Cream of Mushroom Soup

By Stephanie

So if you are like me and TOTALLY carb loaded this weekend….and now feel like BLECH….make some super yummy cream of mushroom soup!  Great in recipes, by itself or try my variation.  You will totally thank me!! 


Cream of Mushroom Soup

Makes about 3 cups

2 cups mushrooms (any kind but I had button and baby bellas)

1/2 onion diced small

2 cups beef stock (pork, chicken or vege stock also work)

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp flour

salt and pepper

1/4 tsp rosemary

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup heavy cream (or sour cream)

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  Add in the mushrooms and onions.  Salt and pepper them.  Cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until onion is translucent and mushrooms are dark and about half original size.  Add in flour and rosemary for 1-2 minutes.  Slowly add in stock, stirring constantly.  Add in bay leaf and turn down to simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Add in cream and serve. 


Add in 2 Tbsp green chilies and 1 cup shredded chicken breast.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese.  Great on a cold day!! 


Jiggler Cupcakes with Pudding Frosting

By Stephanie

   YAY!  Avery got the last bag of chemo yesterday.  This round is officially OVER!  We now only have three more to go.  I am sure there will be more delays, but for now…we have made progress. 

    Halloween is next week, I am so not ready.  I haven’t even bought candy yet.  At least the kids costumes were done thanks to my sisters and mom. 

   And the air has been turned OFF!  Hopefully til next May…. but we will see.  So I have finally done some baking.  I had seen the icing recipe on pinterest, but when my friend brought these over, I had no idea they would be so SUPER yummy. 


Jiggler Cupcakes

White or yellow cupcake recipe.  Like this one.  Or a mix…whatever you want.

Bake according to directions.   When cooled slightly, but still warm, make up any flavor jello you desire, but use half the water called for.  The small box is plenty but whatever you have is fine. 

Poke holes in the cupcakes with a fork or knife.  Pour about 1-2 tsp of Jell-O over cupcakes.  It’s easier if you leave it in the pan.  Put in the fridge and let set for 1-2 hours.  When set make up a package of vanilla instant pudding using half the milk called for.  Add in a small (8oz) container whipped topping.  Frost.  Try not to eat all frosting before it gets on cupcakes.  Also they need to be refrigerated if not eating right away…you may not have to worry about this.  They will be eaten quickly. 


Use can use different flavors of jello and even different flavors of pudding.  Like strawberry and cheesecake.  Or Orange and chocolate.  Use your imagination!!


The rain falls…

By Stephanie

   I learned about depression while living in the Pacific Northwest.  Before that I had never really experienced it or understood it.  And since moving back to Vegas, all mine has evaporated with the sunshine. 

   Avery however has not been so lucky.  I noticed a few things like she almost refuses to go to school.  She has been 2 hours in the last three weeks!  And even piano, which she LOVES, she doesn’t want to practice or go to lessons (which are already paid for so it’s super frustrating for me).  It’s like she has given up and only wants to sit at home and watch TV.  So NOT like Avery. 

   And Nathan too.  I mean seriously?  He cries.  All the time.  I know he is 13.  I know he has to do more.  But really…tears?  All the time?  I wasn’t expecting that. 

   So I talked to Chris and to Avery’s doctor about her.  Her doctor suggested some great medicine, which we might have to do.  But I have been trying to think of ways to help them understand what we are all going through.  It goes get to be a lot.  But I have sunshine.  So I am ok. It’s just the rest of ‘em. 

   On Saturday I attended this wonderful women’s conference put on by our church.  They had a couple speakers, the Christensen’s, who have four out of four kids with much more major health problems that our family has faced.  They have a show on the Mormon Channel called, “Enduring it Well.”  Ok, even as I look this up I noticed the title of their episode is “"The Rain Decsended".  Perfect.  Now I know you have to see this.  Somehow I was able to remain composed during their presentation.  I think I knew if I really started crying, I would not have been able to stop. 

   I asked the husband, W.A. Christensen if he had any suggestions on helping a child through depression and the feelings of major medical things.  He is praying and thinking on it.  I will let you know what he says…

   In the meantime, also at that conference I got three wolf stories.  Which is kind of weird because Nathan and Chris love wolves.    

  So we are going to learn about these this week.  I will share with you first.


    There was an old Cherokee Indian.  One day he relayed to his grandson that he had two wolves inside him fighting.  One was despair and anger.  The other was hope and love.  The grandchild then asked which one will win, “The one you feed”, was his reply. 

red wolf     white wolf

We are going to talk about how we “feed each wolf” and make sure the white one wins.



    Ok this is fun.  Get a bag of “building material” for each family member.  Things like straws, sticks, cards, marshmallows, etc.  But one bag needs Lego's (or similar blocks) including the foundation piece.  Have each family member build a “house” while you tell the story “The Three Little Pigs”.  You may have to do more or less piggys depending on your family size.  The Lego house is the last.

Why didn’t the house fall down?  It was connected.  Then get out a paper and have each family member say how they are “connected” with Christ and with each other.  (put their name by their answer).  This will help them and you see how they feel and how they see themselves.  It also helps that this house had a foundation.  The foundation is Christ.  And we will talk about that. 


   When a wolf is hungry he follows a herd of sheep until he sees one, usually a baby, wonder off.  If we don’t want to be taken by the wolf we need to stay close to those that will help us and protect us.  How can we do that? 

   This should prove interesting.  I am hoping it helps us as a family deal with the load of burden we have.  And thank you again for all the love, support and prayers.  It truly means a lot and we get answers to those questions because we have so many of you praying for us. 



By Stephanie

    No, it’s not Avery we are celebrating about.  Actually she had a hard last few days.  She couldn't get chemo….again.  Her platelets are borderline…again.  So he wants to see her back on Friday to see if they come up on their own.  If not it looks like another fun Saturday in the peds ward getting platelets.  I asked Chris if he would take her, but his seven hour visit a few weeks ago turned him off.  At least he went once!!    And the Dr. wants her to see the GI specialist again.  He probably wants to scope her stomach and see why she has to be on Zofran every day.  She shouldn’t be nauseas every day still.  And her weight isn’t going down, but it isn’t coming back up either.  That is concerning.  The kid hasn’t grown in some time.  At least I don’t need to buy her new shoes or pants, the ones from last year still fit!  Not what we really want, but one less thing to buy.  Nathan on the other hand keeps growing at a rate I can hardly keep up with.  And he wears men sizes.  Not cheap!! 

   The weather here has finally dipped out of the 90’s.  It actually feels kind of nice.  I can open up the windows in the morning, but by night, I usually flip the air for a few hours.  It looks like by next week I can turn it off completely.  Looking forward to a much lower power bill.  And I have done some cooking.  I have some recipes I will FINALLY post in the next few days.  I love fall baking and cooking.  I am already craving pie and turkey.

    And today is our ANNIVERSARY.  It’s a biggie….FIFTEEN years.  I am fatter and Chris has less hair.  We didn’t have any idea the adventure we were about to take.  Four kids, nine moves to four states, many jobs, housing market crash,  medical issues, and throw in a bit of family drama.  But it’s all good.  I tried on my wedding dress just to see if it still fits.  It does if I suck in hard enough and don’t move…..oh well. 

Here are some highlights of the big day….

Chris looks like he is trying to be serious.  Really the sun was SUPER bright that day and he was trying to keep his eyes open enough for the pic.

wedding pics0001

Here is me and all the sisters and my one sister-in-law.  WOW, we all look so young. 

wedding pics0002

Here is us and our parents. 

wedding pics0004

And I just love this one.  This is of my cute grandpa.  Carlos Gardner (my mom’s dad).  It was the last time he attended the temple and he passed about just about a year later.  We actually spent our first anniversary going to his funeral. 

wedding pics0003


Weekend fun

   By Stephanie

    So how was your weekend?  Mine was FABULOUS.  Avery had a dr. apt on Friday.  Her counts were low on Wed. so no chemo.  They were borderline, so he wanted to see her back on Friday.  We went back and her ANC (white blood counts) were up, that was good, but her Red blood cells were down.  Not to a scary level, but enough he felt that she need ANOTHER transfusion.  I think we do this about every other week now….

   BUT…..I had my hair apt already scheduled.  AND….Chris had the day off.  So lucky dad got to take her to the hospital.  They ended up giving her two bags of blood so they were there a mire seven hours!!  Payton (the 7 yr old) had been asking the next time we went to the hospital could she please go?  I felt this was the PERFECT opportunity for her to come and see what happens….a lot of nothing.  That kind of backfired since they spent most of the day in the playroom doing crafts.  Now Payton thinks it would be a good idea to go again….Oh no. 

   At least my hair is DONE.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!  And yes I realize I need to take better pics, but here you go (if you haven’t seen it already).  I also got to enjoy the great feast that is also know as General Conference.  If you are not LDS, it’s where we listen to the leaders speak on Saturday and Sunday twice a year.  It’s such a great time to re-evaluate my life and priorities.  Some awesome talks were given. 

new hair cut  

On another note….

   Could you all stop pinning such delicious looking carbs on Pinterest?  I am DYING to do some fall baking.   All breads and desserts, of course.  I am going to be three sizes larger by Christmas if you all don’t stop with the yummy pins.  Just kidding…pin away.  But honestly, you are killing me.  Why do carbs taste so good and yet are so bad for me??  Pinterest, my love/hate relationship. 

This week we have Optho on Tues. and then that night Avery’s teacher is coming for tutoring, Oncology on Wed (maybe chemo), our great friends the Hansen’s are coming Wednesday to Satruday, Thursday Chris is going golfing and I am hoping to squeeze in some shopping with Dawn, Nathan has a campout on Friday, Avery has Activity Days on Satruday, we have a progressive dinner for church on Saturday night.  Seriously?  I feel like I am forgetting something….I may or may not remember it.  Anyway, if I don’t post til next week, know why.  

   OH, and I have the most fabulous dress idea!  I get obsessive that way.  I may make Dawn help me try to figure it out.  Or not.  We will see….

Working, always working

By Stephanie
   I thought my home was coming along pretty well.  Until I stepped in that bowling alley of a room the two little girls shared.  It was a DISASTER.  To say the least.  So I stopped going in there….for the most part. 
  But while my uber talented sister and interior designer was here, I totally picked her brain for ideas.  And no, it isn’t done yet.  And yes I took this before they got home from school.  So we will see what it looks like tomorrow.  BUT, everything has a place.  And they have room to play and read.  And it doesn’t seem so long now.  Great suggestions Amy! 
This dress up area is a curtain rod I had and Ikea corbels.  Then add a mirror and basket, again, things I already had!  I do want a sign or some art work in this area… but that will come later.
You can see the darling Ikea light that Amy brought down.  I love Ikea (sigh)
I know there is still a ton of white wall space…I’m working on it.
Now you can see the cute bright fun quilts.  As long as they make their beds each morning…



Just so you all know, I am super blessed.  I know everyone has heavy things they are dealing with right now. I just happen to have doctor visits and medical stuff in my load.  But we also get great opportunities too.  Like when my super great mom and sisters pay for me to have my hair cut.  YEP.  And Avery needed red blood cells so her dad had to take her (giggle).
   I have been OBSESSING over this pic for months....MONTHS I tell you.   So my great family finally helped me to make it happen.  And Avery and her dad got to hang out for HOURS.  YAY.
   And thank you to Dynay for making Avery a hat.
   Thank you to all who have contributed time, money and prayers on our behalf.  All is greatly appreciated.

Have a great weekend!



Sorry it has been a few day since I posted. And it's going to be a few more til you get a decent post. My wifi is kapoot.  In the mean time, Avery has been home all week. Her ANC, aka white blood count, is really low. So she can't go to school or get her next chemo. We go back on Friday. If her red cells, which were also low, are still low, they may transfuse. It's been a super rough week for her. And I haven't been able to get out much.  So we are both a bit on edge.  
Hopefully wifi will be back next week and Avery will be at school. I need to get some things done!


No Success

By Stephanie

    I am trying to remember as we go through out this journey with Avery, that she does have other siblings that need attention. 

   We had the honor of being one of the cancer kids invited to an event for the Padres Contra El Cancer.  Obviously a Hispanic foundation.  Most of the guests and celebs where Hispanic, but not all.  Avery and Nathan got to walk the red carpet with George Lopez, Eva Longoria, Kerri Walsh, Halston Sage (she’s on Nickelodeon), and Avery’s favorite, Cassie Scerbo (who is on the ABC family Make it or Break it).   Avery and Cassie share the same birthday.   It was an exciting night.   The entertainment was amazing.  I loved the food.  Avery did not (surprise) .  They raised lots of money for a great foundation. 

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I know the pics are super crappy.  I am getting better ones. 

   But all that being said, it was a great contrast to go to church the next day.  And see all the families dressed in regular clothes.  No flashing camera.  No heavy makeup.  Just families there to worship together. 

  The phrase “No success can compensate for failure in the home,” keeps ringing in my head.  I need to focus more on our family and not worry about the other things.  That alone is monumental.  But I need to keep plugging away.  I know I fall short on so many levels (almost all levels).  But I need to keep trying and improving.  Isn’t that what we are here on this earth to do?  To learn and grow.  Make mistakes, learn again, grow some more.