Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Fling 2009

My son is the one in the Boa. I couldn't be prouder. His friend Dylan is the one we call Carrot Top.

Joe spends 90% of his time on the stage rocking out. He found another boy who was up there almost as much time as he was. Who says my Karaoke Machine was a waste?

This was the hose hockey game. It looks like it would be really fun but it pretty much stinks. The balls would get caught in the corners. The game could not hold the kids' attention for even a minute.

Most of Spring Fling was great. It is a fun school/neighborhood party. It had been raining up until about 2:00 in the afternoon. We got some big push brooms and swept the water off of the cement part of the play ground. Anndi brought her shop vac and we were able to get up the biggest puddle right by the door. We only got a little rain during the evening and we were grateful because the forecast was dire. The PTA was just grateful that we could hold most of the festivities outside. But now we are just grateful it is over until next year.

Recessionista's Guide to a Value Spring Dress

I found this cute dress at Ross yesterday for $6.99! I already had the sandals.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Big Reunion

Today when I went to Dorian Carter's funeral I got to see so many friends with whom I rarely cross paths. I saw Mike Skembo, Alex Westwood, Becca and Kristen Case, Shauna Erickson, Bob Asay, Mary and Jess Taylor, and so many others. There is something nice about weddings and funerals and that is that you get to remake connections. So many people move into and out of the Dallas fourth ward. Some stay for 30 years and some stay for three months, but there is still a connection.

A lot of people showed up for the funeral. The chapel, overflow, and half of the cultural hall were full. So many showed up to show love and support. I hope the family felt comforted. I was a little disappointed that there were no special musical numbers but I guess that is a personal choice. When I die I want John Wiseman to sing something beautiful for the service. I have already placed an order.

Maybe it is just really hard to have a great feeling about a funeral for a 26 yrs old. When an older person dies the funeral is kind of like a graduation ceremony, a "Job well done" celebration. But when a younger person dies the timing feels odd for a graduation. It would be like handing a third grader a diploma. This just doesn't feel right to me. I am not trying to second guess the philosophy, "When its your time to go its your time to go." I am not second guessing this because I don't feel that way at all. I find an untimely death to be particularly sad. I find it sad that parents are still around when their children are not. I think that most, but not all accidents can be avoided by following safety precautions and by making wise choices. You know, when you look at it this way, you allow yourself to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dorian Carter Funeral

I realized today that several people were getting to my blog by searching for Dorian's funeral. Here are the details. The funeral will be at 10:00 AM at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the corner of Beltline and Meandering Way in Far North Dallas on Friday, April 17th. Meandering Way is about a mile west of Richardson High School which is also on Beltline Road. There will be a viewing from 9-9:45 at the same building.

What does one wear to an LDS funeral? Women generally wear modest, knee length or longer dresses or skirts. Men wear suits or dress slacks with a nice shirt and tie. But if you don't have these types of clothes don't stress out. Just wear what you have. No one will reprimand you for your clothing choices. We just dress this way at church to show a respectful and reverent attitude.

What can you expect at the service? The service lasts for about an hour. Please arrive about 10 minutes early if you don't plan on attending the viewing. If you plan on going to the viewing it is a good idea to get there at least 30 minutes before the service starts. The viewing is usually held in a smaller room in the church. This viewing will be an open casket. The family will be there. This is a good time to pay your respects to the family. At about 9:45 the veiwing ends and everyone except for family and clergy are invited to leave the room and wait in the chapel. A family prayer is offered and the casket is closed and will not be reopened for the funeral.

The funeral is held in the chapel. Sign the book before you go into the chapel and find a seat. The casket is brought into the chapel, followed by the family. The congregation will be instructed to rise before they enter. After the family is seated, the congregation is asked to be seated. The service will be conducted by Bishop Warren. There will be an invocation given by a congregant. There are musical numbers throughout the service. The eulogy is usually delivered by a family member or a friend. There is usually a talk on the Plan Of Salvation also delivered by a family member or a friend of the family. The Bishop generally closes the services with his remarks. The service ends with a closing prayer. The congregation is asked to rise and the casket is wheeled out of the funeral door with the family following. The congregation is then released. There is usually a little time here to talk with the family. Some of the people who have attended the funeral choose to join the funeral procession to the grave site. At the grave site the grave is dedicated by a member of the priesthood. This is a prayer and an ordinance at the same time.

After the grave side service everyone is free to go. The family will gather back at the church for a meal provided by the Relief Society.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Human Growth And Development Movie

Last night during family prayer Joey started to get some sort of stomach bug. He didn't throw up but had some other gastro-intestinal issues. I knew something was going around so I told him that he probably wouldn't be going to school in the morning. "But Mom, we are going to see the Movie tomorrow. I have to go to school." He woke up at about 2 AM with a pretty high fever. I didn't bother waking him up for school because I thought he should just sleep so that he could feel better. He woke up at 7:30 AM. He was still feverish. "I have to go to school today, Mom. They are showing the development movie!" I relented. I expected to get a call from the school saying Joe had thrown up.  I knew they wouldn't show the movie until the afternoon. I didn't get a phone call, so Joe stayed there the whole day. He said he had a big headache but he just kept that to himself. I think he heard a rumor that he was going to get to see the girl's movie as well as the boy's movie. This didn't happen. He was okay with just seeing the boy's movie. He got a bag with a trial size deodorant stick. I asked him about the question/answer period and he said it was pretty uneventful except for one question a boy asked about popular boys in elementary school being unpopular in high school.

The most eventful question/answer series came when John was in fourth grade. The boys were allowed to write their questions on a piece of paper collected by the school nurse. They were told to ask anything they wanted and that there should be no question they should be embarrassed to ask because other boys might want to know the same thing. Sean, John's best friend at the time wrote the following question, "Will you take off your shirt and show us your boobs?" The promise was not kept! Evidently there was a question that could not be asked. The teacher recognized Sean's handwriting and he was in big trouble. I can't remember what his consequences were but they were pretty big. It's been 10 years and no one has dared ask a question as bold or dramatic as Sean. Sean is legend!

The Anti Chidlhood Obesity Plan

Two years ago we had a major problem boiling at the Muir house. Actually, we were in a hotel in Phoenix when I realized that my 9 year old son who had just finished the third grade had hit 130 pounds! We were on a vacation so I wasn't monitoring him very well, but fortunately the Gainey Suites in Scottsdale had a scale. Things had been getting out of control for a while but it was time that I turned my attention to the problem at hand.

There is nothing like being hit with a number to make you take stock of the situation. I could see the writing on the wall if we didn't work this problem out. Joe would keep gaining weight without much height for the next three years. I have other sons so I know how they grow. It is pretty normal for a kid to chunk up a bit before the big growth spurt. But if the weight gain is too great, the kid will never grow tall enough to make a good height/weight ratio. There are a lot of health problems associated with childhood obesity but thankfully, Joe wasn't having those problems yet.

So what is so bad about being a fat kid? I am sorry to inform the general public of this sad fact that I have learned by working with cub scouts and boy scouts for the past 21 years, but let me tell you, kids are mean! They are especially mean to fat kids. We can all talk talk talk about how kids shouldn't bully, but they still do. Mean kids are only surpassed in being mean and insulting by adults. There is almost always an assumption that a fat kid is lazy, stupid, and emotionally unstable. Even with all of this I know fat kids who have great personalities and are able to overcome the constant barrage of unkindness and end up being popular, wonderful, teens and adults. But that is the exception, not the rule. I think it is easier to help a kid with his diet and exercise than to train a kid how to ignore constant attacks on his body image.

What have I done to help Joe? I came up with a plan that included exercise and better eating. I also try to help him with his body image by teaching him how to respond to kids who say rude things about his weight.

The first summer, I started a camp for Joe. Every morning I would pick up his friend Daniel and take them to the track. We worked on running a mile, sit-ups and push ups. I spent a lot of my time yelling semi-insulting, motivational encouragements. I would test progress every two weeks to see how we were doing. I took the kids to a water splash park after the exercise time as a reward. They didn't realize they were still exercising. I have to admit that by the end of the strength and conditioning camp Joe was not really happy with me. On the last day of camp I told the boys I would pay them $5.00 for each lap they completed without stopping. I pretty much knew I wouldn't owe any money, but they surprised me. Joe ran four laps in 12 minutes! Daniel was just excited about the money and continued until he ran 7 laps! The whole exercise thing wasn't lost on me either. I walked the track with them and worked on sit-ups and push ups myself. The next summer I signed Joe up for a track club with the city of Richardson. It was $40 for the whole summer and I thought it would be worth every penny. The coach worked with the kids on more than I could have done. They got to run relays and do drills and obstacle courses. I met some wonderful friends as we walked the track while our kids did their thing.

I started Joe in SVAA football this fall. That was a good choice for him. The coaches are always happy to see big kids coming and are pretty forgiving of their lack of athleticism if they have a kid who can block on the offensive line. You can teach a kid to run but you can't teach a kid to be big. I really think this helped Joe with the way he thought about his body. I know he could see himself doing more and more in football. He became interested in pro and college teams and learned the stats and stories of the good players.

Now Joe plays soccer or football-catch during recess. He used to just sit on the swings before the athlete in him was released. It was pretty hard at first because he was pretty slow at running at and not very gifted at sports. But practice makes perfect. He is doing better everyday. You would be surprised at how this helps with making friends. I hear a lot less meanness going on these days.

The most inspirational part of the new regime for me was to watch Shaq's Big Challenge. You can find it here at this web site:

In this show Shaquille O'Neil took several out of shape, overweight kids and worked with them on exercise, eating right and staying motivated. The one big thing that I noticed was that the kids who were successful did not have really nice understanding parents who would accept an excuse. The successful kids had more of the drill sergeant parents. I can really relate to this personality type. My father was in the Navy while I was growing up. Being demanding just comes easily to me.

This is another site I have found that I will try this summer. It is a challenge for the entire family from the Shaq Attack:

The eating plan was another challenge. I didn't want to make an impossible diet that Joe couldn't follow and that I would also have trouble enforcing. Rather than counting calories, we set limits and goals. The first limit I set was fast food could only be one meal a week. I even limited it further. When we go out for our once a week fast food meal Joe can get a kids meal or he can have 1/2 of an adult meal or three items off of the value menu(those items are pretty small). A couple of other limits that I have formed a habit of is only having dessert once a week on Sunday. We drink 1% milk. I allow Joe to have soda only on fast food day. I keep the house free of snack food that is tempting to Joe. I do this for myself too. I try to offer milk at most meals. I put out smaller cups so that Joe doesn't try to drink a 20 oz glass of milk when a serving is 8 oz. Since I cook dinner I can control the menu. I wish I could say that we only eat low carb, high protein meals but that would be a lie. I do try to make about two or three suppers a week low carb and no one notices. But still we have lasagna an other family favorites. I just monitor that Joe gets a good serving. Joe has a small breakfast most mornings of cereal and milk. We really never had a problem with eating too much of those healthy, home made meals. The trouble with Joe was snacking and constant eating. To combat this we provide Joe with a variety of 100 calorie packs and snacks. Joe doesn't know that some of his packs have more than 100 calories. We just love Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches and Healthy choice fudge bars. I call these part of his 100 calorie snack options. I allow him to have three 100 calorie snacks every day. He can choose what he wants and when he wants them, but it is a pretty long day when he has eaten all of his snacks by 10:00 AM. He has learned to stagger the snacks and to save one for after dinner so that he can have an ice cream sandwich. I try to keep Crystal Lite in the fridge so that there is a no cal drink available. I sometimes make sugar-free jello so that there is a snack option when all of the snacks are gone.

When he complains about starving and he has no snacks left and it is two hours until dinner I offer him fruits and vegetables. I know too much fruit can cause weight gain but it really doesn't matter. Joe never really wants that anyway. I just offer. If I determine that he is really in pain and can't wait, I will break down and give him and give him 1/2 of a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk. I am going to have to admit that I do something like this everyday for Joe's after school snack. When he comes home from school he is truly hungry. He is not eating for recreation. The 1/2 sandwich and milk satisfy his appetite with out raising his blood sugar levels like a snack would because of the proteins in the milk and peanut butter. At that point I know he can make it until dinner. A good protein rich snack keeps him from continuous snacking from the time he gets home from school until dinner which is the lifestyle he would lead without my guidance.

I really try to make fresh, good food with a lot of vegetables served in a variety of ways. I try to serve lean protein and I limit fried food. I use olive oil and coconut oil in my cooking. I try to limit the fend for yourself dinners for a variety of reasons. Families who eat dinner together tend to talk to each other and it is a great time to really listen and have the kids open to listening. Additionally, when I make dinner I can choose the menu.

The benefit for all of this effort has already paid off. I think Joe would like the benefit of loosing a bunch of weight and being the skinny kid at school, but that is not going to happen unless I lock him in a room, shove carrot sticks under the door and put cotton in my ears so that I can't hear his screams. The reality is that Joe has gone up and down in his weight very little over the past two years. He weighs 132 now and considering we started at 130 that is about what I was hoping for. I don't need for him to lose weight, I just wanted him to stay about the same until his height catches up with his weight. I would never be able to do this with out Joe's cooperation. I mentioned bullying earlier. I never encourage bullying but I get it. Sometimes it can motivate your child to make socially acceptable choices because the alternative is painful. I have mentioned in my blog before that I will ever be grateful to my 6th grade friends for teaching me the hygiene rules of daily bathing and wearing deodorant. These changes were so easy to make compared to the issues a chubby kid faces. But it seems that the effort is worth the reward! So how does Joe respond to those rude kids? He generally lets a teacher know about the attack. He also responds that he is working on it. As mentioned earlier, the taller Joe gets and the better his height/weight ratio become, the less abuse he has to deal with.

If you have made it this far I congratulate you on your attention span and your fortitude. I wish you luck if you ever face this challenge. I want you to know that if the Muir family can tackle this issue successfully then it has to be possible!

Monday, April 13, 2009

We'll Be Having Chicken and Dumplings When She Comes

I was talking to Deanna a few days ago and she was making chicken and dumplings. She had lost Grandma Stockam's recipe and so had tried something from the Internet that didn't work out so well. After several trials she realized that her baking powder had gone flat. Well, this got me to thinking about chicken and dumplings. I haven't made them for a long time. I am thinking I haven't made them for over 13 years. The last time I made chicken and dumplings there was an incident and we just never got our appetite back for them even though this was one of our favorite meals in the past. The last time I made them everything turned out perfect. The dumplings were light and fluffy and that is the trick with this dish. The only problem was that when we started eating John noticed the little worms in the dumplings. Evidently, I bought flour with weevils and had not noticed. We had to throw the whole pot away and no one was hungry for chicken and dumplings again. The very thought just made us sick because before John noticed the weevils everyone else had eaten several spoons full.

When I decided to make the dish today I put aside the old memory. Joe had never had the memory because he wasn't born yet. So when Bob asked if it had been long enough since the incident to have chicken and dumplings, Joe just asked, "What incident?" He really liked dinner tonight and I can tell that it will be one of his favorites.

This was my basic recipe:

2 quarts chicken broth
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
4 celery stalks cut into chunks
1 onion diced
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts.

Put all of this into a large pot and gently boil for about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and allow to cool. Reduce the heat on the soup to a simmer. Mix a 7 oz package of Bisquick according to package directions. Drop by teaspoon full into the simmering (not boiling) soup. Cover the pot and start the timer for 15 minutes. Do not remove the lid! This is the most important information. If you remove the lid and, or boil the dumplings you will get little tough dough lumps. While the dumplings are steaming, shred the chicken. Add the chicken back when the dumplings are done. If the dumplings seem a little undercooked just turn off the burner and put the lid back on for 5 minutes. You can add parsley or other herbs to the Bisquick dough. I usually wait until the end to add salt and pepper.

I decided to use the Bisquick mix as opposed to making my own for a variety of reasons but I think I was thinking that there was a less likelihood of a bug infestation. Call me paranoid, I just don't ever want another maggot in the soup again.

Now is the part where we all shout Hallelujah! I think I will make this several times a year now that I have overcome.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Good Friday! For the Muir family it was a good Friday. No one was hurt and no one in our family died today. With Max Skembo in the hospital fighting for his life, with Dorian Carter's funeral in the works, and with Donald Stegman in the hospital recovering from the tollway head-on collision, my memory has gone back to the time when Matthew was in the hospital and we were in such turmoil. I remember thinking at that time about how light and easy the time seemed before the accident. Whenever I feel that feeling of lightness I am grateful. I recognize it and it feels so good. It is the feeling you feel when life is normal.

My heart can go out to my friends. I can pray for them. I can put a name in at the temple. I can make a plate of sandwiches and deliver them to a family who is really not hungry. I know to make the sandwiches small so that they can eat a little something without feeling an obligation to a big meal. But I know how heavy their hearts are. I can put the heaviness of heart aside for several hours and go about my daily business. When you are in the middle of a family crisis there is no putting the burden down until the crises is resolved and routine is again established.

Joe had the day off from school so we took one of his friends with us to Valley View Mall to see the new Hannah Montana movie. Joe may be one of the only 5th grade boys who really likes Hannah, High School Musical, and Camp Rock. So will every one please just keep this from getting out to the general population at his school, especially to all of his football and soccer buddies? I highly recommend this movie to the 12 and under crowd and anyone who gets to take them. If you are nominated to do this duty be prepared to participate in some fun music. At a couple points of the movie I thought I must have ESP because I knew exactly what was going to happen. I whispered my predictions to Joe and Sophie. Joe was annoyed that I was interrupting the artistic quality of this fine film, but Sophie thought my predictions had merit and she agreed with me. You know what, I was right both times! I am excited about learning the Hoe Down Throw Down so that I can have an in with the popular kids among the elementary set.

Like I said, I appreciate the normal, non eventful days so much now that I know the difference.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Bad Day for D-4

I got in the car this afternoon to go out to the hardware store to buy some bolts to repair Joe's roller blades. Just when I started up the car I got a call from my friend Tammy Glatz asking me to watch Curt while she took her daughter to the hospital so that she could see her boyfriend. He had been injured in a terrible accident earlier that day on his way home from the hangout date that lasted until 2 in the morning after institute. Donald had been a missionary in Dallas 6 or 7 years ago and had come back to Dallas to live. He is currently a member of D-1. He was driving down the tollway when a rogue vehicle going 80 miles per hour and going the wrong way hit his car. The wrong way driver had been killed instantly. Tammy and her family were grateful that Donald was going to live, that he didn't have brain damage and that he was going to get to keep his legs, because all of those things were questionable during the course of the day.

I took Curt and Joe to scouts and when I got there I was talking to Bishop Chuck Johnson who told me about a terrible accident that had occurred on the tollway, and how Dorian Carter had died in the accident. I told him the other side of the story. We were amazed that two people who never met would have common ties. Dorian grew up in the Dallas fourth ward and so we have all known him for years. I have no idea why he would go the wrong way on the tollway. I am sure there is no good reason or explanation. I am just sorry for his mother. This is a hard pill to swallow for a mom. It is going to take a lot of prayer and service from others to help her through. I feel sorry for his baby daughter who will not grow up with her dad in her life. It's a sad day.

Everyone in the D-4 who knows Max Skembo is praying for him. He got in a terrible motorcycle accident Saturday morning and is in a Phoenix area hospital in really bad shape. Max also grew up in D-4. If you want to keep up on Max just check out his sister's blog. She is trying to keep everyone posted and up to date because the Skembos have so many friends. You can find her blog at

Tonight as I was conducting opening exercises for the Cub Scouts I had the Cubs recite some basic safety rules that would keep them safe. I guess I was hoping to inoculate them from the tragedies and twists of fate that are often, but not always, accompanied by a lack of following basic safety precautions. It just makes me sick to think about how Max and Dorian sat in the same room, in the same cute cub scout shirts, with all of the love and attention we could possibly give them to end up in this situation. I know God has a plan and that He is in control. That is the only way we will make it through. This is a tough time for the old D-4.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The 20th Iteration of My 29th Birthday

We had a great time tonight celebrating my birthday. We went out to Five Guys for burgers and fries. We went home and had a kiwi lime cake from Costco. I got some Happy in Bloom perfume and a small mp3 player that I can use when I go jogging from Bob. Do you think that he is sending a message? Joe got me a paper towel holder. How did he know that I had been checking that out at Sam's Club for over a month? Deanna gave me a a wooden platter and a small giraffe for my curio cabinet. My father-in-law and my mother-in-law gave me some money which came in exactly the right color and size. John called and let me know his summer schedule. Megan and Chris called to let me know they love me. My big regret for the day was that I didn't comb my hair and redo my makeup before the picture with the cake. Oh well, I get to celebrate my 29th birthday again next year and I will take care of that problem then.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fool's Day Tutorial

Yesterday while I was driving Joe home from Pack meeting he asked me what was Saran wrap. I told him it was clear plastic wrap. He said that was what he thought it was. Then he went on to explain how everyone at school was talking about a great April Fool's joke of wrapping the toilets with Saran wrap. I told him this wasn't a very good idea because it ends up making a big mess which has to be cleaned up. He said, "I know. I wrapped my toilet with Saran wrap and tried it and I just had to clean up a bunch of pee. It made a big mess. I don't get why any one would fall for that."

That was when he got the tutorial. I explained that usually you do that joke on other people and not yourself, that usually the trick is helped by darkness, for example, at night when people are getting out of bed to go to the bathroom. Then I told him how gross it was and that he better never pull that trick again.

My best April Fool's day joke ever was when Megan was a junior in high school. She came home from school and I gave her the good news. I had just landed a job as a lunch lady at her high school. I was going on and on about how I could check on her and her friends everyday. We would have extra money for college for her. I could talk to her teachers. I could sneak her extra food. I could bring home leftovers and never have to cook dinner on a school night...She ended up crying. I will never forget how distraught she was, as if I was going to embarrass her and ruin her life! The reaction from the boys was just the opposite. They were pretty thrilled by the thought of me loading up their plates with extra food. They thought that my cooking skills would improve the cafeteria offerings.

About Me

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I am a stay at home mom but the clock is ticking. My husband and I only have one child left at home. I enjoy shopping and finding great bargains.