Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (One Day Late...)

I actually did have a menu yesterday, but I forgot to post it after I put up "The Smell of Rain" (you can scroll down to read it if you want).

Anyway, last night (Monday), I made a beef pot roast, noodles with yellow squash and peas. It was yummy.

Today (Tuesday): Chicken. We eat a lot of chicken at my house. A LOT of chicken. Tonight, it will be seasoned, breaded and baked. I think I'll make a zucchini, onion and tomato side dish with it.

Wednesday: I'm working late, so dear old dad will be cooking. I'm betting it will be whole-wheat blueberry pancakes and sausage for him and the kiddo.

Thursday: Grilled cheese and tomato soup with homemade red potato "chips". Nothing says comfort food better than that when it's twenty below outside.

Friday: White-chili stuffed green peppers. It sounds funny. Looks strange. Tastes divine.

This weekend is up for grabs. We were supposed to be going out of town, but it looks like we won't be since my munchkin is still sick--that's the update on that. The doc says her airways are not as inflamed (thank goodness) but she's still got a lot of stuff in her tiny little lungs. I think we might have pizza on Saturday and then I'll make stuffed sandwiches on Sunday. Wait a minute. Is this Sunday the Superbowl? I should know this, but I don't. If it's the Superbowl, I may have to make a Superbowl feast since we won't be going anywhere.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Smell of Rain

I received the following as an e-mail message from one of my friends. I don't like to do "forwards", but I was touched by the story and decided to share it. I didn't include the pictures, but I think the story is enough. It's a little mushy, and of course, there's the whole "you-must-forward-it-to-x-number-of-people-in-order-for-it-to-work" thing, but aside from that, it is sweet and, as a believer in God, it kind of rekindles my hope that the world isn't completely falling apart. It came to my inbox at a good time, too, because I'm taking my daughter to the doctor later today for a follow up. I'm hoping it's good news.

At the end of this story, it gives you two options. I think you will figure out what option I chose.

A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. She was still groggy from surgery. Her husband, David, held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news.


That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency Cesarean to deliver couple's new daughter, Dana Lu Blessing.

At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor's soft words dropped like bombs.

"I don't think she's going to make it," he said, as kindly as he could. "There's only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one."

Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Dana would likely face if she survived. She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on!

"No! No!" was all Diana could say.

She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.

But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Dana's underdeveloped nervous system was essentially 'raw', the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn't even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Dana struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.

There was never a moment when Dana suddenly grew stronger.

But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there.

At last, when Dana turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time.

And two months later, though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero, Dana went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.

Five years later, Dana was a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She showed no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairment. Simply, she was everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy ending is far from the end of her story.

One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Dana was sitting in her mother's lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin's baseball team was practicing. As always, Dana was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, little Dana asked, "Do you smell that?"

Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, "Yes, it smells like rain."

Dana closed her eyes and again asked, "Do you smell that?"

Once again, her mother replied, "Yes, I think we're about to get wet. It smells like rain."

Still caught in the moment, Dana shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, "No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest."

Tears blurred Diana's eyes as Dana happily hopped down to play with the other children.

Before the rains came, her daughter's words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along.

During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Dana on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.

You now have 1 of 2 choices. You can either pass this on and let other people catch the chills like you did or you can delete this and act like it didn't touch your heart like it did mine.

IT'S YOUR CALL!

"I can do all things in Him who strengthens me."

This morning when the Lord opened a window to Heaven, He saw me, and He asked: "My child, what is your greatest wish for today?"


I responded: "Lord please, take care of the person who is reading this message, their family and their special friends. They deserve it and I love them very much."

The love of God is like the ocean, you can see its beginning, but not its end.

This message works on the day you receive it. Let's see if it is true. ANGELS EXIST but sometimes, since they don't all have wings, we call them FRIENDS.

Pass this on to your true friends. Something good will happen to you at 11:00 in the morning; something that you have been waiting to hear. This is not a joke; someone will call you by phone or will speak to you about something that you were waiting to hear.

Do not break this prayer; send it to a minimum of 5 people.



Friday, January 25, 2008

God and Bacon

Last year, I wrote a goofy post about bacon and how, according to my co-worker, everything in life is better if you wrap it in bacon. I don't know why I was thinking about it--truth be told, I think I've maybe eaten bacon twice in the past five years. And even that was turkey bacon.

Anyway, it all started when my daughter and I were eating lunch today. I made some chicken, cheese and avocado wraps (courtesy of the leftovers from dinner Wednesday night) and cooked up some pinto beans to go along with it. We were sitting quietly at the table, when my munchkin piped up and asked, "Mommy, we go see God? Go to church?"

I frowned a little. Not because she's asking about going to church, but because I knew I was going to have to tell her no. We're under strict orders from the doctor to keep her away from crowds and pretty much everyone--even family--until after he sees her next week. I broke the news that she couldn't go to church this weekend, but she took it in stride and replied with, "Oh. Okay. Well, God can come here to my house instead."

I did my best to explain that God is always around us, but we can't always see Him. She looked at me with the darndest expression and said, "I don't like it when God hides and I can't see Him. No, no, God. No hide and seek." It took everything in me not to laugh at her puzzled bewilderment and I had to remind myself, of course, that I'm having this conversation with a two-and-a-half-year-old. We finished lunch and she helped me clear the table before crawling into bed for a nap. Poor kid was exhausted.

After she was all snuggly warm under the covers with her favorite baby, a small stuffed frog, a princess baseball cap and a polka-dot sunhat, I went back into the kitchen and sat down at the table where she and I had just finished eating no too long before. I was gazing out the patio door at the leaden January sky that's threatening to drop more snow on the frozen tundra of my backyard when I decided it was time for a sit-down conversation with God.

That was when I started thinking about the bacon story.

My conversation, which was really more of a soliloquy on my part, went something like this...

Hey God. I hope You're having a good day. Things here are pretty good, but I guess You know that already. The kiddo is finally starting to feel better and I'm so grateful that I was able to take the time off work to be with her. But work? Work. I guess that's the point of this coversation today. I'm tired, God. Just tired. Past the point of being burned out and stretching into the realm of being unhappy. I'm working so hard all the time, and I'm afraid that I'm missing out on so much in the meantime. I had wanted so badly to quit my job and stay home to take care of my daughter from the time she was born, but it really wasn't in the cards then. I want so much for it to be in the cards now. I was thinking about a conversation I had with some co-workers about how life is better with bacon. Do You think that You could maybe send some bacon my way? Not bacon in the literal sense. But maybe just a little something extra to ease the pressure I've been under? I would gladly accept, say, a magic wand that I could wave over the pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen so that they would suddenly be clean and put away. But I'll take what I can get. Just something to be able to spend more time with my little girl.

At that moment, my prayer was answered. A small voice (that belongs to a little girl who should have been sleeping) called out, "Mommy? I don't take a nap today. God says we go make cupcakes."

I'm not one to argue with God. Or a cute little kid. Looks like it's time to make some blueberry-lemon cupcakes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Unsettled

I had a very strange experience today. Maybe I'm making too much out of it. I probably am, but I'm still feeling unsettled about it.

I think most people have at least one prized-possession. Not that life is about the things we own, but I believe that we all have things that we hold dear to our hearts. I have lots of things that I treasure--the kinds of things that if my house was burning down, I'd run back to get.

Today, one of my most cherished items was broken beyond repair. It's a vase that's been a part of my life for a few years, something that, each time I looked at it, evoked fond memories of an exceptionally special time in my life. It needed a good dusting, so I did that, but then I decided to move it from its regular spot to a table in another room. I set it on the table, decided that it looked perfect, and then I don't know what happened--I must have bumped the vase itself, or the table, or I don't even know what, but that vase toppled over, crashing onto its side and splintering into hundreds of pieces.

I muttered a cuss word under my breath so my daughter wouldn't hear, then proceeded to spend the next half hour carefully picking up the razor-sharp shards, then thoroughly vacuuming and re-vacuuming to make sure nothing was left.

As I disposed of the bag that held the remnants of the vase (and all the precious memories with it), I waited for that feeling of devastation that I expected, but it didn't come. Even worse, I was suddenly taken with a dark feeling. I didn't feel sad at all. With a slight sense of bitterness, I realized that not only did I not feel sad, I didn't care. I stood looking at it in the trash thinking to myself, "It doesn't matter."

That's why I'm unsettled. I feel like it should matter. Now I'm trying to figure out if maybe it wasn't that important to me in the first place, or maybe I've already got my memories so I don't really need to look at a vase to remember them, or...maybe I finally have to admit that the vase only held a special place for a single moment in time. Everything that happened after was a mess, and I spent a lot of time looking at that vase wishing for things to be the way they were on the day I got it, so maybe it came to represent something bad. I don't know.

Ah well. More nonsense later...

Monday, January 21, 2008

24 Hours Later...

So, yesterday I was all giddy over the goofy matching slippers my daughter and I have (please scroll down and look at the pictures, it's good for a chuckle). One day later--and don't get me wrong, the slippers are still a big highlight of being a mom--things have gone downhill fast.

It never ceases to amaze me how fast a child can get sick. My little munchkin has had a cold for a while. It was sort of hanging on, just lingering, but she was doing fine. Then, during the night last night, it morphed into a monstrosity. I called the doctor's office this morning and they squeezed us in for an afternoon appointment. We've had a few bad scares, but as the day went on today, I started getting that anxious, fluttery feeling in my stomach just knowing that something was going very wrong with my little girl. I've blogged a few times about the ongoing medical issues she's had as a result of RSV, which she got for the first time at a month old (to read more about RSV, click here), and it appears that what's going on now is just part of that ongoing process.

We spent quite a while in the pediatrician's office today, where he did a thorough exam and assured me that I was not overreacting to the purplish-blue hue of her fingers, toes and lips. It's happened before and is usually a strong indication that her lungs are clogged up and her body, though it's working really, really hard to pump oxygen-rich blood to her extremities, just isn't working quite right.

He is not the type of doctor to be in and out of an exam room in five minutes. He easily spent twenty minutes with us, explaining everything, writing out the new medication regimen we have to follow, and making me promise that I'll call him, no matter what time it is, if she gets worse or if she's not starting to show improvement within 36 hours. I adore him. He is the kindest, most gentle and mild-mannered man I have ever met. He's been there for all of us since the munchkin was born. He's always made room in his schedule for us, answered those dreaded middle-of-the-night calls with compassion when we didn't know if we should go the hospital because of the latest medical crisis (FYI, we never had to. He always gave us superior instructions over the phone to help us avoid hospitalization at all costs.), and given top-notch care. I'm getting a little teary while typing this, but for anyone who's ever been seriously ill or had a child or other loved one who's been seriously ill, you understand the value of a really, really good doctor. Our doc is typically very conservative in treatment, but as aggressive as is needed when necessary. My daughter doesn't hesitate to jump into his arms for a hug and tell him she loves him. Yeah, we've been in his office that much.

So, I still love being a parent, but days like today convince me that being a parent also knocks a few years off the anticipated life span. But that's okay. I really wouldn't trade it for anything. Explaining to my boss that my husband and I are juggling who can take days off to stay home with her for the next week is something else entirely. I think the United States needs some kind of legislative action (aside from FMLA) to protect employees' jobs and benefit time when their kids are sick. That, however, is a post for another time.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why I Love Being a Parent...

Reason #734...mommy-daughter slippers!



Ducks...





And bunnies, too!




Annoyingly cute, wouldn't you agree? All four pairs came from Target, courtesy of post-holiday clearance sales. I think my husband and I should buy stock since we shop there so much, especially if I'm going to continue with this silliness!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mars and Venus

Men and women are from the same planet--I think we just speak different languages, which is the direct result of a chromosomal problem. See, women are XX. Men are XY. Since they only have one X, it means they only understand half of what's going on with or being said by their mates--and that's when they're paying attention.

To my darling...I love you, honey, but there are some things I need to clarify:

1. Grocery shopping and fighting Saturday traffic do not qualify as "down time" or "alone time" or "mommy time".

2. I like having clean bathrooms, but cleaning them does not qualify as a relaxing activity--though I am always relieved when it's done.

3. I might love cooking, but sometimes, it still feels like a chore.

4. "Doing laundry" includes folding and putting away the clothes. I know you think you're helping when you wash the clothes, but when you leave a pile of clean clothes sitting in a basket for three days and they get all wrinkled, I end up re-washing them, because I don't have four hours to iron it all.

5. Leaving cans and empty milk jugs on the counter does not count as recycling. You actually have to put them in the recycling bin and put the bin on the curb for it to count.

6. In a woman's world, two squares of toilet paper left on the roll means that there's no toilet paper on the roll.

7. When you can no longer push down the trash in the wastebasket, it means it's full and needs to be taken out.

8. The plastic bags are kept where they've always been kept. That means it takes 4.8 seconds to put a new bag in the empty wastebasket.

9. The same thing goes for the kitchen garbage.

10. All of the dishes (with the exception of the cabinet where the baby bottles used to be) are where they have been since we moved in. Putting dishes away isn't that difficult, I promise.

Make no mistake, I love him, but every now and then, I feel a little crazy...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hump Day Horrors

Okay, not really "horrors" I suppose, but this morning is NOT getting off to a good start.

I only got about 3 hours of sleep last night. Nothing was wrong. Well, nothing was wrong with me. I love my husband, but his snoring is getting out of control. I just couldn't sleep because it was so loud. Ugh. I'm used to being sleep-deprived, but today just isn't the day for it. I got out of bed at 5:30am to work out, which is a good thing. I did a pre-set program on our recumbent bike and sweated like crazy for forty-five minutes. When I got off the bike, that was when everything started falling apart.

By sweating so much, my hair went all crazy and I had to re-wash it. Then I started to blow it out straight, but once I was halfway through, I realized that the part of hair I started with was wavy again. Crisis averted, though. I just ran some curl cream through my hair instead and skipped the rest of blow drying. I hurried and got dressed, only to find out that my black dress pants were hanging by a wool sweater, so there were little wool fibers all over the pants. And of course, I couldn't find a lint roller. Thank goodness for regular scotch tape. I had also planned on being at work by 7:30, but that didn't happen because my stomach went haywire at about 7:15--stupid IBS.

By the time I felt better, it was almost 8:00. I started loading my car with my work stuff--and all my school stuff, too, because classes start tonight and I'm teaching two of them--and I slipped on something on the garage floor and crashed my hip into the rearview mirror on my husband's car. Five minutes and a good round of cursing later, I limped back into the house to get the rest of my stuff.

I finally got to work, only to slip on some ice in the parking lot. I didn't wipe out, thank goodness, though I did twist my already badly bruised hip. Ouch.

Then, I realized that the gas bill didn't get mailed and it's going to cost me money to pay it somewhere in person.

I guess it's true--it really is all downhill once 30 hits...*sigh*

On the up side of it all, my little munchkin gave me a huge hug and kiss this morning before I left and said, "Mommy, you stay home and play with me today." I promised her that I'm home next Monday and we'll spend the whole day doing whatever she wants. I can't wait! And then my husband called me to remind me that he loves me. I guess the day's not quite so bad, after all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thirty Reasons I'm Glad to (Finally!) Be Thirty

1. In theory, my pimples will go away and I'll only have to worry about wrinkles and gray hair.


2. Gray hair is easier to cover than pimples.


3. If people tell me it looks like I've put on some weight, I can say that everyone's metabolism slows down when thirty hits.


4. I get to say, "I'm thirty!"


5. The decade that was my twenties wasn't particularly great.


6. Ages 10-19 weren't that great, either.


7. It's fun to be able to say, "I remember back 25 years ago..." and actually remember something from 25 years ago!


8. I think 30 is the new 20 anyway, so it doesn't matter.


9. I get to pass my profound 30 years of knowledge onto the goofy kids around me.


10. My husband can no longer complain about robbing the cradle since we're both in our 30s now.


11. Cashiers will no longer look at me funny when I buy anti-aging products.


12. Getting carded will now be a compliment instead of a hassle.


13. I really think people will take me seriously, just because of my age.


14. I'm getting closer to AARP discounts.


15. Speaking of discounts, I think my auto insurance rates drop.


16. Along those lines, I can act like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes, when the ditzy women cut her off in the parking lot and say, "Face it, we're younger and faster." Then Kathy Bates crashes into their car and says, "Face it, I'm older and have more insurance." Look out, ditzy girls everywhere!


17. Hopefully, when people ask my age and I say, "Thirty," they'll no longer say, "Really? I thought you were older." Again (and I can't say it enough), being mature or an old soul DOES NOT MAKE ME OLD.


18. Being thirty allows me to complain a little more about my rheumatoid arthritis. When I talked about it before, people always acted like I was some sort of freak. Now, being 30, people are more likely to nod sympathetically and blame the arthritis on my age instead of a condition that I've had since age 22.


19. Quilting and knitting are more age-appropriate and acceptable in this decade of life.


20. I'm still young enough to change careers.


21. If I choose to change careers, employers will still take me seriously and not blame it on immaturity or a midlife crisis.

22. I'm still young enough to have another baby if I choose to do so, but old enough that nobody will think it's strange if I don't.

23. I'm still young enough to be able to learn from my elders, but old enough that people can learn from me, too.

24. I'm one year closer to retirement.

25. I feel like being thirty closes some sort of weird, unspoken generational gap.

26. I can enjoy the song "My Next Thirty Years" by Tim McGraw and really relate to it.

27. The lady at the bank won't look at me funny and say, "You're so young to be thinking about retirement!" the next time I ask about an IRA.

28. I get to say, "My sister and I are both in our thirties."

29. I can make a decision to run for President in five more years. Not.

30. Just because. I'm just glad to be thirty.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday Surprises

I'm sitting in my living room right now, about ready to fall over from exhaustion. Work has been crazy--crazier than usual--but that's not why I'm so tired.

My dear, sweet husband threw a surprise birthday party for me. He got me out of the house this morning by giving me a gift certificate for a massage. The massage was perfect. Completely relaxing. When I got home, I realized the house was very quiet. Too quiet. I got into the hallway and was greeted with a resounding "Surprise!" Holy cow, I almost fell over.

It was a fun afternoon, just hanging out with everyone, eating pizza and...believe it or not...singing karaoke! The highlight of the day (besides just sharing the fun party with my darling niece who just turned 8), was my sweet little girl singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on the karaoke machine. Too cute. Really. I wish I could share more, but I'm exhausted--in a good way, of course. I'll have to share more tomorrow--including how my husband and I sang "I Got You Babe" which was originally done by Sonny and Cher, but we added to it by imitating the version of Cher singing it with Beavis and Butthead.

I'm tired now, so I'm going to take a long hot shower and crash in bed with a good book.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

What's Cooking this Week?

I've been so busy...I painted the bathroom yesterday, went to church this morning and this afternoon I'm working on lesson plans since classes start up again at the university next week. AND even though it's only Sunday, I have my menu plan ready, so I thought I'd share it early.





Sunday (today): Turkey breast, roasted garlic brown rice, steamed zucchini

Monday: Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Tuesday: Herb Ranch pork chops, green beans, baked apples

Wednesday: Tacos, pinto beans

Thursday: Pierogies with red peppers, macaroni and cheese

Friday: Pizza, salad, garlic bread

Saturday (we're having company, so this is a big meal): Baked potato soup, roasted chicken, broccoli, macaroni casserole, blueberry cobbler

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Quilting Craziness

Is 30 old? I'm starting to wonder...

See, I got a book for Christmas. Ready for it? Quilting for Dummies. Funny? Maybe. Even funnier is that I actually asked for it. I really want to start quilting. In fact, I started thinking about a pattern already. It's going to be something for my daughter--maybe a princess theme? Or maybe just a bunch of random colors that she likes? I'm not sure yet. I don't want to do anything too complicated for my first project. Maybe I should do a wall-hanging first to get the hang of it.

My husband tells me that I'm getting old before my time. I just raised an eyebrow and said that being an "old soul" is different from being "old." And if he wants to talk about old, he should take a look at my sewing machine...I inherited it from my grandma and I think it's about 40 years old. It still works, although it's slowing down a bit. I thought about buying a new, portable sewing machine, but the one from my grandma is one of those big, self-contained things where you fold it into the sewing table. It looks like an ordinary end-table when it's all closed up, but 25 seconds and some quick maneuvers later, and PRESTO! I have a complete sewing area.

Plus, I like to think that my grandma's years of sewing expertise will somehow jump from the machine to me. I remember her making me clothes when I was a little girl--mostly pants, because the long legs and wide hips that were obvious on my little body at age 4 (and are much more prominent now) made it impossible for my mom to find pants that fit me. Ah, memories.

I think I'm going to go to the fabric store this afternoon and start looking and getting more ideas for a quilt.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dream, Dream, Dream

For the past three nights, I've had to shoo lions out of my daughter's bedroom.

She is normally such a good sleeper--she gets in her jammies, cuddles up for a story, then plays quietly in her bed for a few minutes before drifting off to sleep...

Until she had a bad dream about a lion running around her ceiling and another one jumping out of her mirror. Strange, right? I tried being my normal, rational self in explaining to her that there were no lions in her room, but she was absolutely refusing to even go into her bedroom, let alone crawl into bed to go to sleep.

I wear a lot of hats in my daily life, and I finally realized that I had to take off my mommy hat and my counselor hat, and put on my scared two-and-a-half year old hat.

So, I pulled out a bottle of Vanilla-Lavendar Linen Spray and called it Lion Spray. My daughter and I have been spraying her bedroom each night since the bad dream--one spray toward the ceiling, one spray by her dresser, and one spray by the closet door, just in case there's one hiding in there. She's back to sleeping peacefully.

I wish it was so easy to chase away my own bad dreams.