Nov 12, 2018

A Rainy November Day in Alabama

Pretty fall leaves on my front deck.

This morning I sat listening to the rain hitting the tin roof of the small two bedroom trailer my three youngest kids and I live in. I love that sound. It takes me back to my childhood on Oma's back porch in Florida. Now my daughter is waking up. I had about 3 hours to myself, which is unheard of, and she comes into the living room with a huge smile, messy hair, and chirps "Good Morning!". I love her sleepy smile. It didn't take long for Darian to wake up and join us. The day begins.

Breakfast for them was cream of wheat. My mom will be proud. (I'm laughing at the memory and the line Mama tried from Merle Haggard's song of the same name which is running through my thoughts.) I had pickled beets because I love them and don't need an excuse to eat them. They learned that cream of wheat is actually made from wheat which led to a discussion of why, as a diabetic, I can't eat it, a reiterating what carbs are and how they break down into sugars.

After they ate we went outside in the rain and took off the plant coverings. (We covered the plants last night to protect them from frost). We talked about how important it is to protect them and to take care of them so that they can take care of us. We picked a few more green beans and added them to the bunch my mother brought over. We looked at the herbs and discussed what can happen if plants are over watered. Then we picked a few leaves of lettuce to give to the guinea pigs for a treat as their cage was cleaned. I munched on a few too.

Shortly afterward I minced half an onion and added it to a little oil and cooked them till translucent. I added all the green beans we were given and a few that had come from our own little porch garden. That made the kids happy and want to discuss how exciting it was to finally start getting cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and a green pepper on top of all the herbs we've been enjoying. We will be having the green beans with meatloaf and roasted okra for dinner.

We read quite a few library books today as they are due and we've been slacking. They really enjoy the Help Me Be Good series by Joy Berry. Today we read about being rude, lying, and interrupting. I enjoyed discussing with them how they can do better when they are tempted to act out and how they should respond when they are faced with it from someone else. Molly Saves the Day from the American Girl series was like pulling teeth at first, but when she realized that the girls, while made up, are based on history they both perked up. Since Molly was based on summer camp, we got to talking about all the different things kids do there. Darian made the connection with scouts and we talked about how David and Dustin were both cub scouts and that I was a girl scout for a short time. Since Molly took place in the 40's that led to WWII discussions, especially Normandy. We also read about Squanto and how he helped the pilgrims. The kids learned that his entire family had died from a disease. We then talked about diseases we brought to the Native Americans and how ungrateful we were to the very people that helped us survive those first years. They learned about the three sisters (squash, corn, and beans) and how they kept us alive, and how to put dead fish in the ground to help fertilize the crops. All in all, we covered quite a few topics that we all enjoyed.

Around four we headed to the library just to find out they were closed for Veteran's Day. Which of course meant we talked about veterans again today while we put our books in the drop-off. Since David went to hit a few Pokemon Go stops we let the kids swing on the swings for a little while and CJ finally decided to learn how to push herself. After a while, they came off and we looked at the creek that was flowing quickly and higher than what they are used to. I asked why they thought that was the case and we learned about how rainfall effects creeks and rivers which led to white water rapids, and even whirlpools. We quietly watched squirrels scamper about hiding nuts while Darian complained that it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet so why is Millbrook putting up Christmas lights in the park already. I asked him why it bothered him since it meant we could enjoy them for longer. He saw my point and remembered how much he's looking forward to seeing them again this year. CJ, of course, is excited because Christmas lights mean her birthday is that much closer. When it got a little too chilly to just stand around we looked for David and went back to the car.

We could have easily headed home, but I had a little more gas than usual in the tank this late in between pay periods so I offered to take David to a few more Pokemon Go stops. He was able to hit a few he'd never been to before and we all enjoyed each other's company. The kids played Pokemon "real life", a game they made up pretending they were pokemon trainers where they battled and caught rare pokemon. The rain and lightning spawned water and electric types for the kids, but David had more fire types than anything from the actual app. We were headed to Prattville so he could hit a few more, but it was getting late and I was starting to feel off so we headed back home so I could test my glucose and get dinner made. My levels were great, buuuut I was dehydrated....too much coffee and not enough water will do that.

Speaking of dinner, some pretty amazing smells are coming from the kitchen right now. I wish you all well. Pax.

Nov 6, 2018

Diabetic Cooking with links to free Kindle cookbooks

Since being diagnosed in August life has been crazy trying to get used to new routines, knowing what to do with both high and low blood sugar, medications, and learning a whole new way of eating. One of the most frustrating aspects is the constant monitoring and I've been doing a lot of research on different ways to keep my glucose under control using both online and with more traditional resources. (Digging through the deleted books at the library and scanning thrift store bookshelves is traditional, right?) In my case low carbing it is what works best for controlling my blood sugar. (resisting the urge to call blood sugar BS.....sigh) Anyway, there is a ton of information out there and even more recipes and cookbook on the market than you can shake a stick at, BUT so many of them call for expensive ingredients or are just not practical for a busy family. It just isn't affordable when our grocery bill just spiked because of all the vegetables and meats I have to cook. (I really had no idea how heavily I leaned on cheap carbs to stretch a meal.) I've found no matter what kind of cookbook or recipe I use I end up making adjustments more often than not. A few easy to implement things are substituting riced cauliflower for rice or spiralized veggies for noodles and for the most part, they are really good, at least my kids and I think so. That's a whole 'nother post though.

When I filled up the car with what squeezed between the kids, the guinea pig, the puppy and myself in our move from Coal Country PA back to Bama I had to leave many things I love. My prized cookbook collection was one of the hardest to let go. (Many of my books were well over 100 years old and only family heirlooms hit harder.) As a result, I've had to find new (to me) cookbooks either by borrowing them from the local library or finding them in their deleted bin, two that I've included were gifted. I have also found the free books for the Kindle app a HUGE help and the internet a great source of even better recipes. While I'd dearly love to walk into Books-A-Million and buy cookbooks to my heart's content it just isn't doable in my current situation so I use what's available to me in my price range. (That would be free 99.9% of the time.) I've listed below the books and recipes I have found helpful in hopes to help someone else.

(Free Vintage Cookbooks)

Many Ways for Cooking Eggs (a HUGE help for those of us that get sick of hard boiled eggs all the time)
A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes
California Mexican-Spanish Cookbook
Miss Parloa's New Cook Book
Vaughn's Vegetable Cook Book - this one is an excellent source

Along with the old-fashioned cookbooks, there are few modern ones that have helped me get find recipes I enjoy and they are by and large much easier to navigate than the older ones. (Often older cookbooks will not have temperatures or even amounts as it's assumed the reader has at least a basic understanding of cooking.)

(Free Modern Cookbooks)

Ketogenic Fat Bomb Recipes
Cooking for Diabetics
Keto Diet for Beginners 2019
97 Low-Carbohydrate Recipes for the Slow Cooker  - a busy mom's must
Easy Keto Desserts Cookbook
The Clean Eating Cookbook


 Autumn Calabrese's FIXATE Cookbook - love this one! It's not low-carb and I can't afford the Shakeology anymore (wish I could!), but still a GREAT source.
The Good Housekeeping Cookbook (1963) - this one I have to work with, but still a few gems
101 Delicious Diabetic Recipes - I actually tweak a few in this one also to make them even lower carb
Receipts from Lickskillet Farm - lots of tweaking in this one, but it calls to my southern roots so I keep it and I play :)

(Individual recipes I make routinely)

Roasted Okra from Wellness Mama - we never have leftovers and there never seems to be enough
Twisted Biscuits and Gravy - no actual biscuits and tastes like a breakfast scrambler
German Baked Apples - half an apple equals one serving, gotta watch this one
Cauliflower Crust Pizza - I use a variety of toppings, but this is the crust I like most
Ham and egg cups - quick and easy

Aug 27, 2018

Diabetes - The Start of a New Life

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Seven days ago I was taken to the ER because I thought I was having a stroke. My eyesight was fuzzy and tunneled. My head felt like someone was pushing between my right temple and eye socket with all their force and my whole head felt like it was in a vise. Walking was almost impossible because I had to grab things to keep steady and I was leaning heavily to the right. The brain fog was the worst though it felt like I was walking in a mirror image of what I knew. (Opening my back door expecting to see the bathroom was my wakeup call.) I was scary calm. I knew something was wrong and that panic would just make it worse. I don't remember much about the ER except hearing someone say they don't see how I walked in, my kids, my kids are how I walked in. My blood pressure was through the roof, my thyroid was messed up, and my blood sugar was 500. I walked in because I didn't want to scare my kids any more than they already were.

I was in the hospital for three days and three nights. I prayed a lot that first night, just whatever my heart went to and I cried a lot, not sobs, but just a steady flow of tears. I didn't know if I was still living in PA or if I had actually moved back to AL, the view from the room of treetops and rooftops didn't help the confusion, calming as it was. My son had to send me a text reassuring me of where I lived, that the kids were fine and with him and a family friend. I remembered enough after a while when the panic hit to look at the text from David. I asked questions I don't remember the answer to now and I made it a point to do what the nurses and doctors told me. (Hold on, I need to check my sugar level. I'll be right back.) Let me tell you being put on fall risk is a pain in the butt, literally, your bottom gets numb and you have to keep shifting to stay comfortable. I was on it for a little over two days and it was the pits. I hated having to call someone to help me pee. I'm just glad I knew a little about nursing so I'd call when the urge first hit in case they were busy. My discomfort is nowhere near as important as someone's life. Codes happen and lives can and will be easily lost by a delayed response. The best part of it though was I WAS HEARD! I was listened to for the first time in over a decade of dealing with doctors. If I was judged it was not shown by anyone, not from the doctors, not from the nurses, and not even by the cleaning staff. Being heard has been huge for me. I've had some very bad experiences with doctors. I hated being in the hospital, but it was nice to be taken seriously.

Now, now I'm home and writing again. My blood sugar is up, and I've since learned of two foods which cause a spike, which is part of it. I've been looking on Pinterest, Facebook, and other places for information, meal plans, and support trying to learn all I can about my new life with diabetes. My kids are adjusting (that's a whole different blog post) and so am I. I'm alive. I'm better than I was, and I'm taking it one day at a time.

Jun 19, 2018

Ida's Pie

Ida, one of my PA heart babies LOVES this pie.She (half) jokingly asked me to make her one and since I still had the ingredients for it, I agreed. It shocked her, but she is worth it. (I don't think she really thought I'd do it!) It's been 'Ida's Pie' since. It is actually a Bavarian pie and the recipe I used is from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook 1963 printing. The picture above was made with chocolate chips instead of shaved chocolate because I have a daughter that even now knows all my secret chocolate stashes. (I have noooooooooo idea where she gets it.........cough! cough!) I also use a store bought crust instead of making one from scratch most of the time, but a nut crust is my favorite (especially if it's pecan).

Chocolate-Flake Bavarian Pie
(Good Housekeeping Cookbook 1963)

9" Baked Crumb Crust, Nut crust, or baked pie shell (I usually use graham cracker crust, pre-made)
1 env. unflavored gelatin
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3 egg yolks
1 1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract (I have used rum extract with good results)
3 egg whites
1/2 to 1 c. heavy cream, whipped (do it by hand, it's much better that way)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 square unsweetened chocolate (I usually just used my favorite dark chocolate as I almost always           some on hand)

Combine the gelatin, 1/4 c. of sugar, salt. In double boiler top, beat egg yolks; stir in milk, gelatin mixture. Cook over hot, not boiling, water, stirring, until custard coats the spoon. Stir in vanilla. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds when dropped from spoon. Beat until just smooth. Beat egg whites till fairly stiff; gradually add 1/4 c. sugar, beating until stiff; fold in custard, whipped cream. Turn into shell; sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate until set. Serve with shaved chocolate on top. (The recipe says you can use the whipped cream as a topping instead of folding it into the pie, but we prefer it folded in.)

I wish I had a better picture, but they never lasted long enough for me to get one, and the only other one I took had Ida with a grin from ear to ear pretending to lick the whole thing. I wish I could find that picture! We always had a blast cooking together.

Jun 15, 2018

When They're Sick - Homeschooling Mama Edition

We all have those days we are under the weather and homeschool kids aren't any different. The good news is we don't have to worry about how many days they stay home before getting a doctors excuse if they are sick for more than 24 to 48 hours. At home, they can rush to the bathroom, lay on the couch, drink during lessons, and take naps during the day without having to worry about repercussions or interrupting an entire classroom. Almost a decade of homeschooling has taught me a few things that I hope you find as helpful as I have.

1. Sleep!
Let them sleep during the worst of it. If they want the couch to let them sleep there, the (clean) floor in the bathroom, their floor, their bed, any bed, it doesn't really matter as long as they are getting the rest their body needs during the worst parts of it. My oldest used to sleep on the kitchen floor a short distance from me while my mom or I cooked. We all knew where he was and it got to where we'd just automatically step over him. (We looked like idiots after he moved, but hey it's a small price to pay.) Let them nap in front of an open door or window for fresh air if they want. You know them and their habits, what is a comfort to one isn't always to another so don't worry to much if their favorite napping spot seems odd.

2. Internet
Using Netflix or YouTube is a great way to continue learning without overloading them once they are on the mend. Netflix for the documentaries is especially nice, but if they aren't feeling up to a full-length movie I'll pop over to YouTube for sound bites. YouTube is amazing. You can find any topic you want from how to math equations to read aloud books and stories. There are quite a few channels that have hours long videos of nature sounds, classical music, and other soothing sounds. It really helps keep the atmosphere relaxing if they aren't up for learning just yet.

3. Online Radio
Much like the YouTube music channels, it's great for those rough days where all they want to do is sleep. I just type in whatever music they studying and they can listen while they drift in and out of sleep. Our favorite is Pandora.

4. Read To Them
Reading aloud is also a great way to keep the gears running when they are feeling puny. It is also one of their favorite comforts. Just read a few extra chapters from whatever chapter book, the Bible, maybe a little bit from some of their readers, or even a few poems. Sometimes I'll read articles from their favorite magazines also. Sometimes they just need the sound of our voice to know we are there.

5. Books/Reading Material
I keep their favorite reading materials close to them so that they can pick up and read when they want to on their own without stressing. This counts in their reading logs.

6. Education Aids
Flashcards and lesson books are kept nearby once they are able to start working for short spells or if they want to in between naps. My daughter loves her dinosaur flashcards and will look at them for hours if given half the chance. When she's sick I give her free reign with them. Lessons are added gradually and in short bursts depending on how they are feeling.

7. Tablets
Playing educational games on the internet or tablet is a great way to get in short lessons. The kids use them for review and quick skill boosting moments. I will let them play Minecraft a lot more when they don't feel well. Sometimes I have them build a historical home or monument, sometimes I get them to do simple math. Other times I'll let them have fun and build an original piece in creative mode or play in survival mode for a short time for problem-solving.

8. Heath Lesson
Learning about their illness on the internet or in books is one of the things the kids really seem to enjoy. Let them look up their health problems and find the root causes, treatments, and so on once they start. Encourage curiosity, just keep watch so the common cold doesn't become stage IV cancer and an inoperable brain tumor. (We've all done it.)

9. Team Effort
My favorite homeschool activity isn't really an activity at all, it's more a life lesson. When one feels under the weather the rest band together as a team to help the downed player. They learn empathy, family traditions, and cooperation. Nothing and I do mean nothing makes me feel as good as seeing my youngest pull a blanket up over someone she loves and offer her favorite dolls, or my oldest stopping by (he lives with my mom) to check in on everyone and bring soup or breadsticks from work and/or a cup of hot coffee for mom. It's even better when he runs out to pick up cold medicine or other supplies we might need. (Gatorade runs are amazing!) My second son making the hot herbal teas or a quick bowl of canned soup we use in a pinch makes my day and that of his sick sibling. When my youngest son looks up remedies or ways to help comfort, even if it's just trying not to laugh videos to lighten the mood it helps us all. My oldest daughter (my first heart baby) asking me to teach her how to make my homemade chicken soup so she can pitch in for us the way we have for her never fails to make everyone feel better. When Gran stops by with brat diet goodies and they listen to her in RN mode it helps knowing she is making sure they are doing what they need to, I'm doing what I need to, and her wisdom brings comfort and security. We all have learned the "if Gran isn't worried, we're good" lessons in life. They see teamwork, cooperation, and most of all they see and feel the love they need in order to get well in a safe and supporting environment. That is the best medicine of all.

Jun 14, 2018

bai Kula Watermelon - Product Review

We've all been there, the checkout line, absolutely dying to get home. It's hot outside and you just know the car is 1002°. Those drinks in the cooler are looking better and better. The other day, when my PA acclimated hiney was stressing in this AL heat I grabbed a Kula Watermelon bia. Soda makes me sick when it's too hot and this looked so pretty! It was pretty good, but not amazing good. Will I get it again? Probably not at the price it was. There are drinks I prefer to this one, but if someone handed me one or if it was this or a soda I'd go for it. It uses erythritol and stevia sweeteners instead of sugar. I, unfortunately, tend to be sensitive to sweeteners, thankfully this one didn't bother me outside of the mild aftertaste. Nothing to bad and for 10 calories per bottle, yeah, I can handle it. I also didn't realize it had caffeine in it before I downed it, because frankly, I didn't read anything on the label I just saw the pink liquid and went 'OOOOHHHHH PRETTY', exactly the same way my daughter did her blue tropical punch drink right there with me. Impulse buying at it's finest ladies and gentlemen. Not proud of it, but it is what it is.

It has 35 mg of vitamin C and of course the 100 mg of antioxidants advertised from coffefruit and white tea extracts. It was very refreshing and it didn't have an artificial watermelon flavor at all despite the aftertaste. In fact, I was impressed with how natural the watermelon taste was even if it was a tad watered down. That said I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a flavored water or not, but it does come across a bit watery if it isn't. It wasn't super sweet, which is good in my opinion, especially when dealing with the heat. Overall, I'd give it a 5 out of 10, and one of the biggest factors is the price. 

Jun 2, 2018

Parenting Truths - Teen Boy edition

Used with fact, he's getting a kick out of it.

I've been a mom now for over 20 years. My oldest three are all males. (Prayers are always appreciated.) Here are a few things I've learned over the years concerning them.

  1. They stink. They hit puberty and *horrormoans hit them with BO. Do NOT sniff their laundry. I repeat do NOT sniff their laundry. You WILL gag.
  2. They stain things. (Actually, this never goes away and starts at birth, only the stains change.) Buy the good detergent, and get fabric softener. 
  3. They fight. Dominance will be determined one way or the other. Hopefully verbally, probably not entirely.  
  4. Show no fear. You show fear and it's over. Chances are if they aren't taller than you, soon they will be.
  5. They will scare you with the stunts they pull. If you're lucky it will be skateboarding. If you are me it will be skateboarding down Killerhill, without a helmet, no glasses, and idiot friends cheering them on or worse parkour from one roof-top to roof-top.
  6. Housework won't kill them. They will swear it does and they will sound like they are dying. They won't. Invest in earplugs.
  7. They can cook more than Hotpockets and pizza rolls. Make them cook a meal once in awhile. 
  8. They can and will use their cooking skills to impress girls. Try not to laugh at the memory of them whining that none of their friends cook, and how stupid it is for a guy to cook.
  9. Grunting. It's a thing. You can usually get the gist of what they are trying not to communicate if you listen despite their best efforts.
  10. The side eye. It will manifest. Nip it in the bud. It's your first clue an attitude is fixin' to happen.
  11. They remember everything. They use this skill with the art and talent of a Michelin star chef with shaved truffles. Basically, when life gets boring they remind you of when it wasn't.
  12. Pizza is a food group. Period. 
  13. The time they spend on their hair and grooming before a date doubles that of a teen girl in an average week.
  14. Axe. It's evil. They can and will overuse it. You will get headaches. Fresh air, find it.
  15. You will swear they have shoes everywhere. They don't. It's the same pair they wear every day. They are just so huge that no matter where they put them you will trip.
  16. They still like fart jokes. Having a girlfriend that likes fart jokes is called a keeper. Same with burps. A girl that can outdo them is "wifey material". 
  17. Video games are now a permanent part of your life. You may never pick up a controller, but you will know more about Call of Duty and Skyrim than you ever wanted to.
  18. They eat and I do mean EAT. When they open the freezer after you've just spent over $200 and complain there is nothing to eat remember deep breaths...deep breaths. and repeat "I love my children." as often as needed until the blinding rage subsides.
  19. Insults are not insults around friends. It's how they bond. The meaner/deeper the cutting remark the deeper the trust. Apparently, it's an art form. Headlocks and pulled punches are especially appreciated.
  20. Having one is amazing, having multiple teen boys is a blessing. They will break your heart when they ache over their first break up. They will melt your heart when you see them helping a younger kiddo. They will lighten your heart when you see them goofing off with each other, especially if they are brothers. They will fill your heart with pride when they start to step out of childhood habits and start to take up adult responsibilities. They will make your heart overflow with love when they look you in eye and say 'thanks' and you know it's so much more.
Yup, teen boys, I wouldn't trade any of mine, biological or otherwise for all the money in the world. As my daughter used to say, 'they are better than chocolate!'. 

*horrormoans - pronounced horror - moans, the made-up word I use instead of hormones.