Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Slow-er Week

We both started feeling ill over the weekend--unrelated ailments-- so the week has been slower in nature. Funny how not feeling well forces your body to slow down!

Andy required a trip to Urgent Care late Sunday night for some antibiotics. I already had Monday off for Martin Luther King Day so that was a relief after not getting much rest and battling a cold/flu symptoms. We rested and I made a pot of turkey and rice soup in the Instant Pot. Later in the day, I finished folding and putting laundry away then made a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. While the chicken was cooking, I washed salad greens and cut veggies. All this activity may have done me in as I started feeling worse at that point but it's a great feeling to have those foods ready to eat this week!

I woke up Tuesday morning still feeling sick but since I had already committed to substitute for one of the teachers all day, I was determined to make an effort to make it to work. God's strength and Alka-Seltzer cold meds helped and I ended up not feeling too bad throughout the day. I was exhausted once I got home though and we ate a light supper of foods I'd already prepared and I crashed in bed!

Today, Andy was feeling well enough to go to work. Yay! I don't feel too awful and I have my regular afternoon work schedule today. So I've taken it easy this morning in hopes of saving up my energy for this afternoon. I started some yogurt in the Instant Pot. It'll be ready when I get home tonight.

I'll need to write a post about the Instant Pot. I received one for Christmas and have really enjoyed learning how to use it!

Late last week, I made a trip to the library to pick up some books I had requested. Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington and Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life by Ruth Soukup.

I've already finished reading Breaking Busy and it was excellent. Her message goes right along with what I feel the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart for 2017. One (of many) quotes that stood out to me in this book is: "The world says we must do it all, but God says we must do only what He gives us to do." 

My plans for this week are not big and grand. Just to rest and get well and do what absolutely needs to be done. That's all!

Wishing you a great week!

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.
He kept us laughing-- the way he lurked around when we were eating meals together at the 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 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!