Thursday, June 28, 2012

Making Decisions

I always feel like I have to apologize for my absence in blog posting.  But the truth is... sometimes it's nice to take a break!  Life happens and sitting down to THINK and type things out on the computer isn't always on my agenda!  But today, I thought I'd give it a whirl!

I am 13 wks pregnant.  If I didn't have that little widget on my sidebar to the right - I wouldn't be able to keep track!  Along with heartburn, exhaustion and nausea... I have been battling the dreaded throwing up.  I was hoping to avoid it... as I did while pregnant with Eloise... but as it turns out, crying makes me throw up.  And, as you can imagine, with the passing of my grandma... I have done a bit of crying.  Also, I think I may have mentioned a little in my last post about our decision of whether or not to add on to our little house. 

It has been one nightmare after another.  We had everything set to add on to the right side.  2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a laundry room.  We decided to cut down a giant pine tree right behind our house before construction started.  We had already had 3 contractors come out to bid the job and we were just waiting on getting all of the numbers back.  So, we called in a tree guy to have the tree cut.  While there, he noticed that the one tree to the right of our driveway was a safety hazard.  It literally crackled in the wind because it was just dead.  He advised that it be cut down and said he could do it while he was there.  We were all for it, not wanting a dead tree to fall on our car(s) or eventually our addition!

A few days later, our 83 yr old neighbor came over (she isn't home often because she lives 3 out of 4 weeks at her boyfriends house).  The first words out of her mouth when my husband went to the door, "You cut my tree down."  Not, "Hi!" or "I noticed you were having trees cut."  It was just flat out... and then she asked, "Are you going to cut down any of my other trees?".  I honestly was eaves dropping a little and probably rolling my eyes a bit too.  We thought the tree was on our property.  And she admitted that she knew it was dead but didn't want to spend the money to cut it down.  So we actually saved her the money of either having to cut it or pay for any damages it may have caused if ever it fell!  Anyway... Cory handled things and she demanded a property survey if we were going to add on.  (UGH!)  But, we figured we probably should have it done... so we had some people come in.  We thought we knew where the posts/lines were from a previous survey.  Turns out, THAT guy had it WRONG!  So, not only did we find out that the trees on the side of our driveway aren't ours, we found out that our chicken coop wasn't even on our property!!  (Hence, we got rid of the chickens, which we were planning to do anyway - but just sped the process up).  *sigh*  From there... the nightmare continued.  We couldn't build an addition on the side because of code/variances about how close you can build to another person's property line (Now that we didn't own as far over as we thought we did!).  So, we tossed around the idea of adding on to the rear of our house.  We had drawings done, talked to the contractors again... and we are still waiting on bids.... but there are so many issues with building on the back.  Cory and I just can't seem to feel settled with the designs or the amount of money we would expect to spend.  It's a huge decision.

So, all of that to say... I've been emotional lately... which adds to my pregnancy symptoms!  It has not been fun!  We are looking at possibly buying another house... but that brings up the issue of leaving the only little house that Eloise has known.  The memories of her running around the corner to greet Daddy at the door... or sitting at the bottom of the steps and swinging her legs.  I know they are memories and they will keep - and we would make new memories wherever we go - but sometimes the idea of letting go is rough.

Please keep us in your prayers as we try to decide what is best for our family.  We know that God provides... and we are thankful to have a roof over our heads!  It's just deciding which roof is best that we need to feel at peace about!

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Final Goodbye.. x2

Today is the Memorial Service for my grandma.  We will gather as a family and pay our final respects.  Share some memories, laugh, cry.  It will be bittersweet.  I know that some are taking it harder than others, but hopefully it will be a sense of closure as well. 

Please pardon my absence this week.  It has been hotter than Hades around here and we've been trying to stay cool in front of the fan!  A/C is not common in homes where we live... unless you count a window unit or two... and we haven't put ours in.  So, the fan it is!  (Or multiple fans, if needed!)  We also got a new camera and so I have been procrastinating on getting the pictures uploaded.  I finally made time to... and thought I would share some pics from the past week or so!

Watching Daddy hang clothes out on the line.  He takes good care of us!

We went out to eat with my parents for Father's Day... 
and of course, had to play the crane game!
Eloise won!

 Eloise "reading" her Father's Day card to Daddy!

Chasing the cat is always a fun past time around here!

Eloise and our neighbor... they love her like a granddaughter! 
Currently, Eloise is fascinated with sunglasses.
They gave her this pair.


 Eloise loves black bean soup.  
She ate 4 bowls last night for dinner!
(Small bowls, of course)

And finally... 


Today we say goodbye to our feathered friends.
I haven't posted about what's been going on at our house...
to make a long story short... we are adding on and
it's been one headache after another.
In our efforts to cut costs, even in small places,
we say goodbye to "The Girls".
We have someone coming to get them this evening.
Thankfully, my mom and sister get enough eggs from their
chickens that we'll never be in short supply!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Heavy, Happy Heart

My grandma began to show signs of Alzheimer's a few years ago.  It was a little bit at first, as I'm sure it always starts out that way... there were some family members who seemed to be in denial, though I can't really say for sure.  My grandma was, of course, in denial.  But as time passed, it was truly obvious and eventually, my grandma didn't even remember that she had anything to deny.

All in all, though a horrible disease, the Alzheimer's was a blessing.  It was hard to watch my grandma decline.  It was little things at first - forgetting times, names, etc... but it finally got to the point where she didn't know what to do with herself during the day.  She couldn't cook anymore, didn't really know how to clean anymore... and she would often just take walks back the road.  She had had her knee replaced not long before and would talk about getting her exercise so that one day she would run again, just like Jesus promised.  Sometimes I would walk with her or invite her into my house, since I lived on that road.  Sometimes we would go to my parents house (next door at the time) for dinner and she would repeat herself in conversation.  My parents and I would exchange glances, but just roll with it.

They say that some people get violent and angry as Alzheimer's creeps into their brain.  We were blessed that grandma took on a child-like innocence.  The situation brought the family closer together, bit by bit.  There was an effort keep grandma safely occupied during the day.  She would spend time with my aunt at her beauty salon (she liked to sweep the floors) or at my dad's garage (she liked to sweep the waiting room floor).  Eventually, it became too much for her to live at home, though my (step)grandpa was there.  He was not able to help her in the ways she needed, and quite frankly, he didn't have the patience.  The family decided it was best for her to go into a lock-down Alzheimer's Unit at a local nursing home.  They were wonderful!  She had her own room and we were able to visit.  Again, bringing the family a bit closer together since there was so much effort made in being there for grandma.  She didn't just go into the home to sit and rot.  She went in and constantly had visitors.  We were allowed to sign her out for the day, which I often did when I came to town each week.  Since I wasn't working (I was el-preggo with Eloise), it was convenient for me to pick grandma up and take her to my dad's garage where we would spend the day with my sister, her kids, my mom and dad (in between their work, of course).  We would laugh at the kids, have lunch and snacks.  Grandma would sweep the floors or wash windows to keep herself busy.  I look back and am thankful for those times.  Even though she wasn't in her right mind, she was still grandma.

Of course, she steadily declined.  She couldn't remember my name at my baby shower and had to be taken back to the home early because she was getting agitated over little things.  Soon after, she had to be moved to another part of the nursing home because she required different care than what the lock-down had to offer.  We visited her on Christmas Day 2010 and she was alert and talked to us.  She told me that she loved me.... I wasn't able to visit again after that until February, because I had just had Eloise in January and couldn't make the hour drive.  When I did finally see her, she had done a 180.  She was no longer up and walking around.  She lay in bed or in a chair and mostly slept.  Over time her hands started to twist and she was in a lot of pain.  She couldn't feed herself, bathe herself, etc.  My aunt became very dedicated about coming in to help feed her lunch... meanwhile making friends with other residents and building relationships.  Those folks began to look forward to her coming and bringing them coffee, treats, doing a crossword puzzle with them, and most of all... looking forward to her friendship.  My other aunt, uncle and my dad would visit after work in the evenings and other family members and friends here and there.  Honest to goodness, I believe our family was the most devoted to coming in and spending time with her.  It is sad to see how many people put their folks in a nursing home and then never stop to visit.  

The past couple of weeks, grandma declined rapidly.  She stopped eating and we knew it was only a matter of time.  Her wishes were to not have a feeding tube, not be resuscitated, etc.  Eloise and my nephew went with me this past Wednesday to see her.  My aunt was popping popcorn for some of the residents.  There were old folks wheeling themselves down from other floors to get some of that popcorn!  We went in to see grandma.  She opened her eyes once for me... and then seemed to fall asleep.  While my aunt and nephew went to pop more popcorn, Eloise and I sat with grandma and I had a few brief moments to talk to her.  We didn't stay long after that... but I knew in my heart it was the last time I would see her.

Last night, my mom called to tell me that she was headed into the Home because things weren't looking good.  She told me to pray that grandma would pass quickly (and oddly enough, I had just been praying that very thing when she called).  My dad was already in there with some other family.  I texted my aunt to ask her to tell grandma that I love her... and not even 5 minutes later, my mom called to tell me that she had just passed. 

There is such a mixture of sadness and happiness.  Grandma had no quality of life in her vegetative state.  She was in pain most of the time.  But through her disease, she was able to bring such joy to the other folks at the home through my family's visits.  I know that if she could have understood the good that her pain was bringing, she would have agreed to do it again in a heartbeat.  

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I pictured my grandma running into the arms of Jesus.  She said He promised her that one day she would run again... and last night, that promise was fulfilled.

I love you, Grandma... See you again one day!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lemon Head!

Eloise and I met my mom for lunch today.  It was nice to get out... and Eloise was SO good!  Ok, and I have to brag a little that the waitress was impressed with some of the words El was saying... and that she knew her crayon colors.  It was like a little pat on the back for Mommy!  And hey, sometimes I need that!

Anyway... my mom thought it would be hilarious to let Eloise have a taste of lemon.  Little did she know that Eloise likes lemon!  My mom was watching intently for any hint of a funny sour face from El... and well, all she got was a bunch of chomping!

It was hard to actually get the lemon away from her! 
My mom credits her love of lemon to the fact that Eloise knows no sugar, 
other than natural sugars that come from fruit (and sometimes Maple Syrup if I've baked it into something).  I never really thought about it, but she must have such a fresh palette!
No wonder she loves almost everything we put in front of her!

Maybe I should lead by example, instead of just restricting her...
I've done it before... but it can be such an easy trap to slip back into!
Definitely something for me to think about and improve upon!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Egg Free Recipe: Broccoli Lasagna

Back in January, we had a lovely little allergy scare involving our sweet girl.  She has been deemed allergic to EGGS until further notice (which actually means next February when we are scheduled to get her tested again).  We are desperately hoping she grows out of it!  

But in the mean time, I am on a mission to find egg free foods and recipes to help a girl out!  Eloise is not able to eat not only eggs... but foods with eggs in them (yes, foods that have eggs cooked into them are off-limits)... foods that are processed where eggs are processed in other foods... foods at restaurants (since we don't know 100% what is in the foods or if they have been near eggs or handled by a cook who handled eggs)... or even foods that we have touched after having handled food with egg in/on it.  Absolutely, positively NO EGGS.

At first it really stressed me out!  We are egg people!  We have chickens in our back yard, for goodness sake!  But as time has gone on, we've found things she can eat.  I home make pizza dough.  We have found (expensive) egg free pasta ("No Yolks" don't count - those are made with egg whites!).  I have adapted meatloaf, pancake/waffle, cornbread and other recipes.  But she mainly eats fruits, veggies and meat, in all honestly.  There is even a vegan black bean soup from Amy's that she loves!

Anyway, now that I am pregnant with #2...
 I am on a quest to keep myself free of raging heartburn.  
So not only am I trying to find recipes that are egg free, I'm trying to find sauce free recipes for myself also!  Kind of a tough mix.  But I did find a great recipe for Broccoli Lasagna that I wanted to share.  You never know who may Google: Egg Free Recipes and stumble across it!
I apologize to whomever's recipe this may be, I know it was off of some regular recipe site (not a personal site)... but I can't remember which one now.  So I take no credit for the creating of this recipe!

(This is obviously in baby pieces!  I didn't think to take a pic of the whole thing!)


9 Lasagna Noodles (Dreamfields Brand is what we use.  It is egg free and also processed in an egg free facility!)
3 T. Butter
1 Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. Ground Pepper
2 T. All-purpose Flour
1 tsp. salt (divided)
1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
2 1/2 C. Milk
2 T. Fresh Parsley, chopped
15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
10 oz. Broccoli (frozen, chopped, thawed & drained)
1/4 C. Grated Parmesan
2 C. Shredded Mozzarella

-Preheat oven to 350*.
-Cook Pasta & drain.
-In medium saucepan over medium heat: melt butter.  Cook onion & garlic until tender.  Stir in flour, pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt and nutmeg.  Stirring continuously, pour in milk (a little at a time) allowing mixture to thicken.  Bring to a boil for 1 minute, remove from heat & stir in parsley.  Set aside.
-In medium bowl: combine ricotta, broccoli, parmesan, 1 C. of mozzarella & remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir.
-In a 7x11 baking dish, layer: 1/4 C. sauce, 3 noodles, 1/3 of remaining sauce, 1/2 broccoli mixture, 3 noodles, 1/2 of remaining sauce, remaining broccoli mixture, 3 noodles, the rest of the sauce (phew!). Sprinkle with rest of mozzarella.  Cover with foil coated w/ cooking spray.
-Bake 30 minutes - let stand 10 minutes before serving.
(I put my baking dish on a cookie sheet to catch any extra that bubbled out during cooking)

Eloise LOVES this lasagna - I'll definitely be making it again!

Monday, June 4, 2012


My sister and my niece came over today for a bit to visit with me and Eloise.  Since Eloise has been a bit under the weather, we haven't made our normal weekly trip out to see them (and my parents)... and I believe they were having some Eloise-withdraw! 

I was able to run a couple of errands while they were entertained by my daughter... and then I came home and we ate lunch (grilled chicken salads - YUM!) and sent Eloise up for her nap! 

Because I know that Miss Maddy has just been dying to play, I dug out the game of LIFE from our closet. 

We had so much fun!  Katy thought she was trampling us as she pulled way ahead early on and seemed to have the most money.... yet in the end, the underdog (that would be Madelyn) pulled through and took home the prize!  Ok, there really wasn't a prize... but I think she was quite happy just knowing that she beat her dear old mom and boring old aunt!

Playing LIFE today made me look ahead to the future and look forward to one day playing board games with our kids.  So many kids (and parents!) these days are glued to the TV, their cell phone or the computer!  (I know, I'm on the computer right now - but Eloise is in bed and Cory had to go back to work for a little bit!!)  I want to spend quality time with my family!  It is so important, as these days FLY by!

I'm glad Katy, Maddy and I got to spend some quality time together!  Hopefully we can do it again one day soon!  Maybe next time we can play SCRABBLE!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

One of these Days!

I look forward to the day when Eloise 
finds fascination in brushing my hair... 
instead of just tugging at it. 

Nothing is more relaxing to me than getting my hair "did"!

On a separate note:  Eloise has been recovering from her recent ER trip.  She has broken her fever, yet she has a really raspy cough - mostly when she wakes up in the morning and at nap time.
Some people at Cory's work said that RSV is going around this area like wildfire... so we are wondering if she possibly had that (?).  It's viral, so there isn't anything we can do about... but we are praying that if it is/was that, that I don't get it because it would not be good for baby #2!!

Thanks to those of you who have kept Eloise in your prayers!