Friday, May 30, 2008

May Day, May Day, Perfect going down in flames.

In my quest for Perfect (the sooner I get there, the sooner I can be translated) I got up this morning and made a hot breakfast for my family (Cornmeal and Rye Waffles. Check my Epicuriosities. Top them with honey and banana. Mmmmmmm) and mentally planned my day. I was going to make sure the kitchen was clean and spotless. Get the laundry done. Reorganize laundry room and pantry. Start decluttering the garage in prep for food storage shelves. I am Super Mom, hear me roar (Smith Nation, are you laughing yet? Surely you can see the setup...)

Then I noticed DS#3. Three days ago I took him for a haircut and told the stylist to buzz his sides and back with a #2 and spike the top (I used my hand to show how long the spikes should be. It is a traditional summer haircut for my boys. One step away from a complete summer buzz cut). I then left them alone and sat in the waiting room, entertaining DD the Love Magnet. DS#3 came up to me after it was all done with ............ a Mohawk:

I was assured by the stylist that the Mohawk was temporary, just for that day. Well now it is three days later and this morning my Thirdborn still had the Mohawk. On top of that, I noticed face paint on his cheek......from Field Day two days ago.

Perfect was shot mercilessly out of the sky and crashed with a glorious KABOOM on the ground. I finally noticed my 7 yr old hasn't washed his hair or face............for three days.

I quickly checked my other children to see just how far away from Perfect I am: Secondborn was clean and dressed. Love Magnet was clean and dressed. Somehow Secondborn had slipped under my momdar.

I'm sure he was thrilled to keep his Mohawk this long. The question is: do I make him wash it out tonight or let him keep it one more day. It has to be gone by the Sabbath. That kid is NOT wearing a Mohawk to church.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Is anyone else feeling bombarded lately?

I'm talking about all the self-help books that claim they can turn my life around. The home decorating shows that imply my style won't be complete without the most high-tech home theater or professional-chef kitchen. The weight loss ads that promise readers that they can lose 30 lbs in 30 days (they can prove it, they have testimonials and REAL doctors!) Make your fortune on Ebay. Try our quiz to see how you rate. Drive this car. You're-not-a-good-mom-unless-you-feed/clothe/buy/teach-your children this way.

When did it become so difficult to be happy with what you have? Its hard enough keeping up with four kids who are allowed one activity each, do they really need more? Am I such a bad mom for not buying only organic food for my family? Do I really need to love myself and my planet more in order to find my true purpose in life?

What on earth is wrong with laugh lines? Why would I want to Botox them away?

In case you were wondering what started all of this............I made the mistake of standing in front of a wall of magazines at a local store. Most of the headliners were annoying. I'm tired of mags telling me I need to change. What about celebrating who I am: the average mom trying to do the best I can with what God has given me.

Speak up. Leave a comment. Does any of this bug you?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happiness is...

Gingersnapspice has asked for her friends to make a Happy List. Here is mine:

1. Rain. Pouring rain. Watching pouring rain while wrapped in an extremely soft afghan and reading a great book. Add a cup of Stephens Gourmet Hazelnut or Mint Truffle Cocoa and I am in heaven. As soon as the rain stops, I head outside just to smell the earth washed clean.

2. Hugs from Mr. Wonderful. He is so tall that I fit perfectly underneath his chin. Once he wraps those arms around me I feel perfectly safe and all-is-right-with-the-world. There are days where I tell him that he can't leave for work, he has to stay right there and keep his arms around me. (Alas, he is responsible and heads for work anyway.)

3. Ordinary snail mail. Not bills. The kind of mail people used to get with cards filled with long letters. The I'm Thinking About You kind of mail. Now that it is rare in these days of emails and IMs it is all the more precious.

4. Watching my sons do something noble when they have no idea I am watching. When they are kind to each other, or helping someone without being asked. The kind of moments that make me so proud to be a mom.

5. Cooking food that everyone loves.

6. Jane Austen. I don't care if it is in book form, film, or even music. Give me documentaries, give me movies that take too many liberties with what Jane Austen's works should be. Most of all, I will take Jane Austen in her purest book form, preferably in combination with #1 followed by #2 (after all, he is my own private Mr. Darcy. It says so in his family history. Too bad my parents didn't name me Elizabeth.)

7. Tomatoes straight from the garden.

8. Beautiful music. Classical, jazz, inspirational. Any kind of music that brings peace to my soul.

9. Watching my daughter serve her mission, teaching unconditional love. Her hugs are better than medicine.

10. Date night. Its wonderful to get away with my Mr. Darcy. It doesn't matter what we do or where we go.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes

This is part of an essay on Down syndrome that appears in the Spring 2008 issue of The New Atlantis. (Big thanks to The Seal Bark for the heads up.)

"In storage at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is the secret to what one
professor calls “the first Down Syndrome Association in the history of the
world.” In 1982, Dr. Brian Stratford, a specialist in developmental disabilities
at the University of Nottingham, suggested in the journal Maternal and Child
Health that the Italian Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna used a little boy
with Down syndrome as the model for his Christ child. Stratford made a “clear
characteristic diagnosis” of the baby based on his distinctive facial features
and the shape of his hands and toes. The Gonzaga family of Mantua, Mantegna’s
sponsor, had a boy with an unidentified “sickness,” she said, and one of the
artist’s own fourteen children shared this condition—a not insignificant factor
in Ludovico Gonzaga’s choice of Andrea Mantegna as his court painter. Gonzaga
and Mantegna appreciated the humanity of these children whom some might have
preferred to hide away or let die, and that shared sensitivity gave them a
“sense of purpose” with respect to disability which Stratford regrets has been
all but forgotten by our society: “Perhaps Mantegna saw in this child something
beyond the deficiencies which now so occupy our attention and perhaps then, the
qualities of love, forgiveness, gentleness, and innocence were
more readily recognized. Maybe Mantegna saw these qualities as more representative of Christ than others we now regard so highly.”

First of all, let me express gratitude for good writing. This article expressed so well the feeling in my heart about Down syndrome and all disabilities:

"That question, of course, does not express the wish that more children
would struggle with disabilities, but rather that more families might find
within themselves the means to understand, and to transmit to future
generations, the profound truth that every life is filled with meaning, and
every child is a source of joy. The deepest consequences of that discovery, it
seems, have to do not with the recognition or acceptance we might offer to those
who are disabled, but with the strength, compassion, happiness, and wisdom we
might gain by the discovery itself, and by our acting on it. "

My family has learned much from our Love Magnet. DD has constantly taught us the power of love, forgiveness and simple joy. We are forever changed by her. Good writing that promotes the upside of Down syndrome changes opinions and makes this world just a bit easier for my daughter.

I also have gratitude for our church family. DD was so excited for her first day back. She was welcomed by some of her favorite people as soon as we walked in the chapel. We did have a reverence problem at first and DD had to be taken out. She was quick to remember that reverence did not involve yelling and she asked to go back into the chapel. DD showed me that she remembered to take the sacrament with her right hand. She also made sure that I understood that she did not want me to escort her to Primary. Her class welcomed her with opened arms. When I checked later, she was doing great. She gave me a kiss and told me she was on her way from Sharing Time to class. Her happiness was contagious. It felt GOOD to be back at church.

I am grateful that everyone was healthy this past week. I had concerns at one point that we might be barraged by an illness. I'm feeling very blessed that it was a false alarm.

I'm grateful for our local library. I am really looking forward to taking advantage of their summer programs to keep my kids reading this summer. I've started to make friends with one of the librarians. I will be asking her this week for recommendations for good books for DS#3 to practice reading.

I'm grateful for DS#2. My kids had been tired every morning last week. I couldn't figure out why until I caught the boys sneaking out of their beds. It turns out that DS#2 had DS#3 sneaking into his room after lights out so they could read together for an hour or more. They are halfway through the first Fablehaven book. I put a stop to late-night sneaking around. Instead, they will now go to bed 30 minutes early and use that time for reading. DS#2 had been so kind to DS#3, praising his efforts in school and including him in activities. I'm not sure where this flood of brotherly love has come from but who am I to question it?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Things my daughter said during her first day back to school....

"That's my new friend." ( while pointing to everyone she passed in the hall)

"Aww, thanks so much!" (to givers of Chee-tos and potato chips)

"I love you, too, honey." (to everyone who was excited to see her back)

"You missed me!" (to everyone excited to see her back)

"Mom, STAY THERE! I do this by myself." (no explanation needed, right?)

There was a field trip scheduled today to a local park downtown. Since it was cold and raining, I opted not to send DD to school until the class came back to have a picnic during the last 30 minutes of school. There was no sense in me leaving her for half an hour so I packed the picnic basket for the two of us. DD did not want that, she fully expected me to go where I belonged - apparently I do not belong at school. It turns out that I was the only parent eating (the other parents just stood around) so I guess I truly didn't belong.

DD was welcomed with open arms and careful hugs. She smiled for pictures and wanted to share Oreos with everyone. I was interested in watching the reaction of her classmates. They must have been prepped yesterday on DD's return and how they have to be gentle around her. Every child was soft when putting their arms around my daughter.

What was really surprising was watching their interaction during the picnic. DD was patted on the head by one child. Another kept trying to play peek-a-boo with her as if she was 6 months old. Do these children see my daughter as much younger because she is a good head shorter than they are or do they think her behavior and mental ability rates far beneath a kindergartner? She is doing great in school, she knows her alphabet and sounds and is starting to read. She has kept up with the class in many ways. She is gone a bit for therapies. I wonder how these classmates see my daughter?

DD wanted none of the peek-a-boo. She ignored the boo-er who soon became bored and finished her own lunch. She dodged the hand that tried to pat her on the head. DD was not rude about it. She made sure that she spoke to as many as she could and told them "You missed me!"

I guess Mom (and her indignation at her child being treated like a baby) really doesn't belong at elementary school beyond the occasional volunteering. I have to have some reason to sneak in there to see how she is doing. Don't I?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just how much does a heart surgeon make for 5 hours of work?
I consider this a bargain in light of how well things turned out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Post Surgery Results

Road trip yesterday to SLC in prep for DD's post-surgery checkup at PCMC.


The weather was fine. DD did great, although I suspect she was a bit lonely with no one to entertain her. She kept asking me to look at what she drew and to please hand her a drink/cheese stick/banana/chocolate mint.

(By the way, have you tried Chocolate-Dipped Altoids? They are divine. DD knows I always have a tin of CDAs in my purse.)


We made it to my twin-sis' house near dinnertime.

She made a yummy meal in the slowcooker - something my brother dubbed "Golden Delicious Goodness". DD was in heaven since rice was served. We went to bed at 10 pm in prep for the next day.

Our appt. at PCMC was for 8:00 a.m. We woke up to rain. Traffic was not bad and we made it in good time. DD immediately started in on her favorite activity before the nurse came to get her:


I know you are dying for a verdict: the cardiologist heard not even a heart murmur, said her heart looked smaller in the x-ray, EKG looked good, AND he DOES NOT anticipate DD ever needing heart surgery again.

Can ya'll give me a big WOO-HOO!

DD's steri-strips were removed and the nurse gave us special wipes to help remove the adhesive when we got home. We then took off for the PICU to see Parker. Parker was awake, laying on his stomach quietly and watching Signing Time.


DD was thrilled to see that he had the same taste in videos that she did. We found Parker's mom semi-asleep in the PICU waiting room. It was wonderful to meet her (although we truly wish it did not have to be because Parker was in the hospital again). We did not stay long as Tammy needed to get back to Parker. She told us that Parker was expected to be release today, too.


Can ya'll give me another big WOO-HOO for Parker?

Our drive home was non-eventful (the very best kind). DD's first item of business was to swim in our big tub. After almost three weeks of no baths, she was eager to get in water. At dinner tonight, she ate three big helpings of spaghetti and then ensconced herself in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn and more Signing Time videos. She earned it after being so good today.

Life is beautiful at this house.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Here Come The Bills...


Over the weekend we received the first bill for DD's heart surgery. As far as we can tell it is just the lab work.

5 pages of lab work.


How on earth can people afford this without insurance (or in the case of Praying for Parker, when your insurance refuses to pay any more)?

I could not begin to translate most of the lab language: CMPAT TST ANTIGLB TEACH EA for $222.06. Something about a plasma thaw for $109. Platelet something-or-other for $807. What is a Perfusionist? Those services cost $2362. There are a ton of blood gas , calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and glucose. The last two pages seem to be only drugs.

Just wait till the bills come for the surgeons, anesthesiologist, PICU, and regular hospital stay. I am sure I am leaving a ton of people out.

Let me add a Monday gratitude: OUR INSURANCE! (I sure hope I do not have to eat those words later. I shouldn't.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes

I'm thankful for a family willing to pull together to get things done. Tonight I did not start cooking our Sunday dinner until Mr. Wonderful and Firstborn came home from their Home Teaching assignments. I cooked the grits and mixed and baked the cheese biscuits, Dear Son #2 unloaded the dishwasher and made the ambrosia salad, Firstborn loaded the dishwasher and cleared counters, Mr. Wonderful made the shrimp. Dinner got on the table and I wasn't worn out after it was all done.

I'm grateful for Mr. Wonderful insisting on respect by the kids for me. It seems to get across better coming from him. He teaches by example and by insisting on apologies and "repeats" so the boys can have an opportunity to try again. (Our sons are good kids for the most part, but they are typical kids.....)

I'm so very grateful for clean water. I thought about my parent's mission blog as I turned on the water to brush my teeth, as I washed my hair, as I made breakfast. Clean water is something that never crossed my mind before my parent's mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I'm grateful that DD is doing so well. She is anxious to get her schedule back to normal. This week we head back to PCMC for her post-surgery checkup. If they give the okay, she will go back to school and to Primary. DD wants to see all of her friends, especially her best friend O.

I'm grateful for my kids love of their extended family. As fun as friends are, my children love being with their cousins the most.

I'm grateful for the sports programs. My two youngest boys had their last soccer games yesterday. The coaches were wonderful and my boys really enjoyed doing it. DS#2 is talking about competition soccer next year (which he doesn't realize he might have to choose between soccer and basketball). DS#3 is already wanting to look into karate. I'm glad they want to move. I am excited to get DD into something.

I'm grateful that Mr. Wonderful and the boys were able to enjoy Fathers & Sons together. They got there late but that didn't stop them from having fun. I sent rib-eye steak foil dinners so their tummies were happy. They played Capture the Flag until well past midnight. There was also swimming in hot springs and fishing. The boys needed that time with their dad. While they were gone, DD and I had a Girls Night In. We popped popcorn, watched movies, and read books. At first DD felt so left out that she wasn't invited to F&S but soon decided that she was happier with me. Poor Doggie Girl parked right by the garage door for a few hours, waiting for the boys to come back. Then she laid on the lower landing of the stairs where she could keep an eye on the door. Finally she went to bed, switching between the boys rooms through the night. She really missed them!

I'm grateful for an abundant pantry. We have enough for our needs and some to share. This week I finished batches of freezer jams (strawberry and mixed berry). I am eager to get my hands on apricots and peaches for more jam (some freezer and some hot water bath canned).

I'm grateful that everyone is healthy, happy, and HOME. That is the best feeling of all.

Mama's In The Kitchen

Shrimp and Grits
Adapted from Southern Living

My Notes: This is not the cream-laden dish you might be used to. It was tasty and received a big two-thumbs up from our six “judges”. I served this with ambrosia salad (the collard greens were PAMd for the sake of time). My changes were doubling the mushrooms, adding extra garlic, and omitting the Tabasco. The hot sauce was passed around the table instead.

2 slices bacon
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 Cup flour
2 Cups sliced mushroom
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 Cup chopped green onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Cup low sodium chicken broth
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For Grits:
1 14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
1 Cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
3/4 Cup shredded reduced fat Cheddar cheese
1/4 Cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tsp. drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.

2. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper; dredge in flour.

3. Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings with oil in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly browned. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Spoon shrimp mixture over hot Cheese Grits; sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

4. For Grits: Bring first 3 ingredients and 1 1/3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Cheddar cheese and next 3 ingredients.
Cal: 309, (Cal. From fat 19%), Fat: 6g, Fiber: 1g, Chol: 123 mg, Sodium: 764 mg, Protein 30g

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Just a little message from DD to GamaPapa Africa

Friday, May 16, 2008

Please Pray For Parker Today

Meet Parker - or as DD refers to him "My-Friend-Parker". Parker is one of our T-21 buddies. He is going through some very intensive surgery today. Please keep him, his doctors, and his parents (Tammy and Reed) in your prayers. We want a swift and MIRACULOUS recovery.

Mama's In The Kitchen

Bibimbop (Rice and Vegetable Medley)

CL Notes: Bibimbop is a popular one-dish lunch of piping hot rice, an assortment of vegetables, often a small bit of meat, and always an egg on top. Koreans like this spicy, so they usually add at least 2 tablespoons chile paste per serving after cooking. It's customary to stir everything together before eating; omit that step to taste each element independently.

My notes: Very family friendly as every diner can control the spiciness for their own dish. Ameniable to a variety of different toppings, depending on what you have on hand.

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
4 ounces eye of round or top round steak, thinly sliced
Cooking spray
1 cup (2-inch) julienne-cut carrot
1 cup (2-inch) julienne-cut English cucumber
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 large eggs, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups hot cooked short-grain rice
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 cup Seasoned Spinach
4 teaspoons sambal oelek or Thai chile paste

Combine first 4 ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes. Heat a small nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture; stir-fry 3 minutes or until done. Remove from pan. Cover and keep warm.

Cook carrot in boiling water 1 minute or until crisp-tender. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain and set aside.

Combine cucumber and next 5 ingredients (cucumber through 1 garlic clove); set aside.
Heat skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Break 1 egg into hot skillet. Cook egg 1 minute; carefully turn over. Sprinkle with dash of salt. Cook an additional minute or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan. Cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining eggs and salt.

Spoon 3/4 cup rice into each of 4 bowls. Arrange 1/4 cup each of beef, carrot, cucumber mixture, mushrooms, and Seasoned Spinach over each serving. Top each serving with 1 egg and 1 teaspoon sambal oelek.

Yield: 4 servingsCALORIES 374 (20% from fat); FAT 8.3g (sat 2.4g,mono 3g,poly 1.4g); PROTEIN 23.8g; CHOLESTEROL 238mg; CALCIUM 138mg; SODIUM 699mg; FIBER 5.6g; IRON 6.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 50.6g Cooking Light, MARCH 2003

Seasoned Spinach

CL Notes: You will need to steam the raw spinach in two batches, since there is so much of it. Combining the cool ingredients with your hands is easiest. This recipe goes with Bibimbop (Rice and Vegetable Medley)

My notes: Use this as a side for other asian dishes. Great as a summer side when served chilled.

2 (10-ounce) packages fresh spinach, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced

Steam half of spinach, covered, for 5 minutes or until the spinach wilts; place steamed spinach in a colander. Repeat procedure with remaining spinach. Cool slightly, and squeeze dry.

Place spinach in a bowl. Add onions and remaining ingredients; toss mixture well to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1/4 cup)CALORIES 31 (26% from fat); FAT 0.9g (sat 0.1g,mono 0.3g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 2.9g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 96mg; SODIUM 214mg; FIBER 2.8g; IRON 2.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 4.2g Cooking Light, MARCH 2003

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's your bike like?

I am researching bikes for a purchase for me. I was originally considering comfort bikes (no triathlons or races for me). The bike will be mainly used for rides with the kids and trip to the grocery store. I plan on having some kind of seat for DD or a trailer that will hold DD and/or groceries.

What kind of bike do you have. Do you like it or do you want something different? Share your knowledge, please. I am completely clueless. I'm planning on a trip to a bike store today or tomorrow to talk to a sales person and get some ideas.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Food storage. Garden tomatoes. Thanks, Mom.

Four 4'x8' garden boxes are finished and planting will begin this weekend. Which means the next week will be devoted to building shelving in our garage to accommodate storage. I am determined to use our food storage to cut our food bill and see how sufficient I can be in my domestic job.

I found a site called Simply Living Smart that I plan to use to full advantage. I am also updating our long term storage and 72 hour kits. I need to update the clothing in the kits to proper sizes for my kids as well as check inspiration dates on the food items. I also plan on checking the dollar store for travel/card games. I have a lantern with a good supply of batteries, a camp stove, sleeping bags, and tents. I still need a radio, more flashlights, id bracelets for the kids.

Isn't the news of the earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters compelling anyone else to come up with a family emergency plan?

Am I worried? No. But I feel a need to be prepared. I used to have it all together. We lost more than half of our long term food storage when we moved (actually that is just when we discovered that kids had taken screwdrivers and poked holes in all of the bags). We're replacing it all with cans. I still need to find water storage containers.

I know some of my friends are going to be shaking their heads at this post. It's okay. But I'll feel better if I can lower the food bill since food prices are going up. I'm looking for a bike with either a trailer or a basket big enough for DD and grocery bags (that should really cut down the cost of gas for my car and be healthy for me). Add our garden and the bottling that will go on this fall, I can accomplish my goals.

Mom and Grandma - thanks for teaching me how to garden and bottle the produce. I know I didn't appreciate it when you asked me to pick the potato bugs off the potato plants, horn worms off the tomatoes, and I really didn't like it when we husked corn and I found a corn grub here and there. But I really did appreciate it the first time I tasted commercially-canned peach after years of eating bottled peaches. I was spoiled all my growing up years with garden tomatoes (best eaten with your bare feet in the dirt in the middle of the garden). And absolutely nothing compares with Grandma's raspberry jam.

Raspberries will have to go on next year's agenda. My hands are a bit full of the gardening I've planned for this week. Pole beans, sugar snap peas, melons, zukes and cukes, squashes, and Japanese eggplant. Basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro, mint, sage, and tarragon. Peppers mild and peppers hot. Ginger, green onions, and garlic. Lettuces and radishes (when it gets cooler).

Don't forget the tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Please check out a message from Michelle at Pages 4 Parker. Parker's family at Praying For Parker needs help and prayers.

Michelle has a great and easy service project for all you crafty scrapbookers out there. This will benefit Parker and his family. Please pass this on to all the scrapbookers you know.

Tammy - I'm praying for you and your family every day. I'll be fasting this Friday for a successful surgery and a healthy Parker.

Sunday Gratitudes

First of all I need to express gratitude for my marriage. Mr. Wonderful and I work hard at our marriage. Date night is important at our house, whether it is going out or staying in. We rarely miss a week. Our children know how important we are to each other. For this anniversary they surprised us with a homemade cake. Lots of frosting and sprinkles. They were so proud. I love that they know how important this celebration is to us.

As it is Mother's day today, I need to share my gratitude for each of my kids with pictures taken this morning during breakfast. First of all, my Firstborn. As much as he drives me crazy at times, he is also responsible and very caring for his younger sibs. (He's not grumpy in the pic, he just has a mouth full of breakfast.)

Then there is my Second born. He is full of compassion for the people around him, particularly those who are lonely or those who do not fit in.

My Third born is my most sensitive. He is quick to tune in to those around him and is constantly sharing his love and strength.

Then there is my Sweetheart. She is the love-magnet of our family.

Every year the kids help Mr. Wonderful make a huge breakfast for me. Its served on a platter (really it's too big for me) and the kids have fun helping me eat it. Mr. Wonderful has thanked me every day without fail for the meals I fix. He also makes sure that the kids speak to me with respect. Much gratitude to Mr. Wonderful for teaching our kids the importance of mothers and teaching them by his example how to show respect for me on a daily basis.
On my first Mother's Day in our first house, Mr. Wonderful and DS#1 presented me with a rose bush that DS had picked out. It was planted right near the front door. Each child that came into our family subsequently presented me with a rosebush (with help from Mr. Wonderful) for that first Mother's day. I had four rosebushes in red, yellow, white and a peace rose. While they were in bloom, each child was allowed to pick a rose for me from his or her bush. I was a bit teary when we moved since we had to leave those roses behind. This Mother's Day, the children presented me with four rose bushes each one had picked out. DS#1 picked a white rose bush, DS#2 a peace rose, DS#3 a yellow rose, and DD a lavender rose. They will be planted today in our back yard by the patio. I'm thrilled at this sweet gesture.

I must share my gratitude today for my own mom who is working so hard in the DR Congo. I am counting down the days until I can see her again (less than 5 months!). I am immensely proud of her for being so willing (and brave!) to head to a strange country and culture to share her knowledge and love.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy 17h Anniversary

Today is the 17th anniversary of the best decision I ever made. Mr. Wonderful aka Mr. Darcy (truly he is a Darcy, it says so in his family history. I kid you not.) is the best thing that has ever happened to me. To this day, he still rolls his eyes whenever I tell them him that. If I tell him he is the most handsome man on the planet (don't argue with me, he is!) then I get a reply about my failing eyesight. He also happens to be the most amazing kisser but he would be embarrassed if I told you that.

I would love to post a picture to show you how young (and thin) we both were but the scanner isn't working. Maybe my twin sis has a pic to send me. She could also show you a picture of me on her wedding day two years before. I looked miserable (I was). It felt like my right arm was being cut off. It was hard to lose her to the 2nd most handsome man on the planet (don't argue, he is!).

17 years. I love him more now than I did then, which I never thought could be possible given how much in love with him I was on our wedding day. My favorite part of my wedding? The next day. I was finally Mrs. Wonderful aka Mrs Darcy. We had a quiet drive to Jackson Hole Wyoming where we had a quiet honeymoon. Just being married to him with no more stress of wedding planning was divine.

Memories of my wedding:

Crying because it rained (hard!) on my wedding day. We had very few pictures at the Salt Lake Temple.

Spending time in the Celestial Room before the sealing, my heart pounding so hard because the day was finally here (and I didn't care by this point how hard it was raining...)

Being sealed by Farrell Bell, who was the missionary who taught my dad's parents the gospel in southern Georgia in the early 1940s. Thanks to him and his companion and the Holy Ghost, my grandparents gained testimonies and were baptized. Being sealed by this man was an incredible experience. It was emotional for him to see a room filled with our family who had been sealed in the temple. We will forever be grateful to him for his desire to serve a mission.

My twin sis sitting down at the church we used for our reception. She disappeared. It turns out that the material chosen for the bridesmaids was the same material used for the upholstery on all the couches at the church. (I wanted black material for my bridesmaids dresses but my mom thought it looked too morbid.....)

Mr. Wonderful was threatened by my Grandma to not get cake on my dress (she spent hours beading my dress for me). Mr. Wonderful somehow fed me cake in a way that completely filled my mouth (without even smudging my lipstick!) so I couldn't speak at all, or even chew for that matter. My dad announced that it would be the only time my husband would hear silence in our marriage. The photographer snapped a picture of Mr. Wonderful smiling in satisfaction and me speechless.

Leaving the reception in a friend's car and my family shocked that they decorated the wrong car. We came back and switched cars. It took a long time to clean that car. We found oatmeal under the hood nearly a year later.

Good memories.

(apparently after I left, my two youngest brothers ages 10 and 8 at the time put on a show dancing in their tuxes. There is a picture of them flexing their muscles with their ribcage showing much more than muscles.....)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Pictures of DD's stay at PCMC
Arriving at PCMC on May 1st. She is wearing her Lil' Red prayer shawl that Carol knitted for her. DD's attitude was much better than Mom's.

Pulling faces while jetting on the doctor's stool. We were waiting to meet the surgeon. DD loves to twirl and race around on the stool in every doctor's office.

Waiting for the anesthesiologist. This particular toy made siren sounds. DD loved it but it gave me a headache.

I didn't have the heart to take pics of DD in the PICU......

Right after DD was moved out of PICU and onto the 3rd floor (regular patient ward) I pulled out the camera and tried to cajole DD to smile for the first time since she went into surgery. This is what she gave me. DD did not feel like smiling yet....

A visit from DD's BFF. DD had forgotten her, but it didn't take them long to warm up to each other. Now DD wants to see the pictures of her BFF every day.

Our last day. DD insisted on getting out of bed to wait for the surgeons to make their rounds. I think she wanted to show off that she was feeling well enough to go home. She certainly was sick of staying in bed.

Mama's In The Kitchen

Cornmeal and Rye Waffles
Adapted from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking
Kid Friendly, Freezer Friendly Servings: 16

My notes: You can sub regular milk with a tablespoon of vinegar if you do not have buttermilk. Sub any canola, vegetable or olive oil if you do not have butter. Freeze leftovers to pop in the toaster for quick breakfasts.
Dinner waffles: Cut the sugar by half, leave out the vanilla and maple, and add 1 teaspoon of cumin or chili powder. Top waffle with chili, stew or southern beans-n-greens for a fun dinner.

3 Cups buttermilk
2 whole eggs
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Cups yellow cornmeal
1 Cup rye flour
1/4 Cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple extract

1. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Then quickly and gently combine the wet and dry ingredients. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes to soften the cornmeal. The batter will be thicker when you are ready to use it.

2. Preheat your waffle iron (spray with cooking spray before preheating). Drop batter onto iron by 1/3 cupfuls and bake 3-5 minutes. These waffles are best with a crispy brown exterior.

3. We like to serve these with butter and honey.

Per waffle: Cal: 165, Fat: 6g, Fiber 2g, sodium 508mg, Protein 4g,

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No Pain?

DD has had no pain meds all day. She refused to take them this morning. She hasn't complained about her "owie" all day. Whenever I ask if she hurts she brushes me off with:

"No, Mom. I fine."

That small phrase is repeated constantly through the day. It makes me wonder if I am being over protective in following doctors orders. I hope not. I still have at least 5 more weeks of this.

Tomorrow marks the one week anniversary since DD had her open heart surgery. I fully believe prayers and fasting were a big part in this miraculous recovery.

Please include Lauren's new friend Reagan Faith in your prayers this week. She isn't doing well at PCMC. Her parents were hoping to be able to transport her to a hospital in Birmingham Alabama to be closer to family and their church family. I will be fasting for Reagan this Sunday.
Thanks to Amy and Mike for the heads up on this:

For many years, the Mesa (Arizona) Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had exhibits on the temple grounds during the Easter season. This year, there was also a 'Reflections of Christ' photography exhibit in the Mesa Temple Visitor's Center. The photographer was given permission to photograph pageant cast members for the exhibit. They traveled to various locations in Arizona that the photographer thought looked like the places in Israel where these events took place and recreated the scenes. The photographer worked with a few others to put together a 5-minute slideshow which includes every image from the exhibit and set it to the hymn ' Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.'Just remember when you're watching the video that these are photographs -- they aren't paintings. You can expand the video to fill the screen by clicking the icon in the lower right (left of the volume control).

Reflections of Christ

Mark Mabry's Blog with stories about the experiences of the people posing in the photos.
Mom and Daddy in the Congo

The Church News ran an article on a clean water project my parents are overseeing in Luputa, DR Congo. Along with the article were pics my mom snapped. The one above is my favorite. The kids flock around them where ever they go. There were more pics in the original article but this was the only one with my dad.

Monday, May 05, 2008

DD was visited in the hospital by one of her best friends. We met their family at our first Buddy Walk (and DD's first Halloween). Our babies were close in age and we were so thrilled to meet someone else going through this T21 experience. The slide show is of our daughters (and their third BFF who makes up their Three Musketeerettes) growing up over the years. There is also a photo of DD and Miss M in the hospital bed together. They don't look happy there because we couldn't find the movie they wanted to watch.

We made it home safe. DD charmed the stewardesses the minute we stepped on the plane. They loaded her up with chips, two packets of cookies, and a packet of cheese and crackers while we were standing by the pilots door waiting our turn in line to get to our seats. In our conversations, the story of why we were in Utah was told. DD now has the stewardesses all praying for her, too.

This afternoon was spent in taking a glorious 2 1/2 hour nap. I REALLY missed my own bed. I might have slept longer if DD had not treated my head and chest as her own personal footrest during her nap.

Dinner was brought over by one of my Visiting Teachers. Her lasagna tasted like comfort food to me. DS#1 cajoled DD into taking two extra bites of her dinner. She is now ensconced in my bed watching the new Signing Time videos that arrived while we were gone.

Life is good.

Check out my parents in the Church News. There was an article about the water project they are working on in the DR Congo. I especially love the picture of my daddy surrounded by the Congolese children.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes


I am so grateful for all of the fasting and prayers by family, ward and stake family, friends, teachers and aides, Cookies, loyal blog lurkers, and complete strangers on the street (in the airplane, yarnshop, grocery stores...)

I am so grateful that Mr. Wonderful hold the priesthood and is always worthy to give our children blessings. He is my sweetheart, my honey, my Mr. Darcy, and my rock.

I am grateful for the support of family members and friends coming to the hospital, knowing that I needed the emotional support.

I am grateful for the expertise of doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and all other -ologists, -eons, and -ses and specialists that cared for my daughter. Primary Children's Medical Center is a wonderful place. Even the people who delivered my daughter's food (DD called them pizza-people) were sweet and caring. I must give special thanks to Nurses Kim, Emily, Kelly, Pam, Janie, and Ashley for putting up with me while they took care of my daughter. Kelly, you are the Saint among nurses for putting up with all my odd questions while waiting for 6 hours to escort us from PICU to the 3rd floor)

I am grateful for having met Reagan's family. You have blessed my life by your presence and sharing your incredible story with me while we were all in the PICU. Thanks also for the guitar music. It soothed me as much as it did DD. We will continue to add Reagan and your family to our prayers.

I am grateful for modern medicine that provided the knowlege to be able to fix DD's heart.

Most of all I thank Thee dear Heavenly Father for sending my daughter to me. I thank my Savior Jesus Christ, for bearing me up in such a time, knowing that Thou knowest my heart better than anyone. I have been so blessed this past week with strength and courage and overwhelming love. Yet again, I have seen the hand of Heavenly Father in the life of my daughter. I know His Plan is so much better than my plan, even though I do not understand it. My testimony has been strengthened again in knowing of Our Father's love for all of His children.

Actually, we are heading to Grandma and Grandpa's. DD took one look at her untouched breakfast when the doctors announced she could go home and added her own announcement:
"I don't want mini-wheats. I want 'ta-toes and gwavy."
(I think we can accomodate her. After all, Grandma's mashed potatoes are legendary and the hospital taters can't even compete. It's Sunday and Grandma always makes mashed potatoes. )
As soon as we get to the In-Loves I will be booking a flight back to Idaho.
Please excuse me now......this situation calls for a Snoopy-style Happy Dance.......
Up this morning and waiting for the doctors to make their rounds. One came in early to tell me that the echocardiogram looked great and she thinks that DD's surgeon will release her today. DD had a great night. She did have 30 minutes where her oxy sat levels were 85. They started watching her closely to see if she would need oxygen (which would mean she wouldn't be released today) but her sat levels went back up to 92-95 so she was spared the canula.

DD woke up this morning sore from no getting meds last night. She slept so peacefully that the nurse decided not to wake her up. This morning, as sore as she was, DD wouldn't take her meds. She refused over and over. Finally I told her that I was sad that she was so sore. She reached over and pulled me down so she could kiss me on the forehead. Then she took her meds without any complaint. Oh, yes, she is feeling very much back to normal and up to her usual tricks.

Breakfast is ordered (frosted mini-wheats, banana, and oj) and she just finished watching one of her favorite movies while cuddled up to the pink elephant her best friend gave her.

On the bed is a package Mr. Wonderful and the boys brought with them. It is from my Darling Cookies. They send DD a Vermont Teddy Bear with a blue tutu. DD was so enchanted with it! Blue is her favorite color. She loved the bear. I'm feeling the love from my Cookies. Yesterday I was so cold so I wrapped myself in Chrissy's Hug and thought about my Cookies. I will be glad to catch up with them next week online. Thank you, my Darling Cookies!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I just realized the date. It's May 3rd!

I am not sure how birthdays are celebrated in the DRc, or if Mom could ever find the ingredients to make your favorite German Chocolate Cake. But know that we are thinking of you and love you so much.
It is also the 17th anniversary of the day I received my own endowments in the Salt Lake Temple.
That day was so wonderful and so busy with preparations for my wedding the following week that everyone forgot it was Daddy's birthday until that night. I felt so guilty that no one remembered until the day was nearly over. But he still loves me.
The surgeons just left. They took off DD's oxygen and bandages. DD's surgeon pronounced her as looking great. They are going to do an EKG or Echo today (I can't remember which) and if it looks good........

DD will be discharged tomorrow.

5 hours of surgery.

29 hours in the PICU.

Less than 48 hours in the regular patient ward.

Right now my daughter is sitting up and trying to boost herself into position if she slumps to far down. She has chocolate milk, Gatorade, and apple juice in front of her to encourage her to drink. It is 8: 20 am.m and she has already had xrays and breakfast. She was happy they had Frosted Mini Wheats here. She only ate three bites but she also has yogurt and the promise of ice cream, mashed potatoes, spaghetti...all her favorite foods to encourage her to get some calories in her little body.

Cinderella is in the DVD player. Her first watercolor masterpiece is signed (in crayon) and hung on the wall next to the works of her cousins. As good as life is here, she wants to see her daddy, her brothers, and her dog. She wants to go home.

I've witnessed blessing left and right around here. DD made a new friend while in PICU. Check out Reagan Faith's blog. Its brand new so they might not have any posts on it yet. She has an amazing family. I'm looking forward to keeping track of them. They are certainly in my prayers.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Room With A View
We moved into our own room on the third floor. We waited 6 hours for this room! Its nice to have a window, even if it looks out onto the roof of the second floor. At least we get to see some sky.

DD finished her chicken noodle soup at lunch and then wanted mashed 'ta-toes an' gwavy. She ate the whole thing (it took an hour to eat it). She wanted chicken and rice for dinner. It tastes good to her but her throat is still sore so after just a few bites, she decided all she wanted was the ice cream and the grape juice.

DD walked to the potty (with double-armed assistance from me) and used the bathroom. (woo-hoo!) She was so shaky that I had to carry her back to bed. At least she is moving. Tomorrow she'll get a wagon ride to the playroom.

A volunteer just arrived with crayons, paper, watercolors, lace-up crafts and playdoh. May I just say THIS HOSPITAL ROCKS! DD is very tired but she seems interested in the crayons. Off I go to encourage crayola creativity......
Tubes, Food, and More Good News

DD is having her chest tubes, bp arterial monitors, pace wires and IV removed as I type. Getting tubes out is not fun and she is crying a bit even with the extra pain meds they gave her for this. The nurse assures us that she will feel so much better with the tubes out. DD is doing so well that she will be moved to a regular room this afternoon. The surgeon came by and told us that she is so amazing that she might be release on Sunday or Monday instead of Thursday. Her heart continues to show no sign of leak or regurge.



While I am grateful she is doing so well, I worry about her being released too soon. Actually, I worry (just a little bit) about my ability to care for her right after she is released. I hope my nursing instincts from my mom kick in.

Foodie News: This morning DD ate one bite of scrambled eggs, 5 small bites of yogurt, and a few sips of apple juice. She is doing well with that and still requesting the occasional spoonful of rootbeer slushie. For lunch we are going to try her all-time favorite Chicken Noodle Soup. Her resource teacher and aides all know her penchant for Chicken Noodle Soup. It must mean that she is feeling better.

My In-Loves came to see her this morning. She was too groggy and didn't open her eyes when Mr. Wonderful told her good morning or when her Grandma talked to her. But when her Grandpa kissed her and told her that he loved her she opened her eyes. Grandpa is now bragging to everyone (in his quiet way) that HE got DD to wake up a bit.

Looks like they are done taking the tubes out. Mr. Wonderful is standing right by DD offering support. I am purposely hiding in the corner with Mr. W's laptop so I do not have to see what they are doing. I am not brave when Mr. Wonderful is here to be brave for me.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Exhausted, but very happy

DD's surgery lasted 5 hours. It snowed most of the time we were in the waiting room. The surgeon came out and asked to speak to us privately which made my heart drop. He just wanted to be in a quieter room so we could ask questions. DD's surgery went well. They repaired the cleft in her mitral valve. An esophageal ultrasound performed right after the surgery showed that there was no regurge. The surgery seems to be a success in the best possible way.

I felt everyone's prayers during the surgery. I was calm for the most part. I didn't cry when they took DD away. It wasn't the worst day of my life as I predicted. I cried a little when we were told that she was on the heart/lung bypass machine and that the surgery had started. I crocheted a few more baby hats. After the surgeon spoke to us about the surgery results, twin sis and I counted the baby hats I had worked on the past 6 weeks. 64 baby hats. We took them down to the front desk where donations are dropped off. The form they asked me to fill out asked for the reason for the donation. I wrote down that DD had open-heart surgery today and this service project was my thanks to the hospital. I was teary as I handed the hats over. I hope they cheer up the families of the babies they go to.

Right now I am posting from the PICU. DD is in and out of consciousness. She has woken up and was a bit ornery because she wanted to get up, she wanted to eat, she wanted the canula OFF. She isn't allowed to drink until she really wakes up and we have to wait about 24 hours for that. Along with the morphine, they will start a diuretic to help drain the surgical areas. She has three tubes in her chest right now and two should be removed by tomorrow. She has a few pace wires that are expected to be taken out as well. Her color is good.

The nurse assigned just to her is a darling. I am amazed by this Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. It is bright and there are so many hospital workers. They found Lauren a quilt with color to cheer her bed. There is a rootbeer slushie that she can have just a tiny bit of. (PapaAfrica, she is your granddaughter, she loves rootbeer. I will make sure she still has Sneaky Snake memorized when you come home).

I had a 1 1/2 hour nap in the PICU waiting room. I am tired but not as bone tired as I was. Hopefully, DD will be put in her own room in a day or two. I might be able to rest better. Just knowing that my Love-Magnet is okay will make it much easier to relax tonight.
Here We Go

I gave up trying to sleep, its now just after 3 a.m. I don't think it is because of the surgery. The bed here at my In-Loves house I've attempted to sleep in is unbelievably hard and, since it is only a full size, Mr. Wonderful sleeps downstairs in the basement. But this is the room with the crib for DD. I would hate for her to wake up and wander around the house looking for us so I stay with her. This makes two nights without sleep. Yes, I am a bit tired.

At least I won't have to worry about not waking up in time to get to the hospital by 6 a.m. Surgery is scheduled for 7:30. My twin sis will meet us right at 6.

Surgery is expected to last 5-1/2 hours. She will be sedated when we get to see her. Morphine for pain will last for 24 hours, after which they will manage her pain with Lortab. She's expected to stay in the hospital for 5-7 days. The big surprise, she will be able to travel back to Idaho as soon as she is released.

The nurse yesterday told us all the nitty-gritty to expect. Then she told us how fast these kids bounce back. Our big challenge will be to keep her from climbing everywhere and wanting to do normal 5-yr-old things during the first month after surgery. I don't mind that challenge at all. It was great to hear.

Mr. Wonderful and I have fasted dinner last night and will fast breakfast this morning. Last night our two families gathered (those that could make it) to give DD a blessing. She was so cute. She realized the reverence of the occassion and sat still and as tall as she could in the chair while Mr. Wonderful and one of his brothers put their hands on her head. DD was blessed with understanding, strength, and healing.

One of my brothers has offered to bring us lunch in the hospital to end our fast. It should be right at the end of DD's surgery. I am grateful for the company. I'm especially grateful for the prayers and fasting in our behalf. I know there is a lot of it going on from family and friends.

I've felt pretty peaceful. No crying yet this a.m. I've already prayed for strength to get through the morning without tears. I'm not putting on my battle armor. I want to leave my own heart wide open to receive strength from heaven.