Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why I'm Thankful This Year

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I think it's appropriate to do a "what I'm thankful for" type post.

This year, with my CSA, Thanksgiving sort of takes on a new meaning for me. I know as well as anybody that Thanksgiving didn't exactly start with Pilgrims and Indians being all buddy-buddy with their turkeys and stuffing and pumpkin pies (although the "first Thanksgiving" technically cited in America was a feast that the colonists and Native Americans shared after a particularly harsh winter the year before - coincidentally, said Native Americans helped the colonists survive it...) But Thanksgiving does fall at the end of harvest time, and before winter sets in, when farmers and people (well, before there were grocery stores who shipped in food from places like Brazil and China and probably Antarctica, if food really grew there much) store up food for the sparser winter months.

Regarding all of that ... I am truly thankful for local, organically grown food which I pick up in a little box each week. There's something about the shortened amount of miles between farm to table that makes me appreciate the food. Each time I cook with my CSA box, my heart is filled with thanks and gratitude, and I wonder about the farmers who grew the veggies I cook with and raised the chickens from which I get my eggs every week, how they live, what their families are like, how they learned about organic farming.

I am thankful to them for stretching my palate, for making me look and research and find ways to cook things that I thought I'd never like. I'm thankful for the superior nutritional value of locally-grown produce, particularly of the heirloom variety, and for how good it feels to know that I am feeding myself and my husband the best food we can get here.

As I'm typing this, I have a pumpkin steaming on the stove for a pie I'm making this afternoon. I have sweet potatoes stashed in a bowl, for making casserole this Thanksgiving for my family. There are 6 baby turnips, a parsnip, and two carrots that I'm planning to cook tonight (I'm a bit nervous about the turnips, I'll admit...) These farmers feed my family. The longer I've participated in GrowAlabama, the more I'm realizing that's the way it should be. Communities feeding themselves.

And while we're on the subject of gratitude, here are some more things I'm thankful for:

-My husband. He is truly my helpmate, and I love him so, so much. 

-My parents, who raised me, who help me out when I need it, give me a place to stay when Mark is out of town and I need help with the puppy, and remind me of so many happy memories... I love you guys :)

-My not-so-little sister, who is a constant source of laughter when I am with her. She makes me want to be a better person, and I am so glad that we are friends.

-My in-laws, who have so warmly accepted me into their family. I'm proud to be a Skinner :)

-My puppy, who is continually teaching me about patience and love and trust, and who is a nice, warm source of cuddles at the end of a long day.

-My job. I am so grateful to get to care for my little ones at work - the NICU is a wonderful place to be.

-My co-workers. We get on each others nerves at times, but they're like my family away from home - I count myself lucky to work with such a great group of ladies :)

-Mark's new job! He'll probably start in a couple of weeks - I can't tell you how much both of us are thankful for that :)

There are so many things that God has blessed us with. Even when things seem hard, we've really got it pretty good :)

I'm gonna go make that pie now! Hope everybody has a great night!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A little of everything...

It's a cold Wednesday (which is class day for Mark), and I'm sitting on the couch being a total lamesauce burning cds. Flashback to 9th grade, what?

But I do have an explanation. My stupid iPod car converter thing went kaput a few months ago, and I've not been able to find an adequate replacement, so it's just easier to burn cds to listen to in the car. (Disclaimer: I'm not stealing music. I bought all of it on iTunes, and I'm just transferring it to a listenable format for my car.)

In other news, holy cow, Thanksgiving is in 8 days!! Provisionally, I am totally ready with my 10 sweet potatoes (Yep. TEN. Thanks, CSA!) and have signed up to make sweet potato casserole plus some sort of dessert (possibly amaretto pie?) for my family's shin-dig. I've worked so, so much that the holidays have just totally snuck up on me, and I'm not quite ready other than having a bowl full of sweet potatoes (and a really, really beautiful pie pumpkin that hopefully I will be utilizing either today or tomorrow!)

Are you guys ready?

I sort of skipped the Thanksgiving decorations and am going to move straight to Christmas. My sweet mother gave me a box full of decorating goodies this year, and they will be put to good use in our apartment. I was planning to decorate today, but clearly that's not happening (since it's like 2:45 in the afternoon ... oh, where did the time go??) Anyway, Mark forbids anything Christmas-related before Thanksgiving. Lucky for me, I get to listen to the new Glee Christmas album in my car solo anytime I want to :)

Switching gears again ... (I'm sort of all over the place today, huh?) I have to figure out how to like turnips this week. And parsnips. I'm a bit nervous about the prospect of it all to tell you the truth, but I got a big 'ol bag of turnips, 2 carrots, and a mammoth parsnip in the CSA, and by golly, none of those veggies are going to waste. I've found a caramelized turnip recipe that I think will work with all the veggies together, and I think that if I maybe pair it with cous cous, it can stand on its own as a main dish? Maybe? (If that doesn't work out, there are always those sweet potatoes we can eat as backup...)

Okay. Time to run errands while Luna's still sleepy.

Sorry this was so choppy and scattered!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down...

...and what do you know, today is a rainy Monday. Sure to be fantastic.

I know I've been a terrible blogger lately, but I'm one woman and can only stretch so far. Between working extra, being a mommy to Luna when I'm not working, and trying to cook and clean and read and squeeze in every little thing when I'm not working as well, blogging has just not happened.

But, it's been a good week despite all the working.

Today however, I'm very cold and very tired and it's raining, which means that it will be a struggle every. single. time. Luna has to go out, because I do believe she hates the rain more than I do. At least it makes her all sleepy too - she's curled up in my lap right now, which is nice, because she doubles as a really great space heater. She's so warm.

In about half an hour, I'm going to be putting together some taco soup in the crock pot to have for dinner tonight, which will make me fairly elated considering the nasty weather today. I want to eat soup on days like this. (Also, rainy days make me want to eat donuts, which have become my ultimate comfort food. What a bad comfort food to want!)

I have so much that I need to do today, but I just can't get motivated. Particularly with cuteness of this caliber sitting in my lap...

What do you guys like to do on rainy nasty days?

Friday, November 12, 2010


Sweet potato pie, fresh out of the oven, and curry simmering on the stove.

Life is good tonight.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ch- ch- ch- changes...

 I'm starting this post with a cute picture of my darling husband and darling puppy just because it makes my heart melt, and I'm betting it makes yours melt too. Seriously, can you get any cuter than that?

Okay, so it's been a while since I've posted. 5 days to be exact. A lot can happen in 5 days apparently. God can teach you lots and lots of lessons. I sort of put all those lessons together this morning in a marathon session of bathroom scrubbing this morning. I've not scrubbed so hard or cleaned so thoroughly or had quite such a *hello!* experience in all my life. Nothing like some good manual labor to make the lightbulb come on.

So, cut to the chase already, I'm sure you're all thinking.

Well. Here we go.

A little back story: we've been rather financially strained lately. I've been stressed about money. Things were NOT working out well. I was getting pretty scared about stuff - we were going the opposite way from what I wanted to be going. I didn't understand why this was happening to us. And I was angry at myself, and at us as a marital unit, for not taking care of our money from the beginning. For being irresponsible. For being ignorant.

So on Friday, I called to see what day I'd be cancelled, since that's become a recurring theme around our unit lately. Lo and behold, I got to work all my days! And an extra! Our census has picked up, and we've got some people out due to some unfortunate circumstances that are sort-of ongoing - long story short, I'm getting some extra days here and there. I am very, very thankful for that.

So I worked my weekend, and on Monday as well. And then yesterday, while I was home with Luna, I got a phone call from Mark.

It kind of rocked my world. Our world.

Because, get this friends, Mark got a JOB.

Yes, that's what I said. A real, live job, that pays money! It's part-time, but it's in a library, and it has good potential for advancement.We are hopeful. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I can breathe easily for the first time in a while.

God is so good. We are so dumb. See, God tried to teach us to manage our money early on. We both had jobs for a total of a year and several months before we moved to Birmingham. Did we pay stuff off? Nope. We accrued more debt. About a year and a half ago, my parents gave us the book Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. Did we read it? Nope. Not until about a month and a half ago. So God took it upon Himself to teach us a lesson, definitely for our own good. It was hard because we made it hard on ourselves. But I am thankful that we're learning now, despite what I felt two weeks ago when a quarter of my paycheck was docked because of cancellations at work. 

God had to make us scared. He needed us to wake up and see what we were doing and where we were headed if we'd kept it up. We never had huge irresponsible moments, and we weren't terrible at managing money. We were just irresponsible with small things, and not stellar at managing money. Little by little, that adds up. God is so faithful though - He promises us that He will take care of us, and that He did. As tight as it got, and as scared as I was, we never missed a bill or were late on a payment or anything like that, thanks in part to the benevolence and love of our families. We did get a good look at what it could be like, though - a two-by-four to the forehead does the trick every time.

And now I'm getting the extra days that I'm used to having back. Mark now has a job that pays more than he's ever been paid before. God is faithful, and He is blessing us so much. He just wanted us to learn how to handle the money we have before He gave us anymore. He wanted us to trust Him to provide for our needs. And I am so thankful for that.

There are other lessons that have been learned, lessons about patience and love and kindness and worry, but the bottom line is that God will provide for our every need even when we can't see how. That's the greatest thing. I'm glad that He can see the future, even when we can't.

What has God been teaching you lately?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Adventures with Luna, et. al.

It's been a couple of days since my last frantic post. Things are better. I apologize for using this space to blow off so much steam, but there were no real people available :) Thanks for being understanding and sympathetic, guys.

Things are better. I'm think I'm starting to figure Luna out. And I'm not being such a spaz (most of the time.)

I am a spaz sometimes. There. I said it.

Also, I miss my husband like CRAZY. I cannot wait for him to come home. This week, I gained SO MUCH respect for single moms. I can't even imagine, if one puppy wears me out this much....

Also, hello holidays!! It feels like winter today. I broke out the yellow cable knit today - it makes me happy. See?

Sorry for the horrid lighting... and for some reason I look all squished.
Anyway - holidays! They're just around the corner ... and that makes me excited! I wasn't ready AT. ALL. mainly because of the puppy. But after visiting my family, and talking about Thanksgiving, and my mom giving me a giant box of Christmas decorations... I think I can get in the mood :)

Oh. And on a more serious note...

You know how I said a couple posts back that Nanny was having a biopsy done?

Well ... it's cancer. Breast cancer, to be exact. She's having surgery and some radiation, and we don't know anymore than that at this point. So pray for her. She's in super-good spirits - they're all going out to dinner tonight, so she's handling things well. She's a pretty tough lady. But it's gonna be hard, and hard on Mark's family too.

Happy Friday, everybody - hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm also kind of a bad mom...

This is a rant that should not necessarily be taken seriously or read into too far. This puppy momma has about had it today, and since there are no people at my house, I'm having to resort to using the Interwebs....

Yes, this is my second post of the day.

Yes, I am totally at my wits' end.

It hasn't even been 12 hours.

My blood sugar is low, I'm shaky, I'm frustrated and mad, and I feel guilty.

Luna is hard. I guess all puppies are hard. But she is especially hard when you're by yourself. She is EXHAUSTING. Mark gets totally worn out on the weekends I work - and I think he has way more patience than I do. I'm finding out how very little patience I have. Bless my poor future children's souls...

There are days that I absolutely adore my puppy. I always love her, I always take care of her as best I can - but I don't always like her that much. Some days I do, honestly. But some days, I'm thinking, what on EARTH possessed us to get a puppy? What were we thinking? Today is one of those days.

It started out badly - we've blockaded the stairs using our kitchen chairs and a cookie sheet and a box of kitty litter, but Luna was still totally getting past it. After Houdini-ing her way up the stairs 3 times and eating most of the cat's food this morning, I decided to do something about it. So, in her crate she went for all of 5 minutes while Mommy worked her magic. My new blockade of books, somewhat resembling the Great Wall of China, works fantastically. The ENTIRE TIME that I was making said wall, though, Luna was wailing at the top of her lungs. She HATES being in her crate when we're in the room, the lights are on, and she's ready to play. It was maybe 10 minutes at most, and I was over it completely. So that was this morning.

For the remainder of the morning, she whined and cried and looked around for Mark, who left at 9 to go to his archival conference. Great reminder that Mark is very much not here, and very much somewhere else. I desperately wanted to be somewhere else WITH him, without her. And then I felt guilty, because it's not her fault, she's just acting like a puppy...

So then she took a little nap, I got a few things done, we ate lunch, and I took her over to Andy and Suzie's house to play with Emma. Which would have been fantastic but that plan totally backfired and Emma did NOT want to play. She was having none of it. So I sat in their house for a while, Emma on the back of the couch, avoiding Luna at all costs, and Luna playing with Emma's toys by herself. After a while of that, I was once again over it, cause Luna peed on the floor approximately 700 times and was into everything, and we went home. We played, she took another short nap while I washed the dishes, and then we tried to go for a walk. That's stressful too, as Luna hasn't quite gotten the concept of "walk beside me while I'm walking" and instead just wants to eat everything and walk wherever she pleases. Back inside, more playing, more peeing on the floor, then I had to go get the CSA. More crying in the crate. (She usually calms down within a couple of minutes when we're either gone or totally out of sight range.)

And then, to put the icing on the cake, my manager calls asking if I can work extra on Thursday. Well, let's backtrack - I am leaving with Luna early in the morning to go to my dear parents' house to stay through Friday, because I cannot take another 3 days of this. I will lose my mind, and Luna will probably hate me. So, I could technically work on Thursday, but it would also include repeating today twice more, and leaving Luna in her crate for 12 hours by herself, which is not feasible nor kind or responsible pet-owner behavior. So I say no, even though I desperately need the money, having just spazzed out about how we're going to pay our bills earlier.

And then I cleaned my car while having a meltdown.

And then I came back inside, and Luna wants to cuddle but she also wants to eat me at the same time, and I find myself yelling at her to PLEASE just sit DOWN and chew on her TOYS and not my FINGERS and she looks at me with her sad little puppy eyes and I totally break down because I'm being so mean to my little puppy who has no idea what she's doing wrong, because her gums hurt and she just wants to chew on something. And then, making me feel even worse, she licks my face, trying to make me feel better because I'm crying.

So now, thank God, she's curled up beside me, asleep, and I feel like a piece of crap.

I don't even know why it stresses me out so much, or makes me so frustrated? She's just a little puppy...

Please tell me that at least one of you have had similar experiences with little puppies... You'd think I could manage. I can take care of a 24-week baby who's 1 pound on a ventilator all day long, and they run you ragged, but you manage. But this is a whole new thing to behold...

Am I alone in this?

I'm kind of a bad wife

Because this post is 2 days late :(

Sunday was my dear hubby's birthday!! He turned 26 years old :)

I feel bad, because his birthday was pretty low-key. (who am I kidding - it was nearly non-existent!) We went to my parents' house last week to celebrate, but that's about it - I didn't have a party for him, and I didn't even bake him a cake :( I had to work on Sunday, so he was by himself with our silly little puppy (who gets exhausting in 12 hours.) For his birthday dinner, we went to Zaxby's with our best friends. (I have a ban on fast food at our house, so that was kind of huge for me - but, he loves it, and it's pretty cheap, and since we're on a strict budget that includes no eating out, that was the best option.)

I feel like kind of a crappy wife. I'm SUCH a birthday person too - this fall in general has just been a little hard and a little tedious, what with our budget and trying to pay off debt and then lots of dental work and all... But, we did just get a puppy, which I'm calling his birthday present, and he got an iPhone4 with birthday money from family. So all was not lost.

I also have a request - Mark's grandmother, Nanny, who is basically the matriarch and caretaker of most of his family, is having a biopsy done today, and needs your prayers. We're praying for a clean, good diagnosis, and I ask that you will as well.

And while we're on the subject of praying - Mark is leaving today to go to an archival conference up at Princeton University. He's headed to stay with his parents, and they'll drive him to the airport. He'll fly out tomorrow, and fly back on Saturday. I will miss him so, but it's a great opportunity for him to learn more about the academic side of archivists, and it'll look great on his resume. But I want him safely returned to me on Saturday, so pray for that too.

Lots of praying in general going on - things are still rough at work with everybody. One of our co-workers' grandmother died on Sunday, and several other people are struggling with some really, really tough issues. We're all struggling with money, some even more than others. It's a hard time, but God is good and faithful and is clearly trying to teach us something. (Trusting in Him, perhaps?) I'm trying to do that.

Love to everybody :) Hope you all have a lovely Tuesday!