Smoke-out September

I should have just stopped today with the ham and beans.

I’ve got this plan to make Sundays slow-cooker, comfort food days. Today’s meal was ham and beans. (I love beans! Woo Woo Woo!) Aaaaanyway, I woke up reasonably early for a Sunday and after the prerequisite coffee/wake up, I started throwing everything into the crock pot. Miss G drifted in and asked for Doritos for breakfast. Of course she does! And I thought about it, but I said no. Of course I did. I recommended cinnamon rolls instead… just as soon as I was done getting everything going.

So, having all the ingredients in, I put the lid on, set the dial on “low,” and then took a few minutes to skim a magazine and have more coffee before starting on the cinnamon rolls. Twenty minutes later I thought it was odd that there was no condensation or fog on the crock pot lid. YoursGenius-Truly here, rinsed and chopped, and seasoned and chopped some more, and set the dial and pushed it back from the edge of the counter so no little hands would get burned, and even rinsed and put away the knives, but forgot to plug the darn crock pot in. Luckily I only lost about 25 minutes. That was my first mishap of the day.

I turned on the oven to preheat it so I could make my beautiful children my fresh, homemade, straight-out-of-the cardboard roll cinnamon rolls. Immediately I smell that smell that can best be described as “oven.” You know, that smell of burnt pizza crust and cheese that no longer smells like food…just the chemical reaction of something being turned to nitrogen as it fries on the bottom of your oven. Of course you do. Don’t even act like you don’t know that smell.

This slight burnt smell is completely normal when I bake because I’m not all Martha Stewart up in here. So I didn’t think anything of it. Until the smell got really strong and all of a sudden I’m coughing. I turn around and my oven is churning out gray smoke like it’s on fire (it wasn’t) and smoke already filled the kitchen and my eyes are burning. Then I remember the meatloaf debacle on Thursday. The meatloaf was very tasty. It’s just that I overfilled the dish and lot of juices ended up on the oven bottom when I tried to get the dish out of the oven. I had forgotten to clean it up. Now, all that juice was converting into acidic smoke and it was billowing out into my house.

We have a pretty little house, so it didn’t take long for it to fill up the living room, too. The amount of liquid that was spilled on the bottom could not have been more than a quarter to half a cup, but the smoke was so thick and so bad that the girls felt in necessary to crawl around from room to room on their hands and knees and call out, “There’s good air down here, Mom!” Thaaaaanks, kids.

Meanwhile I’m running around opening up every single window, and desperately trying to get the batteries out of all the smoke detectors because John was still sleeping. (Sidenote here to say that he was miserable with sinus problems all day yesterday. Every time he sneezed, which was about eleventy-hundred, he had to brace his neck to keep it from jarring too much.) Since I am a wonderful and thoughtful wife, I didn’t want him to wake up to choking smoke, which, by the way, had made it downstairs to where he was sleeping. So I quickly started bringing up all the fans I can find and strategically positioned them in various places so as to circulate the smoke out and fresh air in.

Meanwhile my children were running in and out of the house and made sure that our neighbors knew all about it. Which was probably wise because I could smell the smoke several feet from the house, so they probably knew something was up.

So, all’s well that ends well. The smoke was pretty well cleared out within 30 minutes or so. And by the time John got up an hour later, he said he could smell something, but that it didn’t seem smoky.

And my kids totally ate those cinnamon rolls. They didn’t taste bad at all! I’m not sure how that’s even possible. I should have stopped with the ham and beans, though. Come to think of it, I should have stopped with the meatloaf.

Here’s hoping that Monday is better. Take care everybody!

Be good to yourself.

I used to ache on days like today when I had to go inside. Even though I liked being with my students, there was most definitely a kernel of resentment at having to miss a glorious day such as today was. I frequently gave my students homework to go outside and play for a minimum of 30 minutes. I taught high school, mind you. On the occasional day when I had to take a personal day or a sick day, and the weather was nice, and I needed to get out of the house, I felt so guilty–like I wasn’t supposed to be in a world in which I knew in my soul I belonged. I couldn’t enjoy it fully, because I was supposed to be somewhere else.

And speaking of being somewhere else–I was never fully present. I couldn’t ever just be with my children or husband. They never got my best…just what I had left over at the end of the day–which wasn’t much. My poor husband, I’m sorry to say, did not have much of a helper in me. Don’t get me wrong, we are great partners in running a household. But, I wasn’t very good about helping him.

But that was then.

Today I was positively blissful at 10:50 this morning when I got to sit out in the sunshine and enjoy this fountain on this perfect fall day. What’s better is that I wasn’t “stealing” time or “taking time for myself.” No, I was actually taking care of my husband by waiting for him as he finished his physical therapy. He is still not cleared to drive after his neck surgery, and as his chauffer, it was my good luck to have this beautiful view while I waited. He also can’t carry a gallon of milk anywhere, pick up our cat, load the dishwasher or empty it, take out the garbage, or change bedsheets.

Contrary to popular belief, we do need help taking care of ourselves sometimes. And I’m not just referring to post-surgery, physical care. Sometimes we need help to simply be good to ourselves. We are not built to make it totally on our own. Most of us who try end up feeling some kind of profound sadness, even in the midst of seeming success. Yet society tells us that gentleness, particularly the need for gentleness, is weakness. If you want to be kind, well, that’s your business. But good heavens, don’t be vulnerable.

I’ve been wanting to update you on what’s been going on, what God is doing in my life, how He has been walking with me, drawing me closer and closer to Him, what I’m learning about myself, but most importantly, what I’m learning about Him. The truth is, I’m not really sure I can explain. So much has happened in the past four months. So, I’ll just leave it at this:

I used to ache to be inside on days like today. On this day, I sat outside with absolutely no place I was supposed to be. I used to feel bad that I wasn’t better helper to my husband. On this day and for the past month, I  have been able to be by his side helping him with whatever he needed, taking him wherever he needed to go. I used to have to muster up all the reserves of my patience and energy to help the girls through their homework. Now I positively look forward to picking them up from school.

What I am learning is that it is okay for me to be good myself.

It is okay for you to be good to yourself.

I won’t lie. It gets tough sometimes. Our financial situation is getting pretty…interesting. That’s the word I’ve been using. To be even more truthful, sometimes I’m just plain scared and worried. But just when I start to slip back into my old, bad habits of beating myself up over the situation, He sends me someone that helps me to be good to myself. Helps me to remember that just when we feel most in control is when we are most in danger. That when we are trusting Him to come through because we honestly. can. not. see. a. way. out., that is when we are on the safest ground.

I wish I had the eloquent words to share with you how I know–deep in my bones–the truth of this. I promise that from now on I’ll try to let you in on the day-to-day of what’s happening and what He is teaching me. I know this is not polished… maybe not even all that cohesive.

I just feel very strongly that somebody out there needs to know that He knows what you need, even better than you do. This I know from experience. He wants you to rely on Him. Baby steps are ok. And He wants you to be good to yourself. He really really does.