Sunday, March 31, 2013

Meal Plan

M: waffles and apple butter (B), tacos (D)
T: make-ahead muffin melts (B), pulled pork (D)
W: cereal (B), beef stew (D)
T: PBJ muffins (B), spaghetti (D)
F: pumpkin baked oatmeal (B), fish (D)
S: Nutella muffins (B), pizza night (D)

I realize I could just always pull recipes out of the cookbooks I have on the shelves but I have to say that our meal plans would be so much more boring without the creativity I find on-line.  Hopefully the above links will help you find something new to inspire your meal planning.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Egg Decorating

We've all been on and off sick this week.  Alan even gave in and stayed home from work. We've both been puked on so many times this week that I think we've lost count.  A few kids are still sick and a few kids have been generous enough so share their germs with their parents.  I think Alan is mostly  better by now but I seem to be lagging on that end. The point being that we have done pretty much nothing this week other than lay around.  I kind of doubt I'll be in shape to even go to Mass this weekend which is a shame but I'm sure everyone else would like it if I kept my germs to myself.

But this morning Alan did manage to get some eggs dyed with the kids.  I was a bit surprised when he told me they only did 3 dozen because I really thought the kids would want to do more than that.  Only 4 eggs per kid seems a bit on the small side but then again once you start doing the math you realize that too many more per kid would just simply be too many.  But they seem to have had a good time and Alan is planning to turn a decent amount of them into these Make-Ahead Muffin Melts.  I'm fairly certain he is just sort of looking forward to it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just Perfect for Holy Week

I heard this song today in the car on my way to an appointment. And I couldn't help thinking that it was the perfect song for Holy Week.  Just listen to the words a bit. Don't try to over analyze, just listen.

Homeschool Expo

Last weekend we attended the homeschool expo for the year or what my kids keep calling the "science fair."  You see, our homeschooling group in Florida would host a science fair every year so when we moved here the older children kept calling it that so now even the kids who were born here or were much too young to remember much of anything about living in Florida call it the science fair.  In truth it is much more than that.  The kids in the group put together projects on anything they are interested in.  There are usually art projects, musical performances, science projects, history related projects, dancing, craft projects, and just anything someone wants to share.
The year Gabe worked on learning about the planets and sang a planet song, Abby had a project about her American Girl stuff, Katie and Liam put together a karate demonstration, Kieran did a fencing demonstration, Sean made a potato cannon, and Bryan did a project on the history of Boy Scouts.  The younger two ate pizza and looked cute.  Sadly most of my pictures turned out less than clear. Sigh.  But everyone had a great time and I'm sure is already thinking of things to put together for next year.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Maple Syrup Festival

The past two weekends have found Bryan volunteering at GCVM for the Maple Syrup Festival.  Yesterday we took the rest of the crew out to see it as well. It's one of those events that you can either spend tons of time taking in or be in and out very quickly.  One of those things I like to try to do with the kids every year when possible or at least with a few of the kids every year.  That way I get to see how the kids are remembering and learning. The questions they were asking this year pretty clearly showed they were ready to hear more than just the basic information.  And knowing that we can always come back again next year means I don't feel guilty leaving when the younger kids are clearly worn out.
Bryan's costume

Drilling a hole for the tap.

He had to taste the sap coming out of the tree.

Working in the sugar shack.

We also learned about traditional ways of using chocolate.

And watched a lady making candles.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Robert

The littlest boy in the house turned 4 yesterday. These kids really need to stop growing up on me. Just for a little while. I'm really not ready for it. He helped his biggest brother make his cake this year and seems to have had a great time. He says he was born "in the March for Life" and won't listen when we try to correct him so I guess we should just enjoy the little oddities while they last.  He also says he doesn't know his numbers but he does know his planets.  apparently we have priorities around here.

Happy birthday Mr. Robert!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Livin' on Love

The songs I most remember hearing at home growing up were country songs.  And they are also the ones that often speak to most even now.  Ok, not so much some of the new ones.  But that could be said of so many things. Yes, I happily succeeded in getting a bunch of girls from Long Island hooked on Garth Brooks my first year of college.  I had to keep up their preconceived image of what someone from Kansas would be like.  Never mind that I don't actually consider myself to be from Kansas and never did, even then.  It is truly scary that I have now spent more of my life living in New York state than anywhere else which truly means it just may be time to start consider moving.  I just refuse to become a New Yorker. Sorry.  Besides, that slight southern twang Alan claims I have mixed in with the upstate New York accent will never truly work around here.  Yes, I am rambling. Tend to do that a lot in case you have not yet figured it out.  Anyway, today I was searching for a different song but instead I'm sharing this one.  It's always made me smile and seems somehow full of hope.

Baby Chicks

Monday, March 18, 2013

Baby Chick Season

There are currently 26 or so baby chicks in my living room.  They are noisy because they have not yet settled in.  Noisy chicks are unhappy chicks.  Unhappy chicks also tend to lead to an unhappy dog who just can't quite figure out what she is supposed to do.  I'm hoping they settle in soon and that it warms up quickly so we can actually move them outside.  Yes, I know, pictures are needed.  Maybe I'll add some tonight.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meal Plan

I'm going to try to stick with a two week meal plan for a while. I'm hoping I can get back into sticking with the plans a bit better than we have been doing lately and work on keeping the food expenses down a little bit for the next few months.  We'll be working on eating out of the freezer for the next few weeks so that we can make room for our pork and beef order. Both should be arriving in a few weeks. We should then be able to avoid buying any beef for a year and the pork should last at least 6 months, hopefully more if we stretch it. Buying direct from the farmer means we are supporting a local farm and getting organic grass-fed meat for the same price or cheaper than buying conventionally raised meat from the grocery store.  Basically a win-win for everyone.

M: oatmeal (B), soup (L), cheesesteak sandwiches (D)
T: eggs (B), sandwiches (L), hot dogs/bratwurst (D)
W: cereal (B), leftovers (L), chili and cornbread (D)
T: Robert's birthday so his choice
F: oatmeal (B), grilled cheese (L), pot luck dinner-we're bringing broccoli and cheese stuffed potatoes (D)
S: cereal (B), pizza at the homeschool expo (L), tacos (D)
S: muffins (B), leftovers (L), chicken and stuffing (D)
M: oatmeal (B), sandwiches (L), pork chops (D)
T: eggs (B), macaroni and cheese (L), fajitas (D)
W: cereal (B), soup (L), chicken satay (D)
T: muffins (B), leftovers (L), spaghetti (D)
F: oatmeal (B), tuna sandwiches (L), potato soup (D)
S: pancakes (B), cream cheese chicken over rice (D)
S: breakfast casserole (B), snacks/leftovers (L), ham (D)

I'm also planning to start getting back on track and going back to making most of our bread and such again. I think I've taken a long enough break and it is time to get back to what we need to do to keep our budget in check and avoid extra trips to the store. So wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

White Smoke Ponderings

I'm sitting here with my kids watching EWTN (yes, you can get EWTN for free on the ROKU box so even without cable you can watch it on tv) and I'm thinking about how amazing it is to see things from the perspective of children.  And it makes me realize since I first heard Katie yell "White smoke, we have a Pope!" that my generation was robbed big time.  In an effort to give us an all inclusive God loves you feel good la-la land version of truth, we were robbed of our faith.  I look around me often at siblings, friends, and those in my peer group who have left the Church and I mourn for them and for us.  We were robbed of our faith and never even given a chance to learn about what it is we were missing in the first place.  Well meaning parents packed their kids off to CCD once a week believing the false notion that their kids would be taught something real.  I've taught from those watered down materials. They are oh so lacking and almost pathetic and sometimes barely even Catholic.  It breaks my heart to realize the huge numbers of folks who left our Holy Mother Church without ever learning what it is they were turning their backs on to begin with.   I have often felt immensely blessed that I was given an innate knowledge of many of the teachings of the Church that were not only never taught to me by an earthly person, but many times openly contradicted and taught against.  Yes, it made for some interesting conversations when I would attempt to argue from what I felt God was telling me and the adults around me would basically use the argument that I was just too young to know anything so I was wrong. Imagine my surprise as I got older and realized that I was right to begin with.  Sigh. I'm sure that many other people received the same gift.

And yet, on a more positive note my heart is thrilled with the absolute youth and vibrancy you see in the Church today.  It gives me hope for the future.  The next few years will be very hard with so many in our older generations needing the ministry of priests and with so few around to serve them but I have hope that in 20 years we will see a huge surge in priestly vocations.

And now to go back to watching/hearing the news with my children.  Habemus Papam.  May God grant you a long life and the wisdom necessary to fulfill the duties laying ahead of you, whomever you may be.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Old AFN Commercials

Just had to share this one. Because only on AFN would it be considered ok to air promo spots about avoiding sexist behavior towards women while also airing commercials that are just slightly sexist.

Missing my Little One

Ok, it's been one of those days.  The kind that make me want to climb back in bed and stay there. Nope, not because of the kids or anything. But because of the huge gaping hole in my heart right now.  Yes, I've been told it will get better and all such things.  But some days none of that matters and you just can't see past what you are feeling right now. So what do I do? Well, I tell Alan I'm having a bad day and tell him to bring home a hug. And chocolate.  And maybe dinner for the two of us. Just maybe.  And then I search for something, anything to read to help me. And I find this.  And maybe it will help someone else. And I sit and I watch Ellie playing with her dolls, singing to them and rocking them back and forth and I think that she would be an awesome big sister.  And I listen to Abby tell me about how she is 4 kids older than Isabel so she'd be allowed to carry her and I try to just smile and not cry a million tears over the memory of having to tell her that her little sister was not coming home. And just keep hanging on and hoping for a slightly happier tomorrow.

One of Those Days

It's been one of those days.  The kind of day where things start out great but somewhere along the lines something popped up and reminded me of exactly what I'm missing right now and everything kind of went downhill from there.  Which has led me on a funny little trail of tracking down youtube videos and such things from our years in Germany.  Still can't find the super awesome AFN commercials which would explain oh so much to folks who did not grow up seeing them.  "Don't shop where you're hungry" and "Here's the scoop on coupons" will never, ever be removed from the deep inner recesses of my brain.  Nope, never.  Along with their catchy annoying tones and the sight of the wonderful graphics.  And we will never forget Gasthaus which I'm pretty sure was everyone's cue to get up for a 10 minute break because it was just too odd to watch most days.  Found the promo video made in an attempt to keep the base open.  What do I pick up on in it?  Wow, my Dad looks young.  Wow, my FIL looks young.  Hey, that's where we kissed the first time.  Man, those playgrounds really were awesome.   Um, our dog has the same name as our church did then (Wiley Chapel). What does my husband pick up on? Hey, look at how ancient those computers are!  I'm thinking just maybe my husband is not quite as romantic as he likes to think he is.

And I start thinking about the 4 years we spent dating through the mail.  Ok, that last year we used email while at college but it was almost all through the mail with at first phone calls every other week. After a while our parents realized this cute little connection we had just was not going to go away no matter how much they kept telling themselves (and us) that surely being apart at this young age was proof that it just wasn't worth hanging onto and so the phone calls became a weekly thing.  But you'd better believe the clock was watched so very closely and after an hour there would be looks indicating we'd better get off the phone (back in the age when long distance calls actually cost something and 10 cents a minute actually added up to a slightly significant amount of money). So what has come of all that? I mean other than 10 kids, 16 years of marriage, and a crap ton of assorted junk in this house that we really need to let go of? Well, Alan and I still seem to communicate best in written form.  And I know we have both learned new things about each other by reading the other person's blog (crazy, crazy thought that is right there). I will admit part of it is a defense mechanism to keep our nosey children from listening in on our conversations (thank you so much Paula for letting us know that Bryan was doing that every single night) so we still will often sit in the same house and have a conversation over the computer.  Seems it's just easier that way.

Anyway, it's been an interesting walk down memory lane today.  Hopefully I'll be in a better mood tomorrow.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Will the Real Family Please Step Forward

Here is a common question people pose every so often after reading other folks blogs: how do they keep everything so perfect in their lives? And the answer is they don't. It's super easy to make your life appear perfect from behind a computer screen.  Pictures can be cropped to leave out the mess or posed or fixed up with editing software (not like I've ever done that or anything). Kids can be quickly cleaned up and bribed to look happy. And stories are easily edited to provide what people want to hear or to provide for some privacy for your family.

Let's be honest here. Most folks don't want to read a blog that actually shares the truth.  They don't want to see the nitty gritty reality of daily life. They don't want to see the pain or hard times that make a family real. They want to see the fun stuff, the glamour, the 20 minute sitcom version that happily wraps up with everyone sitting around the table laughing.  It makes you feel that somehow you can achieve that same thing for your family.  Or helps you gloss over the not so fun stuff in your life and focus on the good.

Reality is that when you make an attempt to share who you really are and what is really going on, folks get uncomfortable. They get upset. They get angry.  If you take away that vision, it rather upsets them.  It's opening the door and giving too much of the truth. And yet only sharing what people like to see or hear is frankly boring.  And often feels to me like lying.  But it's what people want. They don't want to feel reality or the pain in someone else's world because they likely have too much of it in their own life.

I have often wondered if we are hurting each other more by hiding the real versions of ourselves.  When you hit those hard times, isn't it easier to deal with if you can find someone else who has been there and done that? If you can find someone else who has traveled the same road and survived? So you can feel and see that you truly aren't alone? If we hide everything we are really going through, don't we lose out on a chance to minister to others who can learn from what we've already experienced? Don't we lose a chance to help other people? To help them feel less alone and less like they are doing something wrong?

So, hm, we can admit that we are all totally broken and somehow surviving and be of help to one another.  Or we can pretend that life is all puppy dogs and rainbows and just keep smiling because we don't want to risk ever upsetting anyone. I know which route is the healthier one emotionally speaking but it's not the polite one apparently. So just remember when you see the pictures that I bet just around the corner is the pile of toys and clutter that got shoved out of the way, there is a child crying in another room because a sibling just threw something at them, dinner is either coming out of a box tonight or is an abandoned burned mess on the stove because a teenager got distracted, the laundry is a week behind schedule, the floors likely haven't been mopped in months, the vacuum is broken so you don't really want to see what rugs look like other than that clean spot where the toddler spilled a box of cereal and the dog cleaned it up, there just might be a bill or two sitting on the counter that someone is trying to figure out how to pay, at least one kid just outgrew all of their clothes and ripped a hole in their shoes, a bedroom door is broken because two kids got into a fight when one went into the other's bedroom without permission, and instead of cleaning it up at the end of the night the parents just sat down and looked at each other questioning where the heck they went wrong because no one ever told them life was going to be like this.

Yes, we are all broken and falling apart and hiding something.  And I can't help but think that if we all quit trying to hide so much from each other and putting on the air of perfection that maybe, just maybe life would get a lot easier for everyone.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Meal Plan

M: oatmeal (B), quesadillas (L), lasagne and salad for the kids, date night for the parents (D)
T: crockpot breakfast casserole (B), tuna macaroni salad (L), curry chicken and rice (D)
W: cereal (B), PBJ (L), meatloaf and potatoes (D)
T: eggs and biscuits (B), leftovers (L), salisbury meatballs over egg noodles (D)
F: oatmeal (B), tuna sandwiches (L), soup: either potato or spinach tortellini (D)
S: Dad's choice (B), leftovers/sandwiches (L), pizza/movie night (D)

Friday, March 8, 2013

CycleProGo-Fertility Charting

I've now had the chance to use three different computer based fertility charting programs.  Since I shared the previous experience with you, I wanted to share this one as well. But first I have to admit that I may be a bit biased in my opinion.  This particular program is put out by the folks at the Couple to Couple League.  Alan and I have been trained in the use of CCL's sympto-thermal based NFP for almost thirteen years.  We have been teaching the method for at least eleven years (I can't remember for sure, I only know that Sean was one when we went to one of the weekend training sessions).  We currently teach CCL classes several times a year and promote the benefits of this method through occasional talks at marriage prep programs a few times a year as well.  So, yes, I am more comfortable with the CCL methodology than I am with other forms of natural family planning or fertility awareness. However, this does not mean that I believe one system of NFP is superior than another or will work for each individual in the same way.  I have and will continue to refer folks to teachers of other methods when doing so is in the best interest of that individual because my goal is to support the overall health and well-being of each couple, not to promote one particular methodology.

CycleProGo is a mobile version of the CyclePro Fertility Charting Software that has been available from CCLI for several years.  As a teaching couple, Alan and I were given to opportunity to use the program before it has been made available to the general public so I guess you could say we are part of that group helping to work all the final kinks out of the system.

What do I love? It's available on Alan's iPod and my Kindle as well as our computers with just one account.  Everything updates at the same time so we can both see any changes entered in by the other person.  It's on the web so my little ones can't take a pen to a paper chart or run off with it on me.  No, that has never happened around here or anything.  The charts you see in the program are exactly like the ones you see in your book of charts so there is nothing new to adjust to.  The program allows you to make changes if you disagree with the chart interpretations and allows you to easily share your chart with your friends or teaching couple for those times when you need another set of eyes to help explain what you are seeing.  Very important to me is that fact that CycleProGo tells you what rules/system they are using to interpret your chart and even allows you to choose which rules to follow.  This is very important to me because only you as a couple know which rules are most appropriate for your unique circumstances.  When I have a serious reason to postpone a pregnancy, I am not comfortable relying on a system that does not share with me how it reaches its conclusions.

I will admit that the program allows you to enter so much information that it was at first a little hard to figure out exactly where everything should go.  It took me about a week to really figure out where everything was within the program.  This was just spending 5 or 10 minutes a day playing around with the program.  I am now much more comfortable with the lay-out of the system and no longer have that problem.  There are spaces to track ovulation tests, mucus observations, basal temperatures, fertility monitor results, medications, illness, weight, and other information. You can also enter information about your previous cycles so that the program is able to use your most up to date information originally recorded elsewhere.  But the program works even if you only enter a few pieces of information.

A big negative to me would be the price. At $5 a month or $35 a year, I must admit that I would not use this program if I did not have access to it for free as an instructor.  Our budget is tight and I just can't justify spending even $5 a month for something that I can do for free using pencil and paper or for free using one of the other free programs out there.  I realize that $5 does not seem like much but sometimes every penny counts and this is one of those items that would simply not make the cut for us because there are so many other options available.

Overall I have to give a positive review to this fertility tracking app.  It gives you just enough help while at the same time allowing you the freedom to make your own changes.  It makes it easy for a couple with a crazy schedule to share fertility information when they can't get together during the day to talk face to face. And will be available for use on all of your devices including windows, mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, and Kindle products.

For more information and the latest updates, go to CCLI's website or facebook page.

* Although I was given free access to the CycleProGo app, I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions are my own.

New, Awesome Young Adult Fiction

Yes, this is a total brag post.  Alan's been hard at work on a book endeavor for a while and it is now available for pre-orders.  This book is aimed at the young adult science fiction loving audience and is definitely in the realm of what our family would consider age appropriate (so no worries about occult type themes, sexual situations, unnecessary language).  Even better, it's available now at a reduced price so take a look (and just maybe order your copy today).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Building at Home Depot

The first Saturday of the month often finds me heading to Home Depot with somewhere between 2 and 6 kids to build a project.  For free.  For fun. To pass some time and to give Liam in particular a chance to work with real tools.

This month was the annual race car project and they even had a racetrack set up for the kids to race their cars on when they were done building.

I'm also glad that they had several extra kits from previous months for the kids who were into more girly projects and not really race car fans.  Katie decided to make a picture frame and Abby made a heart shaped basket.  The three boys, of course, all made race cars. Then they came home and built their own racetrack out of cardboard boxes and have been playing with it all week. A definite winner this month.

Yorktown Pictures

Another stop we made on our trip was a visit to the Yorktown Battlefield. It was a somewhat cold and windy day and for some reason half of our kids decided to leave their coats in the van. Don't ask. I don't understand.  So although we attempted to take the guided tour through the town, part way through we had to turn back so that we could fetch coats out of the van for the children.  We then did some exploring on our own.  The old battlefields often amaze me simply in terms of how much was accomplished using so little.  This one was no exception.

The obligatory picture of the kids gathered around a canon.  Don't know about your parents, but mine took quite a few pictures like this.

Gabe insisted on reading the map for us. Never mind that it was often upside down and that walking while map reading are a bit hard for a small child to manage simultaneously.

One of the man made redoubts.

Aboard one of the ships.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Tried and I Failed

But I'll try again tomorrow. Or next week really.

These past few months have been slightly life changing.  Let's call everything a big gigantic wake up call. I've been trying to focus on healing not only emotionally but physically as well. Meaning putting myself somewhat first for a bit.  So far I have managed to loose 30 pounds which means that all of those clothes Alan told me I would regret giving away because he swore I'd get back into them are kind of missed at the moment.  I have promised myself a trip to the thrift store after loosing another 10 pounds but nothing new will be purchased before then.

Today I decided would be day 1 of starting a couch to 5K program.  Which did not work out so well. I gave it a shot but only managed 2 of the 10 running intervals.  Oh my goodness, what on earth was I thinking on how on earth did I allow myself to get this pathetically out of shape? So I resorted to finishing just walking today and will focus on fast paced walking all week and start over next week.  The long term goal is overall improved health so one more week is not a big deal but I can still remember what it felt like to just go out and run 5 or 6 miles without thinking about it at one point so I'm rather annoyed with myself.

So part of truly getting healthy is dealing with the emotional and physical factors that led to being so unhealthy in the first place.  I have to be completely honest and admit that a huge, gigantic part of it was frankly moving here.  To say I really don't like living here is putting it mildly.  Living here has left me rather miserable and helped to push me over the edge into depression.  There are lots of factors that contributed to it and I'm trying to work against them all now but some are hard to deal with.  And before anyone suggests it, no, I am not a believer in anti-depressants for myself. Pretty much everyone I know who has gone on them has had major personality changes, massive withdrawal symptoms, and in many cases simply never get off them.  And a quote from someone about how they felt before taking such meds on a regular basis will always stick in my mind "I remember being happy BEFORE taking them."  So, no, I don't at all believe that is an appropriate course of action for me or for many, many people who are currently on them.

The first winter we moved here was very isolating. Very isolating.  It took most of that year for us to figure out exactly how much of the driveway truly needed to be cleared in order for the van to actually make it out.  I lost track of the number of times the van got stuck.  Add to that the roads immediately near the house that are not the first on the plow list and a vehicle that frankly does not do well in snow and I was rather housebound.  Not at all what I needed.  I also discovered that the culture here is somewhat cold emotionally.  Yes, I have met lots of wonderful nice people.  But in general (and this is an observation coming not only from myself but from several other people who have moved here), many folks in this area are so comfortable in their own circles that they just are not looking for anyone new to bring into the fold.  They've known the folks around them their entire life and simply have no need for new social contacts so although they aren't intending to keep you at arms length, they simply aren't open and welcoming either.  Then throw in the general thinking in this area that more than a 15-minute drive is a long distance trek, and it makes it even harder to get to know folks.  Part way through that first year, we also discovered that the very folks we'd been hoping would be close enough to help us out if we ever had an emergency all refused to provide us that help when we needed it.  Yup, that was a huge slap in the face and very frustrating.  Throw in over the past few years a deployment over the major holidays where we were totally alone and no one really bothered to check in on us or see how we were doing.  I know I had it very easy compared to most folks I know who have had deployed spouses but spending Christmas totally alone with just the kids, a dog who was throwing up, not even knowing at the time where Alan was didn't do much to help (no, he did not spend most of his time in Germany). I did attempt a few times over those months to reach out and ask for help from folks and was always told basically sorry but we are too busy to help or we live more than 15 minutes away so that's just too far to come.  Yes, two folks in particular stand out as being wonderful during those months but other than Alan's civilian boss arranging weekly meals for us and a couple guys who cleared the driveway when our snowblower died, I was rather alone the entire time.  And also dealing with an idiot doctor who threatened to call social services because she felt our children were too small and in her words "genetics plays no role in how a child grows" and the massive stress leading to supply issues with breastfeeding (thankfully dealt with by feeding breastmilk donated from an amazing friend for several months).  Well, let's just say that since moving here, I have had very little time to just focus on myself.  I know there are many folks who will say so what. Get over it. It was in the past so it no longer matters. But frankly I just don't work that way emotionally and I don't know many people who really do.  It's not just one thing. One thing you can push behind.  It was the constant barrage of crap being thrown at me and the feeling as if I was never going to be able to shovel my way out of it.

So now I am doing my best to shovel my way out of it.  Doing my best to focus on getting back to where I should be.  Hopefully it will all work out.  Hopefully. And hopefully next week I will start back into the 5K training and actually be able to do more than just 2 running intervals because I must admit I really do miss that feeling you get from actually getting out and running.

Monday, March 4, 2013

And God Laughs

At least this is what I'm thinking. Just when we are most struggling with the reality of NFP and all that it entails (because do the math folks, we don't have 10 kids because we are exactly strict followers of NFP and believe that we can decide on picture perfect spacing or anything), we suddenly get somewhat inundated with requests to do NFP related work.  Requests to teach classes to some awesome folks, precana sessions, folks just calling to beg for some help finding a light at the end of the tunnel and someone to say they understand, several fertility apps to use and review.  In some way, they all serve as constant reminders that He is always here to help us.  I just sort of wish I felt a bit more like I knew what I was really doing because some days I feel rather like we are the blind leading the blind.

Ever Feel This Way?

I have a feeling that someone needs to hear the words in this song right now.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meal Plan

I am hoping to spend the next few weeks working on getting the basement freezers cleaned out a bit to have room for a side of beef.  Yes, this will be a slightly expensive up front purchase but making sure the family has access to clean local meat is important to us.  And with the constant price increases on meat lately, buying local organic meat in bulk is often the same or slightly cheaper than buying smaller quantities of conventionally raised meat from the grocery store.  I am also going to be spending some time over the next few days baking bread and muffins with the recent batch of yogurt that did not set properly.  I think we will be taking a break from making yogurt until after the winter.  The kitchen seems to be way too cold recently to maintain the temps needed to incubate the yogurt properly.  Or I could try incubating the yogurt in front of the pellet stove over night which might work.  Not sure yet which way we'll go.

M: breakfast casserole (B), lawnmower tacos (D)
T: pancake sausage muffins (B), honey glazed chicken and scalloped potatoes (D)
W: baked oatmeal (B), pork chops (D)
T: eggs and toast (B), white chili (D)
F: pumpkin bread (B), bean and cheese enchiladas (D)
S: pancakes (B), pizza (D)

I had a slightly funny large family moment at the grocery store this past week.  After taking 6 dozen eggs out of the case at the grocery store, a manager thanked me for being such a good customer.  Which somewhat cracked me up.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Virginia Air and Space Museum

If you know my boys and my husband, you know that this was one museum we absolutely had to visit. Airplanes always rate rather high on the cool factor for kids to begin with.  Add in a Dad who can explain so much about them to you and you have extra fun.  (Yes, Alan is one of those folks who watches movies and points out the inaccuracies in the planes being used to you. Yes, it totally ruins the movie for you at times but what can I say?)

This museum was definitely worth the visit but I do wish we'd found our most recent RMSC membership card because then it would have been much cheaper.  But I made a point of not focusing on the cost of things this year which led to a much more relaxing trip. Who would've thought?
This was much harder than it looked but Katie was trying to mimic the signals needed to tell a plane to take off from a carrier.

Doesn't Gabe look awesome flying that jet?

The little kids mostly enjoyed the Clifford play area.  They spent lots of time delivering mail and driving the boat. Gabe told us all to watch our for sea monsters.  Granted, I have no clue what Clifford has to do with airplanes but was happy to have a place to entertain the younger ones while Alan took the older ones around to explore the stuff they were interested in more in depth.

It's a Good Day

Today is a good day. This is what I have decided.  The 5-year-old and 9-year-old have shoveled part of the driveway for me (I'm choosing to ignore the snow shovels I can see abandoned in the driveway from my window). The two-year-old is napping in my bed and the three-year-old is napping in his bed. The 13-year-old seems to be sick again and is napping as well but was a great help at the grocery store today doing all the work for me. I managed to say below our $150 grocery budget for the next two weeks and we have more than enough food to keep us happy.  Yes, the house is a mess but it means we have so much stuff that we don't know where to put it all and that means we are blessed. The insurance company just finally paid that last of the ambulance bills from November which means we can now breathe a sigh of relief of put the medical bills behind us. And, hey, they paid them after saying they wouldn't and I didn't even have to spend hours on the phone and get rude about it. One teenager got new shoes today and our recent vacation is already completely paid off.  Yes, I am happy right now.