Monday, January 31, 2011

My Fat Feet = Lymphedema

When I was pregnant my feet got very swollen. In fact, when I was pregnant with Neal my entire body got very swollen. Anyway, during my pregnancy with Lilly my feet were excessively swollen and the skin on my right foot developed a dry, scaly thickening. My midwife suggested loofahs and creams.

After Lilly was born my left foot went back to normal (long, skinny toes--rather ugly) but my right foot remained swollen (fat, sausage toes--rather ugly). The family doctor that I saw about it suggested creams for the dry cracked skin and diuretics for the swelling. Didn't work.

Before long Lilly had her first birthday (2008) and I suddenly realized the my right foot was still swollen. I saw a doctor who thought that I had damaged my lymph ducts and he made an appointment for me at the Lymph edema clinic. Then, my flight from California was cancelled and I returned home a day late and missed my appointment. The same week I found out I was pregnant again and I never rescheduled at the Lymph edema clinic. For the last few years, I've lived with one fat foot and one skinny foot. It has made buying shoes interesting and I've resorted to wearing boots to church year round. But it has mostly just been a joke and an odd reminder of pregnancy.

Just after this last Christmas, my left foot, ankle and leg got swollen and painful. Desperate to get it fixed, I made an appointment with a podiatrist who sent me (surprise!) to the Lymph edema clinic. I had my first appointment there last Wednesday.

The physical therapist explained (hopefully I can explain it well enough in normal words) that my lymphatic system is operating too sluggishly (possibly because of my sluggish thyroid, but who knows) and that excess fluid is pooling in my feet. As the fluid is retained in my feet it turns fibrous which results in the thickened skin as seen on my right feet.

Treatment: I must have my legs wrapped in bandages 24/7 for several weeks (hopefully just three) until the fluid is pushed out of my feet and legs. Then, I will be able to wear support stockings (seriously feeling like a little old decrepit grandma!) to try to prevent future swelling.

I had my feet wrapped Wednesday, wrapped on Friday and I go again tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be able to master the art of wrapping my own feet so that I don't have to continue to drive up to Salt Lake several times a week.

It's pretty funny, really. I've been wearing Utah Dad's old shoes around. Yesterday, for church, I wore his shoes into the building, stashed them under the coats, and stayed in my stocking feet the rest of the day (much more comfortable than high heels, I must say).

I am hopeful that the treatment will work and that I will have my skinny, ugly feet back soon. I'd sure love to buy some new shoes.

The Memory Palace - Book Review

A couple of months ago a news story about a murdered homeless woman in Salt Lake City caught my eye. The story of the woman, how she had fallen from a successful career, lost her family and eventually became homeless, broke my heart. Can we begin to understand the lives of the people who live in the shelters, parks and on the street corners?

Mira Bartok tells the story of her own mother's descent into homelessness in the newly released memoir The Memory Palace. After her own brain injury caused by a car accident, Mira uses art to build her own "memory palace" and the memories surrounding her life with her mother who suffered from schizophrenia. The series of memories depict the life of a brilliant and artistic but mentally disturbed woman who raised two daughters.

The memories are haunting and painful but also show the ties of familial relationships and love. Even though Mira eventually changes her name and maintains a P.O. Box in a city where she never lived to hide from her violent and needy mother, Mira continues to love her mother and write her letters. Eventually, she will return to her dying mother's bedside. The bond between mother and daughter is so strong that the two women lived somewhat parallel lives during their years apart--the mother studying Hebrew even though she did not know her daughter lived in Israel. Mira's words are constantly laced with love and a deep empathy for her suffering mother.

While with many successful people you can easily point to their good parents as the cause, there are so many who rise in spite of their childhoods. Mira Bartok does this. While her mother instilled in her a great love for art and words (which Mira will use throughout her career), Mira rises to success in spite of the years of neglect and fear.

The Memory Palace is enthralling and beautiful even during the tales of darkness and pain. Bartok spent her career with art and words and puts it together to write this thoughtful and inspiring story of heartbreak and triumph.

I received a free copy of The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok from FreePress. The review is my honest opinion and no additional compensation was received.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

He's One of the Seven Dwarfs

Utah Dad is sick with a cold and before heading to bed last night he took the prescribed dose of night time cold medicine to fight off the snuffly, sneezey, coughing headache. Here's the conversation that took place just a few minutes later.

Utah Dad: I am so tired. I don't think I'm going to be up for the drive tomorrow.
Me: What drive?
Utah Dad: Did I already pack the car?
Me: Where are we going?
Utah Dad: We should take one of the H--- girls with us to help babysit.
Me: Where are we going?
Utah Dad: To Nauvoo.
Me: Then you better go to bed.
Utah Dad: It's so weird that the Serena Sisters have moved into the ward.
Me: Who?
Utah Dad: I mean the Williams Sisters. Serena Williams is insisting that all the children take tennis lessons on Monday night.
Me: Go to sleep. (Laughing)
Utah Dad: I don't think I like the idea of posting all our data on the wall.
Me: What are you talking about?
Utah Dad: R-- and I were just talking about it earlier. They are going to post all of our data on the wall at church. I won't really care but I imagine the women won't want their measurements posted on the wall.
Me: (Laughing)
Utah Dad: Do you think we will have to stay out in the hall with the kids?
Me: Where?
Utah Dad: We've been invited to dine with a couple in London.
Me: We're going to London?
Utah Dad: We're in London. They expect children to be very well behaved. Do you think our kids will be good enough.
Me: Probably not.
Utah Dad: They're good kids. Most of the time. What is meaner the Pit Bull or the English Bull Dog? The Pit Bull, right? If someone was going to spend that much money on the English Bull Dog, they wouldn't want a mean dog. If I put my hand in the window, do you think it will bite me? (Jumps and then is suddenly fast asleep.)
Me: (Laughing so hard, I vow to write down the entire conversation as soon as I wake up in the morning.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jenny Phillips Music CD Give-away Winners

I'm sorry that I'm so slow to post the winners of the Jenny Phillips Music CD "I Know the Scriptures are True". I had to go back up to Salt Lake City this morning to get my feet wrapped again (I'll write more about that later) and this is the first chance I've been able to sit down at the computer. But I know you're all anxious to find out who won, so I won't go on.

The winners are . . .


Congratulations. Please send me an email with your home addresses  so that I can send you your new CD. I hope you and your children and grandchildren will enjoy this beautiful and peaceful music.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Speak - Book Review

My cousin Katie is selling many of her books online to prepare for a move. I was perusing her selection (mostly young adult titles) and saw that she was selling her copy of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It's been on my to-read list for some time now. I clicked the "buy" button and the book was in my mailbox in two days. Pretty dang awesome service for a good price.

I read the award winning, controversial novel over the weekend.

Melinda is a sarcastic, cynical teenager with plenty of attitude (know one?). While Melinda narrates the book and the reader is privy to all her thoughts, Melinda has stopped speaking to everyone else. After she made the phone call to the police that busted up a summer party, her friends have shunned her and everyone else in the high school picks on her or ignores her completely.

Melinda's self-involved parents, a teacher and the counselor make some minor attempts to reach her, but don't dig deep enough to find the cause of her sudden change. Her grades are slipping. She is skipping school. She is withdrawn and sullen and friendless.

This is a dark but witty novel with the from the view of the problem teenager. There is, of course, something more sinister and painful in Melinda's past. As she is able to face the truth about the night of the party, she is able to heal. Speak has some very powerful messages. The writing is pretty simple, really, but is consistent with the 14 year old narrator and also makes the book more accessible to it's younger audience.

While this novel is not for children, I think teenagers and parents should read this novel together and discuss it. The novel is full of difficult topics and themes but they are real and pertinent and can lead to a valuable conversation between parents and their teenagers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jenny Phillips Music - Review and Give-away

In January, our ward switched to the one o'clock church schedule. I'm sure at least a third of the LDS population in Utah can feel my pain. It's just such a rough time. What do you do with the time in the morning?

We tend to sleep in, eat a leisurely breakfast and then spend the rest of the time bathing kids, dressing and styling hair. Do you eat again before church? This is the tough question, because if I let Molly eat again it will mean that I will have to bathe and dress her a second time before we can actually go to church. If I don't let them eat, the kids are tired, grumpy and generally more unpleasant than usual. When we get home from church there is just enough time to eat a quick dinner, read scriptures, pray and go to bed. So much for visiting with extended family on Sunday afternoons.

However, I haven't exactly been happy with this plan. It seems that we are wasting the day and not feeling the spirit much in the house. Yesterday morning, we did some of the one-on-one interviews with the children before church. I also turned on the inspirational music earlier. We usually listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but I had recently received Jenny Phillips's newest CD for Primary children so we listened to that instead.

It is titled "I Know the Scriptures are True" and goes along with the Primary theme for the year 2011. Jenny Phillips is well known in the LDS music industry and continues to produce beautiful and inspirational music. Her music invited peace and the spirit into our home. I was surprised how in tune my children were to the music. In fact, the final song on the CD is "Search, Ponder and Pray" which the kids have been learning during Primary. Thomas and Lilly both did the sign language that they could remember and sung along with the music.

"I Know the Scriptures are True" by Jenny Phillips is really a valuable asset in our home and can be in yours too. Jenny Phillips will no longer sell her music in stores. She wants to spend more time with her children, so while she will continue to produce music, it will only be available from her website. This change, while it will hopefully benefit her family will also help yours. Her music will now be offered at significantly lower prices. Jenny Phillips wanted to make this CD available to as many Primary children as possible, so it is also available in packs of 20, for just $1.99 each.

Jenny Phillips has also, very generously, made two copies of
"I Know the Scriptures are True" available for a
give-away to two of my lucky readers.

Two readers will be chosen randomly from the comments left on this post. The rules are simple.

1. Become a follower of Utah Mom's Life Blog, if you're not already one.
2. Leave a comment on this post telling me that you . . .
3. "Like" Jenny Phillips Music on Facebook.

The contest will be open until Thursday, January 27th at 11:59 pm MST. The winners will be announced on Friday morning. This contest is available to US residents only.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Peyton Place - Book Review

One weekend in college I wanted to get away from all the stress and went to my spend time with my grandma. My grandfather had recently died and she was lonely. That Friday night we went to the video rental store to pick out a movie. My grandma called me over and pointed to a video on the shelf. Have you ever seen it? She whispered, her tone secretive and embarrassed. No, I hadn't. She went on. The movie had caused quite a stir when it was released in 1967. She hadn't seen it but she wanted to. I was game. It was rated PG, after all. How bad could it be?

We went back to my grandma's apartment and watched "The Graduate".

I felt that same guilty secretive feeling about reading Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. I even contemplated removing the jacket while I was reading it in the orthodontist's waiting room, at Jiffy Lube, and at the podiatrist's. But I didn't. It is 2011, after all.

Grace Metalious was a thirty-something house wife living in New Hampshire when she wrote and published her novel about a small town in New Hampshire in 1956. The novel sold over 60,000 copies in two weeks; rocketed to the New York Times Best Seller List where it would remain for over a year and shocked a nation. As in, really shocked everyone. It was banned in several states and countries.

Peyton Place dares to expose the secrets that people keep hidden behind the closed curtains and locked doors of their homes (or perhaps even more hidden behind the open curtains and unlocked doors, as one character in the novel believes). Broaching taboo subjects such as incest, spousal abuse, adultery, abortion, murder and suicide (pretty much covers everything), this book went well beyond the social norms of the 1950's.

I don't believe that "closet skeletons" are exclusive to small towns. But having grown up in a small town, I think it's simply more difficult to keep the skeleton in the closet. Everyone knows everyone. You see each other at the grocery store, church and school. And yet, even in a small town people keep their darkest secrets.

Metalious simply exposed some of these hideous secrets.

The novel follows the lives of two teen aged girls, one from the "shacks" and one from the right side of town, as they go through high school and into young adulthood during the late 1930's and into World War II.

Peyton Place inspired a new genre of literature and we are regularly bombarded with the tough and unpleasant themes discussed in this book, but I have to admit that I was still shocked by Peyton Place in 2011. Metalious was certainly not the first to write about sex, but she writes of sex in a base and carnal way, especially unique to a woman author.

I found the story interesting and several of the themes are universal and still relevant fifty some years later (I've made a list of topics to discuss with my former roommates who are also reading it this month). The plot is well formed. The characters are so believable you would think Metalious was writing from her own experience (perhaps she was). However, I still found the detailed sex scenes just too much--way too much.

Kolob Canyon - Out and About in Utah

On our quick road trip to St. George yesterday we took a side-trip to Kolob Canyons which is a small part of Zions National Park. The scenic drive to Kolob Canyons is just off I-15 and only takes a few minutes, if you're just driving through. You'll want to stay longer when you see the incredible beauty of this area. If you have time, there are also hiking trails.

An Inspiring Life

Utah Dad found out on Thursday that his friend and mentor, Brother Rust, from New Jersey had died and the funeral would be held in St. George on Saturday. Utah Dad insisted that he had to attend the funeral and we set about figuring out the best way for him to do that.

Neal's 5th grade class was doing a patriotic presentation Friday night that we did not want to miss. There is something amazing and even spiritual about watching thirty-some fifth graders recite from memory sections of the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution. The teacher has done a fabulous job of inspiring another patriotic generation. But I digress . . .

Once Utah Dad decided to leave home at four am on Saturday morning and drive to St. George to be there for the viewing and funeral by nine am, I insisted on going along to help keep him awake. We invited Neal to come with us and hired one of our favorite baby sitters to stay with the other four kids. Hey, I like a road trip--especially one without little kids and I could get in some reading.

I didn't actually get to read. It was, of course, dark all the way to St. George. Utah Dad took advantage of the 80 mph test areas on I-15, the traffic was very light and we got to St. George in slightly less than four hours.

We stopped at the St. George temple first. We haven't been to St. George since Neal was a toddler. We walked around the grounds of the temple. The temple is so beautiful and stark white against the red landscape.

We joined Utah Dad's brother at the viewing and funeral. Utah Dad's family knew the Rust family when they lived in New Jersey during Utah Dad's six elementary school years. The families developed a deep and enduring friendship. It was renewed when they moved back to New Jersey again for a year and a half while Utah Dad was in high school. Brother and Sister Rust frequently cared for and fed Utah Dad when he was ironically called back to New Jersey to serve his mission.

Brother and Sister Rust raised ten children, several of them were Utah Dad's good friends. I've only met two of the ten children previously, but I've heard so many stories about the goodness and kindness of this family, that I was delighted to finally meet them all yesterday.

The funeral was a beautiful tribute to an amazing man. I never met him but after spending a few hours with his family yesterday, I feel as if I knew him. His ten children are a tribute to the greatness of their parents. They are all well educated and were instilled early with the strong value of learning and knowledge. The parents also had a strong set of moral values and rules for their children. They definitely weren't push-over parents. Their children are active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Seven served missions for the church. They have their own lovely families and gave their parents 31 grandchildren. They are unassuming. They are kind and generous. They are cheerful and warm and gracious. They love music and are very talented. They are not arrogant nor do they lack sincerity. Clearly, Brother Rust lived a long (he was 85) and successful life.

I was so grateful that I was able to join Utah Dad and meet his friends while they celebrated the mortal life of their father. I was truly inspired by the love this family has for each other.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Straighten Up

If you were to ask me one thing I really like about my body, I wouldn't hesitate a second before answering--my teeth. Not necessarily my smile (I still haven't mastered that casual, real smile for pictures). But I really like my teeth. I might like them so much now because I hated them for years.

My pearly little baby teeth fell out and were replaced by gigantic, boxy permanent teeth that came in every direction possible but straight. My canine teeth didn't even come in at all but were compacted on the roof of my mouth. I was a teenager before I could go to the orthodontist and I am grateful for every long moment that I wore braces (even though it was literally all four years of high school). Our orthodontist was three hours from home and I still remember fondly the day trips with my family for our appointments each month.

Ironically, when my ten-year high school reunion came around (didn't actually go), I had braces again. My teeth had shifted (serious panic) and my kind orthodontist insisted that I come back in for more work.

Now, after years of work, I really love my teeth.

I knew the minute that I thought of having children (Utah Dad required extensive work on his teeth too--so his genes aren't especially helpful either), that some day I would be hauling the kids to the orthodontist. That day has arrived.

Neal got braces yesterday. He started "Phase One" of the process. Hopefully, with work, some of the early problems can be corrected and future problems can be avoided to some extent. In every way, Neal is like Utah Dad's side of the family. So, how did he get my teeth?

Neal was pretty nervous about it but he looks so cute.

I'm grateful for some good insurance (an oxymoron, I know) that will pay half and for some extra money in the flex plan that payed for the other half (we had a healthy year). I'll just have to wait for Lasik. I'm excited and anxious to see my little boy's smile again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Productivity Levels

Most nights I am so exhausted by the time I set my book on the night stand and turn off the lamp that I fall asleep within minutes. However, occasionally I have nights where I just can't fall asleep and I lay in bed listening to Utah Dad snore and thinking about all the little things that I need to do. Most of these things can't really be accomplished in the middle of the night so it's useless worrying about them, but I do. Then, come morning, in the rush of getting everyone ready for school, doing dishes and laundry, keeping the children from destroying things and hurting each other, doing science fair projects, overseeing chores, piano practice and homework, I forget the list of superfluous things that need to be done.

Yesterday, however, was one of those remarkably productive days. 

I've always been a list person. Before I had children and I worked in various offices, I always started each morning with a neat and comprehensive list of things to do. I put everything on the list and it had neat little check boxes that I could use to mark off each thing as it was finished. I saved all my lists and could easily find out when and if a task had been successfully completed.

I made myself a list yesterday morning. It still had neat little check boxes but it was written on cute Mary Engelbright stationary instead of a legal note pad.

One by one, I checked the boxes off the list.

  • Order a birth certificate for Thomas so that I can register him for kindergarten next year. Check.
  • Pay for Neal's orthodontist work and fill out the reimbursement forms for the Flex Account. Check.
  • Make an appointment with the Lymph edema clinic for my fat feet. Half check. (waiting to hear back)
  • Schedule Parent/Teacher Conferences for the kids. Check.
Etc. Etc. Check. Check.

I exercised and cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom. I even made that Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca for dinner last night. We added artichoke hearts and capers. It was delicious.

It's a good thing I got so much accomplished yesterday because this morning I woke up with a serious sinus headache and the unpleasant early symptoms of a head cold. I don't anticipate doing much more than reading to the kids and laying on the couch today.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Musical Memories

I was driving by myself yesterday and was changing radio stations when I heard "Hotel California". Utah Dad hates that song and always changes the station. Since I was alone I left it there and was surprised by the memories recalled.

I couldn't help but remember Steve (I think that was his name). I met him while I was working at the Cougareat. He and his brother came through my line and they were wearing wrist bands for the Eagles concert. His brother dropped his taco salad on the floor and had to come back for another one.

I ran into Steve a few weeks later at a dance. Then he called to ask me out. He took me to the Haunted Forest. He ended up marrying the girl from the other half of the double date. Ya, that's how well that date went.

Isn't it funny that I think of him when I hear that song? It made me laugh.

Over our years together, Utah Dad has pretty much swallowed up most music. He owns the memories associated with everything from Enya to Pink Floyd. Rightfully so. Even so, I can't hear Ace of Base or Bonnie Raitt without remembering my roommate Mandi dancing on the table in our dorm room. Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" will always remind me of the slumber parties we had at my friend Ashley's house when we were twelve. Ahhh. Good memories.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tuck Everlasting - Book Review

My friend chose Tuck Everlasting  by Natalie Babbitt for our book club read this month. Is it strange that I've never read the book or watched the movie before? I've seen it in the Scholastic book orders over the years and have always planned to buy it someday.

I read the first two chapters out loud to the kids while we were in the car. The other night when we were driving to Utah Dad's parents' house, I asked if they wanted me to read it out loud and they all emphatically said "no". So, I read it by myself this weekend.

I really enjoyed the story of Winnie Foster, an eleven-year old girl, who runs away into the woods near her home only to discover a handsome young man drinking from a hidden spring. Suddenly, she is a kidnap victim and the family that has taken her shares their curious secret--one of eternal life.

The story brings up several interesting points about life and living and I think it will be fun to discuss it with my book club. Here are just a few questions to think about: Would you want to live forever? If you had to live forever, which age would you want to be? (There is a part of me that would love to have my Molly drink from that spring. She's at the cutest stage right now and growing up much too quickly.) Did the Tucks take advantage of the gift/curse? Why didn't Miles give his wife water from the spring?

I watched the movie this morning (thanks to Netflix Streaming) and I appreciated several of the additions. In the movie, Winnie Foster is older and has a romance with Jesse Tuck. The love element adds a bit more suspense to the ultimate question of whether or not Winnie will choose eternal life and live forever with Jesse. The movie is much more dramatic than the book but also good and I think my kids will actually like it (well, Amberly will, at least).

Spending Freeze

Thank you to TurboTax for sponsoring my writing about household finances.Learn more about how TurboTax can help you find every tax deduction you deserve. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.
I generally stick to a pretty strict budget. After all, my husband works in the field of education where the rewards are rarely monetary. However, during the holidays we spent a little more than normal on food and gas. We enjoyed some really delicious food (our Christmas Eve rib roast was perfectly medium rare--I did buy it on sale) and we traveled much more than usual to visit our loved ones. We wouldn't change a thing about our holiday celebrations but now, in January, our waistlines and our finances are recovering.
To help with the budget recovery and to rotate the food storage, we decided not to buy anything at the grocery store except for milk, eggs and bread (I don't bake bread) for two weeks. I did buy fresh fruits and vegetables from Bountiful Baskets. Essentially, we had a major spending freeze.
It wasn't as horrible as it sounds. My pantry and freezer are well stocked. I even had several things of cream cheese in the fridge (as if I could cook without it). We enjoyed meals like chicken enchiladas, chili and corn bread, pork chops and roasted potatoes, and homemade pizza. We did have a few nights where we ate meals like tuna fish sandwiches and soup.
Even though it wasn't that bad, I am glad to be back on track with my budget and I'm ready to head back to the grocery store and we're all excited to try some new meals. In fact, this week I cannot wait to make the Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca recipe from the Cooking Light magazine that just arrived in my mailbox.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Lake of Dreams - Book Review

I was especially excited to win an ARC of Kim Edward's newest book The Lake of Dreams from because I read and loved The Memory Keeper's Daughter several years ago. I thought it was funny that one of the characters in The Lake of Dreams is reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter.

The Lake of Dreams is the story of Lucy Jarrett who returns to her hometown for a vacation after several years of working abroad, most recently Japan. While visiting her mother in the lake house where she grew up, Lucy discovers some old papers hidden in the cupboard. Fascinated by details of an old letter to her great-grandfather and the mention of family names she has never heard, Lucy studies her own family history to uncover the buried secrets--some a hundred years old and others much more recent.

Edward's writing style is detailed and engaging. She especially excels at describing locations. The Japanese village and the town beside the lake are so carefully described, I felt as if I were literally experiencing the earthquakes in Japan or a canoe ride across the lake. I enjoyed the descriptions of the stained glass windows and especially the images of Keegan's glass shop.

I found the hunt for information about Lucy's ancestors interesting--especially the history of Women's Suffrage. The story of Rose, Lucy's long lost great-great aunt, is more fascinating than Lucy's story. I wish the story had just been told from Rose's perspective. I would have liked to understand her character better. 

While I did enjoy the novel, I didn't fall in love with it. Honestly, I'm having trouble figuring out why I just didn't feel that moved by the book. I never had that urgent desire to stay up all night and finish. It did seem to  move along rather slowly. Also, I lacked a connection with Lucy. I was bothered that she could just sweep into town for a few weeks, demand that everyone align their orbits around her, cause major upheaval in her family and friend's lives and then leave again--changed and apparently healed. The ending felt contrived and too convenient.

Essentially, I didn't think The Lake of Dreams lived up to Edward's earlier and beautiful family tale - The Memory Keeper's Daughter.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Winner of the Impel Clothing Give-away

I have to say that I really love mornings (I don't love mornings, generally) when I get to wake up and pick a winner for a give-away. It's just so fun to put the number into the Random Number Generator, get a number and figure out just who gets the prize. Are you excited to find out who won the Impel Clothing Give-away?

OK. Without further adieu . . . The winner of the $20 gift certificate to Impel Clothing is . . . (one of my most loyal followers, and fellow book addict--read about her reading and writing adventures **here**)


Congratulations! Annika, drop me an email with your info.

And be sure to check out Impel Clothing. I can tell you, that I will definitely be shopping there soon.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The American Patriot's Almanac - Book Review

Every American family should have a copy of The American Patriot's Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb in their home. I was excited to get a free copy from Book Sneeze a few months ago and I've been meaning to write about it ever since.

The book is arranged by date through the year and tells of important and interesting historical details that occurred on each day. For example, on January 11th Alexander Hamilton was born. He was an orphan born in the Caribbean Islands and the exact year is not known--either 1755 or 1757. The page continues to give a quick glimpse of Hamilton's life and his contributions to America, including being an aide-de-camp to George Washington during the Revolutionary War, helping to persuade Americans to accept the constitution and writing the Federalist Papers with James Madison and John Jay.

Also on this day in 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument .

This book is a treasure trove of valuable information for all Americans. Besides the historical data from each day, it also includes the history of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These documents, the Bill of Rights and Amendments to the US Constitution are included in their entirety. You can also find the Gettysburg Address, The Emancipation Proclamation and The Pledge of Allegiance. Songs, poems and prayers for the American People are included as well. A section at the back of the book lists each of the fifty states, their flag and other important information.

While Utah Dad and I have much of this additional information in other books in our library, it is especially nice to have it all combined so conveniently and beautifully in one volume. My children have enjoyed looking up the events that occurred on their birthdays.

The American Patriot's Almanac is definitely a book to add to your library. It is a rich and valuable source for every family.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Impel Clothing - Review and GIVE-AWAY!!

It is a good day for the modest woman.
I remember how hard it was when I first got married to find modest and cute fashionable clothes. But now there are several boutiques and clothing stores that specialize in modest clothing. It just makes me so happy.

Impel Clothing is another line of modest clothing for women.

Choices. Ladies. We now have choices.

Impel Clothing was generous to send me a shirt last week to try out and I've been busy making a list of wants from their website. The shirt they sent was a brown v-neck t-shirt meant for modest layering purposes. I love v-neck t-shirts but have a hard time finding a v-neck that isn't too deep. This shirt is perfect. It is a great color to go with my wardrobe and the material is strong and has a nice stretch. It's also soft and feels a bit satiny. I was really pleased.

 I'm including pictures of a few more of my favorite pieces from their collection:

Go check out the Impel Clothing Website, pick out your favorite item and then come back here to enter to win a
$20 gift certificate to Impel Clothing.

Here are the rules:

1. You must be a follower of Utah Mom's Life Blog. If you're not already a follower, become one.
2. Leave a comment on this post telling me about your favorite item from Impel Clothing.
3. For extra chances to win, post about this give-away on Facebook or your own blog. Leave another comment to tell me what you did to spread the word.

This contest is open to entries until Thursday, January 13th at 11:59 p.m. MST. The winner will be announced on Friday, January 14th. US only.

Good luck!

The Utah Flash - Out and About in Utah

My sister-in-law invited our family to join theirs at the Utah Flash Basketball game last Friday night. We loaded up all the kids and headed to the game. The kids were excited to see their cousins. The adults found our seats while the older kids went to play in the bounce house located on the floor of the arena.

We weren't sure what to expect from the minor league basketball team but we really had a good time. While it certainly wasn't as fantastic as attending a Jazz game; the players hustled, the side-show entertainment was fun and the atmosphere was definitely family friendly. The Flash Fox mascot is quite a character and did some fun stunts. The dancers were cute and energetic.

Molly especially enjoyed the game. She sat at the edge of her seat, swinging her legs to the beat of the music, chewing on Red Vines and riveted by the game.

I think we would have enjoyed the game even more if we were already familiar with the players and had more team spirit. It took the kids a few minutes to realize that we were cheering for the team dressed in black, not green.

The kids were too tired to last the entire game, however, so we all headed home before the final quarter. Everyone agreed that the experience was fun and we'll probably be attending another game soon.

You can check out ticket prices (which are quite reasonable for an entire family) and the team's schedule at the Utah Flash official web page.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Endurance - Book Review

It's been so cold outstide. Yesterday morning when I left the house at ten it was 1 degree outside. There is a crusty snow covering everything and that biting chill in the air. So, of course, it's the perfect weather to read about Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to Antartica and simultaneously feel grateful for my warm home and cozy bed.

My friend Jen gave me a copy of Endurance : Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing for Christmas. Obviously, my friends know me. When there are true stories this amazing, who needs fiction?

Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team of explorers planned and hoped to cross Antarctica. They set off on their ship from the island of South Georgia on December 5, 1914 and by January their ship was stuck fast in the ice of Weddell Sea. The men weathered the coming winter on their ship until it was crushed by the ice and had to be abandoned that October. Their survival is truly super human and simply amazing.

I was most impressed by the general morale of the group of men, their continual respect for their leader and the willingness to follow his lead in this long period of miserable conditions and peril.

I watched a movie with Utah Dad last night and it was late before I got to bed but I felt it absolutely necessary to finish this book before I could sleep. I just had to get those poor men rescued and safe. With little help from Mother Nature, who seemed most determined to destroy this band of explorers, the men were finally saved on August 30, 1916. That is a long time to be constantly cold, wet and hungry.

Lansing had access to the diaries of the men and frequently interviewed one of the survivors (the book was written in 1959) so that he could write this accurate and exciting account of this most incredible adventure.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cinch! Update

Day One:

I wrote out my grocery shopping list. For two people (Utah Dad and I intended to do the Cinch! plan together) I needed to buy 20 bags of frozen raspberries, among other things. I looked at the complete list and balked. Because I'm cheap, you know.

After the holidays, with our steep increase in gas (drove all over tar nation and back) and food, my budget needs to go on a diet worse than I do.

I have and can lose weight without spending much money. So, I hopped on the elliptical; Utah Dad headed out for a walk with the dog and I ordered a basket of produce from Bountiful Baskets. I'm sure I won't lose the Cinch! promised seven pounds in five days but that's OK too. And as long as the Relief Society doesn't continue to have incredible treats, I'll be fine.

If you want to follow the progress of someone actually doing the Cinch! diet you can read my friend Catey's blog : Random Thoughts from the Zoo.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cinch! by Cynthia Sass - Book Review

If you haven't already heard of the newest diet book Cinch! by Cynthia Sass, you haven't spent much time online lately. The buzz is every where. Of course, it's the perfect time of year to release a diet book--at the new year and just after the gluttonous holidays. I received the book from One2One Network several weeks ago and I read it right away.

 I must admit, that while I'd love to get rid of the extra weight still hanging on my tummy, thighs and butt after my pregnancy with Molly (so sad that's she's nearly 21 months old now), I'm not a big one for diets. I've never actually read a diet book before.

My goal for the holidays was not to gain any weight. I was doing quite well until Christmas Day. However, in spite of all the fabulous celebrations and visits with friends, I only gained two pounds.

Now, it's the new year. The kids have gone back to school this morning. I'm washing laundry and dishes. Other than heading to  the grocery store, I don't intend to leave my house for much of anything during the entire month of January.

It's also the time of year to get serious about my goals. With that in mind, Utah Dad and I have decided to try out Cynthia Sass's diet plan in her newest book Cinch! Her diet makes sense to me, so as soon as I go to the grocery store armed with Sass's shopping list, Utah Dad and I will be starting with her 5-day, 5-Food Fast Forward Diet. I'll let you know how it goes (unless, of course, I fail and then I just might keep it to myself). Wish me luck.

By posting this review of Cinch!, I am entered to win one of five gift cards.
While I received the book free from One2One Network, the opinions and views expressed are my own.