Posted by: graceunbound | April 3, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday – The Food Edition

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Today’s post is inspired by the fact that this weekend is week two of a hometown tradition in the town my husband grew up in. Every year the local Christian school hosts a fund-raising effort called Schmeckfest. The translation is something like ‘festival of tasting’ so, of course, food is one of the main events. This has been going on for 50 years now and just keeps getting bigger. There are exhibits and booths at which you can sample and buy traditional German-Russian foods most of which I will not attempt to spell. There is sausage, both smoked and regular, you can watch them make it right there. Peppernuts, which are tiny little hard cookies traditionally spiced with anise seed, although you can now get them in many different flavors (my favorite being butter brickle). Then there are rosettes, those delicious greasy deep fried flowers of batter dusted with powdered sugar. And a bake sale table array of various desserts.

After all this tasting you can also sit down to a traditional German meal served at long tables in the high school cafeteria by a team of volunteer servers and cleaners (my husband is a table clearer tonight) who operate with drill-team like precision to serve at least a thousand people a night. There are two types of soup, bean and…something else. Sausage, of course. Stewed beef. Cheese buttons, which sound more interesting than they really are. Pluma moos, which I recommend passing on, and kuchen, of which I recommend eating as much as you possibly can. None of these are traditional foods from my childhood, but for many people they are nostalgia wrapped up in a hefty dose of calories.

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This, of course, got me thinking about the traditional foods of my childhood. Shoo-fly pie (seriously, pass, it’s dry and not that good). Trail bologna and Swiss cheese platters at every potluck (bears no resemblance to the bland slices of store-bought bologna nor have I ever found comparable Swiss cheese in any store). Pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s, cooked in the slow cooker with brown sugar and apple slices.

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Clearly I don’t remember that many traditional foods. But then there were the family staples. Liver and onions. I’m actually one of the few people I know who actually liked that as a child, although now I don’t think I could begin to eat it, much less prepare it. Beef tongue sandwiches. Again, I liked it as a child, now I’m thinking “I ate a cow’s TONGUE!” Just thinking of the texture now gives me shivers. Chicken livers in gravy. Are you detecting a theme here? I drew the line when my mom served us calf brains. I will go to my grave never knowing what those taste like, and not feeling that I’ve missed out in the least.

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When you bring two people with different food traditions together as a couple there are bound to be some missteps and some compromises. One day while I was still a student my husband offered to cook supper. Orange chicken and rice. I, of course, was picturing the Chinese version of this dish and spent the day anticipating it. Imagine my surprise to find that orange chicken in HIS family was rice and chicken baked with a can of tomato soup and a can of cream of mushroom soup. I make it for him on occasion because I love him, but my level of love for this dish is pretty low.

And then there was the time we tried to make his beloved cheese pockets. (Also known as vareniky and some other name I can’t remember.) Cheese pockets are little fried turnovers filled with dry curd cottage cheese and I think some chopped onions, typically served with ham gravy. Different communities in the Midwest have their own variation, some boil and then cook them on a griddle. I will confess I do dearly love their deep fried goodness. At any rate, it is one thing to make them in the Midwest, where stores sell dry curd cottage cheese, another entirely to make them in Virginia where you have to try to drain regular cottage cheese. Partway into our messy, unsuccessful attempt and one of our first marital blow-ups we decided that family harmony was more important than tradition, threw it all in the trash and ordered pizza instead. Now we rely on his mother to make them.

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Of course, one of the joys of being an adult faced with the responsibility of feeding a family is the ability to shape your own view of eating and attempt to mold new food traditions. I find myself looking more and more at the health aspects of the foods that we eat, as well as the environmental impact. This is leading me towards less processed foods, growing my own garden, and trying to lean more on a vegetable/whole grain based diet. I’m continually learning new things that have me reevaluating what we eat. Currently I’m reconsidering our consumption of pork (this will be a revelation to my husband). As I look into the WHY of God declaring it an unclean meat I’m stunned by the information I’m coming across regarding pork and health. I’m still struggling with whether or not as a Christian we are supposed to be trying to follow Torah, but the health impact alone is worth a trial run of giving up pork. (Um, so no Schmeckfest sausage this year…)

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Of course, the main problem in shaping a family’s food philosophy is convincing the rest of the family that it is for the best. Sometimes you let them make their own decisions (I’m looking at your Diet Coke, my dear). But when those people are your children it’s not so much their decision because left to their own devices they would probably eat nothing but cookies, pizza and chicken nuggets. I used to believe that it was completely within my control as to whether my children would be picky eaters or not. After following the same tactics with two children and getting two different results I have modified my views substantially. Left long enough, Indy will often at least taste a new food on his plate, and will quite frequently like it enough to eat several bites. Gates will not try a new food until he is ready in his own mind to do so. That old saying “They’ll eat if they are hungry?” He would starve first. This week was a good one, he actually tried two new foods, sloppy joe sauce and lasagna. He would not eat the potatoes I oven baked to look like french fries. It’s a growth process.

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Now that I’ve rambled on far beyond the definition of ‘quick’ takes, it is time to go do the grocery shopping. One of my least favorite tasks when I have to make several stops as I do today. Made less so because Indy will be along and we all know what shopping with a four year old is like.

 

For more Quick Takes visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

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Posted by: graceunbound | March 31, 2009

Commitment?

The other day during a conversation one of my friends mentioned that she felt that she could never be committed to more than one thing at a time. It wasn’t that the desire isn’t there, it’s just that it seemed that she could only have one time commitment in her life at a time. She couldn’t make it work to commit to exercise, cleaning, Bible study and professional improvement at the same time. If she focused on one, the others would slide. I hope I’m interpreting her thoughts correctly, because I certainly know how that feels. (I should also add that like many women she DOES have other time commitments, volunteering several hours a week at her son’s school, working part-time, church involvement, etc.)

I’ve been pondering that this week, because I really understand where she is coming from. I want to do all of the above and I want to do them well, but it seems that as soon as I pick one thing up something else drops. I started exercising and the next thing I knew cleaning and Bible study were falling by the wayside. This week I am focusing on cleaning and although I’ve successfully managed to do both that and Bible study for two whole days in a row, exercise has not happened. And professional improvement? Well, the sorry state of my blog posting frequency speaks volumes on that. I’ve cut out huge chunks of computer time, giving up Facebook for Lent, theoretically giving up message boards even though I’ve cheated and peeked a few times, and cutting my blog reading down to the bare minimum of blogs where I feel I’ve connected with the blogger (if you comment on my blog regularly chances are you are one of the blogs I’m still reading) or blogs that I find educational in some way. And still, it seems that I have no more hours in a day to accomplish things than I did before making those cutbacks.

So, today’s post doesn’t come with any answers, it comes with a question. Do you manage to work all of the above into your schedule? How do you do it?

Posted by: graceunbound | March 27, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

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Last Saturday the women of our church had an afternoon event focusing on green cleaning products. I’ve kind of dabbled with the idea before, I use baking soda for a lot of things, I’ve used vinegar to get up some incredibly stubborn hair spray build up on my bathroom floor, I clean with a commercially packaged ‘green’ cleaner most of the time. But I’ve never really fully made the jump over to making my own cleaning products. Despite reading again and again that it’s SO easy I just felt that it MUST be complicated. Guess what? It isn’t! In a matter of minutes I had mixed up a soft scrub cleaner which I have been using all week. Baking soda and an eco-friendly liquid soap. I used it on my shower. Sparkly! I used it in my sink. Shiny! And then I tackled my glass casserole dish that was filmy and spotty from years of use. I soaked it in water with vinegar and then used my scrub on the handles. Wow! I am a convert. On Thursday I mixed up an anti-bacterial spray with water, some peppermint Dr. Bronners and some tea tree oil. I would happily make my house smell like peppermint all the time; much better than commercial cleaners, even better than the green cleaner I’ve been using which smells like lemon verbena. I have no idea what verbena is, but I hate the smell. I’m looking forward to continuing to get rid of the toxic chemicals in my house for a healthier alternative.

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The idea of living a healthier lifestyle is one I’ve been kicking around for awhile. First of all, because I believe the Bible calls us to good stewardship of ALL aspects of our life, as an individual and as it affects the people and the world around us. I’ve also been reading David Wann’s book “Simple Prosperity – Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle”. Sustainability draws me. It’s one of the reasons I left my job, it’s why I started a garden, it’s why I try to support small businesses when I can. It’s kind of eerie to read Wann’s book (published in 2007) and see some of his predictions already coming true in the current state of our economy. I’m not very far into the book yet, so far I’m still in the gloom and doom chapters, but I’m looking forward to learning more about how to live a sustainable lifestyle.

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Part of the sustainable lifestyle and good stewardship is being a good steward of my health. This is probably contrary to my intense chocolate addiction that I’ve been going through the past few weeks. I can’t be in a store without buying SOME form of chocolate, and, like a true addict I’ve been hiding my secret vice from my husband. Yes my dear, I’ve been sneaking chocolate on the sly. And so I have decided that I must quit cold turkey. No chocolate. Not even one lovely little Lindor truffle with its creamy hazelnut goodness in the center. Because if I have the Lindor truffle, the next time I’m out I have to try the Godiva, and the next time the Starbucks chocolates (which really aren’t that good) and the next time that odd brand with the pretty package that intrigues me. Yes, they are small packages, a piece or two here and there. But it adds up and feeds my cravings. And the next thing I know I’m staring at my cupboards trying to convince myself that if I just stare at them long enough when I open them chocolate will have magically appeared in them. Cold turkey. Sigh.

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Sleep. That’s the other part of a healthy lifestyle that I fail miserably on. And seriously, how hard is it to fail at sleeping? A lot of us do it though. I’m not looking up statistics (because these are supposed to be QUICK takes) but the average American is operating on a sleep deficit. And I’m not sure if it really counts as sleep if I fall asleep in front of the TV, with my body twisted into odd positions on the couch (thus contributing to back pain), waking up every now and then to think “I really should move to my bed”. I know that the nights I make an effort to get myself to bed as soon as I realize “Yep, I’m done for the day” are the precursors to days when I feel much more rested and ready to tackle the day.

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While we’re talking about stewardship, we can’t really leave out the money part, can we? Most of the time I think I do pretty well on this, but if I’m totally honest there is still room for growth. One of the best things that I have ever done was to read a copy of a financial guide for couples while I was house-sitting for friends YEARS ago. I went home and set up a budget on my meager salary (I’m not sure I was even working full time at that point) and I have stuck with it for twenty years. The numbers and the categories have changed, and there have been times we’ve drifted off of it and times that unexpected expenses have put a dent in it, but overall it has helped us to keep a clear head when making financial decisions. Now I just need to get a better handle on those little expenses (like chocolate) that keep creeping in.

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OK, and then there’s the issue of time management. Do I spend my time reading fluff (and I happen to LIKE reading fluff), browsing the internet, blogging, watching TV and a host of other time wasters, or do I spend it focusing on relationships with God, my family and community?

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And in that vein, I’m calling this post done for the day, because Indy wants to play air hockey.

For more 7 Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Posted by: graceunbound | March 26, 2009

Little white lies

Yesterday I had both boys with me when I stopped in at the endocrinologist for a quick blood draw. Had I had my brain together I would have gone on Tuesday when I could have gone alone, but it was one of those days where I kept thinking “I KNOW there was something I was going to do today while I have a free moment…now what was it?” So, I forgot and thus the trip with both of them. I didn’t think it would be too bad, all I had to do was put on a brave face for a few seconds and then we’d be out of there. Wrong. I was doing great, smiling calmly at the boys (ok, Indy was oblivious, Gates was hovering with curiosity and a little trepidation); and then, she COULDN’T FIND THE VEIN! I have never had that happen before. So there I was grinning like a maniac at Gates as I silently screamed, “OK, this hurts, this hurts, this hurts!” And Gates asked the question that all children want to know when confronted with a needle, “Does it hurt?” “Well, a little bit,” I responded. (Oh, PLEASE find that vein quickly and get this over with!) He hovered, I kept my smile pasted on my face, and the nurse finally found the vein. As we left Gates said “I don’t think I ever want someone to take my blood.” So much for calmly setting an example that this is something that isn’t to be dreaded. Children can often see through our little white lies. I expect he knew perfectly well that despite my smile this was something that hurts more than just a little bit.

I do that a lot, and I’ll bet you do to. Little white lies to hide the pain we’re in. I did it again later when someone asked how I was doing. “Fine, how about you?” No mention of the fact that I’ve thrown my back out AGAIN and had taken a muscle relaxant which wasn’t working except to make me so groggy that not only was I in pain every time I moved, but I could happily have leaned up against a wall and fallen fast asleep.

It’s no big deal, it’s not like it’s a lie that HURTS anyone. So we paste our smiles on our face and we pretend we aren’t in pain and ‘fine’ becomes our conditioned response.

If you haven’t figured it out yet in your life let me tell you something…telling everyone we are fine when inside we are screaming “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!” does not help us. It’s like bleeding to death outside of the emergency room because we are too proud to go in and admit that we’re bleeding. But that little lie of “I’m fine” does something else too. It robs those around us of the chance to be church. It robs them of the chance to bring comfort to a member of the body that is hurting. Left long enough, it will turn a church into a shell of a building filled with the shells of people all walking around with smiles on our faces saying “I’m fine.” And I don’t think that a church where everyone is ‘fine’ will be very effective at reaching out to a world full of people who are feeling that they are NOT fine.

I know there is a balance to be had between complaining about our every ache and being honest about when we are hurting. And there is a time for knowing who to share your hurts with and who may not have the maturity to handle it. But in a world that is broken it’s time to let the church do its mission, ministering to the physically, spiritually, emotionally broken people both inside and outside of its walls. No more little white lies.

Posted by: graceunbound | March 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday – First Day of Spring edition

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I love spring. Even though I know that realistically here in the Dakotas the possibility for more snow still lurks, there is something about the fact that on the calendar it is now SPRING. Barring another ice age, we WILL eventually warm up and I’ll get to dig out the shorts, the t-shirts and the sandals.

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The shorts are mostly for the boys. Unless I’m working in the garden or working out, it’s a fair bet you aren’t going to see me in shorts any time soon. I used to hate capri pants, however I am now embracing them in all their wonderful, cellulite covering glory. However, not all capris are created equal, and at some point I may post the very, very unfortunate picture of me in my plaid capris that I wore on vacation several years ago. They were retired very shortly after viewing that picture.

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Fortunately that picture was also taken when I was about twenty pounds heavier. Whenever I get discouraged about my weight loss (or lack thereof) I remind myself that I HAVE lost weight, just not recently. Yes, it took me four years to lose twenty pounds, but it is off and staying off. This summer I plan to be a lot more active with the boys. My new exercise plan is called ‘try to keep up with them while they are riding bike’. It is pretty much the only thing that will force me to run. Between bike rides, the playground and swimming I’m bound to lose weight in there somewhere, right?

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Then, of course, there is that other most glorious aspect of spring; the planting of the garden. I’ve already got one seed flat filled with onions, lettuce, spinach, peppers and basil making the rounds between my east and west facing windows. Soon it will be complicated with the addition of a flat filled ENTIRELY with tomato plants (one flat has 72 cells…I’m allowing room for failure or give-aways of extra heirloom tomato seedlings), then squash, melons and cucumber. I’ve debated asking my husband to cover the garden in black plastic to warm the soil more quickly, and the moment it is workable the peas are going in the ground. Had you told me ten years ago that I’d be looking forward to gardening I’d have laughed at you. Oddly, I’ve somehow come to enjoy it. Maybe because it is MY garden.

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Along with the garden comes home improvement time. This is the year of the painting of the exterior. Finally! OK, so it’s going to be a little challenging to learn to give directions without telling people to just look for the glowing minty-turquoise house. When we first pulled up when we were house hunting we just looked at the exterior and laughed. It has actually faded over the years to something a little more tolerable. Still, I’m ready for a change. And, in addition to the outside it is time to paint the inside as well. Not only am I sick of the sort of yellow-ish green on the walls, but they really need a lift from the chips and dents. I am, however, incredibly torn. I have the color for my accent walls picked out (Dutch Cocoa), but can’t decide on whether to go with a near-white for the rest of them, or something with just a tad more color. So I’ve been taping the paint strips to the walls and migrating them from wall to wall to check in different light at different times of day. The boys are finding the migrating paint strip quite amusing and have started looking to see where it will turn up next. I’m thinking of taking a vote when my women’s Bible Study group convenes here on Sunday. “Cultured Pearl or White Truffle…show of hands?” Between the exterior and the interior we have a big, BIG project on our hands…so I think this may not be the year to tell my husband I also want a strawberry patch.

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We get to go on vacation again this summer! An extended family trip to the Black Hills; I can’t wait. The boys are getting old enough that it expands our options of what we can do, not to mention not having to take a mid-day break for naps every day. And I can’t wait to hit the trail that supposedly runs right behind our rental cabin. In case I haven’t mentioned this before, I love nature. I love hiking and trees and rocks and the smell of dirt and growing things. When I lived in Virginia and before I was married as soon as we started hitting nice weekends I’d start heading up to the mountains. I miss the blooming of the mountain laurel and the dogwood trees. I miss walking the trails and finding the hidden Jack-in-the-pulpits and violets. I miss the little rivulets of water running over rocks as melting snow finds its way towards the streams. Last fall I finally found a small place to take the boys for some walking and now Gates is asking me “When are we going to go find some nature again?” I have the feeling this summer may involve some exploration into local nature spots.

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Finally, I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; I am grateful for the chance to take this all in. Normally this time of year would involve 55+ hour work weeks, and spring would come without my notice. For the opportunity to be at home, to have a flexible schedule, to spend my days delighting in the unfolding of the seasons and in the growing of my children, I am forever thankful to the God who gives us changing seasons and pours blessings upon us when we least expect them that are beyond our richest imaginings.

 For more ‘7 Quick Takes Friday’ visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Posted by: graceunbound | March 17, 2009

I’m baaaack!

One week away. One house that was slightly cleaner for about 2 minutes. One mom with a bad cold, one child just now getting over the flu, one child just now coming down with it. Countless times running up and down the stairs responding to cries of “Moooom!” “Can you tuck me?” “I have to go potty!” “Where’s my Corey (toy walrus)?” “The TV show is over.” “Uh-nothing.” Not exactly the week I was picturing. And yet it has been an oddly restful week, maybe because for one week I let myself reset my expectations of myself. Rest instead of overload.

It has been good to restore some balance to my life. Good for me and good for my family. Life moves along so much more smoothly when things are in balance, even when chaos strikes, even when kids are sick. I don’t know why I always wait until I feel as if I’m moving into crisis mode to work on restoring balance. Probably for the same reason so many (myself included) wait until we are moving into crisis mode before we think, “Hmm, maybe I should pray.”

We’re starting a new women’s Bible study at church, No Other Gods by Kelly Minter. Only a few days into it and already I can see that I’m going to be challenged, humbled and hopefully changed by this study. I may post some of my thoughts on it as I delve into it a little more deeply. It isn’t an easy thing to say “OK, I’m going to open up my life and start REALLY examining the little idols that I’ve set up.” Because examining them means I might actually have to give them up and, well, what if I find out that chocolate is one of my idols? Sadly, I can already say that in many ways the amount of time I spend on the internet has turned it into a pretty big idol. As one of the women in our group said, “If you have a hard time giving something up that’s a pretty good indication that it is an idol.” Or at least she said something like that and it was profound.

Am I going to disconnect the high-speed cable and go completely off-line? No. But as I hit my one year anniversary of blogging I have to ask myself, “Is the investment worth it?” Is the time I spend on each post worth the payoff? And the answer is “I don’t know. I may never know. And that’s ok.” I will never know who may stumble across my blog and read something that plants a seed. I can’t measure in subscription numbers the amount of impact I have on lives any more than you can measure the impact of a sermon by how many people showed up in church that day. For now I remain convinced that this is part of the ministry I am supposed to be doing.

Having said that, my ministry to my family is equally important. So I am releasing myself from the pressure of telling myself that I should be posting x number of times a week. And you may see a few lighter posts woven in here and there, because some days I just don’t want to take myself so seriously. You may even see me trying to delve into some of the deeper issues as I try to look at the world around me through eyes that want to see and understand with the lens of grace firmly in place. It’s my hope that you will see yourself and some of your issues and some of your questions reflected here. If last year was the year of letting grace be unbound in my life, this seems to be shaping up to be the year in which grace starts to spread its wings and fly…or at least do that little baby bird shuffle-hop as I try to get off the ground.

I hope you stick around!

Posted by: graceunbound | March 8, 2009

Cleaning house

I’ve been looking around my house lately (instead of stumbling around with my eyes closed trying to ignore reality) and what I’m seeing isn’t pretty. In fact, it’s pretty grungy. Well, ok, my definition of grungy may differ from others but still, I simply can’t live like this anymore. It’s like one big red flashing, slightly dusty and scattered cobwebby sign saying “Your life is out of balance, girl!”

I don’t know how it happened. Probably the January rush to get year end reports done, followed by the February crunch to do all the work that didn’t get done in January, salted with a hefty dose of end-of-winter blues that make it difficult to do anything. I suppose I should be grateful that I have a good internal sensor that tells me when things are falling out of balance. And if it doesn’t work, I’ve learned that my house is a really good backup indicator.

One thing I’ve learned is that when my external life is out of balance, when it is chaotic, messy and overwhelming, my spiritual life very quickly follows suit. So this week I’m taking a breather. Yes, I know I often don’t write for a week, but when I’m not writing I’m thinking that I SHOULD be writing and worrying about losing readership. This week I am giving myself permission to not even THINK about writing. It’s about getting back into balance, cleaning my house both physically and spiritually and letting in some fresh air. (It would be nice if that fresh air were warmer than 30 degrees, but I don’t think that is going to happen.)

This is also time for me to get some fresh vision for my blog. I love blogging because I love writing and I love the connections that I’ve made through doing this, but sometimes I wonder if I am saying the same thing over and over in different ways. Granted, one can never talk about grace too much, right? I’d like to come back with fresh ideas for where this blog is going as well as how to balance that with the desire I have had for years (ok, ever since third grade) to write for publication.

So, I will be back in a week (which will coincidentally mark my one year blogging anniversary!). I’ll still try to keep up with everyone else’s blogs in that week, but in the interest of decontaminating my house I may not take time to comment. Have a blessed week everyone, and if you happen to live up this way, come see me when my house is clean!

Posted by: graceunbound | March 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

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After an initial spate in which I felt energized and had lots of ideas, this week has obviously hit another dry spell for me. That and I’ve been busy getting payroll out which, when it comes down to it is probably a little more important than getting blog posts written. So, to jump start my brain a little I’m participating in 7 Quick Takes Friday, hosted by Jennifer at Conversion Diary. If you’ve never read her, she is a must read…although don’t expect a lot of new stuff from her right now because she just had a baby on Monday. Congratulations, Jennifer!

Basically, 7 QTF is my excuse to ramble, yay! Without further preamble, here are my 7:

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I never realized just how dependent I am on my computer for everything until the monitor burned out Thursday morning. Granted, there’s another computer downstairs, but I’m too lazy to go down there, I like the convenience of my work computer with all of my links right at my fingertips. As I was going about my morning, trying to get ready to head out to buy another monitor (because of the aforementioned payroll, which I had unfortunately NOT printed out when I finished it on Wednesday, thus necessitating the urgency of the matter) I realized just how often the urge to flit over to my computer to look something up strikes me. “Ooh, today is LL Bean’s Thursday Markdown, I wonder if they have any coats or boots on sale for the kids”…oh, wait, no computer. “Hmm, the temperature is NOT warming up like they said it would, I wonder if the high temp for today has been revised”…oh, wait, no computer. “Hey, today is new list day for the Grocery Game. I wonder what’s on sale this week.” Oh, that’s right, no computer. I wonder how much time I would save if I wrote down everything that seemed urgent and then did all my computer viewing in one chunk.

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Speaking of the Grocery Game, I think I’m getting addicted to couponing. I’m not finding that the Grocery Game works particularly well for our area (probably lack of multiple grocery chains to choose from), or for the way we eat (minimal processed foods), but it’s nice to know at a glance what all the good sales are so that I can stock up on meat, canned tomatoes, fresh veggies and stuff like that. The added benefit is that I’m finding a way that I can stretch our limited dollars to help even in the midst of this economy. By careful perusal of my coupons and different websites that tell you where the best deals are each week I am learning how to get some things for almost FREE! Especially toiletries like disposable razors, shaving lotions, soaps, toothpaste, etc. I’m throwing them into a box and when I get enough I will take them to whichever shelter says they could use them. I’m also not passing up great deals on things I wouldn’t eat (I’m looking at you, Tuna Helper), instead they go into the food pantry box. It’s nice to know that even on our budget we can still help others.

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Today is an early dismissal day at school. This is the first one they’ve had this year. Am I the only parent out there who wonders if I will forget to pick up my child on an early dismissal day?

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Gates has a new passion. Or rather, a name for his old passion. They are studying scientists in first grade (hmm, what would one call the study of scientists…scientology?) and he is quite happy to say that he wants to be an astronomer. I guess that is a step up from his desire to be a NASCAR driver…for just one race before he pursues his career as a firefighter. Somehow I think I will not be enormously surprised if he does turn out to be an astronomer. This morning as we were playing and I was chasing him he said “You can’t get me, mommy, I’m Jupiter and I have no solid landing place.” How does one argue with a planet?

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He might instead (or in addition) become a science fiction writer. This is the story he wrote at school this week:

“Space is in danger. You must travel through space. Go now good luck. It is at the wormhole you will go in it so they were off. They finished it in a flash. You did it in a flash. Well you are finished. THE END.”

He has seriously embraced the concept of the wormhole. (And I am just enough of a sci-fi geek to love it!)

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Oddly enough, finally getting the somewhat official diagnosis of Aspergers for him has been a blessing in disguise. I’m learning to just let him be himself when it comes to his quirks. Like sniffing everything. His food, his clothes, his books, the cardboard package that last night’s frozen fish sticks came in (hey, I’m not a TOTAL purist on the unprocessed food thing). After all, most of us have SOME quirks. He likes to sniff things and touch his hair. I’m learning to stop focusing on how other people MIGHT perceive him and just love every bit of him myself. (And there are a lot people who find him endearing…which he is. I hope he always keeps that quality.)

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My husband might have been right that high pitched sounds can affect our mood. I couldn’t hear the high pitched death throes of my monitor earlier this week even though my husband could. But boy I have had a crabby and irritable week for no discernable reason. And now, new monitor, no high pitched sound and I’m feeling quite zen and peaceful. Umm, just as long as I don’t look around at the mess in my house.

There you have it, my 7 Quick Takes for this week! Hop over to Jennifer’s blog to check out some more (unbelievably enough, she managed to post today and she’s even got a baby picture up!).

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