If the reviews of my children can be trusted -- and, oh yes, I think they can -- then I am no less than a culinary genius.  What?  Is that a horn tooting?

Exhibit A - Breakfast (I've named it cinnamon yogurt with apples because I'm creative like that.)
I spooned organic vanilla greek yogurt into bowls, swirled in some cinnamon and sprinkled beautiful cinnamon on top for effect, then served it with sliced gala apples to be used as edible utensils.  Liberty has since begged to be served this for breakfast on her birthday.  Definitely a score for me!

 Exhibit B - Lunch (spaghetti squash with "sauce" -- feel free to help me name this.)
I bravely tried the timed bake setting on my oven since I would be out right up until lunch time, AND IT WORKED!  I didn't mess it up!  (That alone should earn me Culinary Genius status.)  I set the oven to turn on and off while I was out, and I prayed that the house wouldn't burn down.  Then I placed a whole, uncut spaghetti squash on a baking sheet, and baked it at 375 for one hour.  I returned home after the oven had shut off, but before it had cooled down.  I cut the squash in half, scraped out the seeds, used a fork to scratch the flesh out into noodles and set them onto our plates.  Then I chopped up two ripe tomatoes from my friend's garden, one medium onion, and one clove of garlic and sauteed them all in the skillet along with some dried oregano and basil.  It. Was. A. Maze. Zing.  Amazing, I tell you.  I didn't even need my children's opinions to decide that, but they also agreed and asked for seconds.

Truthfully, I'm not posting this because it is blog-worthy, but because I want to remember these recipes.  My brain gave up on me long ago, so it is with great humility that I accept this title -- and maybe with just a wee bit of bragging.
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No, that would take too long; let me sum up.

It has been a year since I first received word that my grandpa was in failing health.  Six months passed while I knew he was dying, and willing my heart to say goodbye was hard.  My posting slowed and stayed confined to silly things, ignoring the deeper grief inside.  In March, my grandpa passed on, and while I know the last thing he would have suggested would be for me to tie a black ribbon around my blog and observe a few months of silence, that's what my heart required.  Who can write when the ache is so sharp?  Words do not approach feelings so deep.

This summer, Jeremy and I decided to enroll both little girls in school for the fall, and I spent those hot months playing as hard as I could with my daughters.  I wanted nothing to distract me from soaking in my family and making sure they had soaked in all I wanted them to of me before I was no longer their all-day influence.  I dropped out of almost every activity, committee, and responsibility I had taken on and simply rejoiced in being.  Sunshine beckoned.  The blog sat silent, knowing its place.

August ended.  Liberty and Mercy tripped off to school, swinging their lunch bags and waving wildly.  "Goodbye!  Goodbye!"  I made a plan full of organization and full-time writing to utilize the school day hours.  Excitement thrilled me; changes always effect me so -- a whole new life!  I wondered if I was up to all the discipline required to make it work.

The phone rang bringing with it an unexpected detour.  Would I like to babysit full-time?  I've thought of that path many times in the past, sometimes even taking a few steps but never pursuing it.  Would I like to babysit?  Uh, maybe.  Let's see how it goes.

So I began babysitting a precocious little three-year-old, but my brain and heart had already anticipated the plan full of organization and full-time writing, and it struggled to switch gears with me.  Several weeks passed while I tried to pull my brain back to the present, but it stubbornly ran ahead expecting to sit down and WRITE at any minute.  It would not readjust itself into the current time.  How do you capture a wayward head?  I finally had to say, "No.  Babysitting is not for me.  Not at this time, anyway.  I'll wait while you find someone else."

And a funny thing happened while I pondered why exactly this babysitting wasn't working.  I remembered my old days with my little girls and all the fun we had (okay, all the fun I had) playing school.  I remembered the curriculum I wrote and the crafts I came up with.  I remembered the thrill of watching their eyes light up with acquired knowledge and listening to them repeat learned information when I was no longer feeding it to them.  I remembered the schedule and the organization as well as the natural flexibility of the days.  I remembered how much I loved teaching official "school" at the dining room table and how much I loved sneaking "school" in when they had no idea they were learning: on nature walks, in the grocery store, at garage sales, in the library.  This babysitting wasn't working because I was trying to live my new adult-on-her-own life with a little kid trailing along behind, and it just doesn't fit that way.  That has never been God's design because children are too important.

Since I have said "No," I do not know how much longer I will be babysitting, but still I sat down to reorganize my days.  I pulled out the old curriculum and crafts and scribbled out items that needed be placed into our new weekly schedule.  Monday marked the first day of the new "school" year for the two of us, and today was the second.  We're already off to a bang-up start! 

And now you are all caught up.  :-)
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