Monday, April 30, 2012

What I Envy...

I have a confession.

I envy other people’s intestines.

Lord, forgive me for I have sinned!  Oh, to have a stomach that loves the food I choose to eat as much as I love to eat it!  But, alas, it has been my destiny to NOT have a stomach that embraces foods of all cultures as readily as I do.  In fact, the type of food it least loves is the backbone of my beloved hometown state: DAIRY!

Dairy is to Wisconsin like white is to rice (I suppose that doesn’t work with brown rice...or wild, new analogy needed here I guess!).  Like any loyal and Badger-red-blooded Wisconsinite, I LOVE all things dairy: cheese, ice-cream, milk, cheesecake, lattes, cream, butter, did I mention CREAM?  The prayer of this mother’s heart is that my Wisconsin-born and raised offspring will not inherit the curse of lactose-intolerance!

Of course, this problem is easily solved with the marvelous invention of a little pill known as “dairy-aid pills”, aka, “my dairy salvation!”.  The only time this invention doesn’t work is when you don’t use them, as my experience the other day proved.

My husband and I were heading out of town with some friends.  I noticed as I slammed the lid on my suitcase that I was out of dairy-pills, but thought to myself, “No big deal, I’ll just avoid dairy.”

Easier said than done, especially when you are at an adorable cafe with the tempting smell of made-from-scratch lattes wafting under your nose!  My famous last thought before I laid my money on the counter and ordered a milk-infused drink was, “I’m sure one little drink won’t hurt...”

There are many things motherhood has prepared me for but the scene that follows was not among them.  Moments after arriving at the mall with my friends and my baby cozied up on my chest in a carrier, I knew I was in dire...iah straights!  I did what any reasonable person, who had just committed a very unreasonable act of eating something their body goes on strike against, would do.  I RAN to the nearest restroom, knowing my next YEAR could be dedicated to bonding with a toilet.

There I was: trying to finagle off my belt with a baby-carrier suctioned to my torso while in a two by three foot stall.  Naturally, this alone would prove to be too boring for my life so my two-month-old baby chose that moment to wake and began SCREAMING, obviously starving in spite of the fact that he had just eaten thirty minutes before.  While I attempted to multi-task and get him out of the carrier to feed him, his pacifier went flying across the “ever-so-clean” public restroom floor.  

The final straw as I was sitting on the great throne, holding a carrier in one hand, holding a baby in the other, feeding a baby and sticking my leg under the stall door to try and reign in his nuk with my foot, my phone rang.  I recognized the ringtone as my husband calling.  Both accidentally and amazingly in all the commotion, the speaker button on the cell was bumped and the phone picked up.  My dear oblivious husband began hollering “Hello?  Babe?  Are you there?”  while I shouted back over my crying baby (much to the amusement of all the other patrons in the restroom, I’m sure),


Somehow, I survived that moment...and that day; which, ended up feeling like a field-trip to every restroom in central Wisconsin.

The moral of this story is simply this: if you are lactose-intolerant, always have dairy-pills on hand.  And if you have intestines that don’t go on strike for nearly every food you consume, consider yourself blessed.  Granted, I would have missed out on that exciting adventure (and the tour de toilets) if I did have a “normal” stomach so I suppose I can count my blessings as well.

There’s always a silver lining...and sometimes even a silver toilet.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Toddler Table Transformed

Here's a post just for fun-something a little outside of the box for me!  I have a passion for all things creative but the dilemma I run into these days is that I am a little short on time or money (or both, ha!) to make all the ideas that overflow my brain most of the time!

Recently (since becoming a "Pinterest-Addict"!) I saw this idea for a toddler table re-do and was inspired!

I paired this (above) idea up with more inspiration (below):

My daughter and I had picked out this fun material awhile ago and made some pillows out of it to tie together the colors in their bedroom: sage green, candy pink and bright pink.  

A few years ago, I had bought a table and two little chairs at Goodwill ($15 score!) and last summer I found two more wooden chairs (a bit larger but a good fit) at a garage sale ($2 each!) and painted the table white and the chairs brown.  But, after awhile, I felt this was rather...BORING!  It needed a COLOR REVIVAL!

So, I picked up some fun colors (brought my pillow along for a reference point) at Menards and spray-painted away on a sunny day....

EvaLee was pumped PINK was the new color of her chairs.

After they were dry, I glued some cute wooden flowers that I found at Hancock Fabric...

Kid tested, kid approved...

Finished product with my inspiration:

Total cost of the re-do (paint, flowers): $21!  Not too shabby...



Would love to hear about any projects you are working on too!  Happy painting...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Date Night Salvation!!

It’s Friday Night Baby...Date Night Salvation!

My husband used to walk through the back door to find me waiting for him in jeans and heels with my hair done up.

Now, when he walks in, he finds me still wearing my jogging pants (and not because I just got done with a nice run!) and on the kitchen floor in the fetal position with noodles in my hair.  Of course, after he talks me back to reality and helps me up (or unties me if the kids have duct-taped me to a chair, again), I still manage to throw on some jeans and heels.  Okay, so I don’t “throw” on my jeans, I suck in and zip up, praying we won’t go any place where I’ll actually need to breath (thank you kid #5 for that one...well, and kid #1, #2, get the point).

I shake a Leggo from my heels and step into them because ready or not world (and ready or not, babysitters!), I’m stepping out because it’s Date Night!  Tonight, I’m putting my hair up instead of pulling it out.  I’m shaking the dust off my feet and ignoring the dust on the shelves.  I’m putting on lipstick (the redder the better!), earrings (the bigger the better!), and a happy face because I’m more than Mom tonight, I’m WOMAN, hear me roar!

I’m not just ANY woman, I’m a wife and a lover (just to my man...of course!) and tonight he’s the only baby I’m taking care of!  He’s worth swapping my sweats for stilettos even though he loves me the same no matter what I’m wearing...or not wearing!  It’s time to dump the frump and up the bump (I meant my hair...what were you thinking?!).

I’m going to walk down those stairs towards him and remind him of the day I walked down the aisle.  The years may have added a few extra wrinkles and pounds but they pale in comparison to the memories gained in my heart that I’ll never lose.

My husband may have walked through our back door to find his wife in a heap, but it wasn’t anything ten minutes alone with some good ole country music and a bottle of hairspray couldn’t fix.

Jeans (and lack of oxygen)? Check.
Lipstick (one of the few left that my daughter hasn’t painted the walls with)? Check.
Earrings (big enough to make me feel young enough to forget I’m old enough to have kids in school)? Check.
And a man that still makes my heart beat a little faster and makes my laugh lines grow a little longer?  Check.

It’s Friday Night...Date Night Baby!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bringing Down Walls with a Toy Gun

Little did I know when I laid a dollar on the counter at our local dollar store to purchase a foam-ball toy gun, that buying a child’s toy would be like investing in a hammer that helped tear down the Berlin Wall.

Even though the Berlin Wall came crumbling down amidst a mix of passionate emotions on that fateful day of November 9, 1989, walls of prejudice between differing races, ages, and even people of various abilities still stand today.

Few things shatter through these walls more easily than innocent children and, as today taught me, foam-ball toy guns from the dollar store...  

My alarm began ever-so-rudely blaring into my ear at 7 a.m. and when I rolled over and groggily consulted my calendar for the day’s agenda, only one word jumped off the page: APPOINTMENTS.  

Great, what fun.  An hour later, I had all the kids loaded into our vehicle and we were off!  Well, give or take a few minutes and a few trips back inside for a lost shoe and lost sanity...well, we found the shoe.

I collapsed into a chair in the waiting room after we checked in at the doctor’s office and my children wasted no time digging through the “Fun Bag” (a.k.a, the “Sanity Salvation Bag” during long and boring appointments) and oohing and ahhing over its contents.

My four-year-old Judah promptly removed the little foam-ball gun and before I could educate him on the rules (such as “don’t shoot people you don’t know” or “don’t eat the foam ball”), he walked up to a little old lady sitting next to me and SHOT her (with a shy little smile, of course)!  I was mortified.  I lamely tried to get Judah to apologize while simultaneously attempting to slide between a crack in the floor and disappear!  I didn’t know if I was more embarrassed at Judah’s faux pas or relieved that the shock of a little foam ball suddenly flying at her face didn’t send that sweet old lady into cardiac arrest!

I was shocked when this white-haired tiny lady actually snickered and waved it off, “Oh, don’t worry about it!  My grandson does the same kind of stuff.”  With that, she and Judah began to chat and I watched in amazement as the barrier of age came crumbling to the ground with the greatest of ease.

But the day had just begun, so a short time later I was tossing that toy gun back into the “Fun Bag” and hurrying out the door.  Next stop: the dentist.  Once we were settled into the waiting room there, the old adage, “Hurry up and wait” was definitely applicable.  Judah dug out the foam-ball gun once again and was randomly shooting plants (thankfully he remembered the “don’t-shoot-strangers-rule”) when an squeal of delight filled the quiet room.  A little hispanic girl with the beautiful almond-shaped eyes common to children with Down Syndrome ran up to Judah and held out a pudgy, upturned hand.  

“Oh, you want to play with this?”  Judah brightened up at the chance to make someone else happy with one of his favorite toys and gently helped the little girl place the string-attached ball back into its plastic holder.  She didn’t quite understand how to shoot it so he helped her do it once, then twice...and again and again.

Once again I watched in quiet admiration as a wall of prejudice that separates people of differing races and abilities shattered into pieces and two new friends were left standing together.  Not only had Judah made a new friend, the aunt caring for this precious girl wandered over and we had a great talk as well...all thanks to that silly toy gun.

It wasn’t long after this family left that another little girl approached Judah with a shy smile revealing sparkling white teeth that contrasted her radiant black skin.  Judah showed her how to load and shoot the foam ball and before long, they were chatting and playing together with the endless energy that children have (oh, for just a drop of THAT!).  Judah took a break from playing with her just long enough to run up and ask for a sucker (at the dentist, no less!) for himself and his new buddy.

There they stood: a boy as white as the stars in the sky and a girl as black as that starry night.  They talked and happily licked at their suckers, oblivious to the remains of the wall of racism that lay in rubble at their feet.  I smiled and enjoyed the beauty of people living without prejudice, of friends that unite regardless of age, color or abilities.

Little did I know earlier that day when I hit the snooze on my alarm clock, dreading a long day of appointments, that I would actually be witness to a historic event.  I believe that every time people come together despite our differences we become a part of what makes history great.  We prove that walls of prejudice rarely ever protect us but rather prevent us from making beautiful friends.  And no one models this better than an innocent child.

Sometimes the Berlin wall comes down amidst passionate emotion with the great blow of a hammer.   

But other times walls of prejudice come down with just a foam-ball toy gun and a little, shy, innocent smile.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rice-Krispie Easter Egg Treats (Super Easy!!)

As Easter is JUST around the corner the realization finally hit me: alas, I have too many ideas and dreams and too LITTLE time!!  There are a million cutsie crafts and treats I wanted to make with the kids but between feeding a newborn that loves to eat 24/7 and chasing around my other fab four...I melted down...well, melted marshmallows that is and made the EASIEST Easter treat I could find.

So, if you too are short on time and big on dreamin', maybe this SIMPLE kid-idea will get ya through until reality and hopes come together!  Enjoy...
(I found this fun recipe at KitchenSimplicty Blog)

Chocolate Dipped Rice Krispie Eggs

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 40 large marshmallows (5 cups mini or 250g)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 cups rice krispies
  • 6 oz. baking chocolate (white or regular works!)
  • sprinkles 
  1. Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat and add rice krispies. Stir until equally incorporated.
  2. Using a greased 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of the mixture and form into an egg. Set aside and repeat until all of the mixture has been used up.
  3. Melt chocolate. Dip the tops into chocolate, then into sprinkles.
  4. Store covered at room temperature for up to two days. Freeze for longer storage.
Makes: 24
* If you don’t want to go through the work of making the eggs. You could put the mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. Once it has set up, cut into bars and dip away. Still festive, less work.
* Dampen your hands with water before forming to stop the mixture from sticking to them.

Very carefully melting the marshmallows and butter.  Team effort, of course!! 
(You can see Gideon already sampled some...)

The kids love measuring out the ingredients.

And Judah loves being a goof-ball!

A 1/4 measuring cup sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray made the perfect size ball to form the eggs.

Gideon declared after he formed some nice eggs and I complimented his work, "Well, I guess that is the talent God gave me."  We'll just hope you have a few other talents, kid...though that egg-shaping skill could really come in handy in life..somehow!!

Judah said after that, "And my talent from God is EATING them!"  Amen!

Dipping the "eggs" in melted white chocolate followed up with a dunk in a bowl of sprinkles.

"Can we eat them yet, Mom?!"

Yep, GO FOR IT!  Save some for Easter though...

 Just a fun little idea (you could come up with something WAY cooler!!)-I placed the eggs in an empty egg-carton and tied them up with a ribbon to give to friends and family!  Enjoy!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dentist Drama Queen

I hate going to the dentist.

Nothing personal if you happen to be a dentist or be married to one (I’m sure if you are, you have great teeth and thus, never even need to see one!) but I really, truly dislike going to the dentist.  I hate the reclining chair, the little wheely-table with scary tools and the ugly sunglasses you have to wear.

It hasn’t always been this way.  I actually used to love going to the dentist when I was a kid.  They would hook me up with that little strawberry-flavored nose-tube that filled my head with happy thoughts as the dentist did his dirty work.  I liked floating on a little cloud while I got a silver tooth and afterwards; there was always a sucker given for being a good lil’ patient.  

Of course, nowadays, they realize that wasn’t the brightest idea for dentists to give kids more sugar and now, they hand out toothbrushes instead (boring, right?!).  I lucked out and was part of that “wild kid” generation that got suckers at the dentist, drank out of water-hoses and never wore a bike helmet and miraculously, lived to tell about it.

My love-affair with the dentist came to a screeching halt at the age of 19 while I was living in Mexico.  I was teaching at a school in a remote village and when I started to experience a lot of tooth pain.  I mentioned this to the mother of one of my students, as I knew she was a dentist, and she advised me to come in to her office.  After a thorough exam, the sweet dentist explained the problem to me but it was it was communicated in very rapid Spanish!  This was a big “problemo” because my Spanish was not so great so I shrugged and agreed to whatever she said, desperate for relief from the pain

A few hours later, she was still trying to extract the tooth which involved her knee to my chest (NO joke) as she used an “extractor”(which looked more like a pliers!) to rip the tooth from my mouth.  She eventually called over her husband (also a dentist) and he held me down while she gave me another shot then tried again (and finally got it out).  The last thing I remember that day was noticing the blood all over my shirt and walking into the waiting room where my friend that brought me was waiting.  I gave her a shaky smile and said, “I feel a little woozy...” before I slid to the floor in a dead-faint.

Fast-forward ten years to another dentist visit (this time in the good ol’ US of A, thank God!) where he examined the tooth-replacement my Mexican dentist had put in and declared it was terrible with an infection to boot.  This also caused the adjacent tooth to require a root canal!  I agreed both the root canal and to get the botch job extracted so long as he promised not to pin me down with his knee if it got “stuck”! 

Fortunately the botch job got fixed; however, unfortunately, that root canal went south so I landed in the hospital for an oral surgery procedure that also failed (it’s rather amazing at this point that I had any teeth left!).  In fact, during this last surgery, a nerve nicknamed the “suicide-nerve” (imagine why!) was accidentally severed and the effect of this spiraled me into over two years of constant head pain ("My Megaphone of Pain" blog).

Although my friends and family and I never stopped praying for my healing during those two years, it was just an ordinary day at an ordinary Bible study with some girlfriends who grouped together and laid their hands on me and prayed again when I suddenly received inexplicable healing, aka, a miracle!  Since all the doctors we had seen during those years had said there was NO cure for what had happened to me and nothing that could stop the non-stop pain (think: migraines on steroids 24/7), we were left without human hope but still held on to a hope beyond this earthly realm.  And God showed up.

The morning after that ordinary-turned-extraordinary day, I woke up with a new sense of the gift of life.  I no longer viewed everything (at the time I was a stay-at-home mom with three young children) through the foggy lens of pain: I was free and full of gratitude...and a little gun-shy of dentists.

Fast forward another few years to a rainy day last week when I walked into a dentist (tooth pain, yet again!) on shaky legs.

After I donned the ugly shades and the dentist examined my aching tooth he declared the unthinkable, “Root canal!”  While he left to get his drill, I frantically searched for a paper-bag to hyperventilate into!  I tried to think happy thoughts but the memories of my encounters at the dentist all came rushing into my mind in techni-color brilliance.  

I freaked.

The gentle, smiling hygienist got wide-eyed when she walked back in and discovered me in a fetal-position in the chair, crying my eyes out.  She cocked her head at me (no doubt thinking: this scares you and you just told me you have five kids under 6 years old at home?!) and I quickly explained my nightmarish dental experiences from the last decade.  When I ended with my experience with the non-stop, incurable head pain I had struggled with for two years, she leaned in,

“So, how did the pain ever stop?”

“It was a miracle,” I wiped away a tear and smiled, in spite of the scary dental tools laid out between us on that darn little wheely-table, “God healed me after some girlfriends prayed for me.  There is no other explanation.”

Her mouth dropped, “Wow.  I just got goose-bumps.”  With that, we chatted about God.  I had a chance to share a little about my Saviour and His pure-awesomeness with someone that I probably wouldn’t have ever had a chance to if I hadn’t been through dentist-hell!

In fact, by the time the dentist returned, my panic-attack had left.  Instead, I was smiling on the inside (since I couldn’t on the outside with my mouth propped wide open!) about the way God uses messy people like me.  When I thought I was at my worst (a supposedly “strong” mother melting down over a little root-canal), God showed up at His best and used me anyway.

Though I still don’t like going to the dentist, here’s to hoping there is a dental hygienist out there that is giving God a second chance tonight because of the testimony of a panicking mom who shared about his amazing, saving grace...even through her ridiculous tears.