Thursday, October 17, 2013

WOW! It's been awhile!!

I am still not any better of a writer, but I did get a kick out of going back and reading my old posts.

We have been super busy here.

My oldest son graduated from high school in the spring.

My oldest daughter is a high school varsity softball catcher.  Plus she is in orchestra, choir, girl scouts, and volunteers at church.

My middle daughter plays softball and is in the honor choir.

My youngest son is an avid baseball player.  He really loves being outside.  I am glad his hemophilia isn't holding him back and he still continues to be all boy.

My baby girl is now 3 and a spit fire.

As for me, I have been working on getting a home bakery off the ground and training to run 5k's.  Someday I will actually run the whole thing.

I think I am back.  Time to work on some new recipes and my deep thoughts of life.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sneak Peak

A month or so ago, I wrote about my husband going and setting up his feeders and cameras to get prepared for deer season.  In this part of the country, deer archery season opens October 1st.  There will be many hunting widows that will either be looking forward to or dreading this weekend.

For me, I look forward to deer season.  But maybe that is because it's fall.  And it means cooler weather, Halloween, crunching leaves, football, and family time.

A couple of weeks ago, the hubby went up and copied the pictures off of his trail cameras.
I want to share some of them.  If he has his way, one or more of these big bucks will be gracing my living room walls in the future.

We have nicknamed this little guy Hollywood.  He makes several appearance in the pictures, both daytime and nighttime.  He is awfully cute and super interested in the camera.

My oldest daughter, Ashleigh, will be going and taking her Hunter's Safety Course this weekend.  She is looking forward to officially being able to hunt with dad this year.  I hope she knows that if she shoots one, she has to clean it.  Don't know if dad broke that news to her yet.

Since my freezer is getting rather empty, I am sure glad hunting season starts tomorrow. 

Good luck to all the hunter's this season.  I wish you well in your treks and journeys as you seek your prey.  Be careful and take the appropriate safety measures as well.

To all my fellow hunting widows, I hope you have awesome adventures and activities planned for yourself and/or your children.  That's what I do.  It helps to keep us all sane!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bring on the Bubblewrap

I am having a strange time coming to grips with Johnny's hemophilia diagnosis.  It doesn't change who he is or that he is my little boy forever, but it changes the way I watch him play.

I have 2 boys.  My oldest is 16.  I always had the laid back approach to parenting him.  At the park, I would stand back and let him run and climb and jump and slide.  I would only help him if he needed help.  I didn't hover.  Eric was never really the dare devil type though.  He didn't climbed trees too often.  He didn't stand on the kitchen counters.  He didn't do balance beam acts on the back of the bleachers at the ball field.  He did like to climb up on our tractor shed, but nothing else too dangerous.

Johnny has been all boy since his feet hit the floor.  He climbed everything.  He jumped off of everything.  He hit his head on everything.  And then he would look like this.

Only this one is mild compared to some of the others. 

Of course we never took him to the doctor for any of these.  He's a boy.  He's supposed to be banged up.  He's healthy and active.  He gets a good hit on the head at least once or twice a year.

But now I know, he probably should have gone into the doctor for these.  Only the pediatrician is not the one we would have needed to see.  She would have told me pretty much what we were already thinking.

Here comes the guilt...

All these things that have happened to him in his 5 years of life
  • slipping on the bleachers and biting both sides of tongue (it bled for 3 months before it finally healed)
  • falling off the bleachers (multiple times)
  • getting hit in the head with a ceiling fan
  • landing head first on a linoleum floor
  • biting through his lower lip

All of these should have landed us in the ER, or at least a trip to the Hemophilia Treatment Center.  Looking back now and knowing this makes me feel a bit sick to my stomach.  I am glad that something really bad didn't happen.

But now that I KNOW, I just want to wrap my little boy in bubble wrap and keep him safe.

He was officially diagnosed with mild hemophilia A, which is a factor 8 (VIII) deficiency, about 3 weeks ago.  Hemophilia is a rare genetic bleeding/clotting disorder.  So that means his blood is slower to clot.  He doesn't bleed more or faster, but he does bleed longer.  Cuts and scrapes are really no biggie, but deep muscle bruises, head injuries, broken bones, etc need to be treated.

The day AFTER he was diagnosed, I found him standing in the window of my van.  The window was down and he had his feet in the window and he was leaning against the top part of the door (it was closed).  Get DOWN child!  You are killing me.  Later that same night, I found him on the next to top rail of the bleachers at the high school football game, leaning over them cheering.  Since then, he has repeatedly climbed over the chain link fence, scaled the picket fence, walked on the tables in the parish hall after church, stands on the back of the toilet, on the kitchen counter tops, on the bathroom counter, he has cut himself with an exacto knife, I found him making lemonade out of real lemons ALONE (including cutting them all up), using the top seat of the bleachers as a balancing beam.  I am sure there are more things that he has done that luckily I have not seen or witnessed. 

Have I mentioned the boy is only 5. 

Is the need for bubblewrap now apparent?

I am really struggling to find the balance of just letting him be and keeping him safe.

I know I didn't start this blog to be a medical journey, but I am going to add another tab on the top to keep all these in one easy to find place.  Ok well that is as soon as I remember how to do it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lessons learned at the ballpark - pt 3

Compassion.  I saw the most wonderful lesson in compassion tonight at the ball park.

Life is crazy busy for us right now.  4 of the 5 kids are involved in sports.  Most nights we have things overlapping.  Dad and I do good dividing up when he is off so one of us is at the most important things, or we split practices.  I will admit there are things we are missing, but we are relying on some great people that are willing to help out with getting our kids where they need to be.  Vary rarely do we miss a game.

Tonight, Ashleigh, the oldest daughter, had a double header; Brandy, the middle daughter, had practice; and Johnny had a game.  We tagged up and watched the 1st of Ashleigh's games.  The original plan was I was going to the practice and daddy was going to Johnny's game.  I made arrangements for Brandy to get to and from practice so we both got to go see Johnny play, even if we were a few minutes late. 

I am glad I did that.  Johnny's coaches showed so much class and compassion for another little boy, that I am proud that I got to see it.  Someday, when Johnny is old enough to fully understand, I will tell him about this moment.

The 2 teams playing are both tee-ballers.  Our team is a little bit older.  Most of our boys are 5 to 6 years old.  Their team seemed very inexperienced and young.  Most of them appeared to be between 4 and 5, with maybe even a few 3 year olds sprinkled in.

One of the best things in tee-ball is that most parents cheer the loudest for the smaller players on either team.  It's so cute to watch the little ones hit their hardest and run as fast as their little legs can go.  Imagine how far away those bases must look to them?

I first noticed one of the little boys when he was playing catcher.  I was admiring his tiny little hands.  He was such a dainty thing!  He was so cute later going up to bat.  His batting helmet made him look like a bobble head.  His coach handed him his bat and he took it in one hand and tried to grip it with the other.  He then just held on with his one good hand and balanced it a bit with his wrist.  He swung with all his might, missed and came back and tapped the ball.  It trickled off the tee.  It slowly rolled out of the batter's box and just barely made it into fair territory. 

All the parents jump up and tell him to run.  He runs as fast as his awkward stride will allow.  Our catcher runs out and scoops up the ball and easily throws it to 1st base.  1st baseman gets the ball right in front of the base.  The coaches are yelling to NOT tag the base.  The little boy trips and falls and lands on the base line.  1st baseman is still holding the ball, really confused, but he heard the coaches yell throw it to 3rd, so he did.  The little one gets back on his feet and runs to 1st.  Both sets of fans are cheering and clapping.

Our coach goes out to the pitcher, 2nd base (Johnny), and short stop and tells them no matter what, that that little boy is going to score.  They are not to get him out.  The kids don't quite understand, but go with it. 

Next hit, Little Boy runs from 1st and stops about half way to second.  With some encouragement he continues on and jumps on the bag.  Next hit, he goes from 2nd and heads towards the pitchers mound.  The umps, now realizing what we are doing, helps guide him to 3rd base.  On the next hit, the ball lands between the pitcher and the catcher.  Following the instructions of the coach, the catcher picks it up and throws it to 1st.  Little Boy runs home and scores amid wild cheering from both sides.

After the game, I went up and told the coach that she showed a lot of class.  My husband told me later that the other coach was so shocked by our actions.  No other team had let Little Boy get beyond 1st base. 

Little Boy has cerebal palsy.  He is never going to be the all-star baseball player.  But he got to know the joy of scoring a run.  The joy of hearing the crowd cheer (and loudly) just for him.  He got to have his moment to shine like the true star that he is.  I hope his parents got a picture or video to show him and help him remember.

I applaud his parents for letting him play baseball even though he has physical limitations that prevent him from being able to fully participate.  I applaud the parents in the stands for recognizing this special moment and cheering for him.  I applaud our coach for realizing this moment and allowing our boys to learn to have compassion for others (even though right now they are probably way too young to know what kind of impact they had on someone else's life).  

And I thank the coach for teaching our boys that baseball isn't just about winning games.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And the world spins.

My ideal family was mom, dad, 4 kids (2 boys, 2 girls). I had my ideal family.  Even numbers.  We even had a male dog and a female cat to keep it equal.

Then the desire for another baby began. Yes we wanted another. No we didn't.  Back and forth. We had perfect numbers.  All of them are healthy, why risk it.  I was just starting to come to grips with Johnny being my last baby, when we found out we were pregnant with ToriBeth.

Ahhhhh! An almost perfect pregnancy! Despite having to do multiple insulin shots a day.

Then I began to worry.  Why was it so easy?  I knew this had to be my last baby.  I was getting older, my health was getting worse.  The worry over me and the worry over potential complications to the baby from my diabetes made that decision for us.  But still, why was it all so easy? Except labor, but that is a different issue!

Then she was born and she was perfect.  But still I waited for the other shoe to drop.  I very deeply felt that this was all too perfect.  I watched over her vigilantly.  I worried about her hearing.  She was doing great and developing right on target.  But that unease was still there. What was it?  Why could I not just accept all was good and move on?

ToriBeth is still a wonderful baby.  She's funny and engaging and people just flock to her.  And she is perfectly healthy. 

I feel bad that I was waiting for something to happen.  But there is a reason behind mother's intuition.

Only I was focusing on the wrong child.

I can't really say I missed the signs.  Because the bruises weren't really anything when you have an active little boy.  The 1st bruises I took Johnny to the doctor for was when he was barely (if even) walking.  There was 1 on his tailbone area that the doctor diagnosed as a mongolian spot.  The other was on his ribs.  She said it just looked like he fell on a toy or something.  All the times he fell and hit his head I never took him in.  And they were pretty ugly.  I just figured they were bumps.  And he always seemed to have a bump.  There was also the time he fell out of a kitchen chair and hit his elbow.  It swelled up and looked horrible.  We had it x-rayed looking for a break or bone infection.

In all honesty, I knew there was a chance he had hemophilia.  It is passed on the X-gene.  My dad has it.  I grew up around it.  I just never put any of this together until I sit and really just think.  I asked to have Johnny tested a year ago, before he went to school.  His doctor didn't see any need.  Figured we would have known by then.

But early this summer, Johnny started getting some rather large and unexplained bruises at his joints, mainly his knees.  They would just show up.  He would have no idea what caused them.  I finally took him back to the doctor and she ran some tests.  His factor VIII came back off and she referred us off to a blood doctor.  Still thinking it was something else, but she wanted to be 100% sure.

We have met with the pediatric hematologist and had more blood drawn and we go back in 2 more weeks.  This feels like an eternity.  I will feel better when we have an official diagnosis and a plan in place.  And some literature to be able to give to his teacher and the school nurse who have never even heard of it, let alone know how to deal with an iccident. 

Funny thing, Johnny has always loved baseball.  It is his passion.  He watched every single game of the semi and finals of the World Series last year.  He has a huge collection of baseball cards.  His most prized possessions are his autographed Brandon Weeden baseball and his 2nd place trophy from a tee-ball tournament......oh and maybe his San Francisco Giants jersey and hat......and we can't forget his glove either.  His older brother, Eric, has always played football.  But Johnny has never really ever shown an interest.  Now I guess that is a good thing since football would be completely out of the question.  We can make baseball work, but football is full contact.

Currently, his arms and shins are just speckled in bruises.  I noticed one on his hip and another on his thigh.  These all look minor and non-concerning.

But you know what?  The world keeps spinning.  I have always been protective of Johnny.  Maybe because I am older.  Maybe because he has always seemed more accident prone.  Maybe because of all of his ear infections or his breathing issues.  Or maybe....because I thought he was the last for so long.  Either way, this just makes us stronger and more educated.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beef and Broccoli "on the fly"

"On the fly" - meaning something I did quick so I could get food in my kids and send them off to bed. (OK, well if you really know my kids, especially the youngest boy, you would know the concept of sending him to bed is almost laughable.) 

Yesterday, Mark was gone preparing for hunting season.  Usually when he does this he gets home super super late and will have grabbed something to eat before he got home.  My oldest son was gone to work and the oldest daughter was over at a friend's house.  That left me wondering what to feed the 3 youngest and myself for dinner.  As you know, young children are not overly needy of a gourmet meal.  And honestly, they could care less if it was balanced or had any fruits or veggies at all.

I did talk to Mark on his trip home and realized he was going to be home much earlier than usual.  Now I am starting to "feel real bad, bad llama".  I have no plans for dinner.  He did save me when he said he wasn't very hungry and would just eat a salad. But I was still having some issues on what to feed the littles.  One year olds aren't crazy about salads.  And I don't care how good of an eater the 5 year old is, he's not crazy about eating just a salad for dinner either.

Ahhhhhh! Daddy noodles aka Ramen noodles in the rest of society.  Those small little packages of cheap, overly salted processed food, that graces the plate of almost every college student or young adult just starting out.

My younger kids love these things.  And they're cheap.  But, hello? I can't just feed my kids these for dinner and call it good.  I had some major Mommy guilt going on with that concept.  As I was breaking up the noodles and putting them in a bowl to microwave them (I am going all out here. In all truthfulness though, I didn't even know you COULD cook them in a microwave until my much younger brother taught me several years ago), I had a light bulb moment.

A week or so ago, I had caught a few moments of one of my favorite cooking shows Mad Hungry. She had one of her sons on the show with her and he was adding stuff to his ramen noodle "sauce".  You can find his recipe here:  I didn't see but a few seconds of the show, but I did see him add peanut butter.

I start digging through the fridge and freezer to see how I can transform the simple package of noodles.  I am also a fan of Chopped, so I took this as a challenge to see what I could do.  I found some broccoli florets in the freezer and some roast beef deli meat in the fridge.  Hmmmmm? Could I? Would it taste ok?

Beef and Broccoli "on the fly"
1 pkg beef ramen noodles
1/2 cup cut up deli roast beef (leftover roast beef could be used as well)
1 cup broccoli florets, cooked (roughly chopped if using florets)
1 tsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp soy sauce (add more to taste)
bean sprouts, optional
lime wedges, optional
chili paste or sirachi sauce, optional

Cook the ramen noodles according to package directions.  (In my house that would be in a bowl, add enough water to almost cover and then cook in the microwave for 3 minutes.  Let stand for 2-3 minutes.) Do not drain.  Add seasoning packet and stir in. Add the peanut butter, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce to the ramen noodles. Stir. Gently toss in the broccoli and meat.  Put in individual serving bowls.  Top with bean sprouts, a squeeze of fresh lime, and/or some chili paste or sirachi sauce if you choose.  Serves 2-3

Not exactly the best choice for a dinner, but it was an improvement over plain ramen noodles.  And the kids devoured it.  When I made more for me to eat, I had to use turkey meat so I used a chicken flavored one.  I don't think it was AS good as the one I made for the kids, but it wasn't too bad.  Even Mark was impressed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And so this season begins.

I am a hunting widow.  As you can tell by the title of my blog.  My husband is a hunter.  He hunts deer. We eat deer.  He hunts turkey.  We eat turkey.  He hunts duck. We eat chicken.  He hunts geese.  We eat more chicken.  I just need to clarify.  I have nothing against eating ducks and geese.  But just because he hunts them, doesn't mean he shoots them.  Someday.  Right now he is still learning those.

See he hasn't always been a hunter.  When I met my hubby all those many many years ago, I would classify him as a prep.  Ask my family.  They will all agree.  It would be interesting to get my cousin's (who is 100% country born and bred) opinion on my hubby when they first met.  I took Mark to my family's Thanksgiving, I guess it was the 2nd or 3rd year we were married.  He was dressed in a nice button down shirt, ironed jeans, and dress shoes.  He sat on the couch looking absolutely terrified.

A few years later we go back.  This time he ditched the dress shoes and put on his tennis shoes and he no longer had ironed jeans (I only iron out of neccesity).  This was the 1st time he met my cousin Jacinda who came in all muddy with a stringer of fish.  He did venture out of the house this time with my step-dad, Lloyd, to go look for someone's deer that they shot and couldn't track.  Any guesses what happened on this trek? He tore his good jeans climbing over a barb wire fence.  I will say it was all down hill from there.  But it did take a few more years for the transformation to be complete from city boy to redneck.

The next step wouldn't take place until he got on the fire department and met a good friend who is an avid hunter.  This friend invited him to go shopping for guns.  He also happened to be single.  They always say hindsight is 20/20.  I don't know if I would change the course that this took had I known then what I know now.

This created the person my husband has become.  Now he has deer stands and blinds, feeders, cameras, targets, etc.  He is getting the most out of his experience.  Today he left to go set up his feeders on my cousin's land.  He is really excited.  The newspaper had an article that stated that the deer will be really attracted to corn feeders this year because of our excessive heat and drought.  He has big plans for the season. Plus my oldest hunts, and my oldest daughter will get her hunter safety this year so she can hunt as well.  (Uh oh - I better watch that, it might be his excuse to buy another gun!!)  I wonder how much deer meat my freezer will hold?

I cook the meat and my husband hangs the trophies on the wall.  It's a fair trade.  Right?

October 1st is the opening of archery deer season.  That is his goal, to final take one down with his bow.  I wish him luck!!!