My gift this week and what I’ve learned

I had the opportunity to spend one to one time with my son every morning this week while my daughter was at track and field camp. Most often, the three of us spend our days together. That’s great. In fact I feel so very lucky to be able to spend my days with my kiddos, but spending one to one time with either child is less common. When it happens, it feels so special.

It has been a busy week – being out of the house until at least lunchtime everyday, and until 2:30 on my son’s golf lesson days. We get home and I rush to accomplish whatever work needs to be done that day, be it for my employment, laundry, lawn work, grocery shopping, etc. I really prefer to do all that stuff during the day, if I can, so that the evening can be family time.

Guess what got squeezed out of my days this week (or maybe I should be brutally honest and say what I allowed to be squeezed out). It was running. As far as my workouts, I’ve only been doing some push ups and crunches each day, but no running or other formal workouts. On the other hand, I feel as though my son has run me ragged, so maybe I got better workouts than ever!

So, what have I learned?

1) It is great fun to play at the park with my son all morning. Okay, this one might be pretty obvious. 😉

2) My little boy seemed to bask in my undivided attention like a cat in a sunny patch – I should try harder to plan these one to one opportunities with both children.

3) Children have a great deal of strength! It took me by surprise how much I would feel it when we were playing on the playground. Sometimes we’d be climbing something or doing monkey bars, and I would really feel it in my abs. Who knew? By the way, monkey bars kick my butt!

4) When playing a game of baseball with only two people, you better hit a home run every time.

5) Playing tag just might count for speed work. I ran harder playing tag and playing baseball with my son than I ever do when I go out for a run.

And just because I love to share our CSA boxes with you, here’s what we got this week:

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Red potatoes, sweet Spanish onion, garlic, carrots, amaranth, broccoli, summer squash, cucumbers, fennel, beets, sweet corn, pineapple, Ranier cherries, Hass avocados, grapes, and pluots. I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that we got only three ears of corn, but we got six avocados. Somehow that doesn’t seem right. However, I do see some guacamole in my future, and of course I like that!

We’ll be heading up to Duluth tonight for the Nancy English Memorial 5K and some ‘up north’ fun. It’s a beautiful area in and around Duluth.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!! Do you have any fun plans?

A Running Legacy

This coming Saturday, my family and I will be traveling to Duluth, MN to participate in the Nancy English Memorial 5K. I’ve mentioned in the past that sometimes races raise money for charities that I can feel good about supporting. This is one of those races. In fact, that really is the reason we go to this particular 5k. After Nancy passed away unexpectedly in 2008, her family organized the Nancy I. English Memorial Foundation and the Nancy English Memorial 5k. The Foundation awards scholarships with preference given to female non-traditional students with a strong record of community service (though others may also apply). This seems a very fitting memorial for a woman who went back to school to become a doctor while raising a family, who positively impacted the communities in which she lived, and for whom running was one of many passions. I didn’t know Nancy, but I can only imagine that she would be proud of the legacy that she has left, and honored by the Memorial Foundation that her family has created in her name.

I can easily see part of Nancy’s legacy in her daughters. Faced with such a tremendous loss, they quickly looked for a way to give back to their community and honor their mom.  This is definitely one of those races I feel good about supporting. Honestly, I wish this race didn’t exist, and that these young women still had their mom with them.  Since that can’t be so, I do want to support them in their efforts. What a wonderful way to celebrate their mom’s life and create something so positive out of tragedy. 

If you live in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area, you may want to join the 5k fun, knowing that your race fee will help provide scholarship money to a deserving student in the area. If you’d like to learn more about the scholarship program and how you can help, check out the Foundation’s website.

When I Worry

Have you ever been expecting someone at a certain time, only they don’t show up and you can’t reach them? At what point do you worry that something has happened?

Have you ever received bad news from a doctor concerning yourself or someone you love? Do you find yourself worrying in such a situation?

I’m guessing most of us have been in these kinds of situations, and others, when it is hard not to worry. You may remember me telling recently that I couldn’t sleep one night due to worry. I’ve had some things going on that have me worried. I try not to worry. What purpose does it serve, really? Worry, in and of itself, accomplishes nothing. Although I suppose there could be something to be said about it, in that our feelings may spur us to action.

When something is bothering me, worrying me, I try to do what I can and let it go. Often, it seems the action centers around arming myself with information. Being in the dark about something that affects me leaves me feeling powerless. Even if the outcome of a situation is uncertain, it still helps me to know the possibilities and to know my options. Even imagining a worst case scenario can be helpful when I’m worried, because I can picture myself dealing with that worst case scenario and moving on. Believing that I can deal with whatever is coming my way makes a difference to me.

Beyond my own research, preparation, and action, I can also find comfort in prayer and in the Bible. Take a look at these words:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet the heavenly father fees them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ~Matthew 6:25

Now, I don’t believe in just leaving everything to chance, or just waiting for God to provide. I believe in work, in doing what we can to take care of ourselves, our families and our communities. Still, these words do speak to me. Yes, life is more than food. Yes, the body is more than the clothes it wears. Yes, there will be hard times, but it can help to take the focus off the given worry of the day and remember the things that matter most. Love. Friendship. Determination. Compassion. Strength. Even in difficult times, we can lean on our loved ones (or give them a shoulder to lean on), and we can continue living out the values and character traits that make us who we are. Strength, for example, may look different when we’re sick from the way it does when we’re healthy, but it is still there. And bottom line, no you cannot add a single hour to your life by worrying. So, I will stick with doing what I can and doing my best to let go of worry. It’s not always easy, but that’s my goal.

If you have worries that are dragging you down, I wish you peace of mind. What a tremendous difference that makes in hard times, don’t you think?

In the dirt

I spent a quite a bit of time in the dirt this weekend.  My husband and I weeded our garden and harvested some peas and radishes.  We have some blossoms starting on our watermelons, and it looks like we will get about 3 or 4 ears of corn.  Not much of the corn we planted came up.  We finally have a few blossoms on our tomato plants too.  Time will tell if we get some tomatoes.  We started them from seed, and we might not have gotten them transplanted soon enough.  Our spring was cold, though, so I don’t know what we could have done differently.  However much we get, I have enjoyed our experience with the garden this summer. 

Outside the garden, I also did some mowing and more weeding in rockbeds and flower beds.  So far, so good as far as allergies.  I’m so glad! I like to be outside, plus there is plenty of work to be done outside.  It is hard for me to stay indoors when my allergies are at their worst. 

I’d like to share a recipe for the potato salad I brought to a potluck dinner over the weekend.  It’s not a typical potato salad, and it’s perfect for this time of year.  Our vegetables came from the CSA, but they are also available at the grocery store or farmers’ market.

Ingredients:
1 pound new red potatoes
1 pound green and yellow beans
1 small sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
* Gently scrub potatoes.  Leave skin on.
* Bring pot of water with potatoes to a boil. Cook until they can be pierced with a fork or toothpick.  Remove to a bowl to cool.
* Trim beans and cut to 2 inches in length.  Bring pot of water and beans to a boil.  Cook about 5 minutes until crisp-tender.  Remove from pan and allow to cool.
* When potatoes have cooled, cut into 1 inch chunks.
* Chop onion.  Combine potatoes, beans, and onion in a large bowl. 
* In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar and parsley, and pour over vegetables.  Toss to coat. 
* Chill in refrigerator for one hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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I listed red wine vinegar, which is what I would normally use. This time, I used a fun vinegar that my husband picked up for me.

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I worried that the cherry flavor might not go, but it was good.Isn’t it nice that my husband bought me fancy vinegar? I think he gets me. 😉

This week kicks off another phase of ‘busy sporty summer.’ My daughter starts track and field, and my son starts a new session of golf. And hopefully I will continue to squeeze in some running.

Do you like to dig in the dirt? How would you describe your summer?

HaPpY MoNdAy!!

CSA 2011 Week 12

I’m all stocked up on veggies again after yesterday’s CSA pickup.  Here are the goods:

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Cauliflower, summer squash, cucumbers, carrots, rainbow chard, sweet Spanish onions, garlic, green and yellow beans, baby arugula, red new potatoes, and Egyptian spinach.

In the newsletter, the farmers told about the garlic harvest celebratory dinner they attended in Madison, WI.  Garlic was featured in every course, including dessert!  I do love garlic, but I’ve never used it in dessert.  Something to consider, maybe.  🙂

This week has seen the end of my son’s baseball season, and today will be the last day of my daughter’s session of swimming lessons.  They both had the opportunity to learn so much this summer in their chosen sports.  I’m proud of them and glad for them.  It has been fun!

They’ve also both finished their summer reading programs, my daughter as of last night.  I’m starting to make plans for the coming school year.  It’s still July, but it feels like summer is winding down. 

Dear August,
When you get here, please take your time.  I enjoy your company very much and look forward to a nice, long visit.
Love,
Melissa

On the docket for today is swimming, a lunch date with some of our neighbors, and a dinner date with some friends.  I plan to bring some vegilicious foods to share, with farm fresh ingredient, of course.

Beyond that, there is yard work begging for my attention this weekend.  I am nervous, though.  I fear my allergies symptoms will come back with a vengeance if I do yard work, and I’m finally feeling fairly normal, thanks to a few days of Claritin and quality time indoors (sad for an ‘outdoorsy’ girl, but I think it has helped).  Sadly, the work isn’t doing itself.  Wish me luck!

What do you have planned for the weekend?

Southwest Chicken and Slaw

Last night’s dinner was a fun twist on the ordinary chicken dinner.  I had two chicken breasts thawed but no particular plan for them.  I decided to spice them up with a little salsa.  In case you didn’t know, salsa makes everything wonderful.  🙂

I cooked the chicken in a bit of olive oil.  After they were cooked through and browning nicely, I smothered them in salsa and turned the heat to low to let the flavors mingle.

Meanwhile, I made some cole slaw, again with a twist.  I chopped about 1/3 head of cabbage, one avocado, and one jalapeno pepper.  For the dressing, I mixed 2 T olive oil, 2 T rice vinegar, the juice of two limes, 1 t of cumin, and 2 t dry cilantro. I would skip the vinegar next time.

I also made mashed potatoes, and while I really wanted to spice them up too, I didn’t.  I knew my kids would be disappointed if I messed with their beloved mashed potatoes.

I think this is a relatively healthy version of a chicken dinner as well. Salsa is great for adding a lot of flavor without high calories or fat. Similarly, this cole slaw has olive oil and avocado, which are healthier fats than mayo, as far as I’ve read. 🙂

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How do you like to change up a standard recipe?

Oh, I am so embarrassed…

These words make me think of Grover.  Can you tell I’ve read The Monster at the End of this Book a lot over the years?  🙂

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Another title that occurred to me was “I Am Not A Criminal!” but I thought that might be a little extreme. Anyway, I promised to tell you what had me all embarrassed last week, and I’m true to my word.  First, you have to know I have allergies.  They vary greatly in severity from year to year.  I have taken prescription meds for allergies in the past, but in recent years, I have gotten by either without medication or with the occasional over-the-counter medication for a few days here and there when symptoms were at their worst.  This July has been, BY FAR, my worst allergy season in years!

As a result, I have been taking OTC Claritin D.  As you may or may not be aware, the sale of Claritin D is regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Apparently it can be used for illegal purposes.  I really wouldn’t know. That’s not my thing.

So, I head to my pharmacy to get a new box.  I present my driver’s license as always, and am told, “I’m sorry.  You have exceeded the limit.  We cannot legally sell this to you.”

Do the pharmacy workers, and the other customers in line, think I’m a drug fiend or criminal? I wondered to myself. I was embarrassed at the thought.

I felt really frustrated in addition to embarrassed.  I hardly even use medication for my allergies, so how could I have exceeded the limit?

1) There is an error in the database?

2) Someone has misused my identity?

3) You truly cannot buy enough to take as directed on the packaging for more than ten days?

Apparently, number 3 is the winner. The pharmacist said if I had a prescription, I would be able to purchase more. I called up my doctor, who called in a prescription for me, and I now have a new supply. And now that it’s a prescription, I can use our Health Savings Account to pay for it. So there. 😉

I was pretty frustrated over the whole thing. Because of someone else’s bad choices when it comes to using or misusing medications, I felt that I was being treated like a criminal. Again, due to someone else’s bad choices, I found myself unable to take the medication that would relieve my allergy symptoms until I could speak to my doctor. I simply wasn’t aware that this could happen when it’s offered as an over-the-counter medication, otherwise I would have planned ahead and made arrangements with my doctor in the first place. Luckily, I didn’t have too large a gap in doses, so I didn’t suffer too long due to this regulation.

I also couldn’t help but laugh a little about the whole thing. Anyone who thinks I’m interested in drug abuse clearly doesn’t know me. I’m the one who stopped drinking soda because I don’t want to be addicted to any substance, and I believed I was addicted to the caffeine. If I’m concerned about caffeine, how likely am I to get involved in drugs? I value my health and my life too much to throw it away for drugs! I just want to breathe freely and relieve the sinus pain and itchy eyes that come along with my allergies.

If you didn’t know about these regulations, now you do! And now you know one of the things that had me so irked last week. I had “one of those days” and this was part of it.

Have you ever had an embarrassing public moment that you’d care to share? You might make me feel a little better. 🙂