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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Joy Every Day

Sometimes I think we get so bombarded with everything going on we forget to take joy and comfort in our lives every day.  EVERY day, not just on Tuesdays-- lol.

What are some things you can look at and see joy? I mean, there are so many times as a mom, I look around my house and feel discouraged (I don't know if that is the right word, maybe shrieking "WHAT NOW?" would be better, lol) because there are so many things to do.  I have gnats in my kitchen that will NOT go away. I have no idea where they came from and I have tried EVERYTHING to get rid of the little f-ers but they won't go away. I even used a bottle of my wine and tried to put glasses out to attract them (this is the best trick to get rid of them normally)... but they keep coming back. ARGH. So I get wrapped up in a gnat killing mission every morning versus enjoying my life as it progresses.  Right there in the moment.

So, do you think we can find joy even in while going through the hardest times in our lives? Do you think joy exists through sadness? I mean, we all have felt joy and happiness during the good times and the even gooder times (haha), but what about the bad times.  I honestly think yes.  I think that even through tragedy we can find something to rejoice and be joyful about.

Maybe it is my faithfulness, but I always believe that in any situation we can find joy.

Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.


So, maybe I am joyful through the tough times because even at my advance age, I still have hope and patience and I am faithful. I don't know, but whoever wrote the book of Romans in the Bible sure had it right (lol).

"Joy- a feeling of great pleasure that comes from success, good fortune, or a sense of well being" as defined by http://www.merriam-webster.com.


So maybe my hypothesis is right.  We can find joy in even the hardest times, but how do we do that.

Some finding joy ideas:

1) Look at your family... spouse, mother, children, sisters, brothers, etc and reflect on happy times.

2) Be the creator of joy for others.  Do something SILLY and REDONLULOUS just to make someone else have joy when they are down, or nasty. LOL I say nasty because Maddy has not been feeling well, and yes she is constipated AGAIN and just nasty... like when she gets the tummy pains from her poop issue she hits, pinches, kicks and cries.  So this morning, she was just really sad and in pain (FYI, we are FINALLY referred to a pediatric gastro doctor in Iowa City to see what is really going on with her)--- I didn't want her to go to preschool in such a mood so I started making silly faces and noises, turned on some music and started dancing funny.  She started dancing with me and we laughed, then I just held her and told her how much I love her and that I was sorry her booty was hurting. And we sat there in complete joy during this though time for her. Here is the thing, by ME creating the joy for HER, I also found joy in myself. We both started laughing and smiling.

3) Let your kids do something silly and borderline stupid.  I mean, sometimes we get so caught up in them being "good" we forget they are kids and are just plain weird.  LOL  So, on my search for joy, I caught my son playing with his cereal this morning.  And instead of saying, "Kennith, eat your cereal, stop playing with it" I said, "I wonder how hard you can build a cereal chain on your nose." And he did it (see picture) and it was silly and we both laughed.  When he left for school he was in the happiest mood ever, and here is the thing... by filling his joy bucket, I filled mine as well.



4) See friendship- acts of love post. Doing for friends can make you feel extreme joy, I just put some letters in the mail to friends as a random friendship act of love, and I smiled as I did it.

5) Smile. Even when you don't want to, smile.  Have you noticed just by smiling your voice even picks up and you even sound happier? I went to Hy-Vee the other day, and well I smiled at everyone. The Hy-Vee employees were actually VERY nice and I was like, I love this place. I found JOY in spending money for food. LOL

6) Remember what you have and be thankful for it versus what you DON'T have.  Living well during this life is not about THINGS it is about people and living a full, blessed life for as long as you are here.

7) Have dinner together as a family and each take a turn to talk about what they like best about everyone at the table and take turns.  Fill each other's joy bucket.

8) I recently lost a friend to a long and courageous battle with cancer.  Although she is gone, her story and her children live on.  I take joy in the fact that I had the opportunity to know her and know that she had such a wonderful impact on so many people based on how publicly, and strongly she battled.  Even though my heart is saddened, I also find comfort and joy knowing that she helped so many, including myself.

9) When you get frustrated at work, or even at home, or really anything... take a time and write out the best things about what you are doing.  I start writing out what I love about my job and my spirit lightens, I start smiling, my heart feels lighter, and the joy bucket is re-filled.

10) When you cannot find joy on your own, and you are overburden by worry, fear, loneliness, reach out to a friend and talk with them. We don't have to seek out joy on our own.

11) When your child messes up their room right before company, instead of getting frustrated and angry, calmly tell them to pick it up and find joy that they have the toys to play with.

12) Make a happy collage. Make a collage about what makes you joyful, so when you can't see the joy in a situation, you can see the joy in your collage.

13) Delete the joy-stealers out of your life.  I call these vampire friends, the ones who just SUCK the joy from you.  You are worth more than that, you need, wait deserve someone who will fill your joy bucket.

14) Dance in the kitchen with a wooden spoon.

15) Laugh.  From your gut... it is contagious.

Challenge: ask yourself, is your joy bucket filled?

If not, put a cork in that bucket and start filling it up!  :)


Have a wonderful Wednesday! 






Sunday, August 26, 2012

Friendship- Acts of Love- Are YOU Up For a Challenge?

James Taylor sang it best in one of my favorite all time songs,

"When you're down and troubled and you need a helping hand and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right. Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I'll be there, you've got a friend."


I have been doing a lot of thinking lately on what it means to be a friend and quite frankly, what it means to have a friend. 

I know this is something I have blogged about before, but I think as we get older our circle of "friends" draws closer together and we have fewer people we keep in our inner circle, whether that is due to growing a part, moving away, and just random neglect.  You read that right... neglect. 

I decided that I had to take ownership of neglecting some friends I have, people in my life who have always been there by my side and always will be there.  I have grown to take them for granted.  I have been so worried and wrapped up in my own drama and family that I haven't really paid attention to what they are going through.

How many times have you been on the phone with a friend, or sitting in the kitchen with them or out for a cup of coffee and you are both jovially talking but you are REALLY NOT listening to what they are saying? You are listening somewhat, but you are also getting ready to get in what you want to say. WHY? Because our time with our friends is cut short because we have somewhere else to be, or we don't want to miss the episode of Big Brother that is on TV in 45 minutes...  We have filled our lives with so much extra CRAPOLA (note: this is stuff, not family or friends, KWIM?)... that we forget to honor those sacred relationships we have with others.  Whether it is your spouse, significant other, child, friend... all of these PEOPLE are irreplaceable.  The extra CRAPOLA is replaceable.

The cost of friendship and maintaining it is nothing.  You don't have to pay money to entertain your friend, you should be able to just sit with them and be.  Be the person you were born to be, created to be... Not be someone who is responsible for entertainment, or only there when they need help financially, or wait... when they need you.  And then I realize...

I have been this person...

This person who relies on friends when I need them, when I want some entertainment or need financial assistance... I have been the user friend and I am quite ashamed of myself.  I have not done this to EVERYONE but to some friends I have and I need to make amends with myself and them for doing this... I am on a mission.  A mission of free will friendship. See, I have decided that I am no longer going to be a sideline friend to those who mean the world to me. I am going to be an in the moment friend. 

Now, I have also been the in the moment friend as well, but I am going to practice it more.  I have great role models to pattern myself after. Micah who always has encouragement for me, and wise words... My dear friend Kai who took me to a precious spot a few days after I lost my baby so we could sit there and morn in silence together... she too had lost before and it was such an amazing sacrifice of her special spot and her time that I just cannot thank her enough for bringing me there and helping me heal.  Monty for welcoming me back into your life with open arms and for being there for me, introducing me to Kai and being a great friend.  My dear friend Alana, who sends me notes in the mail encouraging me to stay strong and to have faith, and basically reminds me that I will be healthy when all this stuff is done, and she reminds me constantly of my faith and helps me seek a balance.  The girls on the board, gosh... we formed our relationship back in 2007 when we all had losses and you have grown to be part of my inner circle.  Some of the greatest friends I have out of one of the saddest events of our lives. You encourage me daily. To my sisters for just being there and understanding how hard this time is for me, while they both are going through the most joy of their lives... and just listening to me. My mama. Wow, without her I don't know what I would do.  She, my sister, and my brother in law just got in a car and drove to Cedar Rapids when I was admitted into the hospital to just be here for support for my family and I and just to be here.  My husband... I am so blessed to have such an amazing partner, I get a lot of my "friendship" knowledge from him.  He shows me what it means to be consistent.  What it means to have unconditional love, and what it means to give freely of one's time.  He truly is an amazing man, one that would up and drive over five states to help someone I love move, just because he has the time,the vehicle to do it, and because he loves her as much as I do.  He just lights up my world on so many levels it is just plain hard to put into words.  My children are dear friends.  They know when I need to laugh and they do silly things.  They do random acts of kindness that I don't expect just because they can (Alex and Serina, thank you for the balloon, card, and my stuffed monkey when I was in the hospital. You are amazing women). There are so many more people to list....

So, I have decided (as of yesterday) to do random acts of friendship... just different things to show those that make a difference in my life how important they are, with no strings attached.  Just random acts of love.


Random Acts of Love:

1) Randomly post a love note on their facebook page (this one I have already done and it felt great)-- do you think we could make this go viral? I am going to do this to 10+ friends today... I challenge you to do the same... Let's see if we can get our own version of "feel good pay it forward" going!

2) Send a little card in the mail to someone just so they know you are thinking about them (this one I have done as well, and if you are in need of ANY cards, I have a table full, come on ovah and take some)

3) Send an Ecard

4) Text message them with a great thing about them.  I am going to do it right now--- mission completed!

5) If you know they are busy and could use some help (but won't ask) make them dinner or send over a snack or a treat)

6) Help out. Mow their yard if they can't, help them clean if they can't or if they are just too busy to do it

7) Visit.  Make time to have time and have enough time to fully share

8) Invite over for dinner or just to hang out. Time is something we cannot get back---- OH maybe have a traveling dinner party? I love this idea --- where you travel to each other's house for a different course... or even, what about a themed dinner party? Or maybe even do your own murder mystery party (Phillip and I used to do these with our friends in college when he lived in the house connected to the church... good times, good times... some scary times, but all good)

9) Go on a friend date (Kai, you better be ready for pottery date night! LOL)

10) Leave a note on their car, or door... just with a random statement regarding what they mean to you


There are a lot more things we can do - this is just a starting point!  NOW... who is with me?

 It just takes one.  One person. One minute. One gift.


Are you up for this friendship challenge?

Have a blessed day.


A card I received in the mail, randomly from a dear friend.  This card inspired my blog today...







Saturday, August 25, 2012

Recipe Time: Lemon Butter Chicken

Again, another recipe!  I honestly had such an amazing time going through this old cookbook I acquired from my grandma I just had to make several recipes after I tweaked and modernized them.

This again, was a hit last night with the Wenndt family and we will make it again.  With the left over chicken, I am going to make some tasty chicken salad for lunch!

Lemon Butter Chicken

 

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (cleaned)
1/2 cup of melted butter (or margarine if you dare, lol)
2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
Sea Salt and pepper to taste
Large sized roaster bag (Reynolds makes a great one)
1 tablespoon of flour
 
 

Directions:

1) preheat over to 350
2) take one lemon, cut in half and rub 1/2 lemon over chicken (set the other 1/2 lemon inside the chicken)
3) combine the juice of one lemon along with melted butter, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper
4) add 1 tablespoon of flour to inside roaster bag and shake around to coat the bag
5) add chicken to roaster bag and pour lemon butter mix over chicken
6) seal up roaster bag
7) bake for 1 to 1.5 hours until internal degree of chicken is 180
(I checked the chicken every 30 minutes and with pot holders swished ---love that technical cooking term? LOL- around the lemon butter sauce to re-coat the chicken)
 
 
It turned out so tender and juicy the meat just fell off the bone.  YUMMY!!!
 


Recipe Time: Souffle Potatoes

I have had a lot of fun this week taking some older recipes I found in a cookbook I acquired from my grandma.  This one is a definite remake at the Wenndt house.  Easy, cheesy, and carblicious. Who could ask for anything more?

Now, with my new found need to be a bit healthier, I did use reduced fat shredded cheese, skim milk and butter to make the potato base (I am a firm believer that real butter is much better for a person versus margarine, and if you don't agree... please feel free to use margarine and then let me know you did that so I can send you the article on HOW and WHY margarine was created. LOL)

 

Souffle Potatoes Ala Wenndt


Ingredients:

2 2/3 cups prepared instant potatoes (I used hungry jack)
1 can of French fried onions
1 egg beaten
garlic, sea salt, pepper to taste (if you haven't noticed by now, we always add some garlic and sea salt to just about any recipe)
1/2 cup of shredded cheese

Directions:

Blend together everything except for the cheese and put it into a baking dish (I used a bread loaf pan), and top with shredded cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees (just until cheese is melted and bubbly on top)

The French fried onions provided a great flavor addition and texture to potatoes and they really were a hit!  This easy alternative to smashed potatoes will be used a lot at this house!




Friday, August 24, 2012

MURDER, MURDER I TELL YOU!

Did I get your attention?

Well, I have to tell you about an amazing evening out we had as a family (sans Maddy, since she was too young).

Last Friday was Phillip's 40th birthday and he had to work late, so the kids and I did some researching to find out WHAT we could do to make his birthday unique and fun.  Then, there it was. A deal on HERE'S THE DEAL (http://www.heresthedealia.com/engine/Splash.aspx?contestid=23713&amp&amp&amp,+daily+deal,+kcrg,+thegazette,+cedar+rapids,+iowa+city&amp) -- two for one to a murder mystery dinner theater event at Bloomsbury Farms.  TWO FOR ONE? I think so!

So we were able to get 6 tickets for the price of 3 (love the websites out there that offer deals, like groupon, sweet jack, here's the deal, etc--- my friend Monty has the whole list he shared with me and I have them somewhere saved on my computer but where...hum...), but where was I (did I mention that my ADHD brain is fully loaded and overloaded today)... We didn't tell Phillip right away what we were doing, but we did on Saturday.  Phillip, Serina, Alex, Kennith, Dennis (Phillip's dad), and I headed out for our adventure!

The ride out to Atkins was pretty quick and the farm was Ah-mazing!  Pulling into the parking lot we could just see that they had all kinds of awesome activities (http://bloomsburyfarm.com/)- and it has been added to our list to visit again later in the fall. 

Before the show, they served appetizers and you could order a beverage (wine, beer, soda for a price) while tea and lemonade were free with your ticket.  With the murder mystery group that was there--- one character came out and started mingling with the entire group of people, handing us each a character to play. WHAT? We are a part of the production? This is RIGHT up my alley. We had to walk around and collect information from other detectives, which was a great way to get the group comfortable for the main event and get everyone to interact.

While Phillip and I age some appetizers (delicious FYI, the bruschetta was amazing) the kids went on a hay rack ride after walking a bit through the corn maze. 

The show started, characters were introduced, laughter immediately ensued.  Then we had a salad and then again more acting.  Then the actors took a break while dinner was served.  Some of the bestest fried chicken, smashed potatoes and gravy I have ever had and the portions were HUGE!  Then another act of the murder mystery followed by a strawberry shortcake dessert. 

Then finally, FINALLY we found out who dun it.... Lot's of laughs and group involvement. Everyone of us enjoyed the event and it is a definitely must do again.  Well worth the cost.

I think our next adventure will be in October for breakfast with the pumpkin princess. Maddy will LOVE it! (October 27th) and possibly a few other events before then.  Like Monsters and Merlot (um this is where zombies serve an elegant dinner out in the corn (you get there by hay rack ride).... this sounds like a great date night for Phillip and I, it is RIGHT up our alley!


Just an amazing time, and if you haven't been out to Bloomsbury Farms, you HAVE TA go out and visit (fall festival is in September and October). From start to stop it was just an amazing adventure for the Wenndts.  To top it all off the staff at Bloomsbury is top notch!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guess Who Had Homework Already?!?!

Now, I know it is only the first week of school... really it is the just the THIRD day and the first day was only a half day, but all of the kids have had homework except for Kennith.

ALL of the kids.

With Serina and Alex I assume they will have home work, they are in high school for cry eye... Alex had a lot of small projects to do, an "all about me" project for LA, and Spanish.

But when Maddy brought her "homework" folder home and an assignment in it, I about fell over. I am serious. My little 3 yr old pre-schooler had her first homework assignment tonight... And she had to work on it with her family. 

She was so proud to sit down and do it.  We printed off pictures, and cut out pictures in magazines and she colored her background.  Her assignment was:





And this is how it turned out:






All in all it was a fun project but I am so torn.  I know we put her in pre-school early because she will start kindergarten young (her birthday is in the middle of July), and we want her to have a head start, but this is just bitter sweet.  She is growing up.  She is my baby, and she isn't supposed to grow up that fast... But, she worked hard on her project (and so did mommy) and she is proud of the work she did. 

Note to self: take time to enjoy your kids.  They grow up so fast. One minute you are swaddling them and rocking them to sleep as a baby, the next time they are doing their first homework at THREE (again I am floored), then they are playing with their friends in the neighborhood and having fun, and then they are in high school getting prepared to go to their first football game of the year and planning on what to wear and who they are going to hang with at the game.  Soon, they will all be grown up and out of the house...

*DEEP SIGH* from this mama.  Gosh, I love these kids.  I want time to slow down just a moment so I can savor every moment and collect it in my box of memories. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Found a Stick- A Walking One


On Sunday I took my youngest two kids (Kennith and Madelynn) along with my niece to the park for a fun day.  We went out to Morgan Creek (here in Cedar Rapids, outside of town a bit) and brought our lunch, bubbles, and a Frisbee.  My plan- play for as long as we can before the day is over.

What a great time. Now, what I noticed- most parents and adults were sitting on the benches and talking with each other as their children played.  So, after I set down our picnic goods down on the table, I went to play with the kids.  I freely admit, I tend to watch my kids play and relax and watch them play hard and exhaust their little bodies while I flip through a book.  But on this trip, I played with them.  I had just about as much fun as they did going down the slides, and swinging on the swing set.

After about an hour, we stopped to have lunch and they gobbled up their gourmet sandwiches (err, peanut butter and jelly- thank you very much, lol). Then they went to play some more and I sat and finished my lunch and flipped through an old school cook book. 

Then I noticed something very sweet… each child started playing with another child who was on their own.  They each made a buddy. I was so proud watching them play with the different kids, and then they all played together… lots of laughter from the playground at the park.  It really melted my heart to see all of the kids playing a game together and no one was left out.

 I remember when I was younger and I would go to the park with my parents, I would play by myself and well… it kinda sucked, but I didn’t realized that it sucked back then. It just did. I honestly didn’t like going to the playground when I was a child.  I didn’t really like playing by myself.

But on Sunday? On Sunday it was fun.  They were having so much fun when I looked up that I decided to play tag with them.  After about 15 minutes, I had to stop and take a little break, and I noticed something happen.  A dad, just one, started to play with them.  And his son’s eyes just lit up.  It was pretty amazing to watch this happen.  As soon as the dad started playing his little five year old son got so excited that his eyes were glazed over with joy- and I think the dad had just about as much, or even more fun than his son. And here is the thing, I don’t think that father will ever know the impact of that ONE event and what it will have on his son’s life.  All our kids really want from us? Our time.  100% of our attention.

At the end of our trip, we decided to take a little hike.  Mya lead the way, followed by Kennith, Madelynn, and then myself.  I picked up the rear (hey, don’t laugh there…. Lol she picked up the rear, hahahaha… kinda like in “Finding Nemo” when the little kid fishy says, “He touched the butt” and you laughed harder than your kids… admit it)… where was I, oh we went for a hike. 

As we start on our path, Maddy starts looking for something in the grass and she was so serious about it. I asked her what she was doing, and she said… “Mama, I am looking for a stick.” I said, “well honey, there are sticks everywhere.” And she said, “But I need a stick, a walking one.”

She wanted a stick to use to walk, so we found one and she used it the whole way.  On our adventure we picked up sticks, walnuts that were half open that looked like silly noses, a strange small piece of wood, and flowers (dandelions).  What seems silly to me (collecting all this stuff) was so fun for them.  They laughed and each carried their treasures. 

What I carry from my afternoon at Morgan Creek? The memories of the day with the kids…  They are my treasures.

So a challenge--- the next time you go to the park, pool, Playstation or anywhere your kids will play and you tend to sit back and watch… stop and play with them. REALLY play.  Forget your bills, the dirty laundry, the dinner you have to cook, and floors you have to mop… forget that you have to work the next day and for an hour take time to remember what it is like to be eight.  To be eight and have the world to explore one walnut at a time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Recipe Time- "Puttin' on the Ritz" Chicken Bake


While the kids and I were at the park the other day, they played a bit and I went through some old school cookbooks I had acquired from my grandmother.  A few recipes looked absolutely delightful but they really needed some updating.  The recipes were from the mid-1970s and so I took some time to “tweak” them and modernize them.

Last night was the first night I “experimented” on my poor family with some new and improved recipes from 1972.

“Puttin’ on the RITZ” Chicken Bake


Ingredients:
6 chicken breasts cut in half
2 sleeves of Ritz crackers (I would suggest honey wheat or garlic---- we used honey wheat)
2 eggs
Pepper to taste
Salt to taste (I use sea salt)
Garlic powder to taste
2 tablespoons of Jonesy’z old time seasoning (can be found in the Cedar Rapids farmers market or online at www.jonesyz.com) or really any BBQ seasoning found in your local grocery store
2 tablespoons of original Magic Sauce (can be found locally at Hy-Vee or online at www.magic-sauce.com)


Directions:

1)      Pound out and tenderize chicken breasts, sprinkle tablespoon of Jonesy’z old time seasoning, pepper, garlic and 1 tablespoon of Magic Sauce over chicken and let marinade for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2)      Preheat oven to 350

3)      Beat two eggs in a shallow dish with the remaining tablespoon of Jonesy’z

4)      Finely crush Ritz crackers and add into a second shallow dish

5)      Dip each piece of chicken in egg mixture then dredge in cracker crumbs and place in a greased baking dish

6)      Drizzle last tablespoon of Magic Sauce over top of chicken and bake for 1 hour


This ended up being a favorite with EVERYONE! Even my picky meat eaters ate this chicken!  It was tender and seasoned to a nice light perfection.  We had some BBQ sauce out as well to dunk chicken in if it needed any extra sauce but the BBQ sauce wasn’t even used!  The chicken was so tender that you could cut it with a fork!!!  NO KNIFE NEEDED!  This tasty chicken dish has been added to the Wenndt family “MUST MAKE AGAIN” recipe box!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Love Letters From God--- Encouragement From "Anonymous"


The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of sorts, or maybe a roller coaster, or maybe a combination of both. I have tried to just move on trying not to think too much about what has happened, and I have thrown myself back into real life activities with my kids, home, and work.  I started planning meals again and experimenting with recipes… School starts on Tuesday, I started being more active with the kids and getting out of the house.

I honestly think I couldn’t have gone through this life changing event and deal with the issues brought with it without my wonderful family and amazing friends.  Tomorrow I go to see the cardiologist to discuss the heart stuff, which so far has been treatable with medication, but we may want to look at something more long term. Right now, the medication can only do so much. I found myself on a little hike with the kids today at the park and feeling chest pain. UGH. Anyway, as I digress… tomorrow is a day I am a wee bit nervous about.

So, with that said, while I was at my weakest, right after my hospital stay in Sioux City- I received some encouraging words from “anonymous” but I know it was a friend from Sioux City (based off of the post mark) and I knew who it was based off of handwriting (dear friend, I know your handwriting like my own, we are like besties, KWIM?).

She knows my religious beliefs and she knew in her heart and soul that my faith was being rocked by this roller coaster of events.  And she sent me Bible verses to stand on.  Verses about giving up my fear, burdens, and anxiety to God. Let go and let God take over. It was something I have been saying all along, but seeing it in my friend’s writing helps me actually do it. I see the verses daily and try to put them into practice and put my faith back to where it should be… with HIM. I am not in charge of what happens in this life, HE is.

I am at peace with whatever comes in the future. “Come to me all that are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28-29

I find comfort in the words my friend has sent me out of the Bible, and she sent them as if she knew it was my heart’s need.  I am putting the Bible verses in a collage to keep with me always as a reminder.  A reminder of what the Word says and how much I am loved by my friend, enough that she would take her time (she not only works, but she has 4 kids for cry eye) and send me these “love notes” so to speak from God.

As children we have many friends in school who we think we will retain for the rest of our lives, and unfortunately--- viewing this from a 40 year olds perspective--- this is not true. We retain only a small portion of those people as friends, and really they are mostly acquaintances. In my life, I have a lot of acquaintances, people who I am “friends” with but we are not close… they do not know my heart and what wears on it--- that is for a few select people, because my heart has been broken way too many times.  

Ms. A, you are one of those friends. One I know will always be there for me no matter what and you know the road works both ways.  We have been through a lot together, bad marriages, burning old love letters to get rid of the exes, dancing all night until we couldn’t wear our shoes, having pizza and nail painting parties on Thursday night while watching Grey’s, to church, to listening… really listening to each other and knowing how to read the signals for when we are each faltering.  You catch me before I fall, and I catch you.

Today we both have amazing husbands and great families and even though the miles keep us apart, we are still there for each other.  Only you could have sent me the words I needed to heal and move forward.

I wish everyone in life could have a girlfriend like Ms. A, someone who just gets you… loves you as a friend for who you are (quirks and all), who will pretend to be your lesbian lover when hit on by an old man who owns a bar(OH MY GOSH, remember he sent me that teddy bear with chocolate? LOL), will help you deal with the psychotic episodes with an ex, will play Chinese fire drill just for fun because the light turned red and there are cars everywhere, will stay up late at night and drink coffee and make omelets. Someone who will just come over and spend the night because they know you need them.

I encourage you, dear reader to reach out to your Ms. A in your life.  Tell her (him) how much they mean to you, because maybe they don’t know how much they have impacted your life, and this life is short.  Take time out to let them know that they have helped build you into the person you are today. 

To Ms. A, I love you like a sister, and I still cannot believe how lucky I am to have you in my life.  No one else would get this, but the mere fact that you just “happen” to walk in the restroom at church as I was having my meltdown and just stood there, loved on me and gave me Kleenex says it all.  No words needed, the compassion you have is measured beyond words.  Thank you for the flowers at the hospital, visiting me while I was drugged outta my mind  in my hospital room, and sending me the love letters from God. YOU are one of the precious gifts He has given me. I am honored to have you as a friend. Love you more than peanut butter. J

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Recipe Time- Easy Chicken Parmesan

I wanted to make an easy chicken parmesan for my family tonight after the kids and I went back and forth with different recipes we wanted to try.  Instead of making the intense, from scratch sauce, I decided this time to use a few short cuts by using sauce I purchased at the farmer's market instead of making my own.

We served our chicken parmesan with homemade garlic bread and a Cesar salad.

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts pounded out and cut in half (we are believers in smaller portions versus larger portions)

Garlic, fresh ground sea salt, pepper rubbed into chicken breasts and marinated in the refrigerator for 1 hour (OR if you are in Iowa, you can buy the garlic seasoned chicken breasts from the meat counter at Hy-Vee, they work just as well)

¾ cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs

¾ cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese

1 large egg

2 tablespoons grape seed oil (garlic infused is what I use from Wild Tree or you can use 2 tablespoons of olive oil)

1 jar of Galassi Sweet Tomato Basil sauce (http://www.galassifoods.com/ )--- honestly my favorite pasta sauce if I don't have time to make it from scratch. One of the bestest sauces and it goes with my new "shop" local philosophy.  Galassi can be found at the Cedar Rapids Farmer's Market (this Saturday, folks) online at the website above or in your local Hy-Vee.

6 slices of mozzarella cheese

Angel hair pasta

¼ cup of butter

Garlic to taste

Directions:

1)      Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2)      Lightly spread ½ of sauce into the bottom of a baking dish

3)      Whisk egg into a shallow bowl set aside

4)      Combine Italian seasoned bread crumbs and parmesan cheese into a shallow container

5)      Place the grape seed oil into a large non-stick pan over and heat on medium

6)      Coat each piece of chicken in egg, then dredge in bread crumb/parmesan coating

7)      Place chicken in pan and brown on both sides, once browned place in pasta sauce lined pan

8)      Add the remaining sauce to the top of chicken and place 1 slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each piece of chicken (I love my cheese, you could also keep this lighter and use shredded)

9)      Bake for 30 minutes or until done

While chicken is cooking prepare pasta according to package.  Toss pasta with butter and garlic to taste.

Serve with chicken and small sauce on top of warm pasta
Serves 6



Monday, August 13, 2012

Grandma... What Does that Word Mean?


I shouldn’t have to do any disclaimers for my opinion on matters of the heart—this is my blog for cry eye, but if I hurt your feelings about my post today, then maybe you should take a step back and look at how other’s actions affect those around you. Maybe take a moment to even step outside yourself to see how actions can hurt others.

Now, with that preface… I really love my mother.  It wasn’t until after I met another person’s mother whom I am very close with that I learned to appreciate my own mama as a human being.  One thing: my mom loves me unconditionally.  And, she loves my kids unconditionally whether they are mine by birth or by marriage.  My mom makes a point to spend time with each of my babies (both young and old) and makes sure they each feel special when they visit.  She takes them for special birthday shopping trips and she loves on them. Man, does she love on them.  She gives them hugs and reassurance, things that kids these days need.  I witnessed this very thing the last time we were visiting her. While I was in the hospital she made sure my kids were ok and she told them I would be ok. She was there for them.

I don’t think I can say that about all grandmas out there.  My heart aches for my Maddy and Kennith to the point where I want to cry.  I realize that not all grandmas are like my mama and that some are very different. However, the situation I am in is just… bat shit crazy in my humble opinion.  My husband’s mother doesn’t recognize my kids as part of her family.  She makes a point to not include us in any activity… and she will go to the extent of saying it is because of us, all over a situation in which she disowned my husband and told him he was no longer part of her family (we weren’t even around and it was over a situation in which we weren’t even a part of, but he got the brunt of it)… then last  spring, she sent him a plant at school and said that spring was a time for new beginnings, however she never apologized for her behavior. She always behaves this way, and is enabled by others to act this way and she thinks it is acceptable. At some point, as a grown-up we have to put our tail between our legs and say sorry…but from the time my husband was a child, she has always been this way, very vengeful as a mother. I just wonder if she missed out on nurturing 101, or maybe she replaced that class with martyr 101 along with passive-aggressive 100.

BACKGROUND: When we got married, she made snide comments to me on the way to our wedding. She told me that she didn’t know if her brothers would approve of me. My comment back was that I had a resume with salary history I would be happy to show them. I don’t honestly think she thought what she said ON MY WEDDING DAY was even wrong. She then looked at my wedding set (which I love and it is perfect for me) and asked me if my husband got it at the second hand store. I laughed it off, but I wanted to cry…I refused to let her see me cry. But this is the behavior we deal with all the time from her, which is what lead us (as the adults) to not have contact with her on a regular basis.  As for the kids, it is their decision whether they want to do things with her or not, we don’t hold them back. Matter of fact we are supportive of their relationship with her.

What makes me sad is that this woman will take all of her other grandkids (step-grandkids included) besides Kennith and Madelynn to do special things. To the mall to get school supplies, over to her house for ice cream… to Planet  X for games and ice cream, to Adventureland, to the pool for quality time…basically everywhere while Kennith and Madelynn sit on the side lines. Now, do I want them to go with her? NO, probably not… but at the same time, feelings can get hurt. Kennith specifically because he is old enough to understand that he is left out on their “family” functions and he feels as if he is not part of that family. Even when all of the grandkids go out to the farm with my husband’s father… they all go except for Kennith and Madelynn.  Maddy is too young, but why can’t Kennith go? One of my nieces is younger than Kennith and she goes all the time. It might be nice to extend an invitation ONCE to him just because you love him, not because you feel forced to do so… as for Madelynn? Madelynn is still too young to get it…but someday she will.  Someday she will know (like Kennith) that she is just not good enough for that “grandma”.

Which leads me to this… how do I handle this? The “grandma” in question tends to twist everything and if I would have a conversation with her, she would turn it back on me and make me the evil one (which is fine, I guess--- maybe someone has to call her out because she fabricates some version of her truth to her family that is nowhere near the actual truth).

Or maybe I just keep quiet. I have a quiet resolve with her, but tonight she pissed me off.  She took “her grandkids” to Planet X and Kennith watched them leave out of the drive way broken hearted.  When I finished work, we went to get pizza (Kennith, Maddy and I) and when we pulled up in the drive “grandma” pulled in behind us and got out of her car. I rushed Kennith and Maddy in the house because I didn’t want them to be hurt AGAIN by her actions… Then she asked me how I was doing, my answer… “Just great thanks.” And that was it. I walked in the door. She does not deserve to know my health status nor anything else about my life. She wrote me off when she wrote of my husband, myself, Kennith, and Madelynn. 

I don’t have room in my life  (nor do Kennith and Madelynn) for someone who is a vampire friend. You know the people who are nice to your face while they suck the life out of you. She is a vampire relative. I have made amends with the fact that she chose to exclude Kennith, Madelynn, and myself from her life… and I look at the pictures from previous weekends with my mom and  I see a grandma who deserves the title. With a smile on her face that beams with joy and excitement for the grandkids she has. Someone who isn't afraid to be silly and crazy with them. This is who I want to pattern my life after. This is what I want my kids to see as a grandma role model.  

So when the “grandma” in question comes over to get the other kids for an adventure… I will make sure that Kennith and Madelynn know how much they are loved and we will do something special together…like make dinner together, or reading a story in crazy voices, or going to the park... for they know love cannot be bought.  Love and the title of grandma is earned....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Weekend Adventure- More than Anticipated

With just a few weekends left before school starts, Phillip and I thought we would take the kids on a little adventure to see my mama, have a BBQ at my cousin Ted’s house (little did Phillip know we had a surprise early 40th birthday shin-dig ready for him at Ted’s), and hit the Omaha Zoo before going back home.  Sounds like a blast!

However this “MAGICAL” weekend turned into hell in a hand basket rather quickly. This two day quick visit has turned into five days of pure insanity….

Let me rewind to Friday, August 3rd at 5 pm central time… The Wenndt’s are packed up in the SUV and FINALLY on the road.  We have a 5 hour drive to my mamas.  I survey all around… DVDs? CHECK.  Kids? CHECK. DSi? CHECK. DRINKS? CHECK. BOOKS? CHECK. CELL PHONE CHARGERS? CHECK. COMPUTER? CHECK.  PHILLIP? CHECK.  We are ready to roll.  And as I lean back in my chair, while flipping my sunglasses off my head over my eyes, I am relaxed and ready for this weekend after the busy week I just had.

On the drive, we decided to check into a hotel in Sioux City for Friday and Saturday night… we wanted the kids to have a pool to swim in and a breakfast sounded delightful.  SO, I went to my go-to app for travel--- Priceline.com.  I booked us a room with two queen beds in a non-smoking room at a hotel with a hot breakfast buffet (FREE) and a pool.  I felt a sense of accomplishment as we drove.  The confirmation said, guaranteed late check in, so we decided to swing by my mama’s house before the hotel to say hi and make plans for Saturday.

After checking in with my mama, we went over to the hotel. Phillip runs in and then comes out. He says, THEY HAVE NO ROOMS AVAILABLE.  I was like, what? We have already paid for our rooms, and we were guaranteed a late check in. So, I go into the hotel with Phillip. It is now a few minutes after midnight.  The young man behind the desk told us he couldn’t do anything to help us.  NOTHING. I was like, you have GOTTA be kidding me. He couldn’t get ahold of his boss after several tries, and then he said he would call Priceline but it would take too long. UM, HELLO? We have kids, it is now midnight-thirty and you have no room for us when we were GUARANTEED a room.  So, I called Priceline and sat in the lobby.  At 2:15 am (yes, still in the lobby, still on the phone with Priceline and no hotel room), Phillip and I decided to drive the kids to get a bite to eat. Long story short, we drove the wrong way on an one way –in front of the POPO---- we explained what happened and one of Sioux City’s finest escorted us to the Taco Bell (now, I write this and laugh. Could you imagine being drunk in the Taco Bell drive in when the POPO  showed up? LOL)… Anyway, I am on the phone and Priceline didn’t want to assume responsibility for the mess up and the poor kid behind the desk at the hotel didn’t even know what to do. FINALLY after much pressure from us, we finally got a room at 5 am at the Hilton.  Why couldn’t this rep with Priceline (who said she was empowered and denied me the right to speak with her supervisor, fyi) offer us the hotel in the beginning?  She couldn’t answer me. My guess? The price difference- we will NEVER USE PRICELINE AGAIN.

Don, Ted, Mama, Becky
After 5 hours of sleep we got up and headed out to Ted’s house for a nice BBQ. It was fun, and it felt great to be around family.  We ate, played some volleyball, ate (and thanks to Ted I now know how to make killer guacamole--- maybe that will be my next blog? --- gosh, I am random thought girl). We surprised Phillip with a cake and gifts! We then went back to the hotel and swam then Ted, Don, Phillip and I went out for a drink and saw some friends.  A great night!
Birthday boy! (EARLY)


Sunday my mom, Kennith, Madelynn, and I went to church while Phillip, Serina and Alex slept.  While at church, I was singing (one of my favorites… You are holy, holy, holy…) anyway I was having chest pain AGAIN and having a hard time breathing. So I stopped singing and listened.  And I watched the new born baby right in front of me coo.  (Now this is an evil joke by satin to throw pregnant women and babies at me everywhere, I know--- and I cry a little and then I just look at the baby, how beautiful.) After church we all went to lunch and met up with Phillip and the girls.  After lunch we took the teens shopping for school clothes (let me tell you… the styles these days… again, I digress, maybe another blog sometime? LOL)… While shopping my chest started to pound and I was light headed.  Then we got to my mom’s house and as I was sitting there I thought I was going to pass out.  Phillip took me to the ER on Sunday at 6 pm and today (Tuesday at 11:55 pm central) I am still in the hospital.

It appears that I have irregular angina and for the rest of my life I will have to be on a beta blocker, nitro when needed, and two inhalers (to combat the asthma I will get from the beta blocker), but I will be here. I don’t know to what extent I can exercise… but I will be here. Right now they are not releasing me from the hospital because they cannot reduce the pain with medication, and I cannot take the nitro because my blood pressure is too low to take it. So I sit and wait. I cannot tell you how horrible the pain is when my heart spasms, (the angina) but it hurts so bad and I just want to cry.  This all started happening after the horrible reaction to the medication after my D&C.  I wonder…  Did my angel baby prevent me from having a heart attack early in life? Without the reaction to the medication, I would have never known about this medical issue. Anyway, I won’t know until I meet her in heaven.  It is something to think about considering the events.  

So there it is.  A trip gone awry in the sense that we didn’t go to the zoo.  We are still in Sioux City… and waiting… Playing cards, laughing… hugging each other a bit tighter… waiting to get back to normalcy.  Ah, normal? WHAT IS THAT?? I mean, to get back to us.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Recipe Time! Bacon-Ranch-Cheese Potato Yummies

So, I again dreamed of this yummy potato side dish after surfing Pinterest for HOURS the other day (really, who thought of this marvel? Visual crack is what I call it)... Anyway... I decided to try to make my potato dream come to life.  I made some bacon ranch cheese potato yummies and MAN were they good! 



Ingredients for potatoes:
Bacon (three slices fried and crumbled)
Colby Jack cheese  (1 cup grated)
Garlic powder (1/4 teaspoon)
Ranch powder (1 tablespoon)
Sea salt (to taste)
Grape seed oil infused with garlic (can also use olive oil--- 1 tablespoon)
Three potatoes (cleaned and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds)





Ingredients for ranch dipping sauce:
1/2 cup of sour cream
3 table spoons of ranch powder



Directions for dipping sauce:
1) combine sour cream and ranch powder, stirring until fully blended.
2) place in refrigerator to set while preparing the potatoes.


Directions for potatoes:
1) Preheat oven to 375.
2) Boil potatoes with a dash of salt in water for 5 minutes or until tender.
3) Remove potatoes, and place them on a paper towel to dry (pat top to dry as well).
4) Lightly brush a layer of grape seed oil on the bottom of a cookie sheet.
5) Place potatoes on cookie sheet, slightly overlapping
6) Lightly brush remaining grape seed oil over the top of the potatoes.
7) Sprinkle garlic, salt, and ranch over the top of the potatoes
8) Place potatoes in oven for 8 minutes to cook and crisp up a bit
9) remove potatoes from oven and sprinkle with cheese, and bacon crumbles (you could add green onions too).
10) Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
11) Remove from oven and let sit for 3-5 minutes to cool.
12) Serve with ranch sour cream dipping sauce.

This ended up being one of the best sides we have ever created at the Wenndt house!  The next time, I may try to cook the potatoes a bit longer to get them a bit crisper but they were gone in no time!