Sunday, January 31, 2010

Late for church

I felt terrible that we were late for church. An hour late.

Never mind that it usually takes 2 adults working frantically for an hour to get us there, and we only had one adult.

I felt guilty and like a failure until I looked at it this way: By myself, and with a whole bunch of other people seeing the results, and with a time limit (and without breakfast), I had to deal with 6 heads of hair, 4 pairs of pants and 2 skirts, 5 shirts with a combined total of 30 buttons, 22 of which I had to do up myself. I had to find TWELVE shoes in six styles (not 5-and-two-halves styles) and six specific sizes and that six people were willing to wear. I had to find eight socks in four sizes and put 6 of them onto feet, and then tie 4 shoes, some of them twice. I had to come up with 2 pairs of glasses and supervise the cleaning of approximately 120 teeth. 6 coats, 2 blankets, 4 buckles, 2 strollers, one hat, one diaper bag with six diapers, 3 bottles, and six snacks before we could leave the front porch--is it any wonder we left an hour late and I forgot to lock the front door? And that's without serving 6 breakfasts (we ran out of time!) or preparing 6 sacrament meeting quiet activities (missed it!) or giving 6 baths (too tired to even face it!).  And then I had to get two umbrella strollers 1/5 mile, half of it along the busiest road in town and all of it with a 4 year old pushing a baby in the stroller (scary!).

Perhaps I am too hard on myself for expecting all that to go smoothly?

Loved her words about failure

Hitting rock bottom is, indeed, rather comforting.

This is scary

Friday, January 29, 2010

Print this and put it with your food storage

This is a really useful guide to purifying water in a disaster situation. It's worth printing and keeping with your emergency supplies.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More reason to eat more magnesium

Business Finances

So I finished the taxes for the year. I still haven't forgotten the year Tim filed separately from me and ended up with the government taking 90% of his income for the year. Pretty shocking.

This year, we filed jointly. Tim is self-employed, and this was the first year he was exclusively self-employed, with no major long-term contracts with anyone.

People always think that musicians make a lot of money, but it just ain't so.

Sure he made about a pretty decent wage, comparable to his peers, this year--and that was barely working at all (it was a rough year for work!). But, being self-employed, it came in irregularly  and we have to pay for ALL the expenses of the business, including travel and costumes for the guys who sing with him. It broke down roughly like this:

31.5% of the total income paid other people (singers, sound guys) for their work alone (not costumes, etc).
23% went to travel to get Tim and the various singers to shows
15% went to other expenses (costumes, props, shipping merchandise, business office expenses, his work cell phone, advertising, equipment)
30.5% for us.

In other words, we got a third of that fairly decent income to actually live on--we could easily have used that much again toward the business for producing necessary materials, like press kit dvd demos and cds to sell, and that would have been on a shoestring. Oh, and we still had to pay thousands in taxes because self-employment taxes are non-negotiable. (Actually, our child tax credit paid for them, but it was less we got back in the end than a normally-employed person would have).

We are not unique in this. And, as the show pay goes up, so do the expenses (you end up having to bring your sound guy and own equipment to make sure you sound $15,000 worth of good, and have costumes that work for that, and pay more taxes, hire better musicians, pay agents and managers and producers, etc).

My conclusion from all this: Don't be a musician if you want to be rich. Music doesn't pay.

(That's not to say we quit--we're in this for the long haul).

Interesting: Family and Creative Parents

This seems particularly important to me since Tim is a musician and I am a writer (and we have many friends who are creative and parents).

The conclusion, in case you don't read articles, is that it's better to let your children be involved in your life, with all the ups and downs and weirdnesses, than to try to make their lives "normal" or otherwise shut them out.

Did I just read that?

On Google News today: "Overweight Elderly Have Similar Mortality to Normal-Weight Elderly "

Yeah. They ALL die. 

Nathanael's Stuff drawer

Nathanael discovered the drawer at the bottom of the oven last a few months ago--the one people keep muffin tins and lids in?  He claimed it for his own, and occasionally crawls over there and stashes some thing or other that he likes in that drawer.

So last night I peeked in, curious what matters to a just-barely-1 year old.

What I found:

2 untasted frosted animal cookies
1 apple core
a plastic bowl
a popsicle stick
a wallet-sized picture of his aunt and 2 cousins that he's only met a couple of times
a bit of paper towel
a math quiz
a small ball of bread dough (now hard as rock)
an empty candy wrapper
the cut-off end of an otter pop package
a single square of frosted mini wheats
a 1" square of dried bread.

Every once in a while he'll take something out of his stash, but mostly he adds to it every couple of weeks.

I invented a gravy recipe--and it came out good!

A dose of nature works as well as Ritalin?

So says this study:

"A small study of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder last year found that walks outdoors appeared to improve scores on tests of attention and concentration. Notably, children who took walks in natural settings did better than those who walked in urban areas, according to the report, published online in August in The Journal of Attention Disorders. The researchers found that a dose of nature worked as well as a dose of medication to improve concentration, or even better."

Perhaps this is why so many Wilsons just need to go wander in the mountains sometimes?

Kids need PLAY to Learn

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Did I just read that?

"Natural Stone Fabrication and Installation - (Denver) <<labor gigs"

Well, now: if it's NATURAL stone, how can it also be FABRICATED? Hmmmm?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I can't believe the people actually SAID this:

""This organization is extremely intolerant and divisive and pushing an un-American agenda," said Jehmu Greene, director of the Women's Media Center, which is coordinating a campaign to force CBS to pull the ad before it airs on Feb. 7."

The organization in questions: Focus on the Family.

The ad: an anti-abortion ad.

Families and babies are now un-American? That is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE.

He goes on to say, ""Abortion is very controversial, and the anti-abortion vitriol has resulted in escalated violence against reproductive health providers and their patients," Greene said.",2933,583999,00.html?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a4:g4:r2:c0.000000:b0:z5

And that's worse than killing babies.  You know, if we banned abortion except in very limited circumstances, we'd save the babies AND the doctors and patients. 

Mr. Greene cited Dr. Tiller as an example. Dr. Tiller was murdered for what he was doing. And what was he doing? "Aborting" babies in the 8th month of pregnancy--many of them because they had some handicap--by injecting poison into the womb that killed the babies and then inducing labor in the mothers. Poor doctor Tiller indeed! What about poor murdered babies? He killed HUNDREDS before some "lunatic" with "religious delusions" (that's his defense in court) killed him to save the lives of these babies--babies who would otherwise have been born and lived full lives just 2-3 weeks later. Babies who, had their moms gone into labor naturally, would not have even had to spend time in the ICU for premature birth.  

And saying that is wrong is un-American?! GIVE ME A BREAK.

I have read that even abortion doctors are starting to have moral qualms about the whole thing. How could you not, when, as one abortion provider put it, you abort a baby at 20 weeks upstairs, and then go downstairs and save the life of one whose mother went into premature labor--at 20 weeks.

Did I just read that?

"In April, dozens of doctors working in teams over 30 hours performed the world's first simultaneous partial-face and double-hand transplant at the Henri Mondor hospital in the Paris suburb of Creteil on a 30-year-old burn victim. The man died in June after suffering a heart attack during follow-up surgery.

Prosecutors said in December they would not charge the owner, Sandra Herold, because there was no evidence she knowingly disregarded any risk the animal posed."

Er? The owner of what, the hospital? The hands and face that were donated? Wait--the hands and face came from an animal? What animal? Or was it the surgeon doing the follow-up surgery who was the animal?

Great educational essay--Why Standardize? Nobody's asking that....

This article makes a good point. What benefit is there in Standardizing education?

Parents of both gifted and Autism spectrum kids have been saying this for a long time: wouldn't it be better to teach to a child's talents and prepare them to function in their best capacity in the world? Why do we insist that every child be a polymath. In reality, the Leonardo Da Vinci's of the world are few and far between, and it's an unrealistic goal to educate all children to be that.

This article points out that what we create is an educational sham--a "fake" education that is dumbed down rather than making all kids qualified in all areas.

While I do believe that there is a body of knowledge that all students should have been exposed to (partially in order to give them the most opportunities to discover and develop their talents!), I don't think expertise in every area is a worthy or realistic goal for most people. And it gives kids a false expectation of human achievement, ability, and possibility.

Coolest Baby wrap ever

I have an awesome baby sling that I use all the time that my fab sister in law made for me. But I'm always looking when other moms says, "This worked for me."

Here's a new one. 4 1/2-5 yds of stretchy fabric, cut in half the long way (so about 22" wide) and wrapped like this:

Baby goes like this: (check out the "hold" instructions).

Very cool because instead of slinging on one shoulder (which most baby slings do), this one wraps like a hiking backpack, with shoulder and hip supports.

If any of you have tried this, let me know how it works. I want to try it with my next baby (whenever that happens!).

Be sure to read the pdf for safety info and tips for exercising with your baby slung on  (I've always wanted to do that!).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Did I just read that?

from a letter I got in the mail from All State (and like 3 other letters I've received from auto insurance companies in the last month or so): "About Seven out of ten people who switched to Allstate paid less."

Not sure why Seven gets to be capitalized but ten doesn't.

But more than that--OF COURSE they paid less. That's why they switched. What they don't mention is how much MORE they cost for all the people who didn't switch to Allstate!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Floor



Did I just read that?

"A team from Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage, a leading association of scientists and art historians, has asked to open the tomb in which the Renaissance painter died in 1519."

He was buried and then died? Wow. That's tricky. Especially since we're talking about Da Vinci here, and he supposedly died in the arms of the King! (

Especially when you take into account this statement from later in the article: "The church in which Leonardo was buried was destroyed after the French revolution of 1789. The remains were reburied in the castle’s smaller chapel of Saint-Hubert in 1874, beneath an inscription that describes them as “presumed” to be the master’s."

Did I just read that?

From a craigslist ad from a supposed music agency/management team: "Compensation: Residules From Your Sales"

Gives me a lot of confidence they aren't a scam--the word is Residuals.

Not sure I can trust a company that can't spell words they should be using every day.

I don't know whether to say "Stay Away" (to the artists) or "Learn to Spell" (to the management).

Also, using the word "residuals" in this context is a red flag. I might be wrong about this, not being in the music contract biz, but my understanding was that residuals are usually paid to film and TV performers for repeat broadcasts of their shows. Musicians usually get royalties. I guess if a management team (crew in the ad, though I've never heard of them being referred to that way) published (in music this means what normal people would call "placed") the song in a film or TV context, the musician might get residuals. Perhaps that's what they mean?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Installing Hardwood Flooring

So last year Tim found 5 boxes of hardwood flooring--solid oak, not engineered--for $25 a box. The store said they were a set, all matched. So we bought them. And gave them to my parents to do their floor. BUT they decided to go with concrete (good choice!).

So we got the wood back.

So I decided to install it in the bedrooms.

By myself.

Before we unpacked anything.

And, with a 1 year old hanging around, it's taken a long time.

First, I tried using the old carpet as the underlayment, but that didn't work. So....I found something that did work that we have a bunch of: Cardboard. If you ever try this, diaper boxes are the best. I tried several different kinds, and they had the best results.

Unfortunately, it turned out all the boxes of wood weren't matched colors. We had 3 boxes of walnut stain, and one each of gunstock and honey. Fortunately, I have two bedrooms to do: one 120 square feet and one 80 square feet or so, and there happened to be 40 square feet in each we got one walnut room and one that will be a pattern (stripes maybe?) of honey/gunstock oak (which are very close and will look really nice together).

I had no tools, money, or desire to nail down the floor even though it was made for that, so I bought myself a thing of wood glue, pulled off the baseboards, and went at it.

I did 1/3 of the floor over the last 7 days and 2/3 of the floor today and found that the parts that I glued to each other came out fantastic, and the parts I just "floated" are good, but not quite as good. Still, it came out good. Not a professional job, but with furniture in there, only a professional would notice that!

Unfortunately, I went into this project hurting. And now that it's done (except one last baseboard that will go on before I sleep, but maybe when Tim comes home and does it for me!), I think every part of my body hurts. Both legs. One knee had just recovered from some bizarre pain (I can't say injury because I don't remember injuring it!), the other I managed to kneel on the corner of a board right and hurt it. Both hands are REALLY hurting--wrists already ached from too much typing on a laptop (not as ergonomic as a keyboard), now my hands and fingertips hurt to touch. My back aches. My arms ache. My shoulders ache.  My neck aches. I'm shivering and can't stop even though the heater is on.

And I don't usually get hit with the full effect of any overdose of physical action for 24-48 hours. So I'm dreading what happens next.

Yes, the floor is done. And yes, it looks beautiful. (I'll post before and after pics when Tim gets home with the camera).

But at what cost?

($77 and pain....)

Funniest thing you'll ever see if you've ever sung in/conductor a choir


Microsoft's big claim for Windows 7 is that it starts up faster and returns faster from sleep mode. So the other day I sat down the the laptop and desktop both off. I pushed the button for the laptop, and then the one for the desktop (a little bit older machine running Windows XP). The XP machine was ready to roll first. By a split second. And that with all it's "baggage" that older machines collect. I'd say it was a tie.

So much for "Starts up faster."

Faster than what?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Why I think "The Arts Flourish in a Depression."

I hear that all the time: "The arts flourish in a depression." and "When the economy goes bad, the arts get stronger." and "Creativity doesn't just blossom, it explodes in times of economic turmoil."

The reason most people give is that "When times get tough, people need something to cheer them up, so they turn to the arts."  And I think this is true. But only partially true. From a consumer's point of view, this is the explanation.

But what about from an artist's point of view?  I've been thinking about this all day.

First, some background on the indie music biz (I don't know the record label biz at all).

The music world (at least the part I interact with) is arranged in a continuum. It looks something like this:

Hobbyists and dreamers--people who dabble in music, love it, and try it but don't belong to any group and aren't performing in public, although they go to concerts ALL the time and buy cds and are great core fans. These are people who are perpetually plotting out/trying to start/auditioning for groups but never actually get them off the ground. These people have no idea that there is a business at all and believe that their only way into music is by the "big break" method--like winning American Idol.

Garage bands and other amateurs--People with little training and some (little or great) skill who actually get out and use what skills they have and actually play shows, but mostly to friends and families, and mostly free. Some of these are trained musicians. Some are really really really good and will move out of this group if they can get the business sense. Some belong in the garage singing to the walls.

Local acts--these are people who get paid to perform in their city or county and who do some work and get paid for it, but only a little bit (dinner-$300/show, generally speaking). Some of these are really good and are building their fan base and will move on to other levels. Some are still playing to friends and family only--they just happen to have a lot of friends and family members in the area.

Regional acts--Groups that rehearse and perform regularly, sell cds, and have a regular following--not only friends and family. They perform in their region (state or group of states), do fairs and festivals and local corporate shows, and are known around town. They usually make $1000-$3000/show, sometimes a little more, occasionally a little less. And they invariably think they are better than they actually are (which is actually pretty good, to be honest, but not polished up great). These are the "semi-pro" groups that are big fish in a small pond, and they made a decent amount playing out around the area, but keep their day jobs (although they dream of being able to quit and often say, "We have something to offer the world" and get frustrated that things aren't taking off). They are usually looking for an agent or have one, but still aren't clear on the difference between a manager and a booking agent, pay (often too much) to produce their cds at the best local place and sell them in local music stores and online. They are real musicians, and working, but only on a regional level and not full time. That's not to say they aren't quite good. My experience with regional groups has been that they are pretty good, pretty big-headed, and got to where they are pretty haphazardly (in other words, they can't tell you how they did it, and they kind of expect the next step to "just happen" in the same way), and pretty hungry to move forward.

Professional/National Acts--These are groups that tour nationwide. They have management. They sell cds and produce more cds (have more than 2 albums out there, usually). They wear costumes when they perform (even if those are "street clothes"). They know how to efficiently do a sound check, often tour with their own sound guy, work the corporate market, as the headliners on cruise ships, as headliners at fairs and festivals and you might have heard of them, but most especially within your favorite genre. These groups can get 5-to-6-digit paychecks per show, with $5,000/show being low end/starting point and $15,000/show being more common. These groups do small runs in Vegas and other resort towns and can name the A-list celebrities they've worked with. They are too busy with music to have "real jobs" and most of them have been doing it for a long time. Also, most of the performers in these professional groups are doing more than one thing in music (they perform in 2 or more groups, teach lessons, do solo gigs on the side, write songs, do studio work, etc). My experience has been that these musicians are hard-working, friendly professionals. They know their jobs and do them well, but aren't divas.

Household names--These are the big guns. These are the people whose songs you hear on the radio and who can't go out in public without paparazzi following them. Their entourages include groupies, roadies, semi-trucks of equipment, elaborate and expensive costumes with staff to care for them, security people. They play only large venues and get paid six or more figures per show. Usually more. These people are backed up by record companies and the media.

Legends--These are the performers the household names want to meet someday. These are the people who created their genres, who everyone knows, who don't even have to perform anymore but if they do go out, they make millions of dollars per show. There are just a handful of these groups/artists, and a good number of them are dead. These are the Elvis, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Beatles-level musicians.

Notice there is a gap in the pay scale between about $300 and about $1200. The local groups really aren't worth that much, and the regional groups can't afford to work for that little. (When you divide the income 5-10 ways, plus pay expenses and taxes out of it, $800 suddenly isn't very much money--especially if you have to pay a sound guy or travel--or both!).

So, what does this all have to do with the arts flourishing in times of economic crisis?

When the economy tanks, like it has, companies and cities find their budgets shrinking, and they take the money out of the "non-essentials"--like entertainment for company parties or city festivals. Venues find there are fewer people with disposable income, and they just aren't selling $50 tickets as much as they used to, to they have to drop their prices and cut back their schedules to get people to come. The end result of all of this is that there are fewer shows available for musicians, and those shows don't pay as much. This is a double-hit for musicians. Normally, you can make your money as a musician by working for high fees or by doing a lot of shows for moderate fees. When the pay drops and there aren't lots of shows available, things start to fall apart.

The legends and household names go on tour or get shows in Vegas (you watch, they do it--it's their way of working again when things get tight).  Audiences with limited entertainment budgets still pay a lot to see these guys because they don't come around as often. Consequently, they aren't going to see the lesser-name groups because they spent their money to see their very very favorites.

The professional touring musicians--national market but not household names--suddenly find that nobody can pay their usual fees. This is a serious hit for them because they are the ones who don't have day jobs, relying solely on their income from gigging and other music work to make ends meet. They are willing to gig more to make up for it, but there aren't more gigs and the gigs that are available don't pay enough to keep them alive, forcing them out of the market (at least in part) and into day jobs, which leaves them working for the very-highest-paying shows on the regional level.

Interestingly, the pro groups working the regional markets for pennies on the dollar while they start new day jobs is invariably paired with the regional groups (remember: big-headed, don't know how we got here and deserve to be ahead of where we are) suddenly getting desperate to break into the national market, partially because they are getting pinched in their day jobs (just like everyone else) and music has always brought them  a good second income. They've done the math a zillion times, usually, dreaming about quitting their day jobs and "going pro". With the day jobs being less satisfying, and the regional groups inexperienced in the music business, they inevitably figure this is the time to make their leap to the national market (which, they assume because they've never thought about it, is a steady selling place, impervious to economic hardship because arts flourish in a recession, right?). Finding it economically and ideologically difficult to accept lower-paying regional shows, they start to limit themselves to the highest paying shows they've known before, putting them in direct competition with the national acts right when venues and organizers are all, across-the-board, dropping their budgets and pay for musicians.

The result: There ends up being a bunch of shows that pay $300-$1200 that other people aren't taking.

So what happens? The small fry get a break. $300 is more than they've ever earned, so they feel like they're flyin' high.  Startups made from experienced musicians who are just looking to get their next project off the ground get a break. They expect to work for free-to-cheap for a while to get their names out there anyway, so it's fertile ground for them. Local groups get a break--their overhead is lower, so they can afford to take the shows from buyers that used to bring in national and regional acts but now can't afford it (since show fees usually are travel and lodging PLUS the cash amount of the fee). Small bands and solo acts get a break because they can work for cheap.

Anyone who can work for cheap finds the door suddenly wide open at the same time as a bunch of established groups are leaving the business or scaling back (out of necessity).

The odd thing is, the quality goes up at the same time. Why? The middling groups--passably good but not top-notch--in the upper half of the continuum suddenly find themselves in competition with each other and with both lower-ranked and higher-ranked groups. The demand is down, so the supply tends to purge itself because the buyers can take their pick, and they tend to pick the best.  In the lower end of the continuum, buyers who are used to working with semi-pro and pro talent find themselves unable to afford it, but with the experience to recognize the really talented groups from the other pools--and with pressure from audiences/ customers who are used to seeing the best. With their background and experience, these buyers are capable of combing through the cheap acts and pulling out the really good stuff (which has been there all along, actually, and which would probably have made it out of the slush pile eventually).

Furthermore, people who are in it for easy money or to get rich and famous (an illusion which can be endlessly fed in economic boom times) get disillusioned quickly in bust times because there's too much work for too little pay and no security.  This leaves the people looking for work who have music in their souls and who just have to do it to be happy. The true musicians, in other words. The ones who find that the rehearsal and performance is part of the pay, so that money isn't the reason they're in the business. These people will work for cheap even if they can't afford it because they'd do the show for free and for the intangible benefits. These people invariably are more talented and harder working, producing a better product.

So, with fees down and competition up, what you get is the really talented who are willing to work for cheap suddenly find themselves working, especially if they have some understanding of how the business works (ie can run their own sound if necessary, can make themselves sound good on any system using audio hacks, know how to produce good-looking press materials cheap, are willing to and know how to do the booking conferences and other buyer events, and--bottom line--produce a rockin' show!).

The reason the end users (to borrow from computer parlance--the audiences and record buyers) see a flowering of art is they are being suddenly exposed to a lot of stuff they've never seen before because it was buried in an avalanche of available groups. It's not that those things weren't out there before.  It's not even that the really good groups wouldn't have made it to the national level anyway. It just would have taken longer.

I LOVE it when science supports my instincts

I have always let Caleb spend as much time as he wanted on computer games--as long as it was in CREATING them instead of playing them.

Turns out, science says I was smart after all:

I have been using this deliberately as a homeschooling technique for Caleb. When people question using building computer games as educational, I point this out. When Caleb is making a computer game he is heavily involved in:

1. Technology use--Caleb is not scared of computers, and he is perfectly capable of learning how to use new technology (relatively fearlessly, too--surprising in a kid who cries, still, when something electronic doesn't work right and who panics and turns the machine off when messages show up on screen that he doesn't understand).

2. Character development--on a level far advanced of most college-level writers. He even grasps firmly how dialogue reveals character (which many adult writers--even published ones--don't understand).

3. Plot development--again on a level far advanced of most college-level writers because game creation accepts that plots have a problem-solution structure, a questing nature, primary plot and subplots, and that each character has his/her own plot, all of which must ultimately weave together to accomplish the primary plot. He also has to plot out the entire story to make the game work, but be flexible as new things come up. Caleb has a better grasp of plot and character than ANYONE who studies only literature.

4. Map use and creation

5. Artistic design using traditional and electronic tools. Games require you to "draw" or obtain drawings of your characters in various poses and from various angles. These are used on "sprite sheets" that the program accesses to animate the characters. Caleb, using drawing programs you find on your computer and online (like MS Paint and Gimp) draws and modifies sprites to get the effects he wants, frequently coming to me flushed and excited because he learned how to "make a transparent explosion" or "make the fire look more real" or "developed a new technique to make the characters look invisible" or whatever. Serious ART and design skills, as well as electronic design skills. I have watched Caleb edit pictures pixel-by-pixel to get them just right, and create new colors, and spend HOURS drawing realistic special effects.

5. Math. Games are worked out on grids, using the right numbers of pixels, and are tied firmly to math. I frequently have someone run in and say, "What's two times 17.5?" or "What is half of 320?"  Caleb understands area, perimeter, multiplication, and basic programming logic in ways that most 8 year olds don't get (not because they can't but because who cares how big the table top is or how many tiles it takes Dad to re-do the bathroom)!

6. Music. Caleb understands that instrumental music tells a story and can influence people. He spends hours poring over music files searching for just the right feel for his "boss battle," and we frequently have discussions about "what kind of music is right for a cave scene....but what if it's a cave battle scene....or a haunted cave scene...". He hears the details in music. He is engaged in non-computer-music, too, as he hears in classical songs the same kinds of details and stories that he hears in computer songs. He and Tim are going to sit down tonight or tomorrow and start songwriting lessons. Why? Because he needs a theme song for one of his creations and couldn't find one in the public domain that he liked.

7. Intellectual property law. What? You say. Yes. Caleb has had reason to learn about copyright, fanfic, intellectual property....he frequently asks me things like, "Is there music in the public domain that has to do with firebirds?" or says things like, "I love this game, but I can't ever release it because it's based on someone else's characters."

8. Sound and audio recording and editing. Caleb asked me just today, "Is there such a thing as a font list but of sounds?" I know what he means. Not all explosions are the same. Caleb spends a lot of time finding and synching sound files to his games. He also edits sound and is learning more about that, and delights in recording dialogue and special effect sounds for his works.

9.Social Studies. Games have been a perfect chance for Caleb to explore the interactions in societies, the roles and breakdowns of governments, intrigue and deviousness on a grand scale, as well as the roles of heroes and supporting characters--and not just on a fantasy level. Not all games are fantasy, after all.

10. Problem solving. Creating games is not easy. Caleb has learned how to learn, and how to creatively solve problems, and how to "get back up on the horse" and also when to quit. He's learned how to find the things he's  missing, and how to find the resources to teach him because I can't do it.

11. Computer programming. We're just getting into this because you don't need it to make games anymore.

And because game creation is essentially advanced storytelling, Caleb has also picked up writing comics and filmmaking and editing as side hobbies.

With all of that, I figure he's got most of the elementary school curriculum covered. Why would I stop him from doing that--so he can open a workbook and put an x on the river on the map in their picture?

As I FREQUENTLY tell concerned parents whose kids love to use electronic media:  It's not the screen that's the problem. It's what's ON the screen that counts. What's the difference between writing an email to Grandma and writing a letter to Grandma? Electronic is not inherently evil.

Screen time is not bad simply because of the's what's on the screen that counts.

I think the reason we, as parents (even homeschooling parents) shy away from using computer games to teach is that we still believe somewhere inside that a)education is dry and should be and that b) the lessons and going through the motions are "education" rather than achieving the outcomes. Does it REALLY matter if we do or don't go through the workbook on maps if Caleb can use maps and create his own? I don't think so. But I have to stop and remind myself of that over an over. Why not make the hoops fun to jump through? The result is not the same--it's better. Kids learn more and more thoroughly when they enjoy it and have reason to be engaged (reason besides "I don't get to play if I don't do this blah stuff.").

Bottom line for me: Education should be joyful, not the mental equivalent of immunizations.

Daniel ate a walnut!

Yesterday, Daniel ate a banana muffin. Then I ate one and discovered, to my horror, that it had WALNUTS in it!

So I watched Daniel closely all the rest of the day, and all the next day....and nothing happened!

Perhaps it was the psyllium he was allergic to after all! So I finally looked up what psyllium is. It's the husks and seeds of the English Plantain, and people who have grass and pollen allergies tend also to have psyllium allergy, too. Usually it causes hives or eczema or a runny nose. Occasionally, it causes anaphylactic shock. Like it did in Dan (maybe). Psyllium is usually found in fiber laxatives, but is also sometimes included in foods as a supplement. It's not a common allergy, but it's not an uncommon allergy, either. So no metamucil for him!

(I'm not ready to say he can have walnuts yet. Why take risks like that?)

Resources for parents of gifted kids: Why your kid might not have ADD

I've found over my 8 years as a mom that MANY "disorders" have crossover symptoms. For example, when I took a "test" intended to diagnose ADD, I had TONS of the qualities--I can't sit in one place for very long, I feel compelled to jiggle my feet when I'm sitting on a hard chair, I squirm a lot, etc.--but the cause of the symptoms is not ADD. It's fibromyalgia. The behaviors might be the same (squirming to relieve pain), but my pain is physical and the ADD pain is cognitive.

One of the "crossover" diagnostic groups that doesn't get much press is the crossovers between Giftedness (especially profound giftedness) and both ADD and the Autism Spectrum Disorders.

For a concrete example, check out these articles:

Notice that both mention "He is soooo sensitive and feels other people’s pain as his own."

It turns out that a lot of the things people noticed about Caleb that they labeled either ADD/ADHD or Asperger's Syndrome are also things that are part of the diagnostic criteria for gifted kids (like hypersensitivity, a tendency to get overstimulated, a slight-to-massive disconnect with age-peers,  a tendency to get fixated on something, an over-attention to some details but inability to see others, etc).

It MAY BE that those things cross over because giftedness includes disorders. But Fibromyalgia doesn't include ADD necessarily.

We could compare it to an itch. Say I have an overwhelming urge to scratch my arm. You could say, "You have a mosquito bite." And, in fact, I might. But I also might have a healing sunburn, chicken pox, a cancerous mole, a spider bite, poison ivy, eczema, an allergy to strawberries,  a random itchy spot, dry skin, sympathy pains for someone who is itchy, been exposed to itching powder, or any number of other things.

And while many of these might be relieved temporarily by hydrocortisone cream, some respond better to benadryl, and some to calamine, and some to scratching! Treating them all the same is not only a mistake, it can be counter-productive or even harmful.

It's a mistake to attribute all similar symptoms to one disorder. 

Also, suppose, for example, that Asperger's syndrome has been inappropriately grouped with the Autism Spectrum disorders...suppose it actually belongs on a "Giftedness spectrum". Would we consider it differently? Would we treat it differently? Would we give Aspie's different respect and "breaks" in the world? You bet.  The reality is that every "disorder" is just an extreme expression of a normal "order".  So if you make "giftedness" a spectrum of order, isn't it possible that at some point you might move so far down that spectrum that it becomes a disorder, meaning it disrupts your ability to function in your world? And isn't it possible that the disruptions might express themselves in the same way that other disruptions do (like in an overfocus/inability to focus cycle of interest/boredom)? 

Part of the problem here is that society has defined "gifted" as a desirable thing, and so they refuse to/cannot see what challenges are associated with it, and if you try to do research or talk about it, the common response is either that you're bragging, or that you should "stop whining because you have what I want" (kind of the same response you might have if a self-made billionaire complained about the outlandish taxes he has to pay, or the unrealistic social expectations, or his struggles to maintain privacy and safety--you would have very little sympathy because he has something considered highly desirable in our society; like if a supermodel complains about the beauty regimen she has to go through. Tough beans, right?). The idea is "it's tough being perfect, isn't it"

There is very little research on these things--we either want to label a person "normal" (like me), "handicapped" ("not as good as me, even if they have a gift for financial genius") or "gifted" (superior than me so obviously their challenges are just them whining or grandstanding) without being able to see the whole picture accurately. 

I guess if a "disorder" is defined by the diagnostic criteria, then gifted people DO have ADD, Asperger's, or whatever. But if a "disorder" is defined by its cause, even if the treatments cross over...then we have things pretty messed up.

So is it appropriate to treat some giftedness disruptions? I suppose so--if ritalin helps the profoundly gifted brain finish projects and not say inappropriate things, is that helpful? SURE. But wouldn't it be MORE helpful if we first properly identify what's going on first?

So, some links to peruse if this interests you:

"It was the fact that gifted children are intense. They do overreact to situations. "

Good article on gifted kids being misdiagnosed as somehow "broken" instead of "gifted":

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Best science site EVER

Do your taxes online FREE--no income limits this year

For the first year (to my knowledge) ever, the IRS now has online forms you can fill out and submit. They look like paper forms (ie no interview like TurboTax has to help you), but they do the math for you. And it's free and fast.

Alternately, many tax-prep software firms offer free tax preparation for certain populations (low income, military, etc).

Links are here:,,id=118986,00.html

Monday, January 18, 2010

Did I just read that?

From fox news today: "The victims have all been women, ranging in age from 65 to 91. One rape victim played piano at her church on Sundays. An 81-year-old woman scared off an intruder with a gun, firing several rounds for good measure. A 66-year-old woman was attacked twice, despite having moved across town following the first assault.",2933,583256,00.html?test=latestnews

Please tell me what playing piano has to do with anything here?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Did I just read that?

This was pretty outlandish. At least the paper that reported it realized that: "Fault Line

Actor Danny Glover says the earthquake in Haiti is a result of global warming. Glover told GRITtv that it could have happened to any of the Caribbean island nations: "They are all in peril because of global warming."

Then, he lamented the failure of the climate summit in Copenhagen. As a result of that failure, he says, "this is what happened."",2933,583162,00.html?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a4:g4:r5:c0.000000:b0:z5

Cuz, you know....everything bad is because of Global Warming.  Naturally.

Considering Destruction

How could you not? Looking at photos of Haiti and hearing about the destruction, you think about it. Cry for them, wonder for us.

For friends and family in Utah, it's worth it to read this:

Haiti got a "sometime in the next 2 years" warning--and it wasn't enough time to rebuild the entire country (esp. since they had no money). You just got a "sometime in the next 50 years" warning. That's enough time.

So here's the thing that I keep seeing--the people are starving and thirsty.

I realize that even if you had a year's supply on hand, it would have been destroyed (potentially) in a disaster like that. But here in the US, chances are better that entire cities wouldn't be knocked down, and that if you had storage of food or water, you'd likely be able to rescue it.

So I guess this is a suggestion for those I care about: ANYONE can store some jars or 2 liter bottles of water.  I have been more destitute financially than quite literally anyone I know, and even I could store water. And should. So DO IT. Even I can manage to buy an extra can that's on sale once in a while and have 3 months of food on hand before long. I know because I've done it. ANYONE can look around and say, "What do we need if there's an emergency?" and start slowly collecting those extra diapers, extra boxes of bandaids and first aid booklets. It's one of those things that if you don't do it when there's no reason, you won't have it when there is a reason.

I'm not saying go all survivalist on me. I'm just saying that the Lord has asked us to do certain things, and Haiti should be a reminder of one reason why we obey. (Again, not that they have access to their year's supply anyway....the destruction there was so absolute). But still--when you KNOW that there is a really good chance that a "big one" is coming sometime in your lifetime to Utah, doesn't it make sense to at least TRY to be prepared?

Also, one of the things that struck me was that, given that level of destruction, you can't rely on outside help. The article linked to above mentions that in the SLC area, the destruction would make it very hard for "official" aid to reach people--the city would all be divided up, broken up, into six sections that would be mostly inaccessible from each other. What the article doesn't account for is community--is people opening their front doors and doing what they can to help the people around them. In that kind of a disaster, you have to rely on the people living around you instead of the government to help.

So it makes sense to get to know them, and to do your home and visiting teaching, and to generally take steps to get out of your virtual worlds and into your real community because REAL community--the people surrounding you right now--are the ones who ultimately will need you (and you them) when push comes to shove. Just think--if ONE family had collected a year's supply of food and water, and they could access it, they alone could keep 12 families alive for one month, or 52 families alive for a week. One doctor/nurse in the area, one teacher, one master scavenger, one seamstress, one builder, one repairman, etc, who are willing to step out and donate their skills to help their neighbors--and you have very soon a little pocket that is functioning and ready to pick up and start over even if NOBODY ever shows up to save them.

Be that ONE.

Did I just read that?

From Fox News Home page today: "Saints Defeat Cardinals"

Bad news for the Catholic church?

Penny Pinching Tips: Craft Stuff

Kids love crafts. Boys and girls of all ages get excited over the prospect of making something--being creative and using their hands.

Unfortunately, craft "stuff" is expensive, and when kids use it, a good portion of whatever you bought ends up on the floor or in the trash (or both, eventually).

I can't give you tips on how to get sheets of craft foam or toll paints cheap.

But if all you want is crafts for the kids, and you're willing to be flexible, you'll find most of what you need in your trash can.

The secret is to not throw it away in the first place. Instead of landfilling or recycling cereal boxes, toilet paper and paper towel tubes, cereal boxes, plastic lids, tubs, and containers of all types, clean them up (if necessary) and save them for the kids to use to make crafts. We have a big drawer in the kitchen called the "craft drawer" that the kids know is stuff for them to use for whatever they want. I just keep refilling it as we use up boxes of cereal, egg cartons, twisty ties, milk jug lids, etc. Anything that could conceivably be needed to make something I put in that drawer, and once every couple of days, the kids go to it.

So far, we've had rafts made of paper towel tubes and straws, castles from cereal boxes and empty gum cylinders (the kind that are supposed to be "a bank"), boats of various kinds, space ships, machines, maps, flags, capes, hats, and miscellaneous strange things I can't identify but the kids are really proud of and attached to. The cool thing is, not only do the kids make these things, they play with them for DAYS. So not only did we get a free craft, we got a free toy, too (plus the satisfaction of making something)!

In order to make this truly convenient and useful for crafts, it helps to keep scissors, tape, glue, and crayons or paints (or both) handy and accessible to the kids.

The crafts the kids make might not be as magazine-perfect as the ones you get from kits from the store, but they are creative, fun, and completely disposable (as long as the kids don't care) since they were headed for the trash anyway. Plus, as an added bonus, with no instructions, picture-guides, or "set of pieces" that are "supposed to go together", these nearly free crafts are FAR FAR superior in terms of educational value for the kids--they are 100% the creative product of the kids (instead of primarily the creative work of an adult somewhere and the handiwork only of the kids), they are great practice in problem solving, they develop artistic talents and handiwork skills, and they teach the kids how to take something and make something else out of it (an invaluable skill for adults, especially if you happen to be a penny pincher!).

You don't have to keep the "craft stuff" in a drawer in the kitchen. I find that convenient because that's where most of the craftworthy trash is made. We also keep a tray or drawer in the office area for scratch paper (any paper that is blank on one side) and for scratch envelopes (like the ones they send to return your bills in, which I never use because I pay all my bills online) that the kids know they are welcome to use. I also sometimes save bits of colored paper (useful for making beads, rolled paper crafts, mosaics, flags, and patches on other projects). You could also dedicate a shelf in a cupboard, a box in the closet, or a bin in the toy room for craft stuff. The key is that it's as convenient as the garbage can for you to fill, and as easy as the TV for the kids to reach and use.

If you find the kids need some ideas of what to do with the stuff, you can search online for "kids crafts" or any variation of that. There are literally HUNDREDS of sites out there with pictures to prompt your kids to action. Or you can pick up any object in the drawer and start turning it around and telling the kids what it could be ("Oh...this egg carton could make six ants, or a boat, or if you turn it this way, it's a mountain range....I wonder what it would feel like as a shoe?") and they'll probably be off and going fairly soon.

An added bonus: when I need something like a little string, a twist tie, or a square of cardboard for something I am working on, I have it on hand!

Things you might find in our craft drawer on any given day: rubber bands, cereal boxes, egg cartons, empty folders, squares of cardboard, bits of wrapping paper, small pieces of fabric, plastic straws, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, bits of cellophane, plastic lids, plastic containers of all shapes and sizes, bits of wire and string, empty 2 liter soda bottles, small sticks, plastic silverware, pebbles, broken crayons and chalk, empty raisin and salt cylinders, empty aluminum cans and their lids (but only ones opened with a "no sharp edges" can opener) and many many other "treasures" that used to end up in the garbage can.

Note: be careful to not put objects in your craft drawer that can hurt the kids with handling--like empty cans with sharp edges, anything made of glass, or broken plastics with sharp parts.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Being a mommy is good for you!

Apparently even scientists now agree that being a parent isn't all bad: "The effect was stronger among women. Mothers had a 12 and seven-point difference in blood pressure compared with childless women."

Did I just read that?

from google news today: "FCC Orders Wireless Mike Modifications
New York Times - Matt Richtel - ‎1 hour ago‎ "

If your name is Mike, and you are wireless, you'd better watch out!

An opinion piece....worth noting.

This is a little scary. I don't usually post opinion pieces like this, but this one was interesting...and not something you'll find elsewhere.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This was kind of fun

I came across a mini Meyer-Brigg/Jung personality test (72 questions), so I took it. Here:

It was kind of fun when I clicked on the Jung Career Indicator at the end: It said I should be a writer!

Funny thing, huh?

Did I just read that?

"Arpaio declared war on illegal immigration, by using local deputies to enforce federal immigration crimes. "

Forget enforcing the laws. In AZ, they just enforce the crimes. Maybe that's why they have an immigration problem! Not to mention a comma problem.....


Two things: I decided it might work better if we shift our schedule forward (called Chronotherapy) rather than backward. It worked for Tim. I'm a little nervous about going to bed at noon or two, but at least this way we get to sleep as much as we want, instead of constantly being sleep deprived. It was originally suggested to us when Caleb was 2, but the doctor who suggested it said try moving forward 1 hour a night, and we were pretty sure that would permanently shift us to a 25-hour day, and we didn't want that. This time, we're trying 3-5 hours forward each day. So I got up at 5:30 today after not enough sleep (because someone woke me up and needed me). If we do what we've planned, we go to bed sometime around 9:00 am and sleep as long as we can--probably until 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm. The next "day" (it starts getting hazy during this time since we become seriously divorced from light and darkness cycles), we go to bed sometime between 1:00 and 3:00 pm and sleep until 2:00 am or so. Then we go to bed between 5:00 and 8:00 pm, etc....until we're going to bed at midnight, and there we stay.  Why not stay at 8:00 pm, you ask? Well, Tim was on a very normal 10:00 pm-6:00 am sleep schedule all week, and it was hard for him to do his job. Entertainment happens at night, after all! Tonight he was out meeting with people, doing performances, and more meetings until 1:00 am, and then he was nearly too tired to drive home from Denver (an hour away). So it's better for all of us if bedtime is midnight or 2:00 am.

It seems like it would be easier to shift our sleep 3-4 hours earlier rather than 20 hours later, but we've been trying for 2 weeks, and this is what happened: I was robbed of all my creative hours and STILL didn't get enough sleep--just had lots of bedtime tension and then we all lay there, wide awake, for 2 or 3 hours. No shifting happened. Plus, we're night people. It's easier for us to stay up CONSIDERABLY later (like 3 hours each night) than it is for us to go to bed a tiny bit earlier.

UNFORTUNATELY, we're doing this experiment right on top of a major physical project: moving in.

Yes, our stuff came. Almost all of it. First my Dad brought us a huge vanload of our stuff from Utah (hooray! Thank you, Dad!). Then, two days later, the storage unit from Vegas landed on our driveway.

All of that happened rather suddenly, and we discovered we weren't quite ready for it. In order to unpack the storage unit, we had to deal with some of the things that Dad brought first, including re-doing the flooring in the kids' bedrooms (we're replacing the carpet that we put in 5 years ago with hardwood we bought for Mom and Dad, but then they decided to go with etched concrete (since they have concrete floors and radiant heating anyway). And Dad brought the wood.

So today I ripped out the carpet in the kids' room, pulled out the tack strips (which came up fairly easily, mercifully), pulled up the stapled-down carpet pad, swept, and replaced the carpet. (After we noticed written in sharpie on the subflooring, "Caleb (age3) and Anda (18 months) are excited to have their new carpet. 12/2004".) Then I pried off all the baseboards, which were stuck hard with rusty nails--original to the house from 1972.

Why replace the carpet, you ask? We're using it as underlayment for the hardwood. It's not your standard underlayment, but the room is over the garage in part, and over Tim's studio in part. We wanted the insulation from the cold from the garage (for the bedroom's sake) and the noise of wood-on-wood (for the studio's sake). So the carpet stays. We'll "float" the wood on top and anchor it with the baseboards when we're done.

At least, that's the plan. We'll see what actually happens when I start laying the wood tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure it was a good plan to start remodeling in a hurry the same week we're trying to shift forward 3-5 hours each night. I'm so tired after ripping the room apart all day by myself that I'm not sure I'm gonna make it the necessary 5 more hours awake!

(Next projects: Moving as much stuff in as we can put away, flooring in the baby's room, and building cupboards in the living room. I think I know how now.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My favorite quote from a scientist....maybe ever:

""Replication is not very sexy, but it is important."  Environmental health scientist Richard Stahlhut of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Since "Replication" sometimes means "autoreproduction", then NO--it's not very sexy.

cool craft: slc in 1940 papercraft

Did I just read that?

From Craigslist Denver: "Experience Painter - (Metro Area) <<labor gigs"

Where most of us just take our digital camera along, this guy wants a painter. He must experience things really slowly......

Monday, January 11, 2010

Global Warming

I know people who have hesitated to jump on the political bandwagon of "global warming" have been extensively bashed in the media and on social sites like facebook. "How could they not believe what science is saying?" is the usual refrain.

Now even the top scientists are saying, "Well, uh, we're not going to be warming for 30 years and, well, maybe 50% of the last decade's warming was natural, not man-made."

So that's an interesting turn of events. And it parallels what a lot of very intelligent people I personally know have been saying all along: the Earth goes through natural warming and cooling cycles, and while we're not denying there has been a warming cycle....we are debating the "it's all man's fault--now you rich countries have to give everyone else billions of dollars" approach, and we're hesitant to say it's never going to change to a cooling cycle ever again.

So there you have it.

Even the news is saying it, too. Now.

Great find!

Avoid jewelry made in China--Cadmium poison!

Cadmium is a highly toxic, cancer causing substance that is cheaper than zinc and is being used to replace the now-highly-regulated lead in toys and jewelry, especially those manufactured in--you guessed it--CHINA!

Don't buy Chinese products. That's all I can say. In the past 5 years they've proven half a dozen times at least that the bottom line matters more to them than ethical behavior, safety, or health.,2933,582734,00.html

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Surrounded by newly-moved-in boxes and junk, the kids burst into song

Pondering Womanhood Part 3

I found this today. It came in the new Gospel Principles Manual (which, by the way, looks like someone collected my lesson plans and printed them--not that I used the same passages they did, but that my lesson plans look EXACTLY like that--questions--that type of questions, no less--followed by supporting quotes just in case I need them with a note or two about teaching methods in the margins.) (I think I'm going to use this new manual for Family Home Evening for the next little while!) in the form of a book mark.

It was written in 2002, and I think I've seen this before and not really tuned in to what it said. It was a "nice sentiment" before. But now, since I've been pondering women, their role in society, and their position in Zion (and in God's eyes), it has WAY more meaning to me. In it's entirety, the Relief Society Declaration:

"We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:

Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.

Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.

Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.

Delight in service and good works.

Love life and learning.

Stand for truth and righteousness.

Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.

Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation."

Notable in this is not only what it includes, but what it doesn't include. Nowhere does  it mention clean, nicely-decorated homes. Nowhere does it mention cooking or laundry. Nowhere does it mention making sure your kids are enrolled in tons of enrichment activities (that don't really enrich, just enbusy them). Nowhere does it mention being thin, or having a nice hair cut, or wearing new clothes. Nowhere does it mention exercise, careers, empowerment, diversity, being tan, helping with family finances (I have not forgotten the man who, on finding out I am a full-time, at-home mother, told me, "Well, my wife likes to contribute to our family, so she has kept her job."). Nowhere does it mention crafts, cake decorating, making your family's clothes from scratch, homemade bread, marrying young and refusing birth control, or even being married or having children (you can find nobility in motherhood without bearing children). Nowhere does it mention how often we must go to the temple, how much family history we should be doing. Nowhere does it mention taking cards to your visiting teaching sisters, making handouts for relief society, or showing up on time for church (with your children dressed beautifully and wearing matching shoes or any socks at all!). Nowhere does it mention getting a PhD. Nowhere does it mention having money. Nowhere does it mention producing and canning all your own fruits and vegetables. Nowhere does it mention developing and marketing your talents. Nowhere does it mention politics or political parties (except perhaps where it says we should be strengthening "marriages, families, and homes"--which wasn't a political statement when they wrote this in 2002 but is now). Nowhere is there any hint of being perfect or doing things perfectly, of looking beautiful, of being ideal to the world, of "showing well" or "being smart" or finishing projects or having a nice house or owning a car or having a good job or of being empowered or healthy or not disabled or ANY of the other things that women feel pressure about.

What does that tell me?

When it comes to our place in the world, we women are looking in all the wrong places.

When you examine what the statement DOES include, it is infused with joy, peace, and satisfaction with a successful life. It is bound up in understanding ourselves and our relationship with God and other people, our place in the universe, and what we can do to make ourselves and others happy.

And when you really think about it, isn't "happy" what we're all after?

I've said this before, and I still believe it: the women of the world are under attack, both by oppression and by "empowerment", and both the problems and the proposed solutions are cleverly designed to divert us from the things that really make us happy. The things that God has for us. That he gave us a roadmap to. Which is summarized right here.

Awesome snow creatures made by my friend, Brian Shirts


My cousin, Tami, had this disorder:

It is interesting to note the comparisons between it and autism because her development seemed to parallel that of autistic children--she was "normal" to all eyes until she was 2 or 3, and then she "developed" backward for a while, and then forward again but at a much slower pace, with severe intellectual disabilities.

Same as autistic kids sometimes do.


Interesting fact on gay marriage:

"Opponents frame the case as a challenge to the people's right to make law. In every one of the 31 state ballots where the issue has appeared, voters have defeated it, most recently in Maine. In the five states that permit such unions -- the District will join them this year -- the change came by legislation or court decision."

An interesting question to ponder--if something is clearly NOT the will of the majority of Americans, does the minority have the right to force it on everyone? It's a more complex question than it sounds, and I have no answers. 

On the one side, this is a government driven by the majority will--as it should be, lest every little special interest take control and the majority become oppressed by small groups all over the place, making our society more akin to a monarchy or feudal society than a free society. On the other hand, I don't think it's right for the majority to have the right to tyrannize people (would I be opposed if they made a law, for example, that neo-nazis or Polygamists or Mormons automatically lose their children to the state, or if religions HAVE to give women the priesthood, or if homeschooling were illegal? YES.)

In the case they were discussing above, I am concerned: either the press is clearly pro-gay-marriage and is making our opposition arguments look inane, or the defense IS inane and we're in trouble.

Nathanael Walks!

Nathanael turned one yesterday.

He started walking today. He has taken a single step here and there off and on for months now, but this morning he wanted the camera Tim was holding, and he was WAY over-tired, so I think he just forgot he couldn't walk. He took 5 steps in a row, straight toward Tim. (Caleb learned to walk this way, too. He was screaming and angry at me and turned to appeal to Tim and walked right over to him, about 5 steps away. Then he was so surprised he could walk that he forgot what he was mad about!). Anyway, now Nathanael is popping up and taking several steps in a row on purpose, like he just decided to be a walker now. He still crawls when he's in a hurry, but it's good to see him on his feet!

His birthday was fine. He got 4 nerf balls that are all the same but all different--all are half-black, but the other half is red, orange, or green. Three are round, one foot-ball shaped. Two have soccer patterns, one has basketball, one has wavy lines. He spent a LONG time sitting in his high chair studying the three balls--staring at them, turning them round and round, squeezing them, holding them. You could almost see his brain working as he compared and contrasted the 4 balls. It was amazing to see his little personality pop out--he was getting great pleasure from studying his presents. Meanwhile, Benji was in the background exhuberantly tossing the balls around the instant Nathanael let go. It was such a contrast! Both little boys were learning learning learning, but Benji was learning by doing and Nathanael was learning by observing. I suppose I won't put those two on a science experiment together any time soon. They'd drive each other crazy! Still, it's probably a good thing that Benji is there, in all his energetic hyperness, between Dan (too sensitive and timid to really get going, but he wants to) and Nathanael (too studious and scholarly to really get going, but he enjoys it immensely). He'll keep everyone being kids, like they're supposed to be, until long after they're "too old", I suspect!

Nathanael also got some books from Grandma Jones that he enjoyed reading and using as a ramp for the matchbox car the kids gave him.

The kids had fun digging through all the boxes of our old toys that Grandpa brought us and picking out presents for Nathanael. It was cute.

We made a cake for Nat from cool whip and graham crackers. The cool whip softened the grahams (like the cream does the cookies in a birds milk cake), and it was tasty, but the opposite of a bit rich (what word do you use for that?!). Still, it was less sugary than a cake with frosting, and it tasted fine (I stirred crushed Andes  thin mints into the cool whip, so it was minty). Interesting experiment. I think it would taste better with ice cream or whipped cream instead of cool whip--more substance to it!

Did I just read that?

Busy day on craigslist, Denver: "Looking for a Peach Tree Teacher - (Commerce City) <<computer gigs"

Since peach trees have so much to learn. Forget the dormant period! Let's get to work right away.

Did I just read that?

This is one of the funnier things to come off craigslist in a long time:

 "The standup routine is respectful and done in good taste; however you must posses a certain self defecating sense of humor sensibility."

Self-defecating?  Really?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Benji and Nathanael Play

Tonight, Benji and Nathanael were in the living room playing together. I was in the kitchen, and I heard Benji sounding more and more frustrated. Finally he shouted, "Baby! You're ruining my J!"

Not what I expected to hear two toddlers fighting about!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Did I just read that---again?

Note the familiar first line of this article....and the disjoint with the headline. AGAIN:

"Cocaine changes how genes work in brain

Reuters - Todd Eastham - ‎Jan 7, 2010‎
As leech therapy gains popularity, a laboratory near Moscow is boosting production of this increasingly valuable -- and slimy -- commodity."

From google news today.+

I want to run/go to a school like this:

FINALLY--a school run by reasonable, thinking adults instead of tradition. Wish they were all so great.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Found this online--some great resources out there


"25 ¶ And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;" Luke 21:25

"11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." Luke 21:11

" 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:" Acts 2: 19


In 8 1/2 years, we've had 5 kids and only 4 visits to the ER--2 of them this year.

Pretty good stats, right?

One visit was because 2-year-old Anda put her finger in a metal broom and got it stuck there on the shards of metal.

One visit was precautionary after we were rear-ended while driving home late one night, when Dan was a tiny baby.

One visit was when we discovered Dan was having a SEVERE allergic reaction to walnuts last August.

The last visit was tonight. It was our first set of stitches.

Benji (did you have to ask?) was spinning around in the living room and fell down, landing on something. I had just cleaned the living room with Tim (I know, a miracle that I was involved in the process!), so there were literally 3 things on the floor--a box of cds and two power sources/motors for desktop computers that I was evaluating for swapping into Caleb's desktop, which has a short (and that is more my type of project). I think he probably hit one of the motors, but I can't be sure.

Anyway, he came crying into the kitchen with a hole in his diaper. So I pulled the diaper off and saw what looked like a really deep gash in his left buttock. Like I could see many layers of tissue--not just cut skin. So within 5 minutes Tim dropped me and Benji, wrapped only in a blanket, off at the ER (which, conveniently, is just around the corner and was empty).

Benji had stopped crying by the time we got there, and by the time they were weighing him in triage (where he only consented to be weighed because I promised him the scale would show him some numbers, and it did), he was cheerfully running around, buck naked, pushing buttons and bouncing.  One of the nurses said, "That is the cutest little injury I've ever seen!" It was a little half-inch red line on his bum--gaping, but not too bad. Obviously didn't stop him from doing his thing.

So they took us into the "room" in the ER, and a nurse and doctor came in. The nurse chased Benji around and around, trying to tape some gauze over Benji's cut while Benji ran, dodging under chairs and through small spaces, screaming "no no no!" until the blood was pouring down his leg (when it hadn't been bleeding almost at all by the time we got in there). The nurse finally succeeded at taping his cut, and he just ripped the gauze and tape right off again and then calmed right now.

"I think...." the doctor started, and I said, "Last time he was in, for his surgery, they had to sedate him in order to put him out."  "Yeah," the doctor said. "I don't think he'll take an IV, though." I laughed as Benji darted around, wiggling and touching everything.  "No," I agreed. "But they squirted something in his mouth last time."  "I think I'll give him a shot," she said.

And then they left.

And Benji and I sat there for half an hour. Okay, I sat. For a minute. Benji was all over the place. He pushed the emergency button no less than 6 times and hung up on Tim when I called in to report at least once. He identified every shape in the room ("Oh, look, mommy! Diamonds!"), and every letter in the room. He washed his hands three times. Wiped my  nose twice. Opened and shut the curtains half a dozen times and tried to open the sliding glass doors but failed (mercifully). He found the alternative emergency button and pushed that. He begged me to turn Elmo on the blood pressure machine (which looked like a TV to him) even though he NEVER watches Elmo (but the hospital's diapers had Elmo on them). He begged me to turn Elmo on the computer, too. He turned the lights on and off and on and off and on and off, and climbed in and out of the bed, laying down and tucking up and pretending to sleep for about 10 seconds each time. He put on the "jacket" and took it off and put it on and had me tie it--in the front, of course--and thought he was pretty cool (even though he wouldn't put the hospital gown on half an hour before for the triage nurse!). He laughed and chatted and, after about 25 minutes, started telling me his bum hurt.

Then the doctor came back in and brought with her our nurse, and another nurse, and a lady who was in charge of watching Benji's breathing, and a couple other people to hold him down. Two shots--one in each leg at the same time. One put him to sleep (sort of--they called it awake sedation), the other prevented the first from creating so much mucous in his airways that he would choke while he was sleeping.

And then he got 3 stitches. And the doctor and nurses made jokes about him being a butt model with a cute little scar.

And then spent over half an hour trying to wake up. He threw up, ate a popsicle, and then insisted on WALKING out of there even though he could scarcely sit up by himself!

So I carried him to the waiting area and he staggered down the hall like a drunk man saying, "Whoa! WHOA!" and throwing his little arms out like he was trying to stop the world from spinning. He was still naked except for his diaper. The technician at the desk turned a cartoon on for him so he would stop trying to walk around--he had several near misses before we even left the hospital!

Then Tim came and picked us up.

Benji fell asleep a couple of time, threw up again, tried to play nintendo unsuccessfully (since he couldn't quite manage sitting up still) and finally fell asleep.

It was quite an adventure.

The "care" caused him a great deal more trauma than the injury did, even with the staff being very considerate of Benji's fear of bandaids and stickers and his need to do everything by himself at his own pace and understanding.

But all is well that ends well.

At least, I hope it ends well. They couldn't use dissolving stitches because they are prone to infections and, his bum being still be-diapered, they couldn't take that risk. So we have to get those stitches out in a week, and I'm not sure how that will go.