Friday, August 29, 2008

The Funniest Markman Story In A While

This morning one of my offspring (who shall remain nameless) wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing, which was showering to get ready for school. When I found this out (by communication with him over the intercom), I asked him what he had been doing.
He replied, "Well, I stuck something on my face and I couldn't get it off."
I said, "You stuck something on your face?"
"Yeah, you know, you have this stash of things next to your toilet in your bathroom, and I stuck one of those on my face..."

If you're not laughing yet, just think about it...

In another less scandalous event, Phillip and Andrew were helping to fill up a pot with water for cooking. I told them it had too much water in it, and Phillip asked, "Is it possible to refill the faucet?"

Today we helped Mary get moved into her new housing. It's a definite step up for her, and most importantly, she won't be suffering from the terrible health problems brought on by living with a persistent gas leak (multiple attempts to get it fixed failed). She thinks that all she'll need is one more day to finish the move.

We're glad the DNC is over. Even though Denver is 60 miles from here, we're convinced that all of the hot air and "blowing smoke" at the convention was responsible for the terrible smog we were experiencing up here.

(Photo from Stock.xchng by bigevil600)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The latest FaithWriters contest results have been announced. My entry, "The Ball at Gentian Manor," came in 28th out of 192. (The given topic had been "Charade.") This entry was a different sort of work for me, because I chose to go with a touch of romance and mystery. It's amazing how challenging it can be to get a whole story packed into 750 words or fewer!

The topic we're supposed to write about this week is "Truth or Dare." Hmmm...nothing is popping immediately to mind. But then again, things rarely pop immediately to mind.

I was able to get quite a few extraneous words chopped out of the first few scenes of "Dying for Answers." That felt good.

Nathanael called me from school because he had another orthodontic crisis. I had a mere half-hour to get dressed (shame on me, I was still in PJ's), drive down to the school, check Nathanael out at the office, and then drive him to the orthodontist. If I didn't get there by that time, we would be out of luck. The doctor was leaving then to catch a plane in Denver, and the office wouldn't be open again until Tuesday. Thank the Lord, we made it in time!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Busy, busy day

Wow, I think this is a first for me, completing a new weekly menu that's safe for diabetics, getting all of the grocery shopping done, and all of the laundry done in one day. I am so thankful to the Lord for His help!

Phillip did much better on his homework tonight, meaning a better attitude and effort. I think some mathematical concepts may have gone "click" for him tonight, which is really nice.

I think the kids' new allowances will definitely turn out to be a very positive thing. We have explained to them that their allowances are not payment for their chores. We give allowances so they can learn responsibility and just as a nice "perk." But one of the ways they are to learn responsibility is by accepting financial responsibility when they damage or break something, or when someone else has to take up the slack for a chore they didn't do. We haven't started deducting anything from their allowances yet, because we wanted to give them a grace period. But they know that it will start soon. And I explained to them how much money I would have deducted today if it had started already. It made an impression. I've never seen Phillip race upstairs to make his bed so enthusiastically. He was even saying very emphatically, "I'm GOING to do this. I'm not going to let anyone else do it for me!" This from a boy who used to constantly whine about needing help with bed-making!

I got an estimate today on how much a professional editor would charge to go over "Dying for Answers." Because my book is so huge, the fee is also huge (even with a significant discount). It made me decide that it was time to start trimming fat off of that book. Maybe after I've reduced its size a good bit I'll get another estimate. It felt good to start serious work on that particular manuscript again, though I had little time to devote to writing today, and was only able to trim off about 65 words from the first scene. There will be more.

I'd best be off to bed!

(Photo from Stock.xchng by kvohsen)

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Great Big Humongous Blessing

Some of you may know that we've had a particular financial sword hanging over our heads for about a year now, caused by the antics of our youngest son and his friend next door. Last summer they were throwing rocks, and of course I stopped them when I saw them. But a couple of days later our new neighbor on the other side called me over and showed me some minuscule dents on his hood, and one of the distinctively-shaped rocks on his driveway. Honestly, I could barely see the dents, but they looked huge to him. I knew Andrew had been throwing the rocks, and so we agreed to cover part of the cost of fixing the dents. Our neighbor to the South, whose son was also throwing rocks, agreed to do the same.

The lowest estimate that he got was something like $800.00

We were in shock. Felt absolutely sick about it. The neighbor was polite, but insistent that this had to be taken care of, because it was important to him. What could we say? He showed us the estimates.

Well, thank the Lord our neighbor wasn't very hurried about getting the work done. I think he felt worse about the cost than he let on. So it didn't get done and it didn't get done, but of course we were always waiting for that axe to drop on us.

Well, tonight he came over and seemed much more relaxed than usual. He told John that Honda had admitted that the paint on his car was defective. (Lots more little marks had been showing up in the interim.) They're now going to repaint the car for free, and the dent removal will cost less than $100. We are very, very grateful!

Andrew got to ride the school bus for the first time today. He was totally psyched up about it, but I suspect from his lackadaisical response this afternoon that it wasn't as thrilling as he'd hoped it would be.

Phillip is trying to get away with murder over homework already. John and I presented a united front tonight, and it had an effect that we hope will last for a while.

My computer was dead for a while today. When John came home he quickly diagnosed the problem by turning it over (it's a laptop). He found that the fan was completely clogged with dust, so the unit was overheating. Quickly fixed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

First week of School is over!

Nathanael is now out of his special podiatric shoe. He still won't be able to participate in PE for a while, though. Not until early October.

Phillip did well in children's church today. He participated, answered questions, and behaved well. They never had to come and get us, so we enjoyed an uninterrupted sermon for the first time in a while.

John took the plunge and got a buzz cut. He's still a little shocked when he looks in the mirror, but I think it looks fine on him. I am now the only un-buzzed person in the house. Don't worry...the peer pressure isn't getting to me.

I'm starting to think seriously about trying some freelance writing. I'm getting a great deal of really strong encouragement from the folks at FaithWriters, so I'm getting up some courage.

John has put down some indoor/outdoor carpeting on our back patio. It looks nice.

Can't think of much else, but that's probably because I'm half asleep.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kinda thought things would slow down...

Things haven't slowed down since school started. I keep hoping, but it hasn't happened.

I drove Andrew to school this morning, then drove straight to the Jr. High to pick up Nathanael for his emergency orthodontic repair. It wasn't time for me to pick him up yet, but it would have been ridiculous to go home and then have to turn around so soon. So I sat and read a book in the Jr. High office until it was time to take Nathanael. Then I sat and read in the orthodontist's office for a while. Then I ferried Nathanael back to school. Then I went home and took inventory of my pantries and refrigerator/freezers compared to what I would need for this week's recipes. Then it was off to Sam's Club, and then off to Wal-Mart. Then home just an hour before it was time to go pick up Andrew, and of course there were chores...

And then the kids were home. And there was homework, and kids' chores...

I learned this week that the quality of gasoline you buy can have a HUGE impact on your gas mileage. I usually buy gas at Safeway, just because it's handy. But a couple of Sundays ago we needed to stop somewhere because we were way low on gas, and so we filled up at a convenience store that's also close to home. I could tell pretty quickly that this must have been lousy gas, because my mileage stank. I filled up again today and figured it out, and I'd gotten only 16 mpg! That's far and away the worst I've ever gotten in this car; almost as bad as the big SUV we got rid of. Normally I get 22 or more mpg.

I had heard you could get really good gasoline at one particular place in town, and it wasn't far from Wal-Mart, so I went there today. It remains to be seen what happens to my mileage, but I think it's a good sign that there was no "Contains Ethanol" sticker on the pump.

One cool thing was that I gave the kids "buzz cuts" for the first time. (It's not the first time they've had buzz cuts, but it's the first time I've been brave enough to be the one wielding the clippers.) It was so easy...I can't imagine why I used to think I wasn't qualified to do that. It feels good saving all that money by doing it myself. So, in honor of the occasion, I'm including one of my favorite photos. I didn't take it myself. It's a picture of my great-nephew J.J. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Home alone

Woman of the 1920's wearing a full-length hous...Image via Wikipedia Wow, it was the first day that I had all three boys in school. I asked the Lord to help me remember that having the house to myself wasn't the same as having the house FOR myself. In other words, I wanted to be faithful to do the housework for the family, not just do what I wanted to do because I had the run of the place.

So, I got a whole list of housework done. It's a good feeling. It is amazing how much easier it is to get it done when you can keep a focus!

I thought it was cool that Zemanta found this photo of a 1920's -style house apron in response to the fact that I had written about housework. But I don't know what to make of the hat. That looks more like one of those bizarre hats that nurses used to wear. But anyway you dress it, housework is housework. I think it had it easier in my shorts, though.

This afternoon I went to pick up Andrew from school, and since the school has a tiny parking lot, I left a little early. I had a couple of minutes to kill so I was working on memory verses in the car, until a Yellow Jacket came and joined me in there. For some reason I felt motivated to leave the vehicle at that time. Oh, and I should mention that I got a call on my cell phone while I was sitting there. It was from Nathanael, informing me that he had gotten on the wrong bus and was "somewhere." He didn't know where he was, but he said they were bringing him home. He seemed fine, so we ended the call.

Ok, so now I was leaving the car, but the kids still weren't out, so I went over to where Phillip's bus was parked, and I introduced myself to the driver. We had talked a good bit on the phone, and I knew he was very nice, and that he had been trying to get the District to allow him to drive Andrew despite the lack of paperwork. So I wanted to thank him for that. He asked me if I had heard about Nathanael, because he'd been hearing about the situation on his bus radio. He had subbed a few times last year on Phillip and Nathanael's bus, so he knew Nathanael belonged to me. He ended up acting as a radio liaison between myself and the driver of the bus that Nathanael was in. Poor Nathanael ended up all the way out in the neighboring town of Timnath, where he had to get off the bus (with a kind adult bus assistant who waited with him) while another bus from Fort Collins drove out there to pick him up. They delivered him to our door only about an hour and fifteen minutes late. Then, just a few minutes after he got home, the wire broke on his braces. I called the Orthodontist's office, and the doctor was gone for the day. They told me they didn't have any openings tomorrow, but they would try to squeeze him in. Nathanael was able to finagle it into a position where it's not bothering him TOO much. But it was quite a day for him.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Boy, was this ever a Monday!

Well, it started out pretty well. I got up at 6:00, which is way early for this night owl. Especially since this particular night owl had stayed up late the night before, against her better judgment. Anyway, we got Nathanael to his bus on time, and then I went back to bed. I didn't get up until I heard that the other kids were up. Shortly after that it dawned on me that Nathanael hadn't taken his morning medicines. So I had to pile the kids into the car and drive the medicines down to the school. After that I made a quick trip to the grocery store and went back home. Then I spent a while getting tonight's dinner ready and into the crock pot.

Then I remembered that I needed to go by Phillip's school and sign some paperwork which then needed to be faxed to his doctor. Until the doctor faxes back his signed copy, the school isn't allowed to administer his medications, and that would mean a round trip every day (until it's signed) to give it to him myself. Needless to say, I wanted to get that signed and faxed ASAP. So I piled the kids back in the car and ran down there, but was amazed to find the office darkened and the doors locked. Somebody came and let me in and informed me that the office staff were all in a confidential meeting and could not be disturbed. "Can you come back in half an hour?" I said I'd hang around instead.

So we decided it would be a great opportunity to help the kids find their classrooms. We already planned to come back to the school tonight for the ice cream social, and we planned to find the classrooms then. But since we were already there, why not look for it now? Well it turns out to be a good thing that we did, because to our total shock we found out that Andrew wasn't registered with the district at all. I distinctly remember filling out all the paperwork and being told that everything was in order, way back before the last school year ended. John remembers me doing the paperwork, too, so I know I didn't imagine it. But somehow it got lost, and Andrew wasn't going to be allowed to start school tomorrow unless I got the paperwork filled out again. So there I sat, filling out paperwork for registration AND for medication. But I'm glad all of that happened when it did. It would have been too late in the day to get him registered if we hadn't found out the error until the ice cream social. Anyway, Andrew is now in the system and will be allowed to start school tomorrow. BUT I don't know if the doctor faxed the form yet, so I don't know if I'll have to make a special trip to administer Phillip's medications at lunchtime tomorrow. AND Andrew isn't yet authorized to ride the bus, though Phillip's driver went to bat for him. So until that bureaucratic hoop is jumped through, the bus will come to our driveway and pick up Phillip, and then I will put Andrew in my car and drive him to school right behind the bus. Let's hope that ridiculousness doesn't last long.

So anyway, then we came home and ate lunch, and I got a bit done around the house (but not a whole lot). I honestly can't tell you what all I did get done, but I didn't sit around doing nothing.

Then at 5:00 it was back to the elementary school for the ice cream social and classroom finding tour. The folks in the office had done a fine job and had Andrew already assigned to a classroom, so we were able to go in and drop off all of his stuff and meet the teacher. I think he feels better about going now than he did before. Of course we did all of that for Phillip, too. We got home at dinnertime, and everything was nice and ready in the crock pot. Hooray for that!

Let's hope the rest of the day goes better! It wasn't a bad day, per se, but I'm hoping for some relaxation.

Dinner was Creamy Ham and Potato Soup
2 can (15 oz) sliced potatoes; drained
4 medium onion; finely chopped
3 cup ham (fully cooked); cubed
4 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 can cream of celery soup; undiluted
2 2/3 cup Water
8 oz shredded cheddar

Slice potatoes, chop onions, cube ham. In a slow cooker, layer potatoes,
onions and ham. In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, mustard, salt
and pepper until smooth. Combine soup and water; gradually stir into flour
mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened
and bubbly. Pour over ham. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until
potatoes are tender. If desired, sprinkle with cheese before serving

Photo from Stock.xchng by Woodsy
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ups and Downs

brush drawing on blue primed paperImage via Wikipedia Well, it's been an interesting couple of days. Lots of health problems and crises in my church and in my extended family. Lots of folks who need prayer.

Phillip is just not coping well with changing churches. We need prayer and wisdom with that as well.

We continue in an odd cold spell.

I was mistaken a few days ago when I wrote that the boys started school on Tuesday (Jr. High) and Wed (elementary). It's really Monday and Tuesday. So Nathanael starts Jr. High. It's hard to believe. And he starts out with a special walking shoe on one foot and new braces on his teeth, in addition to his special needs. Bless his heart...

On the writing front, some exciting things are happening. I have decided to contribute a few dollars per month to FaithWriters, the website that has really jump-started my writing again. Now as a supporting member I am entitled to reduced rates on editing services, and I may finally be able to get my book whipped into shape to be submitted to a REAL publisher! After years of fretting over what to do, that would be a huge relief. It also feels good to support FaithWriters, since I feel that they offer a very important service to writers like me.

I mentioned yesterday (or whenever I last posted) that I was using the new service "Zementa," and the unfortunate choice of photos that came up in one instance. Well, someone from Zementa read my comment and was concerned that I was truly unhappy with the service, which I'm not. So I promised I would let you guys know that it really is a cool service. I don't always understand why it comes up with some of the guesses that it comes up with, but other guesses are right on, and it's fun to have photos to browse through for possible inclusion in my blog. And aside from that one unfortunate choice, I haven't had anything else come up that I would have been uncomfortable with my boys seeing. It found the "Praying hands" image that I decided to use in this entry, and all I had to do was click on it to have it inserted in the blog with credits. Can't complain about that.

Today John and I watched "National Treasure: Book of Secrets." I had never seen the original "National Treasure", so I had no idea what to expect from the sequel. But it was fun. It had lots of really crazy "It could never happen" kind-of stuff, but well done enough that you really didn't care about that.

Well, I'd better call this one to a halt. I still want to have my devotions, plus hopefully write an entry for my other blog, and it's already 10:30 at night.

Good night!
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pouring rain and hail

The setting sun captures the top of a classic ...Image via Wikipedia Whew! The sky got really black pretty quickly, and we had a pretty intense storm for several minutes. The hail was only pea-sized, and it wasn't coming down in buckets, but I was still listening intently for anything that sounded like an approaching train. So far, so good, but the severe thunderstorm warning continues for another hour. (The photo isn't actually from this storm, but I thought it looked cool.)

Well, now the storm is over, and we find that it has wrecked a gazebo that we recently bought. Sigh.

Our neighbor Trevor was over here, playing with Andrew in the basement. He came up and looked out the window during the worst of the storm, and he said, "I don't think I should go home in this." I agreed with him and he added, "I sure hope I don't have to eat here!"

Ah, well.

Kind-of a slow day here today. There were a few extra last-minute bits of school supply shopping to be done, and I'm trying hard to get the horrible odor of cat pee out of the carpet. Ay-yay-yay, I hate cat pee. In addition to carpet-peeing, Duma has also been doing a lot of upchucking, too. I gave him some extra Laxatone, and now I'm appealing for any and all strategies to help me with the odor problem. I've been using a Zeolite powder to no effect, and I've tried vinegar and water, and now I'm using frequent sprayings of Odo-Ban. The latter is having the most effect, but hours later it's making John's eyes burn. All suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Remember quite a while ago I said I had crossed the legal limit for having fun while writing? Well, the judging was completed today, and my entry came in 7th for the "Masters" level and 10th overall (out of 200 entries). It's called "Erasmus and the Ant," and you can find it by clicking on my "Index to my FaithWriters Writings."

I'm trying out a new service called "Zemanta" which helps you find photos, links and articles for your blog entries more easily. It analyzes what you write and puts options on the side of your screen. I got a bit of a surprise looking through the photo suggestions that were posted there. You see, the recipe I wrote about (below) makes mention of a certain anatomic portion of the chicken. Zemanta went out and found a photo of that anatomical portion, but it sure didn't come from a chicken! Hmmm...if that kind of error happens too often, I may have to uninstall the program.

Tonight's dinner is Favorite Oven-Barbecued Chicken and Buttery Corn Casserole

Favorite Oven-Barbecued Chicken

12 each chicken breast tenderloins
1 to taste parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese
1 to taste barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue Sauce)

Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken breasts in 10x15 pan. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan and cheddar or Swiss. Pour barbecue sauce on generously. Bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Buttery Corn Casserole

1 large egg; lightly beaten
5 oz evaporated milk
3 tablespoon Butter; melted, divided
2 can corn; drained
8 oz shredded cheddar
1 cup Butter-flavored crackers; crushed, divided

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk ONLY 2 tbsp butter, corn, cheese and ONLY 1/2 cup cracker crumbs. Spoon into a GREASED 11x7 baking dish. Toss the remaining crumbs and butter; sprinkle over corn mixture. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until edges are bubbly.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Challenges and Checkups

Phillip fell asleep in our bed tonight. John went up and found him like this, apparently embracing some new ideas about Biblical child-rearing. We had to get a photo!

I had my cardiology checkup today. The doctor wasn't too thrilled that I have quit taking my statin drugs, but when I told him how much my memory and general functionality had improved, he agreed that it was worth trying. (I think he could also clearly see that, if he gave me a prescription, he'd be wasting the paper.) He confirmed the research which shows that statins can cause memory problems, and he also said that my cholesterol wasn't too bad. It was in the low 100's, like 117 or so. He said they like to see it lower in people who have had blockages, but I reminded him that my "blockage" was caused by a coronary artery spasm, and that the cardiac catheterization failed to find any evidence of plaque. He wants to see me again in 6 months instead of the usual year. I can live with that.

Nathanael went to a student orientation today from 9am to 1pm at the Jr. High. It was evidently a good experience, and I think he may feel a little less nervous than he did. Overall, he's more excited than nervous, which is good.

I had to deal with some pretty serious "parenting challenges" today. I won't embarrass any kids by singling anyone out or going into details. But the Lord blessed it, and it turned into a very positive thing. I'm very thankful.

Dinner tonight was "Meatloaf Sensation" and "Au Gratin Garlic Potatoes."

Meatloaf Sensation

2-1/2 lb ground beef
4 oz salsa (plus additional if needed to reach desired consistency)
1 pkg dry taco seasoning; divided
1 large egg; slightly beaten
1 cup dry bread crumbs
12 oz shredded Mexican mix cheese
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Crisscross doubled strips of aluminum foil to use as lifters in crockpot. Reserve half of taco seasoning. Combine all other ingredients and mix well. (I sometimes have to add additional salsa here because it's too dry.) Shape into loaf and place in slow cooker. Sprinkle with remaining taco seasoning. Cover and cook on low eight to 10 hours.

Au Gratin Garlic Potatoes

1/2 cup milk
1 can cheddar cheese soup; undiluted
8 oz cream cheese; cubed
1 clove garlic; minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 lb potato; peeled and sliced
1 small onion; chopped

In a saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until bubbles form around side of saucepan. Remove from the heat. Add the soup, cream cheese, garlic, nutmeg and pepper; stir until smooth. Place the potatoes and onion in a 3-qt slow-cooker. Pour the milk mixture over the potato mixture; mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until potatoes are tender. (You really have to watch this one because it can scorch on the sides if it cooks too long. My crock pot is an older model that doesn't get as hot as the newer models, but it still scorches if I leave it too long.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer's winding down

A week from today all three kids will be at school! (Actually, Nathanael starts a week from yesterday.)

Nathanael's bus will pick him up at 7:04 in the morning. That's a major change, considering he used to wake up at 7:30 and leave for school around 8:40.

Tonight there's a parent orientation at the Jr. High School, for those of us who are new to having 7th graders. Bless Mary's heart, she's driving up from Loveland to watch the boys so I can go. John has a conference call.

It was so chilly last night (in the 50's) that I closed the bedroom windows. (It was either that or turn off both fans that were blowing on the bed, one of which stood right in front of the window and had an icy blast pointed right at us. John's idea of Heaven, but he was already asleep. I figured he'd miss the beloved fans more than the open windows if he woke up.)

The kids watched the movie "Nim's Island" last night (and two of them watched it again this morning). It's cute. It's got enough absurdity in it to make it a definite "kid flick," but not enough absurdity to ruin it for the adults. Jodie Foster was wonderful, and Abigail Breslin did a great job. Gerard Butler was good too. Ok, enough pretending to be Roger Ebert...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wednesday and Thursday Events

Got so tied up in writing my other blog yesterday I forgot to write this one. Silly me.

Yesterday Nathanael got his braces on. He did very well, and I was proud of him. His mouth hurt him a bit throughout the day, but not too bad. They had told us that today would be the worst day, but it really wasn't bad at all. It's very encouraging. He still talks kinda differently, and he holds his mouth funny. But that should all disappear in another couple of days.

Today he went to the podiatrist. She took new X-rays and said his break has healed. He no longer has to wear that awkward, uncomfortable boot! But he does have to wear a special shoe for the next two weeks, which means he'll even have to wear it for the first couple of days of school.

Tomorrow I go in for bloodwork in anticipation of my annual cardiac checkup, which happens in about a week.

Phillip continues his obsession with spices and hot sauce. He talks about them endlessly, and constantly rattles off the recipes for various hot concoctions he plans to make when he grows up. Pretty wild, for someone who hates spicy things! He also drew up plans for his future mansion, which had three huge rooms per floor, plus an "Emergency Thunderstorm Elevator." Gotta love it.

John installed a fancy gadget that should help lower our electric bills. We'll have to wait and see how well it works.

No recipes to share. I've just been fixing mushy stuff that the kids love, like Mac and Cheese, since Nathanael's mouth is still sore. But our new software from the ADA website arrived, and it seems pretty cool. It makes it easier to analyze the carbohydrate counts for my recipes.

All for now!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vocal Cord Dysfunction?

My sister was just informed by a pulmonologist that she has been mis-diagnosed all these years with asthma and COPD. (No wonder the medications never helped her!) Instead she has Vocal Cord Dysfunction, which causes the vocal cords to close under any kind of stress (physical exertion, emotional upset, anything), thereby drastically reducing the flow of air.

Well, I Googled "Vocal Cord Dysfunction," and what I found sounded a whole lot like myself. It sure would explain a lot, including the fact that I can't do aerobic exercise (anything more strenuous than walking, that is) without feeling near death in 90 seconds or so. It would explain the fact that tension always feels like a big lump in my throat. It may even contribute to my sleep apnea (including the fact that my difficulty is often with exhalation rather than inhalation). There's more, but I won't bore you with all the details.

Ironically, the treatment for VCD is breathing exercises, which are taught by Speech Pathologists! Yes, I was taught those sorts of exercises many moons ago when I was getting my Masters in Speech Pathology. But back then I had never heard of VCD, and since leaving the field I haven't kept up with things. The exercises were for other sorts of vocal disorders, but they're pretty much the same, from what I'm reading.

It just so happened that I was feeling pretty stressed out today and had a huge lump in my throat, so I took a few minutes and did some breathing exercises, and it really did help. If I ever get good at diaphragmatic breathing, I should be able to incorporate it into day-to-day life, instead of having to take time out to focus on how I breathe. But it's so hard to re-learn breathing! I tried to do it years ago, just because I learned that it was proper, but I couldn't stand it. Maybe it will be more motivating now that I know about VCD (even though I'm not sure I have it...but I think I might).

I went to the chiropractor yesterday because my neck was pretty bad. It's much better today.

Nathanael goes for his braces tomorrow, and on Thursday he goes to the podiatrist, who will hopefully tell him he doesn't have to wear his boot anymore.

Phillip and Andrew are just doing the normal Phillip and Andrew things.

John is planning to extend the floor of the back porch and put the gazebo up on it, where it will shade my kitchen sink window. He has also replaced the 1st floor bathroom light fixture and done other handyman kinds of things.

Duma insists on being a cat. Lately that includes peeing in the vicinity of his litterbox instead of actually in it...

Speaking of that, I need to go clean that box out.

Fun, fun, fun, until Daddy takes the T-Bird away! Oh wait...I never had a T-Bird.

Oh yeah, tonight's dinner was Crescent-ganoff and Broccoli Cheese Casserole.

(so named because the filling seems vaguely like stroganoff, if you cross your eyes when you look at it.)

1 lb ground beef
1 to taste zesty blend original salt-free seasoning
8 oz cream cheese
1 to taste worcestershire sauce
1 to taste nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
4 tube (8 oz each) crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown the ground beef with the salt-free seasoning. Soften cream cheese in the microwave, then add to completely browned beef. Add all remaining ingredients except rolls. Heat through. Open up the rolls into rectangles. Spoon meat mixture onto dough; fold and seal. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

1 jar (8 oz) process cheese spread
1/4 cup butter or margarine; divided
20 oz frozen chopped broccoli; thawed
1 cup butter-flavor crackers, crushed; divided

In a saucepan, combine cheese spread and ONLY 2 tablespoons butter. Cook and stir until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Add broccoli and ONLY 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs. Transfer to a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Melt remaining butter, toss with remaining crumbs. Sprinkle over broccoli. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Not feeling well today

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth, but I'm not feeling well. Fortunately I had put our after-church meal into the crock pot last night around midnight, so it was ready when the others got home from church. I slept until noon. Unfortunately, though I had gotten up briefly at 7-ish to make the bread, I had forgotten to press that pesky little button called, "Start." So there wasn't any bread to go with the stew. Oh well. I pressed "Start" as soon as I discovered the error, and there was bread in time for the evening meal.

I've already posted the recipe for the Ginger Ale Bread, so today I'll only post the recipe for "Becky's Beef Stew." (I don't know who Becky is. I got the recipe from the Web, I think.)

Becky's Beef Stew

0.25 teaspoon pepper
2 lb stew beef; cubed
30 oz frozen mixed vegetables
4 large potatoes; cubed
1 each bay leaf
1 medium onion; chopped
1 can (15 oz) stewed tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt

Put meat on bottom of slow cooker. Layer frozen vegetables and potatoes over meat. Mix remaining ingredients together in large bowl and pour over other ingredients. Cover. Cook on low ten to twelve hours.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Busy Friday

Well, I just had the pleasure of learning that, even though my entry for the topic of "Telephone" didn't finish in the topmost ratings, it still came in 6th out of the 50 entries in my level, and 21st overall (out of 184 entries). It's called, "The Call of the Dialed," if you want to look it up in the index. Those of you who know Phillip will definitely recognize him in it. (I would put the link directly here, but for some reason links don't seem to work in this text entry box.)

I think I just exceeded the legal limit for fun while writing, doing the entry for this week's contest. If the fun police come and haul me away, you'll know why. I'll let you know when it's posted.

Lots of housework done again today. Hurray!

Nathanael did great getting his dental impressions made today. That's not the most pleasant experience, but he sailed through it, despite getting gagged pretty badly at one point.

Phillip has been W-I-L-D for the past couple of days.

Andrew is doing fine.

John is working on getting accustomed to this whole diabetes thing. We just ordered some software from the ADA that will analyze my recipes and also has hundreds of ADA recipes included. We found it brand new on eBay for $4, which was a steal.

I've joined the e-mail prayer chain at church, and today was a very busy day. It's a small church, but it seems to have had an inordinately heavy load of serious concerns developing in people's extended families. I'm glad to be able to be involved in praying for that. It seems like such a small thing to do, but we won't know until Heaven how much of a difference it has made.

Tonight's dinner was Santa Fe Chicken and Mexican Corn Casserole.

Santa Fe Chicken

1 large onion; chopped
1 tablespoon Butter
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup salsa
1 cup rice, long grain; uncooked
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 lb chicken breast; boneless, skinless
1 cup cheddar cheese; shredded

In a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Add broth and
salsa; bring to a boil. Stir in rice and garlic powder. Place chicken over
rice; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn chicken; cook 10-15 minutes
longer or until meat juices run clear. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle with
cheese; cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Mexican Corn Casserole

2 large eggs
1 can (14 oz) creamed corn
3/4 cup cornmeal
5/8 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter or margarine; melted
4 oz green chilis; chopped
1 medium onion; chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 oz shredded cheddar; divided

Preheat oven to 325. Beat eggs in a large bowl; add the next eight
ingredients and mix well. Stir in ONLY 1/2 of cheese. Pour into a greased
2-qt casserole dish. Bake, uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until done. Top
with remaining cheese. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.