Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hooray for uneventful travels -

We made it safely to Salt Lake City. DD seems to think this is a great vacation. Grandma and Grandpa had her favorite mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner. DD doesn't have to share any of the toys and she is getting all of the attention. There is a small victory in her playing.... She is dressing the dolls. I believe I posted a year ago that DD loved to undress her dolls, but it was too hard for her to put their clothes back on the dolls. Tonight she is meticulously dressing the dolls, planning coordinated and ultra-hip styles. She is also insisting on doing everything "by myself, Mom!!"

Looks like my evening will be spent crocheting more baby hats and checking emails......

Monday, April 28, 2008

Going Away Party
D's kindergarten class had a small going away party. They worked hard to make her a scrapbook. Each child wrote her a letter and pasted their picture on the page. Each page also had a drawing by the student.
DD sat in the important red chair for her special day.

The student teacher sat down with her to help her read. Each classmate wanted their letter read aloud. It was DD's job to look at the picture and tell everyone whose letter was being read.

A quick pose of DD"s class. You can barely see DD at the top in the Important Red Chair.

We brought HUGE cupcakes from Costco to share with her class. The were so big we had to cut them in half. It made a great snack with ice cold milk.
The Resource teacher also made a scrapbook with all of the teachers, paras, and students in resource. DD loved looking at the pictures. These are two wonderful books that we will be taking with us to the hospital.

Resource also told me that DD has started sounding out words. My kindergartener is READING?!!! In honor of this and to practice skills, DD was presented with the Dr. Seuss classic:

hop on pop

There was also a CD to read along with the book and a flash cards of practice words. We shall put those to good use. DD was excited to bring everything home.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

To everyone has fasted, who have sent sweet letters, cookies, books for me, coloring books and story books and activities for DD, packages and more:

Thank You!
I am so overwhelmed by your generosity this day. I want to hug you all, thank you personally, and write thank you notes but some of you wish to remain anonymous. I pray that Heavenly Father will send to you the blessings you so richly deserve. I might not know who all of you are, but He surely does.
Sunday Gratitudes

Of Such is the Kingdom of God -Simon Dewey

This weekend was stake conference for my area. Elder David A. Bednar, one of the apostles, came to preside over our meeting and set apart a new stake presidency. I am so grateful for his counsel this weekend. We went to both the adult meeting last night and stake conference today. Elder Bednar has a way of teaching with such simplicity, yet in a way to broaden my understanding. He has made me want to study more on Moral Agency, on having a broken heart, and sustaining those who are called to teach and lead.

I am grateful for the boys soccer games yesterday. DS#2 scored 6 of the twelve goals his team made. DS has now decided that soccer is very cool indeed. He has a natural ability for sports that amazes me. DS#3 scored a goal in his soccer game, too. He was so proud of it. He is turning into a fast runner. I think I might have to find a track program as he is really showing a talent for running.

I'm grateful that DS#1 is on his last week of lifeguard training. He has worked hard and is looking forward to finding a job this summer. Next up .... driver's ed.

I'm grateful for all the help we have been offered this past week. Neighbors and ward members have all been so gracious. I have a few who have offered to be contacts and deliver any news to the rest of the ward and neighborhood. Others have offered to help with the boys while I am gone.

I am so grateful for our ward Primary. They organized a fast for DD today. Even the little kids were happy to fast one meal. I have such great faith in the power of fasting and prayer. I know that there will be blessings for this.

I am grateful for the continued feeling of peace. I have been able to talk about the upcoming surgery without dissolving into tears. I have confidence in the doctors. I hope that this strength continues through Thursday. I can't let my daughter see me cry, not on that day.

I'm grateful for my twin sis who will be coming to sit with Mr. Wonderful and me on Thursday. I told her weeks ago that we would be fine, but I have to admit that I am so deeply thankful that she didn't listen to me and arranged her schedule to be free for us that day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bit of a confession...

The following is all about me. Feel free to skip.

I have been doing Weight Watchers for 6 months now. I have lost a whopping total of.....9 lbs.

I don't like to exercise and I've haven't had much motivation lately in the countdown to DD's heart surgery. I'm afraid that being in the hospital I will either 1. forget to eat until I am ravenous and then grab the first unhealthy thing I see, or 2. not be able to find good food choices from the get-go. I am not crazy about cookies, cake or candy. I am crazy about ice cream, high-quality chocolate, breads, British-style scones, and pastas. I am positively addicted to Japanese rice crackers

I don't know how I will find time to exercise or what I will do. I am packing yarn to keep my hands busy. I plan on taking the stairs everywhere in the hospital (I'll be taking Mr. Wonderful's Cookie-Approved pedometer that he hasn't not opened since he received it for Christmas). I used to like exercise in college. I danced 6 hours a day (which was torture as everyone was compared to everyone and I was the only one w/out any previous dance experience, but the energy result was fantastic). At night I would run up to the temple and back. Exercise was easy when I was a cute, skinny, young thing.

Not anymore. Not skinny. Not young. Not feeling cute on a daily basis. I guess I don't like exercise because is not easy like it was way back when.

Since I won't be able to go to meetings for a while I am contacting the main WW office for my area to find out what kind of excuse note I need. I will miss the meetings. I want to hit goal by my 40th birthday which means I have 6 months to lose 30 lbs. I am not going to be close at the rate I am going unless I change my routine.

Help me out here. I need comments, advice, rah-rahs with cyber pom-poms, something....

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ahhh, decadence...

My cousin Anna has been posting Martha Stewart recipes on her site. She shows a weakness for lemon. Mmmmm. In the spirit of sharing, may I present my two favorite Martha Stewart recipes. They are not low fat but they are oh-so-good!

Chocolate Babka

While we're at it check out the Macrina Bakery cookbook I picked up in Seattle. I can't wait to start working through that.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Food Storage

Saving Money

Has the news of wheat and rice shortages made anyone else a little antsy (although it doesn't look like a true shortage but instead the news media getting melodramatic)? What about middle class families with jobs having to go to food banks because the price of food is getting higher? Those stories have been all over the news. I saw one a few weeks ago of a woman who makes $70K a year having to go to the food bank. She also asked her mom to move in to help pay for utilities.

I am chomping at the bit to get my food storage shelves built in the garage so I can reorganize my food storage and catch up on the wheat (we had to throw out most of if when we moved b/c someone poked holes in all of the bags with a screwdriver). Unfortunately, with DD's surgery coming up and all the things I need to take care of before then, I don't have time to build shelves or my square foot garden.

I am pulling out my wheat grinder and Bosch mixer so I can start making bread again.

I've started researching homemade cleaners (laundry, kitchen, windows, bath, etc) since I've read articles about families who save money that way.

I am a couponer. My best savings was $140 worth of groceries for $35. I wish I could save like that more often. But coupons do help. I don't buy much by way of prepackaged food items but I do save quite a bit on soup, baking, cleaning, and personal items.

I do my Christmas and birthday shopping throughout the year when I find great sales. My latest score happened yesterday whenI found mini bottles of men's colognes (Obsession, CK One, Nautica, etc.) marked down 50% to $6 at Target. Those will be stocking stuffers for Mr. Wonderful and the older boys. A few month ago I was able to buy BYU hoodies for the same three guys in my life at 50% off at Deseret Book. Pinching Your Pennies is a great resource for internet sales. Sign up for their email alerts. They also find great clothing sales for kids.

One thing I have already started is a collection of recipes for inexpensive meals. I lost most of the record when my computer had to be redone, but I remember what recipes they were so I need to download them onto my MasterCook software and keep going. That, at least, is something I can do.

I'm always looking for more recipes. What do you have by way of inexpensive meal plans? What do you have in your food storage you know your family will eat?

What do you do to save money?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes

I just came back from a weekend in Seattle with my online Cookies. I loved seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones to go with the names and posts I've read for so long. I have not met all the Cookies yet. One of these days....

When I came home there was a package for me with a note that said "Read This First". The note was from my Cookie friend Carol . She wanted to make DD something special to show her love and support during the upcoming heart surgery. She originally considered a prayer shawl and then adapted the idea to a 5 year old girl. The result was this absolutely darling "Little Red" cape that she knitted. I knew Carol was working on a special project. I didn't know that it would be for my daughter. Carol's sweet note brought tears to my eyes. My heart is so full right now.

What Carol doesn't know: at the airport I was looking for a book to read on the plane to Seattle. I finally picked one because it looked safe (as in no pages I would have to skip or else I would blush.) The book is called Back On Blossom Street. Its a Christian fiction book about the lives of a group of knitters who decided to make prayer shawls. I finished the book on the plane ride home tonight. And then I find at home a prayer shawl/cape/Carol Hug for my daughter.

Here is my gratitude to Carol for sharing her love and amazing knitting skills. DD and I will treasure this gift always.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hallelujah! I found an online modesty magazine called JEN. Its about time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Day With my Firstborn

Firstborn had the day off from school so we headed to the mall for some much overdue Sunday clothes. In the past six month, the kid has grown 5". He was beginning to look like Lurch with his too-short shirt sleeves.

We headed to the men's department. The suit salesman took one look at Firstborn, rubbed his white hair and announced that he didn't " have anything for a size 28 waist. You are a size 28 waist, aren't you Son?" I started laughing. Firstborn might have a size 28 waist if he sucked in as much air as he could to distend his belly. We were escorted to the boys department where I dubiously looked at the pants thinking that we would never find the length we needed. Welcome to the land of growing teens.

One pair of pants + a short-sleeved white shirt + a tie = a lot of money......unless you are shopping in a department store that is currently undergoing remodeling and has huge sales to draw in customers. Gotta love 50% off. More important than the savings was the conversation. It is rare lately for Firstborn and I to have regular conversations. The kind where there is no correction or teen 'tude involved. It was so nice to just listen to him and be witness to what a great kid he is turning out to be.

After the mall, we headed to the elementary school to pick up my daughter. She was so thrilled to see her big brother. She introduced him to her Special Ed teachers, her kindergarten teacher and her future first grade teacher. I was proud of how Firstborn carried himself. He look people in the eye, told everyone it was nice to meet them, and gave out high-fives to the other kids in the Resource room (there was one particular boy with Down syndrome who was drawn like a magnet to my son. He received multiple high-fives). I was proud to be his mom.

We headed to lunch at Firstborn's favorite place. Dear Daughter wanted to sit by him, talk to him, idolize him. She never gets him to herself so it was fun to watch their interaction. The love was given and received on both sides. They shared food together while Firstborn encouraged Dear Daughter to talk about her day.

It is days like these where God's plans become just a bit more clearer to me. Would Firstborn be a good kid if DD did not have Down syndrome? Quite possibly. Would he be so comfortable around kids with disabilities if he was not exposed to the community of families that Dear Daughter has introduced to us through her schooling and activities? Probably not. Right now, I see a 15 year old boy who has patience, wisdom, and understanding beyond the average teen. I want to enjoy this moment but I can't help thinking about what a great missionary he will be and, further down the road, what a great husband and father he will be.

God's plan is better than my plan.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Two weeks and counting...

Yesterday I took DD to the hospital to have her blood typed. I wanted plenty of time to set up the family direct donor blood bank for her upcoming surgery. DD did not cry at all during the blood work. She held so still and thoroughly amazed the phlebotomist.

Phlebotomist told me that she would have to be retyped before surgery as they will not accept any testing over three days. WHAT? I believe that blood type doesn't change over the course of your lifetime. Why would they need to test her again?

Today I called ARUP blood services to set up the family donor bank. Another road block. It turns out that insurance doesn't pay for any of it. Not only would we be paying for the collecting and storing of the blood, we would also pay for typing all family donors and irradiating the blood to prevent something called Graft vs. Host disease which can happen with family donors. I asked ARUP why the hospital would even give me the information to do this and they told me it was for legal reasons. But they strongly suggested against it. I'm grateful that the manager of ARUP told me about this up front rather than presenting me with a very big bill later on.

I was looking forward to doing something to help DD. After talking to Mr. Wonderful about this we decided not to go through the stress and expense of setting up a family blood bank.

DD endured a needle stick for nothing. Good thing that she is the most forgiving person I know. This child doesn't know how to hold a grudge. She forgives the way we are all taught to forgive, completely and with no residual anger or resentment.

Two weeks left on the count down.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mama's In The Kitchen
Chocolate Chip Dutch Baby

CL Notes: A Dutch baby is a puffy, baked pancake. A preheated cast-iron skillet enables the batter to start cooking immediately and causes it to puff. Cook the bananas while the Dutch baby is in the oven, so they'll be done at the same time.

My Notes: I subbed OJ for the Kahlua and added 1 tsp of rum flavoring. I also added a can of mandarin oranges (drained) to the bananas which I cut into coins. Very yummy and great for Sunday breakfast. Would also work for dessert.

3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 large firm bananas, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup coffee-flavored liqueur (KahlĂșa)
1/2 cup frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed

Preheat oven to 450°.

Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in a 450° oven for 15 minutes. Combine first 5 ingredients, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in preheated pan until browned, swirling to evenly coat pan. Add batter; sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until puffed and browned.

Cut banana halves in half crosswise. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bananas; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Add liqueur; simmer 1 minute. Serve with Dutch baby; top with whipped topping.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 dutch baby wedge, 2 banana pieces, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons whipped topping)

CALORIES 326 (28% from fat); FAT 10g (sat 5.7g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 5.3g; CHOLESTEROL 83mg; CALCIUM 55mg; SODIUM 175mg; FIBER 2.5g; IRON 1.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 47.8g Cooking Light, JANUARY 2004
Sunday Gratitudes

1. Date night. Last night, Mr. Wonderful took me out. He had been out all week (business trip to SLC) and he certainly wasn't in the mood for dinner out after eating out all week. But he knew how important it was for me to get "out". A favorite local restaurant opened up a new venue in our town so we headed there. After that we stopped at a few furniture stores for a quick run-through before heading up to a local view spot. I teased Mr. Wonderful, asking if he was taking me to a local make-out spot. he laughed and told me to wait and see. The view was amazing. It would have been a great make-out spot....if everyone and their kids wasn't also there to watch the sunset. Still it was nice to sit on the rock outcropping and talk - something we rarely get to do. The whole evening was just perfect and I am refreshed and ready for the week.

2. Glorious weather and kids sports. It has been sunny and in the 70s this weekend. Yesterday we watched DS#2 and DS#3's first soccer games. It was a riot to watch DS#3, who is not quite sure how the game is played. Scores are not kept in his division, otherwise he would have known that they were beaten badly. But, near the end of the game, he finally figured it out on his own and got a great run all the way down the field with the ball. He almost made a goal.....missed by inches. DS#2 played his game at the same time, which Mr. Wonderful attended. I have also seen the magnolias starting to bloom. I miss the mags I planted in our first Utah house. I will shop this week for more.

3. Exercise. I found a DVD that I liked. Jillian Michaels (from the Biggest Loser) 30 Day Shred. I didn't think that a 20 minute workout would do much but it I was so sore the next day! And 20 minutes is a time schedule that even the exercise-challenged (me) can handle. I'm actually looking forward to trying the next level up (there are three.) This will be combined with time on my elliptical and time with my furry four-legged walk/run partner. Now if I could just get to the point where I could run the entire distance with her.

4. New friends. I just received a call from our Lebanese friends. It was so fun to hear from them. Their 4 year old twins still talk about DD, and she still talks about them. They had just heard about DD's upcoming heart surgery (I have no idea how they learned about that) and they wanted to check in to hear the details. The language barrier is harder when it is over the phone ( and long distance from Lebanon is not cheap!) Still, to know they cared was just warmed my heart.

5. Active kids. Not only do DS#2 and #3 love soccer (after complaining that they didn't want to sign up. I should tell them "See. Mom really is smart about these things and everything!"), but DS#1 is having a great time in lifeguard class. The energy is getting drained out of them 2-3 times a week. For those of you with active kids, you know that this is a very good thing. I can hardly wait for DD to be declared strong enough after surgery to be enrolled in swimming or dance or gymnastics. While she is healing I plan on checking out a great many programs to see what will be best for her. I know that a gym in out town has a gymnastics class specifically to train kids like DD for Special Olympics so I am leaning in that direction.

6. Cooking at home. It is no secret that I love to cook. I love researching recipes and read cookbooks like novels. Getting healthy recipes online only fuels that addiction. I love putting healthy food on the table and having my family gather together for nearly every dinner of the week. This week on the menu: PanFried Steak and smashed potatoes (from my DB#2), Avgolemono Soup and a Roasted Red Pepper and Cauliflower Salad with Goat Cheese Toasts, Shrimp and Snowpea Stirfry, Spaghetti Bolognese, and Fresh Tuna Fish Tacos with Citrus Spiked Jicama and Carrot Slaw. Yum! Fridays are always pizza night (sometimes homemade, sometimes purchased). Wednesdays are always spaghetti (Bolognese - which is a fancy way to say meat and vegetable sauce - or a marinara). Mondays are always vegetarian (sometimes Thursdays are, too).

7. Modern medicine and technology. I just received a big packet from the hospital about DD's upcoming heart surgery. What I am really grateful for are the pictures of the babies and kids after heart surgery with all of the tubes and monitors and bandages. I think it will help me to see that now and get used to the visual so I can be strong for DD. I plan on getting a blessing for myself before her surgery. I thought about calling my dr and asking for a few pills to help me through it but, after praying about it, feel very strongly that I do not need that kind of help. I'm going to rely on my faith and Heavenly Father's love to keep me strong. I also found out in that packet, that family and friends can donate blood for DD's specific use during her surgery. I need to get the details and then I will send an email out to let them know where and how. If you have chance to donate blood where ever you are please do and think of DD. I know that it will be put to good use for someone who needs it. Isn't it great that we have the technology to do that?

8. Ward Activity Chair people. Friday night my ward had an activity that people had asked them to repeat from last fall. All the couples put together a date night (gift certs and such) and packaged them up to be given out at the activity. Every couple had a chance to choose a gift or take one that someone else had opened. I wrote a story about a couple who went Into The Woods (written in my own cheesy poetry style) with pictures I downloaded off the 'Net. The story ended with two tickets to the opening night of a play this summer performed at an outdoor amphitheater. The date night that Mr. Wonderful and I won ended up being a double date with the couple who made the gift to go float down the local river, a picnic lunch from a local cafe I have not tried yet, and ice cream at a local institution for burgers and shakes. The date was packaged with a sand bucket, his and hers inflatable arm swimmies, sunglasses, flip-flops, and sun hats. I'm really looking forward to that date. There was not a big turn out due to General Conference being the week before and people are either out of town or forgot. I just wanted the Ward Activity Chair people to know that I really appreciated their efforts and that I had a great time.

9. Good neighbors. With this warm weather, people are starting to get out and see each other. It was nice to visit with the neighbors this week and see how things are going. Everyone has been so kind to offer help and check up on each other.

10. Good stores. After seeing the stores my parents shop at in Kinshasa , I am so grateful for well-stocked stores within easy distance and that I can afford to buy food and clothing for my family. Not to mention that I feel safe in my area. I have to admit I worry about my parents safety but I know that Heavenly Father is looking out for them.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Mama's In The Kitchen

Swiss Enchiladas

CL's notes: Add a dash of cumin or paprika to the onions, if you'd like. You can also use purchased rotisserie chicken to cut down on the prep time.

My notes: Very family friendly. Not spicy at all. This makes a lot of filling so fill more than 6 tortillas and put a batch in the freezer. They are also pretty big so I eat half of a serving to cut down on calories. This is great with beans and rice and a salad. I skip the last step of broiling. The cheese is golden and brown in spots and doesn't need it.

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 2 breasts)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (4.5-ounce) cans diced green chiles, undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt6 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken, garlic, chiles, and tomatoes. Reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Set aside.

Combine milk and flour in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook 5 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in salt.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken mixture and about 2 1/2 tablespoons cheese down center of each tortilla; roll up. Arrange filled tortillas in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour milk mixture over tortillas, and top evenly with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven.

Preheat broiler.

Broil casserole for 3 minutes or until cheese begins to brown. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 enchilada and about 1/3 cup sauce)

CALORIES 419 (28% from fat); FAT 13.2g (sat 7.9g,mono 3.7g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 33.2g; CHOLESTEROL 79mg; CALCIUM 474mg; SODIUM 726mg; FIBER 4.3g; IRON 2.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 41.8g
Movie Meme

Favorite movies you have to be "in the mood" for in order to enjoy:

1. Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
2. Harry Potter (you can't watch just one, you have to reserve the whole day for a HP Film Fest)

Favorite movies that make you laugh out loud no matter how many times you have watched them:

1. Hitch
2. That Thing You Do ("When was the last time you were good-and-kissed?")

Your favorite "Guilty Pleasures"

1. Room With A View "Oh, look! Oh..no...don't look!"
2. (No other guilty pleasures)

Favorite movies you have seen so many times, you can recite all the lines

1. Ferris Beuhler's Day Off
2. Better Off Dead ("Frawnch dressing, Frawnch bread, and Frawnch Fries!")

Movies that "Opened your eyes."

1. Lorenzo's Oil
2. Shine

Most Overrated

1. Napoleon Dynamite
2. Titanic (sorry, never could get into it.)

What were the last 2 movies you watched

1. Dan In real Life (cute)
2. Becoming Jane

Favorite "smart" movies

1. Cold Comfort Farm
2. Remains Of The Day

Your spouse's/significant other's favorites

1. Braveheart
2. The Patriot

Your all time favorites:

1. Pride & Prejudice or anything Jane Austen (truly I will pick them any time)
2. Strictly Ballroom

I tag.....Carol at "Country Mouse", Kimberly at "Heartstrings", and Hayley at "Virginia Lover"
Learning From My Daughter

My Visiting Teaching companion and her family came over for dinner on Monday night. The invitation was a bit of a shameless bribe, actually. Her husband was a military IT guy and I needed him to fix my computer.

Dinner was tasty (bruschetta, caesar salad, pasta alfredo with chicken and broccoli, and a polenta pound cake with fresh strawberries and whip cream.) DS#1 and #2 played with their sons the same age. DD monopolized their teen daughter. Everyone talked and laughed while the kids watched movies or played football.

Our second Sunday in this area, Mr. Wonderful was not at church with us. I can't remember if he had to work, was out of town, or sick in bed. I was doing the single mom thing. Its not easy to manage four kids without the backup of a spouse. We barely made it to church on time. The only soft seats available was a half-of-a-bench near the front where my future VT companion and her family were sitting. DD immediately scooted right over to them and glued herself to their teen daughter. DD then smiled at me and said in a not-quiet-enough whisper "Mom! MOM!!". she then pointed at her seat mate and said "My new friend!"

DD usually will huge everyone but she doesn't stick around and prefers the comfort of my lap. Not this time. She stuck to her new friend all through Sacrament Meeting. I worried that this teen might not appreciate her instant sidekick. It turned out that she loved it and they formed a bond. DD always has to say hi to her and looks for her every Sunday.

DD had the right attitude. It was an epiphany for me. I had to look at all of the strangers in my new ward as potential new friends. Suddenly it wasn't so hard to do the single mom thing in church. I found Julie in Relief Society and introduced myself. Not long after that we were called to be VT Companions.

Fast forward to last Monday. Computer was mostly fixed. Sound card still isn't working. It looks like another dinner invitation is in order. Apparently, VTs husband is a huge curry addict, having once lived in England. I need to brush up on my Indian cooking skills.

Her sons payed me the ultimate compliment as they left that night. One had a bruschetta in his hands and his cheeks were distended from the bruschetta in his mouth. Another had grabbed a second (or was it third?) piece of cake to eat on the way home. I love it when people love my cooking! The boys were sweet enough to tell me so on their way out.

I discovered that VT companion is a kindred spirit. We ended up talking non stop. We made a promise before she left for a sushi date in the future.

Its rare to find a VT companion that you know you will be friends with long after the calling is gone. I hope we're companions for a long time.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes
SL temple spring
1. This weekend was the semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Brady's Mom at Brady's Bunch calls it 'Jammies Church'. We have started the same tradition of watching Conference on TV while wearing our most comfortable jammies. I have a lot of treats in stock. This year, there was a 15 page Conference Packet floating around the Internet. It was full of games, coloring pages, and places to write down thoughts. I printed out three copies for my three youngest. They loved it, especially playing Conference Bingo with Cheezits crackers for the game tokens. Everyone was so full of treats that I didn't bother cooking all day. I'm grateful for the time we spent together as a family.

2. I'm also grateful for the messages given during Conference. Audio and visual archives General Conference can be seen and heard here. I'm eager for the transcripts to be available on Thursday so I can take my time to study them further. My favorite speakers are.....well this year it is too hard to pick a favorite. There were so many messages I needed to hear. The music was inspiring and there are a few pieces I want to track down for my ward choir.

3. I'm grateful that we've made our family scripture study a habit. The chapters we have studied in the past month were talked about during conference today. We had many great moments where one of the kids would say "Hey! We just read that!" when one of the General Authorities would quote certain verses or talk about Abinidai, Alma, Alma the Younger, and Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni. This was the first time I watched my kids really listen to and enjoy the Conference speakers.

4. I'm grateful for a surprise visit from dear friends from Utah. We had no idea they were in our area and I'm grateful that they took the time to come find us. We had a great hour visiting. These are dear friends from our game night group. The kind of people that will be friends forever.

5. I'm grateful for this feeling of peace I have had since my three angels were put into my path. Mr. Wonderful and I have talked long into the night about our blessing that we recognize. We know that they are many and that there are many more that we do not recognize. I have added into my prayers the asking for wisdom to recognize all my blessings. Counting them has really helped in keeping my courage up and my faith strong.

6. Tomato plants. My sweet neighbor has brought over three tomato plants that she started for me. I had planned on getting them into the ground this weekend but Mr. Wonderful will not be able to build my grow boxes until next weekend. So they are sitting on my kitchen windowsill, my visual promise to get my garden in this year. There is nothing better than eating a garden fresh tomato, warmed by the sun, and my toes wiggling in the dirt. All I need is a salt shaker and an apron. Who needs plates, forks, or dinner for that matter?

7. My daughter still continues to bless my heart to be strong. She is also blessing her daddy's heart, GamaPapa Africa's heart, and then the list varies depending on who she is thinking about the most. We have been reading a book by Mr. Rogers about hospitals. I love that it has real pictures and talks about what to expect, including feelings. DD does not have any negative feelings. She loves to point out the pictures that she is familiar with, such as being weighed and measured, checking her heart with a stethoscope, and being x-rayed. Her attitude is so positive and loving and she has affected everyone around her.

8. There is a series called Acts of God that is shown on BYU cable. It is about the Church's Humanitarian work. There have been two episodes dealing with what my parents are doing in Africa. I have loved showing these 30 minute documentaries to my family. The kids were enthralled and kept asking "Is that what they do? "Will they be on this show?" "Is that what the people look like and is that what their houses look like?" It has been eye-opening for my kids to realize the blessing they do have with a home, money sufficient for our needs, education, and basics such as clean water. I am trying to track down a copy to buy. The 4 part series is that good.

9. This weekend I have witnessed again random acts of kindness by my sons. Whether it was a kind word to one of their brothers, playing games together or helping a neighbor, I love seeing proof that they are growing up into young men that I am so proud of.

10. Mr. Wonderful because he is wonderful. He continues to be my rock, my best friend, my love, my partner, and my sounding board. He teaches our children to treat me with respect by his own example. He is the most selfless person I know.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

First Day Of Soccer Practice
DS#3 has been waiting for this day - the first day of soccer practice. It was even better when he got there and found out that one of his teammates is a girl in his class on whom has has a royal crush. This weekend he is skipping an all boy birthday party to be at her birthday party where he will be the only boy. he is even dressing up like a prince with all the girls dressed like princesses. Hm. Anyway, onto the practice...
DS lined up for a drill to practice kicking into the goal.

He winds up for a smashing kick....

....and kicks his shoe off ....

Has this ever happened to you? DS just laughed it off, put the shoe back on, and kept playing. Gotta love that attitude. Its the start of a great season.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

This Is What I Know

I shared this with my friend Tammy at Praying For Parker and thought it might be good to share here, too. Read her blog entry today to see what sparked this. While I wrote it about children with Down syndrome, I think all children with intellectual disabilities qualify.

Our children with Down syndrome are not just great spirits. These great spirits were great teachers long before they came to this earth. Completely self-less, their entire goal was to further the work of Our Father.

They were each told their assignment and the difficulties involved before they came. They knew what their physical limitations would be. They each agreed to come under those circumstances, knowing full well that this was the best way for them to teach Unconditional Love.

They were sent to our families, not because we are great families with fantastic parents (speaking for myself , I can rightly say that we are not). Children with Down syndrome were sent to our families because our families needed them. Not just one person in our family, but all of us - extended families included. That they teach our friends, neighbors, and complete strangers is just a bonus.

Our children are love-magnets. They are forgiving and kind. This is to teach us to let go of hate and anger. Life is too precious to waste on hard hearts.

Our children have emotions as full in range as all of us. They can be angry, ornery, or stubborn. This is to teach us patience. Patience will take some of us a lifetime to learn. That is why our children will need our help long after their peers have grown up and moved on; to give continued lessons in patience.

Our children with Down syndrome are full of joy. They find happiness in the simplest of things. This is to teach us to slow down. Enjoy this life that has been graced to us. See the beauty everywhere you go and in everything you do.

Our children have health problems to teach us to be humble and always pray to our Heavenly Father for strength and grace. It is so hard for us to accept God's plan for us when our hearts ache so much for our children. He has not neglected us. His strength can be felt in every second of every day. His Son has already suffered our heartaches. His own heart ached while He watched His own Son suffer. They know exactly how we feel. They will not leave us alone.

Heavenly Father loves us so much, and dearly wants us to come back to Him. Our children already have that promise made sure. They will be with Him. They are here to encourage us to make it back, too. Their earthly assignment can be summed up to this: teach, encourage, and love with the hope that there will be No Empty Chairs In Heaven.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Bucket List

On a road trip a while back, Dear Son #1 wanted to play the Bucket Game (named after the movie The Bucket List). Name 10 things you want to do or accomplish before you die. Some of the more interesting ones were:

DD: - visit GamaPapa Africa
- kiss Daddy

DS#3: - give food to the poor
- give money to the poor
(I'll post the rest in a minute as he was influenced by his brothers on his last decision.)

DS#2: - serve a mission in China
- Play for the Utah Jazz
- Fly a helicopter to school
- go to space

DS#1: - Write a book called 100 Ways To Get Kicked Out of Walmart
- Make a potato gun
- Invent a new fire fighter technique

At this point DS#3, who had such noble aspirations in the beginning, amended his list to:

- Drive a motorcycle
- Find gold


What are Mom's goals and dreams? I already wrote them down next to my picture on the right. They have not changed for years.

In case you were wondering, my sons will NOT be driving motorcycles as long as they live under my roof.
Mama's In The Kitchen

Chicken-Apple Crunch Salad
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2003
Servings: 4
Posted by DebMj1

My notes: A lot of my on-line Cookies like this in lettuce cups or pita bread. I like mine of Wasa bread (those cracker things from Sweden. Sourdough or Rye are my favorite.)

2 c. cubed cooked chicken breast
1 c. chopped Granny Smith apple
½ c. chopped celery ¼ c. raisins (I use craisins instead)
2 T. chopped green onions
1/3 c. low fat mayonnaise
1 T. reduced fat sour cream
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine mayonnaise and remaining 5 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk. Add mayonnaise mixture to chicken mixture, tossing well to coat.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size = 1 cup.)

Calories=207; Fat=4.4g; Protein=22.4g; Carb=18.4g; Fiber=1.1g; Chol=61mg; Iron=1.2mg; Sodium=402mg; Calcium=32mg