May 14, 2009

For Momma: A Post on GF eating

I saw this on my Google feed, and thought I'd link it for my mom and anyone else who sticks to a GF diet. A guest blogger named Carrie posted this over on Erin's blog, 5 Dollar Dinners. It has lots of good links to other GF blogs, as well as other GF info. Check it out!

As promised, my gifts from yesterday!

My husband did good! He went to Tractor Supply (yes, I know, sounds really redneck, but they have the cutest stuff for gardens and yards). They had a welcome mat I had wanted, and he was going to get it for me. (It had a full-color picture of a brown horse standing in a barn door, and said "Welcome Friends" on it. Beautiful!) They sold it Monday. So he went in serch of other stuff I might like. (Basically anything in the store to decorate our yard and with horses on it.) He bought me a wall plaque and two garden stepping stones. Check 'em out!

My new awesome garden stepping stones

They are made of cast iron, so they'll last forever. And talk about heavy. They weigh over 5 pounds each!!! (He thinks they're something to hang up. I thought so, too, but I thought they were awful heavy to be hanging decorations. I found out what they really are when I went looking for a picture of them, since I didn't take any. I also hadn't seen these yet, or I surely would have had a fit over them before yesterday.)

And my new wall plaque. I love it!

Right now the plaque is hanging on my living room wall. I already had a nail there, left over from Christmas stockings. But the wall where it is hanging is so dark, you can barely tell this is hanging on it. I'm going to have to find somewhere else to put it, preferably outside somewhere.

I also have to find somewhere for my stepping stones, where they can be seen. Not sure where yet. If I put them in the front flower beds, they'll be covered up when my elephant ears get big. If I put them in the flower bed where the hose connestion is, they'll get buried in mud. If I put them around the pool, they'll get buried in the mud from splashing water out of the pool. (Wait, the kids wouldn't do that, would they? Surely not! That didn't happen ALL last summer, every time we got in the pool. And no one else got in there splashing, either! Especially with a couple of their girlfriends! 'Cause adults don't do that, and our kid and his brother and friends are too well behaved, and they've had better examples than that!)

I could put them in the flower bed by the horeshoe pits, but they'd be the only thing there besides drift wood. There's not a single plant on that side of the house, in all of that hugely long space.

I don't know. I'll worry about that later. Like maybe the next day I'm off work (Monday).

I also got beautiful gifts from Grandmother and Papa. They bought me a receiving blanket with a frog on it, two bib/burp rag sets (I Love Grandpa and I Love Grandma, of course!), a set of thermal pajamas, a boxed outfit set, and an outdoor clock. The clock is cool. I can't wait to hang it on the tree out beside the pool.

My sister brought my presents for my birthday and Mother's day to me Monday while I was off work. She bought me a pack of baby boy onesies, a set of children-sized clothes hangers, several sets of scrapbook stickers and embellishments for the baby's scrapbook, a "sisters" picture frame, and a beautiful candle with a saying on it about sisters. ("Sisters keep each other's secrets, bear each other's burdens, nudge each other's laughter, & hold on tightly to each other's love.")
My wonderfully awesome Mommy got me a breastfeeding book, but I don't know which one. She had to work last night, so she's bringing my present by later in the week. (That's OK, 'cause don't tell her, but when I went shopping Monday I forgot all about Mother's Day the day before, and I forgot to buy everyone's presents! Even though I did talk to them all on the phone and wish them Happy Mother's Day Sunday. So now I'll have to go this Monday to pick them up, and take them to everyone. If I don't forget again! Sssshhhh, it's a secret! But I guess that makes us kinda even. Maybe if she finds out I haven't bought her anything yet for Mother's Day, she won't feel bad about not being able to see me yesterday. She did call (of course), and it was good to talk to her before she had to go to work.)

My BFF brought me a birthday card. She's the only one working in her house right now, and so she's the only one able to buy groceries and pay the bills for her and her parents. She didn't have to even bring me the card, but I appreciate her thinking of me. :)

Cindy and Eric bought me a bouquet of flowers. They were beautiful! All different roses, carnations, and several other different flowers. Very colorful, and gorgeous!

Oh, and for the third year in a row, guess who won the birthday club dinner from her favorite Athens BBQ joint..... That's right, yours truly won the free dinner plate from Lawler's. Again! So, guess where I'm making my husband take me for dinner soon! (Maybe for lunch Monday?) Not that it'll be hard to get him to go. He loves Lawler's as much as I do.

May 13, 2009

It's my party......

Happy birthday to me! My dear, sweet, loving husband bought me a present today, despite my telling him repeatedly that he didn't have to go get me anything. I'll report back tomorrow on what, exactly, it is. Poor thing, he got left to pick it out himself with no help from me. Not even a hint or suggestion. I just couldn't for the life of me think of anything I wanted.

His first words to me today were "Happy birthday". He remembered before I did that my birthday was today. I have lost my mind, ya'll. My husband had to remind me that I turn 26 today.....

My feelings as the weeks close in on us

Aaaaannndddd, I just sent my bosses an email confirming when I will take my light duty and maternity leave. It feels weird to send that message. Makes the countdown seem that more.... I don't know.... Looming? Pressing? Those aren't quite the words I'm looking for, but they give just about the right connotation, except they aren't joyful enough at the same time as being inevitable. Imminent, maybe? I don't know.

I'm sure you all get where I'm going with this. I'm overjoyed, thrilled, eager, impatient that the time is drawing so near, yet I'm also anxious, doubtful, unsure, afraid. I'm sure anyone who has been in my shoes knows exactly how I feel. Overjoyed at the new life to love, thrilled to be given this blessing, eager to meet our child, impatient for him to be born. Anxious about my ability to care for him correctly, doubtful over my knowledge of children, unsure how to react, afraid we'll make the wrong choices. I mean, I can change a diaper, or feed him, bathe him. I'm not afraid I'll drop him or break him somehow. I've been around newborns before, and helped care for them. But this is different, this one is mine. We have to care for him at home with no help around the clock. I'm sure we'll manage just fine. It's just been so long since I've helped bathe a newborn, or......

I'm sure every new parent has these feelings. I'm sure we'll be just fine. We'll do what parents have done since the beginning of time. We'll figure it out. And if we run across something we can't figure out, we have family and friends who are parents, and we have the internet, if all else fails. After all, it's too late to turn back now. :) Even if we wanted to. (Of course, we wouldn't dream of it.)

These feelings are just new to me. I didn't have them last time. Of course, I didn't have to worry about bathing her that first week, or what to do if she starts crying and won't stop no matter what I do. So of course I didn't have them last time. I didn't have to worry about it. This time is a whole new ball game. Right now, I feel like I'm riding in the first car of the world's tallest, wildest roller coaster. We're paused at the top, a moment to catch our breath and collect our thoughts. Soon we'll be on our way down, and up, and around the track, travelling faster than we ever imagined!

Time to take a deep breath, hold hands, close our eyes, and just sit back and relax! I'm sure we're in for the most intense, most thrilling, most satisfying ride of our lives! I wouldn't trade it for anything, and it hasn't even really begun yet!

Wanna ride with us? Stick around! I'm sure all the ups and down will be posted right here!

Pregnancy Update - 33w 6 d

Tomorrow I will be 6 weeks away from my due date! Sweet, huh? Why yes, yes, it is! That means it could be 3 weeks, or it could be 8 weeks until we have an outside baby (as opposed to our current inside baby)! :) Hopefully more toward the 4-6 week side than 8.... I love being pregnant, but I'm ready to meet him already! (I know, not until he's ready... But still....)

Anyway, I just realized I forgot to post an update after Monday's appointment with Roberta, so here it is:

Baby seems to be head-down (yay!), although no ultrasound to confirm (boo!).
He also is around 17 inches long, head to toe.
Roberta measured Mike's heartbeat at 140 bpm (good, strong heartbeat!).

My BH contractions (Sissy, see this post for a reminder in what those are! j/k....)seem to be OK for now. We did discuss them, she said no more than 4 an hour. Also, an increasing number per day, or seeming to progress (shorter intervals between, more intense, lasting longer, etc....) would be cause for concern. Basically, if they stop when I rest and drink water, then it's OK, which I already knew. (Just wanted Mom to know that I did ask just to be on the safe side. Plus, I figure she needs to know how much they hurt (oh my God, do they hurt!!!) and how often I have them, so she can guage the health of my pregnancy,possible time frame until we start worrying about internal checks and real contractions, blah, blah.....

She also thinks likes I do, baby is putting some pressure on my cervix/bladder, causing some of the intense, stabbing-like pains I feel during a BH contraction sometimes. Again, she said no big deal, see the above regarding BH contractions.....

Back on the 27th at, I think, 10:30 or so, for our next checkup. I think this will be our last two-week checkup. Should start in on the weekly checks after that. Except that my next appointment is on a Wednesday, and I have Mondays off. So I'll need to try to reschedule. If not, I guess I'll work Monday instead of Wednesday that week.

We bought Mike's "dresser" Monday, too. Yes, he has a dresser and an armoire in his room, but this is for our bedroom, for his stuff while he's sleeping with us.

Cheap, functional, small enough for our room but big enough for the main things we need, reusable later as storage for other stuff.... What more could we ask for? We also bought more baby stuff... Teething rings, newborn mittens to keep him from scratching himself, bottles, nipples, wipes....

We also bought a duffel bag to start packing for the hospital. So far it has my new fluffy houseshoes, Michael's new tennis shoes, his two new pairs of jeans, his two new t-shirts, his new pack of socks, and the few snack items (Dum Dum suckers, snack crackers, and spoons) we bought to have with us. Yes, I realise the bag is more for me than him. He has clothes already packed because we bought them Monday, and I went ahead and packed them so I wouldn't have to try to figure out where I put them later. Next Monday I plan on packing my stuff. We may have to buy another duffel bag. This one is only a 24" bag.... What can I say? We don't travel EVER, so we have no luggage.

I guess over the next two weeks, we'll also be installing the car seat base in my car. I can just see my husband, trying to figure out the LATCHes to install this thing without my help, while I sit in the hospital room, waiting for him to finish so we can be discharged to go home.... LOL. I think I'll handle, or at least oversee, this one. I tend to do better with written instructions than he does.

This is my last week working on shift. Beginning next Tuesday, I'll be working four 10-hour days, Tuesday through Friday. This will go on hopefully until the last Friday of this month, at which point I will take my leave. The position I'll be filling on light duty will be a desk job, where I'll be able to get up and walk around if I need to, but I won't have to be on my feet as much as I am some days right now.

I found a new blog today.....

Noah's Road is a blog written by the parents of 6-month old Noah, who was shaken by his daycare provider on April 20, 2009. He spent almost three weeks in PICU. He is home now, doing somewhat better. Due to waiting to go to trial, his parents can't give many details, even of how Noah is doing physically. Their journey has been difficult, and surely won't become easy any time soon. Their son is going through physical and occupational therapy, and seeing neurologists, opthomologists, and who knows what other kind of medical specialist.

Please go by their blog and read their story, and pray for them tonight. If you have children, remember to hug them tight, and kiss them goodnight, and tell them you love them. Remember to thank God that they are healthy. There are so many out there who were born sick or grew sick, so many who may not make it home. So many who may not see their first birthday. Thank God my children are healthy, so far. I can't imagine what these parents must be going through.

I don't know if it's all the hormones in my body getting ramped up to prepare for labor or what, but I'm sitting at work crying over this little boy's story. If anyone walks in the room, they'll all think I'm nuts. I don't understand who would be capable of doing something like this to a five month old child, or why they would do this. This was a childcare worker who should know better. I guess it's not up to me to understand, though. It is for God to understand.

Please pray for this family. When they dropped their son off at daycare, he was happy, healthy.... "Normal". I can't imagine what terror they must have felt when they got the phone call that changed their lives forever. What anger I think I would surely feel for the woman who did this. The heartbreak they feel every night, as they sit up watching their child sleep. I can't imagine......

May 12, 2009

Food Review - Great Value brand pizza

I used to love Great Value brand pizzas from Walmart. Similar in taste to national, name-brand frozen rising-crust pizzas, but more economical. They were a good value for the money. We bought them all the time.

It's been a while since we bought one. Yesterday, during my "I-don't-care-what-we-buy-I-didn't-make-a-list-I'm-too-tired-and-spaced-out-to-care-let's-just-buy-a-bunch-of-stuff-and-figure-out-a-menu-later" grocery shopping experience, we grabbed two Great Value frozen pizzas, a pepperoni and a three-meat. Both were "rising Foccacia crust" pizzas. I noticed the box has been changed, but hoped the quality and taste were still there.

It wasn't. Quality, maybe. Taste, definitely not. The three-meat pizza had sausage on it that was so spicy, I scraped it off my pizza. The pepperoni was OK, I suppose. I did not like the crust on either pizza, nor the sauce. I like a saucy pizza. My mom would have loved the amount of sauce on these. (It was barely there. My mom doesn't like pizza dripping with sauce, which to me is the best way to eat pizza.)

General consensus around my house was the same as my thoughts. None of the five of us liked either pizza. And we love pizza around my house! (Well, except for my husband. He likes a really good pizza, but he isn't a pizza LOVER like the rest of us. The rest of us could eat pizza every day for the rest of our lives and be happy.)

I will not buy these again. I only bought them for the sake of saving a buck or two on each pizza. I will definitely buy DiGiorno or Freschetta next time, and spend the extra money gladly.

I will add, these are the only two we have tried since they (apparently) changes their pizza recipe. I can't speak for the pizzas with other toppings or crusts.

Anyone else tried them? Did you like them or hate them?

Menu Plan Monday - one day late

Menu Plan Monday is hosted at I'm An Organizing Junkie. Head on over to check out other menus from fabulous bloggers.

Yesterday we went grocery shopping. I did not make a menu or grocery list for the week. We winged it when we got to the store. Good thing, I guess. Halfway through the store, I was out of breath, but determined to finish. So we took a break, slowed our pace, and finished the job. After checking out, I sat in the car while Michael unloaded our buggies.

Keep in mind, we didn't just go shopping at Piggly Wiggly. No, sir. Walmart. See, there were still things we needed for the baby, little things like rubbing alcohol and cotton balls and such. We also needed chlorine for the pool, a bag to pack for the hospital, and a cart for baby's clothes the first few weeks or longer (while he's rooming in with us). I should have known I couldn't do a full-on Walmart trip anymore. Thankfully, soon I will be on leave, and the couple of trips I am likely to take to town before I actually have to go to the hospital, I can spread out over a couple of days each week if I need to.

OK, now down to the actual business of the post: our pitiful menu for the week.

Monday, May 11, 2009
Frozen Pizza

Tuesday,May 12, 2009
Sub sandwiches

Wednesday,May 13, 2009
Spaghetti (not sure if we have meat for this or not - may be meatless spaghetti sauce, but I don't care at this point)
Garlic bread

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Chili dogs

Friday, May 15, 2009
Frozen Lasagna (yes, late pregnancy has me resigned to frozen over homemade, but again, I don't care)
Garlic bread

Saturday, May 16, 2009
Sloppy Joes

Sunday, May 17, 2009
I don't know yet, whatever we can find to throw together (again, I don't really care at this point.)

I just remembered, we did buy a large box of corn dogs. If we have enough left, maybe we can have them for dinner Sunday. Or the guys can eat some red beans and rice or something we have in the cabinet. If I don't like what they fix (ala, red BEANS and rice), then I can eat a sub sandwich again, or leftover sloppy joes or something.

Sorry some of my menu items leave much to desire this week. I'm exhausted, mentally not physically, and having a hard time holding my thoughts together to form coherent sentences when I speak. I can not mentally handle all that goes into making a real menu and grocery list right now. Give me a break, I'm almost 34 weeks pregnant. Guess my mind knows I have better things to deal with.

Maybe I'll make the guys come up with a menu, one full of all-time faves that I can shop for and cook from memory. Then I can do like I did two weeks ago, with the list and cooking instructions and all. On the other hand, sandwiches and hot dogs will save a lot on the brain power and electricity and prep time involved in menu planning. Maybe I'll just leave it as-is the next few weeks. It was easy to shop this week. Actual groceries consisted of:

3 pounds of sliced cheese
6 pounds of various lunch meat (turkey, chicken, ham)
two loaves of bread
a big pack of hot dogs
a 12-pack of hot dog buns
a 12-pack of hamburger buns
3 packs of sub rolls
I forget how many cans of chili sauce, I just grabbed somewhere around 8 and threw them in the buggy
a jumbo can of Manwich sauce
two frozen pizzas
a 3-pound frozen lasagna
I also bought water, Mountain Dew, milk, eggs, sausage, food for work, and such (basically staples in my house)

I know for sure I have spaghetti sauce and noodles at home, and I think at least a few loaves of French bread (or some other bread) and a couple of pounds of ground beef frozen. If not, oh well. I don't care. We'll have spaghetti with garlic hamburger buns or something, or no bread at all if we don't have any acceptable substitute in the freezer. If we don't have any ground beef, we'll have meatless spaghetti and nix the sloppy joes for something we do have. Everyone should just be glad we actually have any food at all.

May 8, 2009

Frugal Friday

Frugal Friday is hosted over on Life As Mom. Check it out for great frugal ideas!

My frugal tip today is for laundry detergent. Being pregnant, I prefer to buy those big jumbo bottles of laundry detergent and fabric softener. You know the ones:

I keep mine on the shelf above my washer for easy access, and because if it drips, it goes right into or on the washer for easy clean-up. I don't have to pick a heavy bottle up over and over, straining muscles best left unstrained at the moment. Besides, it has always hurt my wrists to pick up a big bottle of detergent. They're too heavy for my carpal tunnel to manage.

To cut down on our costs, and because it's more environmentally friendly, I reuse our big jumbo-size bottles. When we get low on detergent or softener, I buy a regular or medium sized bottle at the grocery store. The bottle is normally big enough to fill our jumbo bottle up halfway. I then fill our bottle the rest of the way with some water.

It's a thrifty way to fool the guys. They don't know my secret. My reason behind this is, no matter what size load they wash, they use the same amount of detergent and fabric softener. Also, I have a Downy ball and Tide Kick we use in the wash for dispensing detergent and softener. The guys will fill each dispenser all the way up, no matter how soiled or large the load of laundry is. This keeps them from using too much.

Only I know the secret of the detergent. My husband caught me during the watter-adding step of refilling our bottles this way once. He thinks it was because we were almost out of detergent, and I was tyring to make it stretch until grocery day! In reality, I do this every time we open a new bottle! I have trained the guys to not throw away my big bottles when they empty. Doing this has seriously decreased our consumption of laundry products.

I used to wonder why we ran out of detergent so fast. I started keeping track of the number of loads we were getting out of one bottle of detergent and fabric softener, and secretly watched them do a few loads of laundry. That's when I figured out what was happening. We weren't washing that many loads of laundry, they were using almost waaaaayyyyy too much detergent each load! We now get the "recommended" amount of loads out of a bottle before I have to buy another one. So far, so good. I just make sure the guys are all gone or outside when I refill our big dispenser bottles. If they catch on, my great idea might not work anymore! Also, I try to do this after all my laundry is done, so the soap bubbles inside the bottle have time to settle down before I need to use the detergent. Just a personal preference of mine, I guess. I've never noticed any difference if I use the watered-down version right away or the next day.

Another thing to note, I don't know if they've ever noticed the difference in the thickness of the detergent or not, but I started this about the time Tide swapped around their formula and started charging almost twice the old price for the same amount of loads. I think that if they noticed, they may be under the impression that the "formula swap" in Tide may have something to do with the detergent looking a little thinner than it used to. It isn't much of a difference, just a little thinner looking after everything gets mixed together thoroughly in the bottle. I end up with about a 70/30 mix of detergent and water, so there's more cleaner than water in there, which helps keep it slightly on the thicker side.

Yes, I know, I'm crazy. Nutty as a fruitcake, right here baby. But it works on my guys. That's all that matters. :) Some days, you have to be on your toes around here to keep ahead of the guys.

May 7, 2009

And also......

I feel sooooo much better today, thanks. I woke up still sleepy, due to the 5 or 6 bathroom trips I made last night, not to mention the 10+ times I turned from one side to the other trying to get comfortable. But MUCH less general fatigue. I think taking yesterday off did the trick.

Yesterday, we slept until the tornado sirens woke me up. At that point, once I figured out that the sirens were really sounding, I figured I better turn the TV on to check it out. I had been woken up just a little before by thunder. (In response to the [literally] house-shaking thunder waking me up, I promptly turned over and went right back to sleep. Priorities, you know???) Turning the tv on woke Michael up. Of course. So we got up and watched thelocal forcasters broadcast all warnings around us.

Then we got dresses and went for breakfast. We stopped by Ann and Randy's to visit for a few minutes. Went home. I fetched the paper and mail, and curled up on the couch with a blanket and the pint of Butter Pecan we bought at S&Z. Michael swept and mopped the living room while I lay on the couch watching. (Hey, he forbid me to do work in the house yesterday.) On a trip to the bathroom, I noticed the toilet could REALLY use cleaning. And the floor needed to be swept.

So, I shook out the bath rug and folded it up to lay on the sink. Then I realized that I was "dusted in" the room. I had shook out the rug all over my socks, and in between me and the door. Smart, huh? So I got the broom, and swept up just enough of the dust from the rug to give me a path from the toilet to the door. I moved the trash can, toilet scrubber holder, and book basket.I swept behind the toilet and sink. Scrubbed the toilet, and wiped it down. Threw the scrubber away (thank God for disposable toilet scrubbing pads), and told my dear loving husband that he could finish sweeping the other half of the bathroom. I did end up eventually putting back the toilet scrubber and book basket. He put back the trash can and bath rug.

After that, I didn't do anything the rest of the day. I refused. I stayed on the couch 90% of the rest of the day. If not for the trips to the bathroom, to get something to drink, now I'm hungry, etc., I would have stayed on the couch 100% of the rest of the day.

Anyway, all that to say, I did almost absolutely nothing yesterday but lay around, and today I feel 100% better. Well, maybe not 100%, but more like I felt five or six weeks ago. Like I can manage working until Sunday evening. Since my next day off is Monday. Which will be spent paying bills, buying groceries, and going to the doctor. Yay. (Actually, yay to the doctor's appointment, boo to everything else.)

As promised: An update on weight gain

My mother is concerned about my health, and is worried I may be eating too much too often. Normally this would cause a "WTF?" reaction in me, but this time it doesn't. My mother is concerned about this for good reason. She has a genetic auto-immune disease, Celiac disease. It is hereditary. She also has been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity or allergy. (Sorry, pregnancy brain is keeping me from remembering, and I'm too lazy to go through my archived emails on the subject right now to figure out which.)

Since she has both, all three of us kids (myself, my seester, and my brother) each have a 100% chance of having at least one of these conditions/diseases, if not of having both. Celiac can cause devastating effects in pregnancy, in severe cases. We have wondered if I have Celiac, since I exhibit several of the symptoms. My mother is worried that my gigantic appetite is connected to Celiac. (Don't worry, none of this offends me, since I, too, am shocked some days by the sheer amount of food I have to consume to keep my stomach from screaming at me every few hours!)

Anyway, the purpose of my post: my total weight gain for this pregnancy. Yesterday morning, after my trip to the bathrrom and before getting dressed, I weighed myself. I weighed in at: 166.2, for a total weight gain of 21.2 pounds. Pretty good, I think. I still have 13.8 pounds, give or take, that I can gain and be in the "normal healthy weight gain" range. Last time, I gained something more like 40 pounds. Of course, last time I was alotted that extra gain by my doctor for health concerns. So far Roberta says I'm right in range for weight gain, and have been so far the whole pregnancy.

This morning, I weighed 166.6 pounds, but I didn't have a BM yesterday, so I'm discounting that extra 0.4 pounds. :) Even so, that would only put me at 21.6 pounds. Well within the so-called "norm".

And also, the guys at work are now making jokes on how many times a day I eat. They're all good-natured, as they all are married and have kids, so they know what's up with my 5 meals a day. :) Most of them have said their wives ate like this in the last weeks of pregnancy. The women I've talked to at work all say they did, too. I think my Mom was maybe just "abnormal" in her eating and appetite. :) [Just kidding! Love you Mommy!!! XOXOXO]

May 5, 2009

Cleaning a window-type air conditioner - posted for Susan

Susan posted her Tackle It Tuesday chore over at 5 Minutes for Mom. She cleaned up her portable air conditioner. I thought I would post more detailed instructions on how she can do this and get every bit of gunk out of it (or as close to it as possible without tearing the whole thing apart). I have, after all, cleaned one or two (or thirty) of these before. So, in honor of Susan's post, here's my method for cleaning window-type air conditioners. (I apologise in advance, but I have no pictures for you. Two years ago we bought our house, and we're fortunate enough to have a central heating and cooling unit, so I no longer have the joy of dealing with this chore two to three times a year. Anyone who does this and posts pictures can feel free to post their link in my comments below for everyone else.)

It's that time of year again. My Southern brothers and sisters most likely know what I'm talking about. For those who have window air conditioning units, it's time to take them down and clean them really good. When you live in an area that regularly gets high temperatures near or over 100&degF for weeks on end in the summer, this can be your most important spring-cleaning related job. Sometimes, it has to be repeated again in mid-summer at least once. A clean unit just cools better than a dirty one.

Don't be afraid. It won't hurt you to do this. All you need are:
  1. someone to lift the unit and carry it outside to the driveway/patio/wherever
  2. degreasing cleaner
  3. a scrub brush
  4. a hose with sprayer
  5. a screwdriver (to fit the screws holding the outer cover on)
  6. a nice, cool morning (preferably) so you don't sweat yourself half to death while you wait on your house to cool back down
Here's what to do to get started.

Unplug the unit. Take it out of the window/wall sleeve/etc and carry it outside. Place it in the driveway, on the patio, on your porch.... Anywhere that has a hard, relatively flat surface that will produce the least amount of mud while you're doing this. It does no good to clean your air conditioner, then get mud all in it. Take off the cover if there is one (should be held on with screws). Soak the coils down with your water hose, then with a degreasing-type cleaner (just the el-cheapo dollar store or store brand version; or even better - a natural degreaser). Matter of fact, spray everything you can (not electrical controls, etc.) with the cleaner. Spray the air vents, the front grill (where the filter goes), everywhere. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes or so. You may need two or more bottles of cleaner. You want to soak this baby down really well. Don't be shy.

Scrub the radiator with a brush (one with metal bristles will work best, but any scrub brush will do), being careful to not bend or crush the "radiator fin" part of the coils. Scrub the other parts of the unit with a nylon-bristle scrub brush (a dish-washing brush or fingernail brush will work great here). Hose out the unit very well, especially the coils. Rinse until the water runs clean and all of the cleaner is washed away.

Let all the water drain out of the unit, and let the unit dry thoroughly before putting the cover and any other pieces (vent pieces, etc.) you may have removed back on. After dry and the cover is back on, put the unit back where it belongs. Making sure the unit is COMPLETELY dry, plug it up and give it a try for just a minute. Bet it works better!

Dish detergent and a fingernail scrub brush are excellent for cleaning the front filter on a regular basis, also. It will remove all the greasy, gunky buildup and dust better than anything I've found.
Just do it in the morning, before it gets hot (or warm). Turn your unit off, remove and wash the filter. Don't scrub hard enough to break the filter, it doesn't take much pressure to get it clean this way. The sprayer attachment on your kitchen sink will work well for rinsing the detergent from the filter. (While you're at it, why not clean your dryer's lint filter this way, too? You've already got the necessary detergent and scrub brush out. You can let the two filters dry together.) Let your filter (air conditioner or dryer) get completely dry before putting it back in your machine.

I am lucky enough to have central air now, but it hasn't been but a couple of years since I lived in a place that had a window air conditioning unit in one window of every room. (It really does get that hot here in the summer!) I always liked to hang my filters outside in the shade to dry (we had a covered porch I could hang them from). The heat outside, plus the breeze blowing, dried my filters really fast. I never tried it in the sun, so I don't know if this would hurt them or not.

The main things to remember are:
1. Natural cleaners are best for this, as you'll be doing this outside, and you need to be mindful of what chemicals you put on/in the ground. What you use may run off into your town's drinking supply. Some products will be more preferred for this than others. If you must use a non-natural commercial cleaner, try Dawn dish detergent, diluted in water and poured in a spray bottle.
2. Let everything dry thoroughly before putting the unit back together, plugging it up, etc.
3. This is best done now, before the need for air conditioning becomes greater. I speak from experience when I say, you don't want to wait until the middle of a 95+ degree afternoon to HAVE to do this because your air conditioner quit cooling your house.
4. Clean your removable filters at least once a month, preferably every week or two. It will help your unit work better, and last longer. Try to clean them in the mornings, when the need for air conditioning isn't as great as late afternoon.

Update on yesterday

So, yesterday was not a day of rest. We dropped the car off for an oil change and went to St aple's for another filing box so I could work on my kitchen table. Then we went to Lowe's to buy Michael a new skilsaw and saws-all, and me a rug pad for our living room rug (it slides across the hardwood - not too safe).

Then it was off to Jody's Optical to see my seester. She had bought me a present, and she wanted me to come pick it up while we were in town. Guess what she got me.... The book Love You Forever!!! I've been looking for it every time we go to Wal-mart, and haven't been able to find it. Well, she found it and bought it! SQUEEEEE!!!

Then we walked down to Piggly Wiggly for a few items that we had run out of. I just went grocery shopping last Monday, but I've been eating 5 times a day, sometimes 6!!!

Then it was time to go for my checkup at Roberta's. We got there and signed in. I noticed the waiting room was empty except for us, but I thought maybe it was just because Dr. Carlota was out of the office. The receptionist noticed we were there, and told us that Rpberta was out delivering a baby. We could either wait, come back at 2:30 (it was 11:30 right then), or reschedule for next Monday. So we rescheduled. Next Monday it is.

After rescheduling our appointment, we went to see if the car was ready. It was in the garage on the rack when we pulled up, so we waited. After getting our keys from the mechanic, Michael called and ordered us bacon cheeseburgers from S&Z. I followed him until he pulled off there. I went home, got in the mail, and waited on my burger. After eating, he cut grass and cleaned up the yard while I worked on the table.

I got the table half cleaned off before dinner time. I threw away half of the stuff I cleaned off the table. If it wasn't ours, it got thrown away. (We still get junk mail for people who lived there before us, and for Mamaw. It sometimes gets lost on the table.) If it was an old newspaper, it got thrown away, read or not. Junk mail, garbage or shredder. Bills that have been paid, filed. Coupons, stored in coupon organizer or thrown away. All Michael's screwdrivers and stuff he's piled up there, taken back out to the shed with his other tools. Unread magazines, dumped in a shoebox-sized plastic tote for reading or giving away. (Maybe I can use some of them for reading material during my maternity leave and hospital stay?? All I know is, there's no way I'm throwing away Better Homes and Gardens, American Baby, and Michael's Field and Stream magazines without looking through them first.)

I also created temp files in one of my file boxes for crafting ideas, recipes to add to my MasterCook software, paint samples for painting our bedroom (one day, I hope), and stuff like that.

I also cooked dinner last night! Lemon Pepper Chicken, mashed potatoes, shells and cheese, salad, and Texas toast. (Easy cooking with Lawry's Lemon Pepper marinade. I don't marinade - just pour it over th etop of the chicken pieces, add a little water to the bottom of the baking dish, and bake until the chicken is cooked through.)

After eating dinner, I got Aaron to put up the leftovers, I neatly stacked my file boxes and stuff back on the far edge of the kitchen table, out of the way. (Mainly so we could walk through the kitchen around the table this morning!) After stacking everything up there, over half the table was clear! Yay me!

Then I went to bed. I was exhausted. I woke up this morning still tired. I started to cancel my overtime today, but the thought of missing out on duoble overtime made me come to work anyway. I'm going to tell my boss today that I'm canceling tomorrow. It's only regular time-and-a-half overtime, so quite a difference in the amount of money lost by canceling tomorrow instead of today. I may have them cancel one overtime day each week from now on, giving me two days off and five days on. Or I may have them swap me to 40 hour weeks until I take my leave. It depends on how I feel after I work the rest of this week (except tomorrow).

May 3, 2009

New Item: SaraBear Diaper Caddy

Meet the SaraBear diaper caddy. Totally cool, awesomely stylish, completely practical. Bigger than the caddy I already have. They come in several colors, so finding one that fits with the style of my house shouldn't be too much of a problem. If it is, I can always make one, right? I'm thinking, a little fabric, a basket, and some iron-on hemming tape should do the trick.

But why, you ask, is this such an awesome thing for me to want several, or at least a few? Because, dear readers and friends, my baby's room is upstairs, and our room is downstairs. I know it's not practical. But that's the way my house is built. And it's not practical or feasible to move our room to the upstairs right now. Not enough time, too much stuff, you get the picture. Plus, my doctor won't want me to go up and down the stairs for the first couple of weeks or so anyway.

We already have one (not a SaraBear, and not this color), and I've already started putting stuff in it. (Mainly because we needed the extra space that big box of diapers took up. You know, so we could go buy more diapers.) I'm thinking, one for the living room and one for the bedroom. That way, I won't be sending my dear, sweet husband upstairs five times a day for diapers and wipes and diaper cream and...... Seems smarter to me. I could buy or make one (preferably buy, of course. We all know how this is likely to end if I try to make one now....) to match our living room. This one would kinda match, but not really.

The one we have already matches both the bay's room and our bedroom. By having two caddies, hopefully it will eliminate having to bring one caddy from bedroom to living room, then it's time to go to bed, and in the middle of the night you realize you left the darn thing in the living room. Kinda fits in with my motto: Work smarter, not harder.

Note to self: also need to buy two or three plastic rolling cart-with-drawer thingies for storing baby stuff in the bedroom the first few weeks. Since there's no need in even trying to clear out a dresser drawer. It won't ever happen, unless it gets done during my leave while I'm nesting. Also need one or two more under-bed storage boxes for our bedroom. Or some space bags. Either way, they're just going to be storing old sheets and stuff I really don't need right now, since they don't fit my bed. And don't forget to look for some kinda diaper caddy to match the living room, SaraBear brand or not.

May 2, 2009

My crazy pregnancy/labor dream

Ok, so I know pregnant women are supposed to have really weird, extremely out there dreams at least a few times while they're pregnant. I haven't had but one or two so far. The one I had last night takes the cake, boys and girls. Fair warning, it's a doozy. Some might even think it's kinda graphic, sick, or just plain TMI. What I'm describing below does have a certain EWWWWW factor about it. If you read what I've written below, don't complain about it later when you can't get the images out of your mind. You've been warned.

The dream went like this:
It was time to be expecting the baby any day now. The bag was packed, carseat installed. Ready to go. And then I went into labor. My water broke. For some unknown reason, I decided to deliver the baby at home, myself, with no doctors or medication or anything. I could feel my contractions mounting, but they didn't hurt. I mean, I could feel the squeezing and pressure from the contractions, but they didn't hurt.

So I was sitting on the couch in our living room, except it was our couch, but not our living room. I had a clock, and we were timing my contractions. The whole family was at our house. I mean whole family as in both my and Michael's sides, plus our friends.... People everywhere, except no one was in the living room except me and Michael.

The time finally comes for me to push. So I sit back on the couch, and the baby's head pops through my.......... Stomach. Seriously, like in Alien. He crowns through my uterine wall, through my abdominal muscles, through my skin, and his head pops out of my stomach, just above and to the right of my belly button. He was face up and looking straight into my eyes, drawing his first deep breaths with no help. He didn't cry, only smiled instead. And it didn't hurt at all! Then, I reached down, grabbed his head, and pulled his body out of my stomach through the hole his head made. There was no blood, no gore, nothing. Just a clean baby and a hole in my stomach the size of a key lime.

Don't ask me how my child's head and body squeezed through a hole in my stomach the size of a key lime. I mean, I know they squeeze out of small, ummm, holes to begin with when you deliver them. I just remember, in my dream it seemed so odd that an entire baby could stretch that little bitty hole in my stomach enough to get out without ripping me wide open.

After I pulled him out, we clamped and cut the cord. Still no pain. Michael held him. Then my placenta began detaching. That's when the pain hit. More a stinging sensation that a stabbing one. Like I could feel my placenta peeling itself away from the wall of my uterus. After it detached, I pulled it out through the hole in my stomach and threw it in the garbage. Then I went to the bathroom, bandaged the hole in my stomach, and changed clothes. The hole left a little jagged scar on my stomach after it healed.

I told you, weird. Funny thing is, today I woke up with my stomach hurting in the exact spot that busted open in my dream. I think he was either headbutting or kicking me in that spot while I slept. It is sore today. Almost like it's bruised on the inside.

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup/Taco Soup (Recipe Two-fer!)

I know this isn't on my menu for this time, but this is SO GOOD!!! Of course, you could cook it on the stove all day, too. For stove top preparation, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a low simmer and let it sit and cook all day.

Crockpot Tortilla Soup


2 or 3 frozen chicken breasts (Split halves, boneless skinless, whatever you have. You can also use thawed chicken breasts if you have them. Point is, you can throw them in frozen if you forgot to thaw them!)

2 cans chicken broth or other broth (chicken will be better in this, but use whatever you have)

1 can Mexican style stewed tomatoes (could also use Rotel, Italian style, or plain stewed tomatoes)

1 can blackbeans, rinsed

Frozen or canned corn (Use as much as you like, doesn't matter. Just pour some in. Any kind, Mexican style, whole kernel, etc. As long as it's whole kernel some-kinda-corn, it'll be OK.)

1 small can (8oz) tomato paste

1 pkg taco seasoning

1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 to 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced)

You can also add whatever else would sound good to you. Diced carrots, onions, celery, green chilis; hominy, Tabasco, bouillon cubes..... (I like a little lime juice, just a few drops, to give it more flavor.)

1. Dump everything into your crockpot or stew pot. Stir it a few times, just to mix it all up.

2. For crockpot, cook on low all day, or on high for 4-6 hours. Of course, no need to stir the pot while it's cooking!

3. For stove top prep, bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and cook on low at least 6 hours, up to all day. Stir this a few times when cooking on the stove top to prevent sticking or scorching, etc.

4. Before serving, pull out chicken breasts and shred. Return chicken to pot.

Top this with guacamole, salsa, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips, Fritos, shredded cheese, or anything you like. (I like some sour cream, shredded cheese, and salsa. I like some tortilla chips on the side for dipping into this.)

To turn this into taco soup, use 1 pound browned ground beef instead of the chicken. Leave out the garlic. Cook as directed above.

Either of these variations can be made in a double batch and then what's left after dinner can be frozen to eat later. Which I suppose makes this a double two-fer recipe, doesn't it? :)

May 1, 2009

The irony of my life......

I go to a blog I read to see her update, and I see this:

Oh, the irony.

If anyone is interested, the link from this ad is:
Celiac Central

I tried it. It basically asks if you have any of the more common symptoms, or have deen diagnosed with certain conditions, and if you have an immediate family member diagnosed with a condition like Celiac. It then provides a printable copy of the form, with suggestions for talking to your doctor. It offers no opinion on if you are likely to have a disease like Celiac, saying only that "multiple symptoms" may indicate a need for testing.

My first blog award

Yesterday afternoon I was given my first ever blog award. Buckin gave it to me. Her blog is Rubber Baby Buckin Bumpers. Now I must pass the Zombie Chicken Award on to other, more worthy, bloggers.

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…"

And now for the passing of the torch.... I like love the blogs Buckin handed this award off to, but in the interest of passing on new blogs, I will pick:

The Heir to Blair (yes, I know... GTFO! I'll probably get an eviction notice from her for this, but I'm still gifting her this award... It's all Buckin's fault!)

Obviously You're an Idiot - a quite truthful look at all the stupidity around us every day.

$5 Dinners (menu plans and recipes, most of which are cheap to make, but still delicious!)

I'm an Organizing Junkie (the home of Menu plan Monday)

A Year of Crockpotting (she doesn't post here as much as she used to, but this lady used her crockpot EVERY DAY for a YEAR! There are tons of crockpot recipes here!)

Honorable mention goes to my mom and sister. They both work a lot, so don't update much, but I'd fight off zombie chickens to read their stuff, too!

Now, Sissy or Mom, email me and tell me how to add my award to my side bar!!! I'd try to figure it out, but my brain refuses to cooperate today! It's so bad, spell-check is my BFF today, along with other remedies..... (Mountain Dew, Cheez-its, blogging....) I have literally edited this thing like, 5 times since I originally posted it. I keep finding things wrong with it.... :/

Dear Sissy,

I will not delete the recipe posts. I promise. They will be here until Blogger do us part. I am tagging all of them, so they'll be easier to find later on. I know you can only cook Chef Boyardee, Hot Pockets, frozen pizza, HH, oven toast, and mac and cheese. I feel bad for whatever guy you ever marry. I can see what your weekly menu would look like. Maybe I can fix that before that time comes. I sure hope so. Either that, or you need to marry a chef! Just remember when cooking for Mom, these are not GF, so appropriate substitutions need to be taken.

If I do not forget, I will try to come to Jody's Monday. I have a checkup and an appointment to get my car serviced, and I need some more breakfast stuff for work, since I didn't buy enough the other day, and I just realized today that I'll be out halfway through next week. :)

You know, I just realized something. You may actually be onto something with your cooking abilities. It would be mucho easier to walk into the grocery store with this list:

12 cans Chef Boyardee
4 boxes Easy Mac
4 pounds hamburger meat
4 boxes Hamburger Helper
1 box instant potatoes
10 frozen pizzas
10 boxes Hot pockets
2 loaves bread
5 boxes cereal
2 gallons milk

Five nights a week you could cook:
Monday - Chef Boyardee
Tuesday - Pizza
Wednesday - Hamburger Helper, Easy Mac, and instant mashed potatoes
Thursday - Hot Pockets
Friday - Cereal and oven toast

That would give you 20 meals, plus extra Easy Mac and cereal. That would feed two people lunch on the weekends. You could stop at drive-throughs for breakfast every day at 1:00. (You know, since Sonic serves breakfast all day, and they have new CroisSonic sandwiches! Did you see them? They look sooooo good! And their breakfast burritos.... MMMMM!) The other two nights you could go to Sonic or Subway or Arby's. Every once in a while, skip the Hamburger Helper in favor of KFC, Captain D's, Krystal's, Little Cesar's, Bojangles, Wendy's, Hardee's, Zaxby's or Papa Johns. You know, for variety.

You may be on to a good idea here. I'm gonna have to try this menu myself for a week. Of course, I'd have to triple the shopping list, throw in 10 extra boxes of Hot Pockets, 2 gallons of milk, 4 dozen eggs, two boxes of sausage patties, a case of canned biscuits, coffee, sugar, and some MD and breakfast stuff for me, just to feed us that one week. Still cheaper than my normal list though!

I love you seester, and I hope this gave you a laugh or two! You know I'm playing. (But seriously, that menu and grocery list I made for you doesn't sound half bad right now!)

Big Seester (and getting bigger by the day, it seems!)