Friday, December 12, 2014

Not to beat a dead horse...

So not to beat a dead horse or anything, but I just have to revisit onion rings.  Based on my Phd in Greasology, I went ahead and declared onion rings a health food the other day!  Given my extensive onion ring background, I figured it was legit.  My intern and boss were both skeptical though so I started searching for supportive evidence and turned up this Onions RULE article.  As we munched on Turks onion rings, I gently reminded my coworkers that onions are plants and as such they are basically guaranteed a spot on the health food wall of fame!  Duh!  Now there is some concern that once you beer-batter and deep fry them, any nutritional benefit is negated, but I am going to go ahead and dismiss these concerns as unlikely and annoying and move along...

It's called Mulligan and kids it's what's for dinner again. 

I know it looks kind of gross, but trust me it is not!  This is an excellent venison recipe that is a staple in our home.  The best part about this one is you can mess with it quite liberally and it still turns out.  Given my track recipe following directions, this is a very good thing.  Tonight was my biggest "messing with it" to date and it was still YUMMY. But to be honest, I will probably be messing with this recipe until the day I die because everyone loves it! Tonight I added mushrooms and used an old can of Manwich (expired 2013 from the pantry) and instead of ground venison I used venison steak cubed because it was from 2011 and it needed to go! Chester actually evicted the venison steak because it quit paying the rent! Geesh he can be so heartless at times.  I mean it is right before the holidays!

The results of my messing:  It was more like a stew and not as thick as it generally is, but my husband actually said and I quote, "this is the best Mulligan you've ever made!"  Check out the recipe I make it in a dutch oven and that works like a charm!  You layer each item in the dutch oven and then bake it for 1-1.5 hours at 350 until the potatoes are done!  If your husband is a hunter gatherer type like mine, you will love this recipe ladies!

1/2 onion diced small
1/3 cup rice uncooked
2 large potatoes sliced thin
1 pound ground venison or chunked venison steak
1 large can baked beans
fresh mushrooms optional (possibly makes it more watery like a stew)
1 can of tomato soup (plus half cup water, v8 juice, salsa or Manwich) on top
poke holes through the layers so the moisture gets down to the rice to cook it.

So we were decking the halls a few weeks ago and my oldest two kids warmed my heart with this one!
Holiday love

 I frickin' love science in our kitchen! 
My third grader came home the other day from school and as I prepared ants on a log for snack time, she set up this experiment for her brother and sister to enjoy!  So cool and it worked too; 
we ended up with a half red and half blue piece of celery.  SCIENCE is AWESOME!

In attempt to improve my relationship with Maxine the Mixer, I gave her the night off while making peanut butter cookies last night.  I am trying to form an appliance alliance with some of my key appliances so that I can finally take Irma down and get her to cooperate during ironing time.  I will let you know how it works out for me!   So yep I mixed the cookies up old school with nothing more than a spoon and a wish.  And guess what?  The cookies were AWESOME despite my messing with the recipe. I really need to learn to follow recipes, but it just seems so BORING!

The cookies were a special treat for my friend who just had a baby. Yeah, I probably should've made an exception and followed a recipe since they were a gift, but I actually think I am incapable of following recipes.  Seriously, I read recipes and immediately think about ways to make them better.  Make them MINE.  I just can't help it.  Except when I make Eggs Benedict and then I follow the recipe very precisely and with the utmost perfection and they still never turn out exactly right!  Wait...maybe that is why they never turn out!   

Anyhow,  Happy Holidays I am crazy busy the next few weeks so you may not hear from me for awhile, but I have an exciting announcement upon my return!

Vern Out

Monday, December 8, 2014

A cleaning disorder, that's what I've got!

I have a habit of doing much more than is probably advisable.  I scurry about full of seemingly endless energy doing stuff.  All. Day. Long.  It is just how I roll.  Yes, Without a doubt, I DO TOO MUCH!  I have a real knack for overbooking myself.  It is both a blessing and a curse.  If I didn't do so much, the reality is a lot of stuff wouldn't get done; but doing so much means I am often rushed and stressed because I am in a hurry and you know,  doing so much.  It seems I need to find a better balance...


As I was standing in the grocery store line yesterday, five minutes before a scheduled running date (and just an hour before a bunch of people were coming over for dinner), worried that I might be late for either one of these self-imposed obligations, I pondered this very basic, yet often overlooked, reality of mine.  I decided right then and there to think about my epiphany some more; Later when I wasn't so darn busy.  (Even then in all the busyness of the moment though, I had the burning desire to somehow turn my thoughts into a story for my blog)

And then I forgot about the entire experience because I was busy doing stuff. Laundry. Dishes. Dinner. Homework. Bath Time.  Hair Brushing. You name it, I was doing it!  Yep I completely forgot about my epiphany until I sat down to write on here last night.  Then I really had to rack my brain trying to remember what the heck I had wanted to write about and then when I finally remembered, the dryer dinged reminding me there were clothes to fold, AGAIN.  So I folded clothes. And then I sat back down to write. And then Hazel woke up scared from a bad dream so I snuggled with her and dozed off for a few minutes.  And then I sat back down to write, AGAIN. And for a few minutes, I could not recall what I was going to write about and...

This is my life CYCLE.  This is my REALITY.  This is VERN.  This pretty well sums up my diagnosis:

In short, I am a horrible housekeeper, just ask anyone who has visited me in the past decade and they can vouch for me!

Irma. I forgot to tell you about Irma!  Today in all my doing stuff, I also ironed all Jeff's work shirts.  Yes I had another go 'round with Irma, the iron, and let me just say this, "I Still HATE ironing".  Despite my attempts to make it more enjoyable (and less like torture) I still had an awful time of it!  I even had Christmas Vacation on in the background to booster my mood and even that could not enhance my ironing experience enough to matter.   Oh and I have been nothing but nice to Irma.  I give her free drinks. I talk to her. I listen to her.  I ask her pertinent questions.   And I tell her personal stuff too.  Real personal stuff.  Irma could so easily blackmail me and make a killing at it!  Oh and the best part, from her perspective, is I barely ever use her!  She is pretty much a freeloader who gets free drinks and knows all my deepest secrets, but she still is unappreciative.  Irma doesn't have a demanding workload like Chester or Brenda either; I would totally understand if one of them had revolted.   Yet Irma continues to defy me.  She fails to cooperate and refuses to make Jeff's shirts wrinkle-free.  She gave me such difficulty in wrinkle removing yesterday, I had to have a drink (or three) just to get through the thankless chore of ironing. And I was really busy.  I don't have time for all her antics.

so after DOING all my stuff today including ironing, I stumbled upon this one on Momastery and thought to myself, AMEN...

And I went ahead and stopped doing stuff, took my pants off and went to bed.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Shirtless guys ROCK

Disclaimer:  I by no means, or any stretch of the imagination, pretend to be a parenting or marriage expert.  But I am a mom and a wife so by default I know a thing or two about these matters.  Someday I will share my infinite wisdom ...until then read on!

Anyhow, my very best parenting moments always to seem happen when I have an onlooking audience. I do best as a parent with an invested crowd, preferably in a public area that is kid-friendly.  When it is just me and the kids at home WATCH OUT because that is when the wrath of Mommy is often unleashed!  And unfortunately for whatever reason, my husband doesn't get to count as a spectator.  Why is this?  It seems like the kids can be wonderful right up until the moment he walks in the door; And then I run out of patience, the shit hits the fan, and things get ugly right just as he returns home from a hard day's work.  It is beyond frustrating.   (sigh)

More importantly though, why doesn't my husband notice when I am struggling as a parent and help? Or better yet, why doesn't he ride in on some dreamy white horse (or a brown one would do if he looked like this guy) with his chest well-oiled, wearing something seductive (or nothing at all) to sweep me off my feet and save the day?  He could so easily be like a knight in shining armor in these mommy struggle moments

and I would be so appreciative.... (Sigh again).

Oh what's that on your face?! I think it's drool!! Wipe it off and get back to my story would ya!

But I am not here to solve the parenting woes of the world today or to complain about my husband. I just need to vent momentarily and then move along to the rest of my story...Here we go!

So I sent Jeff school snack shopping last week at the Dollar Store. Unlike last time when I sent him shopping at Sam's Club, this time he didn't come home with every type of junk food known to mankind.  He did real good.  It was like a breath of fresh air, or a pair of matching socks coming out of the laundry, or a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.  REFRESHING.  I was tickled pink to get snacks for the kids and toothpaste without having to go to the store or adding any additional inventory to Chester!

Now speaking of junk food, I am simply blown away at the vast volume of junk food options available nowadays.  Seriously!? If researchers spent half the time they spend creating new junk food focusing on creating healthy options for people, the obesity problem would probably be solved.  There are so many kinds of candy and chips and crap out there in the great white grocery store abyss that I get overwhelmed and oftentimes find myself in the fetal position on the floor at Meijer; In fact, this was happening so frequently that I gave up shopping at Meijer all together.   I just can't handle it!  So tonight I fought back and bought the fixings for a nutritious salad!  I have eaten Kale salad every day since Thanksgiving!

 Kale, Apple and Cranberry Salad!  It's what's for dinner tonight!  Along with Venison Meatloaf, Roasted Potatoes, Corn and Biscuits.

So what do you get when you cross a super cool mom with the most forgetful, squirrel-chasing, idiotic person on the face of God's green earth? Why, ME of course! da dum!

PS My boss created a new spin on the traditional soup and salad combination! She went ahead and threw the rest of my latest batch of quinoa salad into her pot of squash soup!  Apparently it was delightful so the next soup day I have, I am following her lead and adding the salad directly to my soup!

PPS Rifle deer season is over and Jeff has gotten no deer.  This is both good and bad.  Good because now I might actually empty Chester and that goal was my driving force to creating this blog in the first place.  Bad because we might actually have to buy meat at some point during 2015.

PPPS  My brother-in-law got two deer so I am pretty sure they may have some venison for sale at some point in the future.

PPPPS  Of course then the Chester emptying is less likely to happen if I start buying more meat...

PPPPPS  Maybe we will just have to become vegetarians!

Vern Out

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lovely Rita


 Guess who arrived yesterday!?!  

Introducing our new vacuum, Rita Hoover Constantine.

Yes she is a ginger.  And yes she is a bit of a flake and a little too girly for my taste, but I love her ability to remove dog hair from our furniture!  Her hair removal talents have already had a positive impact on my husband's mood and our marriage. And that my friends is priceless!  So after just two days Rita already holds a special place in my heart.

You may be wondering what happened to Victor!?  You probably think I just threw him out in the trash or something. You probably think I am cold-hearted like that. Or if you know me at all, then you know I am a sensitive chick and I cry a lot and I would never throw a functioning vacuum out in the trash (even if it is special needs and doesn't work very well).  I would take it to Goodwill or Love Inc!  Well you'll be happy to know that Victor will continue to live in our home and be properly cared for and loved, but he will no longer carry the burden of trying to clean our nasty floors on a daily basis.  Yes, Victor is in semi-retirement.  He is taking golf lessons and brushing up his tennis game.  He'd like to travel and play cards as well.

On a somewhat related note, I now understand why my sister is addicted to Amazon.  I mean it is just so convenient and even technologically challenged people like myself can easily maneuver on Amazon. And the prices are so darn competitive.  So yes, Rita was a mail order vacuum (kinda like a mail order bride, but without the expectation of sex and the promise of a green card), but please don't judge her or me.  She had to get out of that vacuum factory. It was a real sweat shop and she was being treated very poorly; Even a life of servitude here in our hairy home will be a major improvement for her. And we all know I need all the help I can get managing my housewife duties. Rita arrived three days after we ordered her too! That is FAST!  And I wasn't kidding about my sister, she truly is a complete and total Amazon addict.  It was my listening to her describe her many Amazon shopping experiences that inspired me to try it out!  My sister is even a member of the amazon TP club!  She actually receives an automatic case of toilet paper on a regular basis (based on her family's specific demographics) without so much as a click of a button.  It sounds amazing so I may check it out!

Now speaking of buttons, Staples tag line, "that was easy" with the magic red button is a complete farse. It really is and it ticks me off!  For months now I have battled back and forth with Staples.  Their processes are not EASY in my opinion.  Today I finally had it with Staples and so I finally drove my butt to the local print company Verduin Printing in Grand Haven and well what I learned is that I should have taken that drive a long time ago because the employees at Verduin are nicer, the printing costs less and they have a real knack for problem-solving.  Staples made the process of trying to print double sided business cards in less than 72-hours seem impossible and their employees were not friendly nor helpful.  Verduin, on the other hand, was the best customer service experiences I have had in a very long time.  It truly was refreshing!

Switching topics suddenly and without warning, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays primarily because I LOVE to eat and secondarily because I LOVE to be social.  It is a holiday created just for people like me!  I will share a Cliff's Notes version of my Turkey Day experience to explain why this random salad picture is placed here.  So I drank some beer Wednesday night which led me to make a last minute change to my original plans. This change ultimately led to my winning the small race (as the winner I will be required to dress as Sacagawea next year when I run the race FUN).  Then I ate a TON of food.  Yes I ate my way through Thanksgiving focusing most of my caloric intake on dessert which was a buffet of home-made cheesecakes and finished off the day shopping at Walmart with my mother, aunt and brother-in-law!  I could've lived without the shopping experience, but the rest of the day was SPLENDID!

In an attempt to counter act the effects of all the cheesecake I have consumed in the past week, I have been eating fresh kale salad, green beans and sweet potatoes in record amounts.

Say cheese. No wait say "kale salad!"

And that my friends is how Rita came to live in our home and how I have been living the past ten days!  I will leave you now with this thought:  My favorite exercise (other than running) is a cross between a lunge and a crunch... I call it LUNCH!  Eat on my friends, Eat on!

Vern Out

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy Belated Trick or Treat yo!

At long last the rest of the Harried Halloween Fiasco...

Background Information:  It was supposed to be my perfect rescheduled date day. It was supposed to be all fun and games.  It was supposed to be dreamy and flirty and happy and all kinds of FUN.

Clarification:  Now to clarify it was a rescheduled date day with my husband and I. So stop it with the gossip spreading, I don't have a boyfriend (although I am still optimistic that I will get a hot Latino pool boy someday; first, however,  I suppose I should probably get a pool!!)

The Mission:  So anyhow on Halloween I had actually convinced my husband to go thrift shopping, out to lunch and then come along with me to the kid's school parties dressed up in costumes. I was McDonald's french fries again and this time he was to be my Big Mac.  My husband doesn't really do school holiday parties. EVER so this mission was a big deal.  It would be his first exposure to the world of SCHOOL HOLIDAY PARTIES!!It would most certainly be EPIC!

My Expectations:  It was all supposed to be magical, and fun, and high energy and absolutely PERFECT. You know, one of those memories we would all recall fondly for years to come; It was our defining moments as a family.  It wasn't.  Or maybe it was, but it was defining us differently than I had imagined: as an unorganized, emotional, rude, impulsive and ultimately at the day's end, resilient family.  I mean, I eventually ended up at the epic Hobbit party, dressed as Wendy and if that doesn't scream resilient I don't know what does!

How I imagined us all looking!

How we actually looked...
only remember I was also wearing a french fry costume.

Thrift Shopping and Fun:  We did successfully thrift shop for a couple hours.  We even managed to get lunch and we used up a coupon that had been stashed in my purse for well over a year. I don't know about you, but I sure do get a little adrenaline rush every time I use a coupon.  I love COUPONS!  And this one was for $10 off our meal!  $10 People not just a few pennies!!!  I got a serious RUSH using that one up!  We even had a swell time doing all of this stuff.  So things started off magical. The atmosphere was positively festive and fun!  This fantastic start to the day only fueled my expectations and the let down when things came unraveled.

The Party:  According to the letter I had read regarding the kid's party, we were supposed to be there at two. Mind you my husband never reads a single paper that has come home with our children so all paper-related responsibilities are mine.  So he had no idea what was going on and was merely following my lead.  Think blind leading the blind (poorly) and you get a feel for the situation. I was supposedly in charge of this gig and we were actually ahead of schedule when we left the restaurant and things were going well. I should have known then that things were going to crash and burn, but I was naive.  I was giddy.  So when my husband decided to take a detour and stop at our home because he had to use the bathroom, I wasn't too concerned.  When we arrived exactly when I thought we were supposed to arrive, the streets were lined with cars and the parking lot was packed full so my husband dropped me at the door because he is always so chivalrous and thoughtful like that (not, but this time he was).  As I entered the school, I was somewhat shocked at the number of kids in costume lining the hallways.  The further into the school I went, the more concerned I became that perhaps we were not arriving at the proper time.  Once I finally made it to Hazel's room, it was apparent (because the parade was starting) that we were in fact LATE. WTF!? I felt a million emotions all at once and...

The Fallout: I immediately slipped into psycho, emotional, not-with-it, mommy mode for about 30 seconds.  Took a deep breath and then I quickly helped Hazel into her costume.  Another mom who sensed my situation was dire, offered help so I sent the other two costumes with her in hopes they would find their way to our other two kids.  About this time Jeff showed up from parking the car and was probably in shock because he isn't great in crowds (especially of people he doesn't know and most of them are out-of-control children) and so he ignorantly asked "how are things going" and I completely lost it. Crying like a baby, lost it.  How could I have screwed up the Halloween Parade?  At that precise moment my husband decided to become unsympathetic and he said something along the lines of I can't believe you are crying right now and stormed off.  I cried on.  I felt like a failure as a mother and as a person in general.  I was so mad at myself because I have a long history of screwing things up as a mom (forgotten show-n-tells, lack of snow boots for the first snowy day and many other such situations) this time I had wanted to get it right.  And then I didn't.

Happily Ever After: And after all of that I did pull myself together and had an enjoyable time playing the game we had brought and handing prizes out to all the winners!  Jeff was the DJ and I was the super cool mom strutting around with the kiddos playing the super cool cake walk game I made a few years back when we were living for the year without television Year of no TV. And then I went and...

          This day I got it right!!!!  

Hazel turned 5 in mid-November and I crafted Tom the Turkey (above photo).  And that day all the kids and teachers and secretaries and custodians and other paraprofessional employees at the school thought it was AWESOME!  And for a brief moment, I felt like the mom who had it all together.

Vern Out


Monday, November 17, 2014

At least I Am Not Boring

Last week, I talked about cleaning mops and my pathological fear in relation to mops and arguably cleaning in general.  Well this is a follow-up to that story. Oh and I do have a long history with mops, just not the cleaning variety of mops.  You see, I used to be a member of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).  For over three years each month I loyally dragged my young children to our meetings through snow, sleet, rain or whatever else God and Mother Nature had cooked up for us.  It was a wonderful community of mothers facing the same daily challenges that I was at the time; and that is to say;diaper changing, butt wiping, dirty clothes washing, cheerio picking upping, parenting related challenges. The church that held our monthly meetings once did a group study entitled, "weird, because normal isn't working for me".  Each month that year when I attended MOPS I saw those signs and thought to myself, "So true, normal never really worked for me either". Well fast forward to the present time and you will find me being called weird by a friend when I responded to a question on Facebook.  Well I decided to take it as a compliment.  "Weird" is okay with me because the alternative is BORING or NORMAL and who needs that?! I certainly don't!

This picture sums it up pretty well!

So we survived the first visit from the cleaning lady and more importantly she survived the experience too! The last thing I need is a cleaning lady's death on my hands and given the state of our house, survival was certainly not a guarantee.  She did leave a detailed shopping list for me of the items that we don't own that she feels are necessary for proper cleaning to occur at our house so I must shop after all!  The second hand, rehabilitated mop that my husband fashioned was not acceptable to her standards either so she is going to bring her own high-quality mop along next time she mops!  At least I don't have to go shopping for one! 

Although I am actually requesting that she only mop monthly because the floors are so CLEAN.  And on tile CLEAN=SLIPPERY seems to be the driving equation. It is all I can do these days to walk around my house without falling flat on my ass.  Seriously, each and every member of our family has bit it on these floors (at least once) in the past 72 hours.  It is down right dangerous in our kitchen and dining room.  I don't want to beat a dead horse but, to give you a better understanding of the slipperiness, Friday when she was cleaning our house, I literally ran 12 miles atop ice and snow without falling at all. When I returned home, I immediately wiped out on our tile floor bruising both my elbow and my butt and I took my shoes off so there was no snow or ice involved.  My elbow may never be the same.  So the motto to this story is, "clean is not always better; And sometimes being clean is synonymous with being boring".

PS when Jeff and I went on our date day a couple weeks ago I saw another cool sign that read, "Freedom Tastes Like Guacamole".  Whoever works for Qdoba's marketing efforts and thought of this is absolutely brilliant!  It is so true and it actually made me want to eat at Qdoba soon!

PSS Onion rings are not my own guilty pleasure; I also LOVE TAYLOR SWIFT and I am LOVING her new CD.  It has a totally new sound to it and so many catchy tunes and it just makes me want to "shake it off" even if I am listening to the other songs!  Many thanks to my brother-in-law, Mark, for keeping me supplied with the very latest Taylor songs on a regular basis. YOU ROCK!

PSS I am still working on the kid's Halloween story.  I might have it ready by Thanksgiving, but...It's  Painful. Raw. Unedited. Real.  Frightening.

Vern Out

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Old man winter...

I was completely ill-prepared for this morning's snowfall.  Mice nest found in Kara's boots at 7:35 a.m. unprepared. How was that even possible? Mice nests in boots, I mean?   I do understand how mice build nests; I am a biologist for Pete's sake so I understand that a kid's boot is certainly ideal habitat for mice and other small rodents when it gets cold out. But how did we get mice nests in the boots and me not realize it until this morning? I don't get that.  As a result, it was a rough and challenging morning.

This is not the nest I removed from Kara's boot, but it the one that resembles it the most.

And I had heard the weathermen's warnings that snow was on the way so I should have been better prepared.  The problem was I didn't really listen too much to their predictions.  Weathermen get it wrong so often that I totally dismissed their advice.  I figured we would get a light dusting of the white stuff probably not until later in the morning after the kids were safely at school anyways and that all would be well.  Boy was I wrong!

This was all so ironic too because in *Bible Club this week we learned about the times in history when men have chosen to ignore God's words of advice;  it generally hasn't worked out well for those who ignore God.

PS Maybe it's a sin to call it Bible Club, but I like it.

Moral to this story is listen to wise advice especially from God and forget the rest!

*Bible club is what we have affectionately named our Bible Study because it makes it seem more about the FUN and less about the ACADEMIA and we believe spiritual growth should be FUN!  

Vern Out

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Mop Story Part Deux

I have forgiven my husband for all his idiotic doings of the past!  Every. Last. One. Even when he told me he sometimes ignores me when I talk because I talk a lot.  I even forgive him for that.  This recent boom of generous forgiveness happened because he solved the mop problem for me.  All the mop stress and anxiety is gone!  I slept for nine hours straight last night without any mop related interruptions.  It was AHHHMAZING!

Apparently yesterday while he was possibly doing drugs and definitely bored out of his mind, he actually listened to me when I explained that we had to own a mop by Friday because he went ahead and solved that problem too!  He fixed up a second hand mop that he has had hidden away for at least the past two years in his man cave, pole barn!  Who knew!!? I sure didn't.  Now I am left feeling betrayed, but thankful that the mop stress is GONE.  We have been married for nearly eleven years and I really don't even know the man.  Betrayal starts in simple forms people...first it is failing to mention that we own a mop and the next thing you know he has a cocktail waitress girlfriend on the side and her boobs are bigger than mine.  Just sayin'

Even with all of that, feeling betrayed about a mop, sure feels better than being stressed out about mop shopping.  Right or wrong I have forgiven him for the past and even for the mop deceit because I do feel it was likely a benign act. So I feel like our life together is finally starting with a clean slate and now possibly with clean floors too.  I am still a little upset the mop wasn't mentioned in previous conversations, but maybe he realized I was not going to use it so he felt it was useless information to share with me.  That is completely possible. Likely even because he knows how I feel about mops.

PS the adoption paperwork for the mop is in the works so once it is finalized I will be the proud mother of a mop!  There will be a formal announcement once we work through all of this adoption bureaucracy.  I tell you this process is quite involved.  You would think I was adopting a real kid or something!

That is all... no pictures just a quick update!

Vern Out

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Operation Fruit Kabob Turkey

Perhaps the only thing worse for this little no shopping challenge than me going to Sam's Club is...
... well it's my husband going to Sam's Club.

Lord help us; we may never empty Chester at this rate!

Today, since it was raining buckets and cold as heck, my husband headed to Sam's Club. He doesn't really grocery shop much so this was a big deal!  He had planned to spend the day in the out-of-doors: hunting and doing chores, but the weather was not cooperating. You see, he works for the County and those cushy County employees get Veteran's Day off. Me I had to work, but Jeff he had the day off!  And he had GRAND plans so he was not happy with Mother Nature and he must have been desperately bored (or possibly doing drugs) because he called and offered to do any chores I needed done.  He doesn't really call me EVER nor does he offer me assistance so the drug theory may be legit (just kidding).  Well, I went ahead and counted the offering as a blessing (initially) because he offered to help me. And he actually did what I asked of him... without complaint so in these regards it was a true blessing.

Yes, he got the supplies to create an amazing Fruit and Cheese Kabob Turkey for Hazel's birthday treat tomorrow. In an attempt to look like a mom that has her act together after the Halloween Incident (another story another day) I wanted to do a cool school treat. I hadn't yet made it to the store to buy the supplies so I did need them today.  SO SUCCESS!  He got the necessary supplies (fruit and cheese)! However, he strayed quite significantly from the list of approved shopping items on his Sam's Club outing:

Check it OUT!!!

In addition to fruit and cheese, he also bought fish sticks, fish fillets, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, chicken chimichangas and an assortment of chips. I think we may honestly have a bag of every type of chips that Sam's Club actually carries (no I am not kidding)! Wait this may be further support of the drug theory!!! He had a serious case of the MUNCHIES YIKES!!!  In total it was $120 of mostly processed foods. Even more disturbing, was the significant inventory deposit for Chester (our chest freezer). I was not so happy about this little development given that I am on a year-long mission to empty Chester and then Jeff goes and adds a bunch of junk to him.  What the heck!?

However, he redeemed himself when he helped me make this fantastic treat for Hazel's Fifth Birthday. Since I find myself once again an emotional wreck this week (because my baby is not just in kindergarten now, but she is also FIVE YEARS OLD). Can you believe it?  Five years!! I need all the help I can get this week because the speed at which life is happening these days is very sad to me!  And while the turkey isn't completely assembling at this time, it is coming along nicely. I feel confident that it will look just like the one I found on Facebook.

   Mine won't be this spectacular,I am just hoping it is half as cool!!!

Tom, the fruit Kabob Turkey!  Say Cheese, Tom!
 The kabob production.  I only stabbed myself once...and I made one with Smoked Gouda for Hazel's Teacher!

Close up: This shows the placement of the head in relation to the body!  SHEER PERFECTION! I totally nailed the turkey anatomy with this one!

Happy Veteran's Day Everyone!
Happy Birthday Hazel!  Mommy Loves you!

Vern Out

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mopping Nightmares

In my hillbilly cousin's words,  "So here's the deal"... I have to go mop shopping this week and it has me scared sh*tless.  Seriously I am freaked out.  Honestly, I would be less scared if I had to run blind-folded and naked through the tri-cities in order to save a life than I am about this mop shopping gig.  The fear has me nearly paralyzed, I am just lucky that I made it out of my house and into the office.  And mops have invaded my dreams too.  Last night one was chasing me around the back forty... I woke up completely exhausted because I was running from crazy mops all night long. It was torture.

Is anyone free to come be my mop shopping assistant?   I will buy you a coffee if you tag along and help me out!  And the good stuff too from Starbucks or Village Baker.

I believe my anxiety about this mop situation is likely rooted in the fact that I have never actually owned a mop. So obviously I have never shopped for one either.  This reality has left me feeling completely inadequate, unqualified and down right scared.  Except for a few jobs over the years, I have never even used a mop.  That's right, for roughly thirty years, I have avoided mops like the Plague or Ebola to more modern!  

I have gotten down on my hands and knees and scrubbed my floors by hand (at least twice a year) for as long as I can remember.  At times, I have scrubbed with knee pads on to protect my knees. When necessary, I have worn protective goggles to keep the chemicals out of my eyes.  I have scrubbed with old socks as rags, or old underwear when I was really desperate.  I have encouraged my children to wear old socks and mop the floors as they slid across the slippery tile (we only did this once because it was kind of messy and didn't really clean the floors very well but it was fun!) But I have never truly mopped our floors!  And just to be completed up front, I am not planning to start mopping them now either.  NOPE.  I may die never having mopped my floors and if I do I am totally okay with that.

But we are hiring a cleaning lady.  Can you believe it?!  And she said she will require a mop so I am now forced to mop shop.  This whole situation is largely due to the fact that my husband and I do not see eye-to-eye on cleaning standards.  He feels the floors should be clean enough to eat off on a daily basis and that dog hair is a problem.  While I figure if we don't have roaches and our feet don't stick to the floors (often) then we are doing okay.  I see the dog hair that is on most surfaces of our home as a sign that our pets are loved and well cared for.  Jeff disagrees.

So anyhow, any mop shopping advice that you have will be welcomed as I have to get one before Friday.  Friday is the mop deadline...

In the meantime, we had a party!
We wanted to make the house as dirty as possible before the cleaning lady starts so we get the most out of our money!

I baked the fancy pink camouflage cake for my youngest 5th birthday!  
Yikes I can't believe she is 5!

It was a camping themed party. So here are the Happy campers!

 The cake complete with campfire and tent!

Trail Mix for our hungry campers!

Happy Monday ya'll!

PS the one exciting thing about this mop snafu is that I get to name him or her and the possibilities are endless! A formal birth announcement is in the works!

Vern Out

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grease lightening!

I bet you thought I was going to write about the John Travolta movie right?  Based on the title, I totally would've too.  Well you are SO WRONG. Talking about John Travolta's Grease would be completely unrelated to my food blog and have you ever known we me to talk about things completely irrelevant?  Ok you have a point, I do that all the time, but I am so not all about talking about things completely unrelated to my blog TODAY.  Today I am going to stay focused; I am going to spend a brief time talking about grease and more importantly why grease is important.  So let's get started!

 Recently I earned a doctorate in the field of Fried Foods with a minor in Bacon Grease and Stuffed Jalapenos!  I know it sounds silly, but there was a ceremony and framed diploma so it's pretty legit.  Suffice it to say, I know a thing or two about grease!  Isn't it marvelous to be so well educated, about all things GREASY? Grease tends to have a negative connotation to it and is often blamed for such ailments as high cholesterol, obesity and heart attacks.  However, in moderation grease isn't so bad.  This Healthy Grease article talks about the many benefits of bacon grease and Olive Oil is even better for you!  I am not saying you should start drinking the stuff for breakfast or making it an everyday indulgence, but grease is okay in small doses.

One of my missions is to discover the best fried foods in West Michigan (I may have gone searching on vacation a time or too also).  Seems simple, but this takes true commitment; In order to do so I also have to be very committed to exercising so that I don't gain 300 pounds in the process and I have to be willing to experience occasional digestive discomfort. This is not just all fun and games.  So far, Turks has the absolute best onion rings in the world... possibly the universe although space exploration could prove otherwise in the future because I really don't feel NASA has focused enough effort searching the Milky Way for the best onion rings!  If you have never tasted a Turk's onion ring, please stop reading right now and drive directly to Turks to eat one and when you are stuffed so full of fried onions that you feel your stomach is about to burst come back...

Okay, All better now! You got your onion ring fix! (If you feel slightly bloated, that is totally normal.)  Great now I am here to tell you that a close second, in the realm of onion rings,  is The Stable Inn.  So the next time you are south of Grand Haven stop by to try those. We don't have time right now for you to go driving around to sample all the foods that it took me years to experience.  You will have to make a serious commitment like I did if you want to experience all of the best fried foods in West Michigan.

When I go out to eat at a new place, if the onion rings are home-made I have to try them just to see how they compare. So far from here to Alaska and all the way to D.C. I am yet to find a finer onion ring than the ones that are fried up less than two miles from my domicile at Turks.  This is both good and bad.  Good that their onion rings are so exceptional; bad that they are so close that I can literally be there to fetch my latest take-out grease fix in less than two minutes... To spare me further embarrassment, let's just say I am on a first name basis with most of the servers at Turks and leave it at that!  Last night I discovered another AMAZING onion ring at Pints and Quarts in Muskegon.  They are worth the drive!  I think I could probably spend the rest of my life driving around sampling onion rings and be pretty happy (as long as I got to run at least 3 times a week)...

So I have been really, really bad about dining on fried foods the past several months, but I have been really good about not shopping for unapproved items lately!  A girl can't be good all the time because that would just be BORING and I would have no stories worth sharing!

PS Grease is also very important to the proper functioning of automobiles and other motorized vehicles as well as to many mechanical systems although I honestly don't understand most of them very well.

That is all!

Vern Out

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trick or Treat

On the roadway of life there will be highs and there will be lows, the road will be rough and at times seem impassible, but the important thing is to always have your helmet ready and to always, always, always wear your seat belt! ~Vern

So apparently I am part Hobbit.  I was shocked too, but it I must be true.  I must have Hobbit in my genetic code.  It is the only reasonable explanation as to why I must eat every two to three hours.  Yes I eat at least seven times a day.  I mean I suppose I could be hypoglycemic since sugar issues run in my family, but I find the Hobbit theory much more likely and anyways it makes a much better story!  This recent discovery was made at a splendid Hobbit themed Halloween party I attended.  Now to set the stage, I am a Hobbit idiot. Seriously, I wasn't even sure about the correct spelling of Hobbit until I wrote this story!  I must confess I have never read any of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings books, nor have I watched a single Hobbit movie.  I am just not into the fantasy genre much. Until recently, I was completely unaware of Hobbits and their intriguing eating habits.   Prominently displayed on the fridge at the party was the following sign.

Hobbit Meal Plan:

1st Breakfast
2nd Breakfast
Afternoon Tea

...and in the few moments it took me to read this, my entire life suddenly made more sense.  It was a true moment of clarity.  I was a Hobbit, or at the very least a distant relative of the hobbits...and eating seven times a day was therefore normal!  This explains a lot.  Seriously, so much!  You could just go ahead and label this "Veronica's Meal Plan" and not make a single edit and it would be absolutely perfect. My husband is constantly picking on me for eating so frequently. It was a liberating discovering that I am not a "freak" as my husband often refers to me. When I announce that I am starving just moments after a five course meal, he almost always calls me a freak or some equivalent name. Good news, I am Not a freak, honey, just a Hobbit!

I had a most delightful time at the party too.  Great conversation. Great Food (regularly too I was there for both dinner and supper and both were absolutely fantastic!).  And Hobbits love BACON and you all know how I feel about bacon!  Let's just say I could easily be a vegetarian if not for the existence of bacon!   And there was even a birthday cake for Bilbo's 111!  We sang happy birthday!

The evening was truly enchanting so very enchanting that it almost inspired me to read the books. Almost.  Maybe I will read The Hobbit after I finish the memoir "Brain On Fire" by Susannah Calahan which is a true account of a reporter who suffered a rare brain condition.  But I am starting to stray so to get us back on track tighten your seat belt, I will need to take this corner fast...

Now, you never know when you are going to start your night as an order of McDonald's french fries and end it dressed like Wendy herself, but that was just what I did that night!

Would you like some fries with that frosty!?

No thanks; I am watching my girlish figure!

 When I arrived to my friend's dressed as McDonald's french fries, she mentioned that she had some other fun costumes if I was interested (apparently my french fry costume was not cool enough!) So before we headed to the party, I tried the Wendy costume on and immediately fell in love with that ridiculous red hair.  My entire life I have been skeptical of love at first sight.  I am now a believer!  I mean seriously how often do you get the opportunity to look this ridiculous and I have always wanted to try being a red head?!  I just couldn't miss out on that opportunity so off we went the most awkward pair: a stunning peasant girl and Wendy!  After the party, we thought about heading to Wendy's for a frosty because honestly we thought it would be hysterical, but we decided against it. Given my driving record and the amount of wine I had consumed, we figured we had better head straight home!  

Happy Belated Halloween All!

Vern Out

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Did you know the entire Friends sitcom will soon be available on netflix?  I suppose it was only a matter of time, but still I am somewhat surprised that people still want to spend time with Rachel, Monica, and the rest of our friends.  It seems so dated, but I gave up trying to understand pop culture a long time ago (back when parachute pants became popular).  And for those of you who do not know me, I am definitely not hip or trendy.  At least someone was brilliant enough to start the mismatched sock trend.  That is one fashion trend I can embrace fully for years and years!  For more on my views on the mysterious disappearance of socks visit my 2011 M-live story found here Lost Sock Theories.

I tend to feel about people much like Glennon Doyle Melton does and that is to say that I believe that we are all brothers and sisters.  Everyone is connected. Family even.  And so I love everyone.  I trust people to do the right thing.  I realize this makes me vulnerable to being taken advantage of and occasionally this has happened.  Sometimes believing that everyone is nice has bit me square in the a**.  However, most of the time it serves me well.  Generally speaking believing the very best in people is a fantastic way to live!  It is just who I am. No apologies or explanation needed.

We will get back to the friends topic in a moment, but first I forgot to tell you something really super important.  I forgot to tell you that I am not just all about junk food dinners and leftover frozen pizza; oh no, I am a much deeper person than that!  I actually recently did a health food day too!  That's right, for an entire day, I focused on all things healthy for my family. For 24 consecutive hours, we ate only foods that we had a hand in growing (we got a little help from our various relative's gardens too and the neighboring farm market). But, It was TOTALLY  AWESOME!!! 

 Fresh squash compliments of my sister's garden.
 Watermelon from the neighboring Mellema Farms!

 Fresh potatoes also from Mellema Farms.  That place is seriously ahhhmazing.

 Where did this impostor picture come from?...this is neither fresh, nor healthy.... not sure about this, but I shall investigate the matter assured. I will find out who was eating cookings and drinking coffee on our healthy day...This act will not go unpunished. 

It is also noteworthy that during healthy day we also ate eggs from our chickens, jam from my sister's stash of preserves, canned apple sauce and venison which was provided by my super sexy, hunter husband, Jeff!  On a somewhat related note, I plan to purchase a cheap pair of fake antlers to wear with my best lingerie in hopes of getting my husband's attention since we are well into the hunting season and I can't seem to catch his eye these days.  I will let you know how that works out for me... Hopefully I won't get shot!

My boys trying to wake up this morning which has nothing to do with my blog, but I just love that Stan and AJ are such close buds that they now sleep together amidst the mess that is the reality of AJ's room. Snug as a couple bugs in a rug (or in a messy 6-year old boy's room, but whatever)

Now back to the topic of friends. My strongly held belief in humanity and people in general recently cost me a close friendship. I won't lie, this situation made me question my stance on the matter. It was deeply upsetting to me and I have been wrestling with this the past few weeks. Thinking on it a lot. Ruminating the idea that maybe I was wrong. But you know what? After all this time stewing on this, do you know where I have ended up on the matter of humanity? Right back where I frickin' started!

That's right No matter how I slice it, puree it, or cook it up, I just give people the benefit of the doubt. I just feel that everyone is fighting their own battle everyday. Everyone is struggling at this thing called life and so I offer people grace on a regular basis. And no I am not perfect at this, but I do pretty well and I am constantly working on it. My default is optimism. I don't get road rage when people do dumb things while driving near me. Instead, I assume they are having a bad day or were preoccupied, not that they were out trying to ruin my perfectly good day. And I drive on happily. I do this benefit of the doubt thing with people consistently, probably to a fault, but I think the alternative is a lonely, awful, selfish way to live.

Without getting into all the details, I explained all of this to my dear friend and I apologized for inadvertently causing her anxiety and stress. Well long story short, she disagrees about people and believes I am naive. As such, she decided that we could not be friends anymore. It saddens me deeply and I hope that someday she will be able to see the world the way that I do. POSITIVELY. I see miracles in the simple everyday things (AJ and Stan snuggling amidst a mess of laundry and blankets (MIRACLE) or my girls sitting in awe as they watch the ballet perform their Halloween show at the library tonight (MIRACLE). I have other friends going through the very lengthy process to adopt children from Haiti because they feel driven to do so (MIRACLE PEOPLE)! I look at people often and am amazed by the generosity of others and the spark that makes each person unique. In these moments, I realize that if there really is a God out there (which I am starting to believe strongly that there is) then he is even more amazing than I ever imagined.

A,B,C (D) Breakfast You figure it out it's a riddle of sorts!
Close up a,b,c,d breakfast mug shot! In case you needed help figuring it out!

So I leave you with these words that are somewhat of a family mantra,  LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

Vern Out

key to ABCD Breakfast riddle A=apple, B=bagel, C=carrot, D=donut

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Everything is Awesome!

Completely seasonally appropriate, but also completely and totally unrelated to my blog, I ran in the Great Pumpkin Run today with Team AWESOME.  And let me just say, "it was Awesome!"  Check out the pics! It was such a positive, uplifting experience with friends and family.  I am so BLESSED!  I say this despite the fact that I pushed myself so hard that I thought I was going to puke, or possibly die a horrible death...

Preparing for the Great Pumpkin Run!  Kara make shifted me this shirt and as usual I fueled up with an Ecotrekbar.  The very best (and local) pre-workout food!  They are tasty, full of nutrients and vitamins and will get you through even the most demanding run!

 Lookin' Awesome!

The socks say "Team Awesome" but they have nothing on that Orange Suit Coat, Mark!

Switching topics, redneck roots are kinda like gray hairs, they are somewhat disturbing, but all things considered you are thankful for them because the alternatives aren't so great.  And heck I have them; the redneck roots that is, not the gray hair! Praise the Lord!  I might as well embrace them and get on with life. Yes, I actually have a fairly impressive hillbilly (the southern version of redneck) pedigree and a full blooded hillbilly cousin, Terry, who is something else!  He really is!  Let me start by saying I love him like crazy. CRAZY!  I really do, but he is a hillbilly breed all his own!  Despite the 800 plus miles that has typically separated us, we have always been quite close because he often spent summers living at our house to help on the farm.  Terry starts most sentences with, "so here's the deal!!!"  and this statement is said with his full blown, over-the-top, southern drawl and is often followed by, "so what I am fixin' to do is to take all ya'll to Walmarts"  It is a wild ride whenever you hang out with him.  A wild, fun ride!  You just never know what you are going to get!  So compared to him, I don't seem so damn crazy...But here in Michigan, I do realize I am the crazy one...Maybe that is why Terry and I have always gotten along so well!  We both have a titch of crazy in our blood!

 Pretty well sums up my life!

So what's this got to do with my pantry/freezer challenge?  Not a whole lot, but I wanted a good dedication this time around so Terry this Bud's for you!

Anyhow on the cooking home front things have gotten somewhat interesting again.  They generally do when I get creative and daring all at the same time!  I am cooking somewhat regularly and primarily with items that have been in my freezer or pantry for extended periods of time.  Much to my husband's surprise,I cleaned the fridge and pantry again this weekend to see where we are at with things and shockingly I found this...
 while you can't read the expiration date on this margarine which was purchased a very long time ago (I think Bush was still President) not sure which one... Anyhow without revealing too much horror, let's just say the the expiration date was prior to the birth of our youngest child and just leave it at that.  I threw that shit out...Now I am waiting anxiously, hopeful that Hazmat officials don't hunt me down because I am pretty sure that stuff was possibly lethal on contact. Man,  Ebola's got nothing on this ancient margarine I handled!  I sure wished I'd been clothed in full on Level 4 contagion gear!  Speaking of Level 4 contagions, I recently reread The Hot Zone by Richard Preston.  It is a book of true accounts of various outbreaks of Ebola.  The year I was born was a very active Ebola year and there have been accounts sprinkled throughout history for the past 40 years.  If you are freaked out about Ebola DO NOT READ THIS BOOK.  If you are like me: eternally curious, love science and have a strong stomach, read it soon because you will LOVE IT.  I may read it again before I return it to the library.

Then tonight Kara and I made a batch of Karla's Famous Home-made Mustard and shortly after starting the stuff simmering a little bit splashed up into my right eye; it burned like Hell (or at least like what I imagine Hell would burn like) and I may have sworn a couple of times before frantically submerging my entire head under the faucet in order to rinse my eye.  Being witness to the ordeal, Kara was freaked out and ran out of the room upset.  I rinsed on because I was concerned about permanent eye damage and I figured I could do damage control with Kara once I knew I was not going to become the next One Eyed Willy.  She returned a short time later wearing a pair of shades ready to safely cook on....Smart Girl!

Future's so BRIGHT she has to wear shades!
So the mustard is now chilling in our fridge, I am writing for "all ya'll" while occasionally talking to myself and Jeff is snoozing in his chair.  Life is really good!

Vern Out

Friday, October 17, 2014


Chasing squirrels is something that I absolutely LOVE to do!  I am definitely an idea person. As such, I am constantly infiltrated with slightly crazy ideas that pop into my mind at the least opportune moments, oftentimes taking my attention away from the present conversation or task at hand. I can admit that this reality is less than ideal, however, I find myself unable to change this reality so I try to just roll with it!  In fact, I am so easily distracted that sometimes I feel like I am Dori in Finding Nemo!  I just have to recite, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming swimming" to get through my most challenging squirrel moments!
Selfie...Vern Style

And this practice of reciting that fun verse is somewhat helpful, but I do chase on!  There is truly no crazy/ambitious/quirky/wild/ridiculous/outrageous idea that is too far out there for me...


As far as cooking endeavors go this week, I have cooked up all kinds of yummy stuff!  Once I got back in the saddle, I just felt like cooking (and writing) a lot so the family is happy to have had real food every single night this week!  

However, I recently experienced a situation when chasing squirrels was not quite so fun; that instance was when it was a literal interpretation of the "chasing squirrels" phrase and I found myself at the wrong end of a leash being dragged by an energetic dog with a hell of a lot more strength and ambition than I had at the particular moment... chasing a fuc*ing squirrel. Like a furry rodent, not an crazy idea.  In that instance, I don't really like squirrel chasing at all. So the take home lesson from this experience was: don't volunteer to walk my friend's dog unless I want to experience breathtaking, back breaking, rodent style, squirrel chasing.

PS The silver lining to this one was that I ran my fastest (so far) 5K time 24:02.  Next time I chase squirrels I hope to break into the 23 minute time frame!

Vern Out

Monday, October 13, 2014

Gouda and Guacamole Redemption

I am starting fresh.  I junked all of those other six partially created posts and I am going to just start over.  It is a good old fashioned "do over". I hope I don't disappoint!

Random thought of the day:  I have to quit letting my four-year old do my hair before I go out into public. This is important because I tend to forget that she has done my hair and then find myself wondering if my fly is down or my nose is dripping snot (or something worse) when I am talking to people because they have a hard time focusing on my face with all the crazy hair going on...But it is just so much FUN to play beauty parlor and beauty is in the eye of the beholder right?!

Anyhow, today I completely kicked my own arse by running nine miles on trails at a pace much too fast for my own good.  I shall pay for this the next couple of days.  Right now I am sitting here barely able to move, yet feeling quite accomplished.  I guess nothing comes without a price even a good RUN!  And not only did I kick my own arse running, but I also managed to cook my family a real meal!  It was truly SHOCKING to them because dinner the past few weeks has been meager at best.  Pathetic in reality.  We have had frozen pizza, leftover frozen pizza, junk food dinner night (let's just say our cholesterol levels all rose considerably that evening) and off brand, macaroni and cheese out of a box to name just a few of the horrifying dinners that I have served up in the past month.  I have just been uninspired in the kitchen lately.  It is quite sad because I generally enjoy cooking and lately it feels like a chore.

Tonight I redeemed myself ever so slightly though.  Check it out!  For the filling, I combined chicken, cream cheese, salsa, black beans and smoked gouda cheese (in the grown-up version) and co-jack cheese (in the kid's variety)
Of course redemption came in the form of GOUDA!

Then I wrapped it all up in whole wheat tortilla and baked them!  Delicious!  The gouda was the perfect compliment to the other flavors and made it unique.  I whipped up a batch of fresh guacamole  to put on top and voila dinner! I think my entire family would agree, it was absolutely magical.

Gouda and Guacamole Mexican Mess Enchiladas!

So I feel like I am back in the saddle; on the mend; amid an upswing or whatever else descriptively means that you are starting to heal.  Life is definitely looking up and who knows maybe I will even be able to get out of bed unassisted in the morning.  I doubt it, but maybe...

PS Most important update: Dad is doing great and he is still not smoking!

Vern Out

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dancing through the storms of life

Writing is a challenge lately.  I have started 6 stories in the past couple weeks. Six stories, that I have not been inspired enough, or focused enough, to finish.  What is wrong with me!?  Maybe I am losing it.  Maybe I never had it.  Maybe I need to call a counselor!  Maybe I need a margarita!? Maybe... Just Maybe!


This is all very strange for me because I don't usually have this problem. I generally can write without a whole lot of effort;  A need to make stories longer, or more complete, is not something I typically handle.  We all know I am long winded and excessively descriptive!  We all know I sometimes should just shut up!  I am sure you have all thought, "Is she ever going to stop writing?" at various times in the past, or maybe at this very moment!  But this is not my reality today.   Today I am somewhat speechless, or wordless...and writing is a challenge, but I shall try to express myself. I will try.

While I am not a trained therapist, I think my recent writer's block is related to my dad's heart attack.  On September 19th my father had a heart attack.  His heart actually stopped and they had to shock him back to life!  He received a stint and is physically doing well. He is expected to make a full recovery, but things have changed and there is no going back. Perhaps the biggest change, after 45 years as a smoker, my dad quit smoking. I am so proud of him for this, but I find myself worrying that he won't be able to stick with it!  I have never been a smoker so I don't truly appreciate how difficult this time is for him, but I do have my personal experience struggling to recover after my brain surgery so I do understand that emotionally he is in a very challenging and scary place. And while he is facing this difficult time, he is absent of one of his regular coping mechanisms-nicotine.  And that sucks for him.  It just does.

So it is weird right now. I know that given the circumstances for now "weird" is probably normal, but it is still weird. When I see my dad, even though I try not to, I find myself wondering if it will be the last time I see him.  When I hug him, will I never hug him again?  And my mom! I know she is scared and hurting, but she isn't talking much about it.  They are both trying to be strong and brave for us kids.  There is no way for me, or any member of our family, to return to the time before his heart attack.  So we must all forge new paths forward and deal with it in our own ways.  I run. My sisters are canning a lot and my brother is involved in football and teaching so he is keeping busy.  I guess this healing process must be taking all of my creative energy these days and that is why writing is such a challenge.  Other than my brain surgery in 2007, my family has not dealt with such serious health issues. And this time I am not the patient; this surprisingly makes it both easier and harder all at the same time.  It is just hard. Life is just hard.                                                                                                                                                                                                    
And it just keeps going...

even when your dad has a heart attack; you forgot show and tell (again); or you go to the store to buy cool whip and come home with everything but the cool whip while your husband looks on wondering if you've finally lost your mind. Life Goes On people! It just does!

So I guess what this all boils down to is this: life's catastrophes/challenges/emergencies/heart attacks/brain surgeries/(insert your own personal struggles here) they are important.  As much as I hate to admit it, these tough times really are important because they cause us to pause, to re-evaluate how we are living and to decide if we need to make changes.  What I have decided is that

There is something about dancing that ignites my soul and brings my body to life! I need to be better about dancing amid the storms of life.  Sometimes I do well.  Sometimes I bravely head out to dance in the raging storms of life and other times I hide like a coward inside the routine of normalcy and the predictable and I wait for the storm to pass. Sometimes I am brave and sometimes a total chicken. What I have learned is this:  It is the rare moments when you are scared sh*tless and you take the plunge despite your fear that lead to the most rewarding moments in life. Be brave, have faith and dance in the hurricanes of your life and I will try to do the same!

PS next time I hope to have my sense of humor back and not be so darn emotional!

God Bless!

Vern Out