Monday, March 29, 2010

Manure Stinks, No matter how You Bag It......

The weekend was so nice, nice days, sunny, warmish.  Friday, not so much.  Friday a colossal dust storm rolled in and planted itself on our town, leaving me with an allergy attack unlike any I've had  in years.  Don't worry about me.  It's nothing that nasal spray and Tylenol-daytime-cold combined can't handle.   This weekend, my husband decided it was time to get the garden in gear.  He started emptying large bags of cow manure compost in the garden, and he said to me "this stuff smells like Karis' diaper pail".  Understatement of the year.  This reminded me that I wanted to share with you just how all that cow manure compost made its way into our fine garden. But I had such a busy week, I had forgotten, until now.

Tuesday, I had to make my usual weekly trip to Safford (an hour away).  And although we usually go together, Tim decided that he and the kids would stay home.  I asked him, being the thoughtful wife that I am *smile* if there was anything he needed at Walmart while I was there.  I wish I had never asked.  He typically asks for simple things like pepsi, or a gallon of water, maybe some popcorn.  Not today.  Today he wanted... 8 bags of.....cow....manure...compost.  My reaction was, I think, a reasonable one. I asked, "Is it going to stink?" He assured me it would only smell like dirt.  My husband is an honest man.  I believed him.  My first mistake.

Tuesday was a day much like today, warm and sunny.  And I was enjoy some time to myself, going to my appointments, doing some grocery shopping, and taking my time.  That was my second mistake.  If I had gotten my "rear in gear" I could have completed my tasks and made it home in time to make dinner, as was my plan.  Instead, I took advantage of the fact that no none was asking me "are we almost done?"

By the time I had all my groceries in the car, a storm had blown in.  It was now 50 degrees, windy, and raining, cold, tiny, stinging rain.  I still had to get the cow manure compost, 8 bags of it.   So I drove my car from the grocery side of the Walmart parking lot, to the gardening side of the parking lot.  (What did you think I was going to carry 8 bags of cow manure compost clear across the parking lot?  Sheesh.  No!)  Mind you, I thought this was going to be an easy task, but I looked all through the gardening section of Walmart, and there was no cow manure compost to be found.  So finally, admitting defeat, I asked an associate for help.

What she told me was only "helpful" in the one sense of the word.  Because the information was not "helpful" at all.  The cow manure compost was located in the outdoor area of the gardening section.  Remember what I said about the current weather?  What would have been helpful would have been something like "how much do you need, let me get it for you."  No such generosity was offered.  In fact, I think she even snickered, knowing what I was about to do.  Determined to fill my husband's request, I headed out into the 50 degree wind and stinging rain, and found the 20 lb bags of garden poop.  They were, of course, in the far corner, and, much to my dismay standing in 4 inches of water.  There was no getting around it, I rolled up my pants and sloshed on in to the mini-lake.  I was wearing my crocs flip flops, thankfully.  And suddenly I recalled a friendly warning from another blogging momma ,that in and around water, these particular shoes had a tendency to turn into surfboards.  Can you see me, as I lifted a 20 lb bag of manure, falling rump over tea kettle on the concrete floor, flat on my back into an ice cold puddle of water, and being showered with 20 lbs of garden poop.  I could see it too.  Don't worry, that didn't happen.  I was careful.  But I did roll up my pants and bravely venture in.

If you have ever bought potting soil, or something like it, you know the bags are more like hair nets than they are bags.  They only keep most of the contents in. Because of the rain, the 20 lb bags of cow poop were now wet, and now smeared with, well, you know.  I needed to heave-ho eight of them into my cart without getting the contents all over myself, yeah right.  Remember my husband promising me they wouldn't stink?  Well, there's no other way to say it.  He was dead wrong.  They stunk.  They were also quite weighty, and required me to hold them against my chest, in my new shirt of course, in order to get them in there.  When I was done, I was covered with, well, you know.  At this point I was thankful for the pond I was standing in, because at least I  had some way to rinse the "compost" off my hands.  I did just that with a hearty splish-splash, and headed back inside to checkout.  At this point the scowl on my face was hard to hide.  I even unintentionally made eye contact with another lady, who I know, thought I was giving her a dirty look.  I paid for my 160 pounds of poop, and headed back out into the elements to the car.     

This process repeated itself from the cart to the car.  There was also an ugly encounter with a large, hairy, black spider.  The problem now was that I had no pond to rinse my hands in and I had mouse-and-hairspray-encrusted-half-wet-sticking-to-my-face-poking-me-in-the-eye hair.  I had to close the hatch, walk back inside, through the garden center, through the pet supplies, past the pharmacy, past the jewelry, and through the cash registers with my soiled hands held out in front of me, just to get to the bathroom, to wash my hands, to get my hair OUT OF MY FACE !! UGH!  ....Deep breath.... I was sure in that moment I would come across some new member or recent visitor to our church, who at that point, would think twice about returning at the looks of me.  That also didn't happen, thankfully.

My hands were clean, my hair was mess, but out of my face.  My shirt was... I zipped up my jacket.  I started out one more time into the rain and wind, to my car, that was on the other side of the planet, thinking the worst was over.  But, what seems obvious now, hadn't occurred to me until this point.  For all my efforts, my reward would be making the one hour drive home with 160 pounds of cow poop as my only companion.

beep-beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep.  "Hi Honey".... "yes I found the cow manure compost"...."Go ahead and put a frozen pizza in for you and the kids, I'm not gonna make it home in time to cook dinner"..."love you too."

There is no universe in which I would cook after all that.

Subway, here I come.

Friday, March 26, 2010

10 Things That Make Me Happy....

A blog I follow, No Greater Gift, posted a challenge to look on the brighter side of things today, and find 10 things that make us happy.  I'm doing just that!  If you are a blogger too, and want to join in the fun, we're going for a free give away here!

10 Things That Make Me Happy...(in no particular order)

1. The way my daughter laughs uncontrollably at every little thing when she gets tired at night.

2.  When my son learns something new and says "now I know everything," and means it!

3.  Coffee.  Iced or Hot, love it!

4.  My husbands shoulders.  In a figurative sense, he carries so much and does it well, without complaining.  In a literal sense, rrrrrrrooowwww!

5.  Sunshine, we've had so much rain.

6.  The pink blossoms on my apricot tree.

7. Tulips, any and all colors!

8.  Dinner out with my family.

9.  Our amazing, loving, and awesome church!

10.  Hearing my son pray.

There you go!  If you read this, please leave me a comment with at least one thing that makes you happy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (at the grocery store)....

As many of you know, I am constantly striving to be healthier, eat better, exercise more, etc etc...  Many people have asked me about my eating plan, especially since my doctor told me to eat more, and it actually has helped me lose weight.  The pace is painfully slow, about 1 lb a week, even with daily workouts, but it's something.  My plan is pretty simple.  I eat 1600 calories a day, high on fiber and protein, low on sugar, fat, and bad carbs (white bread, white rice, potatoes, etc).  When I was eating 1200 calories a day, I wasn't losing anything, for months! So, my doctor told me to go up on my calories.  I thought she was nuts, turns out she was right!  As for exercise, two days a week I do Tae Bo, and three days a week I walk 3 miles, either outside or on my treadmill.  I'll admit that often on the treadmill I poop out at 2 miles, and I don't work out on the weekends.  So flog me, I'm doing what I can.

Today I want to share with you some of my favorite foods.  These allow me to eat more so I can be full and satisfied without breaking the bank.  There are plenty of great diet foods out there that cost an arm and a leg.  Can't do 'em.  There are many low cal recipes that take 15 ingredients and 2 hours to prepare.  Can't do those either. I have to balance nutrition with cost, and time.  A forewarning, many of these foods are more expensive than their generic, unhealthy counterparts, but they are not unreasonably priced, at least in my opinion.  Here we go!

1.  Orowheat (or Arnold in some parts of the country) Sandwich Thins.  These are basically a hamburger bun that's really thin.  I like them because they are pretty big, so you can fit a chicken breast on them easily.  And, they are sturdy and hold up to a burger.  Only 100 calories.  They come in 100% whole wheat, or whole grain.  I honestly don't know which is better for you.  They both taste good.

2.  Vlasic Kosher Dill Stackers.  These taste like the yummy pickles that they put on burgers in restaurants.  I really like the Claussen Kosher pickles that you get in the refrigerated section, but these are much cheaper.  These taste very different, much tangier, but I love them.  There is nothing "diet" about these.  But, put some of these on a sandwich or burger, and the flavor and moistness cause me to have no need for mayo, which is why they are so helpful.

3. Great Value (Walmart Brand) High Fiber Chewy Bars.  Not much to say here, almost nutritionally identical to the Fiber One brand, but much cheaper.  All the yummy goodness of a chocolate chip granola bar, with 35% of the fiber you need in a day.  A great snack that keeps you satisfied for a long time!

4.  Coffee Mate Sugar Free French Vanilla Creamer.  Pretty self explanatory.  Most regular creamers have 40 calories per tablespoon, this only has 15 calories.  It doesn't sound like much, but most people without knowing put 3-4 tablespoons of creamer in their coffee when they don't measure it, yes really.  If you have 2 cups that's a difference between 320 calories and 120, if you use that much.  That's a lot!  This also comes in Hazlenut, and Vanilla Carmel.  Coffee mate usually costs less that International Delight. This isn't quite as sweet as the regular variety, so add a little splenda!

5.  Nature's own Whitewheat bread.  This bread is only 50 calories per slice which is really good, and it has no bleached flower or high fructose corn syrup.  I bought this bread on the recommendation from the book "Eat This, Not That" by David Zinczenko.  Did you know that most wheat breads have molasses in them? That's why they are so dark brown!  This bread is not bright white, but tastes very good.  And, (I love this) one loaf of bread pleases the whole family, healthy eaters or not.  Note: go through the loafs on the shelf and get the freshest one you can.  Since it's all natural, it's won't last quite as long in your cabinet as other breads.  You're good to go for about a week. 

6.  Frozen fruit.  I buy a big bag of frozen mixed fruit that has grapes, strawberries, pineapple, and peaches.  It's 70 calories per cup, and really delicious.  I like to eat it thawed, as a dessert, Or, I'll leave it frozen, microwave it for 20 seconds to soften it slightly, and then put it in the blender for a quick smoothie (I add splenda, and sometimes 1/2 cup apple juice to 2 cups of fruit.)

7.  Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry Herbal tea.  For tea lovers with a sweet tooth, add splenda, yummo!

8.   Cilantro.  If you've never cooked with cilantro, it's time you learned.  Nothing makes Mexican food taste more authentic and delicious, and with no calories, you can't go wrong.  If there's any interest, I'll post my recipes for fresh salsa, and tortilla soup, both of which are guilt free, and depend on cilantro for their full flavor.

9.  Great Value (Walmart Brand) Peach Tea drink mix.  If you can't get off of full calorie drinks, try this.  Everyone who has ever had it at my house loves it.  It's zero calories, caffeine free, and so delicious.  I actually like this better than the Crystal Lite brand.  It has less of a tea flavor, and it costs much less.

10.  Ronzoni Pasta.   I promise you'll never know the difference, but this pasta is so much better for you than the generic white pasta we are all used to.  It's enriched with lots of fiber, calcium and vitamin D.  We still don't eat a lot of pasta, once or twice a month, because I just want to eat myself silly on it, and you just can't do that, no matter how healthy the noodle.  But, if you're a pasta lover like me, you can't go wrong with this product (unless you eat too much!).

Well, there you go, some of my favorite grocery store finds.  Stay tuned for "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things Part II", where we venture beyond the grocery store.

Have a favorite product?   PLEASE share!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"9 Reasons to Go to Church" By Thoedore Roosevelt.

The Assemblies of God USA posted this on Facebook today, from the Pentecostal Evangel (the AG's weekly magazine) from March 9, 1958.  This article by Theodore Roosevelt was of course not written in 1958, he died in 1919.  This was a retro reprint even back in 1958.  I can' find a date for when it was originally written, but this timeless wisdom bares repeating.

It was "Teddy" Roosevelt who said, "If a man is not familiar with the Bible, he has suffered a loss which he had better make all possible haste to correct."  From his writings the following document has emerged:

1. A churchless community, where men have abandoned, scoffed at, or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid downgrade.

2. Church work and church attendance mean the cultivation of the habit of feeling some responsibility for others.

3. There are enough holidays for most of us. Therefore, on Sundays go to church.

4. Yes, I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the
Creator in a grove of trees, or by a running brook, or in one's own
home, just as well as in a church. But I also know as a matter of
cold fact that the average man does not thus worship.

5. One may not hear a good sermon at church.  One will hear a
sermon by a good man who, with his good wife, is engaged all week in
making hard lives a little easier.

6. One will listen to and take part in reading some beautiful passages
from the Bible. If a person is not familiar with the Bible he
has suffered a loss.

7. One will take part in singing some good hymns.

8. One will meet and nod or speak to good, quiet neighbors. He
will come away feeling a little more charitable toward all the world,
even toward those excessively foolish young men who regard church going
as a soft performance.

9. I advocate a mans joining in church work for the sake of showing
his faith by his works.

These are nine good reasons. There are more (including the fact
that the Bible itself commands us not to forsake the assembling of
ourselves together-Hebrews 10 :25). But please notice the last few
words of the ninth point, " . . . showing his faith by his works." It
is Scriptural to say that we demonstrate our faith by our works
(James 2 :18). It is also Scriptural to say that we are saved by our
faith and not by our works (Romans 4:s). Church attendance is an
excellent habit but it cannot take the place of saving faith. Each person
must be converted and experience the New Birth in order to become
a Christian. Therefore, when you go to church be sure it is
a church where the gospel is preached. Believe the gospel, accept
the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, and you will say
with the Psalmist, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go
into the house of the Lord."  (It's not clear whether this last paragraph was written by Roosevelt or the writer from the Pentecostal Evangel, I assume the latter.)

Well said Teddy!  I love this.  Truth, is truth, even 100 years later.

What are your thoughts?  Leave me comment!

Here's my source by the way.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Red Sea Rules...

What a great weekend I had!  We went to PHOENIX!  Phoenix is about a 4 1/2 hour trip (before lunch and 2 potty stops), so we don't go very often, but I love it!  I live in a very rural area (an hour away from the closest Walmart people, ru-ral!).  So, a trip to Phoenix involves many things that I love and usually do without:  restaurants, places to shop, and my parents.  Yes, I love to go to Phoenix.  If you know me, you know my favorite place to shop in the city is Target, and I'll proudly admit that I went to three different Target stores in three days!  Every dollar spot is different right?!  We picked out Easter clothes for the kids and then decided to extend the clothing coordination to the whole family so that we could all look nice for the family portraits that we are getting at the end of April.  Actually the reason I was in and out of so many Target stores was in search of my husband's shirt in the right size.  The 3rd Target was the charm.  Of course, I couldn't find anything to match the family at Target, but I was so blessed to find just the right thing at Lane Bryant.  AND, I had a gift card to buy it!  (Thanks Momo and Papa!)  Whoohoo!  What a good time!

The reason we went to Phoenix this particular weekend was that I had plans to attend a Ministry Wives Breakaway.  This was a short retreat for wives of Assembly of God pastors, which I am!  It was so nice to visit with some old friends, and make some new ones.  Our speaker for this retreat was Kay Dekalb Smith.  She is a Christian singer, speaker, and comedian.  And I have to tell you she was HILarious!  I haven't laughed like that in a very long time.  If you get to a chance to go see her, I highly recommend it.
She has a serious side too, and, in her time with us, gave some great insights into dealing with difficult times. I want to share with you something that she shared with us this weekend.  It is a guide to dealing with hardship based on the book The Red Sea Rules, by Robert J. Morgan.  (copy and paste that address if you are interested in a copy of the book)
When going through trying times, or difficult situations, we often wonder where God is.  Why isn't He listening to our prayers?  He is, He knows, He is there.  God may seem to be so distant, but He is so close.  It may seem like He doesn't care, but He does, even more than you do!!  Take heart that God is still with you, and still working in your life no matter what your circumstances.  The Red Sea Rules can help us take the right attitude to weather the storm.
Here are the Red Sea Rules:
1.  Realize that God means for you to be where you are.

2.  Be more concered for God's glory, than for your relief.

3.  Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.

4.  Pray!

5.  Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work. 

6.  When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.

7.  Envision God's enveloping presence.

8.  Trust God to deliver in His own unique way.

9.  View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.

10.  Don't forget to praise Him!

I love it!  What a fresh, helpful perspective.  The second one is my favorite, don't we all want live our lives to glorify God?  I hope you do.  He loves you and wants, more than anything, to be a part of your life.

Does one of these rules speak to you?  I would love to know.  Leave me a comment (about this, or about Target haha!!)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Mother (But first a disclaimer!)

I'm still new to blogging.  I'm still in the process of figuring out what I want to say, how I want to say it, trying to be interesting, truthful, coherent, and not pretentious.  I have found myself try to cater to different groups of people in my life, and not alienating the others.  For example.  I don't want my Christian friends to think my blog is just all about Down Syndrome.  Likewise, I don't want my fellow DS moms to think that my blog is just a religious rant.  I fear that if I poor out all that's inside of me, some people will think "who does she think she is?" (Especially those who knew me as a silly, foolish teenager, and may still see my that way.  Know what I mean?)  If I take all these thoughts into consideration while writing, the end result is a blog that is about as interesting as low sodium saltine cracker.  These thoughts have been keeping me from blogging much lately.  No longer.  From now on the only thing that will keep me from blogging is either a lack of time, or lack of comprehensible thoughts.  So readers, if what you read on any given day just isn't your "cup of tea,"  fear not, something different is on the way.
On to today...

I've been wanting to tell you all about a little girl that I know, and how she made me realize a that major change had happened inside of me.  Here's the story.
Every day I take Keaton, my 4 year old, to preschool at the local public school.  Every now and then I come across a young girl, with some kind of impairment, who's personal aid is an acquaintance of mine.  (To protect her, I'll call her Janie, and I won't be too specific about her)  Janie walks differently, with her knees turned in.  She's not terribly shy, or outgoing, but when we talk, she often wants to show me her favorite little toy, and share it with Karis (when Karis is with me).  She doesn't really have a speech impediment, she just talks, well, differently that we do.  I don't know what her diagnosis is, It's none of my business.  But one day when Karis and I stopped to talk to her, and her aid, a thought occurred to me.  There is no way I would have done this 2 years ago.

In my pre-Karis days, I was one of those people who was very uncomfortable around people with disabilities.  I was afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, constantly in fear that I would hurt their feelings or embarrass them, or myself!  I just didn't know what the rules were, and I was certain I would break 10 of them.  So I stayed away.  I went down the other isle at Walmart so I wouldn't be engaged in conversation.  I walked and waved, if they were with someone I knew.  If they were in the living room, I was in the kitchen. (I'm so sorry friends, it's true.)  I am embarrassed and filled with remorse over this, now.

On that day (that I was talking to Janie), I pondered why this change in me had occurred.  Why am I suddenly at ease in this situation?  It had to be more than just the fact that I had a baby with Down Syndrome.  Karis seemed just like any other baby for the most part.  It was something else.  Eventually the answer came to me, and even though these reasons seem obvious, they eluded me at the time.  Here we go...

1.  People like Janie never meant to make me uncomfortable.  They were just always going about their days, like I was, being themselves, acting normal.  The ones in Walmart probably didn't even notice me.  They certainly didn't have an agenda to try to embarass me.
2.  They aren't "the way they are" on purpose.  Let's face it, some people with disabilities can act differently than those who don't.  It's not right or wrong, it's just who God made them to be, and that's ok.  They aren't like obnoxious teenagers who go around raising a rucus just to get attention or to get a rise out of people.  (Please don't be offended at the comparison, I'm just trying to make a point).
3.  The rules I was afraid of breaking don't exist.  People with disabilities, and their families, are among the nicest, most accepting, and easy to talk to people you'll ever know.  You can talk to them if you want to.  But you don't have to.  They have been where you are, and are sensitive to the fact that you might be uncomfortable.  As long as you have a basic grasp of manners and tact, you aren't going to say the wrong thing, trust me.
4.  My final observation that should have been obvious was as follows.  Janie has a mom.  I have seen her in the parking lot.  And Janie's mom, I assume, didn't want this for her daughter.  Janie's mom probably cried when she heard the news, just like I did with Karis.  But Janie's mom loves her and is proud of her and all that she has accomplished.  I saw Janie, like I see Karis, through the eyes of a mother.

All of these thing have changed the way I feel about people with disabilities, and how I treat them.   Now, I want to show them love, and compassion, and patience.  I want to know them, and be their friend.  Because now I know that, just like my sweet little Karis, they are absolutely wonderful.

So don't worry folks.  There's nothing to be tense about.  You don't need to ponder the "Do I look, or not look, I don't want to stare, but I don't want to ignore."   Do either, we probably won't notice.  Ok, don't stare, that goes back to the basic grasp of manners and tact.  But just know that we aren't waiting for you to mess up.  I guess what I am saying is that when you come in contact with someone with a disablity, think about the 4 points I made today, and most of all, RELAX!

Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear from you!!!