Wednesday, November 12, 2008

To Jes and Jon


Just wanted to let you both know how much Chris, the kids, and I appreciate all your years of service and especially the times you put yourselves in harms way for OUR sake.

It's because of you that we are able to own our own home.

It's because of you that we are able to homeschool.

It's because of you that we are able to worship however we wish.

It's because of you that we can seek out the best doctors this country has to offer.

And it's because of you that I am still able to send out this email (because we still have electronic communications intact), put gas in my car (because the oil fields are protected over there), buy food at the grocery store (because al qaida hasn't poisoned our water supply), forget where the community bomb shelter is (because you took the war to THEM), and NOT worry if my whole world will change tomorrow (because I live in AMERICA).

We love you guys so much! Knowing that you've taken care of us this way, just makes us love you more!

Oh, and don't forget PROUD :)





(We also want to thank Grandpa and Pop, who served in and survived WWII and Vietnam respectively....it's because of you that we still live in the greatest nation in the world!)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sink Soup

Tomorrow is payday.

Which means today is the leanest of all days--food wise. No big deal. You know how it is: right before you need to do a big shopping, you just don't seem to have anything that fits right for a decent meal.

That's what I was dealing with tonight. Had a bit of this and a little of that. Seemed to have too much of "yuck," and not enough "yum." I WAS fairly confident, however, that I could pull something together that would pass off as fairly decent. Thankfully, my family has been trained to not be picky. Daddy doesn't allow his little prodigies to turn their noses to Mama's cooking.

Anyhow, I looked around to see what to mix up. For starters, I had chicken stock from some bones I boiled earlier in the week (in anticipation of a day like this). I was stumped as to what I was going to add to that, however. I didn't really have any meat. No significant amount of vegetables. No chicken boullion.

How in the world do you make dinner with none of those things?

In the spirit of Pooh Bear...."Think, think think."

And I seemed to have the things you just couldn't do much with: fish batter mix, peach oatmeal, jerky marinade, protein drink mix. Yuck. A few saltine crackers? Nah.

Welllll.....

Alright. Start with the stock....get it heated up. Then get the small mound of mashed potatoes from a few nights ago and dump it in. If nothing else, the soup would be hearty. Uh....there's a smidgen of leftover broccoli too.....In it goes. A few carrots and half-dead celery can be somewhat salvaged. Needs water. Ooooohhhhh....NOW it needs seasoning...too watered down! Salt, pepper, parsley, garlic.....mmmmm.....not bad...not great.

What ELSE is in this pantry? Hmmmm......cream of chicken soup? Sounds workable. French fried onions....wellll, those are flavorful. A box of stuffing? Uhhhh....why not? It's chicken flavored at least!

I also found a goldmine of leftover chicken patties....3! Man! I can DO something with that!

There was also some leftover chicken gravy. Can someone say, "Flavor?"

So in it all goes, and it's really starting to look and smell like something good. Boiled up some noodles on the side, and Voila! Dinner!

I affectionately called it "Sink Soup." Because it contained everything BUT!

***

Me: "So guys, what do you think of dinner?"

Kidlette: "Uh...it's good! What's, um, IN this?"

Me: "Oh, ya know, a little of this and a little of that."

Kidlette: "Ok, what's it called?"

Me: "Sink Soup!"

All: "Huh??"

Me: "Well, it has everything in it but the kitchen sink! Get it? So I called it "sink soup." ((chuckle))

Kidlette #2: "It doesn't have the counter in it, Mom."

Kidlette #3: "And it doesn't have the faucet!"

Me: ((rolling eyes))

Kidlette #2: "It doesn't have a fork it in!"

Kidlette #1: "Hey! But it DOES have a spoon!!"




Oh, sheesh......what a bunch of clowns we've got around here.......

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Glimpse

From time to time, people will say something to me along the lines of:

"I'm sure none of us know what you deal with when you're all alone."

And of course, that's mostly true, because....well....I'm all alone when I'm going through it. Even if Chris is there and it's dark at night or something, I mainly keep my thoughts to myself. There's no sense and being all doom and gloom all the time. What's the sense in that? I'm a "glass half full" kinda gal, and I don't generally subscribe to negativity.

And honestly? it's not "doom and gloom" for me all the time anyhow. She's doing really well, all things considered. I don't dwell on what she was or what she won't be. There are times (especially weddings) that are particularly difficult for me, but that is not often. Sometimes, I think people think I "put on a good face" out in public, but when I'm by myself, I'm all sad and weary and "torn up" (as Southerners say).

So, no, just to set the record straight, that's not the case. Michaela's brain is a part of my life (it's not my WHOLE life), and I've accepted it and moved on. Taking care of her is like changing diapers....just a part of having kids and living life.

But something happened this morning that DOES fall into the category of "what I deal with." I thought that I'd share it with you. Mainly because, it's probably the ONLY thing that I deal with with any degree of frequency:

Michaela slept in this morning.

I know, that sounds crazy....what's the problem with that?? But what you don't realize is that she rarely does that. Even if she goes to bed very late, she still tends to wake up with the sun. She's been on vacation these last two days, and I haven't been waking her up for school, but she woke up at like 7am yesterday. That's pretty typical.

So, here's the problem. My biggest fear, my biggest worry, my greatest concern with Michaela is....

..... that she will die in her sleep.

It's the one thing that I've prayed A LOT about. Begged God to not let her die that way. Even if it's an easy way to go, I just don't think I could handle finding her that way. I don't like surprises and that would be the ultimate horrible surprise. And with her frequent seizures when she's sleeping, it's not a far-fetched concern.

Not that it definitely WOULD happen, that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying that my biggest fear revolves around her passing away from a big seizure in her sleep. That her heart would just give out and she'd be gone. Even if the possibility is like, 1%, it gets magnified in my mind when I'm alone.

And when she decides to sleep in.

See, it doesn't JUST happen when I'm alone. She has to sleep in too. When that happens, then I get upset. I keep it to myself, but it starts to get me really worried.

Like this morning. The kids were letting me sleep in by getting their schoolwork done quietly. However, someone made some kind of loud noise and I figured it was Michaela. I jumped out of bed to look in her room, but the loud noise wasn't her.....she was still laying in bed. I went back to bed and just laid there. It was WAY too late for her to still be that asleep. She was very still and not moving in spite of the loud noise. Why is she still asleep? I just laid there, wondering.

Now, the logical thing to do would be to go in her room, put my hand on her chest and see if she's breathing. Duh. Yeah, I know this. But rationality goes out the window when it comes to fear. And in my defense, I try not to act all irrational by going into her room and potentially waking her up when she's sleeping peacefully. After all, she DOES have seizures at night. That's pretty exhausting for her. Why not sleep in every once and a while? It's good for her.

But every time she does, when I'm laying in bed and it's obvious that everyone else is awake BUT her, my mind starts to run to the negative. To the horrible.

I think I've planned out her entire funeral at those times.

Just to prepare myself for the worst. Since I hate surprises and all.

And then, next thing I know, she's up and moving about, back to her job of creating art out of every toy we own. Acting like she didn't just give me 5 new gray hairs 5 minutes ago.

And once more, I'm fine and the fear melts away. Until she sleeps in again.....3 months from now.



So now you know what I deal with when I'm all alone.



(No comments on this one, gang. I'm not looking for sympathy or thoughtful words. Just wanted to let you in my head for a bit. I'm ok and all, so thanks for reading....and caring :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Will Travel, Have Laundry

8 days
+
7 people
+
Outdoor living
=
More stink than you could think!



(If I seem to be missing for a while, just look for me in Mt. Washmore!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weak Moment

Ok, so I have an excuse....I really DO!!!

Uh, I uh, uhhhhh.....

Ok, I'm WEAK. WEAK! I tell my kids ALL the time, "No," "No, we won't get that." "No, I don't have money to buy that." "No, you don't need any candy." And so on and so on and so forth.

And I've said about this before...NO. Probably close to a hundred times.



But I was caught at a weak moment.....

A TERRIBLY weak moment......sigh.

And now I'm stuck.



Arg. I hate it when I'm weak.


Goodnight, Granny



4 Generations


My dear friend Renee lost her grandmother yesterday. I can't tell you how old she was, but her health had been failing for quite some time. We know because of how she lived her life that she is at peace and rest now. Seeing her again will be like seeing her after a long night's sleep--the sun will be shining and everything will be beautiful. So, until then.....goodnight Granny....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Times, They are a Changin'

We have taken our kids on many trips over the years. From the time we had just one child until now with six, we've always gone somewhere or done something that required packing. Mostly, our trips have been camping, but every now and again we've gone to visit relatives too.

Either way, I've got packing down to a science these days. It doesn't make it any less time consuming (or even chaotic at times), but it's pretty straightforward and not overly stressful. Part of the trick is to have the right stuff to pack with. If you don't have adequate luggage and the like, then you're going to be asking for a major headache really quick.

I mean, who really wants to search through 15 dinky plastic grocery bags to find what you need? That's IF they don't break on you the first day!

But I've noticed that over the years my packing methods have changed a bit. Particularly in the area of toiletries. We've never used one of those luggage style toiletry bags for some reason. I've always used something more sturdy like this...


I had a wire version of one of these. It was great for carrying your stuff to the public showers at campgrounds, and it didn't matter if it got wet. But this was ALL we used to use for holding our toiletries!


A few years later we moved up to something like this:


And this did the trick for quite a few years. It kept stuff from contaminating the clothes if they spilled, and you could carry and pack it easily. This large one held a ton of stuff, BUT.....


We now need and USE something more like this:


This little gem is the Cadillac of toiletry bags! It holds everything from toothbrushes to diaper packages to full-sized shampoo bottles! And it fits very well standing up in the back of my van--to the point where I could leave it in there and get stuff out of the drawers that way if I needed to.

And I trust that we won't be moving into anything else anytime in the near fut....

Ummmm.....NEVER!

I mean, unless we had a few more indians running around here (which is all but impossible), then I doubt we'd have to invest in one of THESE any time soon:

PHEW! I'd have to get a UHaul just to bring this thing camping!

Ah....I think I like my 7-drawer cart just fine...thank you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Just KNOW Me

Like I was saying:

Remember how I was talking about how BAD I am with remembering dates? And I said that sometimes I only figure out I have an appointment BY CHANCE for the next day?

Yeah, well....

.....I one-upped myself this time.


Today I was rescheduling any appointments I have for next week while I be gone to TN. One was posted on my fridge for the 25th. Check. Rescheduled.

The other was in my purse, and I had checked on it about a month ago. I was pretty sure that it was next week sometime. Either that, or the week after. So I checked on it so I could reschedule it.

Uh, no.

The appointment was TODAY. At 10:30 am.

When did I discover this?

11:20 am.

Me=Bad with dates.

See, Mom? It's not you! Everyone gets the brunt of my can't-remember-dates-itis!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Little House in the Big Woods

This post has nothing to do with the size of my house.

Although, the title would technically apply IF this post WERE about my house. We definitely live in a little house, and behind us lies a big patch of woods.

But that's not the point.

The point IS, is that I am feeling rather pioneer-ish this evening, hence the "Laura Ingalls Wilder" inspired title.

I have decided to embark on our yearly excursion to a church sponsored campmeeting up in TN. It's not called a "campmeeting" because people go native and hang out in tents singing "Kum-By-Ya"---but rather, because we all hang out in our Sunday best and sing much more inspired things like "Amazing Grace" under one BIG tent. See the difference?

And at this particular campmeeting (as opposed to perhaps some others), I like to take the experience one step further and play snail for the week---ie: take my camper. So, it turns out to be a mixed endevour for me: half "Oregon Trail", half Appalacian Trail.

And tonight, especially, I am really feeling a pioneer woman's pain.

In order to get ready to spend an entire week away from my Little House, I have to plan and pack. Pack and plan. Pray I don't forget anything. It's a fairly complex, yet methodical, routine of deciding what to take, how to take it, and what I'll use it for. In general, we take the entire House---minus the sink, of course.

So today, whilst perusing the vast recesses of the laundry pile, I determined that my children are really getting into the pioneering spirit themselves. The boys, especially. For as I examined their once fine finery, I have noticed (much to my chagrin) that finally the finery isn't so fine.

In modern terms, their pants have holes in them!

And thankfully, the pants I am referring to are NOT their super fine finery (ie: church clothes), or they'd REALLY be sitting in a hornet's nest right now. No, the pants I am pioneering over are their "play pants."

And here is the dilemna:

Who really cares if PLAY clothes have holes in them? I mean, isn't that part of the package? Don't we almost buy the stuff WITH holes in them and just care less much of the time? Anything worth playing in is worth ruining, is my sons' motto. They aren't allowed to step foot off the property with them anyhow, so who cares a flying fig if they're rubbed up on the knees and the pockets are hanging off?

Well, I certainly don't.

Except, of course, when said "play pants" venture OUTSIDE of the property lines and make their grand debut in the world of Sunday Best.

Which brings me to my pioneering woes. In order for me to feel comfortable allowing Lewis and Clark to wear something appropriate to play in whilst we are roughing it up in TN, I need to make their pants look all nice and new-ish again.

Oh! The agony!

Fix PLAY PANTS?!?? What is wrong with this picture people?!?

Because you know it's generally just an embarrassment thing. I don't like my kids to look unkept because it's a reflection on me. Which, in all fairness, they DON'T look unkept in any circumstance outside of tree forts and mud puddles here at the house. But to be out in public with ratty play clothes is just mortifying. Straight up horrifying.

So I did what all good pioneer mothers do: I stitched up them holes with a needle and thread. By HAND!! People--this is archaic!!

AND I felt utterly stupid for doing it.


Especially since I know they will tear them out as soon as we get there.



Like I said: agony, mortification, and pioneering spirit all rolled up into one evening. Stay tuned---there's more packing to be had....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tell It Like It Is

Caleb was not allowed to do something he really wanted to do the other day. So he loafed all over the couch and he moaned and groaned a blue streak and then popped out this little gem:


"Aaaaa, Aggghhhhhh, ARGGGHHHH! I NEED SOME ATTENTION!!!"



Well, son? Don't be mincing words or anything!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Torch

I forgot for the first half of the day, until I read Jeni's post.

That's just WRONG.

I didn't mean to. In fact, there are MANY days that I forget the date in general. Just ask my Mom about birthdays. For all my organizational prowess, dates simply elude me no matter what I do.

It probably has to do with homeschooling and being a stay-at-home Mom. We don't really NEED to know the date and time, because they mostly don't matter. Every so many days I check to see if I have an appointment or something coming up, but it's not unusual for me to find out the day before BY CHANCE.

Anyhow, I digress....

***

Today is 9-11, and it's something I never want to forget. That was a very heartwrenching and uncertain time.

Seeing all those people die.....jumping from 100 stories up....
Watching the buildings fall....
Imagining the people in the planes....little children.....
Wondering if the attack was coming HERE (we have an arsenal close by... a good target in war)....
Wondering where my friends and relatives were, who live close to NY....

I never want to forget those memories, and I want my kids to see the pictures and watch the video and feel the heartache we all felt that day.

So they won't forget either.

Sometimes, we need to pass on these things that we know. These bad things. It will give our kids the sense of patriotism they need to uphold everything this country stands for. America was founded because of hardship, and she's strong because of it too. If we as a nation run away from trouble and hide, then we will crumble. We're only here, and the strongest nation in the WORLD, because we've fought for what we want and met our enemies on our terms. When we give that up, we give up our entire heritage and the fabric of ourselves.

The fabric of a star-spangled banner that through fire, bombs, and rubble is still standing and flying strong. We can't forget that. We can't give it up. They need to know.



Pass it on, dear readers, pass it on.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"Something Smells Like Fire"

This is what my 9-yr-old, responsible, oldest son said to me late this afternoon as I was doing some stuff in my room.

And sure enough, there WAS a burning type smell in the main part of the house---and a haze in the air when I came in the living room to see what he was talking about.

My first thought was: Get out of the house. Get the kids out of the house!

My second thought was: Now, THIS doesn't smell like smoke, or fire. It smells like burning....plastic. Get the fire extinguisher!

After getting said extinguisher, I promptly checked every corner of the house for the culprit.

Stove? Cold.
Laundry? No smell.
Bedrooms? No smell either.
Wii station? Nothing.

No matter where I went, I couldn't pinpoint the smell OR the location. I just knew that the main part of the house (living room, kitchen, dining room) was very stinky, and the rooms with doors were not.

So I called Chris. He had no clue what to do since he couldn't smell it himself.
Then I called Denna, who's husband works for the local FD. She said to call 911.
So I called 911. And begged them to not make a big deal out of my funky smell, but "could you please just send someone over to find the problem?" I wasn't interested in having a slew of trucks and volunteer firefighters charging to my little residence all decked out for a 4 alarm blaze--when there was only a suspicious smell.

Come to find out, my neighbor up the street is with the FD here and she responded first in her little sedan.

I can handle this kind of response!

She was very nice and came into the house and could smell my problem--but she didn't know what it was either.

So they sent in the big guys. Sigh....

Thankfully, it didn't turn out to be a freak show like I worried about. Just a couple of nice guys sniffin' around my domain with their fancy smelling equipment. In fact, one of the fire trucks was driven by a close family friend. Phew.

Come to find out, the problem was an old computer monitor that had decided to have a bought of "spontaneous monitor combustion." Everybody who's anybody agreed that the smell was coming from the monitor and that it was cooking itself on the inside.

Thus, the melting plastic smell.


And that, my dear readers, is my little slice of excitement for the day.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Bandwagon Broke

So, no, I didn't fall off of it Liz!

I'm still actively trying to lose weight, in case you're wondering. However, this past summer has been a killer for me to try to stick to anything. For 3 months, I did mostly nothing.

But the good news is that I didn't put it back on.

The month of May was just plain nutso. We have our annual Vacation Bible School at the end of May (when all the kids get out of school around here), so the entire month I'm running like a chicken with my head cut off. I appear to eat, sleep, and breathe VBS. As much as I try to plan ahead, there always seems to be some glitches that last month of preparing. And as the designated "Project Leader" for the 10-12 year olds, the glitches have dire consequences at times.

Eating in May is always an afterthought.

Then June brought some more VBS (we work into the first full week of June), and a surprise trip to Florida for 10 days. This present from some close friends was given to me 3 days after VBS ended, and 5 days before I had to leave. I barely had the chance to touch down from May before I had to take off in June. My trip was AWESOME, but I totally didn't worry about what I ate when I was at someone else's house!

Then July started up, and I was going to "buckle down" and rev up my diet again. And I did. But unfortunately, on July 9th a close family friend passed away suddenly. That man was like a grandfather to my children and it was a very hard time. We spent a lot of time mourning with this "Alabama family," and food was always an afterthought. We just picked on whatever was close by---usually things brought over by church family. Even when I was cooking myself, I was just doing whatever I could throw together. I was walking in a dream state a lot of the time.

By the time I started feeling somewhat normal again, I was working hard to put together a bridal shower for another close family friend. This time, it was a young lady who we have "adopted" as our own. Chris and I have called her "our oldest daughter" for years. She would come stay at our house for her parent's out-of-town trips, and we just clicked when she was with us. Just another part of the crew. We love her like she truly is ours, and I wanted to put as much as humanly possible into her shower. It was a labor of love for me because with Chris in school, there wasn't much else I could give her. Again, food was a second thought. If it was close by and edible, I probably ate it. Especially if I didn't have to cook it.

SO...

In spite of all this, I didn't really gain any significant weight. I mostly fluctuated within 5 pounds. It must have been all the stress and go-go-go.

***

As of August, I was back on the trail. I was in the wedding for aforementioned "oldest daughter," and the last thing I wanted was to look like a beached whale next to her on stage. So I lost my next 5 pounds the month of August, in time for the wedding on the 29th.

I'm going strong again now. I took off last week, to take a much needed breather, but today I'm working to get another 5 off for September. I'm finding that I'm having a hard time with exercizing, however. The kids started school again in July, and their video school has taken over my Wii spot. By the time they're done doing school for the day, I'm already showered and not very excited about working up a sweat. I guess I'm going to have to work out something that works with this new schedule.

And hopefully, by the end of September, I should be halfway to my goal. It doesn't seem as though I'll make my goal by New Year's like I had hoped, but I'm ok with that.




Sometimes, life throws cherry pies in your face. And I dare say, your best bet is to lick off the filling and keep your face to the wind.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New Guinea

With Chris back in school full-time, and at a new job full-time, and studying full-time, and class on Saturdays....


...well, you get the picture...


there just isn't enough time to get some things done around the house. No big deal, really, but it CAN create some issues. Like when the grass is so high you can't find the car, or get the mail, and you lose your youngest child...


...well, you get the picture.


So, we've had some things fall short around here, and it appears that some new tenets have moved in as a result:


From what I've read, guineas are what these are. I had no idea that anyone around here was raising them. There SOUNDS to be a small farm somewhere on my road, but some of the houses are set back, and I can't see the properties too well. People will raise guineas to keep their insect population down, and Alabama has her fair share of those, so guineas are a good choice in farm fowl. They pretty much take care of themselves as well, so, low maintenance.

And from what I hear, they make pretty yummy eggs and a decent Sunday roast.

But these are obviously not OURS, so hunting season has not started. They're just free range birds that thought my "range" was free. And with that, they are eating a whole "range" of bugs that have taken residence in my tall grass.

Hey, guys, have at the bugs....I'm not complaining!


We've kinda enjoyed watching them too.


(But, MAN! can they create a racket when Cooper gets too close!)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Great Find


Went yard sale-ing today. Didn't do too bad considering it was sprinkling early this morning. And the weird thing is that I didn't find too many sales in general, but the ones I caught were really good for me. I was especially psyched about a deep cast iron skillet (with lid!) that I found at an estate sale.

The person who died was 101 years old.

They KNEW how to use this thing, I tell ya!

I've been wanting one for quite some time, seeing as how I'm now a Southern gal. I've seen all kinds of stuff cooked in cast iron, and anything I've tried has been especially good. Now I just have to figure out how to recreate that.

Thank God for Google.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

...And I Think I May Like McCain Too

Because I seriously wasn't into him too much before last night. I mean, he just has never seemed like a strong Republican candidate in any way. And really, he may NOT be still.

However, I learned a few things about the man last night that makes me feel a little bit better about him.

1. He has hard core governing experience.
2. He's fought in wars. We're in a war. He'll know how to handle it (ie: defer to the Generals and Admirals and let them do their job!).
3. He's not interested in recreating Vietnam. In other words, he's not going to just "back out" of stabilizing the Middle East and allow our young men to have died in vain.
4. He knows how to keep his chin up (and ours) during difficult times. Any man who CHOOSES to stay in captivity for the sake of his fellow soldiers, is willing to go the distance for the rest of us.
5. He adopted an orphan in his 50's. One with serious medical issues. That's a very honorable thing in my book.

And last but not least, he's the pro-life candidate. What that's worth with his previous stances, I'm not sure, but he now says he's pro-life. Obama won't say that.

And really, that's what it comes down to for me. No matter what, I was going to vote for McCain if he said he would uphold pro-life principles. Even if I didn't like anything else at all. If he was pro-choice like Obama, I was not going to vote at all.

But he says he's pro-life. That's all I really care about.

Obama's for killing babies, and McCain's not? OK, then, McCain it is.

I know, I know, narrow sighted in some people's mind. There's more issues, true. But really, when you look at it that way: One's FOR murder, and one's AGAINST, then there's just no other issue on the table.

And God help me to never be in the situation, but yes, I would DIE before I have an abortion. So, yeah, even if it comes down to it, the woman's life is not as important in my mind. I don't think it justifies killing another human being. It doesn't to God, and it doesn't to me.

Call me a religious fanatic if you wish, but hey if "religious fanatics" are the only ones that have morals and a conscious on this issue, then I'm the biggest fanatic/Jesus Freak you know.

Because I'm just not going to say murdering an unborn child is ok, in any case. And I won't vote for someone who can't see that.



But the other little tidbits were nice to hear as well......

Sarah Plain and Tall



Next VP?

Move over Hilary, here comes someone better!


I'm pretty excited about Sarah Palin for GOP VP. Here's a few reasons why:

-She's a woman. Enough said.
-She has a family that she takes care of. A husband and 5 kids in fact.
-She decided to continue a pregnancy even when she knew the child had Down Syndrome. Talk about living what we preach.
-She's from Alaska--the state that will rid us of our energy crisis.
-She's from Alaska--not DC.
-She's smalltown. Not Georgetown. And she's the common man.
-She's not afraid to fight corruption.
-She's not interested in the perks of government, but the JOB of government (check out her creds)


She reminds me of Condoleeza Rice, a woman I wish would've run for the office. She's tough, has integrity, isn't afraid of being a woman and mother (check out the skirt instead of the "Hillary pant suits"), and can spit fire with the best of the boys.

I'm just waiting for the showdown with Joe Biden. I'll be rooting for her.


And so far, I think she'll make a great VP.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Of Mice and Men

We had a really nice day on Labor Day. Chris had the day off, and we took the kids to the park. The park there has lots of different conglomerations of climbing spaces: stairs, ramps, bridges, and the like. This park also seems to fit a guy like Chris (who is 5'3" at BEST) just fine. It has incorporated all kinds of "mouse holes" for the kids to sneak through and squeeze through and generally get lost in. Chris is mouse-size, so he played with the kids for the longest time, just running in and out of the various small spots and up and down the obstacles while they chased him.

Unfortunately, about 15 minutes after leaving the park, we discovered that Chris' cell phone that he keeps on his belt had fallen off. It wasn't in the car so we hightailed it back to the park. On the way there, I got a call on MY cell phone. Apparently someone had found the phone!

Unfortunately, they weren't wiling to give it back.

So they decided to steal Chris' phone.

If you've ever seen Chris with his cell phone, it is like a mini computer that he uses for MANY things. It has the Bible on it, he takes notes with it, keeps track of important things, and of course, takes pictures and makes calls with it.

There were some awesome pictures of the kids on that phone :(

Sometimes, people have no clue that when they're being selfish, they are REALLY taking advantage of someone else. It doesn't just affect other people a LITTLE. It affects them A LOT.

We cannot replace Chris' phone. At least, not in that capacity. I feel violated.

***

On a brighter side, there WAS a nice man at the park who tried to help me locate the offending party. Strangely enough, he recognized me from a completely different place (not from when we were at the park). The first thing he said when he saw me was: "Where's your little girl?" At this, I started looking around wondering who he was speaking to. Apparently, he WAS talking to me, and recognized me as the mom of Michaela. "Don't you have a daughter with long braids?"

"Uh, yeeesssss......do I know you?"

Come to find out, last week, when I had to take Michaela to the ER for something (thankfully, nothing serious), this man was there with his 11-year-old son. They both got a good look at Michaela (who's hair is undeniably memorable), and his son told his father, "Dad, she is the PRETTIEST girl I've ever seen!"

I guess he got a good enough look at us to pick me out in a completely different location entirely, and he felt confident enough to ask about her. He ended up helping me look around the playground that day (I was by myself at that point), and even stood near when I thought the people who had our phone was close by. That was a really weird experience.

...and it's weird to think that people say we should cut Michaela's hair. That would be like cutting off her whole head! Everyone knows who she is because of it! :)


Anyhow....that was Labor day. The good and the bad.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wii Be Fit

Oh yes, we're getting somewhere here.

I'm now down 22 pounds!

And with this new toy, I'm sure to lose more. My Mom and Dad got me the new Wii Fit for Mother's Day. It just came out today, and since I had some things to get at the store anyhow, well....I er, just picked up the Wii Fit while I was there...

(Ok, so what if I HAVE been counting down the days?)

Anyhow. Can you say cool? This thing is so neat! It can figure out how much you weigh, your BMI, your center of balance---just by standing on the "balance board" that comes with it. There are 4 different modes of "play:" Strength Training, Yoga, Balance Training, and Aerobics. I already LOVE the Basic Step game, and some of those Yoga poses are TOUGH! You do this initial set-up test to see what your strengths and weaknesses are, what your "Wii Fit age" is (mine is only 35...woohoo!), and set up a goal. So far, it will only let me get out of the "Overweight" category into the "Normal" category, but that's fine. Hey, at least I'm not in the "Obese" category anymore!!

The more you use Wii Fit, the more games you unlock. It keeps track of how long you've been working out (very nice feature), so in various increments it will open up another option to try.

I even liked the fact that it makes your Mii character look as slim or chunky as you really are. No, seriously, this is helpful! I'm pretty sure the character slims up as you do! I mean, comon', that's pretty motivating! Not only will my clothes fit better, but now my digital self will be looking better too---HA!

Here's a short intro video that can SHOW you what I'm talking about:



Oh, and by the way, that soccer ball heading game? Yeah, it may not actually hurt your head, but those cleats flying at you.....it's not easy, and I pretty much stink at that game. LOL.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

212 Out of 237


THAT my dear reader, is how many Michaela got RIGHT on her Math-A-Thon quiz!

Read it again.....

WooHoo!

MY girl did that!

And she raised the most money for St. Jude in her entire school (grades K-8)! This isn't a strictly special needs school either. It's perhaps 50/50.

Don't you just see the coolness in a special needs kid doing the BEST in a fund raiser for sick kids??

Oh, I do. It's just brimming over with coolness in my mind :)

***

Here's some video of her working on her problems:

video

video


Sorry it took so long to get the news out, but I've been swamped and Blogger video isn't the fastest thing ever.

Special thanks to Deb, Jen, and Janet for believing in Michaela with their donations! And thanks to everyone who wanted to sponsor, but found out too late. Your encouraging words mean a lot.

***


It's just so good to see Boo doing so well...

212 out of 237.

Man. That's just....


...more than words can say, I guess.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Come, Share in My Excitement

Check this out:

Michaela comes home the other day and plops her backpack down on the floor before beelining for the computer. I didn't think to look in the bag; maybe I was busy, maybe I was distracted. I try to check her bag everyday in case her teacher sent home some note or whatever. Either way, the bag was moved to it's rightful spot of sittage at some point, and I never looked in it.

Until the next morning. When I found this:


THIS, my dear friends, is exciting! This is revolutionary! This is SOOO COOL!!

"What is it?" you say?

It's a FUND RAISER!!



((((collective groans emanate from the readership))))

***

As some of you may know, I've been helping support St. Jude's Hospital for many years now. I can't say I've been one of those people that would get their name on a brick or anything like that (actually, probably more like a drop in a bucket kinda person), but we've been consistent.

I think it's a worthy cause. Can you imagine what it would be like to find out your child has cancer? Maybe you already know what that's like. I can't even imagine. All I know is that I was forever changed when Michaela was in the hospital for 2 weeks back in 2005. When we brought her in, she couldn't walk, talk, or eat, and they weren't sure if she would ever fully recover. In the middle of dealing with this very difficult and devastating situation, I was in the hospital elevators one day. And there, beside me, was a boy similar to Michaela's age. He was bald, pale, wearing a face mask and holding onto an IV pole with the nastiest looking stuff you ever saw. If I remember correctly, the bag that held the stuff had a skull and crossbones on it!

I instantly knew that this little boy had cancer. And then, perspective hit me. Yes, Michaela was very sick. Yes, she wasn't supposed to get better. But she was ALIVE. And she really didn't know all that was going on with her. She wasn't really in pain. Unlike that little boy. I've since learned a little bit as to how much these littlest cancer patients go through. It's appalling. No adult would sign up for it.

Well, unless it was their kid having to go through it.

And even though Michaela's form of epilepsy is devastating, and even life-threatening (some kids have a whopper of a seizure and then they're gone), we just don't go through the kind of sickening worry that cancer kids and their families go through. Every test, every infusion, every hospital stay can potentially be a life threatening situation. It hangs over their heads and steals so much from them just having a normal life. A simple fever is cause for worry and even a hospital admission. If the cancer is "cured," the entire therapy and process of battling the disease can render a child impotent, lame, blind, deaf, or permanently altered in some way.

It just breaks my heart.

It makes me thankful that I'm only dealing with LGS.

We supported St. Jude's before that encounter in the elevator, but now I make SURE I support St. Jude's. They don't just try to cure kids, they take the unreasonable stress off of these devastated and scared families. They don't make them pay. Ever.

That alone is worth all the help I can give. I know about this: I've had my share of insurance battles and medical bills. It is such a strain in the middle of dealing with a sick child. Especially when parents want and need to be out of work. Especially when they have to travel hundreds of miles for the best care. Especially when the mortgage company doesn't care what you're going through--they want their money.

St. Jude's makes life a little bit easier by taking the medical bills out of the equation. $100's of thousands of dollars of expensive and cutting-edge therapies are paid for.

By people like me...

And by people like you.

***

So my interest was definitely peaked when I saw that the proceeds of this particular fund raiser went to my charity of choice.

But even more than that, this fund raiser got children involved. Kids helping kids. How cool is that? I think kids need to be able to think beyond themselves and the prizes that fund raisers give them. It's a healthy way to help them feel like a part of their community. That their actions affect others. Such a good lesson!

This particular fund raiser revolves around MATH. How it works is like this:

1) A child gets sponsors to pledge so much per math problem the child answers correctly. Sponsors can pledge anything per problem, but 5, 10, 15 or 20 cents per problem are common pledge amounts.

2) Each child is to work out math problems suitable for their grade level. There are roughly 200-300 in the contest. They can take up to a week to finish the problems.

3) Once the child completes all the problems, the correct answers are tallied up, and the sponsors make a donation to St. Jude's for the amount they pledged.

And everyone gets to feel like they've accomplished something good and worthwhile!

Priceless!

***

But let's take this a step further.

I heard about this because Michaela's school sent the information home. Now that doesn't always mean that the stuff she brings to me applies to her. Sometimes it can be announcements for the junior high, or some other function that she simply would not participate in.

But THIS.

Is something she can do.

MY child. The one suffering from brain damage, physical impairments, and various other afflictions. SHE can do this fund raiser! They sent home the Kindergarten math problem packet and I checked it out. She can do this stuff! It's counting and shapes and patterns and other simple stuff.

She can do this!

Even if she can't do all of it, she can do some of it. I mean, HOW COOL IS THAT?? Do you realize how excited this makes me?

Rewind: 3 years ago, they weren't sure if she would ever:

WALK
TALK
or EAT again.

And now she's participating in a MATH FUND RAISER??!?




Um, I'll forgive you if you can contain yourself, but I SURE CAN'T!!


WOOHOOOO!!!!! THANK GOD!!!

***

So, yeah, I'm shamelessly looking to solicit sponsors for this. It doesn't matter where you are, everything can be done online.

Will YOU support Michaela?

No, you don't get anything like a fancy candle, chocolate turtles, or some chintzy earrings; but you WILL get the satisfaction of helping a worthy cause.





And that reward is worth more than any mint cookie you'll ever eat. :)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Oh Yay! A New Post!

I know I know.

You're sick of checking for an update, only to see those incredibly mouthwatering Cadbury Mini Creme Eggs there.

And I am happy to say that I have only eaten 2 of them! That's right. Just TWO. One when I bought them, and one when I made my weight loss goal for March. Ya know, cuz I did so good and all.

And really, a girl just needs some motivation every now and then.

So anyhow. They're gone. No more Creme Eggs at the top of the blog.

I hope y'all are feeling better now.



(Sorry for the lack of updating-ness. But I'm busy! Really busy! Like, super busy! But hopefully I'll be posting some picturesque type thingies soon. Just you wait.....)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

They MAKE These!

Ok, I am SOOOOO in trouble!


Do you see this?

Do you SEEEEEE this????

Creme Eggs.....in miniature.......in a little miniature egg carton.......



1 WEIGHT WATCHER POINT EACH


Oh, man, y'all, I am SOOOOOOO in trouble.........

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Deere Season

Michaela is thoroughly enjoying her spring vacation. Well, when she's not thinking about school, that is. In fact, every night, she makes me pray for her to have a good day at school "when it's time." She's dying to see "her friends" again.

I must admit, I'm NOT dying for her to go back to school.

I've enjoyed having her here this past week. Chris and I decided to take her off of one of her meds, and she's been so calm and easy going ever since. I would have to say that 90% of her "bad" behaviors are gone. She's been able to concentrate on things and enjoy her favorite Blue's Clue's game for hours (she hasn't had the attention span for it in months). I don't usually let the kids play computer games for that long, but when you see her playing "I Spy" like a pro, it's really hard to make her stop. It's just so cool.

She also has discovered the power wheels that the kids have had for a couple of years now. It's a John Deere tractor, and much too small for her, yet she doesn't know that. She just decided to sit down on it one day.

And then it moved....

video


And just in case you couldn't tell how she felt about the whole experience...

video

As her mom, I gotta tell ya I'm pretty psyched to see her enjoying this thing so much. She's never been able to ride a bicycle. In the last few years, it's been obvious that she's wanted to, but she just didn't have enough strength and coordination to get the thing going. I've caught her sitting on those bikes made for like, 3 year-olds: all crouched with legs folded up to her ears. And I've wanted to mentally will her to be able to ride it---just for a little bit. Just to see her feel the cool euphoria of self-propelled motion. I was an emphatic bike rider as a kid. I wish we could share that.

But she can't, and I've let go of that dream. But This! This tractor thingy! So close to riding a bike. The precursor to driving a car (another first I won't get). I tell ya, I could let her drive this thing all day if the battery wouldn't wear out.

And her legs wouldn't get cramped from being all stuck up like that.

Anyone know of a "big kids" tractor/power wheels/driving thingy? She may be enjoying herself immensely, but I'M the one who's hooked!



An awesome spring vacation. Just wonderful.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Have You Seen These Feet?

My friend Shawna and I both have children with severe epilepsy syndromes.

Strangely enough, her son Cody and my Michaela also have another thing in common:

Weird Toes.

Case in Point:






As you can see, the second toe sits higher on the foot than the other toes. This setup makes it look like the kids only have 4 toes if you look at the bottom of their feet. Michaela's feet have grown so that it's not as obvious, but it used to be very prominent when she was younger.

If you, or anyone you know, have toes that look like this, please PLEASE let me know. We're trying to see if there's a connection between the toes and the brain issues. We're very likely barking up the wrong tree, but it never hurts to search it out!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

They Won't Bring Me Flowers Forever

There used to be a time when I would stress over little things more than I do now. I guess it comes with maturity, because I just don't let the proverbial "small stuff" bother me so much. In fact, I'm much more of a realist than I ever thought I could be. I can see more angles in that "big picture," and just take things one day at a time.

And I can't say that I liked the fact that little mundane things would bother me. I have never liked that about myself, and now that I'm older, I make a conscious effort to be the opposite in certain matters. Just letting things roll off. Taking things in stride. God's helped me in this way, there's no doubt, because it's simply NOT in my personality to be laid back.

And I'm not saying that I never stress out. Now that would be plain impossible. Everybody gets stressed. I'm just saying that I don't get as stressed with things that are not important in the grand scheme of things. It may not even bother me at all, for that matter. But I still get torqued and twisted in a vice from time to time. And yes, it stresses me.

Children seem to be the most common form of stress in life. My children are no exception. Poor things almost never mean it, but they're just not ever going to be adults as long as they're children. Why do we expect them to be? It's so hard as an adult to see things from a child's perspective, to realize that muddy shoes are not the first thing on a child's mind when there's a fresh PBJ on the counter. I think it's just as hard for an adult to see things from a child's point of view as it is for a child to see things from an adult's. It can be such an impasse at times.

Yet I'm working on it. I am trying more and more to put myself in my children's shoes and see things from 2 feet lower. To take out the extra knowledge that 20+ years have afforded me. It doesn't mean that I allow them to act out in normal, destructive, un-called-for behaviors, it just means that I'm meeting them at their level more. Taking in the significance of the situation, seeing it from their eyes, and acting accordingly.

I'm not getting as stressed over nothing. I'm allowing them to be children.

***

This.....



Used to stress me out.

Now, take into consideration what I've already said before you condemn me. I can't help how I'm wired, but I CAN change it, and with God's help I believe I am.

But the kids picking the nice flowers in my yard and bringing them to me ad-infinitum was an annoyance to me in the past. Or even the UGLY flowers....over and over and over again. And to my small defense, I'm not a flower person by nature anyway. I don't particularly care for Chris to bring me home flowers. I'd rather get a nice foot rub or a trip to the bookstore. So to have my kids bring me flowers as soon as they pop up in the spring (winter?) used to get under my skin after a very short time. I would try to be kind about it, because I could tell how infinitely mean it was to ask them to NOT bring me flowers, but I would quell the flower picking pretty quickly.

But it dawned on me this year:

They won't bring me flowers forever.


And then I got sad.

***

How could I keep them from showing me this kindness? It's not like they can take me out for dinner, or do some of the chores that I would rather not do. They can't pay the bills for me, or pick up the groceries.

But they CAN pick a flower. It so simple and so touching at it's very core.

It's not messing up my yard. Or damaging the landscaping. Or not considering others. This is how I USED to think about it, what USED to stress me out. But I've changed my mind.

This is their love to me. Their devotion to me.

I need to enjoy it while it lasts, because some day they won't pick me flowers. They may buy them at the store, but they most likely won't pick them. And someday, my boys will have someone else to pick or buy flowers for. I expect that I will be loved and honored when I'm older and they're adults, but I won't be idolized (if you'll allow the term) and treated as the center of their universe.



Someday I'll miss that.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Don't Feed the Bears

I've got a nice little system going here.

In the middle of getting Michaela ready for school in the weeee hours of the morning (read: 6:30), I get Noah out of bed so he can start his classes. He, in turn, will get Gabe out of bed for me when he decides to wake up just minutes after I get Michaela on the bus and slip my last cold foot back into bed.

For some reason, Gabe is some kind of weird freak of nature around here. He's the only one of my kids that doesn't like to sleep in. Well, Michaela doesn't like to either, but she can be cajoled back to bed and Gabe can't. It really stinks that he's like this, because I'm somewhat of a night owl and I don't mind getting 8 hours of sleep. Gabe, on the other hand, requires the least amount of sleep of ANYONE in the house. Like I said, he's a freak of nature.

Soooo. The reason I said all that was because Noah is so nice to get him out of bed for me in the morning so I can catch a few zzzz's before starting the day (again). BUT, in order to keep Gabe civil and quiet so the REST of us can sleep, he has to put him in his highchair and get him some breakfast. Which, should really be no big deal.

Yet it IS a big deal. I'm not sure why, but Gabriel is NOT easy to please. First off, he's not patient. He will fuss a blue streak until you get him his sippy cup. That's IF you figure OUT that he wants that. Noah will try to just get him some dry cereal, but Gabe will start fussing about it. So we try the cup, but that just makes him louder until you actually get the thing in his hands. But the peace doesn't always last long after that.

And I just figured out why: Gabe doesn't LIKE dry cereal.

He doesn't particularly like wet cereal either. Well, let me back up here. Gabe would LOVE the sugary cereals that I let the older kids eat (wet or dry), but I just can't bring myself to let him eat that on any sort of regular basis. Not that it's the best for the other kids either, but for the one-year-old? I can't bring myself to do it. So we try to stick to Cheerios or Kix the majority of the time.

The Kix died a hard death pretty quickly. He just wouldn't eat it anywhere near long term.

Now, the Cheerios are a "nay." I think Cooper's eaten more of those than Gabe has.

This whole "no eating cereal" thing has made for one seriously fussy child for the rest of the morning. I mean, he LIVES for lunch. And I must be losing it because I JUST figured this out recently. I mean, for MONTHS I thought that he was just disagreeable or teething.

He was HUNGRY.

Sigh. But being the mother of six that I am, it is not in my nature to make different meals for different kids. If I make oatmeal for breakfast, we all eat oatmeal whether someone wants it or not. If I make eggs and toast, same rule applies. But if I sleep in, then the kids can choose which cereal they want and get it for themselves (ahhh, independence---how sweet is thy name!). So, if Gabe doesn't want to eat cereal on a cereal day, then my first reaction is "tough toenails toots."




"Awww, Kelly! He's a baby....."

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. I can't let just let him starve because he's picky.....

But if he were TWO....now....that would be a different story!




So this not eating breakfast thing is a definite problem. And that's when my wheels started turning. Because, you see, Gabe WILL eat plenty of things. He likes finger foods of many different varieties. He especially likes the fruit snacks that the older kids get.

But that's not decent breakfast food.

Think think think......

What IS decent breakfast food? I mean, what defines breakfast? As a culture, we Americans will eat lots of different things for breakfast: grains, beans, meat, vegetables (you know, in an omelet), of course fruit and dairy, and even cold pizza. But what's the best for a baby? For a little kid?

Not to mention, what's easiest for ME? (or Noah, heh heh)

And this is what I came up with: whatever it is, it should really touch on each of the food groups. You know, the pyramid thing? Grain, meat and beans, dairy, fruit and veggies, and only a smattering of fats.

Ok, think think think.....

For toddlers, grains and fruits are pretty easy to figure out. You could just use raisins and Cheerios. But my kid doesn't LIKE Cheerios. So we'll start with raisins. OK, one down, 4 to go.

Then for dairy, I thought of yogurt. They make yogurt in a finger food version these days: Yogos. But Yogos have the equivalent of candy in the middle, so that was out. But they STILL make yogurt covered raisins.....BINGO! That knocks out two items, all rolled into one!

Ok, now for the meat department. Gabe would gnaw on a beef stick if I gave it to him, but that just seemed kinda nasty for breakfast. So I thought about beans.....hmmmm.....the only beans I could come up with would need to be cooked. But we're looking for finger food here, and baked beans don't fit into that. So, I decided to turn to nuts, and everybody knows what a kid's favorite nut is: peanuts. Peanut butter! Hmmm...finger food? Well.....

How about peanut butter crackers? That would not only take care of the protein department, but ALSO the grain department. Home run! Ritz makes those little peanut butter crackers that are just right for little hands.

That just leaves vegetables. Veggies aren't the easiest to get into a kid's gullet by far, but food makers are getting pretty creative at it these days. One thing I gave Gabe a lot when he was much smaller was the fruit and veggie puffs that Gerber puts out. I looked at the label, and they actually put dried vegetables in these things. Hey, dried, cooked, smashed, it doesn't matter to me! As long as he can eat them by himself, we're good.

So, that just left fats, and I think those get into processed foods by default so I didn't worry about it.

In the end, what I had put together was this:

-Yogurt covered raisins. Dairy and fruit.
-Sweet potato finger puffs. Veggie and grain.
-Ritz bitz peanut butter crackers. Meat (protein) and grain. (And probably some oil too)

I took portions of each and dumped them into a gallon sized Ziplock bag, shook them up and voila! Gabe Food!

Affectionately known as "Gabe's Morning Mix."

And would you believe it? The kid LOVES the stuff. I mean, full-fledged is gonna make himself puke he eats so much. Add a sippy cup of whole milk or 100% juice, and he's turned from a Grizzly Bear in the morning to a Peaceful Doe.

And a quiet one at that. Ahhhhh......sweet sleep at last!

(Oh, and I guess it's good that the baby is eating again. Yeah, that's probably a good thing.)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Watched Julia Child as a Child

I like Food. Yup. Definitely like lots of stuff about food. It's taste, it's texture, it's smell, it's ability to stop my stomach from grumbling. There's just not a whole lot you can dislike about food. Food is a very likeable substance.

Unless you're on a diet.

And THEN food is oftentimes the "enemy."

But no more! I have learned that food and I can co-exist peacefully with my waistline still intact! I just have to TRICK the food into being more.....friendly. More.....anti-flub. More good! Yet....er.....good that's......good! Good.....for ME! And the rest of me......and the rest of me that likes food a lot.....

Yes. Well. You know what I mean.

So, in the spirit of some of my favorite food blogs (yes, there IS such a thing. Do you doubt me?), I have decided to demonstrate the proper preparation technique for GOOD food preparation. The kind of preparedness one would need when they are preparing to prepare GOOD food. As opposed to BAD food (yes, there MUST be such a thing. But I doubt me...).

For my first preparedness seminar, I shall prepare a classic dish of unclassic proportions:

Lasagna!

Yet, not lasagna....

Vegetable Lasagna!

Come come, I will SHOW you........

***

First you must hunt and gather. THESE are the items you must retain for our purposes:
-Lasagna noodles (whole wheat!)
-Olive oil (Omega 3!)
-Cooking spray
-1% milk (low fat!)
-Flour
-Ricotta or cottage cheese (part skim!)
-Mozzerella cheese (part skim too!)
-Garlic (nature's gold)
-Salt, pepper, and nutmeg (optional)
-Parmesan cheese
-Veggies: zucchini, yellow squash, onion, frozen spinach, carrots, broccoli

Once you have all these fine ingredients together (Kevin, no fussing!), you start with the onions. You must Peel the onions (2 cups worth, or 2 med sized), and Chop the onions, as I have done here.
Small chopping here, no big stuff allowed!









Then , you spray your cooking spray in a fine pot of large-ish proportions (word of the day!), and saute (cook until soft) your 2 cups of onions on med-high heat, as I have done here. Once the said onions are somewhat limp, you add 4 cloves (2tsp) of minced garlic. Then you push all that around in your large-ish pot to get that nice and hot and limp as well. Once the onions start to get a little brown in some areas, dump it all into a large bowl and set it aside.




Next, you chop up those wonderful squashes into small bites and dump the lot o' them into your pot. You should have about 2 cups of each variety, or just throw measurement to the wind and use two of each. Whatever suits your fancy. Add a little olive oil to keep them company and turn on the heat!










You need to saute them until they look like this:


Limp.

Mmmm. We LOVE limp veggies :)


Once they reach that point, throw them in the bowl with the garlicky onions.




Now for the carrots. You'll need to cut these up somehow, and make them lasagna worthy. I used a cheese grater and that worked fine. The carrots didn't know what hit 'em. 2 cups worth or two good sized ones should do the trick. Add some more olive oil and heat, and stir 'em up.

(The lone zucchini in the picture must be really self-absorbed to make sure his picture was taken TWICE.)





Again, LIMP is the goal. Once that is achieved, add 2 cups of chopped broccoli (I know, I know, someone has a 2 cup fetish--I didn't write the recipe!). I cheated and bought a broccoli cole slaw where the broccoli was chopped into the fine lengths you see here. I had to pick out the red cabbage, but it was a small price to pay. Hey, they even threw some carrots in there---Bonus!






Like before, cook the broccoli/carrot mixture until tender and then throw them into the onion/garlic/squash bowl of fun. Add about 1/2 tsp of salt in there and mix it all up.

Now forget about it for a while.








I guess now could be a good time to turn your oven on. You could wait until the pasta is cooked if your oven preheats quickly (like mine), or you could get a head start on it. Whatever you like, ok? 375, in case you're wondering.









Next step: the sauce. Magnifique! Ya gotta love sauce! White sauce! YUM!

Take your all-purpose vegetable limping large-ish pot and rinse it out. It must be made sauce worthy now.

Dump a 1/2 cup of flour in there--go ahead, it won't feel it. Then 3 and 1/2 cups of milk. Get the cobwebs off your wire whisk and put that baby to work. Add some bubble making heat and stir away! We're looking for thick, here, people. Thick! There'll be NO wimpy thin sauce in THIS lasagna!

While you're waiting for the sauce to thicken, get out another pot of large proportions and boil water in it. This is for the lasagna. I suggest you lay your pasta in the boiling bath and let it sliiiiither down into the warmth as it cooks through. Don't break, beat, or mash your noodles. You can gently guide them down, but don't force. Lasagna noodle cooking is an art. It must be handled properly.

And don't take them out until they're LIMP. Limpness is important!


Now, back to the pot o' sauce. Once thickness has arrived (like ranch dressing, we'll say), bless it with a 1/2 t of salt, 1/4 t of pepper, and dash of nutmeg.

Or, you could be like my friend Amie, totally disregard the spice instructions, and dump whatever you like in there. You're the one who's eating it. I could care less.

Whisk it up until it's evenly distributed.




So, here's where we're at: the veggies are hanging out, the water has boiled, the noodles are limping, and the sauce is thickened and spiced.

What you need to do next is make sure your bag of frozen spinach is thawed out. If it isn't, then take the bag and put it in a hot water bath for a while (nothing but the best for OUR veggies!). Once thawed, drain and massage all the water out of the spinach (read: grab chucks and squeeze the spinach as dry as possible, making balls)







Then take those wads of green goodness and sprinkle them over your sauce (maybe not the whole lot--about 3/4 of it). Add a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, and stir it all up. It should look like what you see here.



Then forget about it for a while.






Since those noodles are done, drain them and let them get ready for their sole purpose in life. I find that a wire rack dries them fairly quickly, making the noodles easier to lay into the dish. I drain them first, then I lay them out for a minute, then I stack them on a plate until they're needed.

You can do it however you like. Just make sure they're in their place when their king shall call for them.




Next on the agenda is to make the cheese spread. Many people like cottage cheese in their lasagna, but I'm a ricotta girl, so that's what I used. A carton of ricotta, and 1 and 1/2 cups of the mozzerella. I mixed them up, and this is what I got. No egg here folks. Just the cheese and the cheese. Set it aside.



I said NO egg....don't put one in! I'm tellin' ya!



Now, we're down to the fun part: the assembly. At this point, you should have: cooked noodles, a bowl of cooked veggies, a pot of thick spinach sauce, a bowl of ricotta/mozzarella, and a pre-heated oven.

Spray the bottom of your 13x9 baking dish with the cooking spray. Then take 1/2 cup of the spinach sauce and spread it out on the bottom of the dish. Lay 3-4 noodles on top of that.










Then, spread 1/2 of the ricotta/mozerella mixture over the noodles. Don't skimp! 1/2 does the trick!

After that's all even, then you can do the same with 1/2 of the veggies. Spread those out evenly. You gotta make sure every bite is consistent. Don't fall asleep on this step!






Next is the spinach sauce--about 1 cup worth. So at this point, you should have the base: spinach sauce then noodles. Then you have the first layer: cheese mixture, veggies, and spinach sauce again.



Then ya do it all over again.

The layer, that is. Not the base. That was just to be a base. Not a layer. Get it?



After you're done your second layer, top it with another set of noodles, the rest of the spinach sauce, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, and as much mozzarella as you prefer. This is the finished, yet not edible product.


(Yes, I know you
can eat it, but you won't! You won't! You MUST cook it first!)





(Look at that layering........ohhhhhhhh......)


Anyhow, you must now cover your concoction with foil and bake it for 20 minutes. Not 22, not 13. I said 20. Follow me, as I follow the directions here people.

Then, you UNcover it and bake it for ANOTHER 20 minutes.





and you wait.....


and you wait......


and you clean your messy kitchen......





















And finally what you get is this:

Oooooo, La la!!!


(drool drool.....)

And this is how it looks on your plate:


The yum factor on this dish got 6 stars (one for every person who ate it). I thought it needed a little salt, but, eh, who cares? Salt is easy! Healthy, yummy, mouth watering on a diet is NOT. If you want nutrition information on it, email me. But if you try it, let me know. I had fun making it, even though it's a long process (especially when you're, ahem, taking pictures). It's a good make-ahead Sunday dish, or Saturday time-to-waste meal. We added some chicken breast on the side to round it out.

And just to give credit where credit is due, this is a Cooking Light recipe. Light! It's GOOD for you! Anti-flub!



Ahhhhhh......you can all eat a little easier now.....