Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Return of Hockey!

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My life is not all glum... especially with hockey returning!

It is almost surprising how much I really do enjoy this sport. I have had a couple conversations trying to explain this fascination with hockey to others who don't enjoy, and it is difficult to do!

One thing is that it is a fast paced game, with very little boring time as the game is going on. Football and baseball have boring moments while you are waiting for the set up or for the pitch. I feel like I could have one of those games on in the background while I did something else- not hockey. You have to be watching the puck constantly, as it shifts from side to side frequently in any given minute of the game.

It is an exciting game, because a goal could happen at any moment while the game is going on. Even the last few seconds of a period or a game are crucial- I have personally seen goals scored in these last few remaining seconds. For example, the game we went to on Saturday, the Ducks scored when there was only slightly more than 30 seconds left in the period. Basically, if there is time on the clock, there is time to score.

Even with that said, it is a challenging game. It is a high scoring game if a team gets 6 points in the 60 minutes of play time, and that is a rare occurrence. Usually the teams score 3 points or less, which adds to the excitement, because every point counts that much more.

Also, there is a certain beauty to it, since every shot, block and save is done by players as they skate on the ice. I would bet that it would be much more difficult to do any other sport if the players were also having to keep their balance on ice skates. Plus, it means that even the best players sometimes fall on their own accord- which I am willing to bet is rare in other sports- not pushed, not tackled, just slip and fall.

Another interesting difference, and one that I think is pretty unique to hockey is the amount of time any given player is on the ice before they go back in- it is usually under a minute. Seriously. The announcers start talking about how much they need to switch once it has been over a minute, and I think that this improves the sport in two ways. One, the guys you see on the ice are always at their freshest, best skill level possible. Two, when they are out there, they give it their all, because they know they will get a break soon. I would wager that they skate harder, and play better just because they know they will get to rest soon, and what other sport can guarantee that?

More than anything though, is how invested I get in the Ducks games I watch. This is not something I can explain, it is just a feeling, and one that both Blake and I have had since our first game together. We are emotionally involved with the game. We get frustrated and yell at the TV when the other team scores, or our team loses the puck, and we get excited and yell and high five each other when they do score. A game that the Ducks win gives us a high for the night, where we are both excited and talk about all the best moves in the game that helped us win. A game that the Ducks lose puts us both in a sour mood, and we rehash all of the things that if they were different, maybe they could have won. Point being, we care. Not sure why... but we really do.

No other sport has ever made me care. I have watched a variety of sports over the years, mostly when someone else has them on, or it is the Olympics, but I watch as a passive bystander. I usually don't care who wins, and I'll appreciate the skillful moves, but at the end of the day, no matter who wins, I have already moved on. (Sadly yes, even with the Olympics- I want the U.S. to win, but I generally don't get too disappointed if we don't, I think good for that country).

So, while Grace isn't home yet, we do have hockey back, and the Ducks are doing pretty well! They won their first two games, beautifully, and we were very excited for the season. They had a bad loss last Friday, but they won on Saturday- the game we attended. Oh, and that game was VERY exciting and nerve racking. The two teams were evenly matched, and when the regulation time ended we were tied two to two. So we went into overtime, still no score. Then came the shootout, which the Ducks won! Such a great end to a hard fought game.

Tuesday's game was a bit of a downer, but not too bad. The Ducks were ahead for a good portion of the game, but with a few minutes left in the game, the Sharks scored to tie it. It again went into overtime, and then a shootout, but this time the Sharks won the shootout. However, the Sharks are currently an undefeated team, and the Ducks were the first to make them go into overtime, so it wasn't all bad. Plus, in hockey, if you lose in overtime, you still get a point in the rankings (instead of two for a win), so it wasn't a couple disappointment.

Anyways, next game is Friday, and you can be sure I'll be watching.

p.s. Thank you for all of the kind support and comments on my last post, which admittedly was not my happiest, nor written in the best mood. I am doing okay, I know it will happen eventually, it is just a hard journey, and I decided to write on one of the harder days. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Worse than a Lack of News

I recently reread my December 11th post and was almost irritated by the optimism by the person posting it (I know it was me, but it truly feels like a different me that made that post).

I am a basically trusting person, I am. I realize not everyone is truthful, but it would be too depressing to live my life that way, so I choose to accept what people say at face value 9 out of 10 times.

The December 11th Lisa believed that what we had been told, in Ghana, by one of our representatives, was true. He said he could get a passport for a baby in 4 days. 4 days! You can see why I thought that it would be practically no time to get Grace's passport and then get her last few steps taken care of. I, at this point, was way more concerned about the visa pick up at that moment than the passport, thinking that could be a delay because of holidays, but that went smoothly.

Then December 11th Lisa had a bit of a let down, when the other Ghana contact said that the passport would be ready in January. This was disappointing, but not too bad, because based on what the first guy had said, I thought early January, like first few days in January.

To this end, I checked back in early January with the same person who said he thought the passport would be ready in January, and this time, he said he started processing the passport but it could be a few months, but hopefully soon. Disappointing... but I figured that he still thought it could be any day, and at least he sent it out (this passport paperwork that could take as little as 4 days if the first guy was correct).

Last Friday, the 25th, I checked back with the same guy that I mentioned the last two times, as, you know, it is almost the end of January, with no information or updates, at all. What he said sadly makes me wonder if I am crazy being a trusting person.

He said, basically, that he had two other steps to do before processing the passport (two steps that we hadn't been told about by anyone up to now, including from him) and he was working on the second of these two before steps and that this step (before processing the passport) can take up to 3 months, but that he hopes it will go faster. ... Oh, and he can't start passport processing until this middle step is done.

I truly don't get it. January 3, I'm told it has been processed, they are just waiting, and now, on the 25th I hear that it could be MONTHS before processing starts?

I want to be trusting... but something is wrong here. Somewhere we were mislead and given incorrect information. Someone is not being honest. Bottom line being... she still isn't home. She probably won't be home in the next few weeks. Blake is hoping for by the end of February, but for once, he is more of the optimist here than I am. I am hoping by my birthday in April.

Day to day, I am trying to keep the attitude of my last post, that it does me no good to sit around and mope and wonder what might have been if we had known this before. That my time is better off spent doing things around the house, and relaxing, and enjoying this time.

But at the same time, as it drags on, I feel guilty. Truly.

I feel guilty that my administrators had to work so hard and so fast to get a replacement for me, based on the December 11th Lisa.

I feel guilty that my students, who deserved a full year with the same teacher, haven't had me for this last month, and won't have me as their teacher during this time it drags on.

I feel guilty that my mother and mother in law worked hard to make sure that I had everything necessary before my shower because it seemed like she might arrive before the shower, and now... we will probably have the shower first after all.

I feel guilty that since our plan is for me to stay home until preschool time, we are already going to be on one income for a while, and I am costing us this second income early.

I feel guilty that there is little I can do to earn extra money during this time because I have really little to no idea how long it will be and any job could possibly have to stop so short, it isn't worth starting.

I feel guilty that I can't even substitute at my school because I think it would be unfair to my students to have me be there, on campus, in another classroom, not with them.  

I feel guilty that we got everyone's hopes up, including ours, when we were so clearly warned that the normal length of the process is 8-10 months from referral. Why did we think we would so beat the odds?

I know, logically, I can't feel guilty, because December 11th Lisa was operating on what she knew at the time... but it is easier to focus on the emotion of guilt that that of anger and frustration.

There is a little girl, in Ghana, who HAS parents, and her own room, and a house, and toys and HER OWN clothes that she doesn't have to share with anyone, and she can't be here enjoying it. She is stuck in an orphanage, with multiple caregivers and communal clothes and toys, nothing really to call her own.

This girl, who was just learning to stand when we saw her in November is learning more every day, and growing every day. She could be walking and talking, but we have no idea, we have no information, no updates. Every day that she is stuck there, she is outgrowing the clothes that we and others lovingly bought for her. We are missing her moments! She is missing the experience of having parents see her moments!

For what? Because of someone not processing things fast enough? Or because governments have so many frustrating hoops to jump through? Isn't it enough that we have proof that we are her parents? Why can't we just fly to Ghana and take her home? Why does there have to be I-600s and visa packet pickups and visa interviews and passports and visas? Who makes these rules? Why don't they care that there is a child, who needs parents, who has people who love her, and have some super expedited easy system to get her with her parents?

I wish I could say that I fully endorse adopting as the best way to build your families. I know at the end of the day, I am thankful to give her a home and become her mom. But the adoption process is ridiculous. I don't know where the blame lies. I know that many of these rules are there to ensure that no one does something illegal or unethical. The lack of a "normal" timeline is difficult. The lack of control, the lack of information, the inability to speed things up are all frustrating.

It sounds so simple, outside of context. We want to be parents to a child who has none. Simple, beautiful, rational. Something that everyone would agree is a good thing.

In context, we are suffering through a long, drawn out, complicated, expensive, lots of waiting, frustrating process just because we want to be parents to a child who has none. In context, not so simple. 

Sigh. So, there is my update. Sorry it isn't cheerier. Sorry to let everyone down with really, worse than a lack of news, we "officially" have a delay. Sigh. I'll make my next post more upbeat. But it probably won't be about adoption. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Calm Before the Storm

One week from tomorrow is the last day of January. We were told by our contact in Ghana that he expected our daughter's passport would be ready in January. So, he still has about a week to be correct. Then, the longer it takes, the more it can really be any day (not that it hasn't for the last three weeks...).

As I was taking a walk this morning I was reflecting on this time.

This time of my life that I don't have a job, but don't have my daughter home yet. The time where I have most of the day to do as I please, as long as I do something productive. The time that is like summer, with each day providing ample time for me to relax, read, watch TV, etc. but in some ways, even better than summer, because I don't have plans for my room or for the next school year lurking in my mind, taking away from my relaxing attitude.

I decided today that it is like the calm before a storm.

I really experienced the calm before the storm on that run, a few weeks ago, when it started raining on me, because before it hit, everything was really quiet. Nobody was around, and for a time, even the wind was somewhat still. I didn't appreciate it enough. See, the trouble with the calm before the storm is that it is always followed by a storm. Most of the time, you don't enjoy the calm, because you keep wondering when the storm will hit. We get so concerned with the upcoming storm that we don't notice or enjoy the fact that for now, there is no storm. For now, I'm not being rained on. For now, I am not running against the wind.

Just like me, the last few weeks. I have a calm time in my life. More calm than I have experienced in a long time. Wait, scratch that. I literally can not remember a time in my life that was as calm as far as obligations go as right now.

Elementary school, Junior high, and High school were all inherently not calm because it was school time, maybe those summers, but I don't really remember them that well, and I was frequently taking some kind of summer school class just to get ahead. Also, in high school, I usually was working in the summer, if not year around. Add to that the fact that cross country took place early fall, which meant the practices were in the summer, so for the first few years of high school especially, not calm.

I did take a stand the summer between high school and college to purposely not take any classes, but if memory serves, I did have a job during that time. So no, not obligation free.

College, especially with me graduating early, was very full of obligations in my classes, and I spent summers either working, taking another class (or two) or doing things to boost my future resume.

After I graduated I jumped into a combination teaching credential and masters, and the masters portion started that summer, and finished the following summer with the credential in between. Definitely a full year there (especially as I was planning my wedding during this time).

After my masters was finished I got my teaching job, which kept me busy for the last 6 and a half years. As I mentioned above, sure there were summers and Christmas break etc., but as any teacher will tell you, the breaks in the school year usually are filled with tasks we have been putting off. Also, the students may get close to three months off in the summer. Teachers really don't. I would spend most of June finishing up the year, taking things off the walls, cleaning up etc., and then starting in August, I would be back in the class getting set up for the next year!

July was fairly free, but not obligation free. It was more prepping for August, or getting the stuff done at home that I had been putting off.

All this to say, being in the state I am in now, is somewhat strange. Like the calm before the storm, it feels off, but mostly because I haven't experienced this amount of no obligations before. And I definitely haven't been enjoying it as much as I should. I keep looking to when will she be home, I want her home, it is time for her to be home.

But today, as I walked, I realized something that I have been told for months, if not years. Life will change, drastically, and forever once she arrives. It will be sweet, there will be good moments, but it will be a storm. A challenge. Stressful. I will wish for time to myself. I will wish for time to read, uninterrupted. I will wonder if I will ever finish a novel again (all conjectures, but based on what other people have told me). I will wish for time to watch my shows, since I don't want her watching TV until she is at least 2 or 3.

In that moment, I decided something. I need to stop spending this time moping and wishing that she was here already. I need to stop wondering why I am not teaching, when she clearly isn't here yet, and I could have still been working. I need to stop feeling like my days are empty.

This is a gift, this calm before the storm. I need to embrace it. Get myself to the library and instead of reading good for me books about parenting, get myself some hearty novels to sink my teeth into.

The storm will come. It is truly only a matter of time. Even though there have been days that I have seriously wondered if her passport will ever arrive, I know I had the same thoughts about getting a referral in the first place. But it happened. Just like the passport will eventually happen. She will, in God's perfect timing, come home. Until then, I have this gift of freedom, and I need to treat it as such.

Now... what should I read first...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dress Finished!

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Before we left for Ghana I started sewing this dress for Grace, with the thought of adding it to the small amount of clothes we had for her, especially since my friends were saying that I needed to have a couple changes of clothes a day (this is back when we thought she would be with us for the week). Then I found out that we got to visit her, but not have her with us full time.

I abandoned this project, totally just set it aside, and didn't work on it again until last week.

Last weekend I was cleaning up my sewing supplies, fabrics etc. and it made me realize that I missed sewing. There is something about creating something real out of what used to just be cloth that I really enjoy. Not only that, here was this beautiful dress, cut and started for my little girl that I totally stopped working on. I decided to finish it!

I think it turned out pretty good. You can tell it is homemade if you look at it closely, especially one part on the back where I slightly messed up the ruffle and it goes a little higher than the rest of the side, but I will not be embarrassed to have her seen in it. I hope that she still fits in it by the time she gets home (still no passport- sad) but even if it has to become a top instead of a dress, I think she can still wear it, and I am very proud of it. I LOVE the pattern, and that is why I bought it, just because it was so cute!

I also (not pictured yet) started working on a set of fabric blocks for Grace. You might recall that I sewed a number of fabric blocks and donated them to the orphanage, and at the time Blake mentioned I should make some for her, so I have started on that project next. I have the "G" block finished, and I am working on the "r" with the remaining three letters still as squares.

Coming up sewing wise, I plan on making something out of the kente cloth I bought in Ghana, and finding more fun things to do with the tons of fabric that I own that calls out to me to do something fun with it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gonna cook Ghana food - Part 4

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In Ghana, we bought a second Ghana cookbook, and made our first recipe from it on Saturday. It is my favorite homemade Ghana recipe to date. Part of this, I'm sure, is due to our knowing what their food is supposed to taste like, and this recipe was spot on (even if we put in too many beans). We had it Saturday and Sunday (as leftovers) and both times I was super disappointed that I couldn't have more.

It starts with oil. A LOT of oil. Actually, I just read on the Ghana adoption group on facebook that one of their kids (older), when describing recipes in Ghana, always starts with "First you put in the  oil." I was totally thinking about this recipe when I read that!

It take a full cup of oil. And yes, I did think about how even though we were having this for two meals, and two of us eating it, we each had a 1/4 cup of oil with our meal. Depressing. Especially since it means we can't eat this every night. It was that good.

To protect the rights of the cookbook ( The Spice of Ghana Life), I am not posting the whole recipe, or exact details, but a general overview. 

After you pour in the copious amount of oil, you add the spices and tomato paste and then cook for about 10 minutes. My memory of the recipe continued like that until it was done- add something, cook for another 10-15 minutes, add something else, cook, add something else, cook.

We made it our own by adding some ground bison at the end. When Blake ate this in Ghana, he ate it with fish, but they also make it with lamb or goat, I believe, but it tasted good with bison. The flavor is incredible. I have no idea how to describe it, but when I was eating my leftovers, and my bowl was about halfway empty, I started eating it one bean at at time to savor the flavors, and I was still so bummed when it was empty.

In Ghana, it is always served with fried plantains, but we didn't decide to buy those this time, so we just enjoyed it as it was. I wonder what we will try next...

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Friday, January 11, 2013

House work versus School Work

Today is the final day of my first week as a stay at home wife (since I don't count weekends). I feel it has earned me the right to comment on the difference between doing work for school and doing work at home.

First, make no mistake, they are both very much work. While I might have more of an opportunity to just sit at home and read, I know that all that fun would be gone when Blake got home and saw that nothing was done, and I had to explain my actions. So instead, I have been trying to make sure that I do something significant each day. Something that I can point to, and say: I did this. In addition, I have been doing all of the little maintenance tasks that a house needs (dishes, laundry etc. ) For the last few days I have been doing this with a cold, which requires somewhat more effort, as I would be content to lay on the couch and rest.

Even with that said, I was more productive as a teacher, and I have been spending some idle time thinking about why. I think one big difference is the schedule. As a teacher, there was so much information that had to be taught on a daily basis that I didn't have much time to rest, even if I wanted to. The schedule kept cranking along, and I knew that if I didn't use my science time wisely, that science would eat into history time, which would affect spelling time, and on and on. So, for the length of the school day, I was forced to be focused and productive every moment the kids were in the room.

Even with the stuff that had to be done out of the room, I was more productive. This is because it had an end. I might not have LIKED grading 25 math tests, but when I finished grading them, I wouldn't have to grade that test again. Actually, it got me out of grading math tests until two weeks later. Lesson plans, homework, Monday letters, all of it had a definite start and end. When it was ended, I could rest, or read, or relax, knowing that my work was done.

The house is a whole different ball game. The schedule for the day is loose- I get up with Blake, have breakfast with him, then eventually eat a snack, lunch, snack, and then prep for dinner. In between I "get something done" and try to keep up with the maintenance things.  The way the timing of my day falls doesn't matter as long as everything is done before he gets home. This means I can have good days, like Wednesday, where I clean the bathroom thoroughly, reorganize every drawer, all before lunch, but it also means I can have bad days, like Tuesday, when I didn't do anything until after lunch, then realized that dinner took a while and needed to be ready, and effectively did nothing but make dinner for the whole day. Total fail.

I am already trying to figure out a plan to rectify this lack of a good schedule problem, but I am not sure it is worth the time or effort, because once Grace gets home, hopefully soon, we will have a completely different schedule all around her, so this is really only a temporary problem.

The other biggest problem of a stay at home wife, so very different than many other jobs, is that it is very difficult to feel finished. For example, for now, the dish drainer is empty, and there are no dishes waiting to be put in the dishwasher. Small victory. But when I finish this post, I plan on making a snack for myself... which takes dishes... which means they will have to be done... again.

I trying to follow fly lady's instructions (look her up, it's a cool program), and one of the things she says is that any time there is a basket of laundry full, wash it, dry it, and put it away. The idea is that this way, it never becomes too great of a task. The problem is that it never feels done!

It is just a part of taking care of a home, everyone has to do these tasks, I get that. But it is hard to feel motivated when no matter how hard you worked to get laundry done or the kitchen clean, you know that in just a day or two you will have to do it all over again.... and again, ...and again, for the foreseeable future.

These are such petty concerns, I know. There are plenty of women who would love the luxury of staying at home. It is just a big adjustment for me. I want so badly to do a good job for Blake, especially until Grace is home (since I only have the house, and not a child to care for) but at the same time, it is so different than the work schedule that I had for the last 6 and a half years.

Yet, like everything in my life, I am determined, and will continue working at it, and hopefully make him proud.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

wait for the other shoe to drop-
Fig. to wait for the inevitable next step or the final conclusion
I looked up information on this expression, about waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it has its origins from apartment living. The sound of a shoe dropping can be quite loud to the apartment below, and so when they heard the first startling sound of the first shoe, they would wait until they heard the second one before they could relax again.

When we learned about getting our I-600 approval so quickly, that was like the first shoe. Other families (who had to wait longer for the approval, and thus had passports already) are able to take their kids home this week. The I-600 approval step, for most families, means the end is very near.

To that end, my school decided it would be best for me to be at home. Our families have been great at making sure we have all of the things that she will need, in the thoughts she could be home soon.

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Boxes full of stuff for Grace or her room have been arriving daily.

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We have piles of baby/toddler stuff stacked by our door.

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We even have our beautiful, sporty jogging stroller, all assembled and ready.

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Grace's room has been a big project, but it is ready for her as soon as she arrives (even if there are a few decorative things still to go up).

But we are waiting for the other shoe to drop. In this case, her passport. For most people, all they have left at this point is the visa, but there is no where for her visa to go, because her passport isn't ready yet. It could be, any day. We were told by our contact that he expects it to be ready this month, but even he has no control over it at this point. He filed it, and whenever they tell him it is ready, he will tell us. Then we can work on the visa, and it can be really quick from that point.

I was practically raised on musicals, and there is a particular song that has been going through my head a lot lately: "All I Need is the Girl." In the musical, the guy is singing about how he has his whole outfit and routine ready, he just needs the girl to dance with (and then launches into a big dance scene, because, of course, it IS a musical).

Here is the chorus:
Got my tweed pressed
Got my best vest
All I need now is the girl
Got my striped tie
Got my hopes high
Got the time and the place
And I got rhythm
Now all I need is the girl to go with'M
If she'LL
just appear we'll
Take this big town for a WHIRL
For me, it isn't about the tweed or the vest, it is about the room, and the supplies, and the time off work. But all I need now is the girl!

I am also reminded of a section of Oh! The Places You'll Go! Which describes the waiting place:
... you’ll start in to race
down long and wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most usless place
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
NO! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where boom bands are playing.

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! 
Blake can attest, I am no good at waiting. Even if I have to wait for a few minutes without a book or my phone, I get really bored, really quickly.  Especially now that I am off work, the waiting is more a conscious part of my day. I am very aware that I stopped working to be a stay at home mom, not a stay at home wife.

My friends who have experienced pregnancies tell me that this stage isn't so different from the end of a pregnancy. At that point, most people have had their shower, the room is ready, and they know that their due date is close, and yet at any moment they could go into labor. So they too, aren't working, and are wondering every day if that day is when it all gets started.

So here I am, at home, trying to be productive and useful since I am not bringing in income, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I'll end with a country song that came up on my Pandora station, with lyrics that could not be more apt (especially the first chorus):
It won’t be like this for long
One day we'll look back laughin’
At the week we brought her home
This phase is gonna fly by
So baby just hold on
‘Cause it won't be like this for long

Four years later ‘bout 4:30
She's crawling in their bed
And when he drops her off at preschool
She's clinging to his leg
The teacher peels her off of him
He says what can I do
She says now don't you worry
This’ll only last a week or two

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon you'll drop her off
And she won’t even know you're gone
This phase is gonna fly by
If you can just hold on
It won’t be like this for long

Some day soon she'll be a teenager
And at times he'll think she hates him
Then he'll walk her down the aisle
And he'll raise her veil
But right now she's up and cryin’
And the truth is that he don't mind
As he kisses her good night
And she says her prayers

He lays down there beside her
‘Til her eyes are finally closed
And just watchin’ her it breaks his heart
Cause he already knows

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon that little girl is gonna be
All grown up and gone
Yeah, this phase is gonna fly by
So, he's tryin’ to hold on

‘Cause it won’t be like this for long

It won’t be like this for long

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Homemade Yogurt, 1st Attempt

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A couple of different resources agreed that making your own yogurt is more cost effective than buying yogurt, so we decided to attempt it Sunday night.

The basic process was very simple, with minimal ingredients. We took a 1/2 gallon of milk, heated it up to 185 degrees, let it cool to 110, then added 1/4 cup of already prepared yogurt with active cultures.

Meanwhile, we heated our oven up to the lowest setting, then turned it off, and put the 110 milk and yogurt mixture in there with a towel over it overnight.

When we got up Monday morning, sure enough, we had made yogurt (as featured above)!

If we just wanted yogurt, it would have been a raving success... but Blake wanted Greek yogurt. So we had to strain the yogurt to make it thicker. We tried to strain it first with a cheesecloth, as the recipe recommended... but this did not work well for us at all. I don't know if we were supposed to have double layered it, or needed one with smaller holes or what, but let's just say that it didn't seem to stop the yogurt from going through... so it was just moving the yogurt, not straining it!

Another recommendation in the recipe was to strain it through a pillowcase. So, I tried to move the yogurt from the bottom of the strainer and the top of the cheesecloth to the top of the pillowcase to strain it. This worked much better, as what was left this time was just cloudy (from the whey) water and thicker yogurt on top.

This I attempted to scrape into a container.

Notice the use of the words "tried" and "attempted." I say this because between all of the moving of the yogurt, the half gallon worth of milk was reduced to two serving cups of yogurt. Not price effective. We suspect this is due to the large amount that got wasted between the cheesecloth, the bowl, and the pillowcase before the remaining amount was put into a container.

On the upside, it tasted good! We plan on attempting this again sometime, and seeing if we can get a larger yield, so it is actually worth it to do. I also need to look at the prices at the store again of milk and Greek yogurt to determine just how much we need to make before we start saving money.

Either way, it was an interesting experiment, and fun to see the yogurt reveal in the morning!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Role

For the last six and a half years, being a teacher was a part of my identity. It wasn't just my job, it was who I was. Even when I spend time with my friend's kids, I still retained my teacher identity, and felt the need to impart some wisdom, even as we had fun together.

I know that at the core, I will always be a teacher, and as soon as Grace comes home, part of the role of a mom is to teach your child. Not just academic things either, but how to walk, talk, be polite, etc.

Trouble is, as of tomorrow, my role is in limbo. My teaching job is done until I am ready to apply to be a teacher again a few years from now. My mom job doesn't start until Grace comes home. So until then, I am a stay at home wife. I hope to make Blake proud, and especially while I don't have another role, I hope to have him feel like a lot is getting done each day (though I fear my summer habit of wasting days will come back and be my daily foe).

It is truly a strange feeling to have nothing to have to be planning for in the classroom. Even summers and breaks had a component of anticipating the next part of the year, or the next school year.

I am truly excited about my next chapter in life, but at the same time, it was a very strange feeling to have someone else teaching my students, and even stranger to turn in my key at the end of the day Friday.

Reading over this post, I can tell it is more disjointed than most of my posts, but I FEEL disjointed. I am sure I will adjust, but for now, it is like waking up in a strange location and having to get your bearings, remind myself where I am, what I am doing.

I think one of the biggest challenges our family will face from this is figuring out how to adjust to being a one income family. Towards this end, we are looking at where we can cut out, and making more items from scratch. I got a great book called Make the Bread, Buy the Butter where someone already did the grunt work to find out if making your own items is both cost and time effective. Some items she recommends making from scratch, and some she says not cost effective or are such a hassle, they aren't worth it. It is a well written book, and I recommend it.

Last week, we made our own bread:
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
It was surprisingly easy (with our bread maker), tasted great, and as an added bonus, made the house smell AMAZING! It saves a bit every week that we make it, and we hope to make it a habit. Plus, as an added bonus, I found a recipe with more protein than the bread we were buying, which Blake likes. 

This week, we will make our own bread again, and also try making our own yogurt and tortillas!
We did the price comparisons to decide what to buy in bulk, and from where. We are cutting out most of what we can (while keeping a few "luxuries" to keep us happy) in hopes of having the combination of savings and Blake's paychecks carry us until I go back to work again. I feel confident that we can do it!