Monday, January 31, 2011
Jess mentioned this book on her blog a while back and I thought it sounded interesting. I am most definitely anti-abortion, but am equally not anti-person-who-got-an-abortion. The vast majority of girls and women who choose to abort do so because they truly believe they have no other option or that an abortion is their best option. I think that would be a really hard place to be in and do not think less of someone who made that choice. So, while I was interested in this book, I was afraid it may be harsh toward women who have had abortions. It wasn't. Not in the least.
Nathanson, who is Jewish, weaves his story of being agnostic and then becoming a Christian into the story of his life in the medical field, specifically as a successful and respected abortionist. Truly the two, his spirtual journey and career, are so intertwined that he couldn't share the story one without including the other.
p. 130, The crux of the issue as defined by most pro-abortion theorists is whether the embryo, or later fetus, is to be considered a "person". It is crucial for them to move the debate onto that ground because there is simply no doubt that even the early embryo is a human being. All its genetic coding and all its features are indisputably human. As to being, there is no doubt that it exists, is alive, is self-directed, and is not the same being as the mother - and is therefore a unified whole.
Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both, by Laura Sessions Stepp
I can't remember where I heard about this book, but it was interesting. Not particularly shocking and often sad, but still interesting. Using the personal stories of young women who chose "hooking up" over traditional dating relationships, Stepp talks about the definition of hooking up, the motivation and expected benefits of it, the way that parents influence the lifestyle, and the consequences (physical, emotional, and in future relationships) of a culture that encourages & expects physical relationships without commitment.
p.195-196 Cleo summed up her parents' generosity this way: "We've have had everything handed to us."
Indeed, many in their generation have. They are spectacular specimens raised in glass houses that are temperature-controlled and as disease-free as humanly possible. / When young they are bathed in antibacterial soup and showered with educational toys. When they go to school and appear to be failing a course, their teacher may be asked to reevaluate his or her grading policy. If their mind wanders, they're taken to doctors who prescribe Adderall, and if they have trouble sitting still, Ritalin. Schools lay cushioned rubber on outdoor playgrounds so kids won't skin their knees when they fall and remove soda and snack machines because too many are getting obese. Principals cancel classes at the first threat of snow because they fear parents would sue if there was an accident on the way to school, and of course if the buses can't run, kids would - God forbid - have to find some other way to get to school.
Their opportunities for learning how to be responsible for their own wants are few. /
They are, in short, the heroines of their parents' lives before they ever get to college, and once in college, they have no reason to believe that will change. / They have learned little about taking risks, making tough choices, attending to others' needs or weathering disappointment on their own - in short, some of the tools they will need to forge strong, intimate bonds and forgo connections that are not good for them.
p.238 Girls and young women know they can dodge the pregnancy bullet by sticking to blow jobs, but an alarming number of them, especially high school girls, think that will protect them from infections as well.
The pregnancy rate among girls ages fifteen to nineteen has decreased by about one-third since 1990, a large proportion of that decrease among black girls. The abortion rate as dropped as well. But the incidence sexually transmitted disease (STD) remains stubbornly high - higher, in fact, in the United States that in any other developing country.
Although only slightly more than one in ten women report having an STD, almost nineteen million new cases, including HIV cases, are reported each year. And although fifteen to twenty-four-year-olds represent only one-quarter of sexually active Americans, they make up nearly half of these new cases.
p.241 So there the young woman is, avoiding real relationships because they consume time, energy and emotions, and discovering to her surprise that hookups take just as much. Doubt becomes her constant companion, forcing her to ruminate on what she should have done. The most difficult, dissonant moment may come when a girl understands that by trying to take control, she has simply done to herself what she meant to prevent boys from doing to her.
p. 252 One out of five girls in college will be raped on campus, according to a Justice Department study. Between 85-90% of the assailants are known to the victim.
2007 Letters to Mothers & Daughters - The whole letter was great!
How to Get Along With Difficult People, by Florence Littauer
Several people on the Sonlight forums and in other places have recommended a book called Personality Plus. I tried to find it at the library, but it doesn't exist in my county. So, I opted for another book by the same author.
p.80 And Jesus said, "With God all things are possible." Not guaranteed or even probable, but possible.
p.105, Let's look at Paul's approach to a difficult situation. Compliments - Concern - Congratulations - Compromise - Choice - Challenge - Confidence - Conclusion
p. 113-114, As Christians we like to call our observations of the negative in other people a "discerning spirit, a true gift from the Lord." If you really are a designated discerner, God won't let your talent go unnoticed. He will send people in need to your door, inspire you to write positive passages, and place you on Oprah.
If these adventures haven't come to you, perhaps your ability to judge is not a spiritual gift, and you might try to make the giving of compliments a new goal in your life.
p. 116, A home with no compliments is not a happy place, and it's up to the parents to set the tone.
p. 144 Ask yourself today, in your human relationships: Are you looking for other people to fill your needs, to give you approval?
If you are, you will never be happy and you might be thought of as a difficult person. To get along with others, we have to ask ourselves:
* What is their need?
* How can I fill it?
Sunday morning we went to church. Sunday afternoon I took a 3.5 hour nap. I can't take naps unless I'm sick, preggo, or incredibly exhausted. I was incredibly exhausted. Sunday evening we ran some errands and went to Cold Stone for dinner. Sunday evening I packed a Moffit Box and read in bed. With the exception of printing out some coupons, the computer stayed off for the whole day. No BFM or Trading Post stuff, no e-mails or Facebook messages, no forums. Just a day free of the screen. It was a relaxing day.
Today I woke up at 5:15 and was on the road by 5:25 for an early morning grocery shopping trip. I'd planned on going this evening, but Tim was going to work late today and I made a last minute decision to go this morning instead. I'd rather have a ridiculously early morning and mellow evening than a normal morning and busy evening.
Needless to say, I'm a little sleepy from my pre-dawn shopping trip, but we're on track for school and I'll be catching up on internet stuff over the rest of the day. Last week was way too busy, so mellow and fun weekend was perfect!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
About a week ago I asked Larry, someone who is far more techy than I'll ever be and knows about sound equipment, if knew how to transfer cassettes to CDs. He did, but didn't have the right equipment. He asked Tim (not my Tim), someone who is a sound guru, about it and Tim offered to do it for me. Two days ago I was given my cassette back, along with an audio CD and an MP3 disc. How awesome is that?!
That night I listened to my mom's memorial service for the first time in 19 years, listening to some of those who knew her best share the things they admired about her, funny memories from the past, and how grateful they were to have known her. As I Skyped with Beep that night she asked if it made me happy or sad. I told her a little of both - it's neat to hear the voices of everyone who sang and spoke, but it's also my mom's memorial service. It was bittersweet.
Thanks to some late night help from David, via Facebook, I was able to get the MP3 file on my computer and tonight I was able to get it uploaded in a format I can easily share. I realize it won't interest the vast majority of those who read my blog, but I thought I'd post it for those who knew my mom and may want to listen.
Without further ado, here's the memorial service.
In case you can't identify the voices (or talents), they are, in order of "appearance" -
* Nancy Myer (friend & pianist)
* Michelle Ostendorf (friend & pianist)
* David Shankle (our pastor at the time)
* Harold Keech (song leader from our church)
* Rick Stevens (a radio DJ we'd gotten to know & whose staff prayed for us regularly, singing "Welcome Home")
* Kathy Ward (friend & co-worker)
* Judy Zelmer Smith (friend & boss)
* Sandi Heitz (friend)
* John Dean (college friend who, with his wife, were friends with my parents)
* Shirley Rettke (friend)
* Faye Jurisich (college friend)
* Dona (Shankle) Hamilton (friend who had been in the Sunday School class my mom taught, singing "Home Free")
I'm so thankful to Larry and Tim for doing the techy stuff that not only allowed me to hear the service again, but also gave me an opportunity to share it with a son-in-law and three grandkids my mom never knew.
And now I'm crying. Ugh.
What's something that you're thankful for?
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Anyway, the third thing that is jumping around in my brain has to do with where we live. A little over a year ago, after turning down a long-awaited opportunity to buy the house we were renting, we decided to move into an apartment. The one and only reason we made the move was so that we could pay off Tim's school debt more quickly.
I knew I'd miss living in a house. I knew I'd miss having a quarter acre and a big garden.
I didn't know we'd have mold.
We spent nearly five years in a 60 year old house and the only mold we ever had was on the ceiling of a poorly ventilated bathroom. I can live with that. About seven months into apartment life, in a building that's probably 20 years old, we found mold growing in two of our closets. That was about a month ago. They cleaned and re-painted the moldy areas, but that's just a band-aid for the problem.
The moldy places are all exterior corners where the building sits in stagnant puddles when it rains. While cleaning up the mold isn't going to really solve the problem, it's not realistic to expect the walls to be gutted and rebuilt and the landscaping to be redone in a way that doesn't create huge pools of water throughout the complex. At least not in the near future. That's a massive project!
Anyway, we were asked to open the bedroom windows and/or periodically blow fans into the closets to keep them aired out. We shouldn't have to do that, but I'm willing to cooperate and followed their suggestions. I also made sure to leave a little gap around the edges of the closet to let air pass. Seems like a trivial thing, but our closets are stuffed and there isn't much wiggle room.
Three weeks later the mold was back. Ugh.
They cleaned it again and used a new paint that's supposed to be a mold inhibitor. That was last Friday. We'll see how it works. Meanwhile, two shelves that were in the boys room are now in our living room and half of their closet is totally empty because things were getting damp. So frustrating!
So, what do we do if this new paint doesn't work? I have no idea.
We're taking apartment life one year at a time, kinda like homeschooling and kids, but expected to be here at least two years. We wanted to be here long enough to make the cost and hassle of moving twice (in and out of the apartment) worthwhile. The thought of moving after a year does not excite me. Especially when I know how much our last move rocked school for us.
I'm having a very hard time with the fact that I can't send our kids outside to play, something we used to do almost daily, regardless of weather. We have some grass outside the back of our apartment, but it's swampy, often filled with dog poop, and unfenced (an issue only for Naomi). Our poor kids are bouncing off the walls, which also stresses me out because I don't want our noise level to be obnoxious for our neighbors. I'm constantly asking them to quiet down and chill out. Not fun for any of us. The inconveniences of apartment living are things I can deal with, but the lack of a yard is really, really hard for me.
We have bikes and scooters that got used once last summer. Once. We have to haul them from the back deck, through the house, and out the front door in order to use them. It's a hassle and so they don't get used, which means they're just wasting space. But I don't want to get rid of bikes. It's like accepting that we're trapped inside. Indefinitely.
If we have to move because of mold, then how do we know the next place won't have the same problem? Where do we move that's still conveniently located for work, doesn't have mold, allows the kids to be outside, and is still inexpensive enough to allow us to keep making bigger payments on Tim's school debt?
I hate debt. I hate, hate, hate it. Truly. I hope you guys are living within your means and teaching your kids to do the same. Please, please, pleeeease teach them that any debt they accumulate will affect their future families and lifestyles. I wish someone had explained that to Tim before he unnecessarily accepted every loan that was thrown at him. But they didn't and here we are. I'm not mad at him about it, but it's definitely a frustrating situation.
Anyway, debt's not the point of this post.
I don't necessarily want to move back to a house with a yard ... and no mold. Well, I do. A lot. And we could afford to. But we wouldn't make much progress on the debt. Plus, we gave away hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of stuff when we moved, much of which we'd need to replace if we returned to a house. I'm glad we were able to share that stuff, but I don't want to fork out the money to replace it so soon. Kinda counter-productive to the whole purpose of our move.
Maybe the new paint will work and we won't be forced to decide what to do so quickly. Maybe it won't. Then we have to decide whether to live longer in a moldy apartment with closets we can't use, pay for a move to another apartment and hope it doesn't have mold, pay for a move to a house and negate the progress we've made on Tim's debt, or ... I don't know.
I don't want to pay for another move. I don't want the hassle of another move. I don't want mold growing through my walls.
I do want to be able to use all the space in my home. I do want my kids to have the option of playing outside. I do want to make faster progress on getting out of debt.
Our lease goes through April. Guess we have a little time to figure things out. But if we're moving, then I have to start preparing for that pretty soon.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
We've never had a planned or desired number of kids for our family and we've never cared how kids joined our family. "One at a time" is the plan. (Yes, for you snarky folks, we'd be happy with multiples. The "one" can refer to children, pregnancies, or adoptions.)
I love that our boys are close enough in age to be playmates, a pair of siblings. I'd love for Naomi to be part of a similar pair and we opened ourselves up to that option. Technically it should have worked out. In actuality, it didn't. It makes no logical sense, but sometimes life is that way. Once the window of opportunity for a similar age spread was gone, then we just decided to sit tight.
We took foster parenting classes almost two years ago, then made a last minute decision to not turn in our application. I'm confident that was the right decision at that point in time, but our heart is still that all kids have a family, whether temporarily (foster) or permanently (adoption). We'd be happy to take in any child, but we're kinda drawn to the special needs kids. Some of those kids have physical problems, but many of them are considered special needs in the adoption world because no one wants them. They're often older kids (grade school through high school), boys, sibling groups that don't want to be separated, and minorities. Most of them have some behavioral issues caused by the circumstances that led them to be taken from their parents.
I know a lot of foster and adoptive parents. The general consensus, though there are exceptions that work out well, is to only take in kids that are younger than your youngest. This helps ensure the physical safety of your biological kids as the new member of your family works through the junk that life dealt them. It also prevents an upset of the birth order. There will be a change in family dynamics regardless of how and when a child joins a family, but upsetting the birth order can make that change a lot harder. I'd be totally comfortable taking in a kid between Naomi and Devon or younger than Naomi.
If I found out today that I was preggo, then I'd be delighted. Kids are great and we'd be happy. However, the farther away we get from the baby phase, the more I wonder if not conceiving a playmate for Naomi was the first step, though unintentional, toward fostering or adopting. It's given us time to let our kids get a little older, to possibly take in a non-baby child. The older our kids get, the more options we'd feel comfortable with as we considered who to add to our family.
Of course, it may just be that there's absolutely no explanation to Naomi's lack of "pair" status other than "it's life". I'm fine with that. I could get pregnant next week. We could end up taking in a newborn. Who knows? Time will tell.
I look at the Northwest Adoption Exchange site almost weekly and see foster kids who are ready for homes. I periodically check out Reece's Rainbow, an organization committed to placing kids with Down Syndrome into families before their governments permanently institutionalize them. I hear about Hannah's Hope, an Ethiopian orphanage connected to All God's Children International, being so low on diapers that they're re-using disposables and covering diapers with plastic bags. I hear the stats in foster classes about the number of kids needing to be placed compared to the number of certified homes. It all just breaks my heart and I don't know where we fit into the solution.
I often feel that our family isn't done growing. Then, of course, I think I'm crazy. After all, I'm the one who told you yesterday that I feel like I'm doing a lot of things, but none of them well. Then I think I'm selfish. Then I remember that motherhood is anything but selfish. Then I wonder why God's given me this strong desire to foster or adopt if the timing never seems right. Then I wonder if, ten years from now, I'll look back at this point and see how beautifully everything (whatever that is) worked out or if I'll still wonder how it's going to unfold. Then I wonder how far behind we'd be in school if I was parenting four kids, one who quite possibly would need to be taken to various appointments during the week. Then I wonder how I'd handle a kid with serious behavioral issues when my most challenging child often overwhelms me.
It makes my head hurt.
As I've felt at every point in parenting, I could happily live the rest of my life with the kids we have now. I could also live equally happy with more kids. I'm truly, honestly, content either way. Always have been.
But I can't stop looking at those sites. And I'd love for Naomi to share a room with someone and have a playmate when the boys are hanging out alone. So, while I'm content, I'm just not convinced there will only be 5 Ws. That doesn't even make sense, does it? I don't know how to explain it.
Kids need families. All kids need a family. And we're a family. Are we the family for the kids? Are we a family who supports the families taking in kids, whether financially, through respite care, or with practical things like clothes and bedding? How do we know? When is the timing right? I wish I knew.
Now, if I announce a pregnancy in a couple months, then don't you dare ask me if we were trying. That's none of your business and it makes no difference anyway. Plus, it's just rude. If we announce that we're adopting or fostering, then don't question my sanity. We wouldn't pursue it unless we felt confident about it and no agency would accept us unless we proved capable.
In other words, this is the one and only time I'm telling you that we have no idea why I didn't get pregnant in time to give Naomi a playmate, that I think about fostering and adopting non-stop, and that I feel simultaneously delighted and hesitant about adding another W to the mix.
Monday, January 24, 2011
We homeschool. We aren't "homeschool or die" and, as evidenced by Tim's employer, don't think public school is the devil. Our policy is "one kid and one year at a time". The early years matter most to me for homeschooling, but I don't really know when I think those early years end. Homeschooling wasn't on Tim's radar before we met, but he's supportive of my desire to do it and has basically left the decision up to me, as I'm the one the responsibility falls on.
These days I don't like homeschooling at all. While it is easier now that Naomi's older, I feel like I'm doing a lot of things ... and none of them well. The boys, who have always done a large part of their work independently, are doing too much on their own lately. I miss doing more of their school with them, but I can't do the ideal amount with each of them and spend time with Naomi.
I seriously considered putting one of our boys in public this year. I know he'd have been fine and it would have given me more time with the other two kids. Of course, like with any change, we'd have exchanged one set of problems and struggles for a new set, but it was worth considering. In the end, the pros didn't outweigh the cons. I'm sure of that, though it could work out differently another year.
We're behind. Only a week or two, but we just can't get caught up. I realize a perk of homeschooling is the ability to set your own schedule, but I really like ending our year when public school does.
We do school all year. Well, we used to do school all year. We did three weeks on, then one week off, with an extra week off in June and December. That morphed into as many days on as we could crank out, then as much time off as we needed. Loved it! Never got burned out. Never felt behind. Had tons of flexibility.
Then we moved. We took a couple weeks off before and after the move, then had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. We managed to finish up the year, but didn't do any school over the summer. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. While it was nice to have that time off, we are suffering through the nine months of the traditional school year.
I. hate. it! Never, never, never again will we take the summer off. It is not worth it for our family. The pressure of getting done mid-June without any extra flexibility weighs on me. Yes, we could bump the year out, but I don't want to. We like starting our new year in July, as doing school during the summer (and we do a more flexible routine then) is much easier when you've got a stack of brand new books. Practically it makes no difference, but mentally it's a lot easier.
Silas, by law, has to be tested before August. On one hand it will be nice to know exactly where he's at academically. On the other hand the fear of failure nags me. I just need to get the test scheduled. Maybe I wouldn't feel so pressured if I knew he was on track. Or I'd discover he has big gaps and feel more pressure. Ugh.
We started off the year combining the boys in everything but math & language arts. I thought that would ease my load, but it just didn't work out logistically. So, they're separated again, which is good. Combining was worth trying and confirmed that being separate was the best option.
We started off the year with a new spelling program. Though many friends love it, it couldn't possibly have been a worse fit for us. Now we have a new program that we really like. Except we rarely get around to doing it.
I do, generally speaking, like homeschooling. I do believe it was the right choice for our family this year. I do think that taking the summer off was absolutely the stupidest homeschooling decision I've ever made.
Homeschooling has become, at least in my mind, something I have to do each day, not something I get to do. Does that mean it's time for a change? Does that mean I need a lesson in perseverance? I don't know.
I know that one of our boys needs to be home for now. I don't know if homeschooling is coming to an end for the other boy. I'm guessing we'll probably give it another year, starting in July so that I'm not chronically behind, and then, as usual, re-evaluate. I'm fairly confident that most of my dissatisfaction with this year is because we're following a traditional school year, so I'd like another shot at going all year. I just don't want to throw in the towel if the problems could be easily solved by getting back on a year round schedule.
Some days I fantasize about putting all the kids in public school and day care, spending an hour of uninterrupted time getting my "to do" list done, taking naps, reading lots of books, meeting Tim for lunch, and going for walks whenever I feel like it. Homeschoolers don't get to do that. True, there are other perks that parents who send their kids to school don't get, but I'm currently battling a case of "the grass is greener". At least I'm aware of the rose-colored glasses I'm wearing and know that neither option is all good or all bad. That must count for something. Right?
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Anyway, Devon and I were scheduled for a date tonight. He's been dying to go to Divine, as everyone else in the family has been there and he hasn't. I don't usually eat anything on the dates, but frozen yogurt sounded good to me. So, my plan was to use the budgeted two bucks and a coupon to get Devon's yogurt and dip into my personal fun money to buy my own.
We go in, pick our yogurt, and put it on the scale. I hand over some money, but I'm looking at Devon as I do so. The girl isn't taking it, so I look up to see what's going on. As I look up I feel a hand on my shoulder and see another hand reaching out to the checker with money. What?!
Turns out that we'd passed by the vehicle of someone we know as we walked in. They were on the phone and saw us walk by, hurried to finish their phone call before we got to the counter, got to us right before we forked over our money ... and paid for our yogurt. How cool is that?!
Not only was the date free, but I found out that the Dev-o-rama is an excellent question asker. I reminded him, as we were driving to the library, that you can't talk all about yourself on a date and that you need to say things that encourage conversation. No "yes/no" questions allowed. The kid kept busting out all sorts of questions and giving thoughtful answers to mine. He's a great date!
What's one thing that you're thankful for?
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I Like to Fuss, by Sandra Boynton
Mostly I am pleasant.
Mostly I am good.
I answer you politely,
just as you say I should.
Yes, mostly I am perfect.
You don't hear me complain.
But after so much sunshine,
we need a little rain.
I like to fuss.
I like to moan.
I like to stand on my chair and say,
"LEAVE ME ALONE"!
Don't bother me.
I like to grump.
I like to brood.
I like to stomp all around
in a truly terrible mood.
When everybody, more or less,
tells me to stop, I go.
When everybody says
the answer is yes,
I find myself saying,
"no, no, no!"
I like to gripe.
I like to whine.
And I refuse to share
whatever is mine.
I WON'T SHARE
And if you don't like it,
I say I don't care. I DON'T CARE.
If you say STOP,
then I say GO.
If you say YES,
then I say NO-oh-oh.
I just want to get
one thing straight:
If you're in a hurry,
I say, IF you're in a hurry,
if you're R E A L L Y
in a hurry, I'll make you wait.
I like to yell.
I like to snit.
I like to holler and throw
a fabulous fit:
NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.
But in a while,
when I am through,
it's possible I'll sing
a nicer song for you ...
Nah. I don't want to.
Is that the most fantastic song or what?! Love it! You can give a listen to the first part of the song here. It's the seventh song on the Philadelphia Chickens album, about halfway down the screen.
Gotta love the Boynton music!!
Monday, January 17, 2011
Tam's granola (crockpot) x3
cherry oatmeal muffins (from freezer)
pumpkin bread (from freezer)
leftover oatmeal pancakes (double batch - I'll make extra oatmeal on an oatmeal morning)
egg & potato scramble
honey wheat muffins (double batch, freeze half)
veggies & new dip recipe (flop)
meatless minestrone/whole wheat biscuits
quinoa & black beans/salad
Italian sausage & bowties/Leslie's salad
upside-down pizza (base from freezer)/salad
vegetarian black bean soup/whole wheat biscuits
rice, kale & eggs
dinner with friends
Mexican casserole (freeze half)/broccoli
pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Pizza Hut - First stop was Pizza Hut for some dinner. We used a gift card from our boys, pigged out on a supreme pizza, used a coupon to get a free pizza that we'll eat for lunch tomorrow, and played a game of Phase 10. Tim won.
Fred Meyer - Used a gift card to buy dirt cheap sheets that I could make curtains out of.
Target - I've been looking for curtains for months, but hate paying full price and can't ever find the right size in the colors we need. Tim, who is the balance to my (sometimes extreme) frugality, pointed out that seven months of looking means it's fine for me to just buy the ones I like. We paid for them with gift cards and will return the dirt cheap sheets from Freddy's.
Safari Sam's - We planned on going there to play miniature golf, but we were feeling old and tired. Sitting down sounded better than walking around.
Shari's - We crossed the parking lot from Safari Sam's and headed into Shari's. Coffee & milk for Tim, cider for me, water for both of us, coupons for two free cinnamon rolls, and another game of Phase 10. I won.
I'm beyond stuffed and very happy to have elastic-waisted jammy pants on. Now we're sprawled on the couch, I'm blogging, and we're both watching a movie. Nice ending to the day!
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Although I did my recipe blog for convenience, not for an income or to share my culinary creations (I mean, we all know I'm a recipe follower, not a recipe maker), it does make me happy when I hear that someone liked a recipe they found on my site. Comments get left sporadically, but I've had a couple people leave a few lately and I love it! In fact, knowing how much I appreciate getting feedback and how helpful I find the comments left by others, each time I try a new recipe, I leave a comment on the site I found it at. I share the positives, negatives, and any changes I made.
So, where do you get recipes? A big website, the blog of a friend or stranger, a forum, magazines or newspapers? Here's my challenge for you. If you've tried a new recipe lately, then leave a comment on that site and let them know what you thought of it. If it was from a friend, then shoot them an e-mail. If it was in print, then see if you can find it on the publication's website.
Show some appreciation. Say thanks ... or "Yum!" Prove to people that the time they put into sharing a recipe they like was worthwhile.
Bonus point will be given for leaving a comment here with links to some of your favorite places to find recipes. I'll start by listing some, though not all, of the places I use.
allrecipes - A huge site with the option of doing all sorts of searches - ingredient (including ones you want and/or don't want), special diets (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, etc), cooking method, cooking time, etc.
Collector of Recipes - Tannis is a friend who likes to find recipes online, then tweak them a little.
Cooking for the Guys - Kelly is a friend who started Weight Watchers a couple years ago. She's included WW points on over 200 of her posts.
Culinary Cravings - Laura is a friend who enjoys presentation as much as preparation, but she's relaxed enough that you can feel totally comfortable serving her a hillbilly meal on mismatched or paper plates. Ask me how I know.
Eat at Home - Tiffany is a friend who one day mentioned she was thinking about starting a recipe blog and now has a huge site filled with great recipes & photos, menu plans, and occasional giveaways. She, unlike me, has the ability to pull random things out of her cupboards and create something tasty from them.
Hillbilly Housewife - Simple, frugal recipes.
Sonlight Forums - You can't access these unless you've purchased their curriculum or paid for a membership, but since it's one of my top two sources of great recipes I had to mention it.
Now, link us to some sites you use ... and go leave comments at those sites for the recipes you've used.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Check the store ads & make note of what's on sale. Plan your meals accordingly. I don't do this method, as I'm not good at making meals from random ingredients. My brain just doesn't work that way and WinCo, where I do my shopping, has low enough prices that I don't have to plan around sales. Mary Lou's brain works this way and she would be a good person to talk to if you prefer menu planning this way. She and I are total opposites with this stuff, but our methods work well for each of us.
Make a menu. Buy the ingredients (at WinCo). Prepare the meals. Easy peasy.
I menu plan and shop twice a month, but doing one week of dinner menus is a great place to start. Baby steps, folks, baby steps. :)
There are two ways to do this. First is to assign meals to each day of the week. I used to do this, but then, being a little uptight about scheduling, would get all frazzled when life interfered and messed up my menu. The second way is to make a list of seven meals, assuming you're starting with a one week menu, then decide each morning which of those things you're going to make. It really doesn't matter which way you do it. The point is that you'll have all the ingredients for seven night's worth of dinners.
I like to make things as easy as possible, so I only plan for five nights a week. How? Sundays are always leftovers. That guarantees that I truly get the day off. That means I make our biggest meals Friday and Saturday to ensure that there will be leftovers on Sunday.
Tuesdays are always Taco Tuesday. I regularly make crockpot beans (the best beans in the world, by the way) and freeze three quart-sized bags at a time. I also freeze three pounds of taco meat at a time, one pound in each of three quart-sized bags. That makes Taco Tuesday really easy because I just have to pull two bags (meat & beans) out of the freezer in the morning, chops some olives, cilantro and limes, then pull the sour cream & salsa out of the fridge at dinner.
I'd really encourage you to plan on having leftovers one night a week. It gives you night off and keeps your fridge clean. I'd also encourage you to pick one night of the week that's always the same meal. It could be Taco Tuesday, spaghetti on Thursdays, baked potato bar on Mondays ... whatever would make your family happy and keep menu planning simple.
Go look at your calendar. Are there nights where you need to make special plans? Company coming? Potluck? A crazily busy day without much time to cook? Factor those details into your menu.
Ok, so now you know what's on your calendar, you've designated a night for leftovers, and you've picked a set meal for a particular night of the week. Now let's tackle the rest of the menu.
Time out. Big, honkin' detail to mention right now.
You need to be making your grocery list as you plan your menu! Now, don't actually look in your cupboards yet. Instead, make a shopping list of all the ingredients you need for each recipe/dish you'll be making *as soon as* you put that recipe on your menu.
As you may already know, I do my grocery list according to the floor plan of WinCo to make my shopping trip more efficient. So, in this part of menu planning I may write "flour" in the bulk department section of my grocery list. Then I'd make a little note of how many cups I needed for a particular recipe. Each time I needed more, then I'd add another number. Here's what it may look like once my menu is planned.
That means I need a total of 8 cups of flour to make all the things on my menu. The numbers may stand for pounds, cups, or whatever unit of measurement for the item on my grocery list. Make sense?
So, back to the menu. Write down "leftovers". Write down your set meal. Put all the ingredients you need for the set meal on your grocery list (including quantities), even the ingredients you think or know you already have. Now pick another meal and repeat the shopping list process. Keep repeating until you have seven dinners planned. I try to include one new recipe each week, but you can do whatever floats your boat.
Now you should have seven dinners planned and a shopping list that includes all the ingredients you need for those meals. Is that done?
Ok, now we're going to pare down the grocery list. I know you're probably thinking I'm a little crazy for making you write down the ingredients you already know you have, but here's the deal. Sometimes you'll know you have sausage in the freezer, but you won't realize until cooking time that it's not enough for the two recipes you needed it for. Crisis. Or you'll think you had a ton of paprika, but it was actually cayenne. Crisis. Or, like me, you buy a lot of things in the bulk department and don't actually know how much flour you have. It's just a lot, but perhaps not enough for all the baking you're going to do. So, that's why I have you write down everything the recipe calls for.
Now you're going to check your grocery list against your cupboards. This only takes a couple minutes, I promise. If it's something you know you don't have any of, then put a little dot or check by that item on your grocery list. I just do a dot, which tells me that I've checked and know I absolutely need soy sauce (or whatever). Then I look at all the other items. Using the flour example from earlier, I'd check my pantry and estimate how much I have. If I already have about four cups, then I''d adjust the total of 8 on my grocery list to say 4. Or maybe 5, to err on the side of caution. Then I'd put a dot by the flour. Quickly go through your whole list and check what you need against what you already have, then dot those items so that you know you'll be buying the right amount.
Everything dotted? Great! Go shop. :)
Now you can wake up in the morning, scan your menu and decide what's for dinner that night, pull any necessary ingredients out of the freezer to start thawing, and pace the prep work so that dinner's served on time and without stress. If you have littles in the house, then do your prep work during afternoon naps/down time. I enjoy that time doing mindless work in a quiet house, though I sometimes opt to listen to a sermon online or some music on Pandora while I work. If you work outside the home, then do some of the following night's prep work after dinner and just wash the prep dishes with your dinner dishes.
I think that's Menu Planning 101, so I'll call it a wrap right here. I don't want to keep throwing out more little suggestions that make the whole thing seem overwhelming or like it's turned into Menu Planning 102. :)
Questions? Suggestions? Fire away!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters. ~ Dr. Jowett
I always want hard situations to improve so that I can be more comfortable (less stress, lack of relationship drama, absence of physical pain, etc). I want to be comforted for my own sake.
How much better it is to take that comfort and pay it forward?!
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Baking - Naomi planned & made dessert for the first time. She wanted to copy the Hello Kitty cake I made for her third birthday party, so we got all the ingredients and set to work. She measured, poured, mixed, shaped, frosted, and decorated with minimal help. Super cute!
Sleeping - Tim screwed the ladder onto Naomi's bunk bed and she moved up to the top. Her newly emptied bottom bunk is usually set up as an enclosed fort, which she thoroughly enjoys, and she's just as content on top as she was on the bottom. Both beds are perfect for sleeping and reading!
Friday, January 7, 2011
"Well, if I had it to do over again, you can bet I ..."
Everyone wants to know whether parents would do it over again if they had the choice to bear children, having reached their present point in parenthood. Let me go on record with an enthusiastic scream and shout, "yes, yes, yes!"
It does have its perks, you know. Where else do you have a relationship where the person loves you automatically upon meeting you? That is, however, exactly what happens when that little face look up into yours ... and when you look into that child's.
Where else do you find a relationship built on trust that is assumed? Who else finds their joy simply in your presence ... and you in theirs?
What else can be as thrilling as teaching someone from point one what life is about? What can compare with teaching them to explore and letting their innate wonder lead them to fearlessly taste and touch and enjoy their world?
What a privilege to see someone who has looked at aspects of your person and standards and chosen to make some of them their own. Is their a higher compliment?
"But it's so demanding, takes so much time, makes me so tired and the returns are not commensurate with the effort!"
Now wait ... that could be a complaint about employment, too, couldn't it?! But we don't quit working. It could be said about yard work ... but we continue to do that. It could be said about hobbies, causes, or anything worthwhile.
But that is the key. Worth.
I accept the "downside" because of the worth of the child, the worth of the relationship.
Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.
While she was far from perfect and though we could easily tell you her flaws, we had a mom who took motherhood seriously and loved her kids. Ben, Beep, and I were lucky kids. No doubt about it!
The photo below was taken on February 10, 1991, her 38th and last birthday, within days of when she wrote the preceding essay.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
May I present "I-5", named by Silas after the freeway that runs along the west coast of America.
I didn't know if I could pull it off, but he's happy with the results. You'll notice the front line isn't centered, but Silas doesn't mind. In fact, he said it's because the road is starting to curve. Glad he can roll with it, because I'm certainly no expert at cutting funky hair.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Here's the plan. The mononumeric number is 66,666, so I want you to leave a comment telling me anything you want about when you were six. Significant or trivial, it doesn't matter. It just has to be something about your life as a six year old and you can only leave one comment. Cheaters will be kicked to the curb.
I'm posting this kinda late on Monday, I want you to have at least a full 24 hours to play, and I'm not online in the mornings now that school is back in session. So, I'll let this contest run until noon (PST) on Wednesday. Then I'll do a random drawing from the names of everyone who left a comment and that person will win a $25.00 gift certificate to Linda's shop.
You do not have to have a blogger account to leave a comment. Anonymous (technically) comments are allowed, but be sure to leave your name so that I know how to find you if you're the winner.
If you don't wear jewelry or aren't into the style that she makes, go ahead and enter anyway. If you win, then I'm sure you can find someone to spend the gift certificate on!
Happy mononumeric visitor count to me!! Happy reminiscing of being six to you!!
You'll notice a few dinner repeats, as some stuff got skipped through the Christmas season. Such is life.
Tam's granola (crockpot)
lemony sour cream muffins (from the freezer)
nutty, fruity granola
baked oatmeal (prepare previous night)
morning glory muffins (freeze half)
yogurt streusel muffins
black bean dip
carrot ginger dip
lentils & rice/salad
creamy tomato & rice soup (crockpot)
at a birthday party
bbq pie (base from freezer)/peas & corn
creamy white chicken chili/tortilla chips
cold sesame noodles
Seattle cream cheese dogs/potato wedges
lasagna with homemade sauce (sauce made in crockpot & from the freezer)/salad
cheese sticks/green & orange bell pepper slices/pears (Devon planned & will prepare this meal)
sweet & sour chicken/Cricket's coleslaw
rice krispy treat kit (from Nana)
Sunday, January 2, 2011
2007 - One little W was asked to be in a wedding. That child participated, but Tim and I missed it because I gave birth to Naomi two hours before the bride walked down the aisle.
2010 - One little W has been asked to be in a wedding. That child didn't really understand what was being asked of them, so I hopped on YouTube to show them videos of others with the same role. They agreed to participate.
2011 - The wedding is officially scheduled. The odds of the couple breaking up are slim to none. I'm not pregnant. I think this means I may actually see one of the little Ws in a wedding. I'm excited!