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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Whitney Doing Better and Dad's Doc, and GoWise Electric Pressure Cooker

I am soooo happy to report that our little Whitney is finally producing her own blood platelets!   We are soooo thrilled and thankful and relieved.  Her little body is gaining weight and she seems to have kicked into normal operation for an almost-three-week-old baby.

Here she is all dolled up for going about town:

Friday afternoon, Steve and I drove up to help Dad with his new doc appt.  He seems to be happy with the local doc we hooked him up with. She is a native Yooper, from our old hometown of Iron River, MI.  She knew a lot of the same people and made Dad feel totally at ease.  (he also tried to ask her out on a date!) 

After an hour and half of going over his records, patiently talking about his upcoming care needs, and explaining his health situation, she only had to cut the appointment short because someone came in needing a gash stitched up.  LOL  Otherwise I think he would have kept her for another hour or two!  

From there we stopped at the store and got all the things he needed at home on his list, including cat food and kitty litter for his cantankerous old cat Isaiah.  Grumpy Cat ain't got nuttin on him! 

It's a 250 mile round trip journey for us, but well worth it to get him settled into his local medical clinic and doc nearby.  On Tuesday I will go back up as we meet with the county staff for setting up hospice and other services available in his area. 

I am hoping on the way back home to stop in for a snuggle and cuddle with little Whitney, and hug my big boy Jameson too. 

We woke up this morning to thunder, lightening, and downpours of rain! Can't see it in the pic, but it was pouring out and making such noise as the rain beat down.  That's okay, now I don't have to water my tomatoes! 

It was cozy and dry in our front porch, as we sipped our coffee and started to figure out what we wanted to do today.  The doggers were curled up next to me and not shuddering or shaking during the storm.  That is good.  Our old collie Ducky use to chatter her teeth and drool so bad during storms.... 

Soon the rain stopped and the sun poked out for about half an hour.  Now it clouded back up and seems to be a dismal morning after all.

I had picked a whole big bowl of my homegrown tomatoes yesterday, and wanted to try out something new to me.  A few weeks ago I bought a GoWise electric pressure cooker.  I have seen the infomercials on tv about using an electric pressure cooker.. and decided I wanted one.  I have cooked with a stove top pressure cooker for years and years.  The more I researched, the more I learned.  I decided that I didn't want the one offered on tv, nor the ones available in the stores locally. They all had teflon interiors.  Reviews say they peel and chip over time. I decided on the GoWise because it's stainless steel, and also was 8 quart instead of 5 or 6 quart.  

I ordered mine from Amazon, on sale from list price of $235.99 down to $99.00 with free shipping.  This week they are up to $109.99  Amazon's Go Wise 8 qt Electric Pressure Cooker

Some sources say you can't do canning in the electric pressure cookers, and others say you can do vegetables, but not meats. (I never do canning of meats anyhow)  I decided to try a couple quarts of tomatoes... it will fit four jars at a time in the future, but I only did two quarts to test it out. 

Wow.... 15 minutes of pressure and then 
5 minutes to let it depressurize 
and they were done!  

 The ones on the left are Better Boy tomatoes 
and the ones on the right are a blend of golden and red heirloom tomatoes. 

It sure beats fighting the heat and humidity of filling up a big 22 quart stove top canning kettle that has to run on two burners.... and waiting for the water to heat up and then hefting it over to the sink to dump it out later.  Also, I have a flat glass top electric stove and have been told a canning kettle riding over two burners can crack the glass! I have been lucky so far, but wanted to try something different. 

This electric pressure cooker only takes 5 quarts of cold water, and I just set in the cold jars and close the lid. 

I like the option of just doing a few jars at a time.... and not having to wait until I have enough ripe tomatoes for 7 jars at once to make it worth my while to haul out my big hot water bath stove top canning kettle. 

I think what I liked best about this electric pressure cooker is that I can set it and forget about tending it. I can walk away and be doing something else in the house, and not worry about something boiling over or not hot enough. I don't have to watch it or keep controlling the stove top burner to keep the pressure up at a set level.    This machine does that for me.

Here is the pretty stainless interior, and the center pot lifts out for cleaning.  The first thing I made was a frozen big lump of roast beef.  Threw it in totally frozen solid with some water, some steak sauce and slices of onion.  15 minutes, let off the pressure, add chunks of raw taters and carrots, close it up again. I set it for 45 more minutes like a normal roast beef recipe for pressure cookers. 70 minutes total from freezer to table.. perfectly done to fall apart tenderness. ahhhhhhhh

The next few meals I tried were boneless roast turkey breast, using the rack in the middle and chicken broth in the bottom.  Perfect!   How about a Beef Minestrone soup mix from Bear Creek with chunks of tenderloin steak and extra bowtie noodles and more veggies.  Yummmmmm can you taste it from the pic?

almost forgot to mention this one...

jasmine white rice steamed 8 min from start to finish
 rinse rice first and it comes fluffy and not sticky~ 

Well, it's noon now....


(Sure, it's only pre-season, but it IS football!) 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Trying to Do Normal Stuff - Pendant Lights in Kitchen

We are holding our breath until the next reports on baby Whitney.  She has an appt. on Friday with a pediatric hematologist.  All prayers and good wishes are greatly appreciated.  Our sweet little tyke.

Also, on Friday we have to bring my Dad to his local doc 120 miles away, to set up his care plan and hospice etc. details.  Friday is going  to be a very, very long day! He is doing well and taking care of himself just fine since our older brother brought him back to his home on Saturday.

In the meantime, I have been sick as a dog for three days and have been barely able to get from the bedroom to the bathroom and back.  Danged virus of some sorts I must have picked up at one of the hospitals. Wore me right down to nothing, I tell ya. I am just coming out of the fog today.

On Sunday, Steveio decided to start on a project in our kitchen of "Our Old House" ....  trying to do "Normal Stuff" and keep himself occupied.  I was miserable laid up in bed, so he worked as quietly as he could.

Here is what he was doing:

Two years ago we bought some large stained glass leaded light fixtures for 2 endtable lamps and 1 to put on the ceiling fan in our livingroom.  We really liked them....

Since then, the local Menards store added some other new sizes of fixtures to that same line of lights from Patriot Lighting called "Belle".  Patriot Lights - Belle lead glass fixtures    We bought two pendant lights for over our island and one extra to rob just the shade from it for the existing fixture over the kitchen sink.  That was easy to replace that one, just the shade.

Now for over the island, that is a different story.

Off center in the kitchen over the island is a big huge ceiling fan that was here when we bought the house. We realized over time, that we never used that ceiling fan in the kitchen. The lights were not bright enough for cooking or food prep tasks down on the island. It wasn't even lined up over the center of the island, it was off to one side and not really helpful.  When we bought the house, we added the cabinets and the island... and also moved the fridge and stove from the pantry room back into the main kitchen area.  

It's a nice Hunter fan, but it took up a lot of space and wasn't being used. 

Steve shut off the power and removed that fan easily.  This is an old pic on the left of the big fan that was in the kitchen.  He took it down SO FAST that I didn't get a chance to get a "Before" photo. I heard the power go out and wandered down from my bed to see what he was up to.

Next up was the careful measuring to mount both pendant lights so they line up over the island, and run the wiring in between hidden behind a trim strip. He also had to do some tricky re-wiring because the existing power switch is over on the far wall, hidden behind the refrigerator.

As long as we were using the ceiling fan, we had a remote control for operating the lights on it and had the remote mounted on a bracket over by the entrance door.  Now without the fan, we had to do some fiddling around.  He got new wires run to an easier access spot, and added a dimmer switch feature too!

So using the original spot for one pendant, he mounted the other pendant an equal distance on the other end of the island.  Look at the mess he makes when doing projects without me around cleaning up after him!

(left: this is before he got the trim strip painted -----  right: here they are lit up) 

It sure makes the kitchen feel bigger with just two task lights hanging down instead of the big ceiling fan.  I put halogen light bulbs in each one that really shine down nicely on the work area.  I like the look of the old fashioned leaded glass style. With a dimmer, I can control the amount of illumination, but each fixture is rated for 100 watts.

Now.. what to do with that nice big Hunter fan???

My loom room had a pretty ugly old ceiling fan in it from when we first moved in, it had originally been in our bedroom.   It actually had fake wicker bamboo woven panels facing down that we had turned upwards and I restained the blades to match the woodwork. I also painted the dated brass main housing with brown hammered spray paint.  It was okay for the last two years.  

We took that one down and set it by the road with a sign that said: "FREE - YES, IT WORKS"  and it was gone in 10 minutes! 

We took the nicer Hunter ceiling fan that had been in the kitchen and put it in that space in my loom room!   We added another leaded glass shade to the base of it instead of the dated individual lights that were on it.  Have you noticed in the home improvement stores almost all of the fans now have a large bowl type light fixture instead of the little individual ones?  So now I guess we are "modern"  but still old fashioned looking?

There--- much better! 

So, that is what we were trying to keep ourselves busy with...  Steve has been working, and lawn cutting, weed pulling, dog walking and anything else that we can do to keep our minds from wandering.  Our thoughts travel up to a wee 2 week old grandchild who needs to get her blood platelets functioning.  Then to help a 78 year old man transition to his cancer situation.   I am not good to either one when I am sick too.  Soooo back to bed I go. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Update on our baby Whitney and also on Dad

Well, our little grandbaby Whitney is holding her own.  Her visits to the doc are plentiful, and I am trying to go along with as many as I can to help our daughter Heather.

Whitney is gaining weight, but needs to gain more.  She isn't yet developing her own blood platletes, but will be going back again on Friday for more testing. All good thoughts, prayers and well wishes are welcomed for our sweet little gal.

We love her sooo much! 

As for my dad, while we were waiting for some tests on Friday, our nephew and his fiance stopped by with their two children for a visit.  Sometimes you just need a little laugh at times like this.... so we made a little movie clip in the hospital room:

We sprung Dad from the hospital on Saturday.  Once the doc mentioned discharge, he just about FLEW outta the bed, asking me to get his clothes!   Well, his IV was still attached and he had to wait for the paperwork to properly release him.

Once we got outside where he could breathe and walk and stretch, it was like letting an animal out of cage.  A smile was back on his face!  Just look at that smile!  (please, don't look at the worry on my face)

Our oldest brother brought him home to his snug little cabin in the woods. We helped him build this over 30 years ago, and this is where he wants to be. Who can blame him?

He got all settled in and my brother cut the grass and did some odd jobs around the place for him.  Then on Sunday our youngest brother, my sister and her husband (a cancer survivor himself) all went to visit and hang out and help with some projects.

They kept him occupied and he was happy to have company.  
I think this is a very good pic of my sister and my dad.....  

His phone was ringing off the hook of course, and he was glad to have contact with people now that he was sprung from the hospital.  I hope people keep contacting him to keep his spirits up.  No time frame, just knowing he will be home where he wants to be is good for him.

Steve and I will be going up on Friday to get him set up with his local doc and I am transferring all his hospital record stuff from the tests that were done (so he don't have to go through them all again)   Next week we meet with the county gal with info on hospice and other services available in the region.  She was so nice and helpful on the phone, and had a lot of information to give.

The bugger of it all is that I must have picked up a flu bug or virus at the hospital myself.  I am down and out here with fever, chills etc. and not doing so hot.  Today, I was supposed to pick up grandtots Allegra and Mason for an overnight visit, but I had to cancel, sadly.  I hate disappointing my wee ones....  I spent the day in bed, and this evening is the first I have wandered down to the couch and opened the laptop up. I think I am going back to bed....

If Grandma ain't doing good,
 she can't do good for others now,
 can she?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sadly, the Big C strikes again

Our family has another encounter with the Big C... yes cancer.

My father has been ill for a while, and is suffering stomach problems even more severely as of late. He was thinking his appendix burst.... Thursday night he was in such pain, two of my brothers finally convinced him to contact 911 and get an ambulance ride.  (we all live 70-120 miles away)

After a long ambulance ride first to one local hospital, they did an MRI and sent him on via ambulance to a larger hospital in Green Bay.  We knew it wasn't good.

Our youngest brother took off in the middle of the night to drive down from Michigan to be there and find out what was what. He had to drive first to one hospital and then to the other one to track down where the ambulance drivers took our Dad.  He was up all night dealing with our Dad once he found him.  He is our hero! Our Dad can be rather "cantankerous" and our brothers handle him better than us sisters.

By 6 am I headed out to drive up to Green Bay and see what was next.  By noon the oldest brother made it after his night job, and was there in time to meet with the docs. Our sister who runs their own business was standing by on the phone waiting for all updates and giving moral support.  We tried to reach out to the last brother, but, oh well. It is what it is. 

After more tests, CT scans, scoping and conferring with docs, it has been determined that cancer has invaded his bladder, both kidneys, and one of his lungs.  He had a very nice doc who spelled it all out in plain language and didn't hold anything back. He could tell that Dad was a "give it to me straight" kind of guy, and could see that us siblings were allowing Dad to make his own choices and come to terms with the diagnosis.  We were back and forth on the phone with our sister, thank God for cell phones and texts and instant contact devices.

The nephew that lives closest also came by to lend support and bring some sunshine with his fiance and two little boys.  Sometimes you need a good smile at times like this.  Thank you Matt & Amanda, and Colin and little Matt.

Decisions were made today and he was given all the options of treatment. He is able to make his own choices and all of the siblings in contact agree with his choice.

He has chosen to go home and live out his time there.  

Hospice will be contacted and arrangements made to get him some help at home. He wants to be home with his cat, his coffee maker, his garage, in his log cabin in the woods.  He built it himself 30 years ago with the help of us kids. That is where he wants to be.

In between all of this, I left the one hospital to run over to the other hospital on the other side of town to help with our newest granddaughter Whitney. She had lab work done and I helped with her big brother Jameson while they were in with the doc.  Her blood platelets have not increased and she is being watched carefully and goes back again on Monday for more tests.  Then I ran back to the first hospital for dad.  And back again this morning. Our oldest brother took over now and gave us a break.  We came home and took a three hour nap this afternoon.

This is gonna be a tough time for our whole family.

Please keep our family in your prayers and thoughts??

Saturday, August 8, 2015

BABY GOES HOME~!!! and CampHosting at High Cliff State Park

Wheeeheeee!  Littlest grandtot Whitney Wonder Wade has stabilized and was released from the NICU after five days.  Thank you everyone for your prayers, good wishes and kind thoughts.

Our daughter Heather and husband Jesse have been staying in the top floor "hotel" rooms at the hospital to be close to her while in the NICU.  Aurora in Green Bay has a wonderful set-up for the new parents to stay upstairs nearby while their children are hospitalized.

I got to spend some time with her in the NICU too... which is a wonderful opportunity to get in good doses of "Grandmuddah Love"  and snuggles and songs.

Her blood sugar, blood platelets and jaundice are all under control and will be watched like a hawk.  But the greatest news is that the little tyke gets to GO HOME!!!  Now she can finally meet her big brother Jameson, who was not allowed in the NICU. Here she is all dolled up and ready to roll----

My heart is so full of joy and love for this tiny little being... and knowing she will grow and gain strength, health and vitality now under the good care of her parents.  Be well, my little Whitney!

In the midst of all this new grandbaby crisis, we were also doing our stint as camphosts.  We volunteer at High Cliff State Park, doing our camphosting gig for the month of August.  Our campsite is free, along with electric and water, for the month, with doing 20 hours total work a week between us.  The value of the campsite is now over $860 a month, so that is a pretty good bargain.

I drove our rig out to the park on Aug 1, and we got all settled into our hosting campsite. Steve also works at the park M-F full time as the Facilities Maintenance Supervisor Advanced position, so we did this at the end of his 4pm shift. He didn't even have to drive home to Chilton after work!  What a commute!

Since we have done camphosting for a couple years now, we already know the drill and just sign the new camphost volunteer agreements. If it's the first time, hosts are asked to go through training, doing certification on driving the John Deere Gator, and doing a background check.  Hosts are supplied with vests, weather radio, cell phone, literature and a first aid kit.

Steve also holds the position of Camphost Coordinator and I assist as a volunteer.  We gather applications, select each year's hosts, and conduct an orientation and training each spring.  It's a good way to give back to the parks, because without the hosts, there are such limited man-hours in the park budget to do the things that the hosts help with.  The main task of our hosts is being at the campsite and giving out information.  Being a "Park Ambassador" as we call it!

If we are away from our campsite, Steve erected this nice kiosk with information right by the camphost site.  Centrally located for the patrons to find out what is going on in the park.

We also clean the firepits in 112 campsites, and 8 group campsites, as needed, plus clean up the grills in the picnic areas. We pick up trash wherever we see it. We use the term "If you SEE it, you OWN it" and pick it up. 

Unlike other camphost positions in other places, our job does NOT include bathroom cleaning, collecting fees, selling firewood or confronting unruly guests.  That is all taken care of by park staff and rangers. It's a pretty nice gig! 

Our dogs are welcome hosts too, as they are well-behaved and are quiet on the campsite.  We often walk around the park just to meet-n-greet with folks, and our dogs are easy ice-breakers.  Everyone wants to pet the "Little Lassies"  and it's good for their socialization skills too, especially rescue dog Binney who needs all the interaction she can get. 

While we were hosting this past week, we also had a couple grandtots come to join us!  Our oldest daughter had an out-of-state work conference, so we gave our son-in-law a break for a few days and took the kids to the campground. Chelsea is 5 and Clayton is 3, just the right age to enjoy camping with their grandparents.

Of course, we put them to work too!  They LOVE to carry around the trash picking pincher sticks looking for "GARBICH" as they call it.  

Chelsea announced all on her own, from her own little mind, that we are quote "Helping The Earth" to pick up the trash. awwwwwwww....  so proud. A Little Conservationist in the making.   

Because they are not allowed in the Gator, we found another alternative to helping us clean the campfire pits.  We used our red Radio Flyer wagon and a couple buckets and a shovel.  They eagerly went to work with us, helping along the way.  We could only do a few firepits at a time, with the limited bucket space, but we managed.  

Also, little Chelsea was cussing out the
 "bad people"
 who throw their
all over the park!   

Having grandtots along is a great help with the raccoon problem.  Non-aware campers leave their trash out at night, and the coons drag it off into the woods.  Having small people around means us sending them into the underbrush to clamp on and retrieve the trash that dragged away! LOL 

On Thursday, we had several camphosting applicants contact us, of which two couples were wishing to come and "try out" camphosting each for a week stint, in preparation of committing to a full month for the year of 2016.  Being flexible, we decided that we could toss our things into the rig, get road-worthy, and let one couple take over the host site.  The other couple will then take it over on the 20th. They completed the interview process with Steve and the park superintendent, and got some training and information and equipment. 

Since we were pretty busy with various grandtot situations, it was a good thing to let them take over and learn about hosting for a short period.  (Understandably, I have been on edge and not sleeping well and running back and forth to Green Bay several times a day anyhow) ...

If things change, we can just toss our things back in the motorhome and head back out to the park again if need be. 

Although we do stock our motorhome with dog toys and grandtot toys, little Chelsea and Clayton were happy to come to our house and play with the grandtot toys here, and the dogs were happy to be back home and playing with their house doggie toys too!  

They used the little red wagon to help unload the motorhome with trips back and forth to the house and really were good transporters!  Our own private moving crew.  Hey, child labor laws don't apply when they are family members.  LOL

On Friday morning it was time for them to go back home... and our poor doggies are just LOST without "Those Childrenz" to cuddle and play with.  

I went upstairs to get something in the afternoon, and found both of them waiting in the bedroom we have set aside for the grandtot visits.... waiting... waiting...  

I guess, I am waiting too! 
In two weeks it's grandtots Allegra and Mason's turn!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Our Sweet Little New Granddaughter Whitney Sure Gave Us a Scare!

OH my ... .we have been UP and then DOWN ... then whirling in circles!

On Sunday night, our youngest daughter Heather and husband Jesse trekked on down to the hospital in the middle of the night to have our darling granddaughter!  Yes, little Whitney Wonder Wade was born at 4:46 a.m. on Monday,  5 pounds 8 ounces and 18.5 inches long.  Such a darling little tiny tot.... (and a happy momma and exhausted daddy)

Within a few hours, grandfaddah and grandmuddah Pfun were on the way to meet with her... awwww

We spent a few delightful hours enjoying the sweet baby, while exhausted Jesse slept in the background.  This new mommy looks so happy and proud.

We had the chance to cuddle and snuggle her.  
While Mommy ate breakfast, this grandmuddah got to do the magic of rocking her to sleep,
 and holding her close and loving her.

Soon though, things changed. 
We had no idea what kind of rollercoaster 
we were embarking on just a few hours later!  

The wee one had some issues, and off she was whisked to the NICU!!!

Her blood sugar levels were way off,
 then her hemoglobin platlettes were way off,
and soon our little wee angel was having a transfusion! 

I rushed back to the hospital to a whole different scene.
I close my eyes and can still see in my scared frantic head the 
image on her tiny body with all those tubes and hoses and sensors! 

She was having the best of care,
in the best neonatal unit in the area.

With the grandmotherly love that Jesse's mom, Lisa, and I poured over her in the NICU was warming and amazing.  Each time we spoke, her heart rate would jump up a few beats. Each time her mommy touched her, she would respond.  We gave her all we could. We touched her feet and caressed her arms.  We had the nurse adjust an IV line tape.  We soothed her and fawned over her.  She looked so helpless and tiny.  It was breaking our hearts.

On the upside, she was nursing well, and Heather was miraculously able to start getting milk within a few hours of giving birth, on top of colestrum she already pumped out that they were feeding her via syringe.  Heather is such a trooper, listening to the nurses and docs, and doing all she can.  Having nursed Jameson 7 years before, she was an old hand at this!  

Whitney's immature little system was rallying, and her parents' love is strong. All the tests and docs and nurses and care --- in and out of the NICU to help our sweet angel Whitney to get through this.  The strain and pressure in our hearts was immense, and prayers from family and friends flooded in. 

It has been a rollercoaster over the last 36 hours, but she turned the corner.  The blood sugar spikes and drops have leveled out. She underwent a blood transfusion, The platelettes went from only 13,000 up to 98,000. She had an ultrasound to ensure there wasn't any internal bleeding from the delivery and that showed everything would be okay. She will be released from the NICU in the next day or two.  

I could finally breathe.  I got the weight off my chest, and I can see ahead for many wonderful years with our darling little Whitney added to our tribe of grandbabies. 

Please welcome Little Miss 
Whitney Wonder Wade