Saturday, December 23, 2006

Aching Bones or Kidney Stones?

It's been nine years since that strange onset of my arthritis symptoms. It's hard to believe it was so long ago. It has changed so much of my life and it has taken on many different characteristics. Since I got pregnant with Kennedy it has never been as bad. However, with each child there has been a period of bad health after the pregnancy.
A few months ago something happened in my neck and I was not able to lift my chin off my chest. It took a good week for this problem to heal. I think it was more than likely a pulled muscle triggered by strain and stress from picking up my bouncing baby boy but I personally think that the root problem is my arthritis.
Several weeks ago something happened in my SI joint (lower back, towards the pelvis). I was fine until I took my kids for a walk, then we played outside and when Chris got home from work we went inside and that's when it started to feel bad. After we got the kids fed and in bed I thought that maybe some walking would help loosen things up so I went to the mall to do some shopping. I only went to two stores because by the time I did the walking and had two packages in my hands I could hardly walk. I barely made it back to my car. I went home and Chris helped me to bed.
This pain continued for a few days. I couldn't lift my right leg to put on my pants. Each morning when Tristan woke up I had to have Chris go in and get him because I couldn't lift him out of the crib.
In the meantime Chris was able to move my rheumatology appointment in March up to the following Tuesday. By the time I got in to see the doctor, however, my pain was gone. The doctor sent me to get some blood work and x-rays to see what the problem was.
I received a letter from my rheumatologist the other day and this is what it said:
"The x-rays of your neck and back were essentially unremarkable other than some calcific densities in your abdominal area which the radiologist felt could represent kidney stones. There was nothing in either the neck or the lumbar area or sacrum to suggest evolving spondylarthritis."
I was relieved to know that my spine wasn't fusing together but the thought of kidney stones baffles me. I don't know what happened in my back but I'm pretty sure it wasn't kidney stones. I haven't decided yet if I will have the CT scan done to find out.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Art of Buying an Easel

Chris and I have debated for several weeks over what to get Kennedy for Christmas. She just had a very productive birthday party and doesn't really need another toy with a lot of parts. She is really starting to show more interest in art so we thought a floor easel would be a good thing for her. I did a little research on the Internet before I went to Target and was surprised to find an easel for $20. Most of the easels I saw on the Internet were similar. All had a chalk surface, dry erase board, paper and a tray. They were 3-4 times more expensive than the one I saw at Target, however. I didn't want to waste a lot of time going all over Durham to find an easel and since this was inexpensive, I bought it.

After I got the easel home I realized that it didn't come with a roll of paper so that was on my list of things to get since Santa couldn't very well bring an art easel with paint and colored pencils and no paper to draw on.

Yesterday I had an unexpected moment to do a little shopping. My neighbors offered to take Kennedy to see Charlotte's Web. I packed Tristan in the car and headed to Wal-Mart where I was sure they would have a roll of paper. Well I was wrong! The craft store Michael's was next door so I went there next. Strike two. Office Max was just across the way. I knew it was a long shot but I thought I would try anyway. Again, no roll of paper.

By this time Tristan was getting pretty tired but since another craft store, AC Moore, was just around the corner I thought I would swing by there on my way home. On the way there I passed a toy store called Learning Express. Outside on display was a cute little art easel. I stopped the car, parked and went inside. I checked out the easel. It was clearly better quality than the one I picked up at Target. It was made of real wood and just looked sturdier. I bought the roll of paper and thought about that easel all the way home.

When I got home I called Chris at work and told him I was successful in finding a roll of paper for the art easel and told him my newly-found disappointment in the Target easel. He told me I could go back and get the other easel, which was more than twice as much as the Target easel, as long as I used my birthday money to make up the difference. It didn't take me long to say YES! I've been burned more than once by settling for the cheap toy. I have made a decision that buying quality toys, in most cases, is worth the extra money.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Birthday

I don't know if it's because my birthday is in December or if it's just that I'm getting older but every year my birthday seems more and more like any other day. As a kid I always felt so special on my birthday. I was always recognized at home, school and church by family, friends and teachers. I tried explaining to my three-year-old that "today is Mommy's birthday." She just gave me a blank stare.
Luckily my quilting friends were up to throwing a little celebration for me the night before at our quilting gathering. We had yummy food and a delicious cake from Mad Hatter's. I think it was something like a Cherries Jubilee cake. Our mission is to make our way through the list of cakes at this bakery. I don't think I have ever disliked a cake from there. Unfortunately, as I had been battling a virus all week I wasn't able to enjoy the food and fun as much as I would have if I could have been able to breathe.
My actual birthday was Thursday the 14th. I started the day off by teaching preschool. Then in the afternoon Chris and I went to a restaurant at the mall to meet with a financial planner. That evening we were invited to a friend's home in Hillsboro for dinner. Our friend lives in a neighborhood we have considered buying a home in. They had a son Kennedy's age and a daughter just a few years older. They made fajitas on the grill as well as some yummy baby back ribs. I took the dessert, chocolate trifle. This time I added chopped-up Peppermint Patties instead of the usual Skor toffee to make it a little more festive. We had a really good time.
All in all my birthday was a busy day. Chris told me "happy birthday" many times throughout the day including at 3:20 a.m. as we were listening to Tristan cry in his crib (I was born at 3:20 a.m.). I did have a phone call from my parents that night and heard from all my siblings in the days to follow.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


I love to bake, especially cookies. Most of the time I make some kind of chocolate chip recipe since that is Chris's favorite. I try to have cookies it the freezer for him to take to work for lunch. Sometimes I have occasion to make a different kind though.
Last Saturday I hosted a cookie exchange at my house. The first time I had heard of a cookie exchange was when I lived in Denver. My friend Liz talked me into hosting one there. It was a lot of fun. The idea is that the guests bring a certain amount of cookies and leave with many different kind. I like to put them on plates or in bags and take them to neighbors and friends who weren't at the party.

This year I had seven friends show up to exchange goodies. All the cookies were homemade and there many wonderful kinds. We had chocolate-dipped shortbread, carrot cake cookies, chocolate mint, meltaways, soft gingersnaps, pumpkin chocolate chip, mock turtle cookies, and eggnog cookies. I made the eggnog cookies. The recipe is from the Chinaberry Cookbook. We had peach nectar punch and crackers and a cream cream cheese kind of dip for an appetizer and creamy chicken noodle soup, minestrone and rolls for lunch. We ate on my China and talked about our kids, Christmas traditions, and baking. It was a lovely party. I am really glad my friends made the effort to come. It's a busy time of year but it's nice to just come and relax for a few hours and do something for ourselves.

Here is the recipe for the Eggnog Cookies:
Eggnog Cookies
1 cup soft butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp rum extract
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
Rum Frosting
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add extracts, then egg and mix well. Combine flour, nutmeg and salt and gradually add to the butter mixture, blending well. Chill at least one hour. Allowing about 1 Tbs of dough for each cookie, shape into balls and bake 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Cookies should not be browned. Cool before frosting with Rum Frosting.
Rum Frosting:
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 Tbs milk
1 tsp rum extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Cream butter, add extracts and mix well. Add sugar gradually, then add milk and mix to spreading consistency.

I like these cookies because they have a nice flavor but not overpowering. Enjoy!