Monday, May 21, 2012

Shosin and Life Changes

Let's just be upfront and say that when you think of "zen-like" people, I am not the first face that probably comes to mind.

I'm a little chaotic, sorta frenetic when I get on a task or idea that's new and shiny, and when I'm on, I'm bouncing around at 1,000 mph.

But this concept of "shoshin," or beginner's or child's mind, popped up last week in a blog I was reading about knitting (go figure), and then again in a business presentation book I grabbed on the way to taking the kids to the playground. (It just so happened to be the top book in a donation pile and the only thing I had time to snatch up in our hurry. Figures.)

Both explain the benefits of this state of mind, especially in the face of stress, major changes, and new experiences. And well, if these days we're living through right now aren't all about stress, major changes and, soon, new experiences, then I don't know what they are.

Sometimes, when I'm knee deep in trash bags and donation boxes and I still can't see the floor, I forget that this is something we wanted. The whole time. This move is something that I made happen, even in the face of opposition, lack of opportunities within my own company, and general common sense. I pushed through lack of cash flow, lack of housing contacts, and lack of employment support and we bought our tickets and sold our stuff anyway.

I mean, really, when does a family just pick up and move within seven weeks when mama is in her third trimester of a surprise pregnancy? Well, when they really, really want something new and positive in their lives, I suppose.

Late at night, I can't sleep. I think about just how awful rolling into a new town with absolutely nothing but the clothes on our backs and a few sentimental knick-knacks just might be.

What are we going to sleep on?

What are we going to eat on?

How are we going to make it all work when the relocation money starts thinning out?

What's our safety net?

I don't sleep so great these days, can you tell? (Hell, I haven't really slept great since about 2009, but that's beside the point. Love you, Boo Bear!)

But then, twice in one week, shoshin has crept into my consciousness and Shunryu Suzuki, the great Zen teacher, whispers things like:

"In the beginner's mind there are endless possibilites, in the expert's mind there are few."

What if the point of this episode is to see the entire thing like a child would? Each new sight and smell is something good and noble and worth pursuing more of. Things like houses and beds and forks find their way to you if you're open and accepting. Do things really work like that?

Do I limit myself by trying to have all the Is dotted and Ts crossed before I even step foot back in Texas? What if there's something amazing on the other end of the journey and I completely bypass it because I had to have it all mapped out from afar before the adventure even began?


That's a word people have been using around me lately as they see us off and wish our family well.

"View it as an adventure and just enjoy it."

I nod and smile and say that I will, but really, I'm thinking about the fact that the money will only get us so far when we get there and then what will we do?

Who wants an adventure with no coffee tables?

Well...a beginner does. A child does.

My son could care less what we stuff the new house full of.

He just wants to see the new neighborhood and look for a pool and a park. He wants new smells, new people, new food, new toys, new sheets, and a new bed.

The rest of those details are unimportant to Boo and when they're decided eventually, they'll be just fine with him.

Brilliant boy, that one.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Moving is a lot like breaking up...

With your stuff. With routines. With comfort zones.

But mostly...with your stuff.

A necessary, painful process, it involves a lot of back and forth, hemming and hawing, some pointless bargaining about being willing to change if I could just get one more chance with my neglected waffle iron, and a whole lot of second-guessing in the wee hours of the morning when load after load of belongings gets hauled off to donation centers and garbage dumps.

"Did I end it too soon with that crate of yarn? Could I have gotten the scrapbooking bug if only I hadn't  sold my stash to the lady with the fierce overbite?"

I flatly refused to part with my cheap handheld mixer last week. It was in the to-go pile and seeing it there, sad and lonely as the gang from Toy Story when the kid goes to college, I suddenly remembered every batch of cookie dough Boo gleaned from their shiny, made-in-China-and-bought-at-the-big-box-store-for-$9.99 tines.

How could I? How dare I abandon our chocolate chip memories?

I nearly suffered an embarrassing meltdown when our kind neighbor bought Boy Wonder's  neon green bike, "Surge."  Sure, it had a cracked pedal and was almost too small for him. Sure, it was going to a kid whose mom was going through a rough patch and they'd just about lost everything recently.

Sure. Whatever.

But that's my kid's bike you're wheeling away without so much as a nod to its significance to me as a mama. This is the bike we bought him the summer he discovered how fun yanking earthworms from rain puddles was. The one he road on those marathon walks I would take him and his younger brother on last summer we we all waited on the arrival of a baby sister. (And whoever said walking helps stimulate labor is a damn liar, anyway.)

These are are memories you're pawing through and haggling over, you vultures.

My mom is sort of broken-recordish about how long it took her to learn that objects don't hold memories--our hearts do.

It's all well and good for her, but as I'm sorting through which beloved kids books to keep and which ones won't make the trip south, I'm not exactly open to opportunities for personal growth. I'm open to an anonymous benefactor bequeathing me enough money to rent a barge the size of Rhode Island for my memories, my rick rack, my "will fit into someday when I stop having babies," my "I'm sure he'll need these coloring books eventually"...and all of my potential memories, too.

Starting over is a messy process. But as box upon box of "coulda beens," "nearly happeneds" and even those "sure were funs" go out the door, a load is lifted from our shoulders ounce by ounce, albeit painfully.

Just like that gut-wrenching breakup you swore would be the end of you, but ended up being a brand new start.

I'm sure my old t-shirts won't harbor any abandonment issues or laugh about my lack of folding skills behind my back with whoever plucks them from the thrift store bin. I might regret my old Celtics shirt that doesn't fit not being in the same place in the dresser drawer, but I'm sure the universe won't get knocked off it's axis.

"It's ok," my old silverware whispers from the shoebox on the garage floor, ready for this weekend's garage sale. "It's all going to be ok."


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Baby Versus Sandman: Round 1 (A Bedtime Story in Pictures)'s your night going? (She's lucky she's so cute.)


Monday, May 7, 2012

crowded kitchen: turkey meatballs with gravy

Not too long ago I made beef meatballs and served them on mashed potatoes. I'm certain it was after reading part of the Pioneer Woman's cookbook (Oh, I love her.) The point of the story is that it didn't go over well with my family. Was it the mashed potatoes? (Too much of a midwest thing?) Or was it the meatballs? (I'm not all that great at them yet.) Either

Taking the leap a second time with a failed dinner is not for the faint of heart in my house. But I'm kind of crazy like that and I found another recipe from Better Homes & Garden for meatballs made in the slow cooker with a turkey gravy. Though, instead of mashed potatoes, I cooked wide egg noodles and doubled to gravy to make sure there was plenty of sauce to spare. Success!

My slow cooker is kind of a problem child and "high" really means "burn the crap out of your food," while "low" really means "high with a side of extra high," and "warm" means "your best option."

I hope yours behaves better.

Happy eating!

Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs with Gravy


1 to 1.5 pounds ground turkey
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 chopped onion (fine)
dash garlic salt or season salt
dash pepper
2 eggs (optional--I didn't have eggs that day and it worked out fine. But eggs are nice if you have them!)

gravy (I doubled this to make sure we had enough):
 packet of turkey gravy
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup water


combine meatball ingredients in large bowl and assemble into 1-inch balls. pan fry them to brown all sides. drain. place meatballs into pre-heated slow cooker.

in medium bowl combine gravy ingredients. pour over meatballs. cook on high for 4-5 hours (slow 6-8 hours) or until done. serve over pasta, mashed potatoes, or in your favorite sandwich vehicle.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

crowded kitchen: easy peasy lemonade pie

Now, Boy Wonder and I know for a fact that we didn't invent this recipe. It's everrrrryyywhere (seriously.) 

But, that said...why have we never heard of it until today? I happened to be looking for birthday ideas for the baby girl and this recipe came across our radar. So thankful it did. 

We have an obsession with lemons 'round here. And pie. Lemons and pie. Obviously, we're suckers for dessert.

This little beauty is no bake and uses a store-bought graham cracker crust. So easy...the 8 year old did it all by himself. 

Boy Wonder's Easy Peasy Lemonade Pie


1 (6 oz) can of lemonade concentrate
1 can of condensed sweetened milk
1 tub of frozen whipped topping

Give the ingredients a good half hour to thaw and soften. Mix lemonade and milk. Fold in whipped topping and pour into graham cracker pie shell. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Try to share with your family. It'll be tough, but try.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Springtime is the land awakening...


moving web address next week!

hi friends! notice the new layout? it's so much fun and i'm so excited about the direction life is taking me that i'm overhauling this ol' blog.

starting next week, the funny little blackbird becomes (officially) if it's not working, you know why. i'll be sure to stop by and leave comment love so you can find me!