March 30, 2012

More Questions that puzzle me

- Why won't Keebler make graham crackers without using corn syrup and cottonseed oil?

- Why do people who should NOT be wearing skinny jeans wear skinny jeans? 

- Do people think skinny jeans are flattering?

- Why do people drive 5 miles under the speed limit when the roads are clear?

- Why when I leave 5 minutes early to take/pick up my kids from school does the drive take half the time?

- Why are the traffic lights in my town not synchronized correctly, like they are in the city just adjacent to us, but instead timed so that I will hit every red light, no matter what speed I'm driving?

- Why do some guys wear knit caps in the desert heat of Arizona?

- Why do some people wear those disturbing ear guages?

- Do people think ear guages are attractive?

- Does anyone else wonder these same things?


March 29, 2012

Hitting the Floor

I chaperoned Mary's 5th grade class field trip to the Halle Heart Center last week.  We all rode the school bus there, about 25 minutes away.  Our group (all girls) settled in the theater for an introduction and a short film about heart attack symptoms and how to respond in an emergency, especially if someone is having a heart attack.  The video was well done..... good acting and very realistic.  It was quite a traumatic scene, with a girl about the same age as Mary responding to her uncle having a heart attack.  Flashing lights and images were involved, along with dramatic music.  The "paramedics" (actually, they were played by real local paramedics) arrive and take care of the man, wheeling him off to the ambulance.  It was all quite effective.... maybe a little too much.  I found myself getting a little bit choked up.  The room was also a little warm and Mary had her sweater one.

The film ended and the tour guide got up and began talking again.  Suddenly there was Mary tumbling forward out of her seat onto the floor.  She was convulsing for a moment, and naturally we were all pretty freaked out.  After a moment she came to, but she was incredibly pale and not really responding to our questions.  It took a while for her to regain her color and start responding normally, and by then the real paramedics had arrived and checked her out.  She was fine, but it was rather alarming.  I was SO grateful that I was on that field trip... it would have been much harder (for both of us!) if I hadn't been there.

I think Mary was grateful that our group was all girls (we had to be divided up into groups anyway to fit, and at that age it's much better if they are separated), though she didn't seem to be the slightest bit embarrassed.  In fact, everyone was pretty impressed. 

Mary has a tendency to be a little squeamish sometimes, but I never imagined anything like this would happen, especially since we hadn't seen anything gory (though there was some talk of "blood").  But I think it was just a "perfect storm" for fainting.... warm room, wearing a sweater, dramatic scenes, flashing lights and images, etc.  As it turns out, a few of the paramedics said this was their third call to the same place for the same reason in the last 2 weeks.  The museum director confirmed that, yes, it does happen on a pretty regular basis.  I think they need some better air conditioning in that room.

So, there we were.... miles away from home and my car was back at the school.  Mary was OK, but she needed to go home and take it easy, and it certainly wouldn't have been a good idea to have her stay there and view the rest of the tour, which was infinitely more squeamish-worthy than what we had seen so far.  I suppose the bus driver would have taken us back, but that would have been weird.  I knew that Jay was in a conference all day at a location about 45 minutes away but I called him anyway.  Then I called my mom.... no answer.  Then my sister.... she was at least 30 minutes away.  Then a paramedic mentioned that the department had a non-emergency van a few minutes away that could take us.  That worked.

Mary spent the rest of the day resting, knowing she wasn't missing anything (no work anyway) at school, which was good because she tends to stress out about things like that.  All her friends called to check up on her later that afternoon, and she was the talk of the class the next day.  It's a good thing she enjoys attention (unlike Jack; he hates it!).

Random Questions I've Been Asking Myself Today

- Why does the bird outside my window chirp (more like squeak) all day long, non-stop, at the same pitch and pace, with no variation whatsoever, in a super-annoying, boring, monotonous way?

-  Why do weird scientific experiments or anomalies change "good guys" into villains (e.g. Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin) even though one turned Peter Parker into a noble super hero? 

-  Why do men tend to leave cupboard doors/drawers open?

-  Why do characters in scary movies enter darkened rooms without turning on the lights?

-  Why do movie villains always admit their evil plans and explain their motivations to the hero when he is captured?

-  Why do people post stupid things on Facebook, like what they are eating/going to eat later/cooking, or that they are tired/going to bed, etc.?

- Why do people I hardly know request to be my friend on Facebook?

- Why was the movie Footloose remade?

- How is an e-book better than a "real" book that doesn't require batteries or charging, can be easily bookmarked/set down/picked up again, can be easily lent to a friend, never loses power or crashes, lasts hundreds of years, is very durable, and doesn't require an expensive device in order to be read?

- Do any of these questions have answers?

Oh, and...

- Is this post really obnoxious?

March 28, 2012

EASY DINNER #8 - Korean Beef

Yes, we eat a lot of Asian food.  This one is super easy, and super tasty.  Did you get a rice cooker yet?

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger
pinch of crushed red pepper (more or less, depending on preference)
green onions, chopped (optional)
snap peas (sometimes I throw these in if I have them; don't overcook them)

Heat oil in large skillet; add garlic and beef and brown.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and add to pan (along with peas, if using); simmer a few minutes to blend flavors.  Serve over rice.

Spring Break

Spring Break week was sort of a let down this year... not that there wasn't some excitement, at least for Collin.

First, Collin had to have an MRI on his head.  I'd better back up.

[WARNING:  This post is kind of long because it's also my journal, and because I assume that you are reading this blog because you care about what goes on in our family.  If that's not the case, go ahead and skip this post.  I won't be offended.  I won't even know.  I'm just trying to be nice and spare you from getting bored.]

About 6 months ago, while cutting Collin's hair (which I hadn't done in a long time.... Jay had just been "buzzing it off" with the electric clippers, but now that he is in 7th grade he cares what his hair looks like) I noticed a lump on his scalp, about 1.5" diameter, right at the "crown."  It is sort of "squishy" and pliable. 

Of course I called the pediatrician right away, was told it was suspicious, had an ultrasound, went to see a pediatric surgeon who said it was probably just a cyst and we could decide to "wait and see" or have it removed, and determine the timetable ourselves.  He didn't act like it was a big deal so we decided to wait until school was out.

In the meantime, Collin was having some drainage from his right ear (had chronic ear infections as a baby, had an adnoidectomy and tubes in his ears) so I took him to the pediatric ENT (love him) who said he has a perforated ear drum that probably won't heal on it's own.  But, since surgery is invasive and it doesn't seem to have effected his hearing, he feels it is better to give it some time (usually a year) to see if it will heal on its own.  

So, we happened to mention to him that Collin has a "mass" on his head that will need to be removed.  He said he could work with the other surgeon and do them both at the same time to avoid having anesthesia more than absolutely necessary.  Then he said, "Just out of curiosity, I would like to see/feel this lump."  (It's kind of hard to actually "see" it under all that hair.)  After about 10 seconds he asked who the surgeon was, and I told him.  He said, "Well, he is a fine general surgeon, but this is on his HEAD!  He MUST see a pediatric neurologist," and recommended one.

Off we went to see doctor #4 (love him) who immediately ordered the MRI.  So, yeah, MRI's stink.  (I've had a couple in my life, and it's pretty miserable.)  If you've never had one, just imagine lying perfectly still (you can blink and breathe, but that's it) on a super hard table inside a tube, for 45 minutes, while listening to a jack hammer.  Yep, it sucks.  But Collin was a trooper and did great.

Second, Collin got braces. I had to snap a photo with my phone.... it was too funny.

Remember how I said he cares about his hair now?  Well, I totally screwed up this hair cut.  Oops.
Collin is generally very healthy, but this poor kid has so many things wrong "in his head".... teeth, ear, scalp.  He is 12, but he never lost most of his baby teeth, other the four in the front, top and bottom.  Rather than becoming loose, the baby teeth were receding back into his gums, even though the permanent teeth were fully formed behind them.  This was a huge problem.

So, he had to have 10 teeth pulled.... that was last summer, and they still aren't in.  Most of them have at least "budded" so that's good, but 2 have still not made an appearance.  This has been the hold up with the braces (he should have had them about a year ago).  They finally put the braces on, and then he will eventually have to have oral surgery to go in an attach to the teeth and pull them down.  Bummer.

So, yeah, lots going on with Collin.  He is such a good sport about all of this.  And to top it off he is getting straight A's, and he has a part-time job.

[His former scout leader was always so impressed with Collin that he asked him to take care of his yard, dog, and pool.  He goes over there 2 days a week for a couple of hours.  He is earning money for scout camp (he is going to 2 different ones this year), so this is great timing (probably just temporary while this man is particularly busy at work).  We are excited for Collin to have the opportunity at such a young age, to earn his own money, learn to make a budget, and keep track of his spending.]

The rest of the week the kids mostly just played Wii (they never get to during a regular school week, so I just let them have at it), and we went and had lunch with Jay one day.   And that was spring break. 

P.S.  Collin had a follow up with the neurologist to discuss the MRI results.  The good news; the mass is all outside his skull; his skull is completely intact, normal, and unaffected; and his brain looks normal.  It "appears" to be what's called a lipoma, or fatty benign (the word I wanted to hear!) tumor (a word I did NOT want to hear), which are not a big deal.... usually.  Lipomas are not unusual, but Collin's happens to be unusually large and in an unusual location.  It only "appears" to be a lipoma, and the only way to know for sure is to remove it and do a biopsy.  The surgery is fairly simple, it's out-patient, and recovery is generally pretty short.  It will probably be this summer.

March 27, 2012

EASY DINNER #7 - Super Easy Clam Chowder

This is one of my favorite "pantry recipes."  I always keep a good stock of these items in my pantry because my family loves this soup, and you can put it together in just a few minutes.  The "non-pantry" items are pretty much "optional," though they make it quite tasty.  :)   But this makes for a good "food storage" recipe.

(4-6 servings)

2 (15 oz.) cans diced potatoes (I get these at Wal-Mart), drained*
1 can corn, drained*
1 can cream of celery soup
1 (6.5 oz.) can minced or chopped clams, UNdrained**
2 T. butter (optional)
2 T. heavy cream (optional)
pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients in a medium pot and heat through over medium heat.  If desired, serve with toppings like crumbled bacon*** (yum!), croutons, or oyster crackers (bleh, but my husband likes them), or serve with crusty bread on the side, and salad or veggies. 

* If you want your soup thinner, don't drain the potatoes or corn.
** Sometimes I use 2 cans when I'm feeling generous.  :)
*** I buy the large bags of "Real Crumbled Bacon" from Sam's Club, separate it into small zipper bags and freeze it.  Then I pull one out to keep in my fridge for things like this.

March 26, 2012


For some reason Jack has been wearing these 3D glasses (with the lenses popped out) around the house all the time recently.  He takes it very seriously.  Jay popped out the lenses of his sunglasses to pose with him.  Aren't they handsome? 

March 22, 2012

EASY DINNER #6 - Easy Creamy Pasta

From a series of easy dinner recipes, explained in this post.

This is great as a quick and simple side dish, or a main dish if you add in some extras.  You can go simple and light, or hearty and filling.

16 oz. pasta, any shape (we like Rigatoni)
2 T. butter
1/3 - 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, grated (fresh, not from a can!)
1/4 c. cream (or milk), optional
coarse garlic salt, to taste
parsley, dry or fresh (chopped)

Cook and drain pasta; return to pot.  Toss with remaining ingredients and return to warm burner to melt cheese.  Serve as a simple side dish, or add optional ingredients as desired.

Optional add-ins:
1-2 T. pesto
other fresh herbs or Italian seasoning
sliced/diced cooked chicken or sausage
sautéed mushrooms and/or zucchini, etc.
a can of diced tomatoes

March 21, 2012

Mary Gets Published

Mary loves reading The Friend magazine.  She typically reads it cover-to-cover on the day it arrives in the mail.  She has always especially liked the little stories sent in by kids and always wished she could "be in print."

More than two years ago, when she was 8, Mary had an experience that she wanted to write about and send to The Friend, so I helped her and we sent it in.  For months afterward she searched the magazine eagerly, hoping to find her little story and photo.  I assured her that IF it was ever actually published it would take a long time because they plan their layouts months and months in advance.

She eventually gave up hope and forgot about it.  Well, yesterday the April 2012 addition of The Friend arrived in the mail.  I heard Mary and Jack arguing over who would get to read it first.  Fortunately, Mary won.  You can imagine her surprise and delight when she turned to page 19 and saw her photo (now outdated) and story printed at the bottom!  She could not be more pleased.  It made her day.... probably her whole year.  Don't be surprised if the next time you talk to Mary she tells you all about it.

See the story HERE