Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Joyful Mystery of a Full House

My baby and my almost  teen

I have entered a new landscape now as far as my children and household are concerned.  When I began this blog, eight years ago, I had seven children, ages 11 to 1.  I was busy, exhausted, isolated, overwhelmed, but very interested in gardening, iconography, decorating and writing.  I had a quiet house by 8:00pm every night, and total control over our schedule.  Everyone was home schooled then, no one went anywhere or did anything unless I took them, or invited and prepared for company.

Now, I have 9 children, ages 19 to 1.  My house is almost never quiet, as I have a college student and two upper classmen in high school who do homework and studying into the wee hours.  The little kids wake up at the crack of dawn, and I try to cram sleep in between for myself the best I can.  We have become "that house",  you know the one, where all the kids congregate.  I never know for certain how many people will be eating with us, or sleeping over, popping by.  I do not mind that our home is one of hospitality, but I must be willing to keep my balance on the shifting sands of our life.  I guess you could say that through the years I have had to develop good sea legs to keep my balance.

I'll have another child graduating from High School this year.  When my eldest graduated, I was seven months pregnant, and could only absorb the event as a calendar obligation.  I told family, a few friends, I bought a cake, we got him a card, and took a few pictures, but I could not get "into it" at all.  And that has been my struggle with a family this size.  I have kids moving in and out of every stage of life concurrently.  I want to soak it up, but I just can not.  The best I can do is notice the preciousness of each day, one encounter at a time, maybe make a note of it, maybe a photo, but more than likely, the moment will be fleeting and then will disappear into the ether of the past.  The rate of precious moments disappearing down the memory hole makes me so very melancholy at times, so grateful for the abundance at other times.  It is more than I can grasp.

My life has more joy that I can hold,  more work than I can do, and more love than I can actually make any sense of.  I have had people ask me, "How do you do this?  How can you keep it up?"  I don't actually know the answer about how, except One Day At A Time, with a very firm foundation of love, and a deep belief in the goodness of what (or Who) our family reflects.  As my husband and I were discussing our life yesterday, and he commented that I seem to worry less, even as the number of people to worry about has increased, and the number of things outside my control has increased (can you say teenagers driving, being driven by friends, going on trips, and so on?).  I replied, "I guess I just have to trust God, because I don't have time to do anything else."  We will deal with each day, along with its events both expected and unexpected, and trust that Our Lord will see us through.  And that is all I've got at this point. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday, finally

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

I am going to try this again~  I need to get my blogging voice back, and I have to start somewhere.  Here goes:


  I have been doing a Paleo style of eating since Jan. 7th.  Since my research in any area boils down to nothing, I just took the advice from one of my work out companions, and define Paleo as any food except grains or dairy.  I was not enthusiastic about this, but it was a challenge, and if you want me to do something, challenge me, and I'll do it. 

Coffee is paleo.  French Press coffee has become an essential part of my morning.  I have fiddled around with the coffee, the water temp, the steeping time, and come up with something that tastes terrific.  All this despite the fact that I rarely have time or presence of mind to pay attention to any of the above.  And it still tastes terrific.


I love eating this way.  I can't believe it, though.  I mean bread was my life, my love, my everything.  How can I live if living is without bread??
And cheese?  Seriously?? Cheese is the stuff that makes the world go around, food of the gods, gift to all mankind.  How could I possibly live with out cheese?

So now I have established that I probably needed to reset my food hierarchy a bit. I think I was living mostly on bread and cheese. 


The first week was the worst.  I wanted to cry, scream, hit, verbally eviscerate whomever, and then go straight to bed.  I continued to work out my three times a week schedule, which helped.  I made good food though.  Chopped lots of veggies,  roasted chicken, made bone broth, modified all our regular meals to include a paleo option (basically serving the pasta, potatoes or bread on the side, as well as the cheese on the side.)  I made paleo stuffed peppers, paleo spaghetti, paleo cookie bars, and lots of avocados.  Favorite sweet craving snack: Sliced banana with sesame seed butter on top, covered in either almond milk or coconut milk.  So good.  


It came to be, that I could live just fine without bread if I had avocados, and without cheese if I had carmalized onions (with cayenne pepper).  If I made almond butter and dark chocolate cookie bars I could make through my morning coffee happy.  If I had avocado/chicken salad for lunch, or a hamburger patty with kimcha on it, with raw veggies on the side, happy as a clam.  If I had roasted chicken with sauteed seasoned veggies for dinner, or bone broth soup, or roasted veggies with roast beef, content.  If I had bacon wrapped dates, or ham wrapped olives or roasted brussel sprouts for a movie snack, yum.  


Will I keep this up?  This began as a 30 day challenge.  I have more energy for sure.  My mood is so much more steady, and I have a body with very few aches and pains. I am almost never hungry, or if I am it is a good, honest hungry, not a shaky "if I don't eat something right now I might kill someone or die" sort of hungry.   So yes, I will apply what I have learned past the 30 days.  I will incorporate some grains back in, I will just be careful about the quality and amount.  I love cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread, and intend to add that in.  I will have cheese from time to time, as the delicious treat that it is, and relish it and enjoy it, and not just put it on everything. I will add back good quality yogurt.  I will keep my new found love of veggies.  I will keep being more intentional about what I create in the kitchen.  I will use food treats as treats, and not as a daily occurrence .  And  I will keep working out three times a week, which has been the key to all of the changes I have been able to make.  Maybe this will be the topic of my next quick takes:  How a 46 year old who just had a baby got back in shape after sitting in a chair and nursing for 4 years straight, or something like that.  

Wine is paleo.  Enough said.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday. Oops. Never mind.

I tried to do a Quick Takes Friday post, but it was so boring and dull and horrendous, I couldn't even stand to read it.  So never mind.  I apparently have nothing of import to say today.     A one sentence summary:  We (as in all 11 of us)  have been sick with a virus for 10 weeks, and are finally better, with only random coughing;  I nearly lost my mind listening to all that coughing.

There.  The end.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tap, Tap, is this thing on??

No blog post since April.  Crazy.  The addition of Theo to our family seemed to be the tipping point for me on so many of my side dish amusements.  My gardening is only basic maintenance; my cooking is uninspired but nutritious, with oodles of shortcuts.  My ability to read a book or anything longer than a blog post or Facebook update has disappeared. My only photos are on my iPhone, so Theo has only dark, blurry pictures to commemorate his first year.  Church has become a Sunday only affair, which I hate, but right now is all I can manage.  I have made a few trips to the monastery that is attached to our eparchy, and those pilgrimages have been soul savers. 

 I have enjoyed caring for Theo, and watching Melanie be the cutest 3 year old ever, and hosting innumerable teenage gatherings and shuttling  people back and forth to choir and buying  an enormous amount of food every week, and keeping us a few steps ahead of squalor every day.  I sleep the sleep of the exhausted when I am able to sleep (any other mid-forties women understand that comment?).  I began an intense exercise regimen with some church friends in September, which has given me my strength back after feeling very weak from Theo’s birth.  It took me a year to even gather the energy after he was born to try to exercise.  I can now say I am stronger than I have been since before I was pregnant with Melanie, which gives me hope for my continued strengthening.  It never is too late!  I am still doing iconography weekly, praise God, and have taken two workshops since Theo was born to improve my skills.  My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary this year, and have had to pour renewed energy into our relationship if we are to have any time together at all.  Having nine children from college age to one year old all living under our roof is a full, full life.  
But I really miss blogging.  The entire blogging universe has change so much since I was active, I really don’t know how to be part of the blogging “community” anymore, but I figure if I write, at least I will have a record of my thoughts. 

And now it is time to get the kids on their schoolwork.  I did fail to mention that I am still home schooling the bottom 6 children, if you count Theo and Melanie as being home schooled, which  I do.
Hopefully I’ll be back soon with something besides my task list.  Here is to hope springing eternal!