Sunday, October 26, 2008

Baby Blvd. Give Away

I've mentioned Baby Blvd. and the really cool handmade gifts and accessories before, but this is exciting news . . . Jen has recently added some new items to her inventory. You've got to check them out. And she is having a great big "Give Away Contest". Check out Baby Blvd. and enter for your chance to win.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chicken Noodle Soup

I've been sick with a yucky head cold this week and I've been craving homemade chicken noodle soup. I finally realized that I was the mom and it was up to me to make the soup for my coughing, sneezing, wheezing family.

I had to make a stop at Costco anyway today during a long and stressful list of errands, so I decided to pick up one of the seasoned rotisserie chickens. Because if you didn't already know, those chickens from Costco make a great and easy chicken noodle soup.

Here's what I do:

1. Fill a big pot 3/4 full with water and chicken bouillon cubes (or chicken stock). Heat to a boil.
2. Pour those awesome drippings from the bottom of the chicken container into the pot.
3. Cut off all the meat from the chicken; cut into small pieces and set aside. Attempt to save the skin from the begging children.
4. Once the meat is removed from the bones, throw the rest (bones, skin, fat, etc.) into the pot and allow to simmer.
5. Chop one onion and three to four carrots and add to the pot.
6. When the carrots are the desired consistency (I like them soft) use a slotted spoon to extract the bones, skin, etc. from the pot and throw away.
7. Add the chicken meat and simmer.
8. Add a teaspoon or so of my favorite Cajun spices or season salt or whatever seasonings you like to desired taste.
9. Add a package of egg noodles and follow the directions on the bag (I usually boil them for 7 minutes) just before you are ready to serve the soup so the noodles don't get too soggy.

We occasionally add sliced fresh mushrooms or additional vegetables.

It's oh, so good. And it makes me feel so good--even after a stressful day of running a long list of errands all over town with my five, three and one year old, and a head cold. Now I'm looking forward to changing into those new, soft jammies I also bought at Costco today. Thank goodness for bedtime. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What to Expect . . .

In the very early years of our marriage, I was two weeks late and POSITIVE that I was pregnant. I was so excited, I rushed right out and bought "What to Expect When You're Expecting" even before I took the pregnancy test. For some reason that book said "you're pregnant!" to me. It was the old copy that had a picture of a pregnant woman wearing a very "motherly" dress, sitting demurely in a rocking chair. I so looked forward to the nine lovely months where I could relax, read dozens of books, have someone wait on my every need and sit patiently in a rocking chair. I'm not sure why I had such ridiculous ideas of pregnancy--my mom did have seven kids. That pregnancy test, like the other dozen or so tests I took in the next five years, was negative, so the book got shelved.

When I finally did get pregnant, I excitedly pulled the book from the shelf and began to read. It spent the next nine months on my night stand. Pregnancy was nothing as I had originally suspected. For one thing, I was working 50-60 hours a week in a high-stress job that I loved. There was little time to actually sit around reading. I'd fall into bed each night completely exhausted.

I also started to hate the "What to Expect..." book. Each chapter, divided by month, started with a list of generally horrible things to expect. A typical list would sounds a lot like this*:

Heart burn
Swelling of the Feet and Legs
Leg Cramps
Weight Gain
Back Pain
Sciatic Nerve Sensations
Increased/Decreased Appetite
Food Cravings
Memory Loss
Increased Saliva Production
Mood Swings
Hair Growth (in the wrong areas)
Pelvic Pain
Stretch Marks

*Not a real list from the book or anyone else with authority--just my list.

Yikes! Who wants to expect that? I no longer read pregnancy books. If something weird or unexpected happens, I might pull the book out as a resource to see if it is actually normal and expected. But other than that, I take the pregnancy day by day. And on the last day I can expect to hold a beautiful new baby that will steal my heart away. That's what I'm expecting...

Sunday, October 19, 2008


The kids were out of school for "Fall Break" Thursday and Friday, so my husband decided to take the days off work as well (BIG THANK YOU!). Thursday we drove to Salt Lake City and had a great day with the kids hanging out at the Museum of Church History and Art and then taking the tours at the Church Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square.

Then, Friday we all woke up with the aches, pains, sore throats and runny noses of a full-blown fall cold. I told my husband that he should have taken the day from work as a "sick day" since that is what it was--a lay around the house, feeling miserable, looking longingly out the window at the perfect fall weather, watching movies, drinking orange juice, wiping noses, coughing, waste of a vacation day.

Our family room has a pile of blankets six feet high that the kids dragged into the room. The loft is covered with every Matchbox car in the house (I think we have too many). And I wonder: why is it that when the kids are sick they still have the energy to make gigantic messes and I can barely get out of bed? It really isn't fair.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tight Pants

Even my "fat" pants aren't fitting well. I'm currently in the lay-on-the-bed-to-button and then unable-to-breath-all-day stage. It's very sad. I'm not far enough along to justify wearing maternity clothes yet, though my comfort may demand the stretchy waist bands sooner this time.

It makes me remember (sort of fondly) my first pregnancy--where I gained very little weight in the first six months and my midwife began to worry. She shouldn't have concerned herself too much. I packed on over fifty pounds in the last three months. At one late appointment, after I had gained ten pounds in just a week, she asked "WHAT are you eating?"

"Just pasta," I replied. At this point my husband began to laugh hysterically.

"Pasta? She eats Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and a lot of it." It was true. I loved the stuff and ate nearly an entire box nearly every day. Now that I actually have kids, mac and cheese lacks that same appeal. My husband still teases me when we do have mac and cheese (not every day), "Are we having pasta for lunch?"

When my mother stepped off the plane in Boston and saw my bloated, huge expecting self, I think she nearly fainted. She told me later that she was so grateful that I went into labor and delivered the (9 lbs. 6 oz.) baby the next day, because she didn't think she could stand to look at me any longer.

Thankfully, I lost the weight quickly that time (I was much younger) and haven't gained as much during the next three pregnancies. Still, the insane weight gain and a ten pound baby haunt me. I just wish my pants still fit.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pizza/Pajama Party

Tomorrow, my seven-year-old son gets to have a "Pizza/Pajama Party" at school. The class earned the party with their good behavior (so far) and got to vote on what kind of party they wanted. Apparently, the pizza party tied with the pajama party, so luckily they get to have both. But I'm just wondering--what kind of person/kid votes for a pajama party OVER a pizza party? Yes, I really love pajamas, but instead of food? Come on!

Oh, and I hope we actually remember to have him wear pajamas tomorrow morning. Last year, I got a phone call from a sad boy and I had to make the run back to school with a pair of pajamas. Too bad they weren't the ones he wanted. This event is filed away with the many others I've already racked up as a non-super mom--including the time I forgot to have him wear his Halloween costume to school and the time I forgot to have him take Valentines to his preschool class. How come we never forget these mom-mistakes?


After an interesting conversation yesterday as we tried to determine whether or not we should serve caffeinated soft drinks at a Relief Society "Girls' Night Out" (we won't), caffeine has been on my mind (not literally).

I managed to kick my college-inspired Diet Coke (with a teaspoon of "imitation" vanilla added) habit several years ago when we moved to New Hampshire. My boss knew enough about Mormons to know that we didn't drink alcohol, coffee and Coke. It was too difficult to try to explain, so I just stopped drinking Diet Coke at work, even though the only non-caffeine beverage offered in the lunch room was Sprite and I hate Sprite. I drank water instead.

Since moving back to Utah, I've been either pregnant and/or nursing, so I haven't resumed the Diet Coke habit (and they even make my favorite Vanilla Diet Cokes now).

But there is something that I cannot give up--chocolate. Can't do it. Try not to eat too much (Ha!) but I believe strongly that there are not many desserts that the addition of chocolate chips can not improve (bacon and chocolate chips--love them both). And you know what? They sell chocolate on BYU campus. They put it in all the great BYU Creamery ice creams. That must mean something, right?

Out of curiosity, I looked up some information. Here are some interesting numbers (just for fun).

One bar of Hershey's Milk Chocolate -- 10 mg. of caffeine
One bar of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate -- 31 mg. of caffeine
One can of Cola -- 34 mg. of caffeine
One cup of coffee -- 80-135 mg. of caffeine

So, if I stick to milk chocolate, I would have to eat three bars of chocolate to equal the amount of caffeine in a can of soda. I'm pretty sure I could do it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


My husband and I stayed in bed late this morning. We could hear the kids playing (making a mess) in their bedrooms. While the boys set up their train tracks, my five-year-old daughter was "pretending" to read a book and we heard her say, "Then we killed him and ate him up."

"What in the world is she reading?" I asked my husband. He climbed out of our warm, snugly bed to find out.

Charlotte's Web.

She was reading Charlotte's Web and had killed and eaten Wilbur, the pig. Yes, we enjoy ham and pork chops and especially bacon (there are not many foods that the addition of bacon can't improve) but really this was disturbing. We've read the book. We've watched the movie (lots of times). How could she eat Wilbur? He's cute and sweet and does back flips.

It reminded me of a story that my parents tell from my childhood. My brother and I were still very young and as a family we raised a little pig named Homer. He was pink and cute and we loved him. There's really only one reason for raising a pig and when Homer got big enough he met his fate.

My parents decided to break the news to us one night at dinner. Very gently, the informed my brother and I that pigs were meant to be eaten and that night we were eating our pig. To their surprise and horror, we weren't sad. In fact, we were delighted and spent the rest of the meal singing to each other, "We're eating Homer!" We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, but I don't think my parents were able to eat a bite.

I suppose, children just know--pigs are for eating. Oh, and consider adding bacon to your potato salad next summer. It's always a hit around here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bad Day Cookies

My husband had a bad day at work yesterday. Since he works from home, I can immediately tell by the stomping that things are not going well. I gave him a hug and listened to him complain, but there wasn't anything I could do to solve the problem at work. So, I baked cookies--really good chocolate chip cookies. When the first batch came out of the oven, I took two gooey cookies and a glass of cold milk upstairs to his office. It took a lot more than two cookies, but eventually he felt better.

We took some more to my son's teacher when we met with her for Parent Teacher Conferences yesterday afternoon. A bribe can never really hurt, right.

Today while I was visiting with the other moms while we waited for our kindergartners, I told them about the cookies (mostly to explain the chocolate stains all over my one-year-old daughter's shirt). My friend related her own story:

Yesterday she helped in her daughter's class. When she was getting ready to leave, her daughter asked if her to stay for lunch. My friend explained that she had to go pick up her kindergartner. Then, her daughter suggested that they meet at the Book Fair later. After picking up her son, my friend met her daughter in the library.

"Are you OK?" she asked her daughter who immediately burst into tears and begged to go home from school early. My friend insisted that her daughter stay at school but suggested that they make cookies when she got home. So, that afternoon they baked their famous, delicious and favorite frosted sugar cookies. The day was saved.

Well, when I discovered that she had a good recipe for sugar cookies, I was delighted. I've been searching for a good one for years and have been thus far disappointed. Would she mind sharing her recipe?

This afternoon, the door bell woke me up from my nap (yes, I got one today!) and there on the front porch was my friend and her daughter with a tin full of cookies AND the recipe! I would have given her some of our chocolate chip cookies but, um, we already ate them all. Anyway, the cookies were as delicious as she said but I can't share her recipe because she swore me to secrecy.

However, I will share our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and hopefully they can help you out of a bad day.

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to egg mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll cookies into balls and place them on a cookie sheet.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Store cookies in an air-tight container to keep soft and fresh.

Movie Recommendation

My husband and I watched an absolutely wonderful independent film this weekend. "Arranged" was beautiful and inspiring. It is a story of the friendship that develops between two teachers--an Orthodox Jew and a Muslim. We highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I don't generally watch television. We don't have access to cable or even the basic networks at our house. We watch the news, the political debacle, and the weather online.

Last weekend we went to my husband's parents' house. They love TV. They have a really big one and it takes center stage in the main room of the house. It can be seen from the kitchen. It's almost always on. Over the weekend, we watched General Conference but we watched it most of the rest of the time as well.

Besides the fact that even with several hundred channels to choose from, there really wasn't much to watch, I was most intrigued by the commercials. I haven't missed them. Over the years, there have been some really obnoxious commercials and I've had to wonder at the advertising companies that come up with, approve and make them. Are they really effective? I certainly remember them but often the commercials turn me off and I refuse to ever shop/patronize the item/store/restaurant being advertised.

Do you recall the dancing guy in the yellow suit who advertised for John Parras Furniture several years ago? Even though they now have a respectable former-anchorman, whenever I see/hear the name "John Parras Furniture", I immediately think of that crazy, annoying yellow-suit guy. I'm sure the place has beautiful furniture and great deals, but I'm not going there.

Or the freaky-looking plastic king guy? I don't eat at Burger King.

Super Dell? Enough said.

Now it's Arby's. What is with the "married to a goat" commercial? Does it make you want to eat their sandwiches (which actually looked pretty tasty)? Are they attempting to make some weird political statement about marriage? Whatever they are trying to say, it certainly doesn't say "come buy and eat this sandwich" to me.

What commercials bug you? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I've long been an advocate of making sure you go out and do your civic duty to vote. The political process is intriguing and my husband and I have enjoyed participating (in a limited, not-too active, definitely not carrying signs way). We lived in New Hampshire for the first primary in 2000 (we voted for Bush even though NH picked McCain). My husband was a state delegate this year. We watch the debates. We talk about it--constantly with anyone who will listen or pretend to listen. We stay up all night watching the results on election night. And we definitely vote.

This election year started out great. Our favorite candidate in the Republican Primary was coming on strong and he looked good. We were excited and knew that he would be great for America (Romney, if you didn't already know). And then the news media (FoxNews) chose to promote McCain and the Huckabee mess in the South forced our candidate out of the race and left us with the unpleasant choice of McCain who hardly represents my values and political ideals. I was sad and angry with my party.

Over the past few months, I had nearly talked myself into supporting McCain, not because I agreed with him on much of anything but at least I trusted him a little more than the other guy. When McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate I was temporarily excited. She, at least, has a little more of the character and ideas that I have been looking for in a candidate. But she's running for vice president--who has never had much influence on anything.

We watched some of the debate last night. I got sick--physically ill. I had to turn it off. Both candidates had ridiculous and/or scary plans. In the face of serious economic crisis (brought on by the GREED of everyone from average Joe who bought a home he couldn't afford with a shady mortgage loan pushed on him by shady real estate agents and dishonest mortgage brokers from banks willing to take big risks to try to make a buck because they were run by CEOs who had huge golden parachutes because Congress was more interested in campaign contributions from banks than decent oversights...) I am wishing that America had been willing to look past a man's religion that they didn't understand and vote for a man who had the knowledge, wisdom and integrity to handle the economic situation.

I'm not sure if I can vote for either of the presidential candidates. I'm not sure if I could look myself in the mirror in the morning. A write-in! It might be the only thing my conscience can handle.