Just Some Random Thoughts…

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One of the perks of being off of social media is that I’ve stopped feeling the need to post twenty times a day whenever something “striking” happens to me. Still, I feel the need to journal about some of these things, as a few are dilbert_randomtruly important. Hence, this blog post: a bunch of little things all wrapped up in one little blog bow, not twenty or twenty thousand individual posts. So, here it goes…

  • My husband started a new job at the beginning of the month. He’s in federal law enforcement, and will be for another three years or so. I’m hoping and praying this new agency jump will be his last (and best). In our 23 years together, he’s worked for four different agencies, with a 13 year stint at the FBI being his longest; his time at the Bureau would best be described by Charles Dickens’ opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”My dear hubby wanted to be an FBI agent from the time he was a little boy. Leaving the Bureau was the death of a dream for him, but after September 11, and after Director Mueller got a hold of the reins, it was a dream that needed to die.  He’s been searching for a new “home” every since, a legitimate agency (as opposed to many which have no business even existing!) where he can serve the tax payer by busting the bad guys and serve his better angels by solving the puzzles that the criminals create for my white-collar guy. He’s very, very good at what he does, and he takes seriously his role as a protector of tax payer funds. If only the government itself cared for our funds as much as he does, government spending would be half of what it is now!
  •  My oldest monkey was supposed to take her driving test last week, but alas, we didn’t have all of the paperwork we needed, nor did we have a signature from my husband, her “official” parent-teacher.
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    This magnet is actually on my car

    ..who is out of town until month’s end! Alas, now, it will be mid-July before another appointment at our local DPS is available (unless I can squeeze her in at one 50 miles away in the sticks!). Grrrr!! I am so ready for this child to be driving herself around. Despite my dear daughter’s recent accident and other harrowing experiences teaching her to drive this past year, I can’t fathom parents (or kids) that aren’t chomping at the bit for their sixteen year old to take that leap. Sadly, that seems to be the new norm though…right up there with children living in their parents’ basements until their mid-30s and being on their insurance until the “child” is TWENTY SIX!! Not in my house! 

  • Another milestone for my oldest: she’s got her first job! She’ll be working at a newly remodeled Chick-fil-A near our home. She’s cute in her work uniform and chunky black slip-resistant Skechers. “It’s my pleasure to serve you” is her new mantra. However, her feet are feeling the pain of being on them for six hours at a time. Smart as she is though, she’s decided $8 plus bucks an hour towards greater financial independence is worth a little pain. Kudos to my big kid!
  • I have been having a hard time getting back to normal walking post knee surgery. I was on crutches with zero weight bearing on my right leg for six weeks. Since weaning off of them, beginning on May 18, I’ve had an incessant problem with knots/ trigger points in all the muscles that originate on or around the hip joint. Add to that the difficulty of breaking through the scar tissue around my
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    It feels like it some days

    knee caused by both the surgery and the direct impact of an air bag, and regaining full flexion and extension hasn’t been a cake walk by any stretch.Physical therapy has helped with rebuilding some of my strength and balance, and being in the pool for most of my therapy has been a blessing, but nothing has done for as much for my pain and the issues which I feel are hindering my progress as the massage I had a few weeks ago. My therapist beat the snot out of the knots and scar tissue! Parts of it hurt like mad, at one moment I even came off the table! But in the end I got off the table feeling better than I’ve felt since the wreck on March 18th that started all of this mess! I am proclaiming a miraculous healing. Ok, maybe not, but I’m happy to be able to see some light at the end of this tunnel which has felt kind of dark and endless at times. God bless those that are in truly horrific accidents, military or otherwise, who must completely rebuild themselves. You are my heroes.

  • Being the mom of teen-aged girls, even homeschooled teen-aged girls is so hard. My mom raised three girls and two boys, and I have no doubt the girls were the hardest. Like my girls today, I was a “good kid.” I didn’t smoke, drink, party, carouse, do drugs, sleep around, or engage in various and sundry stupid teen behaviours (though I was a bit of a crazy driver (still am)), but I was difficult.I was mouthy, self-centered, mean, emotional, angry, and most of all: lonely. Due largely to a few divorces, sudden remarriages to unpleasant peeople (all of which I had zero say in), and other family issues, my teen years were not fun. Still, my mom tried. At forty-four with two girls of my own and a very stable marriage, I know that now. Hind-sight is an amazing thing.My mom passed away suddenly the day after some pretty routine surgery thirteen years ago, threw a blood clot. I never got to say good-bye. For the most part, we had a strained relationship. I loved her and she loved me, but we were both quite crummy at demonstrating that love in meaningful ways, meaningful to the other, that is. As a protective measure, I have closed the doors on relationships with several family members, and am fully at peace with those decisions (even if some family members take issue with my decisions). The only regret I have, however, is that mom and I couldn’t have had more time to work things out. I wish now, now that I’ve got two teen girls driving me to the highest highs and the lowest lows on alternating days of the week (minutes of the day), I would love to talk to her again, to commiserate, to tell her I’m sorry for…being a self-centered monster of a teen girl, and to thank her for not taking me out of this world just about every other day for driving her crazy and adding to her problems!
  • Speaking of girl issues, I was taken aback by the activity my twelve year old’s class did this past Wednesday at church. Unbeknownst to me, this activity, which was centered around a discussion on real beauty, internal beauty, the beauty that matters, was to culminate in a make-application lesson. No, not just skin care, or “wash-your-face-so-you-don’t-get-zits-or-look-like-you’ve-rubbed-bacon-grease-on-your-face.” No, it was an actual make-up how-to. Granted, it was of the “How not to look like a tramp” variety, but it still hit me like I’d just been told the leaders were teaching a sex-ed lesson with a banana!
    Walking past the room in which the event was occurring, I was struck dumb seeing my precious, beastly little twelve year old, with whom, thanks in part to a big sister who could care less about looking girly, I’ve yet to discuss when she gets to wear make-up, being made up. I was not a happy mama. I was shocked, and saddened, truthfully. Our girls are innocent for such a small moment of time, pure, precious, and unadulterated. The world is constantly pushing them to grow up younger and younger. Girls in my own conservative faith are not immune to that influence. Plenty of the female children in my congregation have

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    Yeah….NO.

    parents markedly less concerned than I am with letting their young ladies look “older.” Whoopee. Good for them. Matters not a whit to me. As one who wears cosmetics sparingly (Seriously, my daily routine entails curling my straight eyelashes and brushing on a bit of mineral powder to counter appearances of skin damage. On really big days (or for the week after I get my hair trimmed shortly), I’ll run a line of grey eyeliner over my top lids. If it’s a really big deal, I’ll wear some mascara, too.), my immediate reaction was to calmly tell my dear child afterwards, “You can wash that stuff off at home.”Unfortunately, the explanation I gave for my opinion of her newly made up face did little to assuage her hurt feelings. She’d had fun. She’d wanted me to tell her she was beautiful and I’d ruined it! Tears ensued. Epic fail, mom. To be sure, I could have handled things better. But still… my opinion stands. Make-up will be discussed closer to fourteen, and don’t even ask about wearing heels until you’re staring down the barrel of junior prom! You’ll be “older” soon enough, dear child. And don’t even try the “But So & So’s mom lets her” argument. Society and culture have always had various “Rites of Passage.” Certainly, playing in the make-up is one of those rites. I just strongly object to having the timing of those rites get pushed further and further back with each generation, or having that timing altered by someone else. In other words, “As for me and my house, we will not cross that line before it’s time!”

    P.S. For all the crying and squalling that occurred at home Wednesday evening, I’m grateful that not a word about make-up has been breathed since!

    Thoughts? Feel free to post!

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Some Political Sort of Things That Caught My Eye Recently

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  • Barak Obama, Re-Founding Father, by Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal.  I am disheartened by Congress’s willingness to roll over and play dead, and the judiciary essentially rubber stamping everything Obama. We need a robust division of powers as George Will identifies in his BYU Forum Address “The Political Argument,” from Nov. 5, 2013. I fear our Republic won’t last much longer if we can’t expect more push and pull from our three branches of government.

Cogent bits of Henninger’s column: The central feature of Mr. Obama’s rewrite of what one might call the Founding Fathers’ original vision has been to abolish Congress. Yes, the 535 men and women elected to Congress still show up at the old Capitol building, as they have since November 1800. But once past passage of ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank, the 44th president effectively retired Congress from its historic function. If you put the president behind the wheel of a car in front of the White House to visit Congress, he’d probably get lost.

“Obama’s power grabs” is Republican boilerplate. Voters don’t care about power grabs. But most voters, perhaps including many pre-2008 Democrats, still care about being represented in Washington as defined by the first Founding.

  • More wonderful words from George Will given April 21, 2015 at Yale’s William F. Buckley inaugural “Disinvitation Dinner.” Seriously, this is truly brilliant stuff infused with no small amount of humor. Here’s just a bit:

Yesterday, the Democratic Party, the oldest political party in the world, the party that guided this country through two world wars and is more responsible than any other for the shape of the modern American state—the Democratic Party’s leading and prohibitively favored front-runner candidate for the presidential nomination announced four goals for her public life going forward. One of which is to amend the Bill of Rights to make it less protective. It’s an astonishing event. She said that she wants to change the First Amendment in order to further empower the political class to regulate the quantity, content and timing of political speech about the political class—and so far as I can tell, there’s not a ripple of commentary about this in the stagnant waters of the American journalistic community.

 Well, the belief that the First Amendment is a mistake and that the real right that people have regarding speech is the right to avoid speech that annoys them. The column that got me here tonight, for which I am grateful to admit, contained the following sentence, and this is the one that got me into trouble. Roger mentioned it. I said: Colleges and universities are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous and when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims will proliferate. And to ensure that they proliferate, we have amended the doctrine of micro-aggressions and to the idea that one has an entitlement in our entitlement society to a cocoon of serenity everywhere.

 Well, as proof of this, I give you the following: I mentioned the Princeton Graduate School. No one at the Princeton Graduate School pays a dime of their expenses. They are by any measure the top one one-thousandth of one percent of the most privileged people who ever lived on this planet. And a few of them, the Black Graduate Caucus, the Latino Graduate Student Association, and Graduate Women of Color recently sent the following protest note to the Princeton administration because Princeton has shuffled their diversity and multicultural and sensitivity bureaucracy by adding two new people. Their protest said this: Princeton University has deepened the anguish and intensified the alienation of its graduate students of color. Stop laughing this is serious business. Students of color are constantly besieged by the racism at Princeton. Surviving Princeton for students like us is more than a struggle. It is a battle for one’s life and sanity for the dignity of one’s nonwhite flesh.

trigger-warning

This premier event is meant to celebrate those who have been “dis-invited” from speaking on college campuses in recent years- all because the left wing-nuts of the faculty or student body didn’t want others  to be able to hear an alternative point of view. The recent practice of silencing opposition is otherwise known as CENSORSHIP, INTOLERANCE, and CLOSED MINDEDNESS. Way to go, lefties. FYI: The freedom of speech isn’t just for you! Oh, yeah…Trigger warning!!

One more thing from George Will: The Speech Every 2015 College Grad Needs to Hear from Prager U.

Experience teaches us: in order to know oneself well and develop harmoniously, a human being needs the reciprocity of man and woman,” said Pope Francis.  “When that is lacking, one can see the consequences.”Those consequences fuel confusion and error, said the Pope. “For example, I ask myself, if the so-called gender theory is not, at the same time, an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it,” he said.  “Yes, we risk taking a step backwards.”

 “The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution,” said Pope Francis.

Seeking to change or dissolve the complementarity between man and woman produces intellectual, social and spiritual darkness, the Pope continued.  “God entrusted the earth to the alliance between man and woman: its failure deprives the earth of warmth and darkens the sky of hope,” he said in his April 15 audience.

The order established by God between man and woman and creation is the key to harmony, said the Pope.

“The great refamily-procsponsibility of the Church, of all believers, and first of all of believing families, which derives from us, impels people to rediscover the beauty of the creative design that also inscribes the image of God in the alliance between man and woman,” said the Pope.

He continued, “The earth is filled with harmony and trust when the alliance between man and woman is lived properly. And if man and woman seek it together, between themselves, and with God, without a doubt they will find it. Jesus encourages us explicitly to bear witness to this beauty, which is the image of God.”

My own faith said something quite similar in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in 1995.

 

  • EPA: Fracking Process NOT Harmful to Drinking Water. Great! Now, can we frack for gas, drill in ANWAR, build the XL Pipeline, and start exporting oil, too! All of which will create jobs and revenue and get us off of foreign oil. What is bad about any of that if undertaken in a “good stewardship” manner?
  • Proof that Some People Can Be Offended by ANYTHING! We have become ridiculously thin skinned. More than anything, people screaming about perceived offences need to be met with a brick wall of deafness to their complaints. Perhaps, if college administrators, bureaucrats, business owners, and book and magazine editors would give these individuals a sucker, a balloon, and a pat on the head (with a mallet) instead of a platform from which to cry, people would cease to be so offended.
  • I heard part of an interview on Dennis Prager’s radio program this week wherein he was interviewing Professor Alfred Mele on his new book “Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will.”  I found his words quite provocative, well, at least they would be for those who believe that we can’t possibly be held responsible for our actions for any number of exponentially expanding reasons from “My mama didn’t love me” to  “I was having a bad hair day “to “McDonald’s didn’t warn me their coffee would be hot.” Well, that’s just a bunch of crap, to be quite clear. Things have happened, will happen, and do happen to make it harder to make good decisions, but very few of us can ever claim what is essentially an insanity defense for any of our actions (keep in mind, I do believe that some are unable understand the weight of their decisions, but not near as many as the bleeding hearts would like). The same thing needs to happen to most who use this excuse for bad behaviour as I recommended in the above point: balloon, sucker, smack.

That’s all for now, I suppose. More later.

Farewell to Elder L. Tom Perry

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I’m a Christian of the Latter-day Saint, a.k.a. “Mormon” variety. More specifically, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are governed on Earth, if you will, by a prophet and by a quorum of twelve apostles, just as in the ancient church. When any one of these men passes away, the body of the church feels it. And that is no less true of Elder L. Tom Perry than of any other of these wonderful men who sacrifice so much to stand at the forefront of LDS leadership.

Elder Perry is one of those shining leaders who has been around since my very early childhood, havingL-Tom-Perry-newsbio-GC-Oct-2010-with-wife been ordained an apostle when I was three years old. Thus, I have come to know his radiant smile and infectious spirit quite well. Throughout the time of a man’s apostleship, which may last decades, (our leaders have a tendency to live well into their 80s & 90s!) he gets to speak for the entire church to hear at least twice every year at our semi-annual general conferences. Elder Perry’s is one of those speakers who couldn’t speak enough! Since becoming truly aware (as in “with a clue”) during general conference, which likely happened around my sixteenth year (1987), when I was old enough to drive and choose for myself whether or not to go to our church meeting house forty minutes away in order to watch the conference broadcasts from Salt Lake, I have enjoyed his tone, his countenance, and his messages, which always seek to uplift and lift us up towards Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

Elder Perry will surely be missed! But things in the Lord’s church do keep a moving. Now, the church will move forward with selecting a new apostle to fill his shoes, difficult though the task will be.

Elder Perry V2

Biography

Official Announcement of Elder Perry’s Passing

Elder Perry’s Last Conference Talk: Why Marriage & Family Matter- Everywhere in the World

Reflections on Being Facebook-less: Revisiting My First Day Blogging

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As I commented in my opening post, Facebook had become a real problem for me. I use the past tense ‘had’ because I put my account to sleep on Monday, May 18, at 12:09 a.m. My original intention was to spend the summer in hiatus, then reassess in the fall. Now, almost two weeks later, I’m not so sure that I’ll be going back on social media of any sort come September.

In recent months my political opinions, which I stand by firmly, in regards to gay marriage an2e6f1350447ee76343c375ce4c7aa894d whether or not business owners in the traditional wedding industries should be forced to provide services to gay couples tying the knot, had come under fire by a few friends who see these 8908ed4c064bef60733ef20387437751issues differently. I am perfectly happy to allow that on many topics people may amiably “agree to disagree.” Alas, I have found that is not enough for some on certain subjects. No, no, it is all or none. And in this case, the leftist consensus seems to be all who believe in traditional marriage and the Constitutional right to Freedom of Religion and Association, let alone Freedom of Conscience and the belief that the Market can decide such issues better than Big Government, must be forced into reeducation camps until we give up our convictions at the altar of Political Correctness and sell out our God. Or at least remake Him in the image of modern society.

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.   —George Orwell, 1984

Yeah, that would be acceptable. For now. The arguments back and forth become of the circle jerk variety, and hardly worth the time for either party to continue. Still, for my part, as far as Facebook is concerned, I reserve the right to post what I want on my page, and happily allow that others have the same freedom. Discussions are fine, but harassment? Ugliness? Well, feel free to find another target.

Besides, the politics, these terrific graphics, memes, whatever you want to call them, pop up all the time. And I love them. I love humor, in most every form, and I love to laugh. But like Uncle Albert in Disney’s Mary Poppins, we can spend our time being tickled to death but accomplishing nothing, gaining, growing not at all. We post funny pics (and they ARE funny!) of our kids, our cats, our dogs, our Pinterest fails. And others laugh. It’s kind of like we’ve all become class clowns, vying for attention. Our friends and our “friends” post back, “LOL,” “LMAO,” “ROFL” and “:)” because we want to let our buddies know their comedic efforts were received as such on our end. No one wants to post into an echoless wilderness. We want to laugh with others, and we gain pleasure in making others smile. And that’s okay.

The problem is going on to Facebook JUST to be amused. Trolling for a laugh, if you will. We get so addicted to the fun stuff that we end up being “in” there for hours…all while the dishes pile up, the kids whine for dinne6004272faa7609420f2e740af4630af9r, your spouse begs for attention, your budget goes unbalanced for yet another day, and if someone were to sneak a candid shot of you, your head would be turned downward, staring at some device. Interaction with others? Unnecessary. We all have our electronic pacifiers to keep us happy instead.

And don’t give me the “All things in moderation” line. How good are you at moderation, really? For so many of us, not all, but many, moderation just doesn’t happen. Time wasters easily get out of hand, particularly for the easily distracted and addictive types. We struggle with attention as it is to the point that self-regulating on social media is almost laughable. We’re like rats at a sugar water dispenser! Like the poor Christian in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. Like the busy people being plagued by the Devil’s little minions! Only now, we’re simply “busy” being distracted!

Sadly, even many who didn’t used to be plagued by short attention spans are now. I was listening to one of my favorite talk radio shows the day that I went “off-air.” The host, law professor Hugh Hewitt, was interviewing (somewhat) Conservative New York Time’s columnist David Brooks about his new book The Road to Character. Hugh was asking him about a few of the issues David sees with social media (which Hugh loves!). The first problem Hugh suggested to Mr. Brooks is “amplification of the self,” which is a topic for another post; and the second is the destruction of our attention spans.

DB: …The [problem with social media] I actually worry about the most now in myself is my attention span is just shot. I just can’t go a few pages without wanting to check my phone or something. And so I do think it’s having a big effect on attention spans.

HH: When I prepare for interviews like this and I read a book, I often read a chapter and then check social media and read a chapter, and then check social media. Or if I grade exams, I grade five, and then I check social media. It is integrated, but not overwhelming. I wonder if younger people have those discipline sets left over, which I’m banking on, right? I banked the discipline set 30 years ago before social media came along. I don’t know if they ever get one.

Seriously, folks! I have enough problems concentrating, and these two highly educated, highly accomplished men have just admitted on a national radio program that they can’t go more than a few minutes without twitching like drug addicts for want of checking their social media accounts. I DON’T WANT TO BE LIKE THAT ANYMORE!

When I first got a Kindle, I used it only for reading; and I read A LOT! Then I got an android phone and used my Kindle app for reading, and my Facebook app for Facebooking, and my browser for looking up every incidental fact under the sun- just because I could! It got to where I hardly touched my Kindle app anymore, and instead of reading five-hundred page books, I was reading three page articles on the Wall Street Journal. einstein

When I realized my attention span, small as it was to begin with, was suffering (and my phone wouldn’t even work as a phone half the time), I went back to a flip phone and got a Kindle Fire, sans the 4G connectivity. That helped a good deal—except then I became pretty adept at finding Wi-Fi hotspots with which to connect—to Facebook. At home, I was rarely without my Kindle. My husband and kids commented on my continually glowing face. I laughed, they laughed, then they got out their little screens, too. Suddenly, one day I looked up to see we had all started watching T.V. as a family, with our laptops, Kindles, and DSi’s in hand!  Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. Again, I don’t want to be like that anymore.

In the twelve days since I’ve been off of Facebook, I’ve researched and made homemade lotion bars, soaps, and moisturizer, started a cross stitch I bought at least 10 years ago, started reading (and am making good progress in) two books, created a family budget, updated our budgeting software, cleaned my kitchen, made multiple batches of water kefir, bought new carpet for our home (YEAH!!), prepared a two week dinner menu, and will be doing lunch menus for the summer today (I am so tired of hearing that we have nothing to eat in a kitchen stuffed with food!). Oh, and I’m working on walking again, too. Not for fitness, not yet, but simply for ambulatory purposes. Go, me!

Granted, not all of the above accomplishments are attributable to simply going off of Facebook. The physical “I’m at home” time to put in to these tasks has come about largely due to the fact that after a grueling nine months, my sixteen year old’s dual credit college classes are on hiatus. BUT, the fact that I’m using my at home time to be productive, time that I would otherwise, in all likelihood, be wasting sitting on Facebook for one “purpose” or another, is huge! I feel like I’ve broken lose of the addiction I had to “Facebook Think.” You know, where you go about your daily activities thinking of what to post, how to respond, how many ‘likes’ such and such post might garner, how cute that picture would be-on Facebook, etc.  It’s been very freeing. As much as I miss some of my contacts on there, It’s been very, very freeing.

I will say, too, as both a positive and a negative, I’ve become terribly disconnected to the world and national news and politics that I “love.” My Facebook news feed kept me up to date on such things-minute by minute. We only have satellite in the man cave up stairs, and I rarely bother to go up there simply to watch the news. Additionally, since I’m not in the car very much these days, I miss listening to my PragerMedvedHewitt talk radio programs. Seriously, I feel as clueless about the world as the typical college Democrat! On the positive side, however, I’m less stressed, happier (ignorance IS bliss!), and more focused on what’s mine, i.e. what I have control over. And that really is all for the best.

 

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Playing in the Kitchen

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Edited: I was a bit rushed when I first made this post. On 5/25/15 I added a few more recipes & expanded/ rewrote a bit.

I am not a cook. Despite being good with a frying pan, by the time I came along (#5 of 5), my mom was working out of the home, among other things, and didn’t get around to teaching me much in the kitchen realm. The only thing I specifically remember learning in that part of the house was how to bake bread. And my Grandma Strawn, mom’s mom, taught me that.

By the time I got to college, I could heat hot dogs, make sandwiches with wild abandon, and whip up a mean bowl of cereal. Much of what I’ve done in my adult years is what I would essentially call “playing in the kitchen.” I can’t really follow a recipe to save my life (I think there is a little OCD & ADD at work in my brain), so I usually get an idea of what I want to cook, Google recipes, print and play!

Substitutions are part of part of my game, as are additions. Recipes are just for me to have a “go-by,” since winging it completely usually results in kitchen waste. Still, about every third attempt at the oven or stove, is palatable, edible, but not much more (without lots of salt). Every other try is “pretty good.” And in one out of every three attempts, I get three cheers from the peanut gallery of critical, picky eaters in my house. Cooking is a very frustrating process for me. I want every dish to get high marks, or maybe I just want my family to be grateful, then to shut up and choke it down without complaint. Yeah, either one would be great. Regardless, I keep trying. Just call me Lambert.

To add to my difficulties in the kitchen, at least as far as my hubby and kids are concerned, I insist on cooking veggies or serving a salad with dinner. I also want my meals to be healthy, which by my current standards means low in grains, higher protein, higher fat (often), and, of course, rife with wretched vegetables. If I would serve only meat and potatoes every night, the fam would be in heaven. So sorry…

68677425_5ec04b52f3_zOne of the ways I work around their myriad dislikes is to incorporate veggies into my dishes utilizing either fresh produce or freeze dried products from Thrive Life, but I have to be careful not to select items that appreciably alter the taste or stand out too much on their own. At least if I work it into the dish, I know they are getting some green (red, yellow, purple, or orange) goodness!

Erin Chase at $5 Dollar Dinners has a wonderful King Ranch Chicken Enchilada Casserole that lends itself well to this “technique.” I just toss in some extra peppers, as I don’t like green bells, I use orange and red (I go for bright colors. Bells upset hubby’s stomach every.single. time. So, I choose bright ones in order that he can more easily pick them out!). I also toss in a handful or two of Thrive’s Freeze Dried Spinach into the sauce. I also using their  dehydrated onions ( I hate cutting onions!) and green chiles (do NOT breathe the dust of those things!) to bolster flavor on one end and make it easier on me, too. I’ve even used their Sour Cream Powder in this recipe with great results.

When using freeze dried products, I will usually add a little more liquid to keep the re-hydration process from pulling too much moisture from the overall recipe (as with the chiles and spinach), or I re-hydrate separately, then add (as with the onions). An extra bit about this particular recipe, I am so glad there are no condensed soups required. They just are not to my taste, not to mention I can’t do much to control flavors, textures, or smell when I use canned soups! And many of the King Ranch recipes I saw called for cream of mushroom soup. Since I’m the only one in the family who even likes mushrooms, cream of mushroom is out (and gross anyway!).

Another veggie-full recipe that I’ve gotten some very surprising raves from is this noodle-free Spinach Lasagna, which I stumbled upon at Linda’s Low-Carb Menus and Recipes. I refuse to use frozen spinach for anything because both the smell and the flavor are major turn-offs. Thankfully, using fresh spinach worked just fine instead of that slimy green seaweed-looking stuff. Simply use as much as you think you need. Remember though, spinach wilts when heated. Six ounces of fresh spinach may seem like quite a bit, but once it hits the sauce and wilts, you may end up wondering if you used en10463108304_61651f6c83_zough!

Taste of Home has some fantastic recipes. I actually can’t remember a bad experience with any I’ve tried in the past. Shockingly, just as with the above lasagna, I got great marks with this Zucchini Pizza Casserole. I say ‘shockingly,’ because it is loaded with zucchini, one of my favorite veggies. Alas, as with mushrooms, I am the only one in love with this easy to grow member of the squash family. It isn’t that the taste is all that wonderful, it’s just that there isn’t much of it, making it easy to shr
ed or dice (sloppy joes) and sneak into things. Unfortunately, the peeps have been on to me for a while now, and I’m pretty certain my husband has been leading a propaganda campaign to turn the kids against this perfectly harmless veggie. Oh, well…

A bonus with this Zucchini Pizza is that it calls for “Italian tomato sauce.” Any recipe that calls for spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce is just begging for additions- fresh or canned tomatoes, fresh basil, ex
tra peppers, whatever you got! Toss it in! Also, for you vegetarians, this would be an easy recipe to alter to fit your needs.

Alea’s Cabbage Rolls with Turkey and Brown Rice is a one I remember being very tasty but a ridiculous, unnecessary pain in the butt to make and eat. My notes say, “Just fix in the skillet!”  Shred your own cabbage or use a pre-cut slaw mix to cut prep time. I only have a two cup food processor, guess which one I prefer. This recipe gets altered to remove a portion of the celery (picky family) and add kale or spinach (fresh or freeze-dried).

Got any family favorites for picky eaters, but that follow my guides? Please, post!

A Day in the Life of my Knee

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Today I met with my knee surgeon: my six weeks post-op appointment. Two months ago today, I was minding my own business, eyes closed, letting my fifteen year old drive us to the local junior college where she takes a few classes, when…BOOM! CRUNCH! BAM! Breathlessness and pain rocked my world, as did the acrid odor of angry engine and airbag propellant. Dear daughter was not fit to operate heavy machinery; she was drowsy, but failed to tell me, even after I asked her directly at one point, “Are you okay to drive?!”

Yeah, about five minutes after that question left my lips, she crossed over the center line on a local two lane road, colliding with another car. Gratefully, the other driver was fine, considering a Buick LeSabre had just invaded her space, pushing her car’s tail into a ditch and requiring the driver’s door to be cut from its moorings in order to extricate her from the black Honda Accord. My daughter was largely uninjured, too. Nothing that wouldn’t heal quickly, anyway. I, unfortunately, had my knees bent, feet on the dash when our airbags deployed. I took a direct airbag blow to both knees, though the right one got the hardest impact, and my left made a beeline for my sternum. Two weeks later I was having surgery on the same meniscus I’d just had trimmed seven months before. Happy day.

I haven’t walked on two feet since the surgery, so I was incredibly anxious to talk my surgeon, to see if it was “time.” But as the minutes ebbed on in the the grocery store freezer case my surgeon’s group calls their waiting room, I got bit paranoid. I’d waited four plus weeks for this appointment and felt like this was going to turn into one of those days where the staff would keep all of his patients waiting two hours before finally fessing up the the fact that Dr. J was never coming in! It was bad enough that I hadn’t eaten anything but a Power Crunch protein bar at 6 a.m. and I had a free Egg McMuffin coupon burning a hole in my car door, a hole almost as big as the one being gnawed in my stomach by Hunger!

Thankfully, I did get a reprieve, though well after McDonald’s stopped serving breakfast! It was only fifty minutes after signing in that I heard my name called, then another twenty before his bald pate entered my room.

Our little chit-chat went well. I told him I had little faith that the repair he’d done to the medial meniscus in my right knee was healing properly. I described the “burning, tearing, searing” sensations I’d felt after the first day of physical therapy, and to a much lesser degree at points thereafter. He shrugged and casually told me, “Scar tissue.” (WHAT??)

However, Dr. J did alert me to a few things I didn’t know before today, which I greatly appreciated: 1) the tear I sustained was right at the outer margin, which is a very, very good thing. Outer margin = blood flow = oxygen = better shot at healing; and 2) he never would have attempted the repair if he didn’t feel I was a good candidate/ the tear was in just right place for a repair to work. There is a pretty good risk that I’ll be under the knife again in 5-6 months if the thing doesn’t heal; the odds are only 60/40 that it will, even in youngsters). Okay, well, I do feel a bit better now.

The last thing he said, waving his right hand towards my crutches, those accursed things that have made ambulation possible, but wreaked havoc on my ability to juggle for the last six weeks, was, “Get rid of those. You’re done with them. You can start walking again as of today.”

Gee, doc, I didn’t realize you were quite as good as Jesus Christ. As much as I was hoping to hear words similar to those today, I expected they might be tempered just a bit more! Seriously, If you don;t mind, think I’ll continue to go to physical therapy for the next four to six weeks and learn how to do that whole ‘walk’ thing again. But thanks for the vote of confidence!

So, what I have I done since returning home? Messed around with that walking thing, of course. Grasping on to furniture, counter tops, walls and door frames, I actually managed to vacuum my living room and kitchen for the first time in two months! You have no idea how good that felt! And the knee did okay, too!

Maybe in a few more weeks I won’t look more like a new born colt than I do a grown woman who had just completed a half marathon just weeks before an airbag took my breath away!

Finally! A low-carb pancake I can love

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One of the “eating styles” that I subscribe to is put forth by the Trim Healthy Mamas, Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett. This super duo of Australian sisters has meal types designated by “S” for satisfying (higher in fat, very low carb); “E” for energizing (very low fat, higher in carbs), and several points in between. Protein of some form is the backbone of every meal. Yeah! for protein!

Because it is so flexible, THM eating truly is whatever the individual needs it to be (weight loss, weight gain, maintain), I like their approach to foods. Nothing much is particularly “off plan,” unless the carb content is too high to fit within their guidelines. It really is a plan for all. And while some THMs do get very obsessive about what “type” of meal they are eating, or what is allowed or not, I don’t (I only had 10 pounds to lose in 2013-2014, and I lost most all of it before I ever found THM).  I just try to keep things low-carb and leave it at that. [For a more thorough explanation of what THM is all about, check out their website.]

So, what does THM have to do with pancakes? Well, I love pancakes. I LOVE french toast, too! But since shifting to a diet of significantly reduced wheat/ bread/ grains in December of 2013, I’ve not found a recipe for the former that really works for me…until now.

This gem of a recipe showed up on my Facebook THM group the other day, and I finally tried it tonight. Good stuff! Very fluffy, great flavor, no coconut flour taste over-kill, AND easy to whip up. I will say that I eventually added the full quarter cup of almond milk noted in the recipe, and still added a little more water to get to the right consistency.  The yield on this batch was 6 nice sized pancakes.

An excellent “faux” recipe that does a fantastic job of satisfying my deep and abiding need for French Toast on occasion is this one, which I found years ago on Three Fat Chicks on a Diet:

Mock French Toastfrenchtoast

4 egg whites
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup riccotta cheese
dash cinnamon
1 packet of splenda
sugar free maple syrup

Mix all together in a bowl and beat with a fork
pour into pan like you would as if you were making pancakes
top with butter spray and syrup and ENJOY!!!

With my low(er)-carb life style (most days), I’ve increased the amount of fat I willingly and happily take in each day. So, in making this recipe today, versus when I found it seven or eight years ago, I might follow the original, or I might just use 3 whole eggs; I’m also using Stevia or erythtitol or Swerve for my sweetener, not Splenda. Additionally, I’ve found that if I don’t have ricotta on hand, cottage cheese will work okay. Coconut oil is probably what’s in my frying pan, to, not “butter spray” or any other cooking spray. Like I said, I don’t much worry about fats these days. I am still using my sugar-free syrups though!

Am I Doing What’s Mine? or Running the Race (at my own pace)

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I’m not a big drama mama, but I do like to cut up and over dramatize silly things in such a way that, to the outside viewer, things may appear as “drama.” But seriously, the older I get, the less inclined to B.S. I am. I don’t like visual clutter, audio clutter, or verbal clutter. And, for all the good it can do, social media is all that and more.

As noted in my “About” page, I like politics, or rather I hate politics, but I love reading and commenting on the things that drive our political process. I am an unapologetic Conservative with my understanding of my Christian faith fueling many of my opinions. What faith doesn’t ignite in me, my love for this beautiful, imperfect country and the passion of its Founders does. In sentiment, I would say I side with the more moderate elements of the Tea Party. But in practice, I’m a Republican, red to the core. I don’t believe in throwing my vote away, or throwing elections to Democrats (because that’s what voting for a third party always does). So, I put up with their party stupidity, and I vote Republican. Facebook is a hotbed for political banter, though, causing some friends to scurry or put up their dukes. And sometimes results in arguments that last, and last, and last. It can be utterly exhausting. But still I rant. And post. I just can’t help myself!

Nevertheless, the other day, this wonderful article hit my feed, posted by a friend, I believe (Thankfully, I have friends who don’t get so wrapped up in politics, posting other, more useful things than the latest gripe against “X”); and it hit me like a hammer. The title of the article is ” To the Mama Who Feels Like She Never Gets Anything Done.” If that isn’t me, I don’t know who it is! I USED to be SO productive! I USED to read voraciously. I USED to have time with my kids. I USED to DO things.

Now, I sit on Facebook, reading article after article about politics, which increases my blood pressure, but does nothing to increase my true knowledge, the stuff I think we get to take with us when we die. I sit on Facebook looking at the latest funny meme (I hate that word), because I do so love to laugh, but that does nothing to increase my spirituality, or better my relationship with my family, or get nagging tasks done around the house, or increase my health and fitness (Granted, I was in a car wreck 2 months ago; had knee surgery 6 weeks ago, and will finally get to start weaning off of crutches next week. So, I’ve got that excuse. For now.). It does, however, keep me chatting with friends and some family, the few I allow into my Facebook world, but so what? It does keep me “occupied,” but there is zip, zero, zilch that is productive in that comes of that time day after day.  It is such a distraction! Just like the lotus flowers in Percy Jackson, Facebook hits our brain and we suddenly lose all of time!

Friends are great. I value my friends. I have some truly FANTASTIC friends, but if I don’t want to spend the day on the phone with them, doing nothing else, why am I spending all day ‘liking’ this or that, or checking to see if they ‘liked’ my latest 87 posts from a dozen different political sites about why the First Amendment must be protected at all costs? Really. I HAVE THINGS TO DO. Even if it is just resting on the couch working on a cross-stitch that I started 16 years ago when my oldest was a baby, I need to make space for that.

Alright, back to that fateful article. The author, Jamie Martin, is a homeschooling mom of three, an adoptive mother, a blogger and writer extraordinaire! I have down time. I “should” be able to at least do some of what she does, right? I mean I USED to write a book review column for an on-line magazine, for crying out loud! I actually used to write two columns. So, what is the problem? What is keeping me from being productive again? Time wasters. Duh! And I don’t mean the hours upon hours of driving I have done these past 5 years, hauling one kid back and forth to college classes on the dark side of the moon (and hanging out during class time because it is too far to drive home in between) or teaching art and co-op classes to other people’s kids. I mean the stuff I do, or don’t do, to try to fill the space between my next car ride, or when I’m powering down at night, or when I’m in the bathroom, or…when I have time. Really, folks, we say we don’t ‘have time,’ but if we add up all the time we waste, we do. We absolutely do!

What is Jamie’s answer to this problem of time? Well, it’s absolutely genius; and terribly, terribly simple:  I only do what’s mine to do.

“What? Could you please repeat that?” you may ask. Certainly, “I only do what’s mine to do.”

She goes on to say:

It takes a while to figure out who you are as a mother, who you are as a person now that you are a mother! (some of us need years!)

Often you only get there by trial and error, and that’s okay. The errors don’t mean you’re doing something wrong; they mean you’re one step closer to knowing yourself.

Amanda Soule’s lovely blog was the first I ever read. Her readers would comment at times that they didn’t understand how she could blog, sew, knit, farm, homeschool, and cook from scratch. Her days overflow with work from the heart, work that matters to her and her family. This isn’t a productivity secret–Amanda’s just doing what’s hers to do. And so she thrives.

Our society has made an idol of getting things done, making that our top cultural  priority. But instead of asking “Am I doing enough?,” why not ask “Am I doing what’s mine?

Here’s what’s mine right now: Love my kids through the ups and downs of parenting, homeschool, read, write, edit, cook, clean, be a friend to Steve. It’s a short list, but a full life. And it’s enough…for me.

Knowing what’s mine in this season lets me fully concentrate without being pulled in all the directions all the time. Busy mama who works all day and feels like you have nothing to show for it, don’t compare your season of spring with another mom’s season of harvest.

Run your own race…this minute, this second. Be you unapologetically. Only do what’s yours to do right now, and watch how your family, yourself, and even the world is changed because of it.

I love the idea of simplifying so much that you really are only worrying about your own ‘stuff,’ focusing on your own race, and realizing that a full life doesn’t require being everything to everyone, but being everything to those who matter most: your immediate family.

It is so easy to get caught up in the world, and in other people’s circus side shows. Facebook makes that SO easy! It’s a simple thing, to over blow our own importance as a cog in the world’s clock works (If I don’t X, then Y will be disappointed, won’t work, won’t happen, etc.). But the truth of the matter is, things do go on, things over which we often have no control (politics, crazy friends, crazy family, the price of tea in China), but only THINK we do. Yet, what we do have control over is ourselves and how we choose to spend (or blow) our time, little though it may seem we have. All that we have to do is embrace that fact, PRIORITIZE, be willing to sacrifice the easy and the mindless, then run with it. We have that much power, don’t we?

 

A man without control