Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Glimpse Into The World Of A Primary Caregiver

Well, that’s probably a weird title. I can’t think of anything else. If you are the friends or family of a caregiver, I’m going to give you a few tips of ways you can help your loved one who is the primary caregiver. I am writing this with little sleep and too much coffee in my system, which, by the way, makes me feel like I‘m wide-awake-exhausted. So, let’s just jump right in:

* Visits ~ First and very, very foremost. Do not ever, ever visit the caregiver’s home unannounced. Unless you have a million dollar check in your hand, telling them they’re the big winner, please give them a good day or two notice before you visit them. There’s nothing worse for a caregiver than to be in your pajamas, wearing no makeup and your hair looks like two squirrels have been fighting in it when you suddenly hear a knock on the door. What’s worse than that? When the caregiver fits the description above, and they’re right in the middle of changing a diaper. Not a cute little baby’s diaper mind you, but the diaper of someone whose BM weight is far more than their birth weight when they were born. Sorry for the visual, but sometimes it needs to be said. Imagine the terror of that situation if you were in the caregiver’s shoes.

* Phone Calls ~ If you call the caregiver and they don’t return your call, don’t be offended. It’s not that we don’t like you or don’t want to talk to you, it’s just difficult to talk and feed someone at the same time or talk and change a diaper at the same time, or talk and give someone a bath at the same time. I know this, because I’ve talked on the phone and done those things at the same time. It takes skill and practice, but I don’t enjoy having to balance it -- At all. And usually, when the caregiver finally has a moment to rest, we don’t want to spend that moment on the phone, especially on the phone listening to a friend or family member complain about a trivial matter when we are in a deep, dark hole and would love to have your problems. Put yourself in their shoes before you complain about missing your manicure appointment because you had to take your child to football practice or band practice. You will not get the sympathy you’re seeking.

* Parties ~ Do not be offended if your caregiver friend never attends the parties you invite them to. Again, it isn’t that we don’t like you or don’t want to see you. Most of us are “primary” caregivers, meaning, we are in charge of caring for our disabled loved one. Most of us do not get “time off” … ever. Finding a decent respite provider is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. On the rare occasion we do get a break, many of us want to be alone or alone with our spouse. I do, anyway. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine never, ever leaving the house unless it’s to a doctor’s appointment or something equally as stressful. Sometimes, you’d just want to be in a quiet, peaceful place … alone to gather your thoughts. If your caregiver friend doesn’t have a respite provider, you might suggest they bring the person they care for, if that person isn’t confined to the bed. That’s a nice gesture, but you should imagine how stressful that would be on the caregiver. I have taken Stephen to parties, but only when we know every person there. That’s just us - this may vary per situation. Stephen does well when meeting strangers, we’re fortunate that he’s sociable (we’re extra protective, too). But even so, it’s difficult for me if he has an “accident” and we have to ask the hostess where we can go for privacy to change him. It’s also stressful even using a bathroom he isn’t used to. I can’t explain why that is - it’s just stressful. If Stephen attends a party with us, my care giving responsibility goes with us - there is no partying involved. Even though we’re at a party, my husband and I never have a relaxing, good time because we’re taking care of Stephen and watching him while everyone else is eating, talking and having a good time. My husband and I have to take turns feeding Stephen so the other one can eat. We never get to eat at the same time when he’s at a party with us, and Stephen is unable to balance a plate of food in his lap if a chair is unavailable at the table. I’m not trying to sound selfish, but it really is easier to just stay home. We feel that it’s good to let Stephen socialize, so we do it anyway, most times. It’s good for him and it’s good to allow him to minister to others in his God-given ways. We’re often told, “you don’t have to watch every move he makes! Let him wander around - stop stressing, he’s fine!” Um, yeah, he’s fine until he swipes your priceless crystal you inherited from your great-grandmother off the table and it smashes into a million pieces. We are doing you, the host/hostess a favor by watching him closely. In our case, we have to watch our almost 17 year old like a two year old. He’s gotten much better as he’s grown up, but not to the point we feel comfortable “letting him go” yet.

* Concerning Unsolicited Advice ~ Don’t judge us. Just like if you do not have children, you shouldn’t pass child-rearing instructions to parents who do have children - As most everyone knows, when you have children of your own, you’ll look back and say, “wow, I used to think it would be easier than this to care for and discipline little Johnny! Being a parent is harder than I thought.” Put yourself in the 24/7 caregiver’s shoes - You cannot imagine what it’s like to care for a disabled child for years. Do not offer your advice or your opinion unless you are educated in this particular field or unless we ask for your opinion.

* A Cluttered Life ~ All that said -- it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had, but I swear, I cannot imagine doing anything else and I do love every minute with Stephen. Stephen is no burden, he‘s the truest joy God has given me. Being a caregiver is probably the last thing I would have chosen 20+ years ago, because this girl loved her sleep and her “own little world.” I loved decorating and cleaning my home. I always had a decorating project. My home was spotless and free of clutter. To me, the hardest thing of all is not having my house in order.
One of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me was when my sister-in-law came to my house on her off days and helped me clean and organize my bedroom and bathroom. Those two rooms get less attention than any room in the house because no one goes in there except for the husband and me and I have accepted that I just can’t do it all AND be the primary caregiver. Something must go when you’re caring for someone. For me, I had to give up my job, my dream home and cleaning house the way I want to. Even so, it drives me crazy for my house to be in total disarray. My sister-in-law knows how this makes me crazy, so she pressured me to let her help. I was embarrassed at first, but finally gave in because it was either accept her help or continue looking at the chaos first thing every day till I went insane. If you’re a caregiver reading this, accept the help when it’s offered! Offers like this are too far and few between, so accept the help when you can get it! My best friend has always volunteered to help me with whatever I need help with, but I felt like I was taking advantage of her if I accepted her help, then I finally told myself, “she means it. Let her do it, it’ll make her happy as well as make me happy.”

All of the aforementioned especially applies for the holidays. Here it is only a week and a half before Christmas, and we just put our tree up last night. The husband and I finally went to sleep around two o’clock this morning. This year has been more difficult for me because Stephen has been homebound, plus he had to have surgery. I haven’t had a real break since last May. I’m dealing with it just fine, except, my house is in less order than it’s ever been in and it’s very depressing for me. My family wants me to have Christmas here. ::sigh:: I canceled Christmas last year because my house was out of order and this year it’s even worse than it was last year. Whatever … I’m going to tidy it up as best as I can and just trust that my family loves me enough to overlook my imperfections. The only real homemade treat I intend to make is my cheese ball, which my husband and brother look so forward to. Other than that, it’s pre-cooked food all the way. I will probably get the family to go in together on a big party tray or something and buy store-bought sweets. I just don’t care about the details anymore. Jesus is the reason for the season. My home is only a place to celebrate His birth and our salvation with the people I love. I’m letting go of the burden of perfectionism. That’s my Christmas present to myself. Ahhhh, sweet surrender!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holidays For Primary Caregivers (not so jolly!)

You missed my once-in-a-blue-moon rant! Yes, two days ago I not only posted an update about Stephen, his surgery and recovery, I also managed to throw in a rant about the health care system and our government. I deleted it after my husband (who NEVER reads my blog) walked by the kitchen table and read it and thought it was “inappropriate“. I don’t see why. It’s not like I was cussing or anything. Next time I pitch a duck fit on my blog, I’ll make sure to close out of blogger. I did save a copy, so if you’re dying to know what I said, let me know and I’ll email it to you. ;-P And to those few who did read it and sent the emails, I want to thank you for your support and encouragement. Okay, moving along. The holidays are here, people! Are you ready? Does your home look like Martha Stewart has been there and decorated it for you? Or are you like me, and your tree and decorations are still in the storage building?


I said I was going to get to this, so here I am with my not-so-thought-out entry about caregivers and the holidays. I have only this to say: Can we skip Christmas this year?

We did skip Christmas last year. We had the Christmas morning thing with Stephen and my parents came by on Christmas Eve to bring his presents, but we skipped our family get together. That’s right. No “Mia’s famous cheese ball” no cakes, pies or fudge. No eggnog, no hot apple cider. Baaah! It was almost as if Ebenezer Scrooge himself lived here (before his transformation). When did I start disliking the holidays so? What used to be my favorite time of year is now something I dread like a root canal or mammogram. No, that isn’t true. I’d rather have a root canal or mammogram.

I think as Stephen has gotten bigger and the care giving has gotten more difficult, I’ve gotten older and more arthritic. Therefore, the part of me that once enjoyed doing those things was shoved aside as real life, as we know it, forced its way in. I want to enjoy the holidays, I just don’t have the strength to get there. Exhaustion is a wicked, wicked little monster. If you are a 24/7 caregiver reading this, you’re nodding your head and shouting, “Amen! Preach it sister!” But what good does it do to preach to the converted? I am a microcosmic representative of the group known as “Primary Caregiver” … I truly, with all my heart hope that non-caregivers are reading this, so I can help you understand how difficult it is for those of us who are caring for a loved one. We want our families and friends to understand that we just don’t have it in us.

I am skipping the whole section I was working on titled, Useful Holiday Hints For Caregivers, because I couldn’t think of anything useful to say, so I‘m going to speak from the heart of a caregiver.

… And I’m going to work on that today! If you have anything you want me to talk about as I “represent” the care-giving community, comment me or email me your thoughts.

Thanks guys!

Friday, November 27, 2009

It Is The Most Wonderful (and stressful) Time Of The Year!

The holidays! Usually, it begins for me about a week before Thanksgiving and doesn’t go away until sometime after the first of the year. Every year I shout and say, “I will not do this next year!” Every year, I stress worse than the year before. But this year, I mean it!

We all have limits. For me, it’s come down to a matter of priorities. The following is my priority list:

1. Stephen
2. Stephen
3. Stephen
4. Stephen
5. Stephen
On and on, etc.

Get the picture?

Believe me, I am not complaining. Next to Jesus Christ, my husband and son are of most importance to me, but I’ve become aware that my priorities needed realigning in a most serious way. I realized that I was still trying to keep up with who I was twenty years ago, keeping the same holiday traditions and ideals. Only, my life has dramatically changed since then.

The reality of my life has recently made itself known to me like a roaring lion in my face. The realization came to me this week, the week of Thanksgiving, that first and foremost, I am the primary caregiver of a precious person with multiple disabilities. I’m not really sure when my life shifted from parenting into the role of parent AND caregiver. It was a slow and subtle process. That’s a good thing, because if it had been overnight instead of gradual, it would have knocked me off my feet. I personally know a few parents whose parental roles were quickly shifted into nurse/caregiver overnight due to a child being in a serious accident or a sudden illness and I’ve seen the effect of that shock. God Bless those precious families. I understand that I have so much to be grateful for.

If you are the parent of a child with special needs or if you are the caregiver of an aging parent or spouse, and if like me, you expect more of yourself than humanly possible, I am about to tell you something that you probably need to hear:

Let go of perfectionism!
It’s okay to lower your standards of what a clean house should be. It’s okay to order a pre-cooked holiday meal! It’s okay to accept help. It’s okay to delegate, and last but not least, it’s OKAY to say NO!

I’ve had a total of two weeks and two days of respite since last May. You all know that we had to take Stephen out of school because of the swine flu outbreak. Also, he is scheduled for oral surgery on December 3rd and to be perfectly honest, I’m more concerned about Stephen and his health than whether or not my pumpkin pies turn out just right. It is a wonderful feeling to finally release myself of that petty responsibility so I can focus on caring for the most precious gift on earth God has given me. I think in my case it had to take pure exhaustion to finally admit that I can’t do it all. Please don’t let that be the case for you!

If you are reading this and have a small child with special needs, take it from the parent of a teenager with special needs -- you will need your strength, health and sanity as your child grows into adulthood. Take whatever steps necessary for your family. In order to put your child first, you will have to let some things go. And it’s okay to do that!

* My plan for my next entry will be to list a few examples of how you can cut back on your holiday stress so you and your family can still enjoy your traditions.
* Another soon-to-be entry will be a message for family and friends of caregivers. I will give you a few hints of ways you can help the caregivers you know, as well as a list of things you should not do -- especially around the holidays.
* I am also thinking of making a list of things you should and shouldn’t say to the caregivers you know. It would be nice to hear from other parents/caregivers before doing this. I have a feeling we all have something to add to that one.

Now, let the holidays begin! I’ve got a new attitude!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hello Friends!

Just a quick note to say we're doing okay. Things have been so chaotic for us this fall!

* I mentioned before that Stephen's doctor recommended we avoid crowds until the swine flu outbreak is under control, or until we have Stephen vaccinated. Hmmm ... I have a lot of research and praying to do before we vaccinate. We all three got the seasonal flu vaccination as always and did fine. With Stephen's heart and lung history, we need to avoid any possibility of pneumonia.
As a result of this, he is receiving home bound services through the school. His teacher is coming to our house twice a week to work with him. He and his teacher have never met before this year, so this has been a great way for them to bond before he is released to go back to school.

* We are getting all of our ducks in a row for Stephen to have oral surgery. Ugh! I had no idea how many doctors we were going to have to go through to get this done. His cardiologist, neurologist and even the geneticist have all got to send their most recent notes to the anesthesiologist. I am thankful they are taking all of the necessary precautions and taking his history into consideration before the surgery. This will be done in an operating room setting at the same hospital he was born in. We haven't been there in a long time, and have some very emotional memories at that place. I'm a nervous wreck because there are always risks involved with anesthesia. His lung function is good though, and we've been keeping him well, so that's a good thing. He is having all four wisdom teeth extracted and two other teeth that have teeth coming in under them. Dear me, the child has perfect teeth -- never a problem with them, except, he has too many of them ... Poor baby. :(

If he has the surgery before Thanksgiving, looks like he'll probably be eating puréed turkey. I'm hoping we can schedule it for right after Thanksgiving so he'll be healed up well enough by Christmas.

We appreciate everyone keeping him (and us!) in your prayers! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For My Local Friends!

OK, How do I size this youtube thing down to fit my blog?

Anyway ... this is an important post for my local peeps:

Hey guys, be sure to check this out! Nadia said tickets are going fast, so you if you're interested, you might want to hurry.
Thanks for letting me use your link, Nadia!


I attended a 6 week class last spring on spiritual warfare and I will never be the same again.
That's worth repeating: I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!

You can purchase tickets HERE

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Taste Of Gratitude

What do you do when you blog so much about your family, your life, food, special needs parenting, etc? I hate just throwing everything into one big blog package. But it sure is easier, considering I am so ADD. I have over six years worth of ... a crazy, mixed up life right here on this blog. Not all of it is something I'd care to see in print though. But I'm certainly not willing to part with it. ::sigh::

So, here's what I want to do: I want to blog a whole collection of recipes and stories in (hopefully) a more organized manner than I've done here -- then someday when I've collected enough of them, I want to print them all out and have a book that Stephen and I can share for years and years to come. Almost like reading back over an old diary, of which I still do from time to time. Have I mentioned that I've kept a diary/journal since I was ten years old? Have I mentioned how important writing and photography is to me? They say a picture is worth a thousand words and if I could just have a story to go with each picture ... well, I'd have a book.

Can you imagine how cool it would be to have written stories to go along with your childhood photos? I am finding the older I get, the more I miss my grandparents and the more I struggle in trying to remember all I can about them. My grandmother's recipes and stories. My grandfather's history. I lost my paternal grandfather when I was four. That following summer is the time I started spending more and more time with my grandmother. She was lonely and had so many stories to share. I wish I could remember every single one. I was also very young when my mother's father went home to be with the Lord. I was nine years old. My memories of him are more vivid than my memories of my daddy's father, but I still struggle remembering him.

It will be difficult for Stephen to communicate his memories when he is older and more mature. I think it would be nice for him to have a place to store memories of his family. Something better than a photo album.

I digress (as usual) --- I want our friends and family to participate with me! Feel free to add comments to our new blog just like you do here for Stephen and his family to have, always! Be sure to bookmark us. I will have a separate blog that is just more of a spiritual journey for me. I've had it for about a year but haven't shared it yet. I haven't been able to tend to it as much as I want.

As for Daily Gratitudes And Attitudes. It's all staying here, and it's staying the same. I will just have a couple of additions. When I update them, I'll add a link on this blog.

Stephen and I have added a new recipe in our new blog, linked below!

Visit us at A Taste Of Gratitude

Friday, September 11, 2009

Breakfast With Stephen

When was the last time I posted a Stephen update? Hmm, been quite a while, huh? So, let’s do that today.

And, what could be better than a Stephen update?
Breakfast with Stephen, of course …

Stephen’s favorite meal of the day is breakfast. That child loves bacon. I believe the boy could eat an entire slab of bacon all by himself. I try to limit our bacon and egg breakfast to Sundays only, because of the whole high cholesterol thing you know, but today we splurged.

This is Stephen’s 2nd week in a row of being absent from school.
If you know anything about his history, you know that he is more medically fragile than the average child, meaning, if he catches the swine flu or any other kind of flu, he’s probably going to be very, very sick. A few friends and neighbors whose children attend the same school as Stephen has told me that the swine flu is running wild there, so to be on the safest side possible, we're keeping him home from school and avoiding crowds.

Poor child is so bored because he loves school and misses his friends, and that’s why I couldn’t tell the sweet boy, 'No' when I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and he went straight to the bacon when I opened the refrigerator. Smart lil booger. He may be nonverbal, but he knows what he wants and gets his point across!

Normally, when I make a frittata for myself, I throw everything in: Bacon, eggs, cheese, veggies, you name it. Stephen doesn’t like his that way. As I mentioned, he loves his bacon, so I have to put that on the side of his dish. He also loves papaws homegrown grape tomatoes and prefers those on the side. Below is how we made Stephen’s breakfast frittata and a few photos. Proof that even though he tries to act otherwise at school, he can use a fork. You just have to serve something he loves as much as bacon and eggs to motivate him, ha!

Incase you’ve never made frittata, this is how I make mine:

Ingredients:

* Eggs
* Milk
* Chopped peppers from my daddy’s garden ;)
* Grape tomatoes from my daddy’s garden (I slice them in half)
* Onions, sliced
~ Sometimes I also use fresh asparagus or broccoli, which is out of this world with this recipe. Spinach is also good.
* Bacon, sausage, ham, whatever meat you like, or none at all. Whatever you prefer, but I recommend you cook it first. I’m sure you know that … I’m just sayin’.
* Grated cheese
* Salt and Pepper
* A skillet
* Butter and Olive oil (I use equal amounts. The olive oil makes me feel less guilty for using butter)

Directions
:

* Like I was saying above - if you’re adding meat of any kind, cook it.

*Add the oil and butter to the skillet and sauté the onion and peppers till they’re as tender as you like them. Add the other vegetables of your choice and turn heat down. Cook until the vegetables are as tender as you like them.
*Meanwhile, beat your eggs and milk together. I add the seasoning to my eggs. Salt, pepper, whatever you like.

*After this, add your meat, if any, to the vegetables and pour the beaten eggs all over your sautéed vegetables.

*Make sure your heat is turned down so your eggs won’t brown too much on the bottom and let them cook uncovered for a few minutes, then cover with a lid and turn heat to low and cook until the eggs are almost set but still jiggles a little on top (very little).

* Turn on the broiler; add grated cheese to top of the eggs and cook under the broiler until the cheese melts and the sides are slightly curled up and crispy.
And that’s just how we like it.

As you can see, Stephen was a very, very happy boy to have a Sunday breakfast on a weekday.


See what I mean about the edge being crispy and curling up a bit?


(proof he can use a fork)

Now, you tell me -- Have you ever seen a happier boy or a more beautiful smile?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fresh Garden Vegetables And Rice (a summer recipe)





My dinner menu usually goes something like this: I decide what I’m going to prepare for dinner and then right smack in the middle of dinner preparation, I realize I’m out of a main ingredient. Then, to make matters worse, half the time I forget to take the meat out of the freezer in the morning. (See my about me section and you’ll notice I am ADD - now the aforementioned makes perfect sense.) This recipe was something I tried earlier in the summer when I was planning on grilled chicken salad, only to find out I was out of lettuce for the salad. I rambled through my pantry for plan B and saw a bag of brown rice, which my husband loves, and honestly, like all the times before, a recipe popped in my mind. I wondered if I could be fortunate enough to have some fresh green beans in the fridge. Yes, I did! This is what I whipped up to go with our grilled chicken. The two men of the house fell in love with it and I make it often now. I am fortunate that my daddy’s grape tomatoes and peppers did quite well this summer.

Fresh Garden Veggies With Rice

* Cooked brown rice (remember brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice!)
* Steamed whole green beans

For the roasted vegetables:
* Grape tomatoes (in this photo, I used red and yellow tomatoes)
* Onion slices (I prefer red onions for this)
* Chopped garlic
* Sliced bell pepper (I used yellow)
* Fresh rosemary
* Olive oil
* Kosher salt
* Ground black pepper

Toss all veggies together with olive oil and bake on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, till vegetables are as tender as you like them.
Serve over rice. Top with steamed green beans.

You can use variant types of vegetables for this. Like I said, I’m always out of something and I enjoy trying different things with this recipe.


------------------------------

By the way - Yes, I am aware this is not the entry I promised for my next entry. I'm working on it and will probably add it to my spiritual walk journal, which I will have to link at a later time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Seventeen

That’s how many years we have been married, as of today.
August 14th 1992 - two lives became one …

The Joy Of The Lord Is My Strength,” said the loud voice on my clock radio this morning. I keep my alarm set with the radio option instead of the annoying buzz option, because, waking up at 5:30 in the morning after going to sleep at 1:00 in the morning is annoying enough, if you ask me. I like to keep my radio programmed to our local Christian station because I enjoy spiritually uplifting radio talk shows and music. When your spirit is hungry for more than this world has to offer, there is nothing like waking up first thing in the morning and taking in the nourishment of God’s word.

Usually the alarm goes off in the middle of a song or radio host conversation, and usually, I hit the snooze button. But this morning was different. I was literally startled out of a sound sleep by the loud words, “The Joy Of The Lord Is My Strength!” followed by a long pause, then, about a five minute conversation between the two radio hosts on the subject of finding your joy and strength in the Lord. My eyes suddenly filled with tears. Tears of joy - for this was a valuable reminder to my worried little soul. I went to bed last night with a heavy heart. So heavy, I didn’t even remember that today was our anniversary. A little recent history: The last year has been a very trying time for us. The husband’s business has been feeling the pinch in the economy. No, that’s an understatement. The uncertain economy has been choking us. We’ve been stressing over matters that we haven’t stressed over in a long time. Plus, some of you know that yesterday was Stephen’s first day of high school ... High School!!! We walked him to his classroom, told him we'd see him in a few hours and watched him walk away hand in hand with a new classroom aide he'd never met before. There we stood, and all we could do was trust that all was going to be okay. So much stress!
Stress has a way of robbing us of our joy -- If we let it.

Joy. Real, genuine joy. We all long for it. Few of us find it. Why is that? Maybe it’s because we are searching for joy in all the wrong places. Some of us seek joy through outside influences. Such as our careers, our bank accounts, material possessions, or, sometimes, in other people and our relationships with them. At least, that’s my story. I was a hopeless romantic all my life. From a young age, I expected my love life to be one big Jane Austen novel. One filled with drama, but a happy ending. Well, I got the drama I was expecting. Or, should I say … I brought on the drama? Yeah, most definitely, that’s what I should say. Happy ending? Well, it hasn’t ended yet, but so far, the ending is looking pretty good. Because I found Mr. Right? Uh, no. Because I finally found joy. After an overabundance of self-inflicted pain and unreal expectations, searching for happiness outside of myself, I finally looked within and allowed God to awaken my spirit and fill me with real, genuine joy only He can give. And the good news is, it’s true, what the bible says In Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” My “love life” is happily-content, finally. Not because “my husband” makes me happy per se, but because God is working in each of us, changing us into His ideal plan for marriage. We’re not there yet, but with His help, we’re becoming what I hoped for and talked about in this entry here - five years ago.

Over the last few months, I've felt led to start writing my testimony, and the truth is, I've been resisting because I don't feel comfortable yet. At the risk of being totally vulnerable, I will tell you more.

… In my next entry.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Homesick (Missing Grandma)

Have you ever awoken with a certain person on your mind so strong you cannot stop thinking about them? That is what happened to me on Monday morning. I woke up with my paternal grandmother on my mind. I could close my eyes and see her sweet angelic face. As I washed the breakfast dishes and wiped down the counters, I found myself humming the tune, “How Great Thou Art” just as she used to do when I was a little girl sitting at her kitchen table.
I loved her voice. She had a high-pitched tone with a beautiful (and very proper) southern accent. The best way to describe her voice is, she sounded very much like Aunt Bea Taylor (if you watch The Andy Griffith Show, you know the voice).

Grandma always stayed busy in her little kitchen and that‘s where we spent most of our time. After grandpa passed away, an average day for me as a little girl was to visit grandma and have tea with her while she told me stories of her childhood. Grandma was a positive role model for me. In the twenty years I knew her, I never heard her speak against anyone, never heard her gossip, never saw her lose her temper, and never-ever did a “bad” word escape her lips. “Fiddle Sticks!” was her famous expression of anger or disappointment when the rare occasion called for it. As I grew into my teenage years, I often wondered how anyone could be at such peace in a world like this. I suppose I just assumed that no one had ever wronged grandma before. Why on earth would they? Years after she went home to be with the Lord, I learned otherwise. I learned that grandma had been treated very unfairly -- and that‘s putting it mildly. My parents told me all about it. I couldn’t understand why grandma didn’t share any of this with me. This was huge! I asked mama and daddy how grandma reacted - what did she say or do to the other person involved and their answer was not very surprising, considering it was grandma. She prayed for them.

Grandma was a woman of deep faith. She couldn’t talk about salvation or Heaven without getting tears in her eyes. Many times she told me, “This is all temporary - Heaven is my home. Oh, what a day that will be - when I see my Lord and Savior and thank Him face to face for all He’s done for me! I’ll see my loved ones again! And, if you follow my advice, you’ll be there with me some day when your time comes.” What an awesome legacy! I heard her pray often for her neighbors and friends. Most of them were unaware of her prayers. Nevertheless, the good Lord heard them … and so did I.

I asked mama yesterday, “wasn’t it about this time of year when grandma Willis went home to be with the Lord?” (that’s what grandma always called it when someone passed away)
Mama answered, “Yeah, it was May 14th”

Now I understand why I couldn’t stop thinking of her. The date must be in my subconscious. I was yearning to see grandma again. I know that someday I will. It’s been twenty three years … and I still miss her terribly.

Ironically, I lost each of my grandparents in the spring of the year.
Ironically, Springtime is the time of new beginnings.


Marie Willis ~+~ 1900-1986
---------------------------------------------------------------

Homesick
By: Mercy Me

You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is -- how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

As Promised (a day late)


Leave It To A Southerner To Totally Ruin The Nutritional Value Of An Apple

I was talking to one of my parent’s neighbors this morning about her wonderful fried apple pies I grew up loving so much. One of my favorite childhood memories is the heavenly scent of Mrs. C’s fried apple pies making its way two doors down to our house on a breezy day. Being the foodie I am and always have been, I never failed to come up with a clever excuse to go for a visit when my nose became aware it was “fried apple pie day” at Mrs. C’s house. Which wasn’t hard to do, seeing how her daughter was (and still is) one of my best friends.
Mrs. C said she made Paula Deen’s apple fritters recipe one day last week and knew I’d love them as much as I love fried apple pies. Bless her little heart - she was so right. Here’s the recipe:

Apple Fritters
Recipe by Paula Deen, 2008
Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time: 8 min
Serves: about 20 fritters

Ingredients
2 tablespoons oil (or as much as it takes to cover the bottom of your skillet)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
1 cup self-rising flour
3 apples peeled, cored and sliced horizontally, about 1/4-inch thick
Powdered sugar, optional
Note: although the recipe doesn’t call for it, I took it upon myself to add some vanilla flavoring to the batter. Granny Smith apples are very tart in this recipe; use a sweeter apple if you dislike the tart ones.
Directions
Heat 2 tablespoons oil to 375 degrees F.
Combine in a bowl the beaten egg, milk, sugar, cinnamon and sour cream. Mix well and add flour.
Dip apples in batter and carefully place in oil. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove fritters and drain. Maybe sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve warm.


Two hours later, not even a measly crumb remains, but the scent of battered apples fried in a cast iron skillet is still lingering in the air. Stephen is most certainly his mother’s son. What I didn’t eat, he finished off with a glass of milk as soon as he got off the bus today. These are the simple things I want to remember and cling to -- which is why I journal such occasions. Yes, to share a recipe with my fellow foodies, but also to share a moment and a memory.

I hope those of you who decide to try this recipe will enjoy them as much as Stephen and I have today.

Monday, April 27, 2009

HEY this is a good sign!

I took the Christmas decorations down from my blog!

... And it's only April!

I'm really getting a handle on this procrastination thing! Don't you think?

Seriously, friends ... I have a new blog entry ready to add (and it involves food!) but at this very moment, I am busy with Stephen so I'll get to it soon.

See y'all soon!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yes, we're here ...

Hey guys. I apologize for the blogging hiatus. Life has been ... demanding. I'm not complaining, only stating the facts.

Some of you already know that I have been hanging out on Facebook a lot these days. If you do facebook, would you hit me up over there? My user name is Mia Renee and I am in the Birmingham, AL network. What I love about facebook is, I can do a 5 second status entry to stay in touch. That's perfect for someone with adult ADD such as myself.

Trust me, I'm NOT leaving blogger. I do have a few new ideas rolling around in my ever-so-busy mind and two other blogs in the works. One is totally about my spiritual walk and spiritual growth. The other blog is going to be about my photography. I'm sad that the move from AOL journals lost most of our photos from our old entries. I downloaded them, so they're in safe keeping but do you honestly think I'm willing to upload each photo entry I made for more than five years to match each blog? Hah, you know me too well to make that assumption, don't you?

Stephen is home sick this week. He's been sick since last Thursday and you know him, he doesn't bounce back like the average child would. He's on the mend though. And once he's back in school, I "might" make time to take these Christmas decorations down from my blog. (LOL)

thanks for the comments and emails to check on us. I will return ASAP!

Y'all take care!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Just So You Know ...

Hey guys, I wanted to let you know that I will be busy until the end of this month. I will be online here and there but not as much as usual. I will be checking my email. At least once or twice a day instead of the usual one or two hundred times a day. OK, that's stretching the truth a bit.

Anyway, I just didn't want y'all to worry if you didn't see me around. Um, you were getting worried, right? (Lie if you must, I'm feeling insecure these days);P

Be back soon!

Y'all take care -