I Went To The Emergency Room And All I Got Was This Stupid Kidney Stone

grandma josephine

I Went To The Emergency Room And All I Got Was This Stupid Kidney Stone.

I would just like to point out that I know pain. When I gave birth to my twins I went through a 4 chamber heart probe AND back labor at the same time while the cardiologist readied the crash cart and told my OB/GYN “Watch out, this one’s a bleeder, I can just tell.” I handled it all with a level of calm and dignity that I like to think made my pioneer ancestors proud–like my Great-Great Grandmother Josephine, who had as I’ve said crossed the nation in a covered wagon and remember, she bore 12 children. So I ignored the dull throbbing of my right kidney all last week until it started blooming ominously into a searing, radiating pattern in my back that felt like the wanding of a red-hot curling iron on Friday night.

Friday night. Of course, it was Friday night. Not Tuesday afternoon when I could have seen my regular doctor. But Friday night: guaranteed $500.00 deductible, fighting with the gang-bangers for chair space at the Emergency Room Night. I was still with it enough to make sure I was wearing clean underwear and brushed my teeth.  Todd stared at me in the bathroom mirror.

“What are you doing? You have to go to the ER!”

I bent double with the next red-hot pulse of agony then straightened up enough to spit into the sink. “I’m putting on matching undies and brushing my teeth. You think I’m going in there with my–owwwwwww! Crap! That hurts! With my ‘laundry day’ undies on? You think I’m a savage?”

My spouse sighed and took me by the arm, dragging me to the car. “So, did you get a babysitter?”

“What?” I managed through gritted teeth.

“Did you get a babysitter?” Todd repeatedly slowly, like I was his deaf Aunt Sophie. “So I can drive you?”

I thought about kicking him but wasn’t sure I could get out of my crab-like crouch enough to do it. “No. I didn’t. Because you’d tell them to unplug me the second I closed my eyes to sneeze. Why do you think I never pay our life insurance premium ’till the last minute? I never want you to be sure,” I hissed.

“Fine.” He threw the door open with a dramatic flourish. “I’ll just stay and care for our children! Drive yourself!”


(screen cap: History Channel)

Now, granted, it’s literally only like 3 blocks to the University Medical Center and it’s not that big of a deal. But I knew he’d been watching “Ice Road Truckers” and he was pretty sure someone was going through the ice carrying that load of steel girders.  I’m not saying The Todd’s didn’t want me to interrupt his Ice Truck fantasies, but…


I staggered into the ER and knew right away that I should have had the foresight to bring my own bed and a mini-fridge. There was going to be a wait. To the left, three Rappa/gangsta’ wannabes were sitting with their surprisingly cheerful buddy who was wedging his jacket against a knife wound. To my right, a stoic older gent who had a bloody towel wrapped around his wrist and was gently cradling what looked suspiciously like a severed limb. I knew that morally, Knife Fight Dude and Severed Limb Old-Timer deserved to go first. But as I bent double from what felt like the poke of a sizzling cattle prod, I knew I would be willing to take on the goth guy in the corner, shaved head in his hands and rocking back and forth. Just as I was trying to remember how to spell my last name for the admission papers whilst curled in half from my latest kidney punch from the Spiked Glove Of Death, Goth Guy groaned loudly and toppled to the floor. What happened next looked like the time I knocked my little sister’s ant farm off her dresser. Green scrubs raced from every door while the security guard stood over the prone Goth Guy with arms out, barking “Give ‘im room!  Don’t approach!” like he was JayZ coming off the stage at Madison Square Garden. I was coming out of a spasm in time to raise my head as he passed me on the stretcher, a tiny, satisfied smile curving his lips that only I could see.

I was simply beside myself with betrayal and rage. That weasel! And what am I going to say? “Hey, he cheated!” Pointing an accusing finger like he’d tried to sneak a peek at my math test? I lost any semblance of dignity after another hour of scorching kicks in the small of my back from the razor wire sneakers of the Demon of Deep Despair and started grabbing at feet passing by me covered in paper booties. “I’m dying here!” I shrieked. Somewhere in the Heavens, my Great-Great Grandmother Josephine was shaking her head with unutterable contempt.


The next thing I remember was my little cubicle, where a scrub suited vampire started briskly poking at my arm like I was a frog in her seventh-grade biology final. “Your veins,” she said disapprovingly, “they are very flat. I’ve worked on cadavers with better blood pressure than this.” I was actually beginning to hope she was right and I’d been granted the Sweet Release Of Death. Unfortunately, in the next minute, she’d managed to find a stable vein, along with leaving me enough puncture marks for a credible gang tattoo.


Hey, did you know there is a thing called Toradol? And when it enters your veins, unicorns and fluffy bunnies come to carry you gently away to Cotton Candy Mountain. I was holding hands with my EMT and we were singing “Same Love” when the doctor came in to tell me I had kidney stones. “Ohhhhkkkaaaay…” I sang.  My EMT buddy and I moved on to “Wrecking Ball” as Toradol continued its blissful excursion.

My cellphone rang and it was my mother. “Todd called, he’s very worried about you. He says you’re in the ER.”

“Yes,” I sang off-key, “I have kiiiddnneeey stoooones.”

“Are you wearing decent underwear? This better not be laundry day!” Mary Helen said sternly. “I’ll bet you look like some homeless woman!”

I spent the rest of the night eagerly listening to all the truly horrifying stories the ER guys could think of. When The Todd arrived to pick me up, I was deep in a discussion with one of the doctors about what happens when intestines liquify from necrosis. My beloved spouse carefully placed one large hand over my mouth and thanked the staff politely for all their help. He was green around the gills as he strapped me into the front seat.

“Did I actually hear you use the phrase ‘degloved limb’?”

“Yes! Do you want to hear? There was this one guy who came in and–” Todd immediately handed me two Lortab and a water bottle.

“Night night, honey.”


Tom Felton Plays His Guitar- Talks Life After Harry Potter

Tom Felton Plays His Guitar- Talks Life After Harry Potter. Basing your career on playing the vilest, most unpleasant child in the Harry Potter universe has to make you wonder what happens next? Fortunately, Tom Felton is as sweet as his character Draco Malfoy was terrible. Catching up with him at SLC’s FanX 2019 finds Tom playing his guitar- a lot- and his scary new series called “Origin.”

(Cover screen cap: Warner Bros)


BTW: did you miss Zachary Levi’s lovely appearance at FanX? He was THE fan favorite this year, but insisting on being sweet, charming, humble, and really, really, really good-looking. Find the interview here.

Zachary Levi Talks “Shazam” & Being Ridiculously Attractive

Zachary Levi Talks “Shazam” & Being Ridiculously Attractive. Did you know #ZacharyLevi actually tried out for the villain in “Shazam?” He stopped by SLC’s FanX ’19 to be… well… adorable. There’s some some actors so sweet and sincere that it’s almost too much. Zachary Levi starred in “Chuck” on TV, played Fandral in the Thor movies and finally hopped up to where he belonged as the star of “Shazam.”


BTW: Speaking of the “Thor” movies, have you seen our wonderful interview with Tom Hiddleston, the oh, so tasty Loki? Find it here.


(Screen grab via Warner Bros.)

Zachary is one of the most relentlessly positive and upbeat celebrities we’ve ever interviewed, truly and sincerely kind and sweet. His mama raised him right. Have a look…

Cauliflower Tortillas – Deliciously Evil Genius!

Cauliflower Tortillas – Deliciously Evil Genius!

Is there anything cauliflower can’t do?

This humble vegetable has recreated mashed potatoes in my diet, become the roasted veggie my children will actually consume and now becomes the tortilla of my gluten-free dreams. BTW: looking for a lovely, tasty roasted cauliflower recipe your offspring will consume? Have a look at our recipe here.


Cauliflower Tortillas – Deliciously Evil Genius!

(image credit: Protoplasmakid)
  • ¾ a head of cauliflower riced or 2 cups riced and packed
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. For these I actually rice my cauliflower slightly more fine that cauliflower rice. Toss ¾ a head of cauliflower cut up and most of the stem removed and pulse until you get a texture slightly finer than rice. (Once it’s riced measure it to make sure you have 2 cups packed.)
  3. Place riced cauliflower in bowl and microwave for 2 minutes and stir, then another two minutes and stir again then place in a dish towel and squeeze excess water out as hard as you can. (You’re going to want to get out as much water as you can and be careful not to burn yourself because it’s going to be very hot.)
  4. Place drained cauliflower back in bowl and add two eggs, salt and pepper and mix until well combined.
  5. As a note it will be a little bit runny but shouldn’t be pure liquid either. Spread mixture onto a baking sheet into 6 small fairly flat circles.
  6. Place in the oven for 10 minutes then pull out of the oven and carefully peel them off the parchment and flip them and place back in the oven for 5-7 more minutes.
  7. Once they’re done place them on a wire rack to cool slightly.
  8. Heat a medium sized pan over medium heat and place the tortillas into the pan pressing down slightly and brown them to your liking. (Don’t skip this step because it gives them slightly crispy on the edges and gives them a wonderfully nutty taste)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-7
BTW: this can also create a lovely base for cauliflower pizza, though it’s a bit more brittle than it’s flour counterpart.

Baked Broccoli Cheddar Rice Cups

Baked Broccoli Cheddar Rice Cups. In my never-ending quest to force vegetables down the throats of my offspring, I’ve learned to lure them in with something they love: like cheese.

MacLean, in particular, considered all foods to merely be cheese-delivery systems.  So, this new recipe is right up my alley!  These also pack very well for lunches, and best of all: they’re gluten-free.


(image credit: Deb Nystrom)

Baked Broccoli Cheddar Rice Cups

1 cup quick-cooking brown rice, like Minute Rice (can substitute about 2 cups regular, cooked rice and omit the 1 cup stock below)

1 cup chicken stock

1 10-oz. box frozen, chopped broccoli, thawed

Sneaky inside tip: I actually use fresh because the texture is better.  If you use frozen broccoli or spinach, after thawing just throw the veggie square into a cheesecloth and wring it out.  It gets out all the extra water from freezing without damaging the veggies.

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1/4 cup Homemade Ranch Dressing, or store-bought

Sneaky inside tip: I substitute Greek yogurt.  Less fat and calories and tastes a little tangier.

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prepare rice as directed on package, substituting stock for the water.  Place cooked rice in a large bowl and let cool slightly.  Add the remaining ingredients, using only 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, and stir until combined. Transfer mixture to eight well-greased muffin cups–I like to use an ice cream scoop–and top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.  Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops are lightly browned and edges are starting to get crispy.

(cover image: Deb Nystrom)

BTW: If you’re looking for a supremely tasty way to slip veggies on to the plate that your offspring might actually, eat, have a look at our gorgeous roasted cauliflower, you can find it here.

 Every single Easter Egg Hunt along the Wasatch Front

Every single Easter Egg Hunt along the Wasatch Front. Look at my fingers! Look at them! I’ve typed my hands into pitiful little stumps putting this heifer together, but you will find an Easter Egg hunt delightfully close to you — no matter where you live along the Wasatch Front.



Handy-Dandy Egg Hunting Tips:

Be right on time, these hunts are usually over very quickly.


Parents, try to stay off the field, it’s a big deal with organizers.

The weather this weekend is up to the 70s and partly cloudy, but early egg hunters might need a sweater.


 Every single Easter Egg Hunt along the Wasatch Front

Friday, April 19

3:30, 5 and 6:30 p.m. Heber Valley Railroad Easter Bunny Train: petting zoo, train ride, and Easter Egg on the historic railroad. $15

7-9 p.m. Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center: teen flashlight hunt, ice skating, games, 12-18. Free

9 p.m. West Valley City Teen and Adult Easter Egg Flashlight Hunt: separate age groups at Centennial Park West. Free for teens, $7 for adults.

9 p.m. Lehi Olympic Park: teen flashlight Easter Egg hunt. Free, bring a flashlight


Saturday, April 20

8:30 a.m.: Bunny Hop at the Discovery Gateway Museum: Salt Lake City, $10 members, $19.50 non-members. Pre-registration suggested.

8:35-11 a.m. Easter Egg Dive: Dimple Dell Fitness Center, Sandy. Kids dive for their eggs, the hunt is by age group, from oldest to youngest, and an adaptive dive for kids with special needs at 11 a.m. $6

9 a.m. Salt Lake City Easter Egg Hunt: Sorenson Multicultural Center. Free

9 a.m. Tracy Aviary Earth Day Eggstravaganza: Liberty Park, SLC. Free

9 a.m. South Salt Lake Easter Egg Hunt: Central Park Community Center.

9 a.m. West Valley Easter Egg Hunt: Redwood Recreation Center.

9 a.m. Northwest Rec Center: NWRC Soccer Field. $5 per participant

9 a.m. Cottonwood Heights Easter Egg Hunt: Butler Park. Free

9 a.m. Copperview Easter Egg Hunt: Copperview Recreation Center, Midvale. Free

9 a.m. Redwood Easter Egg Hunt: Redwood Recreation Center. Free to 12/younger

9 a.m. Kearns Easter Egg Hunt: for ages 2-10 this year at Oquirrh Park Soccer Field. Free

9 a.m. Thanksgiving Point Easter Egg Eggstreme: giant egg hunt, breakfast, face painting and such. Adults: $6 and kids $10

9:30 a.m. Centerville Easter EggHunt: Founder’s Park, Centerville. Free to 10/younger

10 a.m. Bountiful Easter Egg Dive: South Davis Recreation Center. Free

10 a.m. Clearfield Easter Egg Hunt: Fisher Park. Free

10 a.m. Draper Easter Egg Hunt: Galena Park. Free

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Downtown Logan Easter Egg Walk: a free stroll through downtown Logan shops, pick up some eggs, look around.

10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Easter Egg Hunt at Hee Haw Farms: Pleasant Grove. $10, but includes activities all over the farm.

11 a.m: Elk Ridge Easter Egg Hunt: North Logan. Free

11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Easter Eggstravaganza at Young Living Farms: Mona, hunts every half hour. $

11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.: Heber Valley Railroad Easter Bunny Train: petting zoo, train ride, and Easter Egg on the historic railroad. $15

11 a.m. Orem High School Community Easter Egg Hunt: the west lawn of the Orem Fitness Center.

12:30 p.m. Warm Springs Spring Fling: 840 N 300 W SLC. Free



Sunday, April 21

9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Gardener Village Easter Brunch: Adults $28.50, kids $12.50

9 a.m. Riverton Lifestone Church: 9:00am, 10:15am, 11:30am,  Fun activities and gifts for kids, Easter bunny photos, light breakfast.

11 a.m.: Alta Ski Resort Easter Egg Hunt: Albion Grill, open to 12 and younger. Free

Erin’s “Tunnel Of Love” Easter Cake

Erin’s “Tunnel Of Love” Easter Cake. Yeah, you can stop laughing right now! I can TOO bake! Sometimes… a couple of things… the kitchen doesn’t always look like a goat exploded all over it. Angel Food Cake with a luscious chocolate filling and whipped cream to frost it all. Make my cake. Eat it. WORSHIP ME.

(BTW: if you’re still looking for an epic main dish for Easter dinner, try the Todd’s sublime roasted Leg of Lamb- you can find it here.)


Erin’s Tunnel of Love Easter Cake


  1. Pre-made angel food cake. (I’m not going to lie. I bought this. Angel food cakes are a lot of work, and I think adding the tasty filling more or less makes this home-made.
  2. 1 bag of mini marshmallows
  3. 1 cup good quality chocolate chips – you can use either milk chocolate or dark chocolate- the dark will give it a nice “edge” with the sweetness.
  4. 2 cups whipping cream
  5. 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. 1 1/2 cup whipping cream
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 tsp. vanilla
  4. coconut and malted egg candy for garnish if desired


(The Todd’s cool overhead shot of filling the cake)


  1. Gently remove the interior of the angel food cake in small chunks – you want to leave the exterior “shell” of the cake intact to hold the filling.
  2. Melt mini marshmallows and chocolate chips in a saucepan- you might need a little water- 1 tablespoon or so- to help mix it together. Set aside and let cool. You want the mixture to be cool but still liquid and easy to pour.
  3. Whip the cream and vanilla into soft peaks.
  4. Fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream.
  5. Gently, GENTLY fold in chocolate mousse mixture with cake chunks taken from the cake shell.
  6. Place the cake/mousse combo back into the cake shell. Chill until firm.
  7. Whip the cream meant for the frosting into soft peaks,  gradually add in sugar and vanilla.
  8. When the cake is ready to serve, frost with the whipped cream mixture and garnish with eggs and coconut if desired.

I love this cake because even if you make mistakes, it’s easy to cover them with the whipped cream frosting, which is very forgiving. It looks really pretty when you cut into it and show all the lovely, lovely chocolate. If you try this recipe, send pictures!!

Also… if you need to keep the offspring busy with some cute crafts and more importantly, out of your hair, you can find a wealth of ideas on our crafts page on Facebook called “Glitter and Glue Guns,” find it here.

Teach Your Kids Survival Skills – 5 Fun “Let’s Pretend” Games

Teach Your Kids Survival Skills – 5 Fun “Let’s Pretend” Games. My Zoe- who’s 8- and my teenager Zachie love to go camping. They love the mountains, the beach, they’re both strong swimmers, so I kind of slacked off on survival skills. What happens if they get lost? What if we end up displaced because of a real-life disaster?

I wanted to find ways to teach new skills without being scary. My Zachie has autism, so heightening his anxiety isn’t going to help him learn, and at 8, Zoe finds almost anything can be scary if presented poorly. So how to teach them?


Teach Your Kids Survival Skills – 5 Fun “Let’s Pretend” Games

1- Playing “Doctor”

Zoe used to love trapping her twin brothers on the couch and more or less taping them to the cushions with surgical tape and winding gauze haphazardly all over their face and arms. But it’s a good start for teaching first aid skills. We tried a session of going through the Todd’s “medium-intense” first aid kit. (The Todd is a born prepper- he has multiple kits stashed all over the house, our cars, our trailer, the boat… One is a massive kit that paramedics use– I could probably do open heart surgery at midnight with the contents and car headlights to see with.) We practiced how to splint an arm, how to tell if a bone is broken, how to check for fever and what happens if you swallow something big and you’re choking. (Note to self: try the Heimlich again with Zoe. She’s very enthusiastic and alarmingly strong.) We danced to the BeeGee’s “Staying Alive” which is the new anthem for CPR and sets the rhythm for chest compressions.

Next Step: taking a first aid class together- find some options and locations here.


2. Backyard Campout

If you’re not ready for a big mountain/desert/beach campout, start at home. But this time, use a “bug-out” bag, or the closest thing you have. (Find out more about an easy 72-hour emergency bag here.) This is a good chance to go through the bag, find medications that might be needed, cook some of the food you have there, teach about filtering water and change into clothes already stashed and ready to wear. Have the kids help you put up the tent and “find” firewood. We’ve done a short hike with everyone wearing their bug-out backpacks to make sure they can carry everything comfortably.

Next Step: trying the same scenario in the wilderness.



This is our kid’s favorite phrase because it means Mom and Dad managed to finish filming and editing and it’s family time, baby! We keep our trailer stocked so that, with gathering just a few things, we can be on the road. But we’ve altered it into a game where we time our kids. In most natural disasters, you have around 15 minutes to grab what you can and leave home. The terrifying spread of wildfires across California last summer is a classic example. So now we focus on what we can pull together immediately, which made some changes in our life. I keep all our important documents- titles, birth certificates, legal paperwork and passports in one fire-proof pouch. I’ve started saving important papers and family photos in iCloud so they’re always there if we need them. And this has taught our kiddos to decide what’s really important to them since there’s so little they can grab in 15 minutes- though Zoe’s managed to shove a good 28 stuffies in the car before the time was up.

Next Step: here’s what FEMA suggests you need in terms of documents.


4. Scavenger Hunt

Learning edible items in the wild, understanding direction and how to create shelters are all crucial lifesaving skills if you were to get lost. We created a “scavenger hunt” style game that rewards our kiddos for finding important items based on their list. Our last list included:

  1. Edible grasses or berries
  2. Moss from the north side of a tree
  3. Kindling
  4. Rocks to heat for warmth a night stay
  5. A spot perfect for building a shelter
  6. Filtering water to make it drinkable

Next Step: there’s a great set of cards – The Purple Cow –  that brings out your young outdoors expert and scientist that our kiddos have totally loved, find it on Amazon.com here.

BTW: if you’re interested in teaching your kiddos how to grow a garden from kitchen scraps, have a look at our complete guide here.


5. Lights Out!

I’m embarrassed to admit this one came from our last power outage here and the only lights I could find was the glow from our iPads. The Todd came home and laughed at me for a good 30 minutes. Hmph! Mr. Overprepared, next time show me where you’re stashing the flashlights! Which makes a good point: do our kiddos know where to access lighting and other emergency gear if the lights are out and we are somehow separated? So we turned off the power this weekend for 24 hours and worked through where to find important items, what to eat, where to find our water storage, etc. All done under the guise of an adventure, but you know, it truly turned into a fun challenge for all of us.

Next Step: a chart with all the important information, phone numbers, and a location for all the needed supplies in the house.


I think sometimes that I underestimate my kid’s resiliency and ability to keep calm. But I know that by practicing “Let’s Pretend” scenarios, we’ve all gotten more confident about their ability to handle an emergency. We have a list of some of our favorite disaster prep gear and information on Amazon here, and here.

What about you? What tips and tricks have worked with your family? How have you prepared for the worst together? Spill! Share!



Bacon-Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Bacon-Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Recipe. This is the veggie dish that even your kids will eat.

First: did you know it’s spelled “Brussels?” I have misspelling this vegetable forever! Also, these brussels sprouts are freaking delicious. This is a tasty side dish for Easter dinner. (BTW: Cooking with Todd and the Toddler has an epic step-by-step recipe for Roasted Leg of Lamb for Easter that’s unbelievably tasty, find it here.)

The Most Sugary Dessert In North America

The Most Sugary Dessert In North America. A regular Twinkie? Oh, please. We’re on the hunt for the most outrageous, over-the-top, sweetest dessert EVER. Something so sweet that the fillings in your teeth will ache for a month. And so delicious that the suffering will be WORTH IT.


Ready for more sweets? Try our Easter Bunny Butt cookie recipe here, or our “Hot Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes recipe here.

(Cover image credit: Nicki Pogue)