Freezer Clean Out

So today, I cleaned out and organized my fridge’s freezer. Since I started my master’s program, I needed to ensure I had ready meals when I went back to school in a month. With the rising food price, I am happy I have meat ready to go so I can feed my family.

I’ve had my food saver for almost a year but had never figured out how to use it. Now that I’ve finally mastered using it, I’m food-saving everything. My favorite gluten-free bakery had donuts this week. I got some and put them in the food saver for later. It will be nice to have some when my work has a donut day. I’ll be able to bring in my own and not feel left out.

When I went grocery shopping today, I discovered that some cheaper steak pieces were selling for $5.49 a pound. I could not pass that up. So I got them and then marinaded them. Hey, you won’t know the difference with a good marinade. (Just an FYI: I only used the first marinade on the steak.) My family is happy because they know we will have steak on the menu next week.

I bought 3 packages of steak. Marinaded them and then used the food saver on them. As I said, my family will have one of those packages next week. It’s nice to have that meat ready to go in the freezer.

Some of the other things I did besides marinade steak and freezing donuts is I took some chicken legs and marinaded them with a bottle of zesty Italian dressing. This will be another quick protein for my family. The package of chicken legs was 7 something, and the bottle of dressing was around $1.50. So for $4ish, I will have a protein for the meal.

I also organized my freezer to see what I had for future dinners. It’ll be easier to meal plan knowing what I have in the freezer. Next up will be the pantry. But that will be for another day. Maybe when I need to step away from my studying.

So what did you do today?

March 12, 2020

2 years ago, it was a typical Thursday. It was the last day of the quarter. The next day was supposed to be a teacher’s workday. Spring break was in 2 weeks.

Right before car rider duty, I get word that schools were going to be closed to flatten the curve. I can remember it was a beautiful day outside.

The next day, we came in for the teacher’s workday. Meetings were scheduled to address how we were going to teach the students while they were at home. Some parents opted to do it on the computer while others opted to do it on paper and pencil. Packets were made. I can even remember which drawer I placed them in so I could help give them to the students I serviced.

Monday was a day I will never forget. A few students came in for their last day. For some, it would be 7 or 11 months until they entered a school building for others it was going to be almost a year and a half.

Parents were coming in to get supplies or the paper packets. No one knew what was going to happen next.

The school district I teach in had already had its world turned upside down when the tornado ripped through that previous May. In less than a year, more trauma was created in those young lives.

I was dealing with my own trauma at the same time. I had just lost my mom 5 months prior. As I was beginning to feel some sort of healing, my life was flipped upside down.

So when you say it’s been 2 years, for me it’s been much longer since my life was “normal.”

Oh, and I may have had Covid that February before the shutdown. I remember being gone for over a week and when I came back one of my students said to me, “Did you have the coronavirus?”

My reply was “no,” as I continued to have coughing attacks until the shutdown.

Jigsaw Pieces

“So many things are possible, just as long as you don’t know Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,hey are impossible.”

–Philippians 3:13

Paul gives the directive to forget the past. We need to look forward to the future. Which is true.

Sometimes our past is the key to our future. We need to look back for one reason. I’ll explain the reason later in this post.

On July 14, 1985, I left behind my past. A difficult past. My future was bright. After I got off of the bus in Ohio, it was as though a large black-out curtain had been drawn across my childhood. A few bad memories have escaped. For the past 37 years, I have wondered what my life was before we left.

My mom NEVER talked about my childhood with me. I didn’t know how to approach her with my inquiries. Photos of that were time were few and far between. They were hidden in plain sight but never looked at. Fearful that she would say no, I snuck looking at the photos. I wanted to know who I was before moving to Ohio.

There are lessons to learn from your past. Even if it was traumatic, you can still use those lessons of perseverance. Maybe they won’t only help you but they will help other people. It’s a reminder that nothing lasts forever and that you’ve grown stronger as a person.

Not having those memories makes it hard to learn from your past. The memories I was left with are of my father hiring me and a few scattered puzzle piece memories. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that have been easily lost. That’s what happened to my memories.

A spooky door, a hill to climb, and a penny store are a few of those pieces. Light switches on the outside, cigarettes, and screaming are the ones I wish I could scatter.

On October 12, 2019, my life changed once again. I was left orphaned as an adult. Father died in 1996 even though we had left him in 1985. My sister died in 2016. Now my mom was gone.

It was at that moment, I needed to pick up the jigsaw memories and continue with my life. Two weeks before she died, God spoke to me and said, “It’s time to tell your story.” I balked at him. Then I wrote my unpublished book but still kept it quiet. “No one needs to hear my story,” I kept saying to myself. Last week, I made little videos telling my story. God smiled at me because I listened to him. It’s up to me to decide what to do with those videos.

Then 2 days later, a classmate of mine from the school I attended right before we moved contacted me. I couldn’t believe the fact that she remembered me from 37 years ago.

A few questions of mine were answered. Then she gave me the biggest gift, I was told I have the same warm smile and how I tutored her. You see I was destined to be a teacher even back then. I was NOT forgotten when we up and left that den of despair. The pieces are falling back into place. My shoulders don’t feel so heavy.

I’m not wanting to live in the past. I’m desiring the lessons my past can teach me as I continue to discover God’s purpose for my life.

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci

I am Dayton Strong

The morning after Memorial Day, I’m outside chasing my dog at 4 o’clock in the morning. The sky is full of stars and the air is perfectly still. I breathed a sigh of relief because I made it through the holiday without any major incidents.

Then the news comes in that morning about George Floyd and his murder by the police officers. Protests begin to erupt throughout the United States and the world.

The year before, our communities of all races, nationalities, genders, and sexualities came together to lift each other up. Now a year later, the city that had celebrated unity now could have been torn apart.

         As I heard the news that weekend, I heard that one of my favorite historical buildings had been vandalized during the peaceful protest that ended with rioting.

         I cried out, “No, not the Victoria Theater”

         There had been another protest of sorts in my town the year prior. The KKK had been allowed to hold a gathering in the downtown area just down from that Victoria Theater. People came to protest them being allowed to hold an annual meeting in our town. Fortunately, nothing had been destroyed during that protest. The city had come together united.

         Two days later, our city was hit by a tragedy that could have broken us apart just like the KKK meeting.

         On the night of Memorial Day 2019, the dark sky full of stars was expansive. There was a stillness in the air which was sort of like a foreshadowing. I was outside with my oldest, Nick. We walked around the yard letting the soft freshly rained grass tickle our toes with our words floating in the air because he was trusting me with his teenage secrets.

         We were laughing because we in the middle of a tornado watch. In our part of Ohio, it was common for us not to take those tornado watches seriously.

         After some time outside, we went in to get ready for bed before our last days of school. Anticipation of summer lingered in our good nights.

         Even though I had gone to bed, the thought of the tornado watch hung over my head like a bee trying to find a flower to land on. I kept scrolling Facebook to see status updates from my local friends and meteorologists. Suddenly the words, “I think a tornado just went over my house. The are police surrounding it looking for damage,” jolted me out of bed. No longer tired, my adrenaline was heightened. I began to pray. Worry filled my thoughts.

         Then I saw the words “Tornado hit Trotwood!”

         I bolted out of bed like I was suddenly shocked by an electrical shock screaming, “The sh- – just got real.” Tears flowing down my face. Breathing was hard at that moment.

         As I gathered everyone for us to head to the bathroom, there was a sense of urgency in both my voice and actions. “NOW! Move it! Let’s GO!” could be heard throughout our tiny ranch house.

         My husband, Todd, refused to budge from the living room. His stubborn self was skeptical about there being an actual tornado even after me yelling about a tornado hitting Trotwood. He wanted to see it on the Weather Channel before he believed it. Finally, after getting confirmation, he reluctantly headed to the bathroom

         Our walk-in closet sized bathroom barely fit all four of us plus our almost 15-year-old dog. Will, my youngest, took one wall while holding the dog. Nick sat in the bathtub with his swim trunks on. Todd sat on the toilet. My back was to the bathroom door. There was no room for anyone to move around as we played the waiting game.

         We heard the wind beginning to pick up outside. It was a ghost howling in the darkness. After a few moments, the hail began to hit our house. The pinging of tennis balls being hit at a gym wall unsettled us. While the rest of the family relied on sound to know what was going on outside, I felt the force of the wind and the hail since I was against the bathroom door.

         As quickly as it had started, it soon was silent outside.

         In the silence, my phone began to beep. People were texting me letting me know they were either okay or were praying for me. We were not alone in that bathroom. God was with us.

         Minutes that felt like hours in that tiny bathroom. Every time we thought it would be safe, another ding would go off on all our phones. Tornado watch extended for another half hour. More waiting and worrying.

         Then we were given all clear. Our adrenaline was sky high at that point, but it was after midnight and we needed our sleep because we didn’t know what was waiting for us the next day.

         Sleep evaded me that night. I would cat nap for a little while and then would wake up remembering what had happened earlier that night. At 3 o’clock in the morning, I decided to take a walk around the yard.  There was a calm in the air. No indication of the damage Mother Nature had caused a few hours prior. As I breathed in the sweet summer air, a sense of peace filled my heart because I was alive and safe.

         Our communities came together during the days and weeks that followed the tornado. People from all over came to help remove all the debris and tree limbs, feed the volunteers and victims, and to provide food and clothing to those who lost a little or all. All races, nationalities, sexualities, and genders came together to help each other.

         Now 52 weeks later, our Memorial Day is marred by another tragedy. I’m left to wonder again is Dayton going to come together like we did the year prior or are we going to be fractured?       

         Then I remember that I’m Dayton Strong. In the last 52 weeks, we’ve had a KKK meeting, the 15 tornadoes ripping through our area, a mass shooting, Covid-19 and now the Black Lives Matter protests. We will come out of this stronger and a more united community. I am Dayton Strong. My city has taught me to be resilient.

No More Silence

This is not a new feeling that I’m experiencing right now. Over the last few days, there has been unrest in the United States over the heinous injustice to George Floyd. Unfortunately it’s not an isolated incident. It’s an ongoing battle where the blacks rightly so feel injustice from whites.

As a white middle aged woman, I have had the privilege to grow up and adult without having people judge me and treat me as less of a person because of the color of my skin. It’s not to say my life has not been hard and I’ve had to struggle. The color of my skin was not the reason for my struggle.

I was a junior in high school when the LA Riots occurred. Far removed and actually quite sick with mono at the time they occurred, I didn’t realize the significance of the riots. Did I agree with people rioting and causing property damage? No, but people need to speak up and use their voices. I said use their voices not cause property damage. As my 16-year-old says, they are only hurting their area and it’s going to cause corporations to come in and take over.

I was born after the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s being a child of the 70s. I didn’t know the unrest of that time. I remember learning about the political changes of the 60s in a history class ironically named the 60s. People stood up and used their voices against the unjust treatment of black people.

Little did I know that less than 10 years after that class, I would be given the opportunity and privilege to teach in a school where I’m the minority. The majority of my students who I call my children are African Americans. I’m scared for them.

Twenty years into the game, I’m saddened by the continous treatment of the black population. People are scared for their lives just because of the color of their skin. Why? African Americans are human. They bleed just like everyone on this earth. They breathe just like everyone on this earth. They dream just like everyone on this earth.

Some of the best people I know are African American. They are beautiful, talented, Godly, and the most giving people I’ve ever met. My life has been blessed by having them in my life.

I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that we need to love our neighbors as ourselves.

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Black lives matter. They shouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin. God does not discriminate. He made all of us out of his image. We are all precious in his sight.

We need to use our voices. We need to come together as an united front to combat the evil that is among us.

I won’t be at the protests, but I will use my voice to let people know that what we are doing is evil and will not accepted.

Traci

#blacklivesmatter

#loveyourneighbor

#prayforwisdomandguidance

An Ode to My Grandpa

I’ve been de-cluttering my house.  While I was cleaning up, I found many photos of family and friends.

One of the photos I found was of my grandpa in his favorite chair.

1.  The mug probably had coffee in it.

2.  Near the coffee mug is a white dish.  That is his ashtray for his pipe.  The smell of pipe tobacco reminds me of him.

3.  He probably had a Reader’s Digest somewhere near his pile of books.  He loved the Word Power section of the Reader’s Digest.

4.  There was chocolate hidden near his chair. Grandpa enjoyed his chocolate and sweets.

5.  The photo looks like it was taken in the winter.  During the spring and summer, Grandpa would look out the window to watch the birds that flew to their bird feeder.

6.  The dog on his lap is Dusty.  We got her when I was 11 years old.  The other dog was Dallas.  Dallas died a few months after Grandpa’s death.

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I love and miss this man everyday.  Thanks for being a hero to me. 

Have a magical day,
Traci

My Kitchen Reorganization

As I mentioned in my June 3 – Monday Menu Monday post, my aunt came into town.  While she was here, she helped me reorganize my kitchen.

I did not take photos of my kitchen before she organized my pantry / kitchen.  So, these are only after shots.

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Previously, there were two plastic 3 tier shelf.  We reduced it to one 3 tier metal shelf.  The other 3 tier shelf was located where the Sprites are located.  It made the pantry space be very tight.  The pantry is also our laundry room, so it was hard for us to get clothes in and out of the washer and dryer.

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When we moved in, Hubby installed these shelves.  We made one the grains and broth shelf.  Another one is the pasta and other convenience shelf.  A third is the Thanksgiving/ holiday shelf.  The items on that shelf are only used during the holidays or for big family dinners.  Finally, one of shelves is for some of the bigger items and my bread machine.

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On the left-hand side of the photo, you see a wooden piece.  That is our set of cabinets for all plastic ware and cleaning supplies.

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This corner cabinet holds all my baking supplies and some of my smaller appliances.

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We had a white cabinet located in this spot.  My mom decided to get us a new cabinet.  This is our breakfast/ snacky foods pantry.  The boys can quickly get them food when they are hungry.  Teenagers are ALWAYS hungry.

 

We also cleaned out the fridge, freezer, and chest freezer.  The baking pan area was cleared out.

I reorganized the coffee and tea cabinet, the former spice cabinet that is now the sauce cabinet, and the miscellaneous cabinet.

The dish cabinet was freshened up.  Around Thanksgiving, I reorganized the dish cabinet.  It has pretty much stayed the same except for a few stray dishes.

Above our cabinets is an area where we can store some of our memorabilia.  We pulled all the memorabilia down, washed them and the area, and decided which items we wanted to go back up above the cabinet.

I must go through the cabinet with all the cups and mugs, decide what to do with our plastic ware, and get a 4-tier wire shelf for our bigger appliances that we use on a daily/ weekly basis.  We are also going to repaint the kitchen.

Once all of that is done, we’ll be done reorganizing the kitchen.

Have a magical day!
Traci

 

Vegetarian Diet

As you know, I’ve been on a primarily gluten free diet.  Actually I was eating gluten free from June until a week after my gallbladder surgery.  I’ve only had a few foods that have had gluten in them – a small piece of pretzel, half of a Hawaiian roll, and some of a tortilla.

This week I read about people who have a gluten sensitivity – not Celiac – should try sprouted wheat bread instead of just gluten free bread.  I’m going to try eating some sprouted wheat bread to see if it bothers me or not.

Anyway this post is not about my gluten free diet.  It’s about the fact I’ve been eating a vegetarian diet for the past month.  On the 12th of February, I had some delicious sausage.  The sausage made my gallbladder mad so I had another attack.  On the 14th of February, I decided that I needed to go meat free.  My last taste of any meat was on the 13th of February.

I could take and leave meat at times.  Sure there are times that I miss the convenience of eating meat especially when I am out and about.  I don’t really think I miss the meat.  Just the convenience of being able to get something quick to eat.

Until you begin eating vegetarian/ vegan do you realize how much of the standard American diet relies on meat?  There are so many more choices.

For example, Hubby was looking at restaurants in Louisville because we are going there in 10 days.  He told me a restaurant had a vegetarian choice.  So what was it?  Fried green tomatoes – I’m like that is a NOPE.  Number 1:  It might have a breading which means gluten.  And Number 2:  I’m not a big tomato eater so that won’t work.

Then yesterday he tried to tell me that I could eat the rest of his beef lo mein.  I used to love shrimp or chicken lo mein before I went gluten free.  I have not had Chinese from a Chinese restaurant since February 2017.  He told me that I could just pick the meat out of the dish.  Again I am like NOPE.

So what do I eat?  Well, I am a work at progress with my food.  Sometimes I eat healthy and then there are times that are not so healthy.  Because just like with the Standard American diet not everything that is available to a vegetarian is healthy.  There is a such thing as vegetarian junk food.  I love to get a pizza from Mod Pizza or Rapid fire and load it up with all kinds of veggies but that is junk food.

So join me on this journey I am taking with my eating.  I have linked up my Instagram on the right sidebar.  When I have eaten something healthy, I will share it on Instagram.  I will also share the not so healthy foods that I am eating.

The one benefit from eating this vegetarian diet is that I am losing weight.  I was losing it prior to my illness.  Since my surgery, I have lost 7 pounds for a total of 36 pounds lost since February 2017!

Happy eating,
Traci

My Favorite P!nk Songs Part 2 (The Truth About Love Album)

P!nk’s last two albums are my favorite of hers. I have so many songs that I can listen to on repeat.

“Are We All We Are” is just a fun song to listen to in the car. When the song begins to play, you can’t help but to sing along with her.

“Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” is another fun song of hers.

The video and message from “Try” leaves me breathless. “You’ve got to get up and try, try, try.” Don’t give up on your dreams.

After Tanya died, I would drive my car and cry to this song. I wish I beam up and see her just one last time. Whenever I hear this song, I just start to tear up. Instead of a blackbird, I saw a Monarch butterfly. That is why I now I have a Monarch butterfly tattoo.

Another song “The Great Escape” reminds me of Tanya. There are times I wish I did not allow her escape to her pain. Life was hard for her.
After her death, people tried to smooth over my pain. They did not understand the pain I was feeling. The pain I still feel when I think about my sister.

“Just Give Me a Reason” is so beautiful.

“True Love”

RIP Mr. Gally – Part 2

On February 24th, I had my gallbladder surgery 6 days prior to when I had it scheduled. I’m documenting my time in the hospital. Today I am talking about my surgery and the stay afterwards.

Once I got up to 2 North, the aide who drove my bed to my room, tied my gown for me since the ER nurse never did that for me.  I was checked in to the room, vitals were taken, and questions were answered.

I finally was able to get some sleep after being awake for 23 hours.

3 and ½ hours later, I was woken up by one of the nurses I believe or room service.  I was a little out of it.  Both showed at about the same time, so I don’t know which one woke me up.

Anyway, I ordered my breakfast.  I know I was out of it but did the best I could when ordering the meal.

The Surgery

The room service young lady was back about a half an hour later and told me that I was not supposed to have any food or liquid because my stomach needed to be empty.  I was confused so she got the nurse.  The nurse had just been told that I might be able to have the surgery that day instead of on Sunday.  She was waiting for confirmation.

Since I couldn’t eat and nothing to do but wait, I decided to do my sub plans.  I was almost done with my schedule when all the sudden an aide came into my room.  He was ready to transfer me to the surgery.  The surgery was going to occur within the next hour.  They needed to get me prepped for the surgery.

I had to call Hubby to tell him to get his butt down to the hospital.  The phone call woke him.

Then I had to call my mother-in-law, so she could take care of the boys for us.

Since I did not have any more time, I made a post on Facebook telling everyone that I was going into surgery, so I could have prayer or good thoughts.

I was wheeled down to surgery area.  The aide was excellent because he talked to me the whole way down so that I wouldn’t be scared.

Once I got down there, it was a matter of them asking me questions some of them repetitive by multiple medical personnel.  They needed to make sure I didn’t have any jewelry, dentures, etc.… that could be lost or cause problems during the surgery.

I also spoke to the anesthesiologist and one of his assistants.   They needed to make sure I was aware of the risks of the anesthesia.

One of the gentleman who was going to be helping with my surgery lives in the same town as me.  He does not live that far from where I do.

Finally, the surgeon came and told me about the procedure that was going to be done.  After she talked to me, she prepped for the surgery.  While I was waiting I got to watch two medical personnel bring in a portable x-ray machine and attempt to give another patient an x-ray.  (I did not see the patient just the machine and the gentleman.)  I also watched the clock in the middle of the room.

I was wheeled into the operating room.  All I can remember is how cold it was in the room, being rolled onto the operating table, my name being said, and then it was lights out for me.

I woke back up where I started the surgery.  They needed to make sure I woke up from the anesthesia.

After a little while in that room, I was wheeled back to my room where Hubby was waiting for me.

The gentleman who lived in the same town as I was the one who wheeled me back, so he and Hubby spoke for a few minutes about the town.

The Rest of Saturday

As I said, I wheeled back to my room.  Hubby stayed for a while and then left so I could get some rest.

I was in a lot of pain, so a lot of medication was necessary.

The plan was for me to go home that evening.  Since my pain was not manageable by Saturday evening, it was decided that I would spend the night.

I had to call my mother-in-law, so she could make sure to get the boys to Sunday school the next day.  Hubby was also called so he could bring me a much better pillow than the one I had in the hospital.

Once he came, I finally got up to go to the restroom, something I had not done since my surgery.  We also took a lap around the floor.  It hurt my abdomen, so I only took one lap.  Otherwise I would have taken more laps.

He stayed for an hour or so and then left so I could get some rest.  Oh, and he made sure I had my Gatorade before he left.

The Rest of My Stay

The rest of my stay was not very exciting.  I slept, attempted to eat, finished my sub schedule, and texted friends and family.

On Sunday morning, I met with the surgeon.  She told me that my gallbladder had an infection when it was taken out of my body.  It was a good thing I had the surgery on Saturday instead of later in the week.

Finally, I was discharged from the hospital.  I was wheeled to my car where I put the seat back as far as I could, so I could lay down while riding home.  We got home 2 minutes before the boys did from church.

Kisses were given and asking me how I was doing before then ran off into their rooms.  Teenagers and almost teenagers.

The happiest member of my family was our dog.  According to Hubby, he walked up and down the hallway looking for me.  He stays close to me when I’m in the living room and follows me to the restroom to make sure I am okay.

Thanks for reading about my hospital stay. We really appreciated the nursing staff in 2 North.  They were really helpful especially since my IV pole kept going off.  I had to call them 10 to 20 times because it stopped beeping.  It was because of where my IV was located.  If I bent my arm a certain way, it caused a kink in the IV line.

 

 

 

 

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