Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

Our three little snowflakes decorating our front yard!
Well, today is the last day of 2012.

This has been a year of ups and downs and, honestly, as I read back through my blog this year, I'm not very happy with where this year has taken me.  Instead of an extensive recap (I'm still recovering from pneumonia and my stamina is short today), here's a run down of the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good
* Teaching Jazzercise
* My new class that I taught this fall
* Loving my career as a university professor
* John getting Endorsed for Candidacy for Ordination (BIG yay!)
* Getting a lot done toward my dissertation
* The children finishing first grade, starting second grade - we love their school and feel so very blessed to have the option to send them there!
* A free piano and inexpensive piano lessons for the children
* Loosing 3 clothes sizes (I'm not going to mention pounds :)  )
* The children's ability to read improving so much
* Ditto for handwriting
* Being able to take our Anniversary retreat at the last minute
* Our CSA involvement
* Our summer camping trip
* Bonfires in the back yard
* Weekly Date Nights for John and me
* Really instituting a Family Night each week
* All the preaching, teaching and worshiping that we did with John's seminary journey this year
* Meeting new friends
* Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University
* The amazing ways God has blessed us through and with our faith family and our many friends

The Bad
* Pneumonia for me - not once but twice (though it probably just never left the first time)
* Having a really crazy summer fall
* Both kids getting step throat
* Finding out the hard way that our daughter is allergic to Penicillin
* Everyone getting a huge virus at the same time - right before Christmas too
* My Dad having to have emergency cancer surgery
* A very dear friends spending most of her fall in the hospital with very severe bronchitis
* The conditions from John's Endorsement (this is a really long story)
* My being sick for all of October, November and December and part of March, July and August too
* Missing the many dear friends that have gone to their heavenly home this year
* Not finishing my dissertation this fall
* Realizing how far we really have to go to reach our financial goals
* The icky stuff that keeps going on at our home congregation

The Ugly
This one isn't a list, it's a thought process and a finding out and a reflection - or all of the above.
 
I've realized that I have a really poor attitude - the Lord has blessed us so very much and I keep seeing the negative.  I have come a long way from where I was (I used to be just terrible) but I discovered that I've been slipping back into old habits, especially when I am not feeling well and with the pneumonia I've had for the last 3 months.

My children aren't old enough yet to realize that Mom can't do things because she's sick, not because she doesn't want to.  The hurt in their eyes when I have to go lay down rather than play or we have to delay doing something we had planned because I'm just to sick to do it, breaks my heart.  I know that some day they will be able to understand but, they just aren't old enough yet.  I often feel like I'm a huge burden on John and that he has to pick up the slack so much in ways that I don't want him to.  I get very frustrated when I can't meet the obligations I set for myself and often feel like a terrible failure because of this.

In the midst of all this God has blessed us so abundantly - ample finances (even though we're not where we want to be)  and abundant material possessions when so many others are struggling just to pay basic bills, careers we both love, the health of our children, amazing family and friends and faith communities, and so much in the way of opportunities.  I have chosen to focus on the negative rather than all of this bounty.

I realized particularly over the last few weeks that I have chosen to lean on my family and friends and the ability of my own very limited physical body rather than on the Lord.  It is only the Lord that can provide the peace and security that I am looking for and if this is what this whole journey has been for (for me to learn this), I welcome it with open arms.

What about 2013?
Come back tomorrow, for a look at what I'm hoping for in 2013.  I'm definitely imperfect and so 2013 will be imperfect, but I have a short "Hope List" to share and what I'm planning to do make those things move from hope to reality.

Have a blessed and safe New Year's Eve!
Lea

Menu Plan Monday - Week of December 30 and Pantry Challenge!

Birthday Dinner for My John - Crab Legs!

Can you believe 2012 is almost done?  I'm not sure I'm ready but the last half of the year has been a bear and I'm definitely ready for a fresh start!

One of the things that we're doing for January is an eat from the Pantry Challenge.  We haven't done a ton of grocery shopping the last few weeks - picked up some milk here and there and only did one "real" shopping trip between Thanksgiving and now but for some reason, our freezers are packed to the gills (John put the stew meat I bought Saturday in our upstairs freezer - the one attached to the fridge - and said "Don't open that! Everything will fall out!") and so is our pantry and our kitchen cabinets.  They're also a mess and need to cleaned out. 
So for January, our grocery/toiletry/paper product budget for the month is $50. 
Yep, you read that right - $50.  I already put together a menu for January using what we have and we have veggies, meat/protein and starches basically covered so the only things we'll need to get are fruit and milk and anything that we see that's a really good deal!  We've done it before and we can definitely do it again!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, December 30:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Breakfast Tacos, Apples, Blueberries
   Snack:  At the Movies (a friend gave us 4 passes to see Rise of the Guardians, so we bought
         popcorn!)
   Dinner:  Scalloped Potatoes and Ham, Pineapple-Melon-Blueberry Salad

Monday, December 31:
   Breakfast:  Oatmeal with Blueberries and Almonds
   Lunch:  Hot Buttered Noodles with Parmesan Cheese, Oranges
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner:  Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks.
   Desert:  Chocolate Dipped Orange Slices and Christmas Cookies

Tuesday, January 1, New Year's Day:
   Brunch:  Cinnamon Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges, Baked Eggs
   Snack: Yogurt Parfaits
   Dinner:  Swedish Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Tossed Salad, Pineapple-Melon-Blueberry Salad

Wednesday, January 2:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Almonds
   Lunch: Apple Slices with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrots or Tomatoes, Pretzels, Cookie
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner:  Turkey Pot Pie, Tossed Salad, Pineapple-Blueberry-Apple Salad

Thursday, January 3, John's Birthday:
   Breakfast: Pancakes with Blueberries
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack:Yogurt
   Dinner: Crab Legs, Steamed Carrots, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges
   Desert: Birthday Cake

Friday, January 4:
   Breakfast: Tropical Smoothies, Toast
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup and Apple Slices for the Children, Date Night Out for the Adults

Saturday, January 5:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Orange Wedges
   Lunch: Tuna Wrap Sandwiches, Carrots and Celery, Apple Slices
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Chicken-Wild Rice Soup, Baking Powder Biscuits, Apple-Banana-Orange Salad

A couple of quick notes:
* Eating out is a separate part of our budget and we usually only eat out once a month and then usually it's just John and I.  We typically spend about $20, though we've also definitely spent less, for dinner for two, either using a coupon or going to a local place that has great soup and sandwich combos at a terrific price. 
*The crab legs are what John typically asks for as his birthday present - good, fresh seafood is hard to find here in the mid-west so these come from our gift budget rather than our food budget.  They're a splurge but that's a great birthday treat once a year and we usually have enough crab left over to make crab cakes later in the year too.

For more information on the what a "pantry challenge" is, visit Jessica at Good (Cheap) Eats.
For more menus visit Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie!.

And Happy New Year!

 
  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

From our house to yours....

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Goals - Week of December 9, 2012

Things still continue to amaze me.

My Dad ended back in the hospital on Friday. His blood pressure was 86/60.  Yikes!  Turns out his medication is way off and so they took him off it and are letting him re-adjust.  Still need to solve that internal bleeding problem, but that part is stable and shouldn't change as long as he doesn't try to do too much.  He's tired, so reading, watching TV and a little bit of writing are his big activities right now. 

We're nearing the end of the semester for me. WHEW!  I'm sure ready for a break.  We have about a week and a half of chaos left and then we're done. Whoot.  Except for grading but everything but a final term paper will be done at that time.  Then I can relax and spend some time enjoying my family and finally get well again! At least that's the plan!

 Here's how I did last week:

Work:
Grading
Be Prepared for each class period
Update class web pages
Take notes from the book I borrowed from a colleague 

School:
Meet with my adviser  We chatted on the phone and will meet this week instead.
Move two books from school to work Didn't get over to school this week to move the books.
Write 2-5 pages  

Jazzercise:
Teach 4 classes 
Submit my November paperwork
Learn 2 new routines I learned one.

My Family:
Piano x2
Scouts
Dance x4
Family Night: Dinner out with extended family after the Christmas program on Saturday evening 
Christmas Program Practice x2 
Visit with Extended Family this week 
Date Night: At home one night during the week  Totally missed this do to all the other stuff.

Our Home:
Guest room ready for company
Find my parents Christmas Cards (long story) I keep thinking these grew legs and hid themselves!
Tidy the office space (i.e Put a few things back where they belong) 
Bake Sugar Cookies for the Program 
Finish Making gifts for the Sunday School Teachers
Put out the Nativity
Go through Christmas Decorations

Faith/Ministry/Church: 
Children's Christmas Program (see above)
Write our Compassion Child 
Make Daily devotional times a priority 

Personal:
Call for a follow-up doctor's appointment  Did this but can't get in until January.
Send back the top I ordered that didn't fit 
Print off Christmas letters

In spite of the added chaos, it was a pretty good week productivity speaking!

Here's what's on tap for this week:

Work:
Grading
Writing Final Exams
Last Couple of Classes to teach
Final Update of Web Pages

School:
Meet with my Adviser
Last data analysis redo
Move 4 books from school to work

Jazzercise:
Teach 4 classes
Learn 2 new routines

Family:
Piano x2
Dance x4
Date Night Out with John (Free childcare at church this week!)
Family Night: Decorating our Christmas Tree
Talk to my folks daily to keep up with my Dad's health progress
Finish Making Teacher Gifts with the Children

Home:
Clean out for 30 minutes each day Monday-Thursday
Wrap all the presents we have to wrap
All the ironing
Finish decorating the living room
Hang the outdoor wreaths
Find my parent's Christmas cards!

Church/Worship/Faith:
Make Daily Devotions a Priority
Work on Memory work with the children
Choir Practice x 1

Personal:
Hair Cut
Foot Scrub

 What are you up to this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share and be inspired!




Menu Plan Monday - Week of December 9, 2012

We've got a busy week this week and we're eating a lot of chicken.  I went through the freezer and basically we have chicken and a little bit of pork plus a few other rather random things for meat right now.  That means eat chicken!   I'm planning on buying a ham this week since they're on sale for 89cents/lb and we'll see what else we can get into our freezer over the next couple of weeks.  I'm planning an eat from the pantry and freezer month for January so we'll be able to empty out and start over a bit again!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:
  Breakfast:  Apples with Peanut Butter, Blackberry Scones
  Lunch: Leftovers
  Snack: Christmas Cookies and Lefse
  Dinner:  Lasagna, Tossed Salad, Bread Sticks

Monday:
  Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
  Lunch:  Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner:  Ham and Cheese Crepes, Tossed Salad, Apple-Pineapple-Banana Salad

Tuesday:
  Breakfast:  Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner:  Whole Roasted Chicken, Baked Butternut Squash, Apple-Pear-Pineapple Salad

Wednesday:
  Breakfast:  Raisin and Walnut Oatmeal
  Lunch:  Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrots or Tomatoes, Yogurt, Cookie
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner:  Venison Stew in the Crock Pot, Baking Powder Biscuits, Orange Wedges

Thursday:
  Breakfast:  Chai Spiced Oatmeal
  Lunch:  Carrots and Celery with Dressing, Yogurt, Sliced Pears, Cookie
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Tossed Salad, Apple and Pear Slices

Friday:
  Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup and Apples for Children, Out for Adults

Saturday:
  Breakfast:  Oatmeal Muffins with Bananas
  Lunch: Vegetable Soup, Tossed Salad, Orange Wedges
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner:  Homemade Pizza and Bread Sticks, Fruit

What are you eating this week?  Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In the Refiner's Fire - Sometimes I'm Just Amazed

Sometimes I'm just amazed at how God manages to get our attention.

Sunday evening I got a call from my Mom. 

They had gone out to brunch after church with some friends after church.  When Dad got up to pay the bill, he passed out - and ended up going to the hospital.

It turns out he is bleeding internally (quite a bit) and they don't really know why.  It's not the usual culprits, so he has to have tests, tests and more tests.

Thankfully he's home now - supposedly resting and taking it easy - but he has to go in daily to monitor his blood pressure and blood volume.  After 3 days in the hospital, he's very thankful to be home.  We're very grateful that his heart and brain "look fabulous for someone 80 years old" and in the case of his brain, better than 92% of most Americans as the doctor put it (where he pulled that statistic from, I have no idea).  We just have to find the cause of the bleeding.

On top of that both the kids and I had the flu over the weekend. And we have family coming for the weekend and the kids' Christmas program.  The guest room has a giant pile of 'stuff' waiting to be put away elsewhere in it - and that's where they're supposed to sleep. 

When I came in to work on Monday I had no idea if I'd need to fly across the country to be with my Dad. My department chair and the other faculty teaching the same class I am have been great.  And I spent Monday and Tuesday getting all my ducks in a row so anyone else in the department could walk in and teach my classes for me. 

All of a sudden all the little things - the squabbles at church, the dust on the piano, the 5lbs I gained over Thanksgiving (when I had pneumonia and couldn't work out), the fact that our piano needs to be tuned again and that I can't get a follow-up appointment with the doctor about my pneumonia until January don't matter at all.

The things that are important became crystal clear (in no particular order here):
- Being with my Dad through this
- Praying for him and his care team
- Having space for my family to sleep this weekend - not necessarily having everything 'perfect' (they truly don't care and understand perfectly that I've been busy with more important stuff)
- Comforting my children in their concern about Grandpa
- Keeping the children's routine as normal as possible
- Spending time in the Word and with the Lord

Everything else is icing on the cake.

Sometimes I wonder how dense am I that God needs to use something this big to shuttle me into the right priorities.

And I'm amazed that He is willing to do that for my own good.
And that my attention and time is so important to Him.
Astounding.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Goals Week of December 2, 2012

Well, I hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving and that everyone was able to spend some time relaxing.

We did.  And it was fantastic.  We got to spend a lot of time with family and now I'm still slowly on the mend from pneumonia, the sinus infection and a bout of the flu that ran through our house after all of that!  Yikes. I think in terms of sickness I'm more than ready for 2012 to be done!

I actually got almost everything on my to-do list from the week of November 11th done - though it took two weeks rather than one.  I'm perfectly okay with that.

Here's what I'm hoping for this week:

Work:
Grading
Be prepared for class each class period
Update class web pages
Take notes from a book I borrowed from a colleague and return the book

School:
Meet with my adviser
Move 2 books from school to work
Write 2-5 pages.

Jazzercise:
Teach 4 classes
Submit my November paperwork
Learn 2 new routines

My Family:
Piano x2
Scouts
Dance x 4
Family Night:  Dinner out with extended family after Christmas Program on Saturday Evening
Christmas Program Practice x 2
Visit from Extended Family this week
Date Night: At home one night during the week

Our Home:
Guest room ready for company
Find my parents Christmas cards (long story)
Tidy the office space (i.e. Put a few things back where they  belong)
Bake Sugar Cookies for the Program
Finish making gifts for Sunday School Teachers
Put out the Nativity
Go through Christmas Decorations

Faith/Ministry/Church:
Children's Christmas Program (see above)
Write Our Compassion Child
Make daily devotional times a priority

Personal:
Call for a follow-up doctor's appointment
Send back a top that I ordered that didn't fit
Print off Christmas letters

What are you up to this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share.

Menu Plan Monday - Week of December 2, 2012

Our salmon dinner the other night - with couscous, salad, and pears. Yum!
We're into warm-weather food here this week!  It doesn't seem like true winter here yet.  We're warmer than normal (low 40s F) with no snow.  Instead, we have a threat of freezing rain and even had a "freezing fog" (!!!) advisory today.  YUCK!   At least I can stay inside where it's nice and warm most of the time and warm my tummy with nice warm things like soup and spaghetti and stew.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, December 2:
  Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
  Lunch: Tomato Soup and Turkey Sandwiches, Cut Apples and Pears
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Apple-Banana-Grape Salad

Monday, December 3:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Cinnamon
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Cheese Stick and Apple
  Dinner: Cracker Baked Chicken, Rice, Tossed Salad, Grape-Apple-Pineapple Salad

Tuesday, December 4:
  Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
  Lunch: Crackers and Cheese, Carrots, Applesauce, Cookie
  Snack: Ginger Cookies
  Dinner: Salmon, Couscous, Tossed Salad, Pineapple-Watermelon-Banana Salad

Wednesday, December 5:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
  Lunch: PB&J, Applesauce, Carrots, Cookie
  Snack: Cheese Stick and Apple
  Dinner: Soft Shell Bean Tacos, Pineapple-Watermelon-Mandarin Orange Salad

Thursday, December 6:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Raisins and Almonds
  Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Tomatoes, Crackers, Cookie
  Snack: Ginger Cookies
   Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Cornbread, Watermelon

Friday, December 7:
  Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
  Lunch: Hot for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Cheese Stick and Apple
  Dinner: Calzones, Tossed Salad, Pineapple-Apple-Orange Salad

Saturday, December 8:
  Breakfast:  Scrambled Eggs, Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas and Oranges
  Lunch: Ham, Cheese, and Mushroom Crepes, Tossed Salad, Sliced Apples and Pears
  Snack: Popcorn and Ginger Cookies
  Dinner: Out with Extended Family After Our Christmas Program

What are you eating this week? Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Getting Ready for Christmas

We are into the season of Advent here at our house - the season of waiting and preparing for the arrival of our Lord and Savoir. 

I love this time of year - all the twinkling lights, the smell of evergreen and the excitement that's in the air.  Baking is a big deal in our family and we take part, making favorites like sugar and ginger cookies as well as traditional family fare of krumkaka and lefse (we skip the lutefisk, thank you very much!).

We're slowly decorating here.

Right now we have the Advent Wreath up with the four purple and one white candle.

The Nativity is waiting in it's box to be taken out later this week.

The pine cones and bulbs and soft felt Christmas ornaments from my childhood are waiting to be added to the china cabinet, also later this week (hopefully).

The presents are starting to be made and some are even finished!  A few even are wrapped!

Our advent wreath from last year - surrounded by cookies for a Christmas Day party! Isn't it lovely?
 Truly, getting ready for Christmas is one of my favorite things!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Goals - Week of November 11, 2012

By now I should definitely know better than to think things are going to get "easier" around here any time soon.  I think that's a pipe dream until both John and I are done with school and then we will have new challenges but hopefully a little more "wiggle room" in the schedule and the budget!

Last week I hit the wall with my health yet again.

I knew I was sick but I had no idea how sick. 

One thing that living with a chronic illness has taught me is that it is very hard to know if you're actually sick otherwise. At least when the illness is similar to what your chronic illness is.  I have chronic sinusitis and a chronic digestive tract problem too. 

It turned out that this last week I found out I had not only a full-blown sinus infection but a very bad case of pneumonia too.  Bad enough that I would have needed to be hospitalized if it was any worse than it was. They think I've had both for 6-8 weeks.

Yikes.
And no wonder I've been so tired.  And stressed. And brain-fogged.

John has a completely insanely busy week this week so I'm going to try to keep things as simple as I can.

Here are my goals:

Work:
* Be prepared for class each day and grade assignments as needed.
* Write review and test for one class.
* Finish writing up assignment for a final term paper.
* Update course web pages.

Dissertation:
* I'm taking this week off from work on my dissertation.

Jazzercise:
* Teach one class - but only if I can't find a sub (I've been trying to find a sub).
* Learn a new stretch.

Family:
* Piano Lessons x2
* Dance Lessons x 2
* At home Date with John on Saturday Night
* Pick up the children from school each day this week.

 Home:
* Daily Chores for both me and the children
* Stick with Our Daily Schedule as much as possible
* Have the children each clean out 5 things from their rooms that either need to be thrown away or donated
* Bonus Item: Work through what I can of Crystal's 4 Weeks to a More Organize Home Simplified (I started this and then didn't keep up because I was too sick - I'm thinking maybe by the time our Christmas company arrives, I might be done!)

Church/Faith/Ministry:
*  Mail drawings from the children to our Compassion International Child

Personal:
* Get to bed 30 minutes early each night this week
* Take my medicine on time each day

What are your goals this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share and be inspired!

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 11, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

Since I'm trying really hard to recover from pneumonia (yes, you did read that right!) this week and John has an extra-busy week, I'm trying to keep meals really, really simple this week.  John was a rock-star in doing the grocery shopping for me this last Saturday - even showing the children how to pick produce at the grocery store (Love that man!) - so we have some 'easy' things in the fridge and pantry this week including 4 cans of crescent rolls that we got for a complete bargain, a frozen pizza we got for free (whoot!) and a box of macaroni and cheese we got for about 40 cents.   So we're eating a few things we don't normally eat - and I'll be eating salad with leftover turkey on it instead - but at least I don't have to try to cook big meals this week.  For that I am so very, very grateful!

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, November 11:
  Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
  Lunch: Baked Eggs, Bacon, Cinnamon Rolls and Fruit
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner:  Eggplant Parmesan, Crescent Rolls, Fruit

Monday, November 12:
  Breakfast; Oatmeal with walnuts and Craisins
  Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese, Fruit

Tuesday, November 13:
  Breakfast: Peanut Butter Toast, Bananas
  Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Frozen Pizza, Tossed Salad, Fruit

Wednesday, November 14:
  Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
  Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter or Cheddar Cheese, Carrots or Tomatoes, Crackers, Cookie
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, Crescent Rolls, Fruit

Thursday, November 15:
  Breakfast; Peanut Butter Toast, Bananas
  Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Pancakes, Bacon, Fruit

Friday, November 16:
  Breakfast; Oatmeal with Walnuts and Craisins
  Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner: Shredded Pork Sandwiches, Cabbage and Carrot Slaw, Fruit

Saturday, November 17:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Fruit
  Lunch: Minestrone Soup, Salad, and Fruit
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Salad, Fruit

What are you eating this week?  To share head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Rest

For the last few years we've been in a season of being busy.  Sometimes way too busy.

Both John and I being in school.
The kids starting elementary school.
John working full time plus call.
I'm work a full time job and a part-time job.
Church commitments.
Owning a home.
Needing to handle day-to-day things.
Traveling with John's ministry (though this, thankfully, has been quite minimal and mostly local).
Family events in other states.
Me fighting two chronic illnesses continually.

I could go on.

It has left me weary.


This last week God hit me upside the head with the proverbial two by four and I have been having to take some time to rest. 

More than the usual time I take, that is.  Because, you see, lately I haven't been taking much time.

Rest is good.  Very good.

And so very necessary.

There's a reason that the Lord has keeping a Sabbath day holy in His laws for our lives.  Taking that time to rest, rejuvenate and maybe do some things that get pushed aside on the other days of the week (and I'm not talking about cleaning out the freezer!) is healing for both the body and the mind.  Using some of that extra time to spend with the Lord is healing for the soul.

Even if the physical rest is taken, spending that time is so very, very necessary and can heal you in ways you would never think possible.  In that time of rest the Lord has shown me that He really and truly does care for us and provides for us.  We had some good unexpected surprises this week that showed us just that.

Rest is good.
Resting in the Lord is even better.

What are some of your favorite things today?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In the Refiner's Fire - Decisions Made for Us

A while back I wrote about having to decide what to do about our "home" congregation and our involvement there.  You can read that post here: Decisions.

For the last several months - almost a full year even now by this time - we've been praying for an answer for what to do.

A couple of weeks ago when John had his Endorsement Hearing we received our answer.

It is very common to pass Endorsement with conditions.

One that almost everyone receives is the completion of the Master of Divinity (MDiv) from one of several accredited institutions. Occasionally someone comes into the Ordination process already having the MDiv degree - it is a Master's Degree after all, so those who want to do certain types of pastoral counseling or work in certain non-ordained positions in the church have the degree too.

One of John's cohort members needed to work public speaking skills.

Another needed to take an additional class in a particular area.

Many needed to work on their theology within the Lutheran church and what that looks like in practice.

One of John's conditions is that we leave our home congregation and join the congregation where he is working.

We received this news two days after John had preached a very, very moving sermon on how our congregation is a family and what it means to be this family.

Ouch.

We were not thrilled, to say the least.

Never mind that we really didn't want to stay in that congregation anymore.

We knew that leaving right now (which is what they wanted us to do) would negate every single thing he had just said.

So we prayed some more.

And talked to the staff member at our congregation who has been so supportive.

The answer:

We will be leaving our "home" congregation permanently sometime between Christmas and Easter this 'year'.

Sometimes that still, small voice is a loud shout and a thump on the head.

And we have listened and we will go.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 4, 2012

Pork, Broccoli and Cauliflower salad, and fruit. YUM!
Last week was a bear! I had thought the the previous week was tiring - no match for last week!  I guess that will teach me to complain.....

Anyway, we have a relatively quiet week this week before having another crazy couple of weeks - probably for the rest of the holiday season.   We're looking forward to the lower-key week here. 

I found baby eggplants on sale this week and bought a couple to make Eggplant Parmesan again, since John has been asking for it.  The only eggplants I had seen were really huge and I wasn't going to try making it with huge eggplants.  I also needed to get the 2nd turkey I had bought last year out of my freezer and make room for fresh.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, November 4:
   Breakfast; Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Fundraiser for the local Food shelf at church
   Snack: Popcorn, Halloween Candy
   Dinner: Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Tossed Salad, Apple-Grape-Banana salad

Monday, November 5:
  Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
  Lunch: PB&J, Applesauce, Carrots or Tomatoes
  Snack: Yogurt with Granola
  Dinner: Spaghetti with marinara sauce, Tossed Salad, Grapes

 Tuesday, November 6:
   Breakfast: Pumpkin Oatmeal
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt with Granola
   Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan, Tossed Salad, Apple-Pear-Grape Salad

Wednesday, November 7:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Raisins and Walnuts
   Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrots or Tomatoes, Pretzels
   Snack: Yogurt with Granola
   Dinner: White Turkey Chili, Cornbread, Apple Slices

Thursday, November 8:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Raisins and Walnuts
  Lunch:  Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt with Granola
  Dinner: Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash, Apple-Pear-Grape Salad

Friday, November 9:
  Breakfast: Pumpkin Oatmeal
  Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt with Granola
  Dinner: Date Night Out for Adults; Sandwiches and Fruit for the Children

Saturday, November 10:
  Breakfast: Cinnamon Strussel Muffins, Bananas
  Lunch: Chicken Noodle Soup, French Bread, Apple Slices
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread Sticks, Sliced Apples

What are you eating this week? Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - More Little Things

Singing with the church choir.

Lighting candles in memory of our loved ones gone home.

Hearing that a friend is now out of the hospital and into a rehab facility after a really, really, really long surgery road.

Finally getting my grading all caught up (loooong story!).

At home date night with my husband watching "Clue" on Netflix and eating bacon-horseradish dip with pretzels.

Getting some really, really good deals at the grocery store this weekend.

Having the kids so excited about playing outside in the good weather.

Getting rid of the futon that's been sitting in our garage for 6 months now!

Being able to park "my" car in the garage for the first time in 6 months. 

Seeing my best friend this morning.

My best friend being well enough to sing with the church choir today (she has terrible asthma).

Big hugs from my Buddy.

The smell of fall leaves.

Fall bonfires.

Hot tea, hot cocoa and hot coffee.

Getting an extra hour of sleep.

Getting to bed early 2 nights in a row!

The smell of a turkey in the oven tonight.

The kids starting Christmas Pageant practice at church today.

Already having all the money we need to travel to see my in-laws for Thanksgiving.

Little fingers practicing the piano.


What are some of your favorite things today?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Work Home and Family - Summer Recipes - Kale Chips


Kale Chips

Honestly, when I was told these things were super yummy I was skeptical.  I don't care much for veggie chips or potato chips or any chips for that matter.  Fortunately, these were a totally different matter!

Ingredients:
Several Fresh Kale Leaves
Olive Oil (or vegetable oil)  - I used olive oil in a mister
Seasonings to Taste - we liked basic salt and pepper but others like chili powder, garlic powder, Cajun spices, cayenne pepper, etc. or a combination of these.

Place kale in a single layer on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking pan.  Coat leaves lightly with oil. Turn and coat the other side.  Dust both sides with seasonings to taste.

Bake at 400F for approximately 10 minutes, or until crispy.

Note:  The recipes I read all had you toss the kale leaves in a bowl with the oil and seasonings. I found this gave a more even coverage of the oil and I used far less oil and spices using this method.  This recipe works best with very fresh kale leaves that don't droop when held upright by the stem.  

If you like, you can de-stem the kale and tear the leaves into smaller pieces.  We don't do this since we like to use the stem as a handle for eating!

Kale has a slightly sea-weedy flavor that some might not care for.  We like to eat these as a snack as is.  I have also had them dipped in hummus. Both ways are very good!

Enjoy!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Goals - Week of October 21, 2012

Wow.

Last week was quite the week.  The biggest thing was, of course, John's Candidacy Hearing on Tuesday. I had been gone for the weekend last weekend, getting home late in the day on Sunday, and there were several other things that happened last week, too, that were emotionally taxing and physically tiring.

By the time Wednesday rolled around, we were all totally exhausted.  I actually went to bed before my children did (and my children typically go to bed by 830pm) that night!  Can you believe that? Then I slept until my "regular" get up time on Thursday morning.  I think I need it because I went to bed at 930pm on Thursday too.   I'm feeling much better now and was ready to tackle a weekend where John was on a mini-mission trip/class thing the entire weekend (Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday). 

Since I didn't write up goals for last week, I'll just go straight to this week:

Work:
* Notes for next unit for both classes.
* Update class web pages.
* Get mid-term project photos from the department photographer.
* Submit mid-term grades to the registrar.

School:
* Cross 4 things off my dissertation to-do list
* Continue cleaning out my desk and bookcase

Jazzercise:
* Teach 2 classes
* Attend a meeting
* Learn 3 new songs
* Put together 2 new sets
* Organize paperwork (again)

Family:
* Dance Lessons x 2
* Piano Lessons x 2
* Family Date Night (not sure what we're doing yet)
* The Children have a birthday party to go to
* At Home Date Night with John
* FPU & Accompanying homework

Home:
* Catch up that ironing (I swear it's taking over!)
* Finish getting the flower and vegetable beds ready for winter
* Tidy 1 area each day for five days

Faith/Ministry/Church:
* Write Thank You notes from John's Candidacy Hearing
* Attend Choir Practice
* Decide what scripture I'm going to memorize next (I have it narrowed down to 3 - I need to decide already!)
* Update my prayer list
* Pray for guidance in 2 matters

Personal:
* Polish my shoes
* Get to bed on time 5 nights this week

What are you doing this week?  Check out Money Saving Mom to share and be inspired.

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 21, 2012



It's fall weather here - soup weather!  I love the chilly weather and the warmth that soups and stews provide.  Even better - I can pop them in the crock-pot before I leave in the morning and then we are ready to eat when we get home!  Love that.  Quick, easy, yummy dinner without the temptation of take out or pre-packaged food!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, October 21:
    Breakfast:  Cereal and Milk
    Lunch: Waffles with Peaches
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Cream of Chicken Wild Rice Soup, French Bread, Sliced Apples

Monday, October 22:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Pan Fried Tilapia, Rice, Tossed Salad, Fruit

Tuesday, October 23:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Apples and Cinnamon
   Lunch: Hot Lunch for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash, French Bread, Fruit

Wednesday, October 24:
   Breakfast: Yogurt with Granola Bananas
   Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrots or Tomatoes, French Bread, Cookie
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Chili in the Crock-pot, Baking Powder Biscuits, Fruit

Thursday, October 25:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Hot for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Sliced Apples

Friday, October 26:
   Breakfast:  Yogurt with Granola
   Lunch:  PB&J, Yogurt, Grapes, Cookie
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Chili and Cheese, Tossed Salad, Fruit

Saturday, October 27:
  Breakfast:  Cinnamon Strudel Muffins
  Lunch: Tossed Salad with Pecans, Mandarin Oranges and Dried Cranberries
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Fruit

What are you eating this week? Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share.




Sunday, October 21, 2012

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - The Little Things....

ICEEs - this one's from summer - but we also bought some to celebrate John's Endorsement! YUM!

My children loving and learning so much at their dance classes - started ballet this year too!

Playing board games with my family or just with my husband for a date night.  Our new favorite is "221B Baker Street".

Hot Vanilla for my chocolate disliking guys (yes, they're weird, but the hot vanilla is very good!) with cinnamon whipped cream.  Double YUM!

This little guy absolutely loving to wash the dishes and vacuum. Who'd have guessed?

This supper yummy tea!  YUUUUUMMMMM!

A friend sent me this photo of the pipe cleaner dinosaurs she made with her daughter.

And...

My student's mid-term projects going very well - I'm so proud of them!

The lovely large bunch of "Indian Corn" that one of my husband's Endorsement Committee members gave us after the hearing.

Rain - finally!  And a whole day of it too! 

My husband being able to take some time off from work this week to spend with the kids and recover from the hearing.

Hot soup on a chilly night.

A "date" with my daughter spent coloring.  I love her color sense!

Having dinner every single night with my family.  After two years of both John and I working odd-ish hours, having all four of us home each evening is such a blessing!
 
Having our email in-boxes filled with happy emails celebrating John's endorsement this week. And the fantastic sermon he gave this last weekend.

Fresh home-baked bread.

Mini-pumpkins on my kitchen table.

Morning hugs from my sleepy kiddos.

We are so very blessed!  Truly these are just a few of my favorite things.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Endorsed!!!

John was endorsed yesterday!
Praise the Lord!

It was a long, exhausting day but at 430pm Tuesday 10/16 he was endorsed to continue his journey to Ordination.

We are so very thankful.


Now, hopefully, we can take a deep breath and have things get back to something with a bit more routine.




Thanks for your prayers - we definitely appreciate them!

Lea

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

Monday, October 15, 2012

John's Candidacy Interview

We've been busy here!  Why, you ask?

John has his Candidacy Interview tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10am.

What is that?

It's an interview process where the Bishop's Office, the Seminary and the Ordination Council look at John's call story, his personal theology statement, his formal and informal education and his understanding of Lutheran Doctrine and decides whether he can continue on to Ordination with our national church body, the ELCA.

If you feel lead, will you please say an extra prayer or two for him (and the rest of us) as he heads into this milestone?  We would SO appreciate it!

Thank You


I'm hoping to be back to a more regular blogging schedule later this week.

God Bless,
Lea

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Work Home and Family - Summer Recipes - Pizza in a Dutch Oven


So, I'm not really sure you can call this a "recipe".  Maybe "cooking method" is a better description.

Cooking Pizza in a Dutch Oven

Normally we make homemade pizza once a week at our house - either Friday or Saturday most of the time.  On our camping trip this summer, I was looking for something other than grilled meat, sandwiches or hot dogs.  I stumbled across several people talking about cooking pizza on a campfire.
I'd heard of cooking pizza on a gas grill (and actually done it) but this was different.

My first idea was after finding a scouts cookbook that talked about English Muffin pizzas cooked in open tuna cams.  We've done those in the oven at home but they're not so much our thing.  We like our "real" pizza - large and cut into slices and loaded with vegetables.

Then I stumbled across the idea of cooking pizza in a Dutch Oven.  
We have a Dutch Oven and we could easily do this.  

So here's the recipe:

A Dutch Oven
Aluminum foil
Pre-cooked/Pre-made pizza dough that fits inside of your Dutch Oven
Pizza sauce
Toppings

Heat the Dutch Oven in the coals of your campfire and heat until warm.  This will take about 10-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your campfire coals and how deeply you bury the Dutch Oven in them. 

Top your pizza dough with your sauce and toppings.

Place enough loosely wadded balls of aluminum foil in the bottom of the Dutch Oven to form a "shelf" for the pizza to sit on.  Allow air to circulate between and around the balls. This forms an "oven" for the pizza to cook in, similar to the oven in your kitchen at home.

Place the pizza on top of the aluminum foil balls.  Put the lid on the Dutch Oven. 

Cook for 10-20  minutes or until cheese is melted to your desired level of done.  This will depend on your campfire, the size of your pizza, and your Dutch Oven.  Once you are close to done, keep a careful eye on things - we burned the bottom of our pizza by getting distracted!

Note: I didn't dare try this with our soft, uncooked homemade pizza dough.  We used purchased pre-cooked pizza dough rounds for this, since they were shelf stable and would keep well at our campsite for a few days.  You could make this with homemade pizza dough by cooking the dough beforehand partway or you could buy a frozen pizza and use that too.  

There you go - how to make pizza in a Dutch Oven! Enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Goals - Week of October 7, 2012

Well, we're all still sick here.  John has bronchitis and he and I both have a sinus infection (joy!) and the kids are feeling okay but we're keeping an eye out for strep throat - someone in their class had that last week.   I'm officially ready to be done being sick this fall!  Thankfully John and I are almost better - we're hoping this is the week we lick all this. We're both on the tail end of antibiotics and actually feel much better than we have in a few weeks.  That's the good news!

I did get some things done last week, but not many because of the sickies.  Here was my list from last week:

Work:
* Catch all grading up to current.  Made some progress but not much.
* Write up project assignment for this unit in one class.
* Write test for other class.
* Start outlining next units for both classes.
* Update web pages.


School:
* Cross 4 things off my dissertation to-do list.  I crossed off 1 thing last week.
* Continue cleaning out my desk and bookcase at school.

Jazzercise:
* Teach 5 classes this week (yes, you did read that right!).
* Put together 2 new sets.

* Learn 3 new routines.  I learned 2 last week and picked out a 3rd one to learn.
* Pay franchise and insurance fees.

Family:
* Piano Lessons.
* Dance Lessons 2x.
* Scouts.

* Print photos for Missy's 2011 photo album.
* Date Night with John on Friday (free childcare at church).
* Family Night - Pot Luck at our CSA.  Canceled due to bad weather - we popped popcorn and played a board game instead.
* "Date" at home with Missy while John and Buddy go to Scouts.
* Finish reading The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis out loud to the children.

Home:
* Finish mulching flower beds.
* Do one little thing each night to keep our house clutter free.
* Do one little thing each day to keep our bedroom clutter free.
* FPU Class - and homework!
* Pay bills and mail them.

* Catch up the ironing (again - I swear this stuff multiplies on it's own!).

Faith/Church/Ministry:
* Write to our Compassion International child.
* Finish memorizing The Sermon on the Mount.
* Read 2nd book for Book Study at church.
* Choir Practice.

Personal:
* Get my hair cut.  I canceled my appointment because I felt so icky.
* Polish my shoes.
* Get to bed on time 6 nights out of 7 this week.  This was easy because I was sick and wanted to go to bed super early just about every night - one night I actually fell asleep at 8pm! Yikes!

Sooo, now that I'm feeling better (even though I'm still battling this sinus thing), I really don't want to push too much but I do have to get things caught up.  Like my giant pile of grading and being ready for class and having a house that doesn't look like a paper mill exploded inside of it. So, here's my to-do list for this week:

Work:
* Grading caught up (REALLY Already!)
* Next units completely outlined for both classes
* Update both web pages

School;
* Cross 4 things off my dissertation list
* Continue cleaning out bookcase and desk

Jazzercise:
* Teach 4 classes this week.
* Learn 3 new routines
* Put together 3 new sets
* Pay my fees

Family:
* Piano x2
* Dance x2
* Finish reading The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis aloud to the children
* At home date night with Hubby - Thursday night this week

Home:
* 30 minutes of ironing
* One small thing to tidy up our bedroom each day
* One small thing to tidy up the house each day
* FPU - and homework
* Make Homemade Granola
* Make Sugar Cookies for snacks this week

Church/Ministry/Faith:
* Finish reading second book for book study at church
* Decide what to work on memorizing next
* Send pictures and stickers to our Compassion International Child
* Mail sympathy card to a friend who's father just passed away

Personal:
* Reschedule hair appointment and get my hair cut
* Get to bed on time 5 days this week
* Visit with my cousin Diane this weekend

 What are you up to this week? Visit Money Saving Mom to share and be inspired!

Menu Plan Monday - Week of October 7, 2012


It's October already.  How did that happen?  It's definitely fall here - our high was a whole whopping 52F today and over the weekend we topped out at 43F.  Brrrr.  I keep telling myself that at least we didn't get snow like northern Minnesota did!  I'm just not ready for that yet.  The leaves are almost done and we're ready for nice warm fall foods like chili, chicken noodle soup and roasts in the crock pot!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, October 7:
  Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
  Lunch:  Baked Eggs, Cinnamon Biscuit Twists, Orange Wedges and Bananas
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup in the Crock Pot, Whole Wheat Bread, Apple Slices

Monday, October 8:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds
  Lunch: Cheerios, Yogurt, Applesauce and Cookies
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner:  Baked Salmon, Couscous, Tossed Salad, Apple-Banana-Grape Salad

Tuesday, October 9:
   Breakfast: Pumpkin Pecan Oatmeal
   Lunch: Hot for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Cookies
   Dinner: Baked Chicken, Tossed Salad, Apple-Banana-Grape Salad

Wednesday, October 10:
  Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter
  Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrot Sticks, Cookie
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Beef Roast in the Crock Pot, Potatoes, Carrots and Melon

Thursday, October 11:
  Breakfast: Pumpkin Pecan Oatmeal
  Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot for Children
  Snack: Yogurt
  Dinner:  Salad with Shredded Beef, Baking Powder Biscuits, Melon
  Date Night Desert: Apple Crisp

Friday, October 12:
  Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter, Banana
  Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot for Children
  Snack: Cookies
  Dinner:  Hot Dogs in Buns, Cut Veggies, Melon and Apple Slices

Saturday, October 13:
  Breakfast: Out for All
  Lunch: Soup from the Freezer, Apples with Peanut Butter
  Snack: Cookies
  Dinner: Homemade Pizza, Melon and Apple Slices

What are you eating this week?  Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Goals - Week of September 30, 2012

Last week was a whirl-wind of taking care of my sick husband, trying to dig myself out of my giant pile of grading, having a ton of other "little" things happen (like getting stuck in traffic and being late to work) that just didn't help matters, and coming down with a huge amount of sinus drainage from the huge air pressure changes.  Add a stress migraine that arrived about 7am on Monday morning and didn't leave until about 8pm on Wednesday and it was definitely not the best week I've ever had. 

Worship Sunday morning was a Service of Healing, which was exactly what I needed to get this week off to a good start!  It was lovely and so appreciated. Even though the rest of the day wasn't exactly restful, it was a nice way to release the tension and start the week on the right foot.

I'm skipping the review since last week was chaos and I never got last week's goals posted anyway.  So here's this week's:

Work:
* Catch all grading up to current.
* Write up project assignment for this unit in one class.
* Write test for other class.
* Start outlining next units for both classes.
* Update web pages.

School:
* Cross 4 things off my dissertation to-do list.
* Continue cleaning out my desk and bookcase at school.

Jazzercise:
* Teach 5 classes this week (yes, you did read that right!).
* Put together 2 new sets.
* Learn 3 new routines.
* Pay franchise and insurance fees.

Family:
* Piano Lessons.
* Dance Lessons 2x.
* Scouts.
* Print photos for Missy's 2011 photo album.
* Date Night with John on Friday (free childcare at church).
* Family Night - Pot Luck at our CSA.
* "Date" at home with Missy while John and Buddy go to Scouts.
 * Finish reading The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis out loud to the children.

Home:
* Finish mulching flower beds.
* Do one little thing each night to keep our house clutter free.
* Do one little thing each day to keep our bedroom clutter free.
* FPU Class - and homework!
* Pay bills and mail them.
* Catch up the ironing (again - I swear this stuff multiplies on it's own!).

Faith/Church/Ministry:
* Write to our Compassion International child.
* Finish memorizing The Sermon on the Mount.
* Read 2nd book for Book Study at church.
* Choir Practice.

 Personal:
* Get my hair cut.
* Polish my shoes.
* Get to bed on time 6 nights out of 7 this week.

 What are your goals for this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share.

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 30, 2012

Brunch after church on Sunday Morning (last spring - hence the Easter decorations).  Fruit, sausage and strawberry braided bread.

It's another busy week for us here!  This semester is just seeming to fly by - and being sick from the beginning hasn't helped at all!  We're all heading to the doctor this week so hopefully we can knock this thing off and get back to "normal".

We're cooking fairly easy meals this week just to keep things easy around here.

Sunday, September 30:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Baked Chicken and Sweet Potatoes, Sliced Apples and Grapes

Monday, October 1:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal
  Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrot Sticks or Tomatoes, Oatmeal Cookie
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Cabbage Rolls, Apple-Grape-Melon Salad

Tuesday, October 2:
  Breakfast: "Pumpkin Pancakes" from the Freezer
  Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Kids
  Snack: Yogurt with Granola
  Dinner: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls, Veggie Fritata, Grapes

Wednesday, October 3:
  Breakfast; Oatmeal
  Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Leftovers for Kids
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup in the Crock Pot, French Bread, Apple Slices

Thursday, October 4:
  Breakfast: Blueberry Muffins
  Lunch: Hot for Kids, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt with Granola
  Dinner: Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Pasta Salad, Orange Wedges

Friday, October 5:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal
  Lunch: Hot for Kids, Leftovers for Adults
  Snack: Yogurt with Granola
  Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese, Grapes for Kids; Date Night Out for Mom and Dad

Saturday, October 6:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
  Lunch: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Fruit
  Snack: Popcorn
  Dinner: Potluck at our CSA: Bring a fruit salad

What are you eating this week?  Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share and be inspired.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Work, Home, and Family - What I Figured Out

I've figured out something since I've got sick a few years ago.  And it has to do with life and work and family and "balancing" all those pieces.

It all came to a head the other day when I opened a magazine that I receive and read a short article describing a day in a particular woman's life.  This half-page article is run every month and is designed to illustrate "balance" in a working-outside-the-home woman's life by giving a sample "day" in one woman's life.

The woman in this month's article woke at 5am to go to spinning class, came home and put her children on the bus for school, went to work from 9am to 8pm, ate dinner with only her husband (rarely her children), tucked her children into bed, and pulled out her laptop and worked until midnight (or later).  This woman freely admitted that her current schedule is 'exhausting' but that 'it works for her'.  

Really?  I wondered.  Does it really work? 

Is that a good exhausted - as in "I'm-so-happy-with-my-life-and-I-am-so-fulfilled"  exhausted or is that a "Ohhh-I'm-so-tired-I-can't-stand-it" exhausted?   I'm betting it's the latter and she just hasn't gotten around to figuring that out.

We all have moments in our life when we have to push extra hard to get through a particularly demanding season of life.  Those things end up being fulfilling even if in the middle they're exhausting.  I'm not talking about those moments.

I'm talking about waking up one morning and thinking, "What in the world am I doing?" with a huge sick feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach and not wanting to move forward at all.  Because you just can't.  Because you have no purpose for doing what you're doing every single day and you're sick of it.

For years, I had an idea that I was going to be a high-powered research scientist and professor, cleverly balancing several research grants, a lab full of workers, the classes I'm teaching and travel involved with being a high-powered research scientist.  In addition to this I was going to have a high-powered husband - a well-renowned cancer doctor - and a houseful of well-behaved, perfectly groomed children.  Did I mention that I was going to be superbly physically fit and well groomed too?

Once you stop laughing (go ahead, I give you permission!), you can see just how absurd this idea was. 

Yes, there are the very, very rare people who can pull these things off.  But they are rare.  Very, very rare.  That's why we hear about them. Most of us just don't have their stamina, organizational skills or internal metabolism to keep up with that for a prolonged amount of time.

Over the last few years I've realized once and for all that that whole package isn't what I want.
Not by a long shot.

I want time and space and fulfillment. 
Not running around like a chicken, lacking in relationships and having a hoard of things to take care of.

By all accounts we are a very busy family.
2 of us work full-time-plus jobs/careers.
All 4 of us are in school.
We are active in our Church community - beyond Sunday mornings.
We have a house and yard to maintain.
We have the children in a couple of extra-curricular activities.
My husband and I exercise regularly - and I teach Jazzercise.

All of that equals busy.
It is busy but it's busy for a purpose.  Something outside of ourselves.  The seasons of my husband and I being in school are temporary.  We are willing to do this for a time to get where we believe God is calling us to be.

I know that I do not want to be a high-powered faculty researcher anymore.
I know that my husband is not going to be the high-powered cancer doctor that he had intended to be when I married him.
I know that my house will never be perfectly clean or decorated and that my children will comb their own hair and dress themselves, whether I want them to or not.
I know that we will all do things that aren't perfect or even just worthy of recognition every day of our lives.

After reading that article, and getting a sick feeling in my stomach that I had almost ended up where that woman is, I realized something:

I am finally okay with all that I know about where our lives will be headed.

And I have a much better idea of what I don't want.
And what I do want.

And I'm okay with all of that.

Even if it isn't what I wanted 15 years go.

How about you?
 


Friday, September 21, 2012

Frugal Friday - "I don't want to!"

Being frugal can be hard.
Especially when you haven't had to be frugal.

Fortunately, I grew up frugal. 

I remember having a conversation in high school with my mother that went something like this:

Me: "I feel so bad for Dee's family because they are so poor. They just don't have money for anything!"
Mom: "Lea! Mr.G. makes a much as Daddy does and Mrs. G. makes almost as much."
Me:  "What?  No that can't be right...."
Mom:  "I make minimum wage working 20 hours a week.  Mr and Mrs G. Make almost 1/3 again what we make. They certainly aren't poor."
Me: "Ohhh......"  (Thinking hard here....)

That was the first time I really realized that it really doesn't matter how much money you have on the top end of the scale.  You can be rich as Bill Gates and still be broke all the time.  You can have a nice, modest income and be perfectly comfortable.

I have a friend who was asking how I always manage to "look so nice on your income".  No, I'm sure she has no idea how much money we really make so she has no idea if we make more or less than she does (my guess is we make more).  I told her about my favorite consignment shop and their $2 sale and thrift store with a $3 bag sale every week.  She wrinkled her nose and said, "I could never buy used clothing!"

I told several other friends about how helpful I had found my favorite web sites:  Money Saving Mom, The Prudent Homemaker, Simple Mom, and, of course, Life As Mom.  They would go and look and come back and say things like:
"I don't want to homeschool my children!"
"I work outside my home."
"I could never be a minimalist."
"I don't like Victorian style"
"I don't want to wash my hair with vinegar. It would stink."
"I could never get rid of my stuff. I need it"
"I don't want to cook every night."
"I don't want to have to mend my clothes - I just throw them out and buy new ones!" (Yes, someone actually said that to me.)
"I don't...."

Yes,  I almost offered them some whine with their cheese! :)

Guess what?
I work outside my home - two jobs currently.
I go to school full time too - for a doctorate no less.
My children attend private school.
My husband works full time plus call.
My husband is in school too.
I am definitely not a minimalist.
I don't particularly like Victorian style either.
I definitely don't want to wash my hair with vinegar.

And I could go on and on too.

Yes, the women who run my favorite sites are very different from me.
Yes, my style is very different from theirs.
Yes, I have no desire to homeschool my children or work from home.

These people still have great ideas and great advice.

I might not make hand-me-downs into beautiful hand-embroidered silk pajamas like Brandy (check out her facebook page - they're lovely!).  I can remake an old sheet into a pillow cover to remake a throw pillow that was loosing it's stuffing or into an angel costume for the dress up closet.

Take home message: Make something out of something you already have. Use Up, Wear It Out, Make Do, or Do Without.  Yes, you really can. And it can be beautiful too!

I might not have an empty dresser drawer and a perfectly clear counter tops like Crystal.  I can reduce my "things" and make room for people. 

Take home message: Open your life to the things that are really important, because the rest are, well, just that - things.  Having less gives you more time and money.

I might not put the variety of lovely dishes on the table that Jessica does. I can make sure my family is fed good nutritious food while sitting down at the table to eat together every night.

Take home message: Feeding your family doesn't have to be expensive or complicated.  Just do it!

I might not have the nomadic urge and green inclinations of Tsh.  I can write a family mission statement and make sure our home is working for us.

Take home message: Live the life that fits you.  Not someone else - you.  You will save money - and your sanity.

I think so often we think frugality is for "those people" - you know the ones. The ones that never have any garbage in their garbage cans, can make a meal out of three random pantry ingredients no one else has ever heard of, and whip up matching dresses and shirts for the entire family from a spare set of curtains that someone was giving away.  "Those people" are rare. VERY rare.  That's why we hear about them.

The rest are just normal people, doing what works to fit what they want out of life into their budget. 

We dismiss what they have to say because we just don't want to. 
We don't want to change. 
We don't want to "be them." 
Don't be them, be you. 

Do frugality your way. 

Listen to what they have to say.
Take their advice and learn from their mistakes and triumphs.

Open your eyes to what others have to offer.
Use it to spark your imagination rather than having it be your mandate or dictate. 

You might just be surprised what you can learn - and save money while doing it!
For more Frugal Friday, check out Life as Mom!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Work, Home and Family - Fresh Corn Salad

This was a keeper along with many of the 12 recipes I tried this summer. 

Quite frankly, I was expecting more of them to be flops. 

For our first anniversary, my parents bought us a subscription to a cooking magazine. It had some great recipes - many of which we tried and kept.  There were  few - yikes!  Most were edible.  One was an entire pot that we had to throw out  - the ingredients looked great but the recipe was definitely not.  So, now I'm always skeptical when I try a recipe.

Fortunately, this one is a keeper! 
And, unfortunately, I don't have a picture.

Since corn season is almost over, I thought I'd post this before the fresh corn is completely gone.

Fresh Corn Salad
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, July 2012 Issue

4 ears fresh corn (you could probably use 1 1/2 c canned, drained if you'd like)
1/2 c finely diced onion (the original recipe called for chilled red, I used white because that's what I had)
1/2 c cucumber, not peeled and diced  (original recipe called for seeded, we didn't)
1/2 c red or orange sweet pepper, diced
1/2 c cherry or pear tomatoes, halved or quartered (we used yellow pear tomatoes)
3 tbsp parsley, finely torn
1 tbsp basil leaves, pulled apart
1 tbsp fresh jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, diced (we consider this optional)
1/2 tsp sea or kosher salt
1 -2 c small greens (the original recipe called for arugula, but we used baby spinach and red lettuce)

Dressing: (the original recipe doubled these ingredients, except for the pepper)*
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/8 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black (or red) pepper

For salad, cut kernels off cobs.  In a large bowl toss corn and remaining ingredients except salt and greens.  At serving time, transfer corn mixture to serving bowl and season with salt.  Add greens and dressing. Toss lightly to mix.  Serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings of approximately 77 calories per serving.

We served this as a side dish for dinner one night and found it very tasty.  It was a good compliment to grilled meat and tasted very summery to us.  I hope you enjoy it too!

 

* We like our salads very light on dressing and sometimes even eat our salads without any dressing at all!  The amount of dressing called for in the original recipe was simply way to much for us.  If you like dressing, please feel free to double the amounts back to the original! Oh, and yes, we really like pepper at our house!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Healthy Habits in 2012 - Knowing Your Limits

One of the things about fighting 2 chronic illnesses is that the limits of the body are more evident than they might be for the average person.

Before I got sick, I could get by on 4-5 hours of sleep 2-3 nights a week, as long as they weren't consecutive.
Before I got sick, I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted and, while I might gain a pound or two, my digestive tract worked just fine and I felt just fine.
Before I got sick, I could push myself to the point of exhaustion in a workout (or pretty much anything else) and know that I'd bounce back the next day.
Before I got sick, as long as I drank a cup or two of coffee in the morning I could pretty much gurarantee a clear head for thinking all day long.

Now... not so much.

Now, I need a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night when I'm not sick. When I'm sick it's 9 - 10 hours.  When I need to push for a night, it's 6 1/2.  No less.  Even if it's only one night that week.

If I eat junk food - any of it - my stomach revolts and I feel like a complete slug for hours.

I can't push myself to the point of exhaustion. Ever.  If I want to function at all within the next 24 hours, that is.  And even if  I don't need to function for the next 24 hours, I feel the effects for up to a week.

Brain fog is something that I have to contend with if I'm too tired, if I ate something I don't normally eat, if I have a head cold or other minor illness, or if I've gotten off to a rough start that morning - no matter how much or how little coffee I have drank that morning.

Quite frankly, I miss the "old" me.  The one that didn't have to be quite so careful about everything. That didn't have to "shut down" at 1030pm every single night or else.  That didn't have to watch everything she eats.   That could push for a day or two or a week, if necessary.  That could think and reason clearly without any complications or physical and mental pushing.

I was supposed to teach 4 Jazzercise classes this week.  I gave up two of them.

Why? 

Because I spent 44 of the 48 hours this weekend in bed, unable to be upright for more about 5 minutes at a time with a terrible head cold/sinus infection.

Because I know I can't push myself too hard.

Because short term gain would mean long-term loss.

And I really and truly would rather hold to where I'm at right now - even though I'd like to be thinner with better defined muscles - than slide backwards.

That, my friends, is truly a healthy habit!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 16, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Bunt Cake - Yum!

Our CSA has only one more share this season. It's hard to believe that fall is almost really and truly here.  My freezer is almost full, though, so I guess that's about right!  We have loads of green beans, peas, and other good things for this winter.  And I'm feeling mighty blessed!

What are we eating this week?

Sunday, September 16:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch:  French Toast
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Leftovers

Monday, September 17:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal
   Lunch: PB&J, Applesauce, Yogurt, and Tomatoes
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner:  Veggie Soup, Biscuits, Melon

Tuesday, September 18:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
   Lunch: Hot for Children, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Pork Chops, Rice, Baked Butternut Squash, Melon-Grape Salad

Wednesday, September 19:
  Breakfast: Spiced Pancakes
  Lunch: PB&J, Applesauce, Yogurt and Cut Veggies
  Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
  Dinner: BBQ Chicken Legs, Sweet Potato Fries, Melon

Thursday, September 20:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
  Lunch: Yogurt with Fruit to dip, Cut Veggies, Oatmeal Cookies
  Snack: Grapes
  Dinner: Ham and Veggie Wraps, Cut Veggies, Apple and Pear Slices

Friday, September 21:
  Breakfast: Waffles with Applesauce
  Lunch: Leftovers for Everyone
  Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
  Dinner: Refried Beans, Tortilla Chips, Corn Salsa, Melon

Saturday, September 22:
  Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Bananas
  Lunch:  Taco Salad with Cheese and Salsa
  Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
  Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Sliced Fruit
  Date Night Desert: Rhubarb Crisp

What are you eating this week?  Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share.