Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good-bye 2009...Hello 2010!

I am closing out 2009 at home tonight, thinking about all the ways my life has changed over the last year and enjoying good food, family and some funny stuff on TV.  We're watching Robin Williams' "Weapons of Self Destruction", which is hilarious.  Some much-needed laughs.

The good food was the product of some DELICIOUS Food Network and Pioneer Woman Cooks recipes.  I made two things that I saw on Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade this past week.  Our friend made a recipe she got out of the Food Network magazine from this month.  I love Sandra Lee because I'm a lazy cook. I don't like doing anything difficult and Sandra Lee truly takes the complications out of cooking.  So, I made two things:  Bacon Wrapped Artichoke Hearts, which were A-mazing and Basil Mashed Potatoes which were so easy and really, really tasty.  Our friend made Olive Cheese Bread which was really deli - icious as well.  My hubby barbecued a Kindle's  ball tip roast that we got at Costco, which was one of the best tri-tips I've ever had.  So, overall, it was a really tasty New Year's Eve and its convinced me that I really need to start trying out more recipes and cooking at home in the new year!

We have been talking about possible New Year's resolutions and different strategies for making them more realistic.  I was thinking that I should have a resolution for each month - or a commitment for each month.  So, you only have to do the thing for 30 days total, but since 28 days are needed for a habit, many of those things may stick in the end.  So, now I am trying to figure out the 12 things I would like to do in the New Year.  I definitely want to make one of the months to walk or take the dog to park everyday that month.  I don't want to make it January because the weather is often bad.  So, I should make that sometime in April or May.  So, I need one for January, to start tomorrow off right.  I was thinking about a whole month of cooking at home, but I'm traveling quite a bit this month - actually all the way through March.  So, maybe that would be good for April and the dog walking in May.  So, still need one for January...I think I should do something time management related.  It gets me off to a good start...

I think that following the daily schedule I wrote up for Bean and myself would be a great start.  It includes doing daily and weekly tasks and not spending all day on the computer.  Both things I can use help with.  So, I think I will make that my January resolution - following the daily schedule.  It will be especially difficult when we're traveling, but I would like to integrate a more regular schedule even while we are traveling.  Bean needs some consistency in my life and I could use some myself.  So, that's figured out.  Now I need February, March, and June on...but, I have time for that.

Well, I wish any of you out there reading a very Happy New Year and I'm looking forward to bloggin' up a storm in 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy...Not Really Possible Anymore

I never really liked that song that much anyways. I have always prided myself on not being a big worrier.  I was able to let things go pretty easily and I didn't waste a lot of energy worrying about things outside my control.  But, I will always have an undercurrent of worry about my life now.  An immunosuppressed child is nothing but worry.  I worry about people touching her (we have little signs on her stroller and car seat that I ordered at My Tiny Hands, but obviously people don't always see it, or we are carrying her, etc.  It is especially bad at this time of year, with the flu and colds and such floating around everywhere.  I also worry about her being in enclosed places - we were warned on release from the hospital not to go to malls, grocery stores, etc. with her.  Some of that is held over for flu season as well.  But, now my husband and I worry about everywhere we go - are there too many people?  Is the airflow poor?  The funny thing is, I know there are transplant kids who have to fly places at this point post-transplant and that seems like the worse possible thing to avoid germs, so I'm sure us taking her into a small restaurant is not such a big deal.
But, the worry is there.  I am friends with some other transplant moms online and two of them have ended up back in the hospital this week due to fevers/cold symptoms/low white cell counts.  Luckily, one of them is already out again after a blast of some IV antibiotics.  I'm hoping the other gets out just as quickly.  But, I sit at home, thinking - we could be back in the hospital tomorrow...am I ready?  Do I have things at home settled enough that I could leave at the drop of a hat and not come back for a few days.  That is what I always much be ready for now.  Last time, my husband took her for her regular clinic appointment and ended up staying for two days.  So, I think its best for me to always be prepared.
I think I do pretty good with it.  She always has a basic diaper bag packed.  She has plenty of clean clothes and blankets ready to go.  We don't have any plants to water and the dog always goes to my sister's or my mom's house when we go.  Right now, the house is pretty picked up (there is nothing worse than spending three days in the hospital and then coming home to a dirty house).  Her medicines are all kept in a little plastic tub that can be grabbed on the go quickly.  So, yeah, I'm ready to go. I hope I don't have to go...not for an emergency anyways.  We do have a biopsy scheduled for January 5 that will require us to leave on the 4th and stay at my sister's or mom's house for a night (to make the morning a little less early than 3 a.m.) and then I have to work in the Bay Area for the next four days after that, so it will be an extended period of time away from home...which requires even more preparation - a pack-n-play, toys, more clothes and blankets, syringes, bottles, formula, food, spoons, etc.  Its like traveling with a circus really - and we only have one child!  I can't imagine if I had two or three!  I don't think I would ever leave the house overnight voluntarily!
Well, Bean is now awake from her nap and crying, so I  have to go.  But...are you ready to leave at the drop of a hat if an emergency happens?  Even if you don't have an immuno-compromised child, its always good to be prepared.  The Boys Scouts knew what they were talking about on that one!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Routines are so not routine...

I must say that I will be very glad to have 2009 over and done with!  It seems like one thing after another goes wrong in my life.  Little things, big things, medium things.  My husband's boss supplies us with a portable wi-fi account that has limited bandwith - one of those Sprint accounts.  We used up the bandwith about a week before the end of the month and I've been without regular internet service at home for the last week.  During this week I should have (1) finished my grading for my classes and submitted them, (2) figured out my routine/scheduling, and (3) got my syllabi revised for next semester.  Because of my total loss of routines and maybe a little because of the loss of internet, I have done none of those things.  Today was my first day back on the schedule I set up for me and Bean, and I can say that i definitely feel much more productive when I stick with the routine, even if I am not totally productive even with the routine.
I'm not sure if the two are related, but Bean has been completely off any kind of sleep schedule for the past two weeks or so.  Its been horrible.  She doesn't really nap (although, she is taking her first nap of the day right now in her swing.  Hopefully it lasts longer than her morning nap, which was all of 20 minutes.  Last night, she did sleep for four and a half hours, which is about the longest at one time she has done in the past two weeks.  Its really killing me.  I don't really nap well during the day and I am a light sleeper, so even when my hubby gets up with her, I am still awake and often unable to go back to sleep immediately.  I am hoping that things will change if I get her on a regular schedule/routine, but I'm not holding out any promise of that.
I am ready to get myself on a regular routine/schedule for 2010.  My husband made our usual argument against routines last week - he said, "do you really think with OUR lives we can ever have a routine?" and I quickly responded with the conclusion I had come to only a few weeks back - its all about prioritization.  We have established a routine for giving Bean her medicines because we prioritize it.  Nothing is more important than her getting those medicines, no matter what else might be going on in our lives or how much we would rather be sleeping or watching TV or continuing our drive to somewhere.  We need to start prioritizing other things in our lives in an equal way.  That is what the schedule I've come up with is all about.  Without some guidance, our laptops and the TV gets priority.
So, 2010 will be Year of the Routine for me!  It will not be easy to establish those routines and really stick with them, but nothing worth doing is easy...right?  So, in honor of the Year of the Routine, I will be establishing a routine for this blog.  I will post at least five days a week in the new year (need to give myself a reality break of two days a week) - and may even post more should the motivation be there.  I have not established a type of post for each of those days, but I think it may help to have that as well.  I will be thinking about that over the next week so that I can get rolling right away on the first.
So, although routines may not be routine with me now, my hopes it that by the end of 2010 routines will be routine for me and my family!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Great Food From a Box and a New Online Store...

This has already been a week of firsts and its only Tuesday!

I told you last post that I received a couple of free boxes of Dinner Kits and I cooked one on Sunday!  The Wanchai Ferry Orange Chicken Restaurant Favorite Kit was our first choice.  It was a pretty easy mix to use.  I had defrosted four chicken breasts (and that turned out to be way too many - two would be plenty) and I had to slice them into one inch chunks.  This was the most time consuming part of the process.  I then rolled the chicken in the dry sauce mix from the box.  While doing this, I cooked the rice that came in the box.  Once the chicken was rolled thoroughly, I put oil in a frying pan and fried the chicken up in the pan with hot peppers until it was brown on all sides. I then added the liquid sauce from the packet in the box, which smelled DIVINE.  The whole  process was pretty easy and the food tasted magnificent.  My husband said it was "restaurant quality" - which is funny because he had no idea it is called "Restaurant Favorite", but it definitely reminded both of us of our favorite dish from PF Changs.  I would say two things in criticism of the kits:  First, it says it serves five, but I don't think its really enough for more than three people, and those have to be pretty light eaters!  Second, it definitely needs some vegetable action with it.  I would add one of those steam packs of Chinese vegetables in the future!  But, overall, this stuff is great!  Again - if you are interested in a $1.25 off coupon, just leave a comment and I will get back to you with it!

Second new thing this week is Alice.com.  I got an email about this service and went over to check it out and ended up immediately ordering some formula off of it.  Basically, Alice.com is an online shopping service that allows you to keep track of your home essentials - food, cleaning supplies, paper products, etc. while eliminating trips to the store, cutting coupons, etc.  I have not had the time to explore all the options, but the price on the formula was better than both diapers.com and amazon.com, so I ordered six cans of it and got free shipping to boot.  I'm excited to figure out the coupon option - it looks like they will find and apply any coupon available on the internet, eliminating the need for me to go trolling around the internet looking for coupons, figuring out when and where to print them, etc.  That in itself is quite exciting!  I figure in the next few weeks, I will test it out with smaller purchases like the formula and see how it goes.  I will let you know.

The third and final new thing this week is my first "daily schedule" for me and Mackenzie!  I modeled mine after Heather's over at Want What You Have.  Although I am not officially a "stay-at-home" mom, I used her Daily Schedule for Stay-At-Home Moms because I only work a few days a week and I don't usually work typical hours, so it seemed pretty applicable.  Yesterday was the first day and although I couldn't stick to it because of a work meeting in the morning and a final last night, it was super helpful just to have some goals and timelines in front of me for both myself and Bean!  I got up an hour late this morning because Bean didn't sleep well last night, so I'm running an hour behind schedule now, but it still is working to keep me on task.  For example, although I'm an hour behind, I can see its time for me to get off the computer and go take care of some home cleaning tasks!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Shopping Kudos

I'm sending these out to my hubby, who did a bulk of our Christmas shopping yesterday!  As I said in yesterday's post, I HATE Christmas shopping.  I always say that I'm going to collect gifts throughout the year so I don't have to deal with the Christmas lines and the stress of last-minute "what the heck do I get this person?" shopping, but once again, I fail miserably at actually doing it.  (Okay, this last year, I feel like I have some pretty good excuses for not getting anything done ahead of time...not to play the "I had a baby two months early and then she had to have a heart transplant and spend months in the hospital" card or anything...but, it happened...)  So, I just wanted to say that he did a great job.  He got a TON of stuff at Bath and Body Works, where I had a 20% of $25 purchase (you can get yours here by signing up for their email list) for only $39!  He also braved a visit to Target for formula and some big tubs of mixed nuts for my dad and brother-in-law, and visited a local fly fishing shop to finish off his brother and sister-in-law's gifts.  So, I'm WAY ahead of where I have been in past years!  I need to make some calendars for both the grandparents and our friend who helps us take care of Bean.  I think I'm going to find 12 outfits that somewhat go with each month of the year and take a picture of Bean in each for the calendar!  It will take a little time, but it will be fun and the calendar will be super-cute that way!  I'm actually looking forward to that.  I need to do it soon to be sure we can get the calendars by Christmas for people.  I think these make great gifts and they're pretty cheap to get online for the most part.

Other than that, I have a feeling today is going to be a somewhat lazy, rainy day for me.  Well, maybe not lazy.  I need to grade, unpack a few boxes that are strewn throughout the house from our clearing space in the garage, review some of the resources on the Want What You Have blog and prepare for this coming week of finals, meetings and preparing for visitors (we have both sets of grandparents possibly coming plus friends of ours from the Bay Area possibly....ahhhhhhh!).  I wish it could be a lazy day...we can dream can't we?!?

I also wanted to share another blog with you all that I found of late that I heart!  "To The Max" is a blog written by the mom of a little boy with Cerebral Palsy.  I love the blog for a couple of reasons.  First, she is really honest and open about the trials of dealing with a special needs child.  It feels good to read what she has learned and experienced when dealing with Bean.  Second, she has GREAT GIVEAWAYS!!!  For instance, today she is giving away this incredibly cute box set of candles!  I love me a good giveaway!  So, cruise on over to "To the Max" and let me know if you win!

Free Stuff in the Mail!!!

I almost forgot to share...I got some free stuff in the mail this past week.  This was quite the package - it cost me $5.50 for postage because of the forwarding from our old address to the new address, but I was glad I paid it when I opened it up and found TWO dinner kits - Wanchai Ferry's Orange Chicken and Macaroni Grill's Chicken Piccata.  In the past, I have paid to eat Macaroni Grill's Creamy Basil at home and it was absolutely delicious!  These kits only require you to add a few ingredients and I am hoping that the Orange Chicken and the Chicken Piccata end up tasting as good as the Creamy Basil did.  I currently have some chicken breasts defrosting in the refrigerator to use with these kits, so tomorrow I should have a report on how they taste!

You may be wondering why I got them free in the mail.  A while back, I signed up with Pssst... and since then I have received a couple of samples that I have not been able to spread the word about due to extenuating circumstances - hospital stays that prevented me from truly enjoying the items or my husband eating them before I got to them!  So, this is the first time I am blogging about items received.  In addition to sending me the dinner kits, they also included a generous number of $1.25 off one dinner kit coupons.  So, if you are reading this blog and are interested in receiving a coupon or two from me, just comment with your email address and I will email you for your snail mail address and send them along. I know the website for the Dinner Kits has $1 off coupons as well, but for some of you with double and triple coupon options, the $1.25 may save you significantly more.  Plus, I've got all these coupons...might as well share a few, right?

Okay - now I'm REALLY going to bed for the night!  Hopefully Bean isn't up too often and I can get some sleep!

Exciting New Resource

After my little "episode" yesterday, I have been thinking about where I need help in my life and how to find that help.  In looking around on the trusty internet, I have found an exciting new resource that I am going to be exploring over the next week or so.  "Want What You Have" is a mom's blog with a definite religious focus (just to warn those of you who might be turned off by that sort of thing - me, I need all the help I can get!) that offers a bevy of additional resources.  I found it while looking for a realistic daily schedule for me and Bean - she is getting to an age where we really need to start establishing a schedule for her - eating, sleeping, playing, etc.  My husband and I are definitely not good at sticking to a schedule, so I figured looking for one online and then tweaking it to meet our needs and then DISPLAYING it should really help us out.  It works for Supernanny right?  So, I took a look at the daily schedule for stay at home moms on this blog.  Although I am not officially a stay-at-home mom, my work schedule is flexible enough to consider myself one for the sake of planning.  I really felt like Heather was speaking for me in the opening paragraphs leading to the schedule!  I have definitely slipped into the unmotivated and undisciplined areas she speaks of!

I am not set on a schedule yet.  As Heather says, I have to figure out what works for me - what I have to get done.  I also would like to integrate this idea with some of the Flylady scheduling I have been working on.  I think that the Flylady routines will integrate well into the daily schedule.

So, I'm heading off to bed and tomorrow I will work on figuring out this daily schedule thing and I look forward to exploring more of the resources on Want What You Have!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Little Stressed...

So, I had a mini-breakdown yesterday.  The month of December is always a big stresser for me.  Its the end of the semester and I'm usually behind in grading.  Its the end of the year and we're usually starting to run short on funds (even without the health issues that came into play this year).  Its usually a little dismal weather-wise, so that has a negative effect on me.  Its the time of year I reflect back on the last year and realize all the things I had WANTED to do that I didn't do, for yet another year...So, I had a little breakdown - a little cry...

I think I've rallied a bit today.  My husband, who is often a little unaware, has been fantastic.  He went out and did Christmas shopping today - yes, I said HE did Christmas shopping!!!  That is a huge relief because I usually have it hanging over my head and I really hate Christmas shopping overall, but ESPECIALLY at the last minute! So, that has been fantastic.  In addition, I have been able to accomplish quite a bit on my to-do list (which is the size of Mt. Lassen right now) in the past couple of days.  But, sometimes I just feel like I'm spinning my wheels.  I do the same things over and over and over and over and it doesn't leave time for me to get the additional things done.  For example, I feel like I have to clean my kitchen two or three times a day...and of course, it doesn't stay clean (in fact, its a mess right now).  I finally got the dining room cleaned up two days ago and now the table top is no longer visible.  We cleaned a space in the garage to put the bassinet so we would have a space for the Christmas tree in the living room and now there are boxes in every room of the house needing to be unpacked/sorted through AND there is a giant pile of stuff that needs to be sorted and organized in the middle of the garage floor.  I've done load after load of laundry over the past couple of weeks and there are still a number of loads to be done.  Its never-ending!

So, I'm starting to realize how overwhelmed I have let myself become by letting things go.  I am very much a "out of sight, out of mind" kind of gal, and when something pressing is happening (e.g. Mackenzie's health issues), everything else just gets thrown in the metaphorical drawer to be sorted through later.  But, my drawer is now overflowing - in fact, I probably have a dresser full of stuff or more - and I'm running out of room for it.

I realize I have to take more control of things in my life.  I need to take things out of the drawers and at least put them in see-through containers where I can spot those things that are starting to cause a problem before they become a problem instead of just letting things go and go and go and go...

Procrastination is definitely my major, major weakness and it needs to stop here and now.  I sometimes procrastinate about ending my procrastination....so, I'm not going to make this a New Year's Resolution - I'm going to make it a December 12 resolution.  I am really going to start to do things now that I can do now and to schedule everything else in and stick to the schedule, no matter how painful that may be.  Again, its all about prioritization.  But, I need to remember how crappy I felt yesterday and it will help me if the reason I'm doing things is to avoid that feeling!

What are the rest of you changing as the new year approaches?  What are some of the things you changed over the last year that you are particularly proud of or happy with?  Give me some encouragement!!!