The Cheese

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Life can be a struggle.  Life can also be a beautiful thing.  I’m going to tell you a story about how a stranger helped turn my struggle into a beautiful thing.  Now, the title of this post may sound a little odd.  It’s strange to see a story about individually wrapped cheese playing a life changing role in someone’s life.  However, it did in mine.  I’ll never look at those little wrapped slices of cheesy goodness the same way.  And it’s not a culinary discovery thing.  It’s a life altering event kind of thing.  Let me explain.

Not everyone in the world has lived their life the way they should.  We all grow up with a mental picture of what we are supposed to do.  We are supposed to graduate high school, graduate college, meet the love of our life, get married, buy a house and have babies.  Well, sometimes this doesn’t happen for all of us.  Sometimes we think that the choice we are making is the right one.  Nobody ever gets married intending to get a divorce.  Sometimes, even though you want to live happily ever after with the person you first marry, it doesn’t happen.  We don’t want this to happen, but for reasons unknown to the rest of the world, it does.  Maybe you try to make it work.  Maybe you fight and fight and fight for it to work, but it doesn’t.  This is ok.  Even when the rest of the world judges you because you aren’t following the Bible the way you should, you are ok.  From all the things I have read and heard, if you believe in God, He will still love you.  Ignore every single person that judges you.  If they post pictures on Facebook about how much better they are because they are not divorced, ignore them.  Nobody knows the roads that you have traveled.  Even if they are ignorant enough to think they do, they don’t.  Only you know in your heart and you need to convince yourself that your mistakes are ok.  Until you do that, you will always feel guilty because society paints a picture of what happily ever after is.  Create your own. 

Now, that being out of the way, I chose a path that was bumpy.  It was bumpy with logs in the way, sticks, boulders, tasmanian devils, tornadoes, you name it, it was on that darn path.  I learned a lot, I’ve grown a lot.  I feel like I know more at 31 than some people that I know do at 65.  I don’t boast about it, I just feel a lot more content with the little things in life.  That rough part of my life was not only mentally rough, but financially rough as well.  Making about $300 a week, I had to support a new baby, a 4 year old, pay $950 at the time for rent and still do the day to day things.  I had way too much pride to apply for food stamps.  Would I have qualified, absolutely.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I knew there would be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Did I think that light was still 4 years away, nope not at all.  I really hoped it would be a lot sooner, but it wasn’t and that’s ok.

The only thing that I asked for help with was milk, formula and cheese.  There is a program out there called WIC and they give those that struggle checks to buy these things.  Oh my Lord, it pained me to do this.  I cringe even thinking about it now.  Having to step into that office asking for help still makes me tear up.  I used those checks 3 times.  3 times and that was it.  I could have used them another 3-4 years, but I refused.  I could manage even if I went without.  As long as my children were fed and happy, I was happy.  Sometimes my pride is my enemy, but it’s who I am and I would not change that characteristic ever.

After going to a well known department store, I used my checks the first time.  The large blue envelope that carried the checks was humiliating for me.  The cashier called me “a welfare person.”  This wasn’t welfare, but I just teared up and took my baby formula and milk out of the store as fast as I could.  I left there letting her think what she wanted because some people who have these mentalities really are ignorant.  If they only knew that everything was taken from me and I was working as hard as I could, they would understand.  However, some people don’t deserve to hear your story.  I just pray they never find themselves to be in that same situation.  It’s heartbreaking. 

The next week or two when I had the courage (kind of) to go back and try again, I did.  However, I dragged my mom and dad along with me for support and went to a different store.  This was a little market in town next to a church I grew up going to.  I did feel a little bit better in this one.  I grabbed my baby formula, my milk, my cheese and some cereal.  Hiding the gigantic blue envelope, I pulled it out cautiously, trying to make sure nobody could see me.  I wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible.  It was after work, around 5pm and the foot traffic in the store was starting to pick up.  The nice cashier didn’t call me a welfare person.  However, there was a problem and of course, I had about 3 or 4 others in line behind me now.

“Mam, there’s no cheese on this check this week.”  I looked at the check and it wasn’t on there.  I had nothing.  My $20 was just put in my gas tank and my bank account was just drained to go to $1,000 rent.  “Oh.” I say quietly.  My face was as red as a Maine lobster fresh out of the cooking pot.  “I can’t get it this time.  I’m sorry.”  She gave me the most sympathetic look.  My parents couldn’t hear what was going on and I would be dammed if I asked them for a nickel.  They already had helped me so much, even $3 cheese was out of the question.  I gave her the checks and didn’t dare look around.  When people stare at you, it’s like you can feel them burning holes in the back of your head.  Or this could have just been my paranoia.

I went out to the parking lot, speed walking to my parent’s van as fast as I could.  I was so embarrassed.  I just wanted to hug my mom.  All of a sudden I hear, “Mam!”  I just continued getting in the van.  “Mam, mam!”  I turned around.  “Mam, I bought your cheese for you!  I hope you have a good day!”  The stranger handed me the cheese.  I just looked at him.   I thanked him over and over.  That kind stranger purchased the cheese after I left the store and ran it out to me in the parking lot.  After he walked away without saying another word, I just looked at my mom.  I got into the van and I cried.  But, for the first time in a really long time, it was a good cry.  He didn’t judge me.  He wasn’t looking at me like I had chosen the wrong path in life.  He wasn’t there to give me a lecture, he just wanted to help me.  I will be forever grateful.

I don’t even know if that kind stranger still remembers that.  I know I do.  I know I’ll never forget.  Every time I pass that little market, I think of that time.  Because of him, I try at least once a month to pay for the person behind me at the drive-thru.  I try to do little things for people when I can.  Other people may see it as a waste of money, but I see it as a genuine act of kindness.  Why not?  Save your money, yes.  Be responsible, yes.  But, splurge a little too.  Having nothing is not fun.  If you have even a little extra, enjoy it.  You can’t take it to the grave with you.  You can save for big fancy things, but don’t forget to live life too. 

And maybe, if you see someone struggling at the store, buy them their cheese. ūüėČ

“Never look down on someone unless you are helping them up.”  – Unknown

xoxo,

Stacy

 

 

Stretch Pants & Tums – I Love Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving. 

A time to be thankful for everything we have in life.   A time for friends and families to get together.  Memories are made and traditions are started. 

Thanksgiving.

A time where you force yourself to eat until you cannot move off of the couch. 

On Thanksgiving in our family, we¬†know better than to wear our fitted jeans.¬†¬†We don’t break out the Spanx and tight dresses.¬† No way.¬† Instead, it’s a time for stretch pants.

Lucky for us, stretch pants don’t look like they used to back in the day.¬† We don’t have to rely on sweatpants or “M.C. Hammer pants” anymore.¬† Now we have the more festive stretch pants.¬† We can pair a nice holiday, loose fitted sweater with leggings.¬† Or we can buy into the new “Pajama Jeans” fad.¬† Nobody will ever know the difference.¬†

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and pie.  Bring it all on. 

I have been eating soup for 3 weeks preparing for this day. 

¬†I won’t be wearing a belt.¬† Spanx are put away.¬† Stretch pants are going to be my friend.¬† I’m not even going to feel guilty.¬†

That is until Thursday night when I am in a turkey coma. 

But, I will be preparing to be out for 12 hours on Black Friday.¬† I will be fighting off other shoppers and running from one end of the store to another.¬† On Black Friday I will burn all of my Thanksgiving calories.¬† I’ll change back into normal clothing.¬† I’ll start eating my soup and Special K.

I love Thanksgiving. (And Pajama Jeans too.) ūüėČ

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

xoxo,

Stacy

I’m Not Overweight, I’m Undertall.

Senior picture. Ahh, remember when...

Dieting.¬† Gag, blah, ugh, grr, argh.¬† That basically describes how I feel about it.¬† It is the most¬† difficult thing I do to myself.¬†¬† Some people are blessed with the ability to not even have to worry about it.¬†¬†I on the other hand am not.¬† I embrace my curves, but when I start finding curves in all the wrong places, it’s time straighten them back out.

I used to be¬†so tiny.¬† That was before¬†my first kiddo.¬†¬†¬†I did the whole “I can eat everything, I’m pregnant!”¬† Yeah, I lied to myself.¬† I doubled my size.¬† I worked out and somebody (no names) bought me NutriSystem for my birthday.¬† I did ok on it, but never got down to my size 4-5 again.¬†

After I had my son, I was stressed out due to a long divorce.¬† I was really sick with him also.¬† The hospital gave me penicillin (I’m allergic) and I lost way too much blood for my own good.¬† I dropped a ton of weight.¬† So, technically I lost all my babyweight, but it really wasn’t the healthy way.¬† I didn’t like the way I looked at all.¬† I was pale, too thin, just not right.¬† I had to get myself at a healthy weight¬†again, but we (mostly I) decided I wanted another baby.¬†

My third baby came along and so did the birth of my love handles.¬† I looked fine while pregnant, but after giving birth I gained my baby weight (I know, that doesn’t make sense, but it totally happened.)¬† Now, I struggle.¬†

If I would have been born another 3 or 4 inches taller, I would be the perfect weight.¬† I’d be a hot momma.¬† But, I am vertically challenged.¬† Like my Dad told me, “I’m not overweight, I’m undertall!”¬† Totally true.

Vanity isn’t the most important thing to me.¬† Of course I want to look nice, but I also don’t want to be stickly.¬† I want to be healthy for my children, my Fiance and myself.¬† We forget about all of that greasy food clogging our veins.¬† It starts building up early in life.¬† I can’t stand the dirty dishes in my sink having food stuck to them.¬† The last thing I want is for something disgusting to clog my arteries.¬† So, I am determined to get in shape.¬† It may take me a few ¬†months.¬† It’ll likely take me a year, but I will do this.¬†

I can do this. 

I do just have to ask myself why I am choosing to do this before Thanksgiving.¬† Terrible timing.¬† But, better now than when I am in the dressing room, under fluorescent lighting, trying on bathing suits next summer.¬†¬†There’s some more motivation to get it done now. ūüėČ

xoxo,

Stacy

Peanut Is Allergic To Peanuts.. Now What?

I wanted to send him out in protective gear to avoid peanuts!

About one year ago, I made my than 2 1/2-year-old a peanut butter sandwich.  I was working on making something quick for my 1-year old.  Some how, my 1-year old took a bite of the sandwich.  At that moment, one of the scariest things I have ever encountered happened. 

Within minutes, his face began to swell.  He was suddenly lethargic and mellow.  He was having a reaction to the peanut butter.  I was home alone with them.  My Fiance was working 2nd shift at that time and we only had one car between the both of us.  Mildly panicking, I called my parents.  Thank goodness they were 2 minutes down the road. 

Mom and Dad showed up.¬† I was trying to get the kids ready.¬† My Mom called the ER to let them know we were on the way.¬† My Dad was holding my 1-year old who was just laying there with hives all over his face.¬† Rather than calling 911, we drove him ourselves.¬†¬† I couldn’t wait for them to get there.¬† Now it makes sense and I should have called.¬† I just wasn’t thinking at that time though.

We got to the ER and we were rushed in.¬† They gave my son an IV and an EPI pen shot.¬† Within minutes his face started clearing up.¬† He wasn’t happy with the needles.¬† He was thrashing around, but I was so happy to see him reacting that way.¬† This could have been bad.¬† I couldn’t help but cry while seeing him.¬† The Doctor and nurses were looking at me in a funny way, but I couldn’t help it.¬† I felt so guilty.¬† I had no idea he had a peanut allergy, but I still felt this was my fault.¬† After a few hours, we left and he was ok.

His pediatrician suggested we do a blood test to make sure it was definitely the peanuts.  He was also on amoxicillin for an ear infection at that time.  They wanted to make sure it was definitely the nuts.  The ER Doctor suggested the same, even telling me to spread a little bit on his back to see if he reacts.  Really?  As a Mom, I know what just happened.  There is no way in hell I am going to put some on him!  So, I opted for the blood test. 

After a few weeks, the results were in.  The nurse asked if I had a pen on me.  Not only is he allergic to peanuts, but he is allergic to dogs, cats, walnuts, coconut, almonds, basically all nuts and soy.  Wait.  What?  Soy?  Yup, soy also.  To the allergist we go.

I had been through an allergy exam with my daughter.¬† This was the least pleasant¬†thing to put a child through.¬† She was 4 at the time and it was traumatic for her.¬† My baby is a little over 1.¬†¬† But, we had to do it.¬† We wanted to do it.¬† Better safe than sorry.¬† The test¬†was interesting to say the least.¬† It’s certainly not fun.¬† They wiped down his back and marked it up with numbers.¬† (When my daughter had hers they used her arm.¬† If your child should ever need one done, ask that it be done on their back.¬† They can’t reach it and it’s so much better.) They then have a tray of all different types of liquids which are the allergens.¬† They use a little prick type thing, not really a needle, but to me it looked like a mini-golf tee with a very pointy tip.¬† They scratch each marked number and wait for a reaction.

About 20 minutes after the test.

¬† The peanut was an instant reaction.¬† It looked like a very swollen mosquito bite.¬† The Soy and Tree Nuts were also bad.¬† The nurse actually had to use an alcohol wipe to wipe those samples off of his skin rather than waiting the full 10-15 minutes.¬† I knew what to expect with the peanuts, a mother’s gut instinct usually knows best, but I feared the worst when it came to Glucose, Wheat, Shellfish and Eggs.¬† Thankfully, those were all negative.

We were told that when he is about 4-years old, they will re-test him.¬† There is a chance he will outgrow these allergies.¬† That would be amazing.¬† But, for now, what do we do?¬† Our life grocery shopping has changed dramatically.¬† EVERYTHING¬†HAS SOY OR PEANUTS OR WAS MADE IN A FACTORY WITH PEANUTS!¬† It’s very over-whelming and also incredibly scary.¬†¬† Thankfully, there are some amazing websites out there.¬† I discovered¬†a few¬†today.

One of the staples of my childhood was a good old Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.¬† I mean, who hasn’t had one of these and who doesn’t love the thought of one.¬† I don’t want my baby growing up never having one.¬† Well, today, I stumbled across a website called http://www.peanutfreeplanet.com.¬† It’s amazing.¬† They have peanut butter substitutes that are made with sunflower seeds.¬† Peanut, Tree-Nut and Soy free!¬† So much to choose from.¬† I plan on updating this as I find new recipes and websites.¬† So far, this one has the best options.¬†

If your child does have a peanut, soy or tree-nut allergy, please make sure you check what type of oil restaurants use.¬† Chinese restaurants are big on peanut oil.¬† McDonald’s is peanut free, but their ice cream sundaes are not.¬† Here is a website that has all kinds of information, http://www.bestallergysites.com/. There is even a magazine about living with allergies.

Some schools are now going peanut free also.¬† Please be understanding if your child does not have these allergies.¬† I didn’t understand until we had this scare. http://www.foodallergy.org¬†has some great information as well.¬†

Hopefully, you never have to deal with these kinds of allergies.  If you do and if have any information that you would like to share with me, please do in the comments.  

xoxo,

Stacy