Delicious Recipe IV Tempeh and Egg Rolls

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The magic thing about tempeh is it’s a lot like meat- high in protein and very versatile, this time I literally fried it for two minutes on a high pan then placed in in a crock pot with a jar of store bought curry over the top. I then roasted asparagus in the oven on the broiler setting until it was getting crunchy at the tips…
Then I threw that all in a bowl and ate it up. The children were not especially overjoyed at the prospect of tempeh- but they ate it…sooo….it counts!!

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Honestly, after eating so much amazing raw food, especially veggie juice… I was just thrilled to eat something warm and chewy!!
I was also able to try some fly by the seat of my pants southwestern tacos, it went like this: I made spicy refried beans with tons of delicious veggies and salmon, and I guess I just got carried away because I had a lot of leftovers….so I took crumbled tofu, added taco seasoning, black beans, and corn, salmon, and chopped yellow peppers and tomatoes. I took a half a cup of this mixture and rolled it into an egg roll wrap, the kind you can find in the produce section. I baked it on 400 for 6 minutes, then I flipped it over and cooked it some more…5 minutes. When the outside is nice and crispy, yum it up with a little salsa. And there you go. Almost vegan. You could easily leave out the fish!!

Delicious Recipes III – Triple Layer Lagasna

This wonderful adventure we call “fall” – oh boy can it knock you out?! It is absolute chaos sometimes with homeschooling, trying/failing keeping the house clean, sports, music, catechism, and everything combined with my honeys busy schedule…woa! I know you’re right there with me and barely have time to breathe, Lord give us strength!!
In the midst of the chaos, I have been enjoying some food experimentation!! One has to eat! Why not make it beautiful and delicious!? I bought myself the biggest crock pot I could find, and I have been trying to mostly cook in the early morning or over the weekend and freezing dinner that way…
I made a few versions of veggie lasagna….here they are, and coming soon for your vegan pleasure, curried tempeh and asparagus, and cabbage silly salad!
Vegan Lasagna
Make the whole box of noodles
This recipe will make two nice big pans!
Line up your cooked noodles along the bottom of an olive oiled pan, and add half a jar of marinara, or enough to coat the noodles.
Sauté one large onion chopped with oil for seven minutes or until the onion is slightly browned.
Put the onion you just cooked up on top of any thinly sliced veggie you have handy, I used eggplant and zucchini in one and portobellos and sweet potatoes in another. The key here is nice and thin, or it won’t cook all the way;)
Layer with noodles and more sauce.
Make fake vegan ricotta filling by mashing together 1 block extra firm tofu, one can great northern beans, and the fatty part of a can of coconut milk. Put all of this in a large skillet with 3 crushed garlic cloves, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon black pepper, and a healthy sprinkle of basil and garlic salt. Mash with a potato masher. This will be your next layer. Spread evenly, and then top with another layer of noodles and sauce.
The very top layer I did a nice thick layer of marinara with round zucchini slices to look pretty.
Cook for one hour on 350. Let sit for ten minutes, then enjoy!!
Thanks for all your support, and comment with fun veggie recipes if you’re feeling brave. I would so love to hear your ideas!!

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Delicious Recipes II ~ Veggie Lovers

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There has been a request, and you know I aim to please, so here you are Emily M!! This is what I made this week, very simple, and yet, the kids and the parents enjoyed it. That is success for me, when the family eats it. If they have to hold their nose, I probably will work it out of the rotation….

There was some major fun to be had at the Whites House, this summer! Thank you, Deanna, for opening your home to us, and allowing us to fill our bellies with your wonderful raspberries, and paint your AMAZING flowers, what a treat to see you, and your beautiful farm. Look at me and most of the littles with our prized raspberries!!

The first recipe you will see here, is basically basmati rice with a lot of added stuff to make it delicious, and beautiful! Then there is the sweet peas with beets in the retro orange tubberware- a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds! Following those you will see my Saturday lunch, which is the Cranberry Rice leftovers with stir-fried zucchini spears on top.
ENJOY!!

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CRANBERRY RICE
3 cups basmati rice, rinsed
1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
a bunch of kale, chopped and washed
1 lb mushrooms ( I use baby portabella)
1 head chopped cauliflower roasted with olive oil
and salt and pepper and garlic salt in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden
1 can coconut milk
2 cups whole raw cashews
a large onion
3 cloves garlic smashed
salt and pepper to taste
1+ cup olive oil
2 TBS Bills Curry (any curry spice will do)
1 TBS paprika

Rinse rice until the water runs clear, add cranberries, can of coconut milk, and enough water (2 1/4 cups per cup of dry rice). Bring to a boil and then turn it down and let it simmer with lid on until ready. About 20 minutes. Add spices and olive oil after you have turned the heat down.
In a sauté pan, heat up olive oil (1/4 cup) and caramelize onion and mushrooms with cashews until they all have this sweet golden thing happening, and then add more curry (1 TBS) and more paprika (1tsp) and salt and pepper.
Stir in crushed garlic and kale, remove from heat, and partially cover.
You don’t want to really cook the kale and garlic, it will be perfect from the heat of the other veggies.
Put the veggie/cashew combination with the cauliflower – serve on top of rice and enjoy.

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I know you think I’m nuts, but try it, and tell me what you think.
Retro Beet~Pea Salad
Pickled Beets
Fresh Crunchy Sugar Snap Peas
Sometimes I add Sunflower Seeds..

Combine in little bowls and eat. They don’t call peas “easy” just because. They really are that good. The sweetness of the peas combined with the vinegar in the pickled beets is pure magic.

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If you happen to enjoy your veggies, don’t be shy, and share some favorites with me! I am searching for some good sauces to pour on top of similar recipes, like imagine an almond butter garlic sauce, or perhaps something with tahini….

I will keep posting, your job is to comment 🙂 Thanks for reading!!

What Would Jesus Eat?

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This question has been on my mind for a long while. Why do we love bacon, red meat, and dairy products? Do they have sentimental feelings associated with them, like “I love hot dogs, because they remind me of Word of God Community Picnics? I understand that the very best foods are fresh, local, and mostly consist of green things. What I am trying to understand more, and maybe you can help me out with this….is that there is all this recent emphasis

(see Forks Over Knifes- a documentary concerning the recent “China Study,”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study, and “Vegucated” http://www.getvegucated.com/)

on giving up animal products, and so, because I do see the facts, our family has gone vegetarian, and dairy-free, much to the chagrin of my cheese loving offspring (except for Zingerman’s Cheese!! Love u Aunt Aubrey!), but meat isn’t missed too much yet. And I think if we are lucky to get a deer or two this season… we would definitely eat up some venison. I thought I could just buy organic meat and feel good about it…until I saw “Vegucated,” which turned me onto the reality of slaughterhouses. They are, for the most part, under regulated, and unsanitary. I think as Christians we have a moral obligation to try to support the farmers and growers and bakers who are doing things “RIGHT,” we each have our own small part to do to honor all of Gods Wondrous Creation!! My brother and sister-in-law – Hilde and Charlie Muller run Laughing Tree Bakery off of their rural farm on the west side of Michigan. They are role models for all foodies!!

Mira and Eva sporting Laughing Tree Shirts

So my question for you, dear reader is: WHAT SHOULD WE EAT?? While surfing the net, I came across a book called “What Would Jesus Eat?” by Dr. Don Colbert. He says that Jesus ate what he called the Mediterranean Diet: fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and fish. The Bible talks about food enough to give us an idea, there was Wine at the Wedding Feast in Cana, the Parables Jesus told about the Grain, and the Leaven, and we know the Jewish people cared greatly about the treatment of all different sorts of things concerning food, and sanitation. Jesus never ate a fancy ham for a feast, because pork was on their list of “no-nos.” Jesus ate the traditional Passover Meal with his disciples at the Last Supper, together with Bread and Wine. We know from Luke 24:42 Jesus shows he’s not a ghost by eating a nice breakfast of broiled fish and honeycomb. Jesus probably ate lots of leavened and unleavened bread, other whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and olive oil. So is that enough for me?

Mama Spelt Lover

I have to say, I really do love turkey at Thanksgiving, and ham at Easter, and burgers and brats all summer long, and if you EVER show me a plate of chicken wings, I will have a very difficult time saying “no!” Even with my now enlightened brain full of the awareness of mistreated creatures being packed in factory farms, irradiated, genetically modified, hybridized, and altogether nasty. It still smells good. And most of you are probably thinking, that’s fine for you, but I can’t afford to put so much emphasis on what I eat, it’s too expensive, and I don’t have time to slave away in the kitchen for hours and hours everyday.

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Ok. I get that. I will not think any less of you if you choose to eat whatever it is that you are eating. I just beg you to not let health be a hindrance to you enjoying life to the full. Jesus came so that we could have abundance, to love our families, to have children, to grow old watching our decedents blossom into witnesses of Gods love for his people! If you are over weight or prone to heart disease or cancer, eating a more plant-based diet may increase your chances of surviving long enough to see your great-grandchildren! Personally, I am very much looking forward to being a old woman, and telling stories to my relatives, they will marvel at my words, and hang onto my pearls of wisdom! My beautiful Grandmother Stella is 92 or is it 93? I can hardly keep track, but she helped my eldest do a report on World War II recently, and boy did I learn something! Talk about a Victory Garden! That life is something so far from the extreme amount of food we have access to today!

Siah and the cousins

I was also inspired to learn that we really don’t need meat. The nutrients in vegetables are often superior to the nutrients in meat, because with the exception of Vitamin B12, all the nutrients found in meat are the same, only they have been predigested for you by an animal! I watched a film called, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,

http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/https://public-api.wordpress.com/connect/?magic=keyring&blog=40581154&kr_blog_nonce=71570086e2&service=facebook&action=request&kr_nonce=9bb306f55b&nonce=450165655c&refresh=1&for=publicize

which really inspired me to bust out my old juicer! It is a documentary about Joe Cross, who is 100 pounds over weight, and he decided (with the help of a doctor) to go on a 60 day juice fast. He only had juice! It was truly a great idea. And bonus for sleep deprived mamas, the veggie juice gives me so much energy!

Family Breakfast

Maybe we will never know what Christ ate, or what his favorite foods were, but one thing is for sure: it probably was pretty simple. I encourage you to think of greens as your friend, and turn to plants for your next tasty treat!

This is a friend, Abigail Stauffer! Check out her out!!

“I Hate Organized Religion!”

A friend recently said this and it got me to thinking, there are a lot of things that sometimes I say “I hate” to!
Like I hate police officers when I get a speeding ticket! I also hate lines at the grocery when I am at the end….waiting….I hate “judgmental” people when they have seen my dark side and point it out to me! I hate rules, especially that rule that stops me from doing exactly what it is I’m wanting to do…like don’t feed the animals (but I’m great with horses!!) Don’t go in the water, DANGER!! ( but I will be careful!!)
I know that the Church has flaws, namely the people in the Church are not perfect! I should spend much more time in the confessional myself! There have been very few times that I felt ashamed or embarrassed to be at church, but I will never forget the times that I did feel that way. Usually folks who say they hate organized religion have been hurt, either by their family directly, or by a relationship within their immediate circle that caused them to stray away.

In my case it was my own fault. I had two children out of wedlock, which was embarrassing at best. I was mortified. I remember in the early days of our relationship, trying to get Abel to come to mass….it wasn’t pretty. We had our struggles, the main one being that we needed convincing that the people in the church cared more about us, and less about the stupid sins we had committed. I wanted to be angry at the Catholic Church for having rules that were unrealistic, I wanted to hate religion all together! But then came a Sunday when I was full of shame and anger and defensiveness, I was ready to shout at whomever looked sideways at me next: “I am living the pro-life message! See how my baby is ALIVE and not dead! You should be HAPPY I didn’t contracept, or abort! Smile and say congrats, or just don’t look at me!!!!” And then an old friend of my family, came up to me and said how truly wonderful it was to see me, and how are things going?
It was so great. Honey to my soul. This is the body of Christ folks- the spirit of truth reaches out and has the guts to just talk to people, smile and talk. That same day someone else spoke to and encouraged my husband. It was paramount. We haven’t missed mass since. After some time has passed I realize there may be several reasons people were looking at me BESIDES hatred, scorn or judgment. They maybe be honestly worried about me and wanting to help, but not know what to say, they may be thinking about their own teenage pregnancy that they were unable to keep, they maybe thinking about their daughter who is my age, living with her boyfriend, on birth control…. there are so many scenarios.
There are many reasons people can pick on the church, there is a popular you tube video going around about “Why I hate religion, but Love Jesus,” which is full of blatant untruths, if you took five minutes to research you could disprove. Like, “Jesus came to abolish religion”….uh…nope…Jesus came to fulfill the law, Matthew 5:17, remember Jesus was an observant Jew. He came to upset the religious people who were more focused on the letter of the law, he wanted to infuse them and their world with the Holy Spirit, and make it about a relationship with his Heavenly Father. Much different than stopping religion altogether. Or how about this one, I know you’ve heard this before: “the church wastes money on big beautiful churches but fails to feed the poor.” Wrong again! Wow, too bad the Catholic Church is the biggest humanitarian organization in the world…..if you want to read specifically about what the church does read here:
http://www.staycatholic.com/the_good_catholics_do.htm
I think it’s fair to say that the biggest sin we can commit as Catholic Christians is to not reach out to others who are clearly challenged. That includes any mother (single or not), father, teenager, divorced or widowed, people with mental illness, physical handicaps, the elderly, our own families. Maybe we should just start there.

I will start with loving my own family as much as I possibly can. I wish I could go back in time and commit to being a better friend to this person who hates organized religion. I wish I could show her how sweet it is to be a part of the church, the life and light of the risen Christ operating much more than human goodness, the end result is feeling super supported. It’s literally life changing.

Five Stars for Little Caesars- Stadium, Ann Arbor

Five Stars for Little Ceasars- Stadium, Ann Arbor

Pizza Pizza! After a harried day of errands, with several of my family members howling with hunger, I stopped into Little Caesars on Stadium in Ann Arbor, out of sheer desperation. I wasn’t prepared for the awesomeness I encountered there.
After ordering, the guy behind the counter offered me cookies for the starving children rocking my van outside their window! They provided plates and napkins, and all with a flair of generosity you don’t typically find at a fast food joint!
Upon interviewing Kevin Stephens, the owner and manager of Little Caesars, I found out why. His father owned the store before him, and his 24 employees are mostly complied of his 3 sons, and relatives! Aha! That’s why they are so good, they are a family, and supporting them is so easy with the great service they provide.
When I did a little Google-hunt and found out more about Little Caesars, I shouldn’t have been so surprised that Kevin was doing a family-run business!
Mike and Marian Illich, together with their 7 kids were first generation Macedonian immigrants, who started a small pizza shop in Garden City, MI in 1959! Not only is that a stones throw away from Ypsilanti, but I love the story of them opening the restaurant and Mike wanted to name the place “Pizza Treat,” and Marian thought there was something more distinctive they could add! Her nick-name for her husband was her “Little Caesar,” and finally he agreed it was catchy, and the official name for that first store (which is still there!), was Little Caesar’s Pizza Treat. Their specialty was two large pizzas for the price of one!
They really do have wonderful deals, with their Hot and Ready Pizzas at only $5.55 (8 or more are only 5$ each). Mike explained that at his store the food is a teeny bit more expensive because they pay their employees more than minimum wage! Just another reason that I want to head to Little Caesars!
But at 14$ for two delicious pizzas, I can’t feed my family for that price anywhere!
They also have a deep dish pizza which is quite literally twice the amount of food as the traditional round, and only 8$ each. Another favorite that you will want to try is their tuna melt! I’m totally serious. My friend Dom was the one who initially introduced me to the place and he strongly recommended the tuna melt. I love and adore tuna, but rarely have a good experience with it outside of my house, but this truly is an exception! Try it.
Kevin, his wife Levlie and their three boys, Trent, Garret, and Zach and various family members have been working at this place for going on 50 years this spring. Kevin’s father bought it in 1954, it was the 11th store to be built, and the funny little guy on the roof was hand sketched by Mike Illich himself!
Thanks to Kevin for taking the time to speak with me during the after lunch- lunch rush! And, I may be reviewing some of Kevin’s favorite local places, Dimos, Washtenaw Dairy, and Red Rock….

To: Stay-at-Home Mother

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I know you are all with me. It’s a mind game, this whole mothering thing. We are with them alllll day and the next and the next and the next, and it’s our fault if the place looks trashed, so we work pretty hard to keep it kosher, and the way the children act is a direct test to our parenting prowess, it’s kind of sad, but you know it’s true. If our kids are nuts or a bloody mess, or somewhere in between, it’s our job to fix it.

I am not trying to offend anyone, so if you work and you already feel like I’m calling a working mama less-then, believe me, I am not. The reality is, we are at a pivotal place in history, where many (and this is extreme, I know) believe that if a child’s basic needs are met, and they have been cared for, then we as mom’s can check that box, and be done. I believe that actually raising a child takes much more than caring for them. Raising entails a repore that can only be accomplished with time spent by an interested and scrutinizing person. Lots of time. Listening and supporting and going through the daily grind, to see what it is they excel at and what they could use a little work on. Knowing your kids, this is a full time thing.

To stay in the game….to keep going…. we stay-at-homers need to make stuff up. You can be nice and psycho-babble and do whatever it is that works, but I “go to my happy place” often. Everyday, in fact. I take whatever it is that I’m doing, and make it magic. I turn the daily happenings into bliss in my mind, not because I am truly depressed or something, it’s just going to take a lot of energy, and to get psyched up for the occasion of herding six somewhat willing individuals under the age of twelve into the van to do the “planned” activity, it takes a lot of….. well, for lack of better terminology, it takes A LOT.

Here is a perfect example: going to the dentist. So, they won’t take all my kids on the same day, so we do two days somewhat close together, and I have these appointments sitting there on my calendar for weeks. Just sitting there. And every time I lay eyes on it, I think – I should get a sitter for that day, but for some masochistic reason: I don’t.

So the night before, I freak out quietly in my mind (another thing you stay-at homers have learned well, I know- this is not a good reason to have the kids all excited, right?) about getting there on time, and water bottles, snacks, and activities for the children in the waiting room. The morning rolls around, and together with the breakfast and morning jobs comes a sort of squalor of daughters fighting over the mirror,combing hair, and applying lip gloss (as if Justin Beiber HIMSELF) may stop in to get a teeth cleaning! And babies, and shoes, and the baby pooped her diaper, back inside, changing clothes, oh my goodness, homework-books, planner, etc.

In the middle of all of this ULTIMATE CHAOS lies a simple line that I replay to myself, “Bring your sewing project, Jen, so while you are there waiting you can stich a few, and pour yourself some tea, so you can sip on some Morning Thunder whilst you listen to the ever polite witnessing going on in the exam rooms! Surely, we will convert at least one restless heart to Christ by being there today….” Yes, I do find myself screaming later on inside my head things like: “You are a nut-job, why didn’t you get a sitter?”

But then, you have experiences like I had the other day, getting berated by an elderly man in the checkout line, that make you reconsider. He was laying into me full tilt that I was crazy to bring my kids to the store, and that they didn’t want to be there anyway. Ha-ha. Ha again now that I think about him….I have been complaining to the cashier because at this particular thrift store chain, they make frequent loudspeaker announcements that children must remain with their parents. We have been told (collectively) several times (along with other families) to stay as one unit. Honestly, by the time we got through the store and were in line to pay, I was seeing stars. Over and over I had been the vigilant drill sergeant. “Stay close!”….”hold onto the cart!”…..” look for shoes that are cool but have laces”…” we don’t need a skateboard without wheels”…. Why can’t my twelve, ten and eight year olds who have come here with their own money in order to buy themselves new awesome digs, be left alone? They were doing what they were supposed o be doing, s h o p p i n g!!!!

The old guy said, those kids don’t want to be here anyway, you should leave them with their grandparents! Which strikes a nerve, because my folks aren’t around. I straight up said to him, “that’s easy for you to say!” Maybe bringing my kids with me everywhere is a bit much sometimes, but maybe they are learning from these outings? Maybe what many children experience today, being carted from activity to activity, school, back home again and to another activity suited to their specific needs isn’t exactly positive! Maybe it’s okay to be made slightly uncomfortable in order to understand the appropriate etiquette for the store, the dentist, the church, the park, the library, the friends home, AND all around the freaking mulberry bush. Maybe I’m proud of the fact that my kids raise their own cash to spend it wisely, second hand, which is in fact, recycling and making good choices, while checking for missing buttons, broken zippers and hidden holes.

The manager, the cashier and the old guy all looked at me and shut up. The old guy yelled over his shoulder, something about how I had a bad attitude. I don’t think so, you crazy insensitive dude. I think next time I shop there they can announce something like, “here in the children’s shirts aisle you see the Thomason Children doing exactly what their Mom told them to do, if you don’t know what you are supposed to do, please consult your mother.”

I am staying at home not because it’s perfect for all to see. I’m doing it because with me at home, our family works.

Pesto-Tomato Dream!

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All the ingredients you would need to make this magical dinner are:
Tortillas (pick or make whatever kind your family likes, flour or corn work equally well!)
Tomato Paste
Pesto
Pepperoni and other toppings
Shredded Russet Potato

Because our family is dairy-free we have been grating a potato for faux cheese, it works quite well, and it’s visually pleasing!

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Here you see me using a vegetable peeler to potato-up our mini pizzas, behind me you can see a beautiful picture of Jesus, along with a letter of affirmation from my dear Austrian soul sista, Monay!! I read it everyday, and think to myself,’She’s right, I can DO IT!’

Spread some olive oil on a cookie sheet, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and make up a bunch of these treats by putting a teaspoon each of pesto and tomato paste (more if you like !) In the center of each tortilla, smooth it out around the whole tortilla, being careful to spread it evenly, add any toppings that you wish, shred some potato on top- I promise it’s delish, and cook them for about 7 minutes, or until the bottom is just crispy and the potato on top begins to curl!

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There you go! This is so simple, and much cheaper than ordering a pizza! Also if you are gluten or dairy free, or even vegan, this is very easy to customize for your particular needs. I hate giving up foods I love just to be healthy, and I hate eating foods that taste bad! Here you get tons of flavor and it can be free of allergens. Double bonus, win/win! And Big Hugs to Mary Tew for being so good to say I make good food,

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your encouragement is so heartfelt and genuine! I love you!

Michael row my boat with you…..

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He was the closest person I have ever known to die. It has been tragic. It stings so deeply, thinking of his shining face and goofy laugh.   Michael Sheets was one of the boys, he was in love with Anna, and he was a wonderful dad to Morgan and Jordan, and a good, good man. He was an excellent soccer player, a very intelligent mechanical minded worker, he was a Load Master for Flight 102 that crashed this Spring on April 29th, in Afghanistan. (please visit http://www.ncr102.org). There were seven men aboard the cargo plane, all died. The families are distraught. It is a terrible unfortunate and untimely sad story. The plane went up and came right back down as if the engine stalled. In those 30 seconds or so that Michael had as the plane was going down, he chose to call Anna. She was getting the children ready for school and didn’t pick up. She was his last call. Knowing Mike, he was running around the airplane trying to make other people feel comfortable and call Anna at the same time to let her know everything would be okay.
Anna is one of those girls that you know you will always have as a true friend. She is playful and comes from a big warm and fun family. Her getting to love Mike was the best thing ever. After a challenging relationship it was some time for Anna to be ready to love again. She fell in love with Mike, he loved her kids, family and friends in a way that she described as perfect. She kept saying to us after his funeral…..”I am so fortunate that I got to fall in love with my best friend.”
There have been so many amazing things and stories that I have witnessed due to Mike’s death. I don’t really want to share them all here, because I feel so emotional about it all I just end up weeping instead of typing…but I really feel God is calling me to share this so that you can hear and know that God is who He says He is. He is the Lord   of Heaven and Earth, and just in case you’re someone who isn’t a believer, I will spare you the suspense: there is a   HEAVEN. And you know what that means: there is a HELL. I know this is difficult, especially if you are questioning how you are living your life and GOD  is looking down on you. It doesn’t matter. You need to know this: Jesus came to save you, He loves you, He wants you, and HE is REAL.I know this now, more than ever. When someone dies there are always those questions in the back of your mind- did He make it?
During a prayer meeting at the home of Michael the night he died, Carol Love, (Anna’s mom) saw Mike smiling his gap-toothed smile perfectly at peace and HOME with Jesus. Right after she shared this with his group of friends and family, his close friend Mark said he saw the same thing. Pretty cool. And we all felt Mike’s presence in the moment, kind of like, “hey you guys, would you stop crying already? I’m HOME!” Mike was one of those who didn’t necessarily call himself a Christian, he just WAS. He was faithful, generous, and kind to everyone. They kept   saying at his funeral that he wasn’t judgmental. It’s true. And that is a very hard way to be. I am often overwhelmed with my own thoughts about people and situations. I am a sinner. The worst of all. Mike, on he other hand, really, I’m not even exaggerating, was pure of heart. He loved the people he knew, and he didn’t put anybody in a box. He liked to have fun, and he valued his friends, children, and especially Anna. It’s hard to see someone like that go, even more when you feel the loss of his parents, and his sweetheart, and her kids. We all needed you, Mike, and it’s so hard to say goodbye.
My husband was much closer to Mike than I was. When I met Abel and fell in love with him I soon had to learn to love Mike as well, because he lived in our house, together with a Pit Bull, a Reticulated Python, and a large collection of Brian’s cichlids. And there was BOYS NIGHT. It was a consistent, weekly time of male bonding, pool playing, dart throwing, card shuffling, tipping back a few and talking. These men needed   these things. Holy people are always sitting around talking about Men’s Prayer Groups, and stuff like that, and that is important too, but just like   women need to sit and drink coffee and knit or sew, men need to do something in order to have the space to open up and talk. If you have the pleasure of being married, do me a favor and kick your husband out the door once every couple of weeks with his friends. Men need fun, too. They need to recharge their batteries and feel a sense of acceptance. A sense that they are OK and doing good. Men need men. I feel badly about the times I guilt tripped my husband when he stayed out too late with Mike. Those times allowed him to know Mike. If he hadn’t spent those evenings out knocking pool balls around, gobbling down nachos and talking with him, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity just recently to hear Mike tell him he loved him. One of those late night, pour out your heart, should be asleep, I LOVE YOU MAN….WE GOTTA   HANG OUT MORE!………. 4am talks that you never forget.
When Abel called me and told me Mike was  gone, I didn’t really believe it, thought I had too much coffee and was hearing things… Mike was the most alive person, I was so sure I would see him  again…..another moment would pass and I could look out my kitchen window and  see him walking down my driveway…. smoke circling his head……menthol square  hanging from his lips..…smiling ear to ear……..kids hollering “ Mike, Mike, Mike” and he would roll a soccer ball up on his foot and start juggling….just like his dad taught me…….. It just doesn’t seem possible.
Oh Lord, help me to be more like Mike. Help   me to be more comfortable with who I am, and able to set aside my fears and   really just LIVE. Give me a heart like Mike’s heart, free and open, and   loving. Help me to always remember the kindness of this dear friend. And   ever-hopeful and assured because I know it’s true, let me see him again.   Amen.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scn3E8P0Y2o

Diapers In the Dark!

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Recently, I found myself bragging about how I can change diapers in the dark to my dear friend, Mary Jo. We are excited to teach Level II Atrium next year for the 6-9 year olds in our parish, but a bit wary on some of the more serious parables and new presentations I haven’t done yet….there was a comparison made: the familiarity of working with the Level I kids (3-6 yrs.) and materials at this point is so easy, it’s like diapering in the dark!

After this friendly banter I went over to the resale magic mall, aka. Value World, where we found some wonderful gifts for my husband, on the bad side: the baby pooped, and the children and myself all had to go to the bathroom. With a little bit of yelling we made our way over to Dunhams,  the sports emporium and bought up some more goodies for the Pops, after hastily making our way to their (locked) disgusting bathroom, with no where to change the baby. So I did what any normal mother does, squat down to lay the baby across the lap, then with younger sibling ready with additional wet wipes, I quickly removed the diaper using the front of the thing as an additional wipe in the quick swipe of the diaper removal, followed by several fast cleansing wipes, and a new diaper. Speed is of the essence, but no cheap shots – because no one likes a rashy baby. I wanted to cuss out the owner of that store, even more when we waited in line FOREVER and tried not to eat all the candy they had nicely displayed at the kids eye-level! BOO!

This silly endeavor happens much more than I am willing to admit.  I travel much with my children, bike rides, hikes, soccer games, church, etc. There are few places yet to be visited by me and my troop of explorers. We like to go new places, but one of the side effects of this is the strange and glorious places I have changed my children’s diapers.

To tell you the truth, I think this is something we all need to talk about. There are too few places that have no consideration what so ever for babies, mothers, fathers-FAMLILIES and their need for bathrooms ready with appropriate ample ass-wiping accommodations. If we think we have it figured out in terms of women’s liberation, think again. If I can not plop my baby down somewhere in your wonderful establishment to kindly freshen their bottom, you are not my favorite place. Let’s just say that. I am going to start a new, separate section to my book that I’m writing. It will be called GO HERE! In it I will chronicle my visits to places I have noticed the attention to detail in their family-friendly approach. I will note the decently priced children’s menu, the places to go that remember that little people need to be changed from time to time, the business that puts a playground/activity somewhere near by, as if the children’s playing was an important and relevant GOOD thing. I salute you who run businesses with such considerations!

Diapers, really, for me open up a huge can of worms. Ever since my first pregnancy I have been fretting about the cloth/paper diaper decision. I know how much trash my family produces, and I don’t want to contribute even more fecal matter to the landfill if possible. If you aren’t aware watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OnR_rFJT8vw this is a short video made by G-Diapers, an Australian company that makes re-usable diapers, it’s an easy way to see how we suck by using plastic diapers. I will forever be haunted by this. So, I torture myself by feeling bad when I’m not using cloth. But, I’m lazy, and I can’t always pull everything together, food, water, children, supplies, and um, cloth diapers. The rest of the time I remember the other things we are doing that are eco-friendly, and try to forgive myself.

At the end of the day, proficiency isn’t about what you can do, it’s HOW you do it. so even though I may not always do exactly what I would like to do, hopefully the things I can do are done with love and thoughtfulness. That is my prayer. So….next time you get cocky about something in your life that you feel you do well, try to self-correct and ask for humility before you get put in your place like I did this week! And think of me when you change diapers in the dark. Also, please e-mail or comment if you have any outstanding reviews of family friendly locations!imagesNikky