Weather chatter

 

You might not think it, but there are distinct cultures in various states across this great United States of ours.  Some states are more similar.  Some are nearly like a different country entirely.  I am a transplant in this upper midwestern state.  Thousands of miles away from “home” in a land that cannot appreciate the amazingness of the Seahawks {thanks for the win!} is where I find myself in these midlife years.  We’ve lived here off and on {three times, but who’s counting} for a total of nine years.  Nearly 23% of my life.  And in that time I’ve learned a few things about this upper midwestern state that are unique.  One thing in particular that stands out today is WEATHER.

I have never in my life lived in a place where weather is a hotter topic.  Year round.  Weather conversations.  Cold weather.  Hot weather.  Windy weather.  Unusual weather. Normal weather.  Folks ’round these parts, love to talk about the weather.

Especially on days like today when we wake up to -10ºF with a ‘feels like’ of -35ºF.

Strangers at the gas pump, stand outside & chat about how cold is it.  Three things about this: 1) I sit in my car while that pump pumps, 2) the state of Oregon has it right-gas station attendants should be the only ones that can pump gas & 3) gas pumps should not be allowed to ask questions if the temperature drops below freezing.  It is impossible to push that little button on the screen with my moon landing mittens on.

Strangers at the fabric store mention how “nice” it is out.  I think she’s been cooped up in the cutting department for far too long.  Nice is not a word I would ever use to describe the feeling of my nostrils freezing the moment I step foot outside.  Give that lady a vacation!

The receptionists at the doctors office ask if I’ve seen the weather today and if they’re expecting this cold snap to last.

Even the doctor first mentions the weather before anything else.  “Cold out there, today.  Did you see the weather forecast today?  It’s likely to last another week…at least.”  Great.

On that note, another curiosity of this culture with all it’s weather chatter.  Meteorologists.  People who can talk about the weather & have earned a degree or two to do so.  Educated weather-talkers.  Meteorologists are like rock stars around here.  No kidding.  This must be the creme de la creme of meteorology assignments.  No quick clip that lasts just long enough for you to say that it’ll be “75º and sunny, again”.  Here, you might get a special report or a breaking news break in.  Serious.  Wind chills are big news.  And blizzards…rock stars.

I’ll admit it though.  Ever since moving here I have found myself more chatty about the weather too.    Mostly because I hate it, oh, so much.  No one really enjoys 20 below.  No one.  Don’t lie.  You might like sitting out on that frozen lake with your little fishing pole but you don’t really love the weather it takes to get you and your truck out there.  Impossible.  Even the hard core-est of hard core locals can’t possible love to be freezing to death.  All you nuts {yep, I said it} who sat out in -5ºF to watch your Vikings not win…you weren’t loving it.  You were loving the nostalgia of being out there for the third coldest game in history.  But you were not having fun freezing with your fifteen layers on.  You weren’t.  Not believing it.  {And thus I prove my point about talking about the weather.}

I suppose the weather conversation will continue and I will continue adding my two cents in, mostly complaining.  It is what it is.  But if you visit. be prepared to hear more about the weather than you’ve ever wanted to chat about.  And if you’re looking to be a meteorologist—this should be your goal.  Set that bar high.

2 Things Learned in Week 1 of NNM

nothing new monthIt’s been a week since I declared it Nothing New Month.  Nothing would be purchased unless it was a need.  And based on my own assessment, that pretty much means food and toilet paper.  So how’s that going?  Well, interesting.  Here are 2 things I’ve learned so far:

  1. It seems I spend entirely too much time browsing & shopping.  Last week with my mission to only purchase food, I went to a total of 4 stores.  ALL.WEEK.  FOUR!  I hit my favorite grocery store, Costco, Target & Tractor Supply Co.  First let me say, Costco is a fabulous place, but for NNM, it could be a downfall.  You could go nutty in there.  Discipline is the word of success at Costco.  I had a plan and a list and I was in and out with only what I needed and {shocking} spent less than $200.  Target.  The downfall of all NNM plans lies within the confines of that red bull’s eye.  Lucky for me I had only 15 minutes {literally} to get in & get out.  I didn’t even grab a cart!  I grabbed the coffee that was on sale and the printer ink cartridge we needed {note the word needed…kids have homework to complete here folks, it’s a need!}  and out I went.  Less than $30 {Shut. Up!} and 10 minutes.  Win!  Tractor Supply was so the ladies don’t die over yonder at the coop.  That’s definitely a need.  I learned that planning is the key to success.  Meal plans lead to grocery lists which lead to focus in my shopping adventures.  Also, avoiding certain temptation like the mall are good.  Also, not taking a cart is brilliant.  You cannot add things to a cart you’re not pushing.  So what did I do with all my free time?  Well, I started a quilt with fabric I already had on hand, I wrote a study guide for a book and I cleaned – the deep kind that’s usually reserved only for spring.  I must say it felt great to get some things done and not be in the car or pushing a cart every day.
  2. My spending sometimes is because I want to “fit in”.  Agh.  That sounds ugly.  But it’s true.  Case in point:  we are hosting a fun evening each week here at our home that includes dinner and a video and discussion.  There are a total of about 12 of us each week gathering here.  In order to accommodate the dining portion of the evening, we added another leaf to out table.  We have enough room that way to seat everyone.  Only problem is that the rug that sits under the table is not made to lie under a table as long as our table is with the leaf added.  I know enough from Pinterest to know that there is a standard for which I am judged regarding the length of the rug under my table.  And it currently does not meet this design standard.  At. All.  Just to show you…I took a picture.FullSizeRender 63This nearly drove me to the brink.  I kept thinking I have a houseload of people coming over for dinner and my rug/table situation looks like this.  I nearly canceled NNM & headed rug shopping.  No joke.  Craziness.  Absolute Craziness.  I had to stop myself and ask some hard questions- “Why do I feel like I have to have my home look ‘perfect’?  Why do I care that my rug/table situation is not Pinterest approved?  Why am I so concerned about the opinions of others that I would cancel NNM because of a rug?  Does it really, really matter?”  Truth be told, I learned that a lot of my shopping is a result of trying to “fit in”.  I want the cute sweater and boots that a fashionable friend has.  I want a kitchen with decor like the cool crowd.  I am easily manipulated, it would seem, by advertising and marketing.  And so are we all…otherwise they would have given up on commercials a long time ago.

So that’s what I have learned so far.  One week in.  I’m already done with the grocery shopping for this week & I don’t need chicken feed, so looks like I’ll be home the rest of the week.  just kidding.  not really.  I will.  Plus it’s like -20ºF and I’m really low on gas & I don’t want to stand outside and pump my gas, so looks like I’ll be home until spring now.  Or until the hubs drives my car.  Whichever.

How is your NNM going?  Have you tried to only purchase your needs?  What have you learned?  I’d love to know!  Leave me a comment!


In other news.  Did you see the Seahawk win {or not lose} yesterday?!  Holy Cow!  I’m a proud 12 and I’m thrilled that they’re still going strong.  Go Hawks!

 

Surviving the Always-Hungry-Teen-Boy Monster

I’m on the lookout for snacks for the kids.  I’m on the edge of housing two teenage boys.  Which for the purposes of moving heavy items and hauling wood is good.  But for the purposes of keeping the pantry and refrigerator stocked is not good.  These two consume large quantities of food.  And they will eat just about anything as long as it is easy and convenient.  Sometimes these are good choices.  Sometimes they are not.  And I can guarantee you that about 99% of these choices are a result of what hits that conveyor belt at the grocery store.  Their choices are a result of my choices.  Yikes!

Let’s pause a minute right here before we move forward, shall we?  Healthy food.  Junk food.  Artificial colors.  Sugar.  Dairy.  Gluten.  All these words can stir up a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and…well…judgments.  Believe me, I know.  Us mommies sometime like to jockey for position.  We want to be the best mommies we can be.  Sometimes that means we want to be the “better-than mommies” of all the mommies we know.  We strive to be the best through various things.   With schedules or belongings or the way we educate or where we shop or what we wear or what our kids do or what they’re wearing…  And sometimes we play the one-up game with what we eat & feed our family.  I agree that nutritious is important.  I agree that what we put in our bodies plays a huge role in our health.  I agree.  I am a FoodMatters follower too.  But…let me give an example.  I’ve been on the receiving end of some judgmental eyes in the grocery store as I blissfully pushed my cart full of Hot Pockets, Chef Boyardee, Cheez-Its, and the like.  On one occasion, a friend surprised me from behind in the frozen food aisle.  I was adding Tator Tots to my cart. The extra large bag.  Maybe two…  Anyway,  she scanned my cart with precision, stopping for a little longer on the PopTarts.  Her eyes screamed “there is death in this here cart!!” I held back, though I wanted to defend that we eat home cooked meals with real food regularly & this is just because this season is so busy and chaotic.  I stood silent instead wanting to jump into the frozen food cooler with the tots.   But as sure as I write this, I am 100% certain that I too have added my judgmental eye’s towards other’s food choices before.  For that, I am sorry.  After all, we are all in this thing called motherhood together.  We are chugging along & it is more helpful to cheer for each other & celebrate the goodness than nit-pick and scour and destroy.  Can I get an amen!

Ok.  Back to the snacks.  I’ve been looking for something to supplement {or add to} the snacks that the kids are already plowing through.  We have lots of fruit {see I had to slip that in for those who are still hyperventilating about the Hot Pockets and canned pasta}, cheese, crackers, pretzels, popcorn.  I quit buying yogurt because it has as much sugar as a Milky Way.  A mom has to have some sort of standards, right?  I don’t buy too many cookies, mostly because I have no will-power and if I eat one Chips Ahoy, I will eat the whole package.  I’ve been looking for something sweet that the kids would eat.  They’re onto me when it comes to “healthy” junk food & it sits uneaten.  Waste!  So what can I do?

I ran across this recipe.  No-Bake Energy Bites.  You’ll need oats, honey, crunchy peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, vanilla extract and ground flax seeds.  Flax seeds?  I have no idea what they are either.  But they’re good for you, so there’s that.  I actually like them quite a lot.  I add a tablespoon or two to smoothies when I whip those up.  Delicious.

FullSizeRender 61
click the picture for a printable recipe

It was a mess to mix up.  I suppose.  Honey and peanut butter.  Could’ve guessed.  But  I used my non-latex, food-safe gloves when I rolled them out, and it was way less messy than it could have been.  I was able to make 36 from this recipe.  They are pop-in-your-mouth size.  After a quick freeze to set them, we sampled.  I got the thumbs up all around.  Looks like I’ll be making more.

Give them a try & let me know what you think.  I’d love to hear from you.  And, hey, let’s all spend some great time cheering each other on and celebrating how awesome we’re nailing {or making it up as we go along} this mom thing.  *wink*

 

Nothing New Month

The last few days since we rang in 2016 have been filled with sorting, organizing, tossing & rearranging.  Why does taking the Christmas tree down always lead to rummaging through boxes and toys and closets and drawers?  And all that rummaging leads to the dreaded “why do we have all this stuff!”  Or is that just me?

I could be a minimalist.  Completely.  I could live with a wardrobe capsule. No problemo!  I could live in a tiny house (if it weren’t for the investment loss & tax deduction of mortgage interest).  I could do it.  Purge could be my middle name.  Yet, alas, we still have stuff.  Too much stuff.

And, though it was so long ago, I can still remember just 10 days ago.  Opening boxes and bags full of more stuff.  Seriously?!?  And now I find myself sorting through the stuff we already have to make room for the stuff we just received.  Is this insanity?

But wait.  It gets worse!  My inbox is plumb full of emails screaming at me about all the deals out there available to me.  Deals I can’t afford to miss.  There’s a limited time and I don’t want to miss out.  They have slashed prices.  Because retailers have too much stuff too, I suppose, and they need to make room for spring attire & decor.  Vicious, vicious cycle.

I almost got all caught up in it too.  I almost clicked through clothing stores {hello, Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale!!} and loaded up my cart and my doorstep with boxes full of more stuff.  They are so sneaky, those retailers.  But I caught myself before I clicked buy & slapped myself in the head & told myself “NO MORE STUFF!”

Please don’t read this post as some sort of finger-pointing post.  I don’t care if you buy stuff.  I’m usually all for a good deal & wouldn’t pass up a great sale for anything.  Buy whatever you’re little heart’s desire!  But for me.  For this family.  For this month it’s:

nothing new month

It’s a challenge, not going to lie.  We are (well, I am) so in the habit of just buying what I need (scratch that) want.  I buy what I want.  I want a new cardigan sweater, I buy it.  I want a new pair of running pants, I buy them. My kids want a new pair of pants, I buy them.  My house seems to be lacking a little something, I buy some new decor.  I have to admit that there are very few things that I actually “need”.  I have clothes, I have a good coat, a good hat, good mittens, plenty of shoes.  And so do all the other people who live in this house.  My home is well stocked and decorated alright.  Needs are very, very limited.  Probably could sum it up to food only.  Perhaps toilet paper.  Food & toilet paper.  Really.  Really.

So, January.  Nothing new.  Might be more challenging than it sounds.  To intentionally set out to buy nothing that I don’t need is a bit of a challenge.  It’s more of a change in shopping habits than anything else.    You know it’s true.  I walk though the automatic doors at the store with a red bullseye.  I push my cart up and down aisles and aisles of goodness.  So many sparkly, shiny, new, wonderful things.  Things I never knew I wanted.  Things that are certain to make me & my kids & my house just a bit better.  Certainly.  I enter with eleven things I need & leave with 73 things I never knew existed!  It’s like a drug.  A bad habit.  A very bad habit.  A habit that need to break.  And breaking habits is hard stuff.  {Talk to my fingernails}

I intend to break this habit this month.  Nothing new.  Might mean I abstain from the store with the red bullseye.  Might mean I abstain from the mall.  I certainly cannot set foot in Nordstrom {Half-Yearly Sale! hello!}  I should not browse through catalogs, browse through the internet stores…I should find other things to fill my time. Since when did shopping become a recreational activity anyway?

You’ll find me this month at the grocery store.  That might be it.  So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be either there or at home.  Maybe I’ll clean, maybe I’ll craft (heavens knows I have enough supplies on stock), maybe I’ll read or write or play with the chickens.  So, many possibilities.

Want to join in?  Leave me a comment & tell me what your plan for success will be.  We can follow up at the month-end and see how it all went.  Good luck!

2016. just love.

From where I’m sitting, 2015 has about 3 hours left.  2016 is within view.  My friends across the ocean have already welcomed it in.  We’re next.

And with a new year always come new resolutions.  Many are available to chose from.  Lose weight.  Be healthier.  Read my Bible daily.  Workout.  Save some money.  Wander the planet a bit.  Run a marathon.  Have a baby {not me, of course!}  Stop smoking.  Give up a bad habit.  So.  Many.  And the sad thing is, so many will set their resolution & WholeFoods and the gym will all be ridiculously busy for the next month, and then we will all just give up.  I mean, has anyone ever sat on December 31 with 3 hours left in the year & thought, “I nailed that resolution!”  I know I haven’t.  So much so, that I gave up making resolutions many years ago.  That whole hopes up, lose enthusiasm, fail cycle is exhausting.  Better to not even get on the wheel.

Thing is, so many of the resolutions I’ve set in the past were all about me.  {So much of everything is always all about me.}  I’m pretty good at disguising it, of course, to not make me look so selfish, but really…  And then when failure came a knocking, it’s also about me.  About how I’d failed.  And then I could dwell on how much of a loser I am.  Again all about me.  Oooooo so hard to be human.

This year.  Different.  At least I hope.  This year.

just lovejust love.  Because can you go wrong setting a resolution to love others better?  And lest I get confused on what love is, a little review.

Love is… patient.  Patient with the moron on the highway going 45 in a 60.  {Perhaps I should start with not referring to him as a moron.}  Patient with the protester blocking the road.  Patient with the child who just spilled sticky juice on the freshly mopped kitchen floors…again!  Patient is remembering that I’m not perfect either & we all need a bit of grace.  Bite that tongue, count to ten, think, pray, proceed with patience.

Love is…kind.  Kind to the friend who spoke sharply by offering soft words in return.  Kind to the woman who is frazzled with the project by assisting & helping.  Kind to the new waiter who is still learning by giving him a tip even though his service was lacking.  Being kind is speaking and helping in a manner that you would like to receive words & assistance.  Soften the tone, slow the motions, think, pray, proceed with kindness.

Love is…not envious, boastful or proud.  Celebrating the wins of others.  Sharing in their successes.  Forgetting your own wins, not always sharing your successes, not wishing their stuff as yours.  Funny thing, the more grateful we are for the amazing things in our own life, the more able we are to celebrate the amazing things in other people’s lives.  And if we remember that the amazing things are not all our doing, but come from above, we are less likely to get too boastful or proud.  Be grateful, remember where to focus that gratitude and celebrate others!

Love is…not rude.  Not being rude with the lady in line who was rude first.  Not being rude with sarcasm and eye-rolling.  Not being rude when rudeness might prove a point.  Rudeness seems most prevalent when one person perceives that they are above another person.  Status seems to dictate rude words, rude tones, rude motions.  Not being rude often means remembering that the ground is level at the cross, I’m no better than anyone else.  Look into another’s eyes, see them as an equal, think, pray, proceed without rudeness.

Love…does not demand it’s own way.  In other words, it puts others first.  Sometimes that means sacrifice.  Sacrifice of time, sacrifice of money, sacrifice of comfort, sacrifice of status {perceived status anyhow}…it means setting aside me for another.  Consider another’s needs, consider the cost to meet that need, pray and often step aside.

Love…keeps no record of wrong.  Pretty self explanatory.  But just in case…Let.  It.  Go.  She said something awful to you & lied about you & made you look like a fool.  She apologized.  Let. It. Go.  He forgot your birthday & forgot to change the baby’s diaper & always forgets to pick up his socks off the bedroom floor.  Let. It. Go.  God isn’t keeping track of my wrongs {hallelujah!} He threw those away in the ocean somewhere.  Why in the name of all things good should I be keeping track.  Let. It. Go!

Love is intentional.  My nature is selfish & usually love is reserved for those who I perceive as easy to love, which really means they love me & treat me well.  But I want to love the people who don’t treat me well.  Those who are hard to love.  Those who are different than me with different thoughts, priorities, beliefs and life.  I want to love those who I have no business loving, except that I’m told to by the One I follow.  I want to intentionally love.  To recognize when I’m not being loving, make an adjustment and love better.  I won’t get this right all the time.  I’m destined to fail.  But that’s ok.  Unlike the diet resolution, I see hope to throw myself back on the track when I fall off & love better tomorrow.  After all…Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

 

Happy New Year!  2016!  just love.

 

 

2015 in Review

Twenty•fifteen is slipping away.  With only about 42 hours left {2,520 minutes, if you care about such details} I thought I’d take a look back at some of the highlights from this year.

  1. We welcomed a new puppy to the house.  Little Olive, a miniature Schnauzer, came to Weed Acres in January.  unnamed-3
  2. Family vacation to Walt Disney World.  Although we’ve been to Disneyland Paris a couple of times {which I don’t highly recommend}this was our first trip to a real American Disney park.   We ventured to Florida for a spring vacation filled with Disney Magic.  Here we are in Animal Kingdom.  {look everyone’s smiling :)}AK_TREEBACK_7240969932
  3. The hubs & I headed “home” to Geneva.  My first trip back since moving back State-side nearly five years ago!  What a time it was catching up with friends & remembering the wonders of Europe.  Ah, the jet d’eau.IMG_2028
  4. Seventeen chicks joined the hen house at Weed Acres in 2015, bringing our total chicken population to 22.  I do love my ladies & the delicious eggs they lay!!  Here’s Lucille {or Ethel, I can’t tell them apart} all dressed up:IMG_2370
  5. I turned 40.   {we’ll just keep going}
  6. Sweet Ginger Hair Boy’s Destination Imagination team took 6th at Global Finals in Tennessee!  The 6th best team in the world!  Crazy Deflated Bagpipes.IMG_2425 2
  7. Our Weed Acres garden produced a bounty of produce!  Glorious, glorious vegetables filled the house all summer & autumn long!  We were overflowing!!  It’s a good thing us Weeds like our veggies! IMG_2331
  8. Little Weeds headed back to school in grades 5, 7 & 9.  All middle & high school kiddos now.  Wow!IMG_2590
  9. I completed my first marathon!!  Bucket list-check!  Came in at about my goal time, hated miles 17-23, said I’d never ever ever do that again, but considering it now.  This is me at 26.1999999 miles!  unnamed-6
  10. The Barn at Weed Acres went up. IMG_2040
  11. Headed out west to visit the family.  Took in the WSU Cougar Homecoming Game.  Go Cougs!!IMG_2410
  12. We hit the hills for a morning of family sledding on the fresh fallen snow.  And despite sweet gingers expression, we all had a blast!IMG_2549

Twenty•fifteen was a fantastic year.  We made some great family memories.  The closer we are to approaching kids flying out of this Weed nest, the more I realize these moments are limited & should be treasured above almost all else.  My word of the year for 2015 was “JOY”.  I think I found it with these people I live with & love.

Here’s to 2016!

day 24 :: Merry Christmas

Hard to believe we are at the end of this Christmas Advent road.  Today, day 24, brings us to the prophecy in Isaiah 9:2-7 of the coming One we celebrate.  The entire reason for this season was foretold hundreds of years before his birth.  And as we celebrate the prophecy fulfilled, let us remember that there is prophecy yet to come…hope in this broken world.  May this hope be the force that drives us to love God with all our heart & our neighbor as ourself.  And always remember – Love Wins!

Wishing you & your entire family a wonderful Christmas!

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Today’s song is My Soul Magnifies the Lord by Chris Tomlin.  

day 23 :: Winter Snow

First off, if you downloaded the free Christmas Carol advent cards & have been following along, there is an error on today’s card.  The song listed on the card is Winter Storm.  However, the actual title of the song is Winter Snow.  You can find it here.  It’s gorgeous!


John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Christmas is really about the cross.  About redemption.  Salvation.

Philippians 2:5-8

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Christ was God.  Is God.  It’s so confusing.  It’s beyond logic.  And yet it is. I believe that – because I believe the Word of God.  But it’s a conundrum in the brain if I sit & try to piece it all together for too long.  That’s faith, I suppose.

Notice the bold emphasis in the verse above.  I added those because I think they’re worth noting.  I sometimes forget that Jesus didn’t have to come here to Earth, be a human & die an awful death.  He didn’t.  He could have kept on being the King of the Universe with all the privileges that such a title holds.  {I’m imagining those would be substantial & quite nice}

Rather HE CHOSE to.  There’s a huge difference in having to do something & choosing to do something.  Ask my kids. Jesus chose!  He GAVE UP his divine privileges, He TOOK the position of a slave, He TOOK the form of a human, He HUMBLED himself & CHOSE to die a criminal’s death.

HE CHOSE.  At any moment, I truly believe he could have called himself out of this world, out of his pain, out of his suffering, out of his humanity.  He was absolutely still 100% God while he was 100% human {I know, …it hurts my brain too}  But instead of fleeing back to his privileges, he CHOSE you.  He CHOSE me.  He CHOSE whosoever.  And he remained.

I don’t understand why he chose to save the world this way.  As today’s song says, he could have come in like a hurricane, or with such force that no one could disclaim or disregard his entry, his deity, his power.  But he didn’t.  He came in as a baby, in a most quiet fashion.  Still, hidden, quiet, soft, slow.  I don’t understand it.  I wouldn’t have chosen that method.  But then again, I perhaps wouldn’t have given up my privileges & my position & humbled myself at all.  Good thing it wasn’t up to me to redeem humanity.  Good thing.

Christmas is the celebration of this choice.  That the God of creation, the God who reigns forevermore CHOSE to put aside his comfy existence in Heaven, his position, his privilege, his very existence as deity to come and rescue us all.  To return us to him.  Because he loves us so very much.

 Love wins!