heart in the clouds

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Firsts and lasts ; Texas and Iraq

Yes, I spent the majority of last week laying in a hospital bed with pancreatitis and it totally stunk! Worst pain I have ever felt and I'm really glad for good drugs, kind nurses and some amazingly smart doctors. They still aren't completely sure what caused it...could be that I accidentally ate gluten, could have been a side effect of the CMV virus, could've been a left over gall stone from my surgery last fall....but no one knows for sure. Maybe it was a combination of all of it. I don't want to dwell on that experience in this blog because frankly I have much more exciting stuff coming down the pike and well...I'm sick of being sick and I'm determined that is the last bout of sickness for me for awhile. I really appreciate all the prayers, visits, phone calls, flowers and meals from my sweet friends. I hope I can repay your kindness in some way in the future.

So on to the more exciting stuff - my brother. Tomorrow, David, Zach and I are heading down the road to the motherland. For those who don't understand that means TEXAS people :) the land where I was born and where the majority of my family still resides. The road traveled is nothing new, we go to Texas all the time, but this time it's different. I'm going to meet my half-brother Michael for the first time. He's 26 and he's always lived in Washington state so it's never been "convenient" for us to meet. Also, I held a grudge against him for way too long for something that isn't his fault at all.

You see, when I was 10 years old, my dad cheated on my mom and as a result the woman he cheated with became pregnant. My dad thought the right thing to do was leave us, marry her and raise that child. The situation caused so much pain in my life and so much bitterness that at times I really hated them all. Then God broke my spirit and I realized I had to forgive my dad and even the woman who I felt had broken up our family. They had two boys together and then they divorced and she moved the boys to Wash. I met my younger brother Jeffrey when he was 17 (he's 25 now) and I'm really glad we've met. I wish we were a bigger part of each other's lives and I'm working on that.

I'd always asked my dad about Michael when we did talk, which is not often, and he'd say he didn't know how to reach him, blah blah blah. I never pushed the issue because of a multitude of reasons. I knew he was in the Navy and that he'd been out on several cruises, most of which my dad never even knew what ship he was on. Over the past several years, I've had a strong desire to connect with him and I just didn't know how. My brother Jeff is on my myspace friends' list and one day I noticed someone on his friends' list that looked like him and the name was right so I sent a message to Michael and told him I'd like to get to know him. He said he would like that. He also told me he's about to be deployed to Iraq and this time he will be on the ground. He mentioned that he wanted to get in touch with my dad, whom he hadn't seen in 10 years. His mom now lives in Texas so he was planning to spend some time there before he ships out. I worked it out so that we could be there during that time and my sister even jumped on board and is bringing her family down from Oklahoma to meet him as well.

I'm so excited, nervous, anxious, happy and sad. I wish we were meeting under different circumstances and that he didnt' have to go put himself in harm's way shortly after. I want a chance to really know him and I don't want him to get hurt fighting for our country. I'm so proud of him at the same time for doing this. He's got a 3-year-old son that he has to be away from so much because of duty and honor to this country. I guess I'm scared too; my mother lost her brother in Vietnam and I don't want to lose a brother in Iraq the same way. I know it's different because I haven't even been a part of his life the way my mother was a part of her brother's life, but still I've prayed for him for a long time and I do love him as strange as that may sound to some.

Another interesting part of this puzzle is Michael's mother. I never saw her, not even a photograph, while I was growing up. I honestly believe God was protecting my eyes because had I seen her, I would have a picture of someone to fuel my hatred. My childhood ended when I was 10 because of what she and my dad did to us; that's how I felt. I had to watch my mother go into a deep depression and I had to take care of my younger sister A LOT. It was tough for a young child, but we got through it and we're all closer because of it. Not too long ago through the Myspace maze, I saw her but the first photos I saw included photos of her recent baptism after she was saved. Now I firmly believe God shielded my eyes as a child to prevent deeper hatred and bitterness and I firmly believe he allowed me to see her for the first time under the veil of His grace so that I could forgive her. What a mighty God; a God so sensitive to our needs in THIS moment. For He knew when I was 10 that it would be 26 more years before I'd see this woman and that it would be in a situation where I could not hate.

So this weekend will complete the mystery, the missing puzzle piece in my family. All six of my father's children will hopefully be in one place for the first time. I hope he is able to sense the awesomeness of that moment. Ages 5 to 36; 3 girls; 3 boys - same father, three different moms. It's really my hope and prayer that one day we'll all be bigger parts of each other's lives. I'll post after all this goes down :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tyson, what a tangled web we weave

Okay a lot of people know I lean to the natural and organic side of things and call me alternative, granola, crunchy, or just plain weird. I'm very opposed to antibiotics and hormones in our meats, eggs and dairy products, heavy pesticide use in vegetable crops, ANY artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup in ANYTHING (that's right any diet soda or soda with HFCS is evil :)), etc. There's a megaton of evidence to support my leanings and I don't apologize for them whatsoever. I also don't push them on others, but I do explain myself if someone asks or wants information as to why these things are harmful to our families. I try to be a very educated consumer and most of the time, I get it right. So maybe it's me I should be more frustrated with, but today I'm frustrated with Tyson and their deceptive marketing.

A couple years ago when we decided to stop buying those frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts at the grocery store, it was hard to stomach the price of the chicken I know is more healthy and safe. But we made it work, bought from local producers in the warm months and then from Whole Foods in the winter months when sustainability wasn't a valid option if you wanted chicken. Then last year I saw it...Tyson's "ALL NATURAL" frozen, boneless, skinless breasts!!! I thought we'd hit the jackpot and I picked up a bag and felt very good that I was buying a product raised without hormones, without antibiotics that contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans, etc. I should've known then that it was too good to be true.

The USDA approved the labeling and marketing for Tyson on this product and more recently retracted their approval saying they can either stop labeling the chicken antibiotic-free or remove the ionophores (antibiotic-like substance) from its chicken feed. Now if you want to research ionophores and how they are just a smoke screen for antibiotics, feel free that's not what this blog is about. But I guess since Tyson is not injecting antibiotics into the chicken's body, they feel they can claim "raised without antibiotics," I call BS! I also learned that Tyson injects their chicken eggs with antibiotics, but they this:

“The claim we’re making is ‘raised without.’ And our consumer research would say that ‘raised without’ in the consumer’s mind, is from hatchery to when they buy the chicken in the store,” said Dave Hogberg, senior vice president for consumer products at Tyson.

A federal judge has ordered Tyson Foods to withdraw advertisements claiming its chickens are “raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans.”

Two competitors said the ads were untrue because Tyson injects it eggs with antibiotics and used antibiotic molecules in its feed.

Tyson maintained that its claim was truthful, and intends to appeal the decision....of course they did.

Another thing about this "all-natural" chicken: it could be injected with up to 15 percent salt water. It could contain carrageenan, a seaweed extract allowing the chicken to hold on to the salt and water during processing.

Also, the fine print on the back of a chicken package labeled "100 percent all natural" could show that the chicken contains up to seven times the extra salt of nonenhanced varieties. So if you're aiming for a low-sodium diet, forget these babies.

So there's my rant for today. Tyson, I'm DONE with you and I guess it's back to sky-high chicken prices....the sky IS falling little guy :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My sister loves me :)

Yes, my sister really loves me and it shows in ways that most people wouldn't recognize.

We live far apart - roughly 800.44 miles. We talk almost daily and I've never felt like the physical distance has created much emotional distance between us. In fact, we have to actually talk a lot more to keep up. We vent to each other A LOT! Throughout my recent health ordeal, I've vented and cried and even sat silent with her on the phone. We used to do this thing when I first moved to Kentucky and Party of Five and Beverly Hills 90210 were still on the air and not in syndication; we'd call each other and literally watch the shows together, like we used to do in person and make comments, laugh so on. It was a way to stay close and still enjoy the things we had in common together even though we were not physically together. It meant a lot to me, although I'm sure other people didn't quite understand our "wierdness." Whatever.

I have helped her with marketing and promoting a now defunct candle company - why those things never took off I still don't know; they were the BEST candles ever and I'm not just saying that out of sisterly bias. So we moved right into marketing a new business venture for her - a children's consignment sale called Adorable Affordables. It's been very successful in the first two installments and we still have a way to work together on things across the miles. God bless technology...really!

It's these little things I've learned to appreciate the most. But this most recent act of love on her part is so sweet. She knows I've struggled with gluten intolerance/celiac disease and that I just really don't like to cook. She on the other hand, loves to cook and plan menus and she's very good at it. I told her, jokingly, it was her job to find a way to make a gluten-free cake that tastes like her wedding cakes. She's taken me seriously and really started to research it. But it's gone beyond that; she is out buying gluten-free products and taste-testing them for me...awww, right? She left me a message today about buying a Thai product that was gluten free and how good it was. I was just really touched that she's doing this for me. For those of you with gluten intolerance/celiac disease, you realize how tough the taste battle is sometimes with gluten free products and to know that your family is supportive is just exceptional.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

He Nose How to Embarrass Me Now

Yes I realize some of you may think I misspelled a word in the title of this blog. But you'll figure out why I'm so punny today.

I always wondered at what age our honest-to-a-fault children begin to embarrass us in public by the comments they make. I don't have to wonder anymore. Last night at Zachary's Gymboree class, Meghan and her daddy walked in and Zachary stared at the daddy and then very matter of factly said "mommy, NOSE" and pointed straight to the guys big nose. I was like oh, that's right that's his nose. I thought that would be it. But Zach was still pointing and still saying "nose." At that point, Meghan's daddy said "Yeah, I have a big nose." I was pretty mortified because I couldn't get Zach to stop staring at his nose. Finally he began pointing to David's nose too, whew.

The bad thing is we had to stay with these people for another 45 minutes and it was awkward to say the least. I guess it wasn't that bad in retrospect, however, it was a very hot-cheeks moment at the time!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Great, I'm raising a potential burgler

What's that passage about raising up a child in the way he should go and when he's old, he will not depart from it? UH OH, we are in trouuuuuuuuuuuble! The other day Zach picked up a business card laying on the table and said he wanted to "hold it." Well he immediately walked to the front door and started swiping it between the door and frame by the door knob. I was watching him and thinking "surely not, he couldn't know that."

So here's the conversation that followed:

Me: Um, Zachary what are you doing?

Zach: I unlock it.

Me: David, get in here and look at what your son is doing.
Zach: I unlock it, daddy.
Me: Zachary we unlock the door with a key, not a card.

Zach: silent and still swiping.

Me: Zachary?

Zach: I unlock it.

Me: That's not how you unlock it.
Zach: Mommy, you do.

Unbelievable, right; then it hit me. We locked ourselves out of the house on Christmas day and to make a long story short - I ruined a credit card trying to break back into the house and then the firefighters tried to use the same method before finally getting us back in. I couldn't believe he remembered that! He did get to go to the fire station a few days later and give them a cake we made and they in turn let him be a little fireman for awhile and sit in the truck. They even gave him his own hat. So I guess we all glorified breaking and entering! Go us!