Friday, October 31, 2008

Chairs, Conferences and Costumes

This week has been so unbelievably busy and I'm hopelessly behind on everything so this is going to be a quick and dirty post. Try to ignore the typos because I'm likely to bite the first person who points them out. (just kidding.. with my luck I'd break a tooth)

One thing that we have discovered in the last month is that multiple broken bones render the majority of your furniture unusable. Poor Bob spent the first week of his recovery sleeping in his office chair, which wasn't comfortable but was much better than the bed. An orthopaedic wedge finally allowed him to move back to bed but he still wasn't comfortable. Two weeks ago we bought a recliner for the living room that really seems to be helping and on Monday of this week I bought him a new office chair that is ergonomically correct and will supposedly help keep pressure off of his broken neck.

It's a little strange but it seems to be helping. Next Tuesday he will be having surgery to stabilize his neck and he is insisting that he's not going to take more than a few days off of work so I think it's pretty important that he have a good chair to sit in while he's working.

Yesterday I had conferences for all three kids. I can't believe we are 1/4 of the way through the school year. Didn't they just start? I am so proud of my children. Their teachers had wonderful things to say about them. Of course, after a day of running from school to school, taking Bob to the hospital for pre-surgery testing, shopping for halloween stuff, working on costumes, cooking dinner, carving pumpkins, and generally running non-stop from 7am to 10pm, they wouldn't know that I'm proud of them. Actually I ended the day by screaming "I'm not doing another thing tonight!" when Taylor asked if I would paint her fingernails. Then I went to bed and dreamed about what a terrible mother I am.

Well, it's 9am and I really need to get busy again. Today we have one last conference. Actually it's a pre-conference with the drama teacher at Delaney's school. Taylor will be helping out during the spring production so we have to hammer out a schedule for her today. Then it's back to the costumes for final touches... I'll post pictures later... trick-or-treat prep, a block party that I'm not attending but have agreed to contribute food, and a couple of hours of doorbell ringing and hysterical dog barking. Oh how I love halloween.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bad Bag Tuesday

Green Eco Tote
Available at CC Skye


1. realistic or practical
2. without affectation; natural, sincere, etc.

Oh where do I start?

Today's Bad Bag is another attempt by a trendy designer to look ecologically friendly while still making bucket loads of money. This tote bag features "Eco chic biodegradable canvas" which prompts me to ask this question. Isn't all canvas essentially biodegradable? But the really special thing about this bag is the non-degradable 18k gold plated hardware.

Is this realistic or practical? It's certainly not without affectation.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Because Gina Needed More Reasons to Complain About Healthcare...

Don't worry, I'm not going to rant today... It doesn't do any good and my blood pressure is high enough already... but I thought you all might be interested in an update on Bob's recovery.

When he was discharged from the hospital we were told that he needed to protect his broken sternum while it was healing and that he should see his regular doctor in two weeks for a follow-up. That was all. Well, within the first week his regular doctor found that the hospital had missed two additional broken bones but the issue that was really bothering him was the pain and numbness in his hand. Last week we finally had an appointment with a Neurologist to evaluate that problem and guess what he told us? Bob has a fractured vertebra in his neck. The pain he is experiencing is because the vertebra and disc are out of alignment and possibly sitting in an unstable position on the vertebra below. The numbness is because there are bone fragments impinging on the nerves that run through that vertebra and into his left arm. The Neurosurgeon was shocked that Bob wasn't wearing a cervical collar to stabilize his neck. The collar had been removed in the hospital the day after his accident because they had determined that he had no neck damage... But, the CT scan done just hours after the accident clearly shows the broken vertebra. They just missed it. (Ok.. this is the part where I don't rant about the state of medical care or the fact that he had been transferred to the trauma center, by helicopter, at a cost of $14,000.00, to insure that he had the best level of care, or the fact that he was concerned about his fingers being numb just minutes after the accident and every doctor he saw told him not to worry about it. Nope, I'm not going to rant today.) Bob put the collar on as soon as we got home and hasn't taken it off since but it doesn't seem to make a difference to his pain.

The Neurologist wants to do surgery to remove the bone fragments and fuse the broken vertebra to the one below it. Bob, understandably, is a bit reluctant to trust doctors right now so he's taken a couple of weeks to consider the options and make a decision. Unfortunately there aren't many options to consider. There is no guarantee that surgery will repair the damage and he could have pain and mobility issues for the rest of his life. However, without surgery there isn't much chance that anything will change. It's a dreadful choice, especially when you've lost faith in the doctors who are supposed to be taking care of you.

Recovery is going to be slow. Whether or not he has the surgery won't change the fact that he must wear the neck brace for the next ten to twelve weeks and he can't drive or travel for work. But we really are lucky that he's alive, that he is able to walk, that he took this job in May that allows him to work from home and provides excellent insurance, that we have each other no matter how bad things are. I'm working on finding the positive in every day and enjoying it because complaining just makes things worse.

(I will not rant anymore, I will not rant anymore, Iwillnotrantanymore)

Returning to Menu Planning

The last few weeks have seen some interesting meals in my house. Fortunately, we have wonderful family and friends who have been doing a fantastic job of keeping us fed! Bob continues to lose weight, because his medication reduces his appetite, but I'm managing to plump up for winter (I really didn't need any more plumping!) We learned last week that Bob's recovery is going to take a lot longer than we had anticipated so temporary chaos is becoming the new normal. This week I'm reclaiming my kitchen and planning out a menu because I need some structure to keep me sane.

Monday - Beef and Black Bean Fajitas

Tuesday - Tomato Soup and Paninis

Wednesday - Beef Stew, Lentil Stew, Corn Bread

Thursday - Baked Chicken Breasts and Legs, Macaroni and Cheese, Green Beans

Friday - Cioppino for the adults, Chicken and Chick'n Nuggets for the kids, Garlic Bread

Saturday - Steak and Crab Cakes, Veggie Burgers, Baked Potatoes, Salad

Sunday - Leftovers

Thanks to Laura at for hosting Menu Plan Monday. It's a huge help to know that I can raid the menus posted on her site for inspiration when I'm out of ideas.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bad Bag Tuesday

Our Bad Bag of the week is Tommy Woods little replica of the Eiffel Tower... and I do mean little. At just nine inches tall and four inches wide it's so teeny tiny that you may have to choose between your lipstick or cell phone.

I can't think of a single event that I would want to bring this bag to but, then again, I'm not invited to many fancy parties. And at $450 it's pricier than anything I've ever worn to a party.. with the exception of my wedding dress.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ten Years Ago...

... with five days to go before my due date I had the notion to DO SOMETHING to while away the time. I had already planted literally hundreds of tulip bulbs, winterized the yard, cleaned the house, bought all the diapers and wipes I could possibly need. By baby number four you get pretty good at the getting ready part but the waiting never gets easier. To make things worse I knew that I would most likely go past my due date by at least five days before my doctor would finally give in to my pleas and kick start my stubborn body into labor. My three older children all refused to come out on their own. The older two required surgical intervention before labor ever started and the third one introduced me to the joys of pitocin. So, despite the fact that I had been having contractions on and off for two weeks and even had a mortifying trip to the hospital when I thought my water had broken, (the nice nurse patted my head and told me it's normal to make mistakes like that your first time.. and then rolled her eyes and stomped out when I told her this was my fourth child) I needed a project. My stepmother had made a very cute baby quilt with teddy bears all over it and she had sent me extra fabric to make a bed skirt for the crib. So I decided to make a coordinating quilt for Taylor's bed. I headed out to the fabric store and picked out half a dozen cute fabrics, baby blue with stars, white with little pink hearts, pastel candy stripes, all of them adorable. By time I got home I was tired but happy that I had something to keep me busy. I headed off to bed planning to get to work as soon as the kids were off to school the next morning.

Of course, I never started the darn quilt. I found the fabric a few weeks ago still in the bag that I brought it home from the store in. I woke up at 1:30am with a contraction. I lay there watching the clock on Bob's side of the bed waiting for another one. It came at 1:35. I shrugged it off and closed my eyes to go back to sleep and there was another one... the clock said 1:38.. hmm. I laid there timing increasingly stronger contractions and then shook Bob. "Hey honey, I think I'm in labor. I'm going to jump in the shower." He groaned. Of course he didn't believe me.. three kids, no labor.. I simply was not reliable. I showered and he slept on. By time I was dried off the contractions were 2 minutes apart and I was pretty sure we were having a baby soon. It took another hour to get the kids up and over to a neighbor's and an eternity to drive through rush hour traffic to the hospital. I won't go into the gory details... Delaney was born uneventfully just after 8am.

She was beautiful and amazingly loud for such a little thing (she still is!) She was instantly Daddy's little girl, so much so that the nurses were worried that I wasn't bonding with her because he was holding her and I was just watching. But I loved watching them together. Delaney was an early birthday present, born the day before Bob's birthday, and they just seem to "get" each other. They share a love for silly jokes and fast food french fries, Judge Judy and Tom Jones. For the last few years there has been a Father/Daughter Dance scheduled for the weekend before their birthdays. This year they couldn't go because Bob is in no condition to dance. So Saturday night they cranked up the music and shared one very short dance. I wish I could have taken a photo to share here but I didn't want to interrupt them. Neither one of them can pose naturally for the camera anyway so the best picture is in my memory. Dad and Daughter dancing slowly, carefully, in our living room, with smiles that the camera can never quite capture. Ten years later I still love watching them together.

Happy Birthday Delaney and Bob.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bad Bag Tuesday

I've been having a lot of flashbacks to the 70's lately. These are not the result of wild drug use in my teen years. No, these are are economy induced flashbacks. Rising unemployment and food prices, gas lines. Does anyone else remember even/odd gas days? Anyway, the point I'm trying to make here is that 2008 is starting to feel a lot like 1978.

Growing up during a recession wasn't all bad. My Mom had been laid-off so, for the first time since my parents divorced, she was home a lot. I learned really useful stuff in Girl Scouts, like canning and recycling. We didn't have money for entertainment so we spent a lot of time just playing outdoors, riding bikes with more patches than tires, playing Bloody Murder or Statues in the twilight, catching fireflies, and digging really big holes. I was 13 but it was OK to play with the little kids because acting like a teenager required money for new clothes, eight track tapes, and hanging around with friends. I didn't have extra money so my teen activities consisted of watching Good Times and testing out some new vocabulary words. There was plenty of time to play.

When the weather was ugly we did a lot of crafts indoors. My mother is one of the craftiest people I know and she has a real talent for turning anything into a project. She also worked part time for Lee Wards Crafts, one of the greatest craft stores of the 70's. (It was bought out and eradicated by Micheal's in the 90's.) Lee Wards understood the need that people had for crafts that were practical and used stuff that didn't cost a lot. Instead of precut, ready to assemble and paint, kits they sold tools and and booklets that taught how to make things from scratch. Like lanterns out of tin cans

or unique accessories out of things you had laying around.

But my favorite crafting activities involved the use of newspaper and glue. There were so many things to do with these two simple and continuously available items. Paper mache, jewelry made from newspaper beads of varying sizes, and an unending variety of things that could be made by folding and weaving newspapers.

Apparently I'm not the only person who remembers those crafty recycling years. Many of these items are reappearing in the marketplace. Mostly in places like Etsy and Ebay, but a few have gone more mainstream. Like this...

"The Daily" is a 15 inch handbag made of water resistant woven newspaper and a plastic shoulder strap. It's available online at Ecoist for just $158.

Now I have to admit that I actually kind of like this bag. However, it qualifies as a Bad Bag because, seriously, if you have the money to buy it then you are just pretending to be part of this struggling economy. For those of us who aren't going to see a bail-out anytime soon there is an option to blowing your weekly grocery budget on a trendy handbag. Weave your own. Here are some really fantastic instructions!

Oh, and if the economy gets much worse here's a how-to for making shoes from newspaper too.

When beggars and shoeshine boys, barbers and beauticians can tell you how to get rich it is time to remind yourself that there is no more dangerous illusion than the belief that one can get something for nothing.

Bernard Baruch, 1929

Monday, October 6, 2008

Five Things I'm Thankful for Tonight

The end of fundraising season. In the last month my kids have sold nuts, cookie dough, wrapping paper and coupon books but it all ends tomorrow. Hurray! I wish they would just give us the opportunity to donate money to the school instead of wasting our time and our neighbor's good will.

Moose Munch, the perfect combination of popcorn and chocolate coating with plenty of toffee covering everything. Now this would make a good fundraiser...

Dogs. Have I told you all how fantastic my dogs are? My Father in law has been taking them out for walks and they have fallen madly in love with him. Funny, they don't love me nearly as much and I walk them every day.

Tazo Berryblossom White Tea makes the best iced tea. I can't think of anything clever to say about this product. It's just yummy. I think I'll have a cup of it and then go to bed.

And lastly... an orthopaedic wedge pillow that will allow me to sleep in my own bed with my husband. Yes, he will be propped up on a pillow shaped like cheese but it's one step closer to normalcy.

Normalcy has never been one of my goals but it's looking pretty good after a week on the couch.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

No Menu Plan Monday

Did you notice that I actually had time this weekend to decorate the blog for Halloween? My In-Laws arrived Wednesday and my MIL immediately took over almost all the "Mom" duties while my FIL took over dog duties so I could focus on being Bob's nurse and still get a little sleep (and computer time!) I have officially turned over kitchen duty for the time being so there will be no menu planned this week. Although tomorrow she is taking my FIL the airport so I will be cooking. We will have chicken and dumplings and corn chowder and dumplings. Beyond that I really don't know what the week will be like.

On Friday we went back to the doctor because Bob's shoulder was still very painful. Of all of his injuries this was the one that was bothering him the most but they had said it was just bruised. Well Friday we again asked the dr to look through his hospital records and tell us what the findings on the shoulder were. But there were no findings. They didn't xray it. So, back we went the the Radiologist and guess what he found? Yep, another broken bone. Bob's second left rib is broken and displaced. It's no wonder he's been in such pain. This coming Wednesday he finally has an appointment with an Orthopaedic Surgeon who will hopefully be a lot more helpful than the family practice folks. I can't believe how hard it is to just get an appointment with an Orthopaedist.

We have been so fortunate to have lots of help during this time. Wonderful neighbors who have been there to drop off and pick up our kids, family members who were willing to drop everything fly to our aid, friends who have brought food and offered to do anything we could think of, family and friends who aren't able to be here but continue to check on us, and online friends who listened and prayed for us. Thank you all!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Saturday morning was really beautiful. Bob and I drank coffee and rehashed the Friday night debate. We made plans to work in the front yard because it was sunny and the homeowners association is cracking down on deadbeats who don't tend to their edging.

Bob's good deed for the weekend was to drive our oldest son Ian to a job about forty miles out of town. Not a great errand but Ian seems to enjoy the job and what we've seen in the last few weeks is encouraging. So he took off at 8:30 and I started the laundry. Half an hour later everything changed.

"Mom, this is Ian. We had an accident."
"Are you alright?"
"Where's your Dad!?"
"He's still in the car!"

For the next ten minutes I listened to cars whizzing by and perfect strangers attempting to get my husband out of a car, on the side of the road, in a town I had never heard of, almost an hour from home. I knew he was alive and semi-conscious. As soon as the paramedics had him on a stretcher and were taking him to the hospital I got in my car and drove there. I didn't think, thinking is dangerous.

In the emergency room I met my uninjured son. He had a scrape on his elbow, a bump on his head, and he was shaken. Bob was flat on his back on a stretcher, a cervical collar immobilizing his head, but the doctor assured me that he was going to be fine. They were simply waiting for xrays to confirm that he didn't have a neck or head injury and then they would send him home. But the xrays didn't release him. The xrays showed he had a broken rib, a broken sternum, and a possible tear in his aorta. Instead of coming home Bob was loaded into a helicopter and flown 90 miles to the Trauma Center in Seattle.

It took nearly three hours for me to drive to Seattle. Three hours of National Public Radio and slow traffic. The traffic was slow because of an accident, a small car in the road, completely burned out by time I passed it. I didn't worry, I didn't panic, I just drove. Looking back on it now it seems unbelievable that I was calm, that I could walk into the hospital and tell the cheery volunteer at the information desk that my husband had been airlifted and I didn't know where to find him.

After nearly twelve hours and many tests the doctors were able to rule out an aortal tear but they kept Bob there for two days so they could monitor his heart for signs of failure. He couldn't eat or drink for the first 36 hours because they hadn't decided whether or not they needed to do surgery. In the end they decided he was going to live and sent him home.

We've been visiting all kinds of doctors this week. Somehow the hospital missed the fact that Bob's knee was broken. He also has numbness in his hand and they are still trying to find a reason for that. He isn't allowed to lift anything or use his hands for support because he could worsen his broken sternum. He can't put any weight on his right leg. The orthopaedic surgeon wants him in a wheel chair but he refuses to use it. He's getting better but it's going to be a long recovery.

Yesterday we had to go claim any property left in the car.

For twenty four years Bob has been my partner, the guy who makes me laugh, who takes care of me, who loves me no matter how difficult I am. I almost lost him and I couldn't imagine living without him. I am blessed to have such a good husband. We are blessed because he survived.