Things I Can Control

My brain has been singing this quote off and on all day. 

If you follow my blog, you are aware that I was struggling yesterday. The pressures of feeling like I am trapped in quarantine, combined with the anxiety caused by how uncertain our world is right now felt like they were pushing me to a breaking point. To cope, I vented on my blog and then turned to my Happiness Journal

I am on List 13, which challenged me to list the things I have control over. Filling it out allowed me to refocus myself. By doing so, I was able to reach a new level of acceptance. I have no control over this virus, or how long we will be in quarantine. I have no idea what the future holds, but what I can control is…..

  • when I wake up and fall asleep. I can make sure that I am getting adequate rest and taking care of myself. 
  • how much and the types of exercise I get. I can take walks and workout so that my body is strong. 
  • what I cook and what I eat. I can make sure I am not just eating junk food. I can plant vegetables in my garden and care for the chickens so that we have a sustainable source of food even if the stores are closed. 
  • how much time I spend looking at current COVID-19 data. There is such thing as too much information, that can lead to panic, hysteria and all out nervous breakdowns. 
  • how I express my emotions. I need to remember that I can step away from the kids and give myself a few minutes to reset. I can vent on my blog, or find ways to distract myself. 
  • who I associate with. While I cannot control the things people do, I can control how I react to those things, and if necessary, I can choose to distance myself from toxicity. 
  • and most importantly, I can choose to believe in powers stronger than this virus, my government and what we see on this earth. I can pray with all my heart and believe that God has a plan beyond what I can perceive. I can choose hope and love. 

To end this post, I wanted to share the above letter that my dear friend, Krista, sent to me. She reminded me that everyone is suffering, even if we don’t acknowledge it. Self care and acceptance are important. 

I hope you are all doing well and being kind to yourselves. 

Love and prayers to you all. 

Kristie 

Weekend Wrap Up

I stepped away for a couple days in order to be fully present over the weekend with my family. We watched too much TV and took long naps. We planned our meal for Easter and made sure we had everything for Aly’s birthday on Saturday. 

Miss Piper got a new collar. She thinks she is queen of the house and insists on sleeping on the couch or the bed. Her only requirement is that she be touching one of us while she sleeps. Pretty sure the dog has separation anxiety. 

Yesterday we explored a park while my husband went fishing. He caught 2 large mouth bass that he threw back. The girls and I found 2 geocaches, hiked up some hills and picked dandelions. After we stopped for some take out ice cream. 

All in all it was a good weekend. Unfortunately, I am struggling today. I am frustrated with the changes to our daily lives. I hate seeing the plans crossed off on our calendars. I worry that I am not doing enough for my girls and I miss my boys. I know Easter is going to be emptier than normal, and I will miss seeing the rest of my family. 

I know I’m not alone in my feelings and we are all in this together. I have seen many posts on social media from friends who are feeling the same way. I mailed a box of sidewalk chalk to a girl I haven’t seen since high school, so she would have it for her daughter’s Easter basket after seeing her venting on Facebook. It’s not much, but it made me feel like I was still a part of the outside world. 

I am praying this pandemic reaches a plateau and we can all get back to our normal lives soon. 

I hope you are all healthy and mentally feeling better than I am. 

Take care of each other. 

Kristie 

52 Lists for Happiness: People Who Make Me Happy

As I watch the COVID-19 numbers climb, I find it harder and harder to stay positive. The constant predictions that say things will get worse before they get better. President Trump has said 100,000 deaths in this country would be a positive outcome. It has also been predicted that the need for social distancing will continue through the summer. So much fear. So much uncertainty. There are moments I feel my anxiety spiraling. 

My therapist’s office is currently closed. That means I can’t go and work through this with her. Instead it is up to me to find a way to deal with all these emotions; for my sake and the sake of my family. 

I have gotten lax in my journal writing, but now seems like the ideal time to pull out my 52 Lists for Happiness Journal. I left off at List 12: The People Who Make Me Happy. 

Filling it out was a blessing. First on my list are my husband and children, the very people I am quarantined with. How fantastic is it that I actually enjoy their company? I am not considering divorce after the stay home order is listed. Instead, I actually feel closer to my husband, and am so proud of how great a team we make. 

My children can of course frustrate me and make me crazy, but I am not ready to ship them away. Nor do I feel the need to start drinking regularly to keep my sanity. Instead I am spending time helping my children explore the things they are interested in and building memories that will last their entire lives. 

My list also includes Rachel and Angie, my two heart sisters. They have entirely different personalities, but I love them both equally. 

Angie has been my best friend since we were six years old. Some days I think she knows me better than I know myself. We are both busy moms, who really need to find a day to spend together, but we never let time or distance effect our relationship. If ever she needed me, I would be there in a heartbeat, and the same goes for her. She was my strength when I lost my brother, and on days when I feel lost because Danny is gone, knowing she is here helps to pull me through. She knows my past, present and future, and that secures my existence and settle my soul. 

Rachel is my voice of reason. We have very different ideas about politics and life, but we are able to discuss them with respect. Together we are able to find a middle ground, and at the very least, agree to disagree. Her hippie heart is full of great ideas for enjoying the outdoors and becoming self sufficient and climate change conscious. This stupid virus has caused us to cancel our spring visit, but maybe there will be a camping trip after quarantine. 

My parents, my brother, the memory of my grandmother are all on that list. I have coworkers, people on Facebook and other bloggers who also make me smile. Even on lock down, in a world that is filled with uncertainty, I am blessed. 

This too shall pass, and I will see those I care for who live outside of my home again. We will laugh. We will mourn the world we used to know. This plaque will have changed us all, but foundations we had built before all this will be the strength that allows to move forward and hopefully become better humans. 

Sending love to you all, 

Kristie 

Quarantine Day 20: Homeschool Day 3

Hi everyone! Today we are anxiously waiting for the official announcement concerning the fate of our schools this year. I have absolutely no hope of them going back before September, because yesterday the governor requested a 70 day extension on our state of emergency status. The kids are hopeful because they miss their friends. Until we know for certain, we are carrying on with our homeschool activities. 

Wednesday consisted of making Fizzy Rainbow Eggs. It was a little messy, but we had lots of laughs and smiles to make up for it.

We took a social distancing field trip to some middle  of no where farmland. We saw some baby cows, which thrilled Hannah who loves all farm animals at the moment. Our destination was just down the road. It’s the Michigan Tri-State marker that marks where the boarders of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana meet. 

We didn’t see any people at all. We just logged our geocache, snapped a picture of all 4 girls together (so blessed), and walked through the fields to see if we could find Ohio and Indiana markers as well. No such luck. 

Miss Hannah also worked on her gluing skills yesterday. While her sisters did online economics and learned that different colors have different wave lengths, she created a leaf person. So stinking cute. 

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and safe day. 

Kristie 

Quarantine Day 19: Homeschool Day 2

Today did not run as smoothly as it did on Monday. Somehow everyone is over tired and unmotivated. If I wasn’t pushing some form of structured time, we probably would have stayed in pajamas all day and watched cartoons. 

Instead we powered through. The constant rain has created mud puddles along our road, so we gathered a small amount of mud from a puddle and put it into a cup. Then we put fresh potting soil and a little bit of water into another cup. We used the cups of mud to paint pictures, noticing the difference in color and texture between the two mud.

Our outside time was spent geocaching near a church in our town. After finding the cache, we decided to walk through the cemetery. It is filled with beautiful old stone, dating back to the early 1800s. We discovered plots for family’s who have roads named after them in town. There is also a beautiful old mausoleum built for the family who designed the most historical park in our town. 

Some people may find it a little macabre to be exploring a cemetery in the middle of a pandemic. I look at it a little differently. To me it is a visible local history lesson. On that adheres to social distancing rules, especially because no one else was out there with us. 

Continuing with our space them, we improvised bingo dotters using large markers and sponge brushes. Hannah was able to “dot” stars, the earth and a rocket.

Lastly, she traced lines from astronauts to their ships. It helps improve her fine motor skills. She also tried to write her name. It’s far from perfect, but we are getting there. 

My older girls also started a unit on waves of the color spectrum and continued their background work before we start reading The Great Gatsby. We read passages from Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, then they wrote paragraphs about whether they think he achieved the American Dream. 

Our day rounded out with afternoon naps, cleaning and cuddles. 

All in all a pretty good day. 

Hope everyone else is fairing just as well. 

Stay safe and healthy, 

Kristie

How We Homeschool

I meant to get this all up yesterday afternoon. Our routine is to do school work and scheduled time in the mornings and then relax and pursue our own interests in the afternoons. It gives me time to cook, work on the blog and clean the house. The kids help, but also get to play video games, watch cartoons, nap and play. 

Unfortunately, I am still not at my best. That means instead of writing my post, I took a much needed nap with my Hannah Bear. 

Our lessons Monday morning included a space sensory box made up of dyed rice, foam stars, and of course, GLITTER. A tiny shovel and some old medicine cups rounded out the fun. 

All 3 girls participated in the rubber experiment. We soaped raw eggs in mason jars with enough vinegar to cover the eggs and food coloring of their choice. Within 24 hours the shell dissolved and revealed the rubbery membrane of the eggs. The girls were able to test the strength of the membrane, by dropping the eggs into a bowl from varying distances, seeing if the egg either bounced or broke.

FYI: throwing into the bowl will break them every time.

Hannah is having a space themed week, so she got to make her own astronaut mask. I know I am a biased mom, but I think she looks super cute.

For architecture class, the older girls created building by connecting pretzel sticks and mini marshmallows. They learned that the strongest shape to work with was a triangle, because it has the least number of break points. 

Not pictured: 

For preschool we also found space books to be read to us on YouTube, since we can’t go to the library. And we had some large motor fun marching with the ants, while listening the The Ants Go Marching. 

My high schoolers wrote paragraphs defining the American Dream as an introduction to The Great Gatsby. They also completed a lesson of online economics, and rounded out the morning by taking a nature walk and listening to classical music. 

I would love to see how everyone is settling into quarantine. If this goes as long as projected, we may need to borrow each other’s brains. 

Have a great day, 

Kristie

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms and Kale

I mentioned the other day that we are struggling a little with quarantine. We miss being able to come and go as we please. We are bummed about missing school and our big family Easter camping trip. 

More than that, we are scared. We are scared that the news keeps saying Michigan is the current epicenter of the virus. We are scared that one of us will get it while buying supplies. We are scared I will be required to head back to the hospital before my doctors run the EMG tests. We are scared, and there is very little we can do. 

I handle stress and fear by cooking. I still had the rest of the farro I used last week, so decided to make a risotto with mushrooms and kale. It’s a little time consuming, but time seems to be in abundance right now. And it was totally worth it to create this creamy side dish. 

It was a perfect replacement for stuffing when we did quarantine Thanksgiving. I am well aware this is the wrong time of year and maybe not the most traditional dishes, but our house needed to physically count our blessings and refocus on what we have. 

If you are struggling, I recommend that you and your family pull out an uplifting tradition to help get you through. Here’s my risotto recipe.

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms and Kale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c dry farro
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 c kale, chopped
  • 2 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c white wine
  • 3 c vegetable broth
  • 16 oz sliced mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Soak farro overnight in two cups of water. Drain just before ready to prepare the risotto. 
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook 3 minutes. 
  3. Add the farro and cook for 3 more minutes. 
  4. Add the kale and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. 
  5. Then add the white wine. Cook until the wine evaporates, stirring occasionally to keep the farro from sticking. 
  6. Stir in the vegetable broth 1/2 cup at a time, waiting to add the next 1/2 cup until all the liquid is absorbed. 
  7. After adding 1 1/2 cups of broth, add the mushrooms. 
  8. Continue adding the rest of the broth, until all 3 cups are absorbed. 
  9. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the butter and Parmesan. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. 

Serves 8

My husband always finds stuffing to be dry, but loved this recipe. The risotto was creamy and had a great, earthy flavor that complimented our turkey beautifully. We had a wonderful family dinner, and now we don’t have to cook for a few days, because unlike Thanksgiving we kept all the leftovers. 
I hope this post finds everyone healthy and in positive spirits. 

We are praying for us all. 

Best wishes, 

Kristie

Having to Find a Quarantine Routine

My girls have been troopers through this whole quarantine experience up until now. Friday, our governor said it is very unlikely our schools will be opening again for this school year. That means no prom, no play, no band and choir concerts. There will be no SATs or college tours. Heck, we don’t even know if they will have to retake a year, or if we can do homeschool to make up the credits. 

We had a long talk about what they would be interested in learning. Then I set up an unschooling lesson plan for next week. It includes reading, architecture, science experiments and of course, outside time. We got a jump on that by finding our first geocache of the year. 
Hopefully setting up our own routine will help us get through the next couple weeks. Wishing everyone health and sanity. Kristie

Pork Chops with Fig, Farro and Carrot Pilaf

I had every intention of posting this recipe yesterday. Unfortunately I am still not 100%, so after making cookies with the girls and then dinner, I was exhausted. I ended up falling asleep when I put Hannah to bed. I’m sure it’s just my body’s way of healing, but it frustrates me to be so exhausted after minimal movement. 

I think the kids are handling quarantine better than the adults. They are loving all the family time and lax schedules. The only thing I am enforcing right now is healthy eating so that we have all the nutrients in our bodies to fight the germs outside. That’s why I made Pork Chops with Fig, Farro and Carrot Pilaf for dinner last night. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar, farro is an ancient grain that is high in protein, fiber, magnesium and iron. It has a chewy texture and mildly nutty flavor. Studies also show it contains carbohydrate compounds that can positively boost the immune system. At this point, every little bit helps. 

I paired the farro pilaf with “breaded” pork chops. To make the breading, I mixed flour, ground corriander and fennel on a plate. 

Then I rolled my pork chops in the flour mixture to coat them. Super simple. 

The pork chops are then fried in butter and olive oil until the are golden brown and cooked through. Don’t they look yummy? 

Cooking farro is similar to making rice or quinoa. Just follow the directions on the package. Once it reached al dente, I mixed it with some sauted onions, figs, mushrooms, carrot slices and tarragon. 

To serve, I dished 1/2 a cup of pilaf onto each plate. Then I topped it with a pork chop. It was a wonderful, earthy meal. Best of all, the kids ate it without complaint, mushrooms and all. 

Pork Chops with Fig, Farrow and Carrot Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c farro
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 TBSP ground coriander
  • 1 TBSP fennel seeds
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil, divided
  • 5 center cut pork chops, boneless
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 dried figs, chopped
  • 1 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 c sliced carrots
  • 1 bunch fresh tarragon, chopped

Directions

  1. Cook the farro according to package directions. Drain and set aside. 
  2. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, coriander and fennel seeds onto a plate. 
  3. Salt and pepper the pork chops. Dredge them in the flour mixture and set aside. 
  4. Melt butter and 1 TBSP olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. 
  5. Remove the pork chops and place in a warming oven or cover with tented foil. 
  6. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and saute the onions for about 5 minutes. Then add the figs and mushrooms, lemon juice, 1/2 c water and sugar. Simmer on high for 6 minutes. 
  7. Add the carrots and season the veggies with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. 
  8. Fold in the farro and tarragon. 
  9. Serve with pork chops. 
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5
Amount per serving 
Calories450
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12.4g16%
Saturated Fat 3.8g19%
Cholesterol 81mg27%
Sodium 91mg4%
Total Carbohydrate 21.8g8%
Dietary Fiber 3.2g11%
Total Sugars 12g 
Protein 27.3g 
Vitamin D 52mcg260%
Calcium 56mg4%
Iron 2mg12%
Potassium 289mg6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Recipe analyzed by 

Hopefully this recipe makes you hungry and inspires you to create a healthy meal tonight. I would love to know what everyone is eating while we are stuck at home with limited supplies. 
Let me know in the comments. Take care of yourselves. Kristie

National Puppy Day

Day 19 of COVID-19 quarantine is being brought to you by National Puppy Day! I am feeling less like the walking dead, so I was able to interact with the family a little bit today. 

That means Hannah worked on fine motor skills by painting her favorite TV puppy, Chase from Paw Patrol. 

We snapped a picture of Piper and Ava as they came in from the snow. So much for our first week of spring. We had 4 inches when we woke up this morning. 

We had imaginative play time this afternoon. Hannah pretended to be a puppy at obedience school. We worked on fetching the frisbee, sitting, barking and had lots of fun. She even got reward treats when she did a good job. 

Then we had to play vet office. Hannah was the doctor. She checked their eyes and ears. Then she gave the puppies a bath. Finally she bandaged any boos and then tucked them into bed. I was impressed this game lasted for an hour. 

We took more pictures of our favorite pups to finish off the day. 

I know it’s a little subdued and lacked any real learning subjects, but we did get some real family time, and for a few minutes no one was worrying about the world outside. 

Tell me about your day and you are coping. 

And of course, so me your puppies. 

Stay safe. 

Kristie