Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Couple Videos of the Older Girls

Gigi is in maroon almost on the end.  What cracks me up about this video is her and the two girls beside her are all within just a few months of age and they are so different in height.  They also happen to both be the daughters of cops.  What can I say, we live in a cop neighborhood!

Tacos de Lengua

This year Cinco de Mayo sort of snuck up on me.  I'd planning on doing a party, not because I feel any special affinity for Cinco de Mayo but more just I like to take any excuse I can to eat Mexican food.  My party plans kind of fell by the way as winter dragged on and I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to cook for other people, and so before you knew it May 5th was here and I had nothing exciting planned for dinner.  It was as I was pulling steak out to defrost that I realized I had a tongue in my freezer.  Last year when we had the cow slaughtered the butcher asked if we wanted any of the extra bits.  At first I said no but then as sort of a joke I asked for the tongue.  When Dr. J and I first got married we went to this taco stand where he ordered tongue tacos.  He told me they were delicious.  I absolutely refused to try them.  But for some reason I decided it would be kind of fun to try and make them.  So that's what I did.  I read about six ways to prepare tongue as ours was defrosting in the microwave, most of them involved cooking it all day on the stove or the crook pot.  I just did not have that kind of time.  I decided to use my pressure cooker but as I pulled the tongue out of the microwave I almost lost it and started gagging.  I thought, "There is no way I can do this."  I took a moment to compose myself and sort of lobbed it into the pressure cooker.  It took about forty minutes and then I pulled it out.  The next step was to remove the black spotted skin covering.  You have to pull it off while the meat is still hot.  The kids thought this part was the best.  They kept running over and touching the rough bumps, then running away screaming.  Next I chopped it up to saute it.  Chopping it small and sauteing it is suppose to help disguise the rubbery feel it has, because hey guess what, it is a tongue.  Then I threw the meat on some corn tortillas with Spanish rice and black beans.  Dr. J loved them.  I even tried one, and I have to say the meat had really great flavor (even better than the steak) and  was exceptionally soft but there was also this chewy texture that I just couldn't get over so in the end regardless of how delicious they were, I could only eat one.  Definitely interesting and it did make the holiday memorable.  The kids refused to eat any tongue and stuck with steak instead, but they did have a good time drinking the mango, pineapple, and orange smoothie I made.  Hello delicious!  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stuff You Need When You Own a House

The first year of our marriage Dr. J and I lived in a 300 sq foot basement studio apartment.  We did not need much.  The second year we lived in a 500 sq foot 3rd story barely not a studio apartment.  We still didn't need a whole lot.  Then we spent 7 years in a two and then a three bedroom townhouse where almost all of our maintenance and yard work was done by the corporation.  We had a small shed to hold our bikes, a weed whacker, and a shovel but most of the work was done for us.  Since moving to our own home I've been amazed by the amount of stuff we've acquired.

Garbage Can- I bought this on our first full day in the house.  Some cities provide them but not so with our city.  Some of my neighbors just bring out bags of garbage to the curve on garbage day.  The idea of bags just sitting in my garage waiting all week to be taken out seriously grosses me out.  So garbage can it is.
Ladder- We ended up with two.  One is this handy little stepping stool that only weighs 9lbs.  I used it to hand Christmas lights, the curtains, to clean off the ceiling fans.  The other is 16 or so feet long.  Dr. J uses it to climb up on the roof, to clean gutters, and to paint the top of the play house.
Lawn Mower- I'm particularly proud of this purchase this week because for the first time pretty much in my entire life I mowed our lawn this weekend.  I did a horrible job.  I mean really but when you consider I didn't read the manual and I basically was just going on some memories of what I think I'd seen Dr. J do the fact that I got the thing started, put new gas in when it needed it, and got most of the grass to the same length is a pretty good accomplishment.
Weed Whacker- So we actually bought this in our town house to weed whack down weeds around our back patio.  I got it for $25 at a garage sale and it has lasted us probably four years.  Then of course this week I was doing the weed whacking.  Now we will be purchasing a new one.  In my defense the destruction of the weed whacker was a two person process.  I broke the plastic string off (could have happened to anyone right?) and then because Dr. J couldn't get the nub out with pliers he took the head off and lost a piece.  Who does machine maintenance over the grass?   Oh well.  He has been wanting a gas powered one for years.  I think it is probably stinky and heavier....hello who knew the weed whacker was going to be so heavy, but it is what the man wants, so knew weed whacker here we come.
Shovel- We actually own three different kinds.
Edger- Turns out grass is amazingly adept at trying to grow up onto concrete.
Rake- a metal one and big plastic one.
Wheelbarrow- Makes moving piles of dirt, sand, rocks when doing landscaping projects so much easier.
Hedge clippers- I used these yesterday to trim some bushes we have out font.  Please forgive me bushes.
Branch Trimmers - Two pairs.  One is small for things like rose bushes.  One has huge handles for things like three branches.
Stand up tiller- to break up dirt clogs.
Miter saw- to cut trim.
Painting paraphernalia- Brushes, sponges, tape, spray paint.  I swear we are always painting something here.  I kept the huge boxes from our patio set to keep in the garage as my painting corner.  It folds up nice and flat and then every time I have to paint something I just pull one side down to cover the garage floor.
Sander- can't do wood projects without one.

Things we would have had to buy had we not already had them.
Drill- Because sometimes a screw driver just isn't powerful enough.
Screw Drivers- Because pretty much every piece of furniture we own has had to be put together with one.
Level- makes projects so much easier.
Circular Saw, hand saw, jig saw, hammer, nails.
Hammers- like ten different kinds.
Wrench Set
Odds and ends hanging set- I bought this at Walmart a few years ago and it has been the best.  I had all types of washers, screws, hangers, anchors, and nails in it.  Whenever we have a project we check their first to see if it has what we need.  50% of the time it does.

Things I wish we owed but we don't have.
Electric Hedgers
Electric Edger
Table Saw
Nail Gun
Staple Gun
Paint Sprayer

So pretty much now I don't know how we'd ever go back to a tiny places again.  Forget the fact that we are a family of six, where would we ever fit all our lawn gear.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Mother's Day Beef

After my post yesterday it may have seemed like I'm a 100% fan of Mother's Day, but there is one thing about it that I have always found annoying.  I have a beef with the way my church celebrates Mother's Day and since Mother's Day is always on a Sunday pretty much every year I have a beef with the way it celebrates Mother's Day.  Each ward is given the ability to choose it's own way but in general every Mother's Day but one that I can remember went like this.  Three speakers spoke about their mothers.  It was fine.  The primary kids sing.  It is adorable.  All the women are asked to stand and then the young men bring around some type of flower, occasionally accompanied with a book, pamphlet, or card about mothers and one time a chocolate bar. Then they say thanks and we all go to our classes and work our buns off chasing around toddlers, refereeing six years olds, teaching lessons, and leading songs.  Most often the flower don't even make it to the third hour.  Our kids take them.  They pull the petals.  They hit each other with them.  They start to wilt because they don't have water.  If by chance they make it home they look lonely, a single stem in a vase.  It is a yearly reminder to me that men and women do not speak the same language.  One year my friend Jessica was the Relief Society President and I was the Primary President and we pushed for something different.  That year the men in our ward came in and took over the primary and nursery for the last fifteen minutes of church.  We had some snacks and we got to stand and chat.  This is what 90% of women want.  A moment to socialize and some choice when it comes to what we are going to eat.  My ideal Mother's Day, if it can't be what they did in my grandmother in laws ward where they let everyone go after the first hour (hello two extra hours of time with your family) but if it can't be that my ideal is that the men of my ward take over the third hour of church.  They come in and take care of nursery and primary (our young people's Sunday school which is primarily staffed by woman).  All the sisters in our ward get together.  We have a short relief society lesson and then we end 15-20 minutes early so that we can all socialize, something that a large portion of the sisters don't normally do because we are in young woman's and primary.  We have some food to snack on, some fruits, a cheese platter, good stuff but not necessarily desert heavy.  Doesn't that seem heavenly?  Well it does to me.  I'm sure there are a few sisters who prefer the flowers but I think in general many of us just would appreciate the chance to talk with one another.  To me this would be perfection.  It makes me wonder if the men in my ward don't like how we do Father's Day, a bag full of cookies?  I don't know gentlemen.  What would you like?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mother's Day

Monday I had a good mom moment.  Peach had dance pictures after school.  She had individuals at five and group shots at 5:45.  I knew it was going to be a challenge.  The olders don't get home until 4:10 and the photography studio was a half hour away.  I started prepping at 3:00.  I gathered up a ton of hair products.  The thing with dance is that hair needs to be up away from your face.  I just started being able to put Peach's hair in a pony this last month, but it is a pony with tons of fly aways.  I packed a brush, a large tooth comb, a small tooth comb, five pony tails, a handful of bobby pins, leave in conditioner, gel, and hair spray.  I knew the kids were going to be hungry so I cooked up some cheese crisp and I sliced apples.  I got Peach and Cheetah in the car.  The olders go home, "Go potty, get a drink and head to the car I told them."  We pulled into the photography studio with five minutes to spare.  Cheetah and Peach had fallen asleep but I had my mountain buggy and loaded it up with two sleeping kids, an ipad, an itouch, some apple slices and all the hair products.  We walked into the studio and meet Peach's teacher who had her costume.  Within five minutes I had Peach awake, in costume and with hair done.  It was worth it when she looked at herself.  "I'm a princess."  Yes darling you are.  She had her individuals taken and then we had thirty minutes to wait until the rest of her group was there to take her dance group picture.  The kids were amazing and it was such a relief. I was one mom with four kids.  Only one other mom had two kids to watch and more than one group was two parents to one kid.  It was a recipe for disaster but I had come prepared and my kids were having a good moment and they shone.  Thank you children for helping mom not look like a crazy woman :)

It was a good way to cap Mother's Day from the Sunday before.  I know some people feel guilty on Mother's Day because you get stuck listening to all these great stories about great mothers.  I don't feel guilty when I hear people brag their mom's up on Mother's Day, because if you can't do that as a child then you aren't worth your salt, but I do feel guilty pretty much every other day of the year because I know I could be a better mother and where maybe I wouldn't feel guilt over not putting in 100% on doing laundry or my homework, when I think about the fact that my product is my children I do feel bad when I don't give them my best.  Luckily for me my kids aren't perfect and they don't expect perfection from me either.  So we just keep limping along doing the best we can and luckily we have love to cover up our imperfections.  This year I got a million cards for my special day.  Gigi alone had made five.  They were queenly aware of the day and tried their very best to make it a good one for me, well except Peach who got lost at church.  But even that tied in well.

I was in Young Woman's listening to the lesson when three of the woman from Primary came in to tell me that Peach had gotten lost on the way from the bathroom to the primary room.  They said they'd look everywhere and they couldn't find her.  They told me they'd already told Dr. J.  It sent me into panic mode.  I walked into the bathroom and started praying.  Then I walked to the back of the building.  I looked out of the parking lot.  No sign of her anywhere.  I walked to the other side of the building.  Still nothing.  My friend was rounding the building on the other side and started looking out on the main rode.  I turned back to the building.  I walked in the front door and looked at a classroom on the left side of me.  The door was slowly swinging.  I thought, "I wonder if Erin just looked in that room."  Then I pushed the door open.  It hit resistance.  I looked around the corner and saw my three years old curled up on the floor.  "Peach!" I yelled out as I scooped her into my arms.  I walked out the church doors to tell my friends on the road that I had her.  I walked back in and saw Dr. J.  We squeezed her in a big long hug.  I had a little cry.  Being a mother can be exhausting but my children are my heart and with their birth I became so much more vulnerable then I ever believed possible.  She was never in any real danger but the feeling I had when I thought she was.  It was indescribable.  It was a good reminder to me of how much I value my role in their lives.

After church we went to the park where we played on two separate playground and took a walk in the woods.  It was sunny but their was a cool breeze.  We had a great time.  Then we came home and made steaks in a group project for dinner and while eating strawberry ice cream Facetimed our moms :)  One thing I didn't do...Laundry :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

This Marriage - 11 Years In The Making

April 26th, 2002 Dr. J and I were married.  I celebrated our anniversary with a little pampering.  My mops group was having their spa day and I had my eyebrows waxed and my fingernails painted.  We had a nice dinner with the kids, steak, potatoes, and artichoke...this is my go to fancy meal, especially considering we still have 20lbs of steak and roast in our freezer.  I made a birthday cake and after dinner we lit that baby up with a number five candle and six individual candles.  The kids loved it...I mean who doesn't love birthday cake.  We celebrated with flowers.  I brought in tulips from our yard that I planted last year in celebration of our tenth anniversary...120 bulbs that came up this year in overwhelming beauty.  Dr. J brought two dozen roses, the bouquet he tried to buy me the morning we got married but as he walked the streets of the small town of Manti we were married in there wasn't a store open.  They day after we got a babysitter and went to Benihanas.  This restaurant has been a joke between us for year.  Back in the high school days Dr. J was in a prom date group that went to Benihana.  He mentioned it once when we were first married and I asked him why we'd never gone.  "Because that place is expensive," he told me.  Since that day I will occasionally tease, "Oh cheap enough for Prom, but too expensive for you wife."  The truth is though we haven't lived by a Benihanas for years.  Then recently Dr. J drove past one.  He came home and told me we were going.  We made a reservation, which thanks to the pinewood derby we had to push back an hour, but we luckily were able to rearrange and just made it in time.  We were at a table with one very frazzled mom, two ten year olds, and three thirteen years olds celebrating a birthday.  It was fun.  The girls were friendly and bubbly.  The chef was nice.  I realize it is a canned show, but it was super fun and the food was delicious.  It was eight when we got there and I was famished.  I scarfed the soup and salad.  I scarfed the shrimp appetizers and veggies.  The bowl of fried rice got to me and I ate the whole thing in ten bites.  Then the fullness hit me.  By the time the main course got to me I was stuffed.  I couldn't eat a single bite.  Luckily it kept well and the next day I just made some fried rice and feed the whole family dinner on that and our left overs.  Then they brought out sherbet and made us stand and dance.  We sung to the girl whose birthday it was.  We laughed. Dr. J only looked at his phone once.  Overall it was a great date.  In the end we said goodbye to our new friends wishing them a happy birthday.  The girls responded with a "happy anniversary" and as we walked out of the restaurant they yelled out, "Don't cheat on her."  Sound advice girls, sound advice.

I wish I had a before of my eyebrows.  They were so crazy.  I hadn't waxed or plucked them in probably three months and they were CRAZY!  I'm not much of a finger paint girl.  It starts to drive me crazy after a bit, like my fingers are that weird?  But it is fun to do every once in awhile.  

Gigi and Peach look very bored with the cake but rest assured they were ecstatic   

I love having flowers all over my yard.

My main struggle in life, keeping this tiny tot off of things.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Some Thoughts On Dying

A college roommate of mine who happens to be an ER physician posted this article on her Facebook feed today, "Our unrealistic attitudes about death, through a doctor's eyes" an editorial piece by Craig Bowron.  My favorite line of the article:

"Opting to try all forms of medical treatment and procedures to assuage this guilt is also emotional life insurance: When their loved one does die, family members can tell themselves, “We did everything we could for Mom.” In my experience, this is a stronger inclination than the equally valid (and perhaps more honest) admission that “we sure put Dad through the wringer those last few months.”

It made me think back on my own experiences with death.  I've had two grandmothers who had the privileged of picking the manner of their own death.  You might think privilege is a poor word choice but bear with me for a few paragraphs.  The first was my Nana Flo, who was my favorite of all my grandparents.  Is that even ok to say?  Well she was.  I always felt I had a special connection with her, as did apparently all of her grandchildren, and when my parents got divorced I took a special comfort in her warm and tender love.  I also took comfort in our shared features.  I was a chubby girl/woman with two exceptionally thin parents and three younger sisters who are not only beautiful but well proportioned.  My Nana though had a larger frame like me and often carried a little extra chub.  In her figure I saw my own and while it might not have been the figure I wanted at least I could see where it came from.  She was a fun grandmother.  She played and did makeup, she would eat pizza on the living room floor, paint our nails, and talk about boys.  My love runs deep.  When I was 18 years old, at my first year in college, I got news from my mother that my Nana had been having trouble breathing and had been taken to the hospital where she had been diagnosed with lung cancer.  I was devastated.  I decided at that moment I would transfer home so I could spend more time with her.  At the end of summer I headed home and quickly enrolled at the state school.  The next year went pretty uneventfully.  The effects of chemo and radiation took their toll but in the end I had a cancer free Nana again.  She was doing so well that in April I decided to once again return to my out of state school the following winter.  Then tragedy struck.  One morning while rubbing a sore spot on her back my Nana discovered a lump.  It was tumors in her lungs that had returned with a vengeance.  She then made a choice that at the time I found exceptionally difficult.  Rather then start a new round of chemo and radiation my grandmother decided that she was satisfied with the 68 years she'd had on earth and that she would finish out the end of her life with just minimal medical intervention for pain.  I was beside myself.  I hadn't married at the time, I had no children, I hadn't graduated from college, started a career, bought a house.  These were all things I imagined I'd do with her still living.  I was one of her older grandchildren and I'd always imagined I'd have the opportunity to place my own daughter in her arms someday.  I did not want to let go and at a time when I felt like she had more paths to try I couldn't understand how she could be ready to let it go.  But let it go she did.  Within just a few months her health had deteriorated to point where she had to be put in hospice care.  I was there every hour I could be, sitting by her side, trying to entice her to eat, listening to my grandpa eat pork rinds and reminisce over the old days.  The day she died I was home in bed.  My uncle had sent me home for a nap and I got a call from him an hour later asking me to drive by my moms school to let her know  her mother had passed.  The void she left was gigantic and I was distraught.  For years after I held a grudge that she had not tried harder.  I wasn't ready to lose her and I didn't understand what a blessing it was that she had the opportunity to make her own health care decisions about her own end of life care.

More recently I lost my grandma Marvel.  I heard about her death while I was driving home from a trip to Utah two summers ago.  Somewhere in Wyoming my mom called me to tell me that Marvel had fallen and broken her hip and was going to need surgery.  Then she called me to tell me they couldn't keep her blood pressure up.  Medication wasn't working and the only thing they'd found that worked was having her lay in bed with the bed tilted toward her head and keeping her pain medication levels at a minimum, it was the only thing keeping her alive and it left her in excruciating pain.  My aunt and most of her children, my ex step father, and my two brothers went to visit with her in the hospital.  My uncle Bruce jumped on a plane.  My uncle Greg was unreachable somewhere in the wilds of Alaska, his work was trying to call him in but was having no success.  My brother played her a song on his guitar.  She told each family member she loved them and bore her testimony to them of her belief in God the Eternal Father, of Jesus Christ his son, and the truth of our church.  My mom told me that afternoon when she called me somewhere on the plains of Iowa that Grandma Marvel told my family that she was holding hands with my grandfather (he died when I was 16) and that her sister Sandra was sitting at the end of her bed (she'd died two years before) and it was time to go, and then she asked the doctors to put the head of her bed up.  They complied and she died before my uncle's plane had touched down.

As Dr. J has worked with many dying patients I have come to realize what a blessing it is to be able to make your own health care decisions.  When many families come to death they don't know what to do.  Even when people are aware that they are ill parents and children will often resists talking about it until it is too late and wishes are not well known.  Children, spouses, and doctors will come in with conflicting plans of attack. Feelings may be hurt.  Everyone is in shock and grieving which does not lend its self well to decision making. Sometimes doctors are pushing aggressive interventions.  Sometimes all the children or half the children, or one child, or a spouse is.  It can be heart wrenching and it often leads to long drawn out deaths and hurt feelings.  Years ago I heard of a family who after the children insisted the medical professionals follow their mother's wishes that she could no longer voice for herself to have no medical interventions the father turned to the children and said, "I hope your happy.  You killed your mother."  Death is hard.  It is lonely.  It often makes us angry.  Twelve years ago I was angry at my nana.  I wanted her and I felt like an outlier treatment attempt was worth making if there was any chance I might get to have her for longer.  Ten years later when my grandma died I realized what a blessing it was for my nana to make her own health care decisions, to realize she'd come to the end of her life and was ready to let go of the pain regardless of how I felt about it.  I realized that my Grandma Marvel was privileged to be able to take that decision on to herself.  She was able to save her family the guilt of trying to decided when enough had been done.  She was able to find her own relief.  She was able to choose the moment that she returned to the arms of my grandfather.

I'm not saying that the answer is always to pull the plug, but I am saying that when it comes to death and dying, to knowing when you've had enough that the patient should be the one who gets to make that decision.  The problem is most of us when we get to that point won't have clarity of mind or be conscious to be able to weigh in.  That's why we need to think about it now.  We need to let our families know what interventions we want, what conditions we are willing to live with, and we need to be realistic about how long we are going to be able to live, because the one inevitability of life is that all of us will surly leave it at some point.  Most importantly we should all have a living will.  You can pay to have an attorney write one up, you can pay $40 to have one done on, or you can find a free form here.  It gives your family piece of mind that they are making the right choice for you and it gives you the privileged of making the choice you want for yourself.


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