Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The True Meaning of Memorial Day

This weekend was Memorial Day weekend.  To many people this means parties, barbecue, family, maybe a beach trip or a vacation.  All of these things are good, joyous even.  However, this weekend is not about the start of summer, good weather, or even time with family.  This weekend is time to reflect on life, liberty, freedom, happiness, and so much more.  Sure parties, vacations, and family time are all related to those things but why do we have these things?  How are we free?  We are free in large part due to the sacrifice of our military past and present.  Technically to those who died for our liberty, peace, and freedom.

Our Girl Scout troops gathered this weekend to place flags on every grave in our local National Cemetery.  Joining them (or rather we joined) over 1,000 people honored the sacrifice and strife these people went through for themselves and for us.  The sight of a National Cemetery covered in American flags is profoundly moving.  Kids, adults, veterans, everyone was moved to some emotional degree - the number of tears shed Saturday morning could certainly move mountains.  This was far from our first year attending this event yet it left me as emotionally raw as the first visit.

My grandfather is buried here, so are the grandfathers of many of my scouts and their families.  So is the brother of a friend I am getting to know.  Some of those buried here died of old age but with war stories, some died in the middle of life far from home, some passed here at home but still at war in their souls.  Each grave contains a host of memories and stories, love and loss.  As we audibly thanked each soldier or his wife (they serve just as much) for their service it brought the memories and love to life.  Grown men (bikers too) cried and it showed how precious life is.

The world has good in it.  Lots of it.  Over 1,000 people spread good in a matter of a few hours.  People will see and enjoy that good all weekend as they visit their loved ones gone before us.

A soldier, double amputee himself, placed flags on the graves alongside the Girl Scouts, parents, grandparents, daughters, sons, and random strangers.  People stopped and thanked him, encouraged him, cried for him.  Yet he was there honoring those who served our country the same as me, thankful, grateful, and full of love for this country and what is stands on.

Then on the way home from the cemetery, already emotionally charged, there was more good. Inherent biblical good.  Just as in the story from Luke 21:1-4 when the poor woman gives her all to the donation box while the wealthy gave but a pittance.

A homeless man dirty, hungry, unshaven, alone; asking for money on the left side of the road.  People well fed and clothed, clean asking for donations for a 13 year old girl fighting cancer on the right hand side of the road.  Traffic was at a stand still and the man - the homeless man - crossed through the cars and walked up the sidewalk.  At first I thought he looked defeated, tired, done for the day.  Then I watched the miracle: he walked up to the donation bucket and emptied his pockets - donating his money, his entirety into the bucket and smiling, fulfilled he walked away.

I am so thankful that I was witness to some amazing miraculous moments this weekend.  That I was able to see God working his hand and to know that these moments still exist.  The moments those soldiers fought, were injured or even died for happen every day on every street corner and in every home.  Moments for us to do good, to spread joy and happiness all around us.  Let us lift one another up and be happy.  Spread joy.

I certainly feel blessed by God this weekend and I hope he blesses you too!

- Ash of All Trades.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

Recently our 5 year old under went a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy and I thought I would share some tips and tricks of the process - you know in case you find yourselves in our situation.  Now first and foremost none of this is medical advice.  This is maternal advice - advice from one mom to another.

Prepping -

We didn't tell our daughter she was having surgery.  She loathes doctors and hospitals and can stress herself out pretty well.  Literally she didn't even ask at the surgery center so we just let it be.  She did great this way and has not questioned us.  Her older sister however was sad that we didn't tell her.  Hindsight - I would do it exactly the same way!

Post Surgery:

We were told she would need a cold liquid(ish) diet for 24 hours.  What we weren't told is that she shouldn't eat anything with red dye for 3-10 days after the procedure.  This is in case of bleeding - we need to be able to spot it as blood not food right away.

Shaved ice
Jello (no red)
Popsicles (no red)
Apple Juice
Otter Pops
Ice Cream

Honestly by 48 hours she was sick of these foods and wanting regular food again.  I was paranoid mom and kept her with pretty soft foods for 10 days (the time frame for the scab to come off).  Hindsight - I would still do it this way!

This surgery cleared her "sleep apnea".  She sleeps so well at night now I had to confirm she was breathing the first 2 weeks because I was in shock.  She is so much happier and well rested.  Extra bonus some of her speech and hearing issues (undiagnosed) have improved.  Her teacher even commented that she is better able to pronounce things and to sound things out.  It is amazing what this procedure did for her and I am so glad we had everything done!

Good luck and feel free to ask questions if you have any!  Again this is just mommy advice!

- Ash of All Trades

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday Dinner!

Welcome back friends and readers!  Above is our first Sunday Dinner of this new challenge albeit late.  Man oh man was it delicious!

Thankfully my husband likes to cook so after 4 hours at cookie booths with my daughters I came home to this delicious dinner.  Yes I am blessed and maybe a wee bit spoiled!

The recipe for the pork is here. (It is similar but not quite the same ours has cooked bacon in the salsa).

The potatoes are just mashed with roasted garlic, green onions and fresh cilantro.  They were awesome!

Asparagus and bacon go so well together - I never liked asparagus until we started experimenting with different cooking methods.  This is just salt and pepper dressed asparagus wrapped in bacon and grilled for 20-30 minutes.  My husband is a happy man now that we eat asparagus - he loves it!

What did you have for your family dinner this week?

- Ash of All Trades

Friday, May 1, 2015

Exercise For Your Sanity

A year ago this weekend I ran my first (and probably last) Marathon!  Yes, 26.2 miles!  It was horribly awful and yet exhilarating and fulfilling at the same time. 

I LOVE running.  I did not even like running 26.2 but it has been my life goal for a long time.  In preparation for running a whole marathon I started slow.  Couch to 5k style then up to a 10k finally I ran a half marathon.

Let me be clear - I am a runner at heart - I started at age 8 inspired by my dad and his running and ran through high school.  During college I ran off and on however once I had my first daughter exercise in general took the back seat.  Faster forward 6.5 years and I was ready to lose the baby weight.  But something happened this time around and losing the baby weight became second fiddle to so much else.

Each of these races proved difficult but thrilling.  Each one was a stepping stone to my ultimate goal.  Every race had its own preparation and took step after step of grueling training.  Missing family time, getting up early, watching what I ate, being far slower than ever before, the soreness of long runs!  There was a myriad list of reasons why anyone would give up on this lofty goal. 

Yet I was thriving and hadn't felt better in years!  Running is MY thing.  It is my exercise that radiates through my body, mind and soul - it is the only form of exercise which allows me to slim down and feel great.  Each pounding step releases stress, frustration, and fear.  I have a shirt that says "Mommy of 3 Running For Her Sanity" and it is so true.  When I run regularly I am more balanced and patient. 

While running is definitely my thing - and I truly believe in the runner's "high"; I think there is something out there for everyone.  You might be the queen of exercise DVDs, Crossfit, speed walking, roller blading, you name it you can do it.  And you SHOULD do it.  Find your THING and start it really does make a world of difference!

I have also found that half marathons are my distance of choice but due to life constraints will be sticking to 5k and 10k races as I actually have time to train for those! 

So I encourage you - look into your past or find something new but do something for you!

- Ash of All Trades