Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Well, Max was not just a little sick. He was very sick. But he's better now.

I took him to his appointment on Monday to follow up on why he still had a high fever even though he'd been on antibiotics for his ear infection for four days. They did a little blood work and the doctor called me and said to tell me to go up to the ER at the other hospital since they're more equipped. Max's white blood cell count was through the roof. I packed us an overnight bag, had hubby rush home from the gym, and off we went.

Max's fever broke all on its own around 8pm, after we'd been at the ER for about an hour. He'd had some gastrointestinal distress and every time they pressed on his belly he screamed so they did a sonogram and found some fluid buildup around his appendix and it looked a little inflamed but wasn't giving off "heat" (as in, no extra blood flow). That night one of the surgical residents came through and Max was so tired he didn't scream when she touched his belly. The next morning the head pediatric surgeon came through (and he must be some sort of baby whisperer, because Max liked him immediately) and poked around his belly, and again no screaming. So, the screaming wasn't due to belly pain when they touched it but due to strangers touching his belly. Which is totally understandable. Fluid can apparently build up in the abdomen when there's an infection in the body, and it was just coincidence that it built up around his appendix. Thank goodness.

So, secondary infection is the official diagnosis (ear infection was the primary infection). He was dehydrated from the fever and lack of appetite (he didn't want to eat or drink for days, and trying to get him to do either was like pulling teeth) so they gave him an IV bag which did wonders. He fell asleep around midnight (during the sonogram) and hubby and I got to sleep around 4:15am. Of course nurses and residents were in and out constantly, so "sleep" is a relative term. Hubby was in the next room and I let him sleep so at least one of us would be functioning.

My mom came by the next morning to help us, which was a lifesaver. Max woke up in a fantastic mood, full of energy, he thought the crib was awesome (it has a plastic dome over the top so we called it a spaceship), he ate a late breakfast (and wanted to eat!) and played with noisy toys and yelled and acted like himself. He took a two hour nap on grammy's lap and they were able to examine him and remove the IV bag while he was asleep. After he woke up they declared him ready to go home and removed the IV tube. We got home around 4, just under 24 hours later.

Max had to go through every single toy and make sure they were all there. He was ecstatic to be home, that's for sure! Hubby and I were more subdued, but just as happy to be home with our little boy. Max is back at daycare for a short day today, I'm back at work for a short day, and his follow up at his doctor's is on Friday.

And let's hope that's the last of it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Crappy Day

Today is a crappy day for many reasons.

Overall: Bridges and roads are out, people are without power, emergency crews were evacuated from their own buildings, telephone and computer services are out (including to hospital and doctor facilities), death and injury.

Me: Max has been sick since Thursday, on antibiotics since Friday, and still isn't eating which is bad considering he's such a peanut and can't afford to lose weight. Apparently it wasn't just an ear infection. He's been in bed with us for the last 3-4 nights and having to sleep on ice packs to keep his fever down enough that he can sleep semi-comfortably. This morning he was in a somewhat ok mood considering, we all overslept, the button on my pants broke so I'm wearing the next thing on the shelf (which is not a flattering combo with the shirt), I'm PMSing and hurting, Max's doctor's has no phone so I had to take my lunch break at 11am to drive over and talk to them and they gave me the professional poker face and said to bring him back in this afternoon, I got a really irritating email from someone in another department that is second guessing my actions for me because apparently it's their business, and the photocopier is on the fritz the day that I need to make packets.

I know that it could be so much worse (see first paragraph). Our home could have flooded or blown away. Max could be ER worthy instead of just persistent fever and lack of appetite. But I'm having trouble focusing on the good today.

I Pledge That I Will Not:
Throw the photocopier out the window
Kill or maim anyone
Eat cookies or other baked goods to console myself (I am, however, having bread and chips with my lunch)
Have a complete meltdown at the doctor's office if she says that Max needs tests

Wish me luck.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Funny Photo Shoot

Piggybacking off of Max's photo shoot that I posted yesterday, check out this series of engagement photos. They're right in line with my sense of humor! (As an earthquake rocked us a few days ago, and now a hurricane, I'm prepping our emergency zombie kit)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Staycation Visit - A Photo Account

I didn't stay home the entire time I was on vacation. We drove a few hours and spent a long weekend visiting family and friends. On the way there the drive was great - we left Friday after work and Max slept most of the time.

The way back was not so easy. Max was awake and bored through most of it. I packed a goodie bag of toys and snacks to try and keep him entertained...

Hour 1.5: Woke up from nap
Hour 2: Still in a good mood after nap
Hour 2: Silly mommy, taking my picture
Hour 2.5: Entertained by the toy bag
Hour 2.5: Hey, a hammer!
Hour 3: Somehow mommy's sunglasses ended up in the toy bag...
Hour 3.5: Max is unimpressed and wants out NOW, even mommy's sunglasses don't help
Hour 3.5: Meltdown in full swing, and Max is unimpressed by mommy taking his picture so he's going to put on her sunglasses and ignore her while he continues to complain

Thankfully he fell back asleep right before hour 4 and slept the rest of the way home (just one more hour).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Massive Zucchini

My C'est la Vie Garden is producing bumper crops of beans. Apparently beans like neglect and poor soil. I didn't get any preservation done on my staycation, but I did do several bean harvests. A couple zucchini plants survived as well - and produced three massive fruits (yes, I know only two are pictured, but the third was just as big). Look at those beasts, they're huge! I put a 6"ish long green bean on top and put my hand next to one for perspective. I gave both away, one to a coworker who likes to grill veggies. I told him that he could just eat zucchini burgers since the slices would be just as big as a burger. He thought I was kidding until I brought it in. Now he's really impressed and asking me questions about how to garden. I thought about being all, "Oh, well, it's very difficult and you need to do a lot to make a zucchini that big," but I wouldn't have been able to keep a straight face. So I told him that if he can keep the zucchini plant alive (which is pretty easy) then the fruit will keep growing, and growing, and growing... until it is picked or rots on the vine.

Unfortunately, my zucchini plants are dying off. I'm not sure if it's because they've hit the end of their season, or if they ran out of nutrients in the soil. I'm guessing it has more to do with the nutrients since each plant only produced one large fruit before kicking the bucket and zucchini are usually much more prolific than that. I've heard rumors that some people will leave zucchini in unlocked cars and on front porches. If you're local to me and want to leave produce in my car or on my porch, feel free. I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Staycation Day 1

After we got back from our long weekend visiting friends and family, did I take a nap? Did I even bother to make myself breakfast? No. Well, I made myself coffee and grabbed a yogurt.

Then I tackled this:

No, we never had a fireplace, real or otherwise, in the living room. We had a giant TV. I will spare you the sight of said giant TV. It came with the house, I think the previous owners were too intimidated by not only the thought of trying to get the giant TV out, but also what the heck to do with the built in surround. And the triangle of blue carpet that was not replaced with the brown carpet the last time they redid the floors. Yes, they carpeted around the giant TV.

When the giant TV broke I thought hubby was going to start crying. Video games on a 60+ inch screen are that much more awesome, I will admit. We've been using our 29 inch "spare" TV (which used to be our main one). To give you an idea of scale, the TV in the photos is sitting on a 20 gallon tote bin. Even more perspective - I'm 5'1" and I barely had to duck to walk inside the giant TV hole.

First things first: remove the mantle. It was only held on by an L bracket and two screws. That's pretty unusual for the homeowner that built all the stuff in the house, he generally built like there will be a herd of elephants tap dancing on everything.

That was the easy part. Then I had to determine how it was put together so I could disassemble. It was hard to determine the best method....

Then I got out the hammer and started waling on it. What I wanted to do was start with the upper compartment where the DVD and game consoles lived. But that was too hard and required using the drill instead of hitting it with a hammer. The bottom part showed much more favorable results with the hammering. And I found two outlets that had been covered up by the built in. Not unsafely covered up, just rendered useless since they were hidden behind the giant TV.

A little more than one hour into the demo and I had the above. It looks so easy in photos.

On to the upper compartment...

Easy peasy, right? (um, yeah, not so much...) This is when I started running into the 3" screws. <le sigh> And, rather than taking down the crown molding he covered it up - after cutting out a 1" piece so he could make the built in flush to the wall. And he damaged the molding in the process. So, I had to toss it.

About two hours total, and I ended up with this:

Nice, right? The table has a shelf that all of the consoles sit on, neatly covered by the old sheet tablecloth. And the room has opened up so much! Even though the table takes up about as much floor space, it leaves the upper half of the wall open and is so much less imposing visually.

And, is it just me, or do the ceilings look taller?

Directly after this project I decided to vacuum the carped stairs with the hand brush since I had the vacuum out anyhow. Glutton for punishment, I am.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Staycation's Over

I'm BACK! Not that I ever left since I spent my vacation at home...

Once I get my photos downloaded and spiffied up I'll be posting about what I did on my staycation (how's that for a buzzword). A sneak peek:

  • I read. One and a half books if I remember right.
  • I demo-ed.
  • I had an early dinner out with hubby before we picked up Max from daycare.
  • I did not do a thing in the yard except mow the lawn once and pick a few veggies. The weather and scheduling my dad and his tractor just didn't synch up.
  • I had a date day with my dad where we killed some yellow jackets (wasps), went to the transfer station, had lunch at McDonald's, and visited an open house at a college research orchard/vineyard/garden. We're exciting like that.
  • I found out where the transfer station is, and got rid of a pickup truck worth of construction trash.
  • I did some sewing.
  • I visited with friends and family and got to meet my cousin's baby for the first time! He's a cutie - and we managed to get photos of all 4 of the great-grandkids in attendance. No crying, hitting, hair pulling... and they even smiled!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vacation... Finally!

I'm going on vacation next week! Woo! I've been cracking down at my new job to learn the ropes and get as much done as I can so that I can enjoy my week off without thinking about work. Because that's lame.

What am I doing on my vacation, you ask? (or maybe you don't, but I'll pretend you did)

I'm hanging out at home and bringing Max to daycare. It's going to be EPIC. I have a few landscape projects I'm tossing around in the back of my head, a few books on my side table, some visits with family (Max will go visiting too), but mostly just being kid and hubby free for a week (during the days at least) while I do whatever the heck I want to. I might get a little wild and do something crazy like drinking milk straight out of the container. You never know.

I doubt I'll be in blog-land much next week since writing a blog can seem like working, but I'll "see" you when I get back!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gardening Via the Grocery Store

  • separate out a garlic bulb into cloves and plant them
  • use the tops of the green onions/shallots/leeks/etc, leaving 3-4" of the bottom, and plant the bottoms
  • basil readily roots from cuttings (aka the fresh herb packs), and a lot of other herbs will too
  • plant pepper seeds, this works best if you buy a yellow, orange or red pepper - green peppers are under-ripe and the seeds are less viable 
  • you can also plant seeds from tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, eggplant... and other things with seeds
    you will get a better result if you use seeds from heirloom/non-hybrid veggies as some hybrid seeds won't fruit at all while others will give you a different fruit than the parent
  • if your onions or potatoes bolt in the cupboard you can plant them
Other ideas?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tips from Models

I don’t look like a model. I don’t have a desire to look like a model. I look like a mommy and am proud of it. But it doesn’t hurt to implement a few handy tips from the pros. When I briefly worked with models here are the tips that I picked up that stuck with me:

Drink through a straw: it keeps your teeth whiter longer and helps keep your tooth enamel from eroding

Stretch your Achilles tendon: whether you’re wearing heels or not, flex your foot and stretch out that tendon several times a day to help prevent leg and foot aches

Wear a well-fitting bra: it makes you look bigger in the right places, slimmer in the right places, and most importantly your back won’t hurt as much

Sunscreen is your friend. Period.

Use a gentle cleanser and moisturize a lot: it does wonders for your skin. Personally, I like the oil cleansing method which cleanses and moisturizes at once.

Models get zits too: they probably get more zits than the rest of us since they have to put their skin through so much abuse for their job.

You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. When you see a model in a photo, remember that they have had professional help making them look perfect, both in person and digitally. When they walk in the studio they arrive with unstyled hair and a clean, makeup free face. They do not look perfect. They almost look like a normal person (except for the whole tall, thin, and good bone structure thing).

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Top 10 Favorite Things (To Eat)

chicken and pineapple pizza
I'm back in that, "I don't feel like cooking so we're having cereal for dinner," mode. Ugh. When I get in that rut, I try to inspire myself back into cooking by thinking of all the foods I love. Or I guilt myself into making something by thinking of all the things that hubby loves (pizza, chicken, steak, box macaroni and cheese... that covers it). I grilled steaks the other night ($2.49/lb on sale, a little marinade and you'd never know it was an "inferior" cut!) which doesn't take a long time and tastes fantastic.

My tastes tend to run toward comfort food, so I try to be good and only indulge once in a while - like when trying to get myself out of that no-cooking rut.

Now, not all of these are DIY friendly – I’ve yet to attempt a dolma or make decent pork fried rice – but if you’re talented like that, good for you! So in no particular order:

Pork fried rice
Bacon – from a local smokehouse/butcher
Almond or amaretto flavored just-about-anything
Homemade relish on a hamburger – MY homemade relish!
Egg salad – hard boiled eggs and Miracle Whip, that’s it
Loaded mashed potatoes – Idahoan instant got me through my pregnancy
Pizza (I think I've mastered the homemade crust!)

What are your favorite things to eat? Maybe we can inspire each other for dinner this week!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Friday Link Roundup: Places I've Been...

I don't know if it's my mood this week that I don't find much interesting and worth sharing, or that I just didn't click on the right sites. Either way, I only have a few links to share:

They make paper out of animal poop. Yes, you heard me right.

Huh. It's a plant stand that moves to keep it in the sun. I wonder what type of epic battle would ensue between this plant stand and my cat as they both compete for the sunny spots on the carpet...

I got two MASSIVE zucchini out of my C'est La Vie garden on Wednesday, and there are more on the way. Wouldn't it be nice if we could tell the zucchini plants to only produce one fruit per week? Anyhow, I plan on using some of that zucchini to make these pickles:

Once Max gets a little older I'm going to have to try this lego table hack:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Frugal Luxuries: NOT Using Your Home Printer

my bookmarks

If you use your printer a lot, this post isn’t for you. If you’re like me, however, and print out maybe a dozen pages a month and seldom in color, read on my friend.

I have a printer/scanner/copier at home. At least that’s what it technically is. What it really is: a paperweight/scanner/something-to-stack-filing-on dust catcher. I mostly keep it for its scanning purposes, which it does come in handy those couple of times a year when I want something scanned. We used to print stuff out when we first got it, but then we slowly stopped using it to the point that both ink cartridges have dried up beyond resurrection.

I have several alternatives that I generally turn to when I want a hard copy of something from the computer:

1.       Use a pen and scrap paper
2.       Print it at work (don’t freak out, I’ll explain)
3.       Bookmark it instead of printing it
4.       Bring it to a printer

Pen and (scrap) paper: It’s tried and true, and doesn’t cost me anything as I generally use the back of an envelope or some other scrap paper that was mailed to me. If I run low on scrap paper I’ll often bring home paper from work (that don’t have confidential information of course) that would otherwise end up in the recycle bin. Outdated letterhead is great for this.

Print it at work: Ok, I know what you’re thinking – that’s mooching off the company. Well, yeah, technically. But in all dear honesty, my office doesn’t care (heck, they all do it too). If I tried to print a novel I’d probably get in trouble, but a few pages a month is no sweat off their back. If you think your office might care, offer to pay the two cents or so per copy that it costs them. The office manager can have a penny jar sitting on their desk, and you can drop in pennies when you make your printouts.

Bookmarks: Bookmarks (as in saving a webpage under your Internet Favorites) is a great way to save information for future use. I have mine set up with a bunch of folders for ease of use. For example:

dailies – has my list of blogs that I check out regularly (daily refers to how often they post, not how often I check – I wish I could check them out daily!)
cooking – recipes, cooking tips, canning/preserving, etc
gardening – seed catalogs, gardening tips, gardens that inspire me
ideas – the crafts and ideas that I want to do someday, you know, when I have time (hahahahaha! time!)
random tidbits – the articles and webpages that don’t fit the other categories (most of those links at the bottom of the list will end up there)
reading – author websites, articles on getting published, library links

Pinterest: Like the bookmark idea, Pinterest lets you save pictures for future reference in an easily accessible format.

Bring it to a printer: I used to try and print out things like business cards and photos on my home printer. You know what? They never came out like I wanted them to. And for the price that I paid for the ink and paper, as well as the time spent fighting with the danged thing – I’d just assume bring it to someone else. Photos I print at the drug store kiosk. Business cards, brochures and larger items that I want printed in color I bring to a printer. When I put together my son’s birth announcement, I put four photos on an 8 ½ x 11 document and had them print out a bunch of copies on glossy paper – instant custom sized photos. I use a local place since it’s all of a mile away from me, but in the past I’ve gone to the big box stores and had great luck there too.

How often do you print? Is it worth it to you to keep a working printer at home? Do you have any other tips on how to save on printouts?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Guess who has a surprise for you?

Can you guess? Ok, it's Max. But can you guess the surprise?

Here's another hint:

It has nothing to do with the remote or the messy living room.

Give up?


My little baby, that I swear was just born the other day, is walking.

We're so proud - and he's the proudest of all!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Front Yard

I gave you a brief glimpse of my front yard on a Friday Link Roundup. It was a little barren... which isn't hard since I have no front yard. I have a patio, a 4-6" wide strip of dirt, then the sidewalk, then the road.

Want to see how it looks now?

Not too shabby, eh?

(It looks better in person)

I planted the barren strip with veggies and flowers, and put out potted plants.

The pots are combinations of veggies, herbs, and perennials. The perennials will go in the flower bed this fall, but in the meantime they're prettying up the pots.

Currant tomato, shasta daisy, blue delphinium, casper eggplant, and sweet basil.

 Tickseed and alyssum (an annual, but it's pretty and smells nice).

A little mystery tomato.

And, finally, my favorite vignette:

Top: Casper eggplants, sweet peppers, balloon flowers.
Middle: Sweet basil and casper eggplants
Bottom: Sweet peppers (pail) and parsley

The yellow shelf and the pail were both left in the basement and crawl spaces by a previous owner. I really love the shelf, it gives a great pop of color to the front, is shallow so you don't smack your elbow on it, and is very handy for holding plants!

Monday, August 1, 2011

C'est La Vie Garden Update

Nice, huh?

Yeah, that's not my plot.

This one's mine:

Sad, I know. The greenest things in there are the weeds growing in the trenches.

I planted packets and packets of seeds (over 20 packets), and got nada. These pics are from a few weeks ago, but there hasn't been much change, so I haven't bothered to take new ones. The lettuce that came up is still 2-3 inches tall. The only things that have thrived are the beans.

beans, corn, and mystery squash

You know, the three little spots of beans. <sigh>

So... I took everything that was growing and consolidated to the edges. Then I rototilled the center and re-seeded with lettuce, beans, bok choi, chard, spinach - you know, short term cooler weather stuff. So far, beans love it.

A few potatoes came up, and the basil is doing ok.

potatoes and basil
I transplanted a few dozen tomato plants that haven't even bothered to flower.

it's so depressing even the kid cried
You know what's sad? Even the weeds don't want to grow. Though that makes weeding pretty simple. The weeds tend to stay in the trenches I dug (along the right of the above photo).

This last week I went out to pick some green beans (yellow and purple are on their way) and there was another lady there watering her garden, which was actually growing. We chatted and I found out that my plot is typical. The soil is crap, so the only way to grow something besides green beans (which love neglect and poor soil) is to amend it with lots and lots of compost. She's had her plot for three years, and she said the first year was so frustrating she actually cried. The second year she gave up halfway through. This is the first year she's had enough compost that something's grown.

That made me feel better. I haven't cried and I haven't given up, so I'm not doing too shabby after all.

I'm on the fence about keeping the plot next year. I do enjoy beans, so I could just fill the plot with pole beans, string beans, and 'dry' beans, as well as a few potatoes if they don't drown again (normally potatoes also like the clay soil). If I want to grow anything else, I can plant it in a shovel-full of compost or put it in my home plot. But, it's a lot of extra work for beans.

We'll see.

How's your garden growing?

(BTW, my home plot looks awesome, I'll share pics of that later)