Friday, October 29, 2010

Oh my Gyoza!

My mom and dad are both excellent cooks. That must be where I've gotten all my awesome cooking talent. One of the more amazing dishes they have made is Gyoza. Gyoza are Japanese Potstickers and they are wonderfully delicious. I had a really strong craving for them recently so I called my parents to beg for the recipe. My parents just moved from St. Louis to California and are in between houses, so most of their stuff is still in St. Louis. Apparently the beloved family cookbook with the Gyoza recipe did not make the cut of necessary items to bring with them. My dad did, however, give me some general tips on making them. He also sent me a link of one of the recipes he used and tweaked to get their recipe.
So, here is my first try at making Gyoza.
Soooooo Yummy!
I think it turned out very well. It's actually easier than I thought it was to make. The filling mixes up really quickly and frying them only takes a few minutes. The most time consuming part is putting the filling in the wrapper and sealing it, but it's not hard. You can fold the edges to make it look pretty, or just leave it as a semi-circle. It will taste the same either way.

I'll share the recipe with you. Now remember, this is not "THE" gyoza recipe, but a close, very tasty approximation. So, until the real recipe is retrieved and posted on my dad's blog, here is the reigning Gyoza recipe.

1/3 cup chopped cabbage, boiled (about 1 cup raw)
2 Tbsp chopped green onion
1/2 pound ground pork, raw
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
20-26 gyoza wrappers (depending on how much filling you have)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Dipping sauce: equal amounts of soy sauce and rice vinegar, with chili oil to taste

Combine all ingredients other than wrappers and vegetable oil in a bowl. Mix well with hands. Place a teaspoonful of filling in a gyoza wrapper and put water along the edge of the wrapper using a finger. (It helps to keep a small bowl or dish of water close by while assembling.) Make a semi circle, gathering the front side of the wrapper and sealing the top. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Put gyoza in the pan and fry on high heat for a few minutes until the bottoms become brown. Turn the gyoza and brown on the other side. (Some recipes say to just fry on one side. This is up to you. I like the crispiness of frying both sides.) Turn the heat down to low. Add 1/4 cup water in the pan. Be careful when adding the water as it will make the oil splatter. Cover the pan and steam the gyoza on low heat until the water is gone. Serve the gyoza with dipping sauce.

This recipe link has some great pictures to show the method of making the gyoza if you're interested, but the recipe itself doesn't sound quite right.
And here's the link to the recipe I used if you want to look at that in addition to my well written directions.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that you can make extra gyoza and freeze before cooking. Once you're already in the groove of forming the dumplings it's pretty easy to make extra to freeze for another meal.

And finally, here are pictures of the gyoza my dad made. His look crispier than mine. Notice how I served my gyoza with rice and green beans too. It sounded like a winning combination. Really, all the recipes and information on this blog are from my dad. I'm passing it off like it's mine, but my dad is the one who researched links, emailed them to me, and gave me all the tips on how to make them that I've now passed to you. So thank you, Dad. Thanks for all your help. The gyoza were delicious!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mystery Package

We got a package in the mail yesterday.
(I realized after I took the picture that I probably didn't want my address showing. Oops!)

It's always fun to get a package, and this one was even more fun because we don't know who it's from. There was no return address.
It was full of Halloween candy and goodies, like a Halloween pencil and those awesome Halloween rings with skulls, bats and spiders on them.

This awesome guy was in the package too. He's already hanging on our door.

Even the outside of the package was fun. It was decorated with lots of festive stickers and a fun Pacman-like maze that I am still trying to beat.
We've been trying to figure out who sent it. The postmark is from Salt Lake City, Utah. We're thinking that maybe it's from some Easton relatives there.

Whoever it's from, Thanks for the package! We loved it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Falling off the Couch

Dallin as been learning how to get down off the couch by himself. He has gotten down a few times all by himself by putting his feet over the edge and slowly lowering/falling down to the ground and landing on his feet.

Now he's discovered a new way to get down from the couch. Head first. It really scared me the first time he tried it and I caught him and helped him down slowly. But now he thinks it's fun and he keeps doing it. I've stopped trying to catch him on the way down, because I figured the only way he's going to learn not to do it is to get hurt, and then he won't want to do it again. But it doesn't hurt him! He just thinks it's funny.
I guess it's not so bad if he's not getting hurt, but I'm worried that one of these times he'll fall onto something hard/sharp and hurt himself, or fall on his head wrong and injure his head or neck. He even tried once to go over the arm of the couch (ie higher off the ground) head first. I let it happen. No crying. A little shock at first, but then he smiled and proceeded to play with whatever he was after.

I don't know what to do with this daredevil.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What a week!

Last week was not spent quite how I planned to. On Tuesday, Dallin had an appointment with the Nephrologist (kidney specialist) at the children's hospital in Indianapolis. That's a little over an hour from us, so it's not too far, but you have to plan for it. We saw the doctor, and he got his blood drawn, an ultrasound of his kidneys, and gave a urine sample. (Is it weird that I would rather he get blood drawn than a urine sample? At least with the blood I just hold him while someone else pokes him, but I do not like being the one who has to peel a very strongly adhered bag from his body.)

This was the first time meeting with this doctor and Dallin's first time seeing a Nephrologist since the one in Utah 2 months ago. It went pretty well. She was mainly concerned with his blood pressure being high and about his diet (just like everyone else.) I mentioned the low calcium formula that was being mailed to us and the plan to start him on that as soon as it got to us and she agreed that it would be good to start him on that. The doctor told me she would call in a few days to go over the lab results with me, and then we left.

It was about 5:30 pm and I had just gotten home from Indianapolis and picking Mckay up from school when I got a phone call from the Nephrologist. She said that Dallin's lab results had come back and that the calcium levels in his blood were extremely high. To give you an idea of how high, a normal calcium level would be from about 7 - 10.5. His calcium level was 15.2. She said that we needed to come back immediately to the emergency room. We talked to her for a few minutes and asked if it was really that necessary to take him to an ER an hour away. She felt it was. We called a few other people, including our nephrologist in Utah, and they said we should go to the ER.

We packed a few quick items, got in the car, and drove all the way back to the hospital. The doctor told us that she had notified the ER and that they would be expecting us. We got to the ER and checked in and they seemed to be in no hurry. We told them that the doctor had said they would be ready for us, but the ER nurses said they didn't have any beds and we'd have to wait. After waiting for an hour, they took us back. I've decided that if you need to go to the ER you should go in an ambulance. You get much faster service. Both times we've had ER/ambulance experiences (one for Mckay, one for Dallin), a room was ready for us as soon as we pulled up. I do not like being told that I need to rush my son to an ER, and then waiting around for an hour.

They got him a gown and a bed and still seemed in no hurry to do anything.
They asked us a ton of questions. They almost seemed more concerned about his other issues (low weight, not eating "normal" food, not walking, developmentally behind) than his calcium levels. I wanted to say, "Look guys, we know exactly why those other things are happening and they are being treated just fine already by the proper medical assistance. The only thing I need from you is an IV and drugs to lower his calcium!"

Dallin of course had no idea what was going on. He was just happy that he got to stay up past bedtime and play with his daddy.
Finally we had some nurses come put an IV in his arm. More nurses volunteered for the job than was actually needed. They just wanted to come play with Dallin.
At 1:30am we were finally admitted to the hospital and got checked into a room. We all tried to get some sleep, but it's hard to sleep when nurses keep coming in every 2 hours to take his vitals, give him medication, or draw his blood. And it was a shared room so we were woken up when they came in for the other patient too.

In the morning we talked to a bunch of doctors. This was a teaching hospital, so we had a lot of doctors "practicing" with us. And of course, Dallin is a medical rarity, so a bunch of doctors asked if they could come in just to listen to his heart or examine a patient with Williams Syndrome. I'm glad we could help them learn! Our team of doctors told us that the IV and medication he had was helping to flush the excess calcium out of his body. The blood test from that morning showed that his calcium had come down, but they wanted to get it much lower before releasing him. So we spent 4 days in the hospital waiting for his calcium to come down. Mckay talked to his teachers and worked out missing class so he could stay with us in the hospital.

Dallin was a good sport about the whole thing. He got really sick of being confined to a hospital bed, but he found ways to entertain himself.
Like eating the wires and IV attached to him.

He played with mommy and daddy.

He pulled the sensor off his finger.

He also did some not so fun things. He had to get his blood drawn 2 times a day. It was nice to see how his calcium levels were doing each day, but it was not fun to see him get poked so much. They always had a hard time finding a good vein. And once it was used, they couldn't use the vein again, so they were running out of places to stick him by the end of the week. One time they drew blood from a vein on his head.
He did not like that one very much. At least it was a really good vein and they were finished pretty quickly.

They also took his blood pressure a lot. He has always hated getting his blood pressure taken. Maybe it's the cuff squeezing him? I'm not sure, but he always cries. By the end of the week, he was so used to it, he wouldn't even make a sound when they took it. He would just smile and keep playing with his toys. His high blood pressure was related to the high calcium, so they wanted to get his blood pressure lower before releasing him as well. He is on a medication for it that has been keeping his blood pressure consistently low.

We didn't plan on being there that long and we did not bring enough extra clothes. The wonderful Ronald McDonald House organization saved our lives. They had showers, laundry facilities and a kitchen for families of patients to use anytime they wanted for free. They had snacks and meals every day made by volunteers, so we never starved. It is a great organization and I'm so grateful we were able to benefit from it. And we didn't have to wear dirty clothes the whole time!

Part of Dallin's medical plan for lowering his calcium was that we start him on the low calcium formula immediately and begin weaning from breast milk. I was already planning on doing this but not quite so abruptly. It's going ok though and he seems to be handling the change to bottles pretty well.
Saturday morning, the doctors said his calcium was low enough to release him. It was still a little high (12.2), but it would keep getting lower with continued medication at home and continued weaning to the formula. The medication that lowers his calcium also lowers his potassium, so he has to take medicine to keep his potassium up. We were released from the hospital with three prescriptions: calcium meds, potassium meds and blood pressure meds. He is supposed to have his blood drawn again on Wednesday to see how his calcium level is doing and a follow up with the doctor in 3 weeks.

Now we're home and Dallin is loving being able to crawl around and have his freedom back. He has to take medicine 3 times a day and the only way to get him to take it is to put it in his bottle. I'm trying to adjust to making and washing bottles all day AND getting the right medicine in the right bottle at the right time. It's a bit of a hassle.

It wasn't very much fun, but I'm glad we are getting his calcium situation taken care of. We had some really great doctors and a few great nurses in the hospital and that always makes things a little better. We were approved for Medicaid literally the day before all this happened, and I am so grateful for that! If it weren't for Medicaid, we would be in so much debt from all Dallin's medical bills.

This experience made me realize how lucky we were to be so close to family in Utah. When Dallin was hospitalized before at 3 weeks old, my siblings came to visit, brought us food and kept us company. No one could come visit us here since we're so far away from everybody and it got lonely. But we did appreciate the people that called to see how things were going.

So that was our fun experience! Now I'm off to do laundry and dishes and the things that were neglected for a week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

If "Spring has Sprung," then "Fall has... Fallen"?

It's definitely fall here now. Earlier in the month we had a few cold days mixed in with the warm, but now the weather has resigned to be cold for the duration of the year. All the leaves are falling and I've started pulling out our winter clothes. Dallin still fits in last years winter clothes. I'm so glad I'm getting a good use out of them. Today has been a cold, dreary day. We've been inside all day. Dallin has been crawling from room to room collecting things and putting them in other places. I found a cell phone amongst the board games. Currently, Dallin is shoving toys in with my piano music. In an effort to do something a little exciting, I made rice krispy treats. In honor of the season, I melted some chocolate and piped festive designs on the squares.
It's nothing fancy, but it was pretty fun.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Exploring Lafayette

This past Monday and Tuesday was Mckay's fall break from school. We had 4 potential days off to take a little trip or go somewhere fun. That didn't work out though. We had to be in our ward for church on Sunday because I was playing in a musical number. Mckay had a midterm on Wednesday, the day right after fall break that he had to study for and felt very unprepared for. And he couldn't have studied for it last week because he had midterms on Thursday and Friday. I'm trying to figure out why they scheduled fall break in the middle of midterm. That doesn't seem very smart. I thought that Purdue was supposed to be full of smart engineers. Anyway, we didn't really get to do much for the fall break, but Mckay said that he could spare Monday and take a break from studying so we could do something fun. We decided to stick close to home and see some sites in Lafayette. We are still relatively new here and there are a lot of pretty cool things we haven't seen yet.

We got an idea from a Lafayette/West Lafayette visitors guide. There is a lot of outdoor art downtown, and there was a little map showing some of the more interesting places.
It's not a really detailed accurate map, so it was kind of like a scavenger hunt to find the art.

These "people" are made entirely out of old farm equipment and objects.
We saw some cool art and some mediocre art. I think the best part was just walking around downtown and discovering the cool things there. We found a cute little antique store and looked around there for a bit. We went to the train/bus station and learned about the travel and trade along the Wabash River and the Wabash & Erie canal.

We stopped at a park for a bit.
Dallin really liked swinging while Mckay pushed him.
We went to this really cool store called JL Records. It's a HUGE music store that sells CDs, records, DVDs, and VHS tapes.
They seriously have any album you could think of, from current pop to oldies and everything in between, rock and even really obscure bands you've never heard of. We found Lady Gaga on a vinyl record. Who knew they even made that? And it's owned by this hippie guy with long hair and a beard. It was a really cool place.

To top off our little adventure, we got some pizza at a little Italian restaurant we've never been to. Then we walked back to where our car was parked, probably about a mile away. It was a really fun day. We walked a lot and got some good exercise, we saw some really cool places and got to know our city better. I think the best part was just spending a day relaxing and enjoying being together as a family. Mckay is always so busy with school and it was nice to have a break and spend time with him.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I went grocery shopping today and when I got home, I set the groceries down on the floor while I put them away. Dallin crawled over to the gallon of milk I had just purchased and started licking the condensation off of it.
Weird.... or cute?

You decide.


Dallin is now old enough to go to nursery at church. I've been a little nervous about this for a few reasons. Yes, he is old enough, but he's not your typical 18 month old. He can't walk or talk or eat or do any of the things you would expect a child to be able to do upon entering nursery. Our ward has a lot of kids in nursery, so I worried about how the nursery workers would handle all the extra attention that Dallin needs. And I wondered how the bigger kids would play around Dallin. With all this worrying I was doing, we were blessed (depending on how you look at it) with a calling in our ward. Mckay and I were both called to be nursery workers.

It might not be the most glamorous or sought after calling, but I was a little relieved when we were asked to be in the nursery. This way Dallin could be in nursery and have the good experience from that environment, but I would still be able to watch him and help him. The down side is that now we don't get to enjoy having a 2 hour break from him during church because we're in nursery with him!

Yesterday was the first Sunday in nursery for all 3 of us. Mckay and I were invited to come just to observe and see how things run before getting an assignment over a specific group. It made me laugh when all the adults would talk to Dallin or ask him a question, thinking he would understand what they were saying or answer them. When it was snack time, someone came over to Dallin, got down to his level and said, "Dallin it's snack time! Come on over and get your snack." I explained to her about his gag reflex and how he would not need any snacks during nursery.

They had little classes where the kids would go to color a picture, learn about the scriptures, or sing songs. When they would tell all the kids to line up, I picked Dallin up and stood in line with the other kids. When they colored their pictures, Dallin wanted to eat his paper. I tried to show him how to color with the crayon, but he did not want to hold onto the crayon. He just wanted to eat his paper.
The purple and blue crayon was me showing him how to color. The yellow was another kid coloring on his paper.

During the lesson, the teacher passed around a bean bag turtle and the kids were supposed to say an animal they liked. When Dallin got the turtle, he got really excited and put it in his mouth. Of course, he did not say what his favorite animal was, but I'm thinking it was a turtle at the moment. When I took it from him to pass it back to the teacher he got really mad and started screaming. I think some concepts are a little over his head.

A lot of the things they do in nursery are a little advanced for him. He doesn't understand the lessons being taught or the songs they sing. But lets face it, not many of the young kids his age understand either. The point of nursery is to get them used to the structure and routine of learning, and they will eventually catch on to what is being taught. Dallin really likes watching other kids and I think this will be a really good experience for him.

Friday, October 8, 2010


No, not that kind of vent.

This kind:

I know I've mentioned before that we don't really like our apartment complex. I'm trying not to dwell on it too much because I don't want you to get the wrong impression. The truth is that we have a decent sized, relatively well kept, cheap apartment in a safe neighborhood, and that's all that really matters. But we HATE the management here. We've had a few scuffles with them and I feel like I always leave the leasing office feeling really angry and muttering under my breath, "I hate this place, I hate this place..."

I won't talk about all the past problems we've had with them, because that's not what the post is about and it would take too long to write it all down. The point of the post is to tell you about the most recent problem we've had with them.

I forgot to pay rent for the month of October.

I don't know how this happened. Believe me, this is not a common thing. I never very rarely forget about paying rent or a bill. Somehow, the first five days of the month came and went, and I never once thought about rent being due. I blame it on doing the same thing every single day. I don't need to know the date to do what I do. That won't make Dallin sleep any longer or eat any more. It won't change how much laundry I do. So, I knew there was a $50 late fee for late rent, but I went to the office to see if there were any other options. I know of some places that will waive the late fee if you are willing to pay the rent for the following month as well that day.

The lady was unmerciful. She was understanding ("It happens. You're a parent. Sometimes you just forget."), but unforgiving. She informed me that not only would I have to pay the $50 fee, but it would have to be in a cashiers check or money order. They would no longer be able to accept a check for October's rent. WHY?!?!?!?!? Why is that their policy? It doesn't even make sense to me! So now that I've proven myself to be an untrustworthy person by not paying rent 2 days earlier, I'm now treated as if my money is no good. My check will obviously bounce because I'm clearly trying to con them and I don't have the money. And the funny thing is, I had my checkbook in hand and could have given her a check on the spot. But because of their stupid rule, I had to go out to get a money order and couldn't bring it to them until the next day.

The thing that really gets me every time we deal with the management is that they're not really doing anything wrong. Their policies aren't unethical. They have every right to make those policies. We signed a lease with them and are bound to follow the rules. And this situation was our fault. We forgot about the rent. My problem is how they handle things. They always treat us like we don't matter, and their only job is to suck all the money that they can out of the tenants. This company does not care about us. And they know if we don't like it, that's too bad. It's not their problem. They don't have to worry about pleasing one little family when there are tons of other people happy and willing to pay them.

It's not about the money. Yeah, paying $50 that we didn't have to pay sucked. But we get $30 off rent each month because Mckay is a student. Losing $50 is not going to make us starve this month. $50 won't be the difference between buying a house or staying in this cave. It's about the principle of it. We are nothing to them but an 11-month lease. Suddenly mean old Cathy doesn't seem like such a bad manager after all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

18 months

I have an 18 month old child now. Is that crazy, or what? It's hard to remember how old Dallin really is because he's basically a 6-9 month old, developmentally. But you can tell he has the brain of an 18 month old and the definitely the temper of an 18 month old. Here's a little update on how Dallin is doing.

*He still weighs right around 15 pounds. He's been floating comfortably at that weight for at least the past 6 months. Yet when I look at him, he looks like he's grown. His face definitely looks older.

*He is crawling all over the place. (See the video in the previous post.) He hardly does his little inch worm crawl anymore, it's all real crawling. I still can't get enough of it. I get so happy every time I see him crawl. I'm so amazed at my little boy.

*He pulls himself up to stand on things all the time. I especially love when he wakes up from a nap and I find him standing in his crib (also a new accomplishment). He gets this big smile when he sees me and starts bouncing on his legs.

*He's sleeping longer and better at night. I've been feeling so well rested recently.

*He's more content to play by himself now, requiring less constant attention from me. This is probably related to him being able to crawl now and get to all the fun stuff he wants. It's now a daily occurrence for him to crawl over to the diaper bag to grab my wallet.

*He can drink water from a cup in very small amounts. He will drink out of a bottle very willingly now. 3 months ago you couldn't get him near a bottle, but he loves it now and he can hold the bottle by himself.

There are still some things that we are struggling with too.

We're still working on eating solid foods. He likes to watch us eat and he starts to lick his lips or move his mouth when we chew. You can tell that he wants to eat food, but he still can't get over the strong gag reflex. He likes to hold food like crackers and lick them. But you have to watch carefully, because every once in a while, he'll get daring and take a bite out of the cracker, and then start gagging.

He throws up daily. Sometimes it's to get attention. If we aren't looking at him, he'll put his fingers down his throat or start a deep coughing. It's really gross, really annoying, and I'm really sick of everything in our apartment smelling all the time.

Through the many blood draws and tests that Dallin had this summer, we found out that he has calcium in his kidneys and high levels of calcium in his blood. That is a common occurrence in children with Williams Syndrome. So we got to add a Pediatric Nephrologist (Kidney Specialist) to the list of doctors he sees. Because of the Hypercalcemia, we have to limit his intake of calcium and vitamin D. That's not too hard at this point because he doesn't really eat anything but milk, but it does affect the kinds of milk he can have. Breast milk has less calcium than formula or cow's milk, but it still does have some. So it'a good thing that I've been nursing him this whole time. Who knows how bad the situation could be otherwise. I found out about a very low calcium, no vitamin D formula made specifically for infants with hypercalcemia. Even more exciting is that with a prescription from our doctor, we can get the formula (normally $120 for a case of 6 cans) for free through the local WIC clinic. Dallin is losing interest in sitting still long enough to nurse, and he will eat more from a bottle. I also wonder if his throwing up is related to the calcium in the milk he's now getting. I'm hoping that this formula will work out well for him and make things better. And hopefully he'll gain a little weight?

It's a struggle being in a new place and meeting new people who have no idea about Dallin's WS. I'm often asked, "How old is he?" And after telling them his age, people always say, "He's so tiny!" or "He's the size of my 5 month old!" Sometimes I get, "Was he a premie?" Because, of course, that is the only reason that a child would ever be smaller than normal. And he would have to have been born 12 months early (do the math, that isn't even possible) to explain what they are trying to suggest about him being the size of a 6 month old. It's hard being in a place surrounded by a lot of other young families with children the same age as Dallin who are huge, walking, talking, and eating large chunks of food in one bite. It's even harder when children much younger than Dallin are doing those same things.

Now one here in our new ward knows about his condition yet. It's not that I'm embarrassed or worried about mentioning it, it just never seems like the right time to bring it up. I want it to come up naturally in conversation. Like, "So your child seems like he might have some sort of genetic condition." Me: "Yes, in fact, he does. He has Williams Syndrome." Yeah, that just doesn't happen. I guess I should find a way to bring it up with people I know, because pretty soon we'll be at the end of our 5 years here, Dallin will be the same size he is now, and all the parents will be wondering why I don't feed my son.

As you can see, there are a lot of ups and downs with raising Dallin. Some days it feels like there are so many negative things and it's hard to deal with them. Other days are really great and Dallin does wonderful things. It's important for me to keep a good perspective, to realize how lucky and blessed we are. Yes there are rough times, as there are raising any child, but I get to be this amazing kid's mom. How cool is that?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Finally, proof that Dallin can really crawl. He's crawling more and more and will go further distances now. To get him to crawl for this video, I had to bribe him with my wallet. This child would crawl miles to be able to play with my wallet and credit cards.
I love it! It makes me so happy every time I see him crawl. Even if he crawls to get into something he's not supposed to, I can't get mad at him because I'm just so proud of him.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I did it!

I made it to 30 posts in 30 days! I'm actually surprised that I did it. I was sure I was going to run out of things to blog about. Good thing I have Dalllin here. He can always come up with something cute to do. I do have to confess, there were a few times when I would write the blog the next morning and then post the time as for the day before, but I didn't do it nearly as often as I thought I would need to. And it still came out to 30 posts, so it doesn't really matter, right?

I can't promise that I'll keep posting this regularly. I might take a few days break here and there. I do think that I will be posting more than I did before, now that I'm used to it.

I'll close the last post of September with the same way I started the month. Dallin! I mentioned before that he is making great progress towards crawling. He will even do a real, normal crawl on his hands and knees every once in a while. He was doing a real crawl a lot on the day of this video, so I tried to record it. Of course, he never performs when I want him to, so this video shows his inch worm crawl. At least this is proof that he can get from one point to another.
(Sorry for my laughing and talking in the background. I couldn't help myself.)