sweet & sour chicken

Jun 14, 2018 by

I used to make this meal all the time. Then when I was injured in 2012 and stopped cooking on an even less regular basis than I usually do, it was forgotten. But it was one of Blythe’s favorite meals and today I was thinking about her all grown up and decided to make it and see if my other kiddos liked it as well.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

  • 3-4 TB. oil (I use coconut)
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 C. pineapple tidbits with juice drained off and saved for later
  • 2 C. chicken broth
  • 4 TB. Bragg’s Amino Acids
  • 6 TB. vinegar
  • 1/2 C. honey
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 TB. cornstarch
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 2 C. cooked chicken, diced or shredded
  • 6-8 C. brown rice

Cook rice. Drain pineapple and savie juice. In large skillet saute green pepper, green onion, and pineapple in hot oil for 3-4 minutes. Add pineapple juice, broth, Bragg’s, honey, and salt. Stir cornstarch into water, then add to pan. Cook and stir gently until thickened. Add chicken and heat through. Serve over hot rice. Serves 12.

I hope you like it! I think I’ll make another batch up and put it in the freezer to take on our next camping trip.

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goodness, i’m exhausted

Apr 2, 2018 by

I’ve been on a pretty insane schedule even for someone with a full pocket of spoons…and we all know my spoon level is not ideal. I am tired. More than tired.

And it isn’t going to get better for another month. In the past month, I have had four trips, with another one this week. Fisher is in a Shakespeare play at the end of the month and his rehearsals are on the increase. On top of that, I have been dealing with another blasted knee injury, a head injury, a rib dislocation, and quite a few passing out episodes. Somehow, in between the trips, injuries, and daily life, I’m working on my daughter’s wedding which is in less than three weeks from today.

I still haven’t found a dress to wear to the wedding (oh, the tears and body shaming I’ve been trying to fight), nor finalized the bridesmaid’s dresses, bought the food for the wedding, got the sign-in book, or figured out a zillion other details. The truth is, I have no idea what I am doing. I have an amazing group of friends who are saving me from complete failure, but it is really challenging for me to show up, day after day, in the wedding planning work. I just want to go to bed.

So today I did. After a morning of homeschooling and a bit of family history work, I took a long bath, read a soul-soothing book, and then fell asleep for several hours. It was just what I needed.

I think I need about fifty more long soaks and longer naps. I plan to sleep from May 11 – June 3. Surely that will work?

If I can just make it to May 11, then I can rest. In the meantime, I’m going to need as many naps as I can get.

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this day will always be sacred to me

Mar 27, 2018 by

On March 27, 2012, my dear Jessica’s father laid his hands on my head and gave me a priesthood blessing. It was not the blessing I expected or desired. It was far more powerful than any blessing I had ever received in my life. It felt HUGE and full of peace and goodness and His power all at the same time.

God asked me to find my ancestors and to do their temple work for them. I have been dedicated to this work since then (though it took me two weeks to get started). This is big. Really big. I don’t usually stick with anything for very long at all. The fact that I have spent thousands of hours, enlisted hundreds of people in my temple army, and stuck with it week after week shows what a powerful message God gave to me that day. It was a message with staying power, a message that changed me in a way I cannot describe.

I am so, so grateful for that blessing, for that invitation from my Father to find my father’s family and allow them to experience the joy of building a relationship with Jesus Christ founded in temple ordinances.

This past Friday, we had a group of 22 dear friends meet in the temple to do 106 sealings to commemorate the 6th anniversary of my priesthood blessing. It was sacred and joy-filled and glorious.

God knew the healing I needed was far more than the physical blessing I was seeking that day. He knew my soul needed the buttressing of my ancestors to make it through the physical and emotional challenges of the past six years. He knew I needed their love and protection and joy. He knew I needed more of Him and His son. Through family history work, He has blessed me with all of these things. God is good and He is in the details of our lives. Hallelujah forever and always to the God I love.

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losing patience and finding love

Mar 8, 2018 by

My boy has been grumpy. Grumpy isn’t even the right word for it as it is SO FAR beyond grumpy. Full of mountains of rage? Obstinate beyond all conception? Having never raised a teenage boy before, I really have no idea what is normal. I have wondered if this is some crazy, anger-filled period that all boys go through (and if so, how on earth have generations of mothers survived it?) or if something is going on inside of him that is outside the bounds of normal.

Today is the umpteenth day of the grumps and I almost lost my cool completely and screamed at him for his refusal to do his math and his angry words and dagger eyes. But I didn’t. I calmly explained his lesson to him again and again and again. When he still refused to even try, I told him he could choose to do housework or math. After folding laundry and doing dishes, he finally lashed out at me.

“How many other kids have to have a mom who can’t ride bikes with them? How many other kids have a mom who can’t really do anything with them?”

Oh my. Big feelings right there.

I was a bit tempted to lash right back at him and say “I JUST bought a bike and we WILL be riding together and STOP your whining about how hard your life is and do your math. For heaven’s sakes, you have parents who love you and food to eat and hundreds of Legos and gobs of books and clothes to wear and you live in America and are not in a war zone!”

But I didn’t. I responded with a soft voice and said, “Oh buddy, I know. I know it is hard to have a mama who can’t do all the things you wish she could.”

At some point, I did remind him that I will be bike riding with him as soon as the snow melts and that we are going to have some epic adventures. And then he started crying and said, “What chance is there that you won’t get hurt again when you ride your bike and you will be in bed for another two years? Not very big!”

So fear and sadness are at the bottom of this grumpiness. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it sure does give me a window into his soul.

I know my broken body is not the worst thing in the world, not by a long ways. I know our lives are full of blessings and rich with beautiful friendships and awesome adventures. But today I saw for a brief moment how very heartbreaking it is for my tender little boy to have a mama whose body doesn’t work like normal. More love, more patience, more nurturing, that is what this boy on the cusp of manhood needs from me.

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sometimes mothering is hard

Mar 6, 2018 by

Mothering is getting the best of me lately. All these vastly different people with different needs, challenges, and personalities living under one roof is hard. Really hard.

We have still not adjusted to having Blythe back in our home after her mission. It has been almost a year and parenting an adult child is still something I haven’t mastered. There are lots of wonderful moments. And there are lots of hard moments. I love this girl of mine so fiercely, so deeply. Yet, it is hard for me to have a pleasant conversation with her.

Sidebar: This girl is doing amazing things. She came home from her mission, started school two weeks later, started at a college of massage therapy program a week after that, and excelled in her classes. She graduated in December, took her boards last week, passed them on the first try, and is ready to start looking for a job in the massage therapy field. She is engaged to a young man and getting married in April. So many good things going on in her life and I’m so, so proud of her.

And yet, it is still hard for us to understand each other. And it breaks my heart.

Then there are the daily ups and downs with homeschooling. My boy who doesn’t want to do math EVER and at the same time giggles while I read our latest read-aloud, Wee Free Men. The girl who wants to create and build and invent and paint and makes messes all over the place every single day. The teenager we rarely see because her schedule is so tightly packed with gobs of good things. The stomachs that are hungry and the hearts that need to be soothed – it all takes so much of me. It is exhausting and soul-filling all at the same time.

I love mothering. I really, really do. I never thought I would, but I have given my brain and my heart to raising these children well and loving them fully.

But I’m not all that good at it. I’m not a natural and it takes serious effort for me to love and serve and give.

After a rough morning with my boy and two rough days in a row wtih Blythe, I’m tempted to throw in the towel. To give in and give up and say, enough, I am done.

Instead, I am going to dig deep into the marrow of my soul and remember who I am and who God is and who they are and I’m going to keep on trying to mother them.

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six years

Feb 20, 2018 by

It is early morning on February 20, the sixth anniversary of my hip injury. The thoughts and emotions and heartache and joy and pain and gratitude of the past six years are swirling around in my soul. I can’t actually capture the magnitude of this experience in our lives, but I want to try to share some of my thoughts so I can always remember this moment of the journey.

We are at a place I didn’t know we would ever arrive. Over the past six years, I have been in wheelchairs, braces, splints, and tape continuously. At least one, and usually many at the same time, body parts have been injured and needing to be held together. Hips, sacrum, ribs, wrists, hands, ankles, feet, knees, jaw, vertebrae, elbows, shoulders, and face along with all the muscles and fascial layers associated with those joints. Thanks to hundreds of stem cell injections, I have been out of all my braces since August and have been out of tape since late December. I am actually, factually exercising multiple times a week – muscle building is happening!

AND I BOUGHT A BIKE! Yesterday, in honor of this sixth anniversary, I decided to celebrate in a big way and buy an upright bike. Last week while I was in San Diego after my stem cell treatments, Tami and I rented cruiser style bikes to ride from the beach to a darling restaurant we discovered in January. We rode about a mile and I was in HEAVEN!

It was hard as heck on my leg muscles, but it didn’t hurt my pelvis, so the wheels in my brain started churning. I came home and talked to Jeremy, my amazing PT, about biking. He initially vetoed the idea saying there is no way my pelvis could handle the force of being upright on a bike. After looking at crank forward bikes (which use a very different geometry from normal upright bikes), talking with Jeremy some more, and testing out all our local options, I found a bike that doesn’t hurt my pelvis AND I BOUGHT IT!

This beauty is the Felt Verza Cruz. It has crank forward pedals that open up the hip area, an adjustable, giant, comfort seat that can slide on that funky, curved seat post, and an upright handlebar position so I don’t have pressure on my very weak elbows and wrists. For any of you locals, Dave’s Bike Shop has them in stock and will take care of you.

Yesterday, Keziah and Fisher loaded up the trailer with all the bikes and we went over to the lake to ride in the 20 degree frigidness. It was SO cold. AND it was so fun to be on a bike and riding with my kids.

In a time I almost cannot remember, we were a cycling family. We rode our bikes everywhere, violin lessons, the grocery store, the park. In the first year we were married, Richard and I sold his old Hyundai and bought bikes so we could ride all over Boise. When Blythe was born, we bought a bike trailer and hauled her around with us. In the evenings, I would take my bike out and ride 10-30 miles on a regular basis. It was my time to be with God. Thirteen years ago, I had to stop riding my upright bike after my pelvis was damaged in a car accident when I was 40 weeks pregnant with Fisher. I didn’t let that keep me from cycling for long – when Fisher was about a year old I bought a high racing recumbent bike and happily rode my cares away many a night until that fateful February day in 2012 when everything changed…seemingly forever.

I have held on to that recumbent bike as a symbol that I would not give up the hope of healing. Doctor after doctor told me I would never ride it again and I should sell it. But I held on to that dream of someday getting back on my recumbent. But I never once believed I might be able to ride an upright bike with my family again.

And now I am. Not a normal upright, but an upright nonetheless. It is a miracle. An absolute miracle.

And so today, my heart is full and my eyes are leaking tears of gratitude. While I have a long, long way to go to get my body strong and functioning well again, right now I am grateful for the past six years of beautifully hard challenges.

  • My Heavenly Father’s tender care. He has whispered to my heart to trust Him. He has held me when my soul has been wracked with grief. He has taken away pain. He has sent angels, both earthly and heavenly, to minister to me. Oh, how I love Him.
  • Richard. This man. This magnanimous, gentle, full-of-love-for-me superhero. He would never think of himself as a superhero, but he is. He takes care of me with a steadfast, patient, always encouraging love that gives me wings to fly even if I’m stuck in bed.
  • My amazing children. Oh, the tears. These kiddos have been through a lot. They have had to watch their mother seize on the floor, speak incoherently, be carried out of buildings, and sob her soul out. They have had to be cooks and cleaners for years. They have put up with an often cranky mama, endless doctor’s appointments, and a lack of stability in their lives for a long, long time. The other night when I was trying to express my gratitude to them, Keziah said, “I don’t really remember life before you were injured, so this just seems normal and not a big deal.” Mom being injured is their normal and they have adapted beautifully. There have been hard days, really hard days of broken hearts and angry words, but there have also been many days full of laughter, learning, and a whole lotta love. I am so, so proud of them and the people they have become over the past six years.
  • My extended family. My mom and siblings and my dad and my aunts and uncles and cousins have blessed my life so much. They have paid for treatments, sent encouraging notes, prayed for me, cleaned my house, nurtured my children, and so much more. They have shown me the power of family again and again. My mom especially has gone above and beyond. She is fighting her own huge battles and she has showered me with love and encouragement on a nearly daily basis.
  • My absolutely incredible friends. I am richly blessed to have a huge community of homeschooling friends who have wrapped me up in their hearts and taken care of our family. We could not have walked this journey without them. Meals, hugs, rides, and rescues are just the tip of the iceberg. So frequently on my darkest days, a friend would come and lift my spirits or love on my children, and that would be a lifeline to get us through the hard. Many, many events and activities have been interrupted by my having a seizure or by another of my body’s needs and people have responded with love and patience every time. My dear friends have listened and laughed and cried and mourned and hoped and dreamed and everything in between. They are amazing. Oh, how I love the amazing women in my life. I’ve also been deeply touched by my church and online communities. I cannot express how life-giving the words and hugs and meals and encouragement have been. So many times when I didn’t know how we would go on, someone would reach out with a heart full of love and somehow we would make it through.
  • Stem cells and all that goes with these amazing treatments – the miraculous healing they have given, the money for treatments, and the many trips to Mexico that Tami has left her family for, taken care of me, and been a superhero in all the ways. She has sacrificed much and I’m so, so grateful. There is no way I could have done this without her. Oh, how I love her! Dr. Calzada’s treatments have given me a life again. When I first saw him in January 2015, I was hardly able to digest food, was having seizures on a regular basis, could not bend my hip more than 150ish degrees, had a torn LCL along with many other injuries, and had little hope of ever improving. I had been on a continuous downhill spiral with my neurological symptoms getting worse each month that went by. Each injury made my nervous system more hypersensitive and there seemed to be no way to prevent the injuries as simply rolling over in bed would dislocate multiple joints. I have been blessed to be able to go to Mexico 11 times. Each trip has been hard and wonderful and painful and full of healing. I’m so grateful for the miracle God has given me and the help that has been showered upon me to enable me to go.
  • My ancestors. On March 27, 2012 I was given a powerful priesthood blessing in which God asked me to find my ancestors and do their temple work for them. I was incredulous that He would ask anything of me when I couldn’t even walk and I was angry that He wouldn’t heal me on the spot and instead was asking me to spend my very limited time finding dead people that I didn’t care about at all. My attitude quickly changed and I fell in love with my ancestors. Researching my family lines, spending time in the temple, and orchestrating an army of people who are helping me do the ordinance work, has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. My ancestors are now dear friends. I know they have helped carry me through the past six years. They have spoken words of comfort to my soul, taken away the pain of injury, and protected our family from multiple tragedies. I’m so grateful God knew exactly what I needed and asked me to find them.
  • Jeremy, my amazeballs manual therapist. I can’t even imagine where I would be without him. He knows my body and what it needs and is able to put things back in place like a magician. He has stuck with me through injury after injury and patiently helped my body on this crazy adventure. His wisdom, gentle encouragement, and kick-butt skills have been an integral part of getting me to the place I’m at now.
  • The pain. I’m grateful for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain of the past six years. I have many wrinkles on my face that testify of the physical pain. I wish they weren’t there, but I guess they are badges of honor given to those who survive the hard. I hope my level of empathy and kindness have grown in response to the mental and emotional pain. And I’m deeply grateful for the spiritual changes I’ve been blessed with as I’ve come to depend upon God and hear His voice more clearly. The price that I’ve paid to come to know Him more intimately is worth it. I would do it all again to have this relationship with my Heavenly Father.
  • The lessons. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of things I have learned and there is not space or time to recount them all. Here are a few. God loves me. My husband will stick with me through all the mess and yuck and hard. Miracles happen. A smile can change a life. Sometimes a long cry is necessary. Grieving can be beautiful and it is an essential step on the path of healing. People are good and kind and come in all sorts of superhero packages. Covenants with God provide power in my life. Hugs fill my heart. Hope is critical to a soul’s survival. I’m braver than I believed, stronger than I knew, and loved more than I ever knew was possible.
  • Thank you. Thank you for the big and thank you for the small. A huge thank you to each one of you who have blessed my life and walked this journey with me. Thank you for your love, encouragement, friendship, and hope. The importance of your influence in my life and the life of my family is immeasurable. We have needed each one of you and are so, so grateful you have been part of our journey.

    I have no idea what the next year or six years will bring. But on this day, my heart is grateful for where we’ve been, what we’ve gone through, and where we are right now.

    She looked back and marveled how far she had come. She didn’t wonder how she made it. She already knew the answer. Only with God’s help had she powered through. For without His strength, she could do nothing.

    I just read through the past anniversary posts and boy, howdy, it has been a ride. If you want to check them out, here they are:

    2013
    2014
    2015
    2016
    2017 – must have missed writing about it!

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