November 25, 2008

Ramblings From Me...

I can’t believe that it is Thanksgiving week. I feel like I missed an entire week. I guess I basically did being out sick all last week, but WOW! Where did November go?

This has been a tough couple of days at school. I’m not feeling 100% yet. The kids are wired – waiting for Thanksgiving break to begin. Luckily I came up with a clever writing assignment in my fever stupor over the weekend. They have not complained about it at all, which is a first, and I am getting some good business letters from them. Double Bonus!!

The local radio station started playing Christmas music 24/7 last Friday. I had the kids write a letter to the general manager of the station stating whether they agree or disagree with the holiday format. It has sparked many good discussions and some very good papers. PLUS! We play the radio station all day! It has been fun! Thank goodness because that is about all I have the energy for right now.
Big Bear and I are leaving tomorrow for Chicago. Two of my brothers are still there. It is going to be a lot of fun. I haven’t been back to the area in nearly five years. I am really looking forward to it. We can’t decide whether or not to go down to Michigan Ave. on Friday. Part of me really wants to because there is no better way to kick off the Christmas Season. On the other hand, I hate crowds. I'll let you know what we do. :o)

Sunday we had a wonderful time over at the in-laws. There was too much food, but boy was it good! I did manage to get the cranberry salad, Layered salad and pies made. I took some pictures, but they didn’t come out very clear. I dropped my camera a few weeks ago, and I think I did more damage than I originally thought. I took 12 shots of the salad, and not one came out clear. I can’t tell you how many pictures I took of the pies and this is the only good one. Frustrating.
Pumpkin & Pecan Chocolate Chip

The pecan pie was a hit! It has chocolate chips in it and bourbon. Wow! It was good. I did learn something interesting. You probably already know this, but whiskey and bourbon are the same thing!! I found out that if it is made in Kentucky it is bourbon. All of the other stuff is JUST whiskey. I was confused because I asked Big Bear for the bourbon to make the pie and he brought in the bottle of Maker's whiskey. I told him I needed bourbon and that is when I learned this little tidbit. :o)

The Layered Salad is so good and so easy. Every time I take it somewhere I come home with an empty bowl. Which is a good thing because it isn’t the healthiest due to the real mayonnaise I use.

Layered Salad
Spring Mix (the recipe calls for iceberg lettuce but I don’t care for that)
Cauliflower or broccoli (this year I used broccoli – next year I’ll go back to cauliflower I like it better in this salad)
Red pepper
Red onion (you can use green onion)
Frozen green peas
Boiled eggs (I used four)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Bacon (The recipe calls for bacon, but I don’t add it because I don’t eat it.)

1 ¼ cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tblspn. Sugar

Layer in any vegetables you like. The list is what I added this year. I always have more than seven layers. I don’t measure anything. I just eyeball what I think is a good layer depending on the ingredient. (Lighter on the onion and heavier on the red pepper, etc.)

Mix the dressing ingredients and cover the salad. Chill thoroughly before serving.


I hope each and every one of you have a Wonderful Thanksgiving.

November 22, 2008

What A Week...

I have been really proud of the fact that I have not been sick in three years.   The kids at school would bring in their colds and flu and share it with me EVERY year.  But for the last three years I have really been lucky, I haven't caught anything that has kept me home from school. Until this week ~ It may be terrible but I am blaming ALL of this on one of my freshmen darlings.  A week or so ago he came in the room and said, "Mrs. Bear are you EVER not here?  We need a break."  Well I think he jinxed me because he got his break - a week long break.  ;o)

It all started a week ago today.  Big Bear and I went to Lexington.  We saw the new Bond movie, not as good as the last in my opinion.  We did a little shopping and had a really nice dinner.  It was a great day, until about the last hour.  That is when I started to feel achy and really tired.  I just figured that it was due to the weather and running around all day.  The drive home is about two hours, and during those two hours even the hairs on my arms started to ache.  Great!

Once we were home, got the pups taken care of, and groceries put away I hit the bed.  I woke up a few hours later with full blown chills and the works.  So I thought I had a bad cold, maybe the flu.  I spent most of the day Sunday drinking lots of water, trying to not hack up a lung, and staying doped up on Advil and Tylenol.  Finally decided I wouldn't be going to work on Monday about nine o'clock that night.  Called in sick and prayed that I would only be out one day.

Unfortunately it got worse.  By Tuesday afternoon I was calling BB in tears wanting to go to the doctor.  I DO NOT go to the doctor willingly, but I was miserable.  I called the doctor’s office and the nurse said the doctor would probably call something in for me.  Yeah!

A couple of hours later the doctor’s office called back saying the doctor said I’ve had a fever too long she wanted to see me; could I come in at 4:15.  I nearly cried right then on the phone.  BB had a HUGE closing at 4:30 that he couldn’t miss.  We have only one car this week because the Mountaineer has been in the shop getting the back window fixed.  I had to wait until Wednesday to see the doctor.  More Advil I’ll make it.

At the doctors office they gave me a flu test.  Both the doctor and the nurse said it sounded like I had the flu.  I still had a temp of 101.8.  That is really high for me because my normal temp is 96.8.  Yes!  I know it’s backwards, but that is what my normal temperature ALWAYS reads.  I learned that back during our infertility days.  Anyway – sorry about all of the tangents -  The doctor and nurse came back in the room, this time they were wearing surgical masks.  I tell you, that was a bit freaky!

Dr. C. told me that the flu test at first read positive, but the line went away while they were looking at it.  She said they have never seen such a thing.  So they aren’t sure what to do with me.  She gave me some really strong antibiotics.  Told me if these don’t work she’d meet me at the hospital.  Lovely.

I’m happy to say the antibiotics must have worked.  Last night (Friday) was the first night in a week that I haven’t woken up to unbearable chills and fever.  I’m feeling better today, not great but I can sit at the computer which is BIG.  I have been reading your posts from my iPhone, but it is really hard to leave comments.  I am so thankful to that phone.  I was able to stay in bed and stay connected by texting my aide at school, reading emails, and escape to the blog world when I wanted to just cry and feel sorry for myself.  There is nothing better than pictures of little ones to help take your mind off things.  Thanks!   

Tonight starts our crazy Thanksgiving week.  We have a dinner party tonight with my parents. Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow at the in-laws with BB's entire family, which I need to make two pies and a seven layer salad for.  BB says he will be doing the cooking.  LOVE him!  Then we leave for Chicago Wednesday morning!!  I probably won’t have time to go back to blogs and comment.  A few of you have been on my mind though.   

Ozimum and Pipo – Wow!  1,000 days.  All my fingers and toes are crossed that it is just a few more days now. 

Tongginator Momma and Kristy you and your families have been in my thoughts and prayers.

I better go lay down for a while.  Have to look half alive for the dinner party tonight.  :)  Oh!  One more thing – thanks to those of you who emailed to check in on me.  You have absolutely NO idea how much that means.  Even though I haven't been back to blogging long it's nice to know when you're missed.  :)  Thank YOU!

November 12, 2008

It's Over!!!

The Cold War is over! I couldn’t take it any more. The other day while Big Bear was upstairs I stealthily moved toward the furnace switch and secretly moved the button to H.E.A.T! It was a moment of relief and defeat, but DANG! I was COLD. I was hoping that he wouldn’t notice, but that smell of dust burning gave me away!

A few minutes later I hear BB coming down the stairs. Then I hear: “What is that smell? Would that be the glorious smell of success?” He walks into the kitchen with his hands raised above his head as the “Champion”. He gloated for a moment or two – seemed like 12, but who was counting? Then he said, “It’s about f___king time! It’s d__n cold in this house!”


It was a good thing I did turn on the heat, because that night the temperature fell into the low 20’s. I don’t even want to think about how cold the house would have been the next morning!

November 10, 2008

A New Beginning

One constant in my life has always been church. Being Catholic it doesn’t matter where in the world I am I can always find a church. For the most part mass is ALWAYS the same. When I first moved to Kentucky I had a bit of a culture shock. On those really tough weeks when I felt like such an outsider in this small town I could always go to church. There is a comfort at church.

I am not the perfect Catholic. That is my choice. I don’t attend every Sunday, but we went several times a month and every week during advent and lent. Big Bear had started going with me to church. He enjoys it and has even talked about joining the church. Imagine his difficulty when a little over a year ago I stopped going. I couldn’t, didn’t want to, No Way!

Now this is where I’m going to be honest. I am putting this down because I want to remember this. I need to acknowledge this, deal with it and move on. Please don’t lecture me. I know.

It took me a long time to realize it, but I was angry. I was VERY angry. For so very long we have been trying to have a child. Take the three years of infertility, add it to the three years of adoption waiting and it equals a very long time we’ve spent trying to have a family. In my mind, I guess, someone had to be responsible. We are a happy couple who would be good parents. Why on earth is it so easy for so many to have a baby? Why do we have to struggle EVERY STEP OF THE WAY??

I was angry with God. I feel guilty about this. To be honest I didn’t even realize it until my husband made a comment one day. We were talking about church, not our church, about a church in our community. He made the comment that when I was finished being mad I’d be ready to go back to church. I honestly didn’t realize that I was mad until his comment. I spent several weeks at first trying to deny his comment. How can someone be mad at God? That’s wrong. Then eventually I began to accept, maybe Big Bear was right.

It took me a long time to work through my feelings. On the outside things looked fine with me, most of the time. I went to work, I kept social engagements, I ‘played’ the happy aunt, sister, daughter, friend - but inside I was sad, very sad, and angry. I didn’t decorate our house for any holidays last year. I avoided some family gatherings when possible – especially the kid’s birthday parties. It was a rough year.

I can’t say there was a magic moment when things turned around for me. It has been a long slow process. Things were better when I pulled out the Halloween decorations several weeks ago. I knew that things were much better two weeks ago when Big Bear asked me if I wanted to go to church and I said yes.

At first I was very nervous. By the end of the service I felt much better. This past weekend we went again, and I REALLY enjoyed mass. It was during the homily I realized I was ok. It felt good to be back to me, and yet I know I have also changed. I have become more confident in myself, my faith, our marriage, and our journey to become a family of three.

It has been an experience! One I don’t want to go through again. I have grown stronger, and hopefully this will help me be a better mom some day.

November 5, 2008

Randomness and A Recipe

I don’t discuss politics very often, usually only with my husband and then he can talk tables around me. I don’t follow it like he does. I have my views and opinions and you have yours. That is what is makes this country GREAT!

I must say though, yesterday was absolutely amazing to me. Even in our small town I have never seen such a turn out for voting. Usually I am one of maybe a dozen people at the polls – that includes the judges. When I went to vote yesterday there were people all over, some precincts had long lines. People in wheelchairs, on walkers, young people, and older Americans were all there to vote. It made me smile. No matter which candidate was your candidate it was a historic event. One day when our grandchildren ask about it we will all be able to say we witnessed and were part of a historical event. What a concept!

After voting I went to see The Secret Life of Bees. I read the book when it first came out and loved it. I heard the movie was good, but I wasn't holding out much hope. To me movies are never as good as the book. This one - OUTSTANDING! I really enjoyed it. I cried. Not just a few tears. Yes, that's right - full blown ugly cry. Dakota Fanning is amazing. Queen Latifah is too!

The cold war still rages on at our house. Thankfully it has been up in the 70’s since last Saturday, so the house is warm. We’ll see what happens when it gets cold again.

I really HATE winter laundry. I usually do laundry on Sundays. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why I had so much more laundry than usual last Sunday. I was still working on it on Monday. It is because of all the sweatshirts and extra clothes. It’s back to Wednesday and Sunday laundry for me. That’s the only way I don’t have to spend the entire Sunday in the laundry room. Ick!

For the first time in six years BB and I have decided to go back to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Two of my brothers are still there and we are going to go visit them for the long weekend. I can’t wait!!

BB was supposed to tell his mom. On the phone the other night she asked me what I wanted to make for Thanksgiving. It was a quiet moment after I finally told her that we wouldn’t be there. Why does he always do this to me? Now I am the bad guy. Moving on...

Several of you have asked for the sauce recipe. To be honest there isn’t really a recipe. When I cook, not when I bake, but when I cook I have a habit of looking at several recipes and then taking what I like from each recipe and making my own. For the sauce recipe I just have a list of ingredients that I complied from about half a dozen other recipes. Here’s what I do:


Olive oil
2 large onions
Green peppers
Large package of fresh button mushrooms
Garlic (10 cloves chopped fine) Sometimes more or less it depends on the garlic.
2 28oz cans whole tomatoes
2 14oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 14oz can tomato paste
2 cups water (I just fill the tomato paste can with water twice)
Italian parsley
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
3 Bay leaves
Cubano pepper or red pepper flakes (I guess about a little more than a teaspoon)
Fresh Basil

I dice up the onions and then I dice up as many carrots and green peppers to equal the amount of onions. I usually end up with a bit more than two cups of each vegetable.

Olive oil – I guess about 4 tablespoons, again I don’t measure. It depends on how many vegetables.

Saut̩ the onions, green peppers, and carrots until the onions and carrots are soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic Рsimmer until the mushrooms are soft. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. I squish up the whole tomatoes as I add them and I take out the stem end. I was told a long time ago they could make your sauce bitter. Add the water.

I add the salt, both peppers, and bay leaves. Let it all simmer for a while. If after simmering the sauce tastes bitter I may add a little sugar to cut the acid of the tomatoes. NOT MUCH! Maybe two tablespoons.

Chop up the Italian parsley and add that. Simmer until the sauce thickens.
Chop up a large hunk of basil. Add that last.
Let everything simmer a little longer. Then I remove the bay leaves. I use a hand blender to chop up all of the veggies to make a smooth marinara.

Whew! I didn’t mean for this to be so long. I better stop for now. :)

November 3, 2008

Prints, Fabric, Food, & Fun

A few weeks ago I found some prints that I KNEW were perfect for the nursery. You know that moment when you see something and you HAVE to HAVE it. That’s what I felt when I saw these prints. I found them at and they finally arrived on Saturday. Take a look:

See Hedda! I told you I would figure out how to get some red in the room. :)

On Saturday some fabric I ordered also arrived!!! I have been looking for fabric to make some blankets for the nursery. I am not going to purchase a big bedding package because I know I would not use it. I won’t use a bumper, the crib has a drawer so there is no need for a skirt, and the quilt usually ends up on the floor any way, so I decided I wanted a nice fleece and some flannels. I knew this time of year would be the best for finding polar bear themed material. I haven’t found anything, so I widen my search to snowflakes and polar bears. Again, as soon as I saw these I fell in love. The fleece material is so soft. It is going to make the perfect blanket for Polar Cub. The flannels are perfect too. Things are coming together.

Sunday I spent some time in the kitchen. First I made Sandra’s pumpkin bread. I hope you don’t mind Sandra, but I made some changes to give the bread more fiber and protein, and to take out some of the fat.
Pumpkin Bread
1 ½ cups sucanat
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup applesauce
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp all spice
½ tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup soy milk
1 small can (15 oz) of pumpkin
Cream sugar, eggs, applesauce, and oil. Add pumpkin. Mix all dry ingredients and add alternately with soy milk to the pumpkin mixture. Bake in two greased loaf pans at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

This bread was wonderful! It is my new favorite pumpkin bread recipe!

After the bread went into the oven I started some sauce. I began making this sauce a while back. I make a huge double batch and then freeze it in small bags. We ran out a few weeks ago. I had a jar of sauce in the cupboard so I used that one night last week. Well, that was the last time I will try that. What a difference between the good stuff and the jar. My sauce has lots of veggies, garlic and basil. We love it.

While the sauce simmered I made spinach lasagna that BB had been asking me to make for weeks. In the past I always used jarred sauce, so I did it the same this time. Last night I was asked to use the homemade sauce from now on. I’ll take that as a compliment.

While the lasagna sat to cool I went down to feed the dogs. I was gone for maybe 10 minutes. I came back upstairs to candles, a bottle of wine, and the football game turned off!!! After a day of cooking it was a wonderful surprise. I wish I would have made the lasagna WEEKS ago!

Have a GREAT one!!!