School Nurse Stories, My Messy Beautiful

Taking a break from cooking to bring you this. Me and my little blog are heading over to Glennon Melton's  Momastery to be a part of her Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project. To learn more about us click HERE , and to learn more about the New York Times Best Selling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, click Here

I'm a school nurse. Yes, the person who calls to tell you that your child fell off the monkey bars, bit another student, has a fever, or GOD FORBID, lice.

Yeah, we know all sorts of crazy happens after that phone call.

I approach any phone call home with more than a little trepidation. It doesn't matter the reason for my call, the response is always the same. I introduce myself. There is a brief moment of silence followed by a sharp intake of breath, and then you, slightly panicked, trying to play it cool: OHMYGOODNESSWHATHAPPENED!

Take it easy Tiger; maybe I'm just calling to get your cupcake recipe from the bake sale. Do we always have to assume the worst?

This is one of my favorites. I'm really fond of my long slender neck and slightly startled look.

As part of my job I get asked a lot of questions and I hear a lot of stories.
Questions.
And stories.
From YOUR children.

Lets just take a moment to ponder that.

Those characters of yours tell some whoppers that make me laugh until I need my inhaler.

As evidence, I present to you these little gems:

Student: Mrs. Donahue my mom asked me to tell all my teachers about my new diagnosis. I let them know that I have Leprosy.
Me: That's great! I'm proud of you for being so responsible! (I then spent the afternoon making urgent phone calls notifying his teachers that he had Epilepsy and not Leprosy. Worrisome yes, but you know, on a different level)

"Mrs. Donahue, I just violated myself in the bathroom." (After further questioning it was determined  he had only vomited, but kudos for putting that new English vocab word to use)

"Do you think I might have Parkinson's?" (No, I think you drank too much coffee.)

Student: I'm pretty sure I have Fattigoo.
Me: Hmmm. Can you spell that for me?
Student: f-a-t-i-g-u-e

"We just studied sexually transmitted diseases in class. Do you have any tranquilizers?" (Oh little lamb, lets call mom)

"Are you sure I'm not dying?" (Metaphysically or right now from a disease?)

"Mrs. Donahue, I think the carbuncle on my buttock popped." (I have no response for this.)

"Can you look to see if I have a tapeworm?" (No.) (Hell no.)

Do you see what I'm working with?

I call this one Rainbows and Ice Cream Cone, or Rainbows and Baby Jesus in a Manger from my heart to yours. I also adore that she spelled her name wrong and that there are googly eyes. The world would be a better place with more googly eyes.

But, its a two way street. I also have to ask a lot of questions and get the story behind what is going on. A carbuncle you say?  Tell me all about it. What exactly do you mean by "popped?" Like, running down your leg leakage or sticking to your underwear leakage?
Gather information, get the story, and make a plan. Don't roll your eyes, snicker, or gag. And NEVER looked surprised.
That's my job in a nutshell.

Over the years I have found two questions that are key to my job. What do you need, and tell me your story. What do you need right now? What do you need to get through class? What do you need to make it through today?

Sometimes though I need to close the door, silence my phone; sit down and say, "Tell me your story." I need to hear the story behind the stomachaches. I need to hear why you attended three different schools this year. Sometimes, sometimes I can only help after I have heard the story. Because at times the most appropriate treatment is not a Band-Aid or Tylenol. It is being heard. Sometime the healing can't start until the story is told.

And so I found myself the other day, sitting across the table from a very young mother and father. They were frightened. They were ashamed. They felt judged. They were crying deep ugly sobs. Their children had been removed from their home. They didn't know what would happen next.

I had worked with this young family for months, and in the end their lives derailed. I was conflicted in the most uncomfortable of ways. I felt as though I had somehow betrayed them. After all, aren't they are just broken people trying to find their way? On the other hand....I was so mad, my inner sense of justice yelled "They deserved this." But, I believe in GRACE, and I believe that God is in the relationship business, and the family business, and the healing business. So I put aside my frustration, and put the lid on my anger. I set down my notebook, capped my pen, silenced my phone and closed the door.
I grabbed a box of tissues and asked my question.

Tell me your story.

"Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable."
-David Augsburger




Let it Ride

Sometimes God quiets the Storm.
Sometimes God quiets His child.
-Pastor Bob

Sometimes God just lets it ride.
-Shelly

This weekend there were storms of the weather variety. While driving to Seattle the rain was pelting so hard and fast I could not see out my windshield. It was like driving through Snoqualmie Falls.


Yes. That is totally an exaggeration. I do that.

Had I been able to see well enough to pull over I would have taken the nearest exit and hung out at Starbucks. I could not. I crouched over the steering wheel trying to see better. I started to get panicky and sweaty. I said bad words. I prayed. They were not prayers like my Sunday School teacher taught me to pray. There was no Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. They were prayers that sort of sounded like me telling the creator of the universe that he needed to step up and do His job. I mean don't you think that if He could bring the world into existence He certainly had the power to make the $@&* rain stop.

Create the world - Check
Make a covenant with Abraham - Check
Defeat death - Double check
Stop a rain storm - Let it ride

The whole thing left me feeling all stressed and sweaty, and wondering if it was a good thing to try and boss God around. Anyway, I decided to totally check out and not use my brain for any reason (other than to possibly recall my credit card number while I surfed the internet.)

And here is the product of my labors. I present to you my recipe to recover from a storm.

First of all you need something comforting to drink. The Woods Coffee does the best sugar free hot chocolate made with coconut milk or almond milk.

I just discovered a local artist, Stephen Cousens. I first saw his work in our principals office. It was a gorgeous pastel of City Hall here in Bellingham.

Read through a few blogs.......in no particular order.
Apartment Therapy/The Kitchn
One Green Bee
Joy the Baker
Djibouti Jones
The Domestic Man

Got lost down the rabbit hole of Pinterest and Stumbleupon

Watched House of Cards. Can't. Stop. Watching. Everytime I see Kevin Spacey I have the urge to yell "SHARK." He reminds me of a Great White on the hunt, in human form of course. He is creepy and entirely delightful all at once.

Dreamt about making this for dinner.

 Photo cred to Cooking Light

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mint Chimichurri and Honeyed Sunchokes.
Couldn't find sunchokes but this recipe is on my list to make soon!
We settled for leftovers.

And now all is right with the world. No worse for the ride.

New Things

New stuff happening around our house. Now that we've settled in to our new/old life we've had some time to reflect, plan, strategize, set some goals.

At the start of the New Year we decided to take on a new diet. For years I've been plagued with arthritic joint pain, insomnia, and an ever increasing list of allergies. I was taking a fairly large dose of anti-inflammatories to get through the day. Some mornings it was just plain hard to get out of bed and in the evenings it was even harder to get back up the stairs.

I started doing some research, reading blogs, looking over nutrition textbooks and decided to radically alter how our family eats. After spending one last weekend indulging in great beer, champagne, cheese, bread, and sweets (aka New Years Eve) we cold turkey cut out all grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, and sugar. Some of you may be familiar with the Whole 30 , 30 days to reset and reprogram our diet. We embarked wholeheartedly and haven't looked back.

Within days my pain was subsiding. Within 2 weeks I was pain free. The insomnia that had been bothering me for most of my life was gone. My chronic runny nose, wheezing, and itchy eyes were pretty well controlled without taking large doses of medication. The 30 days have come and gone but we have decided to continue. We've added back limited dairy (some butter and yogurt), a little rice, and honey, but a brief flirtation with wheat left me in pain the next day.

It hasn't been hard. We don't feel deprived. It's been very inspiring in the kitchen! This weekend my daughter was home from university and wanted a little grain free "something" she could eat with yogurt on the mornings she was tired of eggs. A quick peek around the internet and we found this keeper.


My "New" Granola
Adapted from Wellness Mama

2 cups coconut chips, unsweetened
1 cup of mixed nuts and seeds. I used a mix of pecans, almonds, and walnuts.
1/2 cup honey or a mix of honey and maple syrup or coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl mix together the coconut chips, nuts and seeds and set aside. In a small saucepan heat together the honey, coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. When the coconut oil has melted pour this mixture over the coconut and nuts and stir well to combine.
Spread the granola mixture evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 15-25 minutes stirring every 10 minutes until toasty brown. Watch it carefully so that the nuts don't burn.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the mixture to cool completely. Break the granola into clumps and store it in an airtight container.

*I really like the mix of olive oil with half honey and half coconut sugar.
*Other options for nuts and seeds include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, chopped hazelnuts, pistachios.

Game Time

I predict that one of these two teams will win the Super Bowl
-Gilbert Gottfried


I'm pulling for the 12th man and the Legion of BOOM!

We haven't watched the Super Bowl in years. With the time differences of the places we lived it never worked out to watch it on Sunday and even if you went totally radio/media silent to try and watch it after work on Monday, someone would let slip the score. Eventually it just wasn't on our radar and we stopped watching.

But this year! It has been a lot of fun catching the 12th man spirit, wearing green and blue, being loud and proud, and cheering on the Seahawks!

And what would the Super Bowl be without snack and other goodies.


Bacon topped with Guacamole and tomato. Yes. They're pretty awesome.
And.......

BeastMode Cookies (Yes, I hand picked the blue and green candies out of 2 pound bags of M&M's)

The cookies are Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from America's Test Kitchen. The BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe on the planet. But that's just my opinion. I swapped out the M&M's for the chocolate chips.

We've got our jerseys on, the ribs are in the oven, the beer is chilling....Can I say that I really need this game to be over. The suspense has been killing me. 

GO SEAHAWKS!

Kale Haiku

Kale, a Superfood
or loathsome vegetable
Stuck between my teeth



Ah, kale. The darling of the farmers market. The badge of the Paleo police. The leathery, chewy, leaf that is just EVERYWHERE. That stuff is not my favorite raw. I gritted my teeth, quite literally, through a bag of mixed salad greens I had bought for my lunch last week. I swear I cut my lip on its jaggedy edge. But, braised, with some olive oil, chicken broth and garlic? That's nice. Sliced into ribbons and swirled through a garlicky, brothy soup? It becomes all silky and adds nice structure to the broth. Bake it until crisp and sprinkled with a little sea salt. Pretty darn tasty.

It just has no business mixing it up with my romaine.

Baked Kale Chips
Preheat the oven to 300

Remove the stems and tough ribs from the leaves of one bunch of lacinato kale. Wash the kale thoroughly (unless you have a thing for grit) and dry it very well.

In a large bowl toss the kale leaves with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, (you could also use avocado oil or coconut oil) make sure the leaves are evenly covered with the oil.

Lay the leaves in a single layer on a sheet pan that has been lined with parchment. 

Bake the leaves for 20 minutes or until dry and crispy. Immediately after pulling them from the oven sprinkle them with some sea salt.

I Forgot I Liked Brunch

Moving in to the New Year I find myself both reflecting and looking forward. Probably like most people this time of year. I'm not one to make resolutions but I do have some hopes and plans afoot.

Moving back to the States brought with it the joy of spending time with extended family. I belong to a tribe of very funny, intelligent, talented, and kind people. I am ever so lucky to be related to them and I'm looking forward to seeing them as often as possible.

Grainy panoramic of a very joyful Christmas Eve. There was singing and flamingos.

I'm turning 50 this year. No big deal, but it IS a big deal that we are going here to celebrate!

I know. I'm a grown woman. But the Magic Kingdom has my heart! Splash Mountain here I come!
(But not the Tea Cups. The Tea Cups are of the Devil)

I have plans for our garden. We bought a house, (yay!) which sat vacant while it was on the market. Between the sitting vacant part, and the transitioning to life stateside part, some things fell apart.

It was alive at one point and then....no words. Just shame. 

Found this in the garden. For now it is the only pet I'm allowing us to have. Mostly out of fear that it will start to resemble the plants. Deadish.

She's a keeper. We named her Annie.

And, I decided that I really like having people over for brunch. I'm going to host brunch more often this year and I'm going to serve these.

Sweet Potato Hashies.

Sweet Potato Hashies

The original recipe calls for cinnamon which I omitted. I just wanted the taste of the crispy sweet potatoes to shine through. I think they also might be nice with a little cumin and chili powder if you're so inclined. Ooh, and green onions would be great!

4 cups grated sweet potatoes
4 eggs mixed well
2 tablespoons coconut flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Coconut oil or fat of your choice for sautéing 

If you have the patience of a saint then by all means use a box grater for your sweet potatoes. I do not, so I used the shredding blade on my food processor and made short work of this part of the recipe. 

In a large mixing bowl stir together all the ingredients, except for the oil. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Melt a couple tablespoons of the fat of your choice in a large sauté pan. When the pan is sizzling place a scant 1/4 cup of the shredded potato mixture in the pan. I could place about 4 hashies at a time in my pan. 

Let the potatoes cook until well browned on one side, 3-5 minutes, then carefully flip them over. Since they don't have a lot of binder to hold them together some may fall apart. That's okay, just push them back together and carry on, cooking another 3-5 minutes on the second side.

I placed my finished potatoes on a sheet pan in my oven at 300 degrees to stay warm until the teenagers decided to arise. I really like that they crisped up a bit more, but if they are going to be in the oven for longer than 20 min I'd use a lower temp.

We served these with sausage patties and poached eggs.

What does a New Year hold?

The invitation: Would you want to spend some time with us while we're home?
The answer: YES, on our way!

We took a short road trip to see a some friends and welcomed the New Year with them. We sipped Mumm Napa Cuvée M (which was delightful), nibbled on Tapenade and Texas Trash, played Settlers of Catan (I really needed more brick. I had enough sheep to rival New Zealand), and marveled in the miracle that we all stayed awake to see the ball drop at midnight.

The evening was interspersed with the joy of deep conversation and laughter. Our friends live a few time zones away so with limited time we dive deep, tell me, tell me, tell me.....everything was discussed, prayers said, blessings given, and then finally everyone was enveloped in hugs that will tide us over until we see each other again.

The road home allowed for time to reflect on the past year. A lot can happen in a year. A LOT. Last January we were living in Tunisia and looking ahead to a path that wasn't clearly marked. I had been reading a lovely book called To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue. It is a book of blessings as you journey over life's thresholds. At that time A Blessing for the Interim spoke straight to my heart and I would meditate on it daily. One line in particular summed up life then, and I think it rightfully describes the newness of the year: "The path you took to get here is washed out, the way forward is still concealed from you. The old is not yet old enough to have died away, the new is still too young to be born." I always feel like the last waning days of the school break are sort of the twilight of the New Year, not clearly defined but holding a lot of promise. In 2013 we crossed a lot of thresholds. New careers, new country, new home, new schools, new friends, and we're standing in the twilight of 2014 wondering what it holds.

Total goodness I'm sure, and there's always sparkling wine and Catan for the days that end up going sideways.

And friends to share them with.

Hazy orchards at P's house on New Years Day

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