Friday, May 24, 2013

Holy Cow!

I live in a rural area in the Midwest and have a cattle farm on two sides of my home.  I live with a man who loves meat.  Yet, recently, I decided to dabble in a vegetarian lifestyle.  Let me explain.  I love documentaries.  Last week before we left for Illinois, I watched, "Vegeducated."  This is a film about 6 adults who adopted a vegetarian lifestyle for a few weeks.  The film showed how animal confinement operations work and how animals raised for meat are treated by these big operations.  In spite of the fact that I have been raised around farms, the footage made me sick.  This was not the peaceful rural hillsides of rural America where cattle graze and chickens wander.
This movie got me thinking about trying a vegetarian diet.  In the past year Randy and I have drastically changed our eating habits.  This is mostly out of necessity, since he has been having lots of stomach problems as a result of his recovery from salmonella.  We have discovered lots of new vegetables and have tried new ways of preparing old standards.  Growing up we always had vegetables, primarily canned green beans, tomatoes and corn.  Pretty standard for middle income, Midwest people.  For 33 years I have prepared meals based around this plate:  meat, carb, vegetable.  However, recently, it has been less meat, rarely a carb and at least two vegetables.  A funny thing has happened to us lately, we now plan our meals around the vegetables we have.  Our refrigerator is stocked with kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and squash.  When we eat out, we scan the menu for vegetables.  For lunch today we ate at Wendy's and both had a baked potato with broccoli instead of fries.  It was delicious!  This may not seem odd to you, but it is quite a bit different diet than we used to eat.
So, back to my attempt at vegetarianism.  We left for Illinois on a Saturday morning and stopped at Hannibal, Mo for lunch.  The restaurant was called Fiddlestick and offered a wide menu, similar to an Applebee's.  They had a large selection of salads and sandwiches, non of which were free of meat.  I settled on a pasta meal with steamed vegetables.  It was incredibly good.  Steaming hot and perfectly cooked broccoli, carrots and cauliflower on top.  This is going to be easy, I thought.
We arrived in Springfield and after some shopping and relaxing, we decided to eat at Cheddars.  I knew that I would order their vegetable platter, which I enjoy even when I am not reducing my meat consumption.  The next morning for breakfast we had a bagel at a local bakery.  I was feeling really great and had not missed meat at all.  The morning was spent at the Lincoln Museum, which (handy for me) had a Subway within it's walls.  I convinced Randy to eat there, even though he does not like Subway, so I could have a veggie sandwich.  The rest of the afternoon was spent touring the Lincoln home and other area attractions.  That evening we headed to a Cracker Barrel.  I had enjoyed the vegetable platter there before and decided that would be my choice.   I asked for the pinto beans, broccoli and salad, without bacon bits.  When my food arrived, the beans had some kind of sausage in them (which I am pretty sure was not mentioned on the menu) and the salad was covered with tiny bacon bits.  In stead of sending these back I just picked the meat out and ate the food.  The waitress apologized and ended up comping my dessert (blackberry cobbler, my favorite!).
On the way back home, I began to wonder what restaurants I could visit in our local community and stay meat free.  Our chain restaurants are a Hardees (no meat substitutes there), Pizza Hut, McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell and Subway.  A few local favorites have salads, but no vegetarian main meals.  We eat out one to two times a week, so keeping meatless seemed like it would require a major lifestyle change.
I began to read some about being a vegetarian, and happened to see a facebook post about flexitarianism.  This is a made up word (I think) and means to enjoy meat and other animal products in moderation and increase the consumption of plant based foods.  This idea seems so sensible to me, I decided to adopt it as my new eating guide.  I will continue to enjoy meat, on a smaller scale and keep my lifestyle intact.  Randy is fairly relieved that I decided to keep some meat in my life, as he enjoys meat, even though his body won't let him eat as much as he would like.
I have always considered myself fairly moderate, so this is not much of a stretch for me.  My little meatless weekend was enjoyable and proved to me that I can modify my diet with little or no suffering. 
Please share any vegetarian or vegetable based recipe you enjoy.  I am branching out!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Well Hello Mr. Lincoln!

 While in Springfield, IL, we visited an amazing outdoor and sporting goods store called Scheels.  This store had an indoor ferris wheel, displays of the presidents, a beautiful salt water aquarium and lots more.  The prices reflected the amount of money they put into the place, but we grabbed a couple of t-shirts from clearance and really enjoyed our visit!
 This is a photo of Lincoln's home (the only one he ever owned).  We took a nice tour of the home and enjoyed walking around the neighborhood some.
 Before we came home, we decided to seek out Lincoln's Tomb.  It was worth the time to see this.  It was in a beautiful cemetery and was very majestic looking.
The Lincoln Museum was one of the best museums I have been to.  It had a nice variety of displays, a play area for children, and was generally well done.  My favorite display was a modern looking TV studio featuring Tim Russert "covering" the election of 1860.  I am a fan of Tim Russert and it was a nice way to "modernize" the election and make it relevant. 

We just got back from a nice weekend trip to Springfield, Il.  The trip was a gift from our children for a combined Mother's Day and Father's Day gift.  We stayed at a nice hotel just two blocks from the Museum Complex.  We reserved a hotel so close to minimize Randy's need to walk long distances.  (He has been having an awful time with arthritis and his deteriorating ankle).  But as it turns out, we drove everywhere we went because the town is so easy to get around in, and his ankle was just killing him!  It has been quite a while since we have left home and it was nice to have a change of scenery.  I highly recommend this trip to anyone who likes history or wants to learn more about Abe Lincoln. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Last week Maddison's class had a cute little end of the year, graduation program (the 2nd grade glass will change schools next year and go to a middle school).  The program was "I Need A Vacation".  Maddison had several solo parts and (excuse the Grandma bragging), she did a wonderful job.  She projected her voice, and remembered her lines.  In the lower photo, Maddie and classmate, Sam prepare for one of their solo parts.  As a fun sidenote, Sam is the son of Vickie, who went through 12 years of school with Maddie's Aunt Jessica.  They participated in many, many class programs and plays together.  Maddison and her Aunt Bea are so much alike in their mannerisms, likes and personalities.  During the program, Randy whispered to me: "Who is that little boy behind Jessica?"  Since Jessica was sitting beside us, I turned to look behind her and there was no little boy.  It was then that I realized that he was talking about the little boy on stage behind Maddie.  I had to smile because my mind really wanted to think that we were 25 years in the past watching Jessica perform.  My how time can play tricks on you!
In other highlights of the week:  I had to make an unplanned trip to the eye doctor to discover that I had a challasion(spelling?), which is kind of like a sty that has hardened.  After dealing with it for over two weeks, it is finally getting better.  One of the programs I supervise at work was monitored this week and we lost a long time employee.  One resignation has set off a chain of movement in the programs I supervise.  I don't think there will be any rest for me at work for awhile!
We are contemplating a quick trip soon to Springfield, Illinois to check out the Lincoln Museum.  Our children decided to combine a Mother's Day and Father's Day gift and send us away for a little trip.  It should be fun!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reflections on Mother's Day.

This is a picture of my children.  They are as different as night and day, black and white, left and right.  I love them with all my heart.  I love them in spite of their flaws and I hope they love me in spite of mine.  They gave me the best job in the world, the job with the most heartaches and headaches, the job with the highest of highs and the best of rewards.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, a day which has always been a little bittersweet for me.  I lost my mother when she was 52 years old, and I was 28.  She died of breast cancer and has been gone for 27 years now.  I still miss her.  I still daydream about how my life would have been different if she would have lived longer.  This will be the third year I have participated in the Mother's Day 5K to raise money for breast cancer prevention.  My daughter-in-law and granddaughter also participate in this event.  I walk in memory of Mom.  I walk in hopes that someday soon there will be a cure for breast cancer (and all cancers).  I wish my children could remember her and could have known her love as I did.

I also think about my mother-in-law on this day.  She passed away 34 years ago this June.  She was like a mother to me.  She was loving, accepting and generous with her time.  She was 45 and died from Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, unknown cause.  She was not a smoker and had been in good health.  I miss her and also daydream about what a difference she would have made in my adult life.  Many people say that Jessica resembles her in appearance and personality.  I consider that a great blessing.  She was the oldest of 10 children, including 7 brothers.  I wish my children could have know her, it would have certainly enriched their lives.

I now have a step-mother, Martha.  Martha is one of the sweetest, kindest women you will ever know.  She can always find a positive in any situation and she never lets anything mean or disrespectful pass her lips.  She looks about 25 years younger than she is and acts as youthful.  I love her very much and count myself lucky that she is in my life.

I have recently spent a great deal of time pondering the role of parenting adult children.  I am not sure I have been as successful parenting my children as adults.  I have trouble knowing when to stay silent and when to give advice (which is rarely solicited by my children).  Backing off and letting go is not easy and are roles I have not accepted naturally.  Truthfully, I have not had the chance to follow in my mother or mother-in-laws footsteps, since they both died so young.  Maybe I needed to see how they would have handled us as adults (although my mom died when I was 28, she had been ill for quite some time before her death).  I think part of my psych wants to hold on to my kids because I know how precious life is and how it can change in the blink of an eye.  I want to hold them close and tell them that our time together is limited and will not last (something younger people don't usually comprehend).  Of course, who wants to hear that?  So I plod along, doing the best I can to be what they need me to be.  Friend?  Adviser? Counselor? Casual observer?  I am not really sure what the mix should be.  One thing is certain, my children are not afraid to speak up and let me know when I step on toes or go too far into their lives.  I raised two bright, self-confident and well-spoken human beings.  I am proud of the adults they have become.  I hope they are equally as proud of me. 

I have been so blessed in my life to have had so many strong and beautiful women influence me.  I hope someday I will be remembered as a strong woman who did what she could to help the people she loved. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the women out there who had mothers, who are mothers or who will someday be mothers.  May you be as blessed in your life as I have been in mine.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Author's Day

I was invited last week to "Author's Day" at Maddie's school.  I joined her and her class for lunch and afterwards we went to her classroom to look at a variety of items that she had written over the course of the school year.  I always look forward to visiting the kid's school and this was no exception.  Maddie's friend, Natayla, ate lunch with us and boy does she like to talk!  It was fun seeing the interaction between the kids and their guests.
Maddie had written a sweet story about her brother.  In the story she told that Mason is good at sharing and he says nice things to her.  It warmed my heart to see how she feels about her little brother!
In other news, this was a busy weekend.  We joined Jessica and Scott for a "trivia night" on Friday and then on Saturday we went to a local concert featuring a "Johnny Cash" legend. It was fun.  We have gotten into a rut of staying home a lot, I guess because we have had such a harsh winter and spring.  It is time to break out and live a little!  On Sunday we went to Columbia to a Farmer's and Artisan's Market.  It was a fun morning, followed by a little lunch and shopping.  It is hard to go back to work after such an eventful weekend.  This is a short week for me, as we are off on Wednesday for a state holiday (Truman's Birthday).  Have a good week everyone!