Secrets of Mom Search Results

Monday, January 31, 2011

Strep Throat vs. Spinal Meningitis

 Once when I was in the fourth grade I had a fever, headache, nausea and I felt lousy. My mom tried to get me to touch my chin to my chest. I couldn't/wouldn't. My mom rushed me to the emergency room because she was sure that I had spinal meningitis. As it turns I wouldn't touch my chin to my chest because I had a nasty case of strep throat. It hurt too much. Now it was great that she took me to the doctor, but it didn't really didn't merit an ER visit. (Of course I don't remember what day or time it was, that may have been the only option.) Complications of untreated Strep can include scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, and glomerulonephritis, but those are less likely to happen if antibiotics are started in a timely manner (and don't forget to take the whole course of antibiotics, not just until the symptoms go away.)
  It was years later when I was in nursing school that I realized what my mom was looking for. She was looking for a positive Brudzinski's sign, however it isn't based on whether a child can voluntarily touch their chin to their chest. To test for Brudzinski's sign, have a child lay flat on their back on a firm surface. (A floor or table will work.) Then firmly push their chin to chest. A positive sign will result in their legs and hips flexing involuntarily. If you see this, I would recommend taking your child to the emergency room, pronto. (Of course, you may be ok, going to a clinic first, if you can get in quickly and are admitted from there. Sometimes that's faster than going through the ER (and generally significantly less expensive). Where you should go to depends on where you live, how far the hospital is from you and your average ER wait times. But don't deliberate about the matter for too long.) The point is that this is serious business. Not to say that a negative Brudzinski's sign rules out a diagnosis of spinal meningitis, because it doesn't. But a positive Brudzinski's will not be seen in any other disease.
Symptoms of spinal meningitis include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, irritability and lethargy. (See how the two can be confused?) Although the symptoms in meningitis are often more extreme than what will be seen in strep throat and also sometimes include muscle rigidity, bulging soft spots in infants, cold extremities and abnormal skin color. Of course you don't need all of these symptoms to have spinal meningitis. Small children sometimes only have fever and irritability, which can make a "phone or internet diagnosis" difficult. The surest way to diagnose spinal meningitis is with a lumbar puncture or spinal tap. I know that sounds really scary to a parent, to think about multiple people holding your child down while a doctor puts large needles into your child's spine, but if there is a chance that your child has this disease, you need to know. Not only that, you need to know what is causing it, whether it be bacteria or virus and what kind, so the doctor can pick the most effective medication.
 Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, which are the protective coverings of the brain and spinal cord. If those tissues become infected, because of their location, it can lead to serious problems. Complications can include permanent brain damage, deafness, epilepsy (a seizure disorder), sepsis (wide spread systemic infection), gangrene of limbs, shock and death. Does this mean that if your child has meningitis that they are going to die or have these complications? No. I have cared for many, many kids with this diagnosis, and I have never seen one die and I can list on one hand the kids I have seen who have had serious complications. But if your child does not get immediate treatment, their risk greatly increases. Bottom line, if you remotely suspect that your child has spinal meningitis, get it checked out as soon as possible.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Dare You To Eat It Presentation

I have had several friends who were unable to attend Liesa Card's presentation last Thursday ask me for handouts. Here's the thing, she doesn't really do handouts. She feels that they are usually a waste of paper and just get thrown away. Instead she provides everyone in attendance with a half sheet of paper and a pencil so they can write down points that they feel are important (plus she handed out bookmarks with her website address so you can check out some of the recipes that she has up there for free, but I already put the link above). So I thought that I would write down the things that I thought were important here on my blog. Of course what I write here doesn't do justice to her entire presentation, but here we go.

  • Using your food storage should consist of 3 things: A one year supply of staples (grains, beans, etc.), a 3 month supply of items that you regularly use in your cooking (sauces, canned vegetables, etc) and fresh ingredients (meat, dairy, produce). Meals that are a mix of these three are far more likely to be eaten by your family.
  • Thomas S. Monson has asked us to live in the present. At the moment the present includes the grocery store. The First Presidency has never asked us to stop going to the grocery store.
  • Food storage doesn't have to be weird, in fact it's best if it's not. Some examples she gave of food storage meals that her family eats on a regular basis include white bean chicken chili, tuna noodles, sloppy joes, beef borgie and shepherd's pie.
  • If you have your ingredients on hand, you can use your food storage to put together meals faster than you can pick up take-out, but they're healthier and cheaper too.
  • You can get a year supply of food storage for a family of five for about $1200. Yes, that is not pocket change, but with some planning and some effort it is doable. Find a way to save $100 a month and put that towards food storage. As you use it, it will save you money.
  • Food storage can make you a better mother. There is an peace and assurance that come with knowing that whatever the world has to throw at us, at least I have the means to feed my family. "I won't fail them when it comes to food."
  • Food storage is not about fear, it is about peace. We have been asked to store food, not in a spirit of fear, but because of the blessings that will come from having it.
  • Food storage is almost like a secret blessing from the First Presidency and people don't realize how it can make their lives so much easier.
  • If we ever come to a point where we have to use our food storage, we will wish that we had kept the furniture in the garage and food storage in our house.
  • If the 'what if' happens, we make adjustments. If a disaster happens we're still having white bean chicken chili. It may or may not have chicken, it probably won't have cheese or sour cream or tortilla chips, but it is close enough to what they are used to that the family will still be comfortable eating it.
  • There are three tricks to using your food storage: 
    1. Keep 6 open cans of food storage IN YOUR KITCHEN. (wheat, pasta, beans, oats, rice and potatoes)
    2. Gather a three month supply of ingredients and keep them in your kitchen. (She uses 30 recipes and buys the shelf ingredients in groups of three. i.e. 3 bottles of spaghetti sauce.)
    3. Get a binder and start collecting food storage recipes that your family is actually willing to eat. It doesn't have to be fancy, just a place where you have them together.
I Dare You to Eat It If you want more information I Dare You To Eat It can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Deseret Book. Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows that I mention this book a lot. Liesa does not compensate me in anyway to promote her book. I promote it because it has changed my life, makes my job as a mother so much easier and I believe that it can make the lives of many other families easier too. And if you live near me I do have a few copies that Liesa gave me to sell at a discounted price. I am not getting a cut, I'm just trying to share the good information.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review: Emergency Food Storage and Survival Book

Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a CrisisBecause I have this thing with food storage, my husband got me the Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis by Peggy Layton for Christmas. In it she provides a list of what your family would need to survive for a year if their were a crisis and grocery store were not available, this includes food, cooking equipment, medical supplies and gardening needs. She also gives many helpful tips on the logistics of food storage, including finding space and improving the storage life. She talks about the pros and cons of various food storage items, how to grow your own sprouts and how to create a 72-hour kit. And of course like anyone with any sense about food storage she emphasizes the importance of storing what your family with use and rotating what you store.
Now there is tons of information here and it can be somewhat overwhelming, but I like that she has outline a systematic action plan which you can take at whatever pace suits you. And honestly you don't have to take them in the order listed, although I highly recommend taking an inventory somewhere near the beginning. (I personally think that staples are a much higher priority than pet food or gardening equipment.)

Step #1 Organize
  • Prepare space in your home
  • Build shelves and organize
  • Create a 1-week menu
  • Take inventory
 Step #2 Water, Survival Equipment and Gardening Needs
  • Water
  • Basic survival equipment
  • Cooking equipment and fuel
  • Garden seeds
  • Sprouting seeds
Step #3 Medical Supplies and Special Needs
  • Pharmacy and medical supplies
  • Baby food and supplies (if applicable)
  • Pet food and supplies (if applicable)
Step #4 Basic Ingredients for Baking

  • Basic baking needs
  • Sweeteners
  • Fats
  • Basic spices and flavorings
Step #5 Soups, Sauces and Spice Mixes
  • Canned soups
  • Dehydrated soups
  • Sauces and spice mixes
Step #6 Staples
  • Cereals
  • Rice
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Pastas
Step #7 Protein Foods and Dried Dairy
  • Commercial and home-canned meats
  • TVP
  • Peanut Butter
  • Dehydrated eggs
  • Dried dairy
Step #8 Fruits and Vegetables
  • Commercial and home-canned fruits
  • Dehydrated fruits
  • Commercial and home-canned vegetables
  • Dehydrated vegetables
Step #9 Fun Foods
  • Dry drink mixes
  • Canned drinks
  • Desserts
  • Boxed mixes
  • Condiments
  • Additional spices
Step #10 Nonfood Items
  • Paper products
  • Cleansers
  • Personal hygiene
I think that this book is good reference, but there were a few things I didn't like about it. There is a huge chunk of wasted paper (60 pages) in middle for you to plot out what your family needs of each item for 1 week, 3 months, 1 year, etc. If I am going to calculate that, I'll just get a spread sheet program to do it for me. I also question the accuracy of some of the recipes in the back. There's a dessert recipe without any form of sweetener and her chart for reconstituting powdered milk just doesn't add up. I'm pretty sure that the laws of physics apply to food storage too. Despite these problems, I think that the book was still worth the read.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dinosaur Birthday Cake

So Thing 2's birthday was awhile ago and I decided on a dinosaur birthday cake. (Mostly because this cake only required one cake mix, and I was not interested in my family of four eating birthday cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week.) And my son who usually does not eat cake was so excited that it was shaped like a dinosaur, that he actually ate some.

First you bake the cake of your desired flavor in two 8" round pans.I used basic yellow. After the cakes have cooled, cut them as shown below.
Discard (or eat) shaded parts

Cover a piece of cardboard with foil and arrange cakes on cardboard. Then I poured jello on the cake to make it taste better and give it a bloody gruesome dinosaur effect.

Then I cut the top corners off the "rainbow" to give the head a better shape. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Next I made a frosting of chocolate pudding and whipped topping.
I used a tiny piece of fruit roll-up for the mouth, swirled chocolate chips for eyes, and let the kids decorate the rest of the cake with mint and dark chocolate chips.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Food Storage Friday: For The Little Ones

As I have mentioned before, my kids are picky eaters. Ridiculously picky eaters. And just because I feel I have found something that is delicious, healthy and uses my food storage doesn't mean that my kids will try it. I would say that most of my greatest food storage recipes are for things that my kids won't eat. And how useful is my food storage if half my family won't eat it? So we make adjustments. You have to store things that your family is going to eat, or it isn't that useful. I generally make things far less spicy than I would like, in hopes that my kids will try it and then pour the Tabasco on mine. I also have several recipes that call for some kind of meat, sauce and vegetables over rice. My kids turn their nose up at meat, sauce and veggies (unless it's modified Hawaiian Haystacks). So I use this simple recipe to at least get them used to eating rice and let them have fruit on the side. Yes, I know it's not really a complete meal, but it's a starting place for the ridiculously picky and it gets my children familiar with food storage without me having to make a completely separate meal for them. If we're having sweet and sour chicken, this is what they are having.

Cheesy Rice for Kids
1/2 cup prepared rice
1 heaping tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon of chicken broth

1. Mix ingredients together in a bowl. 2. Microwave until cheese is melted. (Approximately 30 seconds) Serves 1.

Other food storage items that I have found to be winners with my kids:

  1. Craisins (For Thing 2, but not Thing 1)
  2. Popcorn (It's a grain, stores for a long time and if you prepare it right, it doesn't have to be bad for you.)
  3. Canned mandarin oranges (which I store anyway for Hawaiian Haystacks)
  4. Canned pineapple (Haystacks and smoothies)
  5. Canned peaches
  6. Canned pears
  7. Canned corn (store it anyway for Wheatberry Salsa and Taco Soup, Thing 1 loves it, but not Thing 2)
  8. Macaroni and cheese (My favorite is the homemade variety with pureed cauliflower mixed in, but I can only get them to eat that on occasion. They prefer the box variety. I have also come to the conclusion that it is worth the extra money to get the Kraft variety, it just tastes so much better.)
  9. Annie's shells and white cheddar cheese. (I generally see organic and think expensive, but these are decently price and everyone in my family loves them.)
  10. Ramen noodles (I'm not sure why they love this so much, but they do and it's super cheap and easy.)
  11. Cookies made with oatmeal 
  12. Muffins made with oatmeal (which I can also sneak powdered milk, dried carrots and dried apples into.)
  13. Fresh bread with jam
  14. Pancakes/waffles (Recently I made a whole wheat and orange variety that was a hit, I'll have to make it again so I can take pictures and post them.)
What food storage items (or recipes) have you found to be the most effective for you and your little ones?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Food Storage Presentation in St George

I Dare You to Eat ItHey friends, readers and food storage junkies- particularly those who live locally, listen up.
Tomorrow my friend, Liesa Card (author of I Dare You to Eat It) will be breezing through town and has volunteered to give a  presentation on food storage. She has great ideas on getting your family to actually eat food storage and has many great stories about how food storage can bless your life.

When: 7 pm MST January 20, 2011

Where: 124 N Valley View Drive St George, UT

Light refreshments will be served. (I'm making wheatberry salsa. :) ) And you are more than welcome to bring a spouse or friend. (Oh and if you shoot me an email if you're coming @, so I can get an approximate count. That would be AWESOME!) Hope to see you there!

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

When I was in 8th grade, my US History teacher gave a research assignment. We were to make a portfolio about anything that we wanted, but the point was to teach us how to research. I chose The Beatles, but more importantly my classmate Liz Munk chose peanut butter. When presentation day came she made this peanut butter pie and peanut butter soup. The soup was meh, but the pie was amazing. I make it at least once a year, and to me it tastes like comfort food. (Of course I made a few changes to make it little easier and healthier, but still good.)

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup butter melted
Or just buy a Keebler crust, most often that is what I do.

8 ounces neufchatel (reduced fat cream cheese)
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1&1/2 Tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup white sugar
8 ounce tub of whipped topping
(Mix crust ingredients and press into a pie plate.) 1. Beat cheese, peanut butter, vanilla and sugar until smooth. 2. Gently fold in whipped topping into peanut butter in four additions. 3. Spoon filling into crust and freeze until firm. (About two hours.)

You can serve this with hot fudge sauce, but my kids also like it topped with broken candy pieces and whipped topping.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Secrets to An Argument-Free Marriage

Recently I discovered that my marriage is more unusual than I thought. I mentioned a very minor thing that happened, to a friend and she said "Wait, you guys didn't have fight over that? I totally would have blown up at my husband over that." Honestly, the thought hadn't occurred to me. "We don't fight." "Really?!" Really. In the ten years that we've been together I can only think of a half dozen actual fights that we've had, and three of those were before we were married. So I've been thinking about why we don't fight. It's not because our life is perfect, because it isn't. It's not because we always agree, because we often don't. It's because we have learned a few things along the way and we work at it. Now I am not a licensed therapist, nor have I had many relationships to draw experience from, nor is my marriage perfect, so take my advice for what it is worth. But I thought I would write these down for the benefit of my children when they are older and anyone else who cares to read this.
  • Admit when you are wrong. What is the point of denying it? You don't win any prizes for being right when you are actually wrong. You may however cause contention and resentment in your relationship.
  • Think before you speak. Recently we returned from a trip the night before I had to work. I told my husband that if he felt inclined to do laundry not to wash my favorite sweater with the regular laundry with a basic description of the sweater. When I came home from work he had done all of the laundry and shrunk my favorite sweater. I was frustrated, but before yelling I remembered a few things. 1. While I was at work he was sick and taking care of both of our sick kids. 2. He didn't shrink my sweater because he was trying to tick me off. He did all of the laundry because he was trying to help me out. 3. He is far more important to me than my sweater. The sweater is not worth hurting feelings or causing contention.
  • Remember that you love your spouse. My husband is my lover, best friend, co-conspirator, and father of my adorable children. When he does things that frustrate me, I remember that I don't want to hurt him by saying something harsh. I treat him with respect and kindness and he treats me the same way. (This one encompasses being honest, caring and non-manipulative.)
  • Criticize gently and only when totally necessary. My husband is well aware that little girl hair is not his area of expertise. It is totally unnecessary for me to make comments on Thing 1's ponytails when I come home from work. There are things that are worth mentioning to him, but I try not to use a tone with him that I wouldn't want him to use with me.
  • If you have something that bothers you, tell your spouse before it festers into a bigger deal than it needs to be. When I noticed that my husband often put his socks in the laundry basket wadded up I said "Honey, if you want your socks to get clean they need to be right side out." He wasn't trying to make my life more difficult, and once I pointed it out he stopped. Problem solved. If we have concerns we let each other know.
  • Give your spouse some time and space. Sometimes I feel a little bit jealous of the free time he has to play the piano, exercise and occasionally play computer games with his brothers. But I recognize he needs that time to cope with the stress that comes with taking 18 credits a semester. He also recognizes that I need that time too, and when he can, does things like help with the laundry and dishes so I have time to read a book or go running.
  • Your relationship with your spouse creates a mood in your home. When I was growing up my parents fought a lot. It caused a great deal of anxiety, fear and depression for me, and it didn't make them happy either. Things are much better now for them, but the point is fighting with your spouse is not worth the resulting pain and negative energy that results.
  • Take time to laugh together. It relieves stress and tension. Every evening, whoever has spent more time with the kids will relate funny things that they said that day. Money and free time for dates are not things that we have in excess, but at least a couple times a month, after the kids are in bed we fold laundry together, sort socks and watch a few episodes of The Office.
  • Work together. Maintaining the house is a group project. Dishes (or any other chore for that matter) are not the responsibility of any one person. (Of course when I'm not working full-time and he's not in school full-time, I will probably doing significantly more house work, but I'm ok with that.) Regardless of the situation we both pitch in to make it work.
  • Remember that you are a team with common goals. When Thing 1 was tiny, we called ourselves "Team Baby". Our common goal was survival. (We had titles too, based on the amount of baby bodily fluid that we had gotten on our persons. My brother was the Court Jester. Thing 1 was the Princess. My husband was the King and mommy was All-High Empress. Yes, that's right, I was the Empress of  baby vomit.) Since then our common goals have expanded beyond survival, but we still work at it together. When we make significant decisions we consider how the results effect each other and our family.
  • Pick your battles. Some things are worth fighting over. But most aren't. Before you decide that you want to start a fight, think about the effects. Is the issue that important?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Review: Prophetic Statements on Food Storage for Latter-day Saints

Prophetic Statements on Food Storage for Latter-Day SaintsProphetic Statements on Food Storage for Latter-day Saints by Neil H. Leash was  recommended to me by a co-worker. I believe that food storage is a good idea whether you are of my faith or not. It just makes sense. Food storage is insurance against whatever life has in store. There is not a crisis I can think of that can't be made a little less stressful by being prepared and having some food and money set aside. The world we live in has many dangers and uncertainties, but if we are prepared we shall not fear.
  If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this book is a wake-up call. Our prophets have been telling us for 165 years that we need to prepare and set food aside. A man who we believe communicates with the Lord Almighty has implored us to prepare our homes and our families for possible disaster by storing food and putting our homes in order. It would be to our great benefit if we listened to these words of wisdom and warning.
  The saints in Nauvoo were warned to accumulate food and supplies a long time before they were driven from Illinois. Those who did not prepare suffered greatly. When they arrived in Utah they were again counseled to set aside a years supply of grain. Those who followed this council faired much better when plagues of crickets and grasshoppers destroyed their crops. Preceding the US Civil War, WWI, the Great Depression and WWII, prophets counseled members of the Church to store a few years worth of grain, and for those looking back there were obvious reasons for this. After these major events the prophets continued to repeat their advise to store what would be necessary to get by for a year. Now I don't feel that this is the place to wax on disasters and catastrophes that will come with the Second Coming, but I do believe that at some point Christ will come again and it has been prophesied in the Bible that before His coming there will be many great wars and disasters. And given this information it would be a really good idea to do what we can to prepare.
  Now no one can argue that I am not a proponent of food storage, in fact I am border-line obsessed. My neighbors, friends, family and co-workers know this about me. I'm ok with it. I use food storage on a very regular basis and try all kinds of experiments. So while I do make good use of my food storage, I haven't really been storing much lately. Since my husband started school again there has been this thought hanging in the background that there is a strong possibility that we will have to move when he is done for whatever job he may acquire and I am very much not interested in accumulating more stuff just so I can move it somewhere. This book however has really instilled an urgency in me that I need to prepare. If there were a crisis I don't think the cosmos would leave me exempt from disaster in fact I have a reputation for drawing more than my share of random chaos from the cosmos because my husband is a college student and it wasn't convenient for me to store a years supply of food. This does not mean that anyone should store more than they are able, but it did make me decide that every week I am going to do something to make my family better prepared. Yes, storing food can be a bit of a sacrifice, but if we show faith and obedience we will be blessed with the peace of mind that comes from preparedness.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from this book:
When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude to live in such a blessed time. --Henry B. Eyring, April 1997

I feel to exhort the brethren, and say to them---lay up bread, do not sell it for a song; let your wives and daughters go for awhile without ribbons and ornaments, let your wheat stay in your bins; let us try to get along with old coats and old hats and keep the wheat, and in a little while you will see the reason why this counsel has been given. Lay up your wheat and other provisions against a day of need, for the day will come when they will be wanted and no mistake about it.--Wilford Woodruff, 1875

More than ever before, we need to learn and apply the principles of economic self-reliance. We do not know when the crisis involving sickness or unemployment may affect our own circumstances. We do know that the Lord has decreed global calamities for the future and has warned and forewarned us to be prepared. For this reason the Brethren have repeatedly stressed a “back to basics” program for temporal and spiritual welfare.--Ezra T. Benson, October 1980

First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession. Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Third, avoid excessive debt. Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life.I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness.--L. Tom Perry, November 1995

Family Preparedness is the key to meeting the needs of family members and is the foundation upon which church preparedness is based.--Victor L. Brown, May 1976

Members should be taught to provide for themselves and their families. That is the Lord's way. When they are caring for their own they are in a better position to help others as the Gospel requires.--Joseph B. Wirthlin, 1988

The Church can not be expected to provide for every one of its millions of members in case of public or personal disaster. It is therefore necessary that each home and family do what they can to resume responsibility for their own hour of need.--James E. Faust, May 1986

You have smart women for wives...We have talented women among us and we need their help in this matter. Some may think it is a trifling thing, but it is not; and you will find that the sisters will be the mainspring of this movement. Give them the benefit of your wisdom and experience, give them your influence, guide and direct them wisely and well, and they will find rooms for the poor, and obtain means for supporting them ten times quicker than even the Bishop could.--Brigham Young, December 1867

Let's do these things because they are right, because they are satisfying and because we are obedient to the counsels of the Lord. In this spirit we will be prepared for most eventualities and the Lord will prosper and comfort us. It is true difficult times will come-- because the Lord has foretold them.--Spencer W. Kimball, November 1977

The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare as boarding the ark was for people in the days of Noah.-- Ezra T. Benson

This book convinced me that becoming prepared is a priority. It was written in 1999, and if it was urgent to gather food storage then, it is even more urgent twelve years later. For anyone who decides to read it, I will say that the first half is a little dry, but keep reading, it becomes more interesting and compelling. This book made me want to accost every family member, friend, neighbor and acquaintance and make sure that they are doing something about food storage. It can not be denied that there are some crazy things going on this world, and the state of affairs could go south quickly if we are not prepared. I would feel better knowing the ones that I love are actively preparing for a possible crisis by having at least a little food set aside.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Preparedness Wednesday: Costco and Inventory

Last weekend when I was at Costco I picked up a food storage items. I got a 45 lb bucket of Lehi Roller Mills white wheat for $12.99 (at 29 cents per pound that is the cheapest that I have EVER seen it), a 3 lb bag of Craisins (there's a $3 off coupon at the front of the store that's good until 1/24/11) for $3.99 and a 5 quart bottle of vegetable oil for $6.29. I read of a man who lived in Germany after WWII, and he said that vegetable oil was the most valuable food item. With it one could acquire nearly any other desirable item. A quart of vegetable oil could trade for 3 bushels of apples or 300lbs of potatoes. It has a long shelf life (he said his lasted for 20 years and still tasted fine), it has a high caloric content and can be used to improve the flavor of many other foods (and non-typical foods such as roots of shrubs and wild plants). He recommended grain as second highest in priority and Craisins are probably the most popular food storage item with Thing 2. So three good food storage items for about $25.
As for the doing this week I took an inventory. Between buying, moving three times and using my food storage in the past two years, I wasn't certain how much I have, and I need to know that before I go crazy purchasing any one item. If you go to this link there is a calculator that can give you a basic idea of how much you need depending on the number of family members and their ages.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thoughts about Vaccinations

Last week it hit the news that the research study that claimed that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism had altered facts and statistics. So the MMR vaccine does not in fact cause autism. Wow, that's embarrassing. Because of the MMR/Autism scare, there are thousands of kids who didn't receive their vaccines, and as a result measles are actually becoming endemic in parts of Great Britain.
 Now I have a few mixed feelings about vaccinations. I believe that vaccinations can be a wonderful thing. Vaccinations have saved millions of lives. However they are not without their faults. If you read the information sheets that come with your vaccinations they list some pretty daunting possible side effects including seizures, neurological problems, permanent brain damage and death. These side effects are very rare and it is more likely that your child will be afflicted by the disease by not getting the vaccine (which for some of the diseases can also lead to neurological problems and death) than that they will be affected by rare severe side effects. Severe side effects are not as common as they once were, as vaccinations have been developed and improved through the years. But those risks are still there and every parents should be aware of them.
  Another thing that many people don't realize is that vaccinations are not 100% prevention. Even if you get all of your vaccinations you can still contract the disease they are trying to prevent, it's just not as likely. I had all of my vaccinations and I still came down with the measles when I was six. It stands out as the most physically miserable experience of my childhood. (I remember having sores every where and feeling too weak to even scratch them. And I remember all of my joints aching like I have never since experienced.) But if most of a population has been vaccinated against a disease, it makes it difficult for the disease to spread. (On a side note because I actually had the measles, my antibody levels against the measles are more than six times what the average immunized person has. I only know this because my doctor's office, high school and county health department all lost the record of my booster shots and I had to lab work done to prove that I have in fact been immunized before they would let me start my first Pediatric nursing job.)
  I personally have had my kids vaccinated for everything except the flu. (Flu vaccines have proven to not go over well in my family, hospitalizing multiple relatives. For us it's easier just to deal with the flu.) It's something that I prayed about long and hard before deciding. I felt that the benefits outweighed the risks. But I can't speak for every parent. Every child is different and their reactions may not be the same. I have an aunt that when she took her daughter into get her standard vaccinations and a strong spiritual experience that told her that she should not get her child vaccinated. No one know what would have happened if she had ignored that prompting, but she didn't and her children have all been remarkably healthy. As a parent it's part of our job to determine what is best for our own children, and if we follow the Lord, He will help us along the way. I believe that for the vast majority of people vaccinations are a great thing and I highly recommend them. They have helped to decrease the incidence of many diseases that have been known to maim and kill untold numbers of children. But if a parent told me that they had prayed about it and strongly felt that their child should not be vaccinated, I would not argue with them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Food Storage Friday: Chicken Enchilada Soup

This is by far my most requested soup recipe by family and friends. It is another recipe that took me awhile to figure out to incorporate food storage in a way that didn't change the taste. A few weeks ago I had a breakthrough. I originally got this recipe from the book 101 Things to Do with a Tortilla, but have made several adjustments to it over the years.

Chicken Enchilada Soup
Food Storage Ingredients:
1 packet enchilada sauce seasoning
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup water
1 6oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup white bean puree
3 cups chicken broth
1 6 oz can diced green chiles
1 Tablespoon canola oil

Fresh Ingredients:
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken breasts
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 corn tortillas
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
tortilla chips and cheese for garnish
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional)

1. Combine first four ingredients and simmer to make enchilada sauce. (See packet for details.) 2. Saute chicken in oil. 3. Add onion and garlic (and pepper) and cook until tender. 4. Add broth, green chiles and enchilada sauce to chicken. 5. Tear tortillas into small (2" square or smaller) and add to soup. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. 6. Add sour cream, beans and cheese and stir until melted. Serve with cheese and tortilla chips.
I love this recipe, and all though it has a fair amount of sour cream and cheese I have to say that I have cut back the saturated fat a great deal from the original with my adjustments. Also I usually use one cup of leftover grilled chicken and a can of cooked chicken. The cheese, enchilada sauce and green chiles overpower any unpleasant taste associated with the canned chicken.  Recently I read in a food storage book where it recommended adding bean flour (ground dried beans) to soups for added protein and fiber. I'm certain that this would work if you don't want to cook and puree your beans, however I'm certain it is more likely to cause gas. This same book supports the idea that you can't live on bread alone, but you can live on bread and soup. I like that idea. If you have several food storage soup recipes on hand (or even just several cans of prepared soup) you can add some bread and feed your family from your food storage without having it be strange or traumatic.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Preparedness Wednesday: Emergency First Aid Supplies

Recently I have been reading a couple of books about food storage and emergency preparedness (which I will discuss in more detail later). Throughout my reading I have decided that each week I am going to a) purchase something that makes me more prepared and b) do something to help put my house in order. (This week  the doing is working an extra shift, which monies will go toward debt, but the purchasing is more interesting.)
 I put together a collection of first aid supplies based on what I know my family regularly uses, what we might use in an emergency and supplies that I often use in the hospital. This list is not all inclusive and it is what I think will meet the needs of my family for a year. But it's a good starting place. (This is in addition to the 5 first aid kits that I have around my house and car.) I listed the generic names and then their more recognized brand name in parenthesis and if the quantity is more than one, I listed it in brackets.
  • 30-second digital thermometer
  • 4" self-adhesive elastic bandage (Ace wrap) [2]
  • calcium carbonate, 24 tablets (Children's Pepto-Bismol)
  • children's ibuprofen,4 oz (Motrin) [2]
  • children's acetaminophen, 4 oz (Tylenol)
  • bismuth subsalicylate, 48 tablets (Pepto-Bismol) [2] 
  • loperamide hydrochloride, 48 tablets (Imodium A-D) [2]
  • added strength pain reliever, 275 tablets (Excedrin)
  • extra strength acetaminophen, 500 tablets (Tylenol 500 mg)
  • ibuprofen, 250 tablets (Motrin) [3]
  • ibuprofen, 180 softgels (Motrin)
  • naproxen, 300 tablets (Aleve)
  • bandage roll guaze, 4 1/2"x 4 yd [2]
  • large guaze pads, 4"x4" [2]
  • 1" adhesive wrap (Coban) [3]
  • 2" adhesive wrap (Coban) 
  • elastic net stretch bandage (Spandage, actually I'm not sure if that's the actual brand name, but that's what we call it at work.)
  • 1st aid cleansing spray, 5 oz (Bactine)
  • bacitracin, 1 oz
  • antibiotic ointment, 1 oz (Neosporin)
  • alcohol swabs, 100
  • hydrogen peroxide, 32 oz [2]
 Since I am not purchasing these for immediate use I was very careful to check the dates on products, the soonest being 09/2012. I bought most of these items at Target, because I have tried several generic brands of children's medicine and this is the one that my kids like best, and it tends to cost less. (I recently discover that they will not take the Western Family ibuprofen.) After I purchased these I did discover that the bacitracin and antibiotic are cheaper at Smith's. I bought a lot more ibuprofen compared to acetaminophen because I have that it is generally more effective for relieving fevers and general aches and pains.
 If you don't already have a separate first aid kit I would recommend adding adhesive bandages, bandage scissors, tweezers, 2x2's, gloves and burn gel. Other good items to have in there are lip balm, plastic spoons and a clean hand towel. Now getting this all at once can be kind of expensive. I spent $140 on the above pictured items, because I had FSA money to burn. Otherwise I would have hesitated to spend that much at once. However, I have seen most of these items for lower prices than I got at Walgreens, but not all at the same time. It's worth watching their ads and building up your first aid items a little at a time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January Giveaway: $85 CSN gift certificate

Let's start the new year with a giveaway. This month's giveaway is provided by CSN stores where you find almost anything under the sun, including modern duvet covers. One lucky winner will receive a $85 gift certificate to use at CSN stores. Here's how to win: Become a follower of Secrets of Mom through GFC and leave a comment. (Old and loyal followers just have to leave a comment.) For an additional entry you can share this giveaway on Facebook.  For two extra entries you can blog about it and leave me a link to the blogpost in the comments. This giveaway runs through January 31, 2011 at 11:59 MST. The winner will be selected using a random number generator. Good Luck. If you live outside of the United States, CSN international shipping rates apply.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Favorite Books of 2010

Favorite Books for Mom
The Hiding Place (Hendrickson Classic Biographies)1. The Hiding Place- This is the amazing story of Corrie Ten Boom in her quest to save Jews in WWII Holland, her survival through the Nazi camps and her determination to see the positive in every situation. My favorite message from this book is "There is no problem so great that the power of Christ is not greater still." This was definitely the best book that I read this year.
2. The Hunger Games Trilogy- These books reminded me of 1984 and Lord of the Flies, but were much more gripping, with a main character who was easier to relate to. The series follows Katniss Evergreen, a 17 year-old girl as she fights to protect her family, friends and neighbors from a superficial and bloodthirsty government. If you haven't read them yet you should.
3.The Help This is the story of young privileged white woman in Mississippi and two black maids. Together they write a book about the realities of households in the 1960's and how black women are treated. In the process they find friendship and learn more about themselves.
4. How Children Learn I recommend this book (or bare minimum my longer review) to anyone who ever interacts with children. "If we show children sincere love and interest their confidence will grow, as will their love of learning. There is no time in all of a child's growing up, when he will not be seriously hurt if he feels that we adults are not interested in what he is trying to say."
5. Slow Fat Triathlete This is book is by an overweight woman who decided to take action, start exercising. Eventually she decided to enter the world of triathlons. She gives lots of practical advice on improving yourself and reaching your goals, even if the world thinks it is unlikely that you will succeed.

Favorite Children's Books
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon1.Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon I love this book and think that everyone should read it to their children. It's about a tiny girl who finds happiness in just being herself.

2. That Book Woman This story honors pack horse librarians who traveled through various kinds of weather on horseback in the Appalachian Mountains so that they could encourage a love of reading in the children who lived there.
3. Jump Into Science: Stars This was another great find from the clearance bin. My kids love this book. It has bright illustrations and teaches them about stars in a way that they can understand.
4. Monsters Eat Whiny Children I think my husband and I enjoyed reading this book more than our kids did. This is a story of two whiny children who are kidnapped to be eaten for lunch. But then they have to endure the whining of several indecisive monsters and eventually escape and turn into two children who whine a little less often. 
5. Snowmen at Christmas My kids and I really enjoy this book. It's a cute story, plus it's fun to find the hidden things on every page. I also love that one of the snowmen moms has "CTR" painted in tiny letters on her hat band.