Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Oz Principle and Don't be Afraid of the Word NO!

At work, we are reading this book called The Oz Principle, it’s a voluntary book club and we will have discussions throughout the reading of it, but I read the beginning of Chapter 1 and I see something that I believe in and voice a lot but never thought to find it in a book called the Wizard of Oz. It really opened my eyes. 

     “Who are you?” asked the Scarecrow when he had stretched himself and yawned, “and where are you going?” 
     “My name is Dorothy,” said the girl, “and I am going to the Emerald City, to ask the great Oz to send me back to Kansas.”
     “Where is the Emerald City?” he inquired; “and who is Oz?”    “Why, don’t you know? She returned, in surprise. “No, indeed, I don’t know anything. You see, I am stuffed, so I have no brains at all,” he answered sadly. “Oh,” said Dorothy; “I’m awfully sorry for you.” “Do you think,” he asked, “if I go to the Emerald City with you that Oz would give me some brains?” “I cannot tell,” she returned; “but you may come with me, if you like. If Oz will not give you any brains you will be no worse off than you are now.” “That is true,” said the Scarecrow. --The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum 

      There have been many times in my life that I have given up on something I wanted or needed because I would talk myself out of it. Thinking to myself that someone would tell me no or some other obstacle would stop me or prevent me from achieving my goal. 

     But with age comes wisdom! Several years ago when I was trying to get pre-approved to buy my first home, the bank gave me a number that they would approve for me. It was about $10,000 less than the asking price of the home. I was doomed. I called my sister and we cried on each other’s shoulder, sad that this was not to be, my pretty little house was just a dream…a far-away, unreachable dream. 

     As we drove to the house to let the seller know that I was not approved for their asking price it dawned on me that I was approved for a certain amount. What if instead of saying, “Sorry, I can’t give you your asking price,” and walking away with my tail tucked between my leg I said to them, “I can’t give you your asking price, but I can offer this.” What did I have to lose? I already didn't have the house and had lived my whole life without it. I was already resigned to the fact that the bank would not pre-approve me for what I wanted and I wasn't going to get the house anyway. I would be no worse off than I was now, but I at least needed to give it a shot, right? 

     So I did it, I offered them the amount that I was pre-approved for and lo and behold…they accepted my offer and I got the house. So I learned a valuable lesson, DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE WORD NO! Reach for what you want, in the end you will be no worse off than how you started. If you go into a situation with a mindset that you have already been defeated, then the only thing that defeated you was YOU. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Weekly Low Carb Wrap Up - Week Seven

My weeks are still jam-packed with trying to take care of and spend time with my dad, but that hasn't stopped me from continuing to eat healthy. 

 I unfortunately don't have a lot of time to try new things so I'm sticking with the tried and true, meaning I made those delicious Cajun Chicken Drumsticks again. I made a whole pack of them, which was sixteen! And that is pretty much what I ate every day. 

But that's ok because they are little morsels of deliciousness like no other! And....they are only $4.54 for the whole pack!

I ate them with salad and with green beans and with avocado, something different each day and yet they never did get old.

I have another whole pack thawing out right now that I plan to bake tomorrow. So bear with me while I help to get my dad healthy and back on his feet again and then I'll definitely be trying new things during the week.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

This post was inspired by the novel Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. After witnessing her children's school set ablaze, Grace attempts to find the arsonist as her teenage daughter lies in a coma in Lupton's suspense thriller. Join From Left to Write on April 11 as we discuss Afterwards. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes

I have to tell you that I really enjoyed this book. Many of the others in our group mentioned how difficult it was to read because they put themselves into the place of the main character Grace and her child who was in a coma, but for me it was different because of what I and my family are going through right now with my dad.

My dad who is will be 82 years of age in a little less than a month took a spill recently and fractured his pelvis. He has been residing in an assisted living facility and is slowly healing. It's been a long two weeks and I've been spending all the time I can with him. This was unexpected...of course it was, it was an accident and they wouldn't be called accidents if they were expected right?

I have always tried to make sure that if anything happens to me my kids would be protected financially. They wouldn't be rich or anything, but there would be enough for them to bury me and have funds left over for them to go to school or put a down payment on a home or something. But I've never thought about what would happen if I became hurt, in a coma or unable to take care of my physical needs and I had to be in a skilled nursing center or an assisted living facility? 

You can bet that I will begin to prepare for that now. I am learning with my dad's fall that trying to navigate the rough waters of Medicare, parts A and B and Medical and in-home health care while trying to be supportive to my dad and wanting only to spend time with him helping him to heal and not having to deal with all the other crap is tougher than you might think and I don't want my loved ones to suffer through this as well.

In the book they didn't really go into finances and insurance and how they were going to pay for hospital stays and medications, but in real life the reality of those things can devastate a family at a time when they need to be supportive to each other.

Plan people...plan. You know the old saying, the best laid plans of mice and men? Tragedy will strike all of us one day, rich or poor, good planner or bad, so wouldn't it be better to be prepared?


Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekly Low Carb Wrap Up - Week Six

Ha! Bet you thought I forgot to do my weekly low carb wrap up right? Never fear, I'm just a little bit late. What with taking care of my dad and all I'm getting a little bit behind. But I am still trying to stick to my new way of eating. So while I didn't try a whole bunch of new things, I did try two.

But first, thanks to everyone who wished my dad well and prayed for him and my family. He's getting better and stronger every day and I'm hopeful he's going to heal well and be able to go back to his little home where he has his independence.

So this week I did get industrious one night and I made stuffed bell peppers. I checked out a whole bunch of different recipes that I had pinned on Pinterest. I love Pinterest, it makes it so easy to save things you want to find later!

Aren't these beautiful? I used a recipe from Linda's Low Carb Menus and Recipes. She has more delicious low carb recipes than you can shake a stick at! I used her recipe for Make Me Stuffed Peppers! I tweaked it a bit because I had way too much hamburger meat and in order to get my son to eat what I didn't use in the bell peppers I had to make sure I didn't cook it with onion. So I browned the ground beef in a pan with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, then took out what he was going to eat and added raw red onion and Roma tomatoes in the meat left in the pan.

I also had tons of Monterey Jack cheese in the fridge, so I used that instead of Cheddar and....I used red bell peppers! I'm such a rebel! So here they are after I've boiled the peppers in water for three minutes, then stuffed them, placed them in the pan and topped them with cheese.

Here they are, fresh out of the oven. All warm and gooey. Don't they look good? I think next time I will sprinkle some diced green onion when they come out of the oven, just for flavoring.

The night I made these I ate them with a simple green salad with ranch dressing and it was so good. It's nice to have a comfort food and these definitely were that!

I took some to work the next day and my co-worker and fellow low-carber Angelica ate one and she loved it! She's not a big fan of bell pepper but she loved these and said she is going to try making them. I'm excited to see what she does cause as I've said before, she's an outside the box thinker and I'm sure she'll put her own little spin on them!

Here is the bell pepper just nuked in the microwave for lunch. A healthy, delicious and filling lunch!

That night when I got home dinner was easy because I had all these stuffed bell peppers, so I just made a quick pork fried cauli-rice (rice made from riced's delicious!) My second new thing I tried this week. You take your riced cauliflower and saute it in a pan with some olive oil and butter, season it with salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes. I added diced up ham and cooked that another minute then I moved the whole concoction over to the side for a bit and scrambled a couple of eggs in a bowl and cooked them in the side of the pan until they were set then blended them with the rice, sprinkled green onion, a shot of soy sauce and sesame seed oil and a healthy shot of Sriracha Sauce cause I love me some spiciness. See my beautiful little stuffed pepper in the background there? Yum!

Because I am so good at eating left overs I can make a whole bunch of these and eat them non-stop morning, noon and night until they are all gone. In fact I ate one again today at lunch!

So that was it for new things this past week. Bear with me, I have tons of new recipes I will be trying and I may even invent a few of my own. But until my dad gets better and gets back home, I will be spending at least a couple of hours every day after work with him, making sure he eats and that he's not too lonely and that he know how very much I love him.

Have a good week!


No Soliciting...this means YOU!

I’m not having a good day! Actually yesterday was a bad day too, so maybe I’m not going to have a good week?

I thought once a woman got to a certain age and a certain bodily function stopped, PMS was supposed to stop with it? Because that is sure not the case with me! Once I a month I still get really, really, really super irritated with the stupidity of people. The unfortunate thing is that I don’t realize it was PMS until a few days later, then I think, “Oh yeah…that’s why I was such a witch!”

But even though this is not a good day and I am feeling PMSey…I don’t think that I am wrong in being angry at people that can’t read and are too stupid to understand a simple concept written in plain English and posted on the door to our office!!

I realize, soliciting may be a big word to some people, but I am pretty sure that the lady that was here just now trying to sell me a deal on a Vegas getaway knew what the word meant. I told her quite nicely that I wasn’t a big fan of Vegas, don’t like all the cigarette smoke in the casino’s and she said, “Oh yeah, I totally agree, who wants to get cancer while on vacation” and then she proceeded to continue to try to tell me about their package!! I had to be rude and say, “No, seriously…I am not interested and walk away from her!”

That bugs the crap out of me, that someone can disregard a very nice request for “no soliciting” and come in and solicit anyway and then they FORCE ME to be rude to THEM!

I was just sitting here working and minding my own business and this little chick comes in here with her little spiel about Vegas!!!

And she’s not the only one, we get people coming in here all the time trying to sell us gym memberships, teeth whitening packages, paintings, purses, sunglasses, watches… heck, just this last Friday a man came in selling fresh meat out of this truck! Like I’m going to feed my family meat out of the back of some stranger’s truck!

Nope, I am not having a good day today. How is yours going?


Friday, April 5, 2013

My Hero is Broken

Dad and I at his birthday last year in May, 2012

It is said that a girl's first love is her dad...never have I believed that more than I do now. My dad was my first love and the only man I have always been able to count on. It is difficult to see someone you love get older and weaker, especially a man like my dad who has always been so strong and independent. I still see him with "little girl" eyes as my big strong dad that will be here forever to guide and protect me, my hero. But now my hero is broken; now it is I, along with my family that is having to guide and protect dad.

Dad and I out to breakfast a few months ago.

Dad has been having problems with his legs and equilibrium. He gets dizzy if he rises too fast or turns too quickly. Unfortunately he's not the most patient man in the world (at least not with himself) and he doesn't wait to make sure he's steady before he takes off walking so he ends up falling. His pride has kept him from using a walker or a cane, no matter how much we all nag him about it.

A few months ago he fell running to get the phone and he cracked four ribs. The Sunday before Easter Sunday while turning to lock his door before going out for his afternoon walk he somehow fell again and fractured his pelvis. He doesn't remember how he fell or why.

Dad lives alone in a gated retirement community. He is surrounded by other elderly people and he has coffee in the recreation room every morning and has made many friends there, so we had not worried much about him as we felt it was the safest place for him, and it was except for the fall.

Dad is the toughest person I know, he fractured his pelvis, reached up and unlocked his door, scooted backwards on his butt until he made it across his living room to his phone and called my sister-in-law and told her he had fallen!!! Can you imagine the pain he must have been in? She got there and immediately called an ambulance to transport him, scared that if she moved him (not that she could have as dad is 6 foot 3 and weighs 215 pounds) she might cause him further injury.

Dad and two of his grandsons, Isaac and my son James in the ball cap.

I was sitting at home on a Sunday afternoon doing nothing, looking forward to writing my post on my weekly low-carb wrap up. I had just applied hair color to my hair and was sitting in my kitchen with no make up on, wearing sweats with my hair full of hair dye sitting atop my ahead, loving that I was able to be a slob for the afternoon with no chores, errands or obligations when I got the call that dad had fallen and was in the emergency room with a broken pelvis!

Anyone that has ever colored their hair knows that you can't just run out the door with hair dye on your hair, you risk losing all your hair, so I had to jump in the shower first and rinse out all the color. I took the quickest shower of my life and my son and I picked up my brother and we all headed to Bakersfield, which is about 25 miles from where we all live.

My dad teaching his two sons his secrets to BBQ-ing!

We got to the ER room and got a chance to see dad. He wasn't in any pain at that point thanks to morphine, they were doing tons of tests on him and we waited to see what was going to happen. They of course admitted him and made him comfortable and we went home. The next day I went to work and put all my ducks in a row and told my employers that I was going to be at the hospital with my dad and headed over there.

Dad was in good spirits but a little out of it and he got more out of it as the day progressed. I blamed the morphine and thought that he would get better once he didn't need it anymore, but dad has continued to get more confused in incoherent as the weeks progress. 

We knew that dad would not be able to go back to his apartment and take care of himself. We were fortunate that he qualified to be moved into an assisted living facility. He is still there and he seems happy. He has days when he knows where he is and why he is there and then he has days when he thinks he is at work and is surrounded by the people he worked with.

Today he finally had a good day, he understood where he was and why and he wanted to know when he could start walking again. I had to tell him it would be another four weeks and even then he would have to do therapy first. But he took it in stride and said that was ok, he likes where he is and he likes the girls that take care of him and he told me not to worry about him.

He told me to go ahead and go home so that I wouldn't end up driving at night and to not worry about coming to see him if I was busy because he was ok. That's the dad I know and love and remember, the one that always thought about me first before himself! I have full faith that he is going to recover, but the fact that my hero is broken...even in only temporarily breaks my heart. 

My dad and his youngest grandchild, Melissa.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

With Your Own Money

Do you remember your first clothing purchase? The very first article of clothing that you ever bought “with your own money”? I do!

I remember that it was 1977 and I was working at a small variety store in our little town called Cornets. Remember that store? It was what Wal-Mart or Target is now, a place where you could find anything from baby clothes to candy, patterns and fabric to rakes and brooms, women’s underwear and motor oil!

I was working there part-time while I attended Bakersfield College where I was earning my Associates Degree in accounting even though I am the worst mathematical mind in the history of numbers…but that is another story for another time!

There was a small clothing store in Shafter, right on main street, called Johnson’s Department Store. It was a very fancy store in my eyes and I would go in there often with my mom and just look around. One day I saw a sweater and I fell in love. This sweater, it was no big deal, nothing unusual or fabulous about it, the only reason it stood out for me is that it was pink and I loved pink and I had never owned anything of my own that was pink (my mom’s fav color was red, so my closet abounded with red clothing).

The Sweater was almost identical to this one.

The sweater was $34.99…a fortune in those days. I tried it on and swooned when I caught my reflection in the mirror and saw how drop dead gorgeous I was in pink! But I knew my parents couldn’t afford it so I told my mom that it didn’t fit or I didn’t like it…some excuse, I don’t remember now. But I dreamed of that sweater off and on for weeks. I was drawn to it every time that I went back to the store. Obviously I was the only one enamored of this sweater since week after week it was still there!

One day while visiting and lovingly fondling my sweater I saw a sign that said “ASK US ABOUT OUR FREE LAY-AWAY PLAN”. So I asked and was amazed to realize that for a mere $5.00 I could have them place the sweater in their lay-away bin and I could come back each week on payday and give them another $5.00 and once the balance was paid I would own my sweater! I was beyond happy to know that finally my beloved sweater would be mine, so I put that puppy on lay-away!

Every Friday I faithfully went in and paid the $5.00 and in just a few short weeks, about 8 of them, that sweater belonged to me. I was so proud of myself and so happy to have something so gorgeous hanging in my closet there amongst all the red clothing my mom had bought for me!

I went back to Johnson’s Department Store after that and continued to put clothes on lay-away for a few years until I switched jobs to a Montgomery Wards Store and they gave me a credit card…it was all downhill from there, you know how it is once you get into credit card debt! But I always remember how proud I was of myself for being able to buy my own clothes and not having to rely on my parents, it was a great feeling! Do you remember the first thing you ever bought “with your own money”? How did it make you feel