Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wow--let's sell our souls! or at least our liberty

There is an ad going around with beauty queens with duct tape over their mouths and "No H8" printed on their cheeks.

You can see it here:,4644,7144,00.html

I am shocked that beauty queens would be so dumb as to consent to this.

I'm pretty sure they think they're saying, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all--and force yourself not to."

What they're really saying is that being socially accepted is more important than our right to free speech or freedom of religion. Forget the first amendment--I'll promote whatever someone spray paints on my cheek! And nothing else.

Let's imagine a dialogue:
Guy one: "Let's make it mandatory for everyone to eat Pork in public on Fridays because pork is cheap and will benefit an entire industry, creating jobs, and improving our sense of national spirit! Where's the law? I'll sign it. Here, let me make a movie or two supporting my position and give millions of dollars to advertising in its favor."

Guy two: "I'm in favor of jobs, national pride, and even the Pork industry. But it's against my religion to eat pork."

Guy one: "You're an awful, hateful person. I'm going to make it so you can't get a job or walk out in public without being ridiculed! You are unAmerican for having religious beliefs! You hurt my feeeeelliiiinnnggssss! (And I'm going to make sure the entire media population knows it and is against you.)"

How can someone who says she represents America (which is, in the case of beauty queens, a debatable idea anyway) also espouse the idea that everyone must support one ideal and never speak against it?

It is so central to everything we have and are that Americans Can Believe Anything They Want. If you start punishing people for disagreeing with you, and the society supports that (and the media enforces it), our liberty is gone.

Above all else, we must embrace our right to disagree. We must embrace our right to both offend and be offended. We must NEVER try to force our ideas on anyone. Convince? Yes. Coerce? NEVER! We cannot duct tape people's mouths to keep them from discussing, debating, and, yes, disagreeing. The answer to Hate is NOT silence. Especially enforced silence. Remember, tyrants are the ones who punish people for disagreeing with them.

Enforced conformity is the antithesis of liberty--and things can be enforced not just by police action, but also subtly. By Beauty queens and the media.

After all, it wasn't hatred of the Jews that caused the Holocaust. It was millions of people allowing themselves to be swept away by propaganda, and eventually not being allowed to stand up for what they believe.

If we enforce conformity, by law or by social punishment, we are not America. We are Hitler.

Even if we are a bunch of pretty faces. With duct tape.

Penny Pinching Tips

Two words:

Public Library

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Penny Pinching Tips

I am going out on a little bit of a limb with this, but here is my reasoning:

I have been pinching pennies for a long long time and I'm really good at living on 'nothing'. There are now hundreds of people out there who have no experience with this, and I think it's high time we banished shame from the equation and started helping each other live within our means, however small those means might be.

So,in light of that, a happy song for you:

This song was written and performed by my brother, Ben. I don't know the people who made the video, and it's not great, but it's the only online link to the song that I could embed here with my limited knowledge. (Note to Ben: Go to youtube and read the comments--people want to buy your song and don't know where to find it....).

I put it here because I like Ben's approach. If we can first take the shame from being poor, we can start to help each other have rich and full lives, and get the things we need, without being ashamed, regardless of how much cash we have or don't have.

I hesitate to do this for 2 reasons: One is I don't want to invite condemnation for myself or my husband because we don't make a lot of money. Part of the problem with admitting you are poor is that people immediately judge you. We are not lazy. We are not stupid or incompetent. In fact, Tim works 80 hour weeks and is quite respected in his field. Financial well-being is not indicative of personal values, strengths, usefulness to society, talent, skill, or righteousness, but it is treated as though it is.

The other reason is I don't want to be seen as a beggar. What I absolutely DO NOT want from this is pity or offers for charity. I'd be mortified. See, I'm not ashamed that I DO these things. I'm only ashamed that you might look down on me for doing so. So if I say I bought my child's shoes at Savers, don't offer to buy me some from the mall. Go buy some for your child at Savers, too, and if you see a pair that one of my kids or someone else's kids might like, go ahead and get them a gift. Remember, we're all in this together, and the point is not to incite pity, but to bear one another's burdens--and not by adding to their burdens by making them feel like a failure or a beggar.

So, in light of all that, I intend to start posting my tips on how we do things cheap, and will try to swallow my embarrassment at some of these in hopes that you or someone you know will find them helpful in trying economic times, and maybe take the edge off the stigma of poverty (since you really aren't alone in being poor.)

So....Penny Pinching Tips: Birthday presents

The packaging is often the ONLY thing that identifies an item as new. Small children don't care about the packaging on their birthday presents. Seriously, it just gets in the way of playing with a toy instantly. And small children also don't care about having things that nobody else has ever played with (only their parents care, and older children who have been taught to care).

So, to ease the financial hit of birthdays, we have the kids buy each other birthday presents at the dollar store (there's fun stuff there) and at thrift stores (books for a quarter? Stuffed toys for less than a dollar?).

Recently, we discovered the bagged toys at Savers.

Now, usually those bagged toys are horrendously expensive for what you're getting--a semi-random assortment of small items. BUT on Mondays at Savers, one colored tag is marked down to a dollar. Watch the colored tags and, on dollar day, buy bags of toys that your kids will like and then save them for your child's birthday. I do recommend you clean the toys (use hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol for hard toys, throw plushes in the laundry--most really are washable).

By buying bagged toys on dollar day, we got Benji 2 awesome balls and one of the best toy trains we've ever bought (and that's saying a lot--Caleb had dozens of trains) for 33 cents each.

Did I Just Read that?

I bought some boxes of single-serving drink mix to keep in the car--you know, the kind that comes in a little plastic tube that you pour into a bottle of water?

I got Turbo2GO brand and thought I'd read the ingredients on the orange flavor. The list included your usual chemicals, acids, thickeners, sweeteners, artificial colors, and "nature identical orange flavor".

Okay. I can accept that scientists might be able to manufacture orange flavor in a lab that is chemically identical to the stuff they get out of oranges.

The lemon flavor drink mix included "nature identical lemon flavor."

Right. So they did lemon, too.

Then I got to the fruit punch: "nature identical fruit punch flavor."

I didn't know fruit punch occurred naturally in the wild!

Daniel tells a knock-knock joke

d: "Knock-knock."
a: "Who's there?"
d: "Help, help! I'm drowning."

Monday, April 27, 2009

marriage therapy

I LOVE this article on the value of doing fun dates for married couples. It's the first study I've seen in a long time that held as it's underlying assumption that people CAN be happy married for a long time.

The Difficulty of Diagnosing Childhood Disorders

So Caleb has had all these symptoms of ADD for years, and we were sure he was a difficult case (though not at all a difficult child). He can't think unless he's running, he had no sense of personal space, he had a hard time paying attention, he refused to comply in a classroom setting, he had those bothersome facial tics, etc.

But we've learned a few things about him since he refused to turn his work in at the cyberschool in Colorado.

For one thing, he has a sleep disorder. And it turned out that in 90% of the situations where he had trouble complying with a system or bowing to authority, he hadn't slept enough the night before. The fidgeting, inattentiveness, rebellion, impulsiveness--all are connected to sleep for Caleb. They are there when he's slept enough, but not NEARLY as much. Possibly more along the lines of "he's a kid" rather than "he has ADD".

And then we discovered that he needed glasses, and that, in fact, his vision is worse than mine. No sense of personal space and bad social skills? Nah. He just couldn't see the people he was interacting with unless he got really close, and with no clear view of facial expressions, he couldn't read physical cues at all. The glasses literally fixed this overnight. Facial tics are mostly gone, too--he was screwing up his face trying to get his eyes to focus! And the computer addiction? Faded. He was spending his time staring at a computer screen or the large-screen nintendo TV because he could see those things. Now he spends his day on many varied activities, and plays outside a lot more, and plays more and nicer with his siblings. Being able to see is a big big deal.

Caleb still has to run to think (which is getting harder for him and us now that he's getting so big), and he has an incredibly low boredom tolerance (verbally complaining even in the amount of time it takes the doctor to check his ears for infection) and tends toward micro-fidgeting (not a big deal unless a doctor is trying to look in his eyes or ears and he is jittering around).

Diagnosing a kid with a disorder and medicating them is a hairy thing. While Caleb probably does have ADHD, he would have been overmedicated had we treated him for all the symptoms he had--since so many of them and the severity of them was caused by other disorders.

It reminds me what I learned in my sign language classes--kids with hearing loss are often labeled lazy, rebellious, loud, insensitive, or with a learning or behavior disorder, and treated with medications, when what they really need is help with their hearing.

More on ADHD

So ADD drugs are good for kids now? They never can decide, can they? Those of us who know people with ADD could have told you the result of this study before they even did it:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

did I just read that?

from craigslist--

"Project begins May 11, and ends May 2."

What on earth is a "show girl impersonator"?

Did I Just Read that?

Mini Marshmallows now come with a warning. It's printed right on the bag:

"Eat one at a time. For children under 6, cut marshmallows into bite-sized pieces. Children should always be seated and supervised while eating."


Sounds good. It's not really a warning, despite the label "choking warning". Rather, this is a set of instructions clearly designed to free Kraft from liability if someone chokes and dies playing "fluffy bunny" or pretending to be in the Blue Man Group (who don't really use marshmallows--it's a stage trick).

So marshmallows require instructions.

But they are a little puzzling, if you think about it. Have you ever tried to eat just one mini marshmallow at a time? It's a little tedious. And what about when they are in jello, cookies, or rice krispie treats? How do you be sure you're eating only one at a time then? And, further, how small is a bite-sized piece? I mean, these are MINI marshmallows, after all....

I love that standard 'seating and supervised' warning. You know what it makes me think of? All my kids sitting in a semi-circle, staring at the television screen with a bag of marshmallows, stuffing their faces with abandon while I peek in at the doorway and am grateful they aren't fighting or breaking anything for a few minutes so I can make dinner, which they inevitably eat standing up (either on their chairs or doing laps around the table. Seriously).

If everyone followed that 'now you can't sue us' advice, think of all the memories from your childhood that would have never happened--grabbing a cookie while you run outside, spitting watermelon seeds into the grass, popsicle or ice cream dripping down your hand onto the pavement while you try to juggle the pleasures of cold sugar with the joys of running off to play again, snitching your halloween candy from your own bag while you're walking to the next house, swiping a pinch of cookie dough while mom's back is turned, eating an apple while you walk with one foot in the gutter and then throwing the core into an empty lot or someone else's garbage can....

I mean, who ever wanted to eat an orange dreamsicle with their friends seated around the kitchen table? Where's the fun of the bugs, sticky hands that attract dirt and bees, scratchy grass prickling your legs, and talking to your cousins without the grownups butting in?

Quotes from today: more about Susan Boyle

From Simon Cowell, as reported on Reuters UK, to Susan Boyle: "Get yourself together sweetheart for the big one -- the semi-final. Shut the door, choose the right song and come back as who you are, not who you want to be," he said.

Perhaps this is good advice for all of us? I love the idea that seeking fame distracts us from our real business, we should be prepared for our future or it might not be what we think, and that who you are is good enough so you don't need to try to remake yourself into something you think you want to be.

Also from Simon Cowell: "I am seriously thinking now we should hold two more open auditions (of "America's Got Talent") off the back of Susan Boyle. You don't have to be a singer who is 47 and never been kissed, but just someone who says 'I think I am talented, and I don't think people are going to judge me because of the way I look'," he said.

Two more open auditions so he can find the same publicity for AGT as he just got free from Susan Boyle for BGT? Note also that he said "open auditions"--that would indicate they are holding closed auditions still. He's got some business savvy there. But it's the second part of the quote I liked. See, the thing is, she was totally judged by the way she looks--and it goes both ways, judging by pretty and judging by ugly. She is an internet sensation BECAUSE she got judged by the way she looks. So what's he saying? Find me another sensation that brings attention to my show. Duh.

Again, Simon Cowell: "It's only stress when it doesn't work," he said. "I don't feel under any stress whatsoever when something like the Susan Boyle thing emerges. It is honestly the best feeling in the world."

It's only stress when it doesn't work. Isn't that funny that our perceptions define our stress levels, not the external events? I mean, would you feel devastated and stressed living in poverty if you thought it was permanent? What if you knew for sure that it was temporary and you'd be given a billion dollars at the end of it if you were patient? Stressed if you had cancer? What if you knew your suffering would end positively in not only your own health, but a breakthrough that would lead to a cure for a thousand people? Changes the stress level, no?

Also, he sounds like he's saying finding a diamond in the rough is the best feeling in the world. But this is a businessman. Could it be possible that 'this Susan Boyle thing' refers to the positive spin it's given to his business? Free advertising, and now he looks really good as a 'talent finder' since he said he's really embarrassed for judging her before she sang (saves face, that admission does). His business got a great big shot in the arm, for free, from this. Wouldn't that feel good?

From today's Fox News photo essay, a quote that goes along with my post about Susan Boyle and the music industry: "This bad hair abomination is what happens when you take a very pretty girl (singer Cassie) trying to be hip and get noticed. But listen hon, the way to do that is by paying the paparazzi to follow you, or "accidentally" releasing racy photos and or tapes. Or else, there is always rehab. Geez, learn the rules of Hollywood missy!"

Need I say more?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Award-winning performances

Winner, Best Arrangement, Best Original Song

Second Place

Best Soloist for I Will Survive

Best Original Song; Best Soloist

Second Place International Finals

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why Susan Boyle makes me sad

Moosebutter's award-winning song, "Psycho the Musical" (Thanks, MaxedOut Puppetry, for the music video--directed by the lyricist, I might add), is one of my favorite and one of the most consistent belly-laugh getters in their repertoire.


Because when we have an expectation, and someone tweaks it or twists it or messes with it or outright knocks it out from under us, it evokes a surprising and often intense emotional response--and when it's in a circumstance that is controlled, where we feel safe, the response is often delight (rather than disappointment or confusion, which we often feel in real life when expectations are not met). This is the foundation of comedy, magic, and infomercials.

'Psycho' works because it plays with a number of normal human expectations, like that a beautiful voice will sing a beautiful song, and the subject of a beautiful song will not be murder, and that that particular tune goes with a certain set of very familiar words, and that humans must use the bathroom, and what the phrase "music of the night" actually refers to, and that a particular bit of very familiar horror film music is instrumental and therefore never sung, and that you are familiar with the film "psycho"--at least a little bit. Moosebutter challenges all these assumptions, evoking delight and laughter as it repeatedly sets new expectations throughout the song and then, just when you're comfortable that you once again know what's going on, they blow you away again, bringing on another chuckle or rofl.

Good humorists know that comedy, by messing with our expectations, is successful not only if it gets laughs, but also if it provides 'ah-ha!' moments where we, in great delight but without guffaws, look at the world in a whole new way, even just for a moment.

Now, if you haven't heard of Susan Boyle, go to and search for her name and watch the video of her performance at the Britain's Got Talent competition. I'll wait.

Now that you've seen it, here's what I think:

There are a thousand women in the world, or maybe a million, who can sing like that. But the basic assumption we have is that beautiful voices come from beautiful faces. The producers capitalized on this, cutting together the film to emphasize the extremely rude reactions to the woman's appearance on stage (since politeness doesn't make good TV) from both the judges and the audience, using that to set or emphasize our own expectations, as viewers, that beautiful songs come from beautiful birds. After all, nobody wants to be reminded that peacocks can't sing or that most canaries are brown plain janes. If Susan Boyle had been beautiful, her song would not have been nearly as well received, and certainly wouldn't have become a YouTube sensation. She might not have even got through the audition round. We like to root for the underdog, see the "Jack" topple the giant, watch the little boy expose the Emperor's foolish nakedness, and root for the little frumpy cat-owner who is a virtuoso in disguise. And producers like to sell a story--ugly woman impresses simon cowell--more than they like to sell a voice.

The reason this bothers me is that it simply furthers the damaging idea that normal people and people over the age of 18 can't have talents--and if they do, it's so unbelievably noteworthy that it takes the world by storm.

It's damaging because it cuts us off from getting the benefit of the talents that God gave each of us to benefit others and because it discourages us from developing our talents when we aren't young or beautiful (and most of us aren't). I honestly went through a period of severe disappointment and discouragement when I turned 20 because I had graduated from college and hadn't 'made it' yet--at 20!--because the world teaches us that the definition of success is fame and the key to fame is being a young prodigy. It wasn't until I was 24 and my eye doctor (of all people!) commented that I was awfully young to be writing a book did I realize what I had been believing and how dangerous it was.

The other thing that makes me sad about the Susan Boyle phenomenon is another culturally and emotionally dangerous idea that is embedded in it.

On the clip I saw, before Ms. Boyle sings, the judges ask her, essentially, what she wants to be when she grows up. She says she wants to be a singer. The judges go on to ask her why, if she wants to be a singer, at 47 years old she isn't one already?, the obvious implication being that she can't sing or she would be a singer already, if that's what she really wants. She says, "Because I've never been given the chance."

THAT really bothers me. In music (and probably other fields), nobody GIVES you anything. They don't come beating down your door asking you to work for them. Like in publishing and any other field where the supply exceeds the demand, they put the opportunities out there and then have the freedom to pick and choose who they want. If you've "never been give the chance", that means one of two things to those of us on the other side of the audition table: either you're no good, or you're not trying.

Since clearly Ms. Boyle does have the talent, then I place the blame for her 'never having the chance' firmly in her own lap. She could have been auditioning for things, saving her pennies and releasing a cd of her own music, putting her voice online, singing in every community event. She could have done like a thousand other hopefuls and moved to a city where there actually ARE opportunities and then started performing in every audition and venue that would let her. She could have been singing on street corners, for city festivals, for local talent nights, at open mic nights in bars. She could have, at the bare minimum, put herself in a town with a community theater (or started her own) and spent the last 27 years on stage in a local area, sharing her talent with at least those around her. She could have been out networking with other performers, meeting the local professionals, sending demo recordings to or otherwise meeting local producers and recording engineers (not the big ones that work for record companies, but local guys). She could have tracked down an indie recording label or studio and pitched a project to them.

In short, she could have been working the local circuit. Just like the rest of the musicians in the world who want to do it as a career. And if there wasn't a local circuit where she lives, she could have done like the rest of the musicians in the world and moved to a place where there was one--it's not like she was giving up a job (since reports say she's unemployed). And I'm not advocating moving to a performance town to "make it big". I'm saying she could have done like the rest of the musicians I know and go where the auditions are and get any old podunk job she could while she pursued her passion as a hobby or second job on the side.

Now, it may be she WAS doing these things, but a hardworking musician isn't a story--the public much prefers to hear the cinderella story, so a smart producer would try to bury those facts and really emphasize the 'out of the ashes' angle because it makes a bigger story, drawing bigger audiences and theoretically therefore selling more products for the advertising sponsors of the show. Either way, it's what the public is being taught that makes me sad and frustrated.

There are two massive myths in the public about careers in music, and this idea of 'being given the chance' embodies both. One is that the only career in music is massive, worldwide fame and huge fortunes. This is, in my mind, akin to a person developing a great product (and make no mistake, selling your voice or performing skill is turning it into a product just like if you developed a new energy drink) and planning for it to be in every household in the world within 2 weeks. Or akin to an entrepreneur opening a little storefront somewhere and assuming they are an utter failure if they don't eclipse WalMart within a couple months.

In reality, a career in music most often parallels careers other entrepreneurs have: they produce a great product, spend a fortune marketing it, and are content to have a positive income and be able to support themselves by selling it on a local level, with a lot of work, a lot of free samples, and a lot of luck. Do they dream of nationwide distribution? Probably. Are they considered hugely successful with consistent regional distribution? You bet. Most successful products are widely recognized on a regional level and unknown outside their region. Do most have to be content with steady local business and operating in the black most years? I'd guess the answer is yes.

Saying you've never been given the chance also pushes the "myth of discovery"--the idea that the only way to a career in music (which is understood to mean fame and fortune, not steady work with steady pay) is by "being discovered". Not by hard work. Not by developing a fantastic product and then marketing it like crazy. Not by investing time, money, and labor in your product. Not by any action on your part.

How many times have performers said, in response to the question, "how does it feel to be an overnight success?", "If that was overnight, it was the longest night of my life."

Getting 'discovered' and becoming an 'overnight success' takes 10 years or more of hard hard work, and years and years of using your talent to give the best performance of your life, night after night, to crowds of 5 people, three of whom are your relatives, and then spending all day honing your craft, marketing your product, improving your show, and working. And then sometimes something happens that you can't control that rockets you into the national spotlight, but more often than not, you have to either carefully engineer the opportunities to be seen by more of the right people, or be content with a regional presence and just enough money to scrape by if you live modestly.

Success in music is not fame, and certainly not money, for most professional musicians. For most, success in music is getting enough work that you don't have to quit. It's being content being the entirely disposable second guitar player in the third-tier but long-running show in some obscure, dirty casino. It's paying quarterly taxes as an independent contractors, performing and rehearsing at all hours of the day and night, living without health insurance, and going for periods where no money comes in at all. It's having a fantastic reputation among people who hire (not among the legions of cd buyers, but among the production managers, producers, band leaders, recording engineers, and other musicians)--a reputations for being reliable, showing up on time ready to work, doing your job perfectly, being easy to work with, taking feedback--both praise and criticism--with dignity and grace, and getting the work done both quickly and accurately, and being talented. It's a reputation that every businessman needs--as a person who provides the advertised product with good customer service, high quality, on time, and for the agreed-upon price.

Talent is certainly part of the equation. Hard work is. Lacking an ego but having a great deal of humble confidence is part. Being easy to work with is. Knowing your business is. Honesty is. Hard work is. Luck is.

Getting "discovered" really isn't part of the equation. Neither is a desire for fame or money or a diva attitude.

And that's the bottom line. Nobody is going to GIVE you the chance. In music, you have to take chances (in both senses of the phrase) and make chances.

And that's what makes me sad about Susan Boyle. I'm excited for her success and wish her all the best, but I am sad for the legions of dreamers who want it all--fame and fortune--handed to them on a silver platter, and who think that the way Susan Boyle got it is the way it's supposed to be done. It's the gambler's dream, and Satan's plan, and a detriment to our society. And it just got a big shot in the arm by a poor frumpy cat lover who got attention more because she shattered our media-defined and driven expectations than because she can sing.

Did I just read that?

From the package of meat I bought last night:

"Turkey Breast
With White Meat"

What other kind of meat is in turkey breast? White meat is a defining characteristic of turkey breast, is it not?

So what else did they put in there with the white meat? Bones? Skin? There's not much else in turkey breast, after all....

Monday, April 20, 2009


We finally got in and got Caleb glasses today. We saw a fantastic eye doctor who did well with him and his fidgetiness. She said his "vocabulary is jaw dropping!"

Then we looked at glasses--and the people at Pearle Vision said we'd have to pay $65-$85 above and beyond what Medicaid covered, and that anywhere else we went, it would be the same, and that we couldn't get scratch-resistant lenses unless we paid even more. Medicaid here covers $75 for frames, and Pearle didn't have a single kids' pair that cost less than $99.

I was a little frustrated. I mean, you can't even get on Medicaid if you have $85 to spare. Seriously. That's a week's worth of food and diapers for our family of 7 lately.

I called the two other chains that accept Medicaid and found they each had about 5 pair we could choose from, and both had stores in the Meadows Mall. So we went there.

It turned out that the ONLY section of Sears that was closed was the glasses store.

So we went to LenseCrafters and had a fantastic sales lady whose name I forgot (cute redhead...). When I had called they had indicated I might have to pay $10, but no more than that. The sales lady immediately pulled out six pair of glasses that Medicaid covered 100%, all of which looked nice on Caleb. He delightedly picked out a pair with gold wire frames that looked great for now, and a pair with blue wire frames for another day (I'm not sure where that idea came from, but it worked for me). Then we wandered the mall for an hour while they made them right there on the spot, and Caleb wore them home and really really likes them.

He looks great.

His words, spoken with great delight, "I look like a learned professor!"

copyeditor needed?

from las vegas craigslist gigs: "casting female actresses - action/comedy movie "

I wonder--are there male actresses?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I can't believe this exists--homeschooler's heaven

This is the coolest "pre school" site ever. The activities and information is far closer to my kid's interests and academic levels than any of that oversimplified garbage schools use. I am so excited about this I'm tempted to get the kids up out of bed to play on it.

It's like, but for science and art!

Moms and Dads start here:

Cool learning resource

Dunno how I didn't know about this before, but here you go:

Fantastic resource, and some of you really ought to be contributing to this.

Updated Bread Recipe

Since I make all our family bread (without a bread maker), I have plenty of time to mess with the traditional recipe I learned from my mother, which requires no kneading and makes fantastic bread.

Here is the recipe I am currently using, somewhat modified from my mother's recipe:

Put into a kitchenaid mixer bowl in this order:

1/8-1/3 c sugar
2 tsp salt
1/3 c oil
1 tbsp yeast
2 c hot water (bathwater hot)
4 heaping (as heaping as you can get them in one scoop) cups flour (plus up to 1 c more as needed)
2 eggs (optional, but improves the loft of the finished loaves--makes them raise to be huge--and adds protein)
6 tbsp powdered milk (optional, but improves the crumb, or texture, of the bread and adds nutrients)
1/2 c mashed potato flakes (optional, but keeps the bread moister longer, increasing the 'shelf life', corrects for the extra moisture of the added eggs, improves the texture--soft but slightly dense--and adds nutrients)

Mix it using the dough hook on low until it forms a slightly sticky, heavy, sort-of-uniform mass around the dough hook. Play with it in your hands for about 30 seconds (It will be lumpy; don't worry about it), and then put it into a greased bowl and microwave for 10 seconds. Turn it over and microwave 10 more seconds. Cover (I use plastic wrap, lots of people prefer a damp towel with a plate over it to keep it damp). Set in warm place (I heat the oven to 100 degrees, turn it off, and put it in there--it keeps the kids from snitching). Let it raise 3 times for 30 minutes each, punching down between. After 3rd raising period, divide the dough into equal parts (2 for large pans, 3 for medium bread pans), form each part into a rough log shape in your hands, and put it into greased loaf pans--2 large ones or three medium ones. Cover and let raise 20 minutes. Turn on the oven (I have to take the loaves out at this point) to 350 degrees and let the bread raise for 10 more minutes while the oven pre-heats. Bake for 30 minutes. Dump loaves out of pans immediately after they come out of the oven, cover them with a damp cloth or damp paper towels and a dry cloth (I drop the hot pads on top) to let it cool and soften the crust.

I have made this dough into bread, pizza crust, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, navajo fry bread (except a Cherokee woman told me I actually made Cherokee fry bread--apparently the difference is the presence of yeast in the dough), dinner rolls, bread bowls for soup/chili, bread sticks, "hot pockets", deep fried hot pockets (better than the baked variety by a thousand times), and play dough (that wasn't intentional--one of the kids thought they were helping). I might have tried it for pretzels.

Easy and excellent--you can even slice it thin and it holds together!

Deseret News needs a dictionary--or a spell checker

The first line of the article:

"Evidentially Marie Osmond was booked."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Minestrone by 2s

What do you do with leftovers?

Traditionally, you make soup.

So we did.

What we discovered is that Minestrone is the perfect leftovers soup. The recipe is incredibly flexible (3 cookbooks I consulted had 3 different recipes!), and it tastes good and is relatively easy.

Here is the recipe I used today:

1-2 tbsp minced dried onions
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 sticks of celery plus the leaves, diced
2-4 tsp beef bouillon powder
2 cups of water
Boil these 5-10 minutes, until the veggies are just tender
Then add:
2 cups leftover noodles with meat sauce (I used last night's shells, but spaghetti would work, just run a couple knives through it scissors fashion first to break up the noodles some)
1/2 c leftover canned bean with bacon soup (or up to 2 cans of any non-chili-flavored beans you have sitting around)
2 tsp italian seasoning
garlic salt, salt, pepper to taste
water to cover the ingredients or as much as you need in order to feed everyone (I added 3 1/2 more cups)
Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes or so to blend the flavors.

This is one of those "add what you have" soups: some people skip the meat or noodles, some put in all kinds of veggies (green beans, cabbage, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes or canned tomatoes, frozen mixed veggies, etc...whatever you have on hand). Some people use ham, sausage, or bacon instead of the hamburger I use.

I serve it sprinkled with grated cheese and bacon bits, with toast on the side.

More goofs from Fox News

"Staff Sgt. John Dresel was the first U.S. soldier to testify that he witnessed Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich shoot a fellow soldier during Bozicevich's Article 32 hearing"

Just WHEN was the shooting again?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Funny Kids

Today I asked Benj, "What are you working on?"
He replied, "Pee."

The Tortilla Chronicles Part 2

I found a new tortilla recipe here:

It took me until tonight to get around to trying it, and it was FANTASTIC.

I made 10 tortillas instead of the 8 gorditas the recipe instructs you to make (I just divided it into more dough balls and rolled them thinner is all). It was easy and tasted so so good.

Caleb ate a couple and then said, "Maybe we'll have to go to home made tortillas [instead of store-bought]." And insists that they taste wonderful as peanut butter and jam roll-ups. (And I agree!).

These tortillas were easy, cheap, soft yet pliable, and tasty (So that Caleb and I ate all 10 within a half hour--most of them just by themselves, unadorned). They had barely any fat in them (2 tsp vs half a cup or more for most tortillas) and more than quadruple the amount of baking powder (which might explain the light and fluffy texture).

Elmer's glue-all

"Elmer's Glue-All Multi-Purpose Glue," says the front label. "Bonds Strong. For _All_ Your Needs."

Do they really mean that? I mean the all your needs part. You know--needs? Food, shelter, clothing? Really? Oh, and does it change diapers, do laundry, make dinner, and pay bills? Those are some of my needs....I guess it's non-toxic if you ingest it, and works on cloth if you don't wash it, and you might try gluing a house together.....

On the back, it says, "Bonds most porous materials such as paper and cloth, and semi-porous materials such as wood and pottery." and also "Use on clean, dry surfaces over 60F....Note: Not for photos, bare metal, submerged or heated surfaces."

Doesn't really match my definition of "ALL".....or needs.

Update on Turkish Delight

I haven't tried it again. But I traced the recipes through my cookbooks (from the turn of the 20th century to now) and I've come to this conclusion:

Turkish Delight was the ancestor of those sugar-coated gummy orange slices you buy at the store, as well as of Applets and Cotlets (which I haven't seen for sale in years).

The Tortilla Chronicles

We ran out of tortillas, and I got this crazy idea that it might be cheaper to make my own (like it is with bread) than to buy them every week.

And I remember doing it in Young Women's and thinking it was easy. So I dug up that old tortilla recipe from my beehive years.

And it was easy.

But they came out tough and rubbery with crunchy edges and didn't really taste very good.

It was a pretty standard recipe, so I figured I must have used a bad technique that left them leathery.

I did dig up a different recipe that gave good details on what makes them fail (ie not be soft and pliable) and I'm going to try that. I'll keep you posted.

A serial novel blog?

I've always wanted to write a serialized novel. It seems like it would be a fun thing to do.

So yesterday I got this idea that a blog would be a perfect place to do that.

I also had the idea that it would be a fun way to write a collaborative serial novel (like I'll post the first chapter and anyone is free to submit a second chapter, and I'll pick one, and we'd go from there).

So what do you think?

Would you want to read a serialized novel? How often would I have to post new chapters? Would you want me to leave it open to collaboration? How long of a chapter would you really prefer (or, alternately, how long is too long?)

Feedback would be appreciated here--email it to me or post it in the comments for all to see.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Potty training

Dan went through two rounds of antibiotics, right on the tail of each other (and without success at restoring his hearing at all!). He got a wonderful yeast infection from it. So no diapers anymore.

Sad, but not too sad.

Because now he's potty trained.

He was totally resisting it, too, so this has been a blessing in disguise.

It went really smoothly, too, as it usually does when you wait until the kid is 3 1/2. He's been 100% successful as long as he's buck naked. We had a few hiccups with the underwear thing--I forgot to explain that it might feel like a diaper, but it doesn't catch pee very well, and Dan was legitimately surprised when he had his first accident.

My experience with potty training has been consistently that it's easier to train a kid to naked and then to underwear than it is to train them from diapers right to underwear.

This time, I'm training him to wipe himself right away--I tried it the other way twice and found it's hard to get them to change from what they learn the first day of potty training, and I'm not fond of wiping poopy bums for years and years.

My potty training secrets? Wait until they're at least 3 years old unless THEY show distinct interest in it earlier than that (and some kids do, but none of mine have), bribe them with treats, and offer a big reward after they completely give up diapers (usually my kids get to pick a toy that costs the same as a package of diapers after they've been out of daytime diapers for 2 weeks and agree never to go back except at night).

Easter Party Day

We have our egg hunts and other Easter parties on Saturday so that we can keep Sunday focused on the Christ part of Easter.

So today we had 'easter.'

While the kids were waking up, I drew bunny shapes on wax paper and filled them with melted chocolate chips--viola! chocolate bunnies for pennies instead of dollars. I stuck on a marshmallow for a tail and an unmelted chocolate chip for the eye while they were still hot, and they were pretty cute. Those went into the fridge to cool while we did our egg hunt.

The kids were so anxious to find the eggs that they voted we color boiled eggs AFTER the egg hunt. So I separated the plastic eggs (9 for each kid; each kid assigned a certain color so they don't have to fight or have one person find all of them or any of that other aggressive stuff that is part of easter that I don't think is at all appropriate--especially considering the holiday is supposed to be about Christ). Rather unexpectedly, Dan picked the green ones (the hardest to find), Anda picked the blue ones, and Caleb picked the pink ones. Go figure.

Then I poured what was left of the 4 lb bag of mixed candy I bought (some of it was used for potty training treats--every time Daniel used the potty, every kid in the family decided they were entitled to a treat, so we ate about half the candy before we got to easter) into a bowl and set it on the floor and told the kids to fill their eggs. Then I actually had to get down on the floor with them and teach them how to put as much candy into each egg as possible. My sweet and anxious-to-be-good kids were putting one little candy in each egg! I wanted none of that. I was ready for the candy to be done and gone, so we stuffed those eggs. The kids had to fill Benj's eggs for him because he was more interested in--no, not eating the candy--playing nintendo. (He recently made the hand-screen connection and now is adept at playing nintendo and using the mouse on the computer--and he's not even 2 yet!).

The kids hid each other's eggs in the yard. We don't do the Easter Bunny thing, opting instead to let the kids have one of the few experiences where they truly have someone else's abilities and interests in mind--far more than when they, say, try to buy presents for each other. They really enjoy it, too--some more than finding eggs. Anyway, once the eggs were hidden, they went out to search.

Benji had no idea there was candy in the eggs, even after we showed him. But he got the concept of find the egg and put it in the basket okay, and mostly had a delightful time dancing around the yard with his toothbrush (which I included as part of the easter prizes). The kids had "planted" lollipop gardens for each other, which was really cute. Daniel filled 9 eggs, found 4, and was satisfied and started eating his candy, so we all had to help him find the other 5. Each person had one or two eggs they just couldn't find without help, so it was just challenging enough.

And then they came in and ate candy.

And played nintendo.

And round about 7:00 they got around to the boiled eggs. We only did 3 cups of dye, a handful of crayons, and 2 dozen eggs. I gave each kid 6 eggs. Anda and Dan happpily dyed their eggs. Benji tossed his back into the pot of water they'd cooled in, half-peeled one, and then ran off. Caleb carefully colored one egg, took a picture of it, and then handed it to me and said, "Please make all of mine into deviled eggs." I guess he wanted that more than egg dye. So I did.

I suppose it was a successful Easter. The kids were happy. It followed my motto of celebrations with as little work as possible. It rained last night, tamping down the dust, but it was nice and sunny today, so it was fun to play in the yard together. There were treats and eggs. Not any fights to speak of. I guess we win.

Things we skipped that don't seem to have made a stitch of difference to the children (parents, take note--are you working too hard and spending too much money?):

the Easter Bunny
Easter-themed candy (okay, I bought one single bag of foil-wrapped egg-shaped chocolate candies for $1, and the kids thought it was really fancy)
storebought easter grass (I taught the kids how to accordion-fold paper, and we cut our own)
store bought chocolate bunnies (we made 5 for about $.60--next year I'll have the kids make and decorate their own)
easter baskets (the kids broke all ours months ago; I said "find something to put your eggs in" and they did--we had an empty ice cream bucket, a yarn baby supplies holder, and two non-easter type baskets)
fancy egg dye kits (I always get one the week after easter for about $.05 and save it til next year, and this time we only used half of the tablets)
fancy plastic eggs (we got the cheapest ones at WalMart last year and saved most of them)
easter dresses/bonnets and suits
easter cookies/cakes
live bunnies/chicks
community egg hunts
pre-filled, cello wrapped baskets

It seems to me that the kids are more concerned with following general traditions (the simpler for me, the better) and doing something together to mark the holiday than exactly what that thing is. The kids want the fun of an egg hunt, and the fun of decorating eggs. You don't have to do all that fancy, expensive stuff for them to get what they want, and they are well-served by not having their expectations about life set artificially high. After all, they won't remember THIS easter or what they got or didn't get, only that we did easter, and we were together and all happy, and that it was fun. And THAT is what matters.

Friday, April 10, 2009

a nice explanation of yet another reason we homeschool

The glue that holds religion together.

"While I do believe Gibson's account makes sense, I also know that when it comes to faith, tradition is a powerful glue that holds religion together." Ben Wedeman, in a CNN article found here:

This comment struck me.

I think it's generally true. Tradition seems to be the moving force and motivating factor behind most religion. The ceremony or lack thereof, the beliefs and actions, the study traditions, preaching traditions...even the rebellions are all tied up in tradition.

Except for the Mormons.

I hadn't thought about this before, but we seem to have very little actual religious "tradition". We completely encourage family traditions as a way to promote family well-being. But overall religious tradition? Not encouraged.

In fact, have you noticed how welcoming the church is to change? Oh, we're not open to change in doctrine, since we believe that is absolutely NOT based on tradition, but based on truth revealed by God. But all things not revealed? We're constantly looking for better, more efficient, and more effective ways to run our programs, help families, extend aid to those in need, and generally function as a religion. Interesting, isn't it? For a church accused of being mired in tradition, we are, in fact, one of the least tradition-based religions in the world.

There are rituals, but we don't consider them traditional. We repeat them by rote year after year, and sometimes week after week (like the sacrament), but we by no means consider them traditional because traditions are the ways MEN run their lives and are open to shifting and changing, if subtly, year after year. Our rituals are repeated, but they are not traditional. They are revealed. We follow these rituals not because of traditions, but because it's how God told us to do it, and you don't mess with his instructions.

I suppose you could say that the major difference between our religion and others is that the glue that holds them together is tradition, and the glue that holds us together is revelation. It is, at it's heart, the issue of dead versus live religion. If the glue is tradition, or rebellion against the tradition, the religion is driven by the past. It is not dynamic and changing, but dead. The only way for a religion to be living is to be founded not on tradition, but on revealed truths (the same revealed truths that were the foundation of the traditions years ago, but minus the "gossip game/telephone game" phenomenon).

I'm not completely negating the value of tradition here. In fact, the central concept in one of the novels I'm working on is that if we dispense with religious traditions because we don't understand them or have forgotten the source, we risk dire consequences. If you change a tradition you don't understand without the knowledge of the truth behind it, you run the very real risk of destroying yourself and your world.

But tradition is, at best, a weak and imperfect stand-in for revelation and understanding of truth. Yes it can protect us (like accepting the views of traditional marriage and traditional family can keep us moving in the right direction even if we don't understand the impact of those things--which we still don't). But when it becomes more important or more comfortable than truth, in a very real sense it becomes a tool that Satan uses to keep people from finding the truth. Even the rebellion against tradition is completely tied up in the tradition and impossible to use as a method to pure truth. (Standing in the shadow of a wall, or pushing against it, or even working to knock it down--your focus is still on the wall, rather than on what it might be holding up, holding back, or otherwise functioning as.)

Tradition may be the glue that has held religion together, but glue eventually breaks down, cracks, becomes brittle, and loses its sticking power, sometimes all at once, and sometimes just a piece at a time until the entire structure is a fragile, unidentifiable mess. For religion to really stick together, it requires something stronger than glue.

That something is Truth. Not 'truth' we ferret out using our own minds (especially since those are so often structured around dealing with the traditions in one way or another). Not 'truth' we create and label as 'from god.' Truth Revealed. Truth directly from God.

It's the sealing power that binds us to God, and isn't that what religion is really about?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Before you get your dander up

All over the news today are headlines saying that having children weakens marriage, and that studies indicate that childless couples are happiest.

If you actually read the studies, that's not what they say at all. It's just an example of the press being anti-family, anti-marriage once again.

You can read about the studies here:

It turns out that both childed and childless couples experience declines in marital happiness--it's just that the sudden stress of having a baby can bring it on in one fell swoop instead of gradually.

A quote from a professor mentioned in the article:" "Declines are somewhat normal in marriage," Stanley said. "For those having children, they are going to be more concentrated around the time that you have children." What the study doesn't capture: the richer, longer-lasting contentment that comes with building a family together, he said. "While there is a strain on the marriage from having children, a lot of couples gain this sort of deeper thing that you are growing as a family," said Stanley."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: marriages take attention and commitment.

I know couples who got divorced after the birth of their child. It wasn't the child's fault. Generally speaking, the marriage wasn't great before the baby, and the baby didn't cause the discontent--but also didn't cure it.

I think the results of the study shouldn't be taken to mean we shouldn't have children if we want to be happily married. I think it would be more beneficial to look at the reasons people are having children and the expectations they have.

Also, the study indicated the 'most romantic' couples had the most trouble. I think it's a mistake to equate 'most romantic' with 'most happily married.' The two are not interchangeable. In fact, I know couples who have had 'romantic' nights together in the midst of their divorce proceedings. It had nothing to do with happiness and everything to do with great sex. Perhaps the reason the 'most romantic' couples have the hardest time when a baby comes is they have founded their marriages on romance, and that is absolutely NOT a solid foundation for a marriage. If your entire concept of marriage is tied up in romance, there sure would be a baby shock. Having done this a lot of times, I can tell you that when you've just had a baby, every 'romantic' part of your body is in serious pain for months, and your hormones are all screwed up, and you are deeply and intensely sleep deprived just when you need extra sleep to heal, and you have a very small, very helpless person making unbelievable demands on your time and energy. A decline in romance is NORMAL. I pretty much don't want anyone to touch me for at least 2 months after a baby is born, even to get my attention, except on my terms. Given that, if I identified marriage as romance, or if my husband did, and if I didn't have the real commitment to the marriage, I might not give it a chance to bounce back, evolve, and grow.

I guess the bottom line for me is that before kids come, being married is easier. It's easier to be satisfied, romantic, and take time for each other. After kids come, taking time to pay attention to each other is harder because there's less time to go around, and there are constant interruptions in everything from casual conversation to prayer to sex. BUT my experience is that the level of happiness in your marriage (separate from 'this deeper level thing that you are growing as a family', which is still child-centered) actually grows with each child. It's not that the happiness grows automatically, but the potential grows exponentially--you just have to take advantage of it. Every marriage is going to have challenge involved, and every marriage takes attention and action to stay happy. But having children involved makes the potential for happiness greater and longer-lasting.

Besides, the couples I know who want kids and can't have them aren't exactly happy either. Being unable to have children puts strains on marriages, too.

And, having just barely tasted that pain for a year before I was able to have children, I can say without question that, given the two options, I'd pick the stresses of having children over the pain of not.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Parents say the darndest things....

I caught myself saying to someone recently, "I can't understand you when you have a dog in your mouth."

Add that to the list, along with "I'd rather you hit the cat," "It's not real dirt" and such things that I never dreamed would come out of my mouth.

Kids are funny

Today I turned on the LDS General Conference (thanks for the links, J. Max! ) and President Thomas S. Monson started speaking. Daniel was playing by my feet and I asked him, "Do you know who this is that's talking?"

He listened for a minute, and thought, and then a big grin came all over his face and he said, "Heavenly Father!"

This evening, Anda found the walkie-talkies that I got Caleb for Christmas two years ago. Nobody has EVER played with them. Not even on Christmas day, and I just found them both and put them away in the 'science stuff' cubby a few days ago.

Anda brought them both in and helped me change the batteries, and then I taught the kids how to use them. Daniel was totally uninterested--I could see on his face that he was confused by the "push here and talk, then say 'over' and then listen" thing. When should he push the button? When do you say over? How come he couldn't hear Anda? Anyway, Caleb was totally excited about them.

Especially when they discovered the Morse code chart on the front and the 'beeper' that sends the Morse code. A few minutes later, Anda (who was standing behind me in the kitchen) said, "Caleb, stop sending those beeps. I can't understand them! I don't know Morse code."

Then I heard Caleb's voice coming through the walkie talkie. "Hey, Anda! You interrupted! I was sending you a text message. Don't talk to me while I'm texting you!"

Morse code....the original text message.

the final update on 2009 competition season

The final competition was today, and Tim's record stands: every group he has ever entered in the Harmony Sweepstakes has won an award.

Tonight, the 4-man Elvis tribute band, the King 4, took 3rd.

Throat, the new all-vocal rock band (with all original music--think Pink Floyd, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Rush only with a nice-sounding lead singer....) got an award for Best Original Song.

So the next step? I suspect it will be a showcase concert of all the groups so I can see them perform. Okay, not really just for me. So everyone can see them. But I will be there. I don't know when that will be. We had thought mid-May, but Tim might have a gig across the country right then, so we don't know yet....

Thursday, April 02, 2009


It turns out that Tim and I are both so characteristic of those with Delayed Sleep-Phase Syndrome (or disorder, depending on how much is messes up your life) that when we volunteered for a genetic research study on sleep, they were happy to hear from us.

Apparently this Delayed Sleep-Phase Syndrome is genetic, and research indicates it is a dominant gene.

If this is the case, then more people in my family ought to have it, right? And at least one of my parents should right?


But my mother, her sisters, and her mother all have sleep patterns characteristic of a different circadian rhythm disorder called Advanced Sleep-Phase Syndrome (where you go to bed and get up unusually early, instead of late). They say this syndrome is unusually rare. (I suspect it's not rare in occurrence, but only rare in incidence of reporting because people with ASPS have nothing to complain about--they get up in time for work, school, and church, so it wouldn't be seen as the disorder that DSPS is. The world is set up for morning people.).

My quick studies of the literature on these disorders indicates they focus entirely on the treatments of the disorders, not the neurobiology involved. Both are treated as separate but related disorders.

I have a different theory. I think they are genetically the same disorder: Your circadian rhythms are being regulated by something other than light, resulting in a shifted sleep-wake cycle that is not regulated by light like most peoples'. Whether is is shifted early or late is significant on in the choice of treatment, but shouldn't be classed as separate disorders.

I'll keep you posted on how all this develops.

Silver Wedding Rings

Like I said before, I've been thinking a lot about marriage. So here's another post on marriage.

My husband and I have sterling silver wedding rings. We bought them in the year AFTER we were married. To me, they are a more appropriate symbol of marriage than gold rings. At least, of my marriage.

Tim and I agreed when we got engaged that we would avoid all unnecessary debt, both because of the wisdom of it and because it's a commandment. As a first step in that direction, we agreed not to buy wedding rings until we could pay cash for them, thinking that we'd save our pennies for a year and then go ring shopping like so many people do before they marry (and so many get into debt over). So our non-gold rings constantly remind me of the commitment we made to each other to enter our marriage in wisdom and with the commandments in mind, despite what tradition or culture we lived among.

Later in that first year of marriage, we took a long trip all across the country. One day (it was a rainy day), we were in Boston and wanted to go to Plymouth. My uncle, who we were visiting at the time, suggested that we not go that day because the weather was so cold and miserable. We considered his advice and then made our own decision--to go to Plymouth anyway and enjoy the weather. It turned out to be a WONDERFUL visit. We were the only people there besides the costumed historical interpreters of the site. We rescued a turtle that was trapped high-centered on a fence rail. We spent a long time discussing freedom of religion, cultural mores, life in that time period, our dreams and thoughts and life passions. It was a fantastic day, and as the park closed, we went into the gift shop and bought Tim a sterling silver ring that is unique in being concave in shape. It's a replica of a ring found in a burned-down theater; there is an inscription on it in old french that says something like "don't forget me." This ring cost us $25, and we paid cash.

This ring is far more meaningful to us than a gold band would be. For one thing, it is attached to a wonderful memory of us choosing our own path and it being fantastic, despite the rain. This is awfully symbolic of our whole lives so far--we've ended up choosing a non-standard path that many people advised us not to take, and it's been wonderful, despite the rain. It also has been interesting that the unique, concave shape makes it as comfortable to Tim as any of the expensive "comfort bands" he tried on when we were looking at gold rings years ago--for hundreds of dollars less. We've found this to be true in many areas of our lives--often there is another, simpler, cheaper solution that is just as good as the expensive ones. It has been fun for him to be able to tell people the story of the ring. And I suppose it ought to be significant that it has that inscription, but I've never thought much about that, despite the fact that he travels without me a lot, and often to places where I know other women are looking at him with googly eyes because he has that gorgeous voice, is handsome, and was singing on stage. The memories attached to that ring are far more valuable than any simple gold band ever could be.

Sometime in the next year, Tim found for me an exact copy of a puzzle ring I'd worn all the years we were dating that I loved but lost. This sterling silver puzzle ring became my wedding ring. I always thought it was a gorgeous ring, with four interwoven bands that fit perfectly together, but only if you know how to do it. Only one boy ever fit the ring together perfectly without my help--and it wasn't Tim. Why do I mention this? Because it reminds me often that in a marriage, we're not supposed to have to figure our spouses out without help like a puzzle. We're supposed to work together, and to show our spouses (and outright tell them) what we believe, need, think, want, etc, and how they and we can best fit together to make one beautiful whole. Fitting with your spouse is not supposed to be a challenge that you conquer without help. It's okay to teach each other things. After all, I couldn't figure out how to put the ring back together myself either--I had to be taught, too.

The other thing this ring reminds me of is that together we are strong, while alone we are not. Over the years, I've found that I break rings frequently. Thin, delicate, beautiful rings always crack when I wear them for extended periods. This ring is made up of four distinct bands, any one of which I would break in a few months. Together, they are unbreakable. Our marriage should make us stronger as a whole than either of us is as an individual.

But why sterling silver? Why not have these precious rings re-made in gold so we have that "eternally shining" luster?

Because marriage isn't like that.

Silver is more symbolic. See, silver is bright to the point of whiteness when it is polished. But, left alone and untouched, it turns black fairly quickly and can't be restored to luster without some work or some caustic chemicals. BUT if you wear a silver ring constantly, it stays bright and polished just by constant use. Silver doesn't tarnish unless it is neglected.

THIS is how a marriage is. Not automatically, eternally bright. It stays bright to the point of beautiful whiteness quite readily, as long as you use it and wear it constantly. If you neglect it, it quickly tarnishes and looks dull and black and is hard to restore. But if you give it daily attention and care, it stays bright and beautiful.

There is a place for behaviorists.....A Guest Post by Beth Huntington

There is a place for behaviorists, and I'm sure if you introduce them to it slowly, with consistent and appropriate rewards for steps in the right direction, they won't mind the heat so much when they get there.

In response to my last posting about the behaviorists crowing that they were right about ADD being treatable with their methods, my sister, who has ADD, wrote me. She has struggled for years with ADD, and has found that medication is a godsend. Her words were pretty powerful, and she gave me permission to post them here as a guest post. I love this because it so fully and powerfully expresses the frustration people have who live with ADD and have to deal with the prejudices against them and their treatment plans.

From Beth Huntington (her blog is here:

ADD is far from behavioral. Any adult with ADD can tell you that. I have never wanted to behave badly. In fact, I never knew and still never know when I am doing something that is unacceptable. So all I can say is that they are full of crap....

Okay so I am tempted to post this on my blog but since I can't sit down long enough to write a whole blog at once I will write it to you and I will try not to swear cause stuff like this really ticks me off. It makes me feel so not valid when I know that it is not me that is wrong, but that my brain is wired a bit differently. All those health people can go jump in the lake because I didn't spend hours in front of the TV as a kid and I don't as an adult.

I have ADD and I have had it for as long as I can remember and it's not just cause the doctor told me so when I was a kid because I wasn't diagnosed until I was 23 years old. When I started taking medication my doctor told me this: "You need to change your diet. Higher protein diets will be better for you. Make sure that you increase your exercise, sleep enough and start drinking whole milk. I don't know why, but for some reason it helps the medicine work better."

I have been taking medication for 3 years now and it still works for me. It works better if I don't have it for a while, but it almost always works. It stops working when I eat the wrong things or am not exercising enough.

Brain scans and other tests have shown that people with ADD have a slightly different wiring than those without and frankly if everyone was "normal" the world would be no fun. Everyone would always be worried about what other people thought about them and only acting like everyone else told them to.

So all those doctors can bite the wall! I will tell them personally where to go and how to get there!

Amen, sister.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

no fooling--real ad from craigslist las vegas


I wonder what pick-up lines would work on this coach?