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____________________________________ Could Never Happen to Me

It’s that time of year again. The sun is out and the temperature is rising. Many of us live for this time of year. I love me some good summer like weather!

Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year that can be down right dangerous when a pet or child is left in a vehicle. The temperature inside a car can raise to 160 degrees in ten minutes when it’s “just” 90 outside! (Source: Accuweather) On a sunny, but cool day, the temperature inside a car can be 100  degrees, even when it’s “only” 60 outside.

Every year, there are people who purposely leave their kids or pets in cars. I do not understand this.

On the other hand, there are many people who forget their child is in their vehicle. It seems inconceivable. It’s the opposite of understandable. Many of us think “that could NEVER happen to me. NEVER.” No ifs. No ands. No buts. No grace. Who wants to think that they COULD make a horrific mistake that could result in the loss of life of their most precious offspring?

Everyone has something that they think couldn’t happen to them. My husband thinks that we could never get divorced. I tend to agree with him, but I also know that there are a lot of divorced people out there. There is no way that most of them said “oh, yeah, I could get divorced someday”. I am quite positive that they fell into the “that would never happen to us” camp. My parents could have never predicted that someday they would lose a child, but they did. Who wants to think about all the bad things that could happen?

You think it can’t happen to you or won’t happen to you, until it does. Then you get it.

It was a pretty mild, but warm day. This must have been 7 or 8 years ago. The day started off terribly. I had walked out into the garage and discovered that the freezer door had been left open. While we were able to salvage some of its contents, we weren’t able to save it all. As a single income family, it’s devastating to lose your stockpile and not know how you will ever find the money to replace it. My family and I headed to my parents’ house. Good ol’ mom always came through for us when we were in a bind and that day was no exception. She loaded us up with replacement meat. She also suggested that we head up to the local Safeway to see what kind of deals and clearance they had. I thought it was a great idea.

My oldest daughter, son and youngest daughter were going to stay behind with my dad and husband. My middle daughter, my mom, and I got in our van and were heading out to the store when my husband came out with the youngest. “She wants to go with you”, he said. He strapped her into her seat and we left. It was a short drive. My mom and I talked, as we always do. We got  to the store, my oldest daughter and mom got out of our van and I locked the doors and started walking to the store. My mom said “Aren’t you going to get the baby?” I looked at her, confused, and said “What baby?” My older daughter said “Piper! She’s in the car”.

Oh my God. I could not believe that I had forgotten she was in the car. I couldn’t believe that I almost walked off without her. I couldn’t imagine how the same situation would have played out if my mom and daughter had not been with me. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt over what did happen and what could have happened.

I didn’t forget that she was in the car because she is less important to me than other things. I didn’t forget her because I am a negligent parent. I forgot because I was distracted by the freezer fiasco. I forgot because I was not the one that had loaded her into her car seat. I forgot because I am human and humans forget.

You may think it could never happen to you and I hope it never does. It is not a good feeling to lay in bed and think about what could have happened. You may think I am a terrible parent. If it makes you feel better to think that, I won’t stop you and I won’t defend myself. I know myself. I know that I am human, and I am far from terrible, but I can not prove that to you.

I can not imagine being the parent that loses a child, because of a mistake they made. I can’t imagine the grief, the despair, and the life long punishment they will endure. When it is proven that a child was left in a car purposely, I am shocked and disgusted. I don’t understand how you can consciously make a choice to harm another human, especially one that comes from your body or your heart. But when a parent has truly, truly forgotten. I only feel compassion. Nothing anyone can say can make them feel any worse than how they already feel. The judgement you heap on them? They are already doing it to themselves. The hateful words you say? They’ve probably said them a hundred times to themselves. They don’t need our contempt.

You can continue to think these things won’t happen to you, but only until it does.

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Blink Blink Blink

I’m staring at the cursor on my screen, blink, blink, blink. So many times I have thought of this little space and the words I want to put in it. Then I let something or THINGS get in the way. I put it off until later. Always later. Most times later doesn’t happen.

I miss the words. I miss the heart behind the words. I have been putting pen to paper since I was a little girl. One of the first stories I remember writing was “Pop and the Fairy”. Then as a teenager I wrote depressing love poems. I didn’t think they were depressing then, of course, but when I read them now, I laugh. I was pretty dramatic. I wrote on this blog for many years, then it slowly tapered off. First it was a calling from God. I strongly felt that I needed to strengthen my relationship with my husband and felt even stronger that it wasn’t something for the public eye. Thank God I listened. That was the year my husband lost his job, twice, I got pregnant, once, I decided to homeschool, and then my brother died. I certainly needed the strength of my marriage that year.

The taper became a full stop though. The beginning of the end was when I listened to the voice of others and not the voice of my God. Others who thought my blog needed to be bigger and seen by more. Then the disappointment came, because that didn’t happen and I kept pushing for it to happen, even though it didn’t feel right. Then the words just stopped coming, at least on paper, the mind never quits. I’ve written and re-written many words in my brain. I’ve dreamed words, sure upon waking that I would write the down later. Later… I couldn’t remember.

So this is where I am at. I closed my “fan” page on Facebook. I felt guilty feeling like I wasn’t living up to the grand expectations in my own head. Somehow those expectations became the expectations of all my “fans”. You know, in my mind. I’m going to write words here sometimes. Most times you won’t know, unless you seek them. I’ve never been one to self promote. I’m the person who says “Don’t look at me. What are you looking at? Stop!” So if you want to read these words of mine… visit, because I’m probably not going to invite you.

We are on the cusp of that surprise baby from 2 years ago… turning two. She is still the DELIGHT of our lives. Two of my three homeschooled kids have chosen to return to traditional school. The husband and I have celebrated 16 years of marriage. 2015 marks 20 years of togetherness. This week, our words to each other have run through a freaking scrambler! That means what I say is not what he understands. What he says is not what I hear. I’m starting to question my sanity. Course, my sanity was probably brought into question when I became pregnant with that 5th child. I’m okay with that. Noah was considered crazy too, but look at how that worked out for him. 

I still have a mad crappy coffee mix addiction. I still have insane thoughts and opinions. So stop by sometime. Pour some coffee, read a bit, leave an encouraging word. Or don’t. It’s completely up to you.

In love, in friendship, in Him,

Amy

What’s for dinner?

On Monday, I gave a small glimpse into what our family eats for breakfast.

Today, I am going to cover our dinner ingredients, which is kind of not a small list.

We eat spaghetti and tacos, like normal people. We also eat some meals that aren’t in our usual line up. Theoretically I could go a whole month without repeating a meal. However, since we are trying to keep a small grocery budget, I have started putting spaghetti and tacos and homemade pizzas into the line up more than once. I try to make sure that I only repeat a meal once every two weeks. Why do I repeat and how does it save me money? Well, take spaghetti for example. I use one lb of ground alpaca in the sauce, but our alpaca comes in two pound packages. I cook up the entire package, but freeze the second pound so I can use it in a future meal. Also, I buy the pasta in a large package for the best savings, and making the meal twice in a month insures I am using the entire package in a month.

If you are truly interested in what we eat for dinner, here are some examples:

  • Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas:  I double the recipe and freeze the second half. This made making dinner a snap the other night. All I had to do was take them from the freezer and cook them over low heat.
  • Korean Beef and Rice: Not too much to say about this. It’s just good!
  • Asian Marinated Chicken Thighs: my link to it doesn’t work, but you can google for this recipe
  • Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Chili: Hearty and healthy.
  • Spaghetti: I have always made spaghetti with the pasta in one pot and sauce in another. I love this recipe because I only get one pot dirty. I use about 1lb of spaghetti and a can of sauce. It will serve dinner and lunch for several days. 

Some of my methods for saving money on dinner ingredients are:

  • Plan a month’s worth of meals. I use Plan to Eat. Our lunches and breakfasts are so simple, I only use the planner for dinner. 
  • Plan meals whose ingredients complement each other. I can use spaghetti noodles to make this. this and this. I choose 4 meals per month that use noodles and space them one week apart. I do the same thing with other ingredients, such as carne asada and rice. (our favorite rice is Short Grain Brown Rice or Brown Jasmine Rice. It’s a little spendier, but a lot tastier)
  • Soups: We love Black Bean Soup here.  
  • Salads and veggies for dinner that are on sale. When broccoli is on sale, I will make it several nights, but in different ways. We always have salad with our dinners, which is honestly a way we could save more money. We love those chopped salads and I know it’s cheaper to make your own, but the one time I did, it took me hours and at the end of the week, I had to throw a lot away because it made so much. 

I realize that there isn’t really anything earth shattering in this post. Our dinners are so varied that it’s difficult to contain it all in one post. Planning our meals has been the biggest stress, sanity, money and time saver. I never ask “What’s for dinner?” because dinner is always planned and prepared. 

Do you have any money saving tips for dinner?

Because I Love You

I stormed out of the room, the baby in one arm, and pulled the door shut with great force. The sound of the door slamming echoed through the hallway and shook the floor a bit. I honestly didn’t mean to slam it that hard, I just forgot that the bedroom window was open, which always makes the door slam with ease. 

Although I flinched when the door slammed, I can’t say that I was really sorry when it did. The sound was a bit satisfying, although it was only a minute example of my frustration at the moment. “Good! He will know just how frustrated I am!” I thought. 

I plopped the baby in the rocking chair and sternly told her “Don’t move”, then I sat on the other side of the room, far away from her. 

I watched her. She watched me. I felt bad, down to the pit of my stomach, but I was just so tired and my head hurt. I just wanted to sleep and sleep was the last thing on her mind. It really wasn’t her fault that we had to run an errand and it took longer than expected and she fell asleep for one hour at 7:00PM, but SLEEP. Please, child, sleep! 

I dozed on the couch, while she played on the floor. He never came into the room, like I expected the slamming door would cause him to do. I knew there wasn’t much he could do. I knew he had to work in the morning. 

I knew all of this, but I was mad, and sad, and tired, and frustrated. I need sleep!

Eventually, and much earlier than I expected, she started to get sleepy eyes. She came to the couch and said “mama?” I scooped her up, changed her diaper, and then said “Are you ready to sleep now?” She rested her head on my shoulder and nodded gently. 

As I walked into the bedroom, I expected to see him sleeping, blissfully unaware that I had even left the room. Instead, he sat there, awake, mask off, staring at the ceiling. I halfway knew I had screwed up, again. Seems like I’ve been screwing up and apologizing a lot lately. 

Not this time. I was too ashamed. I just crawled next to him and went to sleep. 

Just five hours later he woke to get ready for work. I barely opened my eyes when he kissed me goodbye. Then the guilt hit me. He would be working hard, all day, on five hours of sleep. I knew he wasn’t at work yet, but I texted and apologized. I explained that while I was frustrated, I had forgotten that the window was open and did not mean to slam the door. 

He had every reason to be angry with me, but he wasn’t. He said “No worries. The window being open sure helped the door to close. I know it’s going to be a tough day for both of us, but try to have a good day.”

“Why are you so nice to me?” I asked.

What he said made me cry. 

“Because I love you. It’s hard with a toddler when you want to get to bed and she doesn’t…We are in this together.”

My husband often thinks that he doesn’t measure up and that he can’t compare to other people. He beats himself up because his prayers, if he says them, aren’t eloquent. He doesn’t make a lot of money and he feels guilty when we struggle. However, he has a more forgiving heart than anyone else I have ever known. He doesn’t hold grudges. When he should be angry, he is supportive and loving. In all of these ways, I believe that he is a direct reflection of Jesus. His forgiveness, his love, his character. I know he has a hard time believing that, but people often don’t know how beautiful they are to others. 

There is no one else I would rather do life with. Today, instead of beating myself up over my poor reactions last night, I remembered everything he texted me and was inspired to be a better person. I am so thankful. 

I hope everyone has someone like that. ❤ 

Leaving Kids in Hot Cars

This is the post that will either make you love me for my honesty or hate me for my stupidity. You have been warned. 

Every summer, we see it in the news. Often. A kid left in a hot car. Sometimes it’s because the mother has gone in for a haircut, sometimes it may have been pre-meditated, and other times people just plain forget. 

And it’s horrible. It’s terrifying. It’s scary to think that this could happen to anyone. Many people think they are “safe”. It could never happen to them, but who in their right mind would think it could? Even if you know and understand that it could happen in your life, you probably don’t believe it will. Hopefully it never does. 

These news stories break my heart. I can’t imagine how a parent lives with the knowledge every day that their actions led to the death of their child. Especially when it’s completely unintentional. People who comment on such news articles appear to have no grace. “Poor parenting”, “they should have never had kids”, “This will never happen to me, I’m a REAL parent!”, etc, etc, etc. For a parent who truly forgot, who is probably beating themselves up and wanting to change the past, these comments likely dig deep and stab hard. I can’t imagine. 

Yet, I can. I have been there. Let me give you a glimpse of a status I posted on Facebook last night:

Confession, because I hate it when people say it would never happen to them, and yet it happened to me. I left Piper in the car once. She was forward facing, in the seat behind me and I left her. It was hot out. There had been some confusion about whether she was coming with me or staying with Chad. I was distracted. I got out of the van, locked it and started walking away. I am so dang thankful that my mom and Taylor were with me. My mom said “aren’t you going to get the baby?” I looked at her confused and said “what baby?”, then I remembered that she was with us. I will never forget that happening. I think of it EVERY time I drive somewhere.

It can happen to anybody, given the right set of bad circumstances. I clearly remember the details of that day. I’m thankful it was momentary, but it happened. I forgot.

Some people will think it can never happen to them and that I am an idiot. That’s okay. I know I’m not. I’m just human. I’m not super human and I make mistakes.

You know what happened? Friends stopped by and commented and said “This happened to me too”. They shared their stories. Many shared how the memory haunts them. They know, as I do, that the outcome could have been much, much different. Every one of us is thankful that it wasn’t. Each of us understands that this isn’t something that only happens to horrible parents. Oh, sure, there are some parents out there that leave a lot to be desired, but that is not our downfall. 

Our downfall is that we are human. We have things on our minds, we are busy, over worked, over scheduled and distracted. We have new routines that throw everything in our day off. I will never NOT regret that this happened to me. Our situation did not end terribly, but it still happened and I still remember. (Unfortunately, Piper, who has heard this story many times won’t forget either. I get a “Don’t leave me like that one time!” all the time) 

Look, I’m not proud of myself. Not in the least. This shouldn’t happen. Unfortunately it does. It happens more than it should. I can understand how and why though and my heart mourns for the parents who were much like me and just had a different outcome. It’s something that can’t be taken back and when a parent is already grieving, they don’t need to be blamed. They need compassion. Understanding. Solidarity. They need to know that it could happen to anyone. 

Even if you think it wouldn’t happen to you. 

 

Living in a Microwave Society

In the late 1940’s, Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while doing research for Raytheon Corporation. Out of this experiment came a household appliance that many kitchens sport. 

The microwave. 

The microwave does for us in minutes what takes more minutes to do on a stove top or in the oven. It nukes our food and our liquids. It cooks. It reheats. It thaws. With a microwave, last minute meals are not a big deal. Forgot to take the ground beef out to thaw? No problem! It used to take all day in the refrigerator, but with the microwave you can have that done in less than 10 minutes. This is especially useful if you are terrible at planning ahead. 

Microwaves have not only removed the need to plan ahead, they have removed the need to wait. There is no need for patience. Health risks of using a microwave aside, this is not entirely a bad thing. 

However

Yes, however….

Our need for fast meals seems to be spilling over into other areas of our lives. We are living in a society of people who do not like to wait. We don’t want to wait for dinner, so we have microwaves, fast food and drive throughs. If we go to a sit down restaurant, chances are someone is irritated because the service is a little slow. (as a side note, I was in a restaurant a few months ago with the following sign: If you want a fast meal, we will gladly give you directions to McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc. If you want a good meal, be patient) We don’t want to wait for marriage for sex. Why should we? We can do it now. We don’t want to wait in line at the bank. (another side note: you don’t have to wait. There’s an app for that) We want to know the sex of our babies, NOW. There’s no waiting!

Slowly, we have become Veruca Salt, from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. “I want a ____________ and I want it now!” 

How terribly sad. 

I fall into the trap of a microwave society. I found out the sex of 3 of our 4 babies before they were born. I use the microwave a little too much, I plan for things a little too little. I had sex before marriage. I hate to wait!

Society lies. It tells you that you don’t need to wait because you can have it now. When I was pregnant with my 4th baby, we decided that we would wait until she was born to find out if she was a boy or a girl. I will never forget hearing “It’s a girl!” when she was born. Many  people tell me that it’s exciting to hear it at 20 weeks pregnant too. I don’t disagree, but until you have waited nine months to hear it, you just don’t know how much sweeter it is.

 

Our food is better…. when we wait. Our memories are better… when we wait.

I know that many will disagree with me. That’s okay. If we all agreed with each other, life would be SO boring. 🙂 As for me…. my ground beef is thawing in the fridge.

At least for today.

Agree? Disagree? Have we been ruined living in a microwave society?

Remember when it was a Material World?  

Do you Plan to Eat?

I had heard about Plan to Eat, but I resisted signing up. I already planned my meals, for the most part. I did well, mostly, eating dinner at home every night. In short, I just didn’t think I needed it.

Then several months ago, I was listening to the radio and the deejay was talking about Plan to Eat. She said that it was so easy to make a menu and a list. She said it took her less than 5 minutes to plan her meals. Then she said that there was a free 30 day trial.

30 Days? FREE? If you know me, you know I can not resist free.

So I signed up.

It was perfect timing too, because just a week after signing up, we were headed out for our first family vacation in 11 years! We had rented a house and had full access to a kitchen, stove, refrigerator, plate and silverware. Meaning…. we weren’t eating out. We really had no excuse. 😉

So I jumped right in with planning the week’s meals. The first time I used Plan to Eat, I could see why so many loved the service. One… it was easy. Two… it was convenient. Three… they had some preloaded recipes that you could use.

1. It was easy: So easy. There is a button that you can place on your tool bar. When you are on a website with a recipe and want to save it to your Plan to Eat account, you push the button and it (usually) loads and saves the recipe! (I say usually, because sometimes the set up of the web site means you have to copy and paste instead of one clicking it, but even this is easy) You can also copy the link, go to your account and save the recipe that way.

2. It’s convenient: You just click your recipe and drag it to your menu planner. Then you click your shopping list button and voila! An automatic grocery list! It will import everything into the list, even salt and pepper, so if you’re like me and you just happen to have that, you can delete it from your list.

3. Pre-loaded recipes: Not only do they have recipes already pre-loaded, if you have a friend who is using Plan to Eat, you can browse any of THEIR public recipes. (there is an option to keep your recipe private) I found some great recipes that are now family favorites, because Not a Stepford Life (Link is to her Plan to Eat Review) also joined and she had some yummy recipes on her account.

30 days after signing up for the free trial, I had no reservations about spending the $39 for a full year’s access to Plan to Eat. I could see how Plan to Eat not only saved time, but money as well. In March, the month before signing up for Plan to Eat, we spent $600 on groceries. This is food alone. In April, our first month of using Plan to Eat, we spent $460. This amount included our vacation food! As you can see, I saved well over the $39 fee. 

I highly recommend Plan to Eat. If you join, let me know and we can swap recipes. We’ve been eating new recipes every week, so I have many saved! If you are interested, you can find Plan to Eat here

Useless facts:

Since signing up

  • I have spent 9.9 hours using Plan to Eat. 
  • I have added 96 recipes to my account. 
  • I have menu planned 179 recipes.
  • I have shared my recipes with 2 friends. 

Try it. You’ll like it.