Saturday, August 30, 2008


Thank you all so much for your prayers and good wishes. I am so thankful to report that both Matt and Darcie are well on their way to restored health.

Matt was able to leave the hospital on Thursday night. He has salmonella poisoning and is on antibiotics. He does not have Crohn's disease.

Darcie is expected to leave the hospital within the next few days. She is recovering well and is also on antibiotics.

On a semi-related note, my hubby is unbelievably sweet. One morning this week, while I was at the hospital with Matt, I mentioned to a visiting friend that I would like to get an Ipod Shuffle for my workout music. I joked that I would be a much better runner, if only had a Shuffle. Matt was on morphine during this conversation and slept through the whole visit.

Fast forward two days. He is finally back at home, and we are preparing to go to bed. I crawl into my side of the bed and am surprised to see a gift bag on my pillow. Inside, I find an Ipod Shuffle and a note that says "Thanks for being a strong mother and an amazing wife when I am not here! I love that I can trust you with everything..."

I tell you, that man is too good to me. And of course, that note meant waaaay more than that ipod ever could! I am just amazed that he even heard (much less remembered!) me talking about it, as drugged up as he was. And the fact that he left the hospital and went to the store, feeling like he did! That man is a keeper. :)

Unbelievably, the Discount Food Store is closing next week. I can't believe it. This store has been a lifesaver for my grocery budget over the last year and I am really disappointed that it is closing.

But, the closing of the store is a great impetus for a new challenge. Mary at Owlhaven is doing another 30 Days of Nothing for the month of September. She is starting with a stocked pantry, and a large garden, and hopes to spend no more than $200 on groceries in September...for her family of 12. Wow.

Since my Shop Local Challenge a year ago, I have routinely spent about $200 a month on groceries for our famly of 5, relying heavily on the discount food store.

With the Discount Food Store closing, and food costs reaching unprecedented heights, it is going to be quite the challenge to keep my grocery costs within the $200 a month range. But, you know I am a sucker for a challenge!

So, for the next 30 days, I will be challenging myself to feed my family of five for around $200 a month, or $50 a week. The main objective is to supply my family with nutritious and fresh food on a budget. I will be documenting what I purchase each week, and how much I spend. Additionally, I will documenting our weekly menus, including snacks.

What falls into the grocery category? Well, obviously, all food items. Additionally, all paper goods, home goods (light bulbs, trash bags, cleaning supplies, etc), and body care items (shampoo, conditioner, razors).

Now, I do have one caveat: items that my husband buys without my sanction do not count toward my grocery budget. So, if I ask him to run by the store for me, then those items will count toward my grocery budget. However, if he decides to stop and pick up ten boxes of Sour Patch Kids on the way home from work, then I am not counting that in my total for the month.

Additionally, I did not decide to do this until today. My pantry is not well stocked. I have not been stockpiling groceries to see me through September. What I spend in September is an accurate, feasible budget for our family. I have no idea whether I will be able to cook well for our family and friends on this budget. I may go way over. I may not. That is what makes this interesting. Plus, it is a great way to be reminded of the abundance that we enjoy every day. Even with cutting way back, and being more frugal with our grocery spending this month, we still have much, much more than we need. It is good to be reminded of this.

So, what about you? Want to join me? Set your own budget, your own guidelines. Choose another area of spending entirely. It could be eye-opening. Check it out...30 days of nothing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


My hubby and my nine year old sister are both in the hospital, four doors apart.

Darcie is having her appendix out at five, just like Madeline. They think it may have ruptured yesterday. She is in a great deal of pain, and is terrified, as this is her first stint in the hospital/surgery.

We still aren't 100% sure what is wrong with Matt. We know he has colitis, which we suspect was brought on by salmonella poisoning. Out of our group of thirty in Jamaica, nearly half became sick at some point, and five are in the hospital now. We have narrowed it down to the jerk chicken that was served at the farewell reception at the beach. We are waiting on one final test to confirm that it is salmonella poisoning, but feel pretty sure that is what ails him.

I covet your prayers for our family.

I have many posts rolling around in my head, but they will have to wait for another day!

Darcie's surgery ended up being twice as long as had been expected. It was supposed to be a laparoscopy, but once they started, realized the rupture was very severe, and had to make a large incision. They found her internal organs covered up with infection, as well as a lot of fluid around her reproductive organs. Thankfully, we have a family friend that is an OB/GYN and he ended up assisting with that aspect of the surgery. Darcie is recovering now and will have to stay at the hospital for at least a week. Mom is beating herself up for not taking her to the hospital sooner, though our pediatrician assures us that there was no reason she would have. All the symptoms Darcie had were similar to a common virus, and she had seemed to be getting better. In fact, the Dr. said that when she started feeling better was probably when the appendix ruptured. We are all a little shaken up by how dangerous this ended up being...and she isn't out of the woods yet.

As for Matt, he still has a fever of 103 degrees, even after being in the hospital on morphine and two kinds of antibiotics since last night. They have identified the pain on his right side as being from the colitis and salmonella poisoning (his upper and lower intestines are infected). He is also having pain on his left side and that is what they are having trouble pin-pointing. They also have not ruled out the possibility that he has Crohn's Disease. So, he won't be going home in the morning, or probably even tomorrow, for that matter.

Even in the midst of difficulty, however, there are always beautiful gifts that leave me feeling humbled and so, so grateful. The support of our friends and the care and compassion they show us is truly astounding. My phone has rang off the hook today (not to mention blog comments, facebook messages, and emails) from friends all over, offering kind words, gifts of food, willingness to help with the boys, and visits by many at the hospital. The joy that comes from living in community is so heightened during times like these and I am so thankful. I am sure this will warrant a post of it's own at a later time. For now though, my sister-in-law and brother are at the door, spending the night here with the boys, so I can go be with Matt, and to relieve Mom.

Friday, August 22, 2008

JAMAICA!I can't believe I am really, truly in Jamaica! I am sitting in my room this morning, my hubby just left for a round of golf, and I am experiencing relaxation and leisure in a way previously unknown to me. Our suite has a patio that overlooks the sea, clear and blue.

Last night, at the welcome jerk reception on the beach (with flame throwers, beach drums, and men on stilts saying "no worries, mon! You are in Jamaica, Mon!"), there were security on the outskirts of the party. When I asked about it later, I was informed that Jamaica is very dangerous, and we should not leave the resort under any circumstances, unless it was a planned, guided event. Our bus driver said that the minimum wage here is US $50 a week. As we drove here from the airport, it was plain to see, by the houses on the side of the road, that many of the people here in Jamaica are very poor. I wonder how they view people like me...these americans, coming to vacation in luxury. Are they happy to see us, knowing that we will spend money? Or do they harbor a veiled contempt for us? I wonder. I verbalized this to Matt yesterday. This trip is absolutely blissful and I am so, so thankful to be able to enjoy it. But I do feel little twinges of something. Guilt, maybe? It just seems so wrong, to have so much, especially when surrounded by poverty on all sides.

But it is like this at home too, isn't it? There are people all around me, struggling to make ends meet, to provide for their families. Even just a few streets from my house, people live without air conditioning, are on welfare, live under the poverty level. Maybe it is just the stark contrast of it here, that makes me think about it more. I don't live like this at home, obviously. I don't lounge around under an umbrella with a drink in my hand on a daily basis. Too, at home, I am distracted. I am taking care of my children, our home. Important things. The most important things for me to be taking care of. But there are other things too...other people, that are in need, around me. But sometimes is takes a caribbean vacation to see them.

Other thoughts, of a different nature, of our time in Jamaica, here.

*creative commons image from gailf548 on

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

CHECK OUT MY FRIEND, JENNY!My dear childhood friend (actually, the very oldest friend I have. Friends since birth. Literally.) Jenny, is now a fabulous, creative, inspiring photographer. And, she has the opportunity to win an incredible prize/experience. Will you please check out Scarlett Lillian today and vote? Lots of fun eye candy and creativity on that site! We are rooting for you, Jenny! Also, you can check out more of Jenny's work at her blog and her website!

Friday, August 01, 2008


We are heading back to the beach for this next week. The house we are staying in doesn't have internet, but I am hoping to steal away to a coffee shop a couple of times, and finish up my Bringing the Beach Home Series.
I am hoping to spend lots of fun time with the boys, playing in the sun and sand, as well as spend a few hours running on the beach, praying, planning for our fall, and catching up on lots of reading.
I hope you have a wonderful week!