Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Story of Acceptance

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Assuming that you are like me, there are things you don’t like about yourself.  These things might even make you self-conscious.  If everyone could be completely honest, you would discover that, while many people don’t like things about themselves, they have come to accept who they are.  I believe that this self-acceptance is the best combatant for self-consciousness.

My mom told me the story of the day I was born many, many times.  There is one version of this story, however, that I heard only once.  This is that version of events:

My parents chose not to find out my gender – for reasons that I will reveal in a different post – and were naturally very eager to find out whether their first-born would be a son or daughter.  After a tumultuous pregnancy, the time came for them to meet me!  They expected the full package with me (ten pink fingers, ten pink toes, two eyes, two ears, etc.), and at 6:14 pm on April 6th, they should have had the chance.

There are a few things that new parents might expect to hear at the time of birth. “It’s a girl!”, “We’ve got a full head of hair, Mom!”, or even “Happy birthday, little one!” would not have been out-of-place.

Instead, I was whisked away by a flock of silent nurses.  My parents didn’t hold me.  They didn’t even know I was a girl.  The doctor asked, “Did you know your baby had a cleft palate?”

Brand new parents having their first baby never want to think that something is wrong, especially after a day and a half of labor. You think you’re out of the woods when the baby is out and crying, but apparently it’s just the time that you can learn that everything you have planned for in your child’s new life is about to change.

Having a cleft palate is not usually a life-threatening condition.  My case was pretty mild, being unilateral and only affecting the roof of my mouth and not my outward appearance, but nonetheless terrifying to my parents.  They had chosen to breastfeed, which was no longer an option because I lacked the ability to “suck”.  They were told that, instead, my mom would need to use a breast pump and a syringe to feed me.  I would need reconstructive surgery before my second birthday.  I would need speech therapy indefinitely.

Sadly, the doctor’s can’t tell you how this will affect a child on a personal level.  They can’t tell you that your child will be made fun of by peers because they can’t speak properly or that things like carbonated sodas feel like they “burn” any exposed sinus tissue.  They also can’t tell you that it’s the early 1990’s and there won’t be any real surgical options designed to improve your child’s speech for another decade.  They can’t give you a sense of normalcy.

I’ve had quite a time with this affliction.  There are days when I don’t think about it, but there are also days when I can’t think about anything else.  I’m different.  Being different isn’t always a bad thing, but it is very rarely a good thing.  The difference between others who are different – in the most normal sense of the word – and me is that other people can hide their anomalies.  I don’t have that option.

In the last few years, I have decided that I will never be okay with who I am until I have fully accepted my situation.  I am different.  I am weird.  There are things that I can do that you can’t and vice versa, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalms 139:13-14 (NIV) sums is together completely for me, as I’m sure it does for many other people.  I was made with a purpose, whether I know what that purpose is or not, and I can accept that.

I may be nearly twenty years old, but I am no closer to figuring out my purpose in life than any other person my age.  What I have figured out is that it’s okay to not know.  I have lived a life full of uncertainties and I am strong enough to deal with it.  It’s true when people say that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  I am slowly realizing just how strong I am and just how strong I will become in the future.

I was given an obstacle.  It is mine to overcome.  I have so far, and I will continue to do so.  Although I may not like everything about myself, I have come to the point of acceptance.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve confronted all my demons yet, but I will continue to pray for the day that I love myself in spite of my differences – or even because of them!

Stay beautiful, my lovelies!
Claire

(Photo courtesy of cleftawareness.org)

Day at the Pumpkin Patch

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Hello readers!

I would like to introduce you to someone very special to me.

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I call him He-Man.  He’s pretty great.  I mean, how many twenty-something men would take a crazy girl like me to a pumpkin patch? 🙂

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We are blessed to live in an area with our very own pumpkin patch.  It’s really quite amazing.  Many families bring their children out to take fall pictures for Christmas cards and whatnot.  He-Man thinks I like places like this because I’m still so childlike.  You can come to your own conclusions 😛

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Now I need suggestions for what I should do with my pumpkins.  Do any of you have a favorite pattern or should I just go ham on it with a knife?  He-Man seems to have a plan for his pumpkin, though he won’t let me in on it just yet.  He’s much like me in not wanting to ruin a big reveal.  I’ll add pictures of what we end up with as soon as we have it done.

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Peace, love, and pumpkins!
Claire

 

 

 

The Chair. (Dun, dun, DUNNN!)

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Several weeks ago I was climbing around the rafters and crawling beneath the clutter in one of the barns when I saw it.  “But how do I get to it?” I wondered.  After much shuffling of junk and risking life and limb during a precariously perched battle with a dive-bombing wasp (which turned out to be a dirt dobber), I had it.

It was so sad to be a child’s chair that I decided that I HAD to give it new life.  I brought the chair up to the front porch and began to scrape off the layers upon layers of sun-baked farm dust.

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The finish was finished and the outlook seemed bleak, but I could see the potential.  I have a general idea of how I will be refinishing it, but I can’t spoil the big reveal.  I have only made some progress, because until now I was doing all the sanding by hand, but I did rub some oil on what I did get done just to get a general idea of the natural color of the wood and I must say, it is STUNNING!

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So there’s your hint – I love the natural wood and I plan on accenting it rather than covering it.  This will not be your standard, cut-and-dry refinishing job.  This chair is going to make someone very happy when I am through with it!  Now that I have access to a palm-sized sander, I hope to have pictures up of the finished product in the coming weeks.

Anyone else done any refurbishing lately?

 

Pork Chop Gumbo!!

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Disclaimer:  This is a rather odd dish that I made in an effort to clean out the fridge.  I did, however, make every effort to make it absolutely delicious.  🙂

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Ingredients:

2 bone-in pork chops
5 cups water
1/2 of an onion, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can beans (I had Bush’s Honey Baked Beans on hand)
1 bag (12oz) gumbo veggies
1 can tomato sauce (not pictured)
1 tender sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
zest of one lemon
1tbs garlic salt
Black pepper to taste Cayenne to taste
Paprika to taste
One bay leaf (not pictured)
2 cups instant rice

To Begin:

Add the chopped onion, rosemary, one bay leaf, garlic salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, and lemon zest to about 5 cups of water and bring it to a boil.

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While waiting on the water to boil, we are going to do something revolutionary: cut the pork chops OFF THE BONE.  Yes, I know, its a little unconventional, but trust me.  Once the water boils, add the bones to help create a lovely stock.  Because my pork chops were so thick, I had to add another cup of water to completely cover the bones.

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After they have cooked completely, remove the bones and bay leaf and replace them with the cubed potatoes.  Allow them to cook while you cut up the meat from the pork chops. **

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Add the can of tomato sauce when you add the meat.

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Once the potatoes are almost done, add the bag of gumbo mix and the can of beans.  Because the temperature has been lowered so drastically, the next step will take a few minutes, but bring the pot to a roaring boil.

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When you feel that you are stirring the mouth of an active volcano, turn the heat off and add the rice.  (** If you opted to add another cup of water to the stock, consider adding an additional 3/4 – 1 cup of rice.)

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Stir in the rice completely and cover the pot.  Let it sit for 5+min so the rice can soak up all the lovely juices.

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There are several things that I would do differently next time.  I would like to have added a little Dijon mustard and Louisiana Hot Sauce to the stock, but we were out.  I would also have cooked the onion and spices in the bottom of the pot with some Cajun sausage, removed the sausage, THEN added the water to make the stock.  Also, the extra meat would have meant that the potatoes could be omitted.  It’s hard to complain, though, because this stuff is full of hearty goodness! 🙂

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Serve with a big piece of cornbread.

Early-Morning Explorations

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This morning, around 4:30am, it became obvious that I would NOT be going back to sleep.  After I got up and cooked breakfast, I noticed how beautiful the fog looked with the sun creeping up behind the trees.  Once I finished my coffee and gathered the gumption to go out into the cold, I was most certainly glad that I did.  There is really nothing like an autumn sunrise over a soybean field.

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There are two old barns on the property where I live and they are filled with a myriad of old things.

side view front barn

Some of these things are, to put it lightly, junk.

in the back barn

Other things, however, have a romantic, rusty charm to them.

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Defiance

As you can see, I have a “thing” for a sepia filter.

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Places like this have a sort of haunting allure about them.  I like to be right in the middle of all of that feeling, capturing as much as I can – usually with the camera on my phone.

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It can be so nice to disappear in abandoned or partially-abandoned places like this for a little while.  When the present world around us becomes too depressing, it’s nice to know that there are still silent havens for people like me out there.  The older I get, the more I believe that I was born in the wrong time.  When I poke around in places like this, I feel like I have a chance to visit with the ghost of days gone by and I am here to tell you that these places are simply waiting for someone with the courage and curiosity to show the world that the forgotten beauty is still there.