Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guest Post

Remember Me?

Look how big I've grown!

Can you believe it took them more than three months to name me Smudge?  What kind of a name is that?

Menu Day & Recipe

Last week's meal planning didn't go as, well, planned ... nor did last night's supper for that matter.  Regardless, of the glitches I continue to press forward.  Here's what I have on the supper menu this week.

Since I forgot to turn the oven on last night, Mr.B and the littles had toasted scrambled egg and fried bologna sandwiches w/ a garden salad.  They LOVE this sort of food.  Me? not so much, I chose a bowl of raisin bran cereal.

Tuesday -  I'm going to try to get yesterday's supper on the table this evening:  meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes, buttered corn
Wednesday - lentil & spinach soup, garlic bread sticks
Thursday - crunchy shrimp scampi, rice pilaf and a spinach, apple & walnut salad
Friday - pepperoni, green pepper & onion calzones
Saturday - black bean burritos, Mexican rice
Sunday - roast w/ gravy, roasted root vegetables and a garden salad

What are you planning to cook this week?

Spinach, Apple & Walnut Salad
(adapted from Keeping It Simple web-site)

2 apples, cubed
4 tbsp. lemon juice
8 c. fresh spinach
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 c. walnuts OR pecan halves, toasted
crumbled goat cheese OR shaved Parmesan cheese

Toss the apple cubes in 2 tbsp. lemon juice.  In a small bowl whisk together remaining lemon juice, olive oil, cider vinegar and honey.  In a large bowl toss apples, spinach and dressing.  Top with toasted nuts & cheese.
4-6 servings.
NOTE:  the original recipe calls for walnuts and crumbled goat cheese; however, since goat cheese is not a readily available ingredient in my region & I often do not have walnuts, I substitute pecan halves and shaved Parmesan cheese.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"They are grown men ..."

Each time our "big" boys come home to visit Mr. B gets a little sideways with me.  Why?  Because he says I continually treat them as if they are still boys. 
To be truthful, I have had a difficult time "cutting the apron strings".  O.K. I admit, I keep trying to re-tie them. But it is really, really hard to let the big boys be grown-ups when the following takes place:

:: AB, who is now 27, arrives home with strep throat & insists that he thinks it will clear up on it's own in a couple days.  I loaded him in the truck the next morning and took him to the clinic.  Two doses of antibiotics and he was feeling almost well.

:: I go upstairs and peek into the boys' room.  It literally looks like a tornado touched down in there.  AB (27), JP (21) and EJ (10) are "hanging out", aka wrestling.  Not only do I need to tell them to settle down but also remind them that I am not a maid.  I instruct them to make their beds and clean up.  A few moments later while in the kitchen and I hear JP say, "Hey, if you guys don't start helping me clean, I'm going to tell mom."

Yeah, they're grown men alright.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Will I Ever Get Used To ...

When I wrote about our family moving to a VERY rural area, did I mention that the population of our entire county is less than 950?  No, that's not a typo.  To say there are a few cultural differences is an understatement.  As the title of this post indicates, "Will I ever get used to ..."

**  Receiving telephone calls from complete strangers inviting us over to their home for a social?  Yup, that actually happened last week.  After finishing the phone call Mr. B asked who had phoned.  Here's a recap of our conversation.

Me: "Oh, that was Mr.O.  He and his wife are having a social for the area home schoolers this Friday.  He invited us."
Mr.B:  "When did you meet them?"
Me:  "I haven't."
Mr.B:  "Well then how does he know we home school and how did he get our number?"
Me:  "Welcome to small town America.  It appears that EVERYONE in two counties know who we are, that we home school, where you work AND they even know our address and phone number."
Mr.B:  "humm."

The children and I accepted the invitation and had a wonderful time.  We not only met two new home schooling families but also had an opportunity to get better acquainted with two other families we'd met back in November.

**  Writing a personal check & NOT being asked for multiple forms of identification, two phone numbers, and a sample of my DNA.  Again, everyone knows everyone up here.  Although many folks do not know us personally, everyone seems to have an unquestioning trust trust for anyone who lives in the county.

**  Teen aged girls and moms of teen aged girls volunteering babysitting services, although we've only briefly met one time!  Where we come from, one is wise to be VERY cautious when hiring childcare personnel. 

**  Not only are the cars left unlocked, these people leave their keys in the car!  I'm sure they all think we are totally paranoid - not only do we lock our vehicles, but we also set the anti-theft alarms. 

**  Unlocked houses.  Yes, it appears that EVERYONE up here leaves their homes unlocked as well.  One of Mr.B's co-workers left his house unlocked while he was out of town for three weeks.  When Mr.B asked why he would do something like that, the co-worker responded, "Well, it's winter & you never know when someone might need to get inside to warm up."  By the way, a fellow church attendee recently stated the same rational when OG inquired why folks around here leave their homes unlocked.  I wonder what their answers will be come summertime?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More Christmas Photos ...

Below is a "keeping it real" photo.  It's me giving my annual speech:  "This is the wrapping paper & packaging bag.  Please open gifts one at a time and carefully to ensure that yours, or someones else's, gift(s) do not get lost or thrown away in all the mess.  Again, be sure to put your wrapping paper in THIS bag after opening EACH gift."  Yes, I do ... I give that speech every year.  No, I am not a neat freak.  I do not tolerate any drama from gifts getting accidentally tossed in the trash.

OG & EJ's Christmas photo for the scrapbook.

Our ONLY 2011 family Christmas photo - and yes, EJ is grabbing himself (BIG sigh): story of my life ...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Making the Transition

If you glance to my sidebar, you will notice that I've changed my profile description.  I removed the Titus 2 verse and have replaced it with a sentence inviting readers to follow along as I chronicle our family's transition, not only into a new home, but also into a new community and a new culture.  I believe chronicling our family's transition is part of obeying Titus 2's command for the older women to mentor the younger. 

The need or desire to move to a new area has never been a necessity like it is now for many families.  Although reports indicate a slight improvement in our nation's economic downturn, I continually hear of families and individuals having to make the tough decision to leave their established communities to obtain employment.  It is my prayer that our family's experiences will be a light of encouragement to others who also find themselves not only in new communities and new cultures but, far away from extended family and friends.

I have many acquaintances whom I know to various degrees.  However, I have only two friends.  In my world friends and acquaintances are not the same.  I hold my friends as dear and close to my heart as I hold my own family.  I can be 100% me with my two friends.  They know me and have seen my good (which is pretty great), bad (which is really bad) and my ugly (imagine the bottom side of mud - yuck!) AND they still choose to like and love me.  They are my loudest cheerleaders and, besides the Lord, my greatest supports during times of trials.  I know that if I need something, these two ladies will be there to help me anyway they possibly can.  I truely love them they way I love my own family.

I am a fairly friendly person who doesn't have too much trouble finding and making acquaintances, but since I have trust issues (yes, I wrote that out loud) it is very difficult for me to make genuine friends.  Right now I am trying to figure out how to live day by day, week by week without the companionship of my friends.  Yes, we have the telephone, e-mail, the postal service and prayer, but being 1,500 miles away from them has forced changes in our relationships.  Most days I am fine.  I have LOTS to keep me busy therefore, I don't have much time to dwell on how many miles actually exist between us.  But, I occasionally find myself desiring to invite them over for a meal, or out to the movies for a chick flick.  My heart breaks when I hear that one has been ill and I'm not there to help lighten her load by cooking supper for her family or running an errand.  Knowing that if they need me to help them, as they've helped me so many times in the past, I'm not there - I'm too far away.  All I can do for them is pray, listen over the telephone or send a note of encouragement.  I can't give them a hug, or hold their hand or cook them a meal.  Yup, cooking meals - that's my thing.

Mr.B and I worked tirelessly and saved to extremity for 15 years to achieve the purchase of our new country home.  During all those years of work and saving, I didn't fully grasp that the Lord could, and eventually would, bless us with our dream 1,500 miles away from "home".  How will this aspect of our transition play out?  Will I recover from leaving my friends?  As time passes will we adjust to the distance between us?  Will I ever have the blessing of cooking supper for them again?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kept It Simple

As you all know from my previous post, this Christmas season found me arriving "late".  However late I felt I was, our children fully expected Christmas decorations.  My philosophy of keeping our Christmas decor simple was a relief this year.  By keeping it all simple, I was able to decorate and take down in only a couple hours.  Since time was a precious commodity this year, I've never been more thankful for my "keeping it simple" philosophy.  Here are photos of our Christmas decor.

Welcome, please come in. - I think the snow capped bows just look like Christmas, don't you?

Yes, we are still using our $5 "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree.  I know this photo makes it look like we totally spoil our children with too many gifts, but we really do bless them with only 3 each - when you have 5 children & a very small tree, it looks like there is far more than there really is.

A little garland & stockings.  The hearth, this is where I really do think less becomes more.  Now, if I could just convince Mr.B to eliminate the television and it's accessories ...

Just a few small poinsettias set in a sugar mold graces the Christmas morning breakfast table.  I like serve our holiday meals buffet style from the kitchen counters.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Belated Merry Christmas & Belated Happy New Year !!

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late .... Yes, this holiday season has been a season of "late" for me.  It hasn't even been a week since we celebrated the New Year & I'm already LOL at myself.

Two house moves within 5 months of each other seems to have been too much for me. Yes! I'm blaming my end of the year "lateness" on that.  It seems many folks, especially my family, think I am super woman and can literally leap tall buildings in a single bound.  I keep telling them they have me confused with another super hero.  Prior to our cross country move in April, it had been nearly 17 years since we'd moved houses.  I was definitely out of practice and that move still didn't get me back up to speed for the 2nd move in October.  I still have things to unpack, organize and an entire room (our basement den) to put together.

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around I was still trying to find my bearings and was relieved that since our big boys wouldn't be home until December 29th, I'd get an additional week to prepare for our family Christmas celebration.  Even with an extra week, I didn't catch up - HA! HA!  We put our Christmas decor and tree up on December 26th!  Our Christmas / New Years cards were mailed only 4 days prior to Christmas BUT THEN 90% of them were returned to us on Dec. 27th for additional postage.  I didn't make it back to the post office for stamps and mailing until January 3rd.  Yes, I did ... I mailed out those happy wishes and blessings more than a week after Christmas & three days after the New Year!  I figured that most of our friends and family would need a little "pick me up" after all the hustle and bustle of the holidays had subsided.  I, being super woman, was totally up to the task of spreading good cheer a week (or two) after the big event(s).

Our family celebration and time together has been very calm and relaxing.  Since our museums and parks are closed during the winter months, we have literally been hanging around the house.  Well, we have left a couple times ... we went to church on New Year's Day.  And when I say we, that includes Mr.B, my dad, AB, JP, OG & EJ (at the last minute BT was not able to make the trip out).  I'm sure as time progresses, I will converse with other church members about my family so, I was blessed to be able to introduce them.  We also enjoyed a nice New Year's pot luck after the service.  We introduced the southern tradition of New Year's day black eyed peas and cabbage to the locals.  A couple days later we drove 45 miles to our nearest "city", population 4,800, for a few electrical supplies - AB has been installing ceiling fans for me, **big smile**.  Yesterday I drove JP 60 miles to the next larger city in the opposite direction, population est. 13,000, for a hair cut, dry cleaning pick up and a Dairy Queen blizzard.  This little drive also afforded JP the opportunity to snap a couple photos of the bad lands. 

Since we have not been out sight seeing or exploring during this visit, I haven't hustled or bustled one bit.  I am really enjoying just cooking (lots of cooking), "hanging out" and relaxing with our children.  Last evening the kiddos played another game of Monopoly ... as usual JP won and EJ cried.  JP has lost only two Monopoly games in his entire life & EJ always cries because JP bankrupts him, and everyone else.  Although I'm not too fond of the crying, the predictability of my children's personalities is comforting.

This holiday season I am totally laughing at my "late" self (and had a couple moments of self doubt, but we won't focus on that),  and have found this Christmas and New Years to be very Merry, very Blessed, very Calm and very Bright.  I pray your holiday season was a joyous as mine is turning out to be.