Thursday, October 23, 2008

Got Blood?

I have been so busy lately, I have not been able to blog. My sister-in-law, who's ovarian cancer returned on her liver, has had a rough week and I have been spending all my spare time with her. I sure wish foot massage could cure cancer. I love her very much. She has been in the hospital since Thursday fighting an infection. When someone goes through something like this, you really see their true colors. She is beautiful. She has a great sense of humor, is kind to the nurses, patient, and brave. There is a chance she will get to come home today. She has three wonderful daughters to come home to. Her husband is a good man. He has been a terrific support for her.

Times like these are when I am most grateful that I am a stay-at-home mother. I know there are plenty of other women in my sister-in-law's life that would like to be there with her, but due to their schedule they can't. It is my privilege and blessing to be able to be with her. There are material things that my family and husband do without because of the loss of additional income, but it is such a blessing to be available in times of need.

I have found ways that I can be more productive and organized at home to find the time to spend with her each day. And it has helped reprioritize what is most important in my daily tasks. Right now, I get the essentials done, and let the rest worry about themselves. I learned that from my sister, who is a breast cancer survivor of thirteen years. Woohoo! She went to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner when she was not able to put that meal on for her family. She and her family made that a wonderful memory, and reduced a ton of stress that way. I take my cues from her whenever I can, she is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Someone once said to me something to the effect of, I can see that through the trial of cancer your sister became a really incredible person. No. She was already incredible. The trial of cancer just magnified it. Her family knew how incredible she was all along.

My sister-in-law goes by Bindi, and if you would like to add her to her prayers, I am sure she would appreciate it. We have come in contact with so many kind people that do creative things to relieve suffering. Yesterday, a woman playing a miniature harp came by her room. Someone came by with a black dog for pet therapy. I couldn't help think of my friend Pam. Read up about her contribution as a giggle therapist on the right side of her blog.

Doesn't it just make you want to be like that? For those of us who are looking for a way to benefit others, can I just encourage you to donate blood? It's easy, and not painless. I know, I was supposed to make it sound like no big deal, doesn't even hurt, but truthfully, donating blood is really hard for me. My veins roll and they are small and when I am cold it is even worse. Last time I donated blood I had to drink 3 bottles of juice and they had heated saline bags all over me to get my blood moving. I kind of felt like I wasn't sure it was worth all that. Watching a bag of blood save my sister-in-law's life has changed my tune. She has needed one transfusion so far. Last time she went through chemo she needed two. She truly wouldn't make it without it. I have become so grateful for those who consistently donate blood. It really does save lives and there is always a shortage of your blood type. I don't care what type you have, there is always a shortage of it. There are so many people that can't donate blood because of health, pregnancy, nursing, diabetes etc., it becomes even more important for those of us who can to donate. Sometimes it is so important for us to back up our prayers with action. Maybe we could all say a prayer while we donate blood? So consider this my blogblooddrive. For those of you who can donate, please comment after you have donated. Let's see how much we can accomplish. For those of you who are unable to donate blood, well wishes are welcome. How have you been blessed by blood donation?

Here are a few tips from me for donating. Eat a hearty breakfast and drink plenty of fluids before you go. They will have lots of yummy snacks for you afterward, so don't worry about bringing any. Wear comfortable clothing that gives easy access to your arm. For women, we often run low on iron depending on where we are in our menstrual cycle. For donation they need sufficient iron levels. If you are too low to donate, it does not mean you are anemic. I think they need your iron at something like 12 to donate and something like 4 is anemic. I find it helps to have red meat for dinner the night before I am going to donate and then I never have a problem with my iron level, no matter where I am in my cycle. I prefer to use it as an excuse to have steak, but since that isn't always an option, here is one of my favorite recipes for good old chuck roast. Easy, delicious, everybody loves it.

French Dip sandwiches

1 beef chuck roast (3 pounds)
2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp galic powder
1 bay leaf
3 to 4 whole peppercorns
8 french rolls split

Place roast in slow cooker. Add water, soy sauce and seasonings. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or until beef is tender. Remove meat from broth; shred with forks and keep warm. Strain broth; skim off fat. Pour broth into small cups for dipping. Serve beef on rolls.

I double the water through peppercorns. I like to leave extra juice on the meat to keep it moist and lots for dipping. It is great made overnight and then put in fridge. That way the fat in the juice rises to the top and hardens. Remove the fat, heat and serve. Your house is going to be filled with a wonderful smell. Leftovers freeze well.

1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543)

In honor of Bindi and survivors everywhere -
Donate first, comment later! Can't wait to hear from you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Writing style

I come from a family of comedians. When we are together, we laugh often, we laugh loud and we tend to garner some attention because we make a bit of a spectacle of ourselves. Funny thing is, we get so much of our sense of humor from the quietest member of our family, my dad.

Tomorrow would have been his 77th birthday. He passed away in 2004 from lung cancer. In honor of him, I would like to share just a few memories of his unique writing style. He didn't really love writing letters, but I loved getting them, because they were never ordinary.

He once sent me a letter at camp from the perspective of a fly.

He sent me a letter making different hash marks on the page to represent each member of the family's shopping style (he had all girls and complained that he should own stock in the mall to get some of his money back).

He sent me a letter complaining about how stupid it is that at the end of a letter on the left hand side people write the word over in parentheses even if it is mid-sentence which is stupid because what fool doesn't know that the letter is to continue on the other side? Some people continue to do this even if they have numbered their pages. Redundant. For the rest of the letter he wrote (over) mid-sentence and continued on the other side. Then he began another sentence and in the middle wrote (over) and finished on the other side and kept going. To read the letter I had to keep flipping the page, finding where he left off and keep going around.

Speaking of going around, he also wrote me a letter that started in the middle of the page and spiraled out so that I really did have to keep turning the paper around and around.

But the letter that wins the comedy prize was the newspaper clipping. I served a mission for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). We were encouraged not to read our mail until our day off and we didn't read the newspaper, listen to the radio or watch TV so that we could stay focused and not mentally going home every day. For a straight month, every time someone asked me where I was from and I told them they would tell me of some terrible disaster in the area my family lives and say "I hope your family is okay!" They were freaking me out! So I wrote home and asked my parents that if there was some big thing going on anywhere near them would they just send me a quick note telling me that they were okay and not involved, nothing else, and label the outside "Open immediately"? It was just a few weeks later that I got just such a letter with my dad's handwriting on the outside. Inside was a newspaper clipping from the Associated Press that detailed a domestic abuse incident that had occurred in my home town. Apparently, some man became enraged at his wife and killed her by beating her with a frozen squirrel. That's all the article said. Just 2 or 3 sentences. At the bottom, my dad added one sentence of his own. "Your mother and I were not involved. Love, Dad"

Thanks Dad, for making life beautiful, making your love for me abundantly clear, and teaching me how to find the humor in just about every situation.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Will it pass? Will it pass? Will it pass?

All this talk about Congress and Bailout Bill has got me thinking about kidney stones. Do you think there is a correlation? Like, painful, but necessary to pass? Or, somebody better get in there and lazer blast that thing in order to defeat the stones before the man dies trying to pass them? The man being man in general. Main Street Man, not Wall Street Man. What do you think? Bailout Bill - Pass or Blast? I am undecided and I don't get a vote. Neither do you. Except on my blog.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A newbie hangin' with the cool blogging crowd

I have been tagged, by a favorite blogger and friend, Pam. It is pretty exciting for a newbie blogger like me to get included in the cool blogging crowd.

Here goes! 7 random or wierd facts about me.

1. I am a hair twirler. I have tried to stop, but I just haven't been able to. It is not nervousness, it is just that my curly hair (it is very curly!) winds perfectly around my finger and will flip back and forth from one finger to another. I am not trying to flirt or be coy, I am just wierd. So when you see me with my long hair down you will probably notice that there are two curls at the nape of my neck on either side that are perfect corkscrews. It is not because they grow that way. Maybe my screen name should be Noodlehead.

2. I had a perm once. I know, you just read about my naturally, very curly hair. My sister was in Beauty School and I wanted to look like Barbara Streisand in the Main Event. I didn't. Perming curly hair is not a good idea. Didn't talk to my sister for two weeks. Enough said.

Why, oh why, did I want this hair in the first place? I know, I am the one who posted enough said just moments ago, but I just couldn't go without saying it. There are some things that even being a child of the '80's is not enough of an excuse for.

3. I am a Boggle addict. I play often. I love unscrambling the letters and coming up with words. I have it on my computer and sometimes get caught up and waste large amounts of time. I hate Scrabble. My sisters and my mom always win and they laugh at me, too. I'll play Scrabble with my husband though. We are about even so it is a fair competition. Nobody wants to play Boggle with me.
4. Speaking of my guy, I am deeply in love with my husband. He is so very patient and kind with all my eccentricities, and I tend to be a little bit of a goofball. He is an incredible father and a great gift giver. Often, I am not initially happy with what he gives me. Mostly because he spends more than I have budgeted. Once he gave me a storm door for mother's day. A storm door? you ask. Yeah, that is what I thought too, until I could leave front door open to see the kids playing outside, get fresh air and more light in the room. He knows I love lots of natural sunlight. (I grew up in So Cal, and you can take the girl out of the valley, but you can't take the valley out of the girl! It is, like, so totallay true, okay.) It always ends up that what he gives me is what I really wanted and just didn't know it. He knows me better than I know myself.

5. Our marriage had an interesting start. Our wedding day didn't go exactly as planned. The story is too long and I will save it for blogging on my anniversary, but here is just a taste. The car broke down, I passed out, the caterer didn't show, we went on a double date that night with two men to see a play about homosexuality, got lost on the way to the hotel, when, of course, the car broke down again, a stranger gave us a ride to our hotel only to find out they had given our room away. Some people might have taken this as some kind of omen, but really, we are tremendously happily married.

6. I once ate green tomato pie. It tasted like apple, except the texture was different. I am not a very adventurous eater, so I had to keep mentally picturing an apple and saying to myself, yummy, yummy apple. But then my mental apple morphed into a tomato and I started to gag.

7. I like to cook and try new recipes (not exotic ones! See 6.). Hence, the name Cookingsherri. But when the fire alarm in our house goes off, my kids ask me what I am making for dinner. That thing is oversensitive, I'm telling you. My sister who is an awesome cook, is kitchenditcher. Funny, huh?