Swedish Coffee

While my in-laws stayed with us a couple weekends ago, R’s dad brought up “cowboy coffee”, which is basically coffee brewed over the campfire when you’re in a pinch. Unfortunately, there’s grounds in it. Cowboys don’t care, though.

By the way, I have no idea how we get onto any of these subjects. I had probably confessed that my dying wish is to go on a cattle drive a la Billy Crystal in City Slickers. Everything has become my dying wish lately. It sounds that much more romantic. At this moment, my dying wish is that Ruthie takes a nap to give me enough time to use conditioner in the shower. A few extra minutes to shave my legs would be the heaven part afterwards. I’m sure R’s dying wish is to quit talking about my dying wishes.

After we wrinkled our noses at the ground-filled cowboy coffee, he threw out “Swedish Coffee”. A similar campfire technique, minus the grounds, plus an egg. So we searched how to make it on youtube. Looked easy, so I asked the FIL to be my hand model and walk us through the steps.

First you pour a scoop of coffee into a bowl.

Then crack an egg and mix into grounds. Shell and all. We were surprised by that. Don’t forget to say hello to the cutest dog in the world, Shady.

After it’s all mixed up and looking like cake batter, dump it into boiling water.

As we waited a couple minutes for it to brew, I took the opportunity to admire FIL’s gorgeous gray/white goatee. If you don’t know, I’m slightly obsessed with white hair. Even to the point that I’m kinda hoping I go that color soon. My thought process is that if I keep my hair uncolored and gray, I’ll look the same age for a longer period of time.

R said, “You mean looking 55 until you’re 55.”

Yep. But when I’m 55, it won’t be a shock to anyone at least.

Look at it, though. That color on a bob would be so classy. I love it.

I wish it were in my genes.

Hang on, people! After looking at other photos, I spotted my dad’s pretty white hair. Maybe I do have a chance!!

Poor R. Good thing he likes older women.

Now let’s all take a moment and count Ruthie’s chins. I see 4. Atta girl.

After a few minutes, we were ready to pour the brewed coffee. No strainer is necessary.

Why? Because the egg holds all of the grounds back! Look at that clear coffee, we were all amazed.

And there’s the residue.

Just a little diy. You know, in case you’re out camping and happen to also be carrying around one egg.


Now I Know Why The Mayans Worshipped It…

Oh, glorious sun.. how I love thee. Not only do you clear up my face in the summertime and bleach my hair to make it look less graytastic, you also get poop stains out of my cloth diapers.

There seems to be a running theme in my posts lately. And yes, pun was intended. Leave me alone, I’m up to my eyeballs in Ruth’s diaper antics and must put other people through my pain as well.

Actually, it’s not all that bad. Even with cloth diapers.

Right now the poo washes right out, but after two rinse cycles as well as a wash cycle, it can still leave stains on them.

Here’s a close -up:

See the yellow stainage? Not horrible, but it’s still poo stains, and who wants to see that.

So I load them up on my expandable clothesline that is in front of a very sunny south-facing window. Did I mention how much I love this set up? It has made my life so much easier.

I basically wash the diapers once every other day, in the morning. I rinse, then wash, then rinse again. Afterwards, I throw them up on the line until dried. For those with stainage, I make sure they are front and center to soak up that sunshine.

And then only a couple hours later (maybe sooner, that’s just when I remembered to check)

….out came the stains! This is not a doctored photo, nor is it a different cloth insert. You can tell by that little cotton nub on the left-hand side.

Why does this amaze me? But it does.

Thank you Sunny McSunnershine!

You’ve got that lovin’ feeling…

After I wrote my post on “The Balance” between enjoying life and helping those in it, our friend T immediately invited us over for a patio fire and discussion. While I didn’t get to hang out by the fire that much (Ruthie has taken quite a liking to this thing called milk), we did collectively agree that we need to move past talking and into doing. Do, do, do. Action speaks louder than words kind of thing.

As he wrote in an email: …it’s a big deal, you know, loving people and pointing them to God. I think it’s the reason for our existence.

That pretty much sums it up, now doesn’t it.

And so we decided to start meeting on a regular basis to make word on our decision, and I’ll be documenting each get together. My intent is not to boast about our doings in hopes that your estimation of me will rise (although, I think we can all agree that with my track record it wouldn’t take much to see an improvement. Oh look honey, she took out the trash. She’s a saint) but rather it’s for encouragement. If I told no one, I’d still be tickled pink… however we need to be each others’ cheerleader and inspiration. As my mom said, “You never know what ripples you may cause..” Would T have asked us over to have such a pointed conversation? Probably, in time. But maybe that post helped speed up the process.

Also, I’ll be sharing these to give you ideas. I think we could all use a little help that department. I certainly didn’t come up with Blessing Bags (to give to homeless people on the street. Keep them in your car and deliver as needed.) I happened to be reading one blog that linked to another blog that linked to another and there you have it, the internet. It’s a wonderful thing.

For our first get together, I invited everyone to The Shack (you know, to keep us humble) for chili, vino, and bag-making.

I set up all the items, buffet style. This would be the first time people actually got around our table in what would be, let me see… how old is ruth, over two months. Normally we find a spot that’s easy to collapse into, shove our face and then grab her so the other can eat.

I had offered to buy everyone’s items, but T wanted his son to be a part of the entire process. This is something I had not considered, and love. Our children need to know these things didn’t just come out of thin air. We are setting aside money (and time) for people…. because they are that important to us.

Ruth slept through the buying trip.

Here’s what we put into the gallon-sized bag:

  • Cough Drops
  • Socks
  • Tylenol
  • Band-Aids
  • Gum
  • Combs
  • Kleenex
  • Soap
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Handi-Wipes
  • Granola Bars
  • PB Crackers
  • Mouthwash
  • Chapstick

Along with a scripture:

(you can print this and many others off from here)

Ro had a great idea of including feminine hygiene products, like maxi-pads, in future bags. Again, that’s something I’ve never considered before. This group thing is already working out… throwing out suggestions to keep our minds thinking.

She and her boys came over to have a glass of wine and chit-chat before the dads came home… if you call chit-chatting me spending who knows how long in the bedroom trying to get Ruthie to sleep. How nice am I? Hi! C’mon in… hey, hang tight for a couple hours while I hole myself up in the bedroom, ‘kay? There’s some Comet under the sink for J to drink, just make yourself at home.

Because we quickly realized that The Shack is not baby-proof. Unless Comet really is on the menu, then I’m the most thoughtful host on the block. I found some locks and plug-in covers and her oldest ran around sticking them in for me. The covers, not his fingers.

He also kept an eye (or ear, to be more precise) out for Ruthie. Several times throughout the evening he would run up to me and say, “Miss Carrie! Ruth is crying.”  Oh, huh, kinda forgot she was back there with all the excitement.

The dads came home and we squealed as J walked his longest stretch yet to his papa.

Then another big and little friend came over. C’s wife is out of the country at the moment, otherwise she would have been there front and center with us. We ate a quick dinner and got to work. Side note: I cannot eat chili anymore while nursing Ruth. I think that’s self-explanatory.

And while it made me happy to see this unfold:

These are what really inspired me… seeing the future generation in on the action:

Little S-man, right in the thick of things. This guy is hilarious. The first thing he said to me when he walked in was, “Miss Carrie, we saw some animals that you may be interested in eating.” Well, don’t mind if I do, S. I love me some chickens!

And this blue-eyed boy… too young to partake in the bag-stuffing, but soaking it all in. Seeing and then imitating!

And this girl. Oh, B! After petting Ruth’s head and calling her Bee-bee, she hopped onto a chair and got straight to work… like she was born on an assembly line.

Even Ruthie jumped in. Sort of. She was more concerned with keeping her head up than putting a purple comb into a baggie, but we all have priorities, I guess.


By the end of the night, I was one happy mama. We ate and talked and laughed…which is what we normally would have done anyway, so why not throw a little ‘do good’ in the mix?

Drop me a line, I’d love to hear your stories.  And if you have any ideas for us to tackle, please send them my way!

WARNING: Graphic Content

Ruthie you really take us for fools, don’t you. But I’m on to you, little girl.

You slept in grandma’s arms all sweet and cuddly-like that night. Never a whimper, just a little smile here or there as you dreamt of your plan. You even had grandpa fooled into taking a nap. Though I bet he sensed the impending eruption of Mount Ruthsuvius and was only pretending.

Because before long, you “woke up”, if you were even sleeping in the first place. You knew what you were doing, because beneath those cries was maniacal laughter. “These fools will never know what hit them,” you thought.

To be honest, we should have seen the signs of this volcanic explosion. Maybe the fact that you hadn’t gone #2 in several days should have alerted us. But no, we stayed in our homes at the base of your mountain, blissfully sipping hot cocoa in front of the fire. Mount Ruthsuvius would not blow today of all days.

Then we had an earthquake, which caused some alarm. Not enough, though, because we continued chit-chatting as if we had all the time in the world. Following the earthquake were the aftershocks that only the person holding you felt. We laughed and congratulated you on expelling that gassiness. We had no idea.

You waited. Oh yes. You bided your time for, of course, the moment I started nursing you.

And as I sat talking with my mom about how laundry is caught up, how I just changed you, how I’m really glad we haven’t had a blowout for a while… out the mustard magma came.


So slowly that I didn’t notice that it got onto my hands.

But then I did notice, screamed and immediately yelled for the camera. Because that’s what you do in dangerous and scary situations, Ruth. Forget running for safety (that didn’t even help Pompeii), let me get a shot of that lava.

As we laid you on the changing table to wipe you down, that’s when I noticed the laughter and the “I got you, fools” look.

You were so smug about your joke. You laughed and smiled as your master plan unfolded in front of your very eyes.

It was funny, wasn’t it, hearing me scream and run around, then wiping you down from chest to toe. It was hilarious, right, when you heard your dad spraying that diaper down with our new diaper sprayer. You were tickled to death, huh, as you watched your grandparents stand there wide-eyed.

You got us good, daughter. But in the end we won.

Because there is nothing so fun as a baby taking a bath. Oh yes, you won the battle, Ruth, but we won the war.

Keeping it real, folks. Just keeping it so very real.

Ruthie Caused an Earthquake

My parents came down for a visit today. We were sitting around and I mentioned Ruthie’s scary first portrait experience.

Not scary for her.

Scary for us.

We had just clicked on the best (of the worst) in her portfolio and…


Earthquake! In Arkansas, folks. Pretty much an impossibility.

All I know is, if vacationing on the San Andreas fault, there’s no way in hell I’m looking at this thing.


If only to confuse you more…

… on the heels of my latest post on http://www.givingbeyondmyself.com, I had an epiphany. If I truly am trying to create balance in my life, why have two blogs? Why can’t silly and serious coexist for me?

So, forget that second blog. This is the one and only.

And so you are up to speed, here is the first and second blog post from my “other” side (cue scary music: dun Dun DUN).


PINTEREST – 11/4/11

I didn’t know that when I created a Pinterest account, it would awaken my heart. Maybe not awaken per se, but at least reinvigorate it. Give it an electric shock and slap it in the face, forcing it to get up from its peaceful slumber in its comfortable little world.

I certainly didn’t expect it. But I wanted it.


All I was looking for were old farm house photos. You know, to pin to my ‘Dream Home’ board.

And this image popped up.

both photos from (source)

I was swept away with the romanticism of this photo. The stove… the table… what’s in that tub… the bottles of milk… the wood floors. All of it. I daydreamed about my own future kitchen, not in a “shack”. What elements of this photo would you put in that kitchen, Carolyn? Oh! The floors definitely, the curtained shelves, the old stove restored, and this.. and that… and this… and that. I was having so much fun planning out my future beautiful home.

And so I went to this girl’s page to see what other photos she had. And my heart stopped.

I didn’t want to click on it. I hurriedly scrolled past it to see what other old-timey fun photos there were. But up the mouse went. And then quickly back down. And then up a little more slowly.

You need to click on it, Carolyn. You need to see it. And so I did.

And I wept.

This was the caption to the photo:

Stricken child crawling towards a food camp [1994] Photographer: Kevin Carter. The photo is the “Pulitzer Prize” winning photo taken in 1994 during the Sudan Famine. The picture depicts stricken child crawling towards an United Nations food camp, located a kilometer away. The vulture is waiting for the child to die so that it can eat him. This picture shocked the whole world. No one knows what happened to the child, including the photographer Kevin Carter who left the place as soon as the photograph was taken. Three months later he committed suicide due to depression.

I hugged the little girl that was napping on my chest. And wept some more.

In this time of Thanksgiving, how can I not thank God for everything given to me. For the chance to stay at home with my baby, to see the chunky rolls on her body that we all love, for food on the table, for a shack that has heat and a roof and electricity, for medication when we are ill, for clean water to drink, for clothes on my body, for, for, for, for.

I squeezed my eyes and I thanked and I thanked and I thanked. And I awoke. Again.

When I was 12 or 13, I found a $100 dollar bill in the coat closet. It was caught in between the shelf above the coats and the wall, in the money envelope that my grandmother gave us each christmas. By now it was mid-summer, and I wondered how I could have forgotten about that enormous gift. And then I realized that I hadn’t even missed it. The thought of it apparently never crossed my mind. So later that I night I was by myself, flipping through channels, when I stopped on an infomercial for ‘Feed The Children’. I watched as this man went to homes right here in the USA where families were living in squalor without basic necessities. Without hesitation, I wrote a short note, folded the money inside of it, and mailed it off. And I had never felt more at peace.

Where did that girl go? The one who so freely gave without a single thought?

But I found her again. Instead of talking, I will be doing. And, hopefully, you will be watching my progress, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and partake in it

Because I need your support. I need your encouragement. And I need your accountability.

Starting on Monday, I will be beginning the Couch to 5K program. And after 9 weeks, I will be starting training for the 2012 KC Half Marathon in October. It’s not as sexy as saying I’d do a full marathon, but I know my limits. And who knows, a full one may just be in the future.

No more of this.

And more of this.

But how will this help people? That will be coming in future posts. It involves you, and it involves me, and it involves helping those that need it.

Am I crazy for pledging to do this? Yes. Do I have enormous doubts in my ability to finish? Yes. Will I need to pray for strength and commitment? Yes. Do I want my daughter to be proud of me? Yes. Do I have the photo of the African child as my desktop? Yes. Will I look at it everyday and say a prayer? Yes. Will I ever let my heart go back to sleep?

Absolutely not.

THE BALANCE – 11/6/11

I have to be honest with you. After I published that first post on here the other day, I kind of had bloggers’ regret, so to speak. Not that I would have to put my money where my mouth was and start hacking up my lungs running, but because I felt exposed and dumb. Like a kid again, convinced that everyone would laugh at me.

I remember someone in college that drank too much. Way too much. And while it was happening, comments would be made like “He/She needs to stop. He/She needs to change. Etc. Etc.” Then they did stop and they didchange. And guess what? Everyone immediately starting saying, “Where’s theold person? Where’d the fun person go?”

It was the same group that acknowledged the problem who then belittled the person when he/she tried to improve.

I was incensed and became cynical of the people surrounding me…. Of the people not surrounding me…. Of everyone. Maybe cynical isn’t the right word. Maybe I was more afraid of them. Scared of losing my footing in the social setting if I, too, decided to change into someone not willing to be held in the “airheady, silly girl” box. I mean, I know you guys take me seriously. You took me seriously when I said I made a fool of myself at a Halloween party, you took me seriously when I messed up a recipe, and I’m sure you took me seriously when I said I yelled at Ryan during my labor. Yes, you definitely take me seriously when I’m a nerd.  But I just wonder, will you take me seriously when I’m being serious? Are you asking yourself right now, “Where’s the old Carolyn? Where did the fun Carolyn go?”

And that’s okay if you do. Rest assured, I will still be my normal idiot self. And I’ll still write about idiot moments on cuethebanjo because otherwise I’d get buried alive in them.

But I’m finding a balance right now, in how I live my life and how I want to involve Ruth.

I look at her and wonder who she‘ll become. I want her to be a leader. To not be afraid of others and charge her own path. I want her to know the blessings she has and appreciate them. But I want her to also know the struggles as well.

It’s the balance that’s important.

I have spent the last few days staring at that photo, crying in the shower, and wondering why I ate seconds at dinner when I was already full because a flash of that little child would come to mind. I would lose my appetite, I would admittedly watch with resentment as Ruth wiggled around in the crib knowing that she would luckily have someone pick her up and love on her, and I would get upset about all the things we have.

How is this fair, I thought all weekend long, that I have this or that. That I can do this or that. When I wanted to sit down and relax, I would think of those that don’t have that luxury and would get up to do the dishes or another load of laundry.

It was during one of those dishwashing moments when I realized that it’s just as bad to not be joyful in what you have as to not be sorrowful in what others do not. God wants us to enjoy life as well as help in it. Yes, I want Ruth to know the blessings she has, but do I want to berate her with them? No. Do I want her to feel guilty about them? No. I want her to be grateful and use them to lead others. To be happy, but humble. This is my duty that I owe to her.

Creating a balance of joy and sorrow and knowing how to use both emotions is a beautifully hard thing to accomplish. But I intend to try.

In the meantime, I’ve got to go make a fool of myself today and you’ll be sure to read about it. Whether it will bring you joy or sorrow, well it’s a fine line isn’t it.

Who let the freak out? (aka, my first night out since Ruth)

Last Friday we went to a masquerade ball. It was our first night out by ourselves since D-Day, or I guess it should be called R-Day.

And actually, it probably really was like D-day for everyone else. No one saw the Carrie-bomb that was about to be dropped on them. It was like I was 16 all over again, attending a senior’s party. Only this time with cleavage. And a boyfriend. And no braces. And a girdle on. And no job. And – okay, I better stop while I’m ahead.

But I’m probably a good 1% cooler now than I was in high school. Thank you milk production. Man, if I had only known then that all I needed was a baby. I could’ve had better fitting tops and my own MTV show.

Ruth was terrified of us. Or she can see into the future.

I literally acted as if I had never been let out of the house before. Letting my mouth, feet, and hands (I’m a gesticulator) run wild.

Couldn’t help it, though. First off the place was fantastic. Above one of our little downtown shops, in a space that was about to be renovated into apartments. The walls were cracked and crumbling, antique-y chairs were used as a lounge, mason jars with lights were used to illuminate. Ah, loved it. The juxtaposition of velvet chairs, wood floors, and crumbling walls? Candy for the eyes.

courtesy of someone on facebook

I forced people to dance with me (The band was awesome. Is there anything better than acoustic versions of Snoop Dog & Violent Femmes?), I about karate chopped a guy’s head off with my excited hand gestures, and completely put my foot in my mouth several times. The scariest moment came when I saw D, my midwife’s assistant, at the party. We hugged and another girl asked how we knew each other.

“How do we know each other? Well, she looked down there for 4 straight hours.”

And I may or may not have used the word hoo-haw.

Just keeping it classy, folks. Keeping. It. Classy. High school Carrie had edged me out at that point.

courtesy of someone on facebook

But, can I raise a glass of vino in my honor for one thing, though? When the time came for the crowd to get into the inevitable large circle, so we can break out in the middle with our favorite early 90s moves, I did not, I repeat, did not do The Carlton. Talk about self-control. Because that had been haunting me since J’s last shindig.

You know The Carlton, don’t you? Everyone knows The Carlton.

It was pretty much my first time meeting everyone, and much to R’s horror, I whipped out The Carlton. In an 80s prom dress. And high freaking heels.

Do you see what’s coming? Literally two arm swings in I landed wrong and had to stumble out of the circle in shame. We quickly left afterwards.

courtesy of someone on facebook

Not this time, though. I held back in spite of the possible redemption and R was proud. So I immediately said or did something to make him shake his head. Can’t let him wonder if I’ve changed for the better for too long.

And wouldn’t you know it, I ended up hobbling my way out to the car anyway.

Girl hasn’t worn heels (let alone dance in them) in what seems like ages. But the blisters were well worth it, my friends. Well worth it.