Thursday, July 31, 2008

Something To Think About

*Update: Well I am back home with a bunch of gauze in my bra, and a big ol' bottle of Darvocet. My doctor gave me the option of having the procedure done outpatient (i.e. - getting put under, having the procedure in the hospital) or having it done in his office under a local anesthetic. Silly me, I chose to have it done in his office. I figured, "He's a well-known/respected surgeon, how bad could it be?" Okay, so it wasn't really that bad at all. Except maybe for the scissor sounds. And the four times I had to ask for more anesthetic because, oh mama, it hurt! Anyway I am stitched back together and Steve is off for the day so I can sit around and not lift children. The doctor thinks it is probably a lipoma, but I will have to wait until Tuesday for the pathology results.

I wasn't going to blog about this (mostly because I don't have a burning desire to write about my boobs and post it on the Internet), but it dawned on me this morning that this was a great opportunity to put a guilt trip on some of you! You see, I'm leaving in a few minutes to go have a lumpectomy. I found a lump in my breast last November, and I told my doctor about it, but he wasn't overly concerned. So, I listened to him, even though my little inner voice continued to nag at me. By January, it was still weighing heavily on my mind, so I scheduled a mammogram. The mammogram came back fine - - they could see the lump but it wasn't concerning. However, my OB/GYN sent me to a surgeon as a routine follow-up. The surgeon asked me to come back in July (another routine follow-up) so that he could clear me and send me on my merry way. I went to that appointment this past Monday, and to my great surprise, he found that the lump had grown quite a bit in three months. So, I am off this morning to have it removed and biopsied. I am choosing not to freak out, one, because freaking out doesn't do anyone any good. I also know that 80% of biopsied (is that even a word?) lumps come back as benign, but I am certainly not so ignorant as to think that "it can't happen to me". The point to this whole post? If you don't do a monthly self breast exam, you really should rethink that. If something doesn't seem right, tell your doctor.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Meet My New Girlfriend

So Steve talked me into buying a beach cruiser. He brought it home for me on Friday, and I dare say, I am madly in love with it. We just got home from an hour-long family bike ride, and it was great. Oh sure, point and laugh if you must. Yes, it has ginormous whitewalls, a bell, a basket, and lotsa flowers. I'm pretty sure this bicycle comes extremely close to being just as great as the "Holly Hobbie Picnic" banana seat bicycle I received for my 5th birthday.

The best feature may just be the huge tractor seat.

Or maybe it's the bell. I'm pretty sure Steve thought I was a huge geek when we were out riding earlier today, because I couldn't seem to stop ringing it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Friday Morning Rant

To the assumed Teenager With Nothing Better to Do who made off with my landscaping lights in the middle of the night: get a job, stop watching so much t.v./playing video games all day long, and find something productive to do with yourself. Thanks!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Homemade Fudgesicles

When I was little, my mom use to make homemade fudgesicles and popsicles for my brother and I. She had this neat little Tupperware set of popsicle molds, and I stumbled upon an identical set a couple of years ago. The other day, I finally got around to making some! The boys really love them, so I think this recipe will be going into my permanent file.

All you will need is one small package of instant chocolate pudding mix (or any flavor you like), 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 cup water, and 1/4 cup sugar.
Whisk all ingredients together, until smooth.

Pour into molds, and then freeze for at least 4 hours, until solid. If you don't want to buy special molds, you can also use Dixie cups. Simply cover with a small piece of foil, and then poke a popsicle stick through the top.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Hitch in My Giddyup

Quite a busy week planned this dates, appointments, dinner guests, to-do's galore, but I am holding my breath at the moment. You see, I am taking care of a dear friend's two children for a couple of days, while she and her husband are out of town. Unfortunately, one of said children is running a very high fever as of tonight, and is rather ill. This, I am assuming, means that since their children/our children have spent the past twelve hours or so, romping around together, I'll most likely be cancelling some of the above-mentioned plans. So, if you wouldn't mind, please take a moment and send me all of your Lysol-wipes-germ-eliminating-fever-reducing vibes our way. Must not get sick! Must not have sick children! Calgon, take me away!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Army Perks

As most of you know, Steve is in the Army National Guard, which means he attends drill one weekend per month, and then every summer he goes away for two weeks of training (this summer, he has 4 weeks of training). In addition to that, his "regular" job is as a state employee for the Idaho Army National Guard. So, while he isn't on active duty, I still consider us a "military family" - - his job is extremely demanding, as is his commitment to the Guard - - basically for Steve, it is like having two very time-consuming, stressful, full-time jobs. I seriously don't know how he does it, and I probably don't tell him enough how much I appreciate how hard he works for us, so that I can stay home with the boys - - thanks honey, you are the best! Anyway, Steve's work commitments require sacrifice on both our parts, but I think we each do a pretty good job making it all work out. While it is hard at times, the military is good to us, and there are many perks that come with Army life. Yesterday, we went to Steve's armory to pick him up, and the boys got to enjoy one of the simpler perks.

When your dad is the commander, you get to crawl all over the army trucks. This alone is enough to send Camden right over the edge and love the Army forever.

When the boys were finished inspecting the vehicles, it was back to Daddy's office for another treat - - MRE's. Steve had a case of them in his office, and let the boys dig through them for a treat. Camden picked a bag of potato sticks, and Griffie chose some chow mien noodles. I think they thought they'd hit the jackpot. I'm still giggling at the fact that Steve had previously opened nearly all of the MRE's, in search of anything with sugar in it. He has a bit of a sugar problem. I'll tell you all about that some day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Something New: Freezer Jam

I've done a bit of hot water bath canning in my time - - pickles, lemon curd, chutney, jellies, and such. However, I've not been brave enough to do it again since having kids (except when I made some cherry jam a couple of years ago during one of Griffin's naps...not a good idea - - he woke up early), because you really need uninterrupted time to do it right. That being said, my friend Joy has six kids and still cans like crazy every year. So, perhaps I am just lazy! Then, my friend Kate made strawberry jam the other day, and I really got the itch. This time, though, I really wanted to try my hand at making freezer jam. I'd read that this is a great way to make jam because since you do not cook the berries, the jam maintains a very fresh flavor. Off to the farmer's market I went... I purchased six pints of these lovely boysenberries from a delightful berry farmer, who tells me he'll soon have raspberries and blackberries, too. Turning these beauties into freezer jam was so incredibly simple that I am almost embarrassed to tell you about it.

First, I washed the berries:

Next, I put them in a batter bowl and mashed them up with a potato masher (enough berries to equal 4 cups, which was exactly three pints):

Next, I mixed the freezer pectin with 1 1/2 cups of sugar:

Then, I added the sugar/pectin to the crushed berries and stirred for 4 minutes. Next, I ladled the jam into some Ball Plastic Freezer Jars, screwed on the tops, let them sit for 30 minutes, and then put them into the freezer, where they will keep for up to a year.

I kept one in the refrigerator, and it is half gone already. The result: sweet, delicious, fresh boysenberry jam, and my little guys love it.

My tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen, so I think I will also try my hand at freezer salsa in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

ABC's of Me

I was tagged for this meme by Cocoa from Chocolate on My Cranium, so here we go!

A. Attached or single? Attached

B. Best friend? Steve, my mom

C. Cake or pie? Cake. I love to eat them, and I love to decorate them!

D. Day of choice? Friday

E. Essential item? my laptop and my digital camera

F. Favorite color? many shades of green

G. Gummy bears or worms? gummy bears, but really I just prefer chocolate

H. Home town? born and raised in mid coast Maine, and now, I am somewhere in Idaho!

I. Favorite indulgence? reading (uninterrupted), sitting in a coffee shop (by myself!)

J. January or July? July, even thought that is a very hot month here.

K. Kids? two boys, but you already knew that

L. Life isn’t complete without? Steve, Camden, and Griffin. Oh, and the occasional decaf nonfat mocha.

M. Marriage date? September 15, 2001

N. Number of brothers and sisters? One brother, 4 years older

O. Oranges or Apples? oranges

P. Phobias? Vomit!

Q. Quotes? "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent". -Eleanor Roosevelt

R. Reasons to smile? Life is good.

S. Season of choice? In Maine: autumn. In Idaho: spring

T. Tag 5 people: Lisa, Kate, Joy, Aunt Jean, Melissa

U. Unknown fact about me? I love to read magazines. I have to make a conscious effort not to buy one every time I am at the store.

V. Vegetable? fresh peas

W. Worst habit? Not completing a task before I start a new one (I'm not sure this is my worst habit - - I have quite a few - - this is just one that makes me the most crazy)

X. Xray or ultrasound? Ultrasound.

Y. Your favorite food? cheese. I love all kinds of cheeses, and I'm not even really supposed to eat it :(

Z. Zodiac sign? Aquarius

Monday, July 14, 2008

Family Car Camping, Take 1

So...Steve and I ventured out on our first car camping trip with the boys (and since we've been married!) over the weekend. We decided to just do an overnight, in case it was a total disaster. I'm happy to report that although there were a few bumps in the road (nothing major, but what you'd expect when camping with an almost-two-year old and a five-year-old), we all had a great time, and can't wait to do it again. Steve is more of a backpacking/hiking camper. As for me, I did some car camping with my parents, when I was really little. So car camping was a relatively new adventure for us. After lunch yesterday, we headed for Sage Hen Reservoir, in the Boise National Forest. We were thinking the campground would be mostly empty, since it was a Sunday afternoon, but in fact there were only a handful of sites available. We found a nice one, set up camp, and the adventures began. Steve and Camden did some fishing...

...while I kept tight reigns on Griffin, who stood on the dock saying, "I get in pool now!"
I had fun making dinner on the camp stove, but had even more fun eating s'mores...

...and then sitting by the fire with Steve after the little guys had gone to bed...

...although one of them didn't stay in bed for long. Camden re-emerged from the tent, right around the time that Steve remembered that we'd packed some Jiffy-Pop...
Then it was off to bed, where neither Steve nor I got much sleep, but got up the next morning, still so happy that we'd taken the plunge. Now we are both hooked, and look forward to going again in a couple of weeks. Mind you, I kept a running list while we were away...little tweaks to supplies and packing, so things should go even more smoothly the next time.

Oh, and I can't end without including some of the endless beauty of Idaho...

P.S. Camden is watching me type, and wanted me to include this picture that he took of his dad. He likes to call this one, "Floating Head":

Thursday, July 10, 2008

As Summer Speeds By...

...I'm finding it difficult to steal away a few moments of time to myself to be able to write. I have the best intentions every week and then the next thing I know, days have past and my blog is nice and stale, once again. I'll have to see what I can do about that.

Camden did not pass Level One swimming, but I am so proud of the progress he's made! We tried swimming lessons at the Y last year, but he just wasn't ready. So, we tried again this year at the city pool, and he's doing great. We just started the second session, and this time, Griffin and I are taking a class together, too. Griffin makes me a bit nervous because he does NOT want any help - - he wants to jump off the side of the pool by himself, he doesn't want me holding him, etc. He thinks he can just take off and swim, and while I am glad he is eager, it stresses me out!

For some reason, by the time we are done with swimming lessons in the morning, I feel like the day is almost over and I am all thrown off. I have a hard time staying organized without ANY extra-curricular activity, so this is just another adjustment phase for me. All is not lost though - - I'm happy to report that I've been doing a lot of "clearing of the clutter", as well as a home-improvement project or two. More on that in the coming days...

The boys and I hit the farmer's market yesterday, and I'm happy to say that there are finally a few more vendors there. For a few weeks now, it has just been a couple of people, and little to no veggies. Yesterday, we made quite a haul:

I steamed some peas with dinner, and cut up some of the fresh carrots. For dessert, fresh boysenberries with whipped cream. Yum. My goal is to rely on the farmer's market (as well as my tomato and bell pepper plants, which are thriving, thank you very much) and not buy any vegetables from the grocery store in the coming months. Frankly, it is kind of scary any more (*ahem* salmonella, anyone?) to buy produce at the grocery store, not to mention the fact that most of it is coated with who-knows-what. Most of all, I really like supporting my local farmers.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Andrea Collins-Smith

So very, very sad to learn that Andrea Collins-Smith passed away today, after a courageous battle with inflammatory breast cancer. If you haven't ever had the chance to visit her blog, please do yourself a favor and take a few moments to do so. There are many life lessons to be learned there. Her husband, Kelly, and her children, intend to keep her blog going. Rest in peace, Andrea.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sweet Summer

Ever since I read this post on my aunt's blog the other day, I've been daydreaming about Aunt Bea's Tarta. My aunt made one when she visited with Camden and I back in 2004, and she used fresh peaches. The boys and I visited a local cherry orchard yesterday afternoon, so I thought I would give it a try using fresh cherries, along with a sprinkling of fresh blueberries that we'd purchased there as well.

I halved the recipe, using two 9x5 loaf pans to bake the cake in, and it worked just fine. It tastes delicious with cherries, and now I'm thinking this may be a potential entry in next year's cherry bake-off...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things: The Happy Housewife Cheese Grater

I am madly in love with this cheese grater. I can't stand it, it is so darn cute. I mean, seriously! I must admit, I feel kind of bad when I have to squeeze her cute little head for leverage, when I'm grating cheese. (P.S. - I also love this vintage cherry table cloth that I found over the weekend, at a fabulous new store, here in town).
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