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Friday, January 30, 2009

Working Mom Blues and The Case of the Bad Bear Biasco

Kevin had roses sent to work as a surprise for me. It was soooo sweet! Moonbeam does not want to comment to the press about having her father and siblings care for her during the day.

Well, I would have said "fiasco" but the "b" went in there better.............. you know

Anyway, it had been more than a month since I worked. I was beginning to get nervous at the dwindling funds. My husband reminded me that God always provides. Then it happened... at the beginning of bible study, the hospital called. I was happy to hear they wanted some one for the next day. I said "yes". They were shocked. Then I found out why. It was....gulp....a day shift. I had had a very busy day trying to get my house in order for the evening. That involves braving the children's (or public) bathroom. Making sure that there is no soiled toilet paper sitting in wads of trash over flowing. Cleaning out the sink and places on the wall and mirror where toothpaste has haphazardly sprayed. Taking out the stinking bathroom rugs that always smell like little boy pee pee. It's a tough job and even though we have bible study every week, and even though the kids rotate weekly on bathroom cleaning duties, it's never suitable for guests until I have seen it.
I also had bear steaks marinading, ready for a quick run through old George Foreman. I started them a day or two before. I was disgusted that the bag broke and leaked all over the refrigerator. I had to put them into another dish and cleaned up the mess. Then after all that, I was only to discover that they weren't steaks after all. It was a roast!!! Well I started cooking it as soon as I discovered it. The problem was it didn't give me enough time. About an hour before bible study I abandoned the project, took it out of the oven and made a fast grouse casserole. Unbeknown to me, my husband thought it was part of the meal. He ate some - yuck! I did not discover this until much later. I was hurriedly cleaning (you know that have to have everything perfect complex).
Well when work called unexpectedly, I couldn't just cancel the Bible Study. Our friends were already there. We had a great time and after they were gone, I was running on 4 hours sleep prior to the first shift. Then I found out they needed me again the next day. Work for me is an all day endeavor. I got up at 4 am, I start work at 5:45am, don't get off until 6:15pm, don't get home until 8:30 pm if I'm lucky and there's no overtime involved. I had no time to cook. I shoved the bear in the refrigerator and forgot about him....lurking....in there.
When I got done with the first day I discovered my hungry abandoned family had eaten much of the poorly cooked roast...... I feel so guilty!!! You're never supposed to eat bear unless its fully cooked because it can have the same worm as pig do. Oh dear oh dear....moan moan.
To make matters first, the bear was revisited. I tried making its remainder into enchiladas after cooking it in strips. It was tough and yucky. I think it may be trying to take vengence upon me for not properly giving it the attention it deserved. I can almost hear it calling me now, from the garbage can. This is what it's saying "oooooooohhhh oooohhhhhh!"
I was happy, though, that flowers were delivered to me at work. What a sweet thing to do! On my birthday, my family had a party for me. After I got back from shopping I was pleased to discover my daughter had walked to the neighbors to borrow eggs for a strawberry shortcake. She even made mine without sugar so I could eat it. Kevin said he was sorry he hadn't been to town and didn't have anything for me. I was in such a good mood I told him that being married to him was gift enough for me (10 years ago I would have cried myself to sleep). Wow! This was so sweet :-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Heather's Femininity Challenge, Sweet Baboo Brand Nursing Shawl

My sister did a femininity challenge that I have been delinquent in. After some deliberation I decided to answer it with this picture and also do a product review at the same time. For Christmas this year, my mom and dad gave me a nursing shawl. It came in a very pretty bag with a matching burp cloth. It was so cute! It was also definitely upscale motherhood at it's finest ;-) I was delighted.
Though I've had 5 babies, I have never owned a nursing shawl until now. Honestly, it didn't seem all that necessary to me. I'm one of those nurse anywhere type chics as long as I have a blanket along. I am also a multi tasker to no end. I have been known to grocery shop while nursing, and a host of other things too numerous to mention. Being a working mom, a home school mom, and multi child mom, I am constantly moving. This product was just great!
Its a way to nurse discreetly without being excessively worried about flashing somebody in the process. The top is vented so you can see what's going on, give the baby some air, etc, but it remains private. The shawl is lightweight and easy to stuff in my purse. There is even a back corner of cloth on it to wipe a mouth. It's very pretty, practical and has that "this mom has got it together" type look.
Yesterday I went out with some friends to celebrate my birthday. We shopped until we about dropped. On the way out of town, a friend treated us to a hole in the wall place with the best burgers ever! I forgot to bring in a blanket, and there was my nursing shawl. It was just the right thing to have. It stayed on and I didn't have to give it another thought. I enjoyed my friends, nursed and had a great meal without disturbing any body. Here's her website if you want to check out her products. She does a really nice job on them. sweetbaboodesigns.etsy.com

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Week One of Sugar Fast Completed

Well I'm at the end of my first week of sugar fasting. My mom is at the end of her first week as well. Around the third or fourth day I got kind of irritable and fuzzy. Other than that, it really hasn't been bad. Of course I have been at home all week and haven't had too many temptations. I've lost a good solid 2lbs or more. Also I have lost a few inches as well. The pants I bought on my MN trip are falling off of me in a most unbecoming way. I am also starting to feel more energy. Enough about me. My mom said she noticed that she has a strong sense of "well being". I am so glad about this. Tomorrow is my birthday. Some friends and I are going out shopping for the day. That will most likely be a little more challenging.

I think this has got to be the most boring post ever. I'm going to post it any way for the sake of keeping track. I've enjoyed a lot of good out door time this week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Wheels of Progress

When we returned home from our trip, I was found a monstrous sight! It had snowed and snowed. Snow had fallen off the roof in large mounds. Then the weather turned warm and melted all the snow mounds into solid ice over our steps and porch. I ignored the impass (using the other door) until yesterday. My first and only visitor arrived unexpectedly. It was even a female!!! She had come by snowmobile. She braved much to enter. I was so embarassed!
Today I set about chiseling at the mounds until I had set these captive steps relatively free. At first I thought they'd be buried alive until spring. I almost abandoned the rescue attempts, feeling it was an impossible feat. Then as I drove my spade over and over into it, small chunks came off. I hoped to free just one. Soon it was two. Before I knew it, I had most of them done. Can you tell they are smiling with appreciation and deep gratitude?
It reminded me about how God can change us. When we work hard by taking just one step of faith at a time, it leads to another. The change isn't instant, but results do come. It was also a killer arm work out ;-) Maybe I can do the walk way tomorrow. What change do you need to chisel away at?
Hebrews 13 (New King James Version) :20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you[d] what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ice or My Love Hate Relationship with Nordic Walking

I know you have all been anxiously more commontary on "Mordic Walking". As you may already be aware, it looks really stupid. If you do not know what Nordic walking is, then you have come to the right place. Nordic Walking is simply walking with ski poles. That's it.
Pro's to Nordic Walking : Better Stability (especially on ice)
Good weight distrubution - great for heavy people with joint problems, great for packing a baby
Works your arms
Great on steep inclines, deep snow, uneven surfaces and yes did I mention ice?
All around great aerobic workout
Cons to Nordic Walking : It looks stupid
I have been challenged by this mile of pure ice on our road. Years back, it kept me indoors. Now I am learning to see it as more of a challenge. My ingenious husband put sheet metal screws in a pair of my old hikers. No I do not have a screw loose. It really works great on ice!! For a fraction of the price of some fancy ice spikes, you can do this too :-)
I can hear you already "but I might break a hip". Well just remember that stagnant life style along with unhealthy eating habbits is a good way to slowly but surely deteriorate your health.
Live Dangerously. Take on the wild side with your ski poles.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Flames Come Out My VCR" and The Glycemic Index

I once met a man with burnt eyelashes, eyebrows and a shocked look on his otherwise pleasant demeanor. "Flames come out my VCR" he informed me. After thoroughly caring for him and exploring the possibility of airway edema, I further questioned him. "So, unprovoked, flames came shooting at you out of your VCR? Can you elaborate on this, sir?" I was quite skeptical in the matter. The only medical history that he gave me was "accident prone". He went on to say that he had been cleaning his VCR with compressed air. He was attempting to look inside and since he didn't have a flashlight handy, "Boom!", the match gave him a very short and powerful view.

Since I am on a sugar fast, and my brain may be functioning slightly below par, allow me some grace to expound. I will now explain why this story is pertinent. If your body was a furnace, wood would be it's medium of energy for producing heat. Paper, gasoline, compressed air, birch bark and host of other highly flammable materials would provide "a fast burn". Logs, however, especially good hardwood would cause a nice slow burn lasting many hours. The bi product of a good burning wood is clean. The bi product of gasoline, some oil rags, and possibly a can of compressed air would be more flammable and explosive in nature. It would also leave a stink in the air. If you put paper and gas in your wood stove every hour, you would constantly be restarting the stove. If you eat sugar cereal for breakfast, frozen pizza for lunch and McDonald's for dinner, you are doing a similar job on your body. It suffers ups and downs all day long. It gets a "fast burn" and has little sustainable. It is also full of hazardous bi products. This is my very limited explanation of the Glycemic Index. If you eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats and dairy products in proper balance, you will have a sustainable burn. This burn is appropriate to health, weight management and over all good mental functions.

Here are some links on the Glycemic Index.



God gave us foods at varied glycemic index levels to help us have "good burning woodstoves" consistent with good mental, emotional and physical functioning.

Another Good Reference to learn from is "Feel Great Look Great" by Joyce Meyer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why a Sugar Fast?

Well, I'll tell you. Let me start with my testimony. I was getting rather huge a couple of years back and under a lot of stress besides. I had tried many diets to lose weight and they just didn't do a lot for me. I got so desperate, I finally cried out to God and asked Him to help me. Sitting out on the deck that day, looking out at the lake, I heard this distinct inner voice tell me to "take the summer off from sugar". I knew it wasn't my flesh, because it knew better. I thought about binding the devil, but he knows better too. It couldn't be psychosis because, though I was under a lot of stress, I was still in my right mind. Yes, it was the BIG GUY UPSTAIRS giving me this strategy.

Now I had tried this once before for a few days (when I discovered that I was consuming as many calories in desserts as I was in food). This was a horrible reality check for me because I found that way to much of the joy in my life was wrapped up in these foods!

As I said before, I didn't think that this was possible, but I was sure that it was God. We know with Him, indeed, all things are possible.

So I went about fasting from all concentrated sweets. Amazingly, God gave me the grace to do it. I also watched labels. I avoided foods that contained sugar and high fructose corn syrup. You would be surprised how many foods contain sugar!!! I also added exercise, prayer and many more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. I was under so much stress and difficulties that I had no control over. I found comfort knowing that though I had no control of my circumstances, I could control what I was putting in my mouth. I also drank mammoth amounts of water. Every time I stepped on the scale, it went down. It was the first time in my life that I was success full at losing weight. After 2 1/2 months, I had lost 30 lbs and another 5 lbs not long after. Before my last baby, I was at a 42 lb weight loss. I have NEVER gained that back. Even at full term with Moonbeam, I was less than I weighed before the first fast. Of course I DO have baby weight to lose. I've never made it to my goal weight, but I am so much closer than I was a few years back.


If concentrated sweets and sugar are not your vice, then by all means find something else to fast from. If it's computers, fast from computers. If it's coffee, then coffee. If it's wearing plaid then go stripes for a while. There's no hard fast rules about what to fast from. It's more when the pleasures we enjoy begin to infringe upon our freedom in Christ, then a fast is in order. For me, I was feeling enslaved by fat. Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers were heavy and diabetic. My mother has also wrestled with weight all her life. It's a hereditary curse that I am striving to break free from. I want better for my children.

I learned that my body liked desserts and refined foods because it is lazy. It wants the fast burn. Sustainable burning foods such as whole grains, vegetables and meats make my body work harder to process. Giving it sugar all the time sabotaged any fat loss attempts because it didn't have to work to process complex carbs for energy. Living on a constant sugar high predisposes us to obesity and a host of other health related issues. Not to mention moodiness, depression and anxiety. I was shocked to consistently feel good. I was amazed all arthritic symptoms left my body. Most of all, my favorite thing was how my husband acted around me. I will say no more.

Really, you can execute a sugar fast however you want. I do not believe that all sugar is created equal. I recommend eating fruit. I believe that the fiber is beneficial to a healthy diet. I use stevia, honey, maple syrup, apple sauce, bananas and raisins to sweeten foods. I try not to use excessive amounts of them though.

Ok, well enough of this post. You get the idea. I will also add that I saw God move in many ways for me. When we are weakest in the flesh, we are strongest in spirit :-) When I feel my sugar intake is getting out of control, I begin a new sugar fast. Sometimes all it takes is a week to get back on track. So far, I have found that a month long, once a year is quite beneficial for me. I hope that I can be of some help to someone. I feel excessively grieved to see "fat America" in the emergency room for mental and physical problems related to obesity. I want to make a difference for some one. This is why I decided to blog about it and make my strange traditions public.

Isaiah 61:3-5 (New King James Version)
3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” 4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations. 5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, And the sons of the foreigner Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Back in Montana, New Sugar Fast Challenge

Well, we finally made it back into Montana. We had such a great time in Minnesota. As most of our readers know, we live deep in the wilds of mountainous Montana. Our trip back was uneventful except for the last mile. We were on single lane glare ice roads in a Suburban pulling another SUV. As we went around our last corner on top of narrow lane carved into the side of a hill, we slid into a precarious position. We all had to get out and hike the last mile (or a little less) home. It wouldn't have been a big deal except that it was 2am and the road was glare ice. I put Moonbeam in my sling and shined a little flashlight on the road. It was very very slow going. Kevin and the other kids helped me find rough spots in the ice to walk on. Sometimes I walked the sides in the crusty snow. It was a hike I will not soon forget.
Of course my imagination ran wild and I wondered what would happen if a family of squatters had already moved into our home. Kevin seeing a light on in the basement didn't help. On and on my imagination shaped a "Chuck Norris type gunfight" accompanied by hand to hand combat. Eventually we chase the would be squatters out of our home, and the perimeter becomes secure. Then the would be squatters become old friends or family who we must dutifully invite to live with us. These crazy ideas go on and on until I have built a fire in the wood stove and fallen asleep.
Well, I am glad to be home, no squatters present. I am thankful for safe travels and wonderful family.

For anyone who wants, I am beginning a month long white sugar fast, and you are welcome to join me :-) I will plot my progress as it comes. This will be my 3rd annual sugar fast. My first one was 2 1/2 months long, then I've done 2 more month long ones. I have also done sporadic week long ones as well. I will be writing more on this in future blog entries along with healthy "hope for the best" recipes. I will also write my testimony about how this has helped me. I will say that I have grown from them spiritually, and lost from them in fat (30 lbs) the first fast. Anyway, my mom is joining me and every one else is welcome too ;-) It is a good time for me to focus on nutrition and also on prayer.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Incredibly Grateful - 40 Below ZERO

This is our 3rd week (and tomorrow is our final day) of a trip back home to Northern Minnesota. I find that I have grown a lot since I've been here. I've also reminisced and been reminded of wonderful childhood memories that I had long forgotten. All these trips back into my mind and into peoples homes inspire me to be INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL for everything God has given me. I have a wonderful family. We are surrounded by people who love us and have been part of our growth. So many people have sown into our lives and into the lives of our children. Here are some wonderful memories :

1. It was 40 degrees BELOW ZERO and my dad got to take the ENTIRE week off because equipment can't run that cold. My mom, dad, their kids and all their grand kids spent all that time together having fun under the same roof - how special! We've not been together that long since Heather and I were living under that roof!
2. Kevin's Grandmother visited us this past fall all the way from Nebraska. She is our children's Great Grandmother. She made this special quilt for us which we just got tonight. WOW! (picture above) She is a remarkable woman.
3. All my family from Duluth came to see us at my aunts. It was so special and filled with so many good memories.
4. Kevin's parents spent a lot of quality time with the kids. They had a lot of fun together. He also got to see his brother, sister in law and niece. We got adorable pictures with them. It was a fun shopping day too.
5. The kids got to visit their dear friends the Todds. How special to see these kids growing up to be such wonderful people.
6. The dedication was incredible!
7. We are all getting older and I am learning to accept grey in my hair. I see that the legacy I am leaving behind is what's important, not how much I weigh, how much money I have to spend, or anything else.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

more memory lane.......

1. Our Family after Mom's marriage
2. Pretty Aunt Pam
3. Liana's Birthday
4. I was a nurse from a very young age (and doesn't our little girl resemble me?!)

more from memory lane

Shirin and Jeannine Pictures more stories to come

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

memory lane

I've been at my mom's for the week. We have had such fun! Today we were looking on her computer and we all decided to put up an old pic (from a few years ago) off her computer. Here's mine. It's my mother in law. Isn't she pretty?!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Krystiana and Sofia's Dedication

My sister and I dedicated Krystiana and Sofia together in our Mom and Dad's Church this past Sunday.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Here are some pics of our trip to Duluth where I saw many family members I grew up around.

From as far back as I can remember, I was best friends with my cousin Jeannine. We played together, fought together and schemed up all kinds of crazy ideas. Jeannine wasn't your average kid to grow up with. She's the craziest kid I ever knew. Neither of us are all white, though our moms are. My biological dad is from India and hers is black. Jeannine was the cutest kid ever. She had fluffy curly blond hair, lovely eyes and a lovely complexion. Her imagination is out of this world. I can't think of anyone responsible for making me laugh more. Jeannine thinks outside the box. I don't think the box would even let her in if she asked nicely. She showed up at our family get together with her husband and "her foreign exchange student", some guy who is staying with them.
When I had to do the dishes, Jeannine and I would pretend that we were slaves of a woman named "Mrs. Penalby". Another time she told me that doing dishes was "against her religion". Another time, Jeannine put all the dishes in the sink and sprayed them down with the hose and then said they were done. Every time my mother found a dirty dish, she hid them in the oven or under a towel. She was just crazy.
When our family went to stay at a fancy lodge for several nights, another uncle offered to foot the bill. This place was posh, and complete with dining hall cathedral ceiling painted by a world famous painter with intricate murals. Jeannine took full advantage of this fact (that our uncle was paying). She ordered an expensive meal every evening. When we should have been eating off the kids menu, she ordered salmon, steak, non-alcohol champagne, etc.. Finally my uncle put his foot down and told her that she had to order a kids meal the final night. Jeannine ordered a kids burger. When the waiter brought her meal, she discovered that it didn't have any cheese on it. She got so mad, she tried to throw the bun at the waiter. When she did these crazy things, her mother would haul her off to the bathroom with her loudly screaming. My aunt would start yelling and swearing saying she was going to spank her. Then my Grandmother would start begging her not to do it. Jeannine was very dramatic. She could put on a good show. You just never knew what would happen with her around.
Jeannine wanted long hair. Since it wouldn't cooperate with her, she just wore colored tights on her head. She didn't care where she wore them or to what public function. She put barrettes on them and hair ties. Whenever she got tired of them, she changed colors. No one dared say anything about it. You just didn't mess with Jeannine.
Jeannine always insisted on calling me "Gaberin", though I hated it. Eventually I resolved to just be "Gaberin". I think I may write some stories about us later on this blog.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Legacy of My Mothers Neurotic Behavior

I am fully acquainted with psychological deviations having worked on and off in Emergency Rooms since the age of 17. I can tell you from experience that they come in many varieties. After studying the behavior of people for quite some time, I can tell you that most people show some form of defunct behavior. I would wager that 90 % of today’s population exhibits some degree of neurotic behavior, given the proper circumstances. The other 10% I attribute to psychosis. That said, perhaps I could share with my readers the remarkable fetishes of my family.

My mother, who is close to sainthood, in my mind, has some very unique compulsions. As a child, I can remember that for quite some time, I was she and my grandmother’s obsession. I often visited the Doctor for many reasons other than illness. I also frequented the dentist. My childhood was micro managed to the extent that almost every waking and sleeping moment, some one knew what I was doing. For the sake of my sister reading this, I will add that even my toilet behavior was closely monitored.
My grandmother was also quite obsessive. Whenever I asked to go for a walk, she would send me out with a cup full of pepper to throw into anyone’s eyes who might try to harm me. I was only allowed to walk about 2-3 cabins past our property. Then I had to come straight back.
When I was about 12 or 13, my mother “got saved”. She was a single mom, working full time to support us girls. She had been searching for quite some time. She sailed through many new interests prior to this conversion. At the time I thought it was one of her passing trends. After all, not long before this she had gotten into cooking with a wok, taking guitar lessons, and getting her green belt in karate. I still remember the time she said “when I die, bury me in my Ge”.
It is quite extra-ordinary how it all happened now that I think about it. One day my mother prayed the salvation prayer with a carpenter who was working on our house. After that, she suddenly took an interest in this church not far away from our home. It was not unusual for her to be excited about something new, but this new trend didn’t go away easily. My mother blared Christian Radio in the car. She started saying “praise the Lord” all the time. She even began making odd sounds with a new thing she called “praying in tongues”. She carried her bible all over the place with her. If ever there was an excited new convert, it was my mother.
I tolerated all these things for the most part. It was when some well meaning church person told her that she needed to instruct her children in these things that it really affected me. Suddenly, I was not only in school Monday through Friday and Dance Classes every entire Saturday, but we now had a place to be on Sundays. My grandmother rebelled at first, but when she saw that my mother was determined, she eventually gave in and started going along with her. For a while, when she was angry, she would shout on the top of her lungs “You call yourself and Christian and……..” to whatever behavior she didn’t approve of in my mother. We also quit our beloved tradition of going to the local eating establishment (which was a bar). My Grandmother would order a “Harvey Wall Banger” and my Mother would order a “Vodka Collins”. I would play video games, eat greasy food, and be entertained by drunk Minnesotans.
We were quite an amusing scene at the local church. In the morning, I would try to get out of going to church. Eventually I was forced to go. This was the first time ever that my mother made me do anything. My sister would happily go along. In the car, my mother would blast her Christian Radio station saying “praise the Lord” and I would try to change the station. My sister would narc on me. I would come to learn that I could never escape from Christian Radio stations in the years to follow. My grandmother would pack my little sister a container of butter, a knife and some crackers. Every Sunday, my sister would sit underneath the front pew buttering the crackers and happily munching on them. Lively music would play and people would get excited. Quiet music would play and people would raise their arms. The pastor would deliver a message. Some Chinese lady behind me would begin to loudly speak. I never did locate her as many times as I tried to.
This went on for quite some time. Every Sunday I could hear the pastor inviting us to come up and “get saved”. Every Sunday, this invisible force would compel me to the front. Even then, I was terrified of people and the idea of making a spectacle of myself in front of an entire church was enough to make me want to vomit.
I knew it was only a matter of time before this invisible force had its way with me. It never quit compelling me forward. Some times I would grip the sides of the pew to hold myself back. It didn’t just pursue me in the church. It began to follow me every where I went. It was there with me in the morning and at night constantly pursuing me. One day I couldn’t take it. It was an evening service at the church with a special speaker. I was particularly concerned about going up there because I was a 7th grader by then, and a 12th grade boy had taken it upon himself to begin hitting on me. We were sitting together in the back of the church. My mother was oblivious to these things because as a new Christian, everything was wonderful and all that mattered was God. I really wanted to impress this guy. Going up there would commit “cool” suicide. The pull became unbearable though, and up I went along with some others. “Welcome to the kingdom of God” my mother kept loudly telling us all after the service.
Once I said “yes” just once to that invisible force, my life would never be the same. It would pursue me to no end. Everything became fresh and new and I was constantly hungry for more of it. It was there when I woke up in the morning. It was there when I went to bed at night. Reading my Bible, I’d eventually curl up and sleep with it (though I hid this fact from my mother). Though I didn’t want anybody to know, this invisible force consumed me. It took me to places no one could ever understand. It was like having a supernatural best friend. One day all by myself I asked it if I could have that gift my mom had, and just like that, it gave it to me.
The problem was, it was jealous. It wouldn’t let my affections happily pursue much else. I was particularly most miserable trying to get drunk or high. It would loudly ask me “is this really making you happy?”. I couldn’t turn any direction without it being there, waiting for me. Once I gave it first place in my life again, there was a tremendous relief. Perhaps I am a bit neurotic or fixated on Him, but I can’t help myself. He continually demands my eyes fixed on Him. When I look elsewhere, misery is sure to follow. The cool thing about Him, is that He gives me supernatural insight. He tells me which way to go. He gives me vision, passion, and self worth.
As for my families other strange fixations, well there are many of them, though none anywhere near as purposeful. Just the other day my mother and I were discussing some of her fetishes. They involved a chiropractor, a naturopath and a furniture store. It seems there is no end to the experts she consults. She drives her mechanics close to insanity. She can spend many an hour discussing the inherent evils of msg, pork and acidic foods. She lives on goat cheese, organic cherry juice and chocolate. These trends come and go. I can’t remember her cooking with a wok since I was a child. She no longer pursues karate. She doesn’t play her guitar much. As for God, well that fetish has never passed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baking Pies Together

I really like this picture of my Father in law baking pies with our daughter.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hiking on a Frozen Swamp in Minnesota

Allow me to introduce you to my in laws. They're not quite your average grandparent type figures. My father in law, for example, loves to do really cool things. He can be seen popping wheelies on his motorcycle as he drives by his home in the summer time when the kids are out playing on the front lawn. During the summer, he goes for motorcycle rides with them and takes them fishing. In the winter, he drives them around on his snowmobile and they target practice firearms together. When our oldest daughter was little, she wanted to grow up to be a small engine mechanic just like him. When our oldest son has cool experiences, the first person he wants to call isn't another teen, its his grandfather.
We must not leave out their grandmother. Last night, there was a conversation about target practice. The kids encouraged me to challenge their grandmother to a shooting contest. Kiana figured I shouldn't bother, because, undoubtedly her grandmother would win. I know better, anyway, than to take on someone coined "Dead Eye Debbie". She is also dubbed "The Gift Giver", because she gives more gifts to more people than anyone I know. On Christmas, the entire living room is so full of presents that there is only room for each child to sit in one spot and not move. The presents tower over them so that once they are handed the presents, you can no longer see the child. She also has the incredible knack to find just the right thing for whomsoever she is buying the gift for. She reads the kids stories at night or plays games with them. She encourages most every hobby they pursue. I fear I will never be quite the grandparent that they are when my time comes. The children all think they're the best thing ever.
I have spent many an hour hiking on the frozen swamp behind their house on this visit. My father in law made all kinds of neat trails over the frozen bog. I've been making "swamp bouquets" out of the cedar, balsam, cat tails and other shrubbery and weeds I have found out there. Today it warmed up to 0 or a little above, so we all took a long hike in the swamp. It was so much fun. Karsten and Kaleb watched vigilantly for Sasquatch lingering around, but they didn't see any. We saw a deer and 2 snowshoe hares. The rabbits were so pretty. I tried to photograph them, but my camera batteries refused to be resurrected.
Here are some photos of the breakfast I prepared before we marched across the frozen bog. Cheesy Hash browns, Sausage and Gingerbread Snowman Pancakes as an accompaniment to eggs. It is decorated with one of my "swamp bouquets".

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Dysfunctional Relationship with People

Recently I have been visiting our relatives in Minnesota. As I hike through the frozen swamp behind my in laws home, it occurred to me that I may have a dysfunctional relationship with people in general.

This is how it started..... I was born into a home full of females. 1. My mother of course 2. My grandmother 3. My Aunt. Eventually, my sister, who is 7 years younger than me replaced my aunt. There were never any men in the equation. My experiences in Kindergarten were sketchy. My first distinct recollection of male interaction (other than with uncles and such) was a boy I called "charcoal booger". I called him this because he always had green snot running down his nose and his last name reminded me of charcoal. I will not elaborate any further on him other than to say that he once said to me in gym class "hey baby lets smooch". This was a shocking thing to hear as a kindergartner, particularly because of the green snot visualization. From then on, I developed an aversion to the male species. God does have a sense of humor, and gave me a husband (who came from an all boy family) along with 3 sons. I have since come to appreciate the male species because of this. However, in most of my growing up years, I experienced extreme anxiety around them.

It may have been this random incident, or possibly because of the time I was excommunicated from a church. Regardless of why, people in general at times cause me to suffer extreme anxiety.

Most of the time this is not true working the night shift as an ER nurse. When the nice and normal day shift people have left, all the odd balls come out to work. I relate to these odd balls well, because I am one of them. Working as an ER nurse is not a normal interaction with people anyway. Let me tell you why. Say for instance, you were having a heart attack. Instead of saying "nice to meet you", I am removing their clothing in order to attach a heart monitor and do an EKG. Rather than shake a hand, I am sticking needles into it. It is a very unusual way to interact with a perfect stranger. Only in hospitals is this kind of behavior appropriate. Please don't try it any where else.
When I am forced to interact with people, I sometimes feel I must pretend to be "normal". The problem is, I don't know what "normal" is. I fake it, but I don't pull it off well. After studying other people over time, I have come to the conclusion that many of them are trying to pretend to be "normal" as well. Here's some good scriptures for all of you faking it odd balls.

1 John 3
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!
Therefore the world does not know us,because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

1 John 1 : 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

We must all embrace our individuality. We must no longer pretend to be normal. Yes, people may think we are weird, but that's o.k., because, after all, we are. Being weird and interacting with people actually provides great blog writing material if you can maintain your sense of humor.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

How God Fixed Our Toilet (and how my husband got saved)

Recently, I decided to start writing about miracles in our lives. Thus far, I have written about 2 financial miracles we've had, and about how God took care of us when we were having airplane problems. You can read all about that stuff back in 2008 Archives. Today I'm going to tell my readers about how my husband got saved.

I will spare you the details of my heathen teenage years. Sufficed to say that I found myself in my early 20's married to an atheist, myself a "backslider", fighting to get through college and just trying to get by. We'd had our first baby, Kevin III, and neither of us were particularly ready to grow up just yet, let alone, raise a baby. I was reaping a lot of things I'd sown and I didn't particularly like the harvest I was getting. Its not that I didn't love my family, its more that I did, and I felt guilty for putting myself (and them) in such a home life. I knew better than the choices I had made. As a child, I believed that I was supposed to go to Bible College and become a missionary. I was sure that God had cursed my life and that nothing could possibly go right since I had "unequally yoked".

I tried going to churches after Kevin and I were together, but they didn't sit well with me. The first one I thought I could get away with living a little sinful in. They seemed like the "anything goes" kind of church, and it was. I was awfully bored there. I didn't grow much. I didn't feel God there much either. Its not that He wasn't there, it just wasn't right for me. It could have been that every time I left after a service, the pastors son in law would ask me where my husband was. Instead of saying "He's not a Christian", I found a stupid excuse to tell him. He always shook his head piously and said "How sad, how sad, a woman in church without her husband". Then he would say "how sad, how sad, a baby in church without its father." I got rather tired of this routine and I had the strange sensation to slap him and say "how sad, how sad, a moron in the door of this church every week."

The next church I went to was a little more the kind I had grown up in. The problem was that they were just too nice. They were so nice, unfortunately, that they never let me in the service with my baby. My options were : 1. let a strange woman babysit my child in the nursery, or 2. sit in the nursery with my child the entire service. 1. Was not an option to me, 2. left me wasting my time. I chose option 3. and quit going there.

The last church was kind of crazy. The people were kinda strange, but they were very welcoming and they seemed to genuinely want me there (with or without my husband). They got really excited when I told them my husband wasn't a Christian and decided to take it upon themselves to "pray him into the kingdom". Along with years of my mothers heartfelt prayers, he didn't stand a chance. The first church promised me it was scriptural that my husband would get saved but told me sadly "it may not be until after you are dead". These people were lively in their services, and I could always feel God's Presence there. It wasn't long before I had rededicated my life to God and told Him this time I would never stray again. I gave my husband to Him and told Him that I was serving God no matter what comes. Despite some of the strange things people did in that church, I knew they loved and accepted me.

It wasn't long before things started to change at home. I'm not talking about my husband either. He told me "I noticed you started keeping the house cleaner". I also gave my best attempt at "submission". I'll never forget the time that he told me I couldn't go to church. I went upstairs to pray (a place I'd been frequenting a lot since the submission thing started). I wasn't there long before he sent me off to church. I discovered that when I quit rebelling and started praying, things changed fast. I was actually seeing supernatural changes in my house.

I had borrowed these crazy "Gospel Bill Show" tapes I would bring home from church. At first Kevin wouldn't allow them in the house. Later he started watching them (until the preaching part came on). Then one day, I was in the shower, and I heard Gospel Bill on. He had put it on for out baby himself. This was getting exciting!

My sister, Heather and I had been planning a long awaited get away at a Christian Rock Festival called "Sunshine" in Wilmar, Minn.. We were really excited about it. I did everything possible to try and leave the house in good order for when I would be gone. I didn't want any problems with my marriage. Things were going so much better these days. The day before I was ready to leave, you guessed it, the toilet in our bedroom got plugged. At the time, Kevin was going to college for Aviation. He was gone during the day taking classes. I was home and trying desperately to get the toilet unplugged. I tried plunging for what seemed like an eternity. I tried household unclogging agents (with what money I could scrape together). Nothing worked. To my horror, during the process, I'd flushed the toilet and there was a horrible mess all over the floor. I was feeling rather desperate. I really wanted to escape to that festival and I knew Kevin wouldn't want me leaving that way. Finally in desperation, I laid hands on the toilet and prayed. I'm talking a heart felt fervent prayer asking God to please fix our toilet.

Eventually the time came, and Kevin let me leave without being upset I was leaving the bathroom unusable. On the way out, I left a note on the landlords house saying that the toilet was not working. The concert was fabulous. Heather and I had a blast! Heather was really into the News Boys. "Ratty", Heathers favorite player had a drum set that rotated upside down for his drum solo. I got my picture taken with John James, the lead singer. We had so much fun! Right before they came on, the crowd seemed to part in front of us. Partly because some obnoxious boys were pushing people. We discovered that if we stayed in front of them, they would just push us up there to the front row. When we got up there, a guy said "hey, how'd you get up here?" We just shrugged our shoulders. He said he'd been sitting there all day long. We got to talking and some where in there, he prophesied to me. He said "your husband is getting saved". I nodded my head. I was believing for that to happen. What I didn't understand was that right then, he was indeed, getting saved.

All by himself, he watched a Gospel Bill Show and prayed the salvation prayer at the end of the show. He said He felt this indescribable feeling and knew that everything had changed. Of course he refused to tell me about this experience. He didn't want to admit that I had been right. When I got home, I was shocked to find that the toilet worked. I told Kevin God must have fixed it. He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. I went back to the landlords house and left another note. "God fixed our toilet" I wrote. The landlord later showed up wondering what kind of tenants he had. "I want to know how God fixed your toilet" he demanded. After checking it out himself, he left, thinking I was a fruitcake.

It wasn't long before Kevin had watched all the Gospel Bill movies in the church. He even started going with me to the church to get more (when the building was empty). I saw him leave some money in the offering plate once. Gospel Bill had taught him about sowing and reaping. Finally I told him "Kevin, all the movies have been watched, you have to start coming to church if your hungry". Another person had also told me that he felt Kevin was getting saved soon. He was the Wednesday Night Speaker. Little did I know, on a Wednesday night about 15 years ago, my husband would come to church with me for the first time ever (as a Christian). That night, he confessed he had gotten saved. I felt like I was walking on air. As for the toilet, well, it never gave us any further difficulties.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Toilet Fixation at My Sister Heather's

Recently, I visited my sister, Heather's house. My sister Heather is perfect in every sense of the word. Well, as perfect as a sister can be anyway. She's sweet, supportive and nice in every way. When we were kids growing up, I called her the "narc" because she always told on me. While I was out carousing, smoking, drinking and running around with my boyfriend, she was playing piano and learning praise and worship, going to church and being an all around obedient girl. She was a straight A student. She was a Spelling Bee champion. She excelled in everything imaginable.

Of course, as a wife and mother she would excel as well, which is why this story is so amusing to me. Heather has 2 adorably perfect children. They are sweet, smart and close to graduating from college at ages 2 and 3. Heather lives in a really ultra organized basement apartment. She even has a perfectly nice landlord who lives on top of her house. Heather's house is always sanitized and clean. Once, she wiped all my living room furniture down with sanitizing cloths.

In the middle of the night, up a mountain in the wilderness, in our home, our adventure began. Kevin didn't sleep well and decided that we should leave a little earlier than we'd planned - 3 am. We began the 26 hour trek to Minnesota. Despite pulling some unmotivated teenagers out of a ditch and driving on ice for a good part of the way, we made fairly decent time. The kids became rowdy at hour 24. They all took off their socks and shoes and began tormenting each other with the raunchy smell of their own feet. When we got within a few hours of Heather's home, she presented us with an odd request. "Please use the bathroom at the gas station". I've always known Heather to be tidy, but not using her bathroom, well that's eccentric altogether. Remember, I have 5 children and a husband. Not occupying the bathroom for more than 5 minutes is a feat. Her excuse for this gas station bathroom trip was that they were having septic problems. At the gas station near Heather's home, we found out it, too, was closed. I secretly wondered if she called and warned them we were coming. "Wow", I mused to myself, "no one here in Minnesota has an available bathroom". I wondered if it had been a conspiracy. The gas station man did let us use his showers for the bathroom, and after attempting to sell us many of his wares, we were on our way.

When we got to Heathers, it was around 3am. Heather promised a man would be coming first thing in the am to look at her bathroom. The plot had thickened. Heather showed us a secret alarm in her closet (which she later informed us was a utility room). She said if the green light was on we had the "thumbs up to flush". Just consult the panel, no problem. Of course having a secret toilet panel in your closet is very unusual and caused my imagination to run with no end in sight. As you all know, Heather is married to a secret Ninja. Perhaps his secret missions had to do with that toilet alarm panel. Heather informed us not to panic if the toilet light alarmed. She showed us how to "silence" it.

In the morning after a few hours of sleep, I REALLY had to go to the bathroom. I couldn't find my PJ's, so I had just thrown on some long under ware to sleep in. As I groggily progressed to the bathroom, Heather stopped me. "There's a man in my closet" she informed me. I turned around and plodded my way back to my room to get dressed. After finally finding some clothes, I progressed to the bathroom. "Wait" she said "let's ask the man permission". After we secured permission from the man, I progressed to empty my bladder. I wondered if I could flush. We again consulted the man in her closet. The man said "yes" we may flush. I felt a little awkward about consulting a strange man to preform bodily functions. I secretly wondered if he was tied into the ninja lifestyle or if maybe it was just Heathers ultra organized personality.

Later the landlord made a short appearance and consumed 2 of the huckleberry (hope for the best) whole grain muffins I offered him. He, too, disappeared into my sisters closet. A little boy followed suit. Strangely, as my bowels thought they might explode, an entire group of men inhabited Heathers secret panel closet. They carried boxes in and out. I thought I may have seen a throwing star protruding from the new pump box. They complained loudly about the smell emerging from Heathers closet. They made strange sounds. I began to wonder if an entire ninja convention would assemble in Heather's closet. Heather just kept on insisting "its not a closet, it's a storage utility room". "Don't tell people there are men in my closet". I tried to photograph Heather's toilet but she wouldn't let me. She assured me that she didn't want to remember this for posterity.

Later the men encouraged us to shower and flush the toilet. This again was a very unique experience. I would have thought more about the subject of strange men encouraging me to use the toilet and shower, but my bowels prohibited it.

At last we were free to visit and I was able to enjoy my favorite pass time, shopping. Heather is a short drive from great shopping. Heather had gotten a perfect fish tank for her girls for Christmas. The tank has symmetrical colors of gravel equally divided. There is a cave and a plant and also a flower evenly spaced in the tank. She has 2 perfectly shaped goldfish swimming happily in the tank. If ever there was a perfect aquarium, Heather would have it. A happy water fall filter trickles water making the aquarium sing in perfect harmony. I would need to upset this perfect harmony with none other than a "poop fish."

After the fighting a throng of people at Wal-mart to the pet section, I asked the man at the pet section if he had any "scum suckers". He said he did. Just then an odd looking woman asked me to move. I went to the Christmas section. The same odd looking woman asked me to move there as well. I went back to the pet section suspecting my sister may have hired a private investigator to trail me. I thought about asking her if she knew any ninjas, but thought better of it. I then went back to the pet department and purchased the "poop fish". After spending 3 hours in a mob of Wal-mart shoppers, I and the poop fish made our way back to Heathers home.

When I surprised Heather with the poop fish, she was just that, surprised. She feared the poop fish upsetting the perfect harmony of her aquarium. After all, the poop fish doesn't really swim much. He just lays around and eats poop. You never know where you'll see him. Sometimes stuck on the side of the glass. Sometimes he's hiding in the cave. Sometimes he's sitting on a plant. The thing the poop fish never does is swim and look pretty like the gold fish. He's always laying around doing nothing but eating poop. This suited Heathers tank well (in my mind).

Really, we all had a wonderful time at Heather's house. She made lovely meals for us. We had fun together bringing in the New Year. I immensely enjoyed her kids, husband, and even her newly acquired "poop fish". Kardelen named all three of the fish "Zoe" after the landlords dog. It was great spending some time with my sister. Maybe next time there won't be any men in her closet.