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On February 5, 1988, I was 3 1/2 years old.   We had been going through the process of moving to a new house. I don’t remember much about that time period; just glimpses and flashes of memories – an empty house at 2655 Sierra Street, a mattress on the floor, a stuffed animal held tight at night.

On that night, 25 years ago, I went to the hospital with my Dad. Honestly, it might have been the day after, but for purposes of this blog we’re going to pretend it was the 5th, OK?

I was so excited! I was wearing a purple shirt. I walked into the hospital room, and saw my mom.  In her arms she was holding my brand new baby brother.   I walked into the corner, by the couch, and stood there until she beckoned me closer. I peeked over the edge of the bed, nervous, but excited.  I saw, for the first time ever, my youngest brother.

I didn’t know then how much joy he would bring me.  I didn’t know the love I would feel teaching him something new – the first thing I ever taught him was how to spell “Banana.”

 I didn’t know how much I would tease him, how much he would tease me.

I didn’t know he would have the power to break my heart and yet make me feel more loved than any of my other siblings during a lot of my younger years.

I didn’t know he would love me so much, hold my pinky so fiercely, turn to me in times of need as much as he did. I didn’t know what it was to truly love another person because of who they were before he came around.

I didn’t know how he would drive my mom crazy with his mohawk, I didn’t know how he would live so close and yet so far away and drive me crazy.

I didn’t know he would be my adventure-buddy, my friend without judgement.

All I knew was that this little bundle of joy was my brother; his soft cries made me so proud.

In fact, he made me so happy that I didn’t want to leave the side of his bed, so happy in fact, that I peed in my pants, making my dad take me back home in wet britches.

HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY JAKE!

I haven’t done a “Miscellaneous Monday” in a while, and there’s all sorts of tasty goodness on my blogroll and out in the world today so I am going to share! 

The problem with “Homosexuality” - Justin Lee writes openly and honestly and I really enjoy his thoughts.  He raises some good questions here and I think they merit further consideration.

Counting the cost – Scott discusses the importance of thinking about the “real” cost of self-defense, and the link provided is, in my opinion, essential reading for anyone who thinks they have an opinion on what the media reports on the Martin-Zimmerman case.

Bicycle clutch – You don’t have to read this, you just have to admire the beauty. I am currently using a lunch tote tied up, but this would double as a purse once I’d arrived at my destination! Brilliant!

Old & New Project – A collaborative project for graphic artists to display artwork themed around bible stories.  Some of them are incredible, all of them are interesting.  So far my favorites are Judah&Tamar and Deborah’s Song of Jael. If you want more amazing visual scripture, be sure to check out Jim LePage’s solo project Word.  Don’t ask me to pick a favorite, I can’t, I mean, 2 Corinthians is amazing, Hebrews makes me smile and I can’t forget Titus, 1 Timothy, Habakkuk, Job, ok really, I have to stop, just go. Look. Learn.

Peace like a River – Breathtakingly beautiful honesty. I can relate to this post in a lot of ways and I think a lot us can.

So, did any of these pique your curiosity? Which ones? I’d love to see if anyone else enjoys these as much as I did!

For those of you who don’t follow the news (and these days I don’t blame you) it has been a rough week for those involved in Public Safety. 

  • Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron from Austin Police Department. Shot and killed after responding to a drunk at Walmart. End of watch April 6, 2012.
  • Deputy Sheriff Ryan Tvelia from Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office. Motorcycle accident. End of watch April 10, 2012.
  • Deputy Sheriff Robert Paris from Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. Shot while serving an eviction. End of watch April 12, 2012.
  • Police Chief Michael Maloney from Greenland Police Department. Shot while serving a drug related search warrant. End of watch April 12, 2012.

I don’t have words to express the heartbreak I feel for the the people in these agencies.  For those in the public safety sector these names – whether or not we know them personally – represent brothers and sisters.  These are people united in a cause of justice and community service.  I have grieved a similar loss.

It’s easy to forget that cops are usually people just like you and I that want to go home to their family at the end of the shift.  They post pictures of their kids on Facebook.  They’re not always crooked or bad or focused on putting people in jail.  They like to go to concerts.  They want a safe place to live and raise their families, they want to see justice done, they want to help society catch bad guys.  They dress up for Halloween.  They like mexican food and sushi and drinking beer.  They love football.  Sometimes they drink.  They go to church.  They have husbands and wives and parents.

They serve, but they still cherish life.  And when someone takes that from them… it’s difficult.  I’m not a police officer, but I work side by side them every single day.  I go to church with them, I talk to their wives, I smile when their kids succeed.  I pray when they struggle.  They’re humans.  Now, granted, they’re humans who carry guns, but generally that’s only 40-50 hours a week.  The other 120ish hours they’re sons and daughters and mothers and fathers.  They’re friends.  They’re usually good people (I say usually: I know some cops are bad, but they’re few and far between and not the focus of this writing). 

Please, when you get the chance, when you see that patrol car flying code somewhere or driving behind you, please take a second to think about their job. The risk they take putting that vest on every day.  If you see a police officer eating lunch, don’t ask them about the parking ticket you got last week – just thank them for trying to protect you.  Nod and smile.  Don’t break the law.  Don’t shoot them and take their life. Is that so much to ask?

I wanted to write something about how this week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week – the week that dispatcher’s are recognized for their support of Police, Fire and Ems responders.  But I can’t because my heart is heavy and broken and I wish there was more I could do.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

I have gotten so excited about buying a house that I COMPLETELY forgot that Patrick Rothfuss’ second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles (The Wise Man’s Fear) comes out the same day I close on the house. It’s not fair, really. I’m not sure how in the world I’m going to manage THAT.

The Wise Man’s Fear is going to be one of those books that needs to be savored and enjoyed, so I think as MUCH as I want to read it nownownownownownow, I’m going to have to wait and reward myself with it after I get moved in. But really, ridiculously excited. I’ve waited to read that book since I read the first one (The Name of the Wind) in late 2007 or early 2008. Fantastic fiction that every single one of you should go read. Seriously. Go. NOW. That way you can be excited about March 1st too!

As a brief recap of things not related to my book obsession (by the way, this is the first book I’ll actually be buying for my e-reader!):

-My son Benjamin just started crawling! I really need to upload some pictures, but I also really need to pack up my 1200 sq foot house. I’m sure you see where my priorities are.
-I have to pack up a 1200 sq foot house :(
-Justin and I really want this picture in our living room! We like it. It is pretty. And very “us.”
-We are getting the new house popcorn tested for asbestos. Just in case. Most asbestos in popcorn should have stopped in 1978, but around here it’s been seen in houses all the way to 1986, and my house is 1984, so it’s worth the 50 bucks to get it tested. We will hopefully know Friday if we’ll be able to do it ourselves. I can’t WAIT for the house to be de-popcorned and painted. It will look SO much better.
-Speaking of, I have to de-popcorn a house. And paint it. I’m really glad I have help.
-I need to find babysitters. Or a respirator for an 8 month old! Just kidding. Sort of.
-Some days I miss my parents so bad I can’t hardly take a breath. Especially on days where Benjamin gives me a big hug and I want to put him in their arms. The 2 year anniversary of their death is coming up (March 4th, actually) and I’m hoping that I will get to see some of my family that day because I really could use a hug from some of them (Aunt Lynn and Aunt Tina I am looking at you).
-I had found these AMAZING purple wall sconces and I had to wait till I got paid, and I just checked, and they’ve been sold. I’m heartbroken :(
-I just spent a ridiculous amount of money on Amazon but got lots of stuff to help make a house a home (ladder, painters tape, paint sprayer, home repair book, etc). It’s still pretty much impossible to believe that in 5 days I’ll be a homeowner.
-I have vacation time coming up at work, you know, so I can move into a house. I’m really looking forward to the time off.
-My schedule at work very likely will change in the next few months involving a change I am very happy and very sad about…. but one that will hopefully give me more time with my family.
-My life has been reduced to bullet point lists for now. Oddly enough, I find great comfort in it.

*Happy dance* Repairs approved with owner, realtor told me I could start packing, woohoo! THE COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN!

24 days to closing!

As be tradition, I celebrate me birthday in t’ best o’ ways – by takin’ part in International Talk Like A Pirate Day. So, ye land lubbers, may yer loot be safe from scallywags and yer rum be shared amongst friends. May yer crew be swift and sassy and, bless me, me hearties, may ye keep your booty in sight!

I’m 26 today, which means I’m now on the 30 side of my 20’s. I’m not sad about getting older. With age comes wisdom, wonderful memories, and the ability to eat dessert any time of day. So I’m not in mourning because I got to experience another wonderful year. Happy happy, indeed.

p.s. ARRR!

My birth story ended up being pretty long. Longer and more detailed than some of my readers probably want, so it’s been added to my blog site but on a separate page from the normal stuff. It’s my birth story: it talks about contractions, what pushing feels like, and how I felt about delivering the placenta. I wanted to write down what happened so I would remember, and I had enough people ask me about the experience that I decided to share. There are pictures, but no worries, they’ve all been cropped and there are no private parts or anything gross showing. Again, I thought that may be the type of thing some of my readers wouldn’t want to see. But if it makes you feel any better, let me put it to you this way: my husband is generally a pretty private person, and he personally approved the pictures for release to the internets.

Anyways. I would have gotten everything posted sooner but we decided to drive to Houston to surprise my Aunt Tina for the 4th of July – she just had foot surgery and hadn’t gotten to meet Benjamin yet. We had a blast hanging out with her and her family and they all adored Benjamin. Also got to visit with Aunt Lynn. Hopefully next trip we can meet more people! All the excitement threw Benjamin’s schedule off and we’re still kind of coping with that (hence this being posted at 2:25am).

So, without further delay, I present to you: My Birth Story.

Enjoy.

I’ll spare you the huge post about my vacation to OK and TN (Oklahoma was COLD! It snowed in TN! I love my family! The end.)  But I will share a few pictures and why they’re awesome to me. You can view the entire set here.


Me, Alan and Mandy at some Route-66 state park thing off of I-40. Go figure! I love this picture because it’s got all of us in it and it does a fairly good job of helping you imagine how cold it really was. That wind just went STRAIGHT through you! Yikes!


This one you really need to see the bigger version, but this is right outside where my in-laws are staying. They were out shooting skeet. Everyone was super excited about shooting guns, and for the most part they did pretty good. We did get a few crazy looks from people driving by though :)


Boom!


This is Justin’s grandparents. This was as they were arriving for their 50th wedding anniversary celebration and vow renewal. I took this picture to keep them from going inside the church while they were putting the finishing touches on a few things, the least of which was Cory and Austin singing a song together. They had to practice ONE more time and it fell to me to delay them. They were VERY cold, but good sports! And the picture turned out great!


Brian, Cory, Justin, Me, David and Sherry. Happy family :D

Now for some less family-oriented pictures…

I don’t know where to start this post, because every time I start to think about it I get all giddy and grateful and probably over-emotional.

Yesterday, you see, I met my bread hero.

I guess I’ll start in the beginning. I found Heidi over at 101Cookbooks several years ago, and love her blog. By far the most used recipe of hers was an adaptation of Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana Pizza Dough. She turned it whole wheat, but kept a lot of the spirit of his bread baking techniques intact. I was intrigued by his overnight fermentation, knowing a little bit of bread baking from watching my Dad as a child. I’d only seen him make bread a few times, but I remember more than anything the smell of hot, fresh baked bread. It was magical.

Anyways. I read her pizza dough recipe back in September of 2006. For over 2 years I made that recipe faithfully as the only pizza dough worth making. I saw how the overnight ferment made a difference, and how by the third day the dough itself had taken on a new depth of flavor.

About a month after I lost my parents, I bought the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I knew I needed something to do with my hands. I started reading and highlighting and feeling amazed at how much there was to learn. I was absolutely fascinated by how much the author loved to bake bread. It was obvious that he was passionate about it.

I joined the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge a few weeks later and since then have had some of the best moments in my kitchen. I’ve baked bread that didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped, bread that amazed me with it’s depth of flavor, and bread that turned my kitchen into a small slice of heaven.

I eventually found Peter Reinhart’s blog and through it learned he was going to be coming to Texas to teach a class with Central Markets. Of course I would go. I didn’t care how far away it was, but luckily there was a class here, in Austin!

The class was yesterday. And it was amazing.

I got there early, partially because I’m obsessive about being late, but mostly because I wanted a good seat. I brought my book and my camera. Is it silly to ask a chef for his autograph? I didn’t know, but I knew I wanted documentation, proof of this moment. I’ve never, ever been the type of person to get all silly over famous people, but this man didn’t just write a good cookbook, he completely revolutionized the way I look at bread.

I was one of the first people in the class and the first person to get his autograph. He’s really not a celebrity, just a guy who loves bread. We talked, I told him I was part of the BBA Challenge (which he’s aware of) and told him how much I enjoyed his breads. He signed my book. I sat down for class and silently squealed to myself.

The class itself was really informative and amazingly great. He focused on sweeter breads, using the same basic dough he made multiple things. It was my first time tasting sticky buns, which I will now have to make. His coffee cake was out of this WORLD. Seriously, I don’t even like coffee cake and I wanted more! He included recipes for all the stuff he made, and I can’t wait to try some of them! Especially the coffee cake, that’s one of Justin’s favorite things.

One of the most significant things for me though, was the basic rustic dough he used. He got the basic ingredients together and instead of kneading them, or letting them rest for a few minutes before kneading, he didn’t knead it at ALL!

I was shocked! No kneading?! But he did the stretch/fold method on the dough one time, then placed a big bowl over it and let it rest for a few minutes. About 5 minutes later he came back to it, stretched and folder again, and put it back under the bowl. Repeated that about 5 times. At the end of the class the basic, rustic dough that had ingredients barely mixed together and not kneaded at all had been transformed into this beautiful dough that was soft and supple and tacky and not sticky and just… beautiful. He said he’d found that for simple doughs like that it tended to work better than kneading because it helped keep the gluten from becoming overworked and over bonded. I could certainly see how it worked out – he started with a very wet dough and by the simple process of stretch and fold vs. kneading the water incorporated itself nicely without the need for added flour. That bread, had it been baked with us there, would have produced amazing holes and I’m sure great flavor. I can’t wait to try that technique at home!

A lot of the things in the class that he talked about were things that I learned from reading/re-reading and highlighting the first hundred or so pages of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. But hearing his logic behind it, hearing his thoughts, was an amazing experience.

Oh! The other thing he said was that he’d found in the course of creating sweet breads that the flavor developed more if you added the yeast to warm water before adding it to the flour. Most other dough he said it didn’t matter, but that in the case of sweet breads, it did make a negligible difference. He said it was little things like realizing that information that helped to create better loaves of bread. And each little thing adds on top of the other things in the quest for the perfect loaf of bread.

One of the most important things to me that he talked about was the transformation process of dough. He talked about how bread is basically flour that has been transformed into dough that has been transformed into bread. He said that bread was used across religions throughout the world. I can’t name many, but off the top of my head Challah bread and the Holy Eucharist are two great examples from the Jewish and Christian faiths. Those breads are integrated into both of those religions, essential to the symbolism that expresses their faith. Bread is pretty amazing stuff. He only briefly talked about it, because it probably isn’t the most practical way to talk about bread, but I can totally relate in my own life. I can see my own transformation as I became more familiar baking bread, I can see the healing that occurred as I kneaded and rested.

After class I went up and got my picture taken with him.

I wanted to tell him so many things. I wanted to tell him how his book got me through the toughest period of my life. I wanted to tell him that it had changed the way I look at and eat bread. I wanted to tell him that I got the whole transforming power of bread because I lived it and am still living it. I wanted to tell him that my family appreciates the work he’s done because of the impact it had on me. I wanted to tell him how much Justin loves his Casatiello (meat bread!). But I didn’t. Words would have been inadequate. I shook his hand and thanked him for the great class and went home, skipping as I went.

Me and Peter!

Hey everyone! I just wanted to let all the locals know about the Legacy Business and Craft Expo my church is putting on.  Lots of great local businesses (including my Aunt’s!) come check it out!

Saturday, Octobert 17th
10am-2pm
Legacy Fellowship
2423 S Bell Blvd
Cedar Park, TX
(Next to Jungle Juice)

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