Sunday, May 3, 2009


The source of Swine Flu has been discovered!!! :-)

Okay, how many of you just rolled your eyes and said to yourselves, "Not again!!!"? If you're like me, you're SO ready for this Swine Flu thing to be over and done with. I am thoroughly annoyed with the media for all the hype they're piling on this "imminent pandemic". I mean, think about it people! How many lives are lost in car accidents every day? I don't know the exact numbers, but I can say with quite a bit of certainty that there are probably more automobile related deaths EVERY DAY than the total number of deaths from Swine Flu thus far. The media has blown this thing way out of proportion. Am I concerned about Swine Flu? Yes...but I'm also concerned about regular flu, stomach "flu", the common cold, ear infections, pink eye, hang nails, ingrown toenails, and athlete's foot. Get the picture? I'm just as concerned about Swine Flu as I am about any other illness that can potentially turn serious and cause serious damage. So, what are my children and I doing to avoid Swine Flu? Well, you can bet we're not staying home from school, the grocery store, and other public places. We are not wearing silly face masks and refusing to shake hands with others. What we ARE doing is washing our hands frequently with soap and hot water. We're avoiding close proximity with people who refuse to cover their coughs and sneezes and we're making sure to cover our OWN coughs and sneezes. We're using hand sanitizer as well as those sanitizing wipes that most stores offer for wiping down the grocery cart handles. And, we're eating healthy to keep our immune systems healthy. Granted, the scientific community is saying we don't have any natural immunity to this virus, but how do we GET natural immunity? By having a STRONG immune system that is then exposed to a substance (like the Swine Flu virus) and is able to fight it off. Our immune system then continues producing antibodies to the virus and BAM! Natural immunity!!

Incidentally, did you know that the government has been pushing the idea of us getting Swine Flu vaccines since 1976?!?! Check out this YouTube video of two (ridiculous) commercials from 1976:
Hilarious, huh?
Okay, enough of my soapbox for today. Have a wonderful week. Keep watching for another post soon. Theresa had another "fun" experience that I will be telling you all about!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Foodie Survey

This survey is making the rounds over at, but since I don't have a blog there, I decided to answer the questions here in my Sanctuary. I hope you enjoy it...and feel free to copy it to your blog and insert your own answers!

1. How do you like your eggs? I like them over medium, making sure to completely cook the whites while keeping the yolks runny. There's nothing better than a piece of sourdough toast dipped in runny egg yolk!

2. How do you take your coffee/tea? I like coffee with Sweet 'n' Low and milk or with French Vanilla flavored liquid creamer.

3. Favorite breakfast food? Leftovers from dinner the night before! Actually, I don't usually eat breakfast. I get nauseated if I eat anything before about 10:30 or 11:00 in the morning.

4. Peanut butter - Smooth or crunchy? If I'm making a sandwich or spreading it on crackers, celery, etc., then smooth. If I'm making cookies or fudge, then extra crunchy.

5. What kind of dressing on your salad? Ranch, but not just ANY ranch. It has to be the kind you mix up yourself, adding the packet of powdered mix to milk and mayonnaise. The bottled stuff is just nasty.

6. Coke or Pepsi? Diet Coke with Lime. I only like diet sodas and I'd choose most generic brands before choosing Pepsi. How DID it win all those taste tests????

7. You're feeling lazy. What do you make? Reservations! Seriously, though, when I don't feel like cooking, I usually will doctor up some Top Ramen or mac and cheese with veggies, cut up hot dogs, etc.

8. You're feeling REALLY lazy. What kind of pizza do you order? Half with pepperoni and sausage (for the kids) and half with all the veggies (no bell peppers or jalapenos, though) and pepperoni (for me).

9. You feel like cooking. What do you make? That all depends on what I have on hand. I usually try to make something "new" when I really feel like being in the kitchen, so I go searching on AllRecipes for the ingredients I have and pick a recipe to try.

10. Do any foods bring back good memories? bean soup. I can remember being a little girl, sitting at my great-grandmother's table eating her wonderful navy bean soup. She would always break up her bread in her bowl of soup. It's one of the few things I remember about my great-grandmother.

11. Do any foods bring back bad memories? My mother's "noodle casserole". It was a mixture of ground beef, tomato sauce, egg noodles, and seasonings. I HATED that stuff! The only thing that made it semi-bearable was Velveeta cheese...LOTS of Velveeta cheese. The problem is that we were relatively poor, so my mom would ration the Velveeta cheese. We were allowed only two slices (and she sliced it pretty thin!), so we could choose whether to have both slices in our noodle casserole, both slices to eat out of hand, or one of each. I was never satisfied with that arrangement, because the casserole HAD to have two slices in even a small serving in order for me to be able to choke it down, but I WANTED a slice of that glorious yellow blob to eat out of hand, too! The whole rest of the family really liked noodle casserole and I now know it was one of my mom's ways of filling up the family for not too much money, but it was the bane of my existence as a child LOL!

12. Do any foods remind you of someone? Saltwater taffy reminds me of my grandfather on my mother's side (my Papa). He really liked it, so every time I'm someplace where they sell it, I buy some in honor of my grandfather. I'd LOVE to learn how to make it someday!

13. Is there a food you refuse to eat? Escargots! There is NO WAY I'm putting SNAILS in my mouth! EWWWWW!!!!

14. What was your favorite food as a child? I honestly don't remember. I wasn't ever a really picky eater, so I liked most foods.

15. Is there a food you hated as a child that you now like? I don't know that I "hated" it, but I would have to say peanut butter. I didn't like it much as a child, but now I really like it.

16. Is there a food that you liked as a child, but now hate? There are a couple, actually: Marshmallows and Conversation Hearts. I can only eat marshmallows if they are stale, frozen, or toasted and Conversation Hearts are just disgusting.

17. Favorite fruit and vegetable: Fruit - Strawberries. Vegetable - It's a tie between asparagus and artichokes.

18. Favorite junk food: Pringles Original flavor. I can eat an entire can of them in one sitting if I let myself. Second favorite would be Oreos with spray whipped cream on them. I know, I know *sigh*.

19. Favorite between meal snack: I don't usually snack between meals unless I'm baking. Then I'll sample a piece of whatever I'm baking - cookies, bread, muffins, etc.

20. Do you have any weird food habits? know those little white stringy things that are attached to the yolks of eggs? Well, I can NOT eat anything that has eggs in it if those stringy things haven't been picked out first. They remind me of umbilical cords and that just grosses me out. Also, when I'm cleaning a piece of meat, I have to remove every trace of fat, gristle, and veins, even if it means sacrificing a large portion of good meat in the process.

21. You're on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on? Ummm...I have no idea. I haven't been on a "diet" in so long. The last time I went on a diet, nothing that was "allowed" in unlimited amounts was appetizing to me, so I was hungry a lot. I guess I could fill up on green salad with lots of veggies mixed in, dressed with seasoned rice vinegar.

22. You're off your diet. Now what would you like? Almost anything that's battered and fried in boiling hot oil! Favorites would be beer battered fish and Australian battered potatoes, with deep fried Twinkies and Oreos for dessert!

23. How spicy do you order Indian/Thai? It depends on where I'm at. One local restaurant considers "mild" to mean no spice at all, so there I order "medium". Another restaurant considers "mild" to mean it barely singes your nose hairs LOL!

24. Can I get you a drink? Captain Morgan and Diet Coke, please!

25. Red or white wine? Both for cooking, but sweet red for drinking.

26. Favorite dessert? Go to and look up "Sex in a Pan II". I LOVE that dessert, but I double the whipped topping in the cream cheese layer. I also REALLY like Trishie's "Banoffee Pavlova" at that same site. DELISH!

27. The perfect nightcap? Two Benadryl and a Restoril (prescription sleeping pill). Honestly! The only way I can relax enough to sleep is if I take that combination.

Well, family and friends, now you have a little deeper look into who I am food-wise. Happy eating!!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

NEVER lend your belongings...not even to family

I apologize, but this is going to end up being a LONG story. As some of you know, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Twilight series of books. Well, for the longest time I wasn't able to read the fourth book because the libraries were always out of copies of it and I couldn't afford to buy my own copy. My daughters knew how very badly I wanted to read the book, so they did yard work for my parents to earn enough money to buy the book for me as a Christmas gift. They were so excited and proud to present me with this gift on Christmas morning that they INSISTED on giving it to me before anyone else was allowed to open their gifts (my siblings and I gather with our families for gift opening at my parents' house). I was happy to receive the book, but what made me even more happy was the look on my daughters' faces as they saw how excited I was to receive it.

Fast forward to the beginning of February. One of the Clydesdales at my sister's house had a foal, so my daughters and I went up for the day. I took the book with me. I had already read it, but I wanted to read it a second time. We ended up staying quite a bit longer than planned, because the baby horse was having a rough time, so I helped out with tube feeding, medicating, and encouraging her to get up and walk around. While we were there, my niece commented that she had not yet gotten to read the book and asked if she could borrow it. I agreed, as long as she PROMISED to take good care of it. She swore to me that she would keep it in the same pristine condition it was in (it was in almost brand-new condition). I kept the dust jacket at home so it wouldn't get torn.

Now fast forward to yesterday. My brother-in-law's b-day is next weekend, but my mother will be in Ohio, so we all got together at my sister and brother-in-law's house for his birthday dinner yesterday evening. Several times my daughters and I asked my niece for my book and she kept trying to get me to allow her to keep it until Easter, because she was almost done reading it for the sixth time. I told her I really wanted to have the book back, because I had only gotten to read it one time and it was a Christmas gift from my kids. Finally, as we were about to leave, I told her I needed her to give me the book. She reached under their coffee table (about a 3-inch space) and pulled out a book with the dust jacket on it from the third book in the series. She took off the dust jacket and handed me the book, saying "Remember, you told me you knew it was like this when you dropped it off." HUH??? Here's what my book now looks like:

The spine is broken and the cover is peeling off:

The pages are badly damaged and MOLDY!!!

Look closely - can you tell where they "tried" to clean it up with either White-Out or some kind of bleach cleaner?

More of the damage to the spine. Now, to be truthful, this area of the spine had a TINY tear in it when I loaned the book to my niece. However, the tear was NOT this bad.

My book now looks like it's more than 20 years old!!! It has obviously been dropped in water. The spine is broken, the hard cover is peeling off in several places, and the ENTIRE exposed edge of the pages is warped and MOLDY! To top it off, it appears that they TRIED to clean it with something (there are white streaks, as if they tried to use some kind of bleach cleaner on it). I was getting frustrated, but then I REALLY lost it when my sister even chimed in saying that the book was in such deplorable condition when I "dropped it off"!!! WHAT?!?!?! I had been there doing them a favor, helping with the sick baby horse when my niece ASKED if she could borrow the book!! No WONDER she wanted to keep it until Easter! She was trying to buy time to go get a replacement copy. Okay,'s just a book...but it was more than that. It was a Christmas gift from my kids that they worked HARD to earn. Now it's trash. The least my sister and niece could have done is own up to accidentally ruining it and offered to buy a new one, right?
What can I do? I can't afford to replace the book and my daughters are devastated. Theresa cried herself to sleep last night. Thanks a lot, dear sister and niece.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More Sadness

Dearest Family and Friends,

We had another sad morning today. Theresa was one of the first to get up and, upon entering the living room, she discovered that Mulgarath, the young raven we rescued last summer, had died sometime during the night. As we had only had Mulgarath for about 7-8 months, the loss isn't as painful as when O.B. passed away, but it's still sad. I think Theresa's the most devastated by it, possibly because she's the one who discovered him. I explained to her that sometimes mama birds will push their babies out of their nests because there is something wrong with them. Perhaps this is why Mulgarath was out of his nest when he shouldn't have been (we found him as a very young bird, not yet able to fly). I told Theresa that possibly something was just not right with him inside and his Mama knew that, but since we found him, we were able to give him a few more months of life than he would have had in the natural world. He brought something special into our house, so we will miss him very much. It's a nice mental image, though - him and O.B. flying around at the Rainbow Bridge together...happy, healthy, and FREE!


Friday, February 27, 2009

All Better!

Theresa had a followup visit with the surgeon this morning, 10 days after surgery to remove her appendix. Of course, that meant yet another long trip to the town where his office is, almost 1-1/2 hours from our home. Thankfully, though, the weather was cooperative this time! All we hit was a little bit of fog on the way there, but nothing to be worried about.

On the way there, as we were driving through the mountains, I glanced up at one of the hillsides and saw three deer grazing with some cattle! I quickly pointed them out to Theresa and she was able to see them before we passed them by. This was the first time she had ever seen deer in the wild, so it was really cool for her! As we were coming out of the mountains, we also saw a field of bright orange California Poppies mixed in with some lighter orange-yellow flowers and purple lupine flowers. It was SO beautiful!

We ended up getting to the surgeon's office almost an hour before our appointment time, but thankfully we didn't have to wait very long to see him. In fact, after we were done and we were driving out of the parking lot, I noticed that it was just barely our appointment time! The surgeon said everything looked good on the pathology report and that they got the stone out along with the appendix, so she shouldn't have any further troubles from it. He said her incisions were just about completely healed and even commented that her belly button was one of the best belly buttons he'd seen in a long time LOL. For those of you unfamiliar with laparoscopic appendectomies, they make an incision inside the belly button, which they insert a camera through. Then they make a much smaller incision almost directly over top of the appendix, which they insert the surgical instruments through. Everything is done through these two tiny holes and the patient is left with just one tiny visible scar, because the second scar is hidden inside the belly button.

Since we got done early, Theresa asked if we could stop off at a Farmer's Market type place that's on the way home. They have a petting zoo with about 20 of these beautiful creatures:

Isn't he handsome!!!

They also have a kids' fun zone area where kids can play. In this area is a kiddie pool filled with kernels of dried corn...kind of like a sandbox, but MUCH easier to clean out of shoes, hair, and clothing! As you can see, Theresa had a blast in the corn-box:

She was actually trying to bury herself completely, except for her face, but she couldn't get enough corn on top of her. I still think she did a pretty good job, don't you?

After Theresa finished wearing herself out in the play area, we looked around in the store for a little while, sampling all the yummy fruits, nuts, and jams they had available for sale. Since I only had a few dollars, we were only able to treat ourselves to a giant chocolate chip cookie, which we shared on the way home. Overall, it was a good day!

Thanks again to everyone who prayed for Theresa's safe surgery and quick recovery! She's back to her normal ornery self, driving me and her sister nuts and running and playing just like she did before her surgery.

God bless!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stones in the appendix? Yep, it can happen!

My goodness! I have certainly been neglecting this blog, haven't I? To any of you who might check it on a regular basis, I do apologize.

As most of you know, Theresa came to me about 4 weeks ago complaining of pain in the lower right side of her abdomen. Of course, my mind leaped immediately to appendicits, so we went straight to the ER. They did blood work, urinalysis twice, and a CAT scan with IV and oral contrast. They told us that everything looked appendicitis, no ovarian cysts, nothing at all appearing to be wrong. They said she could have had a very tiny kidney stone that she had passed or that it even could have been a virus. The next morning, Theresa woke up screaming that her side was hurting much worse, so back to the ER we went, where they stuck us in "The Annex", which is a building where they put the patients when they want to forget about them. I'm not exaggerating. We were there for almost 6 hours and all they did was a urinalysis (AGAIN). We saw a doctor when we first arrived and then didn't see so much as a nurse or medical assistant until I went asking what the heck was taking so long and they sent someone to discharge her. They still said everything was fine and she should take Motrin for the pain.

A couple of days later, Theresa seemed to be feeling better, so we figured the ER staff had been correct in assuming it had been a virus or a small kidney stone. However, when we went for a followup visit with her pediatrician and he obtained a copy of the CAT scan report, he said it showed an "appendicolith", or a stone in her appendix. He said he wanted to refer her to a surgeon, because often they will want to remove the appendix when there is a stone in it. The reason for this is because, if it is not removed, it can potentially cause a blockage, which in turn causes appendicitis and possibly a ruptured appendix.

We went last Friday (February 13, 2009) to see the surgeon and, sure enough, he scheduled her for surgery in his next "elective surgery" slot - this morning at 7:30 a.m.

The hospital and surgeon's office are on the opposite side of a mountain range from our home and a BIG snowstorm was due to blow through Monday afternoon and evening. Because of this, my parents offered to rent us a hotel room near the hospital so we could beat the storm over the mountains. We made it ahead of the bulk of the snow and spent the afternoon with my parents cruising the local mall and having dinner at our favorite fast food joint - Arby's. I had to call the hospital after 6 p.m. to find out what time we needed to arrive the next morning for Theresa's surgery. They said to be there at 5:30 a.m.!!! YIKES! I was SO glad we had ended up staying the night close to the hospital rather than trying to drive up there this morning. We would have needed to leave home no later than 4 a.m. to get there in time!

After returning to the motel Monday evening, Theresa mentioned she had a bad headache. She gets migraines occasionally, so I thought "Oh great!" I gave her a Tylenol, because that was all I was allowed to give her so close to surgery time. She promptly threw up the Tylenol along with everything she had eaten for dinner. I feel SO bad for the hotel housekeeping staff member that had to clean our room! Fortunately, she had thrown up in the bathroom and I was able to clean it up with the towels, but poor Housekeeping had to deal with those nasty towels. Theresa's migraine continued through the night and into the next morning, with her waking up at regular intervals with dry heaves because she had nothing left in her tummy to throw up. I felt so helpless, because all I could do for her was keep a cool cloth available for her to put over her face.

After we arrived, the nurse escorted us into the prep and holding area, where they got Theresa changed into a hospital gown (they close better in the back now!) and took her vital signs. OH NO! She had a temperature of 100.7, so now they were worried that maybe the surgeon would want to postpone the surgery. I mentioned that she had a migraine and also that she has always been very hot when she sleeps, ever since she was a baby. They started an IV and ran some fluids into her, which brought her temperature down a tiny bit, but not much. Thankfully, though, the surgeon felt the risk of leaving her appendix in there any longer was greater than the risk of doing surgery while she had a low-grade fever. FINALLY, after we had been there for almost two hours, they were able to give her some medication for pain and something to relax her (fentanyl and Versed). My parents and I followed her up to the second floor, where they directed us into a waiting room while she went into the OR.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention, my parents bought her a HUGE stuffed dog, which they gave her last night, and explained to her that it was to be used to cushion her tummy if she needed to cough after surgery. My father had his gallbladder removed several years ago and he remembered that they gave him a "Charlie pillow" for this very use, so that's why they bought her the dog. They told her it's name was "Charlie". The anesthesiologist was so nice. He let her take the stuffed dog into the OR with her and hold onto it until she was asleep. Then they made sure it was tucked right next to her when she woke up in Recovery.

The surgery took about 40-50 minutes and the surgeon came out to let us know everything went well and that Theresa was in Recovery. A little over an hour later, a medical assistant came out to let me know I could go in to see Theresa. Just as I was getting into the holding area outside of Recovery, a nurse was handing Theresa an orange Popsicle. Poor baby, she would take a little lick of it and then start to fall asleep, and then kind of jolt awake and take another little lick. I finally told her she could bite it if she wanted to, so she took a couple bites and then said she was done. The nurse came in and said I could help Theresa get dressed and then she could be discharged! WOW! That was fast!! We had gone shopping on Sunday for some new extra-big jammies for her to wear after her surgery so she wouldn't have anything pushing too tightly on her tummy. She picked a cute pair of High School Musical pajamas that were black with different shades of pink and a picture of the main cast members on the shirt. I helped her into her new "going home outfit", noticing that she had only two small small that they are covered up by regular Band-Aids. After she was all dressed and had her jacket on, they brought a wheelchair to take her out to the car. She slept most of the way home, waking up only long enough to ask me "Where are we?" two or three times. Because I needed to fill a prescription for her pain medication and go pick up Michaela at her friend's house, we went to my parents' house for a while, so Theresa could just rest while I did the necessary errands. We got home at about 5:00 this evening and she immediately went to bed. I don't think she's going to be bouncing off the walls for a few days!

I want to thank everyone for your wonderful thoughts and all your prayers for Theresa's safe surgery. Please continue to pray that she will have a swift recovery and be back to her normal self quickly.

God Bless!!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Tragedy

They call it Black Friday. Well, today that name took on a whole new meaning. Three minutes after the Valley Stream, NY, WalMart opened it's doors this morning, chaos reined. No, I don't mean the chaos of shoppers rushing for the best deals in town. I mean people getting injured...and one man DYING! In the rush to get to ridiculously small quantities of low-priced items available for only a few hours, people knocked fellow shoppers to the ground and caused a 34-year-old TEMPORARY employee to die. Wow, now that's what I call "the Holiday Spirit".

Are you horrified yet? Well, gets better! After the incident, the store closed its doors to incoming shoppers. But, what about the customers already inside? Well, they were allowed to continue their shopping, make their purchases, and then were escorted out of the store! WHAT?!?!? People were getting injured and even DYING, and the store continued to conduct business?!?!? I have been a loyal WalMart customer for more years than I can remember, but I refuse to continue to be loyal to a corporation that places profits higher than someone's life on their list of priorities.

I sent WalMart's corporate office a nasty e-mail this morning, explaining to them that I understand that news stories can get things wrong, but the basic facts in this story are the same. I told them that I was disgusted at the way the store handled the situation and that I would no longer be a WalMart customer, but would take my business to Target from now on. I demanded that they do NOT reply with the canned "We are very sorry for this tragedy" bullshit they always spout off with whenever something terrible happens. I told them that their Valley Stream store's actions this morning spoke MUCH louder than words ever could.

If you are interested in sending WalMart's corporate office a message regarding your thoughts and feelings about this morning's tragedy, here is a link to their feedback web site:

Have a blessed day,