Thursday, November 29, 2007

When in doubt, check it out

We got our bill for my hospital stay. When we saw it we were a little surprised. We have an EPO where our co-pay for inpatient hospital visits should be $150 with 100% covered after that. But the bill was for $506.

I called today to check it out.

The first guy told me that the bill was right. That the $506 was our % we had to pay. I didn't know exactly what our plan was, so I hung up and called Matt. He said that was wrong since 100% was supposed to be covered after the initial $150.

So I called again.

The next lady was just as clueless as the first guy, but when I explained what I understood our coverage to be, she transferred me to a claims resolution dept.

After taking one look at the statement, that lady said, "Oh, they definitely read this wrong and charged you incorrectly. You're supposed to only be charged a one time $150 co-pay. They charged you $150 for every day you were there."

So, the moral of my story is: when in doubt, check it out. If it seems you're paying too much for something, you just might be.

(Oh, and they charged us $56 for being in a private room. The hospital only offered private rooms. Don't get me wrong, given a choice of a shared room that's 100% covered or upgrading to a private for $56, I'd have chosen the private room, but it seems odd that they don't cover a private room when private rooms are the only option in the hospital!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Looks like who?

I personally think he looks most like Grandpa Brasfield's baby picture. I wish I had baby pictures of all of my siblings, though, so we could make a fair comparison. (Scroll over for names)

Monday, November 26, 2007

5 weeks post op

Well, it's been 5 weeks since I had my little Dean. I had my six week check up today and everything looks good. I'm 3 lbs. from my starting weight, but my body doesn't quite look it. But what can I expect when I had major surgery and can't exercise yet? Sometime soon I'll be able to work on flattening the pooch. It could be worse.

Dean's doing better. He's still pretty fussy, but we figured out at least one reason he was crying soooo much. After reading the Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, we realized he was tired beyond tired as well as overstimulated. He has a really hard time falling asleep if anything else is going on around him. So, he's not one of those babies that just falls asleep when he's tired. We've been working on noticing his tired signs from the outset and try putting him down immediately. It doesn't always work, and sometimes it takes him 30+ min. to fall asleep, but he's been much better with the extra sleep. He also has gas that contributes to his fussiness. I think my holiday eating has agreed with his stomach.

But enough of this blab. Lets get to the pictures. The pictures in the green shirt are from today. (I love the one where it looks like he's dancing.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Curses...but I guess I'll still give thanks

Well, the Brasfields are notorious for having car trouble on Thanksgiving. You'd think we'd be exempt from that curse this year since we were not planning on driving any more than the 2 miles to Walmart and back. Yeah. Matt went to get some foil and had to call me from a pay phone when our car wouldn't start. Dead as a doornail.

Since we only have the one car, I had to call our friends to go pick him up or give him a jump. Luckily the car was jump-able, but even after letting it run for half an hour, it wouldn't restart once turned off. Dangity, dang, dang. My father-in-law said it could either just be our battery or it could be our alternator. I think it's been about 3 years since we changed our battery last, so it's possible that's it. Then again, this car is falling apart and I wouldn't be surprised if it were the alternator (or both).

So, we're going to try and fix it. On the upside, I am thankful this is going to help expedite our new car search. We've put it off because it's a bit overwhelming and we really don't know anything about cars or what we want. That means a lot of research. But I think we're shooting to find a new car before the year is over. That means furniture will have to wait. But I don't mind. I'd love to have a new car.

After looking online until about 1:30 AM, we are considering getting some sort of SUV crossover. Not an SUV. Not a mini-van. Not a compact. It's either going to be a crossover or a large sedan. Maybe a Toyota Rav4. That was looking fairly decent last night. We originally thought we'd get a lightly used car and buy it outright, but we've noticed that the cars that will suit our purposes and last awhile (even lightly used) are still quite pricey. So for the first time in our lives we're going to have a car payment.

My other Thanksgiving curse: my pumpkin pie was too salty. Blast it! Without thinking I used kosher salt in my filling since I had it out for my crust. After I dumped it in I knew I'd made a mistake. But I hoped it wasn't going to be too noticeable. It wasn't HORRIBLE, but it wasn't good. So I think it's headed for the trash. Last year I had a pumpkin pie mishap as well. I had a major miagrain when I was making my pies last year and I forgot my crust made two crusts, but my filling made 1 filling. I split it in half. It tasted good, but the pies were so thin!! Haha. I guess even good cooks can have an off day. Or item.

My pecan pie, on the other hand, turned out splendidly as did the rest of the dinner. (Thanks for coming and bringing your goods Erin and Christian!)

Oh, and the other little blessing for the day: Dean slept through the whole dinner and almost through our entire game of Settlers of Catan!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

In all things give thanks.

When everything in life is a gift from God (from the air we breath to the ones we love), it's hard to verbalize my gratitude sufficiently. Here are a few things I am most grateful for today.

  1. My husband who is a source of great strength for me.
  2. My son who recently joined our family. He was worth the wait and prayers.
  3. The Doctors and technology that made it possible for him to join our family.
  4. My parents and siblings as well as my extended family. I'm extremely sad to miss out on the huge family gathering this weekend for my Grandma's birthday celebration.
  5. Good friends from all stages of my life.
  6. The ability to keep in touch with friends and family I can't see on a daily (or yearly!) basis.
  7. A house to live in.
  8. My husband's job and the opportunity it affords me to stay home with our baby.
  9. Food to eat.
  10. Public toilets* that flush, have doors on the stalls (and actual toilets in the stalls rather than a trough!), provide toilet paper, and soap and water to wash hands.
*Though it's been almost 7 years since I lived in China, #10 is still quite important and amazing to me.*

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A cute Thanksgiving Craft

Since many of you have young children, I thought I'd link this cute turkey craft page of my friend Emily. You can do it with your kids or by yourself if you need some new fall decorations. The instructions are here from Martha Stewart Living.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The holiday at hand: The Menu

Turkey Time
Alton Brown's Good Eats Turkey (recipe link)
Last year we discovered the delights of brining the turkey. Sure it adds an extra step, but oh is it worth it! Additionally, the use of a digital probe thermometer is absolutely ESSENTIAL for not over or under cooking the turkey. We didn't use the candied ginger or the allspice, and I don't think the aromatics really added much, but the rest was superb. We used our camping food chest to hold the brine.

We've always done a small (but whole) turkey, even though it's just the two of us. But neither of us eats dark meat, and truthfully I don't eat a whole lot of white meat. And I think boiling the carcass for soup was one of the most disgusting byproducts of Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is one thing I don't think I'll ever be able to do with meat/bones... So this year we thought we'd buy just the turkey breast with ribs. We'll still brine and follow the same general process set out by Alton, but it will just be a lot quicker. Less waste. We'll see how it turns out.

To dress or stuff?
I myself prefer dressing. I don't like the idea of eating something that's been stuffed inside the skeleton of something else. It's the same thing, just in a side dish.

My family's traditional dressing is a cornbread stuffing. Honestly, growing up, the look of it kind of grossed me out. I like it well enough now, but I think I prefer a white bread dressing. I haven't yet found my perfect recipe, so this year will be another new creation. Last year I made sourdough stuffing from scratch. It was pretty good, but this year I will use french bread.

I don't want apples or sweet things in it. I will omit sausage if the recipe calls for it. I just want it to be bread, vegetables, broth and seasonings. I think I might just try this one.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
A must have from scratch. Russet Potatoes. I wanted to buy a potato ricer this year, but Matt says he likes a few lumps here and there. So they will be mashed rustic home style by hand. Since we'll have no drippings this year due to our turkey change, we'll have to make a gravy out of chicken broth, a roux from butter and flour, and seasonings. We've done this before and it's worked nicely.

Green Bean Casserole
This was a Bras(s) fam. addition since I never had it growing up. I enjoy its presence on the table.

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE—serves 4 grown people
¾ C. milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (16 oz. or so) bag frozen green beans, thawed (can also used canned, but I prefer frozen)
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 can French fried onions

Mix together milk, soup and pepper. Stir in beans. Stir in some of the onions, but keep some out for the topping added at the end of baking. Bake in a casserole dish on 350* for 20 min. or until it is hot and bubbling. Top with remaining onions and bake 5 min. longer or until crispy.

No Rock, just Rolls
I think we've done rolls differently every year. I've made my mom's wheat rolls, regular white rolls, frozen rolls, etc. I haven't decided yet what I will do this year. Mom's are really good though, so I'll put down the recipe.

2 ½ C. warm water
2 Tbsp yeast
½ C. sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 C. oil
2 eggs, beaten
4 C. wheat flour
3 ½ C. white flour
butter melted to dip

1. Mix the yeast and a little sugar into the water. Let sit about 10 min. or until bubbly. Add the rest of the sugar, salt, oil, and eggs. Mix with an electric hand mixer.
2. Add the flour in one cup at a time, starting with the wheat flour. Use the hand mixer for the wheat and knead in the white. Put in a clean, oiled bowl. Let it rise once to double (about an hour). Punch it down and roll out thin.
3. Cut out circles with a cup. Dip ½ of the circle in the butter, place on a greased baking sheet and fold over to make a half moon shape. Let them rise until double and bake in a preheated oven at 350* for 15 min.

Something for the Pie Hole
I have tried many pie crust recipes. Butter crusts, butter-shortening crusts, shortening crusts. You name it, I've tried it. I think the most frustrating part of pie crust making is the water. Recipes always say to use as little water as possible, just until it sticks together in a ball. Unfortunately, this often leaves people with a crumbly mess because they don't put enough liquid in. It's always better to use a little too much water than not enough. I promise.

I got the best crust recipe from my friend Pam this year. I was surprised to see the recipe because it was an all shortening crust (which I generally don't prefer). The last few years I've gone to shortening-butter crusts, but this year I'll replace it with Pam's recipe. It's different from other shortening recipes because it includes vinegar, an egg, and enough water. It makes 3 crusts at a time, so you can either freeze the extra or make a couple pies! The only thing I altered was the salt. Her recipe didn't call for any, and since there's no salted butter in it, I really think it a necessary addition. The crust was flakey, hearty, easy to work with, and baked up beautifully. This year I will make 3 pies because I will have 3 crusts.

Pam's Pie Crust

This recipie makes enough crust for 3 pies.
5 cups flour
2 cups shortening
1 TBSP vinegar
1 cup water
1 egg, beaten
1 1\2 tsp salt (I always use kosher salt when baking)

Combine flour, salt and shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix together, vinegar, water, and egg then add to flour mixture. Mix until just blended and forms a nice ball. Separate into 3 equal sections. Form each 1/3 into a ball. Place between two sheets of waxed paper and flatten into a disk by hand. If it seems a little sticky, sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough and lightly rub to cover. Continue to roll out in a circle with a rolling pin. Flip you pie pan upside down and roll the crust 2 in. bigger than the lip of the pan. Place in pie pan. Be sure to poke holes in bottom of crust.

1. Pumpkin Pie. Brasfield's recipe. A must. I'm using fresh sugar pumpkin. A question arose on my sister's blog about using large pumpkins for pies. I have used large pumpkins and it works great too. I truthfully didn't notice a difference in taste. The large pumpkins take longer to bake since they're about twice as thick. And you'll have tons of pumpkin. But that's not a bad thing since it freezes well. Both sugar pumpkins and large pumpkins are noticably better than canned. I was shocked to see the difference in color, smell, and taste when I compared canned and fresh pumpkin side by side. Canned isn't horrible, just not as good.

To cook fresh pumpkin:
So, cut the top off, clean out the pumpkin, cut it into chunks and cook it on a cookie sheet at about 350 for an hour or more (depending on the thickness) until it's tender. Peel off the skin and puree in the blender or food processor with a little bit of milk.

Pumpkin Pie filling:
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 can evaporated milk
2 C pumpkin puree (canned or fresh-if canned, make sure it's not pumpkin pie filling, just pumpkin)

Combine the pumpkin with the milk and other liquid ingredients. Add all the other ingredients and whisk or beat well until smooth. It will be very runny, but that is how it should be at this point. Pour into an unbaked pie crust. Cover the crust (not the whole pie, just the crust) with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 425* for 15 min. Without opening the oven, reduce temperature to 350* and bake for 45 min. Take the foil off the last 10 min. or so of baking.

2. Pecan Pie. Waterman's recipe. I've had a lot of bad pecan pies, but my mom's recipe is great. Very rich, but not too runny or gloppy or anything.

3 eggs
2/3 C. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C. melted butter
1 C corn syrup
1 1/2 C. pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 375*. Beat the first 5 ingredients together. Place pecans on the bottom of an unbaked pie crust and pour liquid mixture on top of the pecans. Bake 45 min. (You might want to put foil under the pie pan to catch any drips.

3. Some new creation. I love watching the Food Network pie bake off, and think it would be awesome to come up with a great new creation to compete with in the competition. Past Thanksgivings I've made coconut cream pie (I'm not so good at those. The custard is hard to master.), and I've also tried buttermilk pie (a favorite of my sister's family), but it was just a little too rich for me. I made an apple pie a couple months ago, so I don't think I'll do that (but I do have a great apple pie recipe if anyone wants it).

So I'm looking for a good new creation. Something I've never made before. Anyone have a good suggestion? In reality, I'll probably not have time for the third pie, but I wouldn't mind finding a great new recipe.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas confession

I generally am a vocal advocate for starting the Christmas season (i.e. music and decorations) the day after Thanksgiving. I think Thanksgiving is an important and often overlooked holiday. Once Halloween is over (and sometimes before) stores clear out their fall items and move immediately on to Christmas, skipping that holiday in between. Costco had their Christmas items stocked and out in August! So, I try to create a little space in my life for the Thanksgiving holiday.

But I have to confess.

I started listening to Christmas music yesterday. I think I just needed a little extra cheer since I have a cry-some baby. It helps. He seems to like it too. At least his crying subsided a bit when I had it on. (He also seems to like the Remember the Titans soundtrack.)

Since it's on my mind (and on my computer--Pandora's the greatest) I'll let you in on what I like in the way of Christmas listening.

My favorites are the classics:
Ella Fitzgerald
Bing Crosby
Nat King Cole
Luis Armstrong
Frank Sinatra
Big Band Christmas
Perry Como

Now, I didn't really grow up on any of these. I mostly associate Mannheim Steamroller and the Vienna Boys Choir with Christmas at my parents'. I first got hooked on Big Band and these classics my freshman year of college. One of my roommates had the CD Ella Fitzgerald wishes you a swinging Christmas. Her version of Jingle Bells may be my favorite Christmas song. After getting hooked on that CD I went out and bought the other artists' Christmas CDs from her Era. Love it. The "swinging" songs make me the happiest and get my toes a tapping.

I also like to throw in:
SheDaisy (I have to admit I fought my roommates on this one a little because they're "country". But I soon became converted and 6 years later it's one of my most listened to Christmas albums.)
Jackson 5

Pandora does an excellent job of adding other artists to my list. I may not even bust out my actual CDs this year because of that website.

Oh and by the way

When Matt found out I'd started listening to Christmas music he gave me the "how dare you" head shake and said, "It's not even Thanksgiving yet!"

He believes that the Christmas season starts 2 weeks prior to Christmas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Resistance is futile

Unfortunately it seems Dean takes after me in the sleeping department. He fights it. He'll have one eye closed and one eye slightly open for an hour, unwilling to submit himself fully to his sleepiness. Or his eyes will droop, droop, droop, and he appears asleep when BAM! His eyes shoot open wide and he cries. I don't know why he fights it. Sleep is when he seems the happiest. He even has what appears to be an occasional smile...

My mom said that I stopped taking naps all together by the time I was 1 year. How dare I! I always had a hard time falling asleep. In high school I could lay in bed for hours tired but unable to sleep. It wasn't until I got married that I learned to fall asleep within minutes of laying down.

Matt, on the other hand, has always loved sleeping. He can fall asleep within seconds of hitting the pillow. If only Dean were like his daddy in this regard. Sleep will eventually have to come. Why fight it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Too much too soon

I was afraid it was too soon. Though I am ready, Dean was not.

I tried teaching piano lessons yesterday. He was sooo tired but would not go to sleep because of everything else that was going on. So what did he do during the 2 hours? Cried. A lot.

So I learned my lesson. I'm not just on my time schedule anymore. I have to think about someone else.

I'm pushing back my other lessons until at least after Thanksgiving. They might end up being pushed back until after Christmas. Really I wouldn't mind doing that, but I feel bad affecting 13 other people like that. But who's most important to me right now? Dean. So, one step at a time I guess. I can only do what I can do. And that's less than what I used to be able to do. I need to get used to that for now.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mana from Heaven

You know, I think the LDS church organization and community are quite amazing.

Before I had my baby I had our compassionate service coordinator (a person in charge of coordinating service for people in need) send an email to the ward asking if anyone had a swing we could borrow for awhile (to see if Dean was a swinger). We didn't want to throw down a lot of money on an item that he may or may not like and will grow out of fairly quickly. I had people (some I didn't even know) email me, more than willing to lend me their $140 Papasan swing! AMAZING.

And then there's the meal thing. When people are sick, moving, having babies, etc. other people sign up to bring meals to them. These people generally aren't relatives, nor are they always close/best friends (though sometimes they are). However, we feel we need to look after each other (even if we are just acquaintances) because we're a part of the same ward family. It's such a blessing since many of us don't have relatives close by. It makes me feel watched over and cared for.

Matt felt a little bad that people were bringing us meals the few days just after my parents left since I was recovering fairly well and he's an able bodied soul. I know we could have made it on our own, but it was quite a blessing to have one less thing to worry about for a few days at least. I figure sometimes we give and sometimes we receive.

When we got home from the store today we had a message on our machine saying someone was bringing us food tonight. We hadn't expected it, but it was much appreciated! Ribs, salad, rolls, and a DELICIOUS pumpkin dessert. Like mana from heaven. A very nice surprise. Not only that, they also brought gifts for Dean! HOW NICE!!

So thank you ward. Thanks for the great meals, service, pumpkin bread (thanks Emily!), gifts, friendship, and swing. I appreciate it and am in awe of your generosity.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Here we come chubs

We took Dean in for his 2 week wellness check up and he's gained a whole pound in 2 weeks! He now weighs 9 lbs. 7 oz! The doctor kept stressing that 1 lb. in that short of a time was a lot. What can I say? My mom said by her children's 6 week check ups they'd almost doubled in weight. We produce eaters I guess.

We've been a little concerned about him being slightly tongue tied. His frenulum looks pretty tight (I haven't seen him stick his tongue out beyond his lip), but it obviously hasn't kept him from obtaining proper nutrition from nursing. The on-call doctor we saw in the hospital commented on it and suggested we look into getting it clipped. I think it could be helpful, but the doctor we saw yesterday was pretty opposed to it. He said that Dean isn't being adversely affected by it and that in all his years of practice he's only seen a handful of babies that really were "tongue tied." He said if it's not a problem, don't try and fix it. So, I'm not sure what we should do.

He has totally broken out in baby acne. I hope it doesn't get much worse and clears up fairly quickly. Most of what I've read says it generally clears up on its own by 4 months. I hope it doesn't take that long...

He has allergies. I've never heard anyone (let alone a baby!) sneeze as many times in a row as he does. He sneezes a lot and has been a little congested since we were in the hospital. Poor kid. Hopefully it gets a little better once winter sets in and kills off the pollen allergens.

He's a crier. Since he's doing well feeding, we decided to try and give him a pacifier to help keep him a little happier when he's awake. He sucks on his hand to self soothe, and we'd rather he not. The first couple attempts were failures, but he did take it last night, and it helped him not cry while Matt was holding him while I made dinner. He cries about half of the time he's awake. I'm not too concerned. He'll figure this world out soon enough.

His stump is gone. He has an innie. Mostly at least.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tagged for 6

My friend Diane tagged me for 6 things about me. After my 100 things about me (in 4 installments) awhile back, I don't know what more to say. But I'll take a stab at it.

1. Sometimes I start books and don't finish them. For instance, this year I tried to read Moby Dick since it's my brother's favorite. I read it for a couple weeks, but it was slow going and I kept falling asleep. Dang. Another similar experience was with Tess of the d'Urbvilles. I just couldn't keep reading after awhile. While I wish I'd finished them to say I've read them, I don't really care that I stopped short.

2. I have a hard time keeping plants alive. I just seem to forget to water them regularly. It's a good thing Matt's much better about it.

3. I store my Tupperware lids according to type and size of lids for easy finding. I can't stand piles of lids in a jumbled mess. OCPD? Maybe. But maybe I just like my lids in order.

4. Postpartum is the first time I've used maxi pads since 8th grade. What more can I say? (I probably already said too much.)

5. I'm not a fan of talking on the phone. Aside from speaking with my family, phone talking is a little awkward for me. I kind of cringe when I hear the phone ring. I don't hate talking on the phone, I just usually don't enjoy it.

6. I LOVE steakhouse and pepper jerky. For one who was a vegetarian for about 10 years, my sheer enjoyment of it's kind of odd, but I love the spicy/salty combination a lot. I really don't care for original and I dislike teriyaki.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Last October I applied with the McKinney School District to be a substitute teacher. I didn't hear anything at all, got a different job, and just let it go thinking it odd that I couldn't even get a SUBBING job when all the teachers I knew said they were short on subs.

Last week I got an email thanking me for my interest in substitute teaching. The orientation is November 15th.

Man that's some efficiency for you. Over a year before making any contact.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Never too young to start...right?

There are so many types of fountains.

Water fountains: Good
Drinking fountains: Good
Soda fountains: Good
Chocolate fountains: Good

Spit up fountains: Not so good
Pee Fountains: Bad
Poo fountains: Worse

Dean likes the latter three the most right now. He is such a poo machine that even though I change him after he's gone, he goes again while I'm changing him. Sheesh. Can't the kid take a little break from the pooping? I see endless laundry and diapers for the next couple of years. A week and a half isn't too young to start potty training, now is it? Any tips on changing boys (other than speed) so I can at least avoid the fountain part and him squirting all over?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hallows Eve

Before my parents left for home yesterday we went on our first excursion with Dean (besides the Dr.). I needed to get some nursing bras from Target so we all packed up and headed out. It was exhausting! Even just trying things on and walking was tiring. Dean was pretty good, though he did require Grandma and Grandpa to hold him while I was trying things on. And then my parents drove home. It was sad. But the time had come.

When Matt got home from work we each carved 2 pumpkins. It was quite fun. I think our most successful year yet for pumpkin carving.

We didn't really get many trick or treaters. I think it's because we live on a cul-de-sac with BORING neighbors. We were the only people on our street (that we could tell) with our porch lights on and pumpkins lit. So, I think that kept most people from coming. But in reality, I was ok with that.

I didn't get to put Dean's cute Halloween outfits on since his cord hasn't quite fallen off yet. It's hanging by a thread, but it's still there. No matter, we'll let him be Daddy's little monster as long as he fits the outfit.