Monday, January 25, 2010

Somewhere along the way of giving birth to four little boys, I became an angry person.
Or maybe I always was angry but never had circumstances to bring it out.
At any rate, it is here in my heart and it shows itself in the most unbecoming ways.
It shows in the sharp edge of my tone, when I answer the same question from my two-year old for the tenth time in as many minutes. It shows when I close the door just a little harder than necessary, to make sure the boys know I am not happy about the way they are carrying on. And if you could read my mind, it would be obvious in the fuming thoughts that tumble around in my brain...angry that I am tripping over my husband's shoes, that the kids are bickering, that the laundry is piling up, etc., etc., etc.
It doesn't really matter what it is that has makes me angry so much as why. And the why is because I am not getting what I want. What I want is a house that is always clean, with children that never fight and a husband that always picks up after himself. That probably won't be a reality any time soon, so I have two choices.
1. I can continue to be angry, contaminating the energy of our home and making everyone miserable -or-
2. I can change my perspective.
My husband may or may not start putting his shoes away. In the meantime, I can be thankful that I have a husband who is a hard worker, a loving husband, and a kind father. If he wants to take his shoes off in the dining room, it is a simple thing for me to put them away for him and takes a lot less energy to carry them to the closet when I am heading to the bedroom anyway, than to berate him and feel frustrated that "I have to do everything around here".
Instead of being angry that my two-year old talks non stop, I can be thankful that all my children are healthy and that I am able to be with them all day to answer their questions.

In 2010, I want to adopt the practice of putting off my negative, angry thoughts and replacing them with thankful, happy thoughts. I am going to deliberately and consistently change my thought patterns, through prayer and my husband's encouragement, and doing it again and again and again. I know how powerful our thoughts are to shape our reality. I experience it first hand when running. When I am running, and am tired and ready to quit, my body follows my thoughts...if I think "I am so tired, there is no way I can run another mile" then I guarantee you, I will turn home early. But if I consciously think to myself "I am not tired. I could run all day. This is easy" then almost magically, my footsteps get lighter and I feel a rush of energy. It is the craziest thing!

I am going to start meeting weekly with a woman counselor at our church. I am so excited! I love counseling. It is kind of like scratching an itch. It is uncomfortable but feels so good at the same time. My husband does marriage counseling and I often tell him that I wish I could go for counseling. I asked last night, and she said she had an opening and could start meeting with me!! I am looking forward to the accountability, looking at myself honestly, answering hard questions, and growing and maturing. I may or may not be able to change my circumstances but I can change the way I respond to them.

This year, my word is JOY and I am looking for it everywhere.
JUST A QUIET MONDAYI try to stay home on Mondays. The kids are always tired and out of sorts from a long day at church the day before, and the house needs some attention to bring it back to order. Today went the way that I wish all Mondays did. We had a nice balance of work and play. The sun was shining and we hung laundry out for the first time in months. We picked up toys in the yard...I tiptoed around big muddy patches while the boys, of course, made sure to go straight through the wettest puddles.

I started back in earnest with flylady this morning. Oh my goodness, you wouldn't believe the layers of grime that is on the windowsills, fan blades, and baseboards of my house. GROSS. How have I not noticed?! Too tired, I guess. I am not freaking out though. I started on the current zone, the living room, worked in 15 minute increments of time and can already see a vast improvement. The kids were armed with feather dusters and rags and spray bottles of cleaners and had a big time.

I finally feel like I am living my old life again. I never realize how hard pregnancy and having a newborn is until afterward. It isn't until I am doing all the things again that I wasn't doing while I was pregnant to even realize that I wasn't doing them at all. Does that make any sense? It struck me, as I was hanging clothes on the line this morning, that it has been probably a year since I had done that...but I didn't realize it had been that long, until I was doing it again. It felt really good.

Now it is time to bring the laundry off the line and remake the beds. Tonight, we will have sweet dreams under sheets that smell of sunshine.

Monday, January 18, 2010

EATING FROM THE PANTRY, 2 (pounding roasted chickpeas into flour to make socca)

I spent $85.38 at the grocery store last week, which is more than I normally spend in a week. I mostly stocked up on staples, as it was a good week for sales at our grocery store...most of the money I spent went towards stocking up on toilet paper, olive oil, peppercorns, wheat pasta, etc. as well as fresh vegetables we were running low on. I am trying to become consistent at shopping the sales cycle, so I stocked up on several items that I knew were the lowest I would find them for several months.

I went into our local produce place too, after several weeks of only shopping at the grocery store. I fell into a conversation with the owner and learned that they are perilously close to having to close shop, due to slower and slower sales. I am recommitting to spending at least $20 a week of my food budget at L & D produce...I love their local fruits, vegetables, honey, and yard eggs and want to do my part to support a great local family business. If you live in the same area as me, I hope you will shop at L & D too. We will all be missing out if they have to close and it is well worth the few extra minutes and the marginally higher cost to shop there, in my opinion.

I did well cooking out of the freezer this week and we enjoyed a nice variety of different foods. I will say though, my husband's job is to sell food to restaurants, so we do have a pretty varied stockpile. He is often bringing home samples or foods he bought on sale that can seem pretty random!
A few of the meals we enjoyed this week:

-Ostrich burgers in lettuce wraps with zucchini chips
-venison meatloaf with pureed cauliflower, peas, green beans, and corn on the cob
-socca wraps with lettuce, grilled chicken, greek dressing, and feta cheese
-ale-broth venison stew with homemade pumpernickel bread
-salad with black beans, corn, salsa, and cheddar
-salmon with a balsamic reduction, on a bed of spinach with gorgonzola and pecans (yummy!)
-homemade wheat waffles with agave (we were out of maple syrup)
-fried eggs on ezekiel bread
-green smoothies
-fruit salad (made from frozen mango, peaches, and blueberries)
-chocolate cake with icing
-almond meringues ("cloud cookies")

This week, I plan to spend significantly less at the store, only buying staples and redeeming my rain checks from last week for almond milk.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

LET THEM EAT CAKEAs I have said many times before, feeding my family well is something I really put a lot of time and energy into. I enjoy the process, start to finish, from meal planning, shopping, cooking, and even washing dishes. For the most part, our family eats a very balanced diet with an emphasis on whole foods and a minimum of processed items. I generally follow the advice of popular food author Michael Pollan: "don't eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food".
Today, I detoured from my normal food preferences, and really hit my stride, at least in my children's opinion. In one dish, I made their every gastronomic dream come true.

Pillsbury chocolate cake mix + Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting + multi-colored sprinkles = children's culinary delight.

I made it last night after they were asleep. I had purchased the cake mix and frosting for pennies (on sale and with coupons), with the intention of giving them to the food bank. Except that my two year old got into them when I wasn't looking and made them unfit for donation.

Their eyes lit up when they saw the cake sitting on the counter this morning. They stood by the dessert table at our church's fellowship meal, pointing out the cake and excitedly telling anyone that would listen that THEIR mom brought that cake.

It's funny, often when I am cooking, I think to myself that when the boys are grown and out of the house, they will look back fondly on the healthy, good foods I made for them. And maybe that will be the case, I don't know. Right now though, a boxed cake and canned icing makes me the coolest mom around.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

RESTIt's raining outside, which makes it feel even more cozy indoors. An easy dinner is cooking in the oven, an ale-brothed venison stew that makes the house smell all yeasty and delicious. Paired with the pumpernickel bread that is rising on the stove top, it should be a warm and simple winter supper. Hearty, one dish meals are my favorite way to eat...and cook. Everyone is home this afternoon, engaged in our own activities but enjoying the proximity of each other's company.I bake and cook and putter in the kitchen, reading the paper, nibbling on dark chocolate and thinking about what I am reading in The Supper of the Lamb and Grace Based Parenting. I fold a little laundry. Nurse the baby and kiss his fat baby cheeks (oh, those cheeks!!). Some play video games or work puzzles or read the paper. Others nap. After a busy week, the slow, unhurried week-end feels like a long exhale.

Today, home feels like a sanctuary rather than a pit stop, just the way it should.

I hope your week-end is restful and restorative too.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

EATING FROM THE PANTRYYesterday, I was looking at my (semi-long) grocery list and dreading going to the store. On a whim, I decided to take EVERYTHING out of both freezers, pantry, and fridge and make a list of everything I had on hand. After filling 5 (!!!) notebook pages, I decided to jump on board Money Saving Mom's Eat From the Pantry Challenge for the rest of January. There are no hard and fast rules but my personal goals for the remainder of the month are:
1. To make good meals out of what I already have on hand.
2. To spend as little as possible at the grocery store from now to the end of January.

I don't want to get to the end of January and have to do a massive re-stocking. The goal is more to use up foods that are getting close to being past their prime, make room for foods that will be coming in season in the next few months (strawberry season is just two months away!), and to challenge myself to be creative in the kitchen. I will keep a running tally on the side of my grocery spending too. I didn't keep my receipts but I think I have spent about $60 this month at the store so far. However, I am just keeping track from today through the end of January, since I am not sure.

So far, I have come up with about 20 meals that I can make without buying anything from the store and I know there are plenty more things I can come up with once I peruse some of my favorite cooking blogs.

On another note, I don't really make big resolutions at the beginning of the year but I do love the idea of having a word that really sums up your aspirations and focus for the coming year. I am still working on what I want my word to be but I do know what my main focus is going to be (I will save that for another post). I also have a list of things that I want to incorporate (or re-incorporate, as the case may be) into our year. One of them is regular blogging. I really miss it and am hoping to carve out regular time for it 1-2 times a week this year.