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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