Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome is so much fun!


            I wanted to share this in case anyone else is dealing with it and is wondering what’s going on.

            A couple years ago, I began dealing with something called Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome.  It’s a mysterious “we don’t know what’s causing this or what to do about it” kind of thing. 

            For me, it presented itself as getting a severe stomach cramp (which felt like incredible hunger) and then needing to throw up the rest of the night.  Also, lights and sounds and smells would bother me and make me feel sicker, so I would have to hide in a dark room whenever I wasn't hugging the toilet and crying.  But in the morning, I would be fine.

            The thing is … it always happened right before my period.

            The first couple times it happened, it was the night before my period.  But eventually it shifted to the week before.  And this happened for a year.

            As I researched what could be causing this once-a-month vomiting spell, I ran across Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome on-line.  Apparently, it’s like an “abdominal migraine,” which would explain the sensitivity to lights and sounds and smells.  But they have no idea what causes it.

            And while they didn’t have any real answers for me, a couple people recommended taking vitamins for it.  I believe it was Vitamins D and B.

            I figured buying some high-quality vitamins was the cheapest and least invasive option to start with.  Easier than a doctor’s visit and the follow-up tests they would perform to figure out what was going on. 

            So I went out and bought the best vitamins I could find – Vitamin Code’s Women’s Multi Vitamins and their Raw-B Complex.  Since they are really expensive, I decided to start by taking a full dose for a couple weeks and then go to half-doses.  And I would evaluate how I felt after a month.

            But I didn’t have to wait a month to see any effects.  I had a nearly immediate reaction within a day or two of taking these vitamins: I felt a major cramp in my stomach and I spent the night throwing up.  The second time within a week. 

            But then … I never threw up again.

            I still have no idea what vitamin deficiency makes you throw up rhythmically, according to your hormonal cycle, but I make sure to take my vitamins regularly (half-doses).

            I’m sharing this in case anyone else is experiencing it.

            Take your vitamins!  High-quality vitamins!  It’s worth a try if you find yourself throwing up inexplicably once a month.  It worked for me.      

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Goodbye, Cassini


Okay, now I know that stress is getting the best of me … I found myself wanting to sob this morning about Cassini’s dying mission, plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere in its final moments, sending back a final picture of that beautiful giant planet.  I had to wipe the tears away and wave at my eyes to dry them so my husband wouldn’t catch me crying about a spacecraft. 
 

Goodbye, Cassini! Thank you for two decades of service.
 
 

So what kinds of crazy things have made you cry when you’re emotional or overwhelmed?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank You, Lord, that my family in Florida is all safe and that there is minimal property damage (unless more storm surge comes in). 

I bet we could all use a break from the natural disasters (and civil strife and nuclear threats and terrorist concerns and wildfires and economic concerns, etc.) for awhile.  Let's pray that the worst is behind us this year.  

In fact, let's just pray.  Let's pray that God would have mercy on us and put a hedge of protection around us.  Let's pray that the hearts of the people would be turned back to Him before it's too late.  



            2 Chronicles 7:14-15:  “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”  

 

            1 Peter 3:12:  “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
  



(Okay, back to the more light-hearted stuff on this blog and the more faithy stuff on the other blog.  At least for now.)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pray about Irma

My mother and two brothers live on the west coast of Florida, about three-fourths of the way down.  Virtually right by the ocean, surrounded by tons of channels of water.  She jumps on planes all the time, pretty much at a moment's notice, to travel all over the place for fun.

I CAN'T BELIEVE SHE IS NOT EVACUATING BEFORE IRMA HITS!

They have decided to ride it out.  One of the biggest hurricanes in history - wider than the state of Florida - and they are going to RIDE IT OUT!

I just had to say that out loud.  'Cuz I can't believe it.

The storm is set to arrive in a day or two.  And so all I can do now - all we who are not in Irma's path can do now - is pray for those down there.  Pray for protection, for God's mercy, and for the victims.  And donate money to help them rebuild, those hit by Harvey and Irma.  It could be us someday.

Does anyone else feel like the end of the world is breathing down our necks?  With the hurricanes and the earthquakes and the threat of nuclear war and the internal strife in our country? 

If it is the end of the world (or if North Korea sends a "gift") are you ready to meet your Maker?  Do you know where you are going after this life? 

I do. 

My faith is in Jesus Christ, the one who paid for our sins on the cross and "bought us a ticket to heaven."  And all we have to do is accept it.  And if we don't, then we choose to pay for our sins ourselves, remaining separated from God for all of eternity (i.e. hell).

I know this takes a turn from the light-hearted fluff on this blog.  But none of that fluff will matter when eternity comes for you.  

Do you know where you are going?


Friday, September 1, 2017

Six Dollars and Thirty-Three Cents



 
            Six dollars and thirty-three cents.
 

            It’s all the money that my 8-year old and 11-year-old have right now … and they have asked me to donate it to those affected by Harvey.
 

            We were watching some coverage of the aftermath of the storm, and we saw the story of “Mattress Mack,” the man who opened up his high-end furniture store as a shelter.  And my 11-year-old turned to me, almost with tears in his eyes, and said, “It’s so incredible that someone would risk their business like that to help other people.”  He immediately went to his room and scraped up all the coins he could find (getting his 8-year-old brother to do the same) and they gave it to me to give to the Harvey victims.
 

            Six dollars and thirty-three cents. 
 

            “But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 
            Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’”  (Mark 12:42-44)         
 

            Six dollars and thirty-three cents.  It might not be much in the world’s eyes, but it’s an incredible sacrifice in God’s eyes.  Because it comes from a heart that wants to love and help … a heart that sees the hurt and needs of other people and refuses to do nothing … a heart that knows it doesn’t have much to give but that gives it anyway.
 

            ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”  (Matthew 25:40)
 

            What if we all gave at least a mere six dollars and thirty-three cents to help those in need? 
 

            What if we all gave with our whole heart, with a desire to help, to heal, to not sit there and do nothing while others are hurting? 
 

            What if we all lived with the knowledge that it could be our family in extreme need someday, that we could be the ones who lose everything, the ones who are broken and lost and afraid, the “least of these”? 
 

           What if we all saw the “least of these” as brothers and sisters, as friends, as family, as ourselves? 
 

            What if we realized that when we give to them, we give to the Lord, that even our smallest sacrifices matter when they're given out of a heart overflowing with love? 
 

            What if?

 

            I put the boys’ money in a baggie with a note to donate to the relief efforts. 
 
 
            And then we went out and bought $140 worth of necessary items to donate along with the money.  And we are bringing it to the donation drop-off tomorrow.  I want my boys to be a part of this, to feel what it feels like to physically, financially, and emotionally reach out and be a part of the helping efforts, to understand that we all have to do our parts to help those who need it because we are all in need in one way or another.  I want them to remember that $6.33, even though it might seem small, is nothing short of huge, of beautiful, of “worth it.” 
 

            I know that the little bit we donate won’t make much difference in the grand scheme of things and that none of the victims will really see that $6.33.  But – if anything – I am writing this post so that the victims of Harvey know that they are not alone, that they are in our hearts and prayers, that we are standing alongside them in this time of tragedy, and that even two small children care enough about them to give them all that they have, . 
 

            God bless you all!  God keep you in His comforting hands and may He help you find healing – physical, spiritual, financial, relational.  And may a tragedy like bring us together as a nation, helping us rise above the differences that are tearing our country apart.    
 

            “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ … ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:30-31)
 

            “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  (Hebrews 13:16)
 

            “Do to others as you would  have them do to you … Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  (Matthew 6:31, 38)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Question for God

There's a question I would love to ask God when I meet Him ...

Where do all the pens in my house go!?!

I mean, seriously, it's almost magical, almost supernatural how fast they disappear, never to be seen again!

Where do all the pens go?

And why, oh why, can't ALL the members of my family like at least three meals that I make?  Why does there always have to be at least one whiner-baby?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Childhood


"Mother"


The Chains of Motherhood!

            I was reading a book while I was on vacation that I was kinda enjoying – until I began to see how much this woman-author was putting work above family and how much effort she was putting into excusing it, into making it sound like it was a such a good, wise decision.  She had congratulated herself for focusing on raising her children for the first six or so years of their lives (along with focusing on having an affair to get back at her adulterous husband) before needing to pursue her dreams and professional goals. 

            It was as though she was saying, “See how much I sacrificed for you for those six years!  Be thankful for that much.  Wow!  Six whole years!  Look at what a saint and a dedicated mother I have been.  And now that you are six years old, it’s my turn to take care of me.”  And she left her family to live with the guy she was having an affair with and to build a career.  Because it fulfilled her more than just being a "mother and wife."

            It bothered me deeply to read that.  But what really did it – what made me close the book in disgust and refuse to read anymore - was this line (paraphrased) …

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lavender Essential Oil and Tea Tree Oil for Owies, Bug Bites, and General Wellness

            (Auto-correct doesn’t think “owie” is the right spelling.  But I think it’s just fine.)

            By far, the best essential oils for bug bites and general owies are lavender and tea tree oil.  Always keep these on hand to tackle any mystery bump or bite (diluted in carrier oil, of course).

            I became a loyal fan of lavender when I saw a few drops of it heal a red, hot, spreading spider bite on my toddler, a growing skin infection (cellulitis, I believe) from a mosquito bite, and a blood infection that was a black line travelling up someone’s arm from an infected burn.  It only took a couple drops, and all of these things went away completely.  The blood infection vanished within two hours of applying the oil once and the infected bites within two days after applying it a couple times each day.  (This was before I knew to dilute them, though.  I strongly believe in diluting them now so that you don’t become sensitized to them.)

            And my husband had a bad spider bite on his knee that made his knee hot and swollen and red.  We tried various oils on it, but the only one that worked was Tea Tree Oil.  It healed it within a few days.

            If you only ever buy two oils, make it these two. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fakey Bacon

            There’s only one thing I never feed my children.  I mean, for the most part we avoid GMOs and artificial this and artificial that.  But the one thing I tell them never to touch is pork.  No ham, no bologna, no sausage, no bacon.  (So who’s thinking “horrible parent” right about now?)

            The only time we eat pig products is when we have marshmallows (gelatin) for s’mores on vacation once a year, when we take vitamins with gelatin (but we try to buy those without gelatin), and when we forget to not eat pie that we didn’t make (many pre-made pie crusts have lard) or bean dips at parties (most people buy the regular refried beans which contains lard). 

            But other than that … no pork!

Moist and Chewy Low-Sugar Chocolate Zucchini Breakfast Cake

            (Say that 5 times fast!)
            I am constantly cutting down the sugar in everything I make.  And yet I do like a nice chocolate cake.  And I also like finding ways to use up the abundance of overgrown zucchini that I get from the garden in the summer.  (From my father-in-law’s garden, that is.  I don’t get enough sun for much summer squash in mine.) 
            So I found a way to combine “low sugar” with zucchini and chocolate … and that’s what this cake is.  A good-for-you cake that we usually eat for breakfast.  (I am not a morning person so I do not cook breakfast in the morning.  But I make cakes like these the night before so we have something quick yet healthy to grab for breakfast.)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Low-Sugar Zucchini Bread - Three Ways

(Spiced, “Carrot Cake-ish,” or Chocolate Chip)
A "go to" breakfast bread for us!

            I cringe – physically cringe and gag – when there is too much sugar in a recipe. 

            Whenever I make dessert for other people and I try to pour in the called-for amount of sugar (which is usually double what I put in for my family), I physically cannot make my hand pour the whole amount in.  I start to sweat and panic at the thought of too much sugar.  So I always stop short. 

            Personally, the ratio of sugar to flour that I think is perfectly sweet is about 1 cup sugar to 4-5 cups flour, maybe with a spoonful of sugar sprinkled over the top to trick your mind into thinking that it’s sweeter than it actually is. 

            But the recipe that I found for zucchini bread in a cookbook is more than 1 cup sugar to 2 cups flour.  UGH!  So I made this one with less sugar.  I think that the less sugar you have, the more flavor you can actually taste in your food and the better you feel about yourself.

Simple Tomato Salsa - Two Ways

#1  This is one of my favorite ways to use tomatoes from the garden.  You could make a whole meal out of just this with some chips or crackers, some cheese on the side, and some fresh fruit.  It would be great on a really hot day when you don’t want to cook.

            All you do is dice up some tomatoes and garlic cloves and add some rough chopped basil.  If you want, season it with a little salt and pepper and/or a drizzle of olive oil.


            That’s it!  So simple.  (I would say about a clove of garlic and a couple basil leaves per regular-sized tomato.) 

            It’s great on sliced, buttered, toasted French bread or with crackers, tortilla chips, pita chips, or other chips.  (I’m partial to Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil Triscuits.  Oh, so good!)

 

#2  This is almost the same thing, but not quite. 

            Just dice up some tomatoes, garlic, onions (red, if you prefer), and bell peppers (optional), and add a little salt and pepper.  (Use the quantities of each that you like.)  

            A friend made this once as an appetizer, but we experimented by spooning it onto our slices of cooked pizza.  It added so much flavor and pizzazz to an otherwise boring pizza.  And we have never been the same since.  It has revolutionized “pizza night” at our house.  Whenever I don’t make it, my cheese pizza slice looks really sad.  

            These would also be great on tacos, fajitas, or other such food!

Easy Garlic Butter


            Today, I am making garlic butter for my kids who all have colds.  I have one son who cannot swallow a pill or vitamin to save his life.  So one day, I made a ton of this garlic butter for him, and he ate it slathered all over a piece of toast. 

            Garlic helps you fight germs. 

            So this is not only a great butter to serve with dinner (especially on warm, homemade bread or French bread), but it’s also great for when you are not feeling well and need a boost for your immune system. 

            And it couldn’t be easier to make.  (The hardest part is peeling the garlic.)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Sick of Social Media Manipulation

I'm not talking about legitimate issues and concerns here ... But is anyone else sick of people using social media to manipulate our emotions with some tiny video or post meant to get us all worked up so that we join in on their political/social agenda without thinking critically about it first?  Aren't we all sick of feeling like pawns yet, letting others manipulate us into feeling what they feel so that we join them in some sort of protest or boycott because of some emotionally-charged video which hardly ever tells the whole story and virtually never gives a balanced, rational view of whatever the person is worked up about? 

Or is it just me?      

(Note to social studies students:  This would be a great research project - studying how easy it is to manipulate masses of people through social media and how little we examine the issues before forming our opinion and running off and joining some protest.)

Easy Meal: Potatoes Two Ways

            This is so ridiculously easy that it almost doesn’t warrant a post.  But I thought I’d share it anyway because sometimes the simplest things are the most overlooked things.

            Occasionally, I make this super simple meal at our house.  And almost no one complains.  It takes about an hour but includes almost no preparation or mess at all.
 

            All I do is scrub up some potatoes (sweet or russet), wrap them in foil while they are still wet, and pop them into the oven or toaster oven at 450 degrees for an hour.  Then when they are done, unwrap them, slit them, mash lightly, and then …

            1.  For the russet potatoes, simply top with butter, shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.  You could also add sour cream, chives, onion powder, garlic powder, cooked sloppy joe meat, chili or taco meat, etc.  But even just the cheesy potato makes a really simply, satisfying meal.  (Maybe with some carrots, corn, green beans, or other veggies on the side, too.)       

 

            2.  For the sweet potatoes, I like to top it with butter, dried cranberries, nuts, shredded coconut, pepper, cinnamon, and maple syrup (or you could use a sprinkle of sugar).  It’s one of my favorite ways to eat a sweet potato for lunch when the weather gets cooler in the fall. 
 
(Trust me, it tastes better than it looks!)


            This is a go-to meal when I do not want to make a lot of dishes or do not have the time to do a lot of preparation.  I just pop them in the oven and get other things done while they cook.  And then an hour later – voila - lunch is all ready in a few short steps.                

See!  I told you it was pathetically simple!
             

Out of the mouths of babes!

            We went to the movies the other day, and there was this commercial that played before the movie.  It showed a bunch of moms taking a stand for something – like a breastfeeding mom and a working mom and a mom who bribes her kids to do work, etc.  And the message was “This is my choice.  I am a strong mom and woman, and I will not let myself be shamed by you.”

            And, yeah, I kind of liked it.  But then it ended with this, with what the whole commercial was about: 

            A mom steps up and says (an interpretation of its tone and message) that she doesn’t care if the particular food item that she was feeding her kids wasn’t organic or non-GMO or a healthy, hippy-dippy, crunchy-granola-mama, blah-blah-blah kind of food.  She says that her kids know what they like and don’t care what’s in it.  And she’s proud of her choice to give her kids this less healthy product and she’s not going to let anyone shame her into feeling bad about it.

            Okay, I get that.  We all give our kids unhealthy foods from time to time, treats or snacks or a quick, packaged meal.  And no one should feel shamed about doing that on occasion.

            But what I loved most about this commercial was my 7-year-old son’s reaction.  He turned to me with a horrified look on his face and said, “So… what!?!  They’re saying that you should just give your kids any gross thing!?!  That you should feel good about giving them junk!?!  They’re making it sound like it’s a good thing!”

            Out of the mouths of babes!  Babes who can see through a pathetic ploy to embolden you to give your kids unhealthy food and to make you feel like a pitiful, over-worried, manipulated-by-the-health-food-companies mom if you make careful, informed, healthy choices!    

            I’d love to meet the brains behind that pathetic commercial, to meet the people who really think that mocking health-conscious parents and that encouraging parents to feel good about themselves for making deliberate unhealthy choices would actually sell their product.  It made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.
 
 
 
 

Pan-Fried and Shredded Chicken Fajitas with Candied Carrots

Another easy meal for a hot summer day!  I like pairing the spicy fajitas with the slightly sweet carrots.  It makes a nice complimentary contrast!

This dish comes together in a snap if you have pan-fried and shredded the chicken ahead of time.  I like to make a double batch of the shredded chicken and use one for dinner that night and then freeze the rest for a quick meal later. 

 

 

(Okay, you'll just have to get used to the fact that my pictures of food will not be the best.  I'm too busy cooking and serving it to a family of 6 to care about the pictures.  I'd much rather be taking pictures of flowers anyway.)

 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My Favorite Smoked Turkey and Pasta Summer Salad with Homemade Zesty Italian Dressing

When I was first married, I made this salad sometimes with Kraft's Zesty Italian Dressing, which I loved.  But on our journey to healthier eating over the years, we stopped buying most bottled Italian dressings.  And since I never bothered to come up with a good alternative, I stopped making this salad altogether. 

But then with the arrival of summer's heat and the first homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers of the year, I started on a quest to make a homemade zesty Italian which could rival the store-bought stuff and do this salad justice.  And I think I came up with a fairly good version (but I am still tweaking it here and there).  And I am now once again making this salad that I love so much (but unfortunately, I can't say the same for all my children).

This salad is so simple and it's perfect on a hot summer's day with some buttered bread on the side and a glass of ice water or lemonade.


(I know it's not the best picture,
but we were already eating it for dinner when it dawned on me to take a photo of it.)

Motherhood



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Dangers of Technology

I learned something new today.  I learned that technology is evil.  My son's "face recognition" program on his 2DS just recognized me - his mother - as an "adult male."  

No one asked for your opinion, you stupid technology!  

(And my bearded husband was a "male infant."  Why couldn't I be "male infant"?  If I was destined to be labeled as "male," I think I'd rather be "male infant" than "adult male" because infants are softer and sweeter-looking than adults.  Then again, if it recognized bearded people as "infants" then I guess I should be thankful that it called me "adult."  I probably couldn't win either way with that one.



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bright and Beautiful

I love taking over-exposed pictures.  It's a delightful surprise to see what shows up.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Easy Does It

This rose is one of my favorites.  It's called Easy Does It.  And it's striking with it's sunset colors and wavy petals.

 
 
 
 

 
 

 (over-exposed)