Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Shelter in Place Week 2: Change in Mindset

Wednesday afternoon the sun, which previously had been hiding behind a veil of fog, finally came out and drug every single one of my neighbors outside with it.

I mixed up a few cocktails (vodka/lemon/honey water) and met a few moms outside to sit six feet apart and catch up on life.

This hour was what my spirit needed to be reminded that even though this isn't the most fun season, we can still find spots of joy. We later had small group and after we discussed how difficult motherhood is during this time of shelter in place/social distancing, one of the amazing ladies in my group suggested that we need to change the way we look at this experience.

Instead of schlepping through each day, thinking This will be over soon, we should act as if this is what every day for the rest of our life will be like. With this change in mindset, what would we do differently? After thinking about this, I have and/or am going to make the following changes:

  • Be creative in ways to be social. Since Wednesday I have chatted numerous times at the end of a driveway or on a sidewalk, keeping 6 feet away. I have also chatted with friends more in group texts and over Zoom. Ina has been writing people letters and I am thinking about joining her.

  • Continue to exercise and eat like I normally would. In the past, I would view a schedule disruption, like a snow day, as a free pass and go into vacation mode, not exercise, and eat junk food, and then feel yucky the whole day. I have to remind myself that this isn't a snow day or a vacation day, this is normal life now and I have to make the best of it. Even though I am not going to to the gym, I still wake up early, do my bible study, and turn on an exercise video. I have loved Orange Theory, Fitness Blender, and Beach Body workouts and just started 21 Day Fix Extreme. I also am trying to go on a walk or run once a day just to get out of the house. Likewise, I am keeping our meals Paleo, focusing on getting lots of vegetables and protein and healthy fats. 

  • Get dressed. Even though staying in my pajamas sounds good in theory, I never feel good when 2 pm rolls around and I haven't brushed my teeth. Obviously I am not office ready, but I have tried to do the bare minimum hygiene essentials, put on a bra and a shirt that isn't stained with paint or food, and quickly brush on some mascara and blush. The bar is low, my friends. 
  • Keep a work balance. On the days I have the kids and have to work at the same time, instead of just assuming that work will be done eventually, whenever I get a chance, I carve out times when I know I will be able to work. For me, that is in the morning before the kids wake up, after lunch when I can turn on a movie and/or Mira takes a nap, and late afternoon when Dan gets home. On the days when I am lucky enough to have someone else (Nonnie!) care for/teach/feed the girls, I accept her help with open arms and shush the guilt I feel for missing out on the experience of homeschooling my kids.
What about you? What would you change? 

Moving on...Thursday morning I took my mom to her doctor's appointment, and after 8 weeks of being non-weight bearing, her x-ray showed her knee had healed and she was given the okay to start walking again! We celebrated with a stop by Aldi on the way home where I saw Danielle!

Friday (the day the girls stay with me), I woke up early to work and then transformed into home school mom for the rest of the morning. 

Both Ina and Cora had Zoom meetings with their class for the first time and my heart swelled when I saw how excited they both were to see their teachers and friends. 

We went on a walk that afternoon, which was necessary for both their restlessness and my sanity. 

My friend/neighbor Kim dropped off treats for the adults and kids (she's mine, you can't have her)

...and we ended up meeting a few others mom to form four corners on Brooke's driveway.

I worked most of Saturday, with little bursts of painting and parenting in between patient calls. Sunday we finally finished painting the living room. I will show you an after picture once it is put back together...I have faith that will happen one day. 

And now we have started another week, where everything is a little different, but a little more the same. God speed, my friends. <3

A few recipe recommendations: 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Shelter in Place Weeks 1 and 2

Hello there from my side of the internet!

Before I say anything else, I hope and pray that you and your family are safe, healthy, and comfortable during this unsettling time of COVID-19. If you are not and you can think of any way that I can help, PLEASE let me know.

We are currently doing the only thing we know will help: staying home. Social distancing is not something that comes naturally to me.

(Danielle and I happened to be at Aldi at the same time and even though we stood far apart while we chatted, we both leaned in for a selfie without thinking twice about it, until multiple well meaning people pointed out we were not six feet apart when I posted that picture on my Instagram stories. Fail.)

I have had multiple moments when my sub-conscience thinks of someone to visit or some friends to have over for dinner, before reality sets back in and crushes my sociable soul. Erasing every social event in my planner in the last half of March, April, and possibly beyond is small beans compared to what so many others have had to deal with (sickness, job loss, extra work, childcare issues, etc.) so I am once again counting every single blessing and good thing to be thankful for.

Explaining to the girls that school is on hold, they can't go to church, dance is now online, and yes, please go outside (but NO, DO NOT stand next to the neighbor kids. No! You cannot share that food with them! Yes, I told you that sharing is good, but NOT NOW!) has been incredibly challenging, but I think we finally have the hang of it.

One of our sweet neighbor friends had a birthday party planned for last weekend, but instead we had a "street party" where every family stood six feet apart, sang happy birthday, and cake was distributed with incredibly sanitized hands. Cora was nearly traumatized when she watched presents being opened from afar but was not able to get close to/touch/play with them. Although I hate to admit it, new toys and/or containers to put them in are her love language. For example, last night she saw me getting the coffee pot ready and her eyes lit up when she asked if she could use the filter basket to put her Hatchimals in. Sorry, I digress.

As Spring break was last week, schooling from home officially started today. My mother-in-law in my constant hero, as not only is she caring for my children while Dan and I continue to work (me from my home office as usual, not much as changed, and him still out delivering "essential" items to his customers), she is also now their teacher. I have armed her with a schedule, to-do list, and warnings to the girls that they better be on best behavior.

On Friday I gave her a break and combined my work day with their care/school in the best way I knew how.

Having a schedule helped tremendously, particularly with me being able to show myself that I worked a good chunk of time in the morning and would work again later, so there was little need to feel constantly pulled in multiple directions. (I fully recognize this only worked because my work is flexible and I only had to force everything together for one day. This model is not sustainable for many reasons and I feel for the parents that are having to work full time and school full time.)

In other news, Dan and I have decided to use this time at our house to our advantage and paint!

We haven't really done a thing to the house since we moved in, other than paint the girls' rooms when they were born. The brown walls and ceiling that I adored when we bought the house seemed to be getting darker by the day and closing in around me.

I sent Dan to Home Depot with instructions to get enough "light grey" paint to cover most walls in our house and he returned with 10 gallons of darkish gray/light blue/periwinkle.

I still can't decide if I am going to like the color, but why let a silly little thing like that stop me from attacking this project with gusto? Regardless, the ceiling is now WHITE, and this alone brightens up the room so much!

We knocked out a good chunk over the weekend (the ceiling and the majority of the living room walls) and I have broken the rest of the living room into reasonable bite sized chunks to finish this week. Then, this weekend we will hopefully rent scaffolding and tackle the very tall entry way. And Dan thought we would be taking extra naps during this quarantine. Ha!

Before the world shut down, Ina had her last basketball game, which she almost missed because she had the flu. Again. BUT, this time we treated early with Tamiflu and she turned around in almost no time at all.

I was sad to see basketball season end, and my opportunity to see my sister and her family twice a week go right along with it. I am looking forward to social times again!

Also, we celebrated Danielle's birthday by eating nachos and play Five Crowns, which is my idea of a perfect evening.

Two weeks later, the 4 of us had to chat in a slightly different way.

Although it isn't ideal, I am very thankful for Zoom! From happy hour to small group,

to dance lessons,

that one application alone is making this incredibly easier. (Like my office-turned dance studio? The girls' tap and ballet shoes now live next to my Clinical Pharmacology textbook. Life just got real.)

Recipes/meals to share - so many that I made myself prune them down to the best. Seriously friends, if you are getting extra time at home, use it in the kitchen! You won't regret it.

- Curry shrimp with cauliflower rice and fresh spinach and roasted broccoli. Holy YUM.

- Slow cooker kaula pig (quickly becoming my favorite recipe ever) with cabbage cooked in the juice

- Asian meatballs, ginger sesame roasted carrots, and cucumber onion salad

- Fajitas - nothing fancy - marinate the chicken breast, peppers, and onions in olive oil, lime juice, salt, and garlic and grill away

- Grilled chicken with Peruvian green sauce - still a family favorite

- Pan fried burgers, salad with homemade ranch, and oven fries - a meal we will likely have weekly. Did you know that eating sauerkraut on a burger makes you not even miss the bun?

- Korean beef bowls - do it.

Also, I cooked extensively from Nom Nom Paleo: Ready or Not! and loved every recipe: asparagus beef stir fry, ginger sesame roasted carrots, cracklin' chicken thighs, salmon patties, and coleslaw, just to name a few.

I hope that being home all of the time gives me more time to post. Talk to you  soon! <3

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Outside Music

Behold, the only picture taken of me all week by Cora, the expert photographer.

There are many things to be said about last week, but at the top of the list is the fact that I checked off every single box in my planner...until Saturday, when instead of cleaning the back yard and prepping food for the week, Dan and I fought for 4 hours instead.

We know better, and once again I am saying this not to bash on my husband but to clearly say that life isn't always perfect, even if every box is checked.

We still managed to somewhat enjoy a date night with mediocre fajitas on Saturday night while my mom graciously stayed with the kids.

Rewind to earlier in the week when Cora had her first dentist appointment in two years (seriously, I'm killing it as a mom). As she calmly sat there in the chair, letting them poke around in her mouth and giggled when the sucking straw "tickled her" I couldn't believe how much she had grown from the two years earlier when keeping her in the chair was very similar to caging a wild animal.

Wednesday we had to cancel small group, yet again, because Mira still had a fever. Thankfully, Wednesday was the last day and our house been fever free since. We have used the extra down family time to watched The Mandalorian which only further secured our family's obsession with Star Wars.

Thursday I grocery shopped, and am regretting not adding more bags of kale to my cart, in the low chance of a quarantine, these are the (admittedly, ridiculous) things I worry about.

Friday I drove Ina to basketball practice where she literally laid down on the court while she was the man out. Maybe she was still tired from being sick or maybe she doesn't like basketball as much as I want her to. Time will tell.

Saturday morning Ina's team won a nail biting game, to which Ina contributed much spirit, cheers, and smiles but little/no baskets, rebounds, passes, forced turnovers,etc. On the way home I told her we were going to do some chores and she moaned saying, "Ugh! I have already won a basketball game today. What more do you want from me?!?"

While we are on the topic of funny things my kids say, I picked Cora up from school yesterday and she was so excited to show me the surprise she had made for me and Dan.

Cora: Mom, I made you and Daddy a gift. But you have to share.
Me: OK, I can share.
Cora: Actually, you can just have it, because Daddy farts.

This is right in line with Mira, who has taken to calling everyone a "poopy face" or a "chicken butt" and although I know I should strongly discourage this language, and I totally would have with Ina or Cora, I just can't help but giggle when she says it, which of course only reinforces the behavior. Dan and I have even lovingly started calling each other either name as a term of endearment.

After church on Sunday, Dan and I started up the grill and then dropped Ina off at dance and then hurried to prep some food, then picked Ina up from dance with the rest of the family to join our friends for lunch and fellowship outside, enjoying the beautiful weather.

This was the kind of afternoon that recharges the soul. The kids played outside while the moms chatted and the boys had hair cuts, played pickle ball, and hung out in the shed. Ladies and gentlemen, the dark days of winter are officially behind us. Hallelujah!

Ina's school music spring performance was last night. She has been talking about this for weeks and was so proud to be banging on those drums and singing her heart out. She was particularly pumped about the "surprise" in the last song when they were singing about the "colors of the Earth" and every kid whipped out a different color handkerchief to sway around. I was pretty impressed that all 80 first graders had the self control to keep those contained for the previous 15 minutes.

The Whole30/Paleo movement is still going strong in my house. Here are some recipes we made this week:

Pakistani Kima: delicious, but I would not make it with green beans again.

Carnitas, slaw, pickled carrots, and pineapple cucumber salsa - these carnitas are melt in your mouth amazing

Chicken Tinga - from Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans cookbook, eating in the van on top of a baked potato during Ina's basketball practice.

Bacon wrapped chicken thighs with a lemon date sauce, citrus brussels sprouts salad - both from Nom Nom Paleo: Ready or Not. I have both of Michelle's cookbooks checked out from the library (until the ordered ones come in) and I have to admit I have become slightly obsessed with her. She is a pharmacist who loves her family and food. She is my hero. Sadly, there are no pictures of this delicious meal, but many of my family members can vouch for it's deliciousness.

Korean ribs and slaw. These were just as amazing the second time around and although they take a long time to cook, most of it is completely hands off- my kind of perfect Sunday evening meal.

Asparagus/bacon/egg salad - so so yummy. 

This is the last week before spring break, which seems way too early. We have lots of things to look forward to! Have a good week!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Weekend to Remember

Hello there!

I am  refreshed after a weekend away from home and the kids.

Well...kind of. Dan and I did attend Weekend to Remember, a marriage conference put on around the country by FamilyLife. We opted for the local conference and decided to stay home instead of at the conference hotel. I mostly don't regret that decision, as the kids were having a blast without us.

Ina was with my sister's family living her best life with an aunt who has the patience, talent, and tools to give her the most beautiful beach waves I have ever seen!

Cora and Mira were with Grandma Frankie, who took them on many adventures, including feeding the ducks at Bass Pro and Mira not taking off her beloved Elsa pajamas for 48 hours straight.

We almost didn't go to the conference because Ina had the flu with a fever the entire week before and Cora had a fever on Thursday. Thankfully, Friday morning everyone woke up fever free, so I un-cancelled all of our various babysitters, rides, and arrangements. (Mira waited until a few hours after we were home from the conference to spike a 103 fever and puke all over me.)

I am so thankful that we were able to actually go. I won't go into the deep details in this otherwise light and short post, but this conference was powerful. We walked in with a lot of struggle and doubt. While I know the road ahead will still require work, Dan and I both left with a renewed feeling of hope and love for each other and Jesus.

Me: Dang, I didn't realize we were both wearing flowers.
Dan: Racheal, if you are ever wearing flowers then we are both wearing flowers.
Me: Well, true.

We laughed, cried, and laughed until we cried. We had some real and tough conversations that left us feeling more transparent and vulnerable than we ever have. We made goals for our relationship and marriage. We wrote LOVE LETTERS to each other. Seriously, we haven't done that since high school.

If you have ever wondered if you would like this conference, I would strongly recommend you attend.

After the last session on Saturday we headed to a local seafood place where we stuffed ourselves to the gills with crab legs and boiled shrimp. We tried to talk to each other about something other than our kids...but at times we just sat in silence and that was okay too. We are determined to make date nights a priority in our schedule. Anyone want to volunteer to babysit?

Before the conference, even though Ina was sick, life went on as usual. My aunt and uncle were in town and stayed a night at a new hotel in our town. Cora was so excited to go "on vacation" with John John and Char Char and after a steak dinner we put on our swimsuits and headed down the elevator to their hotel pool.

I forgot to pack a cover-up, so my uncle was nice enough to let me borrow his shorts. Thankfully, Dan has his smart phone to capture my absolute coolest moments.

After enjoying the water for an hour, Mira pooped in the pool, which was our cue to exit. There are few things as fun as cleaning poo off a wet, freezing cold, and screaming toddler while you are also wet and freezing cold and trying your hardest not to scream.

Mira still has a fever today, but I am praying we wrap this season of sickness up ASAP.

My mom and I are wrapping up our last week of Whole30 this week, but honestly I love it so much I don't want to stop. Whole90, here we come!

Here are a few recipes/dinner ideas from the week:

Sweet potato and veggie sloppy joes

Slow cooker kalua pig - AMAZING and seriously the easiest recipe ever. We have already made again for breakfasts/lunches this week.

(It tastes amazing crisped up with kale with kimchi as a side, like pictured below).

Pressure cooker butter chicken with cauliflower rice and steamed broccoli

Sheet pan sausage, potatoes, and brussels sprouts shoved in my face on the way to the conference

Smoked chicken legs, bacon and brussles salad, beets. That salad was totally worth the 3 (yes, three) times I burnt the roasted nuts by forgetting they were in the oven.

I hope you have a great week!

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