The Misadventures of Cheri

Mortifying my kids one swimsuit at a time

Quiet

I was getting really excited about my blogging juices flowing again.  I had tons of ideas, funny stories and general useless information to share with all of you.  Then the unthinkable happened.  On January 18, late in the evening, one of my husband’s best friends killed himself.  I tried to come on here once, but I just stared at a blank screen waiting to be written on.

I don’t really even know what the point of me being on here today is other than to just proclaim how even during the worst of times in my life, I can see the redeeming hand of God.  I am a firm believer that God never just lets us “hang out to dry.”  There is always a way to find help, help offered, but never forced upon us.  The help may not be the help you think you need, but it’s there.

Two weeks or so before the suicide, my husband had coffee with his friend and tried to reach out to him.  Tyler knew something wasn’t right.  His friend did not want to be reached.  And as sad as that is, I rejoice in the fact that God took the time to offer the help, in the form of my husband.

Secondly, our friend was a believer in Christ.  Please don’t make the mistake of saying that Christians don’t kill themselves.  Or that you can’t be a Christian and do that sort of thing.  We are all susceptible to feelings of hopelessness.   Yesterday at the funeral service, the pastor gave the same message he did on the day our friend accepted Christ and was baptized.  He remembered the sermon from that day.  As we all bowed our heads and the pastor led the “sinner’s prayer,” I nearly jumped out of my seat in joy.  My insides were screaming, “This is a miracle, Lord, a miracle that only You could have done.”

Our friend was a police officer with my husband and had been with the department over 10 years.  There were so many cops there.  It was nothing short of a miracle that the gospel was preached to so many.  The department my husband works for is kind of an open wound at the moment.  Since July, this is the third officer they’ve buried.  Morale is at an all time low due to administration issues (that is putting it very mildly and vaguely . . . ).  But the ray a hope was freely offered by the pastor yesterday.

So while Tyler and I will grieve for a time for our friend and miss him until we are reunited in heaven, we will look for and thank God for the hope he freely gave us.  And the hope he freely offers anyone out there who would believe on Him.  Want to know what I believe and how you, too, can share my hope?  Click here.

I’ll close by posting a picture of our friend on the day he was baptized.  I can’t wait to see him again.

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With a (choose your own word) C!!!

I have blogged about the misery I endure with my last name, the worst of which was on the actual 9/11.  Generally, it’s the same 3 or 4 mistakes (okay, except for 9/11) over and over and over.  I sigh and get on with my life.  None of them are usually blog-worthy, but today I got a surprise.  Something happened that has never happened before.  And it really deserves its own post.

Like I said in the 9/11 blog, my last name sounds similar to “Shaver,” but it starts with a “C” and the first sound my name makes is with a hard “ch” like chair.  People who have known me for years and years still say it with a “sh” sound.  I just sigh and get on with my life.  One time our middle school youth pastor asked Austin how to truly pronounce my name.  Cheri Ch______ can be confusing.  The youth pastor told me Austin let out a big sigh and told him how to say it with a bit of irritation in his voice.  To which the youth pastor added, “I deserved his reaction.  I should have listened to you the first time you told me your name.”   Now that it’s as clear as mud, let’s move on to today.

I went to pick up a prescription at our pharmacy where most everyone knows me.  I noticed there was a new lady, so I tried to break her in gently to my last name.  I told her I was here to pick up a prescription for “Ch________ with a C.”  I am fully aware that 98% of the general population has never heard my name.  So she did what 98% of said population does and headed right for the “S” bin.  I said, with a smile on my face, “Excuse me?  It’s Ch_________ with a C.”  She looked right at me, said, “I know,” and did a swan dive back into the “S” bin.  THAT was a first.  I was speechless.  The lady in line behind me snorted and laughed.  I just stood there like a deer in headlights.

After becoming fully immersed in the bin, she jerked up and said, “You said C?”  Um, yeah, I did.

If I had any guts at all, I’d go back to my maiden name.

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No one ever told me

Earlier today, my dear high school friend, Tara, commented on Facebook that her baby was 5 years old and it was taking its toll on her.  I replied back with my experience of parenting a 15  and almost 13-year-old.  After thinking over my response to her, something dawned on me.  No one ever told me.  Oh, I had one friend allude to it.  I’d heard quips of it from another friend.  But no one ever laid it on the line for me.

And what is that?  It is the fact that parenting pre-teens and teens is easily the most rewarding part of parenthood to date for me.  In short, no one ever told me how good it could be.

I remember being at some sort of conference and the speaker quoted Mark Twain: “When a child turns 12 you should put him in a barrel, nail the lid down and feed him through a knot hole.  When he turns 16, plug the hole.” I remember the crowd laughing (my kids were very young at the time) but what I remember the most is my friend, Suzanna.  She was vehemently shaking her head “no” and saying that she did not agree.  What was even more amazing to me was that she had a teenager at the time!   I prayed right then and there that God would give me Suzanna’s attitude.

When children are young, their cuteness is off the scale, never to be repeated in this lifetime . . . I’ll give you that.  I look back at my toe-headed boy and be-dimpled little girl and a part of me aches at how over the top adorable they were.  I remember the lisps, the mispronounced words (“hiccup truck” will forever live in my heart), the crazy antics (one of my children actually went #2 in the backyard because, “Mommy, I wanted to feel like a dog.”).  I remember how their faces lit up when they saw me . . . even when they were with their friends!!  I remember them falling asleep in my arms, precious prayers whispered in earnest every night and singing all the little kid church songs together.  I loved it all.

As they grew up, I noticed something slowly going on around me.  My kids weren’t just depending on me to meet all their needs and provide all their good times anymore.  We were actually starting to have a deep relationship.  We would talk about things like current events, landmarks in history, and our lives.  They were beginning to form opinions separate from mine.  They began to observe the world around them and process things through their mind’s lens, not just their parent’s.  They started realizing that their mom is a person, too, and she has her limits.  They realized neither one of their parents are perfect.   They started developing interests that weren’t suggested to them by a parent.   They started turning into unique individuals and it is fascinating to watch.

My kids aren’t perfect and neither is their mother.  I will never as long as I live understand the inner workings of the male adolescent brain.  Turquoise skinny jeans.  Are you kidding me?  The kids can still get on my last nerve and we have misunderstandings.  And I have been thought of as unfair, mean, too strict, embarrassing, etc.  But the joy of our relationship  through the good and bad  far outweighs the negatives and it is so much bigger than wishing they were small again.  Which I don’t.

I would like to offer up two things that I think have helped me through these years.  First, I tried to not look to my kids for self-validation, approval or to find my self-esteem in them.  If I did, I would have been done in a long time ago.  My first born was so strong-willed that I pretty much thought I was a bad parent from the start.  What if I had been looking to him to make me feel good about myself or to validate the choices I’d made in life? My kids are a huge part of my life, but they’re not the whole part.  Yes, I’ve homeschooled them for 10 years, but I have tried to keep them from being the sun around which I orbit.

Secondly, around the age of 10, major changes occur in kids.  Changes in how they see the world, how they see themselves, how they see their relationships.  I had no idea this was going to happen.  Thankfully, I read “Bringing Up Boys” by Dr. James Dobson.  He so clearly explains what’s going on in a kid’s head during those years and the teen years.  I know I am a better parent because of that book.  He also wrote “Bringing Up Girls.”  It has proved to be invaluable . . . girls emotions are so much different from boys during these years and Dr. Dobson made me realize that no, she doesn’t hate me, her brain is just a mess at the moment!

So, Tara, I offer you hope.  And Suzanna, I offer you thanks.  And to God I offer my astounded worship . . . . thank You for taking all the good, the bad, the hilarious, the ugly, the happy, the heart-breaking, the not fit for print and turning it into something wonderful.  To You alone be the glory.

 

 

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2010 in Review

Thanks to my friend, Rachelle, I got the idea to make a “year in review” video about 2010.  I started yesterday and managed to delete the whole thing when I was about 75% done.  Then today I got uberfrustrated because I *thought* I was uploading the video, but I was trying to upload the video maker program.  Lord help a woman.  Anyway, I think the one I ended up with is better.  Watch mine first, then watch Rachelle’s.  If you do it the other way around, you’ll be so amazed with hers that mine will seem amateurish (at best) in comparison.

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Making dinner nearly killed me last night

Yeah, it’s all my own fault, too.  Or maybe not.  In the Pot Roast post I mentioned that I have trouble processing/digesting some preservatives.  Which means I make a lot of things from scratch.  One of them being condensed cream of ________ soups for casseroles.  I love the ease of casseroles!  And they’re generally healthy until you see that it calls for one or two cans of condensed cream of _______ soup.  I didn’t make any sort of casserole for years until I stumbled upon this recipe on Food.com.  That’s right!! You can make your own can of cream of ________ soup.  You can use Promise Light and skim milk to cut down on the unwanted fat.

Last night’s recipe, Baked Chicken Spaghetti, called for a one can each of cream of mushroom and cream of chicken.  So that took a bit longer than I’m used to since I had to make two.  But look at how beautiful they are!!

I kind of go a little crazy with the poultry seasoning for the cream of chicken soup.  Use Litehouse Freeze-Dried Poultry Herb Blend. Yes, it’s spendy, but I don’t use a lot of it everyday.  It’s much more mellow than traditional poultry seasoning so I add quite a bit.  The other secret to making this recipe great is making sure your butter/spread is good and golden brown before you add all the liquids.  When the flour and butter get nice and browned, it changes the whole flavor of the soup.

So, on top of the soups, I had to boil the noodles and grill the chicken in order to cut it up.  It took me 1.5 hours to get this meal prepared . . . .and that’s before it went in the oven.  It was delicious, but so are about 50 other things that take a fraction of the time this does.  And taste just as good.

On to Dickens.  To say he lived in a different time than we did is an understatement.  He takes a very, very, vvveeeerrryyy long time to describe things.  So yesterday, I was sitting in the Aveda Institute while Austin got his hair cut, waiting for my eyebrows to get waxed and reading.  I had forgotten how stuffy that place gets.  It is HUGE and they have tons of students.  And obviously not a super good ventilation system.  I had the brilliant plan of wearing a sweatshirt because the weather was a bit on the soggy side.  I think I nearly got heat exhaustion and I couldn’t take the stupid sweatshirt off.  Why?  Because I had on the most ridiculous/hideous/not-fit-for-public-viewing t-shirt underneath it.  I didn’t need all those young, ultra hip kids to see my faded grey Disneyland shirt that proudly proclaims the year 2006.  Back when most of them were still freshmen in high school.

Since I was so toasty, I nearly fell asleep reading page after page of descriptions of the French countryside.  Or maybe it was England.  I don’t know.  It’s all a bit fuzzy at the moment.  I do know that when I pick it up again I’m probably going to have to go back a few pages and refresh myself as to which continent the story is taking place on at the moment.

Everyone ate leftovers tonight and we’re getting ready to take Amber to basketball so I don’t have a food review for tomorrow.  What I will blog about is my lovely issue with preservatives and the one thing that helps me overcome it.  I mean the one thing instead of making things from scratch until I think my feet are going to start screaming, “Just once, lady, just once could you pick up something pre-made?”

I bet you’re on the edge of your seats.  Well, those of you over 50 are.

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Old Fashioned Pot Roast

Before the veggies cooked down.

You can’t get much more American than pot roast and that was what was on the menu today from E-Mealz.  It did not disappoint.  I know, you might be wondering how anyone could mess up pot roast.  I don’t think I’ve ever cooked one wrong, but sometimes the spices recipes over the years have called for can be questionable.  Also, the older I get, the harder time my body has processing preservatives.  My mom had the same problem as she aged.  I can’t just throw an envelope of instant onion soup mix in with a pot roast without experiencing serious misery that evening.

The biggest difference in this roast than others I’ve made before is that you used beef broth instead of water.  I cannot emphasize enough using broth rather than water as much as you can.  I use Pacific Natural Foods organic broth because of the no preservatives issue.  I always have broth on hand, both chicken and beef.  It’s a staple!

The other difference was the fact that you added the veggies only 2 hours before the roast was done.  Obviously if you work outside of the home this isn’t an option for you.  I liked it because the potatoes (they really are in there) could be cut into smaller pieces and not be mush by the time the roast was done.

One of the ingredients the rub called for was black pepper and I substituted McCormick’s Peppercorn Medley Grinder.  You haven’t lived until you’ve tried this.  I found it by dumb luck.  My 15 year old son has a love affair with pepper and he puts it on everything.  I thought it would be funny to pick this up for him and put it in his stocking for Christmas.  I’m so glad I stumbled upon this one.  I looked at some other grinders today and none of them have the whole coriander and allspice this medley does.  Do yourself a favor and run out and buy it now.  Substitute it for black pepper in all your recipes – you won’t be disappointed!

The pot roast was great and even my picky kids gobbled it down!!

As far as my reading . . . . still plugging away at “A Tale of Two Cities.”  My Kindle tells me I’m 28% through the book.  Today I read how Monseigneur had to have four people make and serve his hot chocolate to him.  I laughed out loud.  And fell a little more in love with Charles Dickens.  I have had to consult SparkNotes at times because I just don’t understand some of the long winded narration.

And now, for some gratuitous beagle cuteness.

The floppy chin skin.  The fluffy lips.  The “I like to go outside and rustle up some action” paws.  The “I’m laying on an extension cord, but I’m so wiped out from all the rustling up action that I don’t feel it.”

Now you see why she had me at “hello.”
**Again, any product endorsed in this blog is purchased by me.  Except SparkNotes . . . it’s free.   None of the corporations know I exist.  I just tell ya because I love them!**

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WFMW: Classics and Cuisine

Well, at least I hope this works for me.  I’m changing the direction of my blog a little.  At least for the time being.  Or at least until I get bored.  Which could be by the end of this blog. We’ll see.

For the first part: Classics.  My in-laws were very generous with the doling out of Christmas cash this year, so I bought myself a Kindle.  For me, this is just an over the top, totally spoil yourself gift.  And something I would have never purchased with the money Tyler earns.   I mean, sheesh, it’s a bit extravagant.  {I have wanted one for a very long time.} Anyhoo, my goal this year is to use my Kindle to read classic literature.  A few years back I read “Anna Karenina” and I was blown away.  Yes, I did it as part of Oprah’s book club.  Last month when she said her newest selections were two classics from Dickens, I couldn’t resist.  Most of the copyrights on the older books have been released so they’re free to download.

I sort of missed the entire British and American literature titles when I was in high school and college.  I thought I was smart in high school, so I took the hulking World Lit.  Sure, I plugged away with authors like Camus, Voltaire, Euripides and other authors I can’t remember.  I am also permanently scarred from having to read “Siddartha” in a very short period of time.  None of it except for Euripides really struck me as great.  Then in college I did what all college students do – take all your courses based on the professor and the lack of homework he/she assigns.  Nothing really sunk in in this area during college.  But man did I have a lot of fun.

So far I am LOVING “A Tale of Two Cities.”  I had a difficult time getting into it, but once I read “as white as the tops of the waves that broke upon the neighbouring beach, or the specks of sail that glinted in the sunlight far at sea,” I was in love with Mr. Dickens.  Who writes like that??    I have a list of books I want to read this year – I can’t wait!

The second part: Cuisine.  I have been using E-mealz for a few months.  It’s a weekly dinner menu that is supposed to help you save money on groceries.  And I can say that it does.  I love, love, love E-mealz!  It’s something new for dinner every night.  I use the “Low Fat/Any Store” menu.  My husband is really picky about low fat food.  In other words, he can’t stand it.  He can’t believe the meals I make that are low fat; they really are that good. They have a huge array of menus you can choose from . . . regular, low carb, Weight Watchers Points, gluten free, and the list goes on.

I’m going to use my blog to discuss what I’m making, how it turned out, etc.  I won’t be posting any recipes . . . you’ll have to sign up yourself for that.

I’ll start tomorrow night.  I modified one of the recipes tonight and instead of taco pizza we had regular tacos.  I’m still dealing with a bit of picky eater issues, but nothing like when they were little.  And by “they” I only mean one of them.  And I will protect the identity of the guilty.

**Disclaimer: Neither Amazon nor E-Mealz know I exist.  I’m not receiving any type of compensation for anything I write here.  I blog about it because I use it and I love it!!**

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What I’ve learned about beagles

My precious friend from college, Caroline, adopted a beagle, Benny, a few days after Christmas.  On Facebook I told her how happy I was that she didn’t let all the posts about my insane beagle scare her off.  She then replied that she thought the beagle’s bizarre and naughty behavior was a joke.  Sweet Caroline (go ahead . . . take a break and sing the song out loud.  I can wait.).  I have never once exaggerated my beagle’s behavior nor purposely posed her to take funny pictures.  Nor have I ever encouraged her to lounge on a table.

So for you, Caroline, here is what I have learned about beagles in the last 22 months.  Gwen has been a very fast teacher.

1.  Beagles are cute. This supersedes every other thing I will post.   The soulful eyes. The floppy, velvety soft ears.  The way the eye lids arch in the sweetest way.  The floppy lips.  The round paws.  The nose that perfectly fits on the end of her snout.  Seriously, beagle cuteness is off the scale.  This will keep you from killing your beagle later.

2. Beagles have OCD. All of them.  It manifests differently in every beagle, but stuffed animals, paper and cardboard are at the top of Gwen’s list.  This Christmas and last we couldn’t leave any wrapped presents under the tree for fear of what she would do to them.  We could leave the unwrapped gifts, out of their boxes, down there and she’d never give them a second glance.  She also is obsessed with anything that has had contact with your ear.  We have gone through more ear buds than you can imagine.  And she literally ruined a pair of Tyler’s glasses beyond repair.  Which was fine.  They were purchased in 1997 and it was time for him to move on.  And pencils.  I joked once that for her birthday I was going to go to the Dollar Store, buy a package of pencils, rub them on my ears and then throw them in the back yard for her enjoyment.

3. Beagles are fiercely loyal to their pack. Your family has just become Benny’s pack.  This will lead to some endearing and annoying behavior.  If another dog even gets close to one of us, Gwen loses her mind.  Which means she’s not a lot of fun at the dog park.  She really won’t play with other dogs, because she already has the chihuahua and us.  The other dogs are not members of her pack and will be snubbed accordingly.  Or howled at.  Or whined at.  Or growled at.  Sometimes all at the same time.

4. If there is trouble, a mess or something stinky, your beagle will find it and get deeply involved. I can’t count the times Gwen has come in dirty and smelly and there seemed to be no culprit in the back yard.  The following picture was a very stinky incident.  We took pictures of it because we couldn’t believe how powerfully it smelled.

And when your beagle gets into something stinky, LIKE SHE DID TODAY, you will have to cry and mutter, “I do not have time for this,” and seriously rethink the priorities in your life give them a bath.  Which I got to do TODAY.  Have I mentioned it yet?  Then your beagle may or may not act like this:

Did I mention she did this today? Right before I sat down to write this blog?

5. Their nose rules their life. That’s basically the long and short of a beagle’s existence.  No matter how much they love you, how well-trained they are, how loyal they are to you, they will choose their nose and what they can smell over all else.  We have even noticed stages of tail wagging by Gwen.  Her tail wags differently depending on how happy she is to be following a trail.  The thing that makes her tail wag in a circle?  Squirrels.  Every. single. time.

6. Beagles are the happiest, loving-est, sweetest dogs ever. It’s as if they have two personalities.  The one that drives you nuts and the one that is so cute and endearing that you can’t stand it.  I have overdosed on beagle cuteness more than once.  I probably did today and will tomorrow.

Enjoy Benny, Caroline and family!  I have a feeling he’s going to be a wonderful, if not mischievous, addition to your family.

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