Because I am feeling a little onery and they say it is cathartic to write your feelings down I am posting the letter I just spewed out. Because of Anna's six day hospital stay we obviously met our $4000 deductible, so I only have two days to get prescriptions filled for zero co-payment. I started this on Tuesday, December 23rd and as of 2:00pm, today the 30th, I have had no response from my doctor's office. I have had issues before but was too lazy to make a change.

I still can't decide if I should send this or not but wow, it really did feel good to write it. And boy, oh boy, am I long winded. Am I one of those people that tell a story that goes on and on and on? Don't answer that. This is when being a to the point male would come in handy.

Dear Dr. Raisinbottom*,

I have been a patient of yours since you were located in Pygmie Physicians Building on Utopia*. Even though I lived in Geriatricville* and then in the Yuppyrainbowville* area I continued to see you when you moved South and then further South. This was because I really liked being under your care. So much so that I referred my friends and colleagues to you and they are now some of your patients. You also became my daughter's pediatrician once we moved to Tulsa.

Maybe this is where the problem lies, you are overbooked. I have had several instances where I was unable to get an appointment with you within a weeks time. I understand requesting an appointment for the same day and not being able to see you and having to see another doctor within your practice. However, two years ago I was released from the Hospital after having chest pains and I was to have a follow up visit with you following my release. The earliest appointment I was able to get was two weeks from the day I called. I informed the receptionist that you were the one to tell me to go to the hospital and not come to your office and that the Drs. at Pygmie* said I needed to see my primary care physician right away. Still no appointment until two weeks later. I tried to be called in case of a cancellation but was told your office doesn't do that.

There have been basic customer service issues with the receptionist at the desk because I signed in on the wrong clipboard, updating again my information after giving the correct information on the previous visit, or when I was overcharged and had to walk the person who could give me a credit through the steps in order to correct the billing. Before your office had the outgoing message regarding contacting my pharmacy for a refill I was completely chastised for calling your office directly. That was a common occurrence because your other patients, that I worked with, had the same issue and were completely taken aback with how rude your office was when requesting a refill.

The lack of customer service and professionalism was something I, and my friends that are now your patients, take in stride because you and Towanda* (her nurse) are wonderful-once we actually get to see you.

Last month, when you were too busy to see my daughter and she ended up being admitted to St. Howmuchisthisgoingtocost* for six days, I switched her to Dr. Newbie* because she seemed to really click with Anna. Now, I am going to look for another primary care physician for myself.

I called on December 23rd requesting Towanda's* voicemail or to call me back regarding my prescriptions and the receptionist said she was Towanda's* screener and that I needed to tell her what prescriptions I needed. Frankly, after dealing with your office staff and knowing several people that work in medical offices I do not feel like talking to anyone about my prescription or medical needs besides you or Towanda*. On Tuesday, the 23rd, she took my message and I received no call back. Monday, December 29th, I called and spoke with Melissa (that is her real name). I explained to her that I had met my deductible of $4000 and needed to get my prescriptions filled before the end of the year. She understood and since I already knew the hoops I had to jump through from my previous call I gave her my prescription requests. No call back and the pharmacy does not have the script. Today, December 30th, I call again and strongly request that someone call me back. Yea, yea okay.

I am so happy that you have a successful practice and I still think you are a wonderful doctor and very thorough. However, since it has become more difficult to deal with your office staff than I am willing to wade through, I am going to look for another doctor. In most situations I would not take the time to explain why since it is my choice and my money but I wanted you to know it was not YOU but your practice that I do not want to deal with. I will always remember how caring and kind you, your nurses, and the lab were when I returned from Asia so sick I thought I would never get better. Thank you.

*names and places changed for the hell of it

I think I will sleep on it, pare it down, and send it. Now to search for a new doctor..........
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This was our family's third Christmas together. Last year my stepkids spent Christmas at their mom's and we went to Texas to my sister's house. Santa brought a Wii, we only have one child that no longer believes in Santa Claus. But I think we won't have anyone left next year believing in the jolly old man. Last year I bemoaned the whole Santa charade and was anxious for it to end. However, I did not welcome the question, two days before his planned arrival, if I thought Santa was real. I looked at Anna, wanting to blow the lid off the whole deal but knowing we had a plan in place and mommy does not like her plans jumbled, so I told her that when I was her age that yes, I thought Santa was real. I quickly left the room before she could ask anymore questions.

I think it worked because here she is reading the note she asked Santa to write her after he ate his cookies and left her Horton Hears a Who. A what?? All month I have been asking her what Santa was going to bring her and she said she didn't know and she didn't care. She acted all cool about it. And then low and behold at 9:00 PM while writing a note to Santa to leave with his milk and cookies, she writes that all she wants is Horton Hears a Who. Well, forget it sister you are getting a Wii instead.

And just to document the unnatural event, the above picture is my husbands ex-wife, my stepkid's mother, passing out the stockings. She came over Christmas Eve and ate with us and returned at 7 in the morning. She was invited to spend the night, and her kids really wanted her to, Tony said nothing, but she had made other plans. I think it all turned out great.
We got her three gifts so she had something to open. She seemed a little wierd about how many presents the kids were opening because she has the family tradition of three gifts, like the wisemen. (so does my sister) But I assured her the Wii was the big expense. We bought $60 worth of stuff from the dollar store and we wrapped each. and. every. thing. Even the chapstick. I just wish I had started that tradition six years ago. Quantity over quality for the 10 and under crowd. That will be the wisdom I am going to impart to Anna when she has kids.
And not to put myself on a pedestal or anything, but I think forgiving her for the false abuse charge and trying to make things easier for our kids was truly in the Christmas spirit. Because there is no way on my own I would have done this but I think it is more in line with what would Jesus do.
Here is one of the projects I did on Saturday into Sunday without too many words, because whenever I sighed or seemed a little overwhelmed, my husband was so kind to remind me that I did this to myself. He let me know, ever so gently, that no one was forcing me to make The Pioneerwoman Cinnamon Rolls for 22 people. Let's call this photo montage Le Cinna Rolla by Le Crazy.

The Ingredients for Cinnamon Rolls, Butter Cake, Italian Cookie Cake, Apple Cake, and Christmas Cookie Balls.

Scalding the milk for the Cinnamon Rolls

The Risen Dough

Lights, camera, action!

The climatic scene, or what I think is the biggest pain making these rolls.

Buttered, sugared, and spiced


Only eleven more pans to go.......
My co-star, Cella.

I have fully recovered from my night of wrapping presents and the Big Mac was a huge help. Now I am gearing up for all my baking, Christmas dinner at our house with the In-Laws, wrapping and packaging all the goodies I will have made for co-workers, neighbors, child care takers, and friends.

We had a great time Thursday night with my dad and his wife. They made reservations at a nice restaurant, The Polo Grill, and we had a private room so the kids were able to move around a bit. I would love to have the same room for a night with a group of friends. I think the food was fine, but the atmosphere was perfect.

After dinner we came back to our house to open presents. My dad's wife does such a tremendous job buying the gifts for our family. She literally gets exactly what you ask for. I have no idea how she has time for all of this with her job, her volunteering, her own family, and taking care of my dad. It is just amazing. Her attention to detail and her desire to make things so perfect and pleasant is really appreciated, especially taking into consideration that my dad is not really a joy to be around at the holidays. I am not sure why, he just seems to retreat into himself every year and the ones closest to him pay the price. He has great intentions and wants to use this time to express how much he loves us but somehow the actual celebration is too stressful for him. But after 38 years I have learned to accept it and not try and change or bring him out of his shell but to think of his intentions instead.

Anyway, my stepmom did GREAT! but the most hilarious thing happened. I really hope it is not embarrassing to her for me to tell, though I don't think she has read my blog but once or twice. But in telling this story it explains how much she tries to get every little thing on our wish list. BTW, I got a Cuisinart Food Processor and blender, waa-hoo!!

Okay, she sent an email wanting to know what place our girls would like a gift certificate to and the sizes for our kids. She also wanted to know what small gift my husband would want because they already bought him a handgun. The day I got the email I was in a hurry so I forwarded to my husband. He responded to me what he thought the kids would like and in his usual wise-cracking way he said, and I quote, "for me, a beret and parachute pants".

When I got it I sent it on without instructions to my stepmom, who reads it on her blackberry, while in the midst of shopping.

While opening my presents Thursday night, I opened a package that was from Banana Republic, in it was a beautiful cream cashmere beret. I thought how lovely I think I can make this work with all my black coats.

My stepmom was watching me and said very quizzically, you said you wanted a beret and this was all I could find. I looked at her like she was crazy, beret? Yes, she said, in your email but I looked everywhere and I could not find the parachute pants. They do not make them anymore.

OH NO! she didn't get Tony's joke. But the very first thing I thought of, and had to asked her, was if she had actually told anyone that I wanted parachute pants. I have my reputation to think of.
The Christmas presents are all wrapped, but this morning I am dying because I had no idea that one bottle of wine would disappear so quickly. I have been sitting at my desk counting down the moments to when McDonald's starts serving lunch. I need a Big Mac combo meal, I must have it. But then I get a 10:30am meeting reminder for THE Meeting that has been scheduled and re-scheduled since early November.

10:30 to 12! I don't think I am going to make it.

I just have to make it until 5. I can do this. I am trying to conjure up my twenty-six year old self that had no problems going to work after a night out. She is not responding.

We are celebrating Christmas tonight with my dad and his wife. The bill will be about $30 less because Tony and I will be drowning ourselves in water, just water.

But hey! the presents are wrapped.
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When I read Stephanie's post on making yogurt in her crockpot I wanted to try it right away. But I was at work and my cubicle was not where I wanted to spend the 13 and a 1/2 hours needed to make this. So I put it off, talking about the idea of it repeatedly to my husband, who told me he made yogurt in a Lab at OSU. He hated it, he said it was way too sour and gross, but I was not to going to be swayed. I wanted to try it and the only thing standing in my way was procrastination.

The other weekend I finally did it. Oh man is this awesome! My batch made 12 little jars of yogurt.

I asked the kids what flavors they liked best and ended up buying frozen bags of cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and peaches. This is what I learned:

  1. Do not buy FIVE different fruits. In fact, do not let anyone know they actually have a choice in flavors.
  2. Use jelly, preserves, or jam instead.
  3. When putting the yogurt in the fridge to cool add the flavoring then and leave overnight. Just adding the fruit to the plain and then eating does not please the picky palates in my household, mine included.
  4. Even a packet of gelatin added when I added the Greek yogurt does not make the yogurt thick. Still more of a milkshake.
  5. Do not have expectations of praise for making homemade yogurt from 10, 9, and 5 year olds.

Overall, I really liked the yogurt and the flavor is even better on the second day. I am going to try adding powdered milk next time to see if I can get it a little thicker. Plus the cost savings are huge!

Using the frozen berries was a pain. I put a portion of berries from each bag into separate containers and sprinkled sugar over them. (I never said I was making this for healthy organic reasons but more for cost and curiosity) After they had thawed, I took my stick blender and pureed each berry container, rinsing the blender between each batch. Grrrrr. Then I added about 2 tablespoons to each jar and labeled. I did make some yogurt jars with combo flavors that I thought were very good.

I will definitely try this again. I could this weekend since I will be in my kitchen making Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls, Joyful Abode's Snickerdoodles, and Cheaper Than Therapy's Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls for teacher gifts, daycare gifts, neighbor gifts, and work gifts. Maybe Tony will join me in the kitchen making his own homemade specialty, beer.

Too bad he procrastinated and we won't have his brew ready for New Years, but maybe by Martin Luther King's Birthday.

Or even Valentines. Nothing says I love you like a case of beer. Apparently that is how my husband's family shows affection because they made sure we took home a case of Old Style when we left Illinois.
Wow! BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes 2008 has a TON and I mean a TON of participants. I got so many ideas last year and throughout this month of reading other blogs. This is so much fun almost like driving through neighborhoods at dusk when homeowners, that I covet, have just turned on the lamps but they haven't lowered the shades yet. I love peeking in.

The front of our house and the part of the decorations my husband is completely in charge of. I think he did a great job. We made those wreaths three years ago for our old house. When I tell Tony that we need more for the upstairs he pretends to not hear me.

This is our entry. If I put off sanding and washing the walls in the stairwell until March we will have officially gone one year since taking down the wallpaper. The issue now is not just dreading the scaffolding, but I think I want to change colors. Again with the deafness.

My dining room. Maybe this year we will actually eat in it more than once every four months.

The family room tree. This tree was my husband's mother's. Obviously it is fake and it is so on its last leg. It is being anchored by fishing line tied to a hook secured in the wall. Say goodbye tree.

My mantle in the family room. Last year we had already had many fires in the fireplace but the allure of that image is completely gone since the ice storm last year. We just can't look at the fireplace the same after cooking in it and warming by it for the seven days we were without power. However this year we have more than enough wood after cutting down the three trees we lost in the ice storm.

When I married Tony I inherited his Christmas Village collection. I was never really into that whole thing but after putting it together this year and moving it to this cabinet from the piano I want more for the other cabinet. I know you can hear me Tony.

This is my favorite tree. It is in our game room, the room where we spend the most amount of time. The room that is still sporting its seventies vinyl flooring and faux wood paneling. This tree has our ornaments that we bought when we got married. I loved them.

So not kid friendly but I didn't care.

Nothing says Christmas like, don't even think about touching the tree.

Those little stockings are actually for silverware at my place setting. They take up too much room at the dinner table.

Well that was my house. I am going to link up with BooMama's house tour but I have to run take Anna to the doctor. Hopefully we will hear she can get off the antibiotics. That would be GREAT!

edited at 8:35 pm: added the link to BooMama's blog and even better Anna is off IV antibiotics and now has seven days worth of oral antibiotics to take three times a day! Praise the Lord!

Oh yes I did. I know this is weird, but I wish they made a candle that captured the smell of this soup as it was cooking. And since this blog was originally started to share my favorite Crockpot recipes and not, amazingly, to educate on the dangers of staph infections, I thought I would post a Crockpot recipe. Shocking!

But seriously, I made a version of this last weekend and again yesterday for our small group dinner. It is so good, and for a total white girl, a little exotic. I mean how many plain old white cook their main dishes with cinnamon? There are some people who think eating Indian Fry Bread or Guy-Rows at the state fair is full on exposure to ethnic food Because come on everyone knows that cinnamon is for breakfast! And now that Starbucks is on every corner cinnamon has expanded its usefulness to lattes. That being said do not be afraid of this recipe, it will not freak your Mac-n-Cheese loving kids out. Buy some Pita Bread or a nice crusty bread slap some Oleo on it and go to town.

(I made lentil soup before and without the garam masala would be super good for the less adventurous)

I pretty much stuck to the recipe I found on but since I am completely unable to stick to a recipe I changed it up a bit. For example, it no longer has lamb because I am not a fan of lamb. It does not have the pasta, the eggs, or lemon either. I mid-westerned this Moroccan Lentil Soup recipe up and then made it exotic by making it vegetarian**.

2 tbls Canola Oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (I actually have no idea the exact measurement I just lightly sprinkled this in)
3 tbls butter cut into three pats
1 cup of sliced celery (I didn't really measure this either maybe 5-6 stalks sliced in half moons)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (29 oz) can whole tomatoes with juice, Cento brand (I use my potato masher to chop up and I take out the basil leaf but diced tomatoes would work)
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1lb lentils (2 cups)

In a large saucepan sauté onions and celery with the canola oil. Once veggies are sweating add turmeric, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne, butter, and cilantro. Cook on medium heat stirring frequently until veggies are soft and turmeric has started to make the mixture a little sticky, 5-10 minutes.

Dump the veggies in Crockpot. In the sauté pan dump tomatoes juice and all and mash with potato masher. If using diced tomatoes then skip this step. Pour tomatoes into Crockpot and add broth, water, and lentils. Give it a good stir and cook on high for 6 hours or low 8-10 hours. This makes a lot so it is perfect to freeze part of it for a wintry day. Adding cooked diced chicken would be good too.
Printable recipe here

My daughter absolutely loves this soup. She liked my other one too, but she likes this version better.

**I am totally kidding about the whole white bred/bread midwestern thing. I know plenty of caucasians that eat ethnic food :)

This Christmas we are not going anywhere but to our church and to our house. We are so committed to being at home for Christmas this year that we have invited my husband's ex-wife and all of her family over for Christmas Eve. But this Thanksgiving we did the holiday shuffle and by God we loved it! (Now stop touching her/him and if you don't shut it you can hand over your DS) Driving at night after a full day of school will help and bringing an entire laundry basket full of DVDs. We stopped in St.Louis, halfway between here and there. Our kids had never seen The Arch up close and personal.

Their father will never see the actual inside of The Arch because he is a chicken deathly afraid of heights. I will not be able to ride to the top ever again because it was there in The Arch, halfway up, that I became acutely aware that I was claustrophobic. The rocking back and forth in an enclosed cage much like a ferris wheel basket was more than I could handle. When my cage reached the top I almost trampled over the three ninety year old tourists that had ridden with me in my effort to get out to finally breathe and stand up straight.

Our kids didn't seem to mind that their parents were going to deny them the opportunity to reach the top of The Arch. They were too busy freezing. But what is the best way to warm a body up?

Racing to the car!
First thing first, my daughter's finger is much much better. And her mother is a complete loser for not writing an update sooner. I would like to have a great excuse but I just don't and thank you so much for caring and sending emails asking because it broke through my funk.

Anna's finger was diagnosed with osteomyelitis and she is still on IV antibiotics through her central line. I have been continuing to flush with saline and heparin to help keep the line clear so that they can draw blood for her labs without having to stick her. This has seemed to work.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving she was switched to Rocephin once a day instead of Vancomycin twice a day. This was very nice considering we left that night for Illinois.

We spent Thanksgiving in the small farm town, Gardener, just outside of Joliet. My husband's parents are from there and the majority of both sides still live there.

There was no drama which was not what I expected. See, my husband's mother, Lynn, died while he was in college and his father remarried about seven years later. His new wife would love to be my husband's new mom but considering all the kids were grown when they married that just was not necessary; and not likely to happen anyway.

Long story short. His dad's wife invited herself to, get this, Lynn's (my husband's mom) brother's house for Thanksgiving. She also invited my husband's stepsisters and their families. But when about our family, my husband's aunt and uncle were told that we would not be able to come since we go to Texas for Thanksgiving. Uh, no we don't, we went to his dad's and stepmom's last Thanksgiving. This obvious exclusion and complete intrusion fired my husband up and he made sure we were all going to be there. Oh man!! did that start a huge, and I mean huge, fight.

Anyway, we all went, even my stepkids got to go. And my mother-in-law? Well she and her family had to stay at my father-in-law's mother's house-it just had one bathroom. Oh yea! good times.

There is more and yet there is less. Anxiety is running high in my family right now. But I will write about that later after I get a grasp on my own emotions and lack there of.

But bottomline, my daughter, she is GREAT! and her finger looks a thousand times better. And her mother? well her mother wants to thank you for all the emails and the comments and I am sorry I was too overwhelmed to update after spewing all the ugly and then not relaying the positive. Thank you so much for caring!
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Last night I hooked up Anna to her IV and then started cooking dinner, Parmesan Garlic Chicken, a favorite in our house. I also made Vesuvio Potatoes, another favorite, but they didn't turn out so great because I was interrupted and then had a slight freak out. (if you just want the recipe click here)

My husband had gone to the store to get some ingredients for the cupcakes I am making for my stepson's birthday party. Before he left he and I had gone through the tedious steps to make sure there was no air in the IV line, not a simple job for lay person. The IV pump is super sensitive and even though you think all the air is out it will not turn on until you have touched your nose three times while turning in a half circle and holding your right foot up in the air. Somehow the pump knows this has been completed because mysteriously after being turned on and off and just after paging the home health nurse it turns on.

Anyway, Anna was hooked up and she was watching TV with her stepsister. I was prepping and cooking. (Onions cooking in bacon grease before throwing in canned green beans smells awesome!) Suddenly I hear my name being yelled. Anna has decided she must immediately go to the bathroom and they had gotten the IV cord tangled up in a plant that fell over onto them as they were pushing the pump to the bathroom. I righted the plant let out a huge sigh and told Anna that I better not have to get air out of the line.

Next thing I know the pump is beeping and I start toward the bathroom with massive attitude and exasperation. That quickly changed into panic. Anna had gotten tangled up in the power cord and blood was flowing from her chest into the IV tube and up toward the bag. I FREAKED! I started yelling what the hell?! asking her why she left the power cord on top of her IV line?! Couldn't she feel it pull on her chest?!

Shaking I called my husband who was on his way home and told me to clamp her line and unhook her. He came in as I was flushing her central line and trying not to throw up. I realize that it was probably nothing and that back flush in an IV is normal but there is just something about seeing your kids blood flowing out of their body that will make you lose your shit,or maybe that is just me.

She got a stern lecture on the seriousness of her central line and how we are no longer in the hospital where someone can come quickly to save the day. I was crying, she was crying, my stepdaughter was crying, and my husband is taking control of the situation. I ended up apologizing and telling them both that moms are suppose to not freak out like that but that I loved them so much and that I was really scared. I think Anna now gets that her central line and IV is not to be treated like a purse. Something to sling around and play with.

Back to the kitchen. My potato wedges had been boiling to long and some of them would have made great mashed potatoes. I drained them anyway and drizzled olive oil and seasoning over all then put them into the oven to crisp.

The chicken turned out great and how could green beans cooked and simmered in garlic salt, pepper, two tablespoons of bacon grease with lightly browned onions be bad?

Easy Parmesan Garlic Chicken (from Good Seasonings ad for Italian Dressing Mix)
printable recipe
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 envelope Italian Dressing Mix
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup of Miracle Whip (optional and not included in the original recipe but so good with it)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 lbs)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix cheese, garlic powder, and dressing mix together.
Rinse and pat dry chicken and then lightly spread Miracle Whip overall.
Roll and coat in cheese mixture and place in a shallow baking dish.
My daughter's finger saga morphed quickly into a melodrama. On Friday, after the doctor rechecked her finger and I asked for outpatient IV therapy, she went to the brand new Children's Hospital and had her PICC line placed. This is not a quick procedure and since she has inherited my puny veins the first line was not successful but as luck would have it she has two arms.

We left the hospital at 6pm and the home health care nurse came to our house four hours later. It was then that I learned she would not be coming to our house every eight hours because she was going to teach us to run the IV of Vancomycin. Fun!

Anna got comfortable and our puppy kept her company for the two hour drip. This routine was short lived because on Sunday her finger was worse. We called her pediatrician who told us to go to the emergency room.

The redness had started to streak past her first knuckle and the black was getting larger. In addition to her finger, her PICC line was causing a red streak up her arm and really hurt Anna if you touched her upper arm. Based mostly on the fact that her PICC line was thought to be infected she was admitted.

We spent Sunday through Friday in the hospital. Her finger continued to get worse even with the increased dosage of Vancomycin and an additional broad spectrum antibiotic, Rosefrin. We left the hospital not knowing what she really has or how she got it.

She had an MRI on Tuesday that showed no infection in the bone, thank God. I had never had nor seen an MRI machine up close; those things are loud.

Her IVs were not stable because she has something called mechanical phlebitis and therefore she was stuck with needles more than her psyche could handle. She was beginning to freak out when they had to draw blood and when she saw them come in to flush her IV before and after the every three hour Vancomycin treatment she would start screaming and crying. It was horrible. At one point my mother and I had to hold her down and she screamed so much she threw up, which made me about throw up.

When they realized her second IV was going bad they scheduled her to be sedated so she could have another PICC line inserted. I pulled the mom card and begged for a central line instead. They decided that a central line would be best due to her weak veins and while they were under they cut out the necrotic part of her finger.

There was much drama with the lack of bedside manner with the hand surgeon who made it seem like keeping her finger might be in jeopardy. But after taking out the black part on Wednesday her finger started to improve. They cultured it and it came back positive for staph. They do not know at this time what strain of staph but her treatment is 600mg of Vancomycin every 12 hours for 2-4 weeks.

Right now we are on a 4 to 4 dosage but we will be moving that at half hour increments until we get to 6am and 6pm. Her finger already looks better, gross but better.

Janelle, your experience is so similar and thank you so much for your comments. And OHN, it really is amazing how prevelant MRSA is and how scary and dangerous too. Our family had so much suppport through this ordeal. We recently became official members at our church and my husband and I have said over and over again how wonderful our small group is. Each person came up to see Anna and the ones with kids brought their children so Anna could play X-Box with them.

My husband's ex-wife was great! She brought the kids every night and let them all play and walk around the hospital floor with Anna. My mother came every day and even spent the night with me. But the real trooper has been my husband. He came every morning with coffee for me and hot chocolate for Anna. He was there right after work and then even during work hours. He has been the one with the calm and reasoning voice, gently reminding me that the doctors never actually said she could go home Monday, then Tuesday, and especially Wednesday after the central line was placed. He was there and Anna and I both knew it.

It is now 8:20am Saturday morning and I have been up for four hours and home less than 24. Thank you so much for your prayers, support, phone calls, and comments. Remember, wash your hands!
After being on two antibiotics for over 48 hours her finger does not look any better. In fact, her finger looks worse. Since she does not have a fever and she feels fine I did not want her to be admitted to the hospital. Can you imagine a non-sick kid stuck in a hospital room? Call me selfish but I was not up for that. But she needs to be put on an IV of antibiotics for the treatment of MRSA so we are setting up a home health care nurse to come to our house three times a day to administer.

We also are trying to schedule a bone scan to rule out an infection in her bones. This should be done today.

It is amazing how one small little cut can turn into something so gruesome. I am just so thankful we did not wait any longer. Another thing to be thankful for is that she is in no pain. The finger only hurts when she accidentally bumps it. That's it for now we go up to our local hospital at 2:30 to have the IV pick line inserted, she is going to love that. Poor baby.
If this picture doesn't drive the message home for kids to wash their hands I don't know what will. I think it would be a good idea to post this picture in every elementary bathroom as a reminder that washing your hands with warm water and soap while singing Happy Birthday will help prevent the spread of MRSA and other general nastiness. Because the above picture of a finger with something that looks like gangrene is my eight year old daughter's ring finger on her left hand. I took this with my phone while waiting for her Rx at Target and trying not to throw up looking at it. (Holes completely freak me out)

It started out as a small blister then a week later looked like a blood vessel and then morphed into looking like she had been bit by a Brown Recluse spider. A week ago Wednesday night we took her to Urgent Care and they said it was not a spider bite but it was infected and resembled Herpetic Whitlow, which is not treatable with antibiotics. But because there was an infection they gave her a Rx for Bactrim to take two times a day and soak her finger in Epsom Salt.

Five days later her finger was looking worse so I took her to her pediatrician. The doctor x-rayed her finger to be sure the infection had not spread to her bone, it hasn't. Her doctor also ruled out Herpetic Whitow, thank God, and is sure it is the antibiotic resistant strand of Staph called MRSA. Lovely, but at least I can now stop the little voice in my head that was freaking out about Herpes and how in the hell she could have gotten it.

She is now on an additional antibiotic for MRSA and continuing the Bactrim. I take her back to the doctor Friday morning and I really hope this new antibiotic is working because I do not see a change. We picked up yogurt last night because I am sure all of her good flora growing in her intestine will be making a fast exit with the heavy dose of antibiotics.

My Public Service Announcement: Wash Your Hands!
Isn't it weird that my eight year old thinks she knows so much more than me and that I don't need to remind her because oh my gosh, she already knows, yet she can't seem to brush her teeth? She is going to love it when I have to physically sit on her and brush them for her. Bet she will feel real grown up then. Grrrrr. Nasty.
Last weekend my daughter was an overnight guest at her stepsister's house. I would never have imagined, in a million years, that would have happened but it did; and from all reports it went just fine. I was concerned that Anna would have a hard time not being able to have her stepsister all to herself and I was right, but she powered through only crying " that's not fair" once.

I have never seen inside the ex's apartment and now house. I have however, cleaned the house she once lived in with my husband before we put it up for sale. And OH MAN! It was gross. My stepdaughter would tell us little snippets of information that let us know she might be overwhelmed as a single mom being that housework was obviously not a priority. For example, my stepdaughter got lice and two months later she tells us that she doesn't have sheets on her bed. When asked why she told us she hasn't had them back on since her mom washed them because of the lice outbreak.

And then there was the staph infection. My stepdaughter ended up in the hospital for a few days with a staph infection on her leg. This happened during our court battle to modify custody so I had plenty to say about how I thought she got staph. Super judgemental about the ex's level of parenting and cleanliness. But what it really came down to was getting my stepdaughter to wash her hands more and to actually soap up and wash in the shower not just get wet.

I say all of this because even though I will admit I was totally curious what her house was like I did not ask my daughter when she came back from spending the night. I am turning a new leaf and to be honest it has been a lot less stressful not hating the ex-wife. However, my curiosity was relieved anyway completely without my prompting.

When I was unpacking Anna's bag from the sleepover I asked which clothes were dirty. That was when she told me that she didn't take a shower at the ex's. I said ok and thought nothing more of it. But then Anna told me why she didn't take a shower; she was scared. Scared? I asked her. Yes, she said because her shower was all black and moldy even on the walls and it was too scary. Inwardly, I was all about the smugness but said oh, okay that's alright. later I told my husband that it looks like his ex's cleaning habits have not improved with age.

So, when my husband found out yesterday that his daughter might have another staph infection and has to go on a round of antibiotics he became a little upset. Without even thinking about how tenuous my newly form alliance is with the ex he let her know that Anna said her bathroom was dirty! I immediately cringed and was all no, no, no, do not say that. He was all like, what? what did I say? I died. It was going to go back to stepmom against biomom.

Come to find out all the enamel is gone from her bathtub and shower walls so that no matter how much she cleans she can't get the mold out. I am ashamed and not so smug anymore. Now we just have to concentrate on what taking a shower actually means and singing Happy Birthday while washing hands. That will also include getting the kids to consistently wash their hands without having to be reminded.
Some things have changed in our post divorce family. I am not going to say we are now blended or that we are going to be co-parenting in a wonderful kumbaya way but all our baby's mommas were together in one house. For the first time ever, my husband's ex-wife was sitting on my couch eating birthday cake and telling me her tales of horror dealing with my husband's stepmother. I don't think my husband said much all night and when asked later about something that was said he seems to have blocked out most of the night. I thought it went great, he would like to never do it again and was a little blown away when I suggested to- let's just call her G.U, as in Golden Uterus-GU that we do this again for their son's birthday.

It was a bit surreal. I don't know what came over me but in the middle of icing a chocolate cake I made Monday night on a whim, I asked my husband what GU was doing for their daughter's birthday Tuesday night. He told me nothing because they were going to celebrate with GU's family Wednesday night. It was at that moment I did it, I made the call. While he was on the computer I got his cell phone, looked up the ex's phone number, and called her, from our home phone. She had to be reminded who I was, not in a dismissive way but more of a is the sky falling way. She agreed to come and we would see them after dinner. And then she did what she always does, she called back just to confirm and ask if she could bring anything. My husband looked like you would expect someone to look when they literally see, before their eyes, two worlds colliding. He commented that now she knows our home phone number. Then he asked me how much I have had to drink.

On the night the Golden Uterus was to arrive I made sure the entire house was picked up and floors were swept. Tony had multiple glasses of wine and Anna kept asking when GU was going to be able to see her room. I was pretty calm, not nervous at all, I just wanted GU to be nice and not act like she was Mother of the Year. She was and she didn't. The kids were excited way more than they usually are when they first come back from their mom's house. The littlest one was all lovey-dovey with me which was pretty weird. He kept hugging my leg and kissing it. Then he wanted me to hold him and when I picked hum up he proceeded to pat my back and squeeze my neck over and over. The only weird moment was when I was taking pictures, no one knew where to stand or who to stand by. After serving the cake and ice-cream the kids went into the playroom and we went into the den.

Within my husband's family there have been some issues with his dad's wife and her daughters. It is not pretty and it is completely wrong and downright hateful. In the past while we were dating and first married I was told all the problems were GU's fault and I believed them. They made some great points and I never heard her side of the story but now the exact same things are happening to me and our family. It is ugly and hurtful and this is where my stepkid's mom won me over, she called my husband concerned that my daughter was being mistreated by her ex-mother-in-law. Wow! maybe she actually does have a golden uterus. So we all talked and tried to come up with a plan to deal with the manipulation and unequal treatment of my daughter and my stepkids. During this time there were some moments when GU was obviously saddened and emotional. She said that 90% of their fighting had been about Tony's stepfamily and how they treated her and their family. I assured her that it was no different now even though I was led to believe she had been the problem. We now know who the real problem is. The only snarky thing she did was to tell me that I can quit cooking and baking so much because Tony has never had that before so I don't need to try so hard. I let that go.

At the end of the night she was given a tour of our house and was able to see her children's bedrooms. This is where I saw a change, very slight change but there all the same. I do not know what she expected. Did she think I would have kept them in a closet? A stark room without any color or accessories? I am not sure but I think she was hurt. Maybe it was because her daughter's room was clean because she asked why it wasn't at her house. I told her the rule in our house is they can play and ride their bikes as soon as their bed is made and their floor is picked up enough to run a vacuum through. GU said that we need to communicate more so that the rules are the same at each house. Now it was my turn to look up to see if the sky was falling.

Golden Uterus has pulled some pretty destructive stunts. Her frivolous custody challenge cost us over $8000. Her motion to modify did not change the custody arrangement. It did open our family up to scrutiny from social workers only to have them confirm what I already knew, I am not a child abuser she was a vindictive ex-spouse. This weekend was my stepdaughter's slumber party for her birthday and my daughter was invited, which is a post of its own. These are steps in the right direction, I guess, but I am taking this slow, real slow.
There are so many subjects that I feel strongly about. When I was younger, the friends I had and the people I worked with would receive an earful not knowing they were the audience surrounding my soapbox. However with age came maturity, acceptance, and the ability to keep my mouth shut. Then I became a mother and my soapbox has been dusted off. Since then I have taken a few stances and broached a few subjects that has guaranteed me never winning a Miss Congeniality title. In fact, just this summer I lost a friend, someone I had know since 7th grade, because I decided to confront an issue instead of just saying oh well, that's just how she is. I had no idea at the time that expressing my opinion and hurt would effectively kill a 25 year old friendship. But it did teach me, albeit painfully, where I stood as her friend.

But does it seem like every four years your personal values, the values you teach and show your children , the same values you wish others had are tested? I find that I am defending my own beliefs and values and not just with others but to myself. And if I express the beliefs I have and the values that I hold important I must support them with facts, not just paraphrases, not just ideals and common sense, but with hardcore facts. Am I the only one that does this or feels like this?

Yes, it is true the best way to not have to defend your beliefs or values is to refrain from talking about religion or politics. But every four years I am captivated by the spin, the prospect of a new leader, the anticipation of victory or defeat. Plus, I have some very intelligent friends with some very distinct values and beliefs that are similar in some areas but polar opposite in others. Debating the issues of the day or a live debate becomes something worthy of discussion and not something to suppress.

I am learning to listen and I am open to the idea I could be wrong, presenting the facts, just the facts, without a viewpoint can help firm up or shape what I believe and stand for. And I appreciate that here in America we have the right to these discussions that can at times be heated and disappointing. We also have the right, if not the duty, to research each others viewpoints and how they reached that conclusion. We can then discuss, or argue, what we have heard or read without fearing imprisonment or retribution. Researching and learning both viewpoints while constantly checking the facts against your own beliefs should not be compromised.

The facts are out there, they just have to be unearthed and then separated from the talking points. Compromise is important for building and maintaining relationships but so is integrity. And sometime having integrity will mean standing up for an unpopular viewpoint, it can mean leaving an organization that no longer has the same values you hold dear, and sometimes it can mean a loss of a friendship. (or in some cases deleting a blog from your google reader)

But if anyone is learning to compromise it is me. The mother to my step kids and therefore the ex-wife of my husband is coming over for cake and ice-cream to celebrate their daughter's 10th birthday. This will be the first time she and I have been in the same room outside of a courtroom. You know what is bringing us together? Our values and our belief that all children should be treated fairly and that children are more important than ourselves.
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This was an old recipe from Tony's mother's collection, and even though I am not a huge fan of hamburger meat dishes, I thought this seemed very good. Because it was so good and became an instant hit in my house, preserving its spot in our dinner rotation, I thought I would share. It only takes 10 minutes of prep and 20 minutes to bake. Perfect timing for a non-crockpot recipe and a home by 5:30pm mom. Plus I love crescent rolls, yum.

1 lb hamburger meat
1 small diced onion
1 can of crescent rolls (8 count)
1 8oz can of tomato paste
1 packet of taco seasoning
2 cups of shredded mozzerella
1/2 cup of shredded parmesean

Preheat oven to 400.
In a skillet, brown hamburger meat with the diced onion.
Pull apart the crescent rolls and place in a 9" pie pan. Flatten the triangles so that they join together to form a crust and leave about a half an inch hanging over the pie pan.
Once meat is thoroughly browned and the onions are stir in tomato paste and taco seasoning.
Sprinkle the crescent roll crust with parmesean cheese
Place half of the meat mixture in the pie pan and cover with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and then repeat one more time.
Take the excess crescent rolls and fold over the meat mixture to make a crust similar to a crostata.
Bake for 20 minutes.

I put some salsa and sour cream on mine but no one else did and they loved it. Anna wanted some for lunch until I asked if she was sure. She decided that leftover taco soup was a safer choice.
We might not have spent $442,000 on a spa weekend but we did see a booth that had spas.

And some lovely couples looking at spas. That grey haired person is a man and yes, he is wear shorts over leggings!

We even saw some seals. I bet those AIG executives didn't have the nature show I did while they were having massages and facials at St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point. Nothing is more relaxing then communing with nature.

I even spotted some Okies in their native dress.

But this is how other Okies dress and for just under $100 we celebrated the Bailout in style at the Tulsa State Fair. None of us took out a sub-prime loan to buy our houses. In fact, all of budget our money and practice self control for things we can't afford. But hey, we celebrated paying more taxes for us anyway!

Mostly because instead of riding one single ride, we spent most of our evening in the Beer Garden.

During an excursion into the midway looking for a bathroom and the monkeys that take your change, we played a friendly little game of skeet ball.

Where Sonja won a Husky! Thank goodness because her husband, much like the AIG execs, recklessly spent his cash by paying off an 8 year old so that all of us could play together and so it could be one of us that would win.

But having the ability to frivolously spend $100 for a chance to win a stuffed animal, get a free t-shirt, and consume copious amounts of crap on a stick? That my friend eased the pain of being royally screwed by our government.

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We had Anna's birthday party last weekend. We rented a room at the Embassy Suites and invited some girls from her school and her day care. The birthday package included swimming, pizza, pop, movie rental, popcorn, a disposable camera, and a made to order breakfast for everyone. All I had to bring was the cake, perfect.

The girls loved swimming, and so did the birthday girl's parents. The water was warm and the kids had a blast.

Anna had asked for a cupcake cake. I checked with a brand new cupcake shop in town and they do not make one. I checked with a very popular bakery and they make one but it is just one giant cupcake not individual cupcakes. So I did some internet searching and was able to find several pictures of cupcake cakes.

I used a boxed cake mix and filled the cupcakes all the way to the top of the wrapper because I wanted a slight overflow, similar to a muffin. There were seven people all together so a flower design worked perfect.

I found this frosting recipe on line. It was delicious and super easy to spread but not too thin because it held together perfect where there were slight gaps between the cupcakes. I found some cake decorations that I think I bought when I hosted a shower in, get this, 1994! Thank goodness I have a little bit of my mom's pack rat gene in me. I let Anna tell me how to decorate the flower design and she put on the sprinkles.

After swimming and eating and then swimming again, the girls decided they wanted to get ready for bed and watch a movie. I said goodbye to my husband and stepson and braced myself for the slumbering part of the party. It was not bad at all. The girls all slept in the two double beds in the bedroom and I slept on the pull-out in the living area. At eleven o'clock I had to tell them to quit jumping and banging on the the walls. (I actually have no idea what they were banging on, I just kept telling myself that it was not my home so who cares) Apparently, jumping and banging around was what kept them awake because in just a few minutes I heard nothing. The birthday revelry had come to an end.

I have moved this Apple/Potato Peeler from South Carolina to Oklahoma and then to Chicago, where it never came up from the storage locker in the basement of my apartment. I repacked it into another box when I moved to California and was charged $25/box by the moving company. (I threw away my lampshades on that move because I thought I was saving money, completely unaware of how much lampshades actually cost when I went to replace them.)

I left California and moved to Oklahoma, where this peeler remained unopened in three, count them, three different kitchens. But now in its fourth kitchen, and almost fifteen years later, I have broken the seal, removed the plastic, and used this incredibly efficient and time saving device. So thank you Mom, thank you for this wonderful housewarming gift you gave me when I moved into my first apartment. You knew it would come in handy one day just like the antique steamer trunk you gave me for my sixteenth birthday, every 16 year old's dream present, an antique steamer trunk!

When I saw this Apple Cake recipe on Smitten Kitchen yesterday I was compelled to make it, immediately. After work I sent Tony and Anna to the store to get the apples and more eggs. While they were gone I hunted for my never used, brand new, fifteen year old apple peeler. What a time saver! Before we sat down for dinner I had this cake in the oven. It takes quite a while to cook, mine took almost an hour and fifty minutes. During the last half hour our dog was going over to the oven and licking the side of it.

What a perfect breakfast! My mom makes a pretty awesome apple cake but I really think that this recipe is even better. Due to the fantastic turnout of this cake my Apple/Potato Peeler has a permanent home, smack dab on the counter. At least until I find a more convenient and accesible place for the best housewarming gift a twenty-three year old could ever have.

I was positive I was going to never have my baby. I had missed my due date by almost two weeks and my co-workers were taking bets behind my back on when I would deliver. When I found out one of them had bet on the 28th day, I thought I would literally be the first woman to die from the sheer agony of carrying a baby for 42 weeks. A little melodramatic, I know, but I was desperate, and a tad hormonal.

On the 19th, I had tried to induce myself into labor by drinking 3 ounces of castor oil mixed into a Braums milkshake. I have not had a milkshake since. And let's just say, one week later, still no enema was needed. Which is also not surprising since my acid reflux was so bad I could eat nothing, and yet, I would still spontaneously puke egg yolk. I won't even go into being nine months pregnant in August, in Oklahoma. Total strangers would come up to me and say oh honey, I am so sorry.

Have I been able to convey how miserable I was? I had even tried attaching my electric breast pump to the only thing fabulous about my pregnancy, my large breasts (I would love to have those babies back because they were, SPECTACULAR). Instead of starting contractions as it did for my high school friend's sister, Julie, (who ended up having an emergency c-section that we all secretly thought was due to messing around with the breast pump) I was only able to get a jump start on my colostrum. And the humiliating and awkward crab/squatting tribal woman walk? nothing, but I was so hopeful. I remember crawling around my living room during an entire episode of Oprah.

But when the time to deliver actually did arrive? Whoa mama! I woke up at 1:30am with a pain that went around the front of my stomach and felt like I was tying a knot at my spine. I thought oh wow, this really is it. Five minutes later I was laughing that I had even confused Braxton-Hicks for labor contractions. I woke my mom up who told me to get into the shower. She woke up my dad, and after driving me three times to the hospital just to drive me back a few hours later, went back to sleep. I remember taking my shower and thinking how pathetically huge I had gotten that I couldn't even control my bladder. I started crying and when my mom asked, in a panicked voice, what was wrong, I cried that I could not stop peeing on myself.

By the time we got to the hospital, only a couple of miles away, I was having contractions about every two minutes. I think my mom was a little freaked out and my dad could not understand why I insisted on crawling, on my hands and knees, to the hospital doors. (you know what I just thought? why didn't he drop me off at the door?) Anyway, after stopping every minute to rock back and forth while moaning on my hands and knees, I was now in a labor and delivery room.

My friend, and constant support even during my hormonal rages, LouAnn, had told me to opt out of painkillers before my epidural. She had told me that it would just make me feel out of it. So when the nurse said I needed to take some Demerol because they needed to slow down my contractions, I tried to say no; but no matter how much Lamaze breathing I did, I could not get on top of them. The nurse went ahead and gave me the Demerol and then told me that I would have to wait almost four more hours for my epidural because the doctor didn't come in until 6 am. I didn't really care. I was more focused on the fact that it felt like I had a gigantic wooden corkscrew, like the kind they used to use to raise and lower orchestra pits in a theatre, being turned every few minutes and consequently spreading my hip bones apart.

After the Demerol kicked in I no longer cared about the pain, I still felt it but I had calmed down. I panted and focused while my mom rubbed my back. After a series of particularly hard contractions, I told my mom that this was just like having an orgasm, but not quite being able to get there. She pretended to not hear me, and I will always thank her for that.

Then came the checking and the rechecking. Apparently, my baby was facing the inside of my leg. I had so many different people checking me that I just hoped they all actually worked at the hospital. There was one petite nurse, I really liked her, when she would check me I would have dilated to a seven and then an eight. However, when my big burly man doctor checked me he pushed it back down to a six.

Finally, after nine months of hell, and as my mom so clearly remembers, two remaining months of depression and misery, my beautiful baby girl was born, at exactly 9:30 A.M. on September 26th of 2000. I remember my mom and I both looking at her and then at each other. My mom said it first, oh my goodness, she looks just like Mark (my soon to be ex-husband). But from that moment on all of my worries, all of my hang ups about being a single mom, and most importantly, my anger disappeared. She was absolutely perfect and she was ALL mine. I am still amazed that this was eight years ago, it really does seem like it just happened. Happy Birthday baby girl!

*A side note regarding having a baby in the small town you grew up in:

Go through your yearbook and familiarize yourself with the people and faces. You never know who your nurse will be that will help you to the toilet, kneel down in front of you to look at your stitches in order to tell you how to perform a sitz bath. Because as my recovery nurse was kneeling in front of me and squirting water on my stitched up waa-waa, I was reintroduce to Julie Laramore, from junior high. They should have a sign at the entrance of the maternity ward, "Check all modesty and pride at the door".

Since when did I become someone who looked old enough to be asked, isn't this a great price for bell peppers? and can you remember when peppers were this low? The lady asking me had to have been ten to fifteen years older than my mother. She was serious too. It wasn't like she was making idle chit chat it was more along the lines of remember when Kennedy was shot? My own mother is not convinced of my maturity she still thinks she has to call to remind me of doctor appointments or to call my grandmother.

What's next? yelling Turn That Music Down? I have accepted the 3-5 day hangover and the dry scaly hands but those were personal and I thought hidden signs of no longer being 29. But to now suddenly jump to discussing the price of produce? Oh no she didn't!
What a great dish! Sweet, spicy, and my daughter said, a little sour?? (I am sure she said that just because I said it was sweet. The sky is not really blue either, by the way) My husband said he would like to use the sauce as a marinade for brisket and I liked it because it was simple.

The last couple of weeks shook my routine up. I am not sure if it was the twice weekly soccer practice, the ragweed swirling in the air, or the incredibly cumbersome amount of homework and flashcards my second grader has. Whatever it was I found myself letting my husband and daughter fend for themselves for dinner or trying to make them forget that it is dinnertime, that actually worked once. In an effort to get back on a routine, I decided to go back to planning a weekly menu, this means Get Out the Cookbooks and Try Something New. Enter Israeli Orange Chicken from the 1983 Bishop Kelley cookbook, Calling All Cooks.

I switched some things up because I wanted to use my crockpot and frankly I just don't have time to bake, turn, and baste. Be sure to serve this over rice. We had noodles because I mistakenly mentioned I love rice so now my daughter thinks rice is gross and will make her sick. She ended up leaving the table, without finishing her dinner, anyway; for her own safety.

The Ingredients (printable copy here)

2-3 lbs boneless Chicken, I used thighs because I had some but breasts would be great too.
2 tsp Garlic Salt
2 tsp Paprika (I love to use the HOT Hungarian brand)
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Dried Tarragon
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme (mine is s powder)
1 1/4 cup Orange Marmalade
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1/2 can of Orange Juice Concentrate
1/2 cup of Water

Place chicken in Crockpot and sprinkle all the seasonings over all. Spoon the orange marmalade and place on top of chicken in various places. Do the same with the orange juice concentrate. Add lemon juice and water. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 if chicken was frozen, but note that with all the sugars in the marmalade and concentrate there might be some carmelizing the longer this cooks. But is this a bad thing?

And don't try to make nice by serving with noodles use rice, it will soak up the juice so much better. If I had known this was going to be so good I would have taken pictures but a scratch and sniff webshot would be better. And yes, I do realize that I named myself Crockstar and yet I haven't posted a recipe in a couple of months, but that is because I am just recycling the same recipes. How many times should I post Chicken Burritos or Creamy Chicken and Noodles?

Want to see my Weekly Menu? (September and October)
My daughter likes to bring her lunch from home instead of buying a meal from the cafeteria. Anyone who knows me, knows I would much rather write a check, for the entire year, then get up five minutes earlier to make her lunch.

Kindergarten was almost 80% school cafeteria, but then she realized that her stepsister, the super picky eater, brought her lunch and first grade became 90% lunches from home. (Damn my super responsible, caring, sympathetic, loving husband for letting the cat out of the bag) So this year, second grade, I didn't even bother writing a check for the cafeteria in the hope I would be off the hook and able to sleep five minutes longer. I sucked it up and decided to not be lazy and go ahead and pack her a lunch everyday. I even bought an assortment of little note cards I can periodically stick in her lunch box and hopefully brighten her day.

The school year started off great. Can you believe it has been a month already? I made four loaves of homemade bread to use for sandwiches and went to Sam's to stock up on other lunch goodies. This is where I made one of my first errors. Chex Mix is not an acceptable snack. When Anna told me this I was like, WHHUUU?? She told me Chex Mix has too much salt and she can't have it. Again, WHUUU?? I thought I was finally going to take my, "peanut butter allergies and bee allergies are both serious so is the school going to forbid bees on the playground?", rant straight to the school board. But my husband told me to just ask the teacher and stop yelling at him I decided to ask her teacher if it was true that Anna couldn't have Chex Mix for a snack. Needless to say, her teacher had no idea where Anna had gotten that information. I do, her "friends". Apparently, it is not cool to have Chex Mix. FYI, granola bars and fruit snacks are the IN snack, and they have less salt. Right, uh-huh, obviously these second graders need to read Eat This, Not That. Funny thing about this is that Anna picked out some granola bars at the grocery store and they are the generic Always Save. When I was a kid that was a big no, no.

My second mistake was sending leftover Hungarian Ghoulash in a soup thermos. "I couldn't eat it. They said it was gross." I was then informed that only soup, and it must be chicken noodle, or spaghetti can be sent in a thermos. I didn't bother asking the teacher about that one.

My third mistake, and where I have decide that this is not a hill worth fighting for, was when I thought I would surprise her with a turkey tortilla wrap. The Internet says wraps are the perfect sandwich to break up the monotony of PB&Js (not that she can even bring peanut butter). I made the wrap awesome! I put red bell peppers, her favorite and used veggie cream cheese for the dressing. When I asked her if she liked my surprise for lunch she proceeded to tell me that NO, they wouldn't even sit by her when they saw her lunch. They got up and moved to another table. And why did I do that to her?

Okay, forget it, from now on it will be Instant Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup, like that doesn't have salt! a granola bar, grapes, and a Capri Sun. Like I said, not a battle worth fighting for, though I would love to take on these little "friends". By the way, saying they're just jealous does NOT work, but thanks anyway. Just kill me now.
I love September weather, not too hot and not too cold. Too bad I can't really enjoy it. Every year since I have moved back to NE Oklahoma September brings on the ants. No, not ants in my house-they would be much more welcome-but the feeling of ants crawling around my sinus, eyes, and throat. I am severely allergic to Ragweed and this flower from Satan blooms abundantly at the end of summer. Each year I get a prescription that helps immensely, once I even had to get a shot because I had waited too long and was a convulsing, snot laden, sneezing, wheezing, crying, and writhing madman and the ants, they needed to stop, stop immediately!

I am able to remember when my mother's friend died because just walking from the car to the chapel made me sneeze uncontrollably. And I was 9 months pregnant! Nothing is better than a sniveling, writhing, pregnant lady trying to sneeze without expelling her unborn infant. On that note; Sudafed does not work! It is a useless placebo, like the white pills in birth control. Once Anna was born I begged for Allegra and Prilosec; finally, real drugs for sneezing and acid reflux.

Then there were those first three years after Anna was born where I didn't have insurance because I needed every single penny my paycheck was written out for. (Anna had insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, $57 per month paid by ME, not a Universal Health Care plan -- Oops! wrong post) During the years of no insurance I made use of my trips to Mexico and Central America. There, I was able to buy prescription strength Allegra and mommy's little helper Tafil, or as it is known in America, Xanax, without a prescription or shelling out for a doctors visit.

Since experiencing September 2000's blooming of Ragweed while nine months pregnant, I have always tried to be prepared for September. It would just be frustrating to be required to have an in office Doctor visit just to get an allergy prescription. One lovely time, while I waited until my appointment day, I even mowed my lawn with a mask on. Oh yea baby! I was lookin' H-O-T! By the way, the mask didn't really help, my t-shirt was covered in snot and I had completely wet my pants. Yes, I wet my pants. Because you see not only do I feel like my skin is alive and itching but since I have had my daughter I can no longer sneeze and walk at the same time.

This Saturday jump started my allergies. While standing in our driveway talking to a neighbor I was stricken. After crossing my legs and sneezing for the 100th time I ran up the driveway into the house yelling over my shoulder that I would talk to her later but I just can't take it anymore. I would marry my bottle of Flo-Nase, if I wasn't already married.
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See all those spindles? All 48 of them? We painted each and every one of them. By hand. And guess what?! We get to do that again, two more times! That is just the primer. I think it looks fine, what do you think?

At the beginning of August our house was prepped to be painted and boy was I excited! They were only able to get to the front of the house that first Saturday. When they came back the next weekend it started pouring at 1:30 and they only had the back of the house ready. I was so disappointed, but I survived and waited on pins and needles for the next weekend. Actual painting!

This is what our house looked like late afternoon on the 17th. I could get a real sense of the color combination and was anxious to have all the brown painted white the next Saturday.

Well, that Saturday came and went and the brown is still there, but I don't care (well just a little) because they were able to finish the south side of the house that had extensive damage and needed a lot of TLC. They were, however, able to prime my front door. I painted the first coat of red on it last night, just two more coats to go and then it will get a black glaze finish. See the brackets? We ordered them last year and my husband put them up. We will finish the spindles and put up the second story railing this week. Then we will start on the black shutters. They get three coats of paint too.

Oh! and if you are wondering about my toe. It no longer hurts. Now it just completely grosses me out.

That is not polish. How in the world am I going to cut it? Oh man it makes me cringe just thinking about it. Blech!