Time for a fresh start

With the help of some good friends and neighbors over the last couple of weeks, we made the transition to a new home and a new city, all a week earlier than we originally planned. In an odd way, it feels like we quietly slipped out of town even though people have known we are moving for quite some time, but the final farewell felt oddly low key. Maybe because we had so much time to think it through, maybe because our closing date was moved up at the last minute or maybe because it was just easier to slip out than to say lots of goodbyes and process the emotions involved with that.

Because we have had our “new” home for almost a month now, we have had time to start to feel accustomed to it. It may not be exactly cozy and organized yet, but our stuff is here and it is slowly starting to feel like home, a different kind of home, but our home nonetheless.

As we make this big change, I’ve also left my “work” life behind too. For my husband, this move had a purpose and brought him closer to his work and made it more possible for him to spend time with the kids more often. All good things. For me, it also means I can spend more time with our kids as well as I no longer have classes to teach in the evening (or the morning, for that matter). In some ways this has been a true blessing. I have been so glad to be able to be at home with our kids in the evenings and not running off to teach classes. We have gone on bike rides, played in the backyard together and just spend some good time together when we haven’t been packing/unpacking, of course.

However, I do miss the interaction with friends and class participants too! And there is that looming question in the back of my mind all the time, “What am I going to do with my life? Do I just get a job or do I really take the time to figure out what my next calling is?” Right now, my answer is, “I just don’t know!” 

So, if you have the magical answer for my “What next?” question, send it my way. If not, that’s OK too, just send a note my way to say hello. I would be happy to pause from unpacking to hear from you.

Ashley Judd

PHOTO: Ashley Judd visits Portage.
Our whole family walked a few blocks (some of them a bit grudgingly, but they’ll remember it forever…) to see Ashley Judd at the local Democratic Campaign Headquarters. I have always been a fan of hers and she cemented that for me when she wrote an amazing piece on her web site regarding women and the public discussion of our bodies in response to negative public comments about her appearance. (She is still stunningly beautiful even without photoshop!) Women should read it regardless of your political leanings: http://ashleyjudd.com/2012/04/10/the-conversation/.

My favorite tidbit of wisdom from her yesterday was her reminder, “What comes from the head goes over the head, but what comes from the heart goes straight to the heart.”

So from my heart, I encourage you to read her essay “The Conversation” and consider how often you have critiqued other women both publicly and privately and consider how the knowledge of those critiques BY other women OF YOU have shaped who you are today. We have all experienced it and we may not be able to stop anyone else, but we CAN have the personal integrity to set the example ourselves from here on out.

Recipe Roundup 2011 – Last Recipe – Black Bean Dip

Today’s recipe is the last one for this year’s booklet. Sorry for the delay, but I’ve been trying to get a teensy bit of sleep on occasion.

This recipe comes from my friend Becky’s Mom, JoAnne. I spent many overnights at Becky’s house growing up and her Mom always had great treats and meals. JoAnne made this recipe at a get together my Mom was at, and then my Mom made it for our family. It reminds me of the Black Bean Hummus at the Willy Street Coop in Madison and it is very good!

Black Bean Dip

Recipe Roundup – Day 18 – Main Dishes

Weary of turkey leftovers? If so, you can try out these non turkey recipes from Krista that sound excellent!

I think that we are near the end (or at the end) of our submissions for this year. I’ll double-check tomorrow and make sure I didn’t have any others lurking in my in box. If you sent one and haven’t seen it yet, send me a message or post a comment here so I know to look for it.

And remember to post and check the comments connected to these recipes. If you love something, let us all know :-) Or if you made a great substitution or modification, share that as well.

I will pull all of the recipes into one file and post that on the exchange page in the next week or so.

Pork Chops with Red Onion Balsamic Sauce & Hawaiian Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Our family’s holiday tradition

Some couples seem to have no problem merging their holiday traditions together and everyone is happy. Not to say that we aren’t happy here (oh because, yes, that’s ALWAYS the case ;-)), but it’s been a challenge to provide our kids with a regular holiday tradition for our own little family as our plans change every other year. Good, bad or otherwise, I wanted to find some way for our kids to have a tradition to remember that was just “us” four.

And thus, our expanded Advent Calendar tradition began. As a kid I remember the fun little paper calendars with pictures behind the little doors, or sometimes the ones with the waxy chocolates inside. I think I ate that chocolate then, but even then knew it wasn’t “good” chocolate. No our new Advent tradition calendars are less waxy chocolate and MORE activity and togetherness (in theory)! I think I started this either the year after we moved here or the following. There are TONS of resources on the internet for this kind of activity. One of the early years, I just used paper chain rings and the kids could pull one off each day to find out what the activity or item of the day was. We’ve been lucky to crossover our tradition with good friends here as well so some days involve activities that build in our friends as well.

In one of his better gift shopping moments, my husband picked up this fun “Santa’s Stockings” Advent Calendar on a Christmas Eve shopping trip with my Dad at Bekah Kate’s. (That’s one of their traditions together too!) Since then, we’ve used it every year.

Want more great Advent Activity Calendar ideas, check out Skip to My Lou for more.

Generally, I plan out the activities for the whole 24 days in advance. Yet, it starts tomorrow and I’ve only gotten so far as to hang up the Advent Calendar and not fill it with anything yet so this might be a “midnight the night before” kind of year, I guess. Either way, the kids look forward to it and honestly, so do I! You know what I’ll be up to late tonight after I return from Zumba class.

May the spirit of the season and all the little things about it fill you with joy!