Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A snake?

Yes, we now own a snake. He is beautiful, and so sweet. He loves to be held. He's a ball python, about three months old, and about two feet long so far. I never thought that I would adore these reptiles as much as I do, but I do. Brendan hasn't decided if his name will be Kaa (the snake from Jungle Book) or Radley. He said he'll decide in a few days.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The past couple of weeks have been a blur. I'm hoping for a bit of a break now.

Last Monday I got a call from Grandma B that she was being admitted at Baptist Hospital with a blood clot in her arm. Within ten minutes I was on the road to Jacksonville. The days following were nothing short of chaotic. During a procedure to attempt to break apart and suction the clot her heart stopped beating and she had to be resuscitated. The doctor quickly came to get me and allowed me to be with her while they continued to work on her, and it is an image that will stay with me for the rest of my life. However, over the days following, and despite a few setbacks, she started to recuperate. She's been in ICU since last Tuesday, and as of today will be sent back to a regular room. I came home this past Saturday, but only after Bart (from Orlando) and Chris (from Australia) arrived there to be with her. I'm so thankful for her medical staff. The nurses that were there with her around the clock were amazing, and I was so thankful for such capable hands. I have no doubt that she'll be back to herself in no time.

Today Brian and Erin left for Tulsa, Oklahoma. Erin is currently #13 in the country for 8 year old girls, and by competing in the Grands she has the opportunity to move into the top 10. Those that know her don't doubt that it will happen. The Grands is the Superbowl of BMX. It's the last big race of the year, and it's huge. Thousands of people from all over the world, and the best racers. She'll be racing Thursday through Sunday, and the entire event will be broadcast live on Erin has really excelled in BMX, taking 1st place in the state, and now competing for a NAG (National Age Group) plate. I'm so proud of her.

Two more weeks of school for me, and the semester cannot end soon enough.

I'll be back with pictures and videos of Erin in Oklahoma!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brendan's new race bike

He was long overdue for a new race bike, and he got it today. One of our good friends from the track, Mark, built the bike for him with all of the custom parts that he has been dreaming of getting. It's a beautiful bike, and he can't wait to get it out on the track.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Follow up to Milking

As you read previously, I declined to pay the orthopedic surgeon the $35 to sign the work release so that I can start my job. Brian, however, went back to their office yesterday and paid the fee. The staff there knew that I was scheduled to start orientation this coming Monday, 11/14, and that the release had to be faxed to Mease Countryside Hospital (my employer) by noon on 11/11 in order for me to be able to attend orientation. I got a call this morning, 11/11, from the staff at Dr. Pigeon's office stating that he would not sign the release until I schedule an appointment with him to be seen, and that he would fill it out at that time. In addition, he would not be in the office until Monday, 11/14, and so would not be able to get the release signed prior to the noon deadline today. None of this crap about scheduling an appointment had been mentioned in the two previous trips to get the release signed. Since I currently have no medical insurance I would be a self-pay for the visit with Dr. Pigeon, and if you have any idea how much an orthopedic surgeon charges then you know that it isn't cheap. Not even for an office visit. I was even more angry at this point, telling the staff that I would not pay them another penny for this release, and that I will not be coming in for a visit. Brian called and was refunded for the signature on the work release, and I contacted Mease. The health care coordinator advised me that instead of getting the release signed by Dr. Pigeon I could make an appointment with the rehabilitation center that the hospital uses for their employees, that they could do the evaluation for free, and then they could sign the release for me so that I can start work. All at a cost of ZERO! So I have an appointment with the rehabilitation clinic on Monday, but this does mean that my orientation has to be delayed until 11/28. It was going to be delayed either way, but at least this way the office of Dr. Pigeon will not see another penny from me.

I requested and received a copy of my entire medical records from Dr. Pigeon's office today via email, and will no longer do any business with them. This doctor was paid in excess of $70,000 for my two surgeries, and the fact that they attempted to charge me for a signature on a release form and then force me to pay for another appointment is beyond what I am willing to do. In speaking with one of the office staff at his office yesterday I found out that he charges these fees "because he can". Well, he may be able to get other people to pay them, but he won't see it from me. I know I mean nothing to him in the grand scheme of things, but it makes ME feel better, and right now that is all that matters to me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


So I got the job at Mease Countryside Hospital that I've been waiting to open for a year. Everything has gone great with the hiring process. Yesterday I had the health screening (blood work, urine, etc.), and the nurse told me that a release will have to be signed by my orthopedic surgeon since I had my back surgery in 2009. No big deal. I told him that I would drop the release off to Dr. Pigeon on my way home and have him fax it back to her. I did that, and called to follow up with them today to ensure that they had faxed it only to find out that they won't fax it. They said that I have to go into the office to pick it up and pay a $35 fee for him signing the release. Are you kidding me!? This guy was paid $33,000 for my laminectomy and he can't put his signature on a piece of paper so that I can work? I've had releases signed in the past by other doctors and they didn't charge. It's a signature, and I'm not paying him $35 for it.

There are so many injustices in the U.S. healthcare system. It's a system that I will spend the rest of my life working in, but I hope that I can do my part to rid patients of these kinds of petty fees and inconveniences. It's such a shame.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Hello Mr. Turtle

I love all of our critters. Even the smallest of them. This little one inch turtle is so cute, and I can't seem to stay away from him. Brendan just set up a new habitat for him in a 40 gallon tank, complete with a floating log, plants, hides and a sucker fish to help keep his tank clean. He doesn't have a name, but he sure is cute. Especially when he looks right at me when I take his picture!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween cake

I made this cake for Halloween several years ago, and it is delicious. It is one of the most moist and flavorful cakes you'll ever eat. And it's pretty.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
1.5 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, plus one yolk

Heat oven to 375ºF. Line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and lightly butter. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Stir the buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla together in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugars together using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolk, one at a time. Reduce mixer speed to low and alternately beat in the flour and buttermilk mixtures in thirds. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until a tester, inserted in the center, comes out clean-about 35 minutes. Cool layers completely before icing.

Beat 6 ounces softened cream cheese using a mixer set on medium high speed until fluffy. Add 1.5 cups confectioners sugar, 2 1/4 tsp cocoa, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 3/4 tsp vanilla and beat on low speed until well combined. In a separate bowl, beat 1.5 cups heavy cream with 3/4 cup confectioners sugar and a scant 1/4 tsp orange food coloring on medium high to soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well combined. Spread 1 cup frosting between the two layers and use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides of the cake. Chill 30 minutes and proceed to next step.

Place 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate, 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter and 3 tablespoons corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring 1/2 cup heavy cream to a boil, pour it over the chocolate, and let sit for 3 minutes. Gently stir, using a whisk, until smooth. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes, until the glaze thickens slightly. Pour the glaze onto the center of the frosted cake and smooth out to the edges to allow the glaze to drip over the sides.

Halloween 2011

Here are a few shots from our Halloween. I hope you enjoyed your day!
My 80s girl

Layla (Mazin's sister)
Kaylee, Erin, Ashley and Layla
(l-r) Kaylee, Erin, Paul, Bryce, Mazin, Layla and Ashley
A neighbors Angry Birds pumpkin display.