Sunday, December 25, 2011


The only thing I've wanted for Christmas for 4 or 5 years in a row was to hear Tim sing "O Holy Night". And this year he got to!

But Elijah was fussing because he wanted to go up and be with Daddy, and Benji was seriously on one--as hyperactive as I've ever seen him, all over the stand, sticking his head into the piano, running, throwing fits....Out Of Control.  So half way through the first verse, it became imperative I take them both out (since this was all happening during sacrament meeting).

So I stood in the lobby sobbing while one sister took Elijah, another took Benji (who ran across the chapel one way, and then across the stage the other a minute later). He escaped from both of us, so she took the other kids and I had Benji, and then his teacher had him (Tim said it was like watching the Keystone Cops routine).

And I just cried and cried and missed it.

Even after the song, the bishop's talk, the end of the meeting, Benji was running off, caught, running off, caught. It got so that every time I passed someone in the ward (afterward, when they were all socializing), they would just point and say, "He went that way" so I managed to navigate the maze of humans along the path Benji squirmed and ran over and over. And then we were getting everyone else's coats on and someone came in and said, "He's out playing in the snow" and by the time we got out there, he was down the block to the corner, half-way home.

And by the time I got home, he was in the back yard playing on the swings, and Tim was exhausted, and I was a wreck.

Merry Christmas to us. Some day no doubt I'll laugh (no doubt the rest of the ward was laughing), but for now, I'm discovering that it's possible to be so disappointed that you feel it in your gut, and it makes me sick with sorrow.

Maybe next year....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Did I just read that?

"Depression and Sleep: Getting the Right Amount"

Because there is a right amount of depression you need to have...

Did I just read that?

from ABC news: " "His recovery was really remarkable considering the extent of his lethal injuries.""

Recovering from anything lethal is remarkable, indeed.

Also, sometimes doctors say stupid things.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Descent into sleep madness

Last Wednesday, we slept from about 6:00 am until about 3:00 pm.  That was our normal last week--and I was trying to figure out what to do to fix it because it's just the wrongest hours I can think of.

Wednesday night, I got the kids into bed by 4:00 am, and the little kids at 6:00 am. Big kids were supposed to sleep a few hours before they had to get up for their one-day-a-week adventure with school. When I came to wake them at 7:30 am, I hadn't gone to sleep at all yet, and it turned out neither had Caleb or Anda, and Dan had only slept an hour or 90 minutes.

But they got up and I got them to school. Daniel, overtired, had a hard time letting me leave, so I was there until nearly 9:00 am. I came home and went to bed for my Wednesday night but it was clearly Thursday daytime. I couldn't fall asleep until 11:00 am. Then I had to get up and get everyone else up at 1:00 so I could take the little kids to see the big kids' Christmas concert (which was great--the kids performed a bunch of times and did well).

When we got home, Caleb and Anda went to bed by 4:00 pm, and so did the rest of us. Except, amazingly, Nathanael, who stayed awake playing computer games. Elijah woke up at 7:30 pm, and an hour later Nathanael crashed to sleep, and Benji and Dan woke up an hour later. And then Nathanael woke up at 11:00 pm. That's Thursday night.

So then Anda and Caleb woke up at 3:30 am for Friday morning, and Tim went to sleep for Thursday night at 4:40 am, and then the little boys and I didn't get into bed for Thursday night until 6:00 am, but then Elijah couldn't sleep because people were awake--until he crashed out at 8:00 am. Or was it 10:00 am?

Friday we were supposed to go to a homeschoolers party, but Tim had to call an emergency rehearsal, so we just slept right through the party--couldn't get there anyway, with no car and all.

So we woke up around 4:00 pm, and Anda and Caleb had been awake and on their own all day. Anda went back to bed at 8:00 pm, and Caleb drifted around until I forced him into bed at 1:00 am, many many many hours after he woke up the previous morning at 3:30 am.

With the big kids sleeping, I was delighted I could get the little kids into bed by 3:15 am. Everyone was asleep--success! So I made the cheesecakes for the ward party on Saturday and rejoiced.

I was ready for bed by 6:00 am, and then Anda woke up. And so did Nathanael, Benji, and Daniel. And then Caleb. And they woke Elijah. At 8:00 or 10:00 (sometime in there), Tim took the wide awake baby and let me sleep some.  Eventually he came back to bed, too.

So baby and I slept until about 4:30 pm. And then we had a crazy time getting ready for the ward party and going. The kids all sat at the table picking at their dinner and begging to be allowed to go home and to bed.

So we eventually came home and by now it was 9:00 on a Saturday night, and everyone went to bed. Everyone. Even me and Tim. I rejoiced in our miracle--our sleep schedule was fixed!

I rejoiced too soon.

Elijah woke up from what he considered at afternoon nap at 11:00 pm.  Nathanael, Benji, and Dan followed at 4:00 am (and Elijah hadn't gone back to sleep at that point). With everyone else up, Elijah was delighted--and he wouldn't go back to sleep.

At 7:30 am, I went to bed anyway, and Tim woke up from Elijah crawling all over him and Tim, who had been asleep the whole night, got up. Unfortunately, Tim hadn't slept at the right hours for his internal clock, so he was deeply exhausted still. I tried to sleep, but, being a mommy, I don't sleep well when kids are awake.

Elijah finally FINALLY came back to bed and fell asleep. 4 minutes later, my alarm rang to get people to church.  Dan apparently went back to bed at some point, too, because he was sleeping in the crib in my room.

I went back to bed, hoping to sleep some, and Tim took all the kids to church, where Nathanael promptly fell asleep and, while Tim was dealing with him, Benji slipped away and was caught by our home teacher--walking home by himself!

So Nathanael was carried home and put to bed (and didn't wake up until we woke him at 8:00 pm--he fell asleep around noon). Benji went back to church, finished church, but went back to sleep before I got up for the day at 5:00 pm--and he was also wakened at 8:00 pm but refused to stay awake.

Caleb wanted to go to bed at 6:00 pm, but gamely stayed awake until 8:00. Anda went to bed at 9:00 pm. Elijah had a short nap at 9:00 pm.

And we got to Sunday night with no resolution in sight--big kids are in bed on the right schedule. Nathanael thinks he's on Monday morning, but sleeping noon to 8:00 pm is totally unacceptable, even for us. I doubt Elijah will go to bed again until dawn because he woke up at 5:00 pm. By then, the big kids will be awake, and neither he nor I will be able to sleep....

This is more of a nightmare than before! At least in the past we were all sleeping at the same wrong time....

Did I just read that?

" Adults with ADHD scored less well on seven EF assessments compaired to adults with ADHD."

Compaired? Adults with ADHD score less well than adults with ADHD. That's tricky.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Did I just read that?

 From Boulder Craigslist gig ad today: "I want to illiterate that is film is NON pornographic"

Illiterate indeed.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Did I just read that?

From the LL Bean Holiday Catalog that came in the mail: "Premium suede make these classic gloves more durable than similar styles you'll find--and at this price you can buy more than one!"

Good thing because I have more than one hand!

(Oh, and PS: suede makes, suedes make. Just an fyi.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nathanael says,

"I'm not firsty. I'm firsty for the frosting on top of my cookie!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Did I just read that?

""I've never had any discussion that resembled that with Speaker Gingrich," Linda Upmeyer said of Bergman's remarks. "I have no doubt there are people that reject Mormonism but I've never engaged in a conservation regarding that, ever."

Never engaged in a conservation? What?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Did I just read that?

"24-year-old woman breaks both legs after UTA bus hits her"

She was so mad  at that bus that she went and broke both her legs. I wonder how she managed it?

The first line of the story gives a little hint: "WEST VALLEY CITY — A 24-year-old woman had both her legs broken after being hit by a UTA bus Monday."  So she got someone to help her--maybe a mobster. They have experience.

Hint for the journalist: adverbs are not interchangeable.  "When" is the one you wanted, not "after."

Google is obeying the law--and making kids cry

Federal law makes it hard for kids under 13 to have accounts on the internet except through their schools. Homeschooled kids are out of luck--we can't get Google Education products because you have to be an accredited school to get them.

I needed my kids to be online. I wanted them to write blogs. I wanted them to be able to make and post videos. I wanted them to email assignments to me, and to be tech literate. I assign them to make websites for school. They share google docs with friends and cousins in other states so they can work on collaborative projects. They turn in assignments via google docs.

But I couldn't legally get them their own accounts. So I set up accounts under my name and let them use them. At least, I was pretty sure that's how I arranged it.

Yesterday, news started leaking out that Google was cracking down on kids using the service, deleting the accounts without warning--not even enough time to back up your work, download letters from Grandma or Dad, copy your blog posts to a word document. All to follow Federal law (which once again takes control from the parents, since obviously we can't keep our own kids safe).

So today I set out to figure out if I set up the accounts right--as my own accounts, which I was letting the kids use--since I know at least two of those accounts were set up before that law went into effect.  Turns out it is nearly impossible to find out what information you gave google when you signed up. It isn't in your profile anywhere. We did find one hint--you can set your YouTube account (which is a google account) to tell your gender and age, and you can't modify those two pieces of data on your YouTube profile. So presumably that information comes from your original login information. For both Caleb and Anda, those were listed as Female, 35. That would be me--so I set them up right. I think. But I can't be sure Google will honor that, given that I allow my children to use the accounts. I don't see that as any different than if they were sending emails from the account I use most, or not. I also have a google account that is used exclusively by my phone.  Large companies can be both arbitrary and capricious, and once the info is gone, there is no guarantee I'd ever get it back.

But I couldn't be absolutely sure, so I spent a big chunk of the day backing up and downloading copies of everyone's accounts onto my computer. Every blog post, every google doc, every email. We used and some of the tools they have there to even download backup copies of the kids' google sites (and I backed up my sites at the same time). I also set up a new hotmail account and have the kid's email accounts forwarding to that (via POP mail) into their own back up folders on hotmail (since you can't just download backups of your email--you have to use a POPmail service).

So now I'm confident we won't lose everything if Google decides me letting the kids use my accounts is a TOS violation.

I'd still be pretty devastated if they did that, though. Too bad they discriminate against homeschoolers!

Baked Alaska

I realized the other day that the kids always eat the ice cream and the frosting when we have birthday cake, but never the cake. So I thought it might be fun to have an ice cream cake.

While I was researching how to make one, I came across several recipes for baked alaska.

I've always wanted to try that. So for Elijah's first birthday party tonight, we had baked alaska.

It was fairly dramatic to pull an ice cream cake out of the oven. It tasted great, too. But as soon as we broke the meringue shell, the meringue all slid off onto the baking sheet. I think we had too much meringue on it (the recipe called for 8 egg whites, and I'm pretty sure we only needed 3), so when the top browned and set, it became too heavy for the underneath layer, which didn't cook. That's my guess anyway.

That was a fun adventure. This time I used vanilla ice cream and strawberry ice cream, with a layer of frozen berries and mangoes in between. Next time, I think I'd like chocolate chocolate chunk ice cream with raspberry ice cream, with a layer of fresh raspberries frozen between.

Turns out ice cream cakes can be more work than a regular cake--especially if you turn them into a large baked alaska.

Fun adventure, though! Worth trying, for sure. Tim said, "Next time, we should do it for an adult party. They'd appreciate it more".  Next time I'm using a smaller bowl to mold the ice cream "bombe," too.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I don't want to miss it.

Robert Downey, Jr., said, "“It’s so easy in life to get caught up with the ‘now I am in a good spot, now I am in a bad spot’ but the thing is to turn it up to 110 degrees and stir slowly. I don’t want to miss what is actually happening.”

I need to remember that. I don't want to miss what is actually happening.

A few weeks ago, Nathanael insisted he wanted to come to the store with me. So I put him in the car and while we drove, I tried to have a conversation with my 2 year old.  "What's your favorite thing to do, Nathie?" I asked him.

"Come to the store with you," he replied. And that was that. No matter how much I asked him other things, reworded my thoughts, tried to figure out his favorite things to do, he insisted his favorite thing was to sit in his car seat and drive to the store--which is exactly what we were doing.

It hit me that a 2 year old lives in the moment. What we're doing right now is either the best, most desirable thing, or it's not and we throw a fit until it changes. 

Later, when we were coming home, he was tired and told me his favorite thing would be to get out of the car and never go shopping again.

I thought about that for a long time--what he was doing right now is his favorite thing.

I decided I could learn a lot from that--like RD,jr. said, "I don't want to miss what is actually happening." On the other hand, it's a good thing to live outside the moment, too. Someone has to plan ahead, make decisions based on the greatest possible good, and respond in a thoughtful way. Living in the moment has its advantages, but avoiding knee-jerk reactions and always responding instead of acting are two of the not among them.  Maybe that's why 2 year olds throw fits--side effect of being stuck in the moment, either loving it or hating it but nothing in between. 

But living so that you don't miss what is actually happening, here and now, well that sounds like a good idea.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Did I just read that?

"Police suspect foul play in LDS church parking lot shooting"

They suspect foul play? I would assume foul play was involved. Is there a kind of shooting (of a human, I mean) that isn't foul?

Did I just read that?

"DOJ awarded to prosecution team of Elizabeth Smart case"

They totally scored on that one. Not only did they win their case, they got the whole Department of Justice as their reward!

The joys of having kids

Tonight I was looking at pictures of my nephew's wedding, and I thought, "Oh, how pretty! Her dress has a blue ribbon across it!"

Then I scrolled down.


Crayon on the screen of my laptop.


Friday, December 09, 2011

Did I just read that?

In case you think I only target Fox News, here's one from CNN: "Own a piece of Liz Taylor"


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Did I just read that?

"Currently, two women are pregnant with his child."

Now that's just tricky, getting one baby into two wombs at once. Like twins, only in reverse.

Did I just read that?

"The Misplaced Stuff: NASA loses moon, space rocks" (

Doggone it! They're supposed to know where the moon is. My 2 year old could probably help them out. 

Friday, December 02, 2011

Regrets of the Dying

This is really fascinating. Since I know a lot of you don't click links, here is a recap. The dying regret:

Working so hard at jobs, living as someone else expected them to be instead of as themselves, not expressing their feelings, not staying in touch with friends, and not allowing themselves to be happier.

In other words, they regret buying into those goals we learn as teenagers and invest our lives in as 20-somethings: conforming socially (being socially "in", or not being seen as "weird") and being rich (which makes us work too much and not connect with people as a result)

What a shame.

Good thing we have time to do it the way God recommends, where families and friends and using our talents are important, where the purpose of existence is Joy, and where work is to enrich our lives and provide for our needs, not to be all-consuming or make us rich. In fact, those things are the focus of commandments from God. Obviously, he knows what it's all about.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Peek into the Future, or, 2 Dozen Reasons you should donate $10 to Mister Tim's Kickstarter

Tim might kill me for this, since none of these songs is truly ready for release yet, but I want you to get a taste of what I hear every day coming from my basement to give you an idea of why I'm so anxious for Tim to get to go down to Vegas and work with Angel Angelov, a producer he knows who I really feel will be able to give Tim's recordings a commercial "edge" they need.

These are almost all drafts. Some are not finished songs. Even through the unfinishedness of them, though, you can hear the brilliance and the poetry.

 I am anxious for his kickstarter to get enough funding that he can go and make music. He won't get to record all these songs--just 3. But 3 is enough to get started, to open doors (hopefully) to allow him to make more. Have a listen. You won't regret it. (If you're seeing this in an email, hop on over to the actual blog post to hear the songs: It's a sneak peek of unreleased don't want to miss it!

 One of my favorite songs, "Upper Crust":

 I find this an intensely compelling piece of storytelling. "Crimson Skies":

 Peter Pan was walking to the hall of fame....."Red Hot Blues":

 My kids love to listen to this in the evenings. It's hauntingly beautiful and made me cry the first time I heard it. "Down and Down":

 LoveLoveLove this song. "Bang on the Door":

 Tim often opens his theater shows with this song. "Beatnik":

Just a snippet of a comedy song he's written. "If I":

The first time I heard this, I told Tim, "You Can NOT put comedy words to that. It's too pretty." So he didn't. "Rumba":

 Tim wrote this after holding his newborn baby. First time I heard it, I could feel the love infused all through it. "So Warm":

This is a horrible live recording of a remarkable, powerful song. "The Sound Goes Around":

 You won't be able to get this out of your head...."Sunkist Mountain Tops":

 First time I heard this one, I couldn't tell if it was hopeful or sad, or both. "So Long Old Song":

Every time I tell Tim I love this song, he says, "Just wait until you get to hear the finished version!" "Fire Can":

 One of the first looping songs Tim wrote, almost nobody has heard this one, and I love it! "Mr. B":

 This song first strikes you as silly, but it's actually astonishingly emotionally powerful when you hear it live. "I Have Become":

 Sorry for the robot voice in this--Tim used audio technology to move his voice into the female register. "Sweet" has some of the cleverest lyrics I've ever heard:

 Many people have said this is a really catchy, appealing song. Tim wrote it on an airplane flying home from a gig. "Momma":

I adore this song. It really hits home for me. "Half n Half":

LOVE this song. "John Brown":

 I think this is one of Tim's best songs, and he's won awards for it, but he doesn't think it's one of his better songs. Ha! "LaaDeeDah":

 Can't get this one out of my head. It's a really sweet love song, but I don't think it's finished. "Do You Believe":

 This song is really touching. It's the Dad's point of view at graduation. "Goodbye":

 This song was pulled from the 9th Chapter and 15th verse of several books in the Bible. LOVE it, but it's also 9 minutes, 15 seconds long. It, too, has won awards. "9:15":

A song sung by the Christmas Tree, the day after Christmas. Also, it's about the people we forget at Christmas, like the elderly, the widows, etc. "In the Corner All Alone":

 And finally, a song that is layered with meaning. It is about ancient Israel, about the life of an artist, about Jackson Pollock, about Tim. You can find some of the lyrics in the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament:

These are mostly rough recordings, and some of them unfinished songs, that I hope some day will be made into finished products. If Tim gets to go to Vegas to work with the producer we are excited about, he will get the tools and connections he needs to both get an agent (to help him book more shows so he can afford to keep spending hours making new music) and to record more songs, and these might actually get finished.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Did I just read that?

So, I was checking out the list of people running for president in 2012, and I found some interesting names on the list (which you can find here:

President Emperor Caesar

and HRM Caesar St. Augustine de Bounaparte of the United States of Turtle Island, whose principal campaign committee is The Sole Royal Embassy of the United States of Turtle Island (I did NOT make that up!)

and Jonathon the Impaler Sharkey

are all candidates who have file to run for President.

My guess? You don't have to be a real person to run for US President. Just a hunch. (I'm also guessing you don't have to show an ID to file....)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Did I just read that?

"North Carolina officials have tracked down less than three dozen of the thousands of residents forced to undergo sterilizations between 1929 and 1974. The Charlotte Observer reported Sunday  that state officials believe at least 1,500 of the 7,600 people sterilized under a state program are still alive. But only 41 files have been matched to living survivors or relatives of the dead."

So a dozen is 15 now? Because last I heard, less than three dozen meant 35 or fewer. And they found 41.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tim's show that week

After all that trouble had getting there, it sounds like the audience thought it was brilliant anyway.

Watching this, it's hard to believe leading up to it Tim had 3 dead cars and only 8 hours of sleep--all over 4 days.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wow. Just Wow. Really long story and I hope most ofit never happens again. was Tim's trip, you ask?

Well....I had been really nervous and unsettled all week. I felt like Calphurnia, in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, telling Tim I was really nervous and wished he wouldn't go. It came to a head as he packed and started putting stuff in the car. I found I was really wishing he would fly, even if I couldn't justify it, and as he filled the car, I got so overwhelmingly nervous I was nearly sick. I figured it was because his last tour was impossibly difficult--a freak snowstorm in the middle of October had down a bunch of limbs in our yard--one right on top of Daniel (he was fine, but I had PTSD for a couple of days from watching that)--and it knocked out our power. (We prayed and were saved within 5 minutes by a friend who took us to her house for the night--all while Tim was in Utah.) So I swallowed my fear and actually told Tim, "This is good you're going because everything will be fine, just like every other tour is, and I'll realize that and not be scared of you going anymore. This will stop my irrational fear from developing into a phobia."

I was wrong. Oh, so so SO wrong.

The plan: Drive to Nebraska, do a radio show. Drive to Ohio. Do a couple of coaching/private lessons, 2 days of workshops and 2 shows. After the last show on Saturday night, leave and drive as far as possible, sleep, and then drive all day Sunday to get back in time for shows in Colorado on Monday. That's 20 hours of driving each way, the first set spread over several days, the second trip crammed into one long day.

So, on Tuesday night, armed with borrowed gas money because the budget has been really tight lately, he left after Scouts and drove to Nebraska. Got there in the middle of the night and slept in the van. In the morning, he did a radio show.

Then Wednesday afternoon and evening he drove. And drove. And drove. He had to get to Ohio by Friday. Ohio is 20 hours from Colorado.

He was going to drive until late at night, sleep some, and then get to Ohio on Thursday with plenty of time to visit friends, rehearse, edit video.

He called me from St. Louis and we talked, wished we were together, normal trip stuff.

A little over an hour, he called me again. Driving down the freeway at regular freeway speeds, he had a deer step out into the road right in front of him. He swerved away, but the deer ran into his path and he hit it. Deer went flying. Car was crunched, but still driveable. So he drove to the nearest exit, car steaming and smoking, and found himself at a WalMart. Couple of cops saw the car was broken and stopped to help, but had to call a sheriff because he hit the deer on county, not city, property.

And all of a sudden, Tim was stuck in the middle of Illinios, in Vandalia, with no way to get on to his shows, no money for a new car, no options we could think of. It was a devastating and hopeless feeling.

So he waited. And waited. And finally the sheriff showed up and took a report, and he called the car insurance company--it was an old car, so I hadn't kept the good insurance on it, and they couldn't do anything. at. all.

At least Tim wasn't hurt, despite the fact that he his a deer at 70mph and the air bags never even deployed. And his cell phone worked! Often it doesn't when he travels. But he was stuck stuck stuck.

So Tim did the smartest thing he could think of at 4:30 am. He unrolled his sleeping bag in the back of the broken car and fell asleep.

So, next morning I was awakened by a certified letter. I signed for it and then got online to see what was going on with Tim. It was 11:30 am here. He was online with my mom, chatting.

Stuck in the middle of Illinois, he had to figure out what to do with himself and a car full of sound equipment. My mom lent Tim all the money she had, plus all she could borrow from her overdraft (and I feel so guilty about that because she's a missionary! And I hate having to borrow money, besides). I started posting on facebook--anyone know somebody in the middle of Illinois? Any ideas what to do?

There were no vans for sale in our price range in Vandalia, IL. And there were no car dealerships there. And Tim had to be in the middle of rural Ohio, 8 hours away, by midday the next day. He called around everywhere and finally discovered the only way to rent a car that he could return somewhere else was to rent it from an airport. The only airport he knew of was an hour and a half back up the road in St. Louis. But a shuttle that far was horrendously expensive and we couldn't get ahold of the bishop in town.

And then into the picture came my cousin Deborah. I have not seen Deborah in over 10 years, but we have interacted on facebook for a couple of years.  She lives an hour and a half from Vandalia, IL, and she said there was another airport--in Springfield, IL, near her house, and she offered to come pick Tim up, but couldn't come until 6:00. There was a scurry to see if that gave them enough time to get to a rental counter at the airport--it did, but barely--and then Deborah managed to rearrange her schedule so she could come earlier, and she left right away. It took 4 hours from the time I signed for the letter until we got it figured out to that point.

The new plan: With Deborah on her way, Tim was going to Springfield, IL, to rent a car to get him to Dayton, OH, buy a van there, continue his trip and come home.

While she was en route, Tim took the little crunched van (Still running, but no radiator left, so not for long) a mile up the road to a shop for an estimate. They were nice and gave him the estimate free. $4500 damage. He said the car was worth $3000. We think it was worth less than that, but still! Tim thanked the guy and drove back to WalMart, ate a little, and got ready to head to the airport in Springfield, IL.

That trip, at least, was uneventful. I was relieved--surely things would go smoothly from here on out. Problems solved, right? I got online and there were vans for sale that were possibilities.

A little while later, though, the phone rang again. Tim was at the airport, and they wouldn't rent him a car because he had a debit card instead of a credit card, but if someone was willing to accept the liability, he could use a different person's credit card.

So I started calling around, and so did he, and my brother agreed to do that for us.

So Tim stood in line again, got to the front, and the car rental guy said, "Sorry. Credit card holder has to be here with you." They wouldn't let my brother call his own card number in! And since my brother was in Utah, being there in person was laughable. Except we were too tired and frustrated to laugh.

Frustrated and exhausted from little sleep, Tim went to find a different car rental place. Fortunately, the next place rented him the car on the debit card, but charged him twice what the first place charged.

So Tim headed back the hour and a half to the little broken van to load his sound equipment. I was sure when he got there, the equipment would be stolen. It had been that kind of a day. Every step of the way something seemed to be going wrong!

Fortunately, the sound equipment was there.

Tim cleaned out Melody Yellowvan, closed her up, and left, and I couldn't stop crying. I have never much cared about a car, but that one I loved. 270,000 miles was a lot, though, so I knew she was going to die soon. But it was still really difficult to know he was driving away and that was that. She was gone. He planned to get back on Sunday in time to get a junk dealer out to pick her up, so he left the plates on. Later, we'd both regret that....

All of that took all day. By the time he was leaving Vandalia, IL, it was dark. But he was on the road and I had some hope. The new plan was to get to Dayton Ohio, sleep there for a few hours in the rental car, and then spend all morning searching for a new van and buying it. Dayton, OH, was supposed to be 5 hours away.

We didn't count on the freeway being closed in Indianapolis. Everyone was being routed toward Chicago.

Tim had to get off and go through town, find the freeway again--and it was still closed. Off again, through town more, find the freeway...and he was moving forward again, but it took 40+ minutes.

By the time he drove into Dayton, it was a dawn on Friday. He slept a couple of hours in the passenger seat of the rental and then set out to find a van.

Meanwhile, back home, I had been searching online classified for possibilities and finally found him three that were promising. So he called them in the morning. One had 200,000+ miles on it (and, the ad claimed, seated 150 people). One, it turned out, had a broken steering column. Running out of time, Tim let the salesman at the lot show him a cargo van. It worked, it looked terrible but solid, and it was cheap. But they wanted cash. $950 cash.

So Tim went to get cash. The ATM had a limit of $500.  No banks would take his debit card and give him cash from his account in Utah.

So he called me, and I got online and found the nearest WalMart, where he could get a cashier's check from the debit card. When he got there, he didn't get a cashier's check. Instead, he bought 5 candybars, one at a time with 5 different cashiers, and got $100 cash back each time.

That obstacle overcome, he headed back and bought the van, loaded it with his sound equipment, and left it on the lot. He had to return the rental car and take a cab back to the lot in Springfield, OH. (Turns out Ohio and Illinois have all the same towns....). He had no title for the van, though, and so couldn't get temporary tags. See, in Ohio, you have to get the title from a title office, and it was closed for Veteran's Day. So the dealer left the dealer plates on it and Tim agreed to mail them back when he got home to Colorado, and then they'd mail him the title. Easy-peasy.  Then, when he got home, we could sell the cargo van for what he paid for it, plus gas, and buy a family van.

He hung up from telling me all that at 11:11 am on 11/11/11. I noticed the display on the phone had a line of 11s on it and thought it was odd.

All of that took way way too long, and Tim still had to drive 2 hours to Albany, OH (outside Athens, OH), where he was supposed to workshop some students and then do a show.

He got there 2 hours late.  (Of course, he had warned them what was going on...). But he made it. And the kids LOVED him, loved the workshops. And the show went fantastically, amazingly well. Really brilliant. The audience loved it, and Tim called as he left and sounded tired, but really good.

He was really really looking forward to sleeping in a bed for more than 3 hours. It had been two days in a row of not getting any sleep as he drove all night and then dealt with problems. I was so relieved that he was going to get some sleep, in a hotel where he would be comfortable. So relieved that he would get to let the stress go, and everything surely would go smoothly from there on out.

A little while later, I got a call.

The new van had DIED. He'd checked the oil before he left and added some, so he was surprised when a car passed him and he saw the engine smoking. Rearview mirror revealed sparks and little flaming things falling off the van behind him. Then it made a whole lot of noise and then died. Completely.  Once again, he was stuck in the middle of rural mid-west in the middle of the night.

But he was loosely caravaning with an old friend who had come to see the show and was then staying at the same hotel as he was, so he was going to text Mike Yanchak for help.

He hung up the phone with me, and I looked at the time on my computer. 11:11 pm on 11/11/11. That cargo van lasted exactly 12 hours.

And Tim was once again stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in the midwest in the middle of the night. Again! How to get him home with all his equipment? He had gigs in Colorado on Monday and Tuesday, so he couldn't just mess around finding another van.

We needed a new plan. So I got online, in tears, and I looked it up and found out he could fly home for $230. So I bought him a plane ticket right there. At least then I could get him home and worry about the sound equipment later.

Luckily, Mike got the text and turned around and came back for Tim. They loaded as much stuff out of the cargo van into Mike's car as they could (because, it turned out, the cargo van's back doors had no lock.).

And then discovered that Mike's car had died!

I'm not making this up. I would have stopped long ago because this is too outlandish.

You remember the "mom" parts of Home Alone, where she is trying desperately to get back to her house to get her son who was alone, and every step of the way something went wrong that got her into deeper and deeper messes? That's what this was beginning to feel like, and it wasn't over yet.

So Mike called AAA. And they couldn't find him.

A cop stopped and talked to AAA. And they STILL couldn't find him.  An hour later the tow truck found them and got the car started--the battery had died.

And they were off to Dayton to their hotel. At close to dawn. Again.

Unfortunately, Tim had to start his next day's work at the a cappella conference at 8:00 am!

So, once again, he only slept a few hours.

And once again, he left a car on the side of the road with stuff in it he had to go back for. (Except this time, Mike went back--what a life saver!).

The next morning, Saturday, he got a ride to the venue with his stuff and workshopped kids all day.

Meanwhile, I called the place that sold him the bum van and said, "That van you sold us died and is on the side of the road with your dealer plates on it. I don't know where exactly it is, you'll have to call Tim."
Then I settled in to Tim's day must be okay, and I went to bed. Finally.

A few hours later, the guy who sold Tim the van called me back and woke me up. Remember, the title office was closed? Yeah, so suddenly this guy is really really motivated to go get that van back because the title is in his name and so is the registration. He even said he'd buy it back, but for junk (so not the full amount Tim spent on it. Bummer.). So he was going to call Tim, and I went back to bed.

I felt terrible. We had spent a bunch of my mom's money to get a van and it died. She was really nice about it, but I was devastated. Tim was even more devastated. And that left our family with no car again.  Mom and I talked options, but there were no good ones. Mom concluded our only option was to sell her wedding ring to buy a van. But I couldn't even entertain that idea.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my Aunt Mona had been reading the facebook updates I had put up over the course of the last few days to my Uncle Brent, who owns a car dealership. They decided they needed to help us. Also unbeknownst to me, my Mom, Brent's sister, emailed him and asked if there was anything he could do (and I had emailed him to ask if there were any laws that might help us with the dealer in Ohio because even a used car ought to last more than 12 hours). And, also unbeknownst to me (and to each other) my sisters (and a bunch of other people) had all been praying that someone would help us get a car somehow.

So I was back in bed sleeping and unhappy when the phone rang again. I hopped up, and it was my brother in law, Jared, saying he had been online with my parents and my mom wanted me to call the dealership. I told him I had, and he said, no she means your Uncle Brent. So I got online to chat with my mom, and then I called my Uncle Brent and explained everything to him.

He talked me through a bunch of stuff and said he wanted to help us, but it wasn't very promising because we have 8 people in our family, but it's really really difficult to find a van that seats more than 7. "Like a needle in a haystack" were his words. I thanked him for being willing to help and said I'd check with Tim when he got a break and see if we could make 7 passengers work.

I hadn't even gone back to bed again when he called back. "You're in luck!" he said. Someone had just that very morning traded in a rare 8 passenger mini van. He had even had his sales manager go out and count the seatbelts for us to be sure. And he decided it would be best if he just gave it to us, to help support a musician (he is a musician himself), and for love of my mother and to support her on her mission. I couldn't believe it. Few phone calls later, my sisters had the van and were taking it back to one of their houses to keep it until we could get it.

I cannot express how grateful I am for this. I really can't. There are not words to tell Uncle Brent enough Thank Yous.

That settled, I was much happier (how could I NOT be?).

Then the car dealer who sold us the bum car called. He was mad at me and wanted to know where that van was, and I had no idea ("Not here in Colorado!" I said.). So I had to track Tim down and get him to call this angry guy. And I did the math and realized Tim was on stage--no way he would answer his phone. He doesn't even take it on stage with him (how tacky would THAT be?!). The organizer of the event was in the audience, and I had his number. So I called and texted Tim and left messages, called the organizer and left a message, and then realized Mike Yanchak would know where the van was and if it was empty and ready to be towed. But I didn't have his phone number.

But how many Mike Yanchaks from Pennsylvania can there be?

Turns out three.

I called the number in the phone book and got his Grandma. She was really nice and gave me his cell phone number.

So I texted Mike.

And then I talked to the home teachers, who came to visit, and also was babysitting a friend's kids (who are actually easy to babysit because they distract my kids), so I had to feed them something (they'd all been eating the caramel I had made to cheer myself up on Tuesday).

When the home teachers left, I found Mike had texted me back.

So I called the angry guy and Tim had called him, too, so he wasn't as angry, and between us he got enough information to get the cargo van, and he promised Tim he'd pay him back some (but not all. Sigh.). (One of my home teachers is a very good attorney, though, and he threatened to write mean letters if it comes to that.)

Then Tim called me. He had finished his set. He didn't get to watch SONOS even though he'd been really excited to see their show (they're really really good) because he was on the phone trying to figure out what to do with his sound equipment, with the dead vans (both of them!), etc.

Plus he was bone-deep exhausted from sleeping no more than 3 hours a night all week.  It's actually a miracle that he could do his shows. Mike Yanchak actually gave him some good advice on that: "So the energy is different than you're used to. Just run with it." Tim is also really really really good at his job. And since performers don't really get days off when life gets crappy (the show must go on, right?), it's good that Tim is good at that part of his job. His muscle memory is fantastic.

When the event finally ended, the organizer let Tim lock all his equipment in the high school equipment room, where it would be totally safe, and Tim went back to his hotel to sleep 4 hours.  Again.

Then he got up, got to the airport in Vandalia, OH, and came home. Despite the unbelievable difficulties and obstacles, he actually made it to both days of workshopping and both shows. He missed a workshop with some college kids and a private lesson (with Mike Yanchak, actually), but everything else he made it for and was able to do. Amazing.

I have never been so happy to see him walk in. Woke me up and I was so SO glad.

And then we all fell back asleep, all of us exhausted from not sleeping all week as we tried to work out the problems, and we slept all the way through church--I didn't even hear the alarm ring.

Tim got up after just a few hours, though, to get to the very end of church.

And then he spent the afternoon catching up on emails, arranging a way for him to get to his show tomorrow and contacting THAT show organizer, etc.

We still aren't sure how he's going to get his equipment back. He can't do much with no mics and no looping pedals! But we're working on that....

Meanwhile, my siblings decided it was important to them that we get a chance to do what we had planned before all hell broke loose and come out for Thanksgiving. So my sister-in-law is actually driving out the new van in the morning (Monday) and will fly home. What a huge blessing for us!

So the story isn't completely over, but it's mostly over.  We still have to find someone to take Melody Yellowvan away, and hopefully mail us her plates (doggone it!). Have to get the sound equipment here. Have to find out what happened to the cargo van for sure. We're working on all that...

I discovered that the right insurance coverage (at least on the new van) that would have saved us $1200 costs $35 every six months. So guess what kind of coverage the new van has? Yeah. Comprehensive is not so expensive as everyone says it is. At least not on a chevy venture van. That was a very expensive lesson to learn.

And very exhausting.

I also learned that people are anxious to help.

And that sometimes in the middle of the dark, with shadows looming, it's easy to think that God has forgotten you. Faith requires patience sometimes, too.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this while Tim was gone (and he said he did, too):

And my brother sent me a great quote that hits me just right (since I'm a writer and often have seen my life as a story):

""But in order that life should be a story or romance to us, it is necessary that a great part of it, at any rate, should be settled for us without our permission. If we wish life to be a system, this may be a nuisance; but if we wish it to be a drama, it is an essential. ... A man has control over many things in his life; he has control over enough things to be the hero of a novel. But if he had control over everything, there would be so much hero that there would be no novel. ... The thing which keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities is the existence of these great plain limitations which force all of us to meet the things we do not like or do not expect. ... To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance."
- G.K. Chesterton, Heretics"

It's true.

Friday, November 04, 2011


Tim has the opportunity to go work with a great producer in Las Vegas. We have to find a way to get him down there and to pay for studio time.

We don't know anyone who has the full $2500 we need, but we do know over 250 people. If everyone we know can donate $1-$10 before Dec 4, we'll have enough to send him down there.

We set up a kickstarter:

If you have any spare, consider helping out? (There are rewards--if you go through Kickstarter, you're not actually donating $10, for example, you're actually buying $10 worth of music from Tim. Kickstarter is just a way for us to collect and dedicate the funds for this specific project).

Thank you!!!!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Pizzabet Soup

I invented a new recipe tonight!

It was really really good, too.

So I'm posting it so I can find it again. (I always forget the recipes I create....)

1 can kidney beans
1/8-1/4 tsp garlic powder (depending on how much you like)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp italian seasoning

Mix these in a large soup pot, mashing the beans slightly. Then add:

2-3 ribs of celery, split in half lengthwise and then sliced thin
2 carrots, split in fourths lengthwise and sliced into small triangles
1 tbsp minced dried onion or 1 med onion, minced
1 can crushed tomatoes
3 c water.

Bring this to a boil and then turn the heat down, cover, and let simmer for half an hour. Then add 1 beef bouillon cube and 1/3 c alphabet or tiny star noodles.  Return to a boil and cook 15 minutes or until the noodles are done.

Top each serving with:

grated cheese
2 slices of pepperoni, cut into fourths

and any other pizza toppings you like (olives would be fantastic).

Home Made Laundry Soap

On some social network or other I found a recipe for home made laundry soap. It was cheap, and the reviews were pretty good. And I discovered that two of my cousins make their own laundry soap, so I thought I'd try it.

The recipe I found was 1 c borax, 1c washing soda, and 1 bar of soap (preferably laundry soap because harsh soaps can destroy all the elastic in your socks, waist bands, etc.). You grate the soap and then stir all these things together until it looks like corn meal. The recipe said 5 minutes. It took a lot lot longer than that, and I ended up blending it in small batches in the blender. And then I was scared to use my blender because even though it's glass, it held on to the smell of the soap. Since borax and washing soda are both toxic, and nobody wants to eat soap, that wasn't very good for my kitchen blender.  The recipe insisted multiple times that you only need 1 tbsp for a load of laundry, or maybe 2 if it's a heavily soiled load. The people who really really loved it also mixed in a box of oxy-clean, but I figure if you're going to spend all that money (since oxy-clean is not cheap), you might as well buy Tide and not have to mix it all up.

The recipe source said these are all natural and safe ingredients, and, they concluded, therefore non toxic. It's not true. People so often forget that natural doesn't mean gentle, safe, or  nontoxic. Deadly nightshade is natural. So is poison ivy. So is radium. Borax has boric acid in it. Boric acid kills cockroaches and ants, and it's so toxic that you're not even supposed to breathe the dust that kicks up into the air. And washing soda is also used in swimming pools, and the swimming pool chemicals bag is clearly labeled poison. This might be all natural, but it's not nontoxic--and safe for what? Clothes? Kids to eat? That's just a nice phrase that is totally empty without elaboration. So it comes out a pretty white toxic powder that you have to keep away from your kids.

The first thing I discovered is that, while grating soap is surprisingly easy, I can't stir anything for well over 5 minutes straight. Even when I cook, I can take breaks. My arms just don't handle that kind of action. So it was really hard to get it mixed up properly. Also, I'm generally allergic to the perfumes they put into soaps. So when I grated that bar of Zote and released that smell, I wasn't a happy breather for a few days.

The next thing I discovered is that whoever decided you needed one tablespoon per load must have been washing for one, with the smallest load possible. I needed four times that to get moderately clean clothes.

So, the results?

About as good as using Sun brand laundry detergent (cheapest one in the store).  In other words, not great.

It only took one washing for all my whites to turn dingy. When your clothes are old anyway, having them go dingy is a bad bad thing. It makes worn clothes look ready for the rag bag--and we can't afford to throw everything that's worn away.

Heavy duty spots didn't come out--things like breast milk, baby spit-up, baby poop, food spots all required a second washing with a spot remover on them. My normal washing choice, Arm and Hammer, got those things out really well (although it didn't remove grease spots--but what does?!).  Since I am a nursing mom with a baby, a toddler, a very messy preschooler, and three big kids, not getting everyday spots out on the first washing was kind of a big deal for me.

Also, I just didn't feel like the clothes were really, deep-down clean. For one thing, Benji's underwear (which he pees in every single day still) didn't look clean. Even worse, they didn't smell clean. I'm not talking about "they lacked the perfumes detergents leave in the clothes." I understand that the perfumes are used to convince you that something is clean and it's all an artificial experience. The problem was, Benji's underwear still had a faint odor of urine around them. Just faint, but enough that I was afraid my poor kid was going to walk around attracting attention for smelling bad. And my clothes didn't smell really clean. Alas, sweaty person though I am, I don't really want a faint odor of homelessness to follow me around. Don't get me wrong--it was very very faint, and only on certain items, like my nylon garments.  But it was there and it said to me "I'm not clean."

Call me crazy, but I think I should be able to even press warm-from-the-dyer underwear to my face and smell nothing--not perfumes, not dryer sheets, and not people.

So I'm guessing by the smell that the people-dirt didn't wash all the way out, and I'm guessing by the dinginess that the soap didn't rinse all the way out, either. But I already run my laundry on a double rinse cycle, and with 6 kids, I can't really rinse it more than that.  Maybe that's why most people use detergent instead of soap? Just a guess.

So today I gave up and bought a big box of Arm and Hammer (why that, when I find that Tide gets things cleanest? Well, Arm and Hammer is cheaper than Tide, and it gets the clothes clean, and it's consistently good for rashy-skinned kids, like Daniel. Even better (by far) than the hypoallergenic-free-of-everything detergents. I think that might be because Arm and Hammer actually washes away more completely than the others.). I won't throw away the home made stuff. I'm just going to use it for what the boxes of ingredients say it really is: a laundry booster, not a detergent replacement.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Did I just read that?

A caption on a picture in an article about food on "Cellulose, or wood pulp, is an increasingly common food additive which allows foot to maintain a moist, smooth mouthfeel without adding sugar or fat to the product." (

Just in case you happen to put your foot in your mouth....

(It's actually an interesting article, by the way. Worth reading, despite the typo.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

No, No NaNoWriMo

I'm a writer and a writing teacher, and I have confession. I don't do NaNoWriMo. (That's National Novel Writing Month). Every November, lovers of writing take to their computers en masse to try to pump out an entire novel in 30 days.  That is, to try to pump out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

And I don't do NaNoWriMo.


Well, I have six kids. But that's just an excuse. Even with the kids, on a good day I can pump out 10,000 words. I don't have those days very often, but I could do 5 in a month if I made a point to do it. My record is 11,000 words in one day, three days in a row, while still caring for the kids. I can put out 1,000 words on the most heinous day. In fact, I write at least a 1000 words a day in my journal.

And it's not that I have no ideas. I have the first chapter written for six novels, outlines for at least a dozen more, and ideas for hundreds more. You can give me an object--any bizarre or mundane object--and it's likely I could come up with a plot, characters, and a setting for a novel based on that. Ideas are candy to me. (Not to say they are good ideas, but I have enough that I can afford to pick through them).

In other words, I have no trouble producing words or stories.

But I have a serious problem with someone interfering with the process. Sometimes I spend a day writing 11,000 words in my spare time. Other days, I spend all my free time pouring over a single sentence, trying to figure out how to get it to have the impact I want. Other days, I don't put my fingers to my keyboard at all, but spend the whole day wondering about a character, thinking through what would they do if ____ happened, or what it is about them that makes them a Bella (cardboard cutout placeholder in a story instead of a compelling, loveable/hateable person). Some days I spend time reading the first line (or middle aha moment, or climax, or introduction to a setting or character, or whatever) from every book I can get my hands on. Some days I sit and read influential novels, or great novels, just to take notes on how the great authors do it. Other times I spend a lot of time reading agents and publisher's blogs, getting tips on the business side of writing. Sometimes I edit (but never for friends--I'm a nitpicky, somewhat harsh editor, and I value my friendships too much. The question is always "Do you want to be my friend still, or do you want a good manuscript instead?").

The point is, all of these are important parts of writing, and I can't afford to have the process messed with so I can say I wrote a manuscript in 30 days. I already know I can do that, if I wanted, but why would I want to? What benefit would it have other than messing with the rhythm of my writing style?

Bottom line: I'm too busy writing novels to take time off to write a novel in 30 days.

The other reason I don't do NaNoWriMo is so petty that it's almost not worth mentioning, but it's a big deal to me. They define a novel as 50,000 words.

The problem is that's too long to be published as a novella by 20,000 words (and novellas are hard to get published anyway--nobody's reading those). And  it's 25,000 words too short to be published as a novel. So unless you write middle grade fiction, you are completely wasting your time writing something unpublishable. And it's not just the publishability of it. People don't sell 50,000 word novels (except in genre romance, actually) because 50,000 words is not enough to truly develop the "comic throughline" of the characters or the problem/solution or the mystery/quest or the conflict/resolution or any other aspect of a well-developed plot.

The 50,000 words makes the "novel" seem do-able to most people. If I did it, it would also make the final product half-baked.

So I don't do NaNoWriMo.

But for you who are doing it, have a fun time and good luck!

Benji says

For Halloween, he wants to be a butterfly. If he can't be that, he says he wants to be a cactus.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The religious question in marriage

This Archbishop has the same questions I do about the whole same-sex marriage debate: what about protections for religion and religious people?

Everyone says there isn't any threat to religions, but his experience (churches being threatened with lawsuits if they don't rent their facilities out for gay marriage ceremonies) is what I think is in the cards. That is, if we don't fight for our rights as religious people.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Snowstorms in fall=not good

That was an insane few days.

Ice and heavy wet snowstorm before the trees had dropped their leaves wreaked havoc in our city. At our house, an enormous branch fell off our giant cottonwood tree--12 inches or more across at the break, 50 feet up, covered a fourth of our yard, and the "Fringes" of it landed on Daniel with all the heavy snow that pulled it down. Somehow, it knocked him over but didn't hurt him. I, of course, freaked out because it could have killed him, and when all I could see was falling snow, coming down right on top of my son, after hearing the crack of the branch breaking....well, let's just say it was like living in one of my worst nightmares.

A few hours later, the power went out, and it was still snowing. Within 10 minutes, Tim left for Utah for a tour, so it was me and 6 kids with no car, no phone, and no electricity. By 3:00 yesterday afternoon, there was still no power, and it was getting cold in the house, so we prayed for the power to come on quickly and for us to be warm enough until it did. Five minutes later, a friend from the ward knocked on the door and said she'd come to take us to her house for the night. Phew. Rarely is a prayer answered so quickly and so dramatically.

Apparently the storm broke trees all over the city, knocked out power to 1200+ people, and they could only restore power en masse to 500 of those. The other 700 were in groups of 1-20 houses with no power, and they had to deal with each of those outages one at a time. The estimate for our house was 3 days, so it was another miracle that we got back into our house before 48 hours were up.

So we spent the night at our friends' and managed to get the kids to school, even, and sometime in the middle of the day, the power came back on at our house (but went off at another friend's house).

So we're back at home. And, by a series of several miracles, none the worse for the wear. Also very grateful and very determined to get emergency candles and a prepaid cellphone for emergencies like that. (We have a 911 cell phone for emergencies, but we need a "call a friend" and "call the power company" cell phone for emergencies, too--one of those $15 ones would work fine).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Business "cards"

Tim's new business cards came today.

They are kazoos with his web address printed on them.

He got them from Kazoobie Kazoos. Kazoobie are sponsoring Tim, and I'm glad. It means he has kazoos for his videos, in all colors. Plus an electric kazoo (for real!). And they are really really good kazoos. They are well-made (and all in America, too--the only brand of kazoos that aren't imported), and they have the best sound of any kazoo I've ever heard (and we've had lots of kazoos around here!).

So, to celebrate, a kazoo video:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Did I just read that?

"Missing WWII Airmen to Be Buried at Arlington With Full Military Honors"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Making Websites

My project for the last few months has been learning about how to make a website. I'm already fairly well-versed on design principles--I've taken design courses and Tim and I have spent hours analyzing design.

So Tim and I have spent the last month in fairly intense website redesign for his Mister Tim site.  I've learned how to edit HTML, and how to embed gadgets, pictures, text, calendars, mp3 players, and links on webpages.

The place I got hung up was finding a free mp3 playlist player that would work with google sites (where I'm doing all my design--because it's easier than WordPress--and then we'll attach the site to Tim's regular URL).  There are a lot of playlist players, and a lot of playlist creators, and nothing seemed to work with google sites because of their weird limitations on Java and Flash.

After hours of working on this, I finally figured it out!  You can pop out the music players on facebook band pages, and that gives them a unique url, which you can then plug into an iframe wrapper on google sites, and you have the same player running in both places! The big plus of this is you only have to update it in one place, and it automatically updates the player (including the picture) on both Facebook and the website. Phew.

Now on to the next challenge: Getting the dishes done.

Did I just read that?

"America's Declaration 'Illegal,' U.K. Lawyers Say" home page today. And the actual article's headline: "Declaration of Independence Was 'Illegal,' Grounds for Treason, British Lawyers Say"

Wow. Have they been pondering that for 235 years?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Did I just read that?

This is tricky. The caption under a picture on an article dated Oct 18, 2011: "Oct. 28, 2011: Ali Reza Shahsavari, 29, of Indialantic, Fla., is escorted by Amarillo Police and FBI officers after causing a disturbance on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Kansas City."

Apparently Fox News can tell the future! This is a photo taken next week.

Caleb says the greatest things!

Today at Scouts the boys were paired up to work on passing off requirements. Each pair was working with a leader, and Caleb and his partner worked with Tim.

Tim later told me that other boy in the pair, who is just as strong-willed and bossy as Caleb, was struggling to pay attention through the activity, so he was, when asked a question, tending to just repeat what Caleb had said, but he hadn't been paying much attention, so he repeated it imperfectly.

And apparently it frustrated Caleb--first that he was being copied, and secondly that he was being copied imperfectly.

So later I asked Caleb about it and he said, with a resigned tone in his voice, "Oh. Yeah. It was corrupted redundancy."

That phrase just made my night. Corrupted redundancy. I just love that phrase.

My 10 yo says the best things!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interesting article on Bible Translation

He lists 5 legitimate reasons English bible translations are often wrong.

What he illustrates but does not include on his list is the biggest one: incorrect doctrinal understanding coloring your interpretation of the words.

He says it's a problem to translate the phrase "God's hand" because God doesn't have hands! Well, there's your problem. If you lack understanding of the true nature of God (he, in fact, does have hands), or any other doctrine for that matter, you can really mess up the translation big time in trying to force it to make sense according to your understanding, instead of just telling us what the words say and letting us parse it out.

He also fails to address the fact that most modern English "translations" of the bible are actually translations of other, older English translations, which makes them multiples removed from the original text. So no wonder they're terrible translations!

There is also the issue of who is translating: a linguist or a religious expert? Are they translating the words or the doctrines according to their understanding? There's a lot more to it than just cognates, metaphors, historical traditions, etc.

He also doesn't give people enough credit for having brains. Nobody is going to misunderstand Shakespeare's "Juliet is the sun." It is not a lost metaphor in our culture. In fact, it's a very effective metaphor--we all know the sun is the source of light, of understanding, of heat, and of nourishment. We also know that saying something is the sun puts it in the highest esteem as the most important thing in your life. Any confusion there is imposed by a desperate writer struggling to find an example of a metaphor that no longer makes sense. (I might suggest the references to the angels troubling the waters at the pool of Bethsaida as a better illustration of what he ought to be talking about--not metaphor specifically, but all the loaded cultural references that make it so we don't get a joke from another language, even when it's translated, or so we start searching for metaphor when, in fact, all the locals at the time the text was written recognized common geographical locations, slang, objects, etc.)

You have to realize that translation is an effort of someone to express in their own language (including all its cultural references, etc.) something in another language. To "get" the King James Bible, then, we have to truly "get" both the original language and Shakespearean English. In other words, it helps to know what a cucumber frame is if you want to read Isaiah. And you have to remember that "turtle" was a dove in England at that time.

And you have to know that God has hands.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Did I just read that?

""We're the country that built the intercontinental railroad," Obama says. "So how can we now sit back and let China build the best railroads?""

Did we do that? I wonder how we got the tracks to float?

Today's project: DIY printing press

Okay, so it's not really a printing press.

I explained to the kids how a printing press worked in the good old days (like Gutenburg through the industrial revolution).

Then we got out abc noodles that I bought for $.80 at the grocery store (in the Mexican food section for some reason!).

We glued them onto paper backward and in reverse, and let the glue dry. Then we inked them with stamp pads and pressed a clean fresh paper down on the inked letters. The noodles are not all the same thickness, so you  have to press down pretty hard--hard enough that the paper gets a sort of reverse-embossed look to it. But the letters printed out nicely.

Fun projects!

You could print cards this way. Or make letter stamps by glueing the letters onto blocks. The hard part is that you have to press the paper onto the letters (instead of the letters on to the paper) that you want to print on. If the kids were older, I'd set them to carving new letters out of wood blocks, and we'd make a printing frame. But they're too little.

Did I just read that?

"Helping Hands collects milk from mothers who produce excess milk to create the fortifier, Estler said."

Perhaps if they had known it would be used in that sentence, the company would have picked a different name. As a nursing mother, I find that sentence rather...uncomfortable. What do those hands do again?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Campaign Finance Reform

If the Occupy movements can focus their ire on campaign and other political finance reform, I might just join up. That part of their message resonates with me and with a lot of other people.

I think there are a lot of problems. Poor people really can't run for president, or even congress, for example, because it costs too much.  But if you force all donations into a pool that it split evenly, then people don't feel like they are supporting the candidate who best reflects their own values and interests (and people should be allowed to do that). Lobbyists are another problem.  Earmarks are another. Taxes are another. Social Security and Medicare are another. All these money-based problems that we can't just keep putting bandaids on. Even outside problems, like Education, are tied tightly to funding issues. And when the funding is coming from someone with special interests, they expect they are paying for their way to be THE way, and in a lot of ways that's what's happening. Anyone with money can get things done in their favor, even at the expense of what's good for the nation, and that's what has Occupy mad. And in that, I agree with them. (Not so sure about their methods or lack of suggestions for solutions, though, and I'm still pretty sure they're throwing too many things into the pot and refusing to identify precise issues that can and should be I'm still not joining them.)

And any solution meets with resistance because the people who are benefiting from the corruption are the ones who make the laws. Hard to combat that! No wonder Occupy is mad.

I have begun to wonder if the solutions aren't deceptively simple.

What if all donations to all political candidates and parties were required to be anonymous and all donations had to be made via the internet or direct deposit into funding bank accounts--so no more fund-raising dinners, etc.? And what if the candidate ever found out who the money came from, they would forfeit it? I don't know enough about how the government works to know if this would cause other problems, and it doesn't solve the poor people can't get elected problem, but it would make it so candidates were not beholden to any one person or corporation. (Would it be too hard to enforce? What would stop someone from getting a phone call at midnight?)

What if all political candidates were limited in the amount they could spend, and all excess they raised (from their anonymous donors) was put into a fund to benefit poor candidates--or all candidates--in the next election cycle? Or the excess was all donated to reducing the national debt? (This would only work if the total raised for each candidate was kept secret until after the election cycle was over--so that people would keep donating to their chosen candidate even after they reached their limit).

What about a flat tax?

What about banning paid lobbyists? Or requiring lobbyists to only talk to their own representative or senator, who represents the area they actually live in?

Personally, I was delighted to get my municipal ballot in the mail this year (we do mail-in voting here, and I LOVE it!) and to find that there was no mention of political party on any of the candidates on the ballot, or on their own websites. So instead of having a bias based on their party affiliation, I was able to just look at their proposals and their qualifications to make my choices. It was refreshing! Is there a way to get that on a national level? Is there a simple, straightforward way to reduce the power of the political parties--because right now they have as much or more sway over the candidates in office as the corporations who fund the campaigns. Obama was totally a pawn of his party, as are most of the people in office right now--and Obama's attempts to think for himself have caused him serious problems. It almost doesn't matter what candidate you vote for because the party and the party bosses are actually in charge. So is there a way to minimize that power?

While I disagree with a lot of what Occupy does,  I think they will have done a great favor to the nation if they can get enough ire up to get these things changed (even if the ideas are coming from people who actually believe in solving problems instead of just complaining about them, and even if the change ultimately comes from people who occupy the polls and their representatives' inboxes instead of the parks). Because, really, do any of us like the good old boy system? I think only the good old boys do.

My new favorite brownie recipe

I've always been a box brownie girl. I make almost everything from scratch, but I just couldn't get the right brownie recipe--they were always too cakey or not chocolatey enough, or just too expensive (cream and baking chocolate? Sorry.).

But Dan was bored the other day, so I handed him a cook book. It happened to have a whole chapter on brownies, and the first recipe he picked came out pretty good, so he decided to try another. It was called "Marshmallow Brownies." No doubt he was thinking Rocky Road brownies, minus the nuts (since we don't do nuts around here).

What we got was something akin to fudge, in a brownie form. It's not a sticky-chewy brownie (although I love those), and it's definitely not cakey. It's just a nice, dense brownie with a fantastic dark chocolate flavor. No marshmallows in sight.

And no added sugar! But never fear, these are far from healthy. The main ingredients are marshmallows and chocolate chips. As the processed food industry has discovered, not adding sugar as an ingredient doesn't mean something has no sugar in it!

With marshmallows in the recipe, this sounds like a kids' treat, but it comes out quite elegant and not really  kiddie at all--in fact, it's too dark and rich for some of my kids.

So the recipe, modified. (I didn't change the ingredients, but I did change the process significantly. The recipe book was a pre-microwave one and the process was much more difficult. We use the  microwave to simplify things. I also changed the name. "Marshmallow Brownies" is accurate, ingredients-wise, but not accurate in regards to the final product or the "eat".).

Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies

1 1/2 c mini marshmallows
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c margarine or butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
dash salt

Put the marshmallows, chocolate chips, and margarine in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or minute, until everything is smooth. Let it cool. Then add the eggs and vanilla and stir until well mixed. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, in that order, and then stir until it's mixed. Pour this into a greased 9x9 pan (a perfectly square one, without sloped sides--these are usually old metal ones--makes a better brownie by FAR). Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

We topped these with the "frosting" suggested in the original recipe. It wasn't really a frosting, though. It was more like half-way between a frosting and a glaze.

Here's the recipe--again modified to make it easier, and also to use chocolate chips instead of baker's chocolate squares:

1/2 c mini marshmallows
1 tbsp butter or margarine
2 tbsp chocolate chips
4 tsp milk OR orange juice
3/4 c powdered milk

Microwave the marshmallows, butter, chocolate chips, and liquid (milk or orange juice) for one minute. Stir. Heat again at 30 second intervals, stirring between, until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and stir until smooth. Spread or pour onto the warm or cool brownies.

Let the whole thing cool and set up for a few minutes. You can still serve them warm--just not piping hot, or the frostinglaze runs off.  These were really really good with ice cream and fresh raspberries, although the chocolate flavor completely overwhelmed the raspberries. A good fresh raspberry sauce would have worked better.

Easy and worth it! These are so rich, though, that you really can cut them into 1" or 1 1/2" squares and it's big enough.

Worth Reading!

"The first dreams we ever had were to be held. And loved. And to explore this amazing world with love in our lives." Read it. Changes how you see parenting, doesn't it? Family IS the dream.

Read it. It's short.

"Because when we give up something for a time to make sure we're putting enough focus into our families, we're not giving up dreams. We're committing to our biggest, deepest ones."

"Make those dreams happen. And don't let anyone make you think you can't. But along the way, keep in mind that the best, most amazing, most rewarding and, ultimately, most fulfilling dream is the first one we all ever felt."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Did I just read that?

From here:

I guess that's why kids graduate from elementary school not knowing their math facts.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Baby formula causing diabetes and obesity?

I had not heard of AGEs before, but this seems like a legitimate scientific study, not some crackpot review by a guy selling his own herbs:

A Mommy Salary?

I don't know about the mommy salary thing, but I think this woman gets it:

"WL: I don't think they are, I just think that we need to create an environment that allows women to make the choices that they want to make. If women choose to have children, they must be able to have the support structure that they require to do that joyfully, so that we can bring up children who are healthy, because the opposite side of that is we have children who are growing up without parents.... Who are raised by nannies and that creates its own problems in society, so if I had to choose I would choose a society where women make the choice to be at home to bring up their children, because they know that contribution will be valued and secondly when they go back to work they won't be penalized for having taken some time off to go and bring up children. So it's really an idea that needs to be embraced by society, not so much for the benefit of women, but because we recognize that creating a society where children are properly brought up, preferably by their mothers, would create a much healthier society, a more stable society."

I love this quote, too, even if the editors at CNN used a comma where they should have used a semi-colon:

"The world was never changed by people who have normal ideas, the world is always changed by people who have absurd ideas."