Monday, June 30, 2008

Simply Breathing Better Together

June 30, 2006

Once upon a time a girl and a boy met. They became friends. Soon they realized that they could sense one another's feelings and thoughts. They laughed, cried, ate, talked, and played together. Sometimes (well often, actually) people would tell them that they should date and get married. Their answer was usually, "it's complicated."

After several years the boy moved far, far away. They missed each other. The boy called the girl and said, "I think we should think about getting married." The girl said, "Ok, but this is freaking me out." The boy replied, "just breathe."

They talked and talked and talked. It was fun and sometimes scary. The boy visited the girl. The girl visited the boy (all in two weeks time). They decided they could choose to make it "simple" instead of "complicated." While standing in front of the most beautiful, peaceful, Spirit-filled place on earth*, they chose to get engaged.

It was hard to be engaged while so far apart. She reminded him to "keep it simple." He reminded her to "breathe." They got married in the most beautiful, peaceful, Spirit-filled place on earth**. He remembered to keep it simple and she remembered to breathe.

And they've been living happily, ever after (with some really difficult challenges and some emotional moments when she forgot to breathe and he forgot to keep it simple but they've grown together through those times and they also have a beautiful daughter that has helped them see the simple and remember to breathe).

(not even close to)
The End
(because they have each other forever).

Happy Anniversary Babe

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Grandpa has good taste in clothes

Eden received a package from Grandpa K this week. He went shopping (by himself) and this is one of the cute outfits. Good job shopping Grandpa!

Eden giving "baby" hugs:

and kisses:

looking so cute in her new dress:

I just don't even know what to say about this one (actually, Phil was trying to show Eden how to "choose happy" instead being a grump):
Best friends playing (this was actually funny, they were playing with the nesting dolls from Char and Eden was so frustrated that the "baby" of the group didn't open like the rest):

Friday, June 27, 2008

Food Friday - Easy Pasta Bake

This is one of our favorite meals because it is both tasty and easy.

Favorite Pasta
Favorite Meat
Favorite Cheeses
1 Can of Stewed Tomatoes
1 Can of Tomato Sauce
(you can replace the tomatoes and sauce with Ragu or something)
Mushrooms (canned or fresh) (can be deleted)
Italian spices

Preheat oven to 350

Take a medium sized baking dish.  Put about 1 1/2 C of dry pasta (we've used small shells, bows, elbows, angel hair, whatever we have). Open a can of stewed tomatoes - dump it in.  Open a can of tomato sauce - dump it in.  You can add sliced mushrooms for extra texture. Add whatever spices you like (oregano, basil, garlic, pepper - the tomatoes are usually salty enough that you won't want to add salt). Mix.  If you want you can add cooked meat (ground beef, chicken strips, ham strips, bacon, etc.). Sprinkle your favorite cheese on top (parm., ched., moz., etc.). Put a lid on your dish and bake for 1 hour. Remove the lid for the last 15 min. to get the cheese nice and crispy (Phil's favorite part).

Serve with your favorite veggies and fruit and some french bread and you have a yummy, nutritious meal. You also have very few dishes since you mixed, baked, and served it all in the same dish.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More on blogs

Here are 5 people that I wish had a blog that I could read:

1 - Irene - she knows so many people and has so many experiences from which to draw, wouldn't she be a great blogger?

2 - Brandy R. - I love her insights about situations and people.  Hers would definitely be a blog I'd read.

3 - My sister Merilee - she sends these great long emails about the day to day happenings in her busy life (7 kids!) and I'd love to be able to go to a blog and read about everything that is going on with her family.  She is also very intelligent and it would be fun to read an occasional commentary by her. (We've discussed this and she is entirely opposed to blogs so I fear this is a lost cause.)

4 - Mary Y. (my previous YW leader) - it would be great to get more caught up on her life and the lives of those I left behind in Oregon.

5 - Sarah C. (my previous missionary companion) - she is extremely witty and has a way of perceiving the world with the kind of detail that most of us just don't get.  She should TOTALLY start a blog. Besides, she has a really funny husband and two adorable/funny kids.  It's a winning combination!

Who would you like to see start blogging?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Splurge Party

A month or so ago our scouts had an auction in order to raise funds for scout camp. One of the things being auctioned off was a Maurice's "Splurge Party." Well, I knew that I had to have that item for my young women. I went and met with the store staff that would be working at our party. I told them that I wanted them to discuss with the girls how to dress for various body types and how to dress modestly. I pointed out that for me "modest" meant nothing sleeveless and nothing that showed ANY cleavage. So, tonight we met and celebrated one of the girls' birthdays and then we went to Maurice's after they closed. We had an hour and a half to spend in the store. The employees spent time with each girl helping her pick out modest clothing that worked for her. The girls each had a private dressing room and then they got to model their outfits. We took pictures and as soon as I get them (it wasn't my camera), I will post pictures. It was a really fun evening. I think the girls all left feeling good about themselves and having had a good time.

Our last two Sunday lessons have been about missionary work. On Sunday the missionaries came in and challenged the girls to share the Book of Mormon with others. I brought two copies of the Book of Mormon and invited the girls to give one to each of the two employees at Maurice's. They did it. They were a little nervous but they did it. Way to go girls!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blogs on RadioWest

Did anyone catch RadioWest today?  It was about blogs. What makes a good one? Why do people read them? Why do people write them? What compels someone to leave a comment? Are the good ones "snarky" and/or rude?

I didn't really agree with most of what was said and so I was wondering what my blogging friends think.  How would you answer those questions?

A Day (or three) in the Life of Power Port Phil

Today Phil goes in for another infusion (the term used for intravenous drug therapy - chemotherapy in his case). For a while we thought this would be his last one. At his last appointment, two weeks ago, the Nurse Practitioner (NP) told him that she thought that the Oncologist wanted him to have chemo through August. It was upsetting news and frustrating to say the least. He asked her to check with the Oncologist (who is on maternity leave until mid-July). Imagine his complete frustration and just utter blah when the NP called and said that she'd discussed things with the Oncologist and actually she wants him to have chemo through October! OCTOBER???? Not the news we were hoping for. Of course they say, "it is ultimately up to you." I read in one medical journal that a patient who was having this type of chemo (preventative or adjuvant*) said, "so you want me to go through that hell to hopefully destroy cancer cells that you aren't sure are there and then when you are done you won't be able to tell me if it worked?" Phil says that is exactly how he feels.

So, today is not his last treatment. I thought it might be interesting to describe a bit of how this all works. I don't intend for it to be whiney but lets face it, you aren't going to come away from reading this and think, "wow, that Phil, what a lucky guy to get to do that every two weeks!" And with that warning, I will now proceed to describe what Phil will experience today (and the next two days).

He gets up at around 5:30 a.m. and showers (enjoying his last shower for three days), gets ready, eats (enjoying his last real meal for three or four days), and drives about 90 minutes to University of AL-B'ham.  He checks in. Then he waits.  He sits in a large room of other chemotherapy patients and their families.  The television is ALWAYS on the station that carries Tyra and all those court shows (like Judge Judy, et al). Not the most engaging programming.  In the air is the sickening smell of stale coffee (because they have free coffee for everyone who is waiting).  Finally after waiting for a while a nurse calls him back and they take samples of his blood so that they can make sure he is healthy enough for them to make him sick.  They test his white count and every-other-time his CEA. The blood is drawn through his Power Port so at least he doesn't have to be stuck.  When that is done, he returns to the waiting room and he waits.

Eventually he is called back to the infusion room and given either a chair or a bed (like a hospital bed) and his nurse begins the infusion.  He starts with decadron (a steroid meant to help him deal with the chemo).  Then they give him avastin (another drug that isn't chemo but runs interference so that the chemo doesn't do too much damage to healthy cells).  It has now been about an hour and a half since he's been in the chair.  The next drug is oxaliplatin (the platinum-based drug that does lots of damage to his tongue, his feet, and nose). After about two hours of the oxaliplatin, his pump is delivered along with the drug cocktail referred to as 5FU (this is the one that makes him nauseated). When that is all set up, he puts the pump in his fanny pack and drives home.  Once a month he also has an appointment with the Oncologist - I usually go with him on those weeks.

The smells of stale coffee, alcohol, and that distinctive-yet-unknown smell of hospitals are enough to make anyone nauseated.  Imagine someone who has poison being pumped into him and has made the emotional/psychological/physical association with being sick.  Yeah, he hates it.  He also hates all the waiting (even though he can take his laptop and do some work).

By the time he gets home his skin will be the color of radioactive yellow.  It is a hard color to describe but it is truly not a natural looking color. At first it really freaked me out.  By tomorrow he will have traded the yellow for pink (a color that I enjoy much better).

He'll spend the next three days taking three different anti-nausea medicines which won't completely do the job.  He will have to avoid all food and drink that is colder than room temperature.  He also will need to avoid touching anything colder than room temperature (oven mitts become refrigerator mitts). Increasingly, he will run out of the energy to hold and then to interact with Eden.  This is hard for him - they are great buds and adore each other. He will feel guilty because he thinks these weeks are hard on me emotionally and physically (and he won't be entirely wrong but I hate that he would feel guilty about it - I know he wouldn't have chosen this!).  He will lose between 5 and 10 pounds. 

He will have the pump and tubing of 5FU hooked up until I remove it all (including the needle!) 46 hours after the 5FU was started.  The pump will sound an alarm and we will go into the bathroom-turned-into-a-hospital-room and I will flush his line and remove the needle.  The Power Port really is pretty slick.  I'm grateful that we don't have to deal with blood.

After he gets unhooked he will spend the next two days trying to get his appetite back, hoping he's able to hold food down, and regaining his energy.  We both try hard not to think about the fact that he only has 10 days (at that point) until he gets to do it again.

We are grateful to live in a time when there are diagnostics and therapies available for cancer. We are especially grateful to live in a time when the priesthood has been restored and that the blessings of the priesthood power are available. Truly, we have both been very blessed in many ways throughout this ordeal.

...even so, cancer stinks!

*It takes approximately one million cancer cells to make a growth large enough to detect. Therefore the fact that there is no detectable cancer means he has less than a million cells - he could still have thousands. Therefore they do this adjuvant treatment in order to, we hope, reduce or destroy those cells that still may or may not exist in his body.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pee (yes, I just said pee)

Today during sacrament meeting Eden was sitting on my lap when suddenly I felt a warmth come over me. No, it wasn't the Spirit (although it was an excellent meeting - the YW were reporting on camp). I rushed out to change Eden. Strangely her bloomers were soaked, my skirt was soaked, but her diaper was only slightly wet. I think the diaper was missing the plastic coating or something because it was definitely on correctly (we've made THAT mistake before). The pee just cruised through the so-called diaper and gave me that warm feeling (not to mention that wet feeling).

Eden is becoming a bit of a disruption during church these days. Gone are the days (or so it seems) that she is content to sit on my lap and make eyes at the branch members around her. Today she was sitting on the floor in front of me. She began to make a wailing sound. I looked down to find that she'd gotten the hymnal. Yup, she was "singing." Another funny is that during the Sacrament (remember how she LOVES that!) she had emptied her small sacrament cup of water and was disappointed that it was gone. The next thing I knew, she was spitting into her cup so she'd have more "water" to sip (genius! - gross, but genius!).

And where was Phil during all of this? Sitting on the stand smiling down at us from time to time but mostly oblivious to all the fun we were having.

Good times!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Poo (yes, I just said poo)

Before Phil and I were engaged we were at a get-together with the Voice Male couples* and listened as these other couples discussed the many and diverse joys of parenthood. (They had no idea that we were about a week away from getting engaged and that their horror stories were not helping us feel comfortable about taking that plunge!) We heard stories about barf, poo, and snot that were just plain yucko.

Well, we have since had our own experiences. One of those was tonight. Phil was giving Eden a bath. She had eaten a TON at dinner. Well, food in means poo out. Unfortunately her timing wasn't so good. I'll spare you the details but lets just say that the tub got cleaned a day earlier than it would otherwise have been.

Those of you with children are probably thinking about your own "fun" experiences. Those of you without children are thankful. Those pregnant with your first child (ok, I think that is just you Char) are thinking... BRING IT ON!

*At least once a year the VM guys take their wives out for a night on the town. It is called "Wife Appreciation Night" and is just a nice time to splurge on good food/entertainment and mostly to get together and laugh. I have attended several (although only one so far as an actual VM wife).

Food Friday - Stir Fry

Use your favorite veggies (frozen or fresh) and your favorite protein (pork, chicken, beef, tofu, armadillo, whatever) to make a quick meal. Just make sure that all the veggies are cut to about the same size (so they cook uniformly). Cook the thawed or fresh meat first and then add your veggies. Cook just long enough to make the veggies tender (don't overcook - they should be crispy).

Then add your favorite stir fry sauce. Here are some that I made up (which means that I'm guessing on the amounts since when I'm jazz cooking I don't really measure). Use them, change them, enjoy them.

Sweet & Sour Sauce
1/2 C Soy Sauce
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/4 C Rice Vinegar
1T Corn Starch
Mix in a small bowl and pour over cooked stir fry. Boil for 1-2 minutes.

Thai Peanut Sauce

1/2 C Soy Sauce
1/2 C Peanut Butter (creamy or chunky)
2 T Brown Sugar
2 T Rice Vinegar
1/2 t Red Pepper Flakes
Mix with a wire wisp (or is it a whisk or a whip - I've heard them all) in a small bowl until it becomes smooth. Pour over cooked stir fry. Boil for 1-2 minutes. (add peanuts to your stir fry to make this extra yummy!)

Brown Sauce (very mild)

1/4 C Soy Sauce
1/2 C Beef Broth
2 T Brown Sugar
2 T Corn Starch
Mix in a small bowl. Pour over cooked stir fry. Boil for 1-2 minutes (particularly good with beef).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not gonna do it...

Remember this post about the things I just don't do around the house? Well, this is a related post.

Phil is a fabulous dad and husband. He ably and willingly takes care of dirty diapers, food messes, and even boogers.* However; there are a few things that Phil just hasn't been able to tackle quite yet.

  1. You won't catch Phil cleaning the earwax out of Eden's ears.
  2. Although he attempted it once, Phil does not cut Eden's nails.
  3. Phil will not be the one who will stand by and watch Eden hurt herself (even just a little) just so that she can learn a lesson. (When she is playing with the kitchen or dresser drawers -opening and shutting them - it about kills him because he is sure she is going to slam her fingers shut in the drawer.)**
When you figure everything that must be done for a small child, it is really an impressively short list.

*This is a complete surpri
se to all who know Phil - especially himself. Probably the biggest fear he had about having a baby around was the whole idea of snot and boogers. One time (before Eden was born) we were at my parent's house and I was in another room. I rejoined the gang and realized that Phil was missing. I found him downstairs gagging. He had tried to be the hero and wipe my nephew's nose. He just couldn't do it without dry heaving.

**Phil can't stand young children to be in pain. I'm still not completely sure if this aversion is due to his empathy or the annoying noise most pained children make. One time his niece was playing with a candle and burned her finger. She began to howl. Phil couldn't take it and had to leave the care-giving to his brother Ken so that he could leave the area - away from the sounds of her pain.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hey baby, what's your sign?

Today I was at our local Winn Dixie pickin' up the fixin's for Phil's father's day bashilicious dinner. The place was hoppin' busy. Eden and Phil were at home so rather than entertain my cute-but-at-times-impatient daughter during the wait I picked up People magazine and began to read about Elizabeth Smart (she is 20 now and finally speaking out about her abduction).

Then the following conversation occurred between myself and the fifty-ish man in line ahead of me...

Man: I gotta get me a lawyer.
Me (reluctantly looking up from People): hmmm?
Man: You so purty, I got a crook in my neck from starin'.
Me (awkwardly looking back down to People while giving a reserved half-smile): mmmm...

I kid you not. Plllease!

So what is your favorite pick up line (either that you've used or that someone has attempted to use on you)?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Food Friday - Chili Relleno

1 qt. Cottage Cheese
1 C crushed Ritz crackers
6 Eggs - beaten
1 small Onion (minced)
1 T Parsley flakes
8 oz. Mont. Jack cheese (grated)
8 oz. Cheddar cheese (grated)
2 small cans Whole Green Chilis

Mix cottage cheese, crackers, eggs, onion, parsley.

In a casserole dish (sprayed with oil) layer the above mixture, grated cheeses, then peppers.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Eden's BFF

Eden is so excited to welcome her BFF* to earth sometime around Oct. 10! Yippee! It's a girl!

*We've been hoping Charlotte was having a girl because although it would be fun to try to arrange a Kesler-Cantwell wedding, how likely is that to really pan out? But it is TOTALLY possible for Eden and baby-girl Cantwell to be BFFs. We are so excited for Charlotte and Eric!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Four years ago I invited several friends to join me in learning about the various issues related to the election. A few of them took me up on my offer. We met a couple of times and decided upon about 8 topics/issues. Then we each volunteered to become informed about one issue. That meant reading up on the topic, learning what each candidate had to say about the topic, researching what others had to say about the topic and the candidates' stands/proposals on that issue. For the following eight weeks we each took a turn to educate the rest of the group on each topic/issue.

When November came along, we were able to vote as informed voters (well, more informed). It felt good. We didn't all come to the same conclusions (Phil and I didn't even vote for the same candidate). Even those who voted for the same candidate did so for different reasons. The purpose was not to convince everyone else to "see the light." This was a strictly non-partisan exercise. I really liked it.

Now here we are once again looking at a presidential election. I have moved and don't have that same group of friends to help me get informed. Well, I still have those friends but I don't think we'll be meeting at Adam's Park every other Saturday through the summer. So, how about if we meet in cyberspace instead?

If you are interested in joining me in this activity of political awareness, leave a comment and also suggest the topics/issues that you'd like us to delve into (your suggestion doesn't commit you to have to become the "expert" on that particular topic). Depending on how many of you want to join in this and how many topics we want to discuss, I may start a separate blog for this enlightening and politically responsible exercise. So, stay tuned...

Let's get informed...ish!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Food Friday - Honey Chicken Wings

1 1/2 C honey
1 C soy sauce
1/2 C ketchup

Brown 30 chicken wings in a shallow pan. Mix honey, soy sauce, and ketchup well. Place the wings in a crock pot then pour sauce over them. Cook for 3 hours. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve. Serve with rice. Makes 6-8 servings.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Although I am normally an MMM (mild mannered mommy) on this blog, I am going to turn into another version of myself - the ranting politico!

I am so absolutely tired of receiving forwarded emails with half truths and untruths about various political individuals and situations. Ann Coulter, I despise your methods! I think that there is very little worth in most of what you say. You demean the process for your own fun and gain and fame. Shame on you and everyone else like you!

I am insulted by the propaganda of fear and emotionalism. It just gets me all bugged to receive these forwards which contain lies and partial truths and get good people riled up about the conditions of our nation and society. Certainly there is great cause to be concerned and to get involved so why re-focus people's attention on things that are not legitimate?

Here are some of my most hated lies:

  • "In God We Trust" is NOT being removed from our coins. Some of the new coins have it on the ridge but it is NOT gone!
  • Barak Obama is not a Muslim and even if he was, that would not automatically make him a terrorist or someone who hates America.
  • Obama removed his lapel pin American Flag in a speech indicating that after 9/11 it became fashionable to wear one and thereby "appear" as a patriot without doing much else. He said he wants to wear the flag in his heart and have his patriotism manifested in his actions NOT his accessories. You can argue with that decision but quit saying it is because he doesn't believe in America!
  • While it is true that Obama was caught on video tape NOT pledging the flag during the National Anthem, he is also the only candidate in that very same footage who is SINGING the Anthem. I don't know why he didn't have his hand on his heart but it seems I can't get to the bottom of it because everyone's time and trouble is focused on whether he is anti-American or not.
  • There is not legislation or an FCC petition to make it so the LDS Conference, Music and the Spoken Word, the 700 Club, or any other mention of religion or God via the airwaves will be illegal. The FCC reviewed the petition mentioned in the 1970s (and the petition was only that the FCC ensure that channels reserved for education not include religion) and found that it was not within their rights to approve it. The supposed instigator - Madalyn O'Hair - has been dead since 1995.*
What really makes me mad about all these kinds of things is that it completely distracts good people from being involved in reasonable political discussions. Instead of wasting our time on these lies let's discuss how it is that "We the People" can follow the example of other successful civilizations (including in the Book of Mormon) and the admonition of Christ to take care of the widows and children and impoverished. Let's discuss how "We the People" can end war and quit turning our young men and women into physically and emotionally wounded veterans. Let's discuss how "We the People" can insure the right of all children to be born but let's also discuss their right to an education and food and a life outside of poverty. Let's discuss how "We the People" can preserve our families and the Lord's definition of marriage. Let's discuss how "We the People" can take better stewardship of the Lord's creation - earth.

I'm insulted that pundits and "entertainers" and people who can make a YouTube video think they can put together some emotionally-charged words, images, and music and get me to quit thinking for myself. And yet, it seems to be successful for so many. Let's take a stand and refuse to be manipulated! I'm just so darn sick of it, aren't you?

*Madalyn O'Hair was not involved in the petition but she was an athiest and was one of the main instigators of removing prayer from schools - I bet she knows better now.

more ranting... how do you really think an email petition is going to work? If I sign it and send it to 10 people each of those ten have now started a whole new stream of emails. It doesn't all end up with the same list of signatures, does it? is a very good place to check your facts. You can also check the AP wires or Reuters. Choose reliable sources and check your facts before you forward!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Our Cool Kid

Monday, June 2, 2008


Last Friday was my birthday. It was a very nice weekend. For a while it looked like our plans to celebrate wouldn't happen because all eligible babysitters were involved in some sort of graduation (HS, seminary). Finally on Thursday I was beginning to surrender to the sinking feeling that we wouldn't get to get away at all. Just at that moment, Corrie called and said that although she couldn't watch Eden on Friday, she could that night. I called Phil and he made arrangements for us to eat at the nicest restaurant in town. Then Alisha called and said that her weekend away got canceled and she could watch Eden Friday if we wanted to go forward with our original plan (to go to an Indian restaurant in B'ham and then the temple) on Friday. We decided to stick with our plan to go out on Thursday and then go to the temple this Wednesday morning (the B'ham temple only has limited sessions each week). So, thanks to some wonderful friends, my birthday didn't have the stench of self-pity.

After our very nice dinner, we went to see Prince Caspian (really liked it). When we got home it was after midnight so Phil indulged me and allowed me to open my gifts then. As always he was very thoughtful in his gift-giving. Eden even "signed" her card (scribbles artfully applied to the writing surface). Friday morning Phil and Eden let me sleep in and made me delicious waffles with strawberries. Yum! Then I looked here and found a fabulous poem written in my honor!

We spent Friday preparing for a yard sale. Phil made some stylish Yard Sale signs that we posted around our community. We tracked down all our treasures and put price tags on them. It was a busy day. Then Saturday we arose very early so that we would be ready for our 7 a.m. visitors. And they came... they just didn't buy much. Clearly we don't understand the yard saler mentality. So those of you who frequent yard sales, what is it that makes for a good one? We didn't sell a single book but got rid of most of our CDs (even some LDS artists ones - little do those buyers know...).

Saturday night we went to a concert in the park with some friends. Eden was adorable. She loves to try to keep up with the other kids. It was fun. The Alabama Symphony Orchestra played music from films such as Harry Potter, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lord of the Rings, etc. There was a fun atmosphere. Phil made me a delectable chocolate cake with penuche frosting. We took it and shared it with those around us (some friends from church and some from JSU). It was a grand time.

So there you have it. Turning 41 was pretty spectacular.