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Disciplining Snooki

June 12, 2012

I was so encouraged Friday, at a dinner for my friend Laura’s birthday when I got excellent feedback on my blog. Excellent feedback meaning people told me they loved it, they read it, they laughed and cried. Man was that amazing to me. I would love to say that I’m just writing because I want to help people, change lives, etc. But it’s mostly for me. I want to bare my soul to those people and have them love it, love me. I really do need the accolades, the encouragement and the compliments. There are many things I think I am good at, however very few of those things that actually matter in this world. I don’t make money, I’m not particularly good at organization or budgeting or discipline, I don’t have a profession right now. I’m a mother, a wife, a friend, basically what I am is nothing I was ever taught to value. Simply a person, with no apparent accomplishments. I am good at throwing parties, going out with friends and writing. I should have been on Jersey Shore, doesn’t Snooki have a book?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’m trying to figure out how to learn to discipline myself, something I am not good at. I am an extremely emotional person, which is a double edged sword, I can be very compassionate and loving, and also and more often times, very stupid. In the last ten years I have learned not to be so subject to my feelings, because only a handful of them are the truth. I’ve learned and am practicing checking my feelings against God’s word, and making sure the feelings I let in are beneficial  ones.  This is really difficult.  For example, I really feel like I need a new ________ but the truth is I can’t afford it. Should I pay attention to my feelings, or the truth? I feel sad so I need to eat__________ but the truth is I don’t want to get diabetes. I feel angry so I need to scream ______________ but the truth is that will only make things worse. I feel tired so I need to_______________ but the truth is I need to take care of business before I rest.

Growing up, and even into adulthood I really thought there was something wrong with me. The people who are closest to me who have accomplished quite a lot like my husband, mother, my sister, and my grandfather are very internally motivated people. They are fueled by the desire to do simply for the satisfaction of getting it done. They want to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. They did the “right” thing before they were Christians because they have “morals”. I however am NOT like that. I need a reason. This really drove everybody crazy in my family. I could never put my self into something unless I have a reward. It’s why morally, I did a lot of reprehensible things when I wasn’t a Christ follower, because there was no reason to do otherwise. My parents told me not to do certain things, and I most certainly did exactly what I wanted to do which often times didn’t line up with what I was supposed to do. What was the reward for listening to what other people said? It wasn’t until I began really getting into God’s word that I began to understand the why and change my behavior. Loving God because he first loved me turned out to be a very good reason for changing. Because my mom said so was not.

My reward for a lot of the “good” behavior I do now is a closeness with God, to walk in the darkness that comes with doing what I know to be wrong is a lonely and sad place for me to be so I choose more often than not to not face that consequence. Armed with that knowledge, I am really learning the best ways to discipline myself. There is something that Joyce Meyer says, “You have to plan your pain, and your pleasure” If you only plan your pleasure, and do things that feel good in the moment, you are going to have a lot of pain that you weren’t planning on. So, now I am learning to plan my pain of not having the entire 1600 calorie Whatameal so I can have the pleasure of losing my baby weight finally. But, losing the baby weight is such a far off and intangible reward and that Whatameal can be had in the next twenty minutes. For an externally motivated person, that is far too long to wait and very easy to give up on. I need a reward very soon after I do something right. The problem with this happens when being an emotional and undisciplined person, you reward yourself all the time. You end up rewarding yourself with a nap, a sundae, a lounge on the couch,  not cleaning the house, and not exercising and buying a bunch of crap you don’t need but feel like you want.

I will tell you where that thinking gets you. Nowhere. It leads to being depressed, unfulfilled and ashamed of who you are and what you’ve done. This is not what God wants for his child that he’s put so much thought, care, talent and love into. Discipline is a fruit of the spirit. After realizing that all my feelings were getting me nowhere fast I understood that the biggest thing I needed to do was to make myself pay for everything. That means if I want something I have to do something to get it. If I want a book off Amazon, I have to make a sacrifice, I have to make sure it’s in the budget, and make sure I’ve done something to earn it. A lot of my conversations with my husband lately have been, “If I clean the entire downstairs tonight can I go to the movies and have a margarita?”  and “If I work out every day this week I am going to buy some throw pillows for my prayer room.” Not because I’m from the 1800s and I need to ask my husband permission for everything, just because I need acknowledgement, accountability and motivation.

This has been a phenomenal tool in changing my lifestyle. Every week for the last month, I have made a date with myself on Sunday evening at Barnes and Noble to plan my goals and rewards for the week. This meeting is a reward in itself, I get great time alone and maybe a  treat (if it’s in the calorie and money budget). I sit down with the notes section of my iphone, my fitness pal app and a calendar and plot out my goals, my rewards and assess how the last week went. Some of my weekly goals have been walking the dog everyday, not eating out, meal planning, playing raquetball for an hour, cleaning the kitchen everyday, praying daily, waking up at 5:30, etc. Some of my rewards have been a movie, a book from barnes and noble, a sonic drink, a new rug and an armband for my iphone. I have monthly rewards too, bigger ones, like signing up for a 5k, getting a massage, buying a new vacuum. Truly, I set some pretty high standards, and oftentimes I don’t meet all the goals that I have, but I honestly assess my week, my effort and my accomplishments and reward myself accordingly.

I really wanted to share this method with you, because I don’t know how many people are like me and really need a REASON to do good, before they do it. I always wanted to be like my family members and just have it in me, but that’s just not the cloth I was cut from. Maybe someday I will look back on this flaw in my persona and see some value in it, but for now, I am just going to learn to deal with it and stop strong arming myself into wanting to do the right thing for the right thing’s sake. By the way, if I blog three times this week I get to buy a new app for my phone, so…

Put this one in the books, I’ve got two more to go.

Into the Mind of a Serial Killer

June 2, 2012

I’m not really a serial killer. I’m not even a cereal killer, ironically I won’t touch the stuff since I found out how bad for you it really is. But sometimes I feel a Dexter-like complexity to my relationship with food. Amazing how much of my mind it can occupy when I really want it to. Most of the time I feel like people are just like me, like I know what happens behind closed doors. I really thought I had their number until I got married and my husband found out all my weird quirks and was like, “That’s all YOU baby!” and “That’s disgusting.” and “Oh my goodness. What have I done. Who did I marry?” And I’m like, you really don’t like that smell?

You’re in for a treat my friend, I’m going to let you into the mind of an emotional eater. Not a poor, huge, 800lb person in Houston who needs cranes to go to the hospital and eats entire buckets of chicken as a snack. Just someone who really wants cake. When they feel bad. Or jubilant. Or, well. Anything.

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Yesterday, was a rough day. One of those days when you are already teetering on the edge with your emotions, then the air conditioner breaks down and it’s going to be $425 to fix it. You are talking to a loved one and they confess to having suicidal thoughts. Your son is practicing to be the next Evil Knievel and you have a horrible scare. And a bunch of other anxieties that are still unresolved are just heaped upon all of that.

It’s funny, but I saw a delicious lemon cake a friend posted on Facebook, and it’s all I could think about. Mmm… Cake. Lemon cake. With frosting? No, gently flavored whipped cream. Coarse textured, dense Meyer lemon cake with a slightly crusty top, a drizzle of lemony icing and a big dollop of real whipped cream. Funny how far away your problems feel when you begin fantasizing about lemon cake. Maybe with lemonheads crushed and sprinkled on top?

Seriously, the thought of that cake got me through the day. As a believer in Christ, you would think it might be Him. The almighty God tells me to “cast my cares” and to take His yoke upon me because His “yoke is easy and his burden is light”. When something big happens, like I think I might have to take my son to the hospital, I do say a quick prayer. I do think about God, and ask him to help me. And then I forget it. I cast my care into that phantom piece of fluffy lemoncello cream torte from the Cheesecake Factory that I had that one time that was almost worth the seven dollars and 1200 calories. I don’t think that’s what God has in mind.

I believe that in that time, he wants to strengthen us. Tell us exactly what we’re supposed to do. Guide us so that we follow him, completely. He doesn’t just want to help us forget, he wants to make us better. It’s me who wants to settle for forgetting. I think some people do it with television, video games, sports, and of course, drugs and alcohol. Anything to dull that ache in your soul that empty feeling that you were meant for better than this.

It’s my life goal to grow beyond distractions. Some people have these lofty career and flashy money goals, but I truly just want to be able to get through the day without wanting to placate my nagging spirit with distractions, and just give into the loving God that pursues me. And rest. God, I want to rest. Can you for one minute, whether you believe in God or not, can you just IMAGINE resting your head on the shoulder of a loving person. Not just that though, someone who has the power and the majesty to make it all better and the overwhelming love to see every single stupid, weird, horrible and disgusting thing you’ve ever done and still want to hold you in their arms? Sometimes I think about that and it doesn’t make me want to rest, it makes me anxious to remember all the stupid, weird, horrible and disgusting things I’ve done and I’m really too ashamed to give them up. I’d rather eat cake.

So yesterday, I thought about lemon cake all day like a pregnant chick, but with no excuse. Then I decided rather than be an idiot and undo all my hard work I would just look like one at Zumba class. So I did, then I went on a walk with a friend. And I felt so proud.

Fast forward to today. My anxieties resurfaced due to very emotionally taxing circumstances. I leave my house crying in search of something. It was funny. I ended up at Braums. I saw the sign outside the drive through and it was like “New Flavors, Imagine all the wonderful things you love to eat, in ICE CREAM form”.  I was like a kid. The tears stopped flowing, I stopped sniffling and I seriously weighed and thought out each of the flavors. Caramel Cookie dough? Chocolate-iced cupcake? Pineapple upside-down cake? I mean come on. It’s ice cream. I ask for advice from the girl in the window. I check my satisfaction spreadsheets and decide for this particular sad day I am leaning more chocolate rather than fruit and take the young ladies advice with the chocolate iced cupcake.

I got a single scoop cone. I had a few bites. I didn’t really care for the flavor. It made me sad. All that work and I got the wrong flavor. Woe unto me! Normally I would suck it up, take one for the team and eat it. But me and my Zumba-ing self decided that it really wasn’t worth a whole freakin hour of cardio to waste a dollar thirty five. So if you were exiting I-30 and saw a sugar cone fly out the passenger window at high speed. It was me. And if you were impressed by my throwing arm, I’ll tell you it’s probably because I’ve been working out.

A Tale of Bacon and French Fries and Sadness

May 31, 2012

It was probably somewhere around the four year mark in our marriage when I finally believed my husband wouldn’t get tired of me and leave me. I did a lot of testing before then, to see what would drive him away. He’s one of the only people in the world I do trust completely, I know he would never leave me willingly. There is a deep rooted sense of rejection inside that causes me to shut down the connection with someone when I find out they’re leaving. It’s not from God, I know this. It’s a sad, selfish, joyless self-preservation mechanism that has caused me to miss out on so many deep relationships, because I don’t want to be crushed like I have in the past.

It’s been especially difficult being a part of the church that I love, because so many of the wonderful people I come across have been and will be called into long term missions across the country and overseas. I am not a person who is very good at goodbyes. I am also not terribly good at keeping in contact. I don’t email, write letters, send pictures, or care packages. I may call occasionally, and text and facebook, and sometimes Amazon, but it’s not like a flesh to flesh relationship. It’s strange that I am this way, because I do often think of, pray for, and love people who are far away more than they could ever imagine. I also feel these deep emotional connections to these people. I think I don’t like to imagine these people in their new lives, without me. I prefer to keep them in a closet of sorts where I can think of the times we had fondly and imagine that they never left.

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Whatever, I tell you this because it sucks. I hate people moving away. I hate people leaving. It makes me want to cry and eat all day. And eat and cry all day. So far I have been very successful at staying under my calorie limit and trying to work through my emotions instead of joining them at Sonic, where they live deep inside rootbeer floats. My sister is coming to say goodbye tomorrow before she drives up to Seattle to live. I am having a very hard time of it.

There is a mourning process that is happening. I have to let go of my expectations of how our lives would intertwine and just be happy for her and let go. It’s so hard. She’s my sister. If I could I would follow her to the end of the earth. She’s been the only other person in my life that I completely trust, so it’s hard to be happy for her when I am so sad for me. Anyway, I talked to her yesterday on the phone and immediately drove to Whataburger without even thinking. I would love to give you a tale of victory and triumph, but it’s more a tale of bacon and french fries and sadness. That’s just where I am right now. I did count my calories of mourning at least and figure out that an extra step class will take care of them, and only ate about half.

If I was a real food blogger, I would give you some wonderful whole-food comfort food recipe for the blues with some sweet-styled food pics. Alas, there’s only me and I have ten minutes till the baby wakes up and I have to vacuum the house. So I’ll leave you with this song in my head, and the advice that if you want to see comfort food pictures google gelato. Hope you are having a better day.

Working Stuff Out

May 29, 2012

So for the last few weeks, I’ve been working through some emotional stuff I’m going through at the gym. It’s a lot better than working it out with food I know, but I haven’t much wanted to turn myself inside out at the computer, which is what blogging is to me. So I just avoided the process. It’s been pretty cathartic to get mad and sweat. I guess I am figuring out why people do this. Although I have no coordination, no body kin-esthetic intelligence and am relatively new to the exercise medium, I think the mere act of doing has really sparked a flame in me. Doing despite my comfort, despite my embarrassment, despite my pride.

We joined a gym a little over a month and a half ago. For one month and three days I hadn’t even picked up my membership card. There is this fear when you are going to a new place and doing something foreign to you. I am a creature of habit, I love my old stand bys. When I go someplace new to eat, I always look at the menu before online. If I can’t see the menu, I will call and ask about their specials, their WHATEVER. I just have to know something about it. It makes it extremely difficult for my husband to plan dates. He tried to take me to the Macaroni Grill one time and I almost had a panic attack and we ended up at the Olive Garden.

In my younger days, I may have hidden this fact about myself, who doesn’t love to seem worldly and adventurous, after all. But I am now in my thirties, I have people who love me AND know me despite that and being something I’m not seems to have little payoff. Of course, once I have a good experience somewhere, and go back, and get comfortable, I am a most loyal subject. The problem is getting me in the door. When my husband told me after a month that he had gone to get our membership cards for the gym and they tried to charge him for lost cards (who doesn’t pick up their cards after a month?) I knew I was in for it. He told me I’d have to either go, or we were going to cancel. 

So I have gone every single day for the past 17 days. Forcing myself, terrified, kicking and screaming in my head. There’s something to be said about being an adult and finally acknowledging the annoying little quirks that make your life YOUR life. I know that I have to make a habit, I have to be consistent, and I have to take a class. Left to my own devices I will ride a stationary bike for a half hour while surfing the internet or reading a book possibly with cupcakes in my water bottle holders. If I am in a room with a bunch of other people who are sticking it out, I am more apt to stay. I need encouragement and acknowledgement and fellowship and accountability. All of those things you get from a good class.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. It doesn’t much matter to me what class, I’m pretty much awful at everything. So I’ve been taking step, and Zumba, and yoga and water aerobics with a bunch of seventy year olds. It’s actually been really awesome and inspiring, I’ve even made some friends, and started playing raquetball. It’s like the perfect sport for me. It’s indoors, air conditioned, and you play with other people. I’m not somebody who was build for life alone.

I of course have gone after working out with some fervor, because once I’m committed, I’m committed. I have to know EVERYTHING. I’m doing some crazy stuff, like going to the sauna and sweating out all my toxins, then jumping into a freezing cold pool, which has been shown to prevent muscle soreness. I’ve been using self-talk to motivate myself. Like Jack Donaghy, looking at myself in the mirror telling myself I’m an athlete and a champion. I’ve been sleeping regularly and walking more. I’ve set daily, weekly, and monthly goals.

I have logged all my calories, because there’s nothing worse than doing a 60 minute step class and finding out you undid everything with one piece of cake with buttercream icing. If I go to Whataburger, I only have the burger, turning my sixteen hundred calorie meal into a 600 calorie burger, which is still extremely satisfying. We went on a walk as a family on Saturday morning then went home for breakfast, instead of eating out and going home for a nap.

I’ve never really had motivation to change, I’ve never been an active person. My mom likes to tell stories of when I was two years old laying in bed eating and looking at books. I used to call myself Queenie Tennell. My first day of ballet class when I was three, I emerged swarthy and sweaty and crying telling my mom doing ballet made my chubbies hurt. But something happened when I saw my son looking out the window a few months ago. He was watching the neighbor kids ride up and down the block on their bikes and I did not want to go outside. It was hot, and I was tired. So I watched him watch them. And I remembered.

My room faced the street where I grew up. I remembered watching the other little kids, play football with the neighborhood dads, ride their bikes up and down the street, walk together and jump rope and not go inside till it was dark. I didn’t have many friends, I didn’t know how to throw and I didn’t learn to ride a bike till I was twenty one, my dad always worked and my mom didn’t go outside. I had nothing in common with those kids. So I stayed inside and I read everything I could get my hands on.

I think that God definitely used those experiences in me, the feeling of being on the outside looking in, never really belonging anywhere. I think he used that to build compassion and empathy and an easy recognition of those that are marginalized, whether by circumstances or their own fear. It is easier for me to keep my son inside all day, in the air conditioned house. But it’s not better for him. I don’t want him to go through those feelings of always watching, never doing. I want him to run. I want him to be an athlete, I want him to be confident and strong. So he plays in the dirt, and I wash him up. He gets sunscreen slathered on him and I play with him outside. I let him climb and fall and jump and swim and drive his little car. I have a bigger hurdle to get through than someone who grew up in one of those families where the mom and dad ride bikes in the park with the kids following like baby ducklings all in a row. I am going to do it though, because it’s the best thing to do. So, I go to the gym. And look like a fool. At the end of the day, I want my son to be able to ask me to play with him outside and instead of giving him a book, I go with a smile on my face. It’s not just all about me anymore.

 

Believing and Following

May 16, 2012

I love my husband desperately. He is gorgeous, hilarious and almost completely incapable of saying no to me. I suppose it’s my wiley wifey ways, but I pretty much have him right where I want him.

Most of the time.

A few weeks ago however, I went to this essential oils seminar. I was already pretty much sold on the product and the homeopathic uses for them It’s a company called “Young Living” and they sell high quality, no filler oils that may be used for different ailments. I had been researching them for months and after going to Whole Foods to check out their selection, was deterred due to the dilution of the products, and the fact that their essential oils were considered “perfume quality” and not to be taken internally. Which, when you’re trying to use them for homeopathic medicine, if they’re not safe to take internally what’s the point?

Now, I have been reading up on them, talking to others in my crunchy mommy group about them, watching instructional videos on how best to use them. And when the baby had a bad cold about three months ago, I was just ITCHING to get my hands on them. I KNEW they would help, open his nasal passages and fight the ailment from the inside out. I would have been skeptical before, but after seeing my son beat an ear infection and RSV with nothing with a few cloves of garlic and some olive oil, my skepticism was gone. After I experienced the horrendous pain of mastitis, and cured it myself in a single day by expressing my milk and eating 8 cloves of raw garlic,when I was told antibiotics could take three days to offer relief and I may not be able to breastfeed my son, I was in awe. It is just amazing how God gave our bodies the ability to heal themselves. I really needed those oils in my arsenal. I was not going to get them from Whole Foods, nor would it be the absolute best deal to order the one oil individually. I was going to wait till I could get the whole kit. You see, I had it all planned out, if you spent a certain amount you get the free oils, if you buy the membership kit, you get certain things. There was a dollar amount I was going to hit to get my bathroom apothecary off to a great start.

So when I went to that seminar I was armed and ready and knew what I would buy, how much I would spend, and what they were going to do for me. I’m a YL oil distributor now, I believed in the quality so thoroughly and had seen so many testimonials, depressions lifted, cancers cured, mosquito bites healed, asthma gone! I was thrilled and waited with bated breath by my mailbox for those tiny miracle bottles. When my loving and wonderful husband who had NOT been researching, had indeed never even heard of an essential oil, saw that I had spent two hundred and sixty (!) dollars on 18 tiny little bottles of oil he hit the roof. Ech.

Cue the Lucy and Ricardo sequence.

My husband was like, “WOMAN, you better use those oils on EVERYTHING. I don’t want you taking one single pharmaceutical if you really believe those work the way you claim they work!” I’m using them. But honestly, it’s really hard to remember. When you’ve gotten into such a habit of just throwing medication at a problem, or quietly ignoring it, it’s hard to remember to follow the path that you believe will lead to healing.One of the things that the doctor who held the seminar said was they are definitely not going to work if you don’t use them!

That reminds me a lot about Christ. Most of the time, I hear the words “believer” and “follower” used interchangeably to describe what a Christian is. I think that many people are believers, just like me and my oils. They KNOW they’ll work, they’ve seen evidence and testimonials and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that that is the way to healing. However, when the time comes to use it, we revert back to old habits. How many missed and wasted opportunities do these times represent? I am ALWAYS a believer in Christ, however I am a follower only about 70% on a good day, and on a bad day, maybe about 15%. I would really like to up my statistics! How many hours have been wasted watching tv, or griping, or playing on the computer when I could have been listening to the Holy Spirit that lives within me and wants to help me change my ways? I have a feeling that’s what all that weeping is going to be about when we get to heaven and it doesn’t really matter what the Gossip Girl season finale was, but that good thing that I ignored and didn’t do had an eternal impact.

Well, I can tell you a wonderful thing about God, His mercies are new EVERY day, nay every MINUTE. So when I mess up, I can just start over again. So I took a Tylenol for a headache the other day, because I forgot. But two nights ago my husband kept me up all freakin night with his wheezing and clicking, poor thing. His allergies were AWFUL!!! He slept through it, despite not being able to breathe, but I couldn’t. Then, at 3am I remembered! GAH!! MY OILS!!! I mixed two drops of lavender in a tablespoon of honey and woke him up to eat it. He was all bleary and asleep so he just did it, and I rubbed a drop over his sinuses while he slept and voila! No clicking! No wheezing! I was so amazed. I stayed up till 5 just listening to see if it came back. NOTHING. I was so inspired, I had a wonderful day, despite having been up all night. He was also duly impressed.  He worked on our budget last night and put the oils in the “Medical/Pharmaceuticals Category” instead of the “Hobby” where they were going before, and even let me give him drops of the oils before bed last night while he was still conscious.

So the moral of the story is you have to actually do the good thing you know you should do. You have to follow protocol. If you forget, do it the next time. Don’t be frustrated, don’t be sad. Be glad that if you miss that opportunity, there will usually be a new one right on its heels.  My other advice is, don’t buy the oils unless your wonderful loving husband oks it first, otherwise, you got a lot of splainin’ to do, and you will never be as cute as Lucy. If you guys are interested in Young Living and their oils, let me know, I am going to be having an oil seminar in the next month or so and you can ask questions from ladies who know a whole lot more than me!

My Grandparents and Beet Kvass

May 14, 2012

My grandparents are wonderful.  They moved to the east side of town just so they could be close to us when we were kids and gave up their big country club house to live in a new suburb. I remember my grandma making me egg sandwiches in the morning and driving by their house so we could pick them up on our way to school, or hot atole in a jelly jar with a cinnamon stick still in it. My grandma and grandpa’s language of love has always been food. Maybe it’s because my grandpa grew up without much, I remember my grandma saying how she didn’t look at him twice even though she saw him regularly because he was nothing but skin and bones, but when he came back from the Army, big and strong, they fell in love. He has always delighted in watching his family eat. From the littlest to the biggest. They have two refrigerators in their house, and you will never leave without eating something. Even now, as they approach their eighties together, my grandma will still knock one out of the park for a special occasion. One of my greatest joys has been watching them with my son.

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You see, when I got married,I was twenty two and I knew we would wait to have kids. We were young and wanted time to ourselves, wanted to get my husband into a good position as a provider so I could stay home and raise them. I really had no idea how long my grandpa would be in good health. He is a diabetic, has had bouts of cancer, a quadruple bypass, and various other nefarious sounding ailments. I like to tell him he’s like the Terminator, part man part machine, he has had so many different medical procedures. My grandma on the other hand has always taken great care of herself and walks for like three hours a day and has for her whole life. She never bothered to learn how to drive, and if you are in the East side of El Paso, you have probably come across her, a tiny little woman in a giant hat, long sleeves and sunglasses raiding the local McDonalds for Senior coffee and free napkins. She is like part of the scenery. Anyhow, I wondered if my grandpa would ever even get to meet my children as time passed and his health hung in the balance.

I love where we live and think it’s a wonderful place to raise a family. It’s affordable, has wonderful parks, the Texas Rangers, the Cowboys, Six Flags, museums, concerts, we have wonderful friends and a great church family that offers a huge support system. The only reason I would want to go back to El Paso is for my grandparents. I hate that I’m so far away. I was the first grandkid and was really spoiled as such. My mom started working when I got to kinder, so it was my grandma who stayed home with us when we were sick, made us homemade chicken soup and mopped our foreheads. They put a pool in the backyard where we would spend all summer. We would play for hours in my grandma’s closet in all her clothes and high heels. I wrote plays and movies and made my sister and cousin act them out while my grandpa filmed them. I remember gluing cotton balls on my cousin’s face and hair in their bathroom so she could play George Washington in our Fourth of July Pageant, I also remember walking off set in protest when they decided they wanted to play, and I needed disciplined actors.  They were more than grandparents, more like our second set of parents.

I still hold on to the hope that my mom will move out here someday and she can have the kind of relationship that we had with her parents with Ducey Bear, but I wish my grandparents could see my boy every day. Children make my grandpa’s face light up. And Ducey Bear makes everybody’s face light up. So when I go back to the desert, where I grew up, I pretty much just camp out in their house. They tell me stories about my mom and aunt and uncles. About the farm where my grandma grew up, about the one room with an outhouse that was their first apartment, about their huge beautiful wedding, and how my grandpa sold his car and walked to work everyday just so he could buy them a nice home.

Their dedication and sacrifice and love for their family really amazes me. My grandpa wanted to be an engineer when he was young, so he loves that my husband is an engineer. I see how proud he is of the way I feed my family and how much he respects my husband for the hard work and sacrifices he’s made to make sure I stay at home. My grandpa gave up college so he could marry my grandma and start a family. When I asked him one time if he regretted never becoming an engineer, he said he traded four years for fifty. They’ve been married for fifty six years. When I was twenty one I came back and lived in El Paso till I got married. I lived with them, and I could here them awake, chatting away in the middle of the night. My grandpa’s medication wakes him up, and it’s hard to go back to sleep sometimes, so he wakes my grandma up and they talk. Sometimes I wonder, what could you possibly have to say after fifty years? It’s beautiful. They have a beautiful love.

The reason I bring them up, in a food blog, is because every time I go back home, I go back having learned some new weird thing that I’m sure will help my grandpa’s health and I buy all the stuff and teach it to them. Last summer it was Green Smoothies. This last Easter, it was beet kvass and milk kefir. My grandpa has some pretty severe anemia and digestive problems, due to the huge amounts of medication he takes. He even has to take an iron shot every time he goes to the doctor. This is why I really wanted to teach him how to make this stuff. Beet kvass is amazing. It is a lacto-fermented beet drink that was invented in Russia. You can brew Russian Kvass out of many things, most traditionally it was made out of rye bread, and very popular in times of cholera because it was much safer to drink than plain water. You can also make kvass out of raspberries, lemon, etc, but none of those ingredients offer the benefits of beets.

Now, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I hate cleaning out my juicer, so when I found out that you can get the benefits of beets, compounded with the benefits of a lacto-fermented probiotic drink, with none of the awful mess, I was very interested. Beets are a phenom of a food, used in ancient Chinese medicine as a blood tonic for women during and after menstruation and childbirth and for liver detoxifying and cleansing and bowel irregularity, it has even been purported as a detox for heavy metals. Beets supply potassium, folate and manganese, also the wonderful deep color of the beet is produced by betacyanins which have been shown to fight cancer and increase cognitive deficiencies in mice in lab tests.It also is a wonderful plant based source of natural iron. This is a food you WANT to have in your body. In kvass form, the nutrients are especially easily assimilated and you get the double whammy of building beneficial bacteria for gut health. And it is ridiculously easy to make. There is NO reason that this superdrink couldn’t be consumed by everyone in your  family daily to reap its rewards. I personally make my kvass into a smoothie. I make a regular smoothie, but instead of water, I use kvass. For those of you who are familiar with beets, you know that they are very high in natural sugar, which can be a problem for diabetics. However, if you make kvass, since it is lacto-fermented, the process of fermenting basically gets all the bacteria to eat most of the sugar in the beets, so you get all the nutrition, but none of the sugar.

My grandpa who is highly diabetic has been drinking this without blood sugar spikes for a month now. When I talked to my grandma yesterday for mother’s day she told me that he made another batch himself, and has been drinking it daily. She also told me that in the past few weeks, when he has been to the doctor, they have not had to give him his iron shot. The doctor doesn’t know what changed. He said he must be doing really well in his diet, for his blood to be doing so well. My grandma told me they let the doctor think he was eating a lot better, but regular drinking of kvass, and kefir are the only thing he’s changed in his diet. I was elated when she told me this. I can’t believe that he actually made it himself, and saw the benefits! This just made my whole week .When you are able to help someone with their health who has given so much of his life to you, it’s an incredible feeling.

Many people struggle with anemia for years, women who go through menopause are especially deficient. So let me encourage my friends who have moms that are going through the change of life. Learn this simple, useful skill of beet-kvass making and master it. Then pass it onto your family. It could change their life and it could prevent so many health issues in your own. I don’t really care for the taste of it alone, but in a smoothie, or in a Popsicle, it’s very tolerable. My grandpa drinks it straight because he says it makes him feel good that he’s doing something for his health.

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Here’s the recipe, taken straight from “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon. I will have a pictorial sometime soon, and a few recipes that make it very palatable, so stay tuned.

  • 3 medium or 2 large organic beetroot, peeled an chopped up coarsely.
  • 1/4 cup whey (i told my grandpa to pour the whey off of cottage cheese, since he doesn’t use raw milk)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • filtered water

Place beetroot, whey and salt in a 2-quart glass container. Add filtered water to fill the container. Stir well and cover securely. Keep at rooom temperature for 2 days before transferring to refrigerator. You will see “bloom” on top in a few days. It looks like mold, but it’s ok to drink, it’s also ok to strain this off. Once you transfer it to the fridge it will stay good for a long time, like pickles. Also, be sure to save a cup, and the next batch you make you can just add beets and water to the premade kvass to innoculate it, so you don’t need the whey. If you know anyone who is anemic, or has a toxic liver, teach them how to make this life-giving, blood building drink and they will certainly thank you. Any of you have ailing family that you wish you could help with a certain malady? Let me know in the comments, I’m always researching and maybe there is a simple something you could do to help them!

Who’s your Farmer?

May 10, 2012

I have this crunchy hippie t-shirt that I bought at a thrift store and cut the neck out. It says, “Who’s your farmer?” and some farmers market is advertised on the back. I buy Tshirts from thrift stores that make me look like a better person than I am, I also have a habitat for humanity shirt that one may assume means I built houses with them in Colorado, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Anyway, this shirt is like catnip at Whole Foods, seriously, I am past my prime in the hotness department, but when I go to Whole Foods wearing this shirt, I’m a goddess. Also, my being a mom who barely cares helps me get hit on a lot there, because I don’t shower everyday and if I go to a crunchy hippie store they love girls with greasy hair who smell bad and wear off the shoulder farm shirts with bra straps showing. True story.

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People also like to ask me, “Who’s YOUR farmer?” This happened to me a few months ago when I was picking up pizza at Dominos. I was tongue tied….”UH, uh…uh…” Not because I don’t know who my farmer is, but because I was at Dominos. It was like wearing a “Jesus is Lord” t-shirt to an atheist convention and somebody asking who Jesus is and clamming up. What I should have said is, “Regina is my farmer,” She is at Campbells Dairy and I have a picture of her holding my son on a miniature pony on my facebook wall. I think she’s an Aggie, but I love her anyway.”

I had no idea till I started researching nutrition how important things like knowing where the hell your food came from is. You know the saying, you are what you eat? Well, if you are not a vegan, you really are what your food eats. If your food is being pumped full of antibiotics and living in the damn chicken concentration camps that they have now a days, how is that going to be good for your body? Just from a common sense standpoint, that logic that you can feed these animals garbage and get nutrition doesn’t hold up.

This being said, we eat a ton of eggs in this house. My son is no longer allergic to them, and if they are from the farm, eggs are nutritional POWERHOUSES. Seriously, he can eat like half a dozen throughout the day. I hardboil a bunch and will give him two for breakfast with a banana. They are packed full of vitamin D (from the sunshine), beta carotene, vitamin A, omega 3’s and vitamin E. If you are looking for a good food to eat, eat an egg that comes from the farm.

Most of us don’t realize that the store eggs that we eat come from battery henhouses from live chickens that are so cramped they live and die in about 5 square inches with not enough room to ever spread their wings. Their feet are malformed from their long nails standing on a wire floor all day, and their beaks are cut off so they don’t peck one another. They barely move and are basically force fed genetically modified feed and pumped full of antibiotics in the dark for your dining pleasure, producing about one egg a day. It’s unconscionable, and one of the biggest things I am glad I changed. If you go to this website they can give you more information. You can google battery henhouses on youtube if you want to become ill at how these animals are treated.

I do NOT consider myself an animal advocate, but PURELY from a nutritional standpoint as to what I want to put in my childs’ body, battery produced eggs are not on the allowable list. Now, those organic, free range, vegetarian labels are most of the time a bunch of garbage, alot of those labels are not regulated and just a marketing ploy, as in your eggs are “free range” because the six thousand chickens in a barn have a six inch door they are allowed to go in and out of, nevermind that they don’t actually USE the door. The label you want to have on your eggs is “Pastured,” as in the chickens are put out of their pens onto a pasture and then put back up at night to keep them safe from predators.

I pay $3.50 a dozen for my eggs from a farm. I encourage you to do a little research and find a farm near you or a co-op to join. You can also raise your own chickens, my HOA would have a conniption fit, otherwise I would totally throw a few in the back yard. Also the Vegetarian label is nonsensical, because chickens are SUPPOSED to peck the ground to find worms and bugs, that’s what a normal, healthy happy  chicken does to get its protein. So don’t pay any attention to those labels. In a pinch, I do buy the Costco brown eggs, I also pay the same price for them as the ones from the farm, which really pisses me off, because they are far inferior to pastured eggs. Read this article for more info.

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Anyway, let me encourage you, don’t feel bad about what you eat, we are all doing the best we can. Arm yourself with knowledge and maybe it will become as important to you to get things that are raised well that you will vote with your dollar. Knowledge is the first step, we all started somewhere! Now, GO find you a happy chicken!!!