Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Cat No One Wanted

Meet Leela. The Fuzz was getting lonely while home alone. He would put his paws on the front door as I was locking it as if to say "Don't go!". We decided to get another cat to keep him company.  I had taken a few days off work to have some extra time with Katherine.  Steve and I decided that would be a good time to get our new cat.  The morning of October 10th we went to the Humane Society.  It was really heartbreaking to go in there and see all the kitties in their kennels.  There were adult cats and even little kittens.  It broke my heart to see tiny kitties there.  The Fuzz is two so we wanted someone who would play with him.  We decided a cat age 2 or younger would be a good match. We walked along the kennels and looked at the cats, reading their papers.  We needed a cat who is good with kids.  Leela's kennel was one towards the end.  She looked at me with her head hung slightly as if  to say "You're not going to want me.  Nobody wants me."  The look on her face broke my heart.  The feeling behind the look was one I had experienced many times.  Her paper said her name was Callie, good with kids, litter box trained and liked to play with cat toy balls.  "Can we see this one?" I asked the Humane Society volunteer.  Steve was also looking at another cat named Buzz.  "Can we see Buzz too?" Steve asked.  We saw Leela first in the small room designated for meeting the animals.  The volunteer put her down on the bench and left us with her.  Steve sat down on the bench on her blind side and I sat on the other.  She hoped down and cowered against the other wall.  We picked her up and spent some time with her, holding her near Katherine.  She did pretty well.  After that we met Buzz.  He was extremely affectionate with Katherine and purred the whole time.  "Which one should we choose?" I asked Steve.  "I kinda like Buzz," he said.  And so the decision was made to adopt Buzz.  I almost bawled at the thought of not getting Leela.  The thought of her staying in her kennel feeling so unwanted was too much.  "Do a lot of people look at her?" I asked the volunteer trying to reassure myself that she would be adopted soon.  "Yeah, a lot of people look at her."  Before we filled out the adoption paperwork for Buzz, we mentioned we had another cat.  When the Humane Society manager found out The Fuzz was a male, she cautioned us against adopting Buzz.  Because The Fuzz and Buzz are both males we could potentially have an alpha male problem with both of them trying to assert their dominance.  This problem might never go away.  "Callie seemed nice," I said to Steve.  We decided to take another look at her.  We went back into the cat room and looked at Leela again.  "Let's get her.  We'll take Callie," we told the Humane Society volunteer.  When filling out the paperwork, I asked the volunteer if Leela had been at the Humane Society for awhile.  "Yes, she has."  We filled out the paperwork and paid the adoption fee plus a $10 donation towards Buzz's adoption fee.  (I felt bad leaving him there too but I was certain someone would adopt him.  I checked back a few weeks after adopting Leela.  Buzz was adopted!)  As we drove home with Leela, we talked about names for her.  Her name at the Humane Society had been Callie but that was not up to par with The Fuzz.  I wanted her to have a name that referenced her only having one eye.  Steve suggested Leela like the character from Futurama.  We both liked it and agreed.  It took Leela and The Fuzz a few days to warm up to each other.  By Sunday Leela was running around the house with a plastic cat toy ball in her mouth with her head held high and a sparkle in her eye.  Today she spends her days playing with cat toys, lounging, play fighting with The Fuzz, following me around the house and letting Katherine smack her in excitement.  (We're still teaching Katherine to pet appropriately.  She's getting the hang of it gradually.)  I'll never forget the look on Leela's face that Sunday though.  Someone had finally wanted her.

Friday, October 11, 2013

What a difference a year makes!

Katherine turned 1 year old on September 8th. It's hard to believe it's been over a year since that fateful night Steve rushed me to the ER because I couldn't catch my breath.  Our lives are so different now and I wouldn't have it any other way.  The beginning of our journey as parents was definitely the hardest part.  Katherine stayed in the NICU for 29 days.  I also had to fight a nasty female doctor for the right to continue breastfeeding.  Thankfully our hospital stays are now a distant memory.  Today our little girl is continuing to grow and learn and amazes us every day.  Katherine has amazed her medical team with how quickly she caught up developmentally.  She was discharged from Child Health Specialty Clinics at 11 months.  Katherine was doing so well the nurse practitioner didn't see a reason for her to have any more follow-ups with them.  Most preemies are discharged from CHSC at 18-24 months.  We are so proud of our little NICU baby.

Katherine September 2012

  Motherhood might be the most exhausting thing I've ever done but it is by far the most rewarding.  I love the days she crawls into my lap as we eat our breakfast before she goes to daycare and I go to work.  I also love watching her play with her princess castle and the little people that go with it.  It's been fun to see her grow from banging her toys to very specifically putting her princesses in the castle.  I love that now she cuddles with her blanket or a clean burp cloth to go to sleep.  I love that she's learned how to wave and do high-fives.  I love that her first time saying to bye-bye she said it to Steve as he left for work, The Fuzz and our house when we left for the day.  I love that she's started giving kisses by touching her mouth to our cheeks.  I love that she won't do any of these on command if she doesn't feel like it or if she thinks you already know the answer to the question.  I love that she's such a smiley baby.  I also love her giggle.  I love that she's a daddy's girl.  And to all of the people that say "Just wait until..." with some negative outlook on parenting or who try to warn me about the not fun part of raising children, I want to say "No. I will not wait until xyz because I'm too busy enjoying everything I just listed." I know someday she and I will argue but I'm not thinking about that as I observe all of the above.  I marvel at how the tiny baby in the picture above grew into the little girl in the picture below.

Katherine September 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Operation Declutter The Continuing Saga

Operation Declutter is in full swing.  We've begun to go through our house and get rid of items not needed and organize those that are.  I'm pleased with everything we've accomplished so far.

Our cookbook cabinet was a disaster, overflowing with cookbooks and loose recipes torn from magazines and printed off the computer.  I sorted through the cookbooks.  The cookbooks we use frequently stayed in the cupboard.  The cookbooks not used very often found a place on a pantry shelf downstairs.  Steve helped me sort through the paper recipes.  Recipes we aren't going to make ever were thrown in recycling.  Recipes that had potential found a place in my recipe binder.  The cabinet looks so much better and it is so much easier to grab a cookbook.

I loved my Scentsy pot but it was impractical for my house.  I have a fairly large home with open doorways between rooms.  I also don't have an appropriate place to put the Scentsy where Katherine can't get it now that she's mobile.  (Yup, she's crawling!)  My little sister Darcy moved into an apartment in Ames and the previous tenant had pets.  Her apartment has a smell.  (Lucky her, right?)  I boxed up my Scentsy and all of the wax and mailed it to her.  Clutter gone from my house!

Does anyone not have a bathroom closet that overflows with all the necessary and unnecessary items shoved in it?  Ours looked that way.  I wanted to put in small plastic totes to contain the clutter.  Lucky for me it's back to school season so things like small plastic totes are super cheap right now.  I bought four small purple crates for a dollar a piece.  Two of the purple crates now house bandaids and medicines (pain relievers, allergy meds, etc).  I actually over-bought the crates because I have two left. I already had: 
  • A small tote for feminine hygiene products simply because I don't like looking at the boxes and the boxes take up so much space for the quantity they hold.  
  • A small wicker container for baby travel toiletries.   
  • A rectangular cloth storage container from the hospital for my nursing pads.  Again I don't like to see the box.  (This storage container was actually from a formula company.  The lactation consultant gave it to me so I could have the small cooler and ice packs.  I donated the bottles of ready formula to a local pro-life pregnancy resource center.)
  • Two pink crates which store baby lotions (we have a lot) and miscellaneous items (travel kleenex and things like that). 
Steve has been extremely helpful with Operation Declutter.  He made shelves for one of our storage rooms in the basement.  They are very simple plywood shelves.  They look nice and will keep our items off the floor.  He's actually made two sets of shelves because we have two storage rooms.  I so appreciate him doing this.  He thought of this project, measured the space and bought the supplies completely on his own.  And I'm so glad because I wouldn't have thought of it.

Steve also tackled a huge project while I was at work and Katherine took a 2-hour nap.  He cleaned and organized our home office.  That room was a beast.  It was our catch-all for everything.  Papers everywhere, random items placed on the table and desks.  Steve cleaned and organized it and hung some artwork on the walls.  His mom had made me a fabric photo board for Christmas a few years back and Steve had a friend make a "Count Your Blessings" wood carving this year.  Both are now on the walls!  It's so nice to sit in a clean office each morning.  This project was especially important because we wanted it clean for Katherine's birthday party.  To get to our main bathroom, people have to walk through the office and we were tired of the mess.

But Operation Declutter is not complete.  We have a few upcoming projects that will make our lives a lot easier.  We have a storage closet upstairs next to our linen closet that we plan to turn into a clothes closet.  Our closets are tiny because our house is really old and our dresser is also small.  This is quite a change from the walk-in closets we had at our apartment.  Laundry never gets put away simply because we don't have a place for it.  We plan to paint the closet and get a carpet remnant for the floor.  Right now it's bare wood, not finished and full of boxes.  It will be a big project but will be so nice when we are done.  When we moved in, I over-bought on paint... by a lot.  We will use that paint so we're saving an expense there.  I'm hoping we can get a cheap carpet remnant.  The space is not very big.  If not, Dollar General it is for a cheap rug.  Our second upcoming project correlates with the storage closet project.  I need to go through my clothes yet again.  (I've actually already started this.)  I still have maternity clothes floating about.  I also have clothes that are too big for me right now which need to be put into storage.  The last project is organizing our office closet.  Right now it holds a mismash of things: yarn, fabric, diapers, clothes and who knows what else.  I would like to get the closet organized so we can actually find things in there.  The fabric will be moved to the basement.  I had dreams of learning to sew and quilt and making fabulous items for our house.  Right now we are just too busy for me to be able to focus on that.  It will happen someday but now is not the time.  I'm using the yarn to make dish cloths as Christmas gifts for the daycare ladies.  The clothes will be moved upstairs to their permanent home after the clothes closet is complete.

There you have it!  Operation Declutter is in the works and it feels great.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dear Spiders, I Hate You

Two weeks ago a spider bit my eyelid.  (Yes, you read that right.  It bit my eyelid.)  It also bit my right wrist.  This year the spiders have been particularly venomous.  Each time I've been bitten, the bite has swollen instantly and is a painful unbearable itch.  I woke up at some point in the night and my right eyelid was sore.  I decided to just go back to sleep thinking it was a tired muscle and the rest would help.  At 5 that morning, Katherine woke up to be fed.  My eyelid felt thick when I opened my eyes so I went to the bathroom to check it out.  My eye was starting to swell.  Before I went to work, I called for a doctor's appointment.  I left a message about my eye swelling and was called back within a minute.  (I'm not exaggerating.  It really was that quick.)  By 10 o'clock, my lower eye lid was starting to swell.  My appointment was at 10:45.  I told my boss I wasn't coming back after my appointment and clocked out.  Steve picked me up and drove me to my doctor.  Thank God he had the day off.  I could barely open my eye when I got to the doctor's office.  "You look awful!" my doctor exclaimed when she walked in the room.  "I feel awful" was my response.  There was no beating around the bush.  I did look and feel awful.  After explaining to the doctor that this swelling was acting similar to the spider bites I had earlier in the summer, she diagnosed it as an allergic reaction to the bite.  When I went in there, I wasn't sure what it was because my eye wasn't itchy the way the previous spider bites had been.  "Are you a spider lover?" was her next question.  Apparently there's people who don't want to kill spiders because they eat other insects.  That is so not me.  "No.  I'm actually afraid of them," I answered.  I think my doctor was relieved she wasn't going to have to convince me that spiders are bad and to try to rid my house of them.  She gave me a prescription for predezone and recommended OTC Benedryl.  A bug bomb was her final suggestion after Steve and I stated that we had been trying all summer to get rid of the spiders.  And we have been.  We've scrubbed the floors, complete with vacuuming and moving furniture.  We've put out sticky traps (and haven't caught anything).  Steve sprayed the perimeter of our house earlier in the summer after removing all weeds.  He also sprayed the perimeter of our bedroom Thursday morning.  We bug bombed the house Sunday which was tons of fun.  We had to be out of the house for 4 hours and we had to take The Fuzz with us.  We wanted to go to a park but it was raining.  We were in the car for pretty much the whole time with a baby and a freaked out cat (in his carrier).  It was loads of fun.  We have finally caught up on all of the laundry this little adventure produced.  (When we set off the bug bomb, we had to cover our hardwood floors.  This used every blanket, towel and sheet we have.)  Here are some pictures from our adventure.

This was Thursday after my doctor's appointment.

This was Friday morning after 8 hours of medicine.

This was The Fuzz in the car Sunday.  He was a little freaked.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Best Friends

It's true.  Katherine and The Fuzz are best friends.  The Fuzz is extremely protective of Katherine and has been since before she was born.  He would lay on my belly and purr while I was pregnant.  But when my pregnancy started to get complicated, he wouldn't come near me.  He knew something was wrong before we did.  The Fuzz checks on her when new people come to the house.  My mom and grandma came for a visit awhile back.  Both sat on the couch while Katherine sat on the floor.  The Fuzz who is normally nervous in social situations made a point to walk over and sniff Katherine in their presence.  He didn't just walk over; he walked between Katherine and couch effectively putting himself between her and danger until he decided Mom and Grandma were not a threat.  Last night Katherine had a stomach bug and was throwing up.  In between throwing up, she sat on the floor with Steve and The Fuzz came over to sniff her.  He also came into whichever room she was in while she was throwing up.  He looked at us with big concerned cat eyes, waiting for reassurance that she was ok.  Katherine adores The Fuzz.  She smiles, giggles and screeches in delight at him.  She reaches out and smacks him or grabs his fur.  (We're teaching her how to pet him appropriately.)  To his credit, he hasn't bitten her even when she grabs a hunk of fur.  I credit part of this relationship to nature and another part to Steve and me.  When Katherine was very little, we would frequently take her over to The Fuzz and let him smell her.  This let him know she wasn't a threat.  When we brought her home for the hospital, The Fuzz came over and smelled her head.  It was adorable and the prefect start to their friendship.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I've been reflecting on my blessings a lot lately.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  Here are a few in no particular order:

  • Katherine
  • Steve
  • my house
  • The Fuzz
  • modern medicine
  • c-sections
  • Katherine's medical team including Dr. Rundquist, Child Health Specialty Clinics, her Early Access service coordinator
  • my church
  • Steve's church
  • my and Steve's extended families
  • our friends
  • books
  • magazines
  • Katherine's premature birth because we have learned so much about how fragile life is and baby development 
    • babies develop the suck-swallow-breathe reflex at 36 gestational weeks just to name one fact we've learned
  • St. Luke's NICU 
    • even the mean NICU doctor because she taught me that I will stand up for what I believe is right for Katherine even if trained professionals don't agree with my point of view
  • my lactation consultants, Nancy and Dena
    • without Nancy's support I wouldn't have a successful breastfeeding relationship with Katherine
    • without Dena's breastfeeding support group, I wouldn't meet other breastfeeding moms
  • Medela
  • Dr. Jones, my OB doctor
  • sunshine
  • green grass
  • my job
  • the lactation room at work
  • silly comedies on TV
  • my education starting with kindergarten and ending with my bachelor's degree.
  • all of the conservation projects our grade school made me do because they made me care about the planet
  • my life
  • every day
Those are just a few of the many things I'm thankful for.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Operation Declutter

I've begun Operation Declutter.  Operation Declutter won't have me dashing around the house like a mad woman trying to declutter everything.  Rather I will be finding places for our items (other than wherever we put them down that moment) and getting rid of items we don't need.  A few examples from Operation Declutter:

1. My knitting, crocheting and quilting small supplies will go in a small plastic tub in the closet.

2. My Scentsy pot and the wax will be sold.  My house is too big and too open for a Scentsy pot.  I'm also afraid The Fuzz will try to eat the wax or knock it over.  Ditto the knocking it over fear with Katherine when she begins crawling.

3. The mandolin we bought over 2 years ago and have used exactly once and never in this house will find a new home as well.

4.  A file will be made for the EOBs that we are still getting from Katherine's hospital stay and doctor appointments.  This file will not be specific only to her EOBs.  All of the family EOBs will go here.  To quote Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

5. My closet will once again be sorted through.  Clothing that I won't wear again will find a home at Goodwill or the domestic abuse shelter.  Maternity clothing will be packed away.  And clothing that currently fits will find a place in my closest.

6. Shelves will get baskets to corral random items.

Operation Declutter will be a lifelong pursuit.  I don't expect my house to be perfect.  I don't want my house to be perfect.  However I would like to stop working around things that we don't use and don't have any intention of using in the near future.  I would also like to be able to find things I'm looking for.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Soda Bread Success

This year I couldn't go home for St. Patrick's Day and I was really bummed about it.  I know a lot of you not from Emmetsburg will say "Just go to the parade in town.  It's the same thing."  No, it's not.  I don't mean to be rude but it's really not.  Emmetsburg's population quadruples during St. Pat's weekend.  We have beauty pageants  for all ages of girls from kindergarten to high school.  There's a 5K called 'Round the Loch Run.  There's every single person I've ever met in town.  There's a parade filled with people I know who will smile and wave at you.  We're the sister city of Dublin and host an Irish dignitary who is usually a member of the Irish Parliament.  This dignitary visits the schools and talks about the Irish culture.  There are a bunch of other events during the week that I can't remember.  Now, do you still think a parade in some other town is the same?  To make myself feel a little better about not being home for St. Pat's, I decked us all out in green, painted my toenails green and made soda bread.  And the soda bread actually turned out this time!  If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you'll remember this post where I talked about my first attempts at making soda bread and what a flop they were.  In the same post, I also talked about soda cookies.  This year I decided to try soda bread again and this year, it actually turned out!  My aunt and Godmother had emailed me a recipe for soda bread over a year ago.  I flagged it in my inbox and would think almost every day "I should make that."  I decided that St. Patrick's Day when I'm missing my family, my friends and my home was the best time to make it.  Here's the recipe:

Irish Soda Bread
 By Patrick Rooney
4 cups flour
¼ cups sugar (original recipe 2 TBS. sugar)
 1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
 1 heaping cup of raisins
 1 ¾ cup low fat buttermilk
 ¼ cup cooking oil (original recipe 2 TBS. butter)
1 egg
Combine flour, sugar, soda, salt, and raisins in mixing bowl; stir well.
In another mixing bowl add buttermilk, egg, and cooking oil; stir well.
Make well in center of the dry ingredients.
Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients; stir until thoroughly blended.
Turn out onto a floured surface; knead 5 to 8 times.
Form ball; place on lightly greased cookie sheet.
Pat to 8-inch circle, approximately 1 ½ inches thick.
With floured knife make large cross on top of loaf to keep it from cracking during baking.
Spread top of loaf with softened butter.
Bake in preheated 375 oven 40 to 45 minutes, until golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
After removing from oven, spread top of loaf with softened butter again.
 Serve bread hot with plenty of butter. YUM!
 Makes one 8 inch loaf, or 2 smaller loaves

Sounds yummy, right?  It is!  Anyone with an Irish name like Patrick Rooney has to have great Irish recipes. Of course, I made a few modifications while making the recipe.  I only had golden raisins so I used those instead of regular raisins.  I don't know what the difference between the two raisins is anyway.  I didn't have buttermilk so I made my own by using 1 1/2 cups milk and adding 1/4 cup vinegar to it.  The bread turned out beautifully and we had it with our supper.  Steve and Nathan ate about half of it during supper while I fed Katherine.  (Steve did bring me a piece while I was feeding her.)  I was so pleased with how it turned out.  

I also found a shamrock cookie cutter Monday that I bought awhile ago.  I decided next year I would make the bread and the soda cookies.  I think shamrock-shaped soda cookies would be so cute and a perfect St. Pat's tradition.

Special note: I'm changing up my blog.  From now on, I will be writing about whatever topic interests me at the moment not just food.  There are so many things I want to write about and my decreased time in the kitchen are calling for a change in my blog.  For now, the blog will still be called "For the Love of Food" until I think of a better title (if I ever do).  I hope you'll continue to read!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cooking with Katherine

                    You may recall that I went to a Guy Fieri show a few years ago with a friend.  Guy reminded everyone in the audience to cook with their kids.  I took his advice to heart and have already started cooking with Katherine and teaching her some basic kitchen knowledge.  Last Tuesday I was actually able to make supper before Steve got home.  Katherine sat in her bouncy seat on the kitchen floor just watching me cook and listening to the little lessons.  I made a sort-of goulash.  I browned some hamburger and added spaghetti sauce, garlic and pasta to it.  I rounded out the meal with cottage cheese, peaches and a salad.  Here are the lessons I taught Katherine:

1. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat.
2. You have to stir pasta as it cooks to prevent it from sticking together.
3. It's OK to use sauce out of a jar and add your own seasonings to it.
4. It's also OK to buy the minced garlic in a jar instead of buying a clove and mincing it yourself.
5. When carrying a pot of boiling water to the sink, carry it over the counter and away from others in the room.
6. Always pour boiling water into the strainer away from you so you don't accidentally get burned.
7. After browning meat, drain it to get rid of the excess grease.

I do sincerely hope that she will grow up loving to cook as much as Steve and I do.  I also know that the first step for that is to cook with her and teach her as she grows up.  That's what my mom did with me.  I don't even remember learning a lot about cooking.  I just grew up watching and somehow it was etched into my brain.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Liebster Award

I've been nominated for the Liebster Award!  This award is for bloggers who have less than 200 followers but should have more. 

Here are the Rules:

- Each person tagged must post 11 things about themselves.

- They must also answer the 11 questions the tagger has set for them.

- They must create 11 more questions to ask bloggers they have decided to tag.

- They must then choose 11 bloggers to tag with less than 200 followers.

- These lucky bloggers must be told.

- There are NO TAG BACKS.

11 Things About Me
1. I'm a farm girl.  My heart will always be in the country no matter how many years I live in town.

2. I have a daughter named after my paternal grandma and my mom.

3. I miss my dad's side of the family and wish I could see all of them more.

4. I have the best husband in the world.

5. I repeated first grade because I couldn't read.  My mom taught me to read and by 2nd grade, I was one of the best readers in my class.

6. Purple is my favorite color and is in every room of my house as either the accent color or the main color.

7. I have 3 siblings and am the second oldest or the baby of the first set depending on how you want to look at it.

8. I love music and wish that I could play the guitar and have more confidence in my singing voice.

9. I have a BA in Spanish and lived in Spain for a year to become fluent.

10. I know how to knit.

11. I like to write but don't do enough of it.

11 Questions from Nancy:
1. Chocolate or vanilla? Both.  I like chocolate cake but prefer vanilla ice cream that I can top with whatever I like.
2. Do you have a hobby? What is it? Baking, knitting, reading, writing (I sound like a 90 year old woman.)
3. Who is your favorite author?  There are too many to choose from!  A few of my favorites are Mary Higgins Clark and Anna Quindlen.
4. What is your favorite type of book; romance, mystery, historical...?  Again too many to just pick one!  I like mysteries among others but am not a fan of romance novels.
5. What is the most important trait you look for in a friend? Honesty.  I have to be able to trust what they tell me.
6. What is your favorite scent?  Harvest!
7. Are you a homebody or a traveler?  Both.  I like to travel but need time at home as well.
8. Do you believe in miracles? Absolutely
9. Who is your favorite musician and why? Yikes!  I can't pick one.  I know a lot of talented musicians but my cousin Diane comes to mind first.  As far as mainstream musicians, I've always loved Aerosmith's music.
10. What is your favorite piece of clothing and why? I'm not sure I have a specific favorite piece of clothing... which is a little sad.  I like stylish comfy clothes.
11. What is your favorite thing to do on a day off? Snuggle with Katherine.  Look at recipes online and in magazines and make a menu... think about food in general.

I'm deviating from the rules.  Most of the blogs that I follow have already been nominated so I'm just going to post blogs I think you should take a look at.
A blog by my 2nd mom.  It's a hilarious and touching look at her life.
A blog by my little sister.  She's hysterical.
A blog by a coworker who has moved to South Dakota.  She's originally from Brazil and speaks Portuguese, Spanish and English.
My cousin's blog.  She's a professional singer in Europe.