Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Tale of Two Gardens

As I sat on my back patio yesterday I thought about how interesting and how well gardens and lawns reflect the personality of their keepers. Recently, my mother-in-law moved in with us. It has been in the works for over a year for many reasons. For one, we actually love one another and get along well. For another, Arlene says she wanted to die somewhere that someone would find her before her cats ate her fingers and toes. Yes. Yes, we do share the same odd and somewhat morbid sense of humor! In many ways, we are very much alike. But in the ways we differ, we really really differ!
One of the ways we have chosen to cope with our differences is that Arlene takes care of the flower gardens in the front of the house while I take care of the back.
Arlene's garden is very organized, very symmetrical and and just so. Flowers where specially chosen either to go with those already there or for the area. Plants are planted in the ground or actual flower pots. Everything is planned and coordinated. Whimsy is added in the form of garden statues and iron planters and bird houses. And it's done. My garden, not so much.
In fact, while Arlene has been planting for weeks, I have just started in earnest. I could lie and say I have been planning while she has been planting. But no, that is not what happened at all. My garden is a work in progress. Vague ideas that I work on when inspiration strikes. It is wild and free and colorful and unconventional. Think flowers hanging from trees. Current um...planting vessels include two cast off stock pots, a five gallon bucket and a hole left from a recently removed bush. Seeds scattered with the precision only a hyper 6 year old can provide (Seriously, my 6 year old grandson helped!) And I have about 3 flats of flowers left to plant with nary a planter in sight. yeah.
knowing her as I do, I know she is quietly stewing and wondering when I am going to plant those darn flowers. At this point , she is probably close to a full on panic attack. I know this because, sadly, I frequently have this effect on her.
But I can't stop being me any more than she can stop being her. Instead, I admire and celebrate all the skills she has and the way those skills enhance my life and appreciate the beauty she creates.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The difference between Kids and Animals

As I and my children and now my grandchildren grow older, I am beginning to more fully understand people who treat their animals like children.
I know that my children and grandchildren love me. But I also know that I can be an embarrassment to them. All parents are at some point, I suppose, an embarrassment. I think it's God's way of keeping parents in check. I do seem to have extra qualities that really up the embarrassment factor for our blended family.
For instance, I am LOUD, with a really weird LOUD voice and a witches cackle of a laugh. When I think somethings funny, you are going to know it! I also sing really loud if I know and enjoy a song. I know a song for every occasion or I will make one up. I also think I am a little bit funny. I crack myself up while our 5 kids roll their eyes and shake their heads and occasionally vacate themselves from my presence. I'm also very emotionally open an  not a bit shy about expressing my adoration of our children with words or hugs, wherever we may be. You can imagine how they love this.
Our current menagerie includes a cat, a dog, 4 hens and a rooster. They have never been embarrassed by me. Roxie, the dog, quite enjoys joining me in song. Sometimes she begs to sing with me by staring at me and wiggling her entire body. Kevin, the cat, just cocks his head to the side, but he doesn't run from my singing. The hens sing along while the rooster crows.
I have been home from work for a little over a month due to a work injury. Roxie and Kevin have been in heaven cuddling on the couch with me. Thier only complaint seems to be that can't get close enough. On the rare occasions I have been out of the house for more than a few hours they have clammered for my attention the moment Ireturn. Kevin thinks he needs to be as close to my face as possible, if not actually on my face or head. Roxie also needs to be as close as possible. When my kid  were little they would argue over who got to sit next to me. Roxie and Kevin do that all the time. When I get up, they follow me.
My kids haven't followed me for years, let alone argued over who got to sit next to me.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What do you even say.....

It's been a year and a half since I have posted a blog. One long horribly rough year and a half. Frankly, everytime I think I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel it ends up being a train to run over me again.
Case in point- In the last month my grandmother became very sick. On May 15th, My son's house burnt to the ground. They lost everything. They are expecting a baby boy in October and have a 7 year old girl and a 4 year old boy. On May 17th, my grandmother died. On May 30th I took my husband to the local hosptial. He was then transferred to a hospital an hour away. This is on top of the 4 herniated discs in his neck, diabetic neuropathy, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholestorol that has prevented him from working for the last year and a half.
That means I work multiple jobs including working at a school, working at a state park, babysitting and house sitting and even laundry to attempt to make ends meet while we wait for his disability hearing. In my spare time I get to try to clean my house. I fail regularly because doggone it, I am tired.
So thats my suckfest. I'll try to be more cheerful next time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How to be a grandma.

If you will indulge me,Friday morning after Thanksgiving my Grandma Richards passed away. I wrote the following in her memory.

Throughout Grandma's last days Aunt Becky and Aunt Juanita have been keeping us updated through a private facebook group message. On Monday, November 25th the "girl cousins" started a conversations about our memories.
I confessed my inability to visit Grandma at the hospital. My brain could not reconcile the lady who told me about something she had done this summer finishing with, "I don't think Bobby and Juanita and Becky were too happy about it but I am almost 92 years old and I will do whatever I dang well please!"to the barely conscious woman that had been described to me.
Beth said it best when she wrote " I do not want to remember this part of her. I have so many wonderful memories with her and that is what I want to remember." And we began sharing.
Many of our memories were of food and the kitchen. Oatmeal raisin cookies, tang, colby cheese and coke, that amazing vanilla ice cream she always had, beef and noodles, yeast rolls, peach milkshakes, fresh from the vine grape jelly, chipped beef on toast, toast with butter, grape jelly and bacon sandwiches.
As girls we all got to stand on the stool and "help" with dinner.
We always knew that when we heard the farm report on the radio we'd better get up or we'd miss breakfast. Lunch was served precisely at noon and Grandma would be listening to the "Bob Braun" show while she prepared it.
Once when she was needed in the field she entrusted me with taking the homemade pizza out of the oven for lunch. I got lost in a book and it was um... cajun. Troy still declared it edible, at least he ate enough of it!
One of my favorite things in Grandma's kitchen was the bucket of water on the counter, drawn fresh from the well each morning, with the metal ladle. The best tasting water ANYWHERE. Anyone who knows me knows that water is not my favorite. I am a diet coke girl all the way. But if I could have a bucket of that water and that ladle I would drink a bucket a day.
The well was an important mainstay in visiting Grandma. When we were playing outside in the summer, it's where we cooled off.
We loved playing in the hayloft of the barn, especially hide and seek. Our rule was that whoever was it went downstairs to count. One day I was it. Dale, Troy, Belinda, Beth and Katie were upstairs hiding, Katie needed to go to the bathroom. Belinda helped her find the "perfect spot" to go and I ran screaming to Grandma begging to take a bath. Grandma made it clear that baths were taken at night, with Ivory soap and Prell shampoo. I was allowed to rinse off at the pump.
Grandma wasn't exactly the "cuddly" grandma of the movies but we new of her deep love for us by the things she did for us.
We knew that even if her arms were full of vegetables from her enormous garden she would set them on the ground to push us on the swing until our feet touched the leaves or to spin us on the tire swing until we were dizzy.
Once when my son Troy was dying, my dad and Grandma came to Ft. Campbell to visit. Before she left, every dish was washed, every item of clothing washed, dried and folded and all the floors swept and scrubbed.
Grandma could convince Grandpa to do things like bringing a trough into the yard for us to fill with water and play in, put the racks from his truck in the yard with a tarp over it for a playhouse. She also kept him from lighting our rear ends up when we made a skylight out of the little tear we found in the tarp.
She not only tolerated our sliding down the stairs on our butts, she encouraged it.
She took us swimming in ponds and swam with us. In the winter when we went sledding she went with us.
Once I spent the night with Grandma on a school night for some reason. It snowed overnight and school was cancelled. Grandma had to agreed to strip tobacco at the Alford's and took me with her. It wasn't far and the roads were bad so we walked. At the top of the hill just out from the driveway, Grandma slipped and slid on her butt all the way down and halfway up the next. She got up, looked at me, still standing at the top of the hill, and said "Ok, your turn." as if she had planned it all along.
She gave us pie tins to make mud pies. She made ornaments with our names on them and had them hanging in the front window every Christmas.
She woke us up singing "Good Morning, Good Morning to you!" She played hymns on the piano buy ear.
One of the things I am most grateful for is that grandma took us to church with her. I don't know if we enjoyed church or the ride to church more. We loved when Grandma ramped the hills. As an adult I have tried to ramp those same hills and I am just not brave enough! Pretty sure that's where Katie got her driving skills!
We were blessed to have Grandma. We are thankful to have these and many more memories to share with  our children and grandchildren. We are Thankful to have her as our example on "How to be a Grandma."

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The ENERGYBITS

I just looked over my stats and saw that I have not blogged since Aug.19. Yikes! I had no idea it had been so long! I intended this post to be primarily a review of EnergyBits. In fact, this review was promised, well, weeks ago.
But as often happens, Life and sometimes death gets in the way.
In the last 4 months my family and I have been through many changes and the changes continue, but more on that later. As the title suggests they have been good, bad and just plain ugly. I am happy to report that EnergyBits have helped me survive.
The first big event was our son Josh moving out. It was a good move for him as he was able to get out of a dead end fast food job and rural area where he didn't know many people to an area in which he has friends and family members. We are happy for him but we miss him. He is not the best of communicators. :-)
Next was a dangerous electrical issue that our landlord refused to fix properly. That sent us on a search for new housing.
September 21, our oldest daughter got married. September 27 we started moving into our new home. September 29 my car broke down as we were going to get another load from the old house. I had to drive my daughters car, a 99 Mustang, which I hated, for a couple of weeks. Then it broke down and I had to ride with my boss. It got fixed and I had to drive it again. My car was repaired on October 18th. My stepfather was taken to the hospital on October 19th. After testing and finally heart surgery, my stepfather succumbed to his illness On October 24th. My great aunt died exactly 9 minutes after my step father.
The day after my step fathers funeral the power steering went out of my car as I turned into my office parking lot. A week later my paternal grandmothers health started failing and my uncle had heart surgery. Due to work obligations I couldn't be there for my fathers side of the family. Even now as we wait for the inevitable loss of my grandmother I am still catching up at work. It is all EXHAUSTING.
Where do EnergyBits fit into all this? I may have mentioned that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. RA is aggravated by stress. Besides painful inflammation RA also causes crushing exhaustion. I don't think anyone would argue that stress causes exhaustion.
I had planned to test Energybits on a longer run but as my training schedule was all thrown off it seemed that plan was doomed.
From experience I knew that my stepfathers surgery day would be long and energy robbing. Perfect day to test!
The instructions say to either swallow the tablets or chew the tablets. I admit I am not brave enough to chew them..yet. I swallowed the 30, yes 30, tablets recommended with a large glass of water. The first thing I noticed was my lack of nervous appetite. Normally when faced with long waits without much to do I nibble, constantly. I didn't have that problem. When things didn't go well I was able to focus and support my mother. Throughout the next few days as we made funeral arrangements and  went through the funeral and meal afterward I continued to take the bits every morning. I had enough energy to do everything that needed to be done.
My one complaint is the number of tablets you take. It just seems like a lot.
I will, however, be purchasing more EnergyBits soon!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Technical Difficulties

AKA-due to circumstances beyond our control we will be without Internet for a time. While twitter and Facebook are easy enough on my phone, blogging more than a few sentences is a nightmare.
I will post short updates as often as I can but the longer blog posts will have to wait.
In the meantime- KEEP MOVING!!!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I really gotta lay off the sauce!

No, no, no! Not That kind of sauce! Even in my "mildly wild" days I was never a big drinker. my husband says I am too much of a control freak. Maybe yes, maybe no.
 Back to the topic,the sauce I am referring to here is all the stuff I like to put on my food. As I have been working on improving my nutrition I have realized that sauces are my downfall.
I came to this realization as I was reading one of those "Simple shopping tips to help you lose weight" type of articles. It seems to me that all of those articles always have the "shop the perimeter of the store, because the processed foods are in the middle" tip. I have done this for years because processed food is expensive when you are cooking for a family of 7. My husband and I also love to cook so cooking from scratch really isn't a problem for us. So why am I so overweight if I follow this rule?
Because Dairy and Bread are on the perimeter of the store as well. I love dairy. Cottage cheese, Sour cream, cheeses of every shape and firmness. It sets the heart aflutter, does it not?
 I love fresh raw veggies but they are so much more appealing dipped in a fresh dip of sour cream and spices. Who doesn't love a loaded baked potato? Except my daughter.
Then there are the condiments all loaded up with sugar and sodium and fat. I can feel my arteries clogging just thinking about the mayo that was on my chicken sandwich last week.
We are down to just my husband and youngest daughter in the house. I admit it was tempting to fill up the freezer with "convenience" foods to go along with our busy schedules but we all agreed that we wanted to be healthier. As my husband and I were grocery shopping I realized that we, as a general rule, eat healthy foods but our choices to smother them with sauces and condiments cause a lot of our issues. I put the sour cream back. and the cream cheese. sigh.
So how do we fix the sauce problem? Here are a few tips that are working for us-
1. Season your food so that you do not need to add to it. Get creative with spices. Use fresh lemon,lime or orange juice to give things a little kick. You can mix it in while cooking or squeeze it over just before serving. Fresh garlic and onion and herbs just cannot be beat for a big pop of flavor! If you can't use these, make sure to use spices without salt i.e. garlic POWDER, Onion POWDER etc. Avoid seasoning salt. We all need a sodium in our diets but too much is just not good.
2. Don't overcook your food. Overcooked meat of any type is dry as dust. Overcooked veggies are mushy, colorless and tasteless. When a meal like that is put before you it BEGS for sauce of some sort. You don't have to attend culinary school to be able to cook simple meals. You just have to pay attention. Which brings me to
3. Don't try to multitask while preparing food. It will not end well and you will be melting cheese and pouring on the sauce to cover your mistakes in hopes that you meant to make it "extra crispy"!
4. Don't use too high of heat when cooking your food. You end up with burnt outside, raw inside and again reach for the sauce to make it edible.
5. Get creative with sandwiches. I can't stand a dry sandwich. Replace the mayo, ketchup-whatever- with avocado or hummus or smashed black beans seasoned to fit your taste. Goodbye boring lunches!

Any other suggestions?