Monday, February 22, 2010


This is my kitchen area. Clean. Notice the oak cabinets. We are putting those downstairs as well. I know not Knotty Alder like everyone else right now. I love oak, deal with it.
This is a my Great Room area. Notice the hydrangea potted plants (normally stored in my basement until March) and the three ride-ons that are normally in my basement.
Front room: Everything that was in the basement (with a few exceptions) is now there. Notice the neatly piled storage bins along the back wall and then notice how as you get closer to the front of the picture, everything looks really just thrown in there.
Another picture, that for some reason, wouldn't turn. You see, I started carrying up things with a well ordered plan in mind but as the weekend progressed (with no husband around, who was on a well deserved golfing trip with his dad and brothers), I got panicky and just started bringing things up. I also threatened the kids that they could never play in our new basement unless they helped me. Children ages 10, 8, almost 6 and three were excellent helpers but not really "good placement" minded.
So, I still need to rearrange things quite a bit and make a few more trips to the DI and possibly a find an unattended dumpster but I am afraid, it isn't going to look much better than this for a few months. Oh and we need to start eating more canned corn. I discovered a ton of it down there.

Friday, February 19, 2010

So Plans Have Changed. . .

Well, I mentioned in a previous post, that February will be the month I clean out all my papers. That has changed because February has now become the month we empty our basement because we are going to finish it.

We have kicked this idea around for about six months but normally, we are slow starters. For us, kicking around an idea usually means about three years worth of kicking around. We don't just decide to do something and then do it. But, this time, we did. (There are a lot reasons why we are doing it now that I won't go into, but one major obstacle overcome was both of us deciding that we like our main two floors enough to just do the same paint, cabinets, fixtures, carpet, etc. down in the basement. Way less decision making and zero spousal fighting.)

Anyway, back in November, I did decide that things were too messy and crazy down there. Most of our stuff was stored in different sized boxes or just thrown down in a pile. So in November, I did buy storage bins and very slowly started organizing things. In January, I did a little bit more. At the start of February, I thought, "I need to get really serious about this basement cleaning thing" but instead decided to focus on the "paper" thing. So, a little more was done, largely just in the huge filing cabinet I have down there.

Last Friday, I called my friend, who had her basement finished about 8 months ago and asked if we could come over and see it. (Dentist husband had said, "Gee, I never saw their finished basement, even though I did have a long conversation with R--- about it just after they started it.) She has the same floor plan as our house and we brought the kids. After over an hour there, my husband said, "Call her guy and get a bid." He was here on Tuesday. The bid was dropped off on Thursday and Friday morning (today), I called him and said, "When can you start?" Guess what? He can start Monday.

So, instead of going through all of my papers, I have to empty my basement. We have no room in our garage (ironically, when we got our third, very frivolous car, I took everything from our third car garage and dumped in our basement). So it looks like my front room will be the place everything is stored for the next few months. Wish me luck and don't stop by. Things are going to be chaos around here for while.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vaccines and Autism

My friend Alissa is a pediatrician here in Utah. I have known her for about four years and she and I are very close friends. We read the same books, her daughter, Ella is in my Nursery at church and my husband and I adore her, her husband and child. She just did this blog post about the link between vaccinations and autism. It beautifully explains the history of the MMR/Autism confusion and I thought I would pass it along. :

When Ella was 12 months old I took her in for her year 1 year visit. I love going to my Pediatrician. He is wise and kind and funny and sarcastic. He was one of my mentors while in residency and he still has a larger than life aura in my eyes. But for this particular visit I was a little nervous. Because I knew which shots were given at 12 months. MMR, Varicella and Hepatitis A. And while I wasn't really worried about introducing these into my child's system, there was a little tiny part of me that thought, "What if Jenny McCarthy is right?" It didn't help that there was a magazine in the waiting room graced with her beautiful smile and her autistic child.

I did, however, give Ella all of her vaccines. And Charlie reassured me, as he always does, in his warm, only slightly sarcastic, manner.

It got me thinking, though. I tell my vaccines ≠ autism speech one to ten times a week. And I believe it. But I still worried. In the end I felt very good about my decision, and a little silly for my hesitation. But it's different when it's your own kid. You want to do what's 110% right. Never any harm.


So if you've ever hesitated, or worried, or not vaccinated your child....I get it. Autism can be scary. And Jenny can be pretty convincing. But I think that in this instance we are all victims of the incredible media hype surrounding this issue. Fear drives decisions, not facts. And when you know the whole story fear is replaced by understanding. So I thought I'd do my own little PSA and share what I know.

The autism story...


12 years ago there was a gastroenterologist in England. Dr. Wakefield. He looked at 12 children (eight of whom had autism) concluded that the combined MMR vaccine could contribue to the bowel problems, which might be connected to autism. This study got published in a reputable journal, the Lancet. And, bam. The media grabbed hold of the story and it spread like wildfire. The cause of autism. Vaccines. This was huge. (Although it was a little bit of a leap, even for the Wakefield faithful. The article did state, "We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome [autism] described".)

Parents everywhere started to worry. Vaccination rates dropped, as low as 50% in some parts of London. Measles rates rose. Children died.

But after the initial hype, doctors started taking a closer look at the Wakefield study. Turns out it was a little messy. There were no controls (normal children to compare t0). Many of the children in the study were involved with anti-vaccine lawyers before the study began, not randomly selected.
The methodology was shoddy. And Dr. Wakefield was in the process of creating his own "safer" non-combined MMR vaccine. He stood to significantly benefit from a decline in the use of the combined MMR vaccine.

As it goes in medicine, if there is one ground breaking study, follow-up studies soon follow to see if the results can be replicated. And the studies came in. Dozens of them. Two studies, one by Dr. Wakefield and both with significant flaws, showed a relationship between bowel disorders and the MMR vaccine. But none were able to show a link between autism and vaccinations. None.

One of the first studies came out of England. It investigated the relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism. They looked at 498 children and found no difference in the rates of autism between the vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

A study in California looked at the relationship between the increasing number of autism cases and receipt of the MMR vaccine. Between 1980 and 1994 there was a dramatic rise in autism, but the percentage of children receiving the MMR vaccine remained the same. A similar study was conducted in England with the same results.

One of the best studies was done in Denmark between 1991 and 1998. They looked at 537,303 children (compared to Wakefield's 12). They looked at the risk of autism in the vaccinated children (about 80% of them) compared to the unvaccinated children. No difference. There was also no association found between the age at the time of vaccination and the development of autism.

This past January the Lancet officially retracted the original Wakefield paper. (Most of the authors of the paper (besides Wakefield) had already taken their names off the paper.) They effectively said, "This paper should have never been published." But it was published, and oh, the damage it has done.


An average of 1 in 110 children are autistic. The most striking signs of autism appear around 12 to 15 months, the same time the MMR vaccine is given. Statistically, if you have 40 million children, approximately 400,000 of those children will have autism. Out of those 400,000 some of those children are going to start developing symptoms around the time they get their vaccines. They just are. Not because of the vaccines, but just because of coincidence. But try and tell the mother of the one who stopped talking the day after she received her MMR that the two are not related. It's a hard sell.

My own opinion is that there is a genetic component as well as an environmental risk factor. The issue is finding out just what that risk factor is. The only thing that I can conclusively say is that vaccines do NOT cause autism. I know this because they have been studied again, and again, and again. But what about other risk factors. Is it microwaves? Hormones in cows milk? Cell phones during pregnancy? I don't know. And unfortunately, the controversy surrounding vaccines diverts attention and resources from finding out what is really causing autism.

So there you have it. My autism talk. Now, one small caveat. Although they do not cause autism, I don't think vaccines are 100% safe for every single child. There are some children with underlying disorders who will react poorly to vaccines. My cousin's son, a patient of mine, has a seizure disorder. He had a major seizure after receiving his 6 month vaccines. We are holding off on the rest of immunizations until we can get his seizures under control. But for the vast majority of children, the risk associated with vaccines is much lower than the risk associated with the diseases they prevent. And as more and more children are unvaccinated, the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases increases because the "
herd immunity" is less protective.

When it comes down to it, my family is the most important and best thing in my life. I try to not recommend anything to patients or friends that I wouldn't feel comfortable giving Ella. I have given her all of the available vaccines, and felt good about the decision. And it hasn't done her any harm. She's a genius. Just ask her grandma.


Other resources:
I think this is a great article. Her book, Baby 411, is one of my favorites.
Another good one
If you want to dig REALLY the Institute of Medicine Report. All 154 pages.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Las Hermanas Latinas

When I was 21, I served a mission for my church.

I was originally called to Buenos Aires West Argentina and after serving down there for 9 months and getting sick, I was sent home and reassigned to downtown Salt Lake City, UT on Temple Square. Both of my mission experiences had their ups and downs but I really came into my own as missionary on Temple Square.

One of the best parts of my mission there was serving with amazing woman from around the world. Thankfully for facebook, I have been able to reconnect with many of them and I still consider many of them among my favorite people on the planet.

At one point, I was asked to be a supervisor over all of the Spanish speaking missionaries. I spoke the worst Spanish of the bunch but thankfully, they all over-looked that part. One of my biggest goals as their supervisor was to create a sense of unity among us as well as give all of them opportunities to speak their native language. Having lived in Argentina, I knew first hand how there were days when being able to speak in English was like wrapping a warm blanket of comfort around me. So I made sure to organize monthly meetings where we spoke onlySpanish. (Normally, English was the only language we were allowed to speak on Temple Square unless we were giving a tour in our specific foreign language.)

Anyway, I recently found the above picture. I remember this moment so well because again, I wanted them to know how special they were to be Spanish-speaking sisters and how blessed we were to be on Temple Square, sharing our treasured beliefs to the Spanish speaking visitors on Temple Square. After this photo was taken, I enlarged it, framed it and gave a copy to each missionary and labeled it, "Las Hermanas Latinas".

I adore those girls and love all that this picture represents. (Notice, I am the only blond in the whole group. :) )

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I love them
and him.

Happy Valentine's Day

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nostalgia/Urban Legends

I have spent the last few days cleaning out our basement in preparations for finishing it. It is a pretty brutal task because we have lived in this house for five years and even brought boxes from previous moves unopened to this house. In the course of living here, the unfinished basement has also become a major play area for the kids in which I rarely go down to see what messes they have made, and so it is a huge project I am undertaking.

To help with the tedium, I brought a radio down there and just turned it on. I didn't pick a specific station and the first song that came on was the Phil Collins classic, "In the Air Tonight." I haven't thought of this song (or Phil Collins for that matter) for YEARS. At one point, a boy I dated was a huge Phil Collins fan and I know a ton of his music because of it, so nostalgia after nostalgia came flooding in waves over me as I was sweeping up packaging peanuts in the basement. (Imagine a bunch of little kids finding a full box of packaging peanuts and having at it. I should have checked on them more often.)

So, back to my nostalgia. Do any of you remember the urban legend attached with "In the Air Tonight?" Snopes goes into all of its variations but basically, Phil Collins witnessed a drowning and he witnessed someone else watch it happen and they didn't help the drowning victim. Phil Collins then wrote this song and invited the "witness that could have helped but didn't" front stage to his concert and said, "Bob (or Billy, or whoever) this is for you."

This urban legend was talked about constantly when I was in junior high and even high school. Why were we so convinced this was true? Maybe it is many more years added to my age but when I think about this now, I am shocked at our gullibility. If Phil Collins witnessed this, why didn't he just call the police? Where did this happen? Were there more than just those three people at said event? Why did he wait years to spotlight the guilty party at his concert? Why didn't Phil Collins help the poor drowning soul? (Ok, urban legend said that for some reason, he couldn't help. That he was incapacitated in someway. Again, thank you urban legend for filling in the gaps.)

It then got me to thinking about the crazy stuff we are willing to believe. What will I look back at 15-20 years from now and say, "Was I really that gullible? Why was I so willing to believe?"

Anyway, those are my thoughts cleaning out a basement while listening to some unknown radio station when a Phil Collins song comes on. Pretty deep huh? :) For my fellow 80's readers, go here to listen the song.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Nail "Incident" of 2010

The day before had been so good. Dentist husband's birthday was perfectly celebrated with fresh sushi, a Napoleon for dessert and gummy bears and the movie E.T. for family movie night. Dentist husband loved his presents, (an Arcteryx jacket, a sleeping pad from REI, Haribo gummy bears and silly putty) and we had a perfect fun night celebrating. The next day promised to be just as fun with a possible birthday lunch to Market Street Grill.

Instead, this happened:

Earlier in the day on his birthday, I had spent about a 1/2 hour downstairs working on dejunking our storage area in preparations for finishing our basement. I am about 1/2 way done and feeling like I am finally making noticeable progress. While down there, I found a 1/2 opened box of nails that I carried upstairs and out to our garage. Well, one must have fallen out and found by toothsome #4. She must of carried it over to our Great Room and dropped it there. Because. . .

Saturday morning, Dentist husband was wrestling with the kids when he stepped on said nail barefooted where it embedded itself about a 1/2 inch into his foot. You can imagine the pain, the hollering, the tears for the kids and Mom as Dentist Husband pulled the nail out of his foot and then proceeded to drip great amounts of blood all over the carpet. More tears (mostly by me) and panic. Fortunately, within 5 minutes, Dentist husband was in the car and at the Instacare where he got it washed out and received a tetanus shot.

When all was settled down, Dentist husband looked at me and said, "I have considered the possibility of stepping on a nail at a construction site, maybe even in a parking lot where construction is going on but NEVER in my home on the carpet in our Great Room."

Yep, it was pretty awful. Fortunately, he is just fine (though still in a lot of pain and limping considerably) but no tetanus or lock jaw and a wife who will feel horribly guilty for the next 30 years.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Dentist Husband

38 Reasons Why I Love Him:

1. He is a devoted father.
2. He does my girl's hair more than I do.
3. Has never missed work because he was sick.
4. Devoted to his patients at his dental practice, often going in on weekends and holidays to get them out of pain.
5. Has a killer sense of humor.
6. Is the most beautiful water skier/air chair rider I have ever seen.
7. Is very rational particularly when I am being irrational.
8. Never likes to sit around, so we are often "going some where fun" with him.
9. Plays nightly with my kids and makes up different games with them regularly.
10. Often will dance with my girls while they are in their ballet costumes.
11. Writes silly songs that we all end up singing together. (Where is the chin? Where is the chin? It's on the face. It's on the face. CHIN.)
12. Is a way better cook than I am but still eats the food I put on the table.
13. Looks at the world with clear lenses and often sees past the nonsense to see the reality of situations.
14. Is a horrible speller, which makes me better at him in just that one area.
15. Sacrificed a ton of fun in his life to get through dental school, so he could be such an amazing provider.
16. Doesn't complain when we eat out a lot.
17. Has no problem with the amount of Diet Coke I drink.
18. Has a beautiful smile and teeth.
19. Whenever I get invited on a girl's weekend, he always says, "Go!"
20. Makes people laugh regularly.
21. Dutifully brushes and flosses my kids teeth nightly.
22. Has a beautiful tenor voice.
23. Is the instigator for our Family Home Evenings every Monday night.
24. Loves the beach and always makes our trips there very fun.
25. Loves clean kids and often is the one to wash the kids.
26. He gets a five o clock shadow by 10 in the morning.
27. Never wears cologne. (I am not a fan.)
28. Is just as conservative as I am.
29. Prefers we do things together as a family regardless of the activity and will help me wrestle our youngest in the process. (Bowling, movies, eating out, ice skating, swimming, sledding etc.)
30. I love that he loves cars and has educated me on them.
31. He is a naturally happy person.
32. Can fall asleep easily (while I am often awake stewing about something.)
33. I love that he calls me regularly during the day, so we can stay connected.
34. He often will decide he wants to learn how to make a certain recipe and then spend all day researching and then making it.
35. Love that he take the kids out individually on "adventures."
36. Is devoted to our church's beliefs and lives a very Christ centered life.
37. Is an excellent problem solver.
38. Is an excellent husband.

Happy 38 years.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February: The month I go through ALL my papers

It all started out so simple. My butler's pantry, which I use as my work station, had gotten a little over loaded with paper. So, I decided to clear and go through that.

We then started talking about possibly finishing the basement and we have a tall filing cabinet down there that holds all of our paperwork. I thought, "I should really go through that." So, I started and really got going. So, after an hour of mostly throwing things away, I decided, "This is it. I am going to go through every piece of paper in my house."

Wish me luck. The end of the month, I hope to have filled my recycling can.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Skin Cancer Update/Info

I went in for my annual skin exam and learned a few things I thought I would pass on. (I have been to many skin doctors, including a melanoma study at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and am surprised that I learn new stuff when I go in but it seems like I always do.)

--Everyone should do a skin check once a month. More often, you don't notice change. If you notice a new mole after about the age of 30, it is good to go in and have it checked. It likely will be nothing but it should be looked at.

--It is very rare for children under the age of 10 to develop skin cancers. After the age of 10, if there is a family history, children should be taken in annually.

--Anyone who has had a melanoma removed has about a 5 percent chance of having another one. Even with my family history (two sisters who have had melanoma and one with basal cell), my chance only increases a little more than that.

--A new black mole should be taken very seriously, particularly if a new black spot develops in an existing mole.

--Most melanomas start out flat.

--My husband has a 1 percent chance of developing melanoma but after the doctor saw my almost albino daughter, he agreed since my husband fathered her, I was right to have him go in.

I also learned that a red spot on my nose is not just a pimple that has taken a long time to heal. It is a broken blood vessel and if I want it to go away, I have to in for laser treatment. Sigh.

As I type this, salmon is cooking in my oven with a recipe I have never tried before. It will either be excellent or we will end up going out to dinner. I would say we are 50/50 right now as it isn't smelling that great.

UPDATE: The salmon was awesome and easy. 350 degrees in the oven on a cookie sheet with tin foil on it. Olive oil, small amount of liquid smoke and salt and pepper (all rubbed on the top) for 25 minutes. Holy crap. Easy and delicious.

Oh and I ran 8 miles today in 88 minutes. I could have kept running (which is a good thing since the 1/2 marathon I am training for is 5 miles longer) but my 5 and 3 year olds were being very quiet and I had no idea what mess they had made behind me. It ended up only being some spilled milk and a lot of paper cut up into tiny pieces. A very doable mess.