Friday, July 29, 2011

The One Where Pain Meds Go Bad

The prescription I was given after the surgery says I can take 1-2 vicodin every 4 hours as needed. I had stuck with one at a time because I'm just not a big pain medication person. I was hurting quite a bit yesterday though, so we decided I should try 2. And 2 helped the pain. A lot, actually. So when it was bedtime (and 4 hours had passed since the last dose), I took 2 more thinking I'd get a good night's sleep and then cut back on the meds in the morning.

Bad idea.

I went to sleep and had the most realistic, scary nightmares ever. Now, I'd had nightmares several weeks ago when I took one-half a vicodin during one of these attacks. But this was another realm all together. I woke up and was nervous and paranoid. My vision was messed up and I was hearing things. I knew it was only the medicine and only in my head and I had to wait it out, which is the only thing that made it bearable. I did make Josh call the ER and find out for sure that this WOULD go away and I didn't need to go in for anything.

I refused to take any more medicine though, so I sat up for a few hours until the anxiety eased, then went back to sleep (and back to more run of the mill nightmares...people setting the car on fire while we were in it, turning into a turkey and other fun stuff). I didn't take anything at all during the night because I just wanted it all to clear out a bit. So I was hurting pretty good this morning. We talked to the surgeon and I'm sticking to regular ol' tylenol now. I'm sure it's partly because I'm healing up anyway, but it's working pretty well.

Looking through the paperwork from the pharmacy, it seems all of this is a known reaction to vicodin, but I had no idea. Now I know.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Post-Op Day 2

It's been about 36 hours since my surgery. In case you're wondering...I hurt. I still felt loopy (from the versed, I think) yesterday, but around midnight, that wore off and I just felt like I got hit by a truck. This evening I've settled into more of "had a strong margarita and did 1,000 sit ups" territory.

I wonder why there's so much fear surrounding childbirth. This is definitely worse than that. The initial attacks were like being at the peak of a contraction that didn't let up at all (and had no definite end point in sight). The recovery from this surgery is also more painful than recovering from unmedicated birth. I was never interested in taking anything more than ibuprofen for labor or the recovery. For this though, I'm popping vicodin around the clock. It's the first time in my life to take more than one or two doses of pain medicine. I'm not convinced it's working super great though. I think I prefer higher doses of regular tylenol and I think I'll call tomorrow and see if I can safely do that.

I had heard the belly button incision was the worst, but it's really not bothering me at all. Two or three times today I was aware it was there, but it doesn't hurt. The other two incisions are at the top of my abdomen, right under my diaphragm. One in particular is right in the middle and hurts like an SOB. Hurts to breathe deep, hurts to move, hurts to talk too much. If I lay still, I'm good. If I lay still with an ice pack gently laid against me, I can sleep for an hour or two.

I think I'm developing a sensitivity to adhesives. It's not terrible, but I got real itchy where my IVs were and the very top layer of skin peeled off where the tape was (like when you have a bad sunburn). I still have marks from the EKG pads from both Sunday and Wednesday and the skin is peeling a bit there too. My incisions are held closed with steri-strips, no stitches or glue, and I seem to be having the same really itchy reaction to those. It's not horrible though and those incisions need to stay covered up, so unless I break out in giant hives or something, I'm going to leave it be and just ask if there are alternatives next time medical tape is a necessity.

Last night was all sorts of not fun. Poor Josh is exhausted from juggling everyone and when he's tired, he snores, so that kept waking me up (and then I'd nudge him to make him stop). Then Secora was trying to make up for all the milk she didn't get during the day (nothing I write here substitutes for medical advice, but as a lactation consultant with an 8 month old healthy baby, yes, I'm totally comfortable with her nursing while I'm on vicodin). Unfortunately, pain inhibits the milk ejection reflex, so she still wasn't getting the amount of milk she usually does and she compensated by waking up every hour and a half. It also took a bit of maneuvering to get me in a position to nurse, then get her latched on while Josh held her legs so she couldn't knee me in the stomach. Then we had to get her back to sleep (I usually sleep next to her and just nurse laying down, but it's not safe for me to sleep next to her while I'm on the pain meds). Hoping tonight goes better.

I have eaten normal food all day without any ill effects. I still don't think it'd be wise to go get pizza tomorrow, but I'm hoping the food tolerance keeps up. I'm looking forward to my follow-up appointment next week. There are some things I'm curious about that I was still too sedated to ask last time I saw the surgeon. I'm really hoping they took a picture of my gallbladder. I meant to ask for one, but got caught up in talking meds with the anesthesiologist and forgot.

For right now, still glad I had this done and had it done now. I took the time to write thank you notes all the doctors and nurses I saw in the ER and the outpatient surgery clinic this morning. I appreciate and save all the thank yous I get from lactation clients so I hope it gives them all a little pick me up when they get them. They really did such a fabulous job, I don't think I could've gotten better care anywhere else.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Adios Gallbladder

I had my cholecystectomy. I was originally scheduled for 9:30, but got bumped up to 8. It's a good thing too, because I was the first one in and the very last one out for the day. The surgeon joked that I must get drunk on just one glass of wine. I was perfectly stable and everything, but I just couldn't wake up sufficiently. I finally went home (and back to sleep) almost 6 hours after surgery was over.

Like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I will really miss the hospital here. Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital...if you're ever passing through the area, don't be worried about stopping in for treatment.

Everyone was fabulous. My surgeon, Dr. Ilgenfritz did a great consult with me on Monday morning. He told me he's done laproscopic cholecystectomy hundreds of times and put my mind at ease about the recovery. He patiently answered all our questions and asked a lot of questions of his own. He came by my pre-op room again to be sure I was still okay with everything and he asked one more time in the OR if I had more questions. Since Josh had to go home with the girls, Dr. Ilgenfritz called him himself right after surgery to let him know how everything had gone. I'm not yet clear on why it was possible (since I wasn't awake enough to talk to him afterwards), but he was able to do the surgery through 3 incisions instead of the normal 4. I'm also not pumped full of air (perhaps that's what the 4th incision is for?). I think all of that likely has something to do with the fact that I'm rather skinny, but whatever the reason, I think it's leaving more comfortable than typical. When he found out I was nursing, he estimated I'd probably need to wait 6-8 hours after surgery to nurse. I really appreciated that, because a lot of doctors give a blanket "you can't nurse for 24 hours" or "you can't nurse for 48 hours" statement. Such a long time frame is usually wrong, so I was impressed he was going with a more evidence based answer.

My anesthesiologist, who I need to look up because I can't remember her name, was also wonderful. Like the surgeon, she appeared to be in her early 50's and very experienced. When she came in to talk to me, I let her know I was exclusively nursing a baby and that I'm a board certified lactation consultant. I had brought my medications and mother's milk book with me and she gladly went through every medication she'd use, let me look it up and let me tell her whether it was okay with nursing or not. We worked together to come up with medications that were best for the situation. I respect her expertise as an anesthesiologist and it was very refreshing to be afforded that same respect for my lactation expertise. After the surgery, I was hurting and I found out she even sent a nurse back to my room to get the book so she could look up a few pain med options and choose the best one that would be effective, but work with breastfeeding. I also appreciated that she wheeled me into the OR herself. When we were done talking, she did one last set of vitals, asked if I had more questions, put the versed in my IV and off we went.

Lastly, I had two great nurses with me all day. One was from Texas and got her nursing degree at UT. She saw my A&M sweatshirt and we talked Texas the rest of the time she did my pre-op prep (which she was very competent at). I had her again at the end of the day and she was great with the kids when Josh came to pick me up. She even took all three of them right outside the room and talked to them while Josh helped me get dressed. Right after surgery, I had a nurse with a little bit more "shy" bedside manner, but she was also very competent. When she helped me get up for a bathroom break and I got nauseous, she held an alcohol pad under my nose and told me to breathe deep. I've never heard of that before, but it worked like a charm much quicker than medication would have and I made it through the whole day without any puking (always a bonus).

As far as the gallbladder saga in general: I posted about all the drama back in February and then we did an EGD in April, but we weren't getting any good answers. My gallbladder ultrasound showed sludge, but not stones and I wasn't a clear cut candidate for surgery. Then the attacks got more spaced out and less severe. I began to think all of this was at least partially due to tension, so I started seeing a massage therapist, who told me I had a rib out. I went to a chiropractor a few times (yes, my ribs were jacked up) and the back pain component pretty much went away, but the abdominal pain kept happening and seemed to change. The more recent attacks felt like all the ab muscles on my right side were tensing up and I'd have this lump just to the left of my midline that was really tender to the touch. Still, the attacks were spacing out and I was hopeful they'd go away as I got further from the pregnancy and Secora began nursing less (pregnancy is the only gallbladder disease risk I have). Also, my attacks only ever happened at night. Never during the day, and didn't have a strong correlation to eating fatty foods. Then last week it happened Wednesday night. And Thursday night. And Friday night. And I was still quite sore during the day. All of this was different. I went to the convenient care clinic in the hospital Saturday and was fussed at because "they're for sore throats and stuff" and they palpated my abdomen, which was sore all over. They told me to go home and call my doctor on Monday (the surgeon is not at all happy this happened). Saturday night it happened again and early Sunday morning I went to the ER in tears. I happened to get the same doctor I had 2 months ago when I went to the ER. He asked if I'd gotten the HIDA scan like he suggested to check my gallbladder function (I hadn't, because the attacks virtually disappeared after that visit), but he was very gentle with me and didn't chastise me for not listening. He ran blood work and discovered I had pancreatitis and sent me for an abdominal CT so I could be reassured I didn't have cancer or something and they were missing it. CT is usually not good for gallbladder diagnostics, but in my case it showed up just fine and there were a lot of the kind of stones that can easily spill out of the gallbladder and wreak havoc on the pancreas. They put me on "nothing by mouth" orders, observed me during the day, let me go home at night because I was doing a lot better and needed to be with Secora and insisted I see the surgeon the next day. 8am on Monday, Josh called the surgeon's office and he answered the phone himself because the office staff wasn't there yet. Even though he was booked up, he fit me in for a consult that morning because of what was going on. And that led us to the surgery. After he finished removing my gallbladder, he cut it open and said it was filled with a strange mucousy substance he hasn't seen before. The guy has been doing laproscopic chloecystectomy since 1990 and who knows how many open ones he did before that. "Huh, never seen THAT before" is a phrase I have heard multiple times from very experienced health care professionals for various reasons. I guess I'm just unique. Perhaps the strange contents accounts for the somewhat atypical symptoms I was having. I'm kind of glad there was something weird in there though, because that means it really did need to come out and this wasn't all for nothing. I was also very concerned about side effects of the surgery (you read horror stories of "bile salt induced diarrhea", which basically means you need to be 2 steps from a toilet anytime you eat), but I've already enjoyed a subway sandwich and baked potato chips without any ill effects, so while I'm not gonna go eat pizza tomorrow, I have more confidence that this isn't going to require denying myself every yummy food known to man for the rest of my life.

Whew!! Sorry for the novel. Other people's postings about this sort of stuff is what helped me learn more and make decisions through all of this, so I wanted to pay it forward for the next friend who wakes up at 2am with excruciating side pain.

Monday, July 25, 2011

At Least It's Not Boring

Life has not been boring around here since I last posted.

We celebrated Sedona's birthday (and I took pictures, but I need to get them up). She had a great time. We went out for lunch and dinner, played at the park and had cake and presents at home.

We made all the arrangements to switch up our plans for the move to accommodate the fact that Josh is going to stay here longer than we thought.

Then we got a call from the job he had accepted and then lost and found out the job was back on. But they wanted to do things differently so it couldn't be pulled again, so they are doing new hire paperwork first, THEN doing the official offer, so it's still not set in stone. Now we don't know whether we're sticking to our new plan or reverting back to our original plan. (but we are glad we didn't rush to cancel various reservations, which would've cost us several hundred dollars in penalties)

Josh went to the dentist and found out he has a cracked tooth and decay underneath one of his fillings. He will definitely need a crown, and there's no way to know until the dentist gets in there whether it will need a regular filling or a root canal. So that's either a $1200 bill or a $2000 bill, it'll be a surprise.

We did a lot of packing now that the move is back on.

I went to the urgent care clinic because something was seriously not right with my insides. I got chastised because "we're really for sore throats" (well, sorry miss uppity nurse a normal town, urgent care is for anything that needs to be seen, but isn't an emergency), and told to see my doctor on Monday.

Sunday morning I ended up in the ER (is that better urgent care lady??) with pancreatitis. They told me they were admitting me, put me on "nothing by mouth" orders, and did an abdominal CT to be sure they weren't missing anything. The CT showed a bunch of gallstones the ultrasound missed. I'm not quite clear on everything, but my understanding is they usually do ultrasound for the gallbladder because it's easier to see that way, but I'm thin enough that they could see my gallbladder just fine on CT and the stones are a type that would show up well on CT, but not on ultrasound. They aren't really sure if the stones were there all along or not, but the gallbladder trouble was definitely the source of the pancreas trouble. By the time they got me in the CT, the pancreas was already looking pretty good, so they said I could stay overnight on the IV, or I could home (they knew about Secora nursing and it was gonna be a hassle to be away from her all night). So I talked to the internist and the fill-in surgeon (the regular one was out of town) and came home. I go talk to the regular surgeon later this morning and the idea is the gallbladder comes out in the next few days. That may or may not affect the moving plans, it will depend on how recovery is going.

With everything going on and the fact that internet access will probably be spotty for the last half of August, there will probably be fewer posts than normal around here. I do have pictures ready to go for several things I wanted to get up, so if I can get around to that, I'll hopefully be able to schedule some things to go up when I'm not around.

Now back to my jello and chicken broth...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sedona is FOUR!!

Four years ago a rambunctious little girl came into this world. Sideways. Okay, not all of her was sideways, just her head. And I'm not bitter at all. I kid, I kid! She was actually my easiest pregnancy and easiest recovery and she can be a handful, but she is the happiest, most laid back kid.
Newborn Sedona

She loves water just as much as she always has. She gets SOO excited when it's bath time (only she says, "I'm so exciting!!"). One of the benefits to going back to Texas now is that we will make it back the same day that the last session of swim lessons starts. She has no fear about going to the class by herself (she and Sierra will be in different groups and parents don't participate at this age) and is thrilled to learn how to swim
water baby at 1 year old

She had a little bit of a rough medical start her first year. She had some GI problems and was diagnosed failure-to-thrive. Ever since then, she has been smaller (according to the growth charts) than the rest of the family. She's decided to catch up though. She actually jumped UP growth curves in the last year! She grew 3.5 inches! She's now 39.5" (50th percentile) and 33 pounds (between the 25th and 50th percentiles).
2 years old. It took some work, but we've been bink-free for over a year now! She thinks that Secora should always have a bink (Secora could take or leave them) and while Secora prefers Avent pacifiers, Sedona has repeatedly tried to give her a MAM pacifier (the brand Sedona preferred) and says they're better.

She talks CONSTANTLY now. It's as if there is no filter whatsoever, if a thought enters her brain, she must say it right away. Thanks to 6 months with a great therapist, her speech is light years better than it was a year ago. She still has some articulation errors, but they are ones that often persist until the age of 6 or 7 (most notably, the letter r. She tries and watches how we do it, but she just can't say an r). She is understandable to strangers now and that's a good thing, because she talks to all of them. I've been reading her the book "Never Talk To Strangers", but she makes friends in about 5 seconds, so she sees no need to keep quiet around anyone.
3 year old Sedona

The actual birthday celebration will be tonight, but we tried doing a little "yay! I'm four!" photo shoot. It didn't go so well. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we can get outside for better pictures later on today! Here's what I did get though
A brief moment of stillness I LOVE her hair!!
Hyper preschooler + no flash + lack of light = what's that blur?

Still doing baby yoga...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fruit Cobbler

I have a pet peeve. Well, I have many pet peeves, which I shall not list here. But the pet peeve I want to talk about right now is cobbler.

I can't stand it when someone slaps a crust on top of fruit and calls it a cobbler. That's not a cobbler. That's a pie you didn't take the time make a bottom crust for.

A true cobbler is made by putting the fruit ON TOP of batter and then cooking it. True cobbler seems to be pretty much a Texas thing. I remember watching an episode of Jeopardy when I was in high school where the answer (question?) was "what is cobbler" and none of my friends got it. I was shocked.

So here's a great recipe I found for true cobbler. The recipe is to be made with fresh fruit.

Melt 1/4c butter in a 9x9 pan. In a bowl, mix 1c flour, 3/4c sugar, 2t baking powder and 3/4c milk. Prepare 2c of fresh fruit (pit cherries, or peel/pit/slice peaches, whatever's suitable for your fruit)Pour the batter on top of the butter (do not stir)
Put the fruit on top of the batter (again, do not stir)
Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for about 50-60 minutes. The batter will rise to the top
(I can't believe I thought these pictures were in focus when I took them....)

And that, my friends, is a true cobbler. Serve warm with ice cream (preferably Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Un-Poof (Kinda)

While the job offer is still gone, we (along with Josh's boss) have come up with a new plan of action.

There are a lot of details and pros and cons to various options that I don't feel the need to lay out in a public forum, but the gist is that the girls and I will still move to Texas as planned. Josh will stay here. He gets time off to move our stuff down and time to come visit once a month. We are hopeful he will join us not much later than originally planned, but at the latest, he will come down in May.

Because cancelling the Disney trip (which the girls still don't know about) is just a punch in the gut on top of everything else, we are trying to salvage it, but we may need to make some changes to the reservation. We will have to cancel the rest of the road trip unless another job with a similar start date magically appears soon.

This plan gives us the best financial security possible in the current situation. While all us girls are not so happy with the prospect of leaving him behind, at least it is temporary.

I think my last post came across a bit more pessimistic than I intended. This news, while disappointing, hasn't upset me as much as I would've guessed it would. All in all, things are quite okay. We still have income and everyone is healthy. Last week I became aware of the James Sikes blog. A horrible truth of the internet is that there are a lot of falsehoods out there. People who write fiction and pass it off as a memoir. It makes people skeptical and I have read of some people having the same reaction to this blog. I'm not sure it even matters though. According to the blog, 8 month old James was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive type of brain tumor 25 days ago. And yesterday he passed away. In less than a month. Whether or not this blog is truth (and I think it is), this situation does exist in the world. Parents have to bury their children. So no more job? Upside down plans that sometimes shift by the hour? Big deal. We will snuggle our baby. We will play games with our children. We will do the best we can with the knowledge in front of us to keep our family fed, clothed and sheltered. We will treasure each other and the rest will work itself out.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Sometimes you have something in your grasp...not even beyond your grasp, actually right there...and it still goes poof.

Josh was given an official offer letter with a salary and a start date. Nothing was listed about the offer being contingent on other things. Today he received a phone call that the offer has been rescinded because of the government funding issues.

So no vacation. No Disney (rather glad we hadn't told the girls about that). And no moving (regretting that the girls knew about that).

Back to square one with the job hunt. The current position is a post-doc and therefore, by definition, temporary, so the security of having that next step secured has also gone poof.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Planning Time

That map up there is our next road trip. Mostly. The girls and I will be vacationing our way back to Texas soon, probably along that route, but maybe we'll change it up before the time comes. Josh needs to stay a few more weeks to finish up work and then soon after he arrives, we're headed East. What started as a "hey, there's time between jobs, let's take the girls to DisneyWorld!" turned into "well, if we're gonna be out that way, we should go there....and there....and there....and ooh! we've never been there!"

(if you missed it, yup...we're going to Disney World! The girls don't know and we don't plan on telling them until the last minute, so PLEASE do not mention anything if you know us in real life!!!)

In short, we have plans to cover about 5,500 miles before the first of October. There is a lot of activity going on around here as we try to mostly pack up the house before the girls and I leave, pack the van with the things we'll need before Josh arrives with the Uhaul, and plan for the long trip out East.

Look for road trip planning and "what we did" posts coming soon! This trip will be very similar in distance/time to the big trip we took in 2009 and we're excited to be hitting the road again!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

8 Months!

The last 8 months have flown by! I can't believe my newborn has disappeared and we have a regular ol' (chubby, cuddly, adorable) baby on our hands!
Fussy baby, but check out the fat rolls!

Secora's up to 17#4oz, which is still just over 2.5 oz/week gain from last month (right on track!). She still doesn't eat. You can give her puffs or mum-mums now and she will hold them and lick them occasionally, but if they actually end up in her mouth, she starts gagging and making horrible faces (reminiscent of the "vienna sausage" face I made as a toddler, for those who've known me a long time). Likewise, she will "drink" from a sippy cup of water, but she won't actually swallow the water, she just lets it run out of her mouth.
Her weight gain is just fine on momma milk alone, so we'll leave it be at least until her 9 month appointment, where I suspect they'll check her iron and perhaps we'll need to come up with a new game plan then. We'll have to wait and see.

She is VERY interested in the world around her and VERY mobile for a technically non-mobile baby. She easily moves around the room by scooting and rolling. She gets on her hands and knees really well and sometimes launches herself forward, but doesn't purposefully move her hands yet. She still falls over occasionally when she's sitting up, but most of the time she's okay. If you stand her up and hold her hands, she'll take steps, but she's not balanced enough to stand up by herself (while holding on to something) for very long yet.

Lots of babbling, some "dadadadada" and "mmmmmmmmmmm" (when she wants me) going on, but no other words or sounds yet. The only sign language we've been teaching her is "milk", but she doesn't sign it back yet. I can't remember what average is, but the older sisters were both very late talkers and I'm guessing it'll be another year or more before she has much to say.

She is the proud owner of TWO new shiny teeth. Her sisters both cut their first teeth at 7.5 months and Secora's first tooth showed up at 7 months and 13 days. I'd say she's an in between teether...not as fussy as Sierra was, but a little worse than Sedona was. She thinks she might need to try out those chompers when she's nursing, so she's had to learn the word "No!" recently. Now she'll start to bite down, then pop off and shake her head "no".

She's growing more hair, but I think it's safe to say she won't have enough for pigtails by her birthday (it's just strange to us, we haven't had a bald baby before!). Her eyes have recently started to change color a bit. I still think they'll end up brown. Sierra's didn't change until she was 2, so there's lots of time left.

She still sleeps with us and still wakes up about 2 or 3 times a night to nurse. I'm fine with that and am enjoying the perspective being a momma the third time has given me. This baby phase sure doesn't last long and if she needs some cuddles and comfort at 2am, I'm happy to oblige. Of course, the waking up and wanting to play at 5am is a bit more bothersome...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Check In: 2011 Goals

I forgot to post the 6 month update on my 2011 goals! So here we go:

Save at least 10% of our income (also 101 in 1001 goal #47): I want to put aside at least 10% of this year's gross salary in emergency fund cash. This one got all sorts of tricky to calculate with the impending job change! I did take the time to update it though, and we've put aside 9.7% of this year's income so far. With the Aug. 1 paycheck, we will hit 10%.

Complete 12 sewing projects throughout the year: This one is still looking pretty grim. I made the kindle cover (incorrectly) and had to ditch it. I helped Sierra sew a bag for her book club. I finished the full size quilt, and I FINALLY sewed a sea turtle patch on Sedona's quilt that was supposed to be done years ago (it was hand sewing, so it totally counts even though it was small). So, I've done 4 things so far. I have another project in mind I'd like to do before we move, but we'll see if I make time for it.

Exercise (also 101 in 1001 goal #8): My goal was to tone up and get over the pregnancy aches and pains without losing weight. Success was to be measured by not throwing my lower back out at any point after March 31, comfortably fitting into my favorite skirts by July 31, and running one mile without stopping at some point before the end of the year. The stomach issues I was having really got in the way of this. The limits on what I could eat made it hard to keep my weight steady for a while. I'm holding steady now and feel like I can now take in the calories to off-set exercise, so I've JUST started doing a little jogging. Sierra and I are going to do the couch-to-5K together and completed the first day on Saturday.

Work my Brain (also 101 in 1001 goal #12): My goal was to accumulate all 75 continuing education hours (CERPs) I need to recertify my IBCLC. I've gathered all of my certificates for everything I had already done and that totals 37.25 CERPs. I completed the GOLD conference, which earned me 22 CERPs for a total of 59.25 so far. I still need to apply for credit for the class I teach, which I expect to earn me somewhere between 20 and 40 CERPs. That will get me to 75, but 5 of those must be ethics related, so I will probably still need to do a run through of the ethics class on Health-E-Learning.

I think I'm doing pretty well for being half-way through the year! Posting here and making it public has definitely helped keep me honest and committed!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

It is official! The interviews are done, the offers (and sadly, a few rejections) have been sorted, and Josh has accepted a job back in Texas! For those who know us in real life, we'll be moving right back into our old house. Our friends that are renting it need to leave just about the same time we need to move back in.

This is another post-doc position, but he is jumping from NIH (where he's at now) to USDA. Since this is his 2nd post-doc, he's also jumping up the government employee pay scale a bit, so that's nice. This position is slated to last 2 years and then he will be on the hunt for a permanent position.

His last day of work here is expected to be September 6. He doesn't start down there until around October 10th though and we're working on planning some travel during the break, so we'll be in and out of our old stomping grounds for a while. I'm sure we will be camped out at Rosa's, Taco Cabana, Casa Ole, Ninfas and Freebirds quite a bit if anyone's looking for us! And if we're not there, you'll probably be able to find me hugging a book shelf at Half Price or skipping down the aisles of HEB.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Time for another garden update!

I took these pictures last week and the peonies have all gone away now, but they sure were pretty while they lasted!

Here was the last bud about to open up:
And one cluster of flowers we had

Over in our laundry basket garden, our potatoes are doing wonderfully (they have flower buds that will open any day, which means we should be able to dig up potatoes really soon)
The peas have started putting out blooms as well (this is still bizarre to me...I'm growing a vegetable in July that normally I would grow in December!)
Our carrots never really took off. We have about 10-15 plants that will make a good carrot, I think. The spinach is doing a little too well and we haven't eaten enough of it, we need to have some salad this week!

Also came across this little guy hanging out on the potatoes one day (still wanting a macro lens)

With the way things are looking, we may be back in Texas in time to do a fall garden (these same vegetables all over again!) down there if we work hard when we get there.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Crazy Kid Dinner

This is another idea that was on Pinterest. One of my friends pointed it out and was making fun of it, but I knew the kids would love it, so I just had to give it a try.

When it was dinner time, I gave the girls a plate of this:

They were completely amazed. Sedona said, "Hotdogs must have holes in them! But......hotdogs don't have holes in them..." She looked really confused, and just started eating. Sierra decided I must have made holes in the hotdogs with a fork and stringed them onto spaghetti noodles.

Not quite, it's much easier than that.

Cut a hotdog into chunks and stab a few pieces of uncooked spaghetti through (don't worry about them going straight through). Then drop in boiling water and cook just like you'd normally cook the spaghetti!
The only think you need to do differently is to cook it an extra minute or so. When the noodles that are sticking out are done, the section that is inside the hotdog is just slightly underdone (because it's insulated with cold hotdog at the beginning, I suppose), so you need to add on the extra time to avoid a crunchy piece in your hotdog.

The girls loved it and have been asking me to make it again!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lock Up Your Cabinets!

We are days away from having a truly mobile baby around here.

If you make a nice cushy mat for her, she insists on hanging out OFF the mat
And she's also figured out how to get up on her hands and knees and then sort of launch herself forward (face first...let's hope she starts moving her hands soon)

Much like her sisters, she's decided midnight is a great practice time. You know, when it's all quiet and everyone is trying to sleep. If she's too tired at night, she just wakes up at 5am to give it a try.

I still think she may follow in Sierra's footsteps as an early walker though. If you hold her hands, she will walk across a room. She's not balanced enough to hold herself up, but she's got the stepping motion down and thinks she's extra super special talented when she does it.

Monday, July 4, 2011


There aren't going to be any firework shows in our town this year, so we decided to make a trip to the firework trailer and get some small things for the kids. Unfortunately, the sun stays up until after 10pm here, so these pictures (which really were taken in the evening on two different days) look like we were doing fireworks at noon!

This was the first year we did anything like this at home. The girls were completely amazed
'Cause, you know, things like colored smoke bombs are just super impressive when you're a little kid Then we let them play with sparklers, which they were a little scared of at first, but they warmed up quickly...
...even though the smoke WAS a bit stinky

Sedona wouldn't sit still long enough, but Sierra also got to explore the joys of setting a long exposure time on the camera
And in case you missed it, everyone's in shorts!! Next week will be the first time this year that we hit 80 every day!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Lesson In Perseverance

I have had a lot of fun looking through and finding things I want to try out. One thing I saw this week was a flag cake for fourth of July. It looked a little complicated, but I thought I could probably pull it off.

I started out by making a 1.5 recipe of white cake batter and dividing it evenly between three bowlsI used food coloring to dye one bowl blue and one red. I left the other white

Then I poured the batters into cake pans sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (apparently a big mistake...perhaps the rest of the day would've gone a little easier if I'd taken the time to thoroughly grease and flour the pans or line them with greased parchment paper)
Once the cakes were baked and cooled, every single one of them stuck to the pan and tore apart when I took them out. I put the pieces back together as well as I could, then used a long serrated knife to cut the white and red layers in half.

The cake was in so many pieces, that I couldn't pick up my layers, so Josh suggested sliding a cookie sheet between the layers to make it easier to pick up the top one
As you can see from my bottom white layer, the project was looking rather bleak:

When I was younger, I would've had a small hissy fit, thrown the cake away and been in a bad mood the rest of the day. I've mellowed a bit though (and I have children to set an example for), so I just made the best of it.

I pushed the pieces of that layer together and spread a layer of buttercream frosting on top.

Then I topped it with one half of the red layer (which was also falling apart)
I also topped that with a layer of buttercream frosting. I did a thin layer, then cleaned my spatula and put on another layer to minimize the crumbs in the frosting.
Then it was time for the tricky part. I stacked the remaining white and red layer and used a bowl as a guide to cut a smaller circle from them (I used a serrated steak knife for this)
Once cut, I left the layers stacked and used the cookie sheet again to transfer them to the cake.

Next, I used the same bowl to cut a circle out of the blue layer (it looked a bit green on the surface after it browned while cooking)

This time I was keeping the outer ring instead of the center. Since I was already dealing with so many pieces (just look how torn up the cake is in the above picture), I decided to cut it into fourths so it was easier to pick up and put on the cake

I literally had big gaps that I stuffed chunks of cake into
Then I used a light hand to frost the whole thing with a thin layer of icing, let it set for a bit, then put more frosting over the top (again, so you didn't see crumbs in the frosting)
After all the trouble I had with assembly, I was tickled pink at how it looked when I cut a slice out. Not perfect, but the effect I was going for is definitely there!
If I were to try this again, I would definitely pay closer attention to how I prepped my cake pans. Also, the cake was very good, but it might be easier to work with something more dense and less fluffy. Can you cook up pound cake in a round cake pan?


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