Thursday, March 25, 2010

Embracing the Journey

Sometimes I can see clearly where I'm going to end up. How I'm going to get there may be somewhat unclear from my current vantage point, but I just know, deep down inside, that it's where I'm going to end up. I don't mean stuff like "One day I'm going to be CEO of a huge company. I'm doing nothing to get there, but it'll happen!" No, not like that at all. I'm talking about smaller things, realizations and experiences that I'm working toward but I'm just not there yet.

What I find interesting is that I can see so clearly where I'm headed, but it's impossible for me to just jump to that point. The process of getting there is so necessary. I'm a thinker, and I spend a lot of time in my own head thinking through stuff. Even when I realize where a thought process will eventually lead me, I can't just say, "Okay, then that's what I think." I have to work my way to it, a bit at a time. It's kind of a surreal feeling, to go through things feeling quite sure of my destination but stopping to embrace the journey. Just a few years ago, I never would have been okay with this. But now I am.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cheap, Easy, and Chemical-Free

Yesterday, after more months of procrastination than I'm willing to admit, I forced myself to tackle the dreaded chore of cleaning our oven. I try to avoid cleaners that are full of chemicals, if possible, so I searched around for a chemical-free oven cleaning solution. I found one that sounded okay, so I decided to try it and see what happened. "If it doesn't work," I thought, "at least I tried to use something other than heavy-duty oven cleaner that can burn my skin on contact, right?"

I am pleased to report that it worked magnificently. I don't have any before-and-after pictures to show you (and even if I did, I wouldn't show you the before because it was embarrassingly awful), but the oven looks great now. If you're looking for a way to clean your oven, I highly recommend the following:

Remove the oven racks and spray down the offending areas with water. Coat it liberally with baking soda, then spray the baking soda with water until it's wet and pasty. Then just let it sit for a few hours until it dries. We let ours sit for about 5 hours. Once it's dry, scrub it off (with something dry). As the water-baking soda mixtures comes off, so does the nastiness inside the oven. I used a handheld vacuum cleaner to quickly and easily clean up the powdery remains, then I wiped down the inside of the oven with a wet washcloth. Done! Cheap, easy, chemical-free, and effective.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break

Elijah's spring break was last week, and I took a break from blogging. We had a fun week together, although it started off with him having the stomach bug that Isaac had a couple weeks ago. We did several fun things-- we met up with a few local families from Gentle Christian Mothers, took a walk at the park with a friend and her daughter, visited another friend's house, took family trips to the Tennessee Aquarium and the Greenway, and got some new fish and a frog for our fish tank.

But while we did some fun things during spring break, that's not what made it so special to me. I really enjoyed getting some time to relax and connect with Elijah. Truth be told, I miss him when he's at school, and school days feel so hectic and busy. It feels like we're all going in different directions, trying to do everything that needs to be done before bedtime, just so we can get up the next day and do it all over again. But during his break, we had plenty of time to relax and talk and just be together as a family.

School started back today. I'm counting down the weeks until summer break.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Isaac has discovered the great outdoors. He points at the front door and says, "Door?" while looking up at me hopefully. Unfortunately, up until recently we haven't been going outside much because it has been so cold and wet. But now that it's warming up, we've been going out a lot more, which he loves.

So yesterday, when he pointed at the door and wanted to go outside, I agreed. "Yes, we'll go outside. Come here so we can put your shoes on." He remained at the door, stretching his arm as far as he could to try to grab the doorknob that is just out of reach. I held up his shoes and gestured encouragingly at the chair where he always sits to put his shoes on. "Isaac, come put on your shoes, and we will go outside." He became a bit hysterical at this point, so I picked him up and put him on the chair so I could put his shoes on his feet. He cried and wiggled and flailed around, desperately wanting to go outside and not understanding that what we were doing in that very moment was a vital step toward that goal. What he saw as a hindrance was actually a necessary preparation. He was so focused on the thing he wanted that he didn't realize that what he was experiencing right then was good; in fact, it seemed bad to him.

And I wondered how often I do the very same thing. How often am I so focused on my end goal that I do not realize that what I'm experiencing in the moment may actually be moving me toward the thing I desire? How often do I misinterpret my circumstances, thinking that they are keeping me from going where I want to go, rather than understanding that they are actually preparing me for it?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another Benefit of Breastfeeding

This is another one of those times when I am so grateful for breastfeeding.

A little history: When Elijah was a baby, he only nursed for a few weeks, and I wanted to do things differently with Isaac. So when I was pregnant, I decided I would breastfeed for at least the first year of his life. And I did. Breastfeeding is an excellent source of nutrition and antibodies even past the first year, though, and when he reached his first birthday, it seemed silly for me to quit breastfeeding just because he had hit an arbitrary age. I decided I would let him wean naturally on his own. He loves to eat what the rest of us eat, and he's been eating more and more food lately and nursing less and less.

At least, that was the case until the stomach bug hit last week. His tummy was hurting, and he had other obvious symptoms of a stomach bug. (I'll spare you the details. You're welcome.) And, of course, with all that going on, it's really no surprise that he wasn't too excited about the prospect of eating. He also didn't want to drink much from a cup (we give him water and limited amounts of juice and whole milk in a sippy cup).

But he was interested in nursing, thank goodness, and he nursed a lot during the time he was sick. Although he was pushing away food and drink, he was still able to get the nutrition and hydration he needed. I wondered what I would have done if he hadn't still been nursing. I know you can give kids Pedialyte to drink in situations like that, but what if he had refused it like he was refusing water, juice, and whole milk? I'm just so glad he was still nursing and was able to get what he needed in a way that felt natural and comforting to him.

Thankfully, he seems to be feeling quite a bit better now. He's not completely back to normal, but close. :-)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Curbside Recycling Returns to Cleveland!

Years ago, our city had a curbside recycling program. Families simply put their recyclables in a blue bin and set it out at the curb alongside their trash cans on trash day. Unfortunately, the program ended in 2002 because of high costs.

Of course, we still have had recycling drop-off centers where people can go and drop off items to be recycled. But the convenience of a curbside pickup program has been missed. I'm sure many people like us have had the desire to recycle but have found it hard to get to the recycling drop-off centers during their open hours.

Recently, though, there was a news article in our local paper about a new curbside recycling business here in town called Green Guys Recycling. Every Saturday morning, they pick up a variety of items: paper, cardboard, glass, batteries, plastics 1-7, aluminum cans, styrofoam, and more. It's very affordable too-- only $15 a month, with savings if you pay for 3, 6, or 12 months at a time. We signed up a few days ago and they came on Saturday morning and picked up our recyclables. I'm really excited to have a curbside recycling service again. If you live in the area, I encourage you to sign up with Green Guys Recycling.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

So I Will Comfort You

This is from the book of Isaiah. It's talking about Jerusalem, but the imagery used here is so beautiful to me, and I wanted to share it:

Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her;
that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance.

For thus says the Lord:
"Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

-Isaiah 66:10-13