Friday, April 30, 2010

Things are starting to make sense!

Someone in a local magazine published a tirade against a Catholic church school for expelling a student whose parents were lesbians on the grounds that the entire family had signed a contract saying they believed in, supported, and lived Catholic beliefs. The editor who was writing the editorial concluded that religions need to change because they were violating civil rights.

I thought about that for a long long long time, and it finally dawned on me why that statement was wrong.

It comes down to what civil rights are.  Wikipedia: "Civil and political rights are a class of rights and freedoms that protect individuals from unwarranted action by government and private organizations and individuals and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression."

Civil Rights are the rights that ensure we can participate in the civil ("related to being a citizen" or public/political) life. In other words, civil rights are there to guarantee we are not hampered in our ability to participate in our communities and government in a PUBLIC way. They have absolutely NOTHING to do with our ability to participate in PRIVATE organizations and events.

In other words, civil rights cannot be used to stop me from saying "I do not allow murderers in my home, even if they come peacefully." My home is not the public sphere. It is not governmental or "civil" and therefore not controlled by the same laws.

In fact Merriam Webster says, in defining "civil": "of, relating to, or involving the general public, their activities, needs, or ways, or civic affairs as distinguished from special (as military or religious) affairs".

By very definition, the military and religions are EXEMPT from the definition of "civil," and therefore civil rights DO NOT APPLY to religions.

As far as I understand it, private organizations of all kinds, including religions, are allowed to set their own rules of membership. This was recently in front of the Supreme Court actually, debating whether a private organization (a club) being sponsored by a public organization (a public university) was required to function under the rules of a private organization (can exclude members based on beliefs or any other darn requirement they want) or the rules of a public organization (have to follow the rules associated with civil rights).

Separate from that debate, the establishment of rules for private organizations that differ from the rules for public organizations is really important. Why? It protects our rights to peacefully assemble with like-minded individuals. Under the protections given private organizations, for example, a Jewish Synagogue doesn't have to allow Neo-Nazis to participate. Nor does the African Heritage Club have to accept and allow full membership and voting rights to members of the KKK. Nor do Mormons have to allow anti-Mormons (even ex-members) to speak in their meetings or participate in their ceremonies (and, conversely, an anti-Mormon congregation not only has the right to believe in anti-Mormon doctrine, they can bar Mormons from entering their buildings and attending their parties.).
It also protects our rights to believe things that might be reprehensible to other people without getting in trouble for that. That means that the same law that makes it legal for lesbian women to believe in Catholicism and raise their daughter that way makes it legal for neo-nazis or polygamists to believe the things they believe and raise their children to believe as well. This right is sometimes interfered with by the state (as when the YFZ Ranch children were taken by CPS, or in a couple of other cases in the South where children were taken from Neo-Nazi parents solely because of the parents' beliefs).

So, in sum, private organizations don't have to follow civil rights laws because they are, by definition, not civil.

Where do the problems come up?

Well, big businesses are private organizations, but because they function as part of the civic makeup of an area, they do have to follow civil rights. Nobody is debating this. Of COURSE we expect to be able to enter a WalMart or use a gas station, regardless of our race, religion, etc. I don't know the law on this, but I suspect that any business that is incorporated becomes part of the civil makeup of the area and has to follow the civil rights laws.

The problem comes up with VERY small businesses. Sole Proprietorships, to be exact. When you have a woman who makes wedding dresses in her basement for 2 clients a month, or a photographer who takes family and wedding portraits in the park for people, or a florist who works from her back room in her house....which rules apply? Can you force this single person to do things that are offensive to their personal rights and freedoms, like make wedding dresses for lesbian partners? Or do they fall under the private sphere, where they can reject clients for any darn reason they want, and not give the reason? And what about people who don't even own a small business, but are merely hobbyists who take on one wedding dress a YEAR. Can they be forced to make dresses for clients if they don't want to?

I don't know the answer--but I do know it is one of the debates that isn't being talked about in the media much but that actually HAS been an issue.

Can you force a private individual to do something against their personal beliefs in the public sphere because of their job? The answer seems to be yes (a neo-nazi waiter in a restaurant has to serve an African American family that comes in) and no (a Mormon doctor CANNOT be forced to perform an abortion). But the default seems to be yes unless specific laws are passed to protect certain jobs because businesses are part of the public community, and civil rights demand that people have access to them in order to participate in the community at large. But can you force someone to do something against their personal beliefs in the public sphere because of their hobby? The answer seems to be no. They are a private individual, functioning under the rules and laws that govern privacy and personal freedom.

The other problem area is MARRIAGE.

And the reason this is a problem area is marriage is the one place I can think of where private and public completely intersect. Marriage is a civil contract performed by private religious organizations. I can't think of any other civic, governmental action that is performed by completely private organizations that don't get any money from the government (which always comes with strings attached, like supporting civil rights).

So which set of rules apply? Civil or private? You can't, by law, force a religion to do something against their beliefs because they are a private organization (they can accept or reject anyone they want, they can segregate men and women in their meetings, etc.). So, by law, you can't force religions to perform gay marriages (or, for that matter, any other marriages they are opposed to, including bi-racial marriages). On the other hand, if marriage is a civil contract, then all civil rights laws MUST apply, including regarding race. (This is separate from the debate about whether gay marriage is a civil right or not (I realize that, while one side of the debate has latched on to that argument, it hasn't been clarified by law or debated in the public sphere whether or not that's actually TRUE.).)

I suppose it's never been a major, national issue before. Bi-racial couples are likely to leave any congregation that is opposed to their relationship long before the marriage issue comes up. And if they are denied a marriage ceremony by one church, they can get one at another, more progressive church or down at the courthouse. Because marriage is both a religious and a civil contract, both the government and the religions have given access to it. In other words, the religions still maintained their rights because there were other options.

I don't have answers for this one, actually. If the government were to define gay marriage as a civil right, then, according to current tradition, religions would NOT be required to adapt to that--even religious schools and organizations like adoption agencies and charities.

(A side note: The government could, however, continue to put strings attached to the money they give to those organizations, including doing things that are against their religious beliefs (which they can do now. That's not a new thing. Religions that don't want a part of it don't take the money. Period.). It doesn't FORCE the religions to do things they're opposed to...unless they want the money. Consequently, it might put a HUGE number of religious charities out of business, putting a greater responsibility on the government to care for the poor and needy in ways they've proven they're incompetent at.)

But the tenor of the present debates leads me to believe that is not what the gay rights activists have in mind. Either they are confused about what their civil rights actually are (because they don't understand what the civil sphere actually is) or they, like the magazine editor, seem to have in mind the breaking down of private rights and religious rights, making all things public and "civil". And I'm NOT in favor of that. YES, it protects people's rights to believe things I consider awful. But it also protects MY right to believe things other people might find awful (like the right to believe large families with a stay-at-home mother is good for children, and my right to believe in Joseph Smith as a prophet). Who is the person, then, who defines which beliefs are "civilly acceptable" and which are not? This very idea flies in the face of everything America is founded for and hold dear.

On a side note, I personally don't think the homosexual marriage camp and the traditional marriage camp are defining "marriage" the same way, and that needs to be addressed before anything can be decided on the issue. We're all screaming over the fences at each other, using words that sound the same but that we've defined in different ways. This, to me, constitutes the ultimate utter failure of communication and precludes any kind of solution to the problems at all!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Did I just read that?

from Google News today: "

North Carolina beach town bans thongs 

CNN - Gabriel Falcon - ‎19 hours ago‎
Kure Beach officials say they will crack down on people wearing thongs in the seaside community. (CNN) -- If you plan on going to Kure Beach, North Carolina, bring your sunscreen and shades, but please leave your thong behind."


Yes, now they have a Nude Beach!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

There is hope for our sleep yet.....

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/19/sleeping-or-not-by-the-wrong-clock/

also, this was cool: http://www.cet.org/en/index.html?/en/Questionnaire.html

The second quiz is the one that applies to my family personally, and it came out fairly accurate, placing my internal bedtime within 15 minutes of what I've found my body really does.

I'm excited there are therapies. I seriously doubt we have access to them--even if Medicaid covered it, no doctors actually take Medicaid. (I still haven't figured out how the government thinks they extended coverage to everyone by saying, "Just get on Medicaid." Medicaid would be great--if anyone would accept it! I often wonder why doctors don't all just agree to everyone accept Medicaid--that would spread the losses out enough that no doctor would go under by taking Medicaid patients--and then being flooded with them because nobody else takes Medicaid.).

I'm curious what results my family would get on that quiz. They all denied having sleep problems, but several of them (or their spouses) have admitted to me that they "come alive" at around 10:00 pm and have tons of ideas and projects they want to work on then. That's one of the signs that your circadian rhythm is off!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Some interesting references

I have had these for a long time and just realized I never posted the links. I might be opening the door for MORE personal attacks, but I do know a lot of people who will find these articles truly thought-provoking and interesting. SO here are the links:

http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_3_redefining_marriage.html

http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_3_gay_marriage.html

Why most musical men don't become musicians.....

I'm sure there are LOTS of reasons most musically talented men don't become musicians. But one BIG one that I've noticed over the years is that there comes a point when most male musicians are asked to choose between the woman they love and the career they hope to have. And most of them choose the woman, quite frankly.

And I'm not saying that's a bad thing.  In fact, I think it's a good thing. People shouldn't plan to grow up to be musicians. Most people really aren't good enough, when it comes right down to it, and they can enjoy music as a hobby for the rest of their lives and be much much happier in a real job with some semblance of security and some semblance of normalcy.  (As much as people dream of being musicians, actors, rock stars, etc., what most of them really want is a NORMAL, predictable life. They really do.).

The question I had to ask was (naturally) WHY are women upset with musician-leaning boyfriends/husbands?

I can't tell you what each individual woman is thinking. But being on the inside of that question, I can tell you a number of things:

You don't see the man you love every day. Not only to make a living, but to be considered legit in the music world, you have to perform out of town sometimes. If you're serious as a musician, touring is part of the game. And if you're the woman (or man, I guess) left at home, you have to deal with loneliness (or at least aloneness). And since a lot of people get into relationships to avoid loneliness.....you see the problem? (And really, is there anything wrong with wanting to be with the person you love every day? NO--that's a good thing!).

The pay isn't steady. Most women (even women with jobs) want a man who has a steady, predictable income with things like regular paychecks, withholding (instead of quarterly) taxes, and benefits. Those things are not part of being a musician almost ever. There is the rare case you get "hired" to be a musician, but most often it's just gigs when you can get them for whatever pay you can get. And benefits? What are those? Sometimes venues feed Tim or send him home with a stuffed animal--and we get free tickets to shows. Those are the kinds of benefits we get.

The less-than-regular pay isn't very high (especially compared to the expenses). People always look a musician on stage and say things like, "He just got paid $300 for a half-hour of work." But half an hour on stage is not the same as half an hour of work. There are hours and hour and hours of work that you don't get paid for. Plus most musicians have to divide whatever they earn by the number of people in the band, and they have to pay expenses out of that pay. If you're not in your home town, those expenses add up FAST and can eat your entire check, meaning you pretty much played for free. Plus that $300 for half an hour on stage doesn't come every day. Or sometimes even every week.

The hours are horrible. Musicians work when other people are off: nights, weekends, and holidays. (Because, really, who goes to a concert at 10:00 am on a Thursday?).  In addition to those "free times" being filled up, musicians work gazillions of "invisible" hours off stage: sound checking, travelling to and from gigs, recording, writing and editing songs, rehearsing and rehearsing and rehearsing more, costuming, doing publicity work (if they're lucky), making appearances at schools/bookstores/athletic events/anywhere people will let them appear. The hours are whenever--and a lot of whenevers if things are going well. Tim worked 120 hours last week, if that gives you an idea.  So the times you are culturally trained to expect to see your love, like when you get home from work and want to do something fun with him, he'll be just walking out the door to entertain other couples on dates. Even on your anniversary. And birthday. And Christmas.

If you want to have a family, you have to accept the reality that you will be a single parent some of the time. Most women (at least Mormon women) grow up dreaming about a family, with Daddy coming home at night every night, and....that's not the life of a musician's family. And if you're the kind of woman who gets scared when you're home alone--forget it.

There is a fine balance between committed and independent that is difficult to strike for a couple. When someone is constantly coming and going, one day you find yourself in a devoted, intense relationship, spending all your time with a person, and the next you have to entertain yourself all day--but without being a single person (so--no dating, no hanging out in mixed company....) because you are STILL in a devoted, intense relationship--that just happens to be long-distance at the moment, and this gets harder and harder the more your friends end up married and parents--you can't just go hang out with your girlfriends anymore because they kick you out when their husbands get home. You have to be able to be happy by yourself (or just with your kids) because you aren't out of the relationship, but you aren't with the person you love, either. So you have to have the ability to be committed and independent at the same time.

There is a definite TRUST issue. The story is that musicians (and their roadies) get on the bus/plane to hit the tour and the wedding rings come off. And they live like they're single until they get home. Women back at home worry about that. Not only is your man not coming home every night, he's spending his evenings with women watching and adoring him and thinking he's something he's not because they saw him on stage. That is an issue for a lot of women back at home. It's also an issue that performers are touchy-feely people. It's part of their culture to hug and kiss (on the cheek) a lot of different people. PLUS it's likely your man is travelling with and/or working closely with other women (performers, techs, venue staff, etc). You have to trust they are being true--and they have to trust that you, left alone with nobody watching YOU, are also being true.

Performers also don't have a reputation of staying married. Tim and I have talked a lot over the years about this: why it happens and what we can do to protect our marriage against the trend. Knowing that performers tend to be divorcing (and cheating) souls (Honestly, now, can you name even 10 couples in Hollywood that have been together for 25 years or more? Or that are still on their first marriage?), it's hard for women to want the men they love to jump into that world because, at least on the surface and from the outside, it really looks like you're dooming yourselves from the get-go.

Tim asked the other day (from the other side of the nation), "Did YOU know what you were getting into?" And the answer is NO--because when I married him, he was a seminary teacher, and I DID know what I was getting into with that!

So, in terms of happy, solid relationships that have some longevity and the chance to create a solid, stable family (especially if the woman wants to be a stay-at-home mom) with a steady income, I can see why women don't let their men chase their dreams and become a musician. ESPECIALLY since most people really aren't cut out for it, anyway (regardless of the amount of talent they have).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Plumbers of Rome in Boston

The other two Plumbers convinced Tim they wanted to sing at the Boston Harmony Sweepstakes and were willing to help cover the costs--that's how bad they wanted to go.

So they went.

Sang today.

And won FIRST place and audience favorite!

Go Plumbers!

They've won second place in various places around the nation more than once. They've won audience favorites more than once.

But this is their first trip to the Finals.

The funny thing is Tim has long wanted to be the first person to compete in TWO groups in the Harmony Sweepstakes Finals. Turns out it will be the other two Plumbers who will get that distinction--they both sing in the group that won the Denver Harmony Sweepstakes (as well as both in the group that took second in Denver). Other funny thing: Tim is producing a "single" (which nowadays has 3-5 tracks instead of a side and a flip side) for Confidential, the Denver winners, and has been a mentor to several members of that group! So everything is all tangled up on that point.

Anyway, May 15--Finals in San Fransisco. Exciting times!

Did I just read that?

from Denver Craigslist today: "Free Male Modeling Workshop: How To Walk The Run Way Tuesday! - (Denver) talent gigs"

And, pray tell, what is the "Run" way of walking? Is that what we used to call speedwalking? I'm just thinking about models speedwalking the runway......

Did I just see that?



Does anyone else find it even slightly creepy that they dismembered Mickey and half-buried the parts for his clubhouse?

Friday, April 16, 2010

The future of education?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/education/edlife/18open-t.html?pagewanted=4&ref=edlife

Did I just read that?

From Foxnews (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/04/16/calif-man-arrested-human-trafficking-rape-case/)

"He's being held on suspicion of $315,000 bail."

They were suspicious about his bail? Huh?

Did I just read that?

From Fox News.com's main page today: "- Doctor: Volcanic Dust Cloud Increases Risk of Death"

To what? It's already 100%! 

Let's repeat it together: Death is a certainty, not a risk. You can't increase or decrease the likelihood of a certainty happening, or it wouldn't be a certainty.  As much as some people wish death wasn't a certainty.....

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Weird Year For "Events"

It's been a busy year for strange natural events and disasters:

Large Earthquakes (over 6.0 on the Richter Scale) in: Haiti, Turkey, Mexico, Chile, China, Sumatra, Spain, Solomon Islands (more than once, a couple months apart), Japan, China/Russia/North Korea border, New Guinea, Offshore of Northern California, plus "minor" ones in non-earthquake prone places, including Illinois and Oklahoma (and it's only the 4th month of the year!): http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2010/



Not to mention disastrous flooding, wars and rumors of war, economic crisis worldwide that hasn't crested yet (even though the government keeps saying it's over)......

Exciting times!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

All the government programs on Earth won't help if....

All the government programs on Earth won't help education if parents like this are "helping" their kids learn.  I got this from Craigslist Fort Collins today:

"

If you're read A Tale of Two Cities and want to make money..


Date: 2010-04-13, 9:10PM MDT
Reply to: gigs-vhwcu-1691243995@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]


I want a thesis paper about this book! My son has no aspirations and I feel that a well written paper about 'A Tale of Two Cities' would give him good help!!
I will pay up to $$200DOLLARS for a 6 to 8 page double spaced paper with a few quotes...
I can even give you a thesis to start with

  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: 150
"  (http://fortcollins.craigslist.org/wrg/1691243995.html)

SERIOUSLY?

Cheating is going to help your son get aspirations in life? Seems like it would have the opposite effect.

Sheesh.

Interesting Commentary

You know, I know some narcissistic people, and some bipolar people--and Obama really IS similar to them:

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/152636

The RESEARCH on homeschool socialization says.....

http://eclectic-homeschool.blogspot.com/2010/03/stop-homeschooling-and-get-your-child.html

Monday, April 12, 2010

Did I just read that?

From Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/04/12/yacht-feared-lost-sea-chile-quake-reappears/):

"Yacht Feared Lost at Sea After Chile Quake Reappears"

I didn't know earthquakes could reappear!

My FAVORITE Cookie Recipe Ever: Snickerdoodles

I may have posted this before, but I'm posting it again because my sister recently asked me for it, and I said, "Go look it up online. All snickerdoodle recipes are the same." But it turns out they aren't. Some use (gasp) Cornstarch (YUCK), which makes them dry and starchy (duh). Almost NONE include milk. And none use the technique  my mom taught me--which makes the cookies what they are. Even HER recipe has different ingredients and instructions than she actually used.

I've only found snickerdoodles like my mom makes one time outside our family--and they came from Mom's cousin! So this is either Idaho style or Packard style--I don't know which.

So here it is, the BEST SNICKERDOODLE RECIPE anywhere.

1 c butter or margarine, softened
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 3/4-4 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-1 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Blend in milk and vanilla. Scrape sides down and mix it again so it all mixes thoroughly.  Put in (in this order and WITHOUT mixing between) 3 3/4 c flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Add the rest of the flour ONLY if the dough is too sticky to work with.  Mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, rolling each ball in the cinnamon-sugar mix to completely coat it. Place on a greased cookie sheet and, using a smooth-bottomed cup or glass, flatten each ball--but not too much (1/4-1/2 inch thick is right). Dip the glass in the cinnamon sugar every other cookie or so (otherwise, it gets sticky). Bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes. They still look not quite done when you take them out--they should be golden on the bottom, and maybe around the edges, but still very light and puffy on the top. They fall when they cool--that's how it's supposed to be.  The finished cookies should be soft and chewy, with a distinctly vanilla flavor, even the next day (if they last that long). Last time I made these (yesterday), the recipe made about 6 dozen cookies. I remember doubling the recipe as a teenager and getting about 12 dozen, so I think it's pretty consistent.

This is my FAVORITE cookie of all time.

I just discovered this!

Google News also has an archives search--and you can search scanned images of actual papers, including local ones. While there may be some copyright issues (as usual), this is an incredibly valuable resource for regular people.  Just imagine the possibilities for family history!

http://www.google.com/archivesearch?q=

And yes, they do have local papers. I found myself reading an article from the Deseret News from the early '90s.

Just remembered....

Getting criticized for having a lot of children isn't by any means a new thing.

My parents say they used to respond to the shock and awe (pregnant with number SEVEN? In ten years?!!!) with, "Well, we were specially chosen by the government to be part of a special program to create more geniuses. They asked us specifically to have a lot of babies."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Teeth woes

Just noticed by 1 year old's front teeth (both top center ones) came in missing stripes of enamel.

Great.


Poor kid.

He got the bad part of the teeth genetics.

So, since Anda let the cat out of the bag anyway (unintentionally)....

So we had this little secret. And our kids knew. And  Anda whispered it to her best friend. Who told her mother. Right in front of a bunch of the ladies in the ward. Right before I walked in and then had to confirm it.

So the cat is out of the bag:  We're expecting baby number 6 in mid-December.

For us this is incredibly happy news. Even with five pregnancies behind me, it was really difficult to suffer through 5+ months (only 5 this time! It's taken over a year more than once!) of trying unsuccessfully for another baby. While I realize that's unfair to friends I have who have been trying much longer for just ONE baby, it's still painful to want that and not have it happen. Even when you already have some to be grateful for and love.

We are SO thrilled about this. I'm telling you that right up front because when you tell people you're expecting number 1, they get all excited for you. Also with number 2. Number 3 they admire you. And then it goes downhill from there. 4 is still socially acceptable unless you had difficult pregnancies or your last is still a baby. 5 you cross an imaginary line from "cool" to "stupid". And, quite frankly, we're both a little skittish over the backlash from SIX ("are you NUTS?! What were you thinking!?").

So, to answer the most common questions I get right up front:

Yes, we understand birth control and how to use it.

Yes, we did this on purpose. In fact, we worked at it for over 5 months and had to take medicine for multiple months to get it to stick.

So, yes, we WANTED six kids.

Yes, we planned the timing. Actually, we think 23 1/3 months apart is kinda spaced out--we were planning for 19-21 months again (but it ended up not being our choice).

Yes, we're excited.

No, I'm not crazy.

No, Tim did NOT decide this for me and Yes, he can speak for me in saying we're excited about it.

Yes, they all have the same dad. That's one of the reasons I made this choice--it's a whole different thing having a bunch of children in  a stable, happy family situation.

I think it's a boy, but I would welcome a girl. I just think it's a boy. No, I really don't CARE which--I'd be glad to have either. (When people ask Tim, "Do you think it's a boy or a girl?" he answers, "Yes.").

Yes, Anda is hoping it's a girl. And no, we're not praying for a girl (and neither is Anda) at this point because the baby's gender was determined at least a month ago and all the prayers in the world won't change it now.

No, we're not done. Yes, we plan to have more. We're thinking eight children sounds right for us, but we would gladly have more (I saw a picture of an ancestor with 11 kids and my first thought was that she must be the happiest woman on earth and wouldn't I love to have a dozen children!). No, I don't think I'll actually HAVE a dozen (until they get married, and then with spouses and children I should have MORE than a dozen someday. Hooray!). Why 8? Well, each of our children, when they were 3 years old, has drawn a picture of our family, and all of them have included 8 children and 2 adults. So we thought that would be a good spot to aim for, but not be too strict. I might stop at 6. We'll do what we feel inspired to do, so who knows. Are YOU planning on  having more? And why did you stop at 3? (Okay, I never say that. But I want to. Also, "I don't know how you could stand to stop at 2 or 3. I would spend my whole life worrying that someone was missing!" and I never say that, either, because I believe firmly that God has a plan for our families and our lives, and for some families that includes 3 kids, and some none, and some 15, and that if we follow HIS plan, we'll be happiest of all the options we had--and that it's not MY business to determine the plan for you or to criticize your choices in that.)

Yes, Tim wants a big family, too. When we were dating, even, we used to tell people if we ever got married, we wanted to have 14 kids. And we were serious.

Yes, I've said we were done after each of the children was born. And then I changed my mind when they started talking and walking.

No, actually, I hate babies (I've loved my own--but for the peopleness of them, not the babyness of them). When someone else walks into a room with their newborn, I invariably think, "No, I DON'T want to hold that. Why would I?" But I love toddlers and kids.

No, pregnancy is not easy for me. Actually, I loathe it. Actually, I get sick for a good chunk of most of my pregnancies, and pretty much find it a miserable YEAR-LONG experience because I also recover very slowly (not inclined to leave the house, for example for 4 months after instead of the "usual" 2 or less, don't feel like exercising for 18 months after). Plus epidurals leave me with numb spots on my body for 6-8 MONTHS, so there's all kinds of weird discomfort associated with pregnancy and childbirth. But some things are nasty and worth it.

And thank you for admiring me for doing it--Tim is admirable, too, and God bless you, too, you poor thing!

No, we don't know what we'll name the baby. We never do until it's born. But we like to give our children names that are also attached to some hero they can look up to (like a scripture hero, or a family history hero). Consequently, we do have a list that includes names like Isaac, Jacob, Sophie (Sophronia), Elizabeth.....solid names with solid role models attached to them. One of us has always known the baby's name shortly after each was born, so I assume we'll figure it out. The kids have added such names as Tag Grapejuice, Felicity, and James Iguana to the list for good measure.



I'm not ever sure how to answer people who say, "I could never do that." or "How do you do that?"

Honestly, my first response to the second question (which I've never let out publicly but want to some day) involves explaining things in detail and then saying, "Really, your mother should have told you all about this."
Usually I end up mumbling something like:

Well, I'm one of the lucky women who doesn't have to go to work every day.
or
You have to do what's right for YOUR family, and this was what's right for MY family.
or
Well, I am lucky and have a really happy marriage, so we can handle raising a big family.
or
It's not really that hard--two isn't much worse than one once they aren't babies anymore because they keep each other occupied. I actually get MORE time to myself than I did with one baby. And 5 isn't so different from 3. Especially since they're not ALL babies. The big kids pretty much can take care of themselves--and help with the little ones.
or
Oh, well, I let some things slide. I don't keep house, for example. (Which is true but always gets a laugh--it's so unbelievable that they think I'm just joking.)

The comments that Tim gets are different, but incredibly not supportive and, with both the comments both of us receive looked at as a whole, reveal a societal ideal that says babies are a curse women can and should avoid, and that REAL women want jobs instead of babies, and that the joys of womanhood are tied up in career, social status (which is based on career and money), and using our talents (to get social status and money, of course)--anything but raising children. (Which is actually REALLY funny to me because, despite all the "modern" women's vehement condemnation of the Victorian woman, this is the exact ideal the Victorian women were set up for--the richest and most powerful women then also aspired to have few children and have someone else raise them.).

Basically, Tim and I both get condemned on every side because "obviously" I am not an empowered, free woman (like they who are forced to follow society's current ideals are any more free than the '50s woman who was expected to marry and have babies and no talents except housekeeping? NO. Different constraints, but still enslaved women. Sheesh. How could the feminists be so blind?!). We've been condemned for making Tim make all the money. We've been condemned for "not allowing" me to become who I "want to be" and have a career (since, obviously, I'd never WANT to be a stay-at-home mother?). Tim has been condemned for presuming to understand what a woman would want (even his wife) and speaking for us (in saying things like "We're really excited about this"). We get condemned for having babies when we're poor because it's irresponsible (I figure we won't always be poor, but then it will be too late to have a lot of babies, so we have to do it now).

We also make people who have fewer kids than us uncomfortable--they always feel obligated to defend their choices in childbearing. Why? I don't know.

And then when people find out we're homeschooling....we'll we're REALLY weird. (They always say, "I could never do that" and I always want to say, "It's actually easier and takes less time and stress than getting 5 kids off to school in the morning and then supervising homework at night".)

And, surprisingly, the underlying assumption of all of this is that I must be stupid (like, with a seriously low IQ, not just foolish) or I would NEVER choose babies over a career (which is funny, because I feel like I've delayed a career to develop my talents and interests, not given up on one forever), and I would understand that the public schools are far superior to anything I could do at home (never mind that I was a professional educator for 8 years before I had my first baby!).

So you can see why I've hesitated to announce this one. It used to be greeted with joy and excitement. Now it's greeted with discomfort (on their part) that leads to awkward conversations (at best) or subtle or overt condemnation (at worst).

In some ways, feminists have (ironically) destroyed our society for womanhood. What a shame.

My sister in law who has very carefully timed her children by the Spirit (same as we have and with different results) said you get criticized either way--for having another right away or for pausing. You can't win either way. I think she's right.

But WE are EXCITED about our announcement and totally thrilled at the idea of having six children.

So there.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I've been absent lately, no?

I haven't been writing much here lately. Why? It's a case of tons of stuff and nothing happening all at once.

There are a lot of exciting things out on the horizon. But I've been around the music business long enough to know that until the performance is over, nothing is sure. Even a signed contract isn't a sure thing in music. So there are some cool things in negotiations right now. Some of them have been floating out there for 4 months now. Some already fell apart. Some were kind of out there for a long time and never pursued until recently. Some just came up and are REALLY exciting--but I hate to mention them when they're not "real" yet.

Besides, exciting in 3 months isn't the same as income right now. Even with an exciting future, we have to deal with the present, which is exciting and scary all at once.

There are some good happenings that are for real already. Tim and I have both been working on getting him more shows. So far, the most effective thing going is for him to go out and perform. Consistently, he gets "wow" and "I brought my friend to see you" responses. Consistently, one show is leading to another (that's what you hope will happen!). Things are moving right along. His performing calendars for the groups are starting to fill up with gigs. It's really exciting. And the gigs that happen are going REALLY well.

I've also been not writing much because every time I use the computer, Nathanael crawls up on my lap, swipes my hands from the keyboard, and takes over. Or screams. Depending on if I let him get away with it or not. Makes it hard to write. He's screaming right now because I put him down instead of letting him kick me off the computer.

So I have to stop writing.

Just when I was getting to the good part......

Friday, April 09, 2010

Did I just read that?

 from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2010/04/08/ex-wife-asks-court-force-nba-star-allow-daughter-reality-tv/:

"“It is a true shame that Glen Rice puts his dislike and apathy towards his former wife ahead of his daughter’s desires and attempts to derail his wife’s interests,” Cristina’s attorney, Raymond Rafool, told Pop Tarts."

Like Father, like daughter? Except apparently they are competing to make the ex-wife miserable.  

(It also struck me as funny that the attorney is named RaFOOL when he said something like that!)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Did I just read that?

from http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2010/04/07/air_marshal_subdues_man_on_dc_denver_flight/ today: "Federal officials say the FBI is probing whether a man tried to ignite his shoes on a DC to Denver flight. An official says an air marshal on the flight apparently restrained them."


Good thing those shoes were tied up!


(No word what happened to the guy who was wearing them, though.)


The next line is pretty great, too: " The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation."


Huh?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A song from my childhood

Honestly, I can't tell you why a Yiddish song is a fondly-remembered part of a nice Mormon girl's childhood--but here it is!  We lost our recording when I was a young teenager, and I was so sad. Until tonight, when it occurred to me that just about everything is on YouTube. Unfortunately, this is the only video I could find with the right performance on it--and there's no music citation, so I still don't know who the vocalist is!

So ignore the college kids drinking pics and Enjoy the song:

:

Monday, April 05, 2010

International Children's Digital Library

AWESOME resource. Read online if you want. Sign up for an age-appropriate or parent account. Or just read and read (in many languages!).

http://en.childrenslibrary.org/

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Kid-friendly Easter Candy Recipes, by request

I made these up as I went, so I didn't actually measure most of the amounts. The ones given here are pretty close, though.

This is an incredibly, unbelievably child-friendly activity. In fact, even small children can practically do it themselves. The only tools you need are the microwave, a microwaveable dish, a spoon, a ziploc bag, and a pair of scissors (child safety scissors would even work). The chocolate gets a little hot at first, but cools so quickly that by the time I crossed the kitchen, it was safe for kids to use (although you MUST be a responsible adult and touch it first before you hand it to your kids!). It's fast, and gives nearly instant results, and it involves messes, playing with dough, and sweets. What could be better? And the result is fancy enough that you can give it to your visiting teachers when they come by.

The Chocolate:

1/2-1 tsp shortening (don't use margarine--it has too much water in it)
1/2 c chocolate chips (we used milk chocolate, but that's not important)

Melt these in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is smooth. If you add more shortening, the finished product will be soft and melt in your mouth, but also all over your fingers. Less shortening leads to a firmer product. For chocolate bunnies, we preferred the firmer chocolate. For peanut butter filled eggs, the softer had a more pleasing "eat". You can make more than this at a time, but it ends up firming up before you use it all. We had to repeat this recipe several times to make our 7 bunnies, 3 dozen peanut butter eggs, and 3 dozen marshmallow eggs.

To make chocolate bunnies:

Draw a bunny shape on paper, or print one off the internet (a coloring page would work great). Put the drawing UNDER a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet or plate (something you can pop into the freezer easily). Spoon the melted chocolate into a ziploc bag and snip a TINY snip off the corner. Squeeze the chocolate out the hole to "draw" an outline of the bunny on the wax paper, tracing the drawing underneath. Then either spoon chocolate or squeeze more in to the shape to fill the outline as thick as you like (we found the kids don't care much about how thick they really are, so we did thin).  You can decorate these before they set up with snipped up mini marshmallows (for eyes and tails), melted dark or white chocolate, mini ribbons, raisins, chopped nuts, or whatever you like to make it look festive. We let each child decorate their own chocolate bunny, which ended up being WAY more fun than unwrapping one they got from the store. Once it's decorated, pop it into the freezer for 5 minutes to overnight (however long you need to keep the little fingers off them!). They peel easily from the wax paper when they are still frozen.

Filled candies:

Peanut butter filled eggs (or disks or bunnies or hearts or pumpkins or whatever you like)
  1/4 c margarine
   1/2 c creamy peanut butter
  1/2-1 c powdered sugar.
Stir together the margarine and peanut butter. Then stir and knead in the powdered sugar until you have a nice playdough consistency.

Marshmallow filled eggs (this is so easy it's almost embarrassing)
   Using scissors, snip large marshmallows into thirds or fourths the short way (making 3 or 4 egg-shaped or round disks).  Snipping them compresses one side, and if you don't mess with them much after you cut them, they retain this egg-like shape, which is what you want for Easter. If you want marshmallow pumpkins, handle the disks a little and they bounce back to round. If you want another shape, cut the marshmallow disks into whatever "parts" you might need--strips, triangles, etc--to form the finished shape you want.

Assembling the candies:

Prepare your filling. If it's marshmallow, snip them and set them aside. If you are using peanut butter, make the dough and then shape it into the shapes you want--we did eggs. The kids helped with this and had a GREAT time. It's best if you make the bottoms flat and the tops as round as you like. Set these aside. (If the dough is made, you can do the forming part after you make the chocolate bases if you want). The peanut butter recipe made 37 large eggs, plus enough for everyone to snitch now and then (because what's the fun of cooking if you can't taste the dough?!).

Using the melted chocolate in the ziploc bag as described above, squirt little egg-shaped or disk-shaped (or whatever shape you want, actually) "bases" onto wax paper. Fill them in with chocolate--they don't have to be completely filled because when you put the filling in, it squooshes the chocolate and fills the gaps. You can also spoon plops of chocolate onto wax paper, but you have less control over the shape this way, and you end up with a lot thicker chocolate bottom than is necessary--it tends to spread and ruin your shape. Don't worry if your egg shapes are wobbly and uneven, or different sizes. The filling is what really gives shape to the candy. I found this is so flexible that the kids made the fillings totally different than the bottoms, and put them on upside down (narrow end to fat end) and it all came out fine in the end anyway.

Before the bottoms set up completely, gently press one filling onto each. The fillings should nearly or completely cover the chocolate bottoms--the less chocolate overhang you have, the nicer it looks in the end (if the chocolate sticks out too much, the finished product looks like you accidentally set a marshmallow in a puddle) (of course, you can trim it before you serve it to make it look prettier). This is easier than it sounds because the liquid chocolate tends to expand just to the size of the filling, and the fillings can be squashed, snipped, slid around, etc. to make them match the bottoms. It's very much an art and not so much a science, which makes it perfect for kids to do.

Once all the fillings are in place, reheat the chocolate if you need to and then spoon, brush, or squirt chocolate onto the tops of the fillings, and smooth it down the sides until it touches the chocolate of the base. This is easiest when the chocolate is melted and cooled but not stiffened yet--when it's melted and still warm, it's really quite runny and makes a nice little puddle around the candy. If the chocolate gets too stiff and wants to be spread instead of smoothed, just pop it back in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to soften it back up.

Put them in the freezer until they set up. We used too much shortening in most of them, so they stayed really soft. This ended up being messy for handling them except when they were frozen, but ideal for eating them, when the whole confection just melted in your mouth.

When they were frozen, I wrapped them in tinfoil because the kids wanted foil-covered eggs like they saw in the store. If you had markers, you could color the foil, too. We didn't, and it turned out the kids were more interested in eating them than looking at them after all.

This, I think, will be a new Easter Tradition for us. Not only was it fun, child-friendly, and yummy, but it was dirt cheap. You can get a bag of chocolate chips for $1-$2 on sale (it took us about 1 1/4 bags to make all these candies). Less than half a cup of shortening costs mere pennies (since a huge tub is about $2).  Marshmallows are $1 a bag, and we didn't use the whole bag (only about 1/3 of it). And 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 c peanut butter and 1 c powdered sugar also cost pennies each--and they're likely things you have around the house anyway.  I figure I spent less than $4 for ALL that candy. In contrast, wax-filled, preservative laden storebought easter candies (of the cheapest variety we could have bought) would have cost us $3 for that many marshmallow eggs, at least $3 for the peanut butter-filled kind (and closer to $10 for the EDIBLE peanut butter filled kind for that many), and $7 for the cheapest, waxiest chocolate bunnies we could find!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Easter Party Day!

We don't do egg hunts on Sunday--too much partying for the Sabbath for us--so we had our Easter Partying today.

We started preparing yesterday. There isn't spare money lying around this year for Easter Candy, so we looked at what was at the store and then came home and made peanut-butter filled and marshmallow-filled eggs (and they came out GOOD and were really quite easy and cheap). We bought some cheap jelly beans and peeps and foil-wrapped eggs (for $3.50 all told) and dug up our plastic eggs from years gone by. We found basket-like things (3 baskets, an empty ice cream bucket, and, inexplicably, the two big kids picked a plastic jack-o-lantern and a doll carseat with a ribbon tied on it for a handle! And we boiled 2 dozen eggs.

And then the kids were ansty because I made them go to bed. Daniel woke up after 4 hours of sleep ready to party, and I sent him back to bed. Then a few hours later when he woke up, he was nearly in tears because he thought it was Sunday and he'd missed the whole Easter Party Day!

So today between sessions of conference we dyed Easter eggs. Benji's first egg came out of the dye pink, and he cried. It was so distressing to him to see a pink egg that he made me peel it immediately--and he ate it. He didn't feel comfortable with the whole idea until he saw the big kids nearly finished with their eggs--then he consented to eat colored eggs, but refused to dye any. They each got to color 5 eggs--first with crayon and then with egg dye. The fact that we had egg dye was no less than a miracle. When Chas was here, she did a lot of cleaning (THANK YOU, CHAS!) and one morning I woke up to a clean counter with a little plastic packet of what I immediately recognized as 6 egg dye tablets sealed inside. I don't know how Chas found it, but it was a huge blessing to us. The kids had a great time dying eggs. And then using the leftover dye to paint pictures on fabric, just to see what happened.

Then we filled plastic eggs with candy. The rule at our house is you can only fill your assigned color of egg (each kid gets the same number of plastic eggs, all of one color, to prevent warring, fighting, and competing. And they fill their own so they get what they want inside) and you have to fill them as full as you can (see, since they want to do that anyway, we just made it official so there's no fighting or guilt), but they have to still be able to click closed and stay that way without help (no scotch tape!). Each kid got 7 eggs this year (because that's what we had on hand).

Then we listened to the second session of conference (WONDERFUL).

After it was over, we headed out to do an Easter Egg Hunt. I'm all about easy on the mom, so we set up a chart (so that nobody would see their eggs before it was time), and each kid hid another kid's eggs. I think they might enjoy hiding the eggs more than finding them!

We don't do the wake before dawn and tell your kids a magic giant egg-laying bunny laid eggs all over the yard that you are supposed to EAT (gross!). We don't do fancy elaborate easter baskets with presents in them (why start a tradition like that?! More work, more expense, more thing-related expectations.....I don't even want to pretend to go there. And the kids are plenty happy with coloring eggs and hiding and finding eggs and candy.) We don't do special Easter Clothes (although I love pretty pastel dresses with ribbons and ruffles, Easter dresses are particularly expensive--and I can't seem to reconcile that with Christ's sacrifice that we're supposed to be honoring. So if Anda wants a pretty new dress any time and I can afford or make it, I will because it's fun to have a pretty dress....but not on Easter. It takes the focus off the atonement and puts in on our clothes and our appearance and ourselves). We also don't do "you get as many as you can find....good luck" egg hunts because that is mean to the kids who care the most--the little one. (Great way to celebrate Christ's sacrifice for us--by holding out the promise of something small children REALLY want and then grinding their faces in the dirt because they're tiny. Nice tribute to what Jesus is about.....)

We don't do a lot of the traditions. But we do family and we do fun, and the kids don't care about what we don't do.

And the kids did have fun. They found eggs. They ate candy. They helped make candy. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Anda made everyone Easter Trading Cards to collect. They made good memories with each other. (We did still have some tears. Even with the great lengths we went to in order to abolish competition from the party, Daniel still cried because Anda found her eggs faster than he found his. Ah, well. You can't solve everything.)  All in all, it was a nice holiday.

So Happy Easter Everyone!

Did I just read that?

From http://bgdailynews.com/articles/2010/04/03/features/feat3.txt:

"Who should report the suspected abuse or neglect of a child?
Anyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is being physically abused, sexually abused, neglected or is dependent."

Yes, well....all children must be reported by these standards because they are ALL dependent.