Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One year later

This past Saturday marked the one year anniversary of the passing of the Mr.'s dad, Ben. Dean is having a harder time of it than he thought he would, he's been caught off guard by the feelings of sadness and missing his dad.
My in-laws moved to Alabama from Michigan when I was pregnant with Mac in 1989. After that time, due to distance and tensions not worth reliving, we were never very close with them. They would actually visit Michigan when daboyz were small and never tell us they had been here. We'd find out from relatives that they had come and gone, never stopping in to see their grandchildren. Ah well, time heals...or it least dulls the pain...of all wounds.
And my Mr., being an exceptionally sweet man refused to carry a grudge. He remained respectful and loving to his mom and dad and adjusted his expectations and relationship in an "it is what it is" attitude.
A few years ago, after we had moved into our new home, Dean wanted his mom and dad to see our house. They were getting older, his mom was unwell and said his dad seemed to be showing the early signs of dementia. And so, in February of that year he called and told his mom we were coming down in May to get them and bring them to Michigan for a visit. He insisted. And we did. They stayed here for two weeks and a few months later his mom called to say that it was time for them to move back to Michigan. Ben did indeed have dementia and it was progressing quickly. She could not care for him and with her own health problems, couldn't really care for herself either. So back we went to Alabama in the fall and we brought that back north so that we could try to make life a little better for them.
Dean moved furniture and ran errands and made phone calls and found them a little apartment situated closer to his grandmother and aunts & uncles than to us. He said that was ok, he would drive the extra distance because the rest of the family was more likely to visit them if they were close by. Every Friday he went over early in the morning and took them grocery shopping and then out to lunch. His dad was confused and needed lots of direction and his mom in a wheelchair. Then he'd haul their groceries into the apartment, put them away and then proceed to clean and do laundry and spend time with them.
As Ben's illness progressed, hospitalizations occured and their care needs increased. Dean found them a wonderful woman who came during the week to check in and do housework and prepare their meals. Things got worse yet and he found them an apartment in a senior citizen's building. It was farther still from our house but closer to aunts & uncles and friends who could visit them.
Throughout the time they lived in Michigan, Ben deteriorated at a fast rate. He couldn't identify his wife, he hallucinated, he fell, he wandered. He could only remember one thing, "That's Dean, he'll take care of us!" Dean was his brother, his uncle, his dad...everything but his son. Most of all, he was Dean. The caretaker, provider and protector. Toward the end, Dean would hold Ben's hand while he pushed his mom's wheelchair through Wal Mart's every single Friday.
Dean who made sure his dad had a big cup of Tim Horton's coffee and donut every Friday morning even when Ben didn't know what the words to ask for them. He just knew when Dean brought that coffee and donut over, it sure did taste good.
Dean bought his dad the individual servings of ice cream from Gordon's because his mom couldn't get up and get him his favorite evening snack but Ben loved ice cream and he could handle getting the individual cups for himself with directions from his wife.
Dean went over there late on a Saturday night when his dad was confused and agitated. He cleaned the mess Ben had made in his panic, he gave him a shower, put him in clean pajamas and tucked him into bed when he finally exhausted himself.
Dean kissed his dad's cheek every time he saw him and said, "I love you Dad."
He called hospice when it was time to give comfort instead of cure. He sat at his side in the hospital at night so Ben wouldn't be restrained. He went to the apartment and picked up his mom daily and took her, pushing her in her wheelchair, to visit.
He fought for a bed at the veteran's hospital so his dad wouldn't be housed in a nursing home.
He sat holding his hand until Ben closed his eyes here and opened them in heaven.
Why am I reliving all of this? Because I remain amazed and in awe of this man God gave me. Shortly after Ben's death, Dean's mom moved back to Alabama and our lives resumed their regular pace. Life goes on. But I will never forget seeing my husband helping his dad open his Tim Horton's coffee and the smile on Ben's face, "This is Dean! He takes good care of us!"
He sure does.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Every so often, I take a deep breath, look around and think...what a rotten life. Well, probably not rotten but not quite perfect either. I don't usually post those moments, they seem ungrateful and unedifying. Mostly because they are.
I think of my friend who lives on 30 acres in the country backing up to state owned land that includes, get this, a waterfall.
I think of my friend who is a lifelong homemaker. No up and out the door and down the highway to work in the sweetest quiet hours of the morning.
I think of the Duchess of Cornwall who has good hair and is skinny and married to a hot prince.
I think many thoughts.

I don't long for a larger home, a new home or a more luxurious home. I don't wish I had a maid or a vacation in Bali. I don't understand the draw of the Coach purse. I'm a simple woman really.

But I think things like wishing for acres between me and the next neighbor. I daydream about country roads taking me home and whiling away hours pruning roses and living the life of Emily Dickinson quietly ensconced within the walls of the family manor writing poetry and wearing white linen all the livelong day.

I dream of the moment when the Mr.'s Marshall stack amp head and speaker no longer live in my living room allowing me to reclaim it as a quiet space with perhaps a reading chair and lamp.

But I digress.

There is an up side to every down and the gift of Christianity is not the relief of all disappointment nor the realization of every dream. It's the vision that changes, the widening understanding of life.

Fallen world that I occupy requires some dents in the fenders. The lovely little house I live in happens to be standing in the middle of a sea of such lovely little houses and not all occupied by people as lovely as myself (chuckle.)

Sometimes the needed prayer is one that checks my spirit...a little gratitude here? And sometimes, it's the prayer "Lord, help me cope with this world that sometimes seems rather a disappointment." That's the prayer I need to utilize more often. I tend to long for super-spirituality that is grateful and lovely in all things, and wouldn't I be proud to achieve such a sainted outlook?

I think God loves the moments when we admit to being entirely fed up, or even just partially fed up. Because this world isn't perfect, that is exactly the motivation for living for something else. The closeness of my neighbors whose drunken laughter awakens me at 2 a.m.? That has a purpose. One purpose is to stretch my heart toward tolerance and maybe even to pray for them. The other, often over-looked purpose, is to remind me...this is the imperfect time. It's the before, the through a glass darkly. It's sometimes dirty and frustrating and ever in need of repair.

Life needs redemption.

And so, if this little house within the sea of little houses is a temporary work station; it seems to be an inordinately luxurious one. The children of Israel dwelt in tents, 40 years of walking toward their promised land. I, on the other hand, dwell in a bungalow in Dearborn. My walk is happening on the inside. The Word tells us that the sandals of the Hebrews never wore out during all those years, and manna fell...enough to sustain. And he taught them how to stop and rest and worship and in their worship to find the next path and the strength to pick up and walk again.

Here I am, thousands of years later and still, we walk. My shoes wear out but I go to work and make a living and buy new ones and I guess that means, I too have sandals that do not really wear out after all. Provision comes from places other than the sky, making it too easy to think it is something other than manna. My tent has two bedrooms and a nice big yard.

Grumbling and wondering if I know better where my happiness might lie makes the days seem longer and my feet feel more tired. In the context of this temporary leg of the journey, it seems extravagant that this is my tent. As the Israelites wandered, so quickly laying aside the celebration at the Red Sea; their journey was confused and their purpose forgotten.

The generation that left Egypt, in fact, never saw the Promised Land.

I am one in a long line of those gone before me into the Promised Land. I have been at the feet of old people who have reassured me of that truth, I was young and now I am old but have never seen the righteous forsaken.

There is no excuse for my steps to be confused, my purpose forgotten.

Maybe it glorifies God to thank him for this wonderful tent and at the same time, to acknowledge its imperfections and frustrations. It keeps me walking.

Canaan Land is just in sight.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some wisdoms from my brains

1. There are so many things I don't do well and do my best to avoid. Lately, I'm learning the lesson that I must stop avoiding and let God teach me to do them better so that fear takes another step back from my life.
2. No matter how tired you are, straighten up your house. It'll make tomorrow morning so much nicer.
3. Expensive department store moisturizer is no better than drug store brand.
4. HOWEVER, expensive mascara is worth every penny.
5. Your hair is what it is, choose a hair style that doesn't require 2 hours and that actually stays in place and learn to live with it.
6. A gracious spirit is one of the sweetest fingerprints we can leave on the lives of others.
7. Thinking outside of the box is sometimes just a way to do things much less efficiently than we used to. Before you think outside of the box, look around. After all, you may be leaving a Tiffany's box and crawling into a McDonald's sack.
8. Do not underestimate pajamas.
9. Soup is God's perfect food.
10. Buy a beautiful cross necklace and wear it often.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy President's Day to ya! I'm on my day off and the Mr. took a vacation day so we are going to spend the day in our jammies and enjoying one another's company. Watching movies, maybe making popcorn? I'm feeling so blessed and peaceful this morning, so grateful that my life is what it is. We are nearing the one year anniversary of the passing of Dean's dad. He's been feeling a little melancholy, thinking about and missing Ben. We know he's with the Lord and so, we don't mourn hopelessly. Because of this great hope and sureness of God's promises, our gentle sadness is eased with things like spending quiet time together, relaxing and letting the Holy Spirit soothe our hearts.
Has anyone noticed that we are heading toward Spring? I don't just mean the mild temperatures here in the Mitten. This is the time of year when the quality of sunlight starts to change and the birds are chirping in the mornings and if you look carefully, you can find buds on the trees! Has me daydreaming of my back porch and evenings around the fire pit.
For the moment, it's time for another cup of coffee and Idiot Abroad on the DVR. Have a good day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The week

Shew, The Plague has claimed victim number two, me. Hopefully I'm the last on the hitlist. I wasn't nearly as sick as Mac and today I'm feeling on the mend. My goal is to eat a pancake, first solid food since Tuesday. I have to work the weekend so The Plague is on a deadline.

Having spend the week begging my innards to stay inside, there's not much to tell you. I will spare you the details of my adventures. I am rereading the Harmony series by Philip Gulley. I got my hairs did before things went south. And north.

Finally, above is my Valentine's gift from the Mr. A heart pendant!

Now it's time to face the pancake.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chicken Pasta

Today I found myself at home wanting to make something delicious for dinner but nothing particular in mind. So I gathered a bunch of whatever was on hand and came up with the following (it was wonderful!)

6 boneless chicken breasts (I used what I had thawed before I had a plan.)
1 pkg frozen broccoli
Cream cheese (one package)
Parsley, salt, pepper, garlic

In a deep skillet, I covered the chicken breasts with broth, brought it to a boil and reduced to simmer for about an hour. After an hour, discard most of the broth and shred the chicken. Add parsley, salt, pepper and garlic. Add package of frozen broccoli and continue to simmer until broccoli is warmed through.
Prepare fettuccine per package directions.
As fettuccine is cooking, throw one package of cream cheese into chicken and broccoli mixture. Stir into chicken continue stirring until cream cheese is melted into mixture. This will be quite thick, don't worry!
After fettuccine is done, reserve 1-2 cups of the water from the pasta and drain the rest.
Return pasta to pan, dump in chicken mixture and slowly add in reserved pasta water until desired consistency.

With it I served a salad of field greens, sliced strawberry, walnuts, tomato, cucumber and green onion with balsamic vinegar & olive oil. We had a loaf of Delray Hungarian rye, I mixed Herbs (sea salt, cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, parsley) and drizzled olive oil over it for dippin'.

Great dinner! Much better than alfredo sauce from a jar and sooooo easy! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pics but I'm sure it's not all that difficult to picture. :)

This morning is lovely~

I would describe this morning as lovely;
Temperatures cold, sun shining bright.
I would describe this house as perfect;
Imperfect occupants, a dog and a fire.
I would describe myself as grateful;
Abundantly blessed & wholly unworthy.
I would describe Jehovah as faithful;
Merciful, beautiful, provider & friend.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord, "though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow."

Isaiah 1:18

Saturday, February 11, 2012

1. Finally, a cold winter Michigan morning: snow & 12F.
2. Naturally, it happens on a day I have to haul myself to work, argh!
3. Mac seems to be 99%. Back to work this afternoon.
4. I have procrastinated cleaning out my old office and now the new manager is starting on Monday...guess what I have to do this weekend?
5. Most headaches are the result of dehydration. That's my theory.
6. Got our family room carpets cleaned.
7. Still hunting for a sectional. Going to save a bit more money and make a purchase in March.
8. Mongolian BBQ for dinner yesterday. It is sooooo delicious and still, I don't like it. Too noisy, don't like standing there waiting for my food to cook.
9. I ordered some pajamas from Kohl's over a week ago, still not shipped!
10. I am walking in the American Heart Walk, please consider supporting me! I'll post the link next week.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Well I have nothing exciting to say, so here is a picture of my (new) office. I moved a few months back but only had my camera with me a few days ago. I'm sure you've all been waiting to see. What you can't see is A. I have my own bathroom and B. The window looks down on the courtyard where the adult patients from the schizophrenia unit hang out. I spend a lot of time knocking on my window and miming, "put your pants on!"

The carpet cleaner guys will be here in a minute so I guess I'll get a move on. Nice visiting with ya!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The plague, furniture, soup, etc.

The Plague has descended. Mac is one sick kid. We would appreciate your prayers as he's feeling pretty rotten. Currently the only thing he can keep down is Arizona sweet iced tea. Weird.
The Mr. is on day 5 of 6 and decided to take Thursday off. He's happy to be off of that weird shift but his body is totally confused. He's going to spend Thursday having the carpets cleaned. That sounds fun, huh? Then it's back on the trail looking for new family room furniture.
And I made a delicious pot of soup, the recipe is below.

4 boneless chicken breasts
Italian salad dressing
6 carrots
4 celeries
Large chicken broth
6 potatoes
Taco seasoning
Colby cheese, shredded.

Marinate the chicken in Italian salad dressing overnight.
Place whole breasts into soup pot, add broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour. After the chicken is cooked through, remove to plate and shred.
Chop potatoes, carrots & celery, add to pot and top with water if necessary. Bring to boil & reduce to simmer until soft.
Dump in salsa.
Add taco seasoning and water to top off pot if needed. Remove from heat. Stir in one package of shredded colby cheese.

Sour cream, guacamole, tortilla chips would be great garnishes.

This was actually a result of not grocery shopping and using leftovers to make lunch! The salsa was about half a jar, adjust according to your taste.

And that is all I have to say for now!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.
Psalm 119:165

Saturday, February 04, 2012


1. Some growing pains at work. Things are getting better and I'm so thankful for my new boss. I'm learning a lot and becoming re motivated after almost 3 years of really struggling.
2. I am making my appointment today for new glasses! I'm suspicious that this is contributing to my headaches lately. I'm spending a lot more time in front of a computer and I bet I need readers.
3. I'm watching the news and they are having their weekly pet adoption segment, which is fine. Donny is a rescue pet and I'm all for it. But they have a very sweet adult cat needing a home and the cat is FIV (feline HIV) positive. It's not something dogs or humans can contract. They are looking for a home that can afford extensive veterinary care and is willing to provide a lot of special care to the cat as she gets sicker. Ok, listen, put the poor baby down. She's a cat. I'm sorry she has this disease, which I had never heard of. But put her down. Direct the money being spend to adopt her out and that will potentially be spent to care for her toward healthy animals. Am I nuts?
4. Number three is more of a rant than a statement.
5. I took Estroven last night thinking my sleeplessness has something to do with perimenopause. I slept great. One night is too soon to know if it really helped but I'll keep you updated. Stand by.
6. Super Bowl plans? A quiet evening at home. The Mr. is going to be mid 7 day stretch because of his new schedule and I have work Monday morning so we are planning not to plan anything. And looking forward to it.
7. Currently reading an Emily Dickinson biography. So interesting.
8. Still on the hunt for new family room furniture.
9. Still no snow and very mild temperatures in the Mitten.
10. I'm going to have Lucky Charms for breakfast.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Early morning rambling

Happy early morning from a balmy Mitten! I love snow but I can honestly say, I am not too sad that my early mornings and after work times aren't spent cleaning off my car, warming it up and trudging through snow & ice.
The Mr. has worked has last afternoon shift and we are all happy to have him home in the evenings, even the kid who doesn't live here anymore! Now he'll have to straighten his internal clock back out again. Yesterday morning he slept until noon after getting home at 5 a.m., fell asleep from 7-9 p.m. and then got up to wait for Mac to get home from work.
I am back on the insomnia train, sorry to report. I tossed and turned until 11 p.m. and then was wide awake at 2:30 this morning. Finally I got out of bed at 4:30. I have early meetings today and tomorrow, tonight I may have to take a few Benadryl and hit the sack extra early or it's going to catch up with me. On the bright side, lots of folks were prayed for while I was laying in bed!
What else shall I share with you? The Mr. bought me a Ninja blender and last night he made smoothies with it. So far (having not actually used it myself and in general having only used it once), I like it! Online reviews indicate it's a workhorse. We drink lots of smoothies and have gone through three cheaper blenders in about a year, burning out the motor with frozen fruit. The Ninja seems to be tough enough to handle it. I'm someone who puts good use to my counter top appliances like my mixer, food processor and blender so buying the less expensive items sometimes results in more long-term investment replacing them. The Mr. got me a Bundt coffee maker a few years back and I love love love it. Well, this has all been fascinating hasn't it?
Let's talk about my fattitude! I have terrrrrrible eating habits which are certainly contributing to my inability to lose this weight. Plus, don't tell anyone, but I may be getting older. Perimenopause anyone? My job is higher stress and less structure than the old days of being a floor nurse and in general, I don't take a lunch at all. This means, if there's junk around (and there usually is), that's what I grab on the run. If not, I literally don't eat all day and then when I get home at 6 in the evening I eat too much of all the wrong stuff. The last few weeks, I've added Slimfast shakes to my grocery list. I know, they are not the most healthful choice. However, realistically, stopping for a Slimfast in the morning and mid day is healthier than my former habit of plowing through the day without eating anything. I've been taking fresh fruit along as well. I don't know what impact this will have on my big ol' backside but I am definitely feeling better at work, less exhausted at the end of the day and less easily frustrated as my blood glucose is surely all over the map from my bad habits. Maybe with my new Ninja I will progress to making more healthy and wholesome smoothies to take to work. For the moment, I'm grateful for an easy "fix."
It's 5:16 so I think I'll have another cup of coffee and start getting ready for work. Now that you have all of the latest information regarding our sleeping habits, counter top appliances and diets you should feel well equipped to face the day :)