Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bloggy Giveaway Love: The WMF Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

I'd like to thank Cyndi at Busy Family Meals for giving away such a rockin' neat new pressure cooker. Thank you to for sponsoring this giveaway. Cyndi is a reviewer, so they were kind enough to provide this $219.00 stainless steel pressure cooker to her as a giveaway. Look what is living in my house now:
From Cyndi: "Everyone’s busy these days, and nothing will trim time off your preparations like a good pressure cooker, reducing cooking time up to 70%. And this one is a beauty! Made in Germany, this 3-qt. pressure cooker is ideal for making a ham and lentil soup or pork chops with caramelized onions. As your food cooks, it is being infused with the flavors and aromas from your seasoning and its own juices. Shorter cooking times and the tight seal cooking method preserve precious vitamins and minerals from escaping your food. The Perfect Plus pressure cooker provides efficient heat conductivity. The TransTherm sandwich base evenly transfers heat over the entire bottom of the cooker which makes for faster heating and better heat retention. With a Perfect Plus pressure cooker, your cooking is healthy, saving both time and energy and reducing cooking time up to 70 percent."

I grew up with my mom using a pressure cooker on almost a daily basis. I remember writing about it in the comments on the bloggy giveaway. I'm going to sit down, read directions, get a bit of a crash course from Mom and be on my way to pressure cooking.

Thanks again to Cyndi at Busy Family Meals and I love my new pressure cooker! See, all that time spent entering giveaways on that snow day was worth it! I never win anything and this time I won three different things.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Mama

My mom is such a hard worker. Mom cleans houses as a job, runs around, bakes and whatnot but right now my mom is not feeling well. Initially, they thought it was the flu. She ended up back at the doctor today and what they suspect might be wrong is a hyperactive thyroid. She has a raging headache, fever, her heart is racing and overall just does not feel well. My mom isn't one to lie in bed. She worked on Monday, but has been in bed the rest of the week. My mom may make mention of not feeling well, but she doesn't harbor on it. She is to go tomorrow for blood work and to have a chest x-ray. She has a doctor's appointment on Monday to go over results, then will have a CAT scan if the results don't tell the doctor what he needs to know. By everything that my mom has told to me, her doctor spent much time with her today (about an hour) going over everything, talking about her head pain and that he truly does believe that all of this is a thyroid gone wrong. What's in the back of my mom's mind? The fact that my aunt, her sister, died in September as a result of brain cancer-- a glioblastoma of the temporal lobe. That is exactly where my mom's headache is centralized. (Again, the doctor said it is my mom's blood pressure causing it and not brain cancer.) He has found that she also has a goiter on her neck that he knows to be a goiter, but mom is concerned as she has had a few people that she has worked for in the past few years die of cancer that was located in the neck. Poor mom. I told her that I know where I get it.

Please consider praying for my mom. She is a spaz middle child like me. My mom does have a heart of gold though. She can drive you crazy, but loves you to the end of the earth and back.

I'll bring all of you up to date on Monday when I find out more.

Hello Lipitor.

Hi. I'm Amy's liver. She loves me. I've worked really well for her for 35 1/2 years. Please don't blow it. It would be nice if you take that pesky cholesterol count of 249 to a nice respectable level without any of those listed side effects, please. Amy is a busy mommy. She doesn't want to have her medication make her sick.

Thank you.

Her liver

P.S. Let's keep that good cholesterol at the good level that it is, eh?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I'm Better. Thank You, Caffeine!

Okay, here goes. First, thank you for reading my list of complaints. Secondly, I'm in a better place than I was last night. I was stressing about work, the cramps didn't help and I was cranky. It happens, I know. Thank you for your kind words! Here's the update of today:

1. My motorcycle riding, frat boy doctor with the earring was kind and diagnosed me with tendinitis. He said that he'll have me wear a brace to immobilize the thumb. He prescribed some anti-inflammatories and if that doesn't work over the course of a month, we will go to --eeek!-- injections into the joint. That just sounds icky. But, I'm sorry that I doubted him. To his credit, when he did tell me the "I've seen worse" was after my accident where I was bruise, stitch and broken bone free. I had some issues with the shoulder mostly and lower neck/upper back. His point was that what hit us vs. the injuries that I suffered, he has seen way worse. But you know when you are cranky, all you can think of is being tossed off to the side.
2. I had my cholesterol blood work done. I told him that I've know for a few years that I was supposed to be taking medications, but haven't quite come to terms with it yet. Now I'm being an adult and dealing with what is going on.
3. I had a massive wait for the prescription at Giant Eagle, so I opted to run down the road (not literally because ick! that would qualify as exercise in 8 F heat.) We went to Walmart (I'm not a huge fan and could give a long list, but . . .) and decided to use the card that I accidentally requested on MyPoints. (Not their fault. I had a brain lapse.) I figured that I could cover the cost of the thumb splint with it and purchase a little something else. Like a vision, the word CLEARANCE was on a red sign just a few aisles down. I was able to score some things for kids for birthdays and Christmas (I wiped 6 more gifts off the list) and scored some baby wash, lotion and that sort of stuff with the remainder of the gift certificate.
4. I made it back just in time to pick my niece up from school. My brother is hoping to have his new transmission done in his car today. (If you want to hear stories of someone with bad luck, just talk to me about my brother!) For the love of all that is good and right in the world, I hope that he gets it done.
5. My mom is feeling a little better than she was earlier. She has been so sick. She went to the doctor a few weeks ago with a virus. She took and antibiotic just got off of it and it came back. She has a throat infection, sinus infection and bronchitis. She felt so bad this morning that she asked my dad to take her to the hospital. I didn't understand why he didn't take her, but then my other brother told me that my father's employer is switching insurance and my parents currently have no health care coverage. Wonderful.
6. I chased an Excedrin Migraine with a can of Diet Coke. Now I have the too-much-caffeine shakes. That should work well for the Kindergarten informational meeting that I'm due to attend in an hour.
7. I'm typing with 9 fingers which is tough to get used to. I'm used to slapping the space bar with whatever thumb is closest.
8. It's sunny. The sky is blue. I can see the moon.
9. I have leftover meatballs and pasta to have before I leave for the Kindergarten meeting. Did I say Kindergarten meeting? HOLY CRUD! K- is almost old enough to go to real live school! [Insert cholesterol-free heart attack here.]
10. Thank you for being so supportive in my time of need. Jamie, a meatball is slinging your way. It's a turkey one, so it's kind of healthy! Rach, I'm slinging a hug at the bit and hoping that she feels better!

I Am Irrational. I Am Cranky. I Have PMS.

Hi. My name is Amy and I have PMS. By the end of this post (which was written Wednesday night), the world will probably feel it. Allow me to deposit my irritations into a tidy post, eh?

1. My daughter left her backpack at my in-law's. My husband has a hard time remembering anything and asking him to bring her bag with him slipped his mind. No big deal, eh? Well, K- isn't going back there until Tuesday. She will be without her backpack and her school folder until my mother-in-law picks her up. Three days of school worth. Father-in-law can ship for free. I asked and my mother-in-law said, "That's silly. She can get it Tuesday." Wonderful. I have things in there that I would have liked to have. Apparently, that isn't important enough. Oh, to drive over is 25 minutes there and 25 minutes back. It is insane to waste the gas and the hour to do it. Hubs says, "Well, since you are at the doctor tomorrow, you can just stop by. You are out that way." Um, it isn't "out that way." Yes, we have other bags. Yes I could pull out another folder, but I'm being irrational.
2. I have cramps.
3. So, I'm going to the doctor to get a referral to an orthopedic person to do something with my thumb that has taken to locking and clicking. I worry that the doctor will tell me what he has said in the past, "Oh, I've seen worse!" Thank you. Then, I'll tackle the cholesterol issue. In the past it was high. Now, I'm not a sinless eater, but by and large I have a healthy diet. I'm not looking forward to being a slave to cholesterol medications. But that brings me to the next bit.
4. "Oh, if you exercised and ate better, just think about how your cholesterol would be!" My husband is probably glad that I didn't sling a meatball at him. As I reminded him, I have blood clotting disorders that help to cause the high cholesterol and if I ate nothing but vegetables, I'd probably still have high cholesterol. Some people can't avoid it. You can help it, but you can't avoid it. "I want you to take care of yourself, but I hate to see you take medicine." Um, me too, but do you want me still around or do you want me to die because eventually the good cholesterol may decide to be bad and the gunk in my arteries will stick. Just sayin'.
5. Folks who come in and tell me how to do my job drive me crazy. We had a regular customer in today who is generally pretty pleasant. She was with a friend, so perhaps she was trying to show off. She told me how to paper the items that she was buying. She told me how to bag the items that she was buying. She told me that things needed to be on separate bill only after everything was already written up. She wanted to buy something that we don't sell (little ear clutches to keep your earrings from falling out of your ear.) I told her that I would be happy to give her a pair or two. I even told her where she could order them. Then, after we GAVE her some ear clutches she told us about how they weren't the kind that she wanted. She wanted a certain kind and did we have the others that we liked better. No, but where did her thankfulness go?
6. The lunch that I brought today bombed out. Long story short, my aunt gave me some "wholesome Russian meals" that were frozen. There were chicken meatballs and buckwheat that were wonderful. This one was turkey and what I thought was whole cranberry sauce. The turkey smelled so dark turkey strong that I wouldn't even touch it. The cranberry sauce? Beets, but I only figured that out after I took a big bite. I don't like beets. My co-worker bailed me out though. She gave me cottage cheese and a lovely Crispin apple. I had popcorn and was good to go. She fed me well. Thank goodness we had our Wednesday lunch date. If we hadn't, I would have been hungry!
7. I'm getting tired of the weather. I normally don't complain, but it's cold then it barely warms up enough to make everything gooshy then it becomes cold again. My driveway is a solid block of ice and our vehicles sit in indentations. If you get too close when strapping K- in, you slide down the indentation and slam your shin into the car. Oh, that feels nice. It is 9 degrees F now and only to get colder this evening, then it is supposed to be 40 F or so Friday and Saturday, then back to cold. We have a thick layer of ice followed by a crunchy, crispy what was slushy snow, then a bit more ice on that, then a fresh layer of snow on that. You can stand on the snow and not fall through. That, my friends, is a serious amount of water it is holding.
8. My bosses cut out paying a full day for snow days. Now they will compensate with payment of 3 hours. There are many that can't afford for them to call off a snow day. Now we're hoping for no more snow days. Of course, I've only been told this through the rumor mill. God forbid they actually give some type of written notice about it. In all fairness, I understand their need to do so. However, communication would be fantastic.
9. They are cutting some co-workers hours at work. I haven't heard that my hours are being cut, yet.
10. Each customer who purchased something today asked me about how the economy was fairing for us. Then they told me that "people need to buy food more than art." Oh, the one lady told me how expensive the wall tiles were that we had on our counter. Yes, well, when it is handcrafted work that is made here in the states-- IT'S GONNA COST MORE, PEOPLE! (No, I didn't tell them that.)

I would love a big bowl of ice cream, but I don't think that is wise to do before a cholesterol test. Tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Recycled, Homemade Valentines

We had a snow day this past Wednesday, so that got us to work on a nice snow day project. We made K-'s class valentines. Sure, we could have bought a box of valentines from the store, but we were in, we could make them and why not?

Our materials. We used Do A Dot Art bottles for the little blops of color. We had wiggly eyes, bead noses, cardboard from an IKEA glass tote box, a Department 56 Christmas product sign that I snagged from work, glitter, glue and some markers. (Worth noting, we used only what we had on hand. I would have used cereal boxes if we hadn't had the IKEA box on hand.)

First, we snagged our IKEA glass tote back out of the recycling box.

Then I traced all the hearts onto the box.

Don't forget the Department 56 product sign. We need to punch the heart mouths out of that. Hearts for the mouths? That was K's idea. I had no idea what I was going to do with the hearts prior to that. I thought that it was a grand idea!

I was left as a mama cutting. And cutting. And cutting. Just look at that scrap pile!

K- wrote her name on the backs of all the hearts prior to us decorating them. I figured that it would be hard for her to write her name with wiggly eyes on the hearts.

Our pile of punched out mouths.

K- is choosing one of the bottles of Do A Dot Art to decorate the pre-painted heart. (Yes, I painted them.)

Do a dot!

The dots and the hearts are drying.

They need swirls of glue and some glitter. K- kind of abandon me for a while at this point. Hubs had come home on his early-out snow day and he was playing video games. She wanted a break.

I got them glued, glittered and drying. Look, I've forgotten to photo a few steps. But it takes us to this:

We added eyes, bead noses and heart mouths. I waited for them to dry, then I went in and added eyelashes, eyebrows and a little curve to their mouths. Oh, and don't forget the recycle symbol!

We're going to bake some brownies the night before her class party. I'll bag them up in some sandwich bags and put them in the cutesy froggie and hearts bag that we got in the Target dollar aisle. We'll plunk a valentine in there and tie it up with some ribbon. Easy-peasy!

We had fun on our snow day! We hope that all of you have a fun Valentine's Day!

Next week: Heirloom seeds, seed starting and some cabin fever garden photos! Can we say whew-whoooo?!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: Comparative Parenting

What do I mean by comparative parenting? You know the parents. They have the children that are God's gift to anything that they touch AND they must tell you all about everything that Little Jimmy has accomplished, including reading right as he was emerging from the womb? Oh, we've all had those experiences.

This is something that has touched me from day one as being a parent. Given K-'s birth status, I've always been a bit more hyper-aware about her milestones, tracking achievements and so forth. Let's face it, having been born cocaine positive isn't something that people generally yell and say, "That's so great! I'm glad for her."

I've always had to kind of laugh to myself when I encounter parents who feel like they have to put their child on stage to show off their latest tricks. I mean, grant you, we all do it to an extent when they are babies, but still.

I remember one time we were at a park program for kids aged 3-5. K- was 3 1/2 and sitting at a table coloring a page when the little girl across from her says, "Mommy, WHY is she scribbling?" [Add in snotty Nellie Olson tone.] I said, "Well, my guess is that you are probably a bit older than she is. She's just three." Mom says, "Well, she JUST turned 4." I couldn't help it but to say, "Then I guess your kid is just better than mine." I think that the mom realized and started back peddling. It's fine, but I had the same type situations with K- from about birth.

For so long, I felt as if K- was behind. I had friends who had babies that were doing great and wonderful, far-advanced things. I wondered if K- was okay. Every doctor's appointment we had, we would discuss things and she would tell me how great K- was doing. She understood my worry, but she was and still is on track. Just when you have kids that are on a different track, you wonder if you are doing it all right. The words gifted and high-spirited got tossed around a lot, but never the word average. The word average in some contexts almost seems dirty or settling. It's not to say anything is wrong with children who are far and above their age level of the average standard. It's not to say that it is wrong to have those children encouraged to keep excelling. It's also to say that there is nothing wrong with a child that is plodding along at average speed. Even average speed isn't the speed for every child. Each child is at their own pace of learning and we just need to foster that within them. Each one has their own story and their own way of doing things. That makes them unique. It makes them the great little beings that they are. We can't compare them because that's just not fair. Even siblings born to the same parents differ wildly in achievements.

It's something that has bugged me for a long time. In the classroom, I saw it when I was a child. In first grade, we were to read our vocabulary words aloud to the teacher. I was a rather timid child, but knew the words by heart. I said each one, but she acted as if she was struggling to hear everything I was saying. Then, when it came time to reward us at the end of the week for our hard work, I was excluded. I was made to watch the children enjoy their treat although I was permitted to participate in its creation as if I were able to take part in the eating of it later. The kids felt so bad for me. They all said that they heard me loudly say my words. The teacher's response? "Well I didn't hear her!" I remember sitting, with my head down and crying.

We did things called SRA's, my friends were at a higher reading level than me and I felt bad about that. I wouldn't have felt bad, but the one "friend" was so nasty about it.

In seventh grade, my best friend and I were put in a remedial math class because-- well-- our math skills weren't quite up to par. Our parents never told us. We were never prepared. We found out when we got there. We were the math rejects. Great. Oh, there are far more stories, but these are just a select few.

I know it is going to happen. I would love to put K- in a bubble and keep her from being hurt by people who compare her to other kids. I just don't want her not to feel good enough. I want her to know that she is my smart bundle of little girl and we love her to death. I don't want her hurt. I can't keep that from happening, though. We can teach her though that she is "good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it, people like her." (Hubs, I put that in there for you.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

I Fell Off the Wagon, But Now I'm Back On

Oh don't worry, it's not drinking I'm talking about. In regard to that, Hubs and I don't drink, but because we both have ugly family history that we choose not to repeat.

Anyhow, I started line-drying our laundry in September. I found it therapeutic to go out to my new outdoors clothesline, hang the laundry in the morning and come home after work to it all dried. I would stand at K-'s slide, fold up all the laundry and bring it in and put it away. It was a nice system that I had.

Then winter came.

That's fine. I have a six-line run in the basement. I can hang two extra large loads of laundry down there and it is all good.

Except the fact that the washer went out.

Then the holidays were upon us.

And the basement is heated, but not the warmest place in the world.

Then I started going through Mt. St. Baby downstairs. My basement was consumed by piles of baby and toddler paraphernalia labeled for children all over the greater city area.

Internets, I fell off the line-drying wagon. I was sad that it had happened. I told myself one day I would get back on. I had a super system. I had built hanger trees for the socks, so I didn't waste precious line space on something so small. I had discovered that you don't have to fully hang the underwear, you can just hang it from one side and let it dangle down. You use one pin and a whole lot less room.

You'd be glad to know though that Saturday I pulled my line-drying love back out. I had declared Saturday an at home day. I was gorgeous with my unbrushed hair pulled back into a pony tail, wearing unmatched sweats and slippers that had blown a hole in them only earlier in the week. To tell you that I was beyond ravishing is an understatement. I couldn't wait for the Hubs to come home to see how gorgeous his wife of nearly 12 years had become. All that aside, I decided that Saturday was the day.

Can I tell you something? It felt good. My laundry lines missed me, but their forgiveness was sweet. As my damp laundry hangs on the line, I feel like I'm once again back to trying to do one more thing to help out Mother Earth. Now, if it didn't take a couple of days for the laundry to dry down there, it would be super.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Resolutions Revisited

I've decided that I'll update my resolutions monthly, so as to keep them fresh in my memory. Let's take a walk through January 1 lane, eh?

1. I would like to lose 13 pounds. I've lost 5. I don't think that's horrible. I'm on fluctuation right now because, well, let's just say it is about that time. I have been more mindful of what I am eating, how I am eating it and when I'm eating. That accounts for something!
2. We will eat better. A sugar cleansing of the home has been performed. Hallelujah! We've been healed! (Though, I find myself having huge cravings right now.) Now K- is asking for healthy items such as grapes, carrots, cottage cheese and the like. We've been eating more whole grain. I typed this on Thursday night and we had whole grain and barley Near East Chicken Rice with leftover center cut pork chops and veggies from the crockpot the other night tossed in.
3. We will keep a tidier house. Right now my table has been craft central, but yes, the house is drop in presentable. Again, we weren't pigs before, but we've been less of the drop and run M-W. I still have that small pile on the corner of the table though. I swear it appears there without my doing. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
4. I will unearth the studio and make work again. Nuthin' here. I have put more crap in there. Does that count?!
5. I will concentrate more on Mommy School with K-. Yep. We've been working on it. We're on project numbers right now.
6. I will be certain that we get that bedtime story in every night. More often than not, I've been successful with this one even if it has been a few pages a night.
7. I will begin devotional readings again. I bought another just the other day. Buying is not doing, though.
8. That TV will be turned off even more. We're listening to more music.
9. We will do walking in the evenings again. It's been too dang cold outside and sidewalks? I'm sure there under the 18 inches or so of snow that we have out there. We still have the treadmill though. Yup, haven't been good with this one, but I can say that I've been shoveling the driveway and sidewalk a lot. For me, I consider that pretty decent exercise.
10. It's not about me. Working on this. Trying to remember to hold my tongue and not insert something about myself in every story. Listen with my ears and keep my mouth silent. I am putting a conscious effort into this.