small things and the Indiana State Fair {GIVEAWAY!}

A couple weeks ago in church, I was kind of put in my place.

See, I’ve always been very irritated with how poor people eat. I’m not gonna lie. Standing in line behind someone using food stamps to purchase crap food has always been a huge struggle for me. And I was always so confused why women couldn’t figure out what WIC vouchers cover.

And then my eyes were opened by one comment at church: People who live in poverty don’t have access to grocery stores that provide good food choices – they live by gas stations and convenience stores.

So I started doing some research. I found my zip code in Indianapolis (46202) has the highest percentage of population below the poverty level. Poverty

Want to know something even crazier? There’s only ONE major grocery store in my ENTIRE zip code. One Kroger that we lovingly call GK (Ghetto Kroger) or Kroghetto. Not a single Marsh, Meijer, Aldi or Target. When I search for “grocery stores in Indianapolis 46202″ only Kroghetto shows up. How are people living in poverty, heavily relying on public transportation, shopping at grocery stores with healthy food options? They simply aren’t.

To research further, I looked at the WIC food requirements. Have you seen them?! Holy details Batman. Take a look: http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/WIC_Program_Booklet_English.pdf. Seriously. Just take a few minutes and look at the requirements of what you can purchase with WIC. Two examples:

  1. You can only buy a dozen large or extra large white eggs (not medium, not 1/2 dozen, not brown, not cage free, not even the brand Eggland’s Best).
  2. You can only buy peanut butter in 16 – 18 oz. jars and you cannot buy: spread, organic, mixed with jelly, marshmallow, honey, Smucker’s Natural, Fifty 50, Jif Omega 3, Smart Balance, Krema, Better’n Peanut Butter, Health Valley, Reese’s, or even natural peanut butter.

These are only two examples. There are so many restrictions on even healthy items you can buy it would take a crazy amount of time to plan and then also to shop. It makes my head swirl and I’m a completely competent, seasoned, healthy food grocery shopper. Add taking your kids with you to the grocery store with you and I think I might lose it. For real.

So when I read about easy simple ways I can help my community feed those who are hungry, I get excited. Insert another thing I get (overly) excited about: the Indiana State Fair. Put them together?! YEEHAW!!!

Indiana State Fair attendees who follow the Indiana’s Family of Farmers (IFOF) Recipe Trail at the fairgrounds will help feed the hungry (and receive a kitchen towel printed with a food safety tip). For each person who finishes the trail, IFOF partners with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH) to donate one pound of food to food banks across the state. Last year, recipe trail travelers donated $8,372 worth of food. Let’s do better this year.

All you have to do is collect recipe cards from 10 locations around the fairgrounds and bring them to the IFOF booth at the DuPont Food Pavilion where you’ll receive your towel and get counted as a donor of a pound of food. (Extra perk: The booth also features a chance to register for a grand prize of a Frigidaire® chest freezer.)

One side of the IFOF recipe card features a recipe from a real farmer around Indiana and highlights Indiana’s commodities such as pork, beef, poultry, soybeans, corn and dairy, along with an Indiana wine pairing. (Yay!) On the reverse side of the card, fairgoers will meet the farmer and read a personal story from his or her family.

You can find the recipe cards at:

  • Exposition Hall (Rose Acre Farms booth)
  • DuPont Food Pavilion (3 stops: Purdue, Indiana Beef, Indiana Wine & Grape Council)
  • Habitat for Humanity Ag House
  • Indiana Farm Bureau Building
  • Glass Barn
  • Normandy Barn
  • Pathway to Water Quality
  • Final stop/recipe redemption point: IFoF booth at DuPont Food Pavilion

While I know going to the state fair and completing the recipe trail isn’t going to fix poverty, it *is* going to help. What’s that saying? Sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact? I mean, you’re already going to the fair, so you might as well do a small recipe trail. It’ll have an impact. I promise.

OH WAIT! You don’t have tickets to the state fair yet?! LUCKY FOR YOU because, thanks to my fine friends at Indiana’s Family of Farmers, I have a 4-pack of Indiana State Fair tickets to give away! (Which opens FRIDAY by the way! YEEHAW!!!)

All you have to do is leave a comment telling me your favorite thing about the Indiana State Fair. Easy peasy, but required.

Want additional entries? Earn up to two additional entries by completing each of the following:

  • Share this post on Facebook (and come back leaving me a comment telling me you did so).
  • Follow me on Twitter (@katieunscripted) and tweet about this giveaway, linking back to this post. (Something like “Win 4 tickets to the @IndyStateFair where you can do the @FamilyofFarmers recipe trail benefiting @FeedINsHungry. http://wp.me/p2QiXQ-m2″) Again, come back and leave me a link to your tweet.

(Sorry, while you’re welcome to share and tweet all you’d like about this giveaway, only one FB share and one tweet will count. Giveaway runs from now until 11:59pm on Friday, August 1st. Winner will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. No exceptions.)

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Disclosure: As an IFOF Ambassador, I received four tickets to attend the Indiana State Fair and four tickets for this giveaway. This is a sponsored post. Though, as always, all thoughts and opinions are completely mine. (Let’s be honest – my love for the fair isn’t news to anyone.)

(a different kind of) porch party

Oh boy, here it comes…

I’m angry. Like really angry. Like really, really angry.

I’m involved in a conversation online that I should never have entered. I take that back. I’ve been steaming about it for awhile now and I finally said a tiny bit of my opinion and it’s spiraling and I’m starting to shake.

Here’s the final straw that made me enter the conversation about this ongoing issue I’ve been seeing consistently in our neighborhood online group recently:tipping point

I know there have been quite a few break-ins throughout our neighborhood. (We were one, remember?) I know that crime is crazy in Indianapolis right now. I read it. I see it. I feel it. I feel a pull at my heart that the people in my city don’t value life right now. That they don’t respect others in (and out of) their community. I feel it hard.

I understand being on edge. I understand feeling hypersensitive. Shoot, I called 911 Saturday night because we thought someone was breaking into our house when it turned out to actually be a huge raccoon scaling up the downspout to our 2nd story. (For what, we have NO idea.)

But let me tell you this. If you, FOR ONE INSTANT, think that profiling the people that look different than you isn’t just as harmful to our city, you are VERY, VERY WRONG. (If I could bold that more I totally would.)

Be alert. Watch out for your neighbors. But calling the cops about a “black man walking down the alley looking through trash cans” and posting about it to the ‘hood is going to far. It’s not illegal, first of all. And you’re throwing it away, so who cares?! I mean, obviously you, but COME ON.

And you keep seeing “homeless people” walking around the ‘hood? You must have good conversations with them if you find out they’re homeless. Oh, you don’t actually KNOW they’re homeless, you just think they LOOK homeless?

And freaking out because a pick-up truck is just sitting in the alley in the middle of the day and there’s no driver in it and now you feel scared and want people to make sure all their doors are locked? Hmmm…

If you moved to the north side of downtown because you thought it was all cool and hip and wealthy and white and perfect, you should have done some more research. It *is* cool and hip (and often wealthy and white) but it’s also extremely diverse and different and totally UNPERFECT. Which is exactly why we’re here. Don’t ruin it for us by freaking out every time someone walks on your public sidewalk.

So I’m checking out of this neighborhood online group. And I’m just going to talk to people at the park. And on walks. And while I weed my front flower beds. porch party

Oh, and on my porch. Where I’ll sit and drink if I want. And because I look like you, will never have the cops called on me. It’s way more fun than reading people freak the freak out over people who look different than they do.

 

I had intended to write this beautiful post about community and the city-wide porch party that took place on Sunday, but this is what came out instead. Oops…

a safe place

Sunday evening, at 5:45, Adam called me out to the side yard. He says “Come look at this.” Oh no. Instantly I was nervous. The last time he said that to me the ceiling in our living room was falling down. Remember that?

He points up, to our bedroom window. Slowly I lifted my eyes and they settled on this.Bird nest

Oh THANK GOD, it’s only a bird. Then this happened: Oooh! Oooh! Let’s all go see the birdy!

IMG_6933 (1280x960)

Adam’s instant plan was to just push the bird off and knock the nest down. But she wouldn’t budge. He pushed through the air conditioner panels and she just turned and looked at him. She had no plan on moving. Immediately I knew there was a reason. She must have a baby in there.

So I started stalking her. Checking every time I thought about it. Fully expecting her to fly away at some point so I could peak in her nest to confirm my baby intuition. But she hasn’t moved. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. that I’ve checked (which I won’t tell you the number because it would be embarrassing) she’s been sitting there.

But then I saw it. A little head poked out from under mama and then snuggled back under her. See it? See it’s little beak sticking out? “Mama” as I call her now, just wanted a safe place for her baby.
IMG_6938 (1280x960)

As do I, Mama. This we have in common.

This afternoon, while Alaina was babysitting Isaac and Cami (Lucas was at a friend’s), I get a frantic call from Alaina telling me she thinks someone’s in the house. She’s locked the three of them up in her room and is telling me that the (enclosed) porch screen window frame has been bent up and inside the porch and that right before she heard that happen, she heard footsteps outside.

Luckily I was less than a mile away, so I drove home, praying, keeping her on the phone with me, calmly telling her “I’m sure it’s nothing. I’m sure it was just the wind moving the window.” And she kept telling me “No. No. I saw the window, It’s not from the wind.”

And she was right. Someone had definitely tried breaking in.

So after having Alaina open her window so I could see and hear her, I called 911. Several minutes later (SEVERAL, LIKE WAY TOO MANY) a police car (leisurely, without sirens) rolls up. He goes into the house first, walking the first floor, yelling police things, then tells me to have the kids come downstairs and then he’d walk the second story once they were out.

All was fine. No one in the house. Nothing out of order. Nothing stolen off the porch even. (We’re pretty certain he/she was going after our bikes on the porch.) My guess is that the jerk could see someone in the house once he/she started in the window and then took off. But not without first scaring the crap out of my kids. And me.

See, Mama’s got it right. She’s not moving, even though she’s got to feel threatened by me being inches away from her and her baby (WAY too often). She’s standing firm. I’m positive that she knows that there’s a threat of danger EVERYWHERE. Anywhere she built that nest or flew that baby would have a possibility of something bad happening. So she stays put.

As will we. Just as we’ve said before, we’ll say it again. We’re staying put. We’ll move our bikes and shut our windows of course, but we’ll be visible. We’ll still have porch parties. We’ll play outside just as we did yesterday and we’ll help our ‘hood by staying committed.

 

The girls are good. We’ve talked a lot about what happened today. They feel okay about what happened. They think it’s pretty funny that Alaina almost had to poop in a trashcan in her room because I wouldn’t let them leave until the police arrived. But we’ll take your prayers for continued mental well-being. :)

How to cut a watermelon

One of the reasons I often don’t buy produce that isn’t pick-up-and-eat-ready is that it’s a pain in the rear to prepare it. I’m talking to you, pineapple and all melons.

But I’ve figured out a super easy and quick way to cut a watermelon and now it’s one of our summer staples (especially since you can regularly find them for $3.99 at Aldi!).

First, I cut my watermelon on a cookie sheet so that the juice doesn’t run all over the counter and onto the floor. So grab a cookie sheet and a large knife and cut your watermelon in half.

How to Cut a Watermelon

Then watch this video for a quick demonstration.

Excuse my chopped off head. Heh. My next video will be better. Promise. (I’m planning my next produce-cutting video already – bell peppers are up next! Riveting stuff, huh?)

On another note, I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since I wrote last. With the end of school and a family vacation this month, it’s been busy and time totally got away from me. I wrote a lot in my head. Sometimes it’s better that way. But I’ve been itching to get back to writing here, so I promise it won’t be another month before I post again.

I hope you’re doing well. Anything new you want to share with me? I like updates. :)

 

in the dark

it seems fitting that Isaac is kind of a mess tonight. Sleeping poorly. Bursts of tears. Wanting to be comforted but then quickly feeling the need to stretch out on his mattress and not be bound by my lap and arms. And then starting the cycle all over again 20 min later.

It was a long day for me. I felt a similar feeling of being unsettled or uncomfortable or just wanting the opposite of whatever was happening.

As I was sitting in Isaac’s dark room earlier I tried to take a picture but this is all the phone camera would capture. in the dark

Instead of a dark room filled with glimpses of light from an ark nightlight illuminating a little boy, who just couldn’t figure how to feel settled, being rocked by his tired momma, it shows only darkness. It feels lonely.

and as I showered before coming to bed tonight, I was thinking of this picture. What I could see and wanted to capture, was instead dark and alone. And I realized that the reason today has been so hard is because I was trying to do it all alone.

I woke up and started my day and I don’t remember once asking for God’s help. So tomorrow I start by simply asking God to be with me every step of the way. I think I’ll finish tonight with the same praye since Isaac has been crying on and off for the last 2 hours. I think I’ll need it.

the truth shall set you free

As you know, Mother’s Day was a bit rough for me. And I’m not gonna lie – the following day seemed just as difficult – but for one primary reason. Alaina.

One of the hardest parts for me to get past was that Alaina hadn’t told me Happy Mother’s Day. And I was holding onto that big time. Adam asked me if I had spoken to her about it – told her how it made me feel. The answer was a solid NO. I knew her response would be “Oh. I didn’t mean to not say it.” But Adam pushed back and after another day of thinking about it, I decided to share with her how it made me feel.

I simply told her that it hurt my feelings. And she responded exactly as I knew she would. And then she apologized and I could see it was sincere. I explained to her that she wasn’t in trouble, that I didn’t want to make her feel bad. I just wanted to her to understand how it made me feel – the only way I knew how to do that was to compare it to her birthday. And when i asked her how she would feel if I didn’t tell her “Happy Birthday” and just treated the day like every other, I could instantly see a change in her understanding.mom & daughter

And suddenly I felt like our relationship changed. Maybe change isn’t the right word. Turned a corner. Yes, that’s more like it. Our relationship turned a corner. Where now it wasn’t just a one-way street. That she understood that our relationship was indeed just that. A relationship. Two people. Interacting with each other. Impacting each other. Caring for each other.

I feel a sense of freedom. To be a bit more myself with her maybe. To let her see who I am besides just her mom. And it feels good. I encourage you to try it. To be a bit vulnerable with your tween. It was super scary. I’m not gonna lie. But I’m going to stick with it because I think it will lead to more corners to be turned.

Lies, comparisons and Mother’s Day

I’m not gonna lie – today has been hard. For some reason this Mother’s Day just didn’t feel right.

My oldest never once told me “Happy Mother’s Day.”

I was up at 6:15am with a feverish baby, so no sleeping in and no breakfast in bed. Alaina said to me about 8:15am: “We would have made you breakfast if you would have slept in longer.” Um, thanks.

Because of feverish baby, just the girls and I went to church (which was actually really wonderful, one of the highs of my day). We didn’t go out to dinner, but ordered Chinese take-out for me and Alaina and Adam got him and the other two burgers & fries. Not quite the Mexican and margarita I had been craving and looking forward to all week.

And so tonight I decided to run to McD’s for a hot fudge sundae and as I ordered, the intercom guy told me the ice cream machine wasn’t working. So I settled for a Frosty from Wendy’s, which is not what I wanted, but is helping a bit.

Here’s the thing: it’s not just the list above that made today hard. It’s the comparison I made to how the kids treat Adam.

I know, don’t go there, but already gone…

EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. the kids run to Adam when he walks in the door from work, fighting for who will get the first hug, screaming “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” EVERY. SINGLE. FATHER’S DAY. they are planning on what they want to do for him for weeks in advance. Wanting to make cards and bouncing idea after idea off me of what we could get for him. They tell him “Happy Father’s Day” several times during the day.

I can’t remember when someone ran to me when I walked in the door for any other reason than to ask me if they could have a snack or have screen time. (Okay, so Isaac is always happy to see me, but he doesn’t really count in this.) And I didn’t get a single handmade card other than the ones daycare made my boys make for me.

Maybe this only happens at my house. Maybe I’m the only one making the comparison and feeling let down and saddened by it.

But I doubt it. I bet I’m not the only one feeling this way tonight.

So here’s what I really want to share. The most important part of this entire post. READ ONLY THIS IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE: Don’t find your worth in your kids. Find it in who God made you to be, in His image, in His love, perfectly YOU. Because you will always be disappointed if you find your worth in anything else. Your kids will fail you. Your spouse will fail you. Your parents will fail you. Your friends will fail you. YOU will fail you.

Praying that I would learn to find my worth in Jesus and not in people or things is the only thing that saved me today. I prayed it over and over. Over and over I kept going back to wondering if Alaina would wish me “Happy Mother’s Day” and over and over I had to keep reminding myself that my worth comes from the Lord. The maker of heaven and earth.

Don’t believe the lies you hear in your head. The comparisons you draw. Let me speak truth to you before I finish: You are loved by a divine and perfect father who loves you for every ounce of who you are. 

Find your worth in *that* alone. He will not fail you. Not once.

 

(I didn’t write this as a woe-is-me type of post. Please don’t take it that way. I just needed to be honest about today and know I’m not the only one who probably felt this way today.)