Thursday, November 19, 2009

Please State Your Emergency...

Last week, Joel was working late so Brady and I were home alone. He was being a crab this particular evening, so against my better judgment, I let him play with our phone. The beeps of the buttons seemed to please him for a few minutes, and I was just glad something was distracting him. The kid is really into phones right now – so there he was, just wandering around, pushing buttons and holding it to his ear…

After I was able to pry the phone away from Brady and in the midst of feeding him supper, I heard a knock at our door. Then the doorbell rang. Now, about twelve different scenarios ran through my head as I stood to go to the door. It was probably a neighbor. Or maybe my parents….but they always call. It could be a motorist with a broken down vehicle – but that was unlikely. If you know where our new house is located, you know there is NO traffic whatsoever that would lead to a motorist knocking on my front door. Then the “mom” instinct kicked in as I rounded the corner….it’s probably fine, but what if it’s some weirdo? Do I answer the door? I don’t want to be paranoid, but it’s better safe than sorry….I have a son to think about, and Joel isn’t home. It’s dark with no street lights, and we are surrounded by woods. My mind flashed to the garage and I reassured myself the door was down.

I could see the person at the door was a man dressed all in black with a flashlight. My “mom” instinct cranked up a notch. I got closer to the door but had resolved I wouldn’t open it until I was sure it was safe and I recognized the person outside. But as I got closer, I saw a shiny flash on this man’s shirt: it was a badge. I quickly saw it was a police officer at the door and I again started racing through the thoughts: was Joel hurt? Did someone call the cops on us? Brady was screaming loudly earlier – perhaps they thought it was domestic disturbance? But then again, we are pretty remote so the chance of anyone hearing his screams was minimal…

I opened the door and the officer greeted me politely and asked if someone had called 9-1-1. I was puzzled and said no, definitely not (you can imagine where this is going by now…). Then my eyes got really big as I realized what must have happened. I told the officer, “Oh my gosh, my 1-year-old son had the phone earlier…he must have managed to dial 9-1-1!” He was a very nice young man and simply said as long as everyone was ok, it wasn’t a big deal. I said good night, closed the door, and walked back to my son, who was quiet during this whole incident and who was now smiling mischievously in his high chair, as if he knew what he’d just done and was thinking, “Ha ha, gotcha mom!”

They always say not to let kids play with phones: they could accidentally call someone, even 9-1-1! I never thought Brady would actually manage to accomplish that task, but this certainly reminded me of one thing: never underestimate the abilities of a curious toddler.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad

I have been trying to eat healthier lately; I suppose to counteract the hundreds of extra calories I will be consuming this holiday season, no doubt! Anyway, I concocted a perfect salad that was so delicious, I made it three days in a row! It’s super simple, healthy, and really satisfying. It’s as good as any $12 restaurant salad, that’s for sure! So I thought I’d share my “recipe” with you – Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Lettuce (I use darker greens, like romaine or red leaf)
Chopped Walnuts (HyVee sells them in little convenient packets)
Dried cranberries (Craisins work well – for a cheaper option, try raisins like I did)
Kraft Light Raspberry Vinaigrette (AMAZING!)
Chicken (you can cook and cube your own chicken, or I used Kirkland’s pre-cooked grilled chicken breast strips. Not as economical, but REALLY convenient!)

Optional:
Red onion slices
Tomato slices
Chopped celery
Croutons
Cheese (blue cheese or feta crumbles would be awesome!)

If you are preparing this to take to work, I would get your lettuce washed and chicken cooked the night before. I put a portion of lettuce in a Tupperware container and added my cubed chicken, then placed it in the fridge. I also put a small box of raisins and the bag of walnuts in the fridge, so I don’t forget them :) I also put some salad dressing in a really small container in the fridge. Then at work, I open the Tupperware, add the walnuts, dressing, and raisins, snap the lid back on, shake it a few times, and voila! A perfectly delicious and healthy salad in seconds. I save about half of the box of raisins for a mid-afternoon “snack”. One walnut packet gave me three full salads – and I didn’t skimp. It has protein, good fat, vegetables, fruits, and very little carbs. It's nothing magical, but this is definitely one salad I will be repeating over and over!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Random Thoughts

I don't usually read e-mail forwards, but this one had some great random thoughts. I found myself thinking, "YES, that's exactly right" to most if not all of these. Note #'s 1, 3, 9, & 11. 

Enjoy!

1. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

2. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

3. MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

4. There is a great need for sarcasm font.

5. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

6. How are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

7. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in. (JOEL)

8. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

9. Was learning cursive really necessary?

10. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this ever.

11. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

12. While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it....thanks Mario Kart.

13. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

14. I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.

15. Bad decisions make good stories.

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Almond-less Joy


I went to Hy-Vee for groceries the other day and picked up a couple bags of post-Halloween candy that were on sale. I took out an Almond Joy to eat it  and looked at the wrapper. It says "milk chocolate, coconut, and almonds". Almonds - plural. And it pictures two almonds. Yet when I open my candy bars, there is only one almond per bar. I grumbled to Joel that I thought it was false advertising to claim that the candy bar contains almonds when, in fact, it only contains one.

So I proceeded to open my "almond joy", and what do I discover? NO almond! The almond was left off of my almond joy. I didn't even get one almond on mine! I exclaimed, "You have got to be kidding me!" I wonder if a Mound (the almond-less version of almond joy) somehow snuck into the wrong wrapper? I wonder if the machine somehow missed placing the almond on mine and somewhere someone else is enjoying two almonds on their candy?


I felt like something had been taken from me that I was owed. I felt injustice. I bought an Almond Joy and fully expected to receive at least ONE almond on my candy bar. I must be vindicated!

Then I paused. How many times in life are we "owed" something that we don't get? Life isn't fair, God even tells us that we will face hardships this side of heaven. I thought it was ironic that right as I was telling Joel how the candy bars only have one almond, even though the wrapper indicates otherwise, I opened the almond-less joy from my package. I think it was God's way of reminding me not to complain about the little things in life (the arguably false advertising of Almond Joy) because it could always be worse (no almond at all). And while I did miss the nutty crunch of the almond on my candy bar, this incident now makes me appreciate each and every time I do get one little nut on my candy bar. In fact, I experience a little bout of happiness and excitement when I see that almond now.

What do you think you are owed in life that you really don't need? A new car, a raise or promotion, a 'thank you' from a friend or family member? How do you react when you don't get those things that you deserve? And what would it take to be happy with the basics, to be happy with one almond instead of complaining about not having two? Would it take you losing your job, not having a car at all, or having no one in your life to do nice things for? It's so easy to forget how blessed we all are. And the truth is, without the proper perspective, an abundance of almonds wouldn't make us happy; we could have all the almonds we please, and then we'd probably start complaining that there are too many. We have to take a step back and remember God will give us exactly what we need and deserve. And with that perspective, you will suddenly find contentment, happiness, and even excitement in what the world tells us are the things we are owed: the ability to purchase and drive a car, having a job at all, and being close enough in proximity and relationally to do nice things for a friend or family, even if they go un-thanked.

But I have to say, I sure hope the rest of my package has all its almonds!

FOLLOWUP: So I found this online and thought it was too great to share. I am not alone in my feelings about the marketing of Almond Joy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birthday Boy


Happy birthday to my sweet little boy! He turned one on the 7th – where did THAT year go? During an unseasonably warm weekend, we enjoyed grilling out at our new house with family, playing yard games in 70+ degree weather, and hosting some friends in the evening for a movie.

As I got ready for church the following morning, I was holding Brady in the shower. I know I won’t be able to do it for much longer, but it’s easier and Brady prefers showers with mom over baths, so that’s usually how I bathe him. Anyway, his little feet were cold from being sockless on our kitchen floor. I cradled him in the shower, the warm water on his little toes. Normally he would squirm around after a few seconds, but this particular morning, he was totally content to just lie in my arms and stare up at me. No squirming, no poking at my eyes or mouth, not even a smile. It eerily reminded me of the first moment I got to hold him after he was born; how he just stared at me without expression, but grasped my hand so tightly and wouldn’t let go. That was the moment I knew he would have my heart forever. Now I looked at this 20+ pound little boy in my arms, with a personality, with likes and dislikes, with the ability to communicate.

I really don’t know where the last year went. But I’m trying to slow down and appreciate the little moments with him, so that they don’t go by so quickly, and so I don’t forget. Like this morning – it took probably 20 minutes just to dress Brady because he would not let go of my neck. He just wanted to hug me and if he even thought I was considering pulling away, he would tighten his grasp around my neck, bury his face in mine, and wrap his legs around me. Those are the moments I live for as a mom – knowing that there is nowhere else and with no one else my baby would rather be.

I’ve learned a lot this year: I don’t get very much done when Brady and I are home; I need more patience; I didn’t know I could love a child this much; and so much more. And while I am very excited by every stage, every milestone that he reaches, I am deeply saddened when I realize I will never get those moments back. No matter how many children I have, Brady, my firstborn, will never be “fill-in-the-blank” age again. So I resolve this year to let the little things go – if I am five minutes late for work because my son wants his mommy to hug him, that’s just the way it’s going to be.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Techno-Purge

I am living like a caveperson. Our new house is about two miles from the largest shopping center in Iowa, arguably one of the ritziest, richest areas in the state. Now we are talking about Iowa here, not Beverly Hills, but still…I find it very difficult to comprehend that I am within walking distance of buying anything, ANYTHING I might want or need, yet can I make a simple call on my cell phone? No. Can I flip on the TV to watch the evening news? Nope. While we used to be smart consumers who hunted for the best deals on these services, we have been reduced to settling for whoever can actually provide to us the services we need.

I can’t remember the last time I went days without the television on. Or without a cell phone to distract me. While I will be glad to get all of this ironed out, part of me is glad to know that I can still exist apart from the technology that infests every second of our lives…and I survived!

On a brighter note, it was the easiest phone call ever to cancel our Mediacom service...instead of the usual bout of questions and relentless attempts to salvage your business, we simply said we were moving to a location where Mediacom wasn’t offered. Can’t really argue with that one…
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