Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!

Brundage New Year Vintage Postcard
I had a friend at BYU named Hal. He was in my Accounting class with a childhood friend named Jeanine. And there was one other guy, whose name I cannot recall. The 4 of us studied together and did our group project together. We had a great time and got OK grades. But, back to Hal. He was so funny. When you would ask him how he was doing, he would answer, "having a Hal of a day." Or "I feel like Hal." (It may help to read to these out loud to get the effect.) But Hal had a theme for every year. One year his theme was:

Say "I do" in '92

But when that didn't work, he changed his theme for the next year:

"Marry me in '93"

I thought that was so have a theme for each year. But, I've been thinking about it the last few days and I think Hal had a good idea. I'm not so much into New Year's Resolutions, but I have come up with my own theme for the New Year:

Become the best you've ever been in 2010.

I like it. That's my theme for the new year. I think it can apply to all aspects of life. And it's easy to remember because it (kind of) rhymes. And I'm not striving for perfection just improvement.
So, how about it?

Become the best you've ever been in 2010

Saturday, December 26, 2009

This is the one about my foot

This one may be a long one, but it's mostly for me. And I might want to warn you, it might not be pretty. I don't really know where this story begins so I will start with 1988, the year I graduated from high school. I was a cheerleader and my squad was pretty good, not as good as the state championship football team, but close. We were practicing for hours every day because we were to be in a National competition in CA. Somewhere in all of the practicing, I had landed on my knee/lower leg and chipped the bone. A few days later, one of my friends came up behind me and put her knees into my knees to make me bend my knees and the sudden jerking motion caused one of those little bone chips to poke into my tendon. VERY PAINFUL. So, a few weeks later I had knee surgery. As my mom was consulting with the orthopedic surgeon, they decided it was a good time to do surgery on my feet as well. I had had bunions since about the fifth grade. (Most likely hereditary since both of my Grandmothers had bunions). So, they did knee surgery and bunion surgery at the same time. Everything went well on the knee and the feet. But gradually over the years my feet slowly seemed to grow back into the old shape. (Instead of my big toe lining up nicely with the inside of my foot and the other toes, it grew this big bump on the side and the big toe pushed inward towards the other toes and making them all look smashed together.)
I didn't really have a problem with it until about 2 years ago. I had decided that I was ready to lose the baby weight (Cole was 2--it was about time, right?), we had finally moved in and settled into our new house, and it was New Years Resolution time. So, I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon. Rick and I had done some running in the past and we wanted to do something a little more organized and embark on some serious training. We read some books and found a program and started running.
It was going pretty well, until about spring break time. Rick and I were in St. George for a conference. We went on a six mile run and I practically had to crawl home. I thought I had just bruised the bottom of my foot. I took it easy for a few days. No improvement. Rick thought maybe I had a stress fracture for which there is really no treatment except to take it easy. So, I did that. The only problem is that my foot got worse not better.

I realize that this is not a great picture of anything, but you can see my toes down in the bottom, right where my 2nd and 3rd toes separate. (just in case you want to blame this on the running/training, don't. Looking back at pictures over the prior 5 years, my toes were already starting to do this before I was pregnant with Cole. My feet are wide and they have just spread over the years.)
I eventually went to the dr. on August 1, 2008. Dr. Rogers did an ultrasound on my foot and easily diagnosed a neuroma. It's an easy fix, he says. I have a neuroma because my foot is wide and the pressure from my foot being so wide where the bunion returned caused that part of my foot to squeeze together and after so long that caused the nerve between those toes to become inflamed and irritated. He shot the neuroma (inflamed nerve) with cortisone which works about 80% of the time. Let me just say, it hurts to get that shot. It helped for about a month or two. By the time I went back, I was in just as much pain as before. I mean pain like, I can't walk or stand for more than a few minutes at a time. I remember trying to fix dinner for the kids (mac & cheese--nothing fancy) and having to sit on a bar stool at the stove because I couldn't stand that long. Summer would get the ingredients out of the fridge for me and Sierra would set the table so that I didn't have to stand or walk. Pathetic.

I ended up having 3 cortisone shots. The last one i got just before we went to Hawaii just to see if it would help me get through those couple of weeks since we had that trip planned for months.

Then, on January 8, 2009 I had surgery on my foot. #1 to remove the neuroma (easy procedure, usually takes about 12 minutes) They cut between the 2 toes (my peace toes, as the dr. calls them) and remove the inflamed nerves. #2 to repair the bunion and straighten out my foot to hopefully reduce the sideways pressure on my foot and prevent any further nerve damage. Well, remember how I had had this procedure done once before? It hurt like hell the first time. my memory has not faded on that point. And this time around it hurt even more. The original surgery had left me with a staple in my foot to help the bone heal. We knew it was there, it showed up on the x-ray. But, Dr. Rogers was not prepared for the fact that the bone had grown over the staple. he eventually had to cut it in half (he told me he went to Home Depot to pick up some wire cutters while I was out). And the staple had barbs on it. It didn't come out nicely. He had to remove a lot more bone and do more repair work than he had anticipated. It took 2 hours longer for the surgery than he had planned. This time I have a pin, a screw and a plate in my foot to hold it together and help it heal.
When I woke up, I was in so much pain. They told me I could go home when the pain level got from a 10 down to a 5. I lied. It was more like 50. I just wanted to go home. It didn't get down to a 5 for about a month. I pretty much kept my entire foot iced 24 hours a day just to keep the swelling down and my foot numb.
After 4 weeks, I went back to get the cast off. I was nervous. The dr. x-rayed my foot and was quite pleased with the way my bunion was healing. He was pretty nervous considering the condition my foot was in after the surgery. He really didn't know how the outcome would be.

Everything was good at this point. I went home with a big black boot on my foot and crutches. This meant that I could now shower. However, I could not bear weight for at least another month. So, I had to shower on one foot or with crutches. Not easy, but better than the month before. As my foot began to heal and the swelling went down, my peace toes were coming back strong as ever. So, I kept my toes taped like this for the month I wore the black boot. The dr. was concerned. Once my bones were healed enough to bear weight, he told me to start walking and to keep my toes taped together. This was to strengthen my muscles and train the toes to stay straight and not separate.

It didn't really work. There was a lot of swelling from the surgery and with a dose of bad luck I got a lot of scar tissue which basically just caused my 2nd to to be permanently dislocated.
I tried everything to strengthen my toes. Rick would stretch my foot every night trying to loosen the joint and strengthen the muscles. So, in July I had another surgery. This time, they went in where the neuroma was before and cleaned out the scar tissue. Then they went further down on the outside of my foot and harvested a part of tendon. They cut the tendon on my 2nd toe that was causing it to pull over on top of my big toe. They attached the harvested tendon to the 2nd toe and basically reworked my foot so that the muscles and tendons were pulling my toes into a more correct position. This is what my foot looked like for a month:
I was beginning to feel a neuroma starting in my right foot, so I decided to have them remove the nerve on that foot at the same time. The dr. said it was a good thing because even though I was not in much pain on that foot at the time, the neuroma was already forming there and was actually larger than the one he had removed earlier from my left foot. So, I came home looking like this:

Both feet. Yip. Try getting to the bathroom without using your feet. Showering. Not easy. i couldn't get the pin foot wet for a month. I had a friend who had had this same procedure. She told me that in order to get the pin out your foot, they just go out back to the shed and grab some plyers and pull until it comes out. Great. I was whining to Rick about this. He said, "well, how do you think they got the pin in there?" I don't know. He makes this horrible sound like a dental tool and says, "They just drill in into your toe until it goes in as far as it needs to." I just about passed out after that conversation. When the dr. pulled it out, it was about 4 inches long.

Honestly, by this time I was pretty depressed. I couldn't do anything I wanted to. I hadn't been able to do anything I wanted to for months and months. I was tired of crutches, stitches, scars, screw, pins, and not being able to take my kids to the swimming pool. I know it was a holiday weekend and lots of people had plans. I had plans, too. I sat on the couch and watched TV for 12 hours a day and crawled to the bathroom from time to time. I did a little crocheting for variety.
It was a pretty hard time for me. Rick had trained for, and ran a marathon. I was so proud of him. But I was sad that I could not run with him. Summer got roller blades for her birthday and I just sat on the grass and watched. Cole learned how to ride a bike and I could not ride with him. It was hard. It's hard to be a mom and not be able to do mom things like, cook and clean and do fun things like go for walk and go swimming.
My depressed attitude only lasted for about a month--the length of time that I had the pin in my foot. By the time I got the pin out, I was so excited to be painfree and mobile again. The dr. said that he was not 100% thrilled with the way my toe still drifted to the side. But, as long as I was painfree and the toe was not still dislocated, I was in good shape.
Now, the problem was that I had pretty much been sedentary for 7 months. I had a better record than that when I was pregnant and puking every day. And I was a lot younger. I had a lot of time to make up for.
The dr. told me that the best thing for my foot was to use it. Run. Jump. Walk. Swim. I had to start slow. My foot was very tight. I had to start with stretching. Rick helped me--mostly because I didn't want to pay for a physical therapist. He worked me pretty good. The dr. is pleased with my range of motion considering that I have had the bunion joint reworked twice now and my toe was dislocated for so long. And I have muscles and tendons doing things that they weren't originally designed to do. I have a lot of swelling and I have to ice my foot a lot still. But, the swelling with gradually get better, but it may take up to 18 months after the surgery, so I still have another year left before the swelling is completely gone. I can't do lunges on my left foot. I try, but I have to do some modified moves.
So, this fall we went to Glacier National Park where we walked and walked and hiked and hiked and I did great. Some swelling, but it felt good for the most part.
When we got back from Glacier, we decided to start a training program. Rick and I had done Power 90 in the past and we thought it would be a good program to do again. One of Rick's partners is a coach and so he got us the P90x workout dvd's. We are 10 weeks into a 12 week program. It's hard. I'm not gonna lie. It's weight lifting. It works arms, legs, back, shoulders. There is also yoga and cardio. One of the cardio sessions is called Plyometrics. It is a 1 hour work out of legs and jumping exercises. WOW. that works my foot and legs. And the yoga is killer, but we love it. I have to say that my arms /back/shoulders are in better condition now than ever before. It's hard. I have never worked out so hard that I have thrown up, but I've come close in the past few weeks. You know you're working hard when you almost puke.
We have 2 weeks left int he program. I LOVE it. We will finish just before we go to Hawaii.
When we get back from Hawaii, Rick and I are going to do the P90x series again, but we are going to implement our Marathon training. Rick is going to do another full marathon and I am going to do a half. There are a few throughout the coming summer that will work with Rick's schedule. I'm so excited that we will be doing this together. It's gonna hurt. It's gonna be hard. But, I feel like I need to finish what I started. I want to make up for this last year of not doing anything. I want to do something that is hard and feel the satisfaction of the accomplishment. The furthest that I have run since this whole mess is 2 1/2 miles on the treadmill. I know that 13 miles is a long ways. I don't know if I will be able to run the whole thing. But I know I can walk it if I have to. But, either way I know I have to try. Rick has been really awesome with his encouragement and I look forward to the training. We will have fun and do it together.
oh, and I have the complete endorsement of my dr. He's been great, too. He says that now I have a brand new foot I should be able to do anything I put my mind to. Horray!
This is what my bionic foot looks like today:

Quilt Update

The quilt top is done except for the border. Remember when i took Cole to Joann's and we left with more fabric with trucks on it? Well, my mom suggested that I use that fabric to make a border for the quilt, so I will do just that so Cole will be 100% pleased with my efforts. I cleaned the basement floor so that I can get down on my hands and knees and work on the quilt all spread out on the floor. I read a tutorial last night that I think will help me with the batting and basting. So, Next week begins the quiltathon.
Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Herlevi Family Christmas Party Highlights...

The menu: soup in bread bowls. We had 3 to chose from: Pork Chile Verde (mine), clam chowder, and chicken noodle. Yum. Salad. and a cake from Southern Living (always a good choice). The table was beautiful. But, as usual, we were too hungry to stop and take some pictures.
Cole was in charge of the cracker plate. He decided to make a tower with the Ritz. Whatever. It kept him occupied for a while...
We draw names with the adults and everyone gives a $10 gift. Jason got gloves
Kyoko got bath stuff.
Waino got a history book

It was Grandma Bette's birthday as well. Rick had her name for the Christmas gift exchange. We had picked up a couple of vintage Pyrex bowls at one of the antique stores in MT a few months ago. They were part of a set that she had started collecting. We were pretty excited to find them for her.
She also got showered with Birthday gifts.
Kristine got a chest to keep her treasures in.

Kristine gave Cole a Thomas lunch box filled with snacks. I can't really believe it, but he still has some snacks left. And he hasn't put the box down for 3 days.
Sierra got a snowglobe. She collects them.
Rick got some tools. Perfect. He can help Santa put some stuff together.

And, because I was the one taking pictures there is no documentation of my gift. So, I will leave you hanging until I can get outside tomorrow and take some pictures of my recycled Christmas gift. There's a story...

Robison Family Christmas Party Highlights

Menu: breakfast for dinner (sorry, no pictures--too hungry to stop and document). Waffles, pancakes, hashbrowns, sausage, ham, cinnamon rolls, raspberry bread pudding. 2 days later and we're still eating leftovers--OK with me. My kids hope that we have started a tradition with the breakfast thing.
PJ's and socks from Grandma. Cole got confused when I told him he got socks from Grandma. he's been wearing MY fuzzy socks and left me with the child's tube socks. Oh well. And he finally took off his monkey PJ's to have a bath and I threw them in the wash.
Don't Eat Frosty game for the little kids and TABOO (christmas version for the big kids and adults) it was fun, but everyone kept telling me I was too competitive. I have no idea what they are talking about. we won, square and fair.

from Cole's point of view

I was trying to buy some time this evening so I could work on Cole's quilt. He was getting tired of waiting for dinner, so I let him take some pictures with my camera. Some of them were hilarious. I just got such a kick out of the things he found interesting enough to photograph...maybe I got him the wrong thing for Christmas.
Making progress on the quilt...the top is done. Now the sewing machine and the mess are going away for a few days. I will see what happens with it next week.

Quilt Progress

I know you are holding your breath waiting to see how the quilt turns out. I know I am. Cole, however is not quite so impressed. He told me a couple of days ago that he will not be sleeping with this quilt. Bummer. I may have to add a few rows and put it on my bed.
I had to make a quick trip to Joann's today and I had to take Cole with me. He saw some fabric with some fire trucks on it and guess what? We came home with a yard of it because he said he will put the quilt on his bed if it has the fire truck fabric on it. Whatever, the kid is 4 and he has such a mind of his own. Drives me crazy. I am going to sneak in one little square of fire truck fabric and he better be happy! And then I will use the other for a pillow case.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Obituary Girl

OK, so I wrote recently about how there is familial obsession with cemeteries. Well, we are also obsessed with obituaries. Some of my oldest memories of my Grandma Dalton is getting up in the morning and walking past the park, across the street and into Ken's grocery to pick up her Salt Lake Tribune, which she always referred to as "The Trib". After a quick glance at the front page, she would always turn to the obituary page. I often asked her why she always wanted to look at the people who had died. She would tell me that if her name wasn't listed, then she would know that it was OK to get on with the rest of her day. My mom and dad always did the same thing. For as long as I can remember, my mom has always taken several newspapers: "The Trib", the Provo Daily Herald, and the Richfield Reaper, mostly so that she can read the obits.
Well, maybe it's genetic because I ALWAYS have to read the obituaries each morning. Even when I lived in MS, I would read the obituaries of the local people and then log on to the Utah newspapers so that I could read the obits of "my people" back in Utah.
About 2 years ago, Rick and I were on the committee for our high school class reunion. In an effort to try to find all of our classmates, it came to our attention that there were a handful of classmates who had passed away. Some of our meetings were at the home of a friend of mine, Wade Griffiths. Wade's mom, Kathy, mentioned that she had also helped with some of her class reunions and as a member of the committee, one of their classmates was designated "the Obituary Girl". It was her responsibility to keep a record of classesmates who had passed on and to keep a copy of their obituary. When Kathy mentioned this, some people got wide eyes and said, "Ooo, creepy"! Not me. I said, "oh, pick me, pick me!" Nobody really said anything so I just became the self-appointed "Obituary Girl". I have a binder where I keep obituaries. There are dividers: family, friends, and other.
I have a few obituaries that I have collected over the years that are literally pieces of art to me. For example, 2 years ago on Christmas Eve a family in Salt Lake by the name of Ceran was in an accident on Christmas Eve. The entire family was participating in a local play and they were returning home late in the evening from a cast party. It was about 2 in the morning when they were hit by a drunk driver. The mother and a teenage son were killed. They were on the news for days, they made a statement about forgiveness. The obituaries were sermons. I'm not certain who wrote the obituaries, I would guess that the husband and father was part of that process, but it was the most beautiful collection of thoughts and messages that I have ever read.
I have collected a few others here and there that stand out to me. Some of them are from people who died young; others are from people who have lived long and productive lives.

I have written many different things over the years, and now to my writing portfolio, I can add, "Obituary Writer". (see the following post)
(I didn't help write the obituary for my dad as I was on a plane from Jackson to Houston to Pheonix to Salt Lake City.)

Richard Alfred Herlevi

Richard Alfred Herlevi 78, died Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at the home of his brother, Waino, in Orem, Utah.

Dick was born April 19, 1931 in Scofield, UT to John Jalmer and Lillie Jarvi Herlevi. Dick was the third of eight children born to John and Lillie, four of whom survived to adulthood: Lillian LaVern Skadsberg, Diluth, MN; Walter Herlevi, Oak Harbor, WA; and Waino Herlevi, Orem, UT.

Dick attended schools in Scofield, UT, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Price, UT where he played the tuba in the Price Jr. High and Carbon High School Bands.

Dick loved to hunt and shot his first deer at age 11 with a single shot 22. He loved to hunt deer and elk and was an avid fisherman.

Dick joined the Air Force in 1949 and was a veteran of the Korean War.

He worked for Kraync Motors for 11 years and then was a mechanic for General Electric in Salt Lake City for 26 years until his retirement in 1994.

Dick spent his weekends in Scofield until he retired and then moved there permanently. He passed his time hunting and fishing, riding his ATV, keeping tabs on the town, caring for his yard and the cemetery, and selling nightcrawlers. He was an excellent cook--jams, jellies, pastries, and ribs were some of his specialties.

Dick was proceeded in death by his parents, and his first beagle, Killer #1.

He is survived by a sister and 2 brothers: LaVern Skadsberg, Walter (Esther) Herlevi, and Waino (Bette) Herlevi; nephews: Rick (Kelli), Jason (Kyoko), and Jon (Teresa), and niece: Kristine. And great -nieces: Summer and Sierra, and great-nephew: Cole Richard. And his loyal companion, Killer #2.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cole's Tractor Blanket

This was taken in May 2009. It was Cole's first night out of his crib and into his new big boy bed. Notice the cute blue and white comforter that I got for his bed. He hates it. He won't even sleep with the tan sheet touching him. He only wants his Tractor Blanket. He'll turn side ways in his bed so that the only thing touching him is his blanket.
I'm working on an alternative (see following post).

New Quilt for Cole

Cole has this blanket that I made for his last year that he calls his "Tractor Blanket". It's the perfect size for a little boy, but not really warm enough for this super cold weather that we are experiencing. He keeps getting cold in the night and climbing into bed with me. He rubs his icy cold toes up and down my legs and it is DRIVING ME NUTS!!

I have tried every blanket in the house and he doesn't like any of them. I asked him what blanket he wanted to use to keep warm and he asked me to make him a blanket. WHAT? Do you know what time of the year it is?
I asked him what color he wanted and he said...yellow. Perfect because the color of his walls in his bedroom is yellow.

Then he said he wanted it to have mini excavators on it. Awesome. I'm sure that there are a ton of fabric lines that feature yellow mini excavators.

The top picture is the inspiration for the quilt I wanted to make. My mom gave it to me when Cole was born. The colors are perfect, the only problem is that it is tiny and it doesn't feature mini excavators. But I used it to match the fabric colors that I was looking for. The second picture is what I came up with to make the quilt. I didn't find mini excavators, but I did find a series with tractors and dump trucks that was in the right color scheme and not too obnoxious. Some of the fabric I had on hand, some came from my mom, some came from the Corn Wagon and a few others (with the tractors) came from the Cotton Shop in Provo. I can't wait for the kids to go to bed at 6 pm for the next week so that I can get this little baby finished by Christmas!!

Here are the first few blocks that I made last night to make sure they would turn out the right size.
**Special thanks to Audrey for making a trip to Walmart and picking up my quilting template that I had paid for and didn't make it home with. I owe ya!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

how was your weekend?

Ours was good. Uneventful...until Friday night that is. The girls were with my sister. Rick was playing video games. Cole was playing with his trains and I was in the kitchen. That's when the alarm went off. I went straight to the alarm panel to see if I could disarm the alarm. Didn't work. Rick went around the house trying to figure out what was going on. He said it was the Carbon Monoxide monitor. But, since we didn't seem to notice a problem, it was probably just a short in the wiring, right?, Then he realized that the CO monitor that was going off was the one located right next to the upstairs furnace. He got a little suspicious and called the Fire Department to see if they could send someone over to check with their more sophisticated monitors. It was funny, I could hear Rick on the phone reassuring the dispatcher that we were all OK and that he was aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. A few minutes later a patrol car turns down the street in front of our house. And drives right past our house. And turns around. And stops at the neighbors house 2 doors down. And then he went to the next door neighbors house, all the time I am standing on the front porch with all of the lights on waving my arms. (We are in good hands here in Mapleton). The 17 year old patrol officer finally finds our house and proceeds to take a body count to determine how many ambulances to dispatch. I repeated assured this 118 pound public servant that the 3 of us now standing on the porch were the only ones home and that we were all awake and alert. No need for an ambulance--or 3. He radios in to dispatch that all occupants were safe and that there was no need for an ambulance. Just then the fire truck shows up. 3 firemen walk up with their equipment and send the police officer on his way. (I'm glad to know that Mapleton is safe with such a veteran police officer patroling the streets!)
So, the fireman comes in with the gauge and gets a reading near the alarm/furnace of 23 ppm. Apparently our monitor that is wired to our alarm system is sensitive to 20 ppm. We opened the windows and turned off the furnace. They went outside to clear out the gauge. When they measured the main floor, it read 8. The alarm went off as the CO dropped below 20. We had to reassure the fire department that we would not stay in the house over night and that we would have the furnace serviced immediately. Great. A holiday/weekend/evening service call. We can't seem to have a crisis at this home until it's at the worst possible time. See this story from a few months ago.
So, after about an hour and a 20 degree temperature drop in the house from having the windows open, the furnace guy comes. Sure enough. The furnace is the problem. As he took the blower apart, it was COVERED with drywall, sheetrock and all sorts of construction junk. He took the blower back to the service shop to clean out the blower. It came back looking brand spanking new. So, we have lived in this house for about 32 months with the furnace/ac blower full of dust, dirt and trash. The furnace is NOT supposed to be used during construction. Hum, I wonder how this happens and who to blame. I'm sure there will be some finger pointing.
So, after about 3 hours, furnace service guy gives us our options:
Keep using the furnace we have because it's now in good working condition.
Replace the furnace and save so much in utilities because of higher efficiency and rebates, that the system replacement would pay for itself in approx. 5 years.

Who knows what we'll do, but furnace service guy is coming back next week to work on the basement furnace.

What we also found out:

Most CO monitors are not that reliable. Many of them are not even sensitive until about 70 to 75 ppm. By that time, you would be symptomatic. You'd probably be on the way to the ER. Rick has already treated several patients with CO poisoning this season. Some BYU students came in recently who had a reading in their apartment of 80. I'm not certain if they had a monitor or if they came it because they were feeling ill. But, Rick assures me that the price we have to pay to the furnace service guy for a holiday/weekend/evening service call will be much less than the cost of 3 (or 4 or 5) of us to visit the ER and take a trip in the hyperbaric (100% oxygen) chamber for several hours apiece.
So, we've done a little research on CO monitors. I would really recommend that all of you have more than 1 in your home. Check them regularly. And spend the money to buy a good one. If you end up needing it, it will save you loads of money in the long run to have monitor that is more sensitive. Also, if you have one, check it out on the internet. Look up the brand. Find out how sensitive it is.

The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu--headache, nausea, shortness of breath. Which sounds similar to the effects of Thanksgiving feasting the day before...

We don't really know how long we have been exposed to the low levels of CO. Maybe since we've been using the furnace since it cooled off this fall. Rick and I have been doing this crazy P90X workout for the past 6 weeks. I've felt so wiped out, but now I'm blaming it on very low CO poisoning. Now that the problem is solved and the air is better in my house, I'll see if my energy level goes up and the workouts get easier. probably not.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

pickled beets and flowering cabbage

This is one of the two flowering cabbages that I managed to grow from seed. I picked it last week and put it in the house so that I could enjoy it for one last week before winter really settled in for good. My Grandma Ethel would grow these in her yard. They would grow about waist high. I have no idea how she did it. People would stop and take pictures of her flowering cabbages. (Mom, do you have any pictures of them? or of Grandma with them?)
Some other things that she grew that I remember were columbine, marigolds, and petunias. They had a hedge of lilac bushes that were thick and beautiful green. But, they never blossomed. I think that had something to do with the fact that Grandpa kept them pruned back and he was actually cutting off the "next seasons blooms". They had a snowball bush that I always thought was beautiful. And the Forsythia bushes that bloom in the spring always remind me of Grandma.

And the beets...My Grandma made the best pickled beets. It's been years, but I am going to try to grow beets next spring and see if I can replicate the taste of pickled beets like Grandma Ethel used to make. And my other favorite food from Circleville was "Noodles". I would beg my Grandma to make homemade noodles. My mouth is watering right now. I can feel the texture of the noodles in my mouth. My Aunt Dolores has tried to make noodles like Grandma, but she says that she can't seem to get it just right. Grandma didn't have an exact recipe--she just made them from memory. Oh well. I'll stick with the pickled beets for now. I don't really want to attempt Grandma's noodle recipe until I have a little more time on my hands.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Calculating the harvest

well, the canning season is over. Happy and Sad. The problem with canning is that those darn fruits and vegetables just ripen on their own time and demand to be bottled according to their own schedule with no regard to my schedule.
I thought that I would list all of the things that I canned this year and last. I think it will help me to see how fast we are using up these things and help me decide in the spring what I should be planting.

(Not that the rest of the world even cares about what I planted or harvested, but if I write my own list and put it in a special place where I will always remember it, then I will not find it until Cole graduates from high school. So, I will record it here and will always remember where to find my list...)

Peach Jam 8 pints
strawberry Jam 8 pints
Salsa Verde 24 pints
Tomatoes 5 quarts (and lots of frozen tomatoes)
Jalapeno 4 pints
mustard relish 14 pints
Zucchini relish 8 pints
Jalapeno jelly 10 pints
Tomato Juice 4 quarts
Apricot Nectar 7 quarts

Currant Jelly 3 pints
Grape Jelly 1 pint
Chokecherry Jelly 12 pints
Peach Cranberry conserve 7 pints
Pepper Jelly 3 pints

BBQ sauce 8 pints
Enchalada sauce 7 pints
Salsa (USU version) 4 pints
Salsa (zesty version) 16 pints
Chili sauce 9 pints
Peach Pie filling 10 quarts
Peaches 5 quarts
Honey Spiced Peaches 6 quarts
Plum jelly (syrup) 6 pints

Plus, during the summer of 2009 I filled the top of the freezer with stawberry, raspberry, and mixed berry freezer jam because I prefer eating freezer jam. But, I like to have freezer jam and jam on the shelf because you never know when the power will be out for an extended period of time and you will be forced to eat all of the freezer jam in one week. And then you can sit back and relax because you still have jam on the shelf that won't go bad.

One thing I noticed for both years... NOT ENOUGH HOT PEPPERS!!
Do not plant those nasty pear tomatoes.
Let the cherry tomatoes grow from seed in the area next to the drive-way. They are so yummy.
Do not let more than 5 tomatillo plants grow. They are really just weeds.
Next year...plant carrots and beets in the "tomato row". That has good soil without rocks and will allow the roots to grow nicely.
Do not plant more than 1 zucchini plant. Even if they come in a 3 pack.
Plant more pumpkins.
Plant more indian corn along the back fence.

And last of all pray that the apricots freeze again next spring.

Any other suggestions?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Corn Husk Dolls

Remember the wreath I made a couple of weeks ago with the Indian Corn? Well, we took a bunch of the leftovers and made some corn husk dolls. I had used a bunch of the corn stalks to decorate the front yard and I still had a bunch left so I found a great tutorial on corn husk dolls here.

It was pretty fun and quite an easy project. We made several batches of dolls. I looked at different projects on the internet for different ideas. One of the ideas that looked like fun was to make a nativity scene from the corn husk dolls. I just thought I would post this idea for some of you who have corn stalks decorating your yard for Fall. Don't throw away your corn stalks until you have made some corn husk dolls. It would make a great Thanksgiving activity. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom's birthday. I hope you have a good one. We'll celebrate on Sunday with dinner.
This picture (not the original) was taken on August 5, 1998. It was Summer's first birthday and just 2 days before we moved from Utah to Kirksville, MO.

BTW, Pretty typical of my dad to be wearing a 49ers hat. Right after this picture was taken, Dad got out the maps to find out exactly where Kirksville, MO was.

Grandpa Whitey and the mower

Not a great picture, I realize, but it goes along with my recent post about family history. This is my Grandpa Whitey. (Morgan Leon Dalton) He got the nickname Whitey because when he was young his hair was so dark. On formal occasions he went by the name Leon, and not Morgan because his father was also Morgan. Anyhoooo...this picture was probably taken around 1980 to 1985. If you have a better guess (or the original photo) let me know. I think Grandpa mowed the lawn about 3 times a week--his own & and the park next door. I think when the mower lines faded is when he decided it was time to mow again. I wish the picture showed more of the yard because it was always so beautiful.

Indian Corn Wreath

This was our harvest of Indian Corn:

My talented back yard neighbor had the cutest wreath on her door last fall and I told her how much I loved it and she told me that she MADE IT. HERSELF. WITH THE CORN SHE GREW in her own yard. So, sometime last winter I received a little brown bag with a few ears of Indian corn for me to plant in the spring to grow my own Indian corn. I was so excited.
So, here I am armed with my glue gun and wire cutters.
My corn turned out a little funny looking, kind of small. Oh well.
I made my wreath in a circle shape. I liked Amara's a little better--
it was a little more random with groups of 2-3 ears of corn grouped together.
I saved a few ears of corn so that I could plant another crop next year and see if I can't make a little better looking wreath.
And this was the final result, before I found a permanent spot on a little table on the front porch for the wreath.

PS Is it politically correct to call it Indian corn. If there is a more correct term let me know so as not to offend anyone with my craftiness. It's just corn.


No this wan't Cole's Halloween costume. This is Cole in his official Japanese Samuri gear. Jason and Kyoko brought his back from their most recent trip to Japan. Cole has been a little weirded out by the whole thing, but we recently convinced him to try it on. Too bad I didn't get a better picture of him in it. It's pretty heavy duty for a little guy to wear around. He did look pretty handsome in it. I need to get a few more facts about it from Kyoko...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This is why I go to the Youth Sunday School Class...

so, Rick has informed me that nobody really reads my blogs any more. So, I guess I am not writing this for anyone else to read but for myself so that I can remember this event...
it was Sunday School last week. Brother G gave the lesson (actually a 2 part lesson) entitled "The hearts of the Children Shall Turn to Their Fathers" and Finding Joy in Temple and Family History Work. I really enjoyed the lesson that Brother G gave. I think that he prepared the lesson just for me because of the way that it touched my heart.
First, he wrote a bunch of names on the board. Then he proceeded to tell a little bit about each person. Then he wrote his own name on the board and drew lines from each person's name to his own to show how he was related to each person.
Then, he asked the class if they knew all of their grandparents. He called on one girl to answer the question. I don't know anything about her situation other than she is adopted and her parents are "older". I know that she has siblings because she has referred to them before, but i don't think that any of them still live at home. Anyway, she said "no". She does not know her grandparents or even their names. I was a bit shocked. There is another girl in the class who didn't even know how to answer the question. She is 17. She was officially adopted last week, I know this because I attended the court where she was adopted. She has been living with her "new" family since February. So, she hasn't had very long to become familiar with her family tree. Plus, she had a foster family she lived with for 4 years, an adopted family before that, plus her biological family. That's a lot of people to get to know. Clearly these young people have a long way to go in getting to know their ancestors, but this lesson was so encouraging and exciting that I hope they will all feel the Spirit of Elijah and turn their hearts to their ancestors.
One thing I thought about during the lesson was that I had the opportunity to know 3 of my grandparents. I spent A LOT of time with my Dalton Grandparents. I would beg to stay with them in Circleville every summer. As a young child visiting my Grandparents, this is what our days would consist of:
watch a few game shows,
then out to the yard to water and prune (my Grandpa was a maniac with the pruners--especially the electric ones)
gardening--they had a huge garden and my favorite thing to eat was the turnips.
mow the park--they lived next door to the city park and for a long time I just thought that the park was a continuation of their own yard. my Grandpa took great pride in the presentation of the park.
dump--we would take a load of trash to the dump and we would rumage around the trash piles left behind for things to recycle. my Grandpa would take different metals, batteries, bottles, whatever to Richfield to cash in for a few dollars.
and there was the cemetery. if the park was a continuation of their yard, then so was the cemetery. It wasn't just a quick stop either. We would either pack water jugs to the graves or a hose to hook up to the tap. Grandpa always traveled with a shovel, rake and hoe just in case some work needed to be done. I think this was the first "exposure" I had to family history work. I learned never to walk on the gravesite. I learned who was buried in which cemetery and a little story about the people who were buried there. I loved to hear the stories about these people I never knew. One thin that we always did when we went to the Circleville cemetery was walk and walk and walk all the way down to the far Northeast corner. This is where Julia Dalton was buried. That was my Grandpa's Grandmother. We always cleared off a little area next to her grave. One year I learned that the reason my Grandpa cleared off that area is because that is where his brother, Dwight, was buried. I wouldn't have known that if Grandpa hadn't talked about his brother who died in childhood, because there wasn't a headstone or grave marker. I didn't realize the significance of that information until about the year 2000. My mom's cousin, who is also a Dalton, was trying to get all of the Dalton records together. He had located everyone except Dwight. It was a deadend. They couldn't find out anything about this child. Cousin J mentioned this one time when I was present and I said, "I know about Dwight. He died as a child and is buried in Circleville." Nobody had figured that out because there was no grave marker. Cousin J was able to find the cemetery record. Find the birth and death date, and find a death certificate quite easily. Shortly after, Dwight's temple work was done. He had died at age 18 months and was sealed to his parents.
Another cemetery story I have is about a cousin of my mom. She is buried in the world's most ugly cemetery--Junction, Utah. The first cemetery in that community was in a grassy area that became a little swampy as the area was farmed and frequently flooded with irrigation water. So, to combat the sinking graves, they relocated the cemetery to a hill where there is only wind, sage brush, and snakes. The road spirals around the hill until you get to the top and then you spiral back down. Buried in Junction are some of my Grandma Ethel's family. We would find ourselves in Junction quite often to check on those ancestors. My mom had a cousin named LaWanna. LaWanna died when she was 12 years old of a head injury from falling out of the back of a moving pick-up truck. When we were kids and we'd see a pickup truck with kids in back bed of the truck, we'd always ask to ride in the back and we'd always get the same answer, "you cannot ride in the back of the truck. That's how LaWanna died." I thought of that story every time I went to Junction and every time that I see people riding in the back of a pick-up truck. Not too long ago I found myself telling the LaWanna story to my own kids and explaining why we don't ride in the back of a truck.

We've always had a thing for cemeteries in my family. If we were ever driving in certain areas in Southern Utah, my mom would say, "Stop here" and we'd know she was going to go walk though a cemetery. If we drive certain places now, we can say to each other, "Remember when we made Dad stop so we could check out that cemetery?" and then we laugh because we are weird.

I don't know as much about my Robison ancestors. Their longevity isn't quite like the Dalton's. My Grandpa Robison died when he was 56ish. He had 27 grandchildren and died before any of them were born. He died 5 years before I was born. I know that he wasn't very tall. He was blind in one eye for a good part of his life. He had stopped on the road on the South side of Richfield to help change a tire and some how he was hit by another car and lost his eyesight. He was a quiet man who stuttered a bit. he was smart because I remember so many times as I was growing up my dad would use these little quotes or phrases and tell me that it was something his dad used to say. My dad did the same thing. One of his most famous phrases was, "If you're not 5 minutes early, you're late." I loved my dad's little quotes. I wish I had more of them written down. They come back to me from time to time and I will try to write them down as I remember them.
Grandma Robison died when I was 7. Some things I remember about her are that she twittled her thumbs. She could crochet and sew very well. She worked at the Drugstore in Richfield for years and while there became famous for her dipped chocolates called Forsey Bars. She didn't finish high school because she had to quit to go to work. Her family needed the money. Her older sister Jenny was in college to become a teacher, so my grandma quit school to work and support her sister and family.

Anyway, back to the Sunday School lesson. Brother G pointed out that is important to do what we can in our lives to get to know these people who came before us. I think of how many people sacrificed and suffered so that I can be where I am today. That I can live in this country, under these circumstances. Brother G pointed out that even if our family history work is done, what good will that do us when we die and are reunited with these people that we know nothing about. That would be sad. That would be part of the prophesy of the whole earth would be "utterly wasted" at the Lord's coming. For "the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link...between the fathers and the children." D&C 128:18

One more point that was made in the lesson is the significance of technology in facilitating this commandment. Blogs, facebook, the internet in general can be such a time waster. But if we use technology to our advantage, we can all be instrumental in turning the hearts of the children to their fathers.

Look for more posts about cemeteries, family, grandma nan stealing a tractor, pickled beets...

Sunday, October 25, 2009


We took a little field trip that last weekend to Las Vegas to attend the U2 concert. It's my 4th, 3 of them in this same stadium. The last time I was there I was pregnant with Summer. Wow, that's been a long time. It was so worth it, so much fun. The stage was unbelievable. We read that it is a $30 million stage. They have been touring since last spring and as of Sep. 29, they still had not broken even. It costs $750,000 each day to pay the entire stage crew. 120 semi's to transport the equipment. Not very environmentally friendly. They've gotten a lot of criticism from the environmentalists. But, it sure made for a great show.
a little story...when we lived in MS, I purchased tickets to see U2. The closest show was in St. Louis a mere 7 hours away. Just 2 weeks after that purchase I found out that I was pregnant with Cole and was due the week of the concert. So sad. I had tried for such a long time to get pregnant. Rick was always trying to plan a trip for us, but I would never let him plan anything that was more than 7 or 8 months out just in case I got pregnant. Then I go and buy tickets and jinx the whole thing. If I had known that that it all it would take to get pregnant, I would have let him plan a cruise/vacation much sooner...Anyway, we sold the tickets to a nice lady from Arkansas and pretty much broke even--thank goodness. And as good as the U2 concert would have been, we are happy to have Cole with us. (just not with us at the concert this weekend. hehe)