Awaken.

The last few days I’ve been very cranky and complained a lot. I don’t do sick very well. Pneumonia. Acute Bronchitis. Influenza Like Illness – which is just flu’s evil twin. Pressure on my chest. tunny nose. Cough, congestion, etc. This has not been a fun week. However, in the process of realizing just how hateful I was being to everyone around me, I decided to count my blessings.

My husband & I are not perfect, nor is our marriage. Many times we are on vastly different pages when it comes to the kids, depending on the kid. But he is mine & I am his. And mostly he’s tried to take care of me this week. As much I have allowed him to that is. He has yet to master mind reading. 🙂

Our kids are far from perfect, but they are ours. Some days are calmer than others, but each kid is different and has different needs. I’ve been more than a little snappy, but they just keep loving me and telling me they hope I feel better soon. Well, except for when they’re saying I need a nap, which has been so true this week.

We have a roof over our heads, food in our pantry (for as long as it lasts with all of these bottomless pits running around!), beds to sleep in, and dirty laundry which means clothes to wear. We have some of the greatest friends anyone could ask for. Really, our most basic needs have always been met.

The last half of 2014 and most all of 2015 was incredibly rough. 2016 has started out not so great. When looking at all the things that have happened to us, it is so easy to see the negative at every turn. So easy in fact, it makes the positive needle in a haystack impossible. Even worse, it makes it so hard to pray because it has consumed us.

But, you know what? This year will be different. I have plans go make 2016 a phenomenal year. And, I cannot do that wallowing in the regrets, failures, and negatives of 2015.

The biggest blessing happened when I woke up today. I was honestly so scared last night that I wouldn’t wake up. Respiratory issues, however they are diagnosed, are super scary to me. I may have spent 5 hours this morning dealing with doctors, xrays, breathing treatments, and what have you.

But, I woke up.

Not just physically opening my eyes, but spiritually too. God and I had dome serious words. Tears were shed. Seeing the things around me and not taking one ounce for granted. Reminding myself, and God, of His promises to me and mine.

Wake up.
I dare you.

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Quality vs. Quantity.

Quality.

The Christmas card my littlest gave me, and the cards he bought for his class with his own money, because he wanted to.

Snuggled up on the sofa surrounded by warm blankets and laughter of small people.

Taking the extra 2 minutes to just breathe in the crisp morning air as the sun crests the horizon.

A frisky puppy running to and fro unabashedly in the backyard.

Little feet pitter-pattering on the floor at 4am, scared, crawling into Mommy’s bed to keep the monsters at bay.

Not-so-small hands helping in the kitchen, learning to cook and read recipes, and then a face beaming with pride at the end results.

Quantity.

Waiting in line for the latest, newest, most upgraded i-whatever, in the rain for 3 days, just because you gotta have it, even though your current one is only 6 months old and works perfectly.

Begging for something just because your friend has it, coveting what your friend has because it looks cool when they do it, never mind the fact you won’t ever use it.

Having so many clothes you require 2 closets just for yourself, and you keep shopping for more, even though you are very well taken care of.

Buying your child the toys on the “top 10” list of Christmas “must-haves” to keep him busy and out of your way so you can socialize, stare at your phone, or work just a few hours more, and bring in just a few more bucks, at the cost of your child feeling worthless.

Which means more?

Personally, I’ve spent quite a bit of time processing the differences between Quality and Quantity. It began with Facebook. I share a lot of posts, things I like or agree with. Very rarely do I post my own thoughts on a subject, or on what’s going on in life. I don’t want to be that person who likes and shares everything. I actually unfriend people like that, especially if they are constantly negative or there’s language. Why would I want to be someone I don’t like? And then I started looking at real life situations.

It boils down to this. 

I want my kids to remember my face, not the top of my head. I want them to know how proud I am of them and how happy they make me. I want them to have memories that involve me and not just what I’ve bought for them. I want them to experience life and not just let life pass by. This means more to me than getting them the newest gadget. I want to instill a love of life and travel and dreams! Oh, I want them to dream and believe they can do anything. I am their biggest cheerleader and I want them to remember that I always believed in them.

No matter what.

I want my legacy to them to be one that is positive, encouraging, strong, hardworking, dreaming, and believing.

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35

It creeps up every year. I know it’s coming and sometimes there’s excitement. Other times I try to avoid it like the plague. But it’s there. Just as steady as the sunrises and sets every day whether I am ready for it or not. I always get a little excited and normally begin counting the days, obnoxiously enough that my family will not dare forget. This year is different.

The latter half of this year has been a very introspective time for me. We’ve hit milestones I never expected to hit (the one year mark of my husband’s injury and consequently the one year mark of his being off work). We’ve hit stress points in our marriage and family that I didn’t know existed. I almost let the weight of the last year crush me completely.

Almost.

Last fall, I experienced severe chest pain and landed in the ER with what turned out to be a gallbladder attack. Four days and one surgery later I was discharged from the hospital. One thought was consistent, “I have to lose weight. I have to get healthy.” I started out with a nutrition program, and a work out program, and lots of good intentions. But I wasn’t ready. Not really.

I’ve spent the last year as a flounder. Floundering at exercise. Floundering at nutrition. Floundering at work. Failing to realize that these are choices I made. Decisions made with purpose to take care of myself and my family and I have failed.

Fast forward a year, and I’m finally ready. Someone commented how soon I will be halfway to dead. I guess this person assumes every dies, or should die, at 70 years old. I’m not ready to die, not even remotely close to it. I’ve spent the last few years taking care of everyone, but me.

This is my year.

It’s about me this year. And no, I don’t feel that is selfish at all whatsoever. Moms in general have this misconception that everyone else should come first, to the detriment of ourselves. Taking care of me, putting my needs first, will ensure that I am at my best to take care of my family.

35.

I may not be halfway to dead exactly, but I know that I’m not to old to fix what’s wrong. I’m taking the bull by the horns and putting this year on it’s back, before it tries to take me out. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, so they say, and I plan to rise above any and all adversity.

Taking myself back.

Not selfish at all.

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It’s been a while. . . .

I always hated History and Government. In high school, my teachers would make us memorize lists upon lists of dates and places, all of which I’ve since forgotten. During my first go-round of college, I avoided History and anything related as if it was the Plague. I mean, who wants to pay for such a class. To be fair, I have several good friends who were History majors. they’re the ones who enjoyed memorizing dates, and who understood what those dates represented. History is about so much more than dates or words on paper.

History is about people.

My second, and much more successful attempt, at college introduced me to an instructor whose passion was History. He made me love it. He made the people from our book come to life with letters from soldiers of wars long past. He brought mementos from veterans who no longer no what day it is, but who can recount every move made in Vietnam or Korea. He brought History to life.

Over the last few years I have lost three family members. Those deaths made me realize that I don’t know my own History. This week alone there have been three deaths directly and indirectly affecting me. They’re lives, and consequent deaths, inspire me and make me want to be a better person. They also remind me that I am still no closer to knowing my own History or where I come from than I was three years ago.

We live really far away from my family. We moved nearly one thousand miles away over twenty years ago. On one hand, I am really grateful for the life I have lived. My parents made sure I knew right from wrong. They encouraged me at every turn, and discouraged where I could make monumental mistakes. I still made mistakes, for sure, but I was allowed to make my own path. That path rarely collided with family.

Even now, I feel like I live in a bubble of sorts.

I have my kids, my own family, my own little world to take care of. I don’t often get the chance to think about anything or anyone else, much less do something about it. But, in light of these deaths, I find myself questioning the legacy I am leaving my own children. They know right from wrong. They are allowed to make mistakes. They are children who go to church and believe in God. But, do they know the why behind who we are?

This is my struggle.

I don’t know my own legacy. How can I pass what I don’t know down to my children? I don’t know my dad’s family. I know the general area of where he was born and raised. I know he’s the next to youngest of thirteen (!). I don’t remember his parents, but I have pictures of me and my brother as toddlers hanging out with them. I know my mom’s family. They make it a point to get together anytime we trek the thousand miles home. But, my grandparents are the glue that holds them together. What happens when they are no longer here? When there’s no reason for each family to make it a point to leave their own worlds in order to get together? What then?

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 280 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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{Fried | Foods}

“You want me to do what? I don’t know how to cook!”

Famous last words, right?

For so many years I cooked only the things I knew for sure my boys would eat. Our menu regularly consisted of hot dogs, mac & cheese, and french fries, along with a plethora of other kid-friendly food. Yes, I promise there were veggies and fruits involved, but I still only stuck to what I knew they liked.

Then I started dating my now hubby, and taking care of his youngest kiddo after school. I went from cooking only for my boys and myself to cooking for five and sometimes six people. I realized quickly that I needed to make some real progress in the kitchen.

Fortunately, growing up in the south, I have spent my whole life surrounded by people who know how to not only cook, but cook phenomenally well. My mom makes the best fried chicken and homemade pizza. My dad makes the world’s best chili. One of my aunts was a cook on a barge and can make the most amazing homemade pies from scratch.

Also fortunate, is that some of their skills have rubbed off on me. 

So, on that note, I am {by request from one of my most favorite people ever!} sharing my favorite fried foods recipe.

So, to begin with, it doesn’t matter what kind of meat you use. I have used this with chicken, deer, and roast. Each time, it is met with raves by my children. In fact, they tend to get excited at just the mention of my frying anything, especially deer.

Step one: Pick your meat.

Tonight I opted to use a rump roast. My hubby had this idea of thawing it, cutting it into smaller pieces, and then tenderizing it with one of those little hammer things. After he tenderized it, he added some seasonings and let it marinate in {un}frozen orange juice concentrate in the fridge for a few {3-4} hours.

20140523_175540

Rump Roast. Already cut, tenderized, seasoned, & marinated.

Step two: Get ready.

I am very blessed to have a husband {and son} who did my early prep-work for me so I could get some other stuff done around the house. Seriously, if you have kids and the meat you are planning to cook needs to be tenderized, hand that little hammer to a kid and let him or her just have at it!

My getting ready to make fried anything involves getting out my dishes and spices. First and foremost, a cast iron skillet and 100% Canola oil. The type of oil doesn’t overly matter either, we just prefer the taste of Canola.

I then get out two small-sized Tupperware type containers, without the lids. In one container I add 4-6 eggs and anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 of milk. Using a fork, I beat the mixture until it’s a creamy yellow color.

Eggs.

Eggs.

 

Eggs & Milk.

Eggs & Milk.

 

 

 

 

 

In the second bowl, I add flour, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, What’s This?, salt, and pepper and then, using a fork I stir it up well enough that it almost looks like it’s just flour still. On the salt, sometimes it’s garlic salt, sometimes it’s regular, but it’s always Sea Salt. I just prefer the taste of sea salt over any other.

Flour & Seasonings.

Flour & Seasonings.

Finally, I fill my cast iron skillet about halfway with the oil and turn on the burner to high so that it starts warming up while I get to battering.

Step Three: Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Okay. I realize we’re not talking about shampoo but battering is a similar concept. First off, don’t be afraid to get dirty! Use your hands. Rinse them multiple times if you need to. But, I can promise you this, no spoon or other gadget is going to get the food covered as well as smooshing it between your fingers.

That being said, pick up a piece of the meat. Go on, it’s okay. I promise it stopped biting a long time ago. Dip it in the egg/milk mixture. Then cover it in the flour/seasoning mixture. And then, do it again. Back into the egg/milk mixture and back into the flour mixture. Your hands will get gross, and will look like they’re all battered and ready to be cooked as well. I promise, it’s really okay.

Batter &then  repeat.

Batter &then repeat.

Double battered & ready for frying.

Double battered & ready for frying.

Batter & then repeat.

Batter & then repeat.

 

Step Four: Get to Cooking.

Once you’ve double battered drop it into the hot oil. Use tongs to turn each piece every once in a while. It will take a few minutes, and the time will vary based on how hot the oil is. Soon, you will have crunchy fried chicken/deer/roast and will have a main course your entire family will love.

 

Don't forget to turn it over so it gets golden all around.

Don’t forget to turn it over so it gets golden all around.

Take it out when it's golden all around.

Take it out when it’s golden all around.

 

I promise. I cannot tell you how picky my own children were {and still are to some extent} but they love this meal.

Unfortunately, I do not have a “finished product” image. I failed to take a picture of the full plate of fried roast before my children devoured it.

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Sewing & Shooting.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to learn how to sew. I even asked for a sewing machine for Christmas, which I got. So when Spring Break rolled around I decided to open my Christmas present and get to work.

My first attempt was a badly measured, no pattern used, pair of M&M shorts for my son. Those didn’t work out so well and ended up in file 13. My second project was this cute little, quilted messenger bag. It even came with a pattern, which I’ve learned is so incredibly helpful. However. I’m still learning how to read patterns. Man, those things are intimidating! I got my bag created and now I’m using it for carrying all of my paracord accessory making items. Yes, I make paracord accessories as well.

I forgot to take pictures so this is very close to the one I made. messenger bag

Well I got it all completed, and put together, and useful! I was so proud of myself that I went out an purchased more fabric and patterns. I made it as far as washing, drying, ironing the fabric, and opening the pattern. Woah.

pattern

Fortunately, there’s a local hobby shop that holds classes over reading patterns and how to make sense of all of the nonsense. I plan to make a visit to the shop to learn more about this new hobby of mine.

Speaking of hobbies, I’ve also picked up another new hobby since being married to my hunk of redneck husband. Guns, guns, and guns!

Since getting married my hubby has made it a point to get me more comfortable with weapons. He even bought me a pink and purple camo compound bow for a wedding gift! So this past weekend, Mother’s Day weekend, I spent 10 hours with my husband and about 50+ other people, mainly women, shooting and learning how best to handle various guns.

We shot Glocks, AR-15s, a Revolver, and many other rifles, handguns, and shotguns. In the process, I learned about two different types of competition shooting; 3 Gun and IDPA. I think I’m most interested in getting involved with 3 Gun shooting, but both were a lot of fun! Okay, so it probably helped that I hit all of my targets in both sessions.

3 Gun Nation3 Gun is where the competitor takes 3 different guns; a rifle, a pistol, and a shotgun, and proceeds to shoot targets with each. So I would start with a rifle, aim and hit six targets, run over to the table with the pistol, aim and hit six targets, and then go on to the shotgun, aim and hit six targets. One competition, 3 Guns. And the score is based on the time it takes plus the targets hit.

3Gun_Guns

idpa-square-logo-e1323139280655International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is a setup similar to a tactical invasion layout but it’s meant for civilian defense. So I had three targets set up as if I was in a home and people were breaking in and I had to shoot them. Each of those targets ended up with two fatal shots each square in the chest. Okay, so maybe the scenario suggested someone was taking my kids and maybe momma bear came out to make sure that wouldn’t happen.

targetsEither way, I hit all 3 targets in 17 seconds. To be fair, I had to walk between marks and shoot around walls and doorways. Time plays a factor in the scores here as well as the position of the holes in the target. I did okay.

I think I’m finally adjusting to country living!

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