Welcome to week one of Read With us Wednesday. I’m teaming up with Essie at Essie’s Blessings, and busy moms around the country are teaming up to read manageable, busy mom chunks of a book once a week and stopping by to discuss.
We just started reading The Obituary Society by Jessica Randall. It was free when we began this project, and, as of this writing, is a very affordable $2.99 Kindle edition. This week’s discussion is based on chapters 1-5.
Here is the publisher’s description:
When Lila Moore inherits her grandfather’s house, she finds herself in a small Midwestern town where margarine is never an acceptable substitution for butter, a coveted family recipe can serve as currency, and the friend who will take your darkest secrets to the grave will still never give you the secret to her prize-winning begonias.
Lila is charmed by the people of Auburn, from the blue-eyed lawyer with the southern drawl to the little old lady who unceasingly tries to set Lila up with her grandson. But when strange things begin to happen, Lila realizes some of her new friends are guarding a secret like its a precious family heirloom. It’s a dangerous secret, and it has come back to haunt them. Lila is caught in the middle, and her life may depend on uncovering it. But even if she can, can she stay in Auburn when not everyone is what they seem, and even the house wants her gone?
In these first few chapters, we are introduced to Lila, her great-aunt Ada, and Lil’s newly deceased grandfather, Isaac. If you have not begin reading yet, the writing is very engaging and you should be able to catch right up.
What stood out for me was when Lila was in Ada’s home and in her grandfather’s house, I was flooded with memories of my grandparent’s home. So that is what we will discuss today!
What memories do you have of your grandparent’s home? In our current society, where families live spread across the country, and our mobile society in which people rarely live in the same house for fifty years anymore, will our children miss out on those same “Grandma’s House memories”? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Also, stop over to Essie’s Blessings and check out the conversation over there as well! We’ll be reading chapters 6-10 for next week!
Today we hear from fellow mom of many, Emily Cook! Thank you Emily for agreeing to guest post here today!
During 2008, my otherwise healthy 4-year-old daughter developed epilepsy. At the time, we had four children, and were expecting our fifth. Life was chaotic, but mostly manageable, before seizures invaded. When Aggie became sick, I found myself completely flattened by the needs around me. I went from the need-meeter, to the one who needed- grace, support, and help of all kinds. I like to be the need-meeter; not the one that NEEDS!
As it turns out, it is ok to need things. Yes, even as a mother; perhaps, especially as a mother. Today, I’ll tell you what I needed then, as a mom of a daughter with special needs.
My daughter is healthy now, and it turns out I still need most of these things.
Because I have a child with special needs, I am a mama with special needs.
I need to brace for my day.
I need to mentally prepare for each day- all that much more when my day includes grief. I need to carry the heavy thing that is on my heart to God, right away, and hear him remind me that it will not always be this way. I need to spend time in the Word, to pray for my daily bread, to trust God to provide the energy, strength, patience, joy, and love I need to do this job as mommy.
I need to talk to people who know exactly what I am going through.
I need to spend time in online forums to learn from those who have been in this place before. I need to research, even though it scares me to death, because my knowledge helps me to be a better advocate for my baby. I need to hear a few success stories. I need to know that other mothers have made it through this.
I need to talk with people who know nothing about what I am going through.
Strange, isn’t it? Yet, I do so appreciate spending time with people who do not know me as “the mother of the girl with seizures.” Yes, the problem might be the loudest thing on my mind, and it might be a little annoying to hear you complain about little things like teething and ear infections, but I also like to have a taste of normal. I like to hear the funny stories about your kids. I like that you make me talk about something other than our own consuming trial for a few minutes.
I need your patience when I am overwhelmed.
I need bucket loads of patience from my friends and family for forgetting conversations, birthdays, and constantly being distracted when talking to you. I often need to let your call go to voicemail. I need to simplify, and to focus on the needs inside my own house. I need your forgiveness if I have become a bad daughter, mother, wife, or friend. When you see these things happening, please, pray for me, and consider how you might help if you can.
I need to take care of my body.
Why do I remember to give my kids their antibiotics, anti-seizure meds, vegetables, and chap stick, and I can’t even remember to eat breakfast myself?
I need to drink my water and take my vitamins. I might need to sweat out some of my anxiety.
I need to get enough sleep. When it is possible, I need to listen to my body: go to bed early, or nap if I am tired. Yes, sleep when the baby sleeps; or when the big kids sleep; or when anybody else gives me a chance.
I need perspective.
I need people who spend a lot of time with my child to talk things out with me, to soundboard, to help me observe and discern and develop strategies. This constant job of mine is so overwhelming, and I feel so far out of my league here! Another knowledgeable person who is willing to help me wrestle through these things is a tremendous blessing.
I need to keep my eyes open.
Research, advocacy, anxiety, discipline, reading, cleaning, cooking, laundry: these things were ALL part of my mommy-job each day. Yet, stepping away from that never-ending list was so important. I need to take some time to just BE with the children, really looking at their little faces, remembering what makes them unique and beautiful. I need to see friends, grandparents, and daddy delighting in them for the amazing creations that they are, because it reminds me to do that, too.
I need to keep my hands open to receive drops of joy.
There was a constant aching in my heart for my daughter, as I grieved for those “normal” things she could no longer do. As I became her advocate and protector, it was easy for those heavy burdens to cloud my eyes, making me see nothing around me but work and worry and sickness. Yet even in the darkest days, God often opened my eyes, and helped me to see droplets of grace. I was so thirsty for them. They helped me to remember that life was not all sickness, and that God was indeed, good. I began looking for His small encouragements all the time. I found grace-drops in various places: snuggling my newborn, power-dancing with my daughters, a moment of evening quiet in the country.
I need to put myself on my list.
Seriously. If this does not happen, mama falls apart, and so does the entire world. I need to find time to rest my body and soul.
I need to figure out how I cope.
I needed to find my own way of dealing with the emotional toll of my daughter’s condition. I cope best with a Bible and a keyboard. I need time to write, to think, to pray and cry.
I need help.
I ask God for help all the time, and yet I find it so difficult to ask people! I need to remember that God often provides for me through others: my husband, neighbors, grandparents, friends, and church family.
I need the grace of God.
Every minute of every hour of every day. I need His wisdom, His strength, His love to fill my heart. I need His healing when I ache. I need His forgiveness when I blow it. I need His constant reminders that He is bigger than all of these things that are so much bigger than me. I need Him to love and care for my children, sick and healthy, and I need Him to finish the good work he has started in them and in me.
I need Jesus.
We need, fellow mothers.
It is ok to say that out loud.
Praise be to God, who cares for the needy! Please, add to my list! What else do you need?
Emily Cook is a mother, a sinner, a child, covered in the blood of Christ, and freed from the burden of pretending she is strong. She is a woman growing backward, a mother-child, messy with sin, but rejoicing in the constant love of her Heavenly Father. She lives with her husband and their six children, including now-healthy Aggie, in the arms of the church where her husband is the pastor.
She is also the author of [easyazon-link asin=”1466484314″ locale=”us”]Weak and Loved: A Mother-Daughter Love Story[/easyazon-link]
Like Dakotapam, she writes to keep her sanity. Read more by Emily Cook at http://www.weakandloved.com/
This is the soup I made for my family on Monday evening. It is from a new cookbook that I picked up at the book fair, called Keeping Good Company . This cookbook is full of down to earth, non-gourmet, wholesome family foods. I chose the Chicken Pasta Soup because, as many of you know, I am the Soup Nazi of Bismarck, and I am constantly searching for a new soup to tweak. This is a nice change from my classic chicken noodle and I am impressed by the volume of vegetables I could sneak in. This is not a quick and easy soup. It took me well over an hour to prepare. It is also not low fat, but if you ever saw the boys in bathing suits you would see that I am not needing to restrict their fat intake any time soon. I did redeem it somewhat by using whole wheat penne as the pasta…and not one of them noticed the switcheroo! So, without further ado:
Chicken Pasta Soup
6-8 Chicken breast tenders (I used 20 ounces of fancy free range vegetarian fed chicken thighs that I got on major sale)
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
4 T. Olive Oil
1/2 cup butter (divided in half)
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced thin, crosswise
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup flour
2 (14 oz) cans chicken broth
ground red pepper to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp dried basil
2 cups half and half (I was out so I used whole milk)
4 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup sugar snap peas (I was out, and used frozen peas instead)
1 T. sugar
6-8 oz. Penne Pasta
Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt. Saute in olive oil over medium heat for about six minutes per side or until done. Remove chicken and set aside to cool.
In the same pan , melt 1/4 cup butter. Over medium heat cook onion, celery and carrot until limp. Add flour, stirring until smooth.
Gradually add chicken broth, stirring constantly. Turn heat to low.
Slice chicken into thin strips, add to broth along with red and black pepper and basil. Slowly add half and half, stir and heat through.
Melt remaining butter in a large, shallow bowl int he microwave. Combine mushrooms, peas and sugar and cook on high for three minutes, stirring once, midway. Fold this into soup mixture on the stove and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain well and add immediately to soup.
A complete meal when served with hot, crusty bread.
Serves 10-12 ( if all of your family and friends eat recommended serving sizes…feeds 6 Thompsons with some left-over).
This soup also created a kitchen full of dishes to wash…a sign of a good recipe for sure…I gave the boys the night off and I tackled the kitchen, which was made more pleasant now that I have an iPod and an adapter to hook it to my undercounter radio.
The Rev. and I think that it tastes like chicken pot pie and next time I will make it with crusty biscuits to float on top.
This meal redeemed me from a few weeks of yuck, sprinkled with fast food…even good cooks lose their Mojo sometimes!