Saturday, August 28, 2010

The hope that we have

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

As those who read my post yesterday know, my heart has been feeling very burdened. It was not my intention to cause alarm, but rather to be honest and also to offer an explanation for why I chose to delete the post that had published earlier in the day. I appreciate the outpouring of emails and calls I've received. We are grateful for your prayers, especially as there are still many uncertainties in our future. (But isn't that true for all of us?!)

You know the expression "when it rains, it pours?" Well, that's certainly been the case around here lately. Several people we care about have been dealing with major difficulties, and I think yesterday was a cumulative effect of that concern.

At the forefront of my heart and mind, though, was that all week, and especially yesterday, my family was anxiously waiting for an update regarding my father. To cut to the chase, the news was less grim than we'd anticipated, for which we give thanks. However, we knew as of Wednesday that his cancer indicator number was continuing to increase, signaling that a change in treatment was necessary, and I think we were all bracing for what that might entail.

My dad received his first radiation treatment yesterday, but at this point that will not become a regular part of his regimen. He felt no pain during the procedure, and in fact has already felt the positive effects of the treatment! He did learn the disappointing news that he cannot run for 6-8 weeks because recovering from radiation is much like recovering from surgery. However, he was given the green light to continue riding his hand cycle, and I've been informed by my mother that he's already been out for a long ride today! That is so him.

We rejoice that the news is more hopeful than anticipated, and we continue to lift up all those we love who are going through trials of their own.

"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24

Friday, August 27, 2010

Delete

I scheduled this morning's light bulb post a few days ago, and I appreciate those who took the time to comment and share an opinion. However, I've decided to delete the post because my heart is very heavy today, and talking about something as petty as a light bulb just isn't on my radar.

I'll be back soon with some updates, but for now, I hope the rest of you are having the same beautiful weather that we are.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Preserving the harvest

I have been especially busy in the kitchen lately! I still want to write a post about some summer recipes we've tried, and I've also been working on a post about the recipes you shared in this post. But for now, garden produce is at the forefront because we've had so much in the last couple of weeks!


We'd never grown basil before, and since we had a bumper crop, I wanted to make pesto. I used the recipe from my classic Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, and one of the ingredients was 1/4 teaspoon salt. I wanted to quadruple the recipe, and somehow in my head, I thought I needed to add a whole teaspoon for a single batch. Thus, I added a heaping tablespoon to the mix. When I tasted it, I wondered why it was so salty. Then I realized my mistake. Sigh! It took me almost an hour to prep the basil leaves and garlic the first time, but I was back at it to try to correct some of the saltiness. I even tried looking for tips on-line, but most suggestions were about adding a potato to soup, and nothing was relevant to my situation. I added the rest of the basil leaves I'd reserved for drying, and threw in some additional olive oil and garlic. It still tasted a little salty, but I think I'll just thin it with pasta water when I prepare it and hope for the best!


If you can believe it since it's only August, I've already made enough applesauce to last my family for the entire year. Eric's friend has three productive apple trees, and he didn't want any of the fruit, so Eric took the kids twice and filled up a large cooler or two each time. I don't know how many pints of applesauce we ended up with, but I feel pretty sure it will last us until next fall. Per these instructions, we also diced 35 cups of apples to fuel our muffin supply for the year. It was a lot of work upfront--about 6 hours worth (for 2 people!)--but it will be so nice to have this done, plus the apples cost us nothing!


Next weekend, I plan to harvest all of our garlic. I'll store some whole cloves with the onions, but I also plan to freeze some minced garlic using these directions. (Stephanie has a whole series of informative posts about food preservation.) Has anyone else frozen minced garlic before?

I've also been eating tons of tomatoes. Eric is allergic, neither of our kids like them, and I don't care to can them, so I eat whatever I can fresh and give the rest away. I've been having bruschetta or pasta salad almost every day for lunch!

We've had plenty of grean beans, bell peppers and onions, too, and soon our potatoes will be ready to dig up. Has anyone else been busy preserving?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Loose change

I've been meaning to write this update post for awhile, and am finally getting around to it. (And thanks, while I'm thinking of it, to all who commented on my recent post about feeling parched. I appreciate your encouragement!)

I wanted to share some significant changes in the life of my family:

1. Eric is in his fourth week at a new job. He is back at the local college where he previously worked for 12 years, but in a new and challenging role. He's really enjoying it so far, and we are thrilled to be back at a place we know and love.

2. Nathan is starting preschool in a few weeks! We debated for awhile about sending him now or waiting another year, and have felt affirmed in our decision to proceed with the coming year. He and I attended an open house at the school last night, and we are excited about this development!

3. For the past few years, I've been part of 3 different small groups, all of which are seeing changes this fall:

*Though the group of lovely middle/high school girls I've met with for 3 years has decided to continue meeting, I felt like it was time for me to step away. I will miss them, but hope to have them over once or twice this year to touch base.

*A weekly Bible study I've been part of with a group of wonderful ladies is disbanding due to relocation and family commitments. I'm disappointed, but hope to keep in touch with everyone, as well as maybe get involved in another study.

*I've decided to take on a leadership role in our local MOPS group. I was a small group discussion leader a couple of years ago, and had been thinking I would do that again next year. However, as the summer wore on, I realized I did not feel excited about that particular position. With the help of quiet reflection, Mer's comprehensive questions, and insight from Eric and the MOPS coordinator, I will be stepping into a role I'm really passionate about. I will be organizing service opportunities for moms in our group, as well as coordinating events that will reach moms beyond our Tuesday morning meetings.

4. In an extended family update, my dad has several appointments next week. I will keep you posted as we are able, but we'd appreciate your prayers during this time of uncertainty!

Friday, August 13, 2010

BarGAINS

I've found some really fun bargains lately that I just have to share:

Remember that massive bag of bakery goodies I purchased for $1.75? Well, I was in that town again a couple weeks ago, and couldn't resist checking to see if I could score again. I confess I was giddy with excitement when I saw the bottom shelf bulging with two huge sacks, each at the same amazing price. I considered purchasing both, but decided to let someone else take advantage of such a great deal!

On that same trip of errands, I decided to stop in a thrift store. Unbeknownst to me, the store was about to re-locate, so everything was marked half-off. I couldn't resist these cute shoes for 75 cents! I'm totally not a shoe person, but since I love polka dots, these caught my eye. They're not practical (They have zero traction!) but they sure are fun. Plus, look how well they coordinate with our dog!I also browsed the book section in the thrift store, and was excited to see an unfamiliar book by one of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen. This little book is a new treasure, and the timing of its wisdom was impeccable.

Finally, last weekend, I headed (by myself--yay!) to the city to run some errands. I'd noticed Hy-vee had the kind of detergent I like on sale 3/$8, so I stopped to pick some up. I only purchase the fragrance free variety, and for some reason the price tag by the white bottles said $1.88. I briefly thought about shoving all 20 bottles in my cart, but again showed restraint and chose 4. Well, when I got to the register, the detergent rang up at $2.99. I immediately commented on it, and someone ran to do a price check. When the price was confirmed in my favor, the clerk informed me that I would receive all 4 bottles for FREE! I was so pumped. (Totally thought of you, Kara!) Then I really wished I'd grabbed all 20 bottles. =) To top it all off, my detergent "purchase" qualified me for a catalina coupon that gives me $2 towards my next Hy-vee transaction. Woo-hoo! I couldn't resist taking a pic of all the freebies I scored via coupons and rebates on this shopping trip. I felt so MSM. =)

Thanks for indulging my stories. Do you have a fun recent bargain to share?

*I'd love to help you get a bargain if you or someone in your family is in the market for new shoes. I have a 20% off coupon to Payless that's good until 8/28, and I will happily send it to the first person who emails me with their name and mailing address.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 on the 10th: "White Death"

I've taken a couple months off from Mer's fun carnival of lists, and wanted to jump back in with a humorous post about my unusual taste buds, inherited from my father. I don't know exactly when my dad developed an aversion to pretty much all white foods (giving them the name I featured in my title), but his dislike remains as strong now as ever, and he passed on some of that gene to me.

Here, in no particular order, are foods that are considered part of the "white death" category. I'll place an asterisk next to the ones I partake of, but everything in this list is considered off limits by my dad!

1. Ranch dressing
2. Cream cheese
3. Sour cream
4. Mayonnaise
5. Alfredo sauce
6. Butter* (in small quantities)

7. All salad dressings* (I'll only eat "clear" dressings like vinaigrettes)

8. Most dips* (I like hummus, but anything else you'd dip veggies or chips in=no way!)

To round out the list, here are two similar foods that are permissible to both of us:

9. Ice cream (Hello, how could you not like this stuff?!)
10. Whipped cream (Ditto!)

I'm sure most of you think we're crazy, but I don't feel like I'm missing out. After all, this is my choice, and not an allergy or something. But my dad and I certainly both make up for any calories missed via "white death" in plenty of other ways! My dad has always said he likes two kinds of pie: hot and cold. And I definitely have a sweet tooth!

Hope you enjoyed this random post. You can visit Mer's for more lists of ten!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Parched

An entry from my journal earlier this week . . .

"O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1

I feel so dry and joyless. My patience is at an all-time low, and my thoughts, words and actions reveal that "it is not well with my soul."

This morning a dam broke inside me, and I lay on my bed, sobbing. I'm feeling so inadequate as a parent these days, especially when it comes to discipline/training, as well as planning our activities each day. The irony is that while I've been trying extra hard to plan fun activities with the kids, none of us are having much fun. I'm worn out, and realizing that I've been trying to do it all in my own strength. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness . . . that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

I see a direct connection to the time and intention (or lack thereof) that I've been giving to prayer and the reading/meditation of Scripture. I'm not quite sure how or what to change, but I think acknowledging all of this in writing is a step in the right direction.

Father, I confess to You that I have been increasingly selfish and impatient. I ask that You fill me with Your Spirit that I may exhibit those characteristics I so long to possess: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Please help me to be disciplined in spending time with You so I may be equipped for the challenges of parenting--and life!

"Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Acts 3:19

photo credit: Shutterstock

Monday, August 2, 2010

The other side

This is my final vacation recap, but I had to post once more since we saw some members of my side of the family at the end of our vacation.

After leaving Michigan, we stopped and saw 3 different sets of close friends on the way to our final destination of Kansas City. It was a lot of driving, but a neat chance to see some special people, even if our visits were brief.

My aunt and grandma live in Kansas City, so we got to see them, but we also were able to spend time with my dad and Monica's crew, as they were there en route from Colorado back to South Carolina. We only had two days together, and unfortunately taking pictures was not at the forefront of our minds. Here are a couple, though:

My grandma loves tea parties, and she wanted to host one for all the great-grandkids. Natalie ended up needing a nap, but here are the other 4 enjoying all the goodies. The kids loved it, especially because Nana colored the milk pink!
We girls went shopping one afternoon, and then it was the guys' turn for an outing. Here are Eric and my dad at a Royals game.
Thanks for hosting us, Grandma and Aunt Joanie. We love you!