Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Today was one of the best days I've had for a long time. I had less fatigue than most days lately. I did do some research and found out that a drug called Provigil may be something that could help with the fatigue. It is what is usually subscribed for narcoclepsy. Not sure I spelled that right but it is the disease that some people have where they can't stay awake. I tried to get in to see my family doctor this morning. They save back a few appointments for the first callers of the day. I called their office at 8:03 this morning and was kept on hold till 8:45. The lady that answered the phone said you should call first thing in the morning at 8:00 to get the appointment...she was shocked I'd been on hold all that time but said that there are a lot of illnesses going around.

I get a lot of my information about different drugs and pain issues on several websites. I have two of them listed on the right hand side of the blog. But, one that is not listed is a Yahoo Group called Pumpsters. It is a group you can join by invitation only and the members are all people who have pumps or are living with someone with a pump. If you want to be a member you have to fill out a questionnaire and then be approved.

I was pleased last night to see that Drew Lachey won "Dancing With The Stars". He was my pick from the very first show. I love to watch shows like that and any kind of ice skating and see people do all those "tricks" with their bodies that I would love to be able to do...but can't! The other pick that I have for a show that will be over soon is Jillian Barberie and John Zimmerman on Skating With Celebrities. The show was on tonight for half of the final and their score was a little lower than the other couple but there is still one more skate to be judged so there's still hope!!

I visit a friends blog occasionally and today read the scripture that he was talking about. It was Psalm 42. I couldn't believe when I read it how much I identified with that Psalm. At different times of our lives I think we identify with the same scripture in a different way than before. It's amazing how scripture is like that...speaks to whatever you are dealing with at the time. I would like to end today by quoting the verses I identified with...I won't put the whole Psalm on here but just the verses that touched me today...and the last one was the best...Praise God in your difficulties and it's amazing when I do that how my attitude can change!!

Psalm 42
Verse 3
My tears have been my food day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"

Verse 6
My Savior and God,
My soul is downcast within me....

Verse 9
I say to God my Rock,
"Why have you forotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?" ( our enemies can be different things...but mine is pain)

Verse 10
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"

Verse 11
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet priase Him,
my Savior and my God.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

This is Jacob. He is our daughter Kristi and Eric's 17 month old son. He is actually talking to me on the phone in this picture and it was taken last night. I am always aware if I get a call and I hear breathing on the other end that it's probably Jacob. It's hard to know what to say to someone who doesn't talk back to you but I always try to tell him funny stories and try to get him to laugh....and he usually reponds by laughing....especially if I laugh first.

Tyler (our 5 year old grandson and Katie and Steve's son) called me from his vacation in Florida yesterday. He wanted to call to tell me how much he misses me. It made me feel so good that he was thinking of me and missing me. I have to work hard at finding things these grandkids like to do that I am able to do with them so they will have good memories of our house and I think I am succeeding. I have found that it doesn't take much...they know I love them and that's all they really need here...except for a few toys:)

I am still having the lack of energy. I am also having the rapid heartbeat if I do anything physically active. I am going to try to get into my family doctor tomorrow. They usually keep a few appointments open for the first few calls in the morning and I'll be on the phone at 8:00! I might have to take a taxi but that's all right...I don't mind. I have done it before. Wayne needs my car in the morning and what he is doing is important to our income.

I am still learning when it comes to cooking. I thought I'd try the fresh mozzarella on a homemade pizza today and it shrunk up so much there was hardly any cheese left on the pizza. The fresh mozzarella comes in water and has a very high moisture content so I suppose what happened is most of it evaporated. Live and learn...I'm still doing it! You'd think at my age I'd have learned it all.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I have a couple cute grandchildren stories today.

Wayne had to pick up a gumball machine from a location when he was in Michigan City today for Alan. When he dropped the machine off at their house Rhebeca and Kael were home. He gave Rhebeca 4 stuffed animals and told her to give one of them to Kael. (We have a lot of stuffed animals because that's what our business is....the stuffed animal and candy cranes). Rhebeca gave Kael a duck (stuffed animal) and Wayne said Kael immediately went in the kitchen and got a glass and put water in it and stuffed the animal in it. Wayne couldn't figure out why he did that until he told me the story and I said...Kael knows that ducks go in the water and he was putting his duck in the water.

One other funny story about Kael...He had some lady bugs that he was keeping as a pet. I guess he took it all over the house but one day he decided it needed a bath and washed it with soap and water....and then told his Mommy that the lady bug was sleeping. Poor little guy....he was just trying to do a good thing.

Katie, Steve, Tyler and Caden are in Florida. They are staying at the Nickelodeon Hotel. They were so excited about doing that for the boys and thought they would have such a good time. This morning they paid a pretty good price to have breakfast with people dressed up in the Nickelodeon cartoon costumes. Well, things did not go as planned...Caden (the 18 month old) was grouchy and whiney and crying so one of them had to take him out in the hallway and walk with him and Tyler was scared of the people in costumes and hid under their table. It reminded me of how life goes sometimes. We make all these plans to have a wonderful life and things just don't usually go that way for most of us.

I was a little better today....I didn't do much but my heart rate seems to be down some from taking a little less of the 2nd thyroid medication. I am so thrilled because I have had very little pain in my back the last few days. It will start hurting mostly when I stand for long periods (like cooking) or when I wake up in the mornings. I am going to ask the doctor the next time I see him to give me a bolus of medication in the morning (in the pump) The pump can be programed to give extra bits of medicine at certain times of the day. Morning is the worst time of the day for me. By this time of night (8:30) I am feeling pretty good....I think that's why I stay awake till midnight-1:00 most nights.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I have now had a headache for 2 days. Nothing I take for it will take it away. It just kinda ruins my day. Wayne brought home some Relacore from WalMart and it is supposed to give you energy. It has really made a difference for me. It is also supposed to help with weight so that would be nice too. I am thinking that this headache is from the herniated disc in my neck...those headaches are so different from other kinds...they start at the base of my neck and go up the back of my head to right above my eye and since it's nerve pain it's very uncomfortable.

Alan's surgery on Monday went very well. I wasn't able to go but Wayne went and stayed with Eutemia till Alan was in recovery and doing well. He took her out to breakfast during the surgery to he pancake house where a lot of her Brazilian friends work. Wayne was able to see Alan in the recovery room before he left for home. On the way home, the van broke down and he had to call a wrecker and have it towed home. It was the alternater that went out and we had to have it replaced. The van has 215,000 miles on it so I think it's doing quite well yet and it's a good thing because we don't have the money right now for a new vehicle. I wish we did but I guess it's supposed to be good for you to not get everything you want. ...and right now I sure don't get much of anything I want:(

I watched American Idol for 5 hours this week and thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt so sorry for the kids that had to go home tonight. That has to be heartbreaking. Hopefully just this little bit of exposure will help them with their careers. My favorites in the competition are Katharine, Lisa, Ace and Elliot. I kinda like Chris but I think his style will get old after a while...at least for this "old" lady:)

Katie and Steve and the boys left today for Florida. They were all so excited about this trip and I'm happy for them that they can go while the boys are little. The next couple of nights they will be staying at the Nicolodean Hotel. Tyler will love staying there. I guess the Nicolodean characters are all walking around and the rooms are all decorated with the different characters. Caden won't care as much yet but Tyler is probably SO excited.

I went to the grocery store today. It is usually a big ordeal for me because I sweat so badly when I exert any energy and also because my heart starts beating so fast that I can hardly get my breath. My Mom took me and helped me out and I really appreciated her help today. I always thought at my age that I would be helping her instead. Maybe by the time she needs help I will be better. I still have that hope. You would think I would give up hoping after everything that has gone wrong but I must be stubborn! Sometimes being stubborn can be a good thing!!

I hope get some scrapbooking done tomorrow. I don't have to cook because we will be having leftovers so I will have some time....and I hope I feel as good and have as much energy tommorrow as I had today!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I am gaining strength little by little and very little every day. I can now walk to the other side of the house without huffing and puffing but I can't go downstairs and work on the laundry without having to stop and rest because of being so winded. Also, my pain level has increased over the past 3-4 days. I don't know why and I don't know how much more my doctor will raise this pump. I'm taking a lot of motrin and it does seem to help.

I appreciate my pain doctor so much and even more after I hear about a botched up job. A good friends mother had the spinal cord stimulator put in about 2 weeks ago and they did damage to her bladder. She cannot walk by herself and she has to use the bathroom every half hour even during the night. I just feel so badly for her and for the family trying to take care of her. It is a rough situation. It is so important to have a doctor that knows what he is doing but how does a person even find that out before a procedure? I think I just got lucky and also I had a LOT of prayers behind me.

Tyler spent the day here today. I really enjoy him and the day flew by so fast. We just have such a good time together. I told him I'm gonna miss him while he's in Florida and asked him if I could go in his suitcase...he thought about it and looked at me so funny that I had to let him off the hook...I said...I wouldn't fit in your suitcase, would I? He jumped on that and said...no, Becky, you wouldn't fit in my suitcase but you're gonna keep Belle at your house and she'll keep you company. Belle is his dog and Wayne and I love watching her...she's a wonderful little dog.

I was so excited about American Idol tonight and couldn't wait to hear them sing. The girls sang tonight and I was really disappointed in some of the talent. There were four that I really liked and they were in the order of my favorites...Katharine McPhee, Lisa Tucker, Mandisa and Paris Bennett. I really thought a lot of them were just below average!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rhebeca's 7th birthday
September 2005

Tyler and Caden
June 2004

Tyler's 5th birthday
November 2005

I am feeling a little bit better today. I believe my heart might be beginning to slow down some. I have not been nearly as winded when I walk from one room to the other in the house. I didn't feel like going anywhere today. I want to save my energy so that maybe I can go to the surgery center tomorrow when Alan has his surgery. I won't know till I wake up in the morning how I will be doing and if I can make it.
I think all 3 kids are beginning to understand that I have to take it day by day. Katie was the first to see it because of living closer to us than the other two and she has been so respectful of my health. What I hope they realize is that if there was anything I could do to change my situation I would do it in a heartbeat. But, as it is, there is nothing that the doctor's or I know of that will make me any better right now. I am still hoping that I will continue to gain strength as time goes on and the good thing is that the pain isn't nearly as severe as it was before the pump. Wayne and I talked about it last night because I was really feeling discouraged and we both said the the pain may have drained my body more than we realize and on top of that all the drugs I took to try to get relief from the pain could have drained me even more and it may take up to a year to get feeling like I want to. It's very difficult to be the one who has to do the waiting as everyone else goes about life as usual but I have no choice but to wait.

I didn't get the tickets to see "Stars On Ice". They went way too high in the last few minutes. It seemed like I was the only one bidding on them for quite a while. I told Wayne I would bid up to $60. Well, I stopped at $135. I've always had that problem with auctions. Wayne always teases me about getting carried away at an auction bidding on a rabbit cage...I just wanted to win. We didn't have anything to put in the cage but I bid it up to about $30 and got it. I kind of wish I'd gone on up for these tickets. They ended up selling for $151....which isn't a bad price for front row seats...ON the ice. I'll keep checking ebay because they are also gonna be in Detroit and Grand Rapids.

I made soup, corn muffins and was hungry for something sweet so made a cherry pie today. The pie got done before the soup and we both filled up on pie and the soup is now waiting till tomorrow. We both took a taste of it and it is delicious. I will post the recipe for that, the corn muffins and the very easy cherry pie.

2 T olive oil
3/4 cup diced white onion
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
2 T minced garlic
4 15-ounce cans black beans
4 cups chicken broth
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon concentrated hickory liquid smoke

1. Heat 2 T of oil in large saucepan over medium/low heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic to the oil and simmer slowly for 15 minutes or till the onions are practically clear. Keep the heat low enough that the veggies don't brown.

2. Measure 3 cups of the (drained) beans into a food processor with 1 cup of chicken broth. Puree on high speed until smooth. The recipe says to drain and rinse the beans but I have learned on the cooking channel that you don't want to rinse the beans because the starch on the beans will help to thicken the soup.

3. When the veggies are ready, pour the pureed beans, the whole beans, the rest of the chicken broth, and every other ingredient in the list into the pot. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until soup has thickened and all the ingredients are tender. Serve the soup topped with a couple tablespoons cheese and chopped green onion, if desired.

1 1/2 cups jack and cheddar cheese blend, shredded
2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups creamed corn

You can either put this in a muffin pan or 10 empty (6 ounce) tomato paste cans, cleaned and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except for 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Set aside. Spray nonstick cooking spray on the inside of the cans or on the muffin pan. Fill each can or muffin tin about 2/3 full with corn muffin batter. Divide remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese evenly over top. Place cans on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

1 can cherry pie filing
12 ounces frozen mixed berries, drained
1 box ready made pie crust (the kind in the refrigerated section with 2 crusts in it)
Flour, for dusting
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cherry pie filling, sugar and mixed berries. Set aside.

Gently unfold bottom crust onto floured pie dish. Pour berry filling into unbaked crust. You can use a lattice cutter and cut the top crust or I made a star slit in the center of the top crust with a knife since I don't have a lattice cutter. Place top pie crust on top of cherry pie filling and crimp top and bottom crusts together. Brush top crust with beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with sugar. (I forgot to do this part...back was starting to hurt:)

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until bubbling appears in the middle of the pie. Check on pie halfway through and if it is getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil. Let pie sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Alan singing to Kaleb

This is our oldest, Alan, singing to his youngest, Kaleb. Kaleb is our youngest
grandchild and is such a cute little guy! He sure loves music..and his Daddy... which is evident in this picture. Sure wish they would feel this way about their parents when they are teens!

Alan is not looking forward to this coming week. Monday morning he is having surgery on his wrist/hand. The doctor will be removing bone fragments that are causing pain for Alan right now. They will put a tourniquet on his arm to cut off the blood supply and the doctor told him that would be one of the uncomfortable things he will be feeling afterwards. This is Alan's 3rd surgery in 6 months. I know he thinks he's had his share of surgery for a while.

I am still not feeling well. Everytime I walk anywhere in the house my heart starts racing. I walked to the kitchen this morning and took my pulse and it was 120 beats a minute. That is way too high and even causes me to be out of breath.

I will be having a birthday next month and I told Wayne I wanted to see Stars On Ice for my birthday. Well, they've all ready been in Indiana so I was looking on Ebay yesterday and found tickets in Columbus, Ohio on March 19th. The tickets are on the floor in the first row...right up next to the skating rink. I went ahead and bid on them and it looks like I'm gonna get them. Those seats will be fantastic!!

Here's another good recipe that we have had twice in the last month. There's nothing lowfat about it but it sure is a good treat once in a while!!

1 large bowl of popped corn (or 2 bags microwave popcorn, not butter flavor)
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Prepare popcorn according to the method you choose. Pour popcorn into 1 or 2 large bowls. You will need plenty of room to toss with the hot sugar method.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add water, sugar and cinnamon, increase the heat, and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Be careful; the sugar mixture is extremely hot! Pour half of mixture over popcorn. carefully stir or toss to combine (don't use your hands...it's too hot!!) Add the remaining popcorn and the rest of the sugar mixture and toss. Serve.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

It's been another very rough day physically. I reacted to the water pill with a headache and also muscle spasms in my legs and feet everytime I put any weight on them. I think the spasms are because the water pill drained my body of potassium. Today is the last day I will take it. The swelling is down and I don't care for the side effects.

Katie called today after she left Walgreen Drug Store. She took both boys with her and Tyler saw an ab machine. He told his Mom that she needed to get him one of those. She asked him why and he said I need it because I'm need to get my old shape back. He said that Katie should use it too because she needs to get her old shape back too. Television commercials can be pretty powerful...especially to a 5 year old. I guess I never realized Tyler lost his old shape...so funny!!!

I enjoyed watching the Olympic Mens Ice Skating tonight. The winner by a landslide was the Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. They gave a little of his life story and it was a hard one. He started training as a young boy in his home town but when he was 11 the home town ice rink closed. If he wanted to continue to skate he would have to move 1000 miles away from his parents...and he did. They had to stay behind to support his skating. Both he and his parents made huge sacrifices. I really wanted an American to win until I heard this story and then was thrilled for him. His face showed very little emotion but his smile showed it all after they played the Russian national anthem.

I hope tomorrow's a better day...that's how I make it through a day like today...hope. My hopes have been dashed so many times that you'd think I'd quit hoping. But somehow I continue to have hope for a better day...and sometimes it even happens!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It's been a week now so it was time for another trip to the doctor. It's not that I enjoy writing out $20 copay checks or buying the new prescriptions. It's the fact that something else went wrong today. I feel sometimes like I'm headed down the wrong road and can't get turned around. Anyway, my feet, ankles, legs, hands and face were swollen and getting bigger every day and I felt very uncomfortable. Also, I was so out of breath. Just walking to the other end of the house made me winded. I tried and tried to figure out what might be wrong. I know that the morphine pump can cause edema but that's usually just in the feet and ankles. Then, right before I went in to the doctor it hit me. I have been using Catapres TTS patches since I had the morphine pump implanted. They are actually for high blood pressure but are used at times for symptoms of narcotic withdrawal. I took off my last patch on Sunday and by Monday night my feet were a little swollen. Tuesday morning was a little worse and this morning was just getting ridiculous.

When I got in the office my blood pressure was 195/102 and the nurse and doctor both said my heart was racing. My regular doctor is on vacation this week so I saw one of his partners. I tried to give him just enough history to know what was going on and right away he said I was reacting to taking off the Catapres patch.

He wrote me out a prescription for a couple months worth of patches and gave me a water pill to try to get rid of the swelling faster. He said no heavy lifting or strenuous activity. He seemed genuiney concerned about my heart. He said .."You are scheduled for a stress test and now is no time to be letting your heart get out of control like this." If I get any worse at all I am to come right back in to the office.

Tonight on American Idol we will find out the top 12 girls and the top 12 boys. I always like to go on the American Idol forums after the show to see who people are liking and who they are going to get behind and vote for. Well, last night on one of the posts I discovered a blog all about American Idol and also had some spoilers for tonights show. I have a list of who they have discovered are the top 24 people. It will be really interesting to see if it is correct. If you are interested in checking it out the blog is at http://mjsbigblog.com/categories/americanIdol
By the way, my very favorite so far is Katharine McPhee. I also like Paris Bennett but Katharine is more my taste in music. I haven't heard enough of the guys yet to know who I like. I felt so sorry for the little cowboy who had to go home but he really had a life changing experience and he knew he wasn't really ready for this.

When a person has been as sick as long as I have been in the last few years it seems the only thing I feel like doing at times is watching TV. It makes me feel like I'm with people and kind of takes up the hours of the day. Right now I am enjoying several of the reality shows. My favorites are ...1st of course is American Idol....2nd is Skating with Celebrities (I've always loved ice skating) and my choice for the winners are Jillian Barberie and John Zimmerman. I think John is about one of the smoothest and artistic skaters I've ever seen...3rd Dancing with the Stars and my pick for a winner there is Drew Lachey but I think he's gonna get beat out by "long legs" Stacey. and.. 4th The Amazing Race which will be starting in about a week. I love that show because they show so many different countries and it's the next best thing to being there.

I was fixing tomorrow's supper tonight. I just got the meat at the store today and decided to go ahead and brown it. Well, while that was done I thought I'd go ahead and put the lasagna together. Wayne thought it looked so good that I decided to go ahead and bake it for him tonight. We both took a taste and it is delicious!! I got the recipe off the Food Network from a show called "Barefoot Contessa". She used to have a restaurant in the Hamptons. Her recipes are probably my favorite. They are never very low fat but they are always excellent and I can change the ingredients around to make them a little more low fat.

Here is the lasagna recipe. It's got a few different things in it than normal lasagna's.

2 T olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage (I used half pork sausage and half ground white turkey meat)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, divided in half
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lasagna noodles
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup grated parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or till no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozarella, half the ricotta, and one 1/3 of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tyler making silly faces!

Tyler playing Mall Tycoon II on my computer while I'm on the laptop next to him.

I took Tyler to see Curious George yesterday. It was my 2nd time in 2 days to see the movie. It wasn't quite as interesting as the first time. When the movie started, Tyler kept looking back at the projector. I could see his wheels turning. In a little bit he said...Becky, let's go sit up there by that light and then we can hop in it and we'll be in the movie. I explained that you don't get in a movie by jumping in the light. I tried to explain to him a little bit about how they make movies in the about 30 seconds I had. He seemed to understand. He sure is a thinker though.

He wanted to sit in several different seats and I didn't. I wanted to stay where I was. So, I let him change seats as long as stayed in front of me where I could see him. He finally ended up in the row in front of me...several seats down. He kept talking to me in a very loud whisper. At one point I think I drifted off asleep and he said..(more loudly than I was comfortable with)....Becky, WAKE UP!!

Kids are amazing in their ability to use the computer. I had bought a game called Mall Tycoon II and had a terrible time trying to figure it out. I finally gave up on it. Tyler saw the game today and said he wanted to play it. I told him I didn't know how but if he could figure it out...go ahead. This little guy is 5 years old and is playing the game like an old pro. His favorite thing to do is build walls around people so they can't go anywhere. I'm just glad I don't visit any of Tyler's malls!!

I have been a little disappointed with my health again the last week. I have been having so much trouble with my stomach. It seemed like I had the flu at first but now I'm really doubting that. My stomach has just been a mess and I usually have a stomach of steel. My list of complaints are my stomach, I'm still sweating like mad, and another piece of one of the teeth that needs pulled chipped off. It seems neverending at times!

I fixed a really good supper for tonight that we ended up eating for lunch because it was so good. I'll post the 2 recipes with the original recipe like it's written and my changes in parenthesis.....

4 split chicken breasts (I used boneless)
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
1 red bell pepper , cored and seeded
2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
1 T white sesame seeds, toasted

For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar
3 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T dark sesame oil
1/2 T honey (1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 T sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 t kosher salt

1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

Get a grill pan good and hot. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Grill about 5-7 minutes on each side or till done in the middle and golden brown on the outside. Once you put the chicken on the grill...do not move it until you turn it. I learned this on the cooking shows becuase if you try to move it right away it will tear the meat and it won't be as good. Set aside to cool. When it is cooled, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 -5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and the sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
4 cups chopped yellow onions ..3 large (I used only about 1/3 of a cup..I don't like onions much)
2 T mild curry powder (I didn't use....didn't have any)
5 pounds of butternut squash ...2 large
1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh ...4 apples
2 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
2 cups water
2 cups apple juice

Here is what I added to this recipe:
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon

Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds, Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks and coat with a little fresh lemon juice.

Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat afor 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Process the soup through a food mill (I've always thought of it as an applesauce maker) You could also put it in a food processor or a blender but doing it in a food mill makes it a little chunkier and less like baby food.

Pour the soup back into the pot. Add the apple juice (or apple cider) and enough water (if needed) to make the soup the consistency you like. It should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot. I had to let it cook down a little bit because mine was a little on the runny side but in about half an hour it was ready. I don't think I used enough of the squash.

Wayne ate some of this soup all ready. I haven't. I asked him his honest opinion about it and he said it could be a little sweeter so I'll probably add a little more sugar, equal or honey.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kaleb at the movie

Wayne and I got to experience Kael and Kaleb's first movie at the theater yesterday. Alan and Eutemia, Kael, Kaleb, Wayne and I went to see Curious George.

Kael really enjoyed the movie. He sat on Alan's lap eating popcorn most of the movie. The last 5-10 minutes he got a little restless but the rest of the movie he barely moved.

Kaleb was such a good boy at the movie. He is always happy sitting on his Mommy's lap. He's pretty much in love with his Mommy right now. It will be nice when he's ready to reach out a little to others and feel comfortable with us but for now he's just a little guy who wants Mommy.

We all decided that Kaleb looks like Curious George and Kael acts like him!

Wayne didn't think he'd enjoy the movie at all. He thought a cartoon wouldn't be much fun to see but I noticed him laughing several times during the movie. It was a real cute story that kept your attention.

I get to take Tyler to the same movie today. I think he'll like it and probably will relate to Curious George.

Kael on Alan's

Kael and Grandpa Wayne

Saturday, February 11, 2006

There's snow in Memphis!!! And it practically closed the city down according to Kristi. You can see there's only about an inch on the ground but she said the grocery stores were packed and all out of ground beef when she went there. She had to get "veggie beef". That sounds pretty interesting. They even lost their electricity for a few hours last night because of "all this snow". She said the people just go crazy when it snows like this.

Jacob is certainly enjoying the snow. Kristi said he took his glove off to play with the snow and cried right away for her to put the glove back on. That snow is cold stuff!!

I just love this picture with the big snowflakes. I asked her if she tried to get it like that and she said no...if you take lots of pictures you'll sometimes get a good one. That seems to be what happens to me too. Once in a while I see a great picture out of all the shots.

I am beginning to have just a little more energy all ready today after taking the additional thyroid this morning. I will be so happy if this gives me some energy and I feel like doing anything at all. I have just felt like I can't hardly move through space...it drains me. I was thinking that I needed to build my stamina since having the pump implanted but now it looks like there was nothing I could have done besides taking more thyroid to get myself going.

The name of the new thyroid medicine is Cytomel. I looked it up and did some reading on it today and here is a quote from one of the articles.....

"Until recently, Cytomel was used by bodybuilders and female bodybuilders, in particular-on a daily basis over several months to remain "hard" and in good shape all year round. Believe us when we tell you that to a great extent several bodybuilders who are pictured in "muscle magazines" and display a hard and de­fined look in photos, eat fast food and iron this out by taking Cytomel. The over stimulated thyroid burns calories like a blast furnace."

I hope this weight loss is true for me and not just the bodybuilders but I was pretty excited when I read this today!! My thyroid probably won't be over stimulated but hopefully it will be stimulated enough to do some good. And, don't be looking for me in any body builder magazines...I won't be there...lol!

Friday, February 10, 2006

I guess tonight it's good news, bad news, good news and bad news.

The good news? The increase in the pump is helping the pain this time. I never felt any difference in the other two increases. I'm just thrilled to have a little less pain.

The bad news? When they do a refill on a pump they first draw out all the old medicine out of the pump. The program on the computer they have talks to my pump and it tells them how much medicine they should get out of the pump. This time they drew out more medicine than should have been in there. This could mean one of several things...the pump malfunctioned this month, it might have been programmed wrong (which the nurse may never admit), there could be a kink in the catheter they leads from the pump to the spinal canal or the worst one...there could be an inflammatory mass on the spine from the catheter or the medicine dripping there. The mass is very rare...but it does happen. The doctors think that it usually happens to people at very high doses of medicine that have had their pumps in for quite some time. But, it can happen to someone who just has a reaction to that catheter sitting in the spinal canal. I am just praying that this is not the case. I wouldn't like it if the pump was malfunctioning or there was a kink in the catheter but that would be a much better reason than the mass. Please pray with me that it was just a one time happening and it meant nothing.

The bad news again? I have not had any energy for quite some time. It is a real effort just to get up and shower and get dressed. I would prefer to stay in my robe and nightgown all day long. This is not normal for me. I tried looking up some of my symptoms on the computer a couple nights ago and it seemed to point to the thyroid. I had most of mine removed when I was 16 and am taking a fairly high dose of thyroid right now. The doctor agreed when I saw him Wednesday that the thyroid should be checked because the last time it was checked was July 2005. Well I went into the hospital last night around 3:30 or 4:00 and had the blood drawn...once they found a vein. Remember my hiding veins?

The good news? I am low on thyroid. I had told the doctor that I thought I might be on the high side because when the last test had come back it had been a little high. This is really good news. He is putting me on a 2nd thyroid medication and now I have hope that it might restore my energy and even help me to lose weight. I couldn't figure out why I gained weight and was eating so little. This is probably the reason.

After writing this I checked one of the chronic back pain forums I visit often and got a reply from the doctor that lives in Columbus that did my trial and was going to do my pump implant until I found Dr. Grove in Elkhart...so much closer. The doctor in Columbus is Dr. Michael Whitworth and here is what he said could have happened to the pump this time...

Quote...."Pumps have a tolerance of about 10% in terms of the delivery therefore could have delivered 10% less than expected, resulting in 10% increase in residual volume. Other possibilities: incorrect programming, obstruction to delivery (kink in the spinal catheter, surgical suture inadvertantly placed around the catheter during implant, etc), overfilling of the pump during the last visit, rotor malfunction or battery depletion, miscalculation of the residual volume"

That sounds like the best news yet. It just might be that it was overfilled last time or there is an allowance for delivery. Makes me feel a little better.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I had the injection in my neck this afternoon and also the pump refill. I was having a lousy day anyway and by the time I got to the hospital I felt downright terrible. My stomach was upset and I was having more pain than usual.

The first thing the nurses did was "try" and I say try to get an IV started. I have discovered that when I don't feel very good my veins take a hike into deeper territory. The nurses discovered it too. Three nurses all tried to get the IV started and after digging around in my arm and hand for what seemed like forever they got the doctor. He studied my hand for 3-4 minutes, got the needle ready and slid it right in the vein the first try and I felt no pain at all. He was pleased with himself and the nurses and gave him kudos for a job well done. Made me feel a little better about the injection too.

They walked me down to the procedure room and it's kind of hard to explain how I had to lay but I had to boost my chest up onto this form and hide my face inside of it so it stretched out the neck. I do not like dark tight places and felt like I was going to have a panic attack. Just then the doctor came in and they gave me the versed and fentanyl. (they won't give any meds till he gets in the room and ready to do the injection) Anyway, after that I don't remember a thing although they said I talked to them during the procedure. Next thing I knew I was back in my room getting ready for the pump refill. Wayne said I asked him 4 times how I got to the room...did I walk?...did you bring me on a wheelchair?? He said they were really patient in telling me each time...you got here on a wheelchair.

I asked for another increase on the pump since it's still so hard to stand and do anything. He wasn't going to give me an increase today but changed his mind and increased me 20%...from 4.5 to 6.0 mgs a day. They also increased the concentration of morphine so I won't have to come every 2 weeks for a refill. Now it will be 2 months between refills.

I did wake up enough to watch American Idol tonight. Tomorrow night they start the Hollywood Week. That is always pretty interesting and you can tell so much more about the talent. I would guess that a week from Monday they will start the singing. Can't wait!!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Poor little Caden. Here is what his eye looks like after
two days of healing. The lump has gone down but he's
got one big shiner of a black eye. He spent the day at
Great Grandma Marilyn's and Great Grandpa Dick's
house today and they said he wasn't feeling real good
in the morning until he got some Advil.

This is our daughter Kristi and her son Jacob.
They came here Sunday to visit for a week. We
are always so thrilled to have them visit. Wayne
gave Jacob a new nickname by mistake but we
all thought it sounded perfect for a little guy from
Tennessee. Wayne wrote a typewritten note and
put it on their bed to welcome them in case we
were both asleep when they got here. Anyway,
he misspelled Jacob's name and spelled it Jabob.
So, we have teased all evening calling him Jabob.
The worst thing about their visit is they have
to go home way too soon. It's always so hard
to see them leave.

Here is Jacob (or his new nickname Jabob:) enjoying

his supper. He had all ready eaten pork kabobs and

rice and his Mom brought out the spinach and artichoke

dip and he ate almost the whole dip. He makes a cracker

go a long ways and dips the same cracker over and over.

He's always so thoughtful and offers us bites off his cracker.

We keep the sweeper close to the table. He does well

eating but also drips a few things on the floor!

I had a pretty rough day physically which is really disappointing since Kristi and Jacob are here. I had a lot more pain in my back than usual but worst thing is I kept getting chest pains on and off all day long. I have been drinking mylanta like water. When Wayne came home this evening I had an especially hard attack and we both got in the car and headed for the emergency room. Wouldn't you know that the pain went away halfway there so we turned around and came home. Now, I kinda wish we had gone because the pain is so uncomfortable I'm having trouble getting to sleep.

Tomorrow is my next pump refill and I'm also getting an injection in my neck. It doesn't sound like a real fun day but I'm hoping the injection will help my neck and I sure don't want to run out of morphine in my pump. That would be something I never want to experience. I went into withdrawals a couple years ago when I switched from the fentanyl patch to a pill that was slow release morphine. The doctor I had at the time didn't do the switchover right and I went into horrible withdrawals. I have since then had doctor's say that withdrawals can't kill you but it sure feels like it is at the time!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

This is Caden Allen. He is Katie and Steve's youngest child. He is almost 18 months old and is a real cutie.

Caden had a bad afternoon today. He and his big brother Tyler were playing with their "blankies" together and somehow Caden fell and hit his head. He ended up with a golf ball size knot right above his eye and cried for several hours. Steve & Katie took him to the emergency room right away and there was a 3 hour wait but they thought it better to wait there rather than drive to South Bend because if he'd start getting worse, he'd be closer to medical help.

While they were waiting to be seen by the doctor at the emergency room he played at a little kids table and chair set. He was sitting in one of the chairs and a little girl came in with her parents and he pulled out a chair and patted it for her to come and sit by him. I guess that got the attention of everyone in the waiting room and they all thought he was pretty cute...even with the big knot on his head.

We kept Tyler here while they were at the ER. Wayne picked him up in the parking lot of the hospital and Wayne said as soon as he got in the car he burst into tears and said....Don't tell my Mom & Dad but it's my fault that Caden's hurt. He did the same thing when he saw me. We felt so sorry for him and tried to explain it was just an accident. In about a half hour Tyler's parents called to give us an update on Caden and Tyler talked to his Dad and poured out his heart. His Daddy told him the same thing...it wasn't his fault. The relief showed on his face and even in his body language. Then he told me he didn't think Caden would be all right because all Caden's imagination and brains were in that knot. I explained to him that when someone gets hurt their body sends a lot of blood to the area so it can start to heal and it can cause that area swell like Caden's did and that knot on Caden's head wasn't Caden's brain and imagination....it was a collection of blood. He listened intently. It's just so hard to imagine what a child is thinking or how they are perceiving a situation. It showed me again how vulnerable children are and how much they need the guidance and unconditional love and understanding of the adults in their lives.

Well, Caden is going to be fine. The doctor said that they didn't even need to do a CT scan. Tyler got picked up a little bit ago and I heard him asking his Mom on the way out the door...will I catch that from Caden? Poor little guy...there's so much in life to learn yet!! Thank goodness kids are natural learners in every situation in life that they encounter. We are very thankful that Caden will be fine!!

I am adding this to say that I enlarged the pictures of Caden from this blog and noticed that they have a lot of white specs in them. I guess my scanner needs cleaned. If anyone looking at this wants a copy of these pictures of Caden, please email me and I will send you an attachment with these pics.

Had a great sandwich last night. Here's a quick recipe for it.
1 package sandwich wraps (if you shop at WalMart they're by the deli...at least in Plymouth they are)
1/2 bottle thousand island dressing
6-10 slices of bacon, fried and drained well
1/2 pound turkey (or your meat of choice), sliced very thin
7-8 slices of muenster cheese
lettuce (I used a bag of romaine all ready washed and torn)

Lay out all the wraps on your countertop. Spread the thousand island dressing on each wrap making sure to get the dressing all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top of dressing. Add 1 thin layer of the turkey on the whole wrap. Place 2-3 small pieces of the thinly sliced cheese at even intervals on top of turkey. Put lettuce on top of cheese and roll from the long side trying to keep them fairly tight without ripping the wrap. Slice each wrap in 2-3 pieces and either eat or wrap up and refrigerate to eat at a later date.

I'm not a big fan of turkey sandwiches. I will eat them but they have to be a little more exiting than your typical turkey and cheese between two slices of bread. This is a little out of the ordinary and the thousand island dressing gives them a very good taste.

Friday, February 03, 2006

(Mikalah) Rhebeca
7 years old
Rhebeca loves to have her
picture taken and has been
posing since she was about
a year old. She's becoming
such a beautiful girl but
she's growing up WAY too fast!

Our Son's Family
Alan & Eutemia
Rhebeca (7 years old)
Kael (2 years old)
Kaleb (6 months old)

I went to the cardiologist today and she wants to do a stress test. It helps so much to validate the pain to have a morphine pump. She didn't even question me when I told her there was no way I could do a stress test on a treadmill. Instead, I will get an IV and they will inject a drug that will speed up my heart and then while my heart is rapid they will do an echo and make sure it's working right. I saw her in her new office and what was amazing is that it is on the 2nd floor above my family doctor and she was able to pull off all my records from his computer. The computers are all linked together. Sure makes it easier than getting and copying reports for her.

The narcotics were real hard on my teeth and I've all ready had several root canals and crowns. I still need 2 teeth pulled and probably veneers on all the front teeth and a couple more root canals. The first thing that needs to be done is have the teeth pulled...I have babied them along for over a year. The cardiologist wants me to wait to have that done until after the stress test so she knows if I can be safely put under anesthesia.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Kaleb Richard
6 months old

Kael Victor
Kaleb's big brother
2 years

These pictures were taken this week...the first professional pictures these boys have had taken. Kael's didn't scan as well and has more red in it than Kaleb's but it's not too bad. They're a couple of cuties!

Here's another recipe that we tried tonight. We both loved it but there was a little too much garlic and salt. It was delicious but I would make a couple changes next time which I have put in parenthesis.

I did learn that if you get a soup too spicy to put a whole peeled potato into it for a while and it will soak up some of the flavor. This is too thick to do that with or I would try it to get rid of the salty flavor with a potato.


1 package lasagna noodles

3 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 and would use none next time)

3 tablespoons flour (I used 4...wanted it thicker)

2 1/2 cups half-and-half (I used fat free)

1 cup grated Romano

1/2 teaspoon salt (I would use just a scant amount or even none next time)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3/4 pound sea scallops, cut in half or quartered if very large (I used a 1 lb bag)

3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used a 1 lb bag)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9 inch pan with vegetable cooking spray.

In a large pot of boiled salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until they are just done, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet and cook the onion over low heat until very soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more...don't burn the garlic!! Over medium-low heat stir in the flour with a whisk, then gradually add the half-and-half, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly before adding more. When the sauce has thickened to about the consistency of whipping cream, add the cheese and stir well. Add the salt and pepper and stir again. Add the scallops and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. (they take longer to cook than shrimp), then add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the shrimp turn pink. Do not overcook the shrimp and scallops or they will be rubbery. Turn off heat.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the sauce from the skillet into the prepared pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with 4 noodles, placing them side by side. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles, distributing half of the seafood evenly. (I added a light layer of shredded cheese after each seafood layer). Layer 4 more noodles, 1/3 of the sauce, and remaining seafood. Cover with the last 4 noodles and the remaining sauce. (For the top layer, do not spoon any seafood on top of the noodles;just use the sauce.) Tuck in any edges of the noodles so they're all coated with sauce. Top with the Parmesan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, uncovered, until bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

Sorry if there's any typos:)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Kristi & Eric's little guy
Jacob Andrew

Katie & Steve's youngest...
Caden Allen

Rhebeca and Rebecca

Rhebeca's 6th birthday

I noticed that when I went through the layouts I don't have as many of the younger grandkids as I do of the older two. That's mostly because I felt better a few years ago and haven't been able to keep up with the little ones. So, if things seem uneven...that's why:)

We had a great dinner last night and I'd like to share the recipes with you today. They are all from the Food Network. I have been watching those cooking shows and have learned so much about cooking that I never knew. Here is a link to food network if you want to check it out. http://www.foodnetwork.com

2 1/2 pounds beef stew meat or beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 1/2 pounds pork stew meat or shoulder, cut into 1- inch cubes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup corn oil
2 large Spanish onions, chopped
10 large cloves garlic, minced (I used 3)
1/3 cup chili powder, plus 2 tablespoons (I used about 1 T)
1 tablespoon ground cumin (I used 1 t)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used crushed tomatoes)
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Serving suggestions: White rice, chopped cilantro, shredded Cheddar, chopped tomatoes, minced fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers

Pat the meat dry with a paper towel and season with the salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large stew pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the meat, in small batches, until well browned, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Transfer meat to a bowl and reserve.
Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan. Saute the onions over medium heat for 10 minutes, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more. Stir in the 1/3 cup chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook for 2 minutes. Add the canned diced tomatoes and whisk in 4 cups of the stock. Add the meat and any accumulated juices back to the pot. Bring to a gentle simmer. Season the chili with the salt and pepper, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
In a food processor or blender puree half of the beans with the remaining 1 cup of stock. Add the bean mixture to the chili along with the whole beans. Let simmer, uncovered, 1 hour more or until the meat is tender. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons chili powder and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with rice and suggested condiments.

I put my changes in parentheses if you like your food a little more on the mild side. I can't imagine 10 cloves of garlic or that much chili powder but some people like it HOT!


1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup water (98 to 105 degrees F)
2 1/2 cups plus 1/2 to 1 cup prepared biscuit mix
1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup stick butter melted.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

dissolve the yeast in the water. Put the 2 1/2 cups of biscuit mix in a large bowl; stir in the sugar. Add the yeast mixture, stirring vigorously. Sprinkle the work surface generously with the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup biscuit mix.

Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead well, 15 to 20 times. Shape the dough as desired. (I shape heaping tablespoons of dough into balls). Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Just before putting into oven, brush rolls with melted butter. (I forgot this part because my back was hurting by now). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or till golden brown. Brush the rolls again with melted butter while they're hot. (I forgot this part too...in fact, I think the butter is still in my microwave)


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and slowly whisk in wet ingredients. Pour into greased 9 by 13 inch pan and bake for 25 minutes. This can be dusted with confectioners sugar.

I found it took longer than 25 minutes for my cake to bake and it was so moist it didn't need any sugar on top. I have never had a moister chocolate cake and it's so easy!!