Soup for my soul

What is it about these rainy January days that serves to chill you right to the bone? My goodness, everything in my body feels like it’s frozen and it’s dreary out but I can’t drink any more coffee if I want to sleep sometime in the next decade, you know?

Thankfully, Sylvi has inherited my love of soup. Although, she may have been influenced by the alphabet soup in I Stink. Anyone on Facebook knows that my daughter is obsessed with the story… so much so that the entire family and most people who spend time in our presence has the entire thing memorized. This tiny little girl is completely enthralled by garbage trucks and it just makes me laugh.

Anyway, back to the soup. I love potato soup, but I will say that I feel like it’s a lot of work and then I have to stay in the kitchen while the potatoes cook and all the stirring… yeah. Anyway, this is a relatively quick prep meal and can cook slowly all day in a crock pot. The only part that needs to be cooked separately are the onions. If you don’t cook them before adding them to the potatoes, they really, REALLY taste like onions. Otherwise, this is low maintenance and your house will smell so comforting.

I like my soup to be thick enough that it doesn’t immediately drip off the spoon, so I put the least amount of broth in, but you could totally make it thinner. Also, you can adjust the seasonings, the type of broth, even substitute the dairy sour cream for a non-dairy one. This soup can be what you need it to be taste or nutritionally, but it will always be just a simple soup to warm you up on a cold, dreary, Winter’s day.

Crock-pot Potato Soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 quarts, chicken broth (plus an additional quart if you want a thinner soup)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • garlic salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
Chop the onion and saute in a large pan with the butter. Cook the onions slowly so that they retain their inherent sweetness. While they are cooking, peel the potatoes and chop them roughly. Add the potatoes, the broth, the seasonings and the onions to the crock-pot and cook on low for 8 hours. When the potatoes are done cooking, use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Add in the sour cream and any additional broth to make it the consistency you desire. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese and fresh parsley on top.

The days of soup

I’m a huge fan of soup. I’m not always very good at making the soup though. I was spending a lot of money on soup from Panera and Pacific foods up until about a month ago when I got tired of a tiny little Sylvi downing my entire $5 cup of soup before I even got back to the table. She and I had discovered the broccoli cheese soup and I was reduced to eating it either in secret or after she went to bed at night. On one such night, I realized I had a laughable problem: why was I behaving like this when I could just learn to make my own soup for a fraction of the cost?

I did a good deal of reading online before I set forth. I wanted a creamy soup and I must tell you that the answer I’d been looking for came in the form of an immersion blender. I had no idea how awesome that tool was when I bought it on a whim 3 years ago. My little red Cuisinart immersion blender had spent a lot of time in the kitchen drawer until I started making soup and realized how valuable it is. You could always make this in a regular blender, but let’s be honest: it’s way more fun with an immersion blender 🙂

Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • half a stick of butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I did try this with vegetable broth and while it was very good… the chicken makes it the most like Panera’s soup.)
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely shredded
  • 1/2 pound finely chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup shredded Monterary Jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
Saute the onion until soft in a soup pot. Whisk together the melted butter and flour in the soup pot. Add the garlic and onion powder, whisk well and then stream in the stock. Add the milk, carrots and broccoli and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then reduce to a simmer. When the carrots and broccoli are tender, remove 2 cups worth of the vegetables and take the pot off the heat. Puree the remaining vegetables with an immersion blender and stir in the cheeses. Return the carrots and broccoli to the soup, mix through. Serve with crusty bread and revel in how much money you saved making it at home!
*** Are you looking for more soup recipes?  I made this Red Bell Corn Chowder from the fabulous Whitney Ingram last week. It’s from her original blog, Rookie Cookie and I’m so excited to find it her cook book that she’s working on right now! Follow the progress and drool-worthy updates here.

Pantry Comfort

One of my favorite comfort foods is Stroganoff. I don’t really care what’s in it, I’m here for the sauce. And the egg noodles. My grandmother makes it sirloin steak strips. My father made his with mushrooms while we were practicing vegetarians. Depending on who I plan to serve it to, I now use ground beef.

This is definitely a budget version of my grandmother’s recipe, but it doesn’t alter the flavor. It freezes very nicely and if you don’t like egg noodles, it’s wonderful over rice as well. By the time I make supper tonight, it’s supposed to be in the single digits, so I’m looking forward to this warm meal with a side of green beans. Yum!

Stroganoff

  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms (optional, I don’t like them so they aren’t ever in my home 🙂 )
  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef/turkey, thinly sliced sirloin steak or Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef (or vegetable if making the mushroom version of this recipe) broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1 pound egg noodles, cooked
Melt the fat in a large saute pan, add in the onions and garlic and cook until tender and fragrant. Remove from the pan and brown the ground beef. When the beef is cooked, remove it as well, but reserve the drippings. Again, in the same saute pan, heat the drippings and stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and flour.  Whisk in the flour and sour cream until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Taste and season accordingly. Return the onions, garlic and beef to the pan and stir to combine thoroughly. Serve over egg noodles and top with parsley.
**Note: If you want to substitute in the mushrooms or steak, you’ll still need to cook them separately until cooked to your liking. The rest of the ingredients can remain the same, unless noted otherwise.

 

WIP – Triangles and Hexagons

I didn’t get much work done in the sewing arena this weekend. Instead I cleaned and organized the storage area in our basement and began tackling my crafting area. Since I’ve added a new reason to hang onto my fabric scraps, I need to figure out a better way to manage them. Anyway, I didn’t start my next project until yesterday afternoon. I had hoped to get all the pieces cut and some piecing begun before evening, but the kids had other plans for me 🙂

For this quilted pillow pattern, there are two designs and I have all the cutting done for the hexagon pillow, but need to finish the white fabric for the triangle pillow. I’ll get there. I picked this project to work on now so I can have some practice with piecing triangles. My project after this is a baby quilt that has a lot of angles and I want to have some experience before tackling it. That nifty little Hex and More template up there is invaluable. I absolutely love it!  I’m cutting 2 1/2 inch triangles and 4 1/2 inch hexagons without fear!

Last night, I attended my first Quilt Guild meeting as well. I brought my quilt for Sylvi’s bed along to show off and was glad I did because I fessed up to my sloppy method of binding it and finally got an explanation of how to do it correctly! I’m actually looking forward to binding my next quilt now! They have a challenge that is due in September and I’m thinking I may use it as an opportunity to make smaller projects using different patterns.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced today for Work in Progress Wednesday! Click here to see what others are linking up with!

I’m using the power of the internet quite a bit now. I search for You Tube tutorials to go along with the stills I find on websites, books and magazines for technique. The more I chat on Facebook about what I’m doing, the more people tell me they too are fabric fans. I discovered a local quilting group through Facebook and am excited to attend at the next meeting. I’ve only been really working and learning for about a month, but I’m already so excited. I don’t have a lot of experience, but it will come in time… besides, what I lack in experience, I feel I make up for with enthusiasm.

If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry

You’re supposed to be reading a well thought out post about my home organization. It was going to be great and I was really excited to share how we are taming the daily beast lately. Considering today, though… I’m thinking I’ve goofed.

Sylvi is back to waking up long before my alarm goes off, so I start my day pretty early. I am feeling pretty calm and collected on a regular basis. It’s nice, you know? This morning, I had all our beds made before Matt even left for work, the kids and I were dressed and I had pancakes on the griddle. At 930, I was shocked to walk into the living room and realize I was supposed to be babysitting and the family was here. Uh huh, I tried to be cool and would have never mentioned this, but it definitely sets the tone for how under the bus I was for the rest of the day.

Morning: manageable. Then, 45 minutes after my extra charges left absolute insanity hit. Thus far, my philosophy on parenting has been to stay one step ahead of the short people. Oh and remember where I set the dirty diaper. For the most part, this goes well for me. And then, I get overconfident and try to bake a cake while the kids are eating lunch, get distracted by Lord knows what, resume the cake baking and get it in the oven only to realize that the house was silent. I went to investigate only to find my children hunkered down behind the 25 year old child-sized rockers in Sylvi’s room. The overwhelming smell of Burt’s Bees baby powder hit me in the hallway from behind the closed bedroom door. They had managed to dump out at least 50%-75% of the bottle on the floor: Liam was scooping it up to “make art” on the walls and Sylvi was scooping it up to eat it.

I called my wisest mom friend who then told me to call poison control. While on the phone with that kind lady, I herded the kids into the bathroom since they were ghost white from all the powder to prepare to bathe them. She asked for the ingredients on the bottle, so I left the room only to hear a loud crash and Sylvi try out her newest word: “oops”. In the corner of the shower/bath, we have a tension rod with baskets on it. It took two adults to install it 2 years ago. However, the two small children who climbed in the empty bathtub who decided they wanted the shark in the lowest basket managed to yank the entire thing down, which then almost took out the shower curtain.

Listen. When the lady from poison control wishes you a “less eventful” afternoon, it’s a sign you’re not a wimp and it’s ok to take a break. So I dressed both kids and informed them we were all taking a quiet time. This of course did not occur until I discovered a missing bottle of body wash in Sylvi’s room. Said bottle of body wash, has a pump on top. I have visions of the kids bouncing up and down on that pump while I wrestled with the tension rod in the bathroom. Regardless of how the soap managed to get on the floor, it got there. I just stood there and laughed. At least my floors are really clean.

I have a terrible headache, can’t stop thinking about chocolate and am counting the moments until back up arrives. But, I now know beyond a shadow of doubt, silence is certainly not golden and tension rods loosen their hold over time. The point of this quite laughable story from my day is really to myself. Had this kind of a day happened 2 or 3 years ago, I’d have called my husband sobbing and begging him to come home because I didn’t trust myself to remain calm. Today, I called him to ask if he’d mind stopping at the Y to pay our membership fee. Considering the day’s mayhem, it’s probably better if I don’t attempt to take my little hooligans out in public. 🙂 Yes, today has been hard. Yes, today is not over. But today, I realized that I needed to stop and take a break. My husband won’t be coming home to a tidy house or children in matching clothes, but that cake that kept me from being attentive to my children’s mischievousness was amazing.

Crunch Munch… Lunch

Confession: my weakness is the Taco Bell Crunchwrap. It started when I was pregnant with Liam and Mexican style food was the only thing I could sort of keep down. Ever since then, I think it would be fair to say I have a problem. As in, if the thought of a Crunchwrap passes through my head at 10am, I can’t get it out of my head until my belly has been filled with 500+ calories of sodium.

CRUNCH!!!!

For some reason, although I’ve been eating them for years, I was under the impression that there were refried beans in the Crunchwrap . And for this mistaken reason, I put off trying to make it in my own kitchen. It took me quite a while, but I did figure out a fantastic recipe for refried beans. I didn’t take a photo because, well, pureed beans aren’t… pretty.

Crockpot Refried Beans

  • 1 pound dry pinto beans
  • 9 cups chicken broth
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
Put the beans, broth, onion, garlic powder and salt in a crockpot.  Set the temperature on low and cook for 12 hours. Remove the onion from the pot and strain the beans, but SAVE the broth. I have always made my beans in the food processor, but this time I used my immersion blender… I’m a convert. Smooth and silky, they were the perfect texture! Add in the milk and as much broth as you need to make it smooth. The beans get firmer as they cool, so make the beans a little bit watery. Season to taste.
To assemble a Crunchwrap, all you need are large tortillas, small crunchy corn tortillas and whatever filling you desire. I made the refried beans, rice, taco meat, cheese sauce made with Monterrey Jack Cheese and 3 slices of white American I also had salsa, shredded cheese, lettuce and sour cream for the sides. Pile and layer your fillings before folding up the tortilla and then grill. We have a George Foreman grill; it’s pretty quick to set up and use. So yes, it’s still not a candidate for nutritious meal of the year, but man is it good. So, amazingly good. I am trying out freezing a wrap and some of the beans to see how well they hold up for advance pre. I am hopeful. 🙂
Sadly, my husband took the opportunity to use some of the dozens of stockpiled Taco Bell sauces to add an “authentic” flavor and according to him, the addition made it “perfect”. I made mine with just rice, beans and cheese and a full 2 hours later am still pleasantly sated. Obviously, by making this meal at home, I have control over all the ingredients AND I can make it whenever I’d like… errr… experiment with fillings.  Ahem.
And thus ends my tale of addiction to cheap fast food. Have you ever tried
a fast food remake of your own?

Work in Progress Wednesday: My debut post!

Liam's quilt... photo taken artistically so you can't see that it appears a 3 year old made it... because he kinda did.

When I turned 30, I asked my husband to take me to Amish country and let me buy the material to make a quilt for our bed.  I mean, seriously.  How hard could it really be?  If you can sew a straight line, you can totally quilt, right? Wrong. You have to cut in a straight line AND pin AND sew AND press AND THEN… you have to cut things like a 12.5 inch square or manhandle massive lengths of fabric and the worst part… make your own bias tape.

Sylvi's finished quilt
Quilting detail on the back... not too shabby!

So yeah. Did some cutting for that quilt and started piecing. I made a mistake, cried over it and then put the material in a drawer afraid I’d really screw it up. Along came Pinterest and I thought to myself that if I suddenly had all these patterns and tutorials, hunted down by other people with a seemingly endless amount of time on their hands, I could perhaps suck it up and try again. In December, I made Liam this super, simple (what I now call a “cheater”) quilt. It wasn’t hard. I didn’t make any mistakes really, other than to let the kids sit on my lap and “help” while I tried to sew. Also, I learned how to make bias tape and consequently wondered why on Earth I’d never so before.

Valentine's Day applique project

Roughly two weeks ago, I realized my husband’s work hours were about to get nasty and I’d be alone at home with kids who were recovering from the flu for most of January. I panicked and started hunting up projects. I went on a fabric binge and shopped for material to make dresses for Sylvi. And then, it dawned on me she needed a quilt as well.  I headed out to a fabric store, with the Moda Bake Shop pattern in mind and started fabric hunting. I came home with two charm packs in the Paris Flea Market pattern, soft flannel backing, white sashing and a polka dot pattern for the binding. Last night, I sat back and looked at the finished product and felt an incredible amount of pride.

Pillow tops to be quilted for our bedroom... colors will then go with whatever we decide to use for the top quilt.

Of course, now that I have 2 major stitching projects under my belt, I feel like it’s time to try some other shapes.  🙂  I spent another weekend in Amish country and came home loaded with dress fabrics, this pillow project and fabric to begin a quilt for my friend’s baby due later in the Spring. My Pinterest board is filled with ideas and plans for the future… I’m thinking it might be a good idea to try some mug rugs so I can get some more piecing experience.

Up Next: Cutting pieces for this baby quilt.

I get to join in on blog link ups now!  I actually have a Work In Progress!  I have plans and goals and lots of fabric… also, I’m stalking the mail carriers because a paper pattern should be delivered before supper today and any day now a shipment of fabric should also arrive!! Although… as a note, I’m realizing that as I scroll through all these blogs and I read the instructions, I just want to spend my time sewing so be forewarned… my home is a mess, our meals are… easy and I will probably not respond to playdate requests right now.  I’m addicted to creativity!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Are you feeling crafty lately?  Share what you’re working on in the comments!

All the colors of the rainbow

As I mentioned in my New Year’s post, I’m planning to be a little better focused on our preschooling efforts.  I don’t want to expect too much from Liam as he is only 3 and a half, but, I figure I should set some quality groundwork if we are going to be successful when the time comes to do our official homeschooling. Lest you think I’m over-thinking this, I’d like to remind you that this is the very same reason why most families send their children to a preschool before launching them into the great unknown of formal schooling. So we do the same… just at the kitchen table… or the floor… or the backyard.

Today, we worked on colors. I love color. My favorite way to teach color and get some activity is to use this DK book and have the kids find things from the pages to match the colors.  We also have this puzzle from Crocodile Creek, so depending on the attention span, we can make categories and have a pile of cars or food from the play kitchen under each puzzle. Sylvi needs a lot of help with that puzzle to make the matches, although she does enjoy doing a “big” puzzle, I usually set her up with this one from Melissa and Doug.

Sylvi doesn’t know her colors, but Liam does and so this is a great way for me to do something with them together.  We read our color books and do matching puzzles or games. We color hunt through the house and recently, I added a version of ISpy to keep them moving. Plus, having them work together, they get some practice at cooperating and treating each other kindly while doing so.

While Sylvi naps in the afternoon, Liam and I work on “school”.  Typically speaking, our focused time is less than half an hour. We do a variety of things choosing activities from my Pinterest board or we read and do a craft. Sometimes, we’ll even read, do a craft AND watch a show that corresponds with the topic. Liam likes to play with play dough this year, so I made a large batch of plain play dough and he’ll mold or color on it with markers.

I’m fortunate enough that I have my library card number memorized so when Liam mentions a topic he’s interested in, I can sit down, look up books and add them to my reserve cart at the library branch my aunt works at in a matter of minutes. Working on topics and skills this way, Liam and I get to be relaxed… he doesn’t have to leave his house (he usually asks if we can “just stay home” instead of going out and about) and I get to watch his face light up with realization with new concepts. Please don’t read this post and think we have it all down pat, though. Today started out perfectly and we all had a great time reading and collecting the items, but while Sylvi napped, Liam broke all the crayons I gave him and then threw a fit when I asked him to pick up the magnet letters.

So you know… life with preschoolers, right? Learning color is a difficult concept since there are so many shades of each color, but it is still very fun to teach.  Of course, Sylvi is more interested in the colors pink, purple and red. Liam loves red and blue. Neither child thinks orange (my favorite color) is all that special. To each his own, right? 🙂

What is your favorite thing to teach your preschoolers?

The recovery in the change

Welcome to the January 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting:
Recovering from the Holidays

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about how their families get back to normal after the holidays are over.

 This post went live last week in error, so I apologize to my regular readers for seeing it again, but I do encourage you to scroll to the bottom of this post and check out the rest of the posts from our NPN participants!

Hmmm… how do we recover from the holidays around this kitchen?  Well, in past years it took at least a week. Eating rich foods, staying up absurdly late far too many nights in a row, plus the stress of crazed travel? We were always sick and grumpy the next week. This year, though, I didn’t want to repeat the drama, so I made changes.

I didn’t send out hordes of Christmas cards and photos. I sent out 52. The rest, I just handed to people. We didn’t have massive baking days, I did what I could as I could. I started shopping in July and while I was still wrapping on December 20th, it was peaceful. All that to say, as we prepped to leave the house each day for our events, I kept mulling to myself how all the time I had spent getting myself organized was paying off.  Christmas morning as we slipped out pajama’d children into the car, I actually thought “easy peasy, lemon squeeze-y” as I drank my homemade mocha and settled in for the long drive.

This year there really isn’t a recovery. And for that, I am grateful. My 3 year old has returned to his sweet self now that the anticipation is over. Their gifts were very carefully thought out and I am so grateful for the generosity afforded by not only our current financial status, but in the hearts of our family. The blizzard that forced us to be home bound in the days following Christmas was quite possibly one of the greatest blessings. Instead of feeling compelled to rush out to the store and find storage bins so I could kick the home into top organization, I simply unpacked and wrote thank yous.

Instead of rushing to prepare meals, I was grateful for my panicked Christmas Eve Walmart run for fruit and lettuce. To recover from our holiday meals, we ate fruit and chicken and whole grains. We put together puzzles for days and I watched the kids create train track masterpieces and paint elaborate stories. We watched movies and played games. I folded diapers and washed the sticky kitchen floor under Sylvi’s chair.

This year, I didn’t really need much of a recovery because it was honestly the best Christmas I’ve had in the past 8 years since Matt and I started dating. This year, I wasn’t up all night with sick or nursing babies. I wasn’t dealing with horrible morning sickness. We hadn’t lost family to cancer or babies or miscarriage. Although we were busy and spent a lot of time in the car, we were peaceful. I don’t think life has changed so much as my heart has. Perhaps, just perhaps, my recovery started after last Christmas when I decided it was time to take care of myself. In the last year we’ve become a healthier family: physically, emotionally and mentally. We’ve grown and learned and loved one another more deeply.

Life may not always be so peaceful and easy, but I’m going to enjoy every second while it remains. I learned many lessons in 2012, but perhaps the most important thing I learned was that in order to truly recover, you must be willing to change. In my case, that change was long awaited and much appreciated!

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting this March!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • Pinterest Inspiration for Easier Winter Holidays Shannon, writing at Natural Parents Network, shares inspiration for having more relaxed winter holidays from their Handmade Holidays Pinterest board.
  • Seven Recipes for Beans – Post Holiday Cleaning — Destany at They Are All of Me shares her favorite bean recipes that she hopes will help her body recover from overindulging her sweet tooth during the holidays.
  • The Recovery in the Change — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen made changes in her life and attitude throughout 2012 and was pleasantly surprised at how those changes impacted her holiday recovery!
  • Could this question change your life for ever? — To get your new year off on the right footing, Mrs Green of Little Green Blog is challenging us all to love ourselves with commitment and discipline. She asks you to focus on a simple question which might just bring you back in balance…
  • Holiday Recovery — Meegs at A New Day talks about how the holidays can be overwhelming for a toddler, and how she’s helping her 3 year old recover.
  • 5 Ways to Detox After the Holidays — Brittany at The Pistachio Project gives a few ways to help you detox and get back on track after the holiday season has passed.
  • 3 Simple Ways to Establishing Rhythm After the Holidays or Any Time — Sheila at A Living Family shares 3 simple ways to reestablish a rhythm of connection and calm in your family after holidays, visitors, travel or any time.
  • Gemstones For Holiday Hangoverss — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama delves into the power of gemstones as an often overlooked means of dealing with the holiday letdown.
  • Getting back to Healthy — Bess at A Warrior Mom talks about the struggle of getting young ones back to eating healthy after several days to weeks of getting more candy and sweets than normal for the holidays and gives some suggestions on how to get them back to eating healthy in the new year.
  • Post Christmas Juice Feast — Sam at Love Parenting explains why she has created a new tradition of juice feasting, and how she includes her toddler when detoxing.
  • The Java Monkey On My Back — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs realizes it is time to kick her cup of Joe habit as a first step toward detoxing.
  • Minimalist Holidays — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn’t find much need for recovery after her minimalist version of the holidays.
  • Do something for you — Lauren at Hobo Mama urges you to find a silly and indulgent reward of me-time — and she has hers.
  • do we recover? — Kenna at Million Tiny Things wonders what recovery really means in the context of the tragedies of this past holiday season.
  • 37 Easy Ways to Save Money — Shannon at GrowingSlower is sharing these money-saving tips to help get your budget back on track after the holidays.
  • A Two Year Old’s ResolutionsThat Mama Gretchen is putting the holidays behind her with a spin on traditional resolutions — New Year’s goals for her two-year-old! Sound crazy? Read on for an explanation!
  • How to Find Balance after the Holidays — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her favorite ways to start a new year with hope and calmness.
  • Fresh Awakening — For Luschka at Diary of a First Child, the new year has coincided with a return to restful nights. With sleep, she’s found new directions in life, but while she can’t make too many changes to her life right now, she’s inspired and excited about the future.
  • Learning to slow down after a busy Festive Season Stoneageparent describes the joys and lows of this year’s festive season, as well as her New Year’s resolutions.
  • Detoxing’ Your Toddler After the Holidays — Does your family suffer side effects from the holidays? Join Christine from African Babies Don’t Cry to learn how she detoxed herself and her toddler off the treats and festivities of the season.
  • Scheduling is OK! — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep explores the possibilities of the — SCHEDULE!!
  • Holiday-Free but not Stress-Free — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot takes it easy after moving with her husband and new babies to Scotland.
  • A Vacation from the World — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children retreats with her family at the end of every year in order to recuperate and enjoy one another.
  • On the Road to Recovery — Dionna at Code Name: Mama isn’t just recovering from the holidays, she’s recovering from a lifestyle.
  • We Never Left the GrindErika Gebhardt compares a typical day pre-holidays and post-holidays.
  • Remembering and Recovering from the Holidays (One day at a time) — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM is recovering from holidays slowly–taking one day at a time–while trying to remember all the sweet moments that passed too quickly.
  • 5 a Day — To get back on track Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy needed a simple system to help her family learn new values.
  • Holiday Detox & Healing: Bieler Broth — Megan at The Boho Mama shares her secret for a gentle, whole-foods-based post-holiday detox: Bieler Broth!
  • I’m Mama Not Supermom — After a year filled with changes Angela at EarthMamas World has to remind herself that she does not have to be supermom while recovering from the holiday chaos.

 

 

New Year, New Perspective

I rang in the New Year quietly. Sylvi was battling what we thought was the flu, and so she went to bed early and I stayed home while Matt and Liam went to a friend’s home to play games and hang out. We’ve become less and less social in the years since having a colicky baby that made outings awkward, so I was glad for him to have the chance to get out of the house. Although neither of us ever really crave much as far as social events, it’s still nice to break out of the routine.

Last year, I spent New Year’s Eve nursing a baby who would not sleep and somehow decided that I would be spending the next 365 days being more intentional in my life. I got up the next morning and hacked and slashed my way through my involvements. 2012 was a year that challenged me, but in ways that helped me grow as a person, mother, wife and friend. I got back to regular journaling, ditched the family blog and kept up with the baby books. When I look back on 2012, I feel that although it wasn’t my most productive year, it was one of my best. I love that I saw (and have memories of) so much beauty and love, no matter the circumstance.

So then as I pondered another year of my life beginning, I considered that this would be the year to focus on Grace. All to often I don’t even try a new recipe or skill, talk to someone new, attempt a longer distance in running or gosh, even get dressed because I’m afraid of failing on some level. I crave perfection from myself and the thought of not living up to expectations, even though they may not be realistic holds me back. Last year, I started taking care of myself through exercise and sit here typing knowing I can run for 40 minutes when this time last year, I could barely get through a 5 minute free run in my fitness class. I tackled an indoor triathlon in October and when I hopped off the treadmill, I struggled to not scream in victory.

What would we all do if we weren’t afraid of letting ourselves down? Who would we reach out to in friendship if we weren’t afraid they’d judge us? If we could learn to be gracious with ourselves, could we allow for flaws in a project with the realization we stepped out and tried?  If we could learn to be more gracious with others and give them the understanding and mercy they may not necessarily deserve but need, perhaps the time spent mulling over hurts would simply fade away. This year as I wrote out my goal for myself, I have kept in mind that above all I want to develop an attitude of grace toward myself and others.

  • Complete a quilt for Sylvi’s bed
  • Finish decorating our master bedroom and work on a quilt for the bed.
  • Plant a vegetable garden, putting by as much as possible.
  • Continue writing for Mom’s Clean Air Force
  • Continue writing for The Green Phone Booth
  • Contine writing for Natural Parents Network
  • Complete the Clearfork Warrior Dash (June)
  • Complete the Bucyrus Y Triathlon (May)
  • Complete the Healthy Homes Tri (July)
  • Complete the Lifetime Indoor Tri (either April or October)
  • Continue regular interval training so as to improve my running time.
  • Swim 500 meters in less than 10 minutes
  • Continue with regular dates with Matt!
  • Begin preschool materials with Liam
  • Teach Sylvi her colors
  • Finish out the MOPS year as the Publicity ST Member and pray about continuing in 2013-2014
  • Lord willing, add another baby to our family (pregnancy is always on my mind!)
I’m still learning a lot about the blog world even though I’ve been online since 2007, and I’ve discovered that this blog cannot be pigeon holed. Well, I suppose the title is, but I am looking forward to talking more about my family, my projects, homeschooling, fitness and faith as this year progresses. I had intended to start this blog entry with an apology for not posting this 5 days ago, but then… where would be with my intent for more grace? So instead, I leave you with excitement for my year, plans swirling in my head, but acceptance for life as it may be in my heart.