Not my will, but your's be done.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's a Vapor

This morning my kids were getting on my nerves.  Yep, my beautiful, lovely, perfect children were annoying the mess out of me.  I'm not particularly a morning person.  I don't necessarily wake up irritable, but I don't hope out of bed all bright eyed an bushy tailed either.  I wake up quiet and slow, so it takes a few minutes of moving about the house for me to be awake enough to do certain things, like carry on a conversation.  My days always start best when I get up before the kids and have some time to shake the cob webs loose from my head, and get the right perspective.  When I'm up first, not only am I in a better mood when my kiddos start waking up, but I get a few minutes of hugs and snuggling with each one as they start rolling out of bed one by one.  That makes for a good start to the day for me, and for them.

This morning the kids started waking up before I did.  And they woke up with a plethora of needs that, in their perspective, had to be met at that very moment.  They were either dying of hunger, or dehydrated, or freezing to death, or had to potty really bad but the bathroom was already occupied by another sibling who was apparently constipated. 

As the morning progressed there were more urgent needs.  Like, not being able to find matching socks, or the right shorts(to which I wanted to say, "It's two days until Christmas, just put on some pants!"), or un-tying the double knots in shoes that apparently had been tied by the incredible hulk.

Yes, my children are as dramatic as I am.

I was really starting to get annoyed.  I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and I was still in my pj's, still had dragon breath, and still needed coffee somethin' fierce.  At some point I threw a mini-tantrum and said that if one more person asked me for something before I was dressed that everyone was going to sit on their bed until I made coffee!

While I was getting dressed I checked the news and facebook, only to learn that a 3 year old in a near-by town had been accidentally run over by his father and killed.  Another 3 year old had drowned in a pond.  And a 22 year old local girl, Emily Riu, had been killed in a car wreck.  While I didn't personally know the girl that was killed in the wreck, she was a family member of people whom we do know.  All three of these events are such a tragedy. 

I was whispering a prayer for the family members and friends of those who died, when my mind wandered to the fact that this will probably be the worst Christmas these families have ever experienced.  And worse than that, every Christmas will mark the anniversary of a very sad time.  Lost loved ones are already missed terribly at Christmas, and compounded with the fact that only a few days before Christmas will mark the anniversary of a tragedy, I can't imagine the pain that the holidays will bring for these grieving families.

It hit me what a vapor life really is.  In James, life is referred to as a mist.  James 4:14b says, "What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

If I knew that I or one of my children wasn't going to be here on this earth tomorrow, would running around meeting all their many, seemingly trivial needs annoy me?  Absolutely not.  In fact, not only would I not be annoyed, I would be honored and joyful that I have the special opportunity to be the one who meets their needs while I had the chance.  I suddenly wasn't so annoyed with my kids.  When I went in to the bathroom to put on my make up, instead of shooing Josslyn, who is my shadow, out of the room so that I could have a minute of peace, I brought her in there with me and sat her down on the stool.  While I put my make up on I put a little blush on her cheeks and was blessed by her giggles.  Then I pretended to put eye shadow and what not on her as I put mine on, and was blessed again when she said,  "I'm pretty!  And you are pretty too, Mommy!"  Yes, baby girl, you are beautiful, make up or not.  I love her joy in the simple things in life.

When Danil pressed the button on his kitty keyboard to play the song "Oh where, Oh where has my little cat gone?" for the 945,215 time, instead of getting annoyed, I sang along for a couple of verses and had the pleasure of making Danil laugh so hard that it made me laugh.  And then he clapped for me.  Which is the opposite reaction I usually get from folks when I sing.  I love his love for music.

When Luke brought me a lego creation, that looks very similar to his last 37 lego creations, instead of sighing and saying, "Let me guess. It is a car that can transform in to a spaceship, right?", I stopped what I was doing and let him tell me all about it.   And then I gave him a big long hug.  I love his creativity.

When Alik knocked a framed picture off the wall and it broke in to bits because he was trying to see if it could "shake", instead of yelling, "Why would you do that?!  Of course it can shake, why else do you think it is always crooked?! NOW look at it!", instead I took a deep breath, which gave me the perspective to realize that he wasn't trying to break the picture frame and his behavior didn't have ill intentions but was just innocent childish curiousity.  I could tell by the look on his face that he felt bad and wasn't going to be "shaking" any more picture frames.  Once I realized that I wasn't upset anymore and had the opportunity to show grace instead of griping at him now and regretting it later.  He is sensitive, and I love his sensitivity towards others.

When Ray melted down because she couldn't decide if she should wear short sleeves and a jacket or just long sleeves, instead of snapping, "Oh just pick one! It isn't a life altering decision!", instead we went and stood on the porch for a minute to see what the weather felt like.  I love her funky style and uniqueness that shows even in the clothes she wears.

When Kellen happily held his arms out to me, yelling, "UP!", which is what he says when he wants to be tossed in the air repeatedly, instead of saying, "Not right now, Mama's arms are still tired for the last UP.", I threw my chubby toddler up in the air a few more times.  He is growing so fast and it won't be long until he is too big for UP.  I love his zest for life and his love of adventure.

If I knew that I or one of my children wasn't going to be on this earth tommorrow would I be annoyed by having to meet their many, seeminly trivial needs?  Absolutely not.  Not only would I not be annoyed, I would be honored and joyful to have the opportunity to be the one who meets their needs while I had the chance.  Life is a vapor.

My prayer for you and me is that over the next few days, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, is that we remember to focus on who and what is important and let the trivial things fall to the wayside.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

DIY Dogfood

I know that I've been totally lagging in posting my DIY posts....and really blogging in general.  I thought I'd do the dogfood making post all on it's own so that those of you who either don't have a dog or are not the slightest bit interested in making dogfood, could just skip this post all together.  I will only be talking about dogfood in this post, so here is your ticket to just stop reading now if that isn't of interest to you.  My next DIY will be about dishwasher detergent, rinse aid, and maybe a few other things thrown in there.

I first got the idea in the back of my head to possibly make my own dogfood a couple months ago when my sister told me that she read that the average life span of a dog is something like 12 years, but dogs fed a completely organic diet had an average life span of 30 years.  Wow.  Now, while I have done no research whatsoever to try to find out how accurate these statistics actually are, it still got something going in the back of my head.  That information from my sister just kinda sat in marinated in my brain for a while until I finally sat down and did some reading about the possiblity of making my own dogfood.  First off, I want to make this clear:  We love our dogs.  They are great pets.  They are great with the kids.  They help me feel safe when Josh is working nights, yada, yada, yada.  But they are just that: dogs.  We don't treat our dogs like they our other children or anything like that.  I'm not bashing folks who do treat their dogs like that, but we already have 6 young kids, so our dogs are our pets, not our other children.  So don't start thinking that just because I now make our dog's dogfood, that they must be spoiled dogs that go around sportting diamond studded collars, ride in doggie carseats, and receive royal treatment...because they don't have/do/receive any of these things. 

Now that we've got that out of the way, I'll get back to the dogfood business.  So, when I started thinking about how much healthier REAL food must be for dogs, it got me to wondering about the cost effectiveness and effort required to do it.  After doing some research and reading I decided to give it a shot.  Much to my shock an amazement, it was MUCH easier than I anticipated.

Dogs are primarily carnivors.  Dogs are meant to eat a diet composed mainly of raw meat.  Domesticated dogs haven't eaten raw meat for so long that they have mostly lost the digestive enzymes to properly digest raw meat, therefore, all meat fed to them should be fully cooked.  My dogfood is about 40% meat, 30% grain, 30% veggies.  I don't measure these percentages, I just eyeball it.  I pretty much make sure it looks like I am serving the dogs equal parts of all three, and then I just add a little more meat.  It isn't a science.

I have made my dog food for three weeks now.  Every batch I make has lasted right at a week.  We have 3 dogs(one small, one large, and one medium sized puppy that will probably be med-slightly largish when full grown).  I make all three parts of my food at once and it takes less than an hour.

I use 5lb ground meat
2 cups brown rice(that is 2 cups dry, so it comes out to more than 2 cups when it is cooked)
carrots or potatoes(I make an amount that looks like the same amount of rice.  For the carrots that is about 3lbs for the potatoes I just eyeball it.  When I am doing carrots I steam them until they are tender, for the potatoes I bake them in the oven until tender and then cut them up, skins and all.)
For the gound meat I either use 73/27 ground beef or gound turkey.  I do not drain the fat, I just cook it, let it cool, stir in the grains and veggies, and refrigerate.

You will have to adjust the amount of food you cook based on the size of your dogs.  This batch lasts all three of my dogs a week.  I am using half dry dogfood and half homemade dogfood.  I did this in the beginning to help their digestive systems switch over to the new food.  They never seemed to have trouble digesting the new food. In fact, the LOVE it.  All three scarf it down in mere minutes and then lick the bowl.  I usually put the dry food and homemade food in the bowl and then sprinkle it with some brewer's yeast and diatomaceous earth(2 tsp for the two bigger dogs and 1/2 tsp for the little dog).  A couple of times a week I crack an egg in to the two bigger dog's food and then grind up the shell and stir it in. Every other day or so I sprinkle a little wheat germ on their food. I also drizzle a little olive oil on their food about once a week, as a treat.  When we steam broccoli for supper, I save the stem and grate in into the dogs food the next morning.  I also throw in some spinach stems when I add spinach to our eggs.  The only things I know of that you should NOT put in your dog's food is chocolate, onions, grapes, and garlic.  Dogs also don't usually digest dairy very well, so stay away from adding that to your dogs food.

In less than two weeks I noticed a BIG difference in how all three of my dogs looked.  Our little dog, who was a super skinny very picky eater has filled out to a healthy weight and looks the best she has ever looked.  Our part australian shepherd puppy that was a stray found on the side of the road by a friend, has filled out to a healthy weight and her coat looks great.  She has shed her unhealthy hair and her new hair is so much softer and shinier.  She also had an skin irritation in her armpit that cleared up when we started the new food.  Our biggest dog is also our newest dog.  She was a dog that we agreed to foster until her owners found a home for her.  She turned out to be great with the kids, great with our other dogs, and a great watchdog when Josh works nights.  She also became best friends with our puppy, and provided a great outlit for all that puppy energy.  We fell in love with her and decided to keep her.  She had been well taken care of by her previous owners, so she came to us in great shape.  She was used to being fed the "good" dogfood, while our dogs were used to eating Old Roy.  I have seen the least amount of changes in her, which is a testament that the good dogfood is really much better than the cheap stuff.  That being said, I have seen changes in her, just not to the extent of our other two dogs.  Her coat is shinier, her eyes  brighter, and she just has a healthy glow to her.

Cost efficiency:  Making my own dogfood probably comes out to the same price as buying one of the more expensive brands of dogfood at Wal-Mart, but cheaper than, say, Science Diet from the vet.  I plan on continuing to feed them 1/2 dry food and 1/2 homemade food.  The reason for this is so that if I am ever not able to feed them the homemade food(emergency, illness, HURRICANE EVACUATION, etc) if won't make them sick to have to just eat they dry food.

Gotta run for tonight, but hopefully I'll get a chance to post my other DIY things I've been experimenting with soon!