Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Year, New Recipes

This post got pushed back by my bout with the flu, but at the beginning of the year I was trying to step out of my comfort zone and try some new recipes, be "fearless in the kitchen" as Cynthia Coppersmith likes to say.  

A couple of years ago I stole a Rachael Ray cookbook during a game of Dirty Santa, and I had yet to really look through it, so I chose it for my inspiration during the first week of January.  As I was flipping through the "30-Minute Meals" what did I see?  Grilled Chicken Shawarma.

Maybe you were like me and went to the theater last May to see the Avengers, and at the end laughed at them around the table eating Shawarma, wondering what it was they were eating exactly.  Since the end of a day of parenting can kind of feel like you've been fighting to save the world, KJ and I celebrated with Shawarma one night, and it was DELICIOUS.  

Here's a link to the recipe, and you can even watch a 3-minute video of Rachael Ray preparing it.  It was awesome on the toasted pita bread, but I had seconds without the bread.  Peppers and onions and chicken = YUM.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday's Memories: The Tower Bridge

We walked along the Thames that afternoon with the Tower of London on our left, bought ice cream, and left our guidebook to London that we borrowed from the public library sitting by a railing.  Thankfully we remembered it and went back for it before it was permanently lost.

 It was a very windy day on the Thames.

I don't really have a lot of commentary to offer about the bridge except that it was beautiful, impressive, and eye-catching.  We walked across it and back again.

And to think we only have about three more stops and the recounting of this trip will be complete.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

At the Park

Yesterday was such a mild day I wanted to get the kids outside in the fresh air.  James, especially, who had been cooped up inside with the flu all week, could use some time running around.  At first I thought I'd let them get out their bikes and we'd go around the block, but I decided it would be better to spend the morning focused on school-work and to go to the park after James' nap.  

It was an unexpected gift to have KJ come home from work early and go with us.  He'd been staying late at work earlier in the week and had everything finished early as a result.  It seems that I'm the main reason he comes home at night.  :)

  I've taken a lot of blurry pictures lately that I really love.

We ended up finding a playground we'd never been to before, and it was a lot of fun.  Ella complained that I was swinging higher than her.  I told her I was a swinging expert.  Then I got down and pushed her so she could go higher.

  I love his happy faces.

Her happy faces are pretty awesome, too.

It's good to have my family together again.  It's good to be over the flu.  I'm still blowing my nose and have a nice sounding coughThe past couple of nights I've been ready to go to sleep by 6:00 p.m., too, but I'm getting stronger and better everyday.  James has a little bit of a runny nose left, but I think he's pretty much back to normal now.  I'm so glad that's over and so thankful KJ and Ella were spared.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Today is homecoming day.  KJ and Ella are coming home this morning.  When we sent Ella off to spend the night with grandparents last Wednesday night, we had no idea it would turn into a week-long absence.  Likewise, KJ went to work last Thursday morning, and that was the day the flu hit me so hard.  I packed him a bag and told him he couldn't come back home because this was so awful.  

So a full-week later James has been fever-free for 2 days, and I have been fever-free for 1, and I'm going to do one last sweep of the house with a can of Lysol, and perhaps life will return to normal.

Maybe I will even leave my house?  I haven't left it in 9 days.  It might be kind of hard to return to normal life...

My view of last week's snow

But I'm ready to be with my husband again, not just talk to him from a distance through the open front door.  I'm ready to hug Ella and teach her about WWII and plant our bean plant that is sky-high in a paper cup right now.  I'm so thankful it's homecoming day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Move-In Day

A couple of weeks ago KJ and I were able to help Jesse and Sandy move in to their new/first home. 

Getting their couch inside quickly became the biggest challenge of the day.  There's a wall right behind the front door, and the couch couldn't make the turn of that corner, so the guys carried it around back, hoping it might fit through the doorway to the porch that needs to be re-screened.

When they discovered that it wouldn't fit, Sandy's dad was not to be deterred.  KJ later coined a new name for him:  Spider Dan.

Sandy said she was content to just buy a smaller couch, but these movers think outside of the box.

The porch is a good 20 feet off the ground in the back of the house.  I'm not a good judge of distances, so that number could be way off, but it was high enough that I was praying and glad when Jesse grabbed on to his father-in-law, who is standing on some spare wood found in the woods behind the house.

     Can you spot Dan?

At this point I switched the camera to video mode.  A little background music makes everything seem more dramatic, right?

Success at last!  This couch stays with the house now.

 Movers Extraordinaire

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I completely forgot about sharing this video the other day when I did my back-to-school post.  This was another reason starting back was so encouraging.  A few weeks ago I started trying to get James to repeat after me to learn a Bible verse, because I knew he was capable of remembering, he just needed to understand the concept.  And last week he got it, and he was so proud.  I was, too.  Ella had been learning a couple of verses a week of Psalm 23, and I am so proud of her, too. 

In a health update, our fevers are lower (we both even reached a "normal" temperature this morning!), and we are definitely on an upswing.  We've both got a temperature around 100 now and are coughing like crazy, but we feel like we might live now, so that is an improvement.  Thank you so much for your prayers.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Our Sickness and Starting Back to School

I thought I'd try to write while my fever is a little lower and James is content.  I am quite afraid, my friends, that he and I have the flu.  This is my first time since I was a kid, and it is miserable.  It feels like it will go on forever.  I've discovered that I don't sleep well with a high fever, so I'm going on about 4 hours of sleep right now.  (I actually got a nap this afternoon!  Hallelujah!)

To back up a little bit, last Friday KJ told me the most wonderful plans he made for me for my birthday on the coming Tuesday.  He told me he knew all the things I would want for my birthday:  freedom, family, and shopping.  He planned for us to meet my parents Sunday night for dessert and let them take the kids, and I was going to have Monday all to myself.  A whole entire day ALL BY MYSELF.  You know this is unheard of.  Tuesday morning we were going to drive to the Galleria, do some shopping, and meet my parents and the kids and maybe my brother for lunch.  They were the most wonderful plans.  And they were shattered when James woke up from his afternoon nap Sunday with a fever of 103. I was very disappointed, but I think I bore it rather well.

We didn't take him to the doctor right away because a friend who we were with on Friday had her daughter come down with a virus with the exact same symptoms.  She took a flu test on Saturday, and it came back negative, so I felt reassured.  But this thing has just not gone away, and I came down with it, too....on my birthday.  Yes.  

So that is what we've been dealing with this week.  But if this sickness hadn't come upon us, I would have written about how wonderful our first week back to school was last week.  The first two days, especially, were so encouraging to me.  

I put together these pictures Tuesday night when I woke up feverish and couldn't sleep.  :)  

Before Christmas break, I was having the hardest time with James asking to play Mario constantly.  And even when I wouldn't let him play, he stopped playing with his other toys and using his imagination and just lay on the couch staring at the case to the Mario game.  I was really concerned.  It was hard to get him involved in anything else.  

The first week of the new year we started introducing some new guidelines for Wii-playing, though, and the Lord was so gracious to let us see some pretty quick results.  We started explaining that he could not play the Wii until after he ate lunch and then again after supper when KJ came home from work.  That was it.  And I was so thankful when he slowly stopped asking, and when we started school back, he participated in so many things and even told someone at church that he went to school.  Precious boy.  I think he finally started preschool.
Up until last week James hadn't shown much interest in copying letters.  Ella loved doing that at his age.  She would sit and trace them for hours.  But not only was he eager to do it, he did awesome!  Look at how neat of a tracing job that is!  I was so proud.  He made patterns while Ella did math and put together puzzles.  It was such an encouraging day starting back.
Ella did really well, too, and I felt less stressed about teaching.  Before the break my head would be spinning because I felt like I wanted to do everything in the morning:  teach school, household chores, exercise, shower, etc.  I guess I finally came to a good place of doing one thing at a time and using the whole day.  It definitely helps when we don't have anywhere we need to go.  That throws a whole other element into the equation.

So that's the post I would have written earlier in the week if James and I hadn't got sick.  But guess what.  James has been allowed free reign of playing Mario and watching other people play Mario on YouTube because he's had high fevers, and what else can we do?  Plus, when I'd try to tell him "no" and let him do something else, he'd start crying, and the snot would flow, and I caved.  Hopefully, when this passes, we'll get into a good schedule again.       

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ella had to look at a picture and write a story to go with it today.  Here's her original work.

A cold winter's day is good for (digital) scrapbooking.

Monday's Memories: London Bridge

London Bridge was a little underwhelming for a bridge I've heard sung about my whole life.  But I don't think it's the original, so we'll give London Bridge a break.

I wanted to get my picture made here, but I wasn't pushy enough.  Other tourists kept jumping up there, so I gave up on it.

Underwhelming or not, we were still at London Bridge, so I wasn't complaining.  I will say that walking along the River Thames that day reminded me of Dickens', Our Mutual Friend.  You know the men that pulled the dead bodies out of the water?  That's gruesome, I know, but we all know I've read too many books set in Victorian London.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday's Flashback: "The Globe"

After church and lunch at McDonald's (where, incidentally, I couldn't figure out how to flush the toilet and ended up setting off an alarm...they had a strange set-up in there), we walked along the River Thames, heading toward the Globe Theater.  Of course it's not the original Globe but a replication.  The original burned down twice, I think. Winding our way through busy, narrow streets, we passed a famous prison.

This was educational for me because I didn't know The Clink was a real prison; I'd only heard Barney Fife call the Mayberry jail "The Clink."  Now I know the origin of that reference.

We went on a guided tour, and being there, and hearing about what the area was like during Shakespeare's time, I understood better why the Puritans weren't fans.  Before I met KJ, who loved reading the works of the Puritans in college, about the only impressions I had of them were that they hated the theater.

But The Globe was by the river, and there were a lot of unsavory things going on in the acting community. 

We were there during the off-season, but in the summer they run plays, and you can pay for seats or stand in the area in front of the stage like the poorer folk in the old days.  We heard it's a lot of fun and like stepping back in time.

But despite what life around the theater might have been during Shakespeare's day, the number of phrases he coined is astounding.

And there you have it.