Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Time Is Here

It has been a long time since Peter and I have decorated for Christmas. When I think about it....I think 2003 was the last year.

2007 - I was very pregnant (38 weeks & with dislocated ribs!) and we had just moved into our apartment....so decorating was last on our list
2006 - We lived in Valpo and always came home for most of December....and all our decorations were in storage areas
2005 - See 2006
2004 - See 2005

So put on Christmas music....which is forbidden in our house until after Thanksgiving and pulled out our pathetic fake 3-foot tree and decorated it. We (Peter) only broke one ornament!
I love snowmen and collect them. Apparently I have accumulated more than I remember.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Guyliner

There has been a massive change in the roles of men and women in the past 20 years. I think that men are being feminized and women are being masculinized. I feel like I could write an 80 page thesis on this topic so I will just periodically touch on various points.

Guyliner and Manscara are relatively new additions to the male fashion....most common with Emo punks, musicians, and those "misunderstood" adolescent attention seekers. I think this form of individual expression crosses the line. Guys don't even need to steal makeup out of their sister's makeup anymore because they now have their own product.
There are, however, instances when guyliner is both appropriate and necessary.

1. Clowns
Clowns need guyliner to compliment their gi-mungus red noses and freaky white faces. Side Note: I happen to hate clowns. Any person who thinks that someone with a creepy white face, colored cotton candy hair, size 20 shoes, and who wears ridiculous over-stimulating frilly outfits is supposed to create happy feelings in unsuspecting innocent children is delusional. Clowns are scary. I always hated Bozo....his games were lame too....whoo-hoo...throw the ball in the bucket....he couldn't even juggle...what a lame clown. I blame my personal hatred on the movies such as It, Batman, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

2. Pirates
I'm not sure the origin of pirates' dark eyes....maybe its supposed to be dirt. Whatever the reason.....it doesn't bother me and I excuse it without further explanation. Plus, its awesome to speak pirate.....Arrrrgg! National Talk Like A Pirate Day is September 19th....please take note and pencil it in yerrrr calendarrrrs for 2009!

3. Rock Band Members
Clearly this is part of their stage presence. It can also be easily argued that they take massive amounts of illegal drugs that inhibit their common sense and impair their judgement. Plus, they would look pretty ridiculous with just the outfits and no make up. Non-rock band member men who wear such outfits with no makeup are usually arrested.

4. Mimes
This might be a sub-category of clowns. I might hate mimes more than clowns. I do NOT find the I-can't-speak-and-there-is-an-imaginary-wall-in-front-of-my-face-so-I-will-do-that-stupid-open-hand-wall-press-motion amusing in any way. It makes want to push them to the ground just to see if the imaginary wall will go away. And what's with the black and white stripes? Are they supposed to be in jail? I would not care if mimes ceased to exist.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Heart Goodwill

My GI issues have had a few side effects. One of them is weight loss. Since almost nothing in my closet fit anymore, I decided that I needed a wardrobe overhaul. Well.....it desperately needed it anyways. I am unwilling to buy and unable to afford all new clothes so I decided to head to Goodwill. I know some people are weirded out by buying used clothes....but I am not and can not afford to be. I found some awesome (all name brand) new-to-me clothes and with a few sale purchases from Target and Kohls....have formed myself a great "new" wardrobe.

On a side note, Goodwill also has businesses that donate stuff too....so they are new items. For example, I bought 2 new pairs of earrings from Charlotte Russe for only $0.50 each. They also have huge stocks of brand new Christmas wrapping paper and gift wrap. I always feel like I spend way too much money on gift wrap.

My New Wardrobe

Goodwill
2 Pairs of Jeans (Buz Jones Jeans, Gap...both appear to be never worn)
5 Skirts (Express, Gap, Aeropostale, Guess)
2 Sweaters (JCrew)
4 Shirts (Calvin Klein, Aeropostale, Banana Republic)
1 Pair Knee Socks (new)
2 Earrings (new - Charlotte Russe)
2 Rolls of Christmas Wrapping Paper (new)
Total Items: 18
Total Cost - about $50.00

Target
2 Pairs of Tights
Total Items: 2
Total Cost - about $10.00

Kohls
2 pairs of tights
Total Items: 2
Total Cost - about $10.00

Please Note:
I did have to go to 2 different Goodwills & visit one of them 3 times to find all my purchases....so please don't think that I had all this success on 1 chance visit. Overall, I found more luck in the jeans/skirt department than the tops...which seemed to be more slim pickings. And I did have to repair the zipper one of the jeans and replace a button on one of the skirts...but it was well worth it.

Ranch Shots Anyone?

Does anyone have a restaurant that they provide repeat business to based on one menu item? For example, I'm not a huge fan of Applebees, but their Apple Walnut Chicken Salad will always bring me in again. Another example for me is ranch dressing. There are a few places that may not have excellent food, but the ranch is just drinkable. To name a few...Good Time Charlies (Ann Arbor), Cottage Bar (Grand Rapids), and Red Robin. These are all places that I have seriously considered taking a shot of their ranch because its that delicious. Who cares if the burgers or chicken entrees are terrible....I say just order some fries or random appetizer, a huge vat of Ranch and go to town.

I got to know the owners of a Red Robin when I was a teller in Valparaiso, IN because we shared a parking lot. And....they shared their ranch secret with me and now I am letting the world in on this secret. They buy the Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Packets and follow the directions on the back. Combine 1 cup buttermilk, 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 packet of ranch...stir and chill....SOOOO EASY!! And oh so delicious!!! Whenever I make Ranch....we consume it with everything! Grilled chicken, french fries, salads, fresh cut veggies, sandwiches, quesadillas, burgers, etc.

So some of you might wonder...okay Rach, so I bought this container of buttermilk and I only used 1 cup....sweet, now the rest of it will go to waste. Not to worry...whenever I make a fresh batch of ranch, I always make these super easy buttermilk pancakes!! mmmm....pancakes....

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt) in bowl. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients (egg, milk, oil). Then add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir till moistened (batter should be slightly lumpy)

Cook on lightly greased surface. This makes about 6 (5 inch) pancakes...which is perfect for our family. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey Hats

I have been watching my nephew Henry a few times a week (in the morning) since this past May. It has been lots of fun with him around and his vocabulary seems to double every visit. Sofia loves it because she is a bit older and can take on the leader role. She's the youngest of the preschool aged kids on the other side of the family....so she's usually a follower. Recently, its been a little more crazy now that Stella is mobile and since they are all about 15 months apart....definitely a handful! I usually try to do some sort of craft or organized activity during Stella's morning nap. Today was Turkey Hats. Here are a few pictures from this past summer too.

May 2008 - Playing Connect Four - Pretty sure they didn't understand the game, but flipping the switch and making them fall out was fun.

August 2008 - They loved to color chalk pictures on the fence, deck, stones, trees....pretty much any surface that they could find.
September 2008 - Crowns fit for kings and queens.

October 2008 - Painting pumpkins

November 2008 - Turkey Hats!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shoulda Known

I put this weighted laundry basket in front of the dresser in Stella's room so she doesn't open all the drawers and somehow injure herself. This was a great idea until Stella decided that it wasn't.
Please note how her feet are on the very edge of the laundry basket in order for her to achieve maximum height. Nevermind the giant box fan in arms reach. I should have known better.

It Made Me Giggle

Earlier this month when the weather was warm and beautiful my dad took out a soccer ball for Sofia and him to kick around, but it was flat. Here is their quick conversation.

Marlin: Hey Fia, bring that (soccer ball) here, and I can pump [motions pumping a ball]

Fia: No! You can't pump PopPop

Marlin: Sure I can, why not?

Fia: You don't have big BooBoos (breasts), so you can't pump!

Apparently, the only pump my daughter knows about is my breast pump.

Friday, November 21, 2008

On the Line

Everyone has a moment in their life where they sit on a line of total awesomeness and severe nerdom. I will use my brother Josh as an example. Josh excels in endurance sports that require most people to train for several months before entering races and competitions. For example, he randomly signed up for a 1/2 marathon. He easily finished with an average 7 1/2 minute mile without 1 day of training or preparation. This my friends, is incredibly awesome. Also, when he found out his racing number was 1984, he decided to dress accordingly. (YES!!)

Now some of you might think that I am going to say that this picture would push him over the line into extreme nerdom....but ironically, I would argue that it pushes his coolness status even higher. A special thanks to my brother for being a great example. Don't take yourself too seriously because (most of the time) you're not really that important anyways. Have a laugh, you'll be a happier and better person.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Megyn Please!

When it comes to TV entertainment, I think people are more critical of unattractive women than unattractive men. Maybe I stand alone on this statement, but I feel that women (in general) need to score pretty high in all physical appearance categories before cameras start rolling. News channels, however, always seem to get a different rating scale because the news is received more as an informative viewing experience than as entertainment. I guess some people feel what whatever is lacking in physical appearance should be easily compensated with intelligence. Please don't think that I need everyone on TV to be beautiful, but the phrase "that's a face for radio" exists for a reason. You can't argue with me when I say that some people are just more enjoyable to watch. For example, if I am watching a terrible film, I would probably tolerate more if the main character was David Beckham than if it was Weird Al Yankovic. In the news category, Megyn Kelly is the best of both worlds. At first glance, one might think she was hired as one of those HBO half-time lingerie powderpuff mudbowl segments. This is certainly not the case. She has a law degree from Albany Law School and is far from ditzy. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks she's awesome.

Tips From Rachel's Deli


My husband always tells me that I should open a deli because he enjoys my sandwiches. I always tell him that squishing deli meat and cheese between two slices of bread does NOT display any kind of culinary ability. But when he makes me a sandwich and I really do get just meat and cheese between two slices of plain bread....I will be honest and admit that I my sandwiches might be tasty. We are, like most, on a budget so buying gourmet ingredients is not always an option. So here are some of my criteria for an excellent sandwich.

1. Decent Bread
This is definitely where is all starts. I like baguette style with a crusty outside and somewhat softer and airy inside. Watch out for bread that is too dense. Dense bread can distract from other flavors and textures and also get stuck to the insides of your front teeth when you bite down....I hate that. Day-old bread from any local Jimmy Johns is only 50 cents and does the trick. I enjoy using JJ's bread and popping it in the oven for toasted version of your favorite sandwich.

2. Good Meat and Cheese Combos
This is also a very key element to a good sandwich. There is a reason why ham has always been paired with Swiss to form a flavor classic. Expensive deli meats and cheeses are not totally necessary, bit its very important to properly pair the flavors. For example, I would never put cheddar with salami. The sharp cheddar flavor would compete and offset the meat. Salami needs saltier counterpart like Provolone. My favorite combos are Salami/Ham/Provolone, Turkey/Havarti, & Chicken Breast/Gouda. Also, bacon makes everything better.

3. Meat Must be THINLY sliced
I always get my deli meat sliced very thin. I prefer it to be so thin that it is just on the verge of falling apart. I don't know why, but I swear it makes it taste better. Maybe its a texture thing....just like how Prosciutto also needs to be sliced paper thin. Also, get it wrapped in butcher paper (if possible) because it keeps the meat from getting slimy.


4. A Cold and Fresh Crunch

This is what sets apart a great sandwich from a good sandwich. Chilled veggies add delicious crunch, flavor and texture. I hate the shredded lettuce that come on Subway and Jimmy John subs. I like large pieces of Romaine. I also like thin slices of cucumber and tomato. Be sure to add pinch of salt on the tomato and cucumber. Basil is a good pairing with mozzarella...but go easy on fresh basil because it's flavor can be overwhelming. You can even branch out and try a thin apple slice.

5. Condiments
Peter isn't much of a condiment guy, but I know most people do enjoy them. He does, however, enjoy ranch or Italian dressing. I enjoy hummus (because hummus is yummus!) or a thin layer of Dijon.


6. Layering
I always layer very thin cheese slices between the meat and bottom bread and also between the lettuce and top bread. This protects the bread should their be any moisture from the meat or from the tomato or lettuce. Also, if the bread it toasted, then it allows for cheese meltage....mmmm.

7. Hunger
This is easily the most important factor in making a delicious sandwich. Everything tastes better when you are hungry. This is why I am convinced that Peter would like just about anything I make him when he is hungry.

I have so much more to write about sandwiches, but this is already a long enough post. I'm sure no one really cares about sandwiches, but I love food preparation so this was mostly for me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Sometimes I feel like when I've accomplished a task, I turn around to find that another much larger task has been created. For example, the other day I made Fia's lunch and as soon as I was done, I turned around to find that Stella had found my basket of folded clothes and dispersed them all over my room.

Here she is making her guilty getaway....take note of the pleased look on her face.


Sorry about the lighting....again, my camera is old. She is at it again, but I caught some of it on video this time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Where It All Began

I absolutely HATE being frightened. I am a total wuss when it comes to scary movies. I absolutely hate them and can NOT watch them....even if they are pathetic and old....or if the plot line is completely implausible....or if the characters or monsters are 100% CGI. Horror movies are absolutely not an option. Pretty much all Halloween movies (except Charlie Brown: Its The Great Pumpkin) are also not allowed. I also sometimes won't watch suspense/thriller movies or murder mysteries because I can't handle it. I know its silly, but I am incapable of getting images out of my head when I lay down to sleep. I believe this all began in when I was 6 and they showed Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in school. I had nightmares of this very video clip for months and reoccurring nightmares for years to follow. Yes, make fun of me....its okay.


In my defense....I still think that their orange faces, orange lips, white eyebrows, and green hair are a little scary. I now realize that it was most likely scared because I loved sweets and chewing gum. I was afraid that I was either going to inflate into a blueberry or that those freaky tiny men were going to take me away. Its kind of a valid fear for a 6-year-old.

Irregardless

Irregardless

Okay folks, this is NOT a word! It is formed by two legitimate words:

Irrespective - Without regard to something else, esp. something specified; ignoring or discounting, showing disregard for persons or consequences, without considering

Regardless- Despite; not being affected by something. Actioned in a way which shows no consideration for a subject or the status of a situation.

Whenever I hear someone say this word I almost immediately stop listening because the education level of the conversation just went down to that of a 1 year old. If you are one of the fools who thinks this is a word, please remove it from your vocabulary immediately and save yourself some embarrassment.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Little Monkey

I know I keep repeating myself, but I am constantly amazed at how different my girls are. I am not just talking about their physical appearances. I am mostly talking about what kind of person they are. Stella is so active that I am just waiting for her to break a bone or really get hurt. She especially loves to climb up, in, and out of things. The other day she somehow climbed all the way up on to Sofia's bed. She was so pleased with herself.....but all that means to me is that I have to put those steps next to a blank wall. She is constantly covered in bumps and bruises.

We put up a gate in her room and baby-proofed it so we can let her have independent play. The other day, I walked by an empty room. My stomach dropped, until I saw this.


She has also learned how to crawl out of her walker.


I can't empty or load the dishwasher with her around because she is always grabbing for knives, forks, or other random sharp objects....or just crawling in it.



Stella terrorizing her sister. She loves to crawl up her chair and grab her food, juice, and fork. I was lucky in this particular instance because I gave Fia a cup with a lid.

Taking Strides

Stella has been cruising for some time now. I knew she could probably walk, but she found crawling to be more efficient. A few weeks ago, it seems that a she flipped a switch and decided that crawling was for babies. I was at Pati's house and she was sitting on a step and just stood up and walked over to me. Sofia's walking progress began as 1 or 2 steps and then falling. Stella's first independent walking experience was an easy 4 or 5 steps without falling. She can now easily get up by herself without an aid of a table or wall. Its been difficult to catch it on video because everytime I get it out, she wants to eat it or destroy it. (the latter is more likely)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Enlighten Me

Football season is into full swing again. Every year I find myself asking the same question....why do football players slap each other on the butt? I suppose I could reason this type of behavior with a sport that involves less testosterone overload....such as gymnastics or curling. I am utterly confused by this gesture and can't seem to get an answer from my any of my male friends. So someone...please enlighten me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Laugh In the Face of Danger!!!

I am really starting to understand how spoiled I was with my first child and how incredibly mellow she is. Sofia would always sit quietly and play with whatever I gave her. Stella is a mover and shaker. She is not content to sit still and play with toys. I honestly believe that she evaluates every scenario and thinks "What is the most hazardous item I can grab? How can I put myself in the most danger?" I am thankful we do not have any steps.

She loves to play on the one tiny step by Sofia's bed. She falls off all the time....cries....and then gets right back on it.


The other day she broke the top step. I put it out of her reach and ran (literally....ran) into the other room to grab a screwdriver.


I came back seconds later and this is what I found. She was actually on the step....on the table. I will never assume she can't get up on to things again.

My Curse

I made a short trip to Meijer tonight to pick up a few items. This is always a feat for me now that Stella is older and happens to be the squirmiest baby on earth. No, she will not sit in the cart or on my hip. My only option is to strap my Tazmanian Devil in the Baby Bjorn. By the time I have grabbed my few items, Stella is flailing her arms, kicking her legs, and trying to somehow wiggle out of the carrier. Its time to leave. My real problem arises when it is time to chose the checkout lane. Why is it that every time I go shopping I choose the worst checkout line? It seems that no matter what tactic I use, I always end up in the lane with a price check, jammed receipt paper, employee in training, or the arthritic lady writing a check. Sometimes I think I can avoid the wait and quickly change lanes before I have to unload, but then complications arise in the new lane and I would have been better off staying put. This is my curse.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Liver Biopsy Results

Well I had my follow up appointment with my GI doctor today. Here are the conclusions

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or Ulcerative Colitis (UC) Problems
Test markers reveal that I definitely have IBD. The medication that I am taking right now seems to be working. I will continue on the same medication for an undetermined amount of time (1-2 years) to hopefully send the IBD back into remission. We believe the few days of high fever were an unrelated sickness...just my weak immune system.




Liver and Biliary Problems
The liver biopsy did not show any scarring - which would rule out fibrosis and cirrhosis (this is excellent news). The biopsy did, however, show some inflammation. The type of inflammation is similar to someone takes lots of herbal supplements. Because I do not take any type of supplement....we will keep a close eye on it.




Are They Two Problems Related?
My doctor believes there might be some correlation between the two problems, but does not want to jump to immediate conclusions. Maybe my liver enzymes will go down as my colitis gets better.

What Now?
I will continue my medication for colitis and we will continue to monitor my liver enzymes. If the enzymes do not go down, then I might go to Mayo to see a liver specialist in order to get a 2nd opinion and find some answers (What is causing my liver inflammation? What is the severity of the overall situation? etc). We are being very methodical about how we approach everything because jumping right into more testing, procedures, and surgery usually cause more problems and complications.

How Am I Feeling?
I am feeling much better these days. I am slowly getting more energy each day. The two root canals, days of high fever, and broken toe were definitely set backs that put me in a bad mood. But those are all past and I am very positive about the near future. I feel closure on 1/2 of my GI problems and am happy that I have a medication to help it.


Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers.

Whatever You Gotta Do

Sofia is a very well-mannered girl. She is a good listener and helper. I don't need to remind her to use words like "please" and "thank you". She also fully understands respect, responsibility, consideration, and kindness. But sometimes, its just easier to be a kid and do whatever you gotta do.
When I asked her about his picture, she simply said "Well mom....I had a giant bogey."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

9.5 Months - Side by Side

Stella is just over 10 months now. She is finally starting to walk. I'll post a video of her first steps later. Here is another side by side of the girls at almost exact ages - 9 1/2 months. I think if Stella had more hair, then they might look a little more like sisters. I just can't believe Stella is still bald....at least she has a nice shaped noggin.

Jaundice....Who Me?

Every time I have spoken to a doctor in the last 8 months I am always subjected to an in-depth Q & A session. Mostly, I am giving them a run down of my symptoms for the last 8 months while they occasionally throw in a question. My favorite question always goes like this "Have you noticed any yellow coloring in your skin?"

Ummm......no comment


For the Record: This question will always be funny to me

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh No, the Gyno!!

WARNING!

THIS POST IS DIRECTED TOWARDS FEMALES
Once a girl turns 18, she becomes an official member of a not so elite club of women who are forced to have a yearly "woman doctor" visit. I hate these for many reasons that extend beyond my small list, but here are my personal top 3 reasons. Maybe some of you can relate.

Top Reasons 3 Why I Hate the Woman Doctor

#3 The Wait
I must wait for 1/2 hour before they call my name, why do they tell me to arrive at 1:00, when they won't call my name till 1:30? And then another 1/2 hour in a freezing and windowless room that carries hints of strange and unknown odors....where I am then forced to strip completely naked, hide under a very thin smock, and sit on a giant piece of wax paper and await my doom. Why is my only distraction giant female anatomy posters and pictures?

#2 Urine Sample
I am told to try and "collect" a urine sample into a plastic cup the size of a shot glass. Why has someone not invented a female urine sample cup? As I struggle to "direct" my sample into the cup, it always fills immediately and I am forced to halt midstream and delicately put my cup on the ground without spilling....all while maintaining the "public restroom squat" position. If I wanted a thigh workout, then I would go to the gym.

#1 "Just Relax"
My doctor or nurse always tells me to "just relax". Excuse me for being tense. I am focused on the fact that my feet are in stirrups and someone is "examining" my female parts. Meanwhile, they just violated me with a metal foreign object, cranked it open like a pop-top camper, and now are about to "collect" a sample using a 12-inch mascara wand. I realize they are surrounded with female stuff everyday, but I am not. So NO, I will not "just relax", it is not an option.
 

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