Wednesday, April 28

As If I Needed More Proof That We're Sisters :)

After the hustle and bustle of getting everyone out the door this morning, I thought about how much I love our mornings together...except for the leaving part, of course.

I feel so honored to have such a husband who every morning tells me how much he loves me (apparently, he's not looking at my hair or flannel pjs at that moment...) And even though the kids can be a bit hard to drag out of bed and/or the shower, I know I'm going to miss all the craziness so much in the years to come. (I can't even bring myself to end that sentence with 'when they're gone'.)

In the moments when I allow myself to think about the time when the kids have moved away, I feel so lost. What will I do? I mean really, how will I get out of bed? I always come to the same conclusion...nothing will ever fulfill me like the busyness of mothering. I'll have to set my sights on other things to fill my hours and I hope they will always need me to do something for them. I suppose, though, that seeing the kids happily chasing their own dreams will plug the holes in my heart so I don't weep forever.

So, after I got over my little teary moments of panic, I read my sister's blog and found this. And, then, my sister-in-law's and read this which totally proves my point. Oh, great. It's just gonna be one of those half-a-box of tissues kind of days, huh? :)

Tuesday, April 27

Raw Dairy
















Saturday, I picked up our order from the dairy CSA we just joined. The membership commitment is only for milk but I also ordered raw milk butter, raw milk cheddar and lard.

The milk is so delicious. The kids love it because 'it tastes like melted ice cream'. I got more than a pint of cream from a gallon of milk. I couldn't find any organic berries at the store yesterday, so I'll probably just use it to make some butter. I promised the kids I'd make granola bars and cookies today, so I'll have already-softened butter for those!

I've never used lard before but, as a traditional fat, it's something I've been reading more about lately. I used it in my buttermilk biscuits. I'm not sure I've ever tasted anything more 'southern' but, all in all, I'm not sure that I won't go back to butter. The taste was a bit heavy for me. Guess I'll give it another shot and take a vote. :)

Monday, April 26

Motivation Monday - 13

Ready for tank tops? This week, it's all about the arms.

Week 13
Three sets each of the following:

Downdog shoulder press - 15
Fly -15
Lateral tricep pushup - 15 each side
Jumping jack with 2-3# weights in hand - 20
Dip - 25
Lateral raise - 30

Friday, April 23

Real Milk

At l-o-n-g last, I have found a source from which I can regularly purchase raw milk. My first delivery is tomorrow!!!

I have been interested in real milk for over a year. We've purchased it once in hopes that that source could be a regular one but it didn't work out. Let me just tell you, though, that was the BEST tasting milk!! (And I haven't been a milk-drinker in years.)

There is also evidence, both anecdotal and from the medical community (most notably the Mayo clinic), that consumption of raw milk can relive asthmatics of their symptoms. I won't say 'cure' because symptoms can return upon cessation of drinking real milk. Our son has asthma which is very well-controlled by two maintenance medications but I really don't like the Western medicine option especially when there is something else I can try. Thankfully, he is old enough to understand what and why we're trying this and can communicate how he feels during the transition.

There are two legal ways to buy raw milk in Tennessee. One is to buy 'pet milk' which is labeled 'For pet use only. Not for human consumption'. The other is to purchase a share in a farmer's cow, pay him to milk it and receive milk from 'your' cow. Neither one is complicated on the surface but farmers are busy and, of course, not near the city. So, most of the meet-up points are an hour or more away. Many join co-ops where members take turns driving to pick up milk for the group.

Until now, I just haven't found a co-op or source that I could commit to and didn't have a months-long waiting list. The best option was to drive two hours every Thursday after school. In theory, it's worth that to get my son off these drugs but, in reality, that would be hard on both the kids and me.

Earlier this week, I looked at my options with fresh eyes and discovered something I missed before -- a dairy that delivers to 'host homes' one of which is about 15 minutes away. Woohooo!!

During the ordering process, I asked about the cream content and was told it's about 25% right now. WOW! Yay for spring milk!!

Pardon me while I daydream of homemade butter, buttermilk, fresh berries and cream....

A Quick Read

If you're interested in weight loss, I highly recommend this article from the New York Times. It explains well how diet and exercise do (and don't) work together to achieve weight loss, particularly for women.

Thursday, April 22

Klean Kanteen

In celebration of Earth Day, Klean Kanteen is offering a 25% discount on brushed stainless, non-insulated bottles. We love ours! Use discount code KKEARTH at checkout.

Wednesday, April 21

Kefir

I have kefir grains available if any local (Middle TN) readers are interested in making this wonderful beverage.
I really can't say enough about the benefits. I drink a small glass at night mixed 1:1 with grape juice. It has helped me fall asleep faster which was the reason I tried it in the first place, but I have also noticed that my complexion has improved. Who doesn't love that? :)

The Writing of Michael Pollan

In many social situations, I find myself talking about food. It happened several times in Vegas this past weekend. For those that know me, they know it's something I'm passionate about. For those I meet, I'm not always sure how it comes up. Maybe it's because my husband and I look younger than our years or that we maintain healthy body weights or that we just obviously feel good but when people ask, we broach the food subject gently by sharing our catalysts for change.

As I've stated before, my food journey has been a long one. I was making stealth changes in what foods came into our home as my dear husband remained a disinterested skeptic for what seemed like forever. That is, until he read The Omnivore's Dilemma  and An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan.

If you've seen Food, Inc. (which I highly recommend), you are familiar with Michael Pollan's take on our society's food supply. As is to be expected with films, Food, Inc. only scratches the surface of the knowledge found in the books.

'Omnivore's' traces four meals from the earth to the plate. The industrial conventional (McDonald's), the industrial organic (what you find at Whole Foods), the so-called beyond organic (local, sustainably farmed) and the hunter-gatherer (a meal comprised of only what the author grew, gathered and killed himself).



'Manifesto' was a response to the many people who read 'Omnivore's' and wrote to Pollan asking what exactly they should be eating. It's a very simple suggestion -- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Before you say, 'Well, duh!' Zero in on the first sentence and ask yourself, 'What is food?' Sadly, there is precious little to be found on our country's overstuffed supermarket shelves.



So, if you're interested in beginning your journey to eating real, vital food, these books are a good place to start. Let me know what you think!

Monday, April 19

Motivation Monday - 12

Week 12

I was out-of-town over the weekend so I thought I'd share my hotel room workout.

With no rest between sets, do the following...

20 deep squats (moderate tempo to warm up)
8 single-leg squats (each side)
15 pushups
15 lunges (each leg, not alternating)
15 pushups (can be incline pushups -- use a chair pushed against the wall)
15 lunges
15 pushups
15 side lunges
15 pushups
15 side lunges
15 pushups
15 single-leg deadlifts, slow (each leg, not alternating)
15 dips (fast tempo)
15 single-leg deadlifts
15 dips
20 squats
50 lateral raises (each side, fast tempo. All I had for a weight was a one liter bottle of water.)
20 squats
50 lateral raises

Wednesday, April 14

Homemade Baking Powder (and other cooking substitutions)

Google sure makes cooking easier! This baking powder "recipe" saved my chocolate chip waffle breakfast for the kids this morning. :)

Baking Powder
1 t baking soda
2 t cream of tartar

Mix and use. (If you want to make some to have on hand, add 1 t cornstarch to keep moisture away.)


I also used this recipe to make cream of chicken soup for a casserole tonight. Very easy and much healthier than the canned stuff.

Here's a great resource for other substitutions, too.

Monday, April 12

Motivation Monday - 11

Week 11


Drill down time! Just three exercises this week. Here's the deal:

Crunches - 15 reps, 15 seconds rest, 14 reps, 14 seconds rest and so on down to 1 rep, 1 second rest.
Move right along to:
Squats - Follow the same pattern beginning with 15 reps
Then:
Pushups -  Begin with 12 reps

Go on and give it a shot! You'll be glad you did it...when it's over. :)

Friday, April 9

The 'Mommy, Look!' Vase


If you're a mom, you've probably heard those words as one of your kids comes running at you with a fistful of wildflowers and the world's proudest expression on his/her face. It's sweet moment all the way around but we mothers know a broken heart is on the way when the flowers quickly wilt and die despite  our best efforts to prop them attractively in a small cup or the like.

I have been doing a lot of reading lately about repurposing and upcycling which Wikipedia defines as "the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value". 


There are some really creative people out there and I've been hoping their inspired vision will rub off on me. Finally, it did. Only in a small way, but I gotta start somewhere!

Pictured below is what I consider the perfect "Mommy" vase. It's just a spice jar with the plastic strainer-kind-of-thingy left on. This serves as the perfect frog for small flowers and holds their delicate stems up so it resembles a larger, 'real' arrangement. T was so proud when I showed her and some of the flowers have kept for a few days.

So, while I always reuse spice jars for spices from the bulk bins, I'll keep one on hand for these precious, open-hearted gifts.

Thursday, April 8

Kerry

I laid Kerry to rest today.

Most of this post is pretty raw. That's just where I am right now so skip it if you want but let me first share with you the story of Kerry.

After we moved to our house about ten years ago, we noticed field mice visiting our basement. It was a newly constructed house in the woods so their presence wasn't shocking but not welcome either. Apparently, they thought is was a 'if-you-build-it,-we-will-come' arrangement.
A friend of my parents had some kittens and we took two. We decided to let each of the kids name one. (T wasn't born yet.) As they struggled to choose, I advised them to name their cat after something that they loved, something that was their favorite. S, 5, choose Ernie after the Sesame Street character, then E, 3, piped up with 'Carrie!'
Carrie was my brother's then-girlfriend. (Now, wife and mother of their three - almost! - kids.) Now, we all completely adored her and were thrilled by the joy she had brought to Lance's life. But, to E, Carrie was a rock star. So when I said the word 'favorite', it was no surprise to me that she thought of Carrie. 
Carrie, on the other hand, was probably less than thrilled at the prospect of having a cat (and male at that) named after her. Little did she know that that was one of the least weird things about our family but she became one of us anyway. :)  I told E we'd spell his name Kerry since that was the boy version.
The funny thing about Kerry and Ernie is that, to be brothers, they look nothing alike. Kerry was black and sleek - always. He never looked like an outdoor cat. Ernie, on the other hand, has light stripes and looks perpetually startled. He's more hair than cat and I'm not sure he looks different when bristled. 
While Ernie is the cool, unflappable one, Kerry was the sweetheart. When he'd come up to us, all we had to do was say, "Hi, Kerry!" and he'd start his loud purring while entwining himself in our legs.
What I keep telling myself is that he lived a good life. He lived the life God created cats to have...outside, climbing trees, chasing mice and birds and lots of warm, loving little hands when he wanted them.

Back to today...
After I posted yesterday, the vet called to let us know that he had a diaphragmatic hernia. He gave us the options and the night to think about it.

In the end, what it really came down to was the chances of a full recovery. He's an outdoor cat and always has been. I don't think he would transition well to an indoor life after so many years of outside freedom and fun. Plus, we have two asthmatics in our house so bringing him inside couldn't work anyway.

C and I decided yesterday that I should tell the kids right after school. I wanted them to have time to sort through their feelings a bit before bedtime. The actual breaking of the news, though, was one of the hardest things I've had to do in my years of motherhood. Their reactions ran the gamut of what you'd expect. Having three kids and only two arms left me continually at a loss.

This morning, no one mentioned it and I suppose that was best. After taking the kids to school, C and I came back. He dug a hole and I made an appointment.

At the vet's office, I was immediately a mess. I'm not a crier and I'm really not a public crier. Not this time. It was those big, gasping sobs. Not loud but hard to hide, you know? I paid first so I could just split when it was over.

When they brought Kerry in, I started changing my mind. Did he really seem better or was it just me wishing so much? Knowing I was choosing to end a life left me absolutely breathless. I felt like I was in a very small box. He went quickly and quietly. I wrapped him in a clean towel and carried him out.

If his life had ended as the result of someone else's accident, I could deal with this better. But it was me. I wasn't backing out fast, I wasn't careless but what did that really matter anyway? The end was the same. A beautiful, sweet creature is gone and I've a houseful of broken hearts to try to piece together. Not much I can do about the former, so on to the latter...I think I'll go take the kids out of school early and buy them some ice cream.

Wednesday, April 7

Why I Was UN-Motivated On Monday...

...I ran over one of our cats. The kids were out of school so we headed out to a movie. As I started backing out of the garage, our Shepard startled Kerry (the cat) who ran behind me toward the garage. I felt just awful. I thought he was dead at first but then he started moving and even got up and walked (sort of) into the garage. I grabbed a flat plastic tote and Sam got clean towels from the dryer. Off to the vet we went.

It was so hard to stay composed enough to drive. The kids were quietly sobbing in the back. I felt like the worst mom ever. At the vet's office, they waited in the waiting area while I talked to the doctor. I kept peeking out at them and my heart broke more every time. 

The doctor was so very kind in giving me options and explaining the possible costs. I'll just be blunt and say that I am not a person who will go to any lengths (financial or otherwise) to keep an animal alive. I never want any creature to suffer and do not consider any life disposable (okay, okay, maybe big spiders who find their way inside) but that's just the way I am.

At first, I told the doctor that I wanted to have Kerry put to sleep. He looked so unlike himself and I was a sniffling mess. All I could think of is how pitiful he looked. However, when the doctor left the room, I had a moment of clarity and realized that I really wanted was for the pain to stop...for the cat, for the kids and, yes, for me. It occurred to me that the pain would stop for Kerry but would be with the rest of us for a long, long time so I wasn't really sparing anyone anything. After the vet came back in and I asked what we could do to give him some time (without pain) and what it would cost, I changed my mind.

So Kerry got a nice dose of pain medication, steroids and antibiotics and we left. I knew I had made the right decision when, just a couple miles down the road, the kids were humming and talking again. We had hope which, at that moment, was more than enough...

As of today, he's a little better. He doesn't have any broken bones, his lungs are fine, etc. but he's not eating or drinking on his own. We have decided to let him stay until Friday to see if his lethargy is due to just being really, really sore. 

CSA Delivery #10 - Last One!


There's nothing like getting boxes of farm-fresh food to brighten my day. This, the last delivery of the winter season, was something I'd been looking forward to. Why? Well, last week's email from the farm mentioned sweet potatoes and greens, so I've been craving them ever since. Especially those sweet potatoes...yum!!

In our boxes, we got...
Chicken breasts, beef - chuck steaks, top sirloin, pork - chops, blade steaks, bacon; eggs, whole wheat bread, whole wheat fettucini, green beans, corn, stewed tomatoes, corn, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, brownies, coconut and molassas cookies, french bread and, last but not least, the aforementioned rapini and sweet potatoes.

I'm cooking my last four quarts of tomatoes for sauce for spaghetti and lasagna which will have the rapini in it. We'll butter up that french bread real nice and sit down to share the news of the day! :)

The Summer CSA program starts May 2nd. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 6

My apologies, dear readers, as I am in a blogging slump. Lots to write about but no time to do it...I'll get back to it as soon as I can!

Thursday, April 1

Ding, Ding, Ding! We Have A Winner!!

I must give a shout-out to my friend, Tabatha, who set a goal for March mileage and MET IT!!! Girl, you are awesome!!! She's not stopping either. She's increased her goal for April. I have no doubt she'll make it.

In other news, I failed to meet my own goal. When I set out to run 80 miles this month, I didn't consider two very important factors. First, the week my kids were on spring break and the ten days that Julie was out of the country. No partner, no trail runs. It's just not a good idea. We ran nearly 50, though, and I'm happy for that.

As long as God keeps blessing me with health and ability, I'll keep trying! :)