Friday, May 28, 2010

Aggravated Uterus

I'd be aggravated to if I was made to stretch into the shape and size of various athletic balls and large fruits over the course of a few months (not to mention being compared to those objects).

So my boring, uncomplicated pregnancy became a step towards complicated last night when I spent three hours in the hospital hooked up to various machines while a nurse tried to figure out exactly what was happening. The good news: no contractions. The bad news: my uterus is 'aggravated' which could precede pre-term labor and therefor I am now taking drugs; namely Terbutaline (no I didn't remember that I had to look on the prescription). I also got chewed out for waiting 48 hours before I bothered to call the doctor (but how was I supposed to know it wasn't gas?!).

Basically I now know what it must feel to be a tweaker...and why they call it 'tweaking'. My heart is racing a mile a minute and I can't concentrate on anything. It makes me sick to my stomach. I don't know how anybody can actually want to feel like this...for fun. Good thing school's over or I'd probably be under suspicion.

I also have a list of 'nos' and what I should avoid doing. I hate to tell them but half the things on the list I'm going to do anyway because who else will? Yes, I know, this is where everyone tells me I need to, "ask for help". And this is when I respond, "I would except when I do ask for help I end up having to do it anyway and more inconvenient times." That makes me feel lousy that I got up enough gumption to ask and then I wasn't important enough to the person for them to do it for me when I asked. It's just how it is.

Everything is pre-cautionary anyway and I'm just going to be a little more aware of myself. I know exactly what is causing this. It starts with a capitol S and is spelled S-T-R-E-S-S. There is one major factor contributing to this which I can't control. And I am doing everything possible to try to alleviate it which leads to more stress and disappointment. It's okay, I've dealt with worse, just not with the little parasite growing in my belly at the same time. But who said I wasn't up to a challenge right? If anything my little bugger will be born with some life lessons under his belt already.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Recipes, Phones and Wind...Oh My!

Hold tight and both recipes for Baked French Toast and the Artisan Bread are at the bottom...

My cell service was up for an update and despite absolutely loving my G'Zone Rock - the indestructible cell phone that spent time in a ditch, water tank and falling continually to a variety of ground surfaces - I decided to try something new. I figure if the new phone can't handle my life then I'll just turn the old one back on even though it's missing pieces from it's body. Trying a new phone was free afterall!

So after much debate I decided on the Samsung Reality. It's a touchscreen with a slide up querty keyboard. I've been extremely sceptical (as I usually am with new technology), but I've had it a few days now and so far, so good! I had some initial concerns with it's usage...and then I read through some tutorial material and made life easier for myself. I suggest reading through user manuals if you've never had a touch screen before. I have scratched it already (surprised?) but have a screen cover on it and went ahead and bought a skin to help protect it. I read a billion reviews as well and there weren't any negatives other than battery life - but mine just took 4 days to die after it's initial charge so I certainly don't have a problem with that!

So if I had to give it an initial review:

Fun, not any more expensive despite having to change my plan a little and having a Data package, good sound, has handled a little rough treatment (and feels sturdy), and a perfect size for a gal's pocket...Not sure I would recommend it for a guy as it is small. The keyboard keys stick up a little so that's cool also.

The wind won't stop blowing here. It's making me crazy. My landlady is a lawn freak also and is getting pissed we can't keep the lawn as green as she'd like, but I hate to tell her I'm trying to run sprinklers all night, but between the constant wind all day and night, and the hot sun all day it just dries it right out. That and we can only run one sprinkler at a time or we totally lose water pressure. The good thing is it's enough to keep the lawn alive, the bad thing is it doesn't look very healthy. Nate and came up with some solutions today. For starters we're going to fertilize the crap out of it. And we bought this so we can cover the whole lawn rather than just bits and pieces at a time (we have a really large lawn):

Meet the new addition - The Rain Train!!! Can't wait to see our electric bill from running the water so much.

Notice the broken swing in the background, and the dust and sand in the air. That's what the wind is doing to us here. It's like living through the dust bowl a few months at a time each spring. Though this year seems way worse than it's been in a long time.

Alrighty - as promised - Recipes!

Baked French Toast:

I got this recipe off The Pioneer Woman (link on left). I love the fact that you can change a lot up - such as substituting a sweet bread, adding fruit, and adding Cinnamon to the liquid mixture. Skim milk works great and cutting the butter also works if you are more health conscience. It was sweet enough that butter and syrup really didn't need to be added. What I TRULY loved was that it tasted awesome as leftovers also! If you have fresh eggs I strongly suggest you use them! It really raised it up and gave it a light texture. Store bought eggs gave it a more dense texture (I had to try and brag about my fresh eggs - I think everyone should have a backyard chicken or two, or three).

1 loaf Crusty Sourdough Or French Bread
8 whole Eggs
2 cups Whole Milk
½ cups Whipping (heavy) Cream
¾ cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
½ cups All-purpose Flour
½ cups Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces
Fresh Fruit (optional)

Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.

Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and but into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. (If you’re using fruit, sprinkle on before the crumb mixture.) Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.

Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup.

Simple Artisan Crust Bread

You're going to die when you see how easy this is. Adding honey, spices, cheese, for taste also works well. Those of you at high elevations: I live at 8,000 feet and didn't have to change a thing. It wasn't a very dense bread, but if you want it a little lighter add a little flour and take away some yeast. Yeast rises much faster at a high elevation. You can also punch it down once and let it rise again or add a little salt. But like I said I didn't have any problems. That could also be due to baking it with water on a stone.

1 1/2 Tablespoons Yeast

1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt

6 1/2 Cups Flour

3 Cups Lukewarm Water (~100 degrees)

Mix Yeast, Salt and Water. Stir in flour. Knead lightly (should be combined but not too much, not crumbly either) and then Cover (but let breathe) and let rise for 2 hours.

Cut into grapefruit sized pieces with a serrated knife and shape into a round loaf (can sprinkle with cornmeal) and Let rest for 40 min.

Heat stone for 20 minutes in oven at 450 degrees

Dust with flour and slash - put 1 cup water in broiling pan

Bake ~30 min. or until lightly brown on top.


Monday, May 17, 2010

The Stepmonster Cooks

First off I'd like to start this post by giving myself a slap on the hand for what amounts to being a horrible step-mother...again. We had a beautiful weekend here and I had the audacity to suggest to my step-daughter that she set up her Barbie pool outside and enjoy the weather.

That's it. She screamed bloody murder that I had her put on shorts, a tank top and play outside while I gardened. I know, I know...the cruelty I subject her to. Since she hated that idea so much I made her sit on the porch instead with no toys. I'm sure she'll be scarred for life.

That pretty much sums up where our summer is starting out this year. How much fun does everyday of this sound? Yippee! Can't wait to see her reaction when she finds out I signed her up for swim lessons! Yeah! I'm becoming absolutely apathetic to what she wants anymore...since it basically sums up to sitting in her room.

I really wanted to make this post about my cooking...or rather lack thereof as of late. I love to cook, but with my super small, lacking of counter space typish kitchen, it really isn't enjoyable - at all. In fact it rates right up there with trying to do things with my step-daughter. I really can't describe how little counter space I have, but the following pictures probably will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

I received a TON of great kitchen stuff for our wedding and for the Pampered Chef party I had in February - that has been either sitting around taking up space or stored away. Alanna sent me baking sheets recently, and since I've been craving cookies, and had a large bag of chocolate chips in the cupboard, well...time to try out the new materials! I decided to put my Baking stone, glassware mixing bowls, ergonomic baking sheets and Kitchenaide mixer to use - pretty much all at once - with new recipes no doubt. Lot's of big 'ifs' there.

In the menu:

Dark Chocolate/ Toffee Chip Cookies
Artisian Bread
Baked French Toast

I can only handle 3 at once with this kitchen...seriously. Wait until you see the balancing act...
This pretty much amounts to my total (at least largest) counter space:

Oh look - there's a little more next to the stove:

Taking advantage of some space on the table:

Letting the bread 'rest':

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm! This bread was SO simple to make. I would add in honey and some spices next times, but for a quick, plain white bread it's awesome! There are usually some challenges to baking at 8000 feet altitude, but I didn't have to alter anything for this recipe.

Oh! More counter space in front of the microwave! Yeah! Notice the pan is hanging off the edge...

Let me tell you how way yummy this baked french toast turned out. It was even better as leftovers!

All in all everything turned out great and all the new 'materials' I tried out worked great! And...NOTHING ended up on the floor (except a little flour)!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wind, wind and more wind...

Thank you for all the well wishes after my last post. I'm not letting myself think about it too much. It's just so sickening to me still how the chain of events played out.

The wind typically whips through the valley each spring but this year things have been a little more violent than usual. I thought everything that could blow away was put away, however nature WILL find things to destroy. When I arrived home Tuesday the chain link fence around the chicken pen was blown over. How does a chain link fence get blown over, especially when there is no resistance? When the wind is strong enough to actually move the fence into a position that there are no angles to the fencing and it falls over. Sorry there aren't any pics but I was attempting to right it in the wind.

We also have vents in various places in the ceiling of the house. They have access panels into a crawl space in the rafters. The wind blew so hard it must have somehow gotten through little nooks and crannies around the facet and literally lifted the access panels so a few were all scewed. Mind that was actually inside the house. How strong does wind have to be for that to happen?

But what takes the cake is this:
This is the skylight at the school. The wind didn't shatter the glass or blow something into it - it lifted the glass panels and blew them away. Where they landed nobody knows.
And then there's me at 24 1/2 weeks. I had my test for diabetes the morning of this picture. The results aren't in yet, but I think everything is fine. The only thing that has changed some for me is how I can have crazy energy all day until about 1 pm and then I literally want to die. Of course I still have 2 1/2 hours of classes left so that isn't an option, and then I hit my second wind at home and try to stay busy until bedtime. Getting up in the morning is getting increasingly difficult, especially since I bought myself the Leacho pillow I had posted about previously. I love it even though I wish the separation was at the bottom so when I rolled over I didn't have to lift my legs, but it is super comfortable and supportive.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sad Day

I lost my horse Docs Driften Rebel today. After various attempts to geld him (castrate him), and dealing with nasty weather, the vet and I finally scheduled today to work (I'm his assistant as he is semi-retired and I have a vet assistand background). A month or so ago we found out he was a cryptorchid (meaning only one testicle had dropped), so we scheduled an invasive, but usually uneventful surgery.

After cutting him open the vet couldn't find the testicle. He searched forever and came up with a vas deferen - not connected to anything. We both were extremely confused but decided to sew him up, take the dropped testicle and wait to see his behavior in a month or so. If nothing else his testosterone level would drop, and if he had tendencies to act stupid as a 'proud cut' (still producing hormones) horse, then the vet said he would go in through the side to try and find the missing bit up around the kidneys from a different angle.

For those of you unaware, the kidney and testicle are one and the same in utero, so when one goes 'missing' it's usually hiding up there because it never fully developed or dropped into position.

He came out of anaesthetic great, was moving around, eating some, drinking and a half hour later was dead. Somehow his intestine slipped through a less than 1/4 inch space between sutures, started filling with fluid and the brought another loop of intestine with it. Our choices were to put them back and restitch, cut them out and sew the remaining intestine together (and with two lengths this was quite long), or put him down. In my experience, and almost everyone I know who's had a horse with intestine surgery, has lost the animal. Such a large, strong animal is so surprisingly fragile when dealing with these types of wounds. It's why a twisted gut in colic almost always results in death - even after surgery.

My vet was sick about it. He felt his 'digging' around, no matter how gentle he was helped this along. He offered to perform any surgery I asked free of charge, but I just know - I just know it would have resulted in the infection that most likely was already forming, or a rupture inside later, or death of a length of intestine and then a more painful death for my colt. I had the option to haul him up to CSU after securing the already dropped intestine, but that would have taken hours and we probably would have arrived with dying intestine and a horse in a lot of pain. And with that I made a decision to put him down. I've watched too many friends with colicy horses who have gone through the surgery, think they have a great recovery going only to watch them die in pain. I couldn't do this to him because of my selfishness of wanting to try and try and try some more.

I'm sick over it. And it gets worse.

Afterwards the vet performed an autopsy. He couldn't explain the vas deferens and felt horrible as he's a family friend I've known since I moved here. He needed to know why he couldn't find something he's found hundreds of times before.

There was no second testicle. The vas deferens wasn't ruptured like he thought. It literally wasn't connected to anything. The surgery was completely unnecessary. However there was no way anyone could have known this since the odds are so completely - out there. It's like a million in one. I can get a horse that I lose in that kind of odds, but never something good. Why is that? Why at the expense of a life?

We're disgusted. I'm so sad - and the vet feels so bad over this freak occurrence he won't charge me anything since I'm tutoring his son this summer and has given me pick of his private herd to replace the horse. It's hard for me to tell him I really don't want a replacement, I want the horse I bought as a baby and spent the last three years starting back, but his heart's in the right place and I feel so bad for him even though I cannot find anyway things could have gone differently. Any other vet would have done the same thing, and Rebel could have slipped the intestine anyplace else as well. It's not like he didn't have the best of care and was watched closely. And it happened so fast, under watchful eyes. I can't imagine if I'd taken him home already. It could have happened on the trip back, or worse, overnight and then things would have been really bad in the morning. The only good thing that came out of this was that Rebel probably never was in pain. He still was slightly drugged from the surgery and most likely never felt anything. That's the only thing that I can think of that makes me feel any better.

Maybe there's a bigger picture out there, but as Rebel was a replacement to the filly that was killed three years ago, I thought he was the bigger picture - and I just can't see where this is going anymore.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Weekend Getaway!

Nate and I have decided to try and make an overnight or weekend escape more often. Of course this is depending on who can watch his daughter, but this weekend grandma was out of town and since we have no problems with grandpa she was able to stay there.

This is where we stayed in Pueblo - the Abriendo Inn Bed and Breakfast. It's an old historic building that reminds me SOOO much of many of the homes up in Houghton, MI; such as the AGD house! We stayed up on the 3rd floor. It was beautiful, quiet and relaxing...and the breakfast was super yummy! Nate also had flowers and chocolate strawberries waiting for me!

We needed to get away not just for us, but because I'm rapidly finding I have nothing to wear. I had purchased a few lots of used and new cloths off eBay, and those provided me with a pair of jean, a few capris and shorts as well as some shirts. I also ordered a few shirts from Old Navy, but found their mediums were really huge on me. Despite getting a few cute and comfortable items, I quickly found I needed to try some clothes on.

I went shopping at our local Maurice's and picked out a few drapy shirts that would last me through the pregnancy and beyond, but I wanted more.

We hit Old Navy, Kohls, Target, VC, Ross and JC Penny's. I bought 7 maternity items because there were all off about 12 racks of clothes between all of them - or non at all in the case of Old Navy. Ross actually had the best selection and what there was elsewhere looked like a bedsheet - both print and size taken into consideration.

HOWEVER - not all was lost as shirts are running to longer styles, loose and drapy styles are in, and everything was on sale this weekend. Nate bought me anything I tried on he liked and I liked and we went home with a truck full of pants, shorts, shirts, underwear and even regular sized bathing suits in larger sizes. So - thank GOD for the newer cute and comfortable styles! Old Navy in particular had a lot of different things in shirts, dresses and elastic waisted skirts. Kohls had cute shirts, JC Penny had great bathing suit options and Target had great jeans. Ross had everything and I strongly recommend that pregnant women shop there since the prices are so cheap also!

Before we drove home Nate had to run by and pick up some work items and dropped me off at Barnes and Noble. I am book starved in the valley so this is always a great treat. He always leaves me with money and then sees how far I can make it stretch...

EXCEPT .... when I walked into the store this time I was greeted by this:

It was like the holy grail of reading items shining as a beacon from the doorway. I kid you not. I was drawn to picking it up and playing against my will. Everytime I walked away I had to go back...and that's where Nate found me a half hour later, about 20 steps in the front door with one in my hand.

But - before you all think he told me to put it down and walk away...slowly....there is a story surrounding eReaders in our house. I have a billion books and everyone makes fun of me for that fact, especially when I move. Nate decided I need an eReader to save his back. Now, nothing can truly replace the feel of having a real book open in your hands, the smell and crinkles of the pages, the dog ears and favorite marked passages - BUT - there is something nice about being able to carry around more than one book at a time in a format smaller than the average novel. He bought me a Sony reader for Christmas. I didn't like it. No 3G networking, wireless, etc....I wanted a Kindle. So we returned the Sony and never bought the Kindle.

Then I walked into Barnes and Noble and saw the NOOK. I got to play with it. Talk with a sales person. Ask questions. Play with it. Try out cases and touch them. Play with it. It has a touch screen, automatic WI-FI, 3G networking, internet, freebie books, $5 to $12 book options, an extra USB reader card if you fill it up with more than 1500 titles, games, music - the list goes on!

I love it and Nate let me bring one home with me. He even picked out a case. We may not have the 3G network available in our little valley (we only have Verizon), but it can hook up to any Wi-Fi as well as the computer for downloads.

I'm a comparison freak and thought about the Kindle for years. I really wanted one and taking a NOOK home with me was almost flying blind - however, I'm very impressed and have even dealt with the customer service and was SUPER happy with how I was treated.

Two thumbs up in my world. We're broke now - but the trip was sure worth it!