July 05, 2014

Why I've Been Gone

I haven't blogged for months and I owe everyone an explanation.

I have been focusing on feeding hungry children in my community.  I am the Director of our local Summer Lunch program which feeds children throughout the summer.  We are focusing on those children who receive free and reduced lunches throughout the school year and go hungry during the summer.

This has consumed all of my time since February.  I supervise over 140 volunteers, make up the menus, buy the food, keep an ongoing inventory and take care of all of the bookkeeping.  So, this is why I haven't been blogging.

I have found my passion in serving the children of our community.  The program that we are going through to provide the food is the USDA Summer Lunch Program.  We must comply with their guidelines for a healthy meal for the children in order to receive reimbursement from them.  We have focused on feeding them lunch and our lunches consist of milk, whole grain breads, lean "whole muscle" meats such as turkey breast, non-processed cheeses such as provolone and cojack and fresh fruits and veggies.

An example of a lunch menu would be a turkey/cojack cheese sandwich using Sara Lee whole grain white bread, milk, fruit salad of watermelon, strawberries and sliced grapes; and for a veggie - a tray of fresh green beans, sweet pepper strips, carrots, cucumber strips and grape tomatoes.

Many children have never seen the fruits and veggies we are serving and someone questioned the cheese - why it wasn't wrapped in plastic.

The program ends August 15th which is the Friday before school begins in our area.  Then I will be back to focusing on my home and blogging.  I have been going to bed at midnight and getting up at 6:00 a.m. for the past several months in the planning process, fundraising for start up costs and handling all of the paperwork and documents necessary to run a food service program.

So, that is what I have been doing and I will be happy when I can go back to focusing on my home.  My husband and I are empty nesters and he has gladly put up with quick dinners, an untidy home and doing his own laundry and clean up.  It has been well worth the messiness of my home in order to feed children who would go hungry during the summer.

February 04, 2014

Update on Diaper Rash

Ryan's diaper rash is gone.  It's nice to see pretty white, pinkish normal skin on his bottom.  My DIL took Ryan to the doctor and he prescribed a prescription cream for his bottom.  It did appear that he had a yeast infection.  Ryan had the "perfect storm" that led to his rash:  ear infection; prescription for an antibiotic to treat the ear infection; and he was cutting teeth.

After applying the prescription cream twice a day, we saw a difference within a day.  However we still had to deal with the rash hurting him when we were cleaning him up after he soiled his diapers.  The other problem was that he had horrible runny diapers.  His bottom was still raw and yet we had to get it clean so it would clear up.  I continued to use soft flannel homemade wipes on his bottom and then I applied Vaseline all over his bottom and genital area.  He screamed and cried and then when I was done, I stood him up and he hugged me and put his head on my shoulder.  I had a lot of tears last week.

Since he was already getting a prescription cream in the morning and the afternoon we decided that it was best to go conservative throughout the day and just use Vaseline.

Well the rash cleared up by the second day and when he was at my house yesterday I had one happy little boy.  He had been sick and then he had the pain of the rash and cutting of the teeth so he hadn't been himself for a long time.  Ryan spent the whole day happy.  He smiled, he played, he giggled and he was feeling so good.  I had a few errands to run and he waived and smiled at people.

We had a great day and it was one of those days that you treasure.

Thanks for all the advice on the rash.  Many of these ideas I will be using on him in the future.

February 02, 2014

SNAP menu - Working on it.

When I took up the challenge of coming up with food choices or menus for living on a food stamp budget, I struggled with where to begin.  The reason:  I probably know more about making things from scratch and stretching a food dollar than a lot of people.  Why?  Because I took the real Home Economics class in the early 1970's where the first thing we learned to make was muffins from scratch.

What else did I learn from the good ole Home Ec class?  Sewing, cooking from scratch, cleaning and generally an economical way to run a home.  This kind of training went out the door as women went to work in order to help support their families and they needed faster tools for doing things:  i.e. processed foods.

Getting back to my own food stamp challenge, I have decided to do two options.  One for me and with my knowledge of stretching a food budget and one with someone who has not had the same background and training and uses convenience and processed foods.

With a $50 budget ($25 per person in my family) I will use that money to purchase what a person with my knowledge could make into menus.  Since going on a SNAP budget means that we will probably have had hard times and I will have used up most of the items in my cupboard, I will be making up my grocery list with hardly any food at home in my pantry.

Plan B will be using convenience foods to fill the menus for a person who doesn't cook much and doesn't have the same cooking schools that I have.

For both plans I may add an option of getting a small amount of items (i.e. a few cans) from a food bank.

When the food ads come out, I will be using the ad for this week to make up the menus. In fact I may do these budgets for a couple of weeks using the successive food ads.

This was my stumbling block in getting this challenge done.  I was struggling with the "Rules" of the challenge.  Doing this challenge with a Plan A and a Plan B is just the ticket for my getting this research done.

Let's Hear a Yea for Menopause!

I made a promise to myself last fall and that is that January and February were going to be wonderful months for me.  Why?  The last 3 Januarys and Februarys have been horrible for me.  They were filled with depression and anxiety and I found myself spiraling downward each year.  This year was going to be different and it has.

I continue with the drug therapy that I have been on since last April.  Lexapro has been a wonderful drug therapy for me.  It works and best of all it works for me in small doses.  I do experience some anxiety but it is what I call "normal" anxiety.  Normal anxiety to me is the anxiety you feel when you are going to be late for an appointment.  Abnormal anxiety for me was having anxiety caused by a small thing such as our dog barking a little and then it would go from 1 to 10 in seconds leading me to full blown panic attacks.  

Along with the drug therapy I am careful as to what I eat and I get sleep and exercise.  AND I am now into full blown menopause.  Now that I have gone through 1 year without a menses I can now say I made it through to the other side and being in menopause is not so bad.  In fact, it is a blessing!  I don't have to buy tampons or pads anymore or experience cramps and that monthly yuck feeling.

I used to think of menopause as being something an old lady gets.  I don't consider myself as being old at 54.   However, I must say that 54 was old to me when I was in my 20's.  What it all comes down to is am I happy or not?  If I am happy it shows in the way I take care of myself and this reflects in my general health and well being.

I am not the same 50 year old woman that my mom was some 30 years ago.  I work out, I watch what I eat and I am getting involved in volunteer activities in my church and community.  I don't dress like my mom either and I don't dress like a teenager too.  Yep being 50 is not like being your mom's 50.  It is what you make of it and I love it.

If I have a hot flash every now and then, I can deal with it.  In fact, it has been kind of nice to have a hot flash with all of the cold weather we have been having, but I am sure come summer it might not be so nice.

I started my period at the age of 11 and ended it at the age of 53.  That is 42 years of dealing with PMS, cramps and buying tampons.  I'm glad it's over and I'm ready to move on.  

Cleaning my Area Rug - 1 Year Later

It has been more than a year since I cleaned my area rugs as posted in this article.  These rugs never smelled from the ammonia of the pet urine since I cleaned them.  I'm so pleased.

I didn't get around to doing it last summer but beginning this summer I am going to take all of my large area rugs and simply wash them outside with cold water from the hose.  The plan is to use no soap of any kind and simply "rinse" the dirt away.  Then it will take a few days for them to dry hanging over the deck rail.  Note to self:  check the weather forecast before I do this.

Water does the job quite well and is better for the fibers of the rug and for our health also  It just goes to show that sometimes a conservative way of cleaning is much better than using a lot of chemicals.  I had to use the store bought cleaner to get the urine smell out, but from now on it is going to be water.

January 29, 2014

Dealing with a Grandson's Diaper Rash

My little grandson fell asleep a few minutes ago, so I thought I would steal some time away to write a post.

I am caring for my grandson today and he has a horrible diaper rash.  He is cutting teeth and recently had an ear infection.  His parents have him in disposable diapers.  Today I took the big risk of letting him run around diaper free to get air to the infected area.  (He is 11 months old and started walking 3 weeks ago.)  He liked it so much that I hope that he doesn't think that this will be the normal routine at Grandma's house.

I have taken some flannel fabric and fashioned little diapers to keep on him.  They are loose so fresh air can get to his sore bottom.  This has only helped a little and while we have been putting a good quality and highly recommended diaper cream on his back side, it isn't getting much better.  So Ryan is going to the doctor today and hopefully the doctor will prescribe a prescription diaper cream.

My grandson, Ryan, is my only grandchild and he is the son of my eldest son, Mike.  When Mike was around the same age he developed a horrible diaper rash.  Caring for Ryan has brought all of that back to me.  It is hard to clean the infected rash as it is very painful for a baby.  I have taken pieces of flannel and soaked them in warm water with a little soap and carefully cleaned Ryan.  It is still painful, but not as harsh as baby wipes.  Even the alcohol free wipes bothered him.   Try and get a diaper clean while the child is screaming because of the pain and it will bring tears to your eyes.

I have put him in a warm water bath, but he won't sit down so I let him stand while I drizzle warm soap water over his butt and genitals.  Even still, he cries from the pain.  Then I pick him up, wrap him in a towel and let him rest on my lap.  By the time I smear him with the diaper cream and a fresh diaper, he is exhausted and so am I.  He rests his head on my shoulder and I rock him until he is ready to get down.

Rocking him brought to mind the old hymns of the church that I grew up knowing.  I have sung to him "What a Friend we Have in Jesus,"  "Trust and Obey" and "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."

It is a labor of love to care for him and I am especially thankful that I can give him the extra care and attention that he needs at this time in order to conquer the rash.

This is what it is all about.  I thought I would only care for him 2 times a week, before he was born.  Then I cared for him 4 days a week and now 3 days a week.  My daughter in law has found a wonderful babysitter for Ryan to go to 2 days a week, so I can get a break and so Ryan can interact with other children.

The sad part about Ryan being sick is that my daughter in law's mother died in July last year.  She was in her 50's and she had a long struggle with cancer.  I try very hard to help out all I can with Ryan and I also try hard not to butt in.  It is a balance.  But I can't help but think that when Ryan is sick that my daughter in law wishes that she had her mother to call on for advice.  It always makes me sad to think that she lost her mom shortly after Ryan was born.

 My goal is to pick up the slack, be respectful and not offer advice when she doesn't need it and be there when she asks for it.  It is a balance.

When Ryan's other grandmother was in hospice I promised her that every time I kissed little Ryan that I would always give him two kisses, 1 from me and 1 from her.  I also promised her that I would always tell him about her and that he would always grow up hearing from me about his Grandma Carol.

January 19, 2014

Stretching Dishwasher Detergent

I have a dishwasher.  I didn’t grow up with a dishwasher nor air conditioning but I find it kind of funny how my parents got both after I was grown and married.   Maybe it was because my sister and I helped with the dishes and air conditioning was something that most people in our community didn’t have when I was growing up.

I do love my dishwasher for one reason – it tidies up the kitchen pretty quick.  I may have a lot of dishes to clean, but putting them in the dishwasher gets them off the counter and out of the sink and makes the kitchen look better.  However, if a dishwasher didn’t’ come with the house, I probably wouldn’t own one.    

Dishwasher detergent can get pretty expensive.  I tried store brands and I tried the homemade recipes.  The store brands worked fine  but was still kind of pricey.  The homemade recipes made my dishes look cloudy and this version didn’t clean them as well.

My solution:  combining the name brand with the homemade version.  About every 6 weeks Cascade or another name brand dishwasher detergent goes on sale for $3.99 for a 75 oz. box of powder or 75 oz. bottle of the gel version.   I usually have a coupon that I can use.  I can get the store brand for about $3.00 for the same amount.  I have been mixing the name brand with the store brand to extend it, but lately I have been mixing a homemade version with the store brand or name brand and I like it much better.   

Here is my version of Dishwasher Detergent

1 - 75 oz. box of Dishwasher Detergent (Name brand or store brand, whatever you prefer)
1 cup salt
2 cups of Borax
2 cups of Baking Soda

Mix the above ingredients together and keep in an airtight container.  I use an old ice cream bucket or you could use two old plastic coffee containers. 

I am a believer in finding the least amount of product to get the same results as using the recommended amount.   I use 1 tablespoon of this mixture in my dishwasher and I use white vinegar as a rinse agent.

I have seen a recipe on the internet that includes the salt, borax and baking soda along with a cup of “Lemi Shine.”  The problem is that the Lemi Shine is over $3.00 for a small container so I felt it wasn’t worth the price.  The cost would exceed the reason for making my own homemade version of dishwasher detergent.

Once a month I run a cup of bleach through the dishwasher WITHOUT any dishes in it to clean it out.  I also take a old toothbrush to clean out the dirt and grime that can accumulate between the door and the seal of the dishwasher.  Baking soda and the toothbrush works really great.

The result:  a cheap version of dishwasher detergent that does a great job of cleaning my dishes and keeping them spot free AND an equally cheap version of dishwasher cleaner.