Choosing Hope

Choosing Hope (a humble place)

There are three maps that I’ve been referring to a lot in the last few weeks. The first is this one:

Choosing Hope (a humble place)

Followed by this one:

Choosing Hope (a humble place) 

And then this one:

Choosing Hope (a humble place) 

And I am hopeful.

Before the whole Massachusetts discussion, leaving Colorado was a distant option in my mind. I wanted to stay here because, honestly, this is what I know. I’ve been here for 19 years now, which is a little hard to believe. My dad is here. I have friends here (though I realized the other day that the majority of my friends live in other states). I love the mountains.

But even though I’ve made some amazing friends and memories here, I’ve never really wanted to be here. This has been the case even from the very beginning when my dad announced that we were moving across the country in the middle of my freshman year of high school. I wrote on my About page when I first published it that I wanted to move back to the midwest, where I grew up, or to Ireland, someday. I’ve never changed that line, which is why it’s strange for me to think that now, when I have pretty much the perfect opportunity to chase that dream, I decided that I wanted to stay here. Part of me wonders if I came to peace with the fact that it’s not Colorado that I dislike, but rather Denver. Part of me wonders if I was just too scared to think about packing everything up and moving anywhere else because it’s all out there. What do I know about out there?

But when Massachusetts started to become more and more of a possibility and we started looking at things like home prices and raw milk availability and homeschool laws and taxes in other states, I began to picture myself out there and I started to feel really hopeful. Hopeful that maybe that little voice I heard when E was first laid off that said that there’s something better out there for us wasn’t just me talking to myself. That maybe it’s the truth…that maybe it’s okay to dream about something better. That maybe all of these dreams I have about our future can come true…..though not in Colorado.

I still have land envy, and it’s all the more true now that B is a real little boy (rather than only a toddler hinting at becoming a real little boy) and has so.much.energy, but is cooped up all day because our “yard” consists of a second-floor patio. When we started looking at homes in Denver earlier this year, the ones that fell within our price range were modest places on tiny lots. We’re not farmers. We weren’t looking to buy 40+ acres or even just a hobby farm. But we wanted space. Somewhere we could spread our legs a little and maybe get a few chickens. We knew, though, that as long as we stayed in Denver, that wasn’t going to happen and we lowered our hopes and thought maybe a cookie cutter lot, crammed in with 7 others one one acre, was just how it would be.

When I started looking at real estate in other places, I began to realize just how inflated prices are here and that’s when I start to get excited. We have the entire country open to us now. It’s not as if we didn’t before, but there’s something about not being tied down with a job that makes the decision to leave a little less difficult. So E has been applying in all kinds of places and each time he does, I load up the real estate site just to see what’s available and, without fail, I see beautiful, HUGE lots (at least an acre or more) with trees and views and streams and NATURE and all the things that go with having land. And I get so, so excited for what our future can look like.

I think it’s pretty easy in a situation like ours to get down and discouraged and feeling pretty hopeless, especially this time of year when everyone else is making holiday plans and embracing the cheer of the season. But, really, I’ve found that hope is a choice and I want to keep ending up on the positive side of that choice. I want to be able to dream about the future. Dream about the house we’ll end up raising our kids in. Dream about the little piece of property that will be ours and the possiblities that will open up to us when we have a place to raise those chickens and plant a garden and feel grass between our toes in the summer time.

I choose to be hopeful.

Foxhole Moms

Foxhole Moms (a humble place)

The topic of friendship, and in particular, how difficult it is to maintain friendships while you’re trying to be a mother, has come up in a lot of my conversations quite often lately

It just doesn’t work. At least not for me.

Admittedly, I’m jaded. The last week has been a roller coaster ride of emotions (E found a job! we’re moving to Massachusetts! I’m so excited!) (they offered the job to someone else before he got a chance to interview. we’re not moving to Massachusetts. I’m so sad.) (they have other positions and he has another interview today! maybe we’re moving to Massachusetts? I’m so confused.) that I’m really ready to disembark and I’ve just been so….well….blah. It’s at times like these, when our little family is hurting in some way, that I realize just how alone we are. That we have to push through this big mess of joblessness and struggles by ourselves because we lack the family/friends support system that those around us seem to have.

And that sucks.

But back to the topic at hand….the inability, at least for me, to maintain friendships in the “little” years. I was telling a friend a few weeks ago that it’s ironic that the time of my life when I’ve needed friends probably the most, when I’m trudging through the daily routine of reading the same board book 16,000 times, laundry that seems to perpetually be overflowing out of the hamper, dishes that refuse to stay washed (why do people keep eating?!), the never-ending changing of the diapers, fighting for naps and a few hours of unbroken sleep, and all of the other things that go with motherhood, also happens to be the time of life when it’s pretty much impossible to invest anything into relationships outside of those with my children.

I still talk to friends every so often through a few text messages or Facebook wall posts, but there’s no connection. No deep conversations. Not even shooting the breeze for an hour or so on the telephone because, honestly, the idea of being able to concentrate on a phone conversation makes me laugh. I think we try during play dates, but there’s really only so far you can venture into the world of bonding when you’re trying to make sure your son isn’t sticking his finger in an outlet and your daughter isn’t attempting to eat someone’s shoe.

On the rare occasions that I could possibly go out and meet a friend for coffee or some insane indulgence along that line, their schedule is full of mommy stuff with no chance to get away and it never works out (and the same is true for me when their schedule is free). And so the friendship barely sputters along, running on the fumes of good intentions.

I don’t know how to get through this unscathed. Sometimes I see myself finally climbing out of the foxhole that is raising small children and I wonder if I’ll still see any friends climbing out of their own foxholes. If the bonds we formed long before or even just before this whole motherhood thing happened will still exist, or if the years of neglect, missed connections, and the changes that come with becoming a parent have frayed those bonds beyond repair. Will we even be able to relate to each other anymore? Will we have anything to talk about?

I’ve really started to get communal living in the last few years and seeing how it could be awesome. The idea of having some child supervising backup from people who share our parenting ideals and style, folks our kids know and are used to, and be able to go off and have a little quiet time with a friend sounds pretty heavenly right now. Even just being able to connect at a more shallow level on a daily basis is something I’d take right now.

Anyone want to start a commune with me?

Weekly Meal Plan: 1 December to 7 December

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getting ready…

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The turkey was a success! No one died from food poisoning and we only had one small fire. I call that a good Thanksgiving! I’ll definitely be a lot less intimidated in the future to roast a turkey, especially if I can get my hands on a proper roasting pan.

Weekly Meal Plan: 1 December to 7 December (a humble place)

For those who want to be in the know…today is the last day for the Plan to Eat 50% off sale! I always renew my subscription during this annual sale as it’s a fantastic deal at $20/year instead of the usual $40/year. That works out to $1.67/month which I think is more than worth the time and stress it saves me to meal plan each week.

I’m going to include links to the recipes that are available online, otherwise I’ll include links to the resource where I got the recipe. Here’s this week: [Read more…]

System Status: November 2014

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getting the advent candles ready. #advent #christmas

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Job possibilities are now starting to float to the surface and we’re getting a tiny bit excited, especially as the most promising one is in Massachusetts.

NEW ENGLAND!

That’s a little crazy to me and I go back and forth between being very excited and being very scared. But there’s no offer on the table so I am, of course, getting ahead of myself as usual. Still…it’s kind of fun to think about…. System Status: November 2014 (a humble place)

In the end of November I’m into….

Books.

I didn’t make it through The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. I don’t know if it was the narrator or just the writing style or a combination of the two, but I just.couldn’t.do.it.

Fortunately, at about the time I was kind of getting sick of that book, The Invention of Wings arrived at the library and Sue Monk Kidd delivered a fantastic story yet again. She wrote one of my very favorite books (The Secret Life of Bees), so I had high hopes for this one and she did not disappoint. The audiobook version had particularly fantastic narrators, which definitely helps the story along as well. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the story. It was sad and hopeful and heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time.

I started The Luminaries (24 discs!!!) but also had a hard time with that one as the narrator began the reading with a list of characters that I will not be able to go back and reference due to the very nature of it being an audiobook. This was followed by a half hour description of a guy walking into a smoking room in a hotel. I’d like to try this one again when I actually am able to sit down and read a book.

After I gave up on that one, I started Life After Life which I had forgotten I had reserved through Overdrive and didn’t really interest me. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try as the story is very intriguing and I love her writing style. If you like books that play with time, this is a great read.

You can also follow along with my reading addiction through my Goodreads account.

TV.

The Blacklist. Of course. E also sucked me into, of all shows, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which I thought looked very idiotic when he started watching it last year and now I find it hilarious (but still idiotic System Status: November 2014 (a humble place) ). I blame it on serious pregnancy brain last fall and the fact that I was completely void of a sense of humor (E can verify this). I wanted to catch the Death Come to Pemberley series on PBS, but never got around to it, so I’ll have to wait until it’s available somewhere else. Booo.

Music.

We Are Young by fun. Ironically, this song makes me feel old, but it’s just so catchy! I did look up the band members as I’m prone to get a little stalker-y with media that I particularly like, and they’re all over the age of 30, so maybe I can hold off on checking myself into the geriatric ward just yet.

Movies.

We watched Edge of Tomorrow on our anniversary. I know….nothing says happy ten years like post-apocalyptic mind-benders. Did you know they actually changed the name of the movie to Live. Die. Repeat. when they released it on DVD because it did so poorly in the box office and they thought maybe people were confused as to what it was really about? I thought that was kind of funny. System Status: November 2014 (a humble place)

Food.

The Italian meatloaf I made earlier this month was a great success, even for a girl who doesn’t really like meatloaf. It was easy too, which earns it an A+ in my book.

Darina Allen’s baked cod with cream and bay leaves was fantastic. And any recipe that includes fish and me using the word “fantastic” to describe it must be very special indeed as I am not a fan of fish. I’m planning on sharing my grain-free version of the recipe at some point so you can also partake in the fantastic fishiness.

E and I (B is dairy-free at the moment) loved this recipe for homemade ranch dressing using, of all things, kefir instead of sour cream. It turned out perfectly and will now be a staple in our house.

Projects.

I never got around to making the stockings this month, other than cutting out a template for them. That’s still sitting on a folded up piece of muslin, waiting for me to do something with it. I still have a month, though, right?! System Status: November 2014 (a humble place)

I did manage to get a nice imprint of C’s foot for a wall hanging. I have one of B’s foot too when he was that age. So tiny.

And there you have the state of the Reb. System Status: November 2014 (a humble place)

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Weekly Meal Plan: 24 November to 30 November

chihuly <3

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I’m going with easier dishes this week since Thursday is going to be a LOT of work….but worth it! We’re having some friends over and I’m a wee bit nervous as I’ve never roasted a bird larger than five pounds (E normally grills our turkeys, but since we got a larger bird this year, we decided to roast it). The recipe I have (see below) calls for a 13.5-hour roasting time which will probably make for a very tasty and moist turkey, but also a very sleepy me. Still! I’d like my first Thanksgiving meal with a real, full turkey to be a success. 

I’m going to include links to the recipes that are available online, otherwise I’ll include links to the resource where I got the recipe. Here’s this week: [Read more…]

Fried Peppers and Onions

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Fried Peppers and Onions (a humble place)

Today I’m sharing a recipe. Hooray recipes!

My very favorite side dishes are the ones that I can prep and stick in a pot or a pan then forget about for 45 minutes while I prepare the main dish. Bonus meal idea: side dishes AND main dishes that I can prep and forget. Why haven’t more of those been invented?

But I digress.

Fried peppers and onions are one of my favorite prep and forget side dishes because they take very little effort but provide a tasty little addition to pretty much any type of meal. I often serve this with tacos, but it also goes really well with Spanish omelet too.

Peppers and Onions
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 medium onion peeled and thinly sliced
  2. 2 red peppers seeded and sliced into strips
  3. 2 tablespoons butter
  4. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  5. 2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
  6. 1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves (click here to get $10 off your first order at Vitacost!)
  7. sea salt
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter and olive oil together in a pan.
  2. Add peppers and onions, cooking over low heat for at least 30 minutes, or until peppers are very soft.
  3. Add garlic, basil leaves, and salt and cook for a few more minutes.
  4. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Nourishing Traditions
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This is My Body, Broken for You

This is My Body, Broken for You (a humble place)

I found it ironic that I had this post all written up, but wasn’t sure if I should share it because I always hesitate when I hit the Publish button on posts like this. Almost in response to my hesitation, an article that echoes my sentiments nearly identically was published in the latest issue of Soul Gardening and I decided that I wanted to share my heart on the topic as well. I find courage in knowing that I’m not alone in my mental rabbit trails.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of mothers, the beauty of our broken bodies, and the gift we’ve been giving in becoming even just a little more like Christ. There’s a specific phrase that I keep returning to in the wee hours of the morning when my eyes refuse to stay open and my spine can barely keep me upright, but I’m rocking a little girl who just won’t sleep and I can’t seem to set her down. Or when I simply want to sit and rest for a while but a little boy with more energy than should be physically allowed literally spins around and around in circles in front of me, asking me to do five things in the span of three seconds.

This is my body, broken for you.

These days, my body is weary. Weary is the best word I can think of to describe it as it feels, at times, like a constant state of being worn out, tired, and spread thin. Weary. I am weary.

Many mothers begin their new role by allowing their bodies to be broken. To be torn. To be cut. To be stretched. To be mutilated. And all by choice. I remember in those frenzied minutes after the ambulance arrived at the hospital and they rushed me to the OR to get B out via emergency c-section, I was devastated and scared beyond words. But even in that insanity, I knew that I would do anything to make sure my little boy was okay, even allow someone to cut me open.

For the mothers whose babies didn’t grow in their bellies but resided prominently in their hearts, there is the invisible brokenness. The brokenness that tears your soul in two when the only way to be with your baby until money is raised, piles of paperwork are gone through, and legal obstacles are tackled, is a gentle caress of a sweet, tiny face frozen in time on a computer screen. And then, sometimes, they never even get to caress those little faces in real life.

For the mothers whose babies were here and then not here so suddenly, there is the heartbreak of being a mother, yet having no earthly person to show for it. Of the memory of two positive lines that ultimately equaled a pain and loss beyond words. Of the bittersweet taste of having loved that little person deeply and intensely despite their whisper of a life here on earth. And of the terrifying dive back into the depths of that pain to face it all again for another tiny person.

We go on to the “little years,” residing over these small people who rely on us for their every need, but have no way of expressing this need other than through piercing cries. This often means saggy breasts laced with stretch marks, mastitis, sore nipples, blisters, being bitten, etc. All in the name of feeding our children…nourishing their little bodies so they can thrive. We carry and wear them for endless hours regardless of the protests that our backs and feet may express. We spend countless nights staring blurry-eyed at the clock as the minutes tick by, breathing in the scent of the little downy heads that have been given to us, wondering why they just won’t sleep.

And then, of course, there is the emotional brokenness. The brokenness that only our hearts know from the perpetual mourning that accompanies motherhood. The good-bye to each phase. The feeling of each precious step going by far too quickly.

And yet, we continue to allow ourselves to be broken for them.

I look at pictures of myself now and compare them to the ones taken before I became a mother, and I can see it in my face, that aging that occurs during long periods of sleep deprivation. I see it in the multitude of white strands that adorn my head and seem to be popping up more and more often. I see it in the lines radiating from my belly button and the extra skin that seems to have made itself quite at home.

And I am honored.

I am honored that I get to learn what it is to be more like Christ in this way – to sacrifice ourselves for our children. I am honored that I get to be the mother to these amazing little people who I call my own. I am honored that through all of these struggles and the physical and emotional pain that so often accompanies motherhood, I get to hear “mama” and know that it means me.

I am honored to be broken.

 

Weekly Meal Plan: 10 November to 16 November

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Weekly Meal Plan: 10 November to 16 November (a humble place)

We were married in this spot 10 years ago last Thursday. ♥

I’m doing some blog housekeeping these days and finally switched my feed back to the default WordPress feed. If you’re subscribed through Feedburner, please change your subscription to the default one at http://ahumbleplace.com/feed/. Feedburner hasn’t been supported in several years…I’m behind the times.

Also, for those who follow through RSS or email, would it be helpful if I offered a “food only” option where you only receive updates related to food (specifically, recipes and meal plans)? I hate to clutter inboxes, so I thought I’d put that out there. Weekly Meal Plan: 10 November to 16 November (a humble place)

Last week included our anniversary, a box of “new” clothes, and the latest issue of Soul Gardening in the mailbox. I absolutely love this (free!) little journal and highly recommend it for mothers (Catholic or otherwise!) desiring to find beauty and connection with God in the day-to-day work of raising little ones and caring for their families. Honestly, they put it far more eloquently than I can with their mission statement:

Soul Gardening is a journal written by mothers, for mothers, designed to offer tangible encouragement and community as we respond to the call to grow in holiness and simplicity. Published under the patronage of Our Lady of Nazareth, our purpose is to express the beauty of this vocation, the heaven to be found in even the diapers and the dishes, and the power in making our days a living prayer.

If you get the latest issue, check out the recipe section where you’ll find a little contribution from me. Weekly Meal Plan: 10 November to 16 November (a humble place)

I’m going to include links to the recipes that are available online, otherwise I’ll include links to the resource where I got the recipe. Here’s this week: [Read more…]