Friday, September 23, 2016

Feel Good Friday: Spreading love the old-fashioned way

My youngest child is so full of love, he just can't help but share it. He is a giver, and he always thinks of others. And, lately, with the development of his writing skills, his love has taken written form. Every other day or so, he comes to me with a pencil and a piece of paper and tells me he needs to write a letter to someone he cares about. He often starts with "I love you." He writes from his heart (while I help with spelling and punctuation) and draws a thoughtful picture to go along with his words. He eagerly takes his letters to the mailbox, never expecting anything in return. He is a true spreader of love and joy, and I want to be like him.

Even if we aren't all writers, perhaps we would all do well to think about starting with "I love you."

Happiness on both ends of the mailbox!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Three Cheese Pumpkin Enchiladas

That sounds like something seasonal you could order in a fancy restaurant, doesn't it? Or perhaps a well thought out, Pinterest-worthy, homemade, First Day of Fall meal, complete with an orangish-brown, leaf-apliqued tablecloth and matching napkins.

Let me tell you what it actually is:

Holy cow! It's 5:30. I've got to feed my people (again!) tonight, and we ate up all the leftovers last night!

Mom, can I have a quesadilla?

No! 

But, wait. Tortillas. What could I do with tortillas? Oh, I know: enchiladas.

Hmm. I've got tortillas, but what to put on top of them???

Well, there's a can of pumpkin in the pantry. I wonder if there's such a thing as pumpkin enchiladas?

{quick Google search}

Hey, there is such a thing! Cool. Hmm. Looks like I have...very few of those ingredients. But, pumpkin enchiladas are totally a thing, so I'm going to go with that. What else have I got?

Salsa. Onions. Garlic. Taco seasoning. Cheese, sort of. Sounds like dinner to me!

Wait. This mixture is too thick. What can I thin it with? If I add more salsa, it might be too spicy. Water seems boring. Ooh, carrot juice, that's pretty much the same color as the pumpkin puree. And, VEGETABLES! Perfect. And how about a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt, for creaminess?! And, boom! there's a baggie of chopped tomatoes in the fridge. Those are definitely going in. 

Alright. Now what to do about the cheese? We've got sandwich cheese, but not really in any Mexicany flavors. Well, would you look at that: two varieties of Mexicany flavors of Laughing Cow cheese I bought for the kids lunchboxes...and a quarter of a block of some kind of white cheddar, if I remember correctly.

Let's do this! 

So, I did. And, you know what? It was actually pretty good. In fact, there were no leftovers.

Wait. That means I have to come up with something to feed my family tomorrow, too! I wish I would have at least thought to tell them it was a special First Day of Fall meal. And taken a picture of it for Pinterest. {sigh}

Happy First Day of Fall! Here's something to feed your family tomorrow, if you're desperate:

Three Cheese Pumpkin Enchiladas

1 onion chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can pumpkin puree
1 cup chunky salsa
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup carrot juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste
Laughing Cow Queso Fresco Chipotle
Laughing Cow Spicy Pepper Jack
White cheddar cheese
Corn tortillas, lightly fried for pliability
Optional toppings: cilantro, avocado, sour cream

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix everything but the cheeses and tortillas in a large mixing bowl. Add other stuff or different stuff if you like. Check your fridge and pantry for inspiration. Line the bottom of a baking dish with tortillas. Smother with The Mixture. Top with one of the three cheeses. Make another layer of tortillas. Cover with The Mixture, and top with another of the cheeses. Do it all again, using the last of your cheese. (Seriously, it should be pretty much the last of the cheese you have in the house.) Bake until warm through, maybe 20-30 minutes. You should be unclear on the exact time, because you should go pick up your kid from some practice while it's baking. (Leaving responsible people to make sure the house doesn't burn down, of course.) Top with cilantro, avocado, sour cream, or the tears of your youngest child, who is incredulous that you used his carrot juice.

Note: All measurements are approximate. Also note: Laughing Cow cheese does not ever melt.



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Awaysick



away•sick
adjective
experiencing a deep longing to go away after a period of being in one place; the opposite of homesick: 
The boy began planning road trips, claiming to be awaysick.


Last week, Weston was studying native tribes around the world during his History class. It was a topic that captured his attention and made him want to learn more. So, he checked out some books from the library, and every day he would report on the interesting things he was learning, half-fascinated, half-horrified: Mom, listen to this: this tribe would skin their enemies and wear the skins as a covering for their own bodies. 

He was also eager to know where the tribes had been located and curious about any remnants left behind that visitors might be able to see. Mom, how long do you think it would take to drive to Ohio? Do you think we could go for a weekend, so we can see this burial ground shaped like a snake? Could we try to plan a trip to South America, sometime after football season, so we can visit these particular sites?

His enthusiasm was contagious, and one day I told him that I really liked all the road trips he was planning to go along with his History lessons. His response stopped me in my tracks: I'm just really awaysick. You know, the opposite of homesick. 

This boy, who has so often struggled to put words together in coherent ways, managed to wordsmith a word that expressed the very depth of his heart...and mine. 

We stared at each other for a moment with tears brimming in our eyes and then went about our day, because there was nothing else to do. But, that word keeps echoing in my heart. I think it's the truest word I have ever heard. 

I'm not going to lie, our adjustment back to "normal" life has been difficult for me. Waking up in the same house and bed day after day and going through the same routines wears on me. During our travels, the longest we ever stayed in one place was one month. We were always encountering new things and situations, and even laundry stayed just challenging enough to be interesting. I admit, I feel ready to move on, even though I know this is a season for being rooted. I know people who really love to be home and only want to go on the occasional vacation. I think that's awesome. But, for me, the awaysickness is real. 

My question for those of you who don't revel in the routines of life and who may have similar nomadic tendencies is this:  What do you do to combat the mundanity and soothe the awaysickness when leaving isn't an option? I am eager to learn your secrets and will take your suggestions to heart. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Game Day

My voice is wavering on the edge of here and gone. That's one sure sign that it was game day. Three of my favorite teams were playing, and I gave them all the vocal support I could muster.

Clay and his Mud Hens had their first baseball game this morning. If you've never watched 5U baseball, you don't know what you're missing. That boy was excited...for most of the game. Then, he was tired and hot. But he played hard and had so much fun!

Handsome little batter

Making it home

Cutest shortstop ever!

Later in the afternoon, Weston and his Rebels dominated the football field, with a 28-0 win. Weston even put some of those numbers on the board and played an all-around great game, despite the ridiculous heat.

Leading the team onto the field,
with the "Come and Take It" flag

A catch in the endzone, for 2!

Returning a punt like a boss

Finally, our Aggies put the hurt on Auburn, with a 29-16 win. Whoop!

This is what our fall is all about. Ah, good times! 


Thursday, September 15, 2016

First Game

Weston and the rest of the Rebels were supposed to have their first football game on Saturday, but they got rained out, and the game was rescheduled for last night. Rain threatened to shut it down again, but the sun finally came out, and, by game time, we had only the rainbow to remind us of the showers that moved through the area. If you know Weston, you know he lives and breathes football, so he was super excited to finally get his game on, especially after his hiatus last season. He was actually thrilled about the reschedule as well, because it meant an evening game and getting to play under the lights, which automatically makes any football game seem a bit more legit. The Rebels played hard and ended up with the W.

A good omen on gameday

By happy coincidence, Weston was given number 99,
keeping his glorious tradition alive.
All I can say is "Whoop!"
(But don't tell Weston I said that.)

The way football was meant to be watched

Friday, September 09, 2016

Feel Good Friday

The world seems so dark and crazy and broken and negative. It seems we are constantly inundated with bad news. I admit, I have a sensitivity to negativity and a tendency to lean that direction with the slightest provocation. Sometimes my brain takes in all the little (and occasionally big) bits of negativity and churns it around until it becomes difficult to believe there is any good left in the world at all. Bad news hit our family in personal ways this week, and after days of feeling the weight of grief and anger, I remembered Mahatma Gandhi's words: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." And that got me thinking: If the world is dark, I can be light. If the world is crazy, I can be sane. If the world is broken, I can be whole. If the world is negative, I can be positive. I don't have to be part of the problem. I can be part of the solution. As I have been at a little bit of a loss for words lately and in need of some direction for the blog, I have decided to spread positive vibes in a new weekly feature, Feel Good Friday, where I will share things I find to be positive, uplifting, inspiring, happy, and/or beautiful. Can it change the world? Probably not. But, according to Norman Vincent Peale, if you "change your thoughts, you change your world," and changing just my world seems like a good place to start. If anything I post helps change yours, all the better.