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Friday, January 29, 2010

If you were my friend, this is what I would tell you...

 Let's say that we're friends. Your child is sick and you call me for advice. Most likely I will tell you to take s/he in to see the paediatrician. He says that he thinks that the child needs to be hospitalised. Now here is where my advice will help you. I'm going to tell you right now to "pay attention and ask questions". I think I tell almost every parent that I work with to speak up and ask questions. But sometimes because of the stress of the situation, parents just go along with what is happening. Don't be afraid to make waves!  You don't have to be rude, but this is your child we're talking about, and ultimately you are the one that has to deal with the consequences. Ask what is happening. Ask why. Ask if this is the best option. Ask what possible the side effects of a procedure/ medication are. And don't be satisfied until you get some answers.
 Now I wish that this weren't the case, but sometimes medical decisions are not based on the best interest of the patient. Sometimes they are based on politics or the best interest of the doctor, availability or insurance coverage. And the details vary from case to case, doctor to doctor and hospital to hospital. The best way to make sure your child is getting the best care that they need, is to speak up, pay attention and do not be afraid to ask questions.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gratitute- A secret that really will save your sanity

Yesterday my toddler was very trying on my patience. While I was cleaning up from dinner he sqeezed out a mostly full large bottle of baby powder all over his room. After I bathed him and put him in his jammies and was cleaning up the powder her got in the tub with his sister and his clothes on. After I got them both out of the tub and went back to the powder he dumped an almost full bottle of shampoo all over the bathroom. And this is just what one hour of my day was like. He went to bed without stories, or at least that was my decree. (But when he climbed out of bed and looked at me with those big eyes and said "please book", I caved.) Still at the end of the day I was feeling kind of frustrated and a little sorry for myself. I cleaned all day long and my house was still a mess. Why can't things stay clean? Why can't I have time for me?
 This was still kind of in the back of my mind as I was saying my prayers and I asked for help to be a better mother. Then I thought of all of those people in Haiti and felt a little ashamed of myself. Here I'm in my comfortable home with my two kids who I adore, while there are thousands of people who are homeless and searching for loved ones and I'm upset about some clutter and dirty dishes?  Now I'm not saying that one situation really effects another.(Just because there are kids starving in China, doesn't mean that I could ever convince my kids to eat lima beans.) But my perspective needed to be readjusted. I need to remember to be grateful for the many blessings that I have. Just feeling grateful replaced the frustration and I went to sleep easy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Help for Haiti- Part 2

It is becoming part of my Sunday morning routine. I read about Haiti in the newspaper and I cry like a close friend died.  And I have awful vivid dreams that I'm a nurse there and I can't do my job as well as I would like, because I'm limited in available resources. I've donated money, which is important and I do encourage everyone who can, to do so. But I want to actually do something. Really, if I did not have young kids, I would be there. I imagine there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way. I found this short list in the newspaper that offered some good suggestions of things that I can do.(For the story that accompanies the photo above click here.)
  • Donate items to Deseret Industries
  • Make humanitarian aid kits
  • Volunteer labor hours at bishops storehouses, welfare farms, canneries or other Welfare Service projects
I can do at least some of these things. I have lots of old baby clothes that are just taking up closet space that someone else could put to better use. DI donations, humanitarian aid kits and  food items canned in LDS Church canneries will go directly to those in need or will be set aside for future need. I don't have tons of money to donate, but I sincerely want to help. I'm certain other people feel the same. And if you don't live in Utah, you can still reach out to those around you in need. Donate to your local food bank, or your local consignment store. If you are looking to help and lift others in need, you can find a way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Alcohol Substitutions in Cooking

It seems that many recipes call for alcohol and as a strictly non-drinker, it's not something that I keep in my pantry. However, I have found that there are a few simple ingredients from my pantry that substitute well for alcohol in many recipes. For a more extensive chart with substitutions for less generic alcohols see

Light beer- chicken broth or Sprite (Use your judgement based on the recipe.)
Heavier beer- beef broth or root beer
Red wine- chicken broth or red grape juice
Sake- rice vinegar
Sherry- orange juice
White wine- chicken broth or white grape juice

 I have read that when it comes to putting beer in bread or marinating meat in it, there is no substitution. I will beg to differ. One year for Christmas a friend gave me a beer bread mix and a can of Sprite. The carbonic acid that gives Sprite it's fizzyness will make the bread rise in the place of the yeast in the beer. Perhaps it didn't taste exactly like beer bread, but what it did taste like was AMAZING.
 Part of the reason beer marinated meat is so good is that the alcohol breaks down the muscle fibers making the meat more tender. The carbonic acid in soft drinks will do the same thing. The best steak I have ever had was a filet mignon in Argentina. A close second was an ordinary New York cut steak marinated several hours in Sprite and cooked over a camp fire and seasoned with salt and pepper.

I have also heard many times that cooking with alcohol gets rid of the alcohol content. That's only partially true. Below is a chart created by the USDA that I found on a kitchen myth website. So some of it cooks out, but not all of it. But before you get to paranoid, remember that ordinary bread with yeast contains alcohol. The rising takes place because those little micro-organisms produce alcohol. A major part of that fresh baked bread smell is the burning of the alcohol. A tiny bit of alcohol in your food is not going to hurt you.

Alcohol Burn-off Chart
 Preparation Method  Percent Retained
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat 85%
alcohol flamed 75%
no heat, stored overnight 70%
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%
Baked/simmered dishes with alcohol stirred into mixture:
15 minutes cooking time 40%
30 minutes cooking time 35%
1 hour cooking time 25%
1.5 hours cooking time 20%
2 hours cooking time 10%
2.5 hours cooking time 5%

Sunday, January 24, 2010


"Self-reliance means using all of our blessings Father to care for ourselves and our families and to find solutions for our own problems.' Each of us has a responsibility to try to avoid problems before they happen and to learn to overcome challenges when they occur. …
"How do we become self-reliant? We become self-reliant through obtaining sufficient knowledge, education, and literacy; by managing money and resources wisely, being spiritually strong, preparing for emergencies and eventualities; and by having physical health and social and emotional well-being."
Julie B. Beck
Today I came across this quote today and I thought 'Yes, this is exactly what I'm trying to do! I've heard the term "self-reliance" thrown around, but if this is what it's about, I'm on board.' If I can be organized and self-reliant, that give me more time and power to be Supermom, and hopefully have the time and resources to help others too. I sincerely hope that my postings here will help someone else too.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Microwave Cleaning Tips

  • Fill a microwavable bowl with water. Add one of the following: 1 tsp of vanilla, citrus peels or lemon juice. Microwave water until boiling. The steam should make removal of cooked-on gunk much easier. It almost just falls of with a cleaning sponge. Repeat if necessary.
  • To sterilise cleaning sponges cook in the microwave for 2 minutes. Make sure they are damp first or they can catch on fire. Careful, they will be very hot when you pull them out.
  • Ensure that any spills are cleaned up as soon as they are cooled down. It makes the process much easier. (This one is kind of obvious, but most of the time I know that I don't do it.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When Looking for a Doctor, Ask a Nurse

 Today's post is about something that I wish that I had learned much earlier than I did. When you need a good doctor for something, the best recommendation you can get is from a nurse. Even if you don't know a nurse who works with the kind of physician you're looking for, you can still call the hospital and ask for recommendations. The best time to do this is on a Sunday afternoon when things are generally slower and nurses have more time to answer all of your questions. The nurses generally know who has good or bad track records. They work with the doctors on a regular basis and can pick out the ones who know their stuff. Now if you ask them they're probably not going to say "Oh, I definitely wouldn't see Dr. A because he is terrible about washing his hands." or "Dr. B is flaming moron" or "Dr. C is in danger of losing his license", but if there is stuff going on, they'll know. Trust me. They can point you towards the someone who will take good care of you.

 Sometimes which doctor you see doesn't really make a big difference, but there are many times that having a good doctor makes a big difference in how much time and money are spent on your or your child's health, not to mention what a difference it can make on your entire life. Any time spent researching the matter will not be wasted. I have a few stories to further illustrate my point.

 When I had my first baby (and was a very brand new nurse) someone who I respected recommended that I see a particular group of certified nurse midwives. All was well until I got to the delivery, which was a disaster. The most telling moment was after she broke my water and then said "I don't know what to do now." (I wish I were kidding, but I'm not.) After that experience I started taking a poll of all of the nurses that I worked with (at the time I worked on multiple units). At least 75% went to one particular OB/GYN. So with my second child that's who I went to. She was WONDERFUL! I really don't think I can say enough good things about her. Not just because of the way she treated me as a patient, but because of what a wonderful care provider she was to the patients that I observed her with.

 With my first child I wasn't sure who to pick as a pediatrician, so one was assigned to me. He seemed nice enough so I kept going to him. However, the more that I got to work with him the less impressed I was. When my second child was very tiny, my friends told me a sad story of patient from our unit. This toddler was complaining of severe neck and back pain and running fevers. This doctor ordered IV fluids and Tylenol (which are great), but refused when every nurse who took care of this patient, begged for a lumbar puncture and antibiotics. After four days of the patient not improving, a scan was ordered. It then became apparent that the patient had started with spinal meningitis and it had spread to the brain. That poor child will be mentally delayed for the rest of his life, and this was preventable. Ug, it still makes me sick/sad/angry to think about it. Needless to say, I did not take my children back to him.

 If you can't find a nurse to give you recommendations, here are qualities that you should look for:
  1. Your doctor should really listen to what you have to say
  2. Your doctor should be willing to admit when he or she doesn't know something and needs to consult someone else.
  3. Your doctor should never treat you like you are stupid because you don't understand medical jargon.
  4. Your doctor should never seem to be "put out" to take care of you or answer your questions, that why they get paid.
  5. Your doctor should keep you updated.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beef and Bean Burritos

These are so easy and a big hit with my family. The actual making of the meal is pretty quick as long as you have your meat ready from the crock pot. Leftover burritos freeze well and lack all the who knows what that you get from freezer burritos from the store.

Beef and Bean Burritos
1 roast (I usually use beef, but pork also works)
1 packet of taco seasoning (2, if it's a particularly big roast)
1/2 c water
refried beans (Made fresh or from a can, whatever your time table looks like)
burrito-sized tortillas
grated cheese- cheddar, mozzarella or pepper jack
Tabasco sauce (optional)
sour cream (optional)
enchilada sauce (optional)

1. Trim fat from roast as desired. Put roast in crock pot with water. Cover with packet of taco seasoning. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. (This depends on the size of the roast and desired tenderness.) 2. Put roast in a bowl and shred with two forks. It should fall apart pretty easily. Add about 1/4 c of seasoned water from the crock pot and stir into shredded meat. If a large roast add another packet of taco seasoning to the meat and stir. 3. Spread a 1/3 c (more or less) of beans on a tortilla. Top with 1/3 c of shredded meat. Sprinkle with cheese and Tabasco sauce as desired. 4. Microwave for 45 seconds to melt cheese. If desired top with enchilada sauce and grated cheese before micro waving.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help for Haiti

I'm copying this straight from a blog that has been pretty helpful for me. For all you facebookers out there it takes a couple clicks to become a fan and afterwards you can also share the message on facebook. Think of all the difference that could be made if you encouraged for friends to become fans and then they encouraged their friends. It's like a pyramid scheme where everyone wins.

Help for Haiti - PYP will donate .10 for each new PYP Facebook fan!

Have you been wondering how you can help the people of Haiti?  There are numerous options for donating to the cause.  These are two we recommend:

LDS Humanitarian Services - 100% of funds donated are used for humanitarian services and programs - the Church uses other funds to cover administrative expenses for the humanitarian program.

Donations can be mailed to:
Humanitarian Services
50 East North Temple Street, Floor 7
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-6890

Red Cross -  .92 of every dollar donated is used for humanitarian services and programs. The public can also help by texting “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross, through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department.  Funds will go to support American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

You can donate to the Red Cross online at THIS LINK.

You can also help by spreading the word that will be donating .10 for each new Facebook fan, up to a maximum of 20,000 fans, or $2000.00.  As of this posting, we have 18,777 fans.  We'll donate .10 for each new person that becomes a fan of PYP on Facebook in the next 48 hours.  We will make the donation through LDS Humanitarian Services, where 100% of donations are used for humanitarian services.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My new favorite local business- Southern Utah Recycling

This week at toddler time, my neighbor told me about a new business that is really going to make my life easier. (And sorry for those who live outside of St. George, but I am willing to research the recycling options in the area of anyone who requests it.) It was one of my resolutions this year to be a little greener (and no I am not a tree-hugging, Gore-following hippie, but I hate to waste and I want the place I live to stay beautiful.) and when my neighbor mentioned this I was so excited I want to share.
 Southern Utah Recycling sells you a blue plastic Rubbermaid bin for $25. Then they pick up your recyclable items (glass, metals, cardboard, plastic and paper) in said blue bin weekly- free for the first year. After that if you want to continue the service it is $4 each month. (You can keep your bin if you move or discontinue the service.) Frankly with the hassle that recyling is now, it is worth it to me pay someone $4 to pick up and sort my recycle garbage. Some of the local grocery stores have recycling bins, but they have tiny openings and they don't take cardboard. Half the time I'm chasing paper that the wind is blowing around as I'm trying to stuff it in the bin. And I'm all about supporting local family-run businesses when I can.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quick After School Snack

Here's something we've been eating since jr high and I don't remember exactly where it came from. It's not low cal, but that doesn't mean that it's not nutritious. Plus, it's quick and easy. I remember eating it often after school and the protein in the peanut butter in a few of these plus a glass of milk would help hold me over until dinner. I still like to snack on these and my kids love them too, especially if I let them make faces with their toppings. I prefer them crammed with as many toppings as will stick to the peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Graham Crackers
  • Graham crackers
  • peanut butter
  • raisins, dried cranberries, and/or chopped apricots
  • chocolate chips
For every half graham cracker, spread about 1 tablespoon (more or less) of peanut butter. Sprinkle or arrange a couple teaspoons of toppings as desired. You can also add mini marshmallows, but I prefer them without.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Freezer Meals

Yesterday my good friend and I decided to get together, cook a bunch of meals and freeze them. (Mostly we are doing this because my new stove and fridge STILL haven't arrived yet and the only appliances I have are my microwave and my deep freeze. She is a great friend to suggest and volunteer we do this at her place.) Now I've heard people rave before about the wonders of making meals and deep freezing them, but honestly it always sounded like more work than it is worth. Yes, they're nice to have, but they take awhile to do and it isn't often that I have large blocks of time available when my kids aren't making some new mess for me to clean up.
 I've decided that the secret is a good friend (preferably a friend who has kids who like to play with your kids.) So we each picked a few recipes that we liked, brought the ingredients & pans for said recipes and started cooking. We each made a batch big enough to feed each of our families and froze it all in tupperware. (We each have a family of 4, so we made enough of each recipe to get a lunch and dinner for each of us.) Yes, with all the various interruptions that come with kids and life in general, it took several hours.  But we had a great time talking and cooking, and our kids had a great time playing together. And after several hours of cooking I now have about a weeks worth of microwave lunches and dinners, at a fraction of the cost of buying them from the store. (To make this weeks worth of food I used what I already had in my pantry and freezer and $12 worth of groceries.) And when you split it up with a friend like this, you get more variety. Yesterday we made pizza, chicken manicotti, spaghetti, (I made homemade spaghetti sauce and used it for the first three) beef stew and shepherd's pie. Now I have several meals ready that my family likes to eat that I just need to reheat. We're definitely going to do this again. Here's the chicken manicotti recipe that is a favorite of my husband's.

Chicken Manicotti
3 cloves garlic finely chopped (or 1 Tablespoon of garlic powder)
2 cans cooked chicken (14.5 oz each)
2 boxes manicotti shells
1 cup fresh spinach  finely chopped (or 3/4 c frozen spinach, defrosted and drained)
5-6 cups spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
15 oz of ricotta cheese
1 cup of water
1/2 lb of Italian sausage cooked and drained
1. Mix ricotta cheese, Italian cheese, chicken, spinach, and garlic until a smooth thick consistency.
2.Spread 1 cup of sauce in each of two 13"x9"x2" baking dishes.
3. Stuff uncooked manicotti with chicken mixture. Place manicotti in sauced baking dishes.
 Sprinkle with additional sausage. Cover with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
4.Drizzle 1/2 c water around the edge of each pan. Bake each pan at 375 for 45 minutes.
 Freezes well before and after baking. If baking a frozen pan bake for 2 hours. Freezes for up to 3 months.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Favorite Books of 2009

I love books! Here are my favorite books from the past year in no particular order.
Favorite Children's Books
  1. WADDLE! by Rufus Butler Seder- This the latest of his scanimation books. Both my kids enjoy these fun books, and they are simple enough that my daughter is starting to recognise some of the words. I brought this to church recently and my 22-year-old brother spent a good part of the meeting looking at it. They really are that fascinating.
  2. Tuesday by David Wiesner- This book without words is surprisingly entertaining and is one that my kids request often.
  3. No, David! by David Shannon- This is definitely by son's favorite book and I love listening to him "read" (shout) it to himself. It's about a small boy and all of the things he's not supposed to do.
  4. Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo by E.S Redmond- This creative book is about a girl with a runny nose who doesn't wash her hands and shares her illness with all of the animals at the zoo. It's a good weapon for teaching children to wash their hands. My daughter's favorite book this year.
  5. The Night Pirates by Peter Harris- A great chilren's pirate story.
  6. It's a Spoon, Not a Shovel by Caralyn Buehner- A fun book on good manners. Like all books by the Buehners there are hidden things to find on every page.
  7. Fine Feather Friends: All About Birds by Tish Rabe- This is a part of a series of educational 'Dr. Seuss' books. They feature the Cat in the Hat teaching Dick and Sally about various science topics.
  8. The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt-  We loved the illustrations and classic poem, even if my kids are a bit young to catch the message.
  9. The Red Book by Barbara Lehman- This tells a story without words in the same fashion as "Tuesday". My daughter likes to tell me the story.
  10. Fear Not, Joseph!: A Christmas Story by Julie Stiegemeyer- This beautiful book tells the Christmas story from Joseph's point of view.
Favorite Adult Books
  1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi- I'll probably write a blog post about this one later, but I highly recommend it.
  2. I Dare You To Eat It by Liesa Card- I loved this book so much I wrote to the author and told her so. To see my blog post about it go here.
  3. Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rawadan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza- This book is truly inspiring. It tells the story of girl who survived the Rawadan holocaust by hiding in a tiny bathroom with 12 other women for 3 months while most of her family was slaughtered. Despite the horrors she experienced she remained positive and went on to help others.
  4. Be With You by Takuji Ichikawa-This book is about a widower who decides to write the story of him and his wife for his son as he struggles to cope with being a single parent and dealing with some complex medical problems. After he begins writing his story the ghost of his wife appears in the forest without any memory. She doesn't know who she is, who they are or that she's dead. And she doesn't appear like a ghost either. He and his son take her home and they fall in love all over again. It was a really sweet love story and I liked the twist at the end. It reminds you of the things that are really important and being happy with those you love. And it reads really smoothly, I think that it was translated well.
  5. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones- Young Adult counts right? This was a great quick read. I recommend it, although I thought there should have been more examination of Howl and his character, history etc. Pretty different from the movie, although I still enjoyed them both. Good fun. 
  6. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally As Possible by A.J. Jacobs- I loved this book. It was both hilarious and heartfelt. It's about a man who is ethnically Jewish, but was raised as an agnostic. He decides to learn more about his heritage by living the Bible as literally as possible. And interviewing a huge range of religious sources along the way. It's interesting to read his musings as he learns about the Bible and tries to figure out what he really believes.(And he's just funny. I laughed out loud on many occasions.) It made me think about what I believe and drew attention to many things in the Bible that I hadn't noticed before.   
  7. Unlikely Heroes: Ordinary Men and Women Whose Courage Won the Revolution by Ron Carter-This book is a collection of short stories about little known and unlikely people who contributed to the American victory of the Revolutionary War. I really enjoyed this book. Unlike some war history books, it was an easy read. It reminded me that the freedoms we have were not free and there are many soldiers that we are indebted to. The men and women in this book endured so much for their freedoms and for the rights that we continue to enjoy. 
  8. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale- I love this book and this author. It's about a princess whose life isn't perfect and has to work hard to find her happy ending.
  9. Mommy Knows Worst: Highlights from the Golden Age of Bad Parenting by James Lileks- Just in case you need a boost of confidence that you are not the worse parent ever. This book made me laugh so hard I cried.
  10. Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt- This book reminded me of Jane Eyre which is a favourite, and I loved that the ending was able to surprise me. Not as well written as Jane Eyre, but still a great enjoyable read. I had a hard time putting it down.