A New Phase of Life

18 04 2011

I suppose I must consider it growth that I started a blog and did not allow myself to feel burdened by obligation to post regularly.  Although these things are always self-imposed, it is strangely difficult to release myself from them once I start something.  Hobbies become chores, because I apply some sort of weird notion of responsibility toward them rendering them less enjoyable.  I don’t wish to delve into why I have developed in such a way – I just want to change.

And so I am.  Gradually, and not in all areas, but I am beginning to enjoy things just for the enjoyment of them, without attaching strings.  Progress.  I think it all started when I took on more than I could juggle, mentally, and balls began to drop.  When the initial fear and disappointment dissipated, I felt tremendous relief, and then I began to simply throw them.  It was hard, in moments of calm, as guilt about letting someone down tried to creep in, but the truth is that I was so overwhelmed that for the first time, the need to simplify my life was greater than any reasoning that supported continued juggling.  But what to put on the now nearly empty proverbial plate?  That was the question – and it remains not fully answered.

Homeschooling one child was the only thing I was still doing.  And homeschooling a middle-school aged child is not exactly time-absorbing.  She worked independently for the most part, which is the goal by that age.  I was able to keep the house clean and the laundry done, read for pleasure, and piddle with other interests.  And I began to feel restless.  I thought volunteer interests could be the answer, but when my daughter became less interested in Girl Scouts than I, we had a problem.  Another problem was that what I really wanted was to be a girl scout myself, not do all the planning and paperwork.  I taught a small group at children’s church – but that was not the answer, either.  Studying the lesson took longer than the short time I got with the kids – and my nature just put me in the position to take other leaders’ kids into my fold whenever one didn’t show up…which, unfortunately was often.  It’s not that I minded the extra kids, but the idea of these small groups was to foster close relationships -which was near impossible when the group so often changed.

Extra time on my hands allowed me to take better care of myself physically, spiritually and mentally.  It was a good time, really, beneath the surface stress of not knowing what I would commit myself to.  I lost weight, I enjoyed the pleasure of cooking healthy, consistent meals for my family, I had time to read (the only hobby I have ever not turned into a chore).  I got interested in what it means to be healthy – no doubt because I felt better physically than I had in years.  This found me trying to figure out what exactly I needed to do to control my blood pressure without the meds that make me tired.  And when my potassium plummeted a few times, what other than a potassium supplement could be done.  And so nutrition naturally became a real interest.

What did I do with the revelation that I was really interested in something beyond the interest that others around me had?  I enrolled in school full-time to become a Registered Dietician.  I had found my post-mommy calling.  <smiling at myself and shaking head>   Once again, I made an interest into work.  Will I ever learn?

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To My Credit… and Pasta, Yum!!

10 03 2010

Funny how the term “credit” is used to mean so many different things, isn’t it?  I mean, there’s credit and then there’s credit.  Hee hee.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Having returned to college this semester, I had sent for my transcript from my old university, so that every credit I’d earned in the past could be applied to help my wallet and my efforts to reach a goal.  All wapping 15 of them….  Hey! It’s a start!  Last week, I checked to be sure that they had been officially applied, and I learned that they had only applied 12 of them.  The other three had been earned at a community college while I was still in high school and were transferred to the university I went to.  They had been on the official transcript that I turned in to my current college, but I supposed that meant that transferred credits don’t transfer!  So, of course, since 3 credit hours means tons of actual hours spent working and a few hundred bucks, I sent for an official transcript for those too, from the college at which I earned them.  It came today – they were fast! 

When those get applied officially, it will give me 15 hours, and today my daughter pointed out that I was more than halfway through my Psychology book, which should mean I’m halfway through the semester.  She’s right!  I’m 9 weeks in, with 7 weeks to go (not counting spring break, which maybe should mean 8 to go, since I’ll not be “off” but writing 2 research papers instead).  It’s nice to realize that, though, and it is encouraging to see that time is passing more quickly than I thought it would when I started out.  A semester seemed like a long time in December and January, but it is already more than half over.

Pretty soon, I’ll have 27 hours down…and a lot to go.  I was looking at the program last night.  All said, after supervised practice, I’ll have 149 to 158 hours, depending on the path I take that last year or two.  Wow.  I can’t think about that today.  I’ll think about that tomorrow.

I’ve enjoyed my classes so far, and the family support hasn’t wavered in the face of increased household duties for them, which is quite nice.  I spend an unbelievable amount of time doing classwork, which makes me question if I’ll ever be able to take on more than 12 credit hours a semester.  I suppose if I weren’t homeschooling…but though my daughter is ready to try school, I’m not ready to let her 🙂  That, we will leave up to God, who knows best.

I don’t even want to think about that right now.  I’ll think about that tomorrow, too. 

The weather was very nice today.  It was sunny, and although not exactly warm, wasn’t cold either.  We opened the back door and a front window and let the house breeze a bit.  It was very nice to smell the fresh air and feel a stirring in the air.  I can now begin to believe that spring will arrive.  I wasn’t so sure this awful winter.

I actually cooked a real meal today.  All semester I’ve been cooking, so I don’t mean to say that I haven’t been, but I have carefully chosen quick-to-prepare meals and enlisted other cooks to either do it all or help, depending on my classwork deadlines.  The last week or two, I have seen not a reduction in the workload with my classes – that has remained the same, but I am able to do that work in less time, it seems.  So this weekend when I planned the week’s meals, I included a bit more labor-intensive choices.  Today I made pasta with chicken, baked with a creamy basil sauce, with fire-roasted tomatoes, topped with mozzerella.  Yummy!!  We were all very pleased with the way it turned out, and it will be a permanent addition to our meal list.  No, we don’t have an actual list.

I didn’t have a recipe, so if you need one complete with measurements and all, I can’t help you.  I had tried a similar dish in a restaurant and had tried to find a recipe online, but each one I looked at either had things in it that weren’t in the dish I tried, or did not have things that were included, so I had no choice but to wing-it.

I boiled and sliced boneless chicken breasts (grilling would’ve been better, but it wasn’t possible this time).  I cooked some whole-grain pasta, and tossed both with the cream sauce and baked it in a dish topped with mozzerella.  To make the cream sauce, I melted some neufchatel cheese in milk on very low heat, stirred in some basil pesto to taste, and added drained fire-roasted tomatoes.  It is simple and delicious.  Let me know if you give it a try!





Starting up the Presses…Again

12 02 2010

I just read my last post, and it doesn’t seem possible that it was from this fall.  It seems like that was ages ago so much has happened.  It is certainly time to get back into the habit of writing – I have missed it.  I’ll attempt to fill in the almost six-month gap that I have managed to create.

We still have jelly, and frozen apples.  They are being pulled from the pantry and freezer, respectively, as we need them, but there is still enough to last a while.  The jelly is just as yummy and the apples are being used most often in Apple Cake.  (Although I’ll probably be making Amish Friendship Bread for a while in place of the cake, until we get tired of that.)

School with my daughter has become much, much easier.  I think she must have been going through a phase…or maybe it was me.  But she doesn’t hesitate to come to me when she has finished her independent work or when she needs me.  She has matured a lot in other ways, as well, and has taken to doing some of what needs to be done without being asked (like putting the clothes in the dryer if she is closer when it buzzes), and has a better attitude in general.

The biggest change around here is that I am going to school myself full-time now.  It’s a long story, so you may want to grab a snack 😉  I didn’t finish college the first time around, and I didn’t think I’d ever go back.  For almost 20 years, I had not thought of one thing that I was interested enough to want to get a degree in and work at every day.  Since my oldest started middle school (he’s in 10th grade now), I’ve been praying from time to time that God would give me direction, because for the first time, I fully realized and accepted that I would not be homeschooling forever, and would not feel fulfilled staying home after that phase of my life ended.  At first, I thought that I would volunteer full-time, either in one place, or several places, on different days.  This plan seemed like it may be right for the next year or so, as I came upon many places that I would like to invest in. 

It was sometime during October that I feel like God revealed to me his plan for me.  He made me realize that I have always been interested in food and health, and how food affects health and how food can make health issues worse, cause them, or help manage them.  I have always taken a multi-vitamin and other supplements, given them to my children, modified recipes to make them healthier, and just generally been interested in diet.  He revealed to me through my own high blood pressure and family members’ health issues that peoples lives can really be affected by the way they eat.  So I am working toward a degree in Dietetics!   It can’t be my plan, because I would never have thought of it myself, even though in retrospect, I remember my sister jokingly saying once, “You should be a Dietician.” when I was casually suggesting to my mom that she could make a recipe much healthier with a few changes.  I would also have never had the confidence to enroll in college again.  My first go at that was such a nightmare.  I was young.  There just seemed to be so much pressure to declare a major – and nothing interested me that much!  I was trying desperately to take the advice of my advisor, and just take “basic” classes until I figured out what I was interested in, but I got a “C” on an English II paper, and it just simply sunk me like an anvil in a pool.  I had never received a “C” in writing!  And I couldn’t handle it.  I dropped out of every class – unofficially, which means my GPA is laughable. 

After that, feeling pressured to do something, I went to cosmetology school.  I liked playing around with it, with friends and family, but I knew pretty early on that I was not going to do it for long.  I stuck with it about 2/3 the way through, and got put on bedrest early in pregnancy and had to quit.  Frankly, it was a relief, because it gave me an excuse to quit that I didn’t have to feel guilty about.  My biggest problem was that I was trying to please others instead of following my path, and I didn’t have the relationship with God then that I have now, so I didn’t know how He could direct me if I’d just ask.

Homeschooling was His plan, too – I had never heard of it when He placed it in my path as an option, and compelled me to do it.  I have been oh so content following His lead since then, because He was very, very spot on!  I have never doubted for a moment that I was supposed to home- school.

I feel that way about this now, too.  It just amazes me that He didn’t reveal it to me until it was time…I’d have messed that up somehow, I’m sure, probably by either trying to take a few classes to “get started” before His timing came, or by chickening out totally and not going through with it.  As soon as I was sure that I was hearing God right, I sent for my old transcript (15 hours I won’t have to do over) and applied for admission.  When I got my transcript in the mail and my acceptance letter, I immediately made an appointment with an advisor, applied for a student loan and enrolled full-time.

The week before classes started, I felt a bit panicky about having a full class load and wondered if that was a mistake that I’d regret.  Of course, I alternately prayed and cried and believed.  But 5 weeks in, it is going very well.  I’m keeping up, doing well, and enjoying it very much.  Some days I still feel a little overwhelmed, but my super-hero family kicks in and does some of the non-school stuff that’s contributing to my insanity and all comes back to a balance 😉

It’s about time to pick up my daughter, and that’s about as thorough an update as I can manage tonight.





Life and Jelly

9 09 2009

Why is it that there can be so much going on in my head, but when I place my fingers on the keyboard they sit motionless while I struggle?  I suppose it’s just hard to know where to start sometimes…

“What have I been up to?” you ask.  Ok, so you haven’t ask, but for posterity’s sake, let’s pretend.  I need someone to ask today, and since there’s no one around, I shall indulge myself in imaginings 🙂

I’ve been up to lots of things.  I’ve been trying to be a full-time teacher to my sixth-grade daughter, for one.  I have found it easy, as a home educator, to leave my children on auto-pilot for a few hours each day, while I keep other responsibilities under control, but I’ve discovered that this approach doesn’t work quite so well with this child as it did with the first.  Siblings can be so different!  That’s another conversation entirely, and I’ll stay on the current one.  Staying near my daughter as she works, being available to answer questions (she won’t search the house for me like her brother did), asking about her progress regularly (to inhibit daydreaming – or whatever it is her mind turns to), and moving her from one task to another (to eliminate the time wasted when she fails to come to me when she has completed what I have given her) is sooooooo difficult some days!  In case you haven’t concluded so yet, today was one of those days.  By the time we finished the school day, it was 4:50, and I truly thought I would implode before dinner was cooked.  Some momma-chosen tunes and self-control, along with the cooking assistance and companionship offered by my love helped put out the fuse!

I’ve really slowed down in the hobby area, simply because of the lack of time.  I’ve set up and made only a handful of postcard trades since school began a month ago, and letterboxing was completely ignored  through the entire summer (although I did think about it many times).  Hiking is not happening, either, but I have probably spent more time dreaming/planning about where and when I can hike than any other single pleasurable think I have been able to allow my brain to escape to these last few weeks.

My mom and niece came for a visit over the weekend, and it so happens that I had been planning to make apple jelly on Labor Day for two weeks.  My daughter expressed a desire to know how jelly was made, and see the process, so the homeschooler in me delighted at the chance to indulge her curiosity and delight in her eagerness to learn something new, and I forged ahead with it!  Although my mom had made jelly many times when I was growing up, I don’t remember ever helping past the point of helping gather the fruit,  so I had no experience making jelly from fruit.  In college, I made jelly from canned fruit juice once, but that was the extent of my experience with jelly-making.  So, I became excited easily about the prospect of going through the entire process using fresh apples from a local orchard.  That my mom just happened to be here to see the process along and share in the fun, was just perfect.  The jelly turned out great, it is delicious, and though not a requirement, it is  absolutely gorgeous!   But out of the whole experience, I was most excited to learn that you don’t have to have whole apples to make apple jelly.  It may not be a surprise to you, but I was elated to learn that all you need to make apple jelly are the apple scraps!!  The cores and peelings alone result in wonderfully tasting, beautifully colored jelly!  The first batch we made was made from whole apples,  We left on the peels, but tossed the cores and the result was a very flavorful, light peachy-pink jelly, perfect in sweetness.  When I looked at the huge bowl of apples remaining and began to discuss making another batch with my mom, she suggested that I freeze or dry some of the apples for other uses, since there were really enough apples left for two more batches.  It was during this discussion that she revealed that all we needed were the scraps from the apples we  would freeze or dry to make another batch of jelly.  I couldn’t believe it at first, and then it sunk in as we discussed the ‘old way’ and how it would never have allowed for the ‘waste’ of good fruit just for jelly.  True.  And I couldn’t wait to try it.  I am still ecstatic with the result 🙂  And I still think it’s so cool that you can make lovely, sweet, scrumptious jelly from the parts I usually throw away!!!  And to make my new knowledge even more amazing, the ‘scrap’ jelly is much deeper in color – never again will I think of peelings and cores as garbage!

Check out the difference in the color…(the taste is pretty much the same, I think, but my tastes of each weren’t within moments of one another, so there could be a slight difference).

Apple Jelly  Apple Jelly

This jelly still needs a name.  I just haven’t been able to come up with something creative enough – it’s one of those “I’ll know it when I hear it” sort of things…suggestions are very welcome!!

In case it helps, the apples used were Empire, Jonathon, and Cortland.  “Think, think, think.” says Pooh.  😉

We also canned two whole pints (hee-hee) of the jalapenos growing so well in the garden.  I promised you pictures when it was all in full green…sorry about that; I never took photos and now it’s in that not-so-lovely stage, where the lettuce is gone, the tomatoes and bell peppers, some scallions and herbs are still green and producing, but mostly just the jalapenos are thriving!!  Maybe I’ll get pictures during it’s peak next year. 

I’m also getting ready to start back volunteering in the children’s ministry at church.  Not writing for them as I had hoped, but God has other plans for my writing 🙂  I’ll be teaching Kindergarten boys – such cute little bottles of energy and curiosity, and I am very excited about it and implementing the changes that have been made in the progression of the hour we have them.  I am working on a postcard-sized newsletter to send home weekly to update the parents on what their boys are learning and encouraging them to help reinforce it at home.  I need a few creative group activities to use with them in a whole-family group setting, so if you’ve got any ideas or suggestions, they are welcome!

Even though the preceding barely touches the surface in attempt to tell you what I’ve been up to, I’ve sat still long enough and have to move on to something else.





Speeding Through Summer

8 07 2009

I can’t fully comprehend how it is that I find myself nearing mid-July, when I have little recollection of the preceeding summer months.  To say that summer is speeding by would be a simple enough statement.  This July 4 was spent relaxing with extended family at Cherokee Lake in Tennessee.  It was very nice.  The weather was warm and sunny, with only a little rain on the last day, so I can’t complain about the weather, for a change 😉  It’s always so great to have all the cousins together, playing and to listen to their conversations.  I find it absolute pleasure that they seem to just pick up the relationship in all it’s ease, even if it’s been months since they’ve seen or spoken to one another.  Wouldn’t it be nice if adults were so free in their meetings?  We always hold back, wary of the possible judgement or hidden agenda held by the other.  That’s what comes from experience with people, I suppose.

I’ve neglected my site here to lavish time and effort on the postcard trading hobby – it is very enjoyable, and affords me the chance to meet peoples from all over the globe, who have similar interests and agendas for our dealings.  It does take quite a bit of time of organizing, having to keep my online trade album updated with what I have in stock, keep up with addresses, preferences, and such, but it is fun.  I’m indulging myself with more time to spend with the hobby right now, because I know that when school begins, I will have to seriously cut back.

Speaking of school, I am elated that our school district has decided that middle and high schools should begin school an entire hour later than in previous years, but still release at the same time!  I can’t exaggerate the good things that means for our household.  This past school year being the first that we’ve had to deal with considering “out of home” school schedules in 9 years, was quite an adjustment for all of us.  Since I will not send my son, who never seems to be full of belly, out of the house on a meager, cold breakfast, I raised myself from the bed every morning (there were about a dozen exceptions – most exusable because of surgery), to cook his meal at 6am.  Now, you may consult any home educator about this – 6am is early!  Three to four mornings a week, I went back to bed after my son and husband left, which meant that I slept later than I would’ve if I had  not gotten up to cook and laid back down, which meant that home school for my daughter started and finished later than we’d like.  For my husband, this change of schooling type meant that he got a hot breakfast every morning, which he loved, but it also meant that he had to take our son to school and deal with traffic he could otherwise avoid if our son missed the bus.  Even though our son managed the earlier beginning and later ending to his day quite well, he will savor every minute of that extra hour he gets to sleep!

I am also researching Kentucky and its history, which has taken me away from regular hobbies and things.  Right now I’m particularly looking for quirky facts and quotes by Kentuckians.  It is particularly difficult to find quotes from KY women in history, so if you are interested and would like to help me out, it would be greatly appreciated!





Global Warming? Yeah, right!

16 06 2009

We could use some of that “Global Warming” the crazies are talking about 🙂  This is the lousiest excuse for June in Kentucky that I have ever experienced!  It is NOT even hot…what’s up with that?  Pool parties are being rescheduled because it isn’t warm enough to swim…IN JUNE!!!

It’s very frustrating to one who has been pining for summer to get here!  We’re going to have to move south if this is any indication of what a “warming planet” does!  Frankly, I don’t think those guys have a clue about what the planet is doing. 

Subject change.

We’ve been FINALLY “officially” finished with school for four days now, and it still just doesn’t feel like summer break.  I’m not just referring to the weather (that isn’t helping, of course), but to my state of mind.  I guess I’ve been in fast-forward for so long…and there are just still lots of things that I have to do that feel like work, I guess.  The Girl Scout troop that is disbanding will be running through the summer, and I’ve been busy tying up those loose ends.  We’ve got four girls working on their Bronze Award Project, and a big trip planned for the end of next month, and a pool party to try to squeeze in (if we have a warm enough day without rain).  I’ve also been cleaning out closets, cabinets, drawers and bookshelves for a long overdue yard sale.  We spent most of last Saturday cleaning out the garage for that, too.  I’ll be glad when that is over and the big piles of stuff that are all over the house and in the garage are gone, and a bit of cash in hand takes its place.  I’m just having trouble mustering up that last measure of motivation needed to prepare for the sale this weekend…cleaning out some more spaces, making the kids clean out their spaces, picking up some boxes to display things like books in, organizing the sale stuff, putting an ad in the paper, picking up some signs…

<sigh>  Some sunshine would help.  I know it would.  I could use sitting in it on the patio as a reward for myself after getting some of this done.  (I know, I could use the lack of sunshine as good time to do these things while not having to feel like I’m missing out on the sunshine while I work – but that’s just not the way my brain works!)

I also acquired a new computer last week, and I’ve got all the file moving to complete, iTunes to organize, and upgraded software to get used to.  Where did that ability to “go up a folder” by clicking that little up arrow disappear to??  I have to use the back arrow!  Either they are wrong in thinking that’s an improvement, or I’m missing the better way they expect me to do it somehow…





Cleanin’ the Plate

19 05 2009

I’ll bet you think this post is about food – but it isn’t!  This post is about cleanin’ another kind of plate all together…the proverbial plate that we carry around laden with all our duties and responsibilities (real or imaginary).  It is good for our plates to be full.  Plates that are full, but not overflowing, keep us active, involved in the lives of others and keep us working and growing.  However, there comes a time when the plate must be cleaned, and it’s hard to clean a plate that is full – we usually do that after we eat from it, and then it is ready to be filled once again.  The plate of responsibility is no different from the dinner plate in that it requires a good regular cleaning – not quite so often, but regularly nonetheless. 

I have not cleaned my plate of weighty to-do’s in a very, very long time, and it has begun to reek!  I am losing my ability to enjoy life because of the stink generated by all the stuff on the plate; so I’ve made a promise to myself to begin again with a new plate, and  allow God to guide the filling spatula this time, rather than self- wrought guilt, guilt so graciously piled on by well-meaning lunch ladies, perceived obligation or simply band-wagon decisions that add a spoonful here and a spoonful there until I simply cannot digest it all.  When the school year begins, I shall have nothing on my plate but homeschooling, which is God’s entree for me, and I will stop there, taking dessert only if I have room and it is a heavenly portion offered by the Lord himself!

It feels very freeing to have made this decision, and although I’m having a difficult time finishing up the last few bites before the plate gets scoured, it will get finished and the plate will be clean for once!  There are just a few more tidbits to digest and I’ll be done!

I remember having to sit at the table as a child until I finished every last bite, and some things took a long, long time sittin’…like salmon…ugh!  and meatloaf (funny that I’ve found ONE recipe that I like, now), and green beans…I like those, too, now, by the way.   I don’t know why I never could just start stuffing it down, gagging, but getting it over with.  Everything tasted so much worse stone cold!  I should’ve just shoveled it in and spent the evening playing rather than staring at the plate, actually making it taste worse in the end.  But I didn’t.  I sat there.  And sat there.  And would finally have to yield to mom’s mandate – and eat it

I guess I didn’t learn a thing from those experiences that I transferred to the responsibility plate.  I’ve taken on more and more, and although looking at it certainly brought on the same sort of nauseous feeling, I just stared at it and sat there, unwilling to do what it takes to clean the plate.  I may not be gagging, but I’ve certainly had the feeling that I need air!  I guess I didn’t want to disappoint people; I didn’t want to accept that I couldn’t do as much as some (without losing my mind or being miserable).  I rationalized that others were doing even more.  Ridiculous, I know.  That is why I have decided to embrace my limits, and keep to them.

Well I guess this post ended up discussing food just a bit…

If your plate is dirty, maybe it’s time to clean it 😉