Monday, October 20, 2014

Shouldering On

Once I had a shoulder. It was a nice shoulder, soft, flexible, and strong. Then I went to the gym and used an above-the-head weight machine. This is a machine I've used many, many times before, and my shoulder never complained. But one day it happened. 

My shoulder had enough and I heard a lovely little Pop!- and I could no longer use the weight machine.

A few months later it felt tons better, and I had to pack up a three-story house by myself. some of the boxes were 70 lbs. but I did it, and my shoulder never said a word.

At least until a few months after the move. It started out as a tiny whimper, a small whine, and infinitesimal grumble once in a while. I continued doing my mom, wife, and homemaker thing, and rested it when it started complaining a little too much, which wasn't often. That was two years ago.

Now my shoulder is a cantankerous, cranky old nag that refuses to leave me alone- and hinders me from doing the simplest of chores. Lifting a frying pan has become hazardous to my well being, and grocery shopping is torture. So I went to my clinic. I went to my clinic for over a year for the same issue, and they kept telling me the same thing over and over. It's tendinitis. Stop lifting stuff.

I am a mother, people. You know as well as I do that if I don't lift it, no one else will. But the pain got so bad that for a while, I did stop lifting stuff. So now I sit here, still in pain, and a house that looks like it was hit with a garbage truck.

I had had enough.

My next appointment warranted a slightly veiled threat to the intern. If you medical people don't stop looking at the outside of my shoulder and start looking at the inside, you are going to have one very large, loud woman to deal with- one who can sing very bad opera. The intern (I never get the resident doctor) relented and scheduled me for an X-ray. An x-ray. Two seconds ago you're telling me it's tendinitis, next you're setting me up for an x-ray. X-rays are for bones, you twit. Not tendons. Why give me an x-ray?

The clinic intern replied, "It's procedure. If we don't see anything, then we'll do an MRI."

Procedure. Translate that into "Let's waste even more time and resources doing something that might kinda-sorta tell us what might possibly be wrong before we do something that could actually help you" and you get the idea. Clinics have a lot of "procedures", hoping you'll get frustrated enough to go away.

But they underestimate me. I'm a very stubborn, large woman who has two teenagers. I have enough body mass and gumption to wait out your silly "procedures". And I'll sing very bad opera while I wait. 

Last week, I had my x-ray in record time. I think the intern told the tech of my opera skills. This makes me very happy.

My x-ray review appointment will be this week. Let's see what the pretty picture is and if in fact there is anything worth seeing- or will they finally break down and schedule an MRI?

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of "Shouldering On"- when I divulge the test results!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cook vs. Chef

I am a cook. My husband is a chef. Neither of us has been to culinary school. He's a natural, and I had to learn from others- and sometimes from him.

What's the difference between a cook and a chef? Allow me to break it down for you:

A cook makes simple meals with a few stocked ingredients.
A chef makes elaborate meals with five hundred thirty-six ingredients that need to be bought fresh that day.

A cook uses one pot to boil water.
A chef uses twenty-seven.

A cook usually uses no more than two pots or pans to make a meal.
A chef uses every pot, pan, baking sheet, mixing bowl, utensil, and kitchen gadget to make a meal.

A cook cleans the kitchen as the food cooks. 
A chef never cleans or rinses anything and tosses everything in the sink and on the counters.

A cook has a dirty apron and a clean kitchen when the food is done.
A chef has a clean apron and a kitchen that needs a HAZMAT team when the food is done.

A cook's food taste like it was from mom.
A chef's food tastes like we got it at a fancy restaurant.

A cook usually has leftovers.
A chef never has leftovers.

A cook, at the last minute, can make something edible out of hot dogs and spaghetti.
A chef, at the last minute, can use what's in the fridge to make a brand new, fantastic recipe worthy of publication in Food and Wine magazine.

A cook hates it when the chef accomplishes the above and complains to all of her friends.
A chef loves it when he accomplishes the above and brags to all of his and her friends.

I am a cook. I cook all week, sometimes twice a day. My husband is a chef who cooks twice a week, usually on the weekends. Thank You God that he doesn't cook more often- I don't think the kitchen (or I) could handle it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

School and Crossbones

What on earth are the schools of today teaching our children?

I grew up on Phonics. My kids are pushed through the school system and still have trouble spelling the simplest of words.

I could do simple math and add a column of numbers together within a minute. My kids are learning a convoluted five to seven step process that a nuclear scientist would have trouble deciphering, no less my simple-minded self. Trying to teach the kids my way? Teachers beat me out every time. Teachers know more than me, they say. I believe that's true- especially when it comes to new math- but at least I can add a column of numbers without needing a ream of paper.
One math teacher berated my son for trying to do a math problem in his head instead of using a calculator. His reason? "Because he took too long". Even though he got the answer right, he was disciplined by the teacher and told if he did it again (therefore delaying class) he would get a detention. (this was a few years ago.)

I know what real food, healthy food really is. The school system just allowed all kids to eat for free. Free food, everyone! So my daughter fell for it. The other day she told me she was hungry. Why? Because her lunch consisted of a bun with a slice of tomato, lettuce, mustard and mayonnaise. They consider this healthy?

I was going to suggest they start a school garden to help teach kids what good food is, but the government is starting to ban home gardens- would my petition even get through the red tape?

Health classes consisted of a few slides and a lot of giggles, blushes, and pointing, but at least we learned how our bodies worked. Now they teach about sexual orientation, birth control, and other things I won't even mention on this family-friendly blog. But none of it had anything to do with how our bodies worked. Why do kids need to know that from a teacher? Just teach them how stuff works, please, and let me do the rest, thank you.

And many schools allow kids to bring in movies to watch on occasion. Movies? Some aren't even appropriate for kids, no less in an environment for learning. The only movies we were allowed to watch were educational like Disney cavemen teaching about music, or serious documentaries about historical disasters- not Harry Potter and Sponge Bob! One lunch lady commented that she played a kids movie during lunches to keep the kids quiet- they made too much noise when talking to each other. This is possibly the only time in their day they get to talk and the adults want to stop it?

Schools teach kids there is no easy way to solve a problem, to always use a calculator instead of your brains, and eat what we tell you, because we say it's good. Why socialize when movies can be played, and yes, sex is okay if we give you birth control. Egad.

My question to the schools is this- where are the classes for economics to teach budgeting and being responsible with money? Where are the cooking classes, the sewing classes that teach you to make a simple meal or fix a tear or  put on a button? Where are the classes that teach how to build bird houses, bat houses, and "off grid" mechanics to help our lessen the carbon footprint on the environment? Those are classes the kids need!

We need to start shouting, sister and brothers of the school system. We need to start fighting for Phonics, simple math, and letting our kids use their brains and talk things out with each other. We need people in the system to guide kids when things get out of hand in the lunchroom- Teach them respect for others and how to get along without a screen constantly in their faces. We need to teach them what a serving is, what is good food, and how to grow it.

We can teach them a lot at home, but let's face it- the kids spend nearly eight hours a day in the hands of strangers under someone else's agenda. If we just sit back, they will take over and eventually we'll have no say over the matter. 

Either that or start a series of community home school groups!

Monday, September 29, 2014

One Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest

A few weeks ago, I had the flu.

It wasn't the bad one, with the hacking and coughing, but the one with the fever and feeling comatose for about two weeks. I also didn't want to eat. I ate because I needed to. You stop eating, you die- it's a survival thing. I liked living, so I ate- but only when I had to.

Last week, I had a doc's appointment. This is the part where they weigh me and shake their heads as they write that nasty three-digit number on my chart. But this time the number was significantly smaller.

Fourteen pounds smaller.

This is quite uncommon for me. I never lose weight when I'm sick. Ever. In fact, most times I gain weight. I've been seeing a nutritionist and I've been behaving myself concerning portions and food, so that might factor in some of this weight loss, but I'm sure barely eating for two weeks has a little something to do with it too.

I was ecstatic! 

When the intern came in and looked at my chart, we discussed what was going on. As soon as he heard I'd had the flu, the first question he asked was "Do I want a flu shot?"

I gaped at him, incredulous. "Are you kidding? Absolutely not!"

"Do you want to get sick again?" He asked.

I replied, "Dude, I lost fourteen pounds! What do you think?"

He just smiled and shook his head, making notes in my file.

I really don't want to get sick again (and I don't do flu shots anyway), but he didn't need to know that...right?

All in all, getting the flu was a good thing. I learned that I can survive on a lot less food that I thought, and portion control is no longer an issue. I even went to a buffet for a party the other day and had one plate. One. This was a buffet, people. An all-you-can-eat extravaganza of shrimp, steak, and roast beef, and I had a single plateful. I was satisfied, and I stopped eating. I was very proud of myself.

Maybe getting the flu wasn't so bad after all!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Flowers in Your Time Garden

We've all done it. We look at our schedules and all we see are appointments and "things to do". Kids need to go here, Husband needs to go there, you need to go here, there, and everywhere. Even the pets are busy. And by the end of the week, we're exhausted without really understanding why. 

Life used to be basic and simple. What happened?

Weeds have grown into the Time Garden of our lives. We just never noticed them until they grew through the flowers.

If you're anything like me, you're schedule gets full pretty quickly. It's easy to fill in all of those blanks with busywork of weeds...right? White space is a bad thing- especially when it shows up on our weekly calendars.

But there's the rub. We leave that space open instead of filling it with flowers. Flowers are things we do to wind down, regroup, and relax. If we planted flowers, the weeds would have no where to grow!

We need time out of our days to spend with family, down time to rest, read, or go for a walk; it doesn't matter what the activity is, but it needs to be something you enjoy doing. And if it isn't planned out the second you see that blank schedule page, it simply won't get done.

When I plant flowers during my week, I actually get more done because I feel energized. The stress is much less that it was (stress is never ever gone, because I'm a mom), and I'm a nicer person to deal with. 

Oh, but when I don't plant flowers....look out!

I used to feel my life was out of my control- so much to do, and so little time for fun! But when I plan the fun ahead of time, I do have more control. And life is better.

It's not easy stepping back from a busy schedule to one that actually allows you to breathe, but the effort is worth it. And it is an effort. It's hard for anyone to change from the faster pace that they're used to.

This week I have a lot of chores to do. The house is a wreck and I have writing deadlines. But I also plan on going for walks and having a friend over for tea this week. That time will be cherished and will keep me from getting too stressed- and that in turn makes my family happy.

Because we all know if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! And that, my dear readers, is the honest truth. I need that down time to remain sane.

Please plant those precious flowers on that blank schedule before your week begins- and watch the blessings bloom!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Don't Downplay The Yays!

When we were born, our parents celebrated everything we did, because we were doing it for the first time. When we were older, new achievements were set and accomplished with applause, wide grins, and cheers of "You did it!" and "Way to go!" ringing in our ears.

Ah, the glory days. We knew them well.

Now that we're adults, there never seems to be much to cheer about- unless you want the office fist-pumping for your last trip to the bathroom. Nah, I didn't think so.

People don't tend to celebrate the little things anymore, nor report them to friends because the triumph seems so small an accomplishment. But inside we are disappointed that no one else noticed and gave us some form of acknowledgement.

A perfect example for me was when I came down with the flu and could barely move for several days. Any effort was a huge one, and even a small walk from one room to another left me shaking and dizzy. Yet I kept trying, glad that I wasn't a complete amoeba, and moved a little farther and a little better every day.

My son watched me closely as I made my way from the kitchen to the living room couch. I thought it was just to make sure I got there without falling, but when I sat down, he let out a cheer. "You did it Mom! You made it all the way without stopping this time! Good job!"

Darned if that didn't make me grin and feel all happy inside. He knew I was really sick, and he also knew I'd needed help making the same trip the day before. And making it across the room by myself was cause for celebration.

I'm not just talking about when we're sick. I'm also talking about the little things we accomplish each day. It could be something you've never done before that takes a step in the right direction, getting more things off your "To Do" list, beating your son at chess (finally), or even stepping out of your culinary box and making something new for dinner. If it makes you happy, that's all you need to cheer!

Don't shy away from cheering someone else in their Yay moments. 

A friend of mine called me all excited that she had just learned how to make homemade mashed potatoes. Now, I make them all the time, but she is a microwave mom, so this was huge for her. I cheered her on like she had won the Superbowl all by herself. Now she wants to try new recipes and I'll be there to help and cheer her on.

You might have done their particular Yay moment all of your life, but it's a biggie in their life, and therefore should be celebrated.
Don't downplay the Yays in your life and in the lives of those around you. Encourage each other. Celebrate the little things. It might just make someone's day!

Monday, September 8, 2014


It isn't easy getting out of a rut. Sometimes you need to walk away from a situation to see things from another angle. It's hard to see where you are if your eyes are plastered against the wall. 

In this case, life itself was in a rut- doing the same things every day, all day. I don't care if you're a housewife like me, or a businesswoman, we all wind up getting frustrated when spinning our wheels. 

So, we planned a camping weekend. 

We had a three-hundred square foot cabin that consisted of a bathroom and shower, and the main room was also the bedroom- for all four of us. My husband, me, and my two teenagers. You foresee no problems there...right?

Now for you hard-core campers, it might seem a great luxury to have working plumbing in a small cabin, but let me enlighten you- a woman over forty can't always make the quarter-mile trek to the public bathrooms in time, and teenagers (especially boys) must take showers or no one will be able to breathe. Breathing is a good thing- you want to do that. A lot.

There was no kitchen. Everything was going to be cooked over a campfire or on the camp stove. I spent and entire day making meals for the trip, just so I wouldn't have to cook when we arrived. Hey, it's my get-away too! Throw it in a pot or on the fire, and we're good. I was ready.

Except I didn't make a packing list. I always make a packing list. And my husband was in a hurry to get going. He's always in a hurry to get going. After we unpacked, time was wasted buying things I had left at home. Note to self- make a list next time- your memory has more holes than a colander shot with an uzi.

Living in so small a space is good for the short-term. We learned that wooden bunk beds creak a lot, so we moved my restless son's mattress to the floor after the first night. We learned that every one of us snores. We also learned to shut it out so we could sleep. And neatness was not only a virtue, but a necessity- especially in the middle of the night when you're trying not to kill yourself as you head for the bathroom.

By the end of the get-away, the cabin seemed quite spacious, and I even came up with a few cool ideas for turning walls into table space, and using other space-saving devices that would improve living conditions had we ever had to live there. 

Just as we got used to everything, it was time to go home.

We arrived to what seems now a mansion, and everywhere I look I see luxuries...and mess. I also see many opportunities for personal growth as a mom, wife, homemaker and writer, now that I have on my perspectacles. They help me see things that I never would have seen in my rut.

I'm excited. I have new plans to make, new ideas to try. And, thanks to God, a new perspective on how better to serve Him through my family!