Daily Life Vol. 1 : Hurricane, Homeschool, & Home Sweet Home

1. Hurricane Hermine

Did anyone else think Hermione when they first saw the name of this storm? I am skeptical that this thing will even cause more than a rain shower in Central NJ, but we are on Tropical Storm Watch so we wait and see. And grocery shop with the rest of the wait-and-seers.

2. The joy of living near family

I love, love, love living near my family. I am so thankful for it every time we get together. In my youth, I wanted to get far away from the rules and responsibility of being a member of a family. I went to boarding school, college, moved across the country, etc. I’m so done with all that. I love my family, they are my people, and I never want to be apart again.

It’s kind of unsure what will happen, because I’ve given hubs job priority in terms of where we will live… and eventually I’d like to live near HIS family too, so I guess we’ll see. But for now, while we are near mine, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. If you live near family, I highly recommend doing the same.

3. Am I the only one clinging to summer?

It seems most people this year are VERY ready for Autumn. And pumpkin everything, etc. But I’m not. I loved Summer 2016 and I’m clingin’ to it. My husband had summer Fridays, we did some excellent grilling, lots of swimming and taking the kids outside, a beach trip and visits from lots of family… I’m not ready for it all to be over. I’m especially not ready for snow, or March. Okay really, I’m probably just dreading March which is the absolute worst month in NJ because there’s no Christmas and lots of snow and every time you think it’s about to get warm it snows again. In like a lion. Out like a barely-made-it-out-of-the-womb, worn out, bedraggled little lamb.

4. Beautification Fail

I have been wanting to do something with my hair and face other than my usual nothing. Or occasional mascara and lip stain. Anyways I wanted like… some BIG Duggar girl style curls. And a pouf! And eyeliner! All at once!

I will spare you a photo (because I didn’t take one), but I looked like…. a trashy grocery check out worker from the 90’s. Also the hairspray gave me a headache, so I had to take two tylenols and a shower. Thank goodness my husband was home. Whew. Not trying that again soon.

But really, any EASY, and NATURAL hair and make up tips? I have about 2 minutes to get myself ready and do it with a kid or two at my side.

5. Homeschool

Is official in session. Or as officially as you can be in an NJ homeschool preschool that has no curriculum. We met up with some other homeschoolers, did some workbook pages, read LOTS of books, and did some coloring. I was kind of dreading it at first but now I am really enjoying it. We have a little homeschool group, playdates, and we’re trying out a soccer program nearby. I’m excited for this year. If you missed it, here’s our homeschool plan for right now.

6. Reading & Watching

Kristen Lavransdatter Part II: The Wife

Very good, bit depressing. Very Norse, very Catholic.

Rebellion

https://www.netflix.com/title/80094273

Fun TV show on Netflix about girls in the Irish Revolution, a bit like Land Girls. About as much sex and violence too, which to me is a tolerable amount. I occasionally fast forward or cover my eyes / ears but not often.

7. What’s For Supper?

Monday: leftover chicken pot pie, yum.

Tuesday: lazy chicken quesadillas. I was informed, that this is not the LAZIEST way to make quesadillas but, they were pretty lazy.

 

I took cooked, cut up chicken that I froze and put it between two tortillas with some cheese. Then I microwaved it. Then I made it look real fancy with some green onions and sour cream. Lazy, sort of passably pretty.

Wednesday: Dutch oven chicken teriyaki. It tasted meh. Mediocre meal, and I discovered that garlic salt is indeed one of the foods I can’t eat.

Thursday: took it easy since I wasn’t feeling well Wednesday night, but I did get lots of dishes done and my Grandma came over which was lovely. We ate Subway for dinner, and my 3 year old daughter ate just about an entire pepperoni personal pizza by herself.

Friday: I dunno yet, probably tri tip or something else that we pick up from the market on our trip today.

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Of sacrifice, suffering, and skipping Starbucks

Every week day, I pack up my two kids and drop my husband off at a train station about 20 minutes away. Then we pick him up again at the end of the day. We commute with my husband, sort of. He commutes much farther to NYC… but we commute too.

Back to our weekly routine… picking Daddy up at the train station #njtransit #commute #hardworkingman #family

A photo posted by Michelle (@ohthesimplejoys) on

The other day we were picking Bodie up from his train and it was later in the day than usual, the kids were crankier than usual, and there were no parking spaces at this particular station. So I’m just doing the carpool circlin’ thing and I get this text…

“Train’s stopped, not sure for how long.” or something like that. Ugh.

I thought, noooo not today! Not on this day that is already late, and with fussy babies and no parking places! Typing it out now it sounds silly. That text could have been something MUCH worse, it wasn’t so bad, but at the time it seemed pretty bad.

So I start thinking to myself, I could go to the drive through Starbucks and get a really delicious caffeinated treat. Yum. Oh I don’t drink coffee anymore. Well, when we lived in LA and I was pregnant, I used to go to the McDonald’s drive thru (I know, worst mom ever) and get those little McD’s soft serve ice cream cones… I could go get one of those now!

So I sat there, thinking about treats I could give myself to make myself feel better about the suffering I’d have to endure waiting for my husband. And then I stopped. Because that seemed so… kind of wrong.

I thought about suffering. I thought about why we suffer. I thought about sacrifice. I thought that actually,  I was being pretty silly and my husband’s train would start moving soon. We would all be just fine. I didn’t need to panic and go find something to make myself feel better right now.

This small example is relevant on a much larger scale.  We humans sometimes have this constant need to fill our lives with joyful things; to avoid sacrifice, to escape our troubles and sorrows both big and small. But those escapes, the things we fill that hole with are never enough. They always make us feel worse. We can only truly be fulfilled by accepting our suffering both big and small (and really, really tiny as this ended up being).

healing, suffer, suffering, sacrifice, parenting, family, life, chrustianity, catholocism

Christianity delves deeper into this suffering and sacrifice and rightly notes that by doing this, we are drawn closer to God, and to goodness. In practice, offering up my own little sufferings and not trying to fill my life with things that bring me immediate joy only to disappoint me later has brought many cathartic tears, and much true happiness.

On that day at that train station, it turned out that I had misread my husband’s text. He had said that the train was stopped, but he didn’t think it would be for long, and they weren’t far away. He came home, the kids didn’t totally fall apart.

If I’d sought out immediate gratification, perhaps the caffeine or sugar would have made me cranky. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been back in time to meet his train arrival. Perhaps lots of things, but it definitely wouldn’t have made me truly happy. Being willing to endure suffering gives us peace, real peace, peace that is not rocked by minor upsets or even major problems.

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Our homeschool, not-so-back-to-school plan for preschool

 

I have been spending some time thinking about what kind of homeschooling we want to do, what activities to include, whether to use curriculum or not… etc.

And based on intuition, a hodge podge of articles I’ve read, and advice from my cousin and my mother-in-law… we’re keeping it pretty low key and play based.

There may be days for beautiful old schoolhouse style Catholic curriculum, and tiger mom levels of go-gettum, but this year of preschool isn’t it.

This year we’re doing play dough, going outside, singing songs, lots of field trips, baking and cooking, and reading of books. So many books. Like Peter Rabbit and A Child’s Garden of Verses and probably the book version of Frozen a million more times.

We’re slooooowly doing letter sounds and “what is a pattern” and learning that the term “last night” is not the best term for describing anything that happened at some point in the past.

We might do a gymnastics class, because really, who isn’t inspired to try gymnastics after seeing this amazing, amazing woman:

And we’ll reassess often. Change things as we need to. I’m excited for this year! How about you? What are your schooling plans for this year?

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Fresh n’ Lean vegan meal delivery service review

***Disclaimer: Fresh n’ Lean provided me with the foods in this article for the purposes of this review. All thoughts, opinions, etc. are honest and my own.***

I am not a vegan, but I certainly appreciate tasty vegan food… and I was thrilled that this big ol’ vegan box of goodies came to me on a weekend that I would be spending around family members who DO mostly eat vegan food.

These dishes were pretty tasty, and all I had to do was heat them up. Sharing them was a treat. We had a family style tasting, and here’s what we thought:

Fresh n’ Lean Box:

fresh n' lean, vegan, meal delivery service vegetarian oh the simple joys dinner lunch breakfast food

Nicely packed. The Fresh n’ Lean folks assured me that my box could sit on my porch for awhile if I wasn’t there to pick it up. It came with lots of ice packs, and they called me to make sure I’d be around the day it was delivered. There was not excessive packaging, and I think most of it was recyclable.

The Food:

fresh n lean meal box delivery service vegan breakfast lunch dinner

We shared all the dishes and discussed our thoughts and opinions. I think the meals were very creative, and would work well for a busy person or professional who wants to eat healthy vegan food without having to cook. I did really appreciate that each meal seemed like it would be quite filling and nutritious. Here is what we thought of each item:

Walnut Passion Muffins

There was so much flavor packed into these little gluten free muffins. The texture wasn’t bad, moist and pretty crumbly. I am not sure what kind of GF flour was used, but this little guy was full of richness and sweetness. It was a little overwhelming, but tasty.

Mediterranean Artichoke Lentils

This was a very hearty and filling dish. Big yummy mushrooms, and a nice lemon flavor too. We didn’t really care for the olives, but we did like many aspects of this dish.

Curry Cauliflower Penne

Very mild, not very “curryish”. It was pretty sweet, and the noodles were a little soggy / made it an odd combination. I must say though, we are all curry loving people, so if you are new to curries and enjoy sweet meals, this would be a dish for you.

Dried Fruit Oatmeal

oatmeal dried fruit vegan fresh n lean oh the simple joys meal delivery service vegeterian

One family member in particular really loved this dish. He said it was “wonderful breakfast food”. It was sweet, and quite fruity. Not for everyone, and I do prefer fresh made oatmeal, but I can see many people enjoying this dish.

Mint Almond Quinoa and Cauliflower

General consensus of this dish was “it’s okay, a little dry”. I liked it and thought it was fun to eat. The mint was a little weird / surprising, but one of us really liked that. I think someone put some of the lentils on top of this, and enjoyed that.

To sum it up…

Thanks Fresh n’ Lean for the fun experience of tasting these dishes! We had a great time together as a family doing a vegan tasting of these foods.

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You know, he’s a boy.

Last night I was writing to my mother in law, who is coming to visit soon.

I wrote, “You are visiting at a great time. James now gives hugs and kisses.He also pulls hair, punches, and kicks… you know, he’s a boy.”

Then I paused. He’s a boy. And boys will be boys, right? If he was a girl, would I accept his playful punches, or correct them? Am I teaching my son that I will tolerate these things?

He is five months old. He has a sweet little loving heart and he sometimes doesn’t know his own strength. He definitely doesn’t yet understand that with strength, comes responsibility.

Tonight we went to a restaurant, and my strong, curious, little boy pulled our waitresses hair, broke a ceramic spoon, and then broke a plate. It was one of the most embarrassing experiences of my mom life to date.

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And yet, it is on me. I let him too near the table, twice. I haven’t taught him that he can’t do these things. I have thought to myself “he’s just a baby” or “he’s such a boy” and made excuses instead of teaching him not to hit or grab.

And, he is just a baby, but better for me to learn this now and begin to teach him, than start when it’s too late. My corrections may go over his sweet little head for a bit, but eventually they’ll stick.

My son may be a boy, and act like one… but I will not excuse myself from raising him well from the time he is young . I will up my parenting game and teach him to know his strength and to use it responsibly.

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