Saturday, September 25, 2010

Who's Hungry?

This month, we've been thinking about scaling back and I've been exploring ways to make that little extra to keep the budget balanced.  As a result, I've been investigating babysitting, tutoring and even getting my substitute teaching license.  I've always worked from home and it's just starting to be felt that I haven't done very much of that in the last 18 months, thanks to shrinking training budgets for most companies. 

We're committed to making stay-at-home mom and homeschooler work, so this will definitely be a time of adventure in our family while we figure out a new balance.  As a planner and natural worrier, I've felt a lot of peace in this untried ground and time of uncertainty which has been surprising.  I gave our finances over to God about a year ago.  I've struggled to not be anxious about this bill or that (including over $14,000 for an emergency surgery that was miraculously completely paid for us through insurances) and have had to continue turning things over to God, sometimes by the hour! 

So, feeling peace and a little excitement about what work I might do or what changes lie ahead for our family that are spurred by being financially prudent for our future and our daughter's is surprising.  I know it is only grace that keeps me from being anxious about new and different situations that may present themselves through this new adventure. When I stop to think about my lack of worry, I'm confident I'm on someone's prayer list because the grace is overwhelming. 

Part of being more thrifty this week included something that turned out to be a great family project and I'm sure will be a great memory.  Every few weeks, we order out on one of the weekend nights.  So, last night, I turned to the pizza websites to look for coupons.  Not seeing anything that was that great of a deal, I started thinking about making our own pizza.

One online recipe later, (Pizza Dough) I started raiding the kitchen.  Sure enough, I had all the ingredients for the pizza dough.  Add to that crushed tomatoes with garlic for sauce and ground beef, bacon and ham for meat with garden tomatoes and poblano peppers and we have a family project.  We shredded blocks of cheese together and even ripped apart a few pieces of string cheese to add some gooey stretchiness to the cheese topping. 

The recipe estimated the pizza would take about an hour start to finish to make, but with all things family project, it was a little longer.  We were all anxiously watching it cool when it came out of the oven.

As it cooled, we examined our sections and talked about how great it was that we could get exactly what we wanted on each of our sections. 

We also took the baking and cooling time for some photo ops (see below).  My daughter is actually yelling "pizza", but I think this might be the perfect "evil genius cackle" :)
Once it was cool enough to eat, we dug in.  It was thoroughly enjoyed by all and as we sat eating, I thought to myself about all the fun that had gone into it (not to mention the healthier ingredients like garden fresh produce and whole wheat crust). 

We never would have had such a special pizza if we hadn't been looking to save a few dollars.  Sometimes when looking to live more simply, we find the most priceless things of all. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Taking pictures

This last weekend, I went with a group of four other women to a national meeting of the local non-profit we work with in our community.  We saw a beautiful church.....note the pictures above :)

We also had a chance to sight-around town, so we took the opportunity to walk down to one of the Great Lakes.
Later on Saturday evening, we accepted a grant for a program that I've worked on for the last two years.  It was a wonderful night and such an amazing thing to receive national recognition for a program that I've watched grow and change from it's beginning in March 2008 through the present.

Yep, that's a lot of pictures of me.  As I mentioned, I was with a group of women this weekend.  No hubby, no baby.....just a group of gals.  I loved it and I missed my family.  The other women gave me a hard time about taking lots of pictures at arms' length and teased me about it. 

Since I've spent time traveling with just my daughter to visit my brothers and their families while my husband held down the fort at home, I've had lots of times when a picture of the two of us had to be an arms' length photo.  Even with the other ladies to take pictures, I still liked taking these pictures.

I started thinking about why that would be.  First, I like that they're casual and fun. Also, I take a large volume of pictures and I don't want to make someone take a photo shoot of me while we're out and about - better to snap as I go. 

I also started wondering if all this picture taking was a sign of being a little too self-centered.  It all kind of coalesced in a conversation I had with one of the women this weekend about having only a couple pictures from my pregnancy.  I wasn't happy with how I looked and I just didn't want the pictures.  Now that I look back on that, I wish I would have celebrated the awkward, not-so-cute puffiness for posterity. 

When my aunt passed unexpectedly a few years back, there weren't a lot of pictures of her.  After having this experience of a loved one and the experience of not having those poignant pregnancy photos of me carrying my daughter, I made a very unconscious switch.  I didn't really think about being in pictures more, but as I look back, these last few years have seen me in front of the camera a whole lot more.

I'm not any skinnier or prettier than when I used to refuse to be in front of the camera.  But now, I want those memories.  Yes for myself, but more for children and grandchildren.  I know how precious my photos of loved ones are.  I don't see the imperfections they do when I look at these pictures, I see their emotion and remember my love for them.  Seeming a bit camera-happy is really about giving a gift to my loved ones.  I'll still cringe occasionally over an awkward pose or weird face, but it's not about admiring myself, it's about making my children smile someday.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mary Lou, the Circus and Bear

As my sister-in-law says, we've got the next Mary Lou Retton in our midst :)  Little bean is loving her gymnastics class. 

One of her favorites is the forward roll.  She gets better and better each time she does it.  I love this video of her practicing a forward roll on the mats.

While she's at her class, we sit outside a Plexiglas window and watch.  This makes it hard to get the fast motion without a flash, but I was able to get some cute pics.  

She got to walk backwards up the wall, jump onto the uneven bar and practice her forward roll last week.

The joke running right now is that she'll be getting to college on her gymnastics prowess. 

That's many years into the future and we're only two lessons'll be a while before we have to worry about college anyway!

Besides, Mary Lou is shooting for the Olympics :)

Immediately following the gymnastics practice, we headed off to the circus. 

We went along with my husband's family and everyone had a great time!

As you can see, silly faces were on the agenda for pictures :)

The "Bear" part of the post refers to Bear Grylls, an outdoor survival specialist.  We took a family camping trip this weekend, along with some friends. 

She enjoyed spending time in a tree near the campsite - it really is the simplest toys!

After a night out camping, she was bright-eyed and ready for breakfast.....lots and lots of breakfast:  cereal, doughnut, bacon, eggs and orange juice.  As my husband says, she's a hobbit :)

In addition to all the breakfast treats, she enjoyed some snacks that she doesn't usually get a hold of......many chips were consumed on the course of this road/camping trip.

Here, "helping" Dad pack up for the trip home.  After an early drive out, a 5-hour trek down the river and camping out, we returned home worn out, but happy.  Little bean wanted to camp in the yard, living room, anywhere that we were willing to put her tent :)