Feb 102017
 

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date night nice

One of my anxieties with moving, a fear of mine actually, was knowing friends and support systems are not a given and often take a long time to form.

We had lived in 3 different communities before landing in Small Town.  In none of those first 3 communities did we form what felt were solid friendships; we were in the community but not a part of the community.  Perhaps if we had stayed longer, those budding friendships would have solidified into something more.

Once we moved to Small Town, it took over a year to solidify a friendship with my neighbor, even longer to get to the point of canning together or starting the roadside stand.  This friendship ended up growing so much, we now refer to them as “aunt” and “uncle”.  It took my kids several more years before they asked, “how exactly are we related to Aunt and Uncle?”  :)  Blood does not always make a family.

It took 4 years, after joining the rural community, before I joined the local MOPS group and began to make a few close friends, which also resulted in participating in my first Farm Market Swap.

Farm Market Swap collage

During the years of having small kids, my husband and I were not always blessed with the ability to take time for ourselves, to get away as a couple for a few hours a week, or even once a month. At times it was possible, but at others it seemed like we came back to a situation that was harder than if we had just stayed home. (The idea of a weekend away was out of our realm of reality at that point.)

Often, we had to settle for coffee and a movie at home, hoping to not wake up the kids and not to fall asleep before the end of the movie.  Those first months were filled with kids scared to go to sleep, scared that you would not be there when they woke up, scared of … night time was not a good time, which was a shame as the days were filled with hyper-vigilant, hyperactive, inquisitive, take-life-by-the-horns, I-know-best kids.

As they grew a bit older, things calmed down some, but the anxiety is always there in the background.  Now we were dealing with official  diagnoses of ADHD, and unofficial sensory and trauma related issues, as well as lesser known issues that come with ADHD beyond the attention and hyperactivity issues. (here,too, but there is a bit of language.) (This was a great read for me recently, helping to connect some of the dots to other issues I otherwise could not find the cause of.)

The mere idea of moving brought me anxiety.  Not only was I going to have to meet a lot of new people, but my kids were going to be reminded (subconsciously) of times in their early lives, when things were not consistent, when there was a lot of loss, when they had no control.  I was anxious about how they would react. However, a move was happening and we would have to deal with the outcome.

My husband was excited to find out the local YMCA had a monthly Kid’s Night Out, where parents could drop their kids off for a few hours of games, fun, and pizza.  I was less than excited. Way less. The mere idea made my stomach start to knot up. My husband could not understand why, though he found out after the first night we tried.

See, the time to drop them off, it began about an hour before the kid’s bedtime and lasted for up to 3 hours.  Night time is the worst time of day for our kids.  Their ADHD behaviors, their sensory/trauma issues, and developmental issues have been a struggle all day, making their brains tired.  Their bodies, however, act as if they are full of energy.

Jack gets so overloaded with things (noise, activity, expected social behaviors) that his brain goes too fast for his body.  He then runs and hides in a quiet place, or turns in circles (vestibular sensory seeking), or hits, or … he does not handle it well, especially when tired … an hour before bedtime. (Yes, our kids go to bed early, but they also sleep 11-12 hours still.)

We tried it once, was well as a three day Holiday Day Camp where I had to clarify a few things with the director on the second day or risk one of my kids being kicked out, before agreeing this was not working for us.  We mentally set ourselves up for a year+ of home date nights and switching off if one of us needed to be gone in the evenings.

Been there, done that, we have the cappuccino mix at home.

(The picture below shows a ‘date lunch’ where we took the kids with us.  They sat at the corner side of the table watching a movie, while we were on the other side having cake and coffee; they got some goodies too.  They were not allowed to talk with us until the movie was over. Sometimes, you do what you need to do.)

cake children coffee shop date afternoon line

Then … then, we continued to visit a particular new church.  George loved the kids’ activities and new people.  Jack, well, it was hit or miss at first.

Being a new place, we did not share the unique aspects of our family.  For starters, we did not know these people well.  Secondly, not everyone reacts the same way when I share things.  Sometimes they judge our kids (or us) before taking the opportunity to get to know us.  Thirdly, I was hoping our kids would handle the change calmly at first.

In the past, unfortunately, it has often been the case that in these situations, that the adults in charge say, “Sorry.  If your child is not willing to act in these socially acceptable, calm ways, s/he can not be here.  You will need to come with them or keep them with you.  It is too distracting and hard for us.” I have missed quite a bit of church these past few years due to kids not being able to handle/exhibit the expected behaviors.

Much to my surprise that is not what happened at this church.  After one obviously trying Sunday morning for the kids’ teacher, I determined to go early the next week and talk to the preacher’s wife.  She was one of the few I had met whom I felt would hear me out and could then direct me with whom I should talk.

Keeping things to ourselves was obviously not working.

This talk turned out so much better than I could ever have imagined.  As we were talking, she stopped me and said, “I think you should tell all of this ____.”  The person she said?  The only other lady in the church I knew, the one who had told me the week before that their household is never quiet because she and her husband were such extroverted people.  That comment alone made me want to become her friend immediately.

These ladies and I missed all the beginning of church that week as I shared everything – how we became a family, struggles of ADHD, some other learning/developmental struggles they may face.  I also stated the fact that if my kids were not adjusting well to the kids’ classes, they were welcome to sit with us.

What I got was – “Well we were just discussing this in our morning meeting and how to handle it … do you think having an older teen with them would help?  … I will let the teacher know not to call on them to read out loud the harder passages … we could move them to a younger class, but that might cause more issues (and explained why) … how about we try these out and see how it goes?”  They offered a few other options as well.  I came away feeling more encouraged than defeated.  It was an unexpected change for one.

A few weeks later, I got an email from the teacher asking, “How can I help him/them while in class?  What can I do to not make things worse?”  WHAT?!?!  Not only was this person still willing to have them/him in class, but also asking what to do to make things easier for my child!

I cried.

Then I put together a response, explaining a few struggles that were probably appearing, how they might manifest themselves, and list of basic things that seem to help me in that situation.

valentines cupcake decorating children collage

Last week, my husband had mentioned the youth of this church were hosting a Kid’s Night Out this coming weekend, so the parents could have a night to themselves (for Valentines Day).  If you had said this a month ago, I would have dismissed it.  By now, however, I told him I thought the kids would do well and we should take advantage of it.

Why?

  • The kids knew the adults.
  • One of the teens has watched the kids during mid-week gatherings and did fabulous (actually will try her as a babysitter this month).
  • The setting was familiar.
  • The group was small.

Though there might be a bounce house (shhh) and other activities, I doubt it will be as loud or chaotic as the ‘Y’ was. (Please do not think we do not like the local ‘Y’; we are actually going there weekly for a kids exercise class and it is going fabulously.  Of course, it is a small group and does not last for 3 hours.)

This year, for one of the few times in our marriage, my husband and I will get a chance to “celebrate Valentine’s Day”.  Though it is more like – “having a date near Valentine’s Day” as we don’t really celebrate this day any different than other date nights.  The first year of our marriage we did our taxes and didn’t even realize the date until we had to sign and date our forms. Yup, we are such romantics.

If your significant other or someone important in your life is as oblivious to the day as my husband and I are, you are in luck.  Bring them some coffee (bought with a gift card?) and a cookie and they will thank you for your spontaneous gift.

If they are not so oblivious, you need to get a move on with something beyond a card signed with your name.  How about a gift card to their favorite store?  Or one to use to take them out for a special evening, while earning points back?

Do your Valentine’s Day shopping through Swagbucks and get cash back for all your purchases!

The best part? Through Valentine’s Day, select retailers are offering double cash back or more! Just click here to sign up for Swagbucks and learn more.

If you don’t know about Swagbucks, it’s a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like shopping, watching videos, discovering deals, searching the web, and taking surveys! You redeem your SB for gift cards or PayPal cash.

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me and spend at least $25 in shop, you’ll get a 200 SB bonus!

Jun 062016
 

Ever get the urge to clean when you are angry, frustrated, depressed, feeling like life is out of control? I find cleaning helps me get things back into perspective with throwing dishes against a wall.  Please tell me I am not the only one to feel this way…

Today I got some surprising, bad news. Someone passed away who had made a large impact on my life, who I was around every day for years when I was a teenager. After shedding more than a few tears I looked around for something to do, something active. Dishes (washing, not throwing) and laundry were not going to cut it this time.

“Well, the closet rods and shelf need to be cut and stained …”

After a quick look on the internet, to review the staining process, I gathered supplies and headed out to the garage.

cutting closet wood

It has been almost an hour, my mind has worked through memories, my hands have made progress on cutting and sanding, and I feel more even keeled emotionally. I also feel more motivated on this part of the project to get the closet finished on the inside.  Sometimes all it takes is starting.

The 9 week Intro To Shop class in 7th grade seems to have paid off. Not only did we make a cutting board, but I learned how to smooth sharp edges off the corners of boards by hand. You never know which lessons will stick with you and be needed later, much later, in life.

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After the kids were in bed, I thought about heading there myself.  As tempting as it was, I was exhausted after all, my better side won over and I headed back out to the garage to stain the wood.  The stain needed to dry for several hours before I could put on a final coat of polyurethane, which will take all day to dry properly.  I know that if I waited till the morning to stain I would rush the drying step.   Better to get up and do it right then, allowing it to thoroughly dry overnight.

This morning I was glad to have completed this step last night, as I am able to keep up the momentum and get this finished between breakfast, morning routines and laundry.  With the next few days holding out-of-home activities, and me wanting to get our closet to the point where we can hang clothes, I can use all time saving steps available.  Yes, it meant staying up another 45 minutes, but it saved hours today.

staining closet wood

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Feb 222016
 

This post contains some links that are affiliate links.  If you click through and decide to purchase something I will receive a small portion, at not extra charge to you.  I hope you find these links helpful to your day.Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

The Chocolate Mousse in the picture collage above sounds so very good right now.  I think it has a lot more to do with my scratchy throat than my desire for chocolate.  This also started with George, proceeded on to Jack, who thinks sucking his fingers is fully acceptable.  It was no surprise then when my husband came down with the cold.  He also seems to catch every cold going around, and never just slightly.  I, however, seem to rarely get sick and thought I had made it through this without catching it.  At least I know I will get over it in a few days.  My poor husband has already been dealing with it for 4 days and has a few more before he is out of the woods.

These past few weeks have held grocery trips were I have not needed to buy a lot of the ingredients for our meals.  This has allowed me to buy specialty items or restock on items we  have gone through.

Ibotta sent me $34.75 in rebates.  This is for previously purchased groceries, things I would have been purchasing anyway.  If you have never used this program, I recommend it.  It is easy to use and there is a variety of products offered.  Often they have rebates for produce that I can not find elsewhere.  If you sign-up by clicking this link, you can earn a $10 bonus after submitting your first rebate.

I also redeemed my points earned at Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.  My thought is to use this gift card in conjunction with Amazon Pantry. The idea of having some of my weekly shopping list delivered directly to my door is awesome.  I am trying to reduce the amount of time I spend in the stores.  Not only do I notice how sluggish I become while in stores, and the fact that I get a headache, but my kids also do not like to go shopping.  They sure do like to eat though, so I have not completely given up on this activity.

We already use Amazon to purchase various items, usually in bulk. Have you used Amazon’s Prime Pantry before?  What were your thoughts?

Breakfast:

  1. Eggs with peppers and onions, hash browns and tea
  2. Cereal
  3. Cereal
  4. Muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Crepes, bacon, fruit

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. OYO
  3. Pizza
  4. Meatloaf
  5. Kheema, rice
  6. Chili, corn bread muffins
  7. Sandwiches, chips, fruit

Supper:

  1. Marinated meat, apple slices, peas
  2. Tomato soup/hot dogs, chips, fruit
  3. Black Bean Burgers, fried potatoes
  4. Tomato soup/leftovers
  5. Buttermilk pancakes, fruit syrup, fruit
  6. Falafel, flat bread, side salad
  7. Eat out

Linked up at This Week for Dinner and OrgJunkie.

Feb 072016
 

cleaning kitchen floor collage

Friday, out of frustration I cleaned. At least the broom would not yell at me, try to do things the hard way and then whine about it,  and I could do something about the eternally frustrating, never ending crumbs and bits of dirt that seem to appear overnight on our wood floors.

There are still areas that need a lot of attention, but the floors are swept and the entry way actually feels inviting.  The laundry is also almost caught up from having been given a back seat this week.

Friday night, my friend mentioned their family was going to be in Small Town on Saturday and was wondering if their son could give our kids their guitar lessons (one of our Christmas gifts to the kids) at our house.  Otherwise they would have had to drive back to their Other Small Town and we would have had to drive to their Other Small Town for the lessons right after this lovely family finished their errands in my Small Town.  “Of course!” I responded.  “Why don’t you also come a bit early and have breakfast with us?”

I had no special plans for breakfast, my bedroom is a mess, there is at least one section of the counter in the kitchen that has items which have been waylaid on their journey to their rightful homes, the board game shelf is over flowing, and…and…and… AND these are friends.  Friends are more important than an immaculate house.

These are also friends who value their limited free time.

These are friends we do not get to see often enough.

These are friends who are not expecting a fully set table with linens and silver wear, imported coffee and hand squeezed juice.  They are friends and they are welcome at our house whenever and for however long, or short, the time.

What did breakfast end up being?  Buttermilk pancakes, bacon, bananas, eggs, juice, and coffee.  Again, nothing fancy but it really is oh so good and a great breakfast to have a conversation over.

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

Last week I tried 4 new meals.  3 are repeats.  1 took way too long to make.  1 cost way too much. 1 was very flavorful, even Jack has asked for it again several times since.

The 1 that took too long ended up being the one I will not repeat again.  While it was good, it was not great.  The flavor just did not deliver.  We have the left overs in the freezer, so we will see it again on the menu at least once.

The one recipe that cost way too much seemed to also not deliver on flavor … until the final step.  Even the recipe mentioned this would happen.  They were right.  It was a beef stew that had a bottle of wine as part of the ingredients.  The instructions called for half the wine to be put in at the beginning and the rest at the end.  The same for certain spices.  The difference was amazing.  Even my husband was amazed at the difference between the 10 minutes I took it out of the oven and when it made it to the table, finished.  We will adjust it to our liking, including adding more vegetables and less meat.  Again, we have enough left overs to make a second meal in a few weeks.

The one Jack really loved also took a bit of time, but I know now how to help shorted it.  A lot of the marinating process can be done before the meat is put into the freezer, which is what I do when I find meat on sale but do not yet need it.  This step would save me a few hours of prep time the day I want to make this meal.  After that, most of the steps are “Apply this rub and cook.  wait a gazillion hours.  Take from the over and let it sit.  Cook sauce and pour over meat.  Enjoy!”   I think I will also be looking for a boneless option next time at the store, as I used a lot of time cutting the bone out of the meat.

The one recipe that did not cost too much, nor take too much time, and still delivered on flavor was a Black Bean Burger recipe.  It is not going to knock your socks off in the flavor area, but it was for sure not bland.  My husbands verdict? “Needs more onion but is a great substitute for ground beef in burgers.”  Sounds like a win to me.

eggs toast grits breakfast

This week may hold a few new recipes, though they will be soups. I am balancing this with cleaning out some of the freezer and using up some remaining breakfast items. Hopefully no meals that take a lot of time to make.

Breakfast:

  1. Shakes, cereal
  2. Cream of wheat and grits till they are gone.
  3. Pancakes from freezer

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. Salad
  3. Chocolate chili
  4. Party – Sandwiches, fruit, dessert
  5. Pizza
  6. Curry and rice
  7. New Recipe

Supper:

  1. Super Bowl Party/jam and cheese sandwiches
  2. Tomato soup/freezer leftovers
  3. Butternut Squash Soup (new recipe)
  4. Freezer leftovers/tomato soup
  5. Hearty Lentil Soup (new recipe)
  6. Salad
  7. Leftovers

Linked up at This Week for Dinner and OrgJunkie.

Mar 142012
 

 

It is official.  I took the plunge and scheduled a tea for next week with a few friends.  I have only been to a tea once, so I’m not exactly sure what I need to plan.  Any suggestions?

Okay, this is a small diverance from gardening realated topics, though in my defence this is in preparation for a Garden Tea bridal shower.  So, see.  It is related.

I decided the best way to test out new recipes was to, well, test them out.  My friends were more than willing to be a part of this.  As an added benefit, as if it were needed, I will be meeting a new friend at this tea.  This particular gal is a friend of one of the other ladies and moving to our area.  What a great way to meet and get to know each other.

As of now here is what I am planning:  almond biscotti, cranberry-orange scone, heavenly scone, pumpkin scone, finger sandwiches, and fruit (one of the friends is bringing this I believe).  Yes, it is a bit heavy on the scones, but I am trying to figure out if three types are too many, if any of the recipes are ones I don’t really like, or if this is a good assortment.  I think there is a fourth recipes I have, but I cann’t remember off the top of my head.

As far as tea, since everyone has their own particulars I plan on setting out an assortment of black tea, rooibos tea, mandarin orange chamomile tea, and vanilla honey chamomile tea.  I will need to look through my cabinets to see if I may have some random others.  One of the friends coming may bring some of her’s also, if I ask her, as she has more of a fruity taste preference than I do.

When I get it all made and recipes figured out I’ll be sure to share it with you all.  I’ll also come back and link to the recipes that I have gotten from online.

As a side note, this is a small step in me working towards my yearly goal of practicing hospitality more.  At least if it totally crashes, it is just for some friends who are more than gracious in encouragement.