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.

Goals - Week of September 16, 2012

This last week consisted of both kids and me getting one of the worst head colds we've had in this house in about 2 1/2 years.  Every time I get a head cold, well frankly, it scares me.  I mean, I should say, terrifies me. I see myself getting sick all over again - completely incapacitated, additional surgeries, the whole nine yards.  Such is my imagination when I'm tired and not feeling well.   

The kids bounced back with the speed of kids. John didn't start to get sick until Sunday night - and he doesn't get very sick.  I pushed through to the end of the week and then spent 44 of the next 48 hours in bed coughing, sleeping, reading and trying to snack and drink a little.  Needless to say, in the midst of all that, my to-do list did not take top priority!

Here's the results:

Work:
* Continue to keep up with grading  I actually did pretty well on this, all things considered. Only one activity that didn't get graded.
* Finish all the back-ground work for the first units for both classes (these were mostly done before, I just have to dot i's and cross t's, now that I know how many students I have)
* Get the web pages up!  Got one up.  Another one to go.
* Department potluck - bring fruit salad

School:
* Continue cleaning out my desk and bookcase
* Cross 2 things off my dissertation to-do list  One half of one thing.

Jazzercise:
* Teach at promo event
* Teach 2 classes, attend 1 additional class

* 2 new routines
* 1 new set

Home:
* Continue blanching veggies (we're almost done with these for the year)  Can I just say it's a good thing we love string beans in this house!
* 30 minutes weeding
* Lay mulch in back flower bed
* Catch up the ironing  I did some ironing but certainly didn't get things caught up
* Finalize Christmas gift list - pick one to work on right now

Family:
* Family Night: Continue with attentiveness, bonfire
* At home date night with John  I was too sick - John was kind enough to sit on the bed next to me and listen to me whine.  Does that count as a date? ;)
* Start dance lessons this week - 2x/wk
* Start piano lessons this week - 1x/wk


Faith/Ministry/Church:
* John helps officiate at a friends' funeral this week :(
* Continue memorizing the Sermon on the Mount
* Talk to the church office about the paraments
* Read book for book study

Personal:
* Paint my toe nails
* 30 minutes of embroidery
* Go to bed on time for 5 nights this week  This was actually the easiest - I felt so crummy that I had to fight myself if I needed to get something done after 9pm!

So this week I have some catching up to do!   Thankfully, not too much and I've given up two of the four Jazzercise classes I'm supposed to teach this week.  I decided I'd definitely wait until I'm better before teaching a full class again!

Here are my goals:

Work:
* Notes for next unit for each class
* Catch up grading
* 2nd web page up and both pages up to date

School:
* Continue cleaning out my desk and bookcase
* Cross 3 things off my to-do list

Jazzercise:
* Teach 2 classes
* 3 new routines
* 2 new sets

Home:
* Blanch beans
* Make salsa to use up the tomatoes and chili peppers we have taking over our fridge :)
* 30 minutes of weeding
* Lay mulch in the back flower bed
* Clean up wood pile
* Update budget book

Family:
* Dance lessons x2
* Scouts
* Piano lessons
* At Home Date Night with John
* Family Night: Continue with Attentiveness (almost done with this one)

Faith/Church/Ministry:
* Continue memorizing The Sermon on the Mount
* Talk to the church office about the paraments
* Read book for book study
* Attend choir practice

Personal:
* Get to bed on time 5 nights this week
* Concentrate on using loving words with my family, especially my children

What is on your to-do list this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share and be inspired!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Goals - Week of September 9, 2012

Is it just me or does the first week back at school seem to be about a zillion years long and go by in a flash all at the same time?    I was in class for a grand total of 8 hours this week and it felt like more like 60!  This week should be a lot better.  We also had a stomach bug, bad traffic (really bad), and what felt like a three-mile high pile of paperwork to contend with!  Whew.  Friday came as a relief.

So, what in the midst of all that, got accomplished last week?  Here's the review:

Work:
* First week paperwork (drop/adds, update class lists, copies, forms, etc.)
* Grading from this week

* Get web pages up and online before first day of class (My part of this is done - I have to wait for IT to get theirs done!)

School:
* Review statistics with a classmate who did much better in statistics than I did (will meet with the statistician later)
* Meet with my advisor
* Continue cleaning out my desk and filing cabinet


Jazzercise:
* Teach 2 classes, attend 2 classes I only attended 1 additional class this week.
* Learn 3 new routines
* Put together 2 new sets
* Update paperwork


Family:
* Family Night: Continue with Attentiveness
* Date night out with John (free childcare at church - we're taking a picnic to a park and stopping for coffee afterward with a gift card)

* Sew patches on Buddy's scout uniform

Home:
* Continue blanching vegetables
* Continue weeding back yard flower and vegetable beds

* Install at least one roll of edging for the back flower beds
* 30 minutes of sewing/mending

Faith/Ministry/Church:
* Continue memorizing the Sermon on the Mount
* Make a decision about the paraments for church
* Prepare for Rally Sunday
* Email our Compassion Child
(I totally keep forgetting to do this - that child will think we've forgotten about her! I have her photo on my desk at work with my children's photos. You'd think I'd remember!)

Personal:
* Get to bed on time at least 4 nights this week
* Take 30 minutes to do embroidery one night this week (treat to myself!) I chose to go to bed extra early this week instead - this stomach bug is driving me nuts!

Not too bad for a week with stomach bugs and everything else.  This week we add dance classes and piano lessons into the mix as well and it will be the first "full" week of "stuff" for everyone.

Here's my goals for this week:

Work:
* Continue to keep up with grading
* Finish all the back-ground work for the first units for both classes (these were mostly done before, I just have to dot i's and cross t's, now that I know how many students I have)
* Get the web pages up!
* Department potluck - bring fruit salad

School:
* Continue cleaning out my desk and bookcase
* Cross 2 things off my dissertation to-do list

Jazzercise:
* Teach at promo event
* Teach 2 classes, attend 1 additional class
* 2 new routines
* 1 new set

Home:
* Continue blanching veggies (we're almost done with these for the year)
* 30 minutes weeding
* Lay mulch in back flower bed
* Catch up the ironing
* Finalize Christmas gift list - pick one to work on right now

Family:
* Family Night: Continue with attentiveness, bonfire
* At home date night with John
* Start dance lessons this week - 2x/wk
* Start piano lessons this week - 1x/wk

Faith/Ministry/Church:
* John helps officiate at a friends' funeral this week :(
* Continue memorizing the Sermon on the Mount
* Talk to the church office about the paraments
* Read book for book study

Personal:
* Paint my toe nails
* 30 minutes of embroidery
* Go to bed on time for 5 nights this week

What are your goals for this week?  Check out Money Saving Mom for inspiration!

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 9, 2012

Salmon, Salad and Couscous - YUM!
Last week was one of those odd weeks that seemed to go so very fast and yet drag on for eternity all at the same time!   We have been fighting some kind of fall bug here and getting used to our crazy new fall schedule.

Here's what we eating this week:

Sunday, September 9:
   Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
   Lunch: At Church: Rally Day Taco Feed!
   Snack:  Popcorn
   Dinner: Soup, Crackers and Watermelon

Monday, September 10:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner:  Lemon Pepper Chicken, Veggie Fried Rice, Watermelon and Cantaloupe

Tuesday, September 11:
   Breakfast: Spiced Pancakes
   Lunch: Crackers & Cheese, Yogurt, Cut Veggies, Applesauce
   Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
   Dinner:  Meatloaf, Roasted Potatoes, Tossed Salad, Grape-Pear-Apple Salad

Wednesday, September 12:
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal with Pecans
   Lunch:  Ham Sandwiches, Yogurt, Applesauce, Oatmeal cookie
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Beef Stew in the Crock Pot, Cornbread, Grape-Apple-Banana Salad

Thursday, September 13:
   Breakfast: Waffles with Strawberries
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack:  Oatmeal Cookies
   Dinner: Ham Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Watermelon and Cantaloupe

Friday, September 14:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Raisins
   Lunch: Leftovers for Adults, Hot Lunch for Children
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner:  Potato-Zucchini Pancakes, Toast, Watermelon

Saturday, September 15:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Homemade Pizza, Watermelon
   Snack: Oatmeal Cookies
   Dinner: Work Potluck: Bring Fruit Salad

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

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In the Refiner's Fire - Decisions

This season of life seems to be one of waiting for us.

Waiting to be done with my PhD.

Waiting to be done with John's Seminary time.

Waiting to find out if his endorsement for ordination will be met and made and celebrated.

Waiting to find out which district our call will be in.

Waiting to find out where friends will be placed.


Waiting to find out if our home congregation is going to stay intact or completely shred itself to pieces.

The last one is the hardest for me right now.

We have decisions to make about that congregation.

To stay there or transfer to the one where John has been working. 
To re-integrate back into the ministries at that congregation on a limited basis that we can at this point.
To have John continue to help lead or not.
To have our children become part of the children's ministry there again or not.

Right now, the only reason we're still there is because of the new staff member I had talked about briefly before.  He's wonderful. And so supportive of us.

He's the only one from that congregation that has publicly prayed for us.

That means a great deal to us.

Never mind that other churches in our synod are praying for us by name even though they could not pick John out of a line up and have never met any of the four of us.

Never mind that other congregations in our synod and other synods are asking for John to come and serve them while he is in seminary.

Never mind that friends from other denominations of the Christian church (even those who don't agree with our theology) are praying for us.

Never mind that friends who aren't even Christian are praying for us on our journey right now.

The Pastors at our congregation have never once prayed for us publicly - even though the congregation supposedly endorsed us to begin this journey in the first place.

I realize that as a Christian, I should be able to forgive and "forget", though I don't believe that true forgiveness means forgetting anything but rather letting go and not letting the past have hold over you. 

I have a hard time understanding why I should be part of a body that doesn't appear to want me there in the first place.

That ridiculed and belittled me and my family.

That made my children dislike Sunday School so much that I spent the better part of a year physically carrying them kicking and screaming down the hallway to get them there - no matter what congregation I was at.

That told my husband he was a fool and that there was no way God could possibly use him.

That lied and continued to tell and believe lies about me and my family.

Why should I stay?  Why should my family stay?

I know that God has a plan and a purpose.  This is one of those times where both John and I wish we could see the whole picture - the tapestry of our lives from above, rather than within.

John is as puzzled over what to do as I am, though it doesn't bother him the way it does me.
I struggle and wait and wish and whine and bang my proverbial head on the wall.

Sometimes I want to be an ostrich with my head in the sand.
Other times I want to wave a magic wand and solve the problems in one fell swoop.

And I want to make the right decision. 

In time God will tell me.  He will tell us.  And we will follow Him.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Work Home and Family -

Our version!


Overnight Pull-Apart Cinnamon Loaf
(Adapted slightly from Better Homes and Gardens, April 2012 issue)

Ingredients:
  3/4c milk
  2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
  1/4 c melted butter (we used margarine here)
  2 T sugar
  1 egg, beaten
  1/2 t salt (I used 1/4 t salt)
  3 c all-purpose flour (we used bread flour)
  1/4 c melted butter (we used unsalted butter here)
  3/4 c sugar
  2 t cinnamon (we used 1 T)

(Original recipe also called for nuts - I can't remember what kind - and glaze - we did neither.)

Warm milk to 105F-115F and add yeast.  Stir until yeast is dissolved and let rest 5 minutes, or until yeast is bubbly.

Beat together 1/4 c melted butter, 2T sugar, the egg and salt and add to yeast mixture.  Add half the flour and stir well. Stir in remaining flour.  (The recipe recommends using a mixer for this whole part but I just used my arm and a wooden spoon.)   Shape into a ball - dough will not be smooth.  Place in an oiled bowl and let rise overnight in the fridge or until nearly double in a warm place.  

After rising:

Grease (recipe says "butter") a 9"x5"x3" loaf pan. 

Roll dough into a 20"x 12" rectangle and brush with the 1/4 c melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Cut rectangle crosswise into  5 12"x4" strips.  Stack strips and cut into pieces. Loosely stagger strips in prepared pan, cut sides up (should look remotely like the picture above).  

Let rise until double.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool on a rack for 20 minutes.  Top with glaze and nuts if desired.  We let ours cook a little long and the edges ended up crispy, so I'd recommend checking after about 20 minutes for desired level of done-ness

12 servings at approximately 300 calories each.

We served this for breakfast with sliced fruit and coffee the morning my parents returned home after visiting for a month.  It was a nice send-off and I think we would have liked it a little better if we hadn't cooked it quite as long as recommended.

I hope you enjoy it too!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Healthy Habits in 2012 - Attainable Goals

I haven't had a Healthy Habits post in a while.

Not that there hasn't been anything to write about. I just don't quite know what to pick!

My current thing is having attainable goals - goals aren't worthwhile if they aren't attainable, right?  And I'm going to be teaching some of my Jazzercise classes in a room with a mirror behind me, so getting my rear end particularly toned is something I'd like to do.

So my attainable goal for right now?  Making sure that I do glut routines that challenge me - really challenge me. As in I-have-sore-walking-the-next-day challenge me. 

Fortunately, we have several routines that fall into that category for me to choose from. So I make sure that I do them 5 days a week - even on the days I don't go to class or teach.  If I go to class as a student and the glut routine doesn't challenge me enough, I come home and do one then too.  My own students are groaning when the glut routines come on right now, but I just tell them, "If your legs and back end want to yell at me tomorrow, I'm perfectly okay with that!" *Wicked Grin*

I'm still working on figuring out this whole snacking thing and I think I've finally got at least part of it figured out, so I think I'll write about that one next time.

But in any case, my glut work is my attainable goal for the moment.

What's yours?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 2, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan
We haven't had any more eggplant in our CSA box this year but I keep thinking about how well the Eggplant Parmesan turned out and wishing we did!  We have lots of other goodies so we can't complain and I'm enjoying our CSA.  This week is was more patty pan squash, zucchini, a watermelon, carrots, purple beans, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, rosemary, and green peppers.  Yummy!  I cut and froze a lot of the peppers and my son has been truly enjoying the tomatoes!  We now have lots of green and purple beans in the freezer for this winter and I think I might do a batch or two of carrots this week - we'll see how much time I can scare up.

I did a bunch of "Freezer Cooking" this last week - spiced pancakes, waffles, sliced zucchini bread for breakfasts and stir fry packets and some crock pot meals for dinners. I also made a large batch of oatmeal cookies and popped popcorn to have for snacks and put together some baking mix packets (oatmeal muffins, cornbread, biscuits, and oatmeal cookies) for quick baking later.  These have been such a great help in the past and I'm always so grateful to be able to just pull something out and go. With our earlier mornings, having some breakfast things ready to go should be such a help. Pop the spiced pancakes or the waffles in the toaster and go! Then they, along with the zucchini bread, can be eaten in the car if necessary (though I hate doing that).

We decided to assign themes to each night, to make deciding on dinner a little easier in this busy season that we have right now.  I'll list the "theme" by the date for each night - here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, September 2: Soup Night
  Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
  Lunch: Ham Sandwiches and Fruit
  Snack: Crackers and Cheese, or Yogurt
  Dinner: Vegetable Barley Soup, Homemade French Bread, Apple Slices

Monday, September 3, Labor Day: Seafood Night
   Breakfast: French Toast with Strawberries
   Lunch: Grilled Salmon and Patty Pan Squash, French Bread, Grapes (seafood for lunch instead of dinner at the children's request!)
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Salad with Chicken and Mandarin Oranges

Tuesday, September 4: "Beef" Night
   Breakfast: Yogurt with Granola
   Lunch: PB&J, Applesauce, Cut Veggies, Oatmeal Cookie
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Soft Shell Tacos, Watermelon

Wednesday, September 5: Crock Pot Night
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almonds and Craisins
   Lunch: PB Crackers, Cut Veggies, Applesauce, Yogurt
   Snack: Yogurt with Granola
   Dinner: Honey Rosemary Chicken, Couscous, Tossed Salad, Sliced Pears

Thursday, September 6: Sandwich Night
   Breakfast: Spiced Pancakes with Bananas
   Lunch: Hot for Kids, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack; Yogurt with Granola
   Dinner: Turkey Sandwiches, Cut Veggies, Watermelon

Friday, September 7: Vegetarian Night
   Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal with Craisins
   Lunch: Hot for Kids, Leftovers for Adults
   Snack: Yogurt with Granola
   Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese and Watermelon for Kids; Date Night Picnic: Pasta Salad with Turkey and Cheese, Watermelon, Oatmeal Cookies for Adults
   Desert: At the Coffee Shop with a Gift Card

Saturday, September 8: Pizza Night
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Bananas
   Lunch: Salad with Tuna
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Tossed Salad,Pear Slices

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

Goals Update - Week of September 2, 2012

Just some of the produce that we got from our CSA earlier this summer - herbs, zucchini, green onions,  beans, beets, kohlrabi. And a very dark picture from my iPod! :)

Another week come and gone. I officially start school - both for work and my PhD program - and John is the only one in our house not in school this week!  We're gearing up for kickoff for Church - both the congregation that we are members of and for the congregation that John works at.  Busy time of year right now!   We had a parade and a promo event for Jazzercise and we had a great turn out for both (Whoo hoo!) and we're so excited about the upcoming fall programming we have!  The first week that classes start is always hectic and we're on a completely different schedule than we have been the last two years, so we're in an a place of adjustment this week yet again.  I'm glad we can add things in layers rather than all in one fell swoop!  I'm also cutting back on some of the goals that I'm having since most of my "free" time is going to be spent on school or work related stuff until this dissertation is done!

But first, how did I do last week?

Work:
* Make black boxes for first day of class
* Finalize equipment details for one class
*
Double check everything for the first day of class.

School:
* Meet with the statistician Postponed until next week due to some things coming up. I'm going to review this on my own though.
* Continue cleaning out my desk and bookshelf - I'm taking 15 minutes each day I'm at my school office to clean out unneeded papers and I move 1-2 books over to my work office each time I go. Makes this easy!

Jazzercise:
* Promo event
* Teach 1 class, attend 3 others

* Finalize microphone details fore new classes (they have their own system)
* Learn 2 new routines
* Put together 1 new set


Family:
* Home with the children Monday and Friday - play games, movie with popcorn at home, and other fun stuff  Our Monday wasn't fun due to some what turned out to be not so major car troubles that took about six times longer than they should have to fix.  But Friday was super fun!
* First day of school on Tuesday! (3 day week this week)
* At home date with John

* Family Night: Continue with Attentiveness and watch "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe."
* Put together sewing lesson for Missy This is mostly done, I need to finalize a couple of things though
* Nightly homework routine with the children (they won't have much homework yet, but we want to get into the routine of it)
* Return/Renew Library books to both the church library and the public library

Home:
* Yard work from last week
* Finish tidying up sewing area
* 2 birthday presents finished (sewing)
* Continue blanching veggies
* Wash kitchen cabinets
* Have piano tuned (Friday afternoon)


Faith/Ministry/Church:
* Continue Memorizing the Sermon on the Mount
* Update note card memory verse system
* Continue to pray about the parament situation at church


Personal:
* Get hair cut
* Polish my shoes

* Organize the top of my dresser
* Breakfast with my best friend Postponed. My friend has been fighting very severe allergies and ended up in the hospital for a couple days this week, so we decided to hold off until the rag weed count is a lot lower.

This week's Goals:

Work:
* First week paperwork (drop/adds, update class lists, copies, forms, etc.)
* Grading from this week
* Get web pages up and online before first day of class

School:
* Review statistics with a classmate who did much better in statistics than I did (will meet with the statistician later)
* Meet with my advisor
* Continue cleaning out my desk and filing cabinet

Jazzercise:
* Teach 2 classes, attend 2 classes
* Learn 3 new routines
* Put together 2 new sets
* Update paperwork

Family:
* Family Night: Continue with Attentiveness
* Date night out with John (free childcare at church - we're taking a picnic to a park and stopping for coffee afterward with a gift card)
*  Sew patches on Buddy's scout uniform

Home:
* Continue blanching vegetables
* Continue weeding back yard flower and vegetable beds
* Install at least one roll of edging for the back flower beds
* 30 minutes of sewing/mending

Faith/Ministry/Church:
* Continue memorizing the Sermon on the Mount
* Make a decision about the paraments for church
* Prepare for Rally Sunday
* Email our Compassion Child (I totally keep forgetting to do this - that child will think we've forgotten about her!  I have her photo on my desk at work with my children's photos. You'd think I'd remember!)

Personal:
* Get to bed on time at least 4 nights this week
* Take 30 minutes to do embroidery one night this week (treat to myself!)

What are you hoping to do this week?  Check out Money Saving Mom!