Whatever's on my mind...

We've had a slew of things happen in the last month or so to keep me offline, from coming back to Texas, to getting settled (and all that that entails), to meeting up with friends old and new, to the 7+ day saga of getting our computer gutted and back in the saddle, to, well, the beautiful blue sky and green grass of Texas beckoning us to come out and play, go for walks, picnics, and take pictures. :)

But I'm back, anyway. And my thoughts are swirling... here's a few samplings of the things on my mind:
  • How God leads us. Sometimes we sense a very clear "DO THIS!" about a particular decision or specific direction in life. I felt this way about where to attend college, moving overseas, and homeschooling. Other times it seems that God gives us a wide open road with several options. I don't know how it all works out... I trust that He is sovereign, and that He knows all, and that He guides His children. Sometimes it just boils down to trusting Him and taking the next step.
  • Can't believe Moses is 9 months old! Seems like he was just born. Sounds cliche, but I guess it feels this way no matter how many times you experience it.
  • Food here doesn't taste as good to me as I expected it to. Granted, I'm still eating it, but it's just not as "WOW" as I thought every blissful bite would be. Maybe it's because I've cooked from scratch now for nearly 5 years and my tastebuds have adjusted to fresh foods? But jarred-sauces (even the fancy-sounding ones) just can't compare to fresh chopped tomatoes, garlic, and basil... and open-pop-biscuits are nowhere near as fabulous as homemade cream biscuits. Still, I was looking forward to all of these flavors, and so far the only ones that have lived up to my expectations have been Blue Bell, Chipotle, and Red Robin.
  • Oh how I love the library! Free! Just a few blocks away! Books everywhere! And even DVDs! I'm enjoying taking the kids a couple times each week.
  • The No-S Diet is still going great. I'm down 3 pounds from what I was a couple weeks ago. On average, now that I'm not just holding my weight (like I did while I was in just-arrived-back-in-TX-eat-everything-delicious-that-you-possibly-can mode) I'm losing about 1 pound per week. More than that, I'm noticing that my personal self-control has grown, and that I'm really, honestly, content with how much (how little?) I'm eating now. I eat good-sized meals throughout the week, and enjoy treats on the weekends. It's simple, and makes good sense. As I've said before, I hope to eat like this the rest of my life. I feel like I have a healthier attitude towards food & sweets than I've ever had before (and I've never been one with an eating disorder, etc., just never exercised much self-control in this area). This feels great.
  • Couponing is incredible. INCREDIBLE! It is crazy how inexpensively we can feed our family here, and how conveniently... now, I will say, I'm having to be more intentional about eating well, because of the difference in the quality of produce... but the toiletries, convenience foods, and disposable goods that we can get for a fraction of the cost is amazing. I'm following "CouponMom"'s system (free), and greatly enjoying the benefits.
  • I'm currently reading Wendy Shalit's "Girls Gone Mild"... what a thought-provoking, culture-exposing book! Her thoughts on how the current sexual climate among college students & young professionals works (or rather, doesn't work) knocks some heavy blows to the ideas of feminism and "liberation". Have you read it?
  • Monogamy is so incredibly freeing. Reading the book I just mentioned has just made me all the more thankful for a joyful, safe, and fun marriage bed! What a headache to constantly fret and wonder about presenting oneself in the best light, worrying about sexual issues (STDs, birth control, how to do x to satisfy your new lover, etc.), and more. How freeing and wonderful to be in a love relationship, walking side by side, where each romantic encounter is somehow different and unique and yet familiar and comforting! How precious it is to be in a God-centered marriage!
I anticipate that I'll be back to writing again soon- more than just the "7 Quick Takes" variety I've been doing lately-- as there are lots of thoughts swirling right now. Anything on your mind?


BETHANY said...

I think God is leading you to Seattle this summer and I'm confident it's one of those "DO THIS" things you mentioned. :)

Jess said...

Oh Bethany... I can't tell you how hard of a decision it has been. I just met up with Carletta the other day, and it was just as I thought it would be... like getting together with a wise & wonderful friend, which is what she is. I know it would be the same with you and so many of the other awesome ladies who'll be in Seattle.

At this point, I'm probably not going to make it, which is just so sad. But we've had to make some choices, and while I'm not 100% decided about it, I'm fairly sure I won't be able to come. :(

Thanks for the smile, though.

Meredith said...

Hi Jess,
I am fairly new to your blog...which I love. I am captivated by the comment you made that you have been cooking from scratch for the last five years. Wow! I'd like to be able to say that in five years' time. Are there any key posts on your blog where talk about this - not recipes but impetus, progress and so on?

Thank you for being so inspiring! Doing that while being in another culture, homeschooling, having babies...amazing you.

Meredith xx

BETHANY said...

I understand, but I don't like it. :)

Jess said...

Ha! Meredith, well, don't be too impressed. I did it because I had to. When we first moved overseas (to the middle of nowhere in China), I had almost no convenience foods available, and knew almost nothing about cooking from scratch.

I do have a cooking blog-- www.makinghomefood.blogspot.com - it's linked over on the sidebar. I've stashed some of my favorite recipes & fall-back regular meals there.

Honestly, just the idea of *having* to cook from scratch forced me to learn. It's difficult, I'll admit, trying to do it with so many convenience food options at your fingertips. One thing to do is to take one thing at a time... I don't know what level you're at. But learn to make biscuits from scratch, for example. Or quit using a pancake box mix, and learn to make your own that you really like. Then move on to pasta sauces (they're super easy & once you find a good base recipe you can play with it to find which particular spices you like in it, and what your favorite method of thickening is, etc.).

Think about things that you eat often, and consider how you might substitute for those things. A lot of people make their own spice mixes. You can grow your own basic spices, too, which will add another dimension of homemade-- basil, rosemary, dill, peppers-- these things are easily grown but add a rich flavor when you cook with them.

I hope this helps give you a few ideas.

Hedgetoad said...

I used to love the processed foods when I was young... but once I was able to really start cooking for myself (wanting too!), I don't like the tastes of processed foods any more.

All the chemicals, altered oils, etc. just add a yucky taste to them.

Jacquelyn said...

Have you managed to eat bacon every day? :)

Jess said...

Ha! No, if I had, the No S Diet would likely NOT be going so well. :) I've had bacon at least 5-6 times though, in as many weeks. It's pretty delightful.


Anonymous said...

Red Robin - really??? We moved back from overseas a few months ago and if we could afford it I would eat at Chick-fil-A every. single. day. We still haven't hit all the places on our "must-eat" list but USUALLY they live up to our expectations/memories. I've never been impressed with Red Robin so I'm always surprised to hear of people enjoying it. :)

Milemom said...

Hi Jess,
I also have four boys and a girl, but have definitely NOT just moved back to the US from overseas! I did, however, jut recently discover Red Robin and LOVE it (know how hard it is to get a good tasting veggie burger??). I also lived in Texas for a year or so quite a while ago, and miss those carpets of blue bells (blue bonnets??I don't remember the name)... beautiful!
I enjoy your blog...welcome back to the US.