September 21, 2012


I am not a runner.

Dating an avid runner pushed me to start running.  Marrying that running man forced me to continue the despicable sport.  But, I remained a non-runner.

I ran alongside him as he trained for marathons.  I was never fast, never ran too long, but enjoyed being with him.

One summer he was gone and running finally became mine.  I ran for the solace.  The kids and I made a funny parade of four bicycles and a jogging stroller.  I trailed in the back, panting, and reveling in my solace.  I trained that summer to run in a marathon relay.  Not too far, not too fast, and just for fun.  For me.

Each summer I have trained for the same race.  I trained because my relay buddies were counting on me.  By the end of the summer, I would find myself looking forward to my long runs.  Seeking solace.

Last year, I ran the longest leg of the relay.  Still not a runner, finishing eight miles felt like an accomplishment.  This year I purposed to train for the half-marathon.  Early in the spring I hurt myself and each step felt like a knife stabbing into my heel.  I kept running.

I visited a doctor, stretched, and kept running.  The pain in my foot at the end of the day was terrible, but I needed to run.

Burdens weighing heavily on my shoulders fall off as I run.  It's just God and me. The running and pleading in the early morning darkness is where I leave those heavy burdens.  I leave them where they belong, at the feet of the One who is able to carry them.  As my feet hit the pavement, I thank Him.

My great-grandmother passed away this summer.  She was 98 years old.  A formidable woman who had been born on the brink of World War I.  She outlived two of her five children and her husband.  She lived alone in a house built before she was born, at the end of a road that bears her name.  My husband once commented that she was the only family member who shared the same eye color as my sisters and me.  Her death was somewhat expected, but still heartbreaking.

In planning our trip to the funeral, I became overwhelmed.  I needed to be alone, so I put on my shoes and ran.  I thought about my Great-Grandma and the life that she lived.  I prayed for my Grandma, her daughter, who would miss her mother.

Last week, I finally registered for the half-marathon.  I realized that maybe a runner is simply someone who wants to run, whatever their reason.  

September 18, 2012

Bean Finale

At the end of the 'bean experiment', no one mentioned all of the bean consumption that had been going on around the house.  That, in and of itself, is a successful experiment.

I mentioned to Seth that he might want to read my blog during some downtime this week.  I piqued his interest by saying, "I've been doing a little experiment."

That guy, I couldn't believe it, said, "Did it involve beans?"

I just fed a family of seven for almost a week for about $20!  That's $12 for bean dinners and lunches, and another $8 for breakfast (eggs and spinach smoothies).  Our pizzas on Friday night cost more than our entire week!  If I took this little unscientific experiment and applied it--really applied it--we could potentially cut our food budget by 75%.

I enjoy eating a lavish meal, but at what expense?  If our eating habits prevent us from doing more good for others, then we need to change.  Perhaps for your family that change may be dramatic, perhaps it will be something that they won't even notice.  My crazy bean-eating week proved that my family really doesn't notice what I'm feeding them!

The weighty conclusion of this silly experiment:  we are going to make some changes and use them to benefit others.  Money that we ate will now be money we can spend on more important things.

September 15, 2012

Black Bean Du Jour

Last night was a complete cheat.  We always have pizza on Fridays.  I thought I could serve beans, until I made a date to do some chemistry tutoring.  I didn't think serving a high school senior beans with a side of chemistry would be nice.  So, we had pizza.  My sincerest apologies to everyone for being a cheater pants!

Today, to make up for last night, I made black bean soup for lunch.  Pretty simple recipe without cheats: beans, peppers from the garden, and GARLIC.  I would give that another $2 price tag.

I threw the leftover soup into the food processor for dinner.  We had some cheese (counts if I already had it, right?) and chips, and I wowed everyone with black bean nachos.  I'm not going to say this meal was free, since I had to add to it--not enough leftover soup for a family of seven.  It was completely my fault, as I was hardly lucid as I prepared the soup and didn't quadruple everything.  Nevertheless, I would put our meal at about $5.

Still not bad.  For a loosely thrown together 'experiment', I'm learning something about our family menu. 

September 13, 2012

Mums the Word

Day four of serving beans.  Yesterday, Seth picked up his lunch and peeked into the bottom of the Rubbermaid.  Spying the pintos from the previous night's dinner, he groaned and said, "You cannot be serious."  So I swapped them out for the Indian chick peas and sent him on his way.

He must have known I would be serving pintos in some form or fashion for dinner, since he was "held up" on a boat for work.  He was forced to miss our dinner and choke down a full course meal prepared by the ship's chef.

Pressing on, the children and I enjoyed a third meal of pintos (ate a bowl of them for lunch).  This time I fooled their palates by adding copious amounts of garlic and some cilantro.  I mashed everything together and threw it on a tortilla.  There was some griping because I did go heavy on the garlic.  Personally, there is no such thing as too much garlic.  We finished off the large pot of beans.  Three meals for a family of seven (excluding that big guy who opted out) for under $5.  Pretty successful.

The side effects of beans for so many meals are starting to become evident.  Last night, Seth, holding his stomach, said, "I don't know what's going on, but...I've been real gassy."

I bit my lip, but didn't spill the beans.  

September 11, 2012

The Joy of Pintos

The Indian dish was not well received last night.  Too spicy.  Too hot.  Too many...chick peas.

A gargantuan pot of pintos simmered on the stove for most of the day.  All of the children were delighted, because they are some pinto-eating folks.  I threw together some kind of muffins for the big guy who despises pintos (I think they are beneath him).  Alas, I had no cornmeal in the cupboard.  How does that happen? It's been sitting in the nether reaches of the upper cupboard for three years.  I had to make up a concoction and thought baking it in a muffin pan would make it more appealing.  Viola, corn things shaped like a muffin.

I guess it worked.  No one suspects a thing.  Just wait until tomorrow, when the leftover pintos appear again as refried beans.

Dinner's total tonight:  $2 bag 'o beans and some change for some odds and ends to make 'muffins'

September 10, 2012

The Week I Experiment on My Family

Today I began an experiment on my loved ones.  I am only able to post this since none of them read my blog.  If they knew what I was doing, they would certainly revolt.  It's not terrible, really.

I am feeding them beans.  Every.  Single. Day.

A family of seven eats money.  We wear, wash, and toss clothes by the basketful.  We drive here and there constantly.  Music lessons for a few children, school books for five, sports activities...the list goes on and on.  The biggest expense remains our bellies.

We eat a lot.

I started thinking about bracelets and beads and yard sales.  I was thinking about the money that we eat every day.  What if we didn't spend so much on our plates?  What if we saved so much each week that we were able to send a nice chunk to HopeChest for the school?  Seems reasonable.  I'm already pretty frugal in the area of groceries, but I thought I might be able to do better.  I still splurge on occasion.  Our splurge isn't a night out for seven at the local Cheesecake Factory, more like a take out pizza (or three).  It still adds up.

This idea of eating up so much money got me to thinking.  I can't keep our children from eating so much...they are growing!  I can spend less on what I'm feeding them.  Bags of dried beans came to mind.

Healthy.  Easy.  Cheap.  The options are endless.

I wondered if my family would even notice.  In sharing this idea with a friend, she suggested I blog about my 'experiment'.  I didn't make a lot of rules to follow.  Every night for dinner--beans of some kind.  If I have something in my cupboard, it's fair game to add.  Anything from my garden is fair game also.  We will have eggs or smoothies for breakfast and have leftovers for lunch. 

Tonight--one bag of chickpeas, tomatoes from the garden, rice, spices, and onions from the cupboard.
Total-- $3 to feed seven.  Off to a pretty good start.

September 3, 2012

First Day of School

 I blinked and summer was over.  Another year of school begins.  Our eldest in seventh (gasp) and youngest in Kindergarden (gasp).  I blinked and the kids got much older.

Our first day of school.
Five children to teach. 
And a dog who lined up to have his first day of school picture taken also.