Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

We had a quiet and rather unique Thanksgiving this year. It began the night before with a Thanksgiving service at church. We stayed home most of Thanksgiving Day, enjoying our tradition of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the American Kennel Club dog show. Love those doggies! The English bulldog took Best in Show. 

For our dinner, I made turkey, a pumpkin pie, my Grammie's fudge, and some appetizers. Our friend Jordan and his girlfriend Kayla joined us for dinner and brought all the sides and more pie. We all ate so well, and even Angel enjoyed lots of turkey until she was stuffed, too!

Unfortunately, Hannah had to work from 3:00 to 11:00, as JC Penney doesn't follow the tradition of staying closed on Thanksgiving. I know there are some who refuse to shop at stores that are open for the holiday, but we really need her discount for Christmas gifts!

I took Rachel, Abbie and David to Penney's after our 6:00 dinner. We did a little Christmas shopping and got to see Hannah as she checked people out. 

The evening wrapped up with a nice surprise. I was cleaning up the kitchen after a full day of cooking and eating, but it was getting late and David and I needed our before-bed reading time together. While he and I were reading (and I was dozing off), Rachel and Abbie finished cleaning the kitchen, put all the clean dishes and pans away, wrapped and stored all the leftovers, and started the dishwasher. They've been doing a lot more cooking for themselves lately, and usually leave me with some sort of a mess, but this act of love totally made up for all that!

This year, we have so much to be thankful for. I am mostly thankful for the fact that all four kids are doing well in school and are healthy and happy.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Yarn Along - February 3, 2016

Joining Ginny at Small Things for her weekly Yarn Along, where bloggers share what we're knitting and reading this week...

I'm working on a Runaround Cowl as a little short-notice gift for a friend. This is the fourth one I've made (including one for myself). It's just one skein of Lion Brand Homespun (here in the Painted Desert colorway), all seed stitch. It makes a pretty accent for a sweater for very little work. And it's not really bulky like some knitted cowls.

I love small projects that I can carry around in my small LLBean Boat and Tote Bag! I have several of these totes in different sizes and they're the best. Carrying around a little bit of Maine wherever I go...

I'm only a few pages into Call the Midwife, and already I find it engaging. If I could keep my eyes open for more than a few minutes each night, I'd definitely be farther into it than I am!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Simple Woman's Daybook - February 1, 2016

Joining in at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window... not much to look at. Grey, brown, cold, damp. Glad to be indoors in the coziness...

I am thankful for... Pinterest! We were in a bit of a rut with dinners, so I found some new dishes to try on the family, and already, three of them have received unanimous thumbs up!

In the kitchen... chicken noodle soup in the crockpot. Mmmmm... Smells so good in here!

I am wearing... my Maine hoodie with jeans (standard uniform).

I am creating... whipping up a quick Runaround Cowl as a last-minute gift for a friend. This is my go-to knit when I want to give a little handmade gift.

I am going... to the Empowered to Connect conference in April! The conference is being held in Nashville, but I will go to the simulcast at Willow Creek Church in S. Barrington. Two full days of Dr. Karyn Purvis and her marvelous wisdom about parenting children who experienced trauma in their lives before joining their families. We have witnessed such encouraging growth in our own family since applying her techniques.

I am currently reading... I broke down and got Call the Midwife from the library to read in between chapters of Anything. I've only read the introduction so far, but already I'm enjoying it...

I am hoping... that this sinus pressure I woke up with this morning doesn't turn into anything significant.

I am looking forward to... hearing about Rachel's trip to the high school today. They get a tour of the school, hear about different classes and activities, and talk with a counselor about their classes next year. I can't believe she's going to be in high school! Glad to see that she's excited about it...

I am hearing... Angel snoring away at my feet as I type!

Around the house... don't ask.

A favorite quote for today...

One of my favorite things... I just discovered how amazing the chai tea lattes are at Panera (I order mine extra strong). SO much better than Starbucks!

A few plans for the rest of the week... David and I have a date for the super-fun Mother/Son Bingo night on Friday! On Saturday evening, I'll be attending a choir concert at Northern Illinois University that Hannah's Bella Voce choir will be participating in. 

A peek into my day... hitting the grocery stores today (I usually do this on Tuesdays, but the weather tomorrow is supposed to be dreadful with driving rain and wind). Floor hockey for David and piano and violin lessons for Abbie after school.

A picture I'd like to share...
Just one day's worth of letters from colleges that have come in the mail for Hannah. And she's only a sophomore!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Yarn Along - January 27, 2016

Good morning! Today, I'm joining Ginny at Small Things for her weekly Yarn Along, where bloggers share what we're knitting and reading this week...

I just noticed how color-coordinated my book, knitting, and bag are!

I'm currently working on The Dudester scarf for Al. His birthday comes so soon after Christmas, and I made him two hats that were ready on time, but this scarf is a little late. It's a dressier look and goes well with his black dress coat. I'm using Lion's Wool-Ease worsted in Oxford Grey. When I'm done with this one, I think I'll choose a more casual scarf to make him that he can wear with his everyday winter parka. Maybe this one.

I also wanted to show off my new little project bag. I found it in the clearance section of Walmart for $1.50. It's called a "document file", but it works so much better as a knitting bag! Most knitters don't care for zippers on their project bags as they can catch the yarn inside, but so far, I've had no problems.

Right now, I'm reading Anything by Jennie Allen. Can I be honest, here? It's not really rocking my world like I was hoping it would. Maybe the problem lies with me, because really, there are some seriously Godly women I know who have been deeply changed by this book and are on their second and third time through it. What I am enjoying are the Friday morning discussion group meetings with some of the women from church. Not only are we spending time in good conversation, it's giving me the opportunity to get to know some of these women better and to feel even more like I'm part of our new church community. Maybe I'd get more out of it in a second reading. More likely, I'll probably grab that copy of Call the Midwife that I saw at our library the other day...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Simple Woman's Daybook - January 25, 2016

Joining in at The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... cold, grey, colorless winter day. But the sunrise this morning was breathtaking - pink and purple clouds surrounding a huge, orange ball of sun.

I am thinking... I'd like to start blogging again. I have no idea how I'll fit one more thing on my plate, but I'd like to give it a try. I'd really like to have this record of our family's life to look back on.

I am thankful for... the opportunity to play violin yesterday at our new church home, Sanctuary in Batavia. Our family has really grown there over the past two years, especially the kids, and we've all been blessed with many opportunities to serve.

In the kitchen... homemade mac and cheese in the crockpot. The kids are gonna be happy, since I don't make it too often.

A favorite quote for today...

I am wearing... Kaneland plaid flannel pants, grey tee shirt. The epitome of high fashion...

I am creating... knitting a scarf for Al, a hat for me, and an afghan for our TV room.

I am currently reading... Anything by Jennie Allen. I'm participating in a book discussion at church, and really enjoying connecting with the women in my group.

I am looking forward to... the 8th grade open house at the high school with Rachel. I can't quite wrap my mind around the fact that she'll be in high school next year. But she seems to be looking forward to it, and I'm really excited for her.

I am learning... my way around the new MacBook Pro Al gave me for Christmas. Hannah has had a Mac for a couple of years, and she's enjoying showing me all the things I can do with my new laptop!

I am hearing... quiet. Just the tick of the kitchen clock, the hum of the refrigerator, the tapping of my keyboard.

Around the house... a mess. I don't know if I'll ever get ahead of it.

A few plans for the rest of the week... lunch with a friend on Wednesday and coffee with another friend on Friday. I'm making a conscious effort to spend time with the good friends I've made over the last few years.

A peek into my day... Monday is typically my at-home day - a day to catch up after a busy weekend, plan for the rest of the week, and enjoy the quiet of my home.

A picture I'd like to share...

Rachel's 8th Grade science project was due last week

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Asian Chicken

Right now, our family is in the midst of a very busy season. Honestly, I think the stretch between Spring Break and the last day of school is almost busier than Christmastime, and nearly as expensive for us! Our three girls are involved in the performing arts in one way or another, and this is the time of all the year-end performances. There are also some year-end events at school, Easter, Hannah and Rachel's birthdays, Hannah's Gotcha Day, and Al's and my anniversary. And this year, we have a Kindergarten and and eighth grade graduation. Not to mention the fact that we're entering a new season (finally, Spring!) and everyone needs new clothes and shoes and appropriate special-occasion outfits!

And I haven't even included doctor, dentist, ophthalmologist, orthodontist, haircut, vet and grooming appointments yet...

In the midst of trying to get everyone where they need to be at the time they need to be there and dressed appropriately, we still have to eat! I've spent some time perusing Pinterest to see if there are any new ideas (particularly for the crock pot), I've done a little freezer cooking, and a bit too much last-minute takeout. And always the question: Will they all like it?

This is one recipe I come back to again and again. Ridiculously easy, really yummy, and there is a collective cheer when this is seen on the week's menu plan...

Asian Chicken

Chicken (Use what you like, frozen or fresh, bone-in or boneless, breasts, thighs, leg quarters. I use a bag of frozen thighs - they turn out nice and moist.)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbs minced garlic

Dump the chicken in your crock pot. Mix the sauce ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over the chicken. Cook. That's it.
(If you don't happen to have sesame oil in your pantry, you can make this without it, but it does add a nice flavor. A small bottle is pretty cheap at Woodman's and lasts a long time.)

I serve this with brown rice (drizzle some of the chicken sauce over the rice!) and a veggie or salad. Super-quick, super-easy, super-tasty. You're welcome.

(I'm sorry I don't have a lovely photo to accompany this recipe. It's all I can do to get dinner on the table. Please don't ask me to stage and photograph it, too...)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Simple Woman's Day Book - April 14

Outside my window... After several beautiful Spring-like days, a cold, cloudy, windy, wet, looks-like-snow day.

I am thinking... good thing I didn't pack away the warm jackets just yet!

I am thankful for... taking a moment last night to have David try on his outfit for tomorrow's Kindergarten presentation. For some reason, the shirt is ENORMOUS on him, and at least we have time to run out this morning and get him something that fits better.

In the kitchen... not much. It's grocery day. Again. 

I am wearing... old jeans, sweatshirt I don't mind getting dirty in the kitchen, warm slippers. Comfort is key...

I am creating... some sort of order out of chaos.

I am going... to stay home alone this afternoon and get caught up around here!

I am wondering... if I shouldn't just take a nap instead...

I am currently reading... Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine. Learning about goal-setting and time management.

I am hoping... to be able to squeeze some knitting and guitar in this week.

I am looking forward to... the trip to Washington, DC that Hannah and I are taking in June. We booked our flights this morning, and it's time to really start thinking about what we'd like to see and do while we're there.

I am learning... "The House of the Rising Sun" on guitar. Right-hand arpeggios. Tricky stuff, but I'm loving it...

I am hearing... some real guitarists on Pandora. Good inspiration...

Around the house... laundry piles, dishes, new Easter clothes and shoes, outgrown clothes and toys we're gathering to pass on, both flip flops and boots cluttering the mudroom floor (a sure sign of Spring in these parts)...

I am pondering... that I don't want to just "survive" the next several busy weeks, but to savor and enjoy them, even if just a moment at a time. Our family will never be in this "place" again, and I don't want to miss it just because I was too preoccupied with schedules and meals and laundry...

A favorite quote for today... 


One of my favorite things... Open House at the elementary school. I love seeing what the kids have been doing during the school year, and they are so proud to show off their accomplishments.

A few plans for the rest of the week... David's Kindergarten program on Tuesday, Abbie's 4th Grade recorder presentation on Wednesday, Hannah's 14-year Gotcha Day on Wednesday, elementary school Open House on Thursday, Hannah's 15th birthday on Friday, Al's and my 17-year anniversary on Saturday, and Easter on Sunday. Deep breath...

A peek into my day... Rushing out to Children's Place to get David a dress shirt. Afternoon at home getting caught up around the house. Grocery shopping this evening. Trying to stay warm.

A picture I'd like to share...

We celebrated Hannah's 14-year Gotcha Day with our travel group this weekend...

Monday, April 07, 2014

Simple Woman's Daybook - April 7, 2014

Outside my window... Spring is finally beginning to make its presence known! Grey skies, chilly and damp, but a definite feel of Spring...

I am thinking... through our schedule/calendar for the next two months. Spring Break is over and this is the final big push to Summer. Lots of birthdays, performances and events on the calendar...
I am thankful for... an enjoyable Spring Break. We didn't do anything particularly special, but there was lots of fun time with friends for all four kids, and a good amount of "down time" for me...

In the kitchen... not much. I did a lot of improvising for meals during Break, and now it's time to re-stock at the grocery store and get back to the meal plan.

I am wearing... old black yoga pants, Al's Bears tee shirt, old brown fleece cardigan, my LL Bean Wicked Good Slippers (because Monday mornings should be comfy, don't you think?).

I am creating... a cabled afghan for Al and me in a soft light blue. I made one for my mom and one for Al's mom, but now it's time for one for us!

I am going... to meet my friend Jacquie for coffee today while all the kids are in school. I don't get much "grownup time" with friends these days, and I'm really looking forward to it!
I am wondering... how I'm ever going to get everything done these next two months...

I am currently reading... Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford, about letting go of some of the "busy" in our lives to really enjoy what matters, namely our families. I can't decide if it's an inspiring or guilt-inducing read. Probably both.

I am hoping... to make some progress on my decluttering around here. I see tiny glimpses of progress, but there's a loooooong way to go...

I am looking forward to... the trip to Washington, DC that Hannah and I will take as soon as school gets out (her 8th Grade graduation gift). Can't wait to share our love of history!

I am learning... how to play the guitar! Al gave me a guitar for my big 50th birthday last summer. I've wanted to get one and learn to play for over 20 years! I started lessons in February and am making some good progress. Now if I could only find some quiet time to practice every day...

I am hearing... "Curious George" on TV (David's favorite), with intermittent chuckles from my boy...

Around the house... typical Monday morning mess. Time to get back on track with the tidying routine...

A favorite quote for today... 

(This little dog reminds me of our Angel)

One of my favorite things... My "Edgar Meyer Radio" station on Pandora. Great guitar inspiration...

A few plans for the rest of the week... Easter shopping (stuff for the kids' baskets and outfits for me and the kids), coffee with a friend, guitar lesson, juggling kids' rehearsal schedules, Hannah's Gotcha Day party on Saturday (not here!), the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival on Sunday (Abbie's string group is playing).
A peek into my day... laundry, paperwork, groceries, and general running around (beautifully interrupted by aforementioned coffee with a friend).

A picture I'd like to share...

David enjoying a Spring-like day last week!

Friday, May 31, 2013

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Hosted by Soulemama)
Celebrating the last day of school with my teenager...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

First Day/Last Day 2012-13 Edition

Once again, I am taken aback at just how quickly the school year has passed. You'd think by now I'd be used to it. I took our traditional Last Day of School pictures to present to you here for comparison. All I have to say is... oh, my!

Hannah, 7th Grade...

(Note the new braces!)

Hannah, you completed 7th Grade with a lot of style! Things started out rough when none of your friends were in any of your classes, you'd had enough of playing oboe, and you just couldn't quite put your finger on what kinds of activities you wanted to participate in. By Spring Break, however, you had really come into your own. You let the oboe go (sniff-sniff), but you worked on the stage crew for the spring musical, had a blast, and have found your niche backstage in the theater. You make new friends wherever you go, while still remaining true to your old besties. You have joyfully helped kids in the special needs Sunday School classroom. And your art and music have flourished: your painting was on display at the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival, and lately you've been composing some really great music on Garageband.

Rachel, 5th Grade...

Rachel, you totally rocked your last year of Elementary School! You took on Challenge Reading and gave it your all, many nights staying up later than I did to give your best to your projects. You placed second in the school spelling bee, and your art was awarded First Place (again!) in the school district's art purchase program. Through it all, you would always "just keep swimming", but you decided to step away from the swim team goal because you didn't want to lose the joy and fun of just being in the water. You are so very ready for Middle School, ready to continue with Challenge Language Arts and excited to begin trumpet lessons so you can learn to play jazz like Dizzy Gillespie!

Rachel's prize-winning art work
Abbie, 3rd Grade...

You really came into your own this year, Abbie, with confidence and determination. You decided you wanted to learn to play the violin and have been taking your lessons seriously, practicing cheerfully, making great strides and looking forward to playing in the string ensemble next year. You turned out some great projects in school, most notably your Laura Ingalls Wilder biography and your presentation on the White House (great opportunities to exhibit your crafting skills as well as your knowledge). You are loving and loyal to your family, friends and teachers, and you managed to navigate some icky schoolyard drama while learning about (and most likely teaching others) what it means to be a real friend.

More "then-and-now" photos...

And finally, Rachel says goodbye to Kaneland John Shields Elementary...
Rachel's 5th Grade Clap-Out