Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spiderwebbing: Made for Each Other

(resurrection (n): the act of posting on a blog after a long hiatus due to numerous family life circumstances impeding the posting)

Do you ever have quiet moments when a profound thought enters your head.  You chew on it and mull over it when all of the sudden it leads to another profound yet related thought?  I love when that happens.  It's in those moments that the Holy Spirit "visibly" increases your faith, gratitude, and therefore outlook on life.  I had one of those moments tonight.

How does this spiderwebbing relate to 31:27?  Because we all need to remember that God knows what He's doing when He places people in families together.  When we remember that, our focus turns upward and causes us to serve our families with more fervor and cheerfulness!  On to the story...

The Set Up:  Five sleeping children.  One sick and sleeping husband.  The other two adults having a lovely birthday dinner out.  No electronics on save for that upon which I type.  Perfectly QUIET house (pause...I need to take it in again...).  Then there is coughing from upstairs.  Oh right, I need to go give a treatment to EA.

The Action:  I knelt by his bedside as he slept semi-peacefully despite the bouts of coughing.  I prepped his neb machine and figured out how to position the mask so it would not disturb him.  Do I just leave it propped up and go finish working on the grocery list?  Normally, I would (shame on me).  But tonight, I chose what was better.  To stay with my son, pray over him, think about him, take in his awesome good looks and tender childishness.  I sat there contemplating how precious his life is.  Sad that I can not remember my kids as babies (praise the Lord for videos!).  How rough his medical history is, all of 5 years. Having a child with chronic health problems means going through years of phases where you get as much sleep as you did with an infant.  We wake up to coughing, gagging, neb treatments, crying, a child on the end of our bed about to throw up...  So thankful it's just phases for us!  It's hard work.  Work that I can be so impatient with and even angry when he just won't  "calm DOWN or you'll only get WORSE..."  And then it hit me.

How good our God is to have given EA to ME.  A woman who grew up with asthma and allergies in the household of a doctor, often exposed to the medical world and therefore very used to it.  I know what asthma looks and feels like first-hand.  A woman who is capable and keenly attentive when it comes to medical hullabaloo.  And not grossed out by medical stuff.  God put EA in OUR family.  A family who can provide for him and who watches him closely, who gets him the medical care he needs.  If our God were not who He is, EA could have been born to someone who didn't care as much or couldn't provide as much.

And my son would die.

He would die if he were born into that kind of situation.  My friend D's daughters would die if they were born to someone not as attentive and caring as D is.  None of our kids would have made it very long at all.  Elijah maybe not even past 6 months which was when his first ER visit and hospitalization were.  Her girls not past the moment that the wrong food entered their mouths or the first asthma attack hit.

I suddenly found myself praising God for giving me a child with difficult medical problems.  Because that meant that this adorable curly haired, mischievous, compassionate, hunky chunk of spunk would live.  He would have someone to care for his unique needs and teach him the ways of life.  Someone to show him the love of Christ and teach him the ways of God.  How fun and amazing!  But if God gave EA to me, then that means....  Spiderweb alert!

God created me specifically for EA.

He knew that He had created me as a mother with the "stuff" necessary to persevere through the rough times.  He created our family for EA with what we would need spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally to make sure our sweet son grows as healthy as his little body will allow.  Does that mean my husband and I never have weak moments of tears, worry, impatience, anger, flippancy, and such?  By no means.  We are imperfect sinners.  But we can be assured that God has given us what it takes to parent a child like EA.  Because EA is ours.

God also knew that having a child like EA would be just what I need to stretch my faith and increase my trust in Him as sovereign God, Great Physician, Comforter.  Monday morning, when I woke up to hear Elijah starting to cry and cough terribly, I could not shake the sobering thought, "My son is going to die from this."  It was a battle against the flesh for a couple days, taking every thought captive as his fever spiked again... as he complained of not being able to breath with another 3 hours until his next treatment...  During a shower, I couldn't stop thinking about the whole "lay your Isaac down" thing.  Is he my Isaac, Lord?  Are You going to ask me to lay him down, like REALLY lay him down or maybe just proverbially?  Cuz I can do the proverbially.  But would You really ask me to give my sweet son up?  Are You going to ask me to deal with seeing him breathless and lifeless someday?  ....  Stop it, woman!  EA is God's child first.  And God should be your First.  If God asks you to cross that bridge, you'll have the stuff you need to do it.  (Not to mention, I have dear friends who literally have had to lay their children in the arms of God, breathless and lifeless to this earth -- so stop it, woman!  Don't travel that road in thought until your feet hit that path, if ever!)  Indeed, God knows I need a child like Elijah to grow me in specific ways to be more like Christ!  And if God gave EA to me, then...

Spiderweb alert!  God gave ME specifically to EA.  To my whole family.  Not just to their benefit in life, but because He created THEM with the stuff needed to have me as the wife and mother.  I've been through three weeks of testing to find out if I have MS.  (There, it's public now.)  I should find out for sure Monday at 2:00.  Even if I don't have MS (which it's looking very likely), I have a bad back.  The older I get, the more I will be limited in what I can do for my husband and children.  I don't like that.  I'm a Doer kind of woman.  I don't want their lives to be harder -- I'm supposed to be here to make it easier!  It's my job!  Add MS on top of my back problems, and that moves the Doer's fence in a lot tighter.  But God knew all that when He planned who would be in our family.  He created my husband, my sons, and my daughter(s?) with everything they need inside and out to live with a wife and mother who is limited.  What a comfort and relief that is!!!  It's ok to be limited because my God goes before and has prepared my family for this.  What a thought!  Flip side:  He created me for them, to grow them in the Faith.  You get the picture.  They are here for my sanctification just as I am here for their sanctification.  :-)

God gave EA to us...  He created us for EA...  He created them for me...  He created me for them...  And round and round it can go!

Only a sovereign Creator-Father could take imperfection caused by a broken world and make it work beautifully for His glory.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Meat Storage: A New Method

A while back, I did a post to show you how I freeze my meat and stretch my chicken.  Well, change is sometimes a good thing to experiment with; and I'm a master at changing things up (a good AND bad thing).  I love the space-saving aspect of flat ziploc bags of meat.  But what I've learned is that it really doesn't work well for me since I have wire shelving in my freezer -- and not enough shelves.  Bags can not stand upright or else corners (or whole bags!) slip through the cracks.  Stacking flat is ok... until you barely brush against them and the whole stack slips apart.  Frustrating.  Irritating.  And downright dangerous to your feet.  (I can vouch for the fact that a pound of frozen hamburger falling on top of your foot HURTS.)  I had to come up with something new to see if I could use more vertical space in my freezer and reduce the amount of slippage that was occurring.

ARGH!  Dislike.  (Except for the ice cream...)
I had a coupon for a value pack of Glad containers which stack well and are not a huge investment if something goes wrong with them or I end up not liking the new method.  First step... wash 'em all.

I also tried out buying all of our meat for the month at one time (thank you, BJs Wholesale Club, especially for your low price on chicken... cuz it's insane everywhere else).  I've really enjoyed not buying meat every week!  Anyway, I had all my beef and chicken and all my washed Glad containers set up.  A pound of beef fit nicely in one size/shape, and a meal's worth of chicken fit nicely in a more flat, square shape.  At the wisdom of my mother and against my lazy will, I patted plastic wrap down over each serving of meat to help prevent freezer burn.  :-)

I promise I'm not trying to be a commercial for Glad brand... it just happened that way.
It didn't take very long to divide up all the meat, and I love how perfectly uniform stacks of [item] look!  I'm a sucker for organization.  ::dreams of closets like the Bed Bath & Beyond's towel area looks::

 And here's the way my freezer ended up looking.  I threw out what needed to get out, put all my bean ziplocs in the drawer, and just generally straightened things up a bit.  Look at all that vertical space now in use!  I'm still waiting to determine if I truly like this method long term, but so far so good.  I also REALLY like how I can just reach in and pull out tomorrow's meat, pop it in the fridge to thaw, and not have the slightest worry about a bag leaking raw meat juices (eww) everywhere.  Another bonus?  WASHABLE.  No more going through bag after bag after bag and buying more bags after bags.  And no, I will not wash ziploc bags -- that just negates the convenience factor they are intended for!  I'm not that un-lazy!  ;-)

Note:  Kathie has a freezer drawer which lends itself to flat ziploc bags as you can "file" them neatly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit T-Shirts

 A couple of weeks ago, I was looking at Pinterest and came across the idea to use a bleach pen to create fun t-shirts.  I thought it was a great idea to do with my grandchildren!  A few days after seeing the bleach pen t-shirt idea, I came across a blog post that talked about how important it is to teach kids that we not only put off bad behavior, we put ON good behavior!  It mentioned the object lesson of taking off a t-shirt and putting on a new one.  While discussing the blog post with Dawn, I thought of combining the two ideas for my out-of-state grandchildren.  I liked the thought of doing this, the fun t-shirts AND the Fruits of the Spirit idea, because it is one way I can have a spiritual influence on my grandchildren even though I'm far away.   It really was an easy project.  I completed all the t-shirts in about 2-3 hours, including waiting for the bleach to work.  Here's how to do it!

In the tutorial post, she talked about putting a cutting board or something in the shirt to keep the bleach from leaking to the other side of the shirt.  I just used waxed paper.  It worked beautifully.  Also the bleach pen I used had two tips.  One end had a "fat" tip and one end had a "skinny" tip.  I liked having the option of the two sizes.  So to start, you slip a piece of waxed paper into the shirt.  You can do an extra step and use chalk to write out your word (and even a design if you want!), or you can just go straight to using the bleach pen.  Start it out on a paper towel to make sure it is flowing well.

I used the fat tip for some shirts and the skinny tip for others.  The LOVE shirt is written with the fat tip, and the photo shows it early in the process of bleaching.  The Gentleness shirt is written with the skinny tip and is farther along in the process.  (I found that the red shirt took the longest of all the colors to bleach all the way.)

The tutorial post notes that bleaching can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours.  Once your bleaching is finished, take out the waxed paper and rinse the shirt very well.  When you have done this with all the shirts, wash and dry them.

This is after the Goodness shirt had been rinsed but not washed. I didn't plan for the "skinny" tip letters to turn out with an unbleached center line... it just happened!  Dawn & I love it!!  It gives the shirt a little extra flare!  :-)
The finished set of Fruit of the Spirit t-shirts!
This really was an enjoyable project!
The grandchildren seemed to like them!
Here are Lij and JG in their favorite colors.

Well... Snickers didn't seem too keen on wearing Self-Control. :-D 
Parent Testimony:  "These shirts don't just work for the kids.  It's very hard as a parent to not be convicted of your own lack of Fruit when you are getting overly upset at a child wearing a shirt that is blaring PATIENCE or SELF-CONTROL back at you..."  ;-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Never-ending Laundry

I had to explain to JG the other day the quote, "A mother's work is never done."  Laundry is one of the reasons behind that saying!  I've attempted numerous methods to stay on top of the never-ending laundry in my home.  I've tried doing laundry ALL on one day which meant about 7 loads, and it was almost certain one or more loads would be left crumpled in a hamper waiting to be folded (for days...or in the washer or dryer...washer being the worst of the know what I mean).  I've tried designating days for which type of load.  Yeah, that didn't work at all because life gets in the way.  I've tried doing one load a day, but I am too OCD about "properly" sorting laundry to just throw all the day's clothes/towels in one load. I've tried doing laundry on just two days, but some piles weren't big enough to do; and it just got too confusing.  Frustrating.  I've also never liked having to get three different hampers and take them to one central place to sort the loads and have it all overtake my laundry room.  Annoying.

SOLUTION!  Yes, I have found one that works really well for our family and might be worth trying for yours.  A solution that does not take up mountains of floor space, tells me when which load needs to be done, AND one that my kids and Hubz can consistently help with.  Woo hoo!  Walmart has laundry hampers that are tall, thin, and white.  Simple and organized looking.  I purchased three of them (approx $18 total) to place at the top of our stairs where we have a little landing area.  They come with stickers: whites, colors, and darks.  I put two "whites" stickers on either side of the whites hamper and so on with the colors and darks.  (I REALLY wish I had room for four baskets as I am a whites, lights, brights, and darks gal... but I will take the room I can get and compromise for now!)  This spot is very central to the bedrooms in our home, so my kids and Hubz can immediately (or when reminded to) take their dirty clothing to the hampers and sort them.  This means no dirty clothes littering the bedroom floor or bathrooms.  It also means teaching them how to sort laundry.  And it means that at a glance, I can see which load must be done -- each hamper is a great size for one load of laundry.  Hamper full?  Slide that baby into the laundry room (or have a kid do it!), throw it all in the washer, start it up, return hamper.  DONE.  No gathering hampers.  No sorting into piles.  No random hampers taking up space in bedrooms or laundry room with dirty clothes waiting to be washed.  No panic that this load was not done on this day.  No zillion loads in one day.  Wash, dry, fold.  It is RARE that I have to do two loads a day.  I think this method is wonderful because it is more relaxed and flexible... and it runs me rather than me trying to control it.  If that makes sense.  :-)

(Towels are a different story -- I have one hamper in the laundry room for those.)

I.  AM.  IN.  LOVE.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Think Outside the Bag

Just a quick tip to think outside the norm when you're in search of something.  I have had the same small plastic Mary Kay bag for years to hold my make-up.  I've never really had lots of make-up, so I don't need much to hold it all.  But the bag has never fit properly in the drawer it needs to be in, nor does it keep it's contents upright or organized (which annoys this efficient-ista).  I had to get some new eye shadow today since one of my little sets has reached the point of crumbling to bits in the sink when I swipe my brush over it.  :-P  Extra tip from my Hubz: instead of having to buy a whole new trio, buy individual eye shadows to replace what is gone and keep the remaining eye shadow in the set (i.e. Almay for brown eyes trio always runs out of tan and purple shadow with PLENTY of dark brown left...).  So while I was on the task of buying make-up, I decided to "splurge" $8 and get a new container for my make-up.  Unfortunately, the store I was at was severely lacking in variety and seemed to cater to a certain group/style.  But it is SO rare I get to go shopping alone with a very loose time frame, so I didn't want to walk out empty handed.  Think, think, think!  After visiting the purses, luggage, Rubbermaid type storage, etc, I ended up in the office aisle.  And found the PERFECT solution!  A nice sturdy, compartmentalized black mesh desk organizer that slides perfectly into place in our vanity.  It has compartments for lips, mascara/liner, trios, blush, individual eye shadows, brushes, foundations, and a drawer that holds my loose powder perfectly.  All it took was a little bit of thinking outside the make-up bag!

What are some things you have used in unconventional ways?  Please share!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Pinteresting and Cute Gift Idea

Oh how I like Pinterest!!  It has so many good ideas and is a wealth of information.  If you aren't on Pinterest and you want to be just ask and Dawn or I will be happy to invite you.  Though, as Dawn said in her post about it, it can be a time consumer.

So, I have been really trying some of the things I've seen on Pinterest.  Some things have worked great, like compact packing so you only have to take a rolling carry-on on the plane.  Some haven't worked, like the "No-poo" method of washing hair.  One of my endeavors was a gift for my sweet little granddaughter, Snickers, second birthday.  She is a sweet, charming, active bundle of joy and all girl.  She "painted" her toe nails with white board marker, how girly is that!  :)  Anyway, what little girly girl doesn't need a tutu???  Pinterest to the rescue.  There are oodles of tutorials out in the land of the Internet, so I don't want to add to the oodle.  Do a search and find one that is easy for you!  But I do want to show you the finished product.  This is an easy and pretty inexpensive project.  I think it would make cute birthday/Christmas presents for little girls.  The other thing I found as I was looking at different tutorials was how creative you can get with these.  Mine is pretty basic.

Finished and ready to send to Snickers!

The Birthday Fairy (chasing her two older brothers...)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A New Friend

I'm starting to hear more and more about Bar Keepers Friend, a cleaning product.  I finally remembered to look for it at Lowes when we were there last (ok, I didn't remember... we just happened to be walking down the cleaning aisle to a different area when I realized I could look for it).  The main reason I was interested is because I saw on Pinterest that it can be used to get gray silverware marks off of white dishes.  Well, I have a whole set of marked-up white dishes!!  It did wonders, I tell you.  See for yourself!  Now I can make them sparkle like nearly-new anytime I want rather than ho-humming about white dishes that look over used.  All you do is get a damp cloth, squirt some Bar Keepers Friend on the cloth or dish, use some elbow grease to rub the marks off, rinse, and wash the dish.

Ps - Remember those knives at I bought at BJs in April and raved about how great they were though it seemed like a too-good-to-be-true deal?  Well, I hate to say it, but some of them are getting rust spots.  ARGH!  I've tried to contact the guy who sold them but to no avail.  I still love the look, feel, and quality edge of the knives.  And now, I have my new Friend to get rid of the rust spots.  Easy peasy!

Bowls - After & Before
Plates - Before & After

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Great Time Saver From Pinterest

Shredding Chicken
Kathie's Tip

Ah, Pinterest, the website that I enjoy.... too much.  It is loaded with such great ideas, some of which seem a little wacky.  Well call me wacky!!  I tried something today that I thought was crazy.  I shredded my chicken breast, for chicken salad, with my mixer.  Now I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer so I don't know if you could do this with a hand mixer or not but WOW.  (I will never hand shred chicken again.  I wonder if you could do this with beef...)  I was concerned that the chicken would wrap around the paddle but it didn't.  I used two chicken breast halves.  (Side note: you know how a chicken breast looks a little bit like the African continent?  Well, did you know that is actually half a chicken breast?  A whole chicken breast is two African continent shaped pieces of meat, joined together by some cartilage.)  So, I cooked a whole chicken breast, let it cool a little, then put it in the mixing bowl and let it go.  :)  Seriously, only about 20 or 30 seconds later.... shredded chicken.  Here are the pictures to show you how it came out.

Poaching Chicken
Dawn's Tip

If you have a recipe you need cooked chicken for, I suggest poaching it.  If you boil chicken in water until it's done, say 10-15 minutes, it will usually be a bit dry.  You've overcooked the chicken!  I saw once on a cooking show that you can actually poach chicken.  It turns out perfectly done and moist rather than dry.  Place your chicken in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat.  Let sit 15 minutes.  Check for white centers just to be sure it's done.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Floral Frugality

Flowers. I love them.  If I could, I would have fresh flowers on my dining room table all the time.  It is a special treat when my Honey brings me flowers.  I will confess that when he first started bringing me "grocery store" flowers instead of "flower shop" flowers, I was offended.  I'm such a silly woman!  I have discovered I like arranging flowers; and it is so much less expensive to get some grocery store flowers and arrange them yourself, especially if you have a small stash of old vases.  Now flowers are *always* more expensive around Mother's Day, so the cost quoted here is higher than normal.  I know at my grocery store you can usually get a bouquet of flowers for around $10.

The day before Mother's Day, my Honey came home with two large beautiful bouquets -- from the grocery store.  :)  Because I knew I was going to turn this into a blog post, I asked if he minded if I knew how much he spent.  He said it was around $34.  Readers, I got two arrangements out of these flowers!  So I have a large bouquet on my dining room table and a bouquet in my kitchen.  I'm going to put pictures of what I see as comparable bouquets from the Telaflora website so you can compare the "flower shop" bouquets to the "grocery store" bouquets.

Two Grocery Bouquets and a Vase

The first bouquet-at-home, short 'n sweet and full...

A comparable "flower shop" bouquet at $39.95 -- more than both grocery bouquets together!

The second bouquet-at-home, simple and elegant.

The comparable "flower shop" bouquet at a whopping $44!

My youngest daughter is living with my middle daughter for a month this summer.  As a tradition, I usually have flowers waiting for my girls when they come for a visit.  So my middle daughter did that for her sister.  She can't find her camera at present, but she bought a grocery bouquet of multi-colored roses for $15, arranged them in a short modern vase, and put a pretty pink fabric ribbon around the middle.

The comparable "flower shop" bouquet at $59.95!
I personally like my bouquets better than the floral shop bouquets, and it was a total difference of $49.95.  If you'll notice, my lily bouquet has a lot more lilies waiting to bloom than are in the floral shop bouquet.  So the lesson here?  Don't be a flower snob like I was; and be grateful that you can get, for yourself or someone you want to cheer, flowers from the grocery store!

Ps - The only way this might not work is if you want someone out-of-state to have flowers.  :-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Different Way to Look at Eating

At the end of January I began a journey.  I say it is a journey because as with anything new it is best to take baby steps.  I began a new eating plan.  It is called the Maximized Living plan (ML).  It goes very much against conventional wisdom of low-fat, high carbohydrate diet plans.  I am using the word diet to reflect a lifestyle of eating, not a weight loss program.  Everyone is on a "diet" -- it simply refers to the intake of food, although I think most of us relate it to the way we eat to lose weight.

Maximized Living has two different styles.  One for people who want to eat better (remember this isn't conventional here) and one for people who have a lot of health issues and do want to lose weight.  They are called the "Core plan" and the "Advanced Plan".  There is no way I can explain it all in a blog post, and I'm not sure that would be appropriate.  But I will give you the basics for now that are pretty easy to follow once you give it some thought.

*DON'T eat refined foods(read sugar laden, processed foods)
*DO eat high quality carbohydrates, a moderate amount of good protein and a moderate amount of good fats... this includes saturated fats, like butter
*DO eat organic fruits and vegetables; organic/raw dairy products; and grass fed, naturally raised meats.  I will say to eat organic is more expensive, and I don't eat everything organic.  I do buy organic milk and half & half, some veggies, and the grass fed beef.
*The ML plan recommends certain supplements and is often in followed in conjunction with chiropractic care (which I don't believe is necessary physically and can be impossible financially).
*DO exercise!  The DVD the plan provides, which I use, is 12 minute interval training.  It is hard, and you'll hurt.  But it's only 12 minutes.  I am feeling stronger and more toned in only 4 weeks (3 days per week).

I began the ML plan with baby steps.  The first thing I did was get off sugar and grains (reduction in grains is part of the Advanced plan).  I did really well for the first 6-8 weeks.  I had an emotional melt down at that point, and guess what... I'm an emotional eater.  :-P  I'm wanting to get back off sugar, but it is hard!  I'm not sure why.  I feel so energetic when I don't have it in my body.  It's funny I am writing this today, since I"m really committed to get off sugar starting today.  :-)  In the 6-8 weeks I was faithful to this plan, I lost 17 pounds -- WITHOUT any exercising!  As mentioned, I have started exercising now; and I think it his helping me maintain my weight loss.

Some of the things that *really* go against conventional wisdom (that I had to get over) were:

*DO use full fat dairy
*DON'T eat pasta, not even whole wheat (part of the Advanced plan; allowed in the Core plan)
*DON'T eat by the clock.  Eat when you are truly hungry, not because it is "time to eat."  This was hard for me.

Now you may be concerned about using full fat dairy, I understand.  What you need to know is that using full fat dairy will keep you full and satisfied longer.  When companies make low/non fat food they are taking out the element that has a lot of the flavor, so they have to replace it.  What do they replace it with? Sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar as they are beginning to call it.  These things are just not good for your body.  And if you give it some thought, it has been since "low-fat" dieting has been the norm that we have begun to see so much about the obesity/diabetic epidemic in the USA.  So that should tell you something about sugar, right?  You may find yourself needing to teach yourself it is okay to eat full fat dairy if you are interested in this way of eating.  It honestly didn't take me long.  It is so yummy, mouth-satisfying, and helps you eat less in the long run by keeping you full!  (Example: My daughter tried this way of eating for only a couple of days.  The day before she started, she had eaten 3 regular meals and 4 snacks because she usually feels hungry every couple hours.  The very day she started eating the basic ML diet, she had 3 regular meals of smaller portions and only 1 snack.  Less food, more full!)

A quick example of what I ate one day this week which was all very satisfying:

9am - a blueberry/baby greens smoothie (I promise you don't taste the greens)
1pm - a granny smith apple with some white cheddar cheese
5pm - a wonderful tuna salad (made by my Honey) over baby greens
8pm - a Lara bar (a food bar with nutritional, clean ingredients) and a glass of whole milk.

I think that is about it in a nutshell.  I feel so much better, have more energy and am losing/maintaining my weight without spending hours obsessing over food and exercising.  It is a good fit for me!

Here is a link to the main ML page for those who may want more information (and so I am above reproach as far as copy write laws!).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Marshmallow Fondant Redemption

I'm a sentimental person, especially concerning experiences.  I like to live them to the fullest, to make them perfectly special.  "Firsts" and "Lasts" especially get me.  Last year was Eme's first birthday.  My sweet daughter... my first daughter, my last biological child.  This was a big event!  And we had just moved into our first home, both our families were in town, it was Easter week, and we had invited a lot of people to celebrate with us.  Everything was so busy but falling nicely (though crazily) into place.  Until I tried to make a butterfly cake.  I am usually successful in the culinary endeavors I undertake, so it was a bit of a shock to my system that I couldn't seem to follow simple directions to turn two round cakes into a butterfly.  Cut it, turn the pieces, frost.  First, it was a brain bender to figure out how to turn those silly pieces.  Second, frost fresh, crumbly cake sides that have been cut?  Yeah.  In your dreams.  As silly as it may seem to you, it crushed me inside to know that my precious daughter's first birthday cake was a disaster (according to my perfectionistic standards).  It would forever be documented, too, because of course numerous pictures are part of a first birthday celebration.  I had to give it up internally.  And I was able to let it go with the Lord's help.  It stopped making me sad after a while and just became a memory I (sort of) giggled at.  But guess what -- birthdays come every year!  So, for Eme's second birthday, I decided I would try to make up for last year's flop.

I saw a recipe for Marshmallow Fondant on Allrecipes.  Now, I've never truly had fondant; but I hear it's gross and very hard to work with.  This marshmallow fondant claimed to be easy and tasty.  Sounds good to me!  A new challenge that seems to have an "easy way."

Here is the original recipe from Allrecipes: Marshmallow Fondant

And here is the recipe according to what I did ('cause I'm a recipe tweaker!):

Vegetable shortening
1 1/2 pkg mini marshmallows (approx 16 oz)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp lemon extract (or your favorite!)
2 lbs powdered sugar

1) Place marshmallows in large bowl and microwave 1 minute until they just start to melt.  (If you have a stand mixer, transfer the marshmallows to the mixing bowl.)  Stir in water and extract until mixture is smooth.  Beat in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until a sticky dough forms.  Reserve at least the last cup of powdered sugar for kneading, if not more.

2) Coat your hands with vegetable shortening and begin kneading the dough in the bowl with more powdered sugar.  It will start to come together enough to turn out onto a well dusted counter.  Knead with the reserved powdered sugar about 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.  At this point, add in food coloring if desired and knead until color is achieved.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3) When ready to use, allow fondant to come to room temperature.  Dust counter with powdered sugar and begin rolling fondant out to desired size and about 1/4 inch thick.  Continually lift up parts of the fondant and re-dust counter to prevent sticking.  If fondant sticks or rips and becomes unsalvageable, simply ball up the fondant and start again.  Carefully transfer rolled-out fondant or prepare decorations as desired.

I don't think I've ever made such a mess while baking.  I had powdered sugar from my shoulders to my toes.  It was almost a comedy trying to knead the fondant while it was still sticky, and powdered sugar was floofing everywhere!

Fondant, divided and colored.  I like to use gel food coloring.  And that scraper is a best friend for
getting sticky spots off the counter while you're kneading.

Before you put fondant on, first you need cake.  I made a white cake with some added lemon flavor.  I divided the batter and did light blue and dark blue.  Split the layers, stack them, and then you end up with a fun striped cake.  I used my all time favorite frosting recipe, Sturdy Whipped Cream Frosting (regular cream cheese, no almond extract).

Get a nice coat all over the cake, as smooth as possible to prepare for the fondant.
An off-set spatula is spectacular for this!

Next day, same mess from shoulders to toes.  :-)  LOVE my new rolling pin -- first real one I've ever had.  Tip: If you want your husband to TELL you to get a new roller, just lose your brain and think it's a good idea to use your current not-so-great plastic roller to stick down vinyl tiles in your mud room.

Yep.  Had to start over.  Dust and re-dust... and dust some more.  Trust me.

Whew!  That was a bit tricky.  Try not to let the full weight of the fondant pull on itself.  That's how cracks appear.   I only had one, whew!  The only other issue I had was some bubbling under the fondant.  I just pushed those to the middle, sliced off the bulge, and the Blue's Clues paw print nicely covered it.  ;-)

Ta-da!  To get rid of the visible powdered sugar, use a small piece of extra fondant to gently rub it into oblivion.
(Ps - I have enough fondant left to do a whole other cake!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Simple Goodness: The Potato Chip

If you're like me, you love crunchin' and munchin' on things.  I've always liked corner brownies, the crusties of fresh baked cake, the charred bits of grilled meat...and, of course, chips.  Now, I want you to take a good long look at that delicious chip to the left.  Looks gourmet, huh?  The expensive kind of potato chip that's thick and beefy with a good "real potato" flavor and a touch of salt.  You know the kind I'm talking about?

Yeah.  It just came out of my microwave.  And it's tasty-schmasty!

My mom and I were just talking yesterday about how people occasionally ask the question "Do you like to cook?"  I never really know how to answer, honestly.  I cook because I have to.  It's not like I'm chomping at the bit to get myself in the kitchen, stand for an hour or more (oh, my aching back!), and make a huge mess that I'm going to have to clean up.  No, that's not me.  What I DO like is making people happy.  And food is a great way to please people.  I also realized that it's not the cooking I love.  It's the creating.  Which is probably why I have the most fun with desserts.  Well, for that reason and also my sweet tooth.  ;-)

I get daily emails from Allrecipes to feed the creativity and variety in my meal management life.  Today's email contained a recipe for potato chips.  I was pretty skeptical.  I don't even usually eat plain potato chips.  But I figured, I had a potato and the time (must be a blue moon).  So I tried it!  And it worked beautifully!!!

Pros: no factory added ingredients, full control over seasoning flavors and amounts, gourmet for cheap, improvement on knife skills (if you don't have a mandolin), no bag to keep eating and eating from, and "rich" enough to where you can't really eat a lot.  And just plain good nutrients from potatoes and olive oil!

Cons: uh...time spent slicing a potato?  I'd say the health pay-off and price for homemade chips is well worth the couple minutes of slicing.  Oh, another con could be how FAST they go -- my boys had the first batch eaten before the next one was finished!

Homemade Potato Chips
adapted from Allrecipes

Russet potato(es)
Olive Oil
Salt and/or other seasonings (optional)
Parchment Paper

Thinly slice potato(es), peeled or not.  Place in a bowl; drizzle with a touch of olive oil and gently toss to coat. Cut a big circle of parchment paper to fit your microwave turntable.  Place a single layer of potato slices on parchment paper being careful that they do not touch.  Microwave anywhere from 3-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the slices.  Check the potatoes OFTEN after 2 minutes.  You will see them start to brown; and once it starts, it goes fast.  So be sure to not overcook them.  Slide chips from parchment into a bowl and season as desired.

*The thicker you slice them, the more "gourmet" they seem.  The thinner you slice them, the more they will be like Lays.  Both are tasty!
*If you do not have parchment paper, the original recipe said to olive oil a plate.  That was not quite as easy/successful for several of the reviews I read...and then you have a dirty plate.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Keeping Your Home

ENCOURAGEMENT:  From the Seasoned Author...

This post was inspired by another blog and a short conversation on Facebook by some young wives/mothers.  I have only read this post, so I can't say anything else about this particular blog.  This lady has a passion for cleaning, and that is great...maybe she could come to my house.  She could have a fit for herself!  :)  One thing we need to remember is the importance of doing what is right for our family rather than going by the standards or ideals of others.  Is a clean house important?  Yes.  Is a spotless house important?  ...that depends.  I am not a great housekeeper.  I had a friend once tell me that my house was "relaxed."  I was embarrassed that this particular person thought that about my house.  Once I thought about it though, I realized that we are just different.  And that is okay.  Her house looks like it could be in a magazine.  It is well decorated and very neat.  My house, well, as I look around right now, there is a stack of mail, a binder and several books stacked/strewn over the surface of the coffee table, a bottle of medication and a piece of mail on the mantle, my purse and a bag from Kmart on the fireplace insert.... you get the idea.  Oh yeah, there is dust you can see on the entertainment center.  She's right.  It is relaxed.  I'm okay with that.  Do I dust?  Do I mop the floors?  Yes.  I even occasionally wipe down door jambs and switch plates (not often and not on a schedule, like spring time or fall).  To me, here is what's important... ask your husband, if you are married, what his comfort level is when it comes to the cleanliness/tidiness of the house.  What makes him comfortable is very important.  He needs to be able to come home and relax and be comfortable.  Once you've asked him what his comfort level is, weigh the importance of how clean the house is against being the mom your children need (if you have kids).  I know there have been times in my life where I was so fixated on how the house looked that I was screeching at my children if one thing was out of place....having a few papers on the coffee table is not important compared to being a good example of love, patience, gentleness and kindness to my children.

I just want to encourage you to think about what level of cleanliness/tidiness is right for your family and your family situation.  When you see lists like the one on that particular blog, don't beat yourself up if you don't live up to that persons standard of cleanliness or spring cleaning.  Don't compare yourself with others, either by putting yourself down or by looking down at others.  Just take care of your home and family for the glory of God and you will be considered His faithful servant.

TESTIMONIAL:  From the Younger Author...

I am in the midst of what my mother is talking about.  It seems as though each added member to my family is an instrument the Lord uses to break me of perfectionism, from my Hubz all the way to my youngest child.  There was a time when I would have decorated my home in pristine modern style, everything in its place and streamlined.  Cleaning done on a weekly basis, each day having its own set of chores.  Well, finances never allowed us newlyweds to "style" our apartment.  And moves and kids have certainly flipped my love of modern style on its head.  Practicality and comfort now win, people.  :-)  And the keeping of my home? ...

There was a phase I went through when I fought as hard as I could against losing "control" of the cleanliness of my home.  Obtaining a Home Ec degree only fanned the flames.  WHAT?  I didn't clean the toilets and it's been over a week, as in 8 days?  The tub hasn't been cleaned in a week and a half?  The world is coming to an end -- where is our schedule, our sanity??  Ridiculous, right?  I know that now.  I remember while going through that battle of letting the control (freak) go that one of my dear friends told me they didn't clean the bathrooms weekly.  I was in shock.  I thought for sure that family must be "perfect" in their house keeping.  But the problem was my own perspective.  That family was just as healthy as my own -- whether the toilets were cleaned weekly or bi-weekly, tubs cleaned weekly or once a month.  It truly was eye opening and put me on the path to freedom from perfectionism.  I purposefully experimented with allowing myself to stretch the time between cleanings.  A slow start, but a good one.  (Disclaimer: This is one of those happy medium can't let it go for TOO long or you risk disease and bad stewardship of what God has given!)  I've also worked on becoming ok with others entering my home without everything perfectly in place and all clutter hidden away.  It really is not worth it to go crazy straightening if it's going to stress you, your kids, or your hubby out.  People know you live in your house... and some people are even intimidated by perfect-looking homes which means your guests won't feel comfortable.  If you have a perfectionist-control freak streak, you are your own worst enemy when it comes to how your family and guests feel in your home.  It means you are at risk of choosing to sacrifice relationships on the altar of sterile style.  Be careful.

My mom is right.   Having a home that is comfortable for your hubby and being the mom your kids need is far, FAR more important than the physical upkeep of your home.  And trust me, I am STILL working on this.  Perfectionism and love-of-routine is very hard to let go of if it's in your blood.  I still go through times of struggle, and even occasionally shed tears over the lack of routine when life just will not seem to slow down long enough for me to be in control and at least have a near-perfect home.  (Have you noticed a couple thematic elements in this post?  They are both antagonists!)  And there are times in life when life must be busy, like say for a few months back to in what's been happening for my family this year.  That's okay!  Life will reset, whether back to the old normal or you'll just discover a new normal.  There can be no constant in housekeeping.  Exhibit A: clean toilet one minute, used the next.  Exhibit B: all laundry completed, only to find clothes in hampers at bedtime.  The only constant you need for whatever "normal" you find yourself in is a fixed gaze on God's will and glory.  Keep your home for HIS glory, not your own.

As proof that I have come a VERY long way, I can testify that 2 of the four toilets in our home have lovely pink rings in them, and I honestly can not remember the last time I cleaned them.  Or the tubs.  And you should SEE the dust, especially considering all the sanding/painting that's been going on.  And the laundry?  Good thing it has its own room.  ::chants to self "It's ok.  It's ok.  It'll get clean sometime..."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Challenge to Vanity

Good heavens.  I promise we are not giving up on this blog!!  We have several posts in the making.  It's just that our "editor" has had many much things on her plate right now in many areas of life.  And blogging?  Well, it really should take a back seat to things like health, family, school, and house deadlines.  Thank you for bearing with us, and please don't give up on us as we refuse to give up on you, our readers!

I did want to do a quick post today while it's on my mind.  A while back, I walked through Ecclesiastes.  Revelation had always been my favorite book for years upon years -- but I dare say that Ecclesiastes and its impact on me may either tie or win out over Revelation.  It truly puts you in your place and gives you the RIGHT perspective on life's journey in this world.  Nothing lasts except what is done for Christ.  All but eternity is vanity.  And that includes the beauty our bodies may have.

As I was getting ready for a book study this morning, I became aware that I was thinking vain thoughts about a particular asset I think I have.  The thoughts were not intentional, nor were they a "prideful" kind of vain.  If that makes sense.  My thought was kind of a "matter of fact" thing.  But the Spirit immediately and graciously reminded me that it will not last.  And you know what happened?  I then thanked the Lord for the beauty He graciously gave me in this particular area and realized it is a privilege, not a right.  He taught me that vanity can quickly become gratitude.  I don't believe we have to think the worst of ourselves and what God has given us physically -- that's not the opposite of vanity.  The opposite of vanity is thankfulness and recognition that you are the way you are because that's how your Creator made you.  Why would you see yourself in the mirror and criticize what Almighty Creator God has done?  That isn't right, and neither is pride in how you look.  Just be thankful and quietly enjoy it while it lasts.

Challenge:  Think of something you like about the way you look or who you are.  Now thank God for being kind enough to make you the way He did!  And ask Him to help you enjoy it without being prideful or vain.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Call Me Crazy: Black Tea Tan

So, what lengths would you go to in order to please your husband if he mentions something that might look nice to him?  :-)  A few years back, my brave Hubz mentioned to me that my legs were white.  As in really white.  And he might, maybe, just prefer them to have a little more color.  I think my jaw hit the floor.  I'd never been accused of being super white before (just look at pics from my lifeguarding, have-all-the-time-in-the-world days).  I have super capacity to be tan thanks to my (albeit small) native American heritage.  But I have a husband, kids, and home now.  And that doesn't always mix with being able to get a tan.  At the time he told me that, I did buy a bottle of Jergen's self-tanning lotion.  Nope.  It made the rough spots on my ankles and below my knees orange and the tanned color was just odd.  I've tried to snag little sessions outdoors to get some Vitamin D and sun-kissed skin, but the cooler months last longer here... and I have kids.  My upper half currently has a nice bit of color to it because I worked outdoors the other day.  But my legs.  Well, they still fit the description my brave Hubz gave.  And I want to please him.

Enter: a hair-brained, crazy idea a friend saw on Pinterest.  The black tea tan.

(Tip: If you are blessed with gorgeous skin color as my dear friend in Colorado is... disregard the following!)

Supposedly, you brew 4 black tea bags in two cups of boiling water for 10-15 minutes.  Once it cools enough to be comfortable, you spray or sponge it on your freshly exfoliated skin (stay in your tub/shower!!).  With gloved hands, rub it all over in a circular motion without leaving any darker streaks.  Dab off any extra droplets (don't want to look like a zebra or leopard!) with a towel you don't mind tea stains on (I have a nice tea-colored towel, perfect!).  And allow to air dry.  You're supposed to end up with a nice touch of color on your skin.  The strength of the tea apparently changes the strength of the skincancer free, non-fake, non-spray-me-orange, CHEAP tan.  It's supposed to last 3-4 days until your skin goes through it's natural sloughing pattern.

Mm-hmm.  I tried it.  :-)  I did one leg three times which took maybe a total of 5 minutes.  Then I took a picture.  There IS a difference.  Hopefully your monitor and your eyes will be able to tell.  I even asked JG, my 6 year old son, which leg was whiter (he didn't know which leg had been "tanned") and he immediately pointed to the correct one.

I'm going to go do the other leg now.  And I'm going to do the black tea tan again after my shower tomorrow to see if I can get more color so my legs match my arms for once.  Can't wait to see if my leg color will now be more pleasing to my Hubz.  (Bonus: They won't be pasty white for a wedding this Sunday!)

Another tip was to combine a bit of coco powder with your favorite lotion to get a "glow" or "bronzed" look.  I haven't tried that, and I'm not sure I'll go that far.  You're not supposed to let your skin get wet if you do this or else it will streak as the lotion runs.

Happy all-natural tanning... if you're adventurous enough!

Ps - Can I get kuddos for having bravery to match my Hubz's?  I did post a picture of my LEGS on my blog.  :-P  I just want my readers to know it works!

Monday, April 9, 2012

All Purpose Cleaner

Dining on a Dime pg. 403

Do you feel as weird reading about a cleaning product "recipe" from a book called "Dining on a Dime" as I feel writing about it?  Just seems weird, but I'm very glad these frugal recipes are in available.  I wish I had figured out how much this costs to make, but I didn't.  I made a single batch (about a gallon), and I cleaned a bathroom with it.  I sprayed the cleaner on the sink, shower floor, and toilet and let it sit while I swept the floor.  Then I wiped it up with a wet sponge.  I did have to use a little elbow grease in the sink and on the shower floor due to some soap scum (at least I guess that's what it was).  Also, I used the green scrubby side of the sponge for the sink and shower floor.  It made the sink and faucet nice and shiny!   It also worked well on the bathroom floor.  I was happy with the way everything came out.  However, I did use it on the front of my black dishwasher and it left a white film.  I wasn't too happy about that, but then I realized it was probably from the baking soda in the recipe.  Once wiped with a wet rag, all was well.  :)  Here is the recipe:

1 gallon of water
1cup ammonia
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup baking soda

Combine all ingredients.  Put in a spray bottle to clean showers, toilets, sinks and counters.  Great for most cleaning needs.  Use all-purpose cleaner to clean your floors.  Just spray on and wipe off as you would counter tops.

I'm going to do some research and find out if I can put some essential oils in there to make it smell really nice.  Not that it smells bad at all.... it sort of has no odor.  Anyway, I just don't want to combine anything and get myself sick....did that once when I was younger.  But that, as they say, is another story!  :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pretty Efficiency

Do I know how to make cookies?  Of course.  But that's not all they teach you in four years of college-level Home Ec (despite what many people assume).  They also teach efficiency, time management, money management, and tricks of the Home Manager's trade.  I love being able to contribute to food events at our church whether showers, meals, receptions, Sunday school snacks, or whatever.  But life gets busy, and it certainly isn't practical ALL the time to try and fit in a home-baked item.  Does that mean I have to say no?  Does that mean I have to buy something from the store and plunk it on the table to say "There, I contributed"?  No to both!  So here's my little, simple trick of the trade: Buy something and just arrange it on your own dishes!  Time is valuable, sometimes more so than dollars.  And service to others is priceless as it is commanded in Scripture.  Don't put value on dollars more than time and people.  Sometimes, it's worth it to spend a bit more to be able to contribute but in a way that looks nice and blesses people.

Three specific examples of what I've done:

1) I LOVE potato salad.  But it can be time consuming.  And Safeway makes the best Southern potato salad ever!  So I have been known several times to buy Safeway's potato salad and make it pretty in one of my white bowls for baby and wedding showers.  No one knows any different because it fits right in with the pretty table decor!

2) I know that April is going to be a crazy month for my family, but I also gave Hubz "12 Pies for 12 Months" for Christmas.  That means he gets a pie even if it's a busy month for us.  When you do the cost breakdown for a lemon meringue pie, it's pennies more to just buy one and A LOT less time (and hassle...have you ever tried to make meringue perfectly? UGH!).  So I flat out bought him a bakery lemon meringue pie.  He's happy as a lark, and I saved us a couple (or more) hours of time.

3) I signed up for Sunday School snack last month -- and it happened that no one in my family went to church that day.  Thankfully, we live super close to a Safeway and even closer to another family in our church.  Thanks to a great sale, I got 100 cookies for $10.00 that morning.  Slap those cookies in a couple dishes for the "pretty" factor, deliver to said neighbor to be taken to church, and the rest of my morning was spent caring for our sick kiddos and just resting as a family.  Bonus: our Sunday school has way fewer than 100 people... so we had cookies for a week!  GOOD cookies!

Disclaimer:  If you find yourself in a financial situation in which you really shouldn't purchase something, then don't.  Family comes first, and no extraneous purchase should jeopardize your family's needs.  If you have more time and less money, then home-made goods tend to be cheaper.  But not always -- so be careful!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Healthy Eating :)

The end of January I went to a "Maximized Living" meeting that a friend invited me to attend.  It was very interesting and challenging in the area of what I eat.  I started to change the way I eat: no sugar or processed food, no bread, few grains, good healthy fats, and meats/dairy from grass fed animals.  I feel so much better and have lost about 15 or so pounds.  My mom sent me a link to a web site with recipes that  fit well with this eating plan.  I decided to try several, and the first one I tried was wonderful.  Before I forget, here is the actual blog I got the recipe.  She has a lot of recipes using real food and the Maximized Living way of eating.  I had planned to have it for lunch; but then, due to poor time management, ended up having it for dinner.  I was/am grateful that my Honey is easy to please and is happy just to have dinner on the, he really liked it as I did.  :)  Here is the recipe and a few notes on how I tweaked it just a little bit.

Black Bean Confetti Salad
Makes 4 Servings
2 15-ounce cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed
4 organic bell peppers, a mix of colors, diced
1 organic cucumber, diced
1 organic jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
1 white onion, diced
Juice of one large lime
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
A few spoonfuls of organic Greek yogurt (optional)
Mix beans, bell peppers, cucumber, jalapeno, and onion in a large bowl.  In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, sea salt, cayenne and cilantro into a vinaigrette.  Pour vinaigrette over the bean mixture, toss well to coat, and adjust seasonings to taste.  Spoon into bowl and top with spoonful of Greek yogurt.

Notes: I did not use jalapeno.  I'm sensitive to hot/spicy foods so I just used a dash of cayenne (Yes, I did use cayenne, for those of you who will be shocked). I only used 3 bell peppers because I got tired of chopping them up.  Lastly, I didn't do the greek yogurt.  I did serve it with baked pita chips for my Honey.  I was really happy there are enough leftovers for me to have lunch a couple times.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Super Undies!

Makes you giggle, doesn't it?  But I'm talking about a real product.  A few months ago, I went to a cloth diapering guru asking for ideas on how to get my oldest son JG out of overnight diapers.  With two boys in them every night, a good deal of our "Baby" budget category was flying out the window.  She suggested something they hadn't yet tried, "Super Undies."  They are on the expensive side for cloth at $30.00 a pair, but if you invest in them early on... they save you TONS!  Here are parts of the review I wrote for their budding business in the overnight cloth diapering category...

They are so soft!  I tried to wash by hand, and WOW they hold a lot of liquid!  I now machine wash after talking to customer service, and they have held up perfectly. They do take a bit longer to dry since they hold moisture so well.  My son also had to get used to the puffiness compared to a more slim overnight diaper, but he loved the softness.  Wanna know the best part?  I think because Super Undies are NOT a diaper, my son subconsciously quit wetting the bed!  With overnight diapers, he'd wake up to a soaked diaper (and sometimes bed) every morning.  Since having Super Undies for a couple months, he's wet the undies five times or less!  And for our family, they're so super that they also helped us figure out that our younger son no longer needs overnight diapers either -- or a Super Undies.  So one pair of Super Undies and two months took us from buying 60 overnight diapers a month to two boys who wear underwear to bed!

I would also add here that as a mom who never did cloth, these were the perfect solution.  There is no disassemble or reassembly for washing.  All you do is pull the cloths out of the little sewn in pocket, but they remain attached on side.  Pop it in a mesh bag for laundering, then just fold and push the cloths back into the pocket.  No pinning or anything.  Another good thing -- I'll have a pair for Eme when she is day trained but still working on night training!

If you want more information for yourself or a friend or you just wanna know more and watch a video:

Super Undies Nighttime Undies Potty Training Pants

Friday, March 23, 2012

Be a Wet Noodle

I know, weird post title.  What I mean is, be a wet noodle rather than a dry noodle.  Put pressure on a wet noodle, and it will give without breaking.  Put pressure on a dry noodle, and it will snap very quickly.  I'm talking about being flexible and truly believing deep down that "A man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9)  God is sovereign over every event that comes our way, and He has a purpose in it all for us all.  On top of that, we must completely trust Him with ourselves, our loved ones, our belongings, our time, our promises, our dreams, and so much more.  With ALL of our being we must trust Him.

That said, I am sorely in need of debriefing.  So let me offer you a real life example of Proverbs 16:9.

Hubz worked a ton of hours earlier this week due to a big project, so he had been planning to take all day Friday off.  This meant a family day of spending time together in the beautiful weather as well as getting a lot of things done around the house.  We love those kind of days!  We had planned to go to Target, Joanns, BJs, Safeway, Lowes, and the park.  We made plans to have dinner with some dear friends we haven't spent one-on-one time with in a while.  I was going to sew some adorable garters for a sweet gal's bridal shower Saturday. Hubz was going to do some yard work and start cleaning the pool up.  I was going to finish up some of the reading for homeschool this week.

'Lij made us hit the brakes starting at about 4:00 AM.  He came and woke me up, saying he needed his nebulizer.  Then at 8:00, he desperately needed it again.  Less than an hour later, he was still coughing quite a bit.  I knew I had to call his doctor.  Which meant a doctor's visit.  There's the first wrench in the day's schedule.  So we got out the door and to the doctor by 9:30.  His pulse ox was fine, lungs mostly ok.  So we did another treatment in the office.  Pulse ox was still fine, and his lungs were better.  But because he was still coughing like crazy, he had to be put on prednisone (not the best considering how much he's had it in his four years of life, but the coughing had to stop for his safety's sake).  All told, the appt took longer than we thought it would.  Quick trip to the park for a snack and to say hi to a good friend and her kids who met [beat] us there, THINKING it would give Target time to fill 'Lij's prescription.  Nope, they hadn't even touched it.  But we couldn't wait the 30 minutes.  Elijah already needed his next allowed treatment -- and we had no vials left in the van.  So we had to go home, knowing we'd have to make the trip all the way back for the prednisone.  Very frustrating.  We did squeeze Lowes in, so at least one thing got accomplished.

Got home, did the next treatment.  Elijah was STILL coughing and coughing after that.  Literally, the boy was coughing an average of every 15 seconds for hours on end.  And now retraction was starting to occur on the big breaths he'd take to cough.  Had to call the doc back -- which meant being sent to the ER where they could give him better meds.  Ok, second wrench had taken away the entire afternoon (though it ended up being much longer).  We stopped for prayer before we left and got a few others to start praying.

Arrived at the ER about 2:30, and Elijah was given his first dose of prednisone and three treatments of combination nebulizer drugs to help get his coughing under control.  Odd thing was that his pulse ox was still fine and his lungs sounded clear.  But cough, cough, COUGH.  They gave him some tylenol with codeine in an attempt to really get at the cough, and 'Lij was to have a breathing treatment every hour for 2 - 3 more hours.  Can you guess what happened?  He still kept coughing.  After a while, I noticed that 'Lij was starting to turn quite pink in the face, chest, and arms.  The nurse quickly got the doctor... no more breathing treatments allowed.  His body had had enough for the day.  So another hour was tacked on to the total so they could monitor and observe him (which I was thankful for!).  I was given the choice of whether or not to have him admitted because I voiced my concern of taking him home and his cough getting out of control again.  Called Hubz.  We and others prayed for wisdom.  Pretty soon after that, Elijah showed a marked improvement.  Still coughing some, but not every 15 seconds.  Seeing how he was improving in both health and spirits, I realized I might still be able to make it to Joanns on the way home...

Nope.  We could have left at 8:00 PM and had plenty of time.  But there was a mix-up with the med we were supposed to go home with -- wrench #3.  So it took a little longer to get it straightened out.  8:30 now...Joanns closes at 9.  And if I don't get there, I wont' have the supplies to make my friend's bridal gift!  The nurse finally came back to say the entire hospital, save for the critical care areas, did not have the medication.  (Uh, you might want to get some more!!)  She handed us a prescription, and we left at 8:55.  There was no way Joanns was happening.  Or anything else we had planned.  The day was just completely over.  Quick stop at CVS to pick up the prednisone transferred from lazy-Target and the codeine cough med.  Then home to give my sweet boy some jello, meds, and a bed.

And here I sit.  A bit in shock at how 180 this day was compared to what we had planned.  A bit emotional from being tired physically and from seeing my son cough so hard for so long with so much medicine pumped into his body.  A bit choked up at the awe of sitting in a quiet home...because that means 'Lij is asleep and not coughing at all.  A bit in wonder at what God's plan is in all of this and asking Him to increase my faith as well as my flexibility.  Prayer and meditation on Proverbs 16:9 are what kept me a wet noodle today, albeit al dente, but still flexible.  I only came close to snapping like a dry noodle once.  But it is amazing the softening affect prayer has.

So when your days are insane and don't match up to YOUR expectations in home and family management, remember to be a wet noodle.  Bend with the Lord's will rather than snapping with your own.  He knows you have a home to manage and a family to love on.  And He knows how you need to do it for your good and His glory.

(But I will say, if I don't get some bread, bananas, and salad up in this house soon -- we're gonna starve.  Because of how this week, and especially today, have gone, we have had MORE than our share of pizza, mac 'n cheese, and lack of fruits/veggies.  MUST get to the store!!!)        :-P

I end with all the things I am thankful for, because that is the BEST way to debrief!

  • For a God who is in control and loves my family and me
  • For the gifts of prayer and Scripture
  • That Hubz had been planning all along to take today off
  • For the new physician's assistant at our ped's office -- she's so sweet!
  • For medications to help my dear boy breath and stop coughing
  • For friends who are willing to help or help find help
  • For a new friend -- she and her hubby brought Elijah and I Chick-fil-A in the ER.  I called her, though we've only met once, and asked for food since they lived so close to the hospital and Hubz didn't have the carseats.  And they didn't think twice.  God bless them!
  • For the nurses and doctors who work hard to figure out how to best to care for 'Lij (I hate but love that I am familiar with several of them in the Pediatric ER -- hate because that means we've visited enough to where I have favorites but love because familiarity is welcome in tense situations)
  • For CVS pharmacy's excellent customer service in transferring and filling the prescriptions we needed -- really made me feel like my son was a priority
  • For the rogue nurse that hid three Motrin amidst my dinner because I was starting to have a pounding headache.  "You didn't see anything," she said, "And if you have a reaction, it wasn't me."  God bless her!
  • Finally, for the gift of breath, life, vitality, sweetness, silliness, sparkly eyes, and handsome curls of my little 'Lij.  It's been a long road since his first ER visit and hospital stay when he was just 6 months old.  And God has healed him time and again.  How faithful He is.