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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Only a Few More Days

Matt is finishing up his work in Africa. Today is their last day to work, and tomorrow they start their long journey home. We'll get to pick them up this weekend. And we can't wait to see him.

It's been a long two weeks, but it's gone by fast too. I have had lots of support and activities. When several of you offered to help distract us with things to do, it meant more to me than you know. I feel bad that it didn't work out to actually take you up on that, but it felt like I had a lifeline if/when I needed it. Thank you! (And I still hope we can get together sometime even after this....especially when it warms up and we can get outside.)

We have eaten out a lot! We went shopping a few times. We had lunch dates with new friends. We rented movies. We pulled out new games and movies that were saved for this occasion. We spent a weekend sick. We spent a weekend with my parents. We went bowling with my inlaws. We went to church and small group.

Zachariah is going to the local museum today with his grandpa (my father-in-law), so I can have a little break from him. We've had zero time apart for two weeks. I can't even leave the house alone to go to the store quickly. I'm used to being around him a lot, but this is extreme. I still have no idea what I'll do with my time this afternoon. I had several projects that I wanted to work on, but I didn't get to any of them. It seems like a waste to start now, when I know I can't finish. I might just run to the hobby store and enjoy the quiet of my house for a while.

Matt's trip has gone very well. If you'd like to read a little about his adventures, you can check out his blog. He's shared a little about what he was doing there and some of the things they did. I know he'll be happy to see us, but there is also a period of adjusting to being back in the US after a trip like this. Not only is there the travel weariness and jet lag that takes a long time to get over, but the cultural differences are huge and it takes some time to process. And he'll be in for a big weather shock as well. They were getting up to 115+ degrees during the day there. Here it's been cold...even for a typical March in Ohio. And now there is snow on the ground again. I hope for his sake it warms up here soon. (Who am I kidding? We all want it to warm up already.)

Things I've learned while Matt was away. Two weeks can go by pretty quickly, especially if you pack them full of activity. The house is cleaner when he's not here. My kid will go a little crazy at times without Daddy around. I've been calmer this time, so I can tell I've done it before. I sleep better when I can hog the whole bed. I am a big girl and can take care of myself and child when my husband isn't here. I do like his support (a lot), but I'm glad that I can feel like a grown up and know I'm capable of doing it alone from time to time.

With all that said...Matt hurry home! We miss you a lot and can't wait to see you again!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What is Normal?

I feel like life has been crazy these past few weeks. There have been so many activities taking up our time. Yet, when I do have the time I still don't feel like blogging or reading blogs. I have a few times. I do read your blogs, I do. I just don't comment as much as I think I should. And I don't feel like I should have to apologize, but it still feels like ignoring my friends when I don't comment. And I am sorry for that. I'm still here. I still care.

It always seems if we can get through these few days or the next few weeks or into spring, etc. that things will get back to normal. But I find myself really wondering what normal really is. Normal seems to be busy, so I may as well embrace that and learn to schedule life around it. I don't see things getting any calmer soon. Learning to manage my schedule is a must do. And finding a place in that for blogging (and review blogging) is important to me. Time with my family is also important, and that takes top billing. I just need to squeeze other things in when I have free time and use it wisely.

So, here are some things that you've been missing, especially if you don't follow me on my other blog, twitter, or facebook:

- Matt is leaving soon for another mission's trip. Some of you may remember when he went 2 1/2 years ago. He is blogging about it again, so if you'd like to see more about what he's up to while he's away let me know and I'll e-mail you the link for his Missions blog.

- Matt's well prepared for his trip, but we're sure going to miss him here. He'll be gone for two full weeks plus 2 full travel days, so almost 16 days. That's a long time for a stay at home mom to spend with no other adult in the house. We're planning a few distractions. There might be a trip to the grandparents for an evening or an overnight stay at some point. I'm also trying to think of fun things that we can go do just to break up the long day of being together all the time without Daddy around. But mostly I'm feeling OK about him being gone, and I'm excited for what he'll be doing on his trip.

- Last week we received a warning about people from our country going into the country Matt's going too (sorry I want to be a little vague). They were not telling people not to come, but they just wanted them to be on guard. While it did worry us a little, we still felt that it was safe and necessary for him (and the other guy who's going with him) to go. Then this week, we got notice that the threat was not a viable one, so there was no reason for alarm at all. Thank God! Of course I still have a few concerns about him going that far from home for that long, but I know that God has planned it all and things have fallen into place perfectly.

- My baby turned 5 two weeks ago! 5! It just seems so...grown up. He'll be starting kindergarten in the fall. We're getting ready to register for that and start that whole process. I'm nervous about it for sure, but I know it's going to happen whether I like it or not. I cannot get this kid to stop growing.

- Matt was sick two weeks ago. He was miserable for quite a while. The medication he was put on seems to have done the trick, and he's mostly better now just in time to leave.

- I hate to say this. We've had a pretty healthy winter. I know so many people/families have been really sick this winter. It's been a bad one. Zachariah continues (mostly) on the healthy path. I know how lucky I am that he's been such a healthy kid. See next item.

- Of course just before Matt leaves, Zachariah gets sick. He woke up yesterday morning with a fever, then threw up. Ugh! He took a nap in the morning, then he started to perk up. The fever went away right after he got sick, so that helped. We went out to dinner last night and he ate really well, probably because he didn't eat much all day at home. He was much better by bedtime. This morning...the fever is back. Poor baby. He's got a bit of a cough and this fever that did go down with some tylenol. I hope it doesn't get any worse.

- I'm starting to wonder today if I'm getting sick too. Of course! I sure hope it just passes quickly. Pray for me. I don't want to deal with being sick while I have no other adult help.

I know I have other things to share and blog some things happening with my sister and what my cousin just went through. But I think I'll save that for later. For now I just wanted to get some words written here on this blog. I want to get back to normal.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meal Rut Help

Yep, you read it right. My family is in a meal rut.

When I started watching my nephew, Patrick, in the fall, I got away from meal planning and grocery shopping with coupons. I was doing so well with that for a while, but I was busier during the day with him here. Those things all got pushed to the side. Before that I had time during the day, so that's when I did all my grocery shopping. I would scan the ads of the local stores, look online, find the best deals and match coupons to save a lot on our grocery bill.

In January when I was no longer watching Patrick I still found myself in a bit of a rut. I was preparing meals and keeping the house stocked with groceries. But we were still eating out about twice a week (too much for us), and a lot of evenings I didn't think about dinner until 5:00. That doesn't work so well when you're used to eating at 5:30. It ended up being more work that way. There was no plan.

So last month my husband pointed out that I needed to get back to meal planning. I agreed. So I got to work.

It's difficult for me to plan meals for a week. There are only 3 of us, and to prepare something every night I would end up with way too many leftovers. Plus our grocery bill would be too large for us to handle. What I generally do is plan 3-4 big meals to make for the week. I try to keep a few easy extras on hand to make on a boring night. And I keep in mind that we will probably eat out one night a week. The other days we can fix leftovers from previous meals.

This seems to work pretty well, and it's working with our budget as well. I have a big dry erase board that hangs on the fridge. It has the days of the week and areas for menu and more. (It's the one I reviewed at PS Mom Reviews.) I don't worry about lunches, we do simple lunches here. (Need ideas? I can share lunches if you're interested.) So all I'm planning is suppers. It works, and I think things have run smoother since I started doing it.

The problem is by the weekend we're in a rut. On Saturdays we're often busy, and I don't really want to cook. Sundays we have church all morning, and we get home just in time for lunch. Then we take naps and head out to small group (church group/bible study group) for the evening. We try to grab something to eat quickly before we leave. We don't mind eating leftovers, but by Sunday the leftovers are a little too...left over. It's OK to eat them for one meal, but by supper on Sunday it's very boring.

Saturdays I'm working on. If we eat sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, I can make something easy for supper. Sunday is the biggest problem. Especially for Matt. He's really tired of two rounds of leftovers.

Here's where I need your help. What would you suggest for Sunday meals?

One thing I've considered is using the crockpot (which I do like), but I don't think I have enough time Sunday mornings to get things ready. And I think it would either be not enough time to cook (for lunch) or too long (for supper). Another option is just eating out for lunch Sundays. This would be easy to do, because we're already out and about for church. There are lots of options between church and our house. I would have to either adjust the budget or plan well for this. That is doable I think, but I wonder if we'd get tired of it too.

So, that's where I'm at with it. I could use your advice, though. Please, help a girl out. My family thanks you!