Back on Track: The Constant Battle Against my Delusions of “Normal”

Getting Back on Track after Summer at

I’m not normal. I know that.

But I still live with this delusion that someday, Normal will happen. Specifically, that my life will be normal.

That I’ll get a routine figured out and that routine will work for the rest of my life. The rest of my entire life. No adjustments needed.

I know better. Really, I do. But I still struggle with this delusion.

My oldest is now in Jr. High. 7th grade. And as of 6:30 this yesterday morning, his life dream has been realized. He’s playing football.

This year will be like no other I’ve had as a parent, and there is no going back.

Did you catch the 6:30 a.m. thing? Did you feel sorry for me? O.K. good.

I have to find a new normal. A new temporary normal.

Last winter, I started working out at 5 a.m. That was a new routine for me, but it worked. I’d gotten used to it and honestly . . . I liked it. I especially liked how working out when I’d normally be sleeping added time to my day. I would get home at 6:05, drink my coffee and do my Bible study time. I loved being done with those two REALLY important things before my kids even got out of bed.

But that much-loved version of Normal is over.

Yesterday morning, I came home at 6:05, awakened my 12yo, helped him find his socks (that he was sure he’d put out the night before) and then looked at the clock and realized it was time to GO.

Coffee? Schmoffee.

I’m not complaining one tiny bit. I’m just taking a deep breath and talking to myself and trying to slosh my way through until we figure out how this new (but temporary) Normal will work.

Because even when Normal happens, it doesn’t last long.

So here’s


I interrupt this post about how Normal never happens to me to share what made me stop writing with that “So here’s” up there.

Broken Arm on the VERY First Day of School

Right. At 10:15, in the middle of writing my first post after my summer break from blogging, the school called. It seems some crazy kid had injured his arm while playing Wall Ball in the very first recess of his fifth grade year. The nurse was concerned it might be broken.

She was right.

So my “back on track” day was completely derailed and I spent the rest of it at doctors’ offices.

BUT, I’m still proud of the things I did before 9:30 AM.

Getting back on track means cleaning up the kitchen. During summer’s survival mode, I ran the dishwasher. Almost everyday.

And emptied it. Pretty much everyday.

So that before picture at the top of the post? It could have been soooo much worse.

Notice that dishwasher is empty. And dishes AREN’T piled higher than the top of the faucet.

That’s a victory, folks. Because as long as “cleaning the kitchen” only means putting away the things I’ve left out and straightening and such, it’s takes at least 75% less time to “clean the kitchen” than it does when I have to wash every dish we own.

Lickety-split, the kitchen looked like this:

After Minimal Time Cleaning the Kitchen at

Is it perfect? Nope. Is this mama happy? Yep!!

But the best part is that I got to enjoy the benefits of time spent getting back on track. When we finally got home from our day of x-raying and casting, I made dinner. And it wasn’t stressful. When the counters are clear, it’s so much easier to throw something together.

It’s also easier (and more natural) to clean up the tiny bit of mess created while making dinner when the kitchen is already mostly clean.

Yay for understanding routines enough that it’s easy to get back into them!! Because that’s what it’s about. Routines.

Routines keep our house (and me) sane. And routines can be transferred to any schedule. Really. They (OBVIOUSLY) work better with schedules that are a little more predictable, but they are necessary no matter what crazy curveballs this gig called Life throws my way.

Have your kids started school yet? Are your routines falling back into place?

If you don’t even know where to start creating routines, 28 Days to Hope for Your Home will get you going. It’s (obviously) written by someone who isn’t perfect. (Me!) And it just happens to be on sale through September 1st! Go here for more info and the discount code!

Oh, and I also made a video:

(If you can’t see it here, go watch on YouTube!)


How to Freeze Ground Beef

How to Freeze Ground Beef (Super Easy!) at

I’ve written a similar post before, but I’ve come up with an even better (faster!) method.

You know that I pre-cook the vast majority of our ground beef to use in spaghetti, soups, tacos, casseroles, etc.

Oh. You didn’t know? Well, I do.

But I like to have some that is not pre-cooked (especially in warmer weather) so I can make things like burgers.

Fine. Who am I kidding? So Hubby can make burgers.

Anyway, this means I need to divide it up for freezing since freezing a six pound chunk of ground beef isn’t a good idea. Trust me. It’s not. But I buy it in six-pound chunks since it’s cheaper that way.

I’ve always divided it into quarter pound portions to freeze, but I recently came up with an even easier way to do that.

Prepping Ground Beef for Freezing at

Press three pounds of ground beef evenly onto a cookie sheet with sides.

(I don’t weigh. I just use a halfish portion of a sixish pound package of meat. You can do the math according to your package.)

Then, I use a flat, but not-sharp, utensil (it’s the plastic paddle that came with my rice-cooker) to “cut” the meat into twelve evenish pieces.

The Best Way to Divide Ground Beef for Freezing at

(It’s not as awkward as it looks. Unless you’re trying to do it with your left hand so you can take a picture with your right hand . . . )

I cover the cookie sheet with foil and freeze.

Once it’s frozen, I pry the meat off and break it easily into pieces to store in the freezer in a gallon freezer bag.

Ground beef frozen in Meal-Sized Portions at

Now, I can grab four pieces when I need a pound of ground beef, or let Hubby throw them straight onto the grill.

Note: I did put aluminum foil under the ground beef this time, but I don’t think it’s necessary and was kind of a pain to peel off after frozen.



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Three Separate Bursts of Bread-Baking Energy

Evidently, my sudden desire to bake bread isn't an isolated incident. At

Monday was an Ice Day for us. On Sunday afternoon, as ice began to pour down from the sky, I had a thought.

The thought? “If tomorrow is an Ice Day, I shall bake bread.”

I’m not sure what ice and bread have to do with one another, but it’s what happened.

I have had visions of being the mom who bakes fresh, homemade bread on a semi-daily basis. I’m pretty sure that the vision also had inset images of me planting the wheat and harvesting it and grinding it and such.

And being completely unaffected weight-wise by all this delicious slathered-in-butter hot, fresh bread.

Alas, other than the occasional bout of breakfast pocket freezer cooking, and the yearly tradition of rolls for Thanksgiving dinner, it hasn’t happened.

I don’t know that I had ever (before Monday) baked a plain-old loaf of bread.

And I’ve definitely never harvested wheat. Not even a little bit.

But recently, I randomly noticed a jar of yeast in my baking cabinet.

So Monday, I decided to get “that” jar of yeast out and get to work.

And that was when I realized that I didn’t have a jar of yeast. I had three. And all three were expired.

Expired Yeast at

The most-recently-expired one . . . expired almost a year ago.


I guess I’ve had these bursts of bread-baking energy before. But the last one was a rather long time ago.


Thankfully, I swagbucked “How to test yeast” and found this link with instructions.

Testing Yeast at

I was pleasantly surprised when the yeast got all bubbly like it is supposed to. I then proceeded to use the past-its-expiration-date-by-almost-a-year yeast to make some very lovely homemade bread which was a huge hit with the whole family.

I threw the other two jars of yeast away. I debated with myself over testing them, but decided against it. The jar I kept has enough in it for at least four more bread-baking sessions, which will likely last me until that jar is two-years-expired.

And that’s if I suddenly start baking bread (or breakfast pockets, or whatever) four times as often as I have in the past more-than-a-year.

I’m hopeful, but not convinced.

Fresh baked bread at



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