Friday, December 31, 2010

You wonder "how do you do it?"

People ask me all the time, "How do you do it?" Homeschooling, raising 6 kids, writing, quilting, music career, etc.

Well, the answer is I have to. I can't help it.

And apparently that's part of being who I am (and what I am).

http://talentdevelop.com/articlelive/articles/1123/1/The-Special-Challenges-of-Highly-Intelligent-and-Talented-Women-Who-Are-Moms/Page1.html

So, like other gifted women who are also mothers, I find myself immersed--in creating homeschooling for my kids, in writing, in my husband's music career, in art (quilting).

Gifted adults often have messy desks and messy houses because, as they all say, "I have better things to do." Tim and I have said that to each other. Often. And have you seen our house? Yikes. Eight gifted people, complete with obsessions, hypersensitivities, and projects, living under one roof. Again--Yikes.

But that's how we do it.

We have to.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Did I just read that?

from boulder craigslist free section: " 5" Round folding table - (SW Longmont)"


For mice. Or very small dolls. Fits in a pocket when folded.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Baby pictures

Elijah Jones


Did I just read that?

The top headline on Fox News.com today: "White House to Push Global Warming Policy as GOP Vows Fight"


Go for it, GOP! Anyone who makes Global Warming their POLICY deserves to be fought against. Even if it is something of a shifting of the expected roles.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Luke II

I watched this movie literally hundreds of times over the two Christmasses I spent at the Visitor's Center at the Arizona Temple on my mission.

And it's not Christmas for me unless I see it. I have a video copy of it, but no VCR this year, so I had to go online to find a copy. There are hundreds with modified audio, but I wanted the real thing. It's so much more intensely beautiful that way.

FINALLY found a copy.

And here you go.  Merry Christmas:

Funny kids

Benji just walked up to me and said, "My eyes can be on." Then he slowly and deliberately blinked. "Or off!"

A minute later, Nathanael yelled, "Mom! Help me! I'm too scary!" (He was stuck on a chair....and scared.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tim does Christmas--for me

This is what Tim makes for me and for family and friends for Christmas:

Once in Royal David's City


and

Silent Night


Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tim does Christmas--for various companies

For some reason, Tim has been asked to do Christmas videos more than once.

We have this one, which is Tim's voice and arrangement, but not his face:



And this one, which is Tim's original song and him on screen:



And there are a couple of holiday videos for JibJab.com:

http://sendables.jibjab.com/holidays/sendables/204445/kazoo_jingle_bells

and

http://sendables.jibjab.com/holidays/category/new_year

(I can't embed it until they release it to YouTube, but do click on the links. They're really fun.)

Tim has also just finished another project for McAfee--one that started before we moved to Vegas and is just finishing up after being tabled for a couple of years. I'll post links once it goes live.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Isaiah....

I love Isaiah. I found this very short 2-verse revelation tucked into a list with a bunch of others the other day, and it stuck with me.

Isaiah 21:11-12. Dumah comes to the prophet to ask when the trials (captivity) will end:


11¶The aburden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of bSeir, Watchman, cwhat of the night? Watchman, what of the night?
Isaiah responds:
 12The watchman said, aThe morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.

So I really liked his answer. The morning cometh, and also the night. (I realize the footnote explains that Isaiah was saying there is another captivity coming, but the verse is meaningful separate from that.).

I've felt that way before. When we moved to Las Vegas, I had just been asking God, "What of this night?" that we seemed endlessly stuck in, and then we ended up with sufficient work, in Las Vegas. Morning! But it was also the night for us--Vegas was an incredibly difficult place to live, and I was surprised when we were there that the trial I had complained of was over, and yet I wasn't any happier. It was just a different hard. Also night.

Lately, I've been asking God again, "What of this night?! How long?" And I find this verse.  The morning cometh, and also the night. Good will come, things will change, but life is not about all mornings. The morning comes, and also the night, and that's what life is about. So perhaps the answer is not to ask for relief, but for patience and the ability to enjoy whatever mornings and nights we have?

Tim had yet another view of the verse when I told him about it. He said that rarely does something exceptional happen. Most of our lives are spent with a literal morning, followed by a literal night, followed by another morning. The sun comes up, and it goes down, and it's very predictable. So what of the night? It's just part of life, and regardless of exceptional events, most days are just days and most nights are just nights, and we just work and pray and love our families, day in and day out, and THAT'S the POINT. That's what we're supposed to do--live the days and the nights and do our duty and enjoy our lives, but not expect or demand the exceptional, not seek for fame or fortune, not wait for life to happen, because even when "big" things happen, the sun will eventually go down, and then come up, and we still will have to eat and sleep and work and love our families. So what of the night? It will be followed by a day. And a night. And another day. So what of it?

Amazing the power and insight packed into the scriptures.

I love Isaiah! Some day, I would love to thank him.

Did I just read that?

From Foxnews.com home page, one of the four top articles:

"Look Out, WikiLeaks:
CIA Sending in WTF"

While I'm sure a few well-placed f-bombs have been thrown at WikiLeaks, I'm not sure that's the best approach for the CIA to solve the problem!


And then if you go to the article, the headline is even funnier: "Intel Community Responds to WikiLeaks With WTF"

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/12/22/intel-community-responds-wikileaks-wtf/

I'm pretty sure there were a lot of exclamations of wtf from the Intel Community when Wikileaks released the State Department Cables.  The reporter DID know what that all meant, of course....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did I just read that?

From foxnews.com main page menu: "Researchers Study Woman Without Fear"

Good thing, since woman is such a fearsome beast!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Did I just read that?

Dear Fox News, Please hire a copy editor. Thanks, Becca


""Somebody chose to invade our lives and create a crime that was unjustified. It’s torn a big whole in our family.”
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/12/17/murdered-missing-unsolved-crime-stories/#ixzz18PoC1aFU"

Sure it wasn't a big half?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The baby

Even less than a week old, all babies are individuals.

Elijah:

Likes to be warm. Really warm. And is finally sleeping better (ie more than 10 minutes at a time) now that we know to keep him toasty warm.

Can hold his head up remarkably well.

Has already given us multiple smiles, including big open-mouthed toothless grins.

Skips the fussing and goes straight to the screaming if I'm not in the room. If I am in the room, he fusses around and smacks his lips when he wants to be picked up instead of outright crying.

Calms down immediately when he hears my voice and quietly waits to be picked up, even if he was screaming his head off a second before. If I walk out of the room, he starts up screaming again until he hears me coming back in.

Hates being poopy, but hates diaper changes even more. Screams through them but calms immediately when the diaper is on.

Loves to feel things with his fingertips (no fists on this baby!).

Starts rooting and trying to nurse when anyone says, "Are you hungry?" or "Do you want to nurse?", even if they don't give him any physical cues what they're saying.

Loves to look at the Christmas tree.



You'd think that 5 days old is too young to be expressing himself, responding to language, learning things, and being involved, but I guess it isn't!

Nathanael holds the baby

Did I just read that?

From FoxBusiness.com today:

"...hazardous working conditions, such as mining for precious metals or jewels in lakes filled with chemicals and nothing more."



Hard to find anything but chemicals if the lakes contain nothing more than chemicals. Seems sort of futile mining there, no?

Did I just read that?



From Fox News today: "Dr Hibbert, who is the secretary of the analytical division of IUPAC, said the periodic table was revised more often than people thought.'These things come periodically, every now and then.'"
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/16/periodic-table-receives-biggest-update-decades/#ixzz18JkNEtzd"



These things come periodically......ha! Wait--don't the elements always appear periodically? Else why call it the Periodic Table?

This is one of the more glib, funnier chemists I've read quoted.  More:

""When we met four years ago we changed the atomic weight of zinc and this caused a bit of furore at the time, because we changed it by a relatively large amount. I know it makes for good copy, but the world hasn't just suddenly decided, like Pluto, 'we've got fed up with a couple of elements so we're going to chuck them out'."

So the Plutonians got sick of a few elements and threw them out? I didn't know there were Plutonians. I wonder if the element they got sick of was Plutonium?

Also, does he realize what he just said about other chemists?

""For most calculations, people will just carry on as before," he said. "A lot of things you do don't require that kind of precision, so we're not going to change the first year chemistry text book and probably half my colleagues won't notice that this has happened at all. The world won't in fact grind to a halt as the result of it, but, for people at my end who do worry about these things, then yes, there will be some changes in the way we do calculations.""

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Did I just read that?

From Google News, a "teaser" taken from a picture caption for the article found here:

"A rash of food recalls, from peanuts to eggs, led to several deaths and new calls for a comprehensive food-safety bill, but it has become stalled in Congress."

So recalling food kills people...and what became stalled in Congress? The bill, or the recall?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baby CAME

A few weeks ago, I had the kids all write their guesses on the calendar of when Elijah would be born. Anda guessed Dec. 11, which she didn't know was her Grandpa Jones's birthday.

She was right.

So, I had been adamant about wanting to do this baby all natural--no medication. Back when I really believed I only had 5 hour labors (which I had, until then).

This time, for some reason, I started into labor on Thursday. I had strong, for-real contractions for all of Thursday, all Thursday night, all of Friday, and well into Friday night. That's well over 36 hours of little sleep. I don't do well on little sleep.  The trouble is, the contractions were only 10-20 minutes apart instead of the required 5 minutes apart. And they sometimes took an hour off, here and there. So I wasn't in "real labor," even though it was exhausting me.

So when the contractions finally got to 5 minutes apart at midnight on Friday night, I was BEAT. Already. And "real labor" hadn't even started. And I didn't have the energy or focus to use any of the natural childbirth techniques I had learned. I was too tired.

At 2:30 am, I decided I wasn't going to sleep it off again, and we called babysitters in (thank you, Heather and Kelly, for waking up when the phone rang!).

3:30, I was admitted to the hospital with contractions 2 minutes apart, strong, but only dilated to 3.5 (36 hours of labor hadn't done almost anything but make me tired). Too tired, I asked for an epidural, hoping I could sleep for a few hours and then have a baby.

5:00, the anesthesiologist came.

6:00, the epidural had numbed my legs but not my tummy. Am I now immune? Who knows, but I was VERY not happy. Doctor tried to re-do the epidural while the nurse, realizing that it wasn't working because the baby was coming "precipitously" fast, started calling in help to deliver a small child. I was so not numb, I felt my water break. And everything else except my left leg and right thigh. And I got to work throwing up, which I always do in labor.

6:19, baby popped out without me even feeling the need to push, and before the doctor arrived. What a relief! And, for the first time, no stitches.

I think the natural childbirth would have been easier if I hadn't been expecting an epidural to work. As it was, the expectation made me angry on top of everything else, and that didn't really help.

6:35 I told Tim if that's how it's going to be every time, I'm not having any more babies. I'm too much of a wimp. Every other child has come with me calm, smiling, and ready to hold him. This baby came to a mess of a mother who was angry, hurting from needle pricks everywhere AND childbirth, frustrated, and downright exhausted from 3 days of little sleep topped off by a miserable night of zero sleep and lots of stress and pain.

Within an hour, though, Elijah and I were contentedly nursing, talking to a very tired Tim, and feeling much much better. Then we all slept. Tim went home and put the kids back to bed (they had been up since about 4:00 am, Anda and Dan trying to help Nathanael, who had discovered I was gone and were doing as I asked them to do and help him feel happier--by playing Nintendo. Which worked.). Babysitter went home. Tim went to sleep.

I think he got more sleep than I did, but I also managed to get to sleep and slept for a long time. Thank goodness Elijah is a good sleeper and a good nurser. (I realize that usually changes after a few days, but today, I needed that!).

So, Elijah James Jones. Born today. 7 lb 10 oz. 20 1/2 inches long. Surprisingly, he has lots of black hair. We haven't had any kids born with lots of hair. A few with black hair, but not lots of it like this. Very cute.

And I am so glad that's over! And so glad he's here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Baby....not yet

When I decided I wanted to have this baby natural, with no epidural, I didn't anticipate spending 2 full days in early labor, having contractions every 10-60 minutes for 48 hours.

Now I'm just plain tired.

Not sure skipping the epidural is worth it to me anymore!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Good to know!

"Studies conducted in the 1990s revealed that homeschooled students were averaging scores in the 82nd percentile as compared to the 50th for public-school students on standardized tests."


http://nevadanewsandviews.com/2010/12/06/homeschoolers-reveal-the-path-to-greater-educational-achievement/

Just for the record, I don't know if I agree or disagree that deregulation is the answer. I'm not sure how much I trust localities to set the bar high enough. On the other hand, I don't think the federal government is close enough to the students to be able to either. So I'm still thinking on this issue.

Also, I don't believe that ALL parents are the best academic teachers for their children. While I do believe that one-on-one education provided to a child by someone who deeply cares about their future and happiness is absolutely, categorically the best way to educate every single child, I know parents who don't care enough, and I know parents who care enough but lack the ability (be in time-wise or educationally or for other reasons, like they have a special-needs child who needs special education they aren't qualified to give) to do this. Instead of saying all parents should public school then, though, I'd be more inclined to say that, ideally, all parents should be provided the resources they need in order to become good teachers for their children, but that's not too practical. Plus I know a lot of adults who were severely abused by their parents when they were young....and school was their freedom and also their chance to get help. Since we don't live in an ideal culture,  it's hard to try to implement ideal education--there is a great deal to be said for practicality and reality.

Finally, I DO believe that all states should copy Nevada's homeschool laws. I was free to truly educate my children there. Colorado's laws aren't bad, and there are better programs here for homeschooling families (like Options, which provides 1 day a week of school for ONLY homeschoolers PLUS all the books and supplies for the entire curriculum--giving us our tax dollars worth in a way that homeschoolers approve of), but Nevada's laws expressed trust in the parents, and opened the door for better methods of educating to be tried--nobody forced them to just public school at home (which is extremely difficult and doesn't work well.).

Nice article on publishing myths

http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/jefishman/2010/12/12-common-misperceptions-about-book-publishing/

And now I have to figure out what to do with it!

SmartCo, the new grocery store in town this summer, decided to close. This week, their final, they marked everything in the store down. A lot.

We figured this was a good use of our limited budget, so we went in to check it out.  And ended up, in three trips, getting a good amount of our food storage, which has been depleted to nearly nothing over the last 3 years, taken care of. With everything in the store marked down 50-70%, we ended up stocking up on canned goods, frozen foods, spices, vitamins, and all kinds of food.  We had to be careful--some of the prices were so high in the first place that even marked down 60%, they still weren't as cheap as elsewhere in town. But on the whole, we had a LOT of fun doing a food-shopping-spree.

And we let the kids each pick out a candybar from next to the cash register, something they have never been allowed to do and will likely never been allowed to do again. With all the candy 70% off, it was worth it to let them have a little fun. (We also stocked up on probably a 5-year-supply of other candy, since bags of Skittles, candybars, etc., cost less than a dollar!, but we explained to the kids that those are for birthdays and special times, not for eating right now.).

The only problem: Now we have to find a place to PUT all that stuff! What do you do with 10 boxes of cereal? We're going to have to reorganize in order to find shelves. Cupboards. Closets. Anything we can, I guess.

It was a fun adventure, actually,  being able to get food storage started again for cheap.

I think the receipt, at the end of the day, was as long as I am tall. Or longer.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Did I just read that?

No gaffe here. Just a jaw-drop that SOMEONE didn't know better. From ksl.com "They had just past a "slow skiing" sign." http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=13566770

Past? Really?


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Greek Yogurt

So, first of all, I noticed that yogurt used to come in an 8 oz size, and now, for the same price, nobody puts it in bigger than a 6 oz container. Nice.

Also noticed that a cup of yogurt has more sugar than a bowl of cold cereal. Yikes?

Today, I tried Greek Yogurt because everyone kept telling me it's so good. It was good. Three times the protein, too, with half the sugar of regular yogurt, plus real fruit instead of fruit flavor. Thicker and creamier, too. I liked it, although I still wish people would make yogurt from whole milk or cream instead of nonfat milk. The kids, being used to candy yogurt, didn't think much of it.

The thing I thought was most amusing was that the packaging said "Sweetened with stevia," but the ingredients indicated that it was primarily sweetened with just plain old sugar, with trace amounts of Stevia in the last couple of ingredients (I suppose to justify the claim). So if you're avoiding yogurt for the sugar, at least the brand of Greek Yogurt I tried wouldn't help you. They just keep it quiet that it still has sugar in the top three ingredients. To their credit, I suppose, there were more strawberries than sugar, and, since there weren't many strawberries, I guess that means there wasn't a lot of sugar.

So now I'm wondering: If I use Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt as a start for home made yogurt, will it taste different?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Did I just read that?

From ABC news today: "EMT Delivers Baby Over the Phone"  http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=6610242

Wow. Wonder if it was Ma Bell's baby? Or perhaps an Android?  Or maybe the EMT was just holding the phone under the baby (um...yuck.)?

Did I just read that?

From ABCnews.com: " I'm even afraid that when I get married, my husband won't be attracted to me anymore after giving birth." http://abcnews.go.com/Health/fear-childbirth-tocophobia-plagues-women-babies/story?id=12297229

If her husband is giving birth, she might have more problems than she realizes!

Friday, December 03, 2010

More of the Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping trial

I've been reading reports on the trial of Brain David Mitchell, who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart, and I'm astonished at the things people are shocked at.

I won't list them. They ARE disturbing.

The sad thing is, I know people who believe similar things, have done almost exactly the same and WORSE to people I love, and who will never go to jail for it.

I realized today that perhaps I should be shocked at what Mr. Mitchell is and does. But I'm not--it all seems so sadly familiar.

There are a lot more wicked, crazy people out there than any of us would like to believe.

But here's the thing I've learned over all my years of interacting with people like him: mentally ill rarely means without agency. In my experience, mentally ill doesn't usually automatically mean wicked. Wicked is still a choice.

Just sayin'.

I get really frustrated when mentally ill people use their condition as a free pass to do anything they can imagine. That's just wrong.

Yogurt

I bought more yogurt. The kids like it. Tim likes it. I like it.

I can't figure out why people prefer low-fat yogurt, though. I mean, if you've ever tried whole milk yogurt, the low-fat version seems hollow. Also, there's so much sugar in it!

I think yogurt might be healthy food (instead of an ice-cream equivalent) in the same way that fruit snacks are "snacks" (instead of candy).

Still, it tastes good. Especially blended with cool whip. Yum.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

More Dentist Updates

The dental visits never end....

Today Anda went in. She had one tooth filled, one more pulled. And she has at least two more visits. They're only half done.

She did really well, thanks to laughing gas.

Watching her get her teeth fixed gave me pause--I'm not sure Caleb can do it, even at 9 years old. He is so sensitive to touch and so easily overstimulated.....we'll have to see how it goes.

Benji is on tap, too, and I might just cancel his appointment for now and wait a year. He can't even comprehend why anyone would ask him to do something he doesn't feel like doing. He's not coax- or bribe-able, and any time we've forced anything on him, we've regretted it for months--or longer. Might not be worth it just yet when any work he needs done will have to be done under general anaesthesia anyway, and he's not hurting. Why not wait a year until he's old enough to open his mouth--and then do everything when he's sleeping anyway. There might be a little more work to be done then, and we might not have insurance, but it might be a better option. Anda didn't go to the dentist for 3 years, and she's much more able to handle the work now.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What Anda is Thankful For

One of the struggles I've had for years and years as a writer is convincing myself that something so fun isn't a waste of time. I look at my messy house and think I should be cleaning, not writing, despite the fact that I feel compelled to write and it makes me very very happy.

So Anda's thought at the Thanksgiving table was really meaningful to me. The kids were all naming things they were thankful for, and Anda said, "I'm thankful for the authors who write the books I love."

Whoa.

Straight to my heart.

Books enrich people's lives. And even my 7 year old sees immense value in that.

What I'm doing might just be more important than picking up toys. Perhaps picking up would truly be the waste of a life...nobody is going to ever be thankful for that. And nobody else can tell the stories I have to tell.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Processed "food"

I have been in the "baby is coming soon" mode, which translates to hard to walk and I don't want to spend any time on my feet at all.

So I thought I'd deviate from my norm and actually buy microwavable foods.  You know, the pre-made, processed stuff. I got our normal frozen burritoes that Tim and the kids like (and I do, too, but not this week for some reason).  And I got frozen pizzas that we used to eat all the time, and chicken pot pies I used to eat when I was in college, and canned soups, etc.

Today I made the pot pies for the kids for lunch, and I had one, too. First processed food in a long time--we usually make almost everything we eat, including our bread.

And the first thing I noticed was how SALTY processed foods are. And the second thing I noticed was that they are hardly on this side of the "edible" line. After having homemade chicken pot pie, the store-bought kind can hardly be classed food--at least for humans. I think cats would like it okay. (And my toddlers, being unaccustomed to "fake" foods, wouldn't touch them).  Also I noticed how much sauce and bread and how little actual food they contained.

I also discovered that the grocery store pizzas we used to eat all the time are nasty. Also fairly inedible. Especially after having homemade pizza with homemade sauce every couple of weeks for months and months. Even the pizza hut pizzas the kids got for meeting their reading goals were very salty and not as good as I remembered (although still edible and pretty tasty--gourmet compared to the grocery store stuff. Yuck!).

Then, to my surprise, I discovered that the storebought yogurt tasted as sweet as candy, and the storebought ice cream was so overly sweet as to be shocking. And all but the 100% fruit juice tasted more like corn syrup with cleaning fluid poured over it than juice. What happened to me? I love candy and sweets, normally. I've just been making my own for a long time, and it tastes different (richer, and less sweet)--perhaps because I use sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup? Perhaps because even with 2 1/2 cups of sugar in 4 qts of ice cream, there is still MORE in storebought ice cream? Yikes.

Funny that being away from the pre-made stuff makes the sugar and salt they load it with really stand out.

That'll teach me. Next time I want a frozen pizza, I need to make one and freeze it before I cook it!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The list is getting shorter....

I had a mental list of things that I really wanted to do before the baby was born.

I've been working on it, and we're getting down near the bottom.

Today I put the crib together, helped the big kids get their Pizzas they earned from reading last month (hooray for Pizza Hut's Book-It program being open to homeschoolers!), and I'm supposed to cut all the boys' hair. We'll see if the haircuts happen. Cutting hair isn't so bad. Wrestling the toddlers while I cut their hair is a nightmare.

Haircuts, flooring in the front entryway, and packing a hospital bag, and I think I might reach the bottom of the list!

Crazy nesting instinct

Before:
 

During:

AFTER:


9 mo pregnant, and I installed this floor! It was actually easier than cleaning the room.

I did cheat, though. I didn't have the energy to do it right, so I didn't remove and replace the baseboards, and I installed the flooring right over the old carpet pad. Might prove fatal to the flooring in the long run, but it is the warmest wood floor I've ever walked on! I also used pre-finished solid oak, so that part was easy, too, and I didn't nail it down. I glued it. All kinds of cheating.....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Report

"Why do we eat turkeys at Thanksgiving, Mom?" Anda said.

Um.....

"Yeah," Caleb said. "They didn't have them at the first Thanksgiving. They ate deer that the Indians brought." He knows, too, because he just studied that era in his US History course.

I'm glad I didn't have to dress and cook a deer. That is something out of my ability and experience.

But I did manage a turkey today. We were given a 20-lb turkey, and one of my old mission companions has a cooking blog and recommended that you put a couple of peeled carrots, sticks of celery, and a quartered onion into the cavity of the turkey before you cook it.

I got everything ready yesterday, and I took her advice. Then popped the thing, stuffed with veggies, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, in the fridge overnight. I considered baking it a day early, but it turned out that the large baking pan is with the muffin tins, pot lids, and blender pitcher: lost in the still-packed stuff in the garage. So Tim had to get home with the car and buy me one of those foil pans so I could bake the turkey.

So it sat in onion fumes all night, and then I got up early and baked it.

Just at the end, I got to talk to my parents in Portugal via Skype (whoever invented Skype deserves the greatest thanks!). That was wonderful, even though I felt bad keeping them awake so I could talk to them. It's 7 or 8 hours different there, so I end up talking to them past their bedtime sometimes! Anyway, turkey came out of the oven.

At it turned out to the best turkey I've ever made. Seriously. Maybe one of the best I've ever tasted, even (and my mom and sis-in-law both make KILLER turkeys!).  It was tender (because for once I didn't overcook it!), and the meat was perfectly flavored. Enough so that I wanted to eat more later, and I'm not usually too fond of turkey.

It was the first dinner we've had in a year where I didn't look over the meal and watch it all disappear and then say, "It's not going to be much longer before I have to double all these recipes to feed all these boys!" There was actually enough on the table for the whole family plus another family our size. Or more.  And I was consciously trying to keep it conservative (so we didn't do two of every kind of food, or double any of the recipes....there's just a lot of expected dishes for Thanksgiving when you add a fruit, and a veggie, and jello, and meat, and bread, and stuffing, and potatoes....lots of starches, actually.)

Even keeping it all fairly simple, it was really literally all I could do to make it all and get it on the table--and we skipped the pies. The kids and Tim cleaned up and set the table, and Tim took care of all the hungry kids pre-meal snacks (veggies, canned pears, olives....stuff). I think just standing in front of the mixer for that long wiped me out. I had to keep using it, washing out the one mixer bowl, and mixing something else in it. Over and over--bread, pudding, cake, whipped cream, mashed potatoes, etc.  One thing after another. Thank goodness you can beat a KitchenAid up for an hour strait and it barely even gets warm!

Kids seemed happy with the feast, and Tim and I got full, so I guess it was a successful Thanksgiving. Each of the big kids actually came to me privately and asked to help, even without being prompted by Tim (since he was out of town). That was really sweet. And they willingly (eagerly) sat and talked about things they were thankful for during the meal. (I, personally, was thankful I didn't have to try to get that all together with a newborn!).

After our "feast," we rested a few minutes and then headed over to a good friend's house for an evening of desserts and chatter with some of our favorite people in the area. There were 18 kids there (oddly, a family with one, a family with 2, two families with 3, a family with 4, and a family with 5...), ranging in age from a few months old to 12 or 13, so it was a riotous good time for the kids. And I can't think of anything I like more than gathering with a bunch of smart people and talking to them. REALLY fun for me. (Thank you, Laura, for doing all that EXTRA work to open your house to us all on a busy work-day for Moms!).

Came home and chatted with several of my siblings on the phone, and the kids talked to a few of their cousins. Then I ran out of time, so I didn't get to talk to everyone before it was much much too late to call. But it was joyful talking to my family that way.

And I guess it was a successful holiday. The kids are satisfied. Tim seems happy. I'm happy. Isn't that what it's all about?

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preparing for Childbirth

Trying to prepare for a natural childbirth this time, I spent a good deal of time studying different "approaches" and found that most of my friends who had a good natural childbirth experience did it using HypnoBirthing, so I read the book.

I agree with a lot of it, and like a lot of what they do.

I did wonder how the author could go into great detail on one page about not going out of your way to walk while you're in labor (it's unnecessary, she says) and then not 5 pages later include walking on her list of ways to keep labor going strong?! There were several contradictions in the book like that (saying we don't push to deliver a baby, but you  have a get a good rhythm going on your bearing down.....isn't that just a synonym for pushing? Most nurses use it that way!; Saying we follow our natural instincts on delivering a baby, but that we shouldn't push, but then using that terminology anyway when reporting that hypnobirthing moms say things like "Is it common to feel the need to push at this stage?"....).

I wondered, too, if the author had ever WATCHED an animal give birth. Much of her philosophy is centered on "Animals don't have painful births, why should we?" But people I know who have watched animals birthing have said the animals don't look comfortable, relaxed, and happy about what they're doing. Not to mention that many animals don't give birth to large babies--Panda babies come out the size of a stick of butter, and kangaroo babies are the size of a jelly bean when they're born!

Obviously, the editor in me won't let me read ANYTHING without the red pencil going in my mind. But that doesn't mean I didn't like the book. On the contrary, I really liked most of what it says, and I plan to use a chunk of it--probably most of it.

I have found there are a few things that EVERY natural birthing program uses that I just can't stand:

1) The idea that you can fail at childbirth. They never say this overtly, but it's infused into the philosophy that if you decide you want medicine, you've failed; if there are complications, you've failed; if you feel any pain at all, you've failed; if you let a nurse touch your baby, or it gets whooshed off to the NICU to save its life, you'll never bond with your child and they'll be damaged for life, so you've failed.  I just don't think that talk of success or failure should have any part in childbirth at all. Period. Plus, I think it's possible to have beautiful, happy, medical childbirths (I know--I had more than a couple). Even if it's not what you planned. None of the natural programs talk much about being flexible, and flexibility seems to be the key to happiness in so many situations, including childbirth. You can choose to be happy with what you got, rather than spending time mourning what image you projected for yourself and then bought into.

The overall idea of most childbirth philosophies seems to be that if you're doing things right, and your preparation is sufficient, and your mind and body are in sync, then things will go the way you visualize them, and if they don't, then you weren't sufficiently prepared (so it's somehow your own fault, not the fault of circumstance or--gasp--our methodology). That's just baloney. Life doesn't work that way--and the people I know who believe it most strongly also abuse children and believe things like you can fly to Hawaii--without a plane.

(To be fair, HypnoBirthing addresses this better than any other natural birthing program I've looked into, but the hints are still there.)

2. Breathing exercises. I can't stand breathing exercises. They don't help me relax. They don't distract me. They make me tense and angry. Can't see how THAT will help childbirth any! Don't tell me what to count to while I'm breathing in and out, or whether I'm supposed to be taking long or short breaths right now. Makes me crazy beyond crazy. I can't even express how utterly and completely irritating being told how to breathe is. I guess it must be effective for most women because ALL childbirth programs use breathing exercises, but I'd really rather trust my body to breathe like it does most days: without me thinking about it. I think part of my hangup about breathing is that, because I have asthma, any time in my life I've been forced to think about breathing has been associated with a great deal of fear and trauma--an asthma attack. Why would I want to take those associations and pin them on childbirth? No thank you. (Again, HypnoBirthing breathing exercises are better than most--they focus on natural breathing and maintaining that. I just can't stand breathing exercises at all.)

3. Affirmations. This isn't strictly a childbirth thing. I have a hangup about affirmations in any circumstance. You can say something all you want, and it doesn't necessarily make it so. So I can say loving and sweet affirmations to myself every day, and a part of my mind will be back there saying, "Are you kidding? You can't trick me that way. What a bunch of bunk. What about if _____ happens?" Kinda lessens the impact of the affirmation if you really don't believe it whole-heartedly, doesn't it? Consequently, saying over and over to myself in childbirth some sweet little thing WON'T help me relax. It will just make me angry that someone, somewhere is trying to manipulate me and I bought into it!

4. Birth Partner Scripts. Just like I don't do affirmations, I don't want Tim telling me things during labor that he wouldn't say in real life. I showed him some of the scripts we've found over the years, and we both had a good laugh. What on earth would possess someone to think that my goofy, down-to-earth, brilliant and straight-speaking husband cooing "Ocean waves roll onto the sand. A kicking, squirming being that has been part of you for a long time is going to be freed from your body....." would make me happy and calm? Might get him a nice palmprint on the cheek....Some of you know how much loathing I feel when missionaries used to give their homecoming reports in that "waterfall" voice? Yeah--birth partner scripts can't be read in any other way.  I DO want Tim there supporting me. I just want HIM there, not any of the myriad characters he could play, and certainly  not a poorly-scripted one that someone else defined as "THE Ultimate Birth Partner, played by Tim Jones".

5) The one-size-fits-all approach. How can we say that one way is the best way for everyone? Every body is so different, and anyone who has had more than one baby will tell you every baby and every pregnancy is different. So how can one way work for everyone? Some of the things they advise in some of the programs would be downright painful for me, even if I wasn't in labor, because of fibromyalgia (including sitting on a birthing ball or staying in one position for a long time like an epidural requires). Some things I just can't buy into because of the way I think and view life. Some things my body just doesn't like. Isn't it better to go with my body than try to fit myself into a mold? I think so.

That said, HypnoBirthing was MUCH MUCH MUCH better than most books I've read. I will most certainly adopt a big chunk of it and, as they actually advise in the text, skip the things that make me uncomfortable. I actually read it wishing my doctors had read the book.

I am tempted to say "I absolutely recommend this to other moms"--I liked enough of it to say that, I think. But, having not TRIED it yet, I can't really recommend anything yet.

What I'm not sure of is if any method actually works if you don't embrace it whole-heartedly. Can you just adopt little bits and pieces from many different methodologies and still have it work to your benefit?

We'll find out sometime in the next 4 weeks!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Inside the Music Business--just so I can share some good news.

This is one of those things that I could say to an "industry person" in ten words, but have to explain for you to see why I'm excited about it.

Any place that puts on shows for the public is called a Venue. Often, venues that are associated with cities, counties, or schools (esp colleges) have "arts series," where once a week or once a month they bring someone in to do a show for whoever will come. Many people are familiar with their local "Arts in the Park" shows, things like the Scera Showcase (in Provo/Orem area), or buy season tickets to an Arts Series that puts on concerts, plays, and other kinds of shows. So you buy tickets, go, and enjoy.

Most people never think about all the processes that happen around the concert series/arts series/showcases that venues put on for them. They just hear that, say, the Beach Boys are coming into town, and they go to see the show.

Venues, though, have to come up with all the shows that appear on their stages. We call them "acts." Depending on the venue and their usual audience, they hire anything from cello quartets to fire-breathing magicians--and anything else you can think of in between. All of these acts are made up of regular people (more or less--regular to us, anyway, because we interact with them all the time!) who perform for their job.

When you see a venue's calendar, you see two things on it: acts that are paying to rent the space for as many nights as they want to perform their show (we call this "four-walling," where the artist/act assumes 100% of the financial risk of the show), and acts that the venue is paying to come in (where the performers get paid no matter how many people show up to see the show).

Venues want variety in their "lineup" (the list of shows they're putting on, or producing, each "season" or year). They also want to bring in the kinds of acts that will pull large audiences (and therefore cover the cost of bringing in shows, and maybe make them a little money, too). They need acts they can afford (and, depending on the venue, this might mean acts that cost $500 or less, or it might mean acts that cost $500,000 or less).  Lots of arts venues that are associated with cities, counties, and arts-council-run arts programs are also mandated to bring a variety of arts in that will expose the public to great art and also educate them, so they have to walk a fine line between fun-so-people-will-actually-come and legitimately-artistic-stuff-that's-still-accessible. Some only bring in acts that will also do educational "outreach" programs in the local schools.

Performers want to be "brought in" to do shows (so there is no financial risk for them). They want to do shows in established arts series/concert series that are more likely to draw an appreciative audience. They want to be paid. They want to get broad exposure from a show, opening up new markets and getting new fans who will boost their income by buying music, spreading the word about them, and coming to future shows. Really good acts that draw a large crowd are often brought back to the same venues repeatedly, and they like this. So do the venues because it helps them sell out their series.

The trick, of course, is for everyone to find each other. Arts "Buyers" we call them (the actual people who hire the acts for the venues and arts series) are constantly looking for new acts to bring in that still fulfill the requirements they've been given by their employers. Artists are constantly trying to get more exposure to buyers (and therefore more work).

So someone somewhere came up with the concept of a Booking Conference.

When a Buyer hires an act, they "book" the act--schedule and contract the performers to show up on a certain day to do a certain thing (say, a 90-minute show on an outdoor stage with a 10-minute intermission).

A booking conference is a type of business conference where performers (and their agents) pay a fee to set up booths (like at a community arts festival, or a county fair) showing what they have to offer, and buyers walk around collect information on the the different acts that fit into their "mission" (be it all classical ballet, or rock concerts for teens). They take the information back to their offices, often present it to some kind of a committee or arts council, and then book their entire concert series from what they saw at the booking conference. To make it all more effective, the conference organizers usually include at least one "showcase" when for a certain amount of time (2-4 hours, often, sometimes all day), performers who are selected to have a "showcase slot" can perform live for the buyers to show them what the performance is really like. Not all performers at the conference get a showcase slot, but those who do get a showcase slot are considered lucky--performers believe (and rightly, I think) that this "audition" will give them a better chance of getting booked for the year. Often they have to audition for a showcase slot--it's not a given just because you sign up early or did one last year or are well-known. (Usually these auditions are via DVD or CD).

Even performers who get showcase slots always also take materials to hand out free at the conferences. Usually for musicians this includes some kind of information about the act (usually just one page long, called a "one sheet"), pictures of the act that, ideally, give you information about it at a single glance (called "promo pics"), and a CD or, better yet, a DVD that includes a "promo video" (a short video with clips of lots of shows and quotes from people about them) as well as video segments of full songs performed in front of a live audience, and footage of a full show performed in front of a live audience. Performers hand these out to remind buyers of what they saw and to give them "proof" to take back to their committees or bosses or whoever approves the hiring that they really are the ones you want in your concert series this year. The better your "materials" look, the more likely buyers will take you seriously and consider you a) reliable, b) professional, and c) easy to work with. Oh, and d) worth the money they are paying you. So performers try to put some kind of care into the design and production of their materials. Some even have "promo kits" available (folders that include the one sheet, the CD/DVD, the promo pics, and pages of recommendations, quotes, newspaper reviews, bios, ready-made articles called "press releases" to send to local papers to help them entice fans to the shows, and anything else the performer thinks will be effective in convincing the buyers to hire them.).

There are dozens (but not hundreds) of booking conferences in the nation, and most of them are focused. For example, one only books entertainment for colleges. Several focus their attention on regional buyers (say, just the North West, or the South). Some focus on a single state.  Some focus on what's called "block booking". Block booking is when all the different arts buyers get together and coordinate their schedules and buying plans to lower the cost for everyone (Because they have to pay travel costs as well as an act's fee to do the show, it's cheaper for buyers if they coordinate with other buyers in the local area and split the reduced travel cost; plus, lots of acts give venues a discount if they can arrange 3-5 days worth of shows in one region vs just one show.)

SO....

Tim applied for and got a booth and a showcase slot at a booking conference last month. After years of studying other groups' materials, he custom-designed a new kind of handout that is lightweight, includes one sheet PLUS pics PLUS the CD (which was also custom-designed to fit the overall design of the whole handout), and it relatively inexpensive to produce. It came out so fantastic that a friend who looks at press kits all day as part of his job took one look and said, "You did it!" It was perfect.

Showcases are hard to perform in because you get no feedback as a performer. The entire audience, instead of being there to get into the music and have fun, is there to take notes. So they did their show (both Wonder Voice and Mister Tim Live Looping), and then had to go back the next day to hand out information before they knew if they did well or not.

Bottom line on how well you did with your showcase is if you get anyone booking you from it. So we've been sitting around waiting to see if the calls started coming in.

And yesterday they did. The buyers are booking for next summer and Christmas 2011. And they want Tim and his group on their list.

HOORAY!

(Wasn't that the longest way to break a little news ever?!).

And the application for the next booking conference is already in.....

Did I just read that?

I've been reading Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers, by Harry Bruce. It's really fascinating and, on the whole, well edited. Except pages 166 and 167.

Page 166 includes this line: "A childhood victim of Edinburgh's harsh climate all his life....."

So Robert Louis Stevenson was always a child?

Page 167 includes a laughable quote from Paul Bowles in a chapter on where authors write: "Ninety-five percent of everything I've written has been done in bed."

Not sure if Mr. Bowles or Mr. Bruce didn't realize what this really said....but I'm not going to seek out and read any of Paul Bowles' writing if that's what 95% of it is about....stuff that's done in bed?

Baby....not yet

When I was engaged to Tim, I had a dream that I was having a baby and he was out of town. At the time, it was baffling: Tim was a seminary teacher when I married him. Music, as a career, was nowhere in our plans until about 4 months AFTER we got married.

But it's been a dream I thought about every time I was pregnant--especially since babies are unpredictable, even when we try our best to accommodate them.

Anda, for example, was due mid-June. So Tim didn't schedule anything for the two weeks leading up to her due date, but then did schedule a fairly high-profile show for 5 days after. And then she came 3 days late and I was still in the hospital when he ran off with his group to do the show. They even all came to the hospital after--still in costume.

After our experience with Anda, and Caleb being late, too, we figured Tim could schedule shows 3 weeks earlier than Dan was due and we'd be safe. So he had his last tour scheduled at the beginning of September, and Dan wasn't due for about 3 weeks, and we were walking home from church so Tim could hop in the car right then and leave for a 3-day trip to St. George, UT, and I went into labor. Right there. A blessing stopped it instantly, Tim did his trip, came home, and Dan was born 2 days later--2 weeks early.

But then Benji and Nathanael came within 2 days of their due dates.

So I had completely put that dream out of my mind with this baby. Hadn't happened yet--why should it now? We're about 3 weeks out from the due date, and 4/5 of our babies have come within a few days on either side of 40 weeks....

So the fact that Tim was going out of town for 2 days next week didn't bother me. I have 3 weeks, right? He'd be back in time for Thanksgiving, and then I'd still have 2 weeks....except I've spent the last 2 days having mild contractions every 30-60 minutes, day and night.  Nothing to call labor. Nothing to make me think a baby is coming right away. But plenty enough to make me start praying that baby waits until Tim gets back from Utah next week!

Meanwhile, I had a dream last night that I looked out my window and my sister was standing out there with her 3 kids. I guess they came for Thanksgiving. OF COURSE they'd be welcome....I just hope in real life they call before they leave Utah so I have a few hours' warning!

Friday, November 19, 2010

And.....eye doctor appointments!

The three big kids had eye doctor appointments. Caleb couldn't see for at least a couple of years before he got glasses, and I didn't want to do that to any of the other kids, so appointments! More appointments!

Actually, just one. Eye doctors are wonderfully easy and non-threatening to visit, and they only want to see you once a year.

Caleb's eyes are the same as before. Also the doctor said have him take his glasses off when he doesn't need them (like to read or use the computer) because it will keep his eyes stronger and not make them unnecessarily dependent on lenses. Anda and Dan both got reading glasses that they're supposed to wear when they want to, but not be forced to wear, to keep eye strain down but not make their eyes overly dependent on correction either. This was a new approach for me, but I like the idea of letting their eye muscles and nerves get strong and do their jobs.

So we'll have three pairs of glasses to keep track of. Fortunately, the kids looked good in their glasses. Also fortunately, they were excited about them--and about having a glasses case. I don't know why on that last one!

So that's one more thing checked off my list. What with all the dental work everyone needs, though, the list doesn't seem to get any shorter!

Did I just read that?

From USAToday.com: ""Treating every passenger as a suspect or criminal is an inefficient use of scare resources," they said." http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-11-19-tsa-pat-downs-criticized_N.htm


And what, pray tell, would be an efficient use of SCARE resources?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More dentist updates

We ended up with a doctor's appointment and a dental appointment at the same time today, thanks to me writing down the doctor's appointment wrong. So we divided up: I went to the doctor with Nathanael in tow, Tim took Anda and Benji to the dentist. Caleb, who was sick, stayed home with Dan because we figured I was just around the corner (literally) and going to be back soon (which I was). They did fine.

My appointment went great--Baby is head down, fluid levels good, everything ready to go. Now we just hang out and wait, I guess. Blah.  Then Nathie and I made it home not 15 minutes before a sudden storm blew in and blustered rain all over the house. Good thing the appointment went fast--we were on foot!

Tim and Anda didn't fare quite as well. Anda was supposed to get a filling in a permanent tooth, but when they got into her tooth, they discovered it was in much worse shape than even the x-rays showed. They ended up having to pull a baby tooth, drain an abcess, and put a temp crown on her permanent tooth--we have to go back for a permanent crown right after Thanksgiving. Thank goodness for nitrous oxide! The one-hour appointment ended up taking two full hours. Tim, meanwhile, had to sit in the lobby with Benji, who got bored long before the first hour was even up. Thank goodness they have a kids' computer in the lobby that Benji could use!

So our calendar is STILL full of dental appointments. I think we've had some kind of appointment almost every day this month, and now we're scheduling them for next month, too, and the first week in January is already filled with something every day.

Five kids take a lot of appointments to keep them healthy, I guess!

Bunch of BALONEY!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/8132758/Only-children-are-the-happiest-says-new-study.html

So these British researchers concluded that kids who are only children are happier.

Guess what? All the adults I know who were only children have sworn they would never inflict that on their children if they had any choice in the matter. ALL of them wish they had had siblings. All of them said they missed out on learning important things that made growing up much harder for not having siblings.

Perhaps the British researchers should have concluded that children with alert parents who don't allow their children to mistreat each other are happier. I don't think the answer to kids bullying each other in the home is to have only one child. I think the better answer would be to teach your children, nip bad habits in the bud, and be alert and attentive as parents. And--dare I say it?--this is easier if you have one parent who is a stay-at-home parent, so that SOMEONE is paying attention all the time to how the kids are treating each other, and there is no handing off of children (and their discipline and habits) to various caregivers who all have different ideas and ideals.

Just one more example of valid data leading to the wrong conclusion.

Bottom line: if having a lot of kids was bad for kids or for parents, God wouldn't have asked us to do it, much less made it a part of our marriage covenants.

Elizabeth Smart

I've been following the Elizabeth Smart trial news, just like everyone else. I remember the night she was kidnapped from her bedroom, and how I heard the news and then held my little baby in my arms and was scared for the world he was inheriting.

So, following all that, I think Elizabeth Smart is a wonderfully brave woman and definitely a hero. And I think she's lucky.

Why lucky?

Not because such awful things happened to her, but because she only had to live with them for nine months, and then the bad guy who hurt her got caught, and she gets a chance to publicly tell the world everything he did to her, and he WILL be punished for it, and she knows that. He's not going to get away with it.

Listening to and reading everything about the trial has made me think about a lot of other women--women I personally know--who had to deal with the same kinds of things Elizabeth had to deal with. Women who were treated just as badly, and sometimes much worse.

Women who had no hope of rescue because their abusers were their own parents, not some crazies who kidnapped them.

And women who have no hope of ever seeing their abusers brought to light or justice, and who will never get the satisfaction (or catharsis, or whatever it would be for each of them) of telling the world what horrible things these abusers did because the laws when the abuse happened favored the perpetrators and not the victims.

All of these women (and I can name nearly a dozen without pausing to think or take a breath) not only don't get to see their torturers get punished, they have to continue to interact with them, be civil to them, and continually deal with ongoing emotional abuse long after they have escaped the actual physical clutches of the wicked people who held--and continue to try to hold--them captive. Some of these women had to watch their abusers get old and die without even so much as a slap on the wrist for all the horrible things they did.

So, SO many people like Brian David Mitchell are out there NOT getting caught. Ever.

These women are my heroes.

Why?

Because even in the face of NEVER getting justice, or even safety and relief, almost all of them have made wonderful, happy lives for themselves. Pop culture says that abuse will completely, utterly destroy a life, that rape will ruin you forever, and that torture and abuse are things that destroy your soul and prevent you from ever becoming anything or enjoying anything, trapped forever by fear, timidity, drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, etc.

Elizabeth has been a public face proving that's not true. I know some women who were damaged beyond repair. But I know many more who, like Elizabeth Smart, were able to not let the abuse be the defining factor of the rest of their existence.

And the women I know, even knowing they will never get that freedom of seeing their abuser go to jail, they have not only made wonderful lives for themselves--they've learned how to be civil to the people who abused them, how to have relationships with other people, how to love and be loved. And how to be happy. They have learned how to love and trust God even when their earthly fathers taught them only things that would interfere with a relationship with God. They have learned how to pick up and move on, and not let the past destroy the future, despite the damage that other people can do to our souls. They have shown me how idealism and reality can intersect, how religion and life mesh nicely, even when life is "real" and dark and sometimes ugly.

They spend their lives making the world a better, more beautiful place, loving other people, and proving beyond a doubt that we, with Jesus, are never so beaten down that we can't be healed. It's not that the abuse and its effects are erased from their lives. It's that they live fully and happily anyway.

These women are my heroes. Their examples keep me going when I think my life is unbearably tough. Their examples make me a better, stronger, more compassionate person, and I'm glad to know them, grateful for their influences in my life.

I just wish the world could look at Elizabeth Smart and say, "What a great woman," and then remember all the thousands of women and girls who don't get to escape, don't get rescued, and have to live with their captors, and the abuse, forever. It's easy to sit back and say, "Anomaly," when really we need to realize that there are thousands of girls who need our help as much as Elizabeth Smart did, and thousands of men who are getting away with it.

Maybe there's something we can do to stop that.

Virus Spam?

Been deleting LOTS of emails from many different friends lately that contain just a link with no explanations. Several friends and family members have had their email hacked and have then had to say, "Don't open attachments or click links that say they're from me."

So I'm just saying that, since there seems to be an epidemic right now of hacking and viruses going around, I'm not clicking links in emails anymore. And if you ever get one from me that has no explanation of what it is or where it came from, or why I'm linking to it, don't click it, either.  If I ever do send you a link (since I sometimes do that--for articles I liked or whatever), I will ALWAYS explain what the link is and why I'm sending it--and the explanation should be in good grammar, with decent spelling, and have something to do with things that interest me for real (like, I'm not going to send you links for office products or other commercial things--I don't do that!). That way you know it's from me. Of course, feel free to email or call to confirm anything you might see that says it's from me if it's suspicious.

Not because I think my email has been hacked, but just so you know why I didn't open that email you sent that you actually did want me to read.....

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Stuff is fun

Someone on craigslist gave away a $70 bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse set a few weeks ago. They said it didn't work on their computer because it supposedly doesn't work on a 64-bit machine.

So I ran over in the middle of the night (literally) and picked it up, still new in its box, off their driveway.

And now I have a wireless keyboard and mouse to use with my laptop, so I don't have to worry about kids kicking the laptop off my lap anymore! Hooray! And it works--and I have a 64-bit machine, last I checked.  So now I'm really excited--I can get back to writing novels/editing stuff while I rock babies (and since a new baby is coming sometime soon, this is seriously advantageous for me).

Not only is it wireless (nobody will trip and pull the laptop off the desk, either), it's incredibly lightweight (surprisingly) which is a boon--I can manipulate it with one hand. balance it on one knee, etc.

Hooray for a new toy--especially one that was free and works!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tim has a fun, but weird job



It always startles me a little bit that my husband gets paid to make funny noises, wear cool clothes, and pretend he's a rock star. Also that people take videos of him doing his job. I mean, we don't film lawyers and computer programmers at work, right? And this is just a job, right? Sure he's talented and passionate, but so are most programmers, teachers, and doctors I know.....

The last few shows he's done, Tim has had people come up to him and say, "I hear you are the best beatboxer in the world."  What? Where are they hearing this? These shows, by the way, were not even in the same STATES. Opposite sides of the nation, same rumor.

It's funny to hear--Tim can name literally a dozen beatboxers who are better than he is. And we both know there are hundreds more out there.

But Tim did learn a little secret years ago: when you have a choir that isn't very skilled, have them sing simple songs perfectly and they'll come across as the best choir in the world.  A very poor choir singing "Silent Night" in unison beautifully will have more impact than a good choir singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" mediocrely or poorly.

That's how Tim does his beatboxing. He can tell you exactly what he can't do well--he just works on those things in private and doesn't put them into his shows. Also, having drummed with a real band on a real drumkit before (Thanks, Ben!), he has a firm grasp of the role percussion plays in a song--something many beatboxers, coming exclusively from a singing background, lack (they are always treating the percussion as another harmony part, and percussion doesn't fit into music that way).

So Tim does what he's confident he's good at, and does it well, and it makes him look really good on stage (and you, as the audience, never know of the thousands of things he's working on still!).

Tim doesn't call himself a vocal percussionist (in fact, when he gets looped into that role publicly, we both laugh--he spent the first 3 years of our marriage analyzing vocal percussion in acappella music and came to the conclusion that it was awful stuff that ought to be abolished from the genre!). (Personally, I think spending years seeing what was wrong in vocal percussion--and therefore not being impressed by it--helped him become a better percussionist. Knowing what NOT to do is as important as knowing what to do, and seeing what others are doing poorly helps you do things better--you can't strive to be the best in your field if you set your standards too low and can't see what things could be improved on.).

Tim, in fact, will be the first person to tell you that, as an "acapella generalist," he is not the best at any one part of music. He knows tenors, baritones, bassists, percussionists, arrangers, composers, clinicians, music directors, etc. that are much better than he is--and he'll tell you who they are. Tim's strength is that he can do all of those things well. He might not be the best at one thing, but he's really good at a lot of things. (Personally, I can't think of anyone with a better,  more beautiful voice than Tim's--but he can.)

Thus the Live Looping. Live looping requires you to be quite good at all aspects of music, from the technology to the performance. He doesn't have to be the best vocal percussionist, but he has to be good--and know how things fit together. Ten years of working on this is finally paying off, and he's coming across really really well on stage. It's a good show.

So the "best vocal percussionist" thing may not be true, but as I told Tim, in entertainment, the reputation matters more than the reality....

And he's doing it right.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Did I just read that?

From Fox News: "It is unlikely the ruling generals will allow Suu Kyi, who drew huge crowds of supporters during her few periods of freedom, to actively and publicly pursue her goal of bringing democracy to Burma, formerly known as Burma." http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/11/13/release-order-read-burma-democracy-leader/

Was it, now?

Friday, November 12, 2010

The end is coming....thank goodness!

So I FINALLY started to notice the signs that I'm not going to be pregnant forever: acne, return of morning sickness and heartburn, completely lost my appetite, back to being exhausted and running to the bathroom constantly.  I'm feeling elbows rubbing the inside of my pelvis instead of the back of a head, can't really put my thighs together anymore. That's all good.

It doesn't mean things are imminent, though. I usually walk around for 3 weeks or more dilated to 3-4 and more than 50% effaced, but it does mean we're in the last month for real now, and that's a relief (not because it's fun, mind you, just because it means we're getting done).

So what am I going to do to celebrate?

Tear out the carpet in the baby's room and install hardwood, of course. Isn't that what everyone does?

:)

Online Voice Lesson from Tim

http://voicecouncil.com/passion-before-technique/

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nesting?

My friends keep accusing me of "nesting." I am 4 1/2 weeks out from having a baby, and I have tons of stuff going on.

A big chunk of it is trying to get as many doctor and dentist visits for the kids done as possible before the baby comes. That's not something I'm choosing to do, but something that has to be done, and this way will be easier than trying to do it with a newborn.

A big chunk of it, though, is me fighting my brain. When I'm pregnant, I usually struggle constantly with anxiety and intrusive, dark thoughts whenever I don't take my vitamins.  Vitamins have always kept it in check with every pregnancy so far, and I've learned to just ignore the anxiety and negativity as "not real." This pregnancy, though, while harder with the fibromyalgia, has been easier on the anxiety. That's a huge blessing because it's been an extremely stressful pregnancy. But I think my brain is trying to make up for it these last 4 weeks. Even with my vitamins, I find myself worrying that every car that goes by is going to crash into my front yard or shoot at my house, and that every time Tim leaves the house he won't be coming home. I know there are meds for this kind of thing--and I'm not opposed to them. Even during pregnancy. However, I also know that it will all disappear as soon as the baby comes (like instantly when the baby comes) and, if my past repeats, not even recur as post-partum depression. It really just vanishes like mist in the sunshine for me. I also know that a lot of psychiatric drugs take a few weeks to start working--and we don't have a few weeks left. So I'm biding my time, reminding myself that Tim and the baby are both fine and that my brain is just playing tricks on me and I don't have to a) listen to it, or b) take it seriously. (Which actually works for me, crazy as it might seem.)

What does all that have to do with nesting?

Work.

Work has always eased any kind of stress, depression, or anxiety I feel. So I'm not nesting out of a compulsion to get my house in order before the baby comes. Rather, I'm "nesting" in an effort to fight back against my mis-firing brain and keep it functioning as well as it can until after Thanksgiving, when I will see if the doctor can hurry things along a little bit (strip my membranes, maybe? That's worked twice before....). Work is the magic cure for anxiety. Work is also the best distraction I know of when things are hard, challenging, scary, or downright difficult to get through.

So I keep working.

If it were normal nesting for most people, I'd be cleaning the stove and bathrooms, putting toys into their boxes, and generally organizing the house. If it were normal "nesting" for me, I'd be finishing novels and quilts and other projects that I have laying around. Instead, I'm just about to install hardwood flooring in the baby's room....

It might be "nesting." But to me, it's just good, hard work. Just what I need.

Homeschooling Highlights of the Week

I love it when the kids do educational stuff on their own. One of the highlights of homeschooling is watching the kids voluntarily, for FUN, do things that other kids have to be forced to do. Like write stories. Or do science experiments. Or write plays. Or compare movies to books. Or create art lessons for other people.

This week somehow turned into writing week, it seems. Caleb wrote a review of Tim's show and posted it on his blog. Anda is writing and illustrating a book on fairies (after she and her two friends make a house for fairies when they were playing last night). She's also slowly but steadily creating the illustrations and text for a book on (mostly) imaginary animals that live in a land called "Environment." Daniel is learning a vital skill (which most kids are taught NOT to have) of identifying not just what he likes, but WHY he likes it. That was something it took me almost 2 years to teach my junior high kids in English, but it's the key to learning how to write well--first identifying what you think and why. (It always took a long time to un-teach the socialized "like what's popular and who knows why" mentality that kids get in public schools).

Anyway, we had some other fun times today. I love learning and teaching, so it's QUITE enjoyable for me to sit with the kids and listen to their AP Biology and AP US History lessons and then discuss them with the kids. I put the lessons on because I figured the kids could handle them, despite the fact that they are 7 and 9 years old, and they can handle them just fine, but I do have to spend some time "translating" what they were just taught, expanding on it, giving more examples, and basically forcing their brains to be engaged. It works to have them learning AP-level stuff because I'm not expecting mastery. I figure they're going to hear all of this again, so anything they get out of it is good enough.

Still, it was fun to sit with Anda and have her totally get the parts of a chromosome (and be able to label the parts and what they do), the organization of DNA and  how it's packaged in the cell (stuff they didn't teach when I was in AP biology--maybe they didn't know it 20 years ago?). But it was most delightful when we started talking about X- and Y-chromosomes, and to see her so excited about the fact that she is the only person in the family who carries a copy of Tim's X-Chromosome. Once you get beyond the biochemistry stuff (she doesn't really care about the molecular structure of DNA, and whether it unzips and copies from the 5' or the 3' end--and I don't blame her), she really loves biology. And gets it quickly. It's cool.

And it was fun to sit and talk with Caleb about the distinct natures of the different British Colonies in the New World, and how the nature and history of the Mid-Atlantic Colonies actually led to the development of a culture in New York that allowed the Restoration of the Gospel to happen. It's also fun to see how the different ideas of the leaders of the different colonies developed and led to the Constitution and to ideas we still cling to today. And it was fun to see Caleb learning about Galileo's physics experiments and just eating it up.

So it's fun for me to learn all this stuff again, in small chunks, and fun for me to teach it all.

After this year, though, those two kids (at least) will NEVER be able to jump back into public schools. Can you imagine Caleb, after studying US History on an AP Level, going back to your normal, run-of-the-mill 5th Grade US history next year? Yikes. Or Anda trying to jump into 3rd grade biology next year? Double yikes.

I actually don't think they're so far advanced of the capabilities of other kids their own age. I think the education system, in having to balance between the behind and the normal kids (they don't really try to deal with the ahead kids very well) have done all parties a disservice. For example, I think all average 4th graders can grasp the concept of the "2 other" states of matter that they just don't teach. Understanding that hyper-charged gasses are called Plasma, and that it's a further state of matter, and that we see it in fluorescent lights and also the sun and stars is NOT that difficult for kids. Might be too hard for some of the teachers, though.

Anyway, even though we missed a day of school completely this week (sigh), today was certainly a day of being glad we're homeschooling!