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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Progress

I am on fire with this 30 Before 30 deal.  In the past few weeks, I've knocked out two more items from my list:

11. Clear the junk out of our back flower beds and replace it with something edible (tomatoes, peppers, piles of Snickers bars?  I don't know)

13. Have a bright red front door


Instead of being an overgrown mass of weeds, the garden area in our back yard is now an actual garden!  With actual produce living in it!  My apologies to those of you who hoped I would really put piles of Snickers bars back there.  

The garden runs the length of our back yard and is about two feet deep (from the fence to a brick retaining wall thing), so we had quite a bit of space available.  With the help of a very kind person who knew what he was doing, we planted strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, red and green bell peppers, Roma tomatoes, yellow squash, and zucchini.  Hooray!  


I thought I would wait to post about this until I could take some pictures of nice, thriving plants.  But I'm sort of scared they will never reach that point.  I've kept them alive for almost three weeks now, and that alone is a record for me, so I'm counting this as a success as far as the 30 Before 30 list is concerned.


The front door, however, is quite picture-worthy.  Even Ben is a fan:



I'm making strides toward the goal of reading 25 books in a year, too.  I'm about halfway there, but I wanted to go ahead and share my reviews for those of you who are looking for some good summer reads.  I'm too lazy to post real reviews (plus I don't think any of you would actually read them, now would you?), so I'm just giving you the advice of "READ IT," "read it," or "don't bother."  I'll elaborate if you ask nicely, but here's what you get for now:


1. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver - read it
2. Clay's Quilt by Silas House - READ IT
3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - READ IT
4. The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun with Paul Hattaway - don't bother (and I feel bad for saying that because I promise I am in favor of evangelism in China, but I really did not enjoy reading this book)
5. Parenting the Fussy Baby and High-Need Child by William Sears - read it (you know, if you have a superbly clingy child and need some encouragement)
6. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck - read it
7. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin - READ IT
8. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon - read it
9. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - READ IT
10. Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos - READ IT (this one was surprisingly good - don't be fooled by the cover art)
11. Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules edited by David Sedaris - don't bother (with a few notable exceptions - I loved the short story by Lorrie Moore)
12. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - READ IT

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stream of consciousness, stream of snot

Today's post is dedicated to the constant river of goo that has connected Ben's nostrils to his upper lip since Friday. Wiping said goo with a tissue is a joke, since he gets so mad that he snorts out a fresh batch of it immediately. And don't even get me started on trying to use the bulb syringe. He's handled his sort-of sickness like a champ, though. I think it's starting to drain down his throat now (which I always think is the worst part when I get sick), and that's not fun, but maybe it signals the end of this yuckiness?

Last week, Daniel and I helped with the 5th grade class at our church's VBS. Our group of kids was fabulous, and three of them became Christians. Woot! I have to admit that I had been dreading the week because of Ben. He had to be in the nursery for five nights in a row from 5:30-8:30. He is usually asleep by 8:30. And historically, he doesn't love being in the nursery, as being there means not being with me. He's maybe a little clingy. Just to add to the fun, he was teething. But that little man surprised me and actually had a good time. He wasn't even crying when I picked him up at the end of each night. I know that doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was a major breakthrough for us.

Ben is trying reallllly hard to crawl. He has all the individual mechanics down -- pulling with his upper half, propelling with his lower half, getting up on his knees, lifting his tush -- but can't quite figure out how to time everything. He can usually still get where he wants to go, but not always:
Oh, the perils of near-mobility.

After last month's amazing adventure into frequent cooking, I have fallen off the wagon. I've hardly cooked at all recently, yet I've still managed to deplete my grocery budget. Oops.

On Sunday night, a youth choir from Texas sang at our church. We housed two seventh-grade girls from the group, and they were hilarious. They talked a lot but never got on my nerves even a little. If you've ever spent more than a few minutes with seventh-grade girls, you understand my surprise. And they both had red hair. I think red hair is pretty cool :)

And finally, I leave you with Ben's newest trick:

video

Monday, June 14, 2010

The resemblance is a bit disturbing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One down!

When I went to bed last night, I successfully completed an item on my "30 Before 30" list.  Now numero sixteen looks like this:


16. Eat out zero times for a full month

This was one of a few items on the list that Daniel was not so excited about, but certain life circumstances made it seem like a good one to tackle ASAP.  Namely, the Tax Fairy (who used to leave nice, fat refunds for us) ran off with all our money.  Apparently we weren't letting the government withhold neeeeearly enough of Daniel's paychecks (am I the only one who is clueless about this stuff?).  Between that and the fact that Daniel has recently gone back to school, the Wiginton family's budget has taken some serious hits.  


But what do you do when life hands you lemons?  You look online for a recipe that calls for lemons!



At the beginning of the month, Daniel and I had a little back-and-forth to determine what exactly constituted eating out, and the most reasonable definition I could think of was paying someone else to prepare food for us.  That still leaves room for debate -- like when nice Mrs. Mollie at church learns what you're doing and says, "What if I buy you dinner and bring it to your house?"  But since I wasn't exactly sure what "the principle of the thing" was in this little experiment, I just tried to stick to every possible principle of the thing.  If it seemed questionable to me, I didn't do it.


According to my meticulous records (weekly menus written on Post-It notes), I cooked 22 of the 31 days in May.  The other days, we ate leftovers.  And for the sake of full disclosure, I should confess that we did go to a cookout one night where we were served food from a local BBQ restaurant, and there were several different occasions when Daniel went out to lunch or dinner without Ben and me (not as cruel as it sounds -- it's just part of his job sometimes). 

All month I felt like I was spending ridiculous amounts of money at the grocery store, but we ended up saving about $160 on food, compared to previous months.  That alone is worth the hassle to me.  But there was the added benefit of having to develop more self-control.  Most of the time, I plan to cook dinner, but if I don't feel like it or don't get around to it, I send Daniel out to pick something up for us.  That wasn't an option in May, so I actually had to plan ahead and be slightly less lazy.  Probably a good thing, right?


So what's for dinner tonight?  Pizza.  I know that seems really lame, but it's the one thing I have craved all month.  I tried pretty hard, and we ate pretty well in May, so I didn't miss restaurant food for the most part.  But homemade pizza just isn't the same as the cheap, greasy stuff from a pizza chain.


Just for fun, here were a few of my favorite dishes during my month of eating in:
Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
Beef Enchiladas
Garden Vegetable Crustless Quiche
Curry Chicken Salad
Tangy Pulled Pork Sandwiches