Gag me with a microchip!











{November 2, 2009}   Food Cart Heaven

Portland is a great city to study people.  I love people watching it’s one of my favorite things to do especially while enjoying delicious eats.  This city has a great variety of options  available too. One of the different things about Portland is the quality of their food carts.   There are plenty of healthy vegan/vegetarian options as well as BBQ, Breakfast foods, Baked potatoes, crepes, etc.  Not only are they delicious but some stay open til 4am (great for after going out) and they are so budget-friendly too.  And on this  great website called  http://www.foodcartsportland.com I learned about the idea of “mash ups”.   That is where you take food from one cart (or from home if you wish) and then bring it to SideCart on SW5th between Stark and Oak and have them deep fry anything you want for $3!  I know that is pretty awful for your arteries but we all love to splurge sometimes.  🙂 If you live in Portland and you love yummy food and lots of people watching you should check out this site and see what’s out there!

foodcart2eljustinofoodcart1

 

 



{October 17, 2009}   Gotta get your next crafting fix?

I don’t know if it’s because I’m in my 30’s now or because of the internet I have a chance to learn how to make things…but I’m hooked on art. Whether it be beading, to sewing, jewelry, painting, doesn’t matter. My newest philosophy is that if I want jewelry I should learn how to make it myself, if I want some cool artwork for my house it should be made by me or someone close to me, pretty much if I can learn to make the things I want it will not only be fun but I’ll learn something new AND get what I want!
Except for the “Dye your own hair!” video where my hair turned orange, I usually use Youtube to find instructional video’s helping me to learn new things. It’s cool because not only is it free but its there whenever I want. But you never know what your going to get so I usually end up watching a few videos before picking the best one. Then last night I stumbled upon Instructables.com and it’s awesome. I feel like I’m writing a commercial 🙂 Anyways, what I’m saying is I’m feeling creative and this is just what I needed. The kids have been really wanting to do more crafts anyways so this is a good find so I’m just passing it along because it seems like a few of my other friends are also just getting into sewing, and crafty stuff too. I wonder if being in such a big recession brings on inventiveness and creativeness because people have more time to be creative and a financial need to be more thrifty. Hmmm just a thought.



{September 11, 2009}   First day of school

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Wow what a week! Tuesday my oldest daughter started high school, my son started middle school, and my third daughter started second grade.  Today my youngest daughter started kindergarten.  I remember when I first realized I was a single mom again 5 years ago. I was holding my baby C she was just a couple months old.  I knew my marriage was over and I had a big job ahead of me.

Four children all under the age 8. It was pretty overwhelming at times and it hasn’t been easy but I had a goal. My dad used to encourage me a lot and say things like “Inch by Inch it’s a cinch. Mile by Mile its a trial”.  He really taught me to have short term and long term goals.  One of my long term goals was to be “happy and together” when my youngest made it to kindergarten.  I knew that going through a nasty divorce at 28, being stalked and financially abused by my ex, not receiving any child support, having my mom fight off breast cancer, and dealing with major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and ADD, would mean a few years of  challenging emotions and physical/health problems.  So on my walk back from dropping off my two little girls to school this morning it felt so good to realize I have achieved a life goal. I do feel happy and I’m much more together now.  I love my family life I have a great partner who loves my children and me very much. I love my job and look forward to going to work because I like helping others and forming relationships.  Working with the elderly has been a very positive experience for me.  And I have goals still and am finally seeing the results of hard work.  I also learned how to play again and enjoy nature with my children.   I lead a healthy lifestyle for the most part now eating healthy food and drinking lots of water.  I used to “go through the motions” of life doing what I had to do.  Now I practice mindfulness and looking for ways to  enjoy even the mundane tasks.  You know “smelling the roses..”  Now I’m not saying I have a perfect life but this is what I want.

I am so grateful to all of those who have encouraged and motivated me through the tough times.  My parents, Aunt Margery, Khrissie, and countless friends.  Thank you so much! Also a very big hug and thank you to my oldest children T and S.  They have been the biggest  help to me!   Ok I have to end this now I have mommy chores to do…



{August 25, 2009}   Age can’t stop me!

At work tonight I had an interesting conversation with a patient.  I was commenting on how flexible she is despite her disabilities.  She told me it is due to the fact that she studied ballet until she 28.  I told her how I always wanted to learn ballet but my parents didn’t have enough money to send me to ballet school.  Then I realized something.  Learning new things doesn’t have to end when you become an adult.  What is stopping me from going to a ballet class?  Embarrassment? Oh well I’m over that already! I think I’m gonna go ahead and give it a try. My life isn’t over at 33!



I would call myself a survior.  I have survived three abusive relationships, sexual assault,  losing my two best friends in a car accident, witnessing my friends boyfriend murdered in front of me, a horrible car accident which left my boyfriend at the time in a coma and a  year of rehabilitation only to have his personality change forever from a brain injury and have him turn abusive, and other things I have just blocked out.  I thought since I am in my 30’s now and have an four wonderful children, an amazing partner and a good job that I was set. Yes of course I have dreams and ambitions but I didn’t forsee this coming.

Last month I had an emergency gallbladder removal and kidney stones.  It was horrible probably the worst pain I have ever gone through and that includes four childbirths!  It’s been a tough recovery the only thing is I’m not getting any better.  At my doctors appointment last week I told the doctor how bad the pain is in my lower abdomen and when she felt near my ovary she found four unexplained nodules.  I went in for a CT scan the next day and found out that my cervix is doubled in size with signs of erosion, and has multiple blood vessels of unclear significance. Also I have a cyst on my ovary. The other nodules were not seen on the CT.  My doctor said she couldn’t explain that.  Also there if a moderate amount of free fluid in my pelvis. These findings along with the fact that I am extremely exhausted all the time, full after a couple bites, and having varying types of bowel problems is all scary.  They are all signs of Ovarian Cancer.

I had a CA-125 test done (a blood test for ovarian cancer), and a pap to look for abnormal or cancerous cells on my cervix. The ultrasound I had yesterday at least put ease to my mind that if it is cancer it hasn’t spread.  But hanging on a thread like this is too much for me to handle.  Since I have had a lot of trauma in my life I am pretty sensitive. The thought of leaving all four of my children terrifys me.  I am so depressed just thinking about how I haven’t planned for them.  And the depression makes it worse because I get so irritable and lash out at them because I feel like I am a failure as a mother.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is something I have dealt with for quite some time now. But I have been able to raise my children as a single mom and go to school despite it.  I thought that since I don’t have to worry about domestic violence anymore and I am very careful how I live my life drama would leave me alone.  I know how to handle and avoid external negativity much better now.  But I don’t know how to handle this.  I feel like my own body is attacking me now.  And now my emotions are just pouring out. I’ve been like a dormant volcano and now my fears are spilling out.  

I was hesitant to even write this post because I am so used to just stuffing my feelings in and moving on with life.  Disassociation and distraction are tools I have mastered and have served me well. But I can’t hide from this. As a mother I am so scared.



{May 23, 2009}   Fruit Kabobs

I’ve been trying to incorporate colorful, nutritious and fun foods into our daily lives.  The kids love fruit so kabobs are a big hit whenever they’re served. They’re ideal for picnics and parties or any time you want to dazzle family and friends. Here’s how to make them:
1. Pick a colorful variety of fruit.  Use fruit that’s fresh but firm, never over-ripe. Be creative, try what’s in season, experiment and find your own favorite combinations. Fruit ideas: apples, pears, pineapple, banana, mango, papaya, starfruit, and strawberries.
2. Wash, peel, and cut the fruit into similar size chunks and drizzle with lemon juice, or marinate fruit in a sauce (puree of same fruits youv’e grilled augmented with lemon juice), or go to the other extreme by using a spicy hoisin sauce, our favorite tho is to sprinkle fruit with brown sugar or cinnamon and drizzle with chocalate sauce.
3. Place 6-7 pieces on each skewer, alternating colors, shapes, and textures. Use smaller fruit like grapes or cherries on the ends of the kabobs and leave space at each end of the skewer for easy handling.
5.If you’re serving your kabobs fresh, stack them on top of each other on an oval platter or fan them out in a pretty circle on a round plate. (Keep them in a re-sealable plastic bag or plastic container until you are ready to serve them.)

   
 

* Sometimes its fun to grill them! Yummy.fruit kabob



{May 20, 2009}   Kissing money goodbye!
My 7 year old daughter L Kissing money goodbye! has been plagued with abdominal migraines for the last year and a half. Her symptoms are so debilatating. She has not only the classic migraine headache but also a severe nausea, cramping in her legs so bad she can’t walk at times, extreme sensitivity to light so she has to stay in the dark, and extreme sensitivity to noise (having 3 other sibilings doesn’t help that). It was such a difficult thing to even diagnose it took a year for her to get in to see a neurologist. That was in the end of December 08. Her neurologist put her on the medicine Topomax and it was amazing the difference it made. She was able to return to school and enjoy her childhood again instead of being miserable. Problem solved…or so I thought.

Last month a generic form of Topomax was released. So when she got her refill they filled it with that (insurance rules). I have no problem with generics if they do the same job, but this one didn’t. Her migraines are back. Everyday again! She mine as well not even take it. I took her back to the doctor and he said that he will mark “brand name necessary” on the prescription but my insurance won’t pay for it. That means I have to pay almost $300 a month now for her medicine. ON TOP OF paying for medical insurance! She is worth every penny don’t get me wrong. It is just a shame that even though it is medically necessary insurance companies don’t make exceptions. This is another reason why there should be major healthcare reform!



{May 19, 2009}   Summer Camp Struggle

summercampHow in the heck do they expect people to pay for summer camps? They are so expensive. If I only had one child it might be more reasonable but I have 4! To send my three oldest kids to a structured, academically oreintated camp this summer will cost $1500! I’m still not sure how I am going to be able to swing it but its an important experience that I think all american kids should go through. I missed out on summer camps and always secretly wished I could go. I don’t want my kids to be shorted on an experience due to the expense.
Now don’t get me wrong I don’t want to’ get rid’ of them for a week. I’ll miss them! But I want my kids to be as able to recieve structured, academically oriented activities during the summer as any other child. A number of recent studies document slight gains in middle-class children’s test scores during the summer months, while low-income children’s scores show declines of over two months of grade-level equivalency. As a result, low-income children’s reading skill levels fall approximately 3 months behind those of their middle-class peers over the summer a difference equal to about a third of the typical learning that takes place during a regular school year.
See “The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores,” by Harris Cooper, Professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri.
Wealthy kids spend their summers enrolled in science,nature and art camps, punctuated with family vacations and the occasional trip abroad. Poor kids, by contrast, spend a disproportionate amount of time at home alone or in programs with minimal mental or physical enrichment. The difference in summer services offered to middle and low income communities is pretty striking!
So I’ll work extra hours, have yard sales, and figure out how to get them the best experience while keeping their academic skills up as well. I don’t really consider myself to be low-income but I am a single mom supporting four children and just above the income level to recieve any kind of financial assistance from any state agency. This leaves me at a disadvantage. To pay this I really have to struggle and it stresses out the house. I know I’m not the only one feeling this sting. My friend Jessica is a single mom of a 8 year old. She makes just above the line for help financially too. She has to leave her daughter home alone a lot because of expenses of childcare. And when summer comes she ends up quiting her job every year so she can stay home with her daughter. This is no way to live.



et cetera