I'm exhausted and energized at the same time; a typical paradox for the Rubik's cube that is me. This past weekend overflowed with parties, balloons, family, Snoqualmie, strawberries, bratwursts, squirt guns, German heritage, and loud voices (it seems in our family, the whoever talks the loudest for the longest has the best chance of being heard rule applies). What started as an ordinary week ended with a tired mind and a heart full of love.
Karly graduated high school this past week and we celebrated Koch-style with 9 hours of volleyball, barbecue, pasta salad, beer, Cornhole and a double batch of triple berry jam. Now this jam started out as strictly strawberry per Brady's request: he will eat no other jam besides it, and it can't be store bought (at 4 years old, he's got quite the refined palate). But through the course of hulling and slicing, I found myself a cup short on squashed berries, and a grinning toddler smeared with red juice. Sigh. In desperate attempts to bring the fruit up to weight, I fished a handful of strawberries out of the fruit salad and recovered an only slightly frostbitten bag of mixed berries out of the freezer-desperate times call for desperate measures. After only a modest amount of grumbling and squishing, I peered into the giant pot of dark red, syrupy summertime and frowned at the dark freckling of blueberries throughout. Well, here goes.
Five minutes and a rolling boil later, I ladled scorching hot goo into giant mason jars and started sealing. I think most women would find this to be nothing short of slave labor, but I find it to be an incredibly rewarding and feminizing process. There's something quite satisfying about the popping sound of the sealed jar and the womanly bliss that comes when you tie a white ribbon around the metal lid. Plus Brady is so darn cute, there's no way I could deny him a jam sandwich. What I ended up with wasn't disappointing in the least: a ruby colored sort of pleasure flecked with white raspberry seeds and dotted with sapphire specks of blueberries. It was insanely good and immensely satisfying in every way.
But Saturday's soiree was only the creme in my cookie sandwich of a weekend: I spent most of the day Friday chattering nervously to myself about my impending date with a caregroup at Sovereign Grace Church of Frederick. Not only did I have somewhat sketchy roots with the church, I was flying solo. What kind of a girl goes to a meeting with people she doesn't know, at a house she's never been to, without a wing-(wo)man!? But despite my best attempts to talk myself out of it, I found myself knocking softly on the door of the Stafford's, my stomach flurrying like a snow globe in the hands of a two year old. I was greeted by a smiling, salty-haired man and a room with the tallest ceilings I've ever seen. I managed to shake the jitters after fumbling to open a few bags of pretzels and watched as the kitchen slowly filled with people I'd never met before. I was suddenly aware that I was new, a fresh piece of meat in this world that was familiar to everyone else. I felt a lump of panic rising up in my throat and I started eyeballing the door: How fast can I make it out? Is it getting hot in here? But my thought process was interrupted by a man named Bob asking, "Have you met Colleen?" Oh thank you, Lord, for Colleen, my savior of the evening.
It only got sweeter from there, mostly thanks to the best banana pudding I've ever eaten in my life. Cheers to Emily for creating not one, but two puddings-a double whammy of cold, creamy, tropical goodness. At 11:15 p.m. I found myself standing dazily in the Stafford's kitchen, my hands filled with a plate of leftover banana pudding, an over sized water bottle and my hefty study Bible (if I was ever mugged, the Word would literally save my life, I think it could knock someone unconscious). The only thing that stopped me from dropping everything and having my way with that banana pudding was an introduction to Nick, who consequently was also showing his helping of banana pudding who's boss. Honestly, I was more distracted by his teeth than anything else-they were insanely straight and sparkly white and as someone who obsesses over oral hygiene, this was no small matter. So cheers to you, Nick, not only do you have great taste in desserts, but your smile would make any dentist proud.
Cheers, sweet readers, let's do this again.