Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year was great. Thursday we went to my sister-in-law's house
and enjoyed good family, good food, and sugared-up kids and cousins (thanks 
to her super tasty desserts). Unfortunately the fun was cut short for me since it 
was my scheduled holiday to work. 2:00 came too quickly, and off I went to the 

The next day was to be my side of the family's day to gather for a day of 
feasting and fellowship. I had volunteered to bake the turkey, dressing/stuffing 
(depending on your family), mashed potatoes and gravy. Just a bit much?
MaybeI had thought, but I'd give it my best try. Not only was I to make the 
majority of the menu, but I wanted to do it all from scratch. Crazy? Pretty much. 
I had researched recipes for a week. I ended up taking advice from Paula Deen 
on baking the turkey and used her recipes for apple cranberry stuffing and giblet 
gravy. I even planned on toasting the bread for stuffing myself. On top of all 
this, I had never baked a turkey or made stuffing and gravy. I'm usually in 
charge of the mashed potatoes, which I will add is an art form. Making sure they 
are creamy but not wimpy is a fine line.

I had shopped on Wed. for all the required ingredients, which in and of itself 
could be a post. I spent about an hour and a half tracking down my list within 
my local recently reorganized grocery store. My two children were securely 
strapped in a cart with a double space up top for child confinement, and it didn't 
take long for them to start with the hair pulling and play hitting. I must have 
spent a half hour in the baking/seasoning section.

I had a good first four hours of my shift and was thrilled to be cancelled at 7, not
that I didn't want to stay and take care of my patients (who were all super sweet),
but I needed to get to bed a decent hour to prepare for the next day. I also 
needed to clean my kitchen, which I did. 

My phone alarm chimed it's wake up song at 6:15, and I was up (this was a 
miracle since I'm not a morning person). I stumbled into my sparkling kitchen
and started chopping apples, onions, and celery to stuff in the bird. Next was 
only part I dreaded. I kinda have an issue with raw poultry. I'm a little OCD 
when it comes to cleanliness and prevention of food-borne illness. I blame 
the microbiology class I was required to take as an undergrad for this. I made
sure everything was ready. I cut the lifeless bird free from its packaging, 
pulled out the neck, but couldn't find the giblets. Where were they?! I couldn't
make giblet gravy without giblets. After a thorough search, I gave up and 
decided to boil the neck and tail to make the gravy.

Next I rinsed my unfortunate friend, placed it in the pan, patted it dry with a 
disposable paper towel, and seasoned it inside with pre-measured sea salt, 
pepper and thyme. I attempted to slather the outside with softened butter, but 
butter doesn't spread on a cold turkey. Live and learn. Paula Deen knows 
what she's talking about. Melted butter it was. Then I sprinkled sea salt and 
pepper all over. Last I stuffed the celery, apples and onion inside (that was 
my idea). Finally, the main course was ready for the oven and only 9 minutes 
behind schedule. I followed directions and baked the 10 pound turkey for 2 
and a half hours at 325, covered with foil. Once the time was complete I 
noticed there weren't tons of "drippings" like I had expected. I added turkey
stock to the pan and turned up the heat (according to the directions) to 
425 for 45 minutes. After just 15 minutes, the bird was plenty brown, so 
I covered it with foil, basting every so often. 

The result was mouth watering goodness. The turkey was wonderfully moist
and delightfully tasty. My husband was quite impressed and bragged on me
for days. The side dishes were yummy as well and by some miracle were 
all done the same time as the turkey. Everything was transported safely 
to my younger sister's house (thanks a bunch for hosting lil' sis). My mom 
made her traditional green bean casserole and my little sister made her
famous butternut squash. Everything was wonderful. As usual, we took
turns saying what each of us was thankful for, although we all missed 
my older sister and her family. They were all down in sunny Florida for
an overdue visit with my brother-in-law's family. 

I love Thanksgiving. It's a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what we too
often take for granted everyday. I'm so thankful for a wonderful husband,
adorable children, great family, a home, a rewarding job, food on the
table, and a Savior who loves provides for and loves us. I hope you had
a wonderful Thanksgiving, but even if you didn't, think about all the good
things in your life. It's too easy to focus on the negative, when it's the
positive in our lives that is so precious. Oh, did I mention that my husband 
found the bag of giblets when he carved the turkey? I could only laugh.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Perplexing Putridity

WARNING: This post is not for the weak stomached. Most likely, if you 
don't have children, you probably haven't been desensitized to cope
with the daily disgusting happenings that can occur, sometimes on a 
daily basis. So continue at your own discretion. 

It's been a rough week. The kids haven't felt well (dealing with a croupy
cough), and I've still been enduring my morning/all-the-time sickness.
Yesterday was a busy day. We left the house at 8 a.m. and didn't 
arrive home again 2:30. I left the van littered with sippy cups, backpacks,
and papers to quickly lay the kids down for their afternoon naps. 

After dinner, I realized I'd left the children's cough medicines in the van as
well. My sweet spouse offered to bring in all the chaos I'd left outside. 
As soon as he returned inside, I detected an overwhelming odor. The only
way I can describe it is like someone had vomited putrid milk. Being 
pregnant and having a heightened sense of smell, I immediately retreated
from the kitchen to the family room. 

"How long have these sippy cups been out there?" Jason asked, half

"They're from today!" I reassured. 

He had also brought in a coffee mug from his car that did have mold 
inside. We thought that was it. Since it was plastic, it was tossed and
the garbage taken outside. 

I noticed the horrible smell was infiltrating the family room as well. What
could it be? Jason was unable to find the source, and since I was on 
the verge of puking, I recommended lighting a bunch of candles. Jason
found the matches and furiously lit as many candles as he could.
I suggested we get the kids to bed and look for the source later. Upstairs
Jason noted the smell was worse than it had been downstairs. This
was a mystery. What was going on? I picked up James and laid him 
down to change his diaper. I pulled back the diaper tab. Similar to the 
force of a mac truck hitting a brick wall, it hit me. 

"Jason!" I screamed (in such a way that he thought I was mortally wounded).
"Here! It's his diaper! I'm gonna puke! HELP!" 

Like a knight in shining armor, he rushed in. "Quick, get out of here!" he 
ordered. I scurried out, gagging and choking. 

Once I regained my composure, I retrieved a grocery bag from the kitchen
and asked Avalon (4) to take it to her daddy. A minute later, Jason rushed 
down the stairs with the offending diaper in the bag but still insisted for 
me to hold my breath as he passed. The diaper went outside, and I finished
getting the kids ready for bed. 

The next thing I saw was Jason lighting matches in every room to consume
the remnants of the most disgusting thing either of us have ever encountered,
which is saying a lot since I'm a nurse. 

It occurred to me that Jason started lighting those matches so quickly that he
probably hadn't washed his hands first. Upon inquiring, my fears were 
confirmed. "Great, now I'll have to wash my hands after touching that match
box every time I light a candle," I complained. He didn't seem to care and
was much more concerned with the task at hand. 

Once everything calmed down and the kids were in bed, I called both
our moms, recounted the story and laughed at the absurdity of not having
realized earlier that a diaper was the source of the awful smell. But to our
defense, it didn't smell like dirty diaper. I was asked what the darling boy 
had been eating. "Nothing out of the ordinary," I answered. Even now, I 
can't think of what could've caused such a thing. Adventures in parenting... . 
If someone who has yet to experience the true joys of having children has 
been brave enough to read this post until the end, I must reassure you that 
moments like these are far outweighed by sweet memories and lovable cuddles, heartbreaking hugs, and slobbery kisses.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honoring Veterans

Having been unsure what to write about this week, today I've been furiously
brainstorming fun topics. I thought about the curious date today, 11/11/11. 
I love dates like today's, and for the same mysterious reason I'm excited 
when my car's mileage turns to a single recurring number such as 55,555.
The corners of my mouth upturn, and I revel in the momentary numerical
perfection. But how could I write about numbers without lulling my readers
into a delightful afternoon nap?

Then it hit me like a lightning bolt from above. It's Veteran's Day... . Having
served in the U.S. Air Force for four years active duty, it's only natural
I should write about what it means to be a veteran. Why had it taken me 
so long to come to this conclusion? I blame it on being pregnant, and what
little brain cells I have left are being starved of energy, which is being
diverted to the tiny inch and a half long human growing in my belly. How
can something so small require so much? That's another discussion for
another time. 

I originally joined the Air Force to pay for the last year of my Bachelor's
degree and because I believed it was the best venue for practicing 
the best nursing care. "Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence
in All We Do," are the core values of the Air Force, all of which resounded
with my own beliefs. It was somewhere you could expect your coworkers
to give %110 every day. 

The challenges I faced shaped me into the person I am today and gave 
me a backbone to stand up for myself where I hadn't in the past. Although
there were difficulties, mostly interpersonal in nature, I'd do it again in 
a heartbeat. There's a special sense of patriotism that comes with 
having served in our nation's military, one that I'm not sure someone
could know without that experience. I know there are a great many
people who have not served who are deeply patriotic, but it's different
when you've volunteered service to protect our great country. 

Having been non-line or medical was also different from those who 
served more directly. I was never deployed overseas, but I took care
of many who were. I was also fortunate to care for those who had 
served during Vietnam and World War II. There are a few I know I'll
never forget. One was a seemingly tiny shriveled old man who was
admitted to our unit at least twice a month. He always stayed in the
same room, one close to the nurse's station that was also video 
monitored. Need I say more? He routinely cursed us for not letting
him have a glass of water to "wet his mouth," and barked orders
as I'm sure he was used to in days of old. Now, we weren't 
vindictive, cold hearted nurses. This particular precious patient
was continually admitted with aspiration pneumonia, which 
meant when he took a drink of anything, it went straight to his lungs. 
We couldn't trust him to "just wet his mouth." 

Because of this condition, he had a G/J tube which directly accessed
his stomach and small intestine. It was through this crude tube that
he received liquid feedings attached to a pump. Poor man couldn't 
eat or drink anything. I can't say I fully blame him for having been 
non compliant. Imagine not being able to eat your favorite foods, 
let alone holiday meals. Life without pumpkin pie? That's just
wrong. So was the latter portion of this weary soul's existence, 
temptation to taste, and his favorite was coffee. 

One year, within a week of Christmas, we received the sad news
he had passed. We read his obituary aloud at the nurse's station.
The list of accomplishments was long and commendable, but what
humbled us the most was that this man had been a green beret 
paratrooper, I think during World War II, but that's testing my 
memory a bit. All the years we had taken turns taking care of him,
we never knew his story. 

Our country's freedom has been bought with a precious price over
the years, right back to the birth of our nation. May we never take 
for granted the privilege it is to be an American and the freedoms
we enjoy. Let's appreciate, honor, and value those who have 
given so much for us and take the time to listen to their stories.

Friday, November 4, 2011

God's Grace is Sufficient

With my kids temporarily entranced by Word World, I must literally hurry up 
and write my post for this week, which has been one of the most difficult
since I've been pregnant. My all-the-time sickness has been intense. 
Yesterday, I was sure I'd puke all over the grocery store floor. By the 
grace of God, that didn't happen. The rest of the day, I was couch-bound,
unable to move. As difficult as this week has been, I remember that 
my new little one is well worth it, and I'm relieved to be within a month
of my second trimester, when I'll hopefully feel much better. 

Why is it when I'm not feeling well my dear, sweet, adorable children 
sense my weakness and run through the house like they're competing
in the 100 yard dash? High-pitched screams drown out any other 
competing noises, children collide into each other, the house is 
a disaster zone, dishes are piled up in the sink, laundry is lurking
in the basement, revisions are impatiently waiting on my laptop,
my Bible is longing to be opened, and all I can think is "God help

I remember, "My grace is sufficient for you," and that God will not give
me more than I can bear. God is good. I've been relying on Galatians 
5 and Psalm 23. In Galatians, we read about the Fruits of the Spirit, one
of which is peace. Peace is a Fruit of the Spirit. If I abide in the Lord, I 
have peace. In Psalm 23, we are told the "Lord is our Shepherd (to
feed, guide and shield), I shall not lack," in the Amplified. That 
encompasses all of our needs. No matter what we're going through, 
God is our Strength and our Hope. He is our Rock. He knows what we 
need before we ask. God meets us where we are, and He loves us
where we are. 

I know what I'm going through is temporary, and God will give me 
the strength to endure, to be a good mom, and to accomplish what
I need to do. I'd appreciate your prayers over the next few weeks as
I come to the end of my first trimester. I'm also determined to work 
on some revisions today during the munchkins' nap time. :)