Friday, June 7, 2013

Gluten Free Friday ~ Avocado, Arugula, & White Bean "Pita" With A Side Of Baseball And Flying South

 It was a really disappointing semi-final baseball game last night for Kory and the Amherst High School team.  They lost by one point.  The last at bat, we all really thought they would tie it up or pull ahead, but it was three pretty quick strike-outs, and the game was over, meaning no more baseball for Kory.  Though they had a really good season, there was still a pretty discouraged 17 year old at my house last night.  I was pretty sad that they lost, too, but I am glad that I won't have to do any re-arranging of our scheduled trip to Texas next week.  The loss means that we can leave as planned on Monday morning, I can get to my Classical Conversations training in Austin, Kory can attend the orientation he registered for, and we can spend some time with family in the area.  Whew!  We had to get this in before 17th when my friend Karla comes for a visit, and the 21st when Kory leaves for Haiti.  So glad it seems to be working out so far.

Speaking of schedules, would you believe our summer schedule is almost planned and scheduled down to the day?  Yikes.  There's this trip to Texas, the visit from Karla, Kory's trip to Haiti, his graduation/birthday party, a trip back to Texas for Kory in July for a freshman camp, youth camp the week after he gets back, a couple of weeks at home, a week long vacation to Maine at the beginning of August, a week back at home, and then another trip to Texas to take Kory to college and get him settled for his freshman year. Crazy times. And did I mention that my 25 year high school reunion is in San Antonio in October? Really hoping I can make it to that also.

And now I should get to the recipe for the week...

I've been eating this for lunch about twice a week for the last month. It's delicious and healthy.  I think I combined two different recipes I've come across in recent months to create this, and I really love the blend of flavors.  Instead of real pita bread, I substitute a brown rice wrap, toasting it a bit to make it sturdy and crunchy.  You could definitely just wrap up the ingredients in one of these, but they tend to be pretty frustrating to roll, always seeming to break and tear, so we've about given up on the traditional "wrap" around here, and go with more toasted pizza-like uses when eating these.

Avocado, Arugula, & White Bean "Pita"

1/2 ripe avocado
1/3 cup canned white beans {great northern or cannelini}
juice from 1/2 a lemon or lime
salt and pepper to taste
GF brown rice wrap
baby arugula
tomato slices

Place avocado and beans in a bowl and mash together with a fork.  Add lemon/lime juice and salt and pepper and mash more to combine.  Toast your pita.  Put a handful of arugula on the pita and spread the bean and avocado mixture on top. {You can put the arugula on top of the spread, too, of course, but I prefer this order of layers for some reason?!}  Top with tomato slices and more salt and pepper if you like.

Enjoy for a light, but filling lunch ~ or yummy summer picnic dinner.

Have a good weekend!

Three more days till I land in the land of 50 cent avocados. Did you know that they freeze well?

H.E.B ~ here I come.

My suitcase will probably be a lot heavier when I return to the land of $2 avocados!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"It Ain't Over Till It's Over"

 I just Googled "baseball phrases."  Wow. There are multitudes of baseball related phrases and cliches we Americans use!  I guess it truly is, or at least was, America's pastime.  I know it's partly how my friends and I passed the time when we were young kids, and we had all kinds of alternative rules for our games due to being in someone's backyard and near house windows. An assortment of bases, too, of course ~ mainly tossed shoes and frisbees, I think.

Seems like there's no time TO pass these days, though. It's all hurry and scurry and deadline and multi-tasking.  No seventh inning stretch in today's fast-paced culture. Maybe that's why I enjoy baseball so much?  It's an excuse to sit and enjoy the springtime surroundings, observe people in the stands, chat with friends, and watch the mental strength, amazing reflexes, and physical abilities of the players.  You have to be smart and strong to play baseball.  The rules are intricate, and so is the strategy. I'm still learning the ins and outs of the game.  Why did the catcher tag the batter?  Why did that guy get to take an extra base? What in the world is a balk?  How come the runner ran back to base before running home?  Why didn't that run count? He's required to slide?  Why?

Kory's team plays in the Western Massachusetts Semi-Finals tonight, which is SO exciting. It also presents a bit of a dilemma, though.  The dilemma is that Kory and I have plane reservations to fly to Texas on Monday. I was gambling on them being all done with the season AND the playoffs by this weekend.  I even searched the date of last year's state championship finals and they were on June 10, 2012.  This year's June 10 is on Monday, and it is the latest day we can fly out to meet all of the obligations we're hoping to.
Kory's orientation at Baylor is on the 13th and 14th next week, and I have a training for Classical Conversations in Austin on the 11th, 12th, and 13th.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to go to Texas together.  I could check in on my dad, see my sisters, get in my required training hours AND drive Kory to his orientation and participate in a couple of parent meetings, etc.

I thought I had all the bases covered.

I even touched base with a friend of mine in Waco, who we plan to stay with on Thursday night.

If Kory's team wins tonight, then the next game will probably be this weekend or early next week, and my baseball-loving-varsity-playing senior son has informed me with great clarity that he will NOT be missing any games.  Not that I would want him to, but it does make my plans for next week still sort of hit or miss right now.

When he played tee-ball, I couldn't have cared less if they made the playoffs or not, but high school is a whole different ball game. They have been up against the team they play tonight two other times and lost both times, AND they will have to use pitcher #2 tonight, as the #1 pitcher is resting up after Monday night's win.

Definitely down to the last out tonight, and I honestly do want them to win, even if it fouls up my plans for next week a bit.  I certainly don't want Kory to miss a playoff game and he won't, but he'll strike out on next week's orientation and hopefully be up to bat at orientation the following week, but I, myself, don't really want to miss any future playoff games either, and I HAVE to be in Austin next week.

Doesn't Baylor know that New England schools are in session until the end of June?  The only orientations they offer are IN June.  I'm thinking they don't get a lot of Yankees in Waco.  We're throwing them a curveball by sending a Massachusetts kid to campus, it seems.

Here's hoping Kory's team will  knock it out of the park tonight, and then Monday morning, right off the bat, we'll still be able to travel to Texas for a whole new ballgame = college freshman orientation!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Impossible Pace, Inscrutable God

 Sometimes the pace of life seems impossible due to things out of my control, but in the case of the Mother's Day Half Marathon, the pace was within my control, and I chose to go faster than ever before, shaving 6 whole minutes off my previous personal record.  It was all Betsy's fault, really.  If I wanted to carry on conversations with her during the 13.1 miles of running, then I had to keep up with her, and her pace was fast.  I'd like to think I was pushing her, too, though, because she took 8 minutes off her previous half-marathon time!  A sharpening friendship in many ways, this one.  She made me do an "Insanity" workout with her on Thursday morning instead of our usual weekly run, and now I'm sore all over again, and in places I did not know you could be sore.  Anyone ever had sore arches?  Ouch!

You probably can't tell from these next photos, but because of the morning marathon pace, and then sitting still through our church service right afterward, I was SO SORE.  The kids came home from church after the early service and put together an incredible picnic and cookout in the backyard.
 The silk Gerber daisies each had a descriptive word on them ~ 2 from each kid and Robert.  They each told me why they chose the word they did, and it was very sweet.  And it was all very normal until we got to Cooper's word choices for me, one of which was "feng shui." He actually pulled off the explanation and connection pretty well, but I don't think I can actually repeat his sentiments, as they were, you know, unique to Cooper, and everyone knows he is his own man.  Original.  Mold broken.

Let's see...how many takes does it take for a mom to get a decent picture with her kids.  Keep in mind the photographer is a bit reluctant in that capacity as well.
 So, the next time you catch yourself thinking that Facebook or this blog are totally authentic and transparent and also perfectly accurate representations of life around here, and that life is perfect, think again.  This was painful, to say the least.  And I was sore, and therefore grumpy, but we managed to get this next one, which is pretty decent.
 I tortured the whole crew by making them drive a mile to the UMass campus where I had seen these gorgeous blooming trees on my way home from the half-marathon.  Kory got behind the camera, and managed {again, after MANY tries} to get this one.
Mother's Day was three days before my last day of teaching Challenge I for the year.  It was a grueling day of final exams.  These poor kids had to sit for FIVE final exams in the subjects of algebra, Latin, physical science, government, and philosophy. Their brains were fried by 3pm. Good thing a couple of their moms planned a hike at the end of the day complete with ice cream sundaes waiting at the top of the mountain!  I managed to catch half the class on the way up.  These are really wonderful, bright, kind kids who know how to make me laugh and have tons of fun.  I so enjoyed having them in class and am very thankful that Cooper was surrounded by such incredible peers this year.
Then, the very next day, quite early in the morning, we packed him a couple of breakfast sandwiches, and sent Kory off to Cooperstown, NY with his team to play baseball at Doubleday Field at The Baseball Hall of Fame.  We followed a couple of hours later, to watch Amherst play rival team Northampton on this historic field in the birthplace of baseball ~ a very special opportunity for everyone!

 Baseball, baseball, everywhere!  Loved it!

We walked around town and got coffee before making the three hour trek home.  Kory and his team were treated to dinner on their way home at a place called Red Neck BBQ.  In upstate New York. MmmmHmmm. Yep.  His only comment was "It wasn't Rudy's."  
A couple of weeks later it was "Senior Night" at a home game.  Seniors were introduced and given engraved commemorative Doubleday Field bats, the college they would be attending was announced, moms got a hug and a rose, and then we won the game.  Great night except for the frigid temps. 40 degrees and windy.  I wore wool socks, a scarf, mittens, and wrapped up in a blanket. Football weather.  Not baseball weather.  Brrrrrr.....
 And somewhere in the middle of all of that, Robert took a team of 17 folks from our church to the Dominican Republic for a week long mission trip. He says it was the best, most successful, meaningful mission trip he's ever been on. They went mainly to begin construction on a cistern and water system for a village and community outside of Santo Domingo.
You can only see a small fraction of it, but they dug a huge hole that is now being lined with cement and used to collect water that will soon be used, via a new pump system, to take water to about 100 families in the community.  They also participated in a couple of church services where Robert preached through an interpreter {one of the guys from our church!} and a few from our church group shared testimonies of God's work in their lives. They did find a bit of time to hang out at a nearby resort, and he tortured me by posting photos of himself on a white sand beach with crystal clear blue water.  Cold and grey here the whole time he was gone. He came home very tired, but very encouraged by all that the Lord had accomplished in the time there.

I'm still reading through the Bible from cover to cover for the first time, and I've made it to Isaiah, which I really can't read without a commentary nearby, but still, I love it.  Two days ago I landed on chapter 40 which you probably know with its many often-quoted verses.  These are the ones that struck me this time...

Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God."? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.
Isaiah 40: 27-28

As I said before, this blog is often-times a shiny, glowing facade of the nitty-gritty real life that truly goes on around here.  Truth be told, there was conflict over going to Cooperstown, there was conflict over the trip to the D.R., there were lots of tears, revealed fears, deep disappointments, and weeks of relational strain both in and out of this house, and financial struggle was just the icing on the cake of stress and tension and misunderstandings around here.

For one of the first times in a very long time, I wondered if God even cared.  If He could even see my obvious need for justice {in my favor and on my behalf, of course}, my faithfulness, my obedient kindness, and my generosity which rightly and obviously deserved reward.

I hope you can hear the sarcasm.

Unfortunately, those were real, non-sarcastic thoughts before I read those words in Isaiah.

The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.

Not only does He see.  Not only does He care.  He understands me and the goings-on of my seemingly impossibly-paced life better than I do.  His understanding is inscrutable.  It is deep and purposeful and mysterious and good and can not always be understood by me. As hard as I might try and scrutinize it, study it, figure it out, pin it down...it simply can not be fully scrutinized here.

But it can be trusted.

I'm praying that He will strengthen me to entrust myself to that truth, and in the mean time I'll keep posting and writing about the many gifts and joys that He so graciously and generously allows in my undeserving life.