Sunday, June 24, 2012

Easy Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is a southern staple, but I rarely make it for dinner.  I don't feel like shucking, boiling or grilling it.  It takes way too long for week night dinners...or so I thought.  That was until my mom let me in on a little secret that I'll share with all of you.

You can cook perfect corn in four minutes using your microwave.  I was skeptical, but I tried it and Jared thought I had gone all out.  It's so easy it's stupid and I can't believe I didn't know about it until now.

1.  Place whole cob(s) in microwave, husks and silks still on.
2.  Microwave on high for four minutes.
3.  Remove, with hot pads, and cut about one inch of the cob off from the bottom.
4.  Holding the corn with the hot pads at the top, squeeze until it pops out.  It'll come out perfectly smooth.  All of the strings will even be removed.
5.  Put some butter, salt and pepper on it and you've got corn on the cob without all of the mess.

This is what your silks and husks will look like after the corn is removed.  See all of those strings?


In case you can't tell, I get really excited about food.  It's great to be able to cook healthy foods quickly and have them still taste great.  I hope you'll find this helpful and enjoy more of this summer veggie!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

Father's Day.  It comes once every year, but I really think it should be celebrated everyday.  Fathers are so important in our lives.  My heart aches for those who don't know their fathers.  They play such a vital role.

My dad means everything to me.  I'm so blessed that he's been there all my life. He has shown me how a man is supposed to treat a woman, what a marriage is all about, and he's taught me more life lessons than could ever be told.  My favorite one is about wealth.

I remember riding in the car one evening on our way to eat dinner.  I was about eight years old.  We were talking about wealth, for some reason, and he told my brother and I that we were so rich.  I laughed at him and told him we were not because  we had an old car.  He told me I had it all wrong.  Wealth is NOT measured by how much money you have, but by how much love you have.  So in that case, we were filthy rich.  I have never forgotten that and never will.  It totally changed my perspective on life.  I can't wait to teach my children that same lesson one day.

My dad has given me so much - his stubborn personality, his nose, a love for cooking, he instilled the importance of family,  he gave me a roof over my head the majority of my life, we had amazing family vacations that I'll never forget...but most importantly of all, he gave me his TIME.  He was always there.  Whether it was taking me to dance or gymnastics classes, teaching me to dive and swim, teaching me to ride my bike (in our garage), or listening to me and giving me advice about boys, he was there.  There's not a moment of my life when I can't remember my dad not being there for me.  That time was worth more than anything money could buy.

Circa 1989
Father's Day 2012

What an amazing man.  I'm so blessed to have him as my father!  He has one of the kindest souls of anyone I know.  He would literally give until he had none.  I'm thankful for his love and his example in my life.

I'm also incredibly thankful for my heavenly Father.  Without Him, I wouldn't be blessed with my earthly father.  Thank God for His endless mercy on my life.
I love you, Dad!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I've decided to share my story after many prayers and consideration.  It's tough to talk about, but it needs to be talked about.  I don't want to be a hypocrite and only praise God in the good times.  I choose to praise Him in the storms too.

I'm choosing to openly share this because it helps my heart to heal by talking about it.  I just pray that someone else can read this and find comfort and hope in my story like I have in so many others.  So many women experience miscarriage, but hardly any talk about it openly.  It really is a loss and some people do not understand that.  I grieve over this.

"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

We found out we were pregnant Easter weekend.  We felt shock, then pure joy and excitement took over.  We were ecstatic and just couldn't believe it.  We had our first doctor's appointment on April 23rd and everything looked great.  We saw an ultrasound of our little baby.  It was about the size of a tic tac, but it was so amazing to see.  My follow-up appointment was set three weeks out for May 10th.  I had blood work done and everything came back perfect.

Between that appointment and the next, I had every crazy pregnancy symptom in the book - from absolute exhaustion to terrible nausea and vomiting.  You name it, I probably had it.  I had the worst food aversions imaginable.  I love to eat healthy and crave vegetables and fruits normally, but I couldn't even stand to see them for about 5 weeks.  It was so bad that I couldn't go to the grocery store.  I only wanted foods that I used to eat when I was a child - Teddy Grahams, PB&J, Cheese Quesadilla, Carnation Instant Breakfast.  It was SO bizarre.  Bless my poor husband's heart.  He was amazing through it all.  He'd go to the store for me, would deal with my crazy cravings, and he didn't get a home cooked meal for about 6 weeks.  And he never once complained.  Not only could I hardly stand to look at food, the smell would send me straight to hugging the toilet.  Oranges, my pantry, coffee, and hairspray were THE WORST smells ever.  Let me just say that being an elementary school teacher and smelling cafeteria food everyday is not easy on a pregnant lady's nose.  There were a few times I'd have to dart out of the lunchroom before getting sick.  And getting anything done around my house?  Forget it.  The house had gone uncleaned for some time.  It was all I could do to drag myself out of bed in the morning and get to work on time.  As soon as I came home, it was nap time.  Even through all of this, I was so so so excited because it was all so worth it.

May 10th was our next appointment.  It was a Thursday and I can remember it being an absolutely beautiful day.  It was so sunny, but hardly any humidity.  I had just put my kids on the buses and as I walked back to my classroom to pack up and leave for my doctor's appointment, I kept having this feeling of sadness come over me.  I remember looking up at the sky and thinking "it's too a beautiful day for such a sad ending".  I have no idea where that even came from.  It was bizarre and scary...but like the Lord was preparing my heart for something.  I have had this happen to me a few times in my life before...almost a sort of intuition I guess.  I tried to shake it off and sent a text to my husband telling him how excited I was.  This was the day we were going to get to hear the heartbeat.

We went in, went over blood work results, which were great, discussed family history again, and then it was time for the ultrasound.  My doctor was able to locate the gestational sac immediately...but there was nothing in there.  The gestational sac had continued to grow at the normal rate.  I was 9 weeks, but it was just a black hole.  She stopped the ultrasound and told us she wanted us to have one done with the high tech machine to be sure.  When she said this, I just knew that it was the end of this pregnancy.  She walked out of the room and I burst into tears.  Oh how thankful I am that Jared was there with me that day.  I had actually told him earlier in the week that he didn't have to come because I didn't want him to miss too much work.  Thankfully, he dismissed that completely and wanted to be there more than anything.  The doctor returned and said we'd have to wait until Monday to come back for another ultrasound.  In the meantime, her nurse came in and told me to prepare for a miscarriage and warning signs I should be aware of.  We were crushed.  I had never even had any miscarriage symptoms.  I was still having morning sickness and exhaustion.  It was all I could do to stop hyperventilating so I could walk out of the doctor's office.  I cried the whole way home and for the remainder of the night.  It was going to be a long weekend waiting for Monday.

Jared and I hit our knees when we got home and just asked the Lord for finality on Monday.  We just wanted a yes or a no.  We weren't asking for the baby back, because we knew the Lord was taking care of it.  So, Monday came.  We went in and had another ultrasound.  It confirmed that we had in fact lost the baby.  It was heartbreaking and my worst fears came true.  BUT I was so thankful for an answered prayer.  At least now we knew for sure.

I had to schedule a D&C because I had what's called an incomplete or missed miscarriage.  My body did not recognize that the baby had died, so it carried on like a normal pregnancy - hcg doubling, uterus and gestational sac growing, symptoms continuing.  They told me it could take up to 6 weeks to miscarry naturally.  Since I knew it was no longer viable, it was just adding insult to injury to keep being reminded of what I no longer had.

I went in that Thursday for my surgery.  By that point, I was 10 weeks so my hcg levels were very high.  The surgery went as well as it could.  I woke up feeling the devastating finality of it all.  At the same time, I was thankful to have that part over with and I was anxious for my body to heal.  I can't even explain my thoughts and feelings during that time.  So incredibly sad, yet I was trying see the grace in it all.  That part was very hard.

 "There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes." David Platt:
That weekend, I had some visitors, which I cannot thank enough for spending time with me, and lots of phone calls and emails.  In the weeks that followed, hand written letters, cards, cakes, brownies, and flowers arrived.  The healing process had officially begun.  You will never know how much it means to me to have people take their precious time to write me or visit me.  I've kept all of the cards and notes and look back to them on bad days. It has given me so much hope and comfort.   There is definitely something to be said for old fashioned handwritten cards and letters.

Today I am exactly 4 weeks post D&C.  I would have been 14, almost 15 weeks by this point.  I'm still patiently waiting for my hcg levels to return to zero. God is definitely taking care of this.  It's been a living nightmare dealing with my doctor and this whole process and things have happened that make me feel so awful.  But I know it could be so much worse, so I'm thankful that things have progressed they way they have. I don't know what I would have done without my faith and trust in Him.

Physically, it's been hard on my body to go through these changes.  It's amazing how fast your body changes during pregnancy.  Almost overnight there are dramatic changes, but they went away almost immediately after my surgery.  It left me feeling gross and unattractive.  It was very hard to deal with, but I was just allowed to start exercising again so I'm able to work on that part.

Emotionally, it's been even harder because I feel like I have nothing to show for it.  I have good days and bad days, especially with these CRAZY dropping hormones.  Sometimes I think I'm insane and other times I feel perfectly normal.  Thankfully, I'm having more good than bad days now.  I still have a good cry every now and then, but I get over it quicker and don't dwell on the sadness as much.  My energy and appetite have returned to normal.  And as great as that may seem, that made me cry all day one Saturday because I felt good.  It was like I finally realized that I didn't even have my pregnancy symptoms anymore.  It still pains me to think about it sometimes, especially when I think of my due date, which was December 14th, or other landmark dates. Right now, I'd be getting close to finding out the gender.    There are just so many unanswered questions, but I've come to peace with the fact that there are just some things I don't need to know!  God is working on this part.  I'm thankful for the Biblical stories of Sarah and Hannah, just to name a few, to help me through this hard time.  God's word is so comforting.

Through this all, I've completely fell to my knees.  Jesus HAD to take the wheel.  This was WAAAAY beyond my control.  But it wasn't that easy.  I was so hurt and mad and sad.  I didn't even know where to start.  Then I saw a quote that read, "When it's hardest to pray, pray harder."  I think God showed that to me to light that fire again inside.  I started praying, even though it was difficult.  It's now much easier for me to talk to God about everything. I cannot describe the feeling of peace and comfort that comes over me when I talk to Him about my baby growing up in Heaven with Jesus.  I can't wait to meet him or her one day.

Jesus said "let the little children come to me & do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these" - Matthew 19:14

The miscarriage has brought my husband and I so much closer and we're praying that the Lord will be glorified through our hurt.  We know He tests us from time to time and I feel that the valleys we walk through bring us a closeness with Him that you can only feel during those low, low moments.  We know He has a plan for us and we completely trust His plan.  We've chosen to be His followers, not just fans, and with that comes suffering, persecution, but also a hope and peace and joy that cannot be explained.  We have been so incredibly blessed and we know He'll take care of us.

I've found some scriptures that have been profoundly helpful in the healing process.  These are a few of them:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 
-Psalm 34:18

I'm not saying I have this all together, that I have it made.  But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached our for me.  
-Philippians 3:12

REST in the Lord and wait PATIENTLY for Him. 
-Psalm 37:7 (emphasis mine)

Consider it pure joy, my brethren, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. 
-James 1:2-4

... For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 
-2 Corinthians 4:17

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things
-Ecclesiastes 11:5 (this one reminds me that I do NOT need to know all the answers.  God knows and that's enough for me.)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 
-John 14:27

And of course...
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 
-Jeremiah 29:11

I cannot tell you how much comfort these verses brought me.  There are more, but these were the main ones I read over and over again during hard times.  There would be days when I was just in tears and I'd open my Bible directly to one of these.  I know there was some Divine intervention during those moments to direct me to these verses.

It's been a hard road, but we're thankful for the experience.  We know God can use this in some way to help His kingdom.  I've prayed that the Lord will break my heart until it moved my hands and feet, which I hated to pray, but I felt led to.  Now, He has done that.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

Yesterday was quite eventful at our house.  I went out the front door around 3ish to go get the mail only to stop dead in my tracks as a rattlesnake lay sunning on my sidewalk.  Flipping out is an understatement as I ran inside shaking like a leaf and crying.  I've always known I was scared of spiders, but I guess I'll add snakes to that list too.  They're just evil, nasty, disgusting creatures (sorry to all of you snake lovers).  They just give me a serious case of the heebie jeebies.

I called pest control and animal control.  Pest control told me it'd be two days before they could come out.  Okay, yeah, that's what I'll do.  Leave a poisonous snake chilling in my yard for days.  No.  Animal control told me it'd be $500.  If that's the case, I'm in the wrong industry.  Actually, the guy said, "four eighty-nine," to which I replied, "four dollars and eighty-nine cents?  Because surely you didn't mean four HUNDRED eighty-nine dollars."  He confirmed the four HUNDRED.  Umm, no thanks.

I had to distract myself to get my mind off of the snake..  I just kept imagining it curled up on my doorstep, waiting for me to open the door or watching me through the window.  By the way, we never did find it.  I'm praying it was just passing through, on it's way to its forever home in Hades.  I'm keeping a very watchful eye, though.

I decided baking would make me feel better so I got to work on some peanut butter cookies.  I found a recipe on pinterest awhile back that claimed these were "healthy".  Can't say I agree with that completely due to all the sugar, but they were good and very simple.  Perfect consistency.  There's only 4 left this morning and I made them yesterday afternoon.

Peanut Butter Cookies

-1 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy)
-1 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp of baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Mix together the peanut butter and sugar.  
3. Add the egg to the mixture, combining well, then add the baking soda.
4. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 10 minutes.
6. Enjoy with a big glass of milk! 

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

End of the School Year

My first year of teaching has come to an end.  I could not have been more blessed with a wonderful class, school and co-workers.  I truly miss those kids so much now that summer's here!

Our last few weeks together were really special and will always make me smile when I think back on them.  This class and I will always share a bond.  We went through a lot together and they were my first class.  They better come back and visit me!

I planned some fun activities for us to do at the end of the school year.  First and foremost, I was attending a workshop during the teacher workdays, so I had to get my room packed away before most.  I capitalized on the students' energy and had them help me.  We had fun taking down posters and packing a few boxes.  They loved to help and I definitely appreciated it!

After we organized and put away all of their books, I went out and bought shaving cream so they could clean the desks.  I remember how much fun shaving cream was when I was a kid, so I wanted them to experience that too.  Umm, to say they loved it would be an understatement.  I only used 2 cans on 25 desks, but that was more than enough.  They had a blast!  And it makes the desks amazing clean.  I let them play around with it for about 30 minutes, drawing pictures, writing notes to their friends, etc.  Then they had to buff it in and I came around with a wipe to clean any excess off.  It was so easy and made the room smell really good.



After we cleaned the desks, we put them all in a big circle (instead of their team seating) and enjoyed a class pizza party, games, movies and stories.  I taught them how to play the "Cup Game".  We used to play this game all the time in high school during SGA functions.  I loved it and I think my students loved it too.  They told me they went home and taught their parents and siblings.  Here's a video if you want to learn how it goes.  We got going really fast and if you messed up, you were out.

The song I taught them is a little different.  It goes, "Clap, clap.  One, two, three.  Clap, then move.  Clap, upside down, then to you!"

I made my students a small end of the year gift.  I couldn't go spend a fortune, but I wanted to get them a little something.  I saw an idea on Pinterest (of course), so I tweaked it a little to work with what I had.  I thought it turned out cute and they loved it.  It doesn't take much to make kids happy! :)

Here are the supplies you need: ribbons, gift tags, swirly straws, kool aid packets and a hole puncher.

Punch a hole through the gift tags and the corner of the kool aid packet.  String a ribbon through them both and tie it to the straw.  Easy peasy, cute and colorful.  I think this project cost me about $12 for 24 students.  Not too bad!

My favorite activity we did by far was on the last day of school.  I taped a piece of paper to each of their backs, gave them all a marker and told them to go around the room and write on each others paper taped to their back.  The only rule was they had to write something kind, something they liked about the person.  Surprisingly, they did amazing on this.  They never got rowdy and they were REALLY into it.  I didn't even have any problems with someone sneaking something rude.  I shouldn't have been surprised because we were pretty good about having a very supportive classroom.  Like I said, we went through a lot together this year.

Once everyone had a chance to write on each of their classmate's backs, I told them they could take the paper off and read it.  I had some students crying over the nice things their classmates wrote.  It was an amazing activity.  I told them to always keep it in a safe place and anytime they had a rough day to take it out, read it, and remember that someone loved them.  I had a teacher that did this activity with me in high school and I still have my paper.  It really made an impact.

Once we were done with that, we did a round robin and shared funny stories and favorite memories from our year.  We were laughing so hard at some of the stories.  I read them a poem (another Pinterest find) that totally fit how I felt about them.

The great thing about teaching older kids is that they can write notes to me and tell me how they feel.  I received several notes that made me cry and thank the Lord for giving me this amazing opportunity.  I will keep these in a very special place and look back on them anytime I have a bad day.  They make everything worth it.  Students told me I had "impacted" their life.  Me?  Impact?  Just reading those words made me praise God for HIS work through me.  It was all Him.  On our way to the buses, my "challenge" for the year handed me a folded up piece of notebook paper.  He told me not to read it yet, but gave me the okay a few minutes later.  I opened it up and read his words.  He said, "I'm going to miss you.  You were the best teacher I ever had.  I love you."  You know the tears starting coming.  As I put those kids on the buses, the girls were clinging to my hips and crying.  This may be some of the hardest work I've ever done, but it is by far the most rewarding.

I have to give all the glory to the Lord, though.  I asked Him for wisdom each morning on my drive to work.  I couldn't have done it without His guiding hand.  There were times when I'd be dealing with a situation in class, I'd be getting upset, and I'd remember to just stop and pray for His direction.  Each and every time I did that, He opened my eyes to the situation in a way I'd never seen it before.  I just praise and thank Him over and over for this opportunity.

I'm so excited about next year already.  I can't wait to meet my new students and form new bonds.  I hope all of you teachers out there have a great summer!