Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas, Lest We Forget

Like most people I know, I've been following the tragic news stories coming out of Newtown, CT.  My heart goes out to the friends, families, and neighbors of those who were taken much too early and for a community who will fill the week before Christmas with funerals rather than parties.  The stories say that Newtown is removing its Christmas decorations and one high school student was quoted on his first day back to school as saying, "There's going to be no joy in school.  It really doesn't feel like Christmas anymore."  The early end to Christmas festivities seem appropriate.  After all, who could possibly be in the mood to celebrate much of anything?  The thought hasn't sat quite right to me, though, and I've mulled it over the last couple of days.  This morning it dawned on me that Christmas is exactly what we need to be celebrating right now.  I don't mean the shopping-party-food-commercial aspect of Christmas.  I mean the baby-born-in-a-manger-to-live-a-perfect-life-die-and-be-resurrected-to-redeem-all-of-mankind aspect of Christmas- the real Reason for the Season!

Who doesn't need to see a million nativity scenes to remind us that the Savior really was here and really did do what He came to do?  Or angels from heaven who proclaimed His birth?  Or candy canes- the symbol of the shepherds who were the first to seek the tiny babe after learning of his birth from the mouth of an angel of God?  What about the need for a star to guide us to the one place to find real, lasting hope and peace? A Christmas tree with it's evergreen leaves to remind us that life is eternal?  Lights to see reminders every where we go of the One who lights our way when things are darkes?  Red wrappings and bows and poinsettias the color of the blood that would be spilled to guarantee eternal life for each of those dear individuals and every other person who has ever walked the earth?  Bells to ring out the joyful news?  Music to give voice to that news?  Families, friends, and neighbors looking for more ways to serve and love each other?  Even Santa, who is a symbol of giving, loving, and caring for each other?  We need every one of these symbols of Christmas.

One does not need to be Christian to still find reasons to celebrate this time of year.  Though it came to a close the day after the tragic events, the lights of the menorahs celebrating Hanukkah served as a poignant reminder that there is a God in heaven and He does watch over his children.  There will be tragedies and heart break and hard times, but the tender mercies of a loving, all powerful God will be there to remind us that He's there.

So, may I shout from my virtual house-top:

Merry Christmas!!!

Yes, we do need Christmas, and this year more than ever.  Let's lay aside the commercial trappings, but let us never forget the real reason; for that is the greatest gift of all.  That is where our Joy will be found.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sandwich Rolls

(Upfront apology:  I dutifully took pictures of every step of these sandwiches, but my camera was on a scout camp out and my phone did not do such a good job.  I could post them here, but they would make you wish you had a new prescription in your glasses- or that you had glasses if you don't already.  I got a headache looking at them as I tried to insert them today.  Maybe I'll try again and use the real camera, but probably not.  Sorry.)

Last week I read about an very ingenious idea on make sandwiches cinnamon roll style, bake and freeze them.  The kids just grab one (or two if they are teenage boys!), throw them frozen in their lunches, and they're ready to eat by lunch.  I don't know why I have never thought or heard of this before, but I tried them for dinner on both Friday and Saturday and my family loved them.  We had them 2 nights in a row because the first night I tried ham and cheese.  The second night I tried pizza.  Both were good and both were gone.

The members of my family are not huge mustard fans, so I did make a couple of changes from the recipe at

First, I used the basic bread recipe from because I'd used it before and it was familiar to me. I also knew I could substitute some of the white flour with wheat and it would work fine.  It makes 2 loaves worth of dough which I made into 24-30 sandwiches, depending on how thick I cut them.  I rolled one half on the dough at a time into about a 13" or 14" x 9" or 10" rectangle.

Second, instead of a honey mustard sauce, which no one would eat, I improvised a ranch flavored sauce from a chicken recipe I use.  First, I mixed up one can's worth of a food storage Cream of Chicken soup mix recipe that I have.  It makes 2 or 3 cups of powder.  I mixed 1/3 of a cup of powder with one cup of water, brought it to a boil and turned it off.

Cream of Chicken soup mix
2 c. non-instant powdered milk
3/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. chicken bouillon (about 12 cubes smashed)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil (optional)
1 tsp thyme (optional)

Mix 1/3 c powder with 1 1/2 c. water, bring to a boil while stirring.

For these sandwiches I only used 1 cup of water because I wanted it a bit thicker to spread.  You could probably use a can of cream of chicken soup, but I only had large ones on hand and didn't want to open one.

I mixed the soup with 4 oz. of cream cheese (reduced fat) and a teaspoon or so of ranch dressing powder for flavor and spread it on the dough.  This ended up making enough "sauce" for 3 batches of sandwiches (about 36 rolls).

Next I covered the dough with a single layer of ham lunch meat and covered it with shredded cheddar cheese.

Rolling like a cinnamon roll was easier than I expected and cutting them into 1 inch slices was WAY easier than cinnamon rolls.  Usually with cinnamon rolls I use dental floss.  These cut really well with a sharp knife.  When I made the pizza rolls I used cheese only, no meat.  Those were easier to cut with dental floss.

The recipe from everydayfoodstorage says to bake at 400 for 10 minutes on a greased cookie sheet or in greased muffin tins for more a more "gourmet" look.  I tried both ways and found the muffin tins made rolls that stuck together better and were a more uniform size.

I let the sandwiches cool for a little bit in the pans, then all the way on a cooling rack, wrapped each in plastic wrap, and tossed them in the freezer.  The boys all took them for lunch yesterday and I thawed one for several hours on the counter at home to see what it would be like.  Obviously, they are much better right out of the oven, but they tasted pretty good thawed from the freezer.  The boys all took them again today, so that's a good sign.

This gives us something easy and different for lunches, at least for a while.  Plus, they have less fat than mayo on sandwiches, use less meat and cheese than a regular sandwich, I can get some wholewheat into the lunch bag, and there's less cleanup from lunch-making in the morning.  Wonder what other combinations we could try.  Roast beef and mozzarella?  Maybe with a little pepper and onion in there?  Turkey?  We ought to have a few weeks worth of experimentation ahead of us!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Top Heavy

 We removed the bush under our front window over spring break and replaced it with a 4 inch stump of a hibiscus plant.  It's a hardy variety bred to survive our winters.

It didn't seem to do much for about a month and then we noticed little green shoots.  Those little shoots grew like crazy, and now we have three- 3.5 foot stems.  Before we left for vacation they were loaded with blossom buds.  They began opening while we were gone. This is how the front of the house currently looks.

The hibiscus is actually supposed to become a bush about 4 feet high and fill in the space with green leaves and beautiful red flowers.  Can't wait for that.  Until then, these huge blossoms make the little plant look somewhat top heavy!  I hope it really does survive our winters.  A tiny piece of a Hawaiian vacation in our front yard would be nice.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Left on a Jet Plane

Just realized this morning I never posted this.  The 2 weeks are up and our superheros are not only on their way, they've already landed and gotten to work.  So far they love it.  We'll miss them but are so excited to hear how the work progresses!  Thank heaven for phones, blogs, Skype, and email.  They help make this huge world seem a little smaller.

Monday, July 2, 2012

They're Off! (sort of)

MTC missionary life during the day, our house being grandparents by night. Two short weeks of superhero life and they'll finally be on their way to Australia!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy April 22!

Nothing special today.  Just hoping you have a great one!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Lazy" Chess

Chess is big at our house.  All those with Y chromosomes love it.  Those without?  Not so much.  I don't think we have any up and coming world champions, but the guys do all like to get together and play.  Joseph, Steven, and Ryan have all participated in the Chess Club held at the elementary school on Wednesday mornings.  Greg usually helps run it, so he and our elementary aged children have some fun together each week.  Last Wednesday was the last day of the club.  Friday of this week will be the tournament during school.  Then Chess Club is done until next year.  (Can you believe we're down to just a few weeks of school left?!)

As there was no chess club this Wednesday, Ryan and Greg had some extra time before leaving for school and work.  Greg offered to play a little chess with Ryan if Ryan would go downstairs and get the game.  Ryan got out the game pieces and timer, but not the board.  "Too lazy" he said to go back downstairs for the board, Ryan set up the game on the tiles of our dining room table.  It's 8 tiles long (just right), but only 4 wide (half right).  The benches each are 2 tiles wide, but only 6 long.  So, the "board" was set up with the two rows on each side being lower than the middle.  The four end squares on each lower section were made by dividing a regular chair into 4 sections with rulers and a tie.  They gave up using the timer because without black and white squares and with a two-level board, it was taking too long to figure out which square a piece moved to.

They ran out of time to finish before Ryan had to leave for school, so no body won.  But, they had fun and got a good mental spatial orientation workout to boot.  It even seemed to still be more worth it to Ryan than a quick trip downstairs for a real board!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Treats and Sacrifices

The boys opted to get ice cream and have hot fudge sundaes at home last night after the Priesthood Session of General Conference instead of going out for ice cream.  There are two bonuses for that.

1) Ryan and I got to have ice cream last night with them and listen to their recap of the evening.
2) The left over ice cream allowed for some After Conference P'zookies today.  Steven and Ryan even made them.  All Greg and I had to do was show up.  Sweet!

Thanks for teaching my kids all about these, Christie.  Thinking of you this evening.  Sisters are awesome!

Basic P'zookie recipe: Make a batch of the chocolate chip cookie dough of your choice.  Bake in a pan until half done.  Remove from oven and top with ice cream.  Eat right out of the pan while hot.  Enjoy.  (Tip: Let your kids eat part of your share or you'll be asking yourself what you could have possibly been thinking as you run or walk about 20 miles a day for the next several weeks to counteract all the calories.)

Tomorrow we're having popcorn and apple slices dipped in caramel sauce for Family Home Evening treats while we talk about what we learned this weekend.  Good thing Conference only comes around every 6 months.  It's going to take me until October Conference to calorically recover from April Conference! 

(I guess we all have to make sacrifices sometimes!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Molloscum Contagiosum

This is turning into a medical blog.  Not exactly the direction I'd hoped to take, but outside of school, the doctor's office is becoming one of our most visited places.  At least this experience involves a new (specialized) doctor.

First, a little background.  Last fall Spencer started having a red, irritated eye.  He said it didn't bother him too badly.  I figured it was just allergies, since he has them seasonally.  When he went in for his contacts eye appointment, the opthalmologist found a little growth right on the edge of his eyelid.  I can't remember what he called it, but he described it as a viral growth similar to a wart and looked something like this (only on the upper eye lid:

 He said it was probably shedding virus into Spencer's eye, causing mucus secretions that lead to a bacterial infection.  He treated the infection with antibiotics and a steroid cream and it went away.  He cautioned us to keep an eye on it (no pun intended!) and let him know if it came back in the next few months.

Well, come back it did, so we were referred to an oculoplastic surgeon who told us that, yes, it was probably a virus or it could be cancer.  What?!  The biggest thing in our favor (not cancer) was that he had no swollen lymph nodes.  He gave us a prescription for an anti-viral eye cream and asked us to come back in a week.  If it was virus, it would heal up noticeably in a couple of days and the growth would go away.  (By way of caution, anti-viral eye ointments do not come cheap even with insurance.  The first indication was that we could only find one pharmacy in all of Provo who carried it and they only did because this particular doctor was upstairs and had started prescribing it.  Good thing vision in our children is so highly valued in our family!)

The first two days Spencer's eye was more red and swollen than before.  It settled down a bit, but never looked better than before the medicine.  Not good considering "cancer" was floating out there as an option.  Not to mention the tube of liquid gold antiviral ointment that we now owned. 

We went back the next week.  The doctor took one look and said, "Yes!  This is what I was hoping for!"  (I momentarily pictured us treating him to a Hawaiian vacation this summer!)  Turns out the real viral culprit had finally manifested itself.  (Yea for no cancer!) The growth had developed two pustules.  That meant the doctor was now 99.9% sure it was a virus called Molloscum contagiosum  and it does not respond to liquid gold anti-viral ointment.  It responds to surgical removal instead.  Awesome!  Basically, the virus is extremely common and is a big cause of skin rashes in day cares and wrestlers as it's spread by contact with people or things.  It runs around causing a general infection somewhere in your body until your immune system corrals it and creates pustules.  It's not usually a big concern unless it leads to a secondary bacterial infection.  It usually goes away on it's own after several months or can be treated with a different ointment, or can be removed surgically which usually ends the infection.  We don't know how or where Spencer picked it up, but the usual ointment can't be used in eyes and without surgery he'd have 10 or 20 pustules on his eyelid within the week.


Spencer was thrilled to have outpatient surgery scheduled for that afternoon as it meant he got to miss his World Civ test.  Greg and I dropped the rest of the day and headed to the surgical center with him.  The actual procedure took less than 10 minutes but required general anesthesia.  We were there a couple of hours from check-in to check-out.  It could definitely have been worse.



He did really well- never got remotely sick to his stomach or even needed a Tylenol for pain.  He got to wear the lovely ice pack for a day and then was left with what looked like a little eyeliner on one side of one eye lid courtesy of stitches.

Other than not being able to wear his contacts this week, needing to put a different ointment in his eye, and wearing an eye patch at night it's been no big deal.  His stitches came out today and the contacts went back in.  You can hardly even see where the scar is.  

One more visit in 6 weeks and it will be a done deal.  And that is that.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Round 2 (and this time he got it right)

It's not even been 4 months since our last visit to the doctor for a foot x-ray for what turned out to be a false alarm, but Joseph and I found ourselves there again today for the same purpose.  This time was not a false alarm.  His turn for redemption, I suppose.

Yesterday he kicked the door frame to his bedroom as he was heading in to get ready for a trip to the temple with the Teacher's Quorum.  He managed to hit it hard enough that he has a small crack on the large (most proximal) phalange of the middle toe of his right foot.  There's nothing to be done but let it heal.  He'll keep it taped for a while and maybe try crutches for a couple of days to relieve the pain.  It's the worst of both worlds- the pain and annoyance of a broken bone but no cool cast or brace for sympathy purposes.  Oh, the trials we are called on to pass through!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Very Limited Time Offer

Ok, time to talk about another child.  Today it's Steven.
 Steven is currently working on several merit badges for Scouts- this afternoon it was the Communications merit badge.  Requirement 7 has 3 options.  One is to start a blog.  He decided that would be a better option than designing a newsletter for an organization or writing a letter to the editor of  a magazine or newspaper.  I'd probably agree.  He going to write about his experiences with his month-long fencing trial.  The merit badge only requires 3 postings.  The first was posted today at  One down, only 2 to go.  They may become collectors items as there's a real possibility there will only be three.  Better hurry and check it out before it's old news! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Licensed to Drive

It's been a big month for Spencer- contacts and now a driver's license.  (Yes, it was snowing that afternoon.)

This is my second child to obtain a license.  The third will get his permit in 2 months.  It's hard getting into a car with a newly permitted teen.  It's almost harder letting them drive without me.  Does it ever get any easier to wave goodbye as they head out on their own?  I never thought this right of passage would be such a mixed bag.  I dream for years of them being able to get themselves every where and when it happens I'm on pins and needles until they're home.  What a crazy mom I am some times.

Congrats, Spence! 
(Cant' you just frame the license and hang it on your wall.  It will look great there!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Free at Last! (well, almost)

Day One of new contacts.  So far they don't bother his eyes at all.  Only a couple of days to get his eyes used to longer and longer wearing and the glasses can stay on the shelf.  This is one happy young man.