Sunday, December 31, 2017

On the Eve of 2018

Everyone says it.  This year sure has gone by quickly!  Amazingly so!  2017 has been a struggle at times and full of blessings at others.  Thankfully we are ending on a good note.  My "babies" are all home and well.  We are enjoying our Christmas break.  What more can a mom want?  Well, she could want all her children seeking after the one true God, my most fervent prayer of 2017.  I am hopeful this prayer will be answered one day.  Until then, I am content knowing that nothing is impossible with God. 

As for me, I am getting ready to embrace another winter.  This one seems determined to be cold and snowy.  Yippee.  (Insert eye roll here.)  Tax season will soon be here and we will try our best to make the most of our limited family time until April 15th.  Winter makes things harder.  We always have to find ways to thrive and not just survive.  I will fight my desire to hibernate. Oh! how I wish it was possible! 

Next week is our last week of break.  It's time to think about a plan to thrive through winter.  Celebrating minor holidays always makes me happy.  Reading books is a must.  Tending my indoor garden will bring green to our frosty world.  I want to bake bread.  I plan to ride my new stationary bike.  I want to be outside more.  I want to do puzzles when the weather is dreary.  I can always spend time purging as well. 

Here we come 2018!  Be kind.  :)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Summer Lessons

With the passing of a season hopefully comes a time of reflection. This is my imperfect look back at some of the lessons that I learned this past summer. Big things happened this past summer.  We moved.  Our oldest moved out.  Fun things happened.  We rediscovered the joy of living near our tribe.  We learned that our entertainment needs are changing. We rediscovered the joy of movement.  We spent time as a church focused on worship. 

This move, our 10th or 11th in 23 years, was mostly uneventful.  Our house sold in days.  Closing was quick, without issues.  We were blessed to have funds to hire movers for the heavy lifting.  Once you have moved as many times as we have, you get good at it!  The hardest part was mostly related to the fact that we moved our son to his college at the same time which I will address next.  Since moving back to be near our church, work, family, and friends, our overall happiness has increased a great deal.  The lesson here is do not move away from the most important things in life, even for a good job! Also, I am wary of moving.  This was not what I had planned for my life, always moving. Yet, we will move again when we find the right house. 

Moving our firstborn son to his college was harder than I had expected.  I mean it really threw me!  We were not on the best of terms and I was frightened that he'd make good on his promise to never speak to me again.  That first week or two I felt as if my heart was broken beyond repair.  The loss of daily contact was so difficult.  I missed him, missed hearing about his days, knowing he was OK.  I really think I dipped into a short depression.  I am thankful for friends who prayed for and listened to me.  Not knowing what else to do, I kept treating my son as if he was the loving son I so wanted.  I sent him a couple care packages.  I did not text him but once a week to say hello, to which I usually got no response.  Then a few weeks ago he suddenly wanted to come for a visit!  His visit, while stressful for me, seemed to go well.  He came for another visit unscheduled!  We got to hear all about his new world.  He was happy!  Since then he has texted back when I text him, which is such a joy.  He has not kept his angry promise of never talking to me again.  I am so thankful!  He is coming home this Friday for 10 days.  I had imagined him staying on campus, not wanting to be here, it was a choice he could make.  Lesson learned?  Take these life challenges to the LORD way ahead of time and hold fast to Him.  He will provide comfort and peace!  (Update:  Wow!  The Lord heard my prayers and then some!  Our son was home and it was a good visit, very peaceful  AND best of all, he hugged me when we took him back to school.  Three weeks until winter break with fly by.)

One fun thing that we rediscovered when we moved was that we don't need cable.  We really knew that already, but I guess we just needed a reminder.   We had planned to migrate our cable package with us when we moved, but as it turns out, it was not available here, so we were all of a sudden free!  We ended up buying an antenna.  We already had a Roku.  We tried Sling for a while but figured out that once baseball season was over we really didn't watch it enough to keep it.  We subscribed to our PBS station and unlocked a bunch of good shows like A Chef's Life and The Great Brittish Baking Show.  We also have a Netflix and Hulu trial to see which one we want to keep. Both have their good and bad points.

Both my husband and I started to feel sick and tired of being sick and tired, so we have been trying to be more mindful of our eating and moving.  I guess we learned the value of self-care this summer.  We have a long way to go, but at least we have regained our motivation. We get up at 5:30 each weekday and do a head to toe stretching program.  In addition, we are making an effort to walk, play, and ride bikes several times a week.  We enjoyed a family round of disc golf over Thanksgiving at a nearby park.  Living by so many parks and trails is awesome!! 

Finally, our church spent three weeks recently focused on worship.  While I am not finished digesting this series, it has rekindled in me a desire to prepare my heart better for worship before Sunday morning rolls around.  Worship is a gift! 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Late Fall Menu Planning

When I sit down each week to menu plan, I like to look back over the past few weeks to visualize what we have had previously and strive for some diversity.  I tend to repeat favorites on a regular basis, although those favorites change over time.  Below is a look at my menus from October.  Note we had 2 birthdays, an anniversary and we were on vacation one week! We ate out a ton more than usual. During the warm weather season, we grill once a week.  Now it is time to start making soup once a week, if not more. We will also have baked potatoes more often. 

Sn 10/1  Grilled brats, chicken, or hamburgers (making extra for tomorrow's lunch and dinner)
M  10/2  Grilled chicken salad (used leftover grilled chicken)
T   10/3  Roasted chicken (chicken was on sale!) with potatoes, onions, carrots
W  10/4 Tacos
TH 10/5 Make your own flatbread pizzas, spinach salad
F  10/6   Chicken Tetrazinni, with zucchini noodles
S  10/7 Out with family

Sn  10/8  Out for our 23rd anniversary
M  10/9 Chicken enchilada casserole, salad
T  10/10 Italian Beef, salad, rolls 
W 10/11 Meatloaf, sweet potatoes, broccoli
TH  10/12 Baked Cod, Brussel sprouts, brown rice
F  10/13 Out for pizza with visiting family
S  10/14 Chicken Alfredo pasta, spinach salad

Sn  10/15 Out with family 
M 10/16 Chili with all the trimmings, salad
T 10/17 Grilled steak on big salads
W 10/18 Fish Tacos
TH 10/19 Out for my birthday
F  10/20 Pork tenderloin, roasted vegetables
S 10/21 Leftovers

Sn 10/22 Chicken and noodles, corn, green beans, biscuits
M 10/23 Oven fried chicken, homemade macaroni and cheese, broccoli
T 10/24 Lemonthyme chicken thighs, fried okra, cornbread
W 10/25 Beef roast, carrots, brown rice
TH 10/26 Roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberries
F  10/27 Leftovers
S 10/28  Chili and all the trimmings (freeze leftovers), salad

Sn 10/29  Pizza for Trevor's birthday party
M 10/30  Tuna cakes, cauliflower with cheese 
T 10/31 Turkey and rice soup (from homemade stock)
W  11/1 Italian Slow Cooker Chicken, "smashed" potatoes, green beans
TH 11/2  Naan bread pizza
F 11/3 Zuppa Toscana, winter salad
S 11/4 Cheeseburgers, salad

Sn 11/5 Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
M 11/6 Baked Potato bar with leftover chili, salad
T  11/7 Meatloaf, sweet potatoes, salad

Other Cool Weather Favorites:
Chicken Pot Pie
Cheeseburger Soup
Burrito Bowls

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October Highlights

October is the best time of the year! My family celebrates an anniversary and two birthdays.  We take a fall break vacation up at Lake Michigan.   The weather is less humid but still warm.  It's just a fun month. 

This year, Jeff and I celebrated 23 years of marriage on the 8th.  We had a lovely meal at a favorite restaurant while our young ones were at youth group. 

The biggest stressor of October seemed to be a few of us going through various infections of which we are now all healed, thankfully.  Taking the PSAT on the 11th was also a bit of a stressor for the students at home.  Not only did they have to go the local public high school, but they had to be there at 8AM.  I was so proud of them. 

Grace had an NHS service day!   When you go to an online school, meeting in person at a nursing home is exciting.  They enjoyed interacting with the residents and fellow students. 

Jeff worked like crazy to meet the increased workload associated with the tax deadline the first half of the month. 

Then we got away for a few days around my birthday to my happy spot, Lake Michigan. 

Quickly we got home on Friday and then went to homecoming at our oldest's college to hear his marching band. 

And then the next day, we had a birthday party for me, a big birthday! My precious mom made this coconut cream pie for me. 

And finally, we celebrated another wonderful birthday this past Sunday. 

How can he be 16? 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Life These Days

Wow, it is hot!  We have had a string of 6 days over 90 degrees F which is very unusual for our part of the world.  We have also been in a drought.  Our world is brown, yellow and fading green.

Otherwise, things have been in a good routine with our schooling.  The kids are excelling in their online school.  Grace is active in the National Honor Society with weekly peer tutoring and a new mentorship program starting up.  Both Trevor and Grace love their youth group.  In fact, Trevor is going with some friends from church to watch another friend's soccer game and have dinner tonight. Grace and I are starting to explore colleges.  It is an exciting time to be her! It is an exciting time to be them.

As for me, I have been taking meals to others in need.  I have found that a good roasted chicken makes a nice meal for a new baby's family or someone who has been ill.  Plus, it covers a lot of the different restrictions on grains, eggs, dairy, and whathaveyou.  This last week I took a meal to someone who has an egg, gluten, dairy, soy, red meat free diet.  Challenge accepted!  I took her a roasted chicken with honey/cilantro glazed roasted carrots, mashed potatoes (vegan butter) and a cut up cantaloupe.

We have all decided we need to be more active physically, so we have returned to riding our bikes. It has been too hot to walk, but I feel that we will be back to walking when things cool off.  Jeff is back to playing disc golf.  I will join him, again when it cools off.  And we plan to bowl at least once a month.  Bowling can be expensive though.  

Grace and I have been enjoying being a part of the Kindness Rocks Project.  We are painting rocks, hiding them for people to find and be encouraged.  Have you found any rocks in your area?

Well, that is us in a nutshell.  We are blessed.  We are trying to bless others.  What more can one hope for?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dearest Lake Michigan

Jeff and I got away for a quick overnight trip up to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This was our only trip this summer.  It was like a dream.  I am looking forward to our next trip during fall break.

Monday, August 28, 2017

There is Beauty All Around Us

Just another lovely stroll around one of my favorite city parks not far from my home.  I am so thankful to be back here, back home!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

University Drop-off

Part of my heart now lives 99 miles away.  It might as well be 9900 miles as my son has no use for me at the moment.  The last almost two years he has chosen to walk a different path, one that will lead to destruction if he is not saved by the grace of Jesus.  My inability to reach him has been one of the most difficult and sad times of my life.  And now he is away and there is nothing to do but pray for a miracle.

Leaving your child at university is a hard enough adjustment to make on top of this stressed relationship.  I feel as if I have failed at times and then I receive encouragement from others around me who know the details.  I am thankful for these precious ones the Lord has sent as a healing balm to me.

So far my son is making good on his promise not to talk to me.  Thankfully he will talk to his father and grandparents.  I am alone in my exile! (No, not alone.)  I would so love to hear how things are going and how he is adjusting to having a roommate.  I have sent him a care package filled with things he likes hoping he will be comforted far from his family who loves him.  (Isn't Pinterest just filled with fun ideas for care packages?)

This season of a mother's heart is a complex time for me.  Yet I know that I am going to be OK.  I am reminded that I am blessed to have two Christ loving children at home. I am grieving the loss of my firstborn, but I am not without hope as long as there is today, there is hope for his salvation.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Blooms at the Fair

One of my favorite places to linger at our state fair is the master gardener's exhibit.  It gets more elaborate each year.  So many people labor over this garden.  It is a work of art.  It's an excellent place to have fun with my camera.