Saturday, January 31, 2009

(VERY) Late Resolutions

Okay, so maybe since Greg's been gone these past few days, I've had more time to think...maybe certain things are just starting to drive me crazy so I know I need to change them.
Yesterday, as I gritted my teeth and tapped my toes to the music blasting in the Bodypump class I took at the gym, I got through a killer set by making a little list of the things I wanted to accomplish by the summer. I felt the need to put it in writing. Somehow it makes it official and makes me's hoping!
1. Greg and I have been reading "The Love Dare" together. While I have found most couples' devotionals rather cheesy, we've enjoyed this one. It has challenged us in realistic, tangible ways, just enough to make us feel like we're making a difference. The timing of this devotional was perfect; it's been just what we need. Our time together lately is very limited and it's good to know that we can do something productive and enjoyable together. I want desperately to keep it up, and I hope that we can grow closer together.
2. I want to enjoy my kids more. I spend a great deal of my day teaching them things, whether it be during our schooltime or how to load the dishwasher or how to get the back of their teeth with the toothbrush or how to talk sweetly to each other. I want to spend more time just letting them know that I love them and that they have changed my life more than they'll ever know. I want to play games with them and tell them stories more.
3. I want to complete a couple of decorating projects here in my house. The prospect of a remodel (and, let's face it, a couple of pregnancies!) have put a halt on my decorating aspirations, but the empty walls are driving me crazy.
4. I really want to continue my workouts and achieve my most comfortable pregnancy yet. Having muscle tone makes such a big difference when carrying a baby. I know this and slacked for the last two pregnancies. I had a lot more little pains and felt like a blob after they were born. I want to feel a little less that way.
5. I want to stop eating late at night. My diet standards are lowered quite a bit when I'm pregnant. I let myself eat what I want (I trust myself that I won't go absolutely crazy like eat a whole dozen donuts or anything, but I'll let myself eat one if I want to), I give into cravings, I eat lots of meat. I'm not a crazy person when it comes to cutting out caffeine...I drink a cup of regular coffee a day. I even indulge (on rare occasions) in a half of a glass of wine. But the eating at 10 pm thing has got to stop...I have to draw the line somewhere or all of these Pump classes will get me nowhere...
6. I will finish a task when I start it. I usually have so much going on at once that I have at least one or two projects that I don't complete. This drives my husband crazy and it's got to stop. I vow not to start something unless I can do it to completion.

Okay, I said it...let's see how it goes...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thai Chicken Wrap recipe

Okay, so I'm not really one to post recipes on my blog (that just feels too MOM-ISH!)
but I had some requests for this's so good. Make one now!

Thai Chicken Wraps

1 lb. chicken breasts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grill seasoning (any kind)
1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 cups fresh bean sprouts (or canned)
1 cup shredded carrots
2 scallions, sliced on an angle
1-2 tablespoons of chopped mint, basil, or no herbs if you're picky
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
Peanut sauce:
1/4 cup room temperature chunky peanut butter2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
Dash paprika
1 tsp. sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Flour tortilla wraps

Heat a grill pan over high heat. Toss chicken with soy and oil and grill 6 minutes on each side.
Combine cucumber, sprouts, carrots, scallions, basil, mint and sesame with a generous sprinkle of sugar and vinegar. Season salad with salt, to taste.
Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar and cayenne together. Stream in vegetable oil.
Slice cooked chicken on an angle. Toss with veggies and herbs.
In a very hot nonstick skillet or over a gas burner heat tortillas 15 seconds on each side.
Pile chicken and veggies in wraps and drizzle liberally with spicy peanut sauce before wrapping and rolling.

Once you get the ingredients (you may need to get a couple things to keep in your pantry, like rice wine vinegar and sesame seeds) and have made it once or twice, these come together so quickly and are delicious!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I think I can, I think I can...

Here it is...the weekend I've been (dreading, fearing, hoping to God wouldn't arrive?) ahem...looking forward to.
Every year, there are five weekends in which Greg takes off for a few days and has "guy time": two campouts with the daughters for the semi-annual YMCA Indian Princess weekends, two boys' campouts with the fathers and sons (slightly more dangerous...there are weapons involved, and a total lack of personal hygiene), and one ski/snowboard weekend in WV, where 8-10 guys go and do "man things"...oddly enough, Greg brought all of his toiletries...I don't think he uses them at all though.
I have to admit: I'm slightly jealous. Not only because he gets to escape all of life's duties as a father/husband/employee, but also because he and his friends get to choose all of their favorite things to do, and they all get together and enjoy each others' company while partaking in snowboarding, eating meat, poker, etc., etc, etc...
I think I need some girl time. Tina, I'll be there next weekend (I wish...)

But for now, I need to go and don my Supermom's going to be a long couple of days...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Over the hump

I am writing this because I always want to remember this time in my life...for two reasons. The first is obvious: my kids are each at a stage that I want to hold onto forever.
Emily is grown up enough that I can sit with a cup of coffee and have a real conversation with her like I would with one of my girlfriends. Yet, at 8 years old, she's still innocent and genuinely loves to help and love on her family.
Kaleb, 6, is still my little guy. He still loves to give me hugs and kisses, and he's discovering the athletic abilities and engineering gifts he's been blessed with.
Avery, at 2, has developed a PERSONALITY like I haven't seen in my other kids. (Read my "Where'd this kid come from?" post from a month or two ago.) She's so cute. And my little Levi...what a honey! He's the most content little baby, and I love where he's at right now. 9 months old, he's not really saying any real words, but he is very vocal and full of life. And this next little one, still five months away from making his/her appearance, gets to be a part of it all. Our little surprise bonus, he or she is allowing me to experience all that I love (maybe most of all) about being a mom: pregnancy and childbirth.

There is no other time in my family's life like what we are experiencing right now.

That being said, let me tell you the second reason why I always want to remember this time: I want to remember that we SURVIVED it! Even now, as I type, I hear some sort of loud rolling (I don't think we have a bowling ball upstairs!) in the hallway and someone yelling at someone else.

Our weeks looks something like this: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays, Greg is off to work at 7:30 or earlier, comes home for an hour for dinner, and is off to tutor or teach a college math class for the evening. Those are the toughest days. I teach Emily and Kaleb during the schooldays, trying to begin before 9 am. (It's 8:59 right now!) We get through school with a two year old terrorizing the house and a baby getting up and down from naps. Until recently, I was running to the bathroom getting sick (from pregnancy) every half hour, and wanted to take five naps a day. Greg and I are particular about toys being picked up and the house being, well, at least decent, so that takes a lot of energy with four kids around all the time. And then we try and fit in trips to the library, botanical gardens, and gym. By Wednesday night, I am SPENT!
This new schedule is only a few weeks old, but I'm realizing what Thursdays mean. They are like the new Saturdays. (or at least a step in that direction!) Thursdays and Fridays are the days when ALL I have to do is teach, clean, cook, change 6-8 diapers, give baths, run errands, go to the gym, and anticipate Greg's arrival at 3:30 pm. Ahhh...
By the way, it is Thursday morning. We made it over the Wednesday hump.

I'm not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me. There are people that have it a lot worse off than I do. I get to be home with my favorite people in the world, and for that I'm very grateful. I'm writing this so that I can look back on it one day and think, "I made it. That was a crazy time, and I'm glad I was young when it happened. We did it."

Or maybe that's all an illusion and life will only get crazier from this point forward. I don't know. But I'm going to pat myself on the back and tell myself that I made it to Thursday for one more week...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The first decade

Ten years have come and gone. On Friday, Greg and I celebrated our tenth anniversary. Ten years ago, I walked down the aisle of a candlelit church to Billy Joel's "She's got a way" (Greg's selection). That blustery, snowy Buffalo Saturday evening, this (at that time) twenty year old girl gave my hand to a man I'd known for 14 months. And I hadn't a doubt in my mind that it was the right thing.

Just now, I spent ten minutes expressing what the past decade has consisted of in our marriage in this posting, and have now deleted it all. It suffices to say, without going into detail, that our marriage, like all marriages, has had moments of bliss, moments that are dull, moments when I've wondered how we'd make it through. But the point is this: we have made it through.

We've fought and cried and kissed and made up at least a hundred times. We've survived financial struggles. (There was at least one semester where we both were in school full time and had a baby. What did we live on?) We've survived my hormones for five pregnancies. (Trust me, I get a little crazy sometimes...) We've mourned the loss of people that we love and comforted each other as we questioned life. We've experienced the miracle of childbirth four times (and cried our eyes out every time).

And we've learned what it is to be a team. That's been the hardest of all for me. But I'm (slowly!) getting it. And I'm happy to be the other half of his team.

We are blessed. We have all we'll ever need and then some. We have beautiful, happy, children. (And because of that, we are NEVER bored!) We've been given much these past ten years. So many blessings...

But, the GREATEST of love...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wake Up Call

I barely slept last night. My mind was spinning.
I haven't spoken to any of my old CBC friends in a couple of years. I felt like for a while I could relate to one in particular. She had gotten married young and started having a bunch of kids like me. She was one of my favorite people back in my freshman and sophomore year of college. ALWAYS full of energy, she was one of those girls that had you laughing all the time, mostly at something goofy or daring she was willing to do. And she had a heart of gold. (I know she still does.) I had the priviledge of being in her wedding during the winter of my sophomore year. Last I knew, she was pregnant with her third baby. Time had gotten away from me, and it had been a while since we'd caught up.
Until yesterday.
Good old Facebook! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to glance through her photos and see what she's been up to. I saw that she had a fourth child, she pregnant again? Yes! Wonderful. What I realized next took my breath away. Her husband, the man of her dreams that she married at only 19, passed away this fall (I later learned it was a motorcycle accident).
Months away from having their fifth child, she was alone.
My heart hurt for her. I cannot imagine.
There was a video clip from his memorial service in which she addressed family and friends, urging them to live life to the fullest and to honor God. Could I stand there and say the same things after such a tragedy?
That could be me. At any moment, God could choose to take Greg. And what would I do? Here I am, also pregnant with my fifth. My life would be over.
If you're reading this, please say a prayer for my friend. She has also just learned that a sibling has cancer. Pray for her family. Pray for her heart. Pray for strength. Pray for her children. Pray for her new baby.
Our lives, our dreams, could be uprooted at any time. Let's appreciate the ones we love. Let's stop looking at their shortcomings. Let's look at how blessed we are to have them. Let's tell them how much we love them. What would we do without them?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It might be HOPE

I listen to this song often when I need a little boost of encouragement. It's good to be reminded of the bigger picture sometimes.

It Might be Hope
Sara Groves

you do your work the best that you can
you put one foot in front of the other
life comes in waves and makes its demands
you hold on as well as you’re able

you've been here for a long long time

but hope has a way of turning its face to you
just when you least expect it
you walk in a room
you look out a window
and something there leaves you breathless
you say to yourself
it's been a while since i felt this
but it feels like it might be hope

it's hard to recall what blew out the flame
it's been dark here since you can remember
you talk it all through to find it a name
as days go on by without number

you've been here for a long long time

but hope has a way of turning its face to you
just when you least expect it
you walk in a room you look out a window
and something there leaves you breathless
you say to yourself
it's been a while since i felt this
but it feels like it might be hope

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to Reality

It has been a splendid and productive two weeks and two days since Greg's last day of work. We took a trip to Buffalo and got home just in time to get into our jammies and await Santa's arrival on Christmas Eve. We spent the Christmas day with Grammie and Grampie. And in the week or so since then, I have organized parts of my house that have been in desperate need for the past few months. We hit some milestones: Levi FINALLY started sitting up! And Avery is in day six of potty training.
I began Christmas break in the grips of a deathly nausea. I ended it feeling great. Ready to hit the gym again, ready to start cooking again, ready to teach the kids again. (I think?) What a difference a couple of weeks can make.
I can't say that I'm ready for Greg to head back to work. It's been nice to have an extra person around. (and nice that it's been him!)
Normal life...ready or not, here I come...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

That's who I am

I've been wanting to write this one for a while now...

A little over two weeks ago, we left our comfy, mild, conservative town here in Virginia to head back for a Christmas visit to Buffalo. The day we left, we heard that everything in Buffalo was closed. A snowstorm hit. No one was in school, Christmas parties were cancelled, and driving bans were in effect. Oh boy, welcome back...

See, two and a half years ago, we left all that was familiar to head to something different from what we had become accustomed to in NY state. We were not sad to say goodbye to the attitudes, politics, and bad weather that we'd known all of our lives. Virginia was refreshingly different. We have enjoyed it even more than we thought we would.

Going back to Buffalo has been nice in the past. But we usually leave our visits thinking, "Hmmm, nice trip, but it's a good thing we don't live there anymore!"

This time, it was different. We were extremely excited for this trip. We were prepared with our list of restaurants we wanted to hit, foods we needed to bring back to Virginia (gosh, it really is all about food, isn't it?), and our clothes to ski and sled in. We were going to experience Buffalo to its fullest.

And...we did.

We hit DiCamillo's, Viola's, Tim Horton's, Bagel Jay's, Tim Horton's, Ted's, the Anchor Bar, Tim Horton's...we had REAL pizza twice (NOT from a chain!)...we hit Wegmans and brought home Sahlen's, Weber's, Spiedie's, etc...we saw and played in enough snow to make 1000 snowmen...we almost crashed while driving on an unplowed thruway (while Greg talked illegally on his cell phone)...and yes, we were in public with Buffalonians...we saw and heard all of the classics...the guy in the Starter jacket and Bills Zubaz pants declaring his undying devotion his precious, yet pitiful team...the italian princesses with their black leather jackets and long black curly hair, stiff with gel to look wet all day...the lady that looks like she hasn't slept in weeks that nearly runs you over with her car in the parking lot because she's lighting her cigarette, and then tells you off for being in the way. At one point I think I saw a family of all three of these people at once. Every time we got in the car, I looked at Greg with sheer excitement in my eyes, laughing, saying, "we're really here! I love it!"

Suddenly all of those things that we once found annoying about our hometown were the greatest treasures we'd ever known. Even the crazy ladies in the parking lots warmed my heart. They made me feel at HOME. This is where I'm from, and I'm proud of it. There's no place like it in the world.

I don't think I'll ever live in Buffalo again. But I am so glad to say that my heritage is found in Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Greg is too. It is such a big part of who we are. It has molded us and influenced us. We are happy to take our kids to infamous WNY hotspots and explain to them why those places are special. We look on the city's oddities fondly, and, most of all, we CHERISH so many people there. Greg said that he couldn't stop singing the theme song from "Cheers" to himself.

There's no place like home.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sweet finales, fresh beginnings...

2008 has been a year of extreme ups and downs for our family. We welcomed a new baby to our home, finally got settled in our house, became a part of a new church family, fell in love with two new nephews, said farewell to one of them, received the shock of one last pregnancy, and realized we would be a larger family than we'd ever dreamed! Phew! It has been a roller coaster ride that we've been blessed to be a part of.
We shared our final evening of 2008 with some dear friends. We shared a beautiful dinner (just for us adults! Ahhh...) , games, great (and quite funny, as always) conversation, and some experiences that don't need to be mentioned on the world wide web.
The highlight of the night, in my opinion, was the exchange of secret messages to each other. When we sat at our extravagant table setting, we found homemade placecards on each plate. Later on, we were each given an envelope in which each of our friends would slip a kind note at some point in the evening. It was intended to be read the next day.
What a treat it was to wake up, eat breakfast, and sit with Greg over coffee reading our special letters from dear friends. It is a blessing to begin the new year knowing that some of the people that you care the most about feel the same way about you.
Here's to the gift of friends and family. You are what life is all about.