Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The End of the Decade

I hope everybody enjoyed their holiday,whether you celebrated Christmas,Hannukah,or Kwanza. We had a great Christmas,with good cheer and spirit.

Our living room is finished,and it looks beautiful. My sister and mother were full of compliments,and also loved our Christmas tree. My sister told me I should take a picture and submit it to Better Homes and Gardens! She loved the simplicity of it.

Right now we are waiting to hear back from Walter Reed regarding Rick's med board. The military deemed his PTSD,Cogentive Disorder ( combo of PTSD,TBI),knees,and the nerve in his right leg as preventing him from doing what he used to do in the military. Fort Drum emailed us the final Narrative Summary and we read it,and agreed with what they said,so Rick signed it and sent it back to Fort Drum. They have sent it Walter Reed Hospital,and it will get reviewed by doctors there who will make the determination of how much of a percentage Rick will get for disability. So the end is finally in sight.It's a bit unsettling,to have waited so long and gone through what we had to go through,to know have it come down to a matter of weeks and in the hands of a few doctors. Very strange feeling.

Now that Christmas is over,I am finally stress free.I am looking forward to this coming decade.This last one has not been a great one for us,and I will be very glad to see it end. However, I am very optimistic for the next one,excited in fact. I am going to make myself a binder,in which I will keep track of thoughts,plans,etc. My "Manifesto,"for lack of a better term. I will have in the front what I wish to accomplish for this upcoming year ( Rick too) regarding our health,home,garden,homesteading,organization,and things we would like to do for fun. Like I told My Dear Friend Michelle,this coming year is a clean slate,and it is up to me what to write upon it! What we both would like to do is lose some weight. I need to get healthy again,and stop eating my frustrations and sadness. That is probably my main goal for the year.I also need to come to terms with the changes in Rick and not feel bad about "what was" and finally accept and work with "what is." You would think going on 5 years since he was wounded that I would have everything all worked out,but I don't. It still hurts me to see him this way,and I still get angry and sometime resentful. Not nice,but true. This year I am going to iron these things out. That is not to say I won't have my down days,because we all do,but I will not spend so much time dwelling on what our life used to be,because that life no longer exists.However,that is not to say that this life can't be just as good.....it will just be different. That's all.

So...good bye to this past decade,and good riddance!!!! Onward and upward to 2010 and the beginning of a good year. I can feel it and am ready for it!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!!

It's hard to believe that it's Christmas time again,but here it is. Though I enjoy decorating,etc,I really didn't feel the excitement or the spirit of Christmas until I was grocery shopping on Tuesday. I was making sure I had everything I needed for tonight's gathering,and I found myself filled with happiness. I love having family over on Christmas Eve. We only started doing that once we moved into our house. We always had Christmas Eve at my mom's. Well, it seemed silly to have her do all the work,so a few years ago,we started having Christmas Eve at my house,and Christmas Day dinner at my sister,Linda's house. As I said in my previous posts,we have pork pies,and my sister Linda,her husband Tom,and my mom come up.This year,we are happy to have my nephew Tommy join us like he did last year.

Along with the pork pies,we have peas,cranberry sauce,celery stuffed with cream cheese and olives,and mixed pickles. This year for dessert I bought a pastry tray,full of bite sized treats. Once I am done this post,I will make my pork pies,then I will only have to heat them up tonight.I will then set up my tables. My main centerpiece will be a silver tray filled with cranberries and candles,and under the tray I will put some greenery. I will also put a lot of candles all around the house to give it a nice atmosphere.

Christmas is my favorite holiday.I love the festivities that surround it,and find myself more grateful than at Thanksgiving.I love the decorations,the lights,just the whole spirit in general.

Our living room is finished,and it looks great! We are very excited for the family to see it,especially with all the decorations.We bought two kerosene lanterns with wrought iron wall hangers,and I filled them with red paraffin oil. They look really pretty on the wall. We haven't lit them yet,I think Rick wanted to wait until tonight.

One of things that I like about Christmas is reminiscing about Christmases past. One of my early memories is the Christmas I got my Mrs Beasley doll. I was five. I remember the excitement of it all... Santa Claus! I could barely sleep because I was sure that every noise I heard was the Jolly One downstairs leaving gifts!

On this Christmas Eve,my family wishes yours a very happy,love filled Christmas Day!!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

H1N1 and Pork Pies

Yesterday was a fairly productive day. We went down to the H1N1 clinic at the high school to get our shots.When the clinic was first announced,it was for kids and those who had underlying health problems,so we were going to bring Zach. Then Friday they announced that in NH the shots were now open to the general public.So Rick and I decided to get the shots as well. We figured,since Zach was in school and he tends to bring home the flu every year,it couldn't hurt. We are not worried,just taking precaution.

The clinic opened at 9:00 AM,and we figured we would get there early in case it was busy. We were pleasantly surprised that we only had 6 people ahead of us. There was no line at the nasal immunization,so Zach got that and Rick and I had the shot. The gentleman who gave me the shot did a great job-I barely felt anything at all,and I complimented him on his expertise!

After we left the school,we filled the car up with gas (it was running low,and since the roads were getting slippery,I wanted the tank full to give the back more weight),then stopped at Cumberland Farms to grab some eggs. We then went home so I could start making my pork pies.

I grew up having pork pies each Christmas Eve. That was the only time of year we had them. My mother says that when she was young,her family went to Midnight Mass,and because you were not suppose to eat before Communion,they would eat their pork pies after church-at about 2:00 AM. Growing up,that was not a tradtion my mother passed on. We always went to 4:00 or 5:30 mass,and had our pork pies after.No Midnight mass for us.

Pork pies are a French tradition-and we are quite French. Both my father's and my mother's grandparents are from Canada,so I am a third generation American. ( I am also part Scottish,Irish,and Abenaki). If there is any mistake,my father's last name was Lessard,and my mother's was Charrette. Can't get more French than that.

This year I made three pork pies to give as gifts-one to our neighbors down the road,one to my father in law Dick and brother in law Spencer,and the third to my brother in law Dale and his practically like a brother roommate,Scottie. Last year Dale and Scottie stopped by on Christmas Eve,and preceeded to eat all my pork pie leftovers,so I figured this year I would make them a pie. My father in law has tried them and liked them,so he too, is getting one.

Pork pies are very easy to make. You need:
1 3/4 lbs ground pork
1/3 cup of onion
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2-3 small- medium potatoes,mashed
salt and pepper to taste
double pie crust

Heat the oven to 350. Peel,then cube the potatoes and put them in boiling water until cooked.Mash and set aside ( DO NOT use milk or butter).Add salt.
Chop onion and cook in a small amount of butter until translucent.Add the pork,and when the pork is just about cooked,add the cinnamon and cloves. I don't measure any more, because I never use the amount in the recipe. It's all to taste. Add salt and pepper. Drain any fat,and add the meat mixture to the potoatoes. You might need to add more salt. Put the bottom crust into a 9 inch pie pan,and fill with pork pie mixture. Place the top crust on the meat mixture,then make slits in the top crust. Bake for about 30-40 minutes,until crust is cooked. You can make these ahead and freeze them as well.

We always serve our pies with peas,cranberry sauce,mixed pickles,and celery stuffed with cream cheese and olives. I have never deviated from this menu,and probably never will.

After I made the pork pies,I also made Dick a pecan pie (his favorite). Christmas Eve I will make our pork pies. Rick and Brian have gone down south ( North Hampton and Rochester) to deliver the pies and presents. I am staying here to start cleaning for holiday. I also need to wrap Zach's presents. Busy,busy busy!!!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tis No Day For Man Nor Beast Out There

The deep freeze here in NH continues. This morning the thermometer on our porch said 5 degrees,so with the wind chill it was below zero. We were all bundled up at the bus stop. When we came in I asked Rick,jokingly," We love living in NH,right? We must have said that in summer or fall!" In spite of our occasional bouts of Arctic type weather,we still love our state and really wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

Last Sunday we got our Christmas tree at a local tree farm,one of those "U pick We cut" places.I had told Zach to be on the look out for a tree that isn't too big. We only have 8 ft ceilings and the tree is put in a corner,so it can't have a big circumference. Well, he found the perfect tree. We did have to trim a bit off the top to accommodate the star,but other than that,it is a great fit. Right after we got home with the tree,it started to snow,so it was snowing while we decorated it,which added to the festive air that happens when one decorates their tree.I was glad the snow held off,because we used the truck,and the back of the truck didn't have any weight in the back,so it would've been on the slippery side,and even though I have lived where there is snow for 42 years,I still do not like to drive in it. This stems from an incident that happened when I was pregnant with Zach. I was coming home from work during a snowstorm,and even though I was not going fast (maybe 30-35 miles an hour),the car spun out,doing a full 360 circle on the highway. Luckily,there were no other cars around me,but it shook me up nonetheless. .Another time,a long time ago,I was driving in the snow and my car went off the road,across the opposite lane.Again,there was no other traffic. Fortunately I was able to get the car out myself,but I was counting my lucky stars because if I had gone off on my side of the road,I would've plunged down a hill into a river. So you can see why I am bit apprehensive about driving when the snow is coming down.

Today should be a nice day. My Dear Friend Michelle invited myself and our mutual friend Shelley to her house for lunch. It will be nice to have some girl time and chat,amid all the chaos that has been going on in our house. Michelle and I always try to get together at least every other week,and I have not seen Shelley since the Fall.

Rick and his brother Brian have gone down to Newington to Dick's Sporting Goods to pick out a gun safe. That is what Rick wanted from Christmas,and since I know nothing about gun safes,he went down to get it. We have quite a few rifles,muzzleloaders, and pistols between Rick and Brian,so it makes sense to keep them in one protected area,with all the accessories that go with them. We had a really nice gun cabinet that looked like a big coffee table,but it's too big for our house,and it got ruined because we put it in the basement. We had some water come in and the sump pump wasn't working properly. So it is no longer functional.
After they get back,they will continue painting the living room.It is almost complete and I hope to post some photos. I tried posting some photos of the outside of the house,but for some reason,the photos won't post. I will keep trying.
Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An End In Sight?

Things around here have been busy,as I am sure it is in everybody's home this time of the year.We have been painting our living room from a sage green to "Raffia Cream",putting up crown molding,as well as window and door molding. The room is coming along nicely. Rick has been working to tolerance,as usual. He gets real tired because his brain has been working hard and his knees are in so much pain. There was a big source of frustration:the crown molding. Try as he might,even after reading our Home Depot Book and talking to people who have put up crown molding before,he could not figure out how to get the corners to be right. The molding does not sit flat on the wall,it sits at an angle. He spent four days (a few hours a day was all he could take)trying to get the correct angle on one piece of molding. His brother Brian spoke up and said that he remembered that they sell corner pieces that the molding can butt up against-no cutting! What do you know? The crown molding went up in a couple of days.It is now painted and just needs to be caulked in spots.
Our Christmas tree is up,and it looks nice with the white lights and red and white checked bows. I do have some other ornaments on it,but not many. I wasn't sure I was going to like the white lights,having never used them,but it does look good.
Today was a good day. We got the Narrative Summary from Fort Drum via email for Rick to look over. Tomorrow he needs to call his contact at Fort Drum tomorrow,go over the Narrative Summary. It then goes to Walter Reed,where it will be reviewed by other doctors who will make the determination of how much of a disabiity Rick will get. It is amazing to actually see the end in sight,after four years and three med boards. We have learned,however,to keep hope at a minimum,because of all the curves that this process has thrown our way.This way we don't get overly optimistic just to be disappointed again.
Rick's speech therapist also told us today that Rick does not need to go to sessions any more. We were surprised. She said that he has made good progress in his word associations.There will still be issues going forward,because the memory loss is permanent,but she taught him skills to help him remember words, appointments-basically how to make things easier to remember.For instance,,in his PDA,instead of jotting down "Zach's honors assembly at school",he will write only one or two words that he knows will jog his memory. He wrote "Honors"in the time slot it begins.This one word triggers his memory of what the event is.
Rick also had another sleep study last night. When he had the first one in August,he was not laying down-he slept sitting up in the bed. He stopped snoring 9 times an hour. Well,for a real accurate study,he needed to be laying down. So they did the test again,and we should see by the beginning of the New Year if his sleep apnea is worse when he is laying down. It should be interesting.
The woodstove is making the house so nice and warm. It is very cold outside this evening-with the wind chill it might hit the single digits. Up north in Coos County it may hit -30 below.Brr!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fresh Snow

Today here in NH we are having our first big snowstorm of the season. The schools are closed and we cancelled Rick's speech therapy appointment in Manchester.It is snowing quite heavily,and we are suppose to get anywhere from 5-12 inches. We are on the line where the amount of snow changes,here in northern Strafford Country,so any time we see snow amounts on Channel 9 news, we know it can go either way for us.
Though I am not a big snow fan,I do like to see it falling while I am in my little cottage with the woodstove going. There is a very cozy feeling to it. Saturday,we did get some snow as well,maybe three inches. It started while we were outside tying up some loose ends before the snow hit for the season-such as getting all outside furniture,hoses,etc into the garage,getting the outside Christmas decorations and the heat tape for the roof up. It was pretty neat to be putting greenery into our little wagon while the snow was falling.The whole family was outside doing what needed to be done,and we got alot accomplished in just a few hours.
Zach is going outside to shovel the driveway and play in the snow.Brr! It is quite cold when the door opens!
Today is my Flylady day,since I have nothing else planned,and I am going to clean my kitchen. I also need to make some more soap. The lye crisco soap keeps losing color and some of them lose their scent. So I am wondering if I need a receipe with more ingrediants to hold scent and color better,at least for gift purposes. The lye crisco soap for us is fine.It doesn't have to be pretty. I have some melt and pour soap left over from last year and I will use that for my gifts.
I also need to start decorating inside the house.We are going to go to a tree farm and get our tree this weekend. I grew up with a fake tree,and for years after I moved out used a fake tree. After Rick and I got married,I decided that I wanted a real tree,and for 12 years we have had one. Even if we had to go into the woods and cut it down ourselves because we didn't have any extra money to buy one,we have had a real one.
So I am off to give my kitchen a good cleaning and Rick and Brian will be working in the living room. They are putting up crown molding,which has been a challenge for Rick.But it's good for him to work his brain and try to figure out how the cuts are suppose to go,even if he has only one piece up these last 5 days. It's not all the brain injury-his knees make things difficult,and of course,we have had appointments which eat a good portion of the day. He is usually spent afterwards,so he has been working on things when he can.It is going to look really nice when it's all done.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Last Appointment

Today is the last appointment for the med board!
Rick is having an EMG ( electronic nerve testing) done on his right foot. This was the last test that the military wanted,and since there were no openings for appointments when we were at Fort Drum,the appointment had to be outsourced here in NH. There were a few snags and miscommunication with the VA,so the process got held up,but today is the day.
The rest of his NARSUMS ( narrative summaries) are completed,so once Fort Drum receives these test results,the last NARSUM can be written up,then his packet will be sent to Walter Reed for the final review. Whew!
So today is a good day.
I have been gearing up for Christmas. We bought new house lights ( ours had had it) yesterday,and I went into the woods out back and got some greenery. I picked from three different types of pine trees to get a nice mix. I put them in hanging planters by the road,my window boxes,and this year I will put them in our old Cub Scout Chuck Wagon.I usually mix them in with red berries. There wasn't a lot of red berries around where I normally get them this year,so I only have a few branches to use. I will keep the berries in the house,and put small red ribbons in my greenery outside. I have a large wreath I put on the front of the house,and this year I bought two smaller wreaths,one for each side of my french doors. I usually put a wreath on our house door,but this year I bought a door cover that has Santa on it,which is sound activated. It plays the Christmas Song and lights up. I am sure it will be annoying by the end of the first day,but I wanted to do something different this year.
Inside I put the greenery and berries on all my window sills with my battery operated candles (I don't have enough outlets for the electric ones,and even if I did the cords are never long enough)and on my shelf in the dining room. It is this huge old mirror that has a shelf on it and what it's from,I don't' know,probably some bedroom set. I bought it for $60 several years ago,and I love it.I also make a display in a vase on the dining room table.
I am trying white lights on our Christmas tree this year. I have never had white lights,always colored lights,my whole life. I am trying to go for a more natural look,more simple,more old fashioned. I have my red and white checked ribbons,glitter snowflakes,candy canes,special ornaments (using only a few)and Christmas cards that I think are really pretty. I also tuck in some pine cones here and there.
Today is rainy and foggy,so I won't be able to start the outdoor decorating.I will putter around inside,do a couple of loads of laundry,and start writing out my Christmas cards ( which I actually bought four weeks ago!!!!) Rick started supper in the crock pot-pork roast with onion,potatoes,carrots,and garlic.
Still no snow in our neck of the woods. Up north they got a few inches over the weekend,but still nothing down here.I am not complaining!!! :)