Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Speed of Summer - Making it Slow Down with Summer Cravings

Is it really the second half of July??? Teresa is now ten months old! I feel like it was just a few days ago that I wrote she was nine months old.

Isn't summer whizzing by at record speed? I have a bittersweet relationship with the second half of summer. While I enjoy it so much, I am simultaneously sad that it is passing so quickly. It is an annual joke between Jason and I that once our Forth of July trip to Lake Chelan is over, we can begin planning for Christmas. It really does feel like that each year.

At this point in the summer, it becomes more difficult to relax for reasons twofold. As I'm sure you've noticed, in every store you walk into, school supplies are on display for the "Back to School" sales. I realize this is simply marketing, but it bugs me so much.

These displays remind me of the cornucopia of organizational projects and lesson planning I would like to complete before the new school year begins. I have made a good dent, but the reality is that I will never complete everything before September. I had been making good progress, but that has been put on hold as I prepare our family for a 10 day camping trip that we will be taking soon. This is our longest camping trip yet and it takes quite a bit of organization. The necessary preparations for September are complete, but there is always more that I want to do.

Summer Rolling By
Secondly, the site of the in-my-face, mocking school supplies just stresses me out and makes me panic--Hurry up! Have fun! Enjoy the summer NOW, because it's almost over. It's slipping away. This summer and your children's childhoods are slipping away! Make some happy childhood memories for them NOW! Everyone have fun NOW, damn it!

For some reason, that thought process doesn't really foster relaxation and fun.

The boys and I have been spending many evenings in our back yard after dinner, reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. What a delight! Last week we took them spontaneously to get a fro-yo and then we all played tag at the park.

I crave more times like these. I want to roll in the grass with my kids, find constellations, feel the lake's water up to our ankles, our knees, our waists, our chests, our necks and whoops! - slip underwater and swim and splash and scream with delight. I want to fly a kite and watch the boisterous clouds change shape before our eyes and blow fluffy dandelion seeds all over and not care about the future dandelions sure to crop up later. I want to snuggle around the campfire, sing songs, tell stories and get our hands sticky with chocolate and warm marshmallows. I want to go play on the swings with them and pump and pump and pump our legs until we reach the sky and the swings jump a little as we make our way down, causing my stomach to turn.

I want to hold them and squeeze them and take them in and love them and smother them with kisses and hugs!

Thankfully, our camping trip will give us a lot of opportunity to live out this sentiment. It is a lot of work to prepare for and a lot of work to set up. But once we're there, life slows down. We share the meal preparation and dishes with the friends and family who will be with us. So most of our time is filled with going on small hikes, fishing, enjoying the beach, swimming, boating, reading, playing games and sitting around the campfire.

It's the perfect pleasure to satisfy my cravings.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with Sauteed Vegetables and Feta (S or Fuel Pull Meal)

Mmmmmmm . . .

I am writing this as I enjoy this delightful lunch so that I don't forget what I did. It is SOOO good! The protein in the meal is provided with the cottage cheese. I enjoyed this as an S meal, but with a few very minor modifications, it could easily be a Fuel Pull meal.


Makes 2 Servings

Spaghetti Squash (You will only use half in this recipe.)
3 T Butter
2-3 Garlic Cloves, Pressed
8 Button Mushrooms, Sliced
1/2 Tomato
1/2 - 1 C Cottage Cheese
1 Cup Spinach Leaves, Chopped
Chopped Green Onions, to taste
Chopped Fresh Basil, to taste
Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt and Pepper (All of that spaghetti squash will need a lot of seasoning. Don't be skimpy with the sea salt!)
Crumbled Feta

First, cut your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and pierce the flesh with a knife several times. Lay the halves down on a greased baking sheet with the inside lying down. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your squash.

You will know when it is done when you can easily pierce the squash with a fork or knife. Once it is done, take it out and turn the squash halves over to cool. After about five minutes, fluff the "noodles" up with a fork. You will only need one half for this recipe, so save the other for another meal. Or you might just want to make this again!

Melt the butter on medium in a skillet. Add the pressed garlic. Add the mushrooms. Let them saute for a few minutes. Once they turn a little golden, add the chopped tomato and mix it in. Let everything cook a little until the tomato juice has steamed off.

Stir in the cottage cheese, spinach, green onions and basil. Warm through, but not too much or the spinach will wilt too much. Splash on a little balsamic vinegar. Season well with sea salt and pepper.

Mix in one of the cooked spaghetti squash halves. Season again with sea salt and pepper.

Serve on a plate with crumbled feta on top. YUM!

The butter makes this an S meal. I love mushrooms sauteed in butter :) Also, my cottage cheese wasn't nonfat. But, you can saute the garlic and mushrooms in a little low-fat chicken stock, use nonfat cottage cheese and nonfat feta and you've got a Fuel Pull.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My New Favorite Prayer - The Anima Christi (with a free printable)

This year's Vacation Bible School was wonderful for many reasons. The children seemed to really enjoy it and all of the feedback I have received from parents has been nothing but positive. How wonderful to see our children making rosaries and asking to pray them at night! How wonderful to hear them sing the Magnificat; the Song of Mary from Luke's Gospel! How wonderful to see them making friendships within our faith community!
Veronica at the front of the Church, ready to lead VBS camp songs.
I also had the opportunity to spend the week with my co-director as she anticipates a new baby girl later this month. What a special, exciting time to share with her!

I also love Vacation Bible School because inevitably I learn more about my faith. This year, I would take Teresa in each day to nurse in the Youth Room at Christ the King. As I sat there feeding my babe, I would read the prayers that were posted all over the walls of the room. In doing so, I have discovered my new favorite prayer: The Anima Christi.

As the youth of Christ the King are obviously familiar with this prayer, I am a little embarrassed to say that I had never heard it. But that is something that I absolutely love and cherish about our Catholic faith--its richness and depth. Even the most scholarly Catholics cannot learn everything there is to know about our faith. We are born into a tradition on the shoulders of theologians and saints from the past two thousand years. We cannot possibly ever grasp all of the wisdom there is to be gained from their words and experiences.

Furthermore, as a people, we continue to study, reflect and pray about God's Word, the lives of the saints and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, if we continue to reach out, if we continue to yearn to know the Lord in a deeper way, we are so blessed in that we can delve deeper and further into our faith, into God's Word and into prayer. 

Thus, our relationship with Jesus is never stagnant! It can continue to grow, to mature, to deepen and to nourish our needs throughout the changes of our life. But we have to yearn for that and seek it out.

As Father Brad has told us, "The Holy Spirit tends to go where it is wanted."

As I read this prayer for the first time, I felt as though I had written it myself. I don't say that to imply that I could ever write such a beautiful prayer, but only because I could relate to it on such a deep, spiritual way that I felt as though I had written it myself.

Just in trying to learn more about the Anima Christi, I have found that there is much to know. So far, I have found three English versions, while the original medieval version was of course written in Latin.

Furthermore, over at Catholic Sistas, there is a series of posts featuring beautiful line-by-line reflections on the Anima Christi. I haven't read them all yet, but what I have read so far has been very inspiring.

Anyway, I have created a free printable of the prayer to share with you in case you want to learn it too. I hope you are inspired by its beautiful words as I am.

(Click the above link to download the prayer so that you can print it easily.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ham, Olive and Parmesan Zucchini Boats - A Trim Healthy Mama S Recipe

This post contains affiliate links. More information is available at the end of the post.

I have shared about my weight loss journey as a mom of four children and  about my discovery of Trim Healthy Mama as a wonderful resource to help me along that journey.

Here is a recipe I made up for lunch one day that turned out fantastic. I will definitely be making it again. It is an S Meal. So satisfying!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice a zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides with a spoon or mellonballer if you have one. Season the two scooped out halves with salt and pepper.

Chop up the insides of the zucchini into small pieces and place in a bowl. Add a little cottage cheese, freshly grated parmesan cheese, one clove of pressed garlic, two slices of black forest ham diced into small pieces, about 5-6 olives chopped, some sliced green onions and some chopped fresh rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Fill the zucchini boats with the mixture. They will be overflowing a bit, but just do your best to press it all in there.

Place the zucchini boats onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle the top with paprika. Bake in the 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes before enjoying. Voila! A delicious, savory S Meal. Enjoy!

In the interest of full disclosure, some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I believe in and personally use. Your purchases through these links help support Mamma Vintage. Thank you for your support!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Making the Best of It

It goes without saying that sometimes life does not follow your plans. We've all heard the joke . . .
Do you know how to make God laugh?
Tell Him your plans.

A Family Sick on Vacation

We always spend a week around the 4th of July at Lake Chelan with my family. We have done so for over 20 years now. This year, I was so excited and nostalgic about our trip that I ended up writing a poem on the drive there that I shared in this post.

The week leading up to our trip, I was pretty sick with a nasty cold. I had a nasty cough and went to the doctor to make sure that my crusty eyes were just a symptom of my cold and not bacterial pink eye (the really contagious kind). The doctor confirmed that my irritated eyes were just part of the cold virus and prescribed me an inhaler for my cough, as I can get asthmatic with a bad cough.

Well, a couple of days into our trip, Noah came down with the cold, a terrible cough and a fever. One by one, the little darlins dropped like flies, hacking away and miserable with fevers. Teresa caught it, but luckily never had a fever. Today, three weeks after getting sick, I still have a cough in the morning and at night and so do the kids.

While we were on vacation, we all slept in the same room, sounding like we belonged in a hospital room with all of our coughing. No one slept well the entire trip. A couple of nights, Noah and Veronica were moaning and talking in their sleep, as their fevers spiked to a little over 103 degrees. Veronica came and slept in our bed (something she hasn't done since she was about two weeks old!), cuddling with us, hugging us, and telling us that she loved us and that we are beautiful.

Even my five month old nephew, Connor, caught the bug and got sick. Thankfully, he didn't seem to have it as bad and his fever didn't last nearly as long. Noah had a fever each night for almost a week! We took him to the doctor the day we got home and found out he had viral bronchitis. However, the fever passed the next day, thank goodness.

The kids spent most of the week in our room, in bed, watching movies on Netflix. They wanted to go play and participate in the vacation fun and were so frustrated that they couldn't. We did all that we could to keep them happy. But it was disappointing for all of us.

Making the Best of It

I thought about going home. I asked a couple of people and they said we should stay, so we did. I'm sure that Jason and I had more fun than the kids, as we were able to participate with the group most of the time. But of course, there was a lot we had hoped to do that we couldn't.

It's frustrating when life throws you a curve ball. Of course, I realize this was a very small curve ball. But even still, it stunk.

I did my best to remain cheerful and enjoy the vacation. What else could I do? I finished reading a book and began a new one. I swam in the lake. I drank wine and margaritas. I went tubing behind my dad's boat with my sister-in-law. I water skied. I called Jenny and vented about my disappointment. Many of us had a water fight. I took a lot of medicine and so did the kids. I did all I could for my kids and gave them many popsicles in bed.
A new Chelan memory - popsicles in bed!
And on the last day of our trip, it seemed like everyone was mostly better (although Noah did get another fever that evening), so we tried to make the most of the day by going to the pool before breakfast, going to the beach and then out on the boat in the afternoon.

Hopefully, we won't be sick on another vacation in a really long time.

And when things don't go our way, hopefully we can keep our chins up and make the best of it. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Theme Thursday - Bright!

Over at Clan Donaldson, they are hosting Theme Thursday and today's theme is . . . .


Make sure to head on over there, and check out the other photos featured at Bright!

This very bright photo was taken when I let Veronica play with my makeup for the first time last month. Boy, does she have some skill. It took a lot of time and makeup remover to get all of that off! If you are looking for a very dramatic (and clownish) makeup artist, she's your girl!

Goal Setting

I recently bought some materials to help me plan upcoming school years. I recently read a blog post by Sarah Mackenzie at Amongst Lovely Things: Rigor, Diligence and What We're Setting Out to Do.

It was SO inspiring and really struck a cord with me. Sarah explains the differences between a restful school year and an easy school year, between a rigorous education and a diligent education; differences that I had never really though about.

She also led me to many other resources, including Pam Barnhill at Everyday Snapshots and her ebook, Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace (only $7.99!).

So far, I am really loving Pam's book. It is helping me to organize our school year in a more formal way, such as writing a mission statement for our homeschool, which I have always wanted to do. It has also helped me use that mission statement to begin writing goals for Joshua and Noah that are connected to our mission.

Below, I share what I have filled out so far on the Goal Worksheets from Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace.

These worksheets are going to help me so much. I will be able to refer to them throughout the year to see if we are staying on track. Also, I will be able to look back on them at the end of the year and see if my goal setting was realistic or if we tried to take on too much, helping me to set even better goals for the next school year. Thank you, Pam!

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Mission Statement for Our Homeschool

While planning our upcoming school year, I decided I wanted to write a mission statement for our homeschool. This will help me stay focused on what our vision is and help me make decisions that will support that vision. It will help me to make priorities and manage our time based on the values set in our mission statement. Here's what I came up with . . .