Friday, February 27, 2009

testing this patient's patience...

Seriously? Do I stink or something?

Just kidding - my hair smells like apples and my body smells like pomegranates, so it's not that. But this whole breast cancer thing - even the light edition that I had - is a sloooooooooooooow process. Truly a test of my patience.

Today I went to the doc to have him check out my latest surgery to see if it's healed enough to start the tattoo process. My next-door-neighbor doc. Yeah, the horror!

So I go, change into the paper top, he comes in and informs me that the nurse that is/was the tattoo specialist has PCS'd. (she moved) *sigh* Really? Seriously? Are you kidding me? I should have seen it coming.

So he set out my options. At best, before this fiasco, there was just enough time to squeak in all the tattoo sessions to get done before I moved, but now there is no way it will be complete before June. I've taken the logical choice of waiting for the move and finding someone who will do it all from start to finish in Atlanta.

BTW, I didn't have to show my goods to the doc. What's the point? Whew. So that was a good thing!

Let's review the delays and changes that I've encountered from the beginning, shall we?
  • June 2006 - the start of it all, abnormal mammogram, 1 week before move to Hawaii (not a smart idea to have your well woman right before a move)
  • took a couple of months to find house, move in, get new PCM and sweet talk the radiology department to re-mammogram/biopsy me without the referral of my new local PCM
  • after the usual biopsies and blah, blah, blahs I'm set for mastectomy when I find out that my surgeon (who was a reservist) was through with her obligation and heading back home just a week before my scheduled surgery so a total stranger did it. (Oct 06)
  • surgery delayed due to horrendous cold I caught.
  • a few expander fills delayed due to surgeon out of country, but it got done (obviously)
  • got implant (may 07) and 9 months later (Jan 08) got 2nd implant - long delay due to surgeon travel? marathon? I can't remember
  • stage 2 delayed because surgeon wanted scar to heal more
  • finally went in to schedule stage 2 and surgeon decides to retire - meet PS #2
  • met new ps and stage 2 scheduled for the new year after the marathon
  • 1 week delay on surgery (Jan 09)
  • ps #2 announces he is deploying for 6 months
  • met with ps #3 (next door neighbor)
  • ready to schedule tattoo - tattoo artist has moved! tattoo will be delayed until move and then I'll have to get referral/insurance approval and find someone qualified to do it.

Almost a 3 year process so far. There's no one to blame. It's just been a process of changes and delays due to a multitude of circumstances. That's just the way it is. It needs to be evaluated and lessons need to be learned. One lesson is you have got to take charge of your own health. No one else will manage it for you. I'm also trying to find the joy in this. Trying to be thankful. Give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (she sings out loud) Who knows? Maybe I'll find a fantastic tattoo artist?

I'm a little nervous about the upcoming move after my talk to the ps. The closest big bases with decent sized hospitals are Ft. Benning and Ft. Gordon - much too far a drive for me to go to those. I'm worried about what kind of health care I'll find. If I can work tricare so I'll get civilian health care, that should be good. I just don't feel confident about my health. I mean, I feel like I'm in pretty good shape, but not good at the same time. It's not blatantly bad, but bad things crop up - I've had cancer (albeit stage 0), I have hypertension/high cholesterol, suspicious areas on my skin, my eyesight is horrendous - yet I completed two marathons, I have lots of energy, I eat both really good and really bad, I exercise regularly, haven't had a cold in ages, etc. etc.

There - that was my worry moment. No use carrying that worry around. "Put a pin in it."

No need to harsh my mellow. :-D

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Terrifying Tuesdays - catchup edition

Sorry I forgot to post about last week. It's been busy (yeah, like who isn't busy?) Last week was a delight, but yesterday terrified me to pieces - so I'll report on that first! (it's a bit of a PSA)

Yesterday I decided to make Kasha for the first time. I've had a bag of it (that I got from the local health food store) in my pantry for a couple months now and have been dying to try it. Remember, last fall I tried a bunch of new whole grains - barley, bulgur, quinoa. So kasha was the next natural attempt. I got the recipe from emails I get from Dr. Andrew Weil. It's called "kasha with vegetables".

First off, let me say that kasha is a confusing grain, if you are trying to learn anything about it off the internet. That's probably my problem. the internet. You get dribs and drabs of tips about how the grain needs to be toasted, and you need to coat it with egg whites so it won't get mushy, blah, blah, blah. That sounds easy, but execution was not pretty. Ick. So I need a little hands-on kasha 101.

secondly, if you like mushrooms, then you will like this recipe. It calls for 2 ounces of dried mushrooms. Doesn't sound like a lot, does it? I bought the prettiest bag of dried shiitakes, but only 1 ounce. It still looked like a good amount. The recipe calls for you to soak them, of course. WARNING: Dried mushrooms stink! I mean, really really stink! And since I'm not a fan of mushrooms, I tried to dice them instead of just slicing them. I ended up throwing out about 1/3 of them. One of them had become so HUGE it really creeped me out. Out that one goes.

At this point I had to light a cinnamon candle. It was a pathetic attempt to cover up the stench.

Here's a doozy - and a major part of the PSA - the recipe calls for you to use the mushroom soaking water. Just disregard that - unless you are wild about mushrooms and want to taste that smell. I was leary of this point of the recipe, so I had to veer from it. I used just a half cup of it, then a cup of chicken broth and the rest water. The total liquid was to equal 3 cups (and it did not call for chicken broth, that was my attempt to add a good flavor over the mushroom water). Lord have mercy. Don't use the mushroom liquid.

So the recipe is: toast the kasha, soak the mushrooms, boil the mushroom water, add the kasha, add the shrooms, add a sliced carrot and add chopped onion. And don't forget the salt. (yes, to top a horrifying dish off, I forgot the salt) Cook until water is absorbed.

I did the kasha wrong. It was absolute mush. Horrible. Bland because I forgot the salt. and stinky, because of you-know-what.

It goes without saying that it was a thumbs down all around.

It will be a long while before I cook kasha again. I shudder at the thought.
So on to more pleasant topics. Last week's terrifying tuesday offering. It was a success. Thumbs up all around. It was a good thing...

A Martha Stewart Living recipe. Roasted carrots with lemon dressing. Yummy.
Roasted carrots alone are good, but the family prefers it with the dressing. It's easy so I'm adding it to the regular rotation.

(I'm not posting these recipes because they are easily found on the internet.)
On to non-food topics! gas keeps creeping up: $2.27 /gal.

Jake has lost 2 teeth in 2 days. He has another tooth that is very wiggly and I wouldn't be surprised if he lost it today. ryan hasn't lost a tooth in over a year and non are wiggly. Yeah, twins, go figure!

I spend way too much time on the internet looking at rental houses.

Two weeks ago I had two spots frozen. One on my neck and one of the side of my face. The one on my neck is gone, the other is not. Not at all! So I need to leave a message with my PCM and she'll put in a referral to a dermatologist and he'll probably do a biopsy. I'm very fair skinned and I've spent a lot of my youth getting sunburned.

I'm supposed to be making an appointment to get an MRI in March. I don't know about you, but I can only handle one doctor appointment at a time. I've got an appointment on Friday to have my next door neighbor (the horror!) look at my, uh, surgical site, and deem it healed so I can start the tattooing process.

AND we hope to take a trip to Kauai during spring break. I need to avoid the dates when I'm making my appointments, because Gary's window of opportunities keeps shrinking. He's very busy at work. We hope to take a whale watching cruise (just a few hours) this weekend. Need to see them before they swim back to Alaska.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

playground construction - working with Marines...

Our playground is coming right along. It's not done, and there is quite a bit of work yet to be done, but it looks awesome! If you are ever a part of a community playground build, not only do you need people and money, you need GOOD tools and lots of them.

Saturday Gary and the boys worked, while I was at my Thai cooking class. I'll have to post about that later. Then that afternoon I took the boys with me to paint a tile ($50 fundraiser) which will be forever stuck on the playground. (Gary had to go in to work)

Sunday was church, cubscouts and the sleepover - so we didn't participate. Monday afternoon we went to the school and helped with the build. Let's just say, me and Gary were close to coming to blows! Not a couples project! We need to work on our communication skills. LOL! I broke away, since the boys were getting in the way and I needed to cook chili for the chili cookoff supper. Then me and the boys helped serve food, and then I stayed to help with cleanup.

Today I had to run errands (still waiting for a call back from the doctors office - grrrr) but I did put in a few hours. I got tasked to a miserable job and was assigned two marines. Can I say how young these fellows are? We were tasked to nail a rubber mat around a plank of "wood" to make a bumper. The rubber was so stiff and impossible to bend and clamp down. But my guys were determined. We got our one bumper done and they took off saying where I could find them if I needed them. The construction leader asked me to do 6 more - or 4 or 2 or even just 1. He admitted that the rubber stuff was not what he usually used. So I dove into a sea of Marines (who all look alike!) trying to find my guys. One of them popped his head up and came willingly over. He's so cute. And about 12 so don't get any ideas! That guy went at the next bumper with dogged determination. Honestly, I saw it as a worthless task and was ready to give up, but not him. Not only was he getting it done, he wanted it to look good. He even said that he knew the kids wouldn't care and wouldn't see it, but he wanted it done right. *sniff* I'm so proud of him. His mama should be doggone proud. She raised this boy right. Oh, his name is Bill - so mom, if you are curious about how your young Marine son Bill is doing - he is doing wonderful. You've raised a fine young man. He was sweet and polite too. (even after hammering his thumb twice) All the Marines were polite and hard working (not to mention terribly thin).

Anyway, I had to abandon the project after we got those two done, because school was letting out and I was going to watch some kids while their moms worked. But Bill the Marine said he was going to continue the project. I Bill - LOL!

Oh, I need to mention that the build was scheduled for Friday thru Monday - so the guys who worked today were working on their own time. How generous is that?!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

sleepover tonight!

We're going to have 3 of Jake and Ryan's best friends over tonight for a sleepover. Their moms are going to run the Great Aloha Run (I'm so jealous!), so I had volunteered to have the boys over so they can get up early and escape to the run. It turns out their husbands are home this weekend, so I practically had to beg to keep the sleepover on. I owe both of them, plus I really want my boys to have some fun memories of their friends at OUR house.

We've spent the past WEEK cleaning house. Well, last weekend I scrubbed the boys room down. And then it's been a general picking up throughout the week. I just finished the final scrubdown. I know the kids won't care if it's clean, but they will notice if it's dirty nasty. It's gets so dirty so quickly here when you live with open windows.

This Christmas I got a new vacuum. It's a bagless one. You cannot believe the amount of filth I pick up. I just vacuumed two days ago. Nasty. Today, just as nasty. It picks up a big pile, and then I beat out just as big a pile or larger out of the filter. Yucko.

They are at cubscouts right now with Gary. He'll bring home two of the boys and the other one is coming at 6pm. We're going to make our own pizzas, have pineapple and vegetables with ranch dip for supper. I picked up a stick of the sugar cookie dough to cut and bake for dessert. And frozen toaster waffles for breakfast in the a.m. Tomorrow afternoon me and the boys are heading to the playground to help serve food.

So it will be a busy couple of days. :-)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Double Whammy Wednesday - and the drama of picky eaters

We didn't do Terrifying Tuesday because our school had a fundraiser, asking us to eat at Mama's Island Pizza and Baskin Robbins. Our school playground is so close to it's monetary mark but not there yet, and the construction has already begun! Yesterday we were blessed to have our Representative Cynthia Theilan's son donate an auger and recruit the Hawaii job corp to dig post holes using the auger. How awesome is that?!! Plus they used leftover lumber from our boardwalk to construct work tables (very green) and did a lot of other stuff in preparation for the build.

So, yesterday we had double whammy wednesday. Double whammy because I made the planned Valentine's dessert and then I made a recipe I found on the internet. Where to start? With the food or with the drama that accompanied the food? Let's start with the food. I have pictures today! (not good pictures...)

For dinner I made a recipe I found on the Vegan Dad blog I'm going to post the recipe because I have some comments on changes I made and such.

- 5 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup basmati rice
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in two
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cloves
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 onions, sliced
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1" piece ginger, minced
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 tomatoes, thickly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2/3 cup plain soy yogurt
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 2/3 cup hot water
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a casserole dish. Get water boiling in a pot. Add rice, cardamom, tumeric, cinnamon, salt and cloves. Parboil for 3 mins, drain, then return to pot and cover to keep warm.
2. While water is boiling, heat oil in a large frying pan. Dry onions for 8-10 mins, until a deep golden brown. Add chickpeas, spices, lemon juice, and season to taste. Fry for 3-4 mins, until heated through.
3. Place chickpea mixture in the prepared casserole dish and top with cilantro. Top with enough sliced tomatoes to cover the chickpeas. Spread yogurt over the tomatoes, then top with cashews and raisins. Top that with rice, and pour water evenly over the top.
4. Cover and bake for 60-65 mins, until liquid is all absorbed and rice is cooked. Serve topped with more chopped cilantro.

My notes:

1. I don't have white rice in my house any more, so I had to figure out how to parboil brown rice. (what is parboil anyway??) So, I boiled my jasmine brown rice for 15 minutes, drained it and left it in the pot until I was ready for it.

2. I also picked out the cloves and cinnamon stick. They didn't specify that in the recipe, but who wants that surprise?

3. ground cardamom costs $13 for a 2 oz jar! cardamom pods cost $10 a jar! I chose just the ground cardamom and guessed at how much to use instead of the pods. I had all the other spices.

4. the recipe calls for sliced onions. I think it would be better to quarter the slices, because they were big and unwieldy and hung out together in the casserole (it was hard to get them evenly distributed)

5. I used regular dairy fat free plain yogurt. So that makes my version not vegan.

6. I wouldn't know where to find raw cashews, so I used planters lightly salted.

7. don't be intimidated by the ingredient list. It's mostly spices.

Here are the pictures. I forgot to take them before we served ourselves, so excuse the carnage. (yes, my dishes are Buttercups on Blue - I meet lots of people who have Poppies on Blue)

My comments about this dish.
  • I was afraid the rice wouldn't cook, but it did. In my serving, there were 4-5 hard rice pieces - so I guess they all didn't cook.
  • This smelled soooooo good when I was cooking the chickpeas. Even my kids commented about how good it smelled.
  • I liked it, with the exception of the tomatoes. I thought for sure the tomatoes would be great - but they tasted sour. ?? How weird is that?
  • new addition: last night I thought it was the tomatoes for sure that were sour tasting, but maybe it was the maui onions I used? I'm eating it for lunch right now and trying to pick it apart - I'm confused...
  • Plus the yogurt seemed to coagulate in clumps on the tomatoes. Yuck. I think it probably should be stirred into the chickpea mixture.
  • I would be tempted to make the whole thing without the tomatoes, but I bet they add a lot of the moisture which cooks the rice. So maybe completely cook the two elements separately and just layer on the plate? I dunno.

The family reaction? Thumbs down from the kids and a so-so from Gary. I will be eating a lot of leftovers. I pulled out the tomatoes and packed up a baggie for the freezer. I think this recipe is worth tweaking and I welcome suggestions.


Now on to the big drama. The dessert. I chose a recipe from my Pink Ribbon Special edition BH&G checkerboard cookbook. It's called Berry Clafouti and I even bought cute little quiche dishes. I won't duplicate the recipe (because I'm lazy and would have to type it out...) but it's just a layer of berries covered with a light batter and bake. I used blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. (I couldn't commit to just one kind!) It smelled like heaven!

Again, I forgot to take a picture before I started eating it so excuse the carnage and bluriness!

It was wonderful. I think we all agreed that the raspberries were the strongest in tartness - so if tart is not your thing, you might not like it.

The drama: Ryan's first bite he said he liked. But I think the bite was the size of a microbe. He started to refuse to eat any more, which is frustrating since he said he liked it! Then he started crying!
I should have seen it coming because he had been harrassing me about supper ever since school got out. I can tell he had built it up in his mind that he was not going to like it, all he had to do was eat one bite and be done with it. This child can go a long time on very little food. Of course, I had been putting up with attitude all day, and I had specifically chosen a non-chocolate recipe for him, so I was quite upset by this time.

I wont' go into all the details, but I suppose you could call me an ogre for wanting him to eat his dessert! I gave him all the lectures a mom gives. He's heard them all before. This kid has had eating issues from the get-go. Some of it is physical - it certainly started that way. But there is also the mental aspect. If you think it's going to taste bad, then it will. I've got to hand it to him, he's quite brave when he does try new foods. Eating a grape to him is as scarey as eating a bowl of worms.
Anyway, I resorted to my usual "you must eat x number of good sized bites" (he can't handle being told to "eat it all") and we ended it with a hug and cuddle. No one was hurt during the exchange, but I certainly felt like bashing my head against the wall.
Ryan is a super good kid. This is the ONLY area we struggle with. It hurts my heart sometimes because feeding my family is my favorite way to show my love. I have to remind myself that he doesn't mean to hurt me, it's not personal. I also have to remind myself that over a LONG period of time and after thousands of "just one bites", he does sometime come around. He has come a long way, and maybe by the time he is an adult he'll be eating vegetables and fruit. (I apologize in advance to his future wife)
Okay, before this turns into a novel, my final parting thoughts. I've approached TT with a attitude of mystery. I thought that would add to the fun. But I need to rethink that. It seems to have added to the stress for Ryan. I'm torn between thinking that if he knows what we are going to have he'll have time to decide to dislike it, and thinking that if he doesn't know then he'll work himself up into a tizzy of worry. And my other thought is that 2 mystery dishes was just too much. One at a time from now on.

Monday, February 9, 2009

pineapple progression pictures and playground stuff

I really hope you can see these pictures. Last month, look what I discovered!

Let me start from the beginning. After we first moved here, we visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation (a must see) and I learned how to cut up a pineapple and how to plant a pineapple. I think I have an old post on how to buy a pineapple that I learned too. Well, I planted two pineapples. Because they say it takes 1 1/2 years to produce. Those two were duds. I killed them, probably with neglect. But then, I saw that my next door neighbor had some really cool looking plants. They were pineapple plants - in planters! I didn't think about planting some just for decorative purposes. So I tried again - never thinking anything much of it. As you can see, that green topper can grow into some huge pokey leaves. Kinda cool.

I've had this plant for about a year or so - I can't remember. It got half blown out of the pot with the big wind storm in January. So I was very surprised when I saw this:
What?? Is that what I think it is? A baby pineapple? I don't know if you can read the date, but it says 1/19/09.

You can see it's progressing. This date reads 2/3/09

I took this picture today 2/9. Really starting to take shape. I can see the green topper and there are little purple flowers around the base.
If you don't know how a pineapple grows - I won't tell you. I'll let the pictures surprise you. I think I'll have to get my boys to name it. I hope, hope, hope that we can eat it before we move - but I'm not sure how long they take to mature. I bet it's a long time. Does that sound horrible that I want to name it AND eat it?
We eat fresh pineapple every week. You can't get these tastey beauties on the mainland. I'm going to miss it.
Playground news. The big build is this weekend! Our school held a rummage sale Saturday and raised $2700! I donated some Rescue Heroes and books and bought a few books and a game. I like to think my $3 helped. LOL!
Gary has to go in to work off and on this weekend - even though it's a 4 day break. So I'm not sure how he's going to work in a day of labor. I will be helping out as much as I can while I try to keep my two 9 year olds out of trouble and busy. I heard that they got 300 Marines to volunteer each day of the build. They are so awesome! The school is right outside the back gate of the Kaneohe Bay base - MCBH (Marine Corps Base Hawaii) and they support us in many ways.
This is the link to our playground website
It's gonna be awesome - a volcano with a lava slide, outrigger canoe, slidey things, jumpy things, swingy ring things. And green - made out of some recycled materials, and will have some handicap friendly areas. I'll take pictures of course.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

hike to Ka'ena Point - with pictures

We went with the cubscouts on Saturday on a hike to Ka'ena Point. You drive on the leeward side past Waianae for as far as the road goes - park your car and pray that it doesn't get broken into (better yet, leave it unlocked so the thieves don't have to bust the window) and walk to the end of the island. It's sunny and hot, so bring your water and spf 10,000. I believe it's the northwestern most point of Oahu.
(please excuse the mess. I'm just not used to puting pictures and text together in this blog)

this is a look at the type of road the hike was on. hike is a fancy word for long hot walk. The road was utterly undrivable in many parts. Gary is in the dark blue shirt on the right.

I just thought this was a nice picture. It's looking back towards Waianae. Thank goodness for those clouds, because it was hot without them.

This is the arch that the boys headed down to - not mama!

Oops! Picture out of order. I just like how blue the ocean looks here.

These are the brave ones who climbed down to the arch. I couldn't look! My babies!

There they are!

There is a bird sanctuary at Ka'ena Point. This big fellow is an albatross. He came to greet us - he lumbered towards us like a penguin. He's huge! There were a bunch there nesting. No dogs allowed on the trail! $300 fine!

This is Ricky and Ryan. Ricky is a good friend of Jake and Ryan's.

I tried to look for a map, but gave up quickly. However, I did find this excellent photo journal someone took of their hike. They took better pictures than I did, so I highly recommend it. It looks exactly like what we saw.

my cooking date - mysterious monday?

I had my cooking date with my vegetarian friend- finally! She gave me a list of possible options - which all sounded so yummy. It was very hard to decide - but she had one thing on there that she had not made before and was going to make sometime this week for her family - so I chose that, since I wanted her to have fun too, and have me not feel like a total taker. It was a pasta dish. She bought all the ingredients. Really, it didn't require much. Pasta, shallots, tempeh, goat cheese and some various ingredients for a marinade.

I actually found the recipe online here:

I have to give my family a big high five for even trying it. They all gave it a thumbs up, to my surprise. I think we all agreed that the tempeh would probably be better if it were crumbled instead of cut into 1 inch cubes. I guess we all have a thing about the texture. It's just something you have to get used to. Very different from anything else we've ever eaten. It was also the first time for goat cheese. There was something in that recipe that was just not right in the taste. It wasn't horrible, but it prevented it from being cravable. I will try tempeh again, but I will not make this recipe again. Mainly because I don't like to fry foods. It's not healthy, it messes up the kitchen and stinks up the house. I have to say the caramelized shallots were heavenly. They were totally lost in the strong flavors in this recipe and deserve another shot somewhere, somehow. I must find a way to make them again in a dish that will not overwhelm them.

My friend has had a very interesting life. We are both pretty quiet people, so it wasn't a rollicking good time, but I'm getting to know her better. I did have fun. I hope there will be a next time.

So, there will not be a terrifying Tuesday tomorrow, since we did it today. However, I do have a mango in the fridge just calling out for some special treatment...