Reflections on 20 years of marriage

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20 years ago today, I married my college sweetheart. In those two decades, we have had days of unimaginable joy. Days where I want to quote songs and lines from movies – You complete me! – You make me wanna be a better woman! – From this moment, I live only for your happiness! Marriage seems effortless on those days.

Then there are the days when we can’t even stand to be in the same room. I’m sad and disillusioned and while I love him, I certainly don’t like him. And because I usually love myself more than anyone else, if my needs and wants and desires aren’t being met, it makes me mad.

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December Fast

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I’m not a huge TV person by choice.  I’ve been moving our family slowly away from time spent in front it — no huge TV, just a tiny one.  No cable.  Intentional choices to do anything but that.  Usually it’s not that hard since we run a pretty busy schedule.  Evenings are normally spent at small group, dance, Awana, or soccer.  If we have a free night, I’m working at our Allstate agency – but that’s where it gets dicey.  I feel guilty for sucking up our family time at work and my hubby has cable at the office (and a pretty big TV) so while I talk to clients for hours, my kids essentially binge on stupid Disney shows that teach them how to be sarcastic and rude.  I can just picture them a decade down the road in their college dorm rooms, binge watching Netflix and filling their minds with garbage that they can never un-see, all because I started terrible habits in their formative years.

On the other hand, I am a teensy bit addicted to social media.  My kids have been annoyed many times because my cell phone gobbles up the bits of time in my day between all the other stuff.  They feel like they are vying for my attention while I’m uploading pictures of what we just did, or a funny soundbite.  Not that I don’t think it’s a valuable way to stay connected, but I saw that it was causing a break in the connectedness with my kids.

Enter the media fast.  Christmastime always brings a fast of some sort in our house.  This December was screen time.  I talked to my kids for a couple weeks in advance, warning them of what was to come.  No TV, no video games, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Pinterest (except to get a recipe or craft project I had already pinned in advance), no internet except to look up things we really needed.  No random surfing.  I seriously adore my kids.  They took this like champs!  While there were skirmishes when determining the rules of the month, and one meltdown mid month, they were amazing.  They had the most beautiful attitudes toward my crazy, counter cultural idea.  I have tears just thinking about it!  Anyway, the ground rules were set.  We would have 3 pre-planned nights of television – 1 Spartans game, 2 Christmas movie nights.  That has been adapted a tiny bit since the Spartans made it to the Cotton bowl and they play tonight – Dec 31st.  We are totally watching them!  The kids wanted to know what they should do if they are at friends’ houses.  We determined that they should try to do play as much as they could first; however, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if a screen entered the picture.  Over Christmas we were guests in people’s homes, so we determined that gratitude and relationships trumped media fast, so they would choose other activities first but not exclude themselves from screen time. Continue reading

Pancake Syrup

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My son had a friend over for a sleepover last night.  I knew breakfast for a kid outside our family couldn’t consist of sautéed veggies.  The problem was that we just got back from Christmas in Michigan yesterday and my fridge and pantry contained zero eggs, no syrup, no bread, and just about 1c of milk.  That ruled out cereal, pancakes, french toast and anything else breakfastish I could imagine.  But then I remembered that when my baby was egg free, I always used 1T. chia seeds and 3T. water mixed up and set out for about 5 minutes to replace an egg in baking.  Bingo!  I could make grandma’s pancake recipe with the scant 1 cup of milk in my fridge.  Plus, my mom always made our syrup from scratch with sugar, water and maple flavoring.  I usually use real maple syrup, but my gallon ran out and I’ve yet to write a letter to the sweet Amish family in Michigan where I’ve purchased in the past.  And I was pretty sure I had a random bottle of maple flavoring I bought just in case I was ever desperate enough to try to make my own.  So here it is — and can I tell you that it was a huge hit?  The kids seriously gobbled it up and all was well!     Continue reading

Creamy Turkey Soup

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turkeysoup Last week I went to a friend’s house so our boys could enjoy an afternoon of airsoft in their huge yard.  While the boys rode quads and shot at each other for hours, my friends and I gathered around a pot of this amazing soup.  Every single person loved it and I knew it had to become a staple in our home!  Luckily I have amazing friends who share their recipes with me so that I can share them with you!  I adapted this a bit to use what I had in my house, so this is my version of her delicious soup. Continue reading

Sweet Potato Muffins

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sweetpotatomuffins-2 Before we headed out to Michigan this morning for the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I would use up some leftovers for breakfast.  I had a few baked sweet potatoes in the fridge and I’d been dreaming of using them for these yummy muffins, which was a recipe I had forgotten all about until I saw the leftover sweet potatoes hanging around.  The original recipe I found online called for graham crackers.  I rarely have those around, but every time I make my favorite dessert – Banana Pudding – I buy 2 packages of vanilla wafers and have right around 1 cup leftover.  This recipe is the perfect way to use them up by substituting them for the graham crackers.

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English Muffin Bread

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November is here and warm soup and bread is on the menu.  I thought I’d share my favorite fast bread recipe.  I found this recipe on Pinterest a few years ago and never looked back!  It uses 5 ingredients and mixes up in minutes.  No kneading.  No fuss.  Just a simple process that makes the most delicious toast ever!

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Depression Chocolate Cake

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Before today, I had never heard of depression cake.  This afternoon one of my Facebook friends posted that her daughter made a depression cake and I assumed that meant her daughter made a cake because she was depressed!  Nope.  Apparently, it’s a cake recipe that uses no butter, eggs or milk, so it was affordable even during the depression!  My daughter just had to try it, so we got on Pinterest, found a recipe and whipped it up!  I adapted my buttermilk brownie frosting recipe for this because it’s simple, inexpensive ingredients that I always have on hand.  The links for the frosting in the recipe I found included evaporated milk and chocolate chips or chilled coconut milk and chocolate chips. I found mine to be much simpler!

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Salad topped with Salmon Cakes

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Today I wanted a healthy, quick lunch.  I also wanted to only use what I had on hand so I didn’t have to run to the store.  My garden is starting to come in, so I always have fresh salad greens and herbs.  I keep canned salmon on hand, so salad topped with salmon cakes seemed to be right up my alley.

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Inspired

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I love when God uses my kids to bring conviction to my heart. My oldest son, who is 11, has worked toward something this school year that I wasn’t sure he could do. We use a curriculum for homeschool called Classical Conversations. He is testing for what we are calling Triple Memory Master, which shows that he has mastery over three years of material. Every question correct. Not one wrong. There were a small group of kids that even had the ability to try this – less than ten. The criteria we established was that they had to be in their last year of CC’s foundations program, and they had to have been Memory Masters of a single cycle before. Of that group, some said no right away, because they had too much on their plate, or because the goal seemed unreachable. The rest agreed to work toward it and came to the reviews. There were some that bailed early on in the process, once they saw the enormity of the task. Some made it almost to the end of practices, but couldn’t wrap their minds around how to accomplish something that big. One other child chose to go for it with my son. They pushed their current cycle’s Memory Master test up two weeks in order to give themselves a bit of extra time to study for the preceding two cycles. They worked their tails off, trying to bring this data back up to the forefront of their minds. They had extra study sessions together and spent hours studying alone. They made flash cards and pictures and all sorts of aids to help them remember the information. Today they became Triple Memory Masters. They finished well, striving for excellence, completing something few would even try.

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