Esther 4:14b

"...and who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this."

Monday, August 31, 2009

It happened again

Remember this post? Well, it happened again while I was away at the house last month, and it sure made my day!

My phone rang and it said it was my sister. When I answered it, I heard, "Hi, Aunt Bee!"

Thinking Chelsea had just put Braden on the phone, I started talking with him and we were having a good ol' conversation. He told me all about his books and the toys in his room. Then he took the phone over to "Baby Cayo" and had me talk with him.

It was all a lot of fun, but I began to wonder why I didn't hear Chelsea in the background at all. I asked Braden if he could put mommy on because I was starting to wonder if everything was okay. He proceeded to just talk to me some more.

Finally I heard my sister's voice in the background and she picks up the phone and hears me talking. She proceeds to tell me that she was in the kitchen and Braden was in his room calling me, unbeknownst to her.

I love getting unexpected calls from my nephew! Especially when he can tell who it is that he called based on the voice!

A Sweet Reward

To reward myself for finishing all my filing and for being good on my diet this week (even though my scale says I didn't drop a single pound), I rented a redbox movie and enjoyed it while eating a delicious hot fudge sundae from McDonald's.

Of course I capitalized on the opportunity to rent a chick flick seeing how hubby is still out of town.

If you haven't seen Confessions of a Shopaholic and are looking for a light hearted movie, I recommend it. Plus, the man in the movie is pretty cute, especially since he has a British accent :)

Brightens My Day

My mom sent me some photos from my nephew's 2nd birthday weekend. One of them was a photo of the cutest nephews in the whole world, and it makes me smile every time I see it.

It appears Caleb is a little scared or curious about something at Chuckie Cheese! Happy birthday, Braden! Can't believe how big you both are getting already!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

From A to Z

My hubby is away for two weeks for business and to work on the framing at our house. So, what am I doing for fun while he's away?



Every single pile of paper we may have had stashed somewhere in either house has been pulled out, sorted, and I'm in the process of labeling and filing them away. So far it's been a two day process, but my goal is to be all done by tonight so I can move on to other more enjoyable things. Things like paying bills, washing clothes, cleaning the bathroom, grocery shopping, and entering all our receipts for the new house into an Excel spreadsheet. Fun, right?

Hopefully I can have all of that finished by this weekend so that next week I can relax and read two more books and get back to crafting!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2 Already?

It's hard to believe that my favorite little blond haired nephew is turning 2 already! It seems like just yesterday he was born. I was so excited when I got the news that my first nephew was born and I'll always remember the first time I met Braden - he was a little over a month old when he attended our wedding. I thought he looked so handsome in his little tuxedo!

I was so anxious to see him again that I arranged for my sister and Braden and me and hubby to fly in to Colorado to surprise my dad for his birthday in March 2008. Boy was he surprised! Braden was such a cute little bugger and brought all of us a bunch of laughs. Here he is with his favorite aunt!

I didn't get to attend his first birthday last August 23rd, but I definitely saw the photos and it looks like he enjoyed his cake immensely! For that birthday I made him giant papermached letters that spelled his name for him to hang in his room.

When he was one and a half he became a big brother. He is such a good big bro to baby Cayo (as he calls Caleb) and I'm sure the two will be best buds for life. Here they are at my cousin's wedding this past June. During this trip he and "Aunt Bea" had a lot of fun hanging out together!

This is the latest photo I have of my almost 2 year old nephew. Hard to believe how fast time flies (and he's not even my own kid)!! I like his wild and crazy spiky hairdo because I think it captures his zest for life.

Hope you have a fabulous birthday tomorrow, Braden! Thanks for all the laugh and joys you bring to Aunt Bea! You're the best nephew ever and I look forward to watching you learn and grow even more throughout the years. Enjoy the airplane and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle - I hear you really enjoy playing "tuwtules" with daddy.

Wish I could be there to celebrate with you today at Chucky Cheese. I love you!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pitas and hummus

Yesterday I talked about the raw food detox I'm on for a week to see if it will help my stomach issues at all.

I'm so ready for today to be done so I can go back to eating a wider variety of foods (oh milk how I miss you). Honestly, I'm not seeing any difference between how I feel eating "raw" and how I feel eating a normal well-balanced diet, so it just isn't worth the dreading of meal times for me.

To celebrate the return of a few carbs to my diet I'm going to celebrate this weekend my making homemade pitas and hummus. Yum!

I'm going to try this recipe I found for pitas (I don't read her blog but the recipe came up in a Google search) and Rachael Ray's hummus recipe.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Raw food anyone?

As most of you know, I've been having issues with my stomach for the past month or two.

I got sick the end of June with what I'm labeling a viral infection. It had me knocked out for 3 days with achy bones and joints, headaches and a slight fever. After three days of that, I had about a week and a half worth of a dry, hacking cough and congestion. A few days after that disappeared, my stomach became distended. It's weird. I wake up in the morning and it's flat like normal, and as soon as I visit the ladies' room (before I even eat anything) it's puffed out like I just ate two Thanksgiving dinners. It only gets larger as the day goes on regardless of how much I do or don't consume.

Now I know I've put on a couple (okay maybe 5) pounds over the past month or so, but a weight gain that slight is normally not accompanied by one not being able to button any of her pants (even the leftover size 8s from a couple years ago) due to a swollen stomach. Nor does a slight weight gain result in bad stomach cramps and occasional nausea and vomiting.

At this point some of you are probably thinking to yourself, "Maybe she's pregnant." Let's be clear on that, the resounding answer is "NO!"

After waiting a week from the appearance of the distended stomach to make sure it wasn't just related to typical PMS bloating, I decided a visit to my doctor was in order. She did a round of blood work to check for pregnancy and other things and everything was negative besides slightly elevated liver levels. She then decided to send me for an ultrasound on my liver, pancreas, gallbladder and kidneys just to make sure there was nothing abnormal there. The only thing that showed up was a small polyp on my gallbladder.

When I was in discussing these test results with her, she admitted that she really thought my pregnancy test was going to come back positive (which was not true!) and wanted to do a second round of blood work to check the liver levels again and to test for Lyme's (seeing how I live on a farm, that may have been the original thing that started everything off the end of June). She also wanted me to see my gynecologist to see if she noticed anything abnormal. She didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, but is performing a pelvic ultrasound just to make sure. I go for that this coming Monday and after we get those results and my second round blood work results, then my internist will decide whether she's going to send me for a CT scan or to a gastroenterologist.

So where does the raw food figure into this?

At this point, I'm desperate to try anything that will make it so I can actual button my pants again (Sidetrack here: Okay, so I put on 5 pounds, but I've put on the same 5 pounds before a year ago and did not have these issues of my clothes not fitting. I'm always 5 pounds within my goal weight which keeps me in the same size clothes. I am completely baffled why none of my regular size pants are fitting me and why my stomach is so huge because normally I carry my weight in my legs. Anybody have any thoughts?), and so that I don't have to wear blousy shirts so people don't think I'm pregnant, and so I can actual go the bathroom and eat a meal without getting an uncomfortably full stomach, occasional nausea and rarely vomiting.

I've looked into allergies of different kinds but I could eat the food one day and have no side effects and the very same food the next day could make me sick to my stomach. I've researched symptoms of different intestinal diseases. It sounds the closest to IBS, but we're still waiting for the results.

As far as my diet goes, I'm trying everything from eating Dannon Activia yogurt every day, reducing my carb intake and the last few days focusing on a raw food detox (where all I can eat is raw fruits and veggies…yuck for a person like me who only likes cooked veggies. After all, one can only eat so many salads in a given day!). My stomach doesn't hurt as much as normal, but stomach is still incredibly bloated and full feeling even after a simple glass of water.

So, this is what I've been dealing with lately. Don't suggest a raw food diet to any of you unless you're madly in love with eating pounds worth of raw veggies a day.

Buster Bar Dessert

This is yet another of my mom's recipes and one of my favorite summer time treats. A few years ago she made this for hubby for his 30th birthday because he loves ice cream cakes, and he's requested it each year since.

1 15 oz. pkg. oreos
4 T. butter, melted
1 c. margarine
3 c. powder sugar
3 sq. semisweet chocolate (3 oz.)
4 eggs
½ gallon vanilla ice cream
1-1/4 c. Spanish peanuts

Crumble cookies until fine, reserving 1/3 c. for top of dessert. Mix crumbs with butter and put in 9 x 13 pan. Set aside. Cook together margarine, sugar, chocolate, and eggs until boiling. Let cool. Spread softened vanilla ice cream over crumbs in pan. Sprinkle peanuts over ice cream. Freeze until ice cream is firm. Pour cooled sauce over peanuts. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Store in freezer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Hubby!

A couple weeks ago was hubby's 32nd birthday. We really didn't have time to do a proper celebration while we were busy working on the house, so we actually just celebrated it this past weekend with his parents, grandma and cousin and his wife.

Hubby actually received three gifts from me this year, or at least gifts that I'm declaring his birthday gifts for this year, next year, and the following year because of how much they cost! The first was new exercise equipment for the "new" house. One of those combo pull up bars/tricep dip bars/ab crunch things. The second was a brand spankin' new 10" sliding compound miter saw with laser. And the third another brand spankin' new saw - a 7" circular saw. Guess I'll just have to take the pictures of them next year and the following year to remind him he already received his gifts!

On his actual birthday, we used a gift certificate that our realtor gave us and went to a real yummy restaurant in downtown. The food was pretty good and it was even better when they actually gave us the difference that we didn't use on the gift certificate back in cash! Woohoo...a completely free meal...tip included!

This past weekend we had a birthday BBQ of ribs, coleslaw, corn on the cob, tomatoes, fresh baked zucchini bread (I had enough zucchini to make the equivalent of 8 loaves!), and baked beans. Well, we were supposed to have baked beans but I forgot to put them out until AFTER everyone had already ate. For dessert we had a repeat of last year: Buster Bar Dessert. It got pretty good reviews from everyone so I'll post the recipe soon.

Hubby originally requested a Baked Alaska but changed his mind. Guess I'll have to try my hand at one of those another time.

Happy birthday, my love! Hope you have a fabulous year!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Paradise (a.k.a. the Cook Islands)

**Originally published 3/4/09, but reposting today to join in on Kelly's "Show us Your Life - Favorite Vacation Spot" from yesterday**
NOTE: Click on any of the pictures for a larger view.

Hubby and I had a wonderful time in the Cook Islands. We stayed on Rarotonga at Sea Change Villas for the first 7 days and then flew over to Aitutaki for the last 5 days and stayed 2 nights at the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa in an "overwater" bungalow and 3 nights in a villa at Etu Moana. Our favorite place out of all three was Sea Change on Rarotonga because it was the most convinent to shops, restaurants and activities and it also provided the most space and privacy. Plus, each villa had its own freshwater pool which we loved! But, you can't beat the beautiful lagoon of Aitutaki. I highly recommend visiting both islands if you ever make it to the Cooks.

Above: View of the beach directly across the street from our villa at Sea Change. You could see the ocean from our bed and there was never another soul out there while we were snorkeling or kayaking. Poor hubby got flipped over once in his kayak and had a bad run in with the coral. Thankfully his scrapes didn't bother him too much.

Below: The very comfortable bed was just one of the many nice amenities the place had to offer.

Below: Our own freshwater pool. This was a lifesaver for cooling off in the 90 degree heat. The back of our villa faced the goregous mountains and the front the ocean. It was heaven!

Below: We took a jeep safari tour one day and had a delicious BBQ lunch of grilled swordfish. Here is our guide picking some fresh ginger for us all to smell. The flowers were incredible!

The next day we went on a cross-island trek with Pa (who liked to refer to himself in the third person and kept saying, "Pa - World's Most Famous Man"), a 63 year old who's treked across the island over 3200 times all of them barefoot and wearing nothing but a saraong! We literally were climbing over tree roots and ducking/crawling under branches. Half way through it started to rain which made it even more exciting as you were slipping through mud down the steep slope and trudging through rivers. I felt like I was on Honey I Shrunk the Kids and loved every minute of it!

Above: Pa "The World's Most Famous Man"

Below: The view from the top

Below: Another night we went to Island Night where they served their local foods (which were okay) and had a dance show that told the history of their country from the time they were cannibals until the time the Christian missionaries came and converted the islands up through today. Today, Christianity is still a huge part of their culture, evidenced by the huge number of churches well attended on the very small island, the fact that all the tour guides always had the group say grace before our meals, and everything being shut down for the most part on Sundays. I took some videos and will try to post them soon once I download and edit them.

Below: For Valentine's Day, we had breakfast of delicious French toast catered in and also had a BBQ dinner with shrimp, chicken, fish and steak catered in for supper. The rest of the day we tooled around the island in the little convertible we rented (you could rent a brand-new BMW roadster for $35 USD a day, but we went with the less expensive cabriolet convertible) and checked out the local market where I got some awesome stuff to make jewelry and other little crafts. We returned home to these delicious brownies that the owners of the place left for us.

Above: Our 2nd of 3 lei's we'd receive during our stay. We got this one on upon our arrival in Aitutaki. It was so hot and humid that curly hair and no makeup was the main style for our stay!

Below: The view from our bed and deck at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa. We loved the view of the water and the fact that we could walk right down in with the fish.

Above: Getting ready to go to dinner and the Fire Dance show.

Below: The amazing fire dancers. These guys were nuts and I have a great video to post soon.

Above: We went on a full day lagoon cruise that had three snorkeling stops, visited 5 motus (small uninhabited islands), and served a BBQ lunch in the water. Here we're on "Honeymoon Island" after two snorkeling stops. I took photos with an underwater camera but haven't developed them yet. Hopefully they turned out because the fish and coral were amazing and we saw huge giant clams. We wore SPF 45, but would both be stuck inside the next day with bad sunburns.

Below: Our wonderful BBQ lunch was served at a picnic table in the water. I love their version of "disposable" plates! After lunch we had a hermit crab race because they're all over.

Above: One of the volcanic motus that we visited. We also visited "One Foot Island" which has the world's smallest post office and we got a stamp in our passport. This island above was one of the ones used for Survivor: Cook Islands.

Below: The only sunset we witnessed the whole time we were in the Cook Islands. We always stayed on the east side of the island or where out at dinner at sunset.

Above: The last place we stayed was Etu Moana. This was the villa we stayed in. It was a very nice spot, but not quite as private as Sea Change on Rarotonga and we didn't have our own freshwater pool.

Below: A view of the pool and other villas at Etu Moana.

Posting all these pictures makes me want to go back already!!