Sunday, April 30, 2017

Slow Cooker Sunday: Thai-Inspired Slow-Cooker Tilapia

Sunday is the busiest day of our week. The alarm clock goes off at 7:00 so we can get the three of us up and out the door by 9:00 and to our church by 9:15 to check in Hudson before the 9:30 service. At the end of April, this service will be at 9:15, making our day start a bit earlier. We usually get out of the service no earlier than 10:45, and if we are lucky, we are out of the parking lot by 11. Often, we stop by Publix on the way home to pick up deli meat and cheese, a loaf of bread, and a side dish for our lunch paninis, making our return home another thirty minutes later.

We have a few hours at home to eat lunch, take care of household tasks, and let Hudson take a nap before our small group meets at the other church campus at 5 PM. We rarely get home from our small group before 7 PM, and we are all usually starving.

In December, I decided to start making Slow Cooker Sundays a part of our meal plan. Most of the recipes are quick to put together either right before or right after church, and they are generally ready to go with little to no extra preparation when we get home. I can't tell you what a difference it has made to have dinner taken care of when we walk in the door. I generally don't cook when Trevor is out of town, but Slow Cooker Sunday is the exception.

However, my first recipe was an epic flop. Even though I knew I wanted to do a blog post about our first Slow Cooker Sunday, I didn't even take a picture of it because it was so ugly and terrible tasting. Thai-Inspired Slow-Cooker Tilapia was a recipe I tried out of desperation in early December. The tilapia had been in the freezer for two months, and I pulled it out to thaw for dinner earlier in the week. I realized it was too much fish for the original plan, so I made a quick swap to this meal. We had everything on hand except for the fresh basil and the Thai red curry paste. We had just replaced the coil in our HVAC system, so we were tight on money. It had to be cheap - and it was. I spent about $4 picking up the extra ingredients at Kroger. Factoring in the ingredients we had on hand already, I would say this meal probably cost around $10 and made more than the four servings the recipe claims it makes. Trevor and I each ate it twice before tossing the leftovers because they were kind of bland. It definitely isn't a make again meal for us!

Have you ever had a meal flop? A Pinterest fail? Share your story in the comments, and join me next week as I share a Slow Cooker Sunday meal that we all loved.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Happy Birthday, Jenny!

The last time I shared a card on this blog was two years ago today - the day after Hudson was born. I had made the card a few days earlier, and I set up the blog post to publish that Friday because I knew the card would have reached its recipients by then. Once again, I'm setting up the post in advance, but thankfully, I am not anxiously sitting around the house waiting for a baby to be born! Instead, I'm waiting for a toddler to wake up from his afternoon nap.

Fun fact: Hudson and his Aunt Jenny share a birthday. Hudson was due a day earlier, and my water did break at noon on my due date, but he still didn't make his arrival until early the next morning.

I made this card quickly about a week before the shared birthday so we could get it in the mail in time to reach Aunt Jenny in Minnesota. I used some cut apart tags from Elle's Studio that I've had for a long time, and a pre-made card base from MAMBI. I pulled the brown paper from a Pink Paislee 6x6 paper pad and trimmed it to 2.5" wide and 5.5" inches tall. The cut apart elements were mounted on foam tape. I've had everything for at least a year, if not longer. I actually suspect I've had the tags for 8-9 years, and I'd never cut them apart.

Here's hoping this is the beginning of more regular crafty sharing on the blog!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reflections on 10 Years in Commercial Aviation

Ten years ago today, Trevor began his career at Atlantic Southeast Airlines. We've been through so much in that time. We were long distance for over two years before our wedding in 2009.  In 2011, we bought a house and ASA merged with another airline, becoming ExpressJet. In late 2013, we added our two cats to the family, I was offered a job at a middle school, and Trevor was offered a position at Spirit Airlines. He began training in February 2014, and six months later, we found out we were having Hudson, who was born in April 2015. This spring, Trevor completed training to become a captain at Spirit, and he will be officially signed off later this week. During all this, each of the companies he has worked for have had intense contract negotiations that went on for years. It's been going on for about two years at the company he is currently working for.

In the past ten years, we've had the opportunity to travel to Chicago (where Trevor proposed), Jamaica (our honeymoon), Hawaii, New Hampshire, Houston, Omaha, Jacksonville, Dothan, Maine, Connecticut, Michigan, Philadelphia, Iowa, North Dakota, and Minnesota. Some of these less exotic vacations were times when I (and later Hudson) joined Trevor on his overnights, some were visits to family and friends, and some were traveling just for fun.

While most people look at Trevor's schedule and think, "Wow, he's gone a lot," the truth is, he is home a lot, too. He missed just two of my prenatal appointments when we were expecting Hudson, and both were circumstances where either his schedule changed at the last minute or the clinic had to reschedule my appointment. He was home with me for over a week before Hudson was born, and he didn't return to work until nearly a month after Hudson's birth. Trevor is home with us four days a week, so he has missed very few of Hudson's firsts.

Relationships outside of our family are sometimes tough to maintain, though. I often have to tell friends that I can't join them because Trevor is out of town and there's no one to watch Hudson...or I have to tell them that Trevor IS home, but I don't want to squander his one or two days that he is home (this is actually quite rare because he generally has at least four days off between trips, but there are times when this contract provision doesn't apply). I'm finding more and more that it's difficult to relate to people whose husbands are home every night.  When we are able to get together with friends, the first ones that come to mind are the friends in the aviation industry, and our long-time church friends who understand our lifestyle because they've been doing life with us for so many years that they know all about the joys and struggles of being married to a pilot.

Trevor will turn 35 later this year. That means that he will spend 30 more years in the airline industry, as long as nothing changes (mandatory retirement age is 65, and it literally was an act of Congress that set this age limit). I'm looking forward to what the next 30 years will bring. I have no idea what adventures await us. We could be traveling more. We could make a cross country move. Trevor could end up at another airline. We could even see Hudson begin an aviation career in the next 30 years. After all, Trevor was 24 when he began his airline career. Who knows?

Friday, April 7, 2017

The 100 Day Project

 "If creativity is a habit, then the best creativity is the result of good work habits. They are the nuts and bolts of dreaming." -- Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit 

The 100 Day Project is a pretty simple concept: choose a creative practice and do it for 100 days. The idea is to do something small each day and record it. That's it.

An online round of the project began on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. I found out about it on April 2, so I didn't really have a chance to gather supplies for a big crafting project. Instead, I decided I would write for sixty minutes a day. I had decided earlier in this spring that I wanted to refocus and get this blog going again. When I found out about this project, it seemed like the perfect time to get back into blogging. So, from April 4 through July 11, I'll be carving out at least sixty minutes a day to write, even if I have to type it in the notes section of my iphone or scribble it on the blank pages of my planner. I initially planned to do thirty minutes, but I realized that Hudson or the cats will interrupt me approximately 75 times each minute. Taking an hour to write assumes that I'll be distracted for about half the time I'm at my computer.

I'm not sure what this project will look like to outside observers. I know that not everything I write will end up published on the blog. I wish it was that simple, that I could just spend 100 hours writing 100 blog posts. I don't know how many finished products I'll end up with. I usually have 10-20 draft posts that are in various states of completion. What I do know is that writing has brought me clarity for more than twenty years, and when I am not writing regularly, I'm a hot mess. I don't think I know how to be introspective without putting my thoughts down in front of me,whether they are on a computer screen or in a notebook.

So, here's to 100 days of thinking, planning, and writing. If you're doing a 100 day project, please share with me in the comments!

OLW 2017: Complete

Since 2009, I've been participating in a project called One Little Word from designer Ali Edwards. Today's post is meant to be an introduction to the project and an explanation of my process for choosing my word and direction for 2017. Later this week, I'll share about my progress and action steps in the first quarter of the year. 

This year, for the first time, I have chosen to participate in the paid workshop through Ali's website. I receive monthly prompts, pdf handouts and videos to help me in the process. The project encourages participants to choose one word that sums up what they hope to accomplish in the coming year. The word is supposed to live with you and help shape your journey through the new year. Some people start thinking about their word in late September, some people impulsively choose a word on January 1, and others need the month of January to firm up their choice.

I personally spent a week at the end of December scribbling in a notebook about the things that went well in 2016, the things that didn't go so well, my goals for 2017, my habits that I wanted to adopt or change, and where I hoped to see myself on December 31, 2017. I ultimately settled on the word complete.

There were a lot of reasons this word resonated with me this year. Since Hudson was born, I've felt pulled in a million directions at once, which makes it tough to feel complete. I have always been great about starting projects, but I often end up neglecting them or not completing them at all. Having a child means I have even less time to finish those projects. And, with everything else taking up my time, I haven't focused on my health at all - the mental, spiritual, and physical aspects that make up complete health. Finally, the saddest and most embarrassing thing is, we never really completed decorating and painting our house! With the exception of our master bath, Hudson's room, and an accent wall in the kitchen, everything is "builder beige." I've been wanting to add color for years, but we just haven't taken the plunge yet. I feel like our house still kind of looks like a rental because we haven't put much of a permanent touch on it. 

Once I settled on my word, I started looking for my supporting scripture. In 2016, I started choosing a a Bible verse that references my word. With the Bible app, it's pretty easy to do because you can search for a word and see it in multiple verses across many translations of the Bible. This is great because a word may not be in my favorite Bible translation, or it might not be listed in the index at the back. It didn't take long to find my verse for 2017.

Nothing and no one will change overnight. Patience perfects us and leads us to completion. I am trying to be patient as I start making the small changes that will ultimately lead to me feeling more complete as a person, as mother, as a wife. This is a slow process, but I think I'm approaching it with the right amount of patience and perseverance to stick with my word through 2017.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What we've been up to...

I've been MIA for awhile, so I'm going to start my return to blogging with a little recap as to what has been going on with us.

We traveled to North Dakota last July to see my family.

We celebrated Trevor's birthday in August.

We went to North Dakota again in September and celebrated my birthday.

My mother-in-law came to visit us in October.

We went to Minnesota in November.

We went to Minnesota again in December.

We flew to Minnesota for a night, flew to North Dakota the next day, and spent Christmas with family. Our return trip was the same: fly to Minnesota night one and onto Georgia on day two. On the way home, Trevor realized he needed to see a doctor for his ear issues, so he dropped Hudson and me at home and drove straight to urgent care. This started the vicious cycle of all three of us getting sick... over and over again for the rest of the winter and spring.

Trevor's dad won tickets to the Super Bowl in Houston. No one else was interested or able to go, so Trevor chose to go with his dad. Trevor's parents flew to Atlanta that Friday. Trevor and his dad flew to New Orleans and drove the rest of the way to Houston on Saturday. Trevor's mom stayed with Hudson and me for the weekend while I cooked an entire month's supply of dinners. Trevor and his dad returned on Monday, and his parents left on Tuesday.

The rest of February was a blur because we got the news that Trevor would be going to captain upgrade training in early March. We spent the month getting the house as clean as possible, doing all the laundry, and getting Trevor packed for training all while he studied like crazy and still did his usual flight schedule plus some mandatory, annual first officer training, too!

March began with Trevor having five days off before his two weeks of training in Fort Lauderdale. Because he had an intense training schedule with just one day off in two weeks, not counting his the day before his flight home scheduled for the second day after his last simulator session, he wouldn't be able to come home to see us, nor would we be able to go visit him.

Day one began with a huge headache. I started trying to figure out which of our friends could take Hudson for a few hours so I could go to urgent care and maybe a pharmacy. I eventually hit on the right combo of over the counter drugs and essential oils (I know, I know, but I assure you, I only use a few that work in a way that is logical and make sense scientifically). My mom came to stay with Hudson and me for the middle five days of training. A day after she left, I ended up with another sinus headache and Hudson pooped the tub.

Trevor finally got to come home on day 15, but I ended up texting him before the flight "Check in with me when you land. Fever and chills. May send Hudson to a friend's house." Luckily, it passed, and we had a good day together before I was hit HARD with a stomach bug. I was down for three full days and part of a fourth day. Trevor quarantined me to our bedroom and kept Hudson as far from me as possible.

The week after Trevor's training ended, we were able to see two dear friends who were in town. One was preparing to interview at Delta, the other had moved onto the simulator portion of his training at Delta and will soon be flying for them.

A week later, when Trevor was set to begin his first trip as a captain, he woke up in his hotel room at 3 a.m. with my flu. Fortunately, it passed more quickly for him, and he was able to go to work the next morning and continue his trip. He's currently flying as the captain with instructor pilots flying as his first officers. Trevor will do three trips with these instructor pilots before he is signed off to continue as a normal captain. The sign off is also important because that's when he receives the pay bump that comes with his extra responsibilities!

Hudson is a busy and wild little guy right now. He turns two in just a couple weeks! He started walking last July, which quickly led to running, moving backwards, and walking on his knees. His vocabulary is growing exponentially. In October, I was worried he was a little behind, but by Christmas, his speech was well ahead of where it should be. We now hear more than 200 distinct words from him, and he speaks with simple sentences on occasion. He loves to "read," though he is more interested in looking at pictures than hearing the story! He also loves all things that "go" right now - planes, trains, cars, etc. We watch a lot of Tayo, a Korean cartoon that features a little blue bus just starting his service to the city of Seoul. We also watch Curious George, Sesame Street, Thomas and Friends, Chuggington, and Finding Dory quite often.

Hudson attends a preschool class at our church two mornings a week. He's learning his colors, numbers, and some simple sayings derived from bible verses. Most importantly, he is learning how to play with others and how to deal with Mommy and Daddy leaving him for a little while. We have been so blessed to have this option this school year, and we are actually a little sad that summer is coming! I'm exploring options for the summer months right now.

So, that's what we've been up to lately! I hope to begin posting more often. I've been doing a lot of reading this year, and I want to share my book reviews as well as my crafting adventures this year. I'm also starting to dabble in sewing, so you'll probably get a chance to see my early adventures in that, too!