Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Did I just read that?

From the NY Times:

"Acorn to Stand Trial in Nevada Case"

What was the crime, failing to grow into an oak?

Did I just read that?

"Blog Writers Wanted - Consistent Work - No Experience Necessary in Las Vegas - (Las Vegas) <<creative gigs"

Experience outside Las Vegas, however, is mandatory.

Did I just read that?

from Las Vegas Craigslist:
"Actors audition for new parts - (lv) <<talent gigs"

Clever new way to avoid plastic surgery?

AWESOME homeschool article

This one just got better:

From google news:
Including that picture and the short excerpt just made it all more laughable! We don't eat enough vegetables that look at you? We don't eat enough Veggie Tales Characters? Veggie Tales Characters are being watched by the Center for Disease Control?

Eating in America Still Unhealthy: CDC

U.S. News & World Report - ‎Sep 29, 2009‎
TUESDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Most Americans don't eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, says a US government study released Tuesday.


I have always taken these verses of scripture (from D&C 121) to be a guide to my parenting (sorry for the lengthy quote):

"36 That the arights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be bcontrolled nor handled only upon the cprinciples of righteousness.
  37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to acover our bsins, or to gratify our cpride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
  38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to akick against the pricks, to bpersecute the saints, and to cfight against God.
  39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the anature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little bauthority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise cunrighteous dominion.
  40 Hence many are called, but afew are chosen.
  41 No apower or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the bpriesthood, only by cpersuasion, by dlong-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
  42 By akindness, and pure bknowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the csoul without dhypocrisy, and without eguile
  43 aReproving betimes with bsharpness, when cmoved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of dlove toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
  44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of adeath.
  45 Let thy abowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let bvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy cconfidence wax strong in the dpresence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the edews from heaven.
  46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant acompanion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of brighteousness and truth; and thy cdominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever." 
So when Daniel started a new phase this week, I didn't quite know how to jump. See, he called my bluff. His latest claim is, "You can't control me. You can't control anything."
Each time he said it, part of me wanted to assert my authority as mother. Another part of me heard that verse, quoted above, running through my head, "exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved;" 

Really, he's right. I can't control him. I can't control anything. 
And you know what? 
I don't even want to. 
I've just wondered if he is old enough and mature enough to understand the implications of what he has grasped--that if I don't control him, HE has to; that obeying is not the same as being controlled; that "when we obtain any ablessing from God, it is by bobedience to that law upon which it is predicated." (D&C 130:21).   
Can a 4-year-old understand that when NOBODY is in control (including our own selves), chaos and unhappiness ensue? Can he understand that we have rules to benefit us? Can he understand that when I say, "Go potty and get in bed", I'm not trying to control his soul, but merely trying to help the whole family run smoothly for everyone's benefit? Can he understand that Tim and I have always made it a point to allow EVERYTHING in our family to be up for negotiation--but he has to be able to negotiate, not yell and storm out? Can he grasp that teaching isn't the same as controlling? And that it is my responsibility to teach him, and that I have been given specific instructions by God (Mosiah 4) in regards to the stewardship he has granted me over his children (who are also now my children)? Can he see that God also gives us instructions, and we can choose not to follow them, but it doesn't lead to joy and peace in our lives?

I suppose I ought to sit down with him sometime when he hasn't been yelling, "You can't control anything!" and talk to him about it.

I think I also need to deal with the core issues in his life, which seem to be a sense of insecurity (and no wonder, with us unsure of when and where we will land more permanently, waiting for job applications and auditions to settle out one way or the other, and Tim gone on tour!). In fact, he looked at me tonight and said, "You can't control anything. Because Grandma is in charge of you and SHE is the one who can control things." How's that for insecurity--he is trying to sort out the fact that the ultimate authorities in his life actually bow to a greater authority? (How does that work and how does he fit into the new order of things?) Understanding this concept will help him understand a relationship with God, but is a 4 year old mature enough to grasp willingly stepping aside to a greater authority--without losing any of your own? Or that my relationship with his Grandma is founded on respect and love, willing obedience, service (both ways), and honor, not Grandma CONTROLLING everything?
He also came in the other day and said, "I'm smarter than Anda, right Mom?" And I said, "I don't know about that. She's smart and you're smart, but I don't think either of you is smarter." "No," he replied. "I'm smarter." "You are smarter in some things, I'm sure. And she's smarter than you in some things. God made us that way so we would need each other." Anda was standing right there, by the way. Dan looked at me and shook his head. "I'm smarter than Anda, and I'm smarter than you, too," he replied firmly.

See? Plenty of hints that I have a child in crisis. He's reached that age when he is big enough to understand and choose things for himself. He's self-aware. He's starting 1st grade, so he's getting lots of good educational challenges that he's succeeding at (pretty good for a guy who just turned 4!). But there is lots of instability in our lives right now--lots of chaos, lots of people all the time who do things different than I do and are still happy, lots of mommy not running the show....

I think it's time for Mommy to swoop down not with greater bossiness and insistence, not with a good beating and more firmness in the rules, but with lots of hugs, love, listening, talking, hearing what he has to say, good meals, snuggling, praise, attention, and reassurance.  And also with a greater measure of good-old-fashioned grown up respect, a little more responsibility, and some added freedom wherever he can get it.

Daniel is in what I call the "verges"--one of those ages where he is in a gap between two worlds--in his case, between toddlerhood and childhood--and those times are hard for kids (others include age 2--between baby and toddler, age 12-13--between child and teenager, etc.).  Those are the times when the children are suddenly ready for more freedom, and when parents are caught off guard and don't know if their child is ready. Those are the times of conflict, frustration, fighting, and establishing new patterns of interaction. 

In other words, they're times when the kids are ready to grow up. 

And we, as parents, have to strike that gentle balance between letting them grow and loving them through it.

Homeschooling Resource Recommendation


It's a great resource for homeschoolers.

How can a movie service be useful for homeschoolers?

Sign up for their basic package (about $10/month), and you get access to hundreds of "Instant play" movies online, including bunches of educational children's programming (LOVE "Cyberchase"--teaches math skills, problem solving, and working together) and tons of documentaries.  TONS of them. All that play instantly on your computer or TV (here, the TV is set up as a second screen for the computer, so we play stuff through the computer onto the TV). Also, we can watch a lot of the movies that go with the books we've been reading ("Princess Bride" anyone?), which is both fun and educational, along with classic films.

So now, to supplement our Language Arts, Arts/Music, Science, and Social Studies curricula, we're watching documentaries on mammals, mayan linguistics, history, jazz, etc. Fun fun stuff. I love NOVA, and now we can have it instantly, any time of day or night, to add to what we're learning.

What Daniel Did in the Lions' Den

After hearing the story of the prophet Daniel in the lion's den, my son Daniel said, "Do you know what I was playing with those lions? Fetch. And Checkers. And then Throw the Imaginary Bad Guy."

Did I just read that?

from craigslist las vegas:
"We are 3 ex-pro players ( Guitarist, Bassist and Drummer) looking for a Vocalist WITH YOUR OWN EQUIPMENT to join us."

And how does a vocalist NOT have their own equipment? Not like they can just put their instrument down and forget it somewhere.

Math Answers, by Caleb

Trying to get Caleb to do math can be tricky. He gets intolerably bored, he says.

So today I guess he tried to spice things up. I found these as answers (all correct, btw) on his assignment when he was finished:

("Doing a code here, mom. Just use shift to figure it out.")

17-9= @77@(|<
("It says 'attack.'")

5-2= #07
("It says 'hot'")


5-4=yeek! a tower!


8-5= #0r53


d. C's answer

9. $one less than a hundred

14. 9 (hooray for TNR!)
("That's Times New Roman, Mom.")

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Did I just read that?

"Eating in America Still Unhealthy: CDC
U.S. News & World Report - ‎7 hours ago‎" (from google news)

What do they want us to do, NOT eat in America?

Monday, September 28, 2009

What's new?

I have been an inconsistent blogger lately.

And now Caleb is hanging around waiting to write on his blog, so this will be just a short update.

We won't have any news about the Sing Off audition/casting process until the show speaks publicly. Even if Tim were to hear, the audition application included a nondisclosure clause, so he can't even say if his groups got cut. So that's a little anxiety-provoking for me. Rumor is that people who get onto the show have to move to LA for a month. If that's the case, it brings up a minefield of issues for me--like what about the other 6 of us? But we won't know until it's yet another rush job. Naturally. I never move easy.

Meanwhile, Tim is leaving on a double tour on Tuesday--off to Vegas, home for literally ONE day, and then off to Colorado and Wyoming with moosebutter. 10 days total, split in the middle. He'll miss our anniversary (which is no big deal--we both missed it last year simply because we both forgot). He'll be home for my birthday.

Then, for the rest of the year, he'll probably be in and out, here one week, gone the next.

So that's us lately.

I'm antsy to start writing. Kids are having a BALL playing in the plowed fields (digging up old toys, dozens of golf balls, miscellaneous broken metal things, rocks, marbles, etc), picking the overabundant produce (plums, peaches, grapes, blackberries, gages....). Loving the fall weather. Glad we're not in Vegas, although that might change when we hit the cold front next week!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Did I just read that?

from craigslist las vegas:


Is this like a Mail Bride? A Mail Singer? Or does he just sing the stuff the US Post Office brings, country style? And is it okay to have drunks who aren't drinking? And what are all those apostrophes doing hanging out in there? Maybe they were drinking.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Did I just read that?

From "Ghosts: True Encounters With the World Beyond: Haunted Places, Haunted Houses, Haunted People" (yes, the book has TWO subtitles), a grotesquely oversized book (758 pages, 8x11",  all filled in double columns of 11-point type), by Hans Holzer.

On  page 169, in the midst of the description of their arrival at a site Holzer claims is Camelot (even though his own medium reported it was a monastery of some kind called "Gwainelod") we get this gem: "There we were, Catherine in a wine red pants suit, the driver somewhere by himself looking down into the village, and Sybil and I trying to tune in the past."

What does a wine red pants suit have to do with anything? And if the driver was "somewhere by himself" then how can he be included in "there we were?" And, for all you grammar geeks out there, that "Sybil and I" in the last part of the sentence is debatable--shouldn't it be "Sybil and me"? (It should run parallel to "There we were, Bob eating ice cream and me eating pickles.")

Then, on page 174, describing a strip-tease joint in London, he says, "It isn't the place to take your maiden aunt, but you can take your wife. The last time I visited..., I was somewhat startled by the completely nude bartenders, female, popping up behind the bar of the upstairs club...." (emphasis in the original).

So THAT'S the kind of place you take your wife?  Funny, strip tease clubs are not high on my list of places wives generally like to be taken. In fact, they aren't generally known as a place you take any kind of date. What does he think men are there for--the conversation?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Did I just read that?

I found this box in my mother's pantry and snapped a quick photo of it. I'm not sure I need to say anything else about it except that we had a good laugh. This is NOT a photoshopped image (you can tell by the quality). That's really the word that appears on the real box.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Ice Cream Complaint

So I complained a couple months ago about the shrinking ice cream boxes.

Now there's a new ice cream racket.

See, about a year ago this "less than a dollar a box" product appeared in the ice cream section of the store. It was "frozen dairy dessert". Of course, being a cheapskate, I tried it. The kids loved it, and Tim and I thought it was fine. Not so rich as ice cream, but sweet and...fine. And cheap. It came in only the basic chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavors. Since the main ingredient was skim milk instead of cream, I assume it was cheaper to produce and (though I never checked) a little higher in sugar to counter for the lower in fat.

So now we have ice cream companies trying to pass it off as ice cream and trying not to tell you they sold you a non-cream product.

For example, Dreyer's Loaded. It's NOT ice cream. It's frozen dairy dessert, with the first listed ingredient in some flavors not even milk--it's whey (a byproduct from the cheese-making process). But it looks like ice cream and the "frozen dairy dessert" label is so small it's almost invisible on the extremely busy ice cream box.

Nutritionally, it's not the same. For example, the Double Fudge Brownie ice cream has 20 carbs, 7g fat, and 3 proteins per half cup. The "Loaded" Double Fudge Brownie Frozen Dairy Dessert has 23 carbs, 5 g fat, and only 2 proteins per half cup. There is the issue of whether skim milk or cream is actually more likely to make you gain weight. (There are studies out there indicating that children who drink whole milk are less likely to gain weight than children who drink skim or 2% milk. Some people think it's because skim milk removes the fat but leaves the milk sugars). And whey is supposed to increase insulin production, so it will hit your body different than cream does. Not to mention the fact that it's "LOADED" with extra carbs to counter the lack of richness from missing the cream.

Of course, this isn't healthy food anyway, so what does it matter?

And it does taste good, although without that rich creaminess that ice cream has.

Just be aware when you set out to buy ice cream--some kinds have more sugar than others, and some kinds have more fat, and some aren't even ice cream. You have to read the box.

See, I'm not the only one who thinks insurance companies are evil

Did I just read that?

This is from a really sad story about a toddler who died. The problem?

"It crashed onto the child, killing her. Her 17-year-old parents were performing CPR on her when police arrived.
The fire department took the little girl to a local hospital, where she later died.",2933,555161,00.html?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a16:g2:r5:c0.155624:b27939384:z0

She died twice.

Today's Minor Victories

1. Best bubble bath I've ever drawn for the kids. We had no "bubble stuff" so I squirted a couple teaspoons of baby shampoo into the water while it was running. Lots of big, fluffy, long-lasting bubbles. Downside was the same as other bubble bath--how do you rinse it off when it's in the water?

2.  Everyone did school today. And when Tim sent me into time out when I got frustrated during a math lesson (kindly), I actually calmed down, thought of a different way to teach it, and jumped back into the fray. Success!

3. Dinner was both made and eaten by 6/7 of the family. Hamburgers go on the "fix it again" list.

4. I reminded myself that something that was hanging over me, causing fear and trepidation, was speculation, not coming at me right away, and not even necessarily going to come at me--and I managed to calm down, cheer up, and forget about it!

5.  While I didn't manage to say no, I didn't let a really persuasive saleman get me to say yes, either, despite the fact that I was working in my worst medium--over the phone. I do much better by email or speaking in person. I don't much like talking to machines.

6. I helped harvest peaches and dealt with the ones that were on the edge of spoiling.

7. I made time to "rest" on the hammock with all three little boys--something Benjamin values above almost all else.

8. I walked in a field holding hands with my love and talked with him about what was in my heart--joys and fears.

9. I watched a tractor and plow working with Daniel and we actually spent time observing and discussing it.

10. I made bread.

11. I didn't lose my temper when someone peed on MY bed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Family Home Evening

Tonight, we threw together another family home evening. Being a kind of loosely-structured, creative family, we don't usually remember to plan FHE in advance, but we usually manage to have it anyway.

Here's how it went:

Well, we started at 2:00 am, interrupting Caleb's math lesson so that we could get to FHE before Tim had to start his evening's work (We're prepping to record no less than a dozen all-vocal albums. No joke. And still digging for gigs, arranging music, and all that other stuff Tim does all the time. Not to mention he picked up 4 more very interesting projects today that we're both intrigued by and excited about.)

First, we had an opening song ("Popcorn Popping") and then an opening song ("ABC") and then started an opening song ("I Am a Child of God").

Then we had the opening prayer.

So far so good.

Then there was some debate about who was going to give the lesson. Daniel wanted to teach a "music lesson" that somehow involved him banging on a little toy piano. Anda wanted everyone to be taught a lesson on how to cut apples into squares. Tim had a stack of church magazines in his lap and an idea for a lesson that was for real. Tim eventually got to start teaching. He gave everyone a magazine and we talked about what kinds of things God wants us to learn about, how we can learn about those things, what prophets do, and where else we can get God's word (like the scriptures!). It was a great lesson, which the kids were thoroughly involved in and I participated in as much as I could, including defining "stretching a dollar", while I dealt with the potatoes that were just done boiling right then.

Then Anda went to grab apples and knives (we talked her out of it), Daniel started banging the piano (we talked him out of it), Benji and Dan begged to taste the potatoes (which they did), and then we settled back down for the closing song and prayer.

Then we had a closing song (I think it was "ABC" again) and another closing song ("We are a Happy Family") and another closing song, all at the top of the kids' lungs, concluding with "Love at Home," Dan's favorite (and also delivered at the loudest volume the kids could muster), and interrupted with a lengthy quote from "Blues Clues" by Benjamin (a good part of it in Benjamese) starting with "A clue! A Clue! I see a clue!" and which he was frustrated I was unable to take the "other part" of--all because he noticed that there was a pawprint on Daniel's Blues Clues shorts. Then Tim took the second part of the Blues Clues dialogue, and sang a bit of the mailbox song from Blues Clues (which sent Benji careening around the house singing the rest and doing the dance while he ran).

When Benji finished, Caleb said a nice closing prayer.

Then everyone kind of drifted away, talking about the "activity" (which we always drift away discussing and never actually have) while I went in to finish dinner.

Thoroughly happy, I wondered aloud to Tim if the person who wrote Love at Home ever had kids. Where are the songs celebrating the joyful, noisy chaos of a family having fun and learning together? Whoever said a happy family consists of peaceful, quiet, churchlike atmosphere must have abused their children because healthy, happy kids aren't like that! And I don't think they should be.

I love having a big family!

I realize most families plan a little better, have FHE charts to make sure everyone gets turns to do something each week (instead of doing it like we do, where everyone gets turns to do all of whatever they like each week), do an organized activity, have a snack, have a reverent and quiet lesson. I kinda suspect most families don't sing "Twinkle Star" multiple times for both songs every week for two years.

I don't regret the way we do it, though. Our kids love family home evening. It works for our family, in all its chaotic, unplanned, by-the-seat-of-our-pants, noisy "structure". It's fun. When we forget, the kids literally pray that Mom and Dad won't forget family home evening next week. Nobody complains when we call it's time for FHE. It's short. It's fun. We learn a lot and laugh a lot and love a lot.

And isn't that what it's about?

Did I just read that?

This isn't error-laden, it's just plain funny. Best ad I've ever seen on Craigslist:


Looking for college drop-out polynesians, 20s, preferably named david. (west jordan)

Date: 2009-09-21, 9:17PM MDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Seeking sassy side kick that will be a good spring-board for my jokes. Must have interest in Classic cars and Mens health magazines. Love of board games a plus.

Serious inquiries only.

  • Location: west jordan
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: no pay
PostingID: 1386224167"

Did I just read that?

I don't think this means what the company posting the ad on craigslist thought it meant:

"Autistic Tutor Needed - (Utah County)"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I think this is awesome

As long as google is sticking to public domain works, I think this "print a book" plan is a great service.

Just as long as they stick to PUBLIC DOMAIN works.

more laughs

The Promised Update

So, what happened in LA?

Everyone keeps asking.

There is a non-disclosure agreement in force, so Tim can't say much.

What he did say was that he, personally, is extremely pleased with the outcome. He also clarified that the fact that 3 of 5 groups auditioned was actually HIS choice, not cruelty on the part of the system. Moosebutter (Las Vegas Cast, with Tim singing both solos), Wonder Voice (Kai on both solos--she's incredible!), and 5th Avenue (not Tim's group, but one he respects a great deal and who invited him to join sometimes) all sang, sang well, and got a good positive response.

He said he thought the producer who was there was fantastic.

He saw a lot of the top professional groups in the nation there--and some he'd never met or heard of before.

Some groups have reported they were not going on (so some already know). Tim doesn't know yet. What we DO know--and knew going in--is that they can't cast 3 groups with the same members, or even crossover members. So there would have to be some discussion there.

Tim has likened auditioning for Reality TV to being in a callback for a play that is only partially written. It's NOT a talent show where the most awesome act wins. Just like in a callback/casting situation, in the end it has very little to do with how good you are and everything to do with what they need in the show. They have certain roles in mind that need to be filled, and if the best possible choice for leading lady is 4 feet tall, then having a 6'6" leading man might not cut it--even if he's more talented than the short guy who matches her better. Does that make sense?  The producers of the show most certainly are trying to showcase top talent because people want to see that. But when almost (if not absolutely) all the top professional vocal groups in the nation show up to audition, it's more about filling roles than finding talent. They were ALL qualified, but you don't have an interesting show if it's made up of 8 all-guy groups that sing covers of pop songs in similar ways. The producers, I'm sure, were looking for interesting TV--groups that were good on camera, good in interviews, fun, talented, could do what the show needs them to (including, rumor has it, arrange their own music), and that aren't all the same. They need a mix of ethnicities, a mix of styles, a mix of specialties (have you noticed the good pro groups all seem to specialize in one or two genres?), a mix of group voices (all-guy, mixed, all-girl).

SO, despite the fact that Tim's groups probably did well enough to be on the show, and certainly were received well, and weren't cut outright like some groups were--we don't know if they got into the show and won't until the producers take the audition reels to the casting team and executive producer, and the hash out the details and how they want the show to go--and that might not involve mb, wv, or 5th Avenue.

Or it might.

Did I just read that?

from google news:
"Milk Consolidation May Harm Transparency, Varney Says"

Milk isn't usually transparent anyway.

"Milk Consolidation"--isn't that what happens when you leave milk in a bottle for a few days (like under a bed)?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tim's Auditions This Weekend

People keep asking me what's going on, so here's the scoop:

Tim is in LA auditioning for the new NBC reality series "Sing Off." There are over 200 groups auditioning for 8 slots, so chances aren't very good. Tim is auditioning with 5 different groups, 4 of them his. Each group gets 3 minutes to present one piece and were instructed to have a back up piece ready just in case. One of the two was supposed to be a "recognizable cover". Saturday is the last of 4 days of auditions spread across 4 cities. Groups from the first day are already getting call backs.

Despite the fact that Tim is well known for having groups that are not your "run of the mill" a cappella groups, we have little hope of any of his groups getting into the show. Because of the nature of TV, we're sure even if they liked more than one of the groups, only ONE can be put on the show (how would it be if the TV audiences could see that 5 of the 8 groups were actually Tim competing against himself? Might turn their show into a comedy--Tim trying to arrange and present 5 songs each week, and then getting cut and "sent home" and then showing up the next week still because his other group is still there?).

Also, judging from what we know about TV, we are pretty sure they aren't looking for the 'best' group--they're looking for 8 groups that will give them really intriguing, fun-to-watch TV. That usually means groups that have high chance of breaking down and fighting within themselves during the taping, or groups that are outlandishly fun to watch and full of antics offstage, too, or groups that are so incredibly amazing that people are awed, etc. These people aren't running a competition, they're searching for stories to tell that will be compelling and make people come back next week to see what happens--stories that make you love and hate the characters, and stories that shock and awe or elicit a "oooooh, puppies!" kind of response. They are looking for characters. With 200 nearly indistinguishable (sorry, acappellaheads, but if you're totally honest with yourselves, you'll admit it's true) a cappella groups around, Tim's "differentness" will be an asset, but not necessarily enough to even get him a second look.

So, with so little hope, why did he even go? It felt right. Every audition he's done in the past year has taught him unbelievable amounts of valuable stuff. And we agree with Mosaic--the path to success in vocal music is to do every audition for everything possible. So off he went, dozens of costumes in tow, to audition.

The groups: King4 (4 Elvises--Elvi?--singing a cappella arrangements of Elvis songs); Wonder Voice (an a cappella cover band that has "Tim" arrangements--not run of the mill, in other words); Plumbers of Rome; and moosebutter. He's also singing bass for a really awesome Vegas jazz group called 5th Avenue. Toxic Audio also auditioned, and, although he's not involved in this one directly, he IS the principle understudy for 2 of the male parts.

Below are videos of some of the audition pieces, but not the actual auditions themselves (which happen tomorrow) or even the casts he took to the auditions.

Wonder Voice, just "I Will Survive" (7:24-10:37), but with "Across the White Rabbit" (3:30-7:10) as a back up:

Plumbers of Rome, just "Tainted Love" (0:00-3:30, but watch the whole thing--I LOVE their "Fred Jones" and "No Digggity"--listen to the variety in their voices! And those instrumental sections? Richard does a killer cello.) One of those others is the back up, but I don't know which:

moosebutter, but not this cast for either song:

and the long version:

I think their back up is "Canada" or "Witch Doctor." Not sure.

There are no videos yet of the King4, but I think they're singing "All Shook Up".

And 5th Avenue, who I think might be singing a disco song they just arranged as their principle audition piece, but I think the other is "How High the Moon." Tim is singing bass. They're really really good. Here is their promo video:

Did I just read that?

from google news today:

"Uninsured More Likely to Die, Study Finds
ABC News - Emily Walker - ‎49 minutes ago"

More likely than what? 

Hey, if health insurance even gave the slightest chance that you'd NOT die, wouldn't everyone get it? 

Since this is, technically, also a family blog:

I know....after the list of things I posted today, you're sure you're looking at the blog of an English teacher, right? Maybe a copy editor?

Yeah, being a mom doesn't beat those things out of you. Moms still have interests and talents, believe it or not.

But, since moms are ALSO interested in their children, here is the monthly baby update.

Nathanael turned 8 months old on the 9th of Sept. About a week ago, he started talking. He says, "This" and "That" and points with his pudgy fingers and seems to know what those words mean. He also says, "Is? Is?" meaning "What is this/that/it?" It's very cute.

Then tonight, he crossed whatever barrier was holding him back and started crawling around the room. Slowly. But he crossed the room in both directions by himself. He's my first child to crawl using the normal crawling position--two hands and two knees. Everyone else crawled two hands, one knee, and one sideways leg or foot so they could get to sitting really fast and get playing with whatever they caught.

So now I'm looking around with an eye to baby-proofing.

Did I just read that?

from "Please help me with my Singer - <<domestic gigs"

Yeah, singers can be a pain in the butt. Mine sometimes absolutely refuse to learn new songs, and sometimes they show up late for rehearsal and miss their warmups. What's a music director to do?

Did I just read that? is on a roll today: "Dogs Smell Remains at Kidnap Suspect's Home"

So the place smells like dogs. Is that news?

Did I just read that?

'Nother one from today: "Insane Killer Escapes During Mental Institution's Field Trip"

I don't believe institutions generally get field trips. Usually it's the PEOPLE that do.

And then there's the first sentence in the story:
"Police are searching for killer committed to a mental institution after he escaped during a field trip to the Spokane County Interstate Fair." So he was committed to the institution for escaping during a field trip? Interesting.

This is what the guy did that got him in trouble in real life: "In 1987, Paul slashed an elderly woman's throat in Sunnyside in 1987, soaked her body in gasoline to throw off search dogs and buried the remains in her flower garden. He was later diagnosed as being criminally insane and suffering from schizophrenia, KXLY reported." And then this: "It's not the first time Paul has escaped.
In 1990 he walked away from custody and attacked a sheriff's deputy who apprehended him."  So why are they taking guys like this on day trips to the fair? Aren't there some people who are too dangerous to take out? Like this guy?

Did I just read that?

From's home page: "Lawyers Try to Stop Man's Second Execution Try"
He was trying to be executed twice? He tried to execute himself twice and the lawyers got in the way? Drat those lawyers!

From the article:
"Sweeney argues that a second try at an execution is unconstitutional. At the very least, he said, Strickland should further delay Tuesday's execution. Broom "sustained both physical and mental injuries," Sweeney said. "It's going to take time for all the psychic trauma to dissipate. Even if it never goes away, I think it's wrong to try to do it again so quickly in these circumstances.""
The man is a child rapist and murderer. Since when do we wait for murderers and monsters to be psychically at peace before we EXECUTE them? I mean, the first execution failed and so we tell him we're sorry and let him get better and....

This seems a tad ridiculous, doesn't it? Especially considering we tax payers are paying for all his extra days to get emotionally healthy before his second execution.

ANOTHER new blog?

I have been thinking about sharing all my cheap and easy recipes for YEARS--family-friendly, easy, simple, healthy meals from relatively basic ingredients that are easy to put together, mostly fast, and tasty. Most of them I learned from my mother. All of them I've tried.

In response to a friend's request on facebook, I decided to not collect and self-publish, but just post online for all the world to benefit from.

You can access them here:

There's only one so far.

I've only cooked one dinner so far!

But I'll start posting my recipes there instead of here. Go see if it is of any interest. Post comments. Email me recipes to test and post.

Comma Confusion

This isn't a "did I just read that" because it's not amusing. It's just confusing. But the editor and English teacher in me just had to point out two sentences that illustrate why we MUST teach people how to use commas or convince them to hire copy editors.

The trend in the last 15 years has been toward using fewer commas. Despite what your first grade teacher said, you really aren't supposed to put commas everywhere you pause in a sentence, and people are finally teaching that. For example, you never use a comma after the word "because" even though we often pause there in speech and people frequently write commas there.

Unfortunately, this "fewer commas" trend can lead to confusion. This is a sentence that is frequently used to illustrate why we need to put in more commas: "She lived with her parents, a dog and a pig."

By the new rules of comma use, this is a proper sentence. But the meaning is totally destroyed by leaving out the comma after "dog." What the author intended was to say that she lived with her parents and two pets. What this sentence says is that her parents are a dog and a pig.

So you don't want to leave out commas altogether, or even go by the new rules if they obscure the meaning you intend.

But many, many people swing too far the other way.

I read this in "Utah State," an alumni mag, Vol. 15, No. 2, Summer 2009, on page 9:
"Applause, for Craig Jessop, head of the music department and, since May 16, the theater department as well, who conducted a formidable first season with his newly created Americal Festival Chorus and Orchestra and boosted support for USU scholarships at the same time."

This sentence has a lot of problems. The first sentence in an article is supposed to introduce the topic of the article and lead you in. This does neither. The article is about a visit Donny Osmond made to USU for a benefit concert. So the sentence missed the topic altogether. It also is so complex that it doesn't lead you anywhere--a major flaw when the article already has the strike against readability of being printed in white text on a black page (a no-no for easy reading).

The main problem, though, boils down to a misplaced comma. Do you already know which one?

Yup, the first one.

As it stands, this is a fragment of a declarative sentence. "Applause" is the subject, followed by a bunch of clauses that modify each other but are what I call "disposable clauses"--they aren't necessary for the sentence to be understood. Take out all those disposable clauses, and you are left with this supposed sentence: "Applause." Not much of a sentence, is it?

BUT, if you remove that first comma, the sentence magically transforms into an imperative sentence (a command). Remove the disposable clauses and you get, "Applause for Craig Jessop." The rest of the sentence is still crap, and mostly still disposable (although the last clause is important to understand WHY we need applause for Craig Jessop). It's still not a good sentence, but at least there is sense in it this way.

There are actually several ways to fix this sentence:

"Applause for Craig Jessop, who conducted a formidable first season with his newly created Americal Festival Chorus and Orchestra and boosted support for USU scholarships at the same time."


"Applause, for Craig Jessop has conducted a formidable first season with his newly created Americal Festival Chorus and Orchestra and boosted support for USU scholarships at the same time."

Better, still, would be just to say: "Craig Jessop conducted a formidable first season with his newly created Americal Festival Chorus and Orchestra and boosted support for USU scholarships at the same time."

See how this final example is actually a stronger, more appealing sentence? It's a better lead in to the article and more likely to keep people reading despite the horrific page layout (white on black!!!) and unflattering photo of Donny Osmond and his dancers (with a bulldog cellist in the background who is both more sharply in focus than the star and clearly NOT amused by the act he has been forced to accompany--see a low-res version of the picture by hovering over "6. Headliners for Scholarships" here: Click the link for the article.)

Despite the fixability of the sentence, I would still scrap the whole thing and start over with a sentence that introduces the ACTUAL topic of the article (vs the ASSIGNED topic of the article which is alluded to in the first 2 paragraphs and then never really discussed.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Did I just read that?

Sent from a friend, Andrew Cannon, a writer who is shopping a novel to agents right now, from a form-letter rejection he received:

"I'm sorry, but I am probably not the right agent for this work."

Andrew says:
"There's no "probably" about it. If you don't want to represent my book, then you're DEFINITELY not the right agent for the work."

I agree. "Probably" doesn't soften the rejection, it just weakens it. Either you ARE or you AREN'T the right agent for the work. There's no need to make yourself look wimpy or indecisive in order to not hurt a writer's feelings. It's a REJECTION after all--the writer isn't going to be happy even if you say "probably."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An interesting set of questions regarding universal health coverage

I would like answers to these questions, too.

It's easy to state the truth that health care should be available to poor people. I know we've certainly suffered from lack of access (and from what access is available being crappy). But certainly it's not a problem to solve in a month using money nobody has right now!

Taking time to debate will improve the end result. And these questions are good ones to start with.

I would like answers to these questions, too:

Headline from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

You mean to OVER 100%?

Dying is generally considered one of those rare certainties in everyone's life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Did I just read that?

"Now Booking Live Painters - (Las Vegas) <<creative gigs"

Good thing they aren't booking DEAD painters!

Normal times? Nah....there never have been

Tim is hiding in the mattress-box in the bedroom recording and re-recording songs that need to go out as demos and rehearsing for his Saturday auditions for the upcoming NBC reality show, "Sing Off" (which he is auditioning for no less than FIVE times singing 3 different voice parts in 5 different groups).

In half English, half Benjamese, Benji is filling in the dialogue and songs for "Aristocats" because the speakers are turned off and he doesn't know how to turn them on. He's getting the sound effects, too, but mixing some of the lyrics. "Everybody. Everybody. Everybody wants to sit down in the finking chair and fink, fink fiiiiiiiiiink. Everybody wants to be a cat." I noticed he was doing this when I heard him over there saying, "Swinger. Swinger? Swinger." If you've seen "Aristicats" you know what he's talking about.

Caleb is playing Mario fangames online, trying to get ideas for his own games that he is making on the computer, or possibly making a walk-through to post on YouTube. He's only just 8, but this is his favorite thing--to make games and teach others how to play them.

Anda, age 6, talking babytalk, is discussing motifs from literature, infusing characters and situations from her favorite novels and shows (Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, and "Cyberchase") into Caleb's game (they frequently do running commentaries--like duo short story writing--explaining the fiction--plots and motivations--behind why the little figure on the screen is jumping on platforms) while she draws "the Cybersquad".

Daniel is preparing to "start school" for the day--he is 4, but just entered first grade. It's cute to see him doing introductory transformational geometry with his baba in his mouth and his favorite stuffed animals gathered around his feet.

Nathanael, 8 months, is alternately trying to pull the characters out of the tv, eat a sock, and try to use the mouse to click on things on Caleb's computer.

And I am blogging, finishing up the final details on an art quilt AND on the next section of my novel at the same time, and realizing that I like life this way. And also that we are weird.

But I like us weird. I don't particularly want to be more normal.

So why do I spend so much time longing for a normal life? Perhaps it's time to accept what we have and enjoy it instead of spending so much time wondering when we get to settle down and be like other people.

We're never going to be like other people.

But there are plenty of people to fill that role.

And not so many to fill ours.

So we're gypsies.

Maybe that's what we were meant to be?

Did I just read that?

from google news:

Mediation Program for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure
- ‎10 hours ago"

If the mediation program is facing foreclosure, too, I wonder what kind of good they did their homeowner clients?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Did I just read that?

So, in case you haven't been following this, a Yale student disappeared just before her wedding, and after a few days of searching, cops found her body hidden inside a wall on campus. Then today we got this headline in the LA Times:

"Police: Annie Le's death 'not a random act'"

I don't know if the newspaper or the cops are the idiots. Most of us don't stuff bodies into walls in one of those, oh, you know, random acts that happen every day.

Of Mice and Toddlers (and recording booths)

For the past 5 years, we've had a home studio. We call it the Bat Cave, and if you look at Tim's CD liners, you'll see reference to that. The name came about because at one point, about 8 years ago, we were living in a basement apartment that was accessed down a long, narrow, steep staircase. A friend who happened to be an artist came over and said it was like our secret creative hideout. He went home and then a couple of days later brought us a sign he'd made from metal for our secret lair--it said "Bat Cave."

When we moved into our next house, the spot we ended up dedicating for a studio and office for Tim was an unfinished room in the basement that had low ceilings, concrete floors and walls, and a hole that led into the garage. It looked like a cave. So up went the sign, "Bat Cave". Not long after, Tim started doing the home recording studio thing, and the name stuck. I mean, after all, we had the sign.

(This all is leading to the mice and toddlers. You'll see.)

So Tim's first recording booth, in Colorado, was a tubular metal bunk bed that he stood on end and strapped the mattresses to the outside of with bungee cords. He threw a carpet over the top and recorded (very successfully) in there for years.

When we moved to Vegas with twice as many kids as we'd moved to Colorado with, the kids needed the bunk bed to sleep on, so he started just recording at close range with a good mic right at his desk. He'd done some of this in the Bat Cave before, so he'd worked out how to make it work. (We did have a few recordings spoiled by children, and a few that children noises in the distance were just incorporated into the aural fabric of the song.)

As we toured, Tim learned a lot about recording just wherever we happened to be. I remember him making a very successful recording in the corner of the living room at my mother's house over the holidays when people were visiting not far away (and not quietly) simply by throwing a heavy coat over his head and the mic.

Anyway, we left Vegas and came to stay with my mom for a bit while we look for a new place to land in Vegas, and Tim has struggled to find a recording space. There are 8 farm outbuildings on the property, all with electricity. And all with VERY LOUD Crickets. Since Tim does most of his recording in the dead of night, that didn't work. One outbuilding has a root cellar that would be quiet, but he'd have to carry his equipment down a ladder into a very dark hole with a low ceiling (and he's a tall man who likes to record standing up) and there's lots of dirt to spoil things.

He tried recording in the room where we set up all our computers, but there were two problems: Kid noises and a very friendly wild mouse (see, I told you I 'd get to that) that started using his desk as a highway while he was working, running across it three or four times a night.

Finally, he went into our family bedroom and leaned two mattresses up in the corner, squaring himself a box about as big as a card table--a recording booth!--and he recorded (successfully, again) in there, with two wood walls and two mattress walls.

So the recording thing worked out fine (Christmas music that came out so beautiful the rough copies were intensely moving to me--and they were mostly your run-0f-the-mill Christmas songs, not even religious ones!).

But the mouse thing was an issue for all of us. An expected issue, being on a farm at the beginning of fall, but an issue nonetheless. I mean, the little black thing was frolicking with the children in the living room and openly eating the food in the cupboards.

So we put out mouse poison in places children were not going to be able to get to.

We underestimated Benjamin.

Tonight while I was trolling the 'net for gigs for Tim, which I do frequently, I was only half watching the kids. They're usually fine. I was holding the baby. Benji was playing by my feet. Nobody else gets in trouble.

And then suddenly I heard spitting behind the entertainment center. Alarmed, I leapt up looking for Benji. He was gone. So I stumbled over toys and peeked behind the entertainment center.

Benji was standing there, block of mouse poison in his fist, spitting. There were little teeth marks in the block of poison.

I let out one of those only-moms-can-do-it "NO!!!!"s, scared Tim into the living room in a half second (he guessed what had happened), scared the baby witless (I was holding him and put him down, so I imagine he thought he'd done something wrong), and scared Benji half out of his mind, too.

But there were no chunks out of the poison and he looked fine.

So Benji and I had a spitting contest in the sink. Yes, I taught him how to fill his mouth with water and spray all over. Cleaned his mouth out good and he thought it was fun. And we played "bubbles" and "Scrub scrub scrub" with the soap and washed our hands good. Then he went off to play and I went off to see if I could find the box from the mouse poison to see what I was supposed to do next.

A few minutes later, Benji was trying to shake my cajun seasoning all over the baby saucer, so I went to fetch him and found his palms and fingers had turned bright bright red, and he was acting really quiet (this is unusual for the boy who SHOUTS even when he sings) and tired.

Then I really got panicky. I rushed him in to Tim and we played, "If you're happy and you know it, stick out your tongue" to see if just the places he touched the poison with his hands were turning red (and he acted like they were itchy) or if his mouth was turning red and swelling, too (since we had that walnut scare with Dan last month, we've been a little wary of this). He thought it was great fun to sing his favorite song AND get to stick out his tongue. His tongue looked normal.

And then I noticed the perfect white circle in his palms and remembered there was a leaky bottle of red food coloring in the box with the cajun seasoning with a lid just the size of that white circle. And that he'd just had a major scare (from me screaming) and it was almost 4:00 am and he'd only slept 5 hours the night before so we could go to church. That explained the red and the quiet and the sleepy.

So I got him a baba and Tim put him to bed while I called poison control for only the second time in 8 years (pretty amazing considering we have 4 boys and a very adventuresome girl!). They made me wake my parents to find out what brand of mouse poison it was (and I think I've never heard both my parents swear right in a row like that ever in my whole life! They aren't swearing people. Usually.). Scott, at poison control, was really nice. He said the poison was a blood thinner, so we have to watch him for a few days because it's a slow-acting poison. BUT he also said that they haven't ever had a kid in Utah eat enough of that particular brand of poison to die from it yet. It's formulated for very small creatures, after all. (I'm not telling you which brand because if your kid eats mouse poison, you should call poison control, not just trust that some blog somewhere said it's okay. Some brands can kill kids really fast, apparently. We got lucky.).

When I told Tim, "Everything's probably okay, but that child will be the death of me!", he replied, "He'll be the death of himself first!"

So, relieved, we put everyone to bed (after 4 milk bottles, 3 bananas, 2 cheese sandwiches and one only-jam jam sandwich with no butter and no "lid", each of which had to be fetched in its own trip to the kitchen, naturally). (Caleb asked for a "whole" sandwich so I was delighted when I pulled the pieces of bread out of the bag and they each had one big hole in the middle. He thought the pun was great--he ended up with a "Hole Sandwich").

And now that I worked my stress out by writing all this, I'm going to bed, too.

And then I'll be spending the next three days watching for unexplained bruising on a toddler who does things like fall into the coal bin and play there, jump off the tables, fall down the stairs headfirst regularly, walk barefoot through patches of thistles, fall off the hammock repeatedly and laughingly, and get hit by swinging children on purpose.

Did I just read that?

from craigslist:

What other kind of stories are there?

Did I just read that?

Craigslist--the source of much linguistic confusion!

"You would need to write the songs as well as>rock ..Please send demo or link and "RATES".in fIrst email,others will be deleted."

So songs and music are two different things?

"Style is greater than rock"?

And it seems pretty futile to try to get any dialogue going if they delete all but the first email you send!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why I've Been So Quiet Lately

One of my basic tenets in writing is that EVERY character:
a) is the main character in their own story, and
b) considers him- or herself the good guy, or at least justified (even if they lie to themselves).

Being a writer, I often look at the real world through the lens of fiction. And, since I am the main character in my own story (just like you are in yours), I often compare my experiences to standard fictional motifs, events, or plots.

For example, in the past few months, the hero of our story found her home becoming more and more hostile and uncomfortable. The natives were getting restless, the ogres were starting to march, the resources were running low, the fort was compromised and becoming difficult to maintain, and it became apparent that, for the safety of the hero and those in her care, it was imperative that they flee.

So, in an unplanned and extremely messy move, the hero and her clan saved what they could, gave the rest away, and fled to a distant but friendly and well-stocked castle/farm where they could rest and recuperate while they plotted out the next steps in their adventure. (Note to self: while the author may know how the story ends, the characters DON'T, so it's okay that I don't know how my story ends even though I do when I'm writing). (Second note to self: pray you're living a fantasy adventure and not a tragedy).

Naturally, since things in stories can't stay pleasant, even in the safe and cheerful castle, we were stricken with the plague (or an evil magic spell...aka influenza) soon after arriving. In their weakened state, the spell almost did the hero in, but she was nursed back to health by the extremely generous and friendly locals and family.

Just like heroes in stories, though, living in safety and peace seems not to be the lot of our hero. While it is pleasant, there are missions to fulfill and work to do, plans to make and futures to prepare for, so the stay in the castle is tainted with the knowledge that it cannot and should not go on forever, despite the pleasant walks in the gardens and abundant harvest to be gathered and shared.

Despite the fact that the hero doesn't know what's coming next, she is busy trying to prepare for it....whatever it may be.

Or, if you prefer the more traditional Christmas-letter approach to a family update:

Tim has tours scheduled in Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, and California, so he's in and out. When he's in, he's busy being Farm Boy (if you've read "The Princess Bride" you know what I'm talking about), recording demo materials for his new show(s) he's putting together, and trying to track down the resources to make a demo DVD for his agent so they can start booking him out and taking him to showcases.

Becca is trying to sort laundry, care for kids, deal with suddenly having company EVERY DAY when she's used to living far far away, and make quilts/write novels for relaxation in the 20 seconds she gets free every day.

The kids are trying to learn how to do school with people around. It's taken them a month, but they've finally figured out how to play outside and are dirtier and happier than they've ever been. Caleb got baptized. Anda has decided the hammock is the place to be (though she doesn't use it to relax--frequently it's a boat going over a waterfall). Dan is building, doing 1st grade math, and learning how to be big. Benji is in less trouble because throwing things outside is okay--and so is digging in the fields, swinging on the swings, etc. Nathanael is trying to learn to crawl and sleep through the night. He's fallen in love with tree-ripened peaches. (As have I.) All the kids are delighted to have cousins to play with frequently.

If you happen to be in Utah or coming through, we're staying at a fantastic mini farm (3 acres) in Lehi and would love to see friends and family while we are here. Call or email first if you want to see all of us (since Tim is still touring). Also, the sleep disorder prevails, and we are at better but still odd hours, so don't plan to see us in the morning. And if we fail to call you back, call us again. Things are still mostly chaos here and we aren't always available at normal hours.