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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Maggie and a PFAPA Update


Well, we had, what we HOPE is the LAST blood draw last week.  St. Louis Rhuematology sent us to Mercy's PICU to get our blood work this time since they are very, very good at drawing blood on children.  It went well, Maggie did really great.  She didn't cry or fuss or even move around.  When they were finished up with her blood work they let her pick an item from the "treasure box."  Wow!  This was a REAL treasure box, full of really nice toys.  Maggie chose a Polly Pocket with a change of clothes.  

Once we were done at Mercy we headed to Krispy Kreme for a sprinkle donut and strawberry milk. 


Now, what the next step in the PFAPA journey will be is not clear.  Her doctors have just expressed several times that "she will out grow it…someday."  In the meantime they continue to follow her.  There have been some markers on her blood work that had, what they think are, "false positives".   I've never quite followed what that will mean and unless it really is positive, then I'm not sure I actually want to know right now…  Why stress over something that probably isn't?  Know what I mean?

In the meantime Maggie's fevers have become a bit more unpredictable.   (We used to be able to track them to every 24 days).  It still comes about once a month and we have treated it with Prednisone a handful of times now.   That seems to throw off the timing on when the fever episode returns.  I had read on the internet that many Moms that treat their kids with Prednisone find the fevers return much sooner.  I haven't found this to be the case…thankfully.

I have wondered though if Maggie's sudden onset fear of weird things, like fire extinguishers, were not exacerbated by the Prednisone?  We went to Walmart one afternoon after Prednisone that morning and Maggie had major meltdown-freakout over seeing fire extinguishers in the store.  That was all new and very strange.  If anyone else has noticed this please let me know.

So, that is where Maggie is at.  She is an otherwise healthy, happy little girl so hopefully we "outgrow" it sooner rather than later.  With the fever episodes it is a blessing we homeschool, there is no way she could attend school.  She would miss so many days...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas!


 We had a great Christmas!  I tried, really I did, to go more "minimal" this year with gifts.  As you can see from the status of the gifts under our tree I wasn't very successful.  ;)


Maggie loves Pete the Cat!

She also got this Elsa dress from Gramma. 
Frozen has replaced Tangled as Maggie's favorite movie.


Kayley is all about Legos...


I hope your Christmas was wonderful!  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Udderly Smooth {Mosaic Review}

What a great time of  year to try out some products from Udderly Smooth!  Both of my girls have dry skin and struggle with eczema.  Maggie especially talks about her "bumpy-bumpies" on her arms.  I try to remember to put lotion on her poor dry arms, but I tend to forget which doesn't help her bumpies get better.  Trying expensive lotions hasn't helped a whole lot either.  I was excited to try out the lotions from Udderly Smooth.  I've seen them in the store but have never purchased them, and now that that I've tried them, I get to tell you all about it!

Udderly Smooth® Udder Cream was originally invented in Ohio use on dairy cows under harsh conditions. Now used for dry and chapped skin on people worldwide . Product uses also include:
* Dry and chapped skin
* As a shaving lotion
* Diabetes skin care
* Hand and Foot Syndrome- a side effect of chemotherapy drugs
* Chamois cream for bicyclists
* Needlework and quilting

We received:
Original Formula Body Cream, Shea Butter Dry Foot Cream and 2 tubes of Hand Cream, samples to share and a coupon!  Thank you so much Udderly Smooth for being so generous!

All 3 products we tried are lightly fragranced.  I think they have a very nice, muted scent, but for those who are sensitive to these types of products, many of Udderly Smooth's lotions are available fragrance free.  The lotions are smooth and do not leave a greasy residue.  It absorbs quickly and I didn't have any worries about it getting on my daughters clothing like some other types of lotions that go on thick and heavy.  With my daughters "bumpies" she tends to get upset when I want to put lotion on her.  Sometimes it stings, but she was so thrilled with the Body Cream.  No stinging.  She said she thought it felt like "mayonnaise."  (I'm not sure when Maggie smeared Mayonnaise on her skin, but whatever, haha).    No one in my immediate family has severely dry feet so I can't say how well the foot cream works but we all have problems with dry hands and faces and, so far, the light moisture of Udderly Smooth hand cream and body cream both have a very nice hydrating effect.

You can find Udderly Smooth products at most major retailers or on UdderlySmooth.com.  The price is right in my opinion, ranging from $5.75 for a 12 oz canister of Body Cream, $6.50 for an 8 oz Foot Cream, $2.75 for the 4 oz tube of hand cream and $1.75 for the 2 oz tube.  (Hello Stocking Stuffer!)

You can find all items for purchase here.  When compared to some of the "fancy" lotions I've bought in the past, this is a great price and a great product!

Several of my team mates also reviewed Udderly Smooth products.  Find out their thoughts on the Mosaic Reviews Udderly Smooth link up page!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow!


Maggie shoveling the front yard...

Snow Angels...

We don't typically get snow this early in Missouri and it has been a welcome treat for my girls.  Schools have been closed (some are still closed 9 days later), swimming lessons were cancelled, but we sure have had fun playing outside!

11.5 inches… Is that all?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Missouri Mines State Historic Site & Elephant Rocks State Park

We took an opportunity while my family was here to do a little big of exploration!  We went to Missouri Mines State Historic Site and Elephant Rocks State Park.  It made for a long day in the car, but we had a lot of fun using walkie-talkies to chat back and forth as we drove.   Here are a few pictures from our day trip…






Thank you Aunt Jenna for rock scrambling with Maggie!




Friday, December 13, 2013

Jefferson Avenue Foot Bridge


Kayley and Maggie are interested in trains and they had been wanting to go down to the Jefferson Avenue Foot Bridge off of Commercial Street for a while.  This bridge is over a hundred years old and provides a way for pedestrians to cross several sets of train tracks!  It is unfortunate that Commercial Street is a not-very-good part of town, so I hadn't taken them there yet on my own.  So, we took advantage of Gramma and Papa being here and went down and took a walk over the foot bridge.  It was chilly and a little windy up there, but it was very interesting!  No trains came through while we were on the bridge and we waited quite a while hoping.  Maybe next time?




Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In Wisdom & Order by Boyd K. Packer. {Deseret Book Review}

The timeless counsel King Benjamin lovingly presented to his people includes this simple and thoughtful caution: "See that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order" (Mosiah 4:27).In this new collection of addresses, President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reiterates an ancient prophet's call to do all things "in wisdom and order."
President Boyd K. Packer has been a familiar face at General Conference for many years.  His pearls of wisdom have been frequently quoted by many…  Always able to express controversial, complicated and sensitive gospel topics with conviction and love, President Packer is also quite a poet and he can be so humorous too.  I love President Packer so what is not to love about In Wisdom & Order?  I couldn't come up with anything!

This book is 28 chapters (272 pages) and encompasses the last 25 years of talks and addresses covering a wide variety of topics including:  faith, profanity, priesthood, callings, temples, children, covenants and lessons from other church leaders.

I really enjoy these types of books that combine several years worth of the very best talks by one of our church leaders.  You can read them straight through like a novel or read them topically.  Every book like this that I have ever had, I have held onto fiercely!  They serve as an invaluable resource for planning talks or lessons, family home evening, or just for the pleasure of reading what you want to know about topics from various church leaders.

In Wisdom & Order currently retails for $23.39 in hardback and only  $13.99 as a bookshelf eBook from DeseretBook.com


Don't forget, you can download the Deseret Bookshelf app free!   
It is available for both iPhone and Android devices…

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Home For the Holidays - Mormon Tabernacle Choir 2012 Christmas Concert {Deseret Book Review}

Another wonderful concert from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Conference Center at Temple Square!  I have to admit, after seeing last years conference (King Wenceslas told by actress Jane Seymour) I was really excited to sit down and watch this years concert with my family!  It did not disappoint and made for a great family activity!

This years concert featured Lt. Hal Halvorson, the REAL Candy Bomber from WWII and the story was told by famed journalist, Tom Brokaw.  Vocals from Alfe Boe, who plays Jean Valjean in Les Miserable adds his handsome tenor to the voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square.  There was fun dance numbers and the best part of all…was when they dropped, quite literally, a surprise on all the guests!  It gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes.

We were offered both the DVD and the CD to review!  They were both just as good as I anticipated, and I'm not kidding when I say you will need a tissue!  My kids' favorite part?  The organ solo!  Sleigh Ride by Richard Elliott was incredible!  He played all the parts, by himself…  such a treat!  

Here are some of the details:

    Bonus Features (DVD)
  • Backstage with Tom Brokaw and Alfie Boe
  • Exclusive footage with Gail "Hal" Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber
  • Running time: Approx 78 minutes


    Tracklist (DVD)
  1. Jingle Bells [2:55] Choir, Orchestra, and Bells
  2. Sing Noel! A Christmas Processional [4:38] Choir, Orchestra, and Bells
  3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing [5:13] Alfie Boe with Choir and Orchestra
  4. I Wonder as I Wander [5:14] Alfie Boe with Orchestra
  5. From Heaven on High (from Weihnachtslied), Felix Mendelssohn [4:48] Choir and Orchestra
  6. God Bless the Master of this House (from Folk Songs of the Four Seasons), arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams [4:22] Choir and Orchestra
  7. Christmas at Home: (There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays, I’ll be Home for Christmas, Somewhere in My Memory [7:10] Alfie Boe with Choir and Orchestra
  8. Bring Him Home [5:02] Alfie Boe with Orchestra
  9. A Christmas Waltz Fantasy: The Christmas Waltz; Silver Bells; Sleep Well, Little Children [7:45] Choir and Orchestra
  10. Sleigh Ride [3:24] Organist: Richard Elliott
  11. Christmas From Heaven [13:22] Featuring Tom Brokaw, Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, Choir, Orchestra, and Bells
  12. What Shall We Give? [4:40] Choir and Orchestra
  13. Luke 2 [2:24] Tom Brokaw with Orchestra
  14. Angels From the Realms of Glory [4:38] Alfie Boe with Choir and Orchestra

    Tracklist (CD)
  1. Jingle Bells [2:55] Choir, Orchestra, and Bells
  2. Sing Noel! A Christmas Processional [4:38] Choir, Orchestra, and Bells
  3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing [5:13] Alfie Boe with Choir and Orchestra
  4. I Wonder as I Wander [5:14] Alfie Boe with Orchestra
  5. From Heaven on High (from Weihnachtslied), Felix Mendelssohn [4:48] Choir and Orchestra
  6. God Bless the Master of this House (from Folk Songs of the Four Seasons), arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams [4:22] Choir and Orchestra
  7. Christmas at Home: (There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays, I’ll be Home for Christmas, Somewhere in My Memory [7:10] Alfie Boe with Choir and Orchestra
  8. Bring Him Home [5:02] Alfie Boe with Orchestra
  9. A Christmas Waltz Fantasy: The Christmas Waltz; Silver Bells; Sleep Well, Little Children [7:45] Choir and Orchestra
  10. Sleigh Ride [3:24] Organist: Richard Elliott
  11. What Shall We Give? [4:40] Choir and Orchestra
  12. Angels From the Realms of Glory [4:38] Alfie Boe with Choir and Orchestra

Enjoy the trailer here:


Home for the Holidays on DVD currently retails on DeseretBook.com for $22.48 and on CD for $16.99.

Now, while the entire concert is fantastic, the part with Tom Brokaw and Lt. Halvorson makes a GREAT family home evening activity!  You can read about some of my ideas HERE.

Disclaimer:  I received Home for the Holidays free of charge from Deseret Book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  A hearty thank you to DB for this opportunity!

Monday, December 9, 2013

St. Louis - PFAPA Update

We headed up to St. Louis again a couple of weeks ago for one of Maggie's appointments at SLU Hospital.  We always try to make a "day" of so the trip is a little more bearable.   This trip was fun because we even had Grandma to tag along with us as we spent several hours at the St. Louis Zoo! 





If you recall, Maggie has been diagnosed with PFAPA.  We have made several trip to St. Louis as they try to figure out exactly what is going on with her and what (if anything) they can actually do about it.  So far, it has been not much.  The worst part is the blood work.  Since Maggie is so small, blood draws have to be done over the course of several weeks, it is not much fun to be 3 and have your arm poked again and again!  But, Maggie is a trooper and last time she had blood work, she didn't even cry.  Big Girl!

They just keep telling us that she'll "outgrow it" eventually.  In the meantime we treat her with Prednisone if needed or ride the fevers out…  It all kind of depends on what our week is like!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas From Heaven {Deseret Book Review}

Christmas from Heaven is the story of the humble beginnings of what became a beacon of hope to a war-torn land, the story of Gail Halvorsen, a young pilot in the US Army Air Corps who was assigned as a cargo pilot to the Berlin Airlift, in which US forces flew much-needed supplies into a Soviet-blockaded Berlin. 
As he performed his duties, Lt. Halvorsen began to notice the German children gathered by the fences of Tempelhof Air Base. Knowing that they had very little, he one day offered them some chewing gum. From that small act, an idea sprang: He would "bomb" Berlin with candy. Fashioning small parachutes, he and his crew sent them floating down as they approached the Berlin airport, wiggling the wings of their C-54 as a signal to the children that their anticipated cargo would soon arrive. 
Lt. Halvorsen became known by hundreds, if not thousands, of children in Berlin as "Uncle Wiggly Wings" or "The Candy Bomber." Word soon spread, and donations of candy and other supplies poured in from sympathetic Americans. Lt. Halvorsen's small idea became a great symbol of hope not only to German children in a bombed-out city but to all those who yearned for freedom.


What can I say?  I was not a very good student of history…and even after serving in the Air Force for 10 years (yes! 10) I knew about "Operation Vittles" during the Berlin Airlift but had no recollection of "Operation Little Vittles."  I can't believe I missed something like this in all my history study!

Lt. Halvorson "Hal" became known the world over as Berlin's Candy Bomber.  The children he met behind the fence that day touched his heart and after watching them share a piece of gum, he knew it would really take so little to cheer them up.  After working with his cremates they made the decision to give away all of their own Christmas sweets to these sad children.  To do this they created small parachutes weighed with their own rations of candy and sent them down out of the plane to the children…  truly engineering a "Christmas From Heaven."




In this children's storybook, illustrator Robert T. Barrett has brought this story to life in full color.  Original black and white photos are included in the book as well.

You will also receive a DVD with the performance of this story told by journalist Tom Brokaw accompanied by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The back of the book also includes a template and instructions for making your own Candy Bomber parachutes!




This book is AH-MAZING for a family home evening or stretch it out and make it a whole homeschool unit study!  Check out some of these links below for a couple of ideas to get you started!

Chocolate on my Cranium's Candy Bomber FHE
Candy Bomber mini unit study from Heart of the Matter
Michael O. Tunnell's book The Candy Bomber

Christmas From Heaven currently retails in a hardcover from DeseretBook.com with accompanying DVD for $19.79.  Now is a great time to purchase this book!  It would make a great Christmas gift….


Oh!  Speaking of Christmas, check out these ornaments!


We received a set of these from DeseretBook.com to review as well.  They are such lovely ornaments!  They have a nice healthy weight to them but a very delicate pretty look.  They are 12 Biblical names of Christ.  We will be using these devotional-style in our own "12 Days of Christmas" countdown.  I can't wait to put them on our tree!  I'm so sorry to share they they are currently sold-out!  Hopefully more become available shortly!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and have a Merry Christmas!

Disclaimer:  I received these items free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Will Lead You Along, The Life of Henry B. Eyring {Deseret Book Review}

Henry Bennion Eyring was born on May 31, 1933, in Princeton, New Jersey, bearing the first name of his father, who was fast building a reputation as a brilliant scientist, and the family name of his mother, who didn't care for the name "Henry" and insisted that he be called Hal. 
In 1970, Hal received an impression to make a daily record of his activities. Years of journals form the backbone of this personal biography, a candid look at his walk through life with his beloved companion, Kathy. "The journal shows how a good-but-imperfect man works each day to win divine approval," write the authors, and this window into his past provides unforgettable insights about the man the Lord has shaped him to become.Readers will love these richly designed pages, filled with photographs, sketches from the pen of President Eyring himself, and scores of entries straight from his journals woven into an engaging depiction of his life's journey. 
President Henry B. Eyring's professional, academic, and personal experiences have all combined to make him uniquely qualified for his responsibilities as a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His life story vividly demonstrates the power of the Lord and the example set by one who strives to follow His commands.


I didn't know much about Henry B. Eyring, other than the obvious, that he is the First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Watching him speak at General Conference this year I realize that, since he isn't one of my "favorite" speakers, I have, sadly, not paid much attention to his talks.  I realized that I didn't know a thing about him.  So, since I was pretty clueless I was excited to read this book about his life and after spending days in its pages I feel like I've gotten to know President Eyring a lot better!

Here are some fun things that I learned about him:
He was already balding when he got married.
He is incredibly smart, I'm not joking when I say he is pretty much a rocket scientist.
He can draw/sketch and watercolor paint really, really well.  
He is the nephew of the late Spencer W. Kimball.
He went by the nickname "Hal" because his mother disliked the name Henry.
He served 2 years in the Air Force.
He was president of Ricks College (now BYU Idaho).
He has kept a journal his whole life!

The layout of this book is really interesting, not what I expected.  Each chapter focuses on a different part of President Eyrings life, punctuated with his own Journal entries and and his sketches throughout!   Since the 1970s he included these little sketches in his journal entries.  He said, "My sketches are not lovely, but the work is interesting to my family."  I think they are great!  At the end of the year he takes his journal, photocopies it, and gives it to his family members.  Isn't that a wonderful idea?  

There are also just tons of pictures in this book!

I have loved reading about Henry B. Eyring.
This book is not small, it is a heavy volume measuring 6 1/2" by 9" and has 560 pages!  It has taken me a while to get through it, but it is worth the time.

You can purchase a copy at DeseretBook.com for $29.69 in hardcover or as a Bookshelf eBook for $15.99.  Deseret also offers the eBook and Hardback as a combo for $34.68.

Don't forget the Bookshelf eBook app is completely free and available for both iPhone and Android devices.

Disclaimer:  Thank you to Deseret Book who provided me with a copy of I Will Lead You Along free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Little Pony, Party of One {Mosaic Review}


Finding apps that are appropriate for younger kids is tough.  A lot of the apps that are free flash enticing buttons that want you to buy something.  Not to mention the free apps are "lite" and there is not much there.  The down side of paying apps?  You have to pay for them…before you try them.  What if you don't like it?  You have to rely pretty heavily on reviews to try to figure out if that app is worth purchasing.  Well, here is one less app that you have to wonder about!  I got the privilege of reviewing a fun app from PlayDate Digital called My Little Pony, Party of One.

This app takes your child on an adventure with all her favorite pony friends!   Pinkie Pie throws the best parties, but when she is ready to throw a party for her friends she finds that they are all too busy!  What is going on?  Frustrated Pinkie Pie tries to figure out why they are all too busy for her.   Eventually, Pinkie Pie convinces herself she doesn't need to have a party with her friends when she can have a "party of one."  Luckily Pinkie Pie's friends, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Apple Jack, Rarity and Twilight Sparkle step in at the last minute and show her just how much they care!

This app is a fun interactive storybook that is designed for preschoolers.  It is easy to use and takes you through 17 screens.  When something is "highlighted" it can be animated and the child needs only to tap the highlighted character to bring each pony to life.  The voice of Pinkie Pie is the original voice-actress from the TV series.  New words are in purple and upon tapped will be repeated.

Here is a sneak peak at what this app is all about:



Some learning goals of this app include:  helping children understand feelings about friendship, tension and misunderstandings.  Learning new vocabulary words.  Seeing things from another perspective.  Developing empathy.  Effective communication and much more!

A behind-the-scenes parent portal lets you see how your child is progressing by showing what purple words they tapped and what screen they are on.  It also allows you to reset the story app so you can track another child, or track your child a 2nd time.  Links to other recommended apps, the Play Date Digital website, contact information and Facebook page are also found in the parent portal.

This app is perfect for my almost-4-year-old to navigate independently.  She really had a lot of fun going through the pages.  She would hit the same character over and over again and just giggle!


This app is a lot of fun and my both my girls really enjoyed it.  The only thing that would make this app better would be to define the highlighted words in purple when you tapped on them.  Right now it repeats the word for you, but it doesn't tell you what it means. It seemed like a good place then to define these unfamiliar words would be in the word "roundup," but it uses words like "box, hat, apple, etc."

My Little Pony, Party of One is available for both iPhone and iPad for the low price of $2.99!

Many of my Mosaic Teammates also reviewed this app!

To see their thoughts check out the linky on Mosaics.com


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

12 Gifts of Christ {Deseret Book Review}

Christmas is a time for celebrating the birth of Christ and a time for giving. In the middle of this busy season, it is easy to forget the very reason why we celebrate. The first Christmas began with gifts of light and gold. This Christmas, ask: What gifts can I give to Him? 
In 12 Gifts for Christ, author Merrilee Boyack suggests ways we can give to the Savior, including having gratitude, sharing through service, and loving others. With examples of these gifts shared through personal stories, scriptures, activities, and family home evening lessons, she suggests presenting those gifts to Christ in letters placed in stockings or brightly wrapped boxes. Following the ideas of this book will truly add joy to the spirit in our hearts and homes during Christmas!
I reallllly love Christmas.  I do!  But the downside of this time of year is that everything becomes self centered.  "I want this or that for Christmas!"  "What will I get for Christmas?"  I notice that it started frustrating me last year and this year is no different.  I have been looking for an Advent type book that I could use with the girls and I think this is going to fit the bill nicely!

12 Gifts of Christ is a wonderful little book that really offers opportunities to get into the spirit of the Christmas season.  Instead of worrying about gifts for our friends - the 12 gifts are gifts that we can give  our best friend, the Savior, this time of year.

The 12 Gifts are:  Personal knowledge, gratitude, remembrance, repentance, obedience, emulation, charity, forgiveness, faithfulness, love, healing balm, and joy.  Each chapter focuses on the different gifts with a couple of introductory pages.  The best part, is that each chapter has several activities to do with your family…   Recommendations for personal scripture study, Family Devotionals, Family Home Evening ideas (including song, story, games and activities), and a "Just for Christmas!" activity that correlates the topic with the Christmas season if you are studying in December.


This is a small book measuring 5" by 7" and 112 pages.  If you are interested in doing this project with your family you could easily spend (in my opinion) up to 12 weeks working through it!  It would make a great Christmas gift to celebrate the season all year long or as an intensive study of Christlike qualities all through holidays.  Merrilee Boyack has an easy to read and understand writing style that makes this book a perfect fit for families at any stage of life.

Want your own copy?
12 Gifts of Christ currently retails at DeseretBook.com for $11.99 in paperback.  Happy Shopping!

Disclaimer:  Thank you so much to Deseret Book for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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