Around the World: Italy

This month we are focusing on Italian food. It sounds easy, I know, but I am trying to find recipes that are more authentically Italian. The first thing we made was a margherita pizza last week. Normally, we prefer lots of veggies on our pizza, so this was a very different sort of pizza for us to make. But, we got the good mozzarella, used home-grown basil and fresh tomatoes, and made the pizza dough from scratch and it did not disappoint!

 

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See what other foods we have tried:

France: Part 1

France: Part 2 and 3

France: Part 4

Costa Rica: Part 1

Costa Rica: Part 2

Portugal: Part 1

Portugal: Part 2

Jamaica

Czech Republic

 

 

June Books

The only book I actually read in June was Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I finished it while on vacation and I really enjoyed it. It’s about the choices people make to protect the people they love and how relationships aren’t all black and white; in fact, there’s a lot of gray area and different situations work for different people. It was a great read and really gives you something to think about. I would highly recommend it!

June into July

June was a complete blur that included Anya’s 6th birthday and our 2-week California trip. I didn’t get much done this month, but here’s what my list looks like…

Travel:

  • Weekend away with the kids
  • Anniversary weekend away
  • Family vacation Stay tuned for more updates about trip!

Reading:

  • Read 24 books – I have read 19 books so far, but only finished 1 book this month.
  • Read 2 music books - I have read 1 book and just started reading another one.

Writing: 

  • Daily Q&A – I have some catching up to do since I didn’t bring the book with me on vacation.
  • Writer’s Book of Days – I did 7 out of 7 planned prompts.
  • 500 Writing Prompts – I did 3 out of 3 planned prompts.

Spiritual:

  • Do a daily devotional written for Catholic moms – Still keeping up.

Music:

  • Learn at least 6 new popular songs on the guitar or piano. – (4/6)
  • Learn at least 3 new Classical pieces on the piano (0/3).
  • Start recording my songs. I am working on this diligently on this. I am currently working with a lead guitarist to collaborate with on some of my songs.
  • Find at least 5 new songs to use in music therapy sessions - (3/5)
  • Work through Songwriting Without Boundaries - I started the second “course” in April and I’m still working through it. I didn’t get as much done with this as in other months because we were on vacation, but I know I will catch up at some point.
  • Listen to 10 classical music pieces.

Home and Organization:

  • Complete Bonus Room Transformation – We still need to get more things moved out of the room, but it is getting closer.
  • Go through Gmail account – I need to start working on this again.
  • Go through and organize computer files.

Family:

  • Inflatable Fun Factory
  • CMoe
  • Game Night

Financial: I want to continue to save money and to keep our spending in check.

  • Save a specific amount in Travel and Savings Accounts combined – We got to save some in June. 
  • Keep track of “extras” earned from apps, credit cards, rewards, etc. – So far so good.
  • Keep up with a budget as best we can – I didn’t do as well with this in June because we were on vacation for half the month.

Service: 

  • Do at least 6 service projects that may include volunteering, providing a meal at the local Ronald McDonald house, donating items, etc. (1/6)

Miscellaneous:

  • Write a new 101 in 1,001 list.
  • I have started a running list of restaurants I want to try, and I want to eat at 12 of them this year – We didn’t try anything new this month but we are kind of ahead already anyway. (6/12)
  • I plan to cook 12 international meals this year or one international meal a month – We didn’t get to this in June because of vacation, so we will start up again in July with food from Italy.

In June, we celebrated Anya’s birthday and went on a trip to California where we spent 7 nights in San Francisco, 3 nights in Yosemite, and 4 nights in Santa Cruz.

Stay tuned for more information about what we did!

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May into June

I can’t believe we are almost halfway through the year already. I have deleted the things that I’ve already done in previous months so that the list is a little shorter. Here’s what we did this month and what is still left on the list:

Travel:

  • Weekend away with the kids
  • Anniversary weekend away
  • Family vacation –We are going to San Francisco in June.

Reading:

  • Read 24 books – I have read 18 books so far.
  • Read 2 music books - I have read 1 book and just started reading another one.

Writing: 

  • Daily Q&A – I am still keeping up with this.
  • Writer’s Book of Days – I did 7 out of 7 planned prompts.
  • 500 Writing Prompts – I did 3 out of 3 planned prompts.

Spiritual:

  • Do a daily devotional written for Catholic moms – Still keeping up.

Music:

  • Learn at least 6 new popular songs on the guitar or piano. – (3/6)
  • Learn at least 3 new Classical pieces on the piano (0/3).
  • Start recording my songs. I am working on this. I’ve finished one recording and working on finishing up another. 
  • Find at least 5 new songs to use in music therapy sessions - (3/5)
  • Work through Songwriting Without Boundaries - I started the second “course” in April and I’m still working through it. 
  • Listen to 10 classical music pieces.

Home and Organization:

  • Complete Bonus Room Transformation – We still need to get more things moved out of the room, but it is getting closer.
  • Go through Gmail account – I need to start working on this again.
  • Go through and organize computer files.

Family:

  • Inflatable Fun Factory
  • CMoe
  • Game Night

Financial: I want to continue to save money and to keep our spending in check.

  • Save a specific amount in Travel and Savings Accounts combined – We got to save some in May. 
  • Keep track of “extras” earned from apps, credit cards, rewards, etc. – So far, so good.
  • Keep up with a budget as best we can – We are still doing well with this, but something got screwed up with some of the items so I know they’re not as accurate as they were, but I plan to keep tracking things the best I can.

Service: 

  • Do at least 6 service projects that may include volunteering, providing a meal at the local Ronald McDonald house, donating items, etc. (1/6)

Miscellaneous:

  • Write a new 101 in 1,001 list. The current one expires in May. - I finished this and started working on it.
  • I have started a running list of restaurants I want to try, and I want to eat at 12 of them this year – We didn’t try anything new this month but we are kind of ahead already anyway. (6/12)
  • I plan to cook 12 international meals this year or one international meal a month – We made a Czech meal this month. 

May was incredibly busy:

  • We celebrated Mother’s Day and spent part of the day painting at Fired Up. I had never been there before, but it was really fun.
  • Eric ran a 50k in the middle of May and the kids and I met him in Brown County after Anya’s soccer game, so we could camp. Unfortunately, it also happened to be ridiculously cold that weekend. We slept in hats and sat around the campfire in our winter coats. It was fun, but I was disappointed that it was so cold. We hope to go camping again at a later date. The following day we visited a big cat rescue center and it was really amazing. If you are ever near Bloomington, IN, you should check it out!

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I broke down and registered for the 10-mile River Run about a week before the race. I wrote about my rambling thoughts here.

Rachel - River Run

  • Anya finished up her spring soccer season and school is out for the summer now. She also played on a violin recital this month.
  • We picked strawberries toward the end of the month and were able to freeze some for the rest of the year.

 

  • I have been writing more and more, including writing song lyrics. It has been so long since I’ve felt this creative, so I’m hoping this feeling lasts!

How was May for you?

May Books

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Here’s what I read this month:

1. My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb – This book was written in a very different writing style than I’m used to, but I did enjoy it. It was about a woman who goes back to her hometown in Scotland, reunites with an old flame, and waits for her missing best friend to return home. It brings up lots of interesting issues and was a good read.

2. The Lemongrass Hope by Amy Impellizzeri - This was a book about the what-ifs one has always wondered about. The main character has a chance to do it all over again and make a different choice. The characters were believable and the story line involved the choices she made about romantic relationships when she was younger and what could have happened had she chose differently.

3. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - This is a story about all the mommy wars you always hear about or experience and how things get out of hand. It is also about how things are not always what they seem. There are several serious issues that come up in this book that are eye-opening and offer up interesting discussions.

My favorite book this month was definitely The Lemongrass Hope. I liked all the books I read this month, but that one had such an interesting story line and was about something that I think most people have at least wondered about.

What did you read this month?

Around the World: Czech Republic

This month we had Czech food. Czech food typically involves meat and meals generally aren’t healthy, but they are actually pretty savory.

We had roasted pork, yeast dumplings, and sauerkraut. We are generally not big fans of sauerkraut but I didn’t mind it so much when we had it in Europe. I guess the flavors are just different when they cook it there. It wasn’t difficult to prepare the food but it took some time. The pork was rubbed with a mix of different things and then roasted in the oven for awhile. The yeast dumplings took awhile but the kids loved them. Anya kept talking about how much she loved the dumplings. The sauerkraut was simple but involved cooked bacon so it was a process. Also, once the meat came out, we had to take the juice and add some corn starch to it while it simmered on the stove so that we had a sort of sauce or gravy to put on the pork and the dumplings. All in all, it turned out pretty well!

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Check out what other meals we have made in 2016:

France: Part 1

France: Part 2 and 3

France: Part 4

Costa Rica: Part 1

Costa Rica: Part 2

Portugal: Part 1

Portugal: Part 2

Jamaica

Ramblings During a 10-Mile Race

I didn’t commit to the 10-mile River Run in my city until, like, 8 days before the race. The River Run is a 10-mile trek that crosses a bridge from Kentucky into Indiana. I trained for this race a little, but definitely not as much as last year and I wasn’t very serious about it. I also got around 5 and a half hours of sleep each night the week before, so that didn’t help matters. Nonetheless, I ended up beating my time from last year by about 10 minutes and I ran the whole thing, so I was happy. However, I mostly ran by myself and had lots of thoughts running through my head. It’s really weird what you think about when you have almost 2 hours of running ahead of you. Keep in mind that this race started around 7 so I may or may not have been fully awake when I started running. I also may not have remembered what happened during which mile but this is a rough idea.

Mile 1

I’m feeling pretty good….about 5 seconds into the race and before we even got to the start line. Not bad.

Unfortunately, the entire first mile was hills. Whose idea was this?

Mile 2

I’m getting passed left and right, but that’s ok. When (some of) those people tire out early and end up walking, I can maybe pass them later. Either way, who cares?

Mile 3

Man, runners are a strange bunch and we generate a lot of random noise. People are panting and out of breath, but that’s a given. Others are having a philosophical conversation about life….like we’re walking around the neighborhood instead of running 10 miles. Really? You’re gonna discuss this right now? I hear people’s noise from their headphones, but I’m not complaining because I turned Mumford and Sons on in my earbuds before the end of the first mile.

Mile 4 

Why do ramps always have an incline? I’ve never noticed them before but they are huge. What the heck?

Mile 5

So there’s this kid walking the opposite way carrying a bag I can only assume is food. Is it bad that I kind of want to take that bag away from him, even if it means attacking him? Oh, wait. It’s a McDonald’s bag. Never mind….doesn’t sound good at the moment. But seriously, I think this kid needs a police escort to wherever he is going because someone is going to attack him and take his food. There are 3,000 people running in this race today and I guarantee, we are all hungry. I feel sorry for that kid. Later, when I told my husband about this kid, he asked me if he was really there…Honestly, I don’t know, but I still wonder if he made it safely to his destination.

Mile 6

Oh, geez…I was feeling good but man, I’m getting tired of this.

Mile 7

I swear someone is moving these mile markers. They are much further apart than they were before. And why the heck do you need an incline when you get off the highway, too?

Mile 8

OMG. All of a sudden, the side of my big toe on my left foot is burning. It is rubbing against my shoe and it must be bleeding or something. Oh, crap. Now it’s the toe on my right foot. And I can’t feel my legs. Everything is starting to fall apart! How do I still have 2 miles left?!

Mile 9

Ok, we must be getting close. All the crazy people who have already finished the race are running back in to find their friends and run the rest of the way with them. Who does that? Freaks…

Mile 10

Why is the entire last mile a slow and gradual incline. Ridiculous! Where is that stupid finish line and who keeps moving it further away? In other news, these girls in front of me have really fun shirts that say things like “Are my kids still chasing me?” and “I run because I really like food.” I need one of those.

Finish

I finally made it….too bad I can’t feel my legs still. Where’s the food? Oh, wait. My friend is still running. Maybe I’ll go back and find her and run part of the rest of the way with her. Am I an idiot? I just called those people crazy.

All in all, I am glad that I ran it, even though getting up at 5:15 in the morning wasn’t fun, I had stomach problems for several hours afterwards, and my legs were super sore. It still feels pretty awesome to say I ran 10 miles!

Rachel - River Run

Today

Today I should be 40 weeks pregnant. I don’t have any delusions, though. Yes, today I would have been 40 weeks pregnant with our third child, but I know she wouldn’t have shown up for at least several more days, given my track record. I am grateful that I have been able to keep my weight down and that my stomach is flat(ish), but I really wish I was carrying our baby. I’m excited about our 2-week venture to California next month, but I wish I was planning a maternity leave instead. While it is nice that I won’t be losing money on a maternity leave or have medical bills associated with a pregnancy this summer, I know that things would have worked out if we had been able to keep the baby.

This day (May 19) may mean something significant to other people for completely different reasons (this also happens to be the day that a friend of mine passed away in a car accident 10 years ago), but most people will live this day the way they do any other. For me, this day has been etched in my mind since we found out we were pregnant the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. It is the date that I planned the rest of my year around. Even though our baby has already been lost over 7 months ago and was buried in April, this date will forever be in my memory.

I’m not writing this to gain sympathy or in an attempt to make anyone feel sorry for me. I’m writing this because I want people to be aware that this kind of thing happens all. the. time. And a lot of times, no one even knows about it. In fact, I guarantee that you know someone this has happened to. You know someone who has cried numerous times a day for months because she lost the baby she wanted so badly. You know someone who measures the months that come after based on where she should be in her pregnancy. You know someone who thinks about the unborn baby she lost every single day. You know someone who had to suffer and grieve in silence because society tells her she shouldn’t talk about things that are hard. Even if you don’t realize it, you know someone who does this.

I am telling you this so you will remember to be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle; you just may not know about it. But it is still very real to the person fighting it.

You may not know what to say if someone tells you they have had a miscarriage, but I can tell you that what helped more than anything were two statements:

1. “I have had a miscarriage. I understand.”

2. “I can’t possibly understand all that you are going through and I don’t know what to say, but I’m sorry.”

What is not helpful is silence. I read an article recently that said “your silence is deafening” and that is so true. I can’t think of a better way to say it. When people who are close to you don’t even acknowledge that there was a child, it hurts. It is an awkward situation for many people, but I’m telling you that acknowledging the loss, even when the person didn’t know what to say, was much more comforting than ignoring it.

So I am giving you a challenge:

Be kind to someone today. In fact, go out of your way to be kind.

Try to really be present when you are with people.

Notice if something seems off for them. Even if you aren’t comfortable asking them or they aren’t comfortable telling you what’s going on, just letting someone know that you see them goes a long way.

Someone you know may be going through something that you have no knowledge of, and just one act of kindness can make such a difference.

A New Adventure

I have briefly written about doing a travel school program. Well, I finished over a month ago and signed a contract to be a home-based travel agent with an agency just a few weeks ago. This means I am able to start planning and booking trips, so please keep me in mind if you need some help booking a vacation. You don’t even have to live near me; I can book trips for anyone anywhere. Also, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Even if you are only needing certain things for a trip, I still might be able to help you out. You can contact me through my Contact Page.

I have actually seen some really great deals come up for this summer, so if by chance you are still looking for a great deal on something for this summer, contact me as soon as possible and we can get something set up for you!

 

 

April Books

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1. The Life Intended by Kristen Harmel

This was an interesting read, and the main character was a music therapist, so that was interesting to read about. In the book, the main character has dreams of what her life would have been like had her husband not died in an accident. The book had its sad moments but had a very hopeful message, and I liked how it all came together in the end.

2. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

This is yet another dystopian novel having to do with an alien invasion, though it isn’t a hokey alien invasion. It is part of a trilogy. It was alright, but I’m not sure I will finish the trilogy anytime soon.

3. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

This was a short but intense read about a Nigerian refugee who makes her way to the United Kingdom and a British woman she meets on a Nigerian beach. The “beach scene” in the book is really disturbing, as is the whole book, if I’m being honest. That being said, it was an interesting read in light of what is going on with the Syrian refugees fleeing persecution. I feel like everyone should read this book right now, so they can see things from a different perspective.

4. Rhythmic Medicine by Janalea Hoffman

I saw Janalea present at a conference a couple of years ago, which is why I bought her book. It is several years old but still has some very vital information that I can both use in my work and for my own personal benefit. She gives lots of ideas for how to use music to lower blood pressure and improve daily functioning, among other things. I’m hoping to try some of the exercises this summer.

My favorite book this month was probably Little Bee. It is a book club read and I can’t wait to discuss it this week.

What have you read this month?

 

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