30 June 2011

Bed Rest Chronicles #5

It seems that this whole staying in bed thing is really messing up my sleep schedule. Which rarely happens.

I am a morning person. Yes, when not incredibly sleep deprived with a newborn, I am that person that can bounce of bed (literally) really early in the morning and be raring to go within 30 minutes. Even on not much sleep (5-6 hours), I can be that person.

And I've been that person my whole life - I was the child that was up when the sun was up. If the sun was up at 5am, I was up at 5am. My parents were pretty understanding as long as I didn't wake them up before 0700. I was perfectly content to stay in my room and play by myself until my brother woke up.

On the flip side to that though, I was the also the child that put herself to bed before bed time if I was really tired. I would just go tell my parents good night and went off to bed.

I have always had a hard time staying up past 2100 (that's 9pm), no matter how late I slept in. I rarely make it through watching a movie with my husband that is started anytime after 2000.

So imagine my surprise when I now find myself having a hard time falling asleep at midnight and sleeping in past 0800 in the mornings. It's just so weird. I'm tired in the mornings and wide awake in the late evenings. I slept in until almost 1300 today! That's 1pm!! I'm thinking I'm just really needing the sleep because I'm pregnant. I'm definitely not doing anything during the day to make myself tired. I hope that my body isn't gearing up to go into labor or something . . . although I think you are supposed to get a burst of energy the days before going into labor . . .

It's just weird to suddenly be a night owl.

Have you ever had a bodily schedule flip like that? That wasn't created on your own, like having to work a night job or being a brand new mom?

29 June 2011

Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles


Set against a backdrop of drought and poverty in Texas in the Dustbowl and Great Depression of the 1930's, Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles is a book that is hard to put down. It's the fictional story of the Stoddard Women and their life and trials following the oil fields in East Texas until an accident brings them back to their hometown. The book covers a time span of over ten years in the lives of these women who face a lonely and hard life of following the oil fields, and then the stark poverty of the Great Depression in their hometown. They are resilient and stick together and they make it through. A story of hope and the resilience of the human spirit, it is a book that leaves you thinking about how great you have it life today.

Jiles writes like she lived the story. The details are so realistic, you can almost taste the dust in your mouth and feel the oppressiveness of the drought and the long months with no sign of rain, trying to eek out a living and get by with next to nothing. Jiles also included societal attitudes of the time, including stigmas of various sorts. I would venture to say that if you compared this novel with narratives of actual stories from those who lived through this time in Texas, you would be hard pressed to find much difference.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction, stories about overcoming the odds and tragedy or a compelling story. This book is a New York Times Bestseller and it's very easy to see why.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review - It's Not About Me by Max Lucado


 
It seems sometimes that our society and culture is saturated with the pervasive thought pattern that life is all about us. What about me? What’s in it for me? What’s that got to do with me? Will that make me happy? I deserve it.  I can be my own god. I can do what I want, nobody will get hurt. Me me me.

Max Lucado has a message for our culture – It’s Not About Me. There is a reason that no matter how much material wealth we acquire, how much we do to make ourselves happy, how much we push our own agenda (usually at the expense of others), that line of thinking just isn’t true. Why? Because it really isn’t all about us. If it’s not about us, then who is it about? It’s about God – Jesus Christ, the one who came to Save the world. Lucado explains how the Lord created the Earth and all that is in it to reveal His glory, and that we are part of that plan. The bottom line of the plan: “Reveal my glory” says the Lord. And that glory is revealed in what we do, how we do it, our joys and triumphs and even our problems and sorrows. Even Christ’s death on the cross was for God’s glory – as was Christ’s Resurrection.

The book is divided up into two sections: “God Pondering” and “God Promoting”. The first part is about pondering the glory of God – His unchanging love, His glory through Creation and how He chooses to reveal His glory to us. The latter part is reflecting God’s glory back to him through our lives, our situations and circumstances, our bodies – basically our everything. We were made to glorify the Lord – bottom line. The book does come with a study guide, which I really liked.

I would recommend this book for everyone. The purpose of our lives being for God’s glory first and foremost, which is very anti-egocentric and definitely does not conform with our cultural norms, is not talked about widely, and Lucado brings this subject to light in a very open and loving way. I personally found this subject to be very convicting. For those that think life is all about them and don’t see any other way – I would challenge them to read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Heart and Soul Blog Hop

I think I'm a little late this week, but the linky is still open, so here is my Heart and Soul Blog Hop post. :) Join Premeditated Leftovers as she co-hosts this blog hop. I got some fabulous recipes from other bloggers who shared and I can't wait until I can get back in the kitchen to make them! Click here to join the blog hop!

Today, I am going to share my recipe for my Enchiladas. This is a recipe that I was given when I was 14 or 15 and working on The Farm in Virginia. Since I have been given this recipe, of whose original source I have no idea, I have modified it quite a bit and really made it my own. What I love about this recipe is that you can make these enchiladas as hot or as mild as you like - so when I'm making them for my husband, I make them on the mild side. When I used to make them for my Dad and brother Thomas when I was a teenager, I made them on the very hot side (and then usually left for a date or to hang out with friends). I have also made them many times for large groups of people, doubling or tripling the recipe, and they are always a hit. Since chicken can be a bit expensive, as can cheese, they aren't exactly on the cheaper side. At least what I consider the cheaper side. Although if you are on WIC, you can get the cheese, tortillas and jalapenos on WIC.  And again, I don't measure when I cook, so measurements will be guestimates. Feel free to experiment until you find the right amount for you! :)

Tegan's Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas:

Ingredients:
1 package of boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes, or strips if you prefer
cumin
paprika
juice of one lime (optional)
jalapenos - fresh or jarred. De-vein and de-seed and chop if using fresh. If using jarred, should be at least sliced and drained. Gloves optional, but recommended if you wear contacts. (You do have to remove your contacts later!)
mayo - between 1/3 - 1 cup
flour or cornstarch - I prefer flour, but if making gluten free, use cornstarch. Either works well
1 can chicken broth or 2 cups water boiled with chicken bouillon added
1 pound colby jack cheese, shredded - or you can use Mexican cheese mix
8-12 medium flour tortillas. You can really use any size tortilla, I have just found the medium sized ones to be the best size. The number varies on how you stuff your enchiladas.

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350* F.

Cook the chicken in a frying pan on the stove on medium heat. I use cooking spray, not butter, in the pan. Season with cumin and paprika. About 1-1.5 tsp each. Add juice of lime if desired.

**A word about the jalapenos: if you want your enchiladas to be mild, I recommend using 1-2 fresh, not jarred, jalapenos. To turn up the heat using fresh jalapenos, just add more. They can also be sliced with the seeds if you like the heat that much. If you are using jarred jalapenos, I highly recommend draining the jalapenos. 1/4 of a jar is plenty, but if you love your food hot and spicy, use the entire jar. Adding a little of the juice from the jar will also increase the heat quite a bit.**

You can add your jalapenos either when the chicken is cooking (which will turn up the heat), or at the end after you have added the sauce.

To make the "sauce": while the chicken is cooking, heat up your chicken broth to boiling. Once boiling, turn down the heat to med-low and add the mayo. Stir constantly until mayo dissolves.

When mayo is dissolved in chicken broth, add flour or corn starch by the tablespoon full and stir constantly until thickened. Can be stirred with a spoon or a whisk. You can add more mayo if you need to.The consistency should be fairly thick, like a cream gravy almost.

When the chicken is thoroughly cooked (that means no pink!), and the sauce is thicken enough, add the sauce to the chicken pan. Add your jalapenos if you haven't already done so. Turn the heat to warm, and stir a few times to get everything all mixed together.

To make the enchiladas, take a tortilla and add a thin layer of cheese, about a large pinch. Add a large-ish spoonful of chicken mixture and some more cheese, another pinch or two. Roll. The cheese and chicken should stay inside the tortilla and not spill out the ends.

Place the enchilada in a 9x13inch baking dish. I find that glass works best.
 
Repeat until all tortillas are used. If you think you are running out of space, just squish the enchiladas in a bit and you'll find that you have a lot more space! If you have leftover chicken and sauce, you can put it on top of the enchiladas. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

Place remaining cheese in a row down the middle of the enchiladas. You should have enough cheese to at least cover the center of the enchiladas all the way down the pan.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve with salsa and sour cream if desired. Enjoy! :)

28 June 2011

Bed rest Chronicles #4

So what have I been doing this week? Well, I remembered that I had some not-much-played computer games downstairs, so I asked Mike to bring this one up for me:

Yes, yes, good old Sim City 4. I actually haven't played this since last summer when I was laid up with a knee injury, so I figured it would be good to get it out and play with it.

I have to say I have been enjoying it, and my Sim City building skills seem to have improved magically since last summer. 

Normally, I only play The Sims on my computer - I am rather attached/fond of my little Simmies as I call them, but my computer can't support all the expansion packs that I have like Mike's computer can, so I only play that on his computer. And his computer does not like being used in bed, apparently, as it always gets too hot up here. Not anywhere else, just up here in bed (like when we want to watch a movie in bed or something). 

So anyway, my poor "to do while on bed rest list" has been put aside and I have been playing Sim City 4 quite a bit. I can even play it while laying down! Bonus! Oh well, I probably won't have another chance to play it after Daphne is born for who knows how long . . . 

And now my readers know that I'm a computer nerd with a strict loyalty to the Sims, lol . . .

Baby Update

It's time for another baby update! :)

I am 33 weeks and 4 days and things are going pretty well. By pretty well, I mean that I am still pregnant and I'm not in the hospital. Yay!

I do have to say that the walk from the parking lot to the office (which is a pretty good distance since the office is at the hospital) is getting harder and harder to walk. Being on bed rest, and therefore doing no walking at all, it just seems like such a long way. When we (Mike went with me) were walking back to the truck, Mike tried to hurry across the street so that traffic could continue. My body was definitely in "hurry-mode". I told Mike that I thought they would understand as they see the small lady with the ginormous belly making her way across the street. I had to keep asking Mike to slow down to practically a snail's pace. And if you know how fast I normally walk, you can imagine the difference! My muscles have gotten so used to not doing anything, like supporting my weight when I walk, that they groan a bit when I use them. Plus when I start walking, my uterus gets especially irritated, hence the reason for bed rest to begin with. I think that my recovery after I have Daphne to where I was before I was on bed rest is going to be a difficult road. Or at least a long one.

When the nurse practitioner took my blood pressure, which was 102/50, she mentioned that it was a little low. To which I informed her that reading was actually up for me. She was quite surprised that 102/50 was up! High blood pressure comes with lots of problems, but so does really low blood pressure. At least I'm not dizzy most of the time anymore.

I thought I was going to have a full ultrasound today, but when I got there, the nurse practitioner said that it hadn't been enough time since my last one (they like to have at least three weeks between those), so they just did a biophysical profile ultrasound today like they have been doing for the last two weeks.

The ultrasound tech was doing her thing, and she remarks: "Her feet are way down in your cervix." To which I reply "I know!". She's been kicking me down there since yesterday, and she has some pretty strong kicks. Ouch! She is footling breech, so her head is up in my rib cage. My amniotic fluid was back up to 29 cm. I'm figuring those two things combined are why I've been having a hard time getting enough air when I take deep breaths the last two days.

I did get a really good picture of Daphne's face on the ultrasound, after much maneuvering by the tech. Yay! She is so cute - I think she looks like Sophie did when Sophie was a baby (which means she'll look like Mike!) She already has chubby little cheeks and Mike and I think that she has my nose. It's the first really good ultrasound pic we've gotten of her face (even though we've had eight ultrasounds so far this pregnancy, not including today's). Then she got tired of us trying to take her picture, and she basically rolled over so that she was facing my spine, literally turning her back on us, lol!

Daphne got all her points on her ultrasound although she gave me a bit of a scare when I was on the monitor for the non-stress test. Normally her heart rate is in the 140's, and of course it varies, and that's how it was today. I was watching the little strip and it had her heart rate on a tiny screen above it and it suddenly dropped down into the 70's. And stayed down there for a minute or two. 110 bpm is the lower limit of normal for an unborn child. She hasn't done that before. So the nurse practitioner kept me on the monitor for an extra 20 or 30 minutes to see if her heart rate would do that again. It didn't, which is really good. The nurse said that she probably laid up against her cord or something and then moved off it. It also took her a really long time to do her heart accelerations. They want to see two heart accelerations in 20 minutes and she didn't have one at all for the first 20 minutes. Heart accelerations are when the baby's heart rate jumps up 20 or so bpm when they move, which is good. It's like when your heart rate jumps up when you run a short distance or something. So they gave me some really cold water to drink and she had her two accelerations after that.

One of the other ladies who was there to be on the monitor remarked that my belly was so big, it was cute. I took that as a compliment. My belly has definitely gotten really big, but oh well. It will go back down after Daphne is born. The weird thing is that my arms and legs have gotten skinnier because I'm not using them much and so my muscles have gotten a little smaller. So I have really thin arms and legs and poof! Huge belly. Which apparently only sticks out it front, because my friend Sierra told me that you can't tell that I'm pregnant from behind. I think that's a good thing. :)

So all in all, a good visit. I have another BPP on Friday and then the full ultrasound next week. And I'll be 34 weeks on Friday! Yay! I feel like the time to meet her is coming soon! :) But not too soon, of course . . .

24 June 2011

Yay!

I made it to 33 weeks!! Yay! Praise the Lord!

I am still pregnant - this is great!

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people; the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations."
Psalm 100 (NIV)

23 June 2011

"Green Living for Dummies" and boycotts

I don't think I'll consider this post an actual book review for a few reasons: it's actually a pocket edition (that would feel like cheating), and I want to post about my thoughts about living green which are sure to start in a ramble off the main topic - not really conducive to writing a good review, lol.

So anyway, I've had this pocket guide for a while, at least a year. I've read bits and pieces of it here and there, but today I read the whole thing through while at various doctor appoints and such.

The booklet covers green topics including: Being Greener for the Good of the People and the Planet, Making Your Home Healthy and Efficient, Minimizing Your Trash and Decluttering Your Life and Making Great Green Diet Decisions. I found all of these topics to be helpful and they weren't written from the "you must go green or you are evil and should die" point of view that I was expecting. Let's face it, there are extreme environmentalists out there. But doing things in moderation, as you can, which is how this booklet approaches the idea of green living, I like.

Inside each topic, the authors, Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay and Michael Grosvenor, talk about ways to go green and why. They start with understanding the impact of your choices, recognizing the rewards of sustainable living (like saving money - yay!), making your home more efficient, water conservation (important especially in the desert), green cleaning (who knew you could do so much with baking soda??), reusing and recycling, choosing food sources wisely (more locally grown etc), what exactly organic growing is (and is not), and few other things. I definitely learned a lot! I really loved how they gave a lot of website resources where you can find additional information, from everything about finding free-range chicken products to charities that accept used goods like clothing, paint, etc. I even learned what a carbon footprint is! (Imagine that!)

In the past I have kind of steered away of being "green" simply because it is usually associated with extremist groups. I like the earth as much as the next person (it's so beautiful, who doesn't love it?!), but trees are not more important than children, and we have animals that we can eat for a reason. Actually, some species can get overpopulated extremely fast if they aren't controlled through methods like hunting, which results in eating.  And I really love meat. And the whole idea that you can hurt plants and so people are not wanting to eat them is ridiculous to me (what are those people going to eat??) I know that is a really extreme example, but anyway, those are my reasons for avoiding going green.

I guess my turn to greener things really started after I had my daughter, and my best friend Sam came out to visit and when she went to the local grocery store for me, she bought some of their reusable bags. After she went home, I took them to the grocery store - why not, since I had them? Turns out they are a lot easier to use than plastic or paper bags. So I bought a whole bunch more from the commissary. And now I use those. I do on occasion purposefully not bring them and get plastic bags, because we reuse the plastic bags for trash bags for the bathrooms and to clean out the litter box. So when I run low, I do that. I'm reusing. :) (I was being green and I didn't even know it! I thought I was just being practical.)

Another best friend, Nikki, is crazy about green cleaning and she does a lot of really neat stuff, but I never got really into that - except for cloth diapering. Her enthusiasm for cloth diapering is very contagious. Now that I am researching a bit more into greener living, I can see why Nikki is so into it. It can be really cost effective to go green, and really healthy for you and your family. I have avoided some cleaners because the chemicals are so strong they literally make me physically sick. Using baking soda would really help eliminate that problem. I have known you can use vinegar to clean things, but now I know how to use vinegar to clean things. I also really liked how the authors gave you examples of how to clean with baking soda, vinegar, lemons and limes in addition to listing a few "green" cleaning commercial products. I think that shows that their agenda is not about endorsing some product, but about getting people to see how easy it is to go green. And how good for you it is.

I really liked that they strongly endorsed giving things that you don't use or want anymore to charities so that other people who are less fortunate can benefit from them instead of just throwing things away. My view on giving things away (as opposed to selling them) is that if I have been blessed enough to have in abundance, than I should pass that blessing on to others.

As for the food part, I love that they provide resources to find local cooperative farming groups, where you can buy local produce. Although I wonder how much exactly you can grow in the desert . . . I guess I'll find out. I already try not to buy box-dinner products like Hamburger Helper (that wasn't mentioned at all - this is a rabbit trail) because they are so bad for you - just loaded with sodium and fat. So I guess I have a head start on making things from scratch. I never really thought about where the products came from though. After reading an article recently on China's changing business policies in the EU Times though, I really had a strong desire to buy as much as I can from the US and US made things, and stay away from foreign made products. After reading this book, I can see where that could include foods - even produce that is shipped in, such as from South America (we get a lot of produce from Chili at the commissary here).

The China article talks about how China's government restrictions are making it extremely difficult for any foreign products to be made or make it into their country for purchase (basically they're not breaking any rules, they're just upping the standards so high that the norms of every other country make the product sub-standard in China, and therefore not an option for manufacturing or buying - they're skirting the rules and talking around them). After reading that, I thought to myself - maybe if China won't let the US or other countries have competitive business in their country, costing our country millions of dollars or more, than maybe we should just boycott Chinese made products. And then I thought about our economy isn't really the best and as an American citizen that loves her country, I should do my best to only buy American made and American produced products to support the economy in my country. When the economy is doing really well here, then maybe I can think about buying a foreign made product again.

I realize that buying American made only may not be possible in everything and it's really going to require some sacrifice. But that's what Americans should be doing right now - sacrifice for the good of their country. Only as all Americans take hold of that idea will our country really start to improve and become the country it used to be.

And I think this could include not doing business with companies that out-source jobs. After all, those companies took jobs from Americans and gave them to people overseas. Those people overseas are benefiting from the employment, from the money being poured into their economy, from the money made from those jobs being spent in that country, not ours, and so on. The trickle down effect from job outsourcing can easily be exponential.

I also realize that finding American made products may require a bit of research. Which cars are manufactured in the US? Which clothing lines are manufactured in the US? I think buying clothes at Target will be out - I don't think I have ever seen a made-in-America label on an article of clothing inside Target. If you have, please leave a comment and correct me. :)

I think that green living and being a patriotic American go hand in hand. If you really wanted to get technical about gas-emissions and all that - America probably has a lot higher standards than say a country like Indonesia (where a lot of clothing is made), or even China (where it seems everything is made).

What do you think? Do you think we should boycott China and their products? How do you feel about buying local produce? Do you think American should get on board with buying American-made products only to help out our economy?

Baby Update

I had an appointment this morning with my midwife and an ultrasound today. Kind of made for a long day. It's amazing what constitutes a long day when you've been on bed rest . . .

Appointment with my midwife went well. Daphne was in a transverse breech position, so we talked about what happens if she is still breech when I go into labor. The midwife that is there will try to move her around in my belly (from the outside) and try to get her to be head down. Then if she stays head down, labor and delivery continues as usual. However, if she won't turn or she won't stay head down (like if they can get her head down, but then she just flips right back to feet down or transverse) then I have to have a C-section. However, there is still a lot of time for her turn; she can even turn at the last minute (last minute being while I'm in labor).

Her heart rate was good, at 140 bpm. Nice and strong.

I have dyspnea of pregnancy, which basically means that I have a hard time getting enough air sometimes because Daphne and my uterus are really cramping my lungs. Like I have to take several deep breaths and really think about breathing or I'll take a deep breath and it feels like I didn't get enough air. So if I can't catch my breath at all, or get really clammy and can't catch my breath, then I have to go to OB Triage.

My blood pressure was really low -90/40. The medical assistant actually took it twice, once with the machine and once manually, just to make sure that was really how low it was. And because I've been having dizzy spells and almost passed out once and have been having headaches, I have to cut back on the Nifedipine. So now I'll take it every 8 hours instead of every 6. Nifedipine is actually a blood pressure medicine, but it works by relaxing smooth muscle, and the uterus is a smooth muscle. So that why they give it to moms who are having early contractions. It's supposed to calm the uterus down.

The problem with cutting back on the Nifedipine is that I have been having "breakthrough" contractions - 2-3 contractions an hour actually since Monday morning (it's Thursday afternoon). So . . . . my midwife said she would rather cut back on the Nifedipine than risk having me pass out or something. The low BP with symptoms is a big issue. So if my contractions get to 4 or more an hour or worsen in pain, etc, I have to go to OB Triage. Hopefully I won't have to cut back on the Nifedipine anymore. And if I can't take the Nifedipine, and I go into labor, then I go into labor. Either way it isn't a good situation.

At the ultrasound today Daphne had actually moved to head down! Yay! Hopefully she'll stay that way. She got all of her points and is looking really good. My amniotic fluid was back up to above normal - it had gone down to within normal limits on Monday. Oh well . . . they said it can fluctuate based on how the baby is positioned, etc. And Daphne has lots and lots of hair! :) (I wonder if it's all the spicy food I've been craving . . . and eating. . .  ) And, as usual, she was hiding her face and wouldn't let us see her precious face. Usually she has her face buried in the placenta, but today she was turned to the back and she had her arm up over her face with her hand on her forehead. She was moving her fingers too, like she was making a little fist and then opening her hand and stuff. Very cute. :)

So that's all the news from today! Praise the Lord I'm still pregnant and Daphne is looking really good! :)

22 June 2011

Bed Rest Chronicles #3

It's been really interesting being on bed rest, I do have to say. I'm trying to stay positive and keep myself busy with the computer and a huge pile of books on my night stand. (I think it's procreating during the night.)

Sometimes I just have down moments - who wouldn't when you're stuck in bed for so long? Including when I was in the hospital, it's been 2 days shy of 2 weeks of being on bed rest. I think I'm secretly hoping I'll have Daphne at 37 weeks - she'll be full term, and it's only 4 more weeks and two days.

I try not to think about all the summer plans that I had to cancel - plans with friends and plans for myself and the kids. I was going to get them a little kittie pool and put it under the gazebo (I was also going to do this last year and was laid up for a different reason); I was really looking forward to going swimming in an actual adult pool and buying little floats for the kids; I was looking forward to spending time out in my garden and watching it grow; I was looking forward to all the PWOC get togethers this summer, like going to the zoo and the pool party. I was looking forward to helping out in the nursery at VBS at the chapel. I was looking forward to having a Bible study with two or three or four good friends here. I was looking forward to getting the house ready for Daphne and getting all of her stuff set up and clothes put away and just getting ready in general for her. I was looking forward to going to South Dakota to visit Ruth and Paul and hopefully see Pam and her family as well. I was looking forward to meeting friends at the park and hanging out. I was looking forward to using our newly purchased zoo/aquarium/botanical gardens pass at least once a week. I was just looking forward to summer in general.

All that had to go away. Blah. I have a feeling I'll be too tired after I have Daphne to do a lot of that stuff - the first four weeks are always the roughest - getting back into the routine of waking up every 2-3 hours and walking around in some kind of daze from sleep deprivation.

I have been researching a lot of cooking recipes and checking out recipes on new blogs and I think I must be trying to torture myself in some way. All these great looking recipes and foods and I can't make any of them right now. So I copy them to my computer and store them away until I can get back into the kitchen . . . I really do miss cooking. I even miss doing laundry! I must be really desperate to get back into the routine of things. And of course I miss doing things with my children and spending a lot of time with them. It's weird in a way to hear them downstairs playing or laughing or eating or crying or running around and not being down there with them. That's really hard. I do see them during the day here and there, but just for a few minutes at a time - it just isn't the same.

So now I'm trying to look forward to things in the fall - PWOC will be starting back up in late August (yay!), Chapel Fellowship nights will be starting back up, and there's the Balloon Fiesta in October, and I'm hoping to be able to go to Women of Faith with a good friend (of course I'll bring Daphne with me). And of course, Daphne will be here by the fall! Yay!  And maybe after Daphne is 2 months old or so, I might venture out with all three kids to the zoo or the aquarium or the botanical gardens. We'll see. :)

Other than that, not much else is going on. I've been having about 3 contractions an hour every day since Monday or Tuesday - I can't really remember which, the days do kind of tend to run together, which is really weird. Not enough to go to OB Triage (I'd have to have 4 an hour), but they've been really consistent. We'll see what my midwife says tomorrow.

Daphne is pretty active. The last two nights she's been kicking me very vigorously and rather hard on my pelvic floor/bladder/cervix, which is really uncomfortable, occasionally painful and definitely makes it hard to get to sleep. It also means she's still breech. But she's got lots of time to turn.

I did have an ultrasound on Monday, and Daphne got all her points. And best of all my amniotic fluid was back down to normal levels! Yay! That is a big relief and a huge answer to prayer! :)

I miss hanging out with my friends and talking. A friend did come over last night so that Mike could go to the Isotopes ball game with the community group, and I think I talked her ear off. That's something that you don't know you miss until you start talking to someone and you find that you just can't stop talking . . . and poor Mike, he's trying to get to sleep at night and I'm just chattering away . . .

Mike seems to be doing better with handling everything. I know it takes some adjustment to go from not being around kids 24/7 to taking care of them (solely) for 24/7, plus taking care of everything in the house and having to learn how to cook on occasion to boot. Thankfully we've had lots of people bringing meals, which has been a huge blessing. Poor Mike is just so lost in the kitchen . . .

It's been really hard not being intimate with Mike. I mean he's right there, and we can't do anything. That really sucks. And it's going to be another 3 or 4 months. ::SIGH:: It's been really hard on him too.

I think that's all I'm going to write for now; I kind of feel like this post is a bit of a downer . . . ce la vie . . .

20 June 2011

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

I came across the blog Premeditated Leftovers today and I have to say that I am very intrigued with this blog. I have already gotten a few recipes off the site, as well as useful things for food from the garden (like how to dry herbs). (And she is a high desert gardener!! There is hope for me and my garden!)

Anyway, apparently every week, Premeditated Leftovers hosts a blog hop called Heart and Soul where you link up a made-from-scratch recipe that nourishes your family in mind, body and soul. Click on the link in this paragraph if you want to participate. :)

I decided to submit a recipe, although I'm not sure how much mind and soul nourishing it has for my family. I'm submitting my Tegan's Tacos recipe because it is a recipe I came up with when I was living on my own, experimenting in my kitchen, living on an extremely tight food budget ($75/month or less) and it was my favorite recipe to make. It was my comfort food and I loved that I had created something by experimenting with different spices, in the necessity of saving money. I loved combining the textures of the cooked tomatoes in the meat with the crisp lettuce and the softness of the refried beans. This is actually still one of my favorite recipes.

So here is the recipe (again - I know I already posted it today, but I didn't know I would be doing the blog hop):
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Tegan’s Tacos

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
One Spanish onion or ½ of yellow onion, finely chopped
Cayenne pepper
Paprika
Cumin
Garlic – I used minced garlic instead of garlic powder
Juice of 2 limes
1-2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Spinach or red leaf lettuce or green leaf lettuce
Avocado - sliced
Tortillas - warmed
Refried Beans - heated
Sour Cream
Cheese – I prefer Colby Jack

Prep:
Brown ground beef in a skillet with onion. Season with lots of paprika (probably at least 1 tablespoon), lots of cumin (probably at least 1 tablespoon), and a little cayenne pepper (about ¼-1/2 tablespoon, depending on how hot you want your tacos),  ½ tablespoon garlic and juice of half a lime. I season twice, once at the beginning, and again towards the end of browning. You should be adding enough paprika that the meat takes on a slightly red hue and enough cumin that it smells a bit mesquite.

*Measurements are guestimates since I never measure out my spices (or anything) when I cook. So feel free to experiment until you make it perfect for you. :)

Once the hamburger is browned, drain any excess grease. Return to pan on medium-low heat. Add chopped tomatoes and juice of ½ lime. If you’re feeling in a very zesty mood, add the juice of another lime. When tomatoes have cooked down a bit, but are still a little meaty, remove from hamburger from heat.

Taco layering Tegan style:
I prefer to layer my tacos so that they are easy to hold and stuff doesn’t fall out. This is how I do it:
Spoon sour cream onto tortilla and spread around to cover surface.
Add a spoonful of refried beans and spread to cover surface.
Add a layer of spinach or one leaf of red or green leafed lettuce.
Add a thin layer of meat down the middle.
Add avocado as desired.
Sprinkle with cheese.

I prefer to heat in the microwave about 10-15 seconds – enough to steam everything and melt the cheese slightly. Roll or fold, eat and enjoy!  :)


China begins shutting US businesses out of country

China begins shutting US businesses out of country

Recipe: Tegan's Tacos


This is my very own taco recipe that I came up with back in my super-poor single days. I don't use a seasoning packet, instead opting for free-handing various spices. You can also serve over tortilla chips instead of using tortillas (that's how my husband prefers it). Enjoy! :)

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
One Spanish onion or ½ of yellow onion, finely chopped
One jalepeno (optional) - seeded and finely chopped
Cayenne pepper
Paprika
Cumin
Garlic – I used minced garlic instead of garlic powder
Juice of 2 limes
1-2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Spinach or red leaf lettuce or green leaf lettuce
Avocado - sliced
Tortillas - warmed
Refried Beans - heated
Sour Cream
Cheese – I prefer Colby Jack

Prep:
Brown ground beef in a skillet with onion. Season with lots of paprika (probably at least 1 tablespoon), lots of cumin (probably at least 1 tablespoon), and a little cayenne pepper (about ¼-1/2 tablespoon, depending on how hot you want your tacos),  ½ tablespoon garlic and juice of half a lime. I season twice, once at the beginning, and again towards the end of browning. You should be adding enough paprika that the meat takes on a slightly red hue and enough cumin that it smells a bit mesquite. You can also add in some chili powder - a dash or three, if you desire.

Once the hamburger is browned, drain any excess grease. Return to pan on medium-low heat. Add chopped tomatoes and juice of ½ lime. If you’re feeling in a very zesty mood, add the juice of another lime. When tomatoes have cooked down a bit, but are still a little meaty, remove from hamburger from heat.

Taco layering Tegan style:
I prefer to layer my tacos so that they are easy to hold and stuff doesn’t fall out. This is how I do it:
Spoon sour cream onto tortilla and spread around to cover surface.
Add a spoonful of refried beans and spread to cover surface.
Add a layer of spinach or one leaf of red or green leafed lettuce.
Add a thin layer of meat down the middle.
Add avocado as desired.
Sprinkle with cheese.

I prefer to heat in the microwave about 10-15 seconds – enough to steam everything and melt the cheese slightly. Roll or fold, eat and enjoy!  :)

One year ago

One year ago we were on our way to Albuquerque, New Mexico from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, moving to our new home for the next few years.

One year ago the car broke down in Tucumcari, New Mexico. (Thank God it broke down there and not in the middle of the desert, miles from anything!) The temperature was over 100* and I remember the ground was so hot that my feet burned through my flip flops. Welcome to the desert! Mike's new supervisor, Wes, drove the three hours out there to pick us up and drive us the rest of the way into Albuquerque. Mike and I were blown away that he would do that - and he has been an amazing supervisor (with an amazing wife) ever since. The car stayed in Tucumcari for a few days to get repaired.

One year ago an amazing couple who owned Hotel Safari in Tucumcari let us stay in one of their air conditioned rooms for free for three hours while we waited for Wes to arrive. Their hospitality, kindness and generosity is not forgotten.

One year ago we arrived at the Marriott Courtyard Residence Inn at dusk, to our new home for the next three weeks, on the 4th floor. Except for the filthy carpet (it looked clean, but after walking on it, your feet would be black), it was pretty nice - two bedrooms, a kitchen and a little living room. We had a view of the mountains from our bedroom, and also from the living room and kitchen windows. They also had breakfast every morning, which was a plus. I got a lot of comments taking Sophie down in the stroller while I wore Edward, or visa versa.

One year ago we transitioned to a new chapter in our lives, closing the chapter at Tinker Air Force Base, and opening the chapter at Kirtland Air Force Base. We moved with a 14 month old, a 3 month old, and two cats. And no, the 3 month old was not sleeping through the night. I think he was still doing two feedings a night at this time . . .

One year ago, I tried to picture how my life would be at this time, a year later. I had no idea it would be how it is now! It's funny how as much as you can think and plan about the future, sometimes it just doesn't turn out how you expect at all. Sometimes it's better, sometimes it's not, sometimes it's just something that you never could have imagined.

One year ago I left behind my friends in Oklahoma and wondered about the new friends I would find and meet here in Albuquerque. I have made some amazing friends here, and I so thankful to the Lord that He answered that prayer and provided that.

One year ago I set out on an adventure with my wonderful husband, with a lot of prayer requests, and what I hoped was a good amount of courage and a positive attitude. The Lord answered so many prayers - little ones like having the "perfect" house for us (which He answered - I love that I have a view of the mountains from the kitchen window and dining room doors - some houses don't have that view), to the big prayer requests - we arrived safely, Mike's transition went really smoothly and the Lord has provided wonderful friends and an amazing church family, both at DSC and at the chapel on base.

And so the adventure continues - life in Albuquerque with my growing family. I had a very strong sense when we moved here that the Lord would complete our family before we left. I just didn't think He would complete it so soon! (Have I mentioned how my plans don't really ever work out the way I think they will??)

And I will close with a few pics from a year ago . . .

Goodbye Oklahoma . . . so green, so green . . .

Stopping somewhere in Texas at a creepy abandoned gas stationed to feed Edward. Jack was enjoying the view. I think he sat next to Mike in the front seat almost the whole time.

Hello Texas panhandle . . . lots of farmland, lots of flatness, except the canyons around Amarillo . . .

Welcome to New Mexico!

Never a good sight . . . At least we were practically at an exit in Tucumcari.

Hello giant mesas of New Mexico. And hello desert. Oh yes, can't forget the desert.

More New Mexico desert.

Edward (3 mo) and Sophie (15 mo) at the hotel.

Sophie is getting ready to go for a swim with Daddy at the hotel's pool.

Edward is getting ready for a swim too. He never made it to the pool though - he fell asleep before we got down there, so he slept while we swam.

Sophie in her little booster chair - having a booster chair was definitely a lifesaver! It kept her contained while eating and she had her own little "table" to eat on. We also used disposable bibs to cut down on laundry/stuff to pack.

Missy being her usual, funny self in the hotel. She opened that drawer all on her own!

Missy and Jack handled the move remarkably well - much better than I expected. Our kitties were real military troopers. We miss them both so much.

19 June 2011

Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

When one hears "Auschwitz", one probably conjures up thoughts like "death camp", "Nazi's", "World War II", "Jews", "Germans" and so on. At least, for me, that is what would come to mind. It is hard to believe that anyone could survive the ordered and orderly hell of life in a place like that, where death was the common denominator and life had no value; people were just numbers to mark off a list, to dispose of. What would not normally come to mind for me is "fortitude and endurance of the human spirit" or "survival". After reading "Survival in Auschwitz", originally published as "If This Is A Man", by Primo Levi is the autobiographical story of Levi's survival for ten months in Auschwitz in Nazi Germany, starting in February 1944.

Levi, an Italian Jew arrested for being part of the Resistance Movement, chronicles his time as a Haftling, a prisoner, with a tattoo as his new identity, at Monwitz, a work-camp near Auschwitz. He spares no detail, from the train ride, to the showering, to the confusion, the uncertainty, the fear, the work, the food or lack thereof, the treatment, the attitudes of the prisoners to each other. Indeed Jews were not the only prisoners there; there were also English POW's, German political prisoners, Poles, Slavs, French, Germans - and not all Jewish. It is hard to believe that anyone could survive in the conditions that he did - but survive some did. And even thrive, if you could call it that. Some of the prisoners, once they got their bearings, worked a system of swindling, conning and the like to get an extra ration of bread or mostly watery soup. Bread, the tiny bit they got, was a precious commodity, and some prisoners had the discipline to eat only a bite here or there and save the rest for later. Levi demonstrates the power of the human spirit to endure, and overcome, such obstacles of physical, psychological and spiritual torment; to adapt to your surrounding and do whatever you have to in order to survive.

And in all that, it is also a testament to what happened - the genocide of millions of people, at the hands of those who considered themselves to be superior. Of the six hundred and fifty men that came to Auschwitz with Levi, less than twenty emerged from the prison work-camp alive. Levi's description of death and how death came to be, be it at the beginning when women, children and elderly immediately going to the crematoriums, or later by random selection to thin numbers, or by the many diseases present in the camp, or by starvation or exposure - it opened my eyes to how evil humans can actually get. This really happened, it wasn't made up. I can only hope that people have learned from history so that this will not be repeated.

I would recommend "Survival in Auschwitz" to anyone over the age of 13 or so. His story, and others stories' like his, need to be heard by everyone, so we can learn from the past and history will not repeat itself. The story does end when the camp is liberated, and you don't learn in this book what happens to Levi afterwards or if he gets home or not. There is a sequel, called "The Reawakening", which I hope to read soon, which is what happens after liberation.

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, be they biological or foster or adoptive!

I am so thankful for what a wonderful, amazing Dad Mike has been to our children. He is so involved in their everyday lives, from interacting with them at the dinner table, to helping take care of them, to playing with them every day and reading stories to them. And more than that, I know he has a heart for the Lord, and for teaching our children about the Lord. I know that our children will never look back and say that their Dad didn't do stuff with them or wasn't involved in their lives. I find that to be a wonderful blessing and I am so thankful for the desire that Mike has to be such a huge part of their lives.

I am also thankful to my Dad, who has been such a wonderful encouragement, especially these past few months, and has been so supportive, especially in prayer.My Dad also has a heart for the Lord and it shows through his prayer life for my family. My Dad and I have not always gotten along - in fact we had several years where we hardly spoke. I am so thankful that all has been forgiven, that our relationship has been restored and that he can be such a big part of my life now.

I am also thankful for Paul, my father in law. He has been so great and supportive of our family as well. I know the times that Ruth has come down for an extended stay have not been easy for him - to be away from his beloved wife for so long. He has such a sacrificial heart and a heart for the Lord. I am very thankful that he is apart of my life too.

I am certainly a very luck woman to have such an awesome husband who is a great dad as well as my own father being a great Dad and to have a wonderful father in law too.

A prayer of psalm for Mike, my Dad, and Paul:
Psalm 128:1-4
 1 Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
   who walk in obedience to him.
2 You will eat the fruit of your labor;
   blessings and prosperity will be yours.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
   within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
   around your table.
4 Yes, this will be the blessing
   for the man who fears the LORD.

18 June 2011

A rethink might be in order

Nursing by the Numbers.>

So I found this awesome nurses-needed stats poster over at Nursing School.org via The Adventures of a Nursing Student and I thought it had a very powerful message.

It definitely made me want to jump right back into nursing school. After the kids start school.

I really love to fill a need when I am able to, and I really see a strong need for nurses; well, I have seen a strong need for nurses for years, but the need for nurses is really going up so much.

Now don't get me wrong, I am very content in my life right now with my 2 year old and my toddler and my little one of the way. But they won't be babies and toddlers at home forever. Yes, I have thought about home schooling. But I haven't made up my mind completely on it yet. I do have my doubts, mostly in my ability to do a good job. I would, ultimately, prefer that my children went to private school, but that just isn't something we can afford. Private school homeschooling - private school would win. Homeschooling verses public school - homeschooling would win.

And if I worked as a nurse, which is an incredibly flexible job, by the way, we could afford to put the kids in private school. Just not at first.

How can I ignore the needs of the community around me when I have a desire to help others so much and when I love the sort of work that nursing is - at least what I have experienced of it working in the health care field and going to a year of nursing school. It was an incredibly hard decision for me to drop out of nursing school when I got pregnant with Sophie. It has been hard to see all my friends that I started school with (or who started school after me) graduate and become RN's and start working as nurses.

People in my life have suggested that I go back later in life, after the kids start school, or after they graduate from school. But I turned from that thought because I couldn't bear to get my hopes up of being a nurse again, and then have them dashed by circumstances again. It was too hard to turn my back on nursing the first time.

Seeing such a powerful need though cannot be completely ignored. Even if I only worked 2 days a week as a nurse, it would be helping.

So perhaps, I will keep going back to nursing school in the back of my mind and re-evaluate our life situation when Daphne is ready to start full-day school. I do know I will have to re-take a lot, if not all, of my science classes. But I'm okay with that. Refreshers are always good and they were fun classes.

And if you are reading my blog and thinking about what would be a good career for you - maybe you visit with the idea of being a nurse. The possibilities in nursing are literally endless. And it's one of those jobs where you can come home at the end of the day and feel good because you helped someone. I could go on and on, but I've gotten off of that soap box. :)

And if you are ever a patient in the hospital, be nice to your nurses and thank them. They work very hard.

17 June 2011

The Bed Rest Chronicles #2

So I have now been home since Monday afternoon - yay! and I made it to 32 weeks! Wahoo! Praise the Lord!

Life is interesting being on bed rest. I'm a lot more tired than I thought I would be. I'm trying not to take naps so that I can still sleep at night, and so far that is working, although I end up going to sleep really late and sleeping in until 0900 or 0930. Which is really weird.

I do try to spend time with the kids, having them come up and visit me in bed or getting out of bed to sit with them on the floor. It's pretty hard on my uterus to even have them sit on my lap, so I can't do that as often as I would like. :(

I pass the time by reading (I'm currently reading "Women Who Pioneered Oklahoma: Stories from the WPA Narratives", which is really interesting. It's basically a compilation of interviews with women who came to Oklahoma in the late 1800's. Some came in covered wagon, some walked (on the Trail of Tears), some came by train, some rode on horseback. There's triumph and tragedy, lots of adventure and no small amount of courage and determination.

I'm also spending time reading my Bible (our church is reading the NT in 90 days), writing, working on my blog, and gasp, watching TV on my computer. Some of you may know that I really can't stand TV, but I have discovered that there are a few good shows out there, mostly on HGTV. Some of the shows on there I can't stand because it just shows how materialistic some of the people are in our country (really, 1800 sq ft is too small for you? You  don't even have kids!) I like "The Outdoor Room" with Jamie Duran and International House Hunters. Did you know that you can buy a house for less than $150,000 in Italy?? In the country overlooking the water?? I would so love to do that! The nice thing about watching these shows online is there is very limited commercials. I like that. I happen to have the opinion that most commercials are an insult to intelligence, but anyway, we won't get into that here.

I actually made a "bed rest to do list". Yes. I did. I am very list-type person. It's all stuff I can do in bed, like read this, write that, create this spreadsheet, etc. It helps me to pass the time.

I am surprised at how hungry I get sometimes. I'm not even doing anything that would make me hungrier than usual. It's odd. I have decided I'm not going to worry about weight gain. What's the point? I"m just going to enjoy this last pregnancy and eating whatever I want, for the most part. I have actually lost weight since last week, so oh well. I attribute that to loss of muscle though (my belly is huge from all the extra fluid!). I am already feeling that loss of muscle and the resulting weakness that goes with that. I'm not doing any weight bearing activity at all, and hardly any walking, for that matter. So it is expected. I worry about how much harder it will make my postpartum recovery, but I know bed rest if the best thing right now. I guess I'll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

Overall, I haven't really felt really down. I am mostly just so excited that I'm still pregnant, that I am not home while my baby is in the NICU. I'm so thankful for that and for all the help that we have received, that that attitude of gratitude is really just propelling me along emotionally. I am so thankful for modern medicine. I am all too aware that millions of women around the world do not have access to treatment and facilities such as we have here, and the result is death. Though I do not know these women, nor have ever seen them, my heart goes out to them.

I read a very comforting passage today in Matthew though: "See to it that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in Heaven always see the face of my Father in Heaven." Matt 18:10. I was curious about this passage, if it was saying what I thought it was saying (that children have guardian angels), and my thought was confirmed. Children do have guardian angels. Psalms 91:11 talks of angels that the Lord commands to protect us. It is a comfort to know that each of my children has an angel watching over them at the command of the Lord, and that, indeed, all children have such a protector.

I have also been using this time to research various things on the internet. I joined the BlogHer community, mostly for the book club. I am hoping to be able to review books for them like I do for BookSneeze. We shall see. :) I also found a recipe for homemade finger paint on there - how cool is that? It seems that the BlogHer community is mostly a community of women bloggers with vastly different interests, joined together in one place. I like it. :)

I am also almost finished uploading all my pictures to Shutterfly. Yay! I'm looking on more recipes, working on some spreadsheets, researching future vacation destinations to take the family when the kids are older and all sorts of stuff like that. It makes feel like I"m accomplishing something.

I was really relieved that the director of Alliance Francais d'Albuquerque is letting me pick up where I left off in the next intermediate french class in the fall. I am also so thankful for that since I can't go to my french class any longer. I can still practice, practice, practice though!

So those are my bed rest thoughts for today.

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

 I haven't done a MilSpouse Friday Fill-in in a really long time - it's definitely high time I get back on this bandwagon! I always enjoyed doing it, it just seems like Fridays for the last two months or so have been really busy. So here it is: my MilSpouse Friday Fill in! :) Enjoy! If you want to participate, just head on over to WifeOfASailor!
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1.Underwear Parties, how old is too old? submitted by Wookie & Co.
Underwear parties, hmmm, if you’re talking about with your spouse – you’re never too old. J

2.What was your favorite class in high school? submitted by Adventures of M-Squared
There were so many classes that I loved! I think my all time favorite was my freshman English class with Ms. Soto. She was just awesome! We read some really great material, I loved the writing in that class and I had some awesome friends in class too! I even kept all my notes from that class, I liked it that much and got that much out of it.

3.Have you ever convinced packers/movers to pack something they aren’t supposed to for a PCS? submitted by Ground Control to Major Mom
No, I haven’t. I always afraid that if they actually packed something that wasn’t supposed to go, something terrible would happen and then we wouldn’t be able to get reimbursed for any of our stuff because something was packed that wasn’t supposed to be. Yes, I am a tad paranoid. On the bright side though, a lot of my friends benefited from getting cleaning products, paint, nail polish and other stuff for free! J

4. Blogging plays a growing roll in the media. If you were asked to embed as a blogger with a deployed military unit, would you go? What do you think your blog would be like? submitted by To the Nth
It would really depend where and for how long. I would love to say “Yes! That would awesome!” but the reality is that I have small children, so in reality, I couldn’t leave my children behind for a long time, especially if I was going somewhere dangerous. What would they do if something happened to me? I’m their Mama. If though, I lived in an alternate reality, like I said, I would go. I think my blog would be just about the daily experiences and the sights that I see and experiences that I get. Trying to capture the whole picture from perhaps a historian point of view.
5.Do you think kids should attend year-round school? submitted by Marrying the Navy
Interesting that this is one of the questions. I was just telling Mike yesterday that I came across something that Obama wants that I actually agree with: extending the school year from 180 days to 197 days, the average length of school year in other modern countries, such as Japan and Korea. (And if I were to homeschool, I would homeschool my kids year round.) I think going to school year round is beneficial for several reasons:  going year round prepares kids for the real world – you don’t work ten months out of the year, you work year round. The idea of going to school ten months out of the year is based on an agrarian culture that is no longer a reality in our present day culture – the idea is just archaic. Kids are not needed at home to help with the harvest. Another reason: during those two or three months of break, unless the parent has their child reading every day and practicing their math and science skills, the child is going to do a lot of brain back-sliding during the summer. Then when they do return to school in the fall, they have to relearn, or catch up, on a lot of the things that they forgot during the summer. That wastes time and money. And personally, I hated having that “brain-fog” at the beginning of the school year while I was trying to get back into the swing of things. After saying all that, I think that Australia, where my Mom is a teacher, has a great system. They go to school year round, but they have four three-week breaks during the year – winter, spring, summer and fall. So the kids, and teachers, still get a break, parents can still take their family on a vacation without the kids missing school.  I really like that idea a lot. Now if I end up homeschooling, I’ll probably follow the line of school systems in other countries, and go year round with breaks broken up differently. Just another bonus to homeschooling. 

Trip to Santa Fe last October

I realized as I was going through my blog and organizing it, that I had never posted pictures from our trip to Santa Fe (for the first time) or the drive along the Pecos River Head in the Sangria de Cristo Mountains. We went about a week after Mike returned from my long TDY and it was a beautiful October fall day.

The drive on I-25 North into Sante Fe.
Many of the shops looked a lot like this one.
 When we arrived in Santa Fe, we parked near the Plaza on a side street. The first thing I noticed as soon as I opened the door was the temperature difference. It was COLD! A lot colder than in Albuquerque; at least fifteen degrees colder. Sante Fe is about 1500 feet higher in elevation that Albuquerque is though. Santa Fe is also the highest capital city in the country, at about 7000 feet. We got the kids out and all bundled up in the double stroller. We walked around the Plaza and took pictures and walked some of the streets leading out from the plaza.  The snow on the mountains surrounding Santa Fe, even though it was only October, should have been my first clue that it was going to be colder.
Mike in the Plaza

The La Fonda hotel we were ate a delicious lunch.

A War Memorial in the middle of the Plaza.

Inside La Fonda Hotel.
 We stopped and ate a delicious New Mexican fare lunch inside the La Fonda Hotel at La Plazuela. We got some really rude looks from the hostess and some customers when they saw us coming in with a double stroller. The kids were really great though and other than lots of silverware clattering to the floor, they were pretty quiet and happy. It really bothers me when people judge you as soon as they see you have little children. If we don't take our children out to restaurants, how are they supposed to learn how to behave at them? Furthermore, we are paying customers and our money is just as good as that of everyone else. It did not leave a good impression of Santa Fe on me, that is for sure.
Mike and Edward, who was 7 months old at the time.

Inside the La Fonda Hotel.

The tiles in the bathroom - the picture really doesn't do them justice at all.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The Catholics definitely know how to build a house of worship!
 The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is just down the street from the Plaza, so we walked over there. It was really gorgeous, the pictures absolutely do not do it justice at all. St. Francis of Assisi was the founder of the Franciscan Order.
I believe this is one of the many art museums in and near the Plaza.

Inside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

In the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi


One of the front doors of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi - again the picture does not do it justice at all. And the doors were super heavy too.

Edward was just chillin' in the stroller.

This a Monastery on the way to Pecos. I have found it extremely interesting that there are inhabited, running and working monasteries and nunneries in New Mexico. I really hope to visit one before we leave.

Mike and I really want to take advantage of all the places that we will live, now and in the future, by going on exploration days and that kind of thing. So this was our first real chance to do that. We picked Santa Fe, because it's only about an hour to the north and the Pecos River scenic river drive because it was only 19 miles total. For some reason, I thought because it was only 19 miles, it wouldn't take us very long. I learned a very important lesson: scenic drive does not equal going the same speed as on the highway. It took us about two hours to drive that 19 miles; the drive followed the Pecos River up into the mountains and the average speed was about 20 miles per hour. Because I get vertigo and nauseous when driving in the mountains (which is why I don't drive on trips like this), we went about 10 mph for some of it. Mike was very kind and whenever I would grab the door and say "Please slow down!", he did. We were already only doing 20-25, but he would slow down to 10-15. Luckily the only traffic on this mostly one and a half lane road was locals, which were very few. The drive ranged from following the river at the base of the mountain, driving right next to it, to driving almost at the top of the mountain, looking straight down the canyon as the river wound it's way through. And it was a there and back drive. The road ended about nine miles up, so we just turned around and drove back. Another reason there was hardly any traffic.

The following are some pictures from our drive. Unfortunately, we were there a week after the peak foliage of the season, but there were a few trees that were still clothed in their brilliant colors of the season.










We got out to take pictures and stretch our legs when we reached the end of the road. It was even colder than it was in Santa Fe! Of course, we were probably 8-9000 feet up . ..



We also got out at a little general store and riding stable to let the kids stretch their legs. They actually slept most of the way before this.
This scenic drive is actually one of my 101 in 1001 things - so I can check that one off the list! :)