December 23, 2008

Chicken and Tortellini Soup

I'm always excited when I find a recipe that a) is easy to throw together in a few minutes with ingredients I have on hand, and b) my family will actually eat.

And I'm always happy to share them with you! So, here is what I made last night. It was raining, so I was in the mood for soup, but something different than the old stand-bys. And since it was getting late, I looked in my pantry and freezer for what I could throw together, and here is what I came up with. Everyone seemed to like it.


- diced onion: I didn't have an onion on hand, but I always have dried minced onion, which works just fine for something like this. Jay doesn't like onions, so I usually use the dried ones because he doesn't notice them, but we get the flavor.

- minced garlic: I love fresh garlic, so I always have it on hand. I used 3 cloves. Use whatever amount you like. If you don't have fresh garlic, use garlic powder.

- olive oil: just enough to saute the onion and garlic for a minute.

- chicken, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces: I had some leftover pre-cooked, sliced chicken with herbs in my freezer (about 1 cup) which was perfect. If I had used plain chicken, I would have added some italian herbs to the soup. Use more or less chicken depending on your preference.

- 1 can cream of chicken soup: I usually keep a can of this in my pantry, but if I hadn't had it I would have used some sour cream.

- approx. 4 c. water or chicken broth: I used water, and then threw in some chicken soup base.

- frozen chopped spinach: Trader's Joe's is really good. I used about half of a 1 lb. bag.

- cheese tortellini (dry): Again, TJ's is really good. I used about half of a 16 oz. bag.

- mushrooms, sliced: Fresh would have been best, of course, but I didn't have any. I usually have a small can of mushrooms in my pantry, which would have been about right, but I didn't have any yesterday. I did have some dried wild mushrooms in my cupboard though. I used about 1/3 c. dried mushrooms, rehydrated them in about 2/3 c. water, and threw the whole things in.

- parmesan cheese: I buy a huge hunk of this at Sam's Club, grate the whole thing in my food processor with the small grater attachment, and freeze it in small sandwich bags. I just pull a bag out of my freezer as needed. I use it on practically everything! I used about 1/3 cup for the soup.

- salt and pepper to taste

- Jay wanted it thicker, so I made a slurry of flour and milk, and stirred a little in, very gradually, until it looked right.

Serve with any good bread.

December 18, 2008

Sheraton Auction

Jay and I attended a Christmas party at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown last night. It was lovely, as usual. If you want to enjoy a nice weekend there, you might consider bidding on this weekend package for two as part of the Latte-versary in support of NieRecovery.

But hurry.... the auction ends tonight at midnight Arizona time.


Christian was in town for just about 24 hours to take care of some things. He looks good and seems to be in good spirits. He was especially happy to be without the back brace he has had to wear for the last four months!

Today I spent most of the day baking dinner rolls for my nephew's Eagle Scout project (providing Christmas dinner for 15 needy families.... and no, I wasn't the only one making rolls) and cinnamon rolls. My house smells so good! I really enjoy baking... wish I had more time to do it.

Tomorrow is the last day of school (1/2 day) before Christmas break. I'm looking forward to having some fun with my kids.

December 16, 2008

Pink Grapefruit

Every time I get a coupon for Bath & Body Works, I can't resist using it. I love anything that smells good!

Several years ago, I discovered Pink Grapefruit from their signature collection. It was love at first sight... I mean sniff. It's sweet and fresh and makes me happy! I bought every product in that scent.

Sadly, they have discontinued it. Fortunately, a friend warned me, so I was able to stock up before it was gone. Since I don't like any of the other "pink grapefruit" scented products I have found from other companies, I will have to make my stash last until Bath & Body Works decides to bring it back.

They will bring it back, won't they?

P.S. I just noticed that my second-favorite scent from B&BW, "Tropical Passionfruit," seems to have disappeared too! Yikes! At least they still have my third-favorite, "Mango Mandarin." Can you tell I'm a "fruity" person? By the way, I love to EAT pink grapefruit too.... the fruit, not the lotion.

"Kipper the Dog"

When Collin was a toddler, we discovered "Kipper the Dog." We all fell in love! I bought a bunch of video tapes, which have been well-used as each additional child fell in love with Kipper too. I frequently found myself sitting down to watch with them, because they are just so cute and sweet.

As we got ready for our garage sale last month, I pulled the old "Kipper the Dog" videos out of the back of the closet. My kids hadn't watched them for a couple of years (sadly, I don't have a toddler anymore), so I added them to the pile of stuff to sell.

When my kids (9, 7, and almost 5) discovered what was to be the fate of these tapes, they about cried, and begged me not to sell them. I actually felt relieved, for I hadn't wanted to sell them either; I discovered I had quite an attachment to them. The next thing I knew, my kids sat down and watched them all (each one is only about 30 minutes). I heard them in fits of giggles and just had to join them.

So, those old video tapes remain on the shelf with the DVD's. And I guess they always will.

Someday, maybe my grandchildren will fall in love with "Kipper the Dog" too.
On Saturday, my little singing group had their performance. It was much more low-key than in the past, which means less-stressful. It turned out really cute. The kids did a great job!

"Son of Rambow"

A couple of weeks ago, Jay and I watched this delightfully quirky film. We really enjoyed it. I laughed and cried. The two boys who star in it will steal your heart!

*Caveat: We watched it with ClearPlay. It's rated PG-13 for language and violence, mostly because it includes some scenes from the film "First Blood."

December 12, 2008


Collin and Mary like to spell things when they are emphasizing a point. Jack likes to do the same... even though he doesn't know how to spell. For example:

Jack: (yelling) I AM BORED!

Mom: Well....

Jack: C-E-K !

Mom: (laughing) What?

Jack: (still yelling) WHAT DOES C-E-K MEAN?

Mom: (still laughing)


Mom: (I can't do anything but laugh)

Jack: (in a normal voice) A-O-A-A-K means I am bored, OK?

Mom: (trying not to laugh) OK.

Jack: That means I want to play with some of my friends. OK? OK? OK?

Mom: OK!

December 11, 2008

What do you think?

In case you missed this on CJane's blog......

"From Nie Reader Jolleen-

Channel 3 is having a vote right now to see who the top AZ story of 2008 is. Although they did not list Stephanie and Christians' story (not only the accident, but the story after it), I think they should have! If they pick it up and it wins, maybe it will continue to get coverage and continued support! (Channel 3 and their website have had a few segments/articles about them already.)
So, why not ask Nie supporters to email, and tell them their vote for the most unforgettable story of 2008 is Stephanie and Christian Nielson and their amazing road toward recovery. As well as the vote, add a comment about how we think the most Unforgettable Story of 2008 should be one that personally touches so many people and spans across such broad aspects of life: death, tragedy, family, fear, faith, technology (blogs), community, medical miracles, service for strangers, a world praying for and donating to a family they have never met, and LOVE."

December 09, 2008

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas

Well, it's that time of year.... busy, busy, busy. So, yes, I haven't had much time to blog. But here's an update.

Our little dinner party the week before Thanksgiving went well. It was supposed to be at my house, but at the last minute my mom offered to let us have it at her house because they were going out of town. Her house is much better for parties, so it turned out great (and since I only live 1.5 miles away, it's convenient). We had a lovely dinner of garlic chicken with mushrooms, roasted potatoes, green beans, salad, and rolls, with Pumpkin Crunch for dessert. (I will post some recipes later.)

Our ward boundaries were realigned in November and so our ward grew quite a bit. Jay was called to be the executive secretary and has been busy setting up appointments with all the new families, plus tithing settlement.

Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing. I only had to make the rolls! We spent it with Jay's family this year. That weekend we also bought our Christmas tree and decorated. It's easy to decorate my house for Christmas because, a) my house is small, and b) I hardly have any decorations.

A few days later, I managed to pull off a progressive dinner for our Relief Society (the organization for women in our church) including writing a parody for the bishopric to sing, about the ward. I was really nervous how it would be received, but it everyone seemed to like it... there were lots of laughs, and apparently no one was offended. Whew! The bishopric is going to do it again at our ward party this Saturday. Thanks to all the other fantastic women on the committee, the evening was a success... good food, a fun program, and we had a great turn-out.

A couple of days later I had "Activity Days" (8-9 year old girls from our church) at my house for a Christmas activity... we decorated cookies and had a white-elephant gift exchange, which was a new concept to the girls, and I wasn't sure how it would go over, but it turned out really fun and they were all good sports.

On Sunday, my family (my parents, siblings and their kids) got together for dinner (which we do at least once a month). We bundled up and pretended it was cold by eating outside on the patio. We ate about 6 different kinds of yummy soups, several kinds of salad, and delicious rolls, and drank hot spiced apple cider. Then we went caroling to a few of my parents' neighbors... we were a big group, so we made quite an impression. The kids had a blast! Then we went back to the house for some Christmas stories, and hot cocoa and cookies. (It's that "over-eating" time of year too!)

This week I'm finishing up the last of my Christmas shopping, and getting ready for my music performance this Saturday. Then I can breath a sigh of relief. I'm looking forward to Christmas break... catching up on some reading, and maybe working on a few projects that have been on my list for way too long.... like several years.

December 07, 2008

Joy to Everyone

Here is an early Christmas gift. Please view this incredible video. Learn the story behind it here. And you can download it here, free.

November 27, 2008


Enjoy your Thanksgiving.... with mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberry sauce. Wooooo!

November 21, 2008

Quick Update

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. Things have been sort of crazy, i.e. hosting a small dinner party tomorrow, planning a program/dinner for 120 people on December 2nd (R.S. Enrichment Christmas Dinner... just got called to be the leader and it's less than 2 weeks away), putting together a musical performance in a couple of weeks (I have a small performing group for kids), Christmas shopping (yes, I like to be done before Thanksgiving), singing in church Sunday (a solo with the ward choir), various birthday/family parties, pulling off a successful garage sale last Saturday, and teaching music classes, besides my kids' stuff....carpools, homework, book reports, piano and cello lessons, gymnastics, Cub Scouts, dentist appointments..... you know.

It's bitter sweet to have Christian and Stephanie gone to Utah; we will miss having them close, but it's so wonderful that Steph has progressed enough to be moving on to the next phase, and that she can be close to her family for the kind of support that Christian has had.

And just in case you missed the latest news article about C & S, here it is.

November 13, 2008

No News is Good News

I know many of you are wondering about Stephanie's status. There won't be much to report for a while, and she needs her privacy. She is making steady progress, though she still has a very long road ahead of her. But she is doing miraculously well under the circumstances. Truly a miracle. Thanks for all your prayers!

Christian continues to get stronger. He was even wearing jeans today! He still wears a brace for his broken back, but hopefully he will be done with that soon.

Meanwhile, Jack is enjoying as much time as possible with Ollie, before the inevitable day when he goes to back to Utah.

November 05, 2008

I think I love a bunch of strangers!

Have I told you all lately how wonderful you are? Well you are! Thank you for all your kind words of love and encouragement and support. I can't tell you how much it means to me. It warms my heart to read nice comments. I don't even know most of you, but I can tell you are GOOD PEOPLE!


Some random stuff, and a recipe

It was a busy weekend. Friday was Halloween (see previous post). Saturday was our school Fall Festival fundraiser (which I was partly in charge of), which kept me busy all day. Sunday was stake conference, and our ward boundaries were realigned.

Oliver is still in town, and he and Jack have been enjoying playing together every day. We had Jack's neighbor friends over yesterday too, and I made potato pancakes for lunch. These were a favorite of mine as a kid. Some of the boys had never had them, but everyone loved them. This is a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes. (I usually make extra on purpose.)

Here is what I do (approximate... I just eyeball it):

3-4 c. mashed potatoes (whatever was leftover)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. flour
1-2 c. grated cheese (whatever you have)
garlic salt, seasoned salt, Mrs. Dash (whatever you like)
Ketchup (apparently, this is a must for kids)

Stir together to combine. Heat a skillet on medium heat; add a tablespoon or 2 of canola oil. Drop small scoops (about 2 T.) of potato mixture into skillet, cook about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Serve with ketchup.

*If you want to get fancy, you can coat them in breadcrumbs before frying, but that's how Martha would do it, and I'm no Martha.

Halloween 2008

Finally! Here are some photos from Halloween. It was a fun night.

In past years, we have enjoyed having the kids dress up with a theme in mind. Last year it was "Super Friends." The year before was "The Wizard of Oz," and before that was "Peter Pan," and "Star Wars" before that. This year I was too busy to think of a theme, or even buy/make them costumes.

But before you think I'm a terrible mom, just see how cute they look.
Jack wore Collin's Janga Fett costume from 5 Halloweens ago, Collin wore a "Top Gun" costume that Jay bought at the post-Halloween clearance at Party City last year, and Mary wore her costume from her last dance recital, with a tiara and wand added to be a fairy princess.

We threw together a Luke Skywalker costume for Oliver... here they are ready to GET CANDY!
There was a special appearance by Darth Vader, who even went trick-or-treating to a few houses before he got too tired... and sweaty. (Want to know who is in the costume? I'll never tell. But I WILL give you a hint.... Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father.)

November 02, 2008

Need a new haircut?

If you live in the Mesa/Phoenix area, here is your chance to get a new "do" and benefit a good cause.

October 29, 2008

Something to make you smile

In case you ever wanted to know how to "Disco Dance," click here. You don't even need to be able to understand Finnish. :)


My kids, especially Mary and Jack, were absolutely thrilled to have Claire, Jane, and Oliver here for a few days. They played together Sunday evening when we were all at my parents' house for dinner, and Jane and Ollie spent the day at our house on Monday, playing with Jack. But, of course, the best part was being with their dad.Mary hanging out with Claire and Jane as they got ready for the concert

For Family Home Evening on Monday night we celebrated Claire's birthday (which is today) a bit early when we brought her a gift. We had to finally drag the kids away from each other... it was a school night after all.

They left to go back to Utah last night, so we stopped by to see them in the evening. Oliver begged to go to our house again, and both he and Jack were disappointed when I told them no. They are such good buddies. But at the last minute it was decided that since Oliver isn't in school he could stay for a while longer. Hooray!

I can't tell you how delighted Jack was to hear the news. (Of course, no one is more excited than Christian.) They are together again, this moment, playing and laughing. Oliver cracks up at everything Jack says, laughing his contagious, high-pitched giggly laugh that I have missed so much. I could get used to this.
Jack and Ollie, reunited


The last 2 and half months have been sort of crazy for me and my family because of all that has happened with Christian and Stephanie. At times I have been completed consumed with concern for them, and focused completely on what I could do to help.

I am still extremely concerned for them, of course, but in situations such as this, at some point you must return to your normal life and keep moving forward. It would be wrong for me to focus only on my brother and his wife, and neglect the needs of my husband, children, and myself.

I have tried to find a balance. (I only blog about a small portion of my life, so it probably doesn't look very balanced to you.) I wish I could attend the 5K fundraiser in Virginia this weekend, but instead I will be attending (and helping to run) my kids' school Fall Festival with my family (besides the airline fare is not in my budget). I would have loved to attend the Mindy Gledhill concert last Saturday (watch Claire and Jane sing here), but I had my 20 year high school reunion, so instead I will watch the concert on DVD.

I would love to be able to attend every garage sale, run, golf tournament, ski day, concert, and fundraiser of every kind, but it's simply not possible. Thanks to all of you who have been so thoughtful and generous without criticizing.

P.S. I said I would let you know, so here goes.... You can buy the "For the Love of Nie" T-shirt here.

October 27, 2008

Today's News

Here is today's news article.

And a message from Christian: He really appreciates all of your love and concern and support, but even though he is "home" he is still not ready for visitors outside of family. I will let you know when that changes.

October 26, 2008

Some stuff...

I attended my 20 year high school class reunion last night. Jay was a trouper for going with me. It was actually really fun and I'm glad I went.... even though I missed the benefit concert. (Watch a news report here.)

And here is an article that came out in the Arizona Republic today.

It was so fun to see Claire, Jane and Ollie.... they had a happy reunion with their dad. My kids are delighted to have them here for a few days.

Tonight I was telling Marcus (who was on his mission in Germany when our brother Stephen got married) about the skit Jay and I wrote for the wedding dinner. Wanna see Christian at his best? Watch it here.

October 24, 2008

Fee Fi Fo Fum

A few weeks ago, Jack came home from preschool with a bean planted in a styrofoam cup. (You know the one I'm talking about.) Jack was thrilled! He put it on the window sill and watered it faithfully.

Over the next couple of weeks, he watched with delight as a tiny green plant appeared, and then got bigger, and bigger, and taller, and taller.

One day, it occurred to us how funny this was.... Jack's Beanstalk.
As usually happens, I expected the thing to finally die.... a plant can't live forever in a cup, you know. It didn't die. It has been thriving. Well, I finally decided it was time to plant the thing outside.

So, since it's the prime growing season in our part of the country, I decided to plant some other things to go along side it.... so it wouldn't get lonely. Jack was a good helper.
I hope to add some carrots, spinach, peas, and beets, but for now we have lettuce and tomatoes, plus basil, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, curly parsley, and Italian parsley... and, of course, a bean plant. I have no idea what kind of bean. We shall see.

But I'm pretty sure it won't get tall enough for Jack to climb it.

October 23, 2008

What to do Saturday morning

The Highs and Lows

I visited Christian today. He was in very good spirits because he....

- had a very positive visit with Stephanie this week,

- is excited to see Claire, Jane, and Ollie who are coming for this,

- is getting much stronger and feeling better physically, AND

- (most likely) gets to go home* on Saturday!

On the other hand, I'm not in the best of spirits because....

- Jay is out of town this week for a work project at the ranch, with my dad and brothers, and I miss him, and I don't sleep well when he's not here, and I don't like being a single-mom, AND

- I just had 4 inches chopped off my hair, and I'm feeling some remorse.

Oh well, it will grow back.

* To stay at my parents' house for a while, and do out-patient therapy at the hospital where he can also visited his beloved Stephanie.

October 21, 2008

Busy Weekend - Part 2

On our way back from the hotel on Saturday, we stopped by my parents' house to collect our kids, and then headed over to downtown Mesa for the Blissfest and Nie Recovery Carnival Fundraiser.
I wish I had more pictures, but I was so overwhelmed at how amazing it was that I forgot to take more! What a great thing to see so many people who were volunteering to help, and all the people there making purchases for a good cause.

I met the amazing and talented Kristin of Domestic Bliss. What a great lady! She has a gorgeous store, but even more wonderful is her willingness to do so much to help someone she hardly knows. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! (Click here for some GOOD photos of the event.)The kids had fun too, even though it was unseasonable warm... OK, it was HOT!
Also, a huge thank you to the amazing Reachel Bagley who heads up NieRecovery. You are another one of those angels!

On Sunday we all attended church with my parents to hear my brother report on his mission. He did a fantastic job. We are all so proud of him. He was a great missionary.

It was also my mom's birthday, which we celebrated after our big family dinner together. My mom is the most amazing person I know... no offense to all you other amazing people out there, like Reachel and Kristin. She is my role model, my idol... and if she had a blog (well, actually she does, but she has never written anything on it), she would be just as popular as NieNie. :) My daughter, Mary, is so proud to be named after her.

Yesterday, two of my sisters and I took Mom to lunch. We had Indian food and had a great time talking. I am so lucky to have such great sisters too!

Happy Birthday Mom! You are the best!

October 19, 2008

Busy Weekend - Part 1

We had a great weekend. On Friday night, Jay and I stayed at the (brand-spanking-new) Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel for my birthday. Everything was very nice, and the staff was excellent too. It was so fun to have it be so new... I'm quite sure we were the first people to stay in that room.

Speaking of the room, we reserved a regular room but we were upgraded to a suite... sweet!
We were on the 30th floor... the highest but for the governor's suite on the 31st floor... so we had a spectacular view of the city.We had dinner at District (the hotel restaurant) which was just as good as last time. We both had the baked tomato soup... to die for! I had the fantastic salmon with shrimp and asparagus risotto. It was delicious.Jay had the chicken pot pie. (I know this picture looks like an entire chicken, but that's just the puff pastry on top.) Jay loved it. We were too full to order dessert, but the general manager knew we were celebrating my birthday and sent this out with his complements. Yum! So we stuffed ourselves some more.Afterward, we walked across the street to the Arizona Center, and we went to see this movie. It was quite funny! (I can recommend it only with reservations.... it was rated PG-13 for good reason!)When we returned to our room, we found this lovely note from the GM and a "little treat."
Since we don't drink, we had a good laugh. It was a very nice gesture. We didn't want him to think we didn't appreciate it, so we took it home as a souvenir, and it will probably sit on a shelf in our closet for many years. (I don't know anything about champagne... does it get better with age?)Here is where we did NOT eat breakfast the next day. Matt's Big Breakfast is a very popular breakfast spot.... there are usually twice as many people in line as the restaurant can accommodate. (Think Pizzeria Bianco.) Instead we went back to District for breakfast. I just went to the buffet, which was elegant and delicious... everything from eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits & gravy, to french toast, steel cut oats, all kinds of cereals, yogurt, pastries, and fabulous fresh fruit. Jay is a connoisseur of Eggs Benedict, and we heard theirs was special, so that is what he got.... and he wasn't disappointed.

After stuffing ourselves again, we walked over to the Public Market and browsed for a while, checking out the local produce, crafts, etc. I bought these delicious tortillas.... the best whole wheat tortillas I have ever tasted! It was a very fun little get-away... the perfect birthday gift. Thank you Jay! You are the best!!!

Media updates

Read the latest Tribune news story about C & S here.

And here is an article about the fundraiser yesterday.

October 17, 2008

Coming up NEXT weekend....

I'm really sad I won't be able to go to this benefit concert... I will be attending my 20 year high school class reunion instead. Seriously, 20 years. I can't believe it either. Yikes!

I hope you will be there though. Get tickets here.

Check out this video too.

October 16, 2008

Fall Break

My kids are out of school this week for Fall Break, so Jay took a couple of days off work and we took a little trip up north. It was nice and relaxing. I did some sewing (a bunch of new pillow covers, and duvet covers for my boys' beds), we walked around the lake, sat by the fire and drank hot cocoa, did lots of reading, and Mary and I made this paper house from this cool website. (Yes, I know it's in Japanese or something, but you can still figure it out.... I did!) It was really fun. (Don't forget to save and print both the cut-outs and the instructions... they are two separate files.) It's not perfect (a little crooked), but I thought it turned out cute.
Today I visited Christian. He has made improvement in just the few days since I last saw him, looking better and getting stronger. He has talked to the kids a few times, seen Stephanie a few more times (though not as often as he would like), and doing lots of physical therapy. We spent most of the time talking about current events and the election. Fortunately, we agree on all issues, so it was a pleasant conversation.

Tomorrow night Jay and I are going to celebrate my birthday (which was this week... bleh! I'm getting old!) by staying at "Jay's Hotel." (I've been looking forward to this for about 3 years! Staying at the hotel... not my birthday.) And then we will stop by the fundraiser on Saturday. And my brother and his wife will be in town from Seattle. And on Sunday Marcus will be reporting on his mission to Germany/Austria. And then we'll have dinner with the whole family. Busy weekend, but a good one!

October 14, 2008

Coming up this weekend.....

Nie Recovery
Nie Recovery Carnival Fundraiser
Saturday, October 18th, 8-5 pm

Fishbowl Raffle, Fair Food, Carnival Games, Face Painting, Silhouette Artist, Showings of "The Nie" Movie, Silent Auction (the bidding has already started online and will continue at the event)
100% of proceeds to Nie Recovery Fund**

Hosted By:
Domestic Bliss & Blissful Living Studio
166 West Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85201

**Nie Recovery is a charity benefiting Christian & Stephanie Nielson, survivors of the August 16th plane crash in St. Johns Arizona. Christian & Stephanie both received third degree burns covering their bodies and their medical bills are expected to reach into the millions.

October 09, 2008

Snacks vs. Torture

Today I made a visit to the hospital to see Stephanie. Unfortunately, I didn't get a see her because she was in the middle of a dressing change. But I did get to talk to some of the wonderful staff at the burn center who I hadn't seen in a while... and even got a few hugs! Everyone is so wonderful! I talked to the social worker for a while, who was very encouraging about Stephanie's current status. She had more cultured-skin grafts this week, and the report is that they are doing well. Hooray!

Then I booked it over to the rehab hospital to see Christian during his lunch break. They have him busy all day long with physical therapy these days, so it was a shorter visit than I would have liked, but better than nothing! (Since I hadn't seen him since Sunday I was starting to go through withdrawal!) I stocked his fridge with more Vitamin Water, and Trader Joe's yummy hummus and whole wheat pita. I also put up some Halloween decorations from a package that had just arrived from some of the many well-wishes. The rest will go in Stephanie's room... after all she is the biggest Halloween fan ever!!!!

Two of Stephanie's sister-in-laws from Utah arrived at the same time as I did, so Christian had a "house full." Lisa and Katie are great. Then all too soon we had to send him off to the gym for more torture... I mean physical therapy. I'm glad he is able to tolerate that much; that's a good sign.

October 06, 2008

Hope, Joy, Angels, Unity, and Harmony

Today we watched the remaining sessions of conference at home. In between, Jay and I made a visit to see Christian. Jay did a great job of making Christian laugh and distracting him from his worries by sharing funny memories with him. (Jay has such a talent for humor! It blesses our home and our lives.)

I love General Conference! What a blessing to hear these inspired messages! All the talks were wonderful, but here are the ones that particularly touched me.

Saturday A.M.
-Dieter F. Uchtorf: Hope

Saturday P.M.
- Joseph B. Wirthlin: Joy amidst Adversity
- Jeffrey R. Holland: Angels

Sunday A.M.
- Henry B. Eyring: Unity

Sunday P.M.
- Russell M. Nelson: Harmony in Marriage

What were your favorites?

October 05, 2008


My parents left on Friday to attend General Conference for our church this weekend, so I spent the night at the rehab center with Christian, taking my mom's usual place. Christian and I had some good talks. While I was there, my parents were with Christian's kids in Utah, so they called and Christian was able to talk with the kids for the first time since the accident (all except little Ollie who was asleep). It was good medicine for Christian!

The next morning Christian had a physical therapy session, and then we watched the first session of conference together (well, half of it together... the other half I watched in the waiting room during his dressing change). Then after lunch he had more therapy and I needed to get home.

That night Jay and I attended the CopaBall benefit, along with several other members of my family, and Stephanie's brother and sister-in-law who drove down from Utah. Our table had been donated to the family in honor of Christian and Stephanie, and the new burn foundation fund set up on their behalf. It was a really nice event, and everyone was so kind. They also honored the late Dr. MacDonald Wood, the founder of what is now the Arizona Burn Center, with a life-time achievement award. It brought tears to my eyes, and does again now, as I think how grateful I am to this man, and all of those who work at the Arizona Burn Center. I love you guys!

Welcome Home Marcus!

It's been a busy few days, so I'm getting behind.

On Thursday, my youngest sibling, Marcus, returned from Germany after serving for 2 years as a missionary for the LDS Church. It was a wonderful reunion. (Since I forgot to bring my camera, I stole these images from my sister-in-law's blog.) We formed a rather large crowd at the airport, and I'm afraid we kind of overwhelmed him. There is nothing like a mother hugging her baby! (Even when he turned into a man since you last saw him.) I don't know if Marcus really is taller or just seems like it, but he is definitely more confident and mature. I can't believe that he was just learning to walk when I left for college!Marcus is such a great guy. He was a faithful missionary, and we are so proud of him and grateful to have him home.

P.S. I didn't get to see Christian or Stephanie that day... Christian had a full day of therapy, and Stephanie was in surgery.... looks very hopeful though.

October 03, 2008


As Jack and I were eating grapefruit this morning, he offered me this great bit of advice:

"Close your eyes when it's about to squirt at you."

He's right, you know.

October 01, 2008

New Digs

It was a busy day.

This morning I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony/grand opening of "Jay's Hotel." Jack got to come with me (the other kids were at school). There was a good crowd there, and Jay received a well-deserved "shout-out" from the president of the convention and visitors' bureau. It was fun to mingle and have so many people greet Jay and congratulate him. He is quite popular. :)

Also, he was pleasantly surprised to be credited on the plaque in the lobby.

This afternoon I visited Christian in his new digs. Yes, he went to the rehab hospital after all. He has a very nice large private room. When I arrived he was just returning from visiting Stephanie at the burn center. We visited a bit, I read him this article from the Ensign while he ate lunch, we had a visit with a doctor, I read my book in the waiting room while he had a shower and dressing change, I wheeled him to the dining room for dinner and he ate while we visited with a man who was in the burn center at the same time as Christian (and his wife), went back to his room and talked some more. My parents had arrived by then, and I left with a promise to bring Christian some more vitamin water. He loves that stuff.

I was planning to go back tomorrow, but he has a pretty full day of therapy scheduled, so I may not be able to see him. I will perhaps go visit Stephanie instead.

September 28, 2008

Your prayers are working!

I went to the hospital on Saturday. Christian continues to make good progress, though it looks like he will stay there another week because he needs a little more skin grafting, but is doing so well that he probably won't need to go to the rehab facility after all. He will have outpatient rehab instead. That will make it much easier for him to visit Stephanie. Hooray!

Stephanie's skin grafts seem to be doing pretty well. Thanks for all of your prayers! I know they are working!!! Her mom and sisters are here this weekend, which I know makes such a difference for her. They are so strong and amazing.

Saturday evening was the world-wide Relief Society meeting. I watched the broadcast at our stake center with my mom and 3 of my sisters. It was so good to be with them, along with my sisters in the gospel. The meeting was fantastic. If you missed it, you can watch it here. I know that Stephanie would have loved to have been there. I'm sure she will be anxious to watch it as soon as she can. I particularly loved Sister Beck's talk, and President Uchtdorf's talk. I thought the choir did a fantastic job too; not bad for a bunch of amateurs! :)


Friday night Jay and I had dinner at District, the restaurant at the new Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. The hotel and restaurant don't open to the public until Tuesday, but this was Jay's project so we were invited to have dinner there as part of a simulation... basically practice for the real thing. We ate with Jerry (a friend of Jay's from work) and his girlfriend.

We had a lovely meal, including starters, entrees and dessert, with excellent service, and since it was just "practice" we didn't have to pay! Sweet! (This also meant we sort of had to order whatever was highlighted on our menu because they were trying to have everyone get different things and have a chance to practice on all of the menu items.)

The menu is sort of normal, but kind of unusual. I would describe it as "fancy comfort food." For example, my meal was short ribs with cheddar jalapeno grits (I don't think I've ever eaten grits before), and carrots... not something I normally would have ordered, but it was delicious! The presentations were all excellent as well. Jay had scallops with mushrooms, peppers and grilled Italian sausage, and fried calamari as a starter (with 2 different... and excellent... sauces; chimichurri and spicy garlic).

Some of the other entrees are things like fancy versions of other comfort foods, like fried chicken, fish and chips, chicken pot pie, cheese burgers, Memphis BBQ pork with apple sauce and mac & cheese, and even a casserole... Pumpkin Curry Casserole with wild rice and marinated tofu, so not your typical casserole. Other things, like the seared scallops, roasted salmon, and grilled ribeye, seem a bit more typical of this kind of restaurant.

My starter was a fabulous tomato soup with garlic croutons and fontina cheese on top, baked kind of like a french onion soup. It was absolutely fantastic! I would go back there just to have that (though I want to go back anyway to try more things... I hear the salmon is heavenly). For dessert, a fresh raspberry cobbler with pecan sandies. Delish! (Jay and I shared because we were so full by then.)

The bread was unusual too... sort of a combination of a dinner roll and cornbread, with chilis and whole black beans inside (it sounds odd, but it was really good), served with butter dizzled with guava nectar.

So, if you have a special occasion, or if you just want to have a nice meal in downtown Phoenix, check it out, and let me know what you think.

And if you like it, tell me what you had so I can order it next time.

September 26, 2008

Things Mary Loves....

Mary brought this home from Primary on Sunday. I thought it was cute.

A Day at Home

My foot is feeling much better today. Thanks for all your well-wishes. It seems so silly in comparison to everything else that has happened.... kind of embarrassing.

I have felt a little guilty.... well not really guilty because I know I'm doing a good thing... but kind of sad that I haven't spent as much time with Jack lately because I have been spending a good amount of time at the hospital. He loves to play at his friends' houses (thank you all for helping!), so it isn't really a big deal to him, but I have been missing him.

So, today was "Jack-and-Mommy-Stay-At-Home Day." (Besides, I needed to take it a bit easy on my foot.) Here is what we did:

Memory/Matching Game: Jack is pretty good

We put together a SpiderMan puzzle.Jack needed some guidance, but did a lot of it himself.So proud when it was complete.

Jack insisted on playing Scrabble, but since he can't read yet, he's not so good at that. But he enjoyed making patterns with the letters.

We finished the book I have been reading to him at night. (This one is better as a adult-real-aloud so you can leave at the swear words!)

We also played a game of Dominos, so of course we had to do this afterward.