Monday, July 27, 2009

Please Pray....NOW!

I don't normally do this, but I am asking that you all please pray for this little boy. Stellan has really been through it, and so is his family. Things are not looking good at all. I hope that the rest of his family can make it to be with him. I REALLY hope that he pulls out of this, but it is not looking good. If ever you wondered what Lil Man went through when he was crashing, take a look at Stellan. I know exactly how she is feeling. The only difference is that they are actually letting her hold him. Hopefully, that MAKES a difference to Stellan. His little body can't take much more.

Prayers for Stellan

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicago trip - Part I

WOW! What a week. We feel like we were gone two weeks instead of two days. We did a lot in those two days.

Monday, his appointment with Dr. Suskind, ENT, was at nine in the morning. This meant that we had to leave home by 5. You never know what you are going to run in to with Chicago traffic. That also meant that Mommy didn't get any sleep, and Daddy got very little. We made the trip in 2 hours, and were almost 2 hours early for his appointment. THAT never happens. :)

We first saw the Resident, who cleaned out Lil Man's ears. Other than being full of hard wax, they looked pretty good. His one tube is still in the ear drum, so they didn't pull it out. The other came out the last time. He did NOT like getting his ears cleaned out. They put him in a papoose, which he does actually like. But mean Mommy had to hold his head still so they could clean him out. Not good.

Then he had his hearing tests. He passed easily in the ear with the tube and missed passing by 1% in the ear without. This is a HUGE improvement, though, almost double from last time. We are very happy. Dr. Suskind said that she has no doubts that he is actually hearing fine in the one ear. She said it is the one with the crooked ear canal, and the are very tiny. It is just hard to get a good reading more than anything. Daddy took him into the sound proof booth for the other test. He was more interested in flirting with the girl that was in there with them than responding to the test the way he should. He was trying to reach out and touch her hair. LOL! She had really long, black, shiny hair. Here is a picture of Lil Man getting the first hearing test done. He was enthralled with Barney.

We then talked to Dr. Suskind again. She wants to see him back in 6 months to check that tube, and decide then if we are going to put another set in. She also referred us to her speech therapist, Dana SusMAN. W have met with her before and really liked her, but it has been at least 2 years, maybe 3. Dr. Suskind looked at the stuff going on in Lil Man's nose - it has a HUGE scab every morning that completely blocks his airway there. She said that he has cellulitis and that we need to watch it very carefully. I just hope that it doesn't a. spread, or b. leave a huge scar. Luckily, the fix was bactroban cream. I think we own stock in this stuff. We use it for his G-tube site when it gets icky, so we didn't have to buy anything new.

After this, we headed south again to our hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Monee, IL. I TOTALLY recommend it if you have to stay up north. The rooms were soooooooo clean! They let us check in early and we lugged all of our stuff up to our room. We got everything set up so we didn't have too much to do when we got back that evening. The room had a King size bed, a fridge, microwave, coffee pot, couch. Really nice. Wireless Internet and breakfast was provided. We didn't end up using either. LOL!

Then we headed back into Chicago. FYI, for those who decide they want to visit Lincoln Park Zoo or any of the attractions close to there - DO NOT follow Mapquest/Google directions. Head on over to Lake Shore Drive and go in from that way. We spent almost 2 hours in traffic on the Stevenson to go to a couple of blocks over from where we just came from!!!! That really put a time crunch on our day. Up to then we were running early or right on time on our agenda.

After we circled the block a few times to figure out where the parking lot was, we hit the Chicago History Museum first. This isn't a huge museum, and there aren't a LOT of exhibits. The ones they have are done really well. They are all very interesting. Very kid friendly, but not a lot of the interactive stuff throughout the museum. There is a separate exhibit for kids to experience Chicago with their 5 senses. This is where we got the picture of Sr riding the big, old bike. I was really interested in seeing the Abraham Lincoln exhibits that were touted. They weren't bad, but they weren't THAT impressive either. If you are looking for Abe Lincoln stuff - go to Springfield. Sr is into the World's Fair in 18??. There was a good amount of interesting stuff on this and the Chicago Fire. We were able to get through the entire museum and the gift shop in about 2 hours. It really wasn't that busy, although a group of kids came in just as we were leaving. All in all not bad - for free. Mondays are frre and you can go to the website to see other days that they have for free. Here is a little slidshow of some of the interesting things in the museum. The diorama's of Chicago are really neat!

We walked back down to the Zoo after the museum. It was about a mile - mile and a half walk. It wasn't too bad, but it was humid out. It could have been A LOT worse, so we weren't complaining too much. And there was a breeze coming in off of the lake, so that was nice.
Lincoln Park Zoo is so worth it! It is free and open 365 days a year. The prices in the gift shops and for drinks and such were not really much more than we are paying downstate. If you go, make sure you plan for the whole day. Bring a lunch and have a picnic or have lunch at one of the the shops. Everything was CLEAN, and landscaped. You weren't going uphill in every direction like St. Louis zoo. There are several shows per day and a chance to pet some of the more exotic animals, but we missed that by the time we got there. Most of the animals were going in as it was close to closing, and I suspect, feeding time. We plan to go back sometime. Even if for just a few hours. Lil Man enjoyed just being outside and watching other kids play. He did see the lions and heard them roar - loudly! He was also able to kind-of see the penguins. He knew what was in there. The windows were steamed up a bit.

We left at closing time. We ended up getting lost in downtown Chicago. We got the $3 tour and ended up driving down Michigan Avenue, "The Magnificent Mile." Of course Sr is in the back shouting look at that , look over here ....etc. I am trying to dodge taxis and people who actually KNOW what they are doing. LOL! We ended up in the back of Water Tower place. I finally figured out how to get to the highway. We could see it, we just couldn't get there. By this time it was about 7 and we stopped for dinner at Fudruckers. Lil Man really enjoyed that. There were only about 3 other people in there and they had the music going. He was "dancing" for us.

We got back to the hotel about 8 - 8:30. Got Lil Man into the room and were settling in. Our battery had ran down on the camera at the zoo and I was trying to figure out how to make sure it was charged for the next day. I picked Lil Man up and we had a replay of the blowout when Papa and I took him to see the neurologist! Same darn overalls! I am going to quit putting him in those.....What a mess. After we got him cleaned up and recovered - we all fell asleep before 10:00!!!! That NEVER happens. We slept - hard - until the alarm went off the next morning too.

Stay tuned for Part II......

****Please let me know if you are able to see the slide shows. I can see them on the other site where I make them, but cannot see them once I put them on the blog. This is a problem with my computer or browser - something. I have trouble seeing pictures posted on other's blogs too. However, I can't tell if things are working correctly. I would appreciate it you could leave a comment if you can't see the shows. Actually, feel free to leave a comment anyway. LOL!******

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Preview of Chicago Post

We are wiped out! Until I get my act together here, I thought I would give you a preview of some of the pictures and adventures we had on our mini-vacation in Chicago this week. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Heading Out

Lil'Man has appointments both Monday and Tuesday in Chicago. We are going to stay overnight, but we are driving outside the city to Monet (sp?), IL to stay at the hotel. His appointment on Monday is early (yeah!) @ 9 a.m. He sees Dr. Suskind, the ENT. We just love her but the appointments take soooo long. Hopefully, it will not take too long since it is so early in the day.

I expect she will have to clean his ears out and pull out the one tube that we know is in the ear canal. Then he will have hearing tests, and then go back in to see her again. I am going to talk to her about Speech Therapy, since we are doing the others up there, and getting a communication device. We HOPE it will be covered by insurance, but that is always a toss-up. We like the Go-Talk 20 to start out with. If this is a device that is only covered once every 5 or 6 years, we will probably have to go with something that can expand more - something like this which is more computer type. There are hundreds out there - each more confusing than the next. We pretty much expect that she will want to put in a new set of tubes. He also scratched his nose and now has some sort of infection going on. We will be asking what to do about that.

I feel like I have to address something here. I have already had a few comment from people when talking about this. We are NOT giving up on Lil' Man talking. However, the longer he doesn't, the harder it is going to be to get him to speak for it to be intelligible. We are still working on sign language. We have to remember that he has had significant brain damage, just at the part of your brain that deals with speech. He may be having raging conversations in his head, but not be able to get anything out. If those connections aren't there, it doesn't matter whether it is sign language or spoken word - he may not progress. The one thing with the communication device, especially this one, is that is is simple enough not to overwhelm him AND since he loves all toys with buttons, we think he would like this too. We HOPE that it will get him over that gap where he can recognize an object/action and push a button and actually GET WHAT HE WANTS! Can you imagine how empowering that will be? I would LOVE to know what is going on in that little brain of his, but until we figure a way to allow him to communicate fully with us it is never going to happen. Ok, now back to the original train of thought. LOL!

Depending on what time we get out of this appointment, we plan on going to either the Lincoln Park Zoo or the Chicago History Museum. It will depend on the weather, and how Lil' Man is feeling. I know Sr. REALLY wants to go to the History Museum. He is into the World's Fair and just the general history of Chicago. They also have an Abe Lincoln display that is only there until mid-August. Mondays are free at the Chicago History Museum and Lincoln Park Zoo is always free. We like free!!!!! :)

Tuesday is the appointment at LaRabida with the Dr. Thornton. She is the Medical Director for Peds and Adolescent Rehab, Rehabilitation for Kids Rehab. We are not sure what they are going to do - if it will be a full-blown PT/OT assessment, or just get the ball rolling. I am excited about this.We really NEED to get some things going on this front. Not looking forward to the drive, but if that is what it takes....... This doctor also works closely with the Orthopedist that Lil' Man sees. I hope that this eliminates a few appointments. Maybe they can tag-team over at LaRabida.

We can also schedule his wheelchair to be re-fitted and adjusted. I hate not using it - it was soooo expensive, but that thing is just so dog gone HEAVY! It takes two of us to lift it in and out of the van. If Dad is with me, he can't lift - so..... I will also talk to them about getting a script for those fold-up ramps to put the chair in the van. The worst they can do is say, "No" right?

Please e-mail me if you are having trouble viewing anything on our site. There has been some trouble with Blogger, and we are trying to get it resolved.

Have a great weekend!


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Feeding Pumps

For any of us who have a child that uses a feeding pump, these can be both a lifesaver and the bane of our existence (well - next to the G-tube).

Intimidating when they first arrive on your doorstep, without the aid of hospital staff you soon learn all the tricks. You know the ones.... holding that prime down just right so that the food doesn't leak out all over, positioning the pump and the bag just right so they don't alarm, which buttons to push when the alarm sounds. You learn to do all of these things in your sleep, in the dark, in the car, and on the new living room furniture. You learn just how long that battery really lasts at which mL per hour setting, and how to reach behind you, in the car, and fix the pump while doing 70+ MPH in rush hour traffic in Chicago....Ahem.

You also learn - quickly - how annoying those ugly black bags are that come with your pump. We have found a more stylish, lighter, and more convenient way to tote around out feeding pump. We are currently using a Joey, but this idea could be used for the Zevex Infinity or EnteraLite pumps as well. You would just have to use a little different style bag.

The best place to find this bag is Wal-mart right now, during back to school shopping. We are talking about lunch box/bags. They only need a little modification, and work wonderfully. This is a picture of our bag from last year. They run about $7.

The brand name that we have here is Arctic Zone. I was just at Wal-mart, and they have lots of different ones this year. Many with characters, and lots of neat designs.

For Joey pumps, the design you want is a tall bag with the "sack" part on the top half. On the bottom is a flip down panel that holds a plastic container. You want the one that is taller than a sandwich container. The others are too flat. If you have a Zevex EnteraLite or Infinity pump, you will want one that looks like an old school lunchbox, but with two compartments, like this.

In the top "sack" part of the bag, you will need to cut a hole for access into the bottom compartment. This is where the feeding bag will go. I just cut a hole, but if you are crafty, you could put in a large grommet, snaps, or Velcro. You may also want to add a hook or Velcro towards the top of the inside of the bag or on the inside of the lid to keep your feeding bag upright. We don't seem to have a problem with our bag just laying in there, but some pumps are A LOT more sensitive to this than others. The nice thing about this is even with a full feeding bag, we still have room to put in an ice pack and/or 16 oz sport bottle of extra formula, as long as it is kind-of short.

(I am not sure why this picture keeps loading sideways. It is really a picture from the front of the bag looking down into it.)

You should be able to string your tubing through the hole that you previously cut, down to the pump. The Joey pump is a perfect fit in the bottom section of the bag. It will even fit while plugged in to the charger. This is nice because the flap on this section of the bag covers the pump and the BRIGHT light that it puts out. You can still hear the alarms. The entire flap over the pump compartment is Velcro, so there are no issues with the tubing coming out to hook up to your little one.

The other nice thing about this particular bag is that the handle unclasps. We can hang it on the back of his wheelchair or stroller, or the back of the seats in the van (they have a built in handle). It even helps in a hotel room. We can usually hang it from a lamp or the corner of the headboard if we forget our IV pole. It also makes it easier to transfer Lil Man from the van into his wheelchair or stroller without having to unhook and hook everything back up again. Here is a picture of the clip.

This is for those of you who have the Zevex Infinity or EnteraLite pumps: We used to have to carry around so much stuff....feeding pump bag, O2, Pulse Ox machine, and all of the medical and baby paraphernalia. We looked like pack mules going anywhere. Right before we switched pumps, I realized that those Zevex pumps fit great inside the front pouch of a large backpack. More like a high-schooler would use. Land's End backpacks are nice.

Our requirements were a large main compartment, or two, and the front pencil pouch WITH A KEY CLIP. You hang your bag from the key clip and the pump is skinny enough to fit in the bottom of the compartment. This eliminates the need for all of those extra bags. It is also nice if that pencil pouch in front has an opening for earphones - preferably on the left side if you are looking at the pack. You can keep the pouch closed and string your feeding tubing through the hole meant for the earphone for an MP3 player. The one linked up above from Land's End is REALLY nice. The front pencil pouch is insulated - like a lunch box. Even better!

This one from Wal mart is nice too. Comes in several colors and only $15. You can click on the screenshots to see a pic of the pouch. You should be able to hook your feeding bag to the key clip and the pump would fit down in the bottom of the same pouch.

Well, I hope I passed on some useful info in time for back to school shopping. If you try out this idea, do me a favor and send a picture or a link back to me. I like seeing other's ideas. I KNOW there are some of you out there who are way more crafty than I.



P.S. The new Lillian Vernon catalog has quite a few backpacks and lunchboxes that will work for this. You can personalize all of their stuff, and they have cool patterns like camo, racecars, pink plaid, purple polka-dots, and pink with zebra! They have "normal" colors too. :)


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Busy, Busy

We go back to see Dr. Halabi tomorrow in Peoria. Looking forward to this visit. I am going to push for referral to the Immunology Center in Wisconsin. There are Immunologists in Peoria and Chicago, but not the type we need. They deal with asthma and allergies. I don't think what is going on here is a simple case of allergies - although it would not surprise me if he had them. I did - horrible ones. Still do, but not to the extent that I once did.

Christopher is showing all the signs and symptoms of Celiac disease. In fact, we treat him as if he does have it. However, he has never been exposed to the gluten (wheat) that causes the sensitivity (Celiac is NOT an allergy). He has been tested for it over and over - biopsies, blood work, and genetics. He does not have it, at this point. He could very well develop it later, but that is a different issue.

Anyway, the symptoms Christopher has are why we left Peoria and drove to Chicago in the first place. Well, that and the surgery suggested in Peoria. Dr. Guandolini in Chicago is one of the world's experts on Celiac. Christopher does not have it. So, we (Gi in Peoria and WI, and myself) searched for things that mock Celiac. The only thing that kept coming up is CVID, or Common Variable Immuno Deficiency. This is the Immune disorder that we have been saying Christopher had all along. Some docs won't test for it because he does not have the "right" number of pneumonia's, etc. per year. This is where the quarantine kind of shoots us in the foot.

There are very few treatments for it, outside of quarantine. There are I.V. therapies that can be done, but we have two problems. The first is the fact that Christopher has Down syndrome. That extra chromosome can really mess things up sometimes. The simplest way to put it is that the I.V. therapies are basically an immune system transfusion - just like a blood transfusion. If your body doesn't make blood cells, or in this case an immune system, you would have to get a transfusion on a regular basis to replace the cells that naturally die off. In Christopher's case, because he has the extra chromosome throughout every cell in his body, this infusion can cause a system reactions. Sort-of like rejecting an organ - not good. Also, they would have to place an I.V. each time he had a transfusion (about once a month). That doesn't sound bad, except he has no veins left - or very few. The very fact that he has an immune disorder rules out putting in a PICC line or hickman that is semi-permanent. Too much room for infection, and really, he has never HAD a line that he didn't get infection in. The other treatment is a bone marrow transplant. Same issues. Wisconsin is the only place around doing BMT's on children with DS for this sort of thing. Luckily, we already get services at that hospital.

This past week was full of Mommy's doctor visits. Had a colonoscopy on Wednesday - fun, fun. Really, it wasn't too bad. Gotta love conscious sedation. I don't remember a stinking thing that went on, but woke up refreshed. Not groggy. The best 2 hours of sleep I have had in 5 years! LOL! Got a clean bill of health, no polyps - nothing.

Thursday was not fun. I have been having this trouble with my ear/jaw/glands on the left side of my face. This has been going on since about Feb. I thought it was an abscessed tooth, but that did not turn out to be the case. I have arthritis and TMJ syndrome in my jaw! It has caused permanent nerve damage in my face/sinus/teeth/jaw area, and the swelling was bad enough that it has moved my teeth. Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done for this. I have to get a bite plate/retainer thing to wear when I "sleep" - whenever THAT is. The doc gave me a shot of cortisone right in that TMJ joint (the jaw joint by your ear). I told him it was a good thing I had gone to the bathroom before seeing him, or we would have had a problem. That HURT! I will have to be pretty desperate to do it again.

We are starting in on getting organized for the Buddy Walk. This year, the Buddy Walk is on Saturday, October 24 in Champaign. Please let me know if you would be interested in walking with us or sponsoring "Christopher's Cowpokes". We are sending out letters for Corporate sponsors and donations for raffle prizes. If you have any ideas or your company would like to do either, let us know.

Wednesday is also the last day to order "I'm Little Man's Buddy" bracelets. See previous post for all of the info.

I think this is it for now. I will update after the doctor tomorrow. Hugs!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My First Blog Hop!

I may blow it the first time out, but I couldn't choose my favorite photo. Here are my two absolute favorites: Revelation 3:21 "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne." This is Lil' Man, about 4 months in the hospital, after his first open heart surgery. See how much he loved that vent? This was his first smile. He was on enough "feel good juice" to put down an elephant, and he seemed to think this was normal.The above quote says it all about this photo.This is Lil' Man's first day home from the hospital. He was 4 days old and 5 lbs. I can't believe how little he was!This is a regular sized Christmas stocking. He was happy as could be in it. Little did we know what was in store for all of us.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Washed out

Well, 4th of July was a bust. We went to my parents and had dinner. That part was great. However, it rained ALL DAY. All of the fireworks were cancelled. It was just as well because I was wiped out. We came home around 8 and I sat down on the couch. I told Sr. that I was just going to sit down for a few minutes, and then I would get Lil'Man's food put together. He woke me up at 1:00 a.m. to tell me they were going to bed! Lordy, I was sore from being in one position for hours. I got Lil' Man's food and meds, changed him and we went to bed until about 9:30 on Sunday. Whew!

Lil' Man hasn't been doing much on the school front right now. He is feeling puny. He just wants to be held ALL of the time. He IS gaining weight, though. Probably because he isn't army crawling down the hallway 47 times a day. The skin around his G-tube site was looking pretty horrible. It is still pretty raw, but healing. Now he has horrible diaper rash. His entire bottom is peeling! UGH! We went through half a jumbo pack of diapers yesterday (that's about 25 diapers, for those who aren't in baby mode). We were just trying to keep his little bottom dry, and every time he pees he screams. Owie! I ended up taping a chux pad to him today in bed, just to get air to it. That seems to help a little. None of the creams we were using were helping.

I was able to get an appointment with a new doc in Chicago, at LaRabida. Lil'Man's neurologist referred us to her. I THINK she is a Developmental Pediatrician. She is going to coordinate therapy services up there. Lil' Man has been before for PT/OT, between Early Intervention ending and the school district picking up the slack. Well, now the school district is out of the picture, so we will probably be driving to Chicago at least once a month, if not more often. This is where Lil' Man got his wheelchair from. We have already talked about getting him a gait trainer, but I don't think it's gonna happen until his nutrition is a little better. Gotta get some meat on those bones! Although, with the way the budget is going in the State of IL, if we apply for it now, he might have it before he hits middle school. ;( We will be glad to be going back to LaRabida. It is on the beach of Lake Michigan - right on the beach. The link is above, I think they show the view. The hospital is on a little peninsula between a boat harbor and the lake. You can see Navy Pier from there too. Even though the neighborhood isn't that great, it is still nice to eat lunch out there at the picnic area. They have an all accessible playground too. Might get Lil'Man on a swing, since we haven't been able to get that up either (slackers!). Here is a little bit on LaRabida:

I will probably not be updating for a few days. Since my Dad had colon cancer last year, my sister and I are required to get colonoscopies every 3 years starting at age 30. Guess what I get to do Wednesday? Ya me! I might as well get it over with. Lil' Man has had it done many times, so I might as well buck up. Actually, I am looking forward to the best 2-3 hours of sleep I have had in 5 years! LOL!



Saturday, July 4, 2009

Swimming Pools, 'Tater Salad, and Fireworks

Hey all! Well today, Sr. put up the swimming pool. Now that we are not getting rained on every day, we thought we MIGHT be able to get out and enjoy it. It is just one of those 3 foot expandable pools, but Lil' Man won't be able to touch the bottom so it will seem big to him. I had mixed feelings about it - mostly because I haven't even owned a swimsuit in years. I really like our neighbors on one side, and I wouldn't want to scare the heck out of them or blind them with my white-ness. I guess they will just have to look away. :)

The pool went up nicely. They are really very easy to deal with. Ours hold 1000 gallons of water. We were waiting for it to fill up and, Sr. went out to check on it, as it was getting full. Of course, there is a small pin hole in the very bottom of the pool. We will see how much water is left tomorrow. It's not gushing, but still frustrating. As soon as we get that figured out, Lil Man will start "water therapy". Maybe it will wear his little hiney out and we can start getting to bed at a decent hour!

Tomorrow is the fireworks display at the Legion. My Mom and Dad live right across the street, so we all go over and hang out in their front yard to watch the fireworks. I am interested to see how Lil Man does with them this year. He is becoming more aware of his surroundings. In the past, they haven't seemed to bother him - or they have overwhelmed him to the point he just shuts down and goes to sleep. He was frightened by thunder a few weeks ago, so this should be interesting.

Since I do a lot of cooking for the holidays, I thought I would post two of the recipes that I am making for tomorrow. We aren't having a big party this year - just something to grab while we wait for the fireworks. (You have to get there REALLY early, or there is no parking available.)

So, the first recipe is a two part-er. The first part is for a mix that you can use for several different recipes. The recipe comes from this book. Most of the recipes in the book are bulk recipes that then get made into others.

MEAT SAUCE MIX: This yields five, 1 pint servings to be used in other recipes. Larger families might want to only divide in in half or use the whole thing. I use the whole thing for holidays and put the second part in the crock pot instead of a skillet.

4 medium onions, chopped (I use a bad of frozen, pre-chopped onions - saves time)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic

2 cups finely chopped celery*

2 to 3 chopped carrots, optional*

5 lbs lean ground beef

5 teaspoons salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 (28 oz) bottle ketchup (I just use store brand or whatever is on sale)

6 drops hot pepper sauce, optional

1 large chopped green pepper, optional* (I also use a bag of frozen pre-chopped peppers if I don't have fresh)

*I put the celery, carrots, fresh green pepper, and fresh onions (if that is what I am using) in a food processor and chop VERY fine. I don't think anybody knows that there are celery and carrots in this recipe!

Spray large skillet (I use a chicken fryer or a dutch oven) with vegetable cooking spray and saute' onions, green peppers celery, carrots, and garlic until onions are golden. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain excess fat. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and hot pepper sauce. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool

Put into five 2 cup freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top. Cut through mixture several times to remove air pockets. Seal and label containers with date and contents. Freeze. Use within 3 months. Makes about 5 pints.

RANCHER'S SLOPPY JOES: This recipe is for using 1 of the 5 servings from above. If using the entire recipe for a crowd, multiply by 5. I will put those measurements in ( ). This recipe is great for busy nights. It can be ready in 10 -20 minutes, depending of if it was thawed ahead of time.

1 pint (5 pints) MEAT SAUCE MIX, thawed

1/4 cup (1 1/4 cup) packed brown sugar or equivalent brown sugar substitute (Splenda)

2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) white vinegar

1/2 cup (2 1/2 cups) ketchup

1 tablespoon (5 tablespoons) mustard

hamburger buns

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Mix well, cover and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, or until heated through. Serve over hamburger buns. Makes 6 servings.

For the entire recipe, I put everything in a crock pot at least 2 hours ahead of serving time. Put on low or medium setting and heat through. Stir occasionally. Serve over hamburger buns. Makes about 30 servings.

The other holiday recipe in our family in potato salad. My Grandma Krauel made the best potato salad. We have this at Christmas time too, with ham. It is best serves as cold as possible. This is another good sized recipe. If making just for a small family, I would at least cut it in half. There would still be enough for leftovers.


5 lbs potatoes, large diced

1 dozen hard boiled eggs, diced or sliced

4 stalks celery, sliced

2 medium onions, chopped (I use sweet yellow onions for this - your preference on how

"onion-y" you like it.)

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

2 cups Miracle Whip (do not use mayonnaise, but can use fat free, etc. Miracle Whip)

1/2 cup sweet pickle juice

1/4 cup sugar or equivalent sugar substitute (Splenda)

1 cup thinly sliced sweet pickles - optional

yellow food coloring

Peel, and dice potatoes all about the same size. Put in large dutch oven in cold water with a little salt. Wait until all potatoes are ready before cooking. Boil for about 25 -30 minutes. Start checking potatoes at about 20 minutes. You want a fork to go into them easily, but not to be cooked as you would for mashed potatoes. Those will be too mushy. Drain and cool. Put into large roster or plastic container in fridge.

Rinse pot and add cold water. Add 1 dozen eggs. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot cool - this way the yolks do not turn green around the outside. If you are in a hurry, you can put the entire pot in the sink and run cold water over all, until all of the eggs are cooled. Once eggs are cool, peel and slice or dice. I use an egg slicer - it makes it much easier. Add to potatoes.

Next add celery, onions, Miracle Whip, pickle juice, mustard, and sweet pickles. Add 1/8 cup sugar or Splenda. Mix well and taste. If the mix seems too bitter, continue adding sugar to taste. If the mixture seems "dry" , try adding Miracle Whip and mustard a couple of tablespoons full at a time, until you reach the right consistency. Add yellow food coloring until salad is a light lemon yellow.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Enjoy!

Well, it looks like the fireworks tonight are going to be washed out. Hope for a miracle; that the rain will go away. :)

Hope everybody has a Happy and Safe 4th of July! Feel free to leave your browser open to this page. I put a new playlist at the bottom full of patriotic music. :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Are your kids bored yet?

Have your kiddos started in with the "I can't find anything to doooooooo" ? I just found a website that you are going to love. Many of you might have already heard about it. This is a site from the creator of Veggie Tales. It is called JellyTelly. They are sort-of a cross between Veggie Tales and Sponge Bob (less obnoxious).

There is a page of games, at least a dozen. Neat movies about the books of the Bible, Science day (creation), and Hermie Videos! If you have never watched a Hermie video, Tim Conway is the voice of Hermie and Don Knots is the voice of his pal, Wormie. Hermie is the creation of Max Lucado.

There also seems to be a movie of the week on Sundays. It looks like they are targeting "'tweens". In other words, the Hannah Montana generation.

Stop by and check it out. You won't be sorry!

For those who like it a little more old school, ALL of the Schoolhouse Rock videos are available on youtube. Search for Schoolhouse Rock and it will bring up more than you remember there ever being. They also have those PSA's from way back - remember Time for Timer?

Have a GREAT 4th of July weekend! Everybody stay safe!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Prayers for Our Boom Boom Buddy

Just wanted to ask you all to take a minute and send some love to our favorite Boom Boom Buddy, LC. She and her Mommy have been up all night and are in the ER right now. There might be a new diagnosis on the horizon for LC, and we hope that it is easily treatable, or even not there. In the mean time, let's pray that the ER docs will at least LISTEN to LC's Mommy and run some tests to rule things out. Go on over and check out their blog - you won't be sorry. LC is just about the cutest thing around!