Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All is Well

Obviously, as we live in Utah, we did not feel the effects of Sandy. We do still own a home in Maryland, and two of our daughters are in school in that general area.

Out tenants are from Idaho, and they were really worried about the storm. They made some smart preparations, for which we are grateful. They tightened up the screen door and secured a loose gutter on the house. Thankfully, they never lost power and it seems the house and the family weathered the storm well.

I received an "all's well" email from one of the sisters at the Aspirancy in Pennsylvania. While monitoring the weather, it looked to me they had some pretty powerful winds in and around Philly. They also survived the storm with no loss of power or damage to the house.

I messaged our oldest daughter throughout the day yesterday. They were without power off and on during the storm, but the school has generators powering hallway and bathroom lights. She was just thankful to have classes cancelled for a couple days. She's been battling tonsillitis and needed a few extra days of rest. Thank you Sandy for that one small blessing,

We do have many friends on the East Coast, and while it seems most faired well, our thoughts and prayers are with those who have severely damaged or lost property. It looks like it could be many months or years before those hardest hit areas recover fully. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cream of Tomato Soup Elevated

Sometimes I post recipes immediately after I've tested them the first time.  I do this so that I don't forget how I made a particular recipe.  This can be a bit of a mistake, especially if I already know I'm going to make improvements upon my original recipe.

Last week I posted my recipe for Cream of Tomato Soup.  I made it with the ingredients I had on hand, and while it was pretty darn yummy, I was already forming improvements in my mind.  I also hated the photo I took, so I really wanted to improve upon that as well.

Please bear with me as I once again post a recipe for Cream of Tomato Soup.

Cream of Tomato Soup Elevated

2 14 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes pureed in a blender or food processor
1 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz plain yogurt (we use goat yogurt due to milk allergies)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 or 5 basil leaves; chiffonade (rolled and cut into ribbons)
2 TBSP sautéed pancetta crumbles
2 TBSP goat cheese crumbles

In a sauce pan bring olive oil and garlic to a sizzle.  Carefully add tomatos, yogurt, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium heat stirring constantly.  Spoon into bowls and top with basil, pancetta, and goat cheese.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} October 24

round button chicken

We have been so busy lately, I haven't had a chance to participate in {P,H,F,R} in quite awhile.  There's nothing like a trip to glorious Yellowstone National Park to motivate the photographer in me to get snapping.


There is no end to the beauties of Yellowstone.  This was my first trip and I was blown away.  We really only saw about 1/4 of what you can see just off the main loop around Yellowstone.
These are the Kepler Cascades.

This is part of the Lower Geyser Basin.  This is a hot spring or pool.

This is part of the Fountain Paint Pots.  Each pool was a different color.

These little dried mud pots truly do look like little caked paint pots.

On a first trip to Yellowstone, Old Faithful is a must stop.

Old Faithful with a rainbow.


The kids were so excited to visit this national treasure.

Most of the fam standing in front of one of the geysers. The kids found the mud pots, hot springs, and geysers fascinating.


Bison roaming free in the park.  They were just wandering alongside the road, grazing and paying absolutely no attention to the gawkers.


Yes, this is our neighborhood this morning.  Yes, it is only October 24th.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Our Insurance Company Has Got to Hate Us by Now

It seems the last two years we have had more than our fair share of medical issues and no one in our family has been unscathed.

Our newest insurance claims are for Oleander, once again, for a knee issue.  She's had x-rays, physical therapy, a consult with an orthopaedic doctor, and an MRI.  So far, all they've discovered is inflammation of the ligaments surrounding her knee and a little fluid under the knee cap.  We are now thinking it may be related to her Lymes diagnosis.

The JayP sprained his ankle during baseball season, but after a little rest he seemed to mend without the need for a visit to the doctor's office.  Unfortunately, while playing a little football he badly sprained his ankle again.  After an x-ray of his foot, the doctor feels he very well may have a fracture of his ankle.  We are awaiting a definitive diagnosis from the radiologist.  Until then, he's gimping around on a boot and using crutches.

I've lost count of the doctors' bills and insurance claims.  It's been a crazy year, and I am thankful we do have fairly decent medical coverage!  I wonder and worry what might happen to the quality and availability of care once Obamacare kicks in.  I do know our Tricare premiums and co-pays were recently raised. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, October 22, 2012


What a great way to start the week; frost on the mountain tops, a teenage son who can drive himself to and from school, Wingnut taking the boys into work with him so that I might have uninterrupted time to work with the girls on their school work, a quick run in the brisk October wind, a nice long nap for Lil' Lamb, a nice long nap for me, a pot of delicious black bean and ham soup on the stove, clean flannel sheets on the bed.  Today I am just thankful to be so abundantly blessed.  Hope you have a blessed week :)
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Run for the Little Flowers Virtual 5K 2012

My dear friend Katie has a heart for orphans and while adoption is not in the picture for her family (right now), she felt the need to do something to help the high needs orphans of China's Little Flower Project.  Katie organized this great virtual run and inspired upwards of 200 people to donate, participate, and raise awareness for this wonderful charity.

CNS ran an awesome story on Katie and her virtual charity run.  You can read it here.

This week, my kiddos and I ran our virtual run in honor of The Little Flower's Project.

This is me on Wednesday.  I ran my run alone and as part of my 10K training program.  I thought a lot on that run about the Project, orphans, abandoned children, and the disabled.  There's a blog post brewing addressing those thoughts.

My four youngest kiddos ran the track on Thursday.  Each of the three older kids ran a mile.

Lil' Lamb ran the .1 mile to finish the 3.1 or 5 K.  He then ran off to play at the park.

Here they are at the end of their run.  Lil' Lamb had no interest in getting his photo finish.  He was busy playing and admiring his medal.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

On Loss

This was my Facebook status on Monday.

October is Infant/Pregnancy Loss and SIDS Awareness month! Let's take some time to remember the babies who were born asleep, or whom we carried but never met, or those we have held but could not take home, or the ones who made it home, but didn't stay. Make this your profile status if you or someone you know has suffered the loss of a baby. The majority of you won't do it because baby loss is still a taboo subject. Break the silence. In memory of all lost angels.

In memory of Josef Cupertino Mayerle (August 2004) and Frances Mayerle (January 2008). 

Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace. Amen.

It was lovely how many of my dear friends supported and liked this status.  It was also lovely and thought provoking to see the several friends who shared their own losses in the comments section.  The loss of a child is a devastating experience, and yet it is often a silent wound that so many of us carry.  Why is it a taboo subject?  

One of my dear friends actually related a story in which she found herself among a group of women who were discussing the loss of a pet and were equating that loss to the the loss of a child.  When she shared that she had lost her precious son to SIDS at just 5 weeks the conversation died completely.  She realized then that she had to be cautious when sharing the deepest grief of her life.

While we can grieve and sympathize with our friends and family that have experienced the death of a pet; a pet is not a human being.  Losing an animal is not even in the same realm as losing a child.  When a child dies, not only do we morn the loss of that life, we morn the loss of the hope and potential of that life. It's a life long grief with constant reminders.  It does ease over time, but it will never dissipate completely.

I guess my point with this post, and it may come across as a little harsh, but do not compare the loss of a pet to the loss of a child, EVER!  If you have never lost a child, don't feel awkward when speaking to someone who has.  You don't need to share your pet story to commiserate.  Just listen.  Give your friend a hug.  Let her know how sorry you are.  Pray for her consolation. Believe me, that is enough.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cream of Tomato Basil Soup

I love cream of anything soup, but it will still be awhile before I can eat dairy due to Lil' Lamb's dairy allergy (ahem, yes he is still nursing and showing no signs of giving it up anytime soon). It was a chilly afternoon yesterday and I was craving tomato soup. I had a can of whole peeled tomatoes in the pantry so I thought I'd go for it and create my own bovine dairy-free version of cream of tomato soup. It turned out pretty yummy. Even the girls had a bowl with me. Best if all, this recipe is only 95 calories per serving, allowing for one to indulge in a super cheesy grilled cheese to go along. I had to skip the grilled cheese, but I did enjoy dipping Wheat Thins into the tangy soup.

Cream of Tomato Basil Soup

28 ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
8 ounces plain goat milk yogurt
1 TBSP olive oil
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Purée tomatoes in a blender. Heat oil and garlic in a sauce pan over medium heat. When garlic begins to sizzle add puréed tomatoes and remaining ingredients and stir together. Heat to a warm simmer, stirring constantly and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve with crumbled goat cheese.

I used what I had on hand, but I think this simple version can be elevated further by using roasted whole tomatoes and fresh basil. I might even top with some browned and crumbled bacon pieces and/or Chipotle Tabasco Sauce.

I took the posted photo without much thought. Seeing it now, I realize I could really use a little work on the food photography. Maybe a good set up with a back drop and better lighting, as well as some nicer looking dishes. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Good Morning, Utah!

There really hasn't been much time to blog, nor much to blog about lately.  I suppose I've hit a patch of writer's block.  I do have some thoughts on the election, a good cause the girls and I are running for, and some photos to post, but those will have to come later this week.

Until then, you might enjoy the beautiful Utah sunrise.  This is the view from our deck.  I don't think it will ever get old. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mixed Blessing

After more than a year and two permits from two different states, The JayP finally has his driver's license.  As any mother of any driving age teenager knows, this is indeed a mixed blessing.  Yes, he can finally drive himself to and from school.  Yes, he can transport himself to any after school activities.  Yes, he can get a job and be responsible for getting himself there and back.  All blessings, indeed. However,  I just can't help but worry too.  I'll worry about his own inexperience behind the wheel.  I'll worry about whether other drivers are safe.  I'll worry about the choices he could make with his new freedom.  These worries are part of the plight of motherhood I was not prepared for.  Saint Christopher, pray for us! Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, October 11, 2012

His Farewell Tour

Lil' Lamb has been a handful from about the time he turned 6 months old.  Wingnut and I both believe he's definitely been our toughest toddler.  It's a good thing he's number 7.  I really don't know if there would have been any other kiddos if he'd been our first.

As tough, demanding, and challenging as he is, he's a really good napper.  Thank heaven for small things!  He loves to go down for his nap and he also loves to go down for the night.  All I have to say are these magic words, "Are you ready to nursie night-night?"  Once uttered, Lil' Lamb becomes this sweet docile little guy that gives everyone a kiss and chants "Good-bye!" as he's carried to the rocking chair in the boys' room.  We fondly call it his farewell tour. Yep, nothing's cuter than a happily sleeping toddler, and no one's happier than the mother of that sleeping toddler.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Call Me Crazy

I have truly missed the wonderful group of Catholic homeschool families we were involved with for the 11 years we lived in Maryland.  Silly, I know, but I'm even still on their mailing list, partly because it works as a prayer chain, and partly because I like to know what they are up to, especially their plans for co-op.  I've missed them so much, I've even begun considering starting up a co-op at our parish.

Thankfully, another opportunity presented itself just a few weeks ago.  My girls are newly involved in a Little Flowers Club that was begun by one of the homeschooling moms in our parish.  After seeing Wingnut Jr.'s disappointment that the club is only for girls, she suggested the boys could start a Blue Knights Club that would meet on the same days and times as Little Flowers.  All she needed was a mom to volunteer to take on leading Blue Knights.  Yup, that's me.  It's really a great alternative to beginning a co-op.  We only meet twice a month for an hour and a half and I only have to prep and teach one class per session as opposed to the two, sometimes three classes I would teach or help out in with our Maryland co-op.  Wingnut Jr. is thrilled.  I might just be a little bit crazy. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Frustrations of Dealing with Government Agencies

Does anyone really believe the government can run business better than the private sector?  I know I sure don't.  Just this morning I've had to deal with two separate government run agencies and their endless rules and ineffeciencies.

Karate Kid has a concussion.  She was treated in an emergency room back east, but she's here in Utah this week.  I wanted her to be checked out by our family doctor in town, but the lovely government run healthcare we receive through Wingnut's VA benefits, will not allow her to see our family doctor.  You see, she's enrolled in Tricare North and has a primary care provider in that region, whom she has never seen and as a result has not established care with her.  Without a referral from this doctor in that region, Karate Kid cannot see our doctor out west.  I can, however, take her to an emergency room here without prior approval.  That's great, except, she may need continuing care or care from a specialist and the emergency room here cannot refer her to a specialist in the East without her getting approval from her primary care provider in the North region.  Welcome to the beautiful bureaucracy of government run healthcare.

The JayP has been eligible to take the driving portion of his driver's license for nearly three weeks and we cannot manage to get an appointment for him.  The lovely Utah DMV is open only Monday-Friday and has the very inconvenient  hours of 8 am to 5 pm.  They stop testing at 4:30.  JayP is in school Monday-Friday from 7:50 to 3 pm, giving us a window of only an hour and a half.  The appointments are booked from now until the end of the world.  Well, it's not quite that bad. I did schedule an appointment 3 weeks ago for next Tuesday.  There is an office about 45 miles from us that isn't quite so bogged down, but it is incredibly inconvenient.  JayP has Friday off from school and so I tried to schedule an appointment with this remote DMV.  Of course, they are closed today.  It's Columbus Day for goodness sake.  I'm sure by tomorrow morning all the available appointments on Friday will be filled.  At least we have the appointment on the 16th.  Good grief.

Wingnut has had the nearly daily frustration of dealing with the VA.  Drudge linked to a story that VA disability claims are backlogged 179% under Obama.  Hooray for government healthcare!  We get letters weekly from the VA apologizing for the uncharacteristic backlog in claims processing.  Well, at least we expected the VA would be inefficient when Wingnut retired.  It's still frustrating and irritating to have to deal with all the bureaucracy, and we are still new to the whole retiree thing.  I don't expect it will get any better over time.  Do you think we'll just learn to be more patient? Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lil' Lamb 20 Months

Lil' Lamb is fast approaching the two year mark.  He changes so quickly and is learning something new almost every day.

He loves his baseball bat and any ball he can find.

He's not super keen on having his photo taken most days.  He's also not keen on getting his face washed.  You'd think I used acid to clean his filthy mug.

You can see the imp's little brain at work.  He's decided he wants my camera.

And this is how he reacts when he doesn't get his way.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Take That! Stupid Scale!

I win. Today the scale is reading the lowest weight I have weighed in years. I'm feeling pretty good :). Plus I got my hair did yesterday. It is the first hair cut I've had since before Lil' Lamb was born. Yup. I'm feeling pretty, too. Print Friendly and PDF