Thursday, February 28, 2013

Death by Chocolate

Last night, Crystal came by and brought me a gift from one of our Senior Thesis students. Mattie was thinking about me and wanted to give me the World's Largest Hershey's Bar. It is five pounds of solid chocolate.

I call it Temptation with a capital T. I happen to love chocolate.

What to do, what to do.

Don suggested I send it to Peter at school. It was a good idea, but I know Peter, and he would not eat this chocolate bar. Neither would Daniel or Katherine. They have too much self control. Don doesn't like chocolate, so he's out too.

I could eat it, but if I unwrapped it and started in on it, I could end up eating five pounds of chocolate all in one sitting. Then Don would have to take me to the hospital because I'd be in a coma.

I've decided to save it for the Senior Thesis party in May. I will take it back to Mattie and her classmates. We will chop it up and distribute it evenly to the 24 students in the class. Crystal and I can have some too. That way no one will be in danger of death by chocolate.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No Pain, No Gain

This is all I have to say about physical therapy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Life as a Librarian

I was cruising through old pictures on my computer and I came across a folder called "VCA Scrapbook." These pictures were from my last year working as a school librarian.

One of the things I loved to do was read aloud to the  kids. Mostly they would be captivated by the story and behave while I was reading, but once in awhile there were students who couldn't sit still.

As an incentive for paying attention to the story, each week I'd choose a different student who behaved well to choose a puzzle piece from a hat and glue it to the wall. The puzzle would come together piece by piece, and the kids loved to guess what the picture would be when it was completed.

Shelving all the books that came back was a time-consuming task, so each year I would hire older students to come in at lunch one day a week to shelve books.  They loved to do it - especially when it was cold outside - and I paid them in books from the book fair.

Contrary to popular belief, boys like the library just as much as girls.

A highlight in the fall was the annual book fair. It was a crazy, crazy two weeks of setting up, selling and tearing down. Fortunately, I always had plenty of parent volunteers for this event.

The library mascot was Chester the mouse. A sweet little 5th grader loved that mouse. She grabbed him up every time she came to the library, so when I left, Chester went to Caleigh for safe-keeping.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Full House

The house came alive this afternoon. All three kids were home and grandma came for a visit too. I made my chicken and stuffing casserole using one hand while Don went to pick up his mom. The kids slept in, and came down just in time to lift the heavy pan into the oven and set the table.

Don and his mom enjoyed watching the Accenture golf match play on TV (must have been a difficult shot based on the looks on their faces).

Peter was also into the game.

 It wasn't easy getting these shots using one hand. I might have a little camera shake in there.

It really lifted my spirits to have the whole family in one room again!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Middle of the Night Playlist

When I wake up in the middle of the night and need to get hooked up to the ice machine, I grab my iPod and listen to some music that soothes my soul.

I could listen to the rhythmic hissing and puffing of the ice machine, but that gets old in about 30 seconds.

Here's what I've been listening to:

At Your Name by Phil Wickham

Blessed Be Your Name by Tree 63

Can't Get Away by Rush of Fools

Everything I Need by Kutless

How He Loves by David Crowder Band

I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin

If You Want Me To by Ginny Owens

Love Never Fails by Brandon Heath

Never Let Go by David Crowder Band

Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crown

Still My Soul, Be Still by Keith and Kristin Getty

There Will Be a Day by Jeremy Camp

Word of God Speak by MercyMe

You're Beautiful by Phil Wickham

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Left Arm

Before I had my shoulder surgery, I practiced doing everything with just my left arm. I wanted to find out if I would run into any difficulties and be prepared. My doctor made sure I knew I wasn't going to be able lift my right arm for 5-6 weeks.

I found out quickly that brushing my teeth was going to be a problem, so I picked up a cheap electric toothbrush at Wal-Mart.

Getting dressed was also going to be a problem without some zip front and button front shirts. I picked up a couple of those. Pull on pants are much easier to handle than those with zippers and snaps. Slip on shoes would be a must unless I wanted to ask Don to tie my shoes.

One thing that was surprisingly difficult was drying off after a shower. A regular size towel was too heavy to used one-handed, so I decided to get some hand towels in place. Those turned out to be too slow at doing the job, so I remembered my terrycloth bathrobe. I just put that on and let it dry me while I'm taking care of other things.

I have a feeling my left arm is going to be really strong in six weeks and my right arm is going to be mush.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Good Day Granola

Crystal came to visit me the day after surgery. She brought dinner and a batch of granola for me. I ate up the granola for breakfast and sometimes lunch the first few days. It was very tasty. I told her I wanted the recipe, and she brought it over today with another batch already made! Yippee! It contains lots of fiber, something all of us can use, right?

Here is how to make it:

Good Day Granola

8 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1  1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unprocessed bran
1 1/2 cups natural wheat germ (not toasted or honeyed)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raw flax seeds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup honey
2 t. vanilla
2 cups raisins (optional) - she left them out

Stir oats, brown sugar, bran, wheat germ, walnuts and flax seeds in a large bowl. Put oil, honey and vanilla in a small saucepan; heat, stirring until bubbly. Pour liquid over dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly.

Divide oat mixture evenly and spread on two rimmed cookie sheets. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring once to keep granola evenly browned. While it cools, stir mixture several times to keep it from sticking together. When completely cooled, add raisins. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 16 cups.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Make-Shift Hospital Bed

I've been having a terrible time sleeping. After a week in the recliner, I'd had enough. Thursday night, I tried sleeping with a couple of pillows under my head and one under my shoulder and arm, but I woke up after four hours with pain in the range of 6 or 7 on the scale.

I was going to revert back to the recliner last night, but Don wouldn't let me. He said there had to be a better way.

During dinner we discussed the problem. I told him I had researched this, and there was a lady whose husband made her two 6 x 6 inch blocks to lift up the headboard side of her bed. She said it worked great. Don and I both thought of the heavy plastic risers we bought for the kids to lift their dorm beds off the ground. We had four of them in the basement.

So Don lifted  Katherine's twin bed and we slid the risers under. It brought the head of the bed up about six inches. I added a large wedge pillow my friend loaned me and some more pillows. I slept there last night. it wasn't perfect - I still woke up several times with an aching arm, but it was the best sleep I'd had in ten days.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Thank you for loving me for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, and in sickness as well as health.  You're the best Valentine ever.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pain Intensity Scale

I have a new respect for the Pain Intensity Scale the doctors and nurses pull out at some office visits. I've realized that the number a person rates their pain on this scale is relative to how much pain they have ever experienced in their life. Some people live with severe chronic pain every day. They may say that the pain of getting their thumb hammered rates about a 4. If you live your life with very little every day pain, you might rate the thumb hammering pain a 10.

Before I had my shoulder surgery, I told the doctors my pain level went from a 0-10 depending on what I was doing at the moment. Now that I have had the shoulder surgery, I realize I was nowhere near a level 10 on that scale.

A level 10 for me was the moment before giving birth to a child without first having an epidural. Or more recently, the few days after my nerve block wore off, exposing the raw pain of having my shoulder tendon screwed into my shoulder bone. It's when I'm forced into a catatonic state, unable to speak, think or move for an hour or more.

Today, I am happy to say I was at a mere 2 most of the time, and I only took three Vicodin all day. I know tomorrow will be even better. Soon I'll be at a 0 without pain pills unless I'm working on physical therapy exercises. I can't wait.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thankful Today

I know I look the same in this picture as I did in the last picture I posted, but it is five days later, and I am five days more recovered. It makes a BIG difference.

Here are some things I am thankful for today:

1. My Cyro/Cuff Ice Machine. It continuously pumps cold water into that blue thing attached to my shoulder providing relief from pain and swelling.
2. Don. He refills my Cyro/Cuff machine with ice every four hours - even in the middle of the night.
3. Pain Pills. They allow me to be able to talk.  Without them I cannot form words.
4. Friends and Family. These wonderful people keep calling, emailing, dropping by and bringing food.
5. Prune Juice. This, among various and sundry other products, is keeping me from having other problems caused by my lovely pain pills.
6. Zip-Front Tops. Without these, I would be forced to tie a sheet around my body toga-style.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Therapy Dog

This is me two minutes after I got home from surgery. I sat down on the chair and before I knew it, Riley was in my lap.

Don hadn't even had a chance to hook me up to the ice machine yet.

Thanks for all the love and prayers and flowers! And visits, cards and food.

Special thanks to my sister, Carolyn who came to help take care of me for two days. And Don who has been a wonderful nurse to me.

It is very difficult to type left handed! Still in a lot of pain, but hopeful things will improve before long.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Starbella Knitting

My sweet girlfriends and I got together for dinner at 3 Palms restaurant in downtown Hudson tonight. We were missing our friend Karen who couldn't make it. The wood-fired pizza was excellent. We met at 3 Palms because it is located right next to the beautiful Hudson Library and Historical Society.

After dinner, we went to the library and got a little conference room. Our intent was to learn to knit Starbella scarves. Nancy showed up with one around her neck at our December gathering, and she promised to show us how to do it.

The librarians were a little nervous letting us have a room because Nancy asked if it was sound-proof. The librarian said she would knock on the glass if we got too out of control.

We weren't there two minutes before Nancy and Celeste started acting up.

Now where do these needles go? In the ears?

Above the head?

In the head?

Oh, that's more like it!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chicken Florentine Pasta

While I was snowed in yesterday, I watched the Pioneer Woman on Food Network. She made a couple of dishes that looked so easy and delicious. One of them was Chicken Florentine Pasta.

I decided to try it in honor of Don returning home and the Super Bowl game.

The original recipe serves 10 people, which is way more than Don and I need. I cut it in half, and it was still more than Don and I need. But it's good for leftovers.

Chicken Florentine Pasta

8 ounces Penne Pasta
Salt & Pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 bag baby spinach
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Cook pasta according to package directions in lightly salted water. Drain and set aside.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat butter and olive oil over high heat in large skillet. Add chicken chunks in a single layer. Do not stir for a few minutes to allow chicken to brown on the first side. Flip chicken over and brown on other side. Cook chicken until done, then remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Turn the heat to medium. Add garlic and quickly stir to avoid burning. After about 30 seconds, slowly add chicken broth, then wine, stirring to deglaze skillet. Allow liquid to bubble up, and then continue cooking until it is reduced by at least half (most of the surface of the liquid should be bubbling).

Turn heat off. Add the spinach, tomatoes, chicken, cooked pasta and Parmesan shavings to skillet. Toss to combine; the spinach will wilt as you toss everything.

Add more Parmesan shavings and serve immediately. Serve with extra Parmesan shavings.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Punxsutawney Phil

Yeah! It will be an early Spring this year. Punxsutawney  Phil did not see his shadow this morning in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The little groundhog came out of hibernation to whisper into the ear of the president of the local Groundhog Club. In "Groundhogese" he must have said, "Nope, I don't see my shadow, sir."

I didn't see any shadows today either since the Alberta Clipper was blowing through all day. It has not stopped snowing.

Phil has been predicting the weather longer than Dick Goddard - 126 years. He has only predicted an early spring 15 times. With an accuracy rate of 39%, we can't really count on the little rodent. We can only hope.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Heretic's Daughter

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Diane came for a visit from Virginia. We got to chatting about books as we always do, and she recommended The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. It sounded interesting to me, so I downloaded it on my Kindle before we left for Colorado, and I started reading it on the plane. I finished it in a couple of days.

Would I recommend it? If you like historical fiction, yes. It is very interesting and educational. If you want an uplifting read, then no. It's really kind of depressing.

The story is about the Salem witch trials that took place around 1692. The author is a tenth generation descendant of the main character's mother who was hanged during this horrible time in our nation's history.

The story is told from the perspective of a 10-year old girl whose family is targeted by the community. She and her three brothers were imprisoned along with her mother. The conditions were horrendous to say the least. I don't know how anyone survived.

Like I said, it's not a cheery story, but it was very enlightening.