Monday, June 30, 2008

A personal struggle

So I went to El Pollo Loco the other day for lunch. (LOVE their chicken tostada salads!) As I was sitting in my nice air-conditioned car, I was grabbing my purse and on my way getting out of my car when I looked up and saw a woman approaching. She was dressed nicely, had a smile on her face and was looking directly at me and motioning me to her. At first I thought that she must know me from somewhere. And then I recognized her. I actually have been approached by her once before asking me for money. And this time just like last time, she was so darn nice about it! She called me honey and sweetie and wanted to know if I could give her some money so she could get something to eat. Well, here we were standing right in front of the door to El Pollo Loco. So I told her that if she would come inside with me that I would be HAPPY to buy her something to eat. She then politely declined and said that she actually had something to eat just a little while ago, but that she needed cash because she was out of money and her food stamps weren't coming until the end of the week.

Sometimes I have a hard time with this.

Where I work is not the nicest part of town. I get approached for money on a fairly regular basis. So here is where I struggle. Sometimes I get irritated because I feel, especially in this situation, that the person isn't really in need. I mean, she actually kind of lied to me and said she needed money to buy food, but after I offered, she changed her story. And I work hard for my money and sometimes I want to tell them - Go get a job! And I think poorly of them.

And then...

I remember the scripture Mosiah 4:17-19 and worry that I fall into this group.

"Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just - But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?"

Here are some of my notes that I have written in my scriptures about this scripture:

"Our attitude and actions towards those whom we are in a position to help will in great measure determine how we are treated on Judgement Day." David Ridges


What are the things that WE beg for?

So I guess mine isn't to be the "judge" of another's need, but to be willing to give when I can. I know that when we give to another, that the Lord blesses us. And whether or not the person is truly in need is for the Lord to decide and that is their part of being held accountable.

But still I struggle.....

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes!

I have the best calling in the world. Other than being a wife and mother, I love being the primary chorister! I don't know if it is because of the time of life that I am in right now, or that after serving in so many other areas, it is wonderful not having to be "in charge". In my 28 years of married life, I have only been in primary once and that was when we were first married.

So I LOVE being in Primary! Today we had a review of the songs that we have learned so far. On the table I had eight glasses. Some were filled with water and some were filled with water and white vinegar. In front of the glasses, I had spoons with a drop of different food color and then a pile of baking soda over the drop so you couldn't tell what color was underneath.

Then out came not just Sister McEwen, but Sister McEwen, the mad scientist!, complete with white lab overcoat and mad scientist goggles. Whoever was picked got to put on the goggles and choose a spoon. When they put their spoon into a regular glass of water, it just turned the color of the drop that was on the spoon and we sang a review song. If they put their spoon into a glass that had vinegar, it kind of exploded and overflowed and then they got to sing a Primary song of their choosing.

The kids loved it. So one time, little Jessica was selected to be the mad scientist. She is the teeniest little girl, about 5 or 6 six years old and has this teeny little squeaky voice. I put the mad scientist goggles on her and she picks her spoon. She very carefully puts it in the glass and it turns green but explodes and overflows. So now I ask Jessica what is her favorite song? The kids are being rather noisy now because our science experiment has overflowed so I ask everyone to quiet down so that I can hear Jessica tell me what her favorite song is.

Jessica pulls on my blouse so I kneel down close to her. She tucks my hair behind my ear and in her softest voice, whispers....DEF LEPPARD!

It took all I had not to burst out laughing! I then suggested that Jessica tell me what her favorite PRIMARY song is! I guess I had neglected to say that word the first time! She chose Families can be Together Forever, and all was back to normal. Except all the kids wanted to know what the first song she chose was!

What a funny Sunday!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Introducing.....a NY Bestseller Author!

Our daughter Brittany has just signed with Cedar Fort Publishing to publish a book!

To help pay for college, Brittany worked for about two years for Brother Jeffrey Marsh who is a religion professor at BYU Provo. Last year, he approached her and asked her if she would be interested in writing a book. Cedar Fort was looking for someone to write an updated version of an old book that they had. They wanted a new, fresh book on games to play with your family. Well, Brittany's major is Recreational Therapy/Youth Leadership and Brother Marsh thought she would be perfect for the job.

So she started on her book about 6 months ago. This week she found out that her book has been accepted and she already has her contract!

Something that makes her book a little different than just a book of games is that after each game, she has added a "So What?" paragraph. Part of what she has learned in being in recreational therapy is how to process after you have played a certain game or participated in an activity. Right now Brittany is finishing her internship at a facility for girls with eating disorders. Recently they took the girls rock climbing. After that activity they asked the girls what they learned. One response was, that, as other people were cheering her, she needed to believe in herself. And that if someone else thinks that she can do something, then she needs to know that she really can. Brittany also just took some of these girls to help with the Special Olympics that were just held in Salt Lake City. Some of the things that the girls felt they learned was that there were more important things than how you looked, which was huge coming from girls with eating disorders where image plays a major role, and that there were other people who had more serious challenges than what they were dealing with in their lives.

I think we all have moments like these and we have the same fleeting thoughts, but when really discussed in a more clinical setting, the lesson tends to sink in a little deeper into our souls. That's the true benefit of recreational therapy.

So back to the "So What?" paragraph. After each game, Brittany suggests some ideas of how to apply this to our family life in an effort to strengthen family relationships. Some games are just plain fun, some games require family cooperation and some games improve family communication. The "So What?" paragraph offers ideas on what to discuss with our family afterwards.

Needless to say, we are beyond proud of her. To be published period is an amazing accomplishment, but to also be published in your field of work is incredible.

Brittany, we love you! YOU GO GIRL!!!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pet Peeves

I consider myself to be a pretty calm and rational person. I am rather easy-going and it usually takes a lot to get me riled up, but I do have a few pet peeves that can get me agitated. Some are small and I realize I may have an OCD about them, but, oh well, who out there isn't a little compulsive about SOMETHING! So here two of my favorite pet peeves:

The last ten cents at the gas pump. You put $20 into the machine. And you are using the outside machine because going inside to the cashier TAKES TOO MUCH TIME. I hate pumping gas for myself in the first place so I want it over with as soon as possible. You put the hose into the car and start the gas. You hear the gas gushing through the hose into your car, the price is ticking by so rapidly that you can barely see the numbers. Yes! I am going to get in and out of here lickety split! And then....the pumps reads $19.90 and the ticker slows to a crawl. 19.91...$19.92....Forget it already, I almost want to just put the hose back instead of waiting for $19.98....$19.99...$20.00. Nowadays, how much gas does 10 cents get you anyway? Probably just fumes. For me?...Oh, I'm fuming alright!

One ply toilet paper. Why do they even make this stuff? It makes serious jobs almost impossible. We made the mistake of buying some one-ply at Sam's Club. We didn't know at the time that it wasn't two-ply so now with it just being two of us at home, we now just about have a year's supply of the stuff. I wonder... Does the church recommend a year's supply to be able to toilet paper houses? Come see me. I've got it covered.

So what is it that gets your nerves to boiling? Someone putting the milk back in the frig with 1/100 of an inch of milk left? Car radios blasting music? Let's hear it! What is YOUR pet peeve?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hot Flash

I'm having a hot flash. Right now. This minute. And no matter when you read this post, I will probably be having one then too. Sweat is gathering and contemplating about dripping down my forehead underneath my bangs. It is also pooling on my upper lip where there is no dark hair as of yet, but I hear that may be coming.

When other friends complained to me about their hot flashes, I thought....pfft, how bad can it be? Buck up and quit yer belly-achin! How ever bad their hot flashes were, mine are worse. And it's harder than you think.

The other night, hubby and I were watching tv and I snuggled up next to him. No sooner had I done so, then I felt myself become like a glowing coal from a campfire. Hubby would have been thrilled if I had been getting "hot" FOR him, but that wasn't happening tonight! He could physically feel the heat rising from my body and asked if I was having a hot flash. I wanted to scream "Does a lake ripple when a duck farts?!?" In other words, YES!!! (That was for those who might have been confused by the duck question)

This is such a new experience for me because I normally run cold and it's hubby that runs hot. That man is my own personal heater. In 36 degree weather, he sweats. In the past, whenever I needed to get warm, all I needed to do was get remotely close to him. Now if I get close to him, I feel like I am going to spontaneously combust.

I can't take hormones. (another post in the making) My new best friends are popsicles. They do seem to help quench the fire. Summer is going to be an interesting experience.

Last fall, when my doctor said that I needed a hysterectomy, I thought "Cool!! No more worries about monthly visits." There is nothing "COOL" about it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cardiac Arrest Macaroni and Cheese

So...the story behind this recipe goes a little something like this. Apparently the staff on the Oprah show likes macaroni and cheese. So when they would go to different cities to tape a show, they would always order mac and cheese in the quest to find the very best. This recipe won and was supposedly featured on Oprah. I've also heard that you might be tempted to omit one of the cheeses, but DON'T DO IT!! I guess it won't be the same without all the cheeses blended together. So here's the recipe. Oh and just in case you were wondering... here are the nutri facts:

1539 calories for one serving!
1252 mg sodium
95.9g carbohydrates
98.8g Total fat

I won't go on....if you've decided to make this, it's going to be one of those days when you aren't worrying about calories and just need some comfort food! I've had this and it is pretty dang good.


2 lbs elbow macaroni
12 eggs
1 cup cubed Velveeta cheese
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks melted)
6 cups half and half
4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups extra sharp white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated asiago cheese
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
1 cup grated muenster cheese
1/8 tsp salt
1 TBL black pepper

Preheat oven to 325. Boil water and cook macaroni al dente (which means firm, do not overcook) Drain and set aside

Whisk eggs in LARGE bowl until frothy. Combine the Velveeta, butter and 2 cups of half and half in the large bowl. Add the warm macaroni and toss until the cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Add the remaining half and half, 2 cups of the yellow cheddar, the remaining grated cheeses and the salt and pepper, tossing until completely combined.

Pour the mixture into two (2) 9x13 casserole dishes and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining yellow cheddar cheese on top and bake until golden brown on top, 20-30 minutes more.

Serve hot.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Trail Angels

Last weekend Bruce and I became Trail Angels. We had no clue what they were before we became one, but we are so glad that we did. I'll explain!

There is a trail called the Pacific Crest Trail (called the PCT to the SERIOUS hiker) and starts at the Mexico/California border and goes all the way to the Washington/Canada border. It is over 2600 miles and takes approximately 4-5 months to hike the whole thing at once. The PCT runs right behind where I live. Even though we are in Southern California, I live in a tiny little mountain community at 6000 feet. We are surrounded by pine trees and get plenty of snow in the winter. Not what you imagine for So. Cal!

We are used to seeing these hikers throughout the summer. They come down off the trail to eat in town and buy things to replenish their backpack. And that's exactly what they were doing when Bruce bumped into some of them last Friday. He started up a conversation with three hikers who were looking for a motel to stay for the night. He had called me to see if I had any suggestions and then before I knew it, he was asking if they could just stay at our place.

Well we have three empty bedrooms and as evidenced by a previous comment by my daughter, we are suffering from PTCV (Post Traumatic Child Vacancy!) We have recently become empty nesters and are having a hard time adjusting so we were desperate for company!

Bruce brought Eric, Laura and Kimbur home to spend the night. They had already been hiking for a month straight. The first order of business was a shower. We supplied them with fresh towels and they all got a steaming hot shower and then promptly crashed for a nap for a few hours. After sleeping on the ground, a bed was complete luxury!

Left to right
Erik, Laura and Kimbur

We stayed up until midnight talking to them and learning about their adventures. We found out that there are many people who help these hikers along the way and they are called Trail Angels. There is a Trail Angel in San Diego who picks up these hikers at the airport, lets them stay in their home and then drives them to the trail head. Our three hikers were number 109, 110 and 111 that had stayed in their home since May.

There are also people who leave coolers along the trail with cold water and fresh fruit which are considered worth more than gold. They restock the cooler everyday for months for the more than 400 people that make this hike every summer.

Our hikers were absolutely shocked that we would take total strangers into our home. Over and over they said that they couldn't believe their luck that they would just run into Bruce in town who would invite them to stay. And after a huge breakfast complete with bacon, pancakes with homemade strawberry jam and orange juice, they teased that in a few days they were going to wonder if this really ever happened.

We learned so much during our short time with them. Kimbur had a cool gadget that was called a "SPOT". She clicked on the spot every night and via satellite it sent a message to her mother that let her know that Kimbur was okay and it gave her Kimbur's coordinates so that her mom could go online and see exactly where she was. Pretty cool.

The hikers know exactly which towns have general delivery and they mail themselves packages that will be waiting for them when they arrive.

As they left us, they were heading for the hardest part of their hike. The Mojave Desert.

When we parted, they thanked us profusely stating that it restored their faith in humanity knowing that there are still some really good people left in the world. We felt the same way about them. They were polite, clean, grateful, fun and I never even heard one swear word. It truly was a great experience becoming a Trail Angel!

It has also made me think about the angels that have been placed on my trail while here on this earth. I think I am going to write about them later, but who in your life has been your Trail Angel?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ditching my Kitchen

I didn't get my blogger name by accident. It's been a part of my email name since before cell phones. I know, I know, there are some of you out there who don't remember a time without cell phones. Yeah, I'm that old.

In making up my email name, I thought long and hard about how I wanted my persona to be described. Kitchen Ditcher suits me to a tee. There are a million and one things that I would rather be doing than doing my dishes.

When my children were young, I'd much rather read to them than do my dishes. When they were teenagers, I'd much rather be chaperoning their activities than doing my dishes. And now that I am an empty nester, here is what I'd rather be doing than doing my dishes:

Cutting my toenails
Responding to a telemarketer survey
Playing racquetball with hubby
Cleaning the hair out of the shower drain
Going to plays
Letting the dentist drill on my teeth
Watch golf on tv - no, wait - fishing...that's even worse!

What would YOU rather be doing than doing MY dishes?? lol

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Brittany's graduation!

You are looking at a BYU Graduate!

A milestone has occurred! As a parent, when you bring home your little bundle of joy, your mind really can't even fathom what this precious little spirit will be like as an adult. Your life is filled with diapers, baby talk, Sesame Street, Cheerios and enough cracker crumbs in your car that it could be considered your year's supply of food storage.

College seems so far distant during those days. Milestones then included their first step, their first word and the first of day of school. Soon enough milestones became turning 16, learning to drive, dating and possibly getting their first job.

This latest milestone came so much faster than I expected. Why can't adults be in charge of time? I wish that I had a kitchen timer for my life! You know, when you are cooking something and the timer goes off but the food isn't quite done, you can add more time to the timer! And if something cooks faster than expected, you can fast forward and turn the timer off.

Wouldn't that be great if you weren't quite ready for an era or an event to end that you could just extend the time? Or during the unpleasant times in our lives, we could just fast forward the timer and be done with it?

I guess the secret is to enjoy every moment to the fullest which is exactly what we did with Brittany's graduation.

How pleased we are with how well she did and the choices that she is making in her life.
A milestone has definitely occurred - Brittany graduated. And the milestone for us?

No more tuition!!!

Very proud of the diploma!

VERY proud parents!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My life has gone to the dogs

We have a dog. Her name is Honey. Some members of our family not-so-affectionately refer to her as Osama. She can be a terror.

My husband and I weren't really interested in getting another family pet. But when our daughter (who was 10 at the time) presented us with a contract complete with a well laid-out plan of everything she was going to do to take care of one, we capitulated.

Some dogs come from pet stores with registered papers. Some dogs are specifically bred to keep their breed pure. We got our dog at Staters Bros.

When my daughter was home (she's now in college) my husband barely tolerated the dog. She barked too much and when she was allowed in the house, she would run in, barrel up the stairs and it took about 1/2 hour to calm her down. Hence the Osama name.

Now that our youngest is out of the house, the dog has become ours. And my husband now loves this dog. He feeds and waters her everyday. He plays with her in the backyard. He takes her out running with him and lets her in to watch tv with him at night. I've offered - I truly have - to help take care of her. My attempts have been politely turned down. Which is fine with me. I've put my time in of making sure someone or something has been fed.

However, I too have grown to love this dog. My husband Bruce is a National Director of Food Sales and travels to many different states. Which means I am home alone quite often. I don't sleep very well when he is gone. Enter Osama. Honey is an outdoor dog and doesn't get to sleep inside the house. Except when Bruce is gone. And then I let her in to sleep inside my room. My children are embarassed that my life has been reduced to sleeping with the dog. How pathetic they think. That's okay. They won't think I'm pathetic after someone has entered my house at night and Honey has torn the intruder to shreds. Good girl, Osama.

But I think the dog thinks its pathetic too. Because she's not used to being in the house, she walks all over the house. The first couple of nights that I let her sleep inside , she kept me awake because I could hear the clicking of her overgrown toenails walking across our wood floors. I now shut the bedroom door to keep her in. Sometimes when she knows I am going to shut the door, she makes a run for it - to get out while she can!

Soon enough she settles in and makes herself comfortable on our five foot llama skin rug. And I get a great night's sleep. Aahhh...the life of a dog!!! Honey's, not mine.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Having a son in the mission field.

So having a son serving a mission is wonderful. It truly is. We see and feel the blessings from his service in so many ways but it is taking longer than I thought! You know, when someone else has a son on a mission, it seems to go so fast! When I would ask someone, how long has your son been out and they would tell me "9 months", I couldn't believe it had been that long already. Well, Mason has been out 9 months and the time is dragging! UGH I wouldn't want him to be anywhere else, but I am really looking forward to our year mark. Then we can start counting down and we will have more time behind us then we do in front of us!

Our Mother's Day call was great. Mason bore his testimony in Portuguese which left both Bruce and I in tears. I can't really express in words how bizarre and wonderful it is to hear one of your children speaking another language fluently. The gospel is amazing! His testimony has been so strengthened and we love hearing about the experiences that he is having.

When he gets home he wants to make us a brazilian specialty. An avocado shake! It's made with avocado, milk and sugar and blended in a blender. Doesn't sound too great to me -- maybe if I think about having to try it, I won't be quite so anxious for him to come home!

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