Tuesday, March 31

A Normal Day

Yesterday, we did lessons. We talked. We walked about outside. We did more laundry, more disinfecting, more dishes. We read.

James said he's glad he's read Robinson Crusoe. That made me smile, because he hasn't always been glad. But it picked up, and it got interesting. And he got over whatever mental block he had and found it fascinating. And we both smiled.

John's handwriting is now improving as much as James' has. I need to write a thank you note to the folks at Italic Handwriting. Thanks to them, I may be able to stave off needing glasses for one more year.

Jake has no desire to read, but he sure wants to catch up with his brothers in math.

Emily wants to read. She wants to read everything on every surface, every sign. She knows there's a pattern in there, and she wants to know the key.

Jason's third tooth finally erupted after he started antibiotics. Now three more have come through. He looks like he's wearing a partial bridge.

We'll resume baseball and piano and gardening this week. We'll finish up our history and literature and begin the next round. We'll hopefully make it to church this Sunday.

Our normal. It feels pretty exciting, right about now.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 29

Fish Taco Batter for Jeni

We had fish tacos again tonight, and I kept thinking I'd forgotten something... Oh, yeah. Jeni had asked about the batter recipe. This recipe doesn't give us any pockets of grease. Plus, it's easy. And we're all about the Easy. So, here ya go.

Fish Taco Batter
1 c. beer
1 c. flour
1 egg
pinch of salt
pinch of baking powder

mix until smooth.

chill for 1 hr.

dry the fish well. cut into pieces (about the length of your corn tortillas), dust with cornmeal.

dip fish into the batter.

fry in hot oil.

serve on a warm corn tortilla with fake salsa, homemade tartar sauce, lettuce and cheese.


Other Tips:

Corn tortillas are notoriously dry and crumbly, and they don't really like being folded up for a little soft taco action. You can beat this buy putting them into a sandwich bag (about 8 or 9 at a time) and nuking them for a minute. They'll be warm (ok, scorchingly hot, so be careful), and pliable, and will stay that way long enough to get them eaten!

Fake Salsa is embarrassingly easy to make. Take one can diced tomatoes (or diced tomatoes and green chiles), about 1/4 onion (cut into big pieces), 5 or so jalapeno slices, and one Knorr brand mini cilantro cube, a squirt of lemon juice and blend together to a chunky-smooth delicious topping.

Tartar Sauce... we usually discover we don't have any, right about the time we need it. So we started making it, and the last time we actually bought some, we all agreed we preferred the stuff we've been making. If you don't make your own, try it. It's easy!
Salad dressing or mayo, dill relish, finely minced onion, lemon juice, and a titch of paprika. Mix it together and start dollopping it all over the place.

The kids love this. Smidge ate three, and even Jase enjoyed the fish *after* he'd eaten a few cookies. Good stuff, and a fun, easy meal.

Kiss those babies!

There Went That Week

I was going to upload photos from the camera, which I haven't done since March 7th, thinking there'd be some great stuff to post, just for fun, so I wouldn't have to think of anything to say. I've only taken 46 pictures since the last upload! That's my new, official litmus test of my own mental state of being. (Normal is 800.) Obviously, we're in desperate need of a (lil) sumfin around here!

So this is the week, as I'd have written it in a cute little diary with a pink heart and a lock that didn't work b/c I'd have lost the key and had to pry the stoopid thing open at one point:

Wed, we called in the pros. They took John and EmBaby. Strep. Shots. Oral antibiotics. John was a model patient. Emily decided to perform a spontaneous impression of a rampaging chimpanzee. It was a good impression. John asked if he could wait in another room, where it's quieter. I told him there was no way he was leaving me alone with her. He laughed, but I suspect he will exact revenge when I least expect it. Ice Cream for All.

Thursday, blessedly, the local pre-season tournament was cancelled. I saw my Doc in the morning, switched him out a box of rocks for a new Rx. Yay. Half of the kidney stone is still in there, intact, floating menacingly about like the Death Star. Go back in July and we'll do it, again.

That afternoon, the kids' doctor saw James, Smidge, and Jase. No Strep, but a lovely and diverse variety of other infections (sinus, upper respiratory, and ear). Shot, shot, shot. DANG. More antibiotic prescriptions. Lady at the pharmacy starting to eyeball the Suburban a bit... More Ice Cream.

Friday, New House Rule: nobody make eye contact, nobody touch an-Y-thing... Crap, Em's eye is red and swollen. Looks like she scratched it during the altercation, erm, I mean, doctor's visit. (I will pay for my own childhood through this animated Precious Moments child.) Call the doc again. He'll see her Saturday morning, when I bring James and Jase in for their *second* antibiotic shots. Yeah, I didn't mention that, on purpose, the first time. I'm still a little queasy.

Saturday, it is a testament to the wonderful nature of our children that we did not have to spend Saturday morning trudging through the woods, trying to find them. If I'd known I'd have to go back for another one of those long-needled, intra-muscular shots, my mother would've had to keep me on house arrest, with a shock collar, to keep me from running off. Our kids rock. And baffle me. But I am thankful for them.

By some miracle of prayer, or fear, or whatever it takes, EmBaby did not freak out at the doctor's this time. Maybe she thought if she held very still, they couldn't find her? I had a cat that lived by that principle, so it could be possible. Anyway, no shot for her (just the boys). It's a scratch on Em's eye. She got a prescription for eye drops. The pharmacy lady seemed to be writing down my license plate number today.

I'm thinking perhaps we'll use different pharmacies at some point. Maybe each child can have his own pharmacy?

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep up, but... I'm bad at this. The laundry, alone, is about to kill me. And let's not even talk about my new OCD issue: contaminated cups!
Isthatyours? Wherewasit? Justgetanewone. ACK!
The dishes! I am mentally repeating, "Do not crawl under the bed. Do not crawl under the bed." Not only will it not help me get this house back under control, I haven't vacuumed under there and that could cause further trauma.

But we're now two whole days, fever-free. Go us! (rolling eyes) I know. It's all I've got, though, for now.
Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 25

Crockpot Lasagna

A couple of you had asked for the recipe for the crockpot lasagna. I found it... um, somewhere. But the conversion for the crockpot was so simple, and the recipe itself a bit involved (for my taste) that I didn't bookmark it, so I can't give proper credit. (I will go look, though. Found it!! A Crock Cook.)

The recipe, itself, looked a bit too detailed (y'all know how I am about recipes), so basically, the only change you need to make is this: Just use the no-boil lasagna noodles.

Layer in the crockpot.

Cook on low, all day.

Enjoy when you get home!

The recipe online was for a meat lasagna, but we usually use my sister-in-law's super-easy spinach lasagna recipe.

Aunt Ka'berta's Spinach Lasagna
1 box frozen spinach (thawed, drained)
1 C. parmesan cheese
1 C. cottage cheese
1 C. mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
Seasoning to taste.

Mix the above ingredients together in a bowl.

Cook lasagna noodles. Crack open a jar of pasta sauce.

Layer, in a baking dish:
sauce, lasagna noodles, cheese mixture, sauce, etc.

Repeat until the dish is full, or you run out of ingredients. (About three full layers.) Sprinkle a bit more mozzarella on top, bake at 350' for approximately 45 min.

And there ya go!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, March 24

Quarantine, Day 3


Well, perhaps it's not what John had. We're all still feverish and peckish and ill... ish. If there's not significant improvement come morning, it'll be time to call in the pros. In the meantime, our self-imposed quarantine seems a better and better idea with each day that passes!

Jase turned one yesterday. He slept through most of it, and didn't seem to care that it was his birthday. So, we put off the cake and the presents until we can go out to buy presents, and make a cake without infusing it will Essence of Ick. Kinda figured that'll be appreciated, all the way around.

And so, to bed.
Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 23

I don't want what he had!

We have all fallen to whatever John had 10 days ago. Yuck. It sneaks up on you, if you're not paying attention (and really, we don't pay attention). For a day or two, you're just not firing on all cylinders. Then, *BAM*, you get a high fever that doesn't respond well to medicine. That takes you down for about about 24 hours, then you're left with a residual cough.

John still has the cough. Jase, Em, Jake and I have had the fever since yesterday. Blech. Zorak isn't sure if he's over the hump, or gearing up (he doesn't pay attention, either). James went down this afternoon.

The Cubmaster said he and his family had that same thing about three weeks ago. Looks like it's making the rounds! So we've quarantined ourselves for as long as there's a fever in the house. I hope we're fever-free in time for the Blue and Gold Banquet!

Meanwhile, the boys have fallen head-over-heels for Retro TV programming. John loves Magnum P.I. James adores Knight Rider, and feels quite firmly that Magnum's Ferrari has nothing on KITT.

Jake, Em, and Jase are just snugglers. Hot, sweaty snugglers. I'm so glad there are two parents, because when one of us is sick, too, it's SO nice to have someone else at least make sure nobody starves.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, March 19

And so it begins.

Tonight begins the pre-season tournament. I missed last year's, because I was in labor. As nice as it was to be home, alone, in the quiet house for four days, I'm kind of glad I'm not in the same situation again, this year.

We're going to attempt to put the house on auto-pilot today. Not sure how that's going to work out, as we haven't found the switch, yet. But it's *got* to be around here, somewhere. Right?

We'll try lasagna in the crockpot, since we'll be at the batting cages, then Smidge's practice, then the tournament, and won't be home until way awfully late. Of course, the kids will eat at the field, but somehow Snack Shack food doesn't register in the brain. I don't get it, but it's true. If we don't have food ready for them at home, they *will* be ravenous. (They'll be ravenous, anyway. It's just not as noticeable when they aren't draped over the breakfast bar, claiming they can feel their bodies turning in on themselves, eating their own muscle. Kids are weird like that.)

Maybe I should take burritos, too.

But for now, laundry. There is no auto-pilot for laundry. (Yet.)

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 18

Still Alive

Sorry for being so quiet. It's been busy here. And evidently the Percocet makes things interesting *only* in my head. But no words come out. Weird.

So, I leave you today with things the kids have come up with.

We don't put poop on crackers, okay?

(mmm, okay...)

I wouldn't want to be an Aztec OR a Conquistador because, well, because I'm a bit of a coward.


You know, I think maybe when I'm done with baseball, I'll take up fencing. They don't make you run in fencing.

(good point. that one is definitely mine.)

(after getting all of his Latin exercise correct on the first try)
*leans on my shoulder*
You don't have to drink because of me.

(not today, kiddo. not today)

Doesn't say much, really. He's got three and a half teeth. That fourth one won't come in. We imaging if he could talk, he'd cuzz like a sailor on shore leave. So, it's probably good that he's not talking much, yet.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 13

Friday Night Fun

Well, I offered to let Zorak pound on my kidney ("percussion therapy" - about as much fun as it sounds) while we watched a movie. Then I could fall asleep, he could finish watching it, and he could fill me in tomorrow on whether it was worth staying up for. He declined. Huh. Tell me the romance isn't dead. (I know. It's not always this bad, for either of us. Just been a long week.)

John's down with something viral. It hit him hard this morning, and he's been out of commission all day. James and I tore the kitchen apart, looking desperately for the Emergen-C, both of us wild-eyed and panicky. We. Cannot. Get. This. ACK!

On a side note -- It's kind of cool to have a child who is old enough to understand the fear, and to help, rather than just feel put out that his/her brother gets to have a drink. with a straw. in bed. Big Picture, here, guys - they do, eventually, get it.

We saw the doc this evening, and the doc said keep pushing liquids and rest. Not strep; nothing in the ears, sinus, chest, or throat; doesn't look flu-ish. Call tomorrow to touch base. If he's not better by Monday, we'll do a blood draw and figure out what's going on.

There are SO many things I love about the kids' doctor. His waiting room is a malarial hell, but he is worth the risk. He wants the parent to stay in the room. He stays open until late in the evening (doesn't open early - I'm guessing he is among us night owls, and how awesome that he can operate on hours that work for him, no? Hey, if he's a better doctor after eleven in the morning, I'm glad he knows his limits!) He's very thorough, but also fairly non-interventionist. He listens - not just to the patient and parent, but he listens to the child's body. It's wild to watch him work. Totally focused, listening, feeling, sorting. Skin tone, color, flush... sounds... just, it's hard to explain. The whole body comes into play when he's doing an exam. I get a kick out of him. And I trust him with my children.

So, no baseball clinic tonight. No Pinewood Derby tomorrow. John is disappointed, but true to his generous nature, all he's said was that he's sorry he won't be able to go. No fits. No drama. I owe God, big-time, for giving me this sweet, gracious, understanding child. (I was not such a good kid. This would have been a fit and a pity party of gigantic proportions, when I was eight. He must get it from Zorak.)

Come to think of it, I owe a big thanks for Zorak, too. He had chili ready when we got home. With homemade sopapillas, and lemonade.

And now, to bed. Or else they'll all be up at five and we'll be bleary-eyed and disoriented. That's never a good combination.

Kiss those babies!

And we're off!

I got something in the crockpot today!

Granted, it was just keilbasa and sauerkraut. And it only needed to warm up, not actually *cook*. But boy, did I feel like a Big People, dishing it up between practice and Scouts tonight.

We've been hit with a cold snap. Or more of just a super-chilly *period*. It's just chilly enough to make hot chocolate and games sound nice. Unfortunately, it's not cold enough to cancel activities, but too cold to be comfortable sitting on metal bleachers. Really. Metal? What's wrong with splinters? At least splinters don't get that cold.

This weekend will be wild, with practices and derby and church and cold and practices and... I'm not repeating myself. It's going to be that busy!

Meanwhile, EmBaby seems to have given up on the idea that she'll ever get an education if left to my plans, and she is forging on without us. She convinced the boys to change the audio on her favorite videos, and tonight she told me, "I'm learning French, Mom!"

It was probably a good call, on her part, to start teaching herself now. Poor James held out hope for *years* that I'd teach him French. All of my protestations about not *knowing* French, having never taken any French, and really not being all that interested in adding it to my To-Do list fell on his deaf, ever-hopeful little ears. Maybe EmBaby will teach him, once she gets the hang of it?

The fire is going, and the house is toasty. It's time to bank it up and head for bed. Busy day tomorrow!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 11

Are you ready for some baseball?

No? Check back in, um, early June, then. 'Cuz I just filled in the calendar, all color-coordinated so I can tell from across the room which child I need to harrass about finding his cleats and helmet. And it's lookin' like... I need to pick colors that go together a bit better.

Blue, gold, purple, and pink. The calendar is a bit jarring to the senses right now.

Or it could be what it all represents. I wonder if it's possible to develop Agoraphobia by being out of the house against one's will more often than usual?

Just wondering, is all. Really. I'll be fine.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 9

Goodbye Joe.

I'm back. (This is cross-posted from FB, so if it looks familiar, it's because I'm plagiarizing myself.)

I feel surprisingly good, although I have three little hickey marks on my "flank" (could they not come up w/ a Latin term for that???). It looks like I've been attacked by a three-fanged vampire. Or a toddler with a coffee stirrer/straw.

It wasn't bad. But I think they put in a trach tube, b/c I woke up w/ waxy stuff all over my face and my throat feels like I've had strep for a month. GAH. A little heads up on that would have been MUCH appreciated.

Didn't get to keep the panties on. Mildly mortifying. However, I was instantly distracted by the fact that they have heated hospital gowns now! How COOL is that? Do you have ANY idea how tempted I was to try to smuggle one out w/ me? Or how hard I'm trying to figure out if I can rig my hair dryer to do the same thing w/ one of those snuggie things? Man, that was nice. And they let me keep my wool socks on, so I didn't whine.

U-doc seems optimistic that they got it all broken down small enough to pass. It took some doing, though, and we were in there longer than anticipated. I think that's why there are three marks - they just kept moving and shooting. I wish I was awake for it, b/c a) I think that would've been fascinating, and b) I wonder if he acts like he's playing Astroids when he's doing it. (I probably would.)

I'm down a total of ten pounds, now. This is not the way to do this. And lemme tell you, having not eaten since Thursday evening, I am REALLY looking forward to supper!! (Less so, since my throat hurts, but like that's going to stop me.)

Got home to a trashed house, and as we all know, I just cannot relax in squalor. (Live in it? Sure. Relax in it? Nope.) So I sent the kids to play video games. Sent Zorak out to work on the balcony. And I cleaned. Ran the dishwasher, tidied the living room, took a Zofran (kind of like Phenergan, but a little stronger), did some laundry, cleaned the kitchen, swept the floor. Then I got the boys loaded for b-ball, took a pain killer (in the Percocet family, yay!), and sat my happy butt down here to play.

If the pain meds don't make me loopy, I'll go to the ball park here in a bit to relieve Zorak. (Jake has practice from 4-5, then batting practice from 5-6; John has practice from 5:30-7 - at some point, somebody's going to have to come home.)

As for what happens next, I'd just better not run out of pain meds before it's all said and done. Other than that, I'm just trying not to think about it. Or think about having to pee in a strainer. The boys thought it was hilarious when I pointed out that this thing had better not end up in the kitchen OR the sand box, thankyouverymuch.

Thank you for your humor, your thoughtful words, and your prayers.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 8

Behind The Scenes

Man, it's hard to make codeine interesting. Then, just as I was thinking there was nothing worth sharing at this point in the process, I got to pre-register over the phone. And BADABING, I hit the motherlode!

The absolute BEST piece of medical advice I have received thus far?

If you want any hope of being able to keep your panties on, make sure they are 100% cotton.

I gotta tell you, that's a heads-up worth getting, isn't it? If the gown and the fluorescent lighting isn't enough to come to terms with, just imagine getting hit with, "Oh, and we'll need you to remove your undergarments, please." Yeah, right before they knock you out. Fun!

Turns out, synthetics can cause a spark during the lithotripsy procedure, thus raising the potential for a fire in the lab. Really, I stopped listening at that point. Who needs more motivation to check the tags for that 100% cotton mark than the fear of having the fire department called in to douse your butt?

I also got the rest of the low-down on "Being Prepared". It looks *nothing* like the Boy Scout manual.

Shower and wash your hair the morning of your procedure, but don't use any hair product. No lotions, creams or salves. No makeup. No nail polish, jewelry, or accessories. I get most of the restrictions, but then it hit me - the real reason behind these guidelines.

Remember years back when there was a spate of doctors taking inappropriate advantage of patients who were under general anesthesia? Yep. This pretty much guarantees that you will look as unappealing as you. will. Ever. look. while you're under. Ain't nobody gonna wanna get near the damp, scaly, pale iguana dumped on that exam table!

And so, I'm off to divest myself of any remaining bling, and then to bed. Tomorrow we beat the tar out of "Joe". Yay!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 6

Medical Update

Not nearly as cute as the kids, sorry. I had an impacted wisdom tooth extracted this morning. For some heinous reason, the oral surgeon gave me codeine rather than one of the lovely -cet drugs (percocet, darvocet, you know, the Good Ones). I slept through that part, or I'd have asked him why. Anyway, I've fasted for testing four times in the last two weeks, have lost five pounds, and I am ravenous.

But now that I can eat, I can't keep anything down, not even the Phenergan. I swear, when this is all over, I am going to park my rear at Barnhills Fry-For-All Buffet and refuse to leave until they run out of food.

Had the follow-up for my C/T Scan on Thursday. In the sage words of the N-doc, "It is what it is."

Yep, it's a kidney stone. A huge, honkin', wedged-in-there-tightly stone. We discussed options: live with it, monitor it, and wait until it causes infections or blockages to do something *insert furrowed brow and tilted head, here*, OR (my favorite) see a Urologist about breaking it up to get it out.

Luckily, the Urologist (who we will call the U-doc) had an opening for 1:30 that same day. Yay. I met with him, and told him that while Joe is not a source of constant pain, I would rather evict him now than allow the little squatter to wreck my pad. So to speak. The actual wording was more along the lines of, "Are there any drawbacks to performing a lithotripsy at this stage?"

He said it's borderline for the lithotripsy to work (should have been referred to him sooner), and may actually take two procedures, but that would most definitely be his recommendation. As in, post-haste. As in, can you come to the surgery center Monday morning? We talked shop a bit. Made arrangements. Got a list of foods to avoid, and picked up the magnesium citrate for Sunday.

The irony of trying to remineralize my bone density after weaning, while fasting for tests, and avoiding all the foods that will remineralize bone density is not lost on me. It'll be funny later. Right now, not so much.

On the drive home, I was just so very thankful to be able to address this now, when *my* reason and logic have more bearing on my own medical decisions than those of a central board. An oversight committee would have looked at my doctor's report (nothing wrong here) and the radiologist's report (nothing wrong here) and determined that there was nothing wrong here and I was, quite simply, a troublemaker; appeal denied.

It's not fiscally plausible to cater to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who thinks the professionals are wrong. Two or three of those on file, and you're looking at a recommend for a psych eval. Dang. But that's where we'll be in a very short time, once we have Centralized Health Care put in place.

So, yeah, we're going to be in debt for another couple of years. But I'll be in debt with two good kidneys, at least. And a team of doctors who will listen to what I have to say and work with me, rather than focusing on how I saw the images, or where I got the idea that having something in my kidney is a bad thing.

I'm going to go see if I can slip another Phenergan down without my body noticing. And then, get some rest.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 2


We got snow!

Beautiful, cold, wet snow! There wasn't much, but that didn't stop the kids from enjoying it:

Snow angels:

Kind of...

Snow gnomes:

(You have to look close to find him...)

Even snow pellet fights. (No pictures of those -- we didn't want to risk getting hit.)

Walking in a winter wonderland. In March. Go figure.

But it was such a treat. The kids had given up on having any snow at all this year. They played until there was absolutely no snow left, at all. The snowman on the balcony melted enough to lean back and fall to an early, fairly warm demise.

And then, it was time to come in for hot chocolate.

Good stuff, and a truly delightful surprise!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 1

Derby Time!

The boys' Pack Derby was Saturday. They had a blast, and it wasn't painful for us big people. That's always a fun combination!

LB called dibs on Nanny Duty before we even left the house, so she spent most of the race with Jase - and his thumb - hanging out, talking with the other kids.

EmBaby's lil' pink pickup stood in as a filler car for the oddly numbered dens, so they'd have a car to race against. Hers wasn't designed for racing, and it's ridiculously light, but she didn't care. She loved seeing her car go down the tracks.

The boys in the Pack all joined in, rooting for "Baby Sister", which we thought was really sweet. (The Dads all loved the pickup, and later dug the change out of their pockets and loaded down the bed. They ran it after the race, in buddy races, just for fun.)

James took third in his Den. John took first in his Den. He also took second in the Pack. So, we're off to the District race in March for more Derby Fun.

I don't have too many pictures to share online, as most of the shots have other people's children in them, where their faces are identifiable, and I don't have permission to post them.

Kiss those babies!