Wordless Wednesday: A tribute only family could appreciate

My husband has become somewhat of a novice home-brewer here recently... and with the passing of his father, his next batch has a new name... and a label to go with it.  Only those who knew him will appreciate the quirks of this label. ;)


Top Ten Tuesday: Things to be thankful for in times of grief

My blog has been silent for over a week - I had more important things to tend to.  My husband lost his father to cancer last Tuesday, I lost a wonderful father-in-law and our children lost the best grandfather they could ever ask for.  But through our stress and grief, we have found many things to be thankful for.  Better in-laws do not exist and the Seger extended family is top-notch.... they are simply the best.  Period.  How extremely lucky am I...

Thus, my top ten things to be thankful for in this time of grief.

1.  The coming of Spring.  Even with our loss, a new season and new beginnings are at hand.  To everything, there is a season.
2.  A large, strong, enveloping support system of family and friends who are always at our side.
3.  God's small miracles.  The 8th Seger grandchild was born exactly two weeks before my husband's father passed away.... and was named after him.
4.  God's great miracles.  Our family was told just before Christmas that my father-in-law's cancer had disappeared.  We enjoyed a joyful holiday season together and celebrated birthdays and new births with less stress and worry.
5.  Feeling the calm and peacefulness of prayer before and after our loved one's death.  To feel God's warmth around our hearts as we held hands and prayed together each day by passing day.
6.  The first thunderstorm of spring.  My father-in-law had hoped that it would storm or rain.... and miraculously enough it did.  We cracked a window, turned off the lights, and listened to the rolling thunder and pitter-pat of the raindrops together in silence.
7.  A new appreciation for those we take for granted.  I have the greatest husband in the world.  (sorry ladies.)  The past couple of weeks have only reinforced my belief in his outstanding character, faith and inner strength.  
8.  Reminders of how precious our family is to us. Time spent with each other is now more important than ever.  The past few weeks have given our family time to spend with one another, more time than has been possible for years.  Previous priorities now seem trivial.  "The most important thing to hold on to in life... is each other."  
9.  Reminders of how precious life is.  To live as though each day will be our last.  To hug our spouses and children a little more tightly at both the beginning and end of the day.  To say "I Love You" just because we can.  To know how great of an impact our lives have on others.
10.  Witnessing the miracle of death... the passing from one life to another...a homecoming to the glory of God.  Experiencing this miracle together has changed us...for the better.  And that in itself is something to be thankful for.

For more Top Ten Tuesday posts, visit ohamanda.com


Wordless Wednesday: The Little Things

Ever since I began following Layla Grace and her family's heartbreaking story, I have begun noticing my two year old a little more each and every day.  Sure, he is right smack-dab in the middle of the "terribles" and he tends to exert most of his energy lately by throwing himself on the kitchen floor and screaming his little blond head off.  Or by hitting and kicking mommy, daddy, or sissy.  Or by whacking the dog with daddy's brewing utensils (don't ask)... well, you get the picture.  These are not the easiest years of his life... for him or for those around him.  But recently I've begun noticing the unique little quirks about this little guy that I somehow have lost sight of in the middle of all of that.  

This photo was taken a couple weeks ago at a family wedding.  Everything about it screams Jake.  His hands neatly folded behind his back.  The way he attentively studies the other children out on the dance floor, wondering - hmm.... that looks like fun, when would be the right time to join in?  It's like an open portal into his personality.

Truth is, even though he has his not-so-good moments, he is mine.  And he is healthy.  And I love with all of my heart.  And I refuse to ever again take a moment with him for granted.  

Please take a moment to pray for Layla Grace and her family.  You can also follow their harrowing journey on Facebook and Twitter.


Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Signs of Spring

There's something thrilling in the air in our neck of the woods... and it smells like S.P.R.I.N.G.!  Temperatures that are at or above 50 degrees are a triumph here my friends.  Thus - my top 10 favorite signs that spring is on its way!  I'm so giddy I can hardly type..... it's been a long, cold, snowy Ohio winter people... let me have my moment :)

1.  Cincinnati Reds spring training has begun!
2.  My husband begins whining that he really, really wants to go disc golfing.
3.  Our enclosed porch is warm enough from the sun shining in that I can relax in a patio chair while sipping some   coffee on Saturday mornings! = Heaven.
4.  CYFAR conference planning begins for my hubby and I!  What do to in San Francisco this year?.....
5.  The Children's Place begins sending me tempting e-mails with too-cute-for-their-own-good spring outfits for the kiddos... must...control....myself.
6.  Spring Hill Nursery catalogs begin arriving in my mailbox and can start dreaming about gardening.  I have some great gardening adventures for this spring dreamed up in my head already!
7.  My husband and I once again become motivated to keep checking things off of our home-renovation to-do list.  Next up - painting and decorating our dim dark dungeon-like hallway.
8.  The wonderfully fresh smell that lingers in the air after the first warm-weather rain of the season.
9.  That glorious few days in March when the temperature warms up just enough for me to throw up all of the windows and relish the fresh, spring air that coaxes it's way into the house.
10. The kiddos are able to once again frolick in the yard each evening when we arrive home = bye bye cabin fever.... need I say more?

For more Top Ten Tuesday posts, visit ohamanda.com


Menu Plan Monday: Week of March 8th

This week's menu plan features just a couple of the recipes from my February Once A Month Cooking menu for two reasons: 1) we've almost come to the point of trying each recipe once (too soon to begin eating the same recipe the second time) and 2) I have been craving Chili Dogs and Cheesy Potato Soup for a while now!  Maybe it's a spring thing?  Spring is definitely in the air in our neck of the woods... and I'm lovin' it!

This Week's Menu Plan:
Monday - OAMC Easy Taco Bake
Tuesday - Chili Dogs & French Fries
Wednesday - OAMC Curried Chicken Tidbits & Veggies (didn't get to these last week)
Thursday - Math & Science Night at Marissa's school = Pizza for the family!
Friday - Fish fry at St. John's
Lunch - Grilled Cheese Sandwiches & tomato soup
Dinner - OAMM's Chicken Parmigiana
Lunch - Tacquitos & tortilla chips/salsa
Dinner - Cheesy Potato Soup

For more menu plans, visit orgjunkie.com.


February OAMC Day Recap

Man, did it feel great to be back in the Once A Month Cooking saddle again!  After a few months of waiting for my sister to get an extra freezer, she and I planned another large cooking day to cook breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the majority of February/March.  Compared to our first two tries at bulk cooking, this third go-round went incredibly smoothly.  Below is a short list of things we did differently or changed up a bit:

 - We made sure to chop most of the vegetables/potatoes the night before our big cooking day.  This really helped to cut down time spent in the kitchen.  Trust me, if you save all of the chopping for your cooking day, you will have to allow at least two hours for that.
 -  We called in reinforcements.  Our mom and grandma volunteered to come by for a bit to help lighten our dirty dish load and actually ended up getting into the 'cooking spirit' so much they assembled a few meals for us before they left.  We estimated that the 2 hours they were there saved us the same amount of cooking time.
 -  We changed the menu a bit to suit our needs and our families' needs.  My sister really, really.... REALLY liked the Blueberry/Banana smoothies from a previous OAMM menu, so we added those in, as well as Mom's Enchiladas.  In return, we omited  the recipes for Crystal's Lazy Granola and Mexican Style Beef & Lentil Stew. 
 -  We made sure that we took opportunities throughout the day to feed ourselves and sit down and rest.  I cannot tell you how important this is to avoid getting burnt out and too drained. :)  I even took 5 minutes at the beginning of the day to make myself a delicious caramel macciato - it really jump started me and put me in the right frame of mind.
 -  I borrowed my husband's apron to avoid coming home not only smelling like everything that I cooked in the kitchen that day... but also looking like it.  Yes, I am well aware that I might need to fix this no-apron issue. 

To our delight, our third time participating in a OAMC day ended before dinner time.  Yup, we were finished by 6:00pm!  It is so true that the more experience you gain with once a month cooking, the more efficiently and smoothly your big cooking day gets.  It was such a relief to be able to load all of my goodies into the car and prop my aching sore feet up on the couch before the kids were in bed!  My sister and I spent $128 per person and now have a ton of breakfasts, lunches and dinners to show for it - such a great feeling knowing that will save time and money in March food-wise.... and that is what always attracts me to once a month cooking.

Below are a few more pictures from this month's big cooking day.

If you would like to view more February Once A Month cooking stories, visit OnceAMonthMom.com.

Most of the ingredients - Hollie (sis) always does a great job of laying them out on the table the night before so they're ready to go.

Items I brought to get us through the big day - caramel macciatos, gummi worms and chocolate

Hollie peeled most of the pears with a potato peeler; it actually worked really well!
Black Bean Salsa Chicken assembled, labeled and ready for the freezer.  (My family had this recipe for Sunday's lunch by the way... and it was amazing!)

Ahhhh...... a freezer full of meals. :)

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