Sunday, November 25, 2012


Now that I'm a homemaker ... a Stay-At-Home-Mom/Wife if you will ... I find I "have the time" (not really, but we make the time, especially since Tim doesn't come home at 17:30 like a "normal" job, more like 20:30 ... 21:00 ... depending on when he gets off), to make things from scratch.

Last week I made bagels. They're not half bad! And it wasn't quite as hard as I thought it be (mostly just the timing, since Shelby kinda needs me a lot, seeing as how she's a baby). Kneading the dough for five minutes made drops of sweat run down my back and reminded me that my mom has my Kitchenaid mixer! They aren't as "pretty" as store-bought, but I'm pretty proud of them:

For Thanksgiving, I made dressing, pumpkin pies, and ginger ale. Sometimes I have trouble feeling like I made some things (like the dressing and the pie) "from scratch" if they have something in them from a can or box. I don't know who I think I am ... am I going to only consider something homemade if I grow the grain, thresh it, and grind it into flour myself too?

Even then - I didn't create grain. Only God can do that. So really everything is from Him. Maybe that's a roundabout way to think about it, but I like to. Even when I bake a pie, that pie is from God! And that, if you ask me, is one of those things child-like faith is about. God gave me this scrumptious piece of pie. He created pumpkins, my grandma whose recipe it is, and my hands that put it together.

 So currently my "signature" homemade item is my ginger ale (which is more like ginger beer). If you don't like ginger, you wouldn't like it - I like it pretty strong. It really isn't that hard! I'd be happy to share my current recipe (it does change a bit here and there over time):

You'll need:

  • 3/4 a cup turbanado* (raw) sugar
  • Unchlorinated water
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Champagne yeast**
  • 2 lemons
  • A thoroughly cleaned 2 liter bottle
  1. Add the sugar to 1 cup of unchlorinated water in a sauce pan.
  2. Grate "enough" ginger (I'm not even sure how I judge when its "enough", but I'd say two inches of good thick ginger root is a decent guesstimate). I highly recommend a ginger grater for this. Crate & Barrel sells (or at least sold at one time?) one for about $5 made of porcelain - I just love the "vintage" look. Though when we moved someone put it in the bathroom, probably thinking it was a soap dish.
  3. Heat the water, sugar, and finely grated ginger just until the sugar dissolves. Cover and let steep for an hour or so.
  4. Strain out the pulp using a fine mesh strainer. I've never tried it, but cheesecloth might work? Really press it and get all the syrup out!
  5. I like to go ahead and add some water to my 2 liter before adding the syrup using a funnel.
  6. Add the champagne yeast through the funnel, and wash it down with a little more water. At this point I like to fill the bottle about 3/4 of the way up. In my mind this protects the little yeasts from the acidity of the lemon juice by diluting it as it comes in ... but that may just be silly?
  7. Squeeze in the juice of the two lemons. I love my funnel, as it came with a strainer with openings a great size for catching lemon seeds. Tim taught me a trick for really maximizing the juice output while minimizing the hand-crampage ... roll the lemon on a hard surface firmly before cutting it.
  8. Fill the 2 liter the rest of the way, leaving about two inches of air from the lid.
  9. Replace the lid, and give the bottle a gentle shake. Place it in a warm area where you won't forget about it ... it can explode if forgotten!
  10. Squeeze the bottle from time to time, and when it gets tight, burp it! Watch for carbonation in your ginger ale, and when it is to your liking refrigerate it to stop the process.
*I've found turbando sugar shortens the process to about 24 hours rather than 48 and gives the ginger ale a beautiful caramel color. And I like that it is less processed than white sugar.

**I use champagne yeast as it lends less of its own flavor to the drink ... I don't want my ginger ale to taste too "yeasty."

If you like adult drinks, Tim found me one that uses ginger beer which my homemade ginger ale is great for called a "Moscow Mule." Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime over ice in a tall glass and add 1.5 oz your choice of vodka. Fill the rest of the glass with homemade ginger ale and enjoy!

Now if only I could grow sugar cane and ginger ... and start a little champagne yeast colony. Actually speaking of colonies ... if anyone has some good suggestions for where to get or how to start a sourdough, and some recipes for using it ... I'm all ears!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Shelby Hope's Dramatic Birth - She's Here!

“Your husband said you’d want to nurse her right away … would you like to do that now?” Needless to say, Tim is my hero. He was with Shelby the moment they let him be in the nursery. Thanks to my family eagerly watching through the nursery windows I have pictures of some of those first sweet moments. I later found out Carrie called from the surgery to let him hear Shelby crying for the first time.
Nervous Dad ...

Baby Shelby!
First I remember seeing dark hair, still damp and slightly curled. And tiny, perfect fingers. We needed no introduction … the nurses helped me on my side to nurse her, and she immediately found me and latched on like a champ. Our daughter.

The days following were a frustrating blur, but the hospital was amazing about letting Shelby and Tim stay with me as we waited for my blood pressure to stabilize. Coming home was a shock … “home” the day I left work was the second story of an apartment and a downstairs neighbor named Phil … now home was a restored Craftsman in a small town. I walked gingerly into my new life with our parents greeting us on our new front porch … carrying our new family member in my arms.

I don't have the wonderful proud papa pictures, so until I find them here is Shelby's first bath!

 I will never be able to thank everyone involved enough ... our family, our selfless friends who not only helped us move, kept us company, and communicated for us, but also who filled our freezer so we didn't have to worry about food that first month ... and the protection of a God who loves us. Thank you for praying with us - we have a lot to be thankful for this year!

Three months later

Shelby Hope's Dramatic Birth - The Decision

Sometime during the night Friday, my nose started bleeding. I’ve never had a nosebleed, so that was weird. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time … even though Tim held my nose for 20 minutes and it wouldn’t stop. “It’s pretty dry in here” I told myself. The fact that platelet levels were part of HELLP didn’t cross my mind – which is just as well. The only way Shelby was going to know anything was wrong would be if I started to get upset. Staying calm was the best thing I could do for her.

Saturday – the day we were supposed to be moving from our 2nd floor apartment to a cute house in the country. Saturday morning the Pitocin did not get started at 6am as planned. I don’t remember what time it was, but one of the doctors from the practice I go to came in (I think our wonderful nurse was there too) and told me I had a choice. My platelet levels were basically in the toilet – there was blood in my catheter, and last night’s nosebleeding episodes, as evidence. I was losing the ability to clot my own blood. I was given a choice.

I could try the Pitocin until 4pm, at which time a C-section would be performed. I could not have an epidural even if I decided I wanted one because of the risk of hemorrhaging into my spine.

Or we could do a C-section under general anesthesia. Tim could not be in the room (in our Bradley birth classes we had to say what we were most afraid of, and I was most afraid of being separated from Tim).

Not a choice I was excited to make. No one said anything at the time, but my family all thought the choice was pretty clear and were surprised I was even being given a choice given my deteriorating condition and the risks involved.

Still not realizing exactly how sick I was, I asked a few questions:
  • Could my condition worsen between now and 4pm? It most assuredly would.
  • Could my deteriorating condition affect Shelby? Yes.
  • Did I progress any yesterday on the Pitocin? At this point they obliged me and did a pelvic exam. Now, I knew this can mean nothing – but this was never a naturally progressing birth. I felt like if I had made a good bit of progress there was a chance I could deliver her by 4pm on the Pitocin. I was at 1.5cm and 50% effaced. In over 48 hours, I had only progressed less than 1cm and an extra 10% engagement of her head. To me that didn’t point to her suddenly exiting quickly and safely.

The fact that Shelby could begin being affected sealed it for me, and I haven’t looked back at our decision. She would be here very shortly via C-section and I would not be awake.

Things began moving very quickly at this point. My Dr, who was working on his racing trailer, came in even though it was a Saturday and he was not on call. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this! He is an excellent surgeon and has pretty much been my OB/GYN for about a decade now. I would be going back to surgery at 11:30am. Shelby was about to have her birthday!

I remember the moments before the surgery surprisingly well. At first I was numb, in a whirlwind of information about what was about to happen, friends and family coming to excitedly but nervously tell me goodbye and that they can’t wait to meet Shelby, and my own emotions about having a C-section after so many months of practicing for a natural birth. Tim and my Mom’s tearful goodbyes began to give gravity to the situation … I was going to be undergoing major abdominal surgery, with donated platelets being quickly eaten up in my arteries, under general anesthesia where I wouldn’t hear Shelby’s first cries and Tim couldn’t join me. And I might wake up in the ICU?

Once I was wheeled out of the room that had been my home for three days, I paid close attention to the fluorescent lights passing by overhead until it made me dizzy. Tears were forming in my eyes, but not falling … I was calm, practicing my abdominal breathing.

Then we burst into the surgery suite and a controlled chaos enveloped me. I saw the bags of blood clearly labeled “O-neg” waiting for me if I began to hemorrhage. With assistance I moved to the table, where I was shocked to find I was asked to spread my arms as if on a cross. The anesthesiologist’s assistant was immediately by my head, telling me what was going on … and I saw Carrie, the nurse from my room. I truly believe these two comforters kept me from panicking as my arms were tied to the table.

Various nurses swirled around the room preparing for the surgery and the assistant told me who they were and what they were there for. An oxygen mask was lowered over my face, and he reminded me to breathe deep. A drape was spread over me and stuck to my stomach, but then a discussion over a hole ensued and eventually it was taken up and a new one found.

A sharpie was drawn over the area that was to be cut. Instead of thinking “My stomach is going to be cut open!” I told myself “This is where Shelby will be coming into the world!” I heard my doctor’s voice as they joked about finding sterile scrubs his size (he’s tall) and the assistant told me that as soon as I was out they would be taking her as quickly as they could to have as little of the anesthetics in her system as possible. Suddenly I smelled the gas …

Shelby Hope's Dramatic Birth - HELLP

When the door opened, I took in a breath, ready to listen to the hospitalist and then refuse anything he or she wanted to do. Instead, there was my doctor. I breathed a sigh of relief! We may have had some tense moments in the past eight months when discussing things like episiotomies … but I’ve been his patient for a long time and I really trust him. I figured he’d say his nurse practitioner was being overly cautious and we’d be checking out and on our way to Chic-fil-a in no time.

Instead, he informed us that the blood work indicated I have developed HELLP (Haemolysis, Elevatated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelet levels) syndrome. My elevated blood pressure, coupled with elevated liver enzymes indicated that my liver is in distress … during pregnancy this is caused (they think) by the placenta, and the only cure is to deliver the baby – even strict bed rest doesn’t help. I would not be leaving the hospital until Shelby was born. I tried not to panic, picturing the packing awaiting me at home.

I was given some ugly yellow anti-skid socks and allowed to walk to a regular L&D room. Room 26, which would become my “home” for the next week. I was given a slow saline drip to keep my IV open and informed that once labor started, I would need to be on magnesium sulfate … again, to prevent seizures. Dang it – I was being induced. So much for 100% natural birth … but that didn’t mean I had to have an epidural or anything like that – so I focused on what I was (so I thought) able to control.

The next several days are pretty blurred for me. I remember letting work know I wasn’t coming in (I remember my boss saying “So, do you want to start your FMLA now?” … heh, yeah – I guess so. We didn’t even make it to August). I remember ordering “Hawaiian chicken” from the hospital … oh yeah, a portion sized piece of grilled chicken with a slice of pineapple on top. Actually – some of the hospital food wasn’t half bad (chicken quesadillas, pineapple upside-down cake) as long as you knew what to order.

Thursday morning, I was started on a lower-than-normal dose of Cytotec. I had planned to refuse Cytotec if they wanted to use it after reading horror stories – well, that went out the window. Their plan was to ripen my cervix (which was currently dilated 1cm and 30% effaced) in preparation for inducing labor with Pitocin. I forget now how many doses it was, but I was on the Cytotec all day. I was having contractions, but I only know because they showed me on the monitor. I was barely feeling anything. My doctor came in as I was finishing my breakfast and said I had good timing, because he was putting me as “NPO” (Latin … nothing by mouth).  And I was given a catheter because the magnesium made me a fall risk so they didn’t want me getting up to go to the bathroom. So much for my great relief months previous when we were told on the hospital tour that they encourage laboring moms to move around … that apparently only applies to “normal” labor.

Friday I was on Pitocin, again at a low dose, for the entire day. In the afternoon I did start being able to feel the contractions and needing to concentrate during them. Tim did an amazing job as my coach. We spent a good couple of hours laboring together as he described a beautiful field of flowers, a tree, and a lamb – our little lamb! The excitement that we might meet Shelby today helped me ignore the increasing interventions … I’ve never had so many wristbands and now knew why IV poles have so many hooks.

But, as the day drew to a close … it seemed we were no closer to meeting Shelby, though her steady heartbeat on the monitor was reassuring to both of us. My doctor stopped the Pitocin and let me eat. Tim once again pulled out the little love seat and we settled in for a long night, interrupted periodically by the alarm going off on my blood pressure monitor, nurses coming in for various reasons, etc. At 6am we should be starting the Pitocin again … maybe tomorrow we would meet our strong steady little girl.

Meanwhile, that day, a group of Tim’s coworkers (psh - our FRIENDS) was moving us along with my in-laws. I will forever be thankful and indebted to those selfless friends! They told us not to think about the move, and for once in my life I let go and let myself be dependent on someone else. Was this how I pictured this? NO! I was counting on Shelby being at least 4 days late and assuming I’d have about a month to get the house situated before she arrived. I was going to finish my thank-you notes, unpack, and have everything “perfect” for her arrival. I was going to fix meals and put them in the freezer so I didn’t have to cook right away. Ooooh the plans we make!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shelby Hope's Dramatic Birth - Admission

Shelby Hope Schreiner was due on August 18th, 2012.

We were planning to move into our house in a new town about an hour away on July 28th, 2012. Tim and I had been talking about if we should make a brisket on the grill/smoker for those that were coming to help us. I was looking forward to having a few weeks to unpack and get the house ready before Shelby arrived – and assuming that, like most first babies, she’d be later than her due date. Six days late is the average, in fact.

On Wednesday, July 25th I went to work like any normal weekday. I had a few protein bars and my phone’s charger in my lunch box but nothing else, because Tim and I were planning to eat lunch together after my now weekly appointment with the obstetrician. Around 11am I locked my computer, with an email I had been working on open so that I could finish it when I got back. I obviously had no idea what was about to transpire.

My blood pressure had been up for the last few appointments … not dangerously, but borderline. So we had been keeping an eye on it. Tim had started to frown a little when he checked it at home, but I felt fine so I didn’t think anything of it. Sure, my feet and ankles were swollen – but that’s just part of pregnancy, right?

Our appointment that day was with my Dr’s nurse practitioner as my Dr typically schedules surgeries for Wednesdays. We should have been in on Monday, but he had ordered a biophysical profile for Shelby to make sure my elevated blood pressure wasn’t affecting her growth and one of the sonographers was on vacation.

At the sonogram, Shelby looked great – estimated to be 6 pounds 12 ounces and her heart was ticking away steadily. We watched her almost stick her toe in her nose (how did she have room to do that?) and with new pictures in hand went on to my part of the appointment.

The rest of the appointment is a bit of a blur now. Upon taking my blood pressure and being alarmed, the nurse practitioner had me lie down and took it again. Then she tried my left arm instead. My blood pressure had climbed to a more concerning level. She wanted to admit me into the hospital (which my OB/GYN’s office is housed in) for observation.

I remember following her down hallways, up the elevator, and into labor and delivery triage with tunnel vision. I had my purse, and that was it. My stomach was growling as I dreamed of the Chic-fil-a lunch Tim and I had decided we’d have afterwards. I changed into a hospital gown, scoffing as I bundled up my clothes and rolling my eyes at Tim. We’d had a friend go through this observation recently – I was sure we’d be home in time for dinner. Besides, I had a baby shower at work on Thursday! I had to be there!

Blood was drawn, and the nurse continued to monitor my blood pressure. Meanwhile … people kept coming in the room. Someone came in to ask about my insurance (and they somehow still had me as working for Pflugerville ISD? I’m not even sure how they got that information – that was years ago!). The nurse continued to ask questions about my symptoms (like headaches, etc – which I hadn’t had the entire pregnancy!) and talking about how they need to start an IV. Oh no … here we go. I asked instead for a saline-lock and refused the admission bloodwork – I wasn’t going to need to be admitted so it’d be a waste of time – right? We were moving this weekend! I may not be able to lift much, but I didn’t need to be in the hospital!

We were awaiting the arrival of the “hospitalist” whom she was sure would want to start magnesium sulfate to prevent me from having a seizure. Seizure? I remember yet again rolling my eyes at Tim, and when we were alone we even discussed leaving the hospital “AMA” (against medical advice)...

to be continued

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Praise - Sing!

I've been working on Shelby's birth story - it is massive. In the interest of writing I'm going to start talking about her without explaining how she got here ... three weeks early nonetheless (I love using that word!).

My newborn daughter has already been teaching me things. It's wonderful! I've always heard parents say that, but I never imagined it would start so soon.

Shelby has taught me something about praise, and made me realize some things about myself.

We've been reading from the Jesus Storybook Bible when we put Shelby to bed at night (seriously - get one, even if you don't have kids ... even if you don't read the Big Bible ... it is amazing and has touched my heart in ways 30 something years of "serious" Bible study have not). So we got to the story of Zacchaeus ... you know, the wee little man.

He climbed up in a sycamore tree ...

You can't read the story of Zacchaeus to a sweet little baby girl without singing the song! So Tim and I started to sing. We are not vocalists ... you won't find us on the stage at a church leading worship. But sweet darling Shelby broke out into a huge toothless grin. She loved hearing her mommy and daddy sing ... even if we aren't on key and don't know all the words. In fact, since then we've discovered some of her favorite "music" is when we sing nonsense songs to her about what we're doing (last night's hit - "We're in the car ... and the road is bumpy ... oh look there's a dog .. is it Charlie? Oh yes it is ... Hi Charlie ... here we go around a curve ... weeeeee ... and here's another curve .... weeeee ... there's grandma and grandpa's house I can see the roof ...")

Who wouldn't do just about anything for a smile like this??

I am usually pretty shy about singing. At church, I'm afraid someone might hear me. Heaven forbid. I often can't even hear myself because the music is so loud, but when I start to really feel the worship ... here comes one of those negative voices telling me to be careful or someone might somehow hear me over the din.

God must hear us kinda like Shelby hears us - not that we're the parents and He's the child ... but the other way around. My eyes fill with tears just imagining sweet Shelby singing ... that would definitely make me smile. I don't care what she's singing. Or if she can carry a tune.

I've always known in my head I am not singing worship for others to hear (I don't want them too!) but I've let my self-consciousness damper the true worship that wants to come out. Not anymore. I'm only going to think about my loving Father, and the smile He must get on His face when His children sing to Him.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Losing family, gaining family

I'm overdue in sharing about Rome, but that is going to have to wait right now. Last week, we laid my Uncle Dennis to rest. He was only 70, and had just returned from a trip to the Mediterranean ... including Rome.

Especially in the last few years, I didn't see my Aunt and Uncle as often as we used to. Nor my cousins. But every year when I was growing up, we spent Christmas day at their house near Houston on the way to my Grandma Jensen's house on the coast.

My Uncle was veterinarian. There were always animals at their house, and he found and/or cared for most of my own pet cats growing up. I remember my first cat, Velvet, a kitten our neighbor's cat had ... came down with feline leukemia (before there was a vaccine for that) and his suggestion that if she were able to hold down some baby food there might be something we could do. He was just always so kind, so ready to help, and could gently help you let go when it was time, but wouldn't ask you to give up if there was hope. I wouldn't be able to tell you his favorite animal, from my perspective he didn't play favorites ... with people either.

All my life I wanted to be a veterinarian, and I attribute that to him. If it weren't for less than stellar grades in college (it is actually harder to get accepted to veterinary school than medical school!) and finding out that all veterinarians weren't like my Uncle, and all pet owners didn't want what was best for their pets - that's probably what I would be now. Reality proved to be a little too much for me in this case.

Many at the funeral described my Uncle as a gentle giant ... and that is such an apt description. He was a big man, with big hands, a deep voice, and a big heart (very much like my Grandpa Jensen - he reminded me a lot of my Grandpa). There was nothing scary about his towering stature. I imagine his calming presence is part of what made him so good with animals of all sizes.

But I learned so much about him I hadn't known during the funeral. My Aunt and my cousins were generous in sharing with us more private aspects of his personality, who he had been and who he had become, and his walk with the Lord. He not only left a wife, sisters, children, and grandchildren who I'm sure don't doubt they were loved ... he left a legacy. Tim and I want to leave that kind of legacy. I wish Tim had been able to get to know him better - but he has certainly heard plenty about him from me.

I don't have adequate words for what I'm feeling, but I know a good man is in heaven and that those of us who knew him feel his absence. I also know someday we'll join him.

Perhaps some would blame hormones for my tears, but I also feel a renewed inspiration in just what Tim and I are doing in growing our little family. We want to leave that kind of legacy, and show Shelby Hope that kind of love and kindness in hopes that she will show it to others.

Friday, June 8, 2012

30 weeks

I can't believe it ... we're at 30 weeks. In a few short months Shelby will be here! We're also moving in that time period - at the end of July actually. Yes, we just might be crazy. I know I'm "asking for" her to show up early (like in the middle of moving day or something) ... but then again, this is our first ... more likely than not she'll be late. As long as she's healthy - I say she can come when she is ready!

This journey to parenthood is amazing. We went from cautiously optimistic when that little digital test surprised me (but not Tim) with a "YES" to watching her kicks with confident joy. It is a little intimidating (ok, a lot) that we're about to have so much responsibility. But at the same time, she starts out so tiny and just wants her basic needs met ... and I know that even the tough times are precious. We'll be doing this together ... not only that, we have a loving Father who will be there every step of the way.

I had promised a while back to write about my trip (broken up of course - Rome wasn't built in a day, and it took us more than a day to visit it!). So the first thing that struck me upon arriving in Paris after the longest flight of my life (thank goodness we didn't do that during the 3rd trimester!) was the Eiffel Tower. Obviously I knew this iconic tower would be greeting us, and I fully expected my response to be something along the lines of "Yep, there's that thing they always show."

One of our first nights in Paris, complete with a full moon

In reality ... I was quite taken with it! It acted as a sort of compass throughout our trip, because you can see it from almost anywhere we went in the city. And the graceful yet industrial crests of its steel arches caught the light in ways that I hadn't expected. It is painted a sort of milk-chocolate color that is deceptively steely during the daylight hours, but almost golden at night. And unbeknownst to me, at night, once an hour, it "sparkles" for 5 minutes. Granted, the ADD in me is drawn to shiny things, but it really was beautiful to see in.

Looking up into the century-old and intricately woven beams
Unfortunately, one of the elevators was broken, meaning we waited in line for quite a while to get to the second level (where the legs come together) so we skipped the very top. Yes, we waited for the elevator - have I mentioned I'm pregnant? Even from there, the view was amazing. I did a little research later (the tower was much taller than I expected it to be; apparently its grandeur has not been exaggerated as I had thought) and at the time it was built the Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world (until the Empire State Building took its place). It was also originally meant to be a temporary exhibit! We certainly don't built our temporary structures like that anymore.

View along the Seine from the tower's second deck

Riding the original elevator (now automated) - no wonder one was broken!
My attempt to capture the "sparkling" affect - and the very last photo I took on this trip!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Can I post multiple blogs in one day? Well, I'm going to. I know I promised to talk about Paris and Rome ... and I will. I will! But right now I've got some other things ready to come spilling out.


I've had freedom on my mind a lot in the last several days. Last night we watched Farmageddon (I highly recommend it - especially if you learned something from Food Inc ... and more so if you are afraid to watch Food Inc) ... and it reminded me that we are in danger of loosing the freedom we so cherish as Americans in subtle ways that, at first glance, appear to be in the name of the greater good.

Click here to learn more ...

I'll start by sharing a poignant quote by Thomas Jefferson which was featured at the beginning of the movie and bears reiterating:

"Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now."

I won't get into the state of our souls ... that's very individual and between you and God, not for me to tell you (though I highly recommend having a conversation with Him about it, often). But with these things that are happening to small farmers in many states, under the name of food safety, and at the hands of government agencies, we really need to think about why we are allowing the government to make these decisions. Do we want them to? If not, what are we going to do about it?

Do many Americans make bad choices when left to our own devices? Of course! Some people may choose to eat McDonalds three times a day ... or survive on vending machine food ... or simply overeat. It's horrible; it is bad for your health (among other things). However ... this is the United States of American ... land of the free and home of the brave. Land of the free. You get to decide. I believe it should continue to be that way.

Before you say "But we can't because of the rising cost of healthcare due to these people's choices!" Well, that's a whole 'nother thing. I also don't believe our health is the government's business ... or responsibility. If you do, perhaps those that have made a choice to rely on the government (and taxpayers) should be held accountable for their decisions. I know the example has been used before but I'll use it again; if I choose certain careers, I'm going to be expected to perform in certain ways (physical fitness tests, performance expectations, conduct expectations, etc) and if I fail to do so, I'm no longer compensated. If you are giving the government responsibility for your health, perhaps they should have a say in what you are consuming. But that should be a choice.

We (Tim and I) aren't choosing to rely on the government for healthcare. So in my mind, the government should not be able to tell me what medicines to take, what my medical care looks like (including the birth of our daughter!), or what I eat. Which is what Farmageddon is all about. You don't have to have a burning desire to drink raw milk to want to protect someone else's right to make that choice. Just empathize ... put the shoe on the other foot ... what if the government said you had to drink raw milk, and pasteurization and homogenization of milk were now illegal ... but you feel pasteurization is safer and that homogenized milk is more palatable? You deserve the same right to choose what you will drink.

So what can we do? Of course there is the old "Get out and vote!" answer. You should already be doing that. Men (and women) died so that you can do that. Register. Get your voter card. Spend some time away from your TV/Facebook/Youtube and invest in the future by getting to know your candidates. I don't mean attending $20,000 a plate banquets ... but do some reading and research. Find out which one believes the same way you do on most of the issues. And please! Please. Don't straight-ticket vote, and don't pick one or two pet projects to base your vote on. There is so much more going on each year than the headline grabbing controversies ... don't be distracted from the subtle ways your freedom may be disappearing unnoticed until damage has been done.

What more can you do though? Once you have a candidate in office (even if they aren't the one you wanted) public pressure can still influence their votes and what issues are brought to their attention.

Vote with your dollars! I know the economy is tough, and food raised humanely and as God designed, clothes that are sewn here, (I could go on and on, and am guilty of not always letting my heart influence my budget) are more expensive ... but perhaps instead of a large quantity of cheaply grown/manufactured food and items ... if we all invested in a higher quality product produced fairly ... the infamous "they" would be less motivated to continue on the destructive path we're currently on.

I alluded to it above, but support your local farmers and artisans. Ok - I live in Austin, Texas which seems sometimes to be the very epicenter of "buy local" (Keep Austin Weird!) and it is possibly easier here than elsewhere. But farmer's markets are becoming more popular all over. Go buy some "real food" and talk to the farmer who grew it. Find out what issues that family or individual may be having, and help be a voice for them. The number of farmers in America is drastically less than it used to be, and like the Whos in Whoville, they need help in raising their voices to be heard. Yeah, I did - I pulled out Dr. Suess thank-you-very-much.

Tim and I dream of working on the family farm together. After the movie last night, he looked at me and said "Are you sure you want to do this?" This makes me want to do it even more! I will not be intimidated into turning away from what I think is right and best for my family. Especially with Shelby Hope on the way in a few short months. I will fight for her to have the freedom I've enjoyed. I will not idly stand by and watch the way of life I hope would be available for her to choose when her time comes disappear. I know it won't be easy to stand by as her mother and watch her make her own choice - but I want to equip her to do that. And I want our government to remember what America was founded on and extend her people that same respect.

No, this isn't just about food, but as one of the greatest of Maslow's hierarchy of needs ... it's a great place to start.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Dumbphone Revolution Failed ...

I'm back carrying a Smartphone ... in fact, I'm posting this from it! Thanks to a family plan, however, we won't be paying any more per month than we were for our prepaid phones (which were worthless at the farm and most any drive between large cities as it turns out).

It was a noble effort and our rebellion lasted nearly a year. Can I live without one? Yes. But they are rather fun and convenient. In fact, I found wonderful food in Rome thanks to an app.

What? Rome? As in Rome, Italy? Yup, that's right. More details to come ... but first I have to download, cull, and edit the 800+ pictures I taken with my fancy new-furbished Nikon D3100 as I traipsed around Europe with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. It was an all girl trip, including little Shelby Hope ... tucked safely away in my 23 weeks pregnant belly.

Yes, I've been holding back a lot of information lately! Expect more frequent updates as the busy spring slips into a lazy (ha! I can wish, right?) summer and we prepare for Shelby's August arrival!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

100,000 miles always seems so far until its over

It seems every year I hear some mention about how busy the fall is … but, at least this year, it seems winter has been busy as well. Spring is upon us! Living in Texas, I’ve always had mixed feelings about spring … I love the new growth, the promise of things to come. The smell of rain and damp earth awakening the senses even as they awaken slumbering seeds and buds that have been waiting for this very moment. But the rise in temperatures also brings, for me, a sense of foreboding, reminding me of oppressive heat that will eventually arrive for the summer.

This past weekend in particular the spring weather, with cool to warm temperatures, clear skies, and friendly sun, made me miss autocrossing. Perhaps, too, the fact that Poopsi the Civic is fast approaching 100,000 miles. We actually took her in a little early for the 100K service, since her extended warranty runs out at 100,000. I figured the good people at Honda might give her a better “once over” before it ends if I am paying for a relatively costly maintenance service. I can’t believe I’ve put so many miles on her! As it turns out - she isn't actually due (nor does the warranty run out) until 105,000 miles. They didn't tell me that on the phone - so we just paid for a rather expensive oil change in a very fancy garage. Seriously - the glass garage doors that enclose their climate controlled and tiled garage go up in about 1 second when a vehicle approaches them.

As I thought about what I have done in these past (almost-but-not-quite) 100,000 miles - I realized that life goes by so fast. Writing them out is just staggering.

Since I bought the Civic, I’ve:
  • Finished my brief career as a middle school science teacher
  • Discovered the joy of autocrossing (we’ll do it again someday Poopsi!)
  • Was involved in my first real car accident (rear ended on IH-35 just south of Riverside exit)
  • Moved to Boston and attended graduate school for a career which had always seemed just out of my reach
  • Lost a beloved Grandmother
  • Received a rejection letter for the job I really wanted
  • Returned to the loving God who always knew I would return and was there waiting for me
  • Received a phone call offering me the job I was originally rejected for
  • Watched my middle brother marry a wonderful woman who I consider my sister
  • Moved from Boston back to Texas … and Austin (which I had promised never to come back to)
  • Started a new career
  • Joined an amazing church that I thought at first glance was a cult
  • Cut my long hair off short (again, it was short when I bought Poopsi!)
  • Realized Austin wasn’t so bad after all
  • Met my (unbeknownst to me at the time) future husband
  • Lost a pet (Minmei the cat)
  • Driven to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota, gotten engaged, and driven back
  • Moved from Austin to the Dallas area, and moved back, with technically the same job for the same employer the entire time (with many, many [too many] 4 hour drives between)
  • Discovered henna and started dying my hair (from red to ... brighter red)
  • Testified in for-real court as an expert witness around a dozen times
  • Started a marriage partnership/friendship/romance orchestrated by God Himself in my parents’ beautiful backyard
  • Lost another pet (Jewel the bird)
  • Traveled with my new husband to a foreign country on a mission trip and escape to the sea in Nicaragua
  • Lost an unborn child, but been blessed by their brief time with us despite the sadness
  • Lived in five different apartments (and just signed a lease to rent a renovated 2 bedroom Craftsman!)
  • Let my hair grow back to nearly my waist again
  • Purchased (with my husband) a 1994 Toyota Landcruiser (the Beast) – so now we have the best of both worlds, a zippy sporty car with dual overhead cams, and a lumbering SUV that would see us through the zombie apocalypse

I can’t wait to see what the next 100,000 miles will bring! I fully expect her to keep going. In this time, she’s only had oil changes, wiper blades, new brake pads a few thousand miles ago, several sets of tires, 2 batteries, one wiring harness (thanks to Boston rats), one unibody reweld and new bumper (thanks to the Accord that didn’t stop when I did), one replaced wheel hub (thanks to Honda’s recall), two sets of sun visors (don’t use them to hold up the shade … they melt), one repaired keying (that happened at work, mistaken identity), one unrepaired keying (again, seriously?? Check the plates, dude!), several rock chips and door dings that still make me sad, and one mud flap (currently in the trunk) which I’m afraid we have to blame on my dear husband.

I wouldn’t trade you in on anything Poopsi the 2006 Honda Civic Si! And we will race again … its Tim’s turn to experience a new kind of adrenaline rush!