Sunday, January 15, 2017

In Loving Memory Of Rock

Family Picture-2015
Our dog Rock became ill very suddenly in November and within 24 hours, we had to make the heart-wrenching decision to let him go. He was diagnosed with acute liver failure and was already showing signs of other organs shutting down. We don't know what caused this--whether he got into something we didn't know about or his body simply got sick. An ultrasound showed nothing wrong while blood tests concluded acute liver failure.

This was a difficult decision to say the least. We absolutely adored our "Little Rock" as we called him. At 70ish pounds, he was anything but little but since he was smaller than us, "Little Rock" he was!
First picture of Rock right after we brought him home. Approximately 4 months old.
We had Rock for almost 9 years. When we first brought him home, I was scared of dogs. But he was cute, we had talked about eventually getting a dog and at the time we lived in a sketchy neighborhood (cheaper rent!) so a large dog was a good thing.

At the time, Andy was going to work at oh-dark-thirty so the dog became my responsibility. I walked him, fed him, rescued him from ridiculous puppy plights, constantly washed my clothing of muddy puppy paws, tried to keep the household together with a large puppy and two toddler boys (I was caring for at the time) who simply could not coexist with one another. If in the house, Rock would chase them, stalk their loveys and eat the toys. Outside, Rock would get himself tangled up in the most amusing and complicated configurations requiring serious intervention.
Silly little puppy.
In the early days, I had many moments of tears and overwhelm. "We have to get rid of this dog!" I told Andy more than once.

But within weeks, the dog had become "my dog". Within months, we had begun to settle into a routine. Within a year, he mostly lived in the house.
Rock and Amelia-2010
Within two years, Rock had calmed down to where he didn't need constant supervision anymore. When I began caring for a young baby, we trained him to be calm around her and not touch the toys. Those few days of training reaped huge benefits as from that day forward, Rock was great with young children and would walk around the toys, never once grabbing things that weren't his or putting the little ones in danger.
Rock and Gabriel-2013
As the years moved on, I couldn't imagine our life without Rock. Somehow I had become a "dog person." I walked him nearly every day which was by far his favorite activity. He understood the words: 'walk', 'stroll', 'go', 'outside', 'treat', 'cookie', 'clean up' and probably some others too.
Rock with his beloved chenille blanket-2015
If we dropped food on the floor, we would call, "Clean up, Rock!" and he would come, head bent down looking at the floor. Even out of a dead sleep, he would come. He had an uncanny sense of cheese being removed from the refrigerator and would come at a high rate of speed and park under me at the counter hoping for a morsel. The smell of bacon cooking also lured him into the kitchen.
Bacon!
He kept us laughing-- the way he lurked around when we were eating meals together at the table...how he would put himself in "time out" and lay with his head in a corner...when he'd roll in the grass or leaves and be covered with debris and stand at the door like he expected us to let him in like that. How he inspected every.single.item that came into the house and how alert he would become if I walked into the laundry room as that's where his leash was stored. Even a plastic bag would grab his attention as I would use those to pick up his waste on our walks.
Walk + Snow= Best Day Ever!
Rock as the subject of Mommy's humor when drying him off.
Being silly trying to rub his "Gentle Leader" off; even though we used it for walks from the time he was a young puppy, he still tried to get it off every.time. We called this activity the "Guided Missile".
Rock was big and looked rather gruff but other than occasional barks at strangers and a few moments where he seemed to get protective of us or the kids, we were certain that he was convinced that we were here to protect HIM, not the other way around! However, his size kept many strangers at bay which wasn't a bad thing. Andy jokes that he protected us from tortilla chips since if one fell on the floor, Rock would leap over our feet to get to it as if his very life depended on that crunchy little chip.
Go Cubs! Last picture taken of Rock in a Cubs bandana I sewed for him. Rock passed away the morning after the Cubs won the World Series. A bittersweet day for Andy as a lifelong Cubs fan.
 
 It is ironic to note that on his first car ride with us as a puppy, I refused to sit in the backseat with him. But on what turned out to be his last car ride, I sat on the floor of the van beside him as we rushed him to the Emergency Animal Hospital in the middle of the night after he experienced a massive seizure and was completely unresponsive.
Rock loved snow! Also staring at his people...
Time and experience changes us. Rock added an extra something to our lives that we would have never thought a dog could give.  He bumbled his way into our home and then into our hearts. He wasn't a person but he was definitely a member of our family.

We miss you, Rachmaninov P., and are certain you will never be forgotten!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

First Week of 2017

Happy New Year to all of you!

While we do have a few goals we wish to accomplish in 2017, I don't feel the urge to make lots of big plans. Yesterday at church the sentence, "Don't make 2017 harder than it needs to be" was stated. This resonated deeply in my spirit on both spiritual and practical life levels and reflects some of the same things the Holy Spirit has been speaking to my heart lately.

I said, "No" to many things in 2016 and I sense that I will be doing more of that this year. My personality tends to over complicate EVERYTHING and I want to live uncomplicated this year. As a family, we want to streamline and simplify our schedules a bit more.

I'm once again participating in the Good Cheap Eats Pantry Challenge this month. Will I last for a whole month? I don't know...my goal is two weeks and then we'll see where we stand. The pantry and freezer are nice and full so I will shop there first before heading to the store. My goal is to spend only $150 this month which is half of our regular monthly grocery budget. I'll still buy milk, eggs, cheese, fresh produce and any other necessities we need.

January is a lower income month for us because of my workplace closing for two weeks over the holidays. This means that I only worked 2 weeks in December and therefore, my December paycheck (which comes in January) will be much smaller than a normal month. This isn't usually a big deal--we just look ahead and plan accordingly by tightening our spending a bit to make it through without having to dip into savings to cover regular bills. I really do like the time off over Christmas--it gives us time and freedom to travel and spend the holidays with family.

I purposely kept this week's "To Do" list much shorter than it had been and hope to make shorter lists a more permanent habit throughout this year. In addition to cooking meals, keeping the house in shape, running errands and working my part-time job, my big home projects this week are putting the Christmas decorations away and hemming a stack of pants.  I'm trying to keep it simple to create more time to just be, which sounds so nice!

Wishing you and yours His grace and peace in the coming year!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

My Healthy Goal For December

Every December, I try to make an effort to prepare more simple and nutritious meals to offset the extra candy, cookies and junk (albeit yummy junk!), we inevitably consume during the holiday season.

Recently, I've noticed some health issues that I've been having. After doing some research, I've concluded that these symptoms could very likely be due to not drinking enough water. And I will admit that I've gotten slack on drinking enough water--some days only drinking 1-2 water bottles full!

My goal for December, in addition to eating reasonably well, is to drink enough water each day. I read somewhere a long time ago that we should drink half of our weight in ounces. So if a person is 150 pounds, they would drink 75 ounces of water each day. Makes sense to me and is a great goal to work towards!

This will be a challenge....especially at work, when bathroom breaks are few and far between. Just keeping it real, folks! But I'm willing to give it a try for the whole month to see how it affects my general health and well-being!
My favorite Lifefactory water bottle!

December is here. Let's end the year on a healthy note!


Friday, October 28, 2016

McGalliard Falls




On our way home from getting apples a couple weekends ago, we made a stop in Valdese, NC at McGalliard Falls.



Andy spent several of his growing up years around that area and fondly remembers visiting McGalliard Falls. He has wanted to take me there for quite some time but for one reason and another, it never quite worked out to go until now.



It was a beautiful morning! And very quiet except for a few other visitors, including two photo shoots.





We took the short hike to the falls, sat on the rocks by the stream and just enjoyed God's beauty and the lovely fall weather!





McGalliard Falls is not a huge falls and a fairly small park but still a nice little day trip if you are close. There's a picnic area and lots of wide open spaces for the littles to explore!






Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Applesauce Week

Last week was quiet in this space as I was spending my mornings making applesauce!

We made a quick trip to the mountains the weekend before and purchased 4 bushels of apples. 

In years past, I've calculated that one bushel of apples yields approximately 13 quart of applesauce. We go through 40-50 quart in a year's time. So 4 bushels of apples= 52 quart. Seemed simple. Some years I purchase 5 bushel of apples because I also make several batches of apple butter. But we still have plenty of apple butter on the shelf so I was just planning to make applesauce this year.

Well...I got a new sauce maker this year ( Yay for birthday and Christmas money!) and it is so much more efficient, cranking out the applesauce much more quickly. Plus I don't have to core the apples; just wash, quarter and cut off any bad spots. 

I did 1 bushel of apples each morning. The first day I was pleasantly surprised to end up with 20 quart of applesauce from just 1 bushel! The next 2 bushels yielded 21 quart each. 

The applesauce with the new sauce maker is a bit finer consistency and a little thinner but I'm good with that! 

Needless to say, 3 bushels gave us 62 quart of applesauce (60 quart canned) so  we should be good to go for the next year and possibly longer than that since it keeps longer than 1 year and I still have a few jars of applesauce left from last year! 

So since the 4th bushel doesn't need to be made into applesauce to can, we've been eating apples fresh, I'll make a batch of applesauce to eat fresh plus some apple pies to freeze. I may even make a few other fun things with them! 

We thank God for His bountiful provision!

For past apple sauce making posts:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Anne Of Green Gables

Can you believe that I never liked the Anne Of Green Gables series?

I tried to read them when I was young and couldn't "get into them". Too much flowery speech and too small of print, probably.

Recently, I saw Anne Of Green Gables on my shelf and decided to give it another try.

And I am so glad I did!

The book took me over a week to read--reading a few pages each night--but held my attention from beginning to end. It was so enjoyable and the characters so relatable and loveable. And so quotable too!

And upon reading the last page, I immediately wanted to read the next book! That's the sign that I really enjoyed a book.

I need to check and make sure the library has Anne Of Avonlea...




"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. 
It would be terrible if we just skipped 
from September to November, wouldn't it?" 
--L.M Montgomery

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Clean On Tuesday

Continuing with revamping my homemaking schedule...

After determining that Monday would be my main Laundry Day, I chose to clean the house on Tuesday.

The main reason for choosing Tuesday was that I really do not care that much for cleaning. {However, I do love a house that has been cleaned. Just saying.}

There are things in life that are not our favorites but still need to be done!

I knew if I left housecleaning until Friday or Saturday, it would be more likely to not get done. I try to clean earlier in the week and then do a little more as needed toward the end. 

On Cleaning Day, I focus on very basic cleaning. I clean the bathrooms, dust, vacuum, clean kitchen surfaces, etc. My goal is to complete the basic cleaning in 2 hours or less. I don't always manage that but it is a goal. If surfaces have become cluttered, it takes longer. I try to put things away each day which helps Cleaning Day to run more smoothly.

Typically, the tasks are broken down something like this:
  • Clean bathrooms--20-30 minutes for both using this method
  • Dust--maybe 15 minutes? 
  • Vacuum all floors--this takes a good 30 minutes for hardwood floors and carpet. 
  • Clean kitchen: sinks, counters, microwave, wipe down all appliances--at least 30 minutes.
  • Windows and mirrors--as needed. I estimate about 15 minutes spent on these. 

Any deep cleaning or organizing is done in other small pockets of time throughout the week. 

Vacuuming floors and cleaning kitchen surfaces are done multiple times each week. 

I know there are some who are surprised that our house gets dirty with only two adults living in it. But it does! Someone is home almost all the time, we cook and eat most of our meals at home, we wear shoes in the house and we have a dog. In other words, we really do a lot of living in our home! 

Cleaning Day is one of my least favorite but such a great feeling to work a couple of hours and have a fresh smelling and sparkling clean house at the end! 

One thing that makes cleaning more enjoyable is using a cleaning product that smells nice! My current favorite is Mrs. Meyer's Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner in the Basil scent. This cleaner can be used for many surfaces in our home. I like that it actually works and is a cleaner I can safely use and not have respiratory problems the rest of the day. (Unlike when I use most chemical cleaners.)

Tell me about your cleaning schedule. What are your favorite cleaners to use?