Category: help

Fragile Humans

Yesterday, at a memorial service for a man I love, I had a new/remembered realization about the fragility of human life. Not just the fragile part at the beginning when life is new and babies are breakable or at the other end when, well, life ends and stuff, but the truly fragile middle part. The part where hearts and souls are in danger. The part where spirits take a beating and need to be strengthened. The part where we doubt ourselves and our abilities to do the hard things (and even, some days, the simple things). The part where legs get kicked out from supporting the table and everything sort of starts to slide.

And we fragile ones need other people around us when the sliding starts.

And I realized that I need to — way more often — tell those who are there to help me THANK YOU. I need to tell people I love them. I appreciate them. I honor them. I remember them. I admire them. I am glad to be there for them when their own sliding happens.

Why is the telling so hard? What’s the worst thing that could happen?

Me: “You mean a lot to me. I love you.”

Them: “I don’t care.”

Okay, that could be bad. Maybe really hurtful. But maybe I’m finally old enough to NOT CARE so much. Maybe I can actually smile, shrug, and say, “All right then,” as I move on to say it to the next person. (This, darlings, is the joy of being 40, I think.)

If I said the nice things even half as often as I think them, I’d probably open a window to a lot of peace and joy in my corner of the world. And who doesn’t want that? It’s possible that I turned into a total hippie over the past week. But I still shower, and I haven’t ingested any mood-altering chemicals stronger than butter, so seriously? Hippie isn’t bad.

I’m going to spread the love. I’m going to say the kind things. I’m going to JUST STAND THERE [1] sometimes. I’m going to hug (except I’m not supposed to do that at school — don’t tell, but sometimes I break that rule). I’m going to offer my strength, such as it is, to the fragile. And I will try to graciously accept theirs to me, when it’s my turn.

___

[1] My wise dad has a saying he uses at times of [other people’s] crisis: “Don’t just say something, stand there.” Because, often, the proximity is far more helpful than the solution-offering words.

Nunsense

I’m in another musical.

I know. I’m seeking help.

But this one’s FUNNY. I’m playing Sister Mary Hubert in NUNSENSE, and I tap dance. And sing gospel. And strut across the stage. Also, I tell jokes. Which is where you come in. I need a few extra jokes for half-time warm-up. That’s not really what it’s called. That’s just what I call it. But I get to open Act II, and if you know any funny Nun jokes, or Catholic jokes, or Mormon jokes, or Bible jokes (Okay, and let’s keep it G-rated, people, can we?) I want them.

The show starts next weekend and runs Saturdays through March, 7:00 at Timpanogos Valley Theatre, 100 North and 100 West in Heber City. Tickets here or at the door.

End of advertisement. Back to your lives.

So you want to know what we’re eating…

All right. Good question. (The question, that is, of HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FEED YOUR FAMILY ON $60 A WEEK PLUS ONE MONTHLY TRIP TO COSTCO? Yes. That question.)

I have a few disclaimers, first.

1. I am a cooker. So, I can cook things. From ingredients. Which, you know, is cheaper (by a lot) than the alternative.

2. My Kids are big. They don’t need hourly snacks. They’re gone all day at school. They can wait till dinner. Like that.

3. I am a firm believer in the Food Storage. I have shelves of food, and I know how to use it. (Did that sound like a threat? It wasn’t meant to. More like a back-up to my #1, above.)

4. Moderation. That’s a ticket for us. We try to not overdo any one thing. A bit of meat, a bunch of vegetables, some rice or pasta, and maybe a whole lot of smoothies. But have you seen the replacement for the food guide pyramid? It’s a plate. Of food. Sort of.

Sorry, Kid 4. That so doesn’t resemble your dinner of choice (a huge steak, some sauteed mushrooms, and a pile of fried potatoes). But it’s not that far off from what we usually eat. So, you know, it’s spread around.

So, here is my meal plan for the week. Starting today. Ready?

Wednesday Breakfast: Waffles and Blueberry Syrup

Need to buy: Nothing. All on hand.

Waffles: I keep a mix in the freezer, but I had to refill it this morning. Here’s what’s in it.

7 cups wheat flour
2 and 1/4 cups cornmeal
3 cups “quick oats”
1/2 cup baking powder
2 teaspoons salt

Mix all that together and put in a gallon-sized ziplock. Write this on the label part: “Waffle Mix — 2 cups mix, 2 cups milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup oil.” That feeds my family of 6 waffles for breakfast, occasionally with a bit leftover for birdies.

The blueberry syrup recipe is HERE, and I had all those ingredients on hand this morning, too. If I didn’t have oranges, I could have used lemon juice or pineapple juice or probably something else. But I have oranges. So that’s what we (they) had for breakfast.

Wednesday Lunch: Kids and Husband packed sandwiches last night, I’ll have some manner of Green Smoothie, hopefully way tastier than the seriously yucky concoction that was my breakfast. *Shudder*.

After School Snack: Crackers (leftovers from New Year’s Eve) and cheese (always on hand, bought when ON SALE, don’t you know).

Wednesday Dinner: Cheese and Onion Enchiladas (Red) and Corn/Black Bean Salad

Enchiladas: All ingredients on hand. Here’s the Great Big Secret Recipe.

2 Large onions, chopped
1 or 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 for us. We LOVE cheese)
1 can (14 ounce-ish) red enchilada sauce
12 corn tortillas

Simmer the onions in a lidded pan with about 3 tablespoons of water until soft. Pour enchilada sauce into a small pie plate or something. Spray a medium casserole dish (I like the round one for this) with pan spray. Dip a tortilla in the enchilada sauce, both sides. Put it in the sprayed dish. Do it again, and again, so you have 3 now-red tortillas in the bottom of the pan. Scoop in 1/3 of the onions and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layers. Pour any remaining sauce over the top. Put a lid or some foil on it and heat until it’s hot. The onions are already cooked, so you can do it fast. Even in the microwave, if you’re into that.

Salad:

(I need to buy cilantro, because I used too much in last night’s salad.)

1 can (14 ounce-ish) black beans
1 cup frozen corn (I like the Costco kind)
1 tomato, chopped
2 Tablespoons red onion, diced
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons Italian or Vinegar-based salad dressing (I like that Brianna’s one with the artichoke on the front. Very peppery and delicious)

Stir it up. Inhale. Can use avocado to make it perfect, but I’m on a budget. Tell you what. I will buy an avocado if it’s less than a dollar.

(So, to get up to speed, today’s meals will cost me about $1.30 including the possible avocado, because I stored everything else.) After dinner, Kids will clean up, thank me, and, smiling, start making tomorrow’s lunches. Which will include a protein, a veg, a fruit, and a treat. For which everything is in the fridge and pantry.)

Want to hear tomorrow? All-righty.

Breakfast: Smoothie and Scrambled Eggs

Smoothies are our favorites. My Kids much prefer them orange, pink, or purple to green. Whatever. I can do that.

One Good Smoothie (feeds 6)

1 can pineapple (the 20-ounce size)
6-8 ounces vanilla yogurt (I’m a huge fan of the Mountain High – it feels like food)
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 can peaches (the 14-ounce size)
2 peeled oranges
(Then I splash in some rice milk, because I like it better than the cow kind.)

Blend it all up. Serve with straws, because everything tastes better when you drink it from a straw.

I don’t really need to tell you how to scramble eggs, right? Right?

Lunches were packed last night, remember?

After school snack shall be popcorn. Usually reserved for Sundays, because I tend to WAY overdo it, but I’m willing to celebrate. I’m a pushover that way.

Dinner is Aunt Abbi’s Tomato-Basil soup, food storage style, which means I have everything on hand (hers is classier than mine, using cream and stuff but either way, it tastes awful darn good):

1 onion, diced
3 cups chicken broth (made from water and bullion)
4 cans crushed tomatoes (the 14-ounce size, or use a big can if you have one)
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup basil pesto (I have some fresh-ish stuff from Costco in my fridge, and I have some bottled stuff in my pantry. Obviously, I’m going to use the fresh. Because… well, I am.)

Boil the onions in the broth till soft. Add tomatoes. Simmer for however long you have. 20 minutes? That’ll do. When you’re ready to eat, add evaporated milk and pesto, heat through and serve. It’s really good. We all like it, even Husband the Non-Soup Man.

Then I’ll probably make some bread to go with it, because who doesn’t like homemade bread with their soup? I have all the ingredients on hand to make all manner of wonderful breads, but that’s another post entirely.

So, Thursday’s meals cost a total of ($0) –nothing. I have it all on the shelves. Yea, me! Here’s what else I can make without going to the store:

Pizza, Chicken Scaloppine, Tacos, Tuna Sandwich Pitas, Sloppy Joes, Potato Salad, Egg Salad Sandwiches [ick], Fried Rice, Granola, Chicken Parmesan, French Toast, or Spagetti. Plus all manner of breads, cookies, pastries, and, always, popcorn.

So, Friday? Breakfast is German Pancakes and Orange Juice. Lunches? Made. Dinner? Pizzas. Two. One cheese, one cheese and pepperoni. That leaves enough leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Also a big fat green salad for which I think I have plenty on hand.

Saturday? Usually my day off. Cold cereal and an apple or toast. This week is different, because we’re having a party. I’ll tell you about it soon. Lunch is leftover pizza, remember? And fried rice and perhaps frozen potstickers for dinner. All on hand.

Sunday? I’ll beg Husband to grill his famous Dad-burgers. I’ll need to buy meat for that. I’ll do some baked “fries” and a bunch of veg-ish toppings for the burgers (tomatoes, grilled onion, lettuce, mushrooms) and I’ll need to buy the mushrooms.

So the list for today: Cilantro. Avocado, if it’s a good price. Hamburger meat. Mushrooms. (Plus Party Food, but I’m not taking that from the normal grocery budget.) And that will take us through Sunday. For something like $16. So I’ll add on some fruits for school lunches and snacking purposes, and smile to myself. $30 easy.

(Grocery-shopping/budgeting disclaimer: I know it’s not an easy thing. I do. And the simple secret is this: Shop the perimeter. Go to produce, meat, dairy and then go home. I am lucky to live in a town that believes in Case Lot Sales, which is the time I buy almost everything I may need that lives on inside-the-maze grocery shelves, like canned veg and beans, tuna, flour/sugar and canned fruit [for smoothies]. I make a menu. I make a list of what I need. I go to the store and I buy ONLY WHAT’S ON THE LIST. <– that’s the hard part. And that’s me, taking back the budget.)

That Brilliant Dreamer I Married

Some people think and some people plan and some people execute. And you can get a lot of things done that way. Like putting gas in the car or crossing off a list of Things to Do.

But somehow, when the thing you want to accomplish is Bigger than You, is full of life and emotion, then you have to be a Dreamer.

My Husband is one of those. A Dreamer of Epic Proportions. And I want to tell you about his latest dream. He has a beautiful, inspiring, fill-your-heart and flex-your-muscles kind of story to tell. And he is really, really good at telling these kinds of stories. He’s good at finding and writing them. He’s great at putting together a production team to execute them. He has a gift, is what I’m telling you. And with the help of KickStarter, he has a chance to tell THIS truly amazing story.

It’s not really a football story, even though it is. It’s not really a special-needs story, even though it is. It’s really, really a Stick-To-It story. A Never-Say-Never story. A You-Can-Do-This story. And it’s a great one. And he’s using this cool program to get it off the ground, turning it into a community effort. And it’s Bowl Season, so the timing is excellent, right? So if you want to, if you feel like it, stop over and pledge a little something. [1]

[1] KickStarter is cool. They’ll ask for your credit card, but nothing gets charged until the whole project funds, so… you know. And also? Thanks for listening.

Itchy?

You know that feeling where you’re itchy in your own skin? Where you have some huge stretch inside and you can’t get it out? Where everything is fine, but you still feel just a little… off?

I’m here to tell you that cleaning the house doesn’t fix it.
Staring at the computer because you don’t have any words? Also not fixing it.
Taking a shower doesn’t fix it either, but at least you’ll smell nice.
Exercise helps, a little, as long as you’re actually doing it, but it’s not a solution so much as a temporary patch, a band-aid.
But do you know? Listening to 3 kindergarten-aged boys chatter over their plates of lunch (mac-n-cheeze, carrot sticks, apple juice and those pink-and-white frosted animal cookies with sprinkles), giggling and planning and plotting and snorting? That helps. A lot.

Help! Help!

Okay, it’s not like this is an emergency. I don’t need anyone’s kidney. Just really great ideas for yearbook themes.

My WIP needs a terrific yearbook theme, and I’ve got nothing. If you leave me theme ideas, the greatest one will be in my book, and will even be the title (*gasp*) if it rocks my socks. And also the contributor who sends this remarkable theme will win something, um, great. Which will be determined at some point after the sun comes out. Which I am sure it will do eventually, even though it is very dark and howly right now.
Okay, blog-friends — Yearbook Theme away!
Oh, and thanks. You know, for all your help.