BAM Family

BAM Family

Monday, October 31, 2011

Meng Menu

Sunday: Papa John's Pizza
Monday: Cheeseburger Soup, bread
Tuesday:  Baked potatoes w/ chili, salad (going to try the baked potatoes in the crock pot idea while I'm at work)
Wednesday: Pan chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans
Thursday: Fried Rice with chicken and veggies
Friday: Spaghetti and meatballs, salad
Saturday: Wraps, chips, apple slices

May end up changing the Fri/Sat menu as my in-laws may be coming into town. But I only spend $120 this week! YEA!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meng Menu

Sunday: Chicken Parmesan Bundles, pasta, salad (we didn't end up having this on Saturday because we went out to eat. Score!)
Monday: Roasted Pork loin, rice, steamed broccoli
Wednesday: Small group potluck (bringing French Bread)
Thursday: Spinach and Sausage Ravioli, Greek Salad, Bread
Friday: Sloppy Joes, baked fries, apple slices
Saturday: Biscuits and Gravy, fruit salad 

Grocery shopping victory! TOTAL (drum roll, please....) $98!!! I guess I am making up for these past few weeks when I have gone over. Basically I am trying to use up a lot of left-overs and am trying to use our meats creatively. I bought a 4 lb pork roast last week and used it for the Pork Tacos on last week's menu. I have a lot of that pork left so I am making the Taquitos with it. Plus I am roasting the other half (sliced it lengthwise when I got it home from the store and froze both halves) on Monday. So, three meals from one roast. 

Plus I am doing double-duty on the spinach and sausage. The spinach is going into the Chicken Parm bundles AND the Spinach and Sausage Ravioli. And the sausage is two-timin' it in the Ravioli and Biscuits and Gravy. Being creative, my friends. That's what it's all about. At least when you are trying to shop on a budget. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Has Facebook distorted our view of "Friendship?": A Guest Post

This post was written by my student, Ashely Altis. I think her topic and writing are very applicable to today's culture. Please comment so she can get her some feedback on her writing (either here or on Facebook)! What do you think? Has Facebook cheapened our view of a "friend"? 

True Friends
By Ashley Altis

The word “friend” is a word that is of great importance in the world. The word is not one to be taken lightly or underappreciated. It is a title that carries much responsibility for the holder. However, many people in the world today seem to have forgotten this. Culture has shaped the word “friend” into one that boasts of much less importance than its true meaning. This has happened especially through the invention of Facebook. Since the coming of Facebook, the word has taken on a more shallow meaning in some ways. Facebook has reduced the meaning of the word “friend” to little more than that of a “fan” or “follower,” but a true friend is a person who stands by someone, is able to be there for that person in a real way, and is able to spend time with that person.

Culture has shaped the word “friend” and changed its meaning dramatically since the invention of Facebook. The meaning of the word “friend,” in terms of Facebook, has been reduced to one more like the meaning of a “fan” or “follower.” A “friend” is now someone that can be viewed on a computer screen with no face-to-face interaction required, and “friends” can view each other’s interactions with others over the internet. People can have friends that they have never even met before and ones they have only talked to a few times. They can also have some friends that they cannot even remember how they know. In real life, most people would not claim anyone who fell into any of those categories as a friend, but Facebook clearly defines this differently. “Friends” are now defined as people who can view each other’s profiles to “get to know” each other.

Because of Facebook, many people have distanced themselves from the true meaning of the word “friend” and taken on this newer and easier version of the word. If the Facebook meaning of the word "friend" is thought to be the real meaning, then people no longer have to try and work as hard at having friends. In fact, Junghyun Kim and Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee, writers of the article “The Facebook Paths to Happiness: Effects of the Number of Facebook Friends and Self-Presentation on Subjective Well-Being,” say it this way: “In the world of Facebook…it does not take much effort to become ‘friends’ with other Facebook users; once formed, the ‘friendship’ does not require strong attachment or close connections” (360). Thus, in the technological world of today, where people have become more accustomed to using technology for just about everything, being a Facebook friend is often easier and more convenient than being a real friend. Many people have resolved to take the easy way out, and in doing so, they have left behind true, meaningful, “in person” friendships.

Contrary to what many of those in the world of Facebook have come to believe, a true friend is a person who stands by someone and is able to be there for that person in a real way. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word like this: “One joined to another in mutual benevolence and intimacy” (“Friend” def. 1a.). Unlike many Facebook friends, a true friend is someone who is always there and can always be counted on. An “in person” friend can often provide much more help and comfort than a Facebook friend can with words on a computer screen. Facebook friends cannot give hugs, help someone up when she falls, or give any other form of physical connection from their computer screen. Real friends are able to share one another’s burdens, as well as laughter and happiness, in a more real way than friends on Facebook are able to. Unlike Facebook friends, an “in person” friend has the privilege and the chance of physically being there for someone. This kind of interaction gives real friends a more concrete quality that is unattainable by Facebook friends.

In addition, friends that are physically together are able to spend time together. They can go to the movies, have sleepovers, or have long conversations while lying out under the stars. Facebook friends, however, have a little more trouble doing this. A Facebook “friendship” mostly consists of chat conversations, wall posts, and commenting on things that the other person posts, “likes,” or uploads. Unless Facebook friends chat or message each other quite often, it can be hard to know what is really going on with a person. Most people on Facebook do not post about everything that is going on in their lives, especially the personal things, since everyone that is “friends” with a certain person on Facebook can see all that that person posts and does. Most people do not want to share the most personal parts of their lives with everyone, so they do not post about what is really going on in their lives. Thus, Facebook users are likely to be more disconnected from their friend’s “real” lives than “in person” friends are.

Although culture and the invention of Facebook have given new meaning to the word “friend,” it is imperative that people always remember what the true meaning of a friend really is. In a world such as today, where technology reigns and Facebook is a supreme form of communication, people can easily lose sight of this. However, the world cannot allow this to happen. “In person” friendships are a very important part of life. They are a more real and meaningful source of comfort and connection from one person to another. Without “real” friendships like these, people would be left with a more shallow and disconnected view of the world and what it means to be a “friend,” and they would never have the chance to experience the joy and richness that comes from having “true” friendships.

Works Cited

“Friend.” Def. 1a. Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. Print.

Kim, Junghyun, and Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee. “The Facebook Paths to Happiness: Effects of the Number of Facebook Friends and Self-Presentation on Subjective Well-Being.” CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 14.6 (2011): 359-364. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 September 2011.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Meng Menu

The Meng Menu is back! I feel like our life is finally getting back to normal after our hospital stay with Benji, Micah's surgery, and the boys' birthday. I actually made a menu last week but I didn't get organized enough to blog about it. It was too bad too because I used some great recipes that I would have loved to blog about. Maybe next time.

Sunday: Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed broccoli
Monday: Creamy Chicken pockets, garden salad, cantaloupe 
Tuesday: Frozen meal--thank you Stouffer's. 
Wednesday: Salmon patties, pasta dish, California veggies
Thursday: Slow cooker Mexican pulled pork w/ tortillas and taco fixin’s
Friday: Crispy Cheddar Chicken, rice, green beans
Saturday: Chicken parmesan bundles, pasta and sauce, caeser salad 

Ooo! Look at all those lovely links! I am really excited about trying some new recipes this week, namely the Creamy Chicken pockets and the Crispy Cheddar Chicken. Speaking of Crispy Cheddar Chicken, I forgot to buy Ritz crackers. GRR! I guess I'll have to pick up those and the cream of chicken soup I forgot (picked up chicken noodle It happens)

Grocery shopping was $130 this week but I am defending myself by noting all the non-food stuff I got, including copy paper for the printer ($6), craft glue, dishwasher soap, liquid dish soap, eye liner, vitamins for the boys, and chapstick. So....I'll forgive myself for going $5 over budget. 

BTW, I joined pinterest and have LOOOOOVED pinning recipes. It made putting together this blog post so much easier! My username on pinterest is menaglings. 

Happy Cooking this week! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cute Owl!

My second owl was a cute success! After gathering some ideas from pictures online, drafting a new pattern, and using felt to make the eyes and beak, I really love the end result! 
 Now I just need to fill out my hospital volunteer application and get the ball rolling to sew a few for kids at the  hospital. But I think this little owl will go to my niece Taegen for her first birthday (this Tuesday! I better get it in the mail ASAP!)
Same cute tail! 
Shake your tail-feathers, Taegen! You're turning one! :) 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ugly Owl: Sewing for a Cause

I made an ugly owl today. 

It wasn't supposed to be ugly. It was really my head. But it turned out ugly. Here it is. 
It looks a little like a devil. Maybe it's the horn like ears. Or the slightly scary looking eyes. 
The tail is cute! 
 This owl was my inspiration. It isn't that cute either (hence the one "in my head" was cuter but we all know how that turned out). 
This owl was given to us in the hospital after Micah had his surgery. During our time in the hospital over the past few weeks, we received many toys from the nurses and doctors. When we got this little owl, I realized right away that it was hand made and I thought, "I could make something like that!" ("and probably make something way cuter.")
 But we all know how that turned out
 This owl has a cute tail too.

So, my next owl will be cuter. And I will post a picture of that when it turns out (maybe it will be owl 3 or 4). But I want to sew some owls for our local hospital to give to kids who come in, maybe just for a few hours, or a few days. (I am in the application process with our local hospital to become a volunteer.) We received so much love and care from the nurses and doctors during our recent time in the hospital--and from the nameless person who gave her time to make sweet, soft toys for kids who were scared, bored, and anxious. 
Who knows? Maybe even my ugly owl might make a little child's day better. 

I hope so. 

Like I said, stay posted for hopefully cuter owls (and maybe kitties) in a future post. :) 

Happy 4th Birthday Micah and Benji!

My babies are four years old! WOW! Where did last four years go? 
(Awkward) Family picture with our big boys
We love our Grandma! 
Aaron's mom stayed with us for almost 2 weeks while we were dealing with Benji's hospitalization and Micah's surgery (see the bandage on his neck? He was doing great when this picture was taken, two days after surgery. He calls his neck "my new neck").
Birthday morning! Muffins with Cool Whip and candles. The boys were singing Happy Birthday to themselves. :) 
Blow out the candle!
Chocolate cake after dinner: 4 candles for each boy!
(I had a nice picture of the cake with the candles lit but unfortunately, my son was grabbing his crotch in that picture so...I decided not to post it...)
YUM! We love chocolate cake!
Who needs a fork?
Birthday Benj! 

Here's a few things about Micah and Benji at four years old:

Favorite Foods:
Benji: Eggs, string cheese
Micah: Anything (not a picky eater, that one). I actually just asked him what is favorite food was and he said "Thomas food." Which leads into our next fun fact.

Favorite Toys:
Both: Thomas the Train, Cars, Planes

Favorite TV shows:
Both: Caillou, Dinosaur Train, SuperWhy! 

Favorite Movies:
Toy Story (Benji does an awesome rendition of the Potato Head outtakes on Toys Story 2. "And a plastic steak! A rubber ducky? And some blue playdoh! Some teeth? Be careful! They chatter! Wooooah!) 
Veggie Tales 
And a host of others (they love to act out their favorite parts of the movies too)

Favorite Colors:
Micah: Green
Benji: (I just asked him and this is his answer) "Spencer. Spencer is a steam engine" That is Benji to a "T"

Micah: 30 lbs
Benji: 27 lbs

Not sure...we need to measure! 
But...short. :) 

Favorite thing to do:
Run around like crazy

Favorite Bedtime songs:
Micah: Create in me a clean heart (Psalm 51)
Benji: Spring Rain (Hosea 6:3)

Favorite Places to go:
Kids Cove
Pet store
Sweet Frog (frozen yogurt)
The Dollar Store

Other things they love:
Kitten the guinea pig
Curious George
Fish and fish tanks

We love you too, little guys! Happy Birthday! We can't believe you are four already!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poop Squirrel: A True Story

Scene: Meng Family riding in the car on the way home from church. Suddenly a very strong skunk smell fills the air.

Micah: I smell some-fing.
Mommy: That is a skunk.
Micah: No...that's not a skunk! That's a squirrel.
Mommy: A squirrel? No, a skunk made that bad smell.
Micah: No, not a skunk. That bad smell is a POOP Squirrel.
Mommy: (loosing it laughing) A poop squirrel?
Micah: Yes. A poop squirrel.

(...just the beginning of the poop stories and jokes of the day. Guess we have entered "that" stage.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Does my child have Pica?: Our Story

For the past few months I've had the nagging worry that something was not quite right with my almost- 4-year-old son, Benji. He would often say, "I feel sick" or "My tummy hurts." But because he would say these things before mealtime or bed time, I chalked it up to a rumbly, hungry tummy or feeling tired.

Still, that nagging worry remained. Because there was another issue I had to consider: He likes to eat non-food items, his favorite things being string, fabric, and paper products (toilet paper etc).

I had heard of Pica, the eating disorder where people crave and eat non-food items, but I thought, there is no way that is what is going on. A little online research revealed a list of things that Pica-eaters usually consume (dirt, clay, paint chips, plaster, chalk, cornstarch, laundry starch, baking soda, coffee grounds, cigarette ashes, burnt match heads, cigarette butts, feces, ice, glue, hair, buttons, paper, sand, toothpaste, soap) and, by golly, STRING was not on the list so we were safe.


To be EXTRA safe (or maybe just smart), I talked to my pediatrician about Benji's little habit a few weeks after it first started. He said that it might just be a phase but to keep an eye on him.

And I did. I watched him like a hawk. I never let him play by himself in another part of the house. I constantly told him "TAKE THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!"

My litmus test for the "seriousness" of the situation was if he still had a BM regularly. Hey, if things were passing through then it was ok, right? Doesn't EVERY kid eat weird stuff? Admit it, we all went though a stage where we ate play-doh and the paper lolly-pop sticks. And a little dirt never hurt anyone.


I was determined that my son would not be the next "victim" of "My Strange Addiction."

We talked to Benji' constantly about not eating non-food items. We told him it hurt is belly. We told him it was no fun to poop string (no fun for mom and dad either. I will leave it at that). He would cry and repeat our mantras. However, we still would catch him again. And again. And his woven baby blanket, lovingly named "Blankie" kept getting bigger and bigger holes in it.

Finally, after weeks or realizing that "Blankie" was the main culprit behind the string addiction, my husband and I realized that we need to take some drastic measures. We got a new blanket (fleece, no strings) and put "Blankie" away for good. Benji made the transition quite well but it was still hard (for me, especially!)

What was "possessing" my child so much that he could not stop eating string (and other things)? Punishing, talking, threatening, monitoring wasn't working. I was constantly worrying.

And last Sunday (Sept 25), the crap hit the fan, as they say. Benji's twin brother Micah came in our room at 6am and told us that Benji had "Big Spits" (throwing up). A bit of close examination revealed that it was not the stomach bug that was going around pre-school. Benji was throwing up strings, fabric, plastic, and paper. We quickly called our pediatrician who (to make a long story short) told us to see if the vomiting stopped and then to call back to make an appointment at 9am (when the office opened). Poor Benji could not keep anything down--water, crackers, nothing--and threw up for 3 hours. We called the doctor again at 9am and he told us that we should go the ER in Roanoke (an hour 15 minutes away) to get checked out (the reason being that our hospital does not have a pediatric GI specialist).

We made our trek to Roanoke at 10am and were in the ER until 4pm. The doctor who saw us seemed to think we were "those" parents, to some extent. You know, the parents who are over-reacting and over-protective because Benji didn't throw up once while we were there and, in a weird moment of self-revival, joked and laughed with the ER doctor while being examined ("My belly is like "squishy play-doh!" he laughed).

And X-ray revealed that his little GI system was full 'o poop. Full. With little white objects floating around in it that looked like confetti. Like a party in his intestines.

"Very interesting," the doctor said. "Very interesting."

They took blood, gave him IV fluids, and a prescription for a laxative medication. "His iron is a bit low" was the result. So we headed back to Lynchburg with a very sleepy boy.

When we got home, our normally bouncing-off-the-walls boy just laid on the living room carpet in a tiny little heap. He was gray. We tried to get him to eat a little bit. We managed to get his first dose of meds in him.

Then, right as we were putting him to bed, the throwing up started again. And again. He was limp, so tired and sick he could barely keep his eyes open. We called Roanoke again and talked to the GI doctor (whom we had NOT seen earlier that day but who had been consulting the ER doctor) and he told us to come back--after hearing how Benji was doing, he thought that Benji should not have been released earlier.

It was 9:30pm by this point and we loaded the whole family into the car with a few blankets for the boys and a toothbrush for me (they talked about admitting us over night) and headed back to Roanoke.

After a few more hours in the ER we were admitted to a room on the pediatric floor at 2am. Poor Benji looked and felt horrible. He had another IV and was back in diapers rather than big-boy underwear. I slept (sort of) beside him in the fold-out chair all night. Aaron and Micah scored a room at the Holiday Inn Express for $125 (ouch).

Benji was officially diagnosed with Pica and we ended up staying in the hospital for four days. He had an endoscopy (under anesthesia) to check for blockages in his stomach. Thank God there were none but his bowel was impacted and he had to have 3 enemas in one day and many doses of Miralax.

Holy crap-o-la. Enemas work. When they finally kicked in, that poop was epic.

(Sidenote: Funny/sad story. After the enema-day was over, every time we heard another kid crying (which was frequently), Benij asked if they were getting medicine in their bottom. Poor kid. Then, one time I suggested we pray for a child who was crying in the room next to us. Benji said, "I'll pray. Dear God, thank you for him to feel better. Help him with the medicine in his bottom. Amen."I can't tell that story without laughing but still, poor little guy. The "medicine in the bottom" will not be forgotten).

It turned out the Benji was SEVERELY anemic. His iron level was at a 12. Normal range is 50-120. There is a theory that states that craving and eating non-food items is caused by iron deficiency. And like-wise, eating non-food items can cause iron-deficiency. A vicious cycle. Needless to say, we are hoping (and praying!) that by treating the anemia, we will help treat the cravings as well.

I wish I had asked the pediatrician to check his blood levels for low iron the first time I suspected pica. Maybe we could have started treating this sooner.

Of course, the next question that all parents would ask in this situation would be, how did my child get anemic in the first place? A unique situation came to our minds: Benji (and his twin brother) had his tonsils out at the beginning of the summer. Benji was one of the rare patients who had post-op bleeding (you can read about that "adventure" here). He lost a fair amount of blood that day but not enough to need a transfusion. But maybe just enough to make him anemic--and start the pica cycle. Just a theory on our part but, I believe, a logical one.

I realize that blood loss is a unique situation for most kids when thinking about the underlying "causes" of pica. Many children who have pica have other developmental challenges such as autism or mental retardation (neither of which are related to Benji). Some kids have OCD (we think Benji may be, a little bit) and like the taste and texture of non-food items. For other kids, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to why they start to eat "strange things."

This is what is so scary about pica. Parents want reasons. They want solutions--NOW. And a lot of times there seems to be nothing they can do.

The good news, for us, is that the enemas and laxatives worked and are working (Benji is still taking meds every day. We've been home from the hospital for exactly one week). Though we still have to monitor him closely and remind him not to eat string (etc), he has been able to poop every day and his appetite has sky-rocketed. In fact, he has gained one pound in one week. WOW! We are finally seeing 27 pounds on the scale (he is a tiny boy). He takes his iron supplement like a champ and when we have our follow up with the GI specialist on October 21st, I am sure the deficiency will be gone. (UPDATE: it took several months of iron therapy to reduce the deficiency).

I hope the cravings for string and other things will fade away with the anemia. That's the other good news: the vast majority of kids grow out of pica.

Thank God. I can now readily accept that my son has pica (a very real eating disorder) but I really don't want to be on "My (Child's) Strange Addiction." 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kitten the Guinea Pig

We got a guinea pig! 
We had been talking about getting one since earlier this summer after we pig-sat for my friend Debbie's guinea pig, Keat. The boys had such a good time playing with Keat (and Aaron and I did too!). 

After Polly died we knew that we wanted to get a new pet eventually and talked about getting a guinea pig for the boys' birthday. Well, the big day is a week from today and while we were out running errands today (sans kids, OH, how nice!) we stopped into PetSmart to price everything. 
Pretty soon we were saying, "Well? Should we get one today? Why not!"
So here is our guinea pig!
We set up his super-cool cage (made even more super cool by the fact that it was on sale) while the boys napped and then eagerly waited for them to wake up. 
Benji woke up first and went right toward the cage. "It's a 'piggy-pig!'" He said, excitedly. 
And Micah said the same thing when he got up. You would think they were twins or something. 
 I asked Benji what we should name the "piggy-pig" and he promptly said: 
 So, "Kitten" it is. 
 This is Kitten, our sweet little guinea pig.
 Hello, Kitten!
 He is so soft. 
 He is a little shy and a little freaked out by our crazy-almost-four-year-olds. But he loves to snuggle in the boys' laps on top of a blanket (because "he has sharp claws!" as the boys say).

But we hope that our sweet "piggy-pig" Kitten will be a great addition to the Meng Household. 

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