Thursday, January 22, 2015

Packed Memories

So far so good on the moving front.  No big issues with the home inspection, and now we're waiting on the results of the appraisal from yesterday.  That will determine how serious I get about the moving process.

In the meantime, I've been working on clearing out things that aren't currently in use - like most of what's in the attic.  Namely, Christmas decorations, hand-me-down clothes waiting to be worn, and a few other odds and ends.  As I do this, the yard sale pile is expanding, and the garage is beginning to be filled with boxes.

As I was just about finished with the attic on Tuesday evening, I made my way to a big tall cardboard box in the back corner.  I brought it down to the living room to go through and see if there was anything worth keeping.

It's kind of comical what has been living in this box, which is mostly toys.  No, not my children's toys, but mine and Brad's.  Apparently Brad was a lover of Looney Tunes as a child, and the whole gang has been living contentedly in the attic for the past 16 years.  As I kept digging, I found a few things that did belong to my children, like first shoes for Madison.  I also found some things that I had no idea why they were there or who they belonged to, so out they went.

As I was going through this box, all four of my children were in the room, and I was telling the stories that went with each item.  As I got to the bottom of the box, I found two little bears from my childhood. As I pulled out a completely squashed pink and white bear, I looked him over for a second and then it came to me.  I tried so hard not to cry but there was no stopping those tears.  My children were confused of course and concerned and started asking what was wrong.  I gained my composure as quickly as possible and then shared the story.

I'm guessing I was around 10 years old or so, and our church had taken a group trip to Six Flags.  I loved Six Flags and I'm sure I was having a great time with my friend, Janet.  As we were walking around the park, there was a teenager nearby with one of those HUGE bears that you can win when you play those crazy games.  And I mean huge.  One of those that you wonder if it will fit in the car later.  Apparently this teenager didn't want to lug it around the park, so he came up to Janet and asked if she wanted it.  Well, of course she wanted it!  And as a 10 year old who loved teddy bears, especially a huge bear like that, my park experience for the day was pretty much shot.  

Apparently my mother caught on pretty quickly that I was heartbroken.  As it was nearing time for us to leave and go home, I saw my mother take out a $20 bill from her wallet and walk over to someone who was holding a not-so-huge bear, more like small to medium.  (But I'm betting she had been trying to spy out one of those rare HUGE ones.)  Next thing I know, she's handing the bear to me.  Even as a young child, I remember feeling overwhelmed that my mom would do that.  

When the story was finished on Tuesday evening, there wasn't a dry eye in my living room.  What an awesome memory of my mother - a memory that pretty much sums her up. 

Later that night, I was thinking to myself and wondering if I would have done something like that.  I'm sure a lot of "parenting experts" might disagree with how that played out.  This might make a good case study as a matter of fact.  I can just hear, "Well, the mom should have let the child work through her feelings and in so doing, this could have been a character-building situation."  And let's face it, I know I can always use a lesson in character (and most assuredly could have at that time), but my mother's love, care, and compassion won out on that one. 

And I am so grateful.  There would be other opportunities for "character building" throughout my childhood, and I'm glad that she chose a different route that day.  Had she not, there would be no story.  I probably wouldn't even remember that incident.  There would be no bear who had sat in the middle of the top shelf of my closet until the day I left home and who has continued to be in my possession (even if it's been in a box in the attic).  And there would have been no opportunity to stand in my living room and cry with my children as we remembered what a loving and fantastic woman my mom was. 

And I'm also grateful for the reminder of how I need to love on my children and sometimes ignore the "parenting expert rules."  My mother certainly wasn't a rule follower in that regard.  She did what her heart told her to do.  What a wonderful example. 

I Corinthians 13:13 ~ So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pinterest Experiment - Two Big Recipe Winners

This past week's Pinterest recipe experiments were a success.  The two recipes I tried will definitely be going into the "keeper" file.

The first was Sweet & Sour Chicken with Fried Rice.  I made the chicken exactly as the recipe, and it was just like I had ordered takeout.  Everyone else liked it, too.  Matthew summed it up when he said he liked to lick the sauce off the chicken before actually eating it.  And the rice was good enough to eat by itself.

The second recipe I tried was Homemade Meatballs and Marinara. The only thing I did different with this recipe was use Parmesan cheese instead of purchasing the Romano, and I definitely think it worked.  I served this with spaghetti noodles, and it was delicious.

I highly recommend both of these if you're looking for something new to serve your family.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Just When I Thought Things Couldn't Get Crazier!

Last weekend was FULL.  Thankfully, I stuck to my cleaning goals for the week, and that little fact right there was BIG in keeping things running smoothly.

It started on Friday when Cari asked to have a Bible study at our home with some of the young girls at church.  How could I say no to that?

Before everyone arrived, the real estate agent had sent a message asking if someone could see our home - right at about the same time the girls would be arriving.  Uh....I did have to say no to that.  But I did say the next day would be okay.  They rescheduled for the next day, and when all was said and done, three agents would actually show our house on Saturday!  I told her we should have just had an open house!

Amelia had a basketball game on Saturday, and the timing was perfect for the agents to come during that time with their clients.

Amelia and Coach Madison

After the game, my BFFs and I went to visit with BF Bonnie's dad, who has been quite sick, and took their family supper.  After that I had to get home and get our own supper ready as it was birthday party time for Madison - #19!

Later that night, after everyone had left, our realtor called and said we had an offer, and it was actually too good to refuse.  

I have to admit that I was in quite a state of shock.  It's been on the market for some time, and I had already settled in my mind that we'd keep it on the market this time until the contract was up and then be done with all that for a while.  

I had a lot of emotions, and then I remembered a blog post I read the other day about grieving seasons of life when they are over, and I decided that's just what I would have to do.  We've got 16 years of memories in this place, and it will be quite sad when we leave and I don't need to pretend that it won't be.  I need to accept that fact, deal with it, and then move on.  

Because there are lots more memories to be made in a new place, and as I keep reminding myself, it's a house.  Not a person. 

But, I'm not going to start packing yet.  The house inspector will be here first thing in the morning, so we'll see how that goes first.  

This week has pretty much been shot regarding New Year's goals (although I'm still on track with my daily Bible reading, and that's most important, right?).  

School has been crazy as well (forgot to mention we spent Sunday afternoon until Monday morning at ER with Brad with severe abdominal pain - thankfully he's better now).  As a friend reminded me (who is also in the moving process right now), we have all summer to catch up! And there's always next week to get back on track, Lord willing!  ;>)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Pinterest Experiment

I can be on Pinterest for five minutes and pin so much it's crazy.  As a result, for the past year or so, I've been accumulating quite a number of recipes in my "Recipes to Try" board.  At least once a week or so, I try to recreate at least one of my finds.  I thought it might be fun to blog about some of my experiments, so here we go!

Last night, I tried Crockpot Cheese Tortellini.  Except I didn't actually use a crockpot.  I might would have but didn't realize it was a crockpot recipe until I went to make it. 

The above is the picture from pinterest - not mine.  (My daughter was using my camera so I couldn't get a picture.)  My soup (or whatever you call it) looked similar except I used Italian chicken sausage - not ground sausage.  The only other thing I did different was to add about a cup of heavy cream.  (I was trying to make it go a little further as we had an extra person here last night - as usual.)  :>)

I really liked it.  I had made some buttered bread in the oven to go with it, and I especially enjoyed dipping the bread in the soup juice.  As for the overall family reaction, we were split down the middle.  Madison, Amelia and I liked it.  The other three not so much. 

Not only did I think it was tasty, it was super easy and quick to pull together (although maybe a little pricey - close to $20 for all ingredients - but for seven people, maybe that's not too bad?)  Other than browning the sausage a little (which was already fully cooked), all the ingredients just got thrown in the pot and cooked until the spinach wilted and the tortellini was cooked well.

Even though I liked it, I doubt I'll cook it again.  I need a majority to keep a recipe, and that didn't happen this time around.  But if you like Italian food, I recommend giving it a shot!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

And the New Year Begins

Over the weekend, I had so many goals for the New Year in my head that I became a little overly anxious.  Maybe it was the extra caffeine that day or an overworking of the mind, but I was feeling all jittery and wasn't happy about that at all.  I decided it was time to start one of my first resolutions for the year - that is, taking more HOT baths!  I had already grabbed on to that as we've been doing a lot of detox-type baths around here trying to cure some sickies (and I really think they were beneficial).  It had been sooooo long since I had done that that I had forgotten what a blessing and how relaxing those area.  (I also noticed Ann Voskamp had put that on her New Year list as well, so then I knew I was doing the right thing.  LOL!)  So with a hot bath with some Epsom salts for detoxing and a few drops of some peppermint and lavender essential oils - yep, another one of my interests I plan to concentrate on in 2015 - and a time of prayer and meditation, I felt so much better.  As I was relaxing, I started listing in my head all of the things that could be adding to my anxiousness, and goodness did that list get LONG!  And honestly, I realized most of those things were pretty much out of my control.  Things that needed to be handed over to God and left in His hands.  Yes, that time was not wasted, and it certainly did my heart and soul good.  Taking care of that "junk" freed my mind to think about more important things - things that I do have some control over.

I received my new Time Keeper household planner in the mail this past weekend - the best I've found that works for me.  As I was looking through it and writing down upcoming events on the schedule, I decided to concentrate on this week and write down some doable goals.  Instead of setting a lot of goals for the whole year, I've decided it's best to baby step this and do weekly/monthly goals as well.  Too often in past years, I didn't get very far and ended up quitting or giving up or just plain forgetting (and then usually it's all over until January 1st rolls around again).  I set up a simple whole house cleaning schedule goal for the week and one simple goal of cleaning out my bedroom closet.  Previously, I probably would have limited myself to getting this accomplished in one day along with a longer list for the other days of the week.  This time, I'm giving myself a whole week to take care of one project.  No pressure there.  It will be better to complete these tasks slowly then to overwhelm myself and burn out early and then have nothing to show for what looked good in my mind but never developed.  The result of all that I would hope would be further SIMPLIFYING of our lives and paring down of the "stuff monster."

In 2015, I hope to read more.  I've dusted off and charged up the ole Kindle and have been daily downloading free books off of Amazon.  I'm already halfway through my first book!  I would also like to read the Bible through this year.  On Facebook, my sister mentioned Blue Letter Bible having a good plan for this - reading OT and NT together, and that sounded great.  I registered through their site and now have accountability of what I'm to read each day, and a prerecorded voice will even read the passages to me, which I L.O.V.E.

Lastly, my biggest family goal has been brought in part by the Duggars.  Yes, I said the Duggars.  I enjoy watching their show, and I've actually found myself studying them and trying to figure out what makes things work so well for them.  I know it's not just one thing, but one trait in particular really jumped out at me.  They are so KIND to one another.  In the midst of my realization, I realized that is something I really need to work on.  As I pray for God to show me what I need to work on, I feel this is one area that has been pinpointed.  God speaks to us through His Word, and I can't tell you how many times in the past couple of weeks that I Corinthians 13:4 has flashed before me.  I've seen it in random devotions and one Bible study in particular that I was looking at the first day of the year I believe.  I received a chalkboard for my kitchen for Christmas, and over the weekend, I chose to decorate it with "Love is Kind."  When I got to church on Sunday, the front of the bulletin read, "Love is patient, love is kind."  I had to laugh.  Okay, Okay.  I get it.  At least, I hope to get it. That is a huge prayer that I hope to see answered in 2015 as it will take great patience to work through this daily.  And my husband and children deserve kindness - not frustration, impatience, nagging, etc.  If I want my children to develop kindness in their lives, it HAS to start with me.

So there you have it.  I don't think these things are too overwhelming at all, and I am eagerly and prayerfully ready to continue this journey through this New Year. :>)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

After months of not being able to log into my account and not really having time to figure out why, I finally acquired a solution this morning!  So I'm back, and I would like to think that I could post more in 2015 than I did in 2014, so we'll see how that goes.

2014 was a pretty good year (in comparison to 2013 I'd say). 

Madison graduated high school and started college in the fall.  She started with a softball scholarship, but after a semester of that, we all realized that was not the best choice for her, and on her own, she made the decision to bring that chapter of her life to a close. She also started with her first job this year and bought a new jeep with the help of her dad, so she's acquired a bit of responsibility for an 18-, almost 19-year-old, and that's a good thing.

Cari is now 15 and passed her learner's license driving test easily back in the spring and is slowly working on learning to drive.  She hasn't been too overly excited about that, but as the age of 16 is fast approaching, she's giving it a little more attention.  She became a babysitter this year, and has done quite a bit for different families, which has been good for her.  She has continued with her homeschooling as a 10th grader and is doing well.  She had the opportunity to audition and perform in A Christmas Carol as the ghost of Christmas future with a local theater company, and she loved it, and we loved watching her do it.  She hopes to do more this year but is taking a break for now as she's about to start piano lessons and wants to concentrate on that.

Amelia is 9 - last year for single digits! - and has continued with her sports, softball and basketball, but has decided she enjoys basketball more. She loves to play with her Barbies and her American Girl dolls.  She now gets to play with them in her own room, which she was able to have this year for the first time as we did quite a bit of switching around and redecorating with all the girls.  She lost her best dog friend, Anna Belle, this year, which she still hasn't quite gotten over (there are currently loving Birthday notes on my fridge at this moment for Anna Belle as her birthday was some time in January).  Aside from all that, most importantly, she has been giving much thought to her relationship with Jesus this year.  We had been having discussions off and on, and one afternoon after we had watched God's Not Dead, she came to me in tears and told me she wanted to be a Christian.  That certainly makes my heart happy.  Yes, 2014 was a good year.

Matthew is now 6 and has become quite the baseball fan and loves playing.  He played in the spring and fall and is geared up and ready to go again in the next few months.  He is such a sweet little boy.  Very loving and easy to get along with.  He loves Spider Man and pretty much all of the Avengers.  He is becoming a Lego enthusiast.  A big accomplishment for him was learning to swim this year!

Brad and I haven't had too many changes.  He's been struggling with his CIDP a bit, but from what I understand, it could be much worse, and we're so thankful that it has not interfered with his ability to work at UPS or minister at church.  We're extremely thankful for wonderful insurance that covers his treatments - treatments which are making a great difference.  I started a new MT job this year with a company in Washington, D.C., and it has been an excellent fit.  We still have our home for sale and actually started with a new agent in November and with a lower price, so we'll see how that goes in the coming months. 

So, on the spur of the moment, that's the best recollections I have of 2014.  Now let's see what 2015 has in store.  :)


Here's the "more about that" I mentioned in the previous post... I was around 6 years old the first time I realized I nee...