Friday, December 30, 2011

Checking things off

Yesterday was a much more motivating day - well, at least the morning was!  As normal, I start my Thursday morning with my TOPS meeting.  I gained 1.25 lbs this week, but I guess that's not too bad considering it was over Christmas.  Coulda been worse!!!  Especially if I wouldn't have had my workouts in!  I didn't get them everyday, but did get them more often than not.  I was just a couple pounds short of my 25 pound year-end goal - I finished the year's meetings down a total of 22.5 pounds.  Not bad considering I was pregnant most of that time!  Time to think about what my goal should be for the next year since we do a 'rededication' at the first January meeting.  I definitely want to hit the 25 pound mark before my 1 year anniversary with TOPS, which is March 24 (Beau's birthday!)

**When I was getting ready to go to my TOPS meeting, I went out to start the car and realized I didn't have my Bluetooth with.  I had left it on the counter since the battery was dead.  Since I was going to be in the car, I prefer to use it so my hands are free.  I went back in the house and was looking all over the counter and couldn't find it at first.  Then I found an old key chain that had been hanging on the hooks over the counter.  The key chain was laying on my Bluetooth.  It was a Guardian Angel key chain. I think someone was leaving me a sign that he knew I was thinking of him :) **

I got a lot done yesterday too!!  I went to my favorite consignment store, where I thought I had about $6 on credit, cuz Scrappy needs another pair of jeans (I recently realized having only 1 pair of jeans is not sufficient for him since khakis don't match everything and sweatpants aren't always appropriate.)  Turns out I had over $10 - a nice surprise!  Since it is the end of the year, she cut me a check for my credits, which I used to pay for his jeans ($5 for a pair of almost new Wranglers?  Works for me!)  I made an appointment while I was there to bring some stuff in next week.  I was surprised she got me in so soon since it's normally 1-2 months out!!  She's looking for 'springtime' stuff, and will always take jeans.  Since cleaning out my storage unit, I've found a lot of clothes that didn't sell at my past garage sales.  These things would be perfect to take up there - just have to make sure they're washed first.  And she has a limit of 50 items per appointment, so once I sort through the clothes I'll have to count what I have.  I know I'll need to make an appointment to take in some summer stuff, maybe a second appointment for spring stuff and/or jeans.  My appointment is for January 5.  The Epilepsy Foundation will be picking up on January 4, so anything I'm not taking to consignment is going to them.  Hubby reminded me to go through the stuff up to 2T so that if/when we have another little one, we have some clothes for him/her.  I found a few old onesies belonging to Scraps that I'm going to hold on to.  I have an 18 gallon tote full of maternity and baby clothes along with other miscellaneous items, like bottles, liners, pumping equipment, etc. 

After the consignment shop, I headed to pay the balance on the property taxes and picked up the other 5 cans of Scrappy's DuoCal.  Went to Shopko to pick up his prescription, but turns out insurance won't cover the saline nebulizer solution.  It's only $19 for 100 vials though.  Too bad I only had $5 on me though, so I couldn't pick it up.

I called hubby as I was leaving town to see if he had plans for lunch since I was coming to town to get the kids.  He didn't so he ordered pizzas to be ready when I got to town since Grammy and Opa had treated us last week and since they had watched the kids.  I told hubby I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon, so just asked if he stop and pick up the meds on his way home.  (As it turned out, insurance wouldn't cover mine prescription either, so they had to find a generic and order it in for next day delivery.)

I've been having a lot of pain in my side, next to where my incision is, and there doesn't seem to be any logical reason.  There's no redness and there's no actual injury (cut, rash, anything).  And I didn't know if my incision was healing since I've had a yeast infection in the skin around it.  My doc was out, so I saw is Physician's Assistant.  The yeast infection seems to be clearing up, there is one small spot on my incision that is still open, but looks ok, and he couldn't feel or see anything that would leave him to believe I had an infection.  He thinks the pain is due to nerve damage from the surgery.  We are going to try a topical cream to see if that helps.  If it doesn't, then we'll try with a pill.  I told him I just need something to get through until I have my next OB appointment at Mayo on January 10.  So we'll see what happens.  (I'll have to wait until hubby gets home though.  I have anxiety issues when driving in bad weather - it started raining about the time I went to bed last night, and now has turned to snow.  Which means the roads are slick.  And there are too many idiots out there.  He can just pick it up on his way  home - hopefully!)

By the time we got home, I just wanted to relax.  I was exhausted, but I'm sure it's because I had such awful heartburn I didn't get to bed until after 2, then Scraps woke me up at 6:30.  I love my kids, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I just wish they would sleep - or at least let me sleep.  I was trying to nap while they were watching cartoons and putting puzzles together, but every time I closed my eyes, all I hear is "Mo-om!" as Beau loves to make it into a 2 syllable word. Grrr.  I didn't do anything after getting home except to make supper then lounge again in my recliner.  After hubby got home, I did nap a little bit, then read a little before heading to bed.  My whole body just ached and I didn't know why - just hoped I wasn't getting sick!!

I guess missing a workout really does show!  I didn't do my workout Wednesday because of the all the work with the freezer/refrigerator, and yesterday was too busy and I was too tired.  This morning the kids were begging to play their Monster Jams Wii game, so I figured I better get my workout done before they take over the TV.  I used it as bribery for treatments this morning too :)  So while Scrappy did his vest, I did 51 minutes on the Fit Plus - and I was sweating :)  And my body feels SO much better - especially my back!!

I need to get lunch going for the kids - we're having leftovers.  Going to make an easy supper too - a Banquet family meal we have in the freezer.  Then I can get a little more done around the house today without having to worry about making a mess or taking much time on supper.  Have a lot of sorting to do before the EF comes to pick up! (Plus, since they take stuff in garbage bags, I'll be cleaning out some totes so I have more of them to use for other things!!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What has gotten into me?

Geez, my to-do list hasn't been getting checked off like it should be... and believe me, it's a LONG to-do list!!  I'm really good at making lists of what needs to be done, just not so good at getting it done. 

Yesterday I thought I was on a roll!!  The kids and I were up at a decent time.  We had to be out of the house by 815 to go to our WIC appointment and pick up Scrappy's PediaSure, drop off the last part of the property tax payment at the courthouse, get pull-ups for the little man, then get a few groceries and pick up a receipt from a client.  Pretty simple to do since I had to have the kids out anyway.  Just one trip and get everything done.  Right?

Yeah right.  Things are never that easy.

Got to the WIC appointment a few minutes early.  The receptionist looked at me funny when I told her I had an appointment.  The Public Health Nurse I was supposed to see was working in her office and wasn't prepared to see anyone.  Just my luck, right?  Um, WRONG!  My appointment was actually supposed to be today - maybe I should have looked at my calendar before I left the house?  Haha but that would be too easy!  She still saw me, the appointment just ended up taking a little bit longer than normal.  We also got Scrappy's 297 cans of PediaSure (3 month supply) and 1 can of DuoCal - they'd call when the other 5 cans come in.

Ok, done there.  Hubby forgot to leave me the check for the property taxes, but that's ok, just postpone that errand until... today... tomorrow...  Off to Walgreens for their brand pull-ups - we find that they work better than the name brand and we don't really care for the WalMart generics.  WalMart's don't seem to contain Scrappy's messiness - way too many blowouts!  We try to stock up on them when they're on sale.  Since they weren't, I only picked up one package. Of course, all I hear throughout the store from Scraps is "Mommy, I want a balloon!!  I want a Spongebob balloon!"  I dragged him toward the checkout.  Beau is following me with "Mom, can we get a treat?  We want a snack.  Please?"  Nope, just getting pull-ups and going!  While we're standing at the checkout, Beau starts chasing Scrappy around the store.  Then he decides he wants to examine everything conveniently placed near the checkout that would attract a child's attention.  Couldn't wait to leave!!!

Grocery store - LAST place to stop!  Needed the WIC necessities, along with the veggies and fruit.  And it never hurts to check the quick sale cooler since I was going to Nelson's.  I've discovered that shopping for meat there is best when I go between 8 and 10am weekdays.  Usually they have just marked down all of the "Reduced for Quick Sale" meats - all the meat that is close to expiration date.  I've found some pretty good deals there!  On this trip, I picked up a 2-pack of split chicken breasts, 2 1-lb packages of pork cutlets, a pork roast, 3 2-packs of chicken leg and thigh quarters, and a 4-pack of chicken thighs.  All of this meat was only about $15.  Pretty good deal!!  I put everything right into the freezer so it would keep.  Really wish my vacuum sealer worked so I could prolong the life of the food.  The other big savings there?  Frozen veggies.  1 lb bags for only $0.68.  I had a WIC voucher for $10 in fruits and veggies, so this was an awesome buy!!!

I was trying the pantry challenge last week. That wasn't working too well for us since my husband doesn't always like it when I experiment.  He usually tries what I make, but that doesn't mean he likes it.  And I've noticed leftovers haven't been getting eaten at our house lately.  I don't know why....  They like the food the first time around.  They never had a problem with leftovers before.  With the kids, I can put out what I want them to eat and that's all they get.  With hubby, if he doesn't like what I make, he can make his own food (and often does).

I'm still trying to cook just with what's in the house.  There are a few things here and there we need but I'm trying to make due without making a special trip to the store.  Last night, leftovers were the menu.  Tonight, breakfast for supper :)  Pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, and kiwi.  Scraps had banana instead of kiwi.  The kids love syrup on their pancakes, but I opted for homemade pumpkin butter - sooo yum without being over sweet!

So what did I get done today?  Nothing on my to-do list, and really seems like not much overall, but feels like I worked my butt off, which I kinda did (and I'm counting it as some exercise just in case I don't get my workout in!!)  I defrosted and inventoried my 7 cubic foot chest freezer, hauling all the food out to the garage to keep it cold until I refilled the freezer.  I scrubbed it all out with bleach and warm water and made a huge mess on the floor, but oh well!  While the basement freezer was chilling again, before I filled it, I decided to clean out the upstairs freezer so I could have more useful food up here, and inventoried what was in there too.  Then I figured, well, since I cleaned the freezer, I might as well clean out the fridge too.  I don't know the last time that was done!  Originally I was just going to clean out the old food.  That turned into taking out all the shelves and drawers and scrubbing the inside of the fridge, complete with peeling some caramel off the bottom of the inside.  (Don't ask me how that got there!!  I haven't the slightest idea!)  Man does my fridge look empty!

The rest of my house is a mess.  I need to get it straightened up somewhat before hubby gets home.  It's gonna be another late night for him at work again tonight.  He says he'll be home earlier tomorrow so I can get some of my paperwork done since I can't seem to get much done with the kids here.  It's funny, but I can actually get more done when Beau is at school and I just have Scraps home.....

Got a pleasant surprise from the hubs the other day.  I jokingly asked how he liked my blog, not thinking that he had actually read it.  To my surprise, I found out he has been reading it.  He said he wanted to see how my day had gone. 

Awwww, isn't that sweet :)

Monday, December 26, 2011


It's the day after.  Everything is simmering down.  For the next week I have both children home.  We may be getting to go play outside later this week because of the unusually warm Minnesota weather - it's been over 40 degrees!!  A Christmas without snow makes it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit though.  I haven't been feeling it much this year.

However, I am happy to know I am partially responsible for giving someone the best Christmas present they wanted:  My mom wanted all 4 of us kids together for a picture, and also our kids and significant others.  It's the first time all of us kids have been together (other than Little Warrior's funeral, but that was not the time or place to do it) since my husband and I got married a little over 4 years ago.  Here we are (and yes, most of us are in pajamas since that was the theme this year.  My hoodie and pj pants were the best I was going to be able to do.... hubby passed on the pj idea):

I know the two pictures look almost the same, but as I was checking them out, I noticed something interesting.  Look in the first picture, you may notice some floating spots or orbs in the picture and one right above my husband's head.  In the second picture, we see the orbs again, and this time there is one right on my stomach. 

Now, I'm not majorly superstitious, but I've learned that there are signs in life and it's a matter of if we choose to see or not to see them.  Like I had said last week, I believe that the sun coming out to shine was a sign that our Little Warrior was watching over us and knew we were there to visit him.  I think the orbs in these two pictures are there for a reason.  I think it's his way of letting us know that he knows we're thinking about him and he was there with us.  I think God lets those special people close to us give us signs that they're ok and they're watching over us when we need that comfort and peace.  I told my mom that I thought it was sign from him, and she thinks so too.   When I asked my husband about the orbs, he laughed at me and told me that people would think he was strange if he said what he thought.  But that's because he agreed with me and thought the same.  We have our own guardian angel watching over us.

I spent a somewhat 'lazy' day today with Scrappy hanging out at home.  Beau spent the night having a sleepover with our cousins and rode home with Daddy when he got off work.  Wait - I take back that 'lazy' comment.  I don't think getting 1 1/2 hour workout in counts as lazy, even though it was fun and it was with my new Wii Fit Plus game.  My stomach (someday possibly to be known as my 'abs' - if they truly are buried in there somewhere!!! lol!!) is a little sore from working those muscles.  I've been hesitant to do any abdominal exercises for the past few weeks, but since it's been 6 weeks since my surgery, I thought it should be ok now to try at least a little.  Especially since I consider that to be one of my 'problem areas.'

Since both kids are home for the next week, I have a lot less running to do on a daily basis.  I do have an appointment tomorrow morning, and since we'll be out we need to drop off some payments and run to the grocery store for milk.  I try to only make one trip out, or go when I pick Beau up or drop her off at school I try to get all my running done then and schedule appointments accordingly.  It really makes things easier if I already have Scrappy in the car and don't have to get him out and in the house, take off his coat, hat, and boots, then put them all back on 15 minutes later.

I also told Beau that we need to sort through and get rid of some of her and Scrappy's old toys.  They got plenty of new toys for Christmas, so some things have to go to make room for the new.  They have WAY too many toys.  When I have my garage sale in the spring, there are going to be PLENTY of toys to go.  I'm not going to bother with all the stuffed animals and a lot of the small stuff.  Thankfully the Epilepsy Foundation will be picking up next week, so hopefully I can get a bag or a few bags out for them.

**Note to self - (Since I'm thinking of it right now, I'm gonna write it so I don't forget)... After the 1st of the year, I am going to need to keep better documentation of a few things for tax purposes, especially because of my business.  I need mileage for both vehicles as of January 1.  I'm going to keep a binder with all of Scrappy's medical appointments at Mayo since we can write off the mileage on those too.  I'm also going to create a file for donations since I'll be doing a lot of sorting out and we'll be donating quite a bit.  I need to print out the kids' care sheets too so I have a copy of those on hand for 'emergency reasons' - you never know what's going to happen!  And I suppose I should call to check on the deeds for our cemetery plots.  I thought we would have gotten them by now..... hmmmm....

Well, there's a lot on my plate for tomorrow...  Wish sleeping in was on the list, but that's not in Scrappy's book....  Hopefully after some cleaning, some time with Zumba will be on my plate!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

We had to run to the store this morning so I could get a few things I needed to make goodies to take to my aunt's tonight.  We also decided we're going to Christmas Eve service at 4pm today so we don't have to fight with the kids tomorrow to get them away from their toys.  Pastor said both services will be the same.  Plus, with there not being Sunday School, I think the kids will be more cooperative this afternoon.

So what easy treats am I taking today?  My super easy fudge - one batch with nuts, one without (I honestly don't remember where I got the recipe from) and a pan of cream cheese bars that I got the recipe from a former coworker.  Oh yes, I will be posting the recipes :)  Breakfast tomorrow will be Amish baked oatmeal with bananas and raisins since I can mix it up tonight and just bake it in the morning.

We are trying to decide exactly how to keep with our usual tradition.  I always let the kids open one present on Christmas Eve.  For the past few years, we just spent a quiet Christmas Eve at our house.  So the dilemma - do we let the kids open a present before we go to my aunt's, or after we get home?  It's not unusual for the party to last into the wee hours of the morning.  Being the party poopers with 2 young kids, our plan is to be home around 8:30 or 9.  We still have more presents to wrap and I'm sure the kids will be up pretty early.  We have Scrappy's treatments to do too, which adds another half hour to the schedule.  I wonder which of the kids will be up first? (My bet is on Scraps - he rarely sleeps past 7!)

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas Eve!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Secret Santa

Hubby got home about 9:45 last night from work.  I waited for him, then headed to bed around 10.  I didn't have much energy yesterday afternoon.  Scrappy refused to nap, instead going up to the room he and his sister share and they played Barbies while Mama took a short snooze in the recliner.  After supper, the two of them headed back upstairs to play while I vegged out in my recliner and wrote my blog and watched a little tv.  I skipped my workout because I could hardly stay awake to write my entry.

Today was Beau's first day of winter break.  Scrappy crawled in bed with me after daddy got up and slept for a while but decided 7:40 would be a good time to get up, which is ok except I was hoping to sleep in a little more since I wake up quite often during the night.  I'm not a light sleeper - hubby says I can sleep through almost anything.  Except the sleep doesn't last long.  It's not uncommon for me to wake up 4 or 5 times during the night.  I usually have no idea what time it is since I can't see the clock without my glasses or contacts.  It seems to take forever to get back to sleep though.

After the kids had breakfast, I read a little more on my favorite blog (which I discovered a couple months ago - but I'm going back and catching up from the beginning, just a little at a time!) and they went upstairs to play again.  After a little while I dozed off again, only to be woken by Beau yelling at me about how mean her little brother is.  He was crabby and wanted his way, and she wanted to complain about every little thing he did.  Finally I told them if they couldn't play NICE, they weren't going to play upstairs or with Barbies anymore.

I didn't get my workout in this morning either (maybe that was today's problem!).  My back was sore and I was tired (excuses, I know).  I was supposed to head over to my bestie's house to help her make Christmas treats this morning.  I waited for her call to say she was ready.  She didn't text me until 11:45 to say she had JUST woken up! LOL!!  I was in the process of making lunch for me and the kids - leftovers.  Scrappy hasn't been wanting to eat too much lately, but for some reason pb&j seemed to hit the perfect spot for him and he ate almost a full half of his sandwich!!  I finally talked to her after lunch.  We had to pick up some meds for Beau since she's still kind of barking from her bout with croup.  It was 3:30 by the time we finally got over there.  We had a good time making treats, in spite of neither of us having much energy.  (Hubby thinks that if I would have done my workout, I wouldn't have been so tired.  Probably right.  And I probably wouldn't have been so tired if I would've made my pot of coffee before noon too!!)

We have our Christmas shopping done, save for a few more stocking stuffers.  I have to make the goodies to take to my aunt's house tomorrow too.  It doesn't feel like Christmas though.  And I don't mean because of all that has happened.  I mean because there is NO SNOW on the ground - and for Minnesota, that is very odd!!!  And it's supposed to be 40 degrees on Christmas Day!  That's just not right!  But there is definitely plenty of Christmas spirit going around and it has traveled to Minnesota.  I've been hearing and reading news articles about 'secret Santas' who have been paying off people's layaways at various stores, particularly in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and a few other places.  Well, we had a visit from a secret Santa of our own!!  One of hubby's co-workers (who doesn't have children of his own) bought and wrapped some presents for our kids, as did his mother-in-law, and signed them from Santa a few days ago.  Today, hubby went out to his van after work to find a couple more presents - these ones unwrapped - sitting on his van with a note saying they were from Santa.  His boss said he saw the gifts sitting there, but has no idea where they came from, and either does anyone else.  It's nice to see the Christmas spirit spreading so much.  I just wish there was something we could do to thank the person who gave it to the kids.

It really looks like this Christmas is going to be a special one for our family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Sign From Above

Today was a TOPS day - and the second to last weigh in for the year.  I'm in that area that is 'dangerous territory' for me.  Yeah, I gained the last 2 weigh ins before this one - a little over 4 pounds in 2 weeks.  This week I LOST 2 pounds - yay!!  As of Dec 1, I was down a total of 26.25 pounds, but I was also just back to TOPS and just starting to recover from my surgery and had dropped 20 pounds in about 2 weeks (not exactly healthy even considering I had just had a baby!!)  My goal for this year is to be at the -25 pound mark at the end of the year.  At Weight Watchers, I had a difficult time when I got close to the 25 pound mark - I kinda freaked myself out and blew it.  I don't know why.  I think maybe I'm afraid of success?  It happens often when I get close to some big accomplishment.  Self sabotage.

I haven't had the best day today, but it hasn't been the worst either.  Beau is home from school for Winter Break.  She goes back on Jan 3.  I am looking forward to sleeping in a bit.  I'm exhausted today!!  I didn't get my workout in.  I have been doing it in the morning, but this morning was too busy.  And by the time I got home this afternoon, I was too exhausted.  I guess I stayed up too late last night working :(

After TOPS, I had some errands to run before going to pick up the kids and hubby.  Then we went to the cemetery to visit our Little Warrior and to take his beautiful Christmas wreath out.  A good friend from TOPS decorated it for us.

I know he was watching over us today... he gave us a sign.  The cemetery where he is buried - near much of my family - is on it's own road on the North side of town.  The road does not lead anywhere else.  Today has been quite a cloudy day, but as we turned onto the cemetery road, the sun came out from behind the clouds.  I looked at my husband and told him that I know our Little Warrior was watching over us and knows that we were there.  In spite of the biting cold wind, the sun stayed out until we left there.  Honestly, it gave me a peace.  I know it's only his physical body there at the cemetery, but I felt a lot closer to him there.  We are going to my grandma's for Christmas Day, so we are going to stop out there to wish him a Merry Christmas too.  Here are some pictures of my angel during his brief stay here on earth....

Isn't that just the proudest looking Daddy??  I remember the look on his face very clearly when the doctor held our little guy up.... in spite of the scrubs and surgical mask (emergency c-section), I could tell my dear husband was very proud and was smiling so large.

He is my best friend and the most amazing man I could ever ask for :)  If I had to go through all of this, there's no one I'd rather have by my side than him <3

I don't know if it's because of our loss and the struggles we've been going through, or if aliens have abducted my husband and replaced him with a facsimile, or what exactly, but I'm not going to complain.  He has been a lot more attentive/cuddly/loving towards me lately.  Yeah, we snuggle at night and in the morning a little, but usually not too much.  He says he's not a 'huggy/kissy type of person."  But lately it seems he's become much more affectionate and doesn't mind PDAs as much as he used to.  Who is he and what has he done with MY husband?? haha!!  Shhh - I didn't say that!  I like it and I hope it lasts!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Learning Curve

Ok, so I admit - I'm not very technically proficient.  I can use things - once I'm shown how... otherwise it sometimes takes a while to figure them out on my own.  And I don't like reading the instructions since they're usually written in Greek.  (Ok, so I'm making myself to sound lazy now too)

Like my Blackberry.  I still don't know how all the apps and stuff work..

Like my Wii Fit.  I've had it for quite some time, and just made a discovery in the last couple days.  Notice the + dividers on it?

Well, that explains why I just COULD NOT get the hang of doing Advanced Step.  I could do the regular step and the blue side steps.  I had trouble getting the timing down of the green kicks.  And for some reason I would have "missed" steps on the purple steps, in spite of putting both feet up and keeping time.  I was getting VERY frustrated!!  When doing the step, one is on the top half of the board, and the other is on the bottom half.  Stupid me, I was stepping in the MIDDLE of the board and not paying attention to the lines.  DUH!!  I don't think it helps much having a 3 year old Scrappy-man crawling around on the floor all around me as I'm trying to step up and down and side to side from it!! haha - that's a workout all in itself!!

Another thing I've recently learned is about HOW I do my workout.  I've been focusing mostly on doing aerobics - step and boxing - and maybe a few balance games and yoga woven in there.  It's still hard to get into some positions since my stomach is still infected (I REALLY wish it would clear up :/ ).  I've been doing about 30 minutes in the morning and trying to get another 30 in the afternoon.  My discovery?  I have to do more than 30 minutes, because I don't break a sweat until almost 30 minutes!!!  But today I changed things up a little bit.  I made myself do more of the yoga - about 10 minutes before I started anything else.  I did the Basic Step twice, then went to my boxing - but skipped the 3 minute level, which I usually use as a warm up.  I went straight to the advanced 6 minute, and was feeling more of my workout.  I even got brave after doing some Advanced Step and tried Expert boxing!!!  Whew! What a workout!!!  Talk about working those muscles!  And I had sweat running down my forehead - quite uncommon for me!  I must be doing something right now!  I need to start working more yoga and the strength training in..... I'm just really hoping my work shows on the scale tomorrow.....

And a little update on canning... yes I'm still doing a little here and there - did some bean and ham soup.

*Note to self - check Salvation Army for jars.
**Note to self - make more applesauce next year - and in the quart and pint (not half-pint) jars.
***Note to self - can tomatoes instead of freezing next year so have freezer space for meat.

****Note to readers - DO NOT can the chicken stock unless you have a pressure cooker and can use it to seal your jars!!!  My frozen chicken stock came out just fine, but the canned chicken and stock had gone rancid since I just used a hot water bath.  (I've also been told that the hot water bath works IF you boil the jars for 3-4 hours)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Doing it!

I've been keeping quite busy in spite of the emotional turmoil.  It's been a month today since we lost Baden, but I'm holding up as good as can be expected.  I had to go to the college today to pick up some paperwork to appeal 2 classes that I failed so they won't affect my GPA.  According to the counselor, my appeal should be granted based on the circumstances.  It's still hard to believe....

I've been pushing myself along.  I stuck to my workout plan until Thursday.  The kids were at Grammy's, so I took advantage of the time and spent the afternoon wrapping Christmas presents since I can't always count on naptime and Christmas is quickly approaching.  The tree looked rather odd without anything under it too.  There's an imbalance of gifts - Beau seems to have more than Scrappy, but he has some bigger (ie, more expensive) than she does.  Quite a few of hers are smaller gifts.  But they all come out to about the same amount.  I think next year, we need to be sure to set a limit on the dollar amount.  It just seems too easy to get "just one more" thing for one, then for the other.... it's not working for our plans for saving money.

Friday I honestly just didn't have the motivation to do anything, let alone my workout routine.  Saturday morning I woke up with a very, very sore and stiff knee.  I broke my left ankle when I was 2 and believe I had messed up my knee at that time, since I've ALWAYS had problems with my left knee as long as I can remember.  Then, my senior year in high school, I was in a bad car accident and buried my knee in the steering column of my car, which was totalled.  I must seem old, because I can usually predict a change in weather based on how my knee feels.  If it hurts to walk up or down stairs and feels like it's going to give out, it means something's up.  The pain didn't go away until Monday morning, so I resumed my workout on the Fit and upped it to an hour, followed with 45 minutes today.

I've been trying several different strategies on how to cut down on costs since I'm still not back to work yet.  My plan is to start up again in January - hoping my clients agree!!!!  In January, I'm due for an upgrade on my cell phone.  Unlike many people, I'm going to do just the opposite and downgrade.  I have a smartphone right now - Blackberry Curve - which I love, but realistically the costs are just CRAZY.  I need to check into other plans for the smartphone, but I know the cheapest way to go right now with our provider is to eliminate the data plan.  That will free up some of my meager pay to go towards other bills.  I've also eliminated another $35 monthly bill by giving up my storage unit.  I have had it for 5 years, and much of the stuff in there has never been touched.  There are totes upon totes of toys that the kids don't even know they HAVE, and the ridiculous amount of stuffed animals and too small clothes.  My plan is to have a garage sale in the spring, or maybe 2, and then try to consign some of the stuff that doesn't sell and donate some to the Epilepsy Foundation.  I love donating to them, particularly since they will pick up donations curbside, rain or shine.

I have become absolutely addicted to a frugality website I found when looking for a recipe for homemade baby wipes.  No, I didn't make the wipes, but I've found many of the tips Heather posts to be quite helpful.  I'm currently undertaking her Pantry Challenge which has actually helped with my menu planning.  I've started cooking some things I haven't made in a while.  The only exceptions to the challenge for me right now is that Christmas is this week, so I will have to do some cooking to take a few treats to my aunt's on Christmas Eve, and the fact that we get WIC, which cover some of the items listed, but there are a few other items on there that aren't "staples."  My husband isn't on board with the challenge, but I'm going to do my best anyway.  For example, yesterday for lunch Scrappy and I had homemade pork fried rice made completely with on hand items and using up leftover pork roast from a couple nights ago.  Last night I made chicken enchilada casserole.  I didn't have any enchilada sauce, but with a quick online search, I found a recipe for a homemade one and I had all the necessary ingredients on hand :)  I had leftover sauce, which I'll try to use later this week, and honestly it was a LOT better than the store-bought packages!!  I would LOVE to make homemade bread, since that's one ingredient that's not listed as a staple, but my husband prefers store-bought bread for sandwiches :( Maybe I'll make it anyway, and maybe he'll change his mind....  Maybe....  Beau was upset that she didn't get any fried rice, so tonight I made chicken fried rice to placate her.  My poor family - they may be eating a lot of oatmeal and rice the next couple weeks since we have both coming out our ears :/  So, like I said, I'm trying the challenge with a few modifications!

I need to go check out the local second hand stores in the next couple weeks.... my vacuum sealer decided it wanted to die on me now that I finally FOUND it again.  So that is going to need to be replaced.  I had called my mom to see if I could borrow her bread machine to see how much I would use one IF I had one.... but she doesn't have it anymore.  She traded it to my aunt.  So maybe I'll see if I can find a used one for cheap.

And I know I've said it before, but I'm trying to get a schedule set to do some blogging more often.  I'm happy that I've been doing pretty good with organizing and sorting throughout the house.  It helps that I do my workout in the mornings - I have SO much more energy to get other things done.  I've been trying to get 2 workouts in when possible.  I do my morning one while Scrappy is doing to nebby and vest treatments and try to get the second one in when he is napping.  (For those who don't know me/my family personally, Scrappy has Cystic Fibrosis, which is the main reason we decided to sacrifice having 2 full-time incomes for 1 full- and 1 part-time... and he's been a LOT healthier!!)

The last 2 weeks, I've gained a total of just over 4 pounds at TOPS, and I'm not too happy with it.  Hopefully all this work will start to pay off soon.  And the fact that I've really cut down on how much Coke I drink and been cooking healthier.  Now only if I wasn't eating so much... time to break the chia out!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

What's Next?

It's been over a month since my last entry - again.  Today marks what would have been the one month birthday of my darling baby boy.  I don't have the heart, or control of the emotions, to re-write all that has happened with my angel, but he has left us.  He is no longer in pain.  You can read his story and his battle at

My doctor has helped with getting my emotions under control with some new medications.  The anxiety and the depression are under better control - it's not easy to deal with in the slightest.  So I've decided to focus on taking care of myself more. 

I've given up on using my gym membership.  Maybe if there was a gym on this side of town, I wouldn't have as much of an issue actually GOING.  But warming up the car, driving across town and fighting traffic, just gives me another reason to procrastinate.  The time of day is another reason to procrastinate - I'd either have to go early in the morning before hubby goes to work, or at night after he gets home.  Lately he's been putting in more overtime to make up for the time he took off with my hospital stay and the funeral.  This includes working Saturdays.  He's also making up for me not working since we decided, especially with the holidays, that I'm taking off the rest of the year.  (Partly because of my surgery, partly because people just don't have the money for shows during Christmas.)  I can't take the kids with me, and I can't afford to pay for a sitter just so I can go.

I'm going to try something a little different.  My hubby got me a Wii Fit 2 1/2 years ago as a present.  I hate to say it hasn't been used as much as I had planned to use it.  I've started getting into a habit of making it part of my daily routine this past week though!!  That is my new plan - to put in 30 minutes most days of the week, if not more.  I'm on Day 5 right now and have been doing pretty good so far!!  Yesterday I also started doing the dance workout setting on the Wii using Beau's Disney Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) and the dance mat.  It gives the option of choosing to burn a certain number of calories or going for a time, and I use the time option.  15 minutes yesterday and 30 today.  The first 3 days I started with the Fit, I was doing the Fit 2 times per day.  Yesterday and today I did one workout on the DDR and one with the Fit (I only did half of my Fit workout so far - I'm going to do some more when Scraps goes down for a nap...)

So where is my weight-loss effort sitting at right now?  When Baden was born, I was still down 6 pounds from my start weight.  I went back to TOPS on Dec 1 and my loss for the day was 20 pounds.  Last week, Dec 8, I did gain back a little bit - I was up 2 3/4 pounds.  But I also wasn't eating the best and drinking a TON of Coke every day.  I'm getting that back into moderation again.  Let's see how this week goes!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

First Admission

I had a checkup for baby yesterday since I'm on 2x per week checkups now.  There were 3 parts to the checkup:  First the non-stress test (NST), then the ultrasound, then meet with the doc.  We saw Dr W again this time.

The NST went much like the last one we did, in spite of my attempt to get Baby to wake up by slamming part of a bottle of Coke for my morning carbs.  I started out on my back, then the nurse had me roll to my right side and propped me up with a pillow.  We noticed my blood pressure spike quite drastically when I was on my back - I was giving off readings of 148/94, which is MUCH higher than what they want to see.  Baby seemed to be sleeping throughout the test again.  After 20 minutes, the nurse took a buzzer and put it on my stomach to wake baby up.  Then she explained a little better what exactly they're looking for since she was training a new tech.  They need Baby's heart rate to increase by 15 beats per minute and stay elevated for at least 10 seconds.  Baby has to do this at least 2 times in 10 minutes for the test to be considered 'reactive,' which is what the goal is.  The buzzer really seemed to do the trick - I got the living daylights kicked out of me for the next half hour! lol!!

We had another ultrasound to measure the fluid levels around Baby.  We were told the level is in the 'normal' range, although it's on the lower side of the normal.  This is another thing they're really keeping an eye on.  We got a pretty cute face shot of Baby though :)

Next we went to see Dr W.  She asked about my sugar levels, which have been really good since I've been on the Glyburide.  In spite of me overdoing some of my carbs a little bit now and then, my numbers are staying in range.  I've noticed quite often I underdo my carbs too, though.  Anyway, Dr W was very concerned with how high my blood pressure was.  She sent me over to Labor and Delivery for additional monitoring.  She didn't know if they were going to keep me overnight or if I'd just be there for a few hours.  It was dependent on how my blood and urine tests came back and how the monitoring came out.

We went over to the L&D Triage center and I got admitted.  After giving them a urine sample, I spent the next couple hours laying in the bed with the NST monitors and a blood pressure cuff on.  They checked my bp every 5 minutes for the first hour, then every 10 minutes for the next hour.  Hubby and I watched a movie to help pass the time.  With the docs and nurse coming in and with the monitor going off, plus having to contact people to keep them posted (my sister since she had my kids, and my mom and grandma), I missed quite a bit of the movie. What I did see what pretty good though.

In addition to the other tests, the OB on call in L&D did a pelvic exam since I haven't had one since about 20 weeks or so.  We found out I'm dilated to 2, 50% effaced, and even though Baby feels like he/she is sitting lower, is still at -3 station. (I've included these couple links for those who are unfamiliar with the terms.)

Obviously after this additional time added to my appointment, hubby didn't make it to work as planned :(  He had been planning on going in around 11 or 1130, but since we didn't get back to town until about 2, he said there was no point in going in.  Unfortunately that means he gets to spend all day Saturday working and putting in a few extra hours during the week...  He's been putting in up to 2 hours extra a night during the week.  I don't think he has any idea how much it means to me that he's been so supportive and so involved in this pregnancy.  This all would have been a lot more difficult if he wasn't so supportive.  I'm so lucky I found such a wonderful man!!

My bp mellowed out and my labs came back alright, so they decided to send me home.  I have to go back on Tuesday for another NST, ultrasound, and checkup.  They also sent a jug home with me with orders to collect urine for the next 24 hours (YUCK) so that they can check the protein levels in it.  Which means we actually have to go back this afternoon to drop it off.

Hubby really doesn't want me to go by myself just in case something happens, even though it's just straight over there and back.  I asked my best friend to ride with me, but she has to help her dad move today.  I can't go until after 3:30, which is about how late hubby was planning on working anyway, so we decided that I would just wait and we'd go when he gets home.  I had to move the seat back in my car, too, cuz my steering wheel was rubbing against the baby belly.  It's a little more difficult to reach the pedals now, so I try not to drive out of town if I can help it.  Since a friend had asked, here's a belly shot.  Not so flattering.  But I am still down a total of 8.25 pounds.  Yup - I gained 3 pounds this past week.

Next week I have to be back 2x again.  The plan was to go on Wed since Scraps has an ENT appointment then, but that doesn't work into their 2x per week schedule.  They said one appt has to be Mon or Tues and one has to be Thurs or Fri.  So next week I will be at Mayo Tues, Wed, and Thurs.  We were having a hard time figuring out how to do this since it would be super hard for hubs to take that much time off, so Grammy is going over with me on Wed for Scrappy's appt.  We don't have to be there until 945 for that one, and my appts are at 8am so it would be harder for her to go with to those.  I would prefer that hubby is with for mine anyway in case I get kept or anything happens.

And the more that things are going wrong, the more the docs are talking about induction.  Hopefully we find out a definite answer very soon.  As much as I love my babies and I loved being pregnant, this one has taken quite a toll on me.  I'm ready to meet this little one and have some strand of normalcy back in my life.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mixed Emotions

Yesterday's appointments didn't go quite as well as we had hoped for.  I'm riding an emotional roller-coaster right now because of everything going on and all the stress and emotions involved with pregnancy.

My first appointment was for the non-stress test.  They let Scrappy come in with us for this one since he was being pretty mellow.  For those who have never had one, a non-stress test is one where I sit back in a recliner with my feet up.  The nurse puts 2 straps around my   stomach with monitors on them.  One was put at the top of my stomach to monitor for contractions and the other is placed over Baby to monitor movement.  During this I also had a blood pressure cuff on that would periodically monitor my blood pressure.  The test can last anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how the baby responds.

We seem to have a pretty stubborn baby.  I was hooked up for the entire 40 minutes. Baby's heart rate was in the lower 150's.  During the test, the nurse monitors how many times the baby moves and what the baby's heart rate does.  The goal is that when baby moves, his/her heart rate is supposed to go over 160 and stay there for a short period.  Baby did NOT want to cooperate.  We listened to hiccups for a while, which was the extent of the movement we were getting.  The nurse pushed on my stomach and had me change positions, rolling over to my left and rolling over to my right side.  I pushed on my stomach.  Scrappy yelled at and talked to Baby and pushed on my stomach.  Daddy pushed and shook and rubbed his hands on my stomach.  In spite of my carb restrictions, I even ate part of a granola bar to see if the sugar was going to get Baby moving.  We got a few kicks here and there, but not a lot.  Baby is most active around supper time and bed time, or really early in the morning and is pretty mellow throughout the day.  I was concerned, though, when I saw what my blood pressure readings were.  Throughout my pregnancy, my bp has been about 110/65-70.  My last appointment, Dr R said it was running a little high.  At this appointment, it varied with the top ranging from 128-138 and the bottom running from 83-92.

My second appointment there were no kids allowed, so Daddy and Scrappy had to wait in the waiting room during that one.  The ultrasound tech didn't do any measurements on how big baby was, just concerned about checking how much fluid there is and a few other measurements the doc needed.  She said Baby was 'face down' so she couldn't get a good profile shot.  But here you can see Baby's face, shoulder, and hand.

Then it was on to my third and last appointment - seeing the doc.  We didn't see my normal doc, but we got to meet another (Dr W), which is good just in case mine isn't there when we go in.  She was very brief and to-the-point.  I don't think we were in the room for more than 10-15 minutes with her.  She looked over my glucose readings since the medication started and looked over the non-stress test and bp results.  She was not happy with my bp being up since it's been so low until recently.  Of course she said she was concerned about pre-eclampsia and now wants me coming in twice per week.  Normally, she said, she wouldn't be so concerned about my bp since it's not horribly high, but because of the gestational diabetes AND the bp, she'd rather I come in more often.  She said if it stays high, she would like to induce me at 36 week.  I told her that Dr R had talked about induction at 34 weeks if it was high.  She didn't agree with that.  But I guess in the end it's up to what the two of them decide.  We're going back to see Dr W on Friday for a follow-up.  I'm not sure how she wants me to handle 2x per week after that since my next 2 appointments after that are on Wednesdays to coincide with Scrappy's.  We'll just have to see what happens.  On the 9th, we're scheduled to see Dr R again.

And after some discussion, my husband and I decided to stop down and change my registration.  We upgraded to a private room.  I'd rather not have someone else's newborn keeping me up all night or have to deal with their family visiting if I wanna nap during the day. 

I guess I'm as ready as I'm every going to be for this baby to come.  I'm kind of nervous because so many things have gone wrong already and I'm afraid of what else can go wrong.  I'm excited to see the little angel that's been kicking and hiccuping and growing in me for the last 32 1/2 weeks.  I'm terrified of the possibility of Baby needing surgery.  But we're seeing some of the best doctors in the country at Mayo.  We just need to put our trust in them....  We really can't do any more to prepare...

I'm getting restless and sore and craving everything I can't eat because of the diabetic diet.  I swear if I could, I'd chug a gallon of high-pulp orange juice right now!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekly Appts

We're at that point now - we are going to Rochester weekly to monitor baby.  The last couple weeks have been typical, and crazy.  After failing the glucose test and being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, Dr R had me meet with a diabetic specialist nurse and a dietitian.  I had to monitor my blood sugar for the next week until I went in to see him again too.  For some unknown reason, even though I've been very adamant about adhering to the strict carb count they put me on, my morning blood sugars were still high.  Throughout the day there were a few times here and there that they would spike again.  Dr R wasn't very happy with this last week when I went back for my checkup. (He said that most people cheat and don't fill in their real numbers on the chart - he was happy to see that I was!)

I'm still monitoring my sugars 4 times a day and now I'm also taking a pill every evening to help control my blood sugar.  Since I've been on it, my morning sugars have been right on target!  My fasting level is supposed to be under 95 (right when I get up in the morning) and then under 120 when I check it 2 hours after each meal.  They are very strict on exactly how many grams of carbs I'm to have for each meal and for snacks 3 times per day.  It's been hard to stick with, especially since I LOVE pasta and mashed potatoes.  The big surprise to me was that there are carbs in milk and yogurt but not in cheese.  There is also a list of veggies that have carbs and count against me.  So glad green beans aren't on that list since they're my favorite :)  Cooking has been a bit of a challenge for me, but I've been doing some experimenting, which has been coming out pretty good for the most part!

At my last appt, doc also gave me a prescription heart burn medication.  I've been having such awful heartburn that wakes me up in the middle of the night, I feel like I'm going to be sick!  Thankfully this medication has been working really well :)  Almost no heartburn since I started it. 

Next step is to get my blood pressure down.  Normally it's about 120/80 or a little lower, but when I'm pregnant it usually runs about 110/70 or somewhere in that area.  My last appt it was 130/85.  This worried our doc.  He said if the top # gets above 140 or the bottom goes over 90, they're going to look at inducing me at 34 weeks (I'm 32 right now.)  With the complications we've had, high blood pressure is coming out to be the final straw.  If we do go early, though, we suspect very few complications other than the echogenic bowel issue.  In the last ultrasound, the baby was practicing 'breathing,' so the lungs are looking good.  Based on the ultrasound, the baby weighed in at about 4 pounds 7 ounces.  That's a huge jump in 2 weeks from the 3 pounds 4 ounces they estimated then!!

Tomorrow we go in again.  Our weekly appts are non-stress test, ultrasound, and meet with the OB.  We'll be meeting with a couple others besides the one we've been seeing.  My sister has to work, so we are going to have to take Scrappy with us.  Beau has school, but we'll be able to drop her off and pick her up since we don't have to be in Roch until 930 and we'll be done before noon.  Hubs is planning to try to get to work in the afternoon if we get back in time.  Maybe then he won't have to work as long on Saturday.  I know he needs to make up the time, it just seems like I hardly see him when Sunday is the only day he's home because we always have so much to do.  It would be great to have a day to just relax and spend time together.

Since this is the number one question I'm asked: As of Thursday, my total weight change with this pregnancy:  Down 11.25 pounds still.  I've been asked often if I'm having twins.  I suppose since the baby is gaining weight and I've overall been losing weight, my baby belly seems to be protruding a bit more than with the other two.  My darling hubby told me that from the back he can't really even tell I'm pregnant cuz I seem to be carrying it all in my belly up front.  He's so sweet :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Recipes - P2

Cheeseburger Broccoli Chowder
6 c chicken stock
1 1/2 lb ground beef, browned and drained
2 tbsp Worchestershire Sauce
1 c milk
1 bag frozen broccoli
8 potatoes, peeled and cubes
1/2 of a large block of Velveeta, cubed*
1/2 medium onion, chopped
flour to thicken

*In place of the Velveeta, you can use 2 cans condensed cheddar cheese soup.  If you use this method, only use 3 cups chicken stock and increase the milk to 4 cups.

Combine hamburger, Worchestershire sauce, milk, and chicken broth in 4 qt soup pot.  Add potatoes and simmer about 15 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients except flour.  Simmer another 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and potatoes are tender.  Remove some of the broth to another bowl, whisk with flour, and use as a thickener.  Serve.

Apple Butter
Apples - peeled, cored, and chopped (approx 2 qts after prepped)
Ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg
Ground cloves

Once the apples are peeled and cored, I cut them into quarters (since they're small apples), add a little sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little water, and cook covered about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After that, I remove the lid and cook until desired tenderness, mash with my potato masher, and cook until desired thickness.  A little taste test here and there and maybe a little more sugar or cinnamon.  I don't have a preference for a type of apples (besides free - that always works good for me!!), but I have been getting Wealthy windfalls from FM.  They are a little bruised, but that doesn't matter.  If it's too bad I might cut it out, but so far it's been pretty good!!

Salsa Chicken
4 small chicken breasts or 2 large, cut in half
6 tbsp cream cheese
1/2 pint salsa (I use homemade)
1/2 c shredded cheese - cheddar, colby jack, or whatever your favorite is

Place chicken breasts in 8x8 casserole or similar sized baking dish.  Spread 1 1/2 tbsp cream cheese on each chicken breast.  Top with salsa.  Cover with foil and bake approx 30 minutes at 350.  Remove foil, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and continue to bake until chicken is no longer pink and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Chicken and Mushroom Sauce
2 medium chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2-3 tbsp garlic flavored olive oil
1/2 stick butter
1/4 c diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c sliced white button mushrooms
1/4 + 1/2 c milk
2 tbsp flour
1/2 block cream cheese, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp parsley

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet.  Add cubed chicken breasts.  Sautee until chicken is no longer pink.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add butter to pan.  When melted, add onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked and tender and onions are translucent.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add 1/4 c milk to pan and heat to simmering, scraping up all tidbits from bottom of pan. Add cream cheese and gently whisk until well incorporated and melted.  Gradually add in remaining milk and bring to simmer.  Whisk in 1 tbsp flour.  Add mushroom mixture and chicken back into sauce.  Simmer approximately 10 more minutes.  Add more flour if necessary to thicken sauce. Stir in parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Taco Salad
1 lb hamburger
1/4 c diced onion
1 packet taco seasoning
1 head lettuce, chopped
3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped (more if desired)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
tortilla chips
Salsa or French dressing

Cook hamburger with onion.  Use taco packet to make taco meat (follow packet directions).  Be sure to drain grease from hamburger before adding seasonings.  Combine meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and black beans in large mixing bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Crush up some chips and put on a plate or in a bowl.  Top with meat/veggie/bean mixture.  Top with salsa or French dressing.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipes - P1

A few of my friends have been asking for some of my recipes lately since I've been doing quite a bit of cooking.  So I thought, why not just post a few recipes at a time as separate entries?  Maybe someday I'll post a whole separate blog for this, but this is how it's going to work for now :)

So here are the recipes for this week:

*Note - I cook like Grandma - many of my measurements are guesstimates since I don't measure most of the stuff - I go according to taste.  Feel free to alter any of these recipes to fit your particular tastes.

The base for many of my soup recipes and chicken recipes is chicken broth or chicken stock.  I've become fond of making my own.  I've tried making it using some dark meat quarters I had bought on sale, but it works much better using a whole chicken carcass.  You can buy an already roasted chicken, or roast your own chicken, serve it for dinner using the drippings to make gravy for your potatoes, then cut off the remainder of the meat.  You can leave any of the fat you cut off with the carcass for a little extra flavor. 

Chicken Stock
1 chicken carcass with leftover fat/skin and neck, giblets, and heart
4 stalks of celery
4 carrots, peeled
1 large or 2 small onions, peeled
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
salt, to taste

I use an about 8-10 quart stock pot.  Put the chicken carcass and other chicken pieces into the stockpot with enough water to completely cover by about 4-6 inches.  Chop each carrot and stalk of celery into 3-4 pieces.  Cut onions in half if using small, quarters if using a large onion.  Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Cook 4-6 hours, covered, stirring occasionally.  Pour through colander to remove all the chunks.  (I usually pour it through a couple times.  Stock will be a little cloudy.  You can also use a cheesecloth in the colander to get a clearer stock, but I like the flavor it maintains.)  To get a more concentrated flavor, you can take the strained stock and return it to heat for another hour on low.  I add about a tablespoon of salt while my stock is cooking.  Then the stock can be canned while still warm, or let cool and freeze.  I add any additional salt when actually cooking with the stock - making soup, gravy, etc.

Cheesy Potato Soup (originally from my mom, but slightly modified)
1 box chicken broth (I use Swanson or homemade and then don't really measure - think it's about 6 cups...)
6-8 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 lb carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 of a large block of Velveeta cheese, cubed
milk (around 1/4 gallon) (as much as necessary - sorry, I don't measure it!!!)
flour (to thicken)
1/2 c chopped onion
1 lb bacon

Chop bacon into small slices and fry until almost crisp. Drain and add onion. Cook until onions are tender. Add chicken broth. Bring to boil. Add potatoes and carrots. Add enough milk to cover all by about 1-2 inches and Velveeta cubes. Cook until potatoes and carrots are almost tender. Whisk flour with some milk and add to thicken. Cook until desired thickness and until potatoes and carrots are desired tenderness. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Creamed Chicken
6 c chicken broth or chicken stock (I used homemade)
2 tbsp butter
2 c diced fully cooked chicken (I used leftovers)
1/2 c milk
flour (to thicken)
1 1/2-2 c frozen mixed peas and carrots
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken broth/stock and milk to a simmer.  Remove some of the liquid to a bowl and whisk in flour to make a roux to thicken sauce (I've learned doing it in a separate bowl reduces the number of flour clumps in the sauce).  Whisk roux into the sauce.  Repeat as needed to reach just shy of desired thickness.  Add butter and mix until butter is melted and incorporated through.  Stir in chicken and peas/carrot mixture.  Simmer, stirring frequently, until meat is heated and veggies are cooked.  Sauce with thicken as it simmers.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  (You may need a little more salt if you are using a homemade stock.  I don't add much salt to my stock when I make it, so I usually have to add more to the final product.)  Serve over biscuits or mashed potatoes.

Baking Powder Biscuits (this has become a staple in our house - easy to make and goes great with soups or served with gravy over them!)
2 c flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c shortening
1 c milk

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in shortening (I use a pastry blender - works great!) until well incorporated and mixture has smaller than pea-sized lumps.  Stir in milk until entire mixture is moistened.  Now, the original recipe said to bake at 450, but my oven is old and goes into self-cleaning mode if I turn it up that high, so I bake at 375 for about 18 minutes, then add a few more minutes if needed.  Biscuits are done when they are browned on the top.  This recipe makes 12 biscuits.  I cook them using my Pampered Chef Pizza Stone. (I have the old one without handles, but very similar to this.)

I've also been making this amazing Amish Baked Oatmeal I got from Economical Eats by Heather - my family LOVES it made with the raisins.  They're not so fond of it with the chocolate chips.  I've also put 2 chopped bananas in place of the raisins.  I think next time I do the banana, I'm going to add some walnuts too - I think that would be a good flavor.  This is really easy to make up the night before, storing it in the refrigerator, then throwing it into the oven while the kids are getting ready in the morning.

Be sure to check out a few others that I had posted before - applesauce, spaghetti sauce, and bean and ham soup.

If you want any of my other recipes, just ask!!

Just Livin' Life...

I do well with my blogging for a while, then I notice I have some big gaps in my entries.  Life gets in the way at times.  I just don't seem to realize how much and how often life happens :)  The last month has been a little chaotic, but when isn't it when you have two crazy kids running your house?? LOL!

We spent a week with sickness going through the house.  Beau had strep and an ear infection.  Scrappy caught a bad cold and had a sore throat.  Hubs ended up with an awful head cold, bad enough that it kept him home from work for a day.  In the middle of all that, we still went to a benefit for our friend who has terminal cancer.  We didn't stay long, but we did make it there.  After everyone else had gotten over being sick, I got hit with a head cold.  My balance is horrid as it is just from the pregnancy.  Add the vertigo that comes with severely clogged sinuses does not help.  And the additional dizziness, which we thought was from low blood sugar from what the doctors said.

My weekends have been super busy with the kids and with hubs working Saturdays and church and Sunday school on Sundays.  It's been so busy that I even gave away the 10 gallons of tomatoes that I had picked a week ago with the intention of making spaghetti sauce.  I still have 3 bags and a box of apples sitting on the table out back that I haven't had time to do yet.  From my dizzy spells, I've decided it's something I can't do if hubs isn't here.  Maybe this weekend I'll have a chance to do at least some of them.  On Sunday that is, since he's going in to work on Saturday.  My car has decided it doesn't wanna work right - almost sounds like the spark plugs are misfiring or maybe something with the fuel injectors, but it shakes and jerks so awful when it's idling.  He's going to see if he can figure out what's wrong with it.

An update on baby:  My last appointment, on Tuesday, baby weighed in at about 3 pounds 4 ounces.  My previous appointment baby was about 2 pounds, so he/she is growing really well!!  We still see echogenic bowel, but we weren't too surprised by that.  The blood pocket is still there too.  When I went to TOPS yesterday, I finally gained 2 pounds.  Doc said I SHOULD be gaining about 1/2-1 pound per week and baby should be gaining 1/4-1/2 pound per week.

Shortly after we got home, the doctor's office called.  It's never a good thing when the call after you leave....  I had my blood tests and glucose screening done, so they were calling with the results.  My hemoglobin is about 12.4, which is great since I'm normally borderline anemic.  My thyroid levels were good too, so that means the higher dose of levothyroxin is working just as it should be doing. 

Then the bad news - I failed my glucose test.  Dr Rose has said that 140 and under is considered to be 'normal', 141-189 is 'inconclusive' and warrants a retest which is a 3 hour fasting test, and 190+ is considered having gestational diabetes.  Well, I tested in at 191.  Yay, another complication.  For the next week, I'm supposed to log all the food I eat.  They sent a few prescriptions over for me to get filled.  One was for lancets, one for a glucose monitor, and one for test strips.  I go back to Rochester next Thursday to meet with the dietitian and diabetic counselor.  They are going to show me how to check my blood sugars and when I'm supposed to do it.  From the sounds of it, they don't think I'll need medication and I should be able to control it just by what I eat.  We'll see what happens.  Hubs is taking the afternoon off to go with me.

The nurse I spoke with on the phone gave me a 'heads up' on a few other concerns.  When a mom has gestational diabetes, the baby usually has a higher birth weight.  Babies born at term are closer to 10 pounds, which she said can cause complications in itself.  There is a chance of shoulder dysplasia and an increased risk of C-section.  Baby also runs risks from his/her blood sugar dropping after birth and will have to be more closely monitored after birth.  It sounds like I will be going in for weekly appointments after my appointment on Thursday so they can monitor the baby with non-stress tests and to watch the baby's weight and the amount of fluid.  I guess this really isn't such a bad thing since we're getting closer to when the doc figures the baby will come.  As of right now I'm almost 29 weeks.

My wonderfully amazing husband talked to his boss after I called to tell him about my upcoming appointment.  He asked if I wanted him to go with me, and after some discussion, he told me it was best if I don't travel that far alone (it's over an hour drive to see our doctors, but they ARE specialists and some of the best in the country!)  He told his boss that my appointments are going to be weekly.  One of the great things about him working for a small shop is that his boss is much more flexible than most.  His boss has a child with medical issues also, so he's pretty understanding about all this.  He said it's fine, but that hubs is going to have to make up some, if not all, of the time somehow.  So that means he'll probably be working Saturdays, or possibly just staying a couple hours late most nights.  I'm ok with that, especially since he's really doing it for me.  Isn't that just the sweetest thing??  I know I sing his praises quite often, but from my past relationship experiences, most of those 'men' wouldn't have been so supportive.

Speaking of my wonderful husband, I got some 'alone time' out with him on Saturday (after he cleaned up the branch we lost during Thursday's wind storm!)

We had a sitter come for a few hours while we went out for a few hours.  It was his birthday, and there was a big 'We Love You' party for our friend with cancer.  I was the designated driver, obviously.  We went for him to have a few adult beverages and to visit with friends, then out for supper.  We had just asked for a 'to-go' container when the sitter called - Scraps was vomiting :(  She sat with Beau while we took him into Urgent Care since he was already on antibiotics but was still running a fever. 

These past almost 2 weeks, I have be very tired besides dealing with the dizzy spells.  Hopefully after Thursday we can get all of this under control.  But my house is falling apart.  My kitchen is a disaster.  I don't have the energy to get caught up with it.  I've fallen way behind on laundry.  I can barely stay awake enough to do my homework.  I've been doing all my errands right away in the morning after dropping Beau off at school, and by the time I get home I'm completely wiped.

One of my current classes, stress management and wellness, has given me some tools to use to help combat stress.  I've actually been practicing some of the meditation methods and found them useful.  Some are more difficult to do with small children around, but I make due.  I'll be sure to post the ones that are working best :)  I'm actually thinking of using some of the meditation methods for labor when baby comes!  Yes, I'm planning to do this delivery all natural again, so we'll see what happens!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Revamping and Redoing

I've been a SAHM mom for one year and 5 months, and I still have no idea what I'm doing.  No one tells you how hard it really is to be home with your kids.  Or if they do tell you, very seldom do you believe them.  I mean really, how hard can it be???

Well, believe me, it's a lot harder than it looks!!  Between the running and doctor's appointments and cleaning and laundry, it seems like nothing is EVER done!!  Factor in a child with a medical condition, and that amplifies it.

I must admit that now that school has started for my oldest, some of the chaos and craziness has died down.  The end of summer means no more baseball until next summer.  But it brings with it a whole new array of appointments.  Now it's back to Girl Scouts, church and Sunday school, and homework.  The scheduling for all the running had to be peared down so that I can make it home in time to pick Beau up from school.  Every now and then, I do have to find someone else to pick her up or drop her off, but most often it's just me.

I tried making a schedule to follow for basics during the day.  Turns out I can't keep to a schedule.  Either can the little man.  He doesn't nap when I schedule him to.  He doesn't play quietly during his 'scheduled' time either.  I guess with a 3 year old, trying to maintain a set schedule is just not in the cards.  Yeah, I have my list of "to-do"s, but I think that's going to be the best I can do.

Today's list of to-dos??

Scrappy is working a little harder on potty training right now, so he's ACTUALLY wearing underpants - which is really big for him.  So obviously, I have to have some laundry going so I can wash up his accidents.  I'm almost out of laundry soap so I'm going to try making some homemade from a recipe I got from a friend.  I'm about 2 meals behind on dishes, so I have those to do.  Clothes to put away.  Vacuum.  Cooked down my chicken yesterday, so today I have to sort it all out and strain it and clean the meat and hopefully can it.  I'm really hoping the weather doesn't get as hot as predicted.  (Supposed to be 90 today, but I think I'd prefer the 70's.)  And, at some point, I need to get some reading done - I have a paper due Wednesday for school....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Domestication :)

I have to admit, I love being a housewife.  I love being domesticated.  I love spending an afternoon cooking up a storm to feed my family a good hearty meal.  It's even better when my husband decides he's going to do the dishes for me :)  (Yes it happens quite often too!!  He's the best!!)

I know it's early for nesting for this little one.  Actually what I'm doing is preparing.  The plan had been to make a bunch of freezer meals so they can go right from freezer to oven and we can still have yummy home cooked meals every night this winter without much work.  Well, considering my 7 cubic foot freezer is full (and I mean FULL) already, why not do some canning?!  (No, it wasn't originally my idea - it was Opa's).  I have 23 quarts of fresh tomatoes from my Opa's garden that we blanched and froze, plus 8 quarts of green and yellow beans.  Thursday we decided to do 'a few more' tomatoes since he wanted some canned to take on the road.  We ended up with a total of 18 quarts and 18 pints of tomatoes.  I know I could just say 27 quarts, but we did them in both sized jars so we each have 9. 

A lot easier than I thought!!  1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, then add your tomatoes and squish the air out.  Opa told me to be sure there's about 1/2 inch of headroom too.  We kept the juice separate (since the tomatoes had plenty of their own) and he cooked that down for a few hours, skimmed off the water after letting it sit and cool over night, strained out the seeds, and froze it.  Perfect for homemade soup :)

I thought today would be a good day for doing some more canning - the weather was beautiful, in the 70's, and the kids could play outside while I was working in the house.  Hubby was gone, putting some hours at the shop, so it was perfect.  Kids and I went to Farmer's Market (one of my FAVORITE places in the summer and especially the fall!!  Yeah, some stuff is a little more expensive, but you can't beat the freshness!!)  I made the mistake of letting the kids pick out my onions and ended up with one bad one.  But we got 2 good sized bags of apples for $2, 2 pumpkins about the size of volleyballs for $4, a pimento pepper for $0.50, and a couple onions for $1.

Picked the ripe tomatoes and a couple yellow peppers from my garden, so I put tomato sauce on my list.  Found out my cousin absolutely LOVED the pumpkin butter I gave out for Christmas last year, so I promised I'd make her some more.  Beau was begging for homemade applesauce for lunch, and I didn't want to open a jar I'd already sealed, so why not make some more :)  Also decided better use up the ham hocks and ham pieces that were in the freezer so bean and ham soup was added to the list.  And while I'm at it, why not make chicken stock and can some chicken too??

Well, that's NOT what happened :( 

Yes, the applesauce was made, courtesy of my Pampered Chef goodies (since I only had a few apples to do, I didn't get out my apple peeler/corer/slicer, but I DID use my serrated peeler and my apple corer.)  Super easy - I can't say I really have a recipe, since I cook like everyone's grandma - a pinch of this and a pinch of that.  My method?  Once the apples are peeled and cored, I cut them into quarters (since they're small apples), add a little sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little water, and cook covered about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After that, I remove the lid and cook until desired tenderness, mash with my potato masher, and cook until desired thickness.  A little taste test here and there and maybe a little more sugar or cinnamon.  I don't have a preference for a type of apples (besides free - that always works good for me!!), but I have been getting Wealthy windfalls from FM.  They are a little bruised, but that doesn't matter.  If it's too bad I might cut it out, but so far it's been pretty good!!

While the applesauce was cooking, I started what was going to be tomato sauce but ended up turning into spaghetti sauce.  (I thought it tasted really good when done, just a little sweeter than the canned stuff.)  I started out with blanching and shocking my tomatoes so I could remove the skins.  The tomatoes were pretty firm, so they didn't give off a lot of juice when I did this.  I cut out the stems and threw all the tomatoes into my 4 quart soup pot (it was about 1/3 full), cut a yellow pepper into big chunks and added about 3/4 of that, 1/4 of an onion in big chunks, some Italian seasoning, and about 2 tsp of garlic.  I had to crush the tomatoes down a little at first to get some juice for it to simmer in, then used my immersion blender to chop things up a little more.  I let this all cook a couple hours, sampled (needed a sprinkle of salt to combat the sweetness), then removed this lid to cook down a little more.  I REALLY hate it when the tomato sauce splatters all over the stove, so I went to the Devil Store (WalMart for those who don't know DS) and had gotten a screen to prevent grease splatters for bacon - works great with the tomato sauce too!!!  Didn't can this one - just ended up in the fridge in a Tupperware container.

Got my bean and ham soup started too!!  Super easy - add 2 bags of dried beans (no, I don't pre-soak mine) and the package of ham hocks and just boil the crap out of it for a few hours until the beans are soft.  Scrape the meat off the bones, discard the rest, add the already-cooked-leftover ham, then can it!  Ended up with 4 quarts.  Unfortunately that was the last thing I made for the day.

I LOVE homemade chicken noodle soup.  My mom and I had canned some chicken and broth a couple years ago and it was really good and makes it easy to make soup whenever I want, and it tastes so much better than using bouillon.  Even though hubs doesn't like chicken noodle soup, I can still use the canned meat to make chicken gravy for biscuits or other things like that - or hot dishes.  Decided I wanted to do that today, but didn't have everything I needed.  Made my shopping list, plus I had to get a few things to make Snicker salad for the family reunion tomorrow. 

I was putting my shopping list into my purse, stepped on a toy that had been left out, and hit the hardwood floor.  Hard.  It hurt.  So, of course, I didn't go anywhere until hubby came home.  Called him, in tears, and told him what happened, plus I was having horrid pains in my side.  Felt a little better by the time he got home, so I convinced him to take me to the store, but went pretty slow.  But I got all my stuff I needed.  Hopefully I'll get my chicken started tomorrow - it takes 2 days to make.  Once I make it, I'll share the 'recipe' since I don't use a real one.  Same thing with the pumpkin butter.  But for now, I'm off to bed.  Hoping to get updated again in a few days, hopefully with some pictures too!!

Oh, and to update the TOPS weigh in and pregnancy weight loss/gain:  I was down 1/2 pound this week, bringing my total loss to 13 1/2 pounds.