Friday, March 31, 2017

Asian Style Again!

Yesterday we were bored, and we have been trying to figure out where to get crawfish without driving to Louisiana.  Someone told us at our dinner the other night that they get live crawfish at the Asian market.  Sooo...  We went to an Asian grocery store in Tulsa.  The moment we walked into the shopping center, we smelled Singapore - minus the durian... but oh so many memories!

Canned fish.  See the eyeballs?  Lol...

Chicken feet the (Singaporean) butcher insisted was so delicious... you know, because they were CRUNCHY?  LOL... 

And yes, that is duck heads...   :-(

 And pork bung... yeah, you don't want to know...

Someone (not me) wants canned squid!

Oh!  The NOODLES!!

The closest we came to durian was jackfruit.  Not as pungent of an odor, but definitely an odor... lol...

And yes, we found HOUSTON (so they say) crawfish for $2.99 a pound, delivered on Friday.  I hope it is really true because we might be able to have a crawfish boil this year!  

Steve and I were both glad we stopped in that Asian food market.  It brought back so many smiles... and made us miss that little red dot on the other side of the world.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

We Lost a Baby Goat Yesterday :-(

I can finally post this - I have been terribly heartbroken.

Sadly, yesterday was a rough day.  One of Stephenie Bryant Simmonds goats went into labor.  The baby presented with its hooves behind its head, which meant Daisy (her goat) needed help.

Stephenie and her friend, Ashley,  tried valiantly to save the little girl, but it died.  It was a tough day for us all.  She was a beautiful baby.  😢  We lost one of God's precious gifts...

I am sorry, Steph.  Love you bunches.  ❤️

I can't leave this post with sad... I have to share a sweet picture of a 'borrowed' goat.  The shelves are about a foot high - so you can see this is a tiny little tyke.  He is about 3 weeks old.  The funny thing is, he went exploring and found Steph's unicorn blanket - from when she was a teenager.

This little guy made me smile, but I am still heartbroken over Steph and Daisy's loss.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Family, Friends and Immunodeficiency

As I continue sharing my struggles with my immunodeficiency (Idiopathic CD + Lymphocytopenia), today I am going to share how my family, friends and people in general deal with it.

My family knows, and a few get the seriousness of it.  A few.  Most don't.  Some pretend to, but they just don't understand.  I get that.  I am honestly ok with it.  It is what it is.  That is all. This is my problem, no one elses.

Of course, my hubby really understands.  He has been to Drs with me, and we have been best friends for 40+ years.  He has seen my struggles and now that we know the problem he totally gets it.  He is my confidant, he is my pillar of strength, he listens when I get so damned frustrated I just want to throw a temper tantrum and he encourages me on those 'damn it' days.  He drops me off at the door of stores because my fatigue is so bad I can't walk 20 feet without feeling like I will pass out.  He forces me to have down days because we both deal with the consequences when I don't have them.  He hugs me.  A lot.  He is my strength and he is my forever love.  I wish he didn't have to deal with what I have.  But he does and he does it so well - and better than I do.

Our daughter, who lives 2.5 miles from me immediately warns me to stay away when anyone has a sniffle that she thinks might be contagious.  She gets it.  I love her for that and for so much more.

My son gets it.  When I get down I can call him, whine on his shoulder and he always finds a way to make me laugh.  I love him for that and so much more.

I have one friend that honestly gets it.  We avoid heavy crowds, we shop on low attendance days, we avoid crowds and we sew in my sewing room - a lot.  We sew here because she has a very small home and says the (farm) break here is nice.

Other people?  They know I have an immune problem, but that is about as far as it goes.  Some know I can't be around sick people.  Some warn me if they are sick, but they don't really understand it goes further than that.  They invite me to pizza buffets, salad buffets, Chinese buffets - most of my friends love buffets.  They bring me sweets they bought at bake sales.  They invite me to firehouse pancake sales.  They bring me nachos from the concession stand.  They offer to share a drink with me.  They offer to let me taste their food with my fork after they ate from their plate - "Taste this - it is great!".  They offer to share their bowl of queso, salsa, candy bar, bottle of water...  you get the idea.  Things normal people would actually take for granted and not think a thing about.  I *have* to think about it.

People mean well; I know they do...  I have been offered every immune building miracle pill, potion, juice, and vitamin known to man - and I have taken a lot of them.  Well meaning people give me advice on how to build my immune system, but when I shut down, they make remarks insinuating I don't want to try - I want to bask in the illness and get sympathy.  Ummm, nooo... I have even been told "cancer is much worse - be happy that is all you have."   Oookayyy...

he Drs finally convinced me that my immune system is not broken - it is flat out missing.   I have no foundation.  Nothing to build on.  I can't build an immune system from nothing - it is like building a brick wall with no bricks.  Most people can make theirs stronger - but I have none to make stronger.  It.  Is.  Gone.  There is only one miracle cure: God.

One Dr explained it to me like a football team on the field ready to play, but the quarter back and the coaches walked away.  There is no one to tell the players what to do... and so they don't.

I have had Drs give me nil pils and bandaids with 'medicine' in them (ha!) to apply once a day.  I have been called a hypochondriac; by family, by friends, by Drs and by people I don't even know.  People in general don't understand that our immune systems work 24/7.  An immune system is always busy fighting germs, invaders, viruses, cuts, blisters, hang nails, sunburns, bruises, mouth ulcers... always at work.  Since I have no immune system, I am always sick.  ALWAYS sick.  It is what level of sick I am.  Do I feel like going out today or am I going to stick at home and tough it out?  That is a daily decision we make.  My friend gets it if I call and say, "today is not a good day."  Hubby sees it in my face.  We roll with what we get.

When I need to change antibiotics (notice I said change, because I am always on antibiotic) (that's the only thing I have fighting my infections) my sinus infection (constant: 4+ years documented) gets worse.  If I got a thorn in my thumb working in the garden, my body reacts by *not fighting the infection*...  Yep, I have to get another antibiotic - or ADD one.  I am sick every single day.  It is just a matter of how sick.  I wouldn't know what to do if I had a really good day and I haven't in YEARS.  We make the best of what I have.  My family gets that.  Most of my friends and acquaintances cannot comprehend this is a day to day basis.  All of my immune deficient friends have the same exact problem.  This entire story (mine) could have been written by any one of them - not just me.  We have all been through the same battles (Drs, friends, family, hypochodria, mircale cures) and we still fight them.

I am strong and I am determined, but ICL is tough.  Some Drs have stated they don't understand why I am still alive.  I know it is because God is not finished with me and He gives me the strength to fight this day and and day out.

And He has sent me a handful of people to light the way - and oh, my gosh, am I thankful for them!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monarch Butterflies

I am a member of the Oklahoma Home and Community Education (OHCE) group nearby.  Every month we have a lesson about something that matters.  This month our lesson was the decline of Monarch Butterflies! 

The ladies in the group all sign up for different lessons and are trained to give them.  Jessica chose our lesson on butterflies.  

We have other ladies that sign up for the refreshments.  This month I signed up for them.  I like to do something different, so I decided to cut melons like butterflies: 

I bought bright cupcakes with the intent of putting edible monarch butterflies on them but my butterflies didn't come in before our lesson.  Oh well, I have other plans for them now!  Instead, I 'planted' flowers on them:

Jessica gave the most awesome lesson on the butterflies!  I am posting this picture specifically so you can see the Monarch caterpillar and protect it!  We want to rebuild our monarchs!

Here is the flyer that Jessica passed out for our lesson - it has some great information for us!

Did you know Monarchs only eat milkweed?  And only specific kinds of milkweed!  We all need to plant one or two plants to help save the Monarchs!

Our Monarch population had declined in the last 20 years from 1 billion butterflies to less than 30 million?  This decline is due to loss of habitat, loss of food (milkweed), pesticides and storms!  I had no idea that a Mexican storm had killed 500,000,000 (that is 500 MILLION) butterflies in 2002! 

But Monarchs love flowers.. they drink the nectar, so be sure and plant flowers as well! 

Here is a FEMALE Monarch:

Note the difference in the MALE Monarch: The wing shape at the top and look for the two black dots on the bottom wings...  That is how you distinguish a male from a female!

I love being a member of OHCE.  We have a wondeful group of ladies - and there are many other groups as well statewide.  Oklahoma State University hosts this outreach.  They do a great job preparing us for our lessons, hosting local, district and state meetings and giving us a wealth of knowledge to share with the world.  Today, I hope by me sharing this Monarch information you will be aware of the critical status of our precious butterflies.  

Please plant milkweed, keep and eye out for those gorgeous caterpillars 
- and watch for the wings of beauty! Let's bring 'em back!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This Girl...

Just makes me smile:

She makes me proud:

She makes stress:

And laugh... 

And roll my eyes... 

Didja see the necklace?  *shudder*

But I smile at every adventure she takes us on.

She is my nearby happy girl.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don't Eat THAT! Or THIS...

I have Idiopathic CD4+ Lymphocytopenia (ICL).  All of my friends and family know that.  But Immunodeficiency problems are not entirely uncommon - the medical community is just realizing they need to be looking at the immune system more.  My immunodeficiency is rare, but not CVID, SCID and so many others.  I want to educate people on Immunodeficiency so one day a week (Wednesdays) I will try to tell you a bit about it.  Today, because ICL affects me, I am going to elaborate on what *I* deal with on a day to day basis.

Immunodeficiency means part of your immune system is broken.  Your immune system is largely what causes your blood work to register what is right and what is wrong.  If your immune system is broken it is often difficult for the medical professional to look at blood work and get a good 'feel' of what is going on.  So blood work is definitely a problem with me.  About the only thing that is nearly always accurate is my t-cell count.  And it keeps dropping.  Nuff about that for now...  

If a medical person is not knowledgable about immunodeficiency, then you have to be the one to explain what is going on to them, AND you have to hope they listen and don't take the Dr 'I know more than you do' stance.  

Diet. Did you know an immunocompromised person has to really watch what they eat?  HERE is a good general idea of what we have to pay attention to.  

It gets worse!  The link below is one my Dr referred me to.  Because I basically have no immune system, it is like I have had chemo (I haven't) (but chemo drastically compromises the immune system), so the more in-depth diet I have to follow looks more like THIS.

A few things that I have to watch:

I shouldn't eat at a buffet.
I shouldn't eat jalapeno cheese because peppers in it is raw.
I shouldn't eat yogurt with live cultures.
No more over easy eggs for me.
Bacon has to be well cooked.  As in nearly burned.

Too many things to mention, but you get the idea.  Food is a real problem for us.  We have to be sure every reasonable thing has been done to keep germs away from it.

Now think about eating out... 

Is the table clean?
Are the dishes clean?
How about the silverware?
Salt & Pepper shakers?
Parmesan cheese?  All the things sitting on the tables... yeah, don't touch them.
God help us if there is a problem (illness, less than sanitary conditions, etc) with the cooks... 

I was sitting in Pizza Hut waiting on my personal pan pizza and a young child reached over, grabbed the Parmesan cheese container on his table and LICKED THE TOP!  His mom fussed him, wiped it off with a napkin and put it back.  *sigh*

I usually ask for "to go" packets if I need one of the table condiments.  How many hands have touched all of them?

I shouldn't take probiotics - live good bacteria... but my body doesn't know good from bad... (try this when you are on 24/7 antibiotics)

Immunizations?  Guess what?  I have no immune system so immunizations are useless for me - you have to have an immune system to build an immunity, right?  Think that one though.  Tetanus?  Flu?  Pneumonia?  Hepatitis?  I had all the overseas immunizations and the Dr tested me for them less than 5 years into them.  I did not even show immunity to one of them.  She gave me 3 more and in 3 months, more blood work.  It was like I had never had them.

It gets better.  Any immunizationw with a live virus is off limits to me.  Better than that, I can't be AROUND anyone that has HAD a live virus immunization for 3 weeks.  Now how the heck am I supposed to be privy to that information?

I am not the only person with ICL / HIV Negative - there are less than 100 of us known to the National Institute of Health.  We are not contagious.  There is very little known about why we have this but they suspect it is genetic.

My entire life, I have been sick, but even more as an adult.  Immunodeficiency is a difficult life - whether it is ICL, CVID, SCID, or any other immune system deficiency.

So now you know just a bit more about my struggles.

I am not alone.  I have friends that have immune deficiencies.  However, they are all online friends.  I actually "know" no one in real life.

We exist.

And finally, immunodeficiency is represented by a zebra.  Isn't that cool?  

Taken from the Immune Deficiency Foundation:  

"The primary immunodeficiency community often identifies with zebras. This is based on an old saying. In medical school, many doctors learn the saying, “when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras” and are taught to focus on the likeliest possibilities when making a diagnosis, not the unusual ones. However, sometimes physicians need to look for a zebra. Patients with PI are the zebras of the medical world. So IDF says THINK ZEBRA!"

And THIS FOUNDATION does everything in their power to help us muddle through the muck - and there is a lot of muck for us.  Paperwork, lab work, Drs, Specialists, insurance problems, insurance refusals, medicine funding, and just moral support... 

Enough for today's lesson... tomorrow, back to the fun stuffs!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Many, Many Years Ago...

Before Steve and I were even married, I lost part of my family.

My mom was adopted.  Her entire life her adopted brother was very mean to her.  When she was older he got meaner - and once he told her the family hated her, tolerated her and never wanted her in their lives.  She believed him.  She just quit visiting with them.  Her adopted mom, her cousins and...  well, the entire family.  If she wasn't wanted, she wasn't going to force the family to 'tolerate' her.  Why would she?

She once got a very ugly letter from my Uncle Billy's wife.  I won't even repeat what was in it - other than to tell mom she was a burden to everyone, she owed them thousands of dollars for grandma's care and if she ever tried to contact her they would put her in jail for not paying.  It was a mean, ugly letter.

This was before cell phones, facebook and all that unites us.

Mom was broken hearted, disconneted and died thinking she was not wanted by anyone in her adopted family.

Fast forward to now.  Our family is all on Facebook.  Somehow a cousin got in touch with us and we all visited back and forth for a long time... gently treading waters because, heck - we didn't even know each other any more, even though years ago, Melanie, Valerie and I were as close as cousins could be.  When we went to grandma's house before all of this happened, we all loved spending time together.  We had Easter Egg hunts, Thanksgiving meals and Holidays together.  We loved each other!

Again, fast forward to now; one cousin finally asked me why we disappeared off the face of the earth.  We talked online and I told her the 'short story' version.

And she said, "My dad was a ass.  Not one person in our family loved him.  No one even liked him.  He was vicious, he was a drunk, he was a player, he was hateful, he was mean and he died a lonely death because he was such an ass.  None of us children had anything to do with him.  He was a mean S.O.B. through and through.  I am sorry your mom was told that, but we all loved her and missed her.  Grandma just didn't understand why your mom quit coming around.  None of us could ever could figure out what happened."

And so, we never had to lose that part of the family.  Grandma died broken hearted because she thought moma had disowned her, moma died thinking grandma and the rest of the family didn't want her and our families separated and went different ways for 40+ years.

But last week, we had a wedding in the town we lost.  Since I was going to El Reno for the wedding, I made arraingements to meet up with my cousins - they all lived there still.  Liz drove in from Okmulgee.  Sherry (my baby sister was named after this cousin) and Melanie met us at the campground and we talked.  Heart to heart talked.  And we reconnected.  And I am finally a part of the family we lost so many years ago.

One person can cause so much heart ache.  He was my uncle, but he was their father.  How sad is that?

But he doesn't control us anymore.  We are once again family.

Thank you, Liz, Sherry and Melanie for opening those doors.  What a wonderful family reunion!  We have sure missed you.

We have always loved you.  I am so glad we are together again.  We may have lost 40 years, but here is to the next 40.  

I hope grandma and moma are reunited in Heaven and know the story now.  

Here's to more fun times!

Sherry, Liz, Melanie, and I in El Reno.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Cumberland Quilt

I finished my newest quilt, The Cumberland - and it just might be my favorite yet!  I absolutely love the colors in it:

And I made cornerstones with my new sewing machine to match.  Didn't they come out great?

Finally, I made a dedication label for the two very special people it went to; the wedding couple:

Here we all are; grandmother of the bride, Yvonne, me, Amanda and Austin:

I did not ask them to hold it up, but someone else did.  I got a picture of them with it.  I hope they enjoy it for many years to come:

Congratulations Austin and Amanda!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Note To Self

If you are going to ear tag your own cattle, you must do it when they are first born; weak and not yet fighting strength.  That comes within the first couple of days.

While we were gone to the wedding, our other 4 cattle had their calves.  Megan thinks she is the 'calf whisperer' now!  She was staying at our place when all those babies were born.  She is so stinking cute!  I think she might have been having a blast though!

Anyhoo, Steve had to tag the calves that were born while we were gone.  He had tagged Rojo the first day he was born, but these calves were a few days old when we got home.  He did it, but not without (maybe) rolling in poop, being stepped on, cussed out by the moms, having part of the round pen knocked down, a few fingers mashed and kicked a few times!

We named the first red-headed girl (below) Little Megan.  Guess why she got that name?  Lol... 

Here she is with her earring!

Just a few pics of the other calves...  we have 3 new heifers and 2 new bull calves.

This one got stuck in the hay ring.  Steve had to show it how to get out... lol...

Farming is a crazy life - but it suits us.  We learn a little every year to make us more efficient.  Thankfully, Steve has Rod and Mike to help us along when we are in the 'need to know' part.  We definitely need to know a lot more than we do.

Thankfully all are ear tagged now and we can start enjoying their antics - and the 'need to know' is marked in the 2018 calender to tag as soon as they are born.  

About the antics... all 5 babies chase the chickens, the dogs chase the calves, the donkey chases the dogs and we chase whoever we need to catch  in the moment.  It was definitely easier when I had a 4 wheeler, but we get along... lol...

Farming is fun and entertaining to say the least.  And I think our neighbors think so as well.
I am sure they are watching our crazy little farm; but its "
Justa Little (crazy) Farm".

Here is the lowdown for future reference:
Maddie had #14 (aka Rojo/bull calf) on Wednesday, March 8th while we were still at home.
Sadie, a new freshner (1st time calver), had #16 (heifer) on Friday, March 9th
Hazel, had # 15 (heifer) on Saturday March 11
Lucy had #18 (bull calf) on Monday March 13
Elsie, also a new freshner, had # 17 (aka Little Megan), during the night of Monday, the 13th or early Tuesday March 14th.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Punkin' Plays Piano!

And I love listening to her!

This piano was given to her by the church!  They had 4 unused ones sitting around and the preacher really thinks she has talent, so they gave it to her!

All her mom and dad have to do is get it tuned.

Isn't she great?  She has only had a couple of years of lessons.  This is just a bit of her playing - we took a better one, but it was too long.  BUMMER.

Oh!  And she is wearing green!  
Are you?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Most Beautiful Wedding Ever!

Amanda, Steve's step brother, Mike's daughter got married!  We helped out at the wedding and had a blast!  We left last Thursday and just got home today.  What a beautiful wedding!  There were at least 250 people there!  Oh my gosh, it was the most perfect wedding I have ever been to!  LOVED it!

We stayed in El Reno for 5 days while the wedding festivities were taking place.

Here is the happy couple after the wedding:


Aren't they adorable?

We had an absolutely wonderful time at the festivities!  

As usual, I am sick.  I still haven't gotten over that mess with the flu.  The flu is gone of course, but the crap from the sinus/chest just keeps hanging on.  And I am pooped.

Of course, this after going 9 days straight.

I am trying to rest now that the wedding is over.

Steve and Aunt Sandra cooked fried fish and boiled shrimp on Friday, Saturday was the wedding and we left the campground Monday.  Tuesday I was in charge of decorating for an OHCE Awards Banquet and Wednesday I had an OHCE Executive meeting.  Wednesday (yesterday) was also our 40th anniversary, but I was too tired and too sick to celebrate.

This is my world.  I try to keep on rolling, my body rebels and I just can't get it through my head that I will never be able to go, go, GO!  like I used to.  Sinusitis is extremely common in people with immunodeficiencies.  That is me.   

ICL sucks.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Welcome to the World Rojo!

Our first red bull baby born on the farm was born on March 4th.  It was a busy day...  
Steve named him Rojo!  

Here is his first picture with all of his aunties checking him out and Windy getting to know who to guard.  And believe me, Windy guards!  

It is even difficult to convince her that momma has to feed him!

He is adorable!  Here he is only a couple of minutes old.  His mommy is the black and white lady behind him.  The one with the KISS makeup on.

We found him tucked away in the field yesterday a very far distance from the rest of the cattle.  They are pretty good at hiding him, but he was no where near where any of the cattle or Windy could see him!

Since it was so far back on the property by the wooded area (coyotes), Steve decided to make him walk closer to moma.  He was little and it took a very long time, but they did it!  Here they are together.  We have pet him, talked to him and just loved on him.  

I love this time of the year - spring baby time... 

Here he is all pooped out.  Check out this little man's eyelashes!

Welcome to the world Roho!  It is an excited life out here on our little farm - there is lots for you to get into.  Listen to mommy and don't let Windy boss you around, ok?

Only four more babies to be born.  One boy; what will we have next?  

Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cattle Domino Time!

This is Windy - yes it is spelled right.  She was born on a windy day in Oklahoma, so her previous owners named her Windy.  She is the sweetest donkey ever - and she watches over her cattle and nudges us for treats.   We often see her running like a maniac in the pasture, rounding her herd up to show them who is boss.  Windy is definitely boss out there.

We have found piles of crushed bones and tufts of fur from what 'once was'.  We can't even tell WHAT it once was - but it is gone now.  We presume from the fur tuft colors it is likely coyotes, but since it has been reduced to nearly dust, we aren't sure.  What we ARE sure of is that she protects her herd and we haven't lost a cow or calf yet.

This is the time of year we depend on Windy.  She is very careful with her newborn cattle.  From the moment they drop from mom, she sniffs, circles, gets to know them and valiantly protects.  She is as good of a watch dog as you can get.  

Only better.

Our momas are all getting ready to have babies!  This year we will have 5 new babies!  That is what farming is all about - spring time babies; calves, chickens and goats (Steph).  We sure do have fun seeing them born and getting to know and name each of them.  
These girls are getting HUGE!  

A couple of the younger calves (here a steer) like "Chuck" here are just hanging out... waiting to be next years supper... we love them until we take them to market. 

Here is Daisy who is just taking lessons from the older girls; she is just a year old - too young to calve, but next year she will be one of the girls calving...

This is Ashley, another year old heifer, so she not calving yet.  Ashley was named (by request) after one of my girl scouts!  Ashley begged me to name a calf after her.  
So here is our little wild-ish child!

Here is Elsie (first time mom-to-be) and Chuck again.  They are buddies:

Here is one of our original cattle; Hazel, due to have her 3rd calf with us:

And this is Maddie; 3rd time calver with us and more than ready... lol... 
but she is always eating!

I believe this is Sadie, but I can't see her ear tag.  She is a first time calver though if it is:

Why do we name our cattle?  Because we don't want to call them a number!  We would rather a name - if he says "Sadie is calving", I know who exactly who Sadie is, but if he says "5 is calving", I would have to whittle through WHO is calving... lol...

And we won't share pictures of T-Bone and Porter... they are at the butcher.  Our first ever fresh, home grown beef.  Did it hurt us?  Of course!  But that was always their destination.  To know exactly what food was treated with that we put in our mouth.  Ours were treated with good wholesome food, lots of laughs, respect, and pets (yes, pats on the heads) and lots and lots of love - and they never saw a stockyard.  Ever.  

And we can live with that.

This is Chelsea trying to look bigger than Jake:

But she is not bigger:  We figure Jake is around 125 lbs and Chelsea is a whopping 45 lbs:

And so we wait... for coming soon... CALVES!

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