Boundaries in Blogging

This is something that I am not at all good at. I write from the heart, and sometimes I feel like I have word vomit all over the screen. I am careful about writing about coworkers and family members, but my own stuff is just all over the place. I think it’s important to keep in mind that the internet is forever, and nothing really goes away. Every thought, every story that is told, every single post should be thought through before posting…. but where do you draw the line?

Press Publish

“You’re going to blog about me, aren’t you?”

If you haven’t gotten this question from you friends, family, coworkers, or random strangers at Target yet*, it’s just a matter of time. From the moment that I made it known to my friends and family that I had set up my own digital space to tell my stories, people in my life have wondered when, exactly, they would make their grand entrance on my blog and immediately start receiving their residuals.

*Hey, it could happen.

Almost four years into my blogging stint, my friends and family now know that I would never write anything personal or sensitive about them, and even if I did, I would vet the post with them first. None of us lives life in a vacuum, so it’s important for us to exercise discretion when we share our world on our blogs. The truth is that there are other lives…

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Packaged Love: Lasagna

Ok,  I know I said I wanted something unique, but I also have to create meals for myself this week. So, I started with something that I would want in my own freezer.

: Make Ahead

I started with lasagna. Not because I was scared, but because I had all the ingredients on hand, and I knew I could make a batch to freeze for myself as well. Besides, I make a darn-good lasagna.

So here’s my basic plan, although I generally just add in whatever items I have on hand.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound lean ground beef   (This time I used hot Italian sausage instead, YUM)

1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce.

1 tablepoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

12 box, uncooked lasagna noodles

8 cups boiling water

1 (16-oz.) container ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 bag of shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Garnish: chopped fresh parsley
Steps:

1. The olive oil, garlic and your meat of choice get tossed into a skillet for the meat to brown. I’m not a superstar chef so I play it by ear. I have no idea how long this takes. But if it still looks pink, it’s not done. Mine here needs just a little more time. lasagna-52. While that is browning, if you can multitask you can start on the ricotta filling. Just pour out the contents of the ricotta container into a bowl. Add two beaten eggs, (I never remember to beat mine first so I just mix it all at the same time. Like I said, not a super star chef.) Into the bowl add: salt, pepper, Italian seasonings…. I also added some grated parm cheese. I’m pretty sure that’s not on the ingredient list.

Here's the cheese and egg mixture before I start stirring.
Here’s the cheese and egg mixture before I start stirring.

3. Now, the noodles and the layering. I used regular lasagna noodles this time. The ones that you have to boil in water, drain and then be careful of not breaking. BUT: in the past I have successfully used the ones that you DONT HAVE TO COOK FIRST! and they are amazing. You just follow the directions on the box.

lasagna-3
You can layer as you want. I follow this pattern:
  • Sauce (enough to cover bottom of pan)
  • Noodles
  • Ricotta Mixture
  • Handful of Shredded Mozzarella
  • Noodles
  • Sauce
  • Meat
  • Noodles
  • Sauce
  • Ricotta mixture
  • Noodles
  • Sauce
  • Top with Mozzarella

The best part?

4. Cover and Freeze. The end.

To eat, all you have to do is take it out of the freezer the night before and then pop it in the oven when you want to eat. It takes about 45 minutes in the oven at 350*.  Generally I let it bake, covered in foil for about 40 minutes, then take the foil off for the last ten minutes.

I found these really awesome disposable pans in my local grocery store. They have cardboard lids and are the perfect size for a family of two!
I found these really awesome disposable pans in my local grocery store. They have cardboard lids and are the perfect size for a family of two!

So, I have one of these in the freezer for myself and one ready to head over to my friend’s house when the chaos of this week is over. Blessing this family through their stomachs is the best idea I have ever had.

Blogging and Website Building 101

I’m posting this same blog post on all three of my blogs today because I’m technologically impaired and as they are ALL about to be redone some of them will be off line at different times all week.   So anyway….Beginning Blogging

 

Perhaps you’ve noticed. Maybe you haven’t. But either way, we are moving and shaking this week at Pompey Hollow Photo.

I’ve been pouring over articles on how to make my blogging better, more effective and just generally more fun. Article after article I read instructed me to move from wordpress.com and get my butt moving onto a more professional style and self-hosted blog. Thus begins my journey where everything about this business will be under construction. This makes me panic a little bit.

I’m ready though. I want to bite that bullet. I’m ready to tackle success and to not be afraid to make changes.

What were your biggest stumbling blocks as you started out on your business journey? Or haven’t you yet? Are you a super procrastinator like me?

If you’re just starting out in the blogging world, let me recommend the first of many tips and tricks I’ve been gathering on this journey. I really love reading the ideas offered by Jill Levenhagen over at Blog Chicka Blog. She’s a photographer/blogger/mom who is incredibly inspiring as I’ve been starting **slowly** to overhaul this mess I call my websites. Go check her out. You will be glad you did.

Sometimes You Just Have to Walk Away

I wish my grandmother would start to explore her options as far as taking care of herself too. I know that she is frustrated and scared and sad, but she also doesn’t ask for help, doesn’t take or listen to our advice and won’t seek out the resources we have tried to share with her online.

In The Trenches

When our children were babies and they were crying inconsolably, we would sometimes put them in their crib and walk away, so we could keep our wits about us.  When our kids were teenagers, we had to walk away to prevent us from whopping them upside the head when they pushed our buttons.  Our loved ones with Alzheimer’s are no different.  Sometimes you just have to walk away for your own sanity.  And it’s okay to walk away.

When the family’s phone calls bombard you because “dad doesn’t sound right,” or when dad is taking apart his electric razors repeatedly and leaving all the little pieces everywhere, after you spend a lot of time putting them back together, it’s time to walk away for a little while.  When the telephone becomes the remote and the alarm clock is the phone, it’s okay to go somewhere and attempt to clear…

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Post Vacation worries….

It’s been several days now since my family has gone back home, and left me alone to think back over our whirlwind vacation.

This has been the first time in which I was acutely aware of my grandfather’s deteriorating memory. Of course, the signs have been there for years, maybe I’ve just not allowed myself to reconcile with the idea that my grandfather, who seemed old only in title, was not doing well. Perhaps, it is because this is the first time I’ve spent consecutive days with them in close quarters in years, or maybe my mind just didn’t want to believe what it was seeing, until now.

I knew he had a habit of repeating the same story over and over. I knew that there were times as of late in which he took much longer in coming up with my name. There have been several instances in the past year or so in which I had to remind him I was his granddaughter and not his daughter…what strikes me most, right now, is the genuine fear I could watch flicker over his face. Times in which he noticed that he was forgetting something important, times in which he would struggle to find the word he was trying to use in a sentence, times that he would search my eyes for the answer to the question that he could not find the words to ask. I’ve long ago stopped telling him I had already heard a story that he was trying to tell, watching the puzzled look come over his face as he tried to cover up the mistake one too many times, now I know it’s best to patiently listen, even asking questions about a story I’ve heard retold many times allows him to regain some control over his mind.

My grandfather has an amazing sense of humor. I don’t want to forget that. He is thoughtful and witty. He notices things that other people pass by, he has time for things that other people do not have time for. While we were traveling this past week he was the one who would point out the clouds that looked like dragons, rocks in the melting snow in the shape of hearts…He pointed out how the aspen trees lining the road “looked like a white picket fence” and noted that the tiny crescent moon, rising up over the mountains looked “like a little toboggan sledding down the side of the hill.”

As we sat on the couch one evening, side by side, he petting my dog, me just watching my family, he nudged me. Looking over I could see my mother trying desperately to teach my grandmother how to play a computer game on Facebook. He smiled, “Its like trying to teach a blind carpenter to drive nails over there.” He pointed at them and I couldn’t help but laugh. My grandfather is witty.

For instance, another evening he was picking up an Italian sausage from his plate at dinner, he looked up grinning like a little boy. “Now this is what you call a HOT dog.”

I hate watching this happen to him. I hate that he knows it’s happening to him and that there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it. As an onlooker, I feel like this must be what it feels like to watch someone drown, and know that by the time you swim out to them it would be too late. I feel like right now, Papa is still able to tread water, but before long we will be watching as his head just bobs above the surface now and then, helpless to help him to stay afloat. Eventually, as this disease is known to do, I know that it will swallow my grandfather, and he will sink below the surface of this illness, we may see him pop back up from time to time for a gulp of air, but I know the eventual outcome, and I hate it. I wish I could throw him a life vest, I wish I knew how long he would be able to keep on swimming, I wish this wasn’t happening.

I don’t like this one bit, and I think that drowning must be a really horrible way to go.

SO WHY IS A NAME SO IMPORTANT?

I think perspective is crucial to dealing with this. Having the right attitude, choosing to find positives, seeking joy. This helps….

Alzheimer's Speaks Blog

SO WHY IS A NAME SO IMPORTANT ANYWAYS?

When people ask me the question “Does your Mother know who you are?” what they are really asking, is does my Mother recognize it is me, Lori, her daughter.  Some are asking to get an update on how she is doing, others to give me permission not to have to go see her.  No matter what their reason, my answer has never varied.   I always say, “When did a name become so important to us?”

Second, I tell people, “I don’t test that theory anymore.  Why would I?  I have a 50/50 chance at best my Mother will get my name right.  Why would I take a chance of her being wrong and wrecking her day and mine?  What is important to me is that my Mother feels safe and comfortable with me, and on a very good day, we can laugh…

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Family time…

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with my grandparents this month, exploring some more of Colorado. I’ve been discouraged by some of the turns in my grandfather’s health recently and have been feeling guilty that I haven’t been home in New York to support my family during this time. You see, to me, my grandfather has always been a super hero. the idea that he could be anything but is simply inconceivable.

I remember moments in my life where I’m absolutely sure he had super powers. He could climb the maple tree in the front yard of his home higher than it seemed that gravity would allow. He’d quickly transport himself from the ground to the very top, balancing precariously on the delicate, slender branches, and gaze down at me, laughing at my panic. He could perform amazing acrobatics in the living room as he tried to teach me how to place my hands to execute the perfect backward summer salt in hopes of helping me to raise my ever lowering grade in PE. (I never did master that skill.) Papa could also chop wood and heft his axe better than I imagine any storybook Paul Bunyon could. it never dawned on me that this man who never cried, who never complained, who never showed any fear or weakness could change. It had never crossed my mind that this man, whom I idolized, could ever weaken.

For me, Papa has always been more than just my grandfather, he stood in when my own father was absent. He was there the day my mother was helping me learn to ride my bike, running alongside until I got the hang of it, careening off the sidewalk and through their grassy yard. He taught me to play checkers ruthlessly, to build a campfire better than any boy scout and to use a hammer without smashing my fingers. He spent countless hours following us around the mall during one vacation as we shopped for the perfect prom dress and was there to see me off (and give my boyfriend stern looks) as I went off to that same prom. He’d sneak candy into church in his jacket pockets, eat the last of the vegetables off my plate when grandma wasn’t looking, and always be the first one to open the cookie jar when he thought we wouldn’t get caught. He’s been my partner in crime, my example of what it means to be a man, and my lifetime cheerleader. I spent half my childhood tagging along after him in the garage or yard, his constant companion.

This is the man who taught me about life, about what it means to be a part of a family, about how a person can treat love as a verb. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I heard him say the words ”I love you” to me, but I never once doubted that he did. Because Papa lived his love for us, he showed it in the everyday things he did. He’d remind us all to change our oil, take note if our tires looked low, never let us leave the house without trying one of grandma’s newly baked cookies…

Watching this illness slowly take away his ability to be independent is not only heartbreaking, but it may be the single most difficult thing I have ever faced. He’s a natural story-teller that now struggles to find the words he needs to explain what he is thinking. He’s ambitious and curious and funny, yet can’t communicate the joke he’s trying to tell. He likes to do things his own way and enjoys being able to complete tasks by himself, and yet he cannot remember how to perform the most mundane activities, like buckling his seat belt. He easily misunderstands everyday conversation and is quick to anger as his frustrations with his limitations get the best of him.

grandparents

I know that before long he is going to forget my name. I know that my family will face countless challenges as this illness takes its toll on the man that we love. And it’s ok that he forgets…. I just don’t want to.

I like my dog better than I like most people….

10 reasons why a dog is truly (wo)Man’s best friend:

dog best friend

Number 10:
Dogs are so stinking loyal! They never, ever cheat. No matter what other person entices them with bits of hot dog, or promises of bacon, at the end of the Day when I come home from work my dog will be waiting for me, little tail wagging. Dogs are way better than boyfriends.

Number 9:
Dogs don’t care when I put on a few pounds, and are more than willing to be my workout buddy while I run them off. Penny has never judged me based on what ridiculous outfit I’m wearing or told me that my jeans make me look fat. That’s love right there.

Number 8:
The later I am, the MORE excited my dog is to see me. I’ve never come home to a boyfriend who said “You were supposed to be home hours ago,
Gee, I’m so happy to see you!” Without fail, no matter if I’ve been gone for five hours or five minutes, the dog will be there by the door, dancing around on her hind legs, absolutely bursting with joy. I love that joy.

Number 7:
They feel guilty when they’ve done something wrong. You know the look. The one with the EYES.

000_0003

Number 6:
They are always happy when your friends come over. My boyfriends always got that look of terror in their eyes when I announced a few girlfriends would be coming over for the evening. But the dog? She’s all: “YAY! More laps to sit in, more hands to pet, more balls to be THROWN!”

Number 5:
They never complain about your cooking and you never have to worry about little spills in the kitchen. Penny is my best cooking partner, she taste tests everything and even helps clean up!

Happy little Penny

Number 4:
You can train a dog! Bet your dog has never left his shoes in the middle of the floor or left the seat up on the toilet!

Number 3:
Dogs have unconditional love for you. I mean really, put down a bowl of unidentifiable kibble and that tail starts to wag and your dog is all “Yesssss! You’re giving me prime rib for dinner! You love me! I love you! You love me! I love you!”

Number 2:
Stress reduction. Seriously, when I come home from a truly rotten day, she looks right at me, listens exclusively to what I have to say, and licks my face as if she totally knows how big a jerk my boss is.

Number 1:
You never have to be alone. I mean never. Not even for a moment. Not even when you have to pee.

penny outside3

Countdown Anxiety

I should be getting ready for work, but I still sit here in my pajamas lingering over my coffee and catching up on some blog reading. I have to leave this house in fifteen minutes, and it is clear to me that today is going to be a no make-up pony tail day….I didn’t sleep much last night.

I find myself waking up anxious, with my mind swirling in loop-de-loops like an insane person. I have so many things to do in the next few weeks and not enough time.

But this morning, Im making myself take a breather. I will be a moment late to work, and the school will not fall down. I will drive slowly and enjoy the sun rising and admire how it turns my mountains shades of pink and purple in the distance. And I will pray for grace to handle difficult situations, patience to last these remaining weeks, and strength to keep on keeping on, even if just for one more day.