Monday, September 29, 2008

Dedication to the job

I've always taken great pride in doing my job well. You don't have to tell me twice that the customer is always right. But what do you do when the customer isn't always just right, but the customer is just pathetically sad, alone and well...kinda a little nuts?

I have this client that is married to a man several years older than she is. She's currently pregnant and already has 5 children, all under the age of 10. She's a very pretty, tall woman. I don't know her well, just professionally except for sometimes she crosses the line between client and agent and I'm not sure where her mind is in all this.

For example, about 9 months ago, she called our office and I happened to answer and the question she had was about directions to the local IRS office. Even though I thought the question a little bit strange, especially when your asking your insurance agent...but since we do commercial and trucking insurance I figured it had something to do with the business and that's why she called us.

Then about 4 months ago, she called again and she hemmed & hawed like she really didn't know how to come to the point of the conversation. She finally asked me if I had ever been to a certain grocery store in our city. I told her yes a few times and that my parents went there quite a bit. Well she asked if I had ever purchased their chicken chorizo. I told her no and wondered where this was going and what chorizo had to do with insurance. But...the customer is always right and we always listen to the customer and don't just brush them off.

Ok, so then she tells me that she had gone to this store that morning and she had purchased some of this chicken chorizo and she came home and fried some corn tortilla's and then fried some of the chorizo and made little tostada's for her kids. While the kids were eating she then went to fry a little more chorizo for herself when all of a sudden she noticed there was a small worm in the chorizo. Ewwwwwww! Gross.

So I'm wondering why I had to be the one listening to this and she goes on to tell me that she feels really bad because the kids have already eaten their chicken chorizo tostadas and now she feels bad that they ate chorizo with worm or worms and she wanted to know what she should do.

Uh, huh? What? Huh?

She wanted her insurance agent to tell her what to do? So I told her, because,'s my job to help my customers right? Uh ok, yeah...I guess that's right. I told her not to say anything to the children, they've already eaten it right? I asked her if she wanted the phone number to the local health department so she could report them. She said no, that's ok. She would just throw away the rest of it and not go to that store ever again. So she thanked me and that was it.

Well today, she called again and got my co-worker this time. She had recently filed papers with the tax collector to have her properties reappraised to lower the values in order to lower the property taxes. (And this is a woman that doesn't have enough sense to not feed her children worms? She knows enough to have her properties reappraised...and need I say more, she owns PROPERTIES, meaning more than one!) Her problem this time was that she had received a letter from the tax collector, but as she's Spanish speaking only, she didn't know what the letter said so she wanted to fax it over and have us read it and tell us what it said.

Is this woman an enigma or what? One second she's dumb as a rock, illiterate, scatter brained, helpless and lonely and the next second she's this business tycoon with multiple properties. Strange huh?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Some facts about ME, cause in my world, it really is ALL ABOUT ME!

There's this little questionnaire going around right now on several of the blogs I read and it's a series of questions you have to answer about your husband. Well since I don't have one of those, and I didn't want to be left out of anything current going on in the blogosphere I thought I would address the questions to me and answer them. I mean who knows me better than me?

Ok, here we go.

1. Alicia is sitting in front of the tv, what is on the screen?
The truth is that it's off, just a blank screen. I don't have cable and there's nothing to watch on Sundays. I did just finish watching Monk on though.

2. You're out to eat what kind of dressing does Alicia get on her salad?
I like ranch, but it does depend on what kind of salad. If it's like a Chinese chicken salad, then I like the Chinese chicken salad type of dressing. If it's like a taco salad, then usually salsa is the dressing, although sometimes you can get a really good cilantro-lime dressing as well.

3. What's one food Alicia doesn't like?
That would have to be mushrooms. I can't stand the way they smell or the texture. I've even tried stuffed mushrooms and you just can't hide that disgusting taste. The strange thing is that my mom who dislikes pretty much all veggies just loves mushrooms, go figure.

4. You go out to the bar, what does Alicia order?
Usually a Corona Beer with lime in a salted glass, kinda like a poor women's margarita. But it does depend on what I'm eating and/or doing. If I'm having Mexican food, I do enjoy a margarita, but if I need to get my rhythm going before dancing, then definitely a Long Island Ice tea with a shot!

5. Where did Alicia go to high school?
I went to Calipatria High School in Calipatria, California. Go HORNETS!

6. What size shoe does Alicia wear?
A size 6 1/2, really. But I love that line in Steel Magnolia's where Truvy says, "I usually wear a 6, but a 7 feels so good, I'll buy an 8."

7. If Alicia was to collect anything, what would it be?
A few years back I did start collecting bears, all kinds of bears, ceramic, cloth, pictures, dishes, etc. I'm just waiting for spring so I can have a huge yard sale. I really don't have one particular thing I want to collect because pretty much I just want EVERYTHING. In fact I have an "IWANNA" post coming up here in the near future.

8. What is Alicia's favorite type of sandwich?
I really love my fried ham sandwiches with avocado, but my tuna with minced jalapeno is pretty good too.

9. What would Alicia eat every day if she could?
What else? Chips and Salsa, Chips and Salsa!

10. What is Alicia's favorite cereal?
I'm a simple woman of simple tastes, I love Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, they're Grrrrreeeaaaatttttttt!!!!!!!!

11. What would Alicia never wear?
Probably a Halloween costume in the workplace. That one comes to mind because my current coworkers want to dress up this year and I've never dressed up and never wanted too.

12. What is Alicia's favorite sports team?
Dallas Cowboy's Baby!!! Oh Yeah! Even though they did lose today :-(

13. Who will Alicia vote for?
I'm a Republican and I am really for the McCain-Palin ticket! No one is perfect I know, but McCain's war record and love of his country speaks volumes to me.

14. Who is Alicia's best friend?
You've heard the saying, "You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family". Well the best thing is when your best friend is also beautiful, wonderful, generous, loving, funny, bighearted sister Lisa!

15. What is something you do that you wish you wouldn't do?
I guess it would be speaking without thinking...and that's not really true because I do think about what I'm going to say, it's just that some things are better left unsaid, but by then I've already said them!

16. How many states has Alicia lived in?
Arizona and California only.

17. What is Alicia's heritage?
Mexican American, although I prefer American Mexican.

18. You bake Alicia a cake for her birthday; what kind of cake?
Again, I'm a simple woman with simple tastes. My fav cake is white with white frosting. But I do love me some Carrot cake, mmmmmmm.

19. Did Alicia play sports in high school?
Funny but I was just talking to my cousin Robert about this today. I played Volleyball, Softball and a little Tennis.

20. What could Alicia spend hours doing?
Besides talking? Just kidding. I guess it would either be sleeping or online reading blogs.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Did you know?

Did you know?

Peel a banana from the bottom and you won't have to
pick the little 'stringy things' off of it. That's how the primates do it.

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store.
If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.
It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.
Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.
It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of
spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints in double
broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.

Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert. Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15minutes!!! Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummm!

Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

Easy Deviled Egg: Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

Expanding Frosting: When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

Reheating refrigerated bread: To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Newspaper weeds away: Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers, put layers around the plants overlapping as you go cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not get through wet newspapers.

No More Mosquitoes: Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

Squirrel Away! To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come near it. (Wonder if this would work with cats that end up pooping in your flowerbeds?)

Flexible vacuum To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

Reducing Static Cling Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and ... ta da! ... static is gone.(But how do you get static out of your hair? Anyone else have that problem?)

Measuring Cups: Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Foggy Windshield? Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

Reopening envelope: If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily.

Conditioner: Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair. (I did know this trick and I have used it when I was out of shaving cream.)

Goodbye Fruit Flies: To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass,
fill it 1/2' with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Get Rid of Ants: Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it 'home,' can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

INFO ABOUT CLOTHES DRYERS: (This story didn't really happen to me.) The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load clothes.) He told us that he wanted to show us something; he took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material ... I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like. Well ...the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn't go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film, but it's there. It's what is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free ... that nice fragrance too. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box .... well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months.. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How about that!?! Learn something new everyday! I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would do that. So, I thought I'd share!

Note: I went to my dryer and tested my screen by running water on it. The water ran
through a little bit but mostly collected all the water in the mesh screen. I washed it with warm soapy water and a nylon brush and I had it done in 30 seconds. Then when I rinsed it ...the water ran right thru the screen! There wasn't any puddling at all! That repairman knew what he was talking about!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All my Sons

Here's a video from a long, long time ago. This is a video of my son Jim in his skateboarding days and his friends. These boys hung around so much they became like sons to me. Enjoy the video.

The I Quit Video

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good Eats Tonight!

OMG, OMG, OMG! I made the best meal ever tonight for dinner. Now I know that by the standards of all those wonderful cooks on the blogs I love to read; my dinner tonight would be like a frozen tv dinner, but for, it was exquisite!

The sad thing is I didn't take any pictures. It's really hard to take pictures because the only time I have time to cook is around 6pm and there isn't good light in my kitchen. But anyway, I made my normal baked chicken, that wasn't a big deal because I knew how good that was already, mmmmm. I just bake boneless, skinless breast of chicken that has been seasoned with Lawry's seasoning salt, onion powder and garlic powder on both sides, for one hour at 350 degrees. After baking I let it sit in their little foil house, oh yeah, I wrap them all in foil so they are covered and just bake them and let simmer in their own little juices! Once they cool off enough to handle I cut them and shred them up a bit into bite size pieces.

The great part was the potatoes I made. They're from a recipe from Rachael Ray that I watched while I was home recuperating. I actually wrote a post on it already on August 28th. A video is also posted. So you take baby red potatoes, cut them in half, drizzle them with EVOO, salt and pepper them and then lovely caress and massage them and bake them in an oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. OMG, they are heavenly, I could eat a whole bag of them, but actually I got full after 3 of them.

I also tried the green beans roasted this way but found I didn't like them much. I may have to search for another recipe for the ones I have left. I want them to taste like the ones Panda Express serves. Those are crunchy and nutty tasting.

And I also tried making the apple sauce, but I didn't have McIntosh apples, I only had some Red Delicious and they were kind of old and soft so that's why I don't think they got mushy, but they were still really good. Had a nice bite to them and since I didn't have any brown sugar, I just used regular sugar and cinnamon and plain old apple juice, about a cup to the 3 apples I used. I just simmered them for as long as it took to bake the chicken and it was really good. I would love to put them on vanilla ice cream.

So now I'm a happy duckie and since my kitchen is all clean and my fav show HOUSE is over. I'm gonna go wash my face and brush my teethies and read a bit before bed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well, today is a special day for two reasons, and my home is a home sweet home for two reasons. Reason number one for it being a special day is I went back to work today and I stuck it out the whole day although I could tell my butt was dragging by around 3:30pm, and that's what makes the number one reason for home sweet home. It was home sweet home to get home today and I sure missed my afternoon, recuperative nap on the couch *sigh*

Ok, reason number two for it being a special day is today is the day I moved into this house. My escrow closed last year on September 21st which was a Friday and I moved in the next day and spent my first night here that night...and now truly, this little house has become HOME, SWEET HOME!

This has been a very big deal for me. I really didn't know if I was going to be able to make the mortgage payments each month, but I did...and it wasn't all that tough. It was tough, but ...oh what the hell, it was tough, really tough and I guess that's what makes this day so special.

After I bought the house, each time I made a monthly payment I would joke with my loved ones about how I still had somewhere to live for at least another month. Now, with one year under my belt, I can look forward to having somewhere to live another year. From crawling to baby steps, not bad huh?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Old Mother Hubbard's Cupboards

"Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone; but when she came there, the cupboard was bare and so the poor dog had none. " - Mother Goose

Remember this little poem from our childhood? I wonder if kids today still know it?

Anyway the point of this post is not poetry, it's having a full cupboard. Just lookee the yummy dinner I was able to prepare for myself with a full cupboard. Mmmmmmmmm, fresh bread, fresh honey ham, crisp Roma tomatoe and lettuce and a lovely bowtie pasta salad (sans bell pepper cuz the only ones I like are the red ones and they were $1.98 a piece).

My House in Order

I spent the day putting my house in order since this Monday I return to work again. Ever since the first surgery on August 21st I had not been to the grocery store or to Walmart to pickup household items. The cupboards were getting pretty skimpy, not to mention the fridge. It really tired me out though and I'm worried about going to work on Monday, but I'm taking my own car instead of commuting in with my sister in case I get too tired and have to come home...we shall see.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cauliflower Soup

“Explaining something sensible to Lord Killanin is akin to explaining something to a cauliflower. The advantage of the cauliflower is that if all else fails, you can always cover it with melted cheese and eat it.” – William E. Simon

I have not a clue who Lord Killanin is, or why he’s so hard-headed. All I know is that I’m making Cauliflower soup and at least I know that you can always cover it with melted cheese. Anything is better with melted cheese, just like any day with BACON is a good day!

Since I’ve been home recuperating from my surgery I’ve been reading food blogs nonstop! I wish the things I read would stick, but they don’t. Thanks to the magic of bookmarking though, I’ve saved a whole folder of special recipes to try. I especially want to try soups even though I know it’s still 85 degrees outside right now. Let’s just pretend it’s cold and foggy and misty!

This recipe is from here. And it seems so super simple. Actually it looks upon further reading that the writer wants me to try making the soup with butter and with olive oil…oops! I only did butter. Sorry Becks & Posh, next time if it turns out well this time, I’ll try it with olive oil.

The cast of characters, 1 lb. of cauliflower florets, 2 tbsp. butter, 1 small onion chopped, 3 cups water, 2 tsp. salt, pepper as desired

I went pretty much just by the recipe as shown on their website:

In a heavy pan with a lid, I melted butter over a low heat. (Next time I will use much more butter, I think like 4 tbsp because I love it real buttery.) Then I added the onion and cooked gently, it did get a little brown on me but I think that gave the soup a richer, nutty sweet taste.

Then I added the cauliflower florets, the salt (next time more salt, maybe another tsp.) and I put in a whole cup of water because it seemed like too much cauliflower to me. I then covered and cooked it for 20 minutes, exactly.

After 20 minutes, I removed the lid and added 2 ½ cups water and simmered on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring gently every once in a while. I got so excited after the 20 minutes that I forgot to take pictures of it during this time and during the cooling process (just let it slightly cool). I also didn't take pictures during the blending process, but puree in the blender (next time, I will not puree as I like it chunky, it kinda had the consistency of Cream of Wheat).

But at least I took a picture of it before I ate it all. That's it in the little red bowl, sprinkled with pepper, next time I would cook the pepper with it for flavor as well. But all in all, it was pretty good. I would serve it in a bread bowl with shredded cheese and some paprika.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Store-bought Dresses of my Youth or (What a Selfish Child Was I?)

I was reading a super funny blog today that I’ve been reading for a couple of days now. See I’m anal and when I read one I like I have to go way back to the very first posting they wrote to find out why they started blogging and then continue on to the present in an attempt to get to know them better before I just start up reading in the very middle of their lives. I’m kind of just as anal about movies because I can’t just start watching one in the middle and I can’t miss any words, so if I can’t rewind them to hear every single word then I just won’t watch it.

Anyway, more about my OCD later, for right now I was reading this. The writer, Tammy writes, “When I was a little girl, I remember my mom going to great pains to make birthday cakes for my sister and me. By most reasonable standards, they were whimsical and delicious. Birthdays were one of the only times I was allowed to have sugar, so I should have been grateful. Instead, I was pissed. The cake didn’t look at all like the ones at the grocery store, or the ones at every other birthday party I attended. I felt cheated.”

It brought back memories of my childhood and the dresses that my mom would sew with so much love and detail for me and my sister. Sometimes she would sew the same exact dress for herself too and we would all go to church matching. It seems so sweet and loving and mommyish to me now. But back then I was pissed! I didn’t want home made dresses; I wanted the store-bought dresses my cousin Elpedia wore. I felt cheated!

Elpedia was blessed (I thought) with a mom who bought her beautiful, girlish, pink, chiffon and satin dresses with ribbons and lace, while I wore stupid cotton frocks that tied in the back and matched my little sister. I wanted “vestidos de la tienda”.

How selfish and childish were we when we were children, or was it just me that was selfish? I guess that’s why they called us children isn’t it? Now I see that my dresses were made by my mom’s loving hands, created in her head and heart by her love for us. No store bought dress could ever compete with that.

My daughter April was fortunate to have received many of these "labors of love" from my mom. I have pictures and pictures of her in dresses made by my mom, but what I don't have is a stinking scanner! I did take the first picture below by taking a picture with my camera of a picture hanging on my wall. April is the oldest grandchild (she's 27 now) and she's wearing a red velvet Christmas dress made for her by her Nana. April was probably about 2 in this picture.

The next picture is of the youngest and probably last grandchild my mom will ever have, Melissa. Melissa is also blessed to have received home-made, love-made dresses from Nana such as the Dora the Explorer sundress she's wearing that her daddy is trying to fluff up for the picture. My mom was not only talented but she's in the swing of things and knows who Dora the Explorer is, plus she thinks Melissa looks like Dora. Oh...and the chili pepper curtains you see to the right in Melissa's pictures were also made by my mom, because you just can't find chili pepper curtains and she's the Queen of the Chili Colorado!

And the girls in the family weren't the only ones to benefit from my mom's love and talent for sewing. In the next picture is my son Jim, her oldest grandson who is now 23. She sewed this Babe Ruth costume for him for a play at school where he had to be, what else? Babe Ruth. He still remembers this costume and I'm sure I have it tucked away somewhere in a box, as I do many other things, but that's a whole different OCD/packrat story for later.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The aftermath, not of Ike but of Shariat

No, I'm not talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, I'm talking about Hurricane Shariat...Dr. Shariat to be precise! He really kicked my butt and left me reeling.

Ferocious Hurricane Shariat ripped off the old scars on my throat on Thursday, September 11th and scrambled to remove the right side of my thyroid. Shariat bore down on the right side after raging just a few weeks earlier on the left side and leaving a devastating scar. "This last assault was quite severe," said Alicia resident of the throat area devastated by Shariat. "There is a lot of pain and nausea. The throat and nerves and muscle in the surrounding area are being damaged and my energy level is coming down."

OK, so just a little exaggeration about my surgery using a current event, Hurricane Ike. The devastation Ike left is very serious, but then again so is the devastation of my 2nd surgery as witnessed by the two photos that follow. I warn you the photo's you are about to view may be extremely disturbing and viewer discretion is advise :-)

Not really. I mean they're not beautiful, but they're not THAT bad. Judge for yourself. If you're thinking when you view these photos that it looks painful...that's because it IS!

As bad as these photos look, this scar will not even be noticeable unless you are looking for it and know the person has had this type of surgery.

I'm not going to go into detail anymore about the surgery, recovery, etc. Suffice it to say that it wasn't fun and it's not anything I ever want to go through again, but other than maybe posting some pictures later of my healing I just want to get over it and go on with my life!

I've had a lot of support during all of this and I just want to say thank you to everyone that was there for me and with me during the surgery, my daughter April, my sister Lisa, my mom Tomasa, my dad Federico, my brother Fred, my brother-in-law Sean, my aunt & godmother Casimera, my brother Jaime, and my son Jim. I want to thank my many visitors, both in the hospital and at home, my sister-in-law Connie, my niece Sarena, my nieces Alicia and Beatriz and Melissa, my nephew Freddie, my sister-in-law Norma, my friend Angelica, and my nephew Isaac. Thanks also to my many relatives who prayed for me and put me on prayer lists in their church and sent cards and flowers. Special thanks to Tia Ninfa for the beautiful card and the oracion and photo of Nuestra Senora de la Salud.

A special thank you to my wonderful mommy who just drove up like clockwork to fix me breakfast and just take care of me. There are no words to describe how wonderful, loving and self-less my mother is. I love you mom!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cheesy Tater-Topped Chili

Rachael Ray makes a great chili topped with mashed potatoes. Great for super bowl or a cold winters day. Almost like my meatloaf pie but easier to make.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What? Surgery again?

Yep, that's right, dammit! I haven't even finished completing my harrowing tale of the last surgery and Monday when I went to the doctor he told me he has to do the surgery again and take out the whole thyroid and the rest of the masses that are there. I think there are three. He said the lab results show that it is cancerous so it's all got to come out. And my incision from the last time was just starting to heal!!!

So here I go again! Tomorrow at 7am it all starts again. At least this time I know what I'm getting into. Last time I was pretty worried about pain afterwards and how bad it would be, but now I know about those happy drugs that they give you in the hospital!

Well, I guess we'll just have to wait til I get back home and then hopefully I can finish the tale of the last surgery and start in on the new one.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Jim's 23rd Birthday, August 19

Next in the birthday line is my son Jim who turned 23 this year. Here are some random pictures of his birthday.

Fred lighting the candles. Jim has helpers, Little Fred and Melissa.

I love the look on Jim and Little Fred's faces. I don't remember what was being said but Melissa was obviously distracted!

Make a wish Jim!

Yay! He can still blow out the candles. He's not really only 5 years old, but we didn't want the smoke alarms going

And tradition dictates each baby in the family gets to blow out the candles again...lucky Melissa!

Showing off a birthday present from his Aunt "Nina" Lisa. She bought him a pair of shoes. Jim loved them and he's pretty picky when it comes to shoes!

Thank you Nina!

Jim and his beloved Nana! Happy 23rd Birthday Jim!

Alicia Birthday Video's

I love that my camera takes video's too. I want my family to watch these and notice how loud and obnoxious they are! My family, gotta love them, they're a bunch of chiefs and absolutely no indians.

Barely Legal, Happy 18th Birthday Alicia

We have several birthday's in August, my nieces Alicia and Sarena and my son Jim. Here's some random pictures of Alicia's birthday. Her date of birth was August 9th...I think.

The beautiful birthday girl and her baby brother Fred Jr.

The birthday girl grabbed my camera at some point and did a couple of self portraits. Digital cameras are soooooooo much fun!

I caught the girls heading home. These are their scary faces!
And this is the Alarcon family Just kidding, it was just a joke Fred, you didn't show your girls to do this!

I love, love, love this one! I just wish Melissa had been clothed! But they look so beautiful! Doesn't Bebe just have the dreamiest look on her face? Happy 18th Birthday Alicia! Always remember you became legal the year your Tia Ale became 1/2 a century!

Jim's Light and Fluffy Scrambled Eggs

I didn't know that my kid could cook. I guess he's been making these scrambled eggs for many years but he's never shared them with me. Hey, I guess this is another plus to having surgery, because he actually cooked for me. I have to say these were the best scrambled eggs I've ever had!

These two pictures show how light and fluffy they are. Don't you love our china? Foam paper plates!

And here's a picture of my eggs fully dressed with ketchup, salt and pepper...mmmmmmmm. Trust me, they were super good! Thank you Jim!

Cheesecake Fiasco

For my birthday this year, my boss baked a cheesecake for me that was "to die for". There was a small piece left so I brought it home for my son Jim. He loved it! So much so that he said that was what he wanted for his birthday instead of birthday cake. His birthday was August 19th and my energy level was really, really low at that point, so I told him I would bake it after my surgery. So that's what I did today.

Here's the recipe and then I'll tell you what I did wrong!

1 1/4 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 lb butter

2 eggs
1 lb. Cream Cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla

1/2 pt. Sour Cream
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla

Filling, bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Topping bake 5 minutes at 375 degrees.

Ok, so I did all pretty good up to baking the filling. I took the cake out of the oven and immediately tried to pour the topping on top of the filling as I didn't have any actual instructions. I should have let the filling cool for 15 or 20 minutes, then poured the topping on top. So the way I did it, the topping just went plop, into the middle of the cake. I'm still waiting for it to cool off so we can taste it. I assume it will still taste good but we won't get topping in every bite and in some bites we will get nothing but topping! :-(

Here's some pictures. Looks like a big foot in the middle huh? I'll let you know how it tastes.

Ok, here's a slice. It didn't set up real well, but I think that's due to the fact that the filling is so heavy and it wasn't spread out. But let me tell tastes so gooooooooood. It's pretty sweet, so one small slice per person would be more than enough. I can't wait to make it again and have it come out the right way. The crust was really good. My son said it tasted kind of salty so maybe I'll use unsalted butter next time, but it was crispy and good.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ice Cream Cone Cupcake

A cupcake...baked in an ice cream cone. I found this on this website and it seems like this is an ages old idea, but I had never heard of it or had one. I think they would be great for kids party's or just for fun. I want to try them.

read more digg story

I also think this is such a great idea. It makes me want to have little kids again so that I can throw a party and make this.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Is My Energy Level Back? (Part Two)

When we last heard from me in the continuing saga (see... ) I had gone through all the testing and the doctor had told me surgery was now a reality and the date was scheduled. My family still didn't know at this point, only my sister because well frankly, I tell her everything. I didn't want anyone worrying prematurely or asking me everyday, have you talked to the doctor? what did he say? how are you feeling? etc, etc.

So the family gets told. One funny but cute and sweet thing that was said was by my brother Fred. I was talking to him on the phone giving him the date of the surgery when he said he was going to take the day off. I told him that wasn't necessary, I would be ok and I knew my mom and dad, my sister and my kids were going to be there. My brother replied, "No Alicia, I have to be there, you never know, sometimes people just don't wake up after surgery". I mean if you think about it, if I wasn't worried by then I sure would be worried after having someone tell me I might not wake up :-) But I knew he meant it in a good way, not to scare me but to let me know that if that day was going to be my last one on this earth, he was going to share it with me and with my family. I love you brother!

My mom was a big comfort because she had already been through this and had her complete thyroid taken out. Thankfully she's been fine ever since then. So I knew that I was going to be ok too. But I still worried, especially about my kids and what would happen to them if I died.

My sister Lisa commutes with me to work everyday, so we have 30 minutes in the morning and in the evening to talk during the drive. My poor sister, I kept her crying coming and going because I would tell her what I wanted or what needed to be done if I did die! We talked about what kind of funeral I wanted and what clothes I wanted to be buried in. I'm sorry sis, but I knew you would take care of everything. Love you lots too.

So, I tell my coworkers and let them know that I will more than likely be back to work on Wednesday of the following week as the surgeon says it won't take more than a couple of days to recuperate. They schedule the surgery at 5am! 5am...why in the heck would anyone want to get operated on at 5am? Well I didn't know it but actually the surgery was scheduled for 7:30am, the patient just has to get there early for all the pre-op junk.

I get to the hospital with my entourage and things moved pretty fast. They did the blood pressure checking thing, temperature check, blood sugar check and pulse. I was fine so they tell me it's time to go up to the pre-op room and that there is a waiting room there for my family. We start to go to the elevator when the nurse tells us that there is another family coming with us. At the elevator there is a man in a bed and his wife...oh wait, I forgot to mention this part earlier. We'll come back to the elevator story in a second...

Earlier while they were doing all their checking, they asked me if I had an Advanced Health Care Directive. This is a form that (1) lets you name another individual as agent to make health care decisions for you if you become incapable of making them yourself; (2) lets you give specific instructions about any aspect of your health care, whether or not you appoint an agent. Choices are provided for you to express your wishes regarding the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of treatment to keep you alive, as well as the provision of pain relief. Well I didn't have the directive, so they give you a copy and tell you that it must be witnessed by two other random people, it can't be anyone you are related to or any employee of the health care facility you are at. So the nurse suggested I just ask people in the waiting room! Ummm, just random strangers? How do you just walk up to random strangers and tell them you need them to witness your signature on a document this important? It's quite easy actually because that is what I did, and the two ladies that were in the waiting room that morning were ok with it. The ladies were Cindy and Sarah, God Bless those ladies! They witnessed my signature, signed the form, with their names, addresses and phone numbers...I assume that information was necessary in case anyone fought against the directives I had requested. Those poor, unsuspecting ladies might actually have had to go to court and verify their signature and their part in all this...amazing! Either they weren't thinking that far ahead or at 5:30am no one really pays attention :-)

But anyway....back to the Elevator. Remember I said there is a man in a bed there and his wife? Well guess who his wife is? It's the same lady...Sarah...that signed my advanced directive. Small world isn't it. We all pile into the elevator, which was a tight fit with a bed, a nurse, the wife Sarah, my mom and dad, my daughter, my sister and my brother. The man looks up at all these Mexicans standing around his bed and my brother says, "We're all here for you brother". It was a touching and yet funny as heck moment. We all laughed and felt much better and we found out he was having a quadruple heart bypass or something like that, however many bypasses there are...he was having the limit.

We all pile out of the elevator and the nurse takes us all up to the pre-op section and points out the waiting room for the families. I start to walk off following the nurse and my sister grabs me to hug me and she's crying and I tell her, "don't worry, I'll be right back", (I have not a clue yet what's going on). The nurse says, "no, you're not coming back, they will see you after recovery". The good thing about being clueless is it didn't give me much time for big, tearful goodbyes. It was just a quick hug, love you's and see you in a while! I follow the nurse and Mr. Heart Bypass man and off we go.

This is the real pre-op room. My nurse there gives me a plastic bag with a gown and booties, she asks me to remove ALL my clothes, including underwear, put my shoes in the smaller plastic bag and then put all my clothes in the bigger plastic bag and then lie down on the bed and she will be back to put in my IV. (Honestly...why do you have to remove your panties? Do you know how naked and uncomfortable it is to not wear panties? Yuk!)

So she comes and puts in my IV smooth as silk. I say this because it took three nurses some 5 tries to get the IV in Mr. Heart Bypass man!! Poor guy. He was in the bed next to me. So I'm laying there and they let my mom and my daughter in and they wait with me til it's time for the main event. From there, I don't remember anything. In fact I don't remember them actually leaving. I don't know at what point they gave me something to either relax me or knock me out, but I don't remember anything else after that.

Next thing I do remember is feeling really super groggy, almost like I'm dreaming and I hear my surgeon, Dr. Shariat calling my name and asking me if I can talk. I say yes or mumble or something and there is so much joy in his voice when he says, "Alicia...see, you can talk!" Now I know that when he was going over the dangers of the surgery with me, he did mention that in very rare occasions the patient may lose the ability to speak, something with the vocal cords being so close to that area, but he made it sound like a very unlikely thing. But even in my drugged up state, Dr. Shariat sounded pretty damn relieved that I could talk...hmmm, maybe its not quite as rare as he led me to believe?

Anyway, I remember a nurse telling me, "hold still honey, we're going to take the tube out of your nose". What? Tube in my nose? When did they put a tube in my nose? What other tubes did they stick in me? Well actually...that one and the draining tube they put under the incision were the only ones. The draining tube was left in til the day I left the hospital. It was kind of cool too because it had this little heart shaped plastic bag about the size of my fist that fit into the pocket of my hospital gown and it was filled with bloody discharge...Oooo, cool huh?

I remember having an oxygen mask on my face and that was the worse part of this whole was so clammy and moist and hot and I hated it! It made me feel like I was suffocating and my face felt all greasy and gross, Ugghhhh, just thinking it about it now makes me feel like throwing up! But eventually that came off and I'm just laying there in this big room. Because I have all this stuff around my face and neck, I guess so that I don't move, all I can see is the nurse's desk and I have to pee like a son-of-a-gun! I tell the nurse and she brings me a bed pan. I'm not too thrilled with the idea of a bedpan, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. So I did the best I could and it was awful. I won't go into detail, but anyone that has ever used a bedpan will know what a humiliating, warm, wet, yucky feeling a bed pan can give you. Anyway, they remove the bed pan, clean me up and let my daughter come in to see me.

I was really groggy and don't remember if it was her and my mom, or her and someone else, but I do remember my daughter was there. Then she left and I had to pee again! See, there is just no way you can totally empty your bladder when you are laying down. So I tell the nurse again and they do the bedpan thing again and it's awful again! I finish and they clean me up again and then my daughter comes back and tells me that my other brother Jaime is there and he wants to see me because he has to leave as his oldest daughter, my niece Sarena had been in a car accident while I was in surgery. She was in her car on her way to buy her schools books for her first term at college and she accelerated when the light turned green and a GET bus driver ran a red light and hit her! Can you imaine that! April told me that Sarena was ok, but that Jaime wanted to come in and see me real quick because he had to leave to go be with his daughter, who was ok, just bumped up and possibly a broken arm. So I remember my baby brother coming in. I don't know what silliness I said to him because I don't remember much, but I know he was there!

So Jaime and my daughter leave and damn if I don't have to pee again! Anyone who knows me knows that I have a bladder the size of a pea. I can just look at water and I have to pee. I did have an IV in me with that watery stuff they give you, I forget the name but you know it has all the vitamins and minerals and crap in it, so I'm sure that was why I had to go so often. I think the nurse is a little put-out by my having to go so often so she puts the bed pan under me and she tells me, "now honey (don't you love the way they all call you honey?), now have to empty your bladder really well". Well I get a little tearful and I tell her..."I can't, I try but I can't when I'm laying down". So she says, "ok...we're going to help you up on the potty (yep, she said potty) and that way you can empty your bladder ok?"

What the heck? She's going to sit me up? Doesn't she know I just had surgery and all my innards could come rushing out of my neck? But I guess they know what they're doing and I'm just a sheep when I'm in a hospital, tell me what to do and I'll just do it. So they help me up, and it's really not too bad, none of my innards are rushing out of my neck wound or anything like that. So they leave me sitting there at the edge of the bed on the potty and I think I took a nap or something because I wake up and my bladder is empty and I'm tired of sitting up. I can't yell cause my throat hurts, so how do I get the nurse since the curtain is drawn? And now that I'm thinking about this, was this a good idea? What if I had passed out? Or some innards had started leaking out? I could have gone head first onto the floor, innards everywhere!

Gosh almighty! So I reach behind me and grab the pillow on the bed and start flinging it in front of me and nurse's come a running! They clean me up and lay me back down...ahhhh, relief! So finally, I guess I'm stabilized, my family says I was in recovery 3 or 4 hours. They take me to my room.
To be continued.....Part Three...the hospital room.