Redefined, And I’m Good with It

By: Sherree Thompson

Mother's Day

As Mother’s Day was approaching, I was asked several people what I wanted for my special day. I thought quite hard on the matter. What did I want? Hmm.  Well, a number of normal things ran through my head…maybe a piece of jewelry, or a massage, or just a simple morning of sleeping in. All of that sounded just grand to me, yet that’s not really what I wanted. Actually, I didn’t want anything – nothing material, anyway.

What would really make me happy is to see the sweetness in my daughter’s heart. To share her voluntarily share her treat with her brother. To see my son studying how crickets hop and how his mind processes that action. To see my husband with our babies, helping to heal an imaginary “boo-boo.” These are the things that fill my heart with such joy. These are the things that make all the sleep deprivation, deliriousness and the redefining of me worth it.

I think for me the hardest one of those hurdles was the “redefining of me.” I was driving Jesse to school the other morning when I looked into the car next to me. The lady was so well put together, hair done, clothes on straight and her car so soooo clean. That’s when I thought, “That used to be me.” For a minute I started down the road of “Wow, I’ve really let myself go,” but then I caught a glimpse of my sweet babies in the rearview mirror. That sweet glimpse made me realize that it’s not about what I used to be, who I was or what job I held. I was no longer defined by those bullet points. I have been chosen to be the mother of these very special beings in the backseat. There are no earning manuals or guidelines written in black ink for this job.

Without those guidelines, I have compared myself to others. I have looked at other mothers and their journeys for guidance. I have fallen short of what I thought was normal so many times. I thought the house had to be picture perfect, kids dressed to impress all day every day, as well as a number of other things. Here is the kicker: When I do that, I have found I’m trying to keep up. Keep up instead of living the way God wants me to.

Yes, my car is a mess with drip marks from random juice boxes. Yes, I am late to almost every appointment. Yes, I do envy those who get to shower daily. It’s easy to get sucked into the cycle of wanting to be who I was and have the things I had. But it is also very, very easy for me to look at what I have been given in place of those things.  I would never change the magical gift that has been given to me by God.

Being defined as my children’s mother is one of the best compliments anyone can give me. I hope you spent this Mother’s Day thinking remembering the person you used to be and loving the person you have become, a mother.

Convictions

By: Sherree Thompson

This has been a busy spring break. So much so that I cannot recall most of it. What I do recall is finally getting soil and developing some new convictions.

FlowersThe cost of 3 cubic yards of soil was much more than I had anticipated for our garden, so I had to accept that we wouldn’t be able to fill our raised beds. After I had phoned a few distributers, I literally said to my hubs “Not no, but h-e-double-hockey-sticks no.” There was no way I could justify the cost (right now). I planted half of one of the bigger boxes thinking we would make do.

Saturday morning came and the Hubs dropped the kids off with his parents. On the way back he stopped by a landscaping lot that we drive by every time we head to Manning, just to see what they had to offer. They were such amazing people that they met us after hours so we could get some reasonably priced top soil. The cost was about $30 for our truck full. Blue Moon Landscaping has by far been the best customer service oriented facility I have seen in a long time. And, they have great products.

So the soil is in. The boxes are not completely full, but we figured hey, it’s a start and we are trying to be budget-friendly here. We filled holes, seeded, put in a bed, and literally worked all day. We got as much done as we could and went to get the kids back.

We met his parents at his sister’s house in Pinewood, had a fun egg hunt, and she invited me to one of her church’s events. It sounded like fun, so I was in. Little did I know what would take place at that event.

That Thursday I made my way back to Pinewood. Before I get started with this part, I want to say that I believe in God. However, I have never felt the need to know the Bible inside and out, or discuss really anything about it with others. I looked at it as a personal “thing.” With that said, let’s move forward.

I got there, met up with my sister in-law and we head to the church. It was quite lovely. The tables were all set with fine china and decorated in a manner that suited each person’s personality that sponsored the individual table. The men were the servers and sported black tie. The food was catered and door prizes were handed out. The guest speaker was Dawndy Mercer Plank and what a speaker she is. As she spoke, I started to get that tight knot in my throat. You know the one that is paired with pursed lips? As I listened to her, it became very clear to me that it was no accident that I was present. Her words about being “F-I-N-E” described exactly how I’ve become: Frustrated-Insecure-Neurotic-Exhausted. I was so worried about fitting in, being accepted by the “right crowd” (whoever they are), focusing on injustices, and looking forward to what I want to do with my life, that I was missing it. I was missing the life that was going on right in front of me and I got so exhausted trying to keep up.

She gave several situations that were her own tests. But the one that struck me was, when she was given a specific verse to guide her. And that’s when I knew how important it really is to know God’s words.

When the supper was over, I made the hour-long drive home and had plenty of time to think. To think about all the directions I’ve been pulled, about how easily my eyes have been pulled away from what IS important. How I have already wished away so many sweet moments. I was so moved that I pulled over in the Food Lion parking lot to write down a few things I was thinking. This is a bit of what I wrote that night in the parking lot.

“Well, I’m pretty blown away with God’s love. You see, I have been having a difficult time with a number of things lately. Being pulled so many directions, I have become all that she spoke of. God is calling me back and tonight he was pretty direct. Giving me answers to the many, many questions I have been asking. He spoke to me as if I was the only one in the room and I wanted to bawl like a child who has been busted telling a lie. Conviction is a beautiful thing, and it’s why I sit in this lot writing my story.”

Receiving this message has given me the perspective that I really needed. I’m kinder to my children, more empathetic in rough situations and quite frankly, I am relieved to be able to stop trying to impress people.  I can breathe deep and know I am loved.

Still Plotting

By: Sherree Thompson

Here it is April and I’m still plotting my “spring” garden. Now that the weather is co-operating, my mind is wheeling with ideas and plans.

 I am hoping to apply what I learned from last year’s summer garden, but apparently this past summer was out-of-the-normal for gardens. This is just the thing that would come my way. I always seem to try a first when everything is out-of-whack. Technically I think it might be a good thing. I mean, the more hurdles that are tossed my way just forces me to learn even more.

Last year, I learned not to place some plants near others or they will cross pollinate. For example: don’t plant cucumbers by zucchini.You will get these funny, gourd-looking cucumbers.

Cross Pollinated Cucumber

Cross Pollinated Cucumber

Another tips is to make sure to net your berries or they will be swallowed by the birds.

I also opted not to make raised beds, and have decided I will skip that again this year.

Beautiful Raised beds a River Banks Zoo

Beautiful Raised beds a River Banks Zoo

Since we have fresh ground to work with, we have a few big projects ahead of us. One being the beds. I must work on that shortly or I might miss my window for planting. I’m such a procrastinator about the things that I think won’t take that long.

I feel like I already have a jump on the planning though. I have my seed source ordered, my garden mapped (mostly) and a watering system plotted.

I actually think I might pull out a calender and write out my plan. Go me! That is definitely a first. Here’s to getting organized.

Carb-Free

By: Sherree Thompson

After my husband’s short visit to the emergency room with Cardiac-like symptoms, we opted to try an all carb-free diet. He had been reading a tri-athletes training guide and it just so happened that his symptoms matched what the book was saying in regards to having a Carb Intolerance. (The doctors ruled out anything heart related).

I had never heard of such intolerance and I didn’t realize which foods are considered carbs.  I’ve never really counted calories or been committed to specifically weighing meals and such. After all, I’m an “eat fresh and balanced” kind of girl.  Well, did I learn a thing or two. I had no idea how difficult it would be to totally eliminate a food group from our regular diet. Kudos to those who have to do so on a normal basis.

Anyways, we eliminated carbs for two weeks. We only did it to see how he would respond and to see if it was something we needed to adjust. Thank God it was not a permanent change, because I had already been cheating by day four. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was snappy, tired and downright hungry! And who really wants to live without sweet potatoes and corn? Not this momma.

At the end of the trail, my husband agreed that he felt tired a bit, but felt better overall. I really thought he would want to make this a normal thing, but he didn’t. Instead, he said that he thinks, for him, cutting back would be beneficial but that entirely cutting them out was not the answer. (Apparently he eats way more carbs than I do).

I am very thankful the carb-free-life is not for us and that I get to indulge in my beloved pasta! Okay, indulge isn’t the right word, but enjoy is.

Last night I made a simple Linguini and Spinach in a garlic cream sauce. All I used was fresh spinach, garlic, salt & pepper, about 2 table spoons of cream cheese and about a half teaspoon of real butter.

Steak with pasta

Several people have asked me for recipes for the dishes I cook up. The problem is, I don’t usually have one. I tend to use a pinch of that and a dash of this, so it is always a tough chore for me to get a precise recipe. I will, however, give you all the ingredients and hope that you find the blend that works for your pallet. After all, cooking is an art and only you can tell when it’s just right.

Here are a few of my recent combinations:

Poached Eggs sprinkled with Smoked Paprika and a dash of salt:

Eggs

Chicken Salad Sammy: Roasted chicken breast, mayo, grapes, red onion, salt and pepper, and a dash of stone ground mustard. This is actually a really fun dish to make as you can play around with almost any ingredient combination.

Chicken salad sammy

Beer Bathing Chicken: Chicken, sweet onion, poultry seasoning, ground cardamom, salt & pepper and a bottle of beer

Chicken in the pan

Fish Sticks

By: Sherree Thompson

Y’all – my first batch of tomatoes didn’t make. The kids and I planted them the first day in February. I really think the plants would have been fine if we didn’t have the crazy “Polar Vortex” thing-a-ma-jigger. I mean, let’s face it, not many people would survive two weeks indoors with two curious little’s and three dogs. Add a husband and Momma to that mixture and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Thank God I bought way too many seeds. As it turns out, I needed them. I heard that we had another “Deep Freeze” coming and hoped I wouldn’t run into the same results.

Now my sweet peas are another story. Those things took off and I seriously need to transplant them. I started them in an empty egg carton and they were rapidly out growing it. I’m a firm believer in using what you’ve got, but I never expected them to grow that fast.

I managed to pull together a window box and a vine grower. It was fairly easy to make. The only issue now is I think I might have given them a bit of transplant shock. They look a little shabby, but I’m hoping they will pull through.

Making the vine box

The vine box

I’m so ready for some fresh veggies it’s not even funny. My poor creative side has been a bit hampered. Even so, I still managed to make a few good supers.

For instance, here is any easy Fish Stick Recipe.

Fish sticks

Fish Sticks

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs (I used Pepperidge Farm)
  • 2 cups yogurt (I only had vanilla)
  • 2 pounds tuna* (Give or take; just enough for 4 people)

* I used tuna. I suggest using a milder white fish like flounder or cod.
I think it works best with about an inch or so rise. Then you can adjust cooking accordingly.

Instructions:

  1. Mix the spices in the yogurt. Let it marry for about 10 minutes.
  2. Slice the fish against the grain, then roll each piece in the yogurt mixture and then the breadcrumbs.
  3. Place fish on lightly olive oiled-baking sheet and place in a preheated 400-degree oven until the bread crumbs brown.
  4. Flip the fish and cook for another 10 minutes or so.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Meet the New Every Woman Bloggers: Sherree Thompson

Sherree Thompson enjoys sharing tips about gardening and finding locally grown foods. We look forward to reading about her favorite local farmers and her tips for clean eating.