Category Archives: Life

Qi (chee) on this.

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It’s time to update you about my long-time health drama.  I have had a sour stomach most of life.  Just before I chose to stay at home,  it completely whomped me.  Throat, esophagus, stomach.  Likely stress-missed meals-stress-missed sleep-stress- induced….numerous doctors, tests, meds and diagnoses culminated into one thing – not solving my problem.  Finally, I quit what doctors told me to do.  I stopped all medication.  I changed the way I ate, in an effort to eliminate “pain” foods.  I loyally attended yoga (stress reduction/better circulation) and even started acupuncture sessions.  I wanted to fix myself – naturally.

*Enter new alternative medicine doctor.*

WOW.  Her therapies literally swept pain out of my body.  I FELT it.  And in the process of treatment, she coached me about lifestyle and diet.  She described me as an ‘earth’ body (whaa?) and someone who deals with spleen Qi deficiency.

Okay…..

I researched it.  I was shocked, to say the least, to find case after case about people with the same issues and a common theme for resolving the problem:  diet.  Over and over again….all of my crazy symptoms didn’t seem so crazy.  Was it possible that there was something to it?  After all, Chinese medicine has been around for a heckuva lot longer than western medicine.  There must be something to it.

According to literature, I am eating all the wrong things.  My favorite foods essentially ‘weaken’ my spleen Qi.  (stay with me).  Instead, I need to drop the last of my dairy intake.  Wheat is out.  Refined sugar.  High carb fruits- gone.  Uncooked veggies.  Cold food (ice cream!), soy, greasy food, bananas and anything unnatural -moot.  Instead, my new diet is rich in other grains, cooked beans, garlic, baked root veggies, mushrooms, some red meat, basil and various strong spices.

And here I am.

My first efforts at cooking this food introduced me to TarteletteBlog’s version of Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Rice.  I found it on Pinterest, which continues to be an awesome source of information and inspiration.  After tweaking it to meet my needs, it was awesome and substantial enough to leave me fulfilled.  Better yet, my husband liked it.  Best yet, it’s a great way to incorporate one of my favorite veggies:  butternut squash!

Butternut Squash =


Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Rice by TarteletteBlog

So far, I don’t feel better….or worse.  But I just had that surgery….AND I admit I cheat here or there.  After all, life is too short to absolutely cut out chocolate (dark please) and frozen desserts (hello, ice cream).  I just need to incorporate loads of the ‘good’ foods, until I can feel fulfilled by those means.  Sigh.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Before I go, guess what?  I’m in the process of updating my NEW blog title and site.  Talking about work-to-home is limiting and frankly, it doesn’t fully express what I’m about.  Change is refreshing.

Til’ then,

~Edhead

Oatmeal

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I have a very distinct memory of my grandpa and his habit of eating hot oatmeal for breakfast.  One morning, he ushered me forward until we both leaned over the hot steam of favorite porridge on the table in front of him.

“There’s only one way to eat oatmeal,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.  “First, you add the butter.  Then, brown sugar and plenty of it.  Wait…while it melts a bit.  And the best part of it all is to add just the right amount of milk…until it swirls. ”

I watched with intense delight as the milk tugged at the pool of sugary cream in the middle of his bowl.  It did look perfect.  My grandpa was perfect, in my young mind.  I tucked that ‘important’ moment away and I ate oatmeal just like that for the next 25 years of my life.

Now here I am in present day, consuming oatmeal void of sugar or fat.  Nuts and fruit are “ideal.”  Because I’m worried about health?  Maybe.  My grandpa died of a sudden heart attack just a few years later.  More so, I know it’s the best power breakfast for the ‘on the move’ mom.  That’s what the experts tell me.  I admit to my own sort of mechanical bandwagon when it comes to eating.  If They tell me, I will generally alter my food intake the same day.  Then, I move onto my kids.  Obsessing about anything they eat outside of my presence has been a passion of mine, but not so much this year.  School lunches have improved.  I don’t stop breathing when my son eats cheesy bread once a month.  I let my sons drink pop every so often.  Why?  Because I happily drank from my grandparent’s stash of glass-bottled grape soda growing up.  I sneak my dark chocolate.  I have been known to claim dessert as my one and only meal item.  I never suffered from cavities until I was 35 (and then only two).  I don’t struggle with my weight, despite my social grumps and groans.

You could say I appreciate the taste and essence of food more than ever.  More often than not, my oatmeal must be served plain.  The nuts and fruit are reserved for my ‘rebellious’ moments.  I often eat a bowl of plain Cheerios when I’m not eating oatmeal.  Water, instead of milk or juice.  Crispy toast and an array of vegetables.  Little snacks all day long.  I do fit the other stuff in – minus the guaranteed pain culprits (spice, acid or fried).  But, I pay…and unfortunately, payment terms are often 10 days to a month.  The experts tell me it’s a nerve disorder.  I think the experts have left me to tread water on my own.  I don’t believe they want to acknowledge that the medicine they told me to take for over a decade was incorrectly prescribed.  They don’t want to admit that the long-term side effects may have permanently impacted me, worsening a less intense condition.  They particularly don’t want to admit that they just don’t know.

I know I sound bitter, but I’m not.  You could say I’m complaining, but I’m not.  I’m just trying to make do with what I have …and I do become a little bit desperate when the nerves go South.  Them’s the facts.  I can only make the best of it.  So, tonight….I decided that oatmeal, Cheerios or toast just wouldn’t do.  I whipped up my version of comfort food:  cornmeal mush.  There’s only one way to eat it.  First, you add the butter.  Then, brown sugar and plenty of it.  Wait…while it melts a bit.  And the best part of it all is to add just the right amount of milk…but that’s really out of the question now.  So I added more sugar.  Rebellious.  Perfect.

Happy birthday, Grandpa.  I miss you.  I hope you have oatmeal where you are.

Must Buy Lipstick

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It’s another year of homework, runny noses and volunteering at school.  This is THE moment where I can drop my kids at school and actually exercise for an hour.  I have been waiting for this for years.  Yet, just as I think I have a new schedule worked out, I am reeled into the volunteer trap (aka volunteering for too many things).  This is partly due to the fact that I want to know what is going on with my kids.  I also realize our schools need volunteers and I want to help.  Much of the time, I sign up because I just feel guilty.

Let me explain.  While attending an annual back-to-school meeting, the Head Super Volunteer must have said, “I know it’s very challenging for us working parents'” a MILLION times.  Ok.  I recognize that her statement is indeed true.  The tone by which she continuously shoved her insight down my throat insinuated that I, Stay-at-Home Parent, could make it easier on Over-Worked parent.  Stay-at-Home Parent has it easier.

Why had I chosen that ONE day to show up sans makeup, crisp clothing and a shower?  I felt like a blemish in an unusually sparkly crowd.  A very crisp crowd.  good-looking.  Lattes.  Income makers.  And there I was, presenting myself as the stereotype I despised:  Bon Bon Mom.  I was particularly sensitive, but my irritation with her words stems from my own observations about a lack of support by FEMALES.  Working moms often believe they have it so much harder.  Home moms often find a way to think they carry the harder burden.  Both groups just want to justify that they are taking the best actions when it comes to their children.  That they are doing their part.  “Mommy guilt” strikes again.  What better target than where the grass seems greener?

Now I’m signed up to volunteer on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays…amongst other odds and ends days.  When I drop my kids off, I will often walk in behind them to report to duty.  Instead of feeling guilty or bitter (well, maybe just a teeny tiny humanly bit), I am going to focus on the fact that I am SO lucky that I get to be so involved with my children and their environments.  I will also shower more and purchase some lipstick.

Miserly Me

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Jello salad.  It’s what I’d like to have around more often.  My problem is that I buy the jello boxes.  I find the jello recipes.  I just don’t get around to making the darn jello.  Such as it is with our evening meals.  I plan, plan, plan….and then the desire to execute just sort of fizzles.  Don’t get me wrong.  Thanks to my farm roots and my 1989 home economics class, I feel like I can whip up a pretty stellar meal with whatever is around the kitchen.  But when I mix in oldest son’s texture issues and my non-dairy/no soy/tomato/oj/onion/peppers/white flour diet… my creative brain hurts around dinner time.  What’s a girl to do?  I, generally, enjoy a bowl of Cheerios and almond milk.  The fam enjoys the hot, seasoned food.  The oldest son enjoys bread.  It works, but it’s not my vibe.  Nope.

So.  Instead of reading so many frugal cooking advice blogs – many of which suggest the use of ketchup as a major ingredient – I am sticking to this:  Cook the favorites.  Sneak in my healthy ingredients more often.  Plan menus around the front page and the last page of our weekly grocery sales flyers.  That nifty suggestion comes from an inspirational little read by Jonni McCoy, entitled “Miserly Moms:  Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy.”  It caught my eye simply because I like the challenge of getting more for less.  Or ensuring They* make less off of Me**.  Her suggestions, like shopping only the front/back of sales ads (actual deals designed to lure us into the store)….or reminding us of the lost art of bartering….or that Ranch wasn’t invented in a bottle, but in a bowl for just pennies in fresh ingredients…  well, these are easy suggestions.  I will NOT pay $4.25 for a box of whole-grain cereal anymore.  The thought makes me physically ill.  Instead, I plan wisely.  I see the sale (you know, front and back pages).  I grab a coupon.  I do not think everything on sale is a good deal.  I head to the cereal aisle and out.  I pay no more than $1 for a box.  As a family of cereal lovers, this makes a huge dent in the food bill.  Money saved can go toward other things that almost never go on sale (e.g. fresh parmesan cheese…mmmmm).

Yes, I am a homemaker. stay at home mom. domestic goddess.  Yes, my bottom-line contribution is being frugal without depriving my family.  Yes, I need to make the J-E-L-L-O.  Not because I’m trying to be frugal.  Because I shouldn’t dare deprive my family.  😉

*They   a.k.a big·wig/ˈbɪgˌwɪg/noun  plural big·wigs

[count]  informal: a powerful or important person
▪ corporate bigwigs [=big shots]▪ a bigwig in local politics (http://www.merriam-webster.com/)
**Me  a.k.a. commoner
noun \ˈkä-mə-nər\
a: one of the common people b: one who is not of noble rank
2: a student (as at Oxford) who pays for his own board  (http://www.merriam-webster.com/)

Lettuce be happy

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I wanted a garden this year.  And a tiny garden I did get.  Inspired by my in-law’s green thumb setup (actually jealous), I claimed my sunny backyard patches.  Ok, I glared and hrumphed at my neighbor’s looming trees eating up my precious sun.  I.  Was. Determined.

And so we dug and built and dug and built and prettied my little garden with raised beds and decorative rock.  Wheelbarrow upon wheelbarrow full of delicious black dirt made its way to my new space.  Bring on the veggies!  To my surprise, my usual bed of lettuce failed to thrive (thanks trees and wandering squirrels).  Yet, tomatoes grew above my head and fell over the rest of the garden.  Cantaloupes snuck in and I even salvaged a few green onions and carrots (thanks family dog).  Sweet peas, pickle cucumbers, swiss chard and green beans have made their presence known.  Just enough to make it to our dinner table….and just enough to scare me as I realize most of it will need to be dealt with all at once in just a month or so.  Nonetheless, I am so grateful to have the time to enjoy this summer pleasure.  It’s a taste of childhood growing in my own back yard.  And the grocery budget likes it, too!

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Oops Strikes Again!

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My lovely daughter awoke Saturday morning with a whiny, tired tone.  After about 30 minutes of this nonsense, I announced that was ENOUGH.  She needed to stop with the silly business and get dressed for our kid photo session in 45 minutes.  She promptly threw up.

Oops.  I bow my head in mommy shame.

I guess we all get wrapped up in our schedules, routines and whatnot.  Kid chatter becomes background static noise.  I, personally, hear only static until I can get two cups of java down every morning.  This was my reminder to slow down and listen to my kids.  Stop what I’m doing, look them in the eye and have a genuine moment.  After all, that’s what I want from other people.  Kids count, too.

My other stellar mommy challenge:  My.  House.  Is.  A.  Clutterfest.

This summer, I just can’t find a balance between taking care of the outside stuff and keeping the inside stuff in order.  School journals still sit on my washer from last school year.  3 partially complete knitting projects keep that company and I think I lost several knitting needles to the dark depths behind the washer.  There is too much STUFF here and there.  I feel the itch of simplifying it all.  Donate.  Send it to a garage sale.  Recycle.  My one obstacle is that I must carry out this mission during kid off-hours.  Meaning, they MUST be elsewhere or they will notice just how much they looovvveeedddd that stuffed rabbit that sat under their bed for a year.  Luckily, school is just around the corner, when I can roll up my sleeves and carry out my secret mission.

For now, I can work at having more genuine moments with my kids.  DAILY.  They grow up so fast, I don’t want to miss a minute.

2007DogDaysSummer

Plans B or C

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It’s August.  My friends are suddenly restless.  A new school year approaches.  Specifically, the youngest of our broods will join KINDERGARTEN.  What is Plan B after ALL of our kids are in school?  Do we want to go back to school?  Do we want to find work?  I admit I have not given it a single thought for two years.  Being crazy in love with my life void of salary, I only worry about daily stuff:  aka My Plan B.  The cleaning, the errands, the pet maintenance, homework monitoring, different school start/stop times, different kid sports start/stop times, playdates, did the garden get watered and what’s for dinner…. that is my tunnel vision.  It is blissfully chaotic and more rewarding than ever.
My Plan B has aged like fine wine.  I wanted to be happy (no more commute).  I wanted to do things that matter to me (no more dropping my kids off at a daycare for 12 hours).  I wanted to embrace life (feed my spirit without triple lattes to hold me up) and I wanted to make a positive impact (beginning with a break from soul-sucking job haters).  Every morning, I taste a sweeter satisfaction with my life.  It doesn’t matter that I’m scrubbing toilets and cleaning up lizard poop.  My family is happy with me.  I am happy with me.  Plan B has worked out very well.

Is it really time to spark Plan C?

I have a vision board.  Simply put, I attached pictures of things that made me happy onto a piece of poster paper.  How did I envision my life?  What feels happy and peaceful?  What was important to me?  I stared at this board for a full year back in 2009.  Then, it fell behind my dresser. Since this Plan C business started tugging at my pant leg, I wrenched it the board back out into civilization.  Now, I stand and stare it.  Now, it’s my desktop wallpaper.  The more I visualize it…the more sense I have about making them apart of my life.

My Vision Board

You know what?  I’m tickled to report that many of these ideas are a part of my life now.  Others are planned.  Others scare the heck out of me.  For now, I’m going to add to it.  Stare at it some more.  Tackle it again when it feels right.  I like living my “now.”  I am not restless.

Hey, check out our living “now” over the last week.  We made miniature gardens, fixed and ugly problem and enjoyed some treats!

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