Saturday, July 1, 2017

About That Brain Tumor...

I'm not sure where to start. The thing is, my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. , an acoustic neuroma. What that means is that he had a tumor that started in his ear canal. But it got worse. A lot worse, over the course of several years.
     Despite all of the symptoms, every doctor missed it. Despite all of those MRI's, they missed it. Finally, all of the symptoms added up to a doctor ordering a very specific MRI.An MRI with contrast. And that MRI with contrast showed a large tumor on the right side of his brain stem.
     I, WE, could have been angry. We could have been scared. We could have been, I don't know...Overwhelmed? We definitely were overwhelmed, but mostly, we were shocked. There were the questions, the conversations, the tears. So. Many. Tears. He was scared,I was scared. The family and friends we told were scared.
Eventually, we saw the doctors. Apparently, the BEST doctors-ANYWHERE. He was referred to doctors who were the doctors who teach other doctors how to deal with the specific type of tumor he had.
 (hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul...*)
     How do you deal with hopeful after hearing how hopeless things are?
I'll tell you how: very cautiously, that's how! Because when someone tells you that you might die, or that someone you love might die, things get real. Really, really, real. Suddenly, you're the adult you never wanted to be. You're the adult who deals with the stuff you thought you never would.
     And then the day of the surgery is here, and you have to deal with the 547 relatives friends and coworkers who c.a.r.e. about you. Phone calls, texts, in person conversations. The truth is, you have no idea what you're doing or saying.You will never remember what you said or did during those awful days when you had to deal with mortality. You prayed. Prayed more than you ever have, ever. People say they're praying for you and you say that's great, please do. You're living in that place where prayer is the only thing that matters.The ONLY thing that matters. Because suddenly you know that GOD is in charge, and you have no control over anything,
     And then  you wake up. Because the surgery is over , and the man you love is STILL ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!
     You get to see and talk to him again!!! And hold his hand, and take walks with him, and have
deep conversations with him. And ask what he wants for dinner, or what he thinks about your outfit. And then you go to the bathroom and cry, because you tried really hard not to do that before the surgery,or in front of him,  when he could see you, because he had enough to deal with.
     and then you fallonyourkneesandworshipGOD, because HE is faithful!

And finally, f.i.n.a.l.l.y. -life continues, and you are in awe , on a daily basis, because, apparently, God cares about you personally. You don't know why. All you know is that you are grateful. So, so, so, very grateful.
     And life goes on.
Life. Goes. On.

     *Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886. Hope is the thing with feathersThat perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Just Like Mom's: Chicken and Noodles

This is the first post in a new series I've decided to do. Most of these posts will be about things I've been taught to cook by my mother, Sharon Bayer. Some will be about things I've been taught to cook by my mother or others, And some will be about things I've learned to cook by myself. First up: Chicken and Noodles. This recipe is one my mother taught me to cook, with a few tweaks by me to meet the tastes of my own family.

Homemade Chicken and Noodles

One whole chicken, defrosted if frozen, giblets removed
3 stalks celery, washed and diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 whole onion, diced
1 teaspoon each Simon and Garfunkel (you know, "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme")
1 whole bay leaf

6 eggs
6 Tablespoons whole milk
6 cups all purpose flour

Salt to taste, and pepper

To begin, put the whole chicken in a pot of fresh cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add one whole carrot, one whole celery stalk, and half of the onion. Put Simon and Garfunkel and the bay leaf in either a muslin spice bag or a piece of cheesecloth, tie shut, and simmer for about 4 hours.(I do this because I work from home, but if you don't, do this on a snowy Saturday when you just don't feel like leaving the house.)
As soon as you have the chicken and spices simmering, make the noodles:
Beat the eggs lightly in a bowl with a fork, then add in the milk. Salt lightly, then, add in the flour a cup at a time. (These aren't real egg noodles; real egg noodles don't have milk in them, but these are great, sort of a cross between noodles and dumplings.) As soon as the eggs won't take any more flour, dump the whole mess onto a floured countertop. (I use an antique noodle board I found at a sale, or alternatively a pastry cloth. But before I had either of those, I used my plain old clean floured melamine countertop. They're all pretty much the same. Just don't whatever you do, use wax paper. Your noodles will never dry. E.V.E.R.) Anywho, after you dump out the the noodley mess, knead all the flour and such into a dough, but not any longer. What this means is, as soon as it sort of holds together, stop kneading. Then let it rest for about 20 minutes, and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza wheel, cut into strips and then crosswise into noodle size slices. These plump when you cook 'em, so make them a little smaller than you think you'd like them to be. After they're cut, leave them to dry while your chicken cooks. After about two hours, flip them over to dry on the other side.

Back to the chicken: Once your chicken is cooked through, remove it to a plate to cool a bit. Then, using a slotted spoon, remove the spice bag and vegetables and pitch them. You can strain the broth at this point by pouring it through a colander into a very large heat proof bowl. Wipe out the pot, return the broth, and add enough water so it fills the pot about 2/3 of the way, then bring back to a boil. Add the dices carrot, celery, and onion, and reduce to a simmer for about an hour.  Remove chicken from bones and shred, then set aside. Once the veggies are cooked, return the pot to a full boil and begin adding the noodles few at a time, stirring after each addition. Once they're all in there, salt the whole thing generously. Cook until the noodles are done, then stir in the chicken and reheat. Serve in  big bowls with a fork. The noodles will absorb most of the broth while cooking, but you can serve bread slices with this if you want to soak up whatever broth remains in your bowl after eating.
Note: You can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts and canned chicken broth to make this, but it will NOT taste the same. And do take the time to make the homemade noodles, they are fabulous.
Second note: the "Simon and Garfunkel" reference came about when I was teaching my daughter to make these. She wondered how I remembered which spices go into it, so I taught her the refrain from that song. Now we always sing it when I make these. Memories :)

And On The Seventh Day...

And on the seventh day...God cleaned the entire downstairs, vacuumed, washed the dogs, did laundry, got groceries, planned the week's menu, ran errands, cooked two full meals, and threatened to kill a child who put his dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher.

Hmm. Doesn't sound like it came from the book of Genesis, does it? That, however, pretty much accurately describes how I was feeling Sunday. And then my husband reminded me we were supposed to take the boat out with our daughter and her boyfriend. I went, but let me tell you, it was done very grudgingly. And with much grumbling once we got out there. There I was , on a boat on a beautiful stretch of river on a gorgeous day, making lists in my head, and estimating the amount of time it would take me to finish everything by the time I had to start dinner. And them something happened. The wind started to blow up some tiny little breakers and a boat passed us. The resulting waves caused the boat to rock gently back and forth, some spray hit me in the face, and I got a whiff of that river smell. The list drifted away, I closed my eyes, and exhaled for what felt like the first time in a week. After that the boat ride was fun, and I did something I hadn't done in days. Rested.
   God always knows best, doesn't he? Resting is not just a good idea, it is absolutely necessary to a person's well being and general good health.
I'm so busy all. the. time.  We all are, I know. The reason it bothers some people so much (me included !) , is that we forget to take the time to rest. I rarely just sit. If we're watching television, I've usually got a tablet in my hand and a notebook nearby to write down those lists that are always popping up in my head. But that's all just clutter, brain clutter. The same way that visual clutter distracts your eye, brain clutter distracts your focus. You've heard all this before. But this time, take the time to learn it.
   I'm trying to make time to rest my brain as well as my body. Counter-intuitively, I've added some things back in to my day to give me time to rest: a daily devotional, which I find I have missed. A better routine in my work. Knowing what comes next is better for me, as it gives my brain a rest, and better for the children, as well.
 I've also been avoiding things that make me feel crazy. I've been mostly avoiding Facebook this week, for instance, because every post I see is about the awful things that have been happening around us lately.
 In doing these things, I hope to give myself a chance to clear the mental clutter and actually rest when I get a day off.
 I hope you can all clear some of the clutter out of your brain this week, and give yourselves a chance to rest!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Overheard at the Daycare

As I was cleaning the kitchen one day this week, I overheard part of the play time that was going on in the Living room;
Normally very quiet child:"I"m a RAISIN!! A R.A.I.S.I.N. !!!!!!"
I immediately looked around the corner to see what was going on, but they were all just building with blocks?!!!

On The Loss of a Friend

I lost a good friend this week. Actually, I think I lost her a long time ago, but this is the week I finally, mostly, came to terms with it.
 We used to talk weekly. We've been through some hard things together. We were young together, we grew to be adults together. We did stupid things together. We had fun together.
 I lost a friend when I was in high school, but that was different. Someone tore us apart, and upon reflection, I'm pretty sure that the person who did that was mentally ill. And since then, our lives have gone completely different directions. I'm pretty sure God had other plans for us than we had for ourselves, and knew that if we remained friends we wouldn't get where he wanted us to be. Because of all that, I've been mostly okay with losing that friend.
 But this friend, the one I lost this week, is different. Our lives were so intertwined, and we shared so much with one another. I really thought we would always be friends.
 I'm pretty sure I upset her somehow, but I don't know how. And that's what gets me the most. We were friends. Why wouldn't she just call me and say," Hey, that thing you did seriously pissed me off. I am angry with you." I mean, I've done this with people. Wasn't our friendship worth that?
 I guess not. Maybe I'm just a terrible friend, one she's glad to be rid of.  This could be true, I admit.
I work 12 hour days and have for years. I devote most of my free time to my husband and family. I really don't seek out friendships with other people. But. But we were already friends. So what happened?
 The truth is, I don't know. I may never know. I've tried since to reach out and it didn't work.
 What it amounts to right now, is that I tried. And I have other friends. And I trust God to bring the people he thinks are right for me, into my life when I need them to be there. And, I suppose, send them away when they'll hurt more than help. Maybe I'll know the reason someday. Maybe not. But I still trust God to do what's right.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Random-i-Zations, Zombie Edition

In honor of one of my favorite shows, The Walking Dead, I thought I would do a totally-in-fun edition of my random-i-zations posts. Without further nonsense, here it is:

1. Things I don't think I could live without after the Zombie Apocolypse: Sweet Tea with lots of ice, and seasoned salt. Thought about adding Chocolate here, but I don't seem to need it as much as I get older :)

2. My dogs. Nothing is better than curling up on the sofa with my puppers and chillin'. But they are SERIOUSLY stupid. Buddy would try to lick the first zombie he saw, and Hunter would be so gone, so far, so fast, that no one would ever see him again.

3. Crunching through the fallen leaves in the autumn. One of my favorite things to do, but I suppose it would attract zombies, huh?

4. Road trips with the hubs. I mean, life would probably be one long road trip, but that's not the same, is it?

5.According to the show, everyone is already infected. But wouldn't some people be immune? Maybe I'm being a nerd here, but for every disease, there are always some people who are immune.

6. The people on that show are missing some fabulous opportunities. You can bet you'd find my butt driving a candy apple red Corvette down the road at a hundred mph after the zombie apocalypse.

7. AND wearing designer clothes while doing it.

8.Speaking of post-zombie apocalypse fashions, wonder why the shows fashions haven't caught on? Shouldn't everyone be wearing a cape this season?

9. Can I just get a shout-out for the Carol-Daryl "just friends" story line? Thank you producers, for not having this go where every single show ever made before has always gone!

10. Am I the only person who caught the "Terminator" reference in "The Walking Dead"? ("We're not going to make it, are we?")

11. I suppose staying alive during and after the zombie apocalypse is kind of like winning the lottery. I just haven't done that YET.

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Biblical Rant

I have recently grown very tired of hearing from certain political party members just how they think I should vote, and the reasons why they think I should do so. Most of their rhetoric stems from their so-called Christianity.
 Now, let me here insert a sort of resume of mine, none of which matters at all really, but some people will need it to continue reading. First of all, I was raised in a Christian home. I have read the Bible cover to cover more times than I can count, and when necessary can quote chapter and verse for reference. All this to say, I know what I'm talking about, get it?
 To the Republicans and Tea Party Activists who think I should vote for them because they think they know what a Christian should believe, I say: " You don't have a clue." Reread the bible, all of it this time, and see if you can figure out where you've gone wrong.
1). Stop bad-mouthing the President and under-mining his authority. The bible says that you should "submit to all authority".
2). Just let homosexuals do what they want, okay? It's not up to you to judge them. That's God's responsibility, not yours. Your job, should you choose to pay attention and do what is actually right, is to "Love your neighbor as yourself" . That's all of your neighbors, not just the one's whom you choose to like.
3). Rich people should pay taxes too. "Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's."
4). Being a Christian doesn't make you special. You don't get to change or ignore laws to suit yourself, or declare that this country is a christian nation; believing it doesn't make it so. And to those who want a christian president who interprets laws and the constitution only in light of the bible, let me ask you this: Will you still believe that when a christian president interprets the bible differently than you do? There are many, many denominations under the flag of Christianity, and even they don't agree on how the bible should be interpreted. What makes you think a Christian president would do things the way YOU think he should? More importantly, what happens when you're outnumbered, and the next president to be elected is a Muslim, or a Budhist, or a Jew, or an Atheist? Will you believe that the Presidency should be a religious office then?
5). Why vote based on your religious view points, when by law, those cannot be taken into account?
Yes, I vote mostly Democrat. I am also a Christian. They are NOT mutually exclusive. Yes, the Democratic party is jam-packed to the rafters with liberals, atheists, LGBT's, hippies, etc. But there are also Christians, small business owners, the older generation, and a couple of wealthy people. Those things don't define us. What defines us is the way we treat others, and the fact that we want what's best for people. The Bible tells us that Jesus hung out with "tax collectors and sinners". Guess what it also says? "For all have sinned..." That means all of those politicians who are telling you to vote for them because they're Chrisitan are also sinners.
Please, people, just do a little research before the next election, before you cast your votes. It's not as hard as you would be led to believe.