Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Aquarium

Earlier in the summer, I had bought a season pass to the Atlanta Aquarium; however, because I forgot my camera in my excitement to go I didn't get any pictures of that trip. The Aquarium is kind of pricey, but if you buy the season pass and plan to go a couple times throughout the year then it is not so bad. Another thing I have learned is that Fridays are jammed packed as opposed to Mondays. You can see it all in one day, but it is nicer if you can just focus on one or two rooms and allow the children to play. The movie is cute and apart of the season pass, but I don't think I would pay for it additionally. Get there early because this will give you the best opportunity to view the tanks without the crowds. This Friday, we went to see the Titanic Exhibit which was not included in the pass, but was offered at a reduced cost. I think I would have loved it if I had been allowed to push Roman through in his stroller. He had no interest in seeing artifacts from a ship that sunk almost a hundred years ago. I didn't really have a chance to look at everything in great detail. He did enjoy touching the iceberg. I am glad that I went though.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reflections on having a child with CHD

Tonight I am feeling a little reflective. I think every ones lives change when they have a child, but I think our lives changed even more when we found out that our child had a Congenital Heart Disease. It was like we were children ourselves who were forced to face the hard reality that our child may or may not grow up to be an adult. He may never get married or have children himself. While Tetrology of Fallot is one of the most repairable of the Congenital Heart Diseases, with every procedure comes more risk. There isn't a moment that goes by that we do not worry if he is OK. We ask each other, "does he look blue to you?" Then wonder if we should call the pediatrician to get his oxygen levels tested. His heart will never be like yours or mine. It will always be a repaired heart. His heart leaks and someday he will need another surgery to replace his valve.
Tonight, I found out another heart baby has passed away. My heart is aching for her family. http://oliviahuelsbergen.blogspot.com/
While I have a strong testimony in my Savior Jesus Christ and his atonement, at times I am scared and angry. Angry that while Congenital Heart Disease is the number #1 birth defect it receives very little in terms of research dollars. How can we not pay attention to something that affects 1/100 children? One article that was written in the WSJ last week said that doctors often don't have the equipment or tools to treat children without a little guess work because the procedures and tools were not designed for them, but rather for adults. The are also left guessing on the amount of medication given to these patients. After our son had his surgery, I had to drive to several pharmacies because ours didn't carry that medication. While I am grateful for the American Heart Association they spend the majority of their budget studding preventive measures for adults. You read that right preventive! So that you and I can live a longer life, but children aren't even given that same chance. We can prevent heart disease by the choices we make, but congenital is something that you are born with.
Today hug your babies a little closer. Tonight pray that we can end the fighting. May we start putting our energies into finding a cure for Congenital Heart Disease.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My littlest sous chef

School has been back in session for two weeks now. I know Roman is sad his brothers are at school, but I know he enjoys having his mom to himself. What do we do all day? We go to the gym, we paint, we have play dates, and now we bake together. He loves mixing the ingredients together. He enjoys counting with me as I measure out the ingredients. Today he said, "I want to taste." Oh, did I mention he is talking full sentences. He has been talking like crazy since I got back from Germany. Which is amazing since just a little over a month ago he could only say about a 100 words. Plus his brothers couldn't talk full sentences till they were almost 3. We were worried his speech was going to be delayed since other children his age seemed to have a much larger vocabulary, and some studies have come out saying that children with Congenital Heart Defects suffer from delays. They think it might have something to do with being on by-pass and not getting enough oxygen as they are developing. He is fully on target now His first sentence was I want milk, but that was followed by I want to paint. He loves to paint and now he loves to play with play doh. p.s. he also dresses himself thus explains why his shirt is on backward and he is only wearing a diaper. Seriously I am not a white trash mother.

Roman making the pudding
for Jimmy Carter Pudding Cake

Jimmy Carter Pudding Cake
2 small boxes of chocolate pudding
4 cups of cold milk
1 block of cream cheese
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup of peanut butter
1 1/2 cups of whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 jar of maraschino cherries
1 cup of chopped peanuts plus some extra for decoration on top
2 cups of flour
2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
grated chocolate for decoration on top
Step one: In a bowl combine flour, butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, and chopped peanuts. Spread mixture in a 9x13 pan and bake for 20 -25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Step two: make pudding by adding the 4 cups of milk this is also according to box directions. I used instant pudding, so if you use cooked pudding follow the direction on the box
Step three: mix cream cheese, peanut butter, and powder sugar together
Step four: make whipping cream by adding vanilla and 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat with mixer until soft peaks form.
Step five: cool cookie layer
Step six: assemble ingredients by layering the peanut butter cream cheese, then pudding, then whip cream. Decorate with cherries, grated chocolate and peanuts.
This recipe has been changed from the original version. In original the recipe called for one box vanilla and one box of chocolate. I do not like vanilla pudding, so I changed it to all chocolate. The bottom layer actually came from the fact that I slightly burned the recipe the first time, but I new I couldn't use it because burnt nuts just don't taste good. As I was throwing it out, I tasted the cookie mixture and it tasted like flour to me and was very crumbly. I wanted to use this for a baby shower I am going to and want it to be easier to slice. While I am sure the original when all assembled taste fantastic I couldn't take chances. I called upon a Martha Stewart recipe for shortbread and added the peanuts like the original. I do want to give credit for the idea for this cake from an amazing blog I found called Deep South.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


On the way home from the mountains last weekend, we stopped at a farmers market. We ate yummy tasty flaky handheld peach pies. Then I bought a bushel of peaches. Tis the season for peaches. What was cool about stopping at the farmers market was that they let me taste different varieties of peaches before making my selection. Plus I got this cool basket to boot. On Monday, I spent the good part of the day with my mother canning peaches. Canning peaches is a two person job. I can't explain it, but there comes a certain satisfaction from eating food that I have helped produced in some way. The bushel of peaches yielded 12 quarts, 2 pints, and 2 peach cobblers that I took to friends. I have to say homemade canned peaches taste better, but boy were they a lot of work. I not sure I would do it again. I think I will stick to my jams, pickles, and salsa. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Toccoa Falls

On the way home from Tallulah Falls, we stopped at Toccoa Falls. It was about 10 miles off our way, but well worth going the extra miles The waterfall is located on the campus of Toccoa Falls. Cost $0. My middle child said, "Mom this is the best waterfall so far." I guess that says it all. The boys liked playing in the pool of water that gathered at the foot of the falls. You know you are in the south when you see a snake. I am not so sure this one was a friendly one. I think it might be a rattlesnake.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tallulah Falls

The Gorge
The pictures don't even do justice
The three of us on the suspension bridge
at the bottom

Summer is almost over, and I am trying to hold onto every last moment. Tallulah Falls is a short drive north of Atlanta in the northeast corner where Georgia meets South Carolina and North Carolina. It is so worth the drive. One thing you don't want to forget is money. All the national parks have a small entrance fee, and to get into this one cost $5. There are no banks in the town. I was lucky that a small store was willing to front me the money with a small purchase. The gorge and falls are a small walk of about a 1/4 mile on a rubber covered trail. This part is easy to do with children and strollers; however, to get to the bottom you will need to come early because they only allow a 100 permits a day. You still can walk most of the way down. There are a set of 1012 stairs, and you can not do this will strollers or pets. When I saw the set of stairs I wasn't so keen on going down, but the boys wouldn't let me cop out. The views of the water fall are worth it.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Apart of being a Boy Scout is that you need to take part in doing different task and experiences. His grandma took him on the CNN tour, to be able to complete a requirement for his communication badge. I thought he was going to come home and say how lame it was, but he really enjoyed seeing how everything works. He was the perfect age. He loved it and couldn't stop talking about the tour.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New DO!

I have had long hair for the last three years. I like my hair both ways. I was ready for a change. Wasn't sure how short I was going to go, but I decided to go for it. Plus with it being so hot right now I was just plain hot and most days I just tended to stick it in a pony tail and that does not count for style. What is something you have wanted to do for a while, but haven't been brave enough to do?

Got Milk?

No bake cookies were a favorite of mine as a child. I remember being so excited when they would be offered on the school lunch menu. With the temperatures being so hot this week, I didn't want to turn on the oven, but wanted my boys to be able to come home to a plate full of cookies and milk for a snack. These are a perfect solution to that problem. Boy are they yummy!

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 1/2 cups of oatmeal
Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, milk and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to boil for 30 seconds. Stir constantly. Add peanut butter. Mix well. Add vanilla and oatmeal. Mix well. Drop by teaspoon on wax paper or cookie sheet and chill. If you perfer the taste of peanut butter then I might suggest not adding the vanilla because it mellow the flavor of the peanut butter. These cookies couldn't be any simpler! Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

End of Summer

Six Flags

The Ninja

my speed

Skull Island

Anna Ruby Falls Uncoi State Park



Roman Cozy in his stroller


black rat snake

Helen, Georgia the boys

We wanted to do this but ran out of time

School start on Monday and so this past week has been the last hurrah week. We tried to do as many activities as we possibly could. I don't think we could have done anything more. On Monday, I took Harris to see Harry Potter #6 since Winston had seen it when Harris was in Germany. On Tuesday, we went to Six Flags. We learned that it is not for toddlers, and not for this mommy who has lost her stomach for the big roller coasters like Superman and Goliath. On Wednesday, we went swimming like just about every day then we tye dyed shirts. I took both boys to see the G Force movie. On Thursday, we went started swim lesson and went to the meet your teacher open house at the school. On Friday, we went to Anna Ruby Falls and to Helen, Georgia. Anna Ruby Falls is a perfect hike for little ones because it is only a 1/4 miles and you can push a stroller all the way up. On the way up, we saw a snake, so for the rest of the hike Roman kept saying snake-snake. It was a black rat snake which are not poisonous, but euww anyway. I almost forgot fireworks and the lazer show at Stone Mountain. It has been a full week, and now tonight is the Back to School pool party at our pool. The boys can't wait to shoot off the fireworks afterwards. Where did summer go? What was the funnest thing you did this summer?

August means Blueberries

When I think of August, I always think of blueberries because that is when the blueberries are ready to be harvested in Alaska. My parents owned a cabin on the border of Denali National Part and the ground was blanketed in wild blueberries. Did you know that I grew up in Alaska. We moved there right before my 11 th birthday. Anyways, We would spend days picking them. Then we would bring them back to Anchorage and freeze them to be used throughout the winter. Blueberry pancakes and muffins galore! Tonight we are having a back to school party at our pool. It is going to be fantastic with hot dogs, hamburgers, salad, and dessert. I am going to bring a blueberry yogurt cake.
9 eggs at room temp
3 sticks of butter softened
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 1/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
2 cups of blueberries
1 Tablespoon of salt
2 Tablespoon of flour
powder sugar for dusting
In a small bowl combine berries and 2 Tablespoons of flour and set aside. Flour keeps the berries from sinking to bottom. In a bowl combine sugar and butter and beat for approx 8 minutes until light and fluffy on med-high speed on mixture. Then add vanilla, yogurt, and lemon zest. Slowly add eggs two at a time on med speed. In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, salt then gently fold into wet ingredients. Then add blueberries. Bake at preheated oven at 325 degrees for approx 60-70 minutes in a buttered and flour bunt pan until cake tester comes out dry. Once cooled dust with powder sugar.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summertime in Germany

Liebe Oma and Opa, Thank you for everything that you did for me this summer. I had a fantastic time! There is nothing better than walking in the forest, playing at the swimming pool, eating fantastic food, discovering new places, and making new friends. You are the best! Love, Harris

Harris, Ronja, Oma, and Nicoli

walking in the forest

A suitcase full

A trip to Germany would not be complete without bringing back a suitcase full of yummy treats. One would think that we didn't have a grocery store here in America if you saw all the stuff I bought. The problem is we have all grown to love certain items that we just can't get here. I love Mozart Kugeln which are balls of marzipan with chocolate centers dipped in layers after layer of chocolate. My husband loves Kinderscholade which reminds him of his childhood. It is always a fight between him and the children for these. The children love the marshmallows which are sometimes called Speck in Germany, but not to be confused with the speck known as bacon. marshmallows in Europe are similar yet different than those here in the states; however, that warrants its own post. Schoco Muesli is also loved by my husband, but now I like it too. At first I thought how strange to eat raw oatmeal, but it grows on you. Then there is the Semmel Knoedel and Kartoffel Knoedel that go great with a great pot roast. What are Knoedel? The are balls of basically mashed potatoes that are boiled in water for a couple of minutes. I guess you could compare them to dumplings. These have not grown on me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kaffee Klutch

I know three post in one day; however, I feel like if I don't start posting I am never going to catch up. It has been two weeks now since I have gotten back from Germany. Life in Germany is slower. It has it's own rhythm. Breakfast is to be enjoyed. Taking advantage of nature is a must and friendships are to be nurtured. Those who travel to Germany for the first time might find Germans to be cold. At first they are, but really they have big hearts and once you make a German for a friend you have a friend for life. Clubs are big over in Europe. There are clubs for just about everything. I had the opportunity while there to attend the German/American club that was organized by the city to nurture relationships between the locals and the ever present military. In my Mother-in-laws city the military has moved out, so today the club is really just Germans. Most of those who were in attendance have been in the group for ages. This club meets once a month at different members house. The hostess makes delicious cakes, coffee, and tea. This is called a Kaffee Klutch. Cake is always served with a side of whip cream otherwise known as Schlag Sahne. The cakes usually reflect what is in season. At our Kaffee Klutch we were served the classic Cheese Cake, plaumekuchen, and a kirch (cherry) nut torte. They were fantastic! When was the last time you stopped and enjoyed the day with good friends? Now that school is almost about to start mark and day on the calender and invite some friends over for cake. You will not regret it!

Bad Nauheim and the life of a 10 year old boy

Harris jumping off the diving board
The Wellenbad

Harris and Nicoli

Before we left Germany Oma took Harris, Nicoli, and I to the Bad Nauheim Wellenbad. Germany is famous for it's thermal baths which are good for healing. The city even sprays salt water into the air which is suppose to be good for heart patients. Unfortunately, the inside swimming pool was closed with all it's fantastic slides, but the weather held out long enough for us to enjoy the outside pools. Harris and Nicoli also spent most of there free time perfecting their skills on the skateboard. I couldn't go home without seeing what he could do.