The Weekly Ramble

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The weekly ramble: where I blog like it’s 2004.

strawberries in the field

The weeks just fly by faster and faster these days. I can’t slow them down. Life is full. to. the. brim. Yet, there’s really nothing I want to cut out. Unless you’re talking about cleaning house. But, honestly, I don’t think I could cut back any more on that. Ha!

So, what all have we done? Well, my dad had a full knee replacement last week. He went home late Sunday, but then was back in the hospital on Monday night with pneumonia. While I wasn’t able to go up to LA to see him, there were many frenzied texts among my mom and siblings as well as calls to him to shoot the breeze and take his mind off his pain. Hopefully, he will heal quickly.

Among my texts to siblings are questions about pronation, where to get fitted for running shoes, and whether or not my fitter-than-I-am siblings will join me for a 5k in June. I know. 5k and me in the same sentence? What is happening?

luke the brave 5k

Luke the Brave

Well, our friend Luke is a 10-year old boy battling osteosarcoma. We had a great time with he and his mom and sister last November at Legoland. Within a couple weeks he had a diagnosis and he started cancer treatment on Christmas! This family has been amazing to observe as they battle cancer a second time. Luke’s mom, Michelle had cancer several years ago.

So, friends of the Syberts are holding a 5k fundraiser in June. You can’t imagine the costs that incur when a child needs regular medical treatment. The funds raised can really help relieve some pressure off this sweet family. They’ve got enough to worry about right now and don’t need to think about how to pay for parking downtown.

And while I could certainly just walk it, I want to take on the challenge of running it. I come from a family full of great runners. My dad and two brothers all were major competitors in high school and college. I’m the brains of the family. Ha! But, I’d also like to learn to run. I’m following this training schedule from the Mayo Clinic.

You can sign up for the Luke the Brave 5k — I would love to meet you! Or you can donate directly through Luke’s GoFundMe page. Also, Luke’s got a Facebook page. The more the merrier! I so appreciate whatever you can do to encourage this family. Believe me when I say they are amazing.

running shoes

Parenting class? Who me?


There’s a parenting class starting at church. When I first heard about it, I shrugged and told myself that I don’t need a parenting class. As the weeks went on and I realized what an intense season of parenting we are in, I decided, yeah, maybe I do. The pastor teaching the class is the husband of a lady I’ve known through homeschooling. I like her and her thoughts on things have always been reasonable, so I went for it. I was encouraged on a number of fronts. While I didn’t learn a lot of new things, per se, it was great to be reminded of the things that I sometimes forget.

He did say that the hardest ages to parent are 18 to 24. Gah! Weren’t we just talking about how the teen years were harder than the toddler years?! That tidbit had been passed on to him from an older man with the rationale that between 18 and 24 your child is making serious decisions that can impact their lives at a time when you can only influence, not control, what they choose. Makes total sense — and OH MY WORD.

Just as it was sobering yet helpful for Cathy to tell me this about teens, I’m thankful to have the heads up for the young adult years.

kids at trader joe's


On Monday, FishBoy12 and I went to the orthopedist. He’s walked on his toes since he was a toddler. He was a late walker as well. I’ve asked pediatricians about this for many years and was thrilled that Dr. P. referred us to physical therapy. When he was a non-toddling toddler (what do you call the kid who’s 14 months and not even trying to walk?), one specialist had suggested cerebral palsy. There had been some trauma during his delivery. Yikes! The PT told me that someone could go 12 years with undiagnosed CP. Double yikes!

So, as insurance would have it, subsequent PT sessions were not approved until we saw an orthopedist. Lots of questions, walking, running, and an X-ray later, the doc said he didn’t know what the reason was, but that it was not serious and there had been no damage to his hip joints. (I had no idea there was a risk of that, but with prolonged toe-walking, there is.) So, we wait for the insurance to approve a series of physical therapy and fitting of a boot to wear at night to stretch his tight tendons.

While we were there, the doc commented on FB12’s “religious name”. (All our kids are named after Biblical places.) Dr. W wanted to know more about that and what other names we had chosen. Upon hearing the long list of names, there was the inevitable “How many kids do you have?” Also, in the course of the medical questions came the fact that we homeschool.

Inwardly, I’m rolling my eyes inside because “religious”, large family who homeschools doesn’t often garner a positive reaction from the general public. Apparently, Dr. W’s sister is “very religious”, so I think we passed. I should have asked if he liked his sister….

fishkids leonardo draw bridge

Big Religious Families who Homeschool

Anyway, this produced an interesting conversation with my son about how what we think is great about our family isn’t always considered great in the outside world. In fact, apparently a man confronted my husband IN THE CHURCH PARKING LOT about how many kids we had, implying it was a bad thing.

FB12 told me that he understood; he had shared some of his opinions in his Minecraft group once and he’d been met with resistance. He’d also not been kicked off the server, so apparently the owner was okay with his voice of dissent.

This child is the most unbiased person I’ve ever met — he’s always quick to defend anyone and their right to respect — so the fact that he was able to express his convictions in a setting of peers with different opinions, completely free from parents’ presence, did this mama’s heart good.

I realize that we’ve chosen an out-of-the-box life. We’ve walked in many different circles and found ourselves “not fitting” perfectly anywhere. While it sometimes feels like we’re “men without a country”, I think we’re finally finding our groove.

How do you define yourself?

People aren’t defined by a single belief. People are defined by their love.

If we can love people and still be okay with not holding all the same opinions, well, I think that’s a good place to be. I wouldn’t change our out-of-the-box life for anything.


Oh Berries!

We also went berry picking today. I paid $40 for all this. My main mission was just to get a ton of berries for yummy things like jam, smoothies, shortcake, etc. Recipes to come. I had no idea HOW MUCH FUN the kids would have. They are quick pickers, and we had all our buckets done in less than an hour.

Over and over I heard, “This is the best thing ever.” “Thank you for bringing us.”

I guess that was a win. Needless to say, we’ll be doing it again next year. If you’re in San Diego, check out the Carlsbad Strawberry Company. We got half off because we went as a group, so these pickings would have been $80. Ouch. Your mileage may vary.

Regardless, my kids had a great time!

Oh Yummly

I added some new sharing buttons below. Well, my designer Joy did. Thank you for sharing the love. There’s a new button you might not recognize. It’s Yummly, a recipe box/recipe sharing site. Sign up for a free Yummly account and you can easily save your recipes. There’s a Good Cheap Eats yummly page as well as one for Life as MOM if you’d like to save some of those recipes.

It’s a great way to track your recipes visually. Thanks for trying my recipes and sharing them with others. In case you didn’t know, sharing is probably one of the biggest and best ways that you can help my sites. So thank you for your support!

And that’s my week in real life.

lego hot dog man

Meanwhile, here’s what’s been happening on Life as MOM:

Here’s what’s been happening on Good Cheap Eats:

New to Life as MOM? Check out this good stuff from the archives.

Coming next week:

  • Tips for Caring for Your Home and Family
  • Preparing to Send a Child to College
  • Answering Your Child’s Questions about Special Needs
  • Make Your Table Pretty
  • How Cleaning and Decluttering Can Save You Money

Be sure to let me know what stories and articles are helpful to you and what you’d like to see more of in the coming weeks. I want to make your “life as MOM” as fun and as easy as possible.

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  1. Hi Jessica,

    Greetings from Australia! I am a 52 year old, married, non-mother (ie no kids). So, although I cannot quite empathise with your trials and tribulations, I love reading your daily blogs/articles. Even if they do not apply to my situation, they are funny, caring, sharing and informative.

    Like you and your family, my husband and I love to travel. We prefer Europe over most other places, but Do visit other continents. I laughed so hard I almost cried, whilst reading about your recent family “adventure” in Europe. What fun you must have had!!

    Please keep writing for along time. I look forward to your writings every day.

    Cheers, love, hugs and kisses from a total stranger!!


    P.S.: Could you really care less what other people think about your, your family and the way you live? I hope not, because I think it sounds like lot of fun!

    Greetings to the whole fish family. (-:)

    • So glad you enjoyed the Europe posts. I’m not sure what you meant exactly in your PS though. I am not sure I said that I couldn’t care less.

      • Nia Hanna says:

        Sounds like she’s saying you shouldn’t care about what people think about your large family. Like the guy in the parking lot, and how he should’ve kept his opinion to himself. Having a larger family isn’t his business and doesn’t affect him at all so why would he have anything to say. Very rude of him if you ask me.

        • You would be surprised how many times people say something. There are also folks who love big families and say so as well. But, it’s harder to hear the negative people.

  2. I have to admit that my curiosity was peaked that all of your children are named after Biblical places so I googled for a list b/c I could only think of a few and they seemed a bit far fetched for names……wow, there are some really beautiful choices on that list!!! I think that is an awesome & interesting tradition for their names!!
    I’ve read your blog for years and it seriously just dawned on me today that you always refer to them with their “secret agent” names (FishBoy___ or FishGirl___) and that is also so cool, no need to refer to them any other way because that works & protects their privacy.

    • Oh you made me laugh today. Yes, “their secret agent names” are designed to give them a teeny tiny bit of privacy. I reveal so much of their lives and faces. They will love it that you called it that. I’d love to see that list to see if ours are on there. Ours are not far-fetched, only two are names that I’ve never heard anyone named.

  3. I totally get the “men w/o a country” sentiment. With eight kids, we are the largest family in our church. We also are one of two who homeschool. For many years, we were the only ones who homeschooled. Our church has a private, 100 yr. old school attached to it, so it was hard for people to get why we didn’t send our kids there. It’s a fantastic school, but the Lord called us to homeschool. On the other side of the coin, we are the odd ones out in our homeschool group as all the folks there go to other churches. Yeah, we’re weird, but we’re getting used to it. One thing that finally dawned on me a couple of years ago: people are watching us. Even if I don’t know them well, a lot of times I’ll get the nicest compliments from them about our family because they’ve observed us just being “us. ” That’s not to say we haven’t had our share of negative comments, but the good ones far outweigh the bad.

  4. Our family is definitely not a standard fit. I did not get married until I was 39. I had my first child at 41. I am the primary breadwinner in our family as my husband is a stay-at-home dad. I cannot count the number of times I have been asked about my adorable grandchildren (I hope to have some in about 15 years ;-).

    • My husband got that comment this summer. He was not pleased. I’m sorry that people aren’t more aware of what they say. Sounds like you have a great attitude about it!

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