Category Archives: Food

I am now the mother of a teenager

Yesterday was my son’s thirteenth birthday. He is now officially a teenager. How quickly time seems to pass, until you are put in pandemic lockdown and time seemingly stands still, of course.

Normally, we would have thrown a party for this guy. Pizza, ice cream, video games, and a house full of rambunctious, stinky boys. I was a little heartbroken that we couldn’t do that but Luke took it really well. Besides wanting spending money so he could purchase the exact graphics card he’s been wanting for awhile (he’s a bit of a computer geek) he requested Taco Bell for dinner and my homemade cheesecake for dessert. (*Just want to toot my own horn here, but Mom’s cheesecake ranks #1 on his favorite foods list!)

Grandma drove an hour and a half each way to bring Luke a box of donuts for breakfast and visit with us in person. It was raining, so we all huddled in the garage and talked with Grandma from a safe distance away. While it sucked to have to visit that way, it was really nice to see her and I’m so glad she made the trek.

Overall, it was a pretty chill day. As you can see from the photos above, the cheesecake turned out beautifully and was a big hit. Between all the donuts, the tacos, and the cheesecake, Luke was pretty full. That second photo is good evidence that he was in a food-induced coma by the end of the day.

Now I’ll leave you with this, a lame haiku for my son:

Happy birthday Luke
Now a teen in quarantine
He loves his cheesecake

Crochet and Books

I hopped on today and saw that I hadn’t posted in nearly a month. Which is crazy, because it’s not like I’ve been on vacation or anything. Cuz, you know, the coronavirus and all. I live in Michigan, and if you’ve heard, we are under an executive order from our Governor to stay at home. I’m not going to go into all that because I’m so tired of all the political talk and the pandemic news and it’s all very emotionally exhausting. Which I suppose is why I haven’t been posting.

That is not to say I haven’t been up to anything. I completed an afghan for a nephew and started another one for a niece. I have 14 nieces and nephews and I’ve completed 6 blankets, so I’m almost halfway done! It’s a great way to pass the time. The pattern I use is very repetitive so I don’t even have to think about it much. I will usually crochet while listening to an audiobook or a podcast or watching tv.

I also have acquired a couple new gadgets. Mom toys, if you will. I bought myself a Ninja Foodi pressure cooker/air fryer thingamajig to celebrate my 21st wedding anniversary last month. I figured it was like a gift for both of us, because I have fun using it, and my husband gets to enjoy the food I make in it. Then for Mother’s Day my husband bought me (us) a robot vacuum. Like a Roomba but an off-brand. I didn’t think I would love it, and it’s such a cliché thing to buy for the mother of your children, but I am having fun with it. There is an APP you can use to operate it, and I’m a big fan of apps, so that kind of sold me on the whole idea. That and I believe our house is starting to smell a little less like dog and bacon grease.

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. I recently finished Where the Crawdads Sing and I absolutely loved the entire story. It ended in a way that I did not expect, and it was beautiful. I’m not one to re-read books, but that’s one I think I could read over and over and not get tired of.

I also finished the audiobook, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, as read by it’s author, Stephen King. I haven’t read many of King’s books but what I have read I’ve enjoyed, and I love the movies that have been made based on his stories (Stand By Me, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption). I’m not generally into sci-fi or paranormal and I definitely don’t enjoy downright scary stuff, but those were all stories I enjoyed. And for all the crazy stuff he writes, Stephen KIng is a surprisingly normal guy. In this book he gave a lot of great advice for aspiring writers, so if that’s you, I highly recommend reading it.

Last night I stayed up super late reading The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I had to stay up late in order to finish it before the library loan ended, but also I just had to know how it ended! This was a great book based on a true story and was extremely thought provoking. Worth a read, for sure.

I think that’s all for now, folks. The month of May is crawling along while I hide away in my little turtle shell. Until I poke my head out again, I wish you all well!

Dinnertime

I’ve always been a planner, and for the last several years I have established a routine of planning our meals on a weekly basis. I know meal planning is not for everyone, but it just makes things easier and way less stressful for me. With that last grocery trip, we are set for at least two weeks of meals. And since all the events have been cancelled, I now have something to fill out my fridge calendar:

But that’s not all the fun I’ve been having! Thursday I had a video visit with my new cochlear surgeon. We needed to meet so they could “establish care” which I guess just makes things easier when working with the manufacturer of my implants, especially when it’s time to upgrade to the newer model.

This coming week I have my regular Tysabri infusion. For the first time in years, I’m nervous about going to this. My last infusion was just days before everything shut down, but now we are in full blown shelter in place status and I am worried that I might pick up the virus and bring it home to my family. But my husband and I both agree (as does my neurologist) that the risk of another MS relapse is a far greater risk, and so I must get this infusion. The last time I missed a dose, I lost 60% of my vision, permanently. So I’m going, but I am going to be as safe as possible. Rather than riding the Spec-tran, I’ll be dropped off by my husband. I’ll be wearing an N95 mask (he had a few in the garage that his dad reminded him he’d given him awhile ago) and rubber gloves. I told hubby I thought I would look like some kind of freak walking into the infusion center and he said probably not, because everyone else there will be dressed the same. I don’t think the nurses are going to give me any grief over being too careful. So I’m sure it will be fine, but if you wanna mark your calendars to pray for me Wednesday, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve really been enjoying our family dinners lately. We’ve always eaten together as a family, nearly every night, but family dinnertime feels different now. Our schedules are clear, so we are far less rushed. Nobody has anywhere they need to be. A couple nights ago we were all sitting around the table and legitimately enjoying each other’s company. We were talking about what we planned to do, where we planned to go after all this is over. My daughter brought up some great memories of a trip I took her and her brother on, to visit downtown Lansing. Together, we reminisced about all the places we visited that day and what fun we had. Then she said we should go again. Sigh. I love that girl. She’s a city girl, just like her momma.

I worry sometimes about my daughter because she’s extremely introverted, and she’s spent almost every waking hour of this quarantine holed up in her room, playing Roblox. But then she comes out and chats up a storm, telling me all about the fun she’s having. The other night we watched Dr. Strange together, at her request, and after the movie was over we discussed our favorite parts of the movie.

So, I feel like I’m bonding with each of my kids, in entirely different ways. It’s been really nice. This quarantine stuff certainly stinks, and it sure wasn’t what any of us would have planned for our lives, but I’m thanking God for the opportunities it’s giving us. Every storm cloud has a silver lining, and I hope that you are finding your silver lining amidst this storm.

Getting Groceries these days

Ordering groceries these days is really…. weird. First off, the stores have been running out of a lot of things: toilet paper, flour, all the frozen things. Some of the shortages are due to people just panicking and losing their dang minds – like the toilet paper shortage which I’m sure everyone in this country is aware of. But flour and frozen foods, I think those things are flying off shelves because a lot of people are doing what we are doing, stocking up to minimize their trips to the store. So when I placed the order I warned my husband that we might not get everything that we wanted, but we agreed that “we’ll get what we get and we won’t throw a fit.” Of course, I said I might throw a little bit of a fit, but I would do my best to keep it contained.

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So the weird part though, is that the shoppers are dropping the groceries off on people’s porches or in their garages. And then they leave. It’s the safest thing we can do right now to minimize exposure, but it’s strange, not to have the normal face to face interaction. Especially when they know that you are right inside the house, watching them unload the groceries. The Aldi shopper apologized to me that my groceries might smell like disinfectant because she uses a lot of it. I told her she was our people, and thanked her profusely. Then she sent the above picture to let me know everything had been unloaded and it was safe to come outside and get our stuff.

As you can see from the photo, we also had a Meijer order delivered shortly before. We had to order from two different stores in order to get all the things we needed. My husband, standing there at the back of the truck, wiped every item down with a disinfecting wipe and I brought them in once they were clean. It was a super fun process I do not look forward to repeating in two weeks when we’ve run out of food and supplies again.

Y’all, in a normal, coronavirus-free world, grocery shopping is one of my least favorite things to do. So I am super grateful for all the shoppers working their a$$es off to make sure the rest of us are well fed and safe at the same time. We are in strange times these days. Be patient, be kind. We won’t be here forever.

Another List?

Things I’ve learned about myself in the past couple of months:

  1. I really like the band Cake. Like, a lot. Pandora keeps playing their songs and I have loved every single one of them. Most of them I had never heard before, so it’s cool to find “new” music that is also enjoyable (with the cochlear implants and all…)
  2. I feel a lot more human when I’m wearing a pair of jeans. As opposed to skirts or leggings or khakis. I know some people don’t find jeans comfortable, but I’m not one of them. Jeans are good. I’m keeping them.
  3. That’s it. Just those two things. So not really a list, I guess. Sorry if I led you on. I’ll keep writing stuff for you to read, don’t worry. I’m thinking my next post will probably be about food and my wonderful cooking. So stay tuned, I am here for you!!

Slowing down has its perks

When times are tough it helps to look at the positive right? The proverbial silver lining. So here is my list of things I’ve enjoyed about this mandated social distancing:

  1. All meetings are held online, so I don’t need to concern myself with arranging rides.
  2. More time to crochet blankets, hats and coasters.
  3. More time to read the ridiculously long list of library books I’ve started reading and wasn’t able to finish before the loan expired.
  4. I don’t have to arrange the family dinner around evening activities.
  5. I can make breakfast for my family on Saturday mornings.
  6. Walks around the neighborhood with my kids (well, so far 1 kid and the dog).
  7. Running nearly every day.

I feel like last all last week I had a lot to say, a lot to blog about, but it didn’t feel right to publish anything just yet. I wanted to hold it close for awhile and see how I felt about things first. The first part of the week was busy because we had to do all our BSF meetings online. It was a little nerve-wracking but it all worked out very well. The second part of the week was a whole lot of nothing, giving me more time to really process the gravity of the situation we are all in. So now I’m feel a little less unsettled. Now I can comfortably get back to boring you all with my daily minutiae. I’ll probably keep talking about running, crocheting, and maybe even about the books I’m reading. I’m sure I’ll throw some tidbits in regarding the dog too. Be on the lookout!

Good days

I came back from tonight’s Financial Peace class really energized and excited. It was the baby step 2, dumping debt lesson, and that one always gets me a little emotional. We had really great discussion and everyone seems to be coming from very different places in their financial journey, yet we were able to have mutual respect for each other and a cohesive, lively discussion. I’m super stoked and looking forward to next 7 weeks.

Also, I’ve been working hard to not hate cooking lately. I get myself psyched up for each meal by streaming music to my cochlears and I wear a fancy apron and I dance while I’m cooking and stirring and measuring. When I started this ritual a couple weeks ago I made several really bonehead mistakes and screwed up some of the easiest dishes. Tacos, mashed potatoes, rice, stuff like that. My family takes it in stride but I think only because they love me and I laugh with them when they are laughing at me. It’s all good. Tonight we had baked herb chicken with salad and stuffing. I didn’t mess anything up and nobody complained so it’s a half win. If anyone had raved about it I would have called it a winner and made a note to add it to the list of regulars, but it was just meh.

I’m doing really well lately, all around. I’ve got some minor health issues but I’m working with my doctors to get to the bottom of things and I’m not in any pain or discomfort. For now, anyway. It comes and goes but it’s nothing serious.

That’s a little cryptic but I’m leaving it there. I’m trying to focus more on positive things that are happening around me and less on the other stuff. For now. We’ll see how long I can keep up with it. Ha!

Oh! I’ve been stuck writing my memoir but I received some great encouragement from other writers. One, it’s a very long process and I would do good to stop rushing myself. Two, I need to keep my primary purpose in writing the book front and center. And three, I need to write an outline. That last one seemed so simple, I was kicking myself for not having thought of it, but sometimes it’s hard to see clearly when you’re in the middle of it. So this week that is my writing goal. Start writing an outline.

That’s all for tonight folks. I leave you with these nuggets of wisdom given by our guest preacher at church today:

“Wilderness living is designed to make us willing.

Even Jesus had to be perfected through suffering.”

Reading and Running

Lately, I haven’t had anything very inspirational I’ve felt like writing. So I just haven’t been writing. For fear of boring you with all the details of my day to day. But the alternative to writing the mundane hodgepodge is to not write at all, and that’s maybe not great either. Because as I learned in a recent audio book I just finished “reading” (The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr, if you love science!), your brain is like a muscle. If you don’t use parts of it, they shrink and it becomes harder to access them down the road. So I’m exercising my writing muscle by writing even when I don’t have anything to write about. And as I’m writing, I’m sure something will come to mind. That’s always how it seems to work, anyway.

I’ve really been craving dark chocolate. I don’t know why I never keep any around the house.

I have not been running these past couple of weeks. I think after the bout of fatigue following Thanksgiving, I sort of fell out of the habit. I’m hoping to get back into it this weekend though. If the weather cooperates, of course. Treadmill running still sucks.

BUT! I do want to tell you how the Turkey Trot 5k went, but I want to be careful not to toot my own horn too loudly. So you know I was training, sort of, trying to increase my speed, and was hoping to beat my previous PR of 38:24. But even if I didn’t beat my PR, this was a memorable race. I ran it with my son, who is much faster than I am. I wished him luck and left him at the head of the pack with all the seriously fast runners, and scooted back as far as I could because I knew otherwise I would get trampled when the race started. This race was huge. I think the final count was around 5000 people. Maybe not large by other people’s standards, but it was by far the biggest 5k I had ever run. So with that many people the energy was pretty awesome.

The gun went off and I started running, and people immediately started zooming past me. I would have moved to the side to get out of the way, but I was so worried about tripping I stayed in the middle of the road where I knew there would be fewer potholes and cracks. Did I mention this was the first race I have ever run solo? No guide runners, no sign on my back to alert people that I was a deaf/blind runner. I had this sort of overwhelming sense – throughout the race – that I belonged there. That I was a real runner just like the rest of them. Note that I had not realized until this moment that I ever felt like I wasn’t one of them. So this was a brand new revelation, and I believe it is what propelled me forward, as fast as my feet would let me.

I was getting periodic updates from Runkeeper to tell me of my current speed, but I wasn’t paying attention enough to calculate what my average was looking like. I was just trying to enjoy the moment. So when I reached the finish and saw that my time was just coming up on 34 minutes, I was flabbergasted. My finish time was 34:03 – a full four minutes and 21 seconds faster than my last PR in May. I still don’t even understand how that is humanly possible. Not for me, at least, a woman with M.S. And certainly not in that short of a time period.

I’m still in a mild state of disbelief over the whole thing, but I’m now finally able to process it a bit more. I think the difference for that race, and my speed training on the treadmill leading up to it, is that I dared to run a pace that was just a bit past my comfort zone. Then when that felt comfortable, I pushed a little harder. So if I can just remember to push myself a little bit each time I’m out there, push the envelope so to speak, I know I can complete a full marathon next year, which is my next big running goal. I just have to be careful to be wise about it, and not push myself too hard or too fast. Know my limits, listen to my body and rest when it needs rest. I’ve learned so much this year about my capabilities, both mentally and physically, that I feel ready for this next step.

So I guess this post ended up being mostly about running. Sorry, not sorry. What else? Christmas is coming! I’m not ready, but who ever is? I’ll be ready when I need to be. I’ve been keeping busy with Bible Study Fellowship, bookkeeping for the church, and taking care of the home. Sadly the home sometimes takes a backseat to the other stuff but I’m working on fixing that. In my down time, my relaxing time, I’m doing a lot of crocheting and reading. I have a growing list of books I’ve started reading but couldn’t finish before the library’s digital copy expired, so I’m one by one working through knocking those off the Goodreads list. Not to say that like it’s a chore or anything. I still love my books.

That’s all for now folks! Tell me, what’s your favorite book to read over the holiday season?

Official Break-up

My brain is finally letting me sit and truly relax a bit so I have a hot cup of coffee next to me, my laptop, and my cozy blankets. Yes – blankets – plural. Because snuggling up in a recliner with a couple cozy afghans is one of my favorite things about the fall season.

I learned this past week that dairy and I can no longer be friends. I learned it pretty quickly with bacon, and I accepted it graciously and moved on. But dairy has been a little harder. I gave up eating meat and eggs and dairy, all at different times over the years. Over time I have reintroduced things here and there, paying close attention to how my body responds to each food. Eggs seem to be totally fine, which makes me happy because eggs are great. Some meat, as long as I don’t overdo it with quantity, is fine. Almost no effects at all. Bacon, however, wrecks me. Stabbing, crippling pain and a headache that won’t quit. Legit wrecks me and leaves me useless for almost a day. So I don’t even mess around with bacon, and I’m okay with that.

Dairy, however, was the hardest for me to give up, and I admit I’ve been flirting with it a lot the past several months. I’ll snack on some cheese here and there, but nothing serious. Then Thanksgiving came, and with it lots of leftovers from the day’s meal, including a carton of half and half, my formerly favorite coffee additive. Sooo for the last five days I’ve been indulging in coffee with half and half in it. This morning as I rolled out of bed and padded down the stairs to make my morning coffee, it occurred to me that something had changed. I have slowly been sliding back into a state of fatigue. I’m having a harder time waking up, and my legs are heavy. It’s as if my body just doesn’t want to move. Also, my face has been breaking out more than usual, even with my new rosacea treatments. I kid you not, I have a zit right now IN MY EAR LOBE.

I’m blaming all of this on the half and half. And maybe the whipped cream and pumpkin pie. Because nothing else has changed, that I can think of. I’ve been without the debilitating fatigue of M.S. for a blissful long time now, coincidentally ever since I stopped consuming dairy. For it to show up like this so quickly, I believe, is no coincidence. So, I’m dumping out the half and half. It pains me to feel like I’m wasting it, but the alternative is to drink it and keep getting sicker. I think “wasting” it might be the wise decision here.

So you could call this my official break up with dairy. No more of this on-again off-again business. We’re done. I’ll remember fondly all the late night ice cream binges and the burritos covered in melted cheese. We had some good times, but it’s time to part ways. To commemorate this day, I leave you with this haiku:

Dairy, we had fun
Now you make me sick and tired
I must say goodbye

Running With Dogs

I’m seriously not trying to draw pictures when I run, but this map looks like the profile of a dog. Do you see it? The pointy little ears and turned up nose?


But! What’s even cooler is that this was my fastest 3 miles, and that was even while running with Piper for the first mile. I’ve been secretly hoping to run a PR at the Turkey Trot on Thursday and I’m starting to really believe it’s possible! My current 5k PR is 38:24 and I would LOVE to come in under that and then go home and chow down on Grandma’s homemade stuffing and corn casserole.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?