Life or Something Like It

Good Information from Make School Community

Good Information from Make School Community

Photo by Jumana Dakkur on Pexels.com

I received this email from Komal Desai at admissions@makeschool.com.  There is some Good Information from Make School Community.  This is a very difficult time we are living in and I want to make sure that resources are available.  I do not want to be a part of the problem, I want to be a part of the solution.  Here I am, listening, learning, and advocating.  In all honesty, my son (from Ethiopia) deserves to be able to walk down any street and be safe.

Thoughts

First, Black Lives Matter!  Second, EDUCATE yourself.  Ask questions and be willing to learn and adapt your thinking.  I found myself tagging things with the hashtag of All Lives Matter.  Then, a sweet friend taught me what that phrase means to her, as a black woman who LOVES Jesus.  This meme led me to reach out to her, in love, and ask her to educate me.  She did and I’m so thankful.  Now, I get it!  I’m so thankful she didn’t see me as disrespectful but willing to learn more.  Also, she is willing to answer my questions.  In raising my beautiful black son, I want him to be proud of his skin, proud of the country he was born in, proud of the country he is raised in, and safe.  I want my child to be safe, all the days of his life.  Third, support black-owned companies and businesses.

Good Information from Make School Community

Good Information from Make School Community

We (at Make School Community) have been following the protests uniting our country over the last week. The bravery among all those fighting for black lives is inspiring. We demand justice for George Floyd, justice for all the innocent men and women killed by the police, and support the calls for our government to take concrete action towards ending police brutality against the black community in America.

Make School exists to provide avenues of upward mobility for students of all backgrounds, especially those underrepresented in the tech industry. We cannot achieve our mission if we do not do our part to dismantle the systemic racism that affects so many in our community.

To start, it is time to listen and learn. We are learning from the following resources on the history of racism in the United States and how best to be an ally:

List of resources to help you support the black community:

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Chicken Alfredo Soup

 

I am NOT a Failure

Business Side of Life

Swimming Pool Safety Tips for Parents and Kids

Swimming Pool Safety Tips for Parents and Kids
Photo by Juan Salamanca on Pexels.com

Swimming Pool Safety Tips for Parents and Kids

Backyard swimming pools are the pinnacle of summer fun.

They’re also deadly.

While fatal pool drownings are on the decline, more than 350 children still die in swimming pools every year. It only takes a second for a child to slip away and into danger, which is why it’s so important that families practice pool safety.

If you have a backyard pool, here’s what you need to know about enjoying it safely.

Securing a Backyard Pool

When buying a home with a swimming pool or installing a new pool, take these steps to make it kid-safe:

  • Install pool fencing at least four feet high with self-latching and childproof gates.
  • Pool safety covers are another option. Safety covers are designed to support a person’s weight and are different from normal pool covers.
  • Use pool alarms for added safety. There are several types of pool alarms available.
  • Keep swimming pools in good repair. In addition to leaks and cracks, some pools can collapse from damage.

Swimming Skills for Kids

Children are safer when they know how to swim. Here’s what parents need to know about teaching kids swimming skills:

  • Kids are ready to start swimming lessons around age four or five, experts suggest.
  • Swimming skills every child should have include getting in and out safely, turning around, floating, and breathing.
  • Children should also learn how to tread water and swim moderate distances.

Pool Safety Rules for Parents and Kids

No matter a child’s swimming ability, there are some rules every family should follow when it comes to backyard pools:

  • Even strong swimmers shouldn’t swim alone. Always supervise children in and around water.
  • Don’t treat floatable toys as safety devices. Instead, use life jackets for inexperienced swimmers.
  • Keep pool toys out of sight when not in use so children aren’t tempted to enter the pool area.

What to Do in a Swimming Emergency

Finally, parents should understand what to do in a swimming pool emergency. Here’s how to respond if your child has an accident in your backyard pool:

  • Learn how to recognize the signs of drowning.
  • Know how to safely rescue a drowning person without putting yourself in danger.
  • All parents should know how to perform CPR. A variety of organizations offer CPR training.
  • Always seek medical help after a swimming accident to prevent dry drowning and other complications.

Swimming may seem like harmless summer fun — and done safely, it is! However, backyard pools are also a hidden danger in your home. Make sure you’re taking the right steps to keep your children safe around backyard pools so you can prevent a tragedy.

Guest Blogger:  Alex Robbins

information@safetytoday.org

Safetytoday.org

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3 Years Ago Today

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Medical Issues, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome

3 Years Ago Today

3 Years Ago Today

3 Years Ago Today

At 4:30 pm, 3 Years Ago Today, our lives changed forever.  Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome began to rear its ugly head.  Our lives were altered.  There has not been one person, in our home, that was not affected by this devastating condition.

This day comes and goes, for most people.  In our world, today, we see Co-Vid19, racism, and protests.  It seems like everything is falling apart.  In lieu of those horrendous things, I stop today and give thanks that my son is still alive.

Treatments

In the course of 36 mths, he has had

  • A bazillion IVs
  • 28 IVIG treatments which equals almost 250 hrs in a hospital
  • 2 Lumbar Punctures
  • 3 MRIs
  • 1 EEG
  • A bazillion labs
  • The second highest genetics battery of testing
  • 5 diagnosis’
  • 46 ACTH shots in the thigh
  • Countless high dose rounds of Dexamethasone
  • 3 rounds of Chemo
  • 5 hospitals
  • Countless stays in said hospitals
  • A Make A Wish trip
  • Wheelchair bound for months
  • Gait walker dependent for months
  • Ramp installation
  • Multiple rounds of high/low frequency acupuncture
  • Bioimpedance
  • Amish Iridology
  • A death sentence

My Son

He is a warrior.  This child has been prayed over by hundreds of people.  Donations have helped us travel many miles to seek help.  Many tears have been shed.  Faith has been torn down and redeveloped.  Hope has abounded.  In 2017, our lives changed.  2018, we were given a new diagnosis and told to take him home until he “succumbs.”  In 2019, we got the “old” diagnosis back and were given hope.  Now, in 2020, my baby is not only alive but has graduated from kindergarten and lost 2 teeth.

3 Years Ago Today

How I Feel

My gut aches.  I am physically ill at the pain that he has gone through.  There has been great pain.  No one will ever know what he and I have been through together.  There is a bond that we have because through it all, it’s been Hunter and me.  Bart has been amazing.  He goes when he can.  The support, love, devotion, and still have to deal with other kids and a full-time job.  My children.  Family.  Church.  Friends.

I know Christ died on the cross to heal Hunter.  It just has not manifested, completely in his body.  We still do treatments every month.  He still struggles in some areas and tremors are always there.  We still worry about when he gets sick and a flare-up.  I still carry around the “what-if” guilt.  It is still there and I am now praying for deliverance for that guilt.

My Baby

He is busy.  Mouthy.  He pees on kittens occasionally.  There are still some fits, tremors, eye twitches, and speech issues.  Yet, there are no more rages (praise God), no more ACTH shots, no more OCD (for the most part) issues.  Treatments are easier because he is a pro at getting an IV.  Meds are taken with grace and not a fight.  He is aware that he has OMS and is learning about his condition.

3 Years Ago Today

My baby runs, plays baseball, jumps, dances, and says things like “Taco Tuesday and Hump Day.”  He has changed his name from Hunter to Kid to Mario.  I’m no longer “mom” because that is old, done, gone…I am not Princess Peach.  He apologizes when he is wrong.  Loves to have me smell his hair and say “it smells like rainbows and sunshine” after a bath.

He is alive.  Death from OMS is not in his future.  God has big plans for him and He has allowed me to be front and center.  The phrase God is good all the time and all the time God is good runs through my head.  I never thought I’d be able to say that and mean that again.

Yet…He is good.

3 Years Ago Today

Casseroles, Cooking

Pizza Spaghetti Bake

Pizza Spaghetti Bake

Pizza Spaghetti Bake

In this Pizza Spaghetti Bake, I will write down what I did because it was good!  Yet, I will also write in what I will add/do differently.  I feel like all recipes need to be tweaked in some form or fashion, so this is pretty typical for me.

Ingredients

Beef

Onion

Minced Garlic

Pepperoni, chopped (and some whole for the top)

**Next time will do a pound of beef and a pound of sausage.**

Seasoning

Italian Seasoning

Rosemary

2 packets of spaghetti mix

1 jar of spaghetti sauce

**Next time, I will add a jar of pizza sauce.**

2 cans of mushrooms, drained

Chopped spinach

Panko

Parmesan

Cottage Cheese

1 egg

Mozzarella

Penne Noodles

Directions

Boil noodles and drain, according to directions.

Cook beef, chopped pepperoni, onion, garlic, seasoning (sausage if being used) and drain.  Put back in the pot.  Next, add mushrooms and chopped spinach.  Then, add the Italian seasoning, Rosemary, and spaghetti packets.  Mix well.

Next up, add the spaghetti sauce (and about a quarter of that same jar put some water to add).  If you are also using pizza sauce, add it.  Mix well.  Add in some panko, parmesan, a couple of handfuls of mozzarella, cottage cheese, and the egg.  Stir and keep warm until your noodles are done.

Finally, mix the meat mixture with the noodles and spread in a greased 13×9 dish.  Top with mozzarella and whole pepperoni.  Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

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Life or Something Like It

Self-Care 101 During Co-Vid19

Self-Care 101 During Co-Vid19
Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

Self-Care 101 During Co-Vid19

I have been in this house since the beginning of March.  Well, I have been “out” 2 times.  Both times were to take my son to treatment.  **Be jealous.**  I do drive around town, occasionally.  My son is medically fragile.  I choose to be safe and keep my behind at home.  My husband works outside the home 2 days a week.  Boo, our oldest son, does have a job.  For the most part, my family is contained.  We don’t see anyone and no one comes here.  YET…things are slowly opening up (wear masks and wash your hands)!  So, Self-Care 101 During Co-Vid19 is happening!

Excitement #1

People of internet land, I am getting a massage!  I cannot tell you how excited I am.  When my friend texted me, she told me that A) she was opening up with HUGE restrictions based on our state.  She scheduled me.  Then, B) she had to cancel because the number of restrictions were hard, so she was going to have to wait until it loosened up a little bit more.  Safety for all people, ya know.  Mad respect for that, yet HUGE disappointment.  Then, C) because God is good…our governor switched things up again and I got scheduled again.

90 minutes of sheer bliss.  I can’t even.  Not only do I get to see the precious face of my friend but she is totally going to jump on my back and work her toes into my knots.  She is AMAZING!  I’m so pleased that she is so mindful of the rules, my health, her health, and all the things.

I might have told her that I was gonna walk in with nothing but my mask on.  She, politely giggled and said “Uhm, no.”  LOL.  I love the fact that we laugh and talk.  It isn’t total silence.  We catch up on all the things.  Then, when she does my back, I fall asleep and drool.

Excitement #2

I GET TO SEE MY MAMA!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh.  My word!  I have not seen her in 3 mths.  Now, we talk multiple times a day but I get to SEE HER FACE!  You will not be able to peel me off the ceiling!  As you get older, you realize that you still need your mama (and dad) and how precious they are.

I gave her instructions.  First, we were going to hug for an hour.  Then, she was going to rock me for at least 2 hours.  Next, I’m going to curl up in her bed and she is going to stroke my hair and sing to me while I nap for about 4 hours.  Last, I’m going to wake up and she is going to have cooked my favorites.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and lima beans.  Before I leave, we will hug for another hour.

She kindly said “now, Brandi, we probably won’t do all of that because there is no touching.”  Little does she know…I will wear a garbage bag or something to keep the cooties away.  I just want to see her person.

Excitement #3

We are meeting friends for dinner, at their house (where they have not gotten out…so no one will have been exposed).  Grilling out, swimming, chatting with other adults.  All my kids (who again, have been quarantined).  Stop it.  Just stop it right now.  I miss this friend, terribly, and I’m so glad that we have 1 case in our county.  For the most part, people are abiding by the rules.  There are the ones that don’t listen well, which is sad.  Having a medically fragile child puts all the things into perspective.

Excitement #4

I am getting my hair done.  Let me clarify, I’ve decided to let myself go gray (oh my word).  So, I’m just getting a haircut BUT I miss my friend.  I’m so excited I get to see her.  There have been some amazing humans touch my hairs.  I have been so blessed by the hairstylists who have become good friends.  Now, if God would just create in my hair a pretty blonde and ringlets, that would be great!

I have been cutting my boys’ and husband’s hair for a long time.  It is an art and I am not qualified.  Luckily, my husband lets me shave his off.  My boys’ hair, I have learned how to scissor cut and not make them look like they have an Amish hair-do.  I did, last night, trim my daughter’s hair.  My friend gave me tips and I did a pretty good job.  No layers, bangs, or anything wild over here.

Excitement #5

Because all things have been closed, my #2 daughter has asked that my oldest daughter, the youngest daughter, and me over to the place where she sleeps.  She wants to have a “spa” day and treat us all.  I mean, how sweet is that.  We will probably order pizza and watch movies while we pamper each other.  By “pamper” each other, I mean they give me a mani- and Pedi- because that is not something I’m good at.  Maybe we can get those peel-off masks that are so relaxing to me!

All of this is happening over the next few weeks, so it’s not like I’m doing it all in a day.  My mental health has taken a hit, like most people.  Self-Care is not selfish or wrong.  It is imperative that we take care of ourselves.

Listen to Me

Reach out to a friend, call your pastor, check with a counselor, call your doctor, take a bath, take a nap, read the Word.  Find a good book or movie or show.  Pet a cat, bake cookies.  Whatever you find relaxing DO IT!  There is no shame in having a movie marathon day.  Your mental health is so important.  If you need help, it is there.  You are loved, you are worth, you are strong, you are kind, and you are good!  Love yourself.  If you ever feel like life is too much, you can text 988 for help!  Or you can call Suicide Prevention Hotline.  Your life is worth saving!

Cooking, Soup

Chicken Alfredo Soup

Chicken Alfredo Soup
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Chicken Alfredo Soup

Just go ahead and slap your mama.  Dang it.  This Chicken Alfredo Soup is now tied for first place for Big Daddy.  The other two being Easy White Chicken Chili with Cream Cheese and Pizza Soup Recipe.  Frankly, I am impressed with myself.

Ingredients

3 cans of chicken, drained (feel free to use chicken breasts because you can use the broth)

Seasoning

Onion

Garlic

3/4 c. butter

3/4 c. flour

1 c. heavy cream

Sour Cream

Chicken bouillon

Water

Parmesan

Mozzarella

Pasta

Directions

Saute up the cut up onion and garlic in butter.  Once sauteed, add in your flour and cook that down a bit.  Get your whisk out and add 2 c. water.  Whisk that all in really well.  Now, I wish I could tell you how much chicken bouillon I used, but I used that paste.  I think I did about 2 Tbsps.  Sprinkle with your seasoning.

Once that is incorporated, add more water and just keep stirring.  I did this in my Instant Pot on saute mode, by the way.  You will notice your “roux” is getting thicker.  I think I did about 5 c. water.  You can adjust accordingly.  Add your chicken and parmesan.

Moving On

Let’s talk pasta, real quick.  I used bowtie pasta.  In my pot (not the instant pot), I brought my water to a boil.  Once it came to a boil, I seasoned it and added my pasta.  Drain and then add to your roux.

Next time, I might use a couple of boxes of Ditalini pasta or maybe cut up fettucini.  The bowties were fine and good, but I think I want a smaller type…like a small rigatoni.  Ugh, I just need to go and look at all the types or maybe make my own.  You know what would be good?  Putting in cheese tortellini.  Cause, yum!

Anyway

Once I got all of that in the pot, I added the heavy cream and sour cream.  If you cook this in an instant pot, you have to keep stirring because it will start to burn on the bottom.  Baby it!  At the end, I added about 2 cups (I know, I know) of mozzarella.  Keep tasting to adjust the seasoning.  Now, remember, you can always add seasoning but you can’t take it out if you put too much in there.  Start small and add as you like!

Dang this was good.  Had my Oak been here…I would’ve slapped her face 🙂  Then, she would have slapped me back LOL.

 

Cooking

Meals for the Week (or More)

Meals for the Week (or More)
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Meals for the Week (or More)

Hot on the heels of yesterdays post, these are my Meals for the Week (or More).  As I clean out my food areas, I do some “spring cleaning.”  This is where I make my spice mixes, if I am running low.  I make “cream of” soup mixes (mushroom, chicken, etc).  Also, I make packet mixes.  This can be Lipton Onion Soup Mix, Spaghetti, Chili, Taco, Fajita, Stir-fry, Ranch, or Italian mix.  I store all of these either in baggies or small mason jar.

More Upon More

Combining condiment jars is always fun (enter sarcasm) because my kids cannot seem to see an already open thing of ketchup.  So irritating.  I fill up the cereal canister, the snack cracker canister (we occasionally have mice so I try to keep things in airtight areas).  When I do this, I also make my grocery list.  This method just works for me.

Finding Suppers

I cook 5 nights a week, most weeks.  Sundays, I do not cook and Thursdays my husband makes me pizza. The rest of the time is me cooking.  Occasionally, my husband and son in law will grill, make steaks, or chicken strips.  Let me tell you, I do not complain.  So for the next week or so, this is what I have already on hand when checking my food areas.

Menus

Thursday (writing this on the 21st):  Pizza

Friday:  Hamburgers/hotdogs/fries (it is treatment day for Hunter, so I don’t cook)

Saturday:  My son in law is making his chicken strips and we will probably have leftover vegetables and mashed potatoes

Sunday:  I don’t cook

Monday: The men are grilling out.

Tuesday:  Brunzi Baseball Casserole, corn, green bean Casserole

Wednesday:  Chicken Alfredo Soup and Minestrone

Thursday:  Pizza

Friday:  Baked Spaghetti and french bread

Saturday:  Tenderloin, mac and cheese, Italian potatoes, and Lima beans

Sunday:  I don’t cook

Monday:  Parmesan Crusted Round Steak, baked potatoes, green beans, corn

Tuesday:  Martha’s Tacos and probably Shiro Wot

Wednesday:  Baked Penne with spinach, bread, and salad

Thursday:  Pizza

Friday:  Freezer meal, broccoli casserole, corn pudding, green beans

Saturday:  White Chicken Chili and Chicken Noodle Soup

Grocery Run

I will need very few things to complete these meals, so in reality, I’m saving money by not going to the grocery store!  This makes me so happy because that “extra” money can be spent stockpiling on something or house repairs…which we need many.

I challenge you to cook with what you have!  Limit your grocery budget to  $100 or less per week.  Save the leftover money and then either put it in the bank, use it to had to a debt to help reduce that bill, or do repairs.  You can do it!

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Cleaning and Organizing, Cooking

Stress Organizing Food Areas

Stress Organizing Food Areas

Stress Organizing Food Areas

It has come to, almost the end, of our meat.  We bought a whole cow last summer and it is dwindling down.  It makes me sad.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had to buy stuff in the market.  It is so much healthier to know what your cow has been fed before you feed it to your children.  Anyway, back to the topic of me Stress Organizing Food Areas.

When I had 3 kids, I would buy in bulk.  I would always have 2 flats of different vegetables, canned goods, seasoning, etc.  Now that I have more than the average amount of children AND my children are enormous…life is different.  If I had space, time, energy, and money, I would still be stockpiling.  Alas, I don’t any of those things.

Pandemic Changes Things

Now that the pandemic is rampant, things are limited.  Whether that is toilet paper, cleaner, or food.  It really does make you take stock in what you have and becoming a bit more inventive.  Also, less likely to waste food or throw things out.

I had these thoughts after the ice storm as well.  We did make some changes in some areas.  Now is the time to make changes in other areas too.  Luckily for me, I was raised by frugal parents and grandparents.  I’m not afraid to try something.  Making bread, cakes, muffins, rolls from scratch is normal.  Alfredo sauce can be made and not bought.  Spaghetti sauce, seasoning combinations…it is all trial and error.  My next goal is to learn to make my own pasta.  My mother in law did that and she gave me a contraption.  Now is the time to use it!

In Cleaning Out and Organizing

Refrigerator, everything has a place.  I can easily see what is what.  Our fresh veggies, I can make a side dish out of.  Fresh spinach, I can put in anything.  It really takes on the flavor profile of what you are cooking.

I had a MASSIVE influx of baby carrots.  There was some I had bought and then the school brought food for the week.  Lots of cherry tomatoes, fresh broccoli, celery, and carrots.  The broccoli, I stockpiled till I had a good amount.  Last night, I made Chinese stir-fry with a couple of packs of round steak (from our cow), the broccoli, and I even used the cherry tomatoes.  Big Daddy is not fond of those, at all.  If you chop them up smaller and saute them, he didn’t even notice.

Sadly, the celery, I can’t get anyone to eat.  Not even with peanut butter on it.  We did not waste them.  A couple of kids tried to eat them but we had so much that it was almost like torture for them.  We fed those to our chickens, which in turn, gives us eggs.  Does that count?

As for the Carrots

We all eat them on salads.  Also, the kids like to eat them by themselves with a bit of ranch.  I will snack on them.  Still…we had so many.  A couple of days ago, I made some carrot cake muffins.  I could have made a cake or a loaf of bread but muffins freeze well and the kids have been eating them for breakfast.  It is a super simple recipe that I have used for years.  I will try and remember to post it by Monday.   That used up a ton of carrots and I still have a bunch more.  I may make more and freeze it.

Freezer Organization

For my freezer, I have the one that pulls out from my fridge, a big chest freezer, and then our old refrigerator we use out in the garage.  The kitchen freezer, I utilize the 2 big bins and then the pull out drawer that has the ice maker.  Up there, I put ice packs, Berbere, Tumeric, Yeast, or sweets.  In one side bin, I put meat for super.  For instance, when I buy sausage, shrimp, fish, etc.  On the other side, I have all the kids frozen lunch items.

In the freezer in the garage (the refrigerator one), we keep extra bread, french bread, buns, or things that I bake.  My big chest freezer is where we have our beef.  Then the little rack has odds and ends.  For instance, we have the 2 other packs of round steak, stew meat, steaks, etc.  The base of the freezer has our patties and ground beef.

In recyclable bags, that is in there is where I organize all the other things.  I don’t like it when things fall to the bottom because they end up freezer burnt and wasted.  1 bag has all our frozen veggies, another has our bulk chicken that I have broken up into baggies.  There is 1 bag that has some odds and ends.  My son in law has a few bags stored up in there.  I think the last bag has meat that I have cooked and refrozen for another meal.  We also have a little shelf area that has freezer meals on it.

Pantry Area

My pantry has 5 shelves.  The top shelf, I have broken up in 2 different baskets and some clear canisters.  I think I got them from Dollar Tree.  One basket has junk food/sweets/things my son in law buys and hides here.  Another basket has all my leftover flour, sugar, almond flour, teff flour, and such.  Then, in the canisters, I have open bags of flour, sugar, etc.

The next shelf has my suppers organized.  When I make out my grocery list, I always look to see what I have on hand and work my suppers around that.  So, on that shelf (for the next 10 days or so), I have my suppers planned out and put together on that shelf.  For instance, I am making Brunzi Baseball Casserole, green bean casserole, and corn.  I have all the ingredients for that in one area.  Then there is pizza where I put all the ingredients for that, etc.  This helps me use up what I have and not overbuy.

The next shelf, I keep a container with packet mixes (when I buy premade packets), our bread box, and our extra canned stuff for me to use for the next round of meals.  That way, I will always know what I need to use up and incorporate every week.

The Rest of the Pantry

The third shelf is all things kids and paper products.  They know that if it is on their shelf, it is free for all to eat, just not in excess.  There is always a variety of breakfast stuff, lunch stuff, and protein snacks.

The fifth shelf has some appliances, a little basket with sauces and condiments, and oils.  On the floor of the pantry houses, canned drinks, water, lunch boxes, and such.  Everything has a place and most times all things are in their place.

I Hope This Helps

Hopefully this helps you get some ideas on how you can utilize the areas of your food storage.  More importantly, to not overbuy.  Just buy what you need.  If you want to stockpile, that is great.  Buy 1 thing for now, if you are a smaller family and 1 for later.  For our family, I buy 3 now and 3 for later…when I stockpile.

Be creative with your menu and be open to adding things in that might be ready to go bad.  If you don’t have chickens, use the leftover food and compost it for your yard!  Also, if canned foods you KNOW you are not going to eat, donate it to a local food pantry!

Have fun!  Be safe.  Wash your hands.  Wear a mask.  It’s a germy jungle out there!

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Faith, Kids, Life or Something Like It

I am NOT a Failure

I am NOT a Failure

I am NOT a Failure

Repeat after me:  I am NOT a Failure.  Those words still resonate in me after a late-night chat with one of my closest friends.  After a particularly hard evening, I texted my friend and said: “can you talk?”  She has as many kids as I do and her life is not easy.  My friend is raising these kids from hard places and trying to maintain a farm.  Inspiration.  She is my inspiration.

What’s Going On?

That was all she said. Not even a “hello” just a statement.  In fact, I don’t think we ever say “hello” when we call each other.  It is rare when we get a few minutes, within a month or so, to dedicate to chatting.  Yet, when it comes to me needing her or her needing me…we make time in the chaos.

Last night, she made time.  I am forever grateful to my friend.  She means the world to me.

Tears Flowed

I couldn’t even get words out…all I could do was sob.  There was a sentence I mustered about a life-altering decision that we have to make in regards to one of our children.  Instead of instantly telling me all the things I already know, she sat, silently, and let me cry.  Throwing in phrases, between the sobs, of “I love you.  You love your children.  He is not a failure because of his mental illness that I did not create.  I am not a failure because I did above and beyond what needed to be done in order for him to live a successful, safe life.

You are not a Failure

She said that over and over.  I repeated it and then I let it sink in.  He is not a failure.  I repeated that and it is sinking in.  We are not failures.  He just needs more help then maybe I can give him.  That doesn’t mean I’ve failed him.  It means I have loved him enough to get the help that he needs.  In having to do what we may have to do does not dictate my love for this child.  If I didn’t love him, I wouldn’t fight so hard for him to succeed in life.

Yet…who does what I’m doing?  Who does what he is doing on a constant basis?  Why can’t love just fix everything?  What about God…where are You in the chaos?  I know He is there.  Yet, I can’t hear Him through the storm.

My Support System

Is very small.  I mean, I have my husband.  The love of my children (whom I try to shield from all that swirls in my mind).  I know my mom loves me and supports me.  There is my sister who never waivers, never judges, never gives advice without me asking, faithfully prays for me…what would I do without her?  I simply don’t know.  Also, I have a couple of faithful friends that I can bear my soul with and never be betrayed or judged.

Struggling

There is some serious trust issues that I have always had but have peaked the last few months.  I’m battling with anger (which is fear and/or sadness).  I can easily identify the fear that no one believes me, that I have no self-worth, no confidence, that love comes and goes like the ebbs and flows of the ocean.  Feeling like a failure because my dreams of raising kids is not what reality is.  Honestly, feeling like all the things wrong is my fault and that I can’t fix it.  Sadness because of the loss of what I thought I knew…I’m not sure it is even there.  Maybe it is there but buried deep inside and doesn’t want to appear because of fear.  Such sadness at the choices of a child.  Sadness for an uncertain future.

Emotionally Stagnant

That is what my counselor said that I was.  When we got off the phone, I told my husband and he AGREED.  Then, I called my sister and told her…guess what…she AGREED as well.  I have a hard time expressing my needs, feeling safe, accepting help, and just being vulnerable.

I am not emotionally stagnant.  The emotions are there, I just pick and choose who sees me have a moment.  Emotions, to me, instill weakness and if one is weak, one doesn’t think clearly and can be overtaken.

That’s how I perceived my father growing up.  He is not the emotional kind of guy (forever police officer).  I rarely remember him yielding to emotion. He did, I guess, just not where us kids could see him.

My mom, however, is free with her emotions, for the most part.  I just took more after Pop.

What People Don’t See

Is when I’m alone, in my room, crying my eyes out.  People don’t see me taking long drives down roads I don’t know…crying my eyes out.  Screaming.  The poison gets so intense, inside me, that I just scream.  So, I’m emotional, in a controlled environment.  If I were to say to the people who have hurt me, how badly I feel wounded…they will not respond well.  Many things can be said.  Also, those things that were said cannot be unsaid.  If I did say them, they would no longer love me.

Fear of not being loved or belonging…that’s a big one.

Oceans

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made…

My Thoughts

In the everyday chaos and uncertainty, He calls me to walk out on the waters, where it is completely unknown and my feet will fail in the deep ocean.  Yet, He says I will stand on my faith.  When I call upon His Name, He is faithful to keep my eyes above the waves.  He is calling me out on the waves to confront, in love, the people that I need to confront.  One of those people is me!!
I need to know that I don’t depend on anyone’s love but His.  My battles are not for me to fight according to Exodus 14:14.  “The Lord will fight my battle.  I just have to be silent.”
I won’t look around at all the things going on around me and the struggles that I am facing.  My job is to step out on the waves, in the deep ocean, where His grace abounds.  I am always loved, always believed, always worthy, in His eyes.

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Pizza Soup Recipe

Pizza Soup Recipe
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Pizza Soup Recipe

Is it a secret that I love soup?  I don’t believe it is.  So, without further ado, here is my Pizza Soup Recipe.  It’s a keeper!  Bart says it is tied for first for his favorite soups. This soup is tied at first.  The other being White Chicken Chili.  I did this all in the Instant Pot but you can do it on the stovetop!

Ingredients

2# sausage

2# ground beef

Pepperoni

**Can add any meat you want here or combine your favorite meat toppings in this soup.  Also, if you like a lot of veggies on your pizza, chop them up and add them here because you want to cook them down a bit.  I would like to use peppers, but my husband doesn’t care for that.  Mushrooms would be good!**

1 onion

Minced Garlic

Seasoning

Italian Seasoning

Rosemary

1 jar of pizza sauce

Water (I believe I filled up the pizza sauce jar 3x and put it in there.  Eyeball it.)

2 cans of Tomato Soup

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

Mozzarella

Directions

On the saute mode (Instant Pot), combine the meats, onion, minced garlic, and seasoning.  Cook until done, drain if you need too.  Once done, put back in the pot and add your Italian Seasoning and Rosemary.

Next, add the sauce, water, and soups.  Stir well and then place the lid on, seal, manual, for about 8-10 minutes.  Everything is cooked, so you just want to meld the flavors.  Once done, use the quick release.  Stir in your mozzarella.  Again, put as much in there as you want.  I think I may have used 2 cups cause we like cheese!

Enjoy!

**Oh, my original plan was to add a box of Ditalini noodles in it.   I would have boiled them in saltwater on the stovetop.  Then drained it and then added it to the instant pot.  For me, I have found that if I cook noodles, that small in the IP, they get mushy.**

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