Monday, October 6, 2008

Canned veggies, naked crabs, and packed boxes...Oh My!

This is a picture of a giant, bathtub-filling pile of carrots. After spending 3 hours scrubbing, chopping, cooking, and canning these carrots, I realize why women 100 years ago didn't work outside the home! This pile of carrots turned into 5 quart jars of canned carrots, plus 4 baggies of tiny ones for the guinea pigs. Looking at the carrots makes me tired. Anyways, I haven't posted in forever, because there has been so much going on. We finally found a house to move to, so the packing has commenced.

Let me say that my significant other and I have very different ideas on getting ready for a move. When we moved in together the first time, we showed up at his house with the truck, and 1/2 of his stuff wasn't even packed! Me, I start 1-2 months before the moving date, carefully packing, wrapping, and labeling all my belongings, even down to the smiley face, with 23 days to go! written neatly on the side. To say I was frustrated with his efforts was understating it a bit. So we will see how it goes this time. He says he will start packing 2 weeks before we move. And,

this time we are going to get help from a bunch of his work friends. So, even if he doesn't pack well, hopefully I won't be the one that suffers for it. As you can see from the picture, I have started to destroy my house. It is kind of nice to not worry about cleaning anything. What's the point?
I am very excited about the move to the new house. It has a shower on the same floor as the bedrooms, so we won't have to run downstairs through the freezing cold to take a shower this winter. Also, it has closets. My current house is very old, so I guess people didn't have more than one outfit back then. I will enjoy getting some of the clutter out of sight. I am trying to get my son excited about the move, but he is lukewarm so far. I took him by the house to show him the yard and point to where his room would be through the windows. No one was available to let us in that day. I think he is a little nervous, he keeps making comments about how nothing is wrong with our current house. He is really

excited about bunking with his big brother in the new 'boys' room though.
In other exciting news, we got a new hermit crab. My son called him 'Fred'. Fred replaced 'Herbert', who was purchased at Petsmart, but died within 2 days. Fred was purchased at the Ark, a very nice local pet store. Fred seems to be striving for dominance, however, because I came in the other night when he was forcing poor Sheldon out of his shell. The picture shows a very rare sight, a naked crab. Fred climbed on top of Sheldon's shell, made high pitch squeaking noises, and waved his pinchers in Sheldon's face. Upon which, Sheldon jumped out of his shell and onto a nearby lava rock. This is where I entered the fray...I grabbed poor Sheldon (naked), and his shell out and scooped them into a dish, and then a box. It took several minutes and lots of coercing to get Sheldon into a new shell. I am keeping an eye on them, so they don't injure each other if possible. I have enough trouble with bad petstore crabs, without worrying about them ripping limbs off each other.

I just made a batch of pickles last night. They are made in bread and butter flavor, but with
jalapenos added in for a hot afterburn. My dad will love them. Here is the recipe:

Trina's Sweet and Hot Pickles
6 large cucumbers
5-6 jalapenos
1/2 cup pickling lime
1 gallon water
4 cups white vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 tsp canning salt
1 tsp pickling spices

1. Soak sliced cucumbers and 3 jalapenos in water and lime overnight. Do not use aluminum.
2. Remove the cucumbers from the lime water. Discard the lime water. Rinse 3 times in fresh cold water. Soak 3 hours in fresh ice water.
3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a low boil, stirring til sugar dissolves. Remove syrup from heat, adding the cucumbers. Soak in syrup overnight.
4. Add remaining sliced jalapenos. Boil slices in syrup 30 minutes. Pack the slices into clean jars. Pour the hot syrup over the slices, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Cap each jar when filled.
5. Process pints 10 minutes, quarts 15 minutes in boiling water bath canner.
6. Check that seals are airtight, refrigerate jars that didn't seal.
Enjoy! They turned out just right, sweet with a burn. A great way to use up the many jalapenos I have leftover.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Stress + Work = Fat

This is a (bad) picture of me from last winter. Of course my son is also present, as well as a guinea pig named Edith dressed in a reindeer costume, but, that is another story. The point is, this is me in my 'COMFY' winter clothes. Grey sweats or yoga pants, and a big baggy tshirt or sweatshirt. This is my standard uniform once the weather gets cold enough to turn on the heater. This might also entail heavy wool socks or fluffy pink slippers, as well as a blanket. Note the couch. This is where I spend 100% of nonwork, nonsleep time when it gets cold.

I start out with the best of intentions. I walk all summer. I do a good job eating well, and I get plenty of sleep. I work out in the yard, I play with my son, this summer I had a vegetable garden. However, once I go back to work, this all goes down the you-know-what. I say, "When I get home from work, I will make supper, and then I will exercise." What really happens is that I come home from work, exhausted, and I find it difficult to get my butt off the couch except to do essential tasks. Remember, I teach, so I don't work in the summer. (Pause for groans of nonsympathy from readers) So, it is difficult for me to make the transition back to getting up so early in the morning and being out and about all day. (Pause for more groans)

It gets worse when the cold weather comes. I don my heavy layer of winter clothing and curl up on the couch. This is exacerbated by the fact that my fiance padlocks the thermostat and threatens anyone with bodily harm that turns it above 68 degrees. So, I curl up on the couch to hibernate until spring comes. The holidays come and go, I eat the standard junk, and my lack of activity usually results in me gaining back every bit of the weight I worked off in the summertime.

So, this year I pledge that it will be different. (Pause for laughter from readers) For instance, in an effort to work exercise into my daily routine, I have decided to set my alarm an hour early to get up and walk before I go to work. This is how I imagine it will go.
5AM Alarm goes off. I hit snooze.
510 AM Alarm goes off again...snooze.
520 AM Alarm goes off again...snooze again.
6AM I get up at the time I usually would have set my alarm for anyway, except the last hour of sleep was totally worthless because I woke up every ten minutes for an hour.
At 5AM I find it impossible to do anything that I swore I would do at 10PM the previous night.

This year I found out that my gallbladder is basically useless. It only functions correctly 27% of the time. Being overweight increases my stomach problems. So I really, really, really, need to keep my weight down until I can afford to get my gallbladder taken out. Plus, I turn 30 this year. They say you lose 10% of your metabolism with every decade you age. I have to work that much harder to get the same results. So, again I swear I will try to exercise and eat right into the school year. Hopefully this time I will be successful. If anyone reads this and has any tips on how to be a mom and work full time and keep off weight...i would love to hear them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Can a 5-year-old get Mono?!!!!

So, we are back to the urgent care clinic again today. Since Saturday, we have had a cycle of fevers, medicine, antibiotics, sleeping, and more fevers. He stayed home from school with his dad on Monday. Tuesday, he seemed okay, so he went to school. I started back to work on Monday, so I was able to spin by on my lunch and give him more Motrin. Today, I probably should have kept him home, but the motrin was working and he didn't seem to have a fever. This afternoon, while I am at a school getting equipment ready, I get a phone call. Is this his Mom? they ask. Because he got up from his nap and he was very upset and went back to sleep on a mat in the office. My son, I say? Beligerant, yes...willing to take naps, no. He must be really sick, I think. Immediately I have mom guilt for sending him to school when he is obviously so ill. Even though he was happy and non-fevered at lunchtime 2 hours before. I'll be right there, I say. When I get to the daycare office, I go in and have an entire 10-minute conversation with the staff, which he sleeps through. I look cautiously at the child on the floor, because there is no way my son would sleep like that. I had to shake him awake and half-drag, half-carry him out to the car. So, back to the clinic we went.

Of course we get a different doctor this time. This one seems to think that my son has mono. Mono, I say? Can a 5-year-old get Mono? He looks at me like I am an idiot. Yes, anyone can get Mono, he says. I am mentally calculating how many days I will have to take off work because I am the parent with paid sick days. But they tested him for that last time, I whine. Well, you know what the chances of the Mono test being accurate on the first day of symptoms are, he asks. I raise my eyebrows. Zero!, he says cheerfully. I am annoyed. Why did they do the test then? To add to my irritation, the blood machine (that is a technical term) is broken today, and they are out of Mono tests. However, they will run the test down to the hospital and call me this very evening, with the re re results of the Mono test. There is one catch. They need his blood. My son starts eyeing the man with the needles and vials with suspicion the second he enters the room. We have had a few experiences with drawing blood, all of them unpleasant. This time will be no different. He starts right out with wailing and thrashing. I get to try out my new wrestling holds while pinning his right arm to the table. He doesn't fall for my attempts to make this procedure seem cool and/or fascinating. Finally, the blood is gone and my son sits sniffling in my lap. The fact that he wants me to comfort him after I have done something seemingly horrible to him baffles me. They send us home, waiting for the phone call that may or may not give us a contagious disease.

When I decide to go to the bathroom at 6:30, they call. The test is negative, they say. I am relieved, even though this test may not mean much. So now we wait for 3-5 days for our other blood tests to come back. The doctor wants him to take another antibiotic, which I am not sure will help at all, considering he told me his white blood cell count was not at all elevated. We will stay home and rest tomorrow, so we can go to work/school on Friday. I am not sure how long this will all last, but I know I better stock up on Motrin.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

In the Woods

Camping by yourself with children is definately work. I love to go camping, I was raised on it. My family would go for several days at one time, backpack, lots of hiking, etc...I went a few times when I was married to my son's dad before the baby...and I had him to do most of the hard work. Now, it is just me, and I never realized how many things take two people to do. My current fiance does not care for tent camping, but I am not one to sit around and miss out on life because there is no one to go with. So, we bought a small tent and off we went. Alas, even a small tent needs TWO people to set up easily. It even says that in the instructions. After a lot of swearing and sweating, I managed to bully the tent into standing up long enough to wedge the tent poles into the ground. Same goes for tent stakes. I banged on those stakes so long I thought my arm or the top of the hammer would fall off. I must have put my tent on the hardest piece of dirt in Iowa.

We managed to have a good time. I only stayed one night the first time. Since I was doing all the work, I was exhausted. We went hiking and swimming and kept the injuries to a minimum. My son got stung by something...I didn't see the offending insect. He was climbing trees and accidently stumbled upon a nest of wasps or otherwise agitated bugs. He started screaming, "bees! bees!", and I ran over and grabbed him. I inspected him and found two or three nasty red welts on his forehead and hands, but no stingers. Thank God.
We survived raccoon trash invasions, howling tomcats, and many gnats, but in all, it was fun. I am looking forward to when my son gets bigger and he can help with the tent. I'm glad we can share something together that doesn't involve tv, the computer, or matchbox cars for that matter. I know someday I will be glad for something like this when he is teenager and he doesn't like 'anything'.

Strep Throat

Well, here we go again. My son comes to me this morning saying, Mommy, my throat hurts. He has swollen lymph nodes, a really high fever, and no cold. I'm thinking, great, strep again. We just went through this in June. He had it bad, throwing up, fever, etc...We just had his adnoids out and ear tubes in in December, and now the tonsils decide to be a problem. Anyways, at the walk-in clinic, they say negative on the strep test. The doctor wants to take blood and test for Mono. GREAT...even better, I think. Luckily, that was negative, too. So, they swabbed his throat and they are going to grow a culture. The doctor thinks that it might be strep too early to catch, so they went ahead and put him on an antibiotic. School starts Monday, so hopefully he will be better by then.
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