Sunday, February 28, 2010

Food For Thought

There is more to life than increasing its speed.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Photo Flashback - Birthday Edition

Well, it is Friday again (already!), but this time I'm not struggling to find pictures to share for Friday Photo Flashback. If anything, it was tough to narrow it down today. Why? Because today my first born, Prince Charming, turns 19! Yep...already...I blinked and he went from this:

Our first day home from the hospital...notice the birth documents are actually on the bed next to him.

To this: Charming's first birthday.

To this: Walking around in Mom's boots (I know, he'll probably kill me for this one).

To this: Summertime tan...too cute.

To this: 16 on a boat in Priest Lake, ID.

and finally to picture because he's in the dorms (but I'll be seeing him tonight)...he's graduating college in May and on his way to his "own" life. He just doesn't understand. He'll always be my baby.

So, Happy Birthday, Prince Charming! We think you're the best!

Head over to More Than Words to see what else is going on as people mosey on down Memory Lane this Friday Photo Flashback.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shoot Me! 7 and 8 of 52

Carin at Forever in Blue Jeans had this great idea to get us in the pictures. Yes, you...the person always holding the camera at family gatherings. The one NOT present in any meaningful way in the family pictures...okay, not present AT ALL in the family pictures. She challenges us all to get in the pictures. Some people have been very creative and set up tripods to capture life. Me? I'm still at the "Darn, I need a picture for Shoot Me!" phase. My pictures have all been taken from a distance exactly equal to how far my own arm reaches from my face. I really need to work on that. This week, however, won't be that week. No, this week I'm catching up from missing a week of blogging so I haven't had time to create something, well, creative. Oh well, maybe next time.

Week 7 of 52:

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being the first non-family member to watch baby Kaleb. Can you believe it? I was so honored. Do you remember baby Kaleb? He was born at the end of November but still managed to drag his mom to our Christmas party the first week of December. This boy is a charmer! He's already 3 months old, but this picture is from our first "date" when he was 6 or 7 weeks old.
The funniest part? I managed to blink when I was taking my own picture! Come on...that is funny!

Week 8 of 52:

After days of beautiful weather filled with sunshine and blue skies and temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s, we awoke yesterday to big fat fluffy snowflakes falling out of the sky. Today? No snow and bright beautiful weird is that?

Anyway, photographic evidence of the snow is behind me in this'll just need to take my word for it that I took it yesterday. I pinky promise!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who are these clothes meant for?

As a 40-something woman, what I look for in clothes is not what I was looking for in my 20s. I know that and understand that "fashion" isn't for me. My style is pretty well defined and I'm rarely swayed by "trends". I buy fewer clothes and I wear my clothes longer. I'm frugal and don't define myself by my appearance the way I did when I was a younger woman.

Still, I like to look nice and I am always leafing through magazines that have fashion layouts for women my age. Sometimes they have terrific ideas and sometimes the outfits are ridiculous. That never seems to change.

I just have a few questions: How can anyone justify a $450 skirt or shirt? How can any coat be worth $1000? And, if you buys shoes that cost you $700 and you get a scuff, do you think to yourself, "Damn, there goes $50!"

Honestly, it seems to me that I don't understand the point of these fashion layouts. Oh, don't misunderstand, I do understand the idea behind marketing and generating interest in styles and trends. What I don't understand is how publications can put together "business casual" outfits that end up costing $1000 for one outfit. Oh, I understand that the pieces are basics and that you are supposed to add and subtract aspects to create new looks. Some are even called "investment" pieces. Really? An investment is something that can appreciate in value. Clothing is like automobiles. Then second you drive it off the lot, you've lost money.

Obviously, there are people who make lots and lots of money who can and do afford clothes that cost as much as my house payment. I know that. Looking at magazines aimed at the mainstream, however, and you see items featured that the average woman will NEVER be able to afford (even those in the so-called upper middle class). With that realization, you have to wonder what the real message is. In a country where we're drowning in debt and stuff, maybe we need to teach ourselves to be more aware of the not-so-subliminal messages we're receiving. "This $450 shirt will make you happy, beautiful, and successful." Um, no…that $450 shirt might be pretty, but happiness, beauty, and success don't come in anything someone can sell you. "Oh, it is a new season…time to get an entirely new wardrobe!" Yeah, because the clothes that worked the last time this season came around won't work this time? Look, people wouldn't offer these clothes if people weren't buying them, right? But why are people buying? Aren't we smarter than that?

And don't get me started about undergarments? Do designers not realize that we need to wear bras? Even when I was younger, I needed to wear said undergarment. Yet, as I look at so many of the clothes that are designed, I wonder if other women know something I don't about defying gravity. If they do, I wish they'd fill me in.

Maybe I'm too old (but I think I'm just right for me) or maybe I'm just not part of the target market, but I just can't figure it out. Who are these clothes designed for? Is it you?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Old Cookbooks – People Really Ate That?

I can't believe that I'm the only one who looks in her kitchen and wonders where some of her cookbooks came from. Seriously. In my ongoing effort to actually "own" what I own, I've decided to go through all my cookbooks and assess if they add any value to my life and if they don't, they're out. Going through these cookbooks, however, is becoming quite the adventure. I have some cookbooks that I assume I somehow inherited from my mom, but at the same time, I can't imagine her making most of the recipes I find in them. What do I mean?

Well, take this 1962 edition of Betty Crocker's Quick & Easy Cookbook. The opening page has an introduction about how the recipes are designed with the "modern" woman in mind. There are a lot of recipes that use Bisquick and cake mixes. (Brand tie-in, anyone!)

Divided into Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner rather than food groups, it has ideas for feeding teenagers, ladies luncheons, etc. Sounds reasonable, right?

Let's look at the first breakfast feature: Cereal & Milk! What? You think I'm joking. Sadly, I'm not. Ideas for cereal and milk in a recipe book?

But, wait! Instead of milk, it suggests pouring eggnog, flavored milks, softened ice cream, whipped cream, softened fruit flavored sherbets, or cinnamon sour cream over your cereal. They advise skipping the sugar on top at that point. (Seriously? Someone thought these were good ideas to serve to your family to make breakfast more exciting?)

The kids and I, however, were dumbstruck by this "yummy" dinner recipe.

What about you? Ready for some "Frankfurter Supper Dish"? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Hmmm...maybe eating the way we used to in the "good old days" isn't quite what we thought it was? I can't imagine eating most of the stuff I found in this cookbook and it will be heading off to Goodwill now that I've shared it with you.

What about you? Do you know what is lurking in your cookbooks?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Making Your Home Sing - The Where-Did-My-Day-Go Edition

Okay, before I share with you my thoughts about our upcoming week, I thought I'd share with you a little something that made me chuckle all day long.

Every morning (internet allowing) we talk to Superman before he heads off for bed (he's 11 hours ahead of us)...that means he's heard and seen how under the weather we've been these past few weeks. He's seen how we look and how we sound. You would think that would give him a pretty good feel for what was going on, right? Wrong! This morning Superman informed me that he knew I was really sick because I haven't been posting on my blog. Seriously! I burst out laughing. Yes, even Superman judges my wellness based on my blog posts. Come have to admit that is funny, isn't it?

Okay, back to business. It is Making Your Home Sing Monday and I feel like we missed an entire week. Last week passed in a blur. Sometimes your body just forces you to slow down and for me, that time came last week. After celebrating Valiant's birthday, we circled the wagons and hunkered down. All non-essential activities were canceled. We even canceled Craft Night/Game night. The end result? It worked. I'm on the mend and Buttercup, who is four days behind me with this "plague", is getting better even faster.

Making My Home Sing? My kids are singing a happy song because Mom is not just going through the motions this week. Don't get me wrong...I've done everything I needed to in the past few weeks, but my best just wasn't very good and the kids knew it. They took advantage of it. What? You thought they were perfect? Oh, they are...perfect "children", which means they got more and more lax and more and more mouthy as the time progressed. They even got rude on Skype while Dad or LoveAphid could hear. (Oh yea, they were getting that comfortable with themselves!)

What? My kids are happy to have me clamping down and nipping this rebellion at the bud? Definitely. Our children need us to be parents. Not buddies, not roommates, but parents. They need us to be in charge and set the pace and create order in their world. Sometimes circumstances change, but our kids need us to be back in charge as soon as we can.

We've had two days of amazing weather here in Eastern Washington. Bright beautiful days have revitalized me. Sunshine and warm weather have helped me get physically better and, frankly, did wonders for my mood, too. I woke up full of energy this morning and I had great intentions to get blogging before I got to work today, but the sunshine and feeling good for the first time in weeks was just too tempting, so I'm posting this at 9:30 at night.

So, what did I do with my beautiful children today? Well, let's see. We cleaned up bedrooms, vacuumed the house, dusted, made a trip to the dump with our recyclables, made too trips to the Goodwill Donation drop-off, made it to WalMart to buy $4 sheets to make a new futon cover for the futon in Buttercup's room, and even had time to have a "wall cleaning party". We also spent time in the greenhouse sowing our vegetable seeds and transplanting Buttercup's tomato plant (which has flowers again!). This evening, Valiant manned the barbecue all by himself and served some terrific hamburgers to his sister and me.

The best part? None of this was tough. The children were cheerful participants and none of it seemed rushed or forced. Proof positive that Mom's attitude really does determine the mood of the household, even when our attitude is a symptom of something else. My children were cheerfully doing chores, cheerfully helping each other and me to get the things done we always do. I don't know what we'll be singing...I just know that we will. And that, my friends, is such a wonderful feeling.

So, Happy Monday to you all...may it be a fantastic week at your house. Don't forget to get some inspiration by heading over to Momstheword's to see what everyone else has been thinking about this week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feeling Better...and a child who is one year older!

Finally...I'm feeling better and Buttercup is on the mend. Valiant managed to avoid our "plague" and celebrated turning 14 yesterday. This was our first birthday celebration without their father and it was tough. Buttercup and I took Valiant out to breakfast, then we took him bowling. We waited for Charming to get off work and finished off with an early dinner at Red Robin and we capped the evening off by having all the neighborhood kids over for cake and ice cream. We managed to time things just right, such that Superman was able to join in while everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to Valiant. (Unfortunately, we haven't figured out how to make Skype a transporter, so he could only watch while the cake and ice cream were served.)

So, Happy Birthday, Valiant! I think you're the best!

P.S. Thanks to everyone for their well wishes and their birthday greetings to Valiant...we so appreciated them...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Excused Absence, Please...

Buttercup is now sick and I am still sick and poor Valiant celebrates his 14th birthday tomorrow (the 16th!)...I'll be back when I can...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Food for Thought

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction."

...and something I heard on Dave Ramsey Thursday night:

"Roses are red
Lobster is nice.
My envelope's empty
Do you like beans and rice?"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sewing, Sewing, and more Sewing

Well, I've been felled by a cold. Seriously. I feel just crummy enough to want to whine, but not crummy enough to stay in bed all day. Crummy enough to stay away from Mrs. M's precious baby, but not crummy enough to excuse myself from my responsibilities. Do you know the feeling? Well, when I feel this way, reading doesn't cut it because I can't stay focused, but television gets boring fast! What to do? I started sewing. Once I got started, I couldn't seem to stop. I know it is Andrea at the Train to Crazy's fault...she's hosting this weekly Clothing Sew Along in which she is teaching you everything you want to know about sewing from picking out your fabrics to picking out your patterns: the works. Then I saw this tutorial for making European Pillow Shams by Prudent Baby (I found it via One Pretty Thing - I do so love One Pretty Thing!).

The result? This week I've made two surprise presents for Superman which I can't show you because I shipped them off today and he won't have them until the end of next week and if I were to show you, they would no longer be a surprise!

sew along button
Andrea's sew along got me thinking, but I can't think of anything to make for myself...okay, that isn't true. I can't make anything for myself until I use up some of the fabric I already have. So, instead I made another fleece like this one for Buttercup.

This first one I made for her has already become too small and she misses it. The great thing about using this same pattern for everyone is that I'm learning more and more about how I like to put things together and I'm being brave enough to alter patterns and follow my own directions to get the result I want. The kids agree, Buttercup's fleece turned out really, really well. Enough room to grow in, but not so much that she's swimming in it. And the zipper didn't defeat me - wooo hooo!

Then I decided to go ahead and make some pillows to match the curtains I'd made for Mrs. R more than a year ago. As I said, this tutorial for European Pillow Shams at Prudent Baby got me thinking and I had this fabric waiting to be used. Throw in a couple of old pillows (12 x20) and I had a project! The curtains were a gift - Mrs. R bought the fabric (I found it for her on clearance, and it was exactly what she was looking for) and I did the sewing for her. Embarrassing fact? The curtains have been done 18 months...the pillows? One hour...sigh. At least they're done!

So, what else am I inspired to do? I'm making a nightgown for myself and pajama pants for Charming. (With a 37" inseam, he likes occasionally having pj's that are actually long enough!) I'm going to modify the very first fleece I made so that it will actually fit Valiant, as the one I made for him is getting a bit short. Oh, and I'm going to tackle a few potato bags! Have you heard of them? Supposedly a potato bag is the key to fluffy microwaved "baked" potatoes...I'm skeptical, but Mrs. M. is dying to make some, so I'll be a copy cat.

PS. As soon as Superman confirms receipt of his surprises, I'll show you what I made him...I just love it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Photo Flashback...

It is Friday Photo Flashback time again. The time when Alicia at More Than Words reminds us that there were pictures before there were digital cameras. In fact, those pictures are all the more precious because we have so few of them...when you had to pay to develop film, even when you had no idea how well the pictures were going to turn out, use of the camera was judicious! So, join in and share your pictures from way back when...come on, you know it puts a smile on your face to thumb through those memories.

So, my entry for Friday Photo Flashback has me going a bit out of order. Let me explain: Birthday Season in the Nagle5 household runs from February 16 to March 25...all the kids were born in that small window of time. The boys were actually born on dates that are only 10 days apart! Valiant's birthday is first, but I'm sharing a Charming picture because I found it when I was digging through some really old boxes. I think this picture was taken at my mom's house (the 80s hydrocal floor lamp gives me that impression)...Charming was about 5-6 weeks old (yes, he was big!), so that would make me 27. I can't believe it was almost 19 years go!

Let's see...what does seeing this picture remind me of? This was actually the first of the many times I would go on to dye my hair darker than my natural color. I loved it...and if I didn't have so much grey, I'd still have dark hair. I was heartsick because I had to go back to work...this was before FMLA and I used every bit of vacation I had, but CA State Disability ended when you were six weeks post partum, so back to work I went. He slept a lot...this baby napped twice a day for 2-3 hours at a crack and, while he didn't sleep through the night until he was two, he only woke up to eat and went straight back to sleep. (He wore sizes 2T-3T by the time he was 11 months old!) I loved, loved, loved being a mom from the moment I gave birth...having to go back to work made it so hard...but I wouldn't trade one moment of his life for anything. His birth taught me the true meaning of the word "awe" and I've been humbled by the experience ever since.

See what one little picture can bring to mind? That is why I am still doing Friday Photo Flashback...I enjoy the ride.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shoot Me: 6 of 52

Carin at Forever Blue Jeans has started a movement to get those of us always behind the camera to actually show up in the pictures. "Shoot Me" is her way of doing that. Since the history of my family definitely seems to be absent a mother and a wife, I thought I'd use this challenge to provide proof to future generations that I did, in fact, exist!
This picture? I was sitting in front of the computer in the Macaroni & Cheese room (aka our family room) with Valiant and Buttercup and said, "Hey, Buttercup, come help me with my Shoot Me! picture this week." She's all bright and shiny after an evening bath (isn't she a cutie?) and me, well, I had a low-key day today...fighting a fever and a scratchy throat, but I did shower and get dressed. There you have it. Buttercup and me on a "just hanging around" kind of evening! (Look at that gorgeous girl--that skin is to die for!)

To see how others got themselves in the picture, head over to Forever in Blue Jeans and look around. Some of these bloggers are amazing photographers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stay-At-Home Wife?

My sister and I have been talking a lot about stay-at-home wives: women who choose to stay home, even if they don't have children. A little more than a year ago, she joined their ranks. It hasn't been an easy transition for her. This is not a new topic of fact, we talked about it here (Feb. '09)...and not much has changed since then.

I know how much I struggled to make my way as I became a stay-at-home-mom after working full-time outside the home for the first ten years of my marriage. Finding my way, finding value in what I was doing in a world that only seemed to value my wage-earning abilities was really difficult. I didn't know how to do much in the home-making arena. I, however, had children and society, while not exactly enthusiastic, recognized my desire to be home for my children as an understandable decision. Oh, I still got the "So, what do you do all day?" questions and the "But don't you want to do something that matters?" questions, but I'd "been there, done that". I am blessed with a supportive husband who was completely behind my desire to be home and willing to ride out the ups and downs as we all adjusted to a new way of life. I met up with some wonderful women who were stay-at-home-moms who validated my efforts and made me feel like I wasn't the only one trying to live this old-fashioned lifestyle. In the almost 11 years that I've been home full-time, I've learned so much and I wouldn't trade these years for anything. What once seemed so alien and challenging now seems like the way it should be for me.

My point? My sister has been home for a year and is struggling. No, she's not struggling with the work she does in the home. Instead, she's struggling to make her way in a world that absolutely doesn't value her contribution in the home because she has no children. The more we've discussed the situation, the more I've come to understand that this is the dark, underside of the work/stay-at-home debate. 50 years ago, no one would have questioned her desire to be a stay-at-home wife, even with her college degree. Obviously, lots of things have changed in 50 years, but doesn't feminism really mean she can actually choose and that choosing to stay-at-home and make a wonderful home for her husband and herself is a valid and respectable choice?

I found this post about Learning the Art of Homemaking at Domestic Felicity and thought I'd share part of it with you (but do go over and read the entire post, it is fabulous):

"The way I see it, successfully running a household is in many ways similar to managing a small hotel: meals have to be served on time, everything must be neat and clean and presentable, with a well-organized routine of work that helps things run smoothly. All this, while staying within the strict limits of a budget. And in countless ways, running a home is so much more than running an hotel, because the homemaker is responsible for the long-term well-being of her family, and therefore must make sure her husband has his needs attended, meals are nutritious and made of high quality products and the menu doesn't become too predictable…

… I know it's impossible to list the many arts a good homemaker must know, and there's always something new to learn. But beyond cooking, cleaning, laundry, budgeting, scheduling, organizing and decorating, there is an important trait a homemaker must have, a trait that cannot be learned and tossed aside, but is only acquired through years of practice. It is patience.

Maybe your floors are so clean you could eat off them and you cook like a chef, but as a homemaker you need much more than that. You must learn to do the same tasks, day after day, week after week, with joy and contentment in your heart. Sure, technically, it's not very hard to change a diaper. How about ten thousand diapers? Doing a load of laundry is easy. Then why is laundry piling up in people's homes? Obviously, because after the thousandth load, we have a tendency to get bored and just let things go."

So, here are my questions to you all:

Is there value in being a stay-at-home wife if you have no children? (Obviously, I see value, but what do you think?)

Are there blogs out there supporting the idea that home-making is not limited to the parents amongst us?

How can someone who has made the decision to be a stay-at-home wife feel good about her decision when just about everybody she knows/meets wonders when she's going to start doing something important.

Tell me, what do you think?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our “We Have Too Much Stuff” Journey…

has been a crazy one. We moved to this home in Sept. 2005, leaving the hustle and bustle of Southern California for the slower pace of Eastern Washington. The problem? We brought all our stuff with us. We filled up two PODS to do it. Seriously. Two years into our new life here, I found myself looking around and wondering to myself, why did we bring all this stuff with us ? What was I thinking? How could I have paid to move this stuff? What did I think I would do with it all? Those thoughts were quickly followed by questions about lifestyle patterns, value systems, and future goals. Why were we reinventing the life we'd been so eager to leave behind? Were we just following patterns we'd absorbed since childhood, without any deliberate plan? (Short answer: Yes!) Obviously, a change was needed. I started reading books and blogs on clutter and organization and living in small places (great sources for ideas about deliberate living) rededicating myself to the ideals I paid lip-service to. I think I sounded like a broken record a lot of the time.

Superman was slow to come aroundholding on to things "just in case". Some of our oddest conversations involved things that came with the house: "Why do we have to keep the hot tub? We don't like the hot tub." "Can't we get rid of the above ground pool? The kids don't use it and it is a lot of work." His responses were varied, but adamant: he didn't want to get rid of them. They added "value" to the property. What? They didn't add value to our lives. They caused us tremendous stresstrying to keep the water levels properly adjusted, paying to keep the hot tub warm, getting the cover on and off the darned poolthey were not worth the energy they required. Honestly? I hated them. Finally, Superman wearied of the discussion and I sold the above ground pool to a family with younger children (look, teenagers don't want to play in 3.5 feet of water). With the departure of the pool, Superman saw the light. He was amazed how much lighter he felt without the worry of the pool. A few months later, the Jacuzzi was gone.

In the two and a half years since I had that epiphany, I've been off-loading belongings like crazy and, sadly, our house is NOT empty. Not even close. But I'm still chipping away, trying like heck to whittle down our belongings to those that a) we use all the time or b) we are passionately in love with. If an item doesn't meet either of those benchmarks, it is gone.

Now that Superman is living away from the family for a year, he's realized how burdened he's felt with the responsibility to maintain our "lifestyle" and how much of our lifestyle we fell into rather than deliberately created. (Yippee!) He's revisiting some of the ideas I presented to him when he wasn't so receptive. One of the most interesting articles I've found recently sums up so many of the things I've learned over the past two yearsif you're at all interested in the topic, you should head over to Small Living Journal. This article on 10 Guidelines for Living Tiny written by Hillary at "thistinyhouse" was absolutely fabulous. No, I don't live small, but the guidelines are applicable to all of our lives.

Two Guidelines to whet your appetites:

"#1 What you own, owns you." think about it. Anything you own requires your attention, your thoughts. Once you get rid of it, the space in your mind that item took is free for other endeavors.

"#2 What makes us feel liberated is not total freedom, but rather living in a set of limitations that we have created and prescribed for ourselves." again, think about it. How much of what you do is because you've actually thought it out and decided that this is indeed the path for you and not because everyone else does it?

What is in store for the next year? Well, with Superman's blessings, more and more stuff is leaving our house. I don't need it, don't want it, and most of all, holding on to it doesn't make me use it, it just makes me responsible for it.

What about you? Am I the only one on this journey?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Making Your Home Sing Monday – Just Another Manic Monday

Can you believe it is already Monday again? Seriously? Where does the time go? These days my life seems to be moving at the speed of light. Nan reminds us to Make Our Homes Sing using Monday as the day to rededicate ourselves to a harmonious home and I am reminded my attitude as we transition to a new normal will determine how everyone else in the family handles these changes. I've come to the conclusion that just another "Manic Monday" will be our reality for awhile and I'm more than okay with that.

As a family that very deliberately stepped off the merry-go-round that seems to define modern families, I confess to being surprised at how busy our humble lives still seem to be. We don't have kids in multiple activities, running from this place to that, but we sure are busy. I can't imagine how we'd be doing if we were participating in band and sports and clubs, too. Just maintaining our home and getting the schoolwork done and participating in the few things we do fills our days and evenings. With Superman gone, I'm noticing that the kids are NOT eager to sign up for more responsibilities. Instead, they prefer one-time activities, like heading out for a movie or an afternoon bowling, rather than committing to week after week of an activity. Valiant loves his stage combat class, but I think he'd be frustrated if it required longer than an 8-week commitment. So, my hat's off to all of you who can run from activity to activity with a smile on your face. I stand in awe of your dedication and inner strength.

I've figured out a few sanity-saving tricks:

*All my blog posts must be written Sunday night and scheduled to post appropriately. This allows me to participate in something I love without making myself crazy over it.

*Bedtime has become a ritual rather than just a time of day. We head upstairs together at 9:30-ish and get all ready for bed, including tidying the main level in preparation for the following morning, then I read two chapters of a book we're enjoying together. It gets us all ready for sleep and allows us to wake-up cheerfully each morning.

*I am not exercising on weekends. I need a bit of down-time, even from my expectations for myself. Progress will still be made, but if this is a life-style change (the way exercise is supposed to be) then "rushing" myself doesn't make any sense.

*We watch a little boy for 45 minutes each weekday morning, after which we have scheduled breakfast, chores, and exercise and lunch. School begins after lunch. This way our mornings aren't hectic, the kids don't feel pressured, and if Superman can Skype us before he goes to bed, we don't feel stressed about the things we are "supposed" to be doing.

I am sure more things will resolve themselves as we go on, but for now, these little tweaks have really helped us accomplish the things we need to accomplish while still enjoying each other. After all, if it is all drudgery, what is the point?

So, as we begin our fourth week with a long-distance Daddy, we'll be cheerfully singing "Manic Monday" by the Bangles. (Did you know Prince actually wrote this song? Weird, eh?) Life is busy, life is crazy, but it is our life and it is a good one.

P.S. Nan's post is all about taking charge of your day by consciously thinking about what you want to have happen and developing a plan to see it through. It is fantastic. Head over and be inspired.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Food for Thought

When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves that they are bored.

- Eric Hoffer

The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.

- Saul Steinberg

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One Hour Bread as Wheat Bread

(A rising loaf of wheat bread)

LoveAphid and I have been playing around with the one hour bread recipe I fell in love with last year and have been turning it into a recipe that uses whole wheat. The idea was to make the bread a little healthier and a little more substantial. I have had tremendous success and thought I'd share it with you.

The basic recipe calls for:

5 1/4 cups of bread flour
2-4 Tbsp of sugar (I normally use 2 Tbsp)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp (rounded) yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
2 cups hot water

(Two loaves of finished wheat bread)

To make this a little healthier, I changed it as follows:

2 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups of bread flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsps (rounded) yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 cups of hot water

It worked really well and gave us a heartier bread. If you're looking for a more substantial bread, but still want it to be quick, give this a try. I still don't make a sponge and have no problem getting this bread to rise, but LoveAphid is struggling to get it to rise without a sponge.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Photo Flashback

Friday again...pulling out photos from the pre-digital camera days and spending a time thinking about things long since past. This is the meme that Alicia at More Than Words has started and I don't see myself quitting it any time soon. Head over to Alicia's to see what everyone else managed to won't be disappointed.

This week I found some pictures that I've always thought were "horrible" pictures, but I guess enough time has passed that I can view them for more than how I look in them.

The first one is me trailing behind Charming when he was three and 4 months and running in the kids' race at the Bastille Days 5K in Orange County, CA. I've always shared a similar shot with Superman running behind Charming at a race, but never showed this one because it was "horrible". Those days were tough in so many ways. I had just started running and we had no money for real shoes, real clothes, anything- coming up with the $10 to enter the 5K was a struggle...the huge t-shirt was one I'd worn when I was pregnant. I've always looked back at this picture and thought about being embarrassed, but you know what? I love it. Look at my little boy, running his little heart and so proud of himself. How could I not love this picture?

It was only the beginning...

2 years later, the family headed off to Derby Days 5K at the Santa Anita Raceway. Valiant was 6 weeks old and I was walking the 5K and the plan was for Charming to run the 1 mile kids' race. That is not how it turned out, however. Instead, Charming took off at a run when the 5K started and I shouted at Superman to follow him. Poor Superman! Charming ran the entire 3.2 miles! Oh, it was so funny!

As I look at the last picture, I'm also reminded of how hard Superman worked to restore that little car for me. Smog laws were so tough then and we couldn't find parts for it in the pre-internet days. Not long after this photo, we had to sell the car he'd so lovingly restore for me. I still smile when I think of was truly a gift of love.

So, there you go, my little trip down Memory Lane this week. I hope you enjoyed it because I know I had fun sharing the pictures with you.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shoot Me - 5 of 52

Carin at Forever Blue Jeans is hosting this year long carnival in which we commit to put ourselves in the pictures we take once each week.

I took this picture right after I finished doing the 30 Day Shred. Yes, I've started it up again. It was wonderfully effective, even if I loathe it while I'm doing it. Now I'm doing the whole thing over again and this is what I look like hot and sweaty. Notice the lovely "blush" that covers my entire face? What about the dark spots on my shirt? That is sweat...aren't you proud of me?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Auto Repair in a Modern Family" or "My First Challenge as a "Temporarily Single" Mom"

Superman changed the oil in my car the day before he left. That was great. Unfortunately, the day after he left, my car started leaking oil. Let's be clear here: I know very little about cars. I've always counted on the men in my life to handle my auto repair issues. Valiant, however, is too young to take over for his dad in his absence. So, I did whatever any modern woman would do:

I got on Skype with my husband...showed him a picture of the oil walking outside with the computer, tipping it down so the camera hit the garage floor and said, "See?"

Then I slid the laptop under the car...Virtual Husband, if you please.

Then I sent my son under the car for hands-on learning to troubleshoot the problem.

Ah, you've got to love technology! Hey, don't laugh! What would you have done?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You Are What You Eat? Uh-oh!

When Valiant had his wisdom teeth extracted, we were pretty much housebound for the first few days. We used that time to catch up on some of the documentaries we'd been wanting to watch. Two I thought I'd share with you were Food, Inc. and SuperSize Me. They were both quite good and both available via streaming from Netflix. (You can also get them sent to you via DVD.)
Food, Inc. is basically a movie synopsis of The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. It was a fabulous overview of where our food comes from, how the animals that provide our food are cared for, and what is going into our "processed" foods. At ages 10 and 13, both of my children found the movie quite compelling and thought provoking. Since I've been working towards improving our diets and sourcing our food locally, this movie helped the kids understand my decisions. I highly recommend watching this movie if you have any curiosity about the food industry.

SuperSize Me is pretty well known, but I'd resisted watching it because I'd heard that it specially picked McDonald's to the exclusion of other fast food restaurants and I didn't like that concept. Morgan Spurlock did feature McDonald's in his month-long experiment, but only because it is the most ubiquitous of the fast food chains, not because it is unique in the industry. This movie takes a hard look at just how much processed food has become part of our daily lives and just how much of it our children are eating. Rather than condemning one particular fast food chain, Mr. Spurlock really wants us to take a long, hard look at how much processed food has entered our diets and what it is doing to our overall health. You can watch SuperSize Me for free at

After watching both these movies, I can honestly say that if you'd like a better understanding of the nation's food industry, you won't regret watching them.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Making Your Home Sing Monday...

My friend Mrs M. is married to an active duty military man. Her husband goes overseas a lot (at least in the time that I've known them)--a few times a year for 3-6 months at a time. When she heard Superman leaving five days after Mr. M was leaving, she went down a check list to make sure I knew to do certain things to make things easier during his absence. (Taking Superman's car off the insurance to save all that money - check; getting power of attorney - check.) She also promised me that it was only going to take two weeks before we got into a rhythm without Superman. I figured if she could say that in all confidence while her husband was leaving her with an 11-year old girl, a 9-year old boy, and a 5-week old boy, she must know what she was talking about. I'm glad I filed that away...I held onto it during the kids' meltdowns, the tough bedtimes, and learning to be a Skype-wife. Well, she was was two weeks on Friday and I can honestly say we've found our rhythm. After two weeks of processing and travel, Superman himself has settled into a work schedule a half a world away. We've been blessed to being doing this in a time of incredible technology...we can see each other almost every day! How crazy lucky are we?

As Making Your Home Sing Monday comes around again the Nagle family, near and far, is singing Don't Worry, Be Happy. We've stopped feeling sad and are feeling lucky again. We're settling into the new rhythm of our lives and it is a good one. With Superman settling into his job, we know when we can look forward to a Skype call and we're not afraid we'll miss him. Our school schedules are settling in, too.

Nan talks a lot about how our attitude as keeper of the home determines the quality of the experiences of everyone in the family and this past two weeks has been a reminder of this. Superman and I had many discussions before he accepted his overseas position. We knew it wouldn't be easy. We also knew however, that this was an opportunity he really wanted to pursue. Nobody made him take this job. This separation is not anything anybody did to us. This is a choice we made to further the long-term goals of our family. Making the choice meant we chose to accept the bad with the good.

The last two weeks have reminded us about all the blessings we have in our lives. All I can say is that the bad is just not too bad. Yes, Superman is out of the country for a year. Superman has a job he loves while so many people are struggling to find work. We have terrific neighbors. We live in a lovely home while so many people are struggling to hold on to their homes. We have an awesome family. We're all healthy and thriving while people are grappling with serious medical conditions. We just have so much going for us. How can we not be happy?

Sometimes you have to have patience to get to the other side. You have to have faith in the decisions you've already made and see them through. Just like the two weeks Mrs. M promised me, it all works out. You just have to remember just how lucky you are and be happy with where you are right this very instant.