Monday, December 21, 2009

The Doctor and Peanut Butter Pie

I went to the doctor today for my yearly appointment and let's just say I was less than thrilled to see the number on the scale. I am short--barely 5 feet tall and have never had a problem with my weight. If anything my problem was being underweight! Two weeks after I had Janelle I weighed in at 90 pounds! Right now I weigh more than my heaviest while pregnant! AHHH!! Scary!

You're probably wondering what this has to do with Peanut Butter Pie. I really don't know except that I made Peanut Butter Pie yesterday and was sitting here eating a piece (a much smaller piece than I would have had pre-evil scale), thinking about how I should NOT be eating it, and thinking that everyone should try this pie.

The first thing you need to do is to measure your peanut butter. I love this measuring cup. It's Pampered Chef. It's perfect because all you have to do is push the bottom and out it comes!

Next you cream the peanut butter with softened cream cheese and powdered sugar.

Add some Cool-Whip and you're almost done!
You can use a graham cracker crust or the chocolate cookie crust like I used. Now there are a lot of things I think are worth the time to make from scratch, but when it comes to a graham cracker crust I don't bother.
Fill the crust with the peanut butter filling and smooth it out. Now at this point you have some options. You can leave it plain, drizzle it with chocolate syrup or top it with chopped peanut butter cups.

I put peanut butter cups on this one. YUM! If you like peanut butter you will love this pie! How can something so simple be so delicious??

Smooth and Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

3/4 Cup creamy peanut butter

4 oz cream cheese (half a large pack)

1 1/4 confectioners sugar

1 (12 oz) container Cool Whip

1 9" prepared chocolate cookie crumb crust

In large bowl, mix together peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar. Then stir in Cool Whip. Beat until smooth and no lumps remain.
 Pour into pie crust and refrigerate for about 3 hours until pie is firm.


The other night at our West Valley Diabetes group party I was telling my friend Wendy how good Janelle's numbers had been over the last few days. As I spoke the words I knew I was jinxing myself.

Sure enough, yesterday her number went crazy high! I was out most of the day and Janelle was home with Daddy. When I got home I found out she was over 300 all day! (Insert bad word here). I was not very happy.

Then Janelle decided to call her grammy and invite herself over for a sleepover. So she packs her things and goes to my mom's house, who luckily just lives down the street. Before leaving she was corrected for 300 something.

Around 8:00 p.m. my mom calls and says they made chocolate chip cookies and Janelle wanted some. She checked herself. 467. &^%##$^!

I told my mom Janelle would need to come home. She needed a shot, she needed a site change and she would need to have her blood sugar checked multiple times during the night.

I was so mad! Not mad at anyone--just so mad at the situation. Mad that she couldn't even have a sleep over at her grandmother's house without diabetes getting in the way. Mad that I couldn't seem to get her numbers under control regardless of how much insulin she got. I even had to increase the maximum daily amount of insulin in her pump so that her basal would continue. Mad that I didn't know for sure what the problem was. Could be a bad site, could be bad insulin, could be the fact that she was at the beginning of a cold. That always seems to send her blood sugar through the roof.

A few hours later she finally came down to 187. I increased her basal and am hoping for the best.

So anyway, here I am at 3:30 a.m.-- awake. Thinking about diabetes. Rolling numbers over in my head and trying to think of what I need to change. Definitely not the first time diabetes has kept me awake thinking for hours. Definitely not the last.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tasty Traditions

The holidays are all about traditions. Pretty much every family has their own traditions. Many traditions revolve around food. I know so many of my family's traditions do.

One of my most favorite holiday traditions are these butter cookies. For as long as I can remember these cookies were a part of every single Christmas. I don't think there has been a year that we haven't made these. I can remember as a kid how exciting it was the day my mom pulled down the cookie shooter. I can still see the blue Styrofoam box it came in.

Some people call these Spritz cookies. We call them butter cookies. Whatever you call them, they are delicious. They are not exactly the easiest cookie to make. They are time consuming and the cookie press takes some getting used to. My mom used to make hundreds of these cookies and would fill tins with them to give our teachers as gifts. How she did that with three little kids underfoot without losing her mind is beyond me! But I'm grateful for her patience!

Now I love making these cookies every year. Making them with my kids brings me back to a happy place in my childhood.

To make these cookies you first have to cream 2 sticks of butter. The butter must be softened to room temperature which means letting it sit on the counter for a few hours. You can't soften it in the microwave because if it melts even the tiniest bit the dough will not be right. These are fussy cookies.

Once the butter is good and creamed you gradually add in 1/2 cup of sugar and beat it. Then you add in 1 egg and the secret ingredient...1 tsp. almond extract. This is what gives these cookies their distinct flavor! Evan is my little chef and loves to help me in the kitchen! Those are his hands on the beater :-).

After the eggs and extract are in you slowly begin to beat in the flour.
At this point you will need to turn off the beater and switch to a wooden spoon or a nice heavy spatula. I really like this one. It's from Pampered Chef and is perfect for the job!

Keep adding flour until you have added a total of 2 1/3 cups. The batter will be pretty stiff.

Once the dough is thoroughly mixed it's time to fill the cookie press. This one from Wilton is the best one I have tried (and I have tried many)! It costs $10 and you can pretty much get it anywhere. I got mine at WalMart.

The press comes with 12 different discs so you can make whatever shapes you want. For Christmas I like to stick to the cute little trees and the little flower looking things. I love red hots and those little flowers have a spot in the middle just made for a red hot!

If you have a kid hanging around you can have them sprinkle green sugar on your trees.

When they're ready, bake them at 350 for about 12 minutes. They should still be pretty pale. You really don't want them to brown.

Once they're done you can wrap them up in cute little boxes to give away as gifts or you can just eat them by the handful until they're gone like I do :-).

These cookies freeze really well which means you can make them a month or two in advance. They also keep for a long time and are great for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or dessert. I heart these little cookies!

Butter Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg 1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/3 cup flour

Cream butter. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and almond extract. Gradually blend in flour. Fill cookie press with dough. Form desired shapes on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Blanket for Annabel

Annabel Thelma is my little brother's second child. She was born on July 10, 2009, the day before my grandmother died. Her middle name was my grandma's first name.

Here is a blanket I made for Annabel for Christmas! I hope that it will become something she holds onto her entire life!

Friday, December 11, 2009

All Aboard!

Last weekend we went up North to the Polar Express. This was our second time going.

The Polar Express is in Williams, Arizona, just North of Flagstaff. It is run by the Grand Canyon Railway. During the holidays the train turns into the Polar Express. You can buy a package which includes a dinner buffet, tickets for the train, one night stay in the hotel and a breakfast buffet the next morning. It's a pretty good deal!

The train travels from Williams, AZ to "The North Pole". While heading to the North Pole you get to listen to the story of the Polar Express, drink hot chocolate and eat cookies and sing Christmas carols. Once the train reaches the North Pole the kids get a surprise visit from Santa Clause and each child gets a bell.

It is such a fun experience! Last year Janelle loved it. Evan, being only three and being...well....Evan made the trip a little stressful. This year was so much more enjoyable for everyone!

One of the highlights of going to the Polar Express is getting to see the snow. We don't get snow in Phoenix so it's a pretty fascinating sight to see! Since we have a had a very warm winter and hardly any rain it was really no surprise that there was no snow up North. I told Janelle that I was sorry there was no snow, because I knew she was disappointed. Her reply was "That's okay. Spending time with my family is all that matters". How did I get such a great kid??

Anyway, the next morning we woke up to see that it was snowing! In fact it was a full blown blizzard! We let the kids get in a little of their so desired play time and then decided to hit the road! Good thing because as the day went on the snow continued and we probably would have been stuck there had we waited much longer! I honestly do not know how people can deal with that kind of weather.

All in all it was a truly magical experience. For me being able to spend that time as a family is something I will always treasure!

I took TONS of pictures! These are just a select few!

He had to try out the bed as soon as we got in the room!

Evan being silly

This was Janelle's 3rd low about four hours into the trip

On the train!

Janelle is excited to see Santa!
Here he is!

The kids got their bells

Finally it snowed!!

Exhausted on the way home!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Recent Projects

Crocheting is one of my obsessions. Actually, to say I'm obsessed may be a slight understatement. I tend to get so involved with it that it causes me to neglect anything and everything else that may need my attention.

So it's no surprise that I decided to make most of the Christmas presents I'll be giving away this year. My plans became pretty ambitious and just three weeks away from Christmas I am feverishly working on all of my projects.

Pictured below is the Sponge Bob water bottle holder I plan to give to my daughter, Janelle. The photo of the Hello Kitty scarf is for my niece Olivia. I am also working on a dinosaur blanket for my dinosaur loving nephew, and a blanket for my other niece Anabelle. Besides that, I'm planning to make some scarves, some pot holders and a few pairs of slippers.

Wow, I better get back to work!

Hello Kitty scarf for Olivia

Sponge Bob water bottle holder

Friday, November 27, 2009

So Thankful!

The older I get the more I understand the importance of gratitude. I am thankful for so many things! To say it in a sentence, I am thankful that my life right now is exactly the way I always wanted it to be.

Yesterday, like many other families, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my holiday to host and I love it! For one thing, I'm pretty picky about food. To me, it's all about the traditions and I want the food to be exactly the same every year. No funky stuffing please, Stove Top will do just fine!

While I do the majority of the cooking, everyone brings something. We had turkey, ham, stuffing, corn casserole, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and the best mashed potatoes EVER! For dessert we had apple pie, pumpkin pie and two kinds of cookies. Everything was delicious!

In my opinion, one of the best things about the holidays is getting to be around people and forming life long traditions for my kids. My sister, brother and I each have two kids. Growing up there were six grandchildren. It's so great to see our kids running around playing with their cousins like we did.

All in all it was a great Thanksgiving. The only downfall was that Janelle wasn't feeling too great. Thanksgiving and diabetes don't mix! I think I waaaaay under dosed her dinner (either that or she had more cranberry sauce than I thought she did). About two hours after dinner she was over 400! Luckily she was easily corrected and down to 123 at bedtime.

I hope everyone had a happy and blessed Thanksgiving and here's to kicking off the holiday season!

My sister and I with Janelle

Some of the girls

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Smile a Day

This is my eighth year teaching 1st grade. Each year you get a whole new mix of kids. While you never know exactly what you are going to get, you can pretty much bet there will be a few "challenging" kiddos.

This year as expected, I have some challenges. I have one student in particular (I'll call him "M") who tries my patience daily. After the first meeting with this boy's father I realized that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

When the kids get out of school at the end of the day, sometimes someone is there to pick him up, but not always. On the days that no one is there to pick up M I take him to the office and try to call his dad. I usually can't get a hold of him and when I actually do get a hold of M's dad he doesn't care that he is late. He'll get there when he gets there. Some days picking up his son on time just isn't convenient.

M is very open and loves to tell stories about his family. I hear all about his father's gambling addiction and the fights between him and his girlfriend. I know more about that family than I want to know!

Even though M is a tough kid you can't help but to love him. He can't help the environment he is raised in or the fact that he knows and has seen things no 6 year old should. He is smart and I have seen the good in him many times!

This morning I picked my students up from the playground like I do every day. As we were walking to our classroom M came running up to me. He had a balloon animal (a green poodle to be exact) in his hand and he was grinning from ear to ear. He handed it to me and said "this is for you! My brother helped me make it." I loved it! And it must have been obvious to him because I don't think I've ever seen that boy smile so big. He just looked so happy.

It's moments like this that remind me of why I became a teacher. I love the moments that make me just stop and smile.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Carb Crazy!

Janelle was always a really picky eater. She'd eat the same things every day. This used to make life with diabetes pretty simple for us.

In preschool and kindergarten Janelle would eat a pre-measured baggie of cereal for breakfast and the same lunch every single day. Once she hit first grade she decided to be a little more adventurous and try a few of the cafeteria's hot lunches.

Now that Janelle is in second grade she wants nothing else but to be with her friends and to do what the other kids do. Which means eating breakfast in the cafeteria every day and only taking her lunch box a few times a week.

I have always tried to make sure that diabetes doesn't make Janelle feel different. At least any more different than necessary. I am so happy she is becoming more adventurous and willing to try different things, but boy does it make carb counting more difficult!

I have such a great situation in that I am a teacher at the school Janelle goes to. However, I am not able to be with her all the time and unfortunately do not see every bite of food she puts in her mouth. To make matters worse, she doesn't even always know what the food she ate is called, let alone how much of it she ate!

It's never long after breakfast or lunch when I catch up with her to find out what she ate and to give her a bolus. Sometimes when I ask her what she had I can't help but laugh at the response I get.

For example, how many carbs would you say are in "half of that round brown thing that's really good"? And how much would you count for "two bites of that brown stuff you make sometimes"? Every thing she eats is always "half" of something.

So I have to guess. A lot! Usually I do pretty good if I do say so myself. But other times I am way off. Oh well. I guess you take the good with the bad right?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bad D Day

We have had diabetes in our life for almost 5 years now. While I certainly don't like it, I have learned to live with it and to deal with all of it's ups and downs because what else can I do? It's not going anywhere.

Today Janelle woke up with a blood sugar of 463 and was clearly not feeling well. Great. This day has "potential disaster" written all over it.

I spent the entire day trying to bring down her blood sugar. It took until 2:30 pm to get it below 200 (179 to be exact).

At this point I was finally able to do a site change since my students were gone and my classroom was empty. In my rush to get the new site in, I must have forgotten to pull back the inset because when I placed it on her little tushie she screamed! More than the usual scream.

Yep. I had stuck the needle right in there. I'm such a bad D Mommy. I felt horrible, to say the least. So our spare site change was ruined. Had to disconnect until we got home. Blood sugar upon arrival at home = 269.

I hate diabetes today.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Noah's Ark

Of all the things I have crocheted in my life, the Noah's Ark blanket is probably one of my favorites!

One day while on (one of my favorite websites of all time), I saw this blanket. I loved it! Who wouldn't? It's adorable!

I found out where to get the pattern and ordered it, not knowing if I would even be able to make the darn thing! It looked pretty complicated.

The pattern came and it sat there for months until I finally got up the courage to give it a try. It was actually pretty easy!

The first one I made I gave to a friend for her baby shower. She was actually doing a Noah's Ark theme so it came in pretty handy! Then a couple weeks ago a friend of mine asked if she could buy one for her sister in law who is having a baby. So I got to make another one!

The blanket is actually pretty easy to make. It took me about a day and a half to do the blanket and about another 7 hours to make the animals and sew them on (the most tedious part of the whole thing).

So here is yet another blanket under my belt!

Almost there!
It's all done!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last Ditch Effort

Having this blog out there in blogger land and knowing that I'm doing nothing with it is driving me a little crazy!

I can't seem to keep up with it, yet I also can't seem to let it go!

Here are my reasons for not writing on a regular basis.

1. I have no time.
2. I suck at writing.
3. Do I really have anything interesting to say or stories to tell?
4. Is there really a point? Is anyone really reading it anyway (besides Wendy ;-P)?

So before I abandon ship I thought I'd give it one more try. But instead of trying to keep up this blog AND my other blog, which is dedicated to all things yarny, I am just going to manage this one and let the other one go.

This blog will consist of anything and everything I am passionate about. My family, my friends, crocheting, cooking and teaching.

So if you have been following my blog, thanks and stay tuned!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cake Ballin' With Ev

Lately any time I cook anything (which isn't often these days), Evan always has to be right there by my side to "help".

While I really just want to get it done, I know that it is important to let him help.

So yesterday we made
cake balls together. If you have never had cake balls before all you do is bake a cake (any flavor), let it cool and crumble it into a bowl. Then you mix in a can of frosting (any flavor), roll them into balls, chill and dip in melted dark or white chocolate.

People love them! I'm not a big fan of box cake mix or pre-made frosting so I have to say that I don't love cake balls. Yet I continue to make them each time thinking I will like them. Oh well. Tim likes them and Evan sure had fun helping to make them!

What The Blog??

Wow, it's been a while since my last blog. School must have started or something. :-).

For those of you who don't know, besides being a wife to the best husband in the world, and mom to the best kids in the world, I am also a 1st grade teacher.

School started on August 11th and it's been a rough start. I got to begin the year with 39 kids on my list! That's right, I said 39!! Luckily only 35 showed up. Ha! Lucky for who? Way too many kids! It was rough to say the least. These are six year olds!

Three weeks into the school year they decided to add another teacher. Since we were only allowed to add TWO teachers to the whole school they decided they would "try to get the most use out of them". So one of the teachers was put into a 1st/2nd combo and the other was a 5th/6th combo. So this means that a few kids would be taken from each of these grades and put into two new classrooms.

Let the shuffling begin. Teachers had no say over who would be chosen to go to the new classrooms. There was no real thought that went into it. Just get it done. Letters went home and it was done. All of the first grade classes went down to 26 but somehow I stayed at 30! OOPS! I decided to just let it be and be happy knowing I won't be getting any new kids for a while!

My class is interesting. I have a lot of really good, sweet kids.....who love to talk and talk and talk and talk. Could be because they're six. Could be because there are so many of them! Who knows.

Even though we are only four weeks into school the school "crud" has (and still is) already gone through my house! I'm sure it's just the first of many illnesses we will be faced with!

I am happy to report that Janelle LOVES 2nd grade and has had really good numbers so far. I am frequently reminded of how lucky I am to have her at school with me. Like when I forgot to change her site and her pump ran out of insulin in the middle of the day (Bad Mommy). Or on days like today when her site gets pulled out during P.E. Those for sure are potential disasters! Ones I am happy to be able to avoid!

So here is my first blog as a harried and tired mom/teacher. Hopefully there will be another one before Christmas!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Good Bye Grandma

If you have been following my blog you probably read my previous post about my grandmother.

I flew to Chicago to see her last Friday.  When I got there she was back in the hospital, after being home for two days.  She was on oxygen and only semi-conscious.  

She woke up when I got there and knew I was there.  She even yelled at me for coming!  Very typical for her.  Never wanted anyone to be inconvenienced!  

It was hard to see her there.  Barely able to move or even to talk.  It just wasn't her.  

The next morning I arrived at the hospital to find my grandma in even worse shape than she was the day before.  She was unconscious and her breathing was labored and loud.  The morphine was keeping her comfortable.  And keeping her from waking up.

Throughout the day her breathing had become less noticeable and about 3:45 p.m. it was clear that she was slipping away.  By 4:20 p.m. she was gone.  

I have never watched anyone die before, let alone someone so very close to me.  It was comforting that she wasn't in any obvious pain and was surrounded by her children, husband and two of her grandchildren.  

By the time she took her last breath it was clear that her soul had left her body.  

I believe that there is something after death.  The body is a shell for the soul to live inside.  I also strongly believe there is an after life.  I think my grandma was showing us her presence as soon as she passed.

After leaving the hospital my immediate family met up at my cousin's house in Highland Park, Il.  We were sitting around in his front yard talking about all our memories of Grandma when all of a sudden two deer appeared out of no where across the street.  The crossed the street and began grazing right there in the front yard about 20 feet away from where we were all sitting!  They were so calm and not at all fearful of all the people so close by.  My grandparents always called each other "Dear".  

This may very well have no significance whatsoever.  But I like to think that it was Grandma's way of showing us she is at peace....wherever she is.

The next day my grandfather mentioned he hadn't listened to the radio in weeks.  So he turned on the radio just as my grandma's favorite song was beginning.  Strange coincidence?  Maybe.  But I don't think so.

I came home from Chicago on Wednesday.  After getting home I locked my car and didn't drive it for the rest of the day.  The next morning when I got to my car to leave I saw that all four windows were down.  Not all the way, a little less than half, but all at exactly the same level.  

I immediately called Tim to see if he had done that to my windows.  He didn't.  My car was locked.  My windows are electric.  You have to put the key in the ignition to put the windows down.  There is no explanation.

Before I left Chicago I took a house coat that belonged to my grandmother.  I remember her wearing it all the time.  I sealed it in a ziplock bag so that it won't lose her special smell.  

I miss her so much and always will.  My life will always be blessed with her memory!