Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bad Video games....bad corn syrup...bad. bad.

Ironically, as I copied that link in, little Benji was beside me setting up his little people. Then he folded his arms and began to pray, and one of the only phrases I could understand was 'Tank-o for Annie and K-bee, Dan-oh and pikpik. Tank-o for tendo. Amen!" (translation: "I'm thankful for Anda, Caleb, Daniel, Pikpik the Pikmin (from the nintendo game), and the Nintendo. Amen.")

And we thought high fructose corn syrup was bad in and of itself! Maybe there actually a link between mercury poisoning and things like autism, like the parents claim, but it isn't coming from vaccines. Maybe it's coming from the treats kids start eating at about the age that autism is recognized--things about everything you buy prepackaged nowadays, from juices to pizza sauce. It all seems to have high fructose corn syrup in it.

It actually makes me feel more determined to keep making everything from scratch as much as possible. Much of it isn't hard to make (including pizza and spaghetti sauces and candy), tastes better, and has 'real' ingredients. That and the bisphenol A and recent salmonella scares have me wondering what other poisons are added silently to our foods. Makes you wonder if the 'conspiring men' in the scriptures aren't just in the wine industry. Makes you wonder if we really are that much better and safer than China, after all. Makes you wonder if it's possible to make caramels without corn syrup (which has high fructose corn syrup in it--read the label).

In Troubling Times

You know how sometimes bunches of stuff jump out at you as significant to what situation you are in?

That's me this week.

So I'm going to share a few quotes I found that seemed somehow important when I read them.

First, from Elder Hales, in the BYU Magazine:
"I have a simple message: never dwell on the past or attempt to protect your comfort zone against the changes required to meet future advancements. Past learning creates a valuable foundation of experience upon which to build, not a comfortable place to dwell for a lifetime. As you stand atop any peak you have climbed, enjoy the moment and look at the remarkable view and the progress you have made. But then turn around to see what new peaks are in sight and set a course the climb higher."

Regarding Michael Tunnell, who helped judge the Newbery Awards this year: "What has Tunnell been looking for [in children's literature]? Something that he says is becoming harder and harder to find. 'You've got to have a good strong plot on which to hang character development, on which to hang your beautiful language,' says Tunnell."

Danny Ainge says: "You have to be able to react when opportunities present themselves...It's a little bit of brains and a whole lot of luck." and "People aren't booing you if you're no good." and a picture of him wearing an "I hate Danny Ainge" t-shirt, which I think is a fantastic statement about how we take both criticism and praise.

And, from an old National Geographic I dug out of a box this week, Walt Unsworth said, "Had Mount Everest been climbed at the first attempt, the achievement would have been hailed as notable and then quickly forgotten. It was, ironically, repeated failures which gave the mountain real stature."

And then you really MUST READ THIS: It's an article by Elder Holland about the miserable times in our lives, about how "We are not alone in our little prisons here," as he says. It is absolutely required reading for anyone who has or will suffered anything in life.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh, stuff in the news

Iceland's government collapsed.

ADHD drugs can cause hallucinations and psychotic episodes in kids, turns out.

There is a virus that can make you fat.


Warner Music is slitting its own throat by alienating the people who buy their product under the name of 'copyright law.'

Unfortunately, YouTube has a 'guilty until proven innocent' approach to copyright, to protect copyright holders, and if your video gets flagged, you don't even get to ask what you did wrong--they just take it down. This seems like a very cut-and-dried approach to copyright, and it seems fair. If someone uploads scenes from a movie, or music from a cd they bought, it makes sense.

But it doesn't allow for gray areas. Like Corey Vidal's moosebutter tribute to John Williams, which is based on Williams' music, but is clearly its own creative work on two levels--first when moosebutter wrote the instrumental music into a song that is clearly different from anything Williams created himself and performed it themselves, and then second when Corey filmed the video of moosebutter's creation, which he did have permission to use. I personally heard Tim grant that permission.

Like 'Wicked', 'Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead', paintings by Andy Warhol, music by Weird Al, there is source material that was used, but the resulting product is clearly and indisputably a creative work in its own right. I've seen this called both a derivative and a transformative work, and, as such, different laws apply. And no, it's not like publishing fan fic--the music laws are different than the print copyright laws. For example, anyone can do a performance of someone else's song--it's legal if they pay royalties.

So the rights of Warner should be different. They shouldn't be allowed to make a blanket copyright claim that prohibits self-defense.

Apparently, though, there is no precedent for what happened to Corey/moosebutter's video on youtube, and entertainment lawyers are itching to make it a test case. Rumor has it some have offered to take the case for no charge to Corey. Whenever I heaar lawyers offer that, I start looking for the dollar signs. Lawyers aren't generally known for getting involved unless they see potential for either lots of easy money, or fame, or both. I suppose getting to be involved in establishing the case law might be enough for them, but I'm wondering if they're seeing the potential for a payout for 'damages' or something.

I'm also wondering where we fit into this picture. I think it would be dreadful if the case went to court as Corey vs Warner, and he won and then they came after us. I suppose if Corey decides to do the court thing, we'd have to talk to the lawyer up front, too, to find out the implications of all this for us, since the disputed copyright infringement was actually the song and not Corey's performance of it, and we own the song, even though he owns the video.

The funny thing is, other people have illegally reposted the video, and theirs are still up, although we or Corey could legitimately make a copyright claim against them. Plus there are dozens of other videos that use that song that are still there. Maybe the issue is actually that Corey actually was making money off the video (something like a third of a cent per view, so not much money--why would Warner make such a fuss over a couple thousand dollars?)

Anyway, Warner is in hot water anyway for alienating both their musicians and their fans, and they may be past the point of reconciliation with either.

For the hundredth time in the last 5 months, I'm left saying, 'I wonder what's going to happen next?'

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the latest in the star wars saga

Go here:

He said it better than I.

It's a parody--the copyright laws as such don't apply. Plus, while Warner owns distribution/publishing rights (including songs put with images) of the songs as well as the recordings of the Star Wars theme, that song is not in the video; I can't seem to track down the publishing rights-holder for the songs that actually were parodied.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Raising Creative Kids

It has come up several times in the last few days that we, as a family are "unconventional."

One of Tim's friends from the ward sat down with him and asked, "How do you handle us nine-to-fivers?" It was a question I'd never considered before. How do I handle them? I spend all my time either hiding from them or trying to be more like them, on the obviously mistaken assumptions that, 1) their way is ideal and 2) they won't notice we're different.

Obviously they notice.

The thing that surprised me was that Tim's friend went on to express how discontent he is in the 9-to-5 world.

It hadn't occurred to me until that moment that, perhaps, we were looking at them in jealousy ( insurance...steady acceptance) and they were looking at us with jealousy (adventure...freedom from 'keeping up with the joneses'...liking what you do for a living...pursuing/living your dreams...being able to actually DO all those bizarre things people dream of...a colorful life instead of boredom).

Tim explained that we didn't chose to be unconventional--we can't help it (he didn't mention that we've fought against it unsuccessfully for years), and that the 'free' life isn't so free--he works 16 hour days every day and we still don't always know where our next meal is coming from or how we're going to dress our children when they grow or get a car that will actually fit us all comfortably. He also didn't mention how threatening/lonely it can be to be unconventional, and how often we are judged, or how Tim's nieces and nephews haven't been able to have a normal relationship with him since they saw him on stage, or how unconventional also means we go to church on 4 hours of sleep, can't do primary parties, have kids wandering the halls at church, don't invite people over because the house is a disaster and we still haven't unpacked after being in Nevada for a year (we don't even own living room furniture still!), or go into details about how many awful illnesses we've picked up traveling, or how it feels to be more comfortable with the waiters and the sound guys and the band (the other 'back door people') in any formal gathering than we ever are with the other guests (who are, so often, the audience for us).

One of the comments we always get, though, is that people are impressed with how smart and creative our children are.

And how can they do that, too, for their kids?

The answer more unconventional. Doing what everyone else does to raise kids produces kids that are a great deal like all the other kids.

I was actually appalled the other Sunday when one of the nursery leaders sat down with a kid and said, "You're gonna have to learn to just go along and do what everyone else is doing." That may be standard 'make daycare easy on everyone' childrearing, but I totally disagree with teaching that as doctrine, unless you intend to raise middle managers.

Here is how we 'make' our kids creative and bright:

We provide resources and get out of the way.

We let them fill their time, instead of us mandating it.

We assume that their projects are just as important as ours, and let them get on with it, even if it involves mud or building a train set in the living room and leaving it for a couple of days, or using the video tapes as building blocks. Even if it means skipping part of dinner so you can get that last sentence typed on your story. Even if it means listening to hours of 'what HP should my RPG character have at the start of the game' or 'how big should this map be' or 'do you think we could sew this tonight?'

We take on the role of coaches or guides rather than teachers, bosses, or traditional parents. Yes there is a great deal of teaching that goes on in our home, but not the way school teachers do it (even in our homeschooling).

We let the children discover and develop their own talents--not ours, and not ones we predetermined they ought to have--and let them control the way this happens (instead of imposing lessons on them, we let them know what's available and watch for the spark in their eye that says, 'Now THAT sounds cool.')

We respect our children as though they were adults--adults who outrank us in every way. This doesn't mean we don't parent them (teaching, feeding, nurturing, disciplining, comforting guiding, etc). It just means we do it with utmost respect for who we're dealing with. These kids aren't OUR property--they are God's princes and princesses, and we don't have the right to destroy them.

We assume the house is not mine, but ours--they live here, too. They get access to the resources, too.

We fill our home with supplies for creativity and let the kids use them even if it's messy. I save bits of ribbon and paper towel tubes, and bits of colored paper, crayons, books, wood, empty cans, etc. And let them use it. I taught the kids to make mud on purpose.

We think in public, and discuss things in public, and let the kids see us learning new things, solving problems, pursuing creative activities, thinking, questioning, and doing what we hope they will do.

We not only tolerate dialogue, we encourage it. We expect our children to say, "I don't want to" and "why not" and "that doesn't make sense" and we never allow ourselves to use the answer "because I said so." We reason, discuss, negotiate with them from the time they are able to communicate (like, age 2 seconds old....). We laugh with them, talk to them, and never assume they have to agree with us. Everything is open for discussion, debate, negotiation, and possibly change. Just 'cause I'm older doesn't mean I'm always right, you know.

We 'tune in' to the kids as much as we can. We notice if they are unhappy or overjoyed, and try to get them to communicate with us about those things (so they learn to analyze not just 'i hate that' but why they hate it and what they personally can do to change things).

Mostly, we try to give them the tools to succeed and get out of the way.

having a baby in Nevada

Everyone was right. It's a doctor's world out here.

In Colorado, childbirth was seen as a natural thing that doctors were there to help with just in case something went wrong. But they still considered it natural, not a 'medical condition'. The prevailing attitude was 'let nature run its course', with the doctors only intervening when there was a clear medical reason. Mothers were told "you can do it natural, but medication will be available if you should need it. But you can do it."

Here, it's just the opposite. Pregnancy and childbirth are a very medical thing. I was told outright by more than one doctor that they really prefer you get an epidural, and there's no reason to try to do it naturally (and that women who do prefer natural childbirth are somehow either foolish or crazy). And, to my chagrin, the doctor was very much in charge of my labor and delivery.

Some background on my previous experiences. I've had, prior to Nathanael, 4 epidurals. ALL 4 came with bad side effects that are supposed to happen only rarely. Number one left me still feeling the delivery, but completely unable to walk for hours and hours afterward, and then my feet were so swollen for a week afterward that I could hardly walk. Number 2 I got a spinal headache they refused to fix. Number 3 I accidentally got a spinal instead of an epidural, with tons more medication than was okay for a spinal--I was numb to my chin, and my tear ducts were numb, and 3 doses of ephedrine didn't get my blood pressure up enough, so they finally had to turn the epidural off. Then the baby was so adversely affected that he had to be in the NICU with breathing problems for 24 hours. Number 4 only took on one side, so they upped the dose so much that one leg was numb for 9 hours, and one strip down my back was numb for almost 6 months. MONTHS. My doctor said sometimes the nerve damage is permanent, so I was glad when I got the feeling back.

So I was hesitant to get an epidural this time, and I spent a great deal of time preparing myself for natural childbirth, figuring I'd be fine because my babies come within 20 minutes of them breaking my water anyway. My plan was to labor until I was dilated to 6 or so, and then have them break my water. I figured I could handle the next 20 minutes, no matter how bad it was, and be done, since it takes 20 minutes to get an epidural anyway.

I was doing fine, too. Went into labor at 8:00 am, checked into the hospital at 10:00 am, figured I'd have the baby by 2:00.

Then they called the doctor. He said stall until he could get there at 5:00 pm when his day shift at the clinic was done.

So, despite my wishes, they stalled. They wouldn't let me get out of bed, or even sit up. They ordered an epidural for me (which I consented to), but then gave me a double dose on the doctor's orders without my permission--and for no reason than to stall my labor on purpose!

The baby came at 5:22 pm, just about 40 minutes after they broke my water. Interestingly, the epidural, even with the double dose, only took from the navel down. Across the top and left side of my uterus, I could feel most of what was going on--and I could have handled it naturally just fine. Except maybe the stitches afterward.

Anyway, after that the trouble continued. I asked my nurse (one of those Nazi kinds who resents that you've done this before because then she can't just do whatever she wants with you) what I had to do to get the IV and the catheter out, and then met all her conditions and she still wouldn't remove either. I had to not only walk around, but cry to a different nurse to get my catheter removed (when it should have been removed in the delivery room 9 hours earlier). I had to beg for food after I'd been in the hospital 12 hours. The nurse wouldn't turn my lights off in my room, so I had to get back out of bed to do it. The daytime nurse was finally the one who took my IV out--she said the other nurse gave her reasons why it had to stay in, but she didn't remember or agree with them. The woman was just being a bully.

I went home as soon as I could after the mandatory 24 hours were up--we had to wait for the pediatrician to release the baby first, so it was more like 27 hours, and I was up pacing the room for the last 3 hours of it.

I was not surprised when a nurse told me that TONS of women had babies the day before (so many that we sat in triage for 3 hours waiting for a bed in the delivery wing to empty so we could go in), and all of them were checking out after 24 hours.

Next time, I'm determined to go with a midwife, since here it's the only way to have any say in your labor and delivery. I think I can do it naturally, and after 5 bad epidurals (number 5 didn't take all over, and it left my right thigh completely numb for over 24 hours, even after all my joints and my foot had wakened), I don't think I have much to lose!

Still, I am extremely grateful for a healthy new baby (our healthiest so far, despite the fact that he was born blue). And I am slowly but surely recovering. The epidural site and stitches site stopped hurting yesterday, so I'm hoping the worst is behind me.

Except for that sleep issue.....

Monday, January 19, 2009

Donut Bread

I've been making all our bread for a couple of months now, with a great deal of success (if you go by how fast the loaves disappear). But Tim had mentioned a couple of times that the bread was missing something--maybe salt? I had noticed, too, and already upped the amount of salt in the recipe, so this time I tried other things, and the bread came out tasting just like...Donuts. Go figure.

Here is the recipe:

1/3 c sugar
2 tsp salt
3/8 c oil
1 tbsp yeast
1 tsp vanilla
2 c hot water (around 120 degrees, or as hot as a baby's bathwater)
3/4 c freshly-ground wheat flour
3 seriously heaping plus 3/4 measured c white flour
2 eggs

Put ingredients in mixer bowl in the order listed, pausing after you add the water to be sure the yeast gets a chance to foam. Mix using the dough hook until the dough forms a ball around the dough hook, adding flour if necessary to make a dough that is tender and soft but not sticky. DO NOT MIX 'TO LET THE GLUTEN DEVELOP'--that is completely unnecessary and actually ruins the dough. Play with the dough a little to even it out and then put it in a greased bowl and microwave 10 seconds. Turn the dough over and microwave 10 more seconds. Cover with plastic wrap and raise in a warm place (I heat the oven to 115 and then turn it off and raise it there so no kids will get into it) 3 times for 30 minutes each, punching the dough down after each. shape into loaves and raise once more in bread pans. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Turn out of pans and cover with a damp paper towel to cool. Tastes more like donuts hot than cold, but good both ways.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Meeting the Baby

I don't usually do photos on this blog, but these express better than words how the children have received the new baby, and how he's adjusting to everything.

We didn't pose any of these pictures, although for the one with all three big kids looking at Nathanael, we did say, "wait, wait! Go back where you were so we can get a picture!"

Needless to say, I am pleased and relieved.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

favorite products of 2008

I've been meaning to post this for two weeks now.

I discovered some products in 2008 that really are fantastic and really do make your life easier, and I thought I'd put them here.

Kids 'N Pets. This is an enzyme solution that really does remove the smell (and often stain, too) from the nastiest kid messes in the hardest to clean places. It takes vomit and pee out of mattresses and carpets, and blood stains out of pillows, and it's relatively cheap. We buy it at WalMart--bottom shelf half-way down the cleaning stuff aisle. It beats carpet cleaner hands-down at getting the smell of vomit and diarrhea out of carpets and mattresses--and there's no scrubbing involved. Squirt it on and let it dry, and the stain and smell go away.

Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner. I'm generally opposed to adding more chemicals to our lives by cleaning with cleaning solutions. Water cleans most things just fine, and the old tried-and-true (and safer) alternatives of bleach solution, ammonia solution, or vinegar (not all together--that would literally be suicide) tend to work on the tougher or dirtier stuff. But scrubbing bubbles spray-on foam really does spray on and wipe off, taking the toughest bathroom messes (including soap scum) right off. No more scrubbing in the bathroom!

Magic Eraser. It actually cleans crayons off walls without removing the paint. Cleans those textured handles on the large kitchen appliances that never quite look clean. Wipes fingerprints off walls. And is cheap and lasts a long long time.

Home made bread. I know this sounds like it would make your life harder, but there are few things as easy to make as bread (believe me--most people make it much harder than it needs to be). We started doing only home made to avoid preservatives that are in storebought bread. Not only is it healthier, but it's cheaper, especially if you consider the quality of the bread you get and the cost of going to the store to get it.

Speaking of which, I have to go punch down the bread that is raising right now.....


I really appreciate everyone who makes comments on my blog. I apologize if you never see follow up comments from me--I'm not trying to be rude. Blogger often doesn't let me post comments on my own posts for some reason. This is a recent problem and I hope it will work itself out.

In the meantime, make up a response if you need one right away, or email me directly, or contact me through facebook.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nathanael Hyrum Jones

born 1/09

7 lb 10 oz

21 inches


Thursday, January 08, 2009

funny headlines

This one was from

Marked "new", it said, "Polaroid camera produces prints on the spot."

Hmmm....I thought that's what Polaroid cameras always did....

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Watch CBS at 9/8c

A friend called tonight to congratulate Tim, and said she was excited about tomorrow.

I had to think for a minute--what's tomorrow? We're having a baby? We schedule an induction (even though I really didn't want to....)? Is a job coming through? The NBC contract gets signed?

Oh yeah! The 7th--the People's Choice Awards!

9:00 pacific time.

The list of nominees is here:

"Star Wars" A cappella tribute, noted in the second to last category on the right column, is Tim's group, moosebutter, singing Tim's arrangement of the classic moosebutter song, "Star Wars" in a video by Corey Vidal. It is definitely weird to see it listed this way--with this company.

Anyway, almost everyone I know has reported they would be watching. We don't have a TV that picks up tv signals. Sure we watch videos and play nintendo, and watched dvds until our dvd player literally caught on fire. But none of us sees any value in TV. Almost anything worth watching can be seen later online, with few to no ads, and when it's convenient for us--way less intrusive that way, and much easier to be selective.

I'm sure we'll be watching the results show up online somewhere, or getting feedback from family. For a while there was some indication the video was ahead in the voting, but last minute votes can change everything, so we have no idea now.

I have jokingly told Tim since we got married that he had to get nominated for a major award while I was pregnant so I could show up at one of those fancy award ceremonies really round in the belly. I even mentioned it just last October that Tim had 2 1/2 months left to get himself nominated for an award. I don't know why I always thought this would be cool--to show up as a tribute to motherhood instead of as a body for men to lust after, I suppose.

Anyway, it happened--he got nominated for a major award, and I'm heavily pregnant--so heavily pregnant that I'm forbidden to travel because the baby is coming any day now, so we couldn't have gone even if we were invited. We'll have to leave the personal appearance to Corey, who (despite rumors from moosebutter fans) is a trusted friend of Tim.

And we, around here, will likely either be watching from the hospital as we deliver another baby boy (wouldn't that be funny!), or following up online.

Someone asked, "So what happens if he wins?"

Probably Nothing.

Prestige, but only a little. Hopefully a little exposure for "Corey Vidal and his voice, Mister Tim".

As far as I can tell, a win is a little bigger sticker for your resume than a nomination is--one that, if we're lucky, will result in a couple more contracts for songs/videos that will keep us in food and shelter for another month or two. Even winning a Grammy, in the long run, is just another resume tick that can possibly get you one step closer to having a longer career in music. But you still have to work, travel, record, market your stuff, keep producing more, and be good enough that people want to hear what you have to sing.

Will we suddenly have a million dollars? No. Will a million more people know that song? Hopefully they play it on the show and the answer is 'yes'--because it will drive more people to the websites, to the online stores, and to hiring Tim (and Corey) for other stuff.

Is this the end somehow--the "hey you made it?" No. You never really 'make it' in music.

Is it one more adventure, for sure. This past 12 months has been full of those.

Adventures keep life interesting.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Parenting Magazines

When I arrived at the doctor's office this morning, he was out doing an emergency c-section. So I waited. To his credit, despite the surgery and getting stuck on the freeway, I was there less than 2 hours (the other doctor I transferred from kept me 2-3 hours when he was in the office!).

It was long enough to read one of those stupid parenting magazines.

I came to the conclusion that parenting magazines are mostly written by people with one or two kids--and therefore can't be nearly as valuable as they would if they were written by women with 3 or more kids. Raising one or two is just a different thing--you generally have more money, the ability to pursue a career, and the mistaken idea that you still should be spending every moment with your child (partially because they demand it). Parents of one still sterilize binkies that hit the floor, you know? They still change the diapers when the baby pees in it once (instead of letting it get really soggy or stinky first like the rest of us do--not because it's ideal, but because that's about when we notice that it's wet or yucky). Parents of two, even, still make sure their kids clothes match and are stylish (most of the rest of us are just grateful if they all have clean clothes on, and some days if the diapered ones manage to be dressed at all!). Parents of one or two still believe in bathing their children every single day, and doing infant massage daily, and feeding babies gourmet baby food.

And the parents of one or two still read those parenting magazines in the doctor's office looking for answers to every little question, most of which are actually best answered with "Pay attention to your child", "respect them as you would any adult", or "wait for them to grow out of it because they probably will."

This particular issue included some funny facts. There was a section on understanding your baby's temperament. It included sections on "The oversensitive baby" and "the fussy baby" and "the overly calm baby." That's it. Like there are no other types of child, and the 2 paragraphs of advice on each of those was enough to help you understand your very individual child?

The other funny thing I found was a note on a purportedly scientific study that said that women who report heartburn in pregnancy are more likely to have newborns with average amount or more hair. This is so deceptive. For one thing, it never defines how much heartburn the women reported, or how much hair constitutes 'average or more'. Since most women experience some amount of heartburn during pregnancy, and average or more hair would include at least 2/3 of women, we haven't actually stated anything significant here. Besides, an average woman looking at her baby for the first time is unlikely to know how its head of hair compares with other newborns--and will probably assume it has an average amount of hair (which is really meaningless anyway).

Anything to fill space, right?

At least that was shorter than the lengthy article on how your astrological sign determines your parenting style. The article was stunning in its ability to say the same exact thing to each different parent, regardless of their sign, but in a dozen distinct ways so that you would be unlikely to realize you were getting generic advice.

Oh, and the doc eventually did show up and said the baby is low enough that I shouldn't bother to call if I go into labor--just get to the hospital and don't bother to spend the first couple of hours of labor at home. I suspect that means I'll show up in labor and have to spend those hours laboring there instead.

Funny news headline

From the Deseret News website today:

"Y. study recommends eating restraint"

So now we're supposed to eat seat belts?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Baby Names

We have a family list going of baby names. It includes some that Tim and I both like (Hyrum, for example) and some the kids like (including most of their boy cousins' names).

Some of the more interesting that have been proposed (in seriousness):

Jacob Tenors
James Iguana
Boy (Dan insisted on this one for a long time)


Dan's newest addition, as of last night, given in perfect seriousness:

"My vote, mom, is Grapejuice Tag."

Happy New Year

This year's resolution: make no resolution.

Shoot. Failed already.

For our New Year's Eve, I missed a doctor's appointment because we got a flat on the van. It's been leaky for a long time, and Walmart wouldn't believe us so they wouldn't fix the leak. Now it's bulgy and scary, so we had to put the spare on. They could have saved themselves some money patching the leak--instead we'll probably get a new tire out of the warranty.

In the evening, we took the kids to ride on the city bus. This might not seem so great to you, but the kids have never been on a bus before, and we have big gold double decker buses here. And for 24 hours (from 6:00 New Year's Eve to 6:00 New Year's day), the busses were free. So we loaded all the kids onto one and rode across the Strip--up on the top deck, right on the front row--and then back. It took 2 1/2 hours because the area around the Strip was a MESS. But the kids had fun--except Benji, who wanted to run around in the bus.

Anyway, we came home and ate home made ice cream (made with chocolate pudding and crushed candycanes--really yummy) and watched videos. Tim fell asleep on his office couch at about 10:00, and I went in to tell him happy new year at just about midnight and found him sleeping. So I poked my head outside to see if we could see the fireworks they were shooting off up and down the Strip. I couldn't see the fireworks, but I could hear the booms and see the yellow glow--it honestly sounded like someone was exploding the casinos.

Then I heard the screaming and cheering on the Strip at it struck midnight proper. We live 4 or 5 miles from there, but there were supposedly nearly a million people down there partying, and they all cheered at once. Now I know you can hear a million people cheer from much farther than 4 miles away! And the Strip wasn't the only noisy place. Even in our little quiet neighborhood, there were shouts of "Happy New Year" outside.

While we were on the bus earlier, Anda asked what New Year's Eve was, and I tried to explain that it's the year's birthday. She understood, but then said, "Why are we celebrating that?!"

Good question.