that I’m so excited to meet her that I deemed her worthy enough of my really good drawers.  Because that would be embarrassing, unlike what I had planned to say and do.

I made her a card.  Complete with picture of my kids and husband enjoying one of her recipes.  Of which I was going to so casually hand to her while she signed my book.

My husband, in all of his gloriousness took care of six kids for me while I decided to drive 2 1/2 hours to a Barnes and Noble in Columbus to meet Ree Drummond.  I would have driven 4.  She is coolness.  She is funny.  She is an amazing photographer, writer and cook. Now, if you drive that far somewhere…. it turns out you also have to drive that far back.  But this is not concerning me as I am cruising along through Nowheresville, Ohio…. I kid you not, dancing and singing at the top of my lungs to “Pump a Jam.”

During said journey, I am thinking back to all of the times I have planned what I would say and how I would act if per chance I ran into some kind of celebrity.  I always knew I would play it so cool that the hypothetical celeb would want to instantly befriend such  a cool, aloof, un-crazy person.  I know what I’m going to say, how I’m going to stand and act.  Epitome of calm.

As I stand in line for 4 hours, Barnes and Noble seems to heat up like Hades.  I picked out a really cute sweater and black pants and my cute heels.  And for some inexplicable reason, this sweater that I have worn a hundred times without incident has decided to slough off turquoise fuzz onto my pants as I wait.  It will not wipe off.  This is unfortunate incident number 1.  Number 2-choosing to wear cute heels.  By the end of 4 hours my poor tootsies were killing me, resulting in a very odd walk that I now have to perform…. as I approach The Pioneer Woman.

Ok, so here I am.  Covered in fuzz, weirdly perspiring from my hands.  The hands that are holding the book that only seconds from now I have to hand to Ree, covered in my hand sweat, to sign.  She can’t know that I am sweating buckets from my hands! Now I can obviously not shake her hand in the aloof, cool manner in which I had planned.  Ok, so in my haste to get out the door this morning, I left my camera on the counter.  All I have is my cell phone camera.  As I’m waiting for the last person ahead of me to go, I am also dealing with the fact that my heart is now beating wildly and I think I’m about to have a heart attack.  Calm and Collected Plan?  Out the window.  I hand my phone to the B&N worker, mumble something about pushing the button and in my head here is what is racing in my mind-
“If that girl doesn’t take the picture fast enough my phone is going to go back into phone mode and then I’m going to have to hobble over there in these stupid heels to switch it back and that is going to be ultra embarrassing added to my already sweaty book.”

And since I’m now in a panic about the phone camera, do I bother to politely ask for a picture with her???  No.  I come around behind the table squat down and and smile at the worker, hoping with everything in me that it worked. Luckily it did.

It gets worse.

While this picture craziness is going on, words, many words are rapidly avalanching out of control, out of my mouth. This is me: HimynameisMariandI’mahugefanYouaresofunnyYougoodcookMyfamilylovesyourrecipesImadeyouthiscard
recipesinstead.  This is all spewing out of me in about a nanosecond.  Added to the fact that I’m now having palpitations as she is turning to look at me and can’t get a word in edgewise because I can’t get the words to stop coming out of me to save my life.

As she hands me my book back, I take it and run for the door.  As I depart she says to my back, “Well thanks for waiting so long to see me!”  And what do I, in my brilliance utter???  “You too!”

I “You too-ed” her.  Like she had been waiting hours to see me.  I was a walking disaster.  No, running.  Because what you have to understand about this whole humiliating exchange is, it all happened in a matter of about 3 seconds.  No more.  I ran away.  Out the door.  As she was talking to me.

I was not chill.  I did not say any of the clever anecdotes about reading her blog, or seeing her on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, or cooking her recipes….. nope.  I.Was. A. Doofis.

But I got my book signed by THE Pioneer Woman.  And that is pretty sweet.

I’m going to have to seriously re-think my game plan if I ever do run into George Clooney.



We are hard core into Love…

…..and we celebrate the snot out of it.  Some people don’t get into the big V day.  For some it is all about sticking their fists to commercialism, and for others it is a very lonely time.  Some refuse to take part in a “Hallmark” Holiday.

You know what though?  Every holiday there is, has been commercialized and skewed from what it should be.  Santa, Easter Bunny, Veteran’s Day furniture sales…..

And some make the argument that you should show people you love them every day.  Not just one.  Well that would hold true for every holiday as well.  Be thankful everyday, not just Thanksgiving.  Celebrate Jesus every day, not just Christmas and Easter, etc.
But that’s not the point.  You get out, what you put in.  What’s important are the feelings and emotions behind your motives.

So with that in mind, I take Valentine’s Day, jack it up, put it on a pedestal and ooze my love all over my family from beginning to glorious end. And hopefully, with every breath they take, they know that I love them to the moon and back.

It was Monday. And it was Lovely.

I’m Cooking Pioneer Woman Style

Last Sunday I suggested to Alex that it might be fun to try and cook all Vegan for a week.
More Silence.
“You’re kidding right?”  He says.

“If you even try it, I will stop and get a burger for myself and the kids every night after work.”
I just thought it would be a fun challenge.  My Goodness.  Fun.  For one week only.
So instead I went the other direction entirely and made several Pioneer Woman recipes! 
And this….
Is how Alex felt about the MM Sandwich PW Style…. Its not a  Vegan dish by any means.  And it was “kick you in the crotch, spit on your neck fantastic.” {quote from Friends, and if you haven’t seen it, I’m very sorry for you}
So I get everyone dished up, Alex says he will dish his own, so I go into the dining room and wait for him with the kids.  He sets down his plate and I see he has made two fantastic looking sandwiches.

And then I notice the other side of the plate. 

I think he likes PW week better than Vegan.

Mommy Perfection

Obviously there is no such thing as being perfect.  A perfect person, wife, mother, child, whatever.  But “Mommy Perfection”  is a moment in time when life could not be more splendiferous (for you Fancy Nancy fans out there, she really nails word choice)!

Example 1.  My two year old son now says “Mom. MOm. Moooommm.  MOmmmmmyyy. Mom. Mom. Mom. MOmmmmm.  Wus Up?”  {what’s up?}  And I melt into a million billion pieces.  Because he does it with this little smile on his face that makes me swoon and sort of puckers his lips at the same time.  That is Mommy Perfection.  Or I suppose it would also qualify as Donovan perfection  {yesterday was most certainly NOT  Donovan perfection, I’ve never been more happy for a new day}.

Example 2.  LaylaShayla {that’s not really her name, we’re not cruel} –  Announces to me this morning that she is not going to do one single naughty thing all day and she’s going to help and be sweet.  This is finished off with a big huge hug, and one sideways, meaningful glance at her older sister who has been nothing short of an hormonal-13-year-old-in-an-8-year-old-body.  Fun right?  As she got out of the van this morning at school she tops off all the sweetness with “I can’t wait to get home to cuddle with you!”  And one more pointed look at her grumpy big sister.

Example 3. After I happily dropped off the Tall Grumpster at school to let her teacher enjoy some of it too, I get home and go through her papers from last night and find this beauty.  And now I can’t wait for her to get home and wrap her lanky self into my arms {maybe I will sit on her lap}  and smooch her grumpy little face.

It says- “My favorite meal I ever ate is giant shells, rolls and corn.  My mom found it on the computer from someone else.  One time I had 2 but I wanted more.  That time I ate 4 giant shells that night.  And I drank 2 cups of water and 1 cup of milk.”  (Ironically, this is what I have on the menu for this evening.  If you would like the recipe for Stuffed Shells, check my recipe page Real Recipes for Real Families.)
And I’m off.  To get my tush kicked by my 4 year old at My Little Pony Memory for the second time this week.
Mommy Perfection. 

Remember what Beth Moore Said…

Even when you think you’ve got all your…. ummm (promised Alex I would try not to swear, darn that Alex) stuff together, one can lapse into old patterns pretty easily.

Sometimes I forget that in order to be fully changed for the better, you have to remember the things you learn and continually apply them.  Or they sit idle, and forgotten.  Like an orange in the very bottom of the crisper drawer that has been covered over by plastic sacks of various apples, broccoli, celery, carrots. You get the drift. 

If you forget about your orange there, gradually its gonna go soft.  And turn all sorts of pretty hues except the one beautiful orange color it started out as.  And its going to start to stink.  Something that had such promise and potential is not going to be picked out of the drawer with some BBQ tongs, while holding one’s nose pinched shut, and tossed probably in the outside can.  Not even the kitchen trash.  Its very sad.

When I came home from Beth Moore’s simulcast of “So Long Insecurity” last year I was changed.  I was fresh and excited about my new potential.  But I let some of the lessons get lost in the daily things.  The toilet scrubbings, and un-snarling three daughters’ heads of goldy locks, and changing a little boy’s diapers.  I let my orange rot. 

The same old lies of insecurity have been re-surfacing.  Feelings of unworthiness, being undesireable, going back to those terrible feelings of being the unwanted tagalong. 

So, instead of languishing in self-pity, and seeking out what cannot be attained, I re-read this post.  And gave myself a good swift kick in the pants. 

Thank you once again Beth Moore.  For reminding me that I am fully loved by the Great Artist.

Proverbs 2:10- “For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”


Pure Love Giveaway and Rescue

 There is a miracle going on right now.  Another child, an orphan with Down Syndrome is going to be rescued from a terrible fate in the Ukraine.  Patti from A Perfect Lily began a fundraiser through Reese’s Rainbow to help Peter’s grant fund to get him rescued.  Not only does he have almost all the money needed for a family to take him home, but now he has a home!!!  Two weeks ago, he was considered a lost cause, now he has a chance at a wonderful life.  Please go to Patti’s Pure Love Giveaway, donate just $10.  That’s just 2 cups of coffee at Starbucks.  That is two Subs at Subway.  $10 literally gives life to Peter.  As if saving a life is not enough, but she is also giving away many, many wonderful prizes like an iPad, digital camera, gift cards galore plus more!  Donate and win. Donate and save a life! #picasaSlideshow { width: 90%; height: 200px; margin-bottom: 5px; padding: 5px; } google.load(“feeds”, “1”); function OnLoad() { var feed = “\x3drss\x26kind\x3dphoto\x26hl\x3den_US”; var options = { displayTime:2000, transistionTime:600, numResults : 50, scaleImages:true, fullControlPanel : true }; var ss = new GFslideShow(feed, “picasaSlideshow”, options); } google.setOnLoadCallback(OnLoad);

Angels on their way…

Life Changing Words

Sometimes when you are least expecting them, when your weighted down heart is continually struggling to beat, when your eyes have been burning for a week desperately trying to hold back tears, when you feel like you need two cranes to pull up the corners of your mouth into a smile…. that’s when it happens.

A gift. Yesterday I was given a gift.  If you can’t tell from my last post, last week was something I had to physically force myself through. 
I couldn’t focus on anything except a missing little person between Layla and Addison.  Going to the bank reduced me to a crying heap.  As my children filed out the door that I held for them, I watched as Big Sister led the way.  Then I watched Layla follow who held Addison’s hand, and then as Donovan walked himself out the door.  But for me, another successful trip out, being proud of my kids excellent behaviour, was marred by a missing 5 year old in the lineup.
That sums up my week.  Until yesterday. The fresh start of a new week is also going to mean the fresh start of the rest of my life.  I’m no drama queen, so believe me when I say, I received life changing words yesterday. 
 From my dear pastor, who had no idea at the time what I was going through.  I fully believe the Holy Spirit gave him words directed straight at me. 
He wasn’t even talking about grief.
Or getting over hurts.
Or healing.
He made a sub point.  Not even his main point.  What I heard actually had nothing to do with what everyone else heard.
“How do we trust God, without a single doubt, to raise us from the dead, but we don’t trust him with our money?”
I’m guessing you are now asking yourselves, what in tarnation does that statement have to do with the death of your baby?  Let me clear it up.  This is what I heard-
“How do you trust God, without a single doubt, to raise you from the dead, but you don’t trust him to raise your baby better than he can?  To love your baby more than you can.  Why do you think that this broken Earth full of danger, sin, evil and sickness, could possibly be better than a life in Heaven?”
I would never sacrifice one of my children for anyone.  Not one. I am fixated on keeping them safe from, well, everything.  And yet, God did exactly that.  He watched his baby die.  He created Heaven.  Made a way for me to get there.  Greeted my baby into His arms when Alexander’s little heart failed him. 
He did all that.  And I still get angry and cry out that my baby belongs in my arms! 
I desperately love my children.  I pour every ounce of ooey, gooey, mushy, happy, love into them daily, that I possibly can.  I never want to be away from them.  I would still love to be able to watch my baby grow and be by his side.  But if I can trust.  With my entire being.  With no doubts. Trust that there is a God in Heaven, trust him to raise me from the dead. Trust in my eternity. 
Then how do I possibly not trust him to be a better parent that I can be to my son?
Life. Changing.
Will I still get sad? Sure.  Will I still dish up 7 plates every once in a while by accident and look for 5 children instead of 4?  Probably.  But it is not going to hold me captive any longer. I can rejoice and long for the day when I will have all of my children surrounding me.  If God can raise those who desire Him from the dead, he can certainly be trusted to make sure my child brushes his teeth every night.


Italian-esque Wedding Soup

 Here’s the deal.  I don’t know how to add a page to this blog.  So long ago, I started a recipe blog, Real Recipes for Real Families.  It helps me remember what dinners I make, like and want to repeat.  Some of the recipes are mine and some are what I find on other sites and give a Mari twist to.  It has been neglected for quite a while, but I just updated it with my family’s favorite soup.  Check it out.  Join.  Leave me feedback if you try a recipe and like it!