Jul 31, 2011

Easy as Riding a Bike

The Dog Walker was almost 13 the summer he learned to ride a two-wheeler. It was the same summer we tried for the umpteenth time to teach the Drama Queen to ride a bike. She tried her best, but after two or three falls and some nasty scrapes and bruises, she gave up and went in the house. Even the threat of losing her beloved Mustang wasn’t enough to get her to come back outside.

That left just my sweetie, me, and the Dog Walker. Princess was riding up and down the street behind us, making it all look too easy. The Dog Walker was frightened and frustrated. After a dozen trips running beside him, holding onto the seat, and watching him pedal a few feet on his own and then crash, we were all ready to quit. My sweetie used words then that we have repeated many times over the last 7 years… “You’ll never earn all the Merit Badges if you don’t…learn to ride a bike.” Only a year into his goal, the Dog Walker could not stand the thought of failure. He threw himself onto the ground next to his bike and burst into tears. He sobbed for about 5 minutes while my sweetie and I retreated to the porch. We watched him silently for a moment, then offered a fervent prayer. After the tears were gone, he hauled himself up and with a determined look that I have also seen many times over the years, he climbed back on that bike. After two or three more tries and fails, he finally sailed passed us. He had the biggest grin on his face…he was actually riding a bike!

I saw that same determination today. He and my sweetie left the house about 6:30 this morning to head out to the Miller Sportspark. It was the day of the big Charity Run. The Dog Walker was able to raise $177.00 in donations (thanks to all of you who helped with that!) and he was determined to ride the 50 miles required to complete his Cycling Merit Badge. We planned to stagger our arrivals times, thinking that would give him a fresh burst of energy so that he could keep his wheels turning. He hit the track at 8:00, wearing his scout uniform and riding his trusty mountain bike. There were 108 riders, and most of them could easily put in 100 miles. He started out slowly with the first lap taking almost 15 minutes. Apparently the ride wasn’t as flat as we were hoping. My sweetie started to panic, worrying that at that rate he wouldn’t be able to complete 50 miles in the allotted 8 hours.

The next two or three laps were better and by the time I arrived with all the little brothers and sisters at 10:30, he had nearly completed 9 laps. It was a three-mile course, so he was more than halfway done, but it was obvious that he was getting tired. After lap 10, he came in to the pits. He was tired and sweaty, but still determined to make the 50 miles. He had never ridden more than 32 miles in a single day before and the temperature was climbing. We found out later that it got up to 106 degrees!

After a 20-minute break, I sent him back to complete three more rounds. Our plan was for him to break then, ride two more, then break and then finish the last two. After he hit 13, he joined us under the canopy and ate a pb&j and drank a Powerade. “Somebody wants to ride with me…” he said. My sweetie confirmed that he was babbling to himself when he finished the 13th lap and the guys downstairs were worried. The Dog Walker often talks to himself, so we didn’t get too stressed. He headed back to the track.

A nice young woman from the Miller family came by to talk with me. She assured me that they would not shut down the track until my son had completed his goal. When he passed us again, he was riding with someone. By this time, many of the racers had completed their rides and were heading home. We cleaned up our lunch and waited patiently for him to pass by again. It was lap 15 and time for his last break. After a while, I started getting nervous. I walked down the stairs to the pit and found the woman who had spoken with me before. “Oh don’t worry,” she said. “Roger is with him. He’ll be fine.” Roger was one of the owners of the Sportspark. Apparently they had already come in for their last break and we had missed them. He only had a lap and a half left to go!

We quickly cleaned up the rest of our stuff. Prima Donna had made little signs that we held up as he passed by for the last time. Then we stowed the remains of lunch and the stroller in the van and headed for the finish line. By the time we got there he had about a half of a lap left. Our friendly young woman said, “The Miller Racing Team has gone out to escort him the rest of the way in.” The kids were SOO excited. We waited for a few minutes and then moved onto the track. The racing team came in first (veeery slooowly) and the Dog Walker came around the last turn. Everybody on the track was cheering and shouting for him. Even from a distance I could see that look in his eye, that determination…and finally, as he sprinted on his bike that last 50 yards, the big grin! Only three more badges to go…

Jul 30, 2011


Picture Credit- This is NOT us!
We took the kids to see MegaMind at the Movie in the Park tonight. I know, I’m not sure why. We had to gather half a dozen blankets that I just finally finished washing from our last camping trip, a couple of chairs, five packages of microwave popcorn (cooked of course), popcorn sacks, a bag full of drinks, and a 2-liter bottle of Diet Cherry Pepsi. Oh and I grabbed a jar of baby food for Baby Doll since she slept through supper. All that so we could sit on the grass, be eaten by mosquitoes, and walk a hundred yards to the bathroom to watch a movie that we HAVE AT HOME!

Teach & Dog Walker- Building a snowman
OK, done venting. It was fun anyway…on the way back to the van we saw fireworks popping and it reminded me that I wanted to tell you about fireworks before the month of July is over. You all know by now that the Dog Walker is autistic. A typical trait of autistics is that they hate loud noises and they hate flashing lights. Emergency vehicles at a parade…bright lights at a ballgame…but mostly fireworks. We found this out the hard way. When the Dog Walker was about 3 ½ we took him to the huge fireworks show that they put on downtown for the 24th of July which is our bonus holiday in Utah dedicated to the pioneers. They set these off at Liberty Park and they allow the audience to get pretty close to the action. In fact, we were allowed to camp out in the middle of one of the streets surrounding the park. It was me, my sweetie, my brother (Japan), Grandpa, Bossy, Gym Rat, Drama Queen, and Teach. We also had the Dog Walker and baby Princess. The year was 1997.

We were slow getting there and we got caught in traffic. There were tons of people all making their way toward the park. Since we were downtown, I had this uncomfortable fear of losing one of the children to some scary stranger. I carried Princess in my arms and held tightly to the Dog Walker’s hand. Each adult was assigned to a child per my instructions. We finally got to a spot that Japan found acceptable and spread our blankets out on the blacktop. It was starting to get dark, so we made every effort to make the kids comfortable while we waited the last few minutes for the fireworks to begin.

Olympic Fireworks (pic credit)
The Dog Walker was all over the blanket. He didn’t like strangers. He hardly spoke at all then and we were still years from an official diagnosis. As it got darker, he snuggled up closer to me. Then the fireworks started. With the very first boom he screamed. It only got worse from there. The popping lights and the loud noises were more than he could take. He threw the worst fit we had ever seen from him. The baby started crying and I handed her to my sweetie. I pinned the Dog Walker’s thrashing body beneath mine as I whispered soothing words into his ear. About that time one of the girls decided she had to go to the bathroom. Never had I done this before, but I responded sharply, “Then just go!” Dealing with wet underwear on the way home couldn’t be any worse than what I was dealing with at that moment. Eventually he calmed down and fell asleep, which posed a whole new set of problems in getting to our car. We never took him back to the fireworks downtown, and even when the Olympics came to town and we were down there, we left before they started.

On the 4th of July we would stop at least a mile from the park in a grocery store parking lot. The kids would spread their blankets on the ground and the Dog Walker would sit in the van with his hands over his ears and his eyes tightly closed. That went on until he was about 12 or 13. When we did them at our house he would stand inside and watch them out the window. We had to throw away all the screamers. Gradually he came to mostly love fireworks as long as he believes no one is in any danger. He is nearly 18 and he lit off his first one this summer. Thankfully, some things do change.

Jul 29, 2011

Food for Thought - French Toast

I've told you before that my mom and dad raised 8 kids on a teacher's salary. Mom was always SO careful with money. We had a farm, so that meant fresh milk and eggs. Mom made her own bread, so that was always plentiful. It was only natural that French Toast was part of our diet. Mom made hot breakfasts five days a week, Monday through Friday and the breakfasts were pretty set. We had eggs one day, pancakes one day, French toast one day, mush one day...(I just skipped breakfast on mush day)...you get the idea. Mom made good French Toast, but I had never really appreciated French Toast until my sweetie made it for me! He uses four or five loaves of bread and three dozen eggs, so cut down the recipe for your family. We like to eat it cold after church since it is pretty much a Sunday morning thing. I think the key is really the cinnamon and that extra dash of sugar. I have always loved jam on French Toast, but some of my kids prefer syrup. And get this, my sweetie eats his smothered in applesauce! I hope you enjoy it. Leave me a comment and let me know.

French Toast

butter (for griddle)
3 dozen eggs
2 pinches of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar 
3 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
4 or 5 loaves of white bread

Beat eggs well, then beat them some more.

Add salt and milk. Beat. Add cinnamon while beating and then beat fast for a minute or so to get the cinnamon stirred in.

Dip bread and cook on buttered griddle.

Flip and cook the second side until golden brown.  Butter griddle between each batch.  Enjoy!

Jul 28, 2011

Six Seconds of Confusion

This is Curly, but pretend it's somebody else's kid.
You ever look down and realize that the child hanging on your leg is not your own? You’ve heard of “Babe Magnets…” well, I’m a “Baby Magnet”! It happens to me at least once a month. Usually it’s in a crowded place like a grocery store, the library, or maybe the park. My kids will be wandering around, ignoring me for the most part. Then I feel it…that little arm wrapped around my thigh, or my personal favorite…the lean. A small head just above my knee. None of this bothers me until that little person looks up at me and after about six seconds of confusion, usually it begins to scream, then run. Not that I’m THAT scary.

Then there are the times when I’m the one who makes the mistake. Like last Sunday at church; Baby Doll and I were wandering the halls because she doesn’t like Sunday School class. We rounded the corner and headed down the long hallway. Just up ahead I saw a beautiful little girl in a short flowered sundress with a white t-shirt beneath it. She had on black stilettos and her blond head was bent over her scriptures. I walked toward her for about 20 feet before I realized that it was not my Princess. I was so startled by the resemblance that I even said something to her about it as I strolled by. She glanced up at me and again I got the six seconds of confusion. Thank goodness she was a little too old to do the scream and run thing at the church although for a minute I thought she just might.

So last night we had Pack Meeting for Sport and Bean Dip’s Cub Scout group. My sweetie happens to be the Cubmaster, so at our house it is a big huge hairy deal. He spent the whole weekend designing a rocket launcher that would send 2-liter bottles a couple hundred feet into the air. We had about a dozen cub scouts and their parents and little brothers and sisters. I know bottle rockets are cool (at least for 8-year-olds and their dads), but I and the rest of the moms were just chillin’ out in the pavilion waiting for them to finish up.

Since Bean Dip also attends scouts with us, Bossy and Gamer were there with their boys. As usual, Gamer was teasing my girls and visiting with the neighbors. One of his favorite things to do to the kids (especially Princess and Curly) is to ruffle up their hair. He likes to run his fingers through Curly’s because it’s kind of like petting a woolly little lamb. Princess he torments because she cares what her hair looks like even in front of a bunch of 8-year-olds (as long as they are boys!).

My cute blond neighbor, Angie, and I were talking about our kids (she has six!) and the blog. We were straddling the picnic benches and I was keeping an eye on the action on the field and she had her back to everyone else. (I guess watching a 2-liter bottle sail up in the air 25 times gets a little boring after a while.) Suddenly, and without warning, Gamer slipped up behind her and ruffled her hair! Then he put his hands on her shoulders and turned her around so he could laugh at her…except that when he realized she wasn’t Princess…I’m not sure who was more surprised, my friend or my SIL. After the six seconds of confusion (from all three of us), I think he was ready to scream and run, but all he could do was apologize…over…and over…and over….

Jul 27, 2011

She Speaks

Thank you so much for all of your kind comments on yesterday’s post! My writer’s block seems to have disappeared and I want to apologize to Teach. She felt bad yesterday about the off-hand comment she made about nobody caring if I posted or not. She just meant that maybe no one would notice if I took a day off here and there, not that I should quit writing because no one was listening.

My biggest fear about missing a day or two is that I might never come back. I have precedence for that…I used to be a journal writer with plenty to say. I started when I was in 6th grade and never missed a day until after I was married and my first child was born. Then I missed one here or there and pretty soon I was only writing when I had a new baby. Sadly, I didn’t even manage to get all of their births down. So I’m trying to turn over a new leaf, but sometimes just getting the words out doesn’t come easily.

Today was Scout’s Kindergarten Orientation. We showed up at the elementary school bright and early for Scout (just after 10:00). She was excited but a little nervous. I was counting how many times I had done this before. (I’m in to double digits now.) Whenever I start thinking those sorts of thoughts I try to remember that this is the FIRST time I’ve ever done it with Scout. Her new teacher happens to be one of my good volleyball friends, so I know her well. Even though there were lots of kids and their parents wandering around the classroom, Scout’s teacher sought us out immediately. She had on a happy smile and after greeting me, she said “hello” to Scout. I don’t think she got the reception she was expecting, because Scout stared at the floor and refused to say anything.

This is certainly not the first time her mouth has quit working. Just this past Sunday she was assigned to give a talk in Primary. She worked all morning drawing pictures to go with the fun pioneer story we had pulled from our own family history. She practiced the words and held up her pictures. When we got to the Primary room, she asked my sweetie to be her helper. He had a piece of gum in his pocket as a prize for her hard work.

When it was her turn, she walked calmly to the pulpit. I’m pretty sure she never had any intentions of saying anything, but my sweetie didn’t see it coming. He stood behind her and whispered the words into her ear. She glanced at the handful of kids and half a dozen teachers in the audience. My sweetie continued to whisper louder in her ear, but nothing was coming out of her mouth. He looked up helplessly and I shrugged my shoulders. Then he gave the talk for her. She smiled at the audience when it was over and marched triumphantly to her seat. I have to admit it was a great talk, my sweetie can tell an amazing story as you all know. When we got out in the hall, he popped the piece of gum into his mouth. He’d earned it!

Last year Scout attended a neighborhood preschool. She knew her teacher well. Four of her siblings had attended the same preschool and all of my children had learned to swim from this same teacher. Yet as soon as school started, Scout clammed up and wouldn’t say a thing. Finally, in January, I took her out with the rest of the girls to sell Girl Scout cookies. We sent her to ring the doorbell by herself. Selling the cookies was important to her. I knew this was our opportunity and so did her teacher. She refused to buy any until she had a real conversation with Scout. Three boxes of cookies later, they were chatting like old friends. I assumed our problem (at preschool anyway) had been solved.

Several months passed and Curly, Baby Doll and I attended preschool graduation. The graduates were sitting in chairs all in a row. Scout said something to Curly across the room and the little girl next to her turned in her chair. She looked at Scout incredulously, “You talk?!” Scout just smiled. She never had any intentions of saying anything. Too bad I didn’t have a piece of gum.

Jul 26, 2011

Does Anybody Care?

***If you are looking for my normally happy self, please skip today’s post. Maybe I’ve been reading a little too much of Shell’s Pour My Heart Out stuff…well, see what you think.***

I don’t know why I’m suffering from Writer’s Block this week. I generally have plenty to say. Teach just came in from hanging out with her friends and asked if I wanted pics put on my post yet. When I told her I was having issues, she said, “Don’t write one. Nobody will care anyway!” Just shoot me now. Is this really true? Am I really only writing this for myself?

Once upon a time I thought I would grow up and become a mom and a famous writer. That’s because when I was in third grade, I wrote a 9-page story that impressed my teacher so much that I knew this writing thing was a piece of cake. I majored in English and eventually got my MA in Literature. What could be more perfect? My thesis was published in a nice hard-bound book and as a bonus I had a paper published in a scholarly magazine put out by BYU.
Picture credit

I just knew I was ready to take the world by storm and become the JK Rowling of my generation. So I wrote a few short pieces, some children’s books, a magazine article or two. The problem was, nobody was buying. I finally sold a story about my grandmother to the Friend, a children’s magazine put out by the LDS church. I was so excited to see it published. Every month I looked from cover to cover, hoping to see my name in print. After about five years, I stopped looking. Clearly my story had been put on a shelf somewhere and even though I received a check for a couple hundred bucks, it was never going to be published.
Picture credit

Frustrated, I decided that maybe it was the genre. I switched to youth fiction and completed my first novel. I even paid an agent this time! I was sure that everything would finally go my way. After two years, I gave up and released my agent. Maybe writing wasn’t really my destiny after all.

Slowly the dreams slipped away as I immersed myself in motherhood. Every once in a while I would take a chance on a contest, just to prove to myself that I still loved writing. I had a piece published in the Deseret News and another one in a Chicken Soup book. As far as I can tell, no one except my family ever read either one of them.

Now I’m trying yet another genre. Blogging has been my friend from Day 1. You have been my friend. Everyone has been so kind to me, so supportive. I love the blogging world because no one is judging me (at least not that I see) and almost everybody is polite and friendly. I hope I’m not just writing for myself…Teach, you’ve got to be wrong. Please, somebody tell me she is wrong.

Jul 25, 2011

First Day of School

Drama Queen and Teach
I’m pretty sure I mentioned already that we are almost done with summer vacation. Sadly, my three elementary-aged kids go back to school tomorrow. Well, actually, Scout is starting Kindergarten, so she only has orientation tomorrow and doesn’t officially start school until next week. But Crafty and Scout head back tomorrow.
Gym Rat, Drama Queen, and Bossy
Year-round school has been interesting. Bossy and the Gym Rat started school in a Montessori School, so they were on traditional for a short time…other than that, all of my parenting has been around a ten weeks on, three weeks off schedule. When my oldest kids first started school, we were on C-track, but after we moved to our current home we have always been on A. (Except for the Dog Walker who was always on D-track because that includes the Special Needs kids.)

That means my kids start school the last week in July, but they get out the second week in June instead of the first week in July. So we are one of two tracks that actually gets a little bit of summer vacation rather than just three weeks off in July. It’s hard to cram in all of the summer activities that needs to be done! We have to have swimming lessons, a chance to camp and fish, the July holidays, of course, and a little vacation is always nice. The years we had kids on two different tracks were tricky to plan anything.

Dog Walker
The other downside to year-round school is that the kids have to have two wardrobes for back-to-school. Instead of cute jeans and hoodies, they need shorts and t-shirts when they start. Then, in October, after their first off-track, they think they need a new warmer wardrobe. It’s nice to have a break though. The September off-track usually comes about a month after my older kids have started school. I’m about burned out by then and not having to worry about homework for the little kids is a welcome relief.
Prima Donna and Princess
Their second break comes right after Christmas and they normally stay home most of the month of January. I’m not a big fan of the winter months. I used to get so depressed…trying to lose weight after the holidays, no sunshine, cold and wet, and just to force me to re-evaluate things, my birthday happens to show up about then. Having the younger kids home has been a welcome distraction and the Christmas holidays just continue right on in to January (except that we throw the tree out the day after Christmas…another post for another time).

Crafty and Sport
It’s kind of funny, I was having a bit of writer’s block and I couldn’t seem to settle on a subject, so I asked Teach to just choose some random pics for me and I would write around them. We have this tradition of taking a picture of the kids just before they head out the door on the first day of school. She must have gone through a bunch of baby books or something to find all of these pictures because they are from several different years. Lots of my kids look alike, so make sure you read the captions although the clothing might give away some of the older ones. I hope you all enjoy a nice August off, but for me it’s goodbye summer, hello homework!

Jul 24, 2011

Pioneer Day

Living in Utah has certain advantages…like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (I saw them in concert last night and it was amazing!). We have the Great Salt Lake, which is beautiful, even if you wouldn’t want to swim in it. We also have Zion’s National Park, Moab, Capitol Reef…hundreds of square miles of beautiful country (if you can avoid the road construction to get there…). But one of the coolest things we have is an extra holiday in July!

July 24th marks the anniversary of the pioneer saints entering the Salt Lake valley and Brigham Young announcing, “This is the place!” We celebrate with a big parade downtown and a world class rodeo (which I have only attended once in my life when a neighbor offered us free tickets). Many companies give employees the day off, but not the one my sweetie works for. This year the 24th falls on a Sunday, so the parade and other festivities are being held on the 25th. My sweetie and I were both born and raised in Utah and we have pioneers in every line of our family.  In an effort to honor our ancestry, I’d like to tell you a little about one of them.
Picture credit

It was 1862 in Mt. Pleasant, Utah.  Little Eliza Jane was 18 months old and she liked to follow her daddy, Nathan Staker into the orchard when he went to work.  This worried her mom because there was a large ditch that ran close by (I’m sorry, I told you before that I had shared all my drowning stories, but I found one more). One day after lunch Eliza Jane was missing.  They looked everywhere for her.  Finally someone thought of the ditch.  She was there, floating in the water wedged against the dam.  She had been missing for over an hour and nothing could revive her.
Picture credit

Her grieving parents decided to send for Elder Orson Hyde who lived 5 miles away in Spring City.  When Elder Hyde got there, he looked at Eliza Jane’s little body.  She had no pulse and no heartbeat.  Her body was getting cold.  He told the Stakers, “She is dead and it isn’t pleasing in the sight of the Lord that we should try to bring back our dead after He has called them home.”  Her dad said that he always tried to do what the Lord wanted, but that she was promised in her blessing that she would grow to womanhood and become a mother in Israel.  “In that case,” said Elder Hyde, “I will ask God to restore your little girl to life again.” It wasn’t long before Eliza’s little body was once again warm and pink. Eliza Jane lived to bear 13 children (I told you it runs in the family!).

Dog Walker and Teach pretending to be pioneers
There are so many amazing stories like this one written in our old family journals and histories. I believe in miracles! I know when Princess drowned it wasn’t quite as dramatic as her being in the water for over an hour, but it was a miracle just the same. I promise not to stay on my soapbox for too long…but you really should read up on some of your family history. I’m sure you could find some amazing stories of your own! That’s part of the reason I started this blog. I want to remember the funny, silly, day-to-day stuff that is lost (like the king doesn’t have to wear pants!) unless someone takes the time to write it down. Do me a favor…take a minute and write down something fun that happened this summer. Make it like a school assignment. Just save it in a file somewhere on your computer and call the folder “Family History.” If you do that once a week, even a few lines, someday you will be so glad you did. It’s been a little over six months since we started this blog and just looking back is so much fun! Just do it … (I sound like Nike)…become a historian for the next generation.

Jul 23, 2011

Firefighter's Museum

It’s really hard to do anything spontaneous around our house! My sweetie talks about how difficult it is to turn a big ship…that’s about how hard it is to switch directions and do something different around here. So it’s my last Friday morning to sleep in since Crafty, Sport, and Scout start school next week! I know, crazy, huh?! It’s because we are on year-round school here.

Anyway, after I rolled out of bed somewhere around 10:30 (shh…don’t tell), I decided maybe we ought to have one last hoo-rah for summer. After consulting with my sweetie, I shouted, “Field Trip!” to anyone within earshot and then I started pulling on my clothes. Five minutes later, I had everyone gathering, dressing, and making lunches. It took us about 35 minutes from the time my brain kicked in until we were loaded in the van and ready to go. Teach had to work, so sadly, she stayed behind…again…

We headed west to Tooele, where they have the Firefighter’s Museum. Even though my best friend worked hard to help set up this museum because her dad was an amazing firefighter, I have never had the opportunity to visit it. Maybe that’s because it’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 – 3:00. It took us about 45 minutes to get there. We unloaded the kids and the stroller and since there weren’t any other cars in the lot, I sent the Drama Queen to the door. She came back with a puzzled look on her face. “What’s the matter?” I asked as I settled Baby Doll into the stroller. “It’s closed due to illness…” she said. I was not happy with this turn of events, especially with the price of gas. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I suggested hopefully. She shook her head. “Nope!”

I pulled out my cell and called Bossy. They were a couple of miles behind us and were trying to find the turnoff. “Don’t bother,” I complained. “It’s closed due to illness.” “Are you kidding me?” Clearly her response was the same as mine. “I knew we should have called the number.” I guess I hadn’t read the paperwork very well because now it was my turn to be confused. “What number?” I asked hopefully as I began digging for my paper. Sure enough, there was a number for someone named Dave. I said goodbye to Bossy and punched the number into my cell. After 4 or 5 rings, Dave answered the phone. He asked me about my group, how many there were and what ages. After a minute or two he suggested that I try the door to the museum. He had opened it for me remotely. He cautioned me against letting the kids climb onto any of the vehicles except Grantsville One. He told me how to work the movie, and asked me to shut the doors tightly when we left. I couldn’t believe it! We had total freedom at the museum. I thought this kind of trust left with the ‘50s.

We wandered around for an hour or so, took pictures, and watched the movie. I saw my friend’s name on the “thank you” wall and we spotted her dad’s equipment in a display case. When we were ready to leave, I left a nice note for the curator and we carefully closed the doors. Who says you can’t do something spontaneously?! That curator did…he let in a group of 14 people after a simple phone conversation, and he made our day. Thanks, Dave!

Jul 22, 2011

Food for Thought - Sparkling Strawberry Jello

I’m from Utah, so you knew it was only a matter of time before you got a Jello recipe! The Dog Walker has been dying to get this one posted for over a week now. I think he really just wants to eat the Jello, but I’m not complaining since he made it himself. He also took the pics himself on his cell phone, so sorry that they aren’t very good.

I took this first pic from our camping trip on my phone of Curly that I really wanted to share with you, but it doesn’t have anything to do with this post. My sweetie grew up in small-town Utah just like me only not the same town, one down the road about 14 miles. His dad was a plumber and sometimes they were rolling in money and sometimes not. My sweetie remembers a few times when they lived mostly like squirrels, eating whatever they had stored up for winter. He says they ate potatoes and apple and carrot salad over and over and over…. When we go to Chick Fil A he likes to buy a little cup of it, just to reminisce about his childhood.

This recipe I’m sharing today is not the apple and carrot one, although you might like it too. It is a recipe they ate during good times. I’d never had it until after I was married, but when we googled the recipe (just for fun), we found about 30 different versions of it. Since my sweetie is diabetic, we use sugar-free soda and sugar-free Jello to make it a little more healthy, but it can be done either way. This recipe makes a full 9x13 pan, so you might want to cut it in half if you have a smaller family. My family can devour the entire thing at one meal. I hope you enjoy it! Leave me a comment and let me know.

Sparkling Strawberry Jello

32 oz of applesauce (30 will do if you have two 15-oz cans)
2 12-oz cans of cold Sprite, 7-up or lemon-lime soda
2 large boxes of red Jello (strawberry is best)
sliced strawberries (if desired)
whipped cream for garnish

Pour the applesauce into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 4 minutes. Stir. Then heat for 4 more minutes.

Pour the boxes of Jello over the applesauce and mix well. Microwave for 2 more minutes. (Please note that this recipe does NOT use any water. I was a bit confused by that the first time I made it.)

Add two cans of cold lemon-lime soda. Mix well. Stir in 2 lbs of sliced strawberries if desired. (We usually add the berries, but the Dog Walker couldn’t wait for me to go to the store.)

Chill for a couple of hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Jul 21, 2011

Kienbock's Disease

I think I’ve told you before that my amazingly cool autistic son, the Dog Walker is trying to earn ALL the Merit Badges. It’s been a crazy ride for the last 6 years. We are down to only 7 left and he will pass off one more this afternoon. One of the most difficult ones for him has been Water Sports. We are not boat people. We have always enjoyed our fishing from the shore on nice stable ground. The kids have been boating several times with the neighbors and they all seem to love it! We have one particular neighbor who has been kind enough to take the kids out several times. He lets them go tubing and he has tried his best to teach the Dog Walker to water ski. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the Dog Walker is a big kid. If he had learned to use the skis when he was 8, he probably wouldn’t have any trouble getting up on them…but trying to learn when you are 16 and 300 pounds is much more difficult.

To make things even worse, the Dog Walker suffers from something called Kienbock’s Disease. That means that one of the bones in his lower arm is longer than it should be, effectively choking off and killing one of the smaller bones in his wrist. We discovered this disorder when he was 16. He was just finishing up his last and most successful (by a long shot) season of pee-wee football. He had been playing Center and without any specific injury, his wrist started to hurt. We figured once football was over, that his wrist would return to normal, but it didn’t.

He complained of random pain all through November and December. In January, his church friends joined a basketball team and invited him to play. He agreed, but each week the pain got progressively worse. By the end of the basketball season, he could hardly dribble the ball. It was time to see a doctor…then a specialist. The diagnosis was made and after several weeks (so he could finish the Scuba Diving badge), they put him in a cast. Nothing was broken, but the cast would give it a couple of months to rest. Then hopefully the swelling would go down and we could avoid surgery that might not work. If the tiny bone collapsed, his wrists would have to be permanently fused. The problem with the surgery was that the doctor would have to go in and shorten that bone which may or may not solve the problem. And if he made a tiny mistake, the surgery could also force him to permanently fuse the wrist. None of the recommended procedures were guaranteed.

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The Dog Walker was born with the extra length in his bone and it was likely that the pushups from football made the problem flare up. The doctor recommended no more football. We were crushed! We all had high hopes of him playing on our amazing high school team. Instead he joined the Marching Band (but that’s a subject for a different post). He wore the cast for six weeks and then a partial cast for six more. When he finally took the cast off, his pain had mostly disappeared. Not that the disorder is gone. He may never be able to do pushups again and he has to be careful when he works out in the gym, but so far, so good.

Just yesterday he passed off one of the Merit Badges that we were particularly worried about, Climbing. They managed it in a climbing gym with the Gym Rat doing the belaying. Now the Dog Walker only has three physically challenging ones left, Backpacking, Water Sports, and Cycling. For Cycling, he is taking advantage of an inaugural program at the Miller Motorsports Park here in Utah. They are allowing cyclists who raise at least $150.00 for their charities to ride as many miles as they want on their 3-mile racetrack that is used for car races. The Dog Walker is so excited! The final requirement for the Cycling badge is a 50-miler! We are excited because he will be able to ride in a safe environment with many people around to act as his support team (since none of us are really capable of riding 50 miles with him).

If you would like to help him reach his goal of $150.00 before the race next Saturday, please click on this link. He is still some short, but hopeful. Any little amount will help. Pretend you can’t see my last name on his page…remember, we are still trying to be just a tiny bit incognito. Thanks!