Coca-Cola Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pediasure

We have had the darndest time getting Jade of the cystic fibrosis to take her Pedisaure. Oh, she’ll take the Ensure Clear without any trouble, but the nice fatty Pediasure is rejected. Since we have several cases, I think I might as well try to sneak it into things. Like baked goods.

Some time ago I discovered a little bit of Coke is an awesome ingredient in chocolate-chip cookies. So… I worked to create a cookie recipe I can dump Pediasure into.

The result was a pretty puffy cookie with a chewy texture, rather reminiscent of a proper pumpkin cookie. It tastes good and I can get my toddler to take Pediasure on the sly.

1 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 stick of butter

2/3 bottle of vanilla Pediasure

Mix these together until pretty. Then add

1 egg

1/2 cup Coca Cola

Mix again!

Add:

2 3/4 cups of flour

1 tsp of baking soda

1 tsp of salt

Mix until just combined.

Then add the sweet stuff, like

1 cup of chocolate chips

1/2 cup of chopped nuts (totally optional, but I like nuts)

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

 

 

So why would vaccination needs be different for each family?

You know, that old line about how you should “pray and study to see if vaccines are right for your family”.

My sister laughs that I am a crunchy hippy. My husband rolls his eyes over it but generally puts up with it. I suppose I do lean a little “crunchy”. I would love to live on a homestead, or at least have a bit of country property. I love cloth diapers. I love “natural” and “green” cleaning supplies. Whole foods strike me as awesome (though I balance that my share of fast food burgers). I buy essential oils every now and then (Butterfly Express because they strike me as a family-owned and fairly local) and even try to use them. I even wonder a little if there is anything to crystals and energies.

I also vaccinate my kids. Yes, yes, I know there are many posts out there on the internet where crunchy parents are defending their right to vaccinate and still be crunchy, but I still get the impression that the general crunchy community doesn’t like vaccinating.

I confess, sometimes I wonder like I wonder about those crystals. Could I be destroying my children by vaccinating them? Could the seeming rise of autism be related to this? Could putting all these things in the body be harmful? Of course, all the anti-vaxxers insist I research, so I read a few things and come to the conclusion I’m probably good with my vaccination tendencies. I’m sure I can read studies, but I also find things that refute anti-vax claims and the studies I do read don’t frighten me against vaccines. Besides, I don’t have a science degree, so I’ll let the professionals do the heavy work for me.

It’s not that I’m altogether frightened by not vaccinating. There seems to be good wisdom in naturally building immune systems and keeping homes healthy. Individually, a nonvaccinated person doesn’t really scare me. With my daughter having cystic fibrosis, I’m more worried about actually sick people, their vaccination status being neither here nor there.

What does bother me the most, however, is the claim that comes in variations but boils down to “Pray and research about it and do what’s right for your family.” The prayer thing is particularly common in crunchy LDS circles (probably similar in other Christian circles). Moms tell me how they prayed about vaccinating and were inspired against it.

Far be it from me to criticize someone’s spiritual inspiration; perhaps God did steer them from vaccinating, who knows. They also likely know their child’s health and physical situation better than I, and perhaps their research pulled up a glaring contraindication with vaccines. I do agree some people best not be vaccinated for their own health.

And certainly far be it from me to question the inspiration God feels like giving others.

Yet something about that line of “Pray and study and do what’s right for your family” doesn’t sit right with me–and this is a line that can be applies to a whole host of things. The average kids who will like the majority pass through vaccinations just fine… why would their parents be inspired to do different things? Why would studying lead to different conclusions? Shouldn’t vaccines be either fine for the majority or dangerous for the majority?

Why such an awkward and hodge-podge middle ground?

I mused this question in a Facebook group once. Ready answer, of course “Pray and study and do what’s right for your family. You have to take care of your family’s needs”. I pressed further “Then why would we come to different conclusions?”

And here’s where I discovered a problem. The answer I received (from anyone not just broken recording of how all families are different) was about how not everyone was at the same spiritual level.

Ouch.

So anyone who takes the vaccination matter to prayer and receives inspiration to indeed vaccinate is bad at receiving revelation. Isn’t “spiritual” enough. Isn’t “woke” enough. Is subject to some cruel prank by God. Is subject to the lesser law because they just aren’t ready to handle the spiritual responsibility of not vaccinating.

It’s really the only conclusion I can come to. And I don’t believe it.

Maybe I’m just too critical of the antivaccine ideology. But I just can’t imagine a scenario where the appropriateness of vaccines would vary so much from family to family. Could I imagine God inspiring a family not to vaccinate for unknown medical reasons? Absolutely. Could I imagine God inspiring a family to vaccinate, again for yet unknown medical reasons? Another absolutely.

You might say that answers my question. Individually, which is ultimately all there is, taking the matter to prayer makes sense. Studying and learning is always good.

But these antivaxxers who say they believe vaxxing is wrong though everyone should do what’s right for their family upend this notion. If vaccinations are truly bad, they are bad for the majority of the population. God expects us to use our brains, and if vaccines are so awful, why do I even need to take the matter to prayer to “see if it’s right for my family”? Yes, all families are different, but not so different vaccine have or not is going to be all over the chart.

Probably because if I were spiritually stronger I would automatically know I shouldn’t vaccinate, I type with sarcasm.

If vaccination is truly wrong for your kids, by all means, keep them safe. I don’t doubt the reality of vaccine injuries. But I trust the studies that have shown vaccines are still just fine for a majority of the population. If I can find a reason my kid shouldn’t be vaccinated, or if I feel a spiritual prompting against vaccinations, I will rethink the vaccination.

But let’s be honest: the “rightness” of vaccines isn’t going to vary so much that to “all families are different”. Vaccines are wrong for some people, that’s true. But for the rest of us? It’s either going to be right or wrong. Vaccines are either good and safe for the majority, or we need to get rid of them. There’s no inbetween.

blue and silver stetoscope

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

Potato and Yam Soup with Bacon

It’s the middle of summer, a miserably hot Utah day, and I decided I would whip up a pot of potato soup. Because nothing says hot summer like hot soup. I wound up being quite proud of this particular pot of soup. My husband and kids enjoyed it in spite of the heat. I added a little bit of spice to it to keep it interesting and sort of summery. Perhaps it is best reserved for colder months.

My first plan was to do the whole thing in the crock pot. But I didn’t have evaporated milk, so I did a big chuck of it in the crock pot. So it’s not purely a slow cooker meal, but it gets a lot done.

As far as the potato and yam comparison go, I’m telling what I used, but your aim should be roughly equal potatoes and yams.

1 yam

2 medium yellow potatoes

2 medium red potatoes

1 onion

3 celery stalks

3 strips of bacon

1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning (or a red pepper type thing as you prefer)

Half a stick of butter

2 cans of chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup of whole milk

3 tbsp flour

2 tbsp of balsamic glace or 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Siracha to taste

Salt and pepper

Cheese, more bacon, sour cream, all that

 

Chop the potatoes and yam and place in the slow cooker. Add the butter and the broth.

Fry up the bacon and use the bacon grease to cook the onions. Save the leftover bacon grease for later. Add those to the crockpot with the Old Bay and some salt and pepper (be generous with that seasoning). Cook on high for 4 hours/low for 8 hours. Basically until the potatoes and yam are nice and soft.

When that slow cooker stuff is pretty much done, use about 3 tbsp of bacon grease (or butter, but bacon!) and the flour to make a roux. This mean, get the fat nice and hot, toss in the flour, and mix it for about 3-5 minutes. Add the milk and keep whisking here and there until a nice cream appears. Now, add more salt and pepper and a healthy squirt or two of siracha.

Now, you can either transfer the contents of the slow cooker to another pot or use the slow cooker, whichever. I like a creamy potato soup, so I mashed my potatoes up a bit at this point. Probably not necessary. Anywho, add the cream sauce to the potatoes and mix it in. Add the balsamic glace or vinegar and stir that in.

Serve with your delightful toppings of choice.

 

 

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Comfort food. That beloved meal of heritage that is a classic go-to in your home.

In our house we have a dish my husband took from his ex-wife. It strikes me as one of those down-home dishes every other person probably knows how to make, and I’m just fine with that.

Doesn’t make it any less good. This goes fast in our house. My girls eat in huge helpings (I now wonder if I can turn it into a calorie-packed meal for cystic fibrosis). One time, before we had kids, my husband fed the missionaries while I was at work and those elders ate all of it.

The best part is you can make this as simple or elaborate as you want. At its simplest, the dish is chicken, rice, broccoli, and cream soup together in a pan. You can use turkey, you can substitute cauliflower for the broccoli or combine the two, you can probably cram in other foods.

I’ll give you our favorite version.

 

20180725_191328 (1)1 pound of chicken, diced or shredded

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 can of cream of chicken soup

1 can of milk or water (use milk if you have nothing against milk)

1 head of broccoli chopped into florets. Or an equivalent amount of broccoli florets. You’re really looking for enough broccoli to create its own stratus.

1 onion

2 cups of mushrooms, sliced

2 cups of cooked rice

1 cup of shredded cheese.

Oil or butter

Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350.

Chop the onions to your preference (we like Julian) and sauté them with the fat in a pan. You can do the mushrooms with them, but Julie and Julia did say to cook them separate so they’ll brown properly or something. When they’re looking pretty good, cook the chicken. Sometimes I cook this dish in a cast iron skillet and just leave my chicken, onions, and fungi there when I’m done. Because my husband feels quite strongly they ought to be the bottom layer. If you’re using a baking dish, then simply move this stuff to the pan.

Steam the broccoli, then spread it over the chicken and stuff. Dash some salt and pepper on this.

Cook the cream soups with the milk (or water, if you must). When prepared, mix this with the rice. When it’s all nice and combined, pour it over the rest of the food. Salt and pepper as you will.

Stick this in the oven. 5 minutes or so gets it nice and hot. Then, sprinkle the cheese over it. Cook about 5-10 minutes until your cheese is to your liking.

Serve and enjoy. It’s creamy, heavy comfort food that just tastes good.

On LDS folk breastfeeding at church

Yesterday, I missed a pretty good debate in one of my Facebook groups–by the time I saw it, the comments had been turned off. Turned out threads regarding the same incident appeared in similar groups. Most of them again had comments off. Well, turned out the story had already appeared on a blog or two and that was creating quite the stir. Curious to read the drama over something near and dear to my heart, I sought out the original story, a little question in one of my most local mom groups.

So, if you haven’t heard, allegedly a mom isn’t getting her temple recommend because she was breastfeeding uncovered.

 

I had heard of such things before, but it always seemed to be in the realm of rumor lore. Never had I seen evidence. The suggestion a woman can’t breastfeed as she is comfortable sets my blood boiling. What devil spawn would even suggest a thing? Shall we do sacrament meeting nurse-ins and protest on Temple Square?

I don’t know the girl, even though we have three mutual friends. I assume she’s a nice person. I assume she is a faithful member of the church who wants what is best for her family. The original little post didn’t even mention what happened (that came out in the comments and later on The Exponent and another blog or two). She just wanted to know how to contact a member of the 70.

Nuggets of the aftermath pop up here and there on my feed and I feel… worried.

All things being equal, I firmly believe a woman should be able to breastfeed wherever, covered or uncovered. If this mother is worth of her temple recommend, she should have it. But when this become a rallying cry of breastfeeding rights against the Church, we have a problem.

Which is odd. I have never participated in a nurse-in, but I’d like to. I love the idea of actively championing breastfeeding rights.

But there is a line in my faith outlook when it comes to actively going against the Church. I’m not saying breastfeeding is against church policy–this is the first time I’ve truly heard of a problem. I don’t think it should be. I don’t think there’s an actual policy on the matter. Maybe there should be, maybe we should be able to move beyond that ourselves.

In some minds as far as I’ve seen, this is becoming a rallying cry of championing a cause in protest when I bet the best approach would be to seek unity and understanding. People are using this incident as yet another reason to bash the Church. This is becoming “proof” of how oppressive we are, an excuse for another reason to avoid the Church, a happy dance of anyone who wants to snub the LDS.

My wish and hope for this mother is the matter is settled calmly, thoughtfully, and faithfully.

I don’t know the situation. All I know is one voice of an incident I never saw. Was the bishop being ridiculous about the matter? Are he and the stake president decent guys who have a thing against public breastfeeding? Was this mother performing full-on strip tease at church? (I highly doubt this, I’m just wondering about the full truth). Did the discussion over the breastfeeding complaints get a little heated and one or both parties said things out of spite? For the matter, maybe the whole thing is less about breastfeeding and more about everything else. But once again, I don’t know.

That’s why I worry about this becoming A Thing. A not-so-simple matter between a few people in one ward is not cause for a march or a petition or any of that them-vs-them ilk. From what I gathered, this mother went up the appropriate chain of authority to see to the matter. May all go well there.

But I don’t think she should get her recommend just because she called and complained to a bunch of church guys.

The temple is a big part of the LDS faith. It is a place of sacred covenants, a place where one might learn or meditate or pray. A recommend is not a thing to be taken lightly, and certainly not up for barter or haggle in a social media outrage. It is not a trophy for anyone after they “won” a disagreement in the church.

I do think this is a matter we might wish to think upon. The obvious is pondering women’s rights and breastfeeding matters and I don’t wish to shun those. But in the matter of such a disagreement, how might one grow? Is this to be a fight against the bishop or the stake president or even the Church? Or is a time to consider how to meet one’s needs while still loving and honoring the Church?

Perhaps someone in the line will state the message to stop fussing over the breastfeeding. Perhaps, as one thought was given, this mother will find blessings in doing what the bishop wants, even if it is wrong. Now, I do want to make the disclaimer I can think of plenty of cases where the bishop or stake president might be wrong and it’s definitely wrong and warrants a real battle or scolding. But not all distasteful incidents are at the level, and this may be one of them. These are imperfect mortal men who are going to have their peeves and their favorites and their quirks. Sometimes we can humble ourselves to sustain and support them anyway and maybe even humor them. (Do I think this is one of those times? I don’t know, I don’t know the situation).

Whatever the complaint, it’s not a reason to put one’s self at odds with the Church. I believe this is a matter than can be handled peacefully. Maybe a policy will be created. Maybe we’ll continue to navigate such matters at local levels

But a rallying cry of breastfeeding moms against the Church, it need not be.

About those teachers who don’t do a darn thing during the summer

man wearing sunglasses reading book on body of water

Photo by Toa Heftiba Şinca on Pexels.com

I am about two-thirds of the way through my summer break. Why do I have a summer break? Because I am a teacher. Yes, I am one of those people who get to have that awesome 2 or 3-month break that all other careers hate us for.

And I am not going to apologize for it. I am not going to make excuses to downplay my summer break. I am not going to tell you how awful it is. This is not one of those posts listing how I don’t really get a summer break, poor me.

Oh, I get a summer break.

It’s awesome. I applied for, was offered, and took a new teaching position (about the extent of my teacher work). I have spent lots of time with my kids. I have slept in and realized I don’t like sleeping in. I have gardened. I have gone to the water park. I’ve read books. I’ve written a little.

It’s been a pretty grand summer.

I’m sure there are teachers–awesome, talented teachers–who don’t get much of a summer break. They have their reasons. Perhaps they truly are given duties and responsibilities that zap the summer away from them. Perhaps summer is the most convenient time to take classes. Perhaps they are those super-teachers who won’t be happy if they’re not dabbling in something teacher-related.

I’m happy those don’t apply to me.

See, I don’t actually get paid for the summer because that’s not how my new contract works and it’s not how past contracts have worked. My contracts pretty much cover the school year. That is the time I am being paid for. I have my paycheck spread out over twelve months, but I’m not earning anything during those warmer months. So why should I work?

Yeah, you might say I should work because that’s what good teachers do. If I truly cared about the children, I would abandon my own offspring and husband and slave away all summer long, coming up with Pinterest-perfect classrooms and writing and rewriting curriculum, and pretty much humble-bragging about what a good teacher I am.

I think I’m a pretty good teacher. I have received pretty good evaluations and pretty good feedback.  I know I’m not yet the greatest teacher ever. If becoming that means I don’t get any free time for myself and my family, then too bad. I’m not yet at a season of my life where I want to do that.

That isn’t to say teachers who don’t do a darn thing during the summers are bad teachers. I don’t think there’s a strong correlation between the two ideas. All that can really be said about a teacher forgetting about teaching during the summer is that he’s not working on teaching stuff. That’s it. A teacher who has dropped the teaching mantle for a few months is merely focusing on other aspects of a balanced life.

We teachers who don’t toil endlessly in our classrooms during the summer are merely looking at the rest of the world and our lives. We’re enjoying ourselves. We are understanding there is more to life than teaching. We are relaxing. We are exploring. We are taking care of other relationships. We are taking care of ourselves. We are examining other interests. After all, what would we think of a student who focused only on one thing?

We don’t need to be shamed or told we don’t care about the children. If you want us to work during the summer, pay us. But I’d rather have my precious summer off.