Category Archives: Parenting

Whimsical tales and tips that can make you laugh or give you ideas to use in your own home.

Making a Difference One Step at a Time

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My fellow readers, I have to share this post from my dear friend Raelenna Ferguson.  This will be my first guest speaker, and I can’t think of a greater honor to bestow.  Raelenna, along with her wonderful husband Jeremy Ferguson, is bringing about change in our community.  Change is always hard, but a necessary matter in life, especially if you want to see progress and unity.  No matter if the change is big or small (but this will be epic), the heart of this particular project has Jesus holding the wheel.  I hope you are able to take time and read this piece of beautiful transformation and learn how two individuals are making great changes to unite one another with love, compassion, and understanding.  All in “One City” of Cape Girardeau. 

Here we go…

The biggest dream yet – One City.

April 23, 2017 by Raelenna Ferguson

“I want you to start something like this” those are the words I heard.

Jeremy and I were standing in a worship service at Austin New Church, the church founded by Brandon and Jen Hatmaker. The music was incredible (I mean it’s Austin, funky cool people and awesome music) but it wasn’t the music that God was talking about when He spoke those words into my head. It was the culture around us, it was the mix of people, it was the colors of the people worshipping together, it was the ages, it was the different style and ways each person was worshipping, the unity and sense of togetherness. It was the freedom and feeling of true community in the atmosphere that day that took my breath away.

During the rest of the service I quietly and internally panicked. I was determined to not tell anyone what I just heard in my head. I was terrified that God had just spoke into me and called us to plant a church and the last thing on my life plan would be to start a church, and by last I mean VERY last thing. So I decided I would tuck that little nugget away and keep it tight and safe, telling no one not even Jeremy.

Service ended and we headed to our rental car so we could hit up downtown Austin before flying home that night. As soon as we got in the car I could tell something was up with Jeremy. He just looked off and I was afraid to ask, so I didn’t. I didn’t have to. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said I heard something in that service (my inner voice was like well crap or maybe something worse). He said I heard “I want you to start something like this”. There it was, the exact same 8 words I heard he had heard at the exact same point in the service I did.

I would love to tell you that sitting in our rental car in that school parking lot after we knew without a doubt that we just heard a calling from the Lord that there was all kinds of magical feelings of excitement and trumpets were blowing. Nope nothing like that, actually the exact opposite. I sort of lost my mind and started spitting stupidness out of my mouth, lots of selfishness and lots of whining and crying about how this is not what I want in this phase of life. How I don’t really even like church, how I had been a pastor’s wife before and it didn’t work out real good for me. Do you see the pattern of the “me” and the “I” here? Again, at this point we both really felt it was a calling to start a church. I knew I would be obedient, but I had made up my mind I was going to go kicking and screaming.

God was very gracious with us after that morning, even that night our flight was canceled and we had to stay in Austin another night. It was actually perfect, we had an extra night away from real life and could be alone together and process and sort of wrap our heads around what was happening. We had some more time to capture our thoughts and realize maybe it wasn’t the literal version of a church God was calling us to, maybe it was a new way of doing community together with the church.

We came home from Austin on a soul journey. It was game time, we both knew it. What the Lord spoke to us was not a prophetic word for 10 years down the road, it was for now. The time was now! We met with our pastors and shared what had happened, we wanted them to know first because we knew we would either be leaving our church to start a new one or we would be starting something new that hopefully our church would want to be part of.

One thing Jeremy and I knew when God said to us both “I want you to start something like this” he meant diversity. He meant relationships, connections and life with people that look different than us. He meant people lifting each other up, sharing life and resources, coming together as one, as a true community. We knew this because we had already felt this conviction for a while, that our world was very white and very homogenous, that we had no friends of color. Three things really hit us hard: First, we have an adopted African American daughter who has no one that looks like her in her life. Secondly, we have no one in our life that looks different than us. Three, there are needs in our community and we know people with resources. We need to figure out ways to connect the dots

Here’s one thing about me, I may kick and scream for a little bit about something I don’t want to do, even when I know the Lord is calling me to it. But once I become obedient, I am all in. It didn’t take too long and both Jeremy and I were going all in.

We knew we had to start forming relationships and friendships within our diverse community. We knew without a shadow of a doubt it was time for us to get around people who did not look like us, more than anything to learn and just listen. We knew we needed to get to know and hear from our neighbors who live in different socioeconomic areas of town than we do. God was stretching us more and more and challenging us. We began having hard conversation with people. Have you ever had to have a super awkward conversation with anyone? Like just plain uncomfortable and out of your comfort zone? Well that is just what Jeremy and I had to start doing. Yet, through these uncomfortable phone calls or meetings we have been met with grace and love and the same desire to get to know our community as a whole without preconceived racial or economic barriers. It has been refreshing, inspiring, fun and so very hopeful.

We know God has been preparing us to lead this new calling for many years, we can go back a full decade and see His hand all over this. It has became more and more evident as we have dug in deeper on this journey of searching out what the Lord was calling us to. A little bit of this is shared on the Behind the Scenes page of the One City website. (can be found here: http://onecityunite.org/the-team/)

There is a lot more to this story and many details that have been perfectly orchestrated, one day I may put the entire story into words. For now I want to share a few personal things and how God confirmed One City very specifically to me. I journal almost daily, every morning I wake up before everyone else and write out my thoughts, my prayers, my dreams and just anything that comes to my mind. When we were praying about this new possibility for our community I decided to go back and read some of my very old journals, specifically looking for direction or confirmation.

What I found in my journals were paragraphs and paragraphs of me asking God to show me my place in this city, over and over again. Asking him to reveal ways for our family to serve and make a difference together. I have one specific prayer in my journal asking God to please reveal our purpose and mission to Jeremy and I at the exact same time (hello Austin). There are prayers of empathy and determination, prayers of frustration and fears. It’s all there in my own words, in my own handwriting, almost a decade of searching and asking.

I am sharing a few pictures of my journal entries that have been confirmation to my hesitant heart. While re-reading my journals I found things I don’t even remember writing or feeling. I also found my heart was stirred for our community as far back as 2007. I found where I had journaled the name One City and how it had came to me while vacuuming my floor one day in 2013, with no idea what it was meant for, until it was revealed this year. Back in 2013 when our church did the Circle Maker series by Mark Batterson. One City was the name I wrote inside my circle for 21 days, without an hint of what would be coming 4 years later. Isn’t it crazy 4 years ago God gave me the name One City with no other instructions. I was actually so confident that that name would mean something one day that I went straight to godaddy.com and bought the domain, again 4 years ago. Then I sort of forgot about it, until God spoke again 2 years ago when this whole new adventure was beginning. We knew without a doubt the name was One City and our mission would be to unite our city as ONE. I hope you go check out our website, sign up to stay in the loop and get involved!! We are excited and hopeful and we would be lying if didn’t say we weren’t a little bit scared…taking one step at a time and walking in faith and settling for nothing less than unity in Jesus.

To see some great pictures of how this all began, I encourage you to visit the website of “One City” and discover just how amazing this is for our community.  Perhaps your own community could benefit from the inspiration!  

http://www.raelennaferguson.com

Be sure to go read the short story and also visit our [One City] full website http://www.onecityunite.org. Sign up to stay connected and ways to get involved and follow us on social media. One City needs you.

We are ONE–Ephesians 4:4-6 T’here is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

I encourage you all to take a look at this endeavor and learn how you can make a difference in your own community.

Until next time,

Cheers!

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How the Cat ‘Rocked’ the Boat

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I don’t know how many of your mornings begin, but I felt I had to write about the way mine started today.  If your house is anything like ours, mornings are not a great adventure. They are very stressful with people running around like crazy, clothes flying everywhere, and someone usually leaves without brushing their teeth.  Why getting two kids and myself ready for school is stressful is beyond my comprehension, but it is (of course a snooze alarm has everything to do with the situation).

So, as I sleepily stumbled into my daughter’s room this morning, the haze of slumber suddenly lifted.  Why you ask?  There was a crime scene.  Now, before I go forward with this tale, I need to back up a bit.  My daughter has a very inquisitive mind, and she recently acquired a rock collection.  This particular collection came with twenty or so different types of rocks which make up all those lovely gemstones you learned about in freshman earth science, or the kind you see at family vacation gift shops.  Each pretty little stone was nestled delicately in a plastic tray, accompanied by a book to explain about rock formations and information regarding each stone.  And this collection was something very special to my daughter, and she was proud of her collection.  I was proud of it for her!

Another thing you should know is my daughter has a cat named Cookie.  This was a rescue kitten she begged to bring home after helping out at a friend’s veterinarian office last year.  She nursed this kitten and took it under her maternal wing, so of course, the cat was going to become a family pet.  How does one argue with humanitarianism? And I am a sucker for any baby animal that has fur.  The cat also sleeps with my daughter, every night, and completely tears up her room while she peacefully rests.  If you know anything about cats, they are the laziest creatures on earth.  I think a slug accomplishes more than a cat does in one day.  Our cat is no exception, and he chooses to sleep all day and spend several hours each night running around the house or climbing anything that stands still.  He also destroys things because of his “Feline Ninja” obstacle course.  So last night my daughter brought her newly acquired rock collection upstairs to keep safely on her dresser…along with her precocious cat.

Now that you know the background, you might be able to piece together the details of the crime scene I witnessed as I tried to get my daughter up for school this morning.  As I walked into her room and turned on the lights, I noticed several of those precious little gems sprawled all over her floor, and the case had even more missing.  Panic started to set in as sleep hastily left my foggy brain.  Oh. My. Gosh.  All those rocks are not in their properly labeled spots, and I have no idea where they all go, or if I can find them!  What if the cat ate one?  Will I be hovering over the litter box for the next few days?  She saw my horrified expression before I could mask it and play the entire thing off.  Can you blame me?  I had not even had the first drop of coffee!

“My rocks! Noooooooo!” she wailed to me, tears beginning to well in her eyes.  Oh Lord, no.  Not right now when we have exactly twenty-five minutes to get dressed, get breakfast, make lunch and get out the door on time.  I console her and say I will look for the rocks on the floor and she should begin getting dressed.  Now, for those of you reading this and who know me, you probably also know that I HATE to loose things.  I hate losing puzzle pieces, game pieces, pairs of socks, and even lego pieces (crazy, I know).  So I really can’t figure out whose face was more horrified when seeing the overturned rock tray, myself or my daughter!  My obsessive-compulsive mind started to take over and I could feel the urgency to start looking.  My husband walks in and I tactfully pretend to be helping get my daughter ready while picking up rocks, but I was also going back and forth between standing and lying on the ground, trying to find the rocks.  Argh, I needed to get dressed too, though!!! Deep breath, I know I will find them.  So let’s focus on the immediate task at hand; getting ready for school.

As my first-born child sniffled and whimpered her way through the morning routine, I found myself ignoring this logical piece of advice, and instead found myself sprawled flat on the ground, scouring under every piece of furniture in her room, plucking up tiny pieces of semi-precious stones, old jelly beans (gross), and pieces of golf ball-sized lint.  Some rocks were trapped under her dresser, so I had to get a long stick to reach them and pull them out of their dusty grave.  While I am doing this, the culprit to the crime decided to join me.  Here comes Cookie the Cat.  Cats have this innate ability to give you a look of utter disdain no matter what the case.  They sneer their whiskers at you, subtly letting you know you are the dumbest thing that ever walked the planet, all while playing with a dust bunny from under the rug.  This is exactly what Cookie did to me while I am belly down on the ground in my pajamas, trying to solve a huge crisis before going downstairs to get breakfast made and a lunch packed.  Oh wait, I still need to get dressed too.

I turn my head to the side while elbowing through the trenches of my nine-year-old’s room, and there he is, poised like the Sphinx in Egypt.  I peered into Cookie’s yellow eyes while they bored holes into my soul.  I knew he was laughing inwardly because this cat KNOWS the entire scene is his fault.  He knocked over the tray and decided to play “rock hockey” all night long in my daughter’s room.  He also knows I will spend every waking minute looking for each and every stinking rock until that tray is completely restored.  Yep, he has become the Cheshire Cat from “Alice and Wonderland.”  Cat, score one thousand eighty-four; human still has a score of zero.

Needless to say, after endless searching and telling the cat to kiss off a few times, I eventually did find all the rocks.  I was forced stop halfway through the rescue and recovery process this morning because I HAD to get dressed and get things ready to go since I needed to drive the kids to school.  But the minute I came home I found myself wading through dust bunnies and dead ladybugs trying to rescue each and every rock that was lost.  I succeeded, and all the rocks came home safe and sound.  Not sure my daughter appreciated the means to get this task accomplished, but that is okay.  All my socks, I mean rocks, were safely home and in their proper place.  The world was right, and the cat continued to prey the weak and lonely in our home, unmoved by all the drama he created this morning.  Come on, he’s a cat and he doesn’t give a lick.

If you have a cat or a dog, you can probably appreciate how fast they can raise the household terror level to red.  But they are a part of the family, and now my daughter knows she needs to put anything special and small under lock and key so the cat doesn’t try to break in and destroy.  Little life lessons learned in under twenty minutes, and I still had time to make a to-go cup of coffee.  Life is good, and I hope you can find humor in some of the curveballs life throws you this weekend.

Until next time,

Cheers

 

Kale Salad with a Twist

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It has been a while since I last posted anything on this blog.  Between Easter holidays and a never-ending schedule of activities, writing has taken a back burner in my life.  But, yesterday I found myself at home doing some editing and decided I needed some good greens in my life.  That morning I had mad a quick run to the store and picked up a few of my favorite staples, such as lacinato kale and fresh avocados.  For a healthy lunch, without any animal protein, I created a salad I will definitely be making again in the future.

The ingredients for this salad are as follows:

  • 3 leaves of lacinato kale, ribs removed, sliced or torn
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 4 or 5 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/3 of an English cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 of red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 can of organic black beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup of edamame, shelled
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley, curly or flat leaf is fine

I gathered my ingredients in a bowl and then made the dressing, which was the juice of half a lemon, 1/4 cup of really good extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1 or 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 clove of finely chopped garlic, salt, and pepper to taste.  I mixed up the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and tasted it before pouring on my salad.  If you feel it needs a little more of one of the ingredients, adjust to your liking.  Everyone has different tastes, so make it your own!

I tossed the ingredients together and then just ate it straight out of the mixing bowl.  It was so yummy and I felt like I was really giving my body some good ingredients.  The kale is like food for superheroes.  It is amazing what this green leafy vegetable gives the body, like provide iron, calcium, Vitamin C, and even protein.  Avocado gave me really healthy fats, as did the good olive oil.  Good fat can be your friend, and your body needs it to function daily.  The parsley and cucumber are good for detoxifying and parsley can help your breath.  The black beans and edamame gave me the needed protein to help me stay full longer and build lean muscle.  Tomatoes provide lycopene, and they added a nice texture to the salad.

What I didn’t finish yesterday I ate again today for lunch and it was even better.  The dressing helped break down the kale leaves, making them more tender.  So, the longer it sits to marinate, the better the outcome.  But I wouldn’t go over a day in the fridge because you want the ingredients to be as fresh as possible.

Hope you enjoy my latest inspiration in the kitchen!

Until next time,

Cheers!

The Unexpected Leading to the Uncorked

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A pile of used wine corks.

I had an interesting experience this weekend with my two children, and as I flesh this piece out you will hopefully empathize a bit with me here.  To start with, my husband’s family lost an aunt a few days ago and we had to travel north towards St. Louis for the funeral.  It was going to be a short ceremony so the hubs and I figured it would be fine to let the kids come.  Other family members were going and they don’t get to see the kids much anyway, so what the heck, right?

Now, I don’t know how many of you out there have attended a funeral with children.  But let me just break it down a bit for you here.  My 9-year-old daughter had a thousand questions about it all, and my son was just wanting to know when it was over so he could talk again.  In actuality, I was very proud of my children and how they behaved.  I also thought it very intuitive of my daughter to be so inquisitive about the entire “death process.”  Neither of my children showed timidity when it was our turn to step up and stand next to the casket.  My son, who is 5, made a few loose comments and then just sat down in the front row and waited for the rest of us to do our thing.  I don’t think he really understood what was going on, to be quite honest.

My daughter, on the other hand, knew exactly what was happening,  Unfortunately, her life has already endured two funerals, both for her grandfathers, and they were under a year apart.  So she has a better grasp of death, and all the ramifications it has on a person, after watching my husband and I go through those experiences.  But this funeral was not like those, and she felt more open to ask questions and try to understand what this whole “bury the dead” entailed.

I chuckled a little bit to myself when I had to keep telling her not to touch her great-aunt. I mean, you don’t see that one every day!  “Mom, there is a bug that keeps flying around on her face!”  I told her just let it be and come sit down.  “No, mom.  I need to get it off.”  At this point I was gently grabbing her arm, trying to tug her in my direction towards the seats.  “Mom…”  Oh Lord, here we go again.  “Today’s April Fool’s Day, so are you sure this isn’t a prank?”  If I could insert the “smack my head” emoji here, I totally would because that is exactly how I felt.  I am pretty sure China heard her ask this question.  Suddenly my mind blasted a picture of this lovely woman, who was resting peacefully in her casket, sit up and yell out “just kidding!”  I guess that is what you expect when you take kids to things like this.  You go in holding your breath that nothing odd or disrespectful is said, but that gets squashed the first five minutes you walk in the door.

Just when I thought I had pulled my daughter away, she was right back up there by the casket, examining every nook and cranny.  Swiftly walking towards her I see her suddenly take one of the poor woman’s fingers and lift it up! Now I am almost running, in heels, towards my daughter while saying her name under my breath so it doesn’t echo throughout the room.  I didn’t want to be harsh because I know she was just curious, but heaven help me if someone saw her do it.  My husband saw it happen too, and he was closer to intervene.  Luckily at this point, we finally had everyone sit down so we could start the service.  Once we were graveside, my daughter then wanted to know about the pallbearers and how that all worked.  Then it was investigating the final resting place and the ground around it.  The questions never stopped and my husband and I tried to answer them as best we could.

In the grand scheme of things, it was a lovely ceremony and I have a feeling our aunt would have chuckled a bit at my daughter’s impertinence.  You just never know what you are going to get when you have children with you.  But I do know you have to just laugh it off and chuck it up as a good story to tell when she is older.  Parenting is such an endeavor and so hard, but also so fun and rewarding.  Stories like this remind me what fun children can be, and how innocent and beautiful their minds are compared to ours.  The tarnish of reality and age have not set in on how they view the world, and I find myself a bit envious of it all.

After getting through the day’s events, I thought it appropriate to open a nice bottle of wine from my dad’s collection.  I know he would have gotten a big kick out of the entire ordeal and all the questions my daughter asked yesterday.  I have this warm feeling that both my dad and my father-in-law are chuckling together in heaven, basking in the wonder of their granddaughter.

Once we made it safely home, I decided it was a great night to open up some wine.  Can you blame me on this one?  My head was still spinning a bit from the deluge of funeral and death questions.  I figured the wine I chose was going to be done Russian Roulette style.  The day had sort of held that theme.  I picked a 1990 Newton Cabernet Sauvignon from California.  It was delicious, and I am still drinking on it today as I compose this piece.

For a wine that is 27 years old, it still holds up.  But I think I need to see if other bottles are lurking around because it needs to be drunk.  With notes of blackberry and vanilla, the wine smelled so good after I opened it.  On the palate, the tannins mellowed out and had a slightly bitter taste, but in a good way.  Something you would expect, perhaps, from a wine like this.  The only thing I found lacking was the taste finished very short, so that is probably why it needs to be drunk now.

It still amazes me how wine holds up after so many years, kind of like parents.  We get through the battles and have a few scars.  But in the end, we tend to mellow out and enjoy the wonders life has to offer.  Whatever life brings your way, I hope you can at least enjoy the moment, perhaps with a glass of your favorite wine.

Until next time,

Cheers!

 

 

Measuring Our Success

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston S. Churchill

How do you measure success?  I was asked this last week as I sat in church and listened to the sermon.  Our pastor probed the congregation to think about our lives and how we feel it measures against success when we meet our Creator.  I have to admit, it made me think a bit about success, all it encompasses, and what I feel is a good measure.  Look around you and you will find all kinds of “measurements” in our daily life.  We measure ourselves by numbers.  The size of clothes, numbers on a scale, level of IQ; we all get caught up in the enormity of a number.  But does this really measure our worth and value in the world?

For example, take the common household scale.  I hate scales, by the way, for many reasons, and I hardly ever step on one unless my doctor makes me do it.  First off, people tend to focus too hard on a scale and live and breathe by the very number they see each morning when they weigh.  I did this once upon a time in my life and swore I would never do it again after it nearly destroyed me.  Now, I do know scales have a time and place in everyone’s world, but why do we feel the need to put so much emphasis on them? Why do we see the number that pops up on a tiny dial merits our success for that particular day?  For the severely overweight or the person struggling to overcome starving their bodies, a scale can be seen as the devil himself.  Each time they step upon the two footpads, panic can rise in the throat, or dread and shame will pull its dark curtain down.  Scales, another way to measure how well we are doing or how much we are failing for the day.

The same goes with clothing sizes.  I am sure I am not the first person, man or woman, who has cringed when trying on clothes in a store, hoping the size we hold is actually the size that fits. That magic number we strive for, whatever it may be for the day, sits in our hands like Cinderella’s glass slipper.  And when it doesn’t fit, we knock ourselves down as we humbly ask the store’s employee for a different, perhaps larger size.  Or we completely skip that part and just forget the entire article of clothing and walk sullenly away from the dressing room empty-handed.  Why can’t companies figure out a way to label clothing, not by a number, but by phrases like “fabulous” or “savvy?”  How amazing would it be to yell out to the woman tending the dressing rooms that you needed to exchange your size “bombshell” for a size “stunning?”  Am I crazy for wanting to do this?

As I get older and begin to become more comfortable with who I am as a person, I find my measurement of success changes too.  I also feel having kids has helped me take a long, hard look at measuring success.  How do I measure up as a mom?  How am I measuring up spiritually?  Am I hitting the mark as a wife and friend?  Gone are the days when I constantly see success as the size of my jeans or the score on an exam.  It is now measured upon how I interact with the world, and what kind of physical and spiritual mark I am leaving on this side of Heaven.

My goal is to measure success by what I see looking back in the mirror and the values that one face holds for the day.  I strive to remember that our success in life is not based on a slew of various numbers, but instead focuses on the kind of footprint I have the opportunity to leave behind.  My success will be raising two children who are healthy, happy, and spiritually sound in their lives.  My success will hopefully be to show love, to show compassion, and to show respect towards the world and towards the ones I love.  I know failure is inevitable, and human fallacy will take hold more often than I care to admit.  But if I can keep my eye on the “prize” and have the courage to know my mistakes are not final, then surely I have the upper hand in this battle to shatter the things in this world that attempt to pull me down.  In the meantime, I challenge anyone who reads this to rethink the way you measure success and pay it forward to the next person.  All it takes is just a spark of change to turn the world on its head.

Until next time,

Cheers

Reworking Breakfast

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Mornings at my house are hectic and fast-paced.  The minute I open my eyes, and hit snooze for the sixth time, I roll myself out of bed to start the process.  Kids up, kids fed, kids dressed, lunches packed and off they go to school.  

The last thing I seem to have time for is making breakfast for myself.  Some people are not big eaters in the morning, but for this busy mom I need some fuel to keep me going.  Yesterday my family ate breakfast at a local chain restaurant after church.  One item on the menu was called “Eggs in a Basket.” It consisted of an egg cooked in the middle of a piece of bread, then toasted.  It sounded good-but I wanted to see if I could make it a bit healthier. 

So this morning I had a few extra minutes and thought I would give something a whirl.  Here is what I did to make my own version of this restaurant’s “Egg in a Basket.”

I started off using some good olive oil in a small skillet.  I let this heat up a bit on medium-high heat while I tore a couple of leaves of lacinato kale up into tiny pieces. Lacinato kale is not as bitter as traditional curly leaf kale, so I like to use this in my recipes.  I let the leaves crisp up in the olive oil for a minute or two, threw a dash of salt and pepper on it and finished it with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.  

Once the kale was crispy around the edges I pushed it to the sides of the skillet and then cracked one cage-free egg in the middle.  You may need to add more olive oil, depending on how much you started off with and what the kale soaked up.  I let the egg cook to “over medium,” with the whites fully done and the yellow slightly runny.  Then I took the crispy kale and put it on top of my egg. That part of the recipe was finished!

While my egg was cooking, I toasted a piece of brown rice bread.  You can use any bread you like here.  I chose brown rice because of my gluten intolerance.  I used a small section of an avocado to spread on the bread like you would jelly.  Then I placed my cooked egg/kale mixture on top and suddenly had a healthy breakfast cooked in under 10 minutes! 

It was a slightly different version of what I saw on the menu yesterday, but it was definitely just as delicious and a lot healthier! If you are a vegetarian, or have an egg intolerance, you could use some cubed tofu and crisp that up with the kale.  It would make more of a “hash” than using an egg, but it would take the same amount of time and be just as yummy. 

However your morning may begin, taking time to fuel your body for a busy day is a definite priority.  Not only will your tummy be satisfied, but your body will benefit too.  

Cheers and Happy Monday! 

Finding Your Zen Moment

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If you are a fan of 90’s comedy, you may recall the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray.  The entire premise behind this film is repeating the same day over and over again.  As a mom of two, I feel like I LIVE this movie.  The alarm goes off, run downstairs to get liquid fuel (STRONG coffee), kids dressed, kids’ breakfast served, lunches made, kids’ teeth brushed, shoes on then out the door.  Wait, I just locked the door and realized I still am wearing pajamas-what the?!?

How easy it is to find ourselves in a rut that has us doing the same thing over and over again without stopping to smell the roses.  I find it can be the quickest way to drain the happiness tank no matter how positive a person you may be in life.  Going back to my new “journal” on happiness (see previous posts), a couple of lists involved naming things I am really good at and what gets me out of my head.  What gets me out of my head?  My goodness, just going to the bathroom without two children, two dogs and a cat would be a “get me out of my head” moment! But I did contemplate these two things and made myself step outside of my comfort box and really evaluate what I feel I do best and how that helps me “get out of my head.”  Basically, I discovered how many of the things I felt I was really good at doing also helped me find that zen moment.

What really constitutes finding your “zen moment?”  I thought about things that help me find inner peace and calmness.  Yoga, writing, listening to calming music, those are just a few things I listed that help me become relaxed.  You don’t have to sit and meditate to find  zen.  I really think the list was trying to make me realize what I do to find peace and quiet throughout my day.  Tonight it was typing on my computer, drinking a nice glass of wine and burning a candle that smelled of sea salt and jasmine.  There are a million things we could list on paper to help us find inner calm and sanctity.  But why do we forgo such a necessity?  Do we feel guilty for simply discovering what helps us become the best version of ourselves?

I also started thinking about how important it is for women (okay, men too) who work, raise kids or both, to find those moments that have us step outside of our crazy, busy heads and find a moment.  Because doing so will help us be able to focus on and accomplish those things we are considered “good at doing.”  Besides putting down writing as one of my better qualities, I listed being a mom as something I feel good about.  Am I perfect, well, absolutely not!  But I do try hard each day I open my eyes and see the faces of my kids.  I don’t wake up thinking “man, I am going to yell and scream today at every stinking thing my kids do.  Yeah!” No, I really do make a conscious effort to be the best that I can be at whatever role I find myself in for the day.  Always a mom, but perhaps I need to be the friend who listens or the person to give someone a friendly “hello” at the grocery store.  I feel by finding what gets us out of our head and helps make us realize what we are good at can bless the rest of the people we encounter throughout the day.  It creates a sense of positivity and elation, something to be passed along to others around us.  I never really thought about that until I was forced to write it down on paper.

I like the fact I had to sit down and really think about the things which make me who I am without someone else having to point it out for me.  I don’t feel like I am being narcissistic or vain.  I am simply recognizing the gifts God has given me as a human being on this earth and what I can do to help others around me who have other talents I definitely lack.    It creates a sense of how we interact with one another in this world, no matter what role we have in it.  Finding that zen in your day, no matter how short or long it may take, also helps you discover the inner self to make you smile and show the world who you really are in life.  I challenge you to list things you feel you are good at and find things to help you get outside of your head.  And remember to take the time to zen yourself out during a typical busy day or week.  You never know, maybe it will be the key to your own happiness.

Cheers to you all today!

 

 

 

Binging and Purging Social Media

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On a recent trip, I stumbled across a journal. Titled “52 Lists for Happiness,” I purchased it thinking it would help give me inspiration for my writings. I have to admit, much to my own chagrin, that I have enjoyed filling out these lists each week. It gives me small doses to help get my mind going and to hold me responsible for what I think and feel about the world around me. I enjoy engaging my mind on things that make me get out of my comfort zone and stare hard at myself in the mirror. It is a way for me to hold my thoughts and actions accountable.

One list I completed, asking “what makes me happy right now,” forced me to step back and really contemplate what things make me smile. It all involved interacting with friends or family, or doing something hands-on like journaling on this blog. Not once did I write “scroll the newsfeed on Facebook” or “see the latest pictures on Instagram.” Don’t get me wrong here because I use these sites often, especially when it comes to sharing the things I choose to write and publish for the world (A.K.A. my social media friends) to see and hopefully read. But I also think social media has a very dark and convoluted side to it.

As a mom, I often wonder what the impact, both positive and negative, social media will have on my own kids. The benefits are quite obvious, such as connecting to family members from across the country or even across continents. It can be a way to share news and spread viewpoints or ideas. Take this year’s election as an example of how social media can impact viewpoints and leadership roles. A click of a button can send a message for millions to see in an instant. But is there something frightening about the kind of power that simple act can evoke? Do we become so immune to the images displayed across social media that we turn a cheek away from something that could be vitally important to someone else?

I have young kids who are easily influenced by the technologies our society offers. iPads, iPhones, and other devices become habitual in nature instead of picking up a book or grabbing a favorite toy as a form of entertainment. You hear of health implications from so much exposure to technology, ranging from eyesight problems to sleep disturbances. Then you run into the entire genre of cyberbullying, which affects kids of all ages. Did you ever think one day the image of a single eyeball would represent someone tearing down another individual? The power social media can allow a person who enjoys belittling others is astronomical and it is something we will have to battle and endure for decades to come. In the “old days,” that kind of bullying was done in person or on the school bus.

Another side of social media that may not cross many minds is the loss of arts like letter writing and phone conversations. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and texting all have left a void for the younger generations when it comes to communicating with other people. Think about all the different texting lingos we use now that shorten words or phrases. How are we to teach our youth the proper way to write, speak and talk to other individuals when it is so much easier to simply send a “LOL” via smartphone? As a writer, this saddens me to see the beauty of the English languish demolished and destroyed and I wonder if we will continue to produce award-winning poets, authors, and essayists now that we are so dependent on a form of virtual language.

Binging and purging myself of social media the last several months has been therapeutic and liberating. Who knew simply not clicking on an icon could bring such peace and happiness? Do I completely stay off? Of course not because I do like connecting with people I don’t get to see on a regular basis. But I am definitely more conscientious of how much time I devote to my favorite social media applications. And I also am greatly aware of how it can and does already affect my children. I am trying to be more consistent with this mindset and not worry so much about who is doing what on a daily basis. Instead, I just need to focus on my family, make time for my friends and really enjoy the beauty life has to offer through relationships that don’t involve a newsfeed.

How Failure is an Option

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I have had this idea rolling around in my head for a while, the idea about failure and how it pertains to life.  A month ago I had the opportunity to watch the movie “13 Hours,” where the notion of failure was definitely not an option because it meant lives lost.  Failure is not an option for places like the operating room.  But are there instances where failure can lead to success?  Think about all the inventors of the world who used failure as a way to guide themselves to the end solution.  Had these people never made that initial mistake, perhaps half the gadgets we use on a daily basis would be obsolete!

I may need to back up just a bit here because the idea of “failure” occurred a couple of months ago when two friends of mine, during separate conversations, talked about how they decided to let their child “fail” at something.  They were not going to try and sway decisions on life choices or closely monitor and correct every piece of homework.  They had come to the finality that their kids were old enough to know what to do and how to do it.  “Time to stop hand-holding,” was the mantra they were lamenting to me.  Now, these amazing ladies are great moms and I have taken countless advice from them on parenting myself.  So when I heard these two individuals talk about letting go a little and allowing their child to make a mistake I had to stop and take notice.  I had to stop and think about my own ways of parenting and whether I was willing to let failure be an option.

In a society that focuses on perfectionism and never letting the ball drop, tossing around the idea of actually not losing it over a mistake or mishap seems foreign.  I am a perfectionist myself, more so when it comes to my own being, but I also color code my closet and straighten crooked pictures in public places.  But the more I think about this option of “failure,” the more I can see where our kids could benefit from strong-willed parents stepping back and seeing what kinds of decisions our sons and daughters can make on their own.  Now, of course, there has to be sensibility in this idea.  You are not going to let a toddler walk across the street alone or your “tween” daughter hang out by herself at the mall.  But perhaps you stop doing the school projects.  Perhaps stop stepping in the middle of every little tiff at school that may not be as big a deal 24 hours later.  Let your kids gain a sense of control and independence, even if it means the result is not an A or being the most popular one at school.  That in itself could be the golden ticket for getting through life.  Life is hard and full of ups and downs that younger generations seems to not handle as well.  Why not help our kids discover their inner strength and perseverance to use when they pull all-nighters in college or go for the first job interview.  We, as parents, can’t be there to hold their hand through every major event, but teaching them how to draw upon themselves and learn from past “failures” could be the best form of parenting.

I have been watching an online parenting webinar for the past year by Amy McCready (positiveparentingsolutions.com).  Not every piece of information works for my kids, but she always provides a starting ground or successful path for me to try out.  Ironically, something McCready discusses is stepping back from things that are age appropriate for kids and letting them try it out on their own.  For my Type-A, hates to see a mess kinda personality, that was rocket science.  Could I do it?  Could I be the mom that knew when to guide and step in and when to let go and my children spread their wings of independence?  I would and still do need gentle reminders to calm down and let go a little more so my kids can gain more character.  Baby steps and major feats are helping me to find those opportunities for my kids to do more, learn more, and possibly fail more.  And when it happens, we all get back up, brush off the dust and remember that tomorrow is another day.

 

The Falling Man-a 9/11 Documentary

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Today marks 15 Septembers since the most tragic day in history I can remember: 9/11. #NeverForget this day in history and all the sacrifices that came with it. #Remember911 for all the heroes that saved lives, lost lives and went above and beyond the call of duty. Be proud of the Flag and the freedom it represents. #freedom, #neverforget, #landofthefree

My Glass to Share

How can you not remember that day? September 11, 2001. I think time stood still for several hours; at least it did for me. Let me back up a bit before I get into this particular piece. So my eldest child has been sick this week with some crazy virus. Therefore my hours have been off and I found myself searching the other night for something to watch on television. Flip on Hulu and search “documentaries,” there you go–9/11 and the “Falling Man” piece popped up. I immediately became obsessed. This date resonates with me, as it probably does with most of my generation. It was a day that will and can never be forgotten by our country. Whatever your stance may be for the actions taken after this day, you can’t ignore the utter despair and loss that was felt on September 11, 2001.

The documentary I watched the…

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