Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Big Game!

Well, Nathan's stuff wasn't the only thing that happened this week. Oren had his first soccer game ever! I took some video, but it was too long to post, and I missed the funny part when Oren and another girl collided. She stayed down and cried so they paused the game. Oren wasn't paying attention and ran the ball the rest of the way down the field before they could stop him. That was a lot of laughs! :-)

I did take a break long enough yesterday to put together a slide of the best pictures, and found a sound clip to put it to. The music is actually from a piece that Mark and I played with the Symphonic Band in college, our big end-of-the-year concert that was recorded and made into a cd. Cool, huh? Who knew it would have the perfect little clip, for a soccer game 7 years later!

I played this for Oren, and he was so excited to see something put together, just for him. Nathan was tired, and William had just woken up from a nap, so Daddy and I were the ones doing all the cheering. And maybe we'll bring seats next time.... But hey, this is our first sports game for one of our kids! What fun!

Friday, September 26, 2008

With a little faith...

... big things happen!

When I was younger and I had a question, like "how do you spell...?" or "what does... mean?", Mom would lovingly tell me "Look it up!" This has always seemed to me a good philosophy to follow. If you don't know something, or need more information, look it up! Do your research! Ask whatever questions you need to. That way you always have enough info to get the job done.

I know this is the third day I have posted about this, but it's such a huge event for us right now. I could easily have gotten completely overwhelmed and majorly stressed about all the work involved, the little details, the big financial details. But because I am on the medication that I am, I have been able to learn how to take a deep breath and trust that things will work out. Everytime I do, it does! It may not work out how I think it will, but in the end, things end up flowing together in such a way that it works.

I did it the same way this time. I just took a big, deep breath. I called Tricare, and asked 50 billion questions of 2 different departments, until I was sure that I knew what was going on, how all the red tape would work, how the money would work. Who would have to put in what referrals... All that. And it is a good thing that I knew exactly what was going on.

Because today, I got a hold of the insurance and billing department of Dr. Beck's office. She had no idea what I was talking about and kept repeating the same stuff over and over, didn't listen to the question I had, assumed I was an idiot who didn't understand what she was saying.... So she gave me the name of the lady back there who deals with all the Tricare cases. Thank you! I left a message for her and she called me back within 2 hours. She knew what she was talking about, she treated me like an intelligent human being, she answered my questions clearly and consisely, until I knew how they billed what and why. Turns out that the 15% we pay is 15% of what Tricare pays. They pay $100 out of $145, we pay 15% of the $100. So the $70 was the money that Tricare would have paid plus what we were supposed to pay. We still overpayed, but we will get reimbursed for the full amount.

Then, we discussed how to go about seeing Dr. Lassaso, for the videoflouroscopy Dr. Beck wants. I let her know what Tricare's red tape is about that, since we weren't sure if she was a Tricare provider. I also had the names of all the Speech Pathologists withing 100 miles that were, so she could check if any of them could do it. And their numbers. :-) See, I did my checking, Mom. I looked it up! :-)

I had called our pediactric nurse yesterday and left a message about the Lassaso thing, and he called back this afternoon. He was kind enough to pull up their database, and it turns out that she is indeed a Tricare provider, and a referral won't be a problem! She works in the St. Lukes hospital and everything, we won't have to worry about paying her anything. Dr. Beck just has to put in the referral request for Dr. Lassaso, and get approval. That will take a couple of days. We already have an appointment set up for Oct. 7th with her, we just need that authorization number and we should have plenty of time!

All this because I had faith that if I just did all that I could, did all the work that I could do, and was fully informed, the Lord would take care of the rest. People have called back quickly, and have been very willing to help me. My questions have all been answered, and all my concerns have been taken care of. I know most of what to expect. And even the financial has worked itself out! I can arrange with Dr. Beck's office to hold off payment until I get the check from Tricare, and then send them the money.

We will just have a percentage of her fee for the surgery, a deposit, to pay. Still a hefty chunk of change, between 40-60%, but that should be a percent of what Tricare would pay. That, we will get reimbursed for. I can do that!

Thank you for all your love and thoughts and prayers! I have really felt more peaceful about all of this, and I know that we are being taken care of and blessed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I needed to clarify some things about Nathan's care today with the insurance company. So I called Tricare to double check on referrals, authorizations, claims, reimbursments.... all that jazz. I found out that Dr. Beck can charge us the 15% of her fee. That's allowed. But because she is the only one in the area that can treat Nathan, which is why Tricare approved her, Tricare pays the 15%. If we have to pay it up front, they will reimburse us. If we can wait, then they send us the check and we pay that to the doctor. Either way, becuase they approved her, there should be no out of pocket expenses.

Big sigh of relief.......

But we may not be able to see the doctor that Dr. Beck wants to do a special scope. She isn't a Tricare provider. We can only see her if there is no network providers in the area that can do it. Then it's the same referral procedure as Dr. Beck was, same payment stuff, all that. And I did check if the hospital was Tricare okay, and they are. So we won't have to worry about that.

Bottom line is that this stuff is medically necessary, so Tricare will pay for it, we just may have to go through lots of loopholes, red tape, and phone calls. But I have faith that the Lord will help us get it all done. I just need to have patience, and not stress out about everything that needs done. Just one day at a time. Do all that is in my power to make this work, and the Lord will do the rest...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A bunch of big words, again...

Okay, I am still here. Was today really only Wednesday? Holy cow...

Monday, I received an emergency call from my friend Amanda (whose husband is currently deployed...) regarding the massive amount of silly putty currently residing in her daughter's hair. So after I dropped Oren off at school, I then spent a good hour and some massaging mayonnaise into the hair and silly putty, and combing this dissolved putty out. Then she got a trim because the dry hair at the end broke off and it needed straightening. I did such a good job that I ended up getting to do Amanda's and her other daughter's hair! And I helped clean up a bit too, so that was a busy day. Soccer that night, and really wanting Pizza Hut but not getting it. Went to bed exhausted.

Tuesday, Nathan had therapy. Worked on the house while William had a nap, I sorely needed the quiet time. Just to take a breath. Still, somehow, went to bed exhausted.

Today, we went to see an ENT in Boise. She is about the only pediactric ENT on this side of Idaho, who only deals with children. And she is amazing! She only accepts handful of tricare patients a year, and we do have to pay some out of pocket to see her, about 15% of the total bill. But it is very worth it. The last guy we saw took a look, and shrugged. Literally. He had no idea, had never seen anything like it before, blah blah blah.

Dr. Beck did the exact same scope, had him say some words, and was in and out in about 2 minutes. Done. Not only that, she knows what the problem is! Not the full extent of how bad it is, but she does know what is causing his difficulties talking. Are you ready for some medical jargon? Here goes...

He has a submucous pharyngeal cleft of the palate and velopharyngeal insufficiency. Say that 5 times fast? In English: the muscles above the soft palate (the squishy roof of your mouth) are not formed right. In Nathan's case, they are pointed in the wrong direction. His are aligned front to back, or longways. They are supposed to be side to side, across the palate. So his palate gets shorter when the muscles contract, instead of longer. Not good. Also, the valve-y thing that closes when you say "p" or "b", and stays open for nasal "n" and "m", stays open all the time in his mouth. It can't close.

So, it may not seem good to you, but to us, it is an answer. I was almost in tears in the exam room, because somebody knew what the problem was, and told us how we could fix it. One of the hardest things about this was not knowing why he couldn't do it. And now I know why we had so much trouble nursing and other things. It wasn't my fault. There was nothing I could have done different. How could they possibly have diagnosed this on a baby? Every symptom could have been something else, like choking instead of nursing... too strong of a letdown.... that kind of thing. But now we can move on, and help him.

The next step is to go see another lady for a videoflouroscopy. A special fiber optics tube, inserted into his nose, that will allow us to see more closely what the muscle is doing, or not doing. We need to determine which surgery to do first, and that means knowing which condition is worse off.

Yes, he will need surgery. If they fix the pharyngeal thingy first, it means cutting flaps around the valve and stitching them in place to create a smaller space. So that it might close. There is a possibility that by doing that the muscles may be able to close the hole better and allow him more air pressure and get his sounds out right.

But if it doesn't work all the way, or if they decide to fix the muscles first, that surgery involves rotating the muscles to align the other way. I didn't even know that was possible!

No matter which way they go, he may end up having too surgeries, about 4 months apart. Both require complete anesthesia, an overnight stay with a parent in the hospital, liquids or very soft foods, lots of pain pills, and follow up appointments. The hospital where the surgeries would take place accepts Tricare, which means that we won't have to pay much if anything other than the percent of the doctor's actual fee. The room and all that shouldn't come out of our pocket. But a surgery like that, so involved, is going to be a serious chunk of change! His scope alone today was $285, plus the office visit was $115, so I forked out $70. Just today! No more Oreo's for me, I guess. Tighten the belt! Ouch!

But giving him the chance of normal speech is sooo worth it. If this is what the Lord needs him and us to go through, than we will. I don't know all that we will be required to do, but I do know that He has blessed us so much, in putting the right people in front of us, and giving us knowledge and resources. He softened the doctor's heart, so that she would agree to take Nathan. He gave Nathan such a wonderful little spirit, so calm and easy, and able to bounce back quickly. Not much fazes him and he loves his therapy. He gave me wonderful friends who are more than willing to watch kids for appointments and listen to all the medical stuff I have researched. And He has blessed Mark with superiors willing to let him have the time he needs when it is important to me for him to be there.

So I don't mind that this will be more appointments, and lots of money, and no small amount of stress either, because Nathan needs it, and the Lord has things that we need to learn and take away from this. I know He will help us through it, and I know that He loves our family. He knows my concerns, and understands my worries. And I am so thankful for the blessings we recieved today. You cannot put a price on recieving much needed answers, the results of faith and prayer. You can't put a price on a son's chance to speak and be understood.

Whatever it takes, Nathan, whatever it takes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fun New Tag!

Actually, my sister-in-law sent me this as an email, but it has been a while since we passed around a tag!

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? No, although there are about 10 million other Michelle's out there.


3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Sometimes, it depends on if I am writing in a hurry or not.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Oven roasted turkey

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? 3 sweet little boys!


7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Sometimes, more often after I watch Friends.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes, but my Mom doesn't!

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Probably not, I have a hard time with loopy roller coasters... I've heard it's a blast and I know it is safe, but I don't know if I could do it!

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Peanut Butter Captain Crunch!

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? No, but I may retie them when I put them on if they don't feel comfortable.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Their smile, and posture... kind of how they present themselves and their confidence and genuality.

15. RED OR PINK? Deep, rusty red. Not bright christmas red...

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My apperant inability to lose weight and keep it off.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST ? Actually, I am surrounded by all the people I love, family close by and my best friend other than my sisters is 3 doors down. I am really lucky to be living here, and I want to stay for a good long time!

18. FRUITS OR VEGETABLES? Fruits, unless ranch dressing is involved.

19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? None, right now. But I was wearing brown sandals earlier.

20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A mint chocolate ice cream bar

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The menu music for Little Einsteins huge Adventure, I haven't taken it out yet. And the kids playing in the backyard with friends.

22. IF YOU WHERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Olive green. No, navy blue. No, burnt orange? Is it a box of 24 or 150?

Rich, caramel. Or lemongrass.

24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My friend Amanda. Then she hung up rather abruptly when I told her she could come help me eat breakfast burritos. :-)

25. WERE YOU A BAND GEEK, A DRAMA NERD, OR A SPORTS BUFF IN SCHOOL? Uh, band geek and PROUD OF IT! Although I did do drama and volleyball.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? I don't really like to watch sports. Unless motorcross is a sport?

27. HAIR COLOR? Auburn, but starting to go more brown with each child. Bummer.

28. EYE COLOR? Blue that can go green with some colors and moods, and grey with others.

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Yes, but I have an awesome pair of glasses that are brown woodish pattern on the outside, and silver/black tiger stripes on the inside...

30. FAVORITE FOOD? Garlic chicken alfredo!

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings. Mark does the scary movies and I have to sit through them, so then I get to pick the girliest happy movie possible the next time. :-)

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? I attempted to sit through National Lampoons something or other, but the last full movie was Riverdance Live in New York, with Colin Dunne instead of Micheal Flatley. (Hey Steph, remember the lightning one with a the guys in the leather pants...?)

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Navy blue. I was wearing a olive green sweater but then I played volleyball for 1 1/2 hours at the church picnic today and had to change.

34. SUMMER OR WINTER? Why is fall not an option? Winter. Hot cocoa, fuzzy things, warm sheets.

35. HUGS OR KISSES? Big squishy, arms wrapped tight, hugs. From my kids and hubby. And siblings/parents.

36. FAVORITE DESSERT? Pumpkin pie, homemade.

37. BURGER KING OR MCDONALDS? Tough one. I like Mcdonald's chicken nuggets better, but Burger King has the Whopper JR...

38. DO YOU FOLLOW A LIST WHEN YOU SHOP OR DO YOU GO UP AND DOWN ALL THE AISLES? Actually, I do both. I always forget something on the list, so I hit all the aisles. I buy more that way, but oh well.

39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Bertrice Small- Hellion

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? My mouse! :-) It's one of those fancy gel-wrist-pad ones. Very comfortable actually, and it really does help my wrists. The keyboard one doesn't.

41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? I didn't. We had a nice, quiet evening since the boys were in bed by 8:15. He played on the computer and I read.

42. FAVORITE SOUND? Nothing. Peace and quiet. (but only if I know the boys are asleep or at school, otherwise I get worried.)

43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Probably neither. I am more into country.

44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME??? England. Or Japan. I think England is technically farther, but they speak English, so Japan is more strange.


46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Boise, Idaho

Let's see... since this wasn't technically a tag, I get to make up the rules. Tag 2 people and leave them a comment letting them know. That should do it!

I think I will tag Stephanie, and Callista!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My 301st Post!

I didn't look until after I had posted that my "Gunfighter" post was #300. So I'll celebrate this one instead!

A big, huge thank you to Rachel, who happened to be on MSN messenger at the same time I was on the computer. I didn't even know that I was logged into it until she sent me a little chat message-y thing! We got talking and I asked her where they were living now, and she sent me to her blog to find out. I am sure Mark occasionally wishes that little conversation never happened, because I am totally addicted!

I so much enjoy getting to know all of you, since we have always lived so far away. I knew you all before, but I feel so much closer now. When I got to hold Lizzie at the reunion, I wasn't meeting her for the first time, just getting to hold a cutie that I already knew! And I could chuckle over Maddie's haircut, because I had an idea of her little personality. The reunion was a blast!

It seems incredible that I have posted 300 times now. 300 stories of our life. And I look forward to many more!

Like this one: William is too funny. He is at that stage where he is starting to fight his naps. Not every day, but some afternoons he just really doesn't feel like sleeping. We kind of have quiet time in his room anyway, so he can relax and so can I. Yesterday he didn't fall asleep. He figured it would be funner to play instead. So he spent an hour and a half playing quietly in his room. No biggie.

But about 5:30, after 20 straight minutes of screaming at the top of his lungs, Mark finally gave him his pacifier and threw a blanket at him. He quit and I went back to dishes. Mark turned around to look for Oren's shoes and when he looked back at William, this is what he saw!

My kids can sleep anywhere and through anything! And yes, he always sleeps with a blanket over his head. Nathan did the same thing, but he's grown out of it now.

I carefully moved him to his bed and figured he would wake up in an hour or so. Nope! I guess his body needed it because he didn't wake up until 6:45 this morning! Let's just say that he ate a pretty big breakfast.

He must have grown overnight too, because his PJ's looked a little shorter tonight, and he just looked a little more boy than he did this weekend. Someone told me that most of our growing is done at night, when our bodies are at rest. Makes sense to me, and I believe it!

By the way, he spent most of the day walking around with the overalls unsnapped. These big overalls, and thoses skinny little legs... :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gunfighter Skies 2008

Okay, we are really bad. But, could you pass up on the opportunity to see the Thunderbirds? Live? Right in front of you and flying above your head?

Yeah, we couldn't either. And the day they were performing was today. But we did go all together as a family, we didn't purchase anything, and we didn't go crazy and run all over the place.

But I did take a lot of pictures! Over 150. I won't share them all here, but I have posted the best ones. I know it's a lot of photos but since you guys couldn't see it in person, I wanted to show you the highlights.

The first act we saw when we got there. This guy built his plane on his own time, with his own money. This was him flying upside down, in the middle of a roll.

William napped through the first half hour or so of the show. Even through the really loud jet engines. I don't know how my kids do that...

This jet smiled for it's photo. Notice the bottom of the nose. This is a Navy jet. The long stick thing on the back end is a hook. When a plane lands on the aircraft carrier, that hook catches on to the drag line that runs across the deck. This pulls on the huge counterweight on the side of the ship and basically brakes the jet. The runway on the ships is too short for a regular landing. They also have a shorter length to build up speed for takeoff, so they can gear up speed a lot faster too.

The inside of a cargo plane. A plane this size can fit a couple Humvees, or carry a few tons of supplies for an aerial drop. This is from the back, there is a ramp to allow vehicles and forklifts to enter the rear of the plane.

Here we have the Navy jet on the right, and on the left, and F-16. That was Mark's guess. I'll take his word for it. It's an Air force fighter jet. In the middle is one of the World War II fighter planes. A really neat, generational flyby.

The parachuters were really neat. They dropped into free fall around 2 miles above the ground. This guy deployed his parachute after a 200 mph dive in free fall. He clocked in at 220 mph yesterday. Then they slow down with the chute for a few hundred feet. They have to do some check maneuvers to make sure that they're chute will respond to the ropes, so they can land on target.

The cargo plane back on the ground after all the jumpers deployed.

They had tanks and other ground vehicles set up on the strip for kids to climb through. They entered in the entrance, at the rear, and emerged near the gunnery. Oren thought it was really neat.

Nathan did not. He was really scared and the guy had to coax him to come out of the hole and help him down.

Another older World War II plane. This is made of aluminum, which makes it really hot. And it was very vulnerable to gunfire. One shot in just the right spot would puncture the radiator and the pilot would have to gauge if he had enough time to make an emergency landing. If he judged wrong he would have to jettison before the plane exploded in a fiery blaze because it overheated and ignited the gas.

The "Thunderbirds"

I had a hard time getting them in the famous "diamond formation". These four jets did several maneuvers in the diamond. Turning and rolling and looping in perfect sync and formation. They fly extremely close to one another, very dangerous! This flyby demonstrated just how close they fly.

One of the solo flyers in the group. He looks like he is about to land, since his nose is up. However, he is flying level over the runway, about 50 feet up, with his nose up. Like doing a wheelie on a motorcycle. I love the flame coming out of the engine.

The "Five Card" formation. I would not want to be the middle plane! They did rolls in this formation, and some loops, as well as the tricky stunt of rearranging themselves to include the 5th pilot.

All six together. They fly really fast, and it was not so easy keeping them in view for the pictures. This is another signature of theirs. The lead pilot, the one in the very front, has to make sure that everyone turns at once, as to not break the shape. If they are not perfect, they will crash at such close quarters. Everything has to be exact.

And just to show you how big the engines are on the cargo planes. Each one has 4 of these big guys, 2 on each side. Wow. You can see how big they are from the people sitting under them.

Thanks for bearing with me, and hope you enjoyed a little taste of the 2008 airshow. This was an amazing experience, and I am very proud to be a supporter of this amazing Air Force! I am so proud of you, Mark, for all the hard work that you do to make sure our pilots keep flying!

Up, Up and Away!!!

Okay, I am going to attempt, in one post, to cover the last couple weeks.

We made the huge decision to move William to a toddler bed. That was the ultimate reason I went to my friend's house and came back with all those grapes. She had a toddler bed that she wanted to give us. Someone gave her an awesome wooden one and they weren't going to need it for a good while, and we needed one at a good price. I'd say free is a pretty good price!

Oren started soccer last week. He likes it so much better than T-ball, which we tried at the beginning of summer. There he had to stand and throw a ball, how exciting. In soccer he gets to run and kick a ball for an hour. Much more to his liking. Plus, he can kick far better than he can throw! And they will get to have games too, unlike the T-ball, because he is in the 1st-2nd grade teams. So he's excited. And Nathan will start this next week, if I can remember to get his sports physical taken care of. For a 4-year old, that's ridiculous...

I got my new camera on Friday! I decided to go with a different camera, a little better one. That has been fun to play with. It has lots of buttons! I don't know what they all do, but I like buttons! :-)

This weekend is a huge Air Show, with parachuters, breaking the sound barrier, the Thunderbirds, skywriting...

How cool is that! We walked out the front door to go down to Mom's house, and they were writing this to kick off the air show! Very neat to watch.

And we went down to Mom's to spend the day. Mark had to work, and I wanted to get off the base for a day. It was great. We had a nap! And plenty of cute pictures too!

I see you too!

"If you're happy and you know it..."

Deep in thought

At one point in the evening, Samuel came running into the kitchen while I was cutting Mom's hair. "Did you see Oren's loose tooth?!?!" What loose tooth? I am sure I would have known about a loose tooth. In comes Oren, with two front bottom teeth sticking out at funny angles. And a mouthful of blood. Funny how a little spit makes a little blood look like a lot! "I tried to open a lid with my teeth!" I'll bet you won't try that trick anytime soon! Notice the freaked out look on his face. We had discussed losing teeth about 6 months ago, when the dentist pointed out that one was pre-wiggle. Just the tiniest bit loose. And his friend just lost her first tooth, so he's seen it recently. Mom assured me that if they weren't already a little loose, there's no way they would have popped out like that. He has opened things like that lots of times, and this is the first incident like this, so I guess she's right.

I had to pull one all the way out because it was hanging on by a thread. I was worried he might swallow it last night. But the other was still holding on okay, although it wouldn't stay in the socket very well. When he woke up this morning, he pushed on it with his tongue and it came right off. "I wanted to be able to eat!" Good, because with a tooth that loose I wasn't sure how eating was going to work. He was much happier this morning.

They grow up way too fast. One in first grade and loosing teeth. One starting kindergarten next year and is out of Nursery. And one is in a toddler bed instead of a crib.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sorry guys...

It is 2:00 am. I am tired. If I promise to catch up on blogs and leave comments, and post about our week tomorrow at my mom's, will you all still like me?

*puppy dog eyes*

Good night...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

At least ....

.... my dishwasher got fixed.

I was talking to Steph today and it turns out we have both been in kind of a slump. Blogging, housework, just in general.


Of course the jam making has gotten in the way of the house getting cleaned, because by the time I finished a batch I just wanted to sit down!

And then my dishwasher started leaking. Again. It does this periodically. And they come and replace the seals and yell at me for various reasons. Whatever. But this time they had a new guy! He looks at it and says, "This thing isn't level! It comes even with the edge down there, but not up here. No wonder it's leaking!" So he raises the feet on the bottom and rescrews it into the underside of the cabinet. This should fix the problem! I did manage to get the floor swept in preparation for a stranger being in my house, and the living room straightened. I guess that's something.

I didn't touch the jam. I didn't touch the laundry. I pretty much sat in front of the computer, cursing at some html code and some photoshopping that refused to cooperate with what I wanted it to do. I finally changed my plan of attack and ended up with a much better title picture than I had originally planned. :-) I guess I will tackle all the other stuff tomorrow...

Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm in a Jam!

Not really, it was just a fun title!

I am in jam up to my elbows though... I better make other types of jam, or I am going to be pretty tired of grape. I did a batch of grape on Saturday - 4 pint jars and 1 half-pint. Those are sooo cute! Then Sunday (I know, it was Sunday, but I don't consider making jam work. It is play time for me!) I did another batch. Plum-Grape! I like to combine recipes to make lots of yummy kinds of jam. Last year I did Apricot, Strawberry-Apricot, Apricot-Strawberry-Blackberry, and Strawberry-Kiwi. YUM!!! I started jelly today, which I have never done before, and is the hardest of the soft fruit spreads to do. It also takes the longest...

First, I have to simmer the grapes in a little water until the skins pop open. Then it sits for about 20 minutes. Then I line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain the pulp for juice. Then do the same thing with coffee filters. If I want it really clear, I let it sit for several hours, let the sediment settle, and then pour the juice in a coffee filtered strainer, leaving most of the sediment in the pitcher.

After all that, I then get to mix it with the sugar and pectin and seal it in the jars. Whew! I don't know how often I will be making jelly... But this will be interesting.

I did want to post a picture of the grape bags sitting on my counter, just to give you the idea of just how many grapes it really is!

I don't think I will be doing this again next year... ;-)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Not window shopping anymore...

I love going online and doing window shopping. All kinds of neat stuff. Clothes, toys, cameras...

I love looking at cameras, thinking and comparing which ones would be good and which would just be stinkers...

I went online this evening to look at cameras, but not with the intent to just window shop. William got a hold of my camera this evening whilst I was making jam and dropped it. It was turned on and the lens was extended. It basically jammed the lense over to the side and it could not go back in or go out. It's totally busted. Ouch.

Did you know that I can get twice the camera now for half of what I paid for mine 4-5 years ago? Twice the functions and features...

I don't want to be too picky, but after my Panasonic Lumix, I had some very specific ideas about what I wanted in a camera, since I cannot afford the Nikon d40 that I would love. I like that Amazon has people that give very specific reviews, and I was able to compare much more efficiently between brands and models.

I decided to go with the Canon Powershot A590. LCD and viewfinder, decent zoom, automatic and manual controls that should be relatively easy to figure out the basics but still provide a challenge to learn more about photography with the more advanced settings.

A lot more, for less than have of what I paid for my old one. In fact, I only paid $120. Not a bad deal. (And the camera has video with actual sounds, my old one took video but didn't have a microphone!)

On the bright side, the bright side besides the camera, I got some jam made today! The stuff we scraped out of the pan tasted really good, and it will be fun to crack open that first jar! My friend had never even seen something being canned before, so she found it fascinating. I enjoyed getting in and making jam again, I haven't had a chance yet this summer. Today was grape, I will play around with some grape/plum next. And then some grape jelly!

Busy, busy, busy....!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Grape Escape

Which is what I need right about now.

I have been working for 2 days, minus time to sleep, eat, cook, and clean a little bit, and am only half-way done with all those grapes!

We are freezing most of them because no way are we going to be able to can that many grapes in one session. Which means rinsing, popping off the stems, sorting through and tossing out the split or mushy or shriveled ones, layering between paper towels in pans, and freezing them. Then I take the frozen grapes and put them in more gallon bags. I have gone through 7 bags, and now have nearly 4, bursting at the seams full, bags of frozen grapes in the freezer. Each one should yield a batch of jam or jelly, it depends on how much they weigh...

And I have to get the rest of what we are freezing done today before they all go mushy from being picked and not refridgerated. I am starting the juice for jelly tonight, it get strained and sits overnight and strained some more, and we will can it tomorrow.

I love canning!

Our tour meal went very well, and I will be posting that later on this morning. That will be my "escape" time today, I guess. At least I don't have to sweep or mop! My friends hubby was sleeping (works a night shift) when we were eating, so he didn't come for dinner until way late. He felt bad for being so late, so he swept and mopped my kitchen/dining room! Sweet!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

ABC tag

I was reading through this, and thinking "I want to do this one! I hope she tagged me so I don't have to wait!" Thank you Steph, for reading my mind.

A is for age: 26, but 27 in December

B is for burger of choice: Whopper Junior. It's cheaper and smaller than a regular one. $1, and I can eat the whole thing!

C is for the car I drive: 2004 Ford Freestar, and a 2007 Chevy Cobalt (It's purpley!)

D is for your dog's name: I had a dog for a few weeks named Chloe...

E is for essential item you use every day: My cell phone. My face moisturizer. Lip balm.

F is for favorite TV show at the moment: I don't really have one. America's Greatest Talent?

G is for favorite game: Killer Uno!

H is for home state: Idaho, born and married, if not actually raised

I is for instruments you play: Piano, clarinet

J is for favorite juice: Apple

K is for whose bum you'd like to kick: Anyone who tells me that there are ways to fix ADHD without meds. Been there, tried them, get off my back!

L is for last restaurant at which you ate: McDonalds drive through. (chicken nuggets rock!!!)

M is for your favorite Muppet: Animal!!!!!

N is for number of piercings: 1 in each ear.

O is for overnight hospital stays: Just the 3 for my boys. And then the one night each I spent with Nathan and William to nurse 24 hours so they could leave the NICU when they were a week old.

P is for people you were with today: My boys, Mark, my friend Amanda, all the soccer team parents at our orientation meeting today...

Q is for what you do with your quiet time: Read, blog, eat, take a nap

R is for biggest regret: That I waited so long before getting the help that I needed and getting put on meds. That caused so much unhappiness and tension in our home, and most of it could have been avoided.

S is for status: Married, happily, and for eternity, although we have only spent 7 years of that eternity together so far.

T is for time you woke up today: 6:30 am. Ouch.

U is for what you consider unique about yourself: I am the only red-head in my family. And I love making jam.

V is for vegetable you love: Tomatoes! Fresh off the vine, lick it, and sprinkle salt on it. Yumm!

W is for worst habit: Biting my lips or clenching my jaw when I am stressed out. Or interrupting people, although with the meds I am not as bad anymore at that.

X is for x-rays you've had: My arm, my wrist, and my pinkie finger after a really bad car accident. I wore about 4 lead aprons because I was pregnant but they had to see if I had broken bones. Which I did. Had a CAT scan too, and wore lots of aprons for that one, from my chin down to my knees! Very cautious doctors...

Y is for yummy food you ate today: Snickers Ice Cream Bar.

Z is for zodiac: Saggitarious (sp?)

I tag Rachel, and Kevin and Bonnie

I am still here...

Don't worry, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. It has been crazy busy here between school, and housework, and trying to get 14 gallon-size bags full of grapes stemmed and frozen to make jam later...

Not kidding. A friend has a grape vine in her yard that someone planted years ago. 7-8 feet high, and 15 feet long. At least. She had no idea that her vine would have so many grapes until we went harvesting to make jam. I told her to grab a big bowl or stock pot. Less than 5 minutes later it was full. We switched to gallon bags. 1 1/2 hours later we had gotten most of the grapes except for the bunches with spider webs and the ones at the very top of the vine.

We ended up with 17 bags. Full. We had to work to close some of them. We gave away one bag to the police that were patrolling the neighborhood and happened to drive by. They looked stunned, and thought we were a little crazy. But when we handed them the bag and pointed out the gadgillion more grapes we had, they started smiling and thanked us. We gave one to her next door neighbor, whose daughter had been chatting with us the whole time. (I didn't think anyone could talk more than me. I was wrong.) And one bag went to her friend with a humongous Great Dane that I will have to post pictures of later. (Gorgeous dog! That would be plenty sturdy for my kids, huh?) His head is bigger than mine!

Tomorrow will be insane with therapy and our tour meal, but I will try and save some energy to post about some big stuff that we did this week!