Why you no…


So I got all set to write this blog about the amazing food I made yesterday.
Quinoa “mac and cheese” with shrimp and strawberry rhubarb crumble.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures of the stuff I made, and on top of that I got on Facebook…..

Oh Facebook…
You have this amazing ability to make me supremely happy as well as inexplicably angry. For the last two days 90% of the people on my feed are bitching about something.  100% of their complaints were beyond their control.
Mostly it was about the weather but there were other stupid little gripes not worthy of posting.   I know that griping is the easiest form of bonding. I get that, it’s the reason social media is so successful. It’s the world’s largest coffee klatch. I’m so sick of it!

So I’m giving myself a challenge. Tomorrow is June 1st. I’m going to go the entire month of June with no complaining on Facebook.  In fact, I’m going to post one thing I’m thankful for EVERY DAY. (because it would be so easy to not complain AND not post)

My friend Kristen* and I tried this last year in November, but I lost my dog and it got messy so it was hard not to complain. This time, I’m expecting bad things to happen, unavoidable things that could crush my spirit and I’m STILL not going to complain to the masses. I’m not saying we should be Polyanna about everything and act like it’s all perfect. But to be honest, when you complain on Facebook, it brings me down because 90% of your complaints AREN’T VALID!

You know what a valid complaint is? (Pulled from my FB)
~MY chemo meds are making me super sick, any natural remedies for nausea?
~The insurance company has been giving me the runaround about the coverage for the NICU. UGH SO FRUSTRATED!
~Looks like progesterone shots every 2 weeks starting at 16 weeks and possibly cerclage *btw she wasn’t even complaining*

Those are a few examples and they’re all very HEAVY issues. There are plenty of valid complaints that aren’t that heavy. Even so, they don’t always need to be shared with 500 of your closest friends.

So I hope you’ll join me on my adventure into positivity. Complaining isn’t as cool as you think.

*Footnote about Kristen after going for so long without posting negatively. A few weeks ago she posted this status:

“Just got to work and there’s a CARNIVAL in the street where I like to park…..I guess I have to pay for the garage.”

Most people would have been ANGRY that they had to pay for parking in a Chicago garage, myself included. But that’s not how I read it when she posted it. I read it as “OMG guys a CARNIVAL!! How fun!!” Maybe that’s not how she intended it but that’s how it was perceived.


Summer Bucket List

I was at Navy Pier with a friend last week and realized there is SO MUCH livin’ I want to get done this summer!! So I decided to follow in the footsteps of my friend Angela I started a Summer of 2012 Bucket List. I feel like I’m adding to it daily. But here’s the gist:

1) Ride the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel at night
2) Go to Silver Beach in St. Joe Michigan
3) Ride the carousel in St. Joe Michigan
4) Take my niece Abby Jo somewhere overnight
5) Go to the cabin in Eagle River Wisconsin
6) Go to ANY water park, preferably Deep River
7) Strawberry Picking
8) Read a minimum of 10 books
9) Take the dogs to the beach
10) Take the dogs to the dog park
11) Continue to lift weights 3 days a week
12) Become a certified Jazzercise instructor
13) Make Strawberry Jam
14) Can all things tomato
15) Finish my front/side of the house landscaping
16) Win the summer slim down competition
17) Get down to 140lbs regardless
18) Get pregnant
19) Visit friends in Mishawaka
20) Visit friends in LaGrange
21) Take a dear friend with me to the beach in New Buffalo some morning.
22) Mudderland 5k

Again, this list keeps growing. What’s on your bucket list?

Mom would be so proud…

Today is Memorial Day.

My mom served in the military for a bit…so I guess this is appropriate. Or maybe it’s not, either way I don’t really care.

3 years ago today, my mom died after a 3 year battle with cancer.

I forgot it was today until I woke up to a text message from my dear friend Jaclyn. It all came rushing to me at once.

The sorrow.

The anger.

The tears.

But mostly just anger.

I spent the better part of the day trying to drag myself out of it.

With a bath,

and a book,

and coffee.

Finally I had to get out. She wouldn’t want me moping on such a beautiful day.

We went strawberry picking. And this was our haul.

Some will turn into Strawberry Rhubarb crumble on Wednesday.

Some I will make into Strawberry Jam with local honey.

If that jam sucks, I’ll make the regular sugar filled kind.

It just makes me think about how proud she would be of how I’m eating now.

She died before I could share with her the thrill of eating local and using unconventional methods of making the things we’ve always loved. I wish I could rush right over, after hearing the lids pop on that batch of jam, to share a piece of gluten free toast with the new spread.

We always loved experiencing new things together.

She would be so proud….

If one more person says it they might get punched in the face…

It’s been a tragic year…and it’s only May. I lost my great niece earlier this year(SIDS), I lost my grandpa last week(old age), some people I’m becoming friends with lost one of their twin babies(preemie complications), a woman in our community lost her husband to lung cancer (never smoked a day in his life)

I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting something…How sad is that? that list looks like plenty!

It will be three years since she passed on May 28th.  It doesn’t feel like 3 years, it feels like yesterday.

There’s something I’ve been trying to figure out how to say since my mom died.  I couldn’t quite figure it out.  I was looking for a nice way to say it, but there really isn’t. So here are some things I would prefer not to have heard in the last few months:

“They’re in a better place.” Yeah duh, I know, doesn’t make me feel any better.

“Jesus needed them more.”  Yep, that was said at my great nieces funeral, didn’t seem to help.

If  it’s an open casket funeral, don’t tell ANYONE “They look so good” or peaceful, or sweet, or whatever, they look dead and nobody in their right mind would say THAT.

I hesitate to post this one, I’ve received a lot of this statement in the last week and I ain’t mad atcha.
I understand the standard response is “I’m sorry for your loss” but honestly, we don’t really know how to respond to that.
Thank you? It’s OK? I have no idea, I’ve never been good about it.  This one isn’t HORRIBLE, but it’s difficult for the person receiving the platitude.

I had a professor who lost an infant son and someone came up to him and said “Well at least you didn’t have the chance to get to know him.”  It makes me wonder if after the person said this, he wished he had the memory zapper thing from Men in Black because SERIOUSLY!?!?! My professor said it took everything in his power not to strangle the man while yelling “THAT’S EXACTLY THE PROBLEM! I NEVER GOT TO KNOW HIM!”

“Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” is another rough phrase. There’s not a whole lot that anyone could do for me when mom died.  (Maybe pay my NIPSCO bill??) If I had figured out what they could do for me, I wouldn’t have called them anyway.  Might I suggest, you just regularly check on the person and ask if they need anything and then give examples. A meal? A foot rub? Going to Mt. Baldy to yell at God? These are all things I probably would have taken advantage of.

“How are you holding up?”  The answer is complicated.  If I had answered with the truth I would have said something like “I’m actually relieved that she died because she was so tired of being sick and she didn’t want our lives being interrupted anymore. It was really hard to watch. So I’m good.” I wasn’t good I had no idea that I was still in shock. But that’s how I felt at the time.  If I had said that to the random strangers who came up to me they would have looked at me like the biggest jerk in the world.

“I know what you’re going through.” NO! Just NO!

I’m sure at this point you’re like well then what should we do? There’s not a stock answer here, but here’s my suggestion:

When someone you know experiences the death of someone they loved….

hug them…

cry with them…

then SHUT UP!

Let the grieving person talk. If they want to. And if they don’t that’s OK too. You don’t have to fill the awkward silence between snotty sobs.

I’m sure you think that you have come up with some really comforting words for whoever is grieving. As confident as you are, you’re probably wrong.

Just own the silence or walk away.

UPDATE: I just saw this on a friend’s FB wall. It was posted to her by a friend after her Mother died recently. This is the message you should be conveying to people who experience loss:

“To be honest with you, I don’t have the words to make you feel better, but I do have arms to give you a hug, ears to listen to whatever you want to talk about and I have a heart; a heart that’s aching to see you smile again.”

Why I love red bandanas.

My Grandpa Dale:

Had the ability to make me feel like I’m the prettiest, smartest girl in the world.

Could make friends with anyone he met.

Had a killer smile and eyes that sparkled.

Smoked a Pipe when I was younger, and I loved it! Even after he quit, his cologne always smelled vaguely of pipe to me.

He would mow the lawn in cutoff jeans and a red bandana around his head. He always kept a red bandana in his pocket as a hanky.  I always thought those red bandana hankies were gross.

Wednesday May 2nd my Grandpa Dale turned 86.  He woke up having a good day.  He spoke to several friends and family members on the phone, calling to wish him a Happy Birthday.  Grandpa wanted to go to Texas Roadhouse for his birthday dinner, so his son and daughter-in-law picked up Grandma and Grandpa and took them out.   My Uncle Gary cracked peanuts for him and Grandpa had a steak, a LOADED baked potato, a beer and a Manhattan.  He had a really wonderful birthday dinner.

A few hours later…he died.  He’d been sick for about a year off and on, but that’s not what’s important.  What’s amazing, and wonderful and borderline poetic is that he spent his last day with his family making a memory that they’ll never forget.

And I have two of his red bandana hankies…and the memory of pipe tobacco mixed with cologne.

Keepin it real…

My day started off in what could have been a really sucky way.  Fortunately, my husband has been training himself to turn negatives into positives and it has apparently brushed off on me because I didn’t even let it bug me. I just kept on trucking like nothing happened.

The previous paragraph is annoying. I used to read A LOT of blogs (mostly perfect mommy blogs) that were all about ways to make your life “easier”.  These women writing these blogs always seemed to have everything perfectly in it’s place at all times.  They would make comments like “I really don’t have it all together even though it might seem like I do.”  Every time I would read that I would imagine them laughing and tossing their bouncy blonde hair and then I’d throw up in my mouth a little.  For some reason, I WOULD STILL READ THEM and then use them as a measuring stick on how well I’m doing in my own messy life.

So I’ve decided to start this blog of with a healthy dose of “Keepin’ it real”.  For those of you who have seen the Dave Chapelle show, you know, this could go terribly wrong.  I REALLY want to link to a YouTube video and tell you readers who are easily offended to not click on the link.  But then you’d click the link thinking “I’m not REALLY that easily offended.” and then…be offended.

I went mountain biking this morning and got a wicked bruise on my knee.  I wiped out 3 minutes after I started and it’s some serious road rash!  Not to mention I have road rash in other places that should not be photographed.  You might have noticed I used the term road rash.  You see, by “mountain biking” I mean rode my mountain bike down Monroe Street (a really flat road in LaPorte for those of you who don’t know) the bike lane ended and I figured I’d get on the sidewalk.  Why? I have no freaking idea! It’s never a good idea to ride on the sidewalk. So I went from road to sidewalk, misjudged the wet pavement and blammo! I fell like a 7 year old who took their training wheels off too soon. Yup, I mountain bike!

I made it to book club just fine (other than the aforementioned road rash in various places) had breakfast (did I mention this is all taking place in the 6am hour??) and lively conversation with friends.

The problem with 7am breakfast is the Popsicle you have to have at 10am. 

I honestly wasn’t that hungry…just wanted a Popsicle.  And don’t worry Janet (I know you’re reading this and if not WTH??) it’s an “all Natural” Popsicle with no HFCS…..ok, I didn’t know for sure that there wasn’t but I just checked the box and we’re good! Seriously only 12 ingredients! (stop making that face Janet it was ONE 12 INGREDIENT POPSICLE AND I BIKED TO BREAKFAST!)

Below is the current state of our kitchen. That’s my husband Cary. Looks like he’s doing that massive pile of dishes right? Nope, I’m pretty sure he’s washing something so he has a vessel to eat out of, but that’s about it.  I’m on medical leave and Cary works full time and goes to school full time so he really shouldn’t come home to this kind of a mess!  Don’t worry I’ll do them later.  (I’ve been saying that for literally a week now.  Don’t get me wrong, dishes have been washed but those friggin’ casserole dishes are the bane of my existence.)

Best. Housewife. EVER.

I’m sure it looks like that kitchen is trashed because I’m testing recipes for food blogging. That’s sort of true. I’ve had two blunders in the last week that I couldn’t bring myself to post. I thought I’d have the energy to wash the dishes and do them again the right way but honestly…washing a 9×13 pan SUCKS! The only thing worse than that?


Happy Celiac awareness month! What the crap does that mean? Allow me….


It’s May day!

May is Celiac awareness month. I don’t have Celiac disease but I am gluten intolerant. The difference between the two is both simple and confusing. Celiac is an auto-immune disease where when gluten enters the body it attacks itself causing the person to become ill in many different ways. Gluten-intolerance (read that link) causes some of the same symptoms as Celiac but it can’t necessarily be diagnosed using a blood test (but some can, see I told you it’s simple and confusing). Bottom line, me and gluten don’t mix!

Gluten intolerance or sensitivity affects 6% of the general population and most of them don’t even realize it’s affecting them. As my friend Trista says, people are so used to walking around feeling like crap all the time, they have no idea something is ‘wrong’.”

For me it’s a quality of life issue. If I “get glutened” I’m down for a few days. Migraines, intestinal distress (that’s the nice way of saying constipation and/or diarrhea) lethargy and emotional stress.

The beautiful thing about figuring out that gluten was my problem, is that life is so much richer without it. Most people when they find out I can’t eat gluten respond with “That sucks!” At first I agreed. Now, I realize that if I hadn’t figured it out, I wouldn’t be eating nearly as well as I do now. Not to mention I’d be sick all the time just like when I was younger.

In October of this year it will have been 3 years since I went gluten-free.  Most of my life I was randomly sick, I would pass out for no reason, and no matter how many tests they ran they couldn’t find the problem. I was just “weird” and need to stay hydrated. Since 2009 life is just better.

And YUMMY! Because I can’t eat most convenience foods, I’ve had to rely on becoming creative in my own kitchen. I’ve been fairly successful at feeding my extended family gluten free foods. They didn’t say things like “Wow, this is good for being gluten-free.” but instead things like “Wow, this is GOOD!” which is how it should be!  You can make really great gluten free food. It happens all the time.

I’ll show you more soon!