Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A day in the life: puke & possum

WARNING: If you are getting ready to eat, wait. If you are a community puker, be prepared because this is all about PUKE!
As soon as they give birth to their first children, most moms are baptized into the religion of bodily fluids, smells and other gross things humans do.
This isn’t a personal choice. It’s not something anybody wants or enjoys. It’s just a fact of life. A fact moms cannot avoid.
We moms spend the next 18 years of a child’s life learning to cope with these unpleasant things the little (and then bigger) creatures do.
One thing I’ve come to accept as a mom of four children is that my “new” role means I’m gonna clean up A LOT of puke!
Gone are the days when I can use the excuse, “Sorry, I’m a community puker.”
All kids want is Mom when they are sick. And when one is sick at my house, more times than not, everybody gets sick.
So, I’ve had to learn a few tricks to stay afloat when the puke flood hits the farm.
First off (and possibly the most important tip), I rarely (if ever) breathe through my nose — sickness or not. To me, it’s just a common sense part of motherhood and is absolutely essential if you want to make it out of a pukefest alive (or at least with your lunch).
When the first short person erupts, I go into survival mode. I make sure I keep all the laundry and dishes cleaned up. Lysol cans are strategically placed. Puke buckets (each puker gets his or her own) and bleach are lined up ready to go into battle. Gatorade and saltines stocked.
Bring on the sickness! Mom is ready (or not).
During one bout with the pukes, Matt had one kid in the bathroom getting sick. I had the other three sitting on the bottom of the stairs (waiting for the bathroom) passing the bucket among them. The flu is a good time to practice sharing!
Life with four kids sure can be fun. Especially during sickness.
Each child of mine has a very distinct personality. How they get sick is no different.
Kadence (the tallest) reminds me of a scene from “The Exorcist.” There’s screaming and flailing and a giant mess.
Rylan (the second tallest) is my best puker — by FAR. Just send him upstairs with a bucket and he’ll re-emerge periodically for a fresh one.
Bella and Masen (my babies) are both pretty easy-going when it comes to sickness. The first time Mae Mae had the flu, he puked all night. Never woke up once.
Bella doesn’t seem to mind getting sick, and she gives plenty of warning.
One thing I had never experienced was having the stomach flu, taking care of another sick child and then being in charge of three healthy other young children all at the same time.
I can say with absolute certainty, there’s not much worse.
This was the exact situation I found myself in a few Mondays ago. I took up residence on the couch while the other three (one was sick with me) ran wild. I only got up to clean up the other child’s sickness, and by the end of the day, the house looked like it.
One of my trips to clean out a bucket at the outside spigot brought me too close for comfort with an opossum.
Was I hallucinating? Nope, Patrick Star (resident feline) saw the slithering rodent, too.
And, of course, the durn chicken house was all open still. Do ’possums eat chicken? I didn’t know. (I know now they don’t.)
So, I made a call to my dad to warn him that if I’m not heard from again to put in my obituary: “death by ’possum.”
He laughed. I was serious.
I made my way through the night armed with a shovel to close up the poor, vulnerable chickens. Right as I entered the coop there was a rustle in the shadows.
My heart stopped as I prepared to defend myself in my puke-weakened state.
“Deep breaths, Ginia,” I consoled myself.
And then the shadowed attacker meowed.
I closed up the birds and retreated back to the house a survivor, in more ways the one.

Eater-outer-aholic asks for help

I love to eat out. I love almost everything about it.
I love the whole family hopping into the car to go pick up already prepared food in disposable containers that we will be able to consume all together on the living room floor.
I love the satisfaction of walking through my spotless kitchen with my “dishes” and throwing them straight into the trash.
I know. I know. I’m shaking my head typing these words. But please don’t judge me. Believe me, I judge me enough for the both of us.
There is nobody on this planet who knows better than I how awful-indulgent-wasteful-unhealthy-expensive this love of eating out is.
So, the first step in fixing a problem is admitting said problem, right?
OK, so here (reluctantly) it goes.
Hello. My name is Ginia and I am an eater-outer-aholic.
There, now I’ve said that I do have a problem (not that I am necessarily fully committed to changing).
Next step is to take a step to make it better. To stop the addiction. To get off my lazy tail and get into the kitchen and prepare some real food. Maybe even some food from our own farm. What a novel idea?
We already grow stuff, why don’t we just eat some of it?
I would love to be 100 percent self-sufficient (food-wise, at least). That’s a little far-fetched, especially in this day and age. Or is it?
Is it possible that the six of us mostly — if not totally — could eat only what we produce?
We have chickens and cows, and we plant a garden. That’s a pretty good start.
My cousin milks her own goats, and that supplies the family with the white stuff. (I already know about the risks of unpasteurized dairy. No need to enlighten me further.)
Our world really would change (for the better?) if my family and I took to the ground to produce food for our table along with greens for our bank account.
Hmmmm ...
And the reason I am literally forcing my fingers to type out this confession is this: I NEED HELP. I don’t want help, but I know I need it.
So, here goes ... For the next month (starting right now), we are not going to eat out.
Disclaimer: If somebody invites one or all of us out to eat, and they are willing to pay, that does not count in this month-long challenge.
I will report back on how it goes. How proud I am of my success and how much better I feel and how much more money we have.
(Talking myself into this ...)
I am not above asking you for help. I want (at least I think I want) to change.
As much as I am counting on myself, I am also counting on you. Every time I want to send Matt to pick up something in a to-go container, I am going to imagine you spies out there watching ... And, hopefully, that will be enough to keep us at home during meal times.
Gonna use that ugly thing called pride against myself as motivation.
This not-eating-out thing will be good for us — in body and in pocketbook.
Ready ... set ... eat (at home)!

This is what it's all about

I am almost obsessed with the Amish. And not like a fan club member or anything, but I am fascinated with the culture. The peace. The simplicity.
They are — as a whole —some of the most efficient, hard workers around. Unlike most Americans, they do their best to NOT keep up with the Joneses and mostly do the opposite of what everybody else is doing.
What strength. What faith.
I do not agree with their theology, at least some important parts, but I think they have the key to what we (the rest of us) are so desperately seeking.
Peace. Freedom. Kindness. Joy.
This time of year I find we are all so focused on getting it all and getting it all done that we are missing out on the simplicity of the season.
The reason for the season is not to get everybody the best present we can afford, send out a gazzillion cards to people we don’t really ever talk to, have the house decked out just so and cram as many family/social gatherings into the last half of December as humanly possible.
The reason is simple.
I wonder if I kept my home and my life as focused and driven as my Amish neighbors if it would be easier to settle down and get into the spirit of this special holiday.
See, I know (in my head) the reason for the season, but my body sure doesn’t act like it. I, like everybody else, get wrapped up in it all, all the worldly expectations that were forced onto this holiday to distract us from what God really wants us to celebrate.
I believe the real reason all the government buildings are closed on Dec. 25 of every year began a few thousand years ago in a simple barn. Very unimpressive in appearance. Very unlike how the world thought a king’s birth should look. So different. So simple. So peaceful.
On that first Christmas, our Lord sent us His one and only son, Jesus Christ, to earth — His Word in the flesh — to live a perfect life and then die. When He died, Jesus took the sin of this world down with him.
This act proves the love God has for us and His desire for good and peace in our lives. Who do you know who would sacrifice — kill —their only child for somebody else, let alone somebody who was a bad person.
I know I wouldn’t.
But God did.
And when His Son rose from the dead, the sting of death was no longer there.
But hope was. And the promise of peace — peace on earth and forever — is available to all who just accept the gift. The first gift on the first Christmas was Jesus.
God gave Him to you so you wouldn’t have to suffer with the expectations of this world.
He gave Him to you so you wouldn’t have to worry, and so you would know what is important in life and what is not.
God gave you Jesus so you can live and not die.
Christmastime is not all about Santa Claus. Or pretty lights and decor. Or Christmas trees.
It is about the birth of our Savior.
And there is no better gift.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fast-food fast update

Hello out there world. All you who are busy waiting in drive-thrus prepping your chomps to indulge in greasy "goodness." This is day 14 for me without fast-food (day 11 of the actual challenge), and I would have to say life is good. Life is very good.
I've got more money in my pocket than I would have if it wasn't for this challenge, AS WELL as a little more room in my jeans. What could be better?
Well, if I could kick this hankering for cashew chicken and hot wings, I would be tempted to call my current situation perfect. So unless this 30-day challenge doesn't cure that thirst, perfection will just have to wait.
I've been cooking A LOT. Here's a sampling of what we've had:
Honey glazed ham, mac & cheese and green beans
Homemade pepperoni and cheese pizza
Gooey oven-warmed sandwiches and pasta salad
BBQ roast beef sandwiches and brussels sprouts

Tonight, I'm serving up Boston Fish Chowder. Here's the recipe:
Fry up 3 slices of bacon. Remove from grease and crumble. Save for later. In the drippings, cook 1/2 cup celery, a chopped onion and 1 clove chopped garlic, until tender. Add 1/4 cup flour. Gradually add 4 cups water and 2 T. instant chicken bouillon (or six cubes). Stir until smooth and well-blended. Bring to a boil. Add 1-1/2 cups cubed potatoes. Reduce heat. Cook 10 minutes. Stir in 1 lb. white fish (cut into bite-size pieces). Cook 15 more minutes. Add 2 cups (1 pint) light cream. Garnish with bacon.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Not eating out challenge

Hello out there. Today marks Day 6 of my "DO NOT EAT OUT CHALLENGE." And boy have I been struggling.
I didn't really realize how addicted I was to the convenience of take-out food. I didn't realize how much my BODY was addicted to whatever the heck it is they put into that junk. And, like a junkie who is trying to quit, I have been having withdrawals. No headaches or physical pain, but I have been very anxious.
Since not allowing myself to eat out (unless it's on somebody else's dime — hey, I'm no fool), I can think of little else. Every time a meal rolls around I am forced to get off my tail and get into the kitchen and cook something. Anything. As long as it's not in a to-go container. I'll tell you what it is, it's pressure! I've got a husband and four children (oh yeah, and me) and that's A LOT of food. A lot of personalities to appease. A lot of dishes. A lot of everything.
New Year's Eve was my first real test. My heart's desire was hot wings from our local pizza place. I not only craved them, I longed for them with more fervor than most things.
I even contemplated breaking my rules. But, thankfully, my hubs saved the day. He simply told me he wasn't going to town (and he knew I would never go in). So that was that.
Instead, I watched the movie about that guy who ate nothing but McDonalds for 30 days. That did it. Craving gone. (For the night.)
The next morning was Saturday. We ALWAYS eat Bud's Donuts on Saturday mornings. But we didn't. Ate at home.
Lunchtime brought some interesting news (from the scales). I noticed my sweatpants were a little extra saggy, so I decided to take a step on the scale. The numbers not only surprised me, they shocked me. I had lost a few pounds! Now, THAT is motivation.
Side note: We didn't eat out every meal. Some weeks more than others, but on average, we ate out once a week. Still way too much when there's six of us.
Now it's Monday. Haven't tasted fast food since last Sunday (even though the challenge didn't officially begin until Wednesday). My face looks a little less teenage-boyish, my pants fit better and I can tell you we have more money. (as of now) My kitchen is clean and dishes are done.
And I feel good. Like I've accomplished something. Like I actually may be able to break this habit, addiction, stronghold that is the fast food industry.
I don't usually blog in the contemporary since, but I am going to attempt to document this 30-day journey. Keep checking back. I may even post some menus and recipes.
Got any time-saving tips? I can always use them. Email me at newspaperlady@gmail.com.
God bless you!