Friday, November 11, 2016

The {what is most useful? podcasts, doing it well and popcorn} post

I haven’t written in forever.  And it really is one of the things that I would like to do more of.  Even though it may fly in the face of what I am going to write about a few paragraphs down.  For today, writing it is.

I wake up around 5:30 some days and I can’t go back to sleep because my mind is racing.  Today’s thought that my brain HAS to answer:  What do people find most useful after a family member dies.

And somehow, in the part of my brain that does all the cool stuff, I laid in bed trying to create an imaginary poll so that I could find out just what that thing is that would be most helpful to have someone show up and plop in your hands after you lose someone.  I wasn’t sure if a Facebook post would be the right platform.  And blogging can be iffy – it might not reach all eight readers that I used to have.  So, how, my mind asks, do I find the answer to this question?

Earlier this week I heard about Mom Struggling Well podcasts and I have started listening to them.  

I have really enjoyed all 1.8 podcasts that I have managed to listen to even though I have to fight my way through interruptions and have had to restart the podcasts about sixteen times per show. 

Laura Kelley was the guest on Episode 61 that I listened to yesterday and the one thing that I took away from her story is that she sliced her commitment list and decided to do the things that she HAS to do and do them WELL.

This got me thinking that I need to do a few things well too.  I have taken on the task of homeschooling and I don’t always feel like I do it well.  I am also in charge of preparing food for my family and some days I do that well.  And other days they would be better off scraping sludge off the bottom of the oven at the bakery.  

But her insight was pretty good – do the things that you are going to be doing anyway and do them well.  Not as an afterthought.  Not as the thing you have to rush through to get to the good stuff.  But well.
I have already applied this concept.  As I was driving home and listening to these wise words my brain – the part with the never ending to-do list – was going.  I needed to send things to a client, I needed to pick up my kids, I needed to help my parents with some furniture –

funny story by the way – little blue chair got stuck in their stairway.  There I am, trying to calculate which way the chair needs to turn to make the turn in the stairway – and there is my dad, fully aware that the space I am trying to turn the chair is smaller than the chair itself.  Meanwhile, my mom is downstairs offering us a Sawzall and telling us “It went up there, it should be able to come down.”  Because, let’s face it, when you have a blue chair stuck in the middle of a stairwell that truth is exactly what you need to hear.   (I love you mom!)

I also needed to get coffee for TDM so that he isn’t forced to drink the equivalent of coffee sludge tomorrow (I mean this) morning.  But the process of buying coffee isn’t just buying coffee.  The grocery store has a spend $75, get a gas coupon deal going and If I am spending $6 on coffee, by heck and by golly, I am going to spend $75 and get my coupon.  So I had already planned my grocery list out earlier in the day and just had to decide if I was going last night or if TDM was drinking sludge again.  I was pretty sure that I could just run into the store quickly and grab my list’s worth of things.  The variables were:  whether or not they had two bags of popcorn ready to go for Miss E and Smiley Girl.  If only one half-full cup of water would fly tonight.  Whether or not the car-carts had been hidden adequately prior to our arrival.  The time of night that I would be arriving on scene – since the time change has kicked Smiley Girl’s tush and she is ready for full on melt down at 7pm.  

And hormones.  

Yes, popcorn and hormones are a factor in how successful the shopping trip would be.  Because popcorn and hormones are the difference between me walking out of the grocery store like this:

{Insert picture of happy lady shopping with two angelic children.  I would, but that would require more clicks of the mouse and several log ins and I just don't have it in me.}

And like this:

{Insert picture of crazed angry mom with cranky non-angelic children in tow.}

I was pretty sure that I could do it last night.  And then the words from the podcast hit my brain.  And I realized that there was no way on God’s green earth that it was something I would be able to do WELL. 


So I sent the work into the clients, ate a piece of chicken, got the blue chair stuck, packed up the kids and we came home.

Where I sat on the couch and talked to TDM and Miss E for a bit before carrying Smiley Girl – who was dressed in a polka dot Minnie Mouse dress, purple cow pajama pants, hair in a bun that didn’t start out messy and the remains of lipstick that DID start out messy – to bed.

And I did it well.

So that leaves TDM drinking sludge this morning and me pondering my 5 am question and wondering what time out be optimal to do the store well this morning. 

Feel free to weigh in on those subjects or any other one you care to mention in the comments.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday + Mr Toad

It is raining here for the first time in I don't even know how long.  Other than the few minutes that it rained while we were camping several weeks ago and the two seconds that it sprinkled on Tuesday afternoon.

I am a firm believer in Rain + Saturday = Lazy.

My children do not subscribe to Rain + Saturday = Lazy.

This morning my children awoke at 6:30 am.  Smiley Girl asked for breakfast because, as usual, she is STARVING!  Miss E asked to play a game.  And read a book.  And.  And.  And.  At that point I was still trying to prop my eyes open after a night of sleep that equaled a very tiny amount of actual sleep.

The morning progressed with me trying to read a book, move some laundry around and field questions such as "Where is the other dolly stroller?", "Can I keep my toad?", "Can we play a game?", "Can I have a Pop Tart?", "How do you spell Tea Party?" until Miss E arrived with a toad in a small container to ask what toads eat.  "Can we look online Mama?"

She hasn't discovered yet that the proper way to refer to online is "The Google."  Parent fail.

I finish what I am doing and check "The Google" for toad diet trends.  Fascinating stuff.  Toads eat...bugs.  I tell her what she needs to find if she wants to keep the toad.  She turns up her nose.

So I tell her that she will have to let the toad go if she isn't willing to feed it the food it needs to live.

She makes several faces, accompanied by several hand flicks that indicate the level of grossness this project has reached.  And then she recruits her sister to go hunt for bugs with her.

Off they go into the rain drenched yard to find bugs.  Miss E is dressed in a Tinkerbell nightgown and flip flops.  Smiley Girl has popsicle pajamas on with a pair of pink cowboy books.  They are ready to hunt.

Like any good mom I look out occasionally to make sure they aren't having any luck.  But then I hear it.  The squeal of disgusting success.

It sends shivers down my spine.  They have found something gross.  And alive.  I wait patiently thinking that they may be too afraid to pick it up.  Hearing the squeals move closer I begin to panic.  I hear them just outside the garage and begin to pray.  This is a critical time.  If they can't manipulate the bug and the door I may be home free.  More squeals.  They are coming closer.  A really bad squeal and then "MOOOOOOM!!!!!"

I open the door from the house to the garage to see two soaking wet children.  Smiley Girl - clearly nominated the 'digger' - has mud up to her elbows.  Miss E is carrying a shovel.  "Is this a slug?" she asks, pointing to the thing desperately trying to escape death by seven year old.

{I HAVE NO IDEA!  I don't do bugs.  I stay inside with a book.  And laundry!}

"Close enough" I tell them.

And with a floosh and a twirl I grab a container that will become the toads new home and manage to plop the sluggish looking thing into the dish.  Whew!

I direct Miss E to drill holes in the lid of the new container.  A fight breaks out over who gets to do the drilling.  Eventually the drill battery dies.  I watch as the creature tries to find his footing.  The poor thing.  His death is forthcoming.

I put the lid on the container, the battery on the charger and head back to my book.

Pretty soon they are back to finish the job.  Anxious to have this over with I drill the holes in the lid.  And we have a small scream ceremony where Mr Toad is moved from his small container to his new digs.

I give this toad a day, two at the most.  Pray for him please.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How to make Hungarian Goulash (almost)


1 lb sirloin steak
Olive oil
Beef broth
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp onion powder
¼ tsp Paprika
1 small can tomato soup
Egg noodles


Step 1:  Acquire gobs of meat from your generous sister in law’s freezer.  Discuss making Hungarian Goulash.  Compare recipes that you were each given along with recipes on The Google and various other places. 

Step 2:  After one week take 1 package of Sirloin out of the freezer and allow to thaw overnight. 

Step 3:  Pour 1 tbsp Olive Oil into crockpot. 

Step 4:  Cut meat into 1” cubes, trimming fat.

Step 4:  Dump meat into crockpot.

Step 5:  Add generous amounts of salt and pepper and enough water/broth/boullion/stuff to cover.

Step 6:  Cook on High for as long as it takes you to take two children to school and one adult to work to do accountanty stuff for two hours, pick preschooler up, run three errands, talk to two people, order a BLT Crunchwrap from Taco Bell and return home..  Approx 5 hours.

Step 7A:  Remove cooked meat from crockpot, dividing into two portions – one for this meal and one for the freezer.

Step 7B:  Put one portion of meat, 1 Tbsp flour and approx. 1 cup of broth taken from crockpot into sauce pan.  Stir.

Step 8:  Add one small can of Tomato Soup, a little more broth and salt and pepper if needed.  Add about 1 Tbsp onion powder and ¼ teaspoon paprika.

Step 9:  Stir together.  Taste.  Think.  Furrow brow.  Stir.

Step 10:  Place lid of sauce pan and place in fridge.

Step 11:  Drive to friends house, visit for a bit, pick up oldest child from school, return to friends house, chat and do last minute crafty stuff until 5:20pm.

Step 12A:  Return home, discover that after removing meat and all broth from the crockpot you failed to turn it off.  Try to scrape burned on bits off of the bottom before the crock cools.

Step 12B:  Start a pan of ‘Noodle Water’, deal with backpacks, pick up random dishes, start a load of laundry.

Step 13:  Add noodles to water, place ‘Sauce’ pan on burner and low to medium-ish heat.

Step 14:  Make your own bed, pick up Mardi Gras beads neighbor brought over, debate cleaning off your dresser.  Decide you can’t deal with that mess.

Step 15:  Return to kitchen, realize that ‘Sauce’ is burning.  Attempt to rescue this train wreck by scraping unburned portion into a cereal bowl.

Step 16:  Drain noodles.

Step 17:  Serve noodles covered by sauce and meat except for the following:
Pink plate:  noodles with sauce and meat
Purple plate:  Create an invisible line on the plate. Place noodles on one side of line, cover with small amount of ONLY sauce.  Place meat on the other side of the line.
Step 18:  Eat. Furrow brow.  Ponder.  (Too tired to think.)  Eat.  Wonder what your sister in law would think.  Wonder what husband would think.

Step 19:  Write blog post.

Step 20:  Argue with oldest child about need for a bath.

Step 21:  Mix together youngest daughters remaining food and eat.

Recipe duplication rating:  Almost.  The texture is right on, flavor feels like it is lacking something. My best guess is hot sauce but it could be tomato paste.
Easy of cooking:  Very easy.
East of cleaning up;  I don't even want to think about it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jesus Loves Me in the checkout line

Standing in the checkout line I was beyond frustrated.  My kids had been mostly good throughout the store but there were quite a few sibling fires that I had put out.  I was tired from the lack of sleep that usually accompanies a major holiday and tired from playing referee to the girls...and tired of dealing with the monster that rears it's head in my daughter every time we walk into a store.


"I want this.  I want this.  I really want this.  I want that, but I also want this.  Can we buy this?  How much does it cost?  Well, you have $xx.xx.  You are mean."

Yesterday they asked if we could look at fish, so we did because I needed to take a phone call and it seemed like an innocent distraction. Except that with a Wanter already going full speed ahead it became an all out fight because Miss E wanted a fish.  And she wanted it now.

Pets have been a recent request at our house.  We currently have none.  And while cute and cuddly, most of them take a lot of work.  But Miss E reasoned...a fish just needs food.  Right?

I try to find teachable moments so I told her the prices of various fish and then showed her the supplies that she would need to go along with the fish - hoping desperately that understanding of how much things cost would help her Wanter to lay off a bit.  It didn't.

Instead it brought about a full on pout.  And that is how we arrived that the checkout.

So there I am, praying that the people in front of me will move quickly and that nothing comes out of my mouth that will land me in an evidence video on someone's phone or in the DHS office explaining that while I threatened a four year old with abandonment I absolutely never would do such a thing.

It was bad.

Two ladies entered the line behind us and clearly overhearing yet another attempt to explain to Miss E why we don't get everything we want in life, one of them said to Miss E "Your mom needs a hug.  You should hug her."  She then demonstrated by giving her own mom a hug and saying "You are never too old to give your mom a hug."

We inched forward in line as I was busy telling one child or another why we weren't going to buy every single item that marketing geniuses and mother haters have conveniently crammed into the checkout area.  It's enough to make a mother lose her mind.

And then I see the lady in front of us turn to Miss E, slip something into her hand and tell her "That is for you to share with your sister.  You can both get something."  I shuffled myself around to see what exactly had just happened and realize that the woman had just given my daughter a large denomination bill.  I was stunned.

Both girls thanked the woman, though I think they didn't really understand what had happened.  With tears in my eyes I offered my thanks as well.  And the woman responded with "God told me to do it.  He has His reason."  She then turned to the girls and said "Do you know Jesus?  Do you know the song Jesus Loves Me?" as she began to sing the first few lines.  I realize that both of the ladies behind us have started to sing as well and literally the only thought in my head is that only the Lord could orchestrate a checkout line full of people singing 'Jesus Loves Me'!

I am overwhelmed at the outpouring of love I felt standing in the checkout line.  Jesus does love me.  And today I find myself so thankful for the ladies that took a minute to act on the Lord's prompting to encourage our family.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love wins.

My husband disagrees with me on television but this morning, I am very happy that we don't have network television in our home.  I am happy that our little home is one not filled with images and celebrations of the gay community.

I don't hate gay people.  But I don't believe that their 'win' is really as great of a win as they would like to believe.

And I don't want my young daughters seeing women marrying women because the supreme court said that it's okay.  They will see it - don't get me wrong - but they don't have to have it streamed to them twelve hours a day.

Because here is the thing:  Whether a man and a man can legally get married or a woman and a woman can be on the same health insurance policy or not = God' Truth doesn't change.

God still sits on the Throne and He still makes the rules.  And in the end, His love is the one that wins.

But in the mean time the world is going to do everything that it possibly can to try to destroy Truth.  The world doesn't understand that Truth doesn't change.  And it can't be destroyed.

It is, and He is, the great I Am.  Period.

So, legally, in America a woman can marry a woman.  And a man who still is a man but altered himself into a woman can marry a woman or a man.  It's legal.

But it really isn't so simple.

Yes, yes, I know, those who are so much more knowledgeable and educated than me will use mountains of ginormous words designed to confuse the argument and make me sound like a stupid snively woman that allows God to ruin my fun.  They will 'prove' that I am brainwashed into believing in a God that they know doesn't exist.  They know all about this God that they have never cared to have a relationship with.  Good for them.

America has begun a slippery day the choice facing the court will be more personal.  It will affect the individual American with greater impact.  And the precedent has been set.  The moral code is gone.  The rights of an individual state have been stripped.  And it isn't going to be pretty.

And I know, I know... that will never happen.  Except that one hundred years ago people would have thought the debate on abortion ridiculous because of course human life is precious.  And fifty years ago our parents never would have thought about marriage being redefined.

But the bigger thing isn't about rights in America.  The bigger thing is that one day everyone will stand before the Lord and they will be judged.  I don't matter.  Your neighbor doesn't matter.  The state you live in doesn't matter.  But God does.  And He will deal severely with those who have mocked him.

So, mock away.  Tell me how horrible I am that I have such antiquated beliefs.  Tell me how ridiculous I am to want to protect my children by surrounding them with God's truth rather than the world's ridicule of it.  Take the symbol of God's Promise and destroy it.

Love wins.  God wins.

The God that created you, the same one that spoke the earth into being, also has a plan for you.  He wants to know you intimately and to have a relationship with you.  He doesn't want you to spend the next life in the fiery pits of hell.  He wants to spend it with you.  And He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to make that possible.

If you want to know more about God's ultimate Love - the love that wins - reach out to me.  I would love to talk more with you about Him.  Find a Bible or the Bible app on your phone and start with the book of John.

True Love wins.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My next thing

It's a funny thing, the way that an idea will begin.  I will be working on something, usually at the kitchen sink, and little thoughts begin to become bigger thoughts.  It usually begins with thoughts about something I have read recently and the points that spoke to me filtered through truths that I know.   I find inspiration in that place.

And I struggle with wanting to re-write what I read to make it mine, not to steal, just to capture the printed word and customize it to my heart.

But I can't.

They wouldn't be my words.

They would forever be someone else's that I took.

And here is the thing -

That's okay.

Because that author said yes to the ideas and truths that formed her heart.  And I can take from them to learn and grow, but they will never be mine.

That path wasn't mine from the start.

And it's a funny thing  - of choosing the right path and saying yes and knowing that the things I said yes to were created to be mine - that leads to contentment.

And while contentment can easily be pushed away by wants and the world, that place of contentment is where I want to stay.

So this morning as a ruminate on these words:

And the truth that God is in it all, and that His plan doesn't end with this world.

Because we spoke of the bigger goal of family the other day and it is good to be reminded that every choice we make affects that family.  Everything I say yes to.  Everything I turn away from.  Every sacrifice we both make.  Every time we seek the Lord.  Every everything.

And I find comfort there.

Comfort that for today, my next step is to do the next thing.

To start another load of laundry, to hang it on the line.

To dress my hoodlums and head out to see friends.

To make a grocery list.

To take time to laugh with cute girls and to point their hearts toward God.

To pray with their Daddy over the things that touch his heart.

To seek God in each step.

Because this is a life created by the One with the Master Plan.  And while I don't know every road this life will take, He does.  And slowly we are making the life intended for us.

One next thing at a time.

One yes to the things that are mine.

One yes to the people placed in my care.

One yes to my Creator.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dave the American

Last week as many in America debated the definition of courage a man who embodied courage slipped from this life into the next.  His name didn't make a magazine cover, it was limited instead to a few lines under the 'Obituary' section.

David Peterson, American, will be honored tomorrow by family, friends and those from his community. 

Most of you have never heard Dave's name before - yet you owe him a debt of gratitude.  You see, Dave is a hero.  Dave, at the age of 19 was drafted into the military and shipped off to Europe.  World War II was raging as Dave became one of the 1,800 men that made up the Devil's Brigade. 

Earlier this year their unit was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal - the highest civilian honor given by Congress.  The medal was a long time coming - Dave turned 91 on his last birthday. 

Dave returned from the war, re-entered the work force, joined the Operating Engineers Local No. 324 and played a part in rebuilding our country.  Dave also played a part in my husband's growing up years - an honorary grandpa of sorts. 

And that is why this hat sits on our dining room table.  When Dave was heading for the warm Florida sunshine a few years ago he asked what TDM would like to have - and TDM choose the hat.  A symbol of a courageous friend.

Think what you will of wars, unions and heroes.  I know what a hero looks like - and that's Dave.