Friday, October 28, 2011


I make decisions everyday. Some are big, some are not so big. Some are wrong, some are right. Some are either wrong or right based on the information available at any given moment. That is what I tell myself . . . but, the truth is that sometimes the decisions I make are just wrong. There is no way to sugarcoat the facts - sometimes, I mess up, and I mess up BIG.

I'd like to find a way to justify my actions, to say I'm sorry for the havoc I wreak . . . but that would mean that I could also find a way to change the actions or decisions I make. Sadly, I can't take back what I've already done . . . and that leads to trouble.

Everytime I throw my hands up in frustration and walk away from a disagreement is echoed in how my 13 year old handles her life.

Everytime I tell a little white lie, maybe to save face for myself, or to justify a decision that was flawed is echoed back at me in excuses for why homework isn't done.

Everytime I try to "rob peter to pay paul" comes back secondfold to haunt me . . . and to make me realize, yet again that the only decisions I should be making are the ones that are honest, thought out and made with my family.

I feel like I walk on eggshells around my family a lot of the time, because I'm afraid that decisions made in the past will come back around . . . and most of the time they do.

I do the laundry, I cook the meals, I put my life into a jar to be opened at a later date. I'd love to put away the lies, the fears and the trouble for later as well , but I know that if I do that what I open up will be filled with bitterness and regret.

There is only so much regret that a person can carry around until a breaking point happens. Then, there are tears and apologies and promises . . . which are only as good as the moment.

Trouble comes from lies, from hiding behind excuses, from not wanting to face reality. For me trouble comes with trying to keep up with the the expectations that I feel I am obligated to. Be the best mom, the best friend, the best hostess . . . the best. But I can't be and then my life becomes a lie - and trouble comes along. So - how do I change tomorrow?

I will tell myself, my family and my friends that honesty is the best policy. Always. No matter what. I will tell them that they are worth more than what they do. I will tell them that filling up days and nights with keeping busy means that days and nights are meaningless and empty. I will tell them that love will keep us all going - no matter what. I will tell them that love will fill their hearts and not make them yearn for the things that cause trouble.

I will tell them that the trouble caused is not worth the effort put into it. That life is more than what we can see at the moment, that living for the moment only causes trouble.

I honestly hate the trouble I cause.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


A few years ago I particpated in a communication class. Our instructor told us that one of the most dangerous words in our vocabulary was the word "should" As in, you and I should never tell another person what that person should do. We were told that effective communicators always used the words "could" and would". We were instructed to delete the word "should" from our daily vocabulary. It seems that telling a person what they should do seems high handed and judgemental and leaves people feeling . . . well, I guess like they should be doing something. It seems to convey a sense of duty or obligation . . . is that so wrong??

So, I have tried to avoid the word "should" in most occasions. I have learned, since that communication class, that there are also other words that (should) could be avoided on a daily basis, especially if you are a parent and are attempting to communicate effectively with a captive audience of children. Below is the list of dangerous words in our house. These words are almost guaranteed to start a tantrum, even if they are not used in the same sentence as "should". Here we go . . .

Clean. As in please clean up your own mess. Please clean up your laundry. Please clean up after your pet. Please, wipe your own pee from the toilet seat. Please clean up your belongings from the car. No matter the context clean is a dangerous word in our house.

Homework. As in do you have homework? Do you need help with your homework? Did you turn in your homework? This is word fraught with danger.

Lights. As in did you turn out the lights in your room, the bathroom, the hallway. Do you want to pay the power bill? Did you turn on this light in the middle of the day? Why is the porch light on? Etc.

Feed. As in did you feed the cats? Did you feed the chickens? Did you feed the dog? This request is often coupled with water. Did you give the above mentioned animals water? Or, did you feed the kids? What, you don't know what they eat? Well, what do you eat . . . feed them the same thing!

Sex. With one teenage girl, one tween and two younger children in the house - who got here, btw, because their parental units had sex, you would think that sex wouldn't be taboo. Oh, but it is! My hubby and I are instructed on a daily basis to please not use the words penis, vagina, tampon, breasts, sex or anything that could be construed as sexual around the tender ears of our children. Sheesh, what else is there to talk about. I mean really has anyone listened to any current forms of music these days?

I could go on and I on, but I feel I should stop now. I think you all get the picture. For the sake of my sanity, could you please share a list of safe words? I think I might need them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crack Pot

Crocked, by definition (according to the Oxford American Dictionary) means: drunk. Fun, if not very practical. If you look above the word crocked in the dictionary you can find the word crock which is defined as a piece of earthenware pottery.

I know many, many people who collect crocks - some of them are in high demand and fetch high prices. They are mainly used these days as decorations, or as storage. I myself have a couple of crocks that I use to store potatoes - just like my mom did in her pantry.

Crock - in my mind also means a crock pot. I was very, very wary of using a crock pot when I first got married. Mainly because whenever my mom made dinner in the crockpot there was some sort of cream of mushroom soup added and the color always reminded me of baby poop. Also, I wasn't sure that I trusted that what I put into the pot would come out the same . . . and not look like baby poop. Plus, how can you be sure that an appliance left all day on the counter will not catch the house on fire? The first few times I used the crock put I put in into the sink - just be sure it wouldn't burn the house down.

Sure, I had lots of friends who rave about their crock pots and their wonderful meals - I thought for sure they were crack pots.

Then, I slowly began to investigate how to cook in a crock pot - and I quickly fell in love with this easy kitchen tool. Who knew that spaghetti sauce, simmered all day in the crock pot would be oh so good. And, did you know that you can make chili in the crock pot and it is warm and yummy at the end of a tiring day - and your kiddos will slurp it up? I confess, I became a bit of a crack pot over my crock pot.

I tried to convince one of my good friends that crock pot cooking was the way to go. I mean, really, she is living in a barn with only a bbq and wants to be able to feed her family - but she wasn't convinced that the crock pot was the way to go.

Last week, another friend and I enticed her into coming over to cook and chat. We gave her a grocery list - and then we all laughed and talked and sent her home with a crock pot filled with yummy chicken. She called me today to tell me how much she loved the chicken. We chatted for a bit. Then, she called back and left me a message saying that she just bought a crockpot at the store. It came with ingredients to make chili. She is thrilled. So I am. I've just converted another crack pot!

Here is our favorite crock pot recipe.

One package of chicken - depending on the size of your family. We like to use drumsticks and thighs in this recipe. They are cheap and the I think having the bone in the chicken adds more flavor when it is slow cooked.

Quarter an onion and place it into the bottom of the crockpot. Then, put your chicken over the top of the onion.

In a bowl mix together 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 small can of chipoltle peppers in adobo sauce, on large can of either diced tomatos or tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons of worchestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons of seasoning salt and about 1 teaspoon of cumin. Mix the above ingredients well, then pour over the chicken and onions in the crock pot. Set heat to high for about 6 hours - then low for about two hours.

You can serve this with rice - or you can shred the chicken and serve it on buns with coleslaw - kinda like a sloppy joe.

Get crocked my friends - you will like it!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Worth Sharing

Some things in life are worth sharing. Time. Sunshine. Laughter. Love. Friends. Family. And, sometimes sharing means that you share your time and love with your family and also your friends.

My immediate family consists of my darling hubby and our four kiddos. Then we have my parents, his parents, his sister and her kiddos, my sisters, my brother . . . and the list goes on and on.

I'm not that close or friendly with my siblings - partly because there is a bit of an age difference. My brother graduated from high school the year I was adopted . . . and the sister that is older than him I hardly knew growing up. My brother and my oldest sister married and had kids before I graduated from high school. I always felt like I had to catch up - to find something in common . . . but it is hard. And as the years have gone by it has gotten harder as their children have had children - and as I became a mother. Sometimes it feels like it is hard to share our lives.

To get back to the sharing topic - I enjoyed a wonderful day last Friday with two women who I adore and respect. We cooked and laughed and began numerous conversations - we left laughing with two completed meals and a number of unfinished conversations that we hope to take up again next week. The sharing of recipes and cooking stories reminded me that one of my kiddos fave breakfast recipes was passed down to me from my oldest sister. And, I'm sure she doesn't even realize that I have the recipe - or that my kiddos have loved it for years. But, everytime I make these muffines I think of her .

I have a picture of her in my mind. She is sitting in the home ec room at high school - probably bored out of her mind - learning how to cook breakfast muffins. I have seen pictures of her high school years - she wore here hair in the style that was popular - and I always seem to picture her wearing green - not sure why.

Anyway - when I was in high school and looking for something to make for breakfast my mom gave me a recipe for "French Breakfast Puffs". I made them and loved them, and I asked my mom where she found the recipe. She told me my sister had made them at school and had shared the recipe. My mom gave me the recipe and I've made these muffins a couple of times a month for the past 15 years. Truthfully - I've made these muffins more times than I've talked to my sister. But, I still think of her when I bake them - and when my kids ask where I got the recipe, I proudly tell them my sister gave it to me.

French Breakfast Puffs (with some modifications of the original recipe, which called for Bisquick)

Puffs (preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease 12 muffin cups)

3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Cream the sugar and shortening, then add the eggs. Add the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and milk and mix well. Spoon into muffin tins - about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden.

To make the topping melt 2 sticks of butter. Put the melted butter into a bowl that is deep enough to dunk the muffins into. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with 3 teaspoons cinnamon into another bowl that is deep enough to dunk the muffins into. When the muffins have cooled a bit, dip each one into the butter then into the cinnamon - sugary mix. Eat while still warm and enjoy.

Thanks sister.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Today I woke up to fog. And, to be honest I was in a fog. I recently discovered the wonders of ear plugs, which block out the sounds of my hubby when he snores himself to sleep. The downside of the ear plugs is that he has to shake me awake. And, most mornings I'm not ready to wake up - hence the fog.

So, this morning, after being shaken awake so that I could tell my hubby goodbye for a couple of days, I attempted to retrieve some of my share of the bed covers from my 7 year old snuggler. No luck, so I stumbled out of bed in search of some sunshine and a diet coke. Couldn't find the sun, but I did find the diet coke I had hidden from my 13 year old daughter the night before. Success!

Then, I looked outside to see fog everywhere. It was laying on the fields close to the house, heavy and gray and wet looking. Blech! I would have gone back to bed, but the girls needed to catch the bus, and the littles needed a ride to school. Got the lunches packed and the girls off to the bus. Who knew it was wear pink day at school? Not me - but my 13 year old daughter had to go back to the house to get all decked out in pink . . . really?

Anyway, got the girls off to the bus stop, came back home to get the little kids ready for school - they were happy and eager to go. Got in the car . . . and drove into the fog. My son asked me lots of questions about fog and I tried my best to answer them - then all of the sudden we saw sunshine . . . it was beautiful.

The moment reminded me that today, was just like yesterday. I mean the kids, the conditions and everything were the same - just without the fog. When I saw the sunlight I was so happy to come out of the fog. The only difference was that today I was happy to see the sun - I didn't take the day for granted , like I do most other days. So thank you heavy, gray, dull fog - you helped me see the day for what it was - a wonderful gift!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Do More

My father-in-law recently had a heart procedure. He had not been feeling well, thought it was an asthma attack, but it ended up being 90% blockage in the left side of his heart. A couple of stints later he is home. He feels good, but realizes he has to change his lifestyle and his diet. He feels like he has to do more.

What? I talked to him on the phone a few days ago and he told me he had just been hanging around the house, looking at the birds and that the day was a waste because he didn't get anything done. He needs to do more. I told him that it was okay to just take a day to hang out. Our lives shouldn't be measured by the things we do . . . right? We should be able to hang out and enjoy the autumn days, right? Nope, he said - he didn't get anything done and that makes him feel restless, and lazy and well . . . a bit worthless. Because he didn't do more.

That conversation started a thought process in my brain. Why, when our lives are so busy and crowded and filled with noise and business, can't we just sit back and enjoy life?

My hubby and I had an argument earlier today - I was in the wrong. Later, when I was helping him build fence he asked me what I liked about myself today. I listed all the things I had done, and told him I needed to do more. He just looked at me and said" No, that isn't what I asked. What do you like about yourself today? You don't have to do more."

I always think I have to do more. More laundry, more canning, more weeding, more mothering, more being a friend . . . the list goes on and on. Why? So I can list on Facebook all of the things I have accomplished? So, when I am visiting with friends I can one-up them that I do more? Oh, soooo stupid, this need to do more.

Like my father-in-law, I am caught up in the trap of do more. It becomes difficult to relax and enjoy the moment when I am always looking to do more. At the end of the day I'm not sure anyone cares if I do more - because all my kids care about is if I did enough. And, most days I do.