Thursday, March 10, 2011

Facebook: From Feasting to Fasting

I've given up Facebook for Lent - me and apparently lots of other people according to a news blurb I recently heard. (If you're reading this from my Facebook page, I haven't cheated. It automatically posts to my profile :-). )

To be honest, I'm a bit of a Facebook junkie. OK, maybe junkie is a bit strong but you get the idea. My family still gets fed, clothes still get washed, crumbs vacuumed, etc. Theoretically, no one suffers from my addiction but myself. At least that's what I've been telling myself.

But over the last several months, if not longer, I've experienced lots of frustration over never having enough time to do things beyond my normal day-to-day activities, i.e., things I enjoy or find more meaningful like blogging, crafting, in-depth Bible study, reading, just to name a few. This has started making me more cranky than I like to be (and we all know the saying, "When momma isn't happy, nobody's happy").

I've found plenty of ways to rationalize my elevated levels of crankiness. Number one being the mental and physical demands of keeping up with the Princess day in and day out. She is an absolute joy but she has got to be the busiest and chattiest two-year old I have ever encountered. (I am not exaggerating!) Number two being the mental and physical demands of keeping up with two middle school boys and the whirlwind of homework, sports schedules and the like that surround them. By the end of the day my brain is mush which makes it very easy to veg with mindless entertainment, like Facebook, after the kids are in bed (or even during moments of downtime, no matter how brief, during the day). But the reality is, I am the cause of my own frustration by wasting too much time on meaningless activities.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think Facebook is completely useless. It does have some merit. I've simply come to realize that for the most part I don't really use it for anything worthwhile. So for the next 40 days (at least), I'm going to take those Facebook moments and commit to using them for things that I really want to do - things that have a purpose, for me anyway. Who knows what exciting things might get done around our house over the next month and half!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

Or Mexican La-ba-sagna as the princess calls it. Anyway, if you happen to love Mexican food and Italian food then this dish is just for you. And I have to give a shout out to my Aunt Kathleen for this one.

Mexican Lasagna

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1 can refried beans
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
24 oz. jar of salsa
2 1/2 c. water
12 lasagna noodles
16 oz. sour cream
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium skillet, brown ground beef and drain. Then add in refried beans, oregano, cumin and garlic powder. Mix well.

Line bottom of 9x13" pan with four uncooked lasagna noodles. Top with half of the meat mixture. Add four more noodles and top with the rest of the meat mixture. Top that with four more noodles.

Mix 2 1/2 c. water with jar of salsa. Pour over top of noodles.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until noodles are tender. Remove from oven and spread sour cream over top. Sprinkle with cheddar chees and return to oven until cheese is melted - about 5 minutes.

I usually let mine rest a few minutes before serving. Then slice and enjoy!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Duke Children's Hospital Radiothon

Nothing tugs at my mommy heartstrings more than hearing about a child who is suffering from cancer or some other tragic illness. Every year I would listen to bits and pieces of the Mix 101.5 Radiothon for Duke Children's Hospital and was always brought to tears by the stories - some with happy endings and some not - of the parents and caregivers of many precious children who are battling diseases that they should never have to face. And then I would thank God that I haven't needed the services that Duke Children's Hospital provides. Then I would make my donation and move on.

This year was different. This year I have a slightly better understanding of what those parents are facing and feeling. Last October, my oldest son had a lump form on the right side of his face in the cheekbone area. At first we didn't think much about it but it rapidly grew so we couldn't ignore it any longer. We still didn't pay it much mind until after a casual visit to the pediatrician we were immediately sent for a CT scan. That same afternoon I vividly remember sitting alone in the consult room at our pediatrician's office and hearing him say that they had no idea what it was but it did not look good and then asking if it was OK for him to refer us to a pediatric neurosurgeon at Duke Children's Hospital. All I could think of was that Duke is where all the really sick kids go. We couldn't possibly need to go there, could we?

But we did - the very next week. And then the very next day he had surgery. Fortunately, unlike many of the stories on the Radiothon, our story has a happy ending. We went for something that appeared extremely grave but ended up being something completely fixable. And for that we are so grateful.

I write all this because even my brief experience of not knowing what was wrong with my child and not knowing if it could be fixed gave me a little perspective on what many of those parents and children go through for much longer periods of time. And the staff at Duke Children's Hospital does everything they can to support those precious families. They make every effort to ease fears and anxieties and to help families maintain some semblance of normalcy while traveling an often unexpected but sometimes long and painful journey.

So as a mother, I would ask you to consider making a small donation to help Duke Children's Hospital continue to provide help for these precious families during such difficult situations.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Funny Valentine(s)

Happy Valentine's Day!

My Valentines
Not Pictured - My Original Valentine (he had to go to work before the pancakes were done)
 As a mom to only boys for the majority of my parenting life, Valentine's Day has always been somewhat of a challenge. I want to make the day special but without unnecessary additions of 'stuff' (i.e., cute stuffed animals that eventually migrate to the attic - especially since I went through nine gigantic garbage bags of them last night dividing by keep and donate). And now that the princess is aware that Valentine's Day is a 'holiday', I didn't want to fall into that habit with her.

Well, it seems I hit the jackpot - FOOD! We started the day with homemade heart-shaped pancakes...

and then finished it with heart-shaped sugar cookie pops.

And just in case you thought I was creative enough to think of this on my own, I wasn't. I got the idea here.
 Ymmmmmmm! (And yes, with two adolescent boys, I should know that food is always the answer.)

That was about all we had time for today - considering I think today should have been call Spring Sports Opening Day instead of Valentine's Day. The race is on between now and Memorial Day - baseball, lacrosse, soccer, repeat. But we wouldn't have it any other way. (And the princess is excited because now it means hours of guaranteed playground time.)

And in case you think I've forgotten about my Original Funny Valentine, don't worry! He's still my one and only and I wouldn't want to do life - with all its crazies - without him by my side.