Make The Damn Call!

At the end of last school week, a news story came out concerning a family that had undergone some horrendous things… Unspeakable things that children should never ever have to face. An arrest was made- but as the story continues to develop it has come to light that so many people had suspicions as to what was going on in this house of horrors. Just reading the comments on facebook with people slamming the mother- telling her how they knew- they had suspicions… they tried to tell her. And my mind kept screaming- WHY DIDNT YOU CALL SOMEONE??? This little girl – and probably others since there were at least 6 children in the immediate home- was victimized over and over by this horrible predator… and NOW you want to say I tried to tell you… I knew… where were you? Why were you not stepping in? OH.., I get it- you were afraid of him to??? Well- how do you think that baby girl felt? Why didn’t you CALL someone? Get a burner phone- send an anonymous letter… get your grandpa from california to call… SOMETHING- ANYTHING- but dont, DONT, sit there after the fact and say I KNEW- I TRIED TO TELL YOU… well, guess what… you are getting dangerously close to being JUST as bad as the man who took that child’s innocence day in and day out for MONTHS while you just sat there- talking about what was going on to your friends on Facebook. Well- shame on you!

Of course, I say all of that- knowing that there were calls made… I know personally of 3… but there was not enough “meat” for anyone to go out. Why… because teachers are not looked at as what we are- professionals. We know our babies better than anyone. We can see them getting off the bus in the morning and know that something in the night rocked their world to their absolute core. We can watch them deteriorate and crumble in front of us and have no proof of ANYTHING… no words from them… but we KNOW. We know because we love them. Would that first call have saved her? No- maybe not… but did other calls not happen because people KNEW it would not have done any good? Would they have just been brushed off? Maybe… but maybe if more than one person had made the calls- more than one singular voice- then maybe it would have made a difference….

SO- now there are 6 children who have been taken from a horrible situation… 6 children who have lost their parents and everything they know. 6 children who had to stay an extra 3 days in the home because there were no other options… no foster homes in Bay County for them to go to. They had to be privy to the investigations and the arguments- the stress- the crying and fighting and aftermath of the arrest… and now- they have been doled out to various people here and there… all because there are no places here for 6 siblings to be together when their world falls apart. Heck, at this point, there is no place for 3 siblings… maybe not even for 2.

Hurricane Michael only exacerbated the lack of foster care in our area. People have lost homes- meaning lost foster homes. Children have lost their homes and stability-meaning an increased NEED for foster homes… the two simply do not mesh. I guess you could say those 6 siblings are somewhat lucky to still be able to be in Bay County- even if they are not together. Others have been transported out of county- as far away as Orlando- just because there are no foster care homes open here.

For years now, I have tried to open a foster facility for Special Needs children… for those hard to place children who have homes nowhere else… those sibling groups who need each other so badly as the world falls apart… how many of these stories- how many siblings pulled apart- do we have to see before someone steps forward and works with us to help us get an amazing facility open for these babies? How many more horror stories? How many more people who SHOULD HAVE made the call? How many children have to be torn from Bay County before a Hero steps up and helps? Maybe that is the call that needs to be made… before it is too late.

 

The Bro Mistake

I always like to say- NO, this is not about you- but if the boot fits-lace that thing up and wear it!

NOW that we have that out of the way… I have been thinking about what I like to call the Bro Mistake… It goes something like this… you have a friend- maybe he has been your friend since high school or longer. You knew him before he ever started dating his missus. That gives you some kind of in, right? The knowledge of who he was in the past, things he has done, places he has gone and people he has been with. You may know things about him that no other human knows. OR- he may be a more recent Bro- one that that you met by chance here or there and found that you have a lot in common with. Friends are important. This Bro Mistake, however, is not the norm. This is not having your buddy over for the game and losing track of time kind of mistake. i am talking about something much, much more serious here.

Since you know your Bro so well- you know that he has struggles, right? He has been struggling with sobriety- be it alcohol, drugs… some demon that keeps him from being the man that he needs to be. You may have even had discussions with his wife about it. You have definitely seen the signs. You probably even realize it is tearing his family apart. But, of course, you try not to think about that. You shut it out of your mind. And, when you are ready for a rowdy time- his name is the first one to pop into your head. Never do you think that he may have been sober for a week and standing on a precipice that will get him over one more night… never do you think he is waiting for a sign as to whether quitting is really what he needs to do… never do you think about his family- his wife is a shrew anyway-right? She’s probably the real reason he drinks… so, you send the text, make the call… HEY BRO- and you pull him into what is for you is an occasional night at the bar or hanging out in front of the TV… not caring that you will be able to get up in the morning, take some aspirin and go to work- but what you have done is set your BRO back days, weeks, maybe even months. No, his illness is not your fault- not at all. However, you have seen the signs. Have you thought of reaching out to him? Have you thought of making that BRO call go a little differently? Hey BRO- wanna go to church with me? HEY BRO- how about a cup of coffee??? Why do the BRO calls always involve idiot behaviors? And what happens when your BRO call is answered by the police because your BRO got a DUI on the way to your house? Or home from your night out? What if your BRO kills an innocent family on the road after your night at the bar? Will you answer when your BRO calls because he has nowhere to live because his wife and family have had enough? Is he a close enough BRO for you 7 days a week- living in your house? Or, is he only there for comic relief? Maybe I am naive- but if he is truly your BRO…that is short for brother, right? If he is truly your BRO- dont you care enough about him to HELP him? To ENCOURAGE him? To PRAY for him? And not just to be the call he DOESNT need to get? The BRO who leads more into BROKEN and away from BROTHER? Real men need true Brothers and less BROs who just, basically, don’t really give a damn about them past the fun night out. How about being a true Brother? Reach out to your friend- help him with his sobriety. Help him be the man that he CAN be- that he SHOULD be- that his family NEEDS him to be. If you can’t do that… then lose his number and find another BRO- they are everywhere… of that I am sure.

Colons really STINK

I have come to realize that my colon is a man… Not sure how that is possible, but it is. I mean, it is always full of crap, it is a pain in my butt… I could go on, but you get my drift.

Two years ago, I was an average Jane- fat and sassy- with a history of IBS-D.. You know -Irritable Bowel Syndrome with… Diarrhea…  growing up my granny always said I had a “nervous” stomach- and that was true, really. Whenever I got nervous, had an appointment coming up- got bad news… everyone knew they would find me shortly after- sitting on the throne. I had my first colonoscopy at 16- ulcers, gastritis… I was a MESS. But, I learned to live with it. When I got married the first time, I was already a big girl… a big girl who married a big guy. Eventually, after having two children and just living life- my husband’s weight had soared to over 450 lbs and I was close to 300 myself. I still loved him and thought he was handsome no matter what. However, he was sitting on the verge of a heart attack. We were young- still in our 20s- and he was taking a handful of pills everyday. He ended up having a gastric bypass- lost over 200 lbs, and left me. Fun stuff, right? So- I went into a major depression and my weight soared to almost 350. As a now single mother, I couldn’t afford a gastric bypass, but found a procedure called a LapBand. Still too expensive- but not quite as much. I started saving money. Then, I found out about bariatric surgeons in Mexico. For a mere $7500, I would get pre-op, two days in the hospital, and a surgery that would change my life. I know- you are shaking your head because, well, Mexico… but desperate times call for desperate measures- and I was surely desperate. So, I flew to Mexico and back- ready to change my LIFE. A year later, the lap band broke, wrapped around my intestines and had to be removed. Well Crap… So, I start petitioning BCBS for a Gastroc Bypass. This was the year when they were paying for them, but only until Dec 31.  A few months later, I got the approval by my insurance for a Gastric Bypass, and this time only had to travel as far as Ocean Springs, Mississippi-celebrating the new year in the hospital. Afterwards,  I lost a lot of weight and kept it off for a while. After about 10 years- a portion had come back- but not enough for me to worry. I was happy and healthy.  Fast-forward to 2015. I had reconnected on FB with a friend from High School and, before you know it, he had proposed. At this point, I was still dealing with 3 BMs a day- but that had been a part of my life for so very long, it was normal. As my wedding got closer, I was exercising every day,  and decided to take some HydroxyCut pills just to help me with those few extra pounds to get me in that wedding dress- a low cut number to show off my… assets, with a tight corseted waist that shows just how small my waist was the day I said I DO. During that time, I noticed my… movements… had slowed to only twice a day- but I figured I was eating less… so it was all good. I kept working out, taking the pills…  Then it happened… I stopped going AT ALL… What the heck. I had not went a day without a BM since I was a teenager… Now suddenly it stopped… I thought maybe my nerves had flipped the script on me and instead of causing diarrhea, it was causing constipation. I mean, i was planning a huge wedding and becoming a step mom for the first time… so many changes. For a few days, then a week, I thought it would be FINE. I tried not to even think about it.  The wedding went off without a hitch- I fit in that beautiful dress- and all was good- except I still wasn’t going. My BFF said- GIRL- you get yourself in to see the DR. This ain’t like you!”. I got in pretty quickly- like within 2 days- after I told them my situation. When I walked in the office I had not had a BM in 21 days. YES- 21 days. Like 3 whole weeks… My husband loved to joke saying I couldn’t get mad when he said I was full of crap, because I really was! So- they scheduled an emergency Colonoscopy for the following day. I did the prep= which did not do its job- but cleared enough that they could see what they needed to see. They found I had an Atonic Colon… I came to understand that basically meant it just wasn’t working right. They had NO idea why. All they knew was that it had slowed to almost a stop…. Then the meds started… this was the end of October 2015. I went through every medication out there, I had exhausted all of the Over the COunter stuff- and now went from script to script until I tried all of those as well.  Finally, as the summer approached- the DR decided to send me to a Motility Specialist hundreds of miles away in a different state… I stayed there for 5 days- having test after test. This was a teaching hospital- so I had students sitting in on every procedure. You cannot imagine the tests. I had so many different people wiping my backside that week- I can’t keep up. I had a colonoscopy, an endoscopy, biofeedback, stress tests… tubes in and tubes out… internal sonograms… 24 hours wearing wiring that had been implanted in my colon that tracked the muscle movements- which my husband had to adjust periodically and check each time I went to the bathroom… had to eat various foods with probes inside of me… so many tests. At the end of the week- the team came in and gave me the news. My colon had basically stopped working- my rectum as well… SOOOO- my poop-shoot just didnt work anymore. So- back home to find a surgeon. I had to lose my colon and would end up with a colostomy bag. Oddly- with the recommendations of TWO specialists… no one wanted to do that type of surgery on a woman just hitting 40. It took me so long to find a surgeon, my surgery was scheduled for the first day of school. Being a school teacher, this was beyond stressful for me- but I pushed forward. I assumed I would be waking up with my backside sewn shut and a stoma in my side- or at least all of my uncooperative colon gone and my small intestine attached to my backside. BUT- instead- I wake up with neither. I wake up with the surgeon telling me he found a section of my colon that had been compressed by my gastric bypass- so he removed up to that section- reattached the rest of the colon… and now we just had to hope for the best… It was a 50/50 chance that this would work. We just need to hope for the best. I didnt know whether to be thankful that I didnt have a bag- or angry that the Dr made a judgement call without consulting ANYONE. I decided to err on the positive side and believe that I would be fixed…. took me 7 days to go the first time- which was SOOO painful- but I went- so I got to go home. At my month checkup, I told the surgeon I was still not going like I should… still 5 or 8 days… still impacted… he told me to give it more time. He gave me fiber packets to drink and sent me home. When I saw him again, my stomach had swollen so large it looked as if I had a hernia. He said it was fine and that it would get better… Guess what, it didn’t. And, almost as soon as I got home, I started to gain weight. And I mean FAST. Within a few months, i had ballooned 50lbs. Here I was, practically a newlywed- sick for the first year of marriage- major surgery- and now I was plumping up like a Thanksgiving turkey. I saw a specialist on kidney issues as well as an endocrinologist. I then went back to my original gastro doc over and over… the dr talked to be about dieting… then he basically told me there was nothing else they could do for me… the only option was to have the second surgery- and that was up to the surgeon. After a few months, a new and scary symptom arose-  I was having trouble swallowing. Food was actually getting stuck and gagging me. So- emergency endoscopy which resulted in my throat being stretched.

So- here I am, coming up on the first year anniversary of my partial-colectomy… and here is where I stand… I have a colon that doesn’t work on its own. I envy friends who get stomach viruses= REALLY. The nerves that control your colon and rectum ALSO somehow control your kidneys and bladder- so I also have issues with not emptying my bladder, leakage… Great stuff. My throat has begun shrinking again, leaving me choking many times while I am eating… and after 6 weeks of restrictive diet and taking Phentermine… I only lost 1 pound… I am headed for a sonogram of my throat area Friday in the Endocrinologists office- blood work showed nothing, but they feel that I have either a thyroid issue or an auto immune disorder… every night I take a handful of pills for various ailments, and every morning a handful of vitamins and probiotics. The backup in my system causes me to have severe bacterial outbreaks in my system- causing swelling and painful gas. At times I look 9 months pregnant with triplets. My teeth are falling out- crumbling in little pieces- my eyes and skin are dry- my face looks blotchy- and my hair is falling out. Bacteria leads to thrush through-out my body, especially my mouth, and I have sores in my mouth and nose. I have one med that, if I take it every 3 or 4 days- it will allow me to go- but it is so unpredictable… Sometimes I can take it and nothing happens… the next time I take it, I have to be really close to a bathroom because in 30 minutes my bowels will dump their entire contents in one big WHOOSH. So- I cannot take this unpredictable medication when I have anything to do.I can’t take it in the evening for fear it will wait until I am sleeping… I am on the highest dose- and at times have taken 2 or 3- with still no result. It is overly frustrating. Feeling your body continue to grow bigger and bigger- with nothing stopping it. Lying down with this huge pregnant belly smothering me- or lying on my side with it poking straight out- not wanting my husband to hold me because I am so huge- my stomach is so huge. Some days it feels so bruised I feel like I AM pregnant with triplets- ones that are beating me from the inside. I know there are people out there who are battling cancer and MS, brain tumors and debilitating illnesses. I know that I have it so much better than others do. But I also know I am miserable and just want to go back to being me. If that means a colostomy bag- another surgery- a “barbie butt” that doesnt work anymore- so be it. I just want to get my life back.

Teaching my college class…

Everyone  is always curious about how teaching a college class goes… what I do-etc. I am so blessed that I teach at a college that is a Christian College and part of our classes are devoted to teaching students how to incorporate their love for Christ into not only their teaching, but their lives. Here is just an example of a student asking ME a question on our discussion thread this week- thought I would share…

 

Instructor Meadows,

I have some questions for you. I am just trying to learn a little bit more about ways of sharing the Gospel with young students so that they can understand it. What age did you share the Gospel with your own kids? Do you have any ideas about how to explain to students that do not understand this at all?

 

Valerie,
Great Question! My kids were almost “born” in church. I taught them about God almost from birth. God was a true presence in our house. I adopted my older, now 10 yr old son, taking him home at 2 days old. He was 7 days old his first day in church- we sat on the front row- and I never left him in the nursery because he was a good baby. As he grew and focused- he loved the music, etc. Finally, I had to put him in the nursery, however, because when he began verbalizing- he seemed to think the pastor was talking right to him and would try to “talk” back- yelling, laughing… it was sweet! He knew the word before he could even speak!

As my children get older- they ask questions about aspects of Christianity that confuse them. When they are younger, they take what we teach them at face value… when we speak of God as our Father- His love for us- stories in the bible…. they just accept it.  As they age and get more real world experience… they begin to question naturally… my sons big questions of the week… “how many people is God- He is God, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit… how can he be one person? How can He be everyone’s father?” My 13 yr old daughter’s question…  How old is God? Why did God give us free love? Does God love murderers? … So, I guess it is something that is a fluid explanation- a fluid teaching- always evolving- answering questions, expanding explanations…

Explaining Christianity to children who do not grasp it can be difficult, but I think using examples from real life can really help.. what I mean is when my daughter asked this week about free will and if God loves murderers… and HOW could He love murderers… I finally explained it to her in a bit of a crazy way… I asked if she remembered a cartoon we watched where the woman was trying to get a love potion to make the prince fall in love with her…  and how when the prince came to himself- the love was just a lie… I explained that free will is very similar… God could have created a world full of people who would just love him no matter what- never questioning- walking around loving him and nothing more… he could have MADE them love Him… BUT- instead, He gave us free will… and we are able to choose to believe or not- to love Him or not. He wants us to love Him and follow Him- believe Him… but He gives us the “option” through free will. If he forced us to love Him- it would be like the prince- but because we are FREE to do so- He knows our love for Him is real… We also talked about how He is our Father- and loves us unconditionally… no matter what we do- what we look like- what we wear… just like I love them- no boundaries. So- even when one of my children do things that make me sad- even break my heart- I NEVER stop loving them. God- our Father- loves us unconditionally. When we sin- be it lying, cheating… or even taking the life of another- YES- He is sad… but His love never ends for us with our actions. True Love is unconditional and it is forever!

So- I say all of that to say we have to bring things they cannot understand to a place they DO understand- just as we do in our classrooms. We try to utilize prior knowledge to lead them to new knowledge… bridge the gap. If a child does not understand God- then give them examples they do understand to bridge that gap… Does that make sense?

Does anyone have anything to add? Here is Valerie’s question- please answer if you can!

 

Thanks! I have some questions for you. I am just trying to learn a little bit more about ways of sharing the Gospel with young students so that they can understand it. What age did you share the Gospel with your own kids? Do you have any ideas about how to explain to students that do not understand this at all?

An amazing Poem about having a disabled child- and the lessons I have learned from it!

I want to start my post off with a poem that I have embraced for as long as I have been a special education teacher. It has a special place in my heart and reminds me of the struggles parents of these children face.

Welcome to Holland
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. 
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.” 
“Holland?!” you say. “What do you mean, Holland?” I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy. 
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. 
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. 
So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. 
It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts. 
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” 
The pain of that will never, ever, go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. 
But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland. 

Written by Emily Perl Kingsley 

Now- take a moment to really think about those words. Think about the parents who embrace their pregnancy- read all of the books- imagine the wonderful milestones that come with being a new parent. They imagine first words and first steps- seeing their child on their first day of school- taking the training wheels off and having to doctor that first boo-boo from a fall on the concrete. In their wildest imagination they do not consider therapy appointments, medical procedures… they do not look forward to fitting their child with AFOs or finding the best therapists… that is not what their preparation was all about. So- when their beautiful baby is born- and they are faced with the fact that the plane didn’t land in Italy… faced with the fact that their child is not that perfect little bundle of joy that their friend’s are enjoying… when they may even have to face their own child’s mortality… how do they handle it. First, they have to grieve. They grieve that perfect child that was in their minds. That child who will hit or exceed all of the milestones- be the next Picasso, or cure cancer. That imaginary child that they planned on for months, heck years- maybe even their entire lives. Face it- as kids when we play house no one has a handicapped child… we arent learning to tube feed- we are learning to give our babies mashed carrots while making the airplane noise… we are helping our babies take their first toddling steps- not teaching them to move their wheelchairs. that is just hard and fast reality. We dont imagine having to place our precious bundles into Special Education classes… in our minds they are scholars- doctors, lawyers… not a child that at 6 still cannot speak, or has to have their diaper changed at 12.

So- they grieve. They go through the stages of grief as if their child died- because, in essence- that child of their imagination did… what are the stages of grief? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance… and not always in that order- and not singularly, either.

When the doctor comes in with that diagnosis- that news you do not want to hear- you deny. THEY ARE WRONG.. my baby is perfect. Even faced with a low birthweight- a child in an incubator fighting for their lives… they are wrong. My child WILL grow out of this and be perfectly fine…

anger- WHY GOD? Why would you do this to us? Why do this to my innocent baby? To our family? Why would you dangle the thought of a perfect child in front of me and then snatch it all away? You get angry at your friends- those who DID have the perfect child. Why should they have what you have longed for? Later, you get angry with the education system and all of those tests that show your child is not going to make it in a regular classroom… you even get angry with your child at times for not being who you wanted them to be…

Bargaining- God, if you just cure my child- I will be the best Christian ever- I will stop swearing- I will tithe 20%…

depression- all you want to do is crawl into bed and cover your head… pull the covers up and just die… sadness overwhelms you.

Finally comes acceptance. This is a LONG time coming for some. I know parents who have Elementary Aged children who STILL havent really accepted the fact that their child will never be able to do the things their same aged peers are doing.

They keep going back to denial- back to bargaining… if I just study with him 2 hours a night- he will get it… back to anger- HOW DARE you label my child- HOW DARE you say he needs to be in special education…. believe it or not- some NEVER EVER make it to acceptance. NEVER.

I knew a mom who had a profoundly mentally handicapped child- no walking, no talking- he was basically a 3 month old in a 16 year old body. He could inconsistently hit a button to say hello= but only about 50% of the time. She wanted him to be a Walmart Greeter… I appreciated her high expectations for her child- but when we looked at the reality- the logistics- looked at how someone would have to be with him at all times- how we were not even sure that he understood the switch plate… was she in denial? Did she want to believe he knew more than he did? Was she wrong for her high expectations, or were we wrong for pointing them out to her?

I have been a teacher of special needs children for over 15 years. It is my passion- my calling- and I have gone on to adopt two special needs children of my own. For a while, I didnt get it. I didnt understand how these parents could not accept their children for who they were- for the blessings they brought to the family. ….Then it hit me when reading the Welcome TO Holland poem for the millionth time… I PLANNED MY TRIP TO HOLLAND. I had been to Italy- twice- and now I planned a trip to Holland- twice. I knew the language- knew the scenery- knew what I was expecting… I KNEW I was adopting special needs children and knew the possible outcomes. I wasnt surprised when the plane didnt land in Italy- I knew exactly where we were going.

This led me to another realization that i think a lot of people- the parents included- dont understand …and that is guilt…. yes- think about that one for a minute. Guilt. Imagine that you are that parent- expecting the birth of that child- and something happens. Doesn’t matter what it is- an infection- preterm labor- a rupture- diabetes… or even something no one can explain. As a human, we are already prone to guilt… so here we have this baby growing inside us- and when he is born there is something wrong… as humans- we are going to blame ourselves. What did I do WRONG? Did I overdo it? Should I have drank more water? Was I too old to have a baby? Should I have exercised more? Not taken aspirin…. WHATEVER it is, I guarantee you that the parents of special needs children have stopped to question what it was that they did wrong that resulted in this affliction on their child.

Even children who are born “normal” then suffer from injuries in the birth canal- or who have strokes- seizures… God forbid an illness that causes this… I am their parent- I should have been able to prevent this from happening. I should have been able to see that they were sick sooner- I should have known something was wrong- I should have woken up sooner- I should have… should have… what if… what if……….

So- when we deal with parents of special needs children- we often shake our heads at their living in denial- we shake our heads at their levels of expectations- their hard headidness… but we need to take a step back and walk in their shoes… how would you handle the path that God has laid out before them?

As I said- i planned my trip to Holland- but they were headed to Italy instead. So- we, as educators, friends, family members- people in the checkout lines- we need to help them to learn to embrace the gift that God has given them. We need to help them learn about Holland- learn the language- see the beauty. No, it is not Italy and never will be- but Holland is breathtaking in it’s own right- breathtakingly different. I would never trade my Holland adventures for a trip to Italy- as I would never trade my special needs children for even the most perfect child. The tantrums, the therapists, the hospital stays- the stress… they are my loves- regardless of their disabilities. I will never regret landing in the wrong place- never regret the struggles- because God knew I needed to land in Holland, and it has made me a better person as a result.

So, the next time you encounter that parent- the one with the tired, sad eyes- the one who still has no idea how to make it in Holland- remind them there are windmills- and their beauty will take your breath away.

The secrets to great fried eggs

When my husband and I first got together, I was a little… nervous about cooking for him. I mean, I had been cooking for a LONG time, and I am a good cook… but when you get into a relationship with a man who loves good food and sings the praises of his mother’s cooking. So, when he asked me to make fried eggs and told me EXACTLY how to cook them how his mom did… I was overcome with nerves. We still laugh at the fact that I went through a whole dozen eggs just to get two perfect eggs for his breakfast- the rest of us munching on the less-than-perfect ones. Over time, I have realized just how silly I was. Eggs are really not that hard once you know what you are doing.

Below, there is a video who shows the best way to cook eggs… the difference being when I make eggs, I use butter. I know- butter bad- olive oil good… but being a true southerner -we use butter in EVERYTHING! It just makes it better!
When I make eggs- I do basically what is done in the video, using a spatula to… flick the hot butter over the eggs. When the top becomes done, I flip it for a few seconds- being careful not to burst the yolk as my hubby likes a runny yolk. But, this technique in the video works as well.

Here, The Moment shares their special fried egg technique, which involves spooning olive oil over the egg to make the white crispy and deliciously browned. (Butter, butter butter… ok, yeah, we are fat- but butter is so darn good!)

ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

Cloud EGGS???

So- we have tried Cloud Bread. It is addictive with a very different flavor. So- when I saw this recipe, I thought we would have to try it!
Cloud eggs- perfect name for this fluffy delight. Believe it or not, they are EASY to make… now, is my 12yr old ready for this challenge???

If you are- here is the recipe:

What You Need:
– Large eggs
– Electric mixer
– Parchment paper
– Baking sheet

Parmesan cheese is optional, and gives your clouds a little more flavor.

Step 1: Separate the egg yolks and whites. Keep the yolks whole, but you can add all the whites to one large mixing bowl.

Step 2: Use an electric mixer to whip the egg whites until firm peaks start to form.

(add your cheese here as well as salt)

Step 3: Use a spoon to scoop the egg whites onto a lined baking sheet. (You should be able to form one cloud per egg used.) With the back of the spoon, carve out a small depression or nest in the middle of each cloud.

Step 4: Bake at 400°F for about 4 minutes. The edges of the clouds should just be starting to turn brown.

Step 5: Gently spoon one egg yolk into each of the cloud dents and return to the oven to bake for an additional 4 minutes. Serve warm.

 

The video is a little different than the recipe above. With any recipe, it is whatever works best for you! Just be sure that you ENJOY!

The secret Pancake Ingredient!

OK- pancakes are a STAPLE at our house! We have them probably once a week in the summer, and try to make them Sat or Sun during the school year. My kids would HONESTLY eat them every day! Every once in a while we do Waffles instead- but my husband HATES waffles- even the smell… HOW CRAZY IS THAT? So we do them when he is camping or sneak them in when he sleeps late- LOL.

We DO NOT always have plain old pancakes, either. We change them up. We do chocolate chips every once in a while- we have done cinnamon, chocolate, we add nuts or fruit- peaches- strawberries… Our latest concoction was Banana Bread pancakes- we use those good mushy bananas like banana bread- add nuts and vanilla flavoring… and YUM. We have even tried the bacon pancakes- where you fry your bacon and then pour your batter over the bacon. We even tried sausage mixed in- sounds crazy, but when done right and grease drained correctly, YUM!

This mixture is a little different. It gives you that bacon flavor- just a hint- and makes your pancakes yummy!

The Secret Ingredient That Will Make Pancakes Taste Incredible

If your pancakes need a little oomph, you’ve probably been overlooking a simple ingredient that will take your pancakes from good to incredible.

That secret ingredient is bacon grease.

Here’s how to do it: Heat your skillet, but instead of using oil or butter to coat the pan, add a dab of bacon grease. Then cook your pancakes as you normally would, flipping them when the batter begins to bubble.

If you’re cooking bacon first (which we strongly suggest), just remove the bacon from the pan, dispose of any excess grease and keep a dollop in the skillet. Then spoon your pancake batter right on the greased pan.

The result: Pancakes that are doughy on the inside, crispy around the edges and taste amazing. Pile ’em high, drizzle with maple syrup and

ENJOY!

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Muffins

First of all, if you do not LOVE making muffin tin recipes, then you haven’t made muffin tin recipes. I mean- there are websites DEDICATED to using these things for much more than muffins… even turning them upside down and making cookie bowls for ice cream. YES- you read that right! Cookie Ice Cream Bowls. Sweet Mary….

OK- so this recipe is similar to one that I did earlier with biscuits sliced in half and flattened. Laying them flat- adding cinnamon sugar AND nuts and putting them in a loaf pan….

But this little recipe gives you individual layered muffins that are OH SO GOOD! Using, of all things… french bread loaves… NEVER thought about that- but I am glad that they did! Check it out!

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Muffins

  • Prep    15 MIN
  • Total    35 MIN
  • Servings    6

Layers of buttery cinnamon sugar goodness packed into a muffin. Can’t get much better! 

Ingredients

1 can (11 oz) refrigerated crusty French loaf
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Steps

  • 1 Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
  • 2 In a skillet, brown the butter over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. The butter will turn a caramel color and smell nutty. (Watch it carefully because it can quickly go from browned to burned.) Set aside to cool.
  • 3 In a small bowl combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside for later.
  • 4 Open the bread dough and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, make a small slit to score the dough at the middle point of the roll, so that there are two equal sections. Then score each section again in the middle. Repeat, scoring sections at the halfway point, until you have 31 slits in the dough. Using a very sharp serrated knife, slice the dough into discs using these score marks as guides.

  • 5 Place all the slices on a large sheet of wax or parchment paper and flatten with a rolling pin. Brush each disc of dough with the melted butter. Dip buttered slices into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Add any remaining butter and sugar mixture to the prepared muffin tin.
  • 6 Stack 5-6 pieces of dough on top of each other. Slice each stack in half and place both sections cut side down in a muffin tin. Repeat with remaining dough until all cups of the muffin tin are filled. (sprinkle extra cinnamon sugar on tops if you like- too much butter and they will NOT brown)
  • 7 Place muffin tin onto a large rimmed cookie sheet to catch any sugar or butter overflow. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then enjoy!
  • 8- for sugar OVERLOAD- and a cinnamon roll flash- add some glaze- but, for me, that was too much. They are plenty sweet just like this!
 ENJOY!!!

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Bars

YUM is ALL I can say!

 My daughters and I used to make something like this from an old Paula Deen recipe. It wasn’t quite this creamy, but this one is OH SO GOOD!  It has Cream Cheese- which I can’t tell the hubby-he hates cream cheese- but what he doesn’t know…

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Bars

  • Prep     15 MIN
  • Total     50 MIN
  • Servings      12

 

This famous St. Louis dessert starts with a vanilla butter cake base topped with a gooey cream cheese layer.  You can hardly wait for them to  cool completely before cutting them into pieces -but you HAVE to or they will fall apart! They smell so amazing right out of the oven…but they ARE worth the wait.

(Tip: for just the right amount of “gooey,” make sure to use a 9×9-inch pan and not an 8×8.)

Ingredients

1 box (15.25 oz)  Cake Mix French Vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3 eggs
8 ounces cream cheese
1 pound bag (about 3-3/4 cups) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Steps

  • 1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 9×9-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  • 2 In a bowl, mix together the cake mix, melted butter and 1 egg until a soft dough forms. Press into the bottom of the baking dish.
  • 3 In a stand mixer, combine together the cream cheese, 2 eggs, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over the cake mix layer.
  • 4 Bake bars for 45 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and the center has set to a soft consistency.
  • 5 Cool COMPLETELY before slicing into bars and serving. (If not, it WILL fall apart!)
 ENJOY!