Friday, November 25, 2011

Here we are, on what is called Black Friday. The day retailers go from "the red and into the black." For me this is pack up autumn/harvest day and begin to decorate for Christmas and the winter season.
I love decorating for the holidays. I have been looking forward to decorating this
My front porch is bare and that is very sad
To everything change,change,change Ecclesiates 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens
Our lives change constantly. Sometimes the changes that occur are hard. Other times we just roll with the changes. No doubt that this season of Christmas will be hard without mom. The holidays will be sad without her. I'll have moments where I will need to talk with her and she won't be there. I'll want to tell her what gifts I bought. My memories of my mom will live with me for the rest of my life. Her shortbread cookies and her candied pecans will be a treasured memory for not only me, but for so many.
Time for everything. There is time for friends, time for family, time for a new job, time to remember mom. A time to decorate for a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. That's a pretty clear instruction from the Lord, wouldn't you say? We all face times in our lives where we hit some pretty rocky roads. That's pretty much been this year for me. I always look forward to the Autumn months. In September, I love the warmth of the days and the way the shadows grow long as the season prepares to change. Bonfires on a cool autumn evening with friends always bring me smiles. The colors of the changing season, from the warm purples and faded pinks of flowers that dot the side of the roads, along with an accent of white lacy wildflowers and weeds just bring me a sense of calm. While moving into October, I love how the air switches to cooler evenings, and getting to haul out the thick sweaters to stay warm on those cooler nights. I love picking out pumpkins,mums, cornstalks and big Honeycrisp apples. A thrill for me, is always decorating the house, with leaves, and wheat stalks, bowls filled with acorns from walks. The colors of October, the kids trick or treating in costumes always make me feel a total comfort that just say, relax, winter is on its way here. November has always represented a time where I reflect back on the year, I love to recount how God has blessed me, blessed my family. I am reminded of God's glorious creation in the absolute magnificence of a November sunset. Have you ever seen anything more beautiful than the purples, pinks, oranges that are mixed together and light up the sky? I can't think of too much more beautiful times than that, honestly. It seems like only yesterday when the boys and I would make a brown construction paper tree, and colored paper leaves, and write the things we gave God thanks for during November. These are truly times I treasure inside my heart. The colors of the sky, the smell of soup in a pot,an apple pie baking, the paper leaves hanging from a paper tree on a door in the house, they bring back rich memories for me. I love November best of all the months. This autumn brought with it new meanings for me. On the morning of Saturday, November 5th, my mom, Ellen Shaw left this earth to go live in eternity with her God and Savior. I was amazed by the clear color of the morning,as well as the vibrant colors the leaves had decided to turn that day. The day was so clear to me. As waves of emotion swept over me during the day, I would also see trees so brightly lit by the warm bright sun. By the late afternoon, the sun was casting the last rays of sunlight onto the trees that edge the river by my house. The trees were golden. The sight was breath taking. Autumn will always be my favorite time of year, always. For the rest of my days on earth, I never will be able to look at the light hitting trees on a warm November afternoon without thinking that my mothers first pain free steps in Heaven were days of brightest gold leaves lit up by the light of her precious Savior.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Time marching on

I wish I had more time to write. Time just slips so quickly. My life recently has been one big swirl of this, that and the other thing. A friend today said she thinks I'm under a spiritual attack, and I am inclined to think she's right. In all actuality I've been expecting the attack. I know better than to think I'd rev up my spiritual walk and not have satan try and throw me down. He doesn't depend on me standing upright and ready to bash him with my Bible. So, satan take this: In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 HA! Just try to get through that one stupid beelzebub! Much to pray over, much to pray about. Keep that in mind for me when you pray, ok? Here's an update about my mom. Everyone knows about the broken leg/shock trauma,, lets start with her transferral from shock trauma to Lorien Rehabilitation Center in Columbia. We checked this place looked good. The county reports looked good. However, I didn't see state reports, not good. I find that deceitful on their behalf. Anyway, mom was admitted there on a Friday afternoon. It took the staff forever to simply bring her ice water. The in-room write on board was dated a week prior, and have the information was wiped off. hmmm.....the curtain hung to separate her from her neighbor was falling down. Mark rehung it correctly. Dad had asked about having her TV turned to where she could watch it comfortably. No one came to check on her after being there for our hours. She didn't have a meal ordered, so they didn't feed her. It took from 4:45 to almost 8:30 for them to finally bring her water....then we asked about moving her bed, the nurse told us to do it.....well oooooooook then, don't let us disturb you guys. No sirree, we don't want to bother you. We were leaving for the beach in two days, and I didn't want to alarm my sister, but, I told her to watch the staff there carefully. So...while on vacation, that Monday....a whole 24 hours after being there, Tam calls to let me know mom is back in the hospital with pneumonia. I immediately begun to search and discovered that more than likely this bout of pneumonia was caused by her not being moved. Sure enough, they had never moved her from the bed to a chair since Friday. So of course she had pneumonia settle in her lungs! I'm still mulling this one over before I write Lorien and anyone else I need to about this place. Just terrible treatment. Ok, my father had her moved to Crofton Rehabilitation Center, and what a difference! Great staff, and the care I believe is very good. I honestly believe that the staff there actually care about their patients. I find this to be a rarity in this field of health care for elderly and, frankly for disabled people as well. It is one of our nations greatest tragedy's. So, I have noticed since my mother has been released from Shock Trauma, she hasn't been "all there" in my opinion. She's not sharp as she should be. I could understand it if she was in pain, but that's not the case.....this past week she has referred to me as "Sandy" ( who in the hell is Sandy?????) she has talked about the boy with the jar of bubbles. She's stated people have visited her who we know were not there, and have thought people who were there were someone else. She just has seemed disconnected. But then, on a dime, would snap back to reality. I mentioned it to several family members, and no one else saw it until Thursday. Tam called me to get down there, asap. I walked in the room she was flailing her legs....with the tri-brace, rods and screws!!!!!!! she was reaching for things that weren't there, laughing and talking with people that we didn't see in the room. She was just out there! My aunt Irene said she noticed it earlier in the day and that I had mentioned I felt something wasn't quite right. Dad didn't seem to think it was so bad, and mentioned "she's been like this at home" Great dad, thanks for telling us. ( this aging parent thing is not at all fun) After watching her for a while, I went and got the nurse to come see. The nurse asks mom where she was, who she was, who we were, and, naturally my mother snapped out of it, answered everything correctly, and let us looking like crazy people. Soon, she started again, we called the nurse back, this time, the nurse stood back, and mother was in complete delirium at this point. She was shaking, flailing her legs and arms. That was enough. I said, call the Dr please. He ordered for her to be transported to the hospital. Skip, skip, turn the page to today. My brother flew in from Florida, and my sister and I were destroying our sanity cleaning my mothers kitchens cabinets, which I can assure you that there will be another blog on that alone! I walk toward my mother's hospital room and my sister says, get ready, you aren't even going to believe this. SHE'S FINE. Not that I wish my mother to be ill, but what the heck?! I walk in and my brother is looking at me like I'm a nut. I turned and said to my mother, "welcome back" My mother had no memory of this past week at all, from about the time hurricane Irene was kicking up. I haven't been given the official low down, but it appears to be that her oxygen levels allow for carbon dioxide to build in her body. Her body can't make new blood cells when this happens, so the oxygen I guess almost is cunter productive at that time....causing her brain to not function correctly which is what we saw. So how does this get fixed? I don't know as of yet. I have to tap the ears of my nurse friends and hopefully Dad will see to it she gets a pulmonary Dr! And yes, I cannot believe she hasn't had one, I mean, hello, she's a copd patient!!!!! *sigh* It's late, I have a busy Sunday and I did want to give those of you praying an update on my mom. Keep on praying! monica

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Last Week

Welcome to the last full week of the decade of my 40's. Next Saturday, on July 30th, I'll be celebrating my 50th birthday. Closing out the decade of my forties. I really don't feel like "50"....I guess. What is 50 supposed to feel like? I always thought it would feel old. I don't feel old. I don't think I look old. Maybe 50 is the new 35~ I miss my 30's, that's for sure. I felt great, I looked great. I also know that was where I made some choices that I look back on now and can say with all honesty, with the right intentions in mind I made stupid choices with my body. That was the decade where I said to Mark, you need to take the kids on Sunday and take them for hikes. My intentions were good, I wanted them to have dad and boy time, without mama. Mama was in fast burnout mode from homeschooling, and really thought they needed that time from me as much as I needed it away from them. The problem was that those Sundays of wandering through the trails of Patapsco State Park were my blood pumping cardio workouts. With giving those up, I gave up my workout. That was a big mistake. I can clearly see that in my rear-view mirror of life. I've paid the price with steady weight gain. Although, it took the next decade for me to see it. I don't recommend being so intently focused on your children that you forget yourself. However, I doubt many do.
Marching right along into my forties and raising three teenage boys, I excused myself again, and gained more weight. some of it hormonal, emotional, some of it spiritual, most of it laziness. I'll take my blame. Place it on my own shoulders. Interestingly, through my forties, I was struck with several weighty lightening bolts. Contrary to when I was 20 years old, in a horrible marriage, and very much over weight and found that I could survive on coffee, caffeine, a snickers bar,carnival pizza (when I worked for dad) and speed, yeah speed...ok, let's address this: I took speed to keep me moving so that I could work fast at my warehouse job. Fast meant lots done. Lots done meant approval. Approval meant I got to keep my job. I needed my job because I was going through a messy divorce and that's a whole other story. But, the bottom line of that was I had no fat on my body. Because I worked hard physically for 8 hours a day, and I pushed myself, I went from 199 pounds to 89 pounds in just under 1 year. I know, most people are horrified when they hear what I weighed. Let's not be. I'm 5 ft. At that time, I was 19 and it was appropriate. Could I have been on the cusp of an eating disorder? Oh sure, of course...but, let's save that for another time. Ok, so back to the story...
In my forties as I began to stack on the weight, I decided to join Weight Watchers, counting points. Great, I needed something else to add to my day along with raising three teenage boys. I remember going through the drive through at Wendy's and I ordered a salad. I felt pretty damn good. Not a hamburger, not the then wonderful chicken they carried. I ordered a green salad...with mandarin oranges....the wonderful Wendy's chicken mandarin salad. I cried, when later I tallied my points to discover that salad had over my entire daily amount of WW points. I came to realize that day there was something very much amiss with food. I have spent countless hours, reading about foods, fats, vitamins, carbs, superfoods, biblical foods, you name it. Finances have limited me to what diets I could try.
I am without excuse. I am without excuse. I need to push myself. It's simple. PUSH and work harder. I need to get up off my ass, so what I'm tired at times. GET UP! My mom is sick. Yep, another reason to get up and move. I want to take classes. OK, so what, take the damn class, remove something from the DVR and pop in one of my twenty-five exercise dvds and hey! Actually do it!! As I said, I have read and studied, and researched the food thing. The FDA, USDA disgusts me. As far as I am concerned, that's the biggest conspiracy story out there. Again, another writing for another day. Food, veggies, fruits, grains, meat from normal size animals that haven't been chemically tainted, water, water, water..........I think I understand that now. I may not ever reach Skinny Bitch status, Hungry Girl achievement nor would I want to as well. Easy Skinny Life might be more in line, but I think I have a few years on her.
As I close out this decade of 4 times 10...I'll be attending boot camp. Boot Camp and I'll have arms of rubber and legs made of jello. And I'll be stronger for it. I'm entering my decade of 5 times 10 with the determination to move everyday in some way. The last week of my forties will be leaving with it the excuses. I'm laying that down and picking up the weight bar.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grace. It's Not All About You.

Grace is God's unmerited favor. Grace is God doing good for us that we do not deserve. Mercy is God withholding judgment or evil that I deserve; Grace and Mercy is not having a license to live without taking responsibility for what you do

If the world were full of Christians
who knew that being a Christian
is more than going to church, and teaching Sunday School alone, we would be too busy serving rather than looking to see what we don't have.

Those who live their lives according to God’s will, serving Him as their main purpose, those who practice what Jesus taught every day, with everyone they meet,
loving and helping their neighbors, friends, families and those that God has placed at the end of our fingertips.

You don't get to choose when you do this. We're all called to humility, we're all to submit to those in authority over us. It doesn't matter if you're 10 or 80 years old. God gives grace, it's a gift that we do not deserve. Grace is not a tool to manipulate those we're called to serve. Grace is not an expected measuring device of how much you can get away with in life. Grace is not for you to go beyond the boundaries and for you decide that others must comply to your wants. Grace is not your demands placed on others. You do not demand grace from others. Grace is a gift and that grace is undeserved.

Your thanks, your service, your practice, your love, your help, your humility, your submission, they are to be offered to the Lord as worship.

That is your measuring tool that you alone can use to determine how you show the Lord your thanks for His gift of Grace.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Making A List

I love lists! I love to make lists! It's accomplishing those lists that trip me up during my day. I guess I've swayed off my "foodie blog" once again. That's alright though. Afterall, life is just not about food. I can't figure out how to post pictures to add to that frustration.
I wrote out a list of Summer-Bucket-To-Do's the other day. I am determined to x off the many items on that list. So many fun things to do. Day to day pieces that make a summer a lot of fun. There are things that I didn't write on my list as well. I have started a Math program, for myself. Why did I not do this years ago? I certainly have put this off for too many years. I have Bible Study on my personal "to do" list. I need to pay more attention to that item and pursue it with priority.
One of my most undaunting listed items is to unpack and reorganize what was packed away from last summers, pack and prepare to move. God blessed us by allowing us to stay in our home. The Lord showed to me how much I take for granted and without thanks to Him for all the Blessings and all the Extra's He gives to us. Now, I unpack boxes, and I am humbled.
He gives to us so much, and I give to Him so very little in return. I am trying to be mindful of giving Him thanks as I unpack each and every item and place them in their new home.
I Thessalonians 5:18 – In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I unpacked plates, bowls, and serving dishes yesterday. The night before I had mentioned to Mark that I didn't know where the rest of my dishes were. He looked at me like I was insane. My cabinet where I store my plates surely spoke "they're right there!" I knew there were more. He said, "Don't you have enough?" In theory, yes. I have enough plates in that cabinet to feed my family twice over. I unpacked this box and realized that I have enough to host a large dinner. An idea popped in my mind. With Ft. Meade so close I could plan a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner this year for a family, or two...three who may have a deployed family member! Then that began prayer for families who have a loved one deployed in a far away land, including my own! Prayer for those who don't have enough to eat. I have many plates. Prayer for friends. Friends I love to feed. I realized I need another list. A lengthy list that has thoughts for prayer, prayer for those near and far. When you go through your day, don't forget to pray. When you fold your laundry, and you fold a t-shirt that has a Quiksilver design on the front, remember to lift that boy that wears that shirt. When you pick that bowl up left on the table remember to whisper that child's name to the Lord. He knows. As you scrub the sink, the toilet and the floor thank God for the house that He has provided for you. Thank Him for allowing you to serve your family in that task that otherwise seems thankless. Make a list, make two lists just remember to add thanks and prayer to that list. Lists should not ever have an ending.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Whatever sounds good, looks good, taste good is what this is about, right? Well ok then.
Changes abound in my life constantly. Whenever I get comfortable in life, God has a way of nudging my comfortability and adding a new dimension. In our household right now, live one husband, one wife, two sons and a girlfriend of a son. We are adding to our abode, which will dramatically change how I cook for, ummm...a while I suppose. We'll be adding a young married couple while we build an apartment for them in our basement. Trying to feed seven adults on an all organic diet if not even possible for our budget for food. I will not abandon the ship on this, but, will have to find and use non-organics that are in season, cost effective for our home. Sometimes, this might include taking a trip to the "reduced price" shelf and making "something" with over-ripened, bumped up, bruised fruits or veggies. We'll live. I promise. I am going to figure out how to upload pictures on here, and begin to photograph the creations, both organic and non-organic. We do what we have to do, right?
Last night while at the grocery store, I found a variety of over-ripe pears for $1.51 a tray. My immediate thought was, Country Pear Granita! A dessert like this is just what this day calls for, something cool, creamy, but certainly not over sweet. This creation is now hanging out in the freezer, just waiting to be scrapped little by little until the crystals become a creamy slush consistency. Hopefully, there will be pictures...hopefully.

Country Pear Granita

6 or 7 pears, cored, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup or reisling ( I bought one that was on sale)
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the wine. I used 1/2 cup
2 or 3 cardamom pods or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
juice of 1 lemon

Place pears, wine, cardamom and sugar in a saucepan and simmer for approximately 5-8 minutes ( 5 if using over-ripe fruit). Cool slightly, about 10 minutes should do it.

Pour pear mixture into blender and add lemon juice. Carefully, place lid on blender and hold lid firmly in place when using warm liquids in a blender! Trust me on that one!
Puree until smooth.

Pour the puree into a 9x13 pan. Carefully set in freezer on flat surface. Set the timer for 30 minutes. At the end of thirty minutes, use a fork, I use a serving fork for this, and gently scrape through the pureed fruit. Close freezer, reset timer, and repeat. This will take a few hours, be diligent.

Serve in custard bowls and your fruit will be a slushy consistency.

Let me know if you try it!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Flags

I know, I know... I started this blog for the passing of information and seasonal recipes, but, this is part of life that needs to be shared with others.
We were fortunate to have purchased a small end-of-group row-home right outside of Baltimore,in the town of Catonsville. We were even more fortunate to have what I often,jokingly, referred to for many years as the marble farm in our backyard.
I remember the first time I saw the house, and the view from the middle bedroom window. The American flag that flew over the Veteran's National Cemetery was visible from the doorway of what would become the boys bedroom's. I knew that those bedrooms in our small home would be the safe places for my boys for many years to come. The bedrooms with the view of the American flag flying high over the final resting place of so many soldiers.
Many people were amazed to know that we purchased a house with a grand view of a cemetery. Some called it creepy. It never bothered us though, we liked our open sky view and the marble reminders of freedom from our kitchen deck.
The first Memorial Day in our home, I didn't think it would strike me as it did. With toddlers grabbing tight to wrought iron rails, and holding my baby, we watched swarms of families arrive at the cemetery on the Thursday prior to Memorial Day. Little boys to almost grown men, ready to honor those who had fallen,by placing a tiny 4" x 6" flag in the front of the freshly scrubbed and washed arched marble markers of each soldier who had paid an ultimate price with the giving of their life.
My children grew up watching this tradition of our local scout troops. The boys could hardly wait to become a part of this tradition themselves. They did become cub scouts and did get to poke flag stakes into the ground before the markers of men and women who died for our freedom. I don't know what went through their minds as they did this, but I remember watching them and thinking that they too could be soldiers one day.
Twenty years have passed by in a flash it seems, and one has served in the Army, another is serving in Iraq on this 2011 Memorial Day. The baby that I held in my arms 20 years ago will be leaving home later this year to serve in the Air Force. Time has flown by since we first watched little flags wave in front of those markers the first time.
I no longer wonder what was going through the minds of my three little energized boys as they placed flags, I now know what went through their minds.