Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes


March is almost gone. There so much to be grateful for:

1. Angels here on earth. I have already mentioned three this past week. Let me add a few more. One of my ward members, while playing the organ postlude after Sacrament Meeting, told me about her son having open heart surgery when he was 11 days old. Hearing her story and her positive attitude about the whole thing really bolstered me. The lesson today in RS was about having a broken heart and contrite spirit. The teacher broke down the definitions for Broken, Heart, Contrite, and Spirit. Some of it I already knew. All of it was important for me to hear. A doctor in our ward shared his testimony today of how Christ has already shouldered our fears, sadness, and every difficulty we have ever faced. Hearing his testimony strengthened mine.

2. My in-loves. They put up with us this week as we stayed with them over Spring Break. My mother-in-love tried to teach the boys to play ukulele and hula. My father-in-love satisfied every craving of my sons to watch sports as he had a game on the TV every night. We tried to clean up after ourselves and keep relatively quiet, but.....well I guess my in-loves are used to being around boys since they raised six of them.

3. Uneventful (re: safe) travels. No problems there or back and I was driving without Mr. Wonderful. My sanity was tested and I survived.

4. Good music. I watched Music and the Spoken Word this morning as I finished a baby hat. It was wonderful to listen and let it wash over me. I love hearing that choir sing.

5. Healthy babies. My newest niece is perfect in every way. I'm grateful she made it safely. I'm grateful she wasn't born in the van (although it would have made for a great birth story).

6. Miracles. Check out my parents blog on their latest endeavor in DRC. How they were able to collect all those things and transport them to the designated site is more than a multitude of miracles. I loved the pictures. Their mission makes me more aware of the everyday things of which I am grateful.

7. My Crockpot. Nothing tastes quite as good as dinner on Fast Sunday, especially since it was already cooked as soon as I walked in the door this afternoon. Dinner on the table in the time it takes to make gravy and bake rolls.

8. Living Prophets. General Conference is next week. My family watches it in our pajamas with all of our favorite snacks, and cuddled in quilts. I love the talks, the music, and the answers to prayers that always seem to come with every session.

The First Presidency

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lunch With Grandma Great
We're in Utah during Spring Break. I had to visit the tax man, take insurance info to the hospital, and hopefully visit family. Today I picked up my Grandma for a visit. I took her to see our newest family member born this morning. (Sorry, can't post those pics. I need to let my brother do it first.) Then off to my in-loves for lunch.

My kids love their Grandma S. It was so sweet to watch them with her today. The two older boys were so solicitous in making sure that she held their arm as she walked. DS #3 and DD just spread the love.

After lunch we went to look at the flowers surrounding the Temple. Unfortunately it had snowed this morning so the flowers were covered. A quick trip to my twin sis made up for the missing flowers. She is so darling with Grandma S. They talked for a bit and then her two youngest monopolized Grandma for a bit. Grandma was tired and ready to go back to her place after 2 1/2 hours with us.
I hope I am building memories for my kids.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mama's In The Kitchen

Biscuits at our house are a mainstay. Plain biscuits are perfect for homemade strawberry jam, although my sons love honey butter just as much. Mr. Wonderful loves my cheese biscuits. He tells me that I need to keep practicing just so I will make them more often. The sweet biscuits are a favorite for breakfast - much easier than cinnamon rolls from scratch.


2 Cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold butter
1 Cup buttermilk (can use 1 Cup sweet milk mixed with 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice and let sit 5 minutes)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut cold butter into small pieces. Working quickly so the butter doesn't melt in your hands, smash the butter with flour between your fingers until the butter is coarse into all the flour. Stir in buttermilk with a fork until barely combined.

Cut into rounds. Bake on a stone or baking sheet in an oven preheated to 425 degrees for 14-18 minutes.


Cheese Biscuits: Whisk in 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper in with the dry ingredients. Stir in 1 Cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese after the butter and before adding buttermilk.

Ham Biscuits: Stir in 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard with the dry ingredients and add 1 Cup finely chopped ham after the butter and before the buttermilk.

Sweet Biscuits: Stir in 1/2 Cup sugar and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon in with the dry ingredients. Sprinkle biscuits with cinnamon sugar before baking. After the biscuits come out and cool for a few minutes, drizzle with cream cheese thinned with milk and sweetened with powdered sugar.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes
So much to be grateful for today. Some of it is obvious, given the season. Some of it seems a bit odd at first...

1. Fresh dill. Today I pulled out a package of fresh dill and instantly thought of my Grandma. Perfume doesn't bring up a memory of her, but fresh dill? Well, her garden was always full of the greatest smells. I loved the aroma of sunshine-warm tomatoes, the smell of the raspberries and apricots, the sharp dirt-smell of potatoes and carrots. But my favorite was walking through the herb patch and smelling the dill she used in her home-canned pickles. She would also combine fresh dill, vinegar, sour cream, and salt and stir them up with sliced cucumbers fresh from her garden. She would serve this is a little four-bowl crystal and silver dish that would also hold bread and butter pickles, yellow chow chow (I loved picking out the cauliflower to eat), and olives. Today I used the fresh dill to make the sour cream and cucumber dish for my Easter dinner. It felt like Grandma S. was there with me. I'll write her a letter tomorrow to tell her I made it.

2. Fresh strawberries. This is another Grandma S. memory. She made the best fresh strawberry and fresh raspberry freezer jam. She had specific products she would use - she was very brand loyal when it came to making jam - she thought that MCP pectin was the only type to use. I use the same things now. I made a batch of strawberry freezer jam this weekend. I will make another batch tomorrow. Strawberry jam is Mr. Wonderful's preferred choice for rolls and toast.

3. Brahms. I listen to Brahms: A German Requiem every Easter. I can't remember what started me on this tradition. Check it out here. It is one of my favorite classical pieces. Of course, it is the version with Mo-Tab and the Utah Symphony.

4. Another favorite Easter piece is from Sally Deford. Her arrangement of Beautiful Savior is what I always want my choir to sing at Easter. This was my third time directing it. you can find that piece here. My choir did a wonderful job today. The music is SSATB with piano, organ and flute. It is one of those pieces that strengthens my soul every time I hear it.

5. Spring in general. I love see the grass and the fields turn green. I have started to see baby goats at a neighborhood farm. Asparagus and rhubarb at the grocery store. Dyeing Easter eggs with the kids. Taking Dear Doggie Girl for a walk in the morning and not freezing. Sunnier days. Flowers blooming. Getting things ready to plant a garden. There is something about spring and growing things that really makes me happy.

6. Knowing who I am, where I've been, and where I am going after this life. My twin sis' dear father-in-love passed away this past weekend. It is a bittersweet thing. We are sad to see him go, but we know we will see him again. The day my sister was married, her father and mother-in-love put their arms around me and welcomed me into the family. They have always been so loving and kind to me. Now I think of him, no longer fettered by a very ill body, so happy to see his loved ones again. This life is not the end.

7. Easter. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has made it possible for everyone to be resurrected, to live again. I love this holiday. My family does our fun things on Saturday so we can fully dedicate Sunday to the celebration of the resurrection of our Savior. My children know the story well. Today we talked about the joy of seeing our Grandpa S. and our Granddaddy B. again. My children remember them. They have never met Grandma J. and Grandpa Snowy and Nana F. but look forward to seeing them, too. We talk about the huge family reunion we will have someday. That will b a great day.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Heavenly Father Knows My Heart
It's no secret that my attitude has had need of a severe adjustment the past two months. I have run the gamut from fear to despair to being overwhelmed. Mr. Wonderful as been my rock every day, letting me talk things out. He knows more than anyone that it is these discussions allowing me to vent my feelings rather than bottle them up are the best medicine for my soul. I've struggled with my feelings of being inadequate for the challenges we've passed and those ahead. God, in His infinite wisdom, set three angels in my path. He doesn't send angels from Heaven when He has people right for the job here on earth.
The March 2008 issue of the Ensign came in the mail the 1st week in March. Usually I pore over the magazine, reading it from cover to cover the first day. This time it was put aside. I pulled it out this week to prepare my Visiting Teaching lesson. Instead of a given article, we were instructed to pick any of the articles we thought would best meet the needs of our sisters.
I wondered which to choose until I came across the article from Elder Russell M. Nelson, entitled "Faith In Jesus Christ". Elder Russell M. Nelson was a heart surgeon. The title of the article caught my attention because of my struggling faith. Inside, the article seemed written specifically for me because of the first few paragraphs:

My long road to become a doctor of medicine was only the beginning. After that came years of hospital work, research, specialty training, and certifying examinations. Then followed many years of teaching, service, and the challenges of the newly emerging field of open-heart surgery, all of which brought me to a profound reverence for the structure and function of the human body. I was convinced that its creation was divine.
The Remarkable Human Body
Think of the genesis of a human body. It begins with the union of two reproductive cells—one from the mother and one from the father. Together, these cells contain all of the new individual’s hereditary information, stored in a space so small it cannot be seen by the naked eye. Twenty-three chromosomes from each parent unite in one new cell. These chromosomes contain thousands of genes which determine the physical characteristics of the unborn person. Approximately 22 days after these cells unite, a tiny heart begins to beat. At 26 days, blood begins to circulate. Cells multiply and divide. Some become eyes that see; others become ears that hear or fingers that feel the wondrous things about us.
Each organ is an amazing creation. The eye has a self-focusing lens. Nerves and muscles allow two eyes to make a single three-dimensional image. The ear converts sound waves into audible tones perceived in the brain.
The heart has four delicate valves that control the direction of blood flow. They open and close more than 100,000 times a day—36 million times a year. Unless altered by disease, they are able to withstand this stress almost indefinitely. No man-made material can be flexed so frequently and so long without breaking. Each day, the adult heart pumps enough fluid to fill a 2,000-gallon (7,570-L) tank. At the crest of the heart is a source of electricity that transmits energy down special lines, causing myriads of muscle fibers to work together.

This caught my attention. I felt like it was shouted from the rooftops. To talk about faith starting with heart could it be more planned out for me? The article goes on to talk about how every thing God created has law and order. How we are each part of His specific plan and to accept this concept requires faith. You can read the entire article here. Like I said, that article could have been written just for me at this time. Elder Nelson is my first angel.

My second angel appeared while I was visiting teaching. My companion made the appointments for last Thursday. We went to the first house . The sister we were there to see was not home. Her husband invited us in. He is one of my choir members and loves to tease me. He was also the first person to welcome my family into the ward and therefore holds a special place in my heart. He insisted we come in, sit down, and present the lesson to him. I started with the information about my daughter's upcoming heart surgery and the struggles I had been having with my faith. Then I brought out the article by Elder Nelson and read the part about the heart and told the rest in my own words. This sweet brother started to tell me about his quest to memorize scriptures and then began to teach me, quoting many scriptures on faith from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. My companion and I were in tears and the Holy Ghost bore witness to us of the truth of his words. It was no accident that we were still there even though the intended sister for our visit was not present.

When I returned home, I opened up the article again and discovered that this sweet brother had quoted every single scripture in Elder Nelson's article. Mr. Wonderful I and talked about the experience. I wish I could have shared word for word with my husband what was said to me that night.

My third angel appeared this morning. My daddy, serving a mission in Africa, sent an email specifically to me. This doesn't happen often as my mom is usually the one who send word of what is going on. My daddy wanted to respond to my latest email where I reported to him everything going on with my family. Between reading my email and this blog, he knew what I needed to hear. The content of that email is too close to my heart to share with everyone, but I will say that I felt his arms around me. I would not change where he is for the world. I much as I miss my parents, I am so grateful for their willingness to be on a mission at this time.

I woke up this morning full of hope and love. I feel so much stronger. I'm looking forward to DD's surgery now, because I know how much better she will be when it is done. I have put the sale of our Utah house back in God's hands. I have started to release the tensions and debilitating worry. To have these three angels put in my path within three days has strengthened my faith.

My daughter still needs surgery. My house has not sold. But my testimony is so much greater. I know that my Father in Heaven loves me. He knows my name. He knows every single strength and weakness that I have. My brother and my Savior, Jesus Christ, knows all this, too. He has already suffered through it with me. I have never been left alone to experience these things. My faith will be tested and strengthened throughout my life,and always I will have my Father and my Savior with me, putting those angels in my path that I need the most. I am so grateful for Their infinite love for me and my family.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Strong Hearts

Every night I kneel down with DD to hear her say her prayers. She likes to say her prayers by herself. She goes through all the standards:

"Please bless GamaPapa Africa.
Please bless our home to sell quickly.
Please bless Prophet President Hinkley" (Still is insisting on him and is reminded every night of President Monson)

Then comes a part she confuses every time. For 5 years now I have tried to teach her to ask for blessings for her heart. For some reason she insists on saying it this way:

"Please bless Mama's heart to be strong."

Lately I have begun to wonder at the wisdom of my only daughter. She has shown time and again that she is an old soul captured in a young body. Does she truly mean to bless my heart? I will admit that lately my heart has been heavy. While I am becoming used to the idea of open heart surgery for my daughter, I am anxious for purely selfish reasons - I don't want her to leave me. I fear my heart would break.

Now I truly believe that this surgery will be successful and that DD will come out of it just fine. I'm trying to look on this as another part of my life meant to test, teach, and strengthen my faith. I trust God's plan, that it is perfect. I trust her cardiologist. I guess I just don't trust my own strength yet.

So now I am echoing my daughter's prayer. Please bless Mama's heart to be strong. Please help her to be strong for her family. Please bless her mind with peace.

DD's open-heart surgery has been scheduled for May 1st. The countdown begins.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mama's In The Kitchen

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I have tried all green food in the past (green milk, ugh!). Then for a few years I made Irish Lamb Stew which was okay. Two years ago I started making Bangers (sausages) and Mash (the Colcannon recipe) and the kids loved it. Add a green jello and dinner is ready. This year for Family Night Treat, I'm making the Chocolate Mint Bars on the cover of March 2008 Cooking Light.

Colcannon Irish Potatoes

6 medium potatoes - peeled
and cubed
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter or stick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper


Place potatoes in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Add cabbage and onion. Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Drain well. Mash with butter, salt and pepper.

Chocolate-Mint Bars
from Cooking Light

The dense base layer is like a rich, fudgy brownie, so don't overcook it or the dessert bars will be dry. Refrigerating the mint bars allows the chocolaty top layer to set properly. You can make the dessert up to one day ahead. For a more grown-up taste, you can also use dark chocolate chips for some or all of the semisweet chocolate chips in the glaze.

Bottom layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup
Cooking spray

Mint layer:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare bottom layer, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt; stir with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar, egg substitute, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons water, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate syrup in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring until blended. Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

3. To prepare mint layer, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and next 3 ingredients (through food coloring) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.
4.??To prepare the glaze, combine the chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Let stand 2 minutes. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 20 pieces. Yield: 20 servings (serving size: 1 piece)

CALORIES 264 (30% from fat); FAT 8.7g (sat 5.2g,mono 2.5g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 2.8g; CHOLESTEROL 38mg; CALCIUM 12mg; SODIUM 139mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 0.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45g Cooking Light, MARCH 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes

The sky is blue. The weatherman promised a beautiful day. The best part is proof in the pictures above. Those are my mini daffodils that I planted last fall. Spring is finally coming to my area and I am going to enjoy all of it.
Things I am grateful for:
1. One good thing about having church later in the day is that I now prepare a gorgeous bed-and-breakfast style breakfast and our family sits down together two times in one day. I put church music on the Bose system (today it will be Paul Cardall). We read scriptures after breakfast. Its really helps our Sabbath start our right.
2. Driving with Mr. Wonderful. When we were newly married and poor, our date nights consisted of going on drives. We would look at houses or explore a new area. We did it again for our date night this week. We talked for hours about everything and nothing. Afterwards we tried out a new-to-us restaurant. It was so good to be together.
3. Cold meds. Since I really am partial to breathing, I appreciate drugs that allow me to do so when the nasty viruses make their way around my family. I"m not sure if Mr. Wonderful or DD gave me this one.
4. Every fall I make an effort to plan flower bulbs. I hate doing it but I love the results in the spring.
5. I have now finished 10 baby hats which I am going to give to the children's hospital when DD has her surgery. I love the feel of soft baby yarn. I love finding bright colors for the project. I love that I have found a new hobby that doesn't break the bank the way framing my cross-stitch pieces did.
6. Finding a really good new book to read. Its getting harder to find books that move me. Its getting harder to find books that aren't offensive. The last one I loved was Three Cups Of Tea. It was so wonderful that I loved adding it my book collection. The latest book I read for book club was so offensive to me that I threw it away. I didn't finish half of it.
I'll finish this tonight. Breakfast is ready....

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Latest School Meeting

I went to a mtg with the District, principal, Resource Head, kindergarten teacher, speech therapist, teacher consultant, school psychologist and two others whose names and positions I can not remember. Add Mr. Wonderful to the mix and it made for one crowded conference room. DD joined us after school was out, quietly ate a snack I brought, and then colored on any blank paper she could get her hands on.

The meeting started out with an apology to me for the way communication was handled during the past two months. There will be extensive communication guidelines written into the next IEP. Then the findings of the behavior study were presented. We were given a schedule of her day and how she acts to certain study blocks where she is mainstreamed in class activities or taken out for special services. A plan was presented to add to her IEP next week.

I have to say that this is the first meeting I've had with the district where I felt like I was heard and that my knowledge was valuable. Everyone was amicable. I brought up certain concerns on her behavior that were addressed. When the behavior study was finished, we continued on to her upcoming surgery and how to best help DD. The speech therapist will be working on helping DD vocalize feelings with a goal towards helping her understand how to communicate pain as well as feeling during school.

The school psychologist discussed ways to prepare DD and our three boys for DD's surgery. I am particularly concerned about DS#3 as he is so sensitive to family vibes.

It was made clear at the end of the meeting that we would not be getting DD's original aide back. I've given up that fight. I can hear my mom in my head telling me "Pick your battles. Is this one worth it or is there something more important to you?" I love how her wisdom sticks around for when I need it most. DD's IEP was scheduled for next week. I need to make goals for that meeting. Along with the typical academic, behavior and independence goals, I have asked for goals in safety and a emergency plan layout if (heaven forbid) she ever runs away. In the meantime, I am looking into identification bracelets.

And just so I can focus on what all this is about:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What's For Dinner

Mango Chicken Stir Fry

I have not tried this yet. At least four of my Online Cookies are making it this week. Its healthy and inexpensive right now as mangoes and asparagus are good prices right now. I'm really looking forward to dinner tonight!

1 1/4 pound skinless, bonless chicken thighs
1 large mango
1/4 pound asparagus
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 garlic cloves -- minced
1 Tbsp ginger root -- minced
2 medium scallion -- minced (separate white part from green)
1/2 cup minced cilantro

Slice chicken as thinly as possible. Peel mango and cut flesh off the seed. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside. Snap the fibrous ends off the asparagus and cut the stalks on the diagonal into 1 inch pieces. If using green beans, remove the ends and cut on the diagonal into 1 inch pieces.

Combine soy sauce, orange juice, honey and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. The recipe can be prepared ahead to this stage.

Just before serving, heat a nonstick wok or frying pan over high heat. Swirl in the oil. Add the garlic, ginger and scallion whites and stir fry until fragrant but not brown, about 15 seconds. Add the chicken and asparagus or green beans and stir fry for 2 minutes. Stir the sauce again and add it to the pan. Continue stir frying until chicken is cooked and nicely coated with sauce, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the mango, scallion greens, and cilantro leaves and cook for 20 seconds. Serve at once.

Per serving (based on 4 servings) 199 calories, 7 g fat, 18 g protein, 18 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 67 mg cholesterol, 523 mg sodium

Monday, March 10, 2008

Does it get any better than this?
apple tree

Tonight for Family Home Evening Mr. Wonderful and the kids planted five fruit trees. I've never had fruit trees before and was so excited to see them on sale at Costco. We spent some time mentally plotting out where the trees should go, where the future raspberries bushes would go, and where to put the square foot planter boxes for the garden. Then I went inside to clean up the kitchen and get our Family Night treat ready.

My window over the kitchen sink looks out into the back yard. For the first time in any house, I had a great view of the backyard as I washed the dishes that didn't fit into the dishwasher. DD and DS#3 were playing with Dear Doggie Girl, who was running like a whirlwind chasing the balls thrown to her. DS#2 helped Mr. Wonderful dig and plant the trees. DS#1 cleaned up the dog bombs in the backyard. When everyone was done there was an impromptu game of catch.

I loved my vantage point. The kids were getting along. DS#1 and DS#2 proved that they could play nicely together (who knew?). Everyone was laughing when they tromped into the house for strawberry shortcake.

Now the younger kids are cuddled up in bed with Mr. Wonderful and watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. DS#1 is finishing his laundry chore and then his homework. DS#2 is finishing the kitchen floor. Everyone is home. Everyone is safe. Everyone is healthy.

Ah, peace.....

I spoke too soon. All is not peaceful as I can hear DS#2 squirting whipped cream directly into his mouth. *sigh* My idyllic scene is not ruined, just postponed until I can get the kids to bed.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes

liz lemon swindle - he lives

This has been a roller coaster week. I've given a great deal of thought to my gratitudes today.

First of all I am so grateful for Mr. Wonderful. We stayed up half the night talking. He held me while I cried and admitted my worst fears. I haven't cried like that since I was 7 yr old. Mr. Wonderful has such a calming influence. He helps me to think in a completely different direction. Together we decided not to sue the district. While I still believe that what they did was wrong, I need to focus all my energy on DD's upcoming surgery. Mr. Wonderful pointed out that every day with her is a gift, that every success she has is more than we ever expected. God's plan is perfect. I just need to "let go and let God".

Today I had the kids with me in Sacrament meeting. Mr. Wonderful was sick at home. The chapel was so crowded due to a missionary send-off that there was no where for my kids to sit except up in the choir seats with me. While the sacrament was being passed, DD started to get loud. She wanted to color and we have a rule that there are no quiet activities until after the sacrament is passed. With DD getting upset I thought I would have to leave the chapel (with all those eyes on me). Instead I pulled out a small pass-along card my church puts out. It had a picture of Jesus leaving the tomb (the same picture you see at the top of my Gratitudes today). I whispered in DD's ear about Jesus giving us the first sacrament and how we must be reverent to show that we love Him. DD quit struggling and started to listen. I kept whispering in her ear for a few more minutes about how much Jesus loves her. When I was done she turned around in my lap to face me and put her arms around my neck. DD kissed me softly on the cheek and said "Thanks, Mom." Sometimes I wonder about my daughter. It seems her wisdom is too great for her little body. I am so grateful to have her in my life.

I'm grateful for my church family. They have been praying so long for my Utah house to sell. Now, as word gets out about DD's surgery, they are adding her in their prayers. I have had so many offers to help with my sons if the surgery happens during the school year. Others have asked if I needed help getting things planned and ready. One even offered to take over my ward chorister job (and she isn't even in my ward). I'm grateful that I have people like this surrounding me.

I'm grateful for prayer. I've prayed more than ever this past week. I've had a testimony for years that I know God loves me. I have felt His love for me and my family this week.

I'm grateful that our kids illnesses have not been severe. Everyone is starting to feel better. I'm even more grateful that I have not gotten sick. Its hard to be the Mom when I'm to sick to take care of everyone else.

I'm grateful for good TV. On Sundays we watch Extreme Home Makeover. We used to have to switch channels fast of turn the TV off when EHM was over and before Desperate Housewives came on (what genius though of stringing those two together?) Now the network has Oprah's Big Give. Its nice to be able to find something clean to watch. I miss TV when I was a child. The Wonderful World of Disney followed by Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom followed by The Osmonds. My whole family would gather. We had a huge patchwork pillow my mom made that four kids could lay on, one child on each side. We popped huge bowls of popcorn and made orange juice. Good memories.

I'm grateful for the peace I've felt for three days now. I hope it lasts.
Oh, To be Martha....

Anna has a blog about Martha Stewart and her crafts. I LOLed as it reminded me of an episode where Martha taught how one must organize their laundry room. She used her own rather large and perfectly decorated laundry room at Turkey Hill (her estate at the time) as an example. Martha waxed eloquent about how wonderful and easy it made her life to have a laundry room with everything in its place.

The next day I read a newspaper article about an interview with Ms. Stewart. She told the reporter that she had SIX PEOPLE working as her laundry room staff at Turkey Hill. (This does not include the staff for housekeeping, cooking, landscape, or farm workers.)

Oh yes, my life would be so much easier if I had a laundry staff of six people, too.

Do you think they appreciated her organizing the laundry room for them?

(I'll post my Sunday Gratitudes after church. I just had to comment on this. I am still LOL! Thanks, Anna.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

I'd like to thank the Blogging Academy for this honor...
Blog Buddies Award
I've been awarded! I had no idea these things existed. Mum2Brady at Brady's Bunch saw fit to award me this Blog Buddies Award. Can't wait to see her soon. I just wish the reason for me to be in Utah did not have to be DD's surgery. This award is pretty neat. I don't have to dust it and it won't end up in my kids toy box the way my high school drama awards did.
Since Mum2Brady mentioned that I post yummy recipes, I'd better do one now. This is one of my favorites and on the agenda for tomorrow's supper:
Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar Pan Sauce
To assure the chicken gets done, use breasts on the small side, about 4 to 5 ounces each. Serve with polenta or orzo to absorb the sauce.
My notes: creamy poelnta made with parmesan is definitely the way to go on this one. The chicken recipe is super easy, restaurant quality, and I always have the ingredients on hand.
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 (5-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
Chopped parsley (optional)
Combine broth, vinegar, and honey.

Melt butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat.
While butter melts, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess flour.

Increase heat to medium-high; heat 2 minutes or until the butter turns golden brown. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add shallots, and sauté 30 seconds. Add the broth mixture, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Serve sauce over chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 breast and 2 tablespoons sauce)CALORIES 269 (27% from fat); FAT 8.1g (sat 2.7g,mono 2g,poly 2.5g); PROTEIN 34g; CHOLESTEROL 90mg; CALCIUM 29mg; SODIUM 331mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 1.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 13.1g
Cooking Light, MARCH 2004

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Midweek Gratitudes


I had a mtg this morning with the district, principal, resource head, kindergarten teacher, therapists, and O's mom. Last night I consulted with an attorney and was told I have a case against the district. So today at the end of the meeting, with the agreement of O's mom, I told the group that I had consulted an attorney and we had demands. We want DD's and O's para aide returned to them by Monday or our next mtg will be with a lawyer.

I bawled through the whole speech. I was calm. I wasn't angry. But the stress of everything these past 6-7 weeks coupled with Lauren's medical news from the weekend have really worn me down.

Serenity now.

This afternoon I sent an email to everyone in the mtg to let them know that I was grateful for their compassion and that I truly did not consider them to be adversaries. We agree on everything but one issue.

O's mom and I waited around for the girls to be done with school and talked outside. It breaks our hearts to have to go in this direction but we truly feel like there are no other solutions. We're grateful for the friendship our daughters have together.

My first gratitude!....

1. I'm grateful for DD's friendship with 'O'. DD talks about her friend daily and prays for her at night. O's mom and I want the friendship to continue all through school and beyond.

2. I'm grateful for DD's kindergarten teacher and resource head. They truly do have my daughter's best interest at heart. They've had to work around so many complications these past 6-7 weeks. I feel that they've been caught in the middle as much as we have.

3. I'm grateful for sunshine. I'm sitting in my computer nook with sun pouring through the tall windows. I'm liking this light therapy. It is doing wonders for my attitude right now.

4. I'm grateful for wonderful friends. I just received a call from a dear neighbor. She is pregnant and due in April. She just offered to come over and either help plant my garden when its time or plant it for me if its during DD's surgery time. This neighbor was the first to greet us at church when we moved here. She is utterly selfless with her time and talents. She is one of those people I look at in awe and believe she already has her ticket to the Celestial Kingdom.

Another dear friend, whose daughter with Ds went through heart surgery, emailed to share a very personal experience that happened to her before surgery. I needed that story and that testimony. Tons of gratitude for that.

Another friend whose daughter with Ds went through heart surgery, emailed to share her experience in the temple . I needed that, too. Sending gratitude.

I've also received emails from friends near and far telling me that they are praying for us and offering help if they live in Idaho or Utah. To all of you, I am deeply grateful for you, too. Its wonderful to feel loved.

5. I'm grateful for a very dear and very smart brother. He knows why. On top of that, he has offered to make me dinner next time I visit Utah. How can I refuse that from another foodie? Sending cyber hugs to you.

I'm in desperate need to give service right now and think outside of me and my needs for a while. I've learned how to crochet baby hats and booties for the Newborn kits the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sends to Central and South America and Africa. I'm on my third hat and putting a lot of love into it. I'm off to spread a little more love right now.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I didn't post a Sunday Gratitude list and I am starting to feel guilt about it. With the news of DD's heart surgery I think I am going through the grieving steps that I was told I would have when she was born. It never happened then but it sure is happening now with a vengeance. First was shock which lasted the weekend. Grief was yesterday. I broke down in front of the Resource head in the hallway at DD's school. I ended up crying most of the day.

Now I am onto anger. I'm not angry at God - His plan is perfect. I'm not angry at the doctors. I'm angry at the school district for putting my family through the past month and a half of pain and anguish. DD still struggles with her new aide. I have found out that they are not telling me about behavior issues at school. There are many issues that I want to bring up with the district. I'm looking into legal help right now. IF the district is willing to give DD's aide to another mom simply because that mom wants it, what is to stop them from taking other things away from my daughter to satisfy the desires of another parent. I am put-on-the-boxing-gloves mad. This whole problem at school has gone too far and I am not going to take it anymore. I have too much on my plate with our latest news.

I need a happy daughter.

I need serenity.

I need to express gratitude.

I will think about it today and post gratitudes either tonight or tomorrow. I don't want to make a quick list. It needs to be more than that.