Saturday, February 26, 2011

This Is No Picnic in the Park


One thing I’ve learned about parenting is… the teen-years are hard! I miss the sleepless nights of toddlers. Sleepless nights of teens is harder than I expected.


When my children were young I used to discard all the stories that circulated about how the teen years would be the crisis time in my child rearing experiences. After all, I was doing it all by the book. It was easy to believe then that I would be able to draw strength from the fact that I had once been a teen myself, and could use this experience to ensure that my children would journey through teenage years without causing me to so much as raise an eyebrow. I knew all their tricks. I had learned by my experiences and by my observations all there was to know about parenting.

LOL. Boy was I certifiable! Raising teens is the hardest thing I have ever done — it makes pregnancy and childbirth look like a picnic in the park!

I sit here today, drowning in four teenage year's experiences I am currently “NAGivating” that, at times, seem to be unending, scarred and traumatic. Will I survive? So far, as I get ready to send my first off into the adult world as a marriage lady, I have learned that it takes a lot of guile, cunning and inner strength to survive the many years that span the time from when my first born (20 on Tuesday) turned thirteen to the time my fifth, 12 years her junior, will celebrate her twentieth birthday. AHH! That’s 19 years of teenagers. Heaven help me!

I have to admit that I was not prepared for the child transition from twelve to teen years. It seemed as if, from the morning of their thirteenth year they became almost possessed by the power of teendom. Why? Where did the sweet-mom-pleasing children go? Over night the sweet, funny, communicative child who seemed to adore the very ground that I walked on, changed. In its place there is this alien, one who has a foreign language, composed of grunts most of the time. There is this challenger, who doubtes my knowledge, wisdom and vast experience and cast my opinions into a “recycle Bin.”

One of my survival techniques I learned from my mom is that the one sure way to deal with the sometimes grumpy side of the teenager is to be as wacky, if not more so, than the teenager is. Nothing throws an un-rulely teen off their guard like the crazy lady goofing off next to them in public. LOL. I have found that humor is the best policy and, believe me, it works with teenagers as well. Nearly always, they find it embarrassing and cringe a little, but it does evoke a smile and it is very hard to be grumpy when you are smiling. Thanks mom.

The second survival skill I rely on is tolerance. Teens are emotionally erratic (even the boys!) and this can only be responded to with tolerance and calmness. If I can succeed in none to a little reaction to their antics I can usually refute huge problems. It’s no fun when mom has disconnected the button. Take that son!

Of course, the lack of discipline of teenage years; the mess that seem to follow everywhere they go and the reluctance to raise so much as a finger to return things to normal, is difficult. At least as little kids they liked to clean up to little Barney Songs. Now, nothing works and the whole area looks like a nuclear bomb went off. Somehow I’d like them to understand that I can tolerate their personal space remaining a mess, however, the rest of the house needs to remain relatively teen free and tidy… if only for my sanity.

Then there is lack of interest in anything, even school. What will they be able to do as adults? I don’t think I could have them continue to live here after they should be on their own. I’ll go nuts! My son, for example, doesn’t have any motivation beyond the here and now. I want him to have higher education as a goal, but I can’t get him interested in his current education. It’s not like I expect him to be a genius-entrepreneur-athlete-altruist-artist… or maybe is it a problem? Seriously, I just want him to care about learning and doing his best in his math class and not fighting me over his other school subjects. That’s not asking too much is it?

Note to teens: the issue of respect of the mom. For example, call the mom when you are going to change plans like rides, friends, etc. Don’t leave the mom hanging around waiting for 25 minutes because you decided to go to a friend’s house. Oh! And ASK her not tell her. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. That’s all I ask.

As for rebellion, something that teens are notoriously good at… I am still working on that. It seems to me that this is a time of teen madness and there is nothing I can do but wait for the phase to pass, like it’s some terrible flu bug. Maybe it’s more them sending a message to me. If so, I need a decoder ring. All the same, this experience is teaching me how to remain passionate about the things that are important to me and, when I remember this, it appears they began to respect me more. At least, that is what I’m hoping for.

The small stuff — like rudeness, irresponsibility and utter obliviousness to the effort and money I put into their well-being —test me daily.

It’s crazy! I didn’t allow my kids, now 20, 17, 15, 13, and 7, to go on sleepovers, watch endless hours television or play video/computer games. (Have to admit I’ve gone lax on that lately… tired of the fight I guess). I’ve expected their best in our home school subjects. I’ve even set standards and then back off, to give my kids space to err and stumble, and to allow them get up again — by themselves.

I’ve resisted the instinct to overprotect them, to overindulge them, to over-schedule them and to fight their battles for them. I can see that kind of parenting deprives them of the most critical learning they need to do. I try not to over-coddle my children, demanding little of them but wanting everything for them. I still wonder at my teens’ lack of respect for elders and others.

One thing is for sure. The process of raising offspring as much messier and nuanced requiring a more moderate and compassionate approach then I ever imagined. There is NO neat list of dos and don’ts, nor blanket prescriptions that lead to success. Just trial and error.

Yesterday felt much like trial and FAIL. Oh well. There is always today.

Snow Day


Yesterday, Mother Nature decided to fill the backyard up with all that winter wonderfulness that kids dream of... well at least for a few hours in the morning.

Our usual winter weather is rain. Snowflakes are a welcome change. Snowflakes also bring a new vibe to the house… especially the 7 year old. She was charged with energy while the snow lasted. It was nearly like Christmas morning when she woke up to an inch of snow and ice on the ground and snowflakes falling from the sky the size of snowballs.

The kids just played while the snow lasted. The little girls went inside and outside all morning. I know I should have focused more on home school lessons, but you only live once. Yesterday was our only chance for a snow day this year.


I have to laugh that our area public schools take a snow day for 1 inch of snow. I guess I could admit that the area is not prepared for icy conditions because they are once-in-a-year kind of event.

Back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I went to school, we didn’t have snow days.




We walked across the field to the bus or to school in the snow. And, to play into the old whine, it was uphill both ways. I had two hills on our mile long driveway. LOL. I love to tell the kids I walked up hills both ways.

Seriously, all the Facebook posts from kids proves that a Snow Day is the only surprise out that kids have short of a gas leak. It’s the one moment that school doesn’t have a soul crushing grasp of them. It’s the one loophole that gives kids hope and teachers a “paid” vacation.

Today, however? Business as usual. I guess it’s time to get moving and start the kids on their school work.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Embracing my behind


Lately I feel unendingly behind… in everything.


Behind on my blogging.

Behind on my workouts… hmm… what’s a workout?

Behind on my housework… it looks like a bomb was set off in here!

Behind on my weight loss… for about a year now.

Behind… behind… behind… Seriously, let's not even discuss my inbox… or the laundry… or the dishes… or the holiday décor.

With all of the things on my plate it seems like there are so many days I'm doing good to just tread water. (at least treading water burns calories). I feel like I'm in a constant state of trying to catch up. Here's the thing though: in always tending to look forward to the day when I'll be 'caught up'...

Yes, there are a lot of things on my plate right now (the play is over, but the wedding is in full force now!), Everything I do is carefully chosen by me. I am mindful to not be busy just for the sake of busy. I try to watch my priorities and say no when I need to say no. So, why do I feel so overwhelmed lately?

It’s just life.

So today I decided to “practice” yoga today as I was laying in bed this morning as my clock went off at 5:00am.

So I was lying there in relaxation pose this morning in bed. I was reviewing all the things I’ve heard yoga instructors say, and it hit me… “The key to conscious relaxation is to observe and accept the present state of your body-mind.”

Wait stop! Why hasn’t this hit me before?



Observe and accept. Observe and accept. Observe and accept. The present state of your body-mind. The present state.

I realize that I haven’t been doing this well. I have observed, but I have not accepted. I have acknowledged, but I have not accepted. I have talked, but I have not accepted. I have not accepted that my body is achy and tired. I have not accepted that my body doesn’t do well with the stress that surrounds me. I have not accepted that it is grieving. I have not accepted that winter and hormone surges make it all worse.

Why? Because I was afraid that if I accepted these things then I’d have to accept that I need to take an indefinite break from the things that make me happy. And if I take an indefinite break from the things that make me happy, then I’d have to give up the dream of better health (and even a smaller body size).

By not accepting what’s going on with my body, I am also not honoring it or trusting it. I was angry and impatient with it.

Oh the maturity… LOL.

The fact of the matter is, accepting the present state of my body-mind is the key to everything because by accepting it, I am trusting it.

I trust that my body knows what it is doing. I trust that it will guide me and not let me down. My body knows what it needs in terms of food and movement. I trust that it will not gain weight even though I am not walking or working out every day. I trust that it will let me know when it’s okay to resume those activities.

I trust it. I accept it. I accept the present state of my body-mind.

So, today I'm going to embrace my behind...or is it my behinded-ness?

I'm not giving myself permission to be a slacker, but I am giving myself permission to not always be perfect at everything. Permission to do my best and then just not stress. I am giving myself the gift of accept-ness.

My house will not always be perfect, because we all kinda sorta insist on living here. My workouts will not always be perfect - sometimes there are not enough hours in a day; there will be days I am a slug and days that simply run away with themselves.

It is not OK is focusing so much on catching up or thinking forward to the ever elusive day that I will be completely caught up (as in perfect) so much that I'm not really enjoying today. This day. Because this is the day I live in. Not tomorrow, not yesterday.

I accept what I am today.

So, yes I'm embracing my behind. It's where I am right now. And that's OK.

BTW… here is my great experiment of the week. Pumpkin pie oatmeal for breakfast. I mixed about ½ cup of pumpkin, 2 T. of brown sugar, and 1 t. pumpkin pie spice mixed with the water I needed to make my oatmeal. After baking it, I poured a little coconut milk over it. It was the BOMB!



Salad – Day 37 I made a great salad this week too and even took a picture! I used baby greens, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, bean sprouts, avocado and my home canned tuna. Delish!



Practice of Simplicity – Day 34 Life is far from simple at the moment. There are less than 4 more weeks left until the big wedding day. There is nothing simple about marrying off a daughter… but I’m doing my best. For example. I went to visit people from my church today. (visiting teaching) It was good to sit and visit with people and to cheer and care for the needs of others.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Taking the Keys Back


My day had a slow start. NO school. No seminary. President’s Day.

Sad that the celebration of two of the finest men and the ideals they stood for have been reduced to one day. When I was a kid we celebrate each day separately. Sadly, we Americans are moving further and further from our founding Father’s principles. We are a changed nation.

I decided to give them the honor they deserve by celebrating the principles they fought and died for.

One of the provisions that many students learn in high school government or civics classes is the right of all Americans to petition the government under the First Amendment.

The key is to get involved with the political world. It may not be so easy. Getting a cause noticed or raising awareness does not always have to involve picket signs, bull horns, and public demonstrations. It takes time. It takes a voice. It takes putting my actions where my mouth is… or something like that.



This month the President visited my fine state. The president boasts that he won’t give back the keys to the nation to Republicans!

Please! The keys don't belong to any party, they belong to us, the people. Personally, I want them back! It is time to GET INVOLVED. No longer can “we the key owners” (once known as “we the people”) assume that the valet really took care of the car. I’m afraid the valet took the car for a joy ride and the car may be lucky to survive!

There are some people who seem to have more causes than fingers and toes. Education, war, peace, poverty, abuse – all of them are worthy topics worth discussion among private citizens and lawmakers.

However, in order to have someone listen, it is essential to pick one or two causes to stand for, and then push forward to educate yourself, those around you, and to better inform lawmakers. Informed, key holding voters make a difference. Otherwise, having too many pots on the stove could lead to a big mess later… and I hate cleaning up the kitchen.

As a result… I have found my “cause”.

Education! Education is what forms the future. Education is what ultimately protects freedom.

There's been a lot of buzz in the media about the state of the American education system. My school district is no exception.

I'm not a teacher, nor an educational consultant. In fact, I am a home schooling mom whose children spend the majority of their educational hours in the home, only attending the local schools for music, higher math, and extracurricular activities. I understand that my educational choices for my family have been a point of contention for many who feel that I have no right to comment on the state of public education. I don’t have an issue any of the teacher’s I have met, nor with the staff who are in the trenches of daily education. Frankly, I know I lack patience required to spend more than a few hours in the political environment of the school system and with the many students that have no love for learning or gratitude for the blessings that an education will afford them. I have the greatest admiration and respect for those who have chosen to be underappreciated and underpaid to devote their lives to educating young people.

My main qualification to write on this topic is that I'm a parent with three children in the education system for periodic classes, a tax payer, and a citizen concerned for our country’s future. I'm a stakeholder, you might say. I spend countless hours volunteering my time, education, and talents to make our schools better. I spend time on the battle field.

My experience has strengthened my resolve that educating parents about how success in school begins with and is inseparable from parenting at home is most urgent. It has also taught me that parental involvement includes insisting that the highest level of leadership be responsible and forth coming… something sadly lacking in our district.

It's easy to feel discouraged in light of all the stark statistics and discouraging data that abound on the state of public education. But as remarkable educator Helen Keller once taught us, "I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something, and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do."

In that spirit, I'll offer good and bad news. The bad news is Superman will not be coming. Instead, it is time for us all to become Superman or Superwoman for our students and our schools and stop relying solely on other superheroes to do the job for us. The good news is we can - and it may be easier than you think.

Whether you agree with my perspective or not, you owe it to children, our future and yourself to get educated on the state of education in your own area. In my area you can visit classrooms, school board meetings, read published meeting notes, the blog sites thecentraladvocate and Citizens for 13j Excellence. Ask questions.  Get informed. Only then can we really make a difference.

You can't change education nationally without acting locally. Get involved in your city, and learn what you can do to make a difference.

Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl once said, "When we are no longer able to change the situation ... we are challenged to change ourselves."

It's time for all of us to take up our collective capes and begin discerning that one thing we can do to help and then get busy doing it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Carpe Diem - a Pep Talk


Dear me,


Look. The play is over and you only have 4 weeks to look fabulous for your daughter’s wedding. I totally understand that you have been busy doing what you love in the past few weeks, but it’s time to move forward…. And I mean MOVE. I recognize that you have been busy. It’s been stressful, but a good kind of stressful. (smile)

Hit the restart button. Without passing Go… or collecting $200.

Here is where it can all get better. It’s not too late! Not only did you eat well, including a delicious veggie filled salad, but tomorrow you get the chance to exercise again and undo some of the damage of avoiding the treadmill for the past month.

You CAN turn this around and make this the first of many improving weeks to come. You do not have to let your attitude about exercise beat you. You’re stronger and smarter than that, and you are worth working for it.

Tomorrow? Yoga and treadmill. If you lesson cancels in the morning you could even try Zumba up at the church. Then you can spend the week following the week’s meal plans. They look so yummy. You even get to try a few new recipes. You won’t regret it.

As a brilliant blogger said the other day on her blog (of which I’m entirely too un-brilliant to remember who the heck said it), IF HUNGER ISN’T THE PROBLEM. FOOD ISN’T THE SOLUTION. You have heard it before, but today the moon and stars were aligned just right ‘cuz it punched me smack dab in between my brown eyes like a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey contest winner. So, remember, find real solutions for the stresses of life.

On more bit advice for the week, blatantly-stolen-only-because-I’m-too-short-memoried-to-credit-the-awesome-blogger: LOSING WEIGHT IS HARD. BEING FAT IS HARD. YOU CHOOSE. So, be wise in making choices this week.

The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief. ~William Shakespeare, Othello

So choose to smile… come what may. It will eat at adversity and you will gain the upper hand.

Today is the day. It all comes down to choice… every minute of every day.

The Roman philosopher Lucius Seneca in an essay entitled, On the Shortness of Time said, “It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it,” Seneca said

This is called Carpe Diem, or Seize the Day.

When you live by the Carpe Diem mantra, of Seizing the Day, you know that life is too important and to vital to waste even a single breath doing the things that aren’t in synch with your soul.

The most integral thing in your life then becomes doing what you love and living that way each and every day.

In the spirit of Carpe Diem, read the following quotes on the subject. May they inspire you to Seize the Day and live your dreams to the fullest.

Here they are:

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. ~ Abraham Lincoln

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see. ~ John Burroughs

To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions. ~ William James

You may delay, but time will not. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out. That is what it is for. Spend all you have before you die; do not outlive yourself. ~ George Bernard Shaw

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die the world cries and you rejoice. ~ Indian Saying

Life is always walking up to us and saying, “Come on in, the living’s fine,” and what do we do? Back off and take its picture. ~ Russell Baker

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ~ Mark Twain

Cowards die many times before their deaths;

The valiant never taste of death but once. ~ William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, 1600

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. ~ Thomas La Mance

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me. ~ William Shakespeare

We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. ~ Japanese Proverb

So go now! Move forward! Conquer!

Love , Me

Friday, February 18, 2011

Taking down A.L.I.S.O.N.S.M.I.T.H.

So…




It’s been a great week. The show opened. It is so good! The director has done a fabulous job teaching these kids the art of Shakespeare. Her vision and teaching skill amaze and impress me. The kids have worked hard. They have learned so much and look like real actors. It is an honor to be part of such a great show. It is sad that tomorrow night is the last time this show will come to life on this stage. It is sad because, for me, theater is like a 2 hour vacation.

Sad to see it fade…

It has been hard to find time to blog every day because I’m busy doing what brings me joy. But I haven’t given up on doing simple things to make life enjoyable. I haven’t stopped my goal to eat a salad every day.

On the down side – my house looks like a bomb went off. Cleaning house is not what I “live” to do. I just can’t find the motivation to care. I also fail when it comes to creating “cutesy” house décor. I read other bloggers that do amazing creative things to decorate their house and entertain their kids. Some of these bloggers are wildly successful with weight loss and have huge followings – even make money off their success. Me? I write all about it, but I haven’t moved off this plateau of mine in over a year!

Sometimes I find myself comparing all these successful women to me, and I dream of doing amazing things. I dream of successful parenting, perfectly home schooling the kids, creating master pieces in the theater, holding a career where people “need” my genius, keeping a perfect “Molly-Mormon” home- complete with the perfect modern décor and spotlessly clean - and a Garden-of-Eden like yard and garden like in the magazine and blogs I browse, and succeeding in weight loss and healthy goals so that I am miraculously size 10 (I’m trying to be realistic not fanatic) and I’ve somehow made a fortune selling my story.

See? I’ve got a creative mind.

So, I’m making plans for the future… far in the future.

In my next life I am going to be all those things. When I create my future world, chocolate will be dietetic, the seasons will be: 3 months of growing season summer, 4 months of fall, 4 months of spring, 1 month of winter, with snow (December). I might even get brave and spend a little time traveling the world so that I can hit whatever season I want. I will have enough money to produce fabulous theater any time I want that can take people away from their cares and worries in a two hour vacation.

Also, there will be no PMS, and gestation will last two weeks, at which time the child will walk out of my navel and graduate from college. (These teen years may be the end of me!) Oh! And kids will cheerfully do chores while they whistle “Whistle while You Work” in harmony. Oh! Oh! And all items that hit the floor will magically put themselves away, and the dishes will wash themselves, like in Sword In the Stone.

You are ALL invited.

The real secret to my success will be that in my world, there will be no women who get so much done in a single day that one begins to wonder if, in fact, they are not one person at all, but rather a consortium of people, hiding behind a front-man (woman). For example, I knew this girl from college, I’ll just call her Alison Smith (Smith is vary ambiguous since I went to college in Utah. LOL Besides, I ready a funny blog about A.L.I.S.O.N.S.M.I.T.H that has inspired me). But I don’t think "she" exists anymore. Not really. I don’t know any actual human being who can get as much done in life as she claims she can: creating, writing for, and managing multiple blogs, running various businesses out of the home, writing books, home schooling all of her children, building a house, keeping it clean and modern, being in plays, inviting aging parents to live with her, having a church calling or three, and possibly running for president. I’m sure I’ve left something out.

What the heck! She has my life! At least the life I’d like to have.  But I know you know the type... the type whose Christmas letters is more like a resumee of amazing accomplishments and their amazing talented kids.



I think the real Alison was translated years ago and has since been replaced by a consortium called A.L.I.S.O.N.S.M.I.T.H., also known as the American League of Ingenious Systems Organizers Not Stopped by Moony Idiots that Tergiversate Heavily. (Which, for those of you who don’t use words like “tergiversate” in daily conversation as I do, means: To change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to cause, subject, etc. [Dictionary.com] Oh, and I confess, I just learned the word today. You caught me). A.L.I.S.O.N. is not doing all of this work by herself. Neither are my amazing friends, or any of the women I know whose portfolios are bursting at the seams like A.L.I.S.O.N.’s is. They’ve got help. I know they do. And they’re giving the rest of us tergiversators a bad name. Need proof? Try Oprah. She have a cook, and a trainer, and a personal shopper, and, an editor, and, and, and…

So, what to do? I propose we join a campaign to take down all People-Who-Are-Really-Acronymed-Consortiums. Yes, take them right down! They are influencing our children, who – may I remind you – are our future. They are influencing our government. They are influencing society. They are changing the world! And what about me? These people are messing with my life. I’ve got some lemonade to drink, and some movies to watch, and some chocolates to slam down while avoiding cooking dinner. And I know I am not alone.

Here’s the plan. It’s easy. We give all these little Super-Stepford-Women the day off. That’s it. They won’t know what to do. The droves of little worker-bees that make up the A.L.I.S.O.N. consortium—and the consortiums of those like her—buzzing around frantically with nothing to do? They’ll blitz-out. Go completely catatonic from the shock of being unable to accomplish anything. And the rest of us will finally get a rest. In reality, the rest of us will look successful with all the work we do or do not get done.

Oh yeah. I got this. No more comparing myself to the perfect woman in the ward. No more comparing myself to the amazing bloggers I enjoy to read. No more comparing myself to the “Weight Loss” successes. No more self-esteem puncture when my homegrown yeast bread comes out of the oven looking like an albino slug that weighs a ton and no one will eat. No more feeling guilty that my house can not be the poster house of Better Homes and Gardens. I’m going to be FREE!

Who’s with me?

Salad – Day 32 Keeping them simple, but ready to try some adventurous salad recipes.

Practice of Simplicity – Day 29 Look for new things to drop every day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I spin you round round baby round round



I know it appears that I’ve been “a-wall”. An old and nasty friend came back last week. For the last few days, I’ve been experiencing vertigo, dizziness, lightheadedness, and severe nausea. Blahk!


It’s like this: you're sitting in your couch, chatting with a friend and eating a little lunch. Suddenly you sense that you're moving. You grab the sides of the couch, worried you are experiences an earthquake, only to discover, with a mild sense of embarrassment, that you weren't moving at all. Whoops! At the moment this incident occurred, your inner ear and your peripheral vision sent information to your brain which was interpreted as movement. The information was correct. There was movement...it just happened to be the kids running around you, not your own movement. The information was valid, but the conclusion as interpreted by the brain was not correct. The incorrect feeling you initially had of movement...that you were moving when you were not is: vertigo.



Then you lose your lunch.

The most frustrating thing about vertigo is the inherent reaction of all of us to believe our feelings and respond to them accordingly. The inner desire to 'trust' our feelings is very difficult to overcome. I don’t know anyone who can just overcome them. It takes work. And sometimes I don’t succeed, and other times I do.

This truth translates to my Christian beliefs and my effort to walk almost perfectly. I'm making an analogy here and all analogies break down at some point. Nevertheless, just try to work with me.

The nature man compounds daily life and sends us into a tail spin. Spiritual vertigo!

We 'feel' one way...the Holy Spirit tells us something else. I 'feel' that it wouldn't be wrong for me to do 'such-n-such' ...but scripture and the words of the prophets tells me differently. Conversely, I may 'feel' as though I'm doing ok (in a spiritual sense) when God is saying, 'No, you need to get on straight and level... '

God wants us to trust him. Trusting God takes a lifetime of struggle, pain, and work. Yet, I sense that some look at the people around them and are tempted to think that trusting God came naturally for others. But believe me when I say, it is anything but natural...anything but easy. I have not come to the place where I would consider myself to be mature in my testimony of Christ. But I am approaching a place where I understand that I cannot take my eyes off Christ -- even with the 'little' things. For when I do, vertigo sets in. At first, I don't feel dizzy. I don't feel as though anything is wrong. Nevertheless, I will crash unless I do what seems so unnatural: stop trusting in my own senses and center my focus on Christ, regardless of what my feelings tell me.

Proverbs 3:7 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all they way acknowledge him and He shall direct thy path.

If you can’t tell…. This is my favorite scripture. When I feel my world spinning round, round I reach for this thought and somehow things get better.

Christ said, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3) Knowing requires a relationship. Knowing requires focus. Knowing will require my entire life...

So as my world spun this past week, due to an inner ear infection, I held on to my bed… I tried to hang on to my lunch… I held on to the belief that this would pass and that with God everything would be made right.

Today I started out of the vertigo fog. If I move too fast I get a little dizzy. But I feel so much better. Mind you. I am not ready to clean house nor even to go for a walk. But I can sit up right. And I can blog.

Oh… and I got a salad ever day of the week last week that I actually ate something… and I kept it simple with adding no activity while I was sick. LOL.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chicken Soup


I’ve been fighting with this cold all day and I’m determined to gain the upper hand. To make matters more trying, I’ve been fighting with the wedding mailing list and my computer most of the day as well.


At least I had a relaxing moment with 40 minutes of yoga in the morning… and my super smart hubby saved me from frustration as I tried to merge files and regain lost files… thanks honey!

By the end of the day I was too tired and had lost my voice. I tried to cancel my last lesson and made Chicken Soup. I started throwing stuff in the pot. I wanted something to burn this illness right out of me.

Here is what I wound up with:

Ingredients:

• About 2 pounds of chicken breast

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 3 Tb. Chopped garlic

• 1 T. minced ginger

• 4 stalks celery – diced (reserve one stalk)

• 1 can of chopped green chilies

• 2 medium sized onions – diced

• 3 large carrots – diced (reserve one carrot)

• 2 sweet potatoes, chopped

• 2+ teaspoons salt

• 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

• 1 teaspoon+ red pepper flakes

• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

• 4 tablespoons of FRESH rosemary, minced

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

• 4-6 whole ‘cloves’ of allspice

• 2 large bay leaves – fresh or dried

• 6-8 cups of water

• 2 tablespoons of ‘better than bouillon’ chicken flavored paste (optional)

• 4 stalks of scallions – diced and added at the end.

• 1 cup brown rice (optional & cooked separately near the end)

• chopped fresh parsley or cilantro added at end or to the bowls when serving.

Directions:

• Gather your ingredients and place your large stock pot on your stove or even use your slow cooker.

• Add olive oil to your stock pot (if you are using your slow cooker omit this step and simply add your ingredients to the slow cooker starting with the vegetables first, then add the chicken, then the water and turn it on)

• Remember to reserve one celery stalk, one carrot and all the scallions – you will be adding those last to the soup pot once your chicken has cooked. This keeps them slightly crunchy and adds color.

• Add diced onions, celery and carrots to the mix and turn the heat under pot.

• Allow the vegetables to sweat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

• Add chicken to pot, add all remaining ingredients: garlic, spices, salt and pepper, green chilies, etc. (except for one carrot, one celery stalk, scallions)

• Add water to pot enough to bring the water level to about one inch from the top.

• Allow to come to a boil, then lower heat and allow the soup to simmer for at least 90 minutes.

• Add rice.

• Serve up in bowls to feed your cold and starve your fever!

Variations & Tips:

• You can easily allow this to cook for much longer of course, just remember, the longer you cook the chicken in, it might be a bit ‘drier’ despite it being cooked in the soup.

• Adding additional jalapenos or red pepper flakes at the end will bring up the ‘heat factor’ opening up the most stubborn of stuffed noses.

• Adding a squeeze of lemon juice to the bowl will also up the vitamin C content.

• You can ‘cheat’ with the chicken and buy a pre-cooked roasted chicken, remove meat from bones and ‘start’ the soup with the bones only and adding the meat after 90 minutes. – This is especially helpful for those too weak and need a quick fix of chicken soup. Just be sure not to add any of the skin to the soup.

• By adding the jalapenos, red chili flakes and cayenne pepper in the beginning, the soup takes on a gentle heat mellowing out the spiciness of the jalapenos. I personally like to add more red chili flakes and sliced jalapenos into my bowl just before serving to make it extra spicy – it gets my nose passages to open up so fast, I simply love being able to breath again.

So that is it. My day. Oh… I did get a salad… in a cup. I had a smoothie for breakfast. I decided that counts because it had all the veggies and fruits that I would have had in a salad.

Today I kept it simple be canceling my musical theater class due to losing my voice.

Salad – Day 21 – a salad in a glass… a yummy smoothie

Practice of Simplicity – Day 18 – Cancelled class to gain some health.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I Feel a Cold Coming On


Wear a scarf. Stay out of the cold. Take this. Swallow that. There's so much (mis)information out there about what does and does not cause or help the common cold.


The thing is colds are not deadly, but they are just so completely inconvenient and quite frankly ridiculous--it seems we should have engineered colds out of our lives long ago. What the heck! We have a vaccine for everything else under the sun. But they remain part of our life here on the planet.

Today I feel a cold coming on…. Tired… a little achy… heaviness in the chest… phlegm in the throat…

You know what increases your chances of getting sick (aside from touching a surface and then rubbing your eyes or nose)? Stress. I guess I should admit that I have a little stress about… wedding in 5 weeks and plans running late… teen girl snagging her first boyfriend and to make matters worse his religious values are not the same as our family… teen boy who insists on trying my patience with is never ending bad choices… my regular schedule of seminary, teaching voice and home school… a show that I’m working on the tech for at the high school that opens next week… other church responsibilities… and now, it looks like I’m catching a cold. What stress?

In the interest of fairness, and with germs travelling on all little hands, and under the "I already knew that" column, I present the following Powerful 10 Ways to Fight Off, Prevent, Cure a Cold or Flu: (Please keep in mind that I have no medical training… merely a healthy dose of common sense).

1. Go to sleep. Sleep more. Get more rest. Duh.

2. Eat your veggies. Mom's advice, and hard to take when you are exhausted and a trip to the drive thru could fill your gut simply enough. Suggestion: Make a huge batch of vegetable soup which will last you the duration of the cold. Just warm and serve! I haven’t made a menu for this week.... hmmm…. I see Chicken soup in the future. (smile).

3. Garlic cloves! When I feel a cold coming on, I take garlic. Maybe this week I’ll try something new and roast a whole garlic root (many cloves together) in the oven or even toaster oven. I love garlic! I bet I can find all kinds of things to squeeze them out of their "shell" directly onto… mmmm…. Tasty! Kisses won’t be so pleasant for the receiver, (sorry dear… you will just have to buck up) but with a cold or flu, I shouldn't be kissing, anyway. Right?

4. Hot Bath. Really hot and steamy, for as long as you can stand it, or as long as the water stays really hot. Upon exiting, dry quickly, put on sweats, go to sleep (see #1). Sure wish I had a huge garden tub. What was I thinking when we added onto our house?

5. Take a sick day off from work. (see #1). Seriously! Mom rarely gets to take a sick day. Maybe I just need to schedule one. That will show them. (teeheehee).

6. Breathe!! Breathe deeply as you can, slowly and with consciousness. When I get sick, it is always because I haven't done the things we humans must do to survive: breathe, drink water, sleep, eat good food. Once these four are in balance, so usually is your health. I will be doing some yoga in the morning. Light yoga to get the white blood cells working!

7. Drink! Water is best. Hot or Cold. also: hot tea with lemon and honey, and anything with LOTS of probiotics.

8. I found something new today while I was searching for ideas. I think I’ll give it a try tomorrow… alka seltzer and 7-up, of all things! My last experience with alka seltzer wasn’t too pleasant. However, 7-up is good. I read that the combination of the two is super powerful, but you can't take alka seltzer with anything else, it has to be 7-up. I’ll tell you if it works… If I remember.

9. Thieves Essential Oil from Young Living on the souls of my feet at bedtime. I love oils! If my throat is sore, I'll put it on my throat as well and sometimes, gargle with oil of oregano. I even clean thing with Thieves. Antibacterial hand gels do NOTHING to protect you from the cold (like antibiotics, they're designed to kill bacteria, not viruses), washing your hands is of utmost importance--with plain old soap and water. But I have found that a drop of Thieve in my cleaning spray bottle not only smells good, but helps to halt the spread of germs.

10. Think healthy thoughts. Really. Once you say to yourself, "I feel like I'm getting sick," guess what happens? When I feel a sniffle or sore throat coming on, I tell myself, in a hot steaming shower, breathing deeply, "I am healthy! I am whole! I feel good!" Yes, it's possible to talk yourself out of a cold.



**No, not professional medical advice, and no intent is made as such. Just friendly advice. But you already knew that.

Well… there it is.

It’s been a long busy weekend. However, I successfully eat a salad each day of the weekend. It’s harder to keep things simple since I’ve already committed to so many things. But the good news is, I have not committed to any new projects. There is my contribution to my Practice in Simplicity.

Salad – Day 18, 19, 20 kept it simple with romaine lettuce and honey mustard dressing.

Practice of Simplicity – Day 15, 16, 17 – kept thing simple be refraining from adding to the schedule.

Here’s to a healthy, restful week!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

M&M Confessions and the M&M Diet Plan


Okay...true confession time....I'm an M&M nut! I love M&Ms; they are just such a fun; yummy treat! It is true… they melt in your mouth not in your hands. They are too yummy to stay in your hands too long! They trouble is, M&Ms like my waist too much… such a waste. There has got to be a way to put a positive spin on enjoying these tasty morsel of mayhem.

I saw a funny link this morning about a new weight loss plan...the M&M's diet. *smiles* It made me smile a lot. Finally! A diet plan that will melt in my heart… and my hand. Those chocolate M&M's are always so tempting and yummy. I could so easily go on one of those kinds of diets. lol. Yum!! It doesn't matter what kind...peanut and almond and chocolate...they are all so good! I can never just have one...I have to usually have a whole bag.

Here is just a sample of the M&M Diet Plan:

“One of the reasons that many of these diets have failed for many people is that they feel that they are losing out on eating many of their favorite foods. Our diet used our product to replace these foods psychologically in the minds of the participant."

That’s funny. As if…

So after planning meals of healthy veggies, fruits, grains and lean meats, the plan instructs the follower to:

"… purchase a small bag of M&M's from your local grocer or convenience store. With your diet stipulated breakfast, you also eat one brown and one orange M&M. This will replace, at least in your mind, your coffee, your bacon or sausage, your toast, and your orange juice. These are all items that are brown or orange. The caloric intake from two M&M's is so small that it is insignificant in comparison to the mental and emotional benefits of having your traditional brown and orange foods in the morning."

This is great! I can also meet my goal of getting more colorful foods into my diet.

"For lunch, many of us stop at the local fast food place and grab a hamburger. We miss not having the greasy, fatty, burger and fries when we are forced to eat something that is supposed to be good for us. On the M&M's diet, we replace that hamburger and fries with a brown M&M to represent the bun, the beef, and the fries, a yellow one to represent the mustard, a red one to represent the tomato slice and the ketchup, and a green one to represent the pickle and lettuce. As with the breakfast, four of our candies will not add enough calories to work against the original plans of your diet. They will again, however, appease that hunger tradition of the Big Mac or the Whopper."

Yes! Then think of all the “greens” I can replace. After all… I am trying to up my “greens” in a day to 10-12 servings. This could really make a difference.



"For your supper, on most diets, you are no longer going to get the big steak and potatoes that you love. This is going to give you a feeling of the blues. At this point, you reach into your bag of M&M's and eat three of the blue ones. This conquers that feeling and gives you the quick energy needed to endure your bland, flavorless, "supposed to be good for ya'," meal."

This is great! Don’t you think? They have thought of everything to keep a girl on a diet plan.

In addition to seeing the virtues of a M&M Diet I’ve come up with a great object lesson using M&Ms as the meteor for my life.

1) M&Ms are marked with an M.

Followers of Christ are marked or sealed with the Holy Spirit of God.

2 Corinthians 1:22 “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”

Ephesians 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise…”

But we are also marked for a purpose and focus. We're marked for to serve.

Mosiah 18:8-11 “… as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you? And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.”

I’d like to marked with whatever proves that Christ is the center of my choices.

2) M&Ms come in a variety of colors.

God has created each of us unique in many ways too. We each are uniquely gifted, have different backgrounds, different personalities, etc. and it all comes together like some delicious salad.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”

Think about it, we vary in our colors too: Some are RED - they are red hot and bold, competitive. Some are BLUE - calm, dependable, solid. Some are YELLOW - friendly, positive, creative, encouraging. Some are GREEN - analytical, organized, practical, decisive. Some are ORANGE - assertive, outgoing, assertive. Some are BROWN - warm, inviting, trustworthy, wholesome.

God has his way of blending our background, personality, and spiritual gifts into unique, individual children of His Kingdom! Just as M&Ms are all different looking on the outside with their various colors, so God has created us each unique and different.

3) M&Ms are filled with chocolate - the best part!

We are filled with God's love!

Like an M&Ms, although we may all look different we are all created to be filled. M&Ms are filled with chocolate - yum! We are made to be filled with God's love - even better! Without the chocolate an M&M is just a fragile shell with really no taste. Even so, we, without God's love and mercy, are fragile and empty too.

1 John 4:9-11; 15 16; 19 “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. We love him, because he first loved us.”

Also, because of how M&Ms are made, they are easily shared with others. God's love is made to be shared through sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

So there it is. Now I have to confess that I ate WAY too many M&Ms today and now my gut hurts. Hello! I’m allergic to the milk and soy in them… but they taste so good…

Today was a lovely simple day… some laundry… some chores… some school… some writing… and MORE than some M&Ms. Ah the headache. LOL

I did get a salad and some lovely curry for dinner.

Salad – Day 17 Check. Simple yet effective

Practice of Simplicity – Day 14 Simple pleasures.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Turning the Food Pyramid Upside Down


Every waking minute of every day we are bombarded with mixed messages about what to eat and what not to eat. It is hard to wade through the myriad of “knowledge” that can be found in the big wide world. Fast food, comfort/reward food, snack food, convenience food, fad diet plans with their very own packaged food, junk food with bogus health claims on the package, sugary sodas that will add sparkle to your life, artificial sweeteners to make you thin and happy, even that “all natural” high fructose corn syrup is healthy because it comes from corn.

Up until recently, I believed our own government who had provided us with a food pyramid that urges people to eat as many as 11 servings of bread and cereal every day. That is completely contrary to all my allergies. No wonder I am having such a hard time knowing where to start. I am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I’d like to improve my health and shed some excess fat in the process.

I’ve done some reading on the philosophies of Dr. Fuhrman. His food pyramid is based on the principles of high nutrient eating: Health = Nutrients / Calories (H = N / C). Low-calorie, nutrient dense foods are at the base of the pyramid, and high-calorie, nutrient poor foods are at the top. As nutrient density decreases, the quantity of room in the diet decreases. It makes so much more sense!

The base of the pyramid – the foundation, foods consumed in the highest quantity – should be the foods with the highest ratios of nutrients to calories – these are vegetables. Ninety percent of the daily diet should be made up of nutrient rich plant foods, whose calories are accompanied by health-promoting phytochemicals: green and other non-starchy vegetables; fresh fruits; beans and legumes; raw nuts, seeds, and avocados; starchy vegetables; and whole grains.

Now I’m not claiming to a vegetarian. I do eat animal products. However, I do limit what I consume. Dairy is out due to allergies. Eggs, fish and poultry are next. I treat them more like a condiment. It works for me.

I'm not a nutritionist or doctor, but I have done a ton of reading (if only I could shed a pound for every page I’ve read!) on health and nutrition over the past few years and I am finding what works best for my family and for me in terms of getting and staying healthy. Exercise is amazing for our health for so many reasons but vibrant health and fat loss begins with a healthfully stocked kitchen and the willingness to change the way we eat.

Here is some of what I have learned and what I strive for...

Every meal, every day~

1. Eat lots and lots of colorful vegetables and/or fruit, every meal, every day. Don't shy away from the green leafy veggies. They are wonderful! Nutritional science proves that colorful plant foods contain a huge assortment solid nutrition. Eating an assortment of nutrient-rich natural foods gives me access to these health building blocks and prevent the common diseases.

2. Get protein from of beans or quinoa, fresh eggs, lean meat, fish, or fowl. Remember to keep portions in check. (What's a portion? 1/2 cup for beans, quinoa, up to 4 ounces of meat, pork or chicken, up to 6 ounces for fish depending on the type.)

3. Choose appropriate portions of slow release carbs from whole grains like oats, brown rice and wild rice, spelt, or millet. It’s tough for me to get grains since I’m now allergic to wheat.

4. Choose appropriate portions of healthy fats from avocados, olive oil, virgin coconut oil, flax seeds/oil, (raw) nuts.

5. Drink lots of water.

6. Always read labels if choosing something with a package or wrapper. Know what you are putting into your body.

7. Remember NO wrapper is best!

Limit~

1. White rice, white bread/wraps/pita, white potatoes, traditional semolina pasta. Choose sweet potatoes and low-glycemic or whole grain versions of rice, pasta and grain products.

2. Watch for added sugars (sucrose, dextrin, maltose, fructose, maltodextrin, evaporated cane juice, cane syrup.)

3. Watch for added salt/sodium. Use fresh garlic, hot chilies, herbs and spices to maximize flavor at mealtime.



I missed blogging yesterday. Tuesdays are my busiest day. But I did find time for rebounding (jumping on a mini trampoline) and a colorful salad. I even took a picture… well my husband did it for me and sent it to me so I could post it.



Today I ate a delicious breakfast. My husband and I are working at making breakfast the biggest meal of the day. It’s even the second day in a row we’ve got all the kids up at the crack of stupid for some family time. I gave a massage and cleaned up the house. I ate a salad for lunch and enjoyed some “chillin’” with my friend Jo. I kept life simple by concentrating on home and family. I went to a play rehearsal and kept it simple by making a list of what I can accomplish this week on the set. I came home for some simple exercise of rebounding and a simple dinner of spaghetti sauce and spaghetti squash.

Simply a fantastic day!

Salad - Day 15 and 16 tasty salad with kale, cabbage, tomato, zucchini, yellow peppers, green peppers, grapes, romaine lettuce, carrots


Practice of Simplicity - Day 12 and 13 - sipmle focus on family and friends