"But Mom": Two of the most dreadful words in the English language

Friday, April 1, 2011

Singing My Guts Out....

I have been busy...really busy.  (hence the no new posts for a while).  You see, this is concert week.  Concert week means that I am gone every night for 7-8 days in a row.  I leave at 5:30 and don't get home until around 10:30.  Luckily, concert week only happens about 4 times a year.

I sing.  I sing, and I love it!  I currently sing with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus and have for the past 4-years.  But my singing began much, much before that.

I come from a long line of musicians: from opera singers to concert pianists.  My whole being is richly steeped in music.  I remember as a child having to listen to classical music and thinking that I would NEVER like it.  Well, I do like it...a lot. And, if I'm being honest, I make my kids listen to it too.  I also remember as a child driving with my dad and my sisters in his old ORANGE Volkswagon Rabbit listening, and singing to, old opera tapes (yes, TAPES).  We'd listen to Jussi Biorling, The Tabernacle Choir (or the "Abernacle Toir" as I used to call them).  We'd listen to Strauss and Beethoven.  You name it, if it was in any way, shape, or form "Classical", we probably had it.  Of course, we also listened to "I've Been Working On The Railroad" and "Jimmy Crack Corn"...we were diverse that way :)

My dad would ALWAYS sing a note and have us try to sing the same note.  Let me just say, I had terrible pitch as a child.  My parents probably thought I was going to be the black sheep in the family and be totally tone deaf.  Maybe that's why they made me take piano starting at age 4?  Hmmmm....

When I was 19-years old, I auditioned for the Mormon Youth Chorus (kind of a mini-Tabernacle Choir) and sang with them under the direction of Bob Bowden for 1-year.  Then, sadly, the group was dissolved so the main focus could be used for the Tab Choir.  Totally understandable.  But, I will never forget that year.  I got to sing in the old Tabernacle on Temple Square.  I got to sit in the same seats that My parents, my grandparents, my aunts, and cousins sat in.  I got to sit behind the Prophet during General Conference.  I got to go on tour to Disneyland and Sea World.  It was awesome!

Singing in that particular chorus was a calling.  I was set apart by Elder Ruff of the 70 as a missionary for the Temple Square Mission.  In that blessing, Elder Ruff told me that through music I would feel my Savior's love for me and that I would KNOW that he knows who I am.  I have felt this my whole life!

I didn't sing in many more choirs after that until I was married and had Mr. Smarty Pants.  He was about 6-months old when my mom came to visit us.  I would not say that I had post-pardom depression, but I was in a bit of a funk.  My mom suggested that I find a choir to sing in.  That thought had NEVER occurred to me!  Thank heavens for moms!  I found the North Eastern Pennsylvania Choral Society, auditioned for them, and was accepted to be a part of their chorus.

It was so liberating!  I loved being a mom, a wife, a good ol' church goer, but I needed something that was just for me.  Not in a selfish, time consuming way, but in a healthy, balanced way.  I definitely found that balance in music.

I sang with that group, and a smaller group as well that performed over the city, for the time I lived in PA.  The very first thing I did when I moved to Kansas was find a choir and audition.  This choir is MUCH, MUCH, bigger than my little choir in PA.  It was kinds of intimidating to be the small fish in a big pond when I was coming from a situation where I was a big fish in a little pond.  I mean, I had to fill out a musical resume for crying out loud?!?!?  Scary!

Music has been such an enriching part of my life.  I feel like I am using my brain in ways that I just can't when I'm home with the kids...THAT kind of brain is a whole other blog post...but believe me, it takes some serious brains to deal with my three kids (or any kids for that matter!)

I am SO lucky to have a husband who wants me to go out and sing.  I'm sure he doesn't like concert weeks, but he never complains.  For almost 7-years of singing in choirs, he has never complained (at least not much!) :)  I love him so much for not making me feel guilty about this.  Mommy guilt is the WORST!!!

I'm sure I'll be writing a lot more about music in my life,  but I'll end this little ditty with a quote:

"Without music, life would be a mistake."
                              — Friedrich Nietzsche

Amen Mr. Nietzsche, Amen.

Friday, March 18, 2011


The MS Society has been doing this thing for MS Awareness Week where you can go onto their website and say what MS equals to you.  Here is my response:  

MS = Never Taking A Day For Granted.

Each day that I wake up and can get out of bed on my own two feet is a great day.  Each day I can use my fingers to play the piano is a great day.  Each day I can walk to the park with my children is a great day.  Each day I can rise from the couch and give my husband a hug is a great day.  Life is fragile.  Enjoy each moment that crosses your path.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Multiple Sclerosis and Christ

These are two excerpts taken directly from my journal.  I can think of no better way to express my love for my Savior than sharing my emotions in the rawest of forms.

August 20:

“I am a ticking time bomb and the countdown has just begun.  My future looks bleak.  I feel like someone has ripped the rug out from underneath my feet and I am just beginning the long fall to the ground.  How much longer will I be able to hold this pen, run or walk without a cane, play with my children...swallow my food?  The thought of my body attacking my brain makes me want to scream.  The type of scream that begins in my toes and works its way up until I can no longer keep it inside. My brain is under siege, and it is going to lose.  Soon the battle wounds will leave my brain riddled with scars and leave my life...who knows where?!?!  I am too young for this to happen.  I have just begun my life.  How will my children feel when they are asked to care for their mother?  How will my husband feel when his wife can no longer be a wife?  I am scared.  I feel so lost.  How could this happen?”

December 7:

“I thought today as I sat in Relief Society, 'Why am I not more freaked out about this whole mess?'  Seriously.  I should be crawling under my bed and refusing to come out.  Instead, while I am frightened, I am calm.  Amazingly calm.  The scripture came into my mind, “My load is easy and my burthen is light”...and I finally get it.  I understand.  I AM NOT ALONE.  I have been given a terrible burden to bear in this life, but I do not carry it alone.  As I have knelt in fervent prayer praying for help, when the never-ending tears have wet my pillow, in my darkest hour, I have felt His arms around me.  I can never forget.  My testimony of the atonement has been strengthened.  I know Christ is helping me bear this burden.  I can feel it and I am so thankful.  I’ve always believed in the power of the atonement, but now I’m beginning to know it as well.  I can truly say that without Christ in my life, I would be lost.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Episode That Started It All

Everyone who has MS has an episode that started it all.  Here is mine:

It was Memorial Day, May 2008.  The Artist had let me sleep in a bit since he had the day off.  When I finally made my way out of my oh-so-comfy bed and into the kitchen for breakfast, the kids had already eaten and were playing in their room.  I poured myself a bowl of cereal and sat down to eat.  I took a bite.  Something felt a little bit off.  I took another bite.  Yep, definitely off.  You know what it feels like when you sit on a hard chair for a long time without moving much...when part of your body has fallen asleep, but isn't at the tingling stage yet? Well, that is what my face felt like.  Half of my face anyway.  The right half of my face, both inside and out, was numb.  Not totally numb, but enough to make me wonder.  I tried to make myself believe that I had just slept on it wrong and that it would be back to normal in no time.  Then pushed all thoughts of my face aside to get ready for the day.

We were having friends over for a BBQ and I had lots to do.  Food to prepare, a house to clean, children to bathe.  You know the drill.  But the thing is, my face kept getting more numb as the day wore on.  By evening I was a little bit more than concerned.  I had had this feeling all day that it wasn't nothing and that I needed to act as soon as possible.  I had tried calling my mom several times that day to get her opinion, but she was busy and never answered her phone.  She finally called me back right after we had eaten dinner.  I excused myself from my friends so I could hear what my mom had to say.  Well, if you know my mom...which you probably don't...then you know that she is not one to mince words.  She has been a nurse for 30-years and has seen it all!  She told me that it was probably just a pinched nerve, but that it could be any number of things: Bell's Palsy, a burst blood vessel near my brain...and several other things that sounded just as scary.  She told me to go to the doctor the next day if it didn't feel any better.

Well, with the dawn of Tuesday's sun, my face was even MORE numb.  So I called my family doctor.  They got me in to see him that day.  They kept asking me if I had had any trauma to my head...I kept telling them no.  I was sure they didn't believe me though because they asked that same question again and again.  My doctor thought it could be anything really.  So he did as all good doctors do...he ordered blood work. The blood work didn't show anything unusual, so he referred me to a neurologist.

I will never forget sitting in the neurologist's office, up on his exam table, while he poked my face with a very sharp toothpick type thing.  It was a bit scary, because although I could feel it, it felt like a fat finger touching me instead of a sharp stick.  The inside of my mouth was even worse.  If any piece of food or gum strayed to the right side of my mouth, it just disappeared...swallowed into the black abyss.  I could not feel it at all.

More tests were ordered...this time the tests were a little more extensive than the original blood work.  I had to get more blood work done, an MRI (my first one ever!), and a lumbar puncture (the worst thing EVER!!!) After looking at the results from all of these tests, my neurologist said that it possibly could be MS and referred me to another neurologist who specialized in MS.  So, it was off to yet another doctor who ordered yet another MRI.

3 months after I woke to a numb face, I found myself sitting in my new neurologist's office waiting for her to tell me what was wrong with me.  She came in, sat down, and very matter-of-factly told me that I had Multiple Sclerosis.  She talked to me for a while after that, but honestly, I wasn't listening.  I just kept thinking of that woman I spoke of earlier.  I was trying so hard not to burst into tears.  I could-not-believe that this was happening to me.  I was also kicking myself for being there alone.  I should have had The Artist come with me.  Why had I gone by myself?

When I got to my car, I called The Artist.  It was very somber.  I drove home, parked the car, and started walking up the front steps.  The Artist had Mr. Smarty Pants meet me on the porch and give me a big hug.  And thus began my journey with Multiple Sclerosis.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week

Today marks the fist day of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.  So I thought this week would be a good one to post about my experiences thus far with MS.

Here is a little description from the MS Society's website about what MS is in a nutshell:

Multiple Sclerosis is a auto immune disorder that attacks a persons' central nervous system.  It interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and the body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. There is NO CURE and only in the last 20 years have treatments been approved by the FDA … there are only 8 disease modifying therapies (first oral one approved late 2010...all other medications are injections). Scientists have only been able to slow the progression of the disease not cure it but we all are working to help make a cure possible!

Sometimes I feel like a walking pharmacy.  Todd and I joke that I am an addict.  I do "shoot up" on a daily basis.  If you would have told me that one day I would have to give myself daily injections, I would have run the other way as fast as I could, screaming all the while.  I was the girl who was unnaturally scared of needles.  

I have a very vivid memory of my 5-year old self walking down this long, dark hallway.  It was raining outside and everything was grey.  Huge windows were on one side of me, bleak tile on the other.  I was headed toward the sound of screaming children and I knew that soon, too soon, I would be joining their ranks.  My mom took me into a small room.  The doctor handed me a little vial of purple liquid and told me it was to prevent polio.  I drank it.  Then, it was shot time.  Three nurses had to hold me down while my legs were assaulted with needles.  It was terrifying.  My mom promised to get me a prize afterward.  I made her keep her promise.  I picked out a white umbrella with mulit-colored polka dots and used it as a cane for the rest of the day.  (Dramatic much?)

Thankfully, having three kids via C-section cured me of my fear of needles.  Still, there is something innately wrong with sticking something sharp into your body.  Who intentionally causes themselves pain...no matter how small...on a daily basis?  It's just madness.  

I have to order my syringes through a specialty pharmacy.  They sent me a sharps container with my first shipment.  A big, red container with a bio-hazard sign plastered right on the front.  I took one look at that and told The Artist that under no circumstances would I allow that thing to be in my home.  Looking at it was truly depressing.  The Artist did some research online and found this nifty little contraption that is about the size of two of my fingers.  It clips the needle off of the syringe so you can safely throw the syringe away.  It is perfectly acceptable.

For the first month or so, I kept saying over and over how I felt like a human pin cushion.  I had bruises all over the place from the injections. It wasn't fun, but I got over it pretty quick.  Now I am just grateful that there is a medication out there for MS with very little side effects.  I've really only had one side effect...but I'll keep you in suspense because that is a whole other post.

The medication has done great things for me.  I am happy to say that any numbness I had has all but vanished.  My last MRI showed that there were no "active" areas of MS degeneration in my brain...The Artist and I breathed a huge sigh of relief with that news.  Now I wear my bruises as a badge of courage.  I'm going to fight MS.  I know that in the long run I'm not going to win, but I will not give up!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Quirky Quirks: Sleeping

I am a deep sleeper.  I sleep through pretty much anything.  Kids wake up in the night?  I sleep through it.  Husband gets out of bed?  I sleep through it.  Sleep is my friend.  I love my bed.  I love being under heavy covers. I love to sleep and I need a lot of it!  Something that drives The Artist totally bonkers is the fact that I move a lot while I sleep.  I turn from one side to the other.  From this side to that.  The problem is, that I pull the covers with me.  By morning, I am nice and toasty, curled up with blankets up past my head, while The Artist's toes (or more accurately, his whole lower legs) are sticking out the bottom with nothing to cover them.  Every night before bed, The Artist pulls the blankets back down with a sigh.  Every morning, he wakes up cold.  I try not to.  I really do.  But how do you control what your body does in the throws of unconsciousness?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Good Eats: Dutch Babies

Do you love it when you find a meal that your whole family will eat?  I do.  It happens so rarely in my house.  You see, I have a child who is a super picky eater and has been from birth.  So, when I find something that he will eat right along with the rest of us, I use it...a lot!

It makes me feel all June Cleaver when I can sit down at my table with my 3 angelic children, hungry after a day of play, and my husband who has worked so hard all day.  With my table perfectly set, my kitchen nice and tidy and a fire, cheerfully cracking in the fireplace...and then I snap back to reality.  I am no June Cleaver and my kids are no Beaver and Wally.  No, my kitchen has cracked eggs on the counter and dirty dishes in the sink.  My children have been fighting and whining all day.  My husband HAS worked hard all day...if you can call drawing "hard" work (wink, wink). And if I lit a fire in my fireplace, it would fill my home with smoke faster that you can say, "Mom, what's for dinner?"

But this recipe, the reason for this post, is a tried and true family favorite.  Mr. Smarty Pants loves it so much that when he was three and at the doctor's office for a well-child check, the doctor asked him what he does when he is hungry, and he answered "Eat Dutch Babies."  I had to quickly explain that Dutch Babies were actually eggs and flour and milk, and not some poor child from the Netherlands.

Anyhoo, here is the recipe:

Pre-heat oven to 450.  In a 9x13 baking dish, put 4 TBSP of butter in the bottom and put into pre-heating oven.

4 Eggs, beaten until foamy

1 cup milk
1 cup flour

Add to eggs and beat the heck out of em.

Pull pan with melted butter out of the over.  Pour egg mixture over butter, but do not mix them together.  Pop the whole thing back into the oven and bake for 16-minutes.  (I don't even wait for the oven to finish pre-heating before I put the Dutch Babies in to bake).

It will puff up in the oven and turn a nice golden color.  Serve as soon as they come out of the oven.  I top mine with cinnamon, powdered sugar, and syrup.  Or, if I'm feeling crazy, I caramelize some green apples and put them on top with syrup.  We always pair our Dutch Babies with some sort of fruit and either bacon or sausage.  Yum!

***Rule of Thumb: sometimes I make this for the boys for lunch and I don't need to make a whole batch.  So, if you want to make smaller batches, or perhaps a larger batch (because one 9x13 pan doesn't quite feed our whole family!), then here is the rule: for every ONE egg, use 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup milk.  Easy-Breezy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Unfairness of Being Sick

There are not very many things in this life that I view as unfair: Abuse of all kinds; teachers giving your child homework that is so hard YOU are going to have to do it (or worse, it's too hard for even YOU to do!); Pregnancy and birth...but that is another post all together that I know you can't WAIT for me to publish :); and being a mom who is sick.

Getting sick...I cringe at the thought.  When The Artist gets sick, he takes time off of work and stays in bed all day while I try to keep the kids quiet.

When I get sick, I still have to get out of bed.  I have to make breakfast, even though the very thought of food makes me want to vomit.  I have to get 3-energetic children dressed and ready for the day.  Then I have to entertain said energetic children...which more often than not means I turn the tv on for them and lay on the couch trying to sleep.  I have to make lunch, snacks, dinner for my family.  And don't forget that EVERY time I sit down for a second, someone needs something: more food, help getting their button undone to go potty, more food, a drink, more food, help getting some sort of toy down from on high, more food...hey, I've got two growing boys and a little girl who could eat those boys under the table!

It's all very exhausting.

This weekend however, was a little different.  I got sick on a Friday and was sick all weekend.  It was wonderful...I mean horrible. It was horrible. I was really sick.  "Couldn't get out of bed for 2 full days" sick.  BUT, it was a Saturday.  The Artist was home.  I could sleep.  It was also on a Sunday.  Usually Sundays are crazy busy, but this Sunday was Stake Conference...if you're LDS, you know what that means...The Artist was home.  I could sleep.  I hated losing my weekend to sickness, but if a mom is going to be sick, I think this is the way to go!

I'm going to have to remember this...getting sick is strictly reserved for Saturdays and Sundays.  Hmmmm, I like it :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"You're Off To Great Places..."

(Conversation I had today with my Sweet Boy:)

Sweet Boy: "Mommy, I want to be 3. Will I ever be 3 again?"

ME: "No sweetie.  You can only be 3 once.  Now you are my big 4-year old."

Sweet Boy: "But Mommy, I promise to still go poo-poo in the potty.  If I still wear underwear then can I be 3 again?"

ME: "I'm afraid it doesn't work that way.  You only get to be 3 once.  But now you are 4 and there are so many wonderful things that happen when you are 4!"

I remember growing up and wanting to be older.  Now that I am grown up, there are times I wonder what it would be like to be younger.  With every wrinkle, every body ache, every sag and bag, every age-related malady, I remember back to when I had none of these things.  And then I smile.

There is something remarkable about growing older.  I like the person that I have turned out to be.  I like me.  (Okay, I really could do without the wrinkles, but I digress.)  With age has come confidence and wisdom.  With age has come happiness and love.  Age has been good to me.  Sure, my body isn't what it used to be, but my mind is so much more.

Life is full of wonderful moments and opportunities.  Each age has so many things to offer.  Great experiences, great friendships, great teaching moments.  I try to embrace each one.  Some of them aren't my favorites...like having newborns who don't sleep...but I still find the good in them.  They will be gone in the blink of an eye and I don't want to miss a moment.

I try to always remember that there is a time and a season for everything.  Enjoy the time and season that you are in.  Look forward to times and seasons to come.

 So, Sweet Boy, enjoy being 4!

"You're off to Great Places! 
Today is your day! 
Your mountain is waiting, 
So... get on your way!"
           -Dr. Seuss

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hello. I'm Shy. And You Are?...

If you know me now you may be surprised to learn that I am shy.  Oh sure, I talk a lot.  I love to speak in public.  I love to teach the children and adults in church.  But it has taken me YEARS to get to this point.  Underneath it all, I am shy at heart.

(Flash back 25-years to my elementary school days:)

I was the girl who absolutely, under no circumstances could say hi to another child without my face turning beat red and bile threatening to come strait up and out.  I remember walking through ZCMI in Cottonwood Mall, when a classmate of mine walked by with her mother.  She said hi to me, but I just kind of hid behind my mom.  My mom got really mad at me for not saying hi.  What she didn't know was that I tried to speak...I really did.  I WANTED to speak, I just couldn't.  I was even holding my mom's hand for crying out loud and still couldn't find it within myself to open my mouth!

It was so frustrating and humiliating.  It was also confusing.  I wasn't that way at home.  At home I was myself.  I had no problems telling my sisters what to do...I mean, "talking" to my sisters.  I remember waking up in the morning and thinking that THAT was going to be the day that I broke out of my shell.

It never was.

The children at school took advantage of my timidity and teased me mercilessly.  They knew that I wouldn't do anything about it.  They would chase me home from school, pull my chair out from under me while I was sitting down, call me names.  Kids can be cruel, cruel creatures.

As much as I was teased however, there was one girl, only one, who was teased more than I.  I at least had one friend.  This poor girl had no one.

Her name was Bethany.  The only thing I remember about her is her face.  It was round and framed by stringy orange hair.

The worst thing I have ever done in my life was when I was in the fourth grade.  It was recess and I was kicking a ball against a wall...by myself.  I was approached by Bethany.  She asked me if she could play with me.  I don't know why I did it, but I told her no.  Then I gave her a mean look, grabbed my ball, and walked away.   Even at the time I knew that I was being cruel for no reason.  I immediately felt bad and have felt terrible ever since.

This moment has haunted me for years and I have learned a lot from it.  From that moment on, I tried to be kind to everybody that I came across.  I'm not perfect and know that I have offended many people along the way, but I really try.  Everyone deserves a friend and a smile.  Everyone.

If I ever come across Bethany again in this life, I would give her a big hug and tell her how sorry I am about that day at the wall.  In all honesty, she probably doesn't remember that incident...but she might.  Whether she remembers or not, I remember.  I remember.

I once heard that there are three things that are important in this life here on earth:

1. To be kind
2. To be kind
3. To be kind.

If I teach my children anything at all, I hope that it is this:  Nothing is more important than this, to be kind.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Home...or Pennsylvania, Take Your Pick

There are three things you should know about me:

1. I do not live by my family
2. I have not lived by my family for 8-years
3. I miss my family

I am a Utah girl, born and raised.  My husband is a California boy.  We met while he was living in Utah going to school.  When we graduated from BYU, The Artist got two job offers: one in Jacksonville, Fl and the other in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  Hardly any of The Artist's graduating class received job offers, so we were grateful for whatever we got.  We ended up choosing Wilkes-Barre.

(pronunciation guide: wilkes-bear, wilkes-bar or wilkes-berry...take your pick...the natives sure did!)

Pennsylvania...2,066 miles away from everything and everyone that I knew and loved.  Not only was I moving so far away, but I was moving to the EAST COAST.  I may as well have been moving to a whole new planet!

The people spoke differently than I. I heard things like, "What's doin'?",  "What can I get for youse?", "Hena?".  Let's just say that I did many double takes when I first arrived.  I spoke differently too.  I ordered a "pop" one time and the lady just looked at me and said, "you're not from around here are you?"  They don't say "pop", they are much more sophisticated and say "soda".  I actually like "soda" better, so I adapted to that one pretty quick.  But I am happy to say that after 4-years of living there, I never, not ever stooped to saying "youse"!  I have standards you know.

I grew up in a predominantly Mormon community.  The thought of moving to a predominantly Catholic community totally freaked me out!  Not because I have anything against Catholicism, but because I was going to be the minority. ME!  I had never been in the minority in my entire life!  It was daunting.

I arrived in PA on a Sunday.  The next day, Monday, I went to the adorable little library in West Pittston to type up my resume.  I fell in love with the library from the moment I walked in...but that is a whole other post. Anyway, back to the excitement that was my resume.  I sat down to start typing when this guy, about my age, dark hair, dark eyes, totally Italian looking, but with a thick East Coast accent, looks over my shoulder and says,

"BYU?  You went to BYU?"

(Oh crap, he's going to know I'm a Mormon) "Yes"

"Are you a Mormon?"


"Let me ask you something....(and he asked this with complete sincerity) How many wives does your husband have?"

(What the heck?!?!?!?)  "Uh, one."

"No, no.  I mean, how many is he ALLOWED to have?"

(Is this guy serious?) "One."

"Oh, okay"

Yes folks.  That is the very first conversation I had with anybody, save my husband, when we moved to Pennsylvania.  I still shake my head over it.

(side note: this guy and I ended up working together for the same company and became friends.)

I realized something about East Coasters that day...at least the ones in NEPA (that stands for Northeastern Pennsylvania in case you didn't know...it is a "word" they use ALL the time!)  I realized that they are very blunt about pretty much everything.  They will ask you anything and say anything to you, but they do it with an open heart and an open mind.  I have never in my life met so many wonderful people.  We lived in this little town where you knew everyone and everyone knew you.  Your neighbors were your family.  There are no substitutions for my real mom and dad, but I had plenty of volunteers for the position of my PA mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins...you name it.  It was a wonderful experience that I will always treasure.  And though I no longer live in PA, I miss the relationships and the friendships that I had there.

I grew a lot as a person because of my experiences in PA.  I am now happy to say that I love being the minority.  No more fears about what people are going to think about me because of their misconceptions of Mormonism.  No more fears about being so far from familiarity.  Just excitement in the journey and optimism for the future.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Television: Top Chef

The Artist and I do not watch much television...too much to do and too little time in my opinion.  However, every Wednesday evening The Artist and I get the kids to bed extra early and snuggle up to watch "our show".  We love the show "Top Chef" on Bravo.  We can't get enough of it.  We have watched it for years and have loved every minute of it.  We would love to be a fly on the wall during one of their quick fire challenges or during their time spent in the "stew room".  And we would LOVE to taste the dishes that the contestants prepare.  Mmmm.....

Our two favorite quotes from all the seasons are from Fabio and Richard. (This is purely for memories' sake because I know that NO ONE is going to give a flying hoot what our two favorite quotes of Top Chef are.)

Fabio: "This is Top Chef, not Top Scallop!"  (There were a TON of scallop dishes on that particular season)

Richard: "What do you want me to say? 'Congratulations! You came in third'? Yay!"

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Good Housewife...Or Not

I think that I have been blessed with a lot of talents.  I would not want to give a single one of them up!  This post however will not be dedicated to singing my praises of all that I can do.  No, this post is all about something I am terrible at.  Something I desperately want to be better at.  Something I WISH was a talent of mine.

I wish I was a better housewife...or homemaker, domestic goddess, CEO of "home"land security...you get the idea.

The thing is, I get tired.  Really tired.  MS has seen to that.  I also get really dizzy...thank you again MS.  I can't even unload or load the dishwasher without becoming nauseas from getting dizzy.  And sweeping the floor, forget about it.

I want so badly to have a clean house for The Artist to come home to every day after work.  I want my home to be in order when friends come over.  I don't want my children to think it is normal to have dirty dishes in the sink and crumbs on the floor.  I don't want to be the lady that gets the show "Hoarders" called on to rescue her family.

I do my best, but I must admit that my house typically gets the better of me.  Laundry is my nemesis.  The bathrooms refuse to clean themselves (the nerve!).  And no matter how many toys I get rid of, there always seems to be an army ready to take their place.  It gets very overwhelming.

I'm writing this down not to get sympathy...I DETEST sympathy.  I'm writing this so when my children are older, they will know that I tried.  That I did the best that I could.  I gave 110% to my duties as a housewife.  Mr. Smarty Pants, Sweet Boy, and Cute Girl, I'm sorry that your clean clothes can only be found folded up in a laundry hamper on my floor.  I'm sorry that our van is typically littered with "stuff".  I'm so sorry that I could not "do it all" for you.  I love you!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lemon Blossoms

I have this thing with cake.  I love it.  Not all cakes however, just certain cakes.  I also have this thing with lemons.  I L-O-V-E lemon!  I could eat lemon-y food all the time.  So, when I came across this recipe a few years ago, I thought I had finally made it to paradise.  It is lemony perfection at its best.  Thank you Paula Dean for this fabulous recipe.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you "Lemon Blossoms"

***Disclaimer: You cannot eat just one teeny little cupcake.  Oh no!  Take caution.  If you eat one, then you will inevitably eat another...and another...and another...and another.  Consider yourself warned!

Lemon Blossoms


  • 18 1/2-ounce package yellow cake mix
  • 3 1/2-ounce package instant lemon  pudding mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil


  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray miniature muffin tins with vegetable oil cooking spray . Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour a small amount of batter , filling each muffin tin half way. Bake for 12 minutes. Turn out onto a tea towel
To make the glaze, sift the sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Mix with a spoon until smooth.
With fingers, dip the cupcakes into the glaze while they're still warm, covering as much of the cake as possible, or spoon the glaze over the warm cupcakes, turning them to completely coat. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour, before storing in containers with tight-fitting lids.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quirky Quirks: Crumbles

I have another quirky quirk that I didn't even know I had until The Artist pointed it out.  Apparently, when I eat salty or crumbly finger foods, I brush my fingers off after each bite.  Huh...who knew?  Well, technically The Artist knew, but I sure didn't.  After 10-years of marriage though, I'm proud to say that there are now TWO finger-brusher-offers in my home.  It's funny how your quirky quirks can get passed to your significant other.  Hmmm, I wonder what other quirky quirks I've passed on?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guilty Pleasure: Books

I love to read...a lot.  I am always reading a book.  In fact, I would almost always pick a book over the television or a movie.  For me, reading is a way to escape into another world and become someone else for a short time.  I just love it.  In fact, I think it is safe to say that I need it too.

Now, though I do enjoy most genres of reading, my favorite, and hence the genre I read most, is Adolescent Fiction.  I do not want to read bad language, graphic violence, explicit sex...I just don't want all that crap running amok in my mind.  I have a great imagination and when I read, books come to life.  This can be good and bad.  For better or worse, what I read tends to stay with me for a long time.

So, back to Adolescent Fiction.  The reason I like this genre so much is that it typically doesn't have garbage in it.  No bad language, no sex, no graphic anything.  What is does tend to have are themes of good versus evil where the good guys triumph over the bad, an uplifting flavor, courage, honor, decency, learning moments, humility...all things that I want to escape to.

I am lucky to have married someone who likes to read as much as I do.  It is something we have tried really hard to teach to our children as well.  I really think that the love of books is something that is learned.  Our children all love books.  We have had many tender moments reading to Mr. Smarty Pants, Sweet Boy, and Cute Girl.  I love that they love books.

I am so thankful to have grown up in a home where books were important.  Books bring me great joy and happiness, and I am so thankful to be literate.  I do not take that blessing for granted.  .

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cake, or "I Think I've Died And Gone To Heaven" Cake

There are times when we sit down to eat and Todd takes one bite and asks me if that particular recipe is written down and where he can find it.  I always joke that he is just asking so that one day when I'm long gone, he can give it to his new wife to make.  (He doesn't deny it!)  Well, THIS is one of THOSE recipes.  This cake is TO-DIE-FOR!!!  I'm not even joking.  Try it.  Right now.  Seriously...start pre-heating your oven so it will be ready for you when you're done reading this post.

Pre-heat your oven to 325.

Chocolate Chip Cake

1 bar (4 oz) German chocolate
1 pkg plain yellow cake mix
1 pkg vanilla pudding (I use cook and serve, but instant works great too)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat oven to 325.  Lightly grease and flour a bundt pan.  Set aside.

2. Break the German chocolate into 4 pieces.  Grate bar until it is finely grated.  Set aside.

3. Place cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Blend on low for 1-minute.  Stop machine and fold in grated chocolate.  Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2-minutes more, scraping sides down again if needed.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  The batter should look well blended and the chocolate chips should be evenly distributed.  Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing it out with the spatula.  Place in oven.

4. Bake the cake until it is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 58-60 minutes.  I like to keep my cake with the side exposed to the oven up...it gets a little bit crispy and you know how I like me some crunch!

Quirky Quirks: Food

We all have quirks.  It's part of what makes us who we are.  My Grandmother has an eye twitch.  My sister (The Gorgeous One) cracks her wrists.  My other sister (The Tall One...who is also totally gorgeous, but I can't call her that or you wouldn't know who the heck I am talking about) wiggles when she is trying to fall asleep.  My dad mixes up his words (you know you do dad!)  My Grandfather always whistled "Sweet Betsy From Pike".

I too have quirks...a lot of them.  Here is my quirk of the day:  I like my food to crunch.  I love croutons or chips in my soups.  I have to have croutons in my salads.  I like nuts in my bread.  I love chips.  I love chocolate crackle with my ice cream.  I like crushed up corn flakes on my cheesey potatoes.

I just love crunch!

(crunch, crunch, crunch!)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Girl and Her Musings: Marriage and "The Plan"

Marriage is a funny thing. At times so wonderful and at others so frustrating...but if both partners are willing to work, it is always worth it. I remember growing up and fantasizing about my perfect wedding. I would go through countless magazines and cut out beautiful bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, flowers, even place settings. I thought about what food I wanted to have served, what things I would register for and who I would invite. I thought about how many children I wanted to have...SIX!!!...and I thought about what names I wanted to give them. I for sure knew that I would have 3 boys and 3 girls and I had the BEST names picked out: straight from my journal, they were Mercedes, Abbigail, Maggie, Zack, Anson, and Milton. Oh yeah, I was on top of it all. As I look back on my youth, I wonder if I ever spent any time contemplating WHO I was going to marry. I'm sure I occasionally gave it a spare thought, but mostly I focused my attentions on the frivolities of it all. And it was fun!

A few years ago, I came across a random slip of paper in my scriptures that dated back to my years as a Mia Maid. Our leader had prepared this great lesson about temple marriage. She handed out beautiful pieces of paper and had us write a list of things we wanted in our future companions. Here is my list: Black hair, blue eyes, at least 6-feet tall...emphasis on the at least...olive skin, totally gorgeous, and for good measure I threw in a "has to be nice to me". Aww, how cute. He has to be "nice". Well, needless to say, my list was a bit lacking.

Recently, I came across another list that I wrote while in Laurels. This list is a bit more deep: Loves the Lord, loves me a lot!, knows the gospel, strong testimony, strong spirit, loves kids, supports me, sense of humor, honors the priesthood, hard worker, motivated, returned missionary, understanding, beautiful, be a friend, some of the same interests, aware of my needs, worthy, spontaneous, romantic, encouraging, a good example, respectful.

The Artist and I laugh that I got everything I wanted from my two lists. Well, technically I laugh, The Artist rolls his eyes but hey, you can't have everything. So I got my wish lists filled, but the great thing about Heavenly Father's plan, is that I got so much more! The other thing about Heavenly father's plan, is that it never quite works out the way you think it is going to.

When I turned the ripe old age of 21, I was still single and I felt like such an old maid! 10-years later I laugh about how I felt then. 21-seems so young. Come to think of it, 31-feels awfully young. And 41-aint much older than 31 really. Anyway, I remember being so frustrated with dating. I was dating really great guys, but none of them were "the one". To make matters worse, my younger sister was engaged...BEFORE me. It was a real blow to know that she would get married before me. That just seemed so unfair! Oh the burdens of youth. Thankfully, I met The Artist shortly after. It only took one date for me to think, Hmmm, I think I could totally marry this guy. Actually, as we were driving home from our first date, I realized that I didn't even know his last name, so I asked him. Register. Register. Mrs. Register. Sister Register. Seriously...Register?!?! Well, maybe I can't marry him after all. I mean, "Register" was not part of my plan!

So, my sister got married a few months later and I was still dating The Artist. Things were going great, but we did not talk about marriage. I wanted to, but I just couldn't bring myself to bring it up. So, an entire YEAR later, which in Mormon Standard Time is close to an eternity, The Artist finally proposed. It made me so happy...and also freaked me out more than just a little. After all those years thinking about getting married, I was finally going to do it. I was going to take the plunge, tie the knot, attach the ol' ball and chain. This was ETERNITY we were talking about after all.

We only had 6-weeks to plan our wedding. It's a long story, but it goes something like this: The Artist thought that he most likely wanted to marry me. He also knew that I wanted to get married in the Salt Lake Temple, but that temple fills up quickly. So, just to cover all his bases, he secretly called them up and set up a date and time for us to get married. When the temple patron asked him my name and telephone number and address, The Artist panicked and lied to them. Yep, you heard me, he LIED to the temple workers. Not something I would recommend, but something we all laugh about now. It took him 3-months after he made that appt to actually propose. When he finally did propose, we only had 6-weeks until the blessed day.

Well, I was in the midst of finals and The Artist was as well. All of my previous planning went down the tubes and we pretty much turned our wedding over to our mothers and my best friend. I wore my sister's dress, which I loved! Thank you Tall Sister. We had our reception in my backyard, which had been totally renovated 6-months earlier for my sister's wedding. Thank you again! My in-laws made all the food. I took a quick evening to register at Target for some things that I thought we may need, but I really wasn't expecting much from any showers or from my reception. It was low-key. It was casual. It was perfect! I could not have asked for anything more.

Almost 10-years later I can honestly say that I love The Artist more now that I did then. I thought I loved him, and I did, but I have since realized that I did not know what love really was all those years ago. I'm so glad that I loved him enough to marry him and thank my Heavenly Father every single day that he brought that handsome California guy and this little ol' Utah girl together.

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you never know how Heavenly Father's plan is going to work out. It does no good to try to hurry it along. We just have to trust in Him and be patient.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Grocery Store Bliss

Every family has certain things they pick up at the store. I mean, we all get eggs, milk, cheese and bread. I'm not talking about those things. I'm talking about the special items that put a huge smile on your children's faces and warm your husband's heart (or tummy, but we all know that the way to a man's heart is through his tummy, so it's practically the same thing.) Well, here is our list:

Chocolate Milk has to top the list. Sometimes when I'm at the store and I walk by the chocolate milk, I get little flutters in my tummy and think, "today is the day for buying chocolate milk." I can't even wait to get home to pull the yummy goodness out of the grocery bag and show my family. It is always met with shouts of exclamations like, "Oh Mom, you're my best friend" or "Mom! I love you!".

Yoplait Yogurts is a close second. I remember as a child going to my cousin's house to spend the night. I loved going over there for many reasons, one of them being the Yoplait Yogurts they always had in their fridge. I would carefully pull that foil lid off, reverently lick the yogurt off of it, and linger at each bite so I could fully enjoy the scrumptious taste and texture. My kids are the same way...except they just dig in and chow down. There is no reverence there. Our favorite flavors are lime, vanilla and orange. Mmmmm.

Dreyer's Oreo Ice Cream: This is another special treat. We are huge ice creams fans at our house, but this ice cream tops them all. It is beyond scrumptious.

Crusty Bread...which is just our word for the yummy French Bread that is nice and warm and just sitting in those racks waiting for someone to pick them up and take them home. Yeah, we love that stuff!

Cheese Sticks are a real treat. But they can't be the white cheese sticks. Oh no. They have to be the "speckled orange and yellow" cheese sticks or the swirled cheese sticks.

And last but not least, Chocolate Pudding. Oh man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Our favorite treat to eat after we have Family Home Evening (FHE) is Swiss Miss chocolate pudding cups. Mmmm...It is even better with a dollop of whipped cream on top.