Monday, February 18, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again

Life is busy, pretty sure we can all agree with that. That being the case I made a resolution to continue blogging and finding time to just do it. I love writing, I really loved blogging and I want to make a concentrated effort to renew that. Even if it only means I am able to give brief snippets of what I really want to write I am going to do it. I am Back in the Saddle Again.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Meal Plan (June 11)

After almost a month of not planning our meals, being on vacation, overspending and just random insanity we have a meal plan. I finally have found a nice pattern to help make the meal plan simpler to plan. I have assigned each day a meat "flavor" such as beef on Mondays. This means I can narrow it down and not feel quite so over whelmed.

Friday is big sassy's last day of kindergarten. She is so old! I cannot believe that she will officially be a grade schooler next year. Apparently her new teacher is amazing (she met her today) and sas has gushed about her from the moment I saw her. Consider me super relived. We are doing one of her favorite on Friday, grilled pizzas.

Monday (beef)
B-Omelets with cheese and sausage
D-Steak, grilled veggies, potatoes roasted with cheese and bacon

Tuesday (Mexican)
B-Eggs with cheese
D-Taco Salads

Wednesday (pork)
L-Leftover taco salad
D-Pork ribs, potato salad, peas

Thursday (chicken)
B-Fried eggs
D-Lemon and garlic chicken thighs, green beans

L-Chicken and salad
D-Grilled pizza (trying a scallop pizza with Alfredo sauce to get the kids started on seafood they like)

Saturday(crock pot)
B-Eggs and bacon
L-Leftovers and salad
D-Whole chicken, roasted carrots

Clean the fridge, leftovers

Friday, June 8, 2012

Madison: The story of a spectacularly sassy girl

Yesterday afternoon the Special Olympics torch was ran by our house. Actually they did more then just run a torch around our small town, the torch is generally driven down here because of the distance and then ran through town. A few of the guys decided that the torch should be ran all the way in, all 44 miles. They were joined on the outside of town by a larger group of runners. They all wanted to bring attention to what was going on, to raise awarness in this small town, that even here we have children who benefit from the Special Olympics.

The majority of the run looked like this, hilly lovely empty country side

The Special Olympics has and is one of the biggest voices out there raising public awareness about people with disabilities. They believe everyone should have the opportunity to build confidence and stay healthy by learning a sport. Special Olympics heads leading research in the special health, educational, and personal needs of these individuals.

A dear friend from high school and I were pregnant with our first Sassy girls together. She was in rural Northern California and I was in rural Northern Minnesota, while our sassy little ladies are almost the exact same age, her daughter Madison had a scary delivery and a very tumultuous first few years. They are so blessed to have this sweet girl and I cannot wait for you guys to hear all about Madison's story. She has over come and fought through so much. Hopefully her story can help someone and give strength to those going through similar things.

~Madison Renee~
I was asked to write this guest post a while back and had a hard time thinking of how it was to be written. Our daughter Madison was born July 25th, 2006. She was 6 days overdue and as first time parents were anxious for her arrival. We scheduled the induction and everything went as planned. Madison was born at 5:37 am, 9lbs 1oz and 22 inches long.
From there it got blurry. She wasn't breathing when she was born, her blood sugars were at a 13 and she was limp. In our rural town we don't have a NICU, we barely have a nursery for the babies to sleep in. They took her into the other room and started giving her blow by oxygen and some sugar water through IV to get her out of shock. By 11:00am she still never came back to my room and I wasn't allowed to see her. Her prognosis was worse every time I asked the nurse what was going on. They decided to fly her out to a hospital 2 hrs. away that had a level 2 NICU. And there we stayed for 3 weeks.
No one knew why she was having problems, she was the biggest baby in the hospital but the most fragile. Surprisingly. We went through the geneticist and that was normal. Went through the Neurologist and that was somewhat normal, she had some bleeding on the brain from birth that was resolving. She does have a horseshoe kidney and thought to have a tethered spinal cord. Her main problem was no muscle tone, she looked like a rag doll when picked up. And that hindered her nursing or sucking on a bottle. She had her NG tube in when we came home. And I kept at trying to nurse, it seemed she could latch on but didn't have a strong suck. We tried all the tricks the nurses showed us in the hospital but nothing worked. After having the tube in for 5 weeks, she started to depend on it. Funny, thinking a 5 week old baby knew the difference but she was refusing to nurse and satisfied only by gavage feedings. So with the OK from our main Dr at the time we took it out....BIG mistake.
Without our knowledge she wasn't gaining weight like they had hoped. By 3 months she was diagnosed failure to thrive, but never once told her mother and father to figure out a new feeding plan. I still continued to breastfeed and nursed every 90 minutes seemed like. It wasn't til she was 3 1/2 months a feeding therapist noticed she was choking while nursing and took concern. Then, our world down spiraled for a while. We had to take her in to the ER for a horrible cough and were diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia. She didn't have a fever or pneumonia like symptoms. At first, they wanted to turn us away with just a cold, but always trust your parents’ intuition. The next month, it happened again. This time we took her to our family clinic and the PA refused to see her. Said it didn't sound like pneumonia and we needed to take her to a real pediatrician. So back to the ER we went, this time it was in both lobes.
Madison had another genetic test done at 6 months and it came back normal again. Jan. of 2007 she had a collapsed lung and was airlifted out to UCSF. She recovered well with no new answers. At that time, we decided that we will just take her as she is and love her like a child should be. We found a great new pediatrician that just happened to move into our town and were taking new patients. We began seeing him 3x a week for weight checks and once her weight wasn't changing decided immediately to get a g-tube put in. For us, it isn't just a trip down the street to our hospital. We had to drive 7 hrs. and stay 2 weeks while she underwent feeding studies and lung studies. We had seen the geneticist for the 3rd time with the same results. April 2nd, 2007 she had her g-tube put in. After that, her weight and strength sky rocketed! She had been seeing PT since she was 6 months old and after getting her proper nutrition started making great progress. She started to outgrow all her medications and with the help of her feeding therapist she started to take in different texture and started to eat food orally.
By the time she turned 3, she was fed thru mouth only. She was just learning how to walk and was almost ready for preschool. We still had her tube in cause it had to not be used for 1 year before it was taken out. Mostly, we had it in because we could give her medication thru it without her fighting. By Sept. of 2009 she was walking and had no tube and really no issues at all. She was still a frequent visitor to the ER because she didn’t understand that to control the flu she had to drink fluid. So she would shut down and dehydrate herself.
March of 2010, she had a seizure, first time ever. She hadn’t been feeling well that day and her fever spiked and caused the seizure. With her background of problems she was flown out again to Stanford. While there, we were seen again by the geneticist and were taught how to regulate her blood sugar. But this time, the genetic team was certain that they knew what she could have.
Early May 2010 we got the call that she had a rare syndrome called Soto's Syndrome, named after the Dr who found it. Everything that she went through at birth was normal to a baby with Soto's. But the reason why all the other tests came back normal is because it is an extensive test where they scan each strand of DNA for an error. To finally hear the words, that diagnosis was bittersweet. 2 years before we decided that we were going to accept whatever it was she had and live our lives. But finding out that this syndrome isn't life threatening was the greatest news.
In late May 2010, we had to go in for dental surgery. From all the antibiotics she was on and just having poor enamel she had several rotten teeth. When they were done, they only capped 9 teeth and pulled the rest. She had 4 abscessed teeth and giving her painful infections. They discharged us that day and told us she will bounce back no problem. Another mistake on our part for listening, but they did blame us for her teeth and how crappy we were feeding her. They were told before surgery what she was diagnosed with and that dental problems were very common in children with this disorder, but they didn't research it. Again we had to drive 7 hours home and she shut down from the pain, she choked on her liquid pain medicine and refused to eat anything. She was severely dehydrated by day 3 and we took her back to the hospital that had seen her when she was a baby. They were very understanding and admitted us for 3 days to let her recover on IV pain medicine. After she healed it seemed like her health was turning around.
She is only seen by her urologist right now for hydronephrosis of the left kidney. She had to have a stint put in and some cartilage taken out. We got to go to a conference in Texas for Soto's Syndrome families, and learned so much from the Doctors there.
She has finished the 2 years of preschool and is now in Kindergarten. She recently was tested again and was at a 2 year 8 month learning ability. Her overall health has improved tremendously as she has gotten older. She loves her 2 sisters, music, dancing and animals. She loves, loves sign language. We had our fair share of tantrums and frustration from her not being able to tell us what she wanted or needed. I’m not sure what will happen as she gets older or how fast her learning will catch on, but her dad and I are so proud of all that she has accomplished. She will probably always live with us and be our responsibility. She is our Madison Renee.

Madison, on right with her sassy sisters.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Above and Beyond

So now that I am an wise old lady who owns a home, I have a husband and children I totally understand certain things that before were beyond my comprehension. (like how I somehow only got one leg shaved in the shower, or the value of going to bed before the sun goes down, the ingeniousness of a budget and the love of a good fix it man.)
In all seriousness though I grew up listening to people say things like "you get what you pay for", discussing customer service responses and interesting for my generation, watching people buy things in small stores and paying double the price it was being offered online or at a discount place. It baffled me to be honest and until I got older I never really got it. Now that I am older and wiser I have discovered there are some companies out there that might cost more to buy from directly but who have policies and customer service that go above and beyond the norm. Making it not only more pleasant to shop with them, but also approachable with your problems and concerns. So here is my list of companies that I am more then happy to do business with, they are the places who get our business first, they are head and shoulders above others in standing behind the products they sell or the service they offer and are always quick to resolve any issues.

L.L.Bean- Lets just start with one of the most talked about companies for customer service out there. When you call their 800 number it rings and a live person answers with HELLO. In a day and age of automatic, frustrating speak/type your response this is such a wonderful surprise. Living in Maine we consistently shop at the L.L.Bean flagship store as well as online and in their outlets. We have made numerous phone calls when we have questions about a product and always gotten precise answers and understanding of what we are talking about. The employees always seem genuinely happy to be at work and more then helpful in sorting out what you want/need. Their return policy is superior to none. If you are not 100% satisfied with the product you purchase please return it. They do not want you to have a product you bought from them that you are not satisfied with. The most important part of this is that they MEAN it, they really and truly want you to be happy with your purchase. As a company they want to sell only quality products that people are happy to buy and to tell others about.

Bogs Boots- An Canadian * American company based out of Portland, Or that offers, important to us for our climate, snow boot/rain boot. So when its 20 f, out with muck rain and slush these boots are the trick. With a neoprene shaft and handles the girls LOVE their bogs. We happened to have big sassy's sole wear out near the heel of her boots this December (when boots are needed most), I was very frustrated since they had hardly been worn. After a quick, painless phone call the company happily stood behind their product and sent us a replacement. This speaks volumes to us, we will always have bogs boots in our house because we know that the quality is there and if not the company guarantees the product. They were very pleasant to deal with and had everything handled and in the mail in less then 24 hours. They have a policy almost exactly like L.L.Bean, they want their customer to be satisfied and to feel as though they have the best product for the money.

The Natural Baby Company- More specifically, Gro-via diapers. This is a company that makes and sells cloth diapers, we have used their all in one diapers since Chloe was 10lbs and just love them. However we were part of the first batch of these to be sold and there were quality control issues on two separate occasions. They very promptly troubleshot on the phone and then sent out new diapers with a return package for the diapers that were having issues. They offer what I consider one of the best deals for the quality of product out there in what is surprisingly a very competitive world of cloth diapering. With a receipt and original ownership they offer a surprising 1 year from date of purchase warranty for any manufacturing defects with their diapers. Want a better warranty then that? Purchase them at Kelly's Closet , an authorized gro-via retailer, and you get a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee.

Marriott- We have stayed at many Marriott hotels through the years, and without fail the employees are happy, helpful and manage to make you feel as though you make their job better by being there. Most specifically we have stayed on a longer basis at two particular hotels that went above and beyond. These are the places that hands down we recommend to our friends and family time and again. Residence Inn Portland, Maine and Residence Inn Savannah, Georgia. Having worked hospitality and in hotels almost all of my life prior to being a stay at home mom, I really appreciate when hotel employees take the extra effort to seem to be happy at work. It takes good management who loves their jobs and are very competent and comfortable in their work to hire employees of this caliber and to help encourage them to continue being this way. It also takes a group of smart, bright, self motivated individuals to make you want to come back somewhere, not just for the city but for the experience of being around people who make you feel so welcome.

Xm/Sirius Satellite-An odd one right? We have had Sirius for close to 10 years now, and have always received exemplary service from them. We bought a car last year and had decided to put satellite radio in since we have loved it so much. Mr.Sassy spent close to 2 hours on the phone attempting to spend more money with this company and was treated pretty crummy. We contacted the company and within a matter of hours had a real live person call US on the phone, she apologized for our inconvenience and explained that the agents involved were going to be receiving extra training. I found that pretty impressive, I hate hearing someones in trouble when I complain, actually that's probably a major reason that I do not complain when I feel service was sub par. I was blown away that they didn't mention discipline but rather that they want their employees to learn how to present the face of Xm/Sirius and provide a high level of service and customer satisfaction. They followed up the next day as well to make sure that our radio was working properly and to apologize again and thank us for our continued service.

I am sure that there are many, many more companies that offer extraordinary guarantees and service but these just happen to be the ones we have seen first hand. Anyone know of anyone we left out? Share your experience with a company that has won over your family!

*So having just moved from Toronto, while buying our bogs we were always told they were a Canadian company, lo and behold they are NOT. Based out of Portland, Oregon they started making boots for farmers that could stand up to the cold, wet muck of the outdoors and withstand a beating. They do have a branch based out of Canada, hence my confusion.

(none of this blog or article was paid, sponsored or requested by any of the above companies.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Simple Sassy Potatoes

I officially have an almost 2 year old. Its pretty awesome, big sassy could never have dreamed of being half as challenging as little sassy is. To further prove this point the conversation this morning with Mr. Sassy went like this (after fighting lil' sas to bed over a 3 hour period last night)
Me: No she is bad, like super bad.
Mr.S: Kate, just be patient OK? She is just having a hard time, you are the calm one here, keep it together.
We both turn to look at little sassy only to find her PEELING THE WALLPAPER OFF THE WALLS!!
(I guess she will be our Legendary Child)

 I am desperately trying to find simple sides for dinners. I can only imagine the type of things little sas would find to do in the time it would take me to actually make something that takes longer then 5 minutes!)  From the first glimpse of warmth we fire up the grill and it doesn't get shut down until the temperature is so cold we are miserable being out there. This was made in the oven since we were only doing quick steaks and I wanted to be sure this cooked. I found these awesome packages of bacon ends and pieces that are terrible for breakfast but make an awesome addition for throwing into things  for that really rich flavor. They are a lot cheaper then buying the equivalent weight in real bacon slices.

Simple Sassy Potatoes

6 potatoes sliced  (you pick type, I used a medium sized red)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
garlic powder (more or less depending on taste)
onion powder (more or less depending on taste)
bacon (I used probably 1/2 cup)
Tin foil

preheat oven to 400
Lay out your tin foil, roughly two sheets 3 feet long. Make them into a plus sign by laying one horizontal and one vertical on top of each other
Mix all ingredients, Except bacon, in a bowl then dump into the center of the tin foil.
Sprinkle bacon over the top.
Starting with whichever layer of tinfoil is on the outside, wrap it around the potatoes, repeat with second layer.
Place in oven and bake for 30-45 or until potatoes are fork tender.

The sassy girls ate theirs with sour cream but Mr. Sassy and I like them all by themselves.

(recipe inspiration and picture from Cassie craves)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Super Simple Sassalicous Cookies

Rain, rain, rain. Nothing makes me feel like the ultimate mother failure then being sick, having rainy weather and the sassies running around the house like hooligans. I really wish I was a super organized mom with a huge closet filled with amazing Pinterest crafts to entertain the children and beautify my home at the same time, but I don't. Actually crafts with the kids stress me out big time, the potential of ruining the house, permanently maiming the kids and all the other craziness that tends to happen when the art supplies come out really has me on edge. I really like warm enough weather to craft outside, which totally screws me over on sick, rainy days. I also like crafts that don't involve things I want to throw away in a week or two. All the good stuff is crazy expensive and labor intensive which aggravates me all the more.

Actually what I really like doing with the sassy girls is cooking and baking. There is a plan, a procedure and the end product, which you eat and feel like a superhero for making. Its all very warm and fuzzy self esteem building. Really they should make a card for it.

Our cookies NEEDED sprinkles

Super Simple Sassalicous Cookies

2 Sticks of butter (1/2 lb)
1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar ( I use dark)
1/2 White sugar
2 Large eggs
2 Teaspoons of vanilla
1 and 1/2 Cups of all purpose flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon salt
3 Cups of old fashioned rolled oats
1 Cup butterscotch chips
1 Cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350 f.
Beat butter and sugars until creamy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla
Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt, stir well.
Stir in Oatmeal and all chips and pecans.
Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges begin to turn a light golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for 1 min. on baking sheet.
Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

You can substitute any flavor variety of chips and nuts.
This makes a fair bit of cookies so a lot of times I freeze half the dough by rolling it into a log on top of cling wrap, wrap and freeze. When you want more cookies, just slice and bake as directed.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Meal Plan April 23

Today is the first day back to school after spring break. If anything ever makes me contemplate homeschooling its this day. I miss my big sassy, little sas misses her, life is not as silly or unpredictable when she is gone.

This weeks menu is using 90% foods already in our home. Chicken was on crazy sale last week and so were a lot of other odds and ends. And since Mr.Sassy was shopping with me, we stocked up, he loves a good deal and doesn't feel like he fully takes advantage of it unless the pantry and freezer is full!

Has anyone made any whole food eating changes this month? I feel like a failure but am trying to bolster my spirits, the whole 30 did not go well for us. I blame Mr.Sassy, he always manages to talk me into dessert. FAIL, majorly on my part since my 2 worst eating times are after noon after big sassy is home from school and after the girls are in bed. I cannot resist Ben or Jerry, its just not possible. Thankfully it was not everyday only occasionally. I feel more involved in my choices though and I am definitely trying to make them consciously. If I am going to eat a dessert I want it to be the best, most delicious dessert. Not just an Oreo cookie, that is NOT worth it anymore.

This week I am trying Bulletproof Coffee for breakfast so we shall see how that goes. (check it out here) Its the big thing right now in primal eating and since I am looking for some change I'm all in. Today is so far so good, the girls had breakfast and I abstained and after dropping big sas at school I came home and whipped up my first batch. Since I usually add sugar to my coffee I did add in a bit of maple syrup and honey I probably always will. So breakfast today is bulletproof coffee for mommy, we shall see how this goes over. I am hoping to last through the week but if all doesn't go well I have no problem jumping ship. It tastes amazing so why not?

B-Sunny Eggs
L-Leftover tuna and sweet potatoes (quite the combo right?)
D-Pulled pork, Broccoli, pineapple coleslaw

B-Pizza Eggs (this is the girls new absolute favorite)
L-Pulled pork salad
D-BBQ roasted Chicken (bone in skin on), oven potato fries

B-Scrambled eggs and cheese
L-Leftovers and salad
D-Creamy Chicken and Ham Soup

B-Fried eggs
L-Leftovers and salad
D-Brats, BBQ carrots

B-Fried eggs
L-Leftovers and salad
D-Grilled chicken legs, some veggie (not really sure what yet)

B-Coconut Flour Pancakes
L-Leftovers and Salad
D-Steak, Potato and veggies

B-Crispy potatoes, veggies and eggs (skillet)
D-Mr. Sassy pick, sometimes I just have no creativity. Plus usually once a week we don't have whats planned and I have the extra fixings for a full meal.

Alright people, plan a meal this week. Maybe just plan a dinner or plan dinners for the whole week, even if that means you write it down on a napkin and plan in eating out, just DO IT. Make conscious decisions, over 1/3 of all food Americans buy is wasted. If you spend $200 a week on groceries that means every week you throw out $60 in food. It seems like a lot of work (it is) and a hassle (it is) but once you have all the things planned and the food bought it is such a relief to not have to worry every day about what to do.