Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shame on us?

Reading comments on Tim's videos has been an amusing pastime in the last few weeks. One of the comments really stuck with me though. It said, essentially, "Shame on all you people who watch this because you are supporting this man in wasting his life."

The reason it struck me is he expressed a pressure that we've felt all our married life--that pursuing creative things is a waste of time. I have struggled long and hard over whether I should even allow myself to write because isn't that a waste of time? I mean, nobody gets published/famous anyway, right?

There are so many fallacies in this that it's unbelievable that I even struggled with it. For one thing, who said the end purpose of doing something creative is fame and fortune? Why is that the only thing that makes a pursuit valid? For another, the implication of the pressure on us is that music is a waste of time because it doesn't make money. So is money the only thing we should spend our time working on? Nobody would claim that.

Now, I do agree that people should work hard to become self-sufficient and try their best to earn what they need to live on.

But for some people, creating is not a hobby. It's not even a passion. It's a necessity, as much as food or sleep. More than sleep. Thing is, even if you don't listen or watch or publish and read, we're creating these things. So what's the harm in sharing them?

I think the problem comes from the disconnect between product and producer that we have in our society. You like ice cream? Have a favorite flavor? Someone 'wasted their time' messing with ice cream flavors to create that. Ever read a book? Listen to a song you like? Watch a movie? SOMEBODY had to make that. If we tell all the creative people they are wasting their lives, does that mean you don't want any more music? No more comedy? No more murder mysteries? Don't want any pictures on your walls except ones you paint yourself?

You see how ludicrous it is to say "Creating things is a waste of time"?

I just can't see how making people happy is a waste of time, even if a given story/joke/song/movie/etc only makes one person happy. Especially if that person is me. Or my kids. There should be no shame in enjoying the good things in life--even the silly good things.

So, yes, it might be possible that Tim is 'wasting his life'. After all, he could be flipping burgers. Or playing World of Warcraft or looking at sleaze, like so many other men do in their free time.

In times of crisis, people should help each other, right? Well, we can't provide those things that keep people alive. We can't give anyone food or a place to live--we're just barely making it on those counts ourselves, and we're wearing our clothes so much out that they fall off before we get rid of them, so we can't even donate them to the homeless. So what's the harm in making something available--for free, no less (You can watch it at any public library)--that makes people's existence a little brighter for 3 minutes and 17 seconds? We can't keep you alive, but we might be able to make your life a little more worth living. And, as my Dad says, "It's really the things that make life worth living that keep us alive."

Even God had this in mind when he made the world. In D&C 59:15-20, God tells us, "Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion."

And, in John 10:10, Jesus says, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

And God gave us talents, not just to gladden our own hearts, but to share--and not just during church services or with religious topics, although Tim does that, too. You can hear some of his less comedic and religious stuff here: http://www.mistertimdotcom.com/hymns/ and here: http://www.mistertimdotcom.com/christmas/

So is creating silly things a waste of time?

I think not.

Sure we could live without any of the creative things in life. But who would want to?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Some people dig for the positive....

Las Vegas is falling apart. The economic crisis here is greater than in most of the nation--so bad that the Stake President has asked all the families in the stake to let him know what (if any) of their food storage they're willing to share. The economy here, built on tourism and construction, has been at a standstill for MONTHS--almost since we got here. Speculation is that Vegas getting greedy is what caused the severe reaction to the economic woes in the country (when it used to be so 'recession-proof'). They're saying that because the resorts changed their focus from 'cheap room/cheap food' to 'high end party like the stars', we became overly subject to the recession.

For whatever reason, the jobless rate here is unbelievably high (8%, not counting people who have given up, gone back to school, or tried to go freelance; and that counts as employed everyone who is working part-time or in jobs that don't pay enough). Construction is at a complete standstill, with tons of projects on the Strip completely put on hold, lots of condos and resorts sitting unfinished--seemingly indefinitely. The lady who helped us apply for Medicaid says she sees people coming in who have been carpenters for 30 years and never once been out of a job--and they can't get work. People who used to be in demand as construction supervisors can't find a job--any job.

Vegas was never really a safe place for construction workers to ply their trades, anyway. Vegas has a reputation for a reason, and as soon as the higher ups (the ones who claim to no longer be running things by organized crime....) figured out that the fines for doing shoddy work were less than the cost of doing the work to code, the rules went out the window, much to the Union's chagrin.

So this headline struck me as somehow....wrong.

From google news:

"Evidence of change: Six months, no fatalities
Las Vegas Sun - 14 hours ago
By Alexandra Berzon Twelve workers died in accidents at Strip construction sites during the first 18 months of Las Vegas’s current building boom - an average of one death every six weeks....
Unions: 6 months with no construction deaths good San Jose Mercury News"

22 articles are proclaiming the good news: the Unions win, and everyone is now safe.

Nobody is mentioning there have been no deaths because there is no work happening! I suppose that's one way to convince people things have changed for the better and Vegas cares more about workers than the bottom line, but really.... I wonder if the unions are really that stupid as to buy it.

Tim's videos

I never thought I would know or care so much about YouTube stuff, but here it is, part of our life now. And people keep asking what's up with Tim's videos, so here's the update:

Corey Vidal/moosebutter "Star Wars" is inching toward 3.6 million views and is in the running for a People's Choice Award. The awards ceremony is on Jan 7. Vote every day and then tune in and we hope you'll see the video win. We hope. It's been played on TV in Poland, Brazil, France, Spain, and who knows where else (lots of comments in languages I don't speak!)--and hopefully in America on Jan 7.

Moosebutter "Star Wars" response has close to 150,000 views and lots of funny comments (although beware the language is foul).

"Enter Kazoo Man" is growing rapidly, with well over 50,000 views in 10 days, and getting more every day--there is some evidence it's going viral, and this is pleasing to me, at least. Again, lots of good and funny comments (ranging from "How can you support this man wasting his life" to "Oh--you're THAT Mister Tim?" to "I can't believe the talent!"--but again, beware the language. Metallica fans have a particular affinity for the f-word.) It has hit some networking sites and forums around the world, including Germany, which has really pushed its' growth. There is some debate about whether it's all one guy. And a great deal of debate about which member of Metallica he's lampooning in which box. Oh, and Tim has now been compared to the guy from Mythbusters!

Corey Vidal's/Mister Tim's "Barbary Coast Christmas Card" exploded in the last 2 days, going from less than 10,000 views to nearly 30,000 almost overnight. Apparently it's spreading rapidly around China! Tim is going to try to spend some time remembering his Chinese characters to see if he can ferret out the meaning in all those comments, and I am being probably overly pleased that this time it really was the vocal talent of only one person--and it happened to be Tim--and they happened to credit him right in the 'more info' of the sidebar.

And there are plans for more. Lots more, both from Mister Tim and from the collaboration of Corey Vidal and Mister Tim (which is, despite comments on the videos to the contrary, a very happy and productive collaboration so far). I'll keep you all posted.

Meanwhile, with all this excitement, I keep hoping it will turn into a paying job--or more contracts--of some kind soon...and that the contracts that have already come from it will work out.

more funny kids

Right at this moment, Anda is playing at being a lion. "A lioness?" I asked. "No, the male one." "But only the females hunt," I said, observing her actions. "Well, I'm just waiting for the cheetah mother. That's not the same as hunting." She's actually playing both characters. It's rather dramatic to watch her sneaking up on herself, and the two characters having a very dramatic disney-esque dialogue about the relative ages of their cubs and who is destined to be the king of beasts--based on whether power or speed is the best characteristic to have. Anda doing all the voices, of course.

Earlier, Anda and Dan watched "Beauty and the Beast" (thanks Aunt Beth and Uncle Ryan!). Afterward, they came running out, and Anda said, "Let's play Beauty and the Beast."
"Okay," said Dan.
"I get to be the Beast," Anda said.
"No, I get to be the Beast," Dan countered.
"No. I'll be the Beast," Anda insisted. "You can be the princess."
"Okay," Dan happily agreed.
And so they ran off, my son the princess and my daughter the Beast.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

funny kids

Daniel was talking about me going to the doctor's office that was too far away, and he said, "When you go to that doctor that's way off in the distance...."

Benji, helping us clean up so we could wrap presents for each other, sang along with the other kids the 'nursery cleanup song', only Benji's lyrics were, "Clean bum, clean bum, everybody everywhere..."

Daniel, on finding his internet window had disappeared, "Mom! Come help. I lost my mind."
I think we all feel like that with computers sometimes.....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

christmas program

Caleb sang a solo in sacrament meeting for the Christmas program--Two verses of 'Angels we have heard on high' all by himself at the mic. He sounded fantastic (think classical boys choir soloist) and was very pleased with his performance. And it never occurred to him to be afraid. I think he was a little nervous, but he didn't sound nervous. He enjoyed it. Turns out he has a very clear voice and unbelievably good pitch.

Before church, Tim and I had both expressed our own nervousness about Caleb singing a solo (it was supposed to be a duet, but Anda backed out)--what if he messed up? What if he forgot the words, or picked his nose, or just decided at the last minute that he didn't want to do it? What then?

Caleb did great.

It was an interesting opportunity for him. Tim is the choir director and put together the program, and he initially asked at least one other family with 4 kids to have their kids sing, and our kids, and nobody else was interested. So we just let Caleb and Anda...and then Caleb alone...do it. The reason this was an interesting opportunity for Caleb is he is the kind of kid you just don't ask to do something like sing a solo in sacrament meeting--unless he happens to be your kid and you know he has this hidden talent and you pray his disabilities don't get in the way. Nobody asks the kid who wanders out of primary, lays on the floor, or spends the whole time tuned out reading the Friend magazine to do special things. They ask the kids who they know will do the rehearsals, show up, and do a passable job. I totally understand this.

I just wonder how many other kids don't get the chance to have a positive experience because they are different. And what we could do about it...even Tim and I were afraid we'd taken too big of a risk, and Tim had prepared the sopranos in the choir to fill in just in case. How can we include and 'show off' the kids who need it most when they are the hardest to count on?

Big risks have big payoffs, though--and for Caleb? It was so nice to see him appreciated for once in the ward, instead of merely tolerated as just another 'disabled' kid. I know he's brilliant and kind and thoughtful and talented. But when you don't fit the mold, it's hard for anyone else to see anything but that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Video Link for Holiday Greetings from Barbary Coast

The Barbary Coast holiday greetings video that uses Tim's voice (and only Tim's voice) can be watched here:


Sorry I didn't include the separate link before; I've had requests for it directly.

Also, on a vaguely related side note, the Metallica Kazoo video I put up a few days ago has suddenly become hot. This morning at 4:00 am there were 384 views, which I thought was pretty outstanding considering it was an unknown video from an unknown performer who had no subscribers to start the chain with. As of 9:00 tonight, there are over 3700 views and counting--with positive comments and positive ratings. What this means I don't know, but I'd welcome two hit viral videos using Tim's talent in a row--it could be a good thing for his career.

Metallica on Kazoo? Who would have guessed.... I would have put more stock in a six-month run with positive reviews on the Strip in Las Vegas, but then, I'm often wrong about these things.

ANOTHER ultrasound

We had a high-tech ultrasound today.

The baby is fine. He has a little too much liquid, but there is no sign of any of the dangerous causes of that, and at least two of my previous babies also has a lot of extra fluid and were fine. I watched as they measured his brain, tummy, kidneys, bones, etc.

He looks like Benjamin. That's how clear the ultrasound images were.

And the due date?


The baby is coming in the next 4 weeks. Probably the first week in January. The ultrasound tech said that he's either really large for his age, or really small for his age, but we have no way to accurately determine his age, so....

So the doctor came in. I really liked him. He's a specialist in high-risk pregnancy and ultrasound stuff. He was very personable, very communicative, very honest.

And his conclusion? We'll be fine if we just let the me go into labor naturally--no inducing me at all--and watch for fetal distress if we go past the beginning of January, just to be on the safe side.

This was standard procedure in Colorado.

It took a specialist to declare it here in Nevada. Why, you might ask?

Because induction is standard procedure here, despite the fact that pitocin has been withdrawn in its approval for elective induction. They can always find an excuse, I guess, to term it 'medically necessary', and all the moms get induced around their due dates, and it's a given that they're going to have an epidural, which makes sense if they're all getting induced.

Anyway, I was trying to figure out how to explain to my doctor that, despite the fact that we're worried we won't make it to the hospital in time if my water breaks spontaneously during labor, I don't want to be induced--I think that, unless there is clear evidence of fetal distress, it's best to let nature run its course, and let babies come when they are ready.

For me--sometime in the next four weeks.

Good thing this isn't my first baby, or that 'due date' would make me nuts. As it is, that's kind of what I figured anyway--once you hit 36 weeks, the baby is coming sometime in the next 4 weeks anyway, and won't be stopped if it tries.

I'm guessing the first week in January? I'm tempted to have a contest--you post in the comments when you think the baby will come, and we'll find a prize for the winner (probably a candycane, just to warn you--and you'd have to come to us in Vegas to get it!).

In the Chronicle

One of Tim's latest projects with Corey Vidal was an online holiday card for a company called "Barbary Coast."

Apparently it wasn't as private a matter as I assumed it was because the holiday 'card' they created was reviewed positively by the San Fransisco Chronicle.

The review appeared here with a link to the card:


and here:


And if you follow the links and watch the videos, you should be warned: all the lovely, annoying, interesting, and diverse voices you hear came out of Tim. He arranged the music, recorded it, performed it, mixed and mastered it. And then left it to Corey to somehow lip sync to it--no small fete, considering the music he was given!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

more of Tim videos

Tim rapping in French with Duwende near Boston in 2006.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Metallica...multi-tracked....on Kazoo...by Mister Tim.

SNOW...and a tale of two due dates...or make that three...

It snowed today. For several hours. Truly delightful.

I went to a new doctor today. Turns out he has been an OBGyn since I was born, and he also spent 3 or 4 of the last 7 years as an attorney working defending doctors in malpractice cases. He went back to doctoring because lawyering can be so miserable.

Anyway, I really liked him. He discovered that my records showed that I had a yeast infection that the other doc not only failed to treat me for, but also failed to inform me of even though I asked about it. And he noticed, as I did, that the ultrasounds the other doctor did all came out funkily unmatched--and, unlike the other doc, he was concerned about that. As have I been.

So he got me a prescription for medication and a referral to the Center for Maternal Fetal Medicine for an accurate ultrasound. The problem? According to my dates (which I know are accurate), the baby is due January 17. According to the first ultrasound I had, right before thanksgiving, the baby is due December 30 and was nearly 7 lbs. According to the second, which I had 2 weeks later, the baby is due December 19 and weighs 7 lbs 12 oz. You see the problem? The baby appears to be growing like a mutant! And my biggest baby so far was barely over 8 lbs--not really considered a big baby--and they've all been between 7.5 lbs and just over 8. Tests have ruled out diabetes, so the new doctor was really concerned about getting this right. He was also concerned that the two previous ultrasounds did not include a complete physical profile of the baby, even though they should have.

So we get to go down and have a high-tech ultrasound from specialists! This should be interesting, since I am fairly certain we have a healthy baby in there who is normal-sized to just slightly small for me (I'm not nearly as big as I was for my first three--more like Benji, who was my smallest baby).

So I've settled myself into the idea that we're having a baby sometime in the next 5 weeks. Since it's my fifth baby, this is a comfortable idea to me--it's really the way babies come anyway. Still, it wouldn't be bad to have a real due date, just for future reference.

Oh, and the appointment was made doubly exciting by the fire alarm going off in the middle--so we all had to traipse outside and stand in the falling snow while the security men determined that nothing was wrong.

Monday, December 15, 2008

the latest crisis

Tonight, Caleb ran in to where Tim and I were sitting and said in a slightly panicked voice, "Mom! You have to come in here!"

"What?" I said.

"Anda doesn't have a blog!" he said. Anda is 5 years old.

I caught my laughter and said seriously, "Then she'll have to sign up for one."

By the time I waddled after him into the computer room, they were hard at work getting her set up.

I guess even in Kindergarten you aren't a real person unless you have a web presence!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What is ADD?

This question appeared in the comment stream on another post, "http://beccajones.blogspot.com/2008/10/add-jokes.html" and I thought it warranted it's own post.

First of all, let me state clearly, for the record, that my family uses jokes and songs to handle stress. In fact, we've even written and sung and laughed about music that dealt very specifically with mental illnesses and child abuse! It's not because we are making light of those things, but because we are making those awful things lighter in our own lives--taking hold of them, accepting them, and then putting them in a place where they do no define and control our entire existences. For us, it's a healthy way to accept our lives for what they are and move forward.

Thus is it with those specific kinds of ADD jokes. We aren't mocking people with ADD, since most of the family has it. We are accepting it for what it is and laughing at ourselves as a way to not let the negative take over. I mean, really--there is humor in ADD, despite the fact that it can be a debilitating disorder.

Now, the question:

Defining ADD, I had always pictured people overly distracted and/or easily distracted, unable to control their ability to concentrate. The way you talk I am hearing something different. You make it sound like a positive (blessing/curse), is it just a hypersensitivity or over-need for stimulation?

I completely welcome comments on this one--and if they get emailed to me directly, I ask your permission to copy them into the comments stream so that people can get various feedback--because there is a lot to say about this subject, and everyone's experiences are different.

ADD is the label for a set of behaviors that result from a group of specific brain anomalies. There are actually several places in the brain that can function 'wrong', and there are actually several varieties of disorder that are labeled ADD. In fact, most childhood disorders, both mental and physical, include symptoms of ADD, including things as diverse as juvenile fibromyalgia, childhood bipolar disorder, and having alcoholic or bipolar parents.

Around my house, we have the theory that there is physical ADD (your brain is wired wrong in a specific set of ways), which is genetically inherited and active from birth, and cultural ADD (while not wired wrong, your brain has been trained to react to stimuli in very ADD kinds of ways), which is learned or triggered by environment, like being abused, having ADD parents or siblings, or the scientificially-indicted watching too much TV as a toddler. I also believe strongly that many cases of ADD are actually reactions to food allergies--specifically to preservatives and artificial colors (including Red 40 and Yellow 5, and there is some evidence pointing to sodium benzoate).

So what IS ADD?

Dr. Hallowell says: "ADD is a misleading name for an intriguing kind of mind. ADD is a name for a collection of symptoms, some positive, some negative. For many people, ADD is not a disorder but a trait, a way of being in the world. When it impairs their lives, then it becomes a disorder. But once they learn to manage its disorderly aspects, they can take full advantage of the many talents and gifts embedded in this sparkling kind of mind. Having ADD is like having a turbo-charged racecar brain. If you take certain specific steps, then you can take advantage of the benefits ADD conveys--while avoiding the disasters it can create."

As far as my experience is concerned, major ADD characteristics include not being able to control where you focus or for how long (sometimes you skip around too much, other times you focus too intensely on one thing), an inability to organize your life (which is also a characteristic of random people) in conventional ways, an inability to think--even when you want to--unless something else is going on, too, and a frustrating inability to comprehend and fit into 'the box' of societal expectations, behaviors, and norms. There are many other factors, as well, and I imagine different ones are more prominent in different people than others. For example, a major characteristic for one of my sisters' forms of ADD is a propensity for seeing the negative in every situation--but it's not depression. And the worst thing about all of these is the harder you try to be 'normal' or 'like everyone else' or 'focus', the worse the problem gets.

These characteristics sound exclusively negative, but they really aren't.

The jokes I posted make fun of the first characteristic I mentioned. Sometimes in conversation, people with ADD jump around a lot--verbally or physically. Sometimes they tell you the same story over and over and make the same point over and over because they are overfocused on that and can't move on. And sometimes they just 'don't listen' because something you said set their brains on a track and it raced away. Or they start bouncing around, get up and literally run or jump, or start fidgeting with things--cues that a non-ADD person is bored, but cues that a person with ADD is deeply interested and trying to get their brains to stay focused (physical motion for some reason helps the brain keep on track). Upsides of this are creativity and the ability to make novel and significant connections where other people don't automatically see them. And then, in those times when they are overfocused, to fully develop a project quickly and in a more complete way than you'd ever guess (or 'win' a computer game in one sitting, which isn't necessarily a plus to moms and wives who can't break in).

People with ADD don't organize well. They make piles everywhere, so their physical and digital desktops are crowded with stuff, and they can't seem to get places on time, turn papers in, finish things even when they want to, or work on only one project at a time. This can seriously hamper their lives--they miss appointments, double-schedule their calendars, and forget to pay bills and speeding tickets, can't find their drivers' license or passport to save their lives, and never quite get around to other important things, like seeing a dentist for a broken tooth, or taking finals in college. It can also allow them to work on more than one project at a time and get them all done well. It makes for high productivity possible because they can mentally keep track of and work on hundreds of things at once. Medication can help them get over the inability to finish these millions of things without getting rid of their ability to work on them and do them well--which lets someone like Tim write, record, edit, and fully produce hundred of songs in the time it takes 'normal' songwriters to just get the notes down for a dozen or so. In the meantime, he also has created and manages dozens of vocal groups, goes to conferences all over the nation to speak and teach, has taught himself how to run live sound and a home recording studio. The trick seems to be to get the ADD under control enough that you can 'organize enough' and then recognizing what you just can't do and getting help with that (like having your wife pay the bills). Also, because people with ADD can't organize in the conventional way, they have a strange and marvelous ability to look at chaos and not be overwhelmed by it, making them particularly helpful in dealing with disorganized situations like natural disasters or cluttered rooms--not because they can get them organized, but because they cut right to the human needs and provide attention, love, and help where the people need it, not where the room needs it. So so so many 'normal' women walk into the house of a woman who is in need and only can think to get the mess cleaned up because they don't have that ADD ability to ignore the chaos and focus on the people. People with ADD also have an unusual ability to look at chaos and discern patterns, making them really good data analysts and creative problem solvers--as long as they don't have to implement the solution.

ADD can prevent you from thinking without also doing other things. However, if you are free to do other things, ADD brains are highly creative, as I mentioned. So I've learned, as a mother, not to say, "Could you please stop running about?!" to my children and instead say, "What are you thinking about?" when they are dashing madly about the house, bouncing off walls and crashing into each other. Turns out the running and jumping allow their unusually brilliant minds to function--and more often than not their brains are working on novel storylines, solutions to problems, computer game designs, inventions, or other highly creative things that 'normal' people would never come up with. So it can be a serious problem--nobody lets you learn at a jog in public schools!), but when an ADD brain is allowed to think, it is often unusually bright and creative--and my kids are in pretty good physical shape for computer addicts because they have to hop down and do laps several times a day in order to write that novel (at ages 5 and 7) or complete that computer game they're designing. This also is easily managed through diet, exercise, and medication, so it's not really the end of the world.

The inability to fit into the box or comprehend social norms can be a serious problem for people with ADD. Instead of comprehending that 'this is the way it's done', they see every situation as a new thing to think about and see no reason to accept 'the way it's done'--they always want to know why, and if the answer isn't reasonable to them, they don't accept it. This makes it hard to keep jobs, fit in socially, sit through primary (instead of, say, walk out or lay on the floor) or meetings at work, respect personal space, play what everyone else is playing, etc. This makes them feel like outcasts, even if they have a large social group that really likes them a lot. It also makes them inclined to do things that other people think are odd. On the other hand, it tends to make them more inclined to see each individual around them as a person with flaws and talents, and gives them an unusual ability to analyze situations and people and customs and really 'figure them out'--often allowing them to come up with solutions to social and governmental problems that people 'on the inside' can't see. Being outside the box is not always a bad thing, especially if you are grounded in something solid, like the gospel, so that you aren't just drifting randomly (trying drugs, joining gangs, shoplifting).

I could go on and on.

Bottom line, to me, is that every person on earth has a package of challenges and talents, and part of the point of life is to learn how to overcome or work within your challenges and how to use your talents. People with ADD are lucky--their challenges have been clearly defined, in some ways, and thoroughly analyzed, and there are actually pills you can take to help with them (how many of us wish we could take a pill and have our handicaps minimized!). They are unlucky because their challenges can mask their talents and put them in a position (especially if they are forced to conform, like in school, and are subject to ridicule for being different) that it's hard to discover them, and their mental make up can make it hard for them to accept and use their talents (people with ADD tend to see every small imperfection--in themselves and others--and tend to be fearful of producing work that is less than perfect, so they can be paralyzed in their production).

It has been much easier to understand and study who we are (me with fibromyalgia and Tim with ADD) so that we don't condemn ourselves or each other, and so that we can finally accept what we are and move forward, working around our weaknesses and capitalizing (and focusing) on our strengths.

I think of it in terms of story (as I do so many things). It's like that novel plot I published here years ago--everyone on earth is born to be a super hero, and every superhero has both super abilities and super handicaps. The people who become heroes (instead of normal folks) are the ones who learn to use their super abilites to serve and not let their super handicaps stop them.

So yes, ADD is a disorder. But so is being human. We have to work with what we have--color with the box of crayons we were given, as Sister Lee used to say--and not spend our whole lives focusing on what we can't do or don't have.

I'm trying to raise superheroes.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

CBS People's Choice Awards--a shameless plea for votes

The Corey Vidal/Moosebutter Star Wars video was nominated for CBS's people's choice awards in the 'user generated' category.

We want them to win.

So go here: http://www.pcavote.com

Ignore the messages about categories being closed, and click the purple rectangle that says "Vote Now".

Enter the security code if it gives you one. Don't worry about logging in.

Wait for the options to appear, then click 'next set'. This should take you to the 'user generated content' nominations.

Watch the videos if you want--I like the Star wars one and where is Matt. Click on your vote. The Star Wars one is the one with Tim's song on it.

If you care to, do it again tomorrow and again the next day and again....until the voting closes.


Oh, also, I put a link to Tim's blog on my side bar. Check it out. His page is www.mistertimdotcom.com.

Benji talks

Benjamin has started to understand the value of speaking the same language as the rest of us--so we're starting to get some sense out of his long speeches.

He has grasped some interesting words, like "zap!" which he uses when he points at something to turn it into something else (and which he got from the end of "little bunny foo foo", when the fairy says, 'Zap! You're a goon!') He says 'pitty' for pretty, and "Peeooh" for Winnie the Pooh. He can't say the 'tr' sound, so he uses an 'f' sound, which makes it rather embarrassing when he starts looking at trucks and pointing them out to people. He told me yesterday that the Christmas tree was 'pitty fwee'. It's actually really fun because he is old enough that he can say any word--so we have enjoyed playing, "Benji, can you say -______(kangaroo rat, serendipity, etc)?" Just now he turned Dan into a serendipity, "Zap! Dippy!"

Benji has learned some words that are important in a family full of computer-addict kids, like "Hey! Hey!", which he says when he pushes someone off their chair to take the computer or hands me the mouse to get his program turned on. He also says "'ess kids" for pbskids.org, and 'sue per why' (one of the shows there) and 'buggie' for some of the Odyssey lessons. He loves the Curious George videos, and can make a pretty convincing monkey sound. He now uses the word "monkey" to mean any animal he can't identify readily, from pigs to snowmen (which he seems to think are animals, since there's no snow here and they show up in conjunction with reindeer all the time).

Other favorite phrases include "kitty", "read" and "book", "where'd it go?", "cack" (quack), "eat", "gwee" (drink), "Kay-bee" (Caleb), "annie" (Anda), "Dan", and "Benjimin". He uses 'no' freely, and 'yeah' sometimes. He barks pretty well. He's just learning 'peas' for please, which makes me nervous to send him to nursery, where they are Please Nazis, refusing to give 18-month-olds snacks if they don't say please, and always attributing it to stubbornness or rebellion that must be quelched (like that's their business to teach anyway). He knows more, and is constantly surprising me with words, like this morning when he walked into the living room where Dan and I were sitting and said, "Oh. Poopy, Dan?"

He's finally figured out that when I say no, it's a lot better if he stops what he's doing--and then I praise him highly for it so he gets the point.

The thing I'm most worried about right now is when the baby comes, how will I go grocery shopping with a toddler who must be buckled into the seat or he pulls things off the shelves and runs with wild abandon? If Benji is in the cart seat, then you have to put the baby in the basket in the car seat, and then there's not room for a loaf of bread, much less 6 gallons of milk and Daniel. I might have to let Caleb push a cart for me.....I tried putting Benji in the basket today, and he was back to pulling things off shelves and trying to climb out, so that won't work.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

moosebutter--more on YouTube

This is one of my favorite of Tim's original compositions, sung by moosebutter, with the puppet performance by Maxed Out Puppetry--my favorite puppet troupe. The song was written and arranged by Tim (aka Mister Tim); lead was sung by Glen Sawyer, all other vocals were done by Tim.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

moosebutter's version

this is moosebutter performing "star wars" live, in answer to the video I posted earlier. Keep in mind that this is a live performance, and the last was recorded professionally in a studio for a cd, so the performance is not identical, but I still like it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fox news must have fired their copy editors to save money....

My favorite headline ever, right at the top of foxnews.com today:

"Labor Pains Expected"

Very funny when you consider I'm nine months pregnant--although I suspect I might have a different meaning in mind than they did!

Just below, we find this gem:

"Easy-to-Use 'Palm Pistol' Aimed at Elderly, Disabled"

Did they really mean that?

And this isn't a copy editing problem, but rather a 'really? you can't be serious' problem: "Fla. Man charged with Assaulting Girlfriend With Burger"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The cast of this blog

I realize I throw a lot of names around with no explanations, so here is a brief bio of us, since I haven't updated for over a year.


Tim, my husband, who is a musician.

Caleb, my son, age 7 but in 3rd grade

Anda, my daughter, age 5 but in 1st and 2nd grade

Dan, my son, age 3 but in kindergarten

Benji, my son, age 19 or 20 months

Unborn baby that could be due in 3 weeks or in 6--we're not quite sure yet.

And various friends, neighbors, experts from online, etc, who I try to identify when i mention them.

And, yes, to answer the questions I get any time I tell people my kids' ages: We did that on purpose, and we do know what birth control is and how to use it, and we plan to have more kids.


Last night we boiled eggs. At bedtime, I put the eggs in a bowl and put the bowl in the fridge, but I left the pot of water on the table, empty except for a few strings of white and yellow egg from one that cracked in the hot water.

This morning, Dan went looking for breakfast and came to me mildly distressed.

"Mom," he said solemnly. "I want an egg but you left them out overnight and they decayed in the pot into little bits of white and yellow. They all decayed."

Smiling, I told him I put them in the fridge in a bowl.

"Why?" he asked.

"So they wouldn't decay,"I said. What other answer could there be?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pondering, lately

Lately, I've come to the conclusion that, despite the circumstances I am living in, I ought to embrace the life I've been given and get what I can out of each day.

I think it's important to learn from the past and look to the future, but LIVE in TODAY.

And not spend all my time worrying, regretting, planning, complaining, or waiting.

Not to say we shouldn't be prepared, take steps that lead us to a better future, have goals, etc.

Just to say that, in doing those things, we sacrifice our futures if we don't embrace the day we have been given and do what we can with it, however wonderful or awful it might be. I don't want to end up with all those empty yesterdays President Monson warns about.

Has this actually changed much about my behavior each day? Not that you'd notice (I always did try to live transparently and without regrets). But it has changed some subtle things about my outlook--like I'm less inclined to gossip, complain over and over, spend time worrying about next year, or agonize over what other people think of my house/writing/car/hobbies/etc. And I'm more inclined to look at my day and say, "Today we have a place to live and food to eat; I'll worry about tomorrow when it comes." I'm also more inclined to read to my children, write what I want to write, wipe off the stove, bake cookies, work and rest at the right times without guilt, and kiss my husband (which I already did a lot of, but more is always better in that case).

After all, this is the only life I get, and I think I'll get more out of it if I embrace what is given me and let God make of me and my life what He will.

A rejection?

I got a 'not perfect yet' letter from the agent who had asked me to revise and resubmit. It didn't specify, though, whether it was a further 'revise and resubmit' or an outright rejection, but it did include detailed comments and suggestions.

Comments and suggestions that lead me to believe the agent is looking for the next 'Twilight' (a paranormal romance.) And why shouldn't she be? It's a massive hit.

But it's a massive hit because nobody had done it before.

The comments she gave, honestly, were sound. But, unlike last time, they didn't drive me to my computer to open the file again.

I think part of it is that she seems to be looking for a romance with fantastic elements, where I wrote a fantasy with mystery and romance elements. Now, if someone said, "This is great, can we rewrite to make the mystery more of the focus?" I might bite. But for some reason I don't feel inclined just now to really play down the complexities that are left in the plot and really play up the relationships, although I completely agree in some ways that 'deepening' the relationship between Kate and Tom would make the book more satisfying.

Maybe the problem is I don't know how to do that.

Maybe the problem is that a fantasy is, characteristically, more complex in plot, more sweeping in action, and less focused on intimate emotional feelings in the characters that don't play directly into the action.

The agent also still has the impression that I personally don't have a real grasp of my own plot. This must be a flaw in the storytelling because I think I do have a firm grasp of the plot--I can summarize the 350 page book into a couple of paragraphs easily--and probably into one sentence if I need to, which you can't do if you don't have a grasp of the plot.

Maybe the 'problem' is that I have a couple of intersecting plots (or up to 3 or 4, depending on how you look at it--which characters you want to focus on), and the depth in the story comes from the collision of those plots and of those characters' realizations about themselves. I could easily remove the subplots and focus on Kate (not that I don't already), but the entire story would suffer because Ali Babba's, Beauty's, and Tom's stories are what let us see the real development in Kate.

Perhaps I should take the conglomerate of the comments as "Still a little confusing and intellectual".

Unfortunately, the sticking point for everyone who has read it was the joy for me--the complexity and mass of information that it's possible to include. The essence of the story is what would a smart, literate girl from 21st century Provo experience if she met the (oft-maligned by academia but idolized by little girls everywhere) characters from the fairytales? And its corollary: what would happen if a fairytale character and her problem were transferred to modern-day America? These are the two stories that collide in the novel--but that very exploration has been seen as confusing (too many fairytales!) by many people.

Oh, and she said there's too much dialogue with information that Kate could just think to herself, the way it happens in real life. Funny--I've been praised by other agents for the dialogue, and also have really had a hard time 'verbalizing in her mind' her thinking because I don't think that way. I don't realize things in my head--instead, I get an inkling and then have to talk it out to really get to the 'realization' stage. So I might need to smooth all that out in the text someday.

So I've come to the conclusion that one of two things will happen: I will re-expand this book into a 3-5 book series, so that you get it slower and feel less like you got avalanched (and I can put back a lot of cool stuff I had to cut), or it will be my second or third novel published because it's just too much of a risk for a publisher to take an unknown author and publish something that is at once clean as a whistle and intellectually complex. I guess, overall, it's just not 'there' yet.

Any way I look at it, though, I don't feel inclined to open the book again. So I'm going to put the letter aside for a few weeks or a few months and look at it and the novel with fresh eyes another day. Or year.

Maybe I'm just waiting to hear back from the other agent who has it still--fully expecting a form rejection but hoping for something more positive.

Meanwhile, I'm learning a lot about plotting in the clues for a mystery--and how much knowing the minute details of the ending play into the formation of the clues and plot up to that ending.


Today, Daniel spent ten minutes trying to convince me to give him licorice before dinner because 'it isn't bad for you.' His argument was it's not made from sugar or flour (I never told him flour was bad for you, but that was his argument). I said, 'So what's it made from?'

"Just from licorice," he said.

"So where did the first batch come from?" Anda asked.