Pineapple Classic:: Leukemia Fundraiser

Hi friends!  As you know, my father is fighting Leukemia.  It's been a long, hard battle.  He is tired of being sick & tired of living in a hospital room.  Every time I'm there, I'm so THANKFUL for the amazing medical staff at the Cleveland Clinic and the medications that make a cure possible.

Anxious to do SOMETHING to help my dad, I am super excited about running in the Pineapple Classic 5k!  It's a silly Hawaiian themed race with obstacles... all to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Please help me to POUR MONEY INTO THE RESEARCH!  In many ways, I feel like every dollar I earn, is THE dollar that will CURE MY DAD.

I'll be racing with 3 dear friends under the name:  TEAM JUNKO.  Perhaps he'll be well enough to cheer us across the finish line?

Please and thank you :)

Junko's daughter.

( I can also accept cash donations if you prefer.  Please send me an email at lazygreenmama@gmail.com to get my address.)


To Prove That I'm No Fool...

This post brought to you by Astrobrights Papers by Neenah Paper. All opinions are 100% mine.

For the past 3 years, I've been mostly a stay-at-home-mom.  I've worked a few part-time jobs, but for the bulk of the time, I've been home with my kids.  For the past year, I've supplemented our income by babysitting and it's been a huge blessing!  I was able to earn enough to cover our grocery bill and my kids had regular play dates.  

Any time a school counseling job was posted in the paper, my mom would show it to me and I'd hem and haw with guilt and insecurity.  I didn't want to work full-time, but I live in a small town and if I pass up an opportunity, it may be gone for good.  My most basic goal was to stay home to breastfeed my children.  Sure, lots of awesome moms breastfeed and pump while at work, but Jake and I planned our lives around our goal of me being home with our infants.

It's been wonderful, and hectic.  Finances are stretched beyond reason.  I worry about being out of the professional loop.  While I love babysitting, I've noticed that Heidi is often ignored while I tend to all the other kids (darn her good nature).  Life as a short-order cook and toy picker-upper can feel tedious.  

Enter SERENDIPITY.  I give full credit to God who holds the reins in my life and who I strive to listen to.  A few weeks ago, the Principal of our local elementary school called me out of the blue.  Their full-time school counselor retired and he is only able to replace her with a part-time position.  I had known that she was retiring, but was dreading the classified ad for her full-time position.  My ideal job in about 3 years, but I want to spend more time with my wee ones and keep working on my freelance writing.  The Principal was desperate to find someone local, who understands our community, who won't leave the position for a full-time offer, etc.  It's truly incredible that I was sitting a mere 3 miles away while he was stressing over the impossible.  Fortunately, I had interned at the school and still maintain a few friendships.  One friend, the HS counselor (a former Lutherlyn counselor!), reminded the Principal about me and he called to see if this stay-at-home-mama was wanting to work part-time (for FULL benefits!).

Have you put 2 and 2 together?  I was offered and JOYFULLY ACCEPTED a part-time elementary school counseling job.  I can't imagine a better place for me right now.  Our local school has such a great reputation!  That's right, I'm going BACK TO SCHOOL!

My head is swimming with elementary counseling activities, curriculums, small groups, etc.  I am a very visual person and LOVE making hand-outs.  Enter AstroBrights papers!  Their 23 bold, bright colors are the perfect canvas for my brilliant lessons!

For those of you who want to make sure that your local elementary school has the resources it needs to encourage creativity, go ahead an enter the "Give a Brighter Year" sweepstakes.  By simply "Liking" the sweepstakes on facebook, you could earn cash and school supplies valued at $30,000 for your favorite elementary school (and $500 for yourself!).

Once you finish that quick sweepstakes, you can join the "Make Something Bright" sweepstakes.  Each week through August, there is a different challenge and a different Visa gift card up for grabs.  This week, you just have to share an IDEA of what you could make with AstroBrights papers!

I'll be posting a few of my ideas on facebook... wanna compete with me :)

Visit Sponsor's Site


The Perfect Beach

Anyone local will probably reply with "well...DUH!", but Farmer Jake and I think we've stumbled upon a brilliant discovery:

Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie in Erie, PA.

this is probably my all-time favorite picture of Heidi!

I'm one of "those" moms who is paranoid about sun exposure...and makes her toddler wear her flotation device anytime she's within 5 feet of the water!  It doesn't matter... according to Hazel, LIFE IS GOOD when you're at the beach!

Hot sandy beaches, warm water, gentle waves, and best of all... FRESH WATER (ie:  not salt water!).  Why anyone would drive to the east coast is now totally beyond me.  Years ago, Lake Erie was not a nice place.  It was polluted and stinky and gross.  Now, it is GLORIOUS!


If it seems like I've been away...

it's because, I'VE BEEN AWAY :)

I have so much blogging to catch-up on!  Overnights at Cook Forest, Lake Erie beach fun, Tost wedding, trips to Cleveland and best of all... an unplanned long visit with the Kasch family.

So, though I'm home, I don't have time to sift through photos and write witty recaps.  You see, there's a certain little girl visiting who really likes to give hugs:

That's right, hugging my pig-tailed Hazel is my niece, Annie!  We're having lots of fun playing...and hugging... and now I'm off to find some legal ground which will enable me to keep her ;)

One more photo for Junko:  who is at the lowest blood count he will ever have to deal with (probably) and is more than 1/2 way through his "stay" at the Cleveland Clinic!  The end is within reach, Dad!  Keep up the good work (water, walks, weary rest & WINNING)!
Hazel's backpack is loaded with 18 eggs... since she refuses to eat breakfast at her house.  Her Uncle Christoph, a trained chef, seems to make dippy eggs almost as good as her Junko...almost.


sweet and low :: light and shallow

Taking a break from the land of DEEP THOUGHTS (commence jokes), I live on a very strict budget.  I live gloriously within that budget, but  strict it is.  My wardrobe:  3 years old OR hand-me-downs from my fashionable Aunt.  My kids:  spoiled rotten by grandparents.  My house:  worth every imaginary penny, yet not quite practical (living on the same property as my parents and grandparents!).

So, I look for deals and though I don't coupon, I try to save money whenever possible.  Enter EBATES.

For anyone who already shops online, it is WAY worth a few minutes of your time to sign-up.  Shop at your favorite stores and earn a percentage back.  SO easy!  I just got my first check and was relieved that it's a seamless process:  Start on Ebates, choose the store, shop, check arrives in the mail.  No hoops or tricks to jump through!

Oh, and about that strict budget... sometimes I'm a bit impulsive and sometimes I buy things 'cause I really really want them.  So, I kinda sorta really need to earn a referral bonus and CYA (cover your "bum").  I need 9 more referrals (people who join through my link and spend at least $25).

So, IF you shop online anyway, how about it?

Spank you very much :)


culture shock :: cancer unit edition

My mom hit the nail on the head the other day when she described life post-diagnosis as CULTURE SHOCK.  One simple phone call and less than 24 hours later, you are thrust into a new, germ-free, sanitized planet.  On this planet, there is a new language, there is new food, there is terror, there is camaraderie, there is hope.

For the cancer patient (my dad), his culture shock is different and I am clueless about what his journey is like.  However, he is so tired, that I think/hope he spends most of his time in the land of dreams... punctuated by frequent disturbances and, you know, feeling sicker than a dog.

For the primary caregiver of a cancer patient (my mom) it's been a steep, mean & challenging learning curve.  Trying to wrap yourself around your emotions, trying to wrap your brain around a new language, trying to find your footing while sleeping in strange beds...  However, this week, week 3, it seems like my mom is shedding much of her culture shock.

She is making new friends (no one is surprised by that), she is praying, she is getting creative with how to fill her time between updates and chemo bags.  She is amazing...

Dad is on the finishing sprint of chemo, round 2.  His "BRING IT ON" mentality is strong, though his body is weak.

We each fall restlessly to sleep with numbers, percentages and imaginary cells floating in our dreams.  It's not a restful phase of life, but through it all, I'm finding such HOPE.  Such RESILIENCE.  Such COMPASSION.

Folks, we live in a very beautiful world filled with very BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE.

For example, take Allie.  She chose to conquer a bone marrow transplant despite being in remission.  When she walks the halls (more like sprints), it's like looking directly at a sunbeam.  Before she ever speaks, you will say "there is a Child of God".  I chatted with her and her husband for a few minutes before I had any clue which of them was the cancer patient and which of them elected to shave their head (it would have felt rude to follow the path of the IV tube).  Though we are the same age, I can say honestly that when I grow up, I want to be just like her:  faith personified, hope personified... and well, GORGEOUS!  Please read Allie's blog and join her in daily prayer.  No matter what, leukemia is NOT going to dim the light within that woman!

When dad was a new patient on the leukemia/bone marrow transplant floor, I felt like the family members who walked the halls looked hopelessly forlorn.  Tentatively meeting your gaze, but looking briskly away before your sorrow could land on their over-burdened shoulders.  I now see things in such a different light (though I'd bet a pretty penny that that's exactly how another young adult daughter felt the other day when I watched her walk the halls with her newly admitted father.  It was like looking into a mirror in which your eyes balance in a pool of tears that never spill.).

Yes, every story is heart breaking, but every story also holds so much HOPE, LOVE, and the PROMISE that the BEST IS YET TO COME!  Everyone on that floor lives in a constant awareness of the gift of life, the awesomeness of life.  I feel sure that all the world's problems would disappear if only everyone lived with that awareness and purpose.

Recently, a sober alcoholic who is near and dear to my heart, shared that he's the lucky one.  When he struggles with his disease, he mentally visits a cancer unit.  Like he said, "ANY of those people would be thrilled to hold the key to saving their own life!  Go to a meeting every evening and exhibit self-control.  DONE!"  Yes, the world would be a better place if we each spent time watching cancer patients fight for the chance to continue their earthly journey.

So, the oppressive sadness has lifted a tad, though I miss my non-sick father fiercely.  I want to laugh with him, explore the woods with him, learn from him.  Until then, I'll wade through this new culture in body and spirit.   I look with hope and excitement to the day when we can close the door to this exotic new culture and move forward with the awareness of what we learned.  I'll tell you one thing's for sure... this is one culture whom I won't look back on with nostalgia nor dream of walking it's streets again!


Rainbow Fish Cake (with SPRINKLES)

I think it's something about July birthdays... they aren't meant to be celebrated just once, but for a whole week... or MONTH!  (My sister, Happy Birthday TOMORROW!, is the MASTER of extending her birthday celebrations... I learned from da best.)

In that spirit, we celebrated Hazel's birthday a week early.  Last week she gave me two torn slips of papers. They were invitations, one for me and one for daddy, to go fishing for her birthday.  "Ah ha!", I thought,  "that is easily done and gets me off the hook for planning a big party with 'ALL my FRENNS' (friends)".  Also, for the past few MONTHS she's been planning her birthday cake:  "pink, purple, blue, orange... ALL DA COLORS and SPRINKLES!"

So, last Friday night, we packed the car for an overnight with my Aunt, Uncle & Cousin who have a cabin in Cooks Forest.  I'll share more pics another day.  There was swimming, kayaking, biking, marshmallows, dutch oven fiascos deliciousness, pancakes with SPRINKLES, wood fire oven PIZZAS, missing tent poles, giant catfish, fishing ponds, books &....


*puffing out chest*... WHAT DO YOU THINK?  I THINK I NAILED IT! *proud face*

Once again, I give all the credit to other awesomely creative folks who I found via Pinterest.  HERE was my inspiration for the rainbow cake and HERE was my inspiration for the fishing poles.

It was a little time consuming (because I only had one pan), but a lot of fun and DEFINITELY worth it!

Here's the nitty gritty.  (disclaimer: this isn't a cooking blog, so I'll just give an overview)

1.  Make the recipe on the back of the Pillsbury Softasilk Cake Flour box.
   *If I did it again, I'd make a double batch.  It'd be a really tall cake, but the layers would be thicker

2.  Divide the batter equally into 6 bowls.
3.  Color the rainbow using Betty Crocker Gel Food Coloring (play with your red, orange and purple  
     FOREVER until you decide to stop being a perfectionist)
4.  Bake each cake in a 9" pan (I used a spring form pan).  Grease and flour the pan each time!  Bake at  
     350 degrees for 10 min.  Set on cooling rack for 5 min.  Using a plastic or rubber knife, loosen from pan 
     and flip cake layer onto cooling rack.
5.  Let each layer cool for about 15 minutes (till cool to touch).  Then begin stacking with a layer of 
     strawberry jam in between.  Any filling will do, I just happened to have made my first batch of homemade   
     strawberry jam this week.  WHO AM I?

6.  I had to make this cake 2 days in advanced.  So, I decided to do a crumb coat to help seal in the    
     moisture.  It's basically just a watered down icing layer that glides on thinly and contains all your crumbs.  
     Mine ended up more like a glaze (a key lime glaze... 'cause I'm too fancy to have lemon juice.)

7.  Ice and cover with about 1/3- 1/2 cup of sprinkles!  Due to time constraints, I went with pre-made lemon    

8.  For the fishing poles, simply take bamboo skewers, wrap one end of thread around one end (wrap it at   
     least 5 times before knotting), wrap the other end around the head of a swedish fish, and ker-plunk your  
     stick into the cake!  I also tied a few gummy worms on for bait :)  YUM!

Everyone always says that you learn a lot about yourself through parenting.  It's true.  I never knew how much I would enjoy making special birthday cakes and decorations.  I have LOTS more rainbow fish plans for Hazel's birthday WEEK... stay tuned!

Until then, I'll be polishing off the rest of this edible masterpiece :)  (humility is not my strong point)