Sunday, January 30, 2011


I got the same feedback from three different readers of three different ages with different tastes, so I couldn't ignore them.

Much thought and work later, I have the revised first chapter of my novel, for those who care to read.

You can read it here:

Or below, although the narrowness of the frame bothers me and I can't change it. It makes the paragraphs look REALLY long, which makes them hard to read.

Anda read it and said it's really two chapters. So here's my question: is this chapter 1, chapters 1 and 2, or chapters 1-3?

Bedtime? Please?

One gets contemplative and doesn't realize he's tired.
One gets ultra creative and also hyper.
One gets clingy and scared and starving.
One gets really busy.
One gets aggressive, tearful, and LOUD.
One gets hungry and needs to be held.

So I get grouchy.

Is it any wonder that bedtime, when the kids are tired, is chaos around here? Nobody actually gets SLEEPY.

Benji says....

Benji has a grammar all his own.

Today he said, "Mom, are you kidding of me!?"

Saturday, January 29, 2011

3 Year Olds Say Cute Things

Today, the kids spent all day watching Kirby, a Japanese cartoon based on a video game. After they watched it a while, they decided to play "The Doppelgamer"--a "let's play, let's play" game (in other words, live instead of on a screen) that they play that incorporates characters from all the books, games, and movies they watch.

Benji put on his superhero cape and ran into the room. He said, "Hey, guys, I wanna play with you. Can I be Uncle Joe?"

The kids said, "Sure." and went on with their game.

Benji fought invisible bad guys for a minute and then said, "Hey, I'm Uncle Joe!"

I thought it was so cute, but I had to ask, "Why is Uncle Joe suddenly a superhero?"

Anda explained it for me. One of the characters in the Kirby video they had watched was named "Knuckle Joe."

So now Benji, complete with Super Hero Cape and crime-fighting abilities, has been dashing around the house, saving the world.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Did I just read that?


"VAN! 87' Chevy G20 Conversion van - $1500 (Lakewood)"

Now That's a BIG van. I wonder how they park it?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I just have to say: Denver's Children's Hospital is FANTASTIC.

Colorful. Friendly.

They have nursing rooms.

They gave both boys who went with us today teddy bears.

We were there because we've known for 4 years now that Caleb has a facial tic, and, after some research, we were fairly confident that he had a movement disorder/tic disorder, both in his face and his voice.

But we needed the official diagnosis to be able to say to his teachers, for example, "Don't rush him or cut him off; he really does know what he has to say, he just can't get through it quickly because his vocal folds tic" or, to his dentist, "Don't get mad at him when he doesn't keep his mouth open or his head still--his face tics, and the more you insist on him holding still, the worse the tic will be."

So we went to a pediatric neurologist. We described Caleb, and the doctor and her medical student (who was doing her rotations) were both FLOORED by how brilliantly smart he is. The med student nearly fell off her chair when we mentioned that Caleb was editing Wikipedia when he was in Kindergarten, and copy editing my novel for me--correctly--when he was 5.

They also said we nailed it. Tic disorder that affects face and voice.

They also said that they don't treat tics in kids unless it interferes with their social life (if they get teased) or if it interferes with their academics. Caleb is fine on both counts (thanks to homeschooling, in part--other homeschooled kids are WAY more tolerant of quirks like tics than public schooled kids. In general.). We didn't want to do meds anyway--the reports we read all over online were that the side effects of the meds were much worse than the tics. And the doctor said most kids outgrow their tics by the time they're 20.

So, what  is a tic disorder? Think Tourette's. Only most kids with tic disorders do NOT swear. Caleb just has a nice big grimace that shows up, a head twitch, and he echoes syllables he's just said, like he is compelled to repeat them three or four times before he can move on to the next word. It sounds like he can't think of what to say next so he's just repeating what he already said, but really he knows exactly what he's trying to say. You just have to wait for his vocal folds to relax and let him say it.  We explained it to the other kids last year (when we became sure of what it was and it was very apparent to them that he was doing something) by saying that it's kind of like a sneeze. Only they only have sneezes in their noses. Caleb gets them in his facial muscles and in his words--he can't help it any more than you can help a sneeze, and it doesn't mean anything more than a sneeze. It's not a big deal. It's not catching. It's just part of who Caleb is.

So all the kids are totally okay with it and we mostly ignore it (partly because if we do talk about it, it makes him tic more, and that gets uncomfortable for him.).

The doctor asked if that bothered him, and he said, "No. I just keep going until I get to the end of the sentence." It really doesn't bother him.

Caleb is completely comfortable with his tic--he even makes jokes about it. I think that's partly because we never made it a big deal. Ever. Even when we had to sit the other kids down and tell them to STOP DOING THAT repeating syllables thing. They had all picked it up from Caleb and thought it was an appropriate vocalization meaning "I'm thinking"--the way the rest of us use "um". We just explained that Caleb can't help it, but they can and they shouldn't do that. Caleb was there, and he was okay with that.

For him, having a tic is kind of like having to wear glasses. Or having hair that stubbornly sticks up. It's just part of you and you live with it. No big deal.

Caleb is a cool kid.

Oh, and the doctor said he's "neurologically perfect. He just has a tic."  That's great to know.

It's also not catching.

But there is some evidence that it's genetic.

So that squinty blinking thing Benji started doing last month? Yeah....we're watching that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Did I just read that?

From fox news home page today: "Jewish Hockey Player Sues Ducks for Discrimination"

How medieval! 

(FYI: They used to send animals to trial in medieval times.)

The actual article takes it further: "Jewish Hockey Player Suing Anaheim Ducks for Religious Discrimination"

Only Disney Ducks--only for religious discrimination. Does that mean Donald  and Daisy Duck don't like Jews?  (how silly!)

Did I just read that?

Most outlandish claim I've seen in a Spam Email. I don't usually read them, but I had to make sure this one wasn't from a real person responding to a blog. Nope. Not real. Newton Izekor is not real, but he makes this wonderfully outlandish claim:

"God led me to your email and I know I’m blessed having to know you. "

So God is a Spammer? And possessing my email address is the same as knowing me?


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Did I just read that?


"And researchers believe it is largely due to inexperience -- which is preventable."

Not quite sure about this: how do you prevent inexperience? Hmm.....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Did I just read that?

Looking for a place I can buy and print just TWO 1099-Misc forms I can fill out, I found this:

"Free Forms
Find Free Forms at Great Prices."

Really? If you have to pay, how are they free?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Did I just read that?


"Female Vocalist Seeks to Create Intentional Band (Louisville)"

Since most bands are created falling down stairs. It just happens when you least expect it. And then BAM--you have to figure out what to do with all those drummers and guitarists again.

What I read today, and some quotes

"When Parley P. Pratt, in 1835, was judged unfairly, bringing embarrassment and shame to him and his family, the Prophet Joseph Smith counseled, “Parley, … walk such things under your feet … [and] God Almighty shall be with you.” "

"After tasting of the fruit, Lehi saw “a great and spacious building … filled with people … old and young, … male and female; and their … dress was exceedingly fine; and they were … mocking and pointing their fingers [of scorn] towards those who … were partaking of the fruit.” An angel explained that the mocking, the scoffing, the fingers of scorn represented the pride and wisdom of the world. Nephi declared plainly, “We heeded them not.”"

"Will we understand everything? Of course not. We will put some issues on the shelf to be understood at a later time. Will everything be fair? It will not. We will accept some things we cannot fix and forgive others when it hurts. Will we feel separated on occasion from those around us? Absolutely."

Friday, January 21, 2011

So, I read it

That Salon article I mentioned before.

A few thoughts, in no particular order:

It irks me that people keep citing that statistic that Utahns get more prescription anti-depressants to prove Mormons are all depressed and therefore hate their lives, or worse, that Mormon WOMEN are oppressed (because men never get depressed, right?). Here's the thing: Utah might prescribe more anti-depressants than anyone else. But it might not be the Mormons in Utah who are taking them. Maybe nonMormons in Utah get really depressed! Or it might be that because Mormons don't use alcohol or Marijuana to self-medicate for depression, we have to get the doctor-supervised kind of help. What's wrong with that?

Saddest idea EVER:

"And if they help women like me envision a life in which marriage and motherhood could potentially be something other than a miserable, soul-destroying trap, I say, "Right on.""

Who came up with the idea that marriage and motherhood are a miserable, soul-destroying trap? That's a horrible thing for our culture to believe. It's a thoroughly culture-destroying belief. Also, it condemns a whole generation of women to single, isolated, loneliness. And, dare I say this? It makes all these bright, educated women no better than prostitutes--living life alone and as sex objects when men "need" them rather than as equal partners, valued and adored and supported in pursuing their dreams (which is what marriage is supposed to be, and is for a lot of us), which is the exact opposite of what the feminists thought they were doing when they decided marriage and family are evil.

Why do I never self-identify as a feminist, even though I am totally in favor of so many things feminists fight for? Because the feminists were responsible for the greatest harm ever done to women: stealing from them the right and freedom to embrace and value the things that are unique to women: the roles of wife and mother, the ability to enjoy being pretty separate from being a sex object, the chance to embrace the experience of being all woman (by which I mean nurturing, creative, service-oriented, relationship-bound, emotional, busy...and yes, sometimes hormonal and sometimes pregnant). They've stolen everything valuable and left us, in the name of empowerment, with bitchiness and anything we can copy from men. In the name of freedom and equality, women have been forced to pretend they are men, and they can't do it any way except poorly because, let's face it--We aren't men. Why isn't that okay?

And, quite frankly, men aren't in any better position nowadays. They aren't even allowed to pretend they want to be married and faithful (because men can't--that's what they tell us--men can't be faithful because it's not in their nature), or even suggest they want to have children and to love and nurture and play with them (because any male who loves children is a pedophile, apparently). 

In trying to root evil out of our society (and there was evil, don't get me wrong--the feminists were fighting real problems, and still are), they also rooted out the good. Unable (or unwilling) to take the time to discover what healthy and what cancerous tissues look like, they excised the cancers of society by cutting out the heart. 

Now, even if people somehow managed to turn back to the natural way of living, they wouldn't know how to do it--how to be parents, how to be spouses. The traditional knowledge, lost, suddenly becomes more valuable than ever. And impossible to reclaim.

So sad.

Funny Kids

Nathanael, saying the alphabet very slowly and distinctly, gets hung up on the same spot all kids seem to have trouble: "j...k...l...m...MOE...p"

Nathanael also is trying to learn his nursery rhymes. He sings, "Tickery Tickery Dock. The mouse ran up the house. No. Tickery Tickery Tock. The mouse ran up the house.   No. Tickery Tickery Dock. The mouse ran up the clock. Tee Tee Tee. Tickery Tickery tock. A mouse ran up the house."

He'll get it right one of these times.....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Touring Life

One of the biggest challenges I found on tour with kids was birthdays or other celebration-worthy days. You can't skip a kid's birthday, and they want a cake.  And cakes, from the store, are SO expensive--and usually nasty.  We never could justify the cost--touring is expensive, and we're lucky if we bring home enough to pay the mortgage on our house at the end of two weeks.

The other thing I've noticed when we're on tour is that sometimes we just want a good old-fashioned home-cooked dessert, minus the artificial colors, preservatives, and overabundance of sugar. And sometimes I just want to bake.

So I finally found a good, easy MICROWAVEABLE cupcakes recipe, which also works for cake, and which is unbelievably fast.

One of the keys to cooking in a hotel room is keeping in mind that cleanup is not easy, and that we have to carry in anything we want to use, so we have limited kitchen tools on hand (only one glass bowl, for example). Almost everything we have must be disposable, and the fewer dishes we have to wash at the end of the day, the better. Also, we've discovered that hotel sinks are small and shallow, and many dishes don't even fit in them, which complicates washing and therefore cooking.

While almost everything needs to be disposable, we've also found that we have to keep garbage to a minimum--hotel rooms don't have large trash cans for a family of 8 to use.

This recipe uses minimal equipment, basic ingredients, and is easy. And it tastes good. Instead of frosting, top the cake/cupcakes with a scoop of ice cream or cool whip. Hotels all have different rules about fire in the rooms, but we figure if they don't get mad when people smoke in rooms (and they don't, no matter what their official policy is), they won't even notice if you light a birthday candle and then blow it out.

Cone Cupcakes/ Bowl Cake

10-12 ice cream cones, flat bottom kind
3 tbsp cocoa powder
½ c butter
½ c water
1 c flour
1 c sugar
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
¼ c buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt (or milk with 1 tsp lemon juice in it)
1 tsp vanilla

Put butter, water, and cocoa powder in glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave it again if the butter needs more time to melt, and stir again. Add, in this order and without stirring until the end, sugar, flour, soda, and salt. Stir well. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir for 1-2 minutes, until mixed. At this point, you can stick it in the microwave and cook it until it looks dry on top (I haven't done the whole batch before, so I don't know how long it takes. But 1 c in a small cereal bowl cooks in about 2 minutes). Or, spoon it into flat-bottomed ice cream cones (The kind that say “cake cones” on the box), filling to an inch of the top. Microwave for 1-1 ½ minutes (no longer, I caught one on fire microwaving it 2 ½ minutes). They're done when they look dry on top. 

Now you can have a birthday party, and, if you use the ice cream cones, almost no cleanup OR garbage to throw away.

Did I just read that?

All from the same article.

"She also started rigorous physical therapy, dangling her legs over her bedside to exercise her muscles and sitting in a chair for periods at a time. "

Rigorous chair sitting is my favorite therapy, although rigorous leg dangling isn't too bad.

"The cognitive ability and the speech are the key things," he said. "We know that she's moving her limbs. The question is, how strong is she."

Because limb strength always indicates cognitive ability and speech. That's why wrestlers and football players have such a strong reputation for.....hey, wait a minute here.......

"Giffords' family hopes to move the Arizona congresswoman on Friday to TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, where her husband lives and works as an astronaut."

I bet you didn't know hospitals kept astronauts on staff. Their job? Well, some patients are pretty spacey, especially when they're on narcotics.

"the wounded congresswoman stood up and looked a window"

Hey, now. Let's not be mean. So she had a bullet pass through her head and they removed part of her skull. No need to start throwing that "window" insult.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What I read today, and some quotes

" growing together in love and faithfulness, we can give children roots and wings."

"Having dwelt in flesh and subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, our Savior knows how to succor us, His people, in our pains, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, even death.  Having “descended below all things,”  our Savior can bear our griefs and carry our sorrows. “He was wounded for our transgressions, … bruised for our iniquities … ; [with our Savior’s] stripes we are healed.” "

"only our Savior’s Atonement transcends time and space to swallow up death, anger, bitterness, unfairness, loneliness, and heartbreak. Sometimes things go wrong even though we have done our very best. A Lamb innocent and pure, our Savior weeps with and for us. When we always remember Him, He can stand with us “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in.” His “faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.” In drawing us to Him, our Savior also draws us to our Father in Heaven. While some things are imperfect on earth, we can trust our Heavenly Father to complete “redemption’s grand design, where justice, love, and mercy meet in harmony divine!”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mormon Mommy Blogs, from an atheist POV

This is surprising--and happily, so.

"Self-proclaimed feminist and atheist Emily Matchar recently wrote for Salon about her "addiction" to such blogs, calling them strangely uplifting and even encouraging.

"Indeed, Mormon bloggers ... make marriage and motherhood seem, well, fun. Easy. Joyful," Matchar wrote. "These women seem relaxed and untouched by cynicism. It's not that (my friend) or I want to quit our jobs to bake brownies or sew kiddie Halloween costumes. It's just that for (my friend), Mormon blogs are an escapist fantasy, a way to imagine a sweeter, simpler life.""

But Marriage and Motherhood ARE fun, easy, and joyful. 

It's the only escapist fantasy you could actually join if you wanted to. Why not?

Anda is so cool

Just when I start to worry that I was totally off-base thinking I should be throwing my 7 year old into a college biology course, I get this.

She woke me up this morning with (and I quote. Directly. No paraphrasing at all.): "Mom, what are the symptoms of rhinovirus?"

What? Why?

I think I mumbled "Stuffy nose."

"Oh. Good," she said.

"Why? Are you sick?" I asked, coming more awake.

No, she explained. She's writing a comic, and the main character is a single cell, and the first episode is called, "Trouble in the nose."

In it, the Immune system sends Cellina and her dog, Nuclea, to battle rhinoviruses in the nose. And, since we were just studying the Lytic and Lysogenic cycles (virus "life" cycles), and also how the immune system works, I suspect she'll get it right and also exciting.

And I wasn't sure she was getting it.....

I love that homeschooled kids often come up with their own projects to show they are engaged in the material--no forcing, coercing, begging, pleading, or bribing involved. Just excited kids learning exciting things and applying them in cross-curricular ways. No teacher could ask for more!

What I read today, part 3:

"the only sure and secure road to protection in this life comes through trusting in and obeying the counsel from the prophets of God."

" We would do well to search out answers to our problems and questions by investigating what the Lord has revealed through His prophets. With that same technology today, we have at our fingertips access to the words of the prophets on nearly any subject. What has God taught us about marriage and the family through His prophets? What has He taught us about education and provident living through His prophets? What has He taught us about personal happiness and fulfillment through His prophets?"

" [Follow] … the living prophet and the First Presidency … and be blessed; reject them and suffer."

What I read today, part 2:

"So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism."

"Yes, faith is a choice, and it must be sought after and developed. Thus, we are responsible for our own faith. We are also responsible for our lack of faith. The choice is yours."

"By moving forward into the unknown, armed only with hope and desire, we show evidence of our faith and our devotion to the Lord."

"If confusion and hopelessness weigh on your mind, choose to “awake and arouse your faculties” (Alma 32:27). Humbly approaching the Lord with a broken heart and contrite spirit is the pathway to truth and the Lord’s way of light, knowledge, and peace."

"When logic, reason, or personal intellect come into conflict with sacred teachings and doctrine, or conflicting messages assault your beliefs as the fiery darts described by the Apostle Paul (see Ephesians 6:16), choose to not cast the seed out of your heart by unbelief. Remember, we receive not a witness until after the trial of our faith (seeEther 12:6)."

"As strong as our faith is, with all the mixed messages attacking it, it can also become very fragile. It needs constant nourishment through continued scripture study, prayer, and the application of His word."

"And because of faith I have personally witnessed a mountain of pain replaced with peace, hope, and gratitude."

What I read today:

He says, " Sisters, you are an essential part of our Heavenly Father’s plan for eternal happiness; you are endowed with a divine birthright. You are the real builders of nations wherever you live, because strong homes of love and peace will bring security to any nation. I hope you understand that, and I hope the men of the Church understand it too.

What you sisters do today will determine how the principles of the restored gospel can influence the nations of the world tomorrow. It will determine how these heavenly rays of the gospel will light every land in the future.4

May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don’t reach beyond your capacity. Don’t set goals beyond your capacity to achieve. Don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him, and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones. The virtue of your own life will be a light to those who sit in darkness, because you are a living witness of the fulness of the gospel (see D&C 45:28). Wherever you have been planted on this beautiful but often troubled earth of ours, you can be the one to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).

My dear sisters, as you live your daily life with all its blessings and challenges, let me assure you that the Lord loves you. He knows you. He listens to your prayers, and He answers those prayers, wherever on this world you may be. He wants you to succeed in this life and in eternity.

Brethren, I pray that we as priesthood holders—as husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends of these choice women—may see them as the Lord sees them, as daughters of God with limitless potential to influence the world for good."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Did I just read that?

From the Las Vegas Sun today: "Las Vegas sees record heat as high hits 74 degrees"

Las Vegas...record heat...high..74? That sounds like a record LOW for Vegas!

(I know, I know--I lived there. It's usually about 30 degrees all winter. But the headline still sounds funny.)

What I read today, and some quotes

" it is essential that values based on religious belief be part of the public discourse. Moral positions informed by a religious conscience must be accorded equal access to the public square. Under the constitutions of most countries, a religious conscience may not be given preference, but neither should it be disregarded."

" He pointed out that in societies where the citizens are taught from a young age to feel accountable to God for honesty and integrity, they will abide by rules and practices that, while unenforceable, promote democratic ideals. In societies where this is not true, there cannot be enough policemen to enforce honest behavior. "

"Let me be clear that all voices need to be heard in the public square. Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced. Furthermore, we should not expect that because some of our views emanate from religious principles, they will automatically be accepted or given preferential status. But it is also clear such views and values are entitled to be reviewed on their merits."

"We need to protect our families and be at the forefront together with all people of goodwill in doing everything we can to preserve light, hope, and morality in our communities."

Did I just read that?

From Fox "Jennifer Lopez, a presenter for the evening, covered up her long white dress in a shear shawl."

Latest fashion for the Golden Globes: the Barber Look! Now, is that a shawl covered with shears, or one shaped like a pair of scissors? It might have been she'd worn a red-and-white striped barber-pole pattern dress!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Some things never change....

My first post ever on this blog, September 20, 2006, ended with the question, "So do we have no home, or no Daddy?"

Funny how some questions never get answered.

4 1/2 years later, we're still asking that very thing....

Sad Note

Melody Yellowvan, our beloved 1996 Honda Odyssey, is on its last

We bought it in May 2006, used, from a nice Turkish family that were returning to Turkey. They fed us Turkish pizza--it had mashed potatoes and hot dogs on it, and I was genuinely surprised that it tasted good. Most expensive car we've ever owned, too--we had to use our whole tax refund plus borrow $2200 from my parents to pay for her, but we've owned her outright all this time.

In just over 4 1/2 years, we've put almost exactly 120,000 miles on that car, bringing the total miles up to over 250,000 miles. We've put on numerous sets of new tires. We had her fitted with a tow hitch and bought a little yuppie wagon trailer that she pulled, fully loaded with sound equipment when she was already fully loaded with people. In all of that, she's  had maybe 3 formal oil changes and one repair--to the power steering system when a part broke--and it had to be done twice. Because music is a tough business, she's had no new filter, no tune ups, no flushes or help of any kind. I think my Dad put new breaks on her once or twice.

Melody has been thrown up in, spilled in, colored, scratched, cleaned. One child drew a giant smiley face on her hood in permanent marker. She's been in a few fender-benders. We even made up a song about her that everyone in the family can and does sing.

In that time, we toured all over the West, sometimes with musicians and sometimes with kids in the car. We've gone from having 3 kids to having 6, bringing home three new babies in that van. We've lived in 4 houses in 3 states (beginning and ending in the exact same house). We've had trips to the church, school, library, grocery store, ER, dentist, doctor's office, airport, mountains, ocean, Grandma's house, weddings, funerals, duck ponds, friend's houses. We've had major discussions, and long quiet drives. The radio died not long after we bought her, and we never fixed it--and that's been a really wonderful, pleasant thing. The car became a kind of sanctuary for learning, discussion, and quiet thought. It's a place where Tim composed, revised, planned, dreamed, worked.

Unfortunately, no car can last forever. The tail gate no longer stays up. The inside driver's-side door handle is long gone (you have to open the window to let yourself out). The windows are scratched. The paint is dinged up. The front turn signal is missing entirely. It's been bumped, bruised, rear-ended (lightly, but more than once). And, as of this week, the engine is smoking like crazy, and it's going through a quart a oil a day. At least. And we're not driving it far each day.

With 250,000 miles on it, and without enough seats for our whole family anymore, it's getting close to time to say goodbye to Melody Yellowvan.

She's been a fantastic car--how many cars can take that much abuse and just keep going without needing either maintenance or repairs?

We'll miss her.

What I read today and yesterday

This again:
and this:
and this:
and this (I skimmed this):
and this:

Obviously, my mind was going all over the place!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Did I just read that?

From Fox News: "Motta de Lima came to find the body of four relatives presumed buried in the slide"

Multiple personalities? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

offensive! Warning!

I find this book offensive on so many levels. I can't even explain how much it grates against my soul.

Start with the title: "Children you want with the kids you have".  What? In other words, your kids don't measure up to your dreams, so instead of loving them, you're going to REMAKE them? That shows the ultimate disrespect for them, both as individuals and as creations of God. Besides, it doesn't work. It just damages the kids' psyches. How about loving, valuing, respecting the kids you have and helping them learn to deal with who they naturally are in the real world? Maybe you should get to know them instead of NOT WANTING them. Sheesh.

The description: "Do you want to know the secret of getting kids to work? Train them early! If you want your children to work together, finish their chores, complete their homework, and take care of their own personal hygiene and possessions, you have to train them. And it usually takes a helping hand and a few hints from someone who has "been there - done that." These suggestions, charts, and to-do lists from professional organize Marie Ricks will get you well on your way to having a clean home, a well-kept yard, and helpful, hardworking, on-their-way-to-being-independent children."

OH! So really the title should be "The SLAVES you want from the kids you have." That is more what this book is about.

Because, obviously, nobody wants a kid who has ADD, or is a little creative but also a little messy, or a kid who is busy programming computers and doesn't finish their chores, or a kid who has Asperger's.....

Because obviously all adults work together without stress, finish their chores before they do anything else, finish their housework every day.....etc.

Gosh, according to this, nobody wants my kids. Or ME. Or my husband--or anything he contributes to the world (like his music, videos, etc).

Newsflash: Creative people don't live this way. As adults. They don't work with other people. They don't finish chores if inspiration strikes. They lose their possessions--or give them away. And if you didn't have creative people in the world, doing everything "wrong," you also would have no music, art, books, dance, film....You want to live in that perfectly organized, clean, well-kept world? Sterile. No fun.

I don't even WANT a life like that. Might look pretty. And be pretty stifling. Not to mention stressfully impossible, and therefore confidence-shattering. Making that kind of organized the highest good destroys a lot of souls. Just sayin'. MOST of us can't live like that, and we waste a lot of energy feeling guilty about it. And this book is there to teach your children that THEY need to feel guilty about it, too, because if it doesn't come easy to them, then they are not wanted.

One of her chapters: "6. Obedience Is First, Honesty Is Second, and Their Bedroom Is Third"

Really? And here I am, busily teaching them that God is first. And everything else comes after, in a different order depending on the day and what the Spirit tells them. I guess I should put their bedroom in there somewhere. And start telling them that obeying me is more important than being honest. Because, after all, I am the most important thing EVER, and my instructions are always infallible and always have the greater view of what's going on everywhere.

I have issues with a lot of the things she says in the excerpt, too, but it's nitpicky.

It's probably a great book if you are a completely  uncreative person who needs a white-glove-approved house in order to think.

But for the rest of us? Nah....if you want clean, try the FlyLady instead. And WANT your children. As they are.

Did I just read that?

From Fox News today: "A spokeswoman for E.E. Pickle Funeral Home in Amory said funeral arrangements were incomplete."

Read more:

I just had to laugh.  A funeral home called Pickle? Where they show off preserved bodies?

I laughed, but also wondered--isn't it a bit disrespectful? The name, I  mean. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Did I just read that?

Boulder Craigslist "Good running van just need to fix speedometer and gas gauge not working, minor scratches on side of door. Won't last long."

If you're selling a used car, "Won't last long" is NOT what you want to say.  I don't want yet another used car that is going to fall apart not long after I buy it!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Living on Tour

I started this blog initially to document what I thought was a rather unique set of experiences we were having: going on a music tour with the family in tow.

Not many people end up on tour with a musician at all, much less with children coming, too. Especially a bunch of children.

So I thought, since there are no further tours on the horizon for me and the kids, I probably ought to write down a few of the things I learned so I don't forget them if it ever comes to touring again.

When you hit a hotel for one night on the way to somewhere, or when you're staying in a hotel as part of a family vacation, you don't do it the same as when you're on tour.


Because on tour, that's daily life. It's not a vacation. It's not that we saved a bunch of money and budgeted in eating out every night. It's not even that we got to choose our own hotel. We go where they booked rooms for us, and stay in the rooms they chose (usually not ones I would pick), and, since we have all these kids coming along, we try our darndest to make it feel like real life because it turns out that it's not fun to be on vacation all the time in a place you wouldn't choose to go. Plus, for the kids, it's just another day doing something we've done a lot of times before. It's not so strange to stay in a hotel. It just means we get to watch TV, something we don't do at home. Ever.

We don't even generally go out and see the sights in the towns we stop in like I thought we would. For one thing, it's expensive--most places of interest charge you to get in, and that adds up REALLY fast when you have 8 people coming along, and there are not a lot of free places anymore. For another, it's easy to get lost. And, the biggest challenge, it's not time off for Tim. He's always working when we're on tour. So that leaves me taking six kids anywhere we go by myself, and Benji doesn't handle that well, and neither do I (normally, when the whole family goes out, we divide the work: one adult takes Benji. The other adult takes the other five kids.). Besides, who goes out every single day? Nobody. Mostly we like to just have a day, with a regular routine. Same as at home. We do try to do something cool in each town we go to--important to make memories, same as at home. We don't try to do something amazing every single day.

So, for this first "living on tour" blog post, I'm going to put in the list of things I always wish I had when I get to a hotel room. You'd think I'd always remember all these things, but I usually get there and go, "Shoot. I forgot ____ again." Maybe writing up the list will help!

--First Aid Kit (including allergy meds, bandaids, antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, sunscreen, bug spray, baby and kid medicines, ibuprofen, hand lotion, etc.)
--A roll of duct tape (for emergency repairs as well as for things like covering outlets so the babies don't get hurt)
--a night light, especially now that we always try to ask for two adjoining rooms.
--a card of thumb tacks (because hotel curtains never quite reach the wall, and consequently don't darken the room well)
--a package of strong safety pins in various sizes, including large skirt-pin size (because the curtains never meet in the middle, either)
--The Kitchen Kit (more on this later)
--Cleaning, disinfectant wipes like Clorox wipes OR a large bottle of "hanitizer" (alcohol-based hand sanitizer) and paper towels for cleaning up with
--Swimming kit (suits and life jackets for all kids, not packed with the other things and not even brought in unless the hotel has an appropriate pool).
--Activity kits in backpacks or duffle bags, one for each kid to carry in, but for everyone to share (things like a bag with blocks, one with legos, one with art supplies and coloring books, one with small games, one with hotwheels and tracks, one with "character" toys, one with books....stuff like that) so that we can do something besides watch TV all day. We've also contemplated taking the nintendo, but a lot of hotel TVs don't have the right hookups.
--ziploc bags in two sizes: gallon and sandwich
--laundry soap
--the "desk" kit (scissors, pens and pencils, envelopes, paper)
--the magic jack (hotels always have a phone, this lets us get calls and make calls on our regular number for free)
--dustbuster style hand-held vacuum
--the School Kit (including a laptop with a wireless card AND .pdf assignments just in case of no internet access, the math books, everyone's work notebooks, pencils)
--and the usual clothes and toiletries that you need to live.

When we're on the road a lot, I just leave all of these packed (including the toiletries bag) and have duplicates of the things we use every day that stay at home. It's a whole lot easier than trying to pack and unpack and repack and unpack. Maybe that's why I keep forgetting the same things, like the thumb tacks. They aren't in the bag!

Did I just read that?

From Kickstarter today: "We need to raise $ 8,000 by March 13th to help pay for the production of "Living Without Money" "

Apparently they didn't watch the movie.....

(I know the niece of the subject of the film--that's how I found this....funny.)

What I read today, and some quotes

This is one of my favorite pieces of counsel ever given by a general authority in conference:

"Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions."

I LOVE Elder Uchtdorf's talks.

"There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity "

"My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Let us be mindful of the foundational precepts our Heavenly Father has given to His children that will establish the basis of a rich and fruitful mortal life with promises of eternal happiness. They will teach us to do “all these things … in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that [we] should run faster than [we have] strength. [But] it is expedient that [we] should be diligent, [and] thereby … win the prize.” 7Brothers and sisters, diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world."

"He is our Father. He desires our happiness. As we seek Him, as we learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, as we open our hearts to the influence of the Holy Spirit, our lives become more stable and secure. We experience greater peace, joy, and fulfillment as we give our best to live according to God’s eternal plan and keep His commandments."

"we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e,time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities. We establish a divine bond with each other as we approach God together through family prayer, gospel study, and Sunday worship."

"Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light."

Friday, January 07, 2011

Did I just read that?

On the Medicaid Recertification Paperwork I was filling out tonight: "Is anyone in the household fleeing a felony? ____yes ____no.  If yes, name: ___________"

Who on earth would check YES?

Today I read this

"To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes (see John 17:1, 4D&C 19:19). In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny."

"all honest work is the work of God. In the words of Thomas Carlyle: “All true Work is sacred; in all true Work, were it but true hand-labour, there is something of divineness. Labour, wide as the Earth, has its summit in Heaven.” 3"

"Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God. A consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires."

I love that the menial, repetitive work is also important and valuable in building the kingdom of God. We forget that sometimes.

"Music, literature, art, dance, drama, athletics—all can provide entertainment to enrich one’s life and further consecrate it. At the same time, it hardly needs to be said that much of what passes for entertainment today is coarse, degrading, violent, mind-numbing, and time wasting. Ironically, it sometimes takes hard work to find wholesome leisure. "

I often need to be reminded that what Tim and I do (music and writing) ARE valuable to God. They aren't a waste of time. If good people don't make good art and music and literature, etc., then we have nothing left but the coarse, degrading, etc. If more righteous people made wholesome stuff, maybe it wouldn't be as hard to find it!

" In like manner future generations will take courage from your consecrated life, acknowledging their debt to you for the possession of all that truly matters."

The first ten pages. Again.

Over the last 6 years, as I've been learning to write, I've posted (or posted links to) the first five to ten pages of my manuscript over and over. If you go back and look it up, you'll see the development of the book as I've learned to write. Also the development of my writing. It's been quite a process. I've never (ever) taken a class in writing, and I didn't write a single word of fiction until I graduated from college just after my 20th birthday--and then I wrote 4 novels and took 5 years or so off from writing long fiction even though I enjoyed it. So I was kind of starting from scratch.

First I wrote, using Brenda Ueland's advice to write fast and furious and just tell the story with as much honesty as possible.
Then I revised.
Then I queried agents and used their comments to rewrite.
Then I researched manuscript format, length, etc. and cut 100,000 words (yes, the first draft was WAY too long) from the ms. This is actually a good writing practice skill that I used to have my students use: write, cut by half, rewrite to double the length, cut by half again. Just for practice.
Then I researched more: everything I could find about publishing, getting an agent, working with agents, manuscripts, contracts, copyright, querying, summarizing, etc.
Then I revised again, found an agent to work with (but never signed with her) and rewrote according to her specifications until I realized she was aiming for "Twilight" and I didn't want to write for adults.
Then I spent a year reading classic children's literature.
I threw away my manuscript and started over with the understanding that my heart and soul wanted to write for children (well, junior high kids), not adults or even teens. I rewrote from scratch.
I revised.
I spent a month reading modern children's literature.
Now I'm rewriting again with what I've learned.

This time, I think I might have finally "got it".

In keeping with "tradition" and also the idea that the blog archives can't reveal my progress if I stop posting it, I'm posting the link the google doc where the first ten pages are hiding right now.

The Poison Spindle Problem, Chapters 1-2

Feel free to read. You can even comment if you want (gasp! Do I dare?).

My goal that I hope I've accomplished? It's finally done and I can move on to the story about the art forgers and the story about the dragons--and the cave-dwellers who keep them on ice.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Did I just read that?

From Fox News today: "Thanks to the fluctuations in the force, the airport has closed its primary runway until Jan. 13 to change taxiway signs to account for the shift, the Federal Aviation Administration said."

Read more:"

Thank goodness they changed the signs. Now the Jedi can still find the landing strip and hold their convention in Tampa.....

Did I just read that?

From today: "Deer survives deadly encounter"

If he survived, then it wasn't very deadly, was it?

I suppose "Deer survives what should have been a deadly encounter but wasn't" is too long for a headline, though.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What I read today, and some quotes"

Quotes I liked from this talk:

"Before we can teach the gospel, we must know the gospel."

"When Hyrum Smith desired to be a part of this great latter-day work, the Lord said to him, “Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.” 10 "

" is of utmost importance that we exercise our agency and act, without delay, in accordance with the spiritual promptings we receive. President Thomas S. Monson taught: “We watch. We wait. We listen for that still, small voice. When it speaks, wise men and women obey. Promptings of the Spirit are not to be postponed.” 16"

Conference Talks

At my dad's suggestion, I'm trying to re-read the conference Ensign from November (October's Conference). I'm not staying very on top of it, though, so to help myself keep at it, I'm going to start posting here the talk that I'm reading. I might add a few quotes or thoughts, or just the link.

Feel free to read along and add your favorite quotes or thoughts in the comments.

Here is the link to the whole conference:

And the talks I already finished:

And what I'm reading today:

Did I just read that?

From today: ""Then I just immediately started balling," she said. "I never cried before in my life."Read more:

Two things--what was she balling up right after childbirth? (The person who transcribed this and the editor should have realized it was the more common word--bawling.)  Also, she never cried before in her whole life? How did she get food when she was a newborn?

Monday, January 03, 2011

I found a New Year's Resolution!

Okay, so I decided to make a resolution.

That is:

This year I want to:

Embrace my strengths
Accept my handicaps
And go from there.

Nice article on marriage

Actually, I thought this was common knowledge about marriage--

My experience (in what I would class an excellent marriage) bears out the research reported in the article.  Tim and I are both happy; we fill each other's need and enrich each other's lives. Making him happy  makes me happy, and vice versa.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Did I just write that?

Sometimes I find the most amusing sentences in my own manuscripts! After reading a bunch of childrens and YA fiction, I've been going through my novel and seeing how it compares, livening it up, and generally making it so I like it again (so I can hopefully put it away and move on!).

Also, I've been finding bad sentences and fixing them.

Sentences like this:

"The gingerbread smelled really good after eating so many blackberries."

Pray, tell--how does gingerbread eat anything?

I guess I am not immune from writing nonsense now and then.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Goals=an artificial attempt to convince ourselves to do things we are unmotivated to do (perhaps because we really don't want to?).

New Year's Day=a reasonable time to examine your life and decide what needs to change.

The thing about resolutions, though, is we are almost always destined to fail that them because we can see what we want to change, but there is no even cursory examination of WHY we want those things to change and why we haven't changed them yet.

For example, how many people set the goal to lose weight? Maybe almost everyone? But do they ever ask Why am I overweight? Why do I want to lose weight? If I care so much, why haven't I done it? It seems like the answers to those questions would be integral to the success of the endeavor. And, if answered honestly, the questions might also reveal our greater desires. Do we really want increased health and energy by losing weight, or are we after greater social acceptance and power? And if it's social acceptance we want, perhaps a little counseling and a few superficial changes or behavioral changes that are easier to make would help us achieve the real goal better than a doomed diet-and-exercise plan we don't want to follow that doesn't make us feel good.

Without a greater understanding of what we want and are trying to do, the old habits will persist and the resolutions will fail. Very few people have the will power necessary to do something difficult simply because they decided to. And what's the value in that, anyway?

Generally speaking, I avoid making New Year's Resolutions. My idea is that the day a problem becomes apparent is the day you should resolve to fix it and do whatever self-examination is necessary to make the change--that is the moment of greatest motivation, after all.  Likewise, we should be re-examining our lives frequently, not just once a year, and resolving to fix things that might not have come up as a "problem". If I understand it correctly, we are supposed to be doing this before Tithing Settlement, Temple recommend interviews, when we get callings at church, and, quite frankly, every week in preparation for partaking the sacrament. YES we need something to remind us to examine-and-resolve, but it should happen a lot more often than when a giant lighted ball drops. Frequent re-examination also helps you stick with your resolutions--and weed out the ones that are unimportant or impractical.

Choosing resolutions this way helps me focus my resolutions on the things that my limited energy really should go to, rather than superficial or artificial things or things that really aren't practical to "goal."

So if I were to make New Year's Resolutions, what would they be?

Not to have a clean house, but to care less if it's messy.
Not to lose the baby weight, but to enjoy the baby.
Not to read my scriptures for more hours or more pages, but to get more out of them when I read.
Not to make more money, but to be more thankful for the money we have.
Not to eat less junk, but to enjoy food more.
Not to talk to the kids more, but to listen to them more.
Not to have less fighting in the house, but have more playing together.
Not to get more exercise, but to do more things I enjoy doing.
Not to get more done, but to listen to myself more and do the things that I will say, when I'm 90, I'm glad I did that (and, honestly, do I think having cleaner toilets are going to be on that list? No.).
And to stop feeling guilty for the stuff I think I maybe ought to have done but didn't do.

There isn't time in life to waste on things that won't matter in the long run. So why make resolutions to do those things?


Daniel has surprised me lately. I have always known he was a math guy and also that he had a knack for buildings and processes and the ways things fit together. (When he was 9 months old, he examined the door at my mom's house and discovered that the threshold was held down by screws, which he immediately set to work trying to remove so he could get the threshold off....had he been using a screwdriver instead of a ball-point pen as his primary tool, I have no doubt he would have dismantled the whole thing!)

Now that he's 5, he also has the verbal ability and the confidence to express mathematical concepts. Turns out he has a really good spatial mind.

For example, yesterday he was in the kitchen playing with a toy sled that's about 2 feet long. There were two chairs on opposite sides of the kitchen. He held the sled up, like the beginnings of a bridge between the chairs, and said, "It would take about three of these sleds to make a bridge between the chairs." Just eyeballing casually.  And he was right. Anda and he measured, and it took about 3 sled-lengths (3 1/2 to be exact) to reach from chair to chair. He could just SEE that. I am so bad at distances, so I was duly impressed.

But then today I was even more impressed. I was explaining to him the concept of paying postage by weight for an overseas flight to get his picture to his Grandma on the other side of the world in Portugal. He listened and comprehended. Then he held his hands up as if he were holding an imaginary ball. "The easy way," he said, "would be to slice the world here, right in half." He showed me with his hand, cutting his imaginary ball into two pieces, pole-to-pole. "Then just turn this half around, and we'd be touching her and could just give it to her." He showed me with his hands, manipulating the pieces in the air so deftly that I could see what he was seeing.  Practical? No. But the fact that his 5-year-old brain could dissect a world and manipulate the pieces so that two points on opposite sides were closer together--that's some impressive geometry. Especially for a guy who is just supposed to be learning that you can combine groups to make larger groups.

He says he wants to grow up to be an architect. I believe him.