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Scattered Sundays

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It has basically been 11 months, but Jack is finally going back to school this week. True, it is only two days a week, but it is something.

The return to campus has been really disjointed (they were supposed to start in September, then November, and then it was early December), but I’m not mad at anyone. I truly believe that everyone is just doing the best they can with the information they have at the moment.

I don’t know how this is all going to go, but I know Jack is HUNGRY to see others. I think it has been really hard to be a kid for the last year. Especially an extroverted kid. Some day, someone much smarter than I am will do a big study on whether shutdowns were too restrictive or not restrictive enough. But for now, I can say that we’re thankful that he is getting any time with his peers.

There was a Zoom info session for the students this week, and I was surprised to see that 90% of the attendees were parents. I sat in because I had logistical questions, but Jack was on the one on the screen and I sat off-screen. As you know, my motto is “I passed 6th grade. It’s your turn now”. It was a great info session, but I think the students were the ones who needed to hear it.

We found out two weeks ago what days Jack would be at school. And as these things go, they were of course the two days a week that Bennett is NOT at preschool. Murphy’s Law.

By the grace of God, Bennett’s speech therapist was able to swap us with another family for a different day. That freed up that day to be a preschool day, and preschool was gracious enough to allow us to move Bennett’s schedule around too. That means, starting THIS week, both of these buttholes will be gone from the house twice a week on the same days!!!

I’m so excited to have two quiet workdays a week. I’d love more, but after a year of none, I’ll take two! The three days that Jack is NOT in school are basically independent learning. They work at their own pace and don’t really need to check-in with their teachers unless they have questions.

Jack is a very speedy worker, so I foresee that he’ll get everything done early in the day and then spend the rest of his day interrupting me 30 times per hour. I have tried closing (and locking!) the door while I am working, putting in earbuds, and basically telling the boys to leave me alone.

And yet, I can maybe get 10 minutes before someone barges into my room to tell me “D Day was in June” <–Bennett, or “I just found the coolest way to solve improper fractions”. <—Jack. Society tells me I’m supposed to treasure these memories. But society has not been stuck in a house with my feral children for 11 months, so pardon me while instead, I treasure the delicious silence for 12 hours a week.

Bennett has been fantastic at drop-off since school started back up in January. We were worried about the transition given his barnacle-like behavior back in November. But, it could have not been any different for the last month.

We had an issue in the Fall with him delaying going into school by saying he needs “just one more hug”. If you have ever parented a small kid, you’ll recognize these delay tactics that many emotional terrorists (AKA kids) employ at bedtime.

We agreed upon 10 hugs and kisses at drop off to allow everyone to move the process along. WELL, last week he told me “I only need one hug today, mom”, and THIS week, he told me “I don’t need any hugs”. Whoa!

I am not that parent who gets emotional about these things and worries that I am losing my baby forever. No shade if you are, but it’s just not my thing. I’ve said many times that I will be a better grandma than a mom. When he told me that he didn’t need any hugs, I thought “YES! This is progress and maybe, just maybe, he won’t be living with us at 25”.

Welp, it wasn’t two hours into that momentous day, when we got a call from the school. Naturally, I thought he was flipping out at not getting a hug, or had gotten hurt. But, nope, the school was shutting down immediately because of a positive ‘rona case from TEN days ago.

It was my first week back to work after taking a week off, and I had big plans for his preschool days. Remember that saying, “tell God your plans and watch him laugh”? God had a great laugh at my expense this week.

If the last 11 months have taught me anything, it is that if you’re a parent in a pandemic, you need to be like the bendy tree in the forest. You need to be able to move with the wind because otherwise, your butt is going to get knocked down in a storm. My Type-A personality doesn’t like that at all, but the alternative hasn’t been effective either.

3 boys sitting at a table, one is in a dinosaur costume

This week has also been pretty intense as Troy recovered from his second dose of the ‘rona vaccine (Moderna). The first one was a cinch, but we had heard that dose number two is the one that made people feel like a pile of poop. And ooooh, boy, it hit Troy hard.

Within five hours of the shot, he was falling asleep sitting up on our couch. Eighteen hours after it, he spiked a low-grade fever of 100 and had body aches and chills. The headache and joint pain started a bit later, and he ended up sleeping for five hours, dead to the world, in the middle of the day of day two.

It took a solid three days until he felt like he was back to normal. He did tell his cousin that it was extremely high on the man cold scale, which means near death. But for reals, if that is the reaction that he got from the vaccine, this is definitely not a virus anyone wants in their lives. Stay safe, friends!

When he finally felt better, he tackled the most glaring project in the kitchen – the fact that our sink cabinet didn’t have doors on them. He had a plan for over a week on how to fix this, and once he was feeling up to it, the whole thing took about 30 minutes. It’s so nice that the ugliest cabinet in the kitchen is now covered.

a kitchen sink

This week is the first real step in Jack’s journey to braces. He gets spacers put in on Tuesday. From what I can remember from the planning visit, the spacers will be in for three weeks, with adjustments made and new ones put in once a week. And then after that, I believe he gets an expander for up to six months.

He is equal parts nervous and excited. He has long hated his teeth, and when his first adult tooth came in back in kindergarten, we immediately started saving for braces. It was that obvious that this would be his eventual path. It’s nice to get started on this journey that will probably take a collective 30 months.

a folding table propped on boxes of Bubly

Even with preschool closed, I still managed to do a photoshoot in the new kitchen. I have been taking photos in our living room for three years and was really hopeful that I could stop that once the kitchen was done.

The results were mixed and it was a lot of work to get everything set up and situated. New space = new light and trying to figure out the best way to photograph the dishes. The wall oven was in my way for most of it, and eventually, Bennett’s play kitchen will be back in this space. It was nice to not have to use the living room, but I see myself going back to that space long-term.

a hand holding bushes

Hey there signs of spring. I seeeeeee you!

This week also saw a return to me running, albeit doing so with almost zero excitement. I had started up again a few weeks ago, and then promptly almost broke my toe by being the special kind of moron who walked through a kitchen construction zone without shoes on. Between that injury and the rapid pace of the last two weeks of construction, I totally gave up trying to make any progress.

So, I started over. Again. And it’s fine. It will be fine. Everything is fine. That’s what I’m going to keep saying until I believe it! 🙂 I started back with only 1 mile but found my pace was 30 seconds faster than just a few weeks ago. Not sure what that is all about, but I’ll take it.

I don’t run to be fast, but I do run to feel strong. And in my experience with the running I did starting in March, I did increase my speed as I got stronger and eased into adding more and more distance. Who knows what will happen this time, but that is part of the process I guess.

a messy art table

Bennett’s room might drive me to drink.

Through the kindness of others, we have added eight chickens to our flock in the last eight months. We still have two chickens from the original group we brought in when Jack was four (he’ll be 12 in two months), and our girls were definitely aging and slowing down with their laying.

Adding new ladies to the group has been an egg bonanza for us, and they never really slowed down their laying in the fall. Typically, chickens will slow or stop laying eggs when the natural daylight drops below 10 hours a day. For the Seattle area, that starts in October.

We’ve still been getting 5-7 eggs a day, even in the middle of winter. Yes, we do eat A LOT of eggs, but we’ve also given some to friends and family. And remember the painting angel, AKA our neighbor? He never did agree to let us pay him, but I did give him a gift certificate to a local diner at Christmas. AND I gave him a carton of eggs and told him it was magically refilling for infinity. 

Our arrangement is that when he needs a refill, he puts the carton on our front porch, and magically, it will be refilled and delivered to his house. I am not someone who takes “no” for an answer when it comes to repaying a good deed. 🙂

Two of our newer members to the flock are Green Queens. This breed can come in many different colors. Ours are all black, including jet black feet. We call them the “fuzzy faces” because they have puff balls on their cheeks. We were confused as to why they were called Green Queens, until last week these gorgeous green eggs started showing up in the nesting boxes.

a hand holding a green chicken egg

I’m not sure why it was so funny to me, but SO many people sent me messages on Instagram after I posted ^ photo, saying they had no idea there were green eggs. My friends, there are so many colors of eggs! Green, brown, chocolate brown, white, blue, speckled, etc. So many kinds of eggs!

And here’s a fun fact – the color of the eggshell does not in any way indicate that the egg is more nutritious for you. Brown eggs have gotten the reputation of being healthier but it is either marketing or false perception. Or maybe a combo of the two.

Most grocery store eggs are white, and that is simply because chickens that are raised in factory farms are bred for intense egg production. Sadly, those chickens live in crappy conditions and don’t last long. And those breeds just happen to have white eggs. And consumers want pristine white eggs.

A chicken in confinement will not last more than a year or two, since egg production that is forced for 12 months a year (using sunlight-mimicking lights) stresses out the birds. With backyard flocks, you can get all different types of breeds that produce all different colors of eggs. 

And that concludes my TED Talk on chickens. Thanks for coming!

baby yoda poking up over a kitchen island

Housekeeping

We’re partnering with Once a Month Meals to bring you exclusive meal plans that allow you to make one month’s worth of meals in one day. That’s right, knock out an entire month in just one day.

Having done it myself, my pro tip for you is to order take out on your prep day or plan to eat a simple dinner of frozen pizza and veggies! Sign up here to slay meal prep!

What I’m Listening To This Week

I started Longshot: Return Man this week and am only two episodes in, but really like it. “Return Man” is an investigation into the life and mysterious death of the only Super Bowl champion from Lancaster, S.C.”. So, part true crime, part history, and part sports – this podcast has it all!

Oh, and if you like sports podcasts, you have to check out Gladiator, the story of Aaron Hernandez. I listened to it a few years ago and it is FASCINATING.

What I’m Reading This Week

I’m *almost* done with Untamed by Glennon Doyle. And…it is officially not a book for me. My feelings about it are the same as Wolfpack, which makes sense because it was written by her wife. I’m glad it is out there for those who need it, but I’m not her target audience. 

I just have the hardest time believing what is in the book is actually how she or anyone actually speaks to others in real life. It seems wholly unrealistic, which to me means that some readers are viewing this and feeling like they are failing because they aren’t living their lives in the same way.

I get where the book is trying to go, and how it is trying to help people. But it is like watching 90201 when you’re a tween and thinking that teenagers actually talk and look like that. If you compare a 16-year-old version of yourself to a 30-year-old actor, you’re always going to think you’re failing. If that makes any sense. Who knows. Donna Martin graduates.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Erin left this five-star review on Green Beans and Tomato Sauce {Pin this recipe}:

This came together so quickly and worked out perfectly for us!

a grey bowl with green beans in tomato sauce topped with shaved parmesan

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Instant Pot Chicken Pot Pie – A big bowl of Instant Pot Chicken Pot Pie is delicious homemade comfort food. This healthy dinner has a flavorful creamy base paired with LOTS of veggies and delicious tender chicken. No pressure cooker? No problem! You’ll also find directions to make this on the stovetop. {Pin this recipe}

a black bowl with a spoon full of Instant Pot chicken pot pie

Roasted Garlic in the Air Fryer – Air Fryer Roasted Garlic is so simple to make, and even better, cooking it won’t heat up your house! Packed with flavor, roasted garlic cloves add a delicious and mellow garlic flavor to so many dishes. {Pin this recipe}

two heads of roasted garlic with fresh herbs on a marble surface

Instant Pot Brown Jasmine Rice – Make perfect Instant Pot Brown Jasmine Rice for a speedy side dish that the whole family will love! Made in a flash in a pressure cooker, this healthy rice is great for meal prep and pairs well with so many dishes. No pressure cooker? You’ll also find stovetop instructions in the recipe. {Pin this recipe}

Two bowls of Instant Pot brown rice on a white board

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

We finally have a non-air fryer recipe pop up in the top five this week! But also remember, ALL my Instant Pot and air fryer recipes also include conventional cooking instructions. I design my recipes so that you don’t need special equipment to make them yourself.

  1. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan/vegetarian as written, but you can make your version to your tastes.  {Pin this recipe}
  2. Air Fryer Pretzel Bites – so fast and easy to make and they’re SO GOOD. Oh, and the dough freezes like a boss and you can cook these while they are still frozen! {Pin this recipe}
  3. Air Fryer Potatoes – skip using the oven and make these crispy taters in the air fryer.  {Pin this recipe}.
  4. Air Fryer Cookies – this post has been creeping up in the rankings thanks to some random semi-popularity on Pinterest. {Pin this recipe}
  5. How to Freeze Spinach – this post jumped up in the rankings this week. This topic is popular in spring, so my question is…who is having spring in February?  {Pin this tutorial}

Meal Plan

This week I stopped by a local diner in our town to get takeout. I noticed that part of the restaurant was closed off by a curtain. I asked the owner about it while I was waiting for my meal.

She told me that when everything started to open back up, the social distancing rules required they store half their tables somewhere. Not only were they using that space to store extra tables and chairs, but they had converted it to a schoolroom for the employee’s kids to have a place to go during the week.

I pretty much almost started crying right there at the generosity of this place. The last 11 months have been a cluster of epic proportions, but I really have found that people are truly good when given a chance to shine. 

Dining out twice a week during the shutdown has made us tweak our budget, but these kinds of stories make me so glad we were able to make it work.

**I let Jack and Bennett plan this week’s meals. I legit DGAF right now about meal planning, so this will be uber-carb heavy, but whatever. They put two soups on the menu in a row which I found pretty surprising, but totally my thing.

Monday:: Instant Pot Potato Soup and salad.

Tuesday:: Jack’s dental work day! He has chosen Tomato Soup, biscuits, and salad (<—I added that)/

Wednesday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Thursday:: Troy’s delicious burgers, fries, and salad.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night. Assuming the ortho will tell us no popcorn for Jack, so we’re trying to brainstorm other good “snacky” foods for him.

Saturday:: Pasta and salad. But not pasta salad because the boys think that is revolting.

Sunday:: Takeout to support a local small business, especially on a day where so many restaurants rely on couples dining out.

What are you having this week?

 

 

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15 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. I seriously feel for Jack. My palate was like a Gothic cathedral ceiling and I couldn’t even bite through a sandwich. The expander seriously sucks, pretty sure it was actually developed by the CIA as a torture device, my mum had to bribe me with milkshakes for the adjustments at the ortho office. At home it was one crank at a time (can’t remember if it was daily or weekly) but at the office it’s like 3-4 cranks… so evil,  but the results are totally worth it. 
    I’m so happy you’re loving your kitchen!

    • You couldn’t even bite through a sandwich? Oh, my!

      From what I remember, our “at home crank” will be once per week. The ortho said “your mom will need to do it” to Jack. I’m assuming he caught sight of Troy’s giant banana fingers on a previous visit and knew that was a non-starter.

      Loving the kitchen is an understandment. I love turning on that light in the morning and my heart still skips a beat when I see it.

  2. I am slowly recovering from covid. I can tell you that I honestly wouldn’t wish it on (most) anyone 😉
    Worse part is the exhaustion- I fell asleep standing up twice. I’ll be going back to work this week and I am dreading it. 
    So happy for your new kitchen – looks amazing. Probably super hard to recreate that natural light by that amazing window overlooking one of my favorite views you nonchalantly toss our way every once in a while! Have some pity and give us a glimpse of that view 🙂
    Hope you get to enjoy 2 glorious kid free days this week!

    • Oh, Jan, I’m so glad you’re ok! I’m sorry you ever had to deal with that, and I’m sending you prayers for a full recovery. Good luck with work. I hope it goes well, and I hope you’re at least able to ease back into it…?

      Yes, our view…it’s lovely. But it’s also very distinctive, and thus I never show it fully to protect our location. 🙂

  3. Good luck with the braces Jack! I just listened to an audiobook called breath that made me second guess all the teeth we had pulled from Emma’s mouth. Basic premise is that our faces are devolving because of all the soft foods we eat- we lose muscle in our jaws, which causes the structure of our mouths to change which leads to teeth crowding, which leads to teeth being pulled which leads to more negative structure changes, which eventually leads to breathing problems such as snoring, deviated septum, sleep apnea, and more.
    I just finished the book and have not yet researched any of that, but the argument in the book was compelling.

    Our chickens laid the most gorgeous eggs! We had one girl that laid pretty pastel pink eggs. Our ducks laid gray/black eggs. I miss my birds.

    We move to a new campground on Thursday so my hope is to eat all the food in our fridge and freezer so I can defrost it on the drive. I may try the Paleo Chicken Pot Pie soup with ground turkey, and we are also having turkey tacos, wings, cod with Brussels sprouts and bacon, and I think thats all I have planned.

    I’m super excited that your kiddos are back in school! Yah freedom!

    • That sounds like an interesting book! It must be an evolution thing because I can’t imagine that a child’s mouth would become so weak in just five years. We knew the second his first adult tooth came in that his mouth was going to be expensive.

      I’ve never had pink eggs before. I bet that was stunning!

      Any big reason for the move or just a new scene? I hope it is a great location.

  4. Girlie, I KNEW that you were my people!! ❤️ I am an AWESOME Maw (my Grandma name)  but as a Mom, my kids drove me outta my ever lovin’ mind. Loved them to death, but they were a bit much at times and they deserved time away from their stressed out Mom, too. Can’t even imagine trying to be a parent during a pandemic.

    Sorry to hear about Troy’s experience with the vaccine….my firefighter son had the same reaction but I did fine, as did my hubby and my 83+ parents. And I also am curious about the repercussions that may come from isolation. It’s been a very long year ???? 

    • Are you just “Maw” or ever “Maw Maw”? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

      Most people I know who have had had the second shot have had a similar reaction. I really hope it doesn’t scare people away from getting it, because this junk is nothing to mess around with. Sooooo glad you and your husband and parents are ok!

  5. I feel you on the Glennon Doyle thing. I briefly followed her on IG but the way she communicates just wasn’t for me. Lots of people love her, I’m just not one of them. 

  6. I LOVE seeing all the pictures of your new kitchen!  From the pictures, your house has such an airy, non-cluttered feel and I love it!  My daughters think I should decorate!  Everywhere!  But I like space and light!

    Our meal plan will be chicken/bacon/leek casserole tonight, followed by yellow Thai curry (sauce from Costco), crustless ham/tomato/spinach quiche with air fryer potatoes, poblano turkey burgers with guacamole, rice, and beans, grilled pork chops with roasted broccoli and cauliflower, chicken chili, and then Saturday take out.  We had been spreading our take out dollars around but we’ve become addicted to the curry chicken, lo mein, and dumplings at our local Chinese place so that will probably be our fancy Valentines meal!

    My middle schoolers were THRILLED when they finally got to go back to school.  I hope Jack has a great week!

    • I meant to add that I felt the same way about Untamed.  A couple of friends raved about it and I’m glad they loved it, but it was a “meh” for me.

    • In the before times when we used to have people over, new guests would ask if we had just moved in. Nope, that is just my decorating style! Ha! We do need some artwork on the walls eventually, but we have always been waiting until Nerf darts are no longer flying through the air at every second.

      Also, if your daughters want more decorations, it should be their responsibility to dust around them! 🙂

      That sounds like a fantastic week of meals. YUM!